An Inglorious War: The U.S. Civil War, Guerrilla Fighting and the American Plains Indians



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In the years following the Civil War the U.S. government wanted to open the Southern Plains up for white settlement and railroad construction through the region; and to accomplish this the U.S. government believed they needed to remove the Southern Plains Indians as a threat to the region. This work examines the tactics utilized by the U.S. Army in fighting on southern Plains during the years following the Civil War and connects the counter-guerrilla tactics and total war theory developed and utilized during the Civil War to wars against the Southern Plains Indians. The work focuses primarily on the guerrilla war aspect of the conflict. Since the U.S. Army did not have an official tactical doctrine on Indian fighting, commanders in the field developed an ad hoc approach relying on their experiences with fighting Confederate guerrillas known as total war theory. Unable to match the American Indian’s geographic knowledge or mobility, the U.S. Army countered with destruction of homes, horses and most importantly buffalo to force the Southern Plains tribes onto reservations.



Civil War, Plains Indian, Total War, Guerrilla War, Comanche, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Genocide, Ethnic Cleansing