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Nelson Appleton Miles.

Personal recollections and observations of General Nelson A. Miles embracing a brief view of the Civil War, or, From New England to the Golden Gate : and the story of his Indian campaigns, with comments on the exploration, development and progress of our great western empire online

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Online LibraryNelson Appleton MilesPersonal recollections and observations of General Nelson A. Miles embracing a brief view of the Civil War, or, From New England to the Golden Gate : and the story of his Indian campaigns, with comments on the exploration, development and progress of our great western empire → online text (page 16 of 51)
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the same time impressing one with their force. These were accompanied
by the distant roll of thunder and occasional flashes of lightning, followed
by a drenching flood of water, and then came the fierce onslaught of the
terrible storm in all its wild and relentless fury. It was at first refreshing,
but afterward pitiless in volume and extent and in its incessant raging.
The tethered animals, unable to break away, turned their heads from the
storm and huddled together as best they could to escape its fury. Fortu-
nate indeed were those able to back up against some strong tent or covered
wagon which would partly protect them from the beating hail and rain.
It is remarkable how quickly changes occur in that country, from extreme
heat to what is there called the" norther ;" the cold harsh winds that are filled
with particles of ice which neither man nor animal can face. These
storms are undoubtedly the result of a cold current of the atmosphere
coming in contact with a warmer one near the earth. To attempt to
move under such circumstances would have been extremely injudicious,
and all that could be done was to patiently wait until the storm should be
over and the earth dry again. Fortunately, by carefully husbanding our
supplies, we had enough to last us until the supply-train arrived.

The river spoken of as drifting white sand had now become a roaring
torrent of water, rushing down through the arroyas and canons, and fill-
ing' the main streams until they overflowed their banks. The streams
which ten or twelve days before were wide stretches of dry sand could
not now be crossed without great difficulty and danger, the horses being
compelled to swim. The dry, heated atmosphere had given place to one
filled with water and charged with electricity.



172 PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS OF




CHAPTER XII.

KlOWAS AND COMANCHES.

THE KIOWAS AND COMANCHES ON THE WAR PATH ATTACK ON THE SUPPLY TRAIN SCOUT SCHMAL-
SLE TRAIN RELIEVED GALLANT DEFENSE OP SERGEANT WOODHALL AND PARTY
CAPTAIN BALDWIN'S FIGHT ON THE MCCLELLAN CREEK RESCUE OP JULIA AND
ADELAIDE GERMAINE A MIDWINTER CAMPAIGN RESCUE OP THE Two
REMAINING GERMAINE SISTERS AND SUBMISSION OP THE LAST OP
THE HOSTILES ORIGIN OF THE CARLISLE INDIAN SCHOOL
RESULTS OP THE SUBJUGATION OF THE SOUTHERN
TRIBES OPINION OP GENERAL SHERI-
DAN ON THE CAMPAIGN.

UR trains were sent back, as stated, to Fort Supply to replenish
our stores. While this was being done a large body of Kiowas
and Comanches left their reservation and commenced hostilities,
crossing our trail near where we had crossed the Washita in
going south. Here they attacked our supply train, then return-
ing under the command of Captain Wyllys Lyman from Camp
Supply, who with his escort was surrounded and held for several
days, though he made a very spirited and determined defense. One
officer, Lieutenant Lewis, was permanently disabled, and several of
his men were killed or wounded, yet he made a very good defense
against some two hundred and fifty or three hundred warriors. Dur-
ing the night a daring young scout named Schmalsle dashed out on
horseback through the line of beleaguers, who quickly followed him, but
being well mounted and a very light rider he was too speedy for his pur-
suers. They chased him into a large herd of buffaloes, which enabled him
to escape in the tumult and under the cover of the darkness. He came
near being thrown, however, by his horse stepping into a hole ; an acci-
dent by which he lost his rifle. He rode on as rapidly as his horse could
carry him during the night until at last the animal was utterly exhausted
and he was obliged to leave him in a small bit of timber. After this he
traveled by night, on foot, concealing himself during the day in the brush
or timber, and finally reached Camp Supply, Indian Territory, giving infor-
mation of the situation of the beleaguered train to the commanding officer,
Colonel Lewis, who at once sent out a detachment to its relief. On the



GENERAL NELSON A. MILES.



173



approach of this relief the Indians withdrew, and allowed Captain Lyman
to proceeed on his route.

