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INDIAN TROUBLES IN KANSAS (1864 - 1870).
The time of the discovery of the precious metals in the mountains of Colorado, and the consequent crowding of the Cheyennes and Arapahoes toward the valleys of the Republican and Smoky Hill, may be considered the commencement of a series of aggressions and counter-aggressions between the Indians and the miners and military of Colorado, which eventuated in April, 1864, in a cruel war kept up for many months by the Indians upon frontier settlers in Kansas and Nebraska, upon travelers, ranch men end train men, culminating in November of the same year, in a wholesale slaughter of a band of Indians - mostly friendly Indians - who were encamped on Sand Creek near Fort Lyon, on their own reservation, to which they had been ordered as a place of safety.
The camp was surrounded on the morning of the 29th of November, 1864, by a force of Colorado militia under Col. Chivington, and men, women and children were indiscriminately slaughtered. From that time there was no safety on the frontier of Kansas, until the Indians were thoroughly subdued.
During the troubles of the summer of 1864, Gen. Curtis, with a force of Kansas militia, made a campaign against the hostile Indians, but was called back to suppress the Price raid in the early fall.
During 1865 and 1866, wandering bands of hostile Indians - partly Pawnees and Omahas - entered Kansas at various times and committed depredations on the northwestern frontier. During the summer of 1866, the settlements on White Rock River, and at Lake Sibley, on the Republican, were attacked - several settlers killed while at work on their claims, and much property destroyed. The outrages committed were in some cases most inhuman, and the settlers being few in number, poorly armed, and totally unprotected by any established troops, were in constant terror of Indian incursions with all their attendant horrors.
In the summer of 1866, Gen. Hancock assumed command of the Department and ordered troops from Fort Ellsworth to the Solomon. A company of State militia was also sent to the frontier, and until the spring of 1867, the settlers enjoyed comparative quiet and safety.
In April, 1867, Gen. Hancock, who had now taken the field in person, totally destroyed an Indian village of 300 lodges on Pawnee Fork. Open war upon settlers, trains, emigrants and property ensued. The Indians were determined upon revenge, and murders and robberies were committed all along the border. The whole frontier was assailed. Through the Republican, Solomon and Smoky Hill Valleys, and in Marion, Butler and Greenwood Counties, the settlers were constantly exposed to Indian raids of the most shocking character. The overland routes between Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico were almost entirely abandoned, and the line of frontier settlements was pushed back many, miles. The troubles culminated in June, in a simultaneous attack by the Cheyennes, Arapahoes and Kiowas upon the border settlements, and upon the engineering parties on the Kansas Pacific Railroad west of Fort Harker. It was seen that the continuation of this road, together with the other routes of travel over the plains, and also the frontier settlements must be abandoned unless prompt action was taken by the State. Under authority of Lieut. Gen. Sherman, the following proclamation was issued by Gov. Crawford on the 1st of July, 1867.
WHEREAS, the central and western portions of the State of Kansas are now, and have been for some time, overrun with roving bands of hostile Indians; and, whereas, these Indians, though claiming protection from the United States Government, and regularly receiving their annuities in due form, have, without cause, declared war upon the people of this State; they have indiscriminately murdered, scalped, mutilated and robbed hundreds of our frontier settlers, and other parties in Western States who were quietly attending to their own legitimate affairs; they have almost entirely cut off all communication between Kansas and other Western States and Territories; the men employed in the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad, Eastern Division, have been driven back, leaving many of their number butchered and scalped upon the ground. Gen. Sherman and other United States officers; are doing all in their power to suppress hostilities, but they have not a sufficient force of United States troops to execute their design, and have called upon me for a battalion of cavalry to aid in the work. I shall, therefore, as speedily as possible, organize eight companies of volunteer cavalry to be mustered into the United States service for a period of six months, unless sooner discharged. Said companies will be armed, equipped and paid by the General Government the same as other troops in the United States service.
These companies were to be raised, and sent forward to Fort Harker to be mustered in, if possible, by the end of the first week in July. Arms and supplies were forwarded from Leavenworth for their use.
Recruiting officers were immediately appointed and the battalion was mustered into the United States service for a period of four months.
THE EIGHTEENTH KANSAS VOLUNTEER BATTALION.
