By G. W. Baird, Major, U. S. A.
|General Nelson A Miles|
General Sherman has called the twenty years of constant Indian warfare following the war of the Rebellion, "The Battle of Civilization." That battle, on this continent, of course, began earlier, but certain facts made that period an epoch by itself. A chief fact to be noted is that the Indians during that time were always well armed, often much better than the troops. At the battle of Bear Paw, for instance, the Indians used magazine rifles of the best pattern, while even now nearly fourteen years afterward, the army still has to do without them. The field of "The Battle of Civilization" was the vast trans-Missouri region, and civilization did not, during that period, satisfy itself with a gradual advance of its line, as formerly, but became aggressive, pierced the Indian country with three trans-continental railways and so ultimately abolished the frontier. A very large portion of the army (including nearly all of the cavalry and infantry and a small portion of the artillery) was at one time or another occupied with the task and many heroic deeds were done, but the conspicuously successful leaders were few.
General Nelson A. Miles as colonel of the 5th Infantry led his first command against hostile Indians in 1874. In the summer of that year small bands of southern Cheyennes, Kiowas, Arapahoes and Comanches made several raids in the Indian Territory, Texas, southern Kansas and southeastern Colorado, but escaped punishment by flying to their agencies. At last, on the 2 1st of July, the Department of the Interior gave the Secretary of War authority to punish these Indians wherever found, even to follow them upon their reservations. Under this authority General Miles was ordered into the field. He organized his command at Fort Dodge, Kansas, on the left bank of the Arkansas River. It consisted of eight troops of the 6th Cavalry, four companies of the 5th Infantry, and a section of artillery made up of details from cavalry and infantry. Later in the season four troops of the 8th Cavalry joined this command and some of the 6th Cavalry were withdrawn from the field.
In a summer of exceptional heat and drought even for that region, and through a section eaten bare by the invading army of grasshoppers whose flight was a "pillar of cloud by day" and whose encampment at night was as the devastation of fire, the command pressed rapidly southward from the Arkansas. Even prior to the inception of the movement, the scope of this Indian Territory Expedition, as it was called, differed from some of the notable Indian campaigns in the particular that General Miles waged Indian warfare according to the well-known principles of the art of war, so far as applicable. In too many cases expeditions against Indians had been like dogs fastened by a chain: within the length of the chain irresistible, beyond it powerless. The chain was its wagon train and supplies. A command with thirty days' supplies could inflict a terrible blow if only it could within thirty days come up with the Indians, deliver its blow, and get back to more supplies — otherwise it repeated the historic campaign of " the king of France with forty thousand men." Or if perchance it delivered its blow successfully, it could not, for lack of time, follow up its success and attain the only object of just war, which is peace.
Before leaving Fort Dodge, General Miles applied for supplies such as would be needed should the campaign continue into the winter; an act of foresight which contributed much to his success. As the command moved out the chief of scouts, First-Lieutenant F. D. Baldwin, 5th Infantry, of whom we shall hear more, was detached with scouts and Delaware Indians to move rapidly far from the right flank of the command, to prevent hostile Indians from devastating the settlements in its rear, and with instructions to reach the Canadian River near Adobe Walls, an abandoned trading post where a group of bold buffalo hunters had sustained a siege for several days and inflicted such loss on the besieging Indians that they withdrew. By vigorous and well-timed marches, the main command and its flankers reached the Canadian River about the same time, the scouts putting to flight a party of hostiles near Adobe Walls, and then sweeping along the right bank of the Canadian and rejoining the command at its crossing-place near Antelope Hills. The results of this advance were two-fold: the General learned that there was no considerable body of hostiles in his rear, and the Indians were made aware that the troops were advancing against them.
|A typical trooper|
On the first day's march south of the Canadian, large camps, recently and hastily abandoned, were found along the Washita River, and a broad trail made by the lodge poles, travois, and ponies led off to the south, crossing the numerous affluents of the great Red River and leading towards the "Llano Estacado," or " Staked Plains," so-called because their ocean-like expanse is so monotonous that stakes were formerly driven along the trails which could not otherwise be identified. As water would be found on the "Yarner " (as the scouts call the Llano) with great difficulty in the extreme drought of summer, the only chance of striking a blow at once was by overtaking the retreating hostiles before they reached that region. The cavalry pushed rapidly forward, and the sturdy infantry, just from garrison, but well-seasoned by drills and the gymnastic exercises that General Miles had instituted, marched patiently through heat and dust and "got there" every day. Indians never fight a considerable force while they can fly from it, and none but those who have experienced the hardship of the long pursuit, with its hunger, and thirst, and sleeplessness, can understand the feeling of restfulness and grim satisfaction with which a command sees that the race is over and the fight about to open.
August 30 was the day, and the "breaks" of the Red River, some thirteen miles from its bed, the place where the fight opened. Suddenly, from behind bluff and bush, as if they sprang from the bosom of the earth full armed, the hostiles came tearing down upon Baldwin's scouts and Indians, with the crack, crack, of their rifles, and the whoop of their war-cries. But Baldwin was the man for the place and Miles knew it; his sufficient discretion never had a touch of hesitancy or timidity, and he was fitly seconded by brave old "Fall Leaf" of the Delawares. Meantime Colonel Biddle, under the immediate command of General Miles, deployed his battalion of cavalry forward at the run; Colonel Compton, giving rein to his horses, swung his battalion out on the right; Lieutenant Pope's artillery, with infantry support, came rapidly up in the center, and there began a running fight over thirteen miles of sun baked earth, glowing with a furnace heat, gashed in gullies and deep ravines by the flood-like rains which at times prevail there. Whenever the Indians made a stand the troops were hurled upon them, and the fight, which if it had opened timidly would have been a stoutly contested affair, soon became a rout and a chase. Col. Biddle threw forward Captain Chaffee with his troop as skirmishers, who there made his famous battle-field speech: "Forward! and if any man is killed I’ll make him a corporal!"
Down through the jagged ravines the troops pursued across a half-mile of sand where at times a river flows, up the right bank and into the valley of the Tule, a branch of the Red River, where a burning camp, abandoned utensils, and a trail leading up a precipitous cliff told of the hasty flight of the Indians. The long chase before the fight, the rapid pursuit after through the intolerable heat of sun and earth, and the absence of water made it necessary to call a halt. Men and animals were famishing — some men drank the blood of a buffalo, and all the water found in Red River was a small pool of saturated gypsum and alkali, rendered indescribably vile from having been for a long time a buffalo wallow. With infinite labor the command, after resting, followed the trail over which Pope, by devoting the night to it, had dragged up his Gatlings, and so climbed out of the valley of the Tule and followed the Indian trail for miles out on the Llano. It became evident that no pursuit could be successful without supplies and that before a train could be brought through the ravines and breaks of the valley to the table-land on the right bank of the Red River the Indians could get beyond pursuit. Hence a recall was sounded.
The train with escort, commanded by Major W. Lyman of the 5th Infantry, was sent back to Camp Supply to replenish, and, on its return, was attacked near the Washita River by a large force of Comanches and Kiowas who had come up in rear of General Miles's command, fresh from their reservation. Stimulated with the hope of capturing rations and ammunition the Indians for five days laid siege to the train, which was most heroically and successfully defended.
Intent on conquering a peace and not merely beating the Indians in one engagement, General Miles overcame the greatest obstacles in the few weeks of comparative inactivity that ensued. Of these obstacles it must suffice, here, to say they ought never to have existed, yet they would have wrecked the expedition but for the indomitable persistence of its commander. On November 8, a detachment under Lieutenant F. D. Baldwin surprised a large camp of hostiles near the head of McClellan Creek in the early morning, and at once attacked with such vigor as to compel the Indians to abandon the protection of the ravines and retreat to the open country. Time and again they rallied and renewed the defense, but were finally driven by the troops and scattered in utter rout, leaving in their flight two little captive white girls — Adelaide and Julia Germaine — aged five and seven years. Their parents, brother, and one sister were all murdered by the Indians in Kansas, where their two older sisters were captured in the summer previous. The surrender, which crowned the expedition with success, included the older sisters. General Miles became guardian for the four, and upon his recommendation Congress authorized the stoppage from the annuities of the Cheyennes of an amount for their, support. In the center of the vast section, including the Pan Handle of Texas and the adjacent portions of the Indian Territory which had been wrested by Miles from the hostiles, was erected a military post named for the gallant Major Elliott of the Seventh Cavalry, who had lost his life November 27, 1868, in Custer's Battle of the Washita.
A CONFLICT WITH SITTING BULL
THOSE familiar with the frontier twenty or twenty-five years ago will readily recall the estimation in which the numbers and prowess of the Sioux were held; also the prestige that they had after the Fort Phil Kearny massacre in 1866, and the abandonment by the Government, at their dictation, of the Powder River route and of several military posts. More than once, in derogation of laurels won in warfare against other Indians, it was said, "Wait till you meet the Sioux."
Simultaneous with the arrival at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, of the news of the Custer catastrophe on the Little Big Horn, Montana, came orders to General Miles and the 5th Infantry to proceed to the scene of hostilities to form a subordinate part of the large command already there. In the earlier service of the 7th Cavalry in Kansas most agreeable social relations had existed between many members of the two regiments, and the list of those slain on that fatal 25th of June, 1876, contained many names which were read with a pang of sorrow; and so, though the 5th marched gaily out of Fort Leavenworth, decked with bouquets, to the familiar strains of " The Girl I Left Behind Me," officers and men marched with sad hearts. The long journey up the Missouri and the Yellowstone was accomplished without noteworthy incidents. Summer drew to a close, and the objects of the campaign remained unattained. The two large commands then in the field were ordered to their stations early in the autumn, and General Miles was left on the Yellowstone with his own regiment (the 5th Infantry) and six companies of the 22d Infantry. The task assigned him was to build log huts for his troops and stores, bring forward the winter supplies, by wagon, from the mouth of the Yellowstone, and then the command was expected to hibernate, protecting themselves from attack and holding the ground for a basis of campaign in the following year. Two cantonments were built, one at the mouth of the Tongue River, and the other on the left bank of the Yellowstone, nearly opposite the present city of Glendive, but there was no hibernating, for the disposition of the commander did not favor it, and he was so isolated that action on his own judgment was necessary under the circumstances. Immediately on assuming command General Miles began, as in the Indian Territory Expedition, to plan for a systematic campaign.
|Indians firing from behind rocks|
The hostiles belonged on the large reservations far to the south and southeast of the Yellowstone, and the General took means of getting the earliest possible information of their absenting themselves therefrom. He became satisfied, early in October, that a very large number of the hostiles were in his vicinity, and this fact, added to a prolonged delay in the expected arrival at the cantonment on Tongue River of a supply train coming up from the cantonment at Glendive, induced him to march out with the 5th Infantry and proceed down on the left bank of the Yellowstone. On the 18th of October he met the train under escort of a battalion of the 22d Infantry commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel E. S. Otis of that regiment. The train had been once obliged to return to Glendive by the strong force of Indians, its teamsters so demoralized that their places were filled by soldiers. When advancing the second time Otis received, October 16, the following note, left on a hilltop by an Indian runner:
I want to know what you are doing traveling on this road. You scare all the buffalo away. I want to hunt in this place. I want you to turn back from here if you don't I will fight you again. I want you to leave what you have got here and turn back from here.
I am your friend, SITTING BULL.
I mean all the rations you have got and some powder. Wish you would write as soon as you can.
Otis sent a firm reply by a scout and proceeded with the train surrounded by the Indians, who, for a considerable time, kept up firing but gradually fell to the rear. When General Miles learned the situation from Colonel Otis he started after Sitting Bull and overtook him near the head of Cedar Creek, a northern affluent of the Yellowstone. Sitting Bull sent a flag of truce to General Miles desiring to communicate, and General Miles met him with Chief Gall and several others between the lines. Sitting Bull shrewdly wished for an "old-fashioned peace" for the winter (when warfare is most difficult), with permission to hunt and trade for ammunition, on which conditions he agreed not to molest the troops. But General Miles's object was permanent peace and the security of the territory then and before dominated by the Sioux, and he told Sitting Bull plainly that peace could come only by absolute submission. When the interview closed the troops were moved with the intention of intercepting the Indians should they try to move northward, and on the 21st of October another similar interview between the lines occurred.
The Indians undoubtedly intended to emulate the act of bad faith by which General Canby lost his life at the hands of the Modocs, April it, 1873. Several of their younger warriors, with affected carelessness, gradually moved forward in position to surround the party under the flag of truce. General Miles, observing this, moved back a step or two and told Sitting Bull very forcibly that those men were too young for the council, and that the "talk" would end just there unless they returned to their lines. One of them had slipped a carbine up under his buffalo robe. Another muttered to Sitting Bull, "Why don't you talk strong?" and he replied, "When I say that, I am going to shoot him." Meantime the troops were held in readiness to attack, had any act of bad faith been attempted; even the accidental discharge of a firearm would have precipitated an attack in which all between the lines would have fallen. It became evident, at last, that only force could settle the question, and General Miles said to Sitting Bull, "I will either drive you out of this country or you will me. I will take no advantage of you under flag of truce and give you fifteen minutes to get back to your lines; then, if my terms are not accepted, I will open fire." With an angry grunt the old Medicine Man turned and ran back to his lines; the whole country was alive with Indians, not less than a thousand warriors swarmed all about the command, which, in a slender line extended to protect front and flanks and rear, pushed vigorously forward and drove the Indians from the deep valleys at the source of Cedar Creek, compelling them to leave some of their dead on the field, which they never willingly do, and then pursued them so hotly for forty-two miles to the Yellowstone that they abandoned food, lodge poles, camp equipage, and ponies.
|Long-Tom rifles on skirmish line|
On October 27, more than four hundred lodges, about two thousand Indians, surrendered to General Miles, and five chiefs were taken as hostages for the execution by the Indians of their terms of surrender, i.e., to go to their various agencies. Sitting Bull and his immediate following, his family and connections by marriage, broke away from the main body during the pursuit and escaped northward, where he was later joined by Gall and other chiefs with some followers.
The estimated number of warriors in this engagement was one thousand. To General Miles and to the 5th Infantry, three hundred and ninety-eight rifles, is due the honor of this important victory, which had far-reaching consequences. Not since the battle of Little Big Horn had the followers of Sitting Bull been attacked by the troops in offensive battle. This was the first of a series of engagements in which the command of General Miles, or some detachment therefrom, vigorously assumed the offensive, and here began the successful battles and combats which resulted in breaking the power of the dreaded Sioux and bringing security and prosperity to a vast territory which is now penetrated by railways, occupied by hardy and prosperous settlers, dotted over with towns and cities, and already so developed and so permeated by the influences of our civilization that, in the form of new States, or portions thereof, it augments the glory and dignity of the nation.
Returning to the cantonment at Tongue River, General Miles organized a force — four hundred and thirty-four rifles — made up of the 5th and a portion of the 22d Infantry and pushed northward in pursuit of Sitting Bull, but the trail was obliterated by snow near the Big Dry, the broad bed of that which at times becomes a southern affluent of the Missouri. A winter of great severity, even for that region, opened early, and the command suffered intensely but kept the field and scoured the country along the Missouri River above and below old Fort Peck.
On December 7, a detachment of the command,— Companies G, H, and I, 5th Infantry — one hundred officers and men, commanded by First Lieutenant F. D. Baldwin, 5th Infantry, overtook Sitting Bull's camp, one hundred and ninety lodges, and drove it across the Missouri, and on the r8th the same force surprised the camp near the head of Redwater, a southern affluent of the Missouri, and captured camp and contents with sixty animals, the Indians scattering out south of the Yellowstone.
As Sitting Bull did not for a considerable time thereafter enter as a factor into the campaign, it will be permitted to anticipate for a little and describe his subsequent movements. With a small following he shortly after moved northward and camped on the left bank of the Missouri ; thence, near the end of the winter, poor and with scarcely any ammunition, he and his scanty following sought refuge north of the international boundary. As a war was raging of which he was an important factor not so much from military prowess as from his position as a "Medicine Man" and an extreme and inveterate savage Indian, which made him the nucleus of all the disaffected and hostile Sioux — his band ought to have been either disarmed at the boundary or interned. General Miles made repeated and urgent appeals to the higher authorities that action to that end be taken, but unfortunately it was not taken.
Sitting Bull's position and character, as before indicated, and the freedom for a considerable time accorded him and his followers, north of the line, induced a large number of the hostile and disaffected to steal away to him, and so the Northwest Territory of the Dominion became the rendezvous and supply camp of a threatening force. But for the time Sitting Bull was eliminated from the problem of conquering a peace, and the closing months of 1876 saw the beginning of the end of the great Sioux war. The intense cold of a Montana winter did not chill the ardor nor lessen the activity of Miles and his indomitable infantry, and the winter was to witness, on their part, almost incessant and markedly successful campaigning.
CRAZY HORSE BROUGHT TO TERMS
|A wounded war pony|
A MONTANA winter, and so severe a one as that of 1876-77, might well be accounted a sufficient reason for the suspension of active operations. With thermometers rarely above zero, usually far below, and quite often so far that the mercury was solid and only spirit thermometers registered; with snow piled so deep in all the valleys that movement was laborious and tedious in the extreme, and with blizzards sweeping over the country, the thought of seriously attempting protracted expeditions would have entered most minds, if at all, only to be rejected. But General Miles took account of the fact that the difficulties for the troops, as briefly indicated, would be even greater for the Indians who do not voluntarily venture far from their camp in some sheltered valley in severe weather, and believed that if clothing, equipment, and transportation could be so increased as to meet the conditions presented there was promise of unusual successes.
Those who have seen only holiday soldiers or even troops on ordinary field service would scarcely have recognized the four hundred and thirty-six officers and enlisted men of the 5th and 22d Infantry Regiments who started up the valley of Tongue River, Montana, on the 29th of December, 1876. They might have been excused — these supposed spectators — had they concluded that a sportive band of buffaloes were trying to "evolute" into bipeds. Over the heavy woolen clothing supplied to the army for winter wear, the men were, many of them, fur-clad from head to foot; in lieu of a face there was presented to the observer a frost-covered woolen muffler frozen solidly upon an ice-clad beard," trimmed with the same" in form of icicles, so that a long thaw had to precede disrobing. Enormous overshoes of rubber or of buffalo skin flesh side out, drawn on over German socks, gave warmth to the feet that they robbed of all nimbleness. Efficiency was the object aimed at, and to this end the army belts and cartridge boxes had given place to canvas belts made by the soldiers, looped with the same to hold a row or two rows of metallic cartridges. (The "prairie belt" since adopted for the army embodies the same principle.) General Miles, by stimulating emulation among the men, encouraged them to devise these improvements, and the men were intelligent and knew well by experience that " one more cartridge " for the modern soldier was like the "one step nearer" for the ancient who had a short sword — it might mean all the difference between success and failure.
The incidents of camp and march illustrative of the effects of the intense cold are capable of most interesting elaboration and illustration: here a soldier hastily removes shoe and stocking and rubs with snow his rapidly freezing feet; there seems to be Mark Twain's lightning-rod man replenishing the fire with his wares, but really is a scout thawing a rigid rawhide lariat so that he can coil it, and now a teamster with a well-grounded doubt as to his future expresses the hope that St. Peter, when he learns that a man "was one of Miles's teamsters," will give him friendly welcome as one who "has suffered enough."
Already in the expedition northward to the Missouri—as before related —many of the difficulties of a winter campaign had been studied and overcome, and the later days of December, 1876, saw the command at the cantonment on Tongue River equipping itself for a blow at Crazy Horse. This Sioux chief was at the head of the Ogallalas, and had borne a prominent part, if indeed he was not the most prominent, in the repulse administered by the Indians, June 17, 1876, to Crook's command advancing from the department of the Platte toward the Yellowstone; he had also been one of the important chiefs in the battle of the Little Big Horn, where also were Sitting Bull's following, the Uncapapas, and many others.
Crazy Horse, with a large force of Sioux and Northern Cheyennes, was camped along Tongue River and other southern affluents of the Yellowstone, and it soon became evident that the Indians would dispute the passage of the Tongue. Sharp skirmishes took place on the 1st and 3d of January (1877), and on the 7th the advance made a capture of eight Indians, mostly women and children, but of importance, as was found later, because of their relationship to leading men. The Indians made a determined effort to rescue the captives. The scouts in the lead made a bold charge upon them at dark on the 7th and were surrounded. Lieutenant Casey of the 22d Infantry, in command of a detachment of mounted infantry, with great intrepidity dashed in to the rescue with a scanty half-score of brave followers and beat off the Indian rear guard. It was now evident that the contest was at hand and the Indians chose well their field. Near the southern boundary of Montana, where Tongue River breaks through Wolf Mountain and flows in a deep canon, whose steep walls were then mantled with deep snow or glazed with ice, the Indians sought (January 8) not only to check the advancing troops but to hold them helpless at their mercy while, from the crests above, they should deliberately shoot them down and over- whelm them. Whooping and yelling, as is their custom in battle, they shouted to the troops "You've had your last breakfast." Here again the quick discernment, rapid movements, and bold attack of General Miles changed the nature of the battle and snatched a victory from conditions that were more favorable to defeat. Instead of permitting himself to be cooped up within the narrow valley he determined at once to deploy boldly out, occupying the widely separated hilltops along a broad front with a thin line, and put every man and every rifle at once into the fight. Every man must be a hero, for there is no touch of elbow and no rear rank; every captain must be a capable commander, for the line to right and left is gashed by deep valleys between his and the adjacent companies. No one who has not participated in such an engagement, under like circumstances, can realize how short a line a score or two of men make, springing boldly out in single rank, flanks in air and no support. More than three hundred miles of wintry wilderness were at their backs, there was no reserve, retreat meant disaster, surrender was impossible; victory or death by torture were the alternatives.
Already the Indians held the sharp crests of the steep hills, and were delivering a plunging fire into the troops. Burdened with their heavy clothing, which the polar cold made necessary, stumbling and falling in the deep snow or slipping on the icy acclivities, the troops pressed forward and gained the crests where they could meet the enemy face to face. But now a new danger threatened. As the Indians largely outnumbered the troops, they could maintain the fight in front, while they seized heights which commanded the left flank and rear, and so get the troops into a circle of death-dealing rifles. The heights to the left must be wrested from them and that speedily. Troops were designated, under command of Captains Butler and McDonald, for that duty, and Pope served his three-inch gun judiciously to aid them—Gunner McHugh of the 5th Infantry especially distinguishing himself. Every minute the crowd of Indians on that hill-top increased and they could take in reverse the whole left flank. The General, keenly alive to every detail of the situation, decided on the instant to send a reinforcement. Sitting on his horse near the General was Lieutenant F. D. Baldwin, 5th Infantry, then on staff duty. Turning to him and pointing to the left, the General said: "Tell them to take that hill without failure and drive the Indians away." This was the reinforcement, and it was enough. Putting spurs to old "Red Water," Baldwin forced him at the run up the glassy hillside, and then, hat in hand, and with a ringing shout, he newly inspired the weary men, and, with the momentum of his own brave onset, carried them to the coveted crests. The battle was by no means over yet; for hours it raged. Old winter himself at last took a part and contributed a furious, blinding snow-storm. Disheartened by the death of a prominent medicine man, whom they thought invulnerable, the Indians were at last driven through Wolf Mountains and towards the Big Horn range. They were pursued until it became evident that they could not be overtaken by the command without replenishing its supplies. Polar cold makes extensive demands on the vitality of men and animals; it not only occasions exhaustion, but also impairs the will power. Campaigning on short rations where it prevails would be both cruel and hazardous. The weary, frost-bitten troops welcomed the shelter of the rude log huts and returned to the cantonment which their own labor had built, and while they were resting and recuperating their commander took means to reap the fruits of the important victory he and they had won, not only from armed enemies, but even from the very elements themselves.
Recognizing the ill effects upon the spirits and health of the command of the monotony and confinement at that remote point, to which the mail could be brought only rarely and by sending a strong detachment to Fort Buford, nearly two hundred miles away, General Miles had constructed a large canvas-covered building in which the band of the 5th Infantry furnished choice musical entertainments, interspersed with the well-intentioned efforts of the barn-storming dramatic talent of the command. It was the paradise of the stage-struck soldier, whose most gray-bearded pun or castaneous joke was sure of an encore from an always crowded house.
But work was the occupation of the commander and of those most closely associated with him. Serving as scout and interpreter with the command was John Bruguier, the son of a French trader and an Indian mother, a man whose fidelity and courage were unquestioned and whose knowledge of the customs and language of the Sioux was of great value. The General decided to make use of this man and of a portion of the Indians captured January 7 to communicate with Crazy Horse. Bruguier, although he believed that he would be killed by the Indians as a deserter, started February r with two of the captives. Taking up the trail beyond the scene of the battle of January 8, he found the camp on a tributary of the Little Big Horn and got into communication with Crazy Horse without the molestation from the subordinates which he had anticipated. He delivered the message of General Miles, which was: "Surrender at the cantonment on Tongue River, or at your agency, or I will attack you again." The experience of the winter had taught Crazy Horse that this was no idle threat, and a delegation of chiefs came back with Bruguier to satisfy themselves that what he said was true. They arrived February 19. In councils repeated on many days the Indians put forward their orators and diplomats and sought to obtain a modification of the terms. There was probably a mutual fear of treachery in the councils. Officers had no arms in sight but wore their revolvers beneath their coats, and Indians drew their blankets close about their scowling faces, with Winchesters grasped within, their bright, beady eyes intent upon the officers. At one time it seemed that the theater might be the scene of a veritable tragedy, when Little Chief was understood, in his impassioned speech, to advise "the young men to put something in their guns." There was an involuntary start but no other demonstration. The Indian is human and respects the man who can overcome him. At last this delegation recognized that the conditions presented ("Surrender here, or surrender if you prefer at your agencies at the south, or fight ") were an ultimatum and they returned to their camp, which was brought near to the forks of Powder River, and a much larger delegation of chiefs came in, March 18, still intent on securing better terms. The experiences of a month before were repeated and with like result. Of the larger delegation was Little Hawk, an uncle of Crazy Horse. He with others accepted the terms and submitted to the retention by General Miles of nine prominent leaders, Sioux and Northern Cheyennes, as hostages that the whole hostile camp would surrender in thirty days. Crazy Horse and Little Hawk led the bulk of the hostiles, more than two thousand, to the Red Cloud and Spotted Tail agencies, in the department of the Platte, where they surrendered. Three hundred, chiefly Cheyennes, led by White Bull, Two Moons, and Hump surrendered at the cantonment.
In six months, including a winter of polar cold, General Miles with his force of sixteen companies of hardy and well-commanded infantry, leaving at all times two garrisons to protect the cantonments, had subdued two powerful forces of Indians, wrested from their control a vast territory, opened the way for the advance of the Northern Pacific Railroad, which had long halted at Bismarck on the left bank of the Missouri, and so inaugurated all that has since become history in that region.
The surrender of the Sioux under their agreement with General Miles took out of the field not only the thousand who followed Crazy Horse, but that brave war chief also, and in a community so little organized as are the Indian tribes the hostility, or the reverse, of a few great leaders has vastly more weight than in a highly organized state in which there is no essential man. Anticipating a little we may give the few additional facts of importance in Crazy Horse's career. After his surrender, he and his people were placed on the reservation near Camp Robinson in Northern Nebraska. For a time he was quiet but later was believed to be planning to lead away his people on the warpath again. It was thought best by the officers in authority there to arrest him, which was done, but while being conducted to the guardhouse he made a desperate break for liberty and attempted to cut down with a knife all who opposed him. He was mortally wounded in the struggle, and died September 7, 1877.
THE SUBJUGATION OF LAME DEER'S BAND
THE intention of the Government to assemble troops in the spring of 1877, to renew the contest, took shape in orders which brought to General Miles's command four troops of the 2d Cavalry from Fort Ellis, near Bozeman (in the Gallatin valley near the base of the Rockies) eleven troops of the 7th Cavalry and four companies of the 1st Infantry from posts along the Missouri in Dakota. The marked successes of the winter campaign had effected the greater part of the object for which this large command was assembled, but its presence during the summer, and the movements of its various detachments over all parts of the immense territory watered by the Yellowstone and its affluents, confirmed the conquest already achieved and assured the Indians that their sway therein was gone forever. By a singular conjunction of circumstances an important force of Indians was, in the late summer and autumn, imported into that region from the far Pacific slope and by its pursuit beyond the Missouri, and capture near the boundary line, added another hardly contested fight and conspicuous success to Miles's record; but of that later. The first of the reinforcements to arrive were the four troops of the 2d Cavalry, and General Miles speedily equipped a command of this battalion — whose readiness for any service well illustrated its regimental motto, "Toujours pret," — and of six companies of his infantry, two of the 5th, four of the 22d, and marched out, May 1, against a band of Sioux, mostly Minneconjous, under Lame Deer, who had broken away from the main body and refused to surrender.
Having confidence in the sincerity of the Cheyennes and Sioux who had but just surrendered to him, General Miles selected from them a small party headed by White Bull, and took them as scouts. Neither on that occasion nor afterward did these Indians waver in their fidelity. The route of the command was for more than sixty miles up the valley of the Tongue, but springing grass and a stream of limpid water had taken the place of the snowy hillsides and ice-bound river bed which had frowned on the January expedition. Leaving the train at this point to follow with the infantry commanded by Major Dickey of the 22d, the mounted force, chiefly 2d Cavalry but augmented by a detachment of mounted infantry, pushed rapidly out in search of the hostile camp. The minute knowledge of the country possessed by the Indian scouts enabled the command to march by night as well as by day, and so, up through the broken country along the Rosebud, following the same general approach as that pursued by General Custer in the preceding June, the force pressed on with scarcely a pause during two nights and one day, the patient pack-mules jogging along the trail in rear. The stealthy, keen-sighted Indians at last "located the camp," in frontier phrase, and then, giving a few hours for rest, the command was stripped for the fight. Everything not demanded for the rapid march and the vigorous fight was placed on the pack mules; canteens, arms and equipments carefully arranged to avoid noise. The weird half-light of the night, the commands in suppressed tones and the consciousness in all minds that this " meant business " all contributed to that tense frame of mind with which men face a danger that is certain, imminent, and of unknown dimensions. The hostile camp was on an affluent of the Rosebud, then called The Muddy, but since then Lame Deer Creek. Without loud command the force was urged rapidly down through the breaks on the left of the Rosebud, across the bed of that steep-banked stream. Just as the birds were twittering in the trees and the night began to yield to day (May 7), the head of the column turned into the valley of The Muddy. The tenseness of mind before mentioned increases its sensitiveness to small and indifferent objects. The twittering of birds in the trees, the wealth of grass which the Chinook winds spread soft over the sheltered valleys, in contrast with wasting snow-drifts still clinging to the northern sides of the hillcrests, and the Big Horn range, still thick-blanketed in its winter covering, to which haze gave an ecru tinge, all of these irrelevant things the words Lame Deer suggest and evoke from memory.
The Indian scouts reached the wooded hills above the camp at earliest dawn, and watched the unsuspecting hostiles as they untethered their ponies from among the lodges and turned them out to graze. And so, all unannounced, the little force burst upon them. Lieutenant Edward Casey, of the 22d, commanding the mounted infantry and the scouts, charged through the village, sweeping away the ponies and cutting off the hostiles from their herd. Close in rear of him rode General Miles and staff, leading the cavalry, which was commanded by Captain Ball. It was the General's desire to secure the surrender of the Indians without a fight, and to this end he had instructed White Bull to call to them and explain to them that they could surrender and would be unharmed.
This overture was responded to by a rifle-ball which passed between the arm and the body of the plucky old chief, but die offer was still repeated, and Lame Deer and his head warrior, Iron Star, seemed disposed to accept, even shaking hands with the General and one of his staff, the latter dismounting for the purpose while another staff officer dismounted to take the Indians' arms. Whether they intended treachery or feared it can never be known, for, hastily withdrawing a few yards, they sought cover behind a bank and opened fire. Parleying and peacemaking were plainly out of place thereafter. General Miles's orderly, just behind him, was killed by a shot plainly aimed at, the General, and the troops, for a few moments held in check while the hand-shaking was going on, were now sent vigorously against the Indians. Lame Deer and Iron Star were among the first to fall; their following scattered on foot into the broken, pine-covered hills close to their camp, and were pursued, in small, scattered bands, for some eight miles, leaving their dead in the hands of the troops. The entire camp and its supplies were captured; also four hundred and fifty ponies and horses. These, with the animals of the surrendered Cheyennes, formed the nucleus of the mount of the "11th Cavalry," as the 5th Infantry, mounted on captured ponies, was called. And so this successful encounter contributed in itself and in that which it supplied very materially to the thorough subjection of the hostiles.
Major Dickey, in command of the infantry, received the merited commendation of the General for the "zeal and energy" with which he urged forward his command, and the sturdy pluck with which he disregarded a rumor of a great disaster which grew out of the fact that one or two pack-mules with their escort, getting separated from the command in the rapid night march, were cut off by the Indians. The change of aspect, from the disaster which he had been led to expect to the victory which he found to have taken place, roused his enthusiasm, and he called for "three cheers," to which his weary but enthusiastic command responded with a will.
Leaving the cavalry to occupy that section the remainder of the command, with captured ponies, returned to the cantonment. All active operations, nearly all movements, were interrupted by rain and flood such as have not since visited that region. Supply wagons sank to the hub and were immovable. Dry gullies became great streams and rivers overflowed their banks. Troops in mud-roofed huts found that the roofs were storage reservoirs. It became a serious question for the time whether supplies could be sent to the 2d Cavalry battalion so many new and rapid rivers filled the ravines and gulches.
Utilizing this period of enforced quiet the General began the organization of the "11th Cavalry." Companies B, F, G and I, 5th Infantry, formed the first battalion of that most efficient corps, and under command of Captain Simon Snyder of the 5th it became a potent factor in the remainder of the campaign. By subsequent captures ponies to mount the remainder of the regiment were obtained, and the gallant 11th was not dismounted till after the need of its efficient service had passed and General Miles had, by promotion, been transferred to another field of duty.
The Indian pony lends himself to the niceties of drill and parade with even greater reluctance than his master adopts "the white man's road." In vain the irate sergeant ordered his rider to "dress up there on the left," with that vigor of speech which characterized " our army in Flanders"; if the storm came into his face he solemnly turned his haunches towards it and his attitude announced more graphically than even the French tongue could "J'y suis,j'y reste"; but no rattle of musketry could disturb the equanimity with which he seized the moment of the hottest fight to clip the scanty herbage while his rider, dismounted, was fighting a little in front of him; he was accustomed to long journeys and short rations, and, to adopt the slang of the region, "rest made him tired." He contributed very materially to subdue his former master, and, with the elk, the buffalo, the antelope, the free unconventional life of the plains and, alas, probably with his old master too, he will soon become only a picturesque reminiscence.
The long rain storm and the floods at last passed away. The remainder of the reinforcements before mentioned reported for duty, also a force of friendly Crow Indians led by First-Lieutenant G. C. Doane, 2d Cavalry. The scattered fragments of Lame Deer's band were so hotly pursued by different detachments of the command that they were forced to seek rest and sue for peace at the Red Cloud and Spotted Tail agencies. Before the close of summer peace and security reigned throughout Dakota and Montana. A large fleet of steamboats plied unmolested between Bismarck, then the Northern Pacific terminus, and the upper Yellowstone, transporting supplies for the command and building material for the two new posts, Forts Keogh and Custer; the one near the mouth of the Tongue, the other at the junction of Little Big Horn with the Big Horn, in sight of the fatal hill which, like the Alamo, had no messenger to tell of the heroic deeds it had witnessed. These posts and a force at Fort Peck on the Missouri, an outpost towards Sitting Bull's camp in Canada, and the large territory over which they kept watch and ward became the garrisons and the territorial command known as the "District of the Yellowstone," under General Miles's command.
CHIEF JOSEPH AND THE NEZ PERCES
THE summer of 1877 was an unusually attractive one in Montana, the spring rains having thickly carpeted hill and valley with verdure. General Sherman came to the cantonment on his river and wagon journey through to the Pacific, and General Miles took advantage of the visit to request him to present to the soldiers who had performed conspicuous acts of gallantry in the preceding campaigns the medals of honor which had been bestowed upon them by Congress. At a parade of all the troops present, each bronzed and hardy soldier thus honored stepped out as his name was called, and received at the hands of the general-in-chief the token which thereby had for him an added distinction.
The successes before recorded and the arrival of other troops made it possible, in the early summer, to relieve the six companies of the 22d Infantry, and return them to their stations along the great lakes. After a rough march of more than three hundred miles to Bismarck, they shipped their effects, including dress uniforms, to their stations and were just starting for Duluth when a telegraphic order called them to Chicago, then threatened with a riot. The quite unwonted sight of weather-beaten soldiers in campaign suits most essentially patched with bits of sacks that warranted the wearer to be "Best Family. Flour," had a wholesome effect. And when in reply to a question from one of the crowd, "You would not fire on us, would you?" the prompt reply came, "Not unless the captain ordered it," the purport was unmistakable. The presence of this disciplined command obviated the need of its employment.
But the season was not destined to pass without another battle and important victory. A way beyond the Rockies dwelt the Nez Perces, a tribe quite advanced in civilization. As the occasion of their outbreak at this time, and the earlier acts of war on the part of both the troops and these Indians, had no relation to the command of General Miles, no account of them need appear here. When hostilities had begun their really great and remarkable chief, Joseph, conceived the bold scheme of transporting his whole band, women, children and all, across the Rockies through leagues of rough forest and broken ravines, across deep and broad rivers to Dominion territory, pursued and harassed though he was by several commands. While these Indians were yet in Idaho and before it seemed probable that they could penetrate Montana, General Miles was gathering from every available source information as to their probable route and objective and discussing and forming plans to capture them. On the 3d of August, six days before the battle of Big Hole in which General Gibbon's command inflicted and suffered much loss, General Miles instructed Lieutenant Doane to "intercept, capture, or destroy " this band. Lieutenant Doane, 2d Cavalry, was then en route to Judith Basin near the Upper Missouri, then abounding in game and believed to be the objective of Joseph.
