The Worst Hard Time

The Worst Hard Time

by

Timothy Egan

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The Red River War of 1874-1875 Term Analysis

A conflict between several Native American tribes and the U.S. Army. The war began with an uprising of several Southwestern tribes, particularly the Comanche, in response to Texans’ violation of the Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867. The tribes already resented being confined to reservations and became more outraged by “Anglos” who killed their bison to sell the hides and horns back East. In retaliation, the Comanche “went after Anglo stock herds.” In 1874, tribal warriors launched an attack that killed 60 Anglos. In the fall of the same year, General William Tecumseh Sherman led 3,000 federal troops and cavalry in an attack on natives who lived in the Red River valley. The war’s most decisive battle, The Battle of Palo Duro Canyon, resulted in the Comanche’s permanent dispossession of the Southern Plains. Six files of soldiers invaded a Comanche encampment. The natives fled the attack and the army killed 1,048 of their horses. The displaced Comanche ended up wandering the prairie on foot and were starving. Eventually, most were rounded up and sent to various prison camps in the Indian Territory of Oklahoma, while some of their leaders were shipped to prisons in Florida.
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