The American army is marching deep into the prairie. A scene from the film "Sound of a Distant Trumpet"
For 90 years, the American army served as a kind of buffer between the indigenous Indian population of the Wild West and white settlers. It so happened that she fought with them, it also happened that she also protected them ...
“I must be going to Indian territory before Tom and Jim, because Aunt Sally is going to adopt and raise me and I can't stand it. I've already tried. "
("The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn". Mark Twain)
("The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn". Mark Twain)
History land overseas. The publication of the latest materials showed that VO readers are interested in materials on the history of the United States, and they read them with pleasure. There were also questions that needed additions and answers. For example, the question about the Indians. After all, "race for land" took place on their territory. And in general, what happened to them and how. Moreover, not with "Indians in general" (this is a separate story, very interesting, and a series of articles on it will definitely appear here - I promise), but with those who just lived on the prairies, which were used as free lands under the Homestead Law ... After all, there were also many so-called "Indian wars", agreements were concluded with the Indians, in a word, there was "a whole life." And finally, today we will tell you about its military aspect ...
Well, let's start with 1803 and finish in 1893, that is, consider a period of as much as 90 years. In the history of the American army in the West at this time it is quite possible to distinguish at least seven main phases.
Here in this book it is interesting and detailed about the Apaches ...
The first phase - 1803-1819, a period that began with the purchase from France of a territory called "Louisiana". And they bought it, but no one even knew what to do with it for a while. It wasn't until the late 1810s that the federal government decided to use most of the new territory as a resettlement zone for East Indians, so that they could be placed. The first settlers of the East Indians were the Cherokee, who, beginning in 1808, voluntarily emigrated to the area that soon became western Arkansas. And between the Cherokee and the local Osage Indians, a fierce war over hunting grounds immediately began. The army tried to stop the bloodshed, for which Fort Smith was founded on the Arkansas River in 1817, which, by the way, can be considered the first US military post in present-day Oklahoma.
And here - about the Comanches
At the second stage of the presence of the army in the West, in 1819-1830, the so-called "permanent border with the Indians" was created. Moreover, the Indians of the newly created territories of Missouri (1816) and Arkansas (1819) had to go further west. Then, between 1819 and 1827, a line of seven new military post-forts was established, stretching from what is now Minnesota to Louisiana. The tasks of the forts were diverse: they were supposed to both maintain peace between the settlers and the Indians, and not allow the Indians themselves to feud, and protect those farmers who already lived west of the established border.
1900 Comanche shirt, National Museum of the American Indian, Washington
Military action in Oklahoma intensified in the third phase, in the period 1830-1848, which began with the passage of the Indian Resettlement Act and ended with the end of the war with Mexico. During the 1830s. US President Andrew Jackson signed about seventy treaties with the Indians, according to which they were supposed to emigrate to the "Indian Territory" in the West. Most of the Indians moved to the current states of Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma. The resettlement took on the character of forced deportation, which had to be supported by the army.
Comanche leggings. National Museum of the American Indian, Washington
Some of the treaties required the United States to provide protection for the "remote" East Indians from the "wild Indians" of the plains. The resettled peaceful Indians (and there were some!) Had a particularly hard time - they were also forced to deal with fugitive criminals and whiskey traders from Arkansas, as well as with robbers and horse thieves from Mexican Texas (an independent republic of Texas after 1836). On the other hand, the Comanche and Kiowa tribes began using "Indian territory" as a refuge after the attack on American settlements in Texas. In response to demands for an end to their attacks, the US Army rebuilt the old Gibson and Smith Forts and established new ones: Fort Coffee (1834), Wayne (1838), and Washita (1842). They were connected by a system of roads along which army patrols moved.
Moccasins of the Haida Indians. National Museum of the American Indian, Washington
During the war phase of 1830-1848, the soldiers took part in four expeditions into Indian territory in Oklahoma. One of the goals of the military operations was to ensure the work of the Stokes Commission. It was a commission created in 1832 by US Secretary of War Stokes, whose purpose was to discourage Comanche and Kiowa raids on the East Indians of the Great Plains. Captain Jesse Bean's 1832 expedition of volunteer "mounted riflemen" and Captain James B. Money's 1833 expedition of infantry and marksmen were unable to make contact with the Indians they were looking for. But Captain Henry Dodge's horse-drawn Dragoon Expedition of 1834 was still able to convince some Kiowas, Comanches and Wichita in southwestern Oklahoma to meet with US representatives.
