Largely due to Hollywood films, when Americans think of “Indian wars”, they think of what we now call the West, particularly the Great Plains, or the “new” Southwest. Really, though, the wars of the Europeans against the Native Americans/American Indians east of the Mississippi lasted longer, involved greater numbers in combat, and saw far more brutality.
The first wars of Europeans and American Indians occurred during the century of Spanish occupation which preceded that of the rest of that Continent.
Battle of Mabila, 1540
Though De Soto’s conquistadors fought many battles in their three-year trek (1539-1542), the one fought at Mabila in central Alabama against by the coalition under the paramount mico Tuskaloosa was by far the worst of them all.
Napochi War, 1560
In 1560, Spaniards under Tristan de Luna left their recently-founded home at Nanipanca, or Santa Cruz, on the Alabama River in search of trade with the town of Coosa, at Coosawattee, Georgia, the dominant chiefdom inland. Once there, they were “invited” on a war expedition against the “Napochi”, living in what is now the Chattanooga area.
After burning the town of Opelika at Audobon Acres, the combined army moved on the village of Tasqui near the mouth of Citico Creek and crossed the river, where they met a force from the large town of Tasquiqui at the Hampton Place site on Moccasin Point. After a parlay, the locals, ancestors of the Tuskegee, agreed to resume tribute to Coosa.
Carolina Revolt of 1569
The tribes of the Spanish province of Carolina (named for Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor), which stretched from the seacoast of South Carolina into East Tennessee, in La Florida rose up and destroyed all the inland forts of the Spanish and massacred the garrisons, save for one lone survivor. The then capital of La Florida on Parris Island, Santa Elena, was the only settlement and fort untouched.
Escamacu War, 1576-1579
The Orista (Edisto) and the Escamacu (Ahoya) in Carolina and the Guale on the seacoast between the Savannah and Altamaha Rivers rose up to expel the Spanish, especially their hated missions. It ended with Santa Elena burned to the ground.
Guale Revolt of 1582-1583
The Guale again rising up against the Spanish, until the peace treaty the next year.
Guale Revolt of 1584-1585
The treaty of 1583 didn’t last very long. By now you’re getting the idea that the Guale did not like the Spanish very much. There’s more.
Juanillo’s Revolt, 1597-1601
Another uprising by the Guale, after they became an organized province of La Florida. It began over denunciation of polygamy by a Spanish friar.
Guale Revolt of 1608
Five micos of the Guale rose up against the Spanish colonial and Church mission systems. The short-lived revolt led to the reintroduction of slavery.
First Powhatan War, 1610-1614
Essentially a war of conquest by the colony of Virginia against the Powhatan Confederation, it ended with much of the confederacy’s territory in English hands.
Calusa War, 1614
After the Calusa, who dominated all of South Florida, killed five hundred of the Mocoso on Tampa Bay in retaliation for Spanish incursions, the Spanish responded with a punitive expedition against them.
Second Powhatan War, 1622-1632
Begun when the Powhatan massacred a third of the colony in a surprise attack. The war lasted for ten years, with two tribes of the Confederation, the Accomac and the Patawomeck, fighting on the English side.
Beaver Wars, 1628-1701
Largely a war over which nation would control European trade in the North, the nations also fought over resources and to replenish their depleted ranks. Begun by the attack of the Mohawk of the League of the Iroquois upon the Mahican, the Beaver Wars disrupted life of the nations and tribes in all of eastern North America and some west of the Mississippi.
The fighting covered all of the north, plus West Virginia, western Virginia and Maryland, and Kentucky in the Old Southwest. The Beaver Wars ended with the Great Peace of Montreal in 1701, signed there because New France had been a party to the conflict as allies of several of the nations and tribes involved, thirty-eight counting the French and the Iroquois.
First Susquehannock War, 1642-1652
The colony of Maryland declared war on the Susquehannock of the Susquehanna Valley over trade issues. With help from the colonies of New Netherlands and of New Sweden, the Susquehannock emerged victorious.
Third Powhatan War, 1644-1646
This war essentially ended the confederation and made the Pamunkey the leading tribe among the remaining groups.
Guale Revolt of 1645
More of a labor strike than an armed revolt, the Guale Indian workers on Spanish missions and plantations walked off their jobs to their towns in the backcountry in defiance of the friars and their own chiefs when the colonial government ran out of money to pay them.
Apalachee Civil War, 1647
The Apalachee occupied South Georgia between the Altamaha River on the east and the Flint River on the west. In 1647, traditionalist chiefs rose up against Christianized chiefs and the intrusion of Spanish spiritual beliefs and mores into their daily lives. As allies, the rebels had a band of the Chisca, the name by which the Spanish knew the Yuchi as far back as De Soto.
