Year 1876 U. S. Army Letters. Sherman and his Generals correspond before and after The Little Big Horn Fight

General of the Army, William Tecumseh Sherman instructs his generals in Dakota Territory and Wyoming from his headquarters in St. Paul.  Prior to the Little Big Horn Battle they were checking on whereabouts of Sitting Bull and other wandering Tribes.   After the Little Big Horn Battle their letters indicate their frustration in locating the aforementioned Sitting Bull.

 

Copied from Micro Spool No. 234, Roll No. 847, 1876

 

 

 

From the collection of Major A. B. Welch – 1874-1945

Written by Everett R. Cox, his grandnephew

Welch Book #14a

 

 

 

Background on this old roll of film

I acquired my Great Uncle’s “Indian” collection in the late 1950’s.  It consisted of a steamer-trunk loaded with artifacts and over 4,000 pages of unindexed interviews with old warriors, newspaper clippings, letters and photographs; all relating to oral history of Indian life in the last half of the 19th century. 

My grandfather had been taking care of him up to his death, at which point Indian friends descended upon his home in Mandan with the aim of taking back their gifts (which was apparently an accepted custom).  At this point Grandpa stuffed all he could into two steamer trunks and sent them west to my Aunt’s home in Portland.  One of the trunks was sold by Auntie to a scrap dealer (it contained weapons picked up after the fight which resulted in the death of Sitting Bull…darn).

I have been able to create over 40 booklets on subjects developed from categorizing all his material.  Buried in this data was reference to two rolls of microfilm produced in 1934 by National Archives.  It was intimated that there may be valuable data to add to his collection.  He never pursued this potential.

I ordered these two rolls in the 1960’s but did not attempt to decipher them until 2010 whcn I bought a little microfilm reader.  Then, over a period of several years, I typed these letters a few at a time.  They contain two themes; this presentation which deals with the U. S. Army’s pursuit of the Sioux in 1876, the second presentation deals with Sioux life on the Standing Rock Reservation during this same period.

 

List of Star Players on the film

General of the Army William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891), U. S. Army 1840-1884. Headquartered in St. Paul.

Lieut. General Philip H. Sheridan (1831-1888), U. S. Army 1853-1888.  Field General reporting to General Sherman.

Captain Frederick W. Benteen (1834-1898), U. S. army 1861-1888.  Reported on his involvement in the Little Big Horn Battle.

Brig General George Crook (1830-1890), U. S. Army 1852-1890.  Operating in the field under direction of General Sheridan.

Major General John Gibbon (1827-1896), U. S. Army1847-1891.  Operating in the field under direction of General Sheridan.

Major General Wesley Merrit (1836-1910), U. S. Army 1860-1900.  Operating in the field under direction of General Sheridan.

Lieut. General Nelson A. Miles (1839-1925), U. S. Army 1861-1903.  Operating in the field under direction of General Sheridan.

Major Marcus A.  Reno (1834-1889), U. S. Army 1857-1880.  Reported on his involvement in the Little Big Horn Battle.

Brig General Alfred H. Terry (1827-1890), U. S. Army 1861-1888. Operating in the field under direction of General Sheridan.

 

Highlights of Important 1876 Letters

Jan13:  About 500 lodges now at Calf’s Ear Butte on Yellowstone, 90 miles from Fort Buford.    (0231)

Jan 26:  “Do not expect much trouble from Sitting Bull until Spring as they are hunting Buffalo.     (0214)

Feb 3:  Sec of War advises Sitting Bull’s time to return to the reservation has expired.  Declares War on the hostiles.       (0218)

Feb 9Bloody Knife reports on a minor skirmish with hostiles.    (0225)

Apr 18:  Appeal from Custer City in Black Hills for relief from hostile attacks.     (0264)

May 23:  Consolidating Military Forces with General Crook.  (0180)

June 8:  1,273 lodges of Sitting Bull’s warriors on way to Powder River to fight General Crook.     (0270)

June 20General Terry prepares for a fight…directions for Reno, Custer, Gibbons.     (0301)

June 24Crook’s fight with Sioux for several hours (June 17th) on Rosebud.     (0294)

June 24:  Indians leaving Cheyenne Agency and heading north.  (0182)

July 4:  Captain Benteen’s report on the Little Big Horn fight

July 5:  Major Reno’s report on the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

July 16Crook feels that Sioux outnumber him 3 to 1.  Sioux still camped on Little Horn.     (0332)

July 20Sheridan suggests Crook and Terry unite to meet Indians who have left Red Cloud Agency.     (0329)

July 22Sheridan advises that Crook, Terry & Merrit may meet early August.  Crook anxious for meet-up as grass is dry & Indians may burn it soon.     (0335)

July 31:  1,300 warriors at Red Cloud Agency.  Crazy Horse ready to come in.     (0087)

July 31:  Report of Custer Fight by 7 Sioux Indians just returned from Hostile Camp.  Coincides with published reports.       (0388)

Aug 1Sheridan directs Sherman to take control of Sioux Agencies.      (0351)

Aug 2:  Concerns about Hostiles heading in direction of Agencies.   (0358/63)

Aug 10Sheridan advises military operations and policy to be pursued in the settlement of Sioux troubles &c.     (0426)

Aug 10Terry and Crook meet…want to keep Indians from crossing Missouri to the north         .      (0518)

Aug 18:  Scouting report of July 12…and Sibley’s fight and retreat from overwhelming odds.     (0418)

Aug 27General Terry reports on recent activities and future plans.     (0511)

Sept 1:  Treasury report on Traders supplying arms and ammunition to hostiles.     (0476)

Sept 4:  Sheridan carefully challenges the General of the Army regarding treatment of the Indian Chiefs.     (0498)

Sept 5Crook recaps recent activities…only 2 days of supplies left….everyone tired…wants to hole up in Custer City for the winter…send supplies there.    (0561)

Sept 7Sherman concerned about Crook holing up for the winter rather than pursuing Hostiles.  Tells Crook and Terry to keep pressure up.     (0491)

Sept 8Sheridan advises Sherman that Crook has called off his search for hostiles.  Sheridan is far from comfortable with this announcement.     (0532)

Sept 8Sheridan gives Crook explicit instructions to keep up fight this winter.     (0567)

Sept 11Medicine Cloud’s visit to Sitting Bull and message brought back.       (0502)

Sept 13:  Several pages of Col. Carlin’s dealings with Chief John Grass.      (0552)

Oct 21:  “Do not leave the Indians to the tender mercies of General Crook.”     (0195)

Nov 7:  “Evidently there is a war of extermination against the Indian.”       (0200)

 

 

1876 Letters on Spool No. 234 and Roll No. 258

Jan 8:  Major O. H. Moore, Commander, Ft Buford, DT, reports that a small party of Medicine Bear’s band of Yanktonais attacked Scott’s wood yard 12 miles below that post and drove off horses and mules.  One Indian killed.  No further trouble expected as this band normally disavows such raids.     (0203-0207)

Jan 10:  Transmittal of Sioux Commission funds.     (0208-0209)

Jan 13:  Pursuers killed 4 Indians (‘I saw the scalps”).  All signs point to Uncpapa Sioux under S.B. heading for S.B’s camp up the Yellowstone…located now at Calf’s Ear Butte on the Yellowstone about 90-100 air miles from Ft Buford … about 500 lodges in this camp.     (0231-0236)

Jan 17:  Re removal of certain parties from Red Cloud & Spotted Tail Agencies.     (0210-0212

Jan 21:  Transport remittance.     (0213)

Jan 23:  Belknap, Sec. of War, advises Sec. of Interior that Sitting Bull’s time to return to reservations has expired (i.e. December 31st, 1875) and that hostilities will be commenced against these Indians to compel their return.     (0218-0222)

Jan 26:  Commd’g Officer, Ft Buford report of movement of hostile Indians and has made preparations to meet an attack.  Dead Indian of 1/18/1876 report was from Sitting Bull’s warriors who have moved from Little Missouri to about 90 miles up the Yellowstone.  Do not expect much trouble until spring as they are hunting buffalo now.     (0214-0217)

Jan 26Bloody Knife feels all S.B’s bands have left Little Missouri Camps.  Running Antelope thinks the horse raiders were a Spotted Tail band.     (0237-0239)

Feb 1:  Recommendation from Sec. of Interior to Sec. of War that hostilities against the Sioux commence.     (0223-0223)

Feb 9:  Fwdng to Sec. Interior 1/15/1876 report of hostiles stealing ponies from Gros Ventres at Ft Stevenson/Ft Berthold.  Also fwdng 1/13/1876 that Bloody Knife reports that the Sioux band was overtaken and one hostile killed, most of horses recaptured ….this band was very poorly equipped, especially with old guns, some warriors on foot …  “are preparing for the worst at Ft Stevenson.”     (0225-0230)

Feb 14:  Belknap advises that S.B. info has been given to General Sherman.     (0240-0241)

Feb 15:  Sheridan has forwarded info To General Terry.     (0242-0244)

Feb 25:  Supply deliveries to Spotted Tail and Red Cloud Agencies.     (0245-0250)

Mar 31:  $36 for education, subsistence &c of James Auger, Sioux Indian boy, with very favorable comments and report card from Post Chaplain and a sample of Auger’s handwriting……(0251-0256)

May 17:  Contractor requests military escort for supply train from Ft Laramie to Red Cloud and Spotted Tail agencies.     (0257-0260)

May 23:  Various transportation issues.     (0947-0955)

May 24:  Commanding Officer Ft. Laramie directed to supply escort.     (0261-0263)

 

May 24, or so, receipt….Apr 18:  Mr. L. Chandeler,

Dear Sir

Fm: J.L. Wands, Custer City Black Hills Wyo Ter, Apr 19th 7/6    

“We are all in a bad fix the Indians are all a round us partys a comming in and going out get shot at in every direction two or three times every day someone gets kiled and they carey of their stock and leave what they dont kill to the mercy of the next gang of Indians.  Henry Metz and his wife and a black woman and a hierd man got all masucread in returning to Laramie City from this place.  As they got near Cheyenne river a  bout fifty two miles from here Mrs Metz was ravished before being kild. She got scape from the red devils and commenced running and they shot her down.  The black woman they caried her of and the same day at the end of red canyon near the same place four men was shot and kild all most every hower reports come in of partys beaing shot.  We ar hoalding meetings and devising plans for protection.  We are short of provision and we have got teames under way from Cheyenne with provishen and we don no weather they can get hear or not.  We have sent scouts to fetch them in if possibil.  We also volentears have gone out in all directions.  They are after stock that has been stole from the borders of the city and they come close in the edge of the city.  Its as bad as it was down in Memphis in the war time and worce.  Gen Crook I under stand has gone to Washington to make arrangements for relief.  Since his absence the read devils ar let looce on us.  Now for “god” sake due all you can to releave us in this out of the way tite place and you will be ever rememberd by thousands not hundreds for the hills ar full of miners and traders.  I wright this in behalf of all the citizens and the request of a number of good mercants an citizens becaus I told them I was percenley aquanted with you.

With great respect, John B. Wands and others.

In haste excuse pencil wrighting.”     (0264)

 

May 28:  Ordering Dillon off this route will cause great suffering to men in the Hills.  (i.e. the Yankton-Pierce route is much shorter than via Cheyenne).     (0269)

May 29:  Taft, Sec. of War … re: ordering Dillon off the Pierce route by Major Bingham.     (0266-0268)

June 8Hand, Indian courier, reports 1273 lodges of S.B.’s warriors on way to Powder River to fight General Crook.  On May 17 this group told Egan that they had met Custer about May 10 and had fought them all day…many killed on both sides.  Spotted Tail people are at home and that many (Indians) have left Red Cloud and other agencies on the Missouri river.  This info forwarded 6/9 by General Sheridan.     (0270-0272)

June 14:  Sec. War forwarding above info (but does not indicate recipient of Telegram).     (0273-0274)

June 15:  Dakota Governor to Sheridan (and fwded to others) … for military protection for supplies for people in Black Hills and suggesting that Yankton & Fort Pierce route should be placed on same footing as Cheyenne route.  Governor advises “I know it is unlawful for person to invade the Indian Reservations or go into the Black Hills, and I have so advised on all occasions; but if people are to be permitted to go in unmolested by the authorities, then all that is desired for this Missouri river route is that it be placed on an equality with the Cheyenne and other routes.”     (0275-0285)

June 16:  Relating to Gen’l Crook who is waiting for Indian Scouts at South Fork Tongue River. .relating to attack made on his camp June 8th which was supposed to cover movement of main body of Indians from Little Rosebud on Tongue River.     (0286-0289)

June 19:  Com’dg Officer Standing Rock stating that another 300 strong party from Red Cloud Agency have gone to attack the Rees at Fort Berthold.     (0306-0310)

 

June 20:  Sheridan fwdng Terry’s report of 12th on arrival at junction of the Powder & Yellowstone rivers, and giving intended movements of his command:  

“Camp at junction of Powder & Yellowstone Rivers at a point 24 miles above here late on the 7th inst.  No Indians east of Powder river.  Reno with 6 companies 7th Cavalry is now well up the river on his way to the forks whence he will cross to and come down Mispah Creek and thence by Pumpkin Creek to Tongue river where I expect to meet him with the rest of the cavalry fresh supplies.  I intend then if nothing new is developed to send Custer with nine companies of his regiment upon the Tongue and thence across to and down the Rosebud while the rest of the 7th will join Gibbons who will move up the Rosebud.  Have met Gibbon and concentrated movements with him.  Troops and animals in fine condition.   Signed, Alfred H. Terry, Brigadier General”     (0301-0305)

 

June 21:  Relating to a small war party of Indians from Cheyenne and Spotted Tail Agencies making their appearance at Fort A. Lincoln for the purpose of making an attack.  12 to 40 Indians appeared on the morning of 25th, fired a few shots, and disappeared.     (0315-0320)

June 22:  Relating to Sheridan stating that Crows and Snakes have joined Crook who will march on 16th inst to attack Indians reported near Otter Creek on Tongue River.     (0290-0293)

June 24:  Relating to Sheridan announcing results of Crook’s several hours of fight with Sioux on 17th … and that Terry & Gibbon have formed a junction and will resume fight where Crook left off.   “To: Sheridan, Chicago, June 19 … Fm: Crook, Camp south of Tongue River, Wyo   … Returned to camp today having marched as indicated in my last telegram.  When about 40 miles from here on Rosebud Creek, Montana, morning of 17th inst., Scouts reported Indians in vicinity and within a few minutes we are attacked in force.  The fight lasting several hours.  We went near the mouth of a deep cañon through which the creek ran.  The sides were very steep, covered with Pine and apparently impregnable.  The village supposed to be at the other end about 8 miles off.  They displayed strong force at all points, occupying so many and such covered places that it is impossible to correctly estimate their number.  Their attack, however, showed that they anticipated that they were strong enough to thoroughly defeat the command.  During the engagement I tried to throw a strong force through the cañon but I was obliged to use it elsewhere before it had gotten to the supposed location of the village.  The command finally drove the Indians back in great confusion following them several miles.  The scouts killing a good many during the retreat.  Our casualties were 9 men killed and 15 wounded Second Cavalry, 3 men wounded 4th Infantry, and Captain Henry, 3rd Cavalry, severely wounded in the face.  It is impossible to correctly estimate the losses of the Indians, many being killed in the rocks, others being gotten off before we got possession of that part of the field.  13 dead bodies being left.  We remained on the field that night and having nothing but what each man carried himself, we were obliged to return to the train to properly care for our wounded who were transported here on mule litters.

 

June 24:  (continued) are comfortable, all doing well.  I expect to find those Indians in rough places all the time.  I have now ordered 5 companies of Infantry and shall not probably make an extended movement until they arrive.  Officers and men behaved with marked gallantry during the engagement.  Crook, Brig. Gen’l.

“The movements of Gen’l Terry indicated in his dispatch of 12th that lead me to believe that he is at or near the Rosebud.  About this time he had formed a junction with Gibbon and will undoubtedly take up the fight which Crook discontinued for want of supplies and to take care of his wounded.  I communicated to Gen’l Crook by carrier from Feterman the position and instructions of Gen’l Terry.  He must have received it before this date.  Sheridan, Lieut. General”     (0294-0300)

 

July 1:  More about Sioux School boy.     (0311-0312)

 

July 4:  Captain Benteen’s report on the Little Big Horn fight from Camp, 7th Cavalry, Mouth of Big Horn and Yellowstone, to Lieut. Geo. Wallace, Adjutant 7th Cavalry:

“In obedience to verbal instructions received from you, I have the honor to report the operations of my Battalion, consisting of Companies ‘D,’ ‘H’ and ‘K’ on the 25th ultimo.”

