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Memoirs of Three Civil War Generals, Complete by U. S. Grant, W. T. Sherman, P. H. Sheridan

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hundred and thirty (130) colored men marched up Burgundy Street and
across Canal Street toward the convention, carrying an American flag.
These men had about one pistol to every ten men, and canes and clubs
in addition. While crossing Canal Street a row occurred. There were
many spectators on the street, and their manner and tone toward the
procession unfriendly. A shot was fired, by whom I am not able to
state, but believe it to have been by a policeman, or some colored
man in the procession. This led to other shots and a rush after the
procession. On arrival at the front of the Institute there was some
throwing of brickbats by both sides. The police, who had been held
well in hand, were vigorously marched to the scene of disorder. The
procession entered the Institute with the flag, about six (6) or
eight (8) remaining outside. A row occurred between a policeman and
one of these colored men, and a shot was again fired by one of the
parties, which led to an indiscriminate fire on the building through
the windows by the policemen. This had been going on for a short
time, when a white flag was displayed from the windows of the
Institute, whereupon the firing ceased, and the police rushed into
the building.

"From the testimony of wounded men, and others who were inside the
building, the policemen opened an indiscriminate fire upon the
audience until they had emptied their revolvers, when they retired,
and those inside barricaded the doors. The door was broken in, and
the firing again commenced, when many of the colored and white people
either escaped throughout the door or were passed out by the
policemen inside; but as they came out the policemen who formed the
circle nearest the building fired upon them, and they were again
fired upon by the citizens that formed the outer circle. Many of
those wounded and taken prisoners, and others who were prisoners and
not wounded, were fired upon by their captors and by citizens. The
wounded were stabbed while lying on the ground, and their heads
beaten with brickbats. In the yard of the building, whither some of
the colored men had escaped and partially secreted themselves, they
were fired upon and killed or wounded by policemen. Some were killed
and wounded several squares from the scene. Members of the
convention were wounded by the police while in their hands as
prisoners, some of them mortally.

"The immediate cause of this terrible affair was the assemblage of
this Convention; the remote cause was the bitter and antagonistic
feeling which has been growing in this community since the advent of
the present Mayor, who, in the organization of his police force,
selected many desperate men, and some of them known murderers.
People of clear views were overawed by want of confidence in the
Mayor, and fear of the thugs, many of which he had selected for his
police force. I have frequently been spoken to by prominent citizens
on this subject, and have heard them express fear, and want of
confidence in Mayor Monroe. Ever since the intimation of this last
convention movement I must condemn the course of several of the city
papers for supporting, by their articles, the bitter feeling of bad
men. As to the merciless manner in which the convention was broken
up, I feel obliged to confess strong repugnance.

"It is useless to disguise the hostility that exists on the part of a
great many here toward Northern men, and this unfortunate affair has
so precipitated matters that there is now a test of what shall be the
status of Northern men--whether they can live here without being in
constant dread or not, whether they can be protected in life and
property, and have justice in the courts. If this matter is
permitted to pass over without a thorough and determined prosecution
of those engaged in it, we may look out for frequent scenes of the
same kind, not only here, but in other places. No steps have as yet
been taken by the civil authorities to arrest citizens who were
engaged in this massacre, or policemen who perpetrated such
cruelties. The members of the convention have been indicted by the
grand jury, and many of them arrested and held to bail. As to
whether the civil authorities can mete out ample justice to the
guilty parties on both sides, I must say it is my opinion,
unequivocally, that they cannot. Judge Abell, whose course I have
closely watched for nearly a year, I now consider one of the most
dangerous men that we have here to the peace and quiet of the city.
The leading men of the convention--King, Cutler, Hahn, and others
--have been political agitators, and are bad men. I regret to say that
the course of Governor Wells has been vacillating, and that during the
late trouble he has shown very little of the man.

"Major-General Commanding."

Subsequently a military commission investigated the subject of the
riot, taking a great deal of testimony. The commission substantially
confirmed the conclusions given in my despatches, and still later
there was an investigation by a select committee of the House of
Representatives, of which the Honorables Samuel Shellabarger, of
Ohio, H. L. Elliot, of Massachusetts, and B. M. Boyer, of
Pennsylvania, were the members. The majority report of the committee
also corroborated, in all essentials, my reports of the distressing
occurrence. The committee likewise called attention to a violent
speech made by Mr. Johnson at St. Louis in September, 1866, charging
the origin of the riot to Congress, and went on to say of the speech
that "it was an unwarranted and unjust expression of hostile feeling,
without pretext or foundation in fact." A list of the killed and
wounded was embraced in the committee's report, and among other
conclusions reached were the following: "That the meeting of July 30
was a meeting of quiet citizens, who came together without arms and
with intent peaceably to discuss questions of public concern....
There has been no occasion during our National history when a riot
has occurred so destitute of justifiable cause, resulting in a
massacre so inhuman and fiend-like, as that which took place at New
Orleans on the 30th of July last. This riotous attack upon the
convention, with its terrible results of massacre and murder, was not
an accident. It was the determined purpose of the mayor of the city
of New Orleans to break up this convention by armed force."

The statement is also made, that, "He [the President] knew that
'rebels' and 'thugs' and disloyal men had controlled the election of
Mayor Monroe, and that such men composed chiefly his police force."

The committee held that no legal government existed in Louisiana, and
recommended the temporary establishment of a provisional government
therein; the report concluding that "in the meantime the safety of
all Union men within the State demands that such government be formed
for their protection, for the well being of the nation and the
permanent peace of the Republic."

The New Orleans riot agitated the whole country, and the official and
other reports served to intensify and concentrate the opposition to
President Johnson's policy of reconstruction, a policy resting
exclusively on and inspired solely by the executive authority--for it
was made plain, by his language and his acts, that he was seeking to
rehabilitate the seceded States under conditions differing not a whit
from those existing before the rebellion; that is to say, without the
slightest constitutional provision regarding the status of the
emancipated slaves, and with no assurances of protection for men who
had remained loyal in the war.

In December, 1866, Congress took hold of the subject with such vigor
as to promise relief from all these perplexing disorders, and, after
much investigation and a great deal of debate, there resulted the
so-called "Reconstruction Laws," which, for a clear understanding of
the powers conferred on the military commanders, I deem best to append
in full:

AN ACT to provide for the more efficient government of the rebel

WHEREAS, no legal State governments or adequate protection for life
or property now exist in the rebel States of Virginia, North
Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana,
Florida, Texas, and Arkansas; and whereas, it is necessary that peace
and good order should be enforced in said States until loyal and
republican State governments can be legally established; therefore,

BE IT ENACTED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled, That said rebel
States shall be divided into military districts and made subject to
the military authority of the United States as hereinafter
prescribed; and for that purpose Virginia shall constitute the first
district; North Carolina and South Carolina, the second district;
Georgia, Alabama, and Florida, the third district; Mississippi and
Arkansas, the fourth district; and Louisiana and Texas, the fifth

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the
President to assign to the command of each of said districts an
officer of the army not below the rank of brigadier-general, and to
detail a sufficient military force to enable such officer to perform
his duties and enforce his authority within the district to which he
is assigned.

SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of each
officer assigned as aforesaid to protect all persons in their rights
of person and property, to suppress insurrection, disorder, and
violence, and to punish, or cause to be punished, all disturbers of
the public peace and criminals, and to this end he may allow local
civil tribunals to take jurisdiction of and to try offenders, or,
when in his judgment it may be necessary for the trial of offenders,
he shall have power to organize military commissions or tribunals for
that purpose, and all interference, under cover of State authority,
with the exercise of military authority under this act, shall be null
and void.

SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That all persons put under
military arrest by virtue of this act shall be tried without
unnecessary delay, and no cruel or unjust punishment shall be
inflicted; and no sentence of any military commission or tribunal
hereby authorized affecting the life or liberty of any person, shall
be executed until it is approved by the officer in command of the
district; and the laws and regulations for the government of the army
shall not be affected by this act except in so far as they conflict
with its provisions: Provided, That no sentence of death, under the
provisions of this act, shall be carried into effect without the
approval of the President.

SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That when the people of any one of
said rebel States shall have formed a constitution of government in
conformity with the Constitution of the United States in all
respects, framed by a convention of delegates elected by the male
citizens of said State twenty-one years old and upward, of whatever
race, color, or previous condition, who have been resident in said
State for one year previous to the day of such election, except such
as may be disfranchised for participation in the rebellion, or for
felony at common law; and when such constitution shall provide that
the elective franchise shall be enjoyed by all such persons as have
the qualifications herein stated for electors of delegates; and when
such constitution shall be ratified by a majority of the persons
voting on the question of ratification who are qualified as electors
for delegates, and when such constitution shall have been submitted
to Congress for examination and approval, and Congress shall have
approved the same; and when said State, by a vote of its legislature
elected under said constitution, shall have adopted the amendment to
the Constitution of the United States proposed by the Thirty-ninth
Congress, and known as article fourteen; and when said article shall
have become a part of the Constitution of the United States, said
State shall be declared entitled to representation in Congress, and
senators and representatives shall be admitted therefrom on their
taking the oath prescribed by law; and then and thereafter the
preceding sections of this act shall be inoperative in said State:
Provided, That no person excluded from the privilege of holding
office by said proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United
States shall be eligible to election as a member of the convention to
frame a constitution for any of said rebel States, nor shall any such
person vote for members of such convention.

SEC. 6. And be it further enacted, That until the people of said
rebel States shall be by law admitted to representation in the
Congress of the United States, any civil government which may exist
therein shall be deemed provisional only, and in all respects subject
to the paramount authority of the United States at any time to
abolish, modify, control, or supersede the same; and in all elections
to any office under such provisional governments all persons shall be
entitled to vote, and none others, who are entitled to vote under the
fifth section of this act; and no person shall be eligible to any
office under any such provisional governments who would be
disqualified from holding office under the provisions of the third
article of said constitutional amendment.

Speaker of the House of Representatives.

President of the Senate pro tempore.

AN ACT supplementary to an act entitled "An act to provide for the
more efficient government of the rebel States," passed March second,
eighteen hundred and sixty-seven, and to facilitate restoration.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled, That before the first
day of September, eighteen hundred and sixty-seven, the commanding
general in each district defined by an act entitled "An act to
provide for the more efficient government of the rebel States,"
passed March second, eighteen hundred and sixty-seven, shall cause a
registration to be made of the male citizens of the United States,
twenty-one years of age and upwards, resident in each county or
parish in the State or States included in his district, which
registration shall include only those persons who are qualified to
vote for delegates by the act aforesaid, and who shall have taken and
subscribed the following oath or affirmation: "I,------, do
solemnly swear (or affirm), in the presence of the Almighty God, that
I am a citizen of the State of ---------; that I have resided in said
State for----- months next preceding this day, and now reside in the
county of -------, or the parish of --------, in said State, (as the
case may be); that I am twenty-one years old; that I have not been
disfranchised for participation in any rebellion or civil war against
the United States, nor for felony committed against the laws of any
State or of the United States; that I have never been a member of any
State Legislature, nor held any executive or judicial office in any
State, and afterwards engaged in insurrection or rebellion against
the United States, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof;
that I have never taken an oath as a member of Congress of the United
States, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any
State Legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any
State, to support the constitution of the United States, and
afterwards engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United
States or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof; that I will
faithfully support the Constitution and obey the laws of the United
States, and will, to the best of my ability, encourage others so to
do: so help me God."; which oath or affirmation may be administered
by any registering officer.

