The populating of Indian Territory by the various tribes from across the United States served to depopulate the nation of Indian tribes outside the confines of this reserve. Its practical function was to concentrate the various tribes into one locality. Among the last to go here were the members of the tribes of the northern Plains Indians. It began little by little.
In 1851 two treaties relocated the Sioux from their former range through much of Minnesota, a land base of 24 million acres, to a narrow strip of reservations along the upper Minnesota River. As the land vacated by the Sioux began to be occupied by white settles, the Indians felt they had been tricked into giving up their land. A series of events intensified this dissatisfaction - including slow arrival of annuity payments and crop failure - culminating in 1862 in an uprising of the Sioux. The uprising ended with multiple attacks by the Indians on the settlements and hundreds of settlers being killed. The settlers retaliated, imprisoning almost 400 Indians and executing 38.
[Note provided by JS Dill: "December 26, 1862. On the day after Christmas, in Mankato, Minnesota, thirty-eight Indians were on the order of President Lincoln. This event stands today as the greatest mass execution in the history of the United States."
from Over the Earth I Come, The Great Sioux Uprising of 1862, Duane Schultz ]
Thousands of other Sioux fled, pouring into the Dakota and plains regions. Treaty after treaty began to diminish this vast land base of the Plains Indian tribes.
According to Addison E. Sheldon in Land Systems and Land Policies in Nebraska, a treaty of 1854 opened up a large area of land in eastern Nebraska for agricultural settlement by whites. In 1857, the Pawnees sold off nearly all their Nebraska land and limited themselves to a small reservation. A treaty in 1861 with the Arapaho and Cheyenne "arose mainly out of the discovery of gold in the Denver region and the desire of the whites to have a legal basis for invading that region." (p. 9)
A portion of land between the Arkansas and the Platte rivers eventually became heatedly contended. Here ran the Santa Fe Trail, used by emigrants and wagon and stagecoach companies. Here ran the Kansas Pacific Railroad and the new telegraph lines. But here, also, ran the buffalo during the summer months, the major source of the Plains Indians food supply. Two groups began to polarize over what to do with regard to the increasing conflicts between whites and the American Indian. One group consisted of those who favored a humanitarian solution to the plight of the Indian. These were often persons from the East and those who believed the destruction of the Indian was inconsistent with Christian beliefs. The other group consisted of individuals who were intimately connected with the frontier, such as settlers and miners. When conflicts arose between this group and the Indians whom they were displacing, they called for action to stop the conflict, especially when the tension resulted in the killing of those on the frontier by members of an Indian tribe. The abolitionist leader Wendell Phillips typified the humanitarian view of the conflict. A biographer of Phillips noted that:
When the Indians fought back, his sympathy was naturally with them. All Hail and Farewell to the Pacific Railroad,' he wrote, when the operation of the line was threatened by Indian attacks. The telegraph tells us that the Indians have begun to tear up the rails, to shoot passengers and conductors on this road. We see great good in this. At last the poor victim has found the vulnerable spot in his tyrant. (Bartlett, 1961, p. 380)
Generally speaking, the region between the Platte and the Arkansas rivers, extending west from central Kansas and Nebraska through Colorado to the Rocky Mountains, had originally been the domain of the Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians. South of the Arkansas was the region called the Staked Plains, inhabited by the Kiowas and Comanches. North of the Platte was populated by the Sioux. (Hoig, 1961, The Sand Creek Massacre) One of the first efforts to gather the Plains Indians together into a group was the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie It gave a number of tribes a combined reservation covering an immense area, roughly from the Canadian border south down the Rocky Mountains to Texas, extending several hundred miles east of the Rockies to the middle of Kansas, South Dakota and North Dakota, encompassing half the state of Colorado as well. This region was assigned to eight Indians tribes, namely, the Sioux, Cheyennes, Arapahos, Crows, Assinaboines, Gros-ventre and Arrickaras. The treaty specifically allotted the various Indian nations together a region "south of the Missouri River, east of the Rocky Mountains, north of the lines of Texas and New Mexico." The tract of land set aside for the Cheyennes and Arapahos, the tribes who were attacked along the Washita, was outlined by a line running up the north fork of the Platte River to its source in the Rocky Mountains, then south down the Rocky Mountains to the source of the Arkansas River, then down the Arkansas River to the "crossing of the Santa Fe Road," In addition to the Platte and Arkansas rivers, the land was bisected by the , Saline and Republican rivers. The treaty legally defined the country between the Platte and the Arkansas rivers as belonging the Cheyennes and Arapahos. ( Hoig, 1961, p. 4-5) (Fay, 1977) The Cheyenne and the Arapaho began to feel the pressure of an increasing white populations when gold was discovered in 1858, creating a gold rush to the Pikes Peak and South Platte region in the Rocky Mountains. Miners began to settle in the area, specifically Denver City, at the base of the mining region. (Hoig, 1961, p. 5) At that time, Indians were seen daily on the streets of Denver, or camped on the outskirts. An Arapaho Chief named Little Raven was concerned, however, about the great influx of white settlers. In a meeting between Little Raven and a number of the people of Denver, the chief "pledged his word for the preservation of peace and law and order by his people." He said that while he liked the white men and was glad to see them getting gold, the land belonged to the Indians and he hoped they would not stay too long. Following the conference, the Indians visited Denver in increasing numbers and associated with the whites on equal terms. Some expressed the belief that such familiarity would lead to trouble. And it did. A white man, Big Phil the Cannibal, one evening in 1860 raped several Arapaho women while the men were gone from camp. Other incidents by whites against the Indians followed. (Hoig, 1961, p. 6,7) William Bent, the father of George Bent (who later wrote a series of letters compiled into a narrative by George Hyde), had seen these problems coming, noting that one of the effects of the crowding was a severe reduction in the food supply available to the Indians. In a letter contained in the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1859 he wrote that:
" The concourse of whites is therefore constantly swelling, and incapable of control or restraint by the government. This suggests the policy of promptly rescuing the Indians, and withdrawing them from contact with the whites... These numerous and warlike Indians, pressed upon all around by the Texans, by the settlers of the gold region, by the advancing people of Kansas, and from the Platte, are already compressed into a small circle of territory, destitute of food, and itself bisected athwart by a constantly marching line of emigrants. A desperate war of starvation and extinction is therefore imminent and inevitable, unless prompt measure shall prevent it. " (p. 7)
In the same annual report, Commissioner of Indian Affairs A.B. Greenwood reported that "There is no alternative to providing for them in this manner but to exterminate them, which the dictates of justice and humanity alike forbid." He recommended new treaties. In 1860 Congress authorized the establishment of a new treaty to replace the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. (p. 8)
The 1861 Treaty of Fort Wise provided that the Cheyennes and Arapahos would cede "all lands now owned, possessed, or claimed by them," except for a small reservation in southeast Colorado near the junction of the Arkansas River and Sand Creek. Sand Creek was the northern border of the reserve and was 35 miles from Fort Lyon, which was inside the reservation. Fort Lyon was at that time a new name for the fort. It had been one of the first forts in the area. It had been first called New Bent's Fort, after William Bent, father of George Bent, renamed Fort Wise when the government purchased it and finally named Fort Lyon. An unusual provision of the treaty was a passage that read:
"P.S. And it is further understood, before signing the above treaty, that it was the particular request and wish of the Chiefs and Councillors" that Robert Bent, a "half-breed" and Jack Smith, son of John S. Smith, who was also a "half-breed of said nation", should both individually receive 640 acres lying seven miles above "Bent's Old Fort." (Kappler, 1972, p. 811)
The status of the treaty from the beginning was in debate. While the United States agreed to protect the Indians on the reservation, to pay $15,000 to each of the two tribes, and to furnish farming equipment and stock, the area was without game and arid. Only the peace chiefs of the Southern Cheyennes and Arapahos would sign the treaty. The more militant "Dog Soldiers" had refused to sign it, as well as the "Platte bands" of the Cheyennes. Among those signing the treaty on February 18, 1861 was Little Raven and Big Mouth of the Arapahos and Black Kettle, White Antelope, Lean Bear and Left Hand of the Arapahos. (pp. 7, 14-5)
Denver, at the base of the gold region, was primarily inhabited by young, inexperienced men. "I never saw a country settled with such greenhorns as Colorado..," wrote the wife of H.A.W. Tabor, who discovered the largest gold mine in Colorado, the white inhabitants were predominantly young. "They were mostly from farms and some clerks. They were all young men from 18 to 30." According to the 1860 census, the median age of the population was 33 years , numbering 33,000 men and 1.600 women, (Svaldi, 1989, p. 101) The town was a mixture of American adventurers. According to Richardson, "there were Americans from every quarter of the Union, Mexicans, Indians, half-breeds, trappers, speculators, gamblers, desperados, broken-down politicians and honest men. Almost every day was enlivened by its little shooting match." (p.109) Uncle Dick Wooten, a trapper and Indian scout, termed the population "utterly lawless" and that murders were almost an everyday occurrence. Horace Greely said of Denver that "...I apprehend that there have been, during my two weeks sojourn, more brawls, more fights, more pistol shots with criminal intent in this log-city of one hundred and fifty dwellings...than in any community of no greater number on earth." (p. 110)
Records show that sometimes the men got together to hold mock legislative sessions in the evenings. For example, a resolution was proposed to authorize negotiations with the governor of Massachusetts for the delivery of "a thousand schoolma'ams for the purpose of teaching the population of the territory." The measure was immediately amended to strike the word "teaching" and to insert "marrying," after which it passed unanimously. (p. 102)
The miners in the beginning appeared to get along with the Indian population, but were also weary of them. A letter printed in the Omaha Times noted that "we saw a great many Indians both Cheyennes and Sioux, but experienced no difficulty with them." Others said they did not fear the Indians much. Some were impressed with their hospitality. But others perceived danger, one resident writing in a private letter that "they have not troubled us much this winter, but we are entirely at their mercy." One newsman wrote with an attitude of contempt toward the Arapahos that "they will strut out or drink out their miserable existence and, at length afford the world a sensible relief by dying out of it." (p. 102-108)
In March of 1858 William N. Byers headed up the Platte River for Denver, leading an outfit of two oxen-pulled wagons - one loaded with a printing press. He had been a deputy U.S. surveyor and a member of a land agents firms called Poppleton and Byers. He had edited a western guidebook used by many to help them find their way to the Rockies, where thousands were flocking to find gold. In 1858, following his own guidebook, he traveled to Denver and helped found the Rocky Mountain News. (p. 132-3)
In May of 1962, John Evans arrived in Denver. His stated goals in life were to "build a city, found a college, become governor of one of the states of the Union, go to the U.S. Senate, amass a fortune and make himself famous." He had done most of this. He had become a physician and established a successful medical practice in Attica, Indiana, had been instrumental in founding the State Hospital for the insane in Indiana, became the first editor of the Northwestern Medical and Surgical Journal, moved his family to Chicago and had amassed his fortune through investments in real estate and the newly emerging railroad industry. He helped establish Northwestern University near Chicago, in a town that would be eventually named Evanston. On moving to Denver, he became Governor of Colorado Territory and Superintendent of Indians Affairs of that Territory. (p. 220-1) Evans found himself in a conflicting position. The white Colorado population regarded Indians as obstructing the process of civilization and the acquisition of land and mineral wealth. The Indians, on the other hand, believed the whites to be interlopers on constitutionally promised Indian land. Unable to serve both white and Indian constituents, Evans abandoned his role as Superintendent of Indians Affairs. (p. 222) Byers became a close friend of Evans. In fact, Evans reportedly was Byers silent partner in the News. Both wanted statehood for the territory. (p. 133)
Minor conflicts began to occur after the treaty. Some settlers' homes were looted by Indians. Cattle were stolen. A stage was attacked. Shortly thereafter, an Indian, drunk and headed for Fort Larned for whisky, tried to ride over the guard and was shot and killed. Tensions began to mount. Colonel J. M. Chivington, commanding the District of Colorado, became involved in a dispute over the provisions of troops. He defended his position to his superiors and won that position by noting that "Colorado, in my judgement, is not of second importance to any State or Territory to the General Government. If protected and kept quiet she will yield twenty millions of gold this year, and double yearly in years to come, and in view of the national debt, I think this important, very!" (Hoig, 1961, pp. 25-9) Incidentally, this same theme was underscored by President U.S. Grant several years later. In his first inaugural address on March 4, 1869, he said that because of the Civil War:
" A great debt has been contracted in securing to us and our posterity the Union. The payment of this, principal and interest, as well as the return to a specie basis as soon as it can be accomplished without material detriment to the debtor class or to the country at large, must be provided for. To protect the national honor, every dollar of Government indebtedness should be paid in gold. And where was this gold to come from?
" Why, it looks as though Providence had bestowed upon us a strong box in the precious metals locked up in the sterile mountains of the far West, and which we are now forging the key to unlock, to meet the very contingency that is now upon us. Ultimately it may be necessary to insure the facilities to reach these riches, and it maybe necessary also that the General Government should give its aid to secure this access. " (Commanger, 1948, p. 57, vol. 2)
Governor Evans became deeply concerned that the Fort Wise treaty was not uniformly valid for all the Cheyennes and Arapahos because of the lack of signatures. He wrote to Commissioner W.P. Dole on March 19, 1963, about the problem, pointing out that the treaty had to be extended to all Cheyennes and Arapahos without the formal acceptance of the nonsignatory Indians. He noted that:
" If this is not done the mining territory and in fact all the settled portion of Colorado are subject to Indian title and by our Organic Act not under the Territorial Government at all. Our laws are null and we are in anarchy. " (Svaldi, 1989, p. 224)
According to Black's law dictionary (1990) an organic act is an act of Congress conferring powers of government on a territory. All acts beyond the scope of those powers granted are void. As Svaldi posits, Evans was aware of the Indians' legal land rights under the existing conditions. Dole, on the other hand, denied Evans' request as moving too quickly toward a policy of "concentration." He accepted a ruling by S.E. Browne, U.S. Attorney in Colorado, that "the area north of the South Platte the site of the mines and the territorial capital at Golden City was off limits to settlers." The decision incited the miners and settlers. Evens, with the entire support of the territory behind him, warned Dole that his ruling had created the imminent danger of an Indian war. Dole reversed himself, writing Evans two months later that "the treaty of 1861 ceded by its express terms all lands not owned, possessed or claimed by the Cheyennes and Arapahos, wherever situated." He also found that "the treaty was in reality meant for all, and you must go ahead with a council and get the rest to agree to the Treaty of 1861." However, Evans had tried to get a council together for that vary purpose and had failed. Knowing this, Dole added that he extended to Evans the authority to "adopt such a policy as may be found expedient" to achieve the desired council. Evans sent out Indian agents to arrange a meeting with the Dog Soldiers and the Platte River Bands, but failed to achieve one. In an effort to help strengthen relations, a delegation of chiefs from the Cheyenne, Comanche, Arapaho, Kiowa and Caddo tribes visited Washington, D.C., where they met President Lincoln in March of 1863. But resistance to signing the treaty only stiffened. (Svaldi, 1989, p. 224-6)
All attempts to get additional Indian signatures for the treaty failed. By the fall, several Indian chiefs who had originally consented to the treaty denied that they had ever signed it. In a meeting with an Indian agent they insisting that those who did sign did not understand it. They further denied that they had sold the country at the headwaters of the Republican and Smoky Hill rivers, stating they would not give the region up. They also said that the whites could not settle along the railroads. (Hoig, 1961, p. 32-3) And then a letter appeared. It was written by Robert North, a white man who had been living among the Arapahos with an Arapaho wife. North, who could not read or write, apparently had dictated a letter which had been brought to Evans. A copy of the letter was forwarded to both Dole and Secretary of War William Stanton. In read in part that "The Comanches, Apaches, Kiowas, the northern band of Arapahos and all of the Cheyennes with the Sioux, have pledged one another to go to war with the whites as soon as they can procure ammunition in the spring." (Svaldi, 1989, p. 227) Evans began writing repeatedly to various heads of the military, claiming that an Indian conspiracy was at hand, that his spies had confirmed this, and that hostilities would break out in the Spring. His pleas were ignored. (pp. 227-35). The Civil War was in progress and the first priority was mobilization for troops for that purpose. The year came to a close without any signs of an impending Indian war.
The following year of 1864 was an election year. Evans was running for a seat in the Senate and Chivington was running for a seat in the House of Representative. Statehood was a major issue. Spring arrived, but there was still no Indian war. However, in April of 1864, a rancher reported that Indians were stealing horses near Fremont's Orchard on the South Platte north of Denver. Troops were sent out to that locality, with the rancher accompanying them. On seeing a group of Indians driving a herd of horses, the rancher identified them as being his. The commanding officer talked with the Indians, then demanded the horses, attempting to disarm the Indians. A fight broke out. Four soldiers were wounded, two dying from the wounds. The commanding officer claimed that eight or ten Indians had been killed. According to Hoig, it was this incident that started the Indian war of 1864, which, as Cheyenne chief Black Kettle would later point out, began over stolen ponies. Additional troops were sent out to intercept the Indians, with Chivington instructing them to "Be sure you have the right ones, and then kill them."
In April soldiers pursued Indians along the Republican River, finding recently abandoned lodges, which they destroyed. In May an Indian was taken prisoner. An officer wrote Chivington, relating that "Yesterday we took an Indian prisoner, whom I at first ordered shot," but spared him on the condition that he lead them to a Cheyenne camp. They found a village of Cheyenne, forced them into a canyon and killed about 25 and wounding another 40. Another detachment, under Lieutenant George S. Eayre, found a large Indian camp at the headwaters of the Republican River west of Denver. They found the village deserted, containing a large supply of dried beef and buffalo meat, buffalo robes, cooking utensils, powder, lead, and beads, all of which he burned. The next day he came across another village, again abandoned, littered with Indian goods. Eayre also torched this village. (p. 36-51)
In early May a group of Cheyenne Indians, including Lean Bear, one of the chiefs who had visited Washington, D.C. the year before, encountered mounted soldiers coming toward them. It was the detachment under Eayre. The site, according to Hoig, most likely was close to the Smoky Hill River in Kansas. (p. 52) Lean Bear was at times shy and at times quite bold, at times proud and at times awed by the wealth of the United States. The first historical record of him occurs near the time of the signing of the Fort Laramie treaty in 1851. Colonel E.V. Sumner had arrived at Fort Atkinson with a military command headed to New Mexico. He camped near a large Cheyenne village, trading items for horses and mules from the tribe. Among the command were some of the officer's wives. Lean Bear, a young warrior from the Cheyenne camp, was attracted to a glittering ring worn by an officer's wife. He held her hand to look at it more closely. She screamed. Her husband rushed up and flogged Lean Bear repeatedly with his carriage whip. Lean Bear, greatly insulted, painted his face black and white, mounted his war-horse, and urged his fellow warriors to attack the command if reparation were not made. Eventually he was presented a blanket, putting an end to the conflict. (Hoig, 1980, pp. 68-9)
Lean Bear was one of the signers of the Fort Wise treaty. He was a member of the party that was brought to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Lincoln. The purpose of that meeting was to help establish better relations with the Plains tribes. One of the fears was that they would join the Confederates against the North. The delegation met in the East Room of the Executive Mansion, with all the Indians sitting on the floor. Lincoln said that he would be glad to hear what they had to say. Lean Bear said that he had much to say, but because he was so nervous he wanted a chair to sit on. He was provided a chair. According to a newspaper report, Lean Bear said that he saw the President lived in splendor, with a far better and finer wigwam than he had at home, yet he too was like the President, a great chief at home. He said he wanted to live in peace and asked the President to tell his children to abstain from acts of violence against them. He said he deplored the war now being waged on the Plains and its end would be hailed with joy by them. Lincoln answered that the Government wanted peace, also. "We make treaties with you, and will try to observe them, and if our children should sometimes behave badly, and violate these treaties, it is against our wish," Lincoln pointed out. "You know it is not always possible for any father to have his children to precisely as he wishes them to do."
