Custer in Kansas: Hancock’s War of 1867-68 on the Southern Plains –  October 10-13, 2012

Custer in Kansas: Hancock’s War of 1867-68 on the Southern Plains – October 10-13, 2012

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Wednesday, October 10 (7:30PM) to Saturday, October 13, 2012  (5:00pm)
Led by Robert F. O’Neill and Bruce Venter
Based in Hays, KS
Tour Registration Fee: $495.00

Shortly after the Civil War ended two iconic figures from that war, Major General Winfield Scott Hancock and Major General George Armstrong Custer (now a lieutenant colonel) came to the Kansas Plains to fight Indians. In 1867 Hancock’s mission was to discourage Indian raiding in Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska, but the famous Union general ended up with a full scale war on his hands by 1868. Custer, a famed cavalryman at the time was a perfect subordinate for Hancock. But “Hancock’s War” as it was called did not do either officer’s reputation any good. Our tour will visit the battle sites and forts of Custer’s campaign thru Kansas, years before his final encounter with the Sioux in Montana.

On our first day we will start with a visit to Fort Hays, built to protect the railroad which was being constructed parallel to the old Smoky Hill Trail. With four original buildings intact, the fort saw the likes of Custer, Phil Sheridan and Buffalo Bill Cody. Nearby is the tree-covered Custer Island where the general bivouacked his 7th Cavalry troopers. Then it’s on to Fort Larned, an outstanding example of a frontier fort that retains most of its original buildings. After Fort Larned, we’ll visit Pawnee Rock, a well-known landmark along the Santa Fe Trail with some great stories. From there you’ll get to see the obscure Pawnee Fork Crossing which now sits on the grounds of a state hospital. At Burdett, we’ll stop at the site where Hancock and Custer faced off an Indian band. Nearby you’ll see the site of the Pawnee River Indian village burned by Hancock.

The first stop on the second day will be the very impressive Buffalo Bill statute in Oakley. After Oakley, we stop at Monument Rocks, a unique geological landmark used by Custer, Captain Frederick Benteen and others as a meeting point on the vast Southern Plains. From Monument Rocks we’ll go to Fort Wallace which bore the brunt of many Indian attacks, garnering the nickname the “Fightin’est Fort in the West.” Custer experienced his first Indian fight near Fort Wallace. The cemetery and museum are worthwhile sites at the fort which we’ll visit. In the afternoon we’ll visit Benkelman, Nebraska, a remote location where Custer’s camp was attacked by Indians. We’ll also go to the famous Kidder Massacre site, which is still in private hands. This will be a long day of touring, so dinner is included with your registration on this day.

On day three our first stop will be the Butterfield Overland Stage depot site where Indian raiders nailed some of the employees to a wall during a hit-and-run attack. We’ll also see Walnut Creek, a site where Custer crossed and the location of a number of deadly attacks. Then it’s on to the Fort Zarah site, another frontier outpost along the Santa Fe Trail. Beyond Fort Zarah, we’ll stop at what’s locally called “Ralph’s Ruts” named for the farmer who preserved the wagon ruts of the Santa Fe Trail on his land for future generations to see and marvel at the fortitude of those brave pioneers and soldiers who rode the trail thru Kansas and beyond. Next we’ll visit Cow Creek Crossing, a key crossing on the Santa Fe Trail and site of a nasty Indian attack. We’ll also visit Fort Harker. Our final stop will be Mushroom Rocks, another geological wonder craved by wind and water which Hancock’s expedition passed along the Santa Fe Trail on his campaign.

America’s History has put together a Custer tour which we believe is unique among history operators. We hope you will agree and join us in Hays, Kansas in October for this truly uncommon tour experience.

Registration Fee: $495.00

What’s included: motor coach transportation, three lunches, dinner on day two, beverage and snack breaks, a map and materials package, all admissions and gratuities, and the services of two experienced tour guides/historians. Our headquarters hotel will provide a complimentary hot and cold breakfast buffet each morning. Tour participants are responsible for transportation to the headquarters hotel, and securing a room reservation, if necessary. Dinner is on your own except as noted. Tour goes out rain or shine. Please see our policy page for information about cancellations.

Hotel: We have arranged with the headquarters hotel for a group rate of $89.00 per night plus tax. Please call the Holiday Inn Express & Suites, 4650 Roth Ave., Hays, KS directly at 785-625-8000 or 1-877-834-3613 and ask for the America’s History group rate. This rate will be guaranteed until September 15, so please make your reservations early.

About our Tour Guides/Historians:

Robert F. O’Neill is an author, cavalry historian, Montanan and experienced battlefield guide. Bob has written articles for Blue & Gray and Civil War magazines. He is currently writing an article for Blue & Gray on the Civil War officers who fought at the battle of Rosebud Creek in 1876. His study of the cavalry fighting at Aldie, Middleburg and Upperville is considered the definitive book on these battles. Bob led our Custer, Crook and Crazy Horse tour in 2010, receiving high marks from our tour participants.

Bruce M. Venter, president of America’s History is an experienced tour leader and lecturer whose special interest is Union cavalry. His article, “Hancock the (Not So) Superb: The Second Battle of Reams Station” appeared in Blue & Gray magazine.

Register Online (Pay in Full only. Please use the phone registration option to make other payment arrangements.):

Register By Phone:

Phone: 1-855-OUR-HISTORY (687-4478)

Register by e-mail:

Register by Postal Mail:

America’s History LLC, P. O. Box 1076, Goochland, VA 23063

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