Annie Heloise Abel.

The American Indian as Participant in the Civil War online

. (page 28 of 35)
Online LibraryAnnie Heloise AbelThe American Indian as Participant in the Civil War → online text (page 28 of 35)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

with the Department of Arkansas and the consequent separation from
that of Kansas had been anything but a wise move. The relations of the
Indian country with the state in which its exiles had found refuge
were necessarily of the closest and particularly so at this time when
their return from exile was under way and almost over. For reasons
not exactly creditable to the government, when all was known, Colonel
Phillips had been removed from command at Fort Gibson. At the time of
Watie's raid, Colonel C.W. Adams was the incumbent of the post; but,
following it, came Colonel S.H. Wattles[964] and things went rapidly
from bad to worse. The grossest corruption prevailed and, in the
midst of plenty, there was positive want. Throughout the winter,
cattle-driving was indulged in, army men, government agents, and
civilians all participating. It was only the ex-refugee that faced
starvation. All other folk grew rich. Exploitation had succeeded
neglect and Indian Territory presented the spectacle of one of the
greatest scandals of the time; but its full story is not for recital

Great as Maxey's services to Indian Territory had been and yet were,
he was not without his traducers and Cooper was chief among them, his

[Footnote 964: _Official Records_, vol. xli, part iii, 301.
Wattles was not at Fort Gibson a month before he was told to be
prepared to move even his Indian Brigade to Fort Smith [Ibid.,
part iv, 130]. The necessity for executing the order never arose,
although all the winter there was talk off and on of abandoning Fort
Gibson entirely, sometimes also there was talk of abandoning Fort
Smith. So weak had the two places been for a long time that Cooper
insisted there was no good reason why the Confederates should not
attempt to seize them. It is interesting that Thayer notified Wattles
to be prepared to move just when there was the greatest prospect of a
Confederate Indian raid into Kansas.]

ambition being still unsatisfied. In November, at a meeting of the
general council for the confederated tribes, Maxey spoke[965] in his
own defence and spoke eloquently; for his cause was righteous. General
Smith was his friend[966] in the sense that he had been Steele's;
but there soon came a time when even the department commander was
powerless to defend him further. Early in 1865, Cooper journeyed to
Richmond.[967] What he did there can be inferred from the fact that
orders were soon issued for him to relieve Maxey.[968] He assumed
command of the district he had so long coveted and had sacrificed
honor to get, March first,[969] General Smith disapproving of the
whole procedure. "The change," said he, "has not the concurrence of my
judgment, and I believe will not result beneficially."[970]

But Smith was mistaken in his prognostications. The change was not
just but it did work beneficially. Cooper knew how to manage the
Indians, none better, and the time was fast approaching when they
would need managing, if ever. As the absolute certainty of Confederate
defeat gradually dawned upon them, they became almost desperate.
They had to be handled very carefully lest they break out beyond all

[Footnote 965: _Official Records_, vol. xli, part iv, 1035-1037;
vol. liii, supplement, 1027.]

[Footnote 966: In July, 1864, orders issued from Richmond for the
retirement of Maxey and the elevation of Cooper [Ibid., part
ii, 1019]; but Smith held them in abeyance [Ibid., part
iii, 971]; for he believed that Maxey's "removal, besides being an
injustice to him, would be a misfortune to the department." The
suppression of the orders failed to meet the approval of the
authorities at Richmond and some time subsequent to the first of
October Smith was informed that the orders were "imperative and must
be carried into effect" [Ibid.,].]

[Footnote 967: _Official Records_, vol. xlviii, part i, 1382.]

[Footnote 968: - Ibid., 1403.]

[Footnote 969: - Ibid., 1408.]

[Footnote 970: - Ibid.]

[Footnote 971: The evidence for this is chiefly in Cooper's own letter
book. One published letter is especially valuable in this connection.
It is from Cooper (cont.)]

Phillips was again in charge of their northern compatriots[972] and,
at Fort Gibson, he, too, was handling Indians carefully. It was in a
final desperate sort of a way that a league with the Indians of the
Plains was again considered advisable and held for debate at the
coming meeting of the general council. To effect it, when decided
upon, the services of Albert Pike were solicited.[973] No other could
be trusted as he. Apparently he never served or agreed to serve[974]
and no alliance was needed; for the war was at an end. On the
twenty-sixth of May, General E. Kirby Smith entered into a convention
with Major-general E.R.S. Canby, commanding the Military Division
of West Mississippi, by which he agreed to surrender the
Trans-Mississippi Department and everything appertaining to it.[975]
The Indians had made an alliance with the Southern Confederacy in
vain. The promises of Pike, of Cooper, and of many another government
agent had all come to naught.