On the 11th of August, but two days after the battle of Big Hole and while Joseph was yet among the Rockies, the General sent six troops of the 7th Cavalry under command of its colonel, General Sturgis, towards the Upper Yellowstone with orders to "intercept, or pursue and capture or destroy " this band. Lieutenant Doane's command, which included a troop of the 7th Cavalry and a large body of Crow allies, was also placed under General Sturgis's orders for this duty. The action above indicated anticipated instructions received August 21 to the same end. General Sturgis and Lieutenant Doane were instructed to keep General Miles fully informed of all important movements and events. At evening September 17, the General learned at the cantonment, Tongue River, Montana, that the Indians had outstripped their pursuers, evaded and passed General Sturgis's forces, had had an engagement with them in the valley of the Yellowstone near the present site of Billings, and had thus a practically unobstructed route to the boundary—more than two hundred miles. Hastily organizing, from that which was left of his command, its available force, he began to move at once. All through the night the ferryboat was plying, transferring to the left bank of the Yellowstone troops, transportation, and supplies, and the early morning of the r 8th saw the force striking rapidly out for the northwest, intending by a march along the hypotenuse of a triangle, to intercept a rapidly marching force which was following the perpendicular and had had five days the start. By small detachments and scouts the General kept himself informed of everything far out to the left and, thus marching, reached the Missouri, at the mouth of the Musselshell, September 23, with the main command, some of the detachments being farther upstream. Major Guido Ilges, from Fort Benton, had with a scanty detachment boldly followed up the Indians for a short distance from their place of crossing the Missouri but had not force enough to effect a decisive result. On the 25th, General Miles learned through Ilges that the Nez Perces had crossed on the 23d; he ferried his command across the Missouri and pushed out with his mounted force— three troops of the 2d Cavalry commanded by Captain Tyler, three of the 7th Cavalry commanded by Captain Hale, and four companies of the 5th Infantry commanded by Captain Snyder— leaving his train to follow, and carrying upon pack-mules supplies with which his command could eat sparingly and fight liberally. From early dawn to dark for four days along the grassy plains which border the Little Rockies, the troops were urged on, past tempting herds of buffaloes and flocks of inquisitive antelopes, and, on the 29th, in a snow-swept camp in the gap between the Little Rocky and the Bear Paw Mountains, tidings of the discovery of the trail came from the scouts at the left; Lieutenant Maus' 1st Infantry, commanding the scouts, had used his sleepless vigilance to good purpose. The earliest dawn of the 30th saw the command again crowding forward. Soon the small body of surrendered Cheyennes and Sioux accompanying the command roused from their usual immobility and stripped for a fray : saddles, blankets, and bridles were snatched from their ponies; now and again softly patting their hands together and pointing far down a foggy valley, they threw off blankets, beaded shirts, and leggings and, clad in a waist-cloth and a grim smile, they sprang on their ponies (guided by a lariat about neck and nose) and, rifle in hand, dashed away for the fog-obscured valley where the battle of Bear Paw was about to open." Camp three miles away!" was shouted from mouth to mouth. General and staff, Tyler, Hare, and Snyder, with their battalions well in hand, started on the trail of the Indian scouts over the rolling hills and smooth grassy valleys which skirt the northern base of the Bear Paw. The three miles proved to be eight and the trot became a gallop. "Let Tyler sweep around to the left and cut off the camp from the herd," was the command communicated by a staff officer who led the 2d Cavalry to its position. This brought the 7th to the front of the charging column, and Hale, sitting his horse with his accustomed grace, his face lighted up with the debonair smile which his friends so well remember, dashed bravely forward to the heroic death that was awaiting him. The two battalions, 7th and 5th, under General Miles's lead charged direct upon the camp. The surprise was complete Joseph had watched his own trail but had not scouted to his flank. But he was a soldier and a commander. His camp was a stronghold within the curve of a crescent-shaped bank, the bank itself cut by ravines heading in the open country.
The work of the scouts and Tyler's battalion was promptly done, and the Indians, seeing themselves cut off from their animals, turned at bay and met the onset of Hale and Snyder like the brave men they were. The 7th and 5th dismounted and vigorously pressed the attack, holding the Indians in a close-drawn circle; so close were the contestants that faces seen then were afterwards recognized. The Indians fired from cover and their number could not be estimated. The commanding officer, desiring to change the position of the 7th, sent one of his staff to convey the order. He rode to the position of Hale's battalion, all of whom, seeking such slight cover as inequalities of surface afforded, were hotly engaged, gave the customary salute to its commander, who was lying among his men, and began the familiar formula "The General's compliments and he directs" —when observing that no response was given he looked more intently and saw that he was saluting the dead. Near Hale lay his adjutant, Lieutenant J. W. Biddle, 7th Cavalry, worthy son of a brave sire who had given his life in the War for the Union.
Meantime with courage and good judgment Lieutenant McClernand, commanding a troop of the 2d Cavalry, had gathered in the herd of 800 ponies which the Indians who escaped at the first charge tried to rescue. The hot fire and the short range had wrought terrible havoc. Within the first half hour twenty percent of the attacking force was laid low, and an unusual percentage was killed outright, but neither party would yield. The Indians dug cellar-like pits which protected them from direct fire. Another charge was ordered and, led by Captain Carter of the 5th Infantry a portion of that regiment sprang boldly forward, penetrated the village, and inflicted a severe loss, but thirty-five per cent of the attacking party fell in less time than is required to describe its heroic action. It was evident that success at such a price would be too costly. The courageous and skillful defense and the excellent arms of the Indians, many of whom had magazine guns and some of whom used explosive bullets, rendered it necessary to adopt the methods of a siege in subduing them. The skillful and brave conduct of Sergeant John McHugh, 5th Infantry, who commanded the artillery detachment and who had distinguished himself at Wolf Mountain, January 8,'77, deserves especial attention. The command was virtually a heavy skirmish line without reserves, and McHugh, regardless of personal exposure, crowded his artillery, one small Hotchkiss breech-loader and a 12- pounder, close upon the line, and deliberately loaded and fired. The exigencies of transportation permitted but few 1 2-pounder shells. Those few were so skillfully planted that every one of them told. On the 1st of October, the second day of the battle, some willingness to surrender appeared, but not till the 5th of October did the surrender occur. Joseph handed his rifle to General Miles and, with the dignity that well became his handsome figure and noble mien, pointed impressively to the sun and said: "From where the sun now stands I fight no more against the white man."
Four hundred and eighteen Indians surrendered; 57 were killed or wounded during the fight and siege; 105 including Joseph's daughter escaped when the troops charged, and reached Dominion territory. The captives were taken first to Kansas and then to Indian Territory. Nearly seven years later, when General Miles had received promotion and was commanding the department of Columbia, he at last succeeded in having Joseph and the remnant of his band returned to the vicinity of their old home.
The troops killed at the battle of Bear Paw lie side by side in the ceaseless comradeship of a soldier's grave on the field where they fought shoulder to shoulder; like so many other brave men who fell in the "Battle of Civilization," they are unknown or forgotten by those who profited by their victories. In his annual report for 1877, General Miles summarized thus the operations of his troops for the year ending with October: "Distance marched, over 4000 miles. Besides much property captured and destroyed, 1600 animals were taken. Upwards of 7000 Indians were killed, captured, forced to surrender, or driven out of the country.
DRIVING THE SIOUX UNDER THE YOKE
HAVING been sent by General Miles on a peaceful mission to Dominion territory, in the spring of 1878, I heard that Sitting Bull, so far from coming to the rescue of the besieged Nez Perces, was so terrified by the proximity of the command of " Bear Coat," as the Indians called General Miles, because of a fur-trimmed coat that he wore, that he pulled up stakes and fled incontinently northward. In February, 1878, his following moved south of the boundary and General Miles made preparations to attack him; he had already sent out his supply train with escort, when a telegram from Washington ordered him back. One of the conditions of the successes of 1876-1877 was the absence of speedy communication. That helpful lack had now been hurtfully supplied and the method adopted of conducting campaigns from a point so remote that prompt and intelligent use of the varying conditions at the scene of hostilities could not be made. But though the expedition north of the Missouri was suspended the entire section south of that river was tranquil and safe. As indicating this I may relate that on my return from the Dominion, in the summer of 1878, accompanied only by one scout, I journeyed across country from Fort Peck to Fort Keogh without seeing an Indian, and was assured of their absence by the quiet grazing of tens of thousands of buffalo among which we rode by day and camped at night. Taking advantage of this period of quiet General Miles started out with a party to visit Yellowstone Park, in August, 1878, but, while on the way learned that another band of Indians from beyond the mountains was coming into his district, over the route followed by Joseph the year before.
These were the Bannocks from southern Idaho. Sending the ladies and guests of the pleasure party forward on their journey, he took twenty men of the 5th Infantry, and fifteen Crow scouts, and started up Clark's Fork to intercept the invaders. On September 4 he surprised the camp, and in the brief fight 11 Indians were killed and the remainder of the band captured, also their animals, numbering 250. The loss of the attacking party was small in numbers, but among the killed was Captain Andrew S. Bennett, 5th Infantry, a most meritorious officer.
The winter of 1878-9 passed without any general movement of the command, but, as was said of a President of the United States whose term of office covered a period of great excitement, it might be said of Sitting Bull on our northern border that "He sat there like a poultice, drawing all the bad humors to a head." The recalling of the expedition of February, 1878, was practically an abandonment to the hostiles of the valleys of Milk River and other northern affluents of the Missouri in Montana, and they became Sitting Bull's domain, with friendly territory to the north, and there were assembled not only the United States Indians who were hostile, but also Indians and half-breeds from north of the line, making a total of some five thousand, with thousands of ponies. The half-breeds became a supply train of ammunition. It was evident at last, even at the seat of government thousands of miles away, that some stop must be put to the progress of affairs in that direction, and in June, 1879, the order came. In the spring the Indian's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of war. The buffaloes, in that olden time, roamed in great herds, "beef on the hoof" without limit, and the grass made the ponies fat, while the broad rivers were booming with the melting snows of the mountains, delaying the movement of troops and trains, whereas in the winter the frozen streams afforded smooth and easy roadway to troops and supplies, and the improvident enemy and their starved ponies were least prepared for activity. General Miles's force when assembled at Fort Peck consisted of seven companies of the 5th Infantry mounted on the ponies captured in earlier expeditions, seven troops of the 2d Cavalry, two companies of the 6th Infantry and an artillery detachment, besides surrendered Indian and white scouts, a total of about eight hundred, much the largest command that he ever led against Indians.
