Indian Wars timeline from 1866-1898. Includes tribes involved, battle name, and causes. This era included Red Cloud's War, the Washita Massacre, Marias Massacre, Custer's Last Stand, the Nez Perce War, and the Wounded Knee Massacre, among others.

Date

Name

Description

1866-1868

 

 

Red Cloud's War

 

 

Lakota Chief Red Cloud conducts the most successful attacks against the U.S. Army during the Indian Wars. By the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868), the U.S. granted a large reservation to the Lakota, without military presence or oversight, no settlements, and no reserved road building rights. The reservation included the entire Black Hills.

December 21, 1866

 

Fetterman Massacre

 

Fought near Fort Phil Kearny, Wyoming, Sioux and Cheyenne ambushed Captain William J. Fetterman and 80 men, killing every one of them.

1867–1875

 

Comanche Campaign

 

Major General Philip Sheridan, in command of the Department of the Missouri, instituted winter campaigning in 1868–69 as a means of rooting out the elusive Indian tribes scattered throughout the border regions of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, and Texas.

July 2, 1867

 

Kidder Massacre

 

Cheyenne and Sioux Indians ambushed and killed a 2nd US Cavalry detachment of eleven men and an Indian guide near Beaver Creek in Sherman County, Kansas.

August 1, 1867

 

Hayfield Fight

 

Occurring near Fort C.F. Smith, Montana, Territory, the battle pitted a determined stand of 31 soldiers and civilians against more than 700 Sioux and Cheyenne warriors.

August 2, 1867

 

 

Wagon Box Fight

 

 

Captain James Powell with a force of 31 men survived repeated attacks by more than 1,500 Lakota Sioux warriors under the leadership of Chiefs Red Cloud and Crazy Horse. The soldiers, who were guarding woodcutters near Fort Phil Kearny, Wyoming, took refuge in a corral formed by laying 14 wagons end-to-end in an oval configuration.

August 22, 1867

Battle of Beaver Creek

The Eighteenth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry attacked by Indians in Phillips County, Kansas Two men were killed and 12 seriously wounded.

September, 1867

Battle of Infernal Caverns

Infernal Caverns is the site of an 1867 battle between U.S. armed forces and Paiute, Pit River, and Modoc Indians.

September 17-19, 1868

Battle of Beecher Island

Northern Cheyenne under war leader Roman Nose fought scouts of the U.S. 9th Cavalry Regiment in a nine-day battle.

November 27, 1868

 

Washita Massacre

 

Lieutenant Colonel George Custer's 7th cavalry attacked the sleeping Cheyenne village of Black Kettle near present-day Cheyenne, Oklahoma. 250 men, women and children were killed.

July 11, 1869

 

Battle of Summit Springs

Cheyenne Dog Soldiers led by Tall Bull defeated by elements of U.S. Army. Tall Bull died, reportedly killed by Buffalo Bill Cody.

January 23, 1870

Marias Massacre

White Americans kill 173 Piegans, mainly women, children and the elderly in Montana.

April 30, 1871

 

Camp Grant Massacre

 

A mob of angry citizens from Tucson and their Papago Indian mercenaries clubbed, shot, raped and mutilated 144 Aravaipa Apache people, mostly women and children near Camp Grant. Their actions were taken in "retaliation" for a Gila Apache raid in which six people had been killed and some livestock stolen.

1872–1873

 

 

 

 

Modoc War

 

 

 

 

Fighting northern California and southern Oregon, Captain Jack and followers fled from their reservation to the lava beds of Tule Lake, where they held out against soldiers for six months. Major General Edward Canby was killed during a peace conference—the only general to be killed during the Indian Wars. Captain Jack was hanged for the killing.

December 28, 1872

 

Salt River Canyon Battle

 

Also called the Skeleton Cave Battle, the U.S. Army won its most striking victory in the long history of Apache warfare at this site in Arizona. About 75 Indians died, and most of the rest were captured.

March 27, 1873

 

Battle of Turret Peak

 

Fought in south central Arizona, it was one of the pivotal fights that broke the backs of the Apaches and Yavapais in their efforts to resist white encroachment into their lands.

1874–1875

 

Red River War

 

Occurring in northwestern Texas William T. Sherman led a campaign of more than 14 battles against the Arapaho, Comanche, Cheyenne and Kiowa tribes, who eventually surrendered.

June 27, 1874

 

Second Battle of Adobe Walls

 

 

A combined force of some 700 Comanche, Cheyenne, Kiowa, and Arapaho warriors, led by Comanche Chief Quanah Parker and Isa-tai, attacked the buffalo camp at Adobe Walls in the Texas Panhandle. The hunters held the site and the Indians retreated, but it soon led to the Red River War.

