by James Horsley
Between the Arkansas and the Platte rivers run such rivers as the Republican,
Solomon, Saline and Smoky Hill. Along the Smoky Hill River, proceeding west
through Leavenworth, ran the Kansas Pacific Railroad. As mentioned, the Union
Pacific traveled along the Platte further north. On October 31, 1867, Omaha
Weekly Herald noted that the connection to Hayes City on the Kansas branch of the
Pacific Railroad had been completed. "The United States Express and Santa Fe
Stage Company will make Hayes City their winter terminus, running thence to
Denver City and Santa Fe." In late 1867 General Philip H. Sheridan had
relieved Hancock of his command. Sheridan's department embraced the states of
Missouri, Kansas, Indian Territory and New Mexico. According to Sheridan, the
department had been formed to control Indians west of the Missouri River,
"they having become very restless and troublesome because of the building of
the Pacific railroads through their hunting-grounds and the encroachments of
pioneers, who began settling in middle and western Kansas and eastern Colorado
immediately after the war." (Sheridan, 1888, p. 282) In his autobiography he
noted that during the past two or three years the Indians had occasionally
attacked settlers, surveying and construction parties of the Kansas-Pacific
railroad, emigrant trains, and stage stations along the Smokey Hill route to
Denver and the Arkansas route to New Mexico. However, he said, when he had
relieved Hancock the department was "comparatively quiet," military
operations having been suspended to conclude the treaties with the Cheyenne,
Arapahos, Kiowas and Comanches. Prior to this peace effort, Sheridan took a leave
of absence. (p. 283) On resuming duty following his leave of absence in the
spring of 1868, Sheridan discovered that the treaty arranged with the southern
tribes at Medicine Lodge had been misunderstood. In his autobiography, Sheridan
noted that "many of the young men were bitterly opposed to what had been
done, and claimed that most of the signatures had been obtained by
misrepresentation." (p. 284) Sheridan decided to go to Fort Larned and Fort
Dodge, since the Indians were congregated near these forts at Pawnee and Walnut
creeks. He wanted to find out first hand what was going on.
It took but a few days at Dodge to discover that great discontent existed about the Medicine Lodge concessions, to see that the young men were chafing and turbulent, and that it would require much tact and good management on the part of the Indian Bureau to persuade the four tribes to go quietly to their reservations, under an agreement which, when entered into, many of them protested had not been fully understood.
Sheridan said that a delegation of prominent chiefs called on him to express their grievances and to bring to the notice of the Government the alleged wrongs done them." However, Sheridan said he refused to meet with them since "Congress had delegated to the Peace Commission the whole matter of treating with them, and a council might lead only to additional complications." He added that his refusal "left them without hope of securing better terms, or of even delaying matters longer." He said that from that point on "they were more than ever reckless and defiant."
Denunciations of the treaty became outspoken, and as the young braves grew more and more insolent every day, it amounted to conviction that, unless by some means the irritation was allayed, hostilities would surely be upon us when the buffalo returned to their summer feeding grounds between the Arkansas and the Platte. (Sheridan, 1888, p, 285-6)
Troops under General William B. Hazen were scheduled to bring the Indians from Fort Larned to Indian Territory. Sheridan said that if an Indian war occurred those who would be most at risk were the "settlers in middle and western Kansas, who, entirely ignorant of the dangers hanging over them, were laboring to build up homes in a new country." (p. 286) To calm the Indians down, he supplied them with abundant rations and sent three scouts and interpreters among them as "mediators." Through such influences, he believed there were "good chances of preserving peace, and of inducing the discontented to go quietly to their reservations in the Indian Territory as soon as General Hazen, the representative of the Peace Commissioners, was ready to conduct them there from For Larned." (p. 287) Sheridan said he put his "mediators" under charge of an army officer and directed him "to send them out to visit among the different tribes, in order to explain what was intended by the treaty of Medicine Lodge, and to make every effort possible to avert hostilities." He said they were sent into the Indian camps at the headwaters of the Pawnee and Walnut creeks, which were south of the Smoky Hill, Solomon and Saline rivers, and to camps near Fort Wallace, at the headwaters of the Smoky Hill. (p. 287) However, as summer and the hunting season came, the Indians did not respond as Sheridan had hoped. For instance, he noted that "in July the encampments about Fort Dodge began to break up, each band or tribe moving off to some new location north of the Arkansas, instead of toward its proper reservation to the south of that river." (p. 288) Sheridan's primary concern was the protection these two railroads, the Union Pacific and the Kansas Pacific . His task was facilitated by a high degree of cooperation between the railroad and the military. Most persons affiliated with the railroad had military background and interests. Construction bosses, surveyors and engineers were almost all former military men. Grenville M. Dodge, chief of engineer for the Union Pacific, had commanded the Sixteenth Corps during the Civil War and had been commander of the Department of the Missouri during 1865. And, as mentioned, both Palmer, president of the Kansas Pacific, and Wright, superintendent,of the Kansas Pacific, were former officers in the Civil War and friends of Sherman. (Hutton, 1985, p. 39) According to Sheridan, the railroads were "new factors that cannot be ignored in the settlement of the Indian question." As Hutton pointed out "the waves of whites brought by the railroads quickly pushed the Indians from his range, destroyed the game, and fenced the land." Further, the railroads gave the military quick and inexpensive access to the West, allowing troops to mass at strategic points. (Hutton, 1985, p. 174) In the 1867 Annual Report of the Secretary of War, Sherman summed up his views:
" When these two great thoroughfares reach the base of the Rocky Mountains, and when the Indian title to roam at will over the country lying between them is extinguished, then the solution of this most complicated question of Indian hostilities will be comparatively easy, for this belt of country will naturally fill up with our own people, who will permanently separate the hostile Indians of the north from those of the south, and allow us to direct our military forces one or the other at pleasure if thereafter they continue their acts of hostility. " (Athearn, 1956, p. 186)
In a letter on May 10, 1868, Sherman mentioned a sardonic method of resolving the conflict, writing to Sheridan that "I think it would be wise to invite all the sportsmen of England & America there this fall for a Grand Buffalo hunt, and make one grand sweep of them all. Until the Buffaloes & consequent(ly) the Indians are out from between the Roads we will have collisions & trouble." On June 17, 1868, Sherman wrote his brother John about the buffalo and the railroad: "The commission for present peace had to concede a right to hunt buffaloes as long as they last, and they may lead to collisions, but it will not be long before all the buffaloes are extinct near and between the railroads, after which the Indians will have no reason to approach either railroad..." (Sherman, 1894, p. 320) The Solomon River ran parallel to the Kansas Pacific Railroad. Along the Solomon and Saline rivers numerous settlements had begun to spring up. Settlers also had begun to buy land near the railroad in response to advertising campaigns by land companies. "The lands are located in the far-famed Solomon Valley and its tributaries, and within twenty miles of the Kansas Pacific Railway," read one circular. (Gates, 1954, p. 233) On August 12, 1868, a party of Cheyennes, including a few Arapahos and Sioux, attacked several white settlements on the Solomon and Saline rivers. The group committed murder and rape and burned the settlements. Several days later two of Sheridan's scouts, the "mediators" were attacked by a group of Indians as they were riding away from a meeting with an Indian encampment. One was killed and the other wounded. In his autobiography, Sheridan recalled the attacks in the Solomon Valley:
" Leaving the Saline, this war-party crossed over to the valley of the Solomon, a more thickly settled region, and where the people were in better circumstances, their farms having been started two or three years before. Unaware of the hostile character of the raiders, the people here received them in the friendliest way, providing food, and even giving them ammunition, little dreaming of what was impending. These kindnesses were requited with murder and pillage, and worse, for all the women who fell into their hands were subjected to horrors indescribable by words. Here also the first murders were committed, thirteen men and two women being killed. Then, after burning five houses and stealing all the horses they could find, they turned back toward the Saline, carrying away as prisoners two little girls named Bell, who have never been heard since (Sheridan, 1888, p. 291). "
The remedy, according to Sheridan, was to force the Indians onto their new reservations.
These, and many minor raids which followed, made it plain that a general outbreak was upon us. The only remedy, therefore, was to subjugate the savages immediately engaged in the forays by forcing the several tribes to settle down on the reservations set apart by the treaty of Medicine Lodge (p. 295).
A terse headline was carried in the Rocky Mountain News on August 25, 1868 under the headline "Order from Sheridan."
General Sheridan has issued an order that in consequence of the recent murder of twenty-two unarmed citizens in the State of Kansas, and other acts of open hostility by Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians, the Generals commanding the districts will forcibly remove these Indians to their reservations south of Kansas, and they shall be compelled to deliver up the perpetrators of the outrages. All persons are forbidden to have intercourse with or give assistance to these Indians until notice is given that the requirements of this order have been carried out.
