THE outposts of civilization on the frontier during the decade 1860-1870 created an extremely unpleasant duty for the army. Here, beyond the pale of organized civil law and stable social institutions, the army represented the power of established order. Policing the frontier, in the sense used in this article, applies to the work of the army in protecting the Indian reservations and land grants from the encroachment of white settlers; in protecting government property and officials, especially at the Indian reservations; moving and keeping the Indians on their reservations; aiding the friendly Indians and protecting them from the raids of hostile Indians; enforcing the laws of the United States where the civil authorities were entirely lacking or where they were deficient in the stability and strength needed to perform their functions; and, furnishing protection and aid for governmental and quasi-public activities.
The variety of duties involved under this heading and the wide area over which they were performed make it impossible to do more than sketch the activities of the army in this connection. The importance of this work is indicated by the following survey of the troops and posts engaged in this work in 1868. During this year 25,601 troops of the regular army were on the frontier: 10,691 guarding and policing the frontier; 6,824 operating against the Indians and policing the frontier; 657 guarding the Union Pacific railroad and policing the frontier; 2,119 operating directly against the Indians; 405 guarding the Union Pacific railroad; 3,553 operating against the Indians and guarding the Union Pacific railroad; and 1,352 guarding traffic on the Missouri river. 
Although all these troops might be called upon to do police duty on the frontier, the vast majority came from the first three groups, which totaled 18,172. Of these about 1,500 were engaged as reconstruction garrisons in Texas, and somewhat over 1,500 were garrisoned in Alaska or on the Pacific coast line. The remaining 15,000, who were engaged primarily in policing, received some aid from the other 7,429 troops on the frontier. These were stationed in eighteen posts on the Texas frontiers; two in the Indian territory, seven in Kansas, four in the territory of Colorado, twelve in the territory of New Mexico, thirteen in the territory of Arizona, seven in California, seven in Oregon, one in the territory of Washington, four in the territory of Idaho, six in Nevada, one in the territory of Utah, three in the territory of Montana, three in the territory of Wyoming, one in Nebraska, five in the territory of Dakota, and two in Minnesota, a total of ninety-six posts out of the grand total of 121 frontier posts. 
The protection of the Indian reservations from the encroachments of white settlers was very difficult. In fact, the government of the United States, at times, was as guilty as the frontiersmen. The opening of the Bozeman trail and the construction of three posts, Fort Reno, Fort Phil Kearney and Fort C. F. Smith, along its route were all contrary to justice and treaty rights.  When the Indian title to the land was not respected by the government it was very difficult to make the frontiersman understand the need of respecting it. The settlers thought the land should belong to those who could develop it; to let good land lie idle, to be used only for the chase, was beyond their conception of the occupation and the right to the soil. When the tide of advancing settlements reached the Indian reservations the settlers crowded around and began to petition their congressmen or delegates to congress to have the government remove these Indians from what they called the path of civilization. Usually sufficient pressure was mustered and the Indian bureau would be instructed to make a treaty of removal.  The agents of the Indian bureau would bribe a few chiefs to sign the treaty and the Indians were then moved to some new place, often against the wish of the majority of the tribe. The result was starvation, decimation and death to tribes who had become victims to the advancing tide of settlements. 
When the government attempted to live up to its agreements with the Indians it called upon the army to protect them at vital points of exposure. Only one or two incidents will be given to illustrate the character of this duty. The Osage Indians made a treaty in 1865 in which they agreed to move from Kansas and settle on a new reservations if it could be provided for them, in the Indian territory.  According to an agreement made by the Indian bureau their land and other Indian lands in Kansas were sold to land corporations or granted to railroads with every indication of graft. The price at which the land was sold was an injustice to the Indians and the sale of the land to corporations was an injustice to the squatters who had settled upon the land expecting to buy it for $1.25 per acre. 
As soon as the treaty providing for the sale of the lands had been made, settlers started to enter the reservation, which displeased the Indians. Some of the settlers even seized the Indians' farms and houses so as to be able to secure the best locations when the land was opened for sale. This and the starving condition of the Indians &emdash; due to no crops &emdash; caused disturbances, and the Indian agent appealed to the military authorities.  The corporations which had bought the Indian lands from under the squatters were also very anxious that the squatters be driven off the land.  Gen. U. S. Grant was directed by the Secretary of War to remove them. Gen. P. H. Sheridan sent Col. M. V. Sheridan with a detachment to remove all squatters from the Indian lands in Kansas. Gov. Samuel Crawford of Kansas asked General Grant not to execute the order, for it would cause unnecessary hardships for the settlers and would be of no aid to the Indians.