After leaving Washington, they were invited by P.T. Barnum to appear on stage in New York at his museum, which they did. Walking down Broadway, the chiefs "excited great attention" according to the New York Times. They also visited a public school. Eventually they returned home. It was this Lean Bear, who, on seeing the mounted troops under Eayer's command, told his companions to stay behind. He would ride out to meet the soldiers. The following account of what next transpired was given by a member of that Indian band, Wolf Chief, as reported by historian George Bird Grinnell in The Fighting Cheyennes:
" When we saw the soldiers all formed in a line, we did not want to fight. Lean Bear, the chief, told us to stay behind him while he went forward to show his papers from Washington which would tell the soldiers we were friendly. The officer was in front of the line. Lean Bear had a medal on his breast given him at the time the Cheyennes visited Washington in 1862 . He rode out to meet the officer, some of the Indians riding behind him. When they were twenty or thirty feet from the officer, he called out an order and the soldiers all fired together. Lean Bear and Star were shot, and fell from their ponies. As they lay on the ground the soldiers rode forward and shot them again. (pp. 145-46)
The result was a battle ending in over 30 Indians killed (according to Eayre, but 3 Indians according to Indian reports later) and 4 soldiers. (p. 52) While Earye was still in the field against the Indians, Major Edward W. Wynkoop was put in charge of Fort Lyon (the former Fort Wise) to provide support for General Curtis against possible Confederate attack. Earye did not report back for several weeks. Chivington became worried about his safety, fearing that the troops may have been cut off by Indians. On May 29 he ordered Wynkoop to send out a scouting party to find Eayre. Later, in an affidavit, Wynkoop substantiated the story of the beginning of the battle as told by Wolf Chief, stating that an officer "was approached by Lean Bear, and accompanied by him into our column, leaving his warriors at some distance. A short time after Lean Bear reached our command he was killed, and fire opened upon his band..." (Hoig, 1961, p. 51)
On first arriving at the fort in early May, Wynkoop had found a number of Cheyennes camped nearby. In fact, an old photograph thought to be taken prior to 1864 shows a number of Indian tepees pitched here and there outside the fort. Wynkoop requested that Chivington clarify what policy should be adopted with regard to such Indians. In a dispatch dated May 31, Chivington stated his policy toward them: "The Cheyennes will have to be soundly whipped before they will be quiet. If any of them are caught in your vicinity kill them, as that is the only way." (Hoig, 1961, p. 114 [photo], p. 83)
While Eayre was still in Kansas, Evans wrote a frantic letter to commanding officer Major-General S.R. Curtis, headquartered at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Curtis was headquartered here both for possible action against Indian tribes and Confederate troops. Evans stated that he was sure that Indians were by now "in strong force on the plains," that they would "wipe out our sparse settlements," and that several "skirmishes" and in particular a "severe chastisement" had only "whetted their appetite for revenge." He noted that the military strikes had by no means subdued the Indians, ending with the plea "in the name of humanity" for more troops "at the time of our greatest need of their services since the settlement of the country..." (pp. 56-7)
According to Hoig (1961) the killing of Lean Bear exploded the wrath of the Dog Soldiers, making Evan's predictions come true. (p. 74) Shortly after the killing, a ranch was attacked near Fort Larned, with stock being driven off. Then another ranch was hit, with a rancher being run off, his life spared because he was married to an Arapaho woman. The Indians took his wife, telling him that while they would not kill him they were going to kill all the whites they could find because their chief had just been killed by troops from Colorado on the Smoky Hill. (p. 76) Several weeks later in June a party of Indians (at first believed to be Cheyennes, but later thought to have been Arapahos) traveling on the North Platte killed a white family of four about twenty miles from Denver. It became known as the Hugate massacre. The mutilated bodies were put on public display in downtown Denver. Extensive stories were written about the incident in the Rocky Mountain News, attributing the killings as being the responsibility of the Cheyenne. One of the stories read "A HORRIBLE SIGHT! The bodies of those four people that were massacred by the Cheyennes....were brought to town this morning... The deepest feeling pervaded the people of town today as they returned from viewing the mangled bodies of this cruelly murdered family." (Svaldi, 1989, p. 163) Evans immediately wrote to Curtis, informing him that as he had foretold, a general uprising was now in process, again requesting military aid. However, an exchange of letters ended with Curtis demanding that Evans provide him with facts beyond the four who had been killed that would substantiate a so-called general uprising and Indian alliance, noting that facts were observed events, not predictions or opinions. At this point, Evans decided to go it alone, endeavoring to raise a large militia to combat the Indian "alliance." (Svaldi, 1989, p. 235)
In the meantime, William Bent, a trader and long acquaintance of the Cheyennes, had met Lieutenant Eayre near Fort Lyon, who told him about the fight between the Cheyennes and Eayre's troops. Bent continued on his way to Fort Lyon, but was intercepted by messengers from Black Kettle, who wanted to meet with him to find out what fight was for. Lean Bear had been a member of Black Kettle's band. Bent met with Black Kettle and his band, who informed him that they wanted peace. When Bent reached Fort Lyon he told this to Chivington. However, Chivington said that we was not authorized to make peace with the Indians and that he himself was then "on the warpath."(Hoig, 1961, pp. 78-9) On June 27 Evans issued a proclamation to the "friendly Indians of the Plains" and printed in the Rocky Mountain News:
" Agents, interpreters, and traders will inform the friendly Indians of the plans that some members of their tribes have gone to war with the white people. They steal stock and run it off, hoping to escape detection and punishment. In some instances they have attacked and killed soldiers and murdered peaceable citizens. For this the Great Father is angry, and will certainly hunt them out and punish them, but he does not want to injure those who remain friendly to the whites. He desires to protect and take care of them. For this purpose I direct that all friendly Indians keep away from those who are at war, and go to places of safety."
The proclamation directed such friendly Indians to go to Fort Lyon, Fort Larned and Fort Laramie. The proclamation continued:
"The object of this is to prevent friendly Indians from being killed through mistake. None but those who intend to be friendly with the whites must come to those places. The families of those who have gone to war with the whites must be kept from among the friendly Indians. The war on hostile Indians will be continued untilthey are all effectually subdued. " (Hoig, 1961, p. 62-3)
The agent at Fort Lyon, Samuel G. Cooley, on receiving the proclamation, contacted Bent and asked his assistance in getting the Indians to come into Fort Lyon and Fort Larned. He rode out to the tribes, finding the Cheyennes, Arapahos, Kiowas, Comanches and some Apaches all in the vicinity of Fort Larned. He explained the proclamation to the Cheyenne chiefs and they agreed to accompany him to Larned, where they talked briefly with the fort's commanding officer Captain J.W. Parmetar, both sides expressing satisfaction with the intent of the proclamation.
A dance was held one night in late July between the soldiers at Fort Larned and a group of Kiowa women. While the dance was in progress, a band of Kiowas drove off a number of the post's horse herd. Shortly after this incident, Arapaho Chief Left Hand (a signer of the Fort Wise treaty) and 25 warriors came to the fort under a white flag. Left Hand's purpose in going to Larned was to offer his services to round up the herd. Outside the fort, he was met by a soldier, who sent him into the fort. Once inside, he was fired upon by a howitzer. He fled, managing to escape. He later mentioned to agent Cooley that he personally was not that angry about the incident, but that "my boys were mad, and I could not control them." He had also mentioned to Cooley, "But as for me, I will not fight the whites, and you cannot make me do it. You may imprison me or kill me, but I will not fight the whites." Following the attempted shooting of Left Hand, the Arapaho tribe joined with the Cheyenne Dog Soldiers and the Kiowas in making raids on the whites. (Hoig, 1961, pp. 80-1) A number of settlers were killed from the Platte to the Arkansas.
On August 10, Byres, the editor of the Rocky Mountain News, wrote that the only way to deal with the Indians was to exterminate them. "Eastern humanitarians who believe in the superiority of the Indian race will raise a terrible howl over this policy, but it is no time to split hairs nor stand upon delicate compunctions of conscience. Self preservation demands decisive action, and the only way to secure it is to fight them in their own way. A few months of active extermination against the red devils will bring quiet and nothing else will." (Svaldi, 1989, p. 171)
The next day, Evans issued a proclamation in the Rocky Mountain News, that read, in part: "Having sent messengers to the Indians of the Plains, directing the friendly to rendezvous at Fort Lyon, Fort Learned, Fort Laramie, and Camp Collins for safety and protection, warning them that all hostile Indians would be pursued and destroyed, and the last of said messengers having now returned, and the evidence obeying conclusive that most of the Indian tribes of the plains are at war and hostile to the whites, and having to the utmost of my ability endeavored to induce all of the Indians of the plains to come to said places of rendezvous, promising them subsistence and protection, with a few exceptions they have refused to do: Now, therefore, I, John Evans, governor of Colorado Territory, do issue this my proclamation, authorizing all citizens of Colorado, either individually or in such parties as they may organize, to go in pursuit of all hostile Indians on the plains, scrupulously avoiding those who have responded to my said call to rendezvous at the points indicated; also to kill and destroy, as enemies of the country, wherever they may be found, all such hostile Indians." (p. 237) The proclamation promised that captured Indian property would be given as booty. An added notification a few days later promised to pay all personal expenses. Left undefined was what do with prisoners, whether Indian women and children were exempt from the proclamation, and what to do with Indians who were in the process of proceeding to the safe places. (p. 239)
Several weeks later, Confederate rebels began conducting raids in the vicinity of Denver. Five were captured and tried by a military commission appointed by Chivington. He asked military officials at Leavenworth for the authority to shoot them, if convicted, but his request was denied. On their way to trial all five, still in chains, were shot "while attempting to escape." United States Attorney Browne wrote to General Curtis of the matter, saying that "When the news was first brought to Chivington of the death of these persons, and of the manner of their death, he sneeringly remarked to the bystanders: I told the guard when they left that if they did not kill those fellows, I would lay thunder with them.' There is no doubt in the minds of our people that a most foul murder has been committed, and that, too, by the express order of old Chivington." (Hoig, 1961, pp. 64-73)
As efforts to get the militia together for the Indian war were in progress, a group of Cheyenne Indians came to Denver. They had traveled 400 miles, under the leadership of Major Wynkoop. They had come to make peace. How they had managed to come to Denver rested on a series of unusual events, the first of which was the disobedience of two officers who had been commanded to fire on all Indians they saw. Here is the story, as told by Wynkoop in his unfinished manuscript, recently published under the title The Tall Chief: The Autobiography of Edward W. Wynkoop. His comments additionally provide insight into the attitudes prevalent on the frontier toward the Indian during the 1860s.
Wynkoop was tall, from a well-to-do Pennsylvania family, with an adventurous spirit. He had decided to go west in 1856. He became Sheriff of Arapaho County, Kansas Territory, later joining a good rush group, helping found the settlement of Denver City. He is credited with having suggested the name of the town after Governor Denver of Kansas Territory. When the Colorado First Regiment was formed he was made a Captain. In 1864 he was 25-years-old and had been made a Major. (p. 83) In his manuscript, he said that on the frontier it was commonly believed that one of the best ways to solve the Indian problem was by extermination, quoting Sherman as an example: "We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Indians even to their extermination...men, women, and children. Nothing less will reach the root of this case." (Wynkoop, 1994, p. 85) He called this faction the "exterminators," to which he said he once belonged by sentiment. "Hearing at times of outrages committed by the Red Man I naturally at one time belonged to the exterminators. My youthful experience had not taught me the why and wherefore of these outrages," he wrote. " He said that he thought that the Indian was "degraded, treacherous and cruel, that he must make way for civilization or be trampled on, that he had no rights that we were bound to respect, in fact that he had nothing but the instincts of a wild beast, and should be treated accordingly." (p. 86) He said, however, that an experience changed this perception. He said that in the Fall of 1864, during the Indian war, he was in command at Fort Lyon, Colorado. He said that he was surrounded by five hostile tribes and that he had issued orders to kill any Indian on sight. He noted that a sergeant brought in two Indian captives and that he reprimanded the sergeant for taking prisoners, reminding him of the existing orders. "In his defense he stated that while in the act of firing he observed one of the Indians hold up a paper and make signs of peace; that in consequence he held his fire and thought he had better bring them to me instead of putting them to death." (p. 86) He said that the letter stated that the Indians wanted to make peace, that they never desired war, that they had been driven to it by the whites, that they had made numerous efforts to communicate with the fort, but had always been fired on and driven off and that they had some captives that they wanted to give up. According to the Christopher G. Gerboth, editor of the Wynkoop manuscript, there were actually two letters. One of the letters was dictated by Black Kettle. It read:
Cheyenne Village, August 29, 1864 - We received a letter from Bent, wishing us to make peace. We held a council in regard to it; all came to the conclusion to make peace with you, providing you make peace with the Kiowas, Comanches, Arapahos, Apaches, and Sioux. We are going to send a messenger to the Kiowas and to the other nations about our going to make peace with you. We heard that you have some prisoners at Denver; we have some prisoners of yours which we are willing to give up, providing you give up yours. There are three war parties out yet, and two of Arapahos; they have been out some time and expected in soon. When we held this council there were a few Arapahos and Sioux present. We want true news from you in return. (This is a letter.) BLACK KETTLE and other Chiefs. (Report of the Secretary of War, 1867, p. 169)
One of the Indians was named One-eye and the other Mah-nim-ic. After reading the letter Wynkoop said asked One-eye if he realized that an Indian coming within range of this post was certain to be killed. He said that One-eye said that he knew this, but above all he wanted peace. Wynkoop said that One-eye told the following story as given through an interpreter. It relates why One-eye and his companion arrived at the fort, as well as the effect of the white and Indian conflict from the perspective of the Indians. (Wynkoop's punctuation has been preserved).
"There was a time when the young men of my nation could leave their Lodges containing wives and children, and go off to hunt the Buffalo and the Antelope, when returning from the chase would find their families safe, happy, and contented; that time has passed, our white Brothers have made war upon us, have struck us, and we have struck them in return; they are many and we are few, they have arms and ammunition and cannon, while we have but Bows, Arrows and Spears. When we fight we have also to provide food for our women and children and protect them from the whites, if we leave our tepees to hunt the Buffalo to procure food for our families we return to find the places where our Lodges stood, desolate, our Camp has been alarmed our families fled; at all hours of the day or night, in bitter cold weather, and in the storm, our women and children are scattered over the Prairie, fearing the approach of your troops; they fall down and die, there is wailing and mourning throughout our whole nation. We have tried to make peace, thinking that our white brothers would take pity on us, and that our Great Father when he knew that his Red Children were suffering and that they did not desire or wish to be at war with their white brothers would stretch forth his hand and say to his Soldiers - Stop; but whenever we have tried to let the white man know that we wanted peace, our young men have been fired upon and sometimes killed -I am young no longer, I have been a Warrior, I have not been afraid to die when I was young, why should I be when I am old, therefore the Great Spirit whispered to me and said: 'You must try and save your people' and I said to the Council of our head chiefs; give me true news, such as is written to carry to the Chief at the Fort and I am here."
Wynkoop asked again if he had not feared that he would be killed in trying to get into the Fort, to which One-eye replied, "I thought I would be killed, but I knew that paper would be found upon my dead body, that you would see it, and it might give peace to my people once more." One-eye said Mih-nim-ic felt the same way and had accompanied him, ready to die. (p. 88)
Wynkoop said he was bewildered with this display of patriotism on the part of "two savages." "I...felt myself in the presence of superior beings; and these were the representatives of a race that I had heretofore looked upon without exception as being cruel treacherous, and blood-thirsty, without feeling or affection for friend or kindred." (p. 88) Being assured by One-eye that the captives would be returned, Wynkoop took the two Indians and a small detachment of cavalry to a council meeting, eventually finding himself among 4,000 Indian warriors. He mentioned that his men thought they were doomed, being significantly outnumber. Wynkoop proposed that if the Indians gave up the captives, he would take various chiefs to the appropriate government officials to see if a peace could be arranged. His proposal was greeted with fiery looks of dissatisfaction. However, Wynkoop related, There was one exception to these ferocious looking faces; it was the countenance of one, whom I know to be the most powerful among all the nomadic tribes; one whom I could now see, since my prejudice had fled, had been created a ruler; one who had stamped upon every liniment, the fact that he was born to command; he while all the balance of the Council were like snarling wolves, sat calm dignified, immovable, with a slight smile upon his lips, and a brightness upon his face. He saw my bewilderment, I might say my trepidation, and as his eye caught mine, he gave me a look of encouragement, which assured me more that if I had the knowledge of a thousand bayonets within call; this was Make-ta-vatah, head Chief of the Cheyennes' and Arapahos'; better known among the whites as Black Kettle.
Wynkoop said that a "gigantic chief" sprang to his feet, told him to stand, surveyed him, turned to the other chiefs and pointing at him saying: "This white soldier Chief, says, give me the White Prisoners, and I will give you nothing in return.' Does he think we are fools that he comes to laugh at us?" Wynkoop related that One-eye shouted before the assembly that he would protect him with his life. During these outbursts, he noted that Black Kettle had remained still, then waved his hand for silence. Wynkoop said Black Kettle arose, wrapped his blanket around him, took Wynkoop by the hand, embraced him twice and led him to the center of the council ring, addressing the assembly as follows:
"This white man is not here to laugh at us, nor does he regard us as children, but on the contrary unlike the balance of his race, he comes with confidence in the pledges given by the Red man. He has been told by one of our bravest warriors, that he should come and go unharmed, he did not close his ears, but with his eyes shut followed on the trail of him whom we had sent as our messenger. It was like coming through the fire, for a white man to follow and believe in the words of one of our race, whom they have always branded as unworthy of confidence or belief. He has not come with a forked tongue or with two hearts, but his words are straight and his heart single. Had he told us that he would give us peace, on the condition of our delivering to him the white prisoners, he would have told us a lie. For I know that he cannot give us peace, there is a greater Chief in the far off Camp of the White Soldiers; who must talk to one even still mightier, to our Great Father in Washington, who must tell his Soldiers to bury the hatchet, before we can again roam over the Prairies in safety and hunt the Buffalo. Had this white soldier come to us with crooked words, I myself would have despised him; and would have asked whether he thought we were fools, that he could sing sweet words into our ears, and laugh at us when we believed them. But he has come with words of truth; and confidence, in the pledges of his red brothers, and whatever be the result of these deliberations; he shall return unharmed to his lodge from whence he came. It is I Make-ta-va-tah that says it."
