Red Cloud's War

Red Cloud's War (also referred to as the Bozeman War or the Powder River War) was an armed conflict between the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Northern Arapaho and the United States in Wyoming and Montana territories from 1866 to 1868. The war was fought over control of the Powder River Country in north-central Wyoming. In 1863, European Americans had blazed the Bozeman Trail through the heart of the traditional territory of the Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Lakota. It was the shortest and easiest route from Fort Laramie and the Oregon Trail to the Montana gold fields. From 1864 to 1866, the trail was traversed by about 3,500 miners, emigrant settlers and others. The emigrants competed with the Indians for the diminishing resources near the trail.

The United States named the war after Red Cloud, a prominent Oglala Lakota chief who led his followers in opposition to the presence of the U.S. military in the area. He was allied with the Cheyenne and Arapaho. With peace achieved under the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868, the Indians were victorious. They gained legal control of the Powder River country, although their victory would only endure for 8 years until the Great Sioux War of 1876.

Red Cloud's War consisted mostly of constant small-scale Indian raids and attacks on the soldiers and civilians at the three forts in the Powder River country, wearing down those garrisons. The largest action of the war, the Fetterman Fight (with 81 men killed on the U.S. side), was the worst military defeat suffered by the U.S. on the Great Plains until the Battle of the Little Bighorn ten years later.

Read more about Red Cloud's War:  Background, Council At Fort Laramie, Opposing Forces, War, Treaty of Fort Laramie, Aftermath

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