On August 31, the Rocky Mountain News commented on the recent "outbreak," tracing the history of conflicts between settlers and the Indians:
" The West, with its weak and widely scattered settlements, has been constantly harassed for four or five years, until, in its exasperation, it insists on one policy and but one--extermination. But in the meanwhile, has the Government been idle? No, it has appointed commission after commission to investigate the matter on the ground, and try and find some way of permanently and satisfactorily settling it; and it has kept armies in the field for the last six years...Since 1862, the military operations against the Plains Indians have cost not less than $25,000,000 a year. The West, as we have said before, demands extermination. It is not the Republicans only, but the whole civilized sentiment of the East and of the world that protests against this. Still, it has been adopted, with slight modification, amounting to the same thing in effect. The plan is to remove such Indians as desire to be peaceable from all contact with the whites, and to exterminate the rest. This is actually being done by Sherman, and those who denounce him are only inviting more murder and torture and devastation, drawing it upon their own and their neighbors' heads. "
Another editorial comment in the Rocky Mountain News, September 7, 1868, included a brief review of the events that had lead up to the Indian attacks, stating that they could be traced back to the conflicts preceding Sand Creek. It noted that the Third Colorado Volunteers were sent to the field, "suffered incredible hardships in the early winter of that year, and at length, after a forced march, days and nights, through snow almost waist deep, fought the battle of Sand Creek, and won a decided victory--one of the half dozen or less, recorded in the history of the West." However, the newspaper commented, those who took part in the attack were unjustly condemned:
" For that they were maligned as murderers, and Colorado looked upon ever since by thousands of people as a land of barbarians, outlaws, and cutthroats. The hounding hue and cry was started by our own citizens--shame to say it--men who, for certain political or personal objects, were willing to see their neighbors, friends, and relatives butchered, or, escaping that fate, would damn them in history as unworthy the name of civilized people. Thank Heaven, most of them have since removed to other scenes, social exiles, driving out by public opinion, if not by self-accusing conscience. "
The paper then discussed the resultant investigation:
" By tireless industry they carried out their infamous ends; plied every committee of investigation, every officer sent West to examine into the facts and the situation; prejudiced them beforehand, that almost to this day the great mass of people East look upon the people of Colorado as a set of savages who massacre friendly Indians simply for their own gratification. Among their allies in this infamous plot the most willing, able and mischievous was Senator James R. Doolittle of Wisconsin; notorious before as a political renegade and now doubly damned as a renegade to his race and to civilization. "
The editorial also criticized others sent to investigate Sand Creek, including Lieut. Col. Tappan, inferring that the investigation was unfair and biased. It mentioned that the Indians were "pretty will whipped at Sand Creek" but that now Arapaho and Cheyennes had appeared almost simultaneously along the border settlements, "over the very ground they devastated four years ago." It said that the Indian attacks "...came like a clap of thunder to every isolated settlement from the Platte to the Arkansas; from the Middle Colorado to the heart of Kansas. It was more desperate, more determined and more bloody than the attack of four years ago. It found the country less prepared for defense because, under the persistent representation of the Indian commissioners, the troops had all been withdrawn and the posts, along the eastern border of our Territory, all abandoned. The people were unprepared because the outbreak was unexpected. It was natural that much consternation should ensure. Reports were exaggerated; the truth is bad enough. People became clamorous for relief and protection. "
With Sherman's authorization for troops and the formation of citizen militia groups, the paper believed quiet would be again restored:
" We are satisfied that a few days will see our frontier, and the routes of travel, so environed with troops and patrolled that all danger will be passed. In the meantime the best protection available is the very kind that has been resorted to; the organization of all the force possible in threatened localities. No murders have occurred near Lathem since the first onslaught, because the citizens there at once organized, turn upon their foes and took the aggressive. They fought the Indians in their own way, and outwitted them at their own games "
In an attempt to discover who had committed the attacks in the Solomon and Saline valleys, Wynkoop met with Cheyenne chief Little Rock at Fort Larned, asking him to find who was responsible. Little Rock said one of the persons was the brother of White Antelope. White Antelope had been killed at Sand Creek. "Do you know the name of the principal men of this party that committed the depredations, besides White antelope's brother?" Wynkoop questioned. "There were Medicine Arrow's oldest son, name Tall Wolf; Red Nose, who was one of the men who outraged the woman, Big Head's son named Porcupine Bear; and Sand Hill's brother, known as the Bear That Goes Ahead." Chief Porcupine Bear, who was a Cheyenne and had a son Porcupine Bear, was also killed at Sand Creek. As Indians often had several names, it is conceivable that the Porcupine Bear mentioned was the same one who lost his father at Sand Creek. "You told me your nation wants peace; will you, in accordance with your treaty stipulations, deliver up the men who you have named as being the leaders of the party who committed the outrages named?" Wynkoop asked. After discussing in more detail who should be held responsible, Little Rock agreed to attempt to bring them in. "I am willing to deliver them up, and will go back to the tribe and use my best endeavors to have them surrendered. I am but one man, and cannot answer for the entire nation." Wynkoop concluded by saying that "I want you to return to your tribes and tell the chiefs and head men when assembled the demand I now speak--tell them I think that complying with my demand is the only thing that will save their entire nation from a long and destructive war." Little Rock never returned to Fort Larned. Wynkoop wrote to Thomas Murphy, superintendent of Indian Affairs, saying that he felt that those accused of the depredations would not be delivered to him:
" Though many may be inclined to deliver up the guilty parties, I am afraid this cannot be accomplished, and therefore knowing that the majority of the Cheyennes feel as Little Rock does in the matter, that they deprecate war and would prevent their people from entering into hostilities by every means in their power, yet they will be powerless to restrain their young men when once they fairly enter into it. "
Wykoop had a suggestion, a suggestion that was to be the bases for the war that followed. He suggested calling in all Indians who wanted peace. Those who responded to the call would be protected with troops and those who did not respond would be considered at war. "By this means, if war takes place, which I consider inevitable, we can be able to discriminate between those who deserve punishment and those who do not," he told Murphy. (Hoig, 1976, p. 47-51) In the mean time, Sheridan informed Sherman of the Indian's attacks against the settlers. Sherman responded with an immediate call to "compel their removal south of the Kansas line, and in pursuing to kill if necessary. This amounts to war, but I hope only on a small scale." (Hoig, 1976, p. 46-52) In a letter to Secretary of War John M. Schofield, Sherman was more explicit:
" All the Cheyennes & Arapahoes are now at war. Admitting that some of them have not done acts of murder, rape, etc., still they have not restrained those who have; nor have they on demand given up the criminals as they agreed to do. The treaty made at Medicine Lodge is, therefore, already broken by them... No better time could be possible chosen than the present for destroying or humiliating those bands that have so outrageously violated their treaties & begun a devastating war without one particle of provocation; and after a reasonable time given for the innocent to withdraw, I will solicit an order from the President declaring all Indians who remain outside of their lawful reservations to be outlaws, and commanding all people--soldiers & citizens--to proceed against them as such." (Kinsley, 1968, p. 78)
This, in effect, would give anyone the legal right to kill any Indian found off a reservation.
The Omaha Weekly Herald on September 2, 1868, carried a comment on Sherman's statement on war "on a small scale."
The New York Tribune's correspondent at Washington says General Sherman, on receiving intelligence of Indian massacres on Solomon's Fork, after repeating the orders to Sheridan to pursue and kill the Indians, if necessary, said: "This amounts to war, but I hope only on a small scale..." This means war on a large scale as to duration and consequences. Not as to the destruction of human life, for neither Indians nor troops will suffer much. Not Indians, for they cannot be caught. Not soldiers, for the same reason. Innocent men, women and children are to be the real suffers. Great interests affecting all of our people and the progress of settlement, in Nebraska, in Colorado, and in Wyoming, are likewise to suffer in this Indian war "on a small scale..."
The newspaper saw another "Seminole War" coming and again looked back to the days of peace between whites and Indians:
Our feeble voice has been consistently and diligently raised to ave the old order of things secured, when white men and women and white property were as safe in a Sioux or Cheyenne village or camp; and a great deal safer, than they are in the city of Chicago or New York.
The editorial writer then launched a searing comment as to why the war was at hand:
" The war of robbery of Indians may have gone too far. Sand Creek humanity, inspired by a professored ambassador of Jesus Christ, the Master, [Chevington] may have done its work too thoroughly. Indeed, it is getting to be clear that this is the fact. "
The solution, according to the newspaper, was to finish off the problem with war--total war:
" We cannot recall the wrongs of the past. But one duty remains, and that is, to protect our people from the horrors of savage brutality. Give us troops and plenty of them. Line the Union Pacific road with bayonets. If we must have war, let us have it now and in earnest. The sooner and the more of it the better. "
Raiding, indeed, began to sweep the plains. In the September 5 New York Tribune six attacks involving Indians were reported. A wagon train from Mexico was attacked on August 28 at Pawnee Fork on the "old Sante Fe route" by a large party of Arapaho and Cheyenne Indians. They killed the people, scalped them and burned their bodies with the wagons. Another wagon train with 75,000 pounds of wool was attacked at Cimaron Crossing. A large force of Cheyenne Indians headed north to strike the Pacific Railroad between the North Platte and Julesburg. Three men were killed near Colorado City. A party of settlers fought a band of Indians on Crows Creek, killing two Indians. A proclamation by S. J. Crawford, governor of Kansas, was printed on September 16, 1868, in the Leavenworth Evening Bulletin. It authorized, in response to the "recent acts of atrocity perpetrated by hostile Indians upon citizens of Kansas," the raising of a militia of five companies of cavalry. In an overview of the mounting war efforts under the headline "Lo, the Poor Indian," the September 17, 1868 Leavenworth Evening Bulletin derided the performance of the peace commissions, postulating that they only served to arm and feed the Indian:
" The news from the Western frontier continues to be exciting. The noble red man is getting hungry and out of powder--wants more Peace Commissioners with blankets, guns and ammunition, in order to be better prepared to take the war path; we think, however, that the days of Peace Commissioners, with all their foolish trappings and parades has passed into history, not adding anything to the laurels of any person connected with them. "
The article noted that the military, especially the "gallant Phil Sheridan," was the only solution to the "Indian question," and that the specific remedy was "terrible and speedy retribution for the crimes done, as a sure guaranty that they will not be repeated." And what form should this retribution be? It was to be one without mercy.
