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LEAVENWORTH, Kansas, May 27, 1867. SIR: I have the honor to transmit herewith a circular issued by the superintendent of the United States Express Company to their employés on the Smoky Hill route from Fort Harker to Denver City. I would call your attention particularly to the paragraph marked, viz: “If Indians come within shooting distance shoot them; show them no mercy, for they will show you none." I am credibly informed that General Hancock has issued similar orders to commandants of all posts in his district, and bas virtually declared war upon all Indians found north of the Arkansas and south of the Platte rivers.
According to existing treaty stipulations the Cheyennes, Arapahoes, and Apaches have permission to live in and roam over the country lying between these two rivers until the President orders their removal to reservations selected for them. If the government countenances these arbitrary acts of military commanders and superintendents of express companies in violating treaties, it is unreasonable to expect that the Indians will keep their part of those treaties. If this condition of affairs is permitted to exist much longer, every effort that has been made during the past two years by the civil officers of the government to promote peace and friendship among these Indians, and to prevent depredations, will have been utterly in vain; and it is but reasonable to expect that an Indian war of gigantic proportions will ensue, which will astonish the American people and cost millions of treasure.
In view of these facts, I respectfully request that you will take such immediate steps as will, in your judgment, the soonest and most effectually put a stop to these arbitrary and cruel orders. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Superintendent of Indian Affairs. Hon. N. G. TAYLOR,
Commissioner, Washington, D. C.
No. 33 A.
Office UNITED STATES EXPRESS COMPANY,
(Denver Division,) St. Louis, May 18, 1867. To Agents and Employés :
General Hancock, commanding department of the Missouri, will at once place a sufficient number of soldiers at each station, from Lookout to Lake, inclu• sive, for your and our mutual protection. You are instructed to carry their mail matter and communications from the officers and men to the several posts and commanders—to deliver them promptly and with certainty. You will also carry to the amount of two hundred pounds of rations for soldiers between stations when required ; furnish transportation for all soldiers on regular coaches on proper authority, in writing, from the commanding officers of the several posts, and will not furnish without, under any circumstances; neither encour: age nor countenance desertions in any form.
You will hold no communication with Indians whatsoever; if they wish “ talk," they must go to the regular posts. If Indians come within shooting distance, shoot them; show them no mercy, for they will showyou none. You must be watchful; when you have so many at each station, one must be constantly on guard, day and night, and at all hours. In this watchfulness you will save your stations from being fired, and can prepare yourself for any danger. You will also report to either Fort Hayes, Fort Wallace, or posts that will be established, whichever is nearest to you, all depredations as they may occur, and to your division agent, without exaggeration. General Hancock will protect you and our property, but requires, as we do, your vigilance and hearty co-operation.
W. H. COTTRILL, Superintendent.
Washington, D. C., May 30, 1867. SIR : The accompanying communication from General J. B. Sanborn, special Indian commissioner, dated Fort Laramie, May 18, 1867, is referred for your information, and is to be returned to the department for presentation to the President to-morrow, the 31st instant. If you desire it, a copy may be taken of the letter for the use of your office. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. T. OTTO, Acting Secretary. Hon. N. G. Taylor,
Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
No. 34 A.
Fort Laramie, D. T., May 18, 1867. Dear Sir: The operations of General Hancock against the Cheyenne Indians have been so disastrous to the public interests, and at the same time seem tu me to be so inhuman, that I deem it proper to communicate my views to you on the subject.
Permit me to premise by saying that I have the highest appreciation of the services and character of General Hancock and his subordinates, and shall say nothing with a view of injuring them or marring their well-earned fame, but write with the sole view of subserving the public interests.
You will recollect that my information and acquaintance with the Cheyenne tribe is somewhat extensive, having campaigned against and made treaties with them in the summer and autumn of 1865.
This tribe of Indians had been allies of the government, and had done more to make travel and transportation across the plains safe than any other class of people, up to August, 1864, when by being cursed and driven away from trains to which they had returned cattle that had been stampeded in storm, without food, presents, or compensation, which they had been accustomed to receive in such cases for many years, and by having several of their young men killed by Colorado troops because they took back a pony from a ranchman, who, in violation of law, had taken him from a drunken Indian in payment of a pint bottle of whiskey, they or some of the young men went to war.
Notwithstanding these outrages upon them, the head chiefs gathered all their people possible, bought from the hostile Indians all the captives possible, and at great expense in ponies, and proceeded to Fort Lyon and surrendered them, and offered to do anything in their power to restore friendly relations.
The commanding officer at the post guaranteed them protection, designated a place for them to camp on Sand Creek while the chiefs and young men were absent to bring in the hostile arrd procure food for their people, and gave them a United States flag to indicate their friendship and insure their protection.
