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St. Louis, Mo., October 1,1867.

MAJOR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt at these headquarters, during my absence, of your circular dated September 9, 1867, calling for a report of operations within my command for the year ending September 30, 1867. Fortunately, by a temporary recess of the Indian Peace Commission of which I am a member, I am enabled to be at my headquarters at this date, and will endeavor to make the report called for as concise as possible, considering the vast extent of country embraced in the limits of my command and the great number of events that. have transpired during the past year.

At the date of my last annual report, November 5, 1866, this military, division embraced the four geographical departments of Dakota, the Platte, the Missouri, and the Arkansas. By the act of Congress embraced in General Orders No. 10, Adjutant General's Office, March 11, 1867, the State of Arkansas became a part of the fourth military district, and was thereby, with its commanding general and the troops serving there, withdrawn from my command, leaving the Indian country on its west, which was assigned to and afterwards became a part of the department of the Missouri.

Brevet Major General P. St. George Cooke was relieved of the command of the department of the Platte, January 23, 1867, by Brevet Major General C. C. Augur, pursuant to Special Orders No. 13, paragraph 9, War Department, January 19, 1867, and Major General W. S. Hancock was on the 12th of September 1867, relieved by Major General P. H. Sheridan, so that now the military division of the Missouri embraces the department of Dakota, Brevet Major General A. H. Terry commanding, with his headquarters at St. Paul, Minnesota; the department of the Platte, Brevet Major General C. C. Augur, headquarters Omaha, Nebraska, and the department of the Missouri, Major General P. H. Sheridan, headquarters at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

I herewith transmit a tabular statement of all the troops serving in this military division, to include September, 1867, with the names of the commanding officers of departments, districts, and posts.

About the close of the year 1866 we were especially embarrassed by the fact that we were compelled to muster out of service all volunteers that had been organized for the war of rebellion, before they could be replaced by regular troops for which Congress had provided at a date too late to be enlisted and sent to the remote frontier posts last year. This forced the department commanders to use garrisons during the winter months too small for the necessities of the case, and it was all that could be done. The winter of 1866-7 proved to be unprecedentedly [sic] severe, so that for long periods it was a physical impossibility to keep open the communications with some of the most remote posts, such as Forts Phil. Kearney, C. F. Smith, Buford, Berthold, and Camp Cooke. All of these posts were located in a country claimed by the northern Sioux, who were more or less unfriendly. Fort Phil. Kearney was one of the chain of posts established in 1865 and 1866 to protect the wagon road leading from the North Platte to the new mining Territory of Montana. It was on a fork of Powder river, a tributary to the Yellowstone, distant from old Fort Laramie 223 miles. In December last it was garrisoned by five companies of the eighteenth infantry, and one company of the second cavalry, 411 men, present for duty, commanded by Colonel H. C.[sic] Carrington, eighteenth infantry. On the morning of December 21, 1866, a wagon train started as usual after timber for the saw-mill, and had proceeded but a short distance with an armed escort when firing was heard and the alarm given that the train was attacked by the Indians. Captain and Brevet Lieutenant Colonel W. J. Fetterman, eighteenth infantry, with a detachment of 49 men, was directed by Colonel Carrington to proceed to the train, escort it back in safety to the post, but not to pursue the enemy. Lieutenant Grummond, of the same regiment, with 27 men of the second cavalry, was afterwards despatched [sic] to report to Lieutenant Colonel Fetterman, and to reiterate the orders previously given. Captain Brown seems to have joined the detachment without orders, and two citizens, Messrs. Wheatley and Fisher; the whole being three commissioned officers, 76 enlisted men, and two citizens. This detachment, instead of going to the threatened train, diverged very considerably to the right, crossed Big Piney creek, and passed over some high ground that covered them from view. Sharp firing was heard from that direction which lasted three-fourths of an hour, when Colonel Carrington despatched [sic] Captain Ten Eyck, of the eighteenth, with further assistance, but as Captain Ten Eyck reached a point four miles distant, he observed the Indians in large force, estimated from 1,500 to 2,000 men, all mounted and moving off, and he also found all the bodies of Colonel Fetterman's party dead. Evidences of a terrible though short conflict were visible, but every man was killed. The bodies were all collected, carried back to the fort, and properly buried. The wagon train also returned to the post safely, and the Indians disappeared. Subsequent accounts from Indians indicate that they had expected to draw out and murder the whole garrison, but their loss in the conflict was such that they abandoned any further effort. General Augur, who soon after succeeded to the command of the department embracing Fort Phil. Kearney, despatched [sic] General Wessels with re-enforcements [sic], and was instructed, if possible in mid-winter, to follow the savages and take vengeance, but it was soon demonstrated that no human beings could be exposed in that bleak country in mid-winter and live. So, that winter passed without accomplishing anything; and with spring came commissions sent out by the government to inquire into and report the cause of this massacre. Nearly a year has gone by without our having taken a just vengeance against these savages, and it is now too late to do anything for effect.

