Did the Exterminatin of the Buffalo help to end the Indian Wars?

Aug 2011
196
The Castle Anthrax
Nice article linked from HistoryNet. There can be no doubt that the extermination of the plains buffalo helped end the Indian Wars. As an aside, and as already been mentioned, it's difficult, at best, to homogenize all Indian conflicts as "The Indian Wars." There were many factors that tipped the balance in favor of the settlers, such as climate, the development of the railroad infrastructure, and disease to name a few. Also the acts of "Opening" a particular area to settlement or mining provided a moral and psychological boon given the settlers were then not merely trying to overpower local tribes for conquest's sake, but rally around effected settlements. The west is littered with skirmish and massacre sites. All of which had their moment in the frontier and sometimes national press. Subsequently, they severed as rallying cries. I believe the least effective factor against the Indians was the Army. Ultimately it was weapons technology which finally allowed the Army to prevail. Evolving weapons tech notwithstanding, the Army did much to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. One example was the Army's pass on Samuel Colt's new revolver when he offered it to the Department of War. The list of military blunders is extensive. A common tactic was to pursue retreating riders. How many ambushes did the Army run right into? As far as the effect of the extermination of the buffalo herds, the buffalo was the plains tribes' way of life. Extinguishing the herds hastened the settlement of the tribes onto the reservations. I often think in this era of romantic revisionist history what if there were large free roaming herds of buffalo today? We would never tolerate it. Can you imagine driving across the midwest at 80mph and hitting one of those things! Deer and antelope are bad enough, but a buffalo?! Buffalo are an animal that was completely incompatible with the roaring industrial and subsequent revolutions.
 

Zip

Jan 2018
630
Comancheria
The American army defeated the Plains Indians by applying relentless pressure so that the Hostiles never felt secure and had no direction in which to turn. This was how the army defeated the southern plains Indians in the Red River War of 1874-75 and how they defeated the northern plains Indians in 1876-77. Keep in mind that the Plains Indians were closed in by American settlement to both east and west, by a system of forts across Texas to the south and by powerful and potentially hostile Cree and Plains Chippewa to the north in Canada. The Union Pacific railroad also further divided the Plains and served as a means to move troops and hem in Hostiles, as did the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers.

In both the Red River War and the Sioux-Cheyenne war of 76-77 both Nelson Miles and Ranald Mackenzie were key players. Both were resolute, energetic, ruthless and tactically and strategically adept.

Note that some Apaches to the west of the Great Plains were hostile for another ten years after the Plains people were subdued and that the last fight the United States Army had with Indians was in 1898 between the 3rd Infantry and Pillager band Chippewas at Leech Lake Minnesota, in the North Woods. And the Chippewas won the fight.
 
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Nov 2019
3
Wichita Kansas
The Rail Road probably had more to do with the end of the nomadic life, it brought people and the ability to supply them to the plains, Indians were hunting the buffalo and selling the hides to traders for goods, Bent of Bents fort was seeing a noticeable decline in the buffalo as early as the 1850s, by his writings.
The Red River war had as much to do with the German family massacre along the Smoky Hill river trail in Kansas and the capture of the four girls of that family, as it did in protecting buffalo hunters. The girls were taken into Texas and New Mexico with the army looking hard for them.
 

Zip

Jan 2018
630
Comancheria
The Red River war had as much to do with the German family massacre along the Smoky Hill river trail in Kansas and the capture of the four girls of that family, as it did in protecting buffalo hunters. The girls were taken into Texas and New Mexico with the army looking hard for them.
The Comanche had a good racket going with the Shawnees and Delawares in which the Comanches would kidnap Texans and sell them to Shawnees and Delawares who would then return the victims to Texas and collect a reward (a ransom actually) from the state of Texas.
 
Nov 2019
3
Wichita Kansas
The Comanche had a good racket going with the Shawnees and Delawares in which the Comanches would kidnap Texans and sell them to Shawnees and Delawares who would then return the victims to Texas and collect a reward (a ransom actually) from the state of Texas.
The German family were attacked by Cheyenne along the Smoky Hill Trail to Denver, John German and his wife liddia were killed along with two daughters and one son, the remaining four girls were taken prisoner, the attack was lead by Medicine Water who in the weeks before was part of the attack on Adobe Walls. After the girls were taken captive the Cheyenne headed back south stopping near Meade Kansas and attacking one of two parties of surveyors killing all of them, they then proceeded South and two of the girls ended up in Grey Beards band who panicked over soldier pursuit and left the two youngest girls on the prairie near Pampa Texas. The two older girls ended up in New Mexico in Stone Calf's encampment.

The German family story.

The Lone Tree surveyor story.

This was the reason for the Red River War as far as the army was concerned, buffalo hunters out of Dodge City hunting way south of where they could legally hunt per treaty were why the Indians were riled up that year, but that would have been a blurb in eastern papers, the capture of four girls was front page news. The Cheyenne were always reluctant to give up white captives, killing them before allowing them to be taken back many times, all four girls made it through the ordeal, worse for the wear but alive.


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Nov 2019
3
Wichita Kansas
The Rail Road that parallels the Smoky Hill Trail just South of I-70 allowed shipment of buffalo hides by the thousands, with out the rails it was to hard to get hides in quantity east, wagons and the need to keep the hides dry were not very efficient, when the RR arrived it was game over for the free ranging buffalo and Indians.
 
Oct 2019
124
West Virginia
The Plains Indians, especially in the North, often came into the forts and surrendered because they were starving. They were starving because the bison were gone.