Fort Buford
Fort Buford was a United States Army base located at the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers in the state of North Dakota. It is famous for being the location where in 1881 Sitting Bull surrendered. Company C, 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry, 70 enlisted men commanded by Capt. (Brevet Lt. Col.) William G. Rankin, first established a camp on the site on June 15, 1866, with orders to build a post; the only tools they had to do it with were the company axes. The fort was named after John Buford, a Union Army cavalry general during the American Civil War. On July 28, Fort Buford's garrison was redesignated as Company C, 22nd Infantry. The second night after arrival the camp was attacked by Indians, who were driven off with one soldier wounded. The next day the Indians attacked and attempted to drive off the company's herd of beef cattle, but were repulsed and two Indians killed. Indian attacks upon the camp were of almost daily occurrence during the summer and fall. Parties of men cutting and rafting logs from the mouth of the Yellowstone were often attacked and driven to camp, where the fighting often lasted from two to six hours with losses on both sides. Three civilian wood cutters were killed at the mouth of the Yellowstone in December. Lieut. Hiram H. Ketchum with sixty men reacted, drove off the Indians and recovered the bodies with slight loss to his detachment. According to the regimental history, the Indians boasted that they intended to annihilate the soldiers and during the winter besieged the post; the troops were virtually cut off from water (the Missouri River) and had to sink wells near the quarters. Captain Rankin's wife spent the winter in camp, enduring the hardships and dangers with the troops. The harassing raids led to the perpetration of a hoax, the "Fort Buford Massacre", purporting that the fort had been wiped out, Capt. Rankin captured and tortured to death, and Rankin's wife captured and abused. The hoax was eventually exposed by Rankin himself. The episode began when the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story April 1, 1867, based on a letter allegedly written from the fort, which was then picked up and run the next day nationwide. It was given "legs" by a letter published April 6 in the Army and Navy Journal , attributed to the wife of a prominent Army officer, confirming the massacre. Although by April 4 many newspapers had begun to question the validity of the report, The Chicago Daily Times , Detroit Free Press , New York Daily Tribune , New York Times , and Boston Herald , among others, continued to feed the rumors with further stories for another month, many of them accusing the Army and the Johnson Administration of covering up the massacre. Fort Buford was expanded in 1867 and again in 1871”“1872 from a one-company 360-foot square frontier stockade to a six-company infantry post, and became a key element in the supply route for the military campaigns of 1876”“1877 in Montana. The end of the Indian wars and the remoteness of the post resulted in its deterioration, and it was abandoned by the Army on October 1, 1895. Today the North Dakota State Historical Society runs Fort Buford as Fort Buford State Historic Site.

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