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The Removal of the Refugees to the Sac and Fox Agency

 Native American Nations | Participant in the Civil War                     

 

General Blunt's decision to restore the Indian refugees in Kansas to their own country precipitated a word war of disagreeable significance between the civil and military authorities. The numbers of the refugees had been very greatly augmented in the course of the summer, notwithstanding the fact that so large a proportion of the men had joined the Indian Expedition. It is true they had not all stayed with it. The retrograde movement of Colonel Salomon and his failure later on to obey Blunt's order to the letter548 that he should return to the support of the Indians had disheartened them and many of the enlisted braves had deserted the ranks, as chance offered, and had strayed back to their families in the refugee camps of southern Kansas.549

Then the numbers had been augmented in other ways. The Quapaw, who had been early driven from their homes and once restored,550 had left them again when they found that their country had been denuded of all its portable resources. It was exposed to inroads of many sorts. Even the Federal army preyed upon it and, as all the able-bodied male Quapaw were gradually drawn into that army, there was no way of defending it. Its inhabitants, therefore, returned as exiles to the country around about Leroy.551

It was much the same with near neighbors of the Quapaw, with the Seneca and the Seneca-Shawnees. These Indians had been induced to accept one payment of their annuities from the Confederate agent552 but had later repented their digression from the old allegiance to the United States and had solicited its protection in order that they might remain true. Some of them stayed with Agent Elder near Fort Scott,553 others moved northward and lived upon the charity of the Shawnees near Lawrence.554 But those Shawnees were doomed themselves to be depredated upon, especially that group of them known as Black Bob's Band, a band that had been assigned a settlement in Johnson County, adjoining the Missouri border.555 In August556 and again in the first week of September557 guerrillas under Quantrill,558 crossed over the line and raided the Black Bob lands, robbing the Indians of practically everything they possessed, their clothing, their household goods, their saddles, their ponies, their provisions, and driving the original owners quite away. They fired upon them as they fled and committed atrocities upon the helpless ones who lagged behind. They then raided Olathe.559 Somewhat earlier, guerrillas had similarly devastated the Kansas Agency, although not to the same extent.560 The Black Bob Shawnees found a refuge in the western part of the tribal reserve.561

Some Wyandot Indians, who before the war had sought and found homes among the Senecas,562 were robbed of everything they possessed by secessionist Indians,563 who would not, however, permit them to go in search of relief northward.564 When all efforts to induce them to throw in their lot with the Confederacy proved unavailing, the strict watch over them was somewhat relaxed and they eventually managed to make their escape. They, too, fled into Kansas. And so did about one hundred Delaware, who had been making their homes in the Cherokee country. In the spring of 1862, they had begun to return destitute to the old reservation565 but seem not to have been counted refugees until much later in the year.566 The Delaware Reservation on the northern bank of the Kansas River and very near to Missouri was peculiarly exposed to ravages, horses and cattle being frequently stolen.567 For that reason and because so much urged thereto by Agent Johnson,568 who was himself anxious for service, the Delaware were unusually eager to enlist.

The Osages had been induced by Ritchie and others to join the Indian Expedition or to serve as independent scouts.569 Their families, consequently, found it safe and convenient to become refugees.570 In July, they formed much the larger part of some five hundred from Elder's agency, who sought succor at Leroy. That did not deter the Osages, however, from offering a temporary abiding-place, within their huge reserve, to the homeless Creeks under Opoeth-le-yo-ho-la.571

During the summer the wretched condition of the Indian refugees had, thanks to fresh air, sunlight, and fair weather, been much ameliorated. Disease had obtained so vast a start that the medical service, had it been first-class, which it certainly was not, would otherwise have proved totally inadequate. The physicians in attendance claimed to have from five to eight thousand patients,572 yet one of them, Dr. S.D. Coffin, found it possible to be often and for relatively long periods absent from his post. Of this the senior physician, Dr. William Kile, made complaint 573 and that circumstance marked the beginning of a serious estrangement between him and Superintendent Coffin.574

In August, General Blunt announced his intention of returning the Indian families to their homes.575 He was convinced that some of the employees of the Indian Office and of the Interior Department were personally profiting by the distribution of supplies to the refugees and that they were conniving with citizens of Kansas in perpetrating a gigantic fraud against the government. The circumstances of the refugees had been well aired in Congress, first in connection with a Senate resolution for their relief.576 On July fifth, Congress had passed an act suspending annuity appropriations to the tribes in hostility to the United States government and authorizing the president to expend, at discretion, those same annuities in behalf of the refugees.577 At once, the number578 of refugees increased and white men rushed forward to obtain contracts for furnishing supplies.

There was a failure of the corn crop in southern Kansas that year and Dr. Kile, appreciating certain facts, that the Indian pony is dear, as is the Arabian horse, to his master, that the Indian ponies were pretty numerous in spite of the decimation of the past winter, and that they would have to be fed upon corn, advised a return to Indian Territory before the cold weather should set in.579 He communicated with Blunt580 and found Blunt of the same opinion, so also Cutler581 and Coleman.582 Contrariwise was Superintendent Coffin,583 whose view of the case was strengthened by E.H. Carruth, H.W. Martin,584 and A.C. Ellithorpe.585

In the contest that ensued between the military and civil authorities or between Blunt and Coffin,586 Coffin triumphed, although Blunt made no concealment of his suspicions of graft and peculation587 and the moment, following the defeat of the Confederates at old Fort Wayne, seemed rather auspicious for the return of the refugees. In reality, it was not, however; for the Federals were far from possessing Indian Territory and they had no force that they could devote to it exclusively.

Aside from pointing out the military inadequacy, Coffin had chiefly argued that provisions could easily be obtained where the refugees then were; but his opposition to Blunt's suggestion was considerably vitiated by recommendations of his own, soon given, for the removal of the refugees to the Sac and Fox Agency upon the plea that they could not be supported much longer to advantage in southern Kansas. The drouth was the main reason given; but, as Kile had very truly said, the settlers were getting pretty tired of the Indian exiles, whose habits were filthy and who were extremely prodigal in their use of timber. The Sac and Fox Agency was headquarters for the Sacs and Foxes of Mississippi, for the Ottawa, and for the confederated Chippewa and Munsee. C.C. Hutchinson was the agent there and there Perry Fuller, Robert S. Stevens, and other sharpers had their base of operations.

The removal northward was undertaken in October and consummated in a little less than two months; but at an expense that was enormous and in spite of great unwillingness on the part of most of the Indians, who naturally objected to so greatly lengthening the distance between them and their own homes.588 The refugees were distributed in tribal groups rather generally over the reserves included within the Sac and Fox Agency. At the request of Agent Elder, the Ottawa consented to accommodate the Seneca-Shawnees and the Quapaw, although not without expressing their fears that the dances and carousals of the Quapaw would demoralize their young men589 and, finally, not without insisting upon a mutual agreement that no spirituous liquors should be brought within the limits of their Reserve under any circumstances whatsoever.590 The Creeks, Choctaws, and Chickasaws found a lodgment on the Sac and Fox Reservation and the Seminoles fairly close at hand, at Neosho Falls. That was as far north as they could be induced to go.

Of the Cherokees, more needs to be said for they were not so easily disposed of. At various times during the past summer, Cherokees, opposed to, not identified with, or not enthusiastic in the Confederate cause, had escaped from Indian Territory and had collected on the Neutral Lands. Every Confederate reverse or Federal triumph, no matter how slight, had proved a signal for flight. By October, the Cherokee refugees on the Neutral Lands were reported to be nearly two thousand in number, which, allowing for some exaggeration for the sake of getting a larger portion of relief, was a goodly section of the tribal population.591 At the end of October, Superintendent Coffin paid them a visit and urged them to remove to the Sac and Fox Agency, whither the majority of their comrades in distress were at that very moment going.592 The Cherokees refused; for General Blunt had given them his word that, if he were successful in penetrating the Indian Territory, they should at once go home.593 Not long after Coffin's departure, their camp on Drywood Creek, about twelve miles south of Fort Scott, was raided by guerrillas;594 but even that had no effect upon their determination to remain. The Neutral Lands, although greatly intruded upon by white people, were legally their own and they declined to budge from them at the instance of Superintendent Coffin.

Arrangements were undertaken for supplying the Cherokee refugees with material relief;595 but scarcely had anything been done to that end when, to Coffin's utter surprise, as he said, the military authorities "took forcible possession of them" and had them all conveyed to Neosho, Missouri, presumably out of his reach. But Coffin would not release his hold and detailed the new Cherokee agent, James Harlan,596 and Special Agent A.G. Proctor to follow them there.

John Ross, his family, and a few friends were, meanwhile, constituting another kind of refugee in the eastern part of the United States.597 and were criticized by some of their opponents for living in too sumptuous a manner.598

The removal, under military supervision, of the Cherokee refugees, had some justification in various facts, Blunt's firm conviction that Coffin and his instigators or abettors were exploiting the Indian service, that the refugees at Leroy were not being properly cared for, and that those on the Neutral Lands had put themselves directly under the protection of the army.599 His then was the responsibility. When planning his second Indian Expedition, Blunt had discovered that the Indian men were not at all inclined to accompany it unless they could have some stronger guarantee than any yet given that their families would be well looked after in their absence. They had returned from the first expedition to find their women and children and aged men, sick, ill-fed, and unhappy.

It was with knowledge of such things and with the hope that they would soon be put a stop to and their repetition prevented by a return of the refugees to Indian Territory, that John Ross, in October, made a personal appeal to President Lincoln and interceded with him to send a military force down, sufficient to over-awe the Confederates and to take actual possession of the land. Lincoln's sympathies and sense of justice were immediately aroused and he inquired of General Curtis, in the field, as to the practicability of occupying "the Cherokee country consistently with the public service."600 Curtis evaded the direct issue, which was the Federal obligation to protect its wards, by boasting that he had just driven the enemy into the Indian Territory "and beyond" and by doubting "the expediency of occupying ground so remote from supplies."601

General Blunt's force continued to hold the northeastern part of the Cherokee country until the end of October when it fell back, crossed the line, and moved along the Bentonville road in order to meet its supply train from Fort Scott.602 Blunt's division finally took its stand on Prairie Creek603 and, on the twelfth of November, made its main camp on Lindsay's prairie, near the Indian boundary.604 The rout of Cooper at Fort Wayne had shaken the faith of many Indians in the invincibility of the Confederate arms. They had disbanded and gone home, declaring "their purpose to join the Federal troops the first opportunity" that presented itself.605 To secure them and to reconnoiter once more, Colonel Phillips had started out near the beginning of November and, from the third to the fifth, had made his way down through the Cherokee Nation, by way of Tahlequah and Park Hill, to Webber's Falls on the Arkansas.606 His return was by Dwight's Mission. His view of the country through which he passed must have been discouraging.607 There was little to subsist upon and the few Indians lingering there were in a deplorable state of deprivation, little food, little clothing608 and it was winter-time.

So desolate and abandoned did the Cherokee country appear that General Blunt considered it would be easily possible to hold it with his Indian force alone, three regiments, yet he said no more about the immediate return of the refugees,609 but issued an order for their removal to Neosho. The wisdom of his action might well be questioned since the expense of supporting them there would be immeasurably greater than in Kansas610 unless, indeed, the military authorities intended to assume the entire charge of them.611 Special Agent Martin regarded some talk that was rife of letting them forage upon the impoverished people of Missouri as sheer humbug. The army was not doing that and why should the defenseless Indians be expected to do it. As it was, they seem to have been reduced to plundering in Kansas.612 On the whole, it is difficult to explain Blunt's plan for the concentration of the Cherokee refugees at Neosho, since there were, at the time, many indications that Hindman was considering another advance and an invasion of southwest Missouri.

The November operations of the Federals in northeastern Arkansas were directed toward arresting Hindman's progress, if progress were contemplated. Meanwhile, Phillips with detachments of his Indian brigade was continuing his reconnaissance's and, when word came that Stand Watie had ventured north of the Arkansas, Blunt sent him to compel a recrossing.613 Stand Watie's exploit was undoubtedly a preliminary to a general Confederate plan for the recovery of northwestern Arkansas and the Indian Territory, a plan, which Blunt, vigorous and aggressive, was determined to circumvent. In the action at Cane Hill,614 the latter part of November, and in the Battle of Prairie Grove,615 December seventh, the mettle of the Federals was put to a severe test which it stood successfully and Blunt's cardinal purpose was fully accomplished.616 In both engagements, the Indians played a part and played it conspicuously and well, the northern regiments so well,617 indeed, that shortly afterwards two additional ones, the Fourth and the Fifth, were projected.618 Towards the end of the year, Phillips, whom Blunt had sent upon another excursion into Indian Territory,619 could report that Stand Watie and Cooper had been pushed considerably below the Arkansas, that many of the buildings at Fort Davis had been demolished,620 that one of the Creek regiments was about to retire from the Confederate service, and that the Choctaws, once so deeply committed, were wavering in their allegiance to the South.621


548: Blunt to Caleb Smith, November 21, 1862 [Indian Office General Files, Southern Superintendency, 1859-1862, I 860].
549: One of the first notices of their desertion was the following:
"We are getting along well, very well. The Indians seem happy and contented, and seemingly get enough to eat and wear. At least I hear no complaint. For the last two or three days the Indian soldiers have been straggling back, until now there are some three or four hundred in, and they are still coming. I held a council with them to-day to try and find out why they are here. But they don't seem to have any idea themselves. All I could learn was that Old George started and the rest followed. The Col. it seems told them to go some where else. I shall send an express to Col. Furness in the morning to find out if possible what it means. It seems to me it will not do to give the provisions purchased for the women and children to the soldiers....
"The soldiers look clean and hearty, and complain of being treated like dogs, starved etc, which I must say their looks belie...."—GEO.A. CUTLER to Wm. G. Coffin, August 13, 1862, ibid.
550: Coffin to Elder, August 9, 1862; Coffin to Mix, August 16, 1862, Indian Office General Files, Neosho, C 1745 of 1862.
551: Some of the Quapaw that went to Leroy were not bona fide refugees. Elder reported them as lured thither by the idea of getting fed [Elder to Dole, July 9, 1862, ibid., E 114 of 1862].
552: Coffin to Dole, May 31, 1862, Indian Office General Files, Neosho.
553: Coffin to Mix, July 30, 1862, ibid., C 1732 of 1862.
554: J.J. Lawler to Mix, August 2, 1862, ibid., Shawnee, 1855-1862; Abbott to Branch, July 26, 1862, ibid. Some of the Seneca, about one hundred twenty-three, went as far as Wyandot City. For them and their relief, the Seneca in New York interceded. See Chief John Melton to Commissioner of Indian Affairs, September 2, 1862, ibid., Neosho, H 541; Mix to Coffin, September 11, 1862, Indian Office Letter Book, no. 69, 99.
555: This group of Shawnee refugees must be distinguished from the so-called Absentee Shawnees, who also became refugees. The Shawnees had been very much molested and disturbed during the period of border strife following the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill. Black Bob's Band was then exceedingly desirous of going south to dwell with the Seneca-Shawnees [Rector to Greenwood, January 6, 1860, enclosing Dorn to Greenwood, December 30, 1859, Indian Office General Files, Neosho, R 463 of 1860]. The Absentee Shawnees had taken refuge in Indian Territory prior to the war, but were expelled immediately after it began. They obtained supplies for a time from the Wichita Agent and lived as refugees on Walnut Creek [Paschal Fish and other Shawnee delegates to Cooley, December 5, 1865, Indian Office Land Files, Shawnee, 1860-1865]. Later on, they seem, at least some of them, to have gone up to the Shawnee Reserve [Dole to Coffin, July 27, 1863, Indian Office Letter Book, no. 71, 195; Dole to Usher, July 27, 1863, ibid., Report Book, no. 13, 208-209].
556: H.B. Branch to Dole, June 19, 1863, enclosing various letters from Agent Abbott, Indian Office General Files, Shawnee, 1863-1875, B 343.
557: Branch to Dole, October 3, 1862, transmitting letter from Abbott to Branch, September 25, 1862, ibid., Shawnee, 1855-1862, B 1583.
558: Connelley, Quantrill and the Border Wars, 269, says that, from' August 15, 1863, the Confederate government was directly responsible for the work of Quantrill. From that day, the guerrillas were regular Confederate soldiers. They were not generally regarded as such, however; for, in November, 1863, Price was trying to prevail upon Quantrill and his men to come into the regular army [Official Records, vol. liii, supplement, 907-908].
559: Governor Robinson issued a proclamation, on the occasion of this emergency for volunteers against guerrillas.
560: Farnsworth to Dole, July 23, 1862 [Indian Office General Files, Kansas, 1855-1862, F 386].
561: Letter of Agent Abbott, June 5, 1863, ibid., Shawnee, 1863-1875, B 343.
562: Indian Office General Files, Neosho, I 81 of 1860.
563: Lawrence and others, Wyandot, to Dole, December 23, 1862, ibid., Land Files, Shawnee, 1860-1865, L 12 of 1862. This letter was answered January 20, 1863, and, on the same day, Coffin was instructed to relieve their distress.
564: "Being personally acquainted with the condition of the Wyandot ... would here state, that a portion of them are living among the Seneca bordering on the Cherokee Country, and they are in a suffering condition. The rebel portion of the Seneca and Cherokees have robbed them of all of their ponies, and in fact all the property they had, and will not allow them to leave to come to Wyandot, which is about 2 hundred miles in distance, and their friends in Wyandot are unable to relieve them (on account of the rebel forces) without protection of our armies. The Wyandot that are here are anxious to go and relieve their friends, and would respectfully request that they be allowed to form into a military company and be mustered into Gov'nt service and go with the expedition south to relieve their friends and assist in reclaiming the rebel Indians. A few of the Wyandot are in service ... They are all very anxious to be transferred into a company by themselves for the purpose above stated...."—CHARLES MOORE to Dole, February 9, 1862, Indian Office Special Files, no. 201, D 576.
565: Johnson to Dole, April 2, 1862, Indian Office General Files, Delaware, 1862-1866.
566: Johnson to Dole, November 5, 1862, ibid., Southern Superintendency, 1859-1862.
567: Johnson to Dole, May 28, 1862, Indian Office General Files, Delaware, I 667 of 1862.
568: Johnson wished to retain his agency and also hold a commission as colonel of volunteers, Department of the Interior, Register of Letters Received, no. 4, pp. 214, 357. James H. Lane endorsed his request and it was granted.
569: The Osages rendered occasionally some good service. They and the Comanches plundered the Chickasaws very considerably [Holmes Colbert to N.G. Taylor, April 14, 1868, Indian Office Consolidated Files, Chickasaw, C 716 of 1868. See also Office letter to Osage treaty commissioners, May 4, 1868]. In October, the Osage force advanced as far as Iola and then retreated [Henning to Blunt, October 11, 1862, Official Records, vol. xiii, 726]. Soon after that they were mustered out and in a very disgruntled condition. They claimed that the government had used them very badly and had never paid them anything [Henning to Chipman, November 13, 1862, ibid., 790]. They knew little of the discipline of war and left the army whenever they had a mind to.
570: The Osages joined the Indian Expedition only upon condition that their families would be supported during their absence [Coffin to Dole, June 4, 1862, Indian Office Consolidated Files, Neosho, C 1662 of 1862]. The families were soon destitute. Coffin ordered Elder to minister to them at Leroy; but he seems to have distrusted the southern superintendent and to have preferred to keep aloof from him. Coffin then appointed a man named John Harris as special Osage agent [Coffin to Dole, July 7, 1862, ibid., C 1710]. Elder tried to circumvent Coffin's plans for the distribution of cattle [Coffin to Elder, July 16, 1862, ibid., C 1717] and Coffin lodged a general charge of neglect of duty against him [Coffin to Dole, July 19, 1862, ibid.].
571: The invitation was extended by White Hair and Charles Mograin [Coffin to Dole, November 16, 1862, ibid., C 1904]. Coffin was anxious for Opoeth-le-yo-ho-la who had been rather obstreperous, to accept [Coffin to Dole, November 14, 1862, Indian Office General Files, Southern Superintendency, 1859-1862].
572: Dr. S.D. Coffin, to Dole, July 5, 1862, ibid., General Files, Southern Superintendency, 1859-1862; J.C. Carter to Dole July 22, 1862, ibid.
573: Kile to Dole, ibid.
574: The estrangement resulted in the retirement of Kile from the service. In September, Dr. Kile asked for a leave of absence. Shortly afterwards, Secretary Smith instructed Charles E. Mix, the acting commissioner, that the services of Kile were no longer needed, since the superintendent could attend to the purchasing and distributing of supplies [Smith to Mix, September 22, 1862, Indian Office General Files, Southern Superintendency, 1859-1862]. Mix promptly informed Kile that his resignation was accepted [Mix to Kile, September 22, 1862, ibid., Letter Book, no. 69, p. 133].
575: "Orders have been given by General Blunt for the Indian Expedition to go South soon; he says the families of the Indians may go. They wish to do so but no provision is made for their subsistence or conveyance. We wish immediate instructions in this particular."—Carruth to Coffin, August 29, 1862, ibid., General Files, Southern Superintendency, 1859-1862.
576: U.S. Congressional Globe, 37th congress, second session, part i, 815, 849, 875, 891, 940.
577: U.S. Statutes at Large, vol. xii, 528.
578: In October, Coffin put the number of refugees, inclusive of the Cherokees on Drywood Creek, at almost seven thousand five hundred [Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Report 1862, p. 137] and asked for sixty-nine thousand dollars for their support during the third quarter of 1862 [Coffin to Mix, September 16, 1862, Indian Office General Files, Southern Superintendency, 1859-1862].
579: Kile to Dole, July 25, 1862, ibid.
580: Kile to Blunt, September 2, 1862, ibid.