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That after the completion of the
registration hereby provided for in any State, at such time and
places therein as the commanding general shall appoint and direct, of
which at least thirty days' public notice shall be given, an election
shall be held of delegates to a convention for the purpose of
establishing a constitution and civil government for such State loyal
to the Union, said convention in each State, except Virginia, to
consist of the same number of members as the most numerous branch of
the State Legislature of such State in the year eighteen hundred and
sixty, to be apportioned among the several districts, counties, or
parishes of such State by the commanding general, giving each
representation in the ratio of voters registered as aforesaid as
nearly as may be. The convention in Virginia shall consist of the
same number of members as represented the territory now constituting
Virginia in the most numerous branch of the Legislature of said State
in the year eighteen hundred and sixty, to be apportioned as

SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That at said election the
registered voters of each State shall vote for or against a
convention to form a constitution therefor under this act. Those
voting in favor of such a convention shall have written or printed on
the ballots by which they vote for delegates, as aforesaid, the words
"For a convention," and those voting against such a convention shall
have written or printed on such ballot the words "Against a
convention." The persons appointed to superintend said election, and
to make return of the votes given thereat, as herein provided, shall
count and make return of the votes given for and against a
convention; and the commanding general to whom the same shall have
been returned shall ascertain and declare the total vote in each
State for and against a convention. If a majority of the votes given
on that question shall be for a convention, then such convention
shall be held as hereinafter provided; but if a majority of said
votes shall, be against a convention, then no such convention shall
be held under this act: Provided, That such convention shall not be
held unless a majority of all such registered voters shall have voted
on the question of holding such convention.

SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That the commanding general of
each district shall appoint as many boards of registration as may be
necessary, consisting of three loyal officers or persons, to make and
complete the registration, superintend the election, and make return
to him of the votes, list of voters, and of the persons elected as
delegates by a plurality of the votes cast at said election; and upon
receiving said returns he shall open the same, ascertain the persons
elected as delegates, according to the returns of the officers who
conducted said election, and make proclamation thereof; and if a
majority of the votes given on that question shall be for a
convention, the commanding general, within sixty days from the date
of election, shall notify the delegates to assemble in convention, at
a time and place to be mentioned in the notification, and said
convention, when organized, shall proceed to frame a constitution and
civil government according to the provisions of this act, and the act
to which it is supplementary; and when the same shall have been so
framed, said constitution shall be submitted by the convention for
ratification to the persons registered under the provisions of this
act at an election to be conducted by the officers or persons
appointed or to be appointed by the commanding general, as
hereinbefore provided, and to be held after the expiration of thirty
days from the date of notice thereof, to be given by said convention;
and the returns thereof shall be made to the commanding general of
the district.

SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That if, according to said
returns, the constitution shall be ratified by a majority of the
votes of the registered electors qualified as herein specified, cast
at said election, at least one-half of all the registered voters
voting upon the question of such ratification, the president of the
convention shall transmit a copy of the same, duly certified, to the
President of the United States, who shall forthwith transmit the same
to Congress, if then in session, and if not in session, then
immediately upon its next assembling; and if it shall moreover appear
to Congress that the election was one at which all the registered and
qualified electors in the State had an opportunity to vote freely,
and without restraint, fear, or the influence of fraud, and if the
Congress shall be satisfied that such constitution meets the approval
of a majority of all the qualified electors in the State, and if the
said constitution shall be declared by Congress to be in conformity
with the provisions of the act to which this is supplementary, and
the other provisions of said act shall have been complied with, and
the said constitution shall be approved by Congress, the State shall
be declared entitled to representation, and senators and
representatives shall be admitted therefrom as therein provided.

SEC. 6. And be it further enacted, That all elections in the States
mentioned in the said "Act to provide for the more efficient
government of the rebel States" shall, during the operation of said
act, be by ballot; and all officers making the said registration of
voters and conducting said elections, shall, before entering upon the
discharge of their duties, take and subscribe the oath prescribed by
the act approved July second, eighteen hundred and sixty-two,
entitled "An act to prescribe an oath of office": Provided, That if
any person shall knowingly and falsely take and subscribe any oath in
this act prescribed, such person so offending and being thereof duly
convicted, shall be subject to the pains, penalties, and disabilities
which by law are provided for the punishment of the crime of wilful
and corrupt perjury.

SEC. 7. And be if further enacted, That all expenses incurred by the
several commanding generals, or by virtue of any orders issued, or
appointments made, by them, under or by virtue of this act, shall be
paid out of any moneys in the treasury not otherwise appropriated.

SEC. 8. And be it further enacted, That the convention for each State
shall prescribe the fees, salary, and compensation to be paid to all
delegates and other officers and agents herein authorized or
necessary to carry into effect the purposes of this act not herein
otherwise provided for, and shall provide for the levy and collection
of such taxes on the property in such State as may be necessary to
pay the same.

SEC. 9. And be it further enacted, That the word "article," in the
sixth section of the act to which this is supplementary, shall be
construed to mean, "section."

Speaker of the House of Representatives.

President of the Senate pro tempore.



The first of the Reconstruction laws was passed March 2, 1867, and
though vetoed by the President, such was the unanimity of loyal
sentiment and the urgency demanding the measure, that the bill became
a law over the veto the day the President returned it to Congress.
March the 11th this law was published in General Orders No. 10, from
the Headquarters of the Army, the same order assigning certain
officers to take charge of the five military districts into which the
States lately in rebellion were subdivided, I being announced as the
commander of the Fifth Military District, which embraced Louisiana
and Texas, a territory that had formed the main portion of my command
since the close of the war.

Between the date of the Act and that of my assignment, the Louisiana
Legislature, then in special session, had rejected a proposed repeal
of an Act it had previously passed providing for an election of
certain municipal officers in New Orleans. This election was set for
March 11, but the mayor and the chief of police, together with
General Mower, commanding the troops in the city, having expressed to
me personally their fears that the public peace would be disturbed by
the election, I, in this emergency, though not yet assigned to the
district, assuming the authority which the Act conferred on district
commanders, declared that the election should not take place; that no
polls should be opened on the day fixed; and that the whole matter
would stand postponed till the district commander should be
appointed, or special instructions be had. This, my first official
act under the Reconstruction laws, was rendered necessary by the
course of a body of obstructionists, who had already begun to give
unequivocal indications of their intention to ignore the laws of

A copy of the order embodying the Reconstruction law, together with
my assignment, having reached me a few days after, I regularly
assumed control of the Fifth Military District on March 19, by an
order wherein I declared the State and municipal governments of the
district to be provisional only, and, under the provisions of the
sixth section of the Act, subject to be controlled, modified,
superseded, or abolished. I also announced that no removals from
office would be made unless the incumbents failed to carry out the
provisions of the law or impeded reorganization, or unless willful
delays should necessitate a change, and added: "Pending the
reorganization, it is, desirable and intended to create as little
disturbance in the machinery of the various branches of the
provisional governments as possible, consistent with the law of
Congress and its successful execution, but this condition is
dependent upon the disposition shown by the people, and upon the
length of time required for reorganization."

Under these limitations Louisiana and Texas retained their former
designations as military districts, the officers in command
exercising their military powers as heretofore. In addition, these
officers were to carry out in their respective commands all
provisions of the law except those specially requiring the action of
the district commander, and in cases of removals from and appointment
to office.

In the course of legislation the first Reconstruction act, as I have
heretofore noted, had been vetoed. On the very day of the veto,
however, despite the President's adverse action, it passed each House
of Congress by such an overwhelming majority as not only to give it
the effect of law, but to prove clearly that the plan of
reconstruction presented was, beyond question, the policy endorsed by
the people of the country. It was, therefore, my determination to
see to the law's zealous execution in my district, though I felt
certain that the President would endeavor to embarrass me by every
means in his power, not only on account of his pronounced personal
hostility, but also because of his determination not to execute but
to obstruct the measures enacted by Congress.

Having come to this conclusion, I laid down, as a rule for my
guidance, the principle of non-interference with the provisional
State governments, and though many appeals were made to have me
rescind rulings of the courts, or interpose to forestall some
presupposed action to be taken by them, my invariable reply was that
I would not take cognizance of such matters, except in cases of
absolute necessity. The same policy was announced also in reference
to municipal affairs throughout the district, so long as the action
of the local officers did not conflict with the law.

In a very short time, however, I was obliged to interfere in
municipal matters in New Orleans, for it had become clearly apparent
that several of the officials were, both by acts of omission and
commission, ignoring the law, so on the 27th of March I removed from
office the Mayor, John T. Monroe; the Judge of the First District
Court, E. Abell; and the Attorney-General of the State, Andrew S.
Herron; at the same time appointing to the respective offices thus
vacated Edward Heath, W. W. Howe, and B. L. Lynch. The officials
thus removed had taken upon themselves from the start to pronounce
the Reconstruction acts unconstitutional, and to advise such a course
of obstruction that I found it necessary at an early dav to replace
them by men in sympathy with the law, in order to make plain my
determination to have its provisions enforced. The President at once
made inquiry, through General Grant, for the cause of the removal,
and I replied:

"New Orleans, La., April 19, 1867.

"GENERAL: On the 27th day of March last I removed from office Judge
E. Abell, of the Criminal Court of New Orleans; Andrew S. Herron,
Attorney-General of the State of Louisiana; and John T. Monroe, Mayor
of the City of New Orleans. These removals were made under the
powers granted me in what is usually termed the 'military bill,'
passed March 2, 1867, by the Congress of the United States.

"I did not deem it necessary to give any reason for the removal of
these men, especially after the investigations made by the military
board on the massacre Of July 30, 1866, and the report of the
congressional committee on the same massacre; but as some inquiry has
been made for the cause of removal, I would respectfully state as

"The court over which judge Abell presided is the only criminal court
in the city of New Orleans, and for a period of at least nine months
previous to the riot Of July 30 he had been educating a large portion
of the community to the perpetration of this outrage, by almost
promising no prosecution in his court against the offenders, in case
such an event occurred. The records of his court will show that he
fulfilled his promise, as not one of the guilty has been prosecuted.

"In reference to Andrew J. Herron, Attorney-General of the State of
Louisiana, I considered it his duty to indict these men before this
criminal court. This he failed to do, but went so far as to attempt
to impose on the good sense of the whole nation by indicting the
victims of the riot instead of the rioters; in other words, making
the innocent guilty and the guilty innocent. He was therefore, in my
belief, an able coadjutor with judge Abell in bringing on the
massacre of July 30.

