Moses "California Joe" Milner
(May 8, 1829 - October 29, 1876)
Born in Kentucky, Moses Milner drifted to St. Louis, MO where he joined a trapping party. At the Powder River in Wyoming, this group launched a surprise attack on a band of Blackfoot. After killing a number of Blackfoot, the mountain men chased the fleeing Blackfoot all day. Moses spotted one indian about 400 yards away, rested his rifle on a boulder and fired. The Blackfoot fell into the canyon with a bullet in the head.
Working for Jim Bridger at Fort Bridger, Milner sounded the alarm on stolen horses. During the chase a warrior killed Milner's mule. Moses used the dead mount as a rifle rest and shot that warrior dead.
After serving as a teamster for Stephen Kearney during the Mexican War, Milner married, headed to California and prospected. With the gold discovery in Montana, he tried his luck here and fought three claim jumpers killing one. Moses was with Kit Carson at the Battle of Adobe Walls in Texas and after his mount was killed, Milner scored a number of long range shots.
In 1868, Milner was named Chief of Scouts for George Custer. In celebration, Moses became drunk and missed the Battle of the Washita. In 1874, Milner would lead Custer in the famous Black Hills Expedition and staked a homestead on what is now Rapid City, SD.
Moses Milner became involved in a number of skirmishes in Wyoming and South Dakota. Also, he would scout for George Crook when Crook was chasing the Sioux after the Little Big Horn fight.
At Fort Robinson, NE Milner quarreled with a man named Tom Newcomb. Newcomb shot Moses Milner in the back. A few years later, Newcomb would suffer the same fate.
Moses Milner was originally buried in the Fort Robinson Cemetery, but moved to the Fort McPherson National Cemetery east of North Platte, NE.
Information compiled by Steve Grimm