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The American Indian as Participant in the Civil War by Annie Heloise Abel

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superintendent had been appointed in Richmond, and the General Com'dg
has been anxiously expecting his arrival for several weeks. He
earnestly hopes that the superintendent may soon reach the field of
his labors, provided with instructions, funds and everything necessary
to the discharge of his important duties.

"Major Dorn, the Agent for the Osages, was here, a few days ago, but
he is now in Little Rock. The General has written to him, requiring
him to come up immediately, visit the tribe for which he is the Agent
and relieve their necessities as far as the means in his hands will

"The General has been offically informed that Major D. has in his
possession, for the use of the Osages twenty odd thousand dollars.

"I have to apologize, on the part of Gen'l Steele, for the various
letters which have been received from you, and which still remain
unanswered, but his excuse must be that, in the absence of proper
instructions etc. he was really unable to answer your questions or
comply with your requests, and he cannot make promises that there is
not, at least, a _very strong probability_ of his being able
to fulfil. Too much harm has already been occasioned in the Indian
Country by reckless promises, and he considers it better, in every
point of view, to deal openly and frankly with the Indians than to
hold out expectations that are certain not to be realized.

"It is not possible, however, to say in a letter what could be so much
better said in a personal interview, and the Gen'l therefore, desires
me to say that as soon as your duties will admit of your absence, he
will be happy to see and converse with you fully and freely at his
Head Quarters" [Ibid., no. 268, pp. 27-29].

On this same subject, see also Steele to Wigfall, April 15, 1863,
_Official Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 819-821.]

[Footnote 745: _Confederate Records_, chap. 2, no. 270, p. 220.]

[Footnote 746: Steele to Anderson, May 9, 1863, Ibid.,

[Footnote 747: Same to same, March 1, and 3, 1863, Ibid.,
112-113, 113-114.]

out of odd battalions and independent companies.[748] Cooper, in fact,
seemed bent upon tantalizing Steele and many of the Indians were
behind him.[749] Colonel Tandy Walker was especially his supporter.
Cooper had been Walker's choice for department commander[750] and
continued so, in spite of all Steele's honest attempts to propitiate
him and in spite of his promise to use every exertion to satisfy
Choctaw needs generally.[751] To Tandy Walker Steele entrusted the
business of recruiting anew among the Choctaws.[752]

[Footnote 748: Steele to Anderson, February 13, 1863, _Confederate
Records_, chap 2, no. 270, p. 89.]

[Footnote 749: It was not true, apparently, that the Chickasaws were
dissatisfied with Cooper. See the evidence furnished by themselves,
_Official Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 1116-1117.]

[Footnote 750: _Confederate Military History_, vol. x, 134,

[Footnote 751: Steele to Tandy Walker, February 25, 1863,
_Confederate Records_, chap. 2; no. 270, p. 109.]

[Footnote 752: Crosby to Walker, March 11, 1863, Ibid., p.
136. Steele thought that the Indians might as well be employed in a
military way since they were more than likely to be a public charge.
To Colonel Anderson he wrote, March 22, 1863 [Ibid., p. 155],
"I forward the above copy of a letter from Gen'l Cooper for Gen'l
Holmes' information. I purpose if not otherwise directed to call out
all the available force of the Nations within the conscript age....
They have to be fed and might as well be organized and put into a
position to be useful." From the correspondence of Steele, it would
seem that there was some trouble over Walker's promotion. April 10,
Steele wrote again to Anderson on the subject of Indian enrollment in
the ranks and referred to the other matter.

"The enclosed copy of some articles in the Treaty between the C.S.
Govt and the Choctaws with remarks by Gen'l Cooper are submitted for
the consideration of the Lt. Gen'l.

"It appears that Col. Walker was recommended to fill the vacancy made
by the promotion of Col. Cooper, the right being given by the treaty
to appoint to the office of Col., the other offices being filled by
election, and that at the time, the enemy were at Van Buren. Col.
Walker being at the convenient point was put upon duty by Col. Cooper
and has since been recognized by several acts of my own, not however
with a full knowledge of the circumstances. That under instructions
from Gen'l Hindman a Regt was being organized which it was expected
would be commanded by Col. Folsom, the whole of which appears to be a
very good arrangement. The necessity that exists of feeding nearly all
the Indians would seem to present an (cont.)]

Furloughs and desertions were the bane of Steele's existence.[753] In
these respects Alexander's brigade,

[Footnote 752: (cont.) additional reason for having them in service.
Companies are also being organized from the Reserve Indians, with the
view to replace white troops with them who are now engaged protecting
the frontier from the incursions of the wild tribes. Moreover the
enemy's forces being composed partially of Indians, the troops would
be effective against them, when they might not be against other
troops..." [Ibid., pp. 186-187]. Appointments, as well as
promotions, within the Indian service caused Steele much perplexity.
See Steele to Anderson, April 13, 1863, Ibid., pp. 190-191.]

[Footnote 753: Steele thought it desirable to arrest all men, at
large, who were subject to military duty under the conscript act,
unless they could produce evidence "of a right to remain off duty"
[Crosby to Colonel Newton, January 12, 1863, Ibid., p. 32].
Presumably whole companies were deserting their posts [Crosby to
Cooper, February 1, 1863, Ibid., pp. 66-67]. It was suggested
that some deserters should be permitted to organize against jayhawkers
as, under sanction from Holmes, had been the case with deserters
in the Magazine Mountains [Steele to Anderson, February 1, 1863,
Ibid., p. 67]. When word came that the Federals were about to
organize militia in northwestern Arkansas, Steele ordered that
all persons, subject to military duty, who should fail to enroll
themselves before February 6, should be treated as bushwhackers [same
to same, February 3, 1863, Ibid., pp. 69-70]. Colonel Charles
DeMorse, whose Texas regiment had been ordered, February 15, to report
to Cooper [Crosby to DeMorse, February 15, 1863, Ibid.,], asked
to be allowed to make an expedition against the wild tribes. Some two
hundred fifty citizens would be more than glad to accompany it. Steele
was indignant and Duval, at his direction, wrote thus to Cooper, April
19: "... Now if these men were so anxious to march three or four
hundred miles to _find_ the enemy, they could certainly be
induced to take up arms _temporarily_ in defence of their
immediate homes" [Ibid., p. 203]. It was not that Steele
objected to expeditions against the wild tribes but he was disgusted
with the lack of patriotism and military enthusiasm among the Texans
and Arkansans. Colonel W.P. Lane's regiment of Texas Partizan Rangers
was another that had to be chided for its dilatoriness [Ibid.,
pp. 168-169, 199, 234]. Deficient means of transportation was
oftentimes the excuse given for failure to appear but Steele's
complaint to Anderson, April 10 [Ibid., 185-186], was very much
more to the point. He wrote,

"... I find that men are kept back upon every pretext; that QrMasters
and Govt Agents or persons calling themselves such have detailed them
to drive teams hauling cotton to Mexico, and employed them about the
Gov't agencies. This cotton speculating mania is thus doing us great
injury besides taking away all the transportation in the country...."
Public feeling in Texas was on the side of deserters to a very great
extent and in one instance, at least, Steele was forced to defer to
it, "You will desist from the attempt to take the deserters from
Hart's Company or any other in northern Texas if the state of public
feeling is such that it cannot be done without (cont.)]

within which Colonel Phillips had detected traitors to the Confederate
cause,[754] was, perhaps, the most incorrigible.[755] From department
headquarters came impassioned appeals[756] for activity and for
loyalty but

[Footnote 753: (cont.) danger of producing a collision with the
people. The men are no doubt deserters, but we have no men to spare,
to enforce the arrest at the present time" [Steele to Captain
Randolph, July i, 1863, Ibid., p. 116. See also Steele to
Borland, July 1, 1863, Ibid., no. 268, p. 117]. When West's
Battery was ordered to report at Fort Smith it was discovered going
in the opposite direction [Steele to J.E. Harrison, April 25, 1863,
Ibid., no. 270, p. 213; Duval to Harrison, May 1, 1863,
Ibid., p. 221; Steele to Anderson, May 9, 1863, Ibid.,
p. 233; Steele to Cooper, May 11 1863, Ibid., pp. 237-238].

One expedition to the plains that Steele distinctly encouraged was
that organized by Captain Wells [Steele to Cooper, March 16, 1863,
Ibid., pp. 145-146]. It was designed that Wells's command
should operate on the western frontier of Kansas and intercept
trains on the Santa Fe trail [Steele to Anderson, April 17, 1863,
Ibid., p. 197].]

[Footnote 754: _Official Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, p. 62.]

[Footnote 755: For correspondence with Alexander objecting to further
furloughing and urging the need of promptness, see _Confederate
Records_, chap. 2, no. 270, pp. 121-122, 163-164, 170, 178-179,

[Footnote 756: The following are illustrations:

"... Every exertion is being made and the Gen'l feels confident that
the means will be attained of embarking in an early spring campaign.
It only remains for the officers and men to come forward to duty in
a spirit of willingness and cheerfulness to render the result of
operations in the Dept (or beyond it as the case may be) not only
successful but to add fresh renown to the soldiers whom he has the
honor to command ..."--CROSBY to Talliaferro, February 24, 1863,
_Confederate Records_, chap. 2, no. 270, pp. 105-106.

"The Commanding Gen'l would be gratified to grant the within petition
were it compatible with the interests of the service and the cause
which petitioners 'Hold dearer than life.' He is fully aware of the
many urgent reasons which a number of officers and men have for
visiting their homes, providing for their families, etc., etc.

"The Enemy conscious of his superior strength is constantly
threatening the small force that now holds him in check on the line
of the Arkansas river. Speight's Brigade was sent to their present
position--not because they were not needed here--but for the reason
that it was an utter impossibility to subsist it in this region.

"Every consideration of patriotism and duty imperiously demands the
presence of every officer and soldier belonging to this command. The
season of active operations is at hand. The enemy in our front is
actively employed in accumulating supplies and transportation and in
massing, drilling, and disciplining his troops. His advance cannot be
expected to be long (cont.)]

without telling or lasting effect. The Confederate service in Indian
Territory was honeycombed with fraud and corruption.[757] Wastrels,
desperadoes, scamps of every sort luxuriated at Indian expense. It was
no wonder that false muster rolls had to be guarded against.[758]
The Texans showed throughout so great an aversion to the giving of
themselves or of their worldly goods[759] to the salvation of the
country that

[Footnote 756: (cont.) delayed. This enemy is made up of Kansas
Jayhawkers, 'Pin Indians,' and Traitors from Missouri, Arkansas and
Texas. The ruin, devastation, oppression, and tyranny that has marked
his progress has no parallel in history. The last official Report from
your Brigade shews a sad state of weakness. Were the enemy informed on
this point _our line of defence would soon be transferred from the
Arkansas to Red river_. In the name of God, our country and all
that is near and dear to us, let us discard from our minds every other
consideration than that of a firm, fixed, and manly determination to
do our duty and our whole duty to our country in her hour of peril and
need. The season is propitious for an advance. Let not supineness,
indifference and a lack of enthusiasm in a just and holy cause, compel
a retreat Texas is the great Commissary Depot west of the Mississippi.
The enemy must be kept as far from her rich fields and countless
herds, as possible. Let us cheerfully, harmoniously, and in a
spirit of manly sacrifice bend every energy mental and physical to
preparations for a forward movement. The foregoing reasons for a
refusal to grant leave of absence will serve as an answer in all
similar cases and will be disseminated among the officers and men of
the Brigade by the Commanders thereof."--CROSBY, by command of Steele,
March 20, 1863, _Confederate Records_, chap. 2, no. 270, pp.

[Footnote 757: J.A. Scales to Adair, April 12, 1863, _Official
Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 821-822.]

[Footnote 758: _Confederate Records_, chap. 2, no. 270, p. 224.]

