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Fort Dilts


Two years after the 1862 discovery of gold in Montana, Captain James Fisk, US Quartermaster Corps, organized a wagon train to Montana following a newly-proposed short-cut west from Fort Rice, Dakota Territory.

On September 2, 180 miles west of Fort Rice, the party was attacked by Hunkpapa warriors, resulting in nine deaths. Continuing forward with a howitzer clearing the way, the party finally stopped on September 4. Waiting for reinforcements, sod bricks were stacked to form a six-foot high perimeter surrounding eighty wagons drawn up into a circle. Three soldiers killed in the fighting, including Jefferson Dilts, were buried in the entrenchments.

The sixteen-day siege came to an end on this day in 1864 as the first of 800 cavalry and infantrymen arrived. The gold-seeker returned to Fort Rice and the expedition disbanded.

In 1931, the State Historical Society acquired the site, dubbed Fort Dilts.


Prairie Tales. Bowman County, ND: Rural Area Development Committee, 1965.

Snortland, J. Signe, ed. A Traveler's Companion to North Dakota State Historic Sites. Bismarck, ND: State Historical Society of North Dakota, 1996.