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Kansas Historical Quarterly - Defense of the Kansas Frontier 1866-1867

by Marvin H. Garfield

August 1932 (Vol. 1, No. 4), pages 326 to 344
Transcribed by lhn; HTML editing by Tod Roberts
digitized with permission of the Kansas Historical Society.


COMPARATIVELY speaking, the year 1866 passed rather quietly on the Kansas frontier. Indian depredations were not only less numerous but of a more petty nature than those of the previous years. Early in the year the Southern Cheyennes and Arapahoes sent messengers to their northern tribesmen to persuade those hostiles to make peace. Col. E. W. Wyncoop, former commander at Fort Lyon, was appointed by the War Department to escort the envoys. [1]

Indian outbreaks in Kansas began in May along the Solomon river and near Lake Sibley. [2] Gov. S. J. Crawford at once organized a battalion of militia and sent them to the region. The state troopers soon engaged a band of Cheyennes in a sharp fight in the Lake Sibley neighborhood. [3] In July and August several raids by the Pawnees and Omahas occurred on White Rock and Lulu creeks, tributaries of the Solomon river. [4] In October and November hunters were driven in by Indians on the Solomon, and petty robberies and thefts were committed in Clay, Republic and Shirley counties.

Governor Crawford discovered in August that not only the Pawnees but Osages as well were responsible for recent frontier outrages. He therefore ordered Col. W. F. Cloud of the state militia to visit their reservations and investigate. Gen. W. S. Hancock, commanding the Department of the Missouri, was requested to furnish an escort from Fort Riley for Colonel Cloud. [5]

Overland transportation suffered more than did the frontier settlements during 1866. [6] The Smoky Hill route continued to receive its full share of attention by the Indians. This no doubt was due to the fact that the Union Pacific railroad, eastern division, was moving rapidly westward along the Kaw and Smoky Hill valleys and gave promise of soon threatening the favorite buffalo hunting



grounds of the red men. The Butterfield Overland Despatch, which monopolized traffic over the route, was purchased by the Holladay interests in 1866 and merged with the Platte line into the Holladay Overland Mail and Express Company. [7] On April 20 the new company started a daily schedule from both Topeka and Denver. As fast as the railroad was completed westward the stages were moved to "End of Track." [8]

As a protection to freighters the War Department in February issued an order which required wagon trains to be made up of at least twenty wagons and thirty men before they would be allowed to pass Fort Kearney on the Platte trail, Fort Riley on the Smoky Hill route or Fort Larned an the Santa Fe trail. [9] Stages on all routes were guarded, generally by military escorts, while passing through the Indian country. At each station a noncommissioned officer with a squad of soldiers met the stage and escorted it to the next station. [10]

Throughout the year Governor Crawford exerted tremendous efforts to put down Indian disturbances. The expense of defending the frontier with state militia was so great that the governor hesitated to use them. As a consequence he appealed to the War Department and district commanders to protect the settlements, but received no response. [11] He telegraphed to the Secretary of War for cavalry arms, with which to arm the settlers, but failed to get them. The War Department informed Crawford that a shortage of troops prevented them from properly guarding the border. Crawford replied by offering to raise a Kansas regiment to be mustered into the United States service for the purpose of protecting the frontier until it could be replaced by army regulars. This offer was also rejected. [12] These efforts having failed, the Kansas executive telegraphed to the department commander at Fort Leavenworth stating that immediate action was needed and that, if the department commander would not act, he (the governor) would send Major General Cloud (formerly Colonel Cloud) with militia to pursue the Indians to their reservations, punish them and compel indemnity for their past conduct. [13] This elicited a response from General Hancock who, on August 28, assured the governor that he would cooperate with the state authorities in every possible way. Hancock had sent a scouting party of


one hundred cavalrymen from Fort Harker to the Solomon and suggested that they operate with the state militia who were already scouting in that region. [14]

In the meantime General Cloud was touring the settlements upon the Republican and Solomon rivers. Here he proceeded to organize the residents into militia companies. He reported that the majority of the settlers were Civil War veterans and possessed guns, but needed ammunition. [l5] As a result of his personal observations Cloud recommended to Governor Crawford that the militia be re organized and that a United States military post be established in the exposed region. [16]

In the latter part of August Colonel Wyncoop, in his official role as peacemaker, assembled a group of Cheyenne and Arapahos chiefs at Fort Harker for a council. The Indians thought that the government had forgotten them, since their promised annuities hadn't been received. Their attitude toward the construction of the railroad up the Smoky Hill was one of resignation to the inevitable. They realized (so they said) that the white man was too numerous to be overcome. Futhermore, they promised to restrain their young men from additional depredations. [17]

At no time in 1866 did the activities of the Indians assume the proportions of a general outbreak such as that of 1864-'65. The strenuous attempts of Governor Crawford to compel the War Department to intervene in behalf of Kansas now seem unnecessary. He accomplished, however, another piece of work which perhaps was more constructive. Having learned from the commander of Fort Harker that most of the outrages and murders committed by the Indians could be traced to alcoholic liquors, Governor Crawford recommended that the state legislature prohibit all liquor traffic in Kansas beyond the limits of the organized counties. [18] The legislature, in compliance with this suggestion, passed House bill No. 105, which became a. law on February 23, 1867. [19]


Additional evidence that the governor and people of Kansas may have been excessively excited over Indian troubles during the year was furnished by Gen. William T. Sherman, who had been touring Kansas and Colorado in the fall of 1866. Sherman encountered no Indian troubles other than rumors. In referring to the latter he said, "These are all mysterious, and only accountable on the supposition that our people out West are resolved on trouble for the sake of the profit resulting from the military occupation." [20]