The order, because of Crawford's intercession, was suspended and the troops were recalled. This allowed the squatters more time to move or permitted them to buy their lands from the corporations that held them.  The result of withdrawing the troops from the reservations is indicated by the following report by General Sheridan:
During the last year , as soon as I withdrew the troops from the Sac and Fox reservation [in Kansas], the emigrants took possession. A flood of immigration, almost ten thousand strong, moved in solid mass and occupied the Osage reservation, because there were no troops to keep them off. All the other reservations on which the Indians may yet be placed will be lost in the same manner, unless guarded by the military. 
The Big Horn expedition incident illustrated the work of the army in protecting the rights of the Indians. A party was organized at Cheyenne, in the territory of Wyoming, for the purpose of exploring and eventually settling the country east of the Big Horn mountains. The party became known as the Big Horn expedition and attracted a considerable number of people. By the Shoshoni treaty of 1868 the Big Horn country was reserved exclusively for Indian hunting purposes and all other persons were prohibited from entering.  The members of the expedition tried to secure permission from the government to enter this region. The government refused, but finally gave it permission to go to the Sweetwater mining region, provided it did not interfere or trespass upon the Indian reservation.
The leaders of the expedition pledged themselves to Gen. C. C. Augur that they would not enter the lands reserved for the use of the Indians. However, instead of stopping at the Sweetwater mines they proceeded, regardless of the agreement of the leaders, into the Shoshoni reservation. Fortunately the Shoshoni were absent and made no remonstrance. General Augur, upon notice of the broken promise, sent a troop of cavalry in pursuit of the party. The detachment overtook them north of the reservation near Grey Bull river. The officer in charge of the troops found the expedition so demoralized and discouraged as to be on the point of dissolution, and because of this decided to let it dissolve itself rather than use force. The result justified the wisdom of the commander, for the expedition soon broke up and its members either went to the Montana mines or returned to the Sweetwater river mines.  General Augur reported that the expedition did not anger the Indians and the efforts of the government had a "general good effect upon the Indians, which must always result from a faithful observance of our treaty stipulations with them." 
The removing of settlers was not a pleasant duty for the officers and men of the army. They preferred to prevent the settlers from going into the Indian lands rather than to try to put them off after they were already located. The military authorities tried to prevent these encroachments whenever possible. An expedition to the Black Hills in 1868 was stopped by a notice that it was unlawful and that force, if necessary, would be used to enforce the law.  But when the tide of emigrants once started toward an Indian reservation the army was mere chaff before the wind and had to give in. The civil authorities were powerless in such cases and the military force could only stop the rush by bloodshed. The result was that settlers eventually had their own way and the army could only diplomatically soften the injustice to the Indians by holding off the settlers until the Indians could be moved or would agree to give up some of their land.
The army was often called upon to protect the civil agents and the government property (annuity goods for the Indians or buildings and storehouses of the agency) at the Indian reservations. If the Indian agents were located at or near permanent military posts the army seldom had to give protection, but if the agencies were located at some distance from the posts the army was called upon to furnish escorts and temporary garrisons in case of threat of hostility or any condition of disorder. They were especially needed at the time of the disbursement of annuities. The army, by its mere presence, gave order and dispatch to the business of carrying on the Indian affairs. The best illustrations of this duty were the temporary posts at the agencies established along the Missouri river. 
The reservation was the last ditch for the wild Indians. The army forced them on the reservations and they were kept there by the troops until they became more fixed in their habits.  It was impossible to station enough troops around the reservation to prevent the Indians from stealing out and at times robbing and even murdering their neighbors. The troops usually had no control within the reservation unless the civil authorities requested aid because of the lawless character of the whole tribe. The problem of the army was not so much to keep the Indian tribe as a whole on the reservation as it was to prevent the lawless element escaping from the reservation to commit crimes, returning to the reservation as a place of safety. 
