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The tragedy at the Wichita agency brought General Pike again to the fore. His resignation had not been accepted at Richmond as Hindman supposed was the case at the time he released him from custody. In fact, as events turned out, it looked as though Hindman were decidedly more in disrepute there than was Pike. His arbitrary procedure in the Trans-Mississippi District had been complained of by many persons besides the one person whom he had so unmercifully badgered. Furthermore, the circumstances of his assignment to command were being inquired into and everything divulged was telling tremendously against him.


The irregularity of Hindman's assignment to command has been already commented upon in this narrative. Additional details may now be given. Van Dorn had hopes, on the occasion of his own summons to work farther east, that Sterling Price would be the one chosen eventually to succeed him or, at all events, the one to take the chief command of the Confederate forces in the West. He greatly wished that upon him and upon him alone his mantle should fall.[497] The filling of the position by Hindman was to be but tentative, to last only until Price,[498] perhaps also Van Dorn, could discuss matters personally with the president and remove the prejudice believed to be existing in his mind against Price; but the War Department had quite other plans developed, a rumor of which soon reached the ears of Van Dorn. It was then he telegraphed, begging Davis to make no appointment for the present to the command of the Trans-Mississippi District and informing him that Hindman had been sent there temporarily.[499] The request came to Richmond too late. An appointment had already been resolved upon and made. The man chosen was John Bankhead Magruder, a major-general in the Army of Northern Virginia. However, as he was not yet ready to take up his new duties, Hindman was suffered to assume the command in the West; but Magruder's rights held over. They were held in abeyance, so to speak, temporarily waived.[500]

The controversy between Pike and Hindman would seem to have impelled Secretary Randolph to wish to terminate early Magruder's delay; but Magruder was loath to depart. His lack of enthusiasm ought to have been enough to convince those sending him that he was hardly the man for the place. His acquaintance with Trans-Mississippi conditions was very superficial, yet even he found out that they were of a nature to admonish those concerned of their urgency, especially in the matter of lack of arms.[501] By the fourteenth of July his indecision was apparently overcome. At any rate, on that day Randolph wrote Pike that Magruder, the real commander of the Trans-Mississippi District, would soon arrive at Little Rock and that the offences of which Pike had had reason to complain would not be repeated.

Letters travelled slowly in those days and Randolph's comforting intelligence did not reach Pike in time to avert the catastrophe of his proclamation and consequent arrest. And it was just as well, all things considered, for Magruder never reached Little Rock. He was a man of intemperate habits and, while _en route_, was ordered back to Richmond to answer "charges of drunkenness and disobedience of orders."[502] His appointment was thereupon rescinded. The man selected in his place, to the total ignoring of Price's prior claims, was Theophilus H. Holmes, a native of North Carolina.[503] President Davis was still possessed of the notion that frontier affairs could be best conducted by men who had no local attachments there. Late events had all too surely lent weight to his theory. Nevertheless, in holding it, Davis was strictly inconsistent and illogical; for loyalty to the particular home state constituted the strongest asset that the Confederacy had. It was the lode-star that had drawn Lee and many another, who cared not a whit for political principles in and for themselves, from their allegiance to the Union. It was the great bulwark of the South.

Holmes was ordered west July 16;[504] but, as he had the necessary preparations to make and various private matters to attend to, August had almost begun before it proved possible for him to reach Little Rock.[505] The interval had given Hindman a new lease of official life and a further extension of opportunity for oppression, which he had used to good advantage. The new department commander, while yet in Richmond, had discussed the Pike-Hindman controversy with his superior officers and had arrived at a conclusion distinctly favorable to Pike. He frankly confessed as much weeks afterwards. Once in Little Rock, however, he learned from the Hindman coterie of Pike's Indian proclamation and immediately veered to Hindman's side.[506] Pike talked with him, recounted his grievances in a fashion that none could surpass, but made absolutely no impression upon him. So small a thing and so short a time had it taken to develop a hostile prejudice in Holmes's mind, previously unbiased, so deep-seated that it never, in all the months that followed, knew the slightest diminution. Conversely and most fortuitously, a friendliness grew up between Holmes and the man whom he had supplanted that made the former, either forget the orders given him in Richmond or put so new a construction upon them that they were rendered nugatory. It was a situation, exceedingly fortunate for the service as a whole, no doubt, but most unhappy for Indian Territory.

