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Lane Utilizes the Indians

 

 Native American Nations | Participant in the Civil War                   

 

There was no doubt by this time that Lane had it in mind to utilize the Indians. In the dog days of August, when he was desperately marshaling his brigade, the Indians presented themselves, in idea, as a likely military contingent. The various Indian agents in Kansas were accordingly communicated with and Special Agent Augustus Wattles authorized to make the needful preparations for Indian enlistment.122 Not much could be done in furtherance of the scheme while Lane was engaged in Missouri but, in October, when he was back in Kansas, his interest again manifested itself. He was then recruiting among all kinds of people, the more hot-blooded the better. His energy was likened to frenzy and the more sober-minded took alarm. It was the moment for his political opponents to interpose and Governor Robinson from among them did interpose, being firmly convinced that Lane, by his intemperate zeal and by his guerrilla-like fighting was provoking Missouri to reprisals and thus precipitating upon Kansas the very troubles that he professed to wish to ward off. Incidentally, Robinson, unlike Fremont, was vehemently opposed to Indian enlistment.

Feeling between Robinson and Lane became exceedingly tense in October. Price was again moving suspiciously near to Kansas. On the third he was known to have left Warrensburg, ostensibly to join McCulloch in Bates County123 and, on the eighth, he was reported as still proceeding in a southwestwardly direction, possibly to attack Fort Scott.124 His movements gave opportunity for a popular expression of opinion among Lane's adherents. On the evening of the eighth, a large meeting was held in Stockton's Hall to consider the whole situation and, amidst great enthusiasm, Lane was importuned to go to Washington,125 there to lay the case of the piteous need of Kansas, in actuality more imaginary than real, before the president. Nothing loath to assume such responsibility but not finding it convenient to leave his military task just then, Lane resorted to letter-writing. On the ninth, he complained126 to Lincoln that Robinson was attempting to break up his brigade and had secured the cooperation of Prince to that end.127 The anti-Robinson press128 went farther and accused Robinson and Prince of not being big enough, in the face of grave danger to the commonwealth, to forget old scores.129 As a solution of the problem before them, Lane suggested to Lincoln the establishment of a new military district that should include Kansas, Indian Territory, and Arkansas, and be under his command.130 So anxious was Lane to be identified with what he thought was the rescue of Kansas that he proposed resigning his seat in the senate that he might be entirely untrammelled.131 Perchance, also, he had some inkling that with Frederick P. Stanton132 contesting the seat, a bitter partisan fight was in prospect, a not altogether welcome diversion.133 Stanton, prominent in and out of office in territorial days, was an old political antagonist of the Lane faction and one of the four candidates whose names had been before the legislature in March. In the second half of October, Lane's brigade notably contributed to Fremont's show of activity and then, anticipatory perhaps to greater changes, it was detached from the main column and given the liberty of moving independently down the Missouri line to the Cherokee country.134

Lane's efforts towards securing Indian enlistment did not stop with soliciting the Kansas tribes. Thoroughly aware, since the time of his sojourn at Fort Scott, if not before, of the delicate situation in Indian Territory, of the divided allegiance there, and of the despairing cry for help that had gone forth from the Union element to Washington, he conceived it eminently fitting and practicable that that same Union element should have its loyalty put to good uses and be itself induced to take up arms in behalf of the cause it affected so ardently to endorse. To an ex-teacher among the Seminoles, E.H. Carruth, was entrusted the task of recruiting.

The situation in Indian Territory was more than delicate. It was precarious and had been so almost from the beginning. The withdrawal of troops from the frontier posts had left the Territory absolutely destitute of the protection solemnly guaranteed its inhabitants by treaty with the United States government. Appeal135 to the War Department for a restoration of what was a sacred obligation had been without effect all the summer. Southern emissaries had had, therefore, an entirely free hand to accomplish whatever purpose they might have in mind with the tribes. In September,136 the Indian Office through Charles E. Mix, acting commissioner of Indian affairs in the absence of William P. Dole, who was then away on a mission to the Kansas tribes, again begged the War Department137 to look into matters so extremely urgent. National honor would of itself have dictated a policy of intervention before the poor neglected Indians had been driven to the last desperate straits. The next month, October, nothing at all having been done in the interval, Dole submitted138 to Secretary Smith new evidence of a most alarmingly serious state of affairs and asked that the president's attention be at once elicited. The apparent result was that about the middle of November, Dole was able to write with confidence—and he was writing at the request of the president—that the United States was prepared to maintain itself in its authority over the Indians at all hazards.139