Later, a detachment of six men, in carrying a dispatch from the com-
mand near the Red River to Camp Supply were surrounded by one
hundred and fifteen warriors. Taking refuge in a buffalo wallow, a slight
depression on the open plain, they there held their ground until the ap-
proach of a command under Major Price, when the Indians withdrew. The
soldierly qualities here displayed were such that I thought the incident
worthy of a special report, which I made as follows :

HEADQUARTERS INDIAN TERRITORY EXPEDITION, )
CAMP ON WASHITA RIVER, TEXAS, SEPTEMBER 24, 1874 j

ADJUTANT-GENERAL, U. S. ARMY : (Thro' Offices of Asst. Acljt. -General at Hdqrs.
Dept. and Division of the Missouri and of the Army.)

GENERAL : I deem it but a duty to brave men and faithful soldiers to bring to the
notice of the highest military authority an instance of indomitable courage, skill and true
heroism on the part of a detachment from his command,
with the request that the actors be rewarded, and their faith-
fulness and bravery recognized by pensions, medals- of-
honor, or in such way as may be deemed most fitting.

On the night of the 10th instant, a party consisting of
Sergeant Z. T. Woodhall, Co. " I," Privates Peter Rath,
Co. "A," John Harrington, Co. "H," and
George W. Smith Co. " M," 6th Cavalry, and
Scouts Amos Chapman and William Dixon, were
sent as bearers of Despatches from the Camp of
this command on McClellan Creek, Texas, to
Camp Supply, I. T.

At 6 A.M. of the 12th, when approaching the
Washita River, they were met and surrounded
by a band of about 125 Kiowas and Comanches,
who had recently left their agency, and at the
first attack four of the six were struck. Pvt.
Smith, mortally, and three others severely
wounded. Although enclosed on all sides and
by overwhelming numbers, one of them suc-
ceeded, while they were under a severe fire at
short range, and while the others witli their rifles
were keeping the Indians at bay. in digging with his knife and hands a slight cover. After
tins had been secured they placed themselves within it, the wounded walking with brave
and painful efforts, and Private Smith though he had received a mortal wound sitting
upright in the trench, to conceal the crippled condition of their party from the Indians.

From early morning till dark, outnumbered '25 to 1, under an almost constant fire and
at such short range that they sometimes used their pistols, retaining the last charge to pre-
vent capture and torture, this little party of five defended their lives and the person of
M 11




WM. F. SCHMALSI.E, SCOUT.



174 PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS OF

their dying comrade, without food, and their only drink the rain water that collected in
the hollow they had made, mingled with their own blood. There is no doubt that they
killed more than double their number, besides those they wounded.

The Indians abandoned the attack at dark on the 12th.

The exposure and distance from the command, which were necessary incidents of their
duty, were such that for thirty-six hours from the first attack their condition could not be
known, and not till midnight of the 13th could they receive medical attendance or food,
and they were exposed during all this time to an incessant cold storm.

Sergeant Woodhall, Private Harrington and Scout Chapman were seriously wounded :
Private Smith died of his wound on the morning of the 13th; Pvt. Rath and Scout Dixon
were struck but not disabled.

The simple recital of their deeds and the mention of the odds against which they
fought ; how the wounded defended the dying, and the dying aided the wounded by ex-
posure to fresh wounds after the power of action was gone ; these alone present a scene
of cool courage, heroism and self-sacrifice which duty, as well as inclination, prompts us
to recognize, but which we cannot fitly honor. Very respct'ly, Your obedient serv't,

(Signed) : NELSOX A. MILES,

Colonel and Brevet Major-General, U. S. Army, Commanding.

About this time excellent work was done by General Mackenzie's com-
mand from the south. They had moved up, crossing the head of Tule canon
and surprised a camp of Indians at Canon Blanco, a tributary of the Red
River, capturing a herd of Indian ponies, numbering some twelve hundred,
and destroying the camp. This enterprising officer's operations were much
crippled by the difficulty of getting his transportation from the south, and
his command was very much broken down by the terrible rains that fol-
lowed the dry season, and made that portion of the country in which lie
was operating almost impassable for wagons. Of course we also had these
floods to contend with, but by establishing small supply camps on the
Canadian, the Washita, and the tributaries of the Red River, I was enabled
to keep my command in very fair order and use it against the Indians
whenever they could be found in that remote country.