Erie-Iroquois War, 1651-1664
Though accounts of the war between the Erie and the Iroquois give the beinning and ending dates as 1653 and 1656, in truth the war began in the winter of 1651-1652 when the western Iroquois attacked, unsuccessfully, the Atrakwaeronon, one of the Erie subtribes. The next summer, with contingents from all Five Nations, the destruction of the Atrakwaronon as a cohesive unit succeeded. In 1653, the Erie counterattacked, destroying one of the two Seneca towns. Though the Iroquois countered the next year, 1654, by destroying the capital town of Arrigha, or Rigue, causing the diaspora of the Riqueronon subtribe, by 1655 the Five Nations were begging the French for military assistance. Many historians count the capture of the town of Genaienton in 1656, but the Jesuit Relations, the informants of which were the Iroquois themselves, make clear the war lasted until at least 1664. Even then, the final group of the Erie remaining in the north did not surrender until 1682.
Descendants of the former Erie assimilated or enslaved by the Iroquois became the core of the mixed group of Iroquoians known as the Mingo or Blue Mingo in the eighteenth century. Other Erie, particularly the Riqueronon subtribe (whose name was often synonymous with the whole confederacy), went south to the “country of the Muscogui”, as John Norton put it, with a stopover in Virginia.
First Battle of Bloody Run, 1656
Shortly after the destruction of Arrigha by the Iroquois, a large body of northern Indians that colonial records refer to as the “Richahecrians” invaded Virginia and took up residence on the upper James River. Two years later, Virginia sent a force of colonial rangers accompanied by a hundred Pamunkey to dislodge them. The resulting battle was a disaster for the Virginian forces. Later in 1670, the Richahecrians were found in the Blue Ridge mountains in the west of Carolina by a Virginia emissary who referred to them as the Rickohockans.
Timucua Rebellion, 1656
The Timucua were a native people that at the time of Spanish first contact made up between ten and twelve nations that occupied all of North Florida. Like the Guale before them, they revolted against the forced labor system in 1656.
Second Susquehannock War, 1655-1657
Fought between the province of Maryland and the Susquehannock, now at the head of Chesapeake Bay and without their Dutch and Swedish allies.
Iroquois-Shawnee War, 1662-1672
Having eradicated or chased off many of their previous targets, the Iroquois turned their attention on the Shawnee of the Ohio Valley. Finally tired of the attacks, the Shawnee divided into several bands, and dispersed. The Chillicothe and Kispoko migrated to the Cumberland River; the Hathawekela moved to the Savannah River upstream from the Westo; the Mekoche sought asylum near the Mascouten; the Piqua gained refuge among the Lenape, who were already subjects of the Iroquois.
Coosa War, 1671
This was fought against the new colonists led by the inland Coosaw tribe of Cusabo.
Stono War, 1674
Another war fought with the Carolina colonists, this time led by the Stono tribe of Cusabo.
Third Susquehannock War, 1676-1677
Instigated by the Doeg (the Nanticoke under another name), this war involved the colony of Maryland, and helped spark Bacon’s Rebellion. At the end, the surviving Susquehannock took refuge with their erstwhile rivals, the Iroquois.
Bacon’s Rebellion, 1676
Both a rebellion against the colonial government at Jamestown and a war of eradication and/or expulsion against local Indians, its leader was Nathaniel Bacon. Afterwards, the Occaneechi joined the Saponi, the Nanticoke became part of the Nanzatico, and the Pamunkey gained the Rappahannock and the Chickahominy as tributaries in compensation for Bacon’s unprovoked attack upon them.
Guale War, 1675-1680
In 1675, the English colony of Carolina (named for Charles I of England) began a campaign to eradicate the Spanish missions on the Atlantic coast of what is now Georgia. The Guale were north of the Altamaha, the Mocama south of it; both were targets. Carolina primarily used proxies, the Westo on the Savannah River and some of the Lower Creek. The remnants formed the core of the Yamasee.
Westo War, 1680-1682
English Carolina and the Hathawekela band of Shawnee (on the Savannah River since 1674) joined forces to eradicate the Westo. After the destruction of their town, the Westo moved to the Chattahoochee, the Shawnee took their place as trading partners.
Winyah War, 1682
Carolina and the Shawnee attacked the Winyah, primarily for slaves.
Iroquois-Catawba War, 1680-1759
After defeating the Susquehannock and absorbing them into the League, the Iroquois turned their attentions south for warring, scalping, and slave-raiding. Though for the most part marauding indiscriminately, their favorite targets were the Catawba. The Catawba fought back, even raiding the north. George Washington noted that large war parties going one way or another were a common sight. The final peace came after the Treaty of Albany in 1759.