Boastful words those were and not to be made good until many precious months had elapsed and many sad regrettable scenes enacted. In early November occurred the reorganization of the Department of the West which meant the formation of a Department of Kansas separate and distinct from a Department of Missouri, an arrangement that afforded ample opportunity for a closer attention to local exigencies in both states than had heretofore been possible or than, upon trial, was subsequently to be deemed altogether desirable. It necessarily increased the chances for local patronage and exposed military matters to the grave danger of becoming hopelessly entangled with political.

The need for change of some sort was, however, very evident and the demand for it, insistent. If the southern Indians were not soon secured, they were bound to menace, not only Kansas, but Colorado140 and to help materially in blocking the way to Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Their own domestic affairs had now reached a supremely critical stage.141 It was high time for the Federal government to do something to attest its own competency. There was need for it to do that, moreover, on recognizably loyal ground, causes for dissatisfaction among Kansas emigrant tribes to be removed and drastic measures taken with the indigenous of the plains.


122: For a full discussion of the progress of the movement, see Abel, American Indian as Slaveholder and Secessionist, 227 ff.
123: Official Records, vol. iii, 525, 526, 527.
124: Ibid, 527.
125: Daily Conservative, October 9, 10, 1861.
126: Official Records, vol. iii, 529.
127: Daily Conservative, October 9, 15, 1861.
128: Chief among the papers against Robinson, in the matter of his longstanding feud with Lane, was the Daily Conservative with D.W. Wilder as its editor. Another anti-Robinson paper was the Lawrence Republican. The Cincinnati Gazette was decidedly friendly to Lane.
129: Daily Conservative, October 15, 1861.
130: Official Records, vol. iii, 529-530. Lane outlined his plan for a separate department in his speech in Stockton's Hall [Daily Conservative, October 9, 1861]. Robinson was opposed to the idea [ibid., November 2, 6, 1861].
131: Official Records, vol. iii, 530.
132: Martin, First Two Years of Kansas, 24; Biographical Congressional Directory, 1771-1903.
133: Daily Conservative, November 1, 1861, gives Robinson the credit of inciting Stanton to contest the seat.
134: Daily Conservative, October 30, 1861.
135: Secretary Cameron's reply to Secretary Smith's first request was uncompromising in the extreme and prophetic of his persistent refusal to recognize the obligation resting upon the United States to protect its defenseless "wards." This is Cameron's letter of May 10, 1861:

"In answer to your letter of the 4th instant, I have the honor to state that on the 17th April instructions were issued by this Department to remove the troops stationed at Forts Cobb, Arbuckle, Washita, and Smith, to Fort Leavenworth, leaving it to the discretion of the Commanding Officer to replace them, or not, by Arkansas Volunteers.

"The exigencies of the service will not admit any change in these orders." [Interior Department Files, Bundle no. 1 (1849-1864) War.]

Secretary Smith wrote to Cameron again on the thirtieth [Interior Department Letter Press Book, vol. iii, 125], enclosing Dole's letter of the same date [Interior Department, File Box, January 1 to December 1, 1861; Indian Office Report Book, no. 12, 176], but to no purpose.

136: Indian Office Report Book, no. 12, 218-219.
137: Although his refusal to keep faith with the Indians is not usually cited among the things making for Cameron's unfitness for the office of Secretary of War, it might well and justifiably be. No student of history questions to-day that the appointment of Simon Cameron to the portfolio of war, to which Thaddeus Stevens had aspirations [Woodburn, Life of Thaddeus Stevens, 239], was one of the worst administrative mistakes Lincoln ever made. It was certainly one of the four cabinet appointment errors noted by Weed [Autobiography, 607].
138: Indian Office Report Book no. 12, 225.
139: Dole to Hunter, November 16, 1861, ibid., Letter Book, no. 67, pp. 80-82.
140: On conditions in Colorado Territory, the following are enlightening: ibid., Consolidated Files, C 195 of 1861; C 1213 of 1861; C 1270 of 1861; C 1369 of 1861; V 43 of 1861; Official Records, vol. iv, 73.
141: In addition to what may be obtained on the subject from the first volume of this work, two letters of slightly later date furnish particulars, as do also the records of a council held by Agent Cuther with certain chiefs at Leroy.