Our operations lasted during the autumn, and even into the winter. They
resulted in nine different engagements and affairs with the Indians by dif-
ferent detachments and under different officers ; chiefly under Major
Compton, Captain Chaff ee, Lieutenant Baldwin and Major Lyman. When-
ever the Indians could be found they were followed as long as their trails
could be traced. Lieutenant Baldwin with his detachment, and Troop D of
Sixth Cavalry, and Company D of Fifth Infantry, attacked a camp of the chief,
Gray Beard, Cheyenne Indians on the north branch of McClellan Creek on
November 8, and in a spirited engagement drove the Indians out of their
camp to the Staked Plains again.



GENERAL NELSON A. MILES.



175



In this engagement he rescued two white girls that were held in cap-
tivity by these Indians, named Julia and Adelaide Germaine, whose parents
had been killed in western Kansas, as mentioned in a previous chapter.
Here we first learned that besides these two, the two elder sisters were still
in the hands of the Indians. It was surprising to see the sympathy and emo-
tion of the soldiers and trainmen as they listened to the story from the
lips of these two little half-starved girls. One teamster, as the tears of
sympathy rolled down his cheeks, remarked: "I have driven my mules
over these plains for three months, but I will stay forever or until we get




THE VICTORY OP THE PRIVATES.

them other girls." These little children
were sent back in charge of Dr. Powell to Fort
Leavenworth, Kansas, where they were well cared for.
On his return Dr. Powell brought with him a photograph which he had had
taken of them in their improved condition, and which was used in an im-
portant event that occurred two months later.

The campaign continued during the autumn, the purpose being to make
that remote country, which the Indians had formerly used as their retreat-
ing ground, untenable for them until they should be brought under subjec-
tion. As they had been defeated in so many engagements, the weakest of
the Indians began to retreat back to the agency in small numbers, and the
approach of cold weather was having its effect on all the tribes that re-
mained out in hostility. Their ponies had been so much worn down by their



176



PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS OF



being kept constantly on the move that when winter struck them in their
weakened condition they died by hundreds on the cold, bleak plains.

Finally, in January, believing that those still remaining out were in a
disposition to surrender, I sent a message to them demanding their surren-
der; and the friendly Indian who carried this despatch also took with him
the photograph of the two little Germaine girls, with the injunction to
place it. unknown to the Indians, in the hand of one of the captives, if he
could find them. The message was carried by a small detachment of
friendly Indians. They found the hostile camp on the Staked Plains, on a
tributary of the Pecos River, on the border of New Mexico. The Indian
carrying the photograph of the little girls when unobserved quietly placed
it in the hands of the eldest; giving her the first knowledge she had that
her sisters were living and that they had been recaptured. On the back of
the photograph was a message reading as follows :

HEADQUAKTERS TXDIAN TERRITORY EXPEDITION.

!>' THE FIELD, January 20th, 1875.

To the Misses Germaine: Your little sisters are well, and in the hands of friends. Do
not be discouraged. Every effort is being 1 made for your welfare.

(Signed) NELSON A. MILES, Colonel and Brevet Major-General, U. S. Army,

Commanding Expedition.

The girl afterward told me that she was almost wild with joy on re-
ceiving the message. L T p to that time she had not had a single ray of
hope and did not know that any one knew where they
were or that they were alive, or that they would ever see
the faces of white people again. She said that from that
time until they were finally restored the hope of ultimate
relief gave them courage to endure their hardships.
With the demand for the surrender of the Indians
when it was delivered, was a message to the
chief saying that no peace could be made except
on condition that they brought in alive the
prisoners they had in their hands. The
chief at once sent for these two girls and
placed them in a tent next to his own, and
had them well cared for, and the whole body
immediately commenced to move toward the
east, traveling through the storms of winter and
over the snow and ice a distance of more than
two hundred miles to their agency, where they finally
surrendered. The winter was very cold and although causing some suffer-




GENERAL NELSON A. MILES. 179

ing to the troops, it was one of the best allies we could possibly have
had in subjugating the Indians. As the troops were out constantly
from midsummer until midwinter, the cold came on them very grad-
ually and they did not feel it so much as if they had been housed and
then gone out suddenly into the cold. By supplying them with an
abundance of good warm clothing, and keeping both men and animals
supplied with plenty of food, we were enabled to move about the country
and endure the severity of the winter without serious loss to either men or
animals. This was before a permanent military post had been established
in that country. When this was done it was named "Elliot" for the gal-
lant officer who lost his life in the engagement on the Washita.