"Mayor Monroe controlled the element engaged in this riot, and when
backed by an attorney-general who would not prosecute the guilty, and
a judge who advised the grand jury to find the innocent guilty and
let the murderers go free, felt secure in engaging his police force
in the riot and massacre.

"With these three men exercising a large influence over the worst
elements of the population of this city, giving to those elements an
immunity for riot and bloodshed, the general-in-chief will see how
insecurely I felt in letting them occupy their respective positions
in the troubles which might occur in registration and voting in the
reorganization of this State.

"I am, General, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

"Major-General U. S. A.

"Commanding Armies of the United States,
"Washington, D. C."

To General Grant my reasons were satisfactory, but not so to the
President, who took no steps, however, to rescind my action, for he
knew that the removals were commended by well-nigh the entire
community in the city, for it will be understood that Mr. Johnson
was, through his friends and adherents in Louisiana and Texas, kept
constantly advised of every step taken by me. Many of these persons
were active and open opponents of mine, while others were spies,
doing their work so secretly and quickly that sometimes Mr. Johnson
knew of my official acts before I could report them to General Grant.

The supplemental Reconstruction act which defined the method of
reconstruction became a law despite the President's veto on March 23.
This was a curative act, authorizing elections and prescribing
methods of registration. When it reached me officially I began
measures for carrying out its provisions, and on the 28th of March
issued an order to the effect that no elections for the State,
parish, or municipal officers would be held in Louisiana until the
provisions of the laws of Congress entitled "An act to provide for
the more efficient government of the rebel States," and of the act
supplemental thereto, should have been complied with. I also
announced that until elections were held in accordance with these
acts, the law of the Legislature of the State providing for the
holding over of those persons whose terms of office otherwise would
have expired, would govern in all cases excepting only those special
ones in which I myself might take action. There was one parish,
Livingston, which this order did no reach in time to prevent the
election previously ordered there, and which therefore took place,
but by a supplemental order this election was declare null and void.

In April. I began the work of administering the Supplemental Law,
which, under certain condition of eligibility, required a
registration of the voter of the State, for the purpose of electing
delegate to a Constitutional convention. It therefore became
necessary to appoint Boards of Registration throughout the election
districts, and on April 10 the boards for the Parish of Orleans were
given out, those for the other parishes being appointed ten days
later. Before announcing these boards, I had asked to be advised
definitely as to what persons were disfranchised by the law, and was
directed by General Grant to act upon my own interpretation of it,
pending an opinion expected shortly from the Attorney-General--Mr.
Henry Stanbery--so, for the guidance of the boards, I gave the
following instructions:

"New Orleans, La., April 10, 1867.

"Special Orders, No. 15.

"....In obedience to the directions contained in the first section of
the Law of Congress entitled "An Act supplemental to an Act entitled
'An Act to provide for the more efficient government of the rebel
States'" the registration of the legal voters, according to that law
in the Parish of Orleans, will be commenced on the 15th instant, and
must be completed by the 15th of May.

"The four municipal districts of the City of New Orleans and the
Parish of Orleans, right bank (Algiers), will each constitute a
Registration district. Election precincts will remain as at present

"....Each member of the Board of Registers, before commencing his
duties, will file in the office of the Assistant-Inspector-General at
these headquarters, the oath required in the sixth section of the Act
referred to, and be governed in the execution of his duty by the
provisions of the first section of that Act, faithfully administering
the oath therein prescribed to each person registered.

"Boards of Registers will immediately select suitable offices within
their respective districts, having reference to convenience and
facility of registration, and will enter upon their duties on the day
designated. Each Board will be entitled to two clerks. Office-hours
for registration will be from 8 o'clock till 12 A. M., and from 4
till 7 P. M.

"When elections are ordered, the Board of Registers for each district
will designate the number of polls and the places where they shall be
opened in the election precincts within its district, appoint the
commissioners and other officers necessary for properly conducting
the elections, and will superintend the same.

"They will also receive from the commissioners of elections of the
different precincts the result of the vote, consolidate the same, and
forward it to the commanding general.

"Registers and all officers connected with elections will be held to
a rigid accountability and will be subject to trial by military
commission for fraud, or unlawful or improper conduct in the
performance of their duties. Their rate of compensation and manner
of payment will be in accordance with the provisions of sections six
and seven of the supplemental act.

"....Every male citizen of the United States, twenty-one years old
and upward, of whatever race, color, or previous condition, who has
been resident in the State of Louisiana for one year and Parish of
Orleans for three months previous to the date at which he presents
himself for registration, and who has not been disfranchised by act
of Congress or for felony at common law, shall, after having taken
and subscribed the oath prescribed in the first section of the act
herein referred to, be entitled to be, and shall be, registered as a
legal voter in the Parish of Orleans and State of Louisiana.

"Pending the decision of the Attorney-General of the United States on
the question as to who are disfranchised by law, registers will give
the most rigid interpretation to the law, and exclude from
registration every person about whose right to vote there may be a
doubt. Any person so excluded who may, under the decision of the
Attorney-General, be entitled to vote, shall be permitted to register
after that decision is received, due notice of which will be given.

"By command of Major-General P. H. SHERIDAN,

"Assistant Adjutant-General."

The parish Boards of Registration were composed of three members
each. Ability to take what was known as the "ironclad oath" was the
qualification exacted of the members, and they were prohibited from
becoming candidates for office. In the execution of their duties
they were to be governed by the provisions of the supplemental act.
It was also made one of their functions to designate the number and
location of the polling-places in the several districts, to appoint
commissioners for receiving the votes and in general to attend to
such other matters as were necessary, in order properly to conduct
the voting, and afterward to receive from the commissioners the
result of the vote and forward it to my headquarters. These
registers, and all other officers having to do with elections, were
to be held to a rigid accountability, and be subject to trial by
military commission for fraud or unlawful or improper conduct in the
performance of their duties; and in order to be certain that the
Registration Boards performed their work faithfully and
intelligently, officers of the army were appointed as supervisors.
To this end the parishes were grouped together conveniently in
temporary districts, each officer having from three to five parishes
to supervise. The programme thus mapped out for carrying out the law
in Louisiana was likewise adhered to in Texas, and indeed was
followed as a model in some of the other military districts.

Although Military Commissions were fully authorized by the
Reconstruction acts, yet I did not favor their use in governing the
district, and probably would never have convened one had these acts
been observed in good faith. I much preferred that the civil courts,
and the State and municipal authorities already in existence, should
perform their functions without military control or interference, but
occasionally, because the civil authorities neglected their duty, I
was obliged to resort to this means to ensure the punishment Of
offenders. At this time the condition of the negroes in Texas and
Louisiana was lamentable, though, in fact, not worse than that of the
few white loyalists who had been true to the Union during the war.
These last were singled out as special objects of attack, and were,
therefore, obliged at all times to be on the alert for the protection
of their lives and property. This was the natural outcome of Mr.
Johnson's defiance of Congress, coupled with the sudden conversion to
his cause of persons in the North--who but a short time before had
been his bitterest enemies; for all this had aroused among the
disaffected element new hopes of power and place, hopes of being at
once put in political control again, with a resumption of their
functions in State and National matters without any preliminary
authorization by Congress. In fact, it was not only hoped, but
expected, that things were presently to go on just as if there had
been no war.

In the State of Texas there were in 1865 about 200,000 of the colored
race-roughly, a third of the entire population--while in Louisiana
there were not less than 350,000, or more than one-half of all the
people in the State. Until the enactment of the Reconstruction laws
these negroes were without rights, and though they had been liberated
by the war, Mr. Johnson's policy now proposed that they should have
no political status at all, and consequently be at the mercy of a
people who, recently their masters, now seemed to look upon them as
the authors of all the misfortunes that had come upon the land.
Under these circumstances the blacks naturally turned for protection
to those who had been the means of their liberation, and it would
have been little less than inhuman to deny them sympathy. Their
freedom had been given them, and it was the plain duty of those in
authority to make it secure, and screen them from the bitter
political resentment that beset them, and to see that they had a fair
chance in the battle of life. Therefore, when outrages and murders
grew frequent, and the aid of the military power was an absolute
necessity for the protection of life, I employed it unhesitatingly
--the guilty parties being brought to trial before military
commissions--and for a time, at least, there occurred a halt in the
march of terrorism inaugurated by the people whom Mr. Johnson had

The first, Military Commission was convened to try the case of John
W. Walker, charged with shooting a negro in the parish of St. John.
The proper civil authorities had made no effort to arrest Walker, and
even connived at his escape, so I had him taken into custody in New
Orleans, and ordered him tried, the commission finding him guilty,
and sentencing him to confinement in the penitentiary for six months.
This shooting was the third occurrence of the kind that had taken
place in St. John's parish, a negro being wounded in each case, and
it was plain that the intention was to institute there a practice of
intimidation which should be effective to subject the freedmen to the
will of their late masters, whether in making labor contracts, or in
case these newly enfranchised negroes should evince a disposition to
avail themselves of the privilege to vote.

The trial and conviction of Walker, and of one or two others for
similar outrages, soon put a stop to every kind of "bull-dozing" in
the country parishes; but about this time I discovered that many
members of the police force in New Orleans were covertly intimidating
the freedmen there, and preventing their appearance at the
registration offices, using milder methods than had obtained in the
country, it is true, but none the less effective.

Early in 1866 the Legislature had passed an act which created for the
police of New Orleans a residence qualification, the object of which
was to discharge and exclude from the force ex-Union soldiers. This
of course would make room for the appointment of ex-Confederates, and
Mayor Monroe had not been slow in enforcing the provisions of the
law. It was, in fact, a result of this enactment that the police was
so reorganized as to become the willing and efficient tool which it
proved to be in the riot of 1866; and having still the same
personnel, it was now in shape to prevent registration by threats,
unwarranted arrests, and by various other influences, all operating
to keep the timid blacks away from the registration places.

That the police were taking a hand in this practice of repression, I
first discovered by the conduct of the assistant to the chief of the
body, and at once removed the offender, but finding this ineffectual
I annulled that part of the State law fixing the five years'
residence restriction, and restored the two years' qualification,
thus enabling Mayor Heath, who by my appointment had succeeded
Monroe, to organize the force anew, and take about one-half of its
members from ex-Union soldiers who when discharged had settled in New
Orleans. This action put an end to intimidation in the parish of
Orleans; and now were put in operation in all sections the processes
provided by the supplemental Reconstruction law for the summoning of
a convention to form a Constitution preparatory to the readmission of
the State, and I was full of hope that there would now be much less
difficulty in administering the trust imposed by Congress.

