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Red Cloud is war leader and a chief of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) since 1868. One of the most capable Native American opponents the United States Army faced, he led a successful campaign in 1866Ð1868 known as Red Cloud's War over control of the Powder River Country in northeastern Wyoming and southern Montana.
Red Cloud's War was the name the US Army gave to a series of conflicts fought with American Indian Plains tribes in the Wyoming and Montana territories. The battles were waged between the Northern Cheyenne, allied w/ Lakota and Arapaho bands, against the United States Army between 1866 and 1868. In December 1866, the Native American allies attacked and defeated a United States unit in what the whites would call the Fetterman Massacre (or the Battle of the Hundred Slain); it was the event on the Plains to that point with the highest US fatalities.
Captain William J. Fetterman was sent from Fort Phil Kearny with two civilians and 79 cavalry and infantrymen to chase away a small Indian war party that had attacked a wood party days before. Captain Frederick Brown accompanied Fetterman; the two were confident in their troops and anxious to go to battle with the Indians. They disobeyed orders to stay behind the Lodge Trail Ridge and pursued a small decoy band of warriors, led by an Indian on an apparently injured horse. The decoy was the prominent warrior Crazy Horse. Fetterman and his troops followed the decoy into an ambush by more than 2,000 Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho. Combined Indian forces suffered only 14 casualties, while they killed the entire 81-man US detachment.
Following this battle, a US peace commission toured the Plains in 1867 to gather information to help bring about peace among the tribes and w/ the US. Finding that the American Indians had been provoked by white encroachment and competition for resources, the commission recommended assigning definite territories to the Plains tribes. The Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho bands, and others settled for peace with the US under the Treaty of Fort Laramie. The US agreed to abandon its forts and w/draw completely from Lakota territory.