In 1863, a party led by John Bozeman blazed a trail from the North Platte River, northwest across the Powder River Basin and along the foothills of the Big Horn Mountains to the gold fields of Montana. Established in violation of the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie, this incursion into Indian Country precipitated the Powder River Indian Wars between 1865 and 1868, as the U.S. Government and several Indian nations battled for control of the region. By 1866, the government had established three forts along the Bozeman Trail in an effort to protect miners, emigrants and freighters traveling to the gold fields. Fort Phil Kearny, laid out in July of 1866 in the now peaceful Piney Creek valley, played a pivotal role in these campaigns. Almost immediately, with forces amassed along the Tongue River near present day Sheridan, Lakota leader Red Cloud began his assault. As the U.S. Army struggled to complete the fort before winter, feed a poorly provisioned provisioned garrison and protect over 1000 travelers on the Bozeman Trail, Red Cloud's men attacked nearly every civilian wagon train, military supply train and work detail. This culminated in the Fetterman Fight of December 21, 1866 in which the U.S. Army suffered a resounding defeat at the hands of the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho. The three Bozeman Trail forts were abandoned by the United States under the terms of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty, as control of the Powder River Country was once again ceded to native nations. Today, Fort Phil Kearny, the Fetterman Battle site, and the Wagon Box fight are National Historic Landmarks, signifying their critical role in Indian and United States history.