Shortly after this affair, viz., December 26, 1866, other bands of Sioux made their appearance in hostile array at Fort Buford, at the month of Yellowstone, garrisoned by one company of the thirty-first infantry, Brevet Lieutenant Colonel W. G. Rankin commanding. They made no impression and did but little damage, yet, as the severity of winter cut off all communication with the place from early January till March, reports were circulated that the entire garrison were massacred, and it was near two months before the truth was revealed that all were safe and well, and perfectly unconscious of their reported destruction.

As the spring of 1867 opened, reports of Indian hostilities came pouring in from every quarter, but in order to give a connection to these I will begin at the extreme north. On the 3d of May, 1867, the honorable Secretary of War, Mr. Stanton, transmitted to me despatches [sic], of the most alarming nature from the acting governor of Montana, General Meagher, and the chief justice of the Territory, to the effect that large bands of hostile Sioux and Crows were threatening the valley of the Gallatin, and that the people were fleeing for their lives. The Secretary authorized me, under advice of extreme caution, to call out volunteers for the emergency if the regular troops were inadequate. Under date of May 14, 1867, I telegraphed to Acting Governor Meagher that re-enforcements [sic] were coming as fast as possible, but if the danger was as great as he had represented, to "call out in your interest, the people and clear the way," adding, "there is no law authorizing the enrolling of troops in a Territory subject to the governor, but you should meet the emergency without a formal organization and muster into service of the United States, confining yourself to self-protection." Governor Meagher had already called out volunteers, and subsequently asked me for arms, equipments [sic], and to be mustered in. This I emphatically refused in a despatch [sic] of the 9th of May, but instructed General Augur at Omaha to order from his nearest post, viz., Salt Lake City, a discreet officer to go to Virginia City, Montana, and to judge of the necessity of a call for volunteers. General Augur despatched [sic] that most judicious officer, Major and Brevet Lieutenant Colonel William H. Lewis, thirty-sixth infantry, who reached Virginia City about May 19, 1867, and, after remaining there a month, confirmed me in the belief that Gallatin valley had not been invaded by hostile Indians at all, but that the murder of a Mr. Bozeman, more than sixty miles beyond Gallatin, in the direction of Fort C. F. Smith, was the only real act of hostility that he could hear of that had been committed in that quarter. I then recalled Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Lewis, and left the whole matter to General Terry, in whose department Montana was, and who was then known to be en route for that Territory. For the further consideration of this matter I refer to General Terry's report herewith, and only allude to it here to show that the United States are not in any measure responsible for the call for volunteers in Montana, which Acting Governor Meagher made in spite of the decision to the contrary by the rightful department of government, and because I also learn that since the arrival there of Governor Green Clay Smith, he also has retained in service these volunteers, and has brought about a conflict with the Crows and other Indians outside of the settled limits of the Territory, when he knew that the government, desired very much to retain peaceful relations with them.