“The directions I received from Lieutenant Colonel Custer, were to move with my command to the left, to send a well-mounted officer with about six men, who should ride rapidly to a line of bluffs about 5 miles to our left and front, with instructions to report at once to me if anything of Indians could be seen from that point.  I was to follow the movements of this detachment as rapidly as possible; 1st Lieut Gibson was the officer selected, and I followed closely with the Battalion, at times getting in advance of the detachment.  The bluffs designated were gained but nothing seen but other bluffs quite as huge and precipitous as were before me; I kept on to those, and the country was the same, there being no valley of any kind, that I could see – on any side; I had then gone about (fully) ten miles, the ground was terribly hard on the horses, so I determined to follow out the other instructions, which were, that if, in my judgment there was nothing to be seen of Indians, valley, &c in the direction I was going – to return with the battalion to the trail the command was following.  I accordingly did so, reaching the trail just in advance of the pack train.  I pushed rapidly on – soon getting out of sight of the advance train, until, reaching a morass, I halted to water the animals, which had been without water since about 8 PM of the day before.  This watering did not occasion the loss of fifteen minutes – and when I was moving out the advance of the train commenced watering from the morass.  I went at a slow trot – until I came to a burying lodge, with the dead body of an Indian within it – on a scaffold.  We did not halt; about a mile further on I met a sergeant of the regiment with orders from Lieut. Col. Custer to the officer in charge of the rear guard and train to bring it to the front with as great rapidity as was possible; another mile on I met trumpeter Martin , of my Co., with a written note from 1st Lieut W.W.Cooke, to me, which reads:-

‘Benteen, – Come on. Big village.  Be quick. Bring packs.  P.  Bring pac’s.  W.W.Cooke.’”

“I could then see no movement of any kind in any direction – a horse on the hill, riderless, being the only living thing I could see in my front.  I inquired of the trumpeter what had been done – and he informed me that the Indians had ‘skiddadled,’ abandoning the village; another mile and a half brought me in sight of the stream and plain, on which were some of our dismounted men fighting – and Indians charging and re-charging them in great numbers, the plain seemed to be alive with them.   I then noticed our men in large numbers running for the bluffs on right bank of stream.  I concluded at once that there had been repulsed – and was of the opinion, that if I crossed the ford with my battalion, that I should have had it treated in like manner for, from long experience with cavalry.  I judged there was 900 Veteran Indians, right there, at that time against which the large element of recruits in my battalion would stand no earthly chance as mounted men.  I then moved up the bluffs and reported my command to Major M.A.Reno.  I did not return for the pack train because I deemed it perfectly safe where it was and we could defend it had it been threatened from our position on the bluff – and another thing – and it seemed too much like ‘coffee cooling’ to return when I was sure a fight was progressing in the front and deeming the train as safe without me.”

“Very respectfully, F.W.Benteen, Capt. 7th Cav’y.”     (0655-0657)

 

July 5:  Major Reno’s report on the Battle of the Little Big Horn … addressed to Head qrs. 7th Regt. Cavalry Camp on Yellowstone River, July 5, 1876 to Captain E.W.Smith, Ajt. C. & A.A.A.G.:

“The command of the Regt. having devolved upon me, as the senior surviving officer from the battles of June 25th & 26th between the 7th Cavalry & Sitting Bull’s band of hostile Sioux, on the Little Big Horn River, I have the honor to submit the following report its operations from the time of leaving the main column until the command was reunited in the vicinity of the Indian village.”

“The Regt. left the camp at the mouth of the Rosebud River, after passing in review before the Dept Commander under the command of Bvt Maj Gen’l G.A. Custer, Lt Col., on the afternoon of the 22nd of June and marched up the Rosebud 12 miles and encamped; 23rd marched up the Rosebud, passing many old Indian camps and following a very large lodge pole trail, but not fresh, making 33 miles.  24th the march was continued up the Rosebud, the trail and signs freshening with every mile until we had made 28 miles and we then encamped and waited for information from the scouts; at 9:25 PM Custer called the officers and informed us that beyond a doubt the village was in the valley of the ‘Little Big Horn’ & that to reach it it was necessary to cross the divide between Rosebud and Little Big Horn, but would be impossible to do so in the daytime without discovering our march to the Indians, that we could prepare to move at 11 p.m.  This was done, the line of march turning from the Rosebud, to the right, up one of its branches, which headed near the summit of the divide.  About 2 AM of the 25th the scouts told him that he could not cross the divide before daylight.  We then made coffee & rested for three hours, at the expiration of which time the march was resumed, the divide crossed and about 8 AM the command was in the valley of one of the branches of the ‘Little Big Horn.’  By this time various Indians had been seen & it was certain that we could not surprise them & it was determined to move at once to the attack.  Previous to this no division of the Regt had been made since the order was issued on the Yellowstone, annulling Wing & Bates organizations, but Custer informed me he would assign command on the march.  I was ordered by Lt. W.W.Cooke, Adjutant, to assume command of Co’s. ‘M’, ‘A’, & ‘G’.  Captain Benteen of Co’s. ‘H’, ‘D’, & ‘K’., Custer retaining ‘C’, ‘E’, ‘F’, ‘I’ & ‘L’ under his immediate command & Co. ‘B’ MacDougall in rear of the pack train.  I assumed command of the C’s assigned to me without any definite orders, moved forward with the rest of the column & well to its left.  I saw Benteen moving further to the left & as they passed, he told me he had orders to move well to the left and sweep everything before him.  I did not see him again until about 2.30 PM.  The command moved down the creek towards with Little Big Horn valley, Custer with five Co’s on the right bank, myself & three Co’s on the left bank, and Benteen further to the left & out of sight.  As we approached a deserted village in which was standing one tepee about 11 AM Custer motioned me to cross to him, which I did and moved nearer to his column until about 12.30 AM, when Lt. Cooke, Adj, came to me & said the village was only two miles ahead & running away; “to move forward at as rapid gait as I thought prudent & to charge afterwards, & that the whole outfit would support me.”  I think those were his exact words.  I at once took a fast trot and moved down about two miles when I came to a ford of the river.  I crossed immediately and halted about ten minutes or less, together the battalion, sending word to Custer that I had everything in front of me & that they were strong.  I deployed, and with the Ree Scouts on my left, charged down the valley, driving the Indians with great ease for about 2 ½ miles; I however soon saw that I was being drawn into some trap, as they would constantly fight harder, and especially as we were nearing their village which was still standing.  Besides I could not see Custer or any other support & at the same time the very earth seemed to grow Indians & they were running towards me in swarms and from all directions.  I saw I must defend myself and give up the attack mounted, this I did, taking possession of a point of woods & which furnished near its edge, a shelter for the horses, dismounted and fought them on foot, making headway thru the wood.  I soon found myself in the near vicinity of the village, saw that I was fighting odds of at least 5 to 1 and that my only hope was to get out of the wood, where I would soon have been surrounded & gain some high ground.  I accomplished this by mounting and charging the Indians between me and the bluffs on the opposite side of the river; in this charge 1st Lieut Donald McIntosh, 2nd Lieut Ben H. Hodgson, 7th Cavalry & a.a. Surgeon J.M.DeWolf were killed.  I succeeded in reaching the top of the bluff with the loss of 3 officers & 29 enlisted men killed and 7 men wounded.  Almost at the time I reached the top mounted men were seen to be coming towards us & it proved to be Col. Benteen’s battalion, Co’s H, D & K.  We joined forces and in a short time the pack train came up.  As senior my command was the Co’s A,B,D,G,H.  Then about 380 men & the following officers..Captains Benteen, Weir, French, Dougall, Ist Lieuts Godfrey, Mathey & Gibson, 2nd Lieuts Edgerly, Wallace, Vainums & Hare & a.a. Surg Porter.  Ist Lieut DeRudio was in the dismounted fight in the woods, but having some trouble with his horse, did not join the Command in their charge out & hiding himself in the woods, joined the Command after nightfall of the 26th.”

“Still hearing nothing of Custer and with this reinforcement, I moved down the river in the junction of the village.  Keeping on the bluffs we had heard firing in that direction & knew it could only be Custer.  I moved to the summit of the highest bluff, but seeing & hearing nothing, sent Capt. Weir with his company to open communications with the other Command.  He soon sent back word by Lt. Hare that he could go no further & that the Indians were getting around him.  At this time he was keeping up a heavy fire from two skirmishes, but I at once turned everything back to the first position I had taken on the bluff & which seemed to me the best.  I dismounted the men, had the horses & mules of the pack train driven together in a depression, put the men on the crest of the hill making the depression, and had hardly done so when I was fiercely attacked.  This was about 6 PM.  We held our ground with the loss of 18 enlisted men killed & 46 wounded until the attack ceased about 9 PM.  As I knew by this time their overwhelming numbers I had given up any support from the portion of the Regt with Custer.  I had the men dig rifle pits, barricaded, with dead horses & mules and boxes of hard bread.  The opening of the depression towards the Indians in which the animals were tended and made every exertion to the ready for what I saw would be a terrific assault the next day; all this night the men were busy and the Indians holding a scalp dance underneath us in the bottom & in our hearing.”

“On the morning of the 26th I felt confident that I could hold my own, and was ready as far as I could be when at daylight about 2.30 AM I heard the crack of two rifles.  This was the beginning of a fire that I have never seen equaled.  Every rifle was handled by an expert & skilled marksman & with a range that exceeded our carbines, and it was impossible to show any part of the body before it was struck.  We could see, as the day brightened, countless hordes of them pouring up the valley from out the village & scampering over the high points toward the places designated for them by their Chiefs & which entirely surrounded our position.  They had sufficient numbers to completely encircle us & men were struck on opposite sides of the lines from where the shots were fired.  I think we were fighting all the Sioux Nation & also all the desperados, renegades, half breeds & squaw men between the Missouri & Arkansas and East of the Rocky Mts. & they must have numbered at least 2,500 warriors.  The fire did not slacken until about 9.20 AM & then we discovered that they were making a last desperate attempt & which was directed against the lines held by Co’s H & M.  In this attack they charged close enough to use their bows & arrows & one man lying dead within the lines,

was touched by the ‘Coup stick’ of one of the foremost Indian’s. When I say the stick was only 11 or 12 ft. long, some idea of the desperate and reckless fighting of these people may be understood.  This charge of theirs was gallantly repulsed by the men on that line led by Col. Benteen.  They also came close enough to send their arrows in to the line held by Co’s D & K but were driven away by a like charge of the line which I accompanied.  We now had many wounded and the question of water was vital, as from 6 PM of the previous evening until now, 10 AM, about 16 hours we had been without.  A skirmish line was formed under Col. Benteen to protect the descent of volunteers down the hill in front of his position, to reach the water.  We succeeded in getting some canteens, altho many of the men were hit in doing so.  The fury of the attack was now over & to our astonishment the Indians were now going in parties toward the village, but two solutions occurred to us from this movement, that they were going for something to eat & more ammunition (as they had been throwing arrows) or that Custer was coming.  We took advantage of this lull to fill our vessels with water and soon had it by the camp kettle full, but they continued to withdraw and all firing ceased, save occasional shots from sharpshooters sent to annoy us about the water.  About 2 PM the grass in the bottom was set on fire & followed up by Indians who encouraged its burning, and it was evident to me it was done for a purpose & which purpose I discovered later on to be the creation of a dense cloud of smoke, behind which they were packing and preparing to move their tepees.  It was between 6 & 7 PM that the village came out from behind its cloud of smoke & dust.  We had a close & good view of them as they filed away from us in the direction of Big Horn Butte, moving in about perfect military order, the length of the column was fully equal to that of a large division of the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac, as I have seen it on its march.”

“We now thought of Custer of whom nothing had been seen & nothing heard since the firing in his direction about 6 PM on the eve of the 25th & we concluded that the Indians had gotten between him & us & had driven him towards the back at the mouth of the Little Big Horn River.  The awful fate that did befall him, never occurring to any of us within the limits of possibilities.  During the night I changed my position in order to secure an unlimited supply of water & was prepared for their return, feeling sure that they would do so, as they were in such numbers, but early in the morning of the 27th & while we were on the ‘qui vive for Indians I saw with my glass a dust some distance down the valley.  There was no certainty for some time what they were but finally I satisfied myself they were Cavalry, and if so, could only be Custer, as it was ahead of the time that I understood that Gen’l Terry could be expected; before this time however I had written a communication to Gen’l Terry and 3 volunteers were to try to reach him (I had no confidence in the Indians with me & could not get them to do anything).  If this dust were Indians it was possible they could not expect any one to leave.  The men started and were told to go as near as was safe to determine if the approaching column was white men & to return at once in case they found it so, but if they were Indians, to push on to Gen’l Terry.  In a short time we saw them returning over the high bluff already alluded to.  They were accompanied by a scout who had a note from Terry to Custer, saying ‘Crow scouts had come to camp saying he had been whipped, but that it was not believed.’  I think it was about 10.20 AM that Gen’l Terry rode into my lines & the fate of Custer and his brave men was soon determined by Capt Benteen proceeding with his company to his battleground & where was recognized the following officers who were surrounded by the dead bodies of many of their men…Gen.G.A.Custer, Col. W.W.Cooke, Adjutant, Captains M.W.Keogh, G.W.Yates & T.W.Custer, 1st Lieuts W.V.Reiley of the 7th Cavalry & J.J. Crittenden 2nd Infantry, temporarily attached to this Regt.  The bodies of 1st Lieut J.E.Porter & 2nd Lieut H.W.Harrington & J.G.Sturgis, 7th Cavalry & Asst Surgn  G.W.Lord, ASA, were not recognized, but there is every reasonable probability they were killed.  It was now certain that the column of five companies with Custer had been killed.”

“The wounded in my lines, were, during the afternoon and eve of the 27th, moved to the camp of General Terry, and at 5 AM of the 28th I proceeded with the Regt to the battleground of Custer & buried 204 bodies including the following named citizens: Mr. Boston Custer, Mr. Reed (a young nephew of Gen. Custer) & Mr. Kellogg, a correspondent for the N.Y.Herald.”

“The following named citizens & Indians who were with my command were also killed:  Charles Reynolds (guide & hunter), Isaiah (colored interpreter), Bloody Knife (who fell down immediately at my side), Bob Tail Bull & Stab of the Indian scouts.”

“After following over his trail it is evident to me that Custer intended to support me by moving further down the stream & attacking the village in flank,  that he found the distance greater to the ford than he anticipated.  That he did charge but his march had taken so long, although his trail shows that he moved rapidly, that they were ready for him, that Co’s ‘C’ & ‘I’ and perhaps part of Co ‘E’ crossed to the village or attempted it at the charge & were met by a staggering fire & that they fell back to secure a position from which to defend themselves, but they were followed too closely by the Indians to permit him to form any kind of a line.  I think had the Regt gone in as a body & from the woods in which I fought, advanced on the village, that its destruction was certain, but he was fully confident they were running or he would not have turned from me.  I think (after the great number of Indians there were in the village) that the following reasons obtain for the misfortune, his rapid marching for two days & one night before the fight, attacking in the daytime at 12 n and when they were on the ‘qui vive’ instead of early in the morning, & lastly, his unfortunate division of the Regt into three commands.”

“During my fight with the Indians I had the heartiest support from officers & men, but the conspicuous services of Bvt. Col. G.W.Benteen I desire to call attention to especially, for if ever a soldier deserved recognition by his government for his distinguished service, he certainly does.  I enclose herewith his report of the operations of his battalion from the time of leaving Regt until we joined commands on the hill.  I also enclose an accurate list of casualties as far as it can be made at the present time, separating them into two lists, ‘A’ those killed in Gen’l Custer’s Command, ‘B’ those killed & wounded in the Command that I had.”

“The number of Indians killed can only be approximated, until we hear thro the Agencies.  I saw the bodies of 18 and Capt Ball, 2nd Cavalry, who made a scout of 13 miles over their trails, says that their graves were many along their line of march.  It is simply impossible that numbers of them should not be hit in the several charges they made so close to our lines.  They made their approach through the deep gulches that led from the hill tops to the river, & when the zealous care with which the Indians guard the bodies of fallen & wounded is considered it is not astonishing that their bodies were not found.  It is probable that the stores left by them & destroyed the next two days, was to make room for many of them on their travois.”

“The harrowing sight of the dead bodies crowning the height on which Custer fell & which will remain vividly in my memory until death is too recent for me not to ask the good people of this country, whether a policy that sets opposing parties in the field, armed, clothed & equipped by one and the same government should not be abolished.”

“All of which is respectfully submitted, M. A. Reno, Maj. 7th Cavalry, Comd’g Regiment.”    (0636-0654)

 

July7:  Transportation info.     (0313-0314)

July 10:  Transportation info.     (0321-0323)

 

July 16:  Telegram to Sherman via Sheridan with his and Crook’s comments: 

“My last info from Red Cloud Agency was that the Cheyenne had left to reinforce the many in my front. As this takes away all the disturbing from that section, I have availed myself of the Lieut. Gen’s permission and ordered the 8 companies of the 5th Cavalry under Col. Merritt to join me.  At this point the best info I can get from my front is that the Sioux have 3 fighting men to my one.  Although I have no doubt of my ability to whip them with my present force, the victory would likely be one barren of results, and so have though it better to defer the attack until I can get the 5th here and then end the campaign with one crushing blow.  The hostile Indians are, according to my advice, encamped on the Little Horn near base of the mountains and will probably remain there until my reinforcements come up.  Received a dispatch from Gen. Terry this morning asking me to co-operate.  I will do so to the best of my ability.     George Crook, Brig. General”     (0332-0334)

 

July 17:  More about Sioux School boy.     (0324-0328)

July 20:  Sheridan forwarding & commenting on dispatch from Gen’l Crook relative to movement against hostile Indians, dated 7/12, at his camp on Goose Creek, Wyo.  “I had already ordered Gen. Merritt to join Gen. Crook but he will be detained a few days in attempting to intercept the Indians who have left Red Cloud Agency.  I would suggest to Crook to unite with Terry and attack those Indians but I am so far away that I will have to leave them as I have done heretofore to act in their best judgment.

