Timeline: Violent Conflict 1865-1905


Preaching. Preaching.

The Recruit, (left) & The Veteran (right). "The Contraband, Recruit, and Veteran", Harper’s Weekly, May 1867, p.284.

  • 1865
  • Surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee to United States General Ulysses S. Grant at Appamattox, Virginia, concludes major fighting in the US Civil War
  • President Abraham Lincoln assassinated
  • Over two hundred Bannock Indians killed at Battle Creek, Idaho, by US troops in retaliation for Bannock raids
  • Sioux and Cheyenne uprising in Colorado in response to Sand Creek Massacre of 1864
  • Great Sioux War, or Red Cloud’s War, over control of Bozeman Trail area; massacre of Capt. W. J. Fetterman and his troops in 1866; in resulting Treaty of Fort Laramie the US withdraws troops from forts along the trail, concedes
  • Powder River area as “unceded territory,” and sets aside western half of South Dakota as Sioux lands (1865-1868)
  • Persistent raids by Kikapuak (Kickapoo) into southern Texas from Mexico result in hundreds of deaths (1865-1879)
  • 1866
  • Blacks killed, beaten, and driven out by mob violence in Memphis, New Orleans, and other Southern cities
  • Jesse James and James-Younger gang raid in West Virginia
  • Ku Klux Klan, founded in Tennessee, spreads to other parts of the South; it and loosely associated vigilante groups, seeking to intimidate those who oppose white supremacy, undertake campaigns of beatings, murder, and arson until federal KKK Act forces Klan underground (1866-1871)
  • 1868
  • Kiowa and Comanche raids in Texas
  • Cheyenne and Oglala Sioux uprising in western Kansas and Colorado; US troops slaughter Cheyenne at Black Kettle’s camp on Washita River, Indian Territory
  • Massacre of over two hundred blacks at Opelousas, Louisiana
  • Jesse James and James-Younger gang raid in Kentucky
  • 1870
  • Dozens of Blackfeet killed by US troops in Massacre on the Marias, Montana
  • Tiburcio Vásquez bandit gang active in a string of robberies in California; Vásquez captured in 1874, defends his actions as a fight for Mexican-American rights; tried and hanged in 1875 (1870-1874)
  • Vigilantes in Tucson kill over a hundred Apaches at Camp Grant, blaming them for nearby raids (1870-1874)
  • US cavalry battles “Wild Bill” Hickock at Ft. Hays, Kansas (1870-1874)
  • 1871
  • Anti-Chinese riot in Los Angeles leaves 21 dead
  • 1873
  • Modoc War, northern California
  • Massacre of over 100 black farmers at Colfax, Louisiana
  • 1874
  • Red River War in Southwest pits starving Comanche, Kiowa, and Southern Cheyenne against US troops
  • Tompkins Square incident, New York City, pits poor and unemployed protesters against police trying to disperse the peaceful gathering; results in a riot, beatings by police, and mass arrests
  • 1875
  • Anthracite coal strike over reduction in wages; met by massive police force, strikers riot and burn coal cars and Reading Railroad buildings; 20 Irish-American “Molly Maguires” convicted and hanged for labor-related assassinations
  • Massacre of two dozen blacks at Clinton, Mississippi; campaign of violence throughout the state, including murder of African-American state legislators in Yazoo County
  • Chiricahua Apache revolt, Arizona, led by Geronimo (1875-1886)
  • 1876
  • Jesse James and James-Younger gang raid Northfield, MI
  • Summer of attacks and terrorism against blacks in South Carolina prompts dispatch of federal troops to suppress violence
  • Black rice workers’ strike, Combahee River area, South Carolina, over wages and “scrip” pay; strike forcibly suppressed amid violence in ensuing political campaign
  • Plains War between Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho and US troops on northern plains; major battles include Rosebud, Little Big Horn, Warbonnet Creek, and Slim Buttes (1876-1877)
  • 1877
  • Great Railroad Strike spreads across eastern United States, from Buffalo to Baltimore to St. Louis; gunfights and violence in many cities, notably Pittsburgh, triggered by arrival of National Guard and US troops
  • Anti-Chinese riots, San Franciso
  • Nez Percé War in the northern Rockies
  • El Paso “salt war” in Texas involves violent resistance by local Tejanos against Anglo takeover of salt beds (1877-1878)
  • Mimbreño Apache revolt, Arizona, led by Victorio (1877-1880)
  • 1878
  • Bannock War, Idaho
  • Lincoln County War between New Mexico cattlemen includes gunfights, ambushes, and murders on both sides
  • Sam Bass gang battles Texas Rangers at Round Rock, Texas
  • 1879
  • Ute War in Colorado and Utah
  • 1880
  • Chinese homes and businesses destroyed by mob violence in Denver
  • Violent clashes between farmers and agents of Southern Pacific Railroad, Mussel Slough, California
  • 1881
  • President James Garfield assassinated
  • 1882
  • Gun battles and vigilante violence break out as agents of a corporate consortium “clear” the Maxwell Land Grant, in New Mexico and Colorado, of prior inhabitants (1882-1883)
  • 1883
  • White supremacists stage a political coup in Danville, VA, forcibly removing local officials and murdering four blacks

