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 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 film 1686002.) A chronological list which includes dates, places, and units involved; number of killed and wounded; and remarks that may include names of officers.
  • ttps://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/show?uri=http%3A%2F%2Fcatalog-search-api%3A8080%2Fwww-catalogapi-webservice%2Fitem%2F491668 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 book 973 M2ww.) Identifies place; military unit involved; and number of soldiers and American Indians killed, wounded, and captured.


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

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

This microfilm index has been transcribed and the information partially abstracted in the following two books:

  • Clark, Murtie June. Militia in the Frontier Wars, 1790–1796. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1990. (FHL book 973 M2clm).

Service Records after 1811

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

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 soldiers, see:

Wiki articles describing this collection is found at:


When researching Army officers, consult Francis B. Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, From Its Organization, September 29, 1789, to March 2, 1903, available in two volumes (FHL book 973 M2hh) (FHL film 2229899) (Worldcat). Volume one (Google Books), a register of army officers, provides a brief history of each man's service. Volume two (Google Books) contains a "chronological list of battles, actions, etc., in which troops of the Regular Army have participated.

Indexes for Specific Wars

Black Hawk War 1831-1832

Cherokee Disturbances and Removal, 1836 to 1839

Individual state indexes are available for:

Creek War, 1836 to 1837

For this war, the National Archives and Family History Library have the following:

Second Seminole War, 1836 to 1843


Only the service records for soldiers from the state of Florida have been microfilmed:

War of 1837 to 1838 (Second Florida Campaign)

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.

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.) 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.

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.) 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.

Pensioners of the Indian Wars are also included in United States, Veterans Administration. Old Wars Index to Pension Files, 1815–1926. Washington, District of Columbia: National Archives. Central Plains Region, 1959. For more information, see National Archive Microfilm Publication T316 on page 56.

Unit Histories

For a list and histories of all Indian Wars, 1622-1890, click www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1008.html

Additional Resources