Connor Battlefield Historic Site - Ranchester

Jul 28, 2017

The Connor Battlefield Historic Site consists of 20 camping and picnic sites nestled in an oxbow of the Tongue River in the shade of large cottonwoods. Connor offers a quiet, relaxing campsite, away from the hustle of the road in the peaceful shade of a river bottom. Community facilities are within a few blocks, and yet a visitor would never know it. Camping sites operate on a first-come, first-served basis, without reservations. Camping is seasonal. The park closes to camping and vehicles on October 31.


The introduction and first day diary entry from An Account of the Connor Battle from the diaries of Captain H.E. Palmer from August 23-28, 1865 are included below:


No Indian wars battle stands alone. All had roots in years previous as the white frontier moved relentlessly westward, pushing the Plains Indian tribes into increasingly less territory. This caused conflict with the white intruders and increased that which had already existed for many years among the tribes.

It was the job of General Patrick E. Connor, Commander of the Powder River Expedition, to make war upon the Indians and punish them so that they would be forced to keep the peace. Guides for the Connor expedition included famous frontiersmen Jim Bridger and Mitch Boyer.

The Arapahoe village of Black Bear is often considered non-belligerent by historians today, though by reading Palmer's diary it is apparent that the soldiers were not aware of this.

Connor's attack was probably influential in causing the Arapahoe to attack the Sawyer Expedition shortly after, to ally with the Sioux and Cheyenne at the Fetterman Fight the next year near Fort Phil Kearny, and to fight at the Rosebud Battle and the Battle of the Little Bighorn more than a decade later. The far reaching effects of these conflicts continued into the development of the reservation system (which placed the Arapahoe Tribe on the Wind River Reservation west of the Big Morn Mountains) and into relationships between tribes and non-Indian governments today.

A monument at the site in the southern end of the parkā€¦.

The Powder River Expedition

Excerpts from the Palmer Diaries of Aug. 23, 1865:

"the Big Horn Mountains lying right to our front, seem to be within rifle range, so very near that we could see the buffalo feeding on the foothills; the pine trees, rocks and crags appear very distinct, though several miles away. Fourteen miles from Crazy Woman's Fork we struck the Bozeman wagon trail, made in 1864....from this point on to Montana, in fact along the whole base of the Rocky Mountains to the British Possessions, the country is perfectly charming, the hills all covered with a fine growth of grass, and in every valley there is either a rushing stream or some quiet, babbling brook of pure, clear snow water, filled with trout, the banks lined with trees, wild cherries, quaking asp, some birch, willow and cottonwood. No country in America is more picturesque than the eastern slope of the Big Horn Mountains."

Courtesy of the Connor Battlefield Historic Site web page

& An Account of the Connor Battle from the diaries of Captain H.E. Palmer from August 23-28, 1865. Fort Phil Kearny/Bozeman Trail Association.