Sunday, August 11, 2013

The West - Important Events - 1860 to 1870


A Homestead Bill, providing federal land grants to Western settlers, is vetoed by President Buchanan under pressure from the South.

The veto divides Buchanan's Democratic party, clearing the way for Abraham Lincoln's election in a three-way race.

In February, the Wiyot Massacre took place where up to 250 Wiyot Indians were killed on Indian Island, near Eureka, California, by recently arrived whites.

The Pony Express completes its inaugural delivery, bringing mail over the 1,966 miles from Saint Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California in 11 days.

Organized by William H. Russell and Alexander Majors, the service depends on a string of 119 stations, about 12 miles apart, where the young riders -- "skinny, expert . . . willing to risk death daily" -- exchange horses to keep advancing at top speed.

Severe drought leads to an exodus of 30,000 settlers from Kansas.

The Paiute War begins as Northern Paiutes raided Williams Station in Utah Territory.

The First Battle of Pyramid Lake takes place when American vigilantes seek out the Paiutes and are soundly defeated. Disorganized and outnumbered, nearly all of the vigilantes are killed or wounded.

The Second Battle of Pyramid Lake takes place, but this time a well-organized force of militia and U.S. Army soldiers seek out the Paiutes and defeat them in the final battle of the war. The Paiute War ends with an informal ceasefire.

Lincoln is elected President, pledging to pass homestead legislation and to oppose the spread of slavery.

His victory provokes the state of South Carolina to secede.

Annie Oakley was born in Ohio on August 13,1860 and her parents named her Phoebe Ann Mozee.

Texas Rangers defeat a band of Comanches at the Battle of Pease River. And yes, in the process Cynthia Ann Parker is recaptured and returned to her family after 24 years.


Kansas is admitted as the 34th U.S. state. Kansas enters the Union as a free state.

Colorado and Nevada Territories are organized as Congress begins to consolidate federal control over the West, establishing strong local governments loyal to the Union across the region.

Texas joins the Confederacy, forcing its legendary Unionist governor, Sam Houston, out of office.

Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina and Texas secedes from the Union.

West Virginia secedes from Virginia.

President Abraham Lincoln suspends the writ of habeas corpus in the United States.

Camp Jackson Affair took place when Union military forces clashed with civilians on the streets of St. Louis, Missouri, resulting in the deaths of at least 28 people and injuries to another 100.

Kentucky proclaims its neutrality which lasts until September 3, when Confederate forces enter the state.

President Abraham Lincoln suspends the writ of habeas corpus in the United States.

Confederate forces fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, unleashing the Civil War.

California declares itself for the Union when news of the Civil War reaches the far West more than a month after the attack on Fort Sumter.

Crews working to complete a coast-to-coast telegraph line meet at Fort Bridger in Utah Territory.

Western Department Union General John C. Fremont is relieved of command and replaced by David Hunter.

Battle of Belmont Missouri takes place. Union forces led by General Ulysses S. Grant overrun a Confederate camp but are forced to retreat when Confederate reinforcements arrive.

The first transcontinental telegram, transmitted from Sacramento to Washington, carries a message from the state's Chief Justice to President Lincoln.

Completion of a transcontinental telegraph line signals the end for the Pony Express.

The Kansas Jayhawkers, a supposedly pro-Union guerrilla band organized by Charles J. Jennison, begin marauding across the Missouri border.

In December, they attack and occupy Independence, Missouri, burning much of the city and killing many citizens.


Congress passes the Pacific Railroad Act, which authorizes the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Companies to build a transcontinental rail line along the 42nd parallel and provides public lands and subsidies for every mile of track laid.

Congress passes the Homestead Act, which allows citizens to settle on up to 160 acres of surveyed but unclaimed public land and receive title to it after making improvements and residing there for five years.

The Homestead Act and the Pacific Railroad Act facilitate settlement of the West.

The result by 1890 was millions of new farms in the Plains states, many operated by new immigrants from Germany and Scandinavia.

General Ulysses S. Grant gives the United States its first victory of the war, by capturing Fort Henry, Tennessee.

General Ulysses S. Grant attacks Fort Donelson, Tennessee and captures it the next day.

Idaho Territory organized.

The Civil War divides the Five Civilized Tribes, who brought slaves west with them when they were forced from their homelands in the South.

Most side at once with the Confederacy, contributing a brigade to the cause.

But the Creek Nation splits into pro-Union and pro-Confederate factions, who battle against one another throughout the war.

Sibley's Brigade, an army of Texas Confederates commanded by General Henry J. Sibley, invade New Mexico, moving up the Rio Grande.

Battle of Valverde fought near Fort Craig in New Mexico Territory.

Confederates defeat a Union force at Valverde, advance through Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and then turn north toward Colorado's gold fields.