On July 17 the advance guard, two companies and Indian scouts, commanded by First-Lieutenant W. P. Clark ("Philo") 2d Cavalry, attacked a band of more than three hundred Indians near Frenchman's Creek, and after a sharp fight drove them back for twelve miles upon their main body which, issuing out, surrounded the advance. It is doubtful whether "Philo" ever felt a qualm of fear; he could not have been blamed if he had on this occasion experienced it, for the immense host was encircling him, and, but for the rapid advance of Miles and the main command he would probably not have survived to give his graphic account of the charge that came thundering to his rescue.
The charge was a splendid spectacle and a most efficient one; the hostiles abandoning their property fled precipitately from the field But the 49th parallel, which interposed no obstacle to the hostiles, whether advancing to depredate or retreating before the troops, was an insuperable barrier to those troops and prevented such pursuit as alone could result in success. The half-breeds, with their supply train of unique and indigenous carts, quaintly fashioned of wood and rawhide, without a scrap of iron, received the next attention, and more than eight hundred were arrested and a check put to their traffic.
While, for reasons already stated, this expedition could not achieve an immediate success, it yet so impressed the hostiles with the efficiency and ubiquity of the command that it largely contributed to produce the result desired. The succeeding months witnessed no general hostile movement; occasional raiding parties of Indians appeared and were hotly pursued, killed, captured, or dispersed by the troops that were kept ever alert and ready to start out in any direction at any time of day or night. In the summer and autumn of 1880 large and important surrenders to General Miles were made, the Indians breaking off from Sitting Bull's camp and coming under their own chiefs to Fort Keogh. In this way Spotted Eagle and Broad Trail or Big Road, Rain-in-the-Face, Kicking Bear, Short Bull, etc., and their followers came in and many others, but perhaps the most widely known of the Indians who thus surrendered was Rain-in-the-Face, whose name Longfellow's poem first made familiar and whose story Mrs. Custer's graphic book "Boots and Saddle" relates somewhat at length. Whether from modesty, caution, or a passion for exact statement, is uncertain, but he did not, after his surrender, claim for himself so conspicuous and so ghastly a part in the battle of Little Big Horn as the poem assigns him. Fierce savage though he doubtless was he exhibited marked susceptibilities to the softer vanities of life, took especial pleasure in arraying himself in gaudy attire, and with face highly colored, and having on it a row of simulated raindrops, would "preserve that expression" and "look pleasant" over and over while the photographer "took" him. These Indians numbering some fifteen hundred, also a considerable part of those who had surrendered earlier, were sent in 1881 by a fleet of steamboats to their agencies on the Missouri in Dakota. General Miles had exhibited towards them those qualities which secured their loyalty and confidence. He had conquered them in battle, kept inviolate faith with them in council, treated them justly, trusted and protected them as captives, and during the months of '79 and '8o, while keeping every trail hot with detachments in pursuit of the hostiles, had inaugurated a regime of peace and goodwill among those who were camped about Fort Keogh.
Dropping the implements of warfare they took hold of plow, hoe and shovel, made roads, broke the soil, and planted and so made a hopeful start on "the white man's road." When the order for their removal came they clustered about Captain E. P. Ewers, 5th Infantry, who had had immediate charge of them from the first and had ably seconded and executed General Miles's plans for their welfare, and, with tears streaming down their cheeks, besought him to take everything they owned and allow them to remain. Every member of the old campaigning force felt a keen and kindly interest in them. There was not alone the feeling of humanity but of comradeship; for many of them, as enlisted scouts, had marched and fought with the troops and some of them bear the scars of wounds received while fighting for the United States.
The surrender of those who had flocked to Sitting Bull's standard at last took from him the power to assert himself as a great chief. While proof cannot in the nature of the case be adduced, there is little room for doubt that the long tarry of those Indians north of the boundary was brought about by a corrupt alliance of one official with the traders in the Northwest Territory who profited greatly by trading with them. At last, deserted by all but his immediate family following, too weak and ill-supplied to maintain a hostile attitude, too poor by the sale or robbery of his effects to tempt the cupidity of those who graphically describe themselves as "not on the frontier for their health," Sitting Bull surrendered at Fort Buford, at the mouth of the Yellowstone, July 20, 1881. The combination in his mien of the grandeur of the great prince in misfortune and the thriftiness of the showman was irresistibly funny. Holding himself in sorrowful reserve within his tepee, he stationed one of his young men at the entrance to collect a quarter of a dollar from each one of the throng of eager visitors.
General Miles was promoted in December, 1880, which severed his connection with the 5th Infantry. Of that relation, which existed for eleven and a half years, it falls quite within the truth to say, no command was ever more ably led; no commander was ever more loyally and bravely followed.
THE CAPTURE OF GERONIMO'S APACHES
GENERAL MILES was now assigned to the command of the Department of the Columbia, including Alaska, Washington, and Oregon, and nearly all of Idaho. Before assuming it he was employed on a commission to the Indian Territory, and on other duty in the east. He went to his new headquarters, Vancouver Barracks, in the summer of 1881. He secured the return to their former home of Joseph's band of Nez Perces, who were unhappy in the Indian Territory. In the summer of 1885 there were indications of serious trouble in the Indian Territory, growing out of the conflict between the interests of the owners of immense herds of cattle grazing in that territory and of the Indians whose reservations were thus made a grazing ground, and the President summoned General Miles from the extreme northwest to the Department of the Missouri, with headquarters at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in which department the Indian Territory is situated. One-fourth of the army was assembled under his orders and, by its disposition in posts and camps near the scene of the difficulty, peace was maintained, and there opened before the General the prospect of a quiet residence at that most attractive post, Fort Leavenworth, which had been his army home for several years while he was colonel of the 5th Infantry. But, on April 2, 1886, he was sent to command the Department of Arizona to relieve General Crook. And so, a second time within nine months, the President had through the War Department assigned to him a new and most difficult task. The conditions of success were wholly unlike those which obtained in the Sioux war. In the northwest the great numbers of the enemy and the intensity of the cold were the two chief obstacles to be overcome, whereas in the southwest the hostile force was small and so easily eluded pursuers, and the temperature was torrid. Heat, barrenness, jagged mountain cliffs, steep walled canons, scant water, or the utter absence of it, these multiplied a hundred fold the prowess of the wily Apaches who had been accustomed for generations to defy these obstacles, to sustain life under these hard conditions, and for years to prey upon the peaceful inhabitants who lived a pastoral or agricultural life on the open plains or along the rivers, or mined the rich ores of the mountains.
Devastating impartially on both sides of the boundary, Arizona, New Mexico, and Northern Mexico were laid under rude tribute by these lithe and active savages, who moved so rapidly and stealthily that the fancied security growing out of a period of tranquility was often the precursor of destruction, robbery, and death. This insecurity and alarm had terrorized the citizens of the territories and caused, on the part of many, an abandonment of their ordinary industrial pursuits. Two tasks confronted him; to capture or destroy the Indians who were actively hostile led by Geronimo and Natchez, and to repress and control those who, through sympathy and relationship with the hostiles, and through instinct and experience, were ready to take the war path and swell the tide of devastation. The mountains and the sun—the first the strongholds of the savages and almost impassable obstacles to the troops, the latter the cause of the desert-like dryness and the intolerable heat which augmented the difficulties of campaigning almost to the point of impossibility — were made his allies, the eyes of his command, and the carriers of swift messages. By a system of heliograph signals, communications were sent with almost incredible swiftness; in one instance a message traveled seven hundred miles in four hours. The messages, flashed by mirrors from peak to peak of the mountains, disheartened the Indians as they crept stealthily or rode swiftly through the valleys, assuring them that all their arts and craft had not availed to conceal their trails, that troops were pursuing them and others awaiting them. The telescopes of the vigilant members of the Signal Corps, who garrisoned the rudely built but impregnable works on the mountains, permitted no movement by day, no cloud of dust even in the valleys below, to escape attention. Little wonder that the Indians thought that the powers of the unseen world were confederated against them.