(a). Lawrence, Kansas, Dec. 14th, 1861.

Hon.W.P. Dole, Commissioner of Ind. Affairs

Dear Sir, It is with reluctance that I again intrude on your valuable time. But I am induced to do so by the conviction that the subject of our Indian relations is really a matter of serious concern: as involving the justice and honor of our own Government, and the deepest interests—the very existence, indeed—of a helpless and dependent people. And knowing that it is your wish to be furnished with every item of information which may, in any way, throw light on the subject, I venture to trouble you with another letter.

Mico Hat-ki, the Creek man referred to in my letter of Oct. 31st has been back to the Creek Nation, and returned about the middle of last month. He was accompanied, to this place, by one of his former companions, but had left some of their present company at LeRoy. They were expecting to have a meeting with some of the Indians, at LeRoy, to consult about the proper course to be pursued, in order to protect the loyal and peaceable Indians, from the hostility of the disaffected, who have become troublesome and menacing in their bearing.

With this man and his companion, I had considerable conversation, and find that the Secessionists and disaffected Half-breeds are carrying things with a high hand. While the loyal Indians are not in a condition to resist them, by reason of the proximity of an overwhelming rebel force.

From them (repeating their former statements, regarding the defection of certain parties, and the loyalty of others, with the addition of some further particulars) I learn the following facts: Viz. That M Kennard, the Principal Chief of the Lower Creeks, most of the McIntoshes, George Stidham, and others have joined the rebels, and organized a military force in their interest; for the purpose of intimidating and harassing the loyal Indians. They name some of the officers, but are not sufficiently conversant with military terms to distinguish the different grades, with much exactness. Unee McIntosh, however, is the highest in rank, (a Colonel I presume) and Sam Cho-co-ti, George Stidham, Chilly McIntosh, are all officers in the Lower Creek rebel force.

Among the Upper Creeks, John Smith, Timiny Barnet and Wm. Robinson, are leaders.

Among the Seminoles, John Jumper, the Principal Chief, is on the side of the rebels. Pas-co-fa, the second chief, stands neutral. Fraser McClish, though himself a Chickasaw, has raised a company among the Seminoles in favor of the rebellion. They say the full Indians will kill him.

The Choctaws are divided in much the same way as the other Tribes, the disaffected being principally among the Half-breeds.

The Chickasaw Governor, Harris, is a Secessionist; and so are most, if not all, the Colberts. The full Indians are loyal to the Government, as are some of the mixed bloods also, and here, I remark, from my own knowledge, that this Governor Harris was the first to propose the adoption of concerted measures, among the Southern Tribes, on the subject of Secession. This was instantly and earnestly opposed by John Ross, as being out of place, and an ungrateful violation of the Treaty obligations, by which the Tribes had placed themselves under the exclusive protection of the United States; and, under which, they had enjoyed a long course of peace and prosperity.

They say, there are about four hundred Secessionists, among the Cherokees. But whether organized or not, I did not understand. I presume they meant such as were formerly designated by the term Warriors, somewhat analogous to the class among ourselves, who are fit for military duty, though they may or may not be actually organized and under arms. So that the Thousands of Indians in the secession papers, as figuring in the armies, are enormous exaggerations; and most of them sheer fabrications.

Albert Pike, of Little Rock, boasts of having visited and made treaty alliances with the Comanche, and other tribes, on behalf of the "Confederate States," but the Indians do not believe him. And, in blunt style, say "he tells lies."

They make favorable mention of O-poth-le-yo-ho-lo, an ex-Creek Chief, a true patriot of former days. But, it seems, he has been molested and forced to leave his home to avoid the annoyance and violence of the rebel party. There are, however, more than three thousand young men, of the warrior class, who adhere to his principles, and hold true faith and allegiance to the United States.

