The mastermind behind the destruction of the buffalo was none other than General Sherman. A highly brutal yet effective Union commander during the Civil War, Sherman was appointed to commanding general in 1869 of the frontier army. This army 's main responsibility with the absolute subjugation of the Plains Indians tribes by any means necessary. An experienced commander, Sherman "had learned that to shatter the enemy 's will to resist, it was necessary to destroy his ability to supply his armies" (Smits, 314). To accomplish his goal, Sherman established a two-pronged approach. On one hand, Sherman improved his own supply and transport lines by protecting and establishing railroad lines across the plains. In the other, Sherman invited European and American hunters and sportsmen to engage in a "Great Buffalo hunt" (Smits, 314). By eliminating the buffalo, Sherman believed that he could starve the Plain 's tribes into submission.
Besides the killing of buffalo by sportsmen, many military commanders also allowed their troops to destroy buffalo to further the cause of removing the " Indian frontier" (Smits,316). Army commanders, such as Colonel Cust...
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...lusion, while some army commanders resented the extermination of the buffalo for moral or prideful reasons, the top brass as well as many of the officers saw the violent removal of the buffalo from the Plains as the only sure way to subdue the Plains Indian tribes. As stated by an unknown high ranking officer, "if we kill the buffalo we conquer the Indian" (Smits, 331). Based on the written testimonies and historical hunts presented, I agree with the Smits ' assertion that the extermination of the buffalo was planned, orchestrated, and encouraged by the highest commanders of the United States army. The primary ramification was the elimination of the buffalo must not only be considered in terms of economic "progress" and "profit". Its chief aim was to pacify the resisting plains tribes while connecting the burgeoning nation by an interconnected system of railroads.
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