[Footnote 759: Holmes, as early as March, warned Steele that he would
have to get his supplies soon from Texas. It would not be possible to
draw them much longer from the Arkansas River. He was told to prepare
to get them in Texas "at all hazard," which instruction was construed
by Steele to mean, "take it, if you cant buy it" [Ibid.,
145-146]. It was probably the prospect of having to use force or
compulsion that made Steele so interested, late in May, in finding
out definitely whether Hindman's acts in Arkansas had really been
legalized [Steele to Blair, May 22, 1863, Ibid., 34].
Appreciating that it was matter of vital concern that the grain crop
in northern Texas should be harvested, Steele was at a loss to know
how to deal with petitions that solicited furloughs for the purpose
[Steele to Anderson, May 4, 1863, Ibid., 227; Duval to Cabell,
May 7, 1863, Ibid., 230-231]. Perhaps, it was a concession
to some such need that induced him, in June, to permit seven day
furloughs [Duval to Cooper, June 27, 1863, Ibid., no. 268, p.

Steele in despair cried out, "... it does appear as if the Texas
troops on this frontier were determined to tarnish the proud fame that
Texans have won in other fields."[760] The Arkansans were no better
and no worse. The most fitting employment for many, the whole length
and breadth of Steele's department, was the mere "ferreting out of
jayhawkers and deserters."[761]

The Trans-Mississippi departmental change, effected in January, was of
short duration, so short that it could never surely have been intended
to be anything but transitional. In February the parts were re-united
and Kirby Smith put in command of the whole,[762] President Davis
explaining, not very candidly, that no dissatisfaction with Holmes was
thereby implied.[763] Smith was the ranking officer and entitled to
the first consideration. Moreover, Holmes had once implored that a
substitute for himself be sent out. As a matter of fact, Holmes had
become too much entangled with Hindman, too much identified with all
that Arkansans objected to in Hindman,[764] his intolerance, his
arrogance, his illegalities, for him to be retained longer, with
complacency, in chief command. Hindman and he were largely to blame
for the necessity[765] of suspending the privilege of the writ of
_habeas corpus_ in Arkansas and the adjacent Indian country,
which had just been done. Strong

[Footnote 760: Steele to Alexander, April 23, 1863, _Confederate
Records_, no. 270, pp. 210-211.]

[Footnote 761: Duval to Colonel John King, June 30, 1863,
Ibid., no. 268, p. 110.]

[Footnote 762: Livermore, _Story of the Civil War_, part iii,
book i, p. 255.]

[Footnote 763: Davis to Holmes, February 26, 1863, _Official
Records_, vol. liii, supplement, 849-850.]

[Footnote 764: Davis to Holmes, January 28, 1863, Ibid.,

[Footnote 765: The necessity was exceedingly great. Take, for
instance, the situation at Fort Smith, where the citizens themselves
asked for the establishment of martial law in order that lives and
property might be reasonably secure [Crosby to Mayor Joseph Bennett,
January 10, 1863, _Confederate Records_, chap. 2, no. 270, pp.

political pressure was exerted in Richmond[766] and the Arkansas
delegation in Congress demanded Hindman's recall,[767] Holmes's
displacement, and Kirby Smith's appointment. The loss of that historic
fort, Arkansas Post,[768] also a tardy appreciation of the economic
value of the Arkansas Valley and, incidentally, of the entire
Trans-Mississippi Department,[769] had really determined matters; but,
fortunately, the supersedure of Holmes by Smith did not affect the
position of Steele.

Steele divined that the Federals would naturally make an early attempt
to occupy in force the country north of the Arkansas River and beyond
it to the southward in what had hitherto been a strictly Confederate
stronghold. It was his intention to forestall them. The two Cherokee
regiments constituted, for some little time, his best available troops
and them he kept in almost constant motion.[770] His great reliance,
and well it might be, was upon Stand Watie, whom he had

[Footnote 766: Davis to Garland, March 28, 1863, _Official
Records_, vol. liii, supplement, 861-863; Davis to the Arkansas
delegation, March 30, 1863, Ibid., 863-865.]

[Footnote 767: Hindman was not immediately recalled; but he soon
manifested an unwillingness to continue under Holmes [Ibid.,
848]. He had very pronounced opinions about some of his associates.
Price he thought of as a breeder of factions and Holmes as an honest
man but unsystematic. In the summer, he actually asked for an
assignment to Indian Territory [Ibid., vol. xxii, part ii,

[Footnote 768: Livermore, _Story of the Civil War_, part iii,
book i, 85. Davis would fain have believed that so great a disaster
had not befallen the Confederate arms [Letter to Holmes, January 28,
1863, _Official Records_, vol. liii, supplement, 847].]

[Footnote 769: Perhaps, it is scarcely fair to intimate that the
Trans-Mississippi Department was regarded as unimportant at this
stage. It was only relatively so. In proof of that, see Davis to
Governor Flanagin, April 3, 1863, Ibid., 865-866; Davis to
Johnson, July 14, 1863, Ibid., 879-880. When Kirby Smith
tarried late in the assumption of his enlarged duties, Secretary
Seddon pointed out the increasingly great significance of them [Letter
to Smith, March 18, 1863, Ibid., vol. xxii, part ii, pp.

[Footnote 770: Steele to Cabell, April 18, 1863, _Confederate
Records_, no. 270, p. 199.]

brought up betimes within convenient distance of Fort Smith[771] and
with whom, in April, Phillips's men had two successful encounters, on
the fourteenth[772] and the twenty-fifth. The one of the twenty-fifth
was at Webber's Falls and especially noteworthy, since, as a Federal
victory, it prevented a convening of the secessionist Cherokee
Council,[773] for which, so important did he deem it, Steele had
planned an extra protection.[774] The completeness of the Federal
victory was marred by the loss of Dr. Gillpatrick,[775] who had so
excellently served the ends of diplomacy between the Indian Expedition
and John Ross.

Through May and June, engagements, petty in themselves but
contributing each its mite to ultimate success or failure, occupied
detachments of the opposing Indian forces with considerable
frequency.[776] Two, devised by Cooper, those of the fourteenth[777]
and twentieth[778] of May may be said to characterize the entire

[Footnote 771: "You will order Colonel Stand Watie to move his
command down the Ark. River to some point in the vicinity of Fort
Smith."--CROSBY to Cooper, February 14, 1863, Ibid., p. 90.]

[Footnote 772: Britton, _Civil War on the Border_, vol. ii, 37.]

[Footnote 773: Phillips to Curtis, April 26, 1863, _Official
Records_, vol. xxii, part i, 314-315; Britton, _Civil War on the
Border_, vol. ii, 40-41. Mrs. Anderson, in her _Life of General
Stand Watie_, denies categorically that the meeting of the council
was interrupted on this occasion [p. 22] and cites the recollections
of "living veterans" in proof.]

[Footnote 774: "I am directed by the General Com'dg to say that he
deems it advisable that you should move your Hd. Qrs. higher up the
river, say in the vicinity of Webber's Falls or Pheasant Bluff. He is
desirous that you should be somewhere near the Council when that
body meets, so that any attempt of the enemy to interfere with their
deliberations may be thwarted by you."--DUVAL to Cooper, April 22,
1863, _Confederate Records_, chap. 2, no. 270, p. 209.]

[Footnote 775: Britton, _Civil War on the Border_, vol. ii, 42.]

[Footnote 776:--Ibid., vol. ii, chapters vi and vii.]

[Footnote 777: _Official Records_, vol. liii, supplement, 469.]

[Footnote 778:--Ibid., vol. xxii, part i, 337-338;
_Confederate Records_, chap. 2, no. 268, p. 34.]

series and were nothing but fruitless demonstrations to seize the
Federal grazing herds. A brilliant cavalry raid, undertaken by Stand
Watie and for the same purpose, a little later, was slightly more
successful;[779] but even its fair showing was reversed in the
subsequent skirmish at Greenleaf Prairie, June 16.[780] To the
northward, something more serious was happening, since actions, having
their impetus in Arkansas,[781] were endangering Phillips's line of
communication with Fort Scott, his base and his depot of supplies. In
reality, Phillips was hard pressed and no one knew better than he how
precarious his situation was. Among his minor troubles was the refusal
of his Creeks to charge in the engagement of May 20.

The refusal of the Creeks to charge was not, however, indicative of
any widespread disaffection.[782] So

[Footnote 779: Anderson, 20-21. Interestingly enough, about this time
Cooper reported that he could get plenty of beef where he was and at a
comparatively low price, _Confederate Records_, chap. 2, no. 268,
pp. 60-61.]

[Footnote 780: _Official Records_, vol. xxii, part i, 348-352.]

[Footnote 781: Not all got their impetus there. The following letter
although not sent, contains internal evidence that Cooper was
concocting some of them:

"I learn unofficially that Gen'l Cooper, having received notice of the
approach of a train of supplies for Gibson, was about crossing the
Arkansas with the largest part of his force, to intercept it. It is
reported that the train would have been in 15 miles of Gibson last
night. If Gen'l Cooper succeeds Phillips will leave soon, if not he
will probably remain some time longer. Be prepared to move in case he
leaves."--STEELE to Cabell, June 24, 1863, _Confederate Records_,
chap. 2, no. 268, p. 96.]

[Footnote 782: The following letter shows the nature of the Creek

DEAR GREAT FATHER: Sir, The wicked rebellion in the United States has
caused a division in the Nation. Some of our many loving leaders have
joined the rebels merely for speculation and consequently divided our
people and that brought ruin in our Nation. They had help near and
ours was far so that our ruin was sure. We saw this plain beforehand.
Therefore we concluded to go to you our great father, remembering the
treaty that you have made with us long ago in which you promised us
protection. This was the cause that made us to go and meet you in your
white house about eighteen months ago and there laid our complaint
before you, as a weaker brother wronged of his rights by a stronger
brother and you promised us your protection; but before we got back to
our people they were (cont.)]

honorably had Phillips been conducting himself with reference to
Indian affairs, so promptly and generously had he discharged his
obligations to the refugees who had been harbored at Neosho--they had
all returned now from exile[783]--so successfully had he everywhere
encountered the foe that the Indians, far and wide, were beginning to
look to him for succor,[784] many of them to

[Footnote 782: (cont.) made to leave their humble and peaceful home
and also all their property and traveled towards north in the woods
without roads not only that but they were followed, so that they had
to fight three battles so as to keep their families from being taken
away from them. In the last fight they were overpowered by a superior
force so they had to get away the best way they can and most every
thing they had was taken away from them ... Now this was the way we
left our country and this was the condition of our people when we
entered within the bounds of the State of Kansas ...

Now Great Father you have promised to help us in clearing out our
country so that we could bring back our families to their homes and
moreover we have enlisted as home guards to defend our country and it
will be twelve months in a few weeks ... but there is nothing done as
yet in our country. We have spent our time in the states of Mo. and
Arks. and in the Cherokee Nation. We are here in Ft. Gibson over a
month. Our enemies are just across the river and our pickets and
theirs are fighting most every day ...

There is only three regts. of Indians and a few whites are here. Our
enemy are gathering fast from all sides ...

A soldier's rights we know but little but it seems to us that our
rations are getting shorter all the time but that may be on account
of the teams for it have to be hauled a great ways.--CREEKS to the
President of the United States, May 16, 1863, Office of Indian
Affairs, General Files, _Creek_, 1860-1869, O 6 of 1863.]

[Footnote 783: Britton's account of the return of the Cherokee exiles
is recommended for perusal. It could scarcely be excelled. See,
_Civil War on the Border_, vol. ii, 34-37.]