They say also that John Ross is not a Secessionist, and that there are more than four thousand patriots among the Cherokees, who are true to the Government of the United States. This agrees, substantially, with my own personal knowledge, unless they have changed within a very short time, which is not at all probable, as the Cherokees, of this class, are pretty fully and correctly informed about the nature of the controversy. And I may add, that much of their information is, through one channel and another, communicated to the Creeks, and much of their spirit too.

On the whole, judging from the most reliable information, I have been able to obtain, I feel assured that the Full Indians of the Creeks, Cherokees, Seminoles, and the small bands living in the Creek Nation, are faithful to the Government. And the same, to a great extent, is true of the Choctaws and Chickasaws. And were it not for the proximity of the rebel force, the loyal Indians would put down the Secession movement among themselves, at once. Or rather, they would not have suffered it to rise at all.

The loyal Indians say, they wish "to stand by their Old Treaties." And they are as persistent in their adherence to these Treaties, as we are, to our Constitution. And I have no doubt that, as soon as the Government can afford them protection, they will be ready, at the first call, to manifest, by overt action, the loyalty to which they are pledged.

They are looking, with great anxiety and hope, for the coming of the great army. And I have no doubt that a friendly communication from the Government, through the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, would have a powerful effect in removing any false impressions, which may have been made, on the ignorant and unwary, by the emissaries of Secession, and to encourage and reassure the loyal friends of the Government, who, in despair of timely aid, may have been compelled to yield any degree of submission, to the pressure of an overwhelming force. I was expecting to see these Indians again, and to have had further conversation with them. But I am informed by Charles Johnnycake that they have gone to Fort Leavenworth and expect to go on to Washington. Hearing this, I hesitated about troubling you with this letter at all, as, in that case, you would see them yourself. But I have concluded to send it, as affording me an opportunity to express a few thoughts, with which it would hardly be worth while to occupy a separate letter.

Hoping that the counsels and movements of the Government may be directed by wisdom from above, and that the cause of truth and right may prevail, I remain with great respect, Dear Sir, Your Obedient Ser'v EVAN JONES.

P.S. I rec. a note from Mr. Carruth, saying that he was going to Washington, with a delegation of Southern Indians, and I suppose Mico Hatki and his companions are that Delegation, or at least a part of them.

I will just say in regard to Mr. Carruth that I was acquainted with him, several years ago, as a teacher in the Cherokee Nation. He afterwards went to the Creek Nation, I think, as teacher of a Government school, and I believe, has been there ever since. If so, he must know a good deal about the Creeks. Mr. Carruth bore a good character. I think he married one of the Missionary ladies of the Presbyterian Mission.

[Indian Office Special Files, no. 201, Southern Superintendency, J 530 of 1861.]

(b). Wichita Agency, L.D., December 15, 1861

All well and doing well. Hear you are having trouble among yourselves—fighting one another, but you and we are friendly. Our brothers the Comanche and all the other tribes are still your friends. Mode Cunard and you were here and had the talk with Gen. Pike; we still hold to the talk we made with Gen. Pike, and are keeping the treaty in good faith, and are looking for him back again soon. We look upon you and Mode Cunard and Gen. Pike as brothers. Gen. Pike told us at the council that there were but few of us here, and if any thing turned up to make it necessary he would protect them. We are just as we were when Gen. Pike was up here and keeping the treaty made with him. Our brothers the wild Comanche have been in and are friendly with us.

All the Indians here have but one heart. Our brothers, the Texans, and the Indians are away fighting the cold weather people. We do not intend to go North to fight them, but if they come down here, we will all wait to drive them away. Some of my people are one-eyed and a little crippled, but if the enemy comes here they will all jump out to fight him. Pea-o-popicult, the principal Kiowa chief, has recently visited the reserve, and expressed friendly intentions, and has gone back to consult the rest of his people, and designs returning.

Hoseca X Maria} Ke-Had-a-wah } Chiefs of the Comanche Buffalo Hump } Te-nah Geo. Washington Jim Pockmark

[Indian Office, Confederate Papers, Copy of a letter to John Jumper, certified as a true copy by A.T. Pagy.]