He said that Black Kettle asked that he and his troops camp some distance away over night, and that he would let him know what the council's decision would be in the morning. Wynkoop said they camped 12 miles away. The next day, one captive was returned, and the following day, the remainder. The feelings I then experienced I would be powerless to fully describe. Here was the realization of my most sanguine hopes; the balance of the poor captives of my race within reach and soon to be under our protection. Such happiness I never experienced before, never since, and do not expect to in this world. Wellington surveying the victorious field that changed the destinies of a world had no greater feeling of triumph, than I the humble instrument of a Divine Providence experienced in accomplishing the object of my mission. (p. 95)
Hoig (1961) recounted a similar story, mentioning that Wynkoop lead a force of 127 mounted troops out of Fort Lyon, accompanied by interpreter John Smith and the Cheyenne Indians who had brought the letter from Black Kettle. Many of the soldiers were deeply concerned about the wisdom of proceeding into Indian country with such a small number. On the fourth day out, Wynkoop sent Min-im-mie ahead to notify his people of the council. On the fifth day they met five to eight hundred warriors drawn up in line, ready to charge his troops. Wynkoop formed his small contingent into a cavalry line of battle and continued to advance. Many felt they were doomed, realizing they were outnumbered at least five to one. Wynkoop sent One-eye forward with the same message he had given Min-im-mie. He returned shortly, saying that Black Kettle had agreed to meet Wynkoop in council. Wynkoop and his men believed that Black Kettle saved their lives. At the meeting, a chief opened the council by asking Wynkoop why he had come with soldiers and a cannon if he wanted peace. Wynkoop replied that he while he came in peace, he had also come to protect himself. He produced the letter, asked them if they had authorized it, they said yes, and the meeting as described was conducted. (pp. 100-2)
Other officials were not as pleased as Wynkoop. On September 26, Chivington in Denver wired Curtis at Leavenworth. "I have been informed by E.W. Wynkoop, commanding Fort Lyon, that he is on his way here with Cheyenne and Arapaho chiefs and four white prisoners they gave up. Winter approaches. The Third Regiment is full, and they know they will be chastised for their outrages and now want peace. I hope that the major-general will direct that they make full restitution and then go on their reserve and stay there." (Hoig, 1961, p. 112)
Two days later, Curtis answered. "I shall require the bad Indians delivered up; restoration of equal numbers of stock; all hostages to secure. I want no peace till the Indians suffer more. Left Hand is said to be a good chief of the Arapahos, but Big Mouth is a rascal. I fear agent of interior Department will be ready to make presents too soon. It is better to chastise before giving anything but a little tobacco to talk over. No peace must be made without my directions." (p. 112)
Wynkoop had brought the white captives and a group of Cheyennes and Arapahos to Denver for the purpose of securing peace. Several miles outside Denver at Booneville, Wynkoop left the caravan behind and rode ahead to talk personally with Evans about the peace offer. They met at Wynkoop's hotel in the morning. Evans was extremely displeased. (Hoig, 1961, p. 111) He told Wynkoop that he regretted that the Indians had been brought to Denver and that he wanted to have nothing to do with them. He said that as far as he was concerned the Indians were at war with the United States and belonged in the hands of the military authorities. Wynkoop reasoned that as a United States officer he had pledged to convey the Indians to Denver to meet with Evans and had traveled 400 miles with them for that purpose. Wynkoop said that Evans responded that the third regiment had been raised and were almost ready to make an Indian campaign and that these men had been procured on his representation to Washington that they were necessary for the protection of the Territory. If he made peace with the Indians, Evans reportedly said, it would be supposed he had misrepresented matters and had put the government to needless expense. Wynkoop said that several times in the conversation Evans said, "What shall I do with the third regiment, if I make peace?," stating that they had been raised to kill Indians, and that they must kill Indians. (Svaldi, 1989, p. 252-3)
However, Wynkoop managed to get a meeting between several chiefs of the Cheyennes and Evans, who was accompanied by a number of military officers, including Chivington. At the meeting, held at Camp Weld in Denver on September 28, 1864, the various chiefs stated their positions and their concerns, several relating how coming to Denver for them was metaphorically like walking through a fire. Black Kettle made a strong plea for peace. Speaking through interpreter John Smith, he said: "I followed Major Wynkoop to Fort Lyon, and Major Wynkoop proposed that we come up to see you. We have come with our eyes shut, following this handful of men, like coming through the fire. All we ask is that we may have peace with the whites... We want to take good tidings home to our people, that they may sleep in peace. I want you to give all the chiefs of the soldiers here to understand that we are for peace, and that we have made peace, that we may not be mistaken for enemies." (Hoig, 1980, p. 110)
White Antelope also told of their desire to make peace and his fear of being killed by the military. "When we sent our letter to Major Wynkoop, it was like going through a strong fire, or blast, for Major Wynkoop's men to come to our camp; it was the same for us to come to see you... When Major Wynkoop came, we proposed to make peace. He said he had no power to make peace, except to bring us her and return us safely... Ever since I went to Washington and received this medal, I have called all white men as my brothers, but...now the soldiers do not shake hands, but seek to kill me." (Hoig, 1980, p. 64)
The Indians said they had brought four white prisoners as evidence of their good faith and that other Indians would abide by any agreement reached during the session. Evans said that he was sorry they had not responded to his proclamation at once and that "however much a few individuals may have tried to keep the peace, as a nation you have gone to war." (Svaldi, 1989, p. 254) Amos Stock later testified that one of the Indians said "in reply to what the governor had said about coming to the post under his proclamation, that as soon as it was read to them by a half-freed... they wrote a paper, which Bull Bear's brother carried to a commander of soldiers...that he got off his horse and tied him to one of the wagons of the command and was advancing unarmed, with the paper in his hand toward the military when he was shot down and killed." Stock further testified that "The governor made no inquiry about this killing, no allusion whatever." The council continued, with Evans refusing to make a treaty. "So far as making a treaty is now concerned," Evans stated, "we are in no condition to do it. Your young men are on the warpath. My soldiers are preparing for the fight. You, so far, have had the advantage, but the time is near at hand when the plains will swarm with United States soldiers." (p. 254-5)
White Antelope asked how his people could be protected from the soldiers on the plains. "You must make that arrangement with the military chief," Evans answered. In closing, Chivington said, "I am not a big war chief, but all the soldiers in this country are at my command. My rule of fighting white men or Indians is to fight them until they lay down their arms and submit to military authority. There are nearer Major Wynkoop than any one else and they can go to him when they are ready to do that." (p. 257)
Following the meeting, Wynkoop left for Fort Lyon, meeting again with the Cheyenne and Arapaho chiefs, telling them they could go out and bring in their villages to a place near the post where he could prevent any difficulties. Soon over 100 lodges (about 650 Indians) under Left Hand and Little Raven came into Lyon and camped two miles from the post. On November 5, Major Scott J. Anthony arrived at Fort Lyon from Kansas. Under orders from General Curtis he relieved Wynkoop as commander of the post. Wynkoop was ordered to report to District Headquarters at Fort Riley, Kansas. Anthony proceeded to direct the Indians to give up their arms and horses, which they did. They asked for food, but Anthony said he did not have the authority to issue rations, but would let them know his decision soon. He said they could remain on Sand Creek until he was notified about the rations. A few days later, Black Kettle and seventy Cheyenne men appeared at Fort Lyon, wanting to know what the situation was. Wynkoop had not left the post yet, and he and Anthony talked with them. Wynkoop assured the Indians that Anthony was a good person and would treat them well. Anthony suggested that the Indians remain on Sand Creek and await news. (p. 125)
Wynkoop wrote personally about the matter in his manuscript, noting that Anthony assured the Indians that they could remain by the post in "perfect safety until such time as positive orders should be received from Headquarters in regard to them." (Wynkoop, 1994, p. 101) On November16 Anthony wrote Curtis from Fort Lyon:
"I told them that I was not authorized as yet to say that any permanent peace could be established, but that no war would be waged against them until your pleasure was heard. I am satisfied that all of the Arapahos and Cheyennes who have visited this post desire peace... I have been trying to let the Indians...think that I have no desire for trouble with them, but that I could not agree upon a permanent peace until I was authorized by you, thus keeping matters quiet for the present, and until troops enough are sent out to enforce any demand we may choose to make." (Hoig, 1961, p. 126)
On the day that Wynkoop left Lyon, John Smith left the post for the Cheyenne village at Sand Creek with a load of trade goods. In addition to being a translator (he was the official translator of Evans) he was also a soldier, a teamster, and married to a Cheyenne woman. The couple had a son named Jack Smith. He was anxious to get to the camp, for both his wife and his son were there. Following the authorization to raise a mounted regiment of volunteers, men began to muster into the Third Regiment of the Colorado Volunteer Cavalry. On August 23 martial law was declared in Colorado. Business entrepreneurs began securing contracts for equipping the new outfit. As troops were formed, they were placed on duty along the Platte River stage route northeast of Denver. (pp. 129-30)
By mid November no significant Indian battles had been fought. It became apparent that most of the Indians were gone from the South Platte. Chivington headed south toward the Arkansas River. The most success they had had was on October 10, when they had discovered two lodges near the Platte, killing six men, three women and one boy. (p. 133) This was the first blood spilled by the regiment, but it was not enough to escape their new nickname, the "Bloodless Third." On November 24 the troops reached the Spring Bottom stage coach station on the Arkansas River. Chivington and his officers found a cabin were they could warm themselves against the extreme cold. According to testimony, that evening James Combs from Lyon entered the station's cabin. During the conversation, Combs commented that Wynkoop had been in charge at Lyon before Anthony. Chivington jokingly corrected him, saying, "Oh! You must be mistaken; I think Left Hand was in command before Major Anthony came here." Combs said that Chivington questioned him about the Indians near Fort Lyon, and that Chivington and his men made "promiscuous conversation" about "where they were going to arrange" scalps and that "scalps are what we are after." He then finished his meal and rose to leave, saying as he drew himself up in his chair, "Well, I long to be wading in gore." (Svaldi, 1989, p. 291-2) (Hoig, 1961, p. 137)
The regiment headed the next day for Fort Lyon. From Spring Bottom, Fort Lyon was in a direct line on a return to Denver and about midway. On the evening of November 27, the regiment met Lieutenant Silas S. Soule and a fellow officer on the trail ten miles from Fort Lyon. They were on a scouting mission, having thought Indians were near due to the presence of camp fires. It turned out that the campfires were from Chivington's troops. The arrival of these troops had been unexpected by those stationed at Fort Lyon. Soule was an Irishman, had distinguished himself in the Civil War, and while once in Philadelphia had become friends with some Eastern abolitionists, including poet Walt Whitman. Chivington asked if there were any Indians at Fort Lyon, to which Soule said there were a few Cheyennes and Arapahos camped at Sand Creek. He said they were not dangerous and were considered as prisoners of war. One of Chivington's officers said, "They won't be prisoners after we get there." (Svaldi, 1898, p. 292) (Hoig, 1961, p. 138-9)
At the fort, Soule told Anthony that he believed that Chivington was going to attack Black Kettle's band on Sand Creek. He said that he was opposed to it, but Anthony replied that "some of those Indians ought to be killed." Soule said that pledges had been made to the Indians and that he was opposed to going. Anthony said we would not compromise himself by gong out, warning Soule, however, to stay away from Chivington as Chivington had made threats concerning him after hearing of his opposition to his plan. Another office, Lieutenant Joseph A. Cramer, also objected, saying to several at the fort in command that the attack would be "murder" and that it would be placing them in "embarrassing circumstances to fight the same Indians that had saved our lives...," referring to Black Kettle's and One-eyes's efforts to keep other tribal members from attacking Wynkoop's small force that had gone out to meet with the Cheyenne. Chivington, who had once been a Methodist minister, according to Cramer's testimony replied that "he believed it to be right or honorable to use any means under God's heaven to kill Indians that would kill women and children, and damn any man that was in sympathy with Indians,' and such men as Major Wynkoop and myself had better get out of the United States service." (p. 143)
On November 29 the troops under the command of Chivington attacked Black Kettle's band along Sand Creek, killing, according to the estimates of Chivington, half a thousand Indians, among them One-eye and White Antelope. Also killed was interpreter John Smith's son Jack. Anthony later testified that he had head some of his men threatening to kill the half-breed after the battle, notified Chivington about the matter and asked what his instructions were. Chivington replied "I have given my instructions; have told my men not to take any prisoners." John Smith later testified that his son, after the battle, came in quietly and sat down, remaining in the lodge. The next day in the afternoon he said a soldier came outside the lodge and called his name. Smith testified that:
"I got up and went out; he took me by the arm and walked toward Colonel Chivington's camp, which was about sixty years from my camp. Said he, I am sorry to tell you, but they are going to kill your son Jack.' ...I heard a gun fired, and saw a crowd run to my lodge, and they told me that Jack was dead." (p. 156n)
During the battle, Soule had refused to order his men to fire. In a report to General Curtis following the attack, Chivington stated that "It may perhaps be unnecessary for me to state that I captured no prisoners, and added that "I cannot conclude this report without saying that the conduct of Capt. Silas S. Soule, Company D, First Cavalry of Colorado, was at least ill-advised, he saying that he thanked God he had killed no Indians, and like expressions, proving him more in sympathy with those Indians than with the whites." (Hoig, 1961, pp. 151, 161)
[Note inserted by JS Dill: Despite the fact that the "incident" at Sand Creek has been acknowledged as a "massacre," the U.S National Park service continues to declare that the "massacre" was a "Union Victory."]
The events leading up to the Sand Creek massacre are clarified from the Indian perspective by George Bent, as mentioned the son of William Bent, the founder of Bent's Fort and New Bent's Fort, the latter becoming Fort Wise and then Fort Lyon. Black Kettle and the other friendly chiefs had purchased the white captives from their owners, and they now gave these captives up and went in with Major Wynkoop to Fort Lyon. They wanted to surrender to him, so the major took Black Kettle, White Antelope, Bull Bear, One Eye, and Left Hand with him to Denver and there they talked with Governor John Evans of Colorado. Evans told the chiefs that they were in the hands of the military and that he could not make peace with them. He advised them to make peace with the military, but Colonel Chivington of the First Colorado Cavalry would not tell the chiefs whether they could have peace or not. They then returned with Wynkoop to Fort Lyon and he told them to bring their people in near the fort and they would be treated as prisoners. (Hyde, 1968, Life of George Bent: written from his letters. p. 143)
Bent related that on the way to Fort Lyon, Chivington forced his elder brother Robert to act as guide, threatening to have him shot if he refused to serve. He said that on the morning of November 28, to the surprise of everyone in the post, Chivington suddenly appeared before Fort Lyon and surrounded it with a line of sentries who had orders to permit no one to leave. He said Colonel Chivington then went into the fort and told Major Anthony that he intended to attack Black Kettle's camp on Sand Creek. Anthony objected initially on the ground of an insufficient number of men, but then after lengthy arguments, gave in. He said that evening troops numbering nearly 1,000 men left the fort guided by his brother, reaching the vicinity of the camp about dawn next day. Bent, himself, was at that camp.
"In our camp on Sand Creek there was about one hundred lodges of Cheyennes and ten lodges of Arapahos, under Chief Left Hand. These people were the most friendly ones in the two tribes and had camped here on Sand Creek with the understanding that they were under the protection of the garrison at Fort Lyon and that they were to remain quiet in this camp until word could be received from headquarters in Kansas as to whether peace was to be concluded or not... At dawn on the morning of November 29 I was still in bed with I heard shouts and the noise of people running about the camp. I jumped up and ran out of my lodge. From down the creek a large body of troops was advancing at a rapid trot... All was confusion and noise - men, women, and children rushing out of the lodges partly dressed; women and children screaming at sight of the troops... I looked toward the chief's lodge and saw that Black Kettle had a large American flag tied to the end of a long lodge pole and was standing in front of his lodge, holding the pole, with the flag fluttering in the grey light of the winter dawn. I heard him call to the people not to be afraid, that the soldiers would not hurt them; then the troops opened fire from two sides of the camps." (p. 151-2)
The devastation of the surprise winter attack was immense. Bent told what happened after the fighting stopped. Many had hidden themselves in sand pits along the creek. "After the troops withdrew to the Indian camp, we lay in our pits for some time, suspecting that the whites might come back; but they did not return, and at least we crawled out of the holes, stiff and sore, with the blood frozen on our wounded and half-naked bodies. Slowly and painfully we retreated up the creek, men, women, and children dragging themselves along, the women and children wailing and crying, but not too loudly, for they feared the return of the whites."
They slept on the open plain. Bent described that night : "That was the worst night I ever went through. There we were on that bleak, frozen plan, without any shelter whatever and not a stick of wood to build a fire with. Most of us were wounded and half-naked; even those who had had time to dress when the attack came, had lost their buffalo robes and blankets during the fight. The men and women who were not wounded worked all through the night, trying to keep the children and the wounded from freezing to death. They gathered grass by the handful, feeding little fires around which the wounded and the children lay; they stripped off their own blankets and clothes to keep us warm, and some of the wounded who could not be provided with other covering were buried under piles of grass which their friends gathered, a handful at a time, and heaped up on them... It was bitter cold, the wind had a full sweep over the ground on which we lay... All through the night the Indians kept hallooing to attract the attention of those who had escaped form the village to the open plain and were wandering about in the dark, lost and freezing. Many who had lost wives, husbands, children, or friends, went back down the creek and crept over the battleground among the naked and mutilated bodies of the dead. Few were found alive, for the soldiers had done their work thoroughly; but now and then during that endless night some man or woman would stagger in among us, carrying some wounded person on their back." (Hyde, 1968, pp. 156-7)
Word of the attack reached Washington, D.C. In a dispatch from the capitol dated December 20, 1864, the following item was carried in the Rocky Mountain News:
The affair at Fort Lyon, Colorado, in which Colonel Chivington destroyed a large Indian village, and all its inhabitants, is to be made the subject of Congressional investigation. Letters received from high officials in Colorado say that the Indians were killed after surrendering, and that a large proportion were women and children. (Hoig, 1961, p. 163)
Reportedly, while stationed at Fort Riley Wynkoop had gone wild with rage on hearing of the attack. He shortly received military orders to return to Fort Lyon, to assume command there, and to conduct an investigation of the incident. (Wynkoop, 1994, p. 100-1) (Hoig, 1961, p. 164) During the investigation, Soule testified that Major Anthony said that "he was in for killing all Indians, and that he was only acting or had been only acting friendly with them until he could get a force large enough to go out and kill all of them." (Report of the Secretary of the War, 1869, p. 13)
Further questioning revealed that the Indians, while attempting to surrender, were fired upon:
Question: Did any of the Indians advance towards Colonel Chivington's command, making signs that they were friends?
Answer: I saw them advance towards the line, some of them holding their hands up.
Question: Was any demand made upon the Indians prior to the attack, and any attention paid to their signs that they were friends?
Answer: Not to my knowledge. Question. Were the women and children shot while attempting to escape by Colonel Chivington's command? Answer. They were.
Question. Were the women and children followed while attempting to escape, shot down and scalped, and otherwise mutilated, by any of Colonel Chivington's command?
Answer: They were.
Question: Were any efforts made by the commanding officers, Colonels Chivington, Shoup, and Major Anthony, to prevent these mutilations?
Answer: Not that I know of. (p. 14)
Later, Lieutenant James D. Cannon testified that "I head one man say that he had cut a squaw's heart out, and he had it stuck up on a stick." (p. 113) During an earlier investigation by the House of Representatives, John Smith testified that "All manner of depredations were inflicted on their persons; they were scalped, their brains knocked out; the men used their knives, ripped open women, clubbed little children, knocked them in the head with their guns, beat their brains out, mutilated their bodies in every sense of the word." (Massacre of Cheyenne Indians, 1865, p. 42)
During the investigations, Soule mentioned to George Price, district inspector and Acting Assistant Adjunct General in Denver, that he expected to be killed for his part in the hearings and that an attempt would be made to blacken his character afterward to nullify his testimony before the commission. While the investigation was in process, Soule was married on April 1, 1865, in Denver. He had become the provost marshall of Denver and was in charge of responding to any disturbances. Two months after his marriage, he heard firing in the street. He ran up Lawrence Street toward the gunfire, his gun drawn. A man was waiting for him, his gun aimed at him. He shot Soule in the head and he was killed instantly. The man escaped. It was determined that it was a soldier named "Squires." He was later caught in New Mexico and returned to Denver for a court martial trial. However, the arresting officer was found dead shortly after the arrest and Squires escaped. Wynkoop wrote in his manuscript that he believed Chivington was behind both incidents.
Following Soule's funeral, the hearing resumed the next day. Chivington presented evidence in the form of a deposition taken before a notary public in which a freighter, who had once accompanied Soule on a scouting mission, claimed that Soule was a drunk, afraid of Indians, and had stolen baskets from him. (Hoig, 1961, pp. 170-3)
The Committee on the Conduct of the War concluded that Sand Creek was "the scene of murder and barbarity," termed Chivington's actions disgraced "the veriest savage," and that Evans testimony regarding the Indian war charactered by "prevarication." It called for the removal of all officials responsible for the Sand Creek attack. Governor Evans was forced to resign by President Johnson. None of proceedings ended in taking any action against Chivington, however Chivington later resigned. (Hoig, 1961, p. 173) (Svaldi, 1989, p. 187) (Wynkoop, 1994, p. 102)
Sand Creek sent horror through the Plains Indian tribes - and a deep sense of hopelessness coupled with rage. Bent recalls that after the Sand Creek attack, those who survived went to a Cheyenne camp at the head of the Smoky Hill River, eventually moving to the Solomon River and then Cherry Creek in the northwestern corner of Kansas. At Cherry Creek were the Dog Soldiers, Spotted Tail's Sioux, Pawnee Killer's Sioux and the Northern Arapahos. All had united together to make war against the whites. (Hyde, 1968, p. 168) One of the main stage routes was Julesburg on the Platte River. A combined force of 1,000 warriors ambushed the troops guarding the station house, killing 14 soldiers. At this point the Southern Cheyenne split. Eighty lodges under Black Kettle moved south of the Arkansas and joined the Southern Arapahos, Kiowas, and Comanches. Bent related that a number of the people went on foot, having no horses. He said they had few lodges and little clothing, "as their ponies, tepees, and most of their personal property had been taken or destroyed by the soldiers during the Sand Creek Massacre." (p. 244)
While government officials were calling for an investigation of Evans and Chivington, a scout named Medicine Calf Beckwourth was sent by the government to see if Black Kettle would agree to peace. Beckwourth, a mulatto who had lived with the Indians for half a century, had been one of the scouts who had accompanied Chevington's expedition against Black Kettle on Sand Creek and had helped the troops locate the village. Beckwourth eventually found the Cheyennes, but was told that Black Kettle and a few others had drifted away. The chief in charge was now Leg-in-the-Water. Beckwourth entered the chief's lodge. He found him laying down. The chief recognized him and raising up said, "Medicine Calf, what have you come here for; you fetched the white man to finish killing our families again?" He told them that he wanted to meet with his men in council. They met, Beckwourth telling them that he had come to persuade them to make peace with the whites, that there were as numerous as the leaves on the tree, and that there was not enough of them to fight the whites. "We know it," they said, "But what do we want to live for? The white man has taken our country, killed all of our game; was not satsified with that, but killed our wives and children. Now no peace. We want to go and meet our families in the spirit land. We loved the whites until we found out they lied to us, and robed us of what we had. We have raised the battle ax untl death." Beckwourth said they asked him why he had come to Sand Creek with the soldiers to show them the way. He said he told them that if he had not done so the officers would have hung him. "Go and stay with your white brothers," the chief said, "but we are going to fight till death." Beckwourth left and did not return. (Brown, 1970, pp. 85, 91-2)
The Cheyenne who Black Kettle had left behind, along with Sioux and Northern Arapahoes, struck soldiers, settlers and station keepers wherever they could find them: Valley Stage Station on the South Platte, Harlow's Ranch (west of Julesburg), Antelope Stage Station, Buffalo Springs Ranch, Sp ring Hill State Station, Morre's Ranch. They captured wagon trains loaded with goods, ran off cattle, destroyed telegraph lines, killed, burned and plundered. The result was a panic in Denver early in 1865, Bent noted, with supplies being cut off and telegraphic communicaton shut down, putting the town into isolation. He pointed out that the raids were a direct response to Chivington's attack at Sand Creek. (p. 180)
One day a party of raiding Cheyennes came across nine men who had been discharged from Chivington's command. They were returning home. The Cheyennes killed them all, finidng in their valises two scalps they identified as those of their relatives White Leaf and Little Wolf. After making the identification they cut the men to pieces in a rage. During the raids, Bent remembered looking out over the valley at night and seeing it "lighted up with the flames of burning ranches and stage stations." When they could not find their way back to camp, they listen for the sound of drums, which carried for miles, and headed toward that sound. (p. 180)
One of their last battles was against troops at Mud Springs. Following this, they headed north to the Black Hills, coming together with the Northern Cheyennes, who, Bent said, were unlike the southern Indians. He said his band "all wore cloth blankets, cloth leggings and other things made by the whites, but these northern Indians all wore bufallo robes and buckskin leggings; they had their braided hair wrapped in strips of buckskin painted red, and they had crow feathers on their heads with the ends of the feathers cut off in a peculiar manner. They looked much wilder than any of the southern Indians, and kept up all the old customs, not having come much in contact with the whites." (p. 196) They stayed there during the winter and then proceeded to the North Platte River, conducting a raid against troops at Platte Bridge. They then raided along the Powder River. Eventually, the Southern Cheyennes returned home, camping at such localities as the Platte, Bent's Fork and the Smoky Hill River. They raided several stations, but gave up when they found they had been newly constructed like dugouts, with the station hands able to fire without exposing themselves. They left the Smoky Hills, crossed the Arkansas, and arrived at a point near the Cimarron River, where they found Black Kettle with his band of Cheyennes, plus the Kiows, Comanchies, and Prairie Apaches all camped together. (p. 243) He said Black Kettle's band had been received by the Kiowas and others with "great friendliness and sympathy." To make up for their losses at Sand Creek, they had been given horses, bridles, and lodges. He said that Kiowa chief Black Eagle had given Black Kettle a lodge of buffalo skin, three beds, bedding, riding and pack saddles, bridles, lariats, and kettles and dishes. (p. 244-5)
During the summer of 1865, a Congressional investigation committee travelled to the site of the Sand Creek attack. Senator James R. Doolittle of Wisconsin reported that they had "picked up skulls of infants whose milk-teeth had not yet been shed, perforated with pistol and rifle shots." They collected sworn affidavits of scalpings and mutilations of women and children by soldiers under Chivington. In an effort to get to the bottom of the problem, the committee decided to hold a meeting with members of the town of Denver. Doolittle and the two other Congressmen met with Governor Evans on the stage of the Denver Opera House. Doolittle outlined the basis of the conflict between the whites and the Indians and then noted that the question had arisen whether the Indians should be be placed on reservations to become self-support, or whether they should be exterminated. He said that immediately after saying these words there came from the audience a shout "as is never heard unless upon some battlefield." Together the crowd yelled, "Exterminate them! Exterminate them!" (Svaldi, 1989, p. 188)
Late in the summer of 1865, runners were sent out to look for Black Kettle. They found him and the last remnants of the Southern Cheyennes camped south of the Arkansas River in Kansas. The scouts conveyed the government's desire to have peace. Black Kettle and Little Raven sent word back to the government that they would not meet until they heard from William Bent with regard to whether they could have permanent rights to the buffalo country between the Smoky Hill and Republican rivers. They were told later by Bent that no, the government would not agree to that. A railroad was being built through this area. They would have to live south of the Arkansas River. In October of 1865, escorted by troops under Wynkoop, government peace commissioners met with Black Kettle and his people at the mouth of the Little Arkansas. The terms of the treaty were read to them. It provided that the area in southern Kansas below the arc of the Arkansas River, a tract of land bordering Indian Territory, would be set aside for their "absolute and undisturbed use." But they did not want to leave. "It will be a very hard thing to leave the country that God gave us," Little Raven said. "Our friends are buried there... There at Sand Creek -White Antelope and many other chiefs lie there; our women and children lie there. Our lodges were destroyed there, and our horses were taken from us there, and I do not feel disposed to go...off to a new country and leave them." They had no choice, the commissioners said. Commissioner James Steele explained:
"We fully realize that it is hard for any people to leave their homes and graves of their ancestors, but, unfortunately for you, gold has been discovered in your country, and a crowd of white people have gone there to live, and a great many of these people are the worst enemies of the Indians - men who do not care for their interests, and who would not stop at any crime to enrich themselves. These men are now in your country - in all parts of it - and there is no portion where you can live and maintain yourselves but what you will come in contact with them. The consequences of this state of things are that you are in constant danger of being imposed upon, and you have to resort to arms in self-defense. Under the circumstances, there is, in the opinion of the commission, no part of the former country large enough where you can live in peace."
