Southern Plains Battle Map

Michael has a BA in History & American Studies and an MSc in American History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a proud military family and has spent most of his career as an educator in the Middle East and Asia. His passion is travel, and he seizes any opportunity to share his experiences in the most immersive way possible, whether at sea or on the land.

Part of our in-depth series exploring the forts of Comancheria

Spanish Plains Battle Map

Apaches Ambush Spanish Expedition, 1743* | Baldwin Attacks Cheyennes on McClellan's Creek, 1874 | Battle of Sand Hills | Carr Battles Tall Bull's Cheyennes, 1869 | Cherokee Massacre Clermont Village | Cherokees Attack Tawakonis near Mexia | Cherokees Attack Chouteau's Post, 1821 | Cheyenne Attack on Julesburg and Fort Rankin, 1865 | Cherokees Attack Osage Caravan, 1821 | Cherokees Attack Tawakonis on Brazos, 1829 | Choctaws Attack Bogy | Choctaws Fight Caddos | Comanches & Allies Battle Osages | Comanches & Wichitas Attack Osage | Comanches Attack El Valle | Comanches Massacre Skidi Pawnees, 1819 | Eayre Attacks Cheyennes | Fort Clark Troops Battle Kiowas | Kiowas Besiege Wagon Train | Nortenos Attack | Onate Fights Escanjaques | Osages Attack Kiowa Village | Osages Destroy Ferdinandina | Osages Massacre Pawnees | Osage Villages Attacked | Parrilla Attacks French Fort | Spanish Attack Comanches (CO) | Spanish Attack Comanches (NM) | Spanish Destroy Apache Settlement | Spanish Incursion Apache Territory | Spanish Kill Chief Cuerno Verde | Spanish/Apache Battle | Spanish/Apache Battle - San Gabriel | Spanish/Apache Battle - San Saba | Spanish/Comanche/Wichita Defeats Apaches | Sumner Attacks Cheyennes | Wichita Agency-Tonkawa Massacre | Battle of Wolf Creek

*In 1743 Apaches ambushed and severely defeated a Spanish force of two hundred

Carr Battles Tall Bull’s Cheyenne’s, 1869

In June of 1869, Major General Eugene A. Carr caught Tall Bull's Cheyenne band at Summit Springs near the Platte River. In an all day fight Carr's men killed fifty-two Cheyenne, including Tall Bull, and burned their village.

Cherokees Massacre Clermont’s Village, 1817

In July 1817 the Arkansas Cherokees wrote to William Clark, governor of the Missouri Territory, charging that the Osage had stolen their best horses and killed many of their people. Shortly after this correspondence had been forwarded, the Arkansas Cherokee were joined by other Cherokees from Alabama and Tennessee. This force, led by the war chief Takatoka, also counted in its ranks members of other tribes who had grievances against the Osage. The Osages of Clermont's Village on the Verdigris were totally surprised. The attacking Cherokees burned the village and destroyed the crops and winter food stores. Eighty-three Osages were reported to have been killed and more than a hundred taken prisoner.

Cherokees Attack Tawakonis Near Mexia, 1830

In the summer of 1830 Cherokee Chief John Smith led a war party south into Texas. A reported 125 Cherokees successfully assaulted a Tawakoni village near Mexia. After the Tawakonis took shelter in some nearby caves, the Cherokees built fires and smoked them out, cutting them down as they tried to escape.

Cherokees Attack Chouteau’s Post, 1821

In June 1821 a Cherokee war party led by the half-blooded chief Walter Webber struck the Chouteau trading post on the Grand River. Their justification was that the manager of the post, Joseph Revoir, had been supplying the Osage with guns and ammunition. Revoir was murdered and his scalp taken back to the Cherokee village where it was used as the centerpiece of a Fourth of July celebration.

Cherokees Attack Osage Caravan, 1821

In September 1821 a war party of 300 Cherokee, led by Tom Graves, attacked a caravan of Osage on their annual fall hunt near the Cimarron River. Sixty-three Osage, mostly women and children, were killed and thirty captives and seventy horses were taken.

Cherokees Attack Tawakonis on Brazos, 1829

In 1827 five Cherokees and a Creek Indian were caught trying to steal horses from a Tawakoni village. Three escaped and watched from hiding as their less fortunate comrades were killed and scalped, then their bodies lashed to poles as the Tawakonis celebrated with a scalp dance. The Texas Cherokee were greatly offended and wrote to the Arkansas Cherokee concerning the matter. In July 1829 a war dance and council were held at Bayou Menard, east of Fort Gibson. A half-blood Cherokee war captain named John Smith urged the assembled Cherokee and Creek warriors to join him in an expedition to assist their Texas brethren. Smith led several braves to Dutch's village south of the Red River and then on to the settlements of Big Mush. Dutch led the Cherokee war party, numbering sixty-three after being reinforced by Cherokees from other villages, against the Tawakoni on the Brazos River near the present city of Waco. A gruesome massacre followed with the Cherokees taking fifty-five to sixty Tawakoni scalps before leaving for home.

