BOZEMAN AVANT COURIER/ MONTANA TERRITORY—SEPTEMBER 11, 1874 [BLACK HILLS EXPEDITION—SIOUX INDIAN WAR, 1876-77].

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Item Code: 998-2115

Vol. 3—Number 30. 4 pp., 19 x 25.5”, seven columns. Exhibits slight fold-marks, one slight 1” tear, front page right margin. Else Vg plus & entirely legible.

Located in southwest Montana, east of the Big Horn Mountains, Bozeman was named after John Bozeman, who blazed the Bozeman Trail in the early 1860s and established a tiny settlement there in 1864.

This paper is dated a few days following the return of the Custer Expedition into the Black Hills area of South Dakota, for the purpose of scouting a potential location of a fort, and the determining prospects of gold mining in the Black Hills area. Page 2 contains two items directly related to the Black Hills, and the white settler/Indian tension that would eventually escalate into the Great Sioux War of 1876-77.

The first is “Sheridan’s Black Hills Order”, dated Chicago, Sept. 3rd, sent to General Terry in St. Paul, MN:

“Should the [civilian] companies now organizing in Sioux City and Yankton trespass upon the Sioux Indian reservation, you are hereby directed to use the force at your command to burn the wagon trains, destroy the outfit, and arrest the leaders, confining them at the nearest military post in the Indian country. Should they succeed in reaching the interior, you are directed to send such force of cavalry in pursuit as will accomplish the purposes above named.{However] Should Congress open up the country for settlement by extinguishing the treaty and rights of the Indians, the undersigned will give cordial support to the settlement of the Black Hills.”

In other words, in the wake of the Custer expedition, it seems to Sheridan a foregone conclusion that Congress will soon extinguish Indian treaty rights and open the Black Hills to white settlement, a development which he cordially approves.

The second item is a letter to editor by “H. O’D.”, dated Bozeman, September 8th, which reflects settler desire to move into the Black Hills as quickly as possible (in expectation that Congress will soon set aside Sioux treaty rights):

“Expedition to the Black Hills— Mr. Editor. In anticipation of another expedition for the purpose of unearthing the hidden treasure of the Big Horn and Black Hills country, I believe the time has come for the men of Montana to rally and be the first to take the field. By making this place the point of concentration, a powerful expedition can soon be organized…Any expedition at going into that country, from any point, at any time of year, may expect trouble from the Indians…”

Writer “H. O’D.” goes on to suggest “a force numbering 500 men, armed and provisioned for at least 60-75 days.” In an obvious appeal for recruits, he closes his letter as follows: “In saying what I have attempted, I have tried to represent to your readers an expedition which would be short, sharp and decisive. Send in your names to our energetic and worth Secretary J.V. Rogert.”

This Bozeman Courier also contains some choice items of tongue-in-cheek western frontier humor. For example:

“ A chronically healthy Texan editor leaves a most unprofessional inference to be drawn from the following statement: He says that the doctors were all away last summer to attend a medical convention. They were absent about two months, and on their return found all their patients had recovered, the drug stores had closed, the nurses had opened dancing schools, the cemetery had been cut into building lots, the undertakers had gone to making fiddles, and the hearse had been painted and sold as a circus wagon.”

A fine frontier-army Montana collectible, containing Black Hills expedition references, pertaining the Little Big Horn summer soon to come.  [jp]

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