Red River War 1874–75


Map Code: Ax01523

The Medicine Lodge Treaty (1867) allocated Cheyenne, Kiowa, Comanche and Arapaho reservations east of the Texas Panhandle, but the industrial-scale extermination of bison by commercial hunters soon threatened them with starvation. Incited by a spiritual leader who claimed he could make them bullet-proof and invisible, some 300 Indians attacked the bison hunters’ outpost, Adobe Walls, in June 1874. General Sheridan, the local US Army commander, ordered a five-pronged offensive to pacify the Indians. The ‘war’ lasted a year, but had few significant engagements (the main pitched battle in the Palo Duro Canyon resulted in four Indian dead). But ‘scorched earth’ tactics, including the capture and slaughter of the Indians’ horses led to a steady attrition, with a steady trickle of Indians surrendering and reporting to the Fort Sill reception centre for the reservation. The final band of Comanche surrendered in June 1875, ending the resistance of the Southern Plains Indians.

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