The Dragoon Expedition was the first major equestrian military expedition in US history. A year later, the Stokes Commission dispatched Major Richard B. Mason to the Indians with another batch of dragoons. As a result, in 1835 at Camp Holmes, the first US treaty was finally concluded with the Southern Plains and Southwest Indians.
Comanche moccasins. National Museum of the American Indian, Washington
The fourth phase of hostilities began again in Oklahoma (1848-1861) between the end of the war with Mexico and the outbreak of the North-South civil war. This period was a period of intensive settlement of the new state of Texas (1845) and new territories - Nebraska and Kansas (1854). Today's Oklahoma has become the site of the expulsion of the Indian population from Kansas, Nebraska and Texas. Accordingly, now it was Oklahoma that was called "Indian Territory". The army was once again called upon to become a tool for coercing Indians to evict. New forts were built: Cobb (1859), on the lands around which the Indians from Texas settled, and Fort Arbuckle (1861). The latter was supposed to protect the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians, as well as the white settlers in the area, from the increasingly frequent raids from the Kiowa and Comanches from Texas.
Saddle of the Hopi Indians. National Museum of the American Indian, Washington
And these are their stirrups! National Museum of the American Indian, Washington
Navajo saddle cover. National Museum of the American Indian, Washington
The so-called "Comanche Frontier" was established in Texas, and in 1858 most of the future state of Oklahoma became part of the Texas Department of the US Army. In the same year, two campaigns were launched in Texas against the Comanches and the Kiowa. On May 12, Texas Rangers, led by John S. "Rip" Ford, attacked Indians hiding near the Antelope Hills in western Oklahoma. On October 1, the Second Cavalry, commanded by Captain Earl Van Dorn, attacked the Comanches who were camped on Rush Springs in southern Oklahoma.
Quiver of mods. National Museum of the American Indian, Washington
At that time, many had to defend. These were emigrants traveling along the Texas Road, passengers of Butterfield ground mail, and again peaceful Indians. All this, as well as the war with the Indians, required an increase in the peacetime army. The need for additional equestrian units was especially great. In 1855, two more infantry and two cavalry regiments were sent west. The latter were already the very "real" dragoon cavalry, which is shown to us in films about the American army and Indians of those years. Moreover, in the 1850-1870s, due to the recruitment of Indians from Indian territories as scouts, the combat effectiveness of this cavalry increased sharply. Suffice it to say that an Indian scout in the service of the US Army received $ 30 a month (at that time a lot of money), ready-made uniforms and only he was entitled to a nickel-plated Colt Scout revolver, which all scouts were very proud of.
Springfield carbine model .55 caliber. Belonged to the leader Geronimo. National Museum of American History, Washington
The practice of inciting Indians against Indians reached its climax at the next stage of hostilities - during the American Civil War in 1861-1865. There were several reasons why the Indians took a very active part in this war. One of them was the hope that going over to the side of the United States or the Confederation could increase their chances of keeping Indian Territory safe from pale-faced encroachment.
The second consideration was the opening of the opportunity to settle long-standing political and family conflicts under the thunder of the guns of the southerners and northerners. The third factor was the concern of the Indians with the withdrawal of garrisons from the "Indian Territory", since these troops were needed east of the Mississippi. A very important factor that many forget about - the Indians have banally stopped paying annual payments, to which they have already got used to. Well, the last reason is also very simple: the Indians, it turns out, also had slaves, and they simply did not want to lose them, so they supported the Southerners!
Blackfoot Tomahawk. National Museum of the American Indian, Washington
Confederate Indian Commissioner Albert Pike skillfully played on the discontent of many Indians with the United States, which allowed the Southerners to forge alliances with many Indian tribes. During the war, about 5000 Indians from "Indian Territory" were recruited into eleven regiments and eight battalions of the Confederation. On the other hand, about 3350 Indians fought in three regiments of northerners on the border. The result of the participation of the Indians in the Civil War was their accelerated integration into American society. But most importantly, the treaties of the Indians with the Confederation provided the US government with the opportunity to consider them the loser and act with them on the principle of "woe to the vanquished"! Already in 1866, new treaties were concluded with the Indians-supporters of the Southerners, which dealt a strong blow to the autonomy and territorial integrity of the "Indian Territory". Shortsightedness once again played a cruel joke with the Indians. They had to bet on the winner, whom they did not guess, and then ... in any case, then they would not be considered losers!