581: Cutler to Coffin, September 30, 1862, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Report, 1862, 139.
582: Coleman to Coffin, September 30, 1862, ibid., 141.
583: Coffin to Mix, August 30, 1862, Indian Office General Files, Southern Superintendency, 1859-1862: same to same, September 13, 1862, ibid.
584: Carruth and Martin to Coffin, September 28, 1862, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Report, 1862, 167.
585: "In replying to the several interrogatories contained in your letter of the 11th inst, I shall base my answer entirely upon my own observations and experience, obtained during a six months campaign with the Indians, and in the Creek and Cherokee countries. Taking a deep interest in the welfare of these loyal refugee Indians, who have sacrificed all, rather than fight against our Flag, I shall be cautious and advise no policy but that which will insure their safe restoration to their homes.
"The important question in your letter and that which embodies the whole subject matter is the following—'Would it be safe in the present condition of the country to restore the southern refugee Indians now in southern Kansas, the women and children, the old, feeble and infirm to their homes in the Indian country?'
"I answer—It would not be safe to take the women and children to the Creek or Cherokee countries this fall for the following reasons, 1st The corn and vegetable crop north of the Arkansas River will not afford them subsistence for a single month. The excessive drought has almost completely destroyed it, and what little would have matured is laid waste by the frequent foraging parties of our own Army, or those of the Rebels.
"The amount of Military force necessary to restore and safely protect this people in their homes would far exceed what is at present at the disposal of the Department of Kansas; and should they be removed to the Indian country, and our forces again be compelled to fall back for the protection of Missouri or Kansas, it would again involve their precipitate flight, or insure their total destruction.
"Again—the effectiveness of our troops would be materially embarrassed by the presence of such a vast number of timid and helpless creatures—I base my judgment upon the following facts—viz.:
"The expedition which I have been with during the summer, exploring this country, consisted of three Brigades but containing actually only about 6 thousand men. We routed, captured, and pursued the fragments of several Rebel commands, driving them south of the Arkansas River, opposite to, and in the vicinity of Fort Gibson. This done, we found the whole of Western Arkansas alive, and the numerous rebel squads were at once reinforced from the guerila parties of Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, and the various rebel Indian tribes, until they now number a force of from 30 to 40 thousand strong, under the command of Pike, Drew, McIntosh, Rains, Stand Watie and others, ready to contest the passage of the Arkansas River at any point and in fact capable of crossing to the north side of the river and possessing the country we have twice passed over. Why did our command fall back? Simply because we had not force sufficient to cross the Arkansas River and maintain our position and because we were to remote from our dipo of supplies.
"The Creek country west of the Verdigris River is almost destitute of forage for man or beast, owing to the drought—Hence to remove these families would involve to the gov't great additional expense, not only to subsist but to protect them—Where they are they need no military protection and food is abundant.
"You will bear in mind that a large portion of the Indian country is south of the Arkansas River and is at present the stronghold of the Rebels. Many portions of it mountainous and rugged, affording secure retreats that will require a powerful army to dislodge."—A.C. ELLITHORPE to Coffin, September 12, 1862, Indian Office General Files, Southern Superintendency, 1859-1862.
586: A dispute between Blunt and Coffin had been going on for some time. In August, Coffin wrote to Mix that "The contrariness and interference manifested by the military authorities in the Indian Country towards those who are having charge of the Indians within the Cherokee Nation is so annoying and embarrassing that it has become unpleasant, difficult, and almost impossible for them to attend to the duties of their official capacities with success. If the Military would only make it their business to rid the Indian Territory of Rebels instead of intermeddling with the affairs of the Interior Department or those connected with or acting for the same, the Refugee Indians in Kansas might have long since been enabled to return to their homes ..."—Indian Office General Files, Southern Superintendency, 1863-1864, C 466.
