The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003

Archeological Investigations at the Battle of Red
River Site: New Perspectives on the 1874 Indian
Campaign in the Texas Panhandle
J. BRETT CRUSE*
ON AUGUST 30, 1874, TROOPS OF THE U.S. ARMY UNDER THE COMMAND OF
Col. Nelson A. Miles engaged Indians of the Southern Cheyenne,
Kiowa, and Comanche tribes in a day-long battle near the Prairie Dog
Town Fork of Red River in the Texas Panhandle, in what is now southern
Armstrong and northern Briscoe Counties. This battle, known today as
the Battle of Red River, is significant in that it was the first in a series of
battles and skirmishes between the army and the Southern Plains Indians
in 1874 that, collectively, have come to be known as the Red River War.
The Red River War was fought largely in the Texas Panhandle and re-
sulted in the defeat of the Southern Plains Indians and their removal
from their homelands on the buffalo plains to reservations in Indian Ter-
ritory. Some of the Indians, including many of the chiefs, were sent to
prisons in Florida. With the removal of the Comanche, Kiowa, Southern
Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes, the Southern Plains from Kansas south
through the Texas Panhandle were opened to Anglo-American settle-
ment. Within a year after the defeat of the Indians, large cattle ranches
had been established in the Texas Panhandle by cattle barons like Charles
Goodnight, and roads and railroads soon crossed the region. With the in-
flux of new settlers and the establishment of towns across the plains, the
locations of many of the battle sites of the Red River War were quickly lost
or forgotten. Now, more than 125 years after the end of the Red River
War, archeologists with the Texas Historical Commission (THC) have
identified the locations of some of the more significant battles, and im-
portant new details about the battles are coming to light.
Recognizing the significance of the Red River War battles, in 1998 the
THC, with a grant from the National Park Service's American Battlefields
* J. Brett Cruse is an archeologist with the Texas Historical Commission (THC) in Austin and
the director of the THC's Red River War Battle Sites Project.
VOL. CVI, NO. 2 SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY OCTOBER 2002

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/. Accessed July 5, 2015.