23. Sheridans Winter Campaign

General Phillip Sheridan was a main player in moving Plains Indians onto reservations in the 1860s, a time when the Army held many campaigns against native peoples. These campaigns were the result of the Civil War ending and many settlers moving west. Native Americans saw many of these settlers trespassing on their land. The friction between the Native Americans and settlers caused the U.S. government to take action and move Native Americans to reservations. The Native Americans retaliated and refused to move. The government then turned to the military to force Native Americans onto the reservations. In 1867 General Sheridan was appointed by President Grant as head of the Department of Missouri to lead the pacification of Native tribes. General Sheridan realized that Native Americans fought differently than the U.S. military because they relied on ambushing and surprising their enemies. Sheridan adjusted his war tactics by attacking Native Americans in their encampments during the winter in order to give his troops the element of surprise and take advantage of the lack of forage for their horses. In the winter of 1869 General Sheridan attacked the Kiowa, Cheyenne, Comanche, and Arapaho tribes at their camps in what is now northwestern Oklahoma, taking their livestock supplies and killing their horses so they were left to the elements with limited mobility. They were forced to surrender and were taken to reservations.

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General Phillip Sheridan (Image courtesy of PBS)
(Image courtesy of Peter Faris, Slideshare)
Plains Indians War Club ca. 1850, Frontier Army Museum collection.
Moccasins- Plains Indians ca. 1850, Frontier Army Museum collection.