Black Kettle eventually said that he would agree to the terms of the treaty. "Our forefathers, when alive, lived all over this country...since then they have died and gone I don't know where. We have all lost our way... Although the troops have struck us, we throw it all behind and are glad to meet you in peace and friendship. What you have come here for, and what the President has sent you for, I don't object to, but say yes to it... We are different nations, but it seems as if we were but one people, whites and all... Again I take you by the hand, and I feel happy. These people that are with us are glad to think that we have peace once more, and can sleep soundly, and that we can live." (Brown, 1970, p. 96-8)
The treaty was signed by such chiefs as Black Kettle, Little Robe, Little Raven (who once walked the streets of Denver) and Big Mouth. They agreed to peace and to a new home. An examination of the Little Arkansas treaty, as it became called, in comparasion with the previous treaties indicates the focus of the government's intent. So they could sleep soundly and live they had agreed, according to the 1865 treaty, to a "perpetual peace," that hostile acts or depredations by the United States against the Indians would not be "redressed by a resort to arms," but, instead, complaints would be submitted to "impartial arbitration" by the United States. Further, they had agreed that "in case of crimes or other violations of the law" by members of that tribe, the accused person would be identified by means of a written complaint varified by affidavit, delivered into the custody of the United States and punished by the United States. Boundaries of the new reservation would encompass an arc of land south of the Arkansas River and bordering Indian Territory. They also agreed to relinquish all claims to any land outside the new reservation, "and more especially their claims and right in and to the country" comprising their original land under the provisions of the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie, that is, as the treated stated, the "coutry they claim to have originally owned, and never to have relinquished the title thereto." No mention was made of the reservation established by the Fort Wise treaty. What Evans had tried to accomplish by getting additional signatures for the Fort Wise treaty, that is the cessition of the Fort Larmaie treaty lands, was accomplished by the treaty at the Little Arkansas, plus relinquishment of the Fort Wise reservation in Colorado, as well. Now the Cheyennes were completely out of Colorado.
The treaty also stipulated that they would go to the new reservation when directed by the President to do so and that they could not leave the reservation without a written pass. In addition, until they were ordered to go to the new reservation, they could reside between the Platte and the Arkansas, their old hunting grounds. (Fay, 1971, pp. 16-25) Bent (Hyde 1968) mentioned that during treaty negotiations Little Raven pointed out that "the lands offered south of the Arkansas belonged to the Kiowas and Conmanches" and that if his people accepted these lands, they would be "embroiled with the tribes to whom the lands rightfully belonged." To resolve this problem, language was included that statated that "said Indians shall not be required to settle upon said reservation until such time as the United States shall have extinquished all claims of title thereto on the part of other Indians, so that the Indians parties hereto may live thereon at peace with all other tribes." (Fay, 1971, p. 17)
Special deeds to numerous sections of land, 640 acres each, were individually made to a number of persons "related to the Cheyennes and Arapahoes by blood," including George Bent and the children of John Smith. According to Bent, who was present as an interpretor, Black Kettle was reluctant to sign the treaty at first. "I have always been friendly to the whites, but since the killing of my people at Sand Creek, I find it hard to trust a white man." He pointed out that there were only 80 lodges of Southern Cheyennes present at the council, while the rest of the tribe, amount to another 400 lodges, were north of the Platte. He did not want to make a decision without their agreement. He also, according to Bent, showed Generals Harney and Sanborn the wounds received by his wife at Sand Creek, pointing out nine wounds on her body, explaining that as she lay on the ground the soldiers shot again and again.
In the end, the treaty was signed. According to Bent it was called the Treaty of the Little Arkansas. "Although only one-sixth of the tribe was present, the Southern Cheyennes gave up all their lands between the Arkasnas and Platte rivers, and while still permitted to hunt in that region, agreed to settle on a reserve to be established for them south of the Arkansas." (Hyde, 1968, p. 248-9) To help rectify the problem of lack of representation, the treaty included language to the effect that the Indians who had signed the treaty would endeavor to convince those who were not present to agee to the terms of the treaty. Agreement on the part of those absent would be indicated when the non-signers "participated in the beneficial provisions of the treaty." (Fay, 1971, p. 19-20)
However, there was still one more problem. After Wynkoop's return, the treaty was submitted to the United States Senate and significantly amended prior to its ratification. It was amended to such a degree "as entirely changed the face of the document." (Wynkoop, 1994, p. 115) The first amendment stipulated that the tribes would go as soon as possible, with the assent of the tribes, to another reservation to be designated by the President in the future and "no part of which shall be within the State of Kansas." Another amendment stated that origianal document's agreement to pay back annuities due under former treaties would be replaced by the provision that "upon ratification of this treaty, all former treaties are hereby abrograted." Wynkoop thus had to go back to the tribes and get the amended document signed again. He was fearful that asking the tribes to sign all over again would create violance. He sent out runner and a new council was assembled. He was greeted coldly, escpeically by Porcupine Bear, the son of Chief Porcupine Bear who had been killed at Sand Creek. The son refused to shake Wynkoop's hand and covered his face with his blanket. An Arapahoe women told Wynkoop that she was afraid that if he insisted on Porcupine Bear signing the treaty he would be killed. For this reason, during the signing of the document, he had his brother George Wynkoop hide in a tent, his rifle trained at the table where each came up to sign. At the signing was Bull Bear, principal Chief of the Dog Soldiers. Also present was George Bent and John Smith. (Wynkoop, 1994, pp. 115-8)
With all assembled, Wynkoop read the amended document. He said that he explained the many advantages of the treaty, warned them that the government would never again grant such liberal concessions, reminded them that he had never lied to them and asked them to "agree to and abide by the terms of the treaty, and promised them it would result in their future happiness and welfare. One by one they signed, until it came to Porcupine Bear, who refused to come up and sign. Bent talked to him in a low voice. He still did not rise. Then Bull Bear addressed him in "loud and emphatic language" and Porcupine Bear jumped up, dropping his blanket from his shoulders. Wynkoop wrote that he had involuntarily grasped the butt of his six-shooter during the incident. Porcupine Bear walked up to the box where the document laid and "made the cross with the pen." . (Wynkoop, 1994, pp. 117-8)
According to Bent (Hyde, 1968, p. 248) and according to a copy of the original document in Fay (1971) those who signed the unamended document were Black Kettle, Seven Bulls, Little Robe, Black Whiteman, Eagle Head, and Bull that Hears; for the Arapahos, Little Raven, Storm, Big Mouth, Spotted Wolf, Black Man, Chief in Everything and Haversack. According to Fay (1971), the amended document was signed a year later by Black Kettle, Little Robe, Black White Man, Eagle Head, Big Head, Bear Killer and Whie Buffalo, for the Cheyennes, and for the Arapahoes Little Raven, Storm, Black Man, Haversack, Round Chief and Yellow Rabbit. Neither Porcupine Bear or Bull Bear are listed as signing, the leaders of the Dog Soldiers. In addition, according to Bent (Hyde, 1968, p. 251) Big Head and Rock Forehead refused to sign, "the Dog Soldiers' band being still very hostile. What was most at risk for the United States was the route for the Kansas Pacific railroad. The Dog Soldiers did not want it to go through. "All that they would say was that they would retain their country on the Smoky Hill and Republican where they had lived so long, and that they did not want any railroad through the country. The surveys for the Kansas Pacific railroad were then being made through the Smoky Hill hunting grounds." Apparently, Wynkoop was actively trying to get their consent to allow the railroad to go through even after the signing of the amended treaty. Bent pointed out that "during 1866 and the following year Agent Wynkoop gave his best efforts towards gaining the consent of the Dog Soldier to the building of this new road through their country."
In general, 1866 was relatively quiet in the south. (p. 251-3) The practical effect of the Treaty of the Little Arkansas was the creation of a fictitious reservation. It later didn't even qualify to be recorded on a map by the government compiler of the treaties. According to a note at the end of the amended treaty by the compiler, Charles C. Royce, the reservation "was intended only as a temporary reserve, the treaty providing that as soon a practicable a new reserve should be designed, no part of which should be within the state of Kansas. This was done by treaty of Oct. 18, 1867, and the reservation here described was relinquished. As it was never their reserve except in name, and as the same territory is covered by the claims of other tribes, it is not shown on the map." Royce's comment is found in "Indian Land Cessions in the United States." 18th Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 1896-1899. Part 2. 964 pp., 67 maps. Washington: Government Printing Office. (Fay, 1971, p. 25)
At the close of 1866 on Dec. 30, General Sherman wrote from St. Louis to his brother John, now a Senator in Washington, D.C. The Civil War had just ended. He had returned from New Orleans, where he noted "chimney stacks and broken railroads" marked the past presence of his army. He mentioned that he anticipated Indians wars. He said that the probable result would be the extermination of the Sioux and Cheyennes. Sherman wrote that: "I expect to have two Indian wars on my hands, and have no time for other things. The Sioux and Cheyennes are now so circumscribed that I suppose they must be exterminated, for they cannot and will not settle down, and our people will force us to it." (Sherman, 1894, p. 287)
Although the Cheyenne and Arapahoe did not know it, they now were entirely without a permanent home. The "reservation" they were getting in return - the one below the Arkansas - was actually only a paper reservation, a reservaton in name only, and did not qualify to be designated on a map. Further, its title was clouded in that they were being given a reservation half of which fell into the boundaries arranged that same year with the Kiowas. What they were promised to receive was a reservation that had not been picked out yet. The one thing it had to be was not in Kansas. They had been banned from Kansas, part of their traditional homeland. They had given up half of Colorado and parts of Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming for the promise to be relocated in an area of unspecified size and at an unspecificd location somewhere outside of Kansas. And wherever that somewhere might be, they could not leave it without a pass. They had, in effect, agreed to give up their vast homeland for the promise of a future ghetto - its location specified only in terms of an exclusion. However, some would not give it up.
On November 10, 1866, Captain Charles Bogy held a council at Fort Zarah, Kansas, for the purpose of having the amendments to the Treaty of the Little Arkansas signed. Roman Nose was at that meeting. He made his position clear. He appears to have recognized only the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie. "I have made peace with the troops in the North (meaning Fort Laramie). I did not come here for a coat or something to eat... If I talked all day the whites would pay no attention to it. I do not believe the whites. I do not love them. If I had plenty of warriors I would drive them out of this country. But we are weak. The whites are strong. We cannot count them. We must listen to what they say. At the treaty made at the North, the Commissioners did not speak of making roads on the Smoky Hill. Our nation is not properly represented here, therefore we shold not speak for them... We made peace on the North Fork of the Platte. We have kept it. Everytime we meet the whites in coucil, they have new men to talk to us. They have new roads to open. We do not like it." (Hoig, 1980, p. 99)
It was during this year that the Civil War came to a close. Ignatius Donnelly, a Congressman from Minnesota, predicted in the House of Representatives on February 7, 1865, that with the end of the Civil War a huge migration would spring up and "in a few short years every tract capable of settlement and cultivation will pass into the occupancy of the white man." He then asked, "what is to become of the Indian?" Yes, what was to become of the Indian? With the war now ended, the government could devote more of its time to the so-called Indian problem. One of the biggest problems was posed by the Dog Soldiers, such as Roman Nose, Bull Bear and Tall Bull. They did not sign treaties. They were the principal leaders of the raids against the whites. However, while there had been conflicts in the north in 1866, below the Arkansas it had been relative quiet. Here is where Black Kettle and his band had moved.
In 1865, Senator Doolittle, a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, helped launch a commission to study the condition of the Indians and their treatment by military and civil authorities. The resulting report found that the Indians were rapidly decreasing in number due to the pressures of white migration, disease and war. The report noted that the wars were caused primarily by "the aggressions of lawless white men," as well as the influence of settlement, such as the railroads and the loss of hunting grounds. However, little substantive change resulted from the commission's findings. General Winfield Scott Hancock had been put in charge of the Department of the Missouri. He had gained fame at Gettysburg during the Civil War. Following the war, he had been in charge of the military district around Washington, D.C. When Lincoln was assassinated, it was under his command that the Booth conspirators ahd been tried and executed. By the time he assumed duty on the plains, we was being mentioned as a possible presidential candidate. He eventually became a candidate in 1880. (Hoig, 1976, p. 3)
A central concern of the government was the extension of the railroad across the United States. Various branches were in various stages of completion. As Bent pointed out, the Kansas Pacific railroad had been completed as far as Fort Riley and preparations were being made "for pushing the road up the Smoky Hill through the heart of the Cheyenne hunting ground." The Cheyennes, particularly the Dog Soldiers, still opposed the construction of this line. "(Hyde, 1968, p. 255) Late in the Fall of 1866, Roman Nose, one of the Dog Soldier's most renouned fighters, and a party of Cheyenne warriors rode to Fort Wallace and notified the Overland Stage Company's agent that if they did not stop running the coaches through their country within 15 days, they Indians would begin attacking them. Shortly thereafter, due to a series of early snow storms, the Overland stopped is services for the winter. (Brown, 1970, p. 146)
Fort Wallace was at the headwaters of the Smoky Hill River near the western border of Kansas. It was well within the boundaries of the area established for the Cheyenne and Arapahoe by the treaty of 1851 at Fort Laramie. The Kansas Pacific Railroad had extended just beyond the eastern border of Kansas at that time. The projected route was along the Smoky Hill River. The Smoky Hill lay in the region between the Platte and the Arkansas, which, according to the provisions of the treaty made in 1865 on the Little Arkansas was open to the Indians as hunting grounds, with the priviso that they stay ten miles away from travelling routes, towns and military posts in the region. However, the Dog Soliders, as mentioned, had not signed this document. (Hoig, 1976, front flyleaf) (Kappler, 1972, p. 888)
Further north ran the Bozeman Trail, through the country over which the Sioux and Northern Cheyenne roamed. The affiliation between the Northern Cheyenne and the Sioux forged a relationship between the Dog Soldiers and the Sioux, for the Dog Soldiers, being Cheyenne, often visited their northern tribal memebers. The trails and railways served as a conduit for settlers and miners. The Bozeman trail, in particular, was the principle route to the Montana goldfields. People were flocking to the mines with the closing of the Civil War and due to extensive promotional campaigns. Advertisements appeared in Eastern newspapers announing excursions to the gold mines. Often travelers went by combinations of transport, including steamers up major river routes, connecting with the stage to the Bozeman trail. In Spring issue of the New York Daily Tribune, for instance, one read the following:
"SHIPPING. 1867 HO! FOR THE 1867 GOLD MINES! THE MONTANA AND IDAHO TRANSPORTATION LINE WILLL GIVE THROUGH BILLS LADING TO FORT BENTON, HELENNA, VIRGINIA CITY, BANNOCK CITY, DIAMOND CITY, DEER LODGE, AND ALL POINTS IN THE MINING DISTRICTS... For freight or passage, apply to J. EAGER, Agent, No. 41 Broad-st."
Treaties had been negotiatead with the Sioux in an attempt to secure passage over the various trails - in particular the Bozeman. However, due to lack of signitures by chiefs, their validity was in doubt. In an effort to arrange another treaty, the government contacted the Sioux. In June of 1866 the Sioux and members of a peace commission met at Fort Laramie. Red Cloud gave his views before the commission, saying that "The white men have crowded the Indians back year by year until we are forced to live in a small country north of the Platte, and now our last hunting ground, the home of the People, is to be taken from us. Our women and children will starve, but for my part I prefer to die fighting rather than by starvation." No new treaty was signed. (Brown, 1970, p. 118-125)
Nevertheless, the military began to build forts along the trail. The first was Fort Phil Kearny. Next was Fort C.F. Smith. While construction was going on, the Sioux under Red Cloud began to attack points along the trail. He was joined by the Cheyennes and Arapahos. Ten miles north of Fort Phil Kearny, Sioux, Cheyennes and Arapahos warriors lured out a number of troops from the newly built fort, located on the Platte River in Nebraska. Kansas residents read in the Leavenworth Evening Bulletin on Jan. 9, 1867, that on Dec. 21 a detachment of eighty four men and three officers were attacked by about 300 hostile Indians, reporting that "all the officers and men being killed that were engaged." It was one of the largest losses ever suffered by troops against the Indians. It became known as the Fetterman Masssacre, since the detachment had been under the command of Captain William J. Fetterman.
[Note supplied by JS Dill: Fetterman had boasted that he could defeat the the entire Sioux Nation with a single company of calvalry. "...young Lakota warriors, including Crazy Horse, executed an elaborate decoy manuever to draw soldiers out of the fort. They were very successful and killed several officers and severely wounded several other soldiers. In the next weeks an ambush was carefully planned and a location for a trap was chosen. Two thousand warriors moved south and set up camp two miles north of the chosen trap location. Ten young warriors were selected from the different tribal groups represented for the most dangerous job of decoying the soldiers. These decoys performed elaborate manuevers to lure the soldiers into the trap. When they were all inside the trap, the decoys signaled to the concealed warriors who rose up and killed all 80 of the soldiers. Nonetheless, casualties among the Indians were great because they were poorly armed so as to compete with the new repeating rifles of the soldiers. The Indians named this battle The Battle of the Hundred Slain." - courtesy of Professor Strom, University of Massachusetts]
The Union Pacific had been completed as far as Julesburg at the forks of the Platte. The railroad travelled along the Platte, meeting with the Bozeman trail which diverged north. In August of 1867 the Cheyennes derailed a train near Plum Creek Station by taking out tracks over a culvert. They killed the crew and broke open the overturned boxs, taking the supplies. (Hyde, 1968, p. 276) These conflicts were primarily centered in Kansas and Nebraska north of the Arkansas. During this time, most of the Southern Cheyennes, Arapahoes and all of the Kiowas and Comanches were camped south of the Arkansas in Indian Territory. Here also was Black Kettle and his band.
The ending of the Civil War, the discovery of gold in the Rocky Mountains, the opportunity of open farms on the prairie, the establishment of stage routes and the building of the railroads into the region all produced heated debates. Especially important was how the Indian conflicts should be managed and how the railroads should be built and financed, as well as their passage secured from Indian attack. Some sought to resolve the conflict with the Indians through war, others through negotiation. In response to a rising concern over the possibility of an Indian war, the Hon. George W. Manypenny, former commissioner of Indian Affairs, called on the Cincinnati Gazette's readership to correct what he considered injustices against the Indian. The letter was written on January 29, 1867, less than two years prior to the attack on the Washita River under study. Manypenny noted that "extermination" was "the sentiment of the whites within and bordering the whole Indian country." He said that:
"Many of the ever-recurring and never-ending difficulties that happen in the management of Indian affairs grow out of matters that are acted upon and decided at Cabinet councils, (and) upon the representation of outside parties, having interests that are concealed from view."
