Western Immigrants Battle Native Americans



Courtesy Wikimedia Commons


The welcome peace after the American Civil War brought only tragedy to the Native American Indians of the West. The September 2016 Delancey Place blog features the book, Citizen Sherman by Michael Fellman. 


With the North-South war behind them, Generals Sherman, Grant, and Sheridan turned their energies to battling the Western Indians.

The buffalo-hunting warlike Indians were directly in the path of the transcontinental railroads—keys to the planned Western expansion. General William Tecumseh Sherman stated to general Ulysses Grant, “We are not going to let a few thieving, ragged Indians check and stop the progress of [the railroads], a work of national and world-wide importance.”

The army guarded the developing railroads to such an extent that Indian raids could no longer slow construction. Encroaching pioneer settlers joined the army in slaughtering the buffalo, the Native American food supply, as well as assassinating their young warriors. Disease and starvation reduced the remaining Indians  to dependency and ultimately, to reservations.

Army casualties were light during these battles; fewer men were lost than in an average Civil War battle. “It is all moonshine about the great cost of the war,” Sherman bragged to a friend in 1875.



6 responses

    • I never learned it either. Sometimes hindsight and distance seems to bring a truer picture. Right now I am shocked watching the Ken Burns Vietnam war series. When it happened we were new parents, moving a lot, and didn’t have a TV yet.

      • I have it recorded to watch. I’ve heard a number of my friends say either that they were shocked when they watched the first episode, and others say they’re afraid to watch it. I was still in high school during the height of the war and the protests, and too young to really ‘get’ what was going on (except I had a pen pal soldier). I think journalism is much more on top of stories now then it was in the late 60s/early 70s…

  1. Pingback: Western Immigrants Battle Native Americans — Paula Pederson – Native American Music Consort

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