The difficulty of keeping the Indians on the reservations is illustrated by the raids on the frontier of Texas by the Kiowa and Comanche from their reservations near Fort Sill, Indian territory. The settlers claimed that the Indians were armed, clothed and protected by the Indian agents for their raids on the settlements in Texas. The Indian agents denied that the Indians were guilty and refused to assist the settlers in recovering any stolen property.  Col. B. H. Grierson, at Fort Sill, near the Texas frontier, was blamed for this condition. But he could not prevent these outlaw incursions because he could not arrest or punish the guilty parties except when they were outside the reservation. And this was an impossibility, for the outlaws would slip out, and if they were pursued would retreat to the reservations. 
The protection of the friendly Indians on the reservations from the raids of hostile wild Indians was another duty of the army. During this decade, 1860 to 1870, it was common for small bands among the wild tribes to take up the ways of the white civilization. They would locate on reservations and start to farm and raise livestock. The "blanket Indians" of their own tribe resented their treasonable secession and indicated their disapproval by interfering with the "farmer." Also the hereditary enemies of the tribes on the reservations often continued to make war. If the war spirit was mutual the government seldom interfered. In fact,, as in the case of the Osage and Pawnee, it employed them to make war in the capacity of scouts and organized troops against their old enemies the Cheyenne and Sioux. In case the reservation Indians wished to remain at peace the government was bound to protect them. If it did not the hostile Indians would steal and destroy the property furnished by the government to aid them in farming and in the work of civilizations. 
One of the many reservations subject to the attacks of hostile Sioux was the Fort Berthold agency in the territory of Dakota. The wild Sioux planned to attack the agency at Fort Berthold during the winter of 1869 while the majority of the warriors were away on a hunt. Maj. S. A. Wainwright, the commanding officer at Fort Stevenson, which was near by, heard of the expected attack and the helpless condition of the agency. He sent a piece of artillery, which was placed in an old dirt lodge. When the Sioux charged the village they were met with grape and canister and fled in a panic. 
The army also aided the Indians by issuing subsistence to them. Rations were often issued not only to prevent starvation but also to prevent hostilities or depredations which followed if the Indian had to choose between starving or stealing. The instinct of preservation among the Indians was as strong if not stronger than among civilized people. The Indians in their wild state usually depended upon the fall hunt for their meager supply of food for the winter. If they suffered a failure of crops or were prevented from hunting, buffalo by hostile Indians the government was morally bound to feed them. The Indian bureau was directly responsible for these needy Indians, but as a rule the bureau neither had the subsistence nor was it in a position to obtain food in sufficient quantities to aid materially. The army issued large quantities of condemned army rations to the Indians in order to keep them friendly or prevent starvation. When usable rations were issued in large quantities the cost was charged to the Indian bureau or presented as a separate bill to congress for payment.
Large issues of food were made to the Indians near Forts Totten, Rice, Sully and Randall during the winter of 1867-1868, by order of General Sherman, in order to keep peace until a more permanent arrangement could be made by the peace commissioner.  The subsistence issued by the commissary department of the army to the Indians for the years 1867, 1868, 1869 and 1870 cost $644,439, $373,926, $150,000, and $1,600,000, respectively. In 1869 the sum of $150,000 was spent to feed starving Indians, and in 1870 the total issue was charged to the Indian bureau. 
General Sherman was placed in control of the Plains Indians in 1868. By his orders  the military commanders of the departments, districts and posts were charged with the peace and the policing of the frontier and were to be the agents for the Plains Indians. They afforded the Indians temporary support in conducting them to their reservations, but no supplies were issued outside their reservations, except for services rendered the government or to Indians in distress and enroute to their proper homes. Sherman directed that:
When Indians are on reservations, with civilian agents actually present with them, no interferences will be made; but military commanders may note any neglects or irregularities on the part of said Indians or their agents, and will report the same for the information of the government. 
For the operation of this system the Plains Indians were divided into five districts, with an officer of high rank in charge of each district, who selected a disbursing officer for carrying out the work.