About the same time, viz., May 1867, the Indians, both from the north and south, began a systematic attack upon the Platte route. General Augur, within whose department this route lies, was present in person and most active, doing all that was possible with the regular troops at his disposal. But, being personally charged with the responsibility of calling out volunteers in case of necessity, and also advised of the great desire of the War Department to avoid a general Indian war, I repaired in person to Omaha, and accompanied General Augur to Fort Sedgwick, where, or in its vicinity, I remained from the 6th to the 22d of June, having previously ordered six companies of the seventh cavalry, under General Custer, from the Smoky Hill to the Platte. Governor Hunt, of Colorado, had also telegraphed to the Secretary of War concerning the dangers that threatened his Territory. His message was transmitted to me also by the Secretary of War, with a similar caution as in the case of Montana. I answered Governor Hunt under date of May 29, 1867: "There is no law to pay for volunteers, but you ought to raise a regiment of 500 men, and have them ready in case I call for them." After reaching Fort Sedgwick I had a very full correspondence with Governor Hunt, and in a despatch [sic] of June 6, I used this language: "It is barely possible the Cheyenne camp, stampeded by Hancock on Pawnee fork, is now on the Republican, south of this. General Custer may strike them in coming across; but if you will start four companies of 300 men from Denver at once, say to-morrow, for the head of the Republican, to scour it eastward as far as this, and then come in here, I will have General Potter to muster them in for two months, which will entitle them to pay for selves and horses as soon as Congress can appropriate the money. I will replace any arms or ammunition you may borrow for the time being, and will supply the command on its arrival here with rations for selves and horses. This is the best I can do now, but it must be done at once." The governor found it impossible to buy horses for these volunteers, and I had no right to buy them, so that the project was dropped, and no volunteers have been raised in Colorado, and I know of no money claims being entertained as growing out of recent Indian hostilities there.

The same causes which led to a general feeling of apprehension on account of Indian hostilities at the north, had also manifested themselves in General Hancock's department, more especially along the Arkansas river route to New Mexico, and the Smoky Hill road to Colorado. Very early in the season Indians of the Cheyenne, Kiowa, and Arapahoe bands had unreservedly notified the commanding officers of posts and the stage drivers and agents that, as soon as the grass grew, they would insist on our withdrawing from these roads. General Hancock also learned that certain Ogalalla and Brule Sioux had come down from the far north, and were then in treaty with the Cheyennes and Dog-Soldiers, arranging for general hostilities and a concert of action on their part. He accordingly collected a force, mostly of the new seventh cavalry and thirty-seventh infantry with light battery B, fourth artillery, and during the month of April he proceeded in person to the threatened country, viz., that. embracing Forts Zarah, Larned, and Dodge on the Arkansas, and Forts Harker and Hays on the Smoky Hill. He held full interviews with nearly all the leading men of the tribes I have named, but for reasons fully set forth in his report of May 23, 1867, he, on the 19th of April, burned the village of the Cheyennes and Sioux on Pawnee Fork as a punishment for depredations and murders previously committed. I refer to the general's report of this whole matter, and beg that no indemnification be attempted to these tribes on this account, for it would encourage them to believe themselves warranted to commit any number of murders and thefts, and they would necessarily infer that we feared to strike them in their most vulnerable points, viz., their property and families. It is very difficult to catch their warriors if once on their guard, and the only mode of restraining them is by making them feel that we can reach their families and property. Inasmuch as General Hancock has been relieved of his command, and may not be able to give me his annual report in time to go with this, I enclose herewith in place thereof the following papers compiled at his headquarters, viz.:

1. Distribution of troops December 31, 1866.
2. Distribution of troops July 31, 1867.
3. Distances travelled [sic] by detachments from December, 1866, to September, 1867.
4. Actual results of collisions of troops with Indians.
5. Damage done to citizen trains this year.

I am convinced that on this line also our troops have done all that was possible, and that without them we would have been compelled to abandon the roads altogether, and leave the Territories of New Mexico and Colorado cut off entirely from any intercourse with the rest of our country, a state of things not to be contemplated for a moment by a government claiming dominion of the soil.