[Footnote 784: Certain proceedings of Carruth and Martin would seem to
suggest that they were endeavoring to reap the reward of Phillips's
labors, by negotiating, somewhat prematurely, for an inter-tribal
council. Coffin may have endorsed it, but Dole had not [Dole to
Coffin, July 8, 1863, Indian Office _Letter Book_, no. 71, p.
116]. The pretext for calling such a council lay in fairly recent
doings of the wild tribes. The subjoined letters and extracts of
letters will elucidate the subject: February 7, Coffin reported to
Dole [General Files, _Southern Superintendency_, 1863-1864] that
the wild Indians had been raiding on the Verdigris and Fall Rivers
into the Creek and Cherokee countries, "jayhawking property," and
bringing it into Kansas and selling it to the settlers. Some of the
cattle obtained in this way had been (cont.)]

wonder, whether in joining the Confederacy, they had not made a
terrible mistake, a miscalculation beyond all remedying.

To the Confederates, tragically enough, the Indian's tale of woe and
of regret had a different meaning. The

[Footnote 784: (cont.) sold by a settler to the contractor and fed to
the Indians. Jim Ned's band of wild Delawares, returning from such a
jayhawking expedition, had stolen some Osage ponies and had become
involved in a fight in which two Delawares had been killed [Coffin to
Dole, February 12, 1863, ibid., _Neosho_, C 73 of 1863]. Coffin
prevailed upon Jim Ned to stop the jayhawking excursions; inasmuch
as "Considerable bad feeling exists on the part of the Cherokees in
consequence of the bringing up ... a great many cattle, ponies, and
mules, which they allege belong to the Cherokee refugees ..." [Coffin
to Dole, February 24, 1863, Indian Office General Files, _Southern
Superintendency_, 1863-1864].

Feelings of hostility continued to exist, notwithstanding, between the
civilized and uncivilized red men and "aided materially the emissaries
of the Rebellion in fomenting discords and warlike raids upon whites
as well as Indians ..." [Coffin to Dole, June 25, 1863, Ibid.,
C 325]. It was under such circumstances that Carruth took it upon
himself to arrange an inter-tribal council. This is his report
[Carruth to Coffin, June 17, 1863, Ibid.,]. His action was
seconded by Martin [Martin to Coffin, June 18, 1863, Ibid.,]:

"I left Belmont (the temporary Wichita agency) May 26th to hold a
Council with the Indians of the Wichita Agency, who have not as yet
reached Kansas ... I found ... upon reaching Fall River ... that the
Wichitas alone had sent over 100 men. We reached the Ark. River May
31st. After having been compelled to purchase some provisions for the
number of people, who have come, that were not provided for. The next
day we were joined by the Kickapoos and Sacs, and here I was informed
by the Kickapoos, that no runner had gone through to the Cadoes and
Comanches from them, as we had heard at Belmont, yet I learned, that
these tribes were then camped at the Big Bend, some sixty miles above
and waiting at this point: I sent three Wichitas--among them the
Chief--some Ionies, Wacoes, and Tawa Kuwus through to them calling on
their Chiefs to come and have a 'talk.'

"They reached us on the 8th of June, and after furnishing the presents
I had taken to them all the different tribes were called to Council.
Present were, Arapahoes, Lipans, Comanches, Kioways, Sac and Foxes,
Kickapoos and Cadoes besides the Indians who went out with me.

"All of them are true to the Government of the United States, but some
are at war with each other. I proposed to them to make peace with all
the tribes friendly to our Government, so that their 'Great Father'
might view all of them alike.

"To this they agreed, and a Council was called to which the Osages,
Potawatomies, Shians, Sac and Foxes, in fact all the tribes at
variance, are (cont.)]

tale had been told many times of late and every time with a new
emphasis upon that part of it that recounted delusion and betrayal.
For quite a while now the Indians had been feeling themselves
neglected. Steele was aware of the fact but helpless. When told of
treaty rights he had to plead ignorance; for he had never seen the
treaties and had no official knowledge of their contents. He was
exercising the functions of superintendent _ex officio_, not
because the post had ever been specifically conferred upon him or
instructions sent, but because he had come to his command to find it,
in nearly every aspect, Indian and no agent or superintendent at hand
to take charge [785] of affairs that were

[Footnote 784: (cont.) to be invited, to hold a grand peace Council
near the mouth of the Little Arkansas River within six weeks.
Meanwhile they are to send runners to notify these tribes to gather on
the Arkansas, sixty miles above, that they may be within reach of our
call when we get to the Council ground. Subsistence will have to be
provided for at least 10000 Indians at that time. They will expect
something from the Government to convince them of its power to carry
through its promises. Some of the Cadoes and Comanches connected with
this Agency, after coming to the Arkansas, returned to Fort Cobb.
These will all come back to this Council. Their desire is to be
subsisted on the Little Arkansas, some 70 miles from Emporia until the
war closes.

"They argue like this, 'The Government once sent us our provisions to
Fort Cobb over 300 miles from Fort Smith. We do not want to live near
the whites, because of troubles between them and us in regard to
ponies, timber, fields, green corn, etc. Our subsistence can be hauled
to the mouth of the Little Arkansas, easier by far, than it was
formerly from Fort Smith, and by being at this point we shall be
removed from the abodes of the whites, so they cannot steal our
ponies, nor can our people trouble them.'

"I believe they are right. I have had more trouble the past winter in
settling difficulties between the Indians and whites on account of
trades, stolen horses, broken fences, etc. than from all other causes

"I cannot get all the Indians of this Agency together this side of the
Little Arkansas. That point will be near enough the Texan frontier for
the Indians to go home easily when the war closes. It is on the direct
route to Fort Cobb. They are opposed to going via Fort Gibson ..."]

[Footnote 785: Without legislating on the subject, and without
intending it, the Confederacy had virtually put into effect, a
recommendation of Hindman's that "The superintendencies, agencies,
etc., should be abolished, and a purely military establishment
substituted ..." [_Official Records_, vol. xiii, p. 51.].]

ordinarily not strictly within the range of military cognizance.

General Steele, like many another, was inclined to think that the red
men greatly over-estimated their own importance; for they failed to
"see and understand how small a portion of the field"[786] they really
occupied. To Steele, it was not Indian Territory that was valuable but
Texas. For him the Indian country, barren by reason of the drouth,
denuded of its live stock, a prey to jayhawker, famine, and
pestilence, did nothing more than measure the distance between the
Federals and the rich Texan grain-fields, from whence he fondly hoped
an inexhaustible supply of flour[787] for the Confederates was to
come. In short, the great and wonderful expanse that had been given to
the Indian for a perpetual home was a mere buffer.

But it was a buffer, throbbing with life, and that was something
Steele dared not ignore and could not if he would. With such
a consciousness, when the secessionist Cherokees were making
arrangements for their council at Webber's Falls in April, he hastened
to propitiate them ahead of time by addressing them "through the
medium of their wants" for he feared what might be their action[788]
should they assemble with a

[Footnote 786: Steele to Wigfall, April 15, 1863, _Official
Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 820.]

[Footnote 787: Steele's letter books furnish much evidence on
this score. A large portion has been published in the _Official
Records_. During the period covered by this chapter, he was drawing
his supply of flour from Riddle's Station, "on the Fort Smith and
Boggy Road" [_Confederate Records_, chap. 2, no. 270, p. 252]
in charge of which was Captain Hardin of Bass's Texas Cavalry. He
expected to draw from Arkansas likewise [Steele to Major S.J. Lee,
June 9, 1863, _Confederate Records_, chap. 2, no. 268, pp. 70-71;
Duval to Hardin, June 16, 1863, Ibid., p. 81; Steele to Lee,
June 17, 1863, Ibid., pp. 87-88].]

[Footnote 788: "Enclosed please find a letter to Col. Adair, and
a note from him forwarding it. I send it for the consideration of
General Holmes. The (cont.)]

grievance[789] against the Confederacy in their hearts. Protection
against the oncoming enemy and relief from want were the things the
Indians craved, so, short though his own supplies were, Steele had to
make provision for the helpless and indigent natives, the feeding
of whom became a fruitful and constantly increasing source of

Just and generous as General Steele endeavored to

[Footnote 788: (cont.) subject is one of grave importance. If a
regiment of infantry could be spared to take post at this place and
General Cabell could be permitted to include it in his command, I
would go more into the nation and would be able soon to give the
required protection. The troops from Red River have been ordered up
and should be some distance on the way before this. I fear the meeting
of the Cherokee Council which takes place on the 20th ... unless more
troops arrive before they act."--STEELE to Anderson, April 15, 1863,
_Confederate Records_, no. 270, p. 194.

This was not the first time Steele had expressed a wish to go into the
Nation. March 20th, when writing to Anderson [Ibid., p. 150],
he had thought it of "paramount importance" that he visit all parts of
his command. Concerning his apprehension about the prospective work of
the Cherokee Council, he wrote quite candidly to Wigfall [_Official
Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 821].]

[Footnote 789: The letter to Colonel W.P. Adair, written by one of his
adjutants, J.A. Scales, April 12, 1863 [Ibid., 821-822], is a
creditable presentation of the Cherokee grievance.]

[Footnote 790: Steele here presents certain phases of the

"... The matter of feeding destitute Indians has been all through a
vexatious one, the greatest trouble being to find in each neighborhood
a reliable person to receive the quota for that neighborhood. These
people seem more indifferent to the wants of others than any I have
seen; they are not willing to do the least thing to assist in helping
their own people who are destitute. I have, in many instances, been
unable to get wagons to haul the flour given them. I have incurred
a great responsibility in using army rations in this way and to the
extent that I have. I have endeavored to give to all destitute and to
sell at cost to those who are able to purchase. In this matter the
Nation has been more favored than the adjacent States. I am told by
Mr. Boudinot that a bill was passed by the Cherokee Council, taking
the matter into their own hands. I hope it is so. In which case I
shall cease issuing to others who have not, like them, been driven
from their homes. Dr. Walker was appointed to superintend this matter,
some system being necessary to prevent the same persons from drawing
from different commissaries ..."--STEELE to D.H. Cooper, June 15,
1863, _Confederate Records_, chap. 2, no. 268, pp. 80-81.]

be in the matter of attention to Indian necessities, his efforts were
unappreciated largely because of evil influences at work to undermine
him and to advance Douglas H. Cooper. Steele had his points of
vulnerability, his inability to check the Federal advance and his
remoteness from the scene of action, his headquarters being at Fort
Smith. Connected with the second point and charged against him were
all the bad practices of those men who, in their political or military
control of Indian Territory, had allowed Arkansas to be their chief
concern. Such practices became the foundation stone of a general
Indian dissatisfaction and, concomitantry, Douglas H. Cooper, of
insatiable ambition, posed as the exponent of the idea that the safety
of Indian Territory was an end in itself.

The kind of separate military organization that constituted Steele's
command was not enough for the Indians. Seemingly, they desired the
restoration of the old Pike department, but not such as it had been in
the days of the controversy with Hindman but such as it always was in
Pike's imagination. The Creeks were among the first to declare that
this was their desire. They addressed[791] themselves to President
Davis[792] and

[Footnote 791: Mory Kanard and Echo Harjo to President Davis, May 18,
1863, _Official Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 1118-1119.]

[Footnote 792: Davis, in his message of January 12, 1863 [Richardson,
_Messages and Papers of the Confederacy_, vol. i, 295] had
revealed an acquaintance with some Indian dissatisfaction but
intimated that it had been dispelled, it having arisen "from a
misapprehension of the intentions of the Government ..." It was
undoubtedly to allay apprehension on the part of the Indians that
Miles, in the house of Representatives, offered the following
resolution, February 17, 1863:

"_Resolved_, That the Government of the Confederate States has
witnessed with feelings of no ordinary gratification the loyalty and
good faith of the larger portion of its Indian allies west of the
State of Arkansas.

