In June, 1873, a Northern Pacific Railroad surveying party escorted by 1,500 soldiers, including the 7th Cavalry under the command of George Armstrong Custer, and 325 civilians, left Dakota Territory for the Yellowstone Valley to survey a route for the second transcontinental railroad.
The Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne were opposed to the railroad and clashed with the soldiers on several occasions throughout July. On August 11th, the expedition camped for a well earned rest just north of here. Five days later, some of the men sought relief from the summer heat by bathing in the Yellowstone River. Suddenly, shots were fired at them by six Lakota warriors hiding near Pompey's Pillar. One man later humorously reported that in the "ensuing scramble for cover, nude bodies (scattered) in all directions on the north bank for a hundred yards." The soldiers returned fire and eventually drove the Indians away. No one was killed in the skirmish. Perhaps figuring that discretion was the better part of valor, the soldiers thereafter chose to "bear the heat rather than risk another swim in the Yellowstone." It was not reported if Custer was among those caught with his pants down by the Lakota on that hot August day in 1873.