George Wirt diary, 1864

Overview of the Collection

Wirt, George, soldier
George Wirt diary
1864 (inclusive)
1 reel microfilm
Collection Number
Mss 326
George Wirt's diary entries for 1864 chronicle Wirt's time serving with Brackett's Battalion during the Indian Campaign of 1864 and range from details of the soldier's daily life to brief accounts of confrontations between the battalion and the various Native American tribes.
University of Montana, Mansfield Library, Archives and Special Collections
Archives and Special Collections
Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library
University of Montana
32 Campus Dr. #9936
Missoula, MT
Telephone: 406-243-2053
Access Restrictions

Researchers must use collection in accordance with the policies of Archives and Special Collections, the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, and The University of Montana--Missoula.

Additional Reference Guides

Finding aid in the repository.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

On November 1, 1861 twenty-four year old George Wirt enlisted in Brackett's Battalion of the Minnesota Calvary. Organized on a volunteer basis, the battalion traveled from Iowa to Minnesota to assist with peacekeeping duties between the Native Americans and the white settlers. George Wirt's diary focuses on the Indian Campaign of 1864; an intensified effort by the federal government to provide protection for settlers traveling west. In June 1864 the government sent a series of dispatches to tribes in the North Dakota, Montana, and Idaho territories in an attempt to create a treaty promoting a peaceful coexistence between Native American tribes and the incoming settlers. Those who did not respond to the treaty were considered hostile. The battalion based itself at Fort Sully, near present day Pierre, South Dakota. Wirt belonged to Company B under the direction of captains D. Mortimer West, William Smith, and John A. Reed. The troop's duties primarily consisted of conducting daily scouting excursions and accompanying caravans of settlers traveling westward. George Wirt served in the battalion until June 1, 1866 and eventually attained the rank of sergeant. Brackett's Battalion continued its work in the west through 1866.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The reel of microfilm contains George Wirt's diary entries from April through October of 1864. Most of the original entries are difficult to read but a full handwritten transcription by Harry F. Wirt follows the original. The entries chronicle Wirt's time serving with Brackett's Battalion including notes on daily conditions such as the temperature, the hour when camp broke, available water, available grazing for their horses, receiving orders to move to a new location, and the length of the day's march. He also records events or sights of interest such as meeting another troop, see "thousands of dead buffalo," and confrontations between the battalion and the various Native American tribes. Among the locations that George Wirt mentions, as he describes the troops travels, are Fort Sully, South Dakota; Fort Rice, North Dakota; Fort Benton, Montana; and Fort Ridgely, Minnesota. The collection also includes an article entitled, "Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars, 1861-1865" prepared by the Board of Commissioners of Minnesota, published by the Pioneer Press Company in St. Paul, Minn. in 1890 .

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Researchers are responsible for using in accordance with 17 U.S.C. and any other applicable statutes.

Preferred Citation

[Name of document or photograph number], George Wirt Diary, Archives and Special Collections, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, The University of Montana-Missoula.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Acquisition Information

Loaned for filming by Harry F. Wirt, September 20, 1974.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Indians of North America--Wars--1862-1865
  • Scouts and scouting--West (U.S.)
  • Soldiers--West (U.S.)- Diaries
  • Wagon trains--West (U.S.)

Corporate Names

  • United States--Army--Brackett's Battalion (1861-1866)

Geographical Names

  • West (U.S.)--History, Military--19th century

Form or Genre Terms

  • Diaries

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top