"_Resolved further_, That no effort of the Confederate Government
shall be spared to protect them fully in all their rights and to
assist them in defending their country against the encroachments
of all enemies." [_Journal of the Congress of the Confederate
States_, vol. vi, 113].]

boldly said that their country had "been treated as a mere appendage
of Arkansas, where needy politicians and _proteges_ of Arkansas
members of Congress must be quartered." The Seminoles followed
suit,[793] although in a congratulatory way, after a rumor had reached
them that the Creek request for a separate department of Indian
Territory was about to be granted. The rumor was false and in
June Tandy Walker, on behalf of the Choctaws, reopened the whole
subject.[794] A few days earlier, the Cherokees had filed their
complaint but it was of a different character, more fundamental, more
gravely portentous.

The Cherokee complaint took the form of a deliberate charge of
contemplated bad faith on the part of the Confederate government. E.C.
Boudinot, the Cherokee delegate in the Southern Congress, had recently
returned from Richmond, empowered to submit a certain proposal to his
constituents. The text of the proposal does not appear in the records
but its nature,[795] after account be taken of some exaggeration
attributable to the extreme of indignation, can be inferred from the
formal protest[796] against it, which was drawn up at Prairie Springs
in the Cherokee Nation about fifteen miles from Fort Gibson on the
twenty-first of June and signed by Samuel M. Taylor, acting assistant
chief, John Spears of the Executive Council, and Alexander Foreman,
president of the convention. To all intents and purposes the Cherokees
were asked, in return for some paltry offices chiefly military, to
institute a sort of system of military land grants. White people were
to be induced to enlist in their behalf and were then to

[Footnote 793: June 6, 1863, _Official Records_, vol. xxii, part
ii, 1120.]

[Footnote 794: June 24, 1863, Ibid., 1122-1123.]

[Footnote 795: Steele's letter to Kirby Smith, June 24, 1863
[Ibid., 883-884], gives some hint of its nature also.]

[Footnote 796:--Ibid., 1120-1122.]

be allowed to settle, on equal terms with the Cherokees, within the
Cherokee country. The proposal, as construed by Taylor and his
party, was nothing more or less than a suggestion that the Cherokees
surrender their nationality, their political integrity, the one thing
above everything else that they had sought to preserve when they
entered into an active alliance with the Confederate States. So sordid
was the bargain proposed, so unequal, that the thought obtrudes
itself that a base advantage was about to be taken of the Cherokee
necessities and that the objectors were justified in insinuating that
Boudinot and his political friends were to be the chief beneficiaries.
The Cherokee country was already practically lost to the Confederacy.
Might it not be advisable to distribute the tribal lands, secure
individual holdings, while vested rights might still accrue; for,
should bad come to worse, private parties could with more chance
of success prosecute a claim than could a commonalty, which in its
national or corporate capacity had committed treason and thereby
forfeited its rights. One part of the Cherokee protest merits
quotation here. Its noble indignation ought to have been proof enough
for anybody.

... We were present when the treaty was made, were a party to it,
and rejoiced when it was done. In that treaty our rights to
our country as a Nation were guaranteed to us forever, and the
Confederate States promised to protect us in them. We enlisted
under the banner of those States, and have fought in defense of
our country under that treaty and for the rights of the South for
nearly two years. We have been driven from our homes, and suffered
severe hardships, privations, and losses, and now we are informed,
when brighter prospects are before us, that you think it best for
us to give part of our lands to our white friends; that, to defend
our country and keep troops for our protection, we must raise and
enlist them from

our own territory, and that it is actually necessary that they are
citizens of our country to enable us to keep them with us. To do
this would be the end of our national existence and the ruin of
our people. Two things above all others we hold most dear, our
nationality and the welfare of our people. Had the war been our
own, there would have been justice in the proposition, but it is
that of another nation. We are allies, assisting in establishing
the rights and independence of another nation. We, therefore, in
justice to ourselves and our people, cannot agree to give a part
of our domain as an inducement to citizens of another Government
to fight their own battles and for their own country; besides, it
would open a door to admit as citizens of our Nation the worst
class of citizens of the Confederate States ...


Independence Day, 1863, witnessed climacteric scenes in the war
dramas, east and west. The Federal victories of Gettysburg and
Vicksburg, all-decisive in the history of the great American conflict,
when considered in its entirety, had each its measure of immediate
and local importance. The loss of all control of the Mississippi
navigation meant for the Confederacy its practical splitting in twain
and the isolation of its western part. For the Arkansas frontier and
for the Missouri border generally, it promised, since western commands
would now recover their men and resume their normal size, increased
Federal aggressiveness or the end of suspended. Initial preparation
for such renewed aggressiveness was contemporary with the fall of
Vicksburg and lay in the failure of the Confederate attack upon
Helena, an attack that had been projected for the making of a
diversion only. The failure compelled Holmes to draw his forces back
to Little Rock.

Confederate operations in Indian Territory through May and June had
been, as already described, confined to sporadic demonstrations
against Federal herds and Federal supply trains, all having for their
main object the dislodgment of Phillips from Fort Gibson. What proved
to be their culmination and the demonstration most energetically
conducted occurred at Cabin Creek,[797] while far away Vicksburg was
falling and

[Footnote 797: For an official report of the action at Cabin Creek,
see _Official Records_, vol. xxii, part i, 378-382. While, as
things eventuated, it was an endeavor (cont.)]

Gettysburg was being fought. A commissary train from Fort Scott was
expected. It was to come down, escorted by Colonel Williams who was
in command of the negro troops that Blunt had stationed at Baxter
Springs. To meet the train and to reinforce Williams, Phillips
despatched Major Foreman from Fort Gibson. Cooper had learned of the
coming of the train and had made his plans to seize it in a fashion
now customary.[798] The plans were quite elaborate and involved the
cooeperation[799] of Cabell's Arkansas brigade,[800] which was to come
from across the line and proceed down the east side of the Grand
River. Thither also, Cooper sent a

[Footnote 797: (cont.) to cut off the supply train, there was
throughout the possibility that it might also result in heading off
Blunt, who was known to be on his way to Fort Gibson [Steele to
Cooper, June 29, 1863; Duval to Cooper, June 29, 1863; Duval to
Cabell, June 29, 1863].]

[Footnote 798: Steele to Cabell, June 25, 1863 [_Confederate
Records_, chap. 2, no. 268, p. 97; _Official Records_, vol.
xxii, part ii, 885].]

[Footnote 799: Steele to Cabell, June 29, 1863 [_Confederate
Records_, chap. 2, no. 268, p. 105; _Official Records_, vol.
xxii, part ii, 893-894].]

[Footnote 800: Of W.L. Cabell, the _Confederate Military
History_, vol. x, has this to say: "Maj. W.L. Cabell, who had been
sent to inspect the accounts of quartermasters in the department,
having well acquitted himself of this duty, was, in March 1863,
commissioned brigadier-general and requested to collect absentees from
the service in northwestern Arkansas. Given Carroll's and Monroe's
regiments, he was directed to perfect such organizations as he could
..." He collected his brigade with great rapidity and it soon numbered
about four thousand men. Even, in April, Steele was placing much
reliance upon it, although he wished to keep its relation to him a
secret. He wrote to Cooper to that effect.

"Who will be in command of the Choctaws when you leave? Will they be
sufficient to picket and scout on the other side of the river far
enough to give notice of any advance of the enemy down the river? I do
not wish it to be generally known that Cabell's forces are under my
command, but prefer the enemy should think them a separate command;
for this reason I do not send these troops west until there is a
necessity for it; in the meantime the other troops can be brought
into position, where if we can get sufficient ammunition all can be
concentrated. I cannot direct positively, not having the intimate
knowledge of the country, but you should be in a position which would
enable you to move either down the Ark. River or on to the road
leading from Boggy Depot to Gibson as circumstances may indicate.
Let me hear from you frequently."--STEELE to Cooper, April 28, 1863,
_Confederate Records_, chap. 2, no. 270, pp. 217-218.]

part of his own brigade and at the same time ordered another part
under Stand Watie to go to Cabin Creek and to take such position on
its south bank as to command the crossing. It was a time when the
rivers were all in flood, a circumstance that greatly affected the
outcome since it prevented the forces on the east side of the Grand
from coming to Stand Watie's support. As Foreman proceeded northward
to effect a junction with Williams, he detached some Cherokees from
the Third Indian, under Lieutenant Luke F. Parsons, to reconnoitre. In
that way he became apprised of Watie's whereabouts and enabled to put
himself on his guard. The commissary train, in due time, reached
Cabin Creek and, after some slight delay caused, not by Stand
Watie's interposition, but by the high waters, crossed. Federals
and Confederates then collided in a somewhat disjointed but lengthy
engagement with the result that Stand Watie retired and the train,
nothing the worse for the hold-up, moved on without further
molestation to Fort Gibson.[801]

The action at Cabin Creek, July 1 to 3, was the last attempt of any
size for the time being to capture Federal supplies en route. The
tables were thenceforth turned and the Confederates compelled to keep
a close

[Footnote 801: In describing what appears to be the action at Cabin
Creek, Steele refers to "bad conduct of the Creeks," and holds it
partly responsible for the failure [_Official Records_, vol.
xxii, part ii, 910]. It is possible that he had in mind, however, a
slightly earlier encounter, the same that he described, adversely
to D.N. McIntosh's abilities as a commander, in his general report
[Ibid., part i, 32]. Steele had little faith in the Indian
brigade and frankly admitted that he expected it in large measure,
to "dissolve," if the Confederates were to be forced to fall back at
Cabin Creek [Steele to Blair, July 1, 1863, _Official Records_,
vol. xxii, part ii, 902]. Nevertheless, he anticipated a victory for
his arms there [Steele to Blair, July 3, 1863, Ibid., 903].
From his general report, it might be thought that Stand Watie
disappointed him at this time, as later; but the Confederate failure
was most certainly mainly attributable to the high waters, which
prevented the union of their expeditionary forces [Steele to Blair,
July 5, 1863, Ibid., 905].]

watch on their own depots and trains. Up to date, since his first
arrival at Fort Gibson, Colonel Phillips had been necessarily on the
defensive because of the fewness of his men. Subsequent to the Cabin
Creek affair came a change, incident to events and conditions farther
east. The eleventh of July brought General Blunt, commander of the
District of the Frontier, to Fort Gibson. His coming was a surprise,
as has already been casually remarked, but it was most timely. There
was no longer any reason whatsoever why offensive action should not
be the main thing on the Federal docket in Indian Territory, as

To protect its own supplies and to recuperate, the strength of
the Confederate Indian brigade was directed toward Red River,
notwithstanding that Steele had still the hope of dislodging the
Federals north of the Arkansas.[802] His difficulties[803] were no
less legion than before, but he thought it might be possible to
accomplish the end desired by invading Kansas,[804] a plan that seemed
very feasible after S.P. Bankhead assumed command of the Northern
Sub-District of Texas.[805] Steele himself had "neither the artillery
nor the kind of force necessary to take a place" fortified as was
Gibson; but to the westward of the Federal stronghold Bankhead might
move. He might attack Fort Scott, Blunt's headquarters but greatly
weakened now, and possibly also some small posts in southwest
Missouri, replenishing his resources from time to time in the fertile
and well settled Neosho River Valley. Again

[Footnote 802: Steele took umbrage at a published statement of Pike
that seemed to doubt this and to intimate that the line of the
Arkansas had been definitely abandoned [Steele to Pike, July 13, 1863,
_Official Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 925].]

[Footnote 803: For new aspects of his difficulties, see Steele to
Boggs, chief of staff, July 7, 1863, Ibid., 909-911.]

[Footnote 804:--Ibid., p. 910.]