[Footnote 971: (cont.) confidentially to Anderson, May 15, 1865.
_Official Records_, vol. xlviii, part ii, 1306.]

[Footnote 972: For Phillips's own account of his reinstallment,
see his letter to Herron, January 16, 1865, Ibid., part i,

[Footnote 973: Smith to Pike, April 8, 1864, Ibid., part ii,
1266-1269. It was necessary to have someone else beside Throckmorton,
who was a Texan, serve; because the Indians of the Plains had a deep
distrust of Texas and of all Texans [Smith to Cooper, April 8, 1864,
Ibid., 1270-1271; and Smith to Throckmorton, April 8, 1864,
Ibid., 1271-1272].]

[Footnote 974: Smith issued him a commission however. See
Ibid., 1266.]

[Footnote 975: - Ibid., 604-606.]


December 30, 1862.

SIR: My letters, in respectful terms, addressed to your Adjutant
General, when I re-assumed command of the Indian Country, late in
October, have not been fortunate enough to be honored with a reply.
This will reach you through another medium, and so that others besides
yourself shall know its contents. I am no longer an officer under
you, but a private citizen, and _free_, so far as any citizen of
Arkansas can call himself free while he lives in this State; and
I will see whether you are as impervious to _all_ other
considerations, as you are to all sense of courtesy and justice.

You were sent out to Arkansas with certain _positive_ orders,
which you were _immediately_ to enforce. You _knew_
that "Gen Hindman never was the commanding General of the Trans.
Mississippi Department," and was not sent there by the War Department;
and that, _therefore_ and _of course_, all his orders were
illegal, for want of power. You _knew_ that he never had any
right to interfere with my command in the Department of Indian
Territory, to take away my troops and ordnance, or to send me
_any_ orders whatever; and that _therefore_ I was
_wholly_ in the right, in all my controversy with him. You
_knew_, also, that in stripping the Indian Country of troops,
artillery, arms and ammunition, he had been guilty of multiplied
outrages, contrary to the will and policy of the President, forbidden
by the Secretary of War for the future, and hostile to the interests
of the Confederacy.

I had been advised by the Secretary of War, on the 14th of July,
before _you_ were unfortunately thought of [in] connection with
the Trans. Mississippi Department, that Gen. Magruder was assigned to
the command of it; and that although I would be under his command,
it was not doubted that my relations with him would be pleasant and
harmonious, and that I would have such latitude in command of the
Indian country, as might be necessary for me to

[Footnote 976: Scottish Rite Temple, Pike _Papers_.]

act to the best advantage in its defence. And by the same letter I was
advised, that it was regretted I had met with so many embarrassments
in procuring supplies; and that an order had been issued from the
Adjutant and Inspector General's Office, to prevent the pursuing of
such courses as I had complained of, in the seizure of what I had
procured; and the Secretary said it was to be hoped that neither I nor
any other officer would hereafter have cause to complain of supplies
being diverted from their legitimate destination. And that Gen.
Magruder might fully understand my position, &c., a copy of my letter
of 8th June, to General Hindman, stating in detail the plundering
process to which the Indian Service had before then been subjected,
was furnished to the former officer. Three several copies of this
letter were sent me, that it might be certain to reach me.

I do not repeat the substance of that letter, for _your_ benefit.
You have known it, no doubt, ever since you left Richmond. You told me
in August, that the War Department was fully informed in regard to the
matters between myself and Generals Van Dorn and Hindman. You spoke
it in the way of a taunt, and as if the Department justified them
and condemned me. You _meant_ me so to understand it. You are a
_very_ ingenious person; inasmuch as you _knew_ the exact
contrary to be true. When I afterwards received the Secretary's
letter, I remembered your remark, and did not doubt, and do not now
doubt, that when you were substituted for Gen. Magruder, you received
the same instructions that had been given _him_ and were yourself
furnished with a copy of the same letter, for the same purpose.

