The Terrible Indian Wars of the West

A History from the Whitman Massacre to Wounded Knee, 1846–1890

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About the Book

Expansion! The history of the United States might well be summed up in that single word. The Indian Wars of the American West were a continuation of the struggle that began with the arrival of the first Europeans, and escalated as they advanced across the Appalachians before American independence had been won.
This history of the Indian Wars of the Trans-Mississippi begins with the earliest clashes between Native Americans and Anglo-European settlers. The author provides a comprehensive narrative of the conflict in eight parts, covering eight geographical regions—the Pacific Northwest; California and Nevada; New Mexico, the Central Plains, the Southern Plains; Iowa, Minnesota and the Northern Plains; the Intermountain West, and the Desert Southwest—with an epilogue on Wounded Knee.

About the Author(s)

Jerry Keenan has written for America’s Civil War, Wild West and Journal of the West. Retired from the publishing industry, he lives in Longmont, Colorado.

Bibliographic Details

Jerry Keenan
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 504
Bibliographic Info: 34 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9940-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2310-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Preface 1

Timeline 3

Introduction 7

I—The Pacific Northwest

Prologue: The Oregon Country 15

Death on the Rye Grass: The Whitman Massacre and the Cayuse War, 1847–1855 15

Isaac Stevens 20

“Nits make lice”: The Rogue River Wars, 1851–1857 20

The War of 1853 27

The War of 1855 31

The Yakima and Coastal Wars, 1856–1858 39

II—California and Nevada

Prologue: Bloody El Dorado 50

The Mariposa War, 1850–1851 51

The Mendocino War, 1859–1860 57

Nevada’s Paiute War, 1860 59

The Owens Valley War, 1862–1863 69

War with the Northern Paiutes: Indian Raids Along the Western Segment of the Overland Trail, 1864–1868 73

Chinese Massacre 75

Crook and the Paiutes 76

Hell with the Fires Gone Out: The Modoc War, 1872–1873 79

III—New Mexico

Prologue: Poco Tiempo 92

Navajo Wars 94

The Missouri Volunteers Arrive 94

The Ugliest Man in the Army 98

Sandoval 98

Colonel Edwin Vose Bull Sumner 100

Fort Defiance 100

Henry Dodge 102

Governor David Meriwether 104

Kit Caron Reports 105

Jornada del Muerto 107

Chandler-Eaton Expedition 110

Colonel Benjamin L.E. Bonneville 111

The Black Jim War 115

Colonel Edward R.S. Canby and Major Henry Hopkins Sibley 123

Manuel Chavez, Navajo Fighter 126

The Arrival of Colonel James Henry Carleton 128

Kit Carson’s Expedition to Canyon de Chelly 129

The Long Walk of the Navajo 130

IV—The Central Plains

Prologue: Pike’s Peak or Bust 132

The 1851 Horse Creek Treaty 133

Fort Laramie 133

1853 Overture 135

Grattan Massacre 136

“By God I’m for battle—no peace” 137

Blue Water Expedition 138

Bull Sumner Takes the Field 141

To Colorado 146

Governor John Evans 147

Colonel John Milton Chivington 148

The Hungate Massacre 151

The 3rd Colorado Volunteers 152

Sand Creek 154

The Tappan Commission Investigates 162

The War of 1865 165

Attack on Julesburg 166

Mud Springs and Rush Creek 168

The Connor Expedition 170

Colonel Thomas Moonlight 171

Colonel Nelson Cole, Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Walker and Colonel James H. Kidd 173