"Let the country awake to its responsibilities on this subject; let statesmen and divines, let all feel and realize that the Indian is the ward of the government; that he is a human being, having rights to be respected, and that obligations rest upon the people of the United States in relations to him. Let our law-makers understand that the Indian is entitled to and must have a fixed and permanent home; and that he is not to be driven from that home by any schemes, pretexts, or devices whatever. Let it be further understood, as an unalterable sentiment among the people, that Indian stealing and oppression in all forms is odious; that a man cannot be a leading member of the Senate or House of Representatives in Congress and habitually - nay, at all - dabble in Indian plunder; that an individual cannot hold an Indian agency a few years and retire from it rich; that sharp men on the frontier cannot with impunity rob and plunder the Indians at their pleasure; but let the people be educated up to the point that they will readily, and with one voice, denounce such men as scoundrels, and exclude them from respectable society." (Manypenny, 1880, p. 6)
Occasionally others lifted their voices in support of the Indians. Evidently, the influence of the Sand Creek massacre was still present among the populace. A news article in the Omaha Weekly Hearld on April 5, 1867 announced that the "Rev. Col. Chevington" was in town "to assume command of religious interests" along with a Rev. Col. Preston. "If Rev. Colonel Chivington can succeed as well in saving souls, as he did in slaughtering innocent Indians, once upon a time, we shall expect to see a grand revival of the grace of God among our people and great good accomplished."
On the plains, the railroad, and railroad lands, were often the subject of debate beyond the conflict it posed for the Indians. Many felt that special interests were in control of the railroads. In Kansas, a writer with the Leavenworth Evening Bulletin noted on March 7, 1867 that:
"From a careful study of all the great railroad interests, surrrounding or centering here, we were long since forced to the conslusion that Leavenworth and Kansas interests had been more than neglected; they had been deliberately sold out by our agents. Had it been the desire or purpose, to make the city a point as which the great belt route from the East were to unite, and pass on to the Pacific coast, across the State of Kansas, an average business ability, touched by the least shade of honesty, would have accomplished it. We are not of those who are ready to pronounce all men rascals upon general principles, nor can we doubt the integrity of any man, until honesty is impeached by irresistable evidence; yet we cannot escape the convictions that the hand of downright rascality has moulded all our financial efforts as a city and county, for the construction of railroads."
On March 31, 1867, the Omaha Weekly Hearld pointed out that the unoccupied lands of Nebraska, in particular the public lands as affected by the Union Pacific, should be settled. "What we need most now are farms, and we can get them by diligent anad well-directed efforts at colonized immigration. What was also need, according to the newspaper, were more troops. The Omaha Weekly Hearald on May 24, 1867 carried a front page editorial that stated the need for greater military force on the plains, criticizing both Sherman and Grant. "If we could hope to beat into the brain of Grant and Sherman a due sense of the fact that great interests are jeopardized by a want of sufficient forces to protect the overland lines of travel, we hould be willing to write steadily for a month in setting forth the facts of the case. We say again to those Generals, that unless from 3,000 to 5,000 more troops are sent to the Plains, there is no telling what may be the evil consequences resulting from the failure. The Indians are hostile. They are determined to fight. Gen. Augur is set down here with insufficient forces too protect different military lines of indefinite length, and to meet threatened exigencies... We sincerely hope something will be speedily done to change the dangerous state of affairs now existing in the West."
The Omaha Weekly Hearld prediced that the campaigns being made against the Indians would meet with failure due to lack of force. "We say now what we have said before, that General Augur is set to command an extensive region of country with forces totally inadequate to the end proposed. He is expected to protect the Great Road, the Mail and the Telepraph as well as the growing commerce of the Plains, and at the same time make an expedition against the Indians in a remote region with a force numbering less than 5,000 men.
In response to the the Fetterman massacre near Fort Phil Kearny, the government formed the Phil Kearny Commission, attempting to negotiate a treaty with the Oglala and Brule Sioux. According to an article in the April 26, 1867 issue of the Omaha Weekly Hearld, the Commission located them betweeen the Platte and Smoky Hill Forks. The article mentioned that attempts were being made to separate hostile Indians from friendly ones by having the peacefully disposed Indians agree to exclude hostile Indians from their camps. It also mentioned that the head of the commission had arranged for a "Special Agent to live with these Indians" for the purpose of having the agent report the status of the Indians to the various posts. At the same time, the military was advancing across the region under General Augur. "Good progress" was noted in the military measures to guard the Union Pacific and the overland lines. The article mentioned that "the theater of war will be confined to the wild regions north and west of Larmaie, and if Red Cloud insists upon fighting, we trust he will be given all he wants of it at an early day." It also stated that "Gen. Smith goes forward tomorrow with the regiment now here, and the work of preparation for the fray is being pushed with all possible vigor."
While the military under Augur was spreading across the northern plains, 1,400 troops under General Hancock were making preparations to wage war against the southern plains tribes. Hancock had informed Sherman that "it would be to our advantage to have these Indians refuse the demands I intend to make, (as) a war with the Cheyennes would answer our purposes... This maatter, I wish to dispose of in March or April, before the grass comes up." Sherman supported Hancock's proposals. On March 11, 1867, the agent for the Comanches and Kiowas at Fort Zarah, Colonel J.H. Leavenworth, received a letter from Hancock notifying him that he was preparing for an expedition to the plains "to convince the Indians within the limits of this department that we are able to punish any of them who may molest travelers across the plains, or who may commit other hostilitie against the whites." Fort Zarah was at the "big bend" of the Arkansas, below which extended the temporary reservation established by the Little Arkansas treaty. A similar letter was sent to agent Edward W. Wynkoop (Wooster, 19, pp. 119-20) This and other governmental letters and reports are contained in General Custer and the Battle of the Washita: the Federal View, edited by John M. Carroll. It is the only privately published collection of government documents on the Washita attack, containing a compilation of military letters and reports.
Carroll reprinted portions of the "Report of the Secretary of the War, 40th Congress, 3rd Session," "Senate Executive Document No. 18, 40th Congress, 3rd Session," and the "House of Representatives Executive Document No. 240, 41st Congress, 2nd Session." Hancock's letter said that the military desired to avoid, if possible, "any troubles with the Indians, and to treat them with justice and according to the requirments or our treaties with them." Hancock then charged the Kiowas with a number of offenses, which had been brought to his attention by Major Henry Douglass, commanding officer at Fort Dodge, namely: 1. that they had been making "hostile incursions into Texas," 2. that a war party returned to Fort Dodge from Texas bringing with them the "scalps of seventeen colored soldiers and one white man," 3. that they had threatened posts on the Arkansas, 4. that they were about to enter into a compact with the Sioux for hostiities against them, 5. that they had robbed and insulted officers of the United States and that some of the members of the tribe were guilty of the murder of a man identified as James Box and the "capture and barbarous treatment of the women of his family." (Carroll, ed., 1978, p. 92-3)
Hancock said that he specifically requested that Leavenworth inform the Indians under his jurisdiction that the military "will hereafter insist upon their keeping off the main routes of travel across the plains, where their presence is calculated to bring on difficulties between themselves and the whites." He also said that he would be glad to meet with the Indians in the company of Leavenworth to show that they were acting in harmony. Leavenworth responded by asking by what authority he was coming with his troops onto the plains. He was informed by Hancock by a letter witten April 11 that his order "has the sanction of myself, of Lieuteunant General Sherman, and of General Grant." (p. 99) Leavenworth replied on April 19, 1867, in rather sarcastic language that he would cooperate but wanted evidence that the offenses had occurred. He said that he was "extremely happy to inform" Hancock that the views expressed in his letter met with his "entire approbations" and that he would "with great pleasure cooperate" with him, but he first requested that he be furnished "the official evidence, according to our treaty with them, that the Indians of my agency, or any members of either tribe, Comanches or Kiowas, have been guilty" of any of the five charges. His requests for specific evidence included "the murder of Mr. James Box, a citizen of Texas, the capture and barbarous treatment of the women of his family." He then elaborated on the reasons for wanting evidence on this matter in particular:
" It may appear strange to you that I would make the murder of Mr. Box and the capture of his family the subject of an official inquiry, but when I inform you that I have no official information, except what is contained in your letter of the 11th ultimo, you will not, I think, be surprised."
He also complained to Hancock specifically that the military was using this incident as a reason for bringing his troops onto the plains, that it was done without consultation with the Indian Department and that, in addition, he had been assured by Hancock that "no further demands would be made upon the Indians concerning this Box matter." Hancock responded on April 23 by transmitting the official evidence asked for, in the form of letters and affidavits, including affidavits by F.F. Jones, interpreter at Fort Dodge, and Brevert Major Asbury, post commander at Fort Larned. Included was an extract of a letter stating that Jones had reported that a Kiowa war party had come in with the "scalps of seventeen negroes and one white man."
On May 15, Leavenworth wrote his superior, N.G. Taylor, the commissioner of Indian Affairs, about the exchange of correspondance between he and Hancock, stating that the treaties with the Kiowas and Comanches required that a written statement, verified by affidavit, was required when a person claimed to be injured. "Now what do these grave reasons of complaints show? There is but one affidavit in them all, and that shows conclusively that the robbery of the United States officer is false..." (p. 92)
Bent told his version of the indicent, namely that upon the authority of Captain Henry Asbury and a man named F.F. Jones, Major Douglass in a report of General Hancock charged that the Kiowas, Comanches, and Cheyennes had made numerous raids. He said that according to Jones, a trader named Tappan had been assaulted, a Major Page had been threatened, stock had been run off, the stages stopped and passengers bullied, Jones himself had been fired on and a Kiowa war pary had come in from a raid in Texas with two hundred stolen horses and the scalps of seventeen Negro cavalrymen and one white man. Bent said that Tappan and Major Page appeared before Major Douglass and declared under oath that none of the statments made by Jones and Asbury were true. "For some unexplained reason Major Douglas failed to communicate this later information to General Hancock, who in the meantime had called for reinforcements and was busy organizing an expendition to punish the Indians." (Hyde, 1968, pp. 254-5)
Bent also cast doubt on the veracity of the story about the scalped men. "The statement about the scalps of the seventeen Negro cavalrymen should have deceived no one who knew anything about Indians. The Plains Indians never took a Negro's scalp, and the records of the War Department contain no mention of a fight in Texas in which seventeen Negro cavalrymen were killed at this period." (p. 255)
Hancock's expedition had stemmed from a meeting between he and Geneal Sherman on March 8, 1867. A number of decisions had been made, which Sherman promised to state in writing to Hancock at a later date. Sherman sent that letter on March 14. It spelled out what Handcock could and could not do. "The fact that the management of Indians affairs is left by Congress in the control of the Department of the Interior, deprives us of a legal right to control them, and prevents our adopting preventive measures. We are compelled to respect the Indian treaties because they are the law of the land, obligatory on all, especially on us who are intrusted with the execution of the law. We are bound also to respect the authority of commissioners or agents, who are charged with the intercourse with and control of the various tribes, and to leave them to manage all questions not amounting to actual war." (Carroll, ed., 1978, pp. 174-5)
The military's relationship with the Indians was to be solely reactive. This meant, for instance, that the War Department did not have the authority to remove Indians from the stage and railroad routes as a preventative measure or to relocate them by force onto reservations. It was only when incidents "amounting to actual war" occurred, did the military have authority to exercise control over the Indians. The letter continued, stating that Hancock thus did not have to concern himself with such particular incidents concerning the Cheyennes as the killing of a New Mexican or the killing of men and the driving off of stock along the Smokey Hill routes. "Leave these cases to the agents and so notify them," he directed Hancock. (p. 174) Instead, their jurisdiction was in terms of protection. "Our duty is to protect our own people, while engaged in their lawful and natural pursuits, against all enemies of whatever race or color. This embraces citizens who have made settlements on surveyed lands, or other lands where it is lawful for them to make locations; all mail routes established by law; all roads traveled through the Indian country established by competent authority, or to which a right has accrued by former implied consent; and especially we are bound to protect and command the respect due our own authority as represented by forts, stations, and troops on the march." (p. 174)
He then got down to the heart of the matter:
"I understand that the Cheyennes, and Arapahos, and Kiowas, each and all, on several occasions, have assembled at or near our posts on the Smoky Hill, and on the Arkansas, in numbers and strength manifestly beyond the control of their agents, and have in manner and word threatened to interrupt the use by our people of those roads. This cannot be tolerated for a moment. If not a state of war, it is next thing to it, and will result in war unless checked." (p. 175)
Sherman directed Hancock to adopt the following measures to check the Indians: "I therefore authorize you to instruct your commanding officers of posts, on a recurrence of the same or similar cases, to punish on the spot." That is, any Indians threatening to interrupt the use of the routes would be killed. He continued:
"And I authorize you to organize out of your present command a sufficient force to go among the Cheyennes, Arapahos, Kiowas, or similar bands of Indians, and notify them that if they want war they can have it now; but if they decline the offer, then impress on them that they must stop their insolence and threats, and make their conduct conform more nearly to what we deem right than was the case last year." (p. 175)
Hancock's mission was to find these bands and invite them to fight. If they refused, then they were to be instructed to stop making threats. Sherman also noted that talk was getting around that the military was attacking persons who were in a state of surrender and that this, he assumed, would not be the case with Hancock. "I have no fear that you or any other officer under you will kill or injure unresisting people of any race or kind, and will not suppose the case. But such an impression has got abroad, and I have an inquiry from the War Department on this subject..." (p. 175)
Hancock's expedition of 1,400 troops left Fort Riley in late March, traveling the Sante Fe Trail, stopping at Fort Zarah to pick up Colonel Leavenworth and proceeded on to Fort Larned, conferring there with Major Wynkoop. Wynkoop said he had sent out runners prior to Hancock's arrival, asking the Cheyenne and Arapaho headmen to meet the expedition on April 10. Black Kettle had gone even further south to the Cimmeron River. The Southern Cheyennes who remained were the Dog Soldiers. (Hyde, 1968, p. 255) (Hoig, 1980, p. 144)
A meeting was held on April 12, 1867, with representatives of the Southern Cheyenne tribe at night around a large campfire on Pawnee Fork near Fort Larned. Hancock made the following speech:
"I told your agent some time ago that I was coming here to see you, and if any of you wanted to speak to me, they could do so... I don't find many chiefs here; what is the reason? I have a great deal to say to the Indians, but I want to talk with them all together; I want to say it at once... Now, I have a great many soldiers, more than all the tribes put together. The Great Father has heard...that a great many Indians are trying to get up war, to try to hunt the white man. That is the reason I came down here. I intend, not only to visit you here, but my troops will remain among you, to see that the peace and safety of the plains is preserved. I am going, also, to visit you in your camp. The innocent, and those who are truly our friends, we shall treat as brothers. If we find, hereafter, that any of you have lied to us, we will strike them. In case of war, we shall punish whoever befriend our enemies... I have collected all the evidence of all the outrages committed by you, so that your agent may examine into the matter and tell me who are guilty and who are innocent. When your agent informs me who the guilty are, I will punish them. When just demand are made, I will enforce them if they are not acceded to." (Carroll, ed., 1978, p. 130)
To paraphrase, Hancock had told the Indians that he was going to go to their camp (about 35 miles away), armed with evidence of depredations committed by various members of the tribe. He was going to find out from the agent which specific Indians were innocent and which were guilty. When the agent identified a person as guilty, that person was to be "punished." He continued with his speech, saying that:
"I have heard that a great many Indians want to fight. Very well; we are here, and we come prepared for war. If you are for peace, you know the conditions; if you are for war, look out for its consequences. If we make war, it will be made against the tribe, who must be responsible for the acts of their young men." (p. 130)
In other words, if they chose war, the entire tribe, consisting of men, women and children, would be warred against, that is, that they would be collectively responsible. Hancock explained further the military's position.
"Your agent is your friend, but he knows his friendship will not save you from the anger of your Great Father, if we go to war. If we find any good Indians, and they come to us with clean hands, we will treat them as brothers, and we will separate them from the malcontents... This we will do, that the innocent may escape the war which will be waged against the guilty. The soldiers are going to stay in the country, and they will see that the white man keeps his treaty as well as the red man. We are building railroads, and building roads through the country. You must not let your young men stop them; you must keep your men off the roads... You know very well, if you go to war with the white man you would lose. The Great Father has plenty more warriors... You cannot replace warriors lost; we can... Let the guilty, then, beware, I say to you, to show you the importance of keeping treaties made with us, and of letting the white man travel unmolested. Your Great Father is your friend as well as the friend of the white man . If a white man behaves badly, or does a wrong to you, he shall be punished, if the evidence ascertained at the trial proves him guilty. We can redress your wrongs better than you can. I have no more to say."(p.131)
The picture painted by Hancock was not too bright for the Indian. The military was going to stay in the region. They would investigate who was innocent and who was guilty. The guilty would be punished. In the war which would be waged against the guilty, the innocent could escape by demonstrating their innocence. Because the U.S. military had countless men, while the Indians' forces were limited, the Indians would loose. Both the white man and the red man would be punished for bad acts. The Indians were told they would be punished upon being identified by the agent as guilty. The white man would be punished if found guilty by a trial. Taken at face value, Hancock could have left only one impression among the Indians - that he was going to come to their village, ascertain from the agent who was guilty, and punish the guilty, which at best would be imprisonment, and most likely, punishment on the spot, immediate death. Such actual decisions could only lead to war and annihilation of the entire tribe. Tall Bull was in no mood to oppose Hancock. There would be no opposition to travel along the routes. He replied to Hancock:
"You sent for us, we came here. We have made the treaty with our agent, Colonel Wynkoop. We never did the white man any harm. We don't intend to...Whenever you want to go on the Smoky Hill, you can go; you can go on any road. When we come on the road, your young men must not shoot us. We are willing to be friends with the white man."
However, Tall Bull saw conflict ahead. The Indian's traditional food supply, the buffalo (and as a substitute the antelope) was disappearing. When it had been eliminated, there would be no food source and the Indian would have to rely on government rations via the forts. In the past, whenever they approached the forts, they had been fired on. Tall Bull explained:
"The buffalo are diminishing fast. The antelope, that were plenty a few years ago, they are now thin. When they shall all die away, we shall be hungry; we shall want something to eat, and will be compelled to come to the fort. Your young men must not fire on us. When they see us they fire, and we fire on them."
As far as meeting with the other tribes, Hancock would have call them in for a meeting himself. "The Kiowas, Comanches, Apaches, and Arapahos, send and get them here and talk with them," Tall Bull told Hancock. And with regard to coming to their camp, there would be no point in doing so. He had already said all he had to say. "You say you are going to the village tomorrow," Tall Bull said in closing. " If you go, I shall have no more to say to you there than here. I have said all I want to say. (p. 131) Hancock responded by repeating himself - "I did not come to see you alone...", "I want to see those who are friendly and those who are not, and wish war..." "Don't stop the trains and travelers on the roads," etc. He ended abruptly with one last statement: "But you must keep off the great roads across the plains; for it you should ever stop one of our railroad trains, and kill the people on it, you would be exterminated." The choice was theirs - either allow travel across their hunting grounds or be exterminated.
One person Hancock wanted to see in particular was Roman Nose. "Why is Roman Nose not here?" Hancock asked. However, as Bent explained, since Roman Nose was not a chief, he did not have the right to attend the council. The chiefs tried to explain this to Hancock. Nevertheless, Hancock wanted to see Roman Nose. "If Roman Nose will not come to me I will go to see him," Hancock stated. "I will march my troops to your village tomorrow." He marched his troops to the Cheyenne village the next day. His march toward the village put it into great alarm. Word spread about his threatening attitude and speech. The Indians set the prairie on fire around the village so that the soldiers would not camp nearby. A band of warriors mounted and set off to meet the soldiers. The two columns meet about noon. Wynkoop rode up to the approaching Indians to reassure them. "They surrounded my horse," Wynkoop recalled, "expressing their delight at seeming me there, saying that now they knew everything was all right, and they would not be harmed." Wynkoop brought back to Hancock a large detachment of chiefs and headmen, including Roman Nose (who carried a white flag), Bull Bear, White Horse, and Gray Beard of the Cheyennes, plus some Sioux warriors.
Hancock and his staff rode out to meet them. Hancock asked for Roman Nose. He was pointed out. Riding up to him he asked him sharply if he wanted war. Roman Nose replied through an interpreter that if the Indians wanted war they would not have come so close. Hancock persisted. He wanted to know why Roman Nose had not come to the initial meeting. "My horses are poor, and too week to travel," Roman Nose said, "and every man who comes to me tells a different story of your intentions." Hancock abruptly cut off talking, saying it was too windy, and said he was going to camp near the Indian village. (Hyde, 1968, p. 259) (Brown, 1970, pp. 150-1) "This alarmed the Indians more than ever; they could not understand his intentions and many believed that he wanted to surround the village and capture or kill all the people; as they had done nothing they could not see why he should do this," Bent recounted. (Hyde, 1968, p. 259)
After a march of 10 miles, the village was sighted. It consisted of 300 lodges. Women and children were fleeing. Hancock asked Roman Nose why the women and children were leaving the village, saying that it looked like treachery. "Are not women and children more timid than men? The Cheyenne warriors are not afraid, but have you never head of Sand Creek?" Roman Nose asked Hancock. "Your soldiers look just like those who butchered the women and children there." According to Bent, Roman Nose then turned to Bull Bear and told him to ride back to the Indian line, as he might get killed, saying he was not going to kill Hancock. However, Bull Bear grabbed the bridle of Roman Nose's horse, leading him away, persuading him to drop the idea for the sake of the women and children. (Hyde, 1968, p. 261)
General George Armstrong Custer, who accompanied Hancock, said that Hancock then informed the chiefs that they were to round up those who had fled, "promising protection and good treatment to all" but "if the camp was abandoned he would hold them responsible." The chiefs promised to find the departed women and children, and rode off. Hancock then ordered Custer after midnight to "mount my command as quickly and as silently as possible, surround the Indian village, and prevent the departure of its inhabitants." Custer commented that "there were none of us who imagined for one moment that if the Indians discovered us in our attempt to surround them and their village we would escape without a fight... If we were discovered approaching in the stealthy, suspicious manner which characterized our movements, the hour being midnight, it would require a more confiding nature than that of the Indians to assign a friendly or peaceful motive to our conduct." (Custer, 1962, p. 36-7) Custer described how the village was surrounded:
The method by which it was determined to establish a cordon of armed troops about the fated village was to direct the march in a circle, with the village in the center, the commanding officer of each rear troop halting his command at the proper point, and deploying his men similarly to line of skirmishers - the entire circle, when thus formed, facing toward the village, and distant from it perhaps a few hundred yards.