" All the mock sympathy for the plains Indians is not only foolish but wrong; they interpret mercy to mean weakness. They will be peaceable when they are made to feel that we will mete out to them the same treatment they have meted to the settlers; severe and speedy punishment is the only cure. "
The paper called for the people of Leavenworth to be represented in the troops to help rescue "the brave men who stand upon the frontier, opening up the path of Empire." But it had to be done now to encourage immigration. The newspaper also used a term that appears repeatedly in the headlines of newspapers across the country at that time: "conquering a peace." Peace would only come by conquest:
" If this matter is not definitely settled this fall, immigration will be retarded and business of all kinds will suffer; but with the question successfully solved, the next year will witness the greatest immigration Kansas has ever had. Let us, then, work for the solution of the Indian question on the basis of conquering a peace that will come to stay. "
An experimental method initially was used to mount a campaign against the Indians. A small force of 53 men was assembled. It consisted of military officers and experienced frontiersmen. Being unencumbered by supply wagons, it was thought that it could operate quickly in pursuit of the Indians. Such a strategy was employed after observing that Hancock and Custer were unable to catch and defeat the Plains Indians. The group was under the command of Col. George A. Forsyth. It had nicknamed itself the "Solomon Avengers." (Hoig, 1976. pp. 54-7) They left Fort Hays to "beat out the country between the Smoky Hills and the Republican rivers." After being in the field about two weeks, their camp was attacked on September 17 by a group of Dog Soldiers lead by Roman Nose. The attack lasted three days. The small group were able to hold out against the Indians because of positioning themselves on a island in a river and because they were armed with new, fast firing carbines. They shot from behind the bodies of their dead horses, which had been killed earlier in the battle by the Indians during repeated charges of the island. The Indians eventually left, with the men subsisting on eating horse flesh until rescued by a troops eight days after the battle began. Several men had been killed and a number wounded. The bodies of ten Indians were found. The battle was a serious blow to the Dog Soldiers, for among the dead was their leading warrior Roman Nose. (p. 58-64) From his headquarters in St. Louis on September 19, 1868, General Sherman telegraphed Governor Hunt of Colorado, saying that while "making no concessions to clamor" if the people of Denver wanted to fight Indians "they can have all they want." He said that the "great bulk" of Arapahoes had surrendered to Gen. Sheridan at Fort Dodge. He also said that Sheridan had "one column after the Cheyennes on the Cimaron, and another toward Beaver Creek." Sherman then commented that "now that the Indians are clearly in the wrong, I will not prevent your people from chastising them if they are really in earnest." He had given the people of Colorado the authority to kill Indians anywhere. To his brother John, Sherman wrote on September 23, 1868 that only solution to the conflict was the physical destruction of the Indian. "The more we can kill this year, the less will have to be killed the next war, for the more I see of these Indians the more convinced I am that they all have to be killed or be maintained as a species of paupers. Their attempts at civilization are simply ridiculous." (Athearn, 1956, p. 223) In that same letter he observed that those Indians who hunted on their own hunting grounds would be killed. He noted that "The Indian War on the plains need simply amount to this. We have now selected and provided reservations for all, off the great roads. All who cling to their old hunting grounds are hostile and will remain so till killed off." Sherman predicted that there would be a "sort of predatory war for years." He said that because the country was "so large and the advantage of the Indians so great, ...we cannot make a single war and end it." "From the nature of things we must take chances and clean out Indians as we encounter them." He hinted at the possibility of a more complete solution, however: "when winter starves their ponies they will want a truce and shan't have it, unless the civil influence compels me against as it did last winter." He proposed congregating the Indians near the Canadian River. Sherman told his brother John that if the Indians were offered "corn, salt, and cattle, we could detach half the hostiles and get them down on the Canadian, two hundred miles south of the Kansas road." The news of the fight with the scouts under Forsyth filtered back by late September to the various newspapers. It was carried by telegraph across the United States. The headlines in the September 26 issue of the Rocky Mountain News read as follows:
" BY TELEGRAPH Afternoon Report. Terrible Fight with Indians Colonel Forsyth's Command Exterminated. Forsyth Reported Mortally Wounded. Friendly Indians--They Exterminate Col. Forsyth. "
The newspaper told its readership in a "Late" bulletin attached to the main story that "Gen. Nichols has just arrived from Fort Reynolds, and reports Lieut. Beecher dead, Dr. Moore mortally wounded and dying, and Col. Forsyth nearly as bad. All were lying there, with Indians all around then, eating horseflesh, and waiting patiently for relief. Cols. Bankbread and Carpenter will reach them tonight." A number of other engagements occurred north of the Arkansas that fall between the military and the Indians as the army scoured the country in search of the Indians. Concurrently, Indians attacked settlements and transportation lines. Often the dispatches were laced with sarcasm about "friendly Indians." The Leavenworth Evening Bulletin on September 24 reported "More Friendly' Manifestations-- Numerous Depredations Near Denver--People Scalped, Ranches Burned and Stock Driven Off." One of the attacks occurred on the Arkansas road near the mouth of Sand Creek. On October 9 a large body of Indians charged a civilian caravan of wagons returning to Kansas from Colorado. The Indians captured a woman named Mrs. Clara Blinn and her young child, a boy of two years. Her husband was seriously wounded. The Indians were believed to be Cheyennes, although the wagon master claimed he recognized Kiowa chief Satanta among them. (Hoig, 1976, pp. 66-8) The various military strategies were not working. Sherman started talking more seriously of a winter campaign against the Indians. Writing to Grenville M. Dodge on September 24, 1868, he said that "we propose not to let up all winter & before spring comes I hope not an Indian will be left in that belt of country through which the two railroads pass." (Athearn, 1957, p. 224) In a similar vain, he wrote to military headquarters on October 6, 1868, that:
" It is not improbable that war may obliterate these treaties, and force us to erase the names of Cheyennes, Arapahoes, Kiowas, etc., and unite the fragments of all under some new name at such place as may be to the interest of the Government when the war is over. These Indians doubtless expect to relax their war efforts about December, when the grass will fail them, but that is the very time we propose to begin in earnest, and I hope that by the time the new grass comes a very small reservation will suffice for what is left." (p. 227)
Sheridan also mentioned the decision to adopt the strategy of a winter campaign, observing that the summer months enabled the Indians to out maneuver the military. "As a general thing," he said, "...the raiders escaped before relief arrived, and when they had a few miles the start, all efforts to catch them were futile. I therefore discouraged long pursuits, and, in fact, did not approve of making any at all unless the chances of obtaining paying results were very evident." While summer favored the Indian, the winter favored the military. "Realizing that their thorough subjugation would be a difficult task, I made up my mind to confine operations during the grazing and hunting season to protect the people of the new settlements and on the overland routes, and then, when winter came, to fall upon the savages relentlessly, for in that season their ponies would be thin, and weak from lack of food, and in the cold and snow, without strong ponies to transport their villages and plunder, their movements would be so much impeded that the troops could overtake them," he reasoned. (Sheridan, 1888, p. 297-8). While the peace commission may have been a "moral success," noted the September 25, 1868, New York Daily Tribune , it had not solved the conflict. It claimed that the troubles had been brought on by swindling the Indians and by settlers provoking them. However, the only solution was to finish the job by subduing them into complete submission. It advocated a decisive war, rather than a course of action based on correcting any injustices toward the Indian:
" The Peace Commission, from which some persons anticipated so much good, proves to have been only a negative and merely moral success. It ought to be evident by this time that the savages have no faith in our agents and commissioners. They have been cheated by them so often that they will never trust them again, and we cannot blame them. We have brought all this trouble on ourselves, first by keeping swindling superintendents in office, and then by winking at the wrongs and provocations committed by the settlers. We cannot set matters right, however, by acknowledging our injustice and resolving upon a new course. The dire necessity of a severe war is now upon us, and there is but one policy for us to pursue; let the war be short, sharp and decisive. "
In response to the Tribune's statement, the Rocky Mountain News commented that:
The Tribune must show its hate of the "Fron-tier Set-tlahs," by saying, "We have brought all this trouble on ourselves, first by keeping swindling superintendents in office, and then by winking at the wrongs and provocations committed by the settlers." What wrongs and provocations? Name them, and prove them, or one of them. The settlers have committed no wrongs against the Indians unless the occupation of the interior is wrong. How that is more a wrong than the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, or the establishing of a colony on Manhattan Island, or on the Delaware, or the James, we cannot see. Can the Tribune?
