In December 1866, during Red Cloud’s War, a group of Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes joined forces and clashed with a detachment of the United States Army stationed at Fort Phil Kearny, Wyoming. The U.S. troops were tasked with safeguarding travelers on the Bozeman Trail. The Native American warriors, including Crazy Horse, employed a ruse to lure a group of U.S. soldiers, led by Captain William J. Fetterman, into an ambush. All 81 soldiers were killed by the Native American warriors, except for one who was wounded.
The Fetterman Massacre proved to be a significant victory for the Native Americans and a considerable defeat for the U.S. Army. It demonstrated the Native American resistance against the expansion of the United States into the West, ultimately leading to the abandonment of the Bozeman Trail and the signing of the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868. The treaty established a reservation for the Lakota and other tribes in the Black Hills.
The aftermath of the massacre marked a significant shift in U.S. policy towards Native Americans. The U.S. government began negotiating treaties with the tribes and creating reservations for them. Although the Native Americans’ triumph was costly, it ensured their survival and served as a turning point in the United States’ conflict with the Native American population.