Connor Battlefield

External Resources:

Official Website

(307) 684-7629

Site grounds open year round, weather permitting

Connor Battlefield State Historic Site

Located in Ranchester of I-90, this was the site of the Battle of Tongue River between the Army and the Arapahoe tribe. It was the singlemost important engagement of the Powder River Expedition of 1865, and caused the Arapaho to ally with the Sioux and Cheyenne at the Fetterman Fight a year later. The park has picnic areas, a playground, overnight camping facilities, fishing access as well as historic interpretations.

Site facilities

The site consists of 20 camping and picnic sites nestled in an oxbow of the Tongue River in the shade of large cottonwoods. There are two restrooms, a playground, and horseshoe pits. Each camping and picnic site has a grill and table and two sites are ADA accessible. 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.

Brief History

In the summer of 1865, General Patrick E. Connor led a column of troops from Fort Laramie into the Powder River Country of northern Wyoming. The Powder River Expedition’s mission was to make war on the Indians and punish them, so that they would be forced to keep the peace. On August 28th, with the column located on Prairie Dog Creek, Pawnee Scouts arrived with information of an Arapahoe village encamped on the Tongue River. Following a night march with 250 soldiers and 80 Pawnee Scouts, Connor’s force attacked Black Bear’s Arapahoe village while the Indians were in the act of packing to move. The soldiers overran the camp and pushed the Indians 10 miles up Wolf Creek. The Indians fought a desperate rear guard action, protecting their families and eventually forcing the soldiers to withdraw. During this action, other soldiers burned the camp and its supplies, making it a funeral pyre for their dead. Indian casualties included 64 warriors and several hundred ponies. As the soldiers withdrew the Indians advanced, recapturing several of their ponies, and continued harassing the column for several days. Connor’s column marched back to Fort Laramie following the establishment of Fort Connor on the Powder River near present day Kaycee.

Things to Do

The visitor is encouraged to enjoy the peaceful surrounding of this campground/picnic area. It provides a base for short visits to surrounding historic sites and the Big Horn Mountains. Fishing is excellent as the Tongue River abounds in trout and whitefish.

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