United States Indian Wars, 1780s-1890s

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The following are the wars that involved American Indians occurring between 1783 and the 1890's. The list does not include the War of 1812, the Mexican War, or the Civil War in which American Indians also fought. (List may not be complete)

Date [1][2] Indian Wars, 1780s to 1890s [1][3]
1785-1795 Northwest Indian War
1813-1814 Creek War
1817-1818 First Seminole War
1827 Winnebago War
1832 Black Hawk War
1836-1837 Second Creek War
1836-1839 Cherokee Disturbances and Removal
1835-1842 Second Seminole War
1855-1858 Third Seminole War

States Involved in the Indian Wars[edit | edit source]

History[edit | edit source]

The United States military protected the expanding western frontier from the 1780s to the 1890s. Military personnel surveyed land; enforced government policy; protected settlers; and guarded stage, mail, and telegraph routes. Expanding settlement led to conflicts with the many Indian nations. Military conflicts with Indians are listed in the following:


Battles, Skirmishes and Engagements

  • Peters, Joseph P., compiler. Indian Battles and Skirmishes on the American Frontier, 1790–1898 Comprising Record of Engagements with Hostile Indians within the Military Division of the Missouri from 1868 to 1882; Chronological List of Actions, etc. with Indians from January 1, 1866 to January 1891; and a Compilation of Indian Engagements from January 1837 to January 1866. New York, New York: Argonaut Press, 1966. FHL 1686002 (Worldcat) A chronological list which includes dates, places, and units involved; number of killed and wounded; and remarks that may include names of officers.


Statistical Summary[4][edit | edit source]

War Regular Army Volunteers Dead Wounded
Seminole 1817-1818 1,100 7,000 46 36
Black Hawk 1831-1832 1,341 5,368 26 39
Seminole 1835-1842 11,169 29,953 383 557

National Archives Catalog[edit | edit source]

Claim Records

State Claims

Forts[edit | edit source]

For information about forts where soldiers were garrisoned, see the following: National Archives

  • Historical Information Relating to Military Posts and Other Installations, ca. 1700–1900. National Archives Microfilm Publication M661. (FHL 1466009–16) (Worldcat)
  • Returns from U.S. Military Posts, 1800–1916. National Archives Microfilm Publication M617. (FHL 1663081–4630) (Worldcat) This source contains extensive rolls and reports listing soldiers stationed at forts and posts.

Printed Sources

Service Records[edit | edit source]

Service records for the Indian conflicts are available at the National Archives. They consist of abstracts from original muster rolls, pay rolls, and medical records.

Volunteers[edit | edit source]

Service Records after 1784-1811

  • Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers who Served from 1784 to 1811 (NARA M905).
  • Locate these records at a library using Worldcat
  • Compiled service records of volunteer soldiers who served from 1784-1811 (FHL 1205385–401)


This microfilm index has been transcribed and the information partially abstracted in the following two books:
  • White, Virgil D. Index to Volunteer Soldiers 1784–1811 Waynesboro, Tennessee: National Historical Publishing, 1987. (FHL 973 M22woa) (Worldcat)
  • Clark, Murtie June. American Militia in the Frontier Wars, 1790–1796 Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1990. (FHL 973 M2clm) (Worldcat)

Service Records after 1811

Listed below are the only service records for Indian wars after 1811 that have been filmed:


The Indian Wars Compiled Service Records Index, 1815-1858 (NARA M629) contains index cards to compiled service records of volunteer soldiers who served in various Indian wars and disturbances from 1815 to 1858.

Regular Army Soldiers[edit | edit source]

In addition to volunteer soldiers, many soldiers involved in the Indian wars enlisted in the regular Army. For information on regular Army enlistments, see United States Army.

Officers[edit | edit source]

The "Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army..." by Francis B. Heitman lists Regular Army and volunteer officers from 1789 to 1903 in two volumes giving a brief history of the officers service and awards received. Casualties (including prisoners of war) from 1789 to 1902 are also listed as well as a chronological list of battles, actions, etc., in which troops of the Regular Army have participated.

Pension Records[edit | edit source]

The pension files in the National Archives relate to service performed between 1817 and 1898. Soldiers killed or disabled during the Indian wars were initially covered by existing pension laws. The first pensions based on Indian war service were granted in 1892, but they were limited to specifically named wars. By 1902 pensions were extended to cover all service between 1817 and 1858. Later acts continued extending coverage for service to 1898. The files are alphabetically arranged by the veteran’s name.