But at Apache Canyon they are ambushed by a squad of Colorado volunteers commanded by the "Fighting Parson," John M. Chivington.

Two days later they are defeated by a Union force at Glorietta Pass, where Chivington's irregulars rappel down a cliff face to destroy their supply wagons.

In what was the Battle of Glorieta Pass in New Mexico, because of Chivington's actions Union forces succeed in stopping the Confederate invasion of New Mexico territory.

The Texans retreat in disarray, their hopes of conquest shattered at what became known as "the Gettysburg of the West."

Congress passes the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act, which targets the Mormon community by prohibiting polygamy in United States territories. The law is ignored in Utah.

Abraham Lincoln meets with a group of prominent African-Americans – the first time a President has done so.

Abraham Lincoln suggests Black people should migrate to Africa or Central America, and offers government financial assistance to do so - but this advice is rejected.

Richard Jordan Gatling patents the Gatling gun.

A smallpox epidemic breaks out in California.

The Sioux in Minnesota systematically attacked German farms in an effort to drive out the settlers.

Over a period of several days, Dakota attacks at the Lower Sioux Agency, New Ulm and Hutchinson, slaughtered 400 to 500 white settlers.

The state militia fought back and Lincoln sent in federal troops.

The ensuing battles at Fort Ridgely, Birch Coulee, Fort Abercrombie, and Wood Lake punctuated a six-week war, which ended in American victory.

The federal government tried 425 Indians for murder. Out of that 303 Sioux were convicted and sentenced to death. Lincoln pardoned the majority, but 38 Sioux leaders were hanged.

In the "far West," in the Apache Wars, Colonel Christopher "Kit" Carson forced the Mescalero Apache onto a reservation in 1862.


President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation.

Back East, Union forces prevail at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Congress organizes the Arizona Territory.

Lawrence, Kansas is attacked by William Quantrill's raiders, who kill an estimated 200 men and boys.

The raid becomes notorious in the North as one of the most vicious war crime atrocities of the Civil War.

Quantrill's Raiders, a Confederate guerrilla band operating out of Missouri, terrorize much of Kansas killing the innocent and burning towns.

Among the raiders are Frank and Jesse James, and Cole and Jim Younger, who will use the hit-and-run tactics taught by their leader, William Clarke Quantrill, to create vicious outlaw gangs in the post-war West.

The first claim under the Homestead Act is made for a farm in Nebraska.

Ground is broken in Sacramento, California on the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad in the United States.  

Frank James is identified as a member of a band of Confederate guerrillas. In May, a Union militia company raided the James-Samuel farm, looking for Frank's group.

Frank eluded capture and was believed to have joined the guerrilla organization led by William C. Quantrill. It is thought that he took part in the notorious massacre of some two hundred men and boys in Lawrence, Kansas, a center of abolitionists.

Frank James followed Quantrill to Texas over the winter of 1863–1864.

Idaho Territory is organized by the U.S. Congress.   West Virginia is admitted as the 35th U.S. state.  

Chief Pocatello of the Shoshone tribe signs the Treaty of Box Elder, promising to stop harassing the emigrant trails in southern Idaho and northern Utah.

In 1863-1864, Col. Kit Carson used a scorched earth policy in the Navajo Campaign, burning Navajo fields and homes, and capturing or killing their livestock.

He was aided by other Indian tribes with long-standing enmity toward the Navajos, chiefly the Utes. 


Congress organizes the Montana Territory and admits Nevada into the Union as the 36th U.S. state, completing the political organization of the West under local governments loyal to the Union.

That spring Frank James returned in a squad commanded by Fletch Taylor. After they arrived in Clay County, 16-year-old Jesse James joined his brother in Taylor's group.

In the summer of 1864, Taylor was severely wounded, losing his right arm to a shotgun blast. The James brothers joined the bushwhacker group led by Bloody Bill Anderson.

Jesse suffered a serious wound to the chest that summer.

The Clay County provost marshal reported that both Frank and Jesse James took part in the Centralia Massacre in September, in which guerrillas killed or wounded some 22 unarmed Union troops; the guerrillas scalped and dismembered some of the dead.

The guerrillas ambushed and defeated a pursuing regiment of Major A.V.E. Johnson's Union troops, killing all of the more than 100 troops who tried to surrender . Frank later identified Jesse as a member of the band who had fatally shot Major Johnson.

A second Pacific Railroad Act is passed by Congress, one that aims to stimulate investment in the enterprise by doubling the size of the land grants and improving the subsidies offered for every mile of track laid.

Sent to punish Navajo raiding parties in northwest New Mexico, Colonel Kit Carson leads a campaign of destruction through their villages, burning crops and killing livestock.

When the Navajo surrender, Carson marches 8,000 of the tribe on a grueling "Long Walk" across New Mexico to a parched reservation near Fort Sumner on the Pecos River, where they are held as prisoners of war until 1868.

