Location of Ft. Keogh, Montana

Location of Ft. Keogh, Montana
Location of Ft. Keogh just west of the Tongue River at its confluence with the Yellowstone River. Note the map label of Milestown across the Tongue River. Although being a fond local moniker, it never was an official name for Miles City.

Subject:

“Location of Fort Keogh, Montana (Montana Territory at the time of its establishment).”

Statement in question:

“Col. Nelson A. Miles established this new post [Fort Keogh] on September 11, at the confluence of the Little Bighorn and Yellowstone Rivers.”

In August, 1876, Colonel Miles laid out a military reservation ten miles square on the west side of the Tongue River at its confluence with the Yellowstone River. Originally called the Tongue River Cantonment (TRC), it was named Fort Keogh in 1878 after Captain Miles Keogh who was killed at the Little Big Horn.1

East, across the Tongue River from Fort Keogh was Miles City, Montana. According to author Lorman L. Hoopes, from its meager beginning in 1877, Miles City reached a population of 1,250 in 1882, and had soared to 2,200 by 1884. And a year later boasted an estimated five hundred building, both private and public.2

“Looking West on Main, from Seventh Street,” Miles City, Montana Territory, 1881. (L.A. Huffman, photographer. Coffrin’s Old West Gallery, Miles City, Montana.)

Fort Keogh was a twelve company post with a total garrison of 2,600 men. This made the fort twice as large as Fort Abraham Lincoln which was a six company post. Not as well know as other forts during the Plains Indian Wars it was nevertheless a key post during the post-Little Big Horn Sioux Wars. The amount of supplies required to keep the troops garrisoned and fed always amazes.

Records indicate that Miles City and the Post were doing a thriving business, and not just some out-of-the-way hick town of the era. When bids were let for army contracts for the original TRC it listed the need for “6,630 cords of soft woods; 5,000 bushels of charcoal; 2,450,000 lbs. of oats; 1,225,000 bushels of corn; 2,928 tons of hay.”3

ENDNOTES

  1. Lorman L. Hoopes, This Last West: Miles City, Montana Territory, and Environs, 1876-1886 The People, the Geography, The Incredible History (Helena, Montana: SkyHouse Press, 1990), 120. Hereafter, Hoopes, This Last West.
  2. Hoopes, This Last West, 236-241.
  3. Hoopes, This Last West, 345-346.
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