The Central Plains Indian Wars

A BGES Indian Wars Field University Program

With Neil Mangum

April 22–30, 2022; from Kansas City, MS

The promise of free land in the west near Santa Fe and the Nebraska and Colorado territories sparked an unprecedented migration west with a concurrent need to protect settlers from the free-ranging lifestyle of the Plains Indians. Originating out of Independence, Missouri, this program will thoroughly ground you in life on the American frontier in the 19th century both before and after the Civil War. As we move into the heartland of the Great Plains of Kansas, you will see great names in American history such as Dodge City, Fort Leavenworth and the important string of forts manned by US cavalry who were charged with keeping the westward trails clear from Indian marauding. This is an important American history story told by a master American history storyteller. Come on and join us.


Friday, April 22, 2022

8 PM: Check in at the LaQuinta Inn Hotel, Airport in Kansas City—your reservations have been made and paid for. Tour Leader Neil Mangum and BGES Executive Director Len Riedel will meet you in the lobby and distribute readings and other information about the program. There are several eating establishments within short walking distance from the hotel. Hotel included.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Bags out by 0800 with Boots and Saddles at 8:30 AM as we commence another of Neil’s incomparable Indian War tours—of all Len has done with him, he likes the Central Plains best! Our first stop is the National Frontier Trails Museum in Independence. The next stop is the National World War I Museum. We briefly visited on another trip and realized that you needed and deserved much more time. We also must stop and let you visit the Steamboat Arabia Museum before heading west into Kansas. Our last stop being the Kansas State Historical Museum in Topeka. We will overnight in Manhattan, Kansas. Lunch and dinner are on your own. Hotel and breakfast are provided.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Have your bags out by 8 AM for loading, Boots and Saddles at 8:15 A.M. It seems strange being in the middle of the country that is considered to be the frontier and yet the heritage of the area is more than 150 years old. Sadly, with so many forts in ruin museums are increasingly important to the interpretative narrative that will compliment Neil’s expert insights. Our first stop is Fort Harker, which will be the first in a number of garrisons and staging areas for the security of the trails and settlers.

After lunch in Great Bend we will stop at Pawnee Rock State Monument. Fort Larned is next and the stories here are about true Americans. There is a series of booklets about each of the forts we will be seeing; you may want to collect them tpo provide a great deal of post-visit color and insight. We will continue on seeing the site of the Cheyenne Village on Pawnee Fork which Winfield Scott Hancock (sound familiar?) torched in 1867. Hancock then sent Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and the Seventh Cavalry in pursuit. We continue along the Santa Fe Trail to our lodging in Dodge City—one of the west’s most famous towns.

We will stay two nights at the LaQuinta Inn and Suites. Breakfast, lunch and hotel included.

Monday, April 25, 2022

8:30 AM: your luggage stays put, as we depart for today’s adventure. Custer is controversial for many aspects of his Indian War experiences and his trail to the Little Big Horn is littered with inflammatory and aggressive actions against Indian tribes. Today we will look at Custer at his destructive best as he hits a sleeping Cheyenne village along the banks of the Washita River in Oklahoma. We will examine his staging from Fort Supply and his move against Black Kettle’s Camp. There are some excellent tactics displayed here and you will get a real sense of the drama of the Plains Wars. Neil is well known in the region and you can expect excellent access to the key sites. Dodge City is one of the west’s great destinations and we will return in time for you to visit the historic area. We will provide breakfast, lunch and the hotel but dinner is on your own.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Bags on board by 8:15, Boots and Saddles at 8:30. Today another gritty look at life on the frontier. We move with the settlers of more than a century and a half ago along the ruts of the Santa Fe Trail to the Cimmaron Cut-Off. Next stop is the Punished Woman Forks battlefield. This was the scene of a vicious fight between Cheyenne who were resisting the white man’s control in the fall of 1878. Led by Dull Knife and Little Wolf, its outcome was uncertain for either side. Then we examine the story of the kidnapping of four women by the Cheyenne in 1874 and will visit where the Indians murdered a settler family—sad tidings.