The Navajo led by the U.S. Army are relocated from their traditional lands in eastern Arizona Territory and western New Mexico Territory to Fort Sumner in the Pecos River valley.

At least 200 died along the 300-mile "Long Walk of the Navajo" that took over 18 days to travel on foot.

Sand Creek Massacre takes place when Colorado volunteers led by Colonel John Chivington massacre at least 400 Cheyenne and Arapaho men, women, and children at Sand Creek, Colorado, where they had been given permission to camp.

Meeting with army officers at Fort Weld outside Denver, the Cheyenne chief, Black Kettle, agrees to lead his people back to their Sand Creek reservation in order to restore peace after Indian raids on ranches in the area.

He is attacked there by a volunteer force led by John M. Chivington, the "Fighting Parson" of Glorietta Pass, which sweeps down on the Cheyenne encampment at dawn and massacres nearly hundreds of men, women and children.

Later Congressional and military investigations condemn the slaughter. Chivington resigns from the Army.

The U.S. Congress passes the Coinage Act of 1864 which mandates that the inscription "In God We Trust" be placed on all coins minted as United States currency.

Arlington National Cemetery is established when 200 acres of the grounds of Robert E. Lee's home Arlington House are officially set-aside as a military cemetery by U.S. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton.

Helena, Montana is founded after four prospectors, known as the so-called Four Georgians, discover gold at Last Chance Gulch.

It was their last and agreed final attempt at weeks of trying to find gold in the northern Rockies.


President Abraham Lincoln is shot at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. by actor John Wilkes Booth.  

Union cavalry corner John Wilkes Booth in a barn, and cavalryman Boston Corbett shoots the assassin dead.  

The Confederate surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, brings an end to the Civil War.  

The Battle of Palmito Ranch takes place in south Texas, more than a month after Confederate General Lee's surrender, the last land battle of the civil war ends with a Confederate victory.

Confederate forces west of the Mississippi under General Edmund Kirby Smith surrender at Galveston, Texas, becoming the last to do so.

Union Major General Gordon Granger lands at Galveston, Texas and informs the people of Texas of the Emancipation Proclamation. Today it is an event now celebrated each year as Juneteenth.

At Fort Towson in Oklahoma Territory, Confederate General Stand Watie, a Cherokee Indian, surrenders the last significant Rebel army.

A forest fire near Silverton, Oregon destroys about one million acres of timber.

In the market square of Springfield, Missouri, Wild Bill Hickok shoots Dave Tutt dead in what is regarded as the first true western showdown. Others call it an ambush.

The steamer Brother Jonathan sinks off the California coast, killing 225.

The Union Pacific Railroad begins moving westward, laying track at an average rate of one mile per day.

In California, Chinese laborers join the Central Pacific work gangs, providing the strength, organization and persistence needed to break through the mountains.

The Ku Klux Klan is formed by six Democrats, all Confederate Army veterans, in Pulaski, Tennessee, to resist Reconstruction and intimidate "carpetbaggers" (Republicans) and "scalawags" (Southern Unionists), as well as to repress the freed slaves.

Mark Twain publishes "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," a tall tale set in a boisterous California mining camp which brings the Western experience into the mainstream of American literature.

Mark Twain becomes America's Greatest Writer.

But by the 1990s, Mark Twain's literary works will be banned in American schools for using language common to 1800s America.

Fact is, 19th Century colloquialisms like "nigger" is all it will take to ban his works.

Some propose rewriting Twain's works to make them more politically acceptable to Democrats, those in charge of the Federal Government, and teacher's unions.


General Philip H. Sheridan takes command of U.S. forces in the West, proposing to bring peace to the plains by exterminating the herds of buffalo that support the Indians' way of life: "Kill the buffalo and you kill the Indians," he says.

A Lakota war party led by Chief Red Cloud attacks a wagon train bringing supplies to newly-constructed Fort Phil Kearny on the Powder River in northern Wyoming.

The Lakota see the fort, situated to protect travel to Montana mining country along the Bozeman Trail, as a threat to their territory.

When a patrol led by Captain William J. Fetterman rides out to drive off the war party, it is lured far from the fort and destroyed to the last man.

The first daylight bank robbery in United States history during peacetime takes place in Liberty, Missouri. This is considered to be the first robbery committed by Jesse James and his gang.

Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving blaze the first cattle trail, driving a herd of 2,000 longhorns from Texas to New Mexico in what will become an annual tradition across the southern plains.

The U.S. Congress passes legislation authorizing the rank of General of the Army, which is now called a "5-star General". Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant becomes the first to have this rank.

Republicans pass The Civil Rights Act of 1866, overriding a presidential veto, granting further rights to freed slaves.


Nebraska is admitted as the 37th U.S. state.