When I was at Fort Sedgwick, on the 11th of June, assisting General Augur on that line, General Hancock was in person on the Smoky Hill, and to give encouragement I advised him to go in person along the whole line as far as Denver. This he did, reaching Denver on the 23d of June. After arranging certain matters there he returned eastward along that route, (the Smoky Hill,) and I met him in person at Fort Harker, July 12. In the mean time the cholera had manifested its presence at Fort Harker, and the Indians also were very active attacking the railroad working parties and the trains geneerally [sic], so that on the 4th of July I went to Fort Harker in person to see that all was being done the case admitted of to check the progress of the cholera, and of the Indians also. Brevet Major General A. J. Smith, in command of the troops there in the absence of General Hancock, had represented the absolute necessity for more cavalry, and urgently asked that the six companies of the seventh cavalry that had been previously ordered across to the Platte should be sent back again. This being impossible then, there was no alternative but to meet the pressing demand by a call for volunteers. Governor Crawford undertook to raise a battalion of six or eight companies of Kansas mounted volunteers, to be ready for muster into service of the United States by the 6th of July. Captain and Brevet Lieutenant Colonel F. H. Bates, (retired,) mustering officer of the department of the Missouri, was ordered to Fort Harker with the necessary rolls. The volunteers were not ready at the day appointed, but Governor Crawford came in person to Fort Harker; and on the 14th day of July Captain Bates mustered in four companies of Kansas volunteers for four months, all that could be got up to that date. They are now in service and have done well, and I ask that the necessary appropriations be promptly made for their payment. To this Mr. Stanton, the Secretary of War, pledged himself to me, and I, in turn, made the same pledge to the men; and I ask that this pledge be redeemed. They are the only volunteers called out by me, and they were indispensably necessary. In this connection I will also say that this, the only expense, is outside of the regular appropriations for the army, that has been incurred with my sanction in all these Indian troubles.

We have been very short of cavalry all the time. General Terry had none at all; General Augur but one regiment, the second; and General Hancock three regiments, one of which, the third, was and is in New Mexico; the tenth, a colored regiment, was just in the act of enlistment, and the seventh was the only one available for service this summer. This forced me to shift the seventh back and forth, from the Smoky Hill to the Platte and back again, as the hostile Indians changed from one road to the other; and this led to the most lamentable loss of Lieutenant Kidder with a party of ten men and one Indian guide.

I have heretofore stated that I went in person to Fort Sedgwick on the 6th of June, awaiting the arrival of General Custer with six companies of the seventh cavalry, ordered across from Fort Hays. General Custer reached Fort McPherson on the 13th of June, and on the 15th and 16th I went in person to meet him, and started him over to the Republican to scout it to its head, and to come in for supplies at Fort Sedgwick or above. The appearance of Custer's force on the upper Republican at once quieted matters on the Platte, but the Indians became more active on the Smoky Hill, and having returned to St. Louis, and learning that Custer had sent to Fort Wallace for supplies on the 27th of June, I sent orders to him through Colonel Litchfield at Omaha, General Augur's chief of staff, in these words: "I don't understand about General Custer being on the Republican awaiting provisions from Fort Wallace. If this be so, and all the Indians be gone south, convey to him my orders that he proceed with all his command in search of the Indians towards Fort Wallace, and report to General Hancock, who will leave Denver for same place today." Colonel Litchfield transmitted these orders to Colonel Potter, commanding Fort Sedgwick, who gave them to Lieutenant Kidder with a detail of ten men and an Indian guide, to be delivered to General Custer at his camp on the Republican, to the south and west of Fort Sedgwick. Before Lieutenant Kidder had reached General Custer's camp, the latter had broken camp and started under his first orders for the Platte, reaching it at a point to the west of Fort Sedgwick, where he received a copy of the foregoing orders, and started back at once for Fort Wallace. On his way across he found the skeletons of Lieutenant Kidder's party, all of whom had been killed by Indians; (General Custer's report of this has already been sent to you.) General Custer, on reaching Fort Wallace, left a part of his command, and with the rest came into Fort Riley without orders, for which he is now under trial on charges preferred by General Hancock.