At all events, you were sent out to put an end to his outrages, and to
avert, if you could, the mischiefs about to spring from them. But when
you reached Little Rock, you found him there, and you found that the
troops, artillery, ammunition and stores that had reached and were on
their way there from the Indian Country, under his unrighteous orders,
_and which it was your duty to restore to me_, were too valuable
to be parted with, if that could be in any way avoided. Probably you
foresaw that you might, by and by need to seize money and supplies
procured by me. Twenty-six pieces of artillery, a supply of fixed
ammunition and other trifles, on hand, with $1,350,000 in money, and
over 6,000 suits of clothing in prospect, were the bait Hindman had to
tempt you withal; and for it you

sold your soul, as Faust sold his to Mephistopheles. Your Lieutenant
became your master; you found it convenient to believe his version
of every thing, and to justify him in every thing, and you ended in
making all his devilments your own, and adopting the whole infernal
spawn and brood, with additions of your own to the family.

You told me in August, that you had been prepared to judge me
favorably, until you read my address to the Indians on resigning my
command, but after that, you could not judge me fairly. I did not in
the least doubt the _fact_; but I did _not_ believe the
_reason_. What, moreover, had _you_ to _judge_ in
regard to _me_? You were not sent to _judge_ any body.
Hindman was the criminal you _were_ to operate upon.

And, if you were sent, or had otherwise any right, to judge _me_,
you administered the sort of justice that is in vogue in hell. Before
you _saw me, you heard him_. You adopted all his views, and never
asked me a question in regard to our controversy, or as to my own
action, or the condition of things in the Indian Country. I had been
infamously and assiduously slandered, from the moment when I began to
resist his illegal, impolitic and outrageous attempts to deprive the
Indian Department of every thing, to make it a mere appanage of, and
appendix to, North-Western Arkansas, to take the Indians again out
of their own country, and to compel me to unite in that insane and
miserable "expedition into Missouri," which was projected and planned
by Folly, mis-managed and misconducted by Imbecility and ended, as I
knew it would, in disaster and disgrace. Lies of all varieties were
ingeniously and laboriously invented at and about Head Quarters, and
despatches, by special and _fit_ agents, to be industriously
circulated throughout the Indian Country and Texas, as well as
Arkansas. The Indians were told that I had carried away into Texas the
gold and silver belonging to _them_; while the Texans were made
to believe that I was paying _their_ moneys to the Indians. It
was reported, in Bonham, Texas, by officers sent from Hindman's Head
Quarters, that I was defaulter to the amount of $125,000 and at last
there crawled out from the sewer under the throne, and sneaked about
the Indian Country and Texas, the damnable lie, that an Indian had
been taken, bearing letters from me to the Northern Indians, or, to
the enemy in Kansas; or, as another version had it, from Gen. James H.
Lane to me; and

three months ago it was whispered about that I was a member of the
secret disloyal organization in Northern Texas. Such lies could have
been counted by scores. Most of them are dead and rotten; but some
still live, by means of assiduous nursing. And all these lies, and
more either you or Hindman sent to the President at Richmond.

I say, sir, you never _inquired_ into _any_ thing. You
never wished to _hear_ any thing, whatever from _me_. You
disobeyed the orders with which you were sent as a public curse and
calamity into Arkansas, as if the State were not already sufficiently
infested by Hindman. Is it true that he has lately, upon his single
order, and without the ceremony of even a _mock_ trial, caused
three men "suspected of disloyalty" to be shot; and that, two of them
being proven to him to be true Southern men, he sent a reprieve,
which, either setting out too late, or lagging on the way, reached the
scene of murder after their blood had bathed the desecrated soil of
Arkansas? It has come to me so, from officers direct from Fort Smith.
At any rate, he has put to death nine or ten persons, without any
legal trial. Who is _he_, that he should do these things in this
nineteenth century? And who are _you_, sir, that you should
suffer, and by suffering, _approve_ and adopt them? How many
_more_ murders will suffice to awaken public vengeance?

Was the Star Chamber any worse than Hindman's Military Commissions,
that are ordered to preserve no records? Were the _Lettres de
Cachet_ of Louis XV, any greater outrage on the personal liberty of
_French subjects_, than Hindman's arrests and committal to the
Penitentiary of _suspected_ persons? Was Tristan l'Hermite any
more the minister of tyranny, than his Provost Marshals? or Caligula,
Caesar Borgia or Colonel Kirke any more cruel and remorseless than he,
that you have sustained all his acts, and made all his atrocities your
own? Take care, sir! You are not so high, that you may not be reached
by the arm of justice. The President is above you both, and God is
above him, and _sometimes_ interferes in human affairs.

