Our next stop, the Wagon Box Fight site, was not far from the site of the Fetterman Fight. A drive along rural roads through seemingly residential and private property led us to the site along the foot of the Bighorn Mountains, in a quaint little valley surrounded by piney draws and creek-beds.
The location was kind of hard to find because, although guided by GPS and street signs, you are passing peoples houses and wondering if you are headed down the right road or if you’re going into someone’s back yard or pasture. Nevertheless, we arrived, following the dusty path to the monument site.
We parked in the round parking area and followed the small teardrop shaped cement pathway to the monument, reading the information on the stops along the way. Off the cement path was a recreated wagon box that would have been similar to the ones used in the battle and a roped off section where they estimate the rest of the wagon boxes were laid out. Further down the path from there is the original monument site.
The actual location of the site had been disputed, as eye witness accounts from survivors differed. The different locations have been decided by such accounts, along with forensic and ballistic evidence found at the site. Remains of bullets, spent ammunition & arrowheads helped more modern investigators decipher where the actual site most probably lied, thus explaining the location of the new monument.
The fact that such a small group of men was able to repel a much larger force impresses me, although it’s not that surprising considering the advantage they had in weaponry. But after the Fetterman Fight the year before I’m sure it felt like a victory for the Army and civilians.
I know I almost always say this, but I found the Wagon Box Fight site fascinating. Looking around and imagining what it may have been like, wondering exactly where the fighting may have taken place. Thinking of the bravery of the men defending themselves against a much larger Native force, and the bravery of the Natives defending their way of life despite being out-gunned.
That’s what I love about historical sites. To visit a place and just know that this (whatever it may be) happened here. And you get to stand here, learn about it and imagine what it was like. It’s almost like living in a story.
What: Wagon Box Fight Monument
Who: History Buffs, looky-loos
Where: Outside of Story, WY
When: You should be fine to visit no matter the weather.
How: Driving, most likely, or possibly biking or horseback.