Sheridan, Lieut. General”     (0329-0331)

July 21:  B/L Info.     (0187-0189)

July 23:  Vandever, Cheyenne, WT, reports no agency teams have yet arrived at Sidney.  Will report when he learns of anything reliable.     (0185-01866)

 

July 23:  Sheridan telegrams to Sherman:

Sheridan writes: “General Merritt will reach Gen Crook’s camp on August 1st with 10 companies of Cavalry instead of 8 as first contemplated.  Gen Terry has moved his depot from North of Powder River to Big Horn or Rosebud and has notified me of his intention to form a junction with Crook.   Sheridan.”

Crook writes from “Headquarters Big Horn & Yellowstone Expedition, Camp on Goose Creek, Wyoming, July 16, via Fort Fetterman, Wyo., 22nd” to Sheridan:

“I send a courier today to carry duplicates of my dispatch to Gen Merritt for the originals may not have reached their destination.  I send a courier to Gen Terry tonight to inform him that I will cooperate with him & where to find me, also giving what info I have in regards to the Indians.  My intention is to move out after the hostiles as soon as Merritt gets here with 5th and shall not probably send in my other courier unless something special should be requiring me to do so.  I am getting anxious about Merrit’s ability to reach me soon as the grass is getting very dry and the Indians are liable to burn it any day.

George Crook, Brig. General.”…. (0335-0338)

 

July 25:  Dispatch from Sheridan to Sherman in regard to movements of troops, stating that 800 Cheyenne have returned to Fort Reno and are being dismounted and disarmed. 

“Send the artillery to Dept Missouri as Gen’l Pope is willing to give up 6 companies of the 4th Cavalry for the 8 companies of Artillery and 6 companies of Cavalry are much more serviceable to me at Red Cloud Agency than the Artillery.  There is no danger of Indian trouble in Pope’s Department.  The Comanches, Kiowas and Cheyennes are dissolved and dead so far as hostilities are concerned for ever.  About 800 of Cheyennes who had gone North have returned to Fort Reno and are being dismounted and disarmed.  P.H.Sheridan, Lieut Gen’l.”     (0339-0343)

 

July 28:  Orders regarding reduction of Fort Totten Mil. Res.     (0344-0346)

July 31:  Apology from Sheridan regarding his remarks about Agencies.     (0347-0350)

 

July 31:  Official report of the C.O. Standing Rock Agency giving an account of the Custer Fight of June 25, as derived from 7 Sioux Indians just returned from the hostile camp (July 21), some of whom were engaged in the battle &c, &c and C.O. apprehends attack on Standing Rock:

“The agent, of course, makes no distinction between them and the other Indians at the Agency.  We sent them word to keep quiet and say nothing.  To the other Indians he sent or delivered personally the instruction that they must not tell the military of the return of the Indians from the hostile camp, nor circulate reports of operations in the late fight.  The Indian account is as follows:

“The hostiles were celebrating their greatest of religious festivals – the Sun Dance – when runners brought news of the approach of cavalry.  The dance was suspended and a general rush (mistaken by Custer, perhaps, for a retreat) for horses, equipment and arms followed.  Major Reno first attacked the village at the south end and across the Little Big Horn.  Their narrative of Reno’s operations coincides with the published account; how he dismounted, rallied on the timber, remounted and cut his way back over the ford and up the bluffs with considerable loss; and the continuation of the fight for some little time, when runners arrived from the north end of the valley, or camp, with the news that the cavalry had attacked the north end of the same – 3 or 4 miles distant.”

“The Indians thought Reno had not before this the slightest intimation of fighting at any other point.  A force large enough to prevent Reno from assuming the offensive was left and the surplus available force flew to the other end of the camp, where, finding the Indians there successfully driving Custer before them, instead of uniting with them, they separated into two parties and moved around the flanks of his cavalry.  They report that he crossed the river, but only succeeded in reaching the edge of the Indian Camp.  After he was driven to the bluffs the fight lasted perhaps an hour.  Indians have no hours of the day, and the time cannot be given approximately.”

“They report that a small number of cavalry broke through the line and Indians in their retreat and escaped, but was overtaken with a distance of five or six miles and killed.  I infer from this that this body of retreating cavalry was probably led by the missing officers, and that they tried to escape only after Custer fell.  The last man that was killed was killed by two sons of a Santee Indian, Red Top, who was a leader in the Minnesota Massacre of ‘62 & ‘63.”

“After the battle the squaws entered the fields to plunder and mutilate the dead.  A general rejoicing was indulged in, and a distribution of arms and ammunition hurriedly made.  Then the attack on Major Reno was vigorously renewed.  Prior to this attack the Indians had lost comparatively few men, but now they say their most serious loss took place.  They gave me no ideas of numbers but say there was a great, great many.”

Sitting Bull was neither killed or personally engaged in the fight. He remained in the council tent directing operations.”

Crazy Horse (with a large band) and Blue Moon were the principal leaders on the 25th of June.”

Kill Eagle, chief of the Blackfeet at the head of some twenty lodges left this agency about the last of May. He was prominently engaged in the battle of June 25th, and afterwards upbraided Sitting Bull for not taking an active personal part in the engagement.  Kill Eagle has sent me word that he was forced into the fight; that he desires to return to the Agency; and that he will return to the agency even if he is killed for it.  He is reported actually on the way back to go to his ate (father), the agent, and make confession; to receive absolution for his defiant crime against the hands that have gratuitously fed him for three years.  He is truly a shrewd chief who must have discovered that he who fights and runs away may live to fight another day.”

“The Indians were not all engaged at any one time; heavy reserves were held to repair losses and renew attacks successfully.  The fight continued until the third day when runners, kept purposely on the lookout, hurried into camp and reported a great body of troops (General Terry’s column) advancing up the river.  Lodges having previously been prepared for a move, a retreat, in a southerly direction, followed towards and along the base of the Rosebud Mountains.  They went about 50 miles, went into camp, and held a consultation, when it was determined to send all agencies reports of their success and to call upon them to come out and share the glories that were to be expected in the future.  Wherefore we may expect an influx of overbearing and impudent Indians to urge, by force perhaps, an accession to Sitting Bull’s demands.”

“There is a general gathering in the hostile camp from each of the agencies on the Missouri River, Red Cloud and Spotted Tail’s, as also a great many northern Cheyennes and Arapahoes (lila ota – a great many).  They report for the especial benefit of their relatives here, that in the 3 fights they have had with the whites they have captured over 400 stands of arms (carbines and rifles – revolvers not counted); and ammunition without end, some sugar, coffee, bacon and hard bread.  They claim to have captured from the whites this summer over 900 horses and mules.  I suppose this includes operations against soldiers, Crow Indians and Black Hills miners.”

“The general outline of this Indian report coincides with published reports. The first attack of Reno’s began well into the day, say the Indians.  They report about 300 whites killed, they do not say how many Indians were killed.  A report from another source says the Indians obtained from Custer’s command 592 carbines and revolvers.”

“I have, since writing the above, heard of the following from the returned hostiles.  They communicated as a secret to their particular friends here the information that a large party of Sioux and Cheyenne were to leave Rosebud Mountains, or the hostile camp, for the agency to intimidate and compel the Indians here to join Sitting Bull.  And if they refused they are ordered to soldier them (beat them) and steal their ponies.”

“Of course, any resistance to their attempts by the military or the whites will provoke an attack upon the post, although that secret, or so much of it, has not been revealed to friends of the military.  I shall report any additional news received from reliable sources as soon as obtained.

Signed J.P.Poland, Captain 6th Infantry, Brevet Lieut Col.USA, commanding.”     (0388-0399)

 

Aug 1:  Sheridan’s instruction relative to occupancy of and absolute military control at the Missouri River Sioux Agencies, inviting endorsement of Sherman … which is given — take ponies and guns — be cautious at Standing Rock until reinforcements arrive.     (0351-0357)

 

Aug 2:  Telegram from Sheridan directing Captain Mix at Camp Brown to watch along the southern base of the Big Horn Mountains: 

Mix reported, “Indian scouts sent out from here report hostile Indians moving Southeast.  Traced them from about heads of Crazy Woman’s Fork to head of Little Powder River.  Number unknown but believe it to be large.  I think they are making for the agencies.”     (0358-0362)

 

Aug 4:  Sherman reports attack on quartermaster train at Elkhorn, near the Fetterman road: 

“Wagonmaster killed, one teamster wounded and 3 wagons burned.  Red Cloud’s son and others have reached the Red Cloud Agency.  They were in the Rosebud fight.  All info seems to indicate a break up of the forces in front of Terry and Crook.”     (0363-0367)

 

Aug 7:  Latest intelligence concerning Gen’l Terry and his intended movements to move camp from Big Horn to Rosebud 7/27 and form a junction with Crook if necessary.     (0368-0372)

Aug 7:  Sheridan asks for authority to sell Indian ponies (captured and surrendered) and use funds to buy cattle for the Indians (at the proper time).     (0373-0377)

Aug 8:  Sheridan reports small raiding party at Owens Ranch (on Cheyenne – Laramie road) and attack on stage near Sage Creek.     (0378-0382)

Aug 8:  Sheridan reports that as material cannot be obtained for Posts on Yellowstone valley troops will have to be hutted this winter until river rises enough for steamboat in spring.     (0383-0387)

 

Aug 10:  General Terry reports to Sheridan on his troops meeting Crooks: 

“General Crook’s column and my men met about noon today at a point on the river about thirty or thirty-five miles above its mouth.  The Indians have moved towards Tongue River.  General Crooks’s and my troops will follow tomorrow morning taking 15 days supplies on pack mules and send Col. Miles with his battalion of the fifth back to the mouth of the river, there to take the steamer and patrol from the Tongue to the Powder so as to interrupt the Indians should they try to cross & to bring us supplies at whatever point we may touch the Yellowstone.  I send my train of wagons back to the depot.  Miles leaves this morning.”     (0518-0523)

 

Aug 10:  Sheridan writes relative to military operations and policy to be pursued in the settlement of Sioux troubles &c.:

“My Dear General Sherman:  Col. Forsyth returned this morning from Gen. Terry’s depot at the mouth of the Little Rosebud River.  His command was in excellent spirits and he has with him a force, in the aggregate, of about 2000 men.  The impression still exists that the Indians will make a stand.  I hope this may prove true but I do not indulge in it to any great extent.  Indians seldom stand when the force is able to defeat them.”

“The settlement of the Sioux troubles, while it undoubtedly will be accelerated by a successful battle can only be accomplished by what is known as running them down.  A successful battle would cause them to scatter but they will scatter anyway because no large body of Indians, especially encumbered by their villages, can keep together and feed for any length of time when we get fairly on the offensive.”

“There is then but one solution to this trouble, and that is the occupation of the game country of the Yellowstone Valley and the control of the agencies from whence most of the hostiles came.  Our duty will be to occupy the game country and make it dangerous, and when they are obliged, from constant harassment and hunger, to come in and surrender, we then can disarm, dismount and punish them at the agencies, as was done with the southern Indians in the last campaign against them.”

“It is to this end that I have been working since hostilities commenced, but it seems necessary that some disaster should occur, before the authority for the accomplishments of this purpose, namely, the establishment of the posts and the controls of the Indians at the agencies could be obtained.  These authorizations, unfortunately, came too late in both cases, but we will do the best we can notwithstanding.”

“I have been afraid from the start that we would have to meet the power of nearly all the Sioux nation, and am not certain that we will not have to do it yet, and therefore, have been strengthening the force at the agencies as well as we could so as to be able to enforce our own terms.  We need not be in a great hurry about it because the nearer it is to winter when the issue on this point is made, namely, of dismounting and disarming, the less resistance is liable to be made by those staying in, but will probably oppose the punishment to be given to those who were out.”

“Failing to build the posts on the Yellowstone on account of the lateness of the season when the authority was given and the consequential fall of the Yellowstone River, we will do the next best thing we can; make a containment on the Tongue River for two regiments, one of infantry, the other of cavalry.  I think it more than probable that we will also occupy some point near the old Fort Kearney, on the lower line, in which case the hostiles will have to give up and go to the agencies or go north towards the British Possessions to Milk River. The 500 lodges who composed the anti-agency Indians will undoubtedly go there, but I think the majority of the agency Indians will surrender before spring.”

“I have never looked on any decisive battle with these Indians as a settlement of the trouble, and, in fact, I have never expected any decisive battle at all.  Indians do not fight such battles, they only fight boldly when they have the advantage, as in the Custer case, or to cover the movement of their women and children, as in the case of Crook on June 17th, but Indians have scarcely ever been severely punished unless by adopting their own mode of warfare or tactics, and stealing on them.”

“I consider everything as going on as well as can be expected, and will ask your firm support when the time comes for disarming, dismounting and punishing the ringleaders at the agencies when they come in.”

“I shall probably make the issue at the Red Cloud Agency first.”     (0426-0432)

 

Aug 11:  Sheridan reporting dispatch of General Crook’s command and that hostile Indians have left foot of Big Horn and moved in direction of Rosebud.and that General Merritt has joined him with his command and that he intends tomorrow to move toward Tongue River as supposed direction of the Hostiles.     (0400-0406)

Aug 17:  Sheridan passes rumour from Cheyenne Agency that General Terry had an engagement with the Indians.  Sheridan doubts rumour brought by Indians coming into Spotted Tail Agency.      (0407-0412)

Aug 17:  Dispatch from Sheridan stating that artillery from San Francisco and & 14th Infantry will go to Red Cloud & 11th Infantry to Cheyenne and Standing Rock. I will have at each agency 9 or 10 companies of infantry.  This force at the agencies will have to remain the whole of the winter.     (0413-0417)

 

Aug 17:  Lieut Pinkney Lugenbeel, 1st Infantry, Special Inspector of the Agencies reported from Standing Rock reports:

“…I found your telegram relieving me from supervision of this agency.  So soon as I can obtain transportation, I will proceed to Cheyenne Agency to remain there long enough to make a thorough inspection of that Agency.  In coming up the river I remained long enough to see the commanding officer and also the new agent and to ascertain, that very few, if any hostile Indians belonged to the agency, at Lower Brule, and everything was quiet.  At Cheyenne Agency everything was in confusion, caused by the falling in of the river bank, and the necessity of rebuilding the Agency and post on higher ground not subject to overflow.  From all I could learn there I should think that some 400 men had left that agency to join the hostiles.”     (0465-0469)

 

Aug 18:  Vandever asks authorities be instructed to furnish him with transportation from end of RR to Red Cloud & Spotted Tail Agency & return.       (0190-0192)

 

Aug 18:  Sibley’s very special reconnaissance:

Report of 7/12 of a scout made from camp near Cloud Peak under command of Lieut. Sibley to Asst. Adj. General, Big Horn & Yellowstone Expedition:  “In obedience to verbal received from the General commanding I have the honor to include the following report of the scouting party under my command which left here Thursday noon July 6th, in obedience to orders received from the General commanding.  My party consisted of 25 picked men and horses, a non-com officer and 4 privates being detailed from each of the companies of the 2nd Cavalry, in addition to this detail 2 guides, Frank and Baptiste, one packer and Mr. Finnerty, (the last two volunteers) accompanied my party making in all 30 in the party.  After leaving this camp I took the old C. T. Smith road, and followed as far as the crossing of Tongue River.  On reaching Goose Creek we halted until sundown when we made a day camp.  At day break we moved on in a NW direction keeping in the foothills.  After travelling  about 4 miles the scout, Frank, discovered  a large war party of Sioux Indians about 3 miles to the north and moving in our direction.  We immediately turned back toward the foothills but had only gone about 2 miles when we found it impossible to continue the march without being seen.”

“I then concealed the men and horses and watched the Indians for about half an hour when I found that they had discovered our trail.  They covered the country as far as could be seen.  I estimated them at about 400 but was told by the guide, who was more competent to judge of their number than myself, that there must have been nearly 1,000.  So as soon as I knew they had discovered our trail I took up the mountainside and having gained the summit and took a NW direction until I struck a large Indian band which I followed for about 6 miles in a western direction.  The horses being much fatigued I halted  for about half an hour, and then resumed the march, taking a trail which led south along a thinly wooded tableland, shortly after which I discovered Indians to our rear and our right.  We then took the left which we kept for half an hour, when on running out into the open with a hill about 200 yds on our right and a heavy wood on our left, we were fired into by sixty to one hundred Indians, who after firing one volley, charged   down the hill firing, their place being taken by dismounted men who fired over their heads into us.  We immediately took to the woods on our left and tying the horses to the trees continued returning fire.  Two or three horses, but no men, were hit by the volleys.”