Index to Indian Wars Pension Files, 1892–1926

The index to these records is the following:

  • Index to Indian Wars Pension Files, 1892–1926. National Archives Microfilm Publication T318. (FHL films 0821610–21) (FamilySearch) (Worldcat) The index gives name, names of dependents, rank, dates of enlistment and discharge, military unit, application and certificate numbers, date and state of filing, and the pension act it was filed under.
Wiki articles describing online collections are found at:

A published version of this same index is listed below:

  • White, Virgil D. Index to Pension Applications for Indian Wars Service between 1817 and 1898 Waynesboro, Tennessee: National Historical Publishing, 1997. (FHL book 973 M22whv) (Worldcat) Includes name of veteran or widow or both, applicant pension number, date of filing, name of conflict, date of service, and military unit. Some entries have death date and place. This is a revision of the 1987 edition.

Old War Index to Pension Files, 1815-1926

  • The "Old War Index to Pension Files, 1815-1926" (NARA T316) also includes pensioners of the Indian Wars. They relate mainly to pensions based on death or disability incurred in service between the years of 1816-1861.

Old War Index to Pension Files, 1815-1898

Prior to 1892 pension benefits were avilable to soldiers in the regular Army who were disabled or the widows of soldiers killed in service. The benefits were based on service between 1783 and 1861. Many of the claimants were never directly involved in a particular war, but served for a number of years at forts or military establishments. These pensions are referred to as the Old War Series. The Old War pension index has been microfilmed (N.A. film group T316). The index usually contains:

  • Name of soldier
  • Branch of service (i.e. Army, Navy)
  • Name and class of dependents
  • Date of enlistment and discharge
  • Rank and unit
  • Date application was filed
  • Type or class of application (i.e., service, invalid, widow, etc.)
  • Pension application number
  • Pension certificate number
  • Pension file number
  • Account number
  • Date of death
  • State from where filed

These records are available in the FamilySearch Catalog under United States. Veterans Administration. Old wars index to pension files, 1815-1926

Film Number DGS Number First Name on Film Last Name on Film
821,603 5189116 Aa Brin
821,604 5189117 Bris Duncan, A.
821,605 5189118 Duncan, D. Herrin
821,606 5189119 Herring McDonnell, James
821,607 5189120 McDonnell, John Porter, Thomas J.
821,608 5189121 Porter, W. Sullivan, D.
821,609 5189122 Sullivan, E. Zw

Additional Resources

  • Boyd, Mark F. "Seminole War: Background and Onset." (Florida Historical Quarterly, 1951, vol.30, p. 3). FHL film 1689409.
  • Dennis, Henry C., comp. The American Indian 1492-1970: A Chronology and Fact Book. (Dobbs Ferry, New York: Oceana Publications, Inc., 1971). FHL book 973 F25e no. 1.
  • Downey, Fairfax D. Indian Wars of the Army, 1776-1865. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1963).
  • Foreman, Grant. Indian Removal: The Emigration of the Five Civilized Tribes of Indians. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1953). FHL book 970.1 F761i.
  • Halbert, Henry S. and Ball, T. H. The Creek War of 1813 and 1814. (University: University of Alabama Press, 1969).
  • Mahon, John K. History of the Second Seminole War, 1835-1842. (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1967). FHL book 970.3 Se52mj.
  • Nichols, Roger L. "The Black Hawk War: Another View." (Annals of Iowa, 1963,vol. 36, p. 525-533). FHL Online.
  • Port, Michael A. Indian Wars of the American South, 1610-1858: A Guide for Genealogists & Historians {Baltimore, Maryland : Clearfield Company, ©2017). FHL book 973 H2pma
  • Pruchas, Francis P. The Sword of the Republic: the United States Army on the Frontier, 1783-1846. (New York: Macmillan, 1969).
  • Sprague, John T. Origin, Progress and Conclusions of the Florida War. (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1848).
  • Stevens, Frank E. Black Hawk War, Including a Review of Black Hawks' Life. (Chicago: Frank E. Stevens, 1903). FHL book 970.3 Sa86s.
  • Thwaites, Reuben G. "Story of Black Hawk War." (Wisconsin Historical Collection,1892, vol. 12, p. 217). FHL film 1550319 item 4.
  • Wakefield, John A. History of War between United States and Sac and Fox Nations of Indians, and Parts of Other Disaffected Tribes of Indians in the Year Eighteen Hundred and Twenty-Seven. (New York: Garland Publishers, 1975). FHL film 989444 item 6.
  • Whitney, Ellen M., ed. The Black Hawk War, 1831-32. (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Society, 1970). FHL book 977.3 B4i v. 36.

Websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Wikipedia contributors, American Indian Wars, (accessed 2 April 2012).
  2. Dates differ depending on source.
  3. List is only partial
  4. Heitman, Francis B. Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army. (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1903), vol.2, p.281.