Choctaws Attack Bogy at Mouth of Verdigris, 1807

On January 7, 1807, some Choctaws led by Chief Pushmataha happened upon a French trader named Joseph Bogy and his men unloading goods to trade with the Osage, bitter enemies of the Choctaw, near the mouth of the Verdigris River. Pushmataha and his band attacked the Frenchmen, drove them back and plundered the goods.

Choctaws Fight Caddos at Caddo Hill, 1797

In 1797 a large Choctaw war party crossed the Mississippi River to make war on the Caddos. They returned to Natchez with several scalps hanging from poles.

Comanches and Allies Battle Osages, 1824

In 1824 the Comanches, Arapahos and other tribes gathered a force of some 2000 warriors for a foray against the Osage. An advance party of about fifty Comanches was ambushed by the Osage. When the main body arrived they found the Osage heavily fortified along the opposite bank of the Arkansas River supported by fourteen white men. After losing two men the Comanches abandoned the fight and returned home.

Comanches and Wichitas Attack Osages, 1789

In 1789 a combined force of Comanche and Wichita warriors unsuccessfully attacked against the Osage villages in present-day Missouri.

Comanches Attack El Valle, 1773

In July 1773, 500 Comanches raided El Valle, only 45 miles from Santa Fe, and drove off most of the horse herd at the presidio. Two hundred of the animals were recovered when scouts from a Spanish force in pursuit of the Indians surprised them.

Comanches Massacre Skidi Pawnees, 1819

During the winter of 1818-19, ninety-three Skidi Pawnee warriors went south to steal Comanche horses. The Skidi, who on foot, stopped near the Comanche camp to braid rawhide lariats to lead the stolen horses away. As they were doing this they were attacked from several directions by mounted Comanches. Some of the forty Skidis who escaped were wounded. Many of these died on the journey home.

Eayre Attacks Cheyennes, Kills Lean Bear, 1864

In May, 1864, Colonel John M. Chivington ordered Lieutenant George S Eayre into Kansas from Denver, with an eighty-four man detachment to burn villages and kill Indians after the murder of a family near Denver by Northern Arapaho. They came upon a large Cheyenne buffalo hunt on the Smoky Hill River led by Lean Bear. This chief had visited with Abraham Lincoln in Washington, D.C. a year earlier. When the troops were spotted, he and another Cheyenne named Star rode out with the intention of displaying a letter from the president stating that they were friendly Indians but as they approached Eayre's command they were gunned from their ponies. It was the people of Kansas, not Colorado, who suffered the repercussions for this murder as the Cheyennes struck transportation lines and settlements throughout the state that summer.

Onate Fights Escanjaques

Earliest recorded tribal conflict on the plains was reported by Governor-General Don Juan de Onate in southern Kansas in 1601 when his Spanish expedition found themselves caught between two warring tribes; the Escanjaques, whose lineage is unknown, and the Rayados, generally believed to be Wichitas. The Escanjaques had followed the Spanish to the Rayado village just beyond a broad river thought to have been the Arkansas. That these two primitive peoples were bitter enemies became immediately clear. Approximately 300-400 Rayado warriors occupied a hilltop facing the 70 Spaniards hooting and twanging their bowstrings. To their rear the Escanjaques shouted insults and counterchallenges at the Rayados. After exchanging presents with the Rayados in an attempt to avoid a fight the Rayados invited the Spanish to their village. The next day, Onate found the village deserted. When the Escanjaques began to loot and burn the village, he ordered his men to put a stop to the plundering. As the Spaniards started back to New Mexico, they were attacked by an estimated 1500-3000 Escanjaques.

Osages Attack Kiowa Village, 1833

In 1833 a large party of Osage warriors left Clermont's village on the Vertigris River and rode west to the Salt Plains of North-Central Oklahoma where they picked up a Kiowa trail leading to the northeast. They backtracked along the trail southwestward to the Kiowa camp at Rainy Mountain Creek near the Wichita Mountains. The almost defenseless Kiowa camp fled from the Osage gunfire, splitting into four groups. One of these groups, believing they were out of danger, set up camp on Otter Creek. The pursuing Osages surrounded the camp and attacked, killing everyone but a ten-year old boy and his twelve-year old sister. They then, in accordance with their custom, beheaded the corpses and placed the heads in brass buckets around the smoldering remains of the village. The Osages killed the wife of the keeper of the tribal spiritual medicine bag, the Taime, while she was trying to untie it from the teepee pole and carried it with them when they left. This was a terrible blow to the entire Kiowa nation and they did not hold their annual sun dance for another two years.

Ferdinandina Destroyed by Osages

Ferdinandina was a Pawnee Pict-French settlement on the west bank of the Arkansas River just south of the present Kansas-Oklahoma state line. In 1749, Felipe de Sandoval reported that although these Indians tilled their fields, they were fierce cannibals and that he had seen them eat two captives. The tribe had only a few horses, stolen from the Comanches to the west. This Wichita trading center is believed to have existed from the mid-1740s into the 1750s. In 1751, the Osages, equipped with guns acquired from the British, attacked the Pawnee Pict village, which had been decimated by measles and smallpox, and burned it. This may have been Ferdinandina.