It finally dawned upon Pike that it was useless to argue any longer upon the matters in dispute between him and Hindman, for Holmes had pre-judged the case. Moreover, Holmes was beginning to appreciate the advantage of being in a position where he could, by ignoring Pike's authority and asserting his own, be much the gainer in a material way. How he could have reconciled such an attitude with the instructions he had received from Randolph it is impossible to surmise. The instructions, whether verbal or written, must have been in full accord with the secretary's letter to Pike of the fourteenth of July, which, although Pike was as yet ignorant of it, had explicitly said that no supplies for Indian Territory should be diverted from their course and that there should be no interference whatever with Pike's somewhat peculiar command.[507] All along the authorities in Richmond, their conflicting departmental regulations to the contrary notwithstanding, had insisted that the main object of the Indian alliance had been amply attained when the Indians were found posing as a Home Guard. Indians were not wanted for any service outside the limits of their own country. Service outside was to be deprecated, first, last, and always. Indeed, it was in response to a suggestion from Pike, made in the autumn of 1861, that the Indian Territory ought to be regarded as a thing apart, to be held for the Confederacy most certainly but not to be involved in the warfare outside, that Pike's department had been created and no subsequent arrangements for the Trans-Mississippi Department or District, whichever it may have been at the period, were intended to militate against that fundamental fact.[508]

Despairing of accomplishing anything by lingering longer in Little Rock, Pike applied to Holmes for a leave of absence and was granted it for such time as might have to elapse before action upon his resignation could be secured.[509] The circumstance of Hindman's having relieved Pike from duty was thus ignored or passed over in silence. General Pike had come to Little Rock to see his family[510] but he now decided upon a visit to Texas. Exactly what he expected to do there nobody knows; but he undoubtedly had at heart the interests of his department. He went to Warren first and later to Grayson County. At the latter place, he made Sherman his private headquarters and it was from there that he subsequently found it convenient to pass over again into Indian Territory.

Pike was in Arkansas as late as the nineteenth of August and probably still there when Randolph's letter of the fourteenth of July, much delayed, arrived.[511] If angry before, he was now incensed; for he knew for a certainty at last that Hindman had been a sort of usurper in the Trans-Mississippi District and, with power emanating from no one higher than Beauregard, had never legally possessed a flicker of authority for doing the many insulting things that he had arrogantly done to him.[512] Next, from some source, came the news that President Davis had refused positively to accept Pike's resignation.[513] What better proof could anyone want that Pike was sustained at headquarters? What that view of the matter may have meant in emboldening him to his later excessively independent actions must be left to the reader's conjecture. It never occurred to Pike that if his resignation had been refused, it had probably been refused upon the supposition that, with Hindman out of the way, all would be well. One good reason for thinking that that was the Richmond attitude towards the affair is the fact that no record of anything like immediate and formal action upon the resignation is forthcoming. Pike heard that it had been refused and positively, which was very gratifying; but it is far more likely that it had been put to one side and purposely; in order that, since Pike was unquestionably the best man for Indian Territory, all difficulties might be left to adjust themselves, the less said about Hindman's autocracy the better it would be for all concerned.

But it was soon apparent that Hindman was not to be put out of the way. It was to be still possible for him to work mischief in Indian Territory. With some slight modifications, the Trans-Mississippi District had been converted into the Trans-Mississippi Department and, on the twentieth of August, orders[514] issued from Little Rock, arranging for an organization into three districts, the Texas, the Louisiana,[515] and the Arkansas. The last-named district was entrusted to General Hindman and made to embrace Arkansas, Missouri, and the Indian Territory. Hindman took charge at Fort Smith, August twenty-fourth and straightway planned such disposition of his troops as would make for advancing the Confederate line northward of the Boston Mountains, Fort Smith, and the Arkansas River. The Indian forces that were concentrated around Forts Smith and Gibson were shifted to Carey's Ferry that they might cover the military road southward from Fort Scott. To hold the Cherokee country and to help maintain order there, a battalion of white cavalry was posted at Tahlequah and, in each of the nine townships, or districts, of the country, the formation of a company of home guard, authorized.[516]

The maintaining of order in the Cherokee Nation had come to be imperatively necessary. John Ross, the Principal Chief, was now a prisoner within the Federal lines.[517] His capture had been accomplished by strategy only a short time before and not without strong suspicion that he had been in collusion with his captors. Early in August, General Blunt, determined that the country north of the Arkansas should not be abandoned, notwithstanding the retrograde movement of Colonel Salomon, had ordered Salomon, now a brigadier in command of the Indian Expedition, to send back certain white troops in support of the Indian.[518] Dr. Gillpatrick, who was the bearer of the orders, imparted verbal instructions that the expeditionary force so sent should proceed to Tahlequah and complete what Colonel Phillips had confessed he had not had sufficient time for, the making of diplomatic overtures to the Cherokee authorities.[519]