The trouble, according to the newspaper, was "in the nature of the case--in the hostility of the civilized and savage races, incident to the necessary antagonism of their interests.
" We are gradually occupying their country, exterminating their subsistence--wild game--and driving them to the wall. Extinction is their hard fate, although it would puzzle any one to prove that their existence is any more a blessing to themselves or the world than that of any species of wild animal. It is our destiny to do it; we could not escape it if we would. "
The paper compared the situation to the colonial states:
" The old States had the same trouble we are having, with this difference, that, being comparatively more powerful, they overwhelmed the savages at once, killing the most of them and driving the remnants into the vast interior. Having penetrated and occupied all parts of that vast interior, there is now no place left exclusively for them. We have to meet them in "the last ditch," breast to breast, and fight it out. We must do it, whether willing or not; we expect to give life for life, and we are indignant only that we are misrepresented and abused instead of supported in our hard struggle by the organs of public opinion in the East and left unprotected by the Government in the consequence."
During this conflict, newspapers occasionally attempted to chart the nation's general direction after the recently ended Civil War. One of the conclusions was that it was necessary to established the "supremacy of law." The October 8, 1868 New York Tribune reported a campaign meeting at the Cooper Institute by "German Republicans," among them Dr. Friedrich Schuetz, who said that those assembled there were part of the "National High Court" called to pronounce its "Guilty" over the Rebels of the South on the 3rd of November [election day].
" Four years ago it was the mission of the Republican party to assert the war power of the nation. Instead of McClellan, the choice of the Democratic party, the Republicans elected Lincoln, and Grant, his right arm, demolished the Rebellion. Today it is the mission of the Republican party to assert the supremacy of law. "
A correspondent of the New York Tribune on September 30, 1868, noted that the Indian Peace Commission would be meeting in Washington on October 7. He said that according to a member of the Peace Commission the reasons for the Indian troubles were that the provisions of the recent treaty had not be carried out, namely, that Indians had not been moved to their new reservation, that they had not been allowed to hunt in the meantime and that they had not been subsisted by the Government. The persons responsible for fulfilling these provisions were Sherman and Sheridan. They had been unable to comply with the terms of the treaty:
" The recent serious troubles with the Indians is the subject of much talk here, and the question where the responsibility lies is often asked. Your correspondent had a conversation with one of the Indian Peace Commission now in the city, and from him received an explanation of the troubles. He says that the Indians have been deceived and treated unfairly... The tribes that are fighting Gen. Sheridan's command were promised transportation and removal to their new reservations, and they were forbidden to hunt until such removal should have been effected. At the same time them were to be subsisted at the expense of the Government. Gens. Sherman and Sheridan have been unable to fulfill the promises of the Peace Commissioners, and the Indians, impatient at the long delay, have resolved upon war. "
The correspondent then said that "It is believed to be a preconcerted plan of the President to have the great bulk of the army sent to the Plains in order to give the Rebels full sway in the South until after the election." This was an apparent reference to diverting the military from the South so as not to resist the southern whites in acts against the Negro population--supposedly as a vote-getting tactic by the incumbent administration. What appeared to be a reprint of an advertisement depicting a black flag with a skull and crossbones drawn in white across it was carried in the Leavenworth Evening Bulletin on September 26, 1868. Three "K"s surrounded the flag, one on top, one on the left and one on the right. Above the flag it said TO-NIGHT! Below the flag it said "Work in the First Degree. The caption read: "Bro. Byron S. Cobbler will conduct the exercise, and as he has not yet been admitted to the inner circles of our dark and mysterious order, the work to-night will only be in the lst degree. By order of the Commander, G.K. of the R.A.S." An editorial comment above the announcement mentioned that "instead of perfect freedom being allowed under the law to all men without distinction of color, servitude in its worst form will be restored, and the poor black man be left to the mercy of his old master." A similar story of disruption in the South was told in the October 21 New York Tribune by a series of headlines--all in capitals:
" The New Rebellion A Reign of Terror Throughout the Southern States. The Assassination of Dr. Johnson of Mississippi--the Shooting of Representative Martin--Black Unionmen Shot by Scores--Humiliating Spectacle in a Court-room--Social Ostracism--Northernmen to be Driven from the South--a Representative Democratic Meeting-- Pandemonium Rivaled, If Not Outdone. "
Several other stories on racial troubles in the South ran in the Leavenworth Evening Bulletin October 7 under the following headlines:
" NEW ORLEANS. The Klu Klux Again Slaughtering Negroes. A Hundred Blacks Killed and Wounded. Republic Printing Office Robbed and Destroyed. An Editor Lynched. Attempt to Mob a School Master--Armed Resistance to the Law--Bloody Work-- The Beauties of Democracy. "
Another proclamation by Kansas Governor Crawford, carried in the Leavenworth Evening Bulletin on October 13, authorized the calling up of a regiment of cavalry, stating that the citizens of Kansas could no longer forbear "with these bloody fiends." "The time has come when they must be met by an adequate force, not only to prevent the repetition of these outrages, but to penetrate their haunts, break up their organizations, and either exterminate the tribes, or contain them upon reservations set apart for their occupancy." Next to the proclamation was an advertisement that said: "Cavalry Horses Wanted. Office Chief Quartermaster, Fort Leavenworth, Ks., Oct. 11, 1868. The undersigned wishes to purchase immediately in open market 1,200 calvalry Horses." The number of Indian raids increased. "Train Attacked by Indian, Men Killed, and Stock Driven Off," were the headlines in the October 28 Leavenworth Evening Bulletin, reporting that in "Cheyenne" a band of Indians had attacked a "Houtz & Halls train," loaded with railroad times, killing four whites and capturing 14 mules. That August, General Sherman had formed two military districts under two army officers who would act as Indian agents for Indians not as yet on reservations. The district for the Sioux was placed under General William S. Harney and the district for the Cheyennes, Arapahos, Kiowas and Comanches was placed under General W. B. Hazen. To formulate a plan in retaliation for the Solomon and Saline attacks, the peace commission met again in Chicago in October 1868. The October 8 New York Times noted that "The Commission sits with closed doors." Grant, who was in Chicago, also sat with the commissioners. All but Tappan and Taylor were for a harsh policy toward the Indians. Grant, according to the New York Times, Oct. 16, 1868, said that the emigrants had to be protected, "even if the extermination of every Indian tribe was necessary; to secure such a result." The commission decided that the raids justified the government to abrogate the treaty rights established at Medicine Lodge which allowed the Indians to hunt outside their reservation boundaries south of the Arkansas. In addition, they agreed to use military force to compel the Indians to move onto the reservations. And finally, it recommended the transfer of the Bureau of Indians Affairs, to the War Department. It was also decided to eliminate the treaty making ability of Indians by making them United States citizens, preempting their status as sovereign nations. (Prucha, 1976, pp. 3-24) (Athearn, 1956, pp. 227-8) The proceedings of the commission were summarized in the Oct. 6 New York Times:
" The Commissioners finished their labors today. They recommended that full provision be made at once to feed, clothe, and protect all the Indians of the Crow, Blackfeet, Gros Ventres, Sioux, Banca, Cheyenne, Arapahoes, Apaches, Kiowas and Comanche natives, who now live or shall hereafter locate permanently on their agricultural reservations. They say that the time has come when the Government should cease to recognize the Indian tribes as domestic dependent nation...and that hereafter all the Indians should be considered and held to be individually responsible to the laws of the United States... They add that the military force should be used to compel removal into such reservations of all such Indians as may refuse to go, after due notice has been given them; and that provision be made to feed and protect them within the same. In the opinion of the Commission the Bureau of Indian Affairs should be transferred from the Interior to the War Department."
While the Indian Peace Commission was in session in Chicago, the Leavenworth Evening Bulletin reported again on "The Indian War," saying that Gen. Sherman complained bitterly of the "tedious delays in sending reinforcements," and stated that "unless he is promptly furnished with the troops he desires, nothing can prevent a widespread and disastrous series of conflicts with the discontented tribes." Sherman told General E. D. Townsend, military headquarters in Washington, D.C., that he now regarded the Cheyenne and Arapaho at war. In a report to Townsend, he pointed out that it would be impossible to distinguish between the "well-disposed and the warlike parts of those bands, unless a separation be made." To accomplish this separation, he planned to have the agents collect the Indians and conduct them to their reservation "within Indian Territory south of Kansas, there to be provided for under their treaty, say about old fort Cobb." He ended by observing that "it will simplify our game of war, already complicated enough, by removing them well away from the field of operations." "The Indian War. Troops Ordered to the Front--the War Department Waking Up." So reported the Leavenworth Evening Bulletin on October 2, 1868, carrying a brief story that mentioned that "Gen. Custer has been ordered to report to Gen. Sherman, to assume command of his regiment, which is immediately to engage in the campaign against the Indians." On October 3 the newspaper carried a reprint of the Republican platform. The platform "condemned the policy of disposing of Indian reservations to railroad or land monopolists," and insisted that such lands be opened to settlement. It also demanded that the remaining Indians be expelled and sent to Indian Territory. "We demand, in the name of our frontier settlers, that the uncivilized Indians be driven from the State, and the civilized tribes be speedily removed to the Indian country." An article titled "From the Plains" reprinted a letter from a scout named "Hank" who had just returned from duty against the Indians. He was attached to the Fifth Cavalry in company with "the noted Billy Cody." The letter described the military efforts to kill Indian people in the state and to destroy their villages:
" The Fifth Cavalry has just returned to Fort Wallace, from a raid against Indians... We had a story time of it while out. Struck the Indian trail on the 20th of last month, and followed them nine days, fighting them almost every day. Our casualties were one killed and scalped, and three wounded. The command killed and scalped three Indians, and killed seven more that were carried away by their comrades... The Indians were so closely pressed...that they were forced to abandon one hundred and twenty lodges, with skins complete, that were burnt. A large amount of camp equipments--kettles, tin and iron ware, etc.--were destroyed. This loss of property is a severe punishment to the Indians, as a good portion of it will be difficult to replace. I think Gen. Sheridan's policy is to keep the Indians running all winter.