The result of the campaign and the expedition as above described was
the complete subjugation of four powerful tribes of hostile Indians. The
tribes that had gone out in the summer splendidly equipped with all the
grand paraphernalia for an Indian campaign, with beautiful lodges and
thousands of ponies, came back in the winter, many of them on foot, in
abject poverty, leaving most of their horses dead upon the plains as well
as many of their people. In fact some bands that had never before sur-
rendered, but had always remained out in a hostile attitude, especially
that known as the Quahada Comanches or "Antelope Eaters," who lived
out on the high Staked Plains of western Texas, and from time im-
memorial had raided western Texas and old Mexico, this time were
obliged to yield. As a result of this campaign they have remained peace-
able from that time to the present, with the exception of part of the
Cheyenne tribe that broke out and went north under Little Wolf in 1877,
where they were captured by part of my command on the Yellowstone in
Montana.

After the surrender of the Indians the warriors were formed in line in
the presence of the troops, and the two elder Germaine girls went along
down the line pointing out to the officers the different men who had been
engaged in the murder of their family, and in other atrocities ; and to the
number of seventy-five these men were taken out of the camp and placed
under guard and taken under the charge of Captain Pratt to St. Augustine,
Florida. As these Indians passed through Fort Leavenworth, Minimic,
one of the principal chiefs, asked me to take his son, young Minimic. who
was I think one of the handsomest Indians I have ever seen, a stalwart
young man of about twenty-two years and teach him the ways of the
white men. I appreciated the sentiment, but at the same time I realized
the futility of trying to accomplish any good results with but one Indian,



180



PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS OF



and without any system for general improvement. Thinking the matter
over I was prompted to urge upon the government as strongly as possible
that the Indian youth be given an opportunity to improve their condition ;
and in my report of that expedition and its results I urged an entire

change in the system of government and
management of these Indians. Wherever
the suggestion has been tried it has been
eminently successful. Out of Captain
Pratt's judicious management of this body
of wild savage murderers, has grown the
great industrial Indian school at Carlisle,
Pennsylvania. The tribes from which the
children have been taken to be educated
have been benefited to an incalculable ex-
tent. The subjugation of the Indians per-
mitted the settlements of northern Texas,
eastern New Mexico, Colorado and south-
ern Kansas to enjoy an unprecedented and
unbroken era of prosperity and security ;
and the very territory which was then the
battle-ground between the troops and the
Indians has been subdued by settlers, every
valley is occupied by ranchmen and far-
mers, numerous railroads have crossed the country, and the millions of
buffaloes that tramped over these prairies are now replaced by domestic
stock in almost countless numbers.

The vast area of country which was the arena of that campaign, over
which Indians and buffaloes and wild horses then roamed, was a very few
years afterward transformed into a series of peaceful communities. Set-
tlements gradually extended themselves over the valleys and fertile plains.
First came the small hamlet of the prospector and homesteader; then the
comfortable homes and cultivated fields of waving grain, tasselled corn,
and flowers and trees and vineyards: then church-spires and courthouses;
and finally those temples of American intelligence and free citizenship
the public schools and colleges. The buttes and landmarks that had
looked down on the scenes of recent wild and savage rage, cruel
atrocities and fierce encounters, now look only on peaceful and happy
industrial communities. Where was then a wild desert, as indicated on
the maps of the time, are now found interminable irrigating ditches and




CAPTATX R. H. PRATT.



GENERAL NELSON A. MILES. 181

canals and flowing fountains, and busy men bringing rich stores from the
coal beds which underlie a vast area of that country. In fact the very
gypsum beds that were such annoying and distressing afflictions to us only
twenty years ago have been utilized in various ways by the industry of
the whites. A vast amount of this gypsum was shipped very recently to
the Queen City of the West to be used in the construction of the great
" White City " of the Columbian Exposition.

The territory in which this campaign was conducted against the Chey-
ennes, Arapahoes, Kiowas and Comanches, included a large portion of the
Indian Territory, the Pan Handle of Texas, southern Kansas and portions of
Colorado and New Mexico, and embraced an area larger than the States of
New York, New Jersey, Delawai-e and all New England combined. It had
long been marked on the maps as a part of the Great American Desert,
but a large portion of it has proved to be a splendid agricultural country,
while the remainder makes a fine grazing ground and supports vast herds
of sheep, cattle and horses. In the eastern and northern sections partic-
ularly, corn and grain are raised in great abundance, and in the southern
part the raising of cotton is very successful. Altogether the country is
capable of supporting several millions of civilized people.