[Footnote 805: Steele to Bankhead, July 11, 1863, Ibid.,

local selfishness rose to the surface[806] and Bankhead, surmising
Steele's weakness and that he would almost inevitably have to fall
back, perhaps vacating Indian Territory altogether, became alarmed for
the safety of Texas.[807]

Steele's recognition and admission of material incapacity for taking
Fort Gibson in no wise deterred him from attempting it. The idea was,
that Cooper should encamp at a point within the Creek Nation, fronting
Fort Gibson, and that Cabell should join him there with a view
to their making a combined attack.[808] As entertained, the idea
neglected to give due weight to the fact that Cabell's men were in no
trim for immediate action,[809] notwithstanding that concerted action
was the only thing likely to induce success. Blunt, with

[Footnote 806: Arkansas betrayed similar selfishness. President
Davis's rejoinder to a protest from Flanagin against a tendency to
ignore the claims of the West struck a singularly high note. Admitting
certain errors of the past, he prayed for the generous cooeperation of
the future; for "it is to the future, not to the past, that we must
address ourselves, and I wish to assure you, though I hope it is
unnecessary, that no effort shall be spared to promote the defense of
the Trans-Mississippi Department, and to develop its resources so
as to meet the exigencies of the present struggle" [_Official
Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 932]. Five days afterwards, Governor
Reynolds, in commending Secretary Seddon for a very able ministry,
expressed confidence that his gubernatorial colleagues in Arkansas,
Texas, and Louisiana would, with himself, "act in no sectional or
separatist spirit." It was saying a good deal, considering how strong
the drift of popular opinion had been and was to be in the contrary
direction. However, in August, the four governors appealed
collectively to their constituents and to "the Allied Indian Nations,"
proving, if proof were needed, that they personally were sincere
[Ibid., vol. liii, supplement, 892-894; Moore's _Rebellion
Record_, vol. vii, 406-407].]

[Footnote 807: _Official Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 922.]

[Footnote 808: The plans for such concerted action were made as early
as July 8 [Steele to Cooper, July 8, 1863, _Official Records_,
vol. xxii, part ii, 911-912]. Cabell was instructed to take position
between Webber's Falls and Fort Gibson [Duval to Cabell, July 10,
1863, Ibid., 916-917] and more specifically, two days before
the battle, "within 15 or 20 miles of Gibson and this side of where
Gen. Cooper is now encamped on Elk Creek" [Steele to Cabell, July 15,
1863, _Confederate Records_, chap. 2, no. 268, p. 145].]

[Footnote 809: Steele knew of the deficiencies in their equipment,
however, and of their exhausted state (cont.)]

scouts out in all directions and with spies in the very camps of his
foes, soon obtained an inkling of the Confederate plan and resolved
to dispose of Cooper before Cabell could arrive from Arkansas.[810]
Cooper's position was on Elk Creek, not far from present
Muskogee,[811] and near Honey Springs on the seventeenth of July the
two armies met, Blunt forcing the engagement, having made a night
march in order to do it. The Indians of both sides[812] were on hand,
in force, the First and Second Home Guards, being dismounted as
infantry and thus fighting for once as they had been mustered in. Of
the Confederate, or Cooper, brigade Stand Watie, the ever reliable,
commanded the First and Second Cherokee, D.N. McIntosh, the First
and Second Creek, and Tandy Walker, the regiment of Choctaws and
Chickasaws. The odds were all against Cooper from the start and, in
ways that Steele had not specified, the material equipment proved
itself inadequate indeed. Much of the ammunition was worthless.[813]
Nevertheless, Cooper stubbornly contested every inch of the ground and
finally gave way only when large numbers of his Indians, knowing their
guns to be absolutely useless to them, became disheartened and then
demoralized. In confusion, they led the van in

[Footnote 809: (cont.) [Duval to W.H. Scott, Commanding Post at
Clarksville, Ark., July 8, 1863, _Confederate Records_, p. 133;
Steele to Blair, July 10, 1863, _Official Records_, vol. xxii,
part ii, 917; same to same, July 13, 1863, Ibid., 925].]

[Footnote 810: See Blunt's official report, dated July 26, 1863
[Ibid., part i, 447-448].]

[Footnote 811: Anderson, _Life of General Stand Watie_, 21.]

[Footnote 812: With respect to the number of white troops engaged on
the Federal side there seems some discrepancy between Blunt's report
[_Official Records_, vol. xxii, part i, 448] and Phisterer's
statistics [_Statistical Record_, 145].]

[Footnote 813: See Cooper's report, dated August 12, 1863 [_Official
Records_, vol. xxii, part i, 457-461]. The following references are
to letters that substantiate, in whole or in part, what Cooper said in
condemnation of the ammunition: Duval to Du Bose, dated Camp Prairie
Springs, C.N., July 27, 1863 [_Confederate Records_, chap. 2, no.
268, p. 159]; Steele to Blair, dated Camp Imochiah, August 9, 1863
[Ibid., 185-187; _Official Records_, vol. xxii, part ii,

flight across the Canadian; but enough of those more self-contained
went thither in an easterly or southeasterly direction so as to create
the impression among their enemies that they were retiring to meet the
expected reinforcements from Fort Smith.[814]

But the reinforcements were yet far away. Indeed, it was not until
all was over and a day too late that Cabell came up. A tragic sight
confronted him; but his own march had been so dismal, so inauspicious
that everything unfortunate that had happened seemed but a part of
one huge catastrophe. He had come by the "old Pacific mail route,
the bridges of which, in some places, were still standing in the
uninhabited prairies."[815] The forsaken land broke the morale of his
men--they had never been enthusiastic in the cause, some of them were
conscripted unionists, forsooth, and they deserted his ranks by the
score, by whole companies. The remnant pushed on and, in the far
distance, heard the roaring of the cannon. Then, coming nearer, they
caught a first glimpse of Blunt's victorious columns; but those
columns were already retiring, it being their intention to recross to
the Fort Gibson side of the Arkansas. "Moving over the open, rolling
prairies,"[816] Nature's vast meadows, their numbers seemed great
indeed and Cabell made no attempt to pursue or to court further
conflict. The near view of the battle-field dismayed[817] him; for
its gruesome records all too surely told him of another Confederate

[Footnote 814: Cooper intended to create such an impression
[_Official Records_, vol. xxii, part i, 460] and he did
[Schofield to McNeil, July 26, 1863, Ibid., part ii, 399-400].]

[Footnote 815: _Confederate Military History_, vol. x, 199.]

[Footnote 816: Ibid., 200.]

[Footnote 817: Cabell might well be dismayed. Steele had done his
best to hurry him up. A letter of July 15 was particularly urgent
[_Official Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 933].]

In the fortunes of the Southern Indians, the Battle of Honey Springs
was a decisive event. Fought and lost in the country of the Creeks, it
was bound to have upon them a psychological effect disastrous to the
steady maintenance of their alliance with the Confederacy, so also
with the other great tribes; but more of that anon. In a military
way, it was no less significant than in a political; for it was the
beginning of a vigorously offensive campaign, conducted by General
Blunt, that never ended until the Federals were in occupation of Fort
Smith and Fort Smith was at the very door of the Choctaw country. No
Indian tribe, at the outset of the war, had more completely gone over
to the South than had the Choctaw. It had influenced the others but
had already come to rue the day that had seen its own first defection.
Furthermore, the date of the Confederate rout at Honey Springs marked
the beginning of a period during which dissatisfaction with General
Steele steadily crystallized.

Within six weeks after the Battle of Honey Springs, the Federals were
in possession of Fort Smith, which was not surprising considering
the happenings of the intervening days. The miscalculations that had
eventuated in the routing of Cooper had brought Steele to the decision
of taking the field in person; for there was just a chance that he
might succeed where his subordinates, with less at stake than he, had
failed. Especially might he take his chances on winning if he could
count upon help from Bankhead to whom he had again made application,
nothing deterred by his previous ill-fortune.

It was not, by any means, Steele's intention to attempt the reduction
of Fort Gibson;[818] for, with such artillery

[Footnote 818: Steele to Blair, July 22, 1863 [_Official
Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 940-941].]

as he had, the mere idea of such an undertaking would be preposterous.
The defensive would have to be, for some time to come, his leading
role; but he did hope to be able to harry his enemy, somewhat,
to entice him away from his fortifications and to make those
fortifications of little worth by cutting off his supplies. Another
commissary train would be coming down from Fort Scott via Baxter
Springs about the first of August.[819] For it, then, Steele would lie
in wait.

When all was in readiness, Fort Smith was vacated, not abandoned;
inasmuch as a regiment under Morgan of Cabell's brigade was left in
charge, but it was relinquished as department headquarters. Steele
then took up his march for Cooper's old battle-ground on Elk Creek.
There he planned to mass his forces and to challenge an attack. He
went by way of Prairie Springs[820] and lingered there a little while,
then moved on to Honey Springs, where was better grazing.[821] He felt
obliged thus to make his stand in the Creek country; for the Creeks
were getting fractious and it was essential for his purposes that they
be mollified and held in check. Furthermore, it was incumbent upon him
not to expose his "depots in the direction of Texas."[822]

As the summer days passed, Cabell and Cooper drew into his vicinity
but no Bankhead, notwithstanding that Magruder had ordered him to
hurry to Steele's

[Footnote 819: Steele to Bankhead, July 22, 1863 [_Official
Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 940]]

[Footnote 820: Duval to A.S. Morgan, July 18, 1863 [Ibid.,
933]; Steele to Blair, July 22, 1863 [Ibid., 940-941].]

[Footnote 821: Steele arrived at Prairie Springs on the twenty-fourth
[Steele to Blair, July 26, 1863, Ibid., 948] and moved to Honey
Springs two days later [same to same, July 29, 1863, Ibid.,
950-951]. On August 7, his camp was at Soda Springs, whither he had
gone "for convenience of water and grass" [same to same, August 7,
1863, Ibid., 956].]

[Footnote 822:--Ibid., 951.]

support.[823] Bankhead had not the slightest idea of doing anything
that would put Texas in jeopardy. In northern Texas sympathy for the
Federal cause, or "rottenness" as the Confederates described it, was
rife.[824] It would be suicidal to take the home force too far away.
Moreover, it was Bankhead's firm conviction that Steele would never be
able to maintain himself so near to Fort Gibson, so he would continue
where he was and decide what to do when time for real action
came.[825] It would be hazarding a good deal to amalgamate his
command,[826] half of which would soon be well disciplined, with
Steele's, which, in some of its parts, was known not to be.

As a matter of fact, Steele's command was worse than undisciplined. It
was permeated through and through with defection in its most virulent
form, a predicament not wholly unforeseen. The Choctaws had pretty
well dispersed, the Creeks were sullen, and Cabell's brigade of
Arkansans was actually disintegrating. The prospect of fighting
indefinitely in the Indian country had no attractions for men who were
not in the Confederate service for pure love of the cause. Day by day
desertions[827] took place until the number became alarming and, what
was worse, in some cases, the officers were in collusion with the
men in delinquency. Cabell himself was not above suspicion.[828] To
prevent the spread of

[Footnote 823: By August third, Bankhead had not been heard from at
all [Steele to Blair, August 3, 1863, _Official Records_, vol.
xxii, part ii, 953]. The following communications throw some light
upon Bankhead's movements [Ibid., 948, 956, 963].]

[Footnote 824: Crosby to G.M. Bryan, August 30, 1863, Ibid.,

[Footnote 825: Bankhead to E.P. Turner, August 13, 1863, Ibid.,

[Footnote 826: Bankhead to Boggs, August 10, 1863, Ibid., 966.]

