Set aside Great Sioux Reserve for Hunkpapa


Peace Commission Treaties

Various, spring 1868

Brule Sioux (Apr. 29), Crow (May 7), Northern Cheyenne, Northern Arapaho (May 10)

Various chiefs and "headmen"

General William T. Sherman and six other commissioners


Tribes agreed to move onto reservations; usual cash annuities replaced by payment in goods plus promise of cash bonuses to encourage agriculture

30 years

Treaty of Bosque Redondo

Jun. 1, 1868


Various chiefs and "headmen"

Peace commissioners

William T. Sherman and Samuel F. Tappan


Terminated hostilities and established permanent boundaries of Navajo reservation


Fort Bridger Treaty

Jul. 3, 1868

(of Eastern Shoshone)

Various peace commissioners


Tribes to move to 3 million—acre reservation in Wyo. and Idaho



Aug. 3, 1868

Nez Perce

Looking Glass, White Bird, Toohoolhoolzate, Chief Joseph

Representatives of Indian Peace Commission


Tribe to move to new reservation


(Third) Fort Laramie Treaty

Nov. 6, 1868


Red Cloud

General William T. Sherman


Ended Red Cloud's War, closed Bozeman Trail, guaranteed annuities to Indians


a Except the 1 861 treaty negotiated with the "Five Civilized Tribes" by the Confederate States government.

b This is the first Indian treaty formally ratified by the U.S. Senate, setting a precedent and provoking jealousy of the U.S. House of Representatives. c Never ratified by U.S. Senate but followed nonetheless.

d Stevens negotiated more Indian treaties than any other government official during these years.

e So designated in a compact signed among themselves in 1843 to make common cause against the "wild tribes" of the Plains. Source: Candy Moulton, The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in the Wild West (Cincinnati: Writer's Digest Books, 1999), 36-40.

In an unintended caricature of Indian-white relations, a well-armed Indian has hurled his lance into the ground to warn away a grizzled scout leading a wagon train across the Great Plains. Such dramatic confrontations made good copy for eastern readers of Harper'sWeekly Magazine, which ran this engraving September 19, 1874. (Library of Congress)

In an unintended caricature of Indian-white relations, a well-armed Indian has hurled his lance into the ground to warn away a grizzled scout leading a wagon train across the Great Plains. Such dramatic confrontations made good copy for eastern readers of Harper'sWeekly Magazine, which ran this engraving September 19, 1874. (Library of Congress)

January 23, 1870, 173 Piegan (a subtribe of the Blackfeet)—men, women, and children—were massacred in their undefended camp on the Marias River in Montana by U.S. Cavalry troops, and on April 30, 1871, more than 100 Apache under federal military protection at Camp Grant, Arizona, were massacred by a civilian mob. The Indians had plenty of cause to hate and distrust whites aside from broken treaties.

The 2 8-year war against the Plains Indians that began with the Minnesota Uprising (Dakota Uprising) in 1862 did not confer much glory on the army. Yet it was desirable to recognize soldiers who performed heroically even in an ugly war. The only medal available to U.S. soldiers at the time was the (congressional) Medal of Honor, awarded generously during the Civil War, but much more stingily in the Indian Wars. As a result, the army created its own form of recogni tion, the "campaign badge." Unfortunately, it has been largely overshadowed in history by the medals and ribbons awarded for service in foreign wars during the years that followed.

By 1875 the Indian Wars, the longest-running military conflict in U.S. history, were by all appearances in the final stages. From 1862 until 1890 the fighting would be practically continuous, albeit low-level and uncoordinated.Yet ultimate victory was within sight in 1875 for the U.S. troops, who were better organized, more numerous, and had technologically superior arms. The decimation of the buffalo herds merely hastened the end. However, the bloodletting was not over yet. At the end of this period, non-Indian prospectors, pushing into the Black Hills of the Dakotas, were on the verge of provoking the last great clash with the Plains Indians.


Name/Site of Battle





Fort Pueblo Massacre

Dec. 24, 1854

Colorado Territory

Party of Moache Ute versus civilian inhabitants of trading post (fort)

At least a dozen whites killed, woman and two children carried off; only about six Indians killed

Blue Water Creek

Sep. 3, 1855

Nebraska Territory

Colonel William S. Harney and 600 troops versus Sioux village

150 Indians killed versus four dead and seven wounded soldiers

Solomon Fork

Jul. 29, 1857

Kansas Territory

Colonel Edwin V Sumner and 300 troops versus equal number of Cheyenne

Nine Cheyenne killed; tribe remained passive until 1863

"Steptoe's Last Stand"