 Every Man His Own Lynch-Lawyer in the South and West..

Justice Out of a Job. Every Man His Own Lynch-Lawyer in the South and West. Puck, July 1883, p.273.


  • Iron Molders’ lockout, Troy, NY, results in violence and murders on both sides (1883-1884)
  • 1884
  • Major riot in Cincinnati, Ohio
  • 1885
  • Anti-Chinese violence by Knights of Labor miners in Rock Springs, Wyoming, results in burning to death of Chinese miners; subsequent anti-Chinese riots in Seattle Tacoma, and many towns in Oregon and Northern California; includes assaults and forcible expulsion of Chinese miners and agricultural workers (1885-1886)
  • Series of two strikes against Jay Gould’s Southwest Railroad, along the Missouri Pacific, Kansas and Texas, and Wabash lines; after Gould reneges on agreement, riots erupt in Ft. Worth, Texas, and Parsons, Kansas; the killing of nine strikers in East St. Louis precipitates riots and imposition of martial law (1885-1886)
  • McCormick Harvesting Machine Company strike, Chicago, over wage cuts; repeated violent clashes occur in front of plant, with strikers facing off against replacement workers, Pinkerton detectives, and Chicago police (1885-1886)
  • 1886
  • Twenty blacks massacred in Carrollton, Mississippi
  • May 1 national strike for the Eight-Hour day; over 350,000 suspend work activities, with labor militancy especially strong in Chicago; in Detroit, participation by workers at Michigan Car Works precipitates violence
  • Continued violence in Chicago McCormick strike, including police killing of two strikers, leads to protest meeting at Haymarket Square; bomb thrown by unknown person kills a policeman and more are killed by ensuing police fire; nationwide hysteria over anarchist threat; eight Chicago anarchists sentenced to hang
  • Labor-related riots in Milwaukee result in seven deaths
  • Anti-Chinese riots in Washington Territory; martial law declared
  • 1887
  • Vigilantes attack and murder Chinese miners in Hell’s Canyon on Idaho-Oregon border
  • 1888
  • Burlington Railroad workers’ strike on lines running from Chicago to Colorado and Wyoming; armed clashes between strikers and Pinkerton detectives, trains burned and dynamited
  • 1889
  • Textile workers strike in Fall River, MA, over wages, safety, and pace of work; strikers beat and stone replacement workers
  • Mexican-American White Caps (Gorras Blancas) organize in New Mexico; destroy barbed wire fences, rail lines, crops, houses, and bridges and engage in beatings and violence to protest Anglo intrusion (1889-1890)
  • 1890
  • Massacre of Sioux Ghost Dancers at Wounded Knee, South Dakota
  • 1891
  • Chinese sugar-cane workers strike, Hawai’i, over deductions from wages; violently crushed by police
  • Coal miners’ strike, eastern Tennessee, over “scrip” pay and competition from convict labor; strikers forcibly remove convict laborers from the mining regions and burn convict stockades; military force used in response.
  • Catarino Garza organizes Mexican-American force in Texas and invades northern Mexico to oppose Diaz regime; pursued by both Mexican and US troops, flees to Cuba
  • Eleven Italian-Americans, tried for the murder of New Orleans’ police chief and acquitted, are lynched by a mob
  • 1892
  • Dalton Gang active in the West; raids Coffeyville, Kansas
  • Powder River War (or Johnson County War) between cattlemen, Wyoming
  • Steel workers lockout at Carnegie Steelworks, Homestead, PA, over union recognition, leads to burning of barges, pitched battle between strikers and large contingent of Pinkerton detectives; US troops sent to impose order
  • Hardrock miners’ strike in Couer d’Alene district, Idaho, over wage reductions precipitates a lockout, gunfights, and the dynamiting of mine property; National Guard and federal troops impose martial law and carry out mass detentions of strikers
  • 1893
  • Doolin Gang active in Indian Territory (1893-1896); Bill Doolin killed at Lawson by a posse, 1896
  • 1894
  • American Railway Union organizes nationwide boycott of Pullman Cars, in solidarity with strike at Pullman Car Works, Chicago; strike spreads across the West, armed clashes and mob violence result in Chicago and many other cities result after US troops intervene to break strike
  • Hardrock miners’ strike in Cripple Creek, CO, for eight-hour da precipitates fierce violence between Western Federation of Miners and National Guard; the Strong Mine is dynamited
  • 1895
  • Race riot in New Orleans leaves six blacks dead
  • 1896
  • Hardrock miners’ strike in Leadville, CO, precipitates violence as mine owners and state leaders vow to clean out union; gun fights, dynamiting incidents, and attack on Coronado Mine (1896-1897)
  • 1897
  • Massacre of Slavic coal miners in Lattimer, PA, as miners march for higher wages and an end to “scrip” pay; 50 dead or wounded
  • 1898
  • Blacks terrorized and murdered and Republican/Populist officials forcibly removed from office in Wilmington, NC
  • 1899
  • Street railway workers’ strike in Cleveland, OH, over speedup and safety issues; strikers attack and beat strikebreakers
  • Hardrock miners’ strike in Couer d’Alene district, Idaho, over union recognition and wages; precipitates armed clashes and dynamiting of Bunker Hill Mine property; US Army imposes martial law, large numbers of striking miners are rounded up and held for extended periods in stockades
  • US sends troops to Samoa to assert US rights

