'Where's the Wall?'

'Where's the Wall?' (HM1MSV)

Location: Fort Laramie, WY 82212 Goshen County
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Country: United States of America
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N 42° 12.396', W 104° 33.406'

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Fort Laramie National Historic Site

It is one of the most commonly asked questions here - and with good reason. Those who grew up watching western movies expect to see a fort with a large wooden stockade. Like many other aspects of Hollywood westerns, the walled military fort makes for better entertainment than good history.One reason Fort Laramie lacked a wall was that timber was not abundant. The other reason had to do with the combat style of the Plains Indian Warrior, who relied on mobility and preferred fighting on horseback in open terrain to siege warfare. The army quickly recognized building walled forts was unnecessary and expensive. The military did, however, construct temporary fortifications here. The linear depression in front of you is all that remains of a rifle trench built in 1865.In February 1865, Cheyenne and Lakota warriors attacked Mud Springs Station, 105 miles east. A detachment of 172 soldiers left to relieve the station, leaving Fort Laramie dangerously undermanned. Construction of three artillery emplacements linked by rifle trenches was ordered in response.A fortified adobe redoubt built the following year further strengthened the defenses and doubled as a corral and teamsters' quarters. Two hexagonal blockhouses stood at opposing corners of the eight-foot-high adobe-walled enclosure. Concern about attacks subsided after the 1868 treaties were signed and the defensive trenches rapidly fell into disrepair.
Rifle Trenches
Evidence indicates that the rifle trench would have looked similar to the illustration at left. Excavated earth formed a protective berm in front of the trench, with bags of corn probably placed along the top to provide extra protection. A firing step was fashioned along the front wall of the trench. Archeologists believe that soldiers lined much, if not all, of the trench with wooden planks. The rifle trench did not impress all, however. One soldier observed:     . . . works like the ones they are making are of no benefit whatever, as they will never keep Indians out of the Fort . . . . It is a well-known fact that the great danger is not in their attacking forts; but [that] they are continually on the watch for small squads, who may be out some miles from assistance . . . This is the way which Company K lost two brave and noble boys . . .
Placed ByNational Park Service
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, August 12th, 2015 at 1:01pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)13T E 536588 N 4672810
Decimal Degrees42.20660000, -104.55676667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 42° 12.396', W 104° 33.406'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds42° 12' 23.76" N, 104° 33' 24.36" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)307
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling East
Closest Postal AddressAt or near Co Rd 53, Fort Laramie WY 82212, US
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