In his personal narrative Governor Crawford stated: "When I returned from Washington in April, 1867, General Hancock was in the field with a handful of United States troops, and the plains of Kansas were swarming with bloodthirsty Indians." [21] Hancock had left Fort Leavenworth early in March upon a campaign designed to bring the Indians into submission. By showing a large force, including artillery, it was hoped that the red men would be frightened into a permanent peace. Hancock with six companies of infantry and artillery marched to Fort Riley, where he was joined by Col. George A. Custer with four companies of Seventh cavalry and one infantry company. At Fort Harker the expedition added two more cavalry troops. With this small army Hancock marched to Fort Lamed, arriving April 7. [22]

Cheyennes and Sioux were camped on Pawnee Fork about thirty miles northwest of the fort. When the Indians persistently refused to come in and make a treaty, Hancock decided to march on their encampment. On April 11 the regiment moved forward. Before reaching the camp they were met by a large body of Indians bearing a white flag. The chiefs said they wanted peace instead of war; nevertheless Hancock's troops moved forward and camped near their village. The Indians, fearing another Sand Creek massacre, fled during the night. Custer pursued them the next day, but the Indians, after raiding the Overland Stage Company stations on the Smoky Hill, scattered. Hancock burned the Indian village on Pawnee Fork and then marched to Fort Dodge. After remaining at Dodge several days his troops headed for Fort Hays. Then he returned to Fort Harker, and on May 7 left that place for Leaven


worth. Custer with his Seventh cavalry remained in the field in pursuit of Pawnee Killer and his band of hostile Sioux. "Hancock's War" thus came to a sudden end following an auspicious beginning. [23]

Custer's pursuit of Pawnee Killer extended northward into Nebraska. The hostiles refused all overtures of peace and several times turned on Custer and became the pursuer instead of the pursued. After campaigning throughout the greater part of the summer the expedition returned to Fort Wallace in July, having failed to gain a decisive victory. Lieutenant Kidder and a party of ten men, sent from Fort Sedgwick, Nebraska, with dispatches for Custer, were annihilated by Indians. [24]

Hancock's campaign was unfortunate in its results, since it accomplished little except to incite the Indians to commit further depredations. Indian outbreaks in Kansas had been negligible prior to the expedition up Pawnee Fork. It is possible, therefore, that the war in 1867 was thus precipitated by General Hancock himself. With both the Pacific railroads stretching out through the Indian country, the situation was extremely delicate when the year opened. [25]

Indian depredations in Kansas were centered on the Smoky Hill route and the settlements in the Solomon and Republican valleys. By the middle of July the Union Pacific, eastern division, had reached Fort Harker and the town of Ellsworth. On September 18 the track extended to the 275-mile post at a point within ten miles of Fort Hays. [26]

As early as April 22 Indians were reported swarming along the Smoky Hill route. [27] It was estimated by stage passengers that they numbered from two to three thousand. Possibly a great many of these were the Cheyennes and Sioux whom Hancock had routed a few days previously on Pawnee Fork. The greatest danger point along the route was the stretch between Ellsworth and Fort Wallace. During most of the summer engineering and road-building crews were advancing through this region. On May 23 R. M. Shoemaker, general superintendent of the Union Pacific, eastern division, telegraphed Governor Crawford announcing an Indian attack on workers near Monument station. [28] In June Shoemaker's telegrams per


sistently called upon Crawford for aid. Beginning with a raid west of Fort Harker on June 14, the depredations increased in number and intensity. Shoemaker wired Crawford on June 21 asking for militia. This was followed three days later by an urgent message in which he informed the governor that two workers had been killed and all workmen driven off the line for a distance of twenty miles. Five hundred stands of the best arms and plenty of ammunition were requested. The telegram closed with this statement: "Unless you send us protection our work must be abandoned." [29] On June 24 John D. Perry, president of the Union Pacific, eastern division, appealed to Crawford for immediate aid, stating that in the absence of General Hancock he knew no other one to whom he could turn. Perry explained that Indian depredations extended along the whole line of road, that one thousand laborers on seventy-five miles of line had been driven in, and that his men were practically unarmed. [30] Shoemaker frantically wired Crawford on June 28 announcing more depredations west of Fort Harker and closed with a sweeping declaration that unless the road were promptly protected all the workers would be- driven off and all the citizens would be forced to leave the region. [31]

Upon the receipt of Shoemaker's wire of June 21 Governor Crawford acted. His first efforts were directed toward getting arms and ammunition for the railroad workers. On June 22 he appealed to the War Department for two thousand stands of cavalry arms and ammunition. [32] Two days later he again wired Secretary Stanton asking him immediately to direct the commanding officer at Fort Leavenworth to turn the arms and ammunition over to the state. [33] Before sending this message to Stanton the Kansas executive had attempted to get ten thousand rounds of ammunition from Fort Leavenworth. [34] Whether or not the arsenal had refused the request until otherwise instructed by Stanton is not clear. The fact remains that on the same day, by special order No. 136, General Hancock directed the commander of the Leavenworth arsenal to issue ten thousand round of 58-caliber cartridges to the state of Kansas. [35] Many of the guns needed were in possession of the militia; consequently Crawford instructed Capt. John G. Haskell, at Lawrence,


to call in all the state and Federal arms and ammunition in Lawrence and have one thousand stands packed for immediate shipment. [36] On June 28 the governor wired Capt. J. C. French, at Fort Leavenworth, to ship what arms and ammunition he had as soon as possible. [37] Shoemaker's men were thus provided with plenty of munitions within a few days after the sending of their appeal for protection.

