Historical Society of Montana.

Contributions to the Historical Society of Montana, Volume 8 online

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Montana Historical and Miscellaneous

Library 1917

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State Historical and Miscellaneous

Library of Montana




Great Falls, Mohtana





Helena, Montana



Helena, Montana



Helena, Montana




FRED F. WILLSON, Bozeman, Montana

Florence Fortune
Agnes Dickerson

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I. Preface.

II. Partial Sketch of the Civil and Military Service of Major

Martin Maginnis 7

'■ ^ III. Wilbur Pisk Sanders, by Col. A. K. McClure 25

IV. Diary of Colonel Samuel Word _ 37

V. Holding up a Territorial Legislature, by Martin Barrett 93

VI Montana's "Pioneer Courts, by W. Y. Pemberton 99

V^ VII. Bradley Manuscript, Books 4 and 5

Yellowstone Expedition of 1874 105

^ VIII. Bradley Manuscript, Book 2 .

Miscellaneous Events at Fort Benton , 126

Account of the Drowning of Thomas Francis Meagher 131

Adventure of Three Wolfers 137

Capture of Two Mackinaws on the Missouri River 142

Attempted Settlement at the Mouth of the Marias 144

War with Blackfeet Bands .., 147

Rivals of the American Pur Company on the Missouri 151

Sequel of Father DeSmet's Story .^. 152

State of the Indian Tribes of the Upper Missouri About

the Year 1835 153

Indian Agents of the Upper Missouri 155

Statement of Peltries Accumulated at Port Benton 156

Edward Rose 156

Account of the Building of MuUan's Military Road 162

Fabled White Nation at the Source of the Missouri 169

Sketch of the Fur Trade of the Upper Missouri 177

X IX. Bradley Manuscript, Book P

Article About Crow Indians, by A. M. Quivey 197

Geographical Names 212

Legend of the Sun 213

Recollections of Bahtsahstahtish ^ 215

Little Face Speaks 218

What Half-Yellow Face Knows About the Phil Kearney

Massacre 223

Story of Long Hair 224

Medicine 229

, Devil of the Yellowstone 232

Pate of an Assinniboine Expedition Against the Crows 236

Destruction of Five Hundred Lodges of Crows by the Sioux 238

Establishment of Fort Piegan as Told by James Kipp..„ 244

. X. Pioneer Lumbering in Montana, by A. M. Holter 251

XI. Capt. Townsend's Battle on the Powder River, by David

B. Weaver 283

XII. Montana's Early History, by Mrs. W. J. Beall 295

XIII. My Trip on the Imperial in 1867, by John Napton 305

XIV. Boundary Survey Between Montana and Dakota, by Wm.

Crenshaw 317

XV. Changing the Name of Edgerton County, by W. Y. Pemberton 323
XVI. Trip Through the Rocky Mountains, by Col. A. G. Brackett,

U. S. A : 329

XVII. Deceased Pioneers - 345

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The publication of this volume of Contributions has been
long delayed, partly by conditions that were beyond our con-
trol, and partly by the conclusion to which our Trustees ar-
rived, that the collection of historical material of the early
days of Montana, and getting this material safely into the
Library for future use and publication before it was impos-
sible to do so, was our prime duty. And to do so has for
some time employed our earnest efforts, and to this use our
appropriation! have been largely put. We have already quite
a large and valuable collection of this material gathered, and
are still earnestly engaged in this direction.

The authors of the contributions contained in this vol-
ume, together with the subjects of which they treat, will be
found by consulting the table of contents. We appreciate
most gratefully the great friendship and service these authors
have shown the Library by furnishing these contributions.
The material we speak of, and which we are striving to col-
lest, is to be gathered alone from the pioneer men and women
who founded this great young Commonwealth. They are
rapidly passing — the majority has already gone; we earnestly
appeal to the minority still lingering on these shores to tell us
before they go what they know and did and saw, and what
their comrades did and saw, in those tragic pioneers days,
which go to make romantic the history of Montana.

We trust that this volume may prove of such interest
to those who read it, as to compensate in some degree for its
long delayed coming.



