July 11, 2010 – After visiting the (interpretive center – include link), we drove to another part of Casper, Wyoming, to visit Fort Caspar Park, where there is a museum and a “reconstructed” Fort Caspar. The fort reconstruction was built in 1936 by the Works Progress Administration and is based on the diagram of the post made by Lieutenant Caspar Collins.
Post suttler’s store:
Fort Caspar is located at the red pin on our route map.
Protecting employees and property of the Overland Mail Company and maintaining the Pacific telegraph line brought the United States Army to central Wyoming in 1862. Lieutenant Colonel William O. Collins, regimental commander of Companies A, B, C, and D of the 1st Battalion of the 6th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry reached Fort Laramie on May 30, 1862, and received orders on June 3 to proceed with 3 companies to South Pass, following the westward emigrant trails.
During the first week of June, troops from the remaining company began establishing an outpost at Guinard’s bridge over the North Platte River. Soldiers spent much of the summer repairing the telegraph line damaged by raiding Shoshone, Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho.
Over the next several years, the post at the North Plate bridge continued to grow. In October, 1865, there was 242 enlisted soldiers and 14 officers at what was then called Platte Bridge Station.
Early on the morning of July 26, 1865, Lieutenant Caspar Collins of the 11th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry led a troop of men from the 11th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry to reinforce army supply wagons coming into Platte Bridge Station. Only a mile west of the post, they were ambushed by members of the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapahoe nations. Four troopers and Lieutenant Collins were killed in the retreat to the post.
By special order, Major General John Pope changed the name to Fort Casper to honor Lieutenant Caspar Collins. Pope chose the lieutenant’s first name because there was already a Fort Collins, named for Caspar’s father. The young officer’s name was misspelled as Casper in the orders.
Fort Casper was very short-lived due to changing conditions on the frontier. When orders were issued to abandon Fort Casper on October 19, 1867, troops and “all useful materials,” including buildings were transferred to Fort Fetterman.