Alaska is purchased for $7.2 million from Alexander II of Russia, about 2 cents an acre, by United States Secretary of State William H. Seward.

The news media call this "Seward's Folly."

The Atlantic Cable Quartz Lode mine is named in Montana.

The first cattle drive from Texas up the Chisholm Trail arrives at the railyards of Abilene, Kansas.

The Kidder Massacre takes place when a Sioux and Cheyenne war party kills U.S. Second Lieutenant Lyman Kidder, along with an Indian scout and ten enlisted men in Kansas.

Manifest Destiny is the policy of the day.

The United States and representatives of the Comanche, Kiowa, Cheyenne, Arapaho and other southern Plains tribes sign the Medicine Lodge Treaty, intended to remove Indians from the path of white settlement.

The treaty marks the end of the era in which federal policymakers saw the Plains as "one big reservation" to be divided up among various tribes.

Instead, the treaty establishes reservations for each tribe in the western part of present-day Oklahoma and requires them to give up their traditional lands elsewhere.

In exchange, the government pledges to establish reservation schools and to provide resident farmers who will teach the Indians agriculture.

This same principle of restricting the Plains tribes to reservations will help shape the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868.

In both cases, the tribes' refusal to give up their free-ranging traditions and remain confined within the territory assigned to them leads to devastating warfare.

The United States takes control of Midway Island.

Yellow fever kills 3,093 in New Orleans.

The Chisholm Trail, laid out by cattleman Joseph McCoy along an old trail marked by Jesse Chisholm, was the major artery of cattle commerce, carrying over 1.5 million head of cattle between 1867 and 1871 over the 800 miles from south Texas to Abilene, Kansas.

Between 1867 and 1873, Chinese, Scandinavian and Irish immigrants lay 30,000 miles of railroad tracks in the USA.

Former Minnesota farmer Oliver Hudson Kelley founds the Order of the Patrons of Husbandry - it better known today as The Grange.

In Virginia City, Nevada, a prostitute, Julia Bulette, was one of the few who achieved "respectable" status.

She nursed victims of an influenza epidemic, which gave her acceptance in the community and the support of the sheriff.

The townspeople were so shocked when she was murdered in 1867 that they gave her a lavish funeral and speedily tried and hanged her assailant.


Congress organizes the Wyoming Territory.

The Senate approves a treaty permitting unrestricted immigration from China.

The Chinese railbuilders of the Central Pacific finally break out of the High Sierras.

In the U.S. presidential election of 1868, Ulysses S. Grant defeats Horatio Seymour in the election.

Chief Red Cloud and General William Tecumseh Sherman sign the Fort Laramie Treaty, which brings an end to war along the Bozeman Trail.

Under terms of the treaty, the United States agrees to abandon its forts along the Bozeman Trail and grant enormous parts of the Wyoming, Montana and Dakota Territories, including the Black Hills area, to the Lakota people as their exclusive territory.

General Philip Sheridan sends Colonel George Armstrong Custer against the Cheyenne, with a plan to attack them during the winter when they are most vulnerable.

Custer's troops locate a Cheyenne village on the Washita River in present-day Oklahoma.

Known as the Washita River Massacre, it takes place in the early morning of November 27th.

US Army Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer leads an attack on a band of Cheyenne living on reservation land. Yes, they were living on reservation land.

By a cruel coincidence, the village is home to Black Kettle and his people, the victims of the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864.

Custer's cavalry attacks at dawn, killing more than 100 men, women and children, including Black Kettle.


Ulysses S. Grant succeeds Andrew Johnson as the 18th President of the United States of America.

John Wesley Powell, a veteran of the Civil War who lost part of his right arm at Shiloh and a self-taught expert on mountain geology, leads the first recorded voyage through the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, winning national acclaim and setting the stage for government funded scientific study of the West.

The "golden spike" is driven marking the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in Promontory, Utah.

The Wyoming territorial legislature gives women the right to vote, it becomes one of the first such laws in the world.

1 comment:

  1. The Old West, which is my favorite timeline, was a time where innovations were made that paved the way for the frontier. From 1865 to 1905, the Old West saw more than 40 years of progress. Lots of things happened during that time that would shape the history of the Old West in one way or another. In 1860, the Henry rifle was developed. In 1873, the Colt Single Action Army revolver, or the Peacemaker, was made. In 1878, Billy The Kid was involved in the Lincoln County War. And in 1886, Coca-Cola was invented and Geronimo was captured. I thank God for the countless Westerns that have been made over the years that portray the Old West as a violent, yet subtle place to live. Most Westerns don't get it right but the ones that DO are okay. But then again, even the most inaccurate portrayals in Westerns are okay. So long live the Old West and long live Westerns! May we have much more history to learn when it comes to this exciting period.


Thank you for your comment.