Master's Theses

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access

Date of Award

Spring 2009

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Raymond Wilson


The U.S. Military’s efforts to rid the American frontier of its troublesome native inhabitants reached its climax in the post-antebellum period. Lacking a set doctrine, individual officers had to take matters in to their own hands and decided how they, as an individual, would deal with the Indians they encountered. Form this, two camps arose: the first strove to annihilate the Indians, and the second desired to subdue hostile Indians and make them along with peaceable Indians, self-reliant citizens of the U.S. Generals George Crook and Nelson A. Miles exemplified these two camps. Miles saw the Indian as being in the way of European progress, while Crook felt as though the Indians were the unfortunate victim of westward expansion. The two men differed as much in strategy as they did in personality. Crook was quiet, almost reticent, while Miles was flamboyant, even dashing. Both men were expert tacticians in the art of warfare, although each man’s approach differed. In the mid-1870s, their paths crossed on the dusty Montana plains. From that point on, the lives of Crook and Miles became entwined in a personal and professional dispute filled with deep-seated animosity fueled by Miles’ ambition.


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