While thus encamped, and at a moment of their feeling of greatest security, with a few chiefs who had always been the firm friends of the whites—some old men and many women and children present—a body of United States troops is seen by them approaching, presumed by them to be on a friendly mission, of course. White Antelope, who had made himself a servant of the whites on the plains, stepped out apparently to greet and welcome the troops. As he did so, instead of beholding friends, he saw the line halt, and in obedience to orders, preparation made to fire. He raised his hands to his face and was shot down like a dog, and the massacre of women and children commenced. Some twelve old men and about one hundred and fifty women and children were put to death by the troops. Helpless infancy and decrepit age shared the same fate. Women were scalped, disembowelled, and unseemly parts cut from their places and borne off on the pummels of saddles or bridles of horses. Some of the few captured children, after they had been carried many miles with the troops, were taken from the wagons and their brains beaten out.
This tribe is again in trouble, and how has it been brought about ? General Hancock, in his speech to the head-men on the 15th ultimo, used the following language to them, as reported in the Army and Navy Journal: “I intend not only to visit you here, but my troops will remain among you to see that the peace and safety of the plains is preserved. I am going to visit you in your camps !” It is true that there is nothing wrong in these words, in themselves considered, and there are many tribes of Indians who would have heard them with delight and hailed a visit from the troops with joy ; but to the Cheyennes these words were words of war. They could see nothing in the execution of the promise therein contained but murdered and scalped women and children, captured ponies and burned villages. There were in the tribe wives of chiefs who had not less than twelve scars of bullet wounds from shots received at Sand Creek while lying upon the ground and imploring mercy on account of their sex, and were left for dead, but came to life. How, then, does the case stand ? Is it not in this wise ?
“You Indians permitted our army to visit your villages, supposing it friendly, and we killed your women and children and old men, captured and druve away your ponies, burned your lodges. Now we are going to visit your village again, and if you do not trust us, and dare leave before our arrival, we will burn it up and wage a war of extermination against you.” Thus stands the case ; and for a mighty nation like us to be carrying on a war with a few straggling nomads, under such circumstances, is a spectacle most humiliating, an injustice unparalleled, a national crime most revolting, that must, sooner or later, bring down upon us or our posterity the judgment of Heaven.
It is true that horses have been stolen, ranches burned, and men killed, in the region in which these Indians hunt, but in what part of our country have not such crimes been committed ? and they are little, if any, more frequent in occurrence in this Indian country than in other places having the same number of people. Holding states, nations, or tribes responsible for crimes committed, has been abandoned for many years, and there seems no reason for applying that rule in this case.
But as loudly as Christianity, mercy, and humanity call for peace with a people who can be forever kept quiet with a tithe of the expense of even a small military expedition, sound policy calls still more loudly.
The whole object sought or desired to be obtained by the government in its dealings with the Indians of the plains is supposed to be safety of travel and transportation to and from the mountains. Can this result be secured by war? Reason and observation unite their voices in answering No.
He who argues that the safety of travel and transportation is secured by war, argues that a hostile country is safer for its enemies than a friendly one is for its friends. This is an absurdity. In peace alone does the traveller on the plains find safety.
But some war policy man may say, We wage war to secure permanent peace. No Indian war has ever thus resulted, and in the nature of things cannot so result; for the Indians have no permanent villages, no base of supplies, and no strategic points.
That they can be driven from their country and from the plains is true, but only after all animals upon which they subsist were so far destroyed that the Indian can no longer find food; for, adding the reason of the man to the instinct of all animals to secure their own safety from destruction by all possible means, he will, of course, be the last to be destroyed; and while life lasts, and war continues against him, he will steal the property and take the life of the whites on every favorable occasion.
War against them is, then, the most absurd, expensive and ridiculous policy. Pursuing them with a command sufficiently large, only one or two can occasionally be seen ; while with a small command, they are wont to mass and destroy it. And with a country some thousand or fifteen hundred miles square for them to roam over, unfit for settlement or occupation by civilized men, they cannot, though few in number, be destroyed in many years.
The war policy is not urged by general public sentiment of the country, but furiously urged by ranchmeu on the plains, army contractors, and some of the army officers, who in this matter, at the present time, seem to be ruled and controlled by the ranchinen and contractors.
Military posts in the Indian country, which used always to be the refuge of the peaceful Indians in time of war, in some instances now refuse to afford any protection to the innocent, and the Indians flee from them as from a pestilence.
Army officers of high grade openly proclaim their intentions to shoot down any Indian that they see, and say that they instruct their men to do likewise.
