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Fremont County Museum System

Camp Stambaugh August 20, 1870 to August 17, 1878

On May 4 1870 First Lieutenant Charles Stambaugh was shot out of his saddle by hostile Native Americans; he had been defending a party of freighters carrying hay in the Sweetwater district. He was mounted on a high-quality horse so he pursued the attackers ahead of the rest of his men and was ambushed.


Gold had been discovered at South Pass about 1868 about the same time Chief Washakie signed the treaty of Fort Bridger giving his people, the Shoshones a reservation that stretched from South Pass to the Owl Creek Mountains.  Since Washakie’s band only numbered about 1200 people Washakie had requested a military presence to protect his people from hostile Sioux, Arapaho and Crow Native Americans before he agreed to move his people to the new Shoshone reservation.


Camp Augur was established in 1869 where Lander is located today along the Popo Agie River to protect the Shoshone. A small community known as Push Root took hold around Camp Augur and produced vegetables, meat, milk and eggs for the soldiers and the miners on South Pass.  A year later Camp Augur changed its name to Camp Brown.


Because of increasing native hostilities, it became apparent a larger military presence was needed to protect miners and settlers in the Sweetwater mining district. The new military outpost was established in Smith’s gulch between the gold towns of Miner’s Delight and Atlantic City and close to the Oregon Trail in August of 1870.  It was named Camp Stambaugh in honor of the fallen soldier. The camp was constructed of logs and could house up to two companies of soldiers. A company is roughly 100 to 150 soldiers. The Camp had enlisted men’s barracks, officer’s quarters, stables, a hospital, a bakery, grain house, blacksmith, carpenter shop, sutler’s store, store houses, parade ground, post office, and telegraph office. Later, a church was added to the camp.


Initially, Camp Stambaugh was staffed by Company B of the second Calvary out of Fort Bridger and was commanded by Major James Brisbin. General Douglas MacArthur’s father server for a time at Camp Stambaugh.


Many of Lander’s early leading citizens had ties to Camp Stambaugh. P.P. Dickenson one of Lander’s founders was a quartermaster, The Noble brothers ran freighters thru the area, Noyes Baldwin served and later started a mercantile in Lander, Captain Nickerson, started at the camp, and later owned the Lander Hotel. Robert Hall ran the telegraph and later took up land in Lyon’s Valley. His wife Amelia Lyon was the first school teacher in the area.


In 1876 a Shoshone scout rode to Camp Stambaugh to report General Custer’s defeat at the battle of Little Bighorn. The news was relayed to the world from the telegraph office of Camp Stambaugh by Robert Hall.


As the gold played out in the Sweetwater district miners and settlers left the gold fields the population plummeted. Many of them moved down into the Popo Agie river valley. Hostilities with the Native Americans decreased and Camp Stambaugh was closed in August of 1878, and the property was turned over to the Interior Department. Robert Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s son was the secretary of war and signed the orders decommissioning Camp Stambaugh.


In the early 1880s the Interior Department sold off the buildings of Camp Stambaugh. Some of the buildings were sold and moved down to Lander. The Methodist thrift store warehouse and AP Pawn in Lander are some of the old Camp Stambaugh buildings.

 

Today the site of the old camp is on private property, and there is little left of the old camp that defended the frontier in the early days of the Wyoming Territory.

 

Next up for the Fremont County Museums

 

November 14th at the Riverton Museum, “What’s the Deal with J.B. Okie” by Zane Fross

           Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series


December 7th at the Dubois Museum, “Christmas Open House”


December 7th at the Pioneer Museum, “Old Fashioned Christmas”

           Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series


December 14th at the Riverton Museum, “Old Time Christmas Decorations”

           Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series


December 14th at the Riverton Museum, “Christmas Open House”


Consider supporting The Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander or the Riverton Museum with a monetary donation. The museums are more reliant than ever on donations from the private sector to continue to provide the quality programs, collections management, exhibits and services that have become their hallmark. Please make your tax deductible contribution to be used specifically for the benefit of the museum of your choosing by sending a check to Fremont County Museums 450 N 2nd Rm 320 or taking it directly to the museum you choose to support.