Unless the late Secretary of War, through the President, sent an
official falsehood to the Congress of the Confederate States, you
were sent to Arkansas with _positive_ and _unconditional_
instructions, that, if Gen. Hindman _had_ declared Martial Law in
Arkansas, and adopted oppressive police regulations under it, _you
should rescind the_

_declarations of Martial Law, and the Regulations adopted to carry
it into effect_. You have not done so. You have not only _not_
rescinded _any_ thing; but you have, by a General Order, long
ago, continued in force all orders of General Hindman, not specially
revoked by you. That order could have no retroactive effect, to make
_his_ orders _to have been valid_ in the _past_. It
could only put them in force for the _future_; and you thereby
made them _your_ orders, as fully as if you had re-issued them.
In so doing, you became the enemy of your country, if not of the Human
race, and outlawed yourself.

You have _yourself_ established a tariff of prices exclusively on
articles produced by the farmers, including the sweet potatoes raised
by old women and superannuated negroes. You leave the Jews and
extortioners, some of the former of whom go about in uniforms,
claiming to be _officers_ and your agents to charge these same
venders of produce, whatever infamous prices they please for wares
they need to purchase with the pittances received according to your
scale of prices, for the vegetables that supply your and other tables.

You pretend, I learn, that the President gave you discretionary power,
in regard to Martial Law, and the Regulations in question. I do not
believe it; for, if he did, then he and the Secretary intentionally
deceived Congress by the equivalent of a lie. Do you pretend that the
President paltered with Congress in a double sense? I put you face
to face. Is it _your_ act, in _defiance_ of orders, that
continues Martial Law in force in Arkansas, stifles freedom of speech,
muzzles the Press, tramples on all the rights at once of the People of
that State, and makes the State itself only a congregation of Helots,
incompetent to be represented in Congress? Is it merely a contest
between you and Phelps, _which_ of the two shall be Military
Governor? If it _is_ your act, then justice ought at once to be
done upon you, lest the President, winking at the outrage, and not
stripping from your back your uniform of Lieutenant General, should
deserve to be impeached, as your accomplice.

Or, do you dare assert that it is _his_ act, because he gave you
discretionary power on the subject, after informing Congress that
Hindman never was Commanding General of the Department, and that you
had been ordered to rescind his declaration of Martial Law, - nay,
after publicly proclaiming that _no_ General had any power to
declare Martial Law? All the Confederacy thanked and applauded

him for so striking at the root of an immense outrage and abuse and
an unexpected public course; but if he has authorized or sanctions
_your_ course, he is unworthy longer to be President. If he has
not, you have defied his orders and justified men in judging yourself
authorized and him guilty; and so you are unworthy longer to be

When I saw you in August, you were greatly exercised on the subject of
my printed address to the Indians, publication of which in Little Rock
you had suppressed, _as if it could do any harm in Arkansas_. You
suppressed it, because it exposed those whose acts were losing the
Indian Country. You wanted to keep what had been taken from _me_,
and to escape damnation for the probable _consequences_ of the
acts, the _profit_ of which you were reluctant to part with. I do
not wonder the letter troubled you; for it told _the truth_, and
condemned and denounced in advance _more_ unjustifiable courses
of conduct that you were about to pursue.

You pretended that it had produced a great "ferment" among the
Indians; and that even many of the Chickasaws had in consequence
of it, left the service. It had produced _no_ ferment, and
_none_ of the Chickasaws had left us. On the contrary, the
Indians were quieted by it, the Creeks re-organized, in numbers, two
regiments, and the Chickasaws five companies. That was its purpose,
and such was its effect.

