Connor Battle Turned Tide for Arapaho

The Connor Battlefield Monument. (Photo by Pat Blair)
The Connor Battlefield Monument. (Photo by Pat Blair)

Sheridan Media continues its look at the local sites that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This week, reporter Pat Blair selects one of the area battlefields as her focus.

Soldiers and Indian scouts under command of Gen. Patrick E. Connor attacked a peaceful Arapaho village on Aug. 29, 1865. They killed 63 Arapaho, including women and children, and took 18 women and children captive.

No physical evidence of the battle remains, but the Connor Battlefield State Historic Site in Ranchester – listed on the National Register of Historic Places since August 1971 – marks the battle ground. This is where about 500 Arapaho, led by Black Bear and Medicine Crow, were camped when Connor led the attack. Most of the Arapaho warriors were away at the time, in a raid against the Crow, leaving mainly women, children and old men to face Connor's soldiers. The few warriors left in the camp retreated, covering the escape of women and children. Connor and 30 of his men, including Pawnee scouts, pursued, but once the women and children were safe, the warriors counter-attacked, and Connor was forced to retreat.

A major result of the battle was that the Arapaho, until then inclined toward neutrality, allied with the Cheyenne and Lakota Sioux in the Indian Wars. In the immediate aftermath, 100 or more Arapaho attacked a wagon train on the Tongue River on September 1, and held the train under siege for two weeks, until Connor came to the rescue.

The state historic site today includes 20 camping and picnic areas in an oxbow of the Tongue River, shaded by large cottonwood trees.
Amenities include two restrooms, a playground, and horseshoe pits.

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Looking into the historic site from the bridge on the Gillette Street side. (Photo by Pat Blair)
View of the Tongue River just outside the battle site. (Photo by Pat Blair)
Playground at the Connor Battlefield State Historic Site. (Photo by Pat Blair)
Informational sign at the entrance to the historic site. (Photo by Pat Blair)