“We held our position and fought the Indians for about 2 hours but could see that they were continually receiving reinforcements and if we remained they would finally completely overcome us.  They had found where our horses were and had wounded several.  At about 1 p.m., I called the guides and we decided the only way we could save the men was to abandon the horses and take the heavily wooded mountain.”

“I then had the men take ammunition from their saddle packets in detail the remainder keeping up the firing.  I allowed them to take nothing else as I considered that would be all they could carry and thought I could make camp in 24 hours.  Shortly after 1 p.m. we left the horses and, having gone about half a mile, I heard two long volleys and as far as we could tell they still kept up a random firing  and must have killed or wounded most of  the horses.  We traveled all day and most of the night keeping in the most wooded and broken country we could find and towards morning camped near one of the forks of the Tongue River.  At daybreak we resumed the march running out into the eastern slope of the mountains for about 3 miles when we discovered another war party of Indians amounting to about 40 moving in the direction of this camp.  We concealed ourselves and they passed without seeing us.  We remained there until sundown and then resumed the march, arriving at Goose Creek about 11 p.m. which we found great difficulty in crossing on account of its depth and swiftness and also on account of the exhausted condition of the men.  Two of our men refused to cross.  I remained there about an hour and tried by the aid of poles, and by having several men join hands across the creek, to get them to attempt the crossing, but they refused to go in over ankle depth, and this being the only crossing within several miles I had to have them concealed in the brush and push on knowing we were but a short distance from camp and that help would be sent immediately upon our arrival.”

“Being very much exhausted we had to travel slowly, taking many rests and did not arrive in camp until 11 a.m., July 9th, having traveled nearly 50 miles from the place we first saw the Indians and about 40 miles of that distance on foot with nothing to eat and through very rough country.”

“When about 3 miles from camp we met a hunting party of 3 men, I sent one back so help could be sent to the two men necessarily left on Goose Creek, which was done immediately and they arrived at 3 p.m.”

“The men under my command all acted with the greatest coolness, and bravery throughout, but I would like to call particular attention to the two guides, Frank and Baptiste, without them I don’t think any of the party would have escaped.”

Endorsement by General Crook:  “The coolness and judgement displayed by Lieutenant Sibley and Frank Girard, the guide, in the conduct of this reconnaissance, made in the face of the whole force of the enemy are deserving of my warmest acknowledgements.  Lieut. Sibley, although one of the youngest officers in this department, has shown a gallantry that is an honor to himself and the service.  I also take occasion to express my appreciation to the guides, Frank Girard and Baptiste Poussier, Bechtel and John T. Finerty (citizen volunteers) and to the small detachment of picked men from the 2nd Cavalry for their cheerful endorsement of the hardship and perils particularly dangerous duty involves.”     (0418-0425)

 

Aug 19:  Sherman advises: “I am also satisfied that General Miles has been detached to patrol the Yellowstone so as to prevent the Indians from crossing to the north, and thus enable Generals Terry and Crooks to come up with them near the mouths of the Tongue or Powder  Rivers.  I look for the best to result very soon.”     (0436-0437)

Aug 22:  Lower Brule agent refuses to certify receipt of rations until orders come from Indian Affairs.  No rations since March to about 900 Indians there.     (0438-0442)

Aug 23:  Col. Carlin reporting that hostiles had arrived at Standing Rock, reporting a fight north of the Black Hills.  Numerous Indians killed & village destroyed.  He does not take much stock in these reports.     (0443-0446)

 

Aug 23:  Sheridan reporting that he has no news from Terry or Crook, but that newspaper reports of their juncture are correct ……0433-0435

Aug 25:  Sherman and Sheridan agree with Sec. Interior that military at Red Cloud and Spotted Tail agencies report non-military matters to Commission of Indian Affairs to save time.     (0447-0455)

 

Aug 27:  General Terry reports to Sheridan on recent operations and future plans: 

“We were detained at the mouth of the Powder a day longer than I anticipated by the low stage of water in the Yellowstone.  The steamer had great trouble at Buffalo Rapids.  Day before yesterday we started up the Powder and at the end of the day’s march had gotten on the Indian trail when I received dispatches informing that the steamer, Yellowstone, had been fired upon yesterday morning.  I learned that Indians had been seen at the depot at the mouth of the Powder after the column left and that a signal fire had been kindled on the left bank night before last, these indications coupled with information previously received from the Commanding Officer at Glendive satisfied me that if the Indians had not already crossed the Yellowstone below us they have only been waiting to see which route the troops would follow in order to take the other side of the river from them.  I therefore determined to throw my own column to the left bank.  The troops marched yesterday to a point on the Yellowstone a mile or two above O’Fallon’s Creek.  They will be across the river by now, and we should make a short march this afternoon.  We shall strike inland and try to reach the trail leading from the lower fords to the head of Dry Fork.  If a large body of Indians have recently passed over it to the west we shall follow them, otherwise we will move toward the east.  General Crook continues on the trail leading east from the Powder, it will lead him, I think, towards Glendive Creek lower down the Yellowstone.  I think that it is beyond question that the Indians that were on the Little Big and Big Horn Mountains have not kept together and that the Agency Indians would not follow Sitting Bull’s people to the North of the Yellowstone but whether this be true or not each column is abundantly able to take care of itself, and the double movement on the right and left banks of the river, I think, is the only one which gives any promise of success.  Sitting Bull’s people are nucleus of the whole hostile force and I think it of the greatest importance to follow them.  Your dispatch in regard to the Tongue River Post was received yesterday and Lieut. Col Whistler, with two companies of his regiment, has gone above Powder River on the steamer Stephanie but it is very doubtful that he can get up Buffalo Rapids.  In case he cannot he will be obliged to land at their foot, carry on his stores by wagon.  I have authorized him to draw twenty wagons from the Powder River depot if necessary.  It is doubtful whether any other loaded boats can pass Wolf Rapids this season.  I have therefore directed the Far West to remain above (sic, must mean ‘below’) these rapids and stores going above will be carried around them by wagons.”     (0511-0517)

 

Sept 6:  General Crook writes to General Sheridan from Headquarters  Big Horn & Yellowstone Expedition, camp at head of Hart River, D.T.:

“On the 25th of August I left the Powder River on the trail of the Indians that we had followed down from the Rosebud.  General 

Terry going north of the Yellowstone to intercept the trail of any Indians taking that direction.  My column followed this trail down Beaver Creek to a point opposite Sentinel Buttes, where the Indians scattered, and deluging rains to which we have been exposed during the past week have so obliterated their trails as to make it very difficult and laborious to work up the case.  But undoubtedly a very large majority of the trails led over to the Little Missouri, going in the direction of the Black Hills, the separation taking place, apparently, about 12 days ago.  I have every reason to believe that all the Hostile Indians left the Big Horn, Tongue and Powder country in the village the trail of which we followed.  This village was very compact and arranged in regular order of seven circles of lodges covering an area of 2,000 acres.  With the exception of a few lodges that had stolen towards the agencies, there was no change in the arrangement or size of the village until it disintegrated.  All indication show that the hostile Indians were much straitened for food, and that they are now travelling in small bands, scouting the country for small game.  I feel satisfied that if they can be prevented from getting ammunition or supplies from the agencies, a large majority of them will surrender soon.  I have with me only about two days provisions but shall push out for the Black Hills to try to reach there in advance of the hostiles, or as soon as they do, scouting the country on the march as thoroughly as the circumstances will admit.”

“We have traveled over 400 miles since leaving our wagon-train; our animals are now much jaded and many of them have given out, while our men begin to manifest symptoms of scorbutic affections.”

“As things look now Custer City will probably be the base to operate from.  I would like to have 200,000 pounds of grain sent there at once, together with 20 days full rations of vegetables for the men.”

“I would also like to have 2 companies of cavalry sent across the country from Red Cloud, via Pumpkin Buttes, and by forced march to escort my wagon train from the dry fork of Powder River by the miner’s road to Deadwood City in the Black Hills, so as to get it there with all possible dispatch.”

“I make these requests of you since I have not heard anything reliable from the outside world since your telegram of July 25th, and do not know what changes may have transpired to modify the disposition of troops in my department.”       (0561-0566)

 

Aug 30:  Various receipts for deliveries to Red Cloud and Spotted Tail agencies.     (0456-0459)

Aug 30:  Terry and Crook at mouth of Powder River August 17th following trail of hostile Indians in direction of Little Missouri River.     (0460-0464)

Aug 31:  More about Lower Brule Agent and issuing of supplies.     (0470-0475)

 

Sept 1:  Treasury Agent report that Powers & Co. were supplying arms and ammunition to the hostile Sioux:  T.C.Powers reports …

“With reference to shipping arms and ammunition, I have shipped as many as reported by General Gibbon and more, too, as we have several stores to supply out in the Indian country, but for the use of whites in which we carry as a general merchandising business.  We are also proprietors of freight lines to and throughout Montana Territory, also a Border Line through Montana Territory into the British Possessions, which require the use of several mule and ox trains for the transportation of supplies, to the different consignees.  At least 100,000 pounds of ammunition are required during the season for the protection of the trains in passing through the Indian country. The Herald Correspondent appears to make us responsible for all the ammunition trade on the Missouri River, when no investigation at the Interior Department when licenses and permits to trade with Indians are granted, it may be seen that we are not trading with the Sioux’s, or any hostile Indians at all, at any point.  On the contrary it can be shown that we have only license for the Crow’s, Gros Ventres and Piegan Indians, the hereditary enemies of the Sioux, and allies and friends of our government.  I will further state (and if not on record, should be), that permits were granted by the Indian Department, to other parties to trade ammunition with Sioux Indians, for which we get the blame.  For proof of the above we now ask a thorough examination and investigation, so as to let the ax fall on those who merit it.  I will state and so inform General Gibbon, that should it be considered necessary, we are ready and willing to turn over to the military all arms and ammunition on hand and for sale, provided the order is general, and that all will be treated alike, as we alone do not sell directly or indirectly one fourth the arms and ammunition shipped to Montana.  And in conclusion we consider ourselves responsible for all business transactions and have given bonds for the faithful carrying out of the intercourse law in the Indian Country.”

Treasury Agent comments as follows:  “I am of the opinion that this firm are shipping large quantities of arms and ammunition into that country, more than is required for the use of the whites.  They admit it but claim that they do not sell to the Indians, but sell all that they can at a profit as any merchant would sell all the sugar and tobacco he could find customers for.  Mr. P refers me to some of our best merchants, as to his character and standing.  I have called on them and find them out of the city.     (0476-0483)

 

Sept 2:  Dispatch to Adjutant General, Department of the Platte from Col. MacKenzie about the stampede of Indians at Camp Robinson:

“I have the honor to inform you that there was a stampede of Indians here night before last on account of the arrest of one of the Indians by the soldiers under Major Gordon and the killing of another by the attempt to arrest him by a very good Ogalalla Chief called American Horse.  The next night with no reason a great many got frightened and ran away, but most of them have gotten over it and returned.”

“I have explained to all the principal Chiefs that they must arrest bad Indians and give them to Captain Jordan with their guns and horses because the authorities have concluded that it was important not to feed those who were half the time employed in killing white men and stealing horses.”

“It is said by all the people best informed here with whom I have talked, that at least half and probably much more than half of the men who belong at this Agency, have been away fighting Generals Crook and Terry, indeed that half are still away.  Only 4,760 Indians of all kinds are here.  Two more men of the same family (as that of the one killed) I wished arrested for murder, robbery and rape of white women but they could not be found.  I have told the other Indians they must catch them, and if they resisted arrest, to fire on them.  I do not know whether they will do it or not, but I hope so, as it will save us trouble. (signed) R. S. MacKenzie, Colonel 4th Cavalry, Commanding.     (0570-0575)

 

Sept 2:  Sheridan reporting fight with Indians north of Black Hills about August 12th, where they get their ammunition.  Indians killed and soldiers also killed. Also that “Kill Eagle’ is receiving rations from members of his band residing at S. Rock Agency.     (0484-0490)

 

 Sept 4:  Sheridan carefully challenges the General of the Army with his 8/25 opinion of proposition of certain Indian Chiefs at Cheyenne Agency made through Rev. R.A.B.Ffennel:

“Respectfully returned to the General of the Army.  This is an Indian diplomatic dodge.  I beg of them of the Indian Department and the General of the Army to hold on the original order, in reference to disarming and dismounting the hostiles, otherwise we will have difficulties for years.  I ask the General of the Army to consider the trouble and expense we have been at by an accumulation of troops at the agencies to put ourselves in a position to break down the turbulent spirits of the Sioux; then to throw the opportunity away on a diplomatic dodge like the one proposed would be inexcusable.  I respectfully request as a part of fair justice to the General of the Army, to myself and to the Department Commander, that the agent be directed to refuse to entertain any proposition whatever of this kind.  If any at all be entertained it should be through the commander of the troops at the agencies, and not the agent.”     (0498-0501)

 

Sept 7:  Sherman to Sheridan on the interpretation to be given to the instructions to General Crook relative to establishment of a winter cantonment at Goose Creek:

“I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your two telegrams of instruction to General Crook of dates respectively Aug 20 and Aug 23rd.  While it is eminently proper to forsee and prepare in advance as much as possible for the coming winter, I feel these instructions may be construed by General Crook as a warrant for his ceasing to pursue the hostile Indians to the bitter ends.  I admit that in case the troops under Generals Terry and Crook cannot overtake and strike these hostile Indians a fatal blow it will be necessary for us to be prepared to winter strong garrisons on the Yellowstone and in the regions of the Big Horn Mountains; but I still indulge the hope that these officers with their combined forces may overtake and destroy that part of the Indians recently assembled in the valley of the Big Horn, known as the “Outtawa,”  who have never been at the agencies, and who have heretofore defied our authority civil & military and I trust that they are now engaged in their pursuit even if compelled to subsist on their own mules and horses.  The greater the difficulty the greater the necessity at this moment, because of the fact that we are now better prepared than we can possibly expect to be at any future time.  Still, if this be impossible and we are forced to take the Indians in detail, the occupation of the Yellowstone and Big Horn Mountains is the next best course.  Then I approve your proposed cantonment near the mouths of Tongue River, provided it be one of the two permanent forts planned for the Yellowstone valley, and that the money expended on the proposed cantonment be as far as practicable expended so as to be useful for the permanent fort.”

“In selecting the site near the Big Horn Mountains it seems to me Old Fort Kearney or one of the branches of Goose Creek will be preferable to Fort Reno.  Even if you have to partially reconstruct old Fort Reno, and picket it with a smaller garrison somewhat in the nature of the old line of travel known as the Bozeman Route given up by the Peace Commission of 1868.  Generals Augus, Terry and I were at the time strongly opposed to giving up that road.  It was strongly insisted on by the Indians because travel scattered or destroyed the game on which they in a measure depend on, and on the final vote of the Commission, composed mostly of civilians, who wanted to make a treaty, reinforced by General Harney, one of the commissioners, we were outvoted.  That route will probably have to be reopened, but it will be time enough to discuss this after the action of the present Peace Commission, which has gone out in hopes to modify the Treaty of 1868, and to remove the Sioux nation either down to the Indian Territory south of Kansas, or nearer to the Missouri River.”

“I trust your instructions to Generals Terry and Crook will encourage them to push their operations against Sitting Bull and his confederates til Christmas or until winter compels them absolutely to seek shelter which should be meantime provided by others.”

I am with great respect, Yours truly, W.O.Sherman, General.     (0491-0497)

 

Sept 8:  Sheridan advises Sherman that Crook has called off his search for the hostiles.  Sheridan is far from comfortable with this announcement:

“General Crook communicates with me from headquarters of Hart River (Sept 5th) that trail he had followed had scattered until it could not be pursued any further.   He says he has provisions for 10 days and will strike in for Custer City in the Black Hills where he wants supplies sent to him.

I am a little sorry he did not go back on his old trail to his old camp where it seems all the orders and directions about hutting of a portion of his command have been kept instead of having been sent to him.  This damages and embarrasses arrangements already made for General Crook for the winter but I will endeavor to make such modifications as will still carry out the original programme.

12 Indians came in yesterday to Cheyenne Agency to ask for terms for the hostiles.  They were disarmed and made prisoner and word sent out to the hostiles that they could come in on those terms.  The indications here and at Standing  Rock are that there will soon be a large surrender.”     (0532-0537)

 

Sept 8:  Sheridan replies to Crook’s plans as presented in the foregoing telegram from Headquarters Military Division of the Missouri to Colonel Robert Williams, Omaha, Nebraska:

“Send the following to General Crook, care of Commanding Officer, Fort Laramie and instruct the latter to send it to General Crook at Custer City, or wherever he may be found, by special messenger: R. C. Drum, A..A.G.”

“General George Crook.  I have just this moment received your dispatch of September 5th.  As it have been resolved upon you to hold the Yellowstone and Powder River country, directions had been sent on August 17th to you to form a cantonment at Old Fort Reno or Goose Creek for 1,000 men for the winter and to General Terry to for a cantonment for 1,500 men at Tongue River.  These instructions I presume have not reached you, but it will be necessary to carry them out.”

“We cannot abandon the Powder River country or else the Indians will go back there, instead of surrendering at the agencies, as they are now commencing to do.  I have therefore only ordered 50,000 pounds of grain and 10 days supply for your whole Command, to be sent to Custer City, which amounts can be doubled if the quartermaster’s department can take them out and I think it would be well to bring most of your Command into Laramie where we could readjust, sending out to the cantonment and letting the tired units with you take their places.  I have now on the way to Fetterman all the supplies for the cantonments and will make arrangements to bring in Fury’s train to Fetterman.”

“I want you to come into Laramie as quickly as possible after you get to Custer City.  I will meet you there for consultation.  The cavalry companies have been increased to 100 men and most of the men are recruited and many of the horses purchased.  The garrisons at all the agencies have been made very strong, and everything is going as well as could be expected.  I do not consider Custer City a good place to operate from for the winter.  You may, if you think best, leave a few troops there until I see you.   (Signed) P. H. Sheridan, Lieut. General       (0567-0569)

 

Sept 9:  Sheridan concurs with directive that no further army stores will be distributed to the Indians after the 15th of this month.     (0545-0548)

Sept 9:  Argument about goods receipted for by Sioux Commission delegation and now payment is refused by Indian Office.     (0549-0551

Sept 11:  Lt. Col. Carlin states that 8/22 report of a hostile Indian that hostiles had been defeated by troops north of the Black Hills, is supposed to refer to one of the numerous affairs between Indians and immigrants to the Black Hills.     (0524-0528)

Sept 11:  Signal Operator at Fort Sully, who has been sending out false reports, will be replaced as soon as a regular observer can be hired.     (0529-0531)

 

Sept 11:  General Terry, reports to Sherman from Fort Buford, his ordering Maj. Reno and Maj. Moore after hostile Indians who appeared at Wolf Point:     (0593-0596)

“I arrived here on the on the 7th instant.  On the 9th information reached me that a considerable body of hostile Sioux had appeared at Wolf Point, about 85 miles above Buford.  I therefore directed Major Reno, 4th Cavalry, with his own regiment, and Major Moore’s battalion of the 6th Infantry, to march from his position on the Yellowstone.  I go up the river today to meet him.  (signed) Alfred H. Terry, Brigadier General.

 

Sept 11:  Sheridan endorses statement of Fort Peck Agent, based on report of Medicine Cloud rel. to ammunition  “being furnished” Sitting Bull from “Burning Ground” beyond Black Hills: 

“Mr. Mitchell says, that on the 26th day of May, he sent Medicine Cloud to Sitting Bull’s camp with a message inviting Sitting Bull to come into the agency.  Medicine Cloud returned on the 1st of August and reported that he had left the hostile camp, then in camp on White Ridge on Tongue River on the 27th of July.  That he delivered his message to Sitting Bull and was informed that a council would be held and a message agreed upon to return to Fort Peck.  He was then commanded not to leave the camp until such message was delivered to him.  He said he had three of his own horses with him at the time of Custer’s fight, that he took no part in it, but saw it; that it lasted but a short time, except on the hill, where it lasted a long time.  His statement of the number of white men killed agrees with the official reports but he reports only 31 Indians killed; that none of the 9 dead Indians found in the tent were chiefs.  His estimate of the Indian village is as follows:  From 4000 to 8000 lodges of men, women and children from 35,000 to 40,000.  Of these are from 8,000 to 10,000 warriors.  In length the village would reach from Fort Peck to Milk River (13 miles).  (C.O. Hazen’s note alongside of this report = “This is a gross exaggeration”).  The night before leaving the hostile camp a council was held.  He was sent for and was present, Sitting Bull spoke first, and to the effect that he was tired of war and desired peace, that he would come to the agent at Fort Peck in the early fall; in any event before the snow flies; that they did not intend to, nor would they fight, except when they were forced, or their rights trampled on.  That the war commenced with the tribes in Minnesota, that these Indians had been driven back on his people, and that all had been compelled to fight in order to defend themselves.  Black Moon, Four Horns, Crazy Horse and one other prominent chief made speeches of like purport, all being anxious of peace.  The speech of Sitting Bull was then agreed upon as a message to be sent to the agent at Fort Peck.  He further reported that, after the fight, the Blackfoot Indians became anxious to leave the camp and tried to buy off by making presents of horses, &c.  Their presents were accepted but they were forbidden to leave.  While at the camp of the Indians were constantly receiving supplies of ammunition from a place called the ‘Burning Grounds’ beyond the Black Hills on White River (beyond meaning on the side most distant from Fort Peck).  The main camp was kept together and large hunting parties were sent out after game.  Meat, however, becoming very scarce in the camp.  Mr. Mitchell states that Medicine Cloud brought in with him one horse branded ‘U.S.’ on the left shoulder and ‘E 7’ on the left hip.  He had with him also one pistol, a surgeon’s pocket case, and two five dollar bills one of which had on it a large blood stain. Medicine Cloud stated that he traded one of his horses and his gun, for the plunder.  At the same time that Medicine Cloud left on his mission, six other young Indians left the Agency, without permission, 5 were Yanktonaise and one was an Unkpapa.  A few days before Medicine Cloud returned, two of these Indians returned and reported that the Unkpapa had been killed and that they had escaped from the hostile camp; that Medicine Cloud and those others had tried to escape but had been caught and taken back.  In all essential features the reports of these Indians corroborate the report of Medicine Cloud.  Upon inquiry made among others (employees at Fort Peck) I learned that those who best know Medicine Cloud place full faith in his report except as to his denial about being in the fight, and to the numbers given.  His mind, like that of the average Indian, cannot comprehend numbers above 1,000; beyond that, all is random. “    (0502-0510)

 

Sept 12:  Various receipts for beef cattle delivered to Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Agencies.     0538-0544)

 

Sept 13:  Col. Carlin authorized by General Sheridan for the arrest of Chief Grass, and his imprisonment at Fort Snelling, and that in his (Grass’) opinion, there was no such individual as ‘Sitting Bull,’ as controlling a large force of Sioux, the same being merely a synonym for hostile Indians, there are several of the name in various tribes and has always understood ‘Sitting Bull’ to mean the hostile Indians & not a great leader.

Carlin’s letter of Aug 28th  to Major George P. Ruggles, Assistant Adjutant General, Department of Dakota, St. Paul, Minn.:

I have the honor to report for the information of the Department commander and Lieutenant General Sheridan, that at a gathering of Indians at the lodge of Chief Grass of the Blackfeet band of Sioux last night, a man, who has just returned from Sitting Bull’s camp made the following statement to the meeting:  Sitting Bull called a council sometime since and addressed them substantially to this effect:-

That he did not bring on this war with the whites, but that the whites had attacked him.  But now, that as he had punished the whites to his satisfaction, he was will to go to an agency if the Government should insist on his doing so.  He also advised the Indians, who had come from the agencies and had assisted him in the fight of June 25th, to return to their agencies.

After this returned Indian had finished his remarks, Chief Grass remarked that the cause of the Indians might not yet be lost; that if there were men enough there and if they were brave enough, they might seize the arms, ammunition and provisions at this agency and join the other hostiles.  He remarked afterwards, however, that the Indians were not brave enough and that it would be useless to undertake anything of the kind.  The suggestion that hostilities might be prolonged was with the idea that terms might be forced from the government and not with any expectation of independence of its control.

This Chief Grass has remained permanently at the agency and lived at the expense of the government.  He professes, when speaking to the officers of the government, great friendship for the whites and is fully trusted by the agent.  I had an interview with him about a week ago and was convinced he is treacherous.  I ordered him to move his camp near the post, from a point ten miles below, which he did very reluctantly.  I learn also that he has sent several messages to Kill Eagle to go back to the hostiles.”

Col. Carlin’s letter of September 5th to Major George P. Ruggles, Assistant Adjutant General, Headquarters Department of Dakota, Saint Paul, Minn:

“I have the honor to report for the information of the Brigadier General Commanding the Department and the Lieutenant General Commanding the Division, that last night my interpreter, E.N.Allison, attempted under my instructions, to go to the camp of Kill Eagle, a hostile chief belonging to this Agency, and who is now encamped on one of the tributaries of Grand River.  When about one a half miles from the Post, Allison ran into, what appeared to be, a line of sentinels of Indians, mounted; two of whom approached him and demanded to know where he was going.  He told them, that he was going to see Kill Eagle.  They informed him that he could not go there until he had been to the camp of the Blackfeet and Uncpappa bands and obtained permission from the Chiefs.  These camps are about four miles, perhaps five, south of this post and near the direct line to Kill Eagle’s camp, which is believed to be less than thirty miles distant.  Allison was interrogated by Grass and Antelope, Chiefs respectively of the Blackfeet and Uncpappa bands, and they assumed the most lofty grounds that independent sovereigns could claim.  They expressed their surprise, that the Military Commander should attempt to send a message to Kill Eagle without the approval and consent of the Chiefs here, who owned this Country and informed him (Allison) that he could not proceed.”

Grass further demanded for Kill Eagle, that he should be allowed to come in to his (Grass’) camp, but not to the Post, and if necessary, surrender his arms, but not himself or his horses.”

“I believe it will be necessary to chastise these Indians before they will ever understand, that the Government, the white people and the troops of the United States are not their inferiors.”

“Since writing the foregoing, Captain R.E.Johnston, 1st Infantry, has reported to me, that Grass called on him and asked him to see me and inquire If I had sent Allison to Kill Eagle’s camp and stated further, that he did not like such things to be done without consulting him and the other chiefs.”

“These Indians have evidently been deceived and spoiled by the late Agent Burke and the people he has had about him.  They are insolent, defiant, and in reality as hostile at heart as Sitting Bull.  Their subsistence alone keeps them quiet and their agent has taught them, that they can have that regularly however hostile they may be to the Military.  Indeed nothing but a severe punishment will subdue them.  I refer exclusively to the Blackfeet and Uncpappa bands of Sioux, now here on the Westside of the Missouri, not to the Indians who have been with Sitting Bull.  This feeling of hostility is common throughout all the bands at the agency, except perhaps Two Bear’s and Big Head’s (Upper and Lower Yantonais) where it is confined to the minority.  The Agent reports them all peaceful, and respectful towards him.  Of course they will treat him with respect generally, because he has control of their rations.  When the three companies of the 11th Infantry arrive, I will be able to leave a guard at the Post and Agency, and will then make a visit to these camps with my command, with the view of impressing the Indians with the supremacy of the Government over them.”

“I am, Sir, very Respectfully your Obed’t Servant, W.P.Carlin, Lieut. Colonel, 17th Infantry, Commdg Post.”

Col. Carlin’s letter of Sept. 7, 1876  to Major George D. Ruggles, Assistant Adjt. General, Headqurs Department of Dakota, Saint Paul, Minn. including a statement from Indian known as The Man that Smells his Hand:

“Major:  I have the honor to transmit herewith a statement made to me last night by an Indian known as The Man that Smells his Hand including a message sent by Amputated Finger of the Ogalalla Sioux and other ‘hostile Chiefs.’  This man left this post eighteen days ago through fear of his own people.  He being suspected by them as a spy upon them and an informer of the Military Commander on their movements.  He left the hostile camp on Broken Legged Woman’s Creek near Powder River on Aug. 30th and was eight days on the road but lost one day by rain.- I have perfect confidence in his statement about the location of the hostiles.  The remainder of his statement is forwarded for what it is worth – It is interesting, if not important.”

“Statement of The Man that Smells his Hand, an Uncpappa Sioux, to the Commanding Officer at Standing Rock Agency, Sept. 6th, 1876, including a message from the assembled Chiefs of the Ogalalla, Minneconjou, Brule’s, Sans Arc and other Sioux Indians encamped on Broken Legged Woman’s Creek near the head of Powder River Aug. 29, 1876:”

“They began by saying to this Indian: ‘We are representatives of many bands, and what we have to say is for all these bands.  We have heard of your difficulty with the Indians at Standing Rock – that is, you have turned white man.  For that reason we should detain you one year, but as we have something to say to the whites we will use you as a courier to them – This land belongs to us.  It is a gift to us from the Great Spirit.  The Great Spirit gave us the game in this country.  It is our privilege to hunt the game in our country.  The white man came here to take the country from us by force – He has brought misery and wretchedness into our country.  We were here killing game and eating, and all of a sudden we were attacked by white men.  You will now depart and return to Standing Rock.  Tell the Commanding Officer that we are tired of fighting, and that we want the Soldiers to stop fighting us.  Tell him to repeat these words to the great Father:  The Great Spirit above us gave us this Country.  It is ours, and he is looking down on us today.”

“He sees the bloody deeds going on in this Country.  Though he gave us the Country he did not give us the right to dispose of it.  It is our duty to defend our Country.  We did not say to the white man come out and fight us; we did not ask them to out at all.  We did not want to fight them, but now if they wish to withdraw they may.  We do not wish to fight them.  What we have said is the sentiment of Sitting Bull.  He is not here, but if he were here he would say the same words to you.”

Sitting Bull says he was out there because there was game, but that he did not want to fight.  He had to fight because he was attacked.  Perhaps the whites think they can exterminate us, but God, the Great Spirit, will not permit it.”

“The above is the message.  The messenger states that Sitting Bull, has all his own followers, and many Indians from this Agency with him.  His camp on the 30th of August was on Tongue River, nearly in sight of the Post now being built at the mouth of that River.”

“He is so near that he can see the soldiers any day by riding a short distance.  He is on or near the road made by the Troops in going out.  He was expected however to join the other bands on the head of Powder River soon as he had been sent for.  A small body of troops had marched near their camp and they could have massacred them all, but they preferred to let them leave the Country, as they seemed to be doing.”

“The Indians had ‘any quantity of ammunition and more guns than they needed – Most of them Needle Guns.’  They had many mules with galled necks and shoulders and many of them died since the Indians got them.  They had many American horses, but they nearly all had broken down.  The Indians said if the white persisted in keeping up the war they could stand it for three years.  They had plenty of game and everything else.”

“The above statements were drawn out in reply to questions asked him by the undersigned and other officers in my presence.”

“Very respectfully, Your Obed’t  Servt., W.P.Carlin, Lieut Col. 17th Infantry, Commd’g Post.”

Col. Carlin reports the arrest of John Grass by letter of Sept. 12, 1876 to Major George D. Ruggles, Assistant Adjutant General, Department of Dakota, Saint Paul, Minn.:

“Major:  I have the honor to report, that on the 10th instant, John Grass, head-chief of the Blackfeet band of Sioux, was arrested by my order for exerting all his influence to prevent the hostile Indians from coming in to surrender, and for special offences set forth in a letter from the undersigned to Captain R. E. Johnston, 1st Infantry, Acting Indian Agent, Standing Rock Agency.  I have directed a Board of Officers to investigate the charges against him and to report their opinion, and in the meantime, I will hold him in custody at this post.  I am not fully prepared to send him to Fort Snelling as I am not sure that his absence is sufficient importance to justify the expense of moving him.  Besides his health is bad and confinement would probably kill him in a short time, if he were not kindly treated.”

“His arrest has had a marked effect on the behavior of the Indians, here and for the better.  Their conduct is now very respectful and friendly when they come about the Post or Agency.”

“I will decide what to do with John Grass after receiving the report of the Board of Examination.”

“I am, Sir, Very Respectfully, Your Obed’t Servant, W.P.Carlin, Lieut. Colonel, 17th Infantry, Comd’g. Post.”     0552-0560

 

Sept 16:  Vandever at Red Cloud to meet with Indians, concerned about large military presence.     (0193-0194)

 

Sept 16:  Sheridan forwards report from General Crook, from his camp near Owl Creek, reporting fight with the Indians by troops under Capt. Mills.

“Marched from Heart River passing a great many trails of Indians going down all the different streams between Heart River and this point apparently working their way in towards the different agencies.  Although some of the trails seemed fresh our animals were not in condition to pursue them.  From the North Fork of the Grand River I sent Captain Mills from the 3rd Cavalry Unit with 150 men mounted on our strongest horses to go in advance to Deadwood to procure our supplies of provisions.  On the evening of the eighth (?) near the Slim Buttes he discovered a hostile village of thirty odd lodges and lay by them that night and attacked them by surprise yesterday, capturing the village, some prisoners and a number of ponies and killing some of the Indians.  Among the Chiefs was American Horse who died from his wounds after surrendering to us.  Our own casualties were slight, but among them was Lieutenant Von Leutwitz of the Third Cavalry, wounded seriously in knee and leg, since amputated.  In the village were found, besides great quantities of dried meat and ammunition, an Army guidon, portions of officers and non-commissioned officer’s uniforms and other indications that the Indians in the village had participated in the Custer Massacre.  Our main column got up about noon that day and was shortly attacked by a considerable body of Indians the prisoners said belonged to the village of Crazy Horse, who was camped somewhere between their own village and the Missouri River.  This attack was undoubtedly made under the supposition that Captain Mills’ Command had received reinforcements.  The prisoners further stated that most of the hostile Indians were now going into the agencies with the exception of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull with their immediate followers.  Crazy Horse intended to remain near the headwaters of the Little Missouri and about one half of Sitting Bull’s band, numbering from sixty to one hundred lodges, had gone north of the Yellowstone while the remainder of that band with some Sans Arcs, Minneconjous and Uncpappas had gone in the vicinity of Antelope Buttes.  There to fatten their ponies and to trade with the Rees and others.  I place great reliance on these statements from other corroboratory evidence which I have.  These Indians under Sitting Bull will amount to 300 or 400 lodges and in my judgment can be very easily struck by General Terry’s column providing it goes in light marching order and keeps under cover.  Our prisoners, also in their conversation, fully confirmed in every particular my opinion as already telegraphed you.”

“We had a very hard march from Heart River, for 80 consecutive miles we did not have a particle of wood, only a little dry grass which was insufficient even to cook coffee for the men.  During the greater portion of the time we were drenched by cold rains which made travelling very heavy.  A great many of the animals gave out and had to be abandoned, the others are now in such weak condition that the greater number of them will not be able to resume the campaign until after a reasonable rest.  I should like to have about 500 horses, preferably the half-breed horses raised on the Laramie Plains or in the vicinity of Denver and acclimated to this country.  I intend to carry out the programme mentioned in my last dispatch via Fort Laramie and shall remain in the vicinity of Deadwood until the arrival of my wagon train.  (signed) General Crook.      (0585-0592)

 

Sept 18:  General Sheridan advises General Townsend, Washington, D.C. that Crook’s supply train must have reached Deadwood on the 14th instant and before Crook’s arrival.     (0581-0584)

Sept 19:  Sheridan directs Major Ruggles in the disposition of Indian horses and prisoners:  You are authorized to direct the sale of all captured Indian ponies, except those that may be required and can be used to advantage in the public service, at such prices as can be obtained for them.  The sales to take place at the agencies where surrendered.  I think it best to keep the prisoners at Standing Rock.  It they could be encamped and guarded near the post it would be the best, but Carlin must use his own judgment.  The hostiles can be notified that if they surrender unconditionally, delivering up their ponies, arms and ammunition, that they will be held as prisoners only until the government decides if any other punishment will be administered.  They may be notified also that the proceeds of the sale of their ponies will be applied to the purchase of young cattle for their benefit.     (0603-0608)

Sept 20:  Report from British Mounted Police of the movements and attitude of a large body of hostile Indians assembling on Porcupine Creek.  “Major Walsh, commanding mounted police at Cypress Hills in British Possessions reports by courier.  Information has just reached me that hostile Sioux are assembling in large numbers, eighty miles east of this post, at a place known as Porcupine Creek, ten miles south of boundary line, organizing to move south on Forts Belknap and Peck, then to return to Porcupine Creek and cross into our territory. I have dispatched a scout to Porcupine Creek to get all the information, if Sioux are in the neighborhood and as to their movements, &c I sent Lieut. Hardin to nearest telegraph station who can answer your questions at once.  Will send courier at once to Fort Belknap to get reliable information.”     (0625-0629)

 

Sept 20:  Lieut. Col. Buell reports a large force of hostiles on Buffalo Creek, that scouts passed Indian camp, followed Cavl’y trail to Slim Buttes, where Cavalry fought a camp of 40 lodges, and that a large body of hostiles pursued Cavl’y toward Black Hills

“Cheyenne Agency, September 19th.  Scouts returned last night report hostile camp in large force on Buffalo Creek, 40 miles north of Slim Buttes.  Scouts struck large cavalry trail at White Buttes, coming south.  Cavalry passed within 7 miles of main Indian camp during rain.  Scouts passed Indian camp during night (14th), followed Cavalry trail to Slim Buttes where Cavalry had fought camp of 40 lodges and large band from hostile camp pursued towards Black Hills.  Outside Indians report hostiles lying there caring wounded.  Particulars by mail.  (signed) Buell., Commanding.      (0597-0602)

 

Sept 21:  Col. Carlin reports to Major Ruggles the surrender of horses & mules by Kill Eagle’s band.  The running away of young men who had returned from hostiles, upon his demand for surrender &c.:  

“I have the honor to report that, believing some horses and mules, brought into the Blackfeet and Uncpappa Camp by Kill Eagle and his band had not been surrendered to me on the 15th instant, I made a demand on the chiefs of those bands to deliver up to me every horse & mule brought in by Kill Eagle. In obedience to this demand 5 good horses and 6 good mules were delivered to me yesterday.  I also demanded the surrender of all the young men who had returned from the hostile camp.  Chief Grass, who was infuriated in finding and delivering the horses & mules, told me that the young men all ran away from the camps as soon as they were informed of the demand.  I have ordered the Acting Agent not to issue any subsistence stores till these Indians have surrendered.  It may be that these young men are entirely beyond the control of the chiefs, and if the young men referred to have actually left the Agency, or rather Indian camp, I may be compelled to revoke the order in regard to Subsistence Stores, as it would be unjust to punish the faithful for the misbehavior of the unfaithful.”     (0618-0624)

 

Sept. 26:  1st endorsement of Reno and Benteen reports on the Little Big Horn battle by Brig. Gen. Alfred H. Terry, Brigadier General Commanding, Headquarters, Dept of Dakota, St. Paul.     (0657). (Editor’s note: see July 4 and 5 entries for these reports).

 

Sept 30:  Sheridan advises Sherman that time has not come to send Sioux to Indian Territory, but rather they should be moved from the mineral-rich Black Hills and holed up on the Missouri:

“It is my belief that the reluctant promises of the leading men at Red Cloud and Spotted Tail Agencies to go to the Indian Country is a mere dodge to carry them over the winter.  They will never go there unless driven by the Military, after a long, guerilla warfare, if they succeed in carrying themselves over the winter by misleading the Indian Department through the present Commission.”

“It is my opinion that not a single Indian who signed the ultimatum of the Commission whose heart and feelings and intentions were not fairly and squarely represented by the Indian who covered his eyes with his blanket when he signed the paper.”

“I wish to state also, in order to show the temper exhibited by the Indians, that Sitting Bull of the Ogalalla Sioux, while in council the day before the agreement to sign was made took his rifle in one hand and horsewhip in the other, and broke up the Council by whipping the Indians out of it in the presence of the Commissioners.”

“Then about taking the Sioux to the Indian Territory, admitting that they would go, taking with them their arms, ammunition and ponies, I can’t think of anything that is liable to breed so much disaster. The Cheyennes, Arapahos, Kiowas and Commanches, now doing so well, would be aroused and trouble would immediately follow.  The semi-civilized bands would be subject to annoyances, which might very much disturb their present successful progress in civilization.”

“Besides, disconcerted Sioux would return to the North, and small bands would be constantly passing to and fro, alarming the settlers.”

“The time for transferring the Sioux to the Indian Country has not come yet, but the time for dismounting and disarming and putting them all on the Missouri River has come.”

“Another thing about the Indian Territory – there is not sufficient cultivatable land in the Indian Territory, unassigned to other tribes as their reservations by treaty to make homes for the Sioux Nation.  And, in addition, I have believed in the existence of very valuable silver and gold deposits – especially silver – in the Witchita Mountains, for some time and saw nothing about it on account of the Indians, but in the last 3 or 4 months I have been reliably informed that parties down about Fort Elliot have located some of the lodes – specimens of which have yields in assay – fine gold and silver results.    (0671-0676)

 

Sept 30:  A. Wright, Chaplain USA writes about Indian School Boy to Commissioner Indian Affairs, Washington, D.C.: 

“Sir, I have the honor to be in receipt of yours of September 16th, 1876, with reference to James Auger, the Sioux Indian School Boy in my charge.  I have to say I have not as yet found an opportunity to send him to Yankton and doubt very much whether such an opportunity will occur soon.  To find a suitable person to take charge of him would at any time especially on that route.  Our Barracks are five miles from Omaha & I am seldom in the city. James is a mere child and I should not like to trust him with any stranger. If you desire it I will take him myself, the government paying all my expense.  He has just started in school for the winter.  He has a new outfit of clothes and books & is doing well.  Advise me early of your further wishes in this matter.  Enclosed please find voucher ($36.00) for the third quarter 1876 for Education Subsistence &c.”     (0615-0617)

 

Sept 30:  R.S.McKenzie, Commanding at Red Cloud Agency, on the subject of the proposed removal of the Sioux Indians, including endorsements of Sherman, Sheridan and Crook:

“The state of affairs here now, is about this – The Commission which was appointed by the Secretary of the Interior, some weeks ago, left here last Tuesday.  The Indians have agreed, I am informed, either to move to the Missouri or to the Indian Territory, and to send a delegation from each band to look at the latter country.”

“They will immediately perform the latter part of their agreement, i.e. send men to the Indian Country, a small part, acting in my judgment, in good faith; but the larger part, in my opinion, to gain time.”

“Just prior to the arrival of the Commission, the various bands of Sioux were called on by me to give up such hostile Indians as had returned.  They were called on in pursuance with my instructions from my military experience and these instructions were issued.  I believe in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior, of the Secretary of War, and of the General of the Army, and met with the approval of the President.  It was carefully explained to the leading representatives of the various bands, that this demand was not made simply by me but at the instance of the highest civil and military officials of the government.”

“Now, those Indians in the face of this knowledge, have willfully and obstinately failed to give up any of the parties known to be in their camps and who have been absent engaged in war and atrocities outside of all wars.”

“Now, very soon, a part of the gentlemen of this Commission, I believe, may be expected for the purpose of conveying away to the Indian Territory certain of the principal Indians for the purpose before set forth, and unfortunately many of those who are likely to be taken are the very men who have most conspicuously failed to act loyally toward the government of the US, and who use to their utmost their influence to shield the class of malignant criminals to whom I have referred.”

“It is well to mention in this connection, that in my remarks to these Indians, I have taken care, carefully, to explain that I made this demand instead of at once proceeding with soldiers to make the arrests, for the reason that the soldiers did not know the individuals, and that in the event of a camp being surrounded by soldiers, it was always to be apprehended that through the folly or wickedness of a few evilly disposed Indians, or even of a single individual to bring on a serious collision, which might involve the death of many innocent men, and in the end was sure to entail lasting troubles on many Indians who might desire to do right.  I will give but two instances of individual Indians, though they might be multiplied to include the vast majority of them at Red Cloud and Spotted Tail Agencies.”

“Red Cloud and Spotted Tail (agencies) are at the moment, and have without doubt, for weeks, been concealing and endeavoring to exculpate this very worst class of criminals. They are treating with utter contempt my authority as the chief representative of the government of the United States here present, and they are doing this with the full knowledge that my orders were given from the most humane of motives, and given, too, with the belief that such a course had, in similar circumstances, avoided collisions with the large bands of the Southern Plains, and they are thus acting, knowing that my orders are just, and that they are no emanation from myself, but come from the very highest officers of the government.”

“As for reasons which are deemed wisest, it has been thought best not immediately to act.  It seems to be very important that these chiefs be not now allowed to leave this country with any civil officers of the government to look at the Indian Territory, or for any other purpose.”

“There is, to my mind, from the existence of the utter and widespread contempt of the highest authority, as a necessary corollary, a temporary existence of martial law, and I believe myself to be justified in preventing at this time, any departure of any Indians under the instructions of any civil officer, no matter what his rank, or any civil official from exercising any authority so far as regards these Indians, or holding any communication with them.”

“Now, I wish to avoid the possibility of any clash of authority, and therefore wish to urge on you, General, the propriety of procuring from the President the suspension of any action resulting from the agreement of the recent Commission for such period as in your own good judgment may be desirable.”

“I wish to urge on you, and through you, in such manner as you may deem most fitting, on our superiors up to the President, alike the Military and Civil Head of our Government, that it would be in my judgment (while believing that these Indians ought to be transferred to the Indian Territory as soon as it can properly be done) utterly wrong in their present condition as regards arms and their present defiant attitude toward the government to send them there should they all be willing to go tomorrow. It would be cruel alike to the citizens of the surrounding country and to the Indians on whom the heaviest weight must, in the end, inevitably fall.”

“In closing I wish to urge on you, and through you on my superiors, and I would very much like my opinion to go to the President, that it is of the greatest importance, at once as a military matter, and as a matter of humanity as it regards soldiers, frontiersmen and Indians, as well, that there be no further communication with the Sioux of the Red Cloud and Spotted Tail Agencies, except through the Military Authorities.  With the recent Commission I am happy to say, that I had no clash whatever, and endeavored in every way to oblige them.     (0677-0685)

 

Oct 2:  General Crook endorses the Sept. 30th message from Colonel MacKenzie:

“I heartily concur in the views and recommendations of Colonel MacKenzie.  These Agencies are and have been the head and front of all the trouble and hostilities which have been in progress.  They are and have been regular defeats of recruits and supplies.  Many of the very Indians who have been out all summer are now there with the arms and booty of their summer’s work, and they do not intend to give up either the arms or the Indians themselves.  The parties to the late treaty or agreement are not representative men, and there is no doubt that they are simply doing all they can to gain time.  I am certain that, unless something positive is done, we shall have to go through the same thing next summer that we have this.     (0686-0687)

 

Oct 2:  Receipts for beef cattle to be delivered to Yankton and Standing Rock.     (0609-0614)

Oct 2:  2nd endorsement of Reno and Benteen reports referred to Adjutant General of the Army by R.C.Drum, Asst. Adjt. General, in absence of Lieut. General, Commanding.     (0658)

Oct 7:  War Department transmits Reno and Benteen reports to the Secretary of the Interior.     (0659)

Oct 10:  Receipts for Beef Cattle deliveries.     (0630-0635)

 

Oct 11:  Advice that hostile Indians are approaching Fort Peck:

“My Dear Doctor J. A. McKinney, Fort Buford – The entire hostile camp are coming here to trade and get supplies and ammunition.  They will be here in 15 days from today.  A messenger from their camp came in here last night bringing the above news which is undoubtedly reliable.”

“We fear and believe that if they are not allowed to get ammunition from the Trader that they will attempt to take it by force.  Our small force here cannot stop them, nor can the Indians that belong to this Agency stop them, nor do they wish to fight their friends, i.e. the hostiles.  If we do not get soldiers here within two weeks, I believe this fort will be attacked or some serious trouble will occur … signed J.T.Southworth.     (0699-0703)

 

Oct 13:  General Sheridan supplies the second endorsement to the Sept. 30th message from Colonel MacKenzie:

“I have felt deeply the embarrassment brought about by the presence and action of the Commission referred to in this communication, to say nothing about the unfortunate results which may follow.  There is scarcely an incident in the history of the settlements of this widely extended country, when the Indians have ever left their place of abode, until after the conclusion of a fierce strife which disabled and broke them down, and the very proposition made by the Commission for the Sioux to go to the Indian Territory is sufficient to induce every able-bodied man to take the field, and there is not in my mind the slightest doubt that every Sioux Indian capable of bearing arms is now getting ready to take the field in the spring.  The paper presented by the Commission and signed by the Indians under protest, (at least in their hearts), was only signed to carry them over the winter. The Indians who are out and actively hostile have been sufficiently encouraged to continue out, believing they will be joined by all now at the Agencies in the Spring.”

“Then there does not seem to have been a thought about where these Indians, amounting to over 30,000, are to be located in the Indian Territory, or the disastrous effect their presence on the Indians there, now doing so well.”

“The action of the Commission can have no other result than to cripple, as it already has some, the action of the Military and to produce confusion and calamity.”    (0687-0688)

 

Oct 14:  Following information received by General Sheridan on Oct 14th:

“Cheyenne Agency, October 9th – Indian from hostile camp reports hostiles approaching Yellowstone, with view to crossing to head of Big Dry Creek, which empties into Missouri near Fort Peck, will contest for crossing against troops.  signed … Buell, Commanding.     (0724)

 Oct 17:  War Department directing tents and flies for the comfort and protection of delegation visiting the Indian Territory.     (0668-0670)

 

 Oct 17:  General Sherman supplies the third endorsement to Colonel MacKenzie:

“It is rare that we have in such close connection the frank opinions of three such able men & officers, as this paper contains, viz. – of Gens MacKenzie, Crook & Sheridan.  As one who originally negotiated with the Sioux in the Treaty of 1868 and who has had much intercourse with them, I must say that I agree with General 

Terry going north of the Yellowstone to intercept the trail of any Indians taking that direction.  My column followed this trail down Beaver Creek to a point opposite Sentinel Buttes, where the Indians scattered, and deluging rains to which we have been exposed during the past week have so obliterated their trails as to make it very difficult and laborious to work up the case.  But undoubtedly a very large majority of the trails led over to the Little Missouri, going in the direction of the Black Hills, the separation taking place, apparently, about 12 days ago.  I have every reason to believe that all the Hostile Indians left the Big Horn, Tongue and Powder country in the village the trail of which we followed.  This village was very compact and arranged in regular order of seven circles of lodges covering an area of 2,000 acres.  With the exception of a few lodges that had stolen towards the agencies, there was no change in the arrangement or size of the village until it disintegrated.  All indication show that the hostile Indians were much straitened for food, and that they are now travelling in small bands, scouting the country for small game.  I feel satisfied that if they can be prevented from getting ammunition or supplies from the agencies, a large majority of them will surrender soon.  I have with me only about two days provisions but shall push out for the Black Hills to try to reach there in advance of the hostiles, or as soon as they do, scouting the country on the march as thoroughly as the circumstances will admit.”