[Footnote 827: There is an abundance of material in the _Confederate
Records_ on the subject of desertions in the West. Note
particularly pp. 167, 168, 173-174, 192-193, 198, 204-205 of chap.
2, no. 268. Note, also, _Official Records_, vol. xxii, part ii,

[Footnote 828: Duval to Cabell, August 17, 1863, _Official
Records_, vol. xxii, part ii 969-970.]

contagion among the Indians, his troops were moved to more and more
isolated camps[829] across the Canadian[830] and, finally, back in the
direction of Fort Smith. Ostensibly they were moved to the Arkansas
line to protect Fort Smith; for Steele knew well that his present hold
upon that place was of the frailest. It might be threatened at any
moment from the direction of Cassville and Morgan had been instructed,
in the event of an attack in prospect, to cross the boundary line and
proceed along the Boggy road towards Riddle's station.[831] Steele was
evidently not going to make any desperate effort to hold the place
that for so long had been the seat of the Confederate control over the
Southern Indians.

All this time, General Blunt had been patrolling the Arkansas for some
thirty miles or so of its course[832] and had been thoroughly
well aware of the assembling of Steele's forces, likewise of the
disaffection of the Indians, with which, by the way, he had had quite
a little to do. Not knowing exactly what Steele's intentions might be
but surmising that he was meditating an attack, he resolved to assume
the offensive himself.[833] The full significance of his resolution
can be fully appreciated only by the noting of the fact that,
subsequent to the Battle of Honey Springs, he had been instructed by
General Schofield, his superior officer, not only not to advance
but to fall back. To obey the order was inconceivable and Blunt had
deliberately disobeyed it.[834] It was now his determination to do
more. Fortunately, Schofield had recently changed his mind; for word

[Footnote 829: _Confederate Military History_, vol. x, 202.]

[Footnote 830: Steele to Scott, August 7, 1863, _Official
Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 957.]

[Footnote 831: Steele to Morgan, August, 1863, Ibid., 951;
August 8, 1863, Ibid., 957.]

[Footnote 832: Steele to Blair, August 7, 1863, Ibid., 956.]

[Footnote 833: Blunt to Schofield, July 30, 1863, Ibid., 411.]

[Footnote 834: Blunt to Lincoln, September 24, 1863, Ibid.,
vol. liii, supplement, 572.]

come to him that Congress had decided to relieve Kansas of her Indian
encumbrance by compassing the removal of all her tribes, indigenous
and immigrant, to Indian Territory. It mattered not that the former
had a title to their present holdings by ancient occupation and long
continued possession and the latter a title in perpetuity, guaranteed
by the treaty-making power under the United States constitution. All
the tribes were to be ousted from the soil of the state that had been
saved to freedom; but it would be first necessary to secure the Indian
Territory and the men of the Kansas tribes were to be organized as
soldiers to secure it. It is difficult to imagine a more ironical
proceeding. The Indians were to be induced to fight for the recovery
of a section of the country that would make possible their own
banishment. Blunt strenuously objected, not because he was averse
to ridding Kansas of the Indians, but because he had no faith in an
Indian soldiery. Said he,

There are several reasons why I do not think such a policy
practicable or advisable. It would take several months under the
most favorable circumstances to organize and put into the field
the Indians referred to, even were they ready and willing to
enlist, of which fact I am not advised, but presume they would be
very slow to enlist; besides my experience thus far with Indian
soldiers has convinced me that they are of little service to the
Government compared with other soldiers. The Cherokees, who are
far superior in every respect to the Kansas Indians, did very good
service while they had a specific object in view--the possession
and occupation of their own country; having accomplished that,
they have become greatly demoralized and nearly worthless as
troops. I would earnestly recommend that (as the best policy
the Government can pursue with these Indian regiments) they be
mustered out of service some time during the coming winter, and
put to work raising their subsistence, with a few white troops
stationed among them for their protection.

I would not exchange one regiment of negro troops for ten
regiments of Indians, and they can be obtained in abundance
whenever Texas is reached.

In ten days from this date, if I have the success I expect, the
Indian Territory south of the Arkansas River will be in our
possession ...[835]

Blunt's mind was made up. He was determined to go forward with the
force he already had. Ill-health[836] retarded his movements a trifle;
but on the twenty-second of August, two days after the massacre by
guerrillas had occurred at Lawrence, he crossed the Arkansas. He was
at length accepting General Steele's challenge but poor Steele was
quite unprepared for a duel of any sort. If Blunt distrusted the
Indians, how very much more did he and with greater reason! With
insufficient guns and ammunition, with no troops, white or red, upon
whom he could confidently rely, and with no certainty of help from
any quarter, he was compelled to adopt a Fabian policy, and he moved
slowly backward, inviting yet never stopping to accept a full and
regular engagement. Out of the Creek country he went and into the
Choctaw.[837] At Perryville, on the road[838] to

[Footnote 835: Blunt to Schofield, August 22, 1863, _Official
Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 465.]

[Footnote 836:--Ibid., 466. There seems to have been a good
deal of sickness at Fort Gibson and some mortality, of which
report was duly made to Steele [Ibid., 956; _Confederate
Records_, chap. 2, no. 268, pp. 192-193].]

[Footnote 837: Steele had crossed the line between the Creeks and
Choctaws, however, before Blunt crossed the Arkansas. On August
sixteenth, he had his camp on Longtown Creek and was sending a
detachment out as far south as within about ten miles of Boggy Depot
[_Official Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 968]. A few days
later, he made his camp on Brooken Creek, a little to the eastward
[Ibid., 972]. By that time, Steele was evidently quite
reconciled to the thought that Fort Smith might at any moment be
attacked and, perhaps, in such force that it would be needless to
attempt to defend it. Cabell was to move to a safe distance, in the
neighborhood of Scullyville, from whence, should there be reasonable
prospect of success, he might send out reenforcements. In the event of
almost certain failure, he was to draw off betimes in the direction of
Riddle's station, where flour was stored [Ibid.,].]

[Footnote 838: On the subject of roads and highways in Indian
Territory, see Ibid., (cont.)]

Texas, his men did have a small skirmish with Blunt's and at both
Perryville and North Fork, Blunt destroyed some of his stores.[839]
At North Fork, Steele had established a general hospital, which now
passed from his control.

Following the unsuccessful skirmish at Perryville, the evening of
August 25, Steele was "pushed rapidly down the country,"[840] so
observed the wary Bankhead to whom fresh orders to assist Steele had
been communicated.[841] Boggy Depot to the Texan commander seemed the
proper place to defend[842] and near there he now waited; but Steele
on East Boggy, full sixty miles from Red River and from comparative
safety, begged him to come forward to Middle Boggy, a battle was
surely impending.[843] No battle occurred, notwithstanding; for Blunt
had given up the pursuit. He had come to know that not all of Steele's
command was ahead of him,[844] that McIntosh with the Creeks had gone
west within the Creek country, the Creeks having refused to leave
it,[845] and that Cabell had gone east,

[Footnote 838: (cont.) vol. xxxiv, part ii, 859; vol. xii, part ii,
997; Sheridan, _Memoirs_, vol. ii, 340.]

[Footnote 839: Blunt to Schofield, August 27, 1863, _Official
Records_, vol. xxii, part i. 597-598; Steele to Snead, September 8,
1863, _Confederate Records_, chap. 2, no. 268, p. 223.]

[Footnote 840: _Official Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 983.]

[Footnote 841: W.T. Carrington to Bankhead, August 22, 1863,
Ibid., 975.]

[Footnote 842: Bankhead to Turner, August 23, 1863, Ibid., 977.
Near Boggy Depot, "the Fort Gibson and Fort Smith roads" forked. At
Boggy Depot, moreover, were "all the stores of the Indian Department."
With Boggy Depot in the hands of the enemy, Bankhead's whole front
would be uncovered [Bankhead to Turner August 20, 1863, Ibid.,

[Footnote 843: Duval to Bankhead and other commanders, August 27,
1863, Ibid., 981.]

[Footnote 844: Blunt to Schofield, August 27, 1863, Ibid., part
i, 597. He thought, however, that Stand Watie was with Steele but he
was not. He was absent on a scout [Steele to Boggs, August 30, 1863,
Ibid., part ii, 984].]

[Footnote 845: Steele to Snead, September 11, 1863, Ibid., part
ii, 1012.]

towards Fort Smith.[846] It was Fort Smith that now engaged Blunt's
attention and thither he directed his steps, Colonel W.F. Cloud[847]
of the Second Kansas Cavalry, who, acting under orders from General
McNeil,[848] had cooeperated with him at Perryville, being sent on in
advance. Fort Smith surrendered with ease, not a blow being struck in
her defence;[849] but there was Cabell yet to be dealt with.

Steele's conduct, his adoption of the Fabian policy, severely
criticized in some quarters, in Indian Territory, in Arkansas, in
Texas, had yet been condoned and, indeed, approved[850] by General
Kirby Smith, the

[Footnote 846: Cabell's brigade, as already indicated, had had to be
sent back "to avoid the contagion of demoralization." [_Official
Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 983; Steele to Snead, September 11,
1863, Ibid., 1012].]

[Footnote 847: Cloud had arrived at Fort Gibson, August 21 [Cloud to
McNeil, August 22, 1863, Ibid., 466].]

[Footnote 848: John McNeil was commanding the District of Southwestern
Missouri. The orders originated with Schofield [Ibid., part i,

[Footnote 849: Cabell had taken a position on the Poteau. Steele had
been much averse to his running the risk of having himself shut up in
Fort Smith [Steele to Cabell, September 1, 1863, Ibid., part
ii, 987].]

[Footnote 850: "The general commanding is satisfied that the Fabian
policy is the true one to adopt when not well satisfied that
circumstances warrant a different course..." [G.M. Bryan to Steele,
September 8, 1863, Ibid., 999]. Smith believed in "abandoning
a part to save the whole" [Letter to General R. Taylor, September 3,
1863, Ibid., 989]; but President Davis and men of the states
interested had impressed it upon him that that would never do. It must
have been with some idea of justifying Steele's procedure in mind that
Smith wrote to Stand Watie, September 8th [Ibid., 999-1000].
Watie had lodged a complaint with him, August 9th, against the
Confederate subordination of the Indian interests. To that Smith
replied in words that must have made a powerful appeal to the Cherokee
chief, who had already, in fact on the selfsame day that he wrote to
Smith, made an equally powerful one to his own tribe and to other
tribes. Watie's appeal will be taken up later, the noble sounding part
of Smith's may as well find a place for quotation here.

"I know that your people have cause for complaint. Their sufferings
and the apparent ill-faith of our Government would naturally produce
dissatisfaction. That your patriotic band of followers deserve the
thanks of our Government I know. They have won the respect and esteem
of our people (cont.)]

person most competent to judge fairly; because he possessed a full
comprehension of the situation in Steele's command. Smith knew and
others might have known that the situation had been largely created by
envy, hatred, and malice, by corruption in high places, by peculation
in low, by desertions in white regiments and by defection in Indian.

The Confederate government was not unaware of the increasing
dissatisfaction among its Indian allies. It had innumerable sources of
information, the chief of which and, perhaps, not the most reliable or
the least factional, were the tribal delegates[851] in Congress. Late

[Footnote 850: (cont.) by their steadfast loyalty and heroic bravery.
Tell them to remain true; encourage them in their despondency; bid
them struggle on through the dark gloom which now envelops our
affairs, and bid them remember the insurmountable difficulties with
which our Government has been surrounded; that she has never been
untrue to her engagements, though some of her agents may have been
remiss and even criminally negligent. Our cause is the same--a just
and holy one; we must stand and struggle on together, till that just
and good Providence, who always supports the right, crowns our efforts
with success. I can make you no definite promises. I have your
interest at heart, and will endeavor faithfully and honestly to
support you in your efforts and in those of your people to redeem
their homes from an oppressor's rule...

"What might have been done and has not is with the past; it is
needless to comment upon it, and I can only assure you that I feel the
importance of your country to our cause..."