587: It was not long before the Indians were complaining of the very things that General Blunt suspected. For instance, in December, the Delaware begged President Lincoln to remove Agent Johnson because of his peculations and ungovernable temper. They also asked that the store of Thomas Carney and Co. be ordered away from their reservation. The latter request had been made before, the Delaware believing that Leavenworth and Lawrence were sufficiently near for them to trade independently [Indian Office General Files, Delaware, 1862-1866]. Coffin made a contract with Stettaner Bros. November 29, 1862, and Dole confirmed it by letter, December 13, 1862 [ibid., Southern Superintendency, 1863-1864]. Secretary Smith was not very well satisfied with the Stettaner bids. They were too indefinite [ibid., 1859-1862, 1837]. Nevertheless, Dole, who was none too scrupulous himself, recommended their acceptance [Dole to Smith, December 11, 1862]. Number 201 of Indian Office Special Files is especially rich in matter relating to transactions of Stettaner Bros., Carney and Stevens, and Perry Fuller, so also are the files of the Indian Division of the Interior Department, and also, to some extent, the House Files in the Capitol Building at Washington, D.C.
588: Coffin to Dole, November 14, 1862, ibid., Indian Office General Files, Southern Superintendency, 1859-1862.
589: C.C. Hutchinson to Dole, August 21, 1863, Indian Office General Files, Ottawa, 1863-1872, D 236.
590: J.T. Jones to Dole, December 30, 1862, Indian Office General Files, Sac and Fox, 1862-1866. The precautions proved of little value. Whiskey was procured by both the hosts and their guests and great disorders resulted. Agent Hutchinson did his best to have the refugees removed, but, in his absence, the Ottawa were prevailed upon by Agent Elder to extend their hospitality for a while longer.
591: Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Report, 1862, 137.
592: Ibid., 1863, 175.
593: Coffin to Dole, November 10, 1862, enclosing copies of a correspondence between him and a committee of the Cherokee refugees, October 31, 1862, Indian Office General Files, Cherokee, 1859-1865, C 1892.
594: Coffin to Dole, November 14, 1862, Indian Office General Files, Southern Superintendency, 1859-1862.
595: Coffin to Mix, August 31, 1863, Indian Office General Files, Southern Superintendency, 1863-1864, C 466. A.M. Jordan, who acted as commissary to the Cherokees at Camp Drywood, reported to Dole, December 6, 1862, that he was feeding about a thousand who were then there [ibid., Cherokee, I 847 of 1862].
596: Charles W. Chatterton, of Springfield, Illinois, who had been appointed Cherokee agent in the place of John Crawford, removed [Dole to Coffin, March 18, 1862, ibid., Letter Book, no. 67 pp. 492-493] had died, August 31, at the Sac and Fox Agency [Hutchinson to Mix September 1, 1862, ibid., General Files, Cherokee, H 538 of 1862]; [Coffin to Dole, September 13, 1862, ibid., C 1827: W.H. Herndon to Dole, November 15, 1862, ibid., H 605]. Harlan was not regularly commissioned as Cherokee agent until January, 1863 [Coffin to Dole, April 7, 1863, ibid., C 143 of 1863; Harlan to Dole, January 26, 1863, ibid., H 37 of 1863].
597: John Ross asked help for his own family and for the families of various relations, thirty-four persons in all. He wanted five hundred dollars for each person [Ross to Dole, October 13, 1862, ibid., R 1857 of 1862]. Later, he asked for seventeen thousand dollars, likewise for maintenance [Ross to Dole, November 19, 1862, ibid.]. The beginning of the next year, he notified the department that some of his party were about to return home [ibid., R 14 of 1863 and requested that transportation from Leavenworth and supplies be furnished them [Indian Office General Files, Cherokee, R 13 of 1863]. Dole informed Coffin that the request should be granted [see Office letter of January 6, 1863] and continued forwarding to John Ross his share of the former remittance [Indian Office Letter Book, no. 69, 503]. To make the monetary allowance to John Ross, Cherokee chief, the Chickasaw funds were drawn upon [Second Auditor, E.B. Trench, to Dole, June 19, 1863, ibid., General Files, Cherokee, A 202 of 1863; Office letter of June 20, 1863].
598: Ross and others to Dole, July 29, 1864 [ibid., General Files, Cherokee, 1859-1865, R 360]; Secretary of the Interior to Ross, August 25, 1864 [ibid., I 651]; John Ross and Evan Jones to Dole, August 26, 1864 [ibid., R 378]; Office letter of October 14, 1864; Coffin's letter of July 8, 1864.
599: Blunt to Smith, November 21, 1862.
600: Lincoln to Curtis, October 10, 1862, Official Records, vol. xiii, 723.
601: Curtis to Lincoln, October 10, 1862, ibid.
