Red Cloud was born in 1822 in a Sioux encampment near the present site of North Platte, Nebraska. He was born a member of the Ogalas, which was one of seven tribes that made up the Teton Sioux nation. As a boy, Red Cloud learned to ride bareback and shot a bow and arrow. Then by the time he was 15 years old he was already riding in war parties. Once while fighting the Pawnee, an arrow pierced his body from front to back. Only the tip of the arrow and the feathers were visible. They were cut off, and the shaft was removed. Red Cloud quickly recovered from the wound.
Everything went smoothly for the Sioux until gold was discovered in Montana in 1862. It didn't take long for the miners to begin pouring into Sioux territory by way of the new Bozeman Trail. The Bozeman Trail cut through the heart of the best of the Sioux hunting grounds. Then just as the Sioux were about to sign peace treaties word spread that the military was building a chain of forts along the trail. Red Cloud was angry, and he and his people began raiding wagon trains, the new forts, and military convoys. Before long, he was joined by the Cheyenne and the Arapaho. In all, he assembled over 4,000 warriors.
Fort Kearny was constructed in the heart of the best of the Sioux hunting grounds, and for that reason alone it is where the majority of the fighting took place. Over and over the Sioux attacked. Then, on December 21,1866 a group of soldiers left Fort Kearny in search of fire wood. It was the opportunity that Red Cloud had been waiting for. The soldiers were gathering wood along Big Piny Creek when Red Clouds men attacked. Inside the fort the bugles sounded the alarm. Captain William Fetterman hastily assembled a force of 80 cavalrymen. He had bragged to everyone that he could ride through the whole Sioux Nation.
As soon as the cavalry approached the Sioux retreated. Then only minutes latter a group of 10 warriors could be seen making their way toward the fort. They were led by Crazy Horse. Crazy Horse had a lightning streak painted across his cheek. He and his men taunted the soldiers. Without thinking twice, Captain Fetterman ordered an attack. Moments later, the fort let loose with a cannon barrage that barely cleared the Indians heads. Fetterman and his men raced along Lodge Trail Ridge in hot pursuit until they were in the middle of an ambush. In seconds, 2,000 warriors attacked them like a swarm of bees. Only a few of the Indians carried guns, but it didn't matter. The battle lasted 45 minutes and all 80 soldiers died. The Indians named this the Battle of a Hundred Slain. The newspapers called it Fetterman's Massacre. It was the first battle in American history that did not have a single survivor.
Red Cloud kept attacking the forts until the United States Government had no other choice but to close them down. The peace commission traveled to Fort Laramie and gave into most of Red Clouds demands. The Sioux would get an enormous expanse of land adjacent to the Missouri River in present day South Dakota. Also, all of the forts were to be abandoned. Red Cloud signed the treaty on November 6 1868, at Fort Laramie. Red Cloud never made war again.