The New York Tribune agreed that war with the Indian nations must come, but it expressed concern over the feasibility of conducting a successful one. It commented on November 6 that the "outrages of the savages cannot for a moment be permitted, no matter what the provocation." The paper listed those provocations: "the progress of the Pacific Railroad--emigration--overland business--all these threaten Indian existence." It also stated that "It must be remember, too, that the country thus taken is still recognized by the United States Government as theirs. Proposals for treaties have been pending, but the lands have neither been bought nor paid for. The writer commented that it was "generally conceded that the war--since war must come--should be waged vigorously." However, it pointed out the campaign would be exceedingly difficult:
" Our best commanders, Sherman and Sheridan, have it in charge. Still, we thing it barely possible that its difficulties are under-estimated. Our cavalry horses cannot be kept up without forage; and if they wait for the forage-wagons, can never catch the Indians. The country over which these warlike Red Men roam is larger than a dozen States. Infantry is useless; artillery, for little more than show. It is said, "Destroy the Indian villages." "Indian villages" are like the mirage of their country. Their women and children will strike or pitch tents in an incredibly short space of time. No military camp can do it sooner. Their commissary is where the buffalo roam, or the white potato crops from the hill. The are always on a war footing. In our military experience so far, we have usually lost many more men than they. We cannot impoverish those who have no surplus. The misery to which their fate or our maltreatment has reduced them, saves them from the "ruin" so freely threatened. "
The Tribune pointed out a significant problem. Just how would a huge military force, restricted by the equipment of civilized warfare, find the elusive, mirage-like Indians? And there was another problem. How would you find hostile Indians, as opposed to friendly ones? The military addressed part of this problem by attempting to first segregate the hostile from the friendly Indians, that is, those wanting war from those wanting peace. From his military headquarters in St. Louis on October 15, 1868, Sherman wrote a key letter outlining Sheridan's course of action. He began by telling Sheridan that he had sent by separate mail information relating to the steps taken by the peace commissioners at Chicago with regard to the "Cheyennes, Arapaho, Kiowas, Comanches, and Apaches, with whom we are now engaged at open war." He informed Sheridan that Fort Cobb had been designated a refuge for those Indians who wanted peace. He said that General Hazen had been put in charge of Fort Cobb and that he had been provide with $50,000, plus clothing and supplies, for the maintenance of those Indians assembling at the fort. "Every appearance about Fort Cobb should be suggestive of an earnest desire to afford a place of refuge where the peaceable Indians may receive food and be safe against our troops," he told Sheridan. And why did he choose the area of Fort Cobb and not the wider domain of Indian Territory? He explained: "I have insisted on this Fort Cobb establishment in preference to embracing the whole reservation, because I saw how difficult it would be for your troops in the field to cease pursuit at its very boundary." For those Indians who indicated they were friendly, but had been guilty of depredations, Sherman instructed Sheridan to have Hazen demand their surrender and to place them under arrest. "If friendly Indians rendezvous about Fort Cobb," Sherman wrote, "General Hazen can demand the surrender of all who have committed acts of outrage before issuing a pound of food, and these should be seized and held or placed in confinement at Fort Gibson or Fort Arbuckle, there to await your orders." Further, those Indians who did go to Fort Cobb, so that they would not leave due to starvation, were to be fed as "prisoners." While Fort Cobb was to serve as a refuge for those wanting peace, those hostile Indians being pursued in battle were not to be allowed to use the reservation as a means of escaping the military:
" It is not thereby intended that any hostile Indians shall make use of that establishment as refuge from a just punishment for acts already done...and if hostile Indians retreat within that reservation they are by no means to escape a deserved punishment, but they may be followed even to Fort Cobb, captured, and punished. " (Carroll, ed., 1978, p. 14)
He also wrote that Colonel Tappan had suggested that Sherman and Sheridan had joined the settlers in calling for the Indian's extermination due to "interested motives."
Colonel Tappan stated that the officers of our army, instead of protecting the Indians against the infuriated whites, had joined the border people in their constant cry of "extermination," intimating that you and I had changed over to that creed from interested motives.
He said that the question of extermination was for the Indians themselves to determine. It was the Indians, "the enemies of our race and of our civilization," who had started the war, he wrote, and he would make "its end final.".
" If it results in the utter annihilation of these Indians, it is but the result of what they have been warned again and again... I will say nothing and do nothing to restrain our troops from doing what they deem proper on the spot, and will allow no mere vague general charges of cruelty and inhumanity to tie their hands..." (p. 13-15)
Massive [groups of] military machinery began to move onto the plains, consisting of thousands of troops, plus wagon loads of building materials for the construction of a supply base above the strike region called Camp Supply. The troops would be organized into five columns which would converge from all directions pincer-style on the winter camps of the Indians. Sheridan explained in his autobiography that he would go in person with the main column "into the western part of the Indian Territory, having for its initial objective the villages which, at the beginning of hostilities, had fled toward the head-waters of the Red River, and those also that had gone to the same remote region after decampng from the neighborhood of Larned..." Sheridan described in detail the size and destinations of the various columns:
" The column which was expected to do the main work was to be composed of the Nineteenth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, commanded by Colonel Crawford; eleven troops of the Seventh United States, under General Custer, and a battalion of five companies of infantry... In conjunction with the main column, two other were also to penetrate the Indian Territory. One of these, which was to march east from New Mexico by way of Fort Bascom, was to be composed of six troops of the Third Cavalry and two companies of infantry, the whole under Colonel A. W. Evans. The other, consisting of seven troops of the Fifth Cavalry, and commanded by Brevet Brigadier-General Eugene A. Carr, was to march southeast from Fort Lyon; the intention being that Evans and Carr should destroy or drive in toward old Fort Cobb any straggling bands that might be prowling through the country west of my own line of march; Carr, as he advanced, to be joined by Brevet Brigadier-General W.H. Penrose, with five troops of cavalry already in the field southeast of Lyon. The Fort Bascom column...was to work down the main Canadian... Carr, having united with Penrose on the North Canadian, was to operate toward the Antelope Hills and headwaters of the Red River; while I, with the main column was to move southward to strike the Indians along the Washita..." (Sheridan, 1888, p. 308-9)
Prior to Hazen's arrival at Fort Cobb, Captain Henry E. Alvord was stationed there as acting assistant inspector general of Indian Territory. In a letter written October 30, 1868, to Major James P. Ray, commander of Indian Territory, with copies to Hazen and Townsend, he recorded in detail the status of the various tribes that were gradually congregating around Fort Cobb along the Washita River and extending up that river about a hundred miles toward the Antelope Hills. He related that he had learned from conversations with various chiefs that many of the tribes were "now on the head-waters of the Washita, south of Antelope Hills" and that they would "agree to peace."
