In February of 1868, Sheridan assumed command of the Department of Missouri and became responsible for enforcing the peace among the hostile Plains Indian tribes. He implemented the "Total War" strategy in the winter campaign of 1868-1869 against the Southern Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, and Comanche. Sheridan recalled Custer early from his suspension to lead the campaign, which was successful in driving the Southern Plains tribes onto reservations. Sheridan's standing orders to Custer were, "To kill all the warriors, capture all the women and children, destroy all camps and material goods, and kill all the ponies."
In 1869, when General William Tecumseh Sherman was made General-in-Chief of the U.S. Army, Sheridan was promoted to lieutenant general and assumed command of the Military District of Missouri, which extended from the Mississippi River west to the Rocky Mountains north and south from Canada to Mexico borders. He was involved in the Red River Wars of 1874-75, the Great Sioux Wars of 1876-77, and the Nez Perce War of 1877.