During the two years previous great damage had been done the
agricultural interests of Louisiana by the overflow of the
Mississippi, the levees being so badly broken as to require extensive
repairs, and the Legislature of 1866 had appropriated for the purpose
$4,000,000, to be raised by an issue of bonds. This money was to be
disbursed by a Board of Levee Commissioners then in existence, but
the term of service of these commissioners, and the law creating the
board, would expire in the spring of 1867. In order to overcome this
difficulty the Legislature passed a bill continuing the commissioners
in office but as the act was passed inside of ten days before the
adjournment of the Legislature, Governor Wells pocketed the bill, and
it failed to become a law. The Governor then appointed a board of
his own, without any warrant of law whatever. The old commissioners
refused to recognize this new board, and of course a conflict of
authority ensued, which, it was clear, would lead to vicious results
if allowed to continue; so, as the people of the State had no
confidence in either of the boards, I decided to end the contention
summarily by appointing an entirely new commission, which would
disburse the money honestly, and further the real purpose for which
it had been appropriated. When I took this course the legislative
board acquiesced, but Governor Wells immediately requested the
President to revoke my order, which, however, was not done, but
meanwhile the Secretary of War directed me to suspend all proceedings
in the matter, and make a report of the facts. I complied in the
following telegram:

"NEW ORLEANS, La., June 3, 1867.

"SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your telegram of
this date in reference to the Levee Commissioners in this State.

"The following were my reasons for abolishing the two former boards,
although I intended that my order should be sufficiently explanatory:

"Previous to the adjournment of the Legislature last winter it passed
an act continuing the old Levee board in office, so that the four
millions of dollars ($4,000,000) in bonds appropriated by the
Legislature might be disbursed by a board of rebellious antecedents.

"After its adjournment the Governor of the State appointed a board of
his own, in violation of this act, and made the acknowledgment to me
in person that his object was to disburse the money in the interest
of his own party by securing for it the vote of the employees at the
time of election.

"The board continued in office by the Legislature refused to turn
over to the Governor's board, and each side appealed to me to sustain
it, which I would not do. The question must then have gone to the
courts, which, according to the Governor's judgment when he was
appealing to me to be sustained, would require one year for decision.
Meantime the State was overflowed, the Levee boards tied up by
political chicanery, and nothing done to relieve the poor people, now
fed by the charity of the Government and charitable associations of
the North.

"To obviate this trouble, and to secure to the overflowed districts
of the State the immediate relief which the honest disbursement of
the four millions ($4,000,000) would give, my order dissolving both
boards was issued.

"I say now, unequivocally, that Governor Wells is a political
trickster and a dishonest man. I have seen him myself, when I first
came to this command, turn out all the Union men who had supported
the Government, and put in their stead rebel soldiers who had not yet
doffed their gray uniform. I have seen him again, during the July
riot of 1866, skulk away where I could not find him to give him a
guard, instead of coming out as a manly representative of the State
and joining those who were preserving the peace. I have watched him
since, and his conduct has been as sinuous as the mark left in the
dust by the movement of a snake.

"I say again that he is dishonest, and that dishonesty is more than
must be expected of me.

"Major-General, U. S. A.

"Hon. E. M. STANTON,
"Secretary of War, Washington, D. C."

The same day that I sent my report to the Secretary of War I removed
from office Governor Wells himself, being determined to bear no
longer with the many obstructions he had placed in the way of
reorganizing the civil affairs of the State. I was also satisfied
that he was unfit to retain the place, since he was availing himself
of every opportunity to work political ends beneficial to himself.
In this instance Wells protested to me against his removal, and also
appealed to the President for an opinion of the Attorney-General as
to my power in the case; and doubtless he would have succeeded in
retaining his office, but for the fact that the President had been
informed by General James B. Steadman and others placed to watch me
that Wells was wholly unworthy.

"NEW ORLEANS, June 19, 1867.
"ANDREW JOHNSON, President United States,
"Washington City:

"Lewis D. Campbell leaves New Orleans for home this evening. Want
of respect for Governor Wells personally, alone represses the
expression of indignation felt by all honest and sensible men at the
unwarranted usurpation of General Sheridan in removing the civil
officers of Louisiana. It is believed here that you will reinstate
Wells. He is a bad man, and has no influence.

"I believe Sheridan made the removals to embarrass you, believing the
feeling at the North would sustain him. My conviction is that on
account of the bad character of Wells and Monroe, you ought not to
reinstate any who have been removed, because you cannot reinstate any
without reinstating all, but you ought to prohibit the exercise of
this power in the future.

"Respectfully yours,


I appointed Mr. Thomas J. Durant as Wells's successor, but he
declining, I then appointed Mr. Benjamin F. Flanders, who, after I
had sent a staff-officer to forcibly eject Wells in case of
necessity, took possession of the Governor's office. Wells having
vacated, Governor Flanders began immediately the exercise of his
duties in sympathy with the views of Congress, and I then notified
General Grant that I thought he need have no further apprehension
about the condition of affairs in Louisiana, as my appointee was a
man of such integrity and ability that I already felt relieved of
half my labor. I also stated in the same despatch that nothing would
answer in Louisiana but a bold and firm course, and that in taking
such a one I felt that I was strongly supported; a statement that was
then correct, for up to this period the better classes were disposed
to accept the Congressional plan of reconstruction.

During the controversy over the Levee Commissioners, and the
correspondence regarding the removal of Governor Wells, registration
had gone on under the rules laid down for the boards. The date set
for closing the books was the 3oth of June, but in the parish of
Orleans the time was extended till the 15th of July. This the
President considered too short a period, and therefore directed the
registry lists not to be closed before the 1st of August, unless
there was some good reason to the contrary. This was plainly
designed to keep the books open in order that under the
Attorney-General's interpretation of the Reconstruction laws, published
June 20, many persons who had been excluded by the registration boards
could yet be registered, so I decided to close the registration, unless
required by the President unconditionally, and in specific orders, to
extend the time. My motives were manifold, but the main reasons were
that as two and a half months had been given already, the number of
persons who, under the law, were qualified for registry was about
exhausted; and because of the expense I did not feel warranted in
keeping up the boards longer, as I said, "to suit new issues coming in
at the eleventh hour," which would but open a "broad macadamized road
for perjury and fraud."

When I thus stated what I intended to do, the opinion of the
Attorney-General had not yet been received. When it did reach me it
was merely in the form of a circular signed by Adjutant-General
Townsend, and had no force of law. It was not even sent as an order,
nor was it accompanied by any instructions, or by anything except the
statement that it was transmitted to the 11 respective military
commanders for their information, in order that there might be
uniformity in the execution of the Reconstruction acts. To adopt
Mr. Stanbery's interpretation of the law and reopen registration
accordingly, would defeat the purpose of Congress, as well as add to
my perplexities. Such a course would also require that the officers
appointed by me for the performance of specified duties, under laws
which I was empowered to interpret and enforce, should receive their
guidance and instructions from an unauthorized source, so on
communicating with General Grant as to how I should act, he directed
me to enforce my own construction of the military bill until ordered
to do otherwise.

Therefore the registration continued as I had originally directed,
and nothing having been definitely settled at Washington in relation
to my extending the time, on the 10th of July I ordered all the
registration boards to select, immediately, suitable persons to act
as commissioners of election, and at the same time specified the
number of each set of commissioners, designated the polling-places,
gave notice that two days would be allowed for voting, and followed
this with an order discontinuing registration the 31st of July, and
then another appointing the 27th and 28th of September as the time
for the election of delegates to the State convention.

In accomplishing the registration there had been little opposition
from the mass of the people, but the press of New Orleans, and the
office-holders and office-seekers in the State generally, antagonized
the work bitterly and violently, particularly after the promulgation
of the opinion of the Attorney-General. These agitators condemned
everybody and everything connected with the Congressional plan of
reconstruction; and the pernicious influence thus exerted was
manifested in various ways, but most notably in the selection of
persons to compose the jury lists in the country parishes it also
tempted certain municipal officers in New Orleans to perform illegal
acts that would seriously have affected the credit of the city had
matters not been promptly corrected by the summary removal from
office of the comptroller and the treasurer, who had already issued a
quarter of a million dollars in illegal certificates. On learning of
this unwarranted and unlawful proceeding, Mayor Heath demanded an
investigation by the Common Council, but this body, taking its cue
from the evident intention of the President to render abortive the
Reconstruction acts, refused the mayor's demand. Then he tried to
have the treasurer and comptroller restrained by injunction, but the
city attorney, under the same inspiration as the council, declined to
sue out a writ, and the attorney being supported in this course by
nearly all the other officials, the mayor was left helpless in his
endeavors to preserve the city's credit. Under such circumstances he
took the only step left him--recourse to the military commander; and
after looking into the matter carefully I decided, in the early part
of August, to give the mayor officials who would not refuse to make
an investigation of the illegal issue of certificates, and to this
end I removed the treasurer, surveyor, comptroller, city attorney,
and twenty-two of the aldermen; these officials, and all of their
assistants, having reduced the financial credit of New Orleans to a
disordered condition, and also having made efforts--and being then
engaged in such--to hamper the execution of the Reconstruction laws.

This action settled matters in the city, but subsequently I had to
remove some officials in the parishes--among them a justice of the
peace and a sheriff in the parish of Rapides; the justice for
refusing to permit negro witnesses to testify in a certain murder
case, and for allowing the murderer, who had foully killed a colored
man, to walk out of his court on bail in the insignificant sum of
five hundred dollars; and the sheriff, for conniving at the escape
from jail of another alleged murderer. Finding, however, even after
these removals, that in the country districts murderers and other
criminals went unpunished, provided the offenses were against negroes
merely (since the jurors were selected exclusively from the whites,
and often embraced those excluded from the exercise of the election
franchise) I, having full authority under the Reconstruction laws,
directed such a revision of the jury lists as would reject from them
every man not eligible for registration as a voter. This order was
issued August 24, and on its promulgation the President relieved me
from duty and assigned General Hancock as my successor.

"NEW ORLEANS, LA., August 24, 1867.


"The registration of voters of the State of Louisiana, according to
the law of Congress, being complete, it is hereby ordered that no
person who is not registered in accordance with said law shall be
considered as, a duly qualified voter of the State of Louisiana. All
persons duly registered as above, and no others, are consequently
eligible, under the laws of the State of Louisiana, to serve as
jurors in any of the courts of the State.

"The necessary revision of the jury lists will immediately be made by
the proper officers.

"All the laws of the State respecting exemptions, etc., from jury
duty will remain in force.

"By command of Major-General P. H. SHERIDAN.

"GEO. L. HARTNUFF, Asst. Adj't-General."

Pending the arrival of General Hancock, I turned over the command of
the district September 1 to General Charles Griffin; but he dying of
yellow fever, General J. A. Mower succeeded him, and retained command
till November 29, on which date General Hancock assumed control.
Immediately after Hancock took charge, he revoked my order of August
24 providing for a revision of the jury lists; and, in short,
President Johnson's policy now became supreme, till Hancock himself
was relieved in March, 1868.

My official connection with the reconstruction of Louisiana and Texas
practically closed with this order concerning the jury lists. In my
judgment this had become a necessity, for the disaffected element,
sustained as it was by the open sympathy of the President, had grown
so determined in its opposition to the execution of the
Reconstruction acts that I resolved to remove from place and power
all obstacles; for the summer's experience had convinced me that in
no other way could the law be faithfully administered.

