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Battles & Massacres of the Indian Wars - Page 3

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Nebraska - See Nebraska battles HERE.
 
 
Paiute War (Summer, 1860) - Also known as the Pyramid Lake War, Washoe Indian War, and the Pah Ute War, this armed conflict resulted due to the Paiute Indians resentment of miners and settlers in the Carson River Valley of western Nevada. In the late 1850's the fertile valley, a welcome sight to emigrants passing over the Carson Branch of the California Trail after traversing an inhospitable stretch of desert, had become the site of two trading posts, the Buckland and Williams Stations. They were Central Overland Mail and Pony Express stations and supplied miners and emigrants.
 
The war was preceded by a series of increasingly violent incidents, culminating in two pitched battles in which approximately 80 Americans were killed. The number of Paiute killed in action is unrecorded. Most of the conflicts took place in the summer of 1860 in the vicinity of Pyramid Lake. Smaller raids and skirmishes continued until a cease-fire was agreed to in August, 1860; however, there was never a treaty negotiated.
 
Williams Station Massacre (1860) - The Williams Station Massacre was the incident that ignited the Pyramid Lake War of 1860. Accounts vary as to the exact details leading to the events at Williams Station; but, most accounts say that two Paiute girls were abducted by traders, held at the station and assaulted.
 
Unbeknownst to their chief, Paiute warriors returned to the station on May 7, 1860, forcing five white men, believed to be have been responsible for the kidnapping inside the building. These men including Oscar Williams, 33; David Williams, 22; Samuel Sullivan, 25; John Fleming, 25; and "Dutch Phil" were forced into the building and the station was burned, with all five men dying inside. Station operator and owner, J.O. Williams, was camping a couple of miles further up the river, and thus escaped the fate of his brothers.
 
The deaths of the men led to a great panic in nearby Virginia City, Nevada. Within no time, a militia was formed from volunteers from Virginia City, Silver City, Carson City and Genoa with the purpose of apprehending the perpetrators. This force consisted of about 105 men and was under the overall command of Major William Ormsby.
 
The site of Williams Station is now submerged beneath Lahontan Reservoir.

First Battle of Pyramid Lake (1860) - Twice in 1860 Paiute Indians, resenting the intrusion of miners and settlers in the Carson River Valley of western Nevada, clashed with troops at this battlefield north of the valley. In the late 1850's the fertile valley, a welcome sight to emigrants passing over the Carson Branch of the California Trail after traversing an inhospitable stretch of desert, had become the site of two trading posts, the Buckland and Williams Stations. They were Central Overland Mail and Pony Express stations and supplied miners and emigrants.
 
Paiute, aroused by the abduction of two Indian girls by traders at the Williams Station, burned it and killed five men in what has become known as the Williams Station Massacre. In retaliation, a volunteer militia was formed from miners at Virginia City, Carson City, Genoa, and Gold Hill under the leadership of Major William M. Ormsby. The volunteer force of 105 men was organized atBuckland Station, near Fort Churchill, and began the trek to the ruins of William Station. Accounts of the expedition indicate that the men were poorly armed, badly mounted, and almost completely unorganized. Finding no one at the station, they proceeded north to the Truckee River and towards Pyramid Lake.
 
On May 12, 1860, they encountered a small party of Paiute who they attacked. The Paiute quickly fled with the militia in pursuit. It was an ambush. The warriors fled into a ravine, where some 200-300 Paiute warriors awaited them. Trapped in the ravine with no escape, 76 of the 105 militiamen were killed, including Major Ormsby, and many of the others were wounded. The survivors fled while being pursued some 20 miles. The number of Paiute killed is not recorded, but, the number is thought to be quite small in comparison.
 
News of the defeat threw miners and settlers into a frenzy of fear and temporarily halted stage and Pony Express service over the western end of the Central Overland Mail route.
 
 

 

Second Battle of Pyramid Lake (1860) - After Ormsby's defeat in the First Battle of Pyramid Lake, settlers called upon legendary Texas Ranger Colonel John C. Hays to lead another expedition against the Paiute. Reinforcements rushed in from California and by the end of the month, some 800 men, including some Regulars, were under arms in Carson Valley. Dubbed the "Washoe Regiment," was composed of 13 companies of volunteers from from the areas surrounding Carson City and Virginia City, Nevada; as well as Sacramento, California. The U.S. Army regulars were sent from Fort Alcatraz, California under the command by Captain Joseph Stewart.

