South Dakota Indian Battles


Battle of Slim Buttes (1876) – 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.

Wounded Knee Massacre

Wounded Knee Massacre

Wounded Knee Massacre Site, South Dakota (1890) – 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 …

Drexel Mission Fight (1890) – An an armed confrontation between Lakota warriors and the United States Army that took place on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota on December 30, 1890, the day after the Wounded Knee Massacre. The fight occurred on White Clay Creek approximately 15 miles north of Pine Ridge where the Lakota were purported to have burned the Catholic Mission.


Compiled by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated December 2017.

Also See:

Indian War Timeline

Indian Wars, Battles & Massacres

Military Campaigns of the Indian Wars

Three Indian Campaigns

Indian Wars of the Frontier West by Emerson Hough

Winning The West: The Army In The Indian Wars

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *