The American Indian as Participant in the Civil War
by Annie Heloise Abel
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BY ANNIE HELOISE ABEL, Ph.D. Professor of History, Smith College


To My former colleagues and students at Goucher College and in the College Courses for Teachers, Johns Hopkins University this book is affectionately dedicated






The Indian alliance, so assiduously sought by the Southern Confederacy and so laboriously built up, soon revealed itself to be most unstable. Direct and unmistakable signs of its instability appeared in connection with the first real military test to which it was subjected, the Battle of Pea Ridge or Elkhorn, as it is better known in the South, the battle that stands out in the history of the War of Secession as being the most decisive victory to date of the Union forces in the West and as marking the turning point in the political relationship of the State of Missouri with the Confederate government.

In the short time during which, following the removal of General Fremont, General David Hunter was in full command of the Department of the West—and it was practically not more than one week—he completely reversed the policy of vigorous offensive that had obtained under men, subordinate to his predecessor.[1] In southwest Missouri, he abandoned the advanced position of the Federals and fell back upon Sedalia and Rolla, railway termini. That he did this at the suggestion of President Lincoln[2] and with the tacit approval of General McClellan[3] makes no

[Footnote 1: The Century Company's War Book, vol. i, 314-315.]

[Footnote 2: Official Records, first ser., vol. iii, 553-554. Hereafter, except where otherwise designated, the first series will always be understood.]

[Footnote 3:—Ibid., 568.]

difference now, as it made no difference then, in the consideration of the consequences; yet the consequences were, none the less, rather serious. They were such, in fact, as to increase very greatly the confusion on the border and to give the Confederates that chance of recovery which soon made it necessary for their foes to do the work of Nathaniel Lyon all over again.

It has been most truthfully said[4] that never, throughout the period of the entire war, did the southern government fully realize the surpassingly great importance of its Trans-Mississippi District; notwithstanding that when that district was originally organized,[5] in January, 1862, some faint idea of what it might, peradventure, accomplish did seem to penetrate,[6] although ever so vaguely, the minds of those then in authority. It was organized under pressure from the West as was natural, and under circumstances to which meagre and tentative reference has already been made in the first volume of this work.[7] In the main, the circumstances were such as developed out of the persistent refusal of General McCulloch to cooeperate with General Price.

There was much to be said in justification of McCulloch's obstinacy. To understand this it is well to recall that, under the plan, lying back of this first

[Footnote 4: Official Records, vol. liii, supplement, 781-782; Edwards, Shelby and His Men, 105.]

[Footnote 5:—Ibid., vol. viii, 734.]

[Footnote 6: It is doubtful if even this ought to be conceded in view of the fact that President Davis later admitted that Van Dorn entered upon the Pea Ridge campaign for the sole purpose of effecting "a diversion in behalf of General Johnston" [Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, vol. ii, 51]. Moreover, Van Dorn had scarcely been assigned to the command of the Trans-Mississippi District before Beauregard was devising plans for bringing him east again [Greene, The Mississippi, II; Roman, Military Operations of General Beauregard, vol. i, 240-244].]

[Footnote 7: Abel, American Indian as Slaveholder and Secessionist, 225-226 and footnote 522.]

appointment to the Confederate command, was the expectation that he would secure the Indian Territory. Obviously, the best way to do that was to occupy it, provided the tribes, whose domicile it was, were willing. But, if the Cherokees can be taken to have voiced the opinion of all, they were not willing, notwithstanding that a sensationally reported[8] Federal activity under Colonel James Montgomery,[9] in the neighborhood of the frontier posts, Cobb, Arbuckle, and Washita, was designed to alarm them and had notably influenced, if it had not actually inspired, the selection and appointment of the Texan ranger.[10]

Unable, by reason of the Cherokee objection thereto, to enter the Indian country; because entrance in the face of that objection would inevitably force the Ross faction of the Cherokees and, possibly also, Indians of other tribes into the arms of the Union, McCulloch intrenched himself on its northeast border, in Arkansas, and there awaited a more favorable opportunity for accomplishing his main purpose. He seems to have desired the Confederate government to add the contiguous portion of Arkansas to his command, but in that he was disappointed.[11] Nevertheless, Arkansas early interpreted his presence in the state to imply that he was there primarily for her defence and, by the middle of June, that idea had so far gained general acceptance that C.C. Danley, speaking for the Arkansas Military Board, urged President Davis "to meet

[Footnote 8: Official Records, vol. liii, supplement, 679.]

[Footnote 9: The name of Montgomery was not one for even Indians to conjure with. James Montgomery was the most notorious of bushwhackers. For an account of some of his earlier adventures, see Spring, Kansas, 241, 247-250, and for a characterization of the man himself, Robinson, Kansas Conflict, 435.]

[Footnote 10: Official Records, vol. liii, supplement, 682.]

[Footnote 11: Snead, Fight for Missouri, 229-230.]

the exigent necessities of the State" by sending a second general officer there, who should command in the northeastern part.[12]

McCulloch's relations with leading Confederates in Arkansas seem to have been, from the first, in the highest degree friendly, even cordial, and it is more than likely that, aside from his unwillingness to offend the neutrality-loving Cherokees, the best explanation for his eventual readiness to make the defence of Arkansas his chief concern, instead of merely a means to the accomplishment of his original task, may be found in that fact. On the twenty-second of May, the Arkansas State Convention instructed Brigadier-general N. Bart Pearce, then in command of the state troops, to cooeperate with the Confederate commander "to the full extent of his ability"[13] and, on the twenty-eighth of the same month, the Arkansas Military Board invited that same person, who, of course, was Ben McCulloch, to assume command himself of the Arkansas local forces.[14] Sympathetic understanding of this variety, so early established, was bound to produce good results and McCulloch henceforth identified himself most thoroughly with Confederate interests in the state in which he was, by dint of untoward circumstances, obliged to bide his time.

It was far otherwise as respected relations between McCulloch and the Missouri leaders. McCulloch had little or no tolerance for the rough-and-ready methods of men like Claiborne Jackson and Sterling Price. He regarded their plans as impractical, chimerical, and their warfare as after the guerrilla order, too much like

[Footnote 12: Official Records, vol. liii, supplement, 698-699.]

[Footnote 13:—Ibid., 687.]

[Footnote 14:—Ibid., 691.]

that to which Missourians and Kansans had accustomed themselves during the period of border conflict, following the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill. McCulloch himself was a man of system. He believed in organization that made for efficiency. Just prior to the Battle of Wilson's Creek, he put himself on record as strongly opposed to allowing unarmed men and camp followers to infest his ranks, demoralizing them.[15] It was not to be expected, therefore, that there could ever be much in common between him and Sterling Price. For a brief period, it is true, the two men did apparently act in fullest harmony; but it was when the safety of Price's own state, Missouri, was the thing directly in hand. That was in early August of 1861. Price put himself and his command subject to McCulloch's orders.[16] The result was the successful engagement, August 10 at Wilson's Creek, on Missouri soil. On the fourteenth of the same month, Price reassumed control of the Missouri State Guard[17] and, from that time on, he and McCulloch drifted farther and farther apart; but, as their aims were so entirely different, it was not to be wondered at.

Undoubtedly, all would have been well had McCulloch been disposed to make the defence of Missouri his only aim. Magnanimity was asked of him such as the Missouri leaders never so much as contemplated showing in return. It seems never to have occurred to either Jackson or Price that cooeperation might, perchance, involve such an exchange of courtesies as would require Price to lend a hand in some project that McCulloch might devise for the well-being of his own particular

[Footnote 15: Official Records, vol. liii, supplement, 721.]

[Footnote 16:—Ibid., 720.]

[Footnote 17:—Ibid., 727.]

charge. The assistance was eventually asked for and refused, refused upon the ground, familiar in United States history, that it would be impossible to get the Missouri troops to cross the state line. Of course, Price's conduct was not without extenuation. His position was not identical with McCulloch's. His force was a state force, McCulloch's a Confederate, or a national. Besides, Missouri had yet to be gained, officially, for the Confederacy. She expected secession states and the Confederacy itself to force the situation for her. And, furthermore, she was in far greater danger of invasion than was Arkansas. The Kansans were her implacable and dreaded foes and Arkansas had none like them to fear.

In reality, the seat of all the trouble between McCulloch and Price lay in particularism, a phase of state rights, and, in its last analysis, provincialism. Now particularism was especially pronounced and especially pernicious in the middle southwest. Missouri had always more than her share of it. Her politicians were impregnated by it. They were interested in their own locality exclusively and seemed quite incapable of taking any broad survey of events that did not immediately affect themselves or their own limited concerns. In the issue between McCulloch and Price, this was all too apparent. The politicians complained unceasingly of McCulloch's neglect of Missouri and, finally, taking their case to headquarters, represented to President Davis that the best interests of the Confederate cause in their state were being glaringly sacrificed by McCulloch's too literal interpretation of his official instructions, in the strict observance of which he was keeping close to the Indian boundary.

President Davis had personally no great liking for

Price and certainly none for his peculiar method of fighting. Some people thought him greatly prejudiced[18] against Price and, in the first instance, perhaps, on nothing more substantial than the fact that Price was not a Westpointer.[19] It would be nearer the truth to say that Davis gauged the western situation pretty accurately and knew where the source of trouble lay. That he did gauge the situation and that accurately is indicated by a suggestion of his, made in early December, for sending out Colonel Henry Heth of Virginia to command the Arkansas and Missouri divisions in combination.[20] Heth had no local attachments in the region and "had not been connected with any of the troops on that line of operations."[21] Unfortunately, for subsequent events his nomination[22] was not confirmed.

Two days later, December 5, 1861, General McCulloch was granted[23] permission to proceed to Richmond, there to explain in person, as he had long wanted to do, all matters in controversy between him and Price. On the third of January, 1862, the Confederate Congress called[24] for information on the subject, doubtless under pressure of political importunity. The upshot of it all was, the organization of the Trans-Mississippi District of Department No. 2 and the appointment of Earl Van Dorn as major-general to command it. Whether or no, he was the choice[25] of General A.S. Johnston, department commander, his appointment bid fair, at the

[Footnote 18: Official Records, vol. liii, supplement, 816-817.]

[Footnote 19: Ibid., 762.]

[Footnote 20:—Ibid., vol. viii, 725.]

[Footnote 21:—Ibid., 701.]

[Footnote 22: Wright, General Officers of the Confederate Army, 33, 67.]

[Footnote 23: Official Records, vol. viii, 702.]

[Footnote 24: Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States, vol. i, 637.]

[Footnote 25: Formby, American Civil War, 129.]

time it was made, to put an end to all local disputes and to give Missouri the attention she craved. The ordnance department of the Confederacy had awakened to a sense of the value of the lead mines[26] at Granby and Van Dorn was instructed especially to protect them.[27] His appointment, moreover, anticipated an early encounter with the Federals in Missouri. In preparation for the struggle that all knew was impending, it was of transcendent importance that one mind and one interest should control, absolutely.

The Trans-Mississippi District would appear to have been constituted and its limits to have been defined without adequate reference to existing arrangements. The limits were, "That part of the State of Louisiana north of Red River, the Indian Territory west of Arkansas, and the States of Arkansas and Missouri, excepting therefrom the tract of country east of the Saint Francis, bordering on the Mississippi River, from the mouth of the Saint Francis to Scott County, Missouri...."[28] Van Dorn, in assuming command of the district, January 29, 1862, issued orders in such form that Indian Territory was listed last among the limits[29] and it was a previous arrangement affecting Indian Territory that was most ignored in the whole scheme of organization.

It will be remembered that, in November of the preceding year, the Department of Indian Territory had been created and Brigadier-general Albert Pike assigned to the same.[30] His authority was not explicitly

[Footnote 26: Official Records, vol. liii, supplement, 767, 774.]

[Footnote 27: Van Dora's protection, if given, was given to little purpose; for the mines were soon abandoned [Britton, Memoirs of the Rebellion on the Border, 1863, 120].]

[Footnote 28: Official Records, vol. viii, 734.]

[Footnote 29:—Ibid., 745.]

[Footnote 30:—Ibid., 690.]

superseded by that which later clothed Van Dorn and yet his department was now to be absorbed by a military district, which was itself merely a section of another department. The name and organization of the Department of Indian Territory remained to breed confusion, disorder, and serious discontent at a slightly subsequent time. Of course, since the ratification of the treaties of alliance with the tribes, there was no question to be raised concerning the status of Indian Territory as definitely a possession of the Southern Confederacy. Indeed, it had, in a way, been counted as such, actual and prospective, ever since the enactment of the marque and reprisal law of May 6, 1861.[31]

Albert Pike, having accepted the appointment of department commander in Indian Territory under somewhat the same kind of a protest—professed consciousness of unfitness for the post—as he had accepted the earlier one of commissioner, diplomatic, to the tribes, lost no time in getting into touch with his new duties. There was much to be attended to before he could proceed west. His appointment had come and had been accepted in November. Christmas was now near at hand and he had yet to render an account of his mission of treaty-making. In late December, he sent in his official report[32] to President Davis and, that done, held himself in readiness to respond to any interpellating call that the Provincial Congress might see fit to make. The intervals of time, free from devotion to the completion of the older task, were spent by him in close attention to the preliminary details of the newer, in securing funds and in purchasing supplies and equipment

[Footnote 31: Richardson, Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, vol. i, 105.]

[Footnote 32: The official report of Commissioner Pike, in manuscript, and bearing his signature, is to be found in the Adjutant-general's office of the U.S. War Department.]

generally, also in selecting a site for his headquarters. By command of Secretary of War, Judah P. Benjamin, Major N.B. Pearce[33] was made chief commissary of subsistence for Indian Territory and Western Arkansas and Major G.W. Clarke,[34] depot quartermaster. In the sequel of events, both appointments came to be of a significance rather unusual.

The site chosen for department headquarters was a place situated near the junction of the Verdigris and Arkansas Rivers and not far from Fort Gibson.[35] The fortifications erected there received the name of Cantonment Davis and upon them, in spite of Pike's decidedly moderate estimate in the beginning, the Confederacy was said by a contemporary to have spent "upwards of a million dollars."[36] In view of the ostensible object of the very formation of the department and of Pike's appointment to its command, the defence of Indian Territory, and, in view of the existing location of enemy troops, challenging that defence, the selection of the site was a reasonably wise one; but, as subsequent pages will reveal, the commander did not retain it long as his headquarters. Troubles came thick and fast upon him and he had barely reached Cantonment Davis before they began. His delay in reaching that place, which he did do, February 25,[37] was caused by various occurrences that made it difficult for him to get his materials together, his funds and the like. The very difficulties presaged disaster.

Pike's great purpose—and, perhaps, it would be no exaggeration to say, his only purpose—throughout the

[Footnote 33: Official Records, vol. liii, supplement, 764.]

[Footnote 34:—Ibid, 770.]

[Footnote 35:—Ibid, 764.]

[Footnote 36: Britton, Memoirs of the Rebellion on the Border, 72.]

[Footnote 37: Official Records, vol. viii, 286.]

full extent of his active connection with the Confederacy was to save to that Confederacy the Indian Territory. The Indian occupants in and for themselves, unflattering as it may seem to them for historical investigators to have to admit it, were not objects of his solicitude except in so far as they contributed to his real and ultimate endeavor. He never at any time or under any circumstances advocated their use generally as soldiers outside of Indian Territory in regular campaign work and offensively.[38] As guerrillas he would have used them.[39] He would have sent them on predatory expeditions into Kansas or any other near-by state where pillaging would have been profitable or retaliatory; but never as an organized force, subject to the rules of civilized warfare because fully cognizant of them.[40] It is doubtful if he would ever have allowed them, had he consulted only his own inclination, to so much as cross the line except under stress of an attack from without. He would never have sanctioned their joining an unprovoked invading force. In the treaties

[Footnote 38: The provision in the treaties to the effect that the alliance consummated between the Indians and the Confederate government was to be both offensive and defensive must not be taken too literally or be construed so broadly as to militate against this fact: for to its truth Pike, when in distress later on and accused of leading a horde of tomahawking villains, repeatedly bore witness. The keeping back of a foe, bent upon regaining Indian Territory or of marauding, might well be said to partake of the character of offensive warfare and yet not be that in intent or in the ordinary acceptation of the term. Everything would have to depend upon the point of view.]

[Footnote 39: A restricted use of the Indians in offensive guerrilla action Pike would doubtless have permitted and justified. Indeed, he seems even to have recommended it in the first days of his interest in the subject of securing Indian Territory. No other interpretation can possibly be given to his suggestion that a battalion be raised from Indians that more strictly belonged to Kansas [Official Records, vol. iii, 581]. It is also conceivable that the force he had reference to in his letter to Benjamin, November 27, 1861 [Ibid., vol. viii, 698] was to be, in part, Indian.]

[Footnote 40: Harrell, Confederate Military History, vol. x, 121-122.]

which he negotiated he pledged distinctly and explicitly the opposite course of action, unless, indeed, the Indian consent were first obtained.[41] The Indian troops, however and wherever raised under the provisions of those treaties, were expected by Pike to constitute, primarily, a home guard and nothing more. If by chance it should happen that, in performing their function as a home guard, they should have to cross their own boundary in order to expel or to punish an intruder, well and good; but their intrinsic character as something resembling a police patrol could not be deemed thereby affected. Moreover, Pike did not believe that acting alone they could even be a thoroughly adequate home force. He, therefore, urged again and again that their contingent should be supplemented by a white force and by one sufficiently large to give dignity and poise and self-restraint to the whole, when both forces were combined, as they always ought to be.[42]

At the time of Pike's assumption of his ill-defined command, or within a short period thereafter, the Indian force in the pay of the Confederacy and subject to his orders may be roughly placed at four full regiments and some miscellaneous troops.[43] The dispersion[44] of Colonel John Drew's Cherokees, when about to attack Opoeth-le-yo-ho-la, forced a slight reoerganization and that, taken in connection with the accretions to the command that came in the interval before the Pea Ridge campaign brought the force approximately to four full

[Footnote 41: In illustration of this, take the statement of the Creek Treaty, article xxxvi.]

[Footnote 42: Aside from the early requests for white troops, which were antecedent to his own appointment as brigadier-general, Pike's insistence upon the need for the same can be vouched for by reference to his letter to R.W. Johnson, January 5, 1862 [Official Records, vol. liii, supplement, 795-796].]

[Footnote 43: Pike to Benjamin, November 27, 1861, Ibid, vol. viii, 697.]

[Footnote 44: Official Records, vol. viii, 8, 17-18.]

regiments, two battalions, and some detached companies. The four regiments were, the First Regiment Choctaw and Chickasaw Mounted Rifles under Colonel Douglas H. Cooper, the First Creek Regiment under Colonel D.N. McIntosh, the First Regiment Cherokee Mounted Rifles under Colonel John Drew, and the Second Regiment Cherokee Mounted Rifles under Colonel Stand Watie. The battalions were, the Choctaw and Chickasaw and the Creek and Seminole, the latter under Lieutenant-colonel Chilly McIntosh and Major John Jumper.

Major-general Earl Van Dorn formally assumed command of the newly created Trans-Mississippi District of Department No. 2, January 29, 1862.[45] He was then at Little Rock, Arkansas. By February 6, he had moved up to Jacksonport and, a week or so later, to Pocahontas, where his slowly-assembling army was to rendezvous. His call for troops had already gone forth and was being promptly answered,[46] requisition having been made upon all the state units within the district, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, also Texas. Indian Territory, through Pike[47] and his subordinates,[48] was yet to be communicated with; but Van Dorn had, at the moment, no other plan in view for Indian troops than to use them to advantage as a means of defence and as a corps of observation.[49] His immediate object, according to his own showing and according to the circumstances that had brought about the formation of the district, was to protect Arkansas[50] against

[Footnote 45: Official Records, vol. viii, 745-746.]

[Footnote 46:—Ibid., vol. liii, supplement, 776-779, 783-785, 790, 793-794.]

[Footnote 47:—Ibid., vol. viii, 749, 763-764.]

[Footnote 48:—Ibid., 764-765.]

[Footnote 49: Van Dorn to Price, February 14, 1862, Ibid., 750.]

[Footnote 50: Arkansas seemed, at the time, to be but feebly protected. R.W. Johnson deprecated the calling of Arkansas troops eastward. They were (cont.)]

invasion and to relieve Missouri; his plan of operations was to conduct a spring campaign in the latter state, "to attempt St. Louis," as he himself put it, and to drive the Federals out; his ulterior motive may have been and, in the light of subsequent events, probably was, to effect a diversion for General A.S. Johnston; but, if that were really so, it was not, at the time, divulged or so much as hinted at.

Ostensibly, the great object that Van Dorn had in mind was the relief of Missouri. And he may have dreamed, that feat accomplished, that it would be possible to carry the war into the enemy's country beyond the Ohio; but, alas, it was his misfortune at this juncture to be called upon to realise, to his great discomfiture, the truth of Robert Burns' homely philosophy,

The best-laid schemes o' mice and men Gang aft a-gley.

His own schemes and plans were all rendered utterly futile by the unexpected movement of the Federal forces from Rolla, to which safe place, it will be remembered, they had been drawn back by order of General Hunter. They were now advancing by forced marches via Springfield into northwestern Arkansas and were driving before them the Confederates under McCulloch and Price.

The Federal forces comprised four huge divisions and were led by Brigadier-general Samuel R. Curtis. Towards the end of the previous December, on Christmas Day in fact, Curtis had been given "command of the Southwestern District of Missouri, including the

[Footnote 50: (cont.) text of continuation: needed at home, not only for the defence of Arkansas, but for that of the adjoining territory [Official Records, vol. liii, supplement, 781-782]. There were, in fact, only two Arkansas regiments absent and they were guarding the Mississippi River [Ibid., 786]. By the middle of February, or thereabouts, Price and McCulloch were in desperate straits and were steadily "falling back before a superior force to the Boston Mountains" [Ibid., 787].]

country south of the Osage and west of the Meramec River."[51] Under orders of November 9, the old Department of the West, of which Fremont had had charge and subsequently Hunter, but for only a brief period, had been reorganized and divided into two distinct departments, the Department of Missouri with Halleck in command and the Department of Kansas with Hunter. Curtis, at the time when he made his memorable advance movement from Rolla was, therefore, serving under Halleck.

In furtherance of Van Dorn's original plan, General Pike had been ordered to march with all speed and join forces with the main army. At the time of the issuance of the order, he seems to have offered no objections to taking his Indians out of their own territory. Disaster had not yet overtaken them or him and he had not yet met with the injustice that was afterwards his regular lot. If his were regarded as more or less of a puppet command, he was not yet aware of it and, oblivious of all scorn felt for Indian soldiers, kept his eye single on the assistance he was to render in the accomplishment of Van Dorn's object. It was anything but easy, however, for him to move with dispatch. He had difficulty in getting such of his brigade as was Indian and as had collected at Cantonment Davis, a Choctaw and Chickasaw battalion and the First Creek Regiment, to stir. They had not been paid their money and had not been furnished with arms and clothing as promised. Pike had the necessary funds with him, but time would be needed in which to distribute them, and the order had been for him to move promptly. It was something much more easily said than done. Nevertheless, he did what he could, paid outright the Choctaws and Chickasaws, a performance that occupied

[Footnote 51: Official Records, vol. liii, supplement, vol. viii, 462.]

three precious days, and agreed to pay McIntosh's Creek regiment at the Illinois River. To keep that promise he tarried at Park Hill one day, expecting there to be overtaken by additional Choctaws and Chickasaws who had been left behind at Fort Gibson. When they did not appear, he went forward towards Evansville and upward to Cincinnati, a small town on the Arkansas side of the Cherokee line. There his Indian force was augmented by Stand Watie's regiment[52] of Cherokees and at Smith's Mill by John

[Footnote 52: Watie's regiment of Cherokees was scarcely in either marching or fighting trim. The following letter from John Ross to Pike, which is number nine in the John Ross Papers in the Indian Office, is elucidative. It is a copy used in the action against John Ross at the close of the war. The italics indicate underscorings that were probably not in the original.


To BRIG. GEN'L.A. PIKE, Com'dy Indian Department.

Sir: I have deemed it my duty to address you on the present occasion—You have doubtless ere this received my communication enclosing the action of the National Council with regard to the final ratification of our Treaty—Col. Drew's Regiment promptly took up the line of march on the receipt of your order from Fort Smith towards Fayetteville. I accompanied the Troops some 12 miles East of this and I am happy to assure you in the most confident manner that in my opinion this Regiment will not fail to do their whole duty, whenever the Conflict with the common Enemy shall take place. There are so many conflicting reports as to your whereabouts and consequently much interest is felt by the People to know where the Head Qrs. of your military operations will be established during the present emergencies—I had intended going up to see the Troops of our Regiment; also to visit the Head Qrs of the Army at Cane Hill in view of affording every aid in any manner within the reach of my power to repel the Enemy. But I am sorry to say I have been dissuaded from going at present in consequence of some unwarrantable conduct on the part of many base, reckless and unprincipled persons belonging to Watie's Regiment who are under no subordination or restraint of their leaders in domineering over and trampling upon the rights of peaceable and unoffending citizens. I have at all times in the most unequivocal manner assured the People that you will not only promptly discountenance, but will take steps to put a stop to such proceedings for the protection of their persons and property and to redress their wrongs—This is not the time for crimination and recrimination; at a proper time I have certain specific complaints to report for your investigation. Pardon me for again reiterating that (cont.)]

Drew's.[53] The Cherokees had been in much confusion all winter. Civil war within their nation impended.[54] None the less, Pike, assuming that all would be well when the call for action came, had ordered all the Cherokee and Creek regiments to hurry to the help of McCulloch.[55] He had done this upon the first intimation of the Federal advance. The Cherokees had proceeded only so far, the Creeks not at all, and the main body of the Choctaws and Chickasaws, into whose minds some unscrupulous merchants had instilled mercenary motives and the elements of discord generally, were lingering far in the background. Pike's white force was, moreover, ridiculously small, some Texas cavalry, dignified by him as collectively a squadron, Captain O.G. Welch in command. There had as yet not been even a pretense of giving him the three regiments of white men earlier asked for. Toward the close of the afternoon of March 6, Pike "came up with the rear of McCulloch's division,"[56] which proved to be the very division he was to follow, but he was one day late for the fray.

The Battle of Pea Ridge, in its preliminary stages, was already being fought. It was a three day fight, counting the skirmish at Bentonville on the sixth between General Franz Sigel's detachment and General Sterling Price's advance guard as the work of the first day.[57] The real battle comprised the engagement at

[Footnote 52: (cont.) the mass of the People are all right in Sentiment for the support of the Treaty of Alliance with the Confederate States. I shall be happy to hear from you—I have the honor to be your ob't Serv't

John Ross, Prin'l Chief, Cherokee Nation.]

[Footnote 53: Pike's Report, March 14, 1862, Official Records, vol. viii, 286-292.]

[Footnote 54: James McIntosh to S. Cooper, January 4, 1862, Ibid., 732; D.H. Cooper to Pike, February 10, 1862, Ibid., vol. xiii, 896.]

[Footnote 55:—Ibid., 819.]

[Footnote 56:—Ibid., vol. viii, 287.]

[Footnote 57:—Ibid., 208-215, 304-306.]

Leetown on the seventh and that at Elkhorn Tavern[58] on the eighth. At Leetown, Pike's Cherokee contingent[59] played what he, in somewhat quixotic fashion, perhaps, chose to regard as a very important part. The Indians, then as always, were chiefly pony-mounted, "entirely undisciplined," as the term discipline is usually understood, and "armed very indifferently with common rifles and ordinary shot-guns."[60] The ponies, in the end, proved fleet of foot, as was to have been expected, and, at one stage of the game, had to be tethered in the rear while their masters fought from the vantage-ground of trees.[61] The Indian's most effective work was done, throughout, under cover of the woods. Indians, as Pike well knew, could never be induced to face shells in the open. It was he who advised their climbing the trees and he did it without discounting, in the slightest, their innate bravery.[62] There came a time, too, when he gave countenance to another of their

[Footnote 58: The Elkhorn Tavern engagement is sometimes referred to, and most appropriately, as the Sugar Creek [Phisterer, Statistical Record, 95]. Colonel Eugene A. Carr of the Third Illinois Cavalry, commanding the Fourth Division of Curtis's army, described the tavern itself as "situated on the west side of the Springfield and Fayetteville road, at the head of a gorge known as Cross Timber Hollow (the head of Sugar Creek) ..." [Official Records, vol. viii, 258]. "Sugar Creek Hollow," wrote Curtis, "extends for miles, a gorge, with rough precipitate sides ..." [Ibid., 589]. It was there the closing scenes of the great battle were enacted.]

[Footnote 59: The practice, indulged in by both the Federals and the Confederates, of greatly overestimating the size of the enemy force was resorted to even in connection with the Indians. Pike gave the number of his whole command as about a thousand men, Indians and whites together [Official Records, vol. viii, 288; xiii, 820] notwithstanding that he had led Van Dorn to expect that he would have a force of "about 8,000 or 9,000 men and three batteries of artillery" [Ibid., vol. viii, 749]. General Curtis surmised that Pike contributed five regiments [Ibid., 196] and Wiley Britton, who had excellent opportunity of knowing better because he had access to the records of both sides, put the figures at "three regiments of Indians and two regiments of Texas cavalry" [Civil War on the Border, vol. i, 245].]

[Footnote 60: Official Records, vol. xiii, 819.]

[Footnote 61:—Ibid., vol. viii, 288.]

[Footnote 62:—Ibid.]

peculiarities. He allowed Colonel Drew's men to fight in a way that was "their own fashion,"[63] with bow and arrow and with tomahawk.[64] This, as was only meet it should, called down upon him and them the opprobrium of friends and foes alike.[65] The Indian war-whoop was indulged in, of itself enough to terrify. It was hideous.

The service that the Cherokees rendered at different times during the two days action was not, however, to be despised, even though not sufficiently conspicuous to be deemed worthy of comment by Van Dorn.[66] At Leetown, with the aid of a few Texans, they managed to get possession of a battery and to hold it against repeated endeavors of the Federals to regain. The death of McCulloch and of McIntosh made Pike the ranking officer in his part of the field. It fell to him to rally

[Footnote 63: Official Records, vol. viii, 289.]

[Footnote 64:—Ibid., 195.]

[Footnote 65: The northern press took up the matter and the New York Tribune was particularly virulent against Pike. In its issue of March 27, 1862, it published the following in bitter sarcasm:

"The Albert Pike who led the Aboriginal Corps of Tomahawkers and Scalpers at the battle of Pea Ridge, formerly kept school in Fairhaven, Mass., where he was indicted for playing the part of Squeers, and cruelly beating and starving a boy in his family. He escaped by some hocus-pocus law, and emigrated to the West, where the violence of his nature has been admirably enhanced. As his name indicates, he is a ferocious fish, and has fought duels enough to qualify himself to be a leader of savages. We suppose that upon the recent occasion, he got himself up in good style, war-paint, nose-ring, and all. This new Pontiac is also a poet, and wrote 'Hymns to the Gods' in Blackwood; but he has left Jupiter, Juno, and the rest, and betaken himself to the culture of the Great Spirit, or rather of two great spirits, whisky being the second."]

[Footnote 66: Van Dorn did not make his detailed official report of this battle until the news had leaked out that the Indians had mangled the bodies of the dead and committed other atrocities. He was probably then desirous of being as silent as he dared be concerning Indian participation, since he, in virtue of his being chief in command, was the person mainly responsible for it. In October of the preceding year, McCulloch had favored using the Indians against Kansas [Official Records, vol. iii, 719, 721]. Cooper objected strongly to their being kept "at home" [Ibid., 614] and one of the leading chiefs insisted that they did not intend to use the scalping knife [Ibid., 625].]

McCulloch's broken army and with it to join Van Dorn. On the eighth, Colonel Watie's men under orders from Van Dorn took position on the high ridges where they could watch the movements of the enemy and give timely notice of any attempt to turn the Confederate left flank. Colonel Drew's regiment, meanwhile, not having received the word passed along the line to move forward, remained in the woods near Leetown, the last in the field. Subsequently, finding themselves deserted, they drew back towards Camp Stephens, where they were soon joined by "General Cooper, with his regiment and battalion of Choctaws and Chickasaws, and" by "Colonel McIntosh with 200 men of his regiment of Creeks."[67] The delinquent wayfarers were both fortunate and unfortunate in thus tardily arriving upon the scene. They had missed the fight but they had also missed the temptation to revert to the savagery that was soon to bring fearful ignominy upon their neighbors. To the very last of the Pea Ridge engagement, Stand Watie's men were active. They covered the retreat of the main army, to a certain extent. They were mostly half-breeds and, so far as can be definitely ascertained, were entirely guiltless of the atrocities charged against the others.

General Pike gave the permission to fight "in their own fashion" specifically to the First Cherokee Mounted Rifles, who were, for the most part, full-blooded Indians; but he later confessed that, in his treaty negotiations with the tribes, they had generally stipulated that they should, if they fought at all, be allowed to fight as they knew how.[68] Yet they probably did not mean, thereby, to commit atrocities and the Cherokee National Council lost no time, after the Indian shortcomings

[Footnote 67: Official Records, vol. viii, 292.]

[Footnote 68:—Ibid., vol. xiii, 819.]

at the Battle of Pea Ridge had become known, in putting itself on record as standing opposed to the sort of thing that had occurred,

Resolved, That in the opinion of the National Council, the war now existing between the said United States and the Confederate States and their Indian allies should be conducted on the most humane principles which govern the usages of war among civilized nations, and that it be and is earnestly recommended to the troops of this nation in the service of the Confederate States to avoid any acts toward captured or fallen foes that would be incompatible with such usages.[69]

The atrocities committed by the Indians became almost immediately a matter for correspondence between the opposing commanders. The Federals charged mutilation of dead bodies on the battle-field and the tomahawking and scalping of prisoners. The Confederates recriminated as against persons "alleged to be Germans." The case involving the Indians was reported to the joint committee of Congress on the Conduct of the Present War;[70] but at least one piece of evidence was not, at that time, forthcoming, a piece that, in a certain sense, might be taken to exonerate the whites. It came to the knowledge of General Blunt during the summer and was the Indians' own confession. It bore only indirectly upon the actual atrocities but showed that the red men were quite equal to making their own plans in fighting and were not to be relied upon to do things decently and in order. Drew's men, when they deserted the Confederates after the skirmish of July third at Locust Grove, confided to the Federals the intelligence "that the killing of the white rebels by the Indians in" the Pea Ridge "fight was determined

[Footnote 69: Official Records, vol. xiii, 826.]

[Footnote 70: By vote of the committee, General Curtis had been instructed to furnish information on the subject of the employment of Indians by the Confederates [Journal, 92].]

upon before they went into battle."[71] Presumptively, if the Cherokees could plot to kill their own allies, they could be found despicable enough and cruel enough to mutilate the dead,[72] were the chance given them and that without any direction, instruction, or encouragement from white men being needed.

The Confederate defeat at Pea Ridge was decisive and, as far as Van Dorn's idea of relieving Missouri was concerned, fatally conclusive. As early as the twenty-first of February, Beauregard had expressed a wish to have him east of the Mississippi[73] and March had not yet expired before Van Dorn was writing in such a way as to elicit the consummation of the wish. The Federals were in occupation of the northern part of Arkansas; but Van Dorn was very confident they would not be able to subsist there long or "do much harm in the west." In his opinion, therefore, it was incumbent upon the Confederates, instead of dividing their strength between the east and the west, to concentrate on the saving of the Mississippi.[74] To all appearances, it was there that the situation was most critical. In due time, came the order for Van Dorn to repair eastward and to take with him all the troops that might be found available.

The completeness of Curtis's victory, the loss to the Southerners, by death or capture, of some of their best-loved and ablest commanders, McCulloch, McIntosh, Hebert, and the nature of the country through which the Federals pursued their fleeing forces, to say nothing of the miscellaneous and badly-trained character of

[Footnote 71: Official Records, vol. xiii, 486.]

[Footnote 72: The same charge was made against the Indians who fought at Wilson's Creek [Leavenworth Daily Conservative, August 24, 1861].]

[Footnote 73: Roman, Military Operations of General Beauregard, vol. i, 240.]

[Footnote 74: Official Records, vol. viii, 796.]

those forces, to which, by the way, Van Dorn ascribed[75] much of his recent ill-success, all helped to make the retirement of the Confederates from the Pea Ridge battle-ground pretty much of a helter-skelter affair. From all accounts, the Indians conducted themselves as well as the best. The desire of everybody was to get to a place of safety and that right speedily. Colonel Watie and his regiment made their way to Camp Stephens,[76] near which place the baggage train had been left[77] and where Cooper and Drew with their men had found refuge already. Some two hundred of Watie's Indians were detailed to help take ammunition back to the main army.[78] The baggage train moved on to Elm Springs, the remainder of the Indians, under Cooper, assisting in protecting it as far as that place.[79] At Walnut Grove, the Watie detail, having failed to deliver the ammunition because of the departure of the army prior to their arrival, rejoined their comrades and all moved on to Cincinnati, where Pike, who with a few companions had wandered several days among the mountains, came up with them.[80]

In Van Dorn's calculations for troops that should accompany him east or follow in his wake, the Indians had no place. Before his own plans took final shape and while he was still arranging for an Army of the West, his orders for the Indians were, that they should make their way back as best they could to their own country and there operate "to cut off trains, annoy the enemy in his marches, and to prevent him as far as possible from supplying his troops from Missouri and

[Footnote 75: Official Records, vol. viii, 282.]

[Footnote 76:—Ibid.. 291.]

[Footnote 77:—Ibid., 317.]

[Footnote 78:—Ibid., 318.]

[Footnote 79:—Ibid.; Britton, Civil War on the Border, vol. i, 273.]

[Footnote 80: Official Records, vol. viii, 292.]

Kansas."[81] A little later, but still anterior to Van Dorn's summons east, more minute particulars of the programme were addressed to Pike. Maury wrote,

The general commanding has decided to march with his army against the enemy now invading the northeastern part of the State. Upon you, therefore, will devolve the necessity of impeding his advance into this region. It is not expected that you will give battle to a large force, but by felling trees, burning bridges, removing supplies of forage and subsistence, attacking his trains, stampeding his animals, cutting off his detachments, and other similar means, you will be able materially to harass his army and protect this region of country. You must endeavor by every means to maintain yourself in the Territory independent of this army. In case only of absolute necessity you may move southward. If the enemy threatens to march through the Indian Territory or descend the Arkansas River you may call on troops from Southwestern Arkansas and Texas to rally to your aid. You may reward your Indian troops by giving them such stores as you may think proper when they make captures from the enemy, but you will please endeavor to restrain them from committing any barbarities upon the wounded, prisoners, or dead who may fall into their hands. You may purchase your supplies of subsistence from wherever you can most advantageously do so. You will draw your ammunition from Little Rock or from New Orleans via Red River. Please communicate with the general commanding when practicable.[82]

It was an elaborate programme but scarcely a noble one. Its note of selfishness sounded high. The Indians were simply to be made to serve the ends of the white men. Their methods of warfare were regarded as distinctly inferior. Pea Ridge was, in fact, the first and last time that they were allowed to participate in the war on a big scale. Henceforth, they were rarely ever anything more than scouts and skirmishers and that was all they were really fitted to be.

[Footnote 81: Official Records, vol. viii, 282, 790; vol. liii, supplement, 796.]

[Footnote 82:—Ibid., vol. viii, 795-796.]


The Indian Expedition had its beginnings, fatefully or otherwise, in "Lane's Kansas Brigade." On January 29, 1861, President Buchanan signed the bill for the admission of Kansas into the Union and the matter about which there had been so much of bitter controversy was at last professedly settled; but, alas, for the peace of the border, the radicals, the extremists, the fanatics, call them what one may, who had been responsible for the controversy and for its bitterness, were still unsettled. James Lane was chief among them. His was a turbulent spirit and it permitted its owner no cessation from strife. With President Lincoln's first call for volunteers, April 15, 1861, Lane's martial activities began. Within three days, he had gathered together a company of warriors,[83] the nucleus, psychologically speaking, of what was to be his notorious, jayhawking, marauding brigade. His enthusiasm was infectious. It communicated itself to reflective men like Carl Schurz[84] and was probably the secret of Lane's

[Footnote 83: John Hay records in his Diary, "The White House is turned into barracks. Jim Lane marshaled his Kansas warriors to-day at Willard's and placed them at the disposal of Major Hunter, who turned them to-night into the East Room. It is a splendid company—worthy such an armory. Besides the Western Jayhawkers it comprises some of the best material in the East. Senator Pomeroy and old Anthony Bleecker stood shoulder to shoulder in the ranks. Jim Lane walked proudly up and down the ranks with a new sword that the Major had given him. The Major has made me his aid, and I labored under some uncertainty, as to whether I should speak to privates or not."—THAYER, Life and Letters of John Hay, vol. i, 92.]

[Footnote 84: It would seem to have communicated itself to Carl Schurz, although Schurz, in his Reminiscences, makes no definite admission of the fact. Hay (cont.)]

mysterious influence with the temperate, humane, just, and so very much more magnanimous Lincoln, who, in the first days of the war, as in the later and the last, had his hours of discouragement and deep depression. For dejection of any sort, the wild excitement and boundless confidence of a zealot like Lane must have been somewhat of an antidote, also a stimulant.