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Major Martin Maginnis was born on the twenty-seventh
of October, 1841, on a farm between Walworth Corners and
Pultneyvilfe, Wayne County, State of New York. His father
was Patrick Maginnis, born in County Clare, Ireland, and his
mother was Winifred Maginnis, born in Galway, Ireland.
His father went to England as a young man, and settled in
the city of Liverpool, where he met his wife and was married.
He carried on merchandising and contracting, and made con-
siderable money in the construction of the Park at Cheshire.
He was in partnership with a Mr. Massey, who is thought to
be the same who, in after years, made a great fortune in
public work and was made a baronet. The firm had, how-
ever, contracted to clean the city of Liverpool for one year
and made so great a loss as to be obliged to dissolve. Mr.
Maginnis for awhile used the remjiants of his carts and
horses in transportation to the city of Birmingham, and
about the year 1838 concluded to emigrate to America.
With a couple of famihes who had been in his employ, which
he brought with him, he intended to settle at Long Sault,
near Ottawa, but changed his mind, crossed from Ontario to
Rochester and settled east of that city as stated. He after-
wards took up the business of contracting on the New York
Central Railway and on its completion took his family to
Lja Salle, Illinois, and did sinxilar work on the Illinois Central
railroad. The credit of railway builders in those days was
very precarious, and contractors had difficulty in collecting
their pay. Therefore, he abandoned that business and in
1853 went via Galena to the new town of Redwing, just
founded, on the Sioux half-breed reservation recently opened.

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He took up a claim in Goodhue on the stage road between
Dubuque and St. Paul, then operated by Wilder and Merriam,
who afterwards became the leading men in Minnesota. His
first claim he enlarged to 640 acres and he successfully
worked the same until his death.

During the residence of the family in New York, Martin
went to the public schools near Walworth Corners and after-
wards to the Macedon Academy. On arriving in Minnesota
he took up his studies at the Hamline University just found-
er in Redwing, While a student he became interested in a
newspaper, (Redwing Sentinel), mostly owned by W. W.
Phelps, then Register of the State Land Office and afterwards
one of the first members of Congress from the new state. The
first editor of the paper was a young lawyer named Wm. Col-
ville, Jr. and with him the young student became closely as-
sociated. Colville had brought from his birthplace, Chautau-
qua, New York, one of the best general libraries in the new ter-
ritory, and with his young friend they read together romance,
history, literature and law. Mr. Phelps also had a good library
and these made up for the lean resources of the struggling
university. Colville was likg an older companion in many
ways. An ardent hunter and fisherman, he taught his young
companion the mysteries, of the chase in the game stocked
forests and the art of angling in the crystal streams of the
new country. All were ardent Democrats, as was the elder
Maginnis, arid all supporters, with tongue and pen, of Stephen

A. Douglas, then the idol of the pioneers of the new territory,
who believed they were entitled to all the sovereignity they
had enjoyed in the states they came from. Upon the seces-
sion of the southern states and the firing on Fort Sumpter
they all followed the advice of Douglas and sallied to the sup-
port of the President Abraham Ljincoln.

On Lincoln's first call, Colville organized a company of
volunteers, and was chosen captain, and Martin Maginnis en-
listed as first sergeant. Seven other students of Hamline en-
rolled themselves, and the two lieutenants were chosen from
these. In less than two weeks the company with others were
mustered into the service of the United States by Captain A.

B. Nelson, as the First Regiment of Minnesota Volunteer

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Infantry, which afterwards became one of the most noted and
famous regiments in the war and holds the record for the
greatest percentage of loss in any one battle on the occasion
of its famous charge at Gettysburg. The War Department
declining to accept three month's service from such a difetant
state, the regiment accepted the alternative and therefore
stand as the first regiment of volunteers mustered in for
"three years or during the war." It was immediately hurried
to Washington and placed on guard over the capitol, crossed
over into Virginia and took a leading part in the battle of
Bull Run. The greater percentage of the actual loss on the
field fell to this regiment, which had assisted in the capture
of the Henry House and the Confederate battery in the morn-
ing and on the defeat retired in order, bringing back the only
Confederate prisoners that were taken into Washington.
After this Martin Maginnis was made second lieutenant for
gallantry, etc. Its next affair was at Ball's Bluff, where it
crossed the river and brought back the remnants of Baker's
unfortunate command. In the early spring it joined the
forces in the valley and assisted at the capture of Berrys-
vllle; was then joined to the Second Army Corps and went
with Sumner to the Peninsular; fought at Yorktown and
West Point; built the famous grape-vine bridge with its
Minnesota lumbermen, and marched at the head of the second
Corps into the battle of Fair Oaks. At Peach Orchard as-
sisted in the repluse of the enemy. At Savage Station bore
the brunt of the Confederate repulse and lost twenty-five per
cent in killed and wounded. Among these was Lieutenant
Maginnis, was severely wounded in the left shoulder, but con-
tinued with his command on the march to the James. The
regiment was actively engaged in the repulse of Jackson's
corps at White Oakes Swamp, and in the evening did most
valuable service at Glendale. At this place Colville's company
was placed in front of a woods and ordered not to fire, as our
men were supposed to be in front. The Captain and others
were shot down and Lieutenant Maginnis in command came
to the conclusion that a mistake had been made. A large
body of troops bearing down in the dusk he took the responsi-
bility of giving the order to fire in direct disobedience to the