That Smith was no more sincere than other white men had been, when
addressing Indians, goes almost without saying. It was necessary to
pacify Stand Watie and promises would no longer suffice. Candor was a
better means to the end sought. Had Smith only not so very recently
had his interview with the governors of the southwestern states, his
tone might not have been so conciliatory. In anticipation of that
interview and in advance of it, for it might come too late, some
Arkansans, with R.W. Johnson among them, had impressed it upon
Governor Flanagin that both Arkansas and Indian Territory were
necessary to the Confederacy. In their communication, appeared these
fatal admissions, fatal to any claim of disinterestedness:

"Negro slavery exists in the Indian Territory, and is profitable
and desirable there, affording a practical issue of the right of
expansion, for which the war began..." [July 25, 1863, _Official
Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 945].]

[Footnote 851: Only two of the tribes, entitled to a delegate in the
Confederate Congress, seem to have availed themselves of the privilege
in 1863, the (cont.)]

in May, Commissioner Scott[852] set out upon a tour of inspection,
similar to the one he had made during the days of the Pike regime. On
his way through Arkansas, he stopped at Little Rock to consult with
General Holmes and to get his bearings before venturing again among
the tribes; but Holmes was ill, too ill to attend to business,[853]
and no interview with him was likely to be deemed advisable for some
time to come. Scott had, therefore, to resume his journey without
instructions or advice from the district commander, not regrettable
from some points of view since it enabled

[Footnote 851: (cont.) Cherokee and the Choctaw, which may account
for the persistence with which, in one form or another, a measure for
filling vacancies in the Indian representation came up for discussion
or for reference [See _Journal_, vols. iii, vi]. It became law in
January, 1864 [Ibid., vol. iii, 521]. A companion measure, for
the regulation of Indian elections, had a like bearing. It became law
earlier, in May, 1863 [Ibid., 420, vi, 459]. In the _Official
Records_, fourth ser. vol. in, 1189, _footnote o_, the
statement is made that the name of Elias C. Boudinot appeared first on
the roll, January 8, 1864; but it must be erroneous, since Boudinot,
as the delegate from the Cherokee Nation, was very active in Congress
all through the year 1863. His colleague from the Choctaw Nation
was Robert M. Jones. On December 10, when Indian affairs had become
exceedingly critical, Representative Hanly moved that one of the
Indian delegates should be requested to attend the sessions of the
Committee on Indian Affairs (_Journal_, vol. vi, 520). This
proposition eventually developed into something very much more

"_Resolved_, First, That each Delegate from the several Indian
nations with whom treaties have been made and concluded by the
Confederate States of America shall have and be entitled to a seat
upon the floor of this House, may propose and introduce measures being
for the benefit of his particular nation, and be heard in respect
and regard thereto, or other matters in which his nation may be
particularly interested.

"Second. That, furthermore, it shall be the duty of the Speaker of
this House to appoint one Delegate from one of the Indian nations upon
the Committee on Indian Affairs, and the Delegate so appointed shall
have and possess all the rights and privileges of other members of
such committee, except the right to vote on questions pending before
such committee"--_Journal_, vol. vi, 529. The Speaker appointed
Boudinot to the position thus created.]

[Footnote 852: In February, upon the nomination of President Davis and
the recommendation of Secretary Seddon, Scott had been appointed to
the position of full commissioner [Ibid., vol. iii, 69].]

[Footnote 853: During the illness of Holmes, which was protracted,
Price commanded in the District of Arkansas.]

him to approach his difficult and delicate task with an open mind and
with no preconceived notions derived from Holmes's prejudices.

Scott entered the Indian Territory in July and was at once beset
with complaints and solicitations, individual and tribal. On his own
account, he made not a few discoveries. On the eighth of August he
reported[854] to Holmes upon things that have already been considered
here, defective powder, deficient artillery, and the like; but not a
word did he say about the Cooper[855] and Boudinot intrigues. It
was too early to commit himself on matters so personal and yet so
fundamental. The Indians were not so reticent. The evil influence
that Cooper had over them, due largely to the fact that he professed
himself to be interested in Indian Territory to the exclusion of
all other parts of the country, was beginning to find expression in
various communications to President Davis and others in authority.
Just how far Stand Watie was privy to Cooper's schemes and in sympathy
with them, it is impossible to say. Boudinot was Cooper's able
coadjutor, fellow conspirator, while Boudinot and Watie were relatives
and friends.

Watie's energies, especially his intellectual, were apparently being
exerted in directions far removed from the realm of selfish and petty
intrigue. He was a man of vision, of deep penetration likewise, and he
was a patriot. Personal ambition was not his besetting sin. If he
had only had real military ability and the qualities that make for
discipline and for genuine leadership

[Footnote 854: _Official Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 1097.]

[Footnote 855: On August 14, Cooper complained to Smith that Steele
had been given the place that rightfully should have been his
[Ibid., 987]. Smith looked into the matter and made his reply,
strictly non-partisan, September 1st [Ibid., 1037]. The
authorities at Richmond declared against Cooper's claims and
pretensions, yet, in no wise, did he abandon them.]

among men, he might have accomplished great things for Indian
Territory and for the Confederacy. Almost simultaneously with the
forwarding of Scott's first report to Holmes, he personally made
reports[856] and issued appeals,[857] some of which, because of their
grasp, because of their earnestness, and because of their spirit of
noble self-reliance, call for very special mention. Watie's purpose in
making and in issuing them was evidently nothing more and nothing less
than to dispel despondency and to arouse to action.

Watie's appeal may have had the effect designed but it was an effect
doomed to be counteracted almost at once. Blunt's offensive had more
of menace to the Creeks and their southern neighbors than had Steele's
defensive of hope. The amnesty to deserters,[858] that issued under
authority from Richmond on the twenty-sixth of August, even though
conditional upon a return to duty, was a confession of weakness and
it availed little when the Choctaws protested against the failure to
supply them with arms and ammunition, proper in quality and quantity,
for Smith to tell them that such things, intended to meet
treaty requirements but diverted, had been lost in the fall of
Vicksburg.[859] Had not white men been always singularly adept at
making excuses for breaking their promises to red?

In September, when everything seemed very dark for the Confederacy on
the southwestern front, desperate efforts were made to rally anew the

[Footnote 856: Watie's report to Scott, August 8, 1863 [_Official
Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 1104-1105] was full of very just
criticism, but not at all factional.]

[Footnote 857: The appeal to the Creeks, through their governor, is to
be found in _Official Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 1105-1106,
and that to the Choctaws and Chickasaws, Ibid., 1106-1107.]

[Footnote 858:--Ibid., 980.]

[Footnote 859: Smith to Principal Chief, Choctaw Nation, August 13,
1863, Ibid., 967; Bryan to Hon. R.M. Jones, September 19, 1863,
Ibid., 1021.]

Proposals[860] from Blunt were known to have reached both the Creeks
and the Choctaws and were being considered, by the one, more or less
secretly and, by the other, in open council. Israel G. Vore,[861]
who had become the agent of the Creeks and whose influence was
considerable, was called upon to neutralize the Federal advances. In a
more official way, Commissioner Scott worked with the Choctaws, among
whom there was still a strong element loyal to the Confederacy, loyal
enough, at all events, to recruit for a new regiment to fight in its

Nothing was more likely to bring reassurance to the Indians than
military activity; but military activity of any account was obviously
out of the question unless some combination of commands could be
devised, such a combination, for example, as Magruder had in mind when
he proposed that the forces of Steele, Cooper, Bankhead, and Cabell
should cooeperate to recover Forts Smith and Gibson, something more
easily said than done. It was no sooner said than brigade transfers
rendered it quite impracticable, Cabell and Bankhead both being needed
to give support to Price. In charge now of the Northern Sub-district
of Texas was Henry E. McCulloch. From him Steele felt he had a right
to expect cooeperation, since their commands were

[Footnote 860: Steele to Snead, September 11, 1863, _Official
Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 1013; Bankhead to Steele, September
15, 1863, Ibid., 1016.]

[Footnote 861: In the spring of 1863, Vore was engaged in disbursing
funds, more particularly, in paying the Indian troops [Steele to
Anderson, April 17, 1863, _Confederate Records_, chap. 2, no.
270, pp. 197-198]. In November, 1862, the Creeks had requested that
Vore be made their agent and the appointment was conferred upon him
the following May [Scott to Seddon, December 12, 1863, _Official
Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 1095]. The Creeks were inclined to
be displeased at the delay, especially as they later had no reason
to regret their choice [Moty Kanard to Davis, August 17, 1863.
Ibid., 1107]. It was Cooper, apparently, who suggested sending
up Vore to have him work upon the Creeks [Ibid., 1000].]

territorially in conjunction, and to consult with him he journeyed to

Viewed in the light of subsequent events, the journey was productive
of more evil than good. With Steele absent, the command in Indian
Territory devolved upon Cooper[863] and Cooper employed the occasion
to ingratiate himself with the Indians, to increase his influence with
them, and to undermine the man who he still insisted had supplanted
him. When Steele returned from Texas he noticed very evident signs of
insubordination. There were times when he found it almost impossible
to locate Cooper within the limits of the command or to keep in touch
with him. Cooper was displaying great activity, was making plans
to recover Fort Smith, and conducting himself generally in a very
independent way. October had, however, brought a change in the status
of Fort Smith; for General Smith had completely detached the commands
of Indian Territory and Arkansas from each other.[864] It was not to
Holmes that Steele reported thenceforth but to Smith direct. Taken in
connection with the need that soon arose, on account of the chaos in
northern Texas, for McCulloch[865] to become absorbed in home affairs,

[Footnote 862 His destination was apparently to be Shreveport, the
department headquarters [Crosby to Bankhead, September 23, 1863.
_Confederate Records_, chap. 2, no. 268. p. 251].]

[Footnote 863: Cooper's headquarters, in the interval, were to be at
Fort Washita [Ibid.,], where a company of Bass's regiment had
been placed in garrison [Duval to Cooper, July 15, 1863, Ibid.,
p. 145].]

[Footnote 864: _Official Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 1045.]

[Footnote 865: McCulloch was being greatly embarrassed by the rapid
spread of unionist sentiment and by desertions from his army. The
expedient of furloughing was restarted to. To his credit, be it said,
that no embarrassments, no dawning of the idea that he was fighting
in a failing cause, could make him forget the ordinary dictates of
humanity. His scornful repudiation of Quantrill and his methods was
characteristic of the man. For that repudiation, see, particularly,
McCulloch to Turner, October 22, 1863, Ibid., vol. xxvi. part
ii, 348.]

separation from Arkansas left Indian Territory stranded.

Fort Smith, moreover, was about to become Blunt's headquarters and it
was while he was engaged in transferring his effects from Fort Scott
to that place that the massacre of Baxter Springs occurred, Blunt
arriving upon the scene too late to prevent the murderous surprise
having its full effect. The Baxter Springs massacre was another
guerrilla outrage, perpetrated by Quantrill and his band[866] who,
their bloody work accomplished at the Federal outpost, passed on down
through the Cherokee Nation, killing outright whatever Indians or
negroes they fell in with. It was their boast that they never burdened
themselves with prisoners. The gang crossed the Arkansas about
eighteen miles above Fort Gibson[867] and arrived at Cooper's camp on
the Canadian, October twelfth.[868]

Scarcely had Blunt established his headquarters at Fort Smith,
when political influences long hostile to him, Schofield at their
head,[869] had accumulated force

[Footnote 866: Quantrill's bold dash from the Missouri to the Canadian
had been projected in a spirit of bravado, deviltry, and downright
savagery, and had undoubtedly been incited by the execution of Ewing's
notorious order, _Number Eleven_ [_Official Records_,
vol. xxii, part ii, 473]. That order, as modified by Schofield, had
authorized the depopulating of those counties of Missouri, Jackson,
Cass, Bates, and a part of Vernon, where the guerrillas were believed
to have their chief recruiting stations and where secessionist feeling
had always been dominant. It was at once retaliatory and precautionary
and on a par with the instructions for the removal of the Acadians on
the eve of the breaking out of the French and Indian War. The
banished Missourians have, however, as yet found no Longfellow
to sentimentalize over them or to idealize, in a story of
_Evangeline_, their misfortunes and their character. History has
been spared the consequent and inevitable distortion.]

