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Native American Conflicts Essay

3177 words - 13 pages

On the summer days of June 25-26, 1876 the Battle of the Little Bighorn took place in the southeastern area of the Montana territory. The battlefield is very close to the Little Bighorn River itself, in what is now present day Big Horn County, Montana. The adversaries in this battle were the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry, commanded by General George A. Custer against the Indian tribes of the Northern Cheyenne, Lakota Sioux, and Arapaho under the leadership of Sitting Bull.
Several years after the Civil War had ended, the U.S. army began to focus it’s attention to arising conflicts with Indian tribes in the plains regions. These conflicts were the result of settlers beginning to migrate further out west, mainly in search of more land and gold. As they moved out more and more, they encroached on lands that the Indian tribes considered to be there own. In order to protect the settlers, the U.S. army sent a heavy amount of troops to be stationed in various locations in the plains regions. Eventually, a series of battles were to ensue between the U.S. Army and the Plains Indians. These battles were known as the Sioux Wars, which ranged from the 1860’s to the late 1870’s. During this time period is when the Battle of the Little Bighorn happened. In the early 1870’s, a good deal of Indian tribes in the Northern Plains had agreed moved to agency reservations, however there were still a good amount of Indians who were resisting the change. The ones who were resisting came together and formed an alliance in the Montana Territory to fight off the U.S. troops. In James V. Schneider’s novel, Behind Custer at the Little Bighorn, he discusses that this alliance was formed by Sitting Bull in 1875. Known as the Sun Dance Alliance, it consisted of the Cheyenne, Lakota Sioux, and large numbers of "Agency Indians" who had runaway away from their reservations to join them. As a result of this alliance, the U.S. Army decided to conduct a campaign with a goal of pushing the remaining Indians back to their reservation once and for all. The campaign would consist of a three pronged column movement coming from the West, South, and East. The forces consisted of cavalry, infantry and artillery. Colonel John Gibbon came in from Western Montana Territory. His force consisted of four companies of the 2nd Cavalry and six companies of the 7th Infantry. Brigadier General George Crook moved his column north from Wyoming Territory with three companies of the 9th Infantry, two companies of the 4th Infantry, five companies from the 2nd Cavalry, and ten companies of the 3rd Cavalry. Brigadier General Alfred Terry marched West from Dakota Territory with two companies of the 17th Infantry, a Gatling gun unit, and twelve companies of the 7th Cavalry, which were under the command of General Custer. The original plan was for the three columns to meet up around June 25-27 and converge on the Indian positions. However, there were several setbacks that caused everything to go haywire. First, Bri....

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