Signing the Memorandum of Ratification on Behalf of the United States.

Hon. John Hay, Secretary of State, Signing the Memorandum of Ratification on Behalf of the United States. "The Last Chapter of the War with Spain - Scenes Attending the Exchange of Ratifications of the Treaty of Peace at the White House, April 11, 1899." Harper’s Weekly, Apr. 1899, Supplement.


  • 1900
  • US troops join European and Japanese forces to put down patriotic revolt of “Boxers” in China, protesting foreign domination
  • Anthracite coal strike in PA, over working conditions, leads to armed battles between sheriff’s men and strikers in Shenandoah and Oneida; National Guard called in
  • Riot in Akron, Ohio
  • Race riot in New Orleans
  • 1901
  • President William McKinley assassinated
  • 1902
  • Anthracite coal strike, PA, for eight-hour day, UMW recognition, minimum wage; strikers shot by company guards, precipitating violent clash in Shenandoah and calling of National Guard; houses are burned and strikebreakers stoned before President Theodore Roosevelt intervenes and pressures mine owners for settlement
  • Chicago teamsters’ strike versus packing houses over wages and working conditions; consumer boycott accompanies strike; three days of riots in Chicago against the “beef trust”
  • 1903
  • Japanese and Mexican sugar beet workers in Oxnard, California, unite in strike over wage reductions; in gunfights, four members of the new Japanese Mexican Labor Association are shot
  • Copper miners strike in Clifton-Morenci, Arizona, led by Mexican miners, is put down by military force wielded by Phelps Dodge Co.
  • Hardrock mining strike in Cripple Creek, CO, in sympathy with a strike of refinery workers in Colorado City, over wages; armed battles are followed by military occupation of the district, burning and destruction of union halls in Cripple Creek area, and forcible expulsion of WFM miners from the district (1903-1904)
  • Hardrock mining strike in Telluride, CO, over wage cuts and eight-hour day; violence on both sides , National Guard called in, strike is forcibly ended amid mass arrests (1903-1904)
  • Italian, Finnish,and Slavic coal miners in Utah strike for union recognition; pitted against Utah Fuel Company with secret support of Mormon church; violence against strikers occurs, National Guard called in (1903-1904)
  • 1904
  • Packinghouse workers strike in Midwestern cities for minimum wage; violence erupts and black strikebreakers area ttacked in Chicago, Kansas City, and St. Joseph, MO, and militia are called in to Sioux City, Iowa
  • 1905
  • Assassination of Frank Steunenberg, former governor of Idaho, in retaliation for suppression of Couer d’Alene strike; presumably carried out by members of WFM

© 2010 Rebecca Edwards, author of New Spirits: Americans in the Gilded Age, 1865-1905 by Rebecca Edwards, Oxford University Press


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