In the summer of 1874, U.S. military forces launched a major campaign against the Southern Plains Indians in an attempt to permanently remove the Comanche, Kiowa, Southern Cheyenne, and Arapaho Indians from the region and move them onto the reservations established in western Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. This campaign, fought largely in the Texas Panhandle, is known today as the Red River War. As a result, the Texas frontier and the nomadic culture of many Native American tribes were forever altered.
THC archeologists investigated the following five battle sites in 1998 and 1999: the Adobe Walls site in present Hutchinson County; the Battle of Red River site in present Armstrong and Briscoe counties; the Buffalo Wallow site in present Hemphill County; the Battle of Lyman's Wagon Train site, also in Hemphill County; and the Battle of Sweetwater Creek site in Wheeler County.
The two seasons of fieldwork at the battle sites were tremendously successful. More than 3,300 battle-related artifacts were recovered. Precise boundaries were established for the battle sites. The investigations show that the sites remained relatively undisturbed during the more than 125 years since the battles occurred. Based on the archeological investigations of the sites, new interpretations are possible about specific battle events, and information is now available regarding arms and ammunition used by the U.S. Army and the Southern Plains Indians.
The investigations also serve to corroborate some of the historical accounts of the battles, while contradicting other historical records. Analysis of the recovered artifacts suggests, for example, that not as many Indians participated in the battles and that they were not as well armed as some military reports indicate.
Special thanks to the project donors:
Abell-Hanger Foundation, Amarillo Area Foundation, Harold and Joyce Courson, David D. and Nona S. Payne Foundation, Summerlee Foundation, National Park Service's American Battlefield Protection Program, M.K. Brown Foundation, Amos N. Molyneaux Trust, Josephine Anderson Trust, Summerfield G. Roberts Trust, the Helen Irwin Littauer Educational Trust, and also to Humanities Texas for enabling the production of the 2010 travel guide, Red River War of 1874-1875, Clash of Cultures in the Texas Panhandle.
Purchase a copy of Battles of the Red River War: Archeological Perspectives on the Indian Campaign of 1874