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Battles of the Red River War: Archeological Perspectives on the Indian Campaign of 1874

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Battles of the Red River War unearths a long-buried record of the collision of two cultures.

In 1874, U.S. forces led by Col. Ranald S. Mackenzie carried out a surprise attack on several Cheyenne, Comanche, and Kiowa bands that had taken refuge in the Palo Duro Canyon of the Texas panhandle and destroyed their winter stores and horses. After this devastating loss, many of these Indians returned to their reservations and effectively brought to a close what has come to be known ...

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Overview


Battles of the Red River War unearths a long-buried record of the collision of two cultures.

In 1874, U.S. forces led by Col. Ranald S. Mackenzie carried out a surprise attack on several Cheyenne, Comanche, and Kiowa bands that had taken refuge in the Palo Duro Canyon of the Texas panhandle and destroyed their winter stores and horses. After this devastating loss, many of these Indians returned to their reservations and effectively brought to a close what has come to be known as the Red River War, a campaign carried out by the U.S. Army during 1874 as a result of Indian attacks on white settlers in the region. After this operation, the Southern Plains Indians would never again pose a coherent threat to whites’ expansion and settlement across their ancestral homelands.

Until now, the few historians who have undertaken to tell the story of the Red River War have had to rely on the official records of the battles and a handful of extant accounts, letters, and journals of the U.S. Army participants. Starting in 1998, J. Brett Cruse, under the auspices of the Texas Historical Commission, conducted archeological investigations at six battle sites. In the artifacts they unearthed, Cruse and his teams found clues that would both correct and complete the written records and aid understanding of the Indian perspectives on this clash of cultures.

Including a chapter on historiography and archival research by Martha Doty Freeman and an analysis of cartridges and bullets by Douglas D. Scott, this rigorously researched and lavishly illustrated work will commend itself to archeologists, military historians and scientists, and students and scholars of the Westward Expansion.

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Editorial Reviews

The Chronical Review

" . . . draws on archaeological excavations at six sites in Texas."--Chronicle Review
The Kansas Anthropologist

"Battles of the Red River War: Archeological Perspectives on the Indian Campaign of 1874 weaves history and archeology into a rich tapestry of knowledge about a significant period in the Plains Indian wars. Covering the major battles of the Red River War, the volume is a well-written account showing how historical research and historical archeology can be conducted to complement each other. . . The study is greatly aided by the archeological results, as data from archeological research is no respecter of victors or losers. . . The outstanding contribution of the volume toward increased understanding of the Red River War and Plains history is derived from the archeological research. . . the volume''s abundant photographs, drawings, and maps are generally excellent. the relatively detailed artifact information, combined with an extensive (better than average) index, makes this volume a useful reference. . . This well written and edited volume presents information for archeologists, historians, museum curators, other scholars, and general readers interested in American Indians and U.S. military engagements. Reasonably priced, Battles of the Red River War: Archeological Perspectives on the Indian Campaign of 1874 provides unique information and demonstrates the importance of collaboration between historical and archeological research." Jim D. Feagins, St. Joseph Museum, The Kansas Anthropologist

— Jim D. Feagins, St. Joseph Museum

Charles M. Haecker

“The Red River War was a pivotal event in American History yet paradoxically it has been largely overlooked as a topic of serious research. Fortunately, this book makes up for lost time: it is a significant, scholarly contribution to the fields of Western US history, battlefield archaeology, and military science.”--Charles M. Haecker, archaeologist, National Park Service
The Kansas Anthropologist - Jim D. Feagins

"Battles of the Red River War: Archeological Perspectives on the Indian Campaign of 1874 weaves history and archeology into a rich tapestry of knowledge about a significant period in the Plains Indian wars. Covering the major battles of the Red River War, the volume is a well-written account showing how historical research and historical archeology can be conducted to complement each other. . . The study is greatly aided by the archeological results, as data from archeological research is no respecter of victors or losers. . . The outstanding contribution of the volume toward increased understanding of the Red River War and Plains history is derived from the archeological research. . . the volume's abundant photographs, drawings, and maps are generally excellent. The relatively detailed artifact information, combined with an extensive (better than average) index, makes this volume a useful reference. . . This well written and edited volume presents information for archeologists, historians, museum curators, other scholars, and general readers interested in American Indians and US military engagements. Reasonably priced, Battles of the Red River War: Archeological Perspectives on the Indian Campaign of 1874 provides unique information and demonstrates the importance of collaboration between historical and archeological research." —The Kansas Anthropologist
Journal of American Ethnic History

"This book by J. Brett Cruse . . . is an archeological and historical tour de force of an investigation led by Cruse of the major battles of the Red River War. US army forces carried out a series of attacks against groups of Cheyenne, Comanche, and Kiowa that were living in what they thought were the safe confines of the canyon lands in the Texas Panhandle."

"Cruse's archeological investigations had impressive objectives, the foremost being to precisely locate the most significant battlefield sites on the ground, employing intensive and precisely plotted metal detector surveys, along with a detailed analysis of more than 3,700 recovered metal artifacts. . ."

"I recommend this book to those readers interested in the archaeology of U.S.-American Indian battlefields, Southern Plains history, and the effects of American Indian and Anglo-American contact and conflict."--Journal of American Ethnic History

 

The Chronical Review

"Draws on archaeological excavations at six sites in Texas."

Military History of the West

"The author does a great job of relegating the most exhaustive lists to the appendices to keep the work moving. The diagrams and maps by the THC's Roland Pantermuehl are well done, enhancing Cruse's written explanations with clean, crisp visuals. This fine volume should bring greater attention to the Red River War in the future."—Military History of the West
Southwestern Historical Quarterly - Stephen L. Black

"The study effectively couples archeological investigation with documentary research to significantly improve our understanding of the Red River War. It also highlights the potential of this multidisciplinary approach to reveal many more details of a pivotal episode in American history. . . The archeological findings and interpretations are well-organized, clearly presented, and lavishly illustrated with many color images including dozens of large- and small-scale maps and excellent artifact photographs."-- Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Montana the Magazine of Western History - Henry B. Crawford

"Battles of the Red River War will prove useful not just in Texas but across the western states where the US Army fought against many tribal groups. . . a resource that will undoubtedly be useful to military historians, curators, and living history re-enactors alike."--Montana the Magazine of Western History
Journal of Southern History - Robert Wooster

". . . a beautiful, multicolor production. . . a proud addition to anyone's library. . . the conclusions found here are the product of sound scholarship and careful analysis."--Journal of Southern History
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781603440271
  • Publisher: Texas A&M University Press
  • Publication date: 8/25/2008
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


J. BRETT CRUSE is the Cultural Resources Coordinator for the Historic Sites Division of the Texas Historical Commission, which sponsored the investigation of the Red River War battle sites. He lives in Round Rock.
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