Our last stop before our hotel is another relic of the times: Fort Wallace. We will visit their cemetery and museum. We are then headed to Colby for our encampment over the next two nights. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and lodging are included.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Boots and Saddles at 8:15 AM, Our scout for the day will bring us back to Colby tonight so leave your bags in your room. We are headed for a corner of Colorado and one of the most tactically interesting episodes of the war—both a battle and siege at Beecher’s Island, I just find this intriguing and dramatic—I think you will too. This site was the focus of nine days of drama and was not typical of the Indian wars. It is worth the time and discussion. We will then head briefly into Nebraska to Benkleman where Custer camped in 1867 during the Hancock expedition we discussed at Pawnee Fork. This is where Custer was expected to be found by a detachment under the command of Lieutenant Kidder who was bringing dispatches to Custer…they didn’t get there, Neil will explain why. We will have lunch there Breakfast, lunch and the hotel are included—dinner is on your own.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Bags out at 8:15 with Boots and Saddles at 8:30 AM. Leaving here we will vist the site and discuss the 1857 encounter between US soldiers out of Fort Leavenworth led by Edwin Vose Sumner, an aging officer who would have the distinction of being the oldest United States Field officer during the Civil War. Sumner tracked and encountered about 300 braves at Solomon’s Fork along the Kansas River. We will then see a post Civil War site of great interest, the Nicodemus National Historic Site. Here was the first western settlement established primarily by African Americans.

We will turn back towards Kansas City stopping at Fort Hays. Fort Hays is yet another of the important frontier forts. We will have lunch there and then head on to the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene where we will overnight. Breakfast, lunch, and a farewell dinner, as well as the hotel, are included.

Friday, April 29, 2022

8:15 AM Our final push will put bags on board and final call at 8:30 for departure. Our program starts at Fort Riley where we will see the museum, the Custer House and the Wounded Knee Monument. There are some excellent exhibits at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. We will see Comanche—the horse ridden by Captain Miles Keogh at the Little Big Horn—Comanche survived!

Lawrence is an important American City with strong ties to the Civil War and Bleeding Kansas. We will do a windscreen tour of the 1863 Sacking of Lawrence by William Quantrill. After lunch in Lawrence, we will make the short trip over to Fort Leavenworth to visit the Frontier Museum before returning to the LaQuinta Inn Airport where some of you may want to depart tonight.

Those of you who plan to depart on Saturday, April 30th will need to get your own room and make your reservation. The rate for us is $91 plus tax. Breakfast is included. We may put together an ad hoc dinner trip after returning to the hotel for those who want to join us at your own expense—we no doubt will either seek Kansas City BBQ or a Kansas City Strip Steak.

Breakfast and lunch today are included.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

You are at RQ this morning—released from duty and free to look around. There are many neat things to see in the Kansas City area and you may find you want to stay the weekend. Thank you for coming.

About the Faculty

Neil Mangum is one of the nation’s foremost historians, is an expert on frontier life. A retired National Park Service official, Neil served as Superintendent at the Little Big Horn National Battlefield as it transitioned from Custer National Battlefield. The popular Mangum only allows himself four or five tours a year and BGES is fortunate to enjoy his favor. He enjoys the clientele and the small folksy nature of the group that is usually well prepared. Neil is author of The Battle of the Rosebud: Prelude to the Little Big Horn. He has a following and most people on this trip will have travelled with him before which makes this event even nicer.

Hotel Information

Your registration fee includes 7 nights single or double occupancy lodging. We will base at the LaQuinta Inn, Kansas City Airport.


The arrival airport is Kansas City International (MCI). If you drive to Kansas City we will make arrangements for you to leave your car parked there; an additional charge may apply or park in long-term parking at the airport and take the hotel shuttle back to the hotel. The hotel will be easily accessible by automobile. Amtrak services Kansas City.

Recommended Reading

You will be provided with a reading book and maps upon arrival. The following books are suggested to enhance your readiness for the program. We cannot compete with Amazon and the online dealers for a few books but if you register with AmazonSmile, a portion of any purchases you make for this program or other books will be given to BGES.


Registration includes 7 nights lodging, 7 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 2 dinners, a reading book with maps, the academic program, support of a professional historian, tour director, all admissions and transportation. We will also provide snacks, bottled water and a limited selection of sodas. Transportation will be appropriate to the registration. A coach bus requires 20 full paid registrants for less we will use transportation to include passenger vans.

Register for this program using a secure PayPal link

Registration Type

To register by mail or fax, download this printable registration form: The Central Plains Indian Wars

Questions? Need more information? Please contact us.