“We have traveled over 400 miles since leaving our wagon-train; our animals are now much jaded and many of them have given out, while our men begin to manifest symptoms of scorbutic affections.”

“As things look now Custer City will probably be the base to operate from.  I would like to have 200,000 pounds of grain sent there at once, together with 20 days full rations of vegetables for the men.”

“I would also like to have 2 companies of cavalry sent across the country from Red Cloud, via Pumpkin Buttes, and by forced march to escort my wagon train from the dry fork of Powder River by the miner’s road to Deadwood City in the Black Hills, so as to get it there with all possible dispatch.”

“I make these requests of you since I have not heard anything reliable from the outside world since your telegram of July 25th, and do not know what changes may have transpired to modify the disposition of troops in my department.”       (0561-0566)

 

Oct 18:  Appeal for Military help as hostile Indians are on the way to Fort Peck:

“To W.W.Jordon, Fort Buford – Four Indians arrived this morning from Sitting Bull’s camp.  They were sent out by Agent Mitchell to invite Uncpappas into this Agency about 13 days ago.  They report the hostile camp on the Tongue River and about this time they say all on the Yellowstone, or about to cross, and come this way.  They are coming to camp on the Dry Fork and from there are coming in to trade and demand ammunition.  They sent word that that was what they were coming for.  Their camp consisted of Uncpappas, Cheyennes and Arapahoes; about 800 lodges that would be on Dry Fork in five days and that they would leave their camp there and about 300 of them come in on horseback.  They want ammunition and if they cannot get it here it will be bad and they will go from here to Woody Mountains to trade and get it from the half-breeds.  I should think the Agent ought to have troops here but he is inexperienced and thinks the William Penn system will work.”

‘The hostiles have heard of the arrests of the Indians at Standing Rock and that the troops are taking all the arms and horses from the Indians that come in.  They also know that there are no troops here and for that reason will all come this way.”  Signed – George Boyle .. Forwarded by Terry to Sheridan, Sheridan  to Sherman.     (0703-0704)

 

Oct 18:  Sheridan authorizes Terry to direct Wm. B. Hazen, Commanding at Fort Buford, to exercise, so far as it is in his power, the same control over the Agent and Trading establishment at Fort Peck, as is exercised by the Military at the other Agencies on the Missouri River.  Sheridan wants receipt acknowledged.     (0722)

 

Oct 18:  Ruggles advises Hazen of General Terry’s directive…to wit:

“…to exercise absolute control, so far as it is within your power,  without removing or unnecessarily disturbing the Agent, Over Agent, Agency and Trading Post at Fort Peck.  No issues may be made at the Agency unless the Indians be actually present.  All Indians who are now, or may hereafter go outside of the reservation, must be treated as enemies, disarmed and their ponies & guns taken away.  Acknowledge receipt.     (0723-0724)

 

Oct 19:  Receipts for Beef deliveries.     (0660-0663)

 

Oct 20:  More information from Wm. B. Hazen, dated Oct 14th, Buford, which was not received until Oct 20th by Sheridan:

“After getting ready to go to Peck with 5 companies I learned that the hostiles were on Beaver Creek, a branch of the Little Missouri.  They struck Col. Otis’ train, escorted by 4 companies.  The tenth instant it proceeded until next day, then returned to Glendive with a loss of 60 mules, and yesterday the Indians were about Glendive, on both sides of the river.  Colonel Otis’ courier just in.  Two of my companies are now one day’s march in that direction, with train, and I will join them tomorrow, with 3 companies more. Colonel Otis estimates the Indians at from 5 to 600. – Can’t 7th Cavalry move on their rear?  They will probably spend a week or ten days in harassing the route before moving to Peck, or Woody Mountains.  signed Wm.B.Hazen”

Ruggles footnotes the above 10/14th letter:  – “I have nothing from General Terry since his dispatch about purchase horses in Montana, presume he has left Lincoln.”     (0722-0723)

 

Oct 22:  Sheridan (Chicago) advises Terry (St. Paul) to:

“…notify General Hazen to inform the Agent at Fort Peck to hold no intercourse, directly or indirectly, through the medium of friendly Indians with the hostiles. Should he not comply with this request, suspend him, putting an office in charge of the Agency, and report the case for action of the War and Interior Departments.     (0724-0725)

 

Oct 24:  Yankton Agent, Gassman, will call for Indian School boy and take him back.     (0664-0667)

 

Oct 24:  General Sheridan forwards 10/11 reports of Col. Wm. B. Hazen and others respecting movements of Sitting Bull on Fort Peck Agency and relative to the attack of hostile Indians on Col. Otis train.  Col. Hazen also deems it of the highest importance that an arrangement be made with the Canadian authorities to prevent the re-arming of the hostile Indians in the Dominion:

“Headquarters, Fort Buford, D.T., October 11, 1876 … I enclose copies of letters just received from Fort Peck; the parties writing them are well known here and the information they give of the movements of ‘Sitting Bull,’  I believe to be accurate. Information has gone over to General Miles and I think he will try to strike them. I will try to get to Peck with 5 companies myself.”

“Troops from Lincoln might be dispatched to be of use.  But immense loss of time in reaching sources that can order troops, I fear will prevent timely action.  I again repeat that I believe the Military occupation of Fort Peck, and an arrangement with the Canadian authorities to prevent the re-arming of hostiles Indians in the Dominion, to be in the highest degree important.”

“The next month is the most favorable of the 12 for Military operations in this country.  Mr. McLean, one of the Tongue River hay contractors, is just in from that place.”

“Signed….W.R.Hazen, Col. 6th Inf’y, Bvt. Maj. Genl, U.S.A, Commanding.     (0718-0722)

 

Oct 24:  General Sheridan forwards General Crook’s report on the disarming of Red Cloud’s & Red Leaf’s bands:

The following dispatch just received from General Crook, Camp Robinson, October 23rd via Fort Laramie, Wyo, Oct. 24th

Red Cloud’s and Red Leaf’s bands were successfully surrendered last night, disarmed and their ponies taken from them this morning.  I have had difficulty in this matter for the reason that since the hostiles commenced scattering these Indians have also scattered, locating their camps further from the Agency and evidently communicating with and receiving the hostiles who came in.  I am glad to report complete success and that it was accomplished without firing a shot.  Thanks are due Col. MacKenzie, under whose personal supervision this movement was conducted and to Major Gordon 5th Cavalry and Captain Mauck 4th Cavalry who commanded the battalions.  I had a satisfactory council with Spotted Tail & satisfied that he is the only important leader who has had the nerve to be our friend & have therefore put him in charge as ‘head chief’ of all.  The line of the hostile and peaceably disposed is not drawn and we shall have our enemies in the front only in the future.  Col. Merritt made his scout developing several trails running into the Agency and is now near here.  I could not wait for his Command to get into position as the Indians were about to leave.  Col. Merritt’s Command will be here tomorrow when I shall organize the new expedition & leave with it at once.  I feel that this is the first gleam of daylight we have had in this business.”     (0711-0716)

 

Oct 25:  General Sherman comments on the foregoing report of General Crook:

“Your dispatch of yesterday embracing General Crook’s is received and your action in the premises is approved.  I hope General Terry will be equally successful at Standing Rock and Cheyenne and then the troops will feel that they cannot be betrayed by the actions of the Indians who are receiving Government supplies, and that they will only have to fight the hostiles and outlaws. “    (0717)

 

Oct 25:  Sheridan directs Crook to disarm & dismount every Indian connected with Red Cloud Agency – also Spotted Tail and his band if they do not come up squarely:

“Your dispatch of 23rd came duly to hand.  Go right on, disarming and dismounting every Indian connected with Red Cloud Agency; and if Spotted Tail & his Indians do not come up squarely, dismount & disarm them. – There must be no half way mark in this matter.  All Indians out there must be on our side without question, or else on the side of the hostiles. -We cannot any longer afford to use so much of our force guarding Indians alleged to be friendly when they are hostile.     (0748-0752)

 

Oct 25:  General Miles reports engagement with Sitting Bull’s band & defeat of the Indians.  Recommends occupation of Fort Peck and seizure of ammunition there, &c, &c:

“I have the honor to report that having received information of the movement of hostile Indians from the south toward the Yellowstone, also of the design of Sitting Bull to go north to the Big Dry for Buffalo, I moved with the 5th Infantry to intercept, or follow his movement.  On Custer Creek I learned that he had attacked and turned back one train from Glendive, and made a second unsuccessful attack upon an escort and train under command of Col. Otis.  Moving northeast and approaching their trail and camp, they appeared in considerable numbers and presented a flag of truce, and desired to communicate.  I met Sitting Bull between the lines.  He expressed a desire to make a peace.  He desired to hunt buffalo, to trade (particularly for ammunition) and agreed that the Indians would not fire upon the soldiers if they were not disturbed.  He desired to know why the soldiers did not go into winter quarters, and, in other words, he desired ‘an old-fashioned peace’ for the winter.  He was informed of the terms of the government and on what grounds he could obtain peace and that he must bring his tribe in near our camp.”

“The interview ended near sundown, with no definite result, they retiring to their camp, and my command moving and camping on Cedar Creek, in position to more easily intercept their movement north.  Sitting Bull was told to come in next day.  As the Command was moving north between their camp and Big Dry, they again appeared and desired to talk.  A council followed between the lines with Sitting Bull, Pretty Bear (Chief in council), John, Sans Arc, Standing Bear, Gaul (War Chief), White Bull and others of their head men present.  Sitting Bull was anxious for peace, provided he could have his own terms; yet, to surrender to the government would be a loss of prestige to him as a great war chief.  His task and great strength is as a warrior, and I should judge that influence would have great weight with him as against wiser councils.  Several of his head men and people I believe desire peace.  The demands of the government were fully explained to him, and the only terms required of him were that he should camp his tribe on some point on the Yellowstone near the troops, or go into some government agency, and place his people under subjection to the government.  He said that he would come into trade for ammunition, and desired to live as an Indian; gave no assurance of good faith, and as the council ended, was told a non-acceptance of the liberal terms of the government would be considered an act of hostility.  An engagement immediately followed; they took position on a line of hills and broken ground, occupying every mount and ravine.  They were driven from every part of the field through their camp grounds and down Pad Route Creek, and finally across the Yellowstone, at the ford they had crossed about a week ago.  In their camp and on their line of retreat they abandoned tons of dried meat, lodge poles, travois, camp equipage, ponies and broken down cavalry horses, &c.  They were found principally dismounted, and were driven 42 miles to the south side of the Yellowstone.  During the fight, as we passed rapidly over the field, five dead warriors were reported to me as dead on the field besides those they were seen to carry away.  I intend to continue the pursuit.  They are in great want of food, their stock is nearly worn down and they cannot have a large amount of ammunition.  What they have has been taken from citizens in the Black Hills, from troops in the Custer Massacre, or from friendly Indians.  Several of the Indians who had just come out from Standing Rock Agency were seen to have a fresh supply of .50 calibre ammunition.  Long Dog, one of Sitting Bull’s chiefs, and one of the worst men in the tribe, is now at Peck, getting ammunition.”

“I have the honor to recommend that all communication between the hostile and Agency Indians, except through military channels, be discontinued, when I believe this trouble can be settled during the winter.  I believe that Fort Peck should be occupied, and all ammunition in that vicinity seized by the government.  Since the engagement, I believe they will be more inclined to make peace.  Their force was estimated at upwards of 400 lodges, and nearly 1,000 warriors.  If they do not accept the terms of the government within one month, I am satisfied they will go into the Big Horn country for grass and game.  If any supplies have been placed in that vicinity, I would be glad to be apprised of it, as the command may move in that direction.”     (0788-0796)

 

Oct 25:  W.B.Hazen ads post script to Miles report deeming it proper to say that there is only a small amount of ammunition at Peck, a few hundred rounds to the use of citizens in their defense.     (0796)

 Oct 26:  Receipts for Pork & Beans and Bacon to various Agencies.     (0691-0698)

 

Oct 26:  Miles reports from Camp opposite Cabin Creek, on the Yellowstone River:

“Since my report of the 25th instant, I learn from Bull Eagle, principal chief of the hostiles now south of the Yellowstone, that in their retreat, the bands divided – Sitting Bull and 30 lodges broke off to the left for Fort Peck, and the main body heading for the Cheyenne Agency.  His small trail was seen but it was considered of more importance to follow the main body south of the Yellowstone.  These are more anxious for peace now than ever, and when they are started in the right direction, we will turn our attention to those near Peck and the Little Horn.  I will endeavor to keep them divided and take them in detail.     (0796-0797)

 

Oct 27:  Camp opposite Cabin Creek, on the Yellowstone, M.T., Special Field Orders signed by Colonel N.A. Miles, Acting Assistant Adjutant General:

I.  1st Lieutenant J. F. Forbes, 5th Infantry, with an escort of ten (10) men, will take charge of the five (5) Indian Chiefs this day surrendered as hostages by their tribes and conduct them to the Headquarters, Department of Dakota, at Saint Paul, Minn., where he will report for further instructions.”

II.  Thomas Cushing, interpreter, will accompany the detachment and will report to Lieutenant Forbes.”

III. The Quartermaster’s Department will furnish transportation for the entire party.”

IV. Upon being relieved from duty this party, Lieut. Forbes will take advantage of the leave of absence granted him in special (field) orders No. 48, Headquarters Department of Dakota, current files.”     (0798-0803)

 

Oct 27:  Capture of 3 thieves & 5 horses stolen from Two Kettle Band.     (0705-0710)

 

Oct 27:  Miles files his official report from ‘Headquarters, Yellowstone Command, Camp opposite Cabin Creek, on the Yellowstone River, M.T.’:

“I have the honor to report that four principal chiefs and one head warrior surrendered themselves today as hostages that their tribes, the Minneconjous and Sans Arcs, will continue their retreat to the Cheyenne Agency, and there remain at peace subject to the orders of the government. – I consider this the beginning of the end. – In sending them this way, I avoid escorting them 300 miles and it enables me to turn north for the remainder of Sitting Bull’s band.  They represent upwards of 400 lodges of hostile Sioux Indians, and if their tribes are not in within the stated time, their people and they understand the position they occupy as hostages.  The chiefs Bull Eagle, Small Bear and Bull take the tribes to the Agency.  I gave them 5 days to obtain meat and 30 days to make the journey and gave them a statement showing the terms of their surrender (copy enclosed).  Having driven them out of the buffalo range, they are nearly starving for food, and I recommend as they give themselves up, if they cannot be fed by Interior Department, that they be fed as prisoners of war.”     (0805-0807)

 

Oct 27:  General Hazen reports via Col. Drumm, Chicago, that General Miles had a successful fight with the hostiles (Sitting Bull, et al) on Cedar Creek 10/21 and 10/22:

“General Miles had successful fight with the hostiles, Sitting Bull, Pretty Bear, Bull Eagle, Standing Bear, Gaul and White Bear, on Cedar Creek the twenty-first and twenty-second.  He drove them 45 miles to the Yellowstone. – Five dead were found and many other supposed killed and wounded.  His loss 2 wounded.  A large portion of the Indians have gone towards Cheyenne Agency. Sitting Bull and others have gone to Peck. – I start to Peck with 4 companies and one piece of artillery at once, with Steamboat Peniak, and rations for Miles.  I believe this matter can be closed now by vigorous work.  Some Cavalry is indispensable.”     (0753-0758)

 

Oct 28:  Miles writes Terry from Camp on Bad Route Creek, M.T. elaborating upon the conditions under which the chiefs surrendered:

“Hearing that you may not understand just the conditions upon which these Indian Chiefs surrendered, I write you again.  Red Skirt is principal chief of the Minneconjous, and related to Bulls Eagle, who takes his tribe of about 60 lodges to the Agency; White Bull is father of Small Bear, who takes in his band of about 50 lodges; Black Eagle and Sunrise are Chiefs, and Foolish Thunder, head warrior of the Sans Arcs.  I cannot say the exact number that they will take in, although Red Skirt claims to be Chief of 1300 lodges.  I presume this includes some at the Agencies.  I think they should take in 200 and possibly 500 lodges.  I believe the work, as far as this command is concerned, has been well done; and what is to be accomplished will depend upon the manner in which these Chiefs are treated and the reception their people receive on their arrival.  Bulls Eagle was told, and I believe, fully understood that on his arrival there he should turn in his arms, particularly the Springfield Carbines, and such horses as the government should require. I would recommend that what property is taken from them be sold at some good market and the proceeds returned to the owners in domestic stock; for there is no doubt that they will be poor enough in a short time.  If they can be encouraged to become a pastoral people, they should, in that way, become self-sustaining.  They are very suspicious, and of course afraid, that some terrible punishment will be inflicted upon them.  Bulls Eagle tells me that the interpreter at the Cheyenne Agency informed them that the ‘whites are going to do something terrible to them.’  This of course does no good and frightens his people.  If any change is made in their condition, I think that it would be well if it were made later in the winter and after they are all in.  If we can keep them divided and destroy Sitting Bull’s influence, I think we can end this trouble in time.  Sitting Bull’s band is the wildest on the continent, and strange as it may seem, there were people in his tribe who had never seen the face of a white man before October twenty-first; and when one of my soldiers went with the interpreter to his band, he was looked upon as a strange and curious thing.  I believe Sitting Bull would be glad to make a peace, at least for a time; but he is afraid he has committed an unpardonable offense. The Cheyennes reported as having gone to the Little Horn Country.  I believe crossed or will cross near the mouths, and will be found on the Big Dry.  I presume they, with Sitting Bull’s band, will number near 500 lodges.”