" For this I have the world of old Ten Bears...who just left...Black Eagle, a war chief of the Cheyennes, and he assures me he will bring Black Kettle and other influential chiefs of the Cheyennes soon to arrange for moving a large portion of the Cheyennes south for lasting peace. Black Kettle and Black Eagle, with their people, are now just north of the Antelope Hills. "
Alvord than provided a table, listing the tribes or bands according to their "proportions for peace," the proportions broken down into "certain," "probable," and "possible." Also listed were each band's "present location." According to the table the Wichitas, Wacos, Keechies, Towaccaras, Caddoes, Penetaoghkos, Anadochcoes, Noconees, Yapparikos and Arapahoes were "All" "Certain" for peace. The Cos-tche-tegh-kas, Quah-adede-chuts-Kenna, and Kiowas were "All" "Probable" for peace. A "band" of Apaches were "Probable" for peace. And a "part" of the Cheyenne were "Probable" for peace. There various locations were listed as "Near Fort Cobb, "Thirty-five miles north of Fort Cobb," and "Near Antelope Hills." All in all the tabulated figures listed 8,500 Indians assembled along the Washita River from Fort Cobb to the vicinity of Antelope Hills about 100 miles away. He said that "those now classed as probable' and 'possible' will be reported as positively for peace or war just as soon as I can confer with their chiefs." He requested more rations to feed the Indians, noting that he could not "hope to deal favorably with hungry men." (p. 16-7) He sent a follow-up report on November 5, pointing out that "I have additional assurance that a party of chiefs and headmen from the Cheyennes and Arapahoes will be here on a friendly mission during next week" and that "On November 1st the main camp of the Cheyennes, with their women and children, stock, was on the Canadian near the 100th meridian and Antelope Hills." He also pointed out that "The principal camp of the Arapahoes was near by." He ended by saying that "I understand my instructions to be to remain here until I can report positively, as friendly or hostile, all of the different tribes and bands of Indians within reach with whom it is practicable to communicate within a reasonable time." (p. 19-21) Hazen arrived at Fort Cobb on November 7, 1868. That day he sent a report to Sherman, saying that the Kiowas and Comanches were late in coming into the fort and that "the fear now is that General Sheridan, acting under the impression of hostilities, may attack bands of Comanches and Kiowas before they reach this point." He said that he tried to obviate this possibility by sending scouts to warn them to come in more quickly, plus copies of his reports to Sheridan "by express." Three days later, Hazen again wrote Sherman, saying that the Kiowas and Comanches have had "no part in any hostilities this season" and that he was concerned that "General Sheridan, still under the impression that these people are at war, may possibly attack them before I can collect them at this pint; but I have sent swift runners to prevent this." Hazen also informed Sherman about what the Indians said was the cause of the Solomon and Saline attacks--and the resulting war. He said that at Fort Larned, "where abundant access was had to whisky," a war party went to attack the Pawnees and were beaten. He said they returned by way of the Saline, came upon a settlement, asked for something to eat, and were fired on by the white person. They retaliated in response to that incident. "It is evident that it was not premeditated," Hazen mentioned. In Hazen's letter to Sherman, he also notes that Colonel Tappan had condemned the military as being overly aggressive against the Indians. In defense of the military, Hazen commented that "He (Tappan) parades our aggressiveness, but fails to state that every acre of ground reclaimed between Massachusetts Bay and Oregon has been gained by aggression, and that in accordance with an invariable natural law." He added parenthetically, however, that "Granting all, our duties to the innocent are not altered by the acts of the wicked." (p. 23-6) At the end of his report, he included two tables, one showing the number of Indians "located in or near the Washita valley, Indian territory" and the other an estimate of funds required to feed the various tribes for 180 days from November 15, 1868 to May 15, 1869. The list of Indians included such tribes and affiliated bands as the Wichitas, Caddoes, Comanches, Kiowas and Apaches. Together they were listed as totalling 8,100. The amount of funds required was listed as a total of $127,700, with an additional $77,700 being requested in addition to the $50,000 he had been initially provided to maintain the gathering tribes. (p. 27) On November 18, the Omaha Weekly Bulletin carried the following dispatch from the New York Herald under the headline "Payment of Indian Annuities."
" The Commissioner of Indian Affairs has sent to the West the annuity goods for the Indian tribes. The goods for the Cheyennes, Sioux, Arapahoes, Kiowas, Comanches and Apaches, which tribes are now engaged in hostilities with the Government, had been sent to Fort Arbuckle and consigned to the custody of the agent there. The instructions given to the agent are that he shall distribute, in conjunction with the military commander, Brig. Gen. Hazen, to those Indians of the hostile tribes who have not taken up arms against the Government their shares of the annuities. This is done in the hope that the distribution of the goods to the friendly Indians will exercise a beneficial effect in withdrawing others from the bands now on the warpath ".--N.Y. Herald.
In other words, provisions would be placed in the custody of the agent at Fort Arbuckle, who would distribute them in conjunction with Hazen, now at Fort Cobb, to Indians of hostile tribes if they left the warpath, that is, surrendered. As the time for the winter campaign grew near, Superintendent of Indian Affairs Thomas Murphy wrote on November 15 to Commissioner Taylor:
" Sir: In view of the fact that Agents Boone and Wynkoop have left for the Indian country under instructions to congregate the Indians of their respective agencies at or in the vicinity of Fort Cobb, and that the annuity goods purchased for these Indians are also en route to the above-named fort, I am of the opinion that all the Kiowas, Comanches, Apaches, Cheyennes, and Arapahoes will quickly assemble at the place, and glady avail themselves of the opportunity thus offered them to get out of the way of the military and obtain their annuities. "
Murphy said that the purpose of the Indians going there was to surrender:
" The agents have been instructed to distribute no annuities to any of their Indians unless they give up without ransom all white captives now held by then, and give satisfactory assurances that they will forever hereafter abandon their raiding into Texas, that they will agree to live on their reservations and not leave the same unless written permission is given to them by their agents, and to keep in good faith all their treaty pledges, all of which I feel confident they will agree to and promise. "
However, Murphy expressed considerable worry over the possibility of the plan being abused by the military:
" But while these preparations for peace and promises of protection to these Indians are being carried out, a large army has been rapidly formed, and are now marching to, and, as I am informed, surrounding, Fort Cobb, traveling toward that point from Colorado, Fort Dodge, and New Mexico. Last week the regiment raised in this State left this city under command of Governor Crawford, whose point of destination was the mouth of the Little Arkansas. I was informed yesterday that he stated he would march directly south to the Washita Mountains. "
Murphy said he saw another Sand Creek coming:
" In all these military movements I fancy I see another Sand Creek massacre. If these Indians are to be congregated at Fort Cobb or elsewhere, under promises of protection, and then pounced upon by the military, it were far better that they had never been sent for, or any such promises made them. "
He concluded by saying:
" It may be that I am mistaken as to the probable intention of the army now marching toward Fort Cobb, (and I hope I am,) but I deem it my duty as a precautionary measure to advise you of these facts, and would respectfully request that you promptly call the attention of Lieutenant General W.T. Sherman to this subject, so that he may have time to adopt such measures as he may deem proper and most expedient to protect all Indians that may congregate at Fort Cobb and its vicinity. " (Carroll, ed., 1978, p. 80)
Taylor wrote on November 21 to Secretary of the Interior O.H. Browning regarding this concern. He said that the Peace Commission had approved of inviting the friendly Indians to Fort Cobb as part of the Office of Indian Affairs's plan to separate the hostile from the peacefully disposed Indians:
" It is proper also to state that the plan acted upon by this department of inviting all friendly disposed Indians of the tribes said to be hostile, to wit: Cheyennes, Arapahoes, Kiowas, and Comanches, to rendezvous at and near old Fort Cobb in the Indian country, and there to receive their annuities, and to be subsisted and protected pending the wear, was presented to the commission at said meeting and met the hearty approval of every member present. " (p. 79)
He then relayed Murphy's fear:
" I must take occasion to say to you that while I regard Lieutenant General Sherman and the gallant officers commanding under him utterly incapable of for one moment of entertaining the disgraceful idea of perpetrating a massacre upon peaceful Indians invited to our protection, nevertheless, this department, as their lawful guardian, is bound to take every necessary precaution to shield the innocent and helpless against the fearful punishment now pursuing the actual criminals. "
He continued by pointing out that with regard to the "first outrage which led to the war" "the chiefs, at the demand of Agent Wynkoop, agreed to deliver up for trial the ringleaders--and I am satisfied the delivery was not effected on their regard only for want of time." He then suggested to Browning that "to induce the military authorities to require of all officers and soldiers to be careful in their operations to distinguish between the hostile Indians and the friendly..." (Carroll, ed., 1978, p. 79) On November 21, the New York Tribune carried an announcement of "Gen. Sheridan's Indian Expedition," with the dateline Fort Wallace, Kansas, Nov. 20. It read:
" An expedition, composed of two companies of the First Cavalry and a company of the 38th Infantry, with some artillery, went from this post this afternoon under Lieut. Col. T.H. Carpenter, for the Arkansas, to act in conjunction with the forces under Gen. Pennas, Carr, and Custer. The last named forces have marched or are about to move from Forts Dodge and Lyon for the Canadian River, under the personal supervision of Gen. Sheridan, against the main body of Southern Indians, who are supposed to be encamped in that region. "
In other words, Custer was directing his march to the Canadian River where it was known the "Southern Indians" were camped. A plaintive letter was received during this period at Fort Cobb from the captive woman Mrs. Clara Blinn. It had been written on November 7, 1868. It read as follows:
" KIND FRIENDS, whoever you may be: I thank you for your kindness to me and my child. You want me to let you know my wishes. If you could only buy us from the Indians with ponies or anything and let me come and stay with you until I could get word to my friends, they would pay you, and I would work and do all I could for you. If it is not too far to their camp, and if you are not afraid to come, I pray that you will try. They tell me, as near as I can understand, they expect traders to come, and they will sell us to them. Can you find out by this man and let me know if it is white men? If it is Mexicans I am afraid they would sell us into slavery in Mexico. If you can do nothing for me, write to W. T. Harrington, Ottowa, Franklin county, Kansas, my father; tell him we are with the Cheyennes, and they say when the white men make peace we can go home. Tell him to write to the governor of Kansas about it, and for them to make peace. Send this to him. We were taken on the 9th of October, on the Arkansas, below Fort Lyon. I can not tell whether they killed my husband or not. My name is Mrs. Clara Blinn; my little boy, Willie Blinn, is two year old. Do all you can for me. Write to the peace commissioners to make peace this fall. For our sakes do all you can and God will bless you. If you can, let me hear from you again; let me know what you thing about it. Write to my father; send him this. Good bye. Mrs. R. F. Blinn. I am as well as can be expected, but my baby is very weak. (Carroll, ed., 1978, p. 52) "
The letter was forwarded to Sherman on November 25, 1868, with Hazen's following endorsement:
" The letter tells its own story. I have given a Mr. Griffenstein, who first communicated with the writer, full care of this case, with permission to trade with the friendly Indians nearest the Cheyennes, with direction to spare no trouble nor expense in his efforts to reclaim these parties. "
Who was Griffenstein? He is mentioned in a report on October 10, 1868, from S. T. Walkley, acting Indian agent for the Comanche and Kiowa agency. Wakley had replaced Colonel Leavenworth at the agency. The report, written to Hazen, mentioned that his wife had died. He praised her efforts in trying to help free captives.
