Did leadership experience in the Civil War help officers in the post Civil War, Indian Wars?

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Aug 25, 2012
Many Indian War officers developed leadership skills during the Civil War, but how useful were these skills during the Indian Wars? Certainly the ability to lead soldiers in combat could be transferred from the Civil War to the Indian Wars, however, many of the skills officers learned during the Civil War may have been less useful in the Indian Wars.

1. Logistics was a game winner in the Civil War, how important was logistics during the Indian Wars?
2. Leading divisions, Corps, and Armies were hard learned skills during the Civil War. There was not much of a need for leadership skills at Corps or Army Level during the Indian Wars.
3. The proper use of artillery was learned during the Civil War. Artillery was not a game changer during the Indian Wars.
4. Was the knowledge of the use of cavalry during the Civil War, transferable to cavalry operations during the Indian Wars?

Could one argue that skills officers learned during the Civil War, hurt officers more during the Indian Wars than it helped them?


Aug 18, 2021
Somewhere in the Hudson Valley
Interesting side note to the Red River War. This is the letter from Nelson A. Miles recommending Medals of Honor for individuals involved in the Washita River Battle (Lyman Wagon Train) September 9-14 Sep 1874. Sgt William Koelpin is buried near my grandfather and I discovered the grave while locating my grandfather's headstone. He was in an unmarked grave until 21 years ago. The Texas Historical Society determined that this was where he was buried, the VA provided a headstone, and the Army provided an honor guard for the installation of the stone.

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Headstone photo was Veteran's Day 2020 after I did some cleanup. I brought the flowers, w/37 star flag and a US Army flag.


Jul 28, 2015
New York City
Logistics was a game winner in the Civil War, how important was logistics during the Indian Wars?
Logistics are always important in military operations but in that regard, the challenges facing the US Army during the Indian Wars were different from those it faced during the CW. American supply lines relied more heavily on the great western river transportation routes such as Missouri and Yellowstone and considerably less on rail lines which were only starting to make inroads across the great plains. River steamers could move commissary and quartermaster supplies to strings of army outposts where the smaller scale of operations meant that pack mules could more readily provide for on-site disbursement. While Native American tribes had traditionally raided civilian wagon trains and settlements, their ability to degrade army communications was almost non-existent, unlike the constant threat that was presented by the likes of Forrest, Morgan, and Wheeler during the CW.