At the close of the campaign the rescued Germaine girls were sent to
Fort Leavenworth, and I was appointed their guardian. I secured a provi-
sion in an appropriation by Congress diverting ten thousand dollars from
the annuities of the offending Indians, to be given to them. This sum was
set apart for the benefit of these girls, the interest to go for their support
during their minority, and the principal to be divided and given to them
on reaching their majority. They have since grown up, and have each
received $2500. They are now married, and are occupying happy, though
widely-separted homes in Kansas. Colorado and California.

I conclude this chapter with a paragraph selected from the ensuing
annual report of Lieutenant-General P. H. Sheridan, commanding Military
Division of the Missouri :

" In the department of the Missouri, the campaign against the Cheyennes. Kiowas and
Comanches was finished early in the spring, and the ringleaders and worst criminals
separated from the tribes and sent to Fort Marion. Florida. This campaign was not only
very comprehensive, but was the most successful of any Indian campaign in the country
since its settlement by the whites ; and much credit is due to the officers and men engaged
in it."



182



PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS OF




CHAPTER XIII.
INDIAN DIFFICULTIES IN NEW MEXICO.

INDIAN OUTBREAK AT THE CIMARRON AGENCY ON THE AVAR PATH TROOPS ORDERED AGAINST
THEM PEACEFUL OVERTURES RESULT IN A COUNCIL CAUSES OP THE OUTBREAK
CONDITION OP THE INDIANS IN COUNCIL THE THREATENED WAR AVOIDED SUC-
CESSFUL EFFORTS TO BETTER CONDITION OF THE INDIANS CHARACTER OP
THE COUNTRY INTERESTING RUINS SANTA FE PIKE'S PEAK
HELEN HUNT JACKSON AND HER LAST RESTING PLACE.

N December, 1875, an outbreak by the Muache Utes and Jicarilla
Apaches occurred at the Indian agency at Cimarron, New Mexico.
The Indians commenced hostilities by firing into the agency
and driving the white people away. The agent fled for his
life. The Indians then left their reservations and went into
the mountains to the west. This demonstration occasioned
great consternation in the vicinity and throughout all that
territory, especially among the scattered settlements. Troops
were ordered to move into the territory from the south and
north and concentrate at Cimarron, and I was ordered to proceed im-
mediately by rail and stage from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to that point,
to take command of the troops and proceed to quell the rebellion. I went
by rail as far as the terminus of the road at Pueblo, Colorado, thence by
stage over the Raton Mountains to Cimarron, New Mexico.

Before commencing an active campaign, especially at that season of
the year, I desired to obtain the fullest information concerning the
causes of the disturbance. To that end I sent out by a runner, a half-breed
Mexican Indian, a message to the principal chief of the hostiles informing
him that I was there with troops to maintain order and suppress actual
violence, and, if necessary, to make a campaign against the tribes that had
begun the hostilities, but that before taking any action I desired to hear
his side of the case. He replied that if I would give him protection under
a flag of truce to come in and state his case and then return again to the
mountains, he would come in and meet me. I sent back word to him to
assure him of protection both coming and going, and a guarantee of his
safe return.



GENERAL NELSON A. MILES.



183



In the course of a few days he arrived. In the council that followed
I informed him of the condition of affairs ; of the reports which had been
received by the government, and of the instructions which the government
had given to the military authorities. He in turn informed me that he did
not desire war, neither did his people, but that they were compelled to re-
sort to hostilities or die by slow starvation ; that under the terms of the
treaty they were granted certain provisions and a certain amount of cloth-
ing and annuities, which agreement had not been complied with. He said
that the beef furnished by the contractor was such that it was impossible
for his people to use it for food ; that old, worn-out oxen, that had been
used in hauling freight over the plains and mountains until they were




INDIANS ON TUB LOOKOUT

utterly useless for such purposes, were issued to his people for beef, when
in fact, they were simply skin, bones, hides, hoofs and horns and could not
be utilized for food, the life-giving properties having been all exhausted.
In place of flour, which was granted by the terms of the treaty, his people
had been furnished with what is known as "shorts," which is simply the



Online LibraryNelson Appleton MilesPersonal recollections and observations of General Nelson A. Miles embracing a brief view of the Civil War, or, From New England to the Golden Gate : and the story of his Indian campaigns, with comments on the exploration, development and progress of our great western empire → online text (page 16 of 51)