Wyoming Indian War Battles, Skirmishes & Massacres

Indian Attack on a Wagon Train by Charles Marion Russell

Indian Attack on a Wagon Train by Charles Marion Russell.

Wyoming Indian Wars Map

Wyoming Indian Wars Map

Fort Laramie Skirmish (June 15, 1853)

Grattan Fight (August 19, 1854)

Horse Creek Skirmish (November 13, 1854)

Pass Creek Skirmish (February 20, 1863)

Battle of Grand Pass (July 7, 1863)

Townsend Wagon Train (July 7, 1864)

Kelly Wagon Train (July 12, 1864)

Deer Creek Station (May 20, 1865)

Dry Creek (June 3, 1865)

Sage Creek Station (June 8, 1865)

Battle of Platte Bridge Station (July 26, 1865)

Red Buttes/Custard’s Wagon Train (July 26, 1865)

Powder River Expedition (August-September 1865)

Crazy Woman’s Fork (August 13, 1865)

Battle of Bone Pile Creek (August 13-15, 1865)

Powder River (August 16, 1865)

Battle of Tongue River (August 29, 1865)

Sawyers Fight (August 31, 1865)

Red Cloud’s War (1866-1868)

Cazeau Wagon Train (July 17, 1866)

Crazy Woman Creek  (July 20, 1866)

Clear Creek (July 24, 1866)

Peno Creek (December 6, 1866)

Fetterman Massacre (December 21, 1866)

Overland Route Attacks (Summer, 1867)

Wagon Box Fight (August 2, 1867)

Bozeman Trail (Fall, 1867)

Attacks on the Plains (1868-69)

Sweetwater Mining District (1868-70)

Three Crossings (August 9, 1868)

Raids on the Wind River (Summer, 1869)

Army Skirmishes (September 14-17, 1869)

Miners Delight (September 29, 1869)

Raid on the Arapaho (April 7, 1870)

Atlantic City (May 4, 1870

Depredations Continue (1872-73)

Bates Battle (July 4, 1874)

Great Sioux War of 1876-77

Dull Knife Fight (1876)

More Indian Resistance (1876-77)

Isolated Incidents (1978-1882)

The Last Indian Battle (October 24, 1903)

Plains Indians

Plains Indians.

As more and more emigrants began to pass through Wyoming on their way west, the Native Americans who called the region home or used it as hunting grounds began to resent the traffic through their lands, especially after the California Gold Rush. As a result, the U.S. government began negotiating with the Plains tribes living between the Arkansas and Missouri Rivers to ensure a protected right-of-way for the many travelers. To accomplish this, the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 was signed with representatives of the Cheyenne Sioux, Arapaho, Crow, Assiniboine, Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara nations on September 17, 1851. The treaty set forth the Indians’ traditional territorial claims, guaranteed safe passage for settlers, and allowed the government to build forts and roads across the territories. In return, the government was to provide annuities of $50,000 for fifty years to the tribes. Later, the U.S. Senate ratified the treaty, adding Article 5, which adjusted the compensation from fifty to ten years if the tribes accepted the changes. All tribes accepted the change except for the Crow.

The treaty produced a brief period of peace, but several tribes did not receive the commodities promised as payments, and the government chose not to enforce the treaty to keep out the emigrants; especially during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush of 1858, the tribes began to retaliate. As attacks began on settlers intruding upon their lands, the military presence along the trails increased, and several forts were established. When the Bozeman Trail was blazed in 1864, more emigrants intruded on Indian lands, resulting in more attacks. As a result, Major General Grenville M. Dodge ordered the first Powder River Expedition to attempt to quell the violence in 1865. The expedition ended in a battle against the Arapaho in the Battle of Tongue River. However, the fighting escalated again the following year in what has become known as Red Cloud’s War, which was the first major military conflict between the United States and the Wyoming Indian tribes. The second Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868 ended the war by closing the Powder River Country to white settlers.

This treaty was also broken by miners who flocked to the Black Hills after gold was discovered. This land, sacred to the Sioux, led to the Black Hills War, fought mainly along the border of Wyoming and Montana.

Indian Battle

Indian Battle.

Several skirmishes, battles, and massacres occurred during these turbulent years. Fort Phil Kearny saw some of the most dramatic incidents, such as the Wagon Box Fight and the Fetterman Massacre.


Compiled by Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated April 2024.

Also See:

Indian War Campaigns and Battles

Indian War List and Timeline

Indian Wars Photo Gallery

Winning The West: The Army In The Indian Wars