Simultaneously with his campaign to provide arms for the railroad workers, Governor Crawford endeavored to gain permission to organize a regiment of volunteer cavalry for service on the frontier. In his telegram to Stanton on June 24 Crawford volunteered to raise such an organization. To give additional weight to his request the governor inclosed President Perry's dispatch and added his own observation that the railroad west of Fort Harker and all Kansas frontier settlements would have to be abandoned unless prompt and decisive measures were taken. Stanton replied on June 27, referring him to General Grant, commander in chief of the army. [38] Grant naturally turned the matter over to Sherman, who was commanding the military division of the Missouri.

Sherman wired Crawford on June 26, accepting the battalion of mounted volunteers provided that Gen. A. J. Smith, at Fort Harker, deemed them to be necessary. Sherman stipulated that the battalion should consist of six or eight companies to be used for four months. [39] General Smith signified his consent the next day in a telegram to Crawford; however, on June 28 he informed the governor that Sherman had countermanded the order. [40] Shoemaker's message of the twenty-eighth also reported Sherman's change of mind. Crawford accordingly telegraphed Sherman and earnestly requested a reversal of his orders. In his plea the governor said that it was impossible to move against the Indians with militia. [41] As a result of this action General Sherman again reversed his decision and on July 1 gave Crawford permission to raise the volunteer battalion. [42] At once Governor Crawford issued a proclamation calling upon the people of Kansas for volunteers. Thus the Eighteenth Kansas cavalry came into existence.


Why did General Sherman first consent to the raising of the volunteer cavalry and then countermand the order? Apparently a conflict was going on in Sherman's mind between his personal views of the situation and his desire to cooperate with Crawford and the railroad officials. Sherman had little sympathy with the Indian, whom he considered the enemy of civilization. [43] At the same time he favored government protection for the transcontinental roads. [44] Why, then, should he object to a proposition whereby the Union Pacific, eastern division, should get immediate protection? The answer is that he was heartily opposed to the raising of volunteer troops by any state for the defense of its local interests because all other states and territories that had contact with the Indians would instantly start a clamor to do likewise. [45] It was his personal belief that each of the western states and territories wanted the entire United States army for its own protection. [46] Sherman had stated his views quite plainly in a long telegram to Crawford on June 24. The general tone of his message was a bit of advice to Crawford to act cautiously. The complete text of the telegram is given below:

"Your dispatch of to-day is this moment received. I had already committed myself to be in St. Louis to-morrow from Omaha. I mailed you a circular defining as clearly as I can express how far you can help us to maintain peace on the border. This circular you ought to receive to-day. Until congress gives to the military power the right to say what Indians are at peace and what at was, this conflict of races must go on. In the meantime I must leave to General Hancock to do his best. He is to-day at Denver, will start back on the Smoky Hill on the 27th and should reach Fort Harker and the telegraph in ten days. The Indians thus far seem to confine their attacks to isolated trains and to the roads and are in small bands strung from... Minnesota to... Texas. Yet almost every Indian agent says his particular Indians are at home and at peace. If you choose to organize a battalion of volunteers, say six or eight companies, and offer them to General Hancock on his arrival at Fort Harker, if he wants them I will approve, but my notion is he has troops enough. If we can only see where the Indians will turn up, which seems impossible, I prefer you deal with General Hancock as he is on the spot all the time." [47]


Having yielded to the insistence of Crawford and the railroad people, however, Sherman came to Kansas immediately in order to be near the scene of action.

When General Sherman reached Fort Harker in July to investigate the Indian situation, railroad construction was advancing at an unusually slow rate up the Smoky Hill valley, while transportation from "End of Track" to Denver on the Smoky Hill Stage line was virtually suspended. Only two stages had passed through to Denver during the month of June, and none had made the attempt in July up to the time of his arrival at the fort. [48] Sherman at once looked into the matter. The result was a startling discovery which, if known sooner, likely would have forced him to withhold permanently his consent to the organization of the Eighteenth Kansas cavalry. Sherman, upon investigation, was convinced that Indian depredations were not the real reason for the suspension either of railroad building or of travel on the Smoky Hill stage line. He contended instead that the railroad was delayed by excessive rainfall, while the stage line did not operate due to selfishness and cowardice on the part of the stage company officials. [49] The general was also led to suspect that Kansas newspapers and citizens were exaggerating Indian rumors. His natural conclusion, accordingly, was that neither Kansas nor the railroad and stage line needed the protection which they had gained as the result of Governor Crawford's persistent efforts.

Following his investigation of the Smoky Hill stage situation Sherman transmitted a telegram to Crawford in which he condemned the stage company in no uncertain terms for its failure to operate.

"I believe there are other causes than Indians why the Smoky Hill stage has not run. The railroad was delayed by high water and not by Indians and the stages have stopped for want of connection and because it is not profitable. I want both railroad and stage companies to prosper, but cannot excuse them from doing their share of service unless they make efforts equal to the occasion. All our posts and intermediate stations to Denver are safe. Trains of wagons go with light escort and even single carriers run from post to post. General Smith has offered the stage company any amount of guard, but they won't go. Keep this to yourself, only help me quiet down unnecessary alarm, which as you can see often does as much harm as real danger, and of course all parties having close contracts avail themselves of the alarm to avoid services and claim compensation and damage." [50]


Two days later Sherman informed Crawford that the Eighteenth Kansas cavalry was being mustered in at Fort Harker and that a company each of infantry and cavalry had been assigned to guard Shoemaker's construction trains. He then closed with this statement: "Though I assert that Indians have not delayed the progress of this road one hour. The stage company deserves severe treatment for their efforts to avoid their contract, and they may be the means of breaking up the Smoky Hill line altogether." [51]

