Fort Phil Kearny


Fort Phil Kearny

An American Saga

New Edition

Dee Brown
Introduction by Shannon D. Smith

276 pages
16 illustrations, 1 map, index


April 2022


$21.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

The U.S. Army built Fort Phil Kearny in the foothills of Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains in 1866 to protect travelers on the Bozeman Trail headed to Montana’s gold fields. The need for this protection arose because the Bozeman Trail cut through the heart of the last bountiful hunting grounds of the Lakotas, Northern Cheyennes, and Northern Arapahos. The incursion by gold seekers led to direct competition with the allied tribes for food and supplies, and a series of violent encounters culminated in the Fetterman Fight on December 21, 1866, in which the army suffered its worst defeat on the northern plains until Custer’s defeat at the Little Bighorn ten years later. The battle became a cause célèbre and was the subject of a congressional investigation.

Based on army records and firsthand reports, Dee Brown’s Fort Phil Kearny: An American Saga was the first detailed account of the battle and the loss of Lieutenant Fetterman’s eighty men. Shannon D. Smith provides an introduction to this new edition.

Author Bio

Dee Brown (1908–2002) was the author of several novels in addition to his nonfiction books, which include Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West, The Gentle Tamers: Women of the Old Wild West (Bison Books, 1981), and The Galvanized Yankees (Bison Books, 1986). Shannon D. Smith is the former executive director for the Wyoming Humanities Council and taught at Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for seven years. She is the author of Give Me Eighty Men: Women and the Myth of the Fetterman Fight (Nebraska, 2008).


Praise for the original Bison Books edition of Fort Phil Kearny: An American Saga
“This meticulously documented book . . . , based on army records and firsthand reports, should stand as definitive. [It] is, by far, the best account yet of Fort Phil Kearny and the stirring events that took place. . . . A must for devotees of Western Americana.”—Robert Hannon, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“For the first time we have the detailed story of all the little fights that preceded the major disaster. . . . It is one of the best studies that has been made of any sector of the Indian Wars.”—Don Russell, Chicago Sunday Tribune

“This is an excellent introduction to the period we know as the Indian Wars as well as a prelude to the major disaster a decade in the future.”—Military Affairs
“Brown has resisted the temptation to argue disputed points in detail. He has marshaled the facts, allowing the documents to speak for themselves.”—Westerners Brand Book

“[Dee Brown] has always been a highly gifted storyteller, in the best sense of the word, as well as a careful historian. He is aided here by the nature of his material. . . . This is a vivid portrayal of the period, and it is a book where perhaps the cliché ‘hard-to-put-down’ may for once be justifiably used.”—English Westerners’ Tally Sheet
“The scholarship is surpassed only by the engaging style which in toto makes Fort Phil Kearny a most readable book.”—Journal of the West

"Engaging and well written."—Steven C. Haack, Journal of America's Military Past

Table of Contents

I. April: Moon When the Geese Lay Eggs
II. May: Planting Moon
III. June: Moon When the Green Grass Is Up
IV: July: Moon When the Chokecherries are Ripe
V: August: Moon When the Geese Shed Their Feathers
VI: September: Drying Grass Moon
VII: October: Harvest Moon
VIII: November: Deer Rutting Moon
IX: December: Moon When the Deer Shed Their Horns
X: January: Moon of Strong Cold
XI: Aftermath