May 18, 1858

Washington Territory (near Rosalia)

Lieutenant Colonel Edward Steptoe and 158 troops versus 800—1,200 Palouse, Spokane, Coeur d'Alene, Yakima under Kamiakin

Five soldiers killed, 15 wounded, the rest driven away; nine Indians killed, 40—50 wounded; "disastrous affair" for army (Winfield Scott)

Battle of Four Lakes

Sep. 15, 1858

Washington Territory (near Spokane)

Colonel George Wright and 600 troops versus Spokane, Coeur d'Alene, and Palouse war party

18—20 Indians killed, numerous wounded, one chief taken hostage; complete Indian defeat

Poncha Pass

Apr. 28, 1855


Colonel Thomas T. Fauntleroy and 500 troops versus 150 Ute

40 Indians killed, the rest dispersed; ended Ute power in eastern Colo.

Canadian River

May 11, 1858

Indian Territory (Okla.)

John S. "Rip" Ford and 200 Texas Rangers and allied Indians versus Cheyenne village

76 Cheyenne warriors killed, 300 routed

Rush Springs

Oct. 1, 1858

Indian Territory (Okla.)

Captain Earl Van Dorn and four companies of 2nd Cavalry and "Texas tribal auxiliaries" versus Comanche encampment under Buffalo Hump

83 Comanche killed or wounded, 120 lodges destroyed; five U.S. fatalities (included Van Dorn, wounded)

Crooked Creek

May 13, 1859


Brevet Major Van Dorn and troop of U.S. dragoons versus 90—100 Cheyenne

49 Indians killed, five wounded, 37 captured; two soldiers wounded

Apache Pass

Jul. 15-16, 1862

Arizona Territory

James Carleton and 1,800 men of "California Column" versus Apache war party under Mangas Coloradas and Cochise

Indians driven off and Mangas Coloradas wounded

Fort Ridgleya

Aug. 21-22, 1862


400 Sioux under Little Crow in attack on 180-man garrison; 800 Sioux in another attack the next day

More than 100 Sioux killed and wounded; the rest driven off

Wood Lakea



Colonel Henry H. Sibley and 1,500 state militia versus 700 Sioux under Little Crow

Seven soldiers killed and 30 wounded; 30 Indians killed and 30 wounded; Indians routed, ending Sioux War

Birch Couleea

Sep. 2-3, 1862

Minn. (near Fort Snelling)

Captain John L. Marsh and 135 soldiers versus Sioux war party under Little Crow

23 soldiers killed or wounded before Indians driven off by relief force from Fort Snelling

Sacred Heart Creeka

Aug. 18, 1862


Dakota Sioux war party ambush of 28 farmers

27 whites killed

Bear River

Jan. 1863


Patrick E. Connor and Calif. militia versus Shoshone village under Bear Hunter

Village destroyed; Bear Hunter and 200 followers killed

Canyon de Chelly

Jan. 1864

Arizona Territory

Colonel Kit Carson and 1st N. Mex.Volunteer Cavalry versus 60 Navajo in their redoubt

Navajo home base destroyed and inhabitants surrendered

Sand Creek Massacreb

Nov. 29, 1864

Colorado Territory

Colonel John Chivington and 3rd Colo.Volunteers versus peaceful Cheyenne encampment

200+ Indians killed (most women and children); military and congressional investigations

Adobe Walls

Nov. 26, 1864

Tex. Panhandle

Colonel Kit Carson and 321 soldiers and 75 Indian auxiliaries versus Kiowa Apache village of 3,000—7,000

Three soldiers killed, 25 wounded; 100-150 Indians killed, 176 lodges destroyed

Killdeer Mountain

Jul. 28, 1864

Dakota Territory (North)

General Alfred Sully and 3,000 troops in attack on camp of 1,600 (?) Sioux

Five soldiers killed, 10 wounded; 31 (?) Indians killed; Sioux forced to flee, leaving all stores behind

Dove Creek

Jan. 8,1865

Southwest Tex. frontier (near Concho River)

325 Tex. militia and Confederate Regulars under Captain S. S. Totton versus 700 Kickapoo under Chiefs Papequah, Pecan, and Nokowhat

22 whites killed and 24 wounded; 11 Indians killed and seven wounded; soldiers' unwarranted attack caused decade of warfare between Kickapoo and Texans

Fetterman Fight

Dec. 21,1866

Wyo. (near Fort Phil Kearny)

Lieutenant Colonel William J. Fetterman and 80 soldiers ambushed by band of Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapaho

Soldiers all killed; official army investigation relieved fort commander

Fort Phil Kearny

Aug. 1867


Captain James W Powell and 32-man garrison versus 3,000 attacking Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho

Three Indian attacks beaten off and 1,137 Indians killed

Hayfield Fight

Aug. 1867

Mont. (near Fort C. F. Smith)

Party of civilian hay cutters versus Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho war party

Indians driven off but Bozeman Trail virtually closed to regular traffic


TABLE 3.4 (continued)

Name/Site of Battle





Wagon-Box Fight

Aug. 2,1867

Wyo. (near Fort Phil Kearny)

Party of civilian wood cutters versus Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho war party under Red Cloud

See Hayfield Fight

Battle of the Washita

Nov. 27, 1868

Indian Territory (Okla.)

