History

Study Notes

Red Clouds War

Level:
GCSE
Board:
Edexcel

Red Cloud was a respected war leader of the Lakota Sioux Tribe. Gold was discovered in Montana in 1862. To reach Montana, gold prospectors began to use a short cut called the Bozeman Trail. This crossed through important Lakota Sioux hunting grounds, which meant thousands of gold prospectors were trespassing Indian land. The Lakota Sioux responded by attacking them. 

Red Cloud was a respected war leader of the Lakota Sioux Tribe. Gold was discovered in Montana in 1862. To reach Montana, gold prospectors began to use a short cut called the Bozeman Trail. This crossed through important Lakota Sioux hunting grounds, which meant thousands of gold prospectors were trespassing Indian land. The Lakota Sioux responded by attacking them.

 

In 1866, the US government attempted to create a new treaty with the Lakota Sioux. The US wanted to persuade the Lakota Sioux to allow prospectors to travel safely through the Bozeman Trail. Yet, before talks had even begun, Red Cloud discovered that the US government had begun building forts along the Bozeman Trail. He realised the government were going to allow prospectors to travel across the Bozeman Trail whether the Lakota Sioux agreed to it or not. Red Cloud called off negotiations with the government and chose to fight instead.

 

On the 21st of December 1866, the Lakota Sioux attacked a fort along the Bozeman trail. Captain Fetterman was given the job of defending it. The Lakota Sioux had created a tactic where they would send a few men to be spotted by US soldiers, who would then lead them into an ambush. When Fetterman spotted a couple of Lakota Sioux, he ordered his men to pursue them. Fetterman’s 80 men were led into a trap. Over 1,000 Lakota Sioux warriors surrounded them. All of Fetterman’s men were murdered, stripped, scalped and mutilated. This event became known as Fetterman’s trap.

  This was the US army’s worse defeat ever against Plains Indians. It convinced the government that they needed to try persuade the Lakota Sioux to allow prospectors to travel through the Bozeman Trail, rather than to continue fighting them.  It resulted in the second Fort Laramie Treaty. 

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