Thomas Tipton Thornburgh was a Major serving in the United States Army’s Fourth Infantry Regiment at Fort Steele near Rawlins in the late 1870s. A Civil War veteran and West Point graduate, Thornburgh was transferred to the Paymaster Corps., but missed the “action” of the West and was transferred to the infantry at Fort Steele.
Action he wanted – action he got! When trouble arose between the Ute tribe on the White River Reservation near Meeker, Colorado and the reservation agent, Thornburgh and a detachment of 175 men were called out to halt the advancing Utes. Thornburgh was killed, and his troops required reinforcement from the 9th Cavalry “Buffalo Soldiers,” as well as 5th Cavalry units from Fort D.A. Russell.
Many places and streets in Laramie have been named after Thornburgh, although no one is sure why, as there seems to be some confusion concerning the part he played in local history. And, despite this fondness for the man, his name is often misspelled as “Thornburg.”