The first Kansas state legislature convened March 26, 1861, and set itself at once to work to put the new machinery of government into operation. After much political wire-pulling that involved the promise of spoils to come,[85] James H. Lane and Samuel C. Pomeroy[86] were declared to be elected United States senators, the term of office of each to begin with the first session of the thirty-seventh congress. That session was

[Footnote 84: (cont.) says, "Going into Nicolay's room this morning, C. Schurz, and J. Lane were sitting. Jim was at the window, filling his soul with gall by steady telescopic contemplation of a Secession flag impudently flaunting over a roof in Alexandria. 'Let me tell you,' said he to the elegant Teuton, 'we have got to whip these scoundrels like hell, C. Schurz. They did a good thing stoning our men at Baltimore and shooting away the flag at Sumter. It has set the great North a-howling for blood, and they'll have it.'

"'I heard,' said Schurz, 'you preached a sermon to your men yesterday.'

"'No, sir! this is not time for preaching. When I went to Mexico there were four preachers in my regiment. In less than a week I issued orders for them all to stop preaching and go to playing cards. In a month or so, they were the biggest devils and best fighters I had.'

"An hour afterwards, C. Schurz told me he was going home to arm his clansmen for the wars. He has obtained three months' leave of absence from his diplomatic duties, and permission to raise a cavalry regiment. He will make a wonderful land pirate; bold, quick, brilliant, and reckless. He will be hard to control and difficult to direct. Still, we shall see. He is a wonderful man."—THAYER, Life and Letters of John Hay, vol. i, 102-103.]

[Footnote 85: In Connelley's James Henry Lane, the "Grim Chieftain" of Kansas, the following is quoted as coming from Lane himself:

"Of the fifty-six men in the Legislature who voted for Jim Lane, five-and-forty now wear shoulder-straps. Doesn't Jim Lane look out for his friends?"]

[Footnote 86: John Brown's rating of Pomeroy, as given by Stearns in his Life and Public Services of George Luther Stearns, 133-134, would show him to have been a considerably less pugnacious individual than was Lane.]

the extra one, called for July, 1861. Immediately, a difficulty arose due to the fact that, subsequent to his election to the senatorship and in addition thereto, Lane had accepted a colonelcy tendered by Oliver P. Morton[87] of Indiana, his own native state.[88] Lane's friends very plausibly contended that a military commission from one state could not invalidate the title to represent another state in the Federal senate. The actual fight over the contested seat came in the next session and, quite regardless of consequences likely to prejudice his case, Lane went on recruiting for his brigade. Indeed, he commended himself to Fremont, who, in his capacity as major-general of volunteers and in charge of the Western Military District, assigned him to duty in Kansas, thus greatly complicating an already delicate situation and immeasurably heaping up difficulties, embarrassments, and disasters for the frontier.

The same indifference towards the West that characterized the governing authorities in the South was exhibited by eastern men in the North and, correspondingly, the West, Federal and Confederate, was unduly sensitive to the indifference, perhaps, also, a trifle unnecessarily alarmed by symptoms of its own danger. Nevertheless, its danger was real. Each state gave in its adherence to the Confederacy separately and, therefore, every single state in the slavery belt had a problem to solve. The fight for Missouri was fought

[Footnote 87: Morton, war governor of Indiana, who had taken tremendous interest in the struggle for Kansas and in the events leading up to the organization of the Republican party, was one of the most energetic of men in raising troops for the defence of the Union, especially in the earliest stages of the war. See Foulke's Life of Oliver P. Morton, vol. i.]

[Footnote 88: Some doubt on this point exists. John Speer, Lane's intimate friend and, in a sense, his biographer, says Lane claimed Lawrenceburg, Indiana, as his birthplace. By some people he is thought to have been born in Kentucky.]

on the border and nowhere else. The great evil of squatter sovereignty days was now epidemic in its most malignant form. Those days had bred intense hatred between Missourian and Kansan and had developed a disregard of the value of human life and a ruthlessness and brutality in fighting, concomitant with it, that the East, in its most primitive times, had never been called upon to experience. Granted that the spirit of the crusader had inspired many a free-soiler to venture into the trans-Missouri region after the Kansas-Nebraska bill had become law and that real exaltation of soul had transformed some very mercenary and altogether mundane characters unexpectedly into martyrs; granted, also, that the pro-slavery man honestly felt that his cause was just and that his sacred rights of property, under the constitution, were being violated, his preserves encroached upon, it yet remains true that great crimes were committed in the name of great causes and that villains stalked where only saints should have trod. The irregular warfare of the border, from fifty-four on, while it may, to military history as a whole, be as unimportant as the quarrels of kites and crows, was yet a big part of the life of the frontiersman and frightful in its possibilities. Sherman's march to the sea or through the Carolinas, disgraceful to modern civilization as each undeniably was, lacked the sickening phase, guerrilla atrocities, that made the Civil War in the West, to those at least who were in line to experience it at close range, an awful nightmare. Union and Confederate soldiers might well fraternize in eastern camps because there they so rarely had any cause for personal hostility towards each other, but not in western. The fight on the border was constant and to the death.

The leaders in the West or many of them, on both sides, were men of ungovernable tempers, of violent and unrestrained passions, sometimes of distressingly base proclivities, although, in the matter of both vices and virtues, there was considerable difference of degree among them. Lane and Shelby and Montgomery and Quantrill were hardly types, rather should it be said they were extreme cases. They seem never to have taken chances on each other's inactivity. Their motto invariably was, to be prepared for the worst, and their practice, retaliation.

It was scarcely to be supposed that a man like Lane, who had never known moderation in the course of the long struggle for Kansas or been over scrupulous about anything would, in the event of his adopted state's being exposed anew to her old enemy, the Missourian, be able to pose contentedly as a legislator or stay quietly in Washington, his role of guardian of the White House being finished.[89] The anticipated danger to Kansas visibly threatened in the summer of 1861 and the critical moment saw Lane again in the West, energetic beyond precedent. He took up his position at Fort Scott, it being his conviction that, from that point and from the line of the Little Osage, the entire eastern section of the state, inclusive of Fort Leavenworth, could best be protected.[90]

[Footnote 89: As Villard tells us [Memoirs, vol. i, 169], Lane was in command of the "Frontier Guards," one of the two special patrols that protected the White House in the early days of the war. There were those, however, who resented his presence there. For example, note the diary entry of Hay, "Going to my room, I met the Captain. He was a little boozy and very eloquent. He dilated on the troubles of the time and bewailed the existence of a garrison in the White House 'to give eclat to Jim Lane.'"—Thayer, op. cit., vol. i, 94. The White House guard was in reality under General Hunter [Report of the Military Services of General David Hunter, 8].]

[Footnote 90: Official Records, vol. iii, 453, 455.]

Fort Scott was the ranking town among the few Federal strongholds in the middle Southwest. It was within convenient, if not easy, distance of Crawford Seminary which, situated to the southward in the Quapaw Nation, was the headquarters of the Neosho Agency; but no more perturbed place could be imagined than was that same Neosho Agency at the opening of the Civil War. Bad white men, always in evidence at moments of crisis, were known to be interfering with the Osages, exciting them by their own marauding to deviltry and mischief of the worst description.[91] As a

[Footnote 91: A letter from Superintendent W.G. Coffin of date, July, 30, 1861 [Indian Office Special Files, no. 201, Schools, C. 1275 of 1861] bears evidence of this as bear also the following letters, the one, private in character, from Augustus Wattles, the other, without specific date, from William Brooks:


MONEKA, KANSAS, May 20, 1861. MR. DOLE

Dear Sir, A messenger has this moment left me, who came up from the Osages yesterday—a distance of about forty miles. The gentleman lives on the line joining the Osage Indians, and has, since my acquaintance with him about three years.

A short time ago, perhaps three weeks, a number of lawless white men went into the Nation and stole a number of ponies. The Indians made chase, had a fight and killed several, reported from three to five, and retook their ponies.

A company of men is now getting up here and in other counties, to go and fight the Indians. I am appealed to by the Indians to act as their friend.

They represent that they are loyal to the U.S. Government and will fight for their Great Father, at Washington, but must be protected from bad white men at home. The Government must not think them enemies when they only fight thieves and robbers.

Rob't B. Mitchell, who was recently appointed Maj. General of this State by Gov. Robinson, has resigned, and is now raising volunteers to fight the Indians. He has always been a Democrat in sympathy with the pro-slavery party, and his enlisting men now to take them away from the Missouri frontier, when we are daily threatened with an attack from that State, and union men are fleeing to us for protection from there, is certainly a very questionable policy. It could operate no worse against us, if it were gotten up by a traitor to draw our men off on purpose to give the Missourians a chance when we are unprepared. (cont.)]

tribe, the Osages were not very dependable at the best of times and now that they saw confusion all around

[Footnote 91: (cont.) I presume you have it in your power to prevent any attack on the Indians in Kansas till such time as they can be treated with. And such order to the Commander of the Western Division of the U.S. Army would stop further proceedings.

