A Guide to the Indian Wars of the West

A Guide to the Indian Wars of the West

A Guide to the Indian Wars of the West

A Guide to the Indian Wars of the West

Synopsis

From 1860 to 1890 the United States military engaged in war after war with the indigenous peoples of the West. This informative work serves as a guide to the battlefields and fits the episodes into the larger historical drama. This detailed guide also leads students, tourists, and history buffs to monuments, parks, museums, and other sources of information about the wars.

Excerpt

The English adventurer Sir Richard Burton referred to the U.S. Army in 1860 as "escorts for squatters, a police of the highway." But it was much more than that. At the peak of the nineteenth-century Indian wars, the army had an effective strength of something less than fifteen thousand men, yet its soldiers manned one hundred thirty-six forts, posts, camps, and cantonments; sixteen arsenals and armories; and three recruiting and one engineer depot. The troops guarded some three thousand miles of frontier and an equal length of seacoast. They scouted thousands of weary miles in uncharted territory. Besides its role as the agent of empire, the army physically attacked the wilderness, building forts, roads, and bridges, at times conducting extensive farming operations and gathering some of the first scientific data on the great hinterland. Troops watched over railroads and telegraph lines and escorted paymasters' and quartermasters'trains. They guarded parties surveying railway territories, boundary lines, and public lands. In later stages of frontier occupancy, the army was a source of jobs for pioneers, and its supply requirements fostered settlements near its garrisons. After discharge, some soldiers stayed to live in the places that they had defended. But the frontier army is most remembered for its campaigns against the many tribes of the West: the Sioux, Cheyennes, Apaches, Comanches, Kiowas, Bannocks, Nez Percés, Arapahos, and many others. The soldiers were the government's agents for subduing those groups who resisted the Euro-American juggernaut, and they have borne the brunt of criticism for conquering and suppressing those diverse and rich cultures. Yet most denigrators forget that as the nation's police force, the same troops often protected the rights and lands of Indians against white encroachment.

Those who served in the army sacrificed a great deal. One of the army's most efficient leaders, Nelson A. Miles, wrote in the North American Review, "No one who has not experienced it can comprehend or appreciate the fortitude, hardships, and sacrifices displayed and endured by our Army . . .

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