United States Indian Wars, 1780-s-1890-s

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United States Gotoarrow.png U.S. Military Gotoarrow.png Indian Wars, 1780s to 1890s

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


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:

  • 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.
  • Chronological List of Engagements between the Regular Army of the United States and Various Tribes of Hostiles Which Occurred during the Years 1790 to 1898, Inclusive. 1939. Reprint, New York, New York: AMS Press, 1976. (FHL 973 M2ww) (Worldcat) Identifies place; military unit involved; and number of soldiers and American Indians killed, wounded, and captured.

Statistical Summary

War type of troop troops deaths wounded
Seminole 1817-18

regular army




46 36
Black Hawk 1831-32

regular army




26 39
Seminole 1835-42

regular army




383 557


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

  • 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.

Service Records

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.


Service Records after 1784-1811

  • Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers who Served from 1784 to 1811 (NARA M905).


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

In addition to volunteer soldiers, many soldiers involved in the Indian wars enlisted in the regular Army. For information on regular Army enlistments, see US Army Enlistments, 1798-1914.


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

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

Old War Index to pension files, 1815-1898 are on microfilm at the Family History Library:

Film Number First Name on Film Last Name on Film
     821,603 Aa Brin
     821,604 Bris Duncan, A.
     821,605 Duncan, D. Herrin
     821,606 Herring McDonnell, James
     821,607 McDonnell, John Porter, W.
     821,608 Porter, S. Sullivan, D.
     821,609 Sullivan, E. Zw

Additional Resources



  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