July 4, 1874

 

Bates Battle

 

In a narrow valley Hot Springs County, Wyoming, an Arapaho encampment was attacked by U.S. Army forces under Captain Alfred E. Bates. Bates reported his losses were four killed and five or six wounded, and 25 Arapaho were killed and 100 wounded. Other reports indicate the Arapaho suffered as few as ten casualties.

September 28, 1874

 

Battle of Palo Duro Canyon

 

Cheyenne, Comanche, and Kiowa warriors engaged elements of the U.S. 4th Cavalry Regiment led by Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie in Palo Duro Canyon, Texas.

1876–1877

 

Black Hills War

 

Also called the Sioux War of 1876, the Lakota under Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse fought the U.S. after repeated violations of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie.

March, 1876

 

Battle of Powder River

 

The opening battle of the Black Hills War, between the U.S. Army and the Sioux and Cheyenne on the Powder River in Montana.

June 17, 1876

Battle of Rosebud

 

Lakota under Sitting Bull clashed with U.S. Army column moving to reinforce Custer's 7th Cavalry.

June 25-26, 1876

Battle of the Little Bighorn

 

Sioux and Cheyenne under the leadership of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse defeated the 7th Cavalry under George Armstrong Custer.

July 17, 1876

Battle at Warbonnet Creek

 

Three weeks after Custer's defeat at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, the Fifth U.S. Cavalry skirmished with Cheyenne Indians from the Red Cloud Agency in northwest Nebraska.

September 8, 1876

 

Battle of Slim Buttes

 

Captain Anson Mills' Third Cavalry troopers attacked the Sioux village of American Horse in South Dakota. American Horse was killed in the ambush.

November 25, 1876

 

Dull Knife Fight

 

 

After the Battle of the Little Bighorn the previous summer the U.S. Military began retaliatory campaigns. Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie's 4th Cavalry surprised Dull Knife's winter camp in Wyoming, killing 25 Indians.

1877

 

 

 

 

Nez Perce War

 

 

 

 

Occurring in Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, the Nez Perce were fighting to keep their home in Wallowa Valley. Chief Joseph retreated from the 1st U.S. Cavalry through Idaho, Yellowstone Park, and Montana after a group of Nez Perce attacked and killed a group of Anglo settlers in early 1877. They surrendered near the border to Nelson Miles' soldiers.

August 29, 1877

Battle of Big Hole

 

One of a series of engagements between U.S. troops and the fleeing Nez Perce under Chief Joseph in southwestern Montana.

1878

 

 

 

Bannock War

 

 

 

Elements of the 21st U.S. Infantry, 4th U.S. Artillery, and 1st U.S. Cavalry engaged the natives of southern Idaho including the Bannock and Paiute when the tribes threatened rebellion in 1878, dissatisfied with their land allotments.

1878–1879

 

Cheyenne War

 

A conflict between the United States' armed forces and a small group of Cheyenne families.

September 27, 1878

 

 

Battle of Punished Woman Fork

 

 

Chiefs Dull Knife and Little Wolf of the Northern Cheyenne led their people in a rebellion and flight from confinement and starvation in Indian Territory to their home lands in the north. The Cheyenne made their final stand in Scott County, Kansas, fighting against the U.S. Cavalry.

September 30, 1878

 

Last Cheyenne Raid

 

Cheyenne ambushed Decatur County, Kansas. A running fight with white settlers occurred. In the end 17 settlers were killed in the ambush.

1879

 

 

White River War

 

 

The war was fought between Ute Indians and the U.S. Army Buffalo Soldiers near the area of the White River that passes through both the states of Colorado and Utah.

January 8, 1879

Ft Robinson Massacre

 

Northern Cheyenne under Dull Knife attempt to escape from confinement in Fort Robinson, Nebraska; about fifty survive.

May-August, 1879

 

Sheepeater War

 

 

On May 1, 1879, three detachments of soldiers pursued the Idaho Western Shoshone throughout central Idaho during the last campaign in the Pacific Northwest.

September 29, 1879

 

 

Meeker Massacre

 

 

One of the most violent expressions of Indian resentment toward the reservation system, Ute Indians attacked an the White River Indian Agency in Rio Blanca County, Colorado, burning the buildings and killing Indian Agent, Nathan C. Meeker and nine employees.

September 29 - October 5, 1879

Battle of Milk Creek

 

 

Following the Meeker Massacre, Ute Indians ambushed a column of 150 troops on the northern edge of the White River Reservation in Moffat County, Colorado.