Once the village had been surrounded by the mounted troops, "the next step was to determine whether we had captured an inhabited village, involving almost necessarily a fierce conflict with its savage occupants, or whether the red man had again proven too wily and crafty for his more civilized brothers." A few troops, including Custer, crept up on all four to the lodges, finding them empty. (p. 38-40) Only an old woman and a ten-year old half-breed Indian girl were found in the camp. The girl, according to Custer, had been raped. Custer claimed that he had found her in a tent and that the rape had been committed "by a few of the young men of the tribe (who had) returned to the deserted lodge." (p. 42) However, Bent stated that "the military afterward reported that this girl was a white captive who had been outraged by the Cheyennes before they abandoned the camp. She might have been outraged, but not by Indians, for she was a half-witted Cheyenne girl, forgotten by her people in their hurry." (Hyde, 1968, p. 261)
Hancock decided to burn the village. He also gave orders to stop all Indians from escaping by crossing the Arkansas River. "That night in my presence General Hancock expressed his determination of burning the village the next day," Wynkoop related. The next day, he noted, six Cheyenne Indians, attempting to cross the Arkansas River near the Cimaron crossing, were killed "in accordance with an order from General Hancock, dispatched on the night of the Indians' flight, to stop all Indians from crossing the Arkansas River." According to a report from the commanding officer, his 20 men, on discovering the six Indians, demanded their surrender, but were fired on, and "fought them to the death." The officer also noted that "they were dismounted, and were, in my opinion, spies." (Carroll, ed., 1978, pp. 116, 172) According to Bent, two Indians were killed, not six. He said six Indians belonging to Black Kettle's band that night fled the village on foot, headed toward the Arkansas. They had been visiting the Dog Soldiers' camp at that time. Bent knew them well. He recalled that they were Lone Bear, Plenty of Horses, Big Wolf, Wolf Walks in the Middle, Pawnee Man and Eagle Nest. While resting near the Arkansas river, they were charged from two directions by cavalry. Lone Bear was shot and killed along the river bank and Plenty of Horses while running into the sand hills. The others escaped. Several years later, at Fort Lyon, Bent said he met a man named Captain Berry, who proudly showed him Lone Bear's breaded belt, pistol and quiver. "I told him that he had killed a very brave man." (Hyde, 1968, pp. 263-5) The commanding officer of the attack, Major Wickliffe Cooper, shortly after the incident committed suicide by shooting himself, reportedly due to excessive drinking, which was prevalent among the officer's corps at that time. (Hoig, 1976, p. 9-10)
Wynkoop asked Hancock not to destroy the village, as it would cause an Indian war, backing up his verbal request with a letter. The letter was written on the Camp on Pawnee Fork, April 13, 1867, and read in part as follows:
"General: For a long time I have made the Indian character my chief study. I regard the late movement of the Cheyennes of my agency as caused by fear alone, so far as I am able to judge. They met us first with a determination to have a peaceful talk, at such a distance from their village as would make their women and children satisfied that no danger need be apprehended by them. Your movement toward the village terrified the squaws and children, who left with such movable property as they could gather. I learn that you propose destroying the lodges and other property now remaining in the village. I would most respectfully request you not to do so. I am fully convinced that the result would be an Indian outbreak of the most serious nature, while at the same time there is no evidence, in my judgement, that this band of Cheyennes are deserving this severe punishment. I am influenced along in thus communicating with you by what I consider a strict sense of duty." (Carroll, ed., 1978, p. 116-7)
On April 15, Captain W. G. Mitchell, wrote to the commanding officer at Fort Larned not to allow any Sioux or Cheyennes to approach his post, "as we are now in a state approaching hostilities here with those tribes." He said that they had the camp in their possession and were planning to destroy it. He noted that Custer had started that morning in pursuit of the Indians with eight companies of the Seventh Cavalry and would let him know "if Custer has any fighting." He further stated that "all Sioux and Cheyennes - men, women and children - should be arrested and held in custody wherever it is practicable to do so." He said that he believed that the reason the people fled was because some had been involved in trouble in the north and "feared being called to account for their proceeding in the north." He ended with a P.S. "On examination of the Indian encampment, I learn they have left a white child in it - a girl - who they have brutally outraged. I shall therefore burn their encampment and destroy everything in it, unless I see good reasons to change my opinion." (p. 140)
While Custer was in pursuit of the fleeing Cheyennes with his mounted troops, Hancock wrote a dispatch to General Sherman on April 17, 1867, relating what had happened, stating that he was enclosing a copy of Wynkoop's letter, to which he had made no written reply, "and probably will not make any at all - certainly not before I leave this place." Hancock wrote that:
"We have evidently frightened these Indians badly. We have as yet heard of no hostilities by them, either on the Arkansas or Smoky Hill. I shall remain here two days...to learn whether they have commenced hostilities or not, holding in the meantime their camp in my hands... I think we have provocation sufficient to destroy the camp; still we may not have, and by burning it we will certainly inaugurate a war which might otherwise have been avoided... I find that the little Cheyenne girl states that she was outraged by a young Indian, probably the last one to leave camp. I will know all about that as soon as Gurrier, the Cheyenne interpreter, who is with General Custer, returns." (Carroll, ed., 1978, p. 141)
On April 17, Hancock wrote to Brevet Major General A. J. Smith, Commanding District of the Upper Arkansas. "I hear of no Indian hostilities, as yet, on the road. General Custer appears to have met with no resistance whatever." Hancock wrote another letter to Sherman the next evening, April 18 at 8 p.m., stating that he had received two reports from Custer, the one with the latest date "showing the war has begun." (p. 143) That dispatch was written by Custer at 9:30 p.m. on April 17 at Downers Station on the Smoky Hill River, 42 miles from Hancock at Pawnee Fork. It was written the same day the field orders were made to destroy the village. It read in part:
" Indians, believed to be Sioux...yesterday attacked Lookout Station... They killed and burned the three men employed at the station... There is no doubt but that the depredations committed at Lookout were by some of the same Indians who deserted their lodges on Pawnee Fork, and whose trail I followed until they broke up into small bands. " (p. 145)
Hancock's April 18 letter to Sherman continued, mentioning that "Now is the time to settle this Indian question, as far as the country between the Arkansas and the Platte is concerned. No Indians should be allowed to retain it." Hancock informed Sherman of his decision to burn the village. "It is a cheap victory to burn this camp, but I feel it an imperative duty to do so. Its destruction will be a great loss to the Indians... I expect to leave here tomorrow. The burning of the village will be deferred until the time of departure." (p. 143)
Oddly, according to government records, destruction of the village was authorized by Special Field Orders No. 12 on April 17, the day Hancock informed Sherman that he had not learned of any hostilities as yet and also on the same day that Custer wrote an evening dispatch informing Hancock, 42 miles away, of the incident concerning the Sioux. One can only conclude that the date was an error or that Hancock had decided to burn the village on the assumption that "murders and depredations" would be committed following the arrival of the command that "this point," that is, Pawnee Fork.
Another government document seems to indicate that an error in dating was not the case. Special Field Orders No. 13, dated April 18, and also issued at Pawnee Fork repeats in the exact same words field orders No. 12. This means that field order number 12 had to precede field order number 13, and this fits with the date of April 17 for field order number 12. (p. 172) The reference to "depredations" in the field order could not have been with reference to the conflict with the six Indians on the Arkansas, since a letter relating that incident is dated April 19 at Cimarron Crossing. (p. 172) The issue becomes further confused. Custer made a personal investigation of the "massacre of the three men belonging to the station" at Lookout Station. His report, dated April 19 to Lieutenant Thomas B. Weir, Acting Assistant Adjunct General, District of the Upper Arkansas, stated "I failed, as did the Delaware Indians, to discover the slightest clue as to what tribe committed the act. Nothing supposed to have belonged to an Indian was to be found." (p. 148) Hancock, in a report of Sherman on April 21, stated that "General Custer thinks that the Indians who committed the outrages on the Smoky Hill are not those who remained in the village when we arrived at it." He pointed out that Custer left the village on the morning of April 15, the Indians left the night before, and the depredations had occurred 50 miles away, by a direct route between the village and Lookout Station on April 15. It does not seem probably that the Indians, most of whom were on foot, could have traveled all night and reached Lookout Station the following morning. However, Hancock observed that "even the latest to leave the village might have been of the party who were at Lookout Station, although it does not seem to me to be of much importance, for I am satisfied that the Indian village was a nest of conspirators." (p. 151)
On April 18, Wynkoop had written Taylor, saying that Hancock had first stated to him verbally that he would not destroy the village, but later changed his mind after receiving information from a courier. The runner had come from Custer while in pursuit of the fleeing Indians, informing Hancock that the Cheyennes had gone toward the Arkansas River, while the Sioux had crossed the Smoky Hill and had destroyed a mail station and killed three men. Wynkoop told Taylor that he appealed to Hancock to save the Cheyenne's village, since their was "no evidence that they had committed any over act since their flight" and that Hancock "promised to consider the matter." In defense of the Indians, Wynkoop said:
"Under the circumstanced in which the Indians left here, in my judgement, being fully impressed with the belief that General Hancock had come for the purpose of murdering their women and children, as had previously been done at Sand Creek, I have no doubt but that they think that the war has been forced upon then, (the Cheyennes,) and will commence committing depredations and following their style of warfare immediately; thus, in my opinion, has another Indian war been brought on which might have been averted by the military authorities pursing a different line of policy."
On April 21, Hancock wrote General Smith that "General Custer states in a postscript to his communication of the 19th that the Indians who were encamped at Pawnee Fork are exonerated from being actually engaged in the massacre of Lookout Station, on the Smoky Hill, which occurred on the 16th instant, for the reason that they could not have been there at that time. " (p. 152) Custer never found the fleeing Indians. The Omaha Weekly Herald took a critical view of Hancock's burning of the Cheyenne village. In its May 17th issue, it commented that:
"The first fruits of General Hancock's Indian expedition were announced in yesterday's Sun. They consisted in the burning of an Indian village, involving a loss of about one hundred thousand dollars. If General Hancock is aiming to initiate the barbarism of the Indians, he is certainly very successful... A war of extermination against the Indians has apparently commenced ..."
Hancock, on May 1, 1867, met with the Kiowas. Satanta, a Kiowa chief, spoke first. He made a long speech, saying that the Kiowas did not want war. He also talked about Hancock's burning of the Cheyenne village.
"I heard that there are many troops coming out in this country to whip the Cheyennes, and that is the reason we were afraid and went away... I don't think the Cheyennes wanted to fight, but I understand that you burned their village. I don't think that is good at all."
He said he was also opposed to a railroad on the Arkansas route. "As for the Arkansas wagon road, I have no objection to it; but I don't want any railroad here, but on the Smokey Hill route, a railroad can run there and it is all right. On the Arkansas, and all those northern streams, there is no timber, it has al been cut off... There are no longer any buffalo around here, nor anything we can kill to live on; but I am striving for peace now, and don't want anything construed to be bad from what I say, because I am simply speaking the plain truth... These here braves (pointing to some Indians around him) are chiefs also, and are not afraid of soldiers, and the sight of them does not frighten them at all. This prairie is large and good, and so are the heavens above, and I do not want them stained by the blood of war." (p. 197)
Satanta then asked for an explanation as to why the members of his tribe were not getting the provisions as stipulated by the treaty of 1865, specifically asking why their agent Colonel Leavenworth had not provided them with their annuity goods. At the same time he revealed the condition of poverty that the Kiowas had now been reduced to.
"Now I want to find out what is the reason Colonel Leavenworth did not give me some annuity goods... Lone Bear, Heap of Bears, Stumbling Bear, and Little Heart, and others, six chiefs with very small bands, ... all received their annuity goods, while those of my tribe are as plenty as the grass, and I came in for my goods and did not see them. You can look upon us all, and see if we have any of those goods; all that we have we have bought and paid for. We are poor men, and I think others have got all the goods; but let them keep them, I want peace, and I don't want to make war on account of our goods. I expect to trade for what I get... We can make robes and trade them. That is what we have to live upon. I have no mules, horses, nor robes to give Colonel Leavenworth for my goods. I am a poor man, but I am not going to get angry and talk about it. I simply want to tell this to those officers here present. Such articles of clothing as the white man may throw away, we will pick up, and brush off and use, and make out the best we can, and if you throw away any provisions, we will clean and use them also, and thus do the best we can. I see a great many officers around here with fine clothing, but I do not come to beg. I admire fine clothes... I have no hat, and am going about without one, the same as all the other Kiowas... But I am not poor enough to die yet." (p. 197)
Satanta then discussed the railroad again, saying one reason that they considered allowing it to come through in the hopes that it would be the key to getting their goods. But still the goods never came. And then he launched into a more direct verbal attack of Leavenworth.
"I would like to get some agent who is a good and responsible man, one who would give us all our annuities; I do not want an agent who will steal half our goods and hide them, but an agent who will get all my goods and bring them out here and give them to me. I am not talking anything badly or angrily, but simply the truth. I don't think the great men at Washington know anything about this. "(p. 197)
Hancock made a lengthy response. He began by saying that he was glad that he was speaking to the "great war chief of the Kiowas" because he had some serious matters to discuss and wanted to speak with those who had the most influence in their tribes. He made his usual speech, saying if their agents "report any guilty ones we are ready to punish them" and that if they "found anybody in this country who wanted war (we heard there were some) we were ready..." And with regard to the Cheyenne camp, he said he thought they were a "nest of conspirators." Further, he said, "I believe they ran away because they were guilty, fearing that we would punish them." Moreover, they had been the ones, he declared, (contrary to Custer's report) who killed the men at Lookout station. "They had started so early that they arrived on the Smoky Hill a good while before the cavalry arrived three, and they burned one station and tried to burn another, and burned three white men. That we considered war; and then ordered their camp to be burned." Then he got down to business. "The most important thing I have to say to you now is to keep this road clear upon the Arkansas River, and allow no murders or depredations upon it." He said to resist was impossible. "You know very well that in a few years the game will go away; what will you do then? You will have to depend upon the white man to assist you and depend upon the Great Father to feed you when hungry. Your children will have to depend upon raising corn and stock, as other Indians do, before long. This generation may not have to do it, but the next generation will be obliged to do so. Then you should cultivate the friendship of the white man now, in order that he may be your friend when you may need his assistance. The white man is coming out here so fast that nothing can stop him; coming form the east and coming from the west, like a prairie on fire in a high wind. Nothing can stop it. The reason of it is that the whites are a numerous people, and they are spreading out. They require room, and cannot help it. Those on one sea in the west wish to communicate with those living on another sea in the east, and that is the reason they are building these road, these wagon roads and railroads, and telegraphs." He concluded by saying that he had nothing to do with the matter of annuity goods, had no control over their agent, but that what they had said would "go to Washington." He said if the agent wanted to say anything he could do so, ending with the statement that he did not expect to see them for some time, "unless we go to war south of the Arkansas River." (p. 200)
Leavenworth did have something to say. He evidently was stung by Satanta's charges. In retaliation, he charged Satanta and his men with the murder of the Box family, linking that act with the withholding of the goods. "These are the men who killed the Box family in Texas," he said, "and my instructions were not to give them any annuity goods until the conditions of my written instructions were complied with." He said that until captives were returned without ransom and until there was the assurance of no future depredations, no annuities would be given. "But Satanta has never come and given any assurances in this matter," Leavenworth said. The meeting ended in a verbal match. "Stumbling Bear was in that raid, and why should he get so many goods?" Satanta demanded. "Because he had come in and given the assurances that had been required of him." Leavenworth answered. "Why was Moh-way given so many goods?" Satanta persisted. But Leavenworth did not answer. "He does not wish to be questioned upon this matter," Hancock said. "The council will now end." The meeting came to a close.
This exchange raises two questions in particular, 1. why did Leavenworth at this May 1, 1867 meeting accuse Satanta and his men with the Box murder when he denied any connection between his tribe and the murder in his letter of April 19, 1867 to Hancock, as well as when he claimed in a letter on May 15, 1867 to his superior Taylor that Hancock's charges had not been verified by affidavits, and 2. why were these men not arrested by Hancock on being informed that they had participated in the murder, since Hancock had stated that a primary reason for his being on the plains was to find and punish "the guilty"? Here was the "guilty" to "punish" and they remained unpunished.
A partial answer may be found in an explanation by General George Armstrong Custer concerning a problem often related to the Indian agent. In My Life on the Plains, Custer noted that Indians were subjected to a system rooted in swindling the Indian. He said that the Indian agent, usually appointed for reasons of patronage, grew wealthy by withholding the government annuities and reselling them via traders to the Indians. "Between himself (the agent) and the Indian there is no system of accountability.... If the agent, instead of distributing to the Indians all of the goods intended for them by the government, only distributes one half and retains the other half, who is to be the wiser? Not the Indian... He may complain a little,..but the agent explains it by referring to some depredations which he knows the tribe to have been guilty of in times past...and ends up his charge by informing them that the 'Great Father,' learning of these little irregularities in their conduct..., felt compelled to reduce their allowance of blankets, sugar, coffee, etc., when at the same time the missing portion of said allowance is safely secured in the storehouse of the agent near by. Well, but how can he enrich himself in this manner? it may be asked. By simply, and unseen by the Indians, transferring the unissued portion of the annuities from his government storehouse to the trading establishment of his friend the trader. There the boxes are unpacked and their contents spread out for barter with the Indians. The latter...are forced to purchase from the trader at prices which are scores of times the value of the article offered... I have known the head chief of a tribe to rise in a council in the presence of other chiefs and officers of the army, and accuse his agent, then present, of these or similar dishonest practices." (Custer, 1962. p. 166-9)
Abuses in the administration of Indian Affairs was discussed in a February 15, 1876 article in the Omaha Weekly Herald. "If anybody wants to know the real cause of our Indian wars, they can ascertain it by reading the following," based on a report by Senator Nesmith of Oregon. The author said that "it is a very faint picture of the long-continued outrages that have been practiced upon the Indian, whose extermination is now demanded because he has the courage to fight against robbery and starvation." The letter stated that:
" From the personal inspection which I have given those goods and on comparing them with the invoices, I am thoroughly convinced that the contractors are guilty of the most outrageous and systematic swindling and robber... I have examined invoices of purchases made by the department or its agents in Eastern cities, where the prices charged were from fifty to one hundred percent above the market value of good articles. Upon examination of the goods I have found them, as a general things, worthless and deficient in quantity. Among them were 'steel spades,' made of sheet iron; 'chopping axes,' which were purely cast iron; 'best brogans' with paper soles; 'blankets,' made of shoddy and glue, which came to shreds the first time they were wet."
In light of this, one may speculate that Leavenworth's accusation of Satanta et all was a defensive reaction. But, even if that were the case, it does not explain why Hancock did not arrest those accused. Apparently, Hancock did not want to indict Satanta. But again, the question remains, why? Again, one can only speculate. Possibly he did not want to precipitate a conflict at that point. Possibly he saw in that instance nothing to gain by it. Possibly he was more interested in spreading terror than in actual armed conflict. His campaign shows more bravado, more of a display of military might, than of the actual employment of that might.
Hancock surrounded an Indian camp - but an abandoned camp. Hancock pursued the Cheyennes fleeing form the village, but he killed or captured few. Hancock adopted a belligerent spirit, calling for the guilty to be identified and be held accountable, but when they were actually found, he backed away from taking any direct action. The Southern Cheyenne and the Arapahos had seen troubles coming and to avoid them had gone south. According to scout James Morrison, they were camped along the Washita. He wrote to Wynkoop from Fort Zarah on May 19, 1867, that the Arapahos had not committed any hostilities, wanted peace and would go anywhere directed.
"Sir: I have just returned from the Washita River, two hundred and fify miles south of here, at which place most of the Arapahos and Cheyennes of your agency are camped. Young 'Big Mouth,' on the part of the Arapahos, wished me to inform you that neither he or any of his band had committed any hostility, and had no intention of doing so; that he wished for peace on any terms, and would pledge himself to remain neutral, even should the Cheyennes go to war. He is willing to remain in any region of the country, or agree to any arrangement that you wish to make. He says that he does not wish to come near the Arkansas, as he hears of considerable trouble along the road with soldiers. He wishes to avoid all contact with the military, if possible."
With regard to the disposition of the Cheyenne he wrote:
"The Cheyennes did not talk quite as friendly, but they said the people on the Arkansas did not treat them well, and that they did not like them, but did not express any intent of going to war. I shall remain at the Big Bend (on the Arkansas) several days, and if you wish to communicate with me you can do so at that place. I am well acquainted with the country south of here, and if you wish to open any communication with these Indians, I am not otherwise employed."