Too much cannot be said in praise of Cheyenne Jennie, wife of William Griffenstein, for the interest she took, and exertions she made, in recovering the captive children from the Comanches visiting their camps, invalid as she was, riding in her ambulance when she was not able to sit up, giving her own horses for the captive McElroy children that they might go home with their father. She also had great influence will all the wild Indians, which she used in trying to have them keep in the straight road. "Her work is done; she has gone to her happy hunting grounds." (p. 29)
According to Bent, Griffenstein, also nick-named Dutch Bill, was "the Wichita trader, ...married to a Cheyenne woman, called by the whites Cheyenne Jennie." "She was a fine woman and had often succeeded in recovering white captives from the Comanches, Kiowas, and other tribes. She did more good work in fostering peaceful relations between the Indians and the whites than many an official or high commissioner sent out by the government" (Hyde, 1968, pp. 278-82) Cheyenne Jenny had died at about the time negotiations were taking place for the release of Blinn. However, communications for Blinn's release were still in progress. Hazen, in a letter to Roy, commander in charge of Indian Territory, stated on October 30, 1968, that he "was on the point of rescuing her and in correspondence with her when the battle took place." (Custer, 1962, p. 392-3) Custer left Camp Supply early in the morning of November 23, 1868, headed toward the Washita River. (Hoig, 1976, p. 112-3) Black Kettle previously had travelled from his original Kansas location to Indian Territory, camping along the Washita. As Bent explained (Hyde, 1968), following the Solomon and Saline raids, "troops were poured into the field, and, as usual in Indian wars, the innocent suffered with the guilty. Black Kettle knew that, though his band had nothing to do with the raids, trouble was coming, and, as soon as his people had secured their annuities, moved south to get away from the troops." Bent mentioned that he had been personally with Black Kettle's band until they reached the Arkansas, where he departed to visit his sister. He said that he never saw Black Kettle again, as he was killed when Custer attacked his village on the Washita. (Hyde, 1968, p. 290-1) Two days prior to Custer's departure for the Washita area, Black Kettle, representing the Cheyennes, and Big Mouth, representing the Arapahos, visited Hazen at Fort Cobb. As mentioned, by now numerous Indians tribes were camped along the Washita River in the vicinity of Fort Cobb. Black Kettle noted this fact, saying that he felt he was friends among the assembling Indians, and that he was also friends among the whites: "I always fell well while I am among these Indians--the Caddoes, Wichitas, Wacos, Keechies, etc.--as I know they are all my friends; and I do not feel afraid to go among the white men, because I feel them to be my friends also." (Carroll, ed., 1978, p. 32) He then made a strange statement, in light of what we know so far. He said that the tribes did not want to go north, but had been told do so because they would receive a reward. He did not say who told them to go north.
The Cheyennes, when south of the Arkansas, did not wish to return to the north side because they feared trouble there, but were continually told that they had better go there, as they would be rewarded for so doing. They Cheyennes do not fight at all this side of the Arkansas; they do not trouble Texas, but north of the Arkansas they are almost always at war. (Carroll, ed., 1978, p. 32)
Black Kettle briefly touched on the beginnings of the conflict at the Solomon and Saline rivers: "When lately north of the Arkansas, some young Cheyennes were fired upon and then the fight began." He said to Hazen that "I have always done my best to keep my young men quiet, but some will not listen, and since the fighting began I have not been able to keep them all at home. But we all want peace, and I would be glad to move all my people down this way; I could then keep them all quietly near camp." He then precisely identified the location of his camp, as well as its size: "My camp is now on the Washita, 40 miles east of the Antelope Hills, and I have there about 180 lodges." Big Mouth told Hazen that he had been born in the country by the Wichita mountains near Fort Cobb and had roamed the area as a boy. He said he had come there to talk. "I look upon you (General Hazen) as the representative of the Great Father at Washington, and I came to you because I wish to do right; had I wished to do any wrong I never would have come near you." Big Mouth also said that they had gone north at the instance of the tribe's agent. (Hoig, 1976, p. 44) Big Mouth continued, making a strong plea for peace:
" I never would have gone north of the Arkansas again, but my father there (the agent) sent for me time after time, saying it was the place for my people, and finally I went. No sooner had we got there than there was trouble. I do not want war, and my people do not, but although we have come back south of the Arkansas, the soldiers follow us and continue fighting, and we want you to send out and stop these soldiers from coming against us. I want you to send a letter to the Great Father at Washington at once, to tell him to have this fighting stopped; and we want no more of it. Although a chief, a kinsman of mine, has been killed, with others, we will forget it, for we wish for peace. (Carroll, ed., 1978, p. 33) "
Hazen responded that we has a friend of the Indians and had come there to take care of them.
" The Great Father at Washington sent for me when I was away out in New Mexico, because I have been much with the Indians and like them, to come here and take care of all the Cheyennes, Arapahoes, Apaches, Comanches, and Kiowas; to look after them and their agents and their traders; to get them on to the reservations agreed upon a year ago at Medicine Lodge, and see that they were treated right. Before I could come from New Mexico the Arapahoes and Cheyennes had gone to war, so that I could not see them, but I saw the Kiowas, Apaches, and Tapparies Comanches at Fort Larned, and I have come here as I promised them. " (p. 33)
But the reservation had been barred to the Cheyennes and the Arapahoes. Hazen explained to the two chiefs why:
" I am sent here as a peace chief; all here is to be peace; but north of the Arkansas is General Sheridan, the great war chief, and I do not control him; and he has all the soldiers who are fighting the Arapahoes and Cheyennes. Therefore, you must go back to your country, and if the soldiers come to fight, you must remember they are not from me, but from that great war chief, and with him you must make peace. "
Hazen said he did not want them to come back again until called for and that he did not want them to get near the tribes labeled as friendly--the Kiowas and Comanches..
" I am glad to see you, and glad to hear that you want peace and not war; I cannot stop the war, but will send your talk to the Great Father, and if he sends me orders to treat you like the friendly Indians I will send out to you to come in. But you must not come in again unless I send for you, and you must keep well out beyond the friendly Kiowas and Comanches. "
In short, he could not make peace with them. He could not accept their surrender.
I am satisfied that you want peace; that it has not been you, but your bad men, that have made the war, and I will do all I can for you to bring peace; then I will go with you and your agent on to your reservation and care for you there. I hope you understand how and why it is that I cannot make peace with you. (p. 33)
Hazen, in his report to Sherman on November 22, defended his decision on the grounds that "to have made peace with them would have brought to my camp most of those now on the war path south of the Arkansas; and as General Sheridan is to punish those at war and might follow them in afterwards, a second Chivington affair might occur, which I could not prevent." He then said that he did not understand if he was to treat for peace, and asked for more definite instructions. "To make peace with these people would probably close the war, but perhaps not permanently. I would prefer that General Sheridan should make peace with these parties." (Hoig, 1976, p. 92) As Hazen watched the chiefs leave for the Washita, Custer was headed for the same destination. A day after Custer had left Camp Supply, the following bulletin was carried in the November 24 Leavenworth Evening Bulletin. It was a release from Washington, D.C., apparently from the commissioner of Indian Affairs, with a St. Louis dateline of Nov. 21. It ran under the headline: "Washington. The Indian Situation. A Muddled State of Affairs."
" The following intelligence comes from Washington in special telegrams to both the Republican and Democrat. In view of the well know present condition of things on the plains and the preparations of Gen. Sheridan for an authorized expedition against the Indians, it may well be considered as somewhat singular news. The commissioner of Indians affairs, is in receipt of letters from the Government officers in the west, which gives rise to apprehensions of serious troubles on the plains. In September last, Gen. W. B. Hazen, was ordered by Lieut. Gen. Sherman, to Ft. Cobb, in the Indian Territory, to represent the Indian peace commission in that quarter and carry out its policy in reference the southern Indians, particularly those of the Kiowa, Comanche, Arapaho, Apache and Cheyenne tribes, who were disposed to remain at peace and go upon the reservations set apart for them by the peace commission. Agents Wynkoop and Boone had been sent to the same place by the Secretary of the Interior to co-operate with Gen. Hazen in the work of collecting those Indians and protecting and subsisting them during their transfer from a hunting to a pastoral and agricultural life. The Indians in answer to the demands made upon them, are moving in considerable numbers toward Ft. Cobb; at the same time volunteers are raised from Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico; of the latter there are three hundred Ute Indians, the inveterate enemies of plains Indians.--These volunteers are determined to kill the Indians whenever and wherever found; contemplating it is said a massacre of them even at Ft. Cobb where they are under the protection of our Government.--Gen. Sheridan is supposed to have gone south to the vicinity of Fort Cobb to assume command in person of all the troops against the Indians. It will depend wholly upon him whether or not an attack will be made on these Indians, which are depending on the U.S. for safety. Commissioner Taylor submitted these letters to the Secretary of Interior, with a request to do all in his power to prevent another massacre and remove all possibilities of such a calamity. "
The communication made the following points:
a. That the policy of the Peace Commission was to have those members of the
Kiowa, Comanche, Arapaho, Apache and Cheyenne tribes who were "disposed to
peace" go to the reservations established for them in Indian Territory.