I do therefore most earnestly urge that no new wars shall be commenced. If Indians are dissatisfied, satisfy them with most liberal presents. Above all do I urge, that either your department issue a circular, or the War Department an order, defining the rights of the Indians while in their own country, and the relations sustained by them to the whites, as expressed and established by our Supreme Court, for the use of the army, whose officers seem to be all at sea on this subject.
We should easily have secured a general peace had it not been for the trouble with the Cheyennes. We may prevent general war still. Operations against the Cheyennes should immediately cease, and commissioners be sent them; otherwise our mining interests, railroad interests of the plains, and all our interests in the mountains will suffer terribly, only to gratify the whims or caprice of some men and officers who have openly proclaimed that we must have a general Indian war and an extermination of the race. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN B. SANBORN,
Laie Maj. Gen. Volunteers, Special Indian Agent. Hon. 0. H. BROWNING,
Secretary of the Interior, Washington, D. C.
OLD Fort SULLY, June 1, 1867. HONORABLE Sir: In accordance with the instructions received in the letter of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, dated 2d March, 1867, by which I was appointed special commissioner to visit all the Indian tribes on the Missouri river, both on the north and south side of it, &c., and to correspond with the
Ex. Doc. 13 -8
Indian Bureau, I have the honor and take this present opportunity to address to you the following communication :
I left St. Louis on the 12th of April, via Chicago, and hence by the Northwest railroad for Omaha. At Boonsboro' we were detained three days; the sudden melting of the snows had swollen the rivers and creeks, and the spring floods had carried off the bridges and inundated the railroad track in several parts, rendering it impassable. On the 16th the cars proceeded to Denison, a distance of 90 miles, where I hired a wagon and continued on my way to Sioux City, one hundred miles. On the 30th I took my passage on the steamer Guidon, in company with the Yancton chiefs, their companions, the Brulés and others. We arrived at the Yancton agency after six days' progress, 260 miles.
I need not dwell on the good and friendly dispositions of all the chiefs composing the various deputations, under the fostering care of their worthy agents. Their trip to Washington has had a most happy result, and bears evidence of proving very beneficial and lasting. The Yanctons, in this upper portion of the country, set the example to the other Sioux tribes. They like agriculture; they go cheerfully to work, in which they are much encouraged by their worthy agent, and their farmer, who spare no trouble to assist them in their various avocations of labor.
On the 17th of May the Big Horn, after thirty-three days' navigation from St. Louis, arrived at the Yancton agency and landed my wagon, my three animals, and the little stock of provisions for my trip.
On the 21st, I left the agency, by land, with an interpreter well recommended, the son of old Zephyr Rencontre, Mr. Joseph Picotte as assistant, very favorably known among the Indian tribes, and a half-breed horse-guard. We met several Indian bands and families, all friendly and well disposed towards the whites.
On the 26th I arrived at Fort Thompson. I found over one hundred Indian lodges encamped, chiefly of Brulés, Two Kettles and Yanctonnais. The next day I held a council with the chiefs and braves. The principal chiefs were the Iron Nation, the Iron Eyes, the Two Lances, White Hawk, the Bone Neckcloth, and the White Bear. I explained to them in full length the benign views of government in their regard, the absolute necessity of keeping aloof from the hostile bands, and to continue at peace with the whites for the security and welfare of their families. The council lasted several hours, and to all appearance had a happy effect. In their speeches and replies they made the most solemn promises to listen to the advice of their Great Father, (the President,) and remain at peace with the whites. They declared at the same time their critical situation and dread of their own people, now on the war path, from whom they receive constantly insulting and threatening menaces.
The above bands express a great desire to imitate the example of their Yancton brethren, and, like them, " to stir up the ground, to nourish their wives and children. They trust their Great Father will take pity on them and assist them in their need." I remained two days among them.
On the 29th I proceeded on my way, and arrived at old Fort Sully on the 30th. Over two hundred lodges were on the spot, consisting principally of the Two Kettle bands, Blackfeet Sioux, Brulés, Yanctonnais, Yanctons, Sans-Arcs, Minneconjoux and Ogallallas. The next day I held a long council with them, which was attended by over twenty-four chieftains. The principal chiefs were the * Great Mandan,” the man who serves as a shield; the “Fire Heart," the man who kills the first; the “ Iron Horn,” “Yellow Hawk” and “Red-tail Eagle.” Like at Thompson, I made them acquainted with the object of my visit, in accordance with the instructions I have received. All their answers and speeches were very farorable, expressing a strong determination of peace and friendship to the whites. All these portions of tribes express the greatest desire to be placed on reserves for the cultivation of the soil; and, until the fields would