(c). Leroy, Coffey Co., Kansas, Nov. 4, 1861.

Hon. Wm.P. Dole, Com'r Indian Affairs,
Washington, D.C.

Dear Sir: Enclosed I send you a statement of delegation of Creeks, Chickasaw, and Kininola who are here for assistance from the Government. You will see by the enclosed that I have held a Council with them the result of which I send verbatim. They have travelled some 300 or 400 miles to get here, had to take an unfrequented road and were in momentary fear of their lives not because the secessionists were stronger than the Union party in their nation, but because the secessionists were on the alert and were determined that there should be no communication with the Government.

They underwent a great many privations in getting here, had to bear their own expenses, which as some of them who were up here a short time ago have travelled in coming and going some 900 miles was considerable.

I am now supplying them with everything they need on my own responsibility. They dare not return to their people unless troops are sent with them and they assure me the moment that is done, a large portion of each of the tribes will rally to the support of the Government and that their warriors will gladly take up arms in its defense.

I write to you from Topeka and urge that steps be taken to render them the requisite protection. I am satisfied that the Department will see the urgent necessity of carrying out the Treaty stipulations and giving these Indians who are so desirous of standing firm by the Government and who have resisted so persistently all the overtures of the secessionists, the assistance and protection which is their due. I am informed by these Indians that John Ross is desirous of standing by the Government, and that he has 4000 warriors who are willing to do battle for the cause of the Union.

They also inform me, that the Washita, Caddo, Tenie, Wakoe, Tewakano, Chiekie, Shawnees, and Kickapoo are almost unanimously Union. Gen. Lane is anxious to do something to relieve the Union Indians in the southern tribes, by taking prompt and energetic steps at this time—it can be done with little expense and but little trouble, while the benefit to be derived will be incalculable. Let me beg of you and more that the matter be laid before the Department and the proper steps be taken to give the Indians that protection which is their due and at the same time take an important step in sustaining the supremacy of the Government. Your obedient Servant, GEO.A. CUTLER, agent for the Indians of the Creek agency.

Enclosures
At a Council of the Creeks, held at Leroy in Coffey County, Kansas, at the house of the Agent of said Indians, Maj. Geo. A. Cutler, who was unable to visit their Country owing to the rebellion existing in the Country, the following talk was had by the Chiefs of said nation, eight in number—Four Creeks, Two Seminoles, Two Chickasaws.

Oke-Tah-hah-shah-haw-choe, Chief of Creek Upper District says, he will talk short words this time—wants to tell how to get trouble in Creek nation. First time Albert Pike come in he made great deal trouble. That man told Indian that the Union people would come and take away property and would take away land—now you sleep, you ought to wake up and attend to your own property. Tell them there ain't no U.S.—ain't any more Treaty—all be dead—Tell them as there is no more U.S. no more Treaty that the Creeks had better make new Treaty with the South and the Southern President would protect them and give them their annuity—Tell them if you make Treaty with southern President that he would pay you more annuity and would pay better than the U.S. if they the Indians would help the Southern President—Mr. Pike makes the half breeds believe what he says and the half breeds makes some of the full blood Indians believe what he says that they (the Indians) must help the secessionists. Then that is so—but as for himself he don't believe him yet. Then he thought the old U.S. was alive yet and the Treaty was good. Wont go against the U.S. himself—That is the reason the Secessions want to have him—The Secessionists offered 5000$ for his head because he would not go against the U.S. Never knew that Creek have an agent here until he come and see him and that is why I have come among this Union people. Have come in and saw my agent and want to go by the old Treaty. Wants to get with U.S. Army so that I can get back to my people as Secessionists will not let me go. Wants the Great Father to send the Union Red people and Troops down the Black Beaver road and he will guide them to his country and then all his people will be for the Union—That he cannot get back to his people any other way—Our Father to protect the land in peace so that he can live in peace on the land according to the Treaty—At the time I left my union people I told them to look to the Beaver Road until I come. Promised his own people that the U.S. Army would come back the Beaver Road and wants to go that way—The way he left his country his people was in an elbow surrounded by secessions and his people is not strong enough against them for Union and that is the reason he has come up for help—Needed guns, powder, lead to take to his own people. Own people for the Union about 3350 warriors all Creeks—Needed now clothing, tents for winter, tools, shirts, and every thing owned by whites,—wants their annuity as they need it now—The Indians and the Whites among us have done nothing against any one but the Secessionists have compelled us to fight and we are willing to fight for the Union. Creek half breeds joined secessionists. 32 head men and leaders-27 towns for the Union among Creeks

Signed: Oke-tah-hah-shah-haw Choe
his X mark.