The stage company referred to by General Sherman was Wells Fargo & Co., who had bought out the Holladay interests in 1866 and had perfected a merger of several mail, express and stage lines in the West. [52]

Sherman's indictment was not the only one hurled at the company. Senator Pomeroy, of Kansas, while attempting to defend Wells Fargo & Co. before the senate, unwittingly let fall information which supported Sherman's contention. Pomeroy and Thayer, of Nebraska, were denying the oft-repeated accusation of eastern papers that the contractors of the West wanted an Indian war. In the course of debate Pomeroy stated that, due to Indian raids, Wells Fargo was losing money daily in the performance of their United States mail contract, and that they would give a million dollars to get out of it. [53] This in itself is an indication that the company was not overly eager to continue operations on the Smoky Hill route during June and July.

From still another source Sherman's criticism is substantiated. Postmaster General Alex W. Randall, in his report for 1867, mentioned a similar denouncement of Wells Fargo & Co. as follows:

"During the spring and summer months the complaints as to the manner in which the service was being performed, and the great delay in the arrival of mail from the east at Denver.. , were more numerous than at any time since the present route hay been in operation. It was charged that the Indian troubles, complained of by the contractor and given by his agents as an excuse for nonperformance of service, were a pretense, and that this was no reason why the mails should not be conveyed regularly and within schedule time." [54] The postmaster general concluded, on the other hand, that the contractor (Wells Fargo & Co.) was not to blame for the delay in service. The Indian situation on the plains, he decided, was really serious. As proof for this final conclusion, he cited official reports to


the War Department by General Sherman and other army officers. [55] It is evident that the postmaster general knew nothing of Sherman's revelations to Crawford concerning the refusal of the stage company to resume service even under heavy escort.

Western transportation companies undoubtedly did take advantage of the United States government during this period. By the nature of their contracts they could collect their money whether or not they maintained an unbroken schedule. Regardless of the motive of the stage company, whether it was to make money with a minimum amount of effort, as implied by Sherman, or to keep from losing money, as may be inferred from Pomeroy's statement, the fact remains that service was suspended intentionally for several weeks on the Smoky Hill line.

There is, of course, some evidence to justify the stage company for discontinuing its service. A special correspondent of the Leavenworth Conservative, located at Fort Wallace with a railroad engineering expedition, declared that the route was closed because the troops for its protection had been sent to guard the Platte line. The writer was highly indignant because the interests of the Smoky Hill line were sacrificed for those of the Platte. This correspondent, in two separate articles, maintained that the stage stations were being attacked daily and that during the month of June $100,000 worth of property was destroyed and many lives were lost. An account of an Indian raid at Pond Creek station was also given. Even Fort Wallace was attacked on June 21 by about 300 Indians, according to the writer. The article of July 2 stated that the fort was still besieged. [56] Practically the same assertions were made by Gen. W. W. Wright, chief engineer of the Union Pacific, eastern division, in a report to Pres. John D. Perry on June 29. Wright was commander of the engineering expedition at Fort Wallace. [57]

The truth of the whole matter probably is that during the Indian raids of the latter part of June the stage company officials had reasons for abandoning service; nevertheless in the early part of July, when traffic should have been resumed, they failed to perform their duty.

Another problem with which General Sherman had to contend was that of false reports and rumors of Indian uprising. His personal attitude toward this question was well expressed in his telegram to Governor Crawford on July 8, in which he requested that Crawford


help him to quiet unnecessary alarm. In a letter to his brother, Senator Sherman, the general denounced the publication of rumors. "Not only real depredations are committed" (by the Indians), he asserted, "but every fear, or apprehension, on whatever it may be founded, is published, and protection claimed and demanded." Sherman furthermore emphasized the fact that the clamor of the western people for protection really weakened the military power in the region since it necessitated breaking up his forces into small groups. This, he declared, prevented the collection of any large army to carry an offensive into the Indians' own country, the Yellowstone and Red river localities. [58]

Sherman's belief that Indian rumors were harmful was upheld by the Fort Harker correspondent to the Leavenworth Conservative. In an article to his paper on July 8, 1867, the writer complained about the false propaganda which was being circulated by a rival paper, the Leavenworth Commercial. The writer for the Conservative denied that there was any truth to the recent stories of Indian raids near Ellsworth. He added that between Harker and Hays all was quiet. Beyond that point he had no information, since, for some reason unknown to the people of his vicinity, the stage had not come through from the west for some time. [59]

After General Sherman had returned to St. Louis the Republican of that city printed an article from Fort Harker which reported the massacre near Fort Larned of a party of Catholic priests and nuns. Sherman at once published a reply denying the truth of the incident and rebuking newspaper journalists for publishing unfounded rumors. [60] Later it was proved that the article was false. The story of the massacre had been published by a Leavenworth rival of the Conservative. The editor of the Conservative, although stating that he had not printed the report, denied that the newspapers of Kansas were publishing exaggerated stories. At the same time he warned his readers to beware of Indian news printed in any rival Leavenworth papers. [61]

Additional proof that one of the Leavenworth papers was guilty of "yellow journalism" comes from an entirely different source. A prominent official of the Union Pacific, eastern division, writing from Leavenworth, Kan., in September, 1867, reported that the


town was a great place for the manufacture of news. He also mentioned that a reporter for a Leavenworth publication was filling his paper with startling accounts of Indian raids and horrible murders which were being copied by "all the eastern papers as the true state of affairs in the West." [62]

While the Sherman investigation and newspaper controversy were taking place the Eighteenth Kansas cavalry was organized, mustered into service and baptized with fire. When Governor Crawford issued his call for volunteers on July 1 it was his intention to raise eight companies of cavalry for six months' service. As a matter of fact only four companies were raised and the regiment was required to serve only four months. The reason for this change of plans will soon be apparent.

Recruiting officers found that they could get sufficient men but very few horses. Crawford on July 3 asked Sherman if the government would furnish horses for part of the men. Sherman refused, stating that if eight mounted companies could not be furnished a less number would be sufficient. [63] Telegrams and letters literally poured into the executive offices in Topeka during the next few days. The majority of these were in regard to getting horses. Accordingly, Crawford on July 10 again telegraphed Sherman, inquiring if he would take part of the men unmounted. Sherman again rejected the suggestion, remarking that if the men could not be mounted they were not wanted. [64] This attitude of Sherman was quite disconcerting to certain Kansans who were striving mightily to organize a full eight-company regiment. On July 5 Governor Crawford received the following telegram from A. Green, of Manhattan: "I can get horses if adjutant general will issue certificate of indebtedness. Pottawatomie is best place. I came up with General Sherman. He would not grieve if you fail. Come up to-morrow." [65]

According to the terms of enlistment, each volunteer was supposed to furnish his own horse. He was then to be armed, equipped and paid by the United States as were other regular troops. In case a volunteer had no horse and was unable to purchase one the state guaranteed to stand security for the payment.66 In order to pay all creditors for horses purchased without waiting for a delayed legislative appropriation, the recruits gave their personal notes at the


time of purchase. The recruiting officer was then instructed to draw the cash pay of each soldier so indebted and transmit it to the creditor until the note was paid in full. [67] The governor assured all questioners that each soldier who furnished a horse would be reimbursed later by legislative appropriation. With the horse problem once solved the routine of organization went on steadily. By July 15 the Eighteenth Kansas was mustered into United States service at Fort Harker. The battalion was made up of four companies with a total enrollment of 358 officers and enlisted men. [63] That there was a real need for the regiment was revealed by General Sherman in his annual report for the year. The report explained that the Eighteenth was called into service to replace six companies of Seventh cavalry that had been transferred to the Platte in the summer. [69] Under the able leadership of Maj. Horace L. Moore, of Lawrence, the Eighteenth Kansas performed creditably and was of real service to the state and nation. In addition to fighting the Indians the men faced a far deadlier enemy, cholera, which took a heavy toll of recruits at Fort Harker. On July 24 the regiment was at Fort Larned. Shortly afterwards it was moved to Fort Dodge and finally to Fort Hays on August 15. While stationed at Fort Hays the Eighteenth performed its most active service. On August 22 part of the regiment participated in the battle of Beaver creek. Following an Indian raid on the Smoky Hill stage line at Big Creek station, Maj. George A. Armes organized an expedition of the Tenth United States and Eighteenth Kansas cavalry and pursued the hostiles north into the Republican valley. While out on a scout for the expedition Captain Jenness, of the Eighteenth Kansas, and a small body of troops were attacked by about 500 Indians. They withstood the onslaught until rescued. The Indians then attacked the entire force. The battle raged for six hours before darkness caused the fighting to cease. Satanta, the Kiowa chief, was reported to have led the Indians. [70] The soldiers' losses were three killed and thirty-five wounded. [71] Meanwhile Major Moore and the remainder of the Eighteenth were campaigning in the same general region. Although neither Indians nor


soldiers could claim decisive victories, the campaign had the effect of breaking up the Indian concentration along the Smoky Hill and the Republican. The northern Indians retreated to the north, while the Comanches, Kiowas, southern Cheyennes and Arapahoes headed South, where they met the Peace Commission at Medicine Lodge in October. [72] The Eighteenth continued to serve until October 29, when it was ordered to Fort Harker to be mustered out. On November 15 the final muster took place. [73] It was deemed unnecessary to keep the soldiers in service for six months since there was no need for them during the winter. About ten per cent of the regiment lost their lives during their four months of service.

Throughout the months of July and August reports of Indian depredations had continued to come in. A perfect reign of terror took place in Colorado Territory during the early part of July. Settlers left the country, and there was talk of discontinuing overland travel. [74] One of Custer's scouts, in relating the story of the Kidder massacre and an attack by Indians on Custer's supply train, closed the interview with these words: "If any man thinks there is no war with, or danger from, the Indians, let him make a trip from Wallace to Harker and then he will realize it." [75]

[Service] was finally resumed on the Smoky Hill route, the first westbound mail coach reaching Denver July 27, after a ten-day trip from Fort Harker. Indians were numerous between Harker and Monument station, and according to reports were virtually in possession of one hundred miles of the road. [76] Santa Fe coaches, on the other hand, were coming through to Fort. Harker unmolested, though many Indians were seen along the route. [77]

Osages dwelling in the southeast section of the state caught the fever of the Indian war on the plains and performed some minor depredations. Governor Crawford paid them a visit in August and called them to account for thieving of horses and other stock from settlers. The Osages promptly returned the property and thereafter remained "good Indians." [78] The governor discovered that Indian traders were daily supplying the Osages as well as the wild plains tribes with arms and ammunition. [79]


The Indian Peace Commission, which had been appointed in July by act of congress, held a meeting in St. Louis on August 8. As a result General Sherman ordered all department commanders in the division of the Missouri to assume defensive tactics only, thus giving the Indians a chance to receive messages sent out from the Peace Commission and to act on them. [80]

In view of this change of tactics upon the part of the military authorities, matters became somewhat complicated when the Indians again attacked the Smoky Hill route in September. Shoemaker wired Crawford on September 21 informing him that one of the principal contractors and three men had been killed by Indians on September 19. Since Gen. A. J. Smith, at Fort Harker, could give no additional protection the general superintendent asked the governor for an infantry regiment at once to guard the working parties. [81] Crawford replied immediately. "Your dispatch received. Will tender regiment to General Sherman. If he will not accept on behalf of government, I will endeavor to make other arrangements." [82] Governor Crawford then made a speedy trip to Fort Hays to investigate matters and upon his return sent two telegrams to Sherman describing the situation and offering to immediately organize a regiment of volunteers. [83]

Sherman's reply threw cold water on the proposition. The complete telegram follows:

ST. Louis, September 24, 1867.
"Governor Crawford: With the present convictions of the Indian Com- mission to be at Fort Harker the eighth I would not be willing to accept more volunteers. Mr. Shoemaker ought not to push his parties too far out till we meet the Cheyennes.

W. T. SHERMAN, Lieut. General:" [84]

Sherman thus remained consistent with his previous position. Crawford, plainly, was out of sympathy with the Peace Commission and considered defense of the railroad paramount. The crux of the matter was whether or not the road actually needed more protection than it was already getting. Considerable light was shed on the question by Mr. Marshall, who was on the scene at Fort Harker as a representative of the railroad's eastern financial interests. Writing from Junction City on September 18, Marshall explained that


he had just gone up to the end of the track with the railroad commissioners, that a military escort had accompanied the train and that they were not molested. Further on he stated:

"The Indians west of us have been making some trouble lately, but I do not apprehend any trouble with our trains. There have been several attacks made on wagon trains and some stock stolen, and a few men killed, but those things you must expect when you pass over other people's grounds." [85]

The Peace Commission, following its meeting in St. Louis, headed northwest up the Missouri river in order to treat with the Sioux and northern Cheyennes before meeting the tribes in Kansas. Sherman invited Crawford to meet the commission at Fort Leavenworth on August 11. [86] Crawford accepted and presented his views to the commissioners. A Leavenworth daily, reporting the governor's presence in town, had this to say: "The governor will confer with the peace powwow-ists, but is not known to sympathize with their policy. He is for exhorting peace, we guess." [87] In September Crawford further vented his opinion of the commission. "I am waiting patiently," he wrote, "the result of the efforts of this Peace Commission. If they fail to do their duty the state of Kansas will not fail." [88] Sherman, also, was not optimistic about the possibility of peace, although he expressed some hopes. Writing to his brother on September 28, he predicted that. the Indian wars were not over, since it would take years for the Peace Commission to fulfill the requirement of the law passed by congress. [89]

In October the Peace Commission arrived in Kansas. Its personnel had been carefully chosen from both military men and civilians. Generals Terry, Harney, Sanborn, and Auger represented the army, while Commissioner Taylor upheld the interests of the Indian Bureau. Senator Henderson, of Missouri, represented congress and Col. Samuel F. Tappan stood for the nation at large. For a month prior to the meeting the Indian Bureau had been assembling a vast amount of material near Medicine Lodge to give the Indians as presents. These stores included coffee, sugar, flour, dried fruits, arms and ammunition and a herd of cattle. [90]

Once the Indians were assembled, the powwow began. Estimates of the number of Indians present vary from five thousand to fifteen


thousand. [91] The tribes represented were the Cheyenne, Arapahoe, Comanche, Kiowa, and Kiowa-Apache. Tall Bull, a prominent. Cheyenne war chief, ably stated the Indians' case when he told the commissioners that the red men were on the warpath to prevent Kansas and Colorado being settled by palefaces. He said that the Indians claimed that part of the country as their own, and did not want railroads built. through it to scare away the buffalo. At one time during the early stages of the conference it seemed that negotiations would stop and a general massacre ensue. Since there were less than five hundred soldiers present, the commissioners exhibited some uneasiness. Nevertheless, the Indians were kept in awe by a show of artillery, so the powwow continued. [92]

Two treaties were drawn up and signed. On October 21 the commissioners reached their final agreement with the Comanche, Kiowa and Apache tribes. The Cheyennes held off until a week later, when they and their Arapahoe allies came to terms. The two treaties were nearly identical. According to the final arrangement the Indians agreed to

(1) Withdraw all opposition to the construction of the Pacific railroads.
(2) Relinquish their claims lying between the Platte and Arkansas.
(3) Withdraw to reservations set apart for them.

In return the Indians received the following concessions:
(1) A large reservation and an enormous amount of supplies. (The Comanches, Kiowas and Apaches were assigned to a. reserve north of the Red river. The Cheyennes and Arapahoes were allotted about three million acres in the Cherokee outlet in Indian territory.)
(2) The right to hunt south of the Arkansas river so long as the buffalo ranged there in such numbers as to justify the chase. No white settlements were to be allowed between the Arkansas river and the southern boundary of Kansas for a period of three years. [93]

Contrary to a general impression which has grown up in the United States, the Medicine Lodge treaty did not bring peace to the frontier. After loading the Indians with guns and ammunition the Peace Commission promised to provide more for them the next spring. This mistaken policy on the part of the commissioners practically undid everything that had been accomplished by the treaty. It remained for the military authorities to bring about peace


by conquest in 1868. [94] Even from the standpoint of the Indian, the treaty was a failure. "The giving of a few presents and the signing of treaties by a few chiefs would not appease the Indians, whose livelihood, the buffalo, was being destroyed and driven away." [95] The young men of all the tribes bitterly opposed the treaty; hence it could not be expected that the terms of the agreement would be observed.

