Saturday, August 27, 2011

COMPANY E, 11th OVC, 1864, A Historic Inscription In Wyoming:

Company E, 11th OVC, 1864. Near Douglas,
Wyoming. Photo: Peter Faris, 2001.

On May 26 and 27, 2001, rock art sites were visited and recorded on private land near Douglas, Converse County, Wyoming. One of the sites is a historic-period engraved inscription in a location that is fifty miles east of the location of Fort Caspar, Wyoming.

Line drawing of inscription. Peter Faris.

This panel consists of a historic period inscription on a boulder. The eroded letters spell Co. E, 11-OVC, 1864, and provide a record of the presence in 1864 of Company E of the 11th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry.

Platte Bridge Station map by Caspar Collins, 1864.

During the American Civil War regular troops were needed for the battlefields back east so their place in Western posts was taken by state volunteer outfits. On May 30, 1862, Companies A, B, C, and D of the First Battalion, 6th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry reached Fort Laramie, assigned to guard Overland Mail routes across the plains from Julesburg to Green River. Commander of the battalion was Lt. Col. William O. Collins. In early June 1862 the troops moved to a site along the North Platte River and began building a military outpost that became known as the Platte Bridge Station.

Portrait of Caspar Collins, painted by Ruth Joy Hopkins,
facing p.23, J.W. Vaughn, The Battle of Platte Bridge,
Univ. of OK, 1963.
In July 1863, Collins organized a second battalion consisting of Companies E, F, G, and H. It was consolidated with the first battalion to form the 11th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. By October 10 they arrived at their new post at the Platte Bridge Station. Collin’s regiment was 50 men short when he recruited the new companies in 1863 so it was filled out with Confederate prisoners who volunteered for western service in the union cavalry. Men enlisted in this manner were known as “Galvanized Yankees”. The city of Fort Collins, Colorado was named after Lt. Col. Collins. On July 26, 1865, the Battle of Platte Bridge occurred near Platte Bridge Station in Wyoming. Lt. Caspar Collins, the son of Lt. Col Wm. Collins was ordered to lead a troop west of the post to escort a supply train due to arrive from the Sweetwater Station. They were ambushed by Cheyenne warriors and Lieutenant Caspar Collins was killed”. Fort Caspar and the city of Caspar, Wyoming (near the site of the old Platte Bridge Station) were named after him. The present spelling of the city’s name, Casper, is attributed to the U.S. Postal Service which changed it later. The 11th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry was mustered out on July 14, 1865. Major General John Pope changed the name of Platte Bridge Station to Fort Caspar by special order #49 on November 21, 1865.

Battle of Platte Bridge, drawn by a member of the 11th
Kansas Cav. who participated in the fight of July 25-27,
1865, facing p.102, J.W. Vaughn, The Battle of Platte
Bridge, Univ. of OK, 1963
The site of the inscription on the boulder is approximately 50 miles east of Fort Caspar. It was probably created by troopers from an escort party or a foraging party who had camped by the location for an evening. The soft sandstone boulder is eroding seriously and portions of the lettering are completely gone. As it disappears it takes with it a tangible piece of evidence to the history of the development of Wyoming and the West.

No comments:

Post a Comment