Talk of Chickasaw Chief, Toe-Lad-Ke

Says—Will talk short words—have had fever and sick—Secessionists told him no more U.S. no more Treaty—all broken up better make new Treaty with Secessionists—Although they told him all this did not believe them and that is reason came up to see if there was not still old U.S.—Loves his country—loves his children and would not believe them yet—That he did not believe what the Secessionists told him and they would not let him live in peace and that is the reason he left his country—The secessionists want to tie him—whip him and make him join them—but he would not and he left.

100 warriors for secession—
2240 do " Union

The secessionists plague him so much talk he asks for his country that the army go down and that is what his people wants same as Creek and Seminole—Have seen the agent of the Creeks but have not seen our agent but want to see him—wants agent sent—He has always done no wrong—Secessionists would not let him live in peace—and if have to fight all his people will fight for Union—That is all the chance that he can save his lands and property to children—by old U.S. and Treaty—Chickasaw—Seminoles and Creeks all in no difference—all for the Union—all want annuity and have had none for some time—Now my Great Father you must remember me and my people and all our wants. Signed: TOE-LAD-KE, his X mark.

Talk of Seminole Chief, Choo-Loo-Foe-Lop-hah-Choe

Says: Pike went among the Seminoles and tell them the same as he told the Creek. The talk of Pike he did not believe and told him so himself—Some of my people did believe Pike and did join the secessionists also he believed the old U.S. is alive and Treaty not dead and that is the reason he come up and had this talk—Never had done any thing against Treaty and had come to have Great Father protect us—Secession told him that Union men was going to take away land and property—could get no annuity old U.S. all gone—come to see—find it not so—wants President to send an agent don't know who agent is—wants to appoint agent himself as he knows who he wants. Twelve towns are for the Union

500 warriors for the Union
100 do " Secession
All people who come with Billy Bowlegs are Union—Chief in place of Billy Bowlegs Shoe-Nock-Me-Koe this is his name—Need everything that Creeks need—arms clothing, etc. etc. wants to go with army same way and same road with Creek—This is what we ask of our Great Father live as the Treaty says in peace—and all Seminole warriors will fight for the Union. This is the request of our people of our Great Father They need their annuity have not had any for nearly a year and want it sent.

Signed: CHOO-LOO-FOE-LOP-HAH-CHOE, his X mark.

We the Chiefs of the three nations Creeks, Chickasaws and Seminoles who are of this delegation and all for the Union and the majority of our people are for the Union and agree in all that has been said by the Chiefs who have made this talk, and believe all they have said to be true—

OKE-TAH-HAH-SHAH-HAW-CHOE his X mark Creek
WHITE CHIEF his X mark Creek

BOB DEER his X mark Creek
PHIL DAVID his X mark Creek
TOE-LAD-KE his X mark Chickasaw
CHAP-PIA-KE his X mark Chickasaw

CHOO-LOO-FOE-LOP-HAH-CHOE his X mark Seminole
OH-CHEN-YAH-HOE-LAH his X mark Seminole

Witness: C.F. Currier
W. Whistler
LEROY, COFFEY CO. KAN., Nov. 4 1861.

I do certify that the within statement of the different chiefs were taken before me at a council held at my house at the time stated and that the talk of the Indian was correctly taken down by a competent clerk at the time.

GEO.A. CUTLER, Agent for the Creek Indians.

[Indian Office Special Files, no. 201, Southern Superintendency, C 1400 of 1861.]


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The American Indian as Participant in the Civil War, 1919

Participant in the Civil War

 

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