After the break-up of the great Medicine Lodge encampment the Indians headed south and west, leaving the Kansas frontier in peace during the fall and winter. Sheridan, upon taking command of the Department of the Missouri, reported everything comparatively quiet. [96] At the very close of the year reports reached Topeka of Indian depredations on White Rock creek in Republic county. These proved to be the work of a party of Omahas and Otoes. [97]

The year 1867 was outstanding in the annals of plains warfare. Commencing early in the spring, the war between Indians and whites dragged through a long summer and well into the autumn. While no general massacre of settlers took place, there were over four hundred citizens murdered by the southern tribes in Kansas and Nebraska during 1866 and 1867. Sixteen engagements occurred during the latter year between Indians and United States troops in the Missouri department. So numerous, indeed, were the conflicts on the plains that one writer has credited the summer of 1867 with more actual cavalry fighting than any season in the ten years of plains combat from 1864 to 1874. [98] While this statement may be correct, it is well to add that the conflicts between the military and Indians during the year were not especially bloody. In the entire Department of the Missouri during 1867 nineteen soldiers were killed and fifty wounded, while only ten Indians were sent to the happy hunting grounds. [99]


1. Kansas Daily Tribune, Lawrence, December 12, 1865.
2. "Report of Major General Cloud, K. S. M.," Adjutant General's Report, 1866, p. 3.
3. Crawford, Kansas in the Sixties, pp. 231-232.
4. Major Cloud's Report," p. 4.
5. Crawford to Hancock, August 30, 1806, Correspondence of Kansas Governors, Crawford Copy Book, p. 39. Manuscript, Archives, Kansas Historical Society.
6. Crawford, Kansas an the Sixties, p. 231.
7. Root and Connelley, The Overland Stage, p. 47.
8. Ibid., p. 55.
9. Ibid., p. 310; Junction City Union, March 10, 1866.
10. Root and Connelley, The Overland Stage, p. 100.
11. Governor Crawford's annual message, 1867, Senate Journal, Kansas Legislature, 1807, p. 35.
12. Ibid.
13. Ibid., p. 36.
14. Ibid., p. 37.
15. General Cloud to T. J. Anderson, adjutant general, July 5, 1866, Adjutant General's Correspondence. (Kansas.) Archives, Kansas Historical Society.
16. Cloud's Report, Adjutant General's Report, 1866, p. 5.
17. News item, Junction City Union, August 25, 1866.
18. Governor's Message, Crawford, 1867, pp. 37-38. Liquor traffic was already prohibited by federal law in the Indian country, which included the unorganized counties of Kansas. The law was not being well enforced, however. Crawford felt that enforcement could best be accomplished by state law. He adopted the theory that the state government held jurisdiction over the entire state whether organized into counties or not. In taking this position he differed sharply with the interpretation of the commander at Fort Harker, who held that the federal government had sole jurisdiction over the region.
19. House Journal, Kansas Legislature, 1867, p. 929.
20. Letter to John Sherman, October 20, 1866 The Sherman Letters (Correspondence between Gen. w. T. Sherman and Senator John Sherman, 1837-1891. Edited by Raphael Sherman Thorndike. New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1894), p. 277. Hereafter cited as The Sherman Letters.
21. Crawford, Kansas in the Sixties, p. 251.
22. William E. Connelley, "The Treaty Held at Medicine Lodge," Kansas Historical Collections, v. XVII, pp. 601-606. Hereafter cited as Connelley, "Medicine Lodge Treaty."
23. The narrative of Hancock's War is taken from Mr. Connelley's article.
24. Connelley, "Medicine Lodge Treaty," p. 603.
25. For a criticism of Hancock's judgment see Grinnell, The Fighting Cheyennes, p. 239.
26. Letter from B. Marshall to Col. John B. Anderson, September 18, 1867, the John B. Anderson Papers. Personal correspondence of Col. John B. Anderson, prominent eastern financier, Archives, Kansas Historical Society. Hereafter cited as the John B. Anderson Papers.
27. Dispatch from Denver, April 22, in Junction City Union, April 27, 1867.
28. C. K. G., Crawford (telegrams), pp. 42-43. Archives, Kansas Historical Society.
29. Ibid., p. 43.
30. Ibid., p. 134.
31. Ibid., p. 37.
32. Crawford to Stanton, June 22, 1867, C. K. G., Crawford (Telegrams), p. 133.
33. Crawford to Stanton, June 24, 1867, Ibid., p. 133.
34. Crawford to commanding officer at Fort Leavenworth, June 24, 1867, Ibid., p. 135.
35. Adjutant General McKeever to Governor Crawford, June 24, 1867. Adjutant General's Correspondence, 1867 (Kansas).
36. Crawford to Haskell, June 24, 1867. C. K. G., Crawford (Telegrams), p. 134.
37. Ibid.
38. Crawford, Kansas in the Sixties, p. 256.
39. Sherman to Crawford, June 26, 1867, C. K. G., Crawford (Telegrams), p. 43.
40. General n. J. Smith to Governor Crawford, June 27 and 28, 1887, Ibid., p. 44.
41. Crawford to Sherman, June 28, 1867, Ibid., p. 44.
42. Sherman to Crawford, July I, 1887, Ibid., p.45.
