2016 Ambrose Memorial Lecture: Paul R. Wylie


HELENA – The public is invited to the annual Stephen Ambrose Memorial Lecture featuring Bozeman writer, Paul R. Wylie on Wednesday, October 12 at 7:00 p.m. “The Baker Massacre: A Major Tragedy Nearly Lost in History,” will be presented in the Large Meeting Room of the Lewis & Clark Library at 120 S. Last Chance Gulch in Helena. A reception will follow the lecture.

Wylie will lecture on the history of massacres from the perspective of one of the most overlooked tragedies in modern times. On the morning of January 23, 1870, troops of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry attacked a Piegan Indian village on the Marias River in Montana Territory, killing many more than the army’s count of 173, most of them women, children, and old men. The village was afflicted with smallpox. Worse, it was the wrong encampment. Intended as a retaliation against Mountain Chief’s renegade band, the massacre sparked public outrage when news sources revealed that the battalion had attacked Heavy Runner’s innocent village and that guides had told its inebriated commander, Major Eugene Baker, he was on the wrong trail, but he struck anyway. Remembered as one of the most heinous incidents of the Indian Wars, the Baker Massacre has often been overshadowed by the better-known Battle of Little Bighorn and has never received full treatment until now. Wylie will draw on research gathered for Blood on the Marias: The Baker Massacre, published by University of Oklahoma Press in early 2016.

Paul R. Wylie was raised in the small rural mountain town of White Sulphur Springs, in Meagher County, Montana and went on to graduate from Montana State University with a bachelors in chemical engineering before working as a rocket engineer, and later moving on to Washington, D.C., to be a patent examiner and obtain his law degree from American University. As a member of the bars of Utah, California and Montana, he worked as corporate counsel and in his own private law practice representing clients in complex technical and financial matters, which earned him recognition as a committee chairman in the American Bar Association, and listings in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Industry. He is the author of The Irish General: Thomas Francis Meagher, published in 2011. Diligence in the marshaling of facts and in detailed presentation of the kind found in The Irish General has long been his hallmark.