Osages Massacre Pawnees, 1830

After a Pawnee war party had killed a hundred Osages near an Osage town during the autumn of 1821, an Osage revenge raid of 300 warriors massacred an entire Pawnee village in Woodward County, Oklahoma during the spring of 1830. None of the Pawnees escaped as the Osages collected over sixty scalps, five captive women and eighty-four horses.

Osage Villages Attack

Comanches and Wichitas attack Osage Village here in 1758.

Spanish Attack Comanche Village, 1779

In 1779, New Mexico Governor Don Juan Bautista de Anza put together an army of lancers supported by 259 Utes and Apaches for a punitive expedition against the Comanches. From Santa Fe, he marched into Colorado and attacked a Comanche village on Fountain Creek. Many villagers were killed and others taken captive. About 500 horses were recovered as well as all the camp's baggage. From the captives Anza learned that most of the warriors had gone to Taos on a raid. This war party was led by Cuerno Verde (Green Horn) whose father had been a chief and had been killed by the Spanish. To avenge his father's death, Cuerno Verde had destroyed many pueblos and killed hundreds of people.

Spanish Attack Comanches at Taos, 1761

In 1761, the Comanches went to Taos wanting to trade back some prisoners they had captured in earlier raids. The governor of New Mexico ordered the chiefs imprisoned and the Comanche camp attacked. The Spanish reported 300 killed and another 400 captured. The captive chiefs were then executed.

Spanish Destroy Apache Settlement on Colorado, 1745

In 1745 the previously mentioned defeat was avenged when a small Spanish force destroyed an Apache settlement on the Colorado River.

Spanish Incursion into Apache Country, 1739

In 1739 the Spanish made another successful foray into Apacheria taking many Indian captives.

Spanish Kill Comanche Chief Cuerno Verde, 1779

Anza also learned that Cuerno Verde planned to meet his people near present Colorado City, Colorado. He headed south to the Huerfano River near Greenhorn Mountain of southern Colorado where he set a trap for the Comanche warriors. In the ensuing fight, Cuerno Verde, his four principal captains, his first-born son and the medicine man were among those killed.

Spanish-Apache Battle Near San Antonio, 1731

In 1731 a ferocious battle was fought between the Spanish and the Apaches near San Antonio. The following year Bustillo y Zevallos, the new governor, led a punitive force of 157 Spaniards and 60 mission Indians westward to the San Saba River.

Spanish Attack Apaches on San Gabriel, 1723

After the 1823 Apache murder of a Franciscan lay brother on the San Gabriel River, Captain Nicolas Flores led a force of 30 soldiers and 30 mission Indians into Apache country to punish the perpetrators. The small party found and attacked an Apache village to the north and west, killing thirty-four and capturing twenty women and children.

Spanish-Apache Battle on San Saba, 1732

In 1732 Bustillo y Zevallos met an army consisting of several hundred Apache warriors on the San Saba River. In a five-hour battle, two hundNative Americans were killed and thirty women and children captured. Seven hundred horses and mules were taken, along with over a hundred mule-loads of cartage.

Spanish-Comanche-Wichita Force Defeats Apaches, 1790

In 1790 Governor Juan de Ugalde of Coahuila, along with some Comanche and Wichita allies, annihilated an Apache force west of San Antonio.

Wichita Agency-Tonkawa Massacre

During 1862 seventy Delawares and twenty-six Shawnee from Kansas led by the Delaware Ben Simon, arrived at the Wichita agency and began stirring up trouble. Added to the mix was a rumor circulating among the reservation Indians that the hated Tonkawa had killed a Caddo boy and were preparing to eat him. Just after dark on October 23 they were joined by warriors from other tribes as they surrounded the agency headquarters. After a Delaware was killed and a Shawnee wounded, the four whites inside were slain and the building ransacked and burned. Hearing the gunfire, the Tonkawas became frightened and fled from the agency. Their trail was discovered the next morning and followed to a grove of trees where the Tonkawas had attempted to conceal themselves. In the ensuing slaughter, all but about 150 of the 390 Tonkawa men, women and children managed to escape. Among those killed was Chief Placido.

Battle of Wolf Creek, 1838

During the early summer of 1838, a combined Cheyenne-Arapaho force took its entire village from the Arkansas River in Kansas to northwestern Oklahoma in search of their Kiowa enemy. While camped on Beaver Creek, a Kiowa-Comanche buffalo hunt was spotted between Beaver and Wolf Creeks. After destroying an unsuspecting Kiowa hunting party the Cheyenne-Arapaho contingent launched a massive assault on the Kiowa and Comanche camps along Wolf Creek. In the fight that followed, known as the Battle of Wolf Creek, the Cheyenne and Arapaho killed fifty-eight Kiowa and Comanche at a cost of fourteen of their own. The invaders retreated when a Comanche messenger rode away to enlist the aid of a nearby detachment of U.S. Dragoons and their Osage scouts. The Osages wanted to pursue and punish the offending Cheyennes and Arapahos but the Kiowas and Comanches had been badly mauled and were content to let the matter wait for a day more to their liking.

Join the discussion

Further reading

Recent Comments