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orders of his superiors. It was most fortunate as the troops
turned out to be a North Carolina brigade. His Colonel,
Miller, received great credit, and afterward, when elected
Governor of the state, made him Major "for his disobedience."
The hext day the regiment was in line at the battle of Mal-
vern Hill, but took no active, part. This was the last of
seven day's battles. The regiment was on the skirmish line
in the second battle of Malvern and assisted in the capture
of the works and the position. This was the beginning of
McClellan's second advance on Richmond. That day the
army was ordered to leave the peninsula and to join General
Pope. The second corps reached Centerville in time to re-
cover the retreat of Pope, and the regiment, acting as rear
guard on the retreat to the fortifications around Washington,
ambushed and suprised the Confederate Cavaliy in pursuit at
Vienna. This was the last battle of that campaign. The
disasterous repulse ended all further pursuit, and the army
entered the fortifications of Washington and again came
under McClellan. Crossing the Potomac and passing through
Frederick, the regiment became engaged at South Mountain,
relieving the Iron Brigade, when its ammunition was expend-
ed, and next day encamped on the Antietam. In this battle
Lieutenant Maginnis commanded his company which lost
twenty-five per cent of its men in action. Martin was shot
through the left leg, a flesh wound, and remaining in the
field hospital one week, rejoined the regiment at Harper's
Ferry; was subsequently engaged under Hancock in the af-
fair at Charlestown. Shortly after McClellan made his fare-
well at Warrentown, and the army moved to Fredericksburg
under Hancock. The regiment was among the first that
crossed on the pontoons and after a sharp fight the division
held the city during the night. After the repulse of Marye's
Heights, it took position under the stone wall and assisted in
the repulse of the only offensive sally of the enemy, on the
next afternoon, and that night was the last regiment with-
drawn across the river. It again participated in the attack
and capture of Marye's Heights under General Sedgewick at
the battle of Chancellorville and was recalled upon the failure "
of Hooker on the right. It was next engaged in the repulse

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of an attack by Mosby's Guerrilas near Thoroughfare Gap,
crossed the river to Frederick and marched to Uniontown in
Pennsylvania, thence marched under Hancock to the relief of
Howard at Gettysburg, where Hancock assumed command
and established the lines on which the battle was finally
fought. It was engaged all night on the picket line; but
after the formation was completed, on the morning of the
second of July, eight companies were withdrawn from the
firing line and placed in reserve in support of the 4th U. S.
Artillery on the key point of the position. General Sickles,
without orders, had advanced his corps to the peach orchard
across the valley and left it with an apex of a V-shaped pre-
sented to the Confedercte line. This faulty formation im-
mediately invited a furious attack from the combined forces
of Hill and Longstreet on the point of the wedge. Not ex-
pecting to be called into action the regiment watched with in-
terest the fierce attacks and repulses, saw the fresh divisions
thrown to the support and the furious fighting in the wheat-
field and Devil's Den, and all the efforts to retrieve the first
great mistake resulting in what is said to be the f ierciest and
most sanguinary infantry fighting in the annals of modem
war. Finally saw with dismay the whole of Sickle's Corps give
way, and falling back over us, and Sickles himself wounded
and carried by. The two brigades of Barksdale and Wilcox,
flushed with victory, pursued these retreating men, firing
and cheering, and in a few moments would have reached the
Minnesota regiment, the key point, and turned the whole left
of the army. The Maginnis brigade had 262 men, and all
stood firm and waited orders. Just then Hancock rode
up at full speed with a single aid, and for a moment en-
deavored to rally Sickles' forces. He had Geary's corps
on the way to strengthen this point, but it was not in sight.
He turned to Col. Colville and asked, "What regiment is
this ? " Col. Colville answered, "The F i rs t Minnesota.. "
"Charge those lines," Hancock shouted, pointing to the min-
gled colors of the two brigades. Not a man hesitated. The
ferocity of the outset of this small band amazed the advanc-
ing and exultant Confederates. The regiment charged with
a bayonet through their first line and fired into the faces of