Pawnee scouts. Photos of those years
The sixth phase of hostilities - 1865-1875. At this time, gold was found in the lands of the Indians, and gold diggers began to scour their hunting grounds even during the war. Several of the miners took part in the infamous Sand Creek Massacre in 1864. By 1867, the new states of Kansas and Nebraska had achieved almost complete expulsion of all Indians from their territories. Railroads cut through the lands claimed by the lowland peoples. The rapid growth of settlements in the plains also increased the possibilities for traditional Native American raids.
Cheyenne: Women's dress embroidered with cowrie shells. National Museum of the American Indian, Washington
The solution to urgent problems was a series of treaties concluded with individual Indian chiefs in 1867 at Madison Lodge Creek, Kansas. According to them, in Oklahoma, reservations were organized for the Cheyenne Arapaho and Kiowa Comanches, where they were promised not to be touched. But from the beginning, the new reservations began to suffer from administrative corruption, depletion of pastures and the inability of the army to stop the invasions of horse thieves, pastoralists and hunters on Indian lands.
Cheyenne scout. Photos of those years
The result was renewed attacks by the Southern Cheyenne in Kansas and Nebraska. These attacks coincided with the Kiowa and Comanche raids in Texas and Kansas already from the new Indian reservation. At this time, Major General Philip H. Sheridan was the commander of the United States Army in Missouri, operating in most of the Great Plains. They sent troops under the command of Alfred Sully and George A. Custer to the northwest of Indian Territory. On November 27, 1868, Caster attacked the Indian camp on the Washita River. However, there were the peaceful Indians of the leader of the Black Cauldron. Another column of Major Andrew W. Evans from New Mexico took the Comanche and Kiowa camp at Soldier Spring by surprise on Christmas Day 1868. The soldiers staged a uniform massacre there, which, however, prompted many fighting Indian detachments to disperse.
Comanche shield. National Museum of the American Indian, Washington
New forts were also built: Fort Sill (1869) to oversee the agency in the Comanche-Kiowa lands and Fort Reno (1875) to guard the Cheyenne-Arapahoe County. The founding of Fort Sill coincided with the outbreak of the Red River War in 1874-1875.
Kiowa drawing. National Museum of the American Indian, Washington
The Red River War was the largest Indian war ever. To win, Sheridan planned a five-column invasion of the Comanche and Kiowa lands of the Texas Panhandle in the fall and winter of 1874-1875. Of the fourteen major battles during this war, three again took place in what is now Oklahoma. By June 1875, the last of the Comanche Indian chiefs had surrendered to the authorities. By that time, more than 70 Indian chiefs had been arrested and sent to a military prison in Florida.
The last conflicts with the Indians took place in 1875-1893. In 1887, the Dawes Act was passed and the Dawes Commission (1893) was established, which divided the communal lands of the Indians into separate land plots, which finally destroyed the traditional life of the Indians and contributed to many land scams.
Apache Indian. For a long time we have represented Indians fighting with bows and arrows against rifles. But look at this fellow. He is armed with a revolver and a 26-round (!) Evans carbine, model 1871, which was never in service with the American army and was incredibly expensive. And the question is: where could he get it?
Between 1882 and 1885, the army repeatedly sent cavalry units to capture armed squatters (land invaders) who were attempting to seize land without permission and escort them back to Kansas. But the squatters still managed to achieve the distribution of land. Therefore, in 1889, the army was given the responsibility to regulate the use of the so-called "unassigned land" in central Oklahoma. The army was to organize and control the "land races" in the Cheyenne-Arapaho lands in 1892 and the same races in the Cherokee lands in 1893. Watching the 1893 race was the last "combat" task of the old US Frontier Army. By the way, now no one drove the Indians from their lands. They sold them themselves, because, as it turned out, they significantly exceeded the statutory ownership. The government paid the Indians, and then ... the land for a symbolic 10 dollars was received by the participants in the "land race". Well, the story of how exactly they happened, we will continue in one of the next materials of this cycle.
To be continued ...