I shall start to-morrow for Council Grove and meet the Kansas Indians before General Mitchell's force can get there. As the point of attack is secret, I fear it may be the Osages, for the purpose of creating a necessity for a treaty with himself by which he can secure a large quantity of land for himself and followers. He is acquainted with all the old Democratic schemes of swindling Indians.

The necessity for prompt action on the part of the Indian Department increases every day. The element of discord in the community here now, was once, the pro-slavery party. I see their intention to breed disturbances with the Indians is malicious and selfish. They are active and unscrupulous, and must be met promptly and decisively.

I hope you will excuse this, as it appears necessary for me to step a little out of my orders to notify you of current events. I am very respectfully Your Ob't Ser'vt AUGUSTUS WATTLES, Special Agent

[Indian Office Special Files, no. 201.]


Hon. Sir: Permit me to inform you, by this means, of the efforts that have been and are now being made in Southern Kansas to arouse both the "Osages" and "Cherokees" to rebel, and bear arms against the U.S. Government—At a public meeting near the South E. corner of the "Osage Nation" called by the settlements for the devising of some means by which to protect themselves from "unlawful characters," Mr. John Mathis, who resides in the Osage Nation and has an Osage family, also Mr. "Robert Foster" who lives in the Cherokee Nation and has a Cherokee family endeavered by public speeches and otherwise to induce "Osages", "Cherokees", as well as Americans who live on the "Neutral Lands" to bear arms against the U.S. Government—aledging that there was no U.S. Government. There was 25 men who joined them and they proceeded to organise a "Secession Company" electing as Capt R.D. Foster and 1st Lieutenant James Patton—This meeting was held June 4th 1861—at "McGhees Residence"—The peace of this section of country requires the removal of these men from the Indian country, or some measures that will restrain them from exciting the Indians in Southern Kansas.

Yours Respectfully WM BROOKS.

You will understand why you are addressed by a private individual on this subject instead of the Agent, since A.J. Dorn, the present Indian Agent, is an avowed "Secessionist" and consequently would favor, rather than suppress the move. WM BROOKS.

[Ibid., Southern Superintendency, B567 of 1861]]

them their most natural inclination was to pay back old scores and to make an alliance where such alliance could be most profitable to themselves. The "remnants" of tribes, Senecas, Shawnees, and Quapaws, associated with them in the agency, Neosho, that is, although not of evil disposition, were similarly agitated and with good reason. Rumors of dissensions among the Cherokees, not so very far away, were naturally having a disquieting effect upon the neighboring but less highly organized tribes as was also the unrest in Missouri, in the southwestern counties of which, however, Union sentiment thus far dominated.[92] Its continuance would undoubtedly turn upon military success or failure and that, men like Lyon and Lane knew only too well.

As the days passed, the Cherokee troubles gained in intensity, so much so that the agent, John Crawford, even then a secessionist sympathiser, reported that internecine strife might at any hour be provoked.[93] So confused was everything that in July the people of southeastern Kansas were generally apprehensive of an attack from the direction of either Indian Territory or Arkansas.[94] Kansas troops had been called to Missouri; but, at the same time, Lyon was complaining that men from the West, where they were greatly needed, were being called by Scott to Virginia.[95] On August 6 two emergency calls went forth, one from Fremont for a brigade from California that could be stationed at El Paso and moved as occasion might require, either upon San Antonio or into the Indian Territory,[96]

[Footnote 92: Branch to Mix, June 22, 1861, enclosing letter from Agent Elder, June 15, 1861 [Indian Office Files, Neosho, B 547 of 1861].]

[Footnote 93:—Ibid., Cherokee, C 1200 of 1861].

[Footnote 94: Official Records, vol. iii, 405.]

[Footnote 95:—Ibid., 397, 408.]

[Footnote 96:—Ibid., 428.]

the other from Congressmen John S. Phelps and Francis P. Blair junior, who addressed Lincoln upon the subject of enlisting Missouri troops for an invasion of Arkansas in order to ward off any contemplated attack upon southwestern Missouri and to keep the Indians west of Arkansas in subjection.[97] On August 10 came the disastrous Federal defeat at Wilson's Creek. It was immediately subsequent to that event and in anticipation of a Kansas invasion by Price and McCulloch that Lane resolved to take position at Fort Scott.[98]

The Battle of Wilson's Creek, lost to the Federals largely because of Fremont's failure to support Lyon, was an unmitigated disaster in more than one sense. The death of Lyon, which the battle caused, was of itself a severe blow to the Union side as represented in Missouri; but the moral effect of the Federal defeat upon the Indians was equally worthy of note. It was instantaneous and striking. It rallied the wavering Cherokees for the Confederacy[99] and their defection was something that could not be easily counterbalanced and was certainly not counterbalanced by the almost coincident, cheap, disreputable, and very general Osage offer, made towards the end of August, of services to the United States in exchange for flour and whiskey.[100]

The disaster in its effect upon Lane was, however, little short of exhilarating. It brought him sympathy, understanding, and a fair measure of support from people who, not until the eleventh hour, had really comprehended their own danger and it inspired him to redouble his efforts to organize a brigade that should

[Footnote 97: Official Records, vol. iii, 430.]

[Footnote 98:—Ibid., 446.]

[Footnote 99: The Daily Conservative (Leavenworth), October 5, 1861.]

[Footnote 100:—Ibid., August 30, 1861, quoting from the Fort Scott Democrat.]

adequately protect Kansas and recover ground lost. Prior to the battle, "scarcely a battalion had been recruited for each" of the five regiments, the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Kansas, which he had been empowered by the War Department to raise.[101] It was in the days of gathering reinforcements, for which he made an earnest plea on August 29,[102] that he developed a disposition to utilize the loyal Indians in his undertaking. The Indians, in their turn, were looking to him for much needed assistance. About a month previous to the disaster of August 10, Agent Elder had been obliged to make Fort Scott, for the time being, the Neosho Agency headquarters, everything being desperately insecure at Crawford's Seminary.[103]

[Footnote 101: Britton, Civil War on the Border, vol. i, 122.]

[Footnote 102: Official Records, vol. iii, 465.]

[Footnote 103: The following letter, an enclosure of a report from Branch to Dole, August 14, 1861, gives some slight indication of its insecurity:

OFFICE OF NEOSHO AGENCY Fort Scott, July 27, 1861.

Sir—I deem it important to inform the Department of the situation of this Agency at this time. After entering upon the duties of this office as per instructions—and attending to all the business that seemed to require my immediate attention—I repaired to Franklin Co. Kan. to remove my family to the Agency.

Leaving the Agency in care of James Killebrew Esq the Gov't Farmer for the Quapaw Nation. Soon after I left I was informed by him that the Agency had been surrounded by a band of armed men, and instituted an inquiry for "that Abolition Superintendent and Agent." After various interrogatories and answers they returned in the direction of Missouri and Arkansas lines from whence they were supposed to have come. He has since written me and Special Agent Whitney and Superintendent Coffin told me that it would be very unsafe for me to stay at that place under the present excited state of public feeling in that vicinity. I however started with my family on the 6th July and arrived at Fort Scott on the 9th intending to go direct to the Agency. Here I learned from Capt Jennison commanding a detachment of Kansas Militia, who had been scouting in that vicinity, that the country was full of marauding parties from Gov. Jackson's Camp in S.W. Mo. I therefore concluded to remain here and watch the course of events believing as I did the Federal troops (cont.)]

Lane, conjecturing rightly that Price, moving northwestward from Springfield, which place he had left on the twenty-sixth of August, would threaten, if he did not actually attempt, an invasion of Kansas at the point of its greatest vulnerability, the extreme southeast, hastened his preparations for the defence and at the very end of the month appeared in person at Fort Scott, where all the forces he could muster, many of them refugee Missourians, had been rendezvousing. On the second of September, the two armies, if such be not too dignified a name for them, came into initiatory action at Dry Wood Creek,[104] Missouri, a reconnoitering party of the Federals, in a venture across the line, having

[Footnote 103: (cont.) would soon repair thither and so quell the rebellion as to render my stay here no longer necessary. But as yet the Union forces have not penetrated that far south, and Jackson with a large force is quartered within 20 or 25 miles of the Agency—I was informed by Mr. Killebrew on the 23d inst. that everything at the Agency was safe—but the house and roads were guarded—Hence I have assumed the responsibility of establishing my office here temporarily until I can hear from the department.