 

April 28, 1880

 

 

Alma Massacre

 

 

Settlers killed by Apaches led by Victorio at Alma, New Mexico. Likewise on December 19, 1885 an officer and 4 enlisted men of the 8th Cavalry Regiment killed by Apaches near Alma, New Mexico.

September, 1879-November, 1880

 

 

 

Ute War

 

 

 

 

 

On September 29, 1879, some 200 men, elements of the 4th U.S. Infantry and 5th U.S. Cavalry under the command of Major T. T. Thornburgh, were attacked and besieged in Red Canyon by 300 to 400 Ute warriors. Thornburgh's group was rescued by forces of the 5th and U.S. 9th Cavalry Regiment in early October, but not before significant loss of life had occurred. The Utes were finally pacified in November 1880.

August 30, 1881

 

 

Battle of Cibeque

 

 

 

When Apache shaman, Noch-del-klinne (the prophet) began to teach dances and rites similar to the ghost dance, he was arrested and fighting erupted along Cibecue Creek, Arizona.

July 17, 1882

 

 

Battle of Big Dry Wash

 

The battle of Big Dry Wash was the last major fight with hostile Apaches in Arizona Territory and marked the end of an era.

September 4, 1886

 

Skeleton Canyon

 

 

Geronimo and less than 40 Apaches, surrendered to Brigadier General Nelson Miles at Skeleton Canyon, Arizona, marking the end of the Apache Wars.

1890–1891

 

 

 

Ghost Dance War

 

 

 

An armed conflict between the U.S. government and Native Americans that resulted from a religious movement called the Ghost Dance. The conflict included the Wounded Knee Massacre and the Pine Ridge Campaign.

November, 1890-January, 1891

 

 

Pine Ridge Campaign

 

 

 

Numerous unresolved grievances led to the last major conflict with the Sioux. A lopsided engagement that involved almost half the infantry and cavalry of the Regular Army caused the surviving warriors to lay down their arms and retreat to their reservations in January 1891.

December 29, 1890

 

 

 

Wounded Knee Massacre

 

 

Sitting Bull's half-brother, Big Foot, and some 200 Sioux were killed by the U.S. 7th Cavalry. only fourteen days before, Sitting Bull had been killed with his son Crow Foot at Standing Rock Agency in a gun battle with a group of Indian police that had been sent by the American government to arrest him.

October 5, 1898

 

Battle of Leech Lake

 

 

Considered the last "Indian War," an uprising of Chippewa occurred when one of their tribe was arrested on Lake Leech in northern Minnesota.

Name

Description

1866-1868

 

 

Red Cloud's War

 

 

Lakota Chief Red Cloud conducts the most successful attacks against the U.S. Army during the Indian Wars. By the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868), the U.S. granted a large reservation to the Lakota, without military presence or oversight, no settlements, and no reserved road building rights. The reservation included the entire Black Hills.

December 21, 1866

 

Fetterman Massacre

 

Fought near Fort Phil Kearny, Wyoming, Sioux and Cheyenne ambushed Captain William J. Fetterman and 80 men, killing every one of them.

1867–1875

 

Comanche Campaign

 

Major General Philip Sheridan, in command of the Department of the Missouri, instituted winter campaigning in 1868–69 as a means of rooting out the elusive Indian tribes scattered throughout the border regions of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, and Texas.

July 2, 1867

 

Kidder Massacre

 

Cheyenne and Sioux Indians ambushed and killed a 2nd US Cavalry detachment of eleven men and an Indian guide near Beaver Creek in Sherman County, Kansas.

August 1, 1867

 

Hayfield Fight

 

Occurring near Fort C.F. Smith, Montana, Territory, the battle pitted a determined stand of 31 soldiers and civilians against more than 700 Sioux and Cheyenne warriors.

August 2, 1867

 

 

Wagon Box Fight

 

 

Captain James Powell with a force of 31 men survived repeated attacks by more than 1,500 Lakota Sioux warriors under the leadership of Chiefs Red Cloud and Crazy Horse. The soldiers, who were guarding woodcutters near Fort Phil Kearny, Wyoming, took refuge in a corral formed by laying 14 wagons end-to-end in an oval configuration.

August 22, 1867

Battle of Beaver Creek

The Eighteenth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry attacked by Indians in Phillips County, Kansas Two men were killed and 12 seriously wounded.

September, 1867

Battle of Infernal Caverns

Infernal Caverns is the site of an 1867 battle between U.S. armed forces and Paiute, Pit River, and Modoc Indians.

September 17-19, 1868

Battle of Beecher Island

Northern Cheyenne under war leader Roman Nose fought scouts of the U.S. 9th Cavalry Regiment in a nine-day battle.