The supplies issued to the Indians were beef cattle, meat, grain and bread, coffee and sugar in exceptional cases, clothing for the old and young, and seed and agricultural tools. These supplies came from places where they were purchased most economically. The disbursing officers could purchase from the army depots, post commissaries and quartermasters any surplus article of food, corn, clothing, harness, condemned wagons, horses, mules, and oxen that were on hand or which had been condemned by a board of survey or an inspector. The price was to be the same as the cost to the government or at a valuation fixed by the board of survey or inspector. All issues to the Indians were witnessed by an officer of a rank not lower than a captain and these issues conformed as nearly as possible with the treaties of peace made by the peace commission, whether the treaties had been confirmed or not. General Sherman was given $500,000 to carry out the work. This arrangement was only temporary, although the subsistence for tribes, hostile or wild, was furnished until June 30, 1870, through the agency of the commissary departments method more economical and satisfactory. 
The illicit trade in powder, arms and whisky with the Indians was difficult to check on the frontier. The military authorities assisted the civil authorities in driving the outlaws of this trade out of the country. The Indian tribes near the Canadian border were especially exposed. Half-breeds among these tribes and others from Canada conducted a very profitable trade by using Canada both as a basis of operation and as a place of refuge. These traders moved among the Indian tribes on both sides of the boundary line. A camp of half-breeds which was established on the Little Muddy river was broken up in 1868 by a detachment from Fort Buford.  Gen. W. S. Hancock reported that fifty or sixty of these traders were located at one time on Mouse river during the winter of 1868-1869 and that a fort was needed on that river to stop this trade. 
The legislature of Minnesota petitioned congress for the establishment of a military post at Pembina because of the revolution in the Red river valley and the apprehension of incursions by renegade hostile Sioux who had been driven to Canada from Minnesota and the territory of Dakota in 1862 and 1863.  Congress appropriated $50,000 for the construction of a post and by the fall of 1870 it was practically completed.  The post aided materially in the control of this illicit trade from Canada.
The general policing of the frontier required of the army the enforcing of the law and the maintaining of order. A few illustrations of this duty will be given. Gen. G. Dodge removed squatters from the Union Pacific railroad lands on the Delaware reservation in 1865.  The rapid growth of boom towns along the railroad which preceded the stable organization of society and law were at times held in check by the military authorities.  The federal government was often called upon to furnish support to the state governments in order to maintain law and order. The frontier states and territories with their unstable society were in greater need of military forces to aid the civil authorities to maintain order. An instance of this is the request of the governor of Nevada in 1869 for troops to prevent organized bodies of men in that state from driving out the Chinese laborers. The feeling against the Chinese was very bitter and two companies of the First cavalry were sent to Camps Halleck and McDermit to be ready for trouble. Their presence quieted the disturbance. 
In outlining the duties of the army in the military department of Dakota, General Sherman declared:
Commanding officers of these posts or stations will act against all people who violate the laws of congress, or who endanger the lives or property of our people, be they white, black, or copper-colored. When there are no courts or civil authorities to hold and punish such malefactors, we must of necessity use the musket pretty freely; the only weapon with which the soldier ought to deal. Peaceful people, whites, blacks, or Indians, will be left to be dealt with by the civil authorities and agents. 
The growth of the cattle industry in Texas gave rise to a new duty for the army. After the construction of the Kansas Pacific railroad the ranchers of Texas found it profitable to market their cattle by driving them overland to Abilene and to other towns on the railroad, from whence they could be shipped to Eastern markets. The common route at first was the Chisholm trail extended to Abilene, but later this indefinite route from Texas to the nearest railroad town in Kansas became known as the Texas trail. The number of Texas cattle driven over the trail increased from 300,000 in 1866 to 600,000 in 1871. Military escorts were furnished, if possible, when needed to aid in the protection of the herds from hostile Indians. In 1870 Col. J. J. Reynolds, commanding officer of the Department of Texas, reported that:
The permission granted under date of February 9, 1870, to furnish military escorts to cattle drovers northward from Fort Richardson [Texas] has been used to the great benefit of traders in that direction. Disturbances from Indians were entirely averted during the last summer's trade, and that route may be considered as established and safe, with an occasional escort. 