First Cherokee-Creek War, 1690-1710
As the ranks of the Cherokee swelled from assimilation of new refugees from the north and local remnant populations and they began to spread out, the Creek towns, not yet a confederacy but in league, felt the threat and attacked. The war lasted until around 1710.
Catawba-Shawnee War, 1690-1707
Back by Carolina, the Catawba begin attacking the Hathawekela Shawnee on the Savannah, often in conjunction with the Yamasee. After the climactic battle in 1707, the Hathawekela disperse to the Creeks, the Lenape, and most to their Chillicothe and Kispoko cousins on the Cumberland.
Cherokee-Lenape War, 1698-1708
With the upper Ohio County, including at that time the Allegheny Valley, deserted, some Cherokee, apparently a fairly substantial group, returned to the north. The main town was known as Allegheny, and stood at the confluence of the Kiskiminetas and Allegheny Rivers, what is now Schenley, Pennsylvania. The Lenape began attempting to drive them out in about 1698, probably encouraged to do so by an invitation of the Iroquois to settle in western Pennsylvania. In 1708, Allegheny is destroyed (later rebuilt with other occupants), and the survivors returning south, and the Lenape settle the region.
Cherokee-Iroquois War, 1701-1768
After the Beaver Wars ended, the Iroquois turned their martial and slave-raiding attention south, and one of their chief targets were the former Erie reimagined as the Cherokee. The wars ended with the Treaty of Johnson Hall in 1768, mediated by Superintendent of Northern Indians William Johnson.
First Apalachee War, 1702-1704
English Carolina turned its attention to the west of the coast and began attacking the Apalachee and their Spanish missions. In addition to their own militia, they used Yamasee and Lower Creek warriors.
Timucua War, 1706
Using the same allies, English Carolina penetrated into northern Florida to eradicate the missions among the Timucua and decimate the dwindling tribe. Within a short time, the survivors fled to the seat and fort at San Agustin.
Second Apalachee War, 1708
Another invasion of Apalachee territory by Carolina and the Yamasee.
Mobile War, 1708
In support of the Alabama, the Cherokee, Abihka, and Catawba invaded the Mobile Bay area with them, intending to drive the French at La Mobilia and Fort St. Louis there, then capital of La Louisiane, into the sea. For some reason, their four thousand warrior strong force instead settled for torching the nearby town of the Mobile tribe.
Cumberland Valley War, 1710-1715
In 1710, the Chickasaw in the west and the Cherokee in the east launched a war of expulsion against the Chillicothe and the Kispoko bands of the Shawnee on the Cumberland River. The impetus came when part of the Hathawekela band moved from the Savannah to the Cumberland to join their cousins beginning in 1707.
Tuscarora War, 1711-1715
The southern band of Tuscarora joined with several Algonquin tribes to attack the settlements of North Carolina over territorial encroachment and slave raids. They and their allies faced the militias of North Carolina and South Carolina, the northern Tuscarora, the Apalachee, the Yamasee, the Catawba, the Cherokee, and many others. After the war, the southern Tuscarora migrated north to become the sixth nation of the Haudenosaunee, where some of their cousins from the northern band later followed.
First Yamasee War, 1715-1717
The Yamasee opened the war with a massacre on the frontier. Several other Indian nations joined in, including Cherokee, Catawba (often in conjunction with the former), Lower Creek, Apalachee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Yuchi, Shawnee, and others. Against them were the colonial militias of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. The Tugaloo Massacre of a number of Creek leaders brought the Cherokee over to the side of the colonists.
There was no decisive victory by either side, but the Yamasee were greatly reduced as were the Apalachee, both moving south, and the Lower Creek returning from the Ocmulgee River and Ochese Creeks to the Chattahoochee River.
First Natchez War, 1716
Uprising by the Natchez in Mississippi, the last remain vestige of the Mississippian culture which once dominated all the Southeast and much west of the Mississippi, against the French colonists of Louisiana.
Cheraw War, 1716-1718
In the midst of the Yamasee War, the province of North Carolina declared war on the Cheraw living on its borders with Virginia, which refused to do likewise. After the close of the war, they joined the Catawba to escape attacks by the Seneca.
Second Cherokee-Creek War, 1716-1755
Begun over the Tugaloo Massacre, hostilities between the two nations lasted until 1755, ending at the Battle of Taliwa in North Georgia.
Chickasaw-Choctaw War, 1721-1760
Provoked by the French colonial authorities at Fort Toulouse, sending their Choctaw allies against the British-allied Chickasaw.
Second Natchez War, 1722-1724
Low intensity warfare between the Natchez and the French colonists, particularly the settlers.