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the second. Before the confusion could be overcome the re-
serves came up and the lines were restored and the rebels
fell back to their own guns, wliich opened on the scene, but
were soon silenced. What Hancock had ordered was thor-
oughly done; but of the commissioned officers only three
were on their feet; of the whole two hundred and sixty-two
who made the charge, two hundred and fifteen lay dead upon
the field, forty seven were still in line, and not a man was
missing, though the official record of Fox, which gives us
a record for the success of the charge and the largest per-
centage of loss in any action in the war, puts down one as
missing, which the survivors deny as a mistake. All were
present or accounted for. Company commanders Martin
Maginnis, C, B. Heffelfinger, and Adjutant Wm. L(Ochran
were the only three out of the twenty-four officers on their
feet, and by a strange coincidence, were the only officers
alive at the last ovation at St. Paul, on the semi-centennial of
leaving the state. After a night spent in burying their dead,
the survivors in the morning found with the two companies
on picket drawn in, and other details added, they still had a
regiment. One company, headquarters guard to General
Mead, also rejoined. It was this company that recovered
Cushing's battery on the death of Armstead, the only con-
federate General who came through the line at the high water
mark. In following Picket's repulse it captured three times
its own number of prisoners and one battle flag, but lost fif-
teen per cent of its remainder. Lieutenant Maginnis was
made Captain, and the reduced regiment joined in the pur-
suit to the Potomac. Its next great task was to go to New
York with three other picked regiments to supress the draft
riots. This was an easy job, and a month's fetes and cele-
brations from the good people of New York and Brooklyn
were a sort of reward of merit for the sufferings of the past.
In this expidition on the staff of General Spriggs Carrol, com-
manding, was Captain, afterwards Major McKinley, and after-
wards President McKinley. Here Martin Maginnis first met
him and formed a personal and warm friendship, afterwards
renewed in the House of Representatives, and never dimmed
by political differences.

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After one delightful month of fetes and adulations, its
only holiday during the war, the regiment was again ordered
to the front, and its next great work was done at the small
but sanguinary battle of Bristol Station. The regiment act-
ing as skirmishers, discovered the advance of a corps of Con-
federates and after a conflict with them, took up a position
along the railroad, and were reinforced by a division of the
second corps, whose front they covered, maintaining its posi-
tion during the battle. On the repulse of the enemy, the
skirmishers under Captain Maginnis were thrown to the
front and captured a battery but were able to bring in only
two pieces, as they were also bringing in more prisoners than
they could handle, and so sent back for assistance, and were
reinforced by General Hays, who said that the regiment
should get credit for their capture. The entire number of
men, according to the report of Major Dowie, (Page 399,
Official Correspondence) brought in was 322, including five
line and two field officers, and two piecfes of artillery, by
Captain Maginnis' command. Three other guns were brought
in by the division and two flags also captured.

The regiment next took part in the abortive Mine Run
campaign, which was its last service. In order to stimulate
volunteers new regiments were formed. The old regiment
was consolidated into a battalion, which served until after
Appomatox. Captain Maginnis was made Major of a new
regiment and sent to General Thomas in Tennessee ; took part
in the successful repulse of General N. B. Forrest's assult on
the tunnel of the National Railroad and in the campaign of
Franklin and Nashville, and was mustered out at Nashville
in 1865.

Major Maginis returned to Redwing and bought an in-
terest in the Redwing Argus, he had been detailed on the
staff of Andrew Johnson, military governor of Tennessee as
marshal of that state, but not liking the service was kindly
relieved by General Thomas and mustered out with his regi-
ment. After six month's vacation he grew tired of the mo-
notony of the life. One of his lieutenants, Hezekiah Bruce,
on the consolidation of the regiment, crossed the plains to the
mines. He arrived in time to secure a good claim in Last

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Chance and was one of the discoverers of Nelson Gulch. He
was of the party that named the city of Helena. Major Mag-
innis organized a party to join him. They first intended to
come with Fisk's expedition, but on assembling at Abercom-
bie, the Major thought the crew was too large. So he organ-
ized an expedition of his own, in company of a Mr. Steele of
Highland, who had opened a store in that gulch and had re-
turned to St. Paul for goods. The train consisted of forty
wagons and about one hundred and fifty men, several of
them old soldiers of the old regiment. They concluded to try
it alone, although in the years before the Sioux had fought
General Sully and Sibley in great force. It turned out that
the Indians were mostly south of the Missouri in the bad
land country. So it was determined to keep on the north side
of the river and' to take the Milk River route, a route now
very closely traversed by the Great Northern railway. At
Fort Union at the mouth of the Yellowstone, they struck the

Online LibraryHistorical Society of MontanaContributions to the Historical Society of Montana, Volume 8 → online text (page 1 of 33)