Conflict on the Plains 

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  • Conflict on the Plains
    • The Civil War (1861-5)
      • Mainly fought in the East
      • Caused by an unsuccessful bid for independence by a Confederacy of 11 Southern States who wanted to continue to allow slavery
      • Westward migration of settlers continued during the war
      • Most of fighting East of Mississippi, but attempts made by both sides to involve Native Americans
      • Many Civil War soldiers - inc. Custer, Sherman and Sheridan - went on to be involved in conflicts with Native Americans
      • War had vital effect on cattle trade
    • Little Crow's War (1862)
      • Little Crow and his tribe of Santee Sioux were living on a reservation in Minnesota.
      • In 1861, crops failed and the compensation the Santee had been promised had not arrived from Washington, leaving 12,000 Santee facing starvation
      • In August, Little Crow had had enough and led the Santee warriors in an attack on the agency, which was the organisation set up by Government to run the reservation
        • Took all the food and provisions from the warehouses and distributed it amongst their starving tribes-people before burning the Agency's buildings
          • Then attacked a party of 45 US soldiers coming to deal with the incident
            • By October, 2,000 Santee had either been captured or had surrendered, those remaining moved to a new, smaller reservation called Crow Creek
    • The Sand Creek Massacre (1864)
      • The Cheyenne, under their chief Black Kettle, were also starving on the Sand Creek reservation in Colorado.
        • Attacked Wagon Trains, took only food leaving travellers unharmed
          • After 3 years of attacks, Black Kettle, Government officials and army commanders tried to reach an agreement
            • In November, Colonel John Chivington attacked Black Kettle's camp with a force of 700 volunteers - 163 Native Americans killed, 110 were women and children
      • White Men and Indians were horrified at what had happened
    • Red Cloud's War (1865-1868)
      • The Bozeman Trail connected the Platte River with the mines in Montana. It passed through hunting grounds of Sioux, which had been guaranteed to them by the Fort Laramie Treaty (1851)
        • Sioux attacked travellers along trail. By 1866, Government had had enough and set up talks with Red Cloud. Talks failed when Red Cloud discovered Army was planning to build more forts along trail
          • Indians continued to attack soldiers and other workers building the forts
      • Fetterman's Trap - In December 1866, Capt. W.J. Fetterman's force was ambushed and destroyed (around 100 soldiers died)
        • Indians surrounded Fort Kearney in a ring with armed warriors. Meant US Army could not move, and no traveller could move along Bozeman trail = stalemate
      • In March 1867, US Government set up a peace commission. Split Indian tribes and put them separately into small reservations
    • The Great Sioux War (1876-1877)
      • Why did the Sioux go back on the warpath?
        • General George Custer reported that there was gold in the Black Hills. Within 6 months, thousands of prospectors swarming Hills, staking claims to land that belonged to the Sioux
        • US Government offered to buy Black Hills from the Sioux. Offer refused
        • Government ordered Sioux to return to their reservation within 60 days. Indians outside reservation = hostile and could be attacked
          • Deep snows and the usual appalling Winter made it impossible for all Indians to obey Government's order. Indian warriors erected 1,000 lodges on lands between Powder River and Rosebud River = ready for war
        • Sitting Bull had vision of white men falling into a Sioux Camp, interpreted it as meaning Sioux would have a great victory
      • The Battle of Little Bighorn (1876)
        • Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse raised the largest Native American force ever seen (about 4000 warriors)
        • The Army sent to oppose this uprising led by General George Crook. Crook hoped to split Indian force, but ended up splitting his own instead.
          • Error made worse by the ambitious Custer, who deliberately sought chance to attack Native Americans alone
        • Custer outnumbered more than 5 to 1 as he entered Valley of Little Bighorn. Didn't have the advantage of technology, Indians had better guns.
        • Custer and all 225 of his command were killed


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