Second Yamasee War, 1727
Carolina attacked the Yamasee refuge near San Agustin, burned the town, slaughtered most, carried some away as slaves. The survivors later joined the Seminole.
Third Natchez War, 1729-1731
The final uprising of the Natchez began with the capture of Fort Rosalie and massacre of its garrison. With Choctaw and Tunica allies, the French destroyed the Natchez as a people, deporting captives to the Caribbean as slaves, most of whom had been pro-French, while the rest fled to the Chickasaw. The Chickasaw also fought the French, raiding well into Upper Louisiane, joined by the Cherokee in 1730.
Chickasaw War of 1736
The French with their Choctaw and Illini allies launched attacks on the Chickasaw at two different points. They lost badly. Their goal had been to destroy the Natchez who had taken refuge with the Chickasaw.
Chickasaw War of 1739-1740
The French ascended the Mississippi, established a fortified camp at Chickasaw Bluffs (Memphis), but never got around to attacking the towns just to the east, returning south without firing a shot.
King George’s War, 1744-1748
Though fought mostly in the north between the Great Britain, the northern British colonies, and New France, the war included participation of British allies the Chickasaw and the Cherokee, who focused their efforts on Detroit and the native allies of the French in Upper Louisiane.
Choctaw Civil War, 1746-1750
During these years, the Choctaw fought a bloody civil war among themselves between the pro-French Eastern and Six Towns divisions and the pro-British Western division. It ended with the Choctaw remaining allied to the French.
Chickasaw War of 1752
Another would-be campaign by the French against the Chickasaw that came to naught.
French and Indian War, 1754-1763
Fought mostly in the north, the war in the Southeast primarily involved Shawnee attacks on the Virginia frontier until they switched sides in 1758 and the Anglo-Cherokee War and Anglo-Creek War.
Cherokee-North Carolina War, 1755-1756
Disagreements over trade and encroachment of settlers from the colony into Cherokee territory led to a period of hostilities that ended when the Crown called the Cherokee to join the effort against the French and their Indian allies.
Chickasaw-Shawnee War of 1756
The Chickasaw expelled the Piqua band of Shawnee who had been invited by the Cherokee to settle on the Cumberland a decade before.
South Florida War, 1757
The Lower Muskogee invaded South Florida out to the Keys, killing and enslaving most of the surviving natives. Those few who escaped were relocated to the Caribbean by the Spanish, and those Lower Muskogee who stayed became the nucleus of the Seminole.
Chickasaw-Cherokee War, 1758-1769
Begun because of an attack by the Cherokee upon the Lower Chickasaw on the Savannah River (where they lived from 1730 to 1775), the tensions had built since the settlement of the Piqua band of Shawnee on the Cumberland. The final battle at Chickasaw Old Fields in Alabama was a bad loss for the Cherokee.
Anglo-Cherokee War, 1759-1761
Though it started over dissatisfaction over their treatment by the British army while on the campaign to take Fort Dusquene (Fort Pitt), the Cherokee had a pro-French faction based in Great Tellico, supported by a forward post at Long-Island-on-the-Tennessee between the Coushatta at the head and the Kaskinampo at the foot. Small raids on the Virginian frontier began in 1758, but the war did not fully break out until the next year.
The Cherokee involved primarily came from the Lower Towns on the headwaters of the Savannah and Coosa and the Overhill Towns on the Little Tennessee River against the provinces of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. It ended with the Treaty of Long-Island-on-the-Holston with Virginia and the Treaty of Keowee with the two Carolinas.
Anglo-Creek War, 1759-1763
Sparked by the smallpox deaths of a number of micos at Fort Prince George near Keowee, the pro-French faction within the Creek Confederacy declared war against the provinces South Carolina and Georgia. The faction, led by Great Mortar, had already returned to the former home of the Coosa at Coosawattee, in support of the pro-French Cherokee. They were opposed, though not with arms, within the Confederacy by a pro-British faction led by Emistisigua. It ended with the Treaty of Augusta (1763) with Georgia and the cession of coastal land.
End of an era, beginning of a transition
In the Treaty of Paris (1763) at the end of the French and Indian War, Great Britain gained all of New France east of the Mississippi went to Britain (east Louisiana, Canada, and Bermuda), plus Florida in exchange for Louisiana west of the Mississippi and the return of Cuba and the Philippines to the Kingdom of Spain. The disposition of its new territory, especially in the case of the former east Louisiana, contributed much of the rancor and dissatisfaction that led to the rebellion of thirteen of Britain’s sixteen North American colonies as well as to the same sentiments of the Indian tribes and nations there toward those same colonies.