Cheyenne and Arapaho War 1864-1868

[ 1864 - 1868 ]

For several years the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians abided by the treaty some of their chiefs had signed in 1861, but they could not live on the poor land that had been assigned to them as a reservation in the Colorado Territory. In 1864, several settlers claimed Indians had stolen their cattle and a hot-headed army detachment clashed with friendly Indians, who defended themselves and killed several soldiers. These small incidents stirred up the whites, whose leaders declared war on the Plains Indians, several of whose chiefs tried to negotiate peace. When these efforts failed, war parties of young braves began attacking the wagon trains along the main trails, burning and looting farms and outposts, and seizing stagecoach stations. In the fall of 1864, a peace-seeking US major gave the Cheyenne permission to pitch their camp close to Fort Lyon, but his replacement ordered them away. Shortly after, fresh troops arrived. They discovered the Cheyennes' winter camp and utterly destroyed it [the Sand Creek Massacre]. This bloody deed infuriated all the Indian tribes, and they rose against all whites from Colorado to Texas. In 1865, three army columns were sent against them, but the army fared poorly and only one Arapaho camp was wiped out. Then the war pretty much fizzled out. The southern tribes of the Cheyenne and Arapaho agreed to move south of the Arkansas River, where they roamed, making only occasional raids.

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