 

Without waiting for Captain Stewart's troops, Colonel Hays led his men towards the site of Williams Station; where he and his volunteers encountered the Paiute on June 3, 1860. In a 3-hour battle, six of the Indians died and the survivors fled into the hills. Two of the volunteers were also killed. Hays' forces were soon joined by Captain Stewart and the troops retraced the steps of Ormsby's command and met the Numaga's Paiute warriors at the same location as the First Battle of Pyramid Lake.

 

In the Second Battle of Pyramid Lake, Hays and Stewart defeated the Paiute, killing some 160 Paiute warriors, and suffering four casualties. The Paiute forced then scattered across the Great Basin. After a minor skirmish in the Lake Range northeast of Pyramid Lake the volunteer forces were disbanded. However, Captain Stewart and his regulars stayed in the area to construct Fort Churchill near Buckland Station, which was tasked withkeeping watch over the defeated Paiute and guarding the stage and mail routes. Small skirmishes and raids continued until August, when an informal cease-fire between Numaga and white surveyors working in the area north of Pyramid Lake was achieved.


The battle site, located on the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation, is virtually unchanged from its historic appearance. It lies in the lowlands along the east bank of the Truckee River, just off Nevada Highway 34, about four miles southeast of the southern tip of Pyramid Lake and immediately south of Nixon. A marker across the street from the Nixon Post Office commemorates the battlefield.

 

North Dakota

 

Killdeer Mountain (1864) - The Battle of Killdeer Mountain, fought on July 28, 1864 in western North Dakota, was an outgrowth to the 1862 Sioux discontent in Minnesota. Leading more than 3,000 volunteers, Brigadier General Alfred Sully confronted more than 1,600 Sioux in the North Dakota badlands, representing one of the largest pitched battles in the history of Plains warfare. Sully’s force approached the Indian encampment dismounted in a large square. The soldiers easily deflected the Sioux charges and drove the warriors from the field. Although casualties were few, Sully was able to destroy vast quantities of Indian stores. Killdeer Mountain Battlefield is operated by the North Dakota State Parks.

 

Oklahoma

 

Killdeer Mountain, North Dakota

Killdeer Mountain, courtesy North Dakota State Parks.

 

Trail at Washita Battlefield

Trail at Washita Battlefield, courtesy the National Park Service.

 

Here in the predawn of November 27, 1868, Lieutenant Colonel George Custer, leading the 7th Cavalry, attacked the sleeping Southern Cheyenne village of Peace Chief Black Kettle. The chief and more than 100 Indians, many of them women and children, were killed. The controversial attack was hailed by the military and many civilians as a significant military victory aimed at reducing Indian raids on frontier settlements. However, Washita was also viewed by many whites and Indian participants as a massacre. Washita Battlefield National Historic Site, located in western Oklahoma, testifies to the struggle of the Southern Plains Indians to maintain their traditional life styles. Casualties included some 21 U.S. soldiers killed and another 16 wounded. Of the Cheyenne, 103 were killed and 53 captured. The site is operated by the National Park Service.

 

Contact Information:

 

Washita Battlefield National Historic Site

PO Box 890

426 E. Broadway
Cheyenne, Oklahoma 73628
580-497-2742

South Dakota

 

Wounded Knee Massacre Site, South Dakota - Wounded Knee, South Dakota, represents the last significant clash between American Indians and U.S. troops in North America. Following the introduction of the Ghost Dance among the Lakota Sioux and the killing of Sitting Bull on December 15, 1890, a Miniconjou band of Sioux led by Chief Spotted Elk (Big Foot) fled the reservation. However, when U.S. troops caught up with them, they surrendered. The surrender turned into tragedy when a gun discharged as the troops were gathering the Indian's weapons, leading to a virtual massacre of Spotted Elk'ss band on December 29, 1890. Situated on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Wounded Knee Battleground is open to the public. There are markers, and nearby is the cemetery with the mass grave of the Indians who died that day. Of those involved in the conflict the U.S. troops suffered 25 dead and 35 wounded. Of the Sioux, 128 were killed and 33 wounded.  More ...

 

Slim Buttes, South Dakota - Following the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Generals Alfred Terry and George Crook took up an unsuccessful summer chase of the Sioux. As the campaign continued into fall, General Crook's column found itself out of supplies. Unexpectedly, as part of the column under Captain Anson Mills was attempting to reach the Black Hills to find supplies, the command stumbled onto the Sioux village of American Horse. On the evening of September 8, 1876, near the present town of Reva, South Dakota, Mills's Third Cavalry troopers surrounded the village and attacked it the next morning. Taken by surprise, the village was destroyed and American Horse killed. Other assaults during the fall and winter convinced most of the Sioux and Cheyenne of the futility of fighting the soldiers. The site is on private land though nearby monument commemorates the battle.  

 

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