[Footnote 867: Britton, _Civil War on the Border_, vol. ii, 224.]

[Footnote 868: Quantrill to Price, October 13, 1863, _Official
Records_, vol. xxii, part i, 700-701.]

[Footnote 869: In the matter of domestic politics in Kansas,
particularly as they were shaped by the excitement over the guerrilla
outrages, Schofield belonged to the party of _Moderates_, "Paw
Paws" as its members were called in derision, (cont.)]

sufficient to effect his removal. He was relieved, under Schofield's
orders of October 19, and Brigadier-general John McNeil then assumed
command of the District of the Frontier.[870] Colonel Phillips
continued in charge at Fort Gibson,[871] his presence being somewhat
of a reassurance to the Cherokees, who, appreciating Blunt's energetic
administration, regretted his recall.[872]

Had the Federal Cherokees been authoritatively apprised of the real
situation in the Indian Territory farther south, they need never have
been anxious as to the safety of Fort Gibson. Steele's situation was
peculiarly complex. As private personage and as commander he elicits
commiseration. Small and incapable was his force,[873] intriguing and
intractable were his

[Footnote 869: (cont.) and Blunt, like Lane, Wilder, and others, to
that of the _Extremists_, or _Radicals_. Of the Extremists
the "Red Legs" were the active wing, those who indulged in retaliatory
and provocative outrages. Schofield's animosity against Blunt, to
some extent richly deserved, amounted almost to a persecution. He
instituted an investigation of the District of the Frontier and it was
upon the basis of the findings of the committee of investigation that
he ordered Blunt's retirement [Schofield to Townsend, October 3, 1863,
_Official Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 595-597; Blunt to Curtis,
November 30, 1864, Ibid., vol. xli, part iv, 727-729]. For
evidence of continued animosity see the correspondence of Champion
Vaughan, Ibid., vol. xxii, part ii, 738, 742.]

[Footnote 870: _Official Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 666.]

[Footnote 871: For the condition and movements of the Indian
Brigade from November 20, 1863, to December 20, 1863, see _Daily
Conservative_, January 3, 1864.]

[Footnote 872: The resolutions, commendatory of his work, to which
Blunt refers in his letter to Curtis of November 30, were passed by
the Cherokee National Council, October 20, 1863. The text of them
is to be found, as also Chief Christie's letter of transmittal, in
_Official Records_, vol. xxxiv, part ii, 790-791.]

[Footnote 873: Steele reported that on October first he had
"Seminoles, 106; Chickasaws, 208; Creeks, 305; Choctaws, 1,024;
Choctaw militia, 200, and whites, 999" [_Official Records_, vol.
xxii, part i, 34]. Concerning the condition of his entire command,
the best understanding can be obtained from the inspection report of
Smith's assistant inspector-general, W.C. Schaumburg, [Ibid.,
part ii, 1049-1053], October 26, 1863. Schaumburg exhibits conditions
as simply deplorable, Indians poorly mounted, ignorant of drill,
destitute of suitable (cont.)]

subordinates. Of the white force Magruder[874] was doing his utmost to
deprive him, and of the Indian Steele found it next to impossible to
keep account. Insignificant as it was, it was yet scattered here,
there, and everywhere,[875] Cooper conniving at its desultory
dispersion. Instead of strengthening his superior's hands, Cooper was,
in fact, steadily weakening them and all for his own advancement. He
disparaged Steele's work, discredited it with the Indians,[876] and,
whenever possible, allowed a false construction to be put upon his
acts. In connection with the movements of the white troops, is a
case in point to be found. Rumor had it that Bankhead's brigade, now
Gano's,[877] was to be called away for coast defence. Cooper knew
perfectly well that such was not Steele's intention and yet he

[Footnote 873: (cont.) arms; posts dilapidated; and prominent
tribesmen, like Colonel Tandy Walker, indulging in petty graft,
drawing government rations for members of their families and for their
negro slaves. McCulloch was also of the opinion that conditions in
Indian Territory were pretty bad [_Official Records_, vol.
xxii, part i, 1065], and that the red men were absolutely unreliable
[Ibid., vol. xxvi, part ii, 378].]

[Footnote 874: For Magruder's insolent and overbearing attitude
towards Steele, see his correspondence in Ibid., part ii.
Magruder wanted Indian Territory attached to the District of Texas [p.
295] and was much disgusted that Gano's brigade was beyond his reach;
inasmuch as Smith himself had placed it in Indian Territory and Steele
could retain it there if he so pleased [pp. 349, 369, 371].]

[Footnote 875: _Official Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 1063,
1065, 1076, 1109.]

[Footnote 876: Cooper's influence was greatest with the Choctaws and
Chickasaws. The Choctaw wavering of which there were numerous signs
[Ibid., 1019, 1024], the disposition of the Choctaw Council
towards neutrality [Ibid., 1042, 1046], which Scott was called
upon to check [Ibid., 1030-1031], and the Choctaw complaint
about the absence or inadequacy of arms [Ibid., 1021] were all
made the most of, in order to accentuate Steele's incapacity for
his task. October 7, the Chickasaw Legislature petitioned for
the elevation of Cooper to the full command in Indian Territory
[Ibid., 1123-1124]. It was, of course, a covert attack upon

[Footnote 877: Dissatisfaction with Bankhead on the part of his men
had been the chief cause of the transfer to Richard M. Gano. Steele
had a good deal of trouble with Gano's brigade as also with Bass's
regiment [See _Confederate Records_, chap. 2, nos. 267, 268].]

the Indians to believe that it was; in order that they might with
impunity charge Steele with having violated their treaty pledges.[878]
To nothing did they hold so rigidly as to the promise that white
troops were always to support Indian.

In the role of Indian superintendent ex officio, Steele had no fewer
difficulties and perplexities than in that of military chief. The
feeding of indigents was a problem not easily solved, if solvable.
In the absence of legislative provision, Hindman had instituted the
questionable practice of furnishing relief to civilians at the cost of
the army commissary and no other course had ever been deemed expedient
by his successors. In July, 1863, Steele had ordered[879] practically
all distribution agencies to be abolished, his reason being that only
refugees,[880] Indians out of their own country, ought, in the
season of ripened and ripening crops, to need subsistence and such
subsistence, being limited in amount and derived altogether from
the army supply, could be most economically handled by the regular
commissaries. As winter approached and the necessity for feeding on a
large scale became again pronounced,

[Footnote 878: _Official Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 1063-1064,

[Footnote 879: "I am instructed by the Gen. Com'dg to direct that
you issue an order abolishing all agencies in the Indian country for
feeding 'Indigents.'

"It is thought that the crops now coming in will be sufficient to
support these people without any further drain upon Govt supplies.

"What little issues are absolutely necessary will be made by
post commissaries."--DUVAL to Lee, July 1, 1863, _Confederate
Records_, chap. 2, no. 268, p. 119.]

[Footnote 880: "I beg leave to recommend to your favorable
consideration the accompanying letter from the Hon. E.C. Boudinot. The
necessity of feeding not only the refugees, but to some extent during
the winter the other Indians, has been recognized by all commanders,
the drouth of last year having cut the crops very short. As the crops
are now maturing I have in a great measure discontinued the issue
except to refugee Cherokees and Osages, both of whom are out of their
own country ..."--STEELE to Smith, July 13, 1863, Ibid., pp.

he was disposed to keep the whole matter still under army regulations
so as to "avoid increasing competition."[881] The army exchequer could
be subsequently reimbursed when specific appropriations for Indians
should be made. Supplies of clothing had naturally to be otherwise
provided for and for those he contracted[882] in northern Texas.
Steele's whole policy with regard to the indigents was subjected to
the severest criticism;[883] for it was based upon the idea that to be
forewarned is to be forearmed. Disappointed speculators and grafters
were chief among his critics and, in spite of all his precautions,
they outwitted him. Peculation appeared on every hand, white sharpers
abounded, and Indians, relatively affluent, subsisted at government

Another source of embarrassment was developed by the application of
war measures, primarily intended for the states only, to the Indian
country. Indian property was impressed[884] as occasion arose. Very

[Footnote 881: Steele to Scott, August 7, 1863, _Confederate
Records_, pp. 179-180.]

[Footnote 882: Steele to Bryan, November 9, 1863, _Confederate
Records_, chap. 2, no. 267, p. 31. The Reserve Indians had
all along been fed by contract [Steele to Scott, August 7, 1863,
Ibid., no. 268, pp. 179-180]. In the fall, Steele renewed the
contract with Johnson and Grimes [Steele to S.A. Roberts, November 15,
1863, Ibid., no. 267, p. 37] and detailed men from his command,
from Martin's regiment, to assist in its execution [Steele to
McCulloch, November 22, 1863, Ibid., p. 41].]

[Footnote 883: The Creeks were particularly dissatisfied. They claimed
that food and raiment had been promised them, but the source of the
promises Steele was powerless to determine [Steele to Vore, November
20, 1863, Ibid., p. 39]. Indian soldiers on leave seemed to
expect their usual allowances and Cooper, although disclaiming that
he had any desire to "pander to the prejudices" of the natives, was
always to be found on their side in any contention with Steele. To all
appearances, the Indians had Cooper's support, in demanding all the
privileges and profits of regular troops and "all the latitude
of irregular, or partisan" [Steele to Cooper, November 24, 1863,
Ibid., pp. 44-45].]

[Footnote 884: Concerning the request of Steele that cotton and teams
be ordered exempt from impressment, see Steele to Bryan, November
9, 1863. _Confederate Records_, chap. 2, no. 267, p. 31. The
Choctaws had considerable cotton and the question was what was to be
done with it in case of an advance of (cont.)]

frequently was this the case in the matter of transportation
facilities, in that also of negro labor. It was Steele's opinion that
the impressment law and the grain tithe law were not operative as
against the Indians[885] but his necessities forced the practice,
and execution by the army, under his orders, only intensified Indian
opposition to him.

Indian opposition to Steele in tangible form took two directions,
one of which, the advancement of Douglas H. Cooper, has already been
frequently referred to. The other was the advancement of Stand Watie.
During the summer, Stand Watie, as chief of the Confederate Cherokees,
had authorized the formation of a Cherokee brigade,[886] the object
being, the dislodgment of the Federals from Fort Gibson and their
consequent retirement from the Cherokee country. The brigade had not
materialized; but all Stand Watie's subsequent efforts were directed
towards the accomplishment of its patriotic object. Love of country
best explains his whole military endeavor. The enemy in the Cherokee
country he harassed, the enemy elsewhere, he left for others to deal
with. Generally speaking, in consequence, the autumn months of 1863
found Watie hovering around the Arkansas, the Cherokees and their
neighbors with him, while Cooper, almost equally particularistic
because the Choctaws and Chickasaws were his main support, concerned
himself with plans for the recovery of Fort Smith.

[Footnote 884: (cont.) the enemy. Was it to be burnt and the owners
were they to be indemnified [Steele to Anderson, December 9, 1863,
_Confederate Records_, p. 68]? Steele peremptorily forbade
confiscation of Indian property and discouraged any interference "with
the duties of agents, or with the National Council or government of
the tribes" [Steele to Captain J.L. Randolph, enrolling officer, July
7, 1863, Ibid., no. 268, p. 132].]

[Footnote 885: Crosby to A.S. Cabell, October 6, 1863, Ibid.,
no. 267, p. 2.]

[Footnote 886: _Official Records_, vol. xxii, part ii, 1103.]

The fervid patriotism of one leader and the overweening personal
ambition of the other divided the Indians, then, into two camps and it
was but natural that the idea should soon evolve that Indian interests

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