The exploring and surveying of the West depended to a large extent on the protection afforded by the army and to the work of the army itself. The exploration of the country in the immediate vicinity of an army post was usually left to the garrison under the direction of the officer in charge. This was a military necessity because of the need of a thorough knowledge of the country. The extent to which exploration was carried on depended upon the knowledge already possessed of the region and also upon the time which the post might have free to do this work. Often the duties of escorting, fort building and other fatigue work required all the time of the garrison.
New routes to the West and the improvement of the routes already in use was of special interest to the United States government. The laying out and the constructing of military roads became one of the chief functions of the army. The work was usually carried on by the engineers. The army furnished escorts to protect the engineers and the laborers engaged in this work. During this period there were also numerous explorations and surveys for railroads.
The reconnaissance of the Comanche trail by Lt. W. H. Echols, during the summer of 1860, was an example of an exploring expedition. Echols, who was a topographical engineer, with an escort of thirty-two troops under Lt. H. H. Holman, was instructed to make a thorough examination of the country between Fort Stockton, Texas, and the Rio Grande on each side of the San Carlos trail. Echols was furnished with twenty camels and twenty-five mules well equipped and with the necessary persons to take care of his train. The expedition lasted from June 20 to August 15. The party suffered considerably in the deserts; the camels went without water five days and probably saved the lives of the party. The result of the expedition was the securing of valuable geographical knowledge of the country although a desirable route for a trail or a site for a post was not found. 
The Niobrara road expedition illustrates the work of the army in laying out and working the roads or trails on the frontier. James A. Sawyer was placed in charge of the construction of a wagon road from Niobrara City, territory of Nebraska, to Virginia City, territory of Montana. His party consisted of fifty-three men with forty-five yokes of oxen, five horses, five mules, and subsistence for six months. His military escort was composed of 143 men &emdash; two companies of Fifth United States volunteers, and one company of the First Dakota cavalry. Five emigrant wagons and thirty-six wagons belonging to a freight company which were bound for the Montana mines accompanied the expedition. The expedition started June 13, 1865, and after traveling 1,039 miles arrived at Virginia City, on October 12. The route explored was along the Niobrara, South Cheyenne and North Cheyenne rivers; then by the way of Powder, Tongue, Big Horn and Yellowstone rivers to Virginia City. The route lay in the region controlled by the hostile Sioux and northern Cheyenne and Arapahoe tribes. Although the train was attacked several times by Indians it was able to pass through. Sawyer had some difficulty with the commander of his escort, who when they reached Powder river refused to escort the train farther. Luckily they found Fort Connor on the west side of Powder river, where a new escort was furnished by General Connor, at that time conducting an expedition in that region. The new escort assisted Sawyer safely to the Big Horn river and from there only eight men were needed to escort the train to Virginia City. The casualties among the troops and train were one death from disease and thirty-one killed and wounded. The results were meager. The route was soon abandoned because it was not so good as the Platte route and it was impossible to use it because of the continued hostilities of the Sioux. 
The surveyors of the public lands also required the protection of the army. The surveying of the wilderness in preparation for the coming tide of settlement was dangerous work on the Plains, exposed not only to the hardships of the frontier but also to the raids of Indians. Gen. C. C. Augur, commanding the Department of the Platte, reported, in 1869:
I have had many applications from surveyors of public lands for escorts to enable them to fill their contracts, and I have furnished them in all cases where it was possible for me to do so. I have in other cases issued them arms and ammunition, under proper guarantees for the return of the arms. 
The protection and aid of these public and quasi-public works was an important function of the army. The aid which the army could give in subsistence, supplies, munitions, geographical information and protection by escorts on the frontier far away from civilization and regular society facilitated and made possible much of this work which otherwise would have been either impossible to perform or delayed for many years to await the subjection or civilization of the hostile Indians on the Plains.
Raymond L. Welty is assistant professor of history at Fort Hays Kansas State College at Hays.
1. Senate Executive Documents, No. 7, 40 Cong., 3 Sess., p. 10.
2. Ibid., pp. 1-10; Report of the Secretary of War, 1868, v. I, pp. 732-767.
3. Senate Ex. Docs., No. 13, 40 Cong., 1 Sess., pp. 66-67.
4. Cf. "Resolutions of the Legislature, of Kansas," Senate Miscellaneous Documents, No. 55, 41 Cong., 2 Sess; "Memorial of the Legislature of Oregon," House Miscellaneous Documents, No. 77, 41 Cong., 3 Sess.; "Memorial of the Legislative Assembly of the State of Oregon," ibid., No. 19, 41 Cong., 3 Sess.
