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War on the Central Plains

Prelude to Little Bighorn

September 6-14, 2013
Historian Guide: Neil Mangum

The Civil War had ended. The relentless migration westward had put settlers, railroads, miners, and speculators on a collision course with the Indians on the Central Plains — the Cheyennes and Sioux — who saw their domain and life style threatened by the wave of white invaders. Open warfare erupted, bringing with it a newly organized United States Army and two of its most enduring legends, Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry. Indian warfare on the plains was an eye-opener for Custer, who was to cement a reputation from 1867-1869 as the pre-eminent Indian fighter of the post-Civil War era. He was soon to learn that Plains Indians were more elusive and every bit as death-dealing as Confederate cavalrymen.

Join HistoryAmerica TOURS in this week-long adventure of discovery and exploration on the Great Plains of Kansas, where violence and tragedy mixed with romance and majesty. Neil Mangum, career public historian and popular lecturer, will be your historian guide to the sites of the most important military outposts on the Central Plains. We will go where some of the great names in the U.S. military pantheon have fought or served — Custer, Phil Sheridan, William Tecumseh Sherman, Winfield Scott Hancock, George Patton, Colin Powell.

Neil will take us back in time and reacquaint us with legendary names from these Plains Indian Wars — Roman Nose, Tall Bull, Black Kettle, Lyman Kidder, George Forsyth, Eugene Carr, Myles Keogh, and many others.

9 Days / 8 Nights

Cost: $2,895 Single Occupancy, $2,575 Double Occupancy

Click to request a 2013 printed Travel Guide.


Friday, September 6
Gather in Kansas City for a briefing and welcome dinner hosted by Neil Mangum and HistoryAmerica TOURS.

Saturday, September 7
At legendary Ft. Leavenworth we visit the museum and post cemetery, final resting place of several of Custer's officers from Little Bighorn. We also visit Ft. Riley and the house where George and Elizabeth Custer lived. Overnight in Salina, Kansas.

Sunday, September 8
We stop at Ft. Harker, important post on the Smoky Hill Trail and jumping off point for military campaigns. We tour Ft. Larned and then examine the site of the Cheyenne village occupied by Custer and later destroyed by General Winfield Scott Hancock in 1867. Overnight in Dodge City, Kansas.

Monday, September 9
Custer's destruction of a Cheyenne village on the banks of the Washita River is our focus today. We visit Ft. Supply this morning, Custer's jumping off point for his Washita campaign. The afternoon will include a walking tour of the Washita Battlefield to relive the fight that stamped Custer as the premier Indian fighter by some, a butcher by others. Overnight in Cheyenne, Oklahoma.

Tuesday, September 10
Today we follow the 1878-1879 plight of the Northern Cheyennes under Little Wolf and Dull Knife, who bolted the Darlington Agency for their ancestral home in Montana. Our route also takes us to Custer's quarters in old Ft. Dodge, and later we examine trail ruts of the Santa Fe Trail. Overnight in Garden City, Kansas.

Wednesday, September 11
We tour Punished Woman's Fork Battlefield, scene of a Cheyenne victory over military forces. Later we walk the ground of the German family massacre where five members of the family were killed and four of the German daughters abducted. Our final stop is the old post Ft. Wallace. Overnight in Goodland, Kansas.

Thursday, September 12
At Beecher's Island we hear how fifty army scouts, bloodied and besieged, withstood repeated assaults by the Cheyennes under Roman Nose. This afternoon we tour the 1867 Kidder battlefield and massacre site where Kidder's men were all killed and mutilated carrying dispatches to Custer. Our last stop today is Ft. Hays, home for several years to the Custer's and to the 7th Cavalry. Overnight in Hays, Kansas.

Friday, September 13
The Dyche Museum on the campus at the University of Kansas displays the stuffed remains of the horse Comanche, once considered the sole survivor of Little Bighorn, along with other relics from the fight. We study the Civil War in Kansas this afternoon and Confederate Bushwhacker William Quantrill's 1863 sacking of Lawrence. Return to Kansas City for our farewell dinner and final overnight.

Saturday, September 14
Depart at your leisure following breakfast.

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Updated on 1 November, 2012