This battalion was commanded by Maj. H. L. Moore, of Lawrence, formerly Lieutenant Colonel of the Fourth Arkansas Cavalry. The line officers were as follows: Company A, Captain, Henry Lindsay, Topeka, Kan.; First Lieutenant, Thomas Hughes; Second Lieutenant, John H. Wellman. Company B, Captain, Edgar A. Barker; First Lieutenant, John W. Price; Second Lieutenant, Samuel L. Hybarger. Company C, Captain, George B. Jenness; First Lieutenant, Peleg Thomas; Second Lieutenant, James Reynolds. Company D, Captain, David L. Payne; First Lieutenant, John M. Cain; Second Lieutenant, Henry Hegwer.
This battalion, which numbered 358, including officers and enlisted men, entered active service at once. A part of the command of Capt. Arns, Tenth Cavalry, was attacked on the 21st of August, on the Republican River, by a large force of Indians - reported from 800 to 1,000. Capt. Arns had only about 150 men, and after fighting until the evening of the 22d, was forced to fall back to the vicinity of Fort Harker. Three men were killed and thirty-five wounded. About forty horses were lost. Some 150 Indians were killed.
On the 30th of August, Maj. Moore, with the Eighteenth Kansas, had an engagement with a portion of the same Indians and defeated them. Maj. Elliott, with a detachment of the Seventh Kansas Cavalry, met the other portion, and drove them toward the head-waters of the Republican.
While the allied Indians - Cheyennes, Arapahoes. Kiowas, Sioux and Comanches - were operating in Northwestern Kansas, roving bands of Osage, Wichita and other tribes were raiding the southern and western portion of the State. Cavalry was stationed at Fort Larned and on the Little Arkansas, in the spring of 1867, to patrol these sections of the country and, if possible, secure its safety.
On the 28th of October, 1867, a treaty of peace was concluded with the Cheyennes and Arapahoes, at Medicine Lodge Creek, seventy miles south of Fort Larned. Gens. Sherman, Harney and Terry were Commissioners on the part of the Government, to conclude the terms of this treaty, which provided for the removal of the tribes to a reservation in the Indian Territory, with privilege of hunting in Kansas as far north as the Arkansas River, and also provided them with arms.
The treaty made in October, 1868, was only observed by the Indians until they were by its provisions well supplied with everything necessary for the renewal of hostilities. Early in the. spring, about 400 Cheyennes and Arapahoes attacked the settlements of Southwestern Kansas, raiding the State as far into the interior as Council Grove, murdering and robbing the inhabitants and capturing a large amount of stock and other property. In August, at the very time that a portion of the tribe were receiving their arms at Fort Larned, according to the terms of the October treaty, a party of Cheyennes were engaged in one of their most cruel raids in the Northwest, attacking the settlements in Mitchell, Ottawa and Republic Counties, sweeping down through the valleys, murdering men, women and children as they advanced. The main body of these Indians then went to the north. Gov. Crawford, on receiving news of the disaster, went in person by special train to Salina, where he organized a volunteer company and moved to the relief of the settlers. He found that over forty had been killed, many of them scalped and their bodies mutilated. Women had suffered a fate worse than death. Houses were burned and stock was stolen. From the Saline to the Republican - sixty miles - the settlements were destroyed and the country utterly laid waste. The few surviving settlers in Mitchell County had taken refuge in a stone corral on Asher Creek.
On his return to Topeka, Gov. Crawford sent a dispatch to the President, proposing to raise volunteers to meet the exigency. He concludes his dispatch thus: "The savage devils have become intolerable, and must and shall be driven out of the State. Gen. Sheridan is doing and has done all in his power to protect our people, but he is powerless for want of troops. If volunteers are needed, I will, if desired, furnish the Government all that may be necessary to insure a permanent and lasting peace."
A few days after sending this dispatch, the Governor received assurance from Gen. Sheridan, then at Fort Harker, that the Indians would be compelled by force to retire to their reservations, and that to protect the line of settlements, small block-houses would be erected on the Saline, Solomon and Republican, which would be garrisoned with a small infantry force. while a cavalry force would be employed in scouting between the exposed points.