5. Senate Ex. Docs., No. 13, 40 Cong., 1 Sess., pp. 69-73.
6. Kappler, Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties (Washington, 1903), v. II, pp. 673-676.
7. Crawford, Samuel J., Kansas in the Sixties (Chicago, 1911), pp. 299-316; Abel, Anna Heloise, "Indian Reservations in Kansas and the Extinguishment of Their Title," Kansas Historical Collections (1903-1904), v. VIII, pp. 107-109.
8. House Executive Documents, No. 321, 40 Cong., 2 Sess., pp. 1-3.
9. Crawford, op. cit., p. 315.
10. Ibid., pp. 315-316,
11. House Ex. Docs., No. 269, 41 Cong., 2 Sess., p. 71.
12. Kappler, op. cit., v. II, pp. 786-789.
13. Secretary of War, Report, 1870, pp. 33-34.
14. Ibid., p. 34.
15. Ibid., 1868, v. I, pp. 36-37.
16. Ibid., pp. 34-36; ibid., 1869, v. I, pp. 58-59; ibid., 1870, pp. 24-26; Report of the Secretary of Interior, 1870, v. I, pp. 671-687.
17. House Ex. Docs., No. 269, 41 Cong., 2 Sess., p. 71.
18. Secretary of War, Report, 1870, pp. 8-9, 19-21.
19. "Memorial of 350 Citizens of . . . Texas," House Misc. Docs., No. 142, 41 Cong., 2 Sess., pp. 1-7.
20. Secretary of War, Report, 1870, p. 9.
21. For illustrations see ibid., 1860, pp. 216-217; ibid., 1869, v. I, p. 58; ibid., 1870, pp. 26, 55-57; Report of the Secretary of the Interior, 1870, v. I: pp. 671-687.
22. Taylor, Joseph Henry, Sketches of Frontier and Indian Life on the Upper Missouri and Great Plains (Bismarck, 1897), p. 99.
23. Secretary of War, Report, 1868, v. I, p. 36.
24. Ibid., 1867, v. I, p. 9; ibid., 1868, v. I, p. 961; ibid., 1870, pp. 267-268.
25. From "General Orders No. 4," Division of the Missouri, St. Louis, August 10, 1868. found in ibid., 1868, v. I, pp. 8-9.
26. Ibid., p. 8.
27. Secretary of the Interior, Report, 1869, p. 447; Secretary of War, Report, 1870, pp. 267 -268.
28. Ibid., 1868, v. I, p. 34.
29. Ibid., 1869, v. I, p. 64.
30. House Misc. Docs., No. 116 (2), 41 Cong., 2 Sess.
31. Secretary of War, Report, 1870, pp. 27-28.
32. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Ser. I, v. XLVIII, Pt. II, pp. 784, 806, 807.
33. Secretary of War, Report, 1867, v. I, p. 37; Beadle, J. H., The Undeveloped West or Five Years in the Territories (Philadelphia, 1873), pp. 88-90.
34. Secretary of War, Report, 1869, v. I, pp. 113-114.
35. Senate Ex. Docs., No. 7, 40 Cong., 1 Sess., pp. 1-2.
36. Secretary of War, Report, 1870, p. 42; also see Rollins, P. A., The Cowboy (New York, 1922), pp. 10-11.
37. Secretary of War, Report, 1860, pp. 36-51. For use of camels in the army see Lummis, Charles F., "Pioneer Transportation in America," McClure's Magazine, v. XXVI (October, 1905), pp. 90-92; Senate Ex. Docs., No. 62, 34 Cong., 3 Sess.
38. Report on "Wagon Road From Niobrara to Virginia City," House Ex. Docs., No. 58, 39 Cong. 1 Sess., pp. 1-32. For illustrations of other explorations and surveys see Secretary of War, Report, 1861, pp. 122-126, 528-569; Senate Ex. Docs., No. 43, 37 Cong., 3 Sess.; Raynolds, W. F., Report on the Exploration of the Yellowstone River (Washington, 1868).
39. Secretary of War, Report, 1869, v. I, p. 74.