November 27, 1868

 

Washita Massacre

 

Lieutenant Colonel George Custer's 7th cavalry attacked the sleeping Cheyenne village of Black Kettle near present-day Cheyenne, Oklahoma. 250 men, women and children were killed.

July 11, 1869

 

Battle of Summit Springs

Cheyenne Dog Soldiers led by Tall Bull defeated by elements of U.S. Army. Tall Bull died, reportedly killed by Buffalo Bill Cody.

January 23, 1870

Marias Massacre

White Americans kill 173 Piegans, mainly women, children and the elderly in Montana.

April 30, 1871

 

Camp Grant Massacre

 

A mob of angry citizens from Tucson and their Papago Indian mercenaries clubbed, shot, raped and mutilated 144 Aravaipa Apache people, mostly women and children near Camp Grant. Their actions were taken in "retaliation" for a Gila Apache raid in which six people had been killed and some livestock stolen.

1872–1873

 

 

 

 

Modoc War

 

 

 

 

Fighting northern California and southern Oregon, Captain Jack and followers fled from their reservation to the lava beds of Tule Lake, where they held out against soldiers for six months. Major General Edward Canby was killed during a peace conference—the only general to be killed during the Indian Wars. Captain Jack was hanged for the killing.

December 28, 1872

 

Salt River Canyon Battle

 

Also called the Skeleton Cave Battle, the U.S. Army won its most striking victory in the long history of Apache warfare at this site in Arizona. About 75 Indians died, and most of the rest were captured.

March 27, 1873

 

Battle of Turret Peak

 

Fought in south central Arizona, it was one of the pivotal fights that broke the backs of the Apaches and Yavapais in their efforts to resist white encroachment into their lands.

1874–1875

 

Red River War

 

Occurring in northwestern Texas William T. Sherman led a campaign of more than 14 battles against the Arapaho, Comanche, Cheyenne and Kiowa tribes, who eventually surrendered.

June 27, 1874

 

Second Battle of Adobe Walls

 

 

A combined force of some 700 Comanche, Cheyenne, Kiowa, and Arapaho warriors, led by Comanche Chief Quanah Parker and Isa-tai, attacked the buffalo camp at Adobe Walls in the Texas Panhandle. The hunters held the site and the Indians retreated, but it soon led to the Red River War.

July 4, 1874

 

Bates Battle

 

In a narrow valley Hot Springs County, Wyoming, an Arapaho encampment was attacked by U.S. Army forces under Captain Alfred E. Bates. Bates reported his losses were four killed and five or six wounded, and 25 Arapaho were killed and 100 wounded. Other reports indicate the Arapaho suffered as few as ten casualties.

September 28, 1874

 

Battle of Palo Duro Canyon

 

Cheyenne, Comanche, and Kiowa warriors engaged elements of the U.S. 4th Cavalry Regiment led by Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie in Palo Duro Canyon, Texas.

1876–1877

 

Black Hills War

 

Also called the Sioux War of 1876, the Lakota under Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse fought the U.S. after repeated violations of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie.

March, 1876

 

Battle of Powder River

 

The opening battle of the Black Hills War, between the U.S. Army and the Sioux and Cheyenne on the Powder River in Montana.

June 17, 1876

Battle of Rosebud

 

Lakota under Sitting Bull clashed with U.S. Army column moving to reinforce Custer's 7th Cavalry.

June 25-26, 1876

Battle of the Little Bighorn

 

Sioux and Cheyenne under the leadership of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse defeated the 7th Cavalry under George Armstrong Custer.

July 17, 1876

Battle at Warbonnet Creek

 

Three weeks after Custer's defeat at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, the Fifth U.S. Cavalry skirmished with Cheyenne Indians from the Red Cloud Agency in northwest Nebraska.

September 8, 1876

 

Battle of Slim Buttes

 

Captain Anson Mills' Third Cavalry troopers attacked the Sioux village of American Horse in South Dakota. American Horse was killed in the ambush.

November 25, 1876

 

Dull Knife Fight

 

 

After the Battle of the Little Bighorn the previous summer the U.S. Military began retaliatory campaigns. Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie's 4th Cavalry surprised Dull Knife's winter camp in Wyoming, killing 25 Indians.

1877

 

 

 

 

Nez Perce War

 

 

 

 

Occurring in Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, the Nez Perce were fighting to keep their home in Wallowa Valley. Chief Joseph retreated from the 1st U.S. Cavalry through Idaho, Yellowstone Park, and Montana after a group of Nez Perce attacked and killed a group of Anglo settlers in early 1877. They surrendered near the border to Nelson Miles' soldiers.