The President had long been dissatisfied with my course; indeed, he
had harbored personal enmity against me ever since he perceived that
he could not bend me to an acceptance of the false position in which
he had tried to place me by garbling my report of the riot of 1866.
When Mr. Johnson decided to remove me, General Grant protested in
these terms, but to no purpose:

"WASHINGTON, D. C., August 17, 1867

"SIR: I am in receipt of your order of this date directing the
assignment of General G. H. Thomas to the command of the Fifth
Military District, General Sheridan to the Department of the
Missouri, and General Hancock to the Department of the Cumberland;
also your note of this date (enclosing these instructions), saying:
'Before you issue instructions to carry into effect the enclosed
order, I would be pleased to hear any suggestions you may deem
necessary respecting the assignments to which the order refers.'

"I am pleased to avail myself of this invitation to urge--earnestly
urge--urge in the name of a patriotic people, who have sacrificed
hundreds of thousands of loyal lives and thousands of millions of
treasure to preserve the integrity and union of this country--that
this order be not insisted on. It is unmistakably the expressed wish
of the country that General Sheridan should not be removed from his
present command.

"This is a republic where the will of the people is the law of the
land. I beg that their voice may be heard.

"General Sheridan has performed his civil duties faithfully and
intelligently. His removal will only be regarded as an effort to
defeat the laws of Congress. It will be interpreted by the
unreconstructed element in the South--those who did all they could to
break up this Government by arms, and now wish to be the only element
consulted as to the method of restoring order--as a triumph. It will
embolden them to renewed opposition to the will of the loyal masses,
believing that they have the Executive with them.

"The services of General Thomas in battling for the Union entitle him
to some consideration. He has repeatedly entered his protest against
being assigned to either of the five military districts, and
especially to being assigned to relieve General Sheridan.

"There are military reasons, pecuniary reasons, and above all,
patriotic reasons, why this should not be insisted upon.

"I beg to refer to a letter marked 'private,' which I wrote to the
President when first consulted on the subject of the change in the
War Department. It bears upon the subject of this removal, and I had
hoped would have prevented it.

"I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,

"General U. S. A., Secretary of War ad interim.

"His Excellency A. JOHNSON,
"President of the United States."

I was ordered to command the Department of the Missouri (General
Hancock, as already noted, finally becoming my successor in the Fifth
Military District), and left New Orleans on the 5th of September. I
was not loath to go. The kind of duty I had been performing in
Louisiana and Texas was very trying under the most favorable
circumstances, but all the more so in my case, since I had to contend
against the obstructions which the President placed in the way from
persistent opposition to the acts of Congress as well as from
antipathy to me--which obstructions he interposed with all the
boldness and aggressiveness of his peculiar nature.

On more than one occasion while I was exercising this command,
impurity of motive was imputed to me, but it has never been
truthfully shown (nor can it ever be) that political or corrupt
influences of any kind controlled me in any instance. I simply tried
to carry out, without fear or favor, the Reconstruction acts as they
came to me. They were intended to disfranchise certain persons, and
to enfranchise certain others, and, till decided otherwise, were the
laws of the land; and it was my duty to execute them faithfully,
without regard, on the one hand, for those upon whom it was thought
they bore so heavily, nor, on the other, for this or that political
party, and certainly without deference to those persons sent to
Louisiana to influence my conduct of affairs.

Some of these missionaries were high officials, both military and
civil, and I recall among others a visit made me in 1866 by a
distinguished friend of the President, Mr. Thomas A. Hendricks. The
purpose of his coming was to convey to me assurances of the very high
esteem in which I was held by the President, and to explain
personally Mr. Johnson's plan of reconstruction, its flawless
constitutionality, and so on. But being on the ground, I had before
me the exhibition of its practical working, saw the oppression and
excesses growing out of it, and in the face of these experiences even
Mr. Hendricks's persuasive eloquence was powerless to convince me of
its beneficence. Later General Lovell H. Rousseau came down on a
like mission, but was no more successful than Mr. Hendricks.

During the whole period that I commanded in Louisiana and Texas my
position was a most unenviable one. The service was unusual, and the
nature of it scarcely to be understood by those not entirely familiar
with the conditions existing immediately after the war. In
administering the affairs of those States, I never acted except by
authority, and always from conscientious motives. I tried to guard
the rights of everybody in accordance with the law. In this I was
supported by General Grant and opposed by President Johnson. The
former had at heart, above every other consideration, the good of his
country, and always sustained me with approval and kind suggestions.
The course pursued by the President was exactly the opposite, and
seems to prove that in the whole matter of reconstruction he was
governed less by patriotic motives than by personal ambitions. Add
to this his natural obstinacy of character and personal enmity toward
me, and no surprise should be occasioned when I say that I heartily
welcomed the order that lifted from me my unsought burden.



The headquarters of the military department to which I was assigned
when relieved from duty at New Orleans was at Fort Leavenworth,
Kansas, and on the 5th of September I started for that post. In due
time I reached St. Louis, and stopped there a day to accept an
ovation tendered in approval of the course I had pursued in the Fifth
Military District--a public demonstration apparently of the most
sincere and hearty character.

From St. Louis to Leavenworth took but one night, and the next day I
technically complied with my orders far enough to permit General
Hancock to leave the department, so that he might go immediately to
New Orleans if he so desired, but on account of the yellow fever
epidemic then prevailing, he did not reach the city till late in

My new command was one of the four military departments that composed
the geographical division then commanded by Lieutenant-General
Sherman. This division had been formed in 1866, with a view to
controlling the Indians west of the Missouri River, they having
become very restless and troublesome because of the building of the
Pacific railroads through their hunting-grounds, and the
encroachments of pioneers, who began settling in middle and western
Kansas and eastern Colorado immediately after the war.

My department embraced the States of Missouri and Kansas, the Indian
Territory, and New Mexico. Part of this section of country--western
Kansas particularly--had been frequently disturbed and harassed
during two or three years past, the savages every now and then
massacring an isolated family, boldly attacking the surveying and
construction parties of the Kansas-Pacific railroad, sweeping down on
emigrant trains, plundering and burning stage-stations and the like
along the Smoky Hill route to Denver and the Arkansas route to New

However, when I relieved Hancock, the department was comparatively
quiet. Though some military operations had been conducted against
the hostile tribes in the early part of the previous summer, all
active work was now suspended in the attempt to conclude a permanent
peace with the Cheyennes, Arapahoes, Kiowas, and Comanches, in
compliance with the act of Congress creating what was known as the
Indian Peace Commission of 1867.

Under these circumstances there was little necessity for my remaining
at Leavenworth, and as I was much run down in health from the
Louisiana climate, in which I had been obliged to live continuously
for three summers (one of which brought epidemic cholera, and another
a scourge of yellow fever), I took a leave of absence for a few
months, leaving Colonel A. J. Smith, of the Seventh Cavalry,
temporarily in charge of my command.

On this account I did not actually go on duty in the department of
the Missouri till March, 1868. On getting back I learned that the
negotiations of the Peace Commissioners held at Medicine Lodge, about
seventy miles south of Fort Larned had resulted in a treaty with the
Cheyennes, Arapahoes, Kiowas, and Comanches, by which agreement it
was supposed all troubles had been settled. The compact, as
concluded, contained numerous provisions, the most important to us
being one which practically relinquished the country between the
Arkansas and Platte rivers for white settlement; another permitted
the peaceable construction of the Pacific railroads through the same
region; and a third requiring the tribes signing the treaty to retire
to reservations allotted them in the Indian Territory. Although the
chiefs and head-men were well-nigh unanimous in ratifying these
concessions, it was discovered in the spring of 1868 that many of the
young men were bitterly opposed to what had been done, and claimed
that most of the signatures had been obtained by misrepresentation
and through proffers of certain annuities, and promises of arms and
ammunition to be issued in the spring of 1868. This grumbling was
very general in extent, and during the winter found outlet in
occasional marauding, so, fearing a renewal of the pillaging and
plundering at an early day, to prepare myself for the work evidently
ahead the first thing I did on assuming permanent command was to make
a trip to Fort Larned and Fort Dodge, near which places the bulk of
the Indians had congregated on Pawnee and Walnut creeks. I wanted to
get near enough to the camps to find out for myself the actual state
of feeling among the savages, and also to familiarize myself with the
characteristics of the Plains Indians, for my previous experience had
been mainly with mountain tribes on the Pacific coast. Fort Larned I
found too near the camps for my purpose, its proximity too readily
inviting unnecessary "talks," so I remained here but a day or two,
and then went on to Dodge, which, though considerably farther away
from the camps, was yet close enough to enable us to obtain easily
information of all that was going on.

It took but a few days at Dodge to discover that great discontent
existed about the Medicine Lodge concessions, to see that the young
men were chafing and turbulent, and that it would require much tact
and good management on the part of the Indian Bureau to persuade the
four tribes to go quietly to their reservations, under an agreement
which, when entered into, many of them protested had not been fully

A few hours after my arrival a delegation of prominent chiefs called
on me and proposed a council, where they might discuss their
grievances, and thus bring to the notice of the Government the
alleged wrongs done them; but this I refused, because Congress had
delegated to the Peace Commission the whole matter of treating with
them, and a council might lead only to additional complications. My
refusal left them without hope of securing better terms, or of even
delaying matters longer; so henceforth they were more than ever
reckless and defiant. Denunciations of the treaty became outspoken,
and as the young braves grew more and more insolent every day, it
amounted to conviction that, unless by some means the irritation was
allayed, hostilities would surely be upon us when the buffalo
returned to their summer feeding-grounds between the Arkansas and the

The principal sufferers in this event would be the settlers in middle
and western Kansas, who, entirely ignorant of the dangers hanging
over them, were laboring to build up homes in a new country. Hence
the maintenance of peace was much to be desired, if it could be
secured without too great concessions, and although I would not meet
the different tribes in a formal council, yet, to ward off from
settlers as much as possible the horrors of savage warfare, I showed,
by resorting to persuasive methods, my willingness to temporize a
good deal. An abundant supply of rations is usually effective to
keep matters quiet in such cases, so I fed them pretty freely, and
also endeavored to control them through certain men who, I found,
because of former associations, had their confidence. These men,
employed as scouts, or interpreters, were Mr. William Comstock, Mr.
Abner S. Grover, and Mr. Richard Parr. They had lived on the Plains
for many years with different tribes of Indians, had trapped and
hunted with them, and knew all the principal chiefs and headmen.
Through such influences, I thought I saw good chances of preserving
peace, and of inducing the discontented to go quietly to their
reservations in the Indian Territory as soon as General Hazen, the
representative of the Peace Commissioners, was ready to conduct them
there from Fort Larned.