Lieutenant Colonel George Custer and 7th Cavalry Regiment versus peaceful village of Cheyenne and Arapaho under Black Kettle

19 soldiers killed; village destroyed, Indians scattered, Black Kettle killed

Beecher's Island

Sep. 17-25, 1868

Colo. (Republican River)

Major George A. Forsyth and 50 militia troops versus 600 Sioux and Cheyenne warriors

22 soldiers killed or wounded; many Indians killed, included Chief Roman Nose, before relief force arrived

Soldier Spring

Dec. 25, 1868

Indian Territory (Okla.)

Major Andrew Evans and 300 soldiers of 3rd U.S. Cavalry in attack on Comanche and Kiowa village of 200+ warriors

60 lodges destroyed and Indians driven off without provisions

Summit Springs

Jul. 11, 1869

Colorado Territory (near Republican River)

General Eugene A. Carr and troop of U.S. Cavalry versus Cheyenne "Dog Soldiers" under Tall Bull

Forced Southern Cheyenne onto reservation

Camp Grant (Reservation) Massacre

Apr. 30,1871

Arizona Territory

Band of Tucson citizen militia in attack on peaceful camp of Pinal and Aravaipa Apache

83 Indians killed, most women and children; 29 children seized and held in bondage

Warren Wagon Train Massacre

May 18, 1871

Salt Creek,Tex.

War party of 150 Kiowa and Comanche led by Satanta and others in attack on wagons hauling grain from Weatherford to Fort Griffin

Wagon master Nathan Long and six other whites killed vs. unknown number of Indians

Skull Cave

Dec. 28, 1872

Arizona Territory (Salt River Canyon)

General George Crook and elements of 5th U.S. Cavalry versus 100 Yavapai Apache

76 Indians killed; no soldier casualties

Turret Park

Mar. 27, 1873

Arizona Territory

Captain George M. Randall and 23rd U.S. Infantry in attack on Apache encampment

23 Indians killed; no soldier casualties; forced Apache back to reservation for next four years

Lost River



Captain David Jackson and 38 soldiers versus 160 Modoc under Captain Jack

Soldiers prevented from arresting Captain Jack; several soldiers killed; start of Modoc War (1872-73)

Lava Beds

Apr. 11, 1873


Peace commissioners versus Modoc

Two commissioners killed, including General E. R. S. Canby, one badly wounded, one escaped; four Modoc hanged, tribe scattered

Adobe Walls

(Second Battle of)


Tex. Panhandle

28 Buffalo hunters versus 700 Southern Cheyenne,

Arapaho, Comanche, and Kiowa warriors under Quanah Parker and Isa-Tai

Three hunters killed; 13 Indians killed; dozens wounded; the rest driven off; led to Red River War of 1874-75

Palo Duro Canyon

Sep. 28, 1874

Tex. Panhandle

Colonel Ranald Mackenzie and 4th U.S. Cavalry versus Cheyenne, Kiowa, and Comanche war party under Iron Shirt, Poor Buffalo, and Lone Wolf

One soldier killed; three Indians killed; 1,400 Indian horses captured, most destroyed; last stand-up fight by Southern Plains Indians

a Part of the larger action known as the Sioux Uprising or Minnesota Massacre in the summer and fall of 1862. During the course of four weeks, 357 settlers, 90 soldiers, and about 30 Indians had been killed. After peace was restored, 392 Indians were taken into custody for various crimes and tried before a military tribunal.

b Known locally as Big Sandy Creek, it has been recorded in history as "Sand Creek," and therefore the event is popularly if inaccurately referred to as the "Sand Creek Massacre."

Sources: Harvey Markowitz, ed., Ready Reference: American Indians, vol. 1 (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Salem Press, 1995); Charles R. Shrader, ed., Reference Guide to United States Military History, 1815-1865 (New York: Facts On File, 1993); Alan Axelrod, Chronicle of the Indian Wars (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1993); Frederick J. Dockstader, Great North American Indians (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1977), passim.

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