Tuesday, January 12, 2010

North Dakota Wagon Train

Back in the 1800’s wagon trains were extremely susceptible to being attacked, generally by Indians, and these attacks are where several legends of buried treasure begin.

This article takes us to spot along the Montana and North Dakota borders. In 1864 a man named James Fisk was leading 200 men in an eighty wagon train to the gold mines of Montana. They were able to con the Commander at Fort Rice into giving them a small military escort to protect them from the Indians as they traveled.

On September 2, 1864 the wagon train ran into some problems when one of the wagons turned over in the gully of Deep Creek, about one hundred and thirty miles west of Fort Rice. When the wagon train stopped to upright the wagon the one and only Sitting Bull and 100 Indians attacked. The fight raged on for days and in two different locations a few miles apart. During the first attack at the location where the wagon had overturned several of the men and soldiers were killed and Sitting Bull was wounded, taking a bullet in his hip. I can just imagine how mad Sitting Bull was from one of the soldiers shooting him in the ass!

As the battle went on the survivors managed to make there way to where the rest of the wagon train had circled the wagons, about a mile from the overturned wagon. The Indians did not follow and they thought the attack was over. Unfortunately for them, they were wrong. Once they were on the move again and had traveled just a few miles the Indians attacked again. This battle was worst than the first and in total, the men in the wagon train fought the Indians for eighteen days. During the fight the Indians manage to snag a couple of wagons that contained rifles, ammunition, liquor and cigars. Nothing but the essentials!

What remained of the wagon train was rescued by a group of 900 soldiers that had been dispatched to the scene from Fort Rice. A few of the men were able to sneak away from the attack one night and had gone to Fort Rice to enlist the help of the military. By the time the military had arrived to help the men of the wagon train the men had built several sod walls to protect them from the attack. The men of the wagon train called their sod walls Fort Dilts, after a scout who was killed in the initial attack named Jefferson Dilts.

When all was said and done there were several men from the wagon train and several soldiers that had been killed along with six of the Indians and the wounding of Sitting Bull.
Now to the treasure part of the story; it is said that when the first attack started several of the men in the wagon train buried their money for safe keeping. One of these buried treasures was supposed to be $40,000 in gold coins that a man was traveling with so he could open a store upon his arrival at their final destination. More than one of these treasures were left behind either because of the death of the owner or because the rescuing soldiers didn’t want to stick around long enough to let the men recover what they had hidden.

If you go looking for this one the site of the main battle should be easy to find. There is a small marker identifying the site. You should be able to find it off of Highway 12 a few miles west of Rhame, North Dakota.

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