Gov. Crawford had more faith in a battalion of Kansas Volunteers than in any service which could be otherwise rendered, and on the 14th of September, 1868, issued his proclamation, calling into service for a period of three months, five companies of cavalry to be organized from the militia of the State. Each man to furnish his own horse; arms, accouterments, and rations to be furnished by Gen. Sheridan. One company was to be recruited in the Republican Valley, to rendezvous at Lake Sibley; one company in the Solomon Valley, to rendezvous at Ayersburg; one company to rendezvous at Salina; one at Topeka, and the fifth at Marion Center. The Governor concludes his proclamation thus: "As the State has no fund at present from which the men hereby called into Service can be paid, it is expressly understood that all claims for service must await the action of the Legislature." The five companies of militia called for were soon organized and stationed at different points on the frontier, protecting it from the Nebraska line to Wichita, thus relieving a sufficient force of United States troops to prosecute the war with some degree of vigor. These companies of militia endured much hardship, and performed valuable service.
On the 7th of September, Gen. Sully was dispatched by Gen. Sheridan south of the Arkansas River with nine companies of cavalry to make war on the families and stock of the Cheyenne, and Arapahoes, in order to draw to their own reservation the raiding bands in the northwest of the State. On the 21st of September, Gen. Sully met a war party and killed 17. He then proceeded toward the Wichita Mountains.
Gen. Sheridan, failing to secure peace with the Kiowas and Comanches, became convinced that a general Indian war was inevitable, and that with the limited number of troops at his command he could not successfully wage a defensive, much less an offensive war. He was accordingly authorized by Lieut. Gen. W. T. Sherman, to call on the Governor of Kansas for a regiment of cavalry, to be mustered in for six months, to serve against the Indians on the plains. Gov. Crawford's proclamation calling for this regiment, was issued October 10, 1868, and was answered promptly by the organization of a regiment of cavalry.
NINETEENTH KANSAS VOLUNTEER CAVALRY.
This regiment was mustered into Service October 20, 1868, under the following officers:
Field and Staff. - Colonel. Samuel J. Crawford; Lieutenant Colonel, Horace L. Moore; Major, William C. Jones; Adjutant, James M. Steele; Surgeon, Mahlon Bailey; Quartermaster, Luther A. Thresher, all of Topeka.
Line Officers. - Company A, Captain, Allison J. Pliley; First Lieutenant, B. D. Wilson; Second Lieutenant, Raleigh C. Powell. (Company A, raised in Topeka.) Company B, Captain, Charles E. Reck; First Lieutenant, Henry H. McCollister; Second Lieutenant, Charles H. Champney. (Company B, raised in Atchison.) Company C, Captain, Charles P. Twiss; First Lieutenant, Walter J. Dallas; Second Lieutenant, Jesse E. Parsons. (Company C, raised in Iola.) Company D, Captain, John Q. A. Norton; First Lieutenant, John S. Edie; Second Lieutenant, Charles H. Hoyt. (Company D, raised in Lawrence.) Company E, Captain, Thomas J. Darling; First Lieutenant, William B. Bidwell; Second Lieutenant, Charles T. Brady. (Company E. raised in Leavenworth.) Company F, Captain, George B. Jenness; First Lieutenant, De Witt C. Jenness; Second Lieutenant, John Fellows. (Company F, raised in Ottawa.) Company G, Captain, Charles Dimon; First Lieutenant, Richard D. Lender; Second Lieutenant, Myron A. Wood. (Company G, raised in Fort Scott.) Company H, Captain, David L. Payne; First Lieutenant, Mount A. Gordon; Second Lieutenant, Robert M. Steele. (Company H, raised in Troy and Burlington.) Company I, Captain, Roger A. Elsworth; First Lieutenant, James J. Clancy; Second Lieutenant, James M. May. (Company I raised in Jackson and Jefferson Counties.) Company K, Captain, Milton Stewart; First Lieutenant, Emmet Ryas; Second Lieutenant, Charles H. Hallett. (Company K, raised in Wyandotte and Junction City.) Company L, Captain, Charles H. Finch; First Lieutenant, Henry E. Stoddard; Second Lieutenant, Winfield S. Tilton. (Company L, raised in Johnson and Miami Counties.) Company M, Captain, Sergt. Moody; First Lieutenant, James Graham; Second Lieutenant, James P. Hurst. (Company M, raised in Lyon, Riley and Pottawatomie Counties.)