On June 8, 1867, Wynkoop wrote to Superintendent of Indian Affairs Murphy that it was uncertain where he could congregate the Indians for the purpose of issuing goods and for that reason to send them directly to Fort Larned, which was on the Arkansas. While the burning of the Indian camp had angered those Southern Cheyennes who had gone south, they were hundreds of miles away at the time. They had been empathically involved, but not physically. On the other hand, the band of Southern Cheyenne who had directly experienced Hancock's orders to burn their camp were infuriated. They were the Dog Soldiers, the warrior society of the Cheyenne. Stanley estimated that it would have taken three hundred buffalo to replace the destroyed village. (Hoig, 1976, p. 9) These Indians raided stage stations, ripped out telegraph lines, attacked railroad workers' camps and closed travel along the Smoky Hill road. News stories abound concerning "massacres" and "depredations." On June 5, 1867, the New York Times carried articles about a mail coach being fired upon by Indians on the Smoky Hill, of 300 men deserting under Custer, and of the steamer Miner being captured by the Indians. Another story told about coach passengers being massacred by Indians near Julesburg. On June 10, the Times commented that Sherman had issued orders that the Union Pacific Railroad would be heavily guarded, noting that Sherman said he would clear the Platte Valley of Indians in two weeks. On June 15, the New York Times carried a front page editorial comment. To control depredations, it advocated killing an Indian for every white man killed.
"Eastern people must not allow their sympathy with the Indians to make them forget what is done to those who are pushing the 'frontier' further and further West. These men deserve protection and they must have it, but to compel the Indians to respect their right these barbarians must...be dealt with as they deal with others. When they make war they give no quarter and they ask none. Clemency they interpret as cowardice; and it is my firm conviction that the only way of dealing with them is to take life for. When they kill a man, woman or child, capture and kill one of the tribe which commits the outrage, if the perpetrators themselves are not speedily surrendered."
In the Sunday edition, June 16, of the Times, Sherman's popularity among the settlers was discussed. It was not Sherman's fault, but the Government, that more troops were not on the plains. The Times also supported Sherman's resistance to recruiting volunteers, who the editors felt were often bloodthirsty.
"Our reports from the Indian country represent that Gen. Sherman is rapidly losing the good opinion of the border settlers.... The settlers are anxious that he should organize them into volunteer companies of soldiers...and turn them loose upon a grand hunt for red skins, with full authority to pillage and slaughter whomsoever they choose... Among the most prominent advocates of this wholesale extermination policy are Gov. Hunt of Colorado, and Gov. Meagher of Montana... The Governor had declared that the Indian must be driven from the vicinity of the whites... The men who take arms at his call are the roughest backwoodsmen, who look upon Indians as vermin...and how they will conduct a campaign may be imagined when it is stated that they believe a liberal reward should be offered for Indians scalps... It is because Gen. Sherman will not sanction this wholesale slaughter of Indians that the settlers have lost confidence in him, and declare that he is not the man for the Plains... It is unquestionably true that the General has not been able to afford that protection to the settlers to which they are entitled. But this is no fault of his. The responsibility lies in Washington, and they who have refused to send to the frontier a sufficient number of troops to overawe the Indians... But it is by no means necessary to inaugurate a series of indiscriminate massacres, as Govs. Hunt and Meagher propose to do. That Gen. Sherman refuses to permit this is greatly to his credit. The Government is in duty bound to furnish protection to all its citizens from committing unlawful acts. The Indian must be protected in his rights (he at least has a right to live) as well as the settlers in theirs... Outrages are deserving of punishment, but not such as the settlers would visit upon the perpetrators. The extermination of a whole race of human beings is hardly called for in consequence of them. "
Sherman's refusal to allow volunteers to be raised by the Colorado governor increasingly drew the enmity of the population. "If the man who went smashing things to the sea' were now to appear on our streets, he would meet with anything but a cordial reception," the Times noted on June 17,1867. "So do popular idols fall from their high pedestals." The Times summed up the conflict thus:
"The white men want to travel and settle in the countries heretofore the hunting grounds of the red man. The red men finding their game disappearing, and being "elbowed" by the white men from their old haunts, have determined to make one more final effort to hold their country."
The plains region's pervasive mixture of the risk of physical harm with the chance to strike it rich was graphically embodied in a June 11, 1867 news article in the Omaha Weekly Herald. Here are some excerpts, all under the headline "Indian Depredations on the Smoky Hill Route -Western News:
"Late advice from Denver give particulars of continued Indians depredations on the Smoky hill route. Coaches run daily to Salt Lake from Denver, and three coaches every other day on Smoky Hill. Hardly a coach arrives on the latter but reports one or two men killed, stealing of stock, etc. Hancock gave Sa-tan-ti chief of the Kiowas, a Maj. General's coat duly uniformed. In a short time after, the chief expressed his gratitude by gobbling the government herd in sight of Ft. Dodge...
"Hancock was in Denver on the 24th., and left for Leavenworth on the 26th. reported to favor vigorous war upon Indians. He thinks the only way to peace is to conquer it...
"The average weekly yield of the Black Hawk Colorado mine is said to be 220 ounces of fine gold...
"We have just received an interesting communication regarding the new gold mines in the vicinity of the head waters of the Cimaron, but too late for publication in this issue.
The Nebraska legislature had a solution to the 'radically wrong' present Indian policy. The way to end war was to strip the Indians of their sovereignty, build more forts, and imprison all the Indians in them."
In a resolution to Congress, reprinted in the June 28 issue of the Omaha Weekly Herald, the legislature pointed out that "the danger of life and property is much greater today that it was twenty five years ago... We believe that the policy of making treaties with the Indian tribes, and treating them as independent nations, should be abandoned, because the Indians will not and the government cannot respect them and fulfill their stipulations." It said that the no more peace commissioners should be allowed to precede the military forces of the government, since the Indians, when hard pressed by the military are "always ready for a talk." Instead, when "a military commander is sent against the Indians, his only order should be to chastise them till they sue for peace." Further, the resolution recommended that:
"A line of forts should be established on the Upper Missouri River and every friendly Indian in the country should be removed there and protected, fed and set to work until they become self-sustaining communities. Those in hostility to the Government should be made to understand that they can have peace and protection by reporting themselves at those forts, and when collected there they should be kept under the guns of the fort and fed... Those who do not voluntarily report themselves at the forts, should be driven there by some energetic military leader, which would result in ending the war."
The resolution recommended that the Indian Bureau be abolished and the Indians, instead of being treated as independent nations, should be made wards of the government and placed under the control of the Secretary of War. An editorial in that same issue commented that it agreed "in the main" with the resolution, noting that "The legislature does not seem to have become converted to the Chivingtonian doctrine," but instead was seeking to unite "force with conciliation and justice to the Indian." It said that Sherman was presently "busy with plans to provide for those Indians who have promised to leave the war path and to whip those that refuse to leave it." It said that "Protection of the railroads and mail lines is the first objective, and it is receiving vigorous attention." A later editorial comment in the August 15, 1867 issue of the Omaha Weekly Herald suggested that hostile Indians should be "placed upon a limited reserve under military police. Every Indian found outside of those limits should be incontinently shot."
On June 29 the New York Times carried such headlines as "Attack on Fort Wallace, Kansas - The Indians Reputed with a Loss of 20 Killed" and "Railroad Engineers Attacked - One White Man and Several Indians Killed." The first story noted that Fort Wallace was south of the Smoky Hill River, about ten miles northeast of the terminus of the Union Pacific Railway, eastern division. The latter story reported that John D. Perry, President of the Kansas Pacific Railway, said that the train was attacked near Fort Harker. The article concluded by noting that "Troops have been sent out to protect the railroad men." The transportation, regardless of the danger, was not going to stop. The Overland Express issued an order to its agents that "if Indians come within shooting distance, shoot them. Show them no mercy for they will show you none. General Hancock will protect you." (Brown, 1970, p. 152) Thomas Murphy, the superintendent of Indian Affairs, on May 27 issued a complaint to his superior Commissioner Taylor. He wrote:
"I have the honor to transmit herewith a circular issued by the superintendent of the American Express Company to their employees on the Smoky Hill route from Fort Harker to Denver City. I would call your attention particularly to the paragraph marked, viz: "If Indians come within shooting distance, shoot them; show them no mercy, for they will show you none." According to existing treaty stipulations, the Cheyennes, Arapahos, and Apaches have permission to live in, and roam over, the country lying between these two rivers, until the President order them removed to reservations selected for then. If the government countenances these arbitrary acts of military commanders and superintendents of express companies in violating treaties, it is unreasonable to expect that the Indians will keep their part of these treaties. If this condition of affairs is permitted to exist much longer, every effort that has been made during the past two years by the civil officers of the government to promote peace and friendship among those Indians, and to prevent depredations, will have been utterly in vain, and it is but reasonable to expect that an Indian war of gigantic proportions will ensue, which will astonish the American people and cost millions of treasure. In view of these facts, I respectfully request that you will take such immediate steps as in your judgement will the soonest and most effectually put a stop to these arbitrary and cruel orders." (Carroll, ed., 1978, p. 101)
John B. Sanborn, one of the commissioners who had arranged the 1865 treaty on the Little Arkansas, also complained. He wrote to the Secretary of the Interior that:
"The operations of General Hancock have been so disastrous to the public interests, and at the same time seem to me to be so inhuman, that I deem it proper to communicate my views to you on the subject... For a mighty nation like us to be carrying on a war with a few straggling nomads, under such circumstances, is a spectacle most humiliating, an injustice unparalleled, a national crime most revolting, that must, sooner or later, bring down upon us or our posterity the judgement of Heaven."
But one person thought it was the appropriate course of action - the person who had sanctioned Hancock's expedition - Sherman. In a report to Secretary of War Staton, Sherman stated that:
"My opinion is, if fifty Indians are allowed to remain between the Arkansas and the Platte we will have to guard every stage station, every train, and all railroad working parties. In other words, fifty hostile Indians will checkmate three thousand soldiers. Rather get them out as soon as possible, and it makes little difference whether they be coaxed out by Indian commissioners or killed." (Brown, 1970, p. 153)
Changing his mind, Sherman decided to authorize Colorado to raise volunteers. In a letter to Gov. Hunt, published in the June 21, 1867 issue of the Omaha Weekly Herald, Sherman said that:
It is barely possible the Cheyenne camp, stampeded last month by Hancock at Pawnee Fork, is on the Republican, south of this. Gen. Custer may strike them coming across, but if you will start four companies of three hundred men from Denver at once, say to-morrow, for the head of the Republican...I will have General Potter to muster them in for two months, which will entitle them to pay for themselves and horses as soon as Congress can appropriate the money.
On June 24, Sherman issued orders that all Indians who went beyond their reservations and who were committing crimes were under military control and would be subject to punishment by civil powers. He also authorized civil authorities to be prepared to pursue on horseback "thieving bands of Indians" who were endeavoring to avoid the military. A correspondent from the New York Times asked Sherman if he was permissible for volunteers to pursue the Indians. He reported said, "Certainly; I have no objection. They have a right to punish and kill Indians as they would punish and kill white men, were any found committing depredations and killing innocent people." (New York Times, June 25, 1867)
Just who was this man? He was born Tecumseh Sherman. Because his first name was hard to pronounce, he was nicknamed Cump. His father, Charles Sherman, was a graduate of Dartmouth College, becoming a lawyer and later a judge of the Ohio Supreme Court. Living in New Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Charles Sherman often heard about the Indian Tecumseh, who was the leader of a confederation of tribes from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. He could read and write and was trying to keep his people's land through diplomacy. He was killed at the Battle of the Thames in Canada. Sherman reportedly was ashamed that American soldiers, battle-crazed, had cut strips of skin from the chief's legs for razor strops. (Lewis, 1958, p. 22)
When a son was born on February 8, 1820, Sherman named him Tecumseh, which means Shooting Star. His father was a good friend of a prominent lawyer named Thomas Ewing. Together they often traveled throughout the country on legal business. Tecumseh was nine years old when a neighbor girl came to the school he was attending and said the Sherman children had to come home immediately. They heard that their father was sick, possibly dying, in a town he had been visiting on business. He died there before the family could arrive. Sherman's mother Elizabeth was left with 11 children to raise by herself. Ewing wanted to help her in some way. He decided to raise one of her children. "I want one of them," he said. "You must give me the brightest of the lot, and I will make a man of him." "Take Cump, the red-haired one," his mother said. "He's the smartest." On the feast of St. William be was baptized, and given an additional first name - William.
He came from a religiously diverse background. His mother, who he now lived a few blocks away from, was an Episcopalian, but attended a Presbyterian church. His father had been the founder of Masonry in New Lancaster. Mrs. Ewing was a Roman Catholic. Mr. Ewing was politically conservative in outlook. He was a Federalist. He looked down on religion as something domestic, but also as something that should be encouraged. (p. 33-4) William Sherman went to West Point, along with Phil Sheridan and Ulysses S. Grant. (51-8)
After graduation and following the outbreak of the Mexican War, he was stationed in Monterey, California. He had brought with him a box containing a three-years' supply of socks, drawers and calico shirts. Two officers, new to his unit, saw the box, commenting that they could use some of the items. He said to help themselves. They insisted on paying for the items and from that point on became good friends. They were Captain H.S. Turner and W.H. Warner. (Sherman, 1967, p. 24)
The United States won the Mexican War. Sherman never took part in any armed conflict. While California was temporarily under military control, two men came to headquarters saying that they thought they had found gold. Sherman recalled that he tested the nuggets by hammering them and finding them malleable, said it was gold, indeed. "That gold was the first discovered in the Sierra Nevada, which soon revolutionized the whole country, and actually moved the whole civilized world," he wrote in his autobiography. (p. 40) After visiting the mines at Sutter's Fort, he formed a partnership with Warner in a store at Coloma "to share somewhat in the riches of the land." Warner later surveyed and laid out the city of Sacramento. (p. 58). A year later, Sherman was given orders to instruct Warner to survey the Sierra Nevada Mountains to find a route for a railroad through that range, "a subject that then elicited universal interest." While surveying the Feather River for a possible route, Warner and his party were attacked by Indians. Warner was killed.
The news of Warner's death cast a gloom over all the old Californians, who knew him well. He was a careful, prudent, and honest officer, well qualified for his business, and extremely accurate in all his work. He and I had been intimately associated during our four years together in California, and I felt his loss deeply. The season was then too far advanced to attempt to avenge his death, and it was not until the next spring that a party was sent out to gather up and bury his scattered bones. (pp. 79-80)
Sherman was on hand to help with the resulting immigration and gold rush to California. He said that he found among the immigrants "many of my old personal friends, including Hugh Ewing." The two had hunted rabbits together when they were children growing up in the Ewing household. He wrote that Hugh first proposed to begin a ranch on land Sherman had acquired on the Consumes. However, Sherman instead secured him a position on a relief supply train for the immigrants. (p. 81)
On a return from duty in California, Sherman found much had changed. The Ewings had moved to Washington. Ewing was now arguing before the United States Supreme Court. Under President Taylor, he created the Department of the Interior, bringing together the Land Office, Patent Office and Bureau of Indian Affairs. Sherman walked the city with Ellen Ewing, the Ewings' younger daughter who he had grown up with. He sat in the Senate gallery with Thomas Ewing, Jr., the Ewings' youngest son, who he had also grown up with. He married Ellen in Washington. The wedding was held in the Ewings' mansion near the White House. The marriage ceremony was attended by Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, T. H. Benton, President Taylor and all his cabinet. (p. 84)
With the death of President Taylor and the resulting administrative changes, Ewing was appointed to a seat on the Senate. During this period, his services as an attorney were requested to secure title to a large estate in St. Louis. As a resuilt, much of the property was survey and put up for sale. "I made some purchases, and acquired an intereest, which I have retained more or less ever since," Sherman noted. (p. 89)
Moving to St. Louis, he met there his old friend Turner. Turner persuaded him to leave the military and join his St. Louis-based banking firm. Sherman became a copartner, establishing Lucas, Turner & Co. in San Francisco. The bank's major business was from transactions related to the California gold rush. When the placer mines began to diminish, the bank was closed in 1857. Following the closure of the bank, Sherman moved back to St. Louis. Two of Thomas Ewing's sons, Hugh and Tomas Jr., had established themselves at Leavenworth, Kansas, "where they and their father had bought a good deal of land, some near the town, and some back in the country." (p. 140)
Thomas Ewing offered the general management of Ewings share of the land and Ewing's two sons offerred him an equal coparatnership in their law firm, naming the firm Sherman & Ewing. A year later, he was asked to head a new state university, the Louisiana Seminary of Learning and Military Academy. When Louisiana seded from the Union, he left the academy. Prior to his departure for his home, now in Lancaster, Ohio, he was in constant correspondence with his borther, John , now a Congressman in Washington. During a visit to his brother, he was introduced to President Lincoln by his brother in 1861. Following his brief academic career, he was offered a position as president of the Fifth Street Railroad by Turner, owner of the railroad, and moved to St. Louis again to head it. However, he resigned his position, becoming a colonel of the Thirteenth Regular Infantry at the beginning of the Civil War. (pp. 132-177)
Sherman emerged from the Civil War as the highest commanding officer and the nation's hero. He had became famous for his somewhat autocratic spirit and his strategy of waging war, which included demonstrating the vulneability of the enemy by marching through its undefended regions behind enemy lines. According to Lewis (1978), Sherman had described himself "almost a monarchist" and noted that "his contempt for democracy was well known." (p. 553) As the Civil War was approaching he noted to a friend that the national crisis was not so much a problem of slavery but of anarchy. He observed a "tendency to anarchy everwhere. I have seen it all over America and our only hope is Uncle Sam." The real problem was lack of obedience to law. "This is the real trouble, it is not slavery, it is the democratic spirit which substitutes mere opinions for law." (p. 133-4).
Sherman was distrustful of newspapers - in part because a number of newspapers and newspaper reporters spoke disparangely of him. The Cincinnati Commerical termed Sherman "a perfect monomaniac on the subject of journalism" and that "his favorite often proclaimed plan for the successful management of the war is the suppression of every newspaper in the country." A reporter for the Chicago Tribune also attacked Sherman, writing that, "I know not whether it is insanity or not, but the General...indulged in remarks that made his loyalty doubteful. He even spoke despondingly; said the rebels could never be whipped; talked of a thirty years' war." (Lewis, 1978, p. 197) Sherman, during the Civil War, complained to a superior officer that "these newspapers have us in their power and can destroy us as they please, and this one can destroy my usefulness by depriving me of the confidence of officers and men." (p. 202) His last comments in his autobiography was an invective against newspaper correspondants.
Newspaper correspondents with an army, as a rule, are mischievous. They are the world's gossips, pick up and retail the camp scandal... Moreover, they are always bound to see facts colored by the partisan or political character of their own patraons, and thus bring army officers into the political controversies of the day, which are always mischevious and wrong. Yet, so greedy are the people at large for war news, that it is doubtfull whether any army commander can exclude all reporters, without bringing down on himself a clamor that may imperial his own safety. (Sherman, 1957, p. 408-9)
In waging war, Sherman sought to make a psychological impact on the enemy - and to fight with decisiveness. He had once said during the Civil War that "War is cruelty and you cannot refine it." (Lewis, 1958 p. 636) In the forward to Sherman's autobiography, B.H. Liddell Hart quotes Sherman as making the following statements regarding his Civil War march through Georgia: "This movement is not purely military or strategic, but will illustrate the vulnerability of the South... I propose to demonstrate the vulnerability of the South and make its inhabitants feel that war and individual ruin are synonymous terms... If we can march a well-apponted army right through his territory, it is a demonstration...that we have a power which (Jefferson) Davis cannot resist. This may not be war, but rather statesmanship..." As Hart pointed out, by launching a war against the rear of a people, not merely an army, it set two loyalties against each other - loyalty to family and loyalty to country. By attacking the family, Sherman instilled in the South a sense of helplessness. (Sherman, 1957 pp. xi, xii)
In Sherman's reflections on winning a war, he observed that necessity overrode law in times of war. He said that to do anything effectively, he had to disregard "old blue army-regulations," "to tear it all to pieces - cut the red tape, as it was called - a dangerous thing for an amry to do, for it was calculated to bring the law and authority into contempt; but war was upon us, and overwhelming necessity overrides all law." However, he said "I admit, in its fullest force, the strength of the maxim that the civil law should be superior to the military in time of peace." He also believed that often the military's traditional chain of command hampered effective leadership. Sherman observed that in the "Secretary of War is confided the general care of the military establishement, and his powers are further subdivided into ten distinct and separatae bureaus. The chiefs of these bureaus are under the immediate orders of the Secretary of War, who, through them, in fact commands the army from his office,' but cannot do so in the field' - an absurdity in military if not civil law...Thus they separate themselves more and more from their comrades of the lines... No man can propertly command an army from the rear...the commander thereof should be informed of the ojbect to be accomlished, and left as free as possible to execuite it in his own way...The directing mind must be at the very head of the army -must be seen there, and the effect of his mind and personal energy must be felt by every office and man present with it, to secure the best results."(pp. 404-7)
This was the man. His goal was to remove the Indians between the Arkansas and the Platte, the region through which Union Pacific and the LP&W - the Kansas Pacific - were scheduled to run. He had stated that what was necessary was to get them out as soon as possible, and it made little difference "whether they be coaxed out by Indian commissioners or killed."