“P.S. Since sending these warriors in I have appraised General Hagen of my intention of moving immediately north from Tongue River, in order to move on any Indians that may be on the Big Dry, and also to follow those gone to Fort Peck, and have requested him to place supplies at the latter point. “    (0811-0819)

 

Oct 30:  General Crook reports on the disarming of Red Cloud Agency Indians

“Headquarters Department of the Platte, In the Field, Fort Laramie, Wyo. – Having, in accordance with the recent understanding I had with the Lieut. General Commanding, directed the march of Col. Merritt’s Command, consisting of the troops of the Big Horn & Yellowstone Expedition, on the Red Cloud Agency, I left this post for that place on the morning of the 14th instant.”

“Upon arriving at Camp Robinson (Red Cloud), I learned that the Indians were, and had been for some time, out a considerable distance from the Agency, and in quite intimate communication with the hostiles who have been out from there the past summer.”

“While waiting for Col. Merritt’s Command to get within striking distance, it became apparent that the principal bands were about to leave, and movement was precipitated before Col. Merritt’s Command got into position.”

“Col. MacKenzie, 4th Cav, with 8 companies of Cavalry and part of the Pawnee Scouts, left the post after dark on Sunday morning the 22nd instant, and early on the succeeding morning surrounded the bands of Red Leaf and Red Cloud, and when daylight dawned and they saw the condition of things, they surrendered without firing a shot.  They were at once disarmed, their ponies taken from them, and the warriors followed by their families, with their camp equipage and property brought to the Agency, where they were released and put in camp.”

“The disarming of these two bands had a most salutary effect upon the other Indians at the Agency.  The other bands, not disarmed, known as Arapahoes, Loafers & Cut-off Sioux, have been loyal to us, and to have disarmed them with the others would have assayed the white man against the Indian and placed the loyal and disloyal on the same footing.  By not doing this they were convinced in the most decided manner, that such was not our intention, and no amount of talk about; ‘our friendship,’ and the ‘friendship of the Great Father,’ would have so thoroughly impressed it upon their minds.”

“For the first time in the history of this Reservation, did they see the loyal treated as well, even those who have been persistently stubborn and disloyal.  This good effect was at once manifested in the desire of warriors from the bands to enlist, and enlistments have since been going on there in large numbers.”

“Then had a council with Spotted Tail, evidently the most intelligent and loyal of all the head men there, at which an understanding most complete and satisfactory was arrived at.  I then placed him in charge of all the Indians at the Agencies, at the same time advising him to send representative men with the Commission to the Indian Territory as desired by members then present.”

“Enlistments from the Indians at Spotted Tail were to be at once commenced, but notwithstanding this, since I left there, I have been advised by Col MacKenzie that one of the members of the Commission, their late Agent, Howard, advised them not to do so, interfering with the interpreter ‘in the most vicious and wicked way.’”

“It is the impression of these Indians, as expressed to our interpreters, that these enlistments will have a decided effect in inducing the hostiles to accept the terms offered for their surrender.  This I am prepared to believe from the experience I have had with other Indians, and notably with those tribes with which I have come into contact on the Pacific Coast, from British Columbia to Mexico.”

“One thing is certain, it is the entering wedge by which the tribal organization is broken up, making way for civilizing and christianizing influences.  As a soldier the Indian wears the uniform, draws rations & pay, and is in all respects, on an equal footing with a white man.  It demonstrates to his simple mind in the most positive manner that we have no prejudice against him because of his race, and that while he behaves himself he will be treated the same as a white man. Returning to his tribe after his service he is able to see beyond the old superstition that has governed his people, and thinks and decides for himself.”

“It is a measure of humanity and commends itself to us as it shortens the man, and saves the lives of both white men and Indians.”      (0770-0776)

 

Nov 1:  Receipts for goods moved by Wilder.     (0763-0766)

 

Nov 1:  General Crook’s protest against allowing Mr. Howard to have anything to do with the Indians, referred to Commissioner of Indian Affairs & War Dept.:

“It is understood that Howard has gone from the Agency with the Commission, accompanied by some of the Indians.  He should not be allowed to have anything to do at all with these Indians, either with the Commission – or elsewhere, as his advice will be disastrous to the Indians themselves.”     (0734-0738)

Nov 1:  Sherman responds to the foregoing – that the dispatch about Miles and Hazen received – General Sheridan left for Chicago last night. – has abundant faith that General Miles will do all that is possible, and it will be eminently satisfactory if he and General Hazen can catch Sitting Bull about Fort Peck.”      (0758)

Nov 2:  Beef cattle deliveries.     (0726-0733)

 

Nov 2:  Relative to delivery of 310 dozen axe handles to several Agencies.     (0741-0747)

 

Nov 3:  Relative to seizure of last steamboat in local waters for military purpose.  A.H.Wilder, apparently owner of the steamboat, telegraphs  Commissioner of Indian Affairs with his problem:

“Boat seized at Buford by General Hazen while enroute from Peck to Bismarck to load with Standing Rock supplies and sent back to Peck with troops and supplies. I am doing all I can to move the freight.  Part already shipped to Cheyenne think will complete Standing Rock with another boat that I have above Bismarck.  The seizure by General Hazen may prevent any delivering at all to Cheyenne and Agencies below.  Navigation very uncertain.  Usually closed at Sioux City between Oct. 20th & Nov. 1st.  Other boat owners declined loading some days ago on account of lateness of season.”     (0739-0740)

 

Nov 6:  A.H.Wilder telegraphs Commissioner Indian Affairs regarding deliveries via river to Agencies at this late date:

“Weather cold and four inches snow on upper Missouri.  If river keeps open two or three days nearly all of Standing Rock goods will be delivered and half the amount or more for Cheyenne Agencies below will be nearly filled.  I have taken great risks in starting more of the freight arriving late at Sioux City than it was prudent to start with.  Nothing for lower agencies should have been shipped after October 15th or for upper after October 10th.  Seizure of Peniak has materially interfered with my arrangements.”     (0759-0762)

 

Nov 6:  Sheridan disavows Crook’s preceding report dated October 30th:

“1st endorsement … Headquarters, Military Division of the Missouri, Chicago, November 6th, 1876 – Respectfully forwarded.  The action of General Crook in disarming the Red Cloud and Red Leaf bands of Indians at the Red Cloud Agency is highly approved.  His neglect to disarm and dismount other bands at the Agency is disapproved, and all the theories in this respect seem to be given as a plea for not having performed what he promised, and what was expected of him, and which would have been good policy and true humanity.”     (0776-0777)

 

Nov 7:  Gen’l Ruggles forwards the Oct 27th Miles document to Saint Paul noting that under advice of a date subsequent to that of the above order, Lieut. Forbes has taken the Indian Chiefs to Cheyenne Agency.     (0803-0804)

 

Nov 9:  Sheridan reports to Sherman that after pursuit and fight, 400 lodges of hostile Indians surrendered to Col. Miles.  Sitting Bull, with 30 lodges, escaped:

“Over 400 lodges of hostile Indians belonging to the Missouri River Agencies surrendered to Col. Miles 5th Infantry, at a point on the Yellowstone opposite Cabin Creek, giving 5 of the principal chiefs and head men hostages for the delivery of arms, ponies, men, women and children at the Cheyenne Agency on December second (2) seventy six (76).  Sitting Bull, with his small band of 30 lodges, escaped going in the direction of the Dry Fork of the Missouri, Miles in pursuit.  Col. Miles attacked these Indians north of the Yellowstone on the 21st of October, driving them out of their camps, killing five (5).  The Indians fled toward the Yellowstone.  Col. Miles pursuing until the 27th, when the surrender described above, took place.  General Crook and Col. MacKenzie leave Fetterman today or tomorrow to hunt up the Northern Cheyennes and Crazy Horse’s band of Ogallalas from Red Cloud Agency and if successful, which I do not doubt, the Sioux War and all other Indian wars of any magnitude in this country will be at an end forever.”     (0778-0783)

 

Nov 10:  Sherman comments to Sheridan about the great events reported above:

“Your dispatch of yesterday is received and I congratulate you and all concerned about the prospect of closing this Sioux War at this critical period.  Gen. Miles has displayed his usual earnestness and energy and I hope that he will crown his success by capturing or killing Sitting Bull and his remnant of outlaws.  I infer that General Hazen has reached Fort Peck, and it may be that his presence there will assist General Miles materially in his pursuit. – Should General Crook be as successful with Crazy Horse and if we could collect all the Sioux on the Missouri River as near Fort Randall as possible, disarmed and dismounted it would reduce itself to the simple question of feeding them until they learn to raise some food for themselves.  Meantime miners and settlers will fill up north of Laramie and about the Black Hills, so that those troublesome Indians would be hemmed in and would gradually become like those in Minnesota.”     (0783-0784)

 

Nov 10:  Miles’ statement of Oct 27th, given the Indians, subsequently endorsed up through General Sheridan.     (0807-0810)

Nov 11:  Re Indian Boy James Auger – delivered to Yankton Agency … a little homesick at first – but doing fine – issue is closed:     (0767-0769)

 

Nov 16:  Major J.W.Mason, 4th Cav., reports (endorsed by Gen. Crook) from Headquarters, Camp Robinson, Nebraska, that all is quiet at Red Cloud and Spotted Tail:

“Since the disarming and dismounting of Red Cloud’s and Red Leaf’s bands by Col. MacKenzie, 4th Cavalry, October 23rd last, the Indians at Red Cloud and Spotted Tail Agencies have been extremely quiet and obedient and I apprehend no trouble in keeping them in a proper state of subjugation.  Every effort is made to prevent the introduction of ammunition among the Indians and its sale by authorized traders prohibited.  So many Indians representing all the bands at the Agencies having gone with General Crook on the Powder River Expedition, it has not been considered advisable to continue the disarming and dismounting of those who remained back and have so far been orderly and peaceably disarming and dismounting those only who having left, return.  Those known to have been hostile and everyone who misbehaves.”

“The families of Indians who are with General Crook are protected and cared for, so that no dissatisfaction may result from ill treatment of them. “I endeavor to protect all the Indians in rights given them by law and exact from them complete obedience.  While I am satisfied with the present aspect of Cheyenne affairs here, I desire to carry out the wishes of the Lieutenant General fully and am strong enough to do so.”

“No Indians have left here since I assumed command, Oct. 29th, last.”     (0859-0865)

 

Nov 20:  Relative to transporting Indian supplies.     (0785-0787)

Nov 22:  Transportation and Expense Issues.     (0820-0858)

 

Nov 26:  General Crook reports from Camp on Crazy Woman’s Fork on fight with Cheyenne and also that Sitting Bull has made peace with whites:

“On our arrival here on the 23rd instant, an Indian whom MacKenzie had sent to the hostile camp before leaving Red Cloud, came into our camp and gave information which determined me to carry out my original plan of operating against the Cheyennes first.  Consequently on the 24th I sent Col. MacKenzie with cavalry and infantry scouts over the Big Horn Mountain.  This morning a dispatch from MacKenzie saying he attacked the Cheyenne Village of over 100 lodges on West Fork of Powder river yesterday morning capturing their village and greater part of their herd.  Loss on both sides, though considerable, but was not ascertained when courier left.  Lt. McKinney, fourth (4) cavalry, was killed.  The Indians had taken refuge in the adjacent bad lands and he wanted me to bring up the infantry with their long range guns to help dislodge them.  It has been snowing all morning with prospect of a big snow. – Expect trouble in getting over to MacKenzie.  The Indian that came into us here says that while at Crazy Horse’s Camp runners came in from Sitting Bull village with the information that he had made peace with the whites to the effect that they would be allowed to hunt buffalo until Spring when they were to have an agency on the Belle Fourche in the Black Hills, that a portion of Sitting Bull’s village was talking of moving up to join Crazy Horse who was camped on the Rosebud near the point where General Terry and I met last summer.”     (0866-0872)

 

Nov 26:  Col. MacKenzie’s report to Crook from Camp on Powder River on his fight with Cheyennes and accounts received from Sitting Bull:

“I have the honor to report that at about twelve o’clock PM on the 24th inst while marching in a southerly direction towards the Sioux Pass of the Big Horn Mountains, I was met by 5 of the 7 Indian scouts who had been sent out the evening before who reported that they had discovered the main camp of the Cheyennes at a point in the mountains about fifteen or twenty miles distant, two of the seven Indians remaining to watch their camp.  The Command was halted near sunset, and then moved toward the village, intending to reach it at or before daylight.  Owing to the nature of the country which was very rough and in some places difficult to pass with cavalry, the Command did not reach the village until about half an hour after daylight –  The surprise was, however, almost, if not quite, complete.  The approach to the village, the only practicable one, entered the lower end and the Indians taking alarm took refuge in a network of very difficult ravines beyond the upper end of the village, leaving it on foot and taking nothing but their arms with them.  A brisk fight for about an hour ensued after which skirmishing was kept up until night.  The village, consisting of 173 lodges, and their entire contents, were destroyed.  About 500 ponies were taken and 25 Indians killed, whose bodies fell into our hand, but from reports which I have no reason to doubt, I believe a much larger number were killed.  Our loss was one officer and 5 men killed and 25 soldiers and one Shoshone Indian wounded, fifteen cavalry horses and 4 horses belonging to scouts were killed.  The Command remained in the village during the night and moved to this point today.  Lieut McKinney, 4th Cavalry, who was killed in the affair, was one of the most gallant officers and honorable men that I have known.”     (0881-0883)

 

Nov 28:  Sheridan forwards Crook’s report of Nov 28th from Crazy Woman’s Fork on MacKenzie’s fight with Cheyennes and accounts received from Sitting Bull:

“Before reaching General MacKenzie I learned of the Indians having retreated, and that he was returning with his command, so I countermanded the foot troops to this place.  I send you General MacKenzie’s report of his operation against the Cheyennes.  I can’t comment too highly his brilliant achievements and the gallantry of the troops of his command.  This will be a terrible blow to the hostiles, as these Cheyennes were not only the bravest warriors but have been head and front of most all the raids and deviltry committed in this country.”     (0878-0881)

 

Nov 28:  A repeat of Crook’s original report forwarded to Gen’l Townsend, Washington, D.C.     (0885-0887)

Dec 1:  Various expense items.     (0873-0877)

Dec 1:  A repeat of Crook’s and MacKenzie’s reports on Cheyenne fight.     (9000-0907)

Dec 1:  Orders regarding sale of Indian ponies at Standing Rock.     (0908-0912)

Dec 1:  Various expense and transportation of cattle and Indian issues.     (0913-0933)

 

Dec 2:  Sherman comments to Sheridan on Crook’s & MacKenzie’s reports:

“Your dispatch of the 1st instant embracing the reports of Generals Crook and MacKenzie is received.  Please convey to Generals Crook and MacKenzie my congratulations and assure them that we appreciate highly the services of our brave officers and men, who are now fighting savages in the most inhospitable region of our continent.  I hope their efforts this winter will result of perfect success and that our troops will hereafter be spared the necessity of these hard winter campaigns.”     (0883-0884)

 

Dec 6:  Various expense and transportation of cattle issues.     (0888-0899)

Dec 13:  Regarding feeding Indians being returned to Agencies & misc. issues.     (0934-0942)

 

Dec 22General Sherman contradicts rumor of massacre of Major Randall and his Crow Scouts:

“There is no truth in the reports published in some of the Eastern papers of the massacre of Major Randall and his Crow Scouts.  Major Randall was at Old Fort Reno with his 70 scouts, on the 14th of Dec, on his way to join General Crook, who – with his command – was on the Belle Fourche, about 30 miles northeast of Reno.”     (0943-0946)

 

END OF ROLL 847

 

 

 

 

 

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