The 1855-1881 Mullan Road War


This war was actually a part of Snake River War and Red Clouds War (1860s) and Black Hills War and Nez Perce War (1870s). Historically, whites claim they built Mullan Road. However, it was originally an Indian road built by Anishinabek in order for Indian people living in eastern Canada, to travel from that region, to those plains near where Great Falls, Montana is and on towards Oregon-Washington, where Columbia River is situated, to follow prophecy or Seven Fires Prophecy. Whites knew Great Falls of Missouri River were an obstacle to steam boat travel and conspired in early 1850s to make use of an old Indian road. In 1859, Lieutenant John Mullan was ordered to commence expanding that Indian road which really started back in Minnesota. He started near Fort Walla Walla, Washington, and ended his assignment in August of 1860, where Fort Benton, Montana is located. This Anishinabe road led from Great Lakes to Columbia River, and then Pacific Ocean. A list of this wars battles is above.



Great Falls was a region very dangerous at that time. Trouble started almost immediately after whites diverted that road. In July of 1860, first steam boats reached Fort Benton. Their first steam boat to reach Fort Benton was named Chippewa. It almost coincided with completion of Mullan Road. Supposedly, Americans were allowed by Stevens Treaties to navigate Missouri River and expand that Indian road. Historians claim that over 20,000 people used Mullan Road in its first year. How many were killed by Ojibwa Soldiers in that first year? We are not stupid! They were smart enough to see up to 70 to 80 whites traveling down Mullan Road every day. They knew what that meant.



In 1862, Minnesota Ojibway's rose up and waged war on Red River Colony (that part located in Minnesota and North Dakota) and also attacked whites living in southern Minnesota. However, around 1860 or so, whites commenced to invade southwest Montana. That's where Mullan Road War actually intensified. A small Ojibway population lived in southwest Montana during those times. Most Ojibway Soldiers were sent to southwest Montana from northern Montana. At first, this war was fought in Oregon and Washington, as a result of Reservation boundary disputes. Ojibway leaders wanted land whites didn't. That meant desert land and mountainous land. If Ojibway leaders knew their Reservations included mostly farmland, they refused to settle there because they knew whites would demand that land.



Later, it was primarily fought between Fort Buford Indian (Military also) Reservation and Helena. Then later it was fought primarily between Fort Benton and Helena. Teamsters numbering 100 or more, left Fort Benton to travel to Helena, to bring supplies to southwest Montana. Those teamsters were armed with repeating rifles and revolvers. Indian casualties were very heavy as they tried to prevent whites from supplying white settlements in southwest Montana. Many battles took place in northeast Wyoming yet most was fought in Montana and involved teamsters who numbered from 100 to 200. Those teamsters were in charge of defending wagon trains carrying supplies. As mentioned, each wagon train of supplies was guarded by 100 to 200 teamsters. No one knows how many Indians and whites were killed along Mullan Road. Indian casualties, however, were 10 to 20 times higher than that of whites. Between January of 1869 and October of 1869, at least 56 whites were killed by Ojibway Soldiers between Fort Benton and Helena. That's a known number of known whites killed. It does not include whites who were killed and their identities were unknown or their bodies never found. Ojibway Soldiers were yet making use of bows and arrows during those times. Though a list of this wars battles is listed, it does not include those skirmishes between Ojibway Soldiers and teamsters. So there were many other battles fought in this war than listed.



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