And I most sincerely hope the course I have thus been compelled to pursue will receive the approval of the department.

I desire instructions relative to the papers and a valuable safe (being the only moveables there of value) which can only be moved at present under the protection of a guard. And also instructions as to the course I am to pursue relative to the locality of the Agency.

I feel confident that the difficulty now attending the locality at Crawford Seminary will not continue long—if not then I shall move directly there unless instructions arrive of a different character.

All mail matter should be directed to Fort Scott for the Mail Carrier has been repeatedly arrested and the mails may be robbed—Very respectfully your Obedient Servant

PETER P. ELDER, U.S. Neosho Agent.

H.B. BRANCH Esq, Superintendent of Ind. Affairs C.S. St. Joseph, Mo. [Indian Office Files, Neosho, B 719 of 1861].]

[Footnote 104: For additional information about the Dry Wood Creek affair and about the events leading up to and succeeding it, see Official Records, vol. liii, supplement, 436; Britton, Civil War on the Border, vol. i, chapter x; Connelley, Quantrill and the Border Wars, 199.]

fallen in with the advance of the Confederates and, being numerically outmatched, having been compelled to beat a retreat. In its later stages, Lane personally conducted that retreat, which, taken as a whole, did not end even with the recrossing of the state boundary, although the pursuit did not continue beyond it. Confident that Price would follow up his victory and attack Fort Scott, Lane resolved to abandon the place, leaving a detachment to collect the stores and ammunition and to follow him later. He then hurried on himself to Fort Lincoln on the north bank of the Little Osage, fourteen miles northwest. There he halted and hastily erected breastworks of a certain sort[105]. Meanwhile, the citizens of Fort Scott, finding themselves left in the lurch, vacated their homes and followed in the wake of the army[106]. Then came a period, luckily short, of direful confusion. Home guards were drafted in and other preparations made to meet the emergency of Price's coming. Humboldt was now suggested as suitable and safe headquarters for the Neosho Agency[107]; but, most opportunely, as the narrative will soon show, the change had to wait upon the approval of the Indian Office, which could not be had for some days and, in the meantime, events proved that Price was not the menace and Fort Scott not the target.

It soon transpired that Price had no immediate intention of invading Kansas[108]. For the present, it was

[Footnote 105: In ridicule of Lane's fortifications, see Spring, Kansas, 275.]

[Footnote 106: As soon as the citizens, panic-stricken, were gone, the detachment which Lane had left in charge, under Colonel C.R. Jennison, commenced pillaging their homes [Britton, Civil War on the Border, vol. i, 130.]]

[Footnote 107: H.C. Whitney to Mix, September 6, 1861, Indian Office Consolidated Files, Neosho, W 455 of 1861.]

[Footnote 108: By the fifth of September, Lane had credible information that Price had broken camp at Dry Wood and was moving towards Lexington [Britton, Civil War on the Border, vol. i, 144].]

enough for his purpose to have struck terror into the hearts of the people of Union sentiments inhabiting the Cherokee Neutral Lands, where, indeed, intense excitement continued to prevail until there was no longer any room to doubt that Price was really gone from the near vicinity and was heading for the Missouri River. Yet his departure was far from meaning the complete removal of all cause for anxiety, since marauding bands infested the country roundabout and were constantly setting forth, from some well concealed lair, on expeditions of robbery, devastation, and murder. It was one of those marauding bands that in this same month of September, 1861, sacked and in part burnt Humboldt, for which dastardly and quite unwarrantable deed, James G. Blunt, acting under orders from Lane, took speedy vengeance; and the world was soon well rid of the instigator and leader of the outrage, the desperado, John Matthews.[109]

[Footnote 109: (a)


HON. WM.P. DOLE, Com. of Ind. Af'rs

Dear Sir, We have just returned from a successful expedition into the Indian Country, And I thought you would be glad to hear the news.

Probably you know that Mathews, formerly an Indian Trader amongst the Osages has been committing depredations at the head of a band of half breed Cherokees, all summer.

He has killed a number of settlers and taken their property; but as most of them were on the Cherokee neuteral lands I could not tell whether to blame him much or not, as I did not understand the condition of those lands.

A few days ago he came up to Humbolt and pillaged the town. Gen. Lane ordered the home guards, composed mostly of old men, too old for regular service, to go down and take or disperse this company under Mathews.

He detailed Lieut. Col. Blunt of Montgomery's regiment to the command, and we started about 200 strong. We went to Humbolt and followed down through the Osage as far as the Quapaw Agency where we came up with them, about 60 strong.

Mathews and 10 men were killed at the first fire, the others (cont.)]

As soon as Lane had definite knowledge that Price had turned away from the border and was moving northward, he determined to follow after and attack

[Footnote 109: (cont.) retreated. We found on Mathews a Commission from Ben. McCulloch, authorizing him to enlist the Quapaw and other Indians and operate on the Kansas frontier.

The Osage Indians are loyal, and I think most of the others would be if your Agents were always ready to speak a word of confidence for our Government, and on hand to counteract the influence of the Secession Agents.

There is no more danger in doing this than in any of the Army service. If an Agent is killed in the discharge of his duty, another can be appointed the same as in any other service. A few prompt Agents, might save a vast amount of plundering which it is now contemplated to do in Kansas.

Ben. McCulloch promises his rangers, and the Indians that he will winter them in Kansas and expel the settlers.

I can see the Indians gain confidence in him precisely as they loose it in us. It need somebody amongst them to represent our power and strength and purposes, and to give them courage and confidence in the U.S. Government.

There is another view which some take and you may take the same, i.e. let them go—fight and conquer them—take their lands and stop their annuities.

I can only say that whatever the Government determines on the people here will sustain. The President was never more popular. He is the President of the Constitution and the laws. And notwithstanding what the papers say about his difference with Fremont, every heart reposes confidence in the President.

So far as I can learn from personal inquiry, the Indians are not yet committed to active efforts against the Gov. AUG. WATTLES.

[Indian Office Special Files, no. 201, Central Superintendency, W 474 of 1861.]


SACK AND FOX AGENCY, Dec. 17th 1861.

HON.W.P. DOLE, Commissioner of Indian Affairs

Dear Sir: After receiving the cattle and making arrangements for their keeping at Leroy I went and paid a visit to the Ruins of Humboldt which certainly present a gloomy appearance. All the best part of the town was burnt. Thurstons House that I had rented for an office tho near half a mile from town was burnt tho his dwelling and mill near by were spared. All my books and papers that were there were lost. My trunk and what little me and my son had left after the sacking were all burnt including to Land Warrents one 160 acres and one 120. Our Minne Rifle and ammunition Saddle bridle, etc.... About 4 or 5 Hundred Sacks of Whitney's Corn were burnt. As soon as I can I will try to make out a list of the Papers from the (cont.)]

him, if possible, in the rear. Governor Robinson was much opposed[110] to any such provocative and apparently purposeless action, no one knowing better than he Lane's vindictive mercilessness. Lane persisted notwithstanding Robinson's objections and, for the time being, found his policies actually endorsed by Prince at Fort Leavenworth.[111] The attack upon Humboldt, having revealed the exposed condition of the settlements north of the Osage lands, necessitated his leaving a much larger force in his own rear than he had intended.[112] It also made it seem advisable for him to order the building of a series of stockades, the one of most immediate interest being at Leroy.[113] By the fourteenth of September, Lane found himself within twenty-four miles of Harrisonville but Price still far ahead. On the twenty-second, having made a detour for the purpose of destroying some of his opponent's stores, he performed the atrocious and downright inexcusable exploit of burning Osceola.[114] Lexington, besieged, had fallen into Price's hands two days before. Thus had the foolish Federal practice of acting in

[Footnote 109: (cont.) Department [that] were burnt. As I had some at Leavenworth I cannot do so til I see what is there. As Mr. Hutchinson is not here I leave this morning for the Kaw Agency to endeavour to carry out your Instructions there and will return here as soon as I get through there. They are building some stone houses here and I am much pleased with the result. The difference in cost is not near so much as we expected but I will write you fully on a careful examination as you requested. Very respectfully your obedient Servant

W.G. COFFIN, Superintendent of Indian Affairs Southern Superintendency

[Indian Office Files, Southern Superintendency, C 1432 of 1861]]

[Footnote 110: Official Records, vol. iii, 468-469.]

[Footnote 111:—Ibid., 483.]

[Footnote 112:—Ibid., 490.]

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