August 29, 1877

Battle of Big Hole

 

One of a series of engagements between U.S. troops and the fleeing Nez Perce under Chief Joseph in southwestern Montana.

1878

 

 

 

Bannock War

 

 

 

Elements of the 21st U.S. Infantry, 4th U.S. Artillery, and 1st U.S. Cavalry engaged the natives of southern Idaho including the Bannock and Paiute when the tribes threatened rebellion in 1878, dissatisfied with their land allotments.

1878–1879

 

Cheyenne War

 

A conflict between the United States' armed forces and a small group of Cheyenne families.

September 27, 1878

 

 

Battle of Punished Woman Fork

 

 

Chiefs Dull Knife and Little Wolf of the Northern Cheyenne led their people in a rebellion and flight from confinement and starvation in Indian Territory to their home lands in the north. The Cheyenne made their final stand in Scott County, Kansas, fighting against the U.S. Cavalry.

September 30, 1878

 

Last Cheyenne Raid

 

Cheyenne ambushed Decatur County, Kansas. A running fight with white settlers occurred. In the end 17 settlers were killed in the ambush.

1879

 

 

White River War

 

 

The war was fought between Ute Indians and the U.S. Army Buffalo Soldiers near the area of the White River that passes through both the states of Colorado and Utah.

January 8, 1879

Ft Robinson Massacre

 

Northern Cheyenne under Dull Knife attempt to escape from confinement in Fort Robinson, Nebraska; about fifty survive.

May-August, 1879

 

Sheepeater War

 

 

On May 1, 1879, three detachments of soldiers pursued the Idaho Western Shoshone throughout central Idaho during the last campaign in the Pacific Northwest.

September 29, 1879

 

 

Meeker Massacre

 

 

One of the most violent expressions of Indian resentment toward the reservation system, Ute Indians attacked an the White River Indian Agency in Rio Blanca County, Colorado, burning the buildings and killing Indian Agent, Nathan C. Meeker and nine employees.

September 29 - October 5, 1879

Battle of Milk Creek

 

 

Following the Meeker Massacre, Ute Indians ambushed a column of 150 troops on the northern edge of the White River Reservation in Moffat County, Colorado.

 

April 28, 1880

 

 

Alma Massacre

 

 

Settlers killed by Apaches led by Victorio at Alma, New Mexico. Likewise on December 19, 1885 an officer and 4 enlisted men of the 8th Cavalry Regiment killed by Apaches near Alma, New Mexico.

September, 1879-November, 1880

 

 

 

Ute War

 

 

 

 

 

On September 29, 1879, some 200 men, elements of the 4th U.S. Infantry and 5th U.S. Cavalry under the command of Major T. T. Thornburgh, were attacked and besieged in Red Canyon by 300 to 400 Ute warriors. Thornburgh's group was rescued by forces of the 5th and U.S. 9th Cavalry Regiment in early October, but not before significant loss of life had occurred. The Utes were finally pacified in November 1880.

August 30, 1881

 

 

Battle of Cibeque

 

 

 

When Apache shaman, Noch-del-klinne (the prophet) began to teach dances and rites similar to the ghost dance, he was arrested and fighting erupted along Cibecue Creek, Arizona.

July 17, 1882

 

 

Battle of Big Dry Wash

 

The battle of Big Dry Wash was the last major fight with hostile Apaches in Arizona Territory and marked the end of an era.

September 4, 1886

 

Skeleton Canyon

 

 

Geronimo and less than 40 Apaches, surrendered to Brigadier General Nelson Miles at Skeleton Canyon, Arizona, marking the end of the Apache Wars.

1890–1891

 

 

 

Ghost Dance War

 

 

 

An armed conflict between the U.S. government and Native Americans that resulted from a religious movement called the Ghost Dance. The conflict included the Wounded Knee Massacre and the Pine Ridge Campaign.

November, 1890-January, 1891

 

 

Pine Ridge Campaign

 

 

 

Numerous unresolved grievances led to the last major conflict with the Sioux. A lopsided engagement that involved almost half the infantry and cavalry of the Regular Army caused the surviving warriors to lay down their arms and retreat to their reservations in January 1891.

December 29, 1890

 

 

 

Wounded Knee Massacre

 

 

Sitting Bull's half-brother, Big Foot, and some 200 Sioux were killed by the U.S. 7th Cavalry. only fourteen days before, Sitting Bull had been killed with his son Crow Foot at Standing Rock Agency in a gun battle with a group of Indian police that had been sent by the American government to arrest him.

October 5, 1898

 

Battle of Leech Lake

 

 

Considered the last "Indian War," an uprising of Chippewa occurred when one of their tribe was arrested on Lake Leech in northern Minnesota.