Fortunately there was a treaty which permitted our troops to pursue the Indians into Mexico, and so the international boundary did not, as in the Northwest, interpose to protect them until they had refitted and recuperated. General Miles organized a special force of picked cavalry and infantry, scouts and guides, under Captain H. W. Lawton, 4th Cavalry; to pursue the hostiles whenever they should take to Mexican territory.
Geronimo did not permit this well-devised machine to rust from disuse. In truth, before it was fully in order, he put it to the test, making a blood-red trail from a point 150 miles within the Mexican Territory and invading ours on the 27th of April, just fifteen days after General Miles had taken command. The trail was taken up in succession, by twenty-five different commands or detachments, representing four regiments, each detachment inspired by the energy expressed in a paragraph of General Miles's order in which he said: "Commanding officers are expected to continue a pursuit until capture or until they are assured a fresh command is on the trail." This vigorous pursuit and the five encounters with different commands convinced the Indians that Arizona afforded them no place of security, and they hurried from its borders to the supposed inaccessible fastnesses of the Sierra Madre in Mexico. Though the contests of forces so small may not merit the name of battle, yet in no battle have the participants incurred greater risks or evinced a higher degree of heroism. Captain Lebo of the 10th Cavalry, after a hot pursuit of 200 miles, brought the Indians to bay and there ensued a spirited contest just within the Mexican Territory, in which Lieutenant Powhatan H. Clarke of the Loth Cavalry, then recently from the class-rooms and the drill ground of West Point, distinguished himself by rushing forward at the risk of his life and bearing to a place of safety a wounded veteran soldier who lay helpless under a sharp fire of the enemy. A like act of heroism was a few days later exhibited under similar circumstances by First-Sergeant Samuel Adams of the 4th Cavalry, of the command of Captain Hatfield of that regiment.
Lawton's command (with its sixty days' supplies on pack mules) now took up the trail. The rough nature of the country and the absence of grass and water made it impossible to employ cavalry in a long continued pursuit. Assistant-Surgeon Leonard Wood, who for a part of the time added to his professional duties the command of the infantry of Lawton's force, gives a graphic description of the country and of the chase. He writes:
Sonora, taken as a whole, is a continuous mass of mountains of the most rugged and broken character. Range follows range with hardly an excuse for a valley. It produces nothing save a few wild fruits, cactus, and more or less of game. Troops operating in these sections are dependent for all supplies on pack trains. Such is the roughness of the country in some portions that even these cannot pass through. Water is scanty and often of poor quality. Grass almost wanting during the dry season. The heat is intense, often reaching 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Of the Apaches of Geronimo's band he says:
Mountaineers from infancy, they found little difficulty in passing through the roughest country. The cactus and various roots furnished food ; water or its equivalent was also furnished by the former plant; rats, mice, rabbits, and deer contributing the meat ration, also the horse when forced as far as he could carry his rider. During the latter part of June and July it was my good fortune to command the infantry. In the detachment of Companies D and K, 8th Infantry, were men who had served in India and South Africa, and, in their opinion, this was by far the hardest and roughest service they had ever seen. . . . Infantry on this expedition marched in drawers and undershirts. . . . I do not remember seeing a pair of blue trousers put on after once wearing the lighter articles mentioned above.
Through such a region and with such drafts upon the strength and fortitude of the men this force kept up the pursuit during the intolerable heat of that summer of '86, and with such steadfastness and skill that no craft or device of the savages could throw them off the trail or secure to the pursued an hour's respite. The extreme southern point of pursuit was three hundred miles south of the international boundary and its tortuous windings spread a network of intersecting trails over the mountains and canons of Sonora. At last (September 4) the Indians, worn out, surrendered. This band was sent ultimately to Alabama. The conduct of Lieutenant C. B. Gatewood, 6th Cavalry, in going unattended by troops into the camp of the hostiles and demanding their surrender, must be recorded as a conspicuous instance of the fortitude which at the call of duty defies danger.
Simultaneously with the winding up of the Geronimo and Natchez campaign and the deporting of them and their followers, the four hundred Warm Spring and Chiricahua Indians at Fort Apache, who were thought to be ready for an outbreak, were also hurried from the territory which they had harried and devastated for years. The citizens of Arizona indicated their appreciation of General Miles's services by presenting to him a richly ornamented sword. For the first time in our history our temple of Janus had closed doors.
THE MESSIAH DISTURBANCE
WHEN the foregoing was written, more than a year ago, the "Messiah Craze" was beginning to attract the attention of those who were intently observing Indian affairs. It was asserted that Mormon influence was active in stirring up dissatisfaction. The craze took shape from what was, unfortunately, an always present feeling with the Indians — hunger. The Messiah was not only to annihilate the invading whites, but to bring back the boundless herds of buffalo which, but a decade ago, were the Indians' preferred, food. The non-progressive, inveterately wild Indians, of whom Sitting Bull was the best known, saw in the disaffection and hallucination an opportunity to recover their fast-waning power; and the boys and young men, who had grown up in a period of peace and had listened to the recital of the deeds of their sires under the old regime, burned with zeal to emulate them.
At that time General Miles was in command of the military division which included our entire Pacific coast. Before the Indian trouble culminated, changes of command fortunately brought him from the West to the Interior, and placed him in command of the Division of the Missouri, in which are all of the Sioux, thousands of whom had surrendered to him during his campaigns of 1876-80, and among whom the craze was the most menacing. With his customary foresight, General Miles formed plans and issued orders, whose careful execution would have illustrated the beneficent work of a disciplined force, not only in preventing violence, but also in protecting non-combatants and their property. Even a partial execution of his plans afforded this protection; during the trouble, from November 15, 1890 to January 25, 1891, not a person was killed by Indians outside the boundaries of an Indian reservation, and the homes and property of adjacent settlers were unmolested.
Doubtless one of Sitting Bull's own race would call him an unbending patriot. "The Great Spirit made me an Indian and did not make me an Agency Indian," he proudly asserted to General Miles under a flag of truce, in the fall of 1876, when backed up by a thousand braves. There are, however, but two goals for the Indians — civilization or annihilation; Sitting Bull has the latter, as doubtless he would have preferred. He was killed December 15, 1890 by men of his own race who were enforcing against him the orders of the whites, whom he hated. Captain Fechet, of the 8th Cavalry, who brought a force to the support of the Agency police, took charge of the body, which was not mutilated nor scalped; he had it carried to Fort Yates, North Dakota, where it was decently buried in a coffin. Whatever the opinion entertained as to Sitting Bull and his taking off, inasmuch as his influence tended always to embroil his. following with the dominant race his death will doubtless result in benefit to his own people.
For every Indian war there is a cause; too often that cause has been bad policy, bad faith, bad conduct, or blundering on the part of the whites. This sketch has simply recognized the fact of war and sought to give a true though necessarily an inadequate statement as to the means used by one commander to conduct his Indian campaigns to their uniformly successful issue. Given the fact of war, whatever the cause, the soldier must secure peace, even if he fights to win it. For the savage of to-day, as for civilized man not so many centuries ago, an enemy and his wife and children have no rights. The recognition of this fact would prevent much misconception as to the character of Indians. If I have not, in these sketches, indicated sufficiently the friendly feeling which, in common with nearly all army men, I feel for the Indians, not only friendly feeling but admiration for many of their qualities, I cannot hope to do so in a brief paragraph. The American people, those who really wish and hope to save the Indians from extinction or degradation, must be prepared to use great patience and summon all their wisdom. Indians (the men) naturally look upon the arts of peace very much as the knights of the past ages did. War is their pastime; by it come glory, honor, leadership. It is unlikely that the place of the Indians as peaceful citizens will approach their place as warriors. "Justice and judgment," the one to protect, the other justly to punish them, have been too greatly lacking. It remains yet to be seen whether the future will be better than the past.
From The Century Magazine, 1891.