An investigating commission reported that summer that most of the Indians wanted peace and recommended an end to the military campaigns against them. On July 20, 1867, Congress decided to "coax" them out, creating an Indian Peace Commission to negotiate a peacefull settlement with the hostile tribes. The commission consisting of eight members, namely, 1. Indian Commissioner Taylor, who had humanitarian views regarding the Indians, 2. Samuel F. Tappan of Colorado, another humanitarian who had spear-headed the investigation of Sand Creek, 3. Senator John B. Henderson of Missouri, chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, 4. John B. Sanborn of Minnesota, who had criticized Hancock expedition, 5. General Sherman, commander of the Division of the Missouri, 6. Alfred H. Terry, commander of the Department of Dakota, 7. retired General William S. Harney, who had had considerable experience on the frontier, and 8. alternate Major General Christopher G. Augur, commander of the Department of the Platte, who later became a regular member of the commission. (Hutton, 1985, p. 33)
John Sherman, writing to his brother General Sherman, mentioned on July 15, 1867, that Congress would probably authorize the formation of a peace commission for the purpose of getting the Indians onto reservations. "The Indian War in an inglorous one," he wrote. "We shall probably pass a bill to authorize you and others to make a treaty with the Indians, with a view to gather them into reservations." Both bothers had been thinking at the same time about the problems regarding the Indians - a problem that the General considered "as important as Reconstruction." On July 16, 1867, the General made the following observations in a letter that crossed in the mails with the one his brother had just sent:
"You have doubtless heard much of the war. The fact is, this contact of the two races had caused universal hostility, and the Indians operate in small, scattered bands, avoiding the posts and well- guarded trains, and hitting little parties who are off their guard. I have a much heavier force on the plains, but they are so large that it is impossible to guard at all points, and the clamor for protection everywhere has prevented our being able to collect a large force to go in to the country where we believe the Indians have hid their families; viz., up on the Yellowstone, and down on the Red River... I have sent full reports to Washington, and hope Congress now will act in one way or the othert. A commission going out can meet only little squads of Indians. They are scattered from Minnesota to Texas, and if they make treaties they won't last twenty-four hours. We must fight the Indians, and force them to collect in agreed-on limits far way form the continental roads. I do think this subject as imporant as Reconstruction." (Sherman, 1894, p. 290-1)
On July 18, 1867, the Omaha Weekly Herald reflected on the course of the Indian and white conflict. It stated that large military forces during the last four years had marched over the region "killing Indians at a cost of half a million of dollars per head." However, it noted that for 8 of the 13 years "we saw hundreds of thousands of unprotected men, women and children camping in perfect security side by side with the Ogallals, Cheyenne and Sioux, not only without fear, but with a certainty of safety." It then said that the cause of the war was the pomotion of war, which could be traced to "selfish interest,." although not selfish interests presently, but begun four years ago.
"We know, moreover, that while the wholesale charges of the Chicago Times against...the people of Colorado are false, infamously false, alleging a selfish interest in them in promoting Indian wars, we do know that they were true of certain men four or five years ago, who sought to bring on the conflict. We know the necessity for protection exists, and we have done our best to secure it. We know, with equal certainty that attacking peaceful Indians in their camps, and destroying their villalges as Hancock did, is indirect murder of white men, women anda children, in exactly the same manner that the blood of everyman, woman and child shed by Indians, is directly traceable to villainous, gratuitous, damnable robberies of them by the white men! We know that the clamor for the extermination of Indians, saying nothing of its inhumanitay, is senseless and absurd. We know that these views are not poular in the West, but we know them to be just views. "
The editorial ended with stating that while they still wanted General Sherman to offfer them protection, they also wanted a rational solution to the problem. In a similar vain, the newspaper commented on July 25, 1867, that the cause of the Indian war was broken treaties broken by the government and the actions of "such wretches as Chivington...the real authors of Indian murder." It commented that:
"The conduct of such men, and the invasion of the country, set apart for Indian occupation by express agreement by the whites, are the sole cause of our Indian wars... Having been taught by experience the utter disregard by the white man of bargins which he himself has dictated, and appealing in vain for years through peaceful means for redress, a portion of these Indians have gone upon the war path, their only mode of obtaining it."
A similar editorial was carried on September 12. It was a response to letter addressed to the editor by John Evans, the former governor of Colorado. The newspaper noted that it did not have enough space to comply with Evans' request to publish his letter, titled "Origin of the Indian War," but commented that Evans "pretty effectively squelches Mr. Tappan's statement that the Indian War orginated near Denver in 1864, but Gov. Evans as effectually squelches himself when he alleges that it commenced in the Minnesota massacre." The editorial writer noted that:
"We believe that the Chivington Massacre and other performances of Colorado radical politicians have had much to do to aggravate and continue an Indian War which was caused by wrongs and outrages committed against these Indians by Indian Agents...That such wrongs have been committed, the Governor admists. Why does he not state who committed them? Governor Evans knows, and so do we."
However, the newspaper did not directly say who had robbed the Indians of what. It did not say why the Indian war was instigated. It did not say who the agent or agents were. On only said that Governor Evans knew and so did they. On August 22, 1867, the newspaper carried an editorial by the New York Express, stating another view of the reason for the Indian wars. It blamed the continuation of the wars on not being able to exercise enough force on the plains to end them, citing Radical Republican policies as the reason. Its comment was in reaction to an attack made on the Pacific Railraod near Plum Creek, 350 miles west of Omaha, noting that "the piling of ties upon the track at night, the murder of the conductors, brakemen, with the firing of the train, etc., makes one of the most horrible of our numerous Indian tragedies." The Express was quoted as saying:
"How, and why, all this is obvious. The U.S. Army is kept down South, to keep in subjection ten States of our old Union, and to force upon these States Negro Government to degrade the white men there... Thus, to keep in subjegation eight millions of White people, to ride rough-shod over them by Negroes, - the People of the West, and of the Pacific, have their means of intercommunication cut off. Such is the geneeral Radical policy of the day."
On September 19, 1867, commissioners Taylor, Sherman, Harney, Sanborn, Henderson, Tappan and Terry arrived by rail at Platte City station. They were there to meet with the Sioux. They were the same commissioners who would later met with the Cheyenne, Arapahoe and Kiowa, resulting in the Medicine Lodge Treaty. Commissioner Taylor stated the purpose of the meeting:
"We are sent out here to inquire and find out what has been the trouble. We want to hear from your own lips your grievances and complaints. My friends, speak fully, speak freely, and speak the whole truth... War is bad, peace is good. We must choose the good and not the bad... I await what you say."
Spotted Tail answered:
"The Great Father has made raids stretching east and west. Those roads are the cause of all our troubles... The country where we live is overrun by whites. All our game is gone. This is the cause of greaat trouble. I have been a friend of the whites, and am now... If you stop your roads we can get our game. That Powder River country belongs to the Sioux..."
He concluded by simply saying:
"My friends, help up; take pity on us. "
Sherman explained the government's position.
"The Powder River road was built to furnish our men with provisions. The Great Father thought that you consented to give permission for that road at Laramie last spring, but it seems that some of the Indians were not there, and have gone to war. While the Indians continue to make war upon the road it will not be given up. But if, on examination, at Laramie in November, we find that the road hurts you, we will give it up or pay for it. If you have any claims, present them to us at Laramie."
In the issue of November 7, 1867 the Omaha Week Herald commented on the Rocky Mountain News' blind eye to the real cause of the Indian wars and to the fact that peace with the Indians was in the territory's own best interest. With its opening statement, the Herald also linked the editorial content of the News to the interests of Evans. The Herald loosely associated Evans with Chivington and political plots, all in relation to the continuation of the Indian wars.
"Governor Evans' organ, the News, is hammering away with just complaints against the government for not giving protection from Indian incursions, and with demands for legislation that shall encourage development in the West. The paper has nothing to say of the crimes of Chivington and the political plots which led to the Indian outbreak. The fact is, the News has a blind eye to the patent causes of Indian disturbance whence Colorado has been incalculably injured in her mining and commercial interests, nor has it the wisdom to perceive that peace with Indians is the great object for which it should labor, if it would promote the real welfare of Colorado."
In an attempt to stop the Indian wars, on November 9, 1867, the commissioners met again at Fort Laramie. They had expected to meet with the Sioux. They were greeted by only a few Crow chiefs. While the Crows were considered friendly, they were equally as opposed to white encroachment as the Sioux. Bear Tooth explained the Crow's complaint:
"Your young men have devastated the country and killed my animals, the elk, the deer, the antelope, my buffalo... If I went into your country to kill your animals, what would you say? Should I not be wrong, and would you not make war on me? "
A few days later messengers arrived from Red Cloud. He would come to Laramie when the forts were withdrawn from the Powder River. The message stated his position bluntly:
"The Great Father sent his soldiers out here to spill blood. I did not first commence the spilling of blood... If the Great Father kept white men out of my country, peace would last forever, but if they disturb me, there will be no peace... The Great Spirit raised me in this land, and has raised you in another land. What I have said I mean. I mean to keep this land."
In the spring of 1868 the same peace commission, including Sherman, arrived at Fort Laramie. They wanted to meet personally with Red Cloud and sign a peace treaty. Red Cloud sent a messenger with a note:
"We are on the mountains looking down on the soldiers and the forts. When we see the soldiers moving away and the forts abandoned, then I will come down and talk."
The commissioners eventually left in frustration, obtaining only a few signatures of minor chiefs. As the year progress through May and June, conflicting stories on the status of the Indian appeared. On May 6, 1868 the Omaha Weekly Herald reported that Indians killed two men near Sidney Station and for others near Plum Creek. The article stated that:
"We have seen the operations of war to protect our people for years, and all the while we have also seen the futile results of it. We have hoped that the Peace Commission could plant these Indians on reserves, far removed from our settlements, and that thereby, under old treaties with them made new, our people could enjoy the security of former days. Our memory unites with our experience to recall the time, not far gone, when a white woman, or a white child, or a white man, hundreds of miles from the reach of armed protection, were safe in the camps of the Ogallala, the Cheyenne, and the Brule. - We remember the time when those Indians allowed an enormous commerce to cross this Western expanse without hindrance or interruption, when life and property were far mor secure from Indian attacks than from the attacks of bad white men. Thousands of men in Nebraska remember those times as well as we do. "But," say our friends, "these times are past - why talk about them? Why sit idly by and talk of peace whilst your neighbors and friends area being murdered by these red devils? Why not rather declare war and wage it... We are for war, if we cannot have peace, because that is the only alternative. We are for anything and everything that can stop or lessen these accumulated outrages upon our people."
The Omaha Weekly Herald on June 10 praised Generals Harney and Sanborn for helping bring about an "enduring peace with the red men" in their attempts to fill the agreements made by the Peace Commission. In its July 7, 1868 issue, an article quoted a letter written on June 29 from the North Platte:
"Dear Herald - On Saturday some 800 Indians under the chiefs Big Mouth and Swift Bear, camped near town, and today Col. Matt Patrick is engaged shipping their wagons across the north fork of the Platte river, upon the U. P. R. R. Saturday afternoon Col. P., in company with Rev. T. B. Lemon, P.E. Omaha district, and lady, Mrs. Keith, and other ladies, visited the Indian camp, and the warm reception the Colonel met with from men, women, and children, showed how popular he stood as an agent among a people usually hard to please."
The paper's May 27 issue noted the "complete success of the Commission in arranging a basis for an enduring peace with the red men." However, it also added that:
"Red Cloud, it is true, fails to come in, not because he does not want peace, but from fear, and because he insists upon the evacuation of the Powder River country, according to agreement, as a preliminary. But his power to make war, if he desired it, has departed...It is a well authenticated fact, that out of the 60,000 Indians not 300 warriors are followers of Red Cloud."
The War Department, however, apparently did not share the newspaper's low regard for Red Cloud. It decided to abandon the forts along the Bozeman trail. On July 29, 1868, troops left Fort C.F. Smith. The Sioux came the next morning and burned down all the buildings. A month later Fort Phil Kearny was abandoned. The Sioux also burned it. A few days later, the military departed from Fort Reno.
On November 6, 1868, Red Cloud, accompanied with numerous Sioux warriors, came to Fort Laramie and signed the peace treaty. (Brown, 1970, pp. 123-141) After meeting with the Sioux, the commissioners directed their attentions to the south, home of the Southern Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, Comanche and Prairie Apache. A reservation had been selected for them south of the Arkansas. As stipulated in the Treaty of the Little Arkansas it was not in the state of Kansas. It was directly south of the Kansas border. It was now time for Southern Plains Indians to go to Indian Territory.
The site selected for the peace council was Medicine Lodge Creek, sixty miles south of Fort Larned. It was to be held in early October of 1867. Bent, as an interpreter now for Wynkoop, was chosen as an emissary to bring in various tribal members. Black Kettle agreed to come. The Dog Soldiers were reluctant. Roman Nose said he would not come if Sherman was going to be there. But eventually he agreed to come. On September 27, 1867, Roman Nose and Gray Bear met with Superintendent Thomas Murphy at Medicine Lodge Creek. Murphy had arrived ahead of time to handle the arrangements for the council. Murphy wanted to know why the Cheyennes continued to raid. "Because Hancock burned our village," Roman Nose replied.
On October 21, 1867, the Kiowas and Comanches signed the treaty, promising to share in a reservation with the Cheyennes and Arapaho, and to confine their buffalo hunting to ranges below the Arkansas. However, the Cheyennes did not want to sign. Buffalo Chief, a Cheyenne warrior, said they wanted to retain the use of the hunting grounds along the Smoky Hill. "Let us own the country together - Cheyennes should still hunt there," he reasoned. However, the commissioners would not agree to that. The Cheyenne and Arapaho eventually signed. After they signed, they all began moving south to Indian Territory. All left their homeland except for about 400 warriors, who headed north. Among those headed north was Roman Nose, who did not sign. (Brown, 1970, pp. 153-7)
The Treaty of Medicine Lodge Creek gave the Cheyenne and Arapaho a reservation in the northern part of Indian Territory, embracing land south of the Kansas border between a loop formed by the Cimaron River and the Arkansas River. The Kiowa's and Comanche's reservation encompassed land roughly bounded by the 98th and 100th meridians and encompassing an area between the Washita River south to the Red River. Its northern border included Fort Cobb. Both tribes agreed to relinquish "all right to occupy permanently the territory outside of their reservation." However, as mentioned, they reserved the right "to hunt on any lands south of the Arkansas so long as the buffalo may range thereon in such numbers as to justify the chase." No white person was permitted on the old reservation for three years. These tribes had thus, in few short years, given up enormous tracts of land in Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, Kansas and Texas for two relatively small reservations bordering scores of other tribes in Indian Territory. Sherman, as reported by Correspondent Henry M. Stanley, had told the Indians that if they didn't agree then to choose a reservation it would be too late, since the progress of American could not be stopped:
"If you don't choose your homes now it will be too late next year... We will build iron roads, and you cannot stop the locomotives any more than you can stop the sun or moon... Our people in the East...if they make up their minds to fight they will come out as thick as the herd of buffaloes, and if you continue fighting you will be all killed.... This commission is not only a peace commission but a war commission also. We will be kind to you if you keep the peace, but if you won't listen to reason we are ordered to make war upon you in a different manner from what we have done before." (Lewis, 1958, p. 598)
They would learn in a year what war in a "different manner" would be. Those signing the two treaties included Bull Bear, Black Kettle, Little Rock and Tall Bull of the Cheyenne, Little Raven and Little Big Mouth of the Arapaho, Satank and Satanta and Stumbling Bear of the Kiowa and Ten Bears of the Comanches. The written terms of the treaty with the Cheyenne and Arapaho began with the stipulation that if an Indian committed a "wrong or depredation", that person was to be tried and punished according to the laws of the United States. If the tribe refused to give up the accused person, money would be withheld from the annuities as compensation for damages. They also agreed to compel their children to go to school. They would be given seeds and agricultural implements if the agent was satisfied they wanted to farm and would be instructed in how to farm. They would be provided a blacksmith. Males would receive "a suit of good, substantial woolen clothing, consisting of coat, pantaloons, flannel, shirt, hat, and a pair of home-made socks." Females would receive "a flannel skirt, a pair of woolen hose," and 24 yards of cloth. They specifically agreed to withdraw all opposition to the construction of the railroads being built on the Smoky Hill River and along the Platte rivers. The treaty ended by restating that they had the right to hunt south of the Arkansas River. (Kappler, 1972, pp. 977-989)
"This was, in a way," Bent said, "the most important treaty ever signed by the Cheyennes, and it marked the beginning of the end of the Cheyenne as a free and independent warrior and hunter, and eventually changed his old range, from Saskatchewan to Mexico, to the narrow confines of a reservation in Oklahoma." (Hyde, 1968, p. 285)
Some refused to sign. Others delayed. As mentioned, Roman Nose did not sign. Tall Bull did not want to sign. He had signed the Treaty of the Little Arkansas and following that Hancock had burned his village at Pawnee Fork. He sat in sullen defiance. "Damn you, sign," General Harney yelled at him. He still did not sign. Senator Henderson, through interpreter Smith, told Tall Bull that the President would not recognize the treaty if the "great Cheyenne brave" did not sign. He put his mark reluctantly on the paper. (Hoig, 1976, p. 36)
In presenting a version of the treaty to the Kiowas and the Comanches, Ten Bears, a Comanche, did not want to sign, but did. "I was born upon the prairie," he said, "where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures and where everything drew a free breath. I want to die there and not within walls." Satanta, the Kiowa chief, was bitter.
"The white chief seems not to be able to control his braves. He sometimes becomes angry when he sees the wrongs his people commit on the red men, and his voice is as loud as the roaring wind; but like the wind, it soon dies away and leave the sullen calm of unheeded oppression... The white man grows jealous of his red brother. He once came to trade; he now comes as a soldier. He once put his trust in our friendship and wanted no shield but our fidelity; but now he builds forts and plants big guns upon their walls... He now covers his face with a cloud of jealousy and anger, and tells us to be gone, as the offended master speaks to his dog... You know what is best for us; do what is best. Teach us the road to travel, and we shall not depart from it forever. For your sakes the green grass shall not be stained with the blood of the whites; your people shall again be our people and peace shall be our mutual heritage." (Rister, 1944, p. 58)
Satanta ended by saying:
"Before leaving, as I now intend to go, I come to say that the Kiowas and Comanches have made with you a peace, and they intend to keep it. If it brings prosperity to us, we of course will like it the better. If it brings poverty and adversity, we will not abandon it. It is our contract and it shall stand." (Omaha Weekly Herald, Nov. 4, 1967)
The Omaha Weekly Herald, which reported that portion of Satanta's speech, parenthetically commented that Satanta, "the old war chief of the tribe made a speech which we hope Ex-Gov. John Evans will read and inwardly digest. He will see in it how the red savages can instruct enlightened whites in lessons of fidelity to plighted faith." Buffalo Chief spoke for the Cheyenne. He made a specific claim for the Cheyennes to the country north of the Arkansas. Here, he said, is "where the bones of our fathers lie buried. You think you are doing a great deal for us by giving these presents to us, but we prefer to live as formerly. If you gave us all the goods you could give, yet we would prefer our own life, to live as we have done. You give us presents and then take our land - that provokes war." (Hoig, 1976, p. 35) But he, too, signed. Why did they sign?
Commenting on why the Cheyenne signed, Hoig related that the written treaty for the Cheyennes and Arapaho did not agree with what the Cheyennes were saying. The treaty provided for hunting rights on land south of the Arkansas River. The Cheyennes were calling for hunting rights north of the river. Something had to be done - and it was. Senator Henderson called the chiefs together and talked with them at length through in interpreter. According to the reporters present, the chiefs appeared to respond in agreement before returning to their seats. It was learned later that Henderson had said they could, indeed, hunt north of the Arkansas. But while it had been verbally understood by the Cheyennes as being part of the treaty, it had not been incorporated in writing. (Hoig, 1976, p. 36)
Correspondent Stanley called the treaty a "mock treaty." He said that those signing the treaty had no way of knowing what they were agreeing to because the treaty had not been read to them by the interpreter. Without a formal reading, they would have no way of knowing crucial agreements had been left out.
The Chiefs have signed it merely as a matter of form. Not one word of the treaty was read to them. How, therefore, can the treaty have been a success? Tall Bear and Buffalo Chief, even while they signed, said:
"We will hold that country between the Arkansas and the Platte together. We will not give it up yet, as long as the buffalo and elk are roaming through the country." Do the above words seem anything like giving up all claim to that country? And yet, if a white man, acting under the knowledge that all that country belongs to the whites, will go and make a home for himself, it will soon be a burning brand - a signal for war. If war is once thus commenced who are to blame? The commissioners. (Hoig, 1976, pp. 36-7)
Captain Albert Barnitz, Seventh Cavalry, observed in his diary that the Cheyennes "had no idea that they are giving up, or that they have every given up the country which they claim as their own - the country north of the Arkansas. The treaty all amounts to nothing, and we will certainly have another war sooner or later with the Cheyennes. "
However, complications ensued regarding the provisions to feed the Indians. The annuities promised by the treaty were delayed. Congress had become embroiled with the impeachment proceeding of President Johnson. The proposed Indians Territory reservations remained unopened. It was not until late July 1868 that Congress authorized expenditure of $500,000 to fulfil the obligations of the Medicine Lodge Treaty. In the meantime, the Indians, deprived of their traditional hunting grounds and dependent now on the government for food, were going hungry. Sherman, himself, commented on the injustice of this situation, writing to his wife from Kansas on July 15, 1868 that "The poor Indians are starving. We kill them if they attempt to hunt and if they keep within the Reservations they starve. Of course we (the peace commission) recommended they should receive certain food for a time...but Congress makes no provision and of course nothing is done. I wish Congress could be impeached." (Hutton, 1985, p. 14-5) When the half million dollar expenditure was authorized, it was given to Sherman for disbursement, instead of the Indian Bureau. "In reality, if not by law," Hutton observed, "this signaled the transfer of Indian affairs from the Interior Department to the army." (p. 42)
Washita - Genocide on the Great Plains, Chapter One
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