Before returning to Leavenworth I put my mediators (as I may call
them) under charge of an officer of the army, Lieutenant F. W.
Beecher, a very intelligent man, and directed him to send them out to
visit among the different tribes, in order to explain what was
intended by the treaty of Medicine Lodge, and to make every effort
possible to avert hostilities. Under these instructions Comstock and
Grover made it their business to go about among the Cheyennes--the
most warlike tribe of all--then camping about the headwaters of
Pawnee and Walnut creeks, and also to the north and west of Fort
Wallace, while Parr spent his time principally with the Kiowas and

From the different posts--Wallace, Dodge, and Larned Lieutenant
Beecher kept up communication with all three scouts, and through him
I heard from them at least once a week. Every now and then some
trouble along the railroad or stage routes would be satisfactorily
adjusted and quiet restored, and matters seemed to be going on very
well, the warm weather bringing the grass and buffalo in plenty, and
still no outbreak, nor any act of downright hostility. So I began to
hope that we should succeed in averting trouble till the favorite war
season of the Indians was over, but the early days of August rudely
ended our fancied tranquility.

In July the encampments about Fort Dodge began to break up, each band
or tribe moving off to some new location north of the Arkansas,
instead of toward its proper reservation to the south of that river.
Then I learned presently that a party of Cheyennes had made a raid on
the Kaws--a band of friendly Indians living near Council Grove--and
stolen their horses, and also robbed the houses of several white
people near Council Grove. This raid was the beginning of the Indian
war of 1868. Immediately following it, the Comanches and Kiowas came
to Fort Larned to receive their annuities, expecting to get also the
arms and ammunition promised them at Medicine Lodge, but the raid to
Council Grove having been reported to the Indian Department, the
issue of arms was suspended till reparation was made. This action of
the Department greatly incensed the savages, and the agent's offer of
the annuities without guns and pistols was insolently refused, the
Indians sulking back to their camps, the young men giving themselves
up to war-dances, and to powwows with "medicine-men," till all hope
of control was gone.

Brevet Brigadier-General Alfred Sully, an officer of long experience
in Indian matters, who at this time was in command of the District of
the Arkansas, which embraced Forts Larned and Dodge, having notified
me of these occurrences at Larned, and expressed the opinion that the
Indians were bent on mischief, I directed him there immediately to
act against them. After he reached Larned, the chances for peace
appeared more favorable. The Indians came to see him, and protested
that it was only a few bad young men who had been depredating, and
that all would be well and the young men held in check if the agent
would but issue the arms and ammunition. Believing their promises,
Sully thought that the delivery of the arms would solve all the
difficulties, so on his advice the agent turned them over along with
the annuities, the Indians this time condescendingly accepting.

This issue of arms and ammunition was a fatal mistake; Indian
diplomacy had overreached Sully's experience, and even while the
delivery was in progress a party of warriors had already begun a raid
of murder and rapine, which for acts of devilish cruelty perhaps has
no parallel in savage warfare. The party consisted of about two
hundred Cheyennes and a few Arapahoes, with twenty Sioux who had been
visiting their friends, the Cheyennes. As near as could be
ascertained, they organized and left their camps along Pawnee Creek
about the 3d of August. Traveling northeast, they skirted around
Fort Harker, and made their first appearance among the settlers in
the Saline Valley, about thirty miles north of that post. Professing
friendship and asking food at the farm-houses, they saw the
unsuspecting occupants comply by giving all they could spare from
their scanty stores. Knowing the Indian's inordinate fondness for
coffee, particularly when well sweetened, they even served him this
luxury freely. With this the demons began their devilish work.
Pretending to be indignant because it was served them in tin cups,
they threw the hot contents into the women's faces, and then, first
making prisoners of the men, they, one after another, ravished the
women till the victims became insensible. For some inexplicable
reason the two farmers were neither killed nor carried off, so after
the red fiends had gone, the unfortunate women were brought in to
Fort Harker, their arrival being the first intimation to the military
that hostilities had actually begun.

Leaving the Saline, this war-party crossed over to the valley of the
Solomon, a more thickly settled region, and where the people were in
better circumstances, their farms having been started two or three
years before. Unaware of the hostile character of the raiders, the
people here received them in the friendliest way, providing food, and
even giving them ammunition, little dreaming of what was impending.
These kindnesses were requited with murder and pillage, and worse,
for all the women who fell into their hands were subjected to horrors
indescribable by words. Here also the first murders were committed,
thirteen men and two women being killed. Then, after burning five
houses and stealing all the horses they could find, they turned back
toward the Saline, carrying away as prisoners two little girls named
Bell, who have never been heard of since.

It was probably the intention to finish, as they marched back to the
south, the devilish work begun on the Saline, but before they reached
that valley on the return, the victims left there originally had fled
to Fort Harker, as already explained, and Captain Benteen was now
nearing the little settlement with a troop of cavalry, which he had
hurriedly marched from Fort Zarah. The savages were attacking the
house of a Mr. Schermerhorn, where a few of the settlers had
collected for defense, when Benteen approached. Hearing the firing,
the troopers rode toward the sound at a gallop, but when they
appeared in view, coming over the hills, the Indians fled in all
directions, escaping punishment through their usual tactics of
scattering over the Plains, so as to leave no distinctive trail.

When this frightful raid was taking place, Lieutenant Beecher, with
his three scouts--Comstock, Grover, and Parr--was on Walnut Creek.
Indefinite rumors about troubles on the Saline and Solomon reaching
him, he immediately sent Comstock and Grover over to the headwaters
of the Solomon, to the camp of a band of Cheyennes, whose chief was
called "Turkey Leg," to see if any of the raiders belonged there; to
learn the facts, and make explanations, if it was found that the
white people had been at fault. For years this chief had been a
special friend of Comstock and Grover. They had trapped, hunted, and
lived with his band, and from this intimacy they felt confident of
being able to get "Turkey Leg" to quiet his people, if any of them
were engaged in the raid; and, at all events, they expected, through
him and his band, to influence the rest of the Cheyennes. From the
moment they arrived in the Indian village, however, the two scouts
met with a very cold reception. Neither friendly pipe nor food was
offered them, and before they could recover from their chilling
reception, they were peremptorily ordered out of the village, with
the intimation that when the Cheyennes were on the war-path the
presence of whites was intolerable. The scouts were prompt to leave,
of course, and for a few miles were accompanied by an escort of seven
young men, who said they were sent with them to protect the two from
harm. As the party rode along over the prairie, such a depth of
attachment was professed for Comstock and Grover that,
notwithstanding all the experience of their past lives, they were
thoroughly deceived, and in the midst of a friendly conversation some
of the young warriors fell suddenly to the rear and treacherously
fired on them.

At the volley Comstock fell from his horse instantly killed. Grover,
badly wounded in the shoulder, also fell to the ground near Comstock
Seeing his comrade was dead, Grover made use of his friend's body to
protect himself, lying close behind it. Then took place a remarkable
contest, Grover, alone and severely wounded, obstinately fighting the
seven Indians, and holding them at bay for the rest of the day.
Being an expert shot, and having a long-range repeating rifle, he
"stood off" the savages till dark. Then cautiously crawling away on
his belly to a deep ravine, he lay close, suffering terribly from his
wound, till the following night, when, setting out for Fort Wallace,
he arrived there the succeeding day, almost crazed from pain and

Simultaneously with the fiendish atrocities committed on the Saline
and Solomon rivers and the attack on Comstock and Grover, the
pillaging and murdering began on the Smoky Hill stage-route, along
the upper Arkansas River and on the headwaters of the Cimarron. That
along the Smoky Hill and north of it was the exclusive work of, the
Cheyennes, a part of the Arapahoes, and the few Sioux allies
heretofore mentioned, while the raiding on the Arkansas and Cimarron
was done principally by the Kiowas under their chief, Satanta, aided
by some of the Comanches. The young men of these tribes set out on
their bloody work just after the annuities and guns were issued at
Larned, and as soon as they were well on the road the rest of the
Comanches and Kiowas escaped from the post and fled south of the
Arkansas. They were at once pursued by General Sully with a small
force, but by the time he reached the Cimarron the war-party had
finished its raid on the upper Arkansas, and so many Indians combined
against Sully that he was compelled to withdraw to Fort Dodge, which
he reached not without considerable difficulty, and after three
severe fights.

These, and many minor raids which followed, made it plain that a
general outbreak was upon us. The only remedy, therefore, was to
subjugate the savages immediately engaged in the forays by forcing
the several tribes to settle down on the reservations set apart by
the treaty of Medicine Lodge. The principal mischief-makers were the
Cheyennes. Next in deviltry were the Kiowas, and then the Arapahoes
and Comanches. Some few of these last two tribes continued friendly,
or at least took no active part in the raiding, but nearly all the
young men of both were the constant allies of the Cheyennes and
Kiowas. All four tribes together could put on the war-path a
formidable force of about 6,000 warriors. The subjugation of this
number of savages would be no easy task, so to give the matter my
undivided attention I transferred my headquarters from Leavenworth to
Fort Hays, a military post near which the prosperous town of Hays
City now stands.

Fort Hays was just beyond the line of the most advanced settlements,
and was then the terminus of the Kansas-Pacific railroad. For this
reason it could be made a depot of supplies, and was a good point
from which to supervise matters in the section of country to be
operated in, which district is a part of the Great American Plains,
extending south from the Platte River in Nebraska to the Red River in
the Indian Territory, and westward from the line of frontier
settlements to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, a vast region
embracing an area of about 150,000 square miles. With the exception
of a half-dozen military posts and a few stations on the two overland
emigrant routes--the Smoky Hill to Denver, and the Arkansas to New
Mexico--this country was an unsettled waste known only to the Indians
and a few trappers. There were neither roads nor well-marked trails,
and the only timber to be found--which generally grew only along the
streams--was so scraggy and worthless as hardly to deserve the name.
Nor was water by any means plentiful, even though the section is
traversed by important streams, the Republican, the Smoky Hill, the
Arkansas, the Cimarron, and the Canadian all flowing eastwardly, as
do also their tributaries in the main. These feeders are sometimes
long and crooked, but as a general thing the volume of water is
insignificant except after rain-falls. Then, because of unimpeded
drainage, the little streams fill up rapidly with torrents of water,
which quickly flows off or sinks into the sand, leaving only an
occasional pool without visible inlet or outlet.

At the period of which I write, in 1868, the Plains were covered with
vast herds of buffalo--the number has been estimated at 3,000,000
head--and with such means of subsistence as this everywhere at hand,
the 6,000 hostiles were wholly unhampered by any problem of
food-supply. The savages were rich too according to Indian standards,
many a lodge owning from twenty to a hundred ponies; and
consciousness of wealth and power, aided by former temporizing, had
made them not only confident but defiant. Realizing that their
thorough subjugation would be a difficult task, I made up my mind to
confine operations during the grazing and hunting season to
protecting the people of the new settlements and on the overland
routes, and then, when winter came, to fall upon the savages
relentlessly, for in that season their ponies would be thin, and weak
from lack of food, and in the cold and snow, without strong ponies to
transport their villages and plunder, their movements would be so
much impeded that the troops could overtake them.