43. Letter from Sherman to Dodge, January 18, 1867, Grenville M. Dodge, Personal Recollections of Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and William T. Sherman (Council Bluffs, Iowa, The Monarch Printing Co., 1914), p. 198. Hereafter cited as Dodge, Personal Recollections. Sherman had referred to the Indian wars as follows: "I want to punish and subdue the Indians, who are the enemies of our race and progress, but even in that it is well sometimes to proceed with due deliberation."
44. Letter to Senator John Sherman, September 28, 1887, The Sherman Letters, p. 298. In reference to Senator Henderson's theory that congress had not intended to furnish governmental protection to transportation companies, Sherman emphatically stated that he, himself, had always acted upon the theory that when congress located a road it amounted to a promise to protect that road.
45. Sherman to Dodge, May 27, 1887, Dodge, Personal Recollections, pp. 200-201.
46. Ibid.
47. Sherman to Crawford, June 24, 1887, C. K. G., Crawford (Telegrams), p. 50.
48. Leavenworth Daily Conservative, July 10, 1867.
49. Sherman's assertion that high waters was the chief cause for the delay in railroad construction is substantiated by the fact that the bridges all along the Union Pacific, eastern division, were built too low, thus inviting destruction of the road bed by floods. Statement of B. Marshall to Col. John B. Anderson, September 18, 1867. The John B. Anderson Papers.
50. C. K. G., Crawford (Telegrams), p. 47.
51. Sherman to Crawford, July 10, 1867, C. K. G., Crawford (Telegrams), p. 48.
52. Leroy R. Hafen, The Overland Mail, 1869-1869 (The Arthur H. Clark Company, Cleveland, 1926), p. 319.
53. Senate Debate 1867, Cong. Globe, 40 Cong., 1 seas., p. 688.
54. House Ex. Doc., No.1, 40 Cong.,2 sess., pp. 4-5.
55. Ibid., p. 5.
56. Printed in the Leavenworth Daily Conservative, July 10, and 11, 1867.
57. Senate Debate, 1867, Cong. Globe, 40 Cong., 1 sess., p.688.
58. Letter to Senator Sherman, July 16, 1867 (written from Fort Harker), The Sherman Letters, p. 290.
59. Leavenworth Daily Conservative, July 10, 1867.
60. Reprint of Sherman's letter of July 19 to the St. Louis Republican, Leavenworth Daily Conservative, July 23, 1867.
61. Ibid.
62. B. Marshall to Col. John B. Anderson, Sept. 18, 1867. The John B. Anderson Papers.
63. C. K. G., Crawford (Telegrams), pp. 136 ; 47.
64. Ibid., p. 48.
65. Ibid., p. 69; (the italics are mine).
66. Crawford's instructions to Colonel Moonlight, of Leavenworth, July 5, C. K. G., Crawford (Telegrams), p. 136.
67. Crawford's instructions to Col. John A. Martin, of Atchison, July 8, Ibid.
68. Wilder, Annals of Kansas, July 15, 1867.
69. Annual Report of the Military Division of the Missouri, October 1, 1867, Report of Secretary of War, 40 Cong., 2 sess., pp. 34-35.
70. "The Battle of Beaver Creek," George B. Jenness, Kansas Historical Collections, v. IX, pp. 443-452.
71. General Hancock's report to Governor Crawford, Aug. 24, C. K. G., Crawford (Telegrams), pp. 38-39.
72. Crawford, Kansas in the Sixties, p. 261.
73. Wilder, Annals of Kansas, p. 468.
74. Letter from news correspondent in Denver, Leavenworth Daily Conservative, July 18, 1867.
75. Reprint from Junction City Union, Leavenworth Daily Conservative, July 25, 1867.
76. Reprint from Denver News of July 27, Leavenworth Daily Conservative, August 4, 1867.
77. Leavenworth Daily Conservative, July 27, 1867.
78. Crawford, Kansas in the Sixties, p. 280.
79. Crawford to Sherman, August 5, 1867, C.K.G., Crawford (Telegrams), p.138.
80. Sherman's Annual Report, Report of the Secretary of War, 40 Cong., 2 sess., p. 37.
81. C. K. G., Crawford (Telegrams), p. 34.
82. Ibid., p. 138.
83. Ibid., p 138 The two telegrams are similar to content, the first having been directed to Sherman at Omaha, while the second was sent the following day to St. Louis. Crawford apparently wanted to e sure that Sherman would get the message immediately.
84. Ibid., p. 40.
85. Letter to Col. John B. Anderson, the John B. Anderson Papers.
86. Telegram to Crawford, August 10, 1867, C. K. G., Crawford (Telegrams), p. 38.
87. Leavenworth Daily Conservative, August 11, 1867.
88. Letter to J. R. Mead, an Indian trader, Sept. 4, 1867, C. K. G., Crawford (Copy Book), p. 57.
89. The Sherman Letters, p. 296.
90. Connelley,"Medicine Lodge Treaty," pp. 603-604.
91. Connelley says 5,000. Crawford estimated the total number of warriors at 3,000. This would mean a total population of approximately 7,500.
92. Crawford, Kansas in the Sixties, p. 277.
93. Terms of the Medicine Lodge Treaty derived from: Sheridan, Personal Memoirs, v. II, p. 284; Crawford, Kansas in the Sixties, p. 278; Charles J. Kappler, Indian Affairs, Laws, and Treaties, v. I, p. 764.
94. Connelley, "Medicine Lodge Treaty," pp. 604-605.
95. Grinnell, The Fighting Cheyennes, p. 266.
96. Sheridan, Personal Memoirs, v. II, p. 282.
97. Letter from Thomas Lovewell to Governor Crawford, December 23, 1867, Adjutant General's Correspondence, 1867 (Kansas).
98. James A. Hadley, "The Death of Lieutenant Kidder," Indian Depredations and Battles, Clippings, v. I. p. 64., Kansas Historical Society.
99. Report of the Secretary of War, 1867, 40 Cong., 2 sess., Ser. No. 1324, pp. 45, 46.