James H. Bradley papers, 1872-1877

Overview of the Collection

Bradley, James H. (James Howard), 1844-1877
James H. Bradley papers
1872-1877 (inclusive)
1.4 linear feet of shelf space
Collection Number
MC 49 (collection)
James H. Bradley was a first lieutenant in the 7th Infantry Regiment, stationed at Fort Shaw and Fort Benton, Montana Territory. Bradley was an amateur historian who wrote about the history of Montana and the Northwest, and his own military career. He was killed at the Battle of the Big Hole, August 9, 1877. This collection consists of Bradley's writings, some correspondence, and miscellany. [Most of the writings were published in Volumes. II, III, VIII, and IX of Contributions to the Montana Historical Society.
Montana Historical Society, Library & Archives
Montana Historical Society Research Center Archives
225 North Roberts
PO Box 201201
Helena MT
Telephone: 4064442681
Fax: 4064445297
Access Restrictions

Collection open for research.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

James H. Bradley was born in Ohio in 1844. At the outbreak of the Civil War he joined a volunteer Ohio regiment and served primarily in the Western Theater. After his discharge at the end of the war, Bradley joined the Eighteenth U.S. Infantry Regiment as a second lieutenant. He was promoted to first lieutenant in July 1866, and was stationed in what is now Wyoming. He took part in several actions along the Bozeman Trail during the Red Cloud War of 1866-1868. After a period of service in Georgia, Bradley returned to the West with the U.S. Seventh Infantry Regiment. While stationed at Fort Benton, Montana Territory, Bradley, inspired by his association with men who had participated in the early fur trade, began the study of Montana and Northwestern history. In addition to his avocation as a historian, Bradley served as a chronicler of military activities and of the history of the Indian tribes his regiment encountered. In 1876 Bradley was assigned to Colonel John Gibbon's "Montana Column," and participated in the events leading to the Battle of the Little Big Horn. The following year Bradley again served under Gibbon in his pursuit of the Nez Perce Tribe. James H. Bradley was killed at the Battle of the Big Hole, on August 9, 1877.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Papers. 1872-1895. 1.5 linear feet. The major portion of this collection consists of the historical writings of James H. Bradley. Included in these writings are his journal of the Sioux campaign on the Yellowstone in 1876 and eleven volumes of writings on the history of Fort Benton, the fur trade, several Indian tribes, and many other related topics.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Researchers must use collection in accordance with the policies of the Montana Historical Society. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all materials in the collection. In some cases permission for use may require additional authorization from the copyright owners. For more information contact an archivist.

Preferred Citation

Item description and date. Collection Title. Collection Number. Box and Folder numbers. Montana Historical Society Research Center, Archives, Helena, Montana.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Arranged by series

Location of Collection


Acquisition Information

Acquisition information available upon request

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection

Biographical Materials Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 1
Biographical sketches of James H. Bradley
1895, undated
1 / 1a
Military record documents photocopied from Adjutant General records (RG 94) National Archives

Outgoing Correspondence Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 2
Wilbur F. Sanders
1875, 1877

Miscellaneous Correspondence Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 3
Benjamin L. Burnett to Wilbur F. Sanders
1 / 4
Mrs. M.I. Bradley to Martin Maginnis and Robert E. Fisk

Diaries Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 5-6
"Journal of the Sioux Campaign on the Yellowstone [River]" [handwritten and typed copies] [interspersed between sections of the journal]: "Snow-blindness" [p. 6-9] "Missouri Fur Company" [p. 15-20] "A Glance at Montana" [p. 23-29] "An Indian Massacre" [p. 36-37] "An Interesting Incident" [p. 38-40] "Council with Crows" [p. 47-60] "Baker's Battle of 1872" [p. 70-83] "A Sketch of Fort Pease" [p. 90-93] "Historical Sketch of the Crows" [p. 97-115] "Yellowstone Expedition of 1874" [p. 131-166] "The Yellowstone Fur Trade" [p. 198-204] [Several of these articles are also reproduced at end of journal]