602: Britton, Civil War on the Border, vol. i, 376-377.
603: Ibid., 379.
604: Ibid., 380; Bishop, Loyalty on the Frontier, 56.
605: Blunt to Schofield, November 9, 1862, Official Records, vol. xiii, 785.
606: H.W. Martin to Coffin, December 20, 1862, Indian Office General Files, Southern Superintendency, 1859-1862, C 1950.
607: It was not discouraging to Blunt, however. His letter referring to it was even sanguine [Official Records, vol. xiii, 785-786].
608: Martin to Coffin, December 20, 1862.
609: The Interior Department considered it, however, and consulted with the War Department as late as the twenty-sixth. See Register of Letters Received, vol. D., p. 155.
610: Coffin to Henning, December 28, 1862, Indian Office Consolidated Files, Cherokee, C 17 of 1863.
611: Coffin's letter to Dole of December 20 [Indian Office General Files, Southern Superintendency, 1859-1862, C 1950] would imply that the superintendent expected that to be the case. He said, having reference to Martin's report, "... The statement of facts which he makes, from all the information I have from other sources, I have no doubt are strictly true and will no doubt meet your serious consideration.
"If the Program as fixed up by the Military Officers, and which I learn Dr. Gillpatrick is the bearer to your city and the solicitor general to procure its adoption is carried out, the Indian Department, superintendent, and agents may all be dispensed with. The proposition reminds me of the Fable of the Wolves and the Shepherds, the wolves represented to the shepherds that it was very expensive keeping dogs to guard the sheep, which was wholly unnecessary; that if they would kill off the dogs, they, the wolves, would protect the sheep without any compensation whatever."
612: These Indians must have been the ones referred to in Richard C. Vaughn's letter to Colonel W.D. Wood, December i, 1862 [Official Records, vol. xxii, part i, 796].
613: Britton, Civil War on the Border, vol. i, p. 382.
614: Ibid., vol. i, chapter xxix.
615: Ibid., vol. i, chapter xxx; Official Records, vol. xxii, part i, 66-82, 82-158, vol. liii, supplement, 458-461, 866, 867; Livermore, The Story of the Civil War, part iii, bk. 1, 84-85.
616: One opinion is to the effect that the result of the Battle of Prairie Grove, Fayetteville, or Illinois Creek, was virtually to end the war north of the Arkansas River [ibid., p. 85; Official Records, vol. xxii, part i, 82].
617: And yet it was only a short time previously that Major A.C. Ellithorpe, commanding the First Regiment Indian Home Guards, had had cause to complain seriously of the Creeks of that regiment. On November 7, he wrote from Camp Bowen that Opoeth-le-yo-ho-la was enticing the Indians away from the performance of their duties. "You will now perceive that we are on the border of the Indian country and a very large portion of the Indians are now scouting through their own Territory. What I now desire is that every man who was enlisted as a soldier shall at once return to his command by the way of Fort Scott unless otherwise ordered by competent authority...." [Indian Office Land Files, Southern Superintendency, 1855-1870, C 1933]. Coffin, as usual, appeared as an apologist for the Indians and attempted to exonerate Opoeth-le-yo-ho-la from all blame [Letter to Dole, December 3, 1862, ibid.]. He called the aged chief, "that noble old Roman of the Indians," and the chief himself protested against the injustice and untruth of Ellithrope's accusation [Opoeth-le-yo-ho-la to Coffin, November 24, 1862, ibid.].
618: Officers for these two regiments were appointed by the president, December 26, 1862, and ordered to report to Blunt, who, in turn ordered them to report to Phillips. When the officers arrived in Indian Territory, they found no such regiments as the Fourth and Fifth Indian [U.S. Senate Report, 41st congress, third session, no. 359]. They never did materialize as a matter of fact; but the officers did duty, nevertheless, and were regularly mustered out of the service in 1863. In 1864, Congress passed an act for the adjudication of their claim for salary [U.S. Statutes at Large, vol. xiii, 413]. It is rather surprising that the regiments were not organized; inasmuch as many new recruits were constantly presenting themselves.
619: Phillips to Blunt, December 25, 1862 [Official Records, vol. xxii, part i, 873-874].
620: The buildings at Fort Davis were burnt, and deliberately, by Phillips's orders. [See his own admission, ibid., part ii, 56, 62].
621: Blunt to Weed, December 30, 1862, ibid., part i, 168.


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The American Indian as Participant in the Civil War, 1919

Participant in the Civil War

 

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