The Nineteenth Kansas numbered 1,200 men, and was commanded by Gov. Crawford in person, he resigning his position as Governor, for the purpose. The regiment was mustered into the service at Topeka, and left camp at that place on the 5th of November for the Indian country. On the 14th the command crossed the Arkansas, and on the 28th joined Gen. Sheridan on the North Canadian. On the 27th of the same month, the Indians had been attacked in their camp on the Washita by Gen. George A. Custer with a strong force of cavalry. The attack was made about midnight, and the camp was taken completely by surprise, the Indians being unconscious of the presence of the troops until the cavalry rushed upon them. The Indians made a desperate resistance, but the lodges were soon in possession of the Federal troops. The fight lasted several hours before the band could be dislodged from the positions they took in the ravines and other places of concealment in the vicinity, but they were all finally killed, captured or dispersed; 103 warriors, including Black Kettle and White Rock, were killed. Fifty-one lodges, mostly Cheyenne, were captured, besides a great number of horses and mules. Gen. Custer lost two officers and nineteen men killed, and three officers and eleven men wounded. The Indians did not recover from this severe blow, but fell back as the troops of Sheridan's command advanced, and on the 24th of December made an entire surrender, submitting to all the terms proposed by the Government, and agreeing forever after to keep the peace. Twenty of the leading chiefs were arrested by Gen. Sheridan and held as hostages until the white captives were brought into the Federal camp and restored to their friends. Several captives had been killed before the surrender to prevent their recapture. The Nineteenth Kansas returned to Fort Hays in March, 1869, after the Indians were quietly settled on their reservation, and was mustered out at that place on the 18th of April. But one soldier was killed in the service during the entire campaign, according to the Adjutant General's report.
John Vonwell, of Manhattan, was killed on duty near Fort Dodge, Kansas, December 28, 1868.
There were four deaths from disease - Joseph Larimer, of Company A, at Camp Supply, I. T., February 23, 1869; John J. Rogers, of Company G, at Camp Supply, I. T., February 25, 1869; William Mills of Company L, at Fort Hays, Kan., April 9, 1869; William Libbitt, of Company L, at Medicine Bluff Creek, I. T., January 31, 1869.
In May of 1869, the northern Sioux and Cheyennes from the Department of the Platte, made a raid on the settlements of Northwestern Kansas. The Upper Saline, the Solomon and the vicinity of White Rock Creek being the localities that suffered most.
The first attack was made on the settlements of the Republican River on the 21st of May; the settlers on White Rock Creek, Republic County, and on the Republican River as far down as Lake Sibley being driven from their homes, killed, plundered or taken prisoners. The settlers around Lake Sibley, by the aid of Capt. B. C. Landers, succeeded in driving the Indians from that locality. Thirteen men, women and children were killed on the Saline, and two women and a child taken captive. Three companies of Gen. Custer's command were sent from Fort Hays to that locality, and nothing that officer could do was left undone to afford protection to the settlers.
The Indians continuing their hostile demonstrations, Gov. Harvey ordered, in July, a battalion of State militia to the frontier, which did faithful service for a period of four months.
This battalion, as originally mustered in consisted of four companies, officered as follows:
Company A - Captain, A. J. Pliley; First Lieutenant, C. B. Whitney; Second Lieutenant, John Marshall. The company consisted of fifty-four men, and was stationed at the Block House on Spillman Creek, a tributary of the Saline.
Company B - Captain, W. A. Winsell; First Lieutenant, Joseph Becock; Second Lieutenant, B. C. Lawrence. Company B consisted of sixty-one men, and was stationed on Plum Creek, the outpost of the settlements.
Company C - Captain, I. N. Dalrymple; First Lieutenant, H. H. Tucker. Capt. Dalrymple was stationed with a detachment of his company, which in all numbered seventy men, on the line from Minneapolis to Fisher Creek. A detachment of this company was sent up the Solomon to drive the Indians from that vicinity. They succeeded in driving them and recapturing nearly all the stolen stock. Lieut. Tucker, of this company, with a detachment, was stationed near the junction of Spillman Creek with the Saline River.