Writings Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 7
"Book 1": "Affairs at Fort Benton from 1831 to 1869" [p. 1-275] "Notes on the Business of I.G. Baker, Bro. and Co. at Fort Benton" [p. 275-285]
1 / 8-9
"Book 1" [handwritten drafts and typed copies]
1 / 10
"Book 2": "Miscellaneous Events at Fort Benton" "Effects at Fort Benton of the Gold Excitement in Montana" "Drowning of Gen. Thomas Francis Meagher" "Miscellaneous Information Obtained from Maj. Culbertson" "Adventure of Three Wolfers" "Description of the Keel-boats and Mackinaw boats used in early days on the Upper Missouri" "A Venturesome Steamboat" "Capture of Two Mackinaws by Indians on the Missouri"
1 / 10a
"Book 2": (continued) "Account of attempted Settlement at the mouth of the Marias" "War with Blackfeet Bands" "Rivals of the American Fur Company on the Missouri" "Sequel to Father De Smet's Story" "State of the Indian tribes of the Upper Missouri about the year 1835" "Information concerning Indian Agents on the Upper Missouri, obtained from Major Alexander Culbertson" "Tabulated Statement of the Peltries accumulated at Fort Benton" "Edward Rose, the first white renegade to the Crows" "Account of the building of Mullan's Military Road" "The Fabled White Nation at the Sources of the Missouri"
2 / 1-2
"Book 2" [handwritten drafts and typed copies]
2 / 3
"Book 3": "Sketch of the Fur Trade of the Upper Missouri" "Hunt's Expedition to Astoria" "Account of the attempt to build a town at the mouth of the Musselshell River" "Steamboat navigation of the Upper Missouri" "Loss of the Steamer Chippewa" "The Oregon Trail--Capture of an Emigrant Train by the Piegan Chief Little Dog" "Lower River History" "A General View of the Settlement of Montana"
2 / 4-5
"Book 3" [handwritten drafts and typed copies]
2 / 6
"Book 4": "Extracts from the journal of the Sioux Campaign of the Yellowstone in 1876" "Acct. of Crow Agency" "Historical Sketch of the Crows" "The Yellowstone Expedition of 1874"
2 / 7
"Book 5": "The Yellowstone Expedition of 1874, con. from Book 4" "A Crow Indian's account of the Yellowstone fur trade"
2 / 8-9
"Book 5" [handwritten drafts and typed copies]
2 / 10
"Book A": "Some English words translated into Blackfoot, Assiniboine & Sioux" "Short account of the garrison at a Fur traders post" "Information obtained from Father Imoda and other sources, relative to the Gros Ventres & the Blackfoot war with the whites" "Account of La Rue, or the story of a great rascal" "St. Peter's mission" "Sun River Stampede 1866" "Some interesting events in the trade of the Upper Missouri from 1856-1865" "Short sketches of Tullock, Harvey, Maj. Culbertson & Mackey" "Elkhorn Monuments" "Short sketch of the Blackfoot Indians and some early traditions" "Origin of the Gros Ventres" "An early trading point" (re Bow River) "A large meteor" "Characteristics, Etc. of Blackfeet" "Some Statistics of Various Tribes" "Fort Union" "Fort Campbell"
2 / 11
"Book A" [second "A"]: Blackfoot vocabulary
3 / 1
"Book C": "References to various works relative to Blackfoot Indians with chief subjects of interest"
3 / 2
"Book D": Scrapbook of clippings relative to the Jocko Agency and St. Ignatius Mission (presented to James H. Bradley by Charles Schafft, the compiler, in 1874)
3 / 3
"Book E": "History of the life of Charles Larpenteur with Many Interesting Stories, written by Himself after the Residence of Forty Years in the Indian Country, also His Views on Indian Affairs and Suggestions for the Government, etc. etc. etc." [unfinished]
3 / 4
"Book F": "Copy of a manuscript (re history of Crows) prepared by A.M. Quincy designed to be presented to the Smithsonian Institution" "The Legend of the Sun" "Recollections of Bahkastahtish" "Substance of a Conversation with Buffalo Calf, a Crow Scout" "& with Little Face, a Crow Scout" "Hieroglyphics of the Crows" "Account of Sir Geo. George, as gathered from a conversation with Bostwick" "What Wolf Yellow Face knows about the Phil Kearney Massacre" "Redsticks and Foxes" "Account of the early trade on the Yellowstone by Little Face" "The story of Long Hair as told by Little Face" "The story of the creation by Buffalo Calf" "Information gleaned from Jack Rabbit Bull concerning whiskey, pipestone quarries, medicine and account of the first mule seen by the Crows" "Acct. of Chief Arraapooash by Little Face" [Arapoosh]
3 / 4
"Book F" (cont'd): "The Devil of the Upper Yellowstone as told by Little Face" "Two of Thunder Medicine's Exploits" "Thunder Medicine's death" "More about Chief Arrappooash" [Arapoosh] "The Horse that lives in the Yellowstone" "The Spirits of the River" "The Land of the Hereafter" "The Creation" "Punishment for sin" "The Spectre Warriors" "The Flood" "Adventures of Three Wolfers" "Bozeman prospecting expedition of 1874" "The Child of the Sun" "Account of the separation of the River and Mountain Crows" "Tattooed Forehead, a Chief of early times" "Fate of an Assiniboine expedition against the Crows" "Destruction of 500 Lodges of Crows by the Sioux" "How the Crows got Horses" "Ideas concerning the stars, moon, thunder & lightning" "Origin of the Crows Religion" "The establishment of Fort Piegan as told by Mr. James Kipp" "Affairs at Fort Union (from Bostwick)"
3 / 5
"Book F" (typed copies)
3 / 6
"Historical Sketch of the Sioux"
4 / 1-2
"Historical Sketch of the Sioux" [handwritten and typed copies, various chapters]
4 / 3
"Historical Sketch of the Gold Producing Regions of the Western Half of the United States"
4 / 4

Miscellaneous Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
4 / 5
Unidentified index
4 / 6

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Authors--Montana
  • Assiniboine Indians
  • Atsina Indians
  • Blackfeet Indians
  • Cheyenne Indians--Wars, 1876
  • Crow Indians
  • Dakota Indians
  • Dakota Indians--Wars, 1865-1868
  • Dakota Indians--Wars, 1876-1877
  • Frontier and Pioneer Life
  • Fur Trade--Montana
  • Indians of North America--Languages
  • Little Big Horn, Battle of The, 1876
  • Missouri River--Commerce
  • Steamboats--Missouri River

Personal Names

  • Bradley, James H. (James Howard), 1844-1877 (creator)

Geographical Names

  • Dakota Territory
  • Fort Benton (Mont.)
  • Fort Campbell (Mont.)
  • Fort Pease (Mont.)
  • Fort Piegan (Mont.)
  • Fort Shaw (Mont.) [MILITARY FORT]
  • Fort Union (undated)
  • Marias River Valley (Mont.)
  • Mullan Road
  • ST. Ignatius (Mont.)
  • Sun River Valley (Mont.)
  • Upper Missouri River
  • Yellowstone River Valley--Description and Travel