At the outbreak of hostilities I had in all, east of New Mexico, a
force of regulars numbering about 2,600 men--1,200 mounted and 1,400
foot troops. The cavalry was composed of the Seventh and Tenth
regiments; the infantry, of the Third and Fifth regiments and four
companies of the Thirty-Eighth. With these few troops all the posts
along the Smoky Hill and Arkansas had to be garrisoned, emigrant
trains escorted, and the settlements and routes of travel and the
construction parties on the Kansas-Pacific railway protected. Then,
too, this same force had to furnish for the field small movable
columns, that were always on the go, so it will be rightly inferred
that every available man was kept busy from the middle of August till
November; especially as during this period the hostiles attacked over
forty widely dispersed places, in nearly all cases stealing horses,
burning houses, and killing settlers. It was of course impossible to
foresee where these descents would be made, but as soon as an attack
was heard of assistance was always promptly rendered, and every now
and then we succeeded in killing a few savages. As a general thing,
though, the raiders escaped before relief arrived, and when they had
a few miles the start, all efforts to catch them were futile. I
therefore discouraged long pursuits, and, in fact, did not approve of
making any at all unless the chances of obtaining paying results were
very evident, otherwise the troops would be worn out by the time the
hard work of the winter was demanded from them.

To get ready for a winter campaign of six months gave us much to do.
The thing most needed was more men, so I asked for additional
cavalry, and all that could be spareds--even troops of the Fifth
Cavalry--was sent tome. Believing this reinforcement insufficient,
to supplement it I applied for a regiment of Kansas volunteers, which
request being granted, the organization of the regiment was
immediately begun at Topeka. It was necessary also to provide a
large amount of transportation and accumulate quantities of stores,
since the campaign probably would not end till spring. Another
important matter was to secure competent guides for the different
columns of troops, for, as I have said, the section of country to be
operated in was comparatively unknown.

In those days the railroad town of Hays City was filled with so
called "Indian scouts," whose common boast was of having slain scores
of redskins, but the real scout--that is, a 'guide and trailer
knowing the habits of the Indians--was very scarce, and it was hard
to find anybody familiar with the country south of the Arkansas,
where the campaign was to be made. Still, about Hays City and the
various military posts there was some good material to select from,
and we managed to employ several men, who, from their experience on
the Plains in various capacities, or from natural instinct and
aptitude, soon became excellent guides and courageous and valuable
scouts, some of them, indeed, gaining much distinction. Mr. William
F. Cody ("Buffalo Bill"), whose renown has since become world-wide,
was one of the men thus selected. He received his sobriquet from his
marked success in killing buffaloes for a contractor, to supply fresh
meat to the construction parties, on the Kansas-Pacific railway. He
had given up this business, however, and was now in the employ of the
quartermaster's department of the army, and was first brought to my
notice by distinguishing himself in bringing me an important despatch
from Fort Larned to Fort Hays, a distance of sixty-five miles,
through a section infested with Indians. The despatch informed me
that the Indians near Larned were preparing to decamp, and this
intelligence required that certain orders should be carried to Fort
Dodge, ninety-five miles south of Hays. This too being a
particularly dangerous route--several couriers having been killed on
it--it was impossible to get one of the various "Petes," "Jacks," or
"Jims" hanging around Hays City to take my communication. Cody
learning of the strait I was in, manfully came to the rescue, and
proposed to make the trip to Dodge, though he had just finished his
long and perilous ride from Larned. I gratefully accepted his offer,
and after four or five hours' rest he mounted a fresh horse and
hastened on his journey, halting but once to rest on the way, and
then only for an hour, the stop being made at Coon Creek, where he
got another mount from a troop of cavalry. At Dodge he took six
hours' sleep, and then continued on to his own post--Fort Larned
--with more despatches. After resting twelve hours at Larned, he was
again in the saddle with tidings for me at Fort Hays, General Hazen
sending him, this time, with word that the villages had fled to the
south of the Arkansas. Thus, in all, Cody rode about 350 miles in less
than sixty hours, and such an exhibition of endurance and courage was
more than enough to convince me that his services would be extremely
valuable in the campaign, so I retained him at Fort Hays till the
battalion of the Fifth Cavalry arrived, and then made him chief of
scouts for that regiment.

The information brought me by Cody on his second trip from Larned
indicated where the villages would be found in the winter, and I
decided to move on them about the 1st of November. Only the women
and children and the decrepit old men were with the villages, however
enough, presumably, to look after the plunder most of the warriors
remaining north of the Arkansas to continue their marauding. Many
severe fights occurred between our troops and these marauders, and in
these affairs, before November 1 over a hundred Indians were killed,
yet from the ease with which the escaping savages would disappear
only to fall upon remote settlements with pillage and murder, the
results were by no means satisfactory. One of the most noteworthy of
these preliminary affairs was the gallant fight made on the
Republican River the 17th of September by my Aide, Colonel George A.
Forsyth, and party, against about seven hundred Cheyennes and Sioux.
Forsyth, with Lieutenant Beecher, and Doctor J. H. Mooers as surgeon,
was in charge of a company of citizen scouts, mostly expert
rifle-shots, but embracing also a few Indian fighters, among these
Grover and Parr. The company was organized the latter part of August
for immediate work in defense of the settlements, and also for future
use in the Indian Territory when the campaign should open there. About
the time the company had reached its complement--it was limited to
forty-seven men and three officers--a small band of hostiles began
depredations near Sheridan City, one of the towns that grew up
over-night on the Kansas-Pacific railway. Forsyth pursued this party,
but failing to overtake it, made his way into Fort Wallace for rations,
intending to return from there to Fort Hays. Before he started back,
however, another band of Indians appeared near the post and stole some
horses from the stage company. This unexpected raid made Forsyth hot
to go for the marauders, and he telegraphed me for permission, which I
as promptly gave him. He left the post on the 10th of September, the
command consisting of himself, Lieutenant Beecher, Acting Assistant
Surgeon Mooers, and the full strength, forty-seven men, with a few pack
mules carrying about ten days' rations.

He headed north toward the Republican River. For the first two days
the trail was indistinct and hard to follow. During the next three
it continued to grow much larger, indicating plainly that the number
of Indians ahead was rapidly increasing. Of course this sign meant a
fight as soon as a large enough force was mustered, but as this was
what Forsyth was after, he pushed ahead with confidence and alacrity.
The night of the 16th of September he encamped on the Arickaree
branch of the Republican, not far from the forks of the river, with
the expectation of resuming the march as usual next day, for the
indications were that the main body of the savages must be still a
long way off, though in the preceding twenty-four hours an occasional
Indian had been seen.

But the enemy was much nearer than was thought, for at daybreak on
the morning of the 17th he made known his immediate presence by a
sudden dash at Forsyth's horses, a few of which were stampeded and
captured before the scouts could reach them. This dash was made by a
small party only to get the horses, so those engaged in it were soon
driven off, but a few minutes later hundreds of savages--it was
afterward learned that seven hundred warriors took part in the fight
--hitherto invisible, showed themselves on the hills overlooking the
camp and so menacingly as to convince Forsyth that his defense must
be one of desperation. The only place at hand that gave any hope of
successful resistance was a small island in the Arickaree, the
channel on one side being about a foot deep while on the other it was
completely dry; so to this position a hurried retreat was made. All
the men and the remaining animals reached the island in safety, but
on account of the heavy fire poured in from the neighboring hills the
packs containing the rations and medicines had to be abandoned.

On seeing Forsyth's hasty move, the Indians, thinking they had him,
prepared to overwhelm the scouts by swooping down on one side of the
island with about five hundred mounted warriors, while about two
hundred, covered by the tall grass in the river-bottom attacked the
other side, dismounted. But the brave little band sadly disappointed
them. When the charge came it was met with such a deadly fire that a
large number of the fiends were killed, some of them even after
gaining the bank of the island. This check had the effect of making
the savages more wary, but they were still bold enough to make two
more assaults before mid-day. Each of these ending like the first,
the Indians thereafter contented themselves with shooting all the
horses, which had been tied up to some scraggy little
cottonwood-trees, and then proceeded to lay siege to the party.

The first man struck was Forsyth himself. He was hit three times in
all--twice in one leg, both serious wounds, and once on the head, a
slight abrasion of the scalp. A moment later Beecher was killed and
Doctor Mooers mortally wounded: and in addition to these misfortunes
the scouts kept getting hit, till several were killed, and the whole
number of casualties had reached twenty-one in a company of
forty-seven. Yet with all this, and despite the seeming hopelessness
of the situation, the survivors kept up their pluck undiminished, and
during a lull succeeding the third repulse dug into the loose soil till
the entire party was pretty well protected by rifle-pits. Thus covered
they stood off the Indians for the next three days, although of course
their condition became deplorable from lack of food, while those who
were hurt suffered indescribable agony, since no means were at hand for
dressing their wounds.

By the third day the Indians, seeming to despair of destroying the
beleaguered party before succor might arrive, began to draw off, and
on the fourth wholly disappeared. The men were by this time nearly
famished for food. Even now there was nothing to be had except
horse-meat from the carcasses of the animals killed the first day,
and this, though decidedly unpalatable, not to say disgusting, had to
be put up with, and so on such unwholesome stuff they managed to live
for four days longer, at the end of which time they were rescued by a
column of troops under Colonel Bankhead, which had hastened from Fort
Wallace in response to calls for help, carried there by two brave
fellows--Stilwell and Truedell--who, volunteering to go for relief,
had slipped through the Indians, and struck out for that post in the
night after the first day's fight.



The end of October saw completed the most of my arrangements for the
winter campaign, though the difficulties and hardships to be
encountered had led several experienced officers of the army, and
some frontiersmen like Mr. James Bridger, the famous scout and, guide
of earlier days, to discourage the project. Bridger even went so far
as to come out from St. Louis to dissuade me, but I reasoned that as
the soldier was much better fed and clothed than the Indian, I had
one great advantage, and that, in short, a successful campaign could
be made if the operations of the different columns were energetically
conducted. To see to this I decided to go in person with the main
column, which was to push down into the western part of the Indian
Territory, having for its initial objective the villages which, at
the beginning of hostilities, had fled toward the head-waters of the
Red River, and those also that had gone to the same remote region
after decamping from the neighborhood of Larned at the time that
General Hazen sent Buffalo Bill to me with the news.

The column which was expected to do the main work was to be composed
of the Nineteenth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, commanded by Colonel
Crawford; eleven troops of the Seventh United States Cavalry, under
General Custer, and a battalion of five companies of infantry under
Brevet Major John H. Page. To facilitate matters, General Sully, the
district commander, was ordered to rendezvous these troops and
establish a supply depot about a hundred miles south of Fort Dodge,
as from such a point operations could be more readily conducted. He
selected for the depot a most suitable place at the confluence of
Beaver and Wolf creeks, and on his arrival there with Custer's and
Page's commands, named the place Camp Supply.