But to _you_, its enormity consisted in its exposure of the
conduct of two Major Generals. I told the Indians _plainly_, that
it was not _my_ fault or the fault of the Government, but of
these two Generals, that moneys, clothing, arms and ammunition,
procured for them, had not reached them; that troops raised for
service among them had never entered their country; and that, finally,
troops, artillery and ammunition were carried out of it. This
censure of my _superiors_, in vindication of the President and
Government, shocked your tender sensibilities. You were ready to
follow in their footsteps, and already _had_ the plunder; and you
told me that "the act of the officer was the act of the Government."
Did you really _mean_, that the Indians should have been led or
left to suppose that these acts were the acts of the Government?
That would have been _almost_ as great an infamy, as it was to
_take_ the supplies, and so give them cause and reason to believe
the robbery the act of the Government, _and thus excite them to
revolt_. Moreover, when I told you that the act of

the officer was _not_, in the case in question, the act of the
Government; that, if I had permitted the Indians to suppose so,
they would long have left us; and that, to quiet them, I had been
compelled, for three months and more than a hundred times, to explain
to them what had become of their supplies, and how and by whom
they have been seized, you admitted that "that was right for local
explanation." As there could be no objection to telling all, what I
had often told part, that _they_ might tell the rest; and as it
was no more a crime to _print_ than to _say_ it; I have
the right to believe and I _do_ believe that your _real_
objection to its publication was that it exposed _to our own people
the actual_ conduct of other Generals, and the _intended_
conduct of yourself. Have _you_ left the Indians to believe that
the late seizure and appropriation, by _yourself_, of their
clothing and moneys, is the act of the Government? If you have, you
ought to be shot as a Traitor, for provoking them to revolt, and
giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

But you told me, that when you first read my letter, you held up your
hands, and exclaimed, "What! is the man a Traitor?" And you said that
not one of my friends in Little Rock, and I had, you said, a great
many, pretended to justify the letter. You have never found a friend
of mine, or an indifferent person, silly enough to think, like you,
that it savored of treason. It is only rarely one meets a man so
scantily furnished with sense as to misunderstand and pervert what is
written in plain English. I was vindicating myself, and still more
the Government, and persuading the Indians to remain loyal,
notwithstanding the wrongs they had endured. I, too, was an officer;
and _my_ acts _had_ been the acts of the Government.
_My_ promises to them were _its_ promises. The procuring of
supplies by _me_, was _its_ act; and when, reaching or not
reaching the frontier, the supplies were like the unlucky traveler,
who journeyed from Jerusalem to Jericho, _then_ the Government
_ceased_ to act, and unlicensed outrage took its place. And,
further, _my_ act was the act of the Government, when I told the
Indians _why_ they had not received their supplies and money, and
vindicated that Government at the expense of those who were guilty of
the act; and who having done it and reaped the profit, should not be
heard to object that all the world should know what they did, nor be
allowed to escape the responsibility of _all_ the consequences.

If to tell the Indians that other Generals had wrongfully stopped

their supplies, in any degree _resembled_ Treason, that could
only be so, because it _was_ treason to _do_ the act. It
cannot be wrong to make known what it was right and proper to do. The
truth is, that the acts done were outrages, which it was desirable for
the doers to conceal from the Indians. I refused to become a party to
those outrages, by concealing them. I would not agree in advance to
be _silent_, when _you_ should repeat and improve on those
outrages, and consummate what had been so felicitously begun.

I do not doubt that there are assassins wearing uniforms, who are
knaves enough to _pretend_ to read my letter as you do, and to
see in it the desire of a disappointed man to be revenged, even by the
ruin of his country. Power always has its pimps and catamites. These
would no doubt gladly have made my letter the means of murdering me
by that devilish engine of Military despotism, a Military commission,
that is _ordered_ to preserve no records. You, I think really
look upon it with alarm. It is, no doubt, _very_ desirable to
_you_, that the blame of losing the Indian Country, which, if not
already a fact accomplished, is a fact inevitable, should be made to
fall upon me. You, as the pliant and useful implement of Gen. Hindman,
are the cause of this loss; and you know I can prove it. You and he
have left nothing _undone_, that _could_ be done, to lose
it. And you may rest assured, that whether I live or die, you shall
not escape one jot or tittle of the deep damnation to which you are
richly entitled for causing a loss so irretrievable, so astounding, so
unnecessary and so _fatal_, and one which it will be impossible
to excuse as owing to ignorance and stupidity. No degree of
_these_ misfortunes, can be pleaded in bar of judgment.
_You_ will have _forced_ the Indians to go to the North for

Online LibraryAnnie Heloise AbelThe American Indian as Participant in the Civil War → online text (page 28 of 35)