The Platte Bridge Fight 175

Connor Attacks Black Bear’s Village 178

The Odyssey of Cole and Sawyer 178

Hancock Takes the Field 183

The Kidder Tragedy 198

Custer Is ­Court-Martialed 199

Philip H. Sheridan 202

The Battle of Beecher Island 203

The Battle of Summit Springs 205

V—The Southern Plains

Prologue: Llano Estacado 207

Conflict on the Southern Plains 209

The Texas Rangers 209

Captain Randolph B. Marcy 211

The Comanche: Lords of the Southern Plains 213

John Robert Baylor 215

The Battle of the Washita 221

Enter the Quakers 227

The Warren Wagon Train Raid 228

Quanah Parker 230

The Red River (Buffalo) War 232

Adobe Walls 234

Colonel Nelson Appleton Miles 235

The Battle of Palo Duro Canyon 240

The Mexican Border Crisis 244

VI—Iowa, Minnesota and the Northern Plains

Prologue: Little Crow to Sitting Bull 248

Conflict on the Northern Plains: War with the Arickaras 248

Spirit Lake, Iowa, 1857 249

Bloodbath in the Heartland: Minnesota, Summer 1862 251

Sunday, August 17, 1862 251

The Santees 252

Little Crow 254

The Uprising Begins 255

First Attack on New Ulm 256

Attack on Fort Ridgely 259

Second Attack on New Ulm 260

The Battle of Birch Coulee 262

General John Pope Is Appointed Department Commander 264

Fort Abercrombie 265

The Battle of Wood Lake and the End of the Uprising 266

The Release of the Hostages 267

The Hanging of the Condemned Santees 267

The Death of Little Crow 268

The Dakota Campaigns of Sibley and Sully, Summer 1863–1864 269

The Battle of Big Mound 270

The Battle of Dead Buffalo Lake 271

The Battle of Whitestone Hill 274

The Minnesota Brigade 278

The Battle of Killdeer Mountain 280

The Teton Lakota: Lords of the Northern Plains 284

Gold and Fire: Red Cloud’s War, 1866–1868 285

The Bozeman Trail 285

Fort Phil Kearny: The Hated Post on the Piney 288

The Fetterman Disaster 290

The Amazing Ride of Portugee Phillips 292

The Hayfield and Wagon Box Fights, August 1867 294

The 1868 Laramie Treaty 298

Massacre on the Marias River, January 23, 1870 300

The Northern Pacific Railroad 300

Custer Meets the Sioux 302

Custer’s 1874 Black Hills Expedition 303

The Great Sioux War 310

Reynolds Attacks the Cheyenne on Powder River, March 17, 1876 310

The Battle of the Rosebud, June 17, 1876 314

The Little Bighorn: Custer’s Nadir, June 25, 1876 316

The “first scalp for Custer” 324

The Battle of Slim Buttes 326

Mackenzie’s Attack on Dull Knife’s Village 336

The Wolf Mountain Campaign 340

The End of the Great Sioux War 343

The Surrender and Death of Crazy Horse 346

The Flight of the Nez Perce 348

The Battle of White Bird Canyon 352

Joseph Surrenders 363

Flight of the Northern Cheyennes, 1878–1879 365

Sitting Bull Surrenders, 1881 370

VII—The Intermountain West

Prologue: The Ute Crisis 376

Mormon Troubles 377

Walkara’s War 378

Conflict in the Mountains 379

Connor Attacks Bear Hunter’s Village 380

Colorado Gold 381

The Blackhawk War 381

The Bannack Uprising, 1878 384

The Ute War and the Meeker Massacre, 1879 387

The Battle of Milk Creek, September 1879 391

The Sheepeater War, 1879 394

VIII—The Desert Southwest

Prologue: West of South and South of West 395

Outposts on the Colorado: Clashes with the Yumas and Mojaves, 1849–1858 396

Apacheria 399

The Apache versus the Spanish 400

The Apache versus Mexico 401

Mangas Coloradas 403

The Norte Americanos 405

John Russell Bartlett and the Mexican Boundary Survey 406

The Acoma Peace Agreement 407

The Butterfield Overland Mail Route 408

Michael Steck 409

War with the Americans: The Bascom Affair 411

Cochise Takes the Offensive 415

Colonel James Henry Carleton 417

The Battle of Apache Pass 418

The Death of Mangas Coloradas 420

The Rise of Cochise 422

The Camp Grant Massacre 427

Crook Arrives in Arizona 428

Thomas Jeffords 430

Howard Meets Cochise 431

Crook’s Grand Offensive 433

The Salt River Cave Fight 435

The Death of Cochise 436

John Clum 438

The Emergence of Victorio 439

The Rise of Geronimo 440

The Cibecue (Cibicue) Affair, August 1881 442

The Return of General Crook 447

Emmett Crawford and Charles Gatewood 447

The McComas Murders 448

Tom Horn 453

Crook Meets with Geronimo 455

Miles Replaces Crook 455

Miles Meets with Geronimo 457

Epilogue

Wounded Knee, South Dakota, December 1890 459

Notes 463

Recommended Reading 469

Index 473

Book Reviews & Awards

“recommend…. Civil War buffs will get a kick out of seeing the pre- and post-Civil War careers of some great Union and Confederate officers”—Civil War News; “the chronological timeline is very valuable and the book has a good index and a solid list of recommended readings. Full of interesting stories about individuals and events and the author’s candid commentary, the book is engaging and a useful reference source”—ARBA; “a comprehensive examination of the wars between European immigrants and indigenous peoples throughout the Western United States between 1846 and 1890”—ProtoView; “a comprehensive narrative…fill[s] a void by presenting a new inclusive study of the Western Indian Wars, one that enables readers to arrive at a fresh and more enlightened view of these terrible conflicts and emerge with a deeper understanding of how they developed and the lamentable consequences that resulted…tells what happened; what brought on the wars, and how they were prosecuted…Keenan has filled the need for an all-encompassing single volume history of the Western Indian wars…brings together the most recent works in the field, and from them distills a comprehensive, readable narrative, historically accurate, yet without the minutiae found in more detailed studies of individual campaigns and battles”—SirReadaLot.org.