In conjunction with the main column, two others also were to
penetrate the Indian Territory. One of these, which was to march
east from New Mexico by way of Fort Bascom was to be composed of six
troops of the Third Cavalry and two companies of infantry, the whole
under Colonel A. W. Evans. The other, consisting of seven troops of
the Fifth Cavalry, and commanded by Brevet Brigadier-General Eugene
A. Carr, was to march southeast from Fort Lyon; the intention being
that Evans and Carr should destroy or drive in toward old Fort Cobb
any straggling bands that might be prowling through the country west
of my own line of march; Carr, as he advanced, to be joined by Brevet
Brigadier-General W. H. Penrose, with five troops of cavalry already
in the field southeast of Lyon. The Fort Bascom column, after
establishing a depot of supplies at Monument Creek, was to work down
the main Canadian, and remain out as long as it could feed itself
from New Mexico; Carr, having united with Penrose on the North
Canadian, was to operate toward the Antelope Hills and headwaters of
the Red River; while I, with the main column was to move southward to
strike the Indians along the Washita, or still farther south on
branches of the Red River.

It was no small nor easy task to outfit all these troops by the time
cold weather set in, and provide for them during the winter, but by
the 1st of November I had enough supplies accumulated at Forts Dodge
and Lyon for my own and Carr's columns, and in addition directed
subsistence and forage for three months to be sent to Fort Gibson for
final delivery at Fort Arbuckle, as I expected to feed the command
from this place when we arrived in the neighborhood of old Fort Cobb,
but through some mismanagement few of these stores got further than
Gibson before winter came on.

November 1, all being ready, Colonel Grawford was furnished with
competent guides, and, after sending two troops to Fort Dodge to act
as my escort, with the rest of his regiment he started from Topeka
November 5, under orders to march straight for the rendezvous at the
junction of Beaver and Wolf creeks. He was expected to reach his
destination about the 20th, and there unite with the Seventh Cavalry
and the battalion of infantry, which in the mean time were on the
march from Dodge. A few days later Carr and Evans began their march
also, and everything being now in motion, I decided to go to Camp
Supply to give the campaign my personal attention, determined to
prove that operations could be successfully conducted in spite of
winter, and bent on showing the Indians that they were not secure
from punishment because of inclement weather--an ally on which they
had hitherto relied with much assurance.

We started from Fort Hays on the 15th of November, and the first
night out a blizzard struck us and carried away our tents; and as the
gale was so violent that they could not be put up again, the rain and
snow drenched us to the skin. Shivering from wet and cold, I took
refuge under a wagon, and there spent such a miserable night that,
when at last morning came, the gloomy predictions of old man Bridger
and others rose up before me with greatly increased force. As we
took the road the sleet and snow were still falling, but we labored
on to Dodge that day in spite of the fact that many of the mules
played out on the way. We stayed only one night at Dodge, and then
on the 17th, escorted by a troop of cavalry and Forsyth's scouts, now
under the command of Lieutenant Lewis Pepoon, crossed the Arkansas
and camped the night of the 18th at Bluff Creek, where the two troops
of the Nineteenth Kansas, previously detailed as my escort, were
awaiting our coming. As we were approaching this camp some
suspicious looking objects were seen moving off at a long distance to
the east of us, but as the scouts confidently pronounced them
buffalo, we were unaware of their true character till next morning,
when we became satisfied that what we had seen were Indians, for
immediately after crossing Beaver Creek we struck a trail, leading to
the northeast, of a war party that evidently came up from the
head-waters of the Washita River.

The evening of November 21st arrived at the Camp Supply depot, having
traveled all day in another snowstorm that did not end till
twenty-four hours later. General Sully, with Custer's regiment and the
infantry battalion, had reached the place several days before, but the
Kansas regiment had not yet put in an appearance. All hands were hard
at work trying to shelter the stores and troops, but from the trail
seen that morning, believing that an opportunity offered to strike an
effective blow, I directed Custer to call in his working parties and
prepare to move immediately, without waiting for Crawford's regiment,
unaccountably absent. Custer was ready to start by the 23d, and he was
then instructed to march north to where the trail had been seen near
Beaver Creek and follow it on the back track, for, being convinced that
the war party had come from the Washita, I felt certain that this plan
would lead directly to the villages.

The difficulties attending a winter campaign were exhibited now with
their full force, as the march had to be conducted through a
snow-storm that hid surrounding objects, and so covered the country as
to alter the appearance of the prominent features, making the task of
the guides doubly troublesome; but in spite of these obstacles fifteen
miles had been traversed when Custer encamped for the night. The next
day the storm had ceased, and the weather was clear and cold. The
heavy fall of snow had of course obliterated the trail in the bottoms,
and everywhere on the level; but, thanks to the wind, that had swept
comparatively bare the rough places and high ground, the general
direction could be traced without much trouble. The day's march, which
was through a country abounding with buffalo, was unattended by any
special incident at first, but during the afternoon, after getting the
column across the Canadian River--an operation which, on account of the
wagons, consumed considerable time--Custer's scouts (friendly Osages)
brought back word that, some miles ahead, they had struck fresh signs,
a trail coming into the old one from the north, which, in their
opinion, indicated that the war party was returning to the villages.

On the receipt of this news, Custer, leaving a guard with the wagons,
hastily assembled the rest of his men' and pushing on rapidly,
overtook the scouts and a detailed party from his regiment which had
accompanied them, all halted on the new trail awaiting his arrival.
A personal examination satisfied Custer that the surmises of his
scouts were correct; and also that the fresh trail in the deep snow
could at night be followed with ease. After a short halt for supper
and rest the pursuit was resumed, the Osage scouts in advance, and
although the hostile Indians were presumed to be yet some distance
off, every precaution was taken to prevent detection and to enable
our troops to strike them unawares. The fresh trail, which it was
afterward ascertained had been made by raiders from Black Kettle's
village of Cheyennes, and by some Arapahoes, led into the valley of
the Washita, and growing fresher as the night wore on, finally
brought the Osages upon a campfire, still smoldering, which, it was
concluded, had been built by the Indian boys acting as herders of the
ponies during the previous day. It was evident, then, that the
village could be but a few miles off; hence the pursuit was continued
with redoubled caution until, a few hours before dawn of the 27th, as
the leading scouts peered over a rise on the line of march, they
discovered a large body of animals in the valley below.

As soon as they reported this discovery, Custer determined to
acquaint himself with the situation by making a reconnoissance in
person, accompanied by his principal officers. So, sending back word
to halt the cavalry, he directed the officers to ride forward with
him; then dismounting, the entire party crept cautiously to a high
point which overlooked the valley, and from where, by the bright moon
then shining, they saw just how the village was situated. Its
position was such as to admit of easy approach from all sides. So,
to preclude an escape of the Indians, Custer decided to attack at
daybreak, and from four different directions.

The plan having been fully explained to the officers, the remaining
hours of the night were employed in making the necessary
dispositions. Two of the detachments left promptly, since they had
to make a circuitous march of several miles to Teach the points
designated for their attack; the third started a little later; and
then the fourth and last, under Custer himself, also moved into
position. As the first light grew visible in the east, each column
moved closer in to the village, and then, all dispositions having
been made according to the prearranged plan, from their appointed
places the entire force to the opening notes of "Garry Owen," played
by the regimental band as the signal for the attack--dashed at a
gallop into the village. The sleeping and unsuspecting savages were
completely surprised by the onset; yet after the first confusion,
during which the impulse to escape principally actuated them, they
seized their weapons, and from behind logs and trees, or plunging
into the stream and using its steep bank as a breastwork, they poured
upon their assailants a heavy fire, and kept on fighting with every
exhibition of desperation. In such a combat mounted men were
useless, so Custer directed his troopers to fight on, foot, and the
Indians were successively driven from one point of vantage to
another, until, finally, by 9 o'clock the entire camp was in his
possession and the victory complete. Black Kettle and over one
hundred of his warriors were killed, and about fifty women and
children captured; but most of the noncombatants, as well as a few
warriors and boys, escaped in the confusion of the fight. Making
their way down the river, these fugitives alarmed the rest of the
Cheyennes and Arapahoes, and also the Kiowas and Comanches, whose
villages were in close proximity--the nearest not more than two miles

Then of course all the warriors of these tribes rallied to attack
Custer, who meantime was engaged burning Black Kettle's camp and
collecting his herds of ponies. But these new foes were rather wary
and circumspect, though they already had partial revenge in an
unlooked for way by cutting off Major Elliott and fifteen men, who
had gone off in pursuit of a batch of young warriors when the fight
was going on at the village. In fact, the Indians had killed
Elliott's whole party, though neither the fate of the poor fellows,
nor how they happened to be caught, was known till long afterward.
It was then ascertained that the detachment pursued a course due
south, nearly at right angles to the Washita River, and after
galloping a couple of miles over the hills, crossing a small branch
of the Washita on the way, they captured some of the fugitives. In
bringing the prisoners back, Elliott was in turn attacked on the open
prairie by a large number of savages from farther down the Washita,
who by this time were swarming to the aid of Black Kettle's village.
The little band fought its way gallantly to within rifle-range of the
small creek referred to, but could get no farther, for the Indians
had taken up a position in the bed of the stream, and from under
cover of its banks Elliott and all his remaining men were quickly
killed. No relief was sent them, for Custer, not having seen Elliott
set out, knew nothing of the direction taken, and, besides, was busy
burning the villages and securing the ponies, and deeply concerned,
too, with defending himself from the new dangers menacing him.
Elliott and his brave little party were thus left to meet their fate

While Custer was burning the lodges and plunder and securing the
ponies, the Indians from the villages down the Washita were gathering
constantly around him till by mid-day they had collected in
thousands, and then came a new problem as to what should be done. If
he attacked the other villages, there was great danger of his being
overwhelmed, and should he start back to Camp Supply by daylight, he
would run the risk of losing his prisoners and the ponies, so,
thinking the matter over, he decided to shoot all the ponies, and
keep skirmishing with the savages till nightfall, and then, under
cover of the darkness, return to Camp Supply; a programme that was
carried out successfully, but Custer's course received some severe
criticism because no effort was made to discover what had become of

Custer had, in all, two officers and nineteen men killed, and two
officers and eleven men wounded. The blow struck was a most
effective one, and, fortunately, fell on one of the most villainous of
the hostile bands that, without any provocation whatever, had
perpetrated the massacres on the Saline and Solomon, committing
atrocities too repulsive for recital, and whose hands were still red
from their bloody work on the recent raid. Black Kettle, the chief,
was an old man, and did not himself go with the raiders to the Saline
and Solomon, and on this account his fate was regretted by some. But
it was old age only that kept him back, for before the demons set out
from Walnut Creek he had freely encouraged them by "making medicine,"
and by other devilish incantations that are gone through with at war
and scalp dances.

When the horrible work was over he undertook to shield himself by
professions of friendship, but being put to the test by my offering
to feed and care for all of his band who would come in to Fort Dodge

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