It would swell my report beyond all reasonable limits were I to attempt give in detail all the operations of the troops in my command, but the above, with the reports of Generals Terry and Augur herewith, and the official reports already on file in your office, will be as full as the case calls for; and I will now only refer to such other matters as seem to me pertinent to the occasion.

During the year, two most, important enterprises, in which the whole civilized world has an interest, have been in progress within this Indian country – the Omaha Pacific railroad and the Kansas Pacific railroad. The former was completed last year, and in running order as far as the forks of the Platte, 280 miles west of Omaha. The winter season was a month later this year than usual, and an immense amount of rain fell in April and May, delaying work; but since June rapid progress has been made. I have myself passed over 455 miles of finished railroad west of Omaha, and am satisfied from the preparations made and materials on the ground that the Omaha Pacific railroad will be finished and in good running order during the month of November as far as Cheyenne, the foot of the Rocky mountains, a distance of 530 miles from Omaha. Although the Indian hostilities have somewhat embarrassed the surveying and grading parties, yet they have not materially delayed the main work of construction.

The Kansas Pacific railroad sustained heavy damage by the freshets of May, and June.

This was rapidly and substantially repaired by the contractor, Mr. Shoemaker, and the road was in complete order up to Fort Harker by the first of July. Since that date their working parties have been often interrupted by Indians. Still this railroad also has made fair progress, and I am convinced it will be finished in good working order up to and beyond Fort Hays, 76 miles west of Fort Harker, during the present month of October.

My instructions have been to extend to both these roads as much military protection and assistance as the troops could spare consistent with their other heavy and important duties; and I shall continue the same general orders to aid these important enterprises.

These roads, although in the hands of private corporations, have more than the usual claim on us for military protection, because the general government is largely interested pecuniarily [sic]. They aid us materially in our military operations by transporting troops and stores rapidly across a belt of land hitherto only passed in the summer by slow trains drawn by oxen, dependent on the grass for food; and all the States and Territories west have a direct dependence on these roads for their material supplies. When these two great thoroughfares reach the base of the Rocky mountains, and when the Indian title to roam at will over the country lying between them is extinguished, then the solution of this most complicated question of Indian hostilities will be comparatively easy, for this belt of country will naturally fill up with our own people, who will permanently separate the hostile Indians of the north from those of the south, and allow us to direct our military forces on one or the other at pleasure, if thereafter they continue their acts of hostility.

During the past, year we have been infinitely embarrassed by many causes that I trust will not occur again. In the early part of the year there seemed to be a concerted and mischievous design to precipitate hostilities by a series of false reports almost without parallel, such as that referred to at Fort Buford, and the subsequent report of the massacre of all the people on board the steamboat Miner, both of which were manufactured out of whole cloth. These were followed by exaggerations of similar nature on the other travelled [sic] roads, such as that of Moore's ranch, on the Platte, and of Bishop Lamy's party, on the Arkansas. These may have originated in a natural rivalry for business on the three great roads, the friends of each aiming to damage the business of the others by these inventions and exaggerations; but the truth is, that all the roads have been seriously damaged, thereby, and worse yet, emigration to the mountain Territories has been seriously checked by them. There is and can be no remedy for such things until the people in general learn to measure such reports by the experience of the past.

