Men Of The Bighorn Expedition 1863
Fifteen men set out on the Bighorn Expedition of 1863 under the leadership of Captain James Stuart. Several of the men who were part of the expedition became quite famous, for both good or in one infamous case, bad deeds. For instance, Samuel T. Hauser, one of the main organizers of the trip, became territorial governor of Montana over two decades later.
While George Ives became a notorious road agent, who helped give rise to the vigilante movement. He was executed less than two years after traveling down the Bighorn. The following is a listing of all fifteen men who took part. Three died of wounds incurred on the trip, several of the survivors lives are cloaked in obscurity, while a few met with modest success.
James Stuart - made the first major gold strike - along with his brother Granville - in Montana at Gold Creek in 1858, elected first sheriff at Gold Creek in 1862, appointed physician at Fort Peck agency in 1870, died of cancer in 1873.
Samuel T. Hauser - born in Kentucky, suffered a wound to his left breast during the night attack on May 12th, after the Bighorn Expedition he took part in the 1870 Washburn Expedition which explored what would become Yellowstone National Park, president of the First National Bank of Montana in Helena, from 1885 to 1887 he was territorial governor of Montana.
George Ives - became a notorious road agent, robbing and murdering travelers to the gold fields around Nevada City, his activities started the vigilante movement in Montana, was found guilty of murder and hanged on December 19, 1863 at Nevada City.
Henry T. Geery - struck in the left shoulder by an arrow during the night attack on May 12th, on May 14th accidentally triggered a shotgun while unpacking some blankets, this shattered his left shoulder, he then committed suicide.
Ephraim Bostwick - shot five times during the night attack on May 12th; once in the shoulder, three times in the right thigh, and once in the left thigh.
Cyrus D. Watkins - mortally wounded in the left temple during the night attack on May 12th.
Henry A. Bell - shot twice in the ribcage during the night attack on May 12th.
John Vanderbilt - born in New York, distant cousin of railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, worked a variety of jobs during his life including as a carpenter, rancher, freighter, and miner, many years after the Bighorn expedition he finally settled in small town of Norris, Montana
A. Sterne Blake - after the expedition married a Shoshone woman, was one of the first settlers in the Bitteroot Valley western Montana, elected the first state legislator from Missoula county.
Drewyer Underwood - one of the organizers of the expedition along with Hauser, survived bullet wound from night attack on May 12th, lived on until 1891 when he passed away in Kansas City
George H. Smith
Did You Know?
Fort C.F. Smith, was the most isolated of the posts which guarded the Bozeman Trail. Active from August 1866 to July 1868, it was under constant threat from the Sioux and Northern Cheyenne tribes during Red Cloud’s War. The U.S. government was forced to abandon the fort and trail. Some historians have called this conflict, “the first war the United States ever lost.” More...