Company D - Captain, Richard Stanfield; First Lieutenant, Herod Johnson. This company, consisting of sixty-five men, was stationed near the forks of Beaver Creek and the Republican River, with a detachment of fifteen men at the salt marsh in Republic County.
Lieut. Stinson, with a detachment of thirty men, was stationed at Turkey Creek, about ten miles from where it empties into the Little Arkansas.
These troops occupied their posts during the summer and fall of 1869, patrolling the frontier line and doing efficient duty. They were mustered out November 20, 1869. Since the disbandment of this battalion of militia, no call has been made upon the State for troops to guard the frontier. United States troops were stationed through 1870 in the Republican, Solomon and Saline Valleys, scouting parties patrolling the line of exposure. The settlers soon acquired a feeling of security, and immigration flowed rapidly into that portion of the State. The Indians have made no united hostile demonstration since that time. This long and cruel contest, covering a period of six years, cost the State of Kansas the lives of more than a thousand citizens, the retardation of frontier settlement for many years, and a loss of property to individual settlers aggregating more than a million of dollars.
In May, 1874, the Indians on the southwestern frontier of Kansas manifested some hostility toward the settlers in Barbour County, their depredations being confined for a time to stealing cattle and horses. In an attempt to recover some of the plunder, a detachment of United States Cavalry fatally wounded a son of Little Robe, one of the Cheyenne chiefs. The behavior of the Indians became more menacing after this, and in June five murders were committed - one in Ford County, three in Barbour, and one in Comanche. These outrages alarmed the whole southwest border, and action was at once taken to put the more exposed points in as good a condition of defense as possible. Companies were organized and armed in readiness for an emergency, and stockades were constructed by the settlers at Medicine Lodge, Kiowa, Sun City, and at a point midway between the two latter-named places. Although these preparations somewhat allayed the alarm of the people, still hundreds deserted their isolated homes and sought protection in the larger towns. In July, other murders were committed, and evidence now seemed to fix the guilt of the murders committed in June upon the Osage Indians. Early in August, a party of about twenty-five Osages appeared near the town of Kiowa. They claimed to be on a buffalo hunt, and were ordered to return to their reservation, which they refused to do. Their refusal was communicated by Lieut. Smith to Capt. Ricker, who was in command of a company of Barbour County mounted militia, who made a scout in the direction in which the Indians were reported to be, and discovered them about fifteen miles northeast of Medicine Lodge. A skirmish took place, and four Indians were killed. By the 1st of September, sixteen citizens had been murdered by the Indians, six of whom were citizens of Lawrence, engaged in surveying public lands forty miles south and twenty miles west of Dodge City. Gov. Osborne was obliged to keep the volunteer militia companies on the border in active service in order to afford the necessary protection to the exposed settlements, and this force was not entirely relieved from duty at the close of 1874 - the Barbour County Mounted Guards being still on duty at that time.
From June 16 to the close of the year, twenty-seven persons were murdered within the State by Indians, nearly all being in the southwestern counties, and the settlers were still threatened with a renewal of hostile incursions.
On September 10, 1878, a band of Cheyennes escaped from their reservation at Fort Reno, Indian Territory, and marched north across the State of Kansas, murdering and plundering as they went. Barbour and Comanche counties suffered greatly in the loss of life and property. Dispatches were received by Gov. Anthony from Dodge City, Hutchinson, Medicine Lodge, Kinsley, Ellis, Wa Keeney and Buffalo, showing that the whole western border of the State was in a state of excitement and alarm. The citizens being in no condition for defense, arms were issued to them at the most exposed points.
Gen. Pope did not believe in any serious danger, and United States troops, under his charge, failed to capture any portion of these marauding savages during the long period of nearly a month, in which they were in the State. About forty persons were killed during the raid. The Cheyennes were captured farther north, and those of the band identified as the criminals who committed the outrages in Kansas, were turned over to the civil authorities of the State, for trial and punishment.
Fort Reno and Camp Supply were re-inforced (sic), so as to protect the southern line of Kansas to some extent; but at the close of the year, the protection was still insufficient, Gen. Pope, having at that time, no cavalry force at his command which could be spared for the strengthening of those points.