Fort McPherson
Maxwell, Nebraska

Originally known as Fort Cottonwood. First Located in Cottonwood Canyon.
Later Moved Closer to the Town of Maxwell, Nebraska
Now a National Cemetery



Stage Station at Cottonwood Springs

In October of 1863, Lieutenant Eugene Ware directed men to cut logs of cedar in Cottonwood Canyon, for the purpose of
making an outpost. Major George M. O'Brien selected the location a month before and had dubbed the outpost
"Cantonment McKean", after the Commander of the military district but changed the name to Fort Cottonwood
when the construction actually started. A post was direly needed to break the 350 mile stretch between
Fort Kearney and Fort Laramie.



One of the reasons for the post was to keep an eye on the Indians and nearby was a high hill
that overlooked the seasonal migratory route used by both the Pawnee and Sioux.



Sioux Lookout

Fern Story rode the horse up in 1931 dragging the statue of the Indian to stand looking out over the valley below.
It is the highest point in the county and you can see for miles.
She was the only one small enough not to put additional weight on the horse yet could skillfully
manage the horse at the top with limited space to maneuver such a huge heavy item.



1869 Stage

The main activities of the Fort during its 17 years of activity, were escorting stagecoaches and immigrant wagon trains;
pursuing and punishing Indians for depredations; protecting the mail, and the telegraph.

The name of Fort Cottonwood was changed to Fort McPherson on February 26, 1866, to honor General James B. McPherson,
who had fallen while fighting with General W.T. Sherman against the Confederate forces in the battle for Atlanta.
The Civil War ended in August, 1865. Nebraska became a State on March 1, 1867

.

Lt Colonel George A. Custer led the 7th Cavalry from Fort McPherson
on June 15th, 1867, for operations against Indians in Kansas.

General Phil Sheridan, Custer and Buffalo Bill Cody escorted Grand Duke Alexis of Russia
on a Buffalo hunting expedition from Fort McPherson in January of 1872.


Comanche the Only Survivor of Custer's Last Stand

On June 25th, 1876, the telegraph at Fort McPherson told the news of Sitting Bull's victory
at the Little Big Horn and the end of Custer and his famous 7th Cavalry.

Fort McPherson, after seventeen years of intense activity, with strong economic
and developmental influences for hundreds of miles, was abandoned by the Army in 1880.
The Indian Wars continued until 1891.

My Grandmother could remember the last Indian raid in Lincoln County in 1905.
The people were ordered to go to the Union Pacific Railroad Roundhouse for protection.
The Indians were turned away before they reached the roundhouse. My grandmother
was a very little girl but recalled the fear and excitement vividly. They called it the Last Indian Raid.



Loggy at Maxwell c. 1897

The Fort McPherson buildings were sold at auction in the spring of 1881.
The square logs were numbered and the building was totally disassembled.
It was reassembled where it still stands today. Our 'Loggy' was moved into Maxwell.
My Great Great Grandfather purchased it in 1897 to be used as a general store.

The only other log building still standing from the fort that I know of is now located at the
Lincoln County Historical Museum in North Platte. The buyer of this log building waited
until winter to move the building. This building was not disassembled but was dragged across
the frozen Platte River to what is now the Feeney Farm. The Feeney Farm was once part of Fort McPherson.
On July 5, 1905, James T. Feeney purchased the farm, they lived on the island just north of the fort.
It remained there for many years but finally was donated to the museum.

There was one other log cabin that I know of from the Fort in Maxwell, but it burned to the ground quite a while back.



Our Loggy at Maxwell c. 1940



Fort McPherson Enlisted Men and Dogs.



Pictured at Fort McPherson Albert Ginapp
Ginapp is a local family name from Brady.



Officers Quarters at Fort McPherson



Buffalo Bill

Buffalo Bill was another piece of local color, he was a great horseman. My Great Great Grandfather Lewis
bought horses from him and said, "If Bill sold you a horse you could be sure that it was a good horse".
His favorite horse that he ever owned was one he bought from Bill Cody.
He was a highly trained Tennessee Walker named Cody.
Cody was badly injured in an accident and was render unusable
but my Great Great Grandfather kept him anyway.
My Great Great Grandmother on the other hand was not too fond of Bill,
as she said he did not treat his wife right and was always quite a ladies' man.

 

Fort McPherson National Cemetery



#76 ~ Unknown Indian Scout

There are 584 unknowns.
Typically the headstones or boards were shipped with the caskets
from the cemeteries of the Army Posts that were relocated to Fort McPherson National Cemetery.
In many cases the boards which typically contained names and dates, were blank by the end of the 19th century.


#258
Spotted Horse

Spotted Horse, a noted Pawnee Indian Scout, was killed by a Sioux.
He is buried in grave # 258 near the center of section C.



Memorial Day at Fort McPherson

Cemeteries of the Listed Army Posts were relocated
to Fort McPherson National Cemetery at the time indicated:

Fort Halleck, Wyoming December 1878
Fort Hartsuff, NebraskaNovember, 1881
Fort Sanders, WyomingMay 4, 1883
Fort Fetterman, WyomingMay 4, 1883
Fort Hall, IdahoMay 19, 1883
Camp White River, ColoradoJanuary 8, 1887
Independence Rock, WyomingJanuary 11, 1888
Fort Kearney, Nebraska1890
Fort Sedgwick, Colorado1891
Fort Bridger, WyomingMay 29, 1891
Fort Laramie, WyomingJune 13, 1891
Fort Hale, South DakotaJuly 30, 1891
Fort Crawford, ColoradoDecember 4, 1891
Fort Lewis, ColoradoDecember 10, 1891
Fort McPherson, Nebraska1892
Fort Steele, WyomingApril 8, 1892
LaBonte P.O., WyomingMay 26, 1896
Fort Atkinson, NebraskaMarch 1905
Old South Pass, WyomingMarch 16, 1907
Baggs, WyomingJune, 1909
Fort Mitchell, NebraskaJuly, 1915
Fort Sidney, NebraskaAugust 10, 1922
Fort Robinson, NebraskaJuly 22, 1947

 



Cemeteries of the Listed Army Posts were relocated
to Fort McPherson National Cemetery
(This information was taken from an old flyer put out by the DVA)

Old Time Photographs & History
My Family History and the History of the town of Maxwell, Nebraska

My Family History From Maxwell, Nebraska.
The early years from the 1800's
Maxwell, Nebraska
More of the Town ~ Early Years
Maxwell, Nebraska
More Recent Years
Maxwell School
The School and Early Class Photos


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A.Olsen
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