Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Research 19.1 (Spring 2009): 13-25. © 2009 Copyright by the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Between February 4 and 7, 1865, Cheyenne, Sioux, and Arapaho warriors engaged a force of U.S. Army soldiers at Mud Springs, Nebraska. Historical records from both sides indicate that this fight marked an early phase of the Indian Wars. Based on systematic metal detections, firearms identification, and terrain analysis, this paper adds archeological insights into the arms and tactics used by the opposing sides. Well-armed Native fighters used terrain to approach U.S. troops, who maintained a defensive posture. U.S. soldiers appear to have dug a rifle pit to see approaching attackers.