But there is a pressing necessity for legislation to give greater assurance of safety to life and property on the plains. The States of Kansas and Nebraska, and the Territories of Dakota, Montana, Colorado, and New Mexico, have each, within their prescribed boundaries, a rightful civil and criminal jurisdiction, but the troops have no law for their own guidance and protection. The Indian intercourse law of 1834 is utterly inapplicable to the case, for by that law we may at any moment be called on to eject by force the white population of these Territories, which embrace more or less of Indian lands. Public lands have been surveyed and sold, railroads and stage roads located, and telegraph lines, with their necessary offices and stations, established in a country where the Indian title is clearly recognized; and all parties interested turn to the military, the only visible national authority, to give force and effect to their titles or to their rights. Towns and settlements are daily "occurring" in western Dakota without any civil government, and the seat of the civil authority is at Yancton [sic], on the Missouri river, too distant and inaccessible to be regarded. Murders and robberies are of frequent occurrence, with no practicable means of punishment or prevention. The military power has no rightful authority to interpose in such cases, and the consequences already are very demoralizing, and will soon be worse unless a rightful remedy is applied. I have no suggestions to make, but most urgently would invite the War Department to lay the subject before the Congress of the United States, in order that it may take the whole subject under consideration, and provide an efficient civil government, or empower the military to exercise such authority where the civil authority is manifestly inadequate.

On the first day of July last I made you an official report on the Indian affairs of the plains, which I beg now to refer to and make part of this. Since that date the Congress of the United States has by an act approved July 20, 1867, provided for a board of commissioners, to proceed to the Indian country, and to take in charge the whole question. I was detailed by the President as a member of that board, which assembled at the Southern Hotel, of this city, on the sixth day of August, and has ever since been closely engaged in the work. Pending their action, I have made all military movements purely defensive, and subordinate to their plans and purposes. In the departments bordering on the Platte and Missouri, Indian hostilities have in a measure ceased since the board has been at work, but on the Arkansas and Smoky Hill, hostilities still prevail; yet it is hoped these also will, in a measure, be quieted down. Until that commission has closed its work, and Congress has acted on their report, the military will be kept as much on the defensive as possible; but it is not equally practicable to restrain the people who live in contact with the Indians, and who have less faith in their sincerity as to peace. In the mean time, I deem it wise and prudent to continue to occupy as heretofore the great roads and the exposed points of our frontiers, and to use the time in improving the buildings and collecting the necessary supplies. In this we have made good progress and from personal inspection, and from the reports of good and tried inspectors, I am well satisfied that our troops are in infinitely better condition in all respects than they were at this time last year. If the Indian peace commission succeed in quieting the Indians, these military posts will soon become what they were heretofore on our western border, the nuclei of towns, enabling us to withdraw the troops, and to concentrate them either at cheaper posts of supply, or to move them still further in the direction of the newer and more exposed settlements.

The experiment of using Indians in the capacity of soldiers has been partially tried during the past year, with as much success as could reasonably be expected. The act of Congress approved July 28, 1866, provided for one thousand Indian scouts, to receive the pay of cavalry soldiers, but no provision was made for organizing them into companies or battalions. The subject is worthy of further efforts, because if we can convert the wild Indians into a species of organized cavalry, subject to military control, it accomplishes a double purpose, in taking them out of the temptation of stealing and murdering, and will accustom them to regular habits and discipline, from which they will not likely depart when discharged. I therefore recommend that the number be increased to two thousand, and that provision of law be made, when they are organized into companies of fifty men, a captain and lieutenant be allowed per company, with the same pay and allowances as other cavalry officers of the same rank; but such officers should not be commissioned, but simply appointed at the pleasure of the commanding general of the department in which they serve, and discharged the same as hired men, for cause, or when their services are not wanted. These companies and scouts should always be discharged and paid off on the beginning of winter and re-employed the following spring. General Augur was forced to hire white men as "guides." and style them captains of companies, but this is irregular and had better be provided for by law, so that muster rolls could be retained as in case of other troops, and payments made by the regular paymasters.

In conclusion, I again refer to the reports of Generals Terry and Augur, herewith, and the many reports in detail made throughout the past year, and plead in extenuation for the want of precision in this, that I have had little time, especially of late, for writing reports.

With great respect,

Lieutenant General.

Assistant Adjutant General, Headquarters of the Army,
Washington, D. C.

Annual Report of the Secretary of War to Congress-1867
Report of General Sherman-Division of the Missouri
Combined Arms Research Library, Ft. Leavenworth, KS
D00998 roll no. 3 1867 page 33