Several days later the New York Tribune, Nov. 27, 1868, carried the following story from a correspondent of the St. Louis Democrat, writing from Fort Hayes, Kansas, under the date of Nov. 15, with the headline "Policy of the Campaign--a Talk with Gen. Sheridan."
" Yesterday we returned to Hayes and made a short visit to the fort, meeting Gen. Sheridan and the few officers of the expedition, who returned until today to join the command. The whole force in the field consists of Gov. Crawford's Kansas Cavalry regiment, 1,500 men; seven companies of he 5th Cavalry, 11 companies of the 7th Cavalry; four companies of the 10th Cavalry; one company of the 38th Infantry, colored; one company of the 3d Infantry, and Forsythe's scouts--amounting to about 8,000 men. There is a part of a regiment at Fort Wallace--probably a reserve--and quite a force coming from the south-west to join Gen. Sully's command, now moving south toward the Arkansas and Canadian Rivers. It is reported that this force from the south-west has with it quite a large body of the Ute Indians, who have always been friendly. The principal tribes who are hostile are the Arapahos, Apaches, Kiowas, Comanches, and a mixed outlawed band called Dog Soldiers. These Dog Soldiers are composed of Indians driven out of various tribes for cowardice and other crimes, who have banded themselves together until they have become a dangerous tribe. They are called the Dog Soldiers because the vilest word an Indian can use is to call a man a dog. Hence, these outcasts and freebooters are thus designed, and by reason of their excellent drill they are called soldiers. Among these, as among all other tribes, are many white men, who live with the Indians, and are the very worst of their class--men who are not allowed to live among the whites. The tribe of Dog Soldiers was among those who attacked Col.Forsythe's scouts on the Republican, and killed Lieut. Beecher. They remain scattered about the head-waters of the streams north of the Smoky Hill Fork, and will probably stay north of the railroad during the Winter. The four tribes--Comanches, Apaches, Kiowas and Arapahos--have already gone south of the Arkansas River, where they build their lodges for the Winter. All these names are familiar, as being the bravest of all the Indians of the Plains. Taken all together, they will number from 3,000 to 5,000 warriors, making quite a formidable army when we consider that they are all splendidly armed with carbines, and nearly every one with two good revolvers, beside their arrows and knives. They have, during the past year, taken great pains to buy as much ammunition as they possible could, using the gifts granted them by the Commission last year for this purpose, which shows the extreme folly of that kind of policy, and repeats the old story of Indian treachery. The excuse for issuing arms and ammunition to the tribes is that they may be able to kill buffalo, when every old hunter will tell you that the Indian never kills buffalo with a gun, but always uses his bow and arrow, saving the gun to go to war with. The Indian expedition thus become of vital interest, and upon its success or failure depends the safety of the people on the frontier, the progress of the railroad west, and the future policy of dealing with the Indians. After the troubles commended on the Solomon and along the stations of the road, it was decided not to give the customary annuities to the Indians. Two small expeditions were sent north, resulting in a partial success. All the tribes, except the Dog Soldiers, are now on their Winter grounds, incenses at not receiving their annuities, and seemingly ready for war. General Sheridan's policy seems to be to wait until all these tribes are fully settled in their Winter quarters, then move upon them in their lodges, destroy everything they have if possible, take away their arms, and if any are left, force them to live on reservations below the Arkansas, which may be set apart for them by tribes. For the accomplishment of this end, all or nearly all the troops are cavalry, well supplied with a large number of extra horses, so as to follow up whenever an attack is made. The movement of troops has been going on during the past week toward Fort Dodge, Gen. Sheridan is going on to take command in the field. Their destination will be most likely near the Sand Plains, south of the Arkansas, making this a base of supplies, then attacking the tribes collected together. If we have troops sufficient to keep the Indians from making raids north, and can destroy their lodges and supplies, keep between them and the buffaloes now moving south, the Indian troubles will soon cease; but if those wary warriors can draw out our forces at different points, pass by in small bands and come north, where we have but small bodies of troops, and attack stations on the road before they can be checked, then this Winter will be exciting on the plains. We have this hope, that the Indians cannot fight well in the Winter, except when they can find plenty of forage, and they have to stop quite a portion of time for that purpose, this season, while our cavalry can move right along, being fully supplied. To some it may seem that Gen. Sheridan has not enough troops to successfully meet these combined tribes and defeat them; but we must remember that Sheridan has been on the Plains, that he fully understands Indian fighting, and will be on the ground himself, and has the best outfit ever sent against the Western tribes. With the idea of annihilation of those warring marauders, unless they give up, an idea which is now gaining strength in the East, a policy of war and not of swindling Indian contracts, of permanent peace instead of annual peace pipes and annual slaughters following them; with such plans we may hope for the safety of the frontier and the completion of our railway system; and until this does come none of the West have any hope whatever. Gen. Sheridan and staff started from Fort Hayes this morning, and will reach the last detachment this evening at or near Walnut Creek. He will move down to the Indian country immediately, but it will probably be two or three weeks before active operations can be made. Then we may look for some severe fighting, as the Indians aways fight for their lodges. "
The communication makes several points:
a. That the principle hostile tribes were the Arapahoes, Apaches, Kiowas,
Comanches and "a mixed outlaw band" called the Dog Soldiers.
On the same day (November 27) in the Rocky Mountain News a writer commented on a recent report by the Taylor, commissioner of Indian Affairs. The author was critical of Taylor.
"He seems more fearful that some peaceable Indians will be hurt, than anxious that the warlike ones should be punished, and of course objects to placing the whole business in charge of the War Department. We need look for no satisfactory change in the administration of Indian affairs while men who talk about bringing them under "moral and religious influences" are entrusted with it. We have no patience with it, it makes us sick. Why don't the government send some one to preach to and pray with that South American Indian, Lobez? "
Three days later on November 30, 1868, the New York Tribune reprinted a letter from an army officer at Fort Dodge, on the Arkansas River, which said that on November 18 about 100 Indians attacked the post and were driven off. He noted that the fort had two companies of infantry and 20 cavalrymen, while the remainder of the troops had left on November 16 and were with Generals Sully and Sheridan, south of the Arkansas.
Under the heading of "Gen. Sheridan's Plan of Operation" the New York Tribune on December 1, 1868, carried a story from the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal which noted that:
" Columns of troops are simultaneously moving from the east, north, and west of the locations of the hostile Indians and will force the savages toward the western part of the Indian Territory, or the region intersected by the 35th parallel of latitude and 105th meridian. It is expected that the converging columns will then be able to compel the Indians to surrender, or will chastise them into peace... The converging columns are on the march. They cover a vast expanse of territory, whose sides are more than 400 miles long. The eight columns of troops embrace over 4,000 cavalry, with a sufficient amount of infantry to guard the base of supplies and the trains. Picked scouts--plainsmen accustomed to the Indians and their country--and guides accompany each command. The Indians, with the blood of Kansas settlers fresh on their hands, are falling southward before the advancing army. "
The military tactic of using numerous converging columns against the Indians was analyzed by the New York Tribune in the same December 1, 1868 issue. It noted that the obvious defect of Sheridan's plan of operations "as judged by the rules of books" could prove to be its chief merit. That defect "condemned by the commonest maxims of the art of war" was the use of "isolated columns converging against a common foe, where each of the columns is not able to take care of itself against a concentration of the enemy." However, the analysis mentioned, the "most brilliant victories" were often won by "rising above the rules." The Tribune was not worried. "So brilliant a soldier as Sheridan is not dividing a petty force of 3,000 cavalry into eight separate columns with independent bases of supply and lines of action, without full assurance that he has guarded against the dangers of surprise and defeat in detail." The point being made here was that Sheridan, being an experienced and "brilliant" soldier knew what he was doing in departing from accepted military strategy. The December 3 Leavenworth Evening Bulletin expressed similar confidence in Sheridan.
Sheridan rides again. The boldest and best cavalry leader of our army has started on a campaign against the Indians. Thus far every attempt to reduce these wild men to decent behavior has failed. Good soldiers have lost their laurels in this unpromising field, and so ugly is the problem, that there is no other man in the army but Sheridan who would really covet the responsibility of solving it.
Washita - Chapter Two
Washita - Chapter One
Cumulative First Nations Site Index
This site is maintained by JS Dill.
Your opinion would be much appreciated...