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The Fetterman Massacre (formerly, 'Fort Phil Kearney: An American Saga) Paperback – September 1, 1970

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The Fetterman Massacre (formerly, 'Fort Phil Kearney: An American Saga) + The Wagon Box Fight: An Episode of Red Cloud's War + Forts of the Northern Plains: Guide to Historic Military Posts of the Plains Indian Wars
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This meticulously documented book . . . , based on Army records and firsthand reports, should stand as definitive. [It] is, by far, the best account yet of Fort Phil Kearny and the stirring events that took place. . . . A must for devotees of Western Americana."—Robert F. Hannon, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
(Robert F. Hannon St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

"For the first time we have the detailed story of all the little fights that preceded the major disaster. . . . It is one of the best studies that has been made of any sector of the Indian wars."—Don Russell, Chicago Sunday Tribune
(Don Russell Chicago Sunday Tribune)

About the Author

Dee Brown is the author of several novels in addition to his nonfiction books, which include Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, The Gentle Tamers: Women of the Old Wild West, and The Galvanized Yankees.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 259 pages
  • Publisher: Bison Books (September 1, 1970)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803257309
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803257306
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #867,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Chris K. Wilson on February 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
Before historical author Dee Brown penned his ultimate and most famous work "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee," he was out hiking in the sticks, so to say, with his carefully researched "The Fetterman Massacre."
Formerly known as "Fort Phil Kearny: An American Saga," but re-named "The Fetterman Massacre" to emphasize the most famous battle which took place at the cursed frontier fort, Brown's work is a carefully researched examination of the few fatal years of existence of a small cavalry outpost located in the foothills of the Big Horn mountains in 1865-66. When reading this work today, it is extremely difficult to imagine the terrible conditions these men lived under on a daily basis.
Sent by the U.S. government into a hostile land that belonged to the Sioux and Cheyenne Native Americans, these soldiers built a fort along the Montana Road to protect travelers and prospectors. But harsh weather conditions and the ever-present threat of furious Native American warriors offended by the placement of this fort in the heart of their ancestor's land, eventually led to the infamous massacre.
On the morning of Dec. 21, 1866, Captain William Fetterman led 80 men out of Fort Phil Kearny to rescue woodcutters under assault by Red Cloud's Oglala Sioux. Crazy Horse, among others, set a decoy trap for Fetterman and his doomed troops, and as they rode over a hill were attacked and killed to the man in a furious battle lasting about 20 minutes. This massacre eventually led to the dismantling of the fort, a Congressional investigation, and the destruction of Kearny Commander Henry Carrington's military career.
When reading Brown's novel today, one realizes that the situation Carrington was forced into was an almost impossible responsibility.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By rocksc40@ix.netcom.com on December 12, 1997
Format: Paperback
I found Dee Brown's book on this military history to drag a bit at the start,but by the middle of the book I was pulled in by the intensity and detail of his research. A vivid and brutal account of the way of the west in the mid-19th century. From the cunning stealth and strength of the leader Red Cloud,to the meticuliousness and orderly fashion of Colonel Henry Carrington, who through him and sub-ordinates(Fetterman) misdecisions,led to an combined victory of Sioux,Cheyenne,and Arapaho. Dee Brown's detail and account of this pre-cursor event to Custer,should be read by every sincere western historian.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Rough Customer VINE VOICE on August 18, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a real page turner, the real history reads fluidly and is not static boring historical accounts, but rather reads more like a story...you can almost feel the music and tempo increasing as the Indian attacks grow more frequent, .....isn't history fun in retrospect? Knowing now that Crazy Horse led the Fetterman attack, we know that he was there during these days watching each day as the fort was built. The military did a really outstanding job of planning every detail of how things were done, from building the fort with logs planed on two sides to how the wood trains would go out in two columns 100 yards apart with outriders. Using flag signals, to alert the fort as to Indians on one road or another. The Indians used mirrors to signal, and then started using flags to signal mocking the army's use of flag signaling. The horror of the men who were killed or captured....great book....get it today...
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 22, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book finishes with incredible events that were set up at the beginning. It shows that this fight is where all the western stories in Hollywood originated; and is a real page turner as the Indians increase their activities. It will leave you impressed, both by the history you have finally learned, and the hardships endured by all parties involved. This is western history at its best.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Kevin M Quigg VINE VOICE on May 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
The Fetterman Massacre occurred right after the Civil War. On the Montana Road, the commander Colonel Carrington was detailed to build and staff three forts in Montana and Wyoming. The Sioux and other Indian tribes led by Red Cloud laid seige to the forts. The Indians laid a trap and when one Captain Fetterman went beyond his orders, he and his troops were killed and their bodies mutilated. Dee Brown doesn't paint a pretty picture of the Army's decision to blaim Carrington or the Indian habit of butchering people. The only one who comes out positively is Colonel Carrington. I would agree with the earlier reviewer that the book starts out slowly, but it builds toward the climax of the battle and the aftermath.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bob HYN on April 6, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this too long ago. For those who love deeply researched, but accessible writing, this is the book. Honestly, I cannot remember the last time I couldn't wait to get back to a book written so long ago.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JP Mac on March 14, 2014
Format: Paperback
Fascinating description of the U.S. Army's 1866 construction of Ft. Phil Kearny and the subsequent massacre of a detachment that left no survivors. Based on Army records and firsthand accounts, the narrative builds to an ambush by two thousand Sioux of Captain William Fetterman and his 80 cavalry and infantry.

While hardened veterans of the Civil War, Fetterman and most of his officers had no experience fighting Sioux and Arapaho, but plenty of confidence in their own martial abilities. At the same time, Fetterman's commanding officer had no Civil War combat experience, thus was held in low-esteem by several subordinates, including Fetterman.

Events surrounding the ambush bookend this history, but much of the tale involves traveling across the prairie from Nebraska to the site of the fort in Wyoming Territory. Soldiers had been encouraged to bring their wives and these women kept diaries. Author Dee Brown expertly weaves their observations into the story, providing a valuable peek into the beauty and harshness of life on the frontier almost one-hundred and fifty years ago.
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The Fetterman Massacre (formerly, 'Fort Phil Kearney: An American Saga)
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