In July 1874 Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer, and more that 1000 soldiers, camped near here while engaged in a military expedition to explore the Black Hills. The expedition's official purpose was to locate a suitable site for an army post. Unofficially, several miners who accompanied the soldiers looked for verification of rumors about gold. This expedition violated the Treaty of 1868 which confirmed the Black Hills as Indian Domain and barred all white settlers and travelers from that country. In 1874, however, only a few "friends of the Indians" complained about the army trespass. On July 2, 1874, Custer and his men left Fort Abraham Lincoln, Dakota Territory. The expedition consisted of nearly the entire Seventh Cavalry, two companies of infantry, over 100 wagons, three Gatling guns, one cannon and sixty-one Santee Sioux and Arikara scouts. Although the Sioux tracked the command's progress, such a show of military might invited no attack. Eventually the expedition took on the air of a picnic. Custer's official report emphasized the Black Hill's beauty, agricultural potential, and likely mineral riches. He did not discuss potential post sites. Unofficial reports fed already rampant rumors about gold and miners began pushing the government to extinguish Indian title to the Black Hills. Obliging miners' interests, the government
pressured the Sioux to move onto reservations and make further land cessions. By 1876 the Great Sioux War broke out and Custer, who blazed the road into the Black Hills which sparked the war, became one of that war's most famous casualties.