Blunt's expeditionary force had proceeded to Tahlequah and to Park Hill and there, under the direction of Colonel William F. Cloud, had seized John Ross and his family, their valuables, also official papers and the treasury of the Cherokee Nation.[520] The departure of the Principal Chief had had a demoralizing effect upon the Cherokees; for, when his restraining influence was removed, likewise the Federal support, political factions, the Pins, or full-bloods, and the Secessionists, mostly half-breeds, had been able to indulge their thirst for vengeance uninterruptedly.[521] Chaos had well-nigh resulted.

The departure of the expeditionary force had meant more than mere demoralization among the Indians. It had meant the abandonment of their country to the Confederates and the Confederates, once realizing that, delaying nothing, took possession. The secessionist Cherokees then called a convention, formally deposed John Ross, and elected Stand Watie as Principal Chief in his stead.[522] Back of all such revolutionary work, was General Hindman and it was not long before Hindman himself was in Tahlequah.[523] Once there, he proceeded to set his stamp upon things with customary vigor and order was shortly restored both north and south of the Arkansas. Guerrilla warfare was summarily suppressed, marauding stopped, and the perpetrators of atrocities so deservedly punished that all who would have imitated them lost their taste for such fiendish sport. As far north as the Moravian Mission, the Confederates were undeniably in possession; but, at that juncture, Holmes called Hindman to other scenes. A sort of apathy then settled like a cloud upon the Cherokee Nation[524]. Almost lifeless, it awaited the next invader.

One part of the programme, arranged for at the time of the re-districting of the Trans-Mississippi Department, had called for a scheme to reënter southwest Missouri. Hindman was to lead but Rains, Shelby, Cooper, and others were to constitute a sort of outpost and were to make a dash, first of all, to recover the lead mines at Granby. The Indians of both armies were drawn thitherward, the one group to help make the advance, the other to resist it. At Newtonia on September 30 the first collision of any moment came and it came and it ended with victory for the Confederates[525]. Cooper's Choctaws and Chickasaws fought valiantly but so also did Phillips's Cherokees. They lost heavily in horses[526], their own poorly shod ponies; but they themselves stood fire well. To rally them after defeat proved, however, a difficult matter. Their disciplining had yet left much to be desired.[527] Scalping[528] of the dead took place as on the battle-field of Pea Ridge; but, in other respects, the Indians of both armies acquitted themselves well and far better than might have been expected.

The participation of the Indians in the Battle of Newtonia was significant. Federals and Confederates had alike resorted to it for purposes other than the red man's own. The Indian Expedition had now for a surety definitely abandoned the intention for which it was originally organized and outfitted. As a matter of fact, it had long since ceased to exist. The military organization, of which the Indian regiments in the Federal service now formed a part, was Blunt's division of the Army of the Frontier and it had other objects in view, other tasks to perform, than the simple recovery of Indian Territory.

It is true General Blunt had set his heart upon that particular accomplishment but he was scarcely a free agent in the matter. Men above him in rank had quite other aims and his, perforce, had to be subordinated to theirs. In August, Blunt had planned a kind of second Indian Expedition to go south to Fort Gibson and to restore the refugees to their homes.[529] It had started upon its way when the powers higher up interposed.

General Schofield, anticipating the renewed endeavor of the Confederates to push their line forward, had called upon Blunt for assistance and Blunt had responded with such alacrity as was possible, considering that many of the troops he summoned for Schofield's use were those that had been doing hard service within and on the border of the Indian country for full two months. During all that time their horses had been deprived entirely of grain feed and had been compelled to subsist upon prairie grass. They were in a bad way.[530] Once outside the Indian Territory, the Indian regiments, begrudging the service demanded of them, were kept more fully occupied than were the white; for there was always scouting[531] for them to do and frequently skirmishing. On Cowskin River, Phillips's Third Indian and, near Shirley's Ford on Spring River, Ritchie's Second had each engaged the Confederates with success, although not entirely with credit. Ritchie had allowed his men to run amuck even to the extent of attacking their comrades in Colonel Weer's brigade, which was the second in Blunt's reorganized army. On account of his lack of control over his troops, Ritchie was reported upon for dismissal from the service.[532]

The Battle of Newtonia was inconclusive. Subsequent to it, the Federals were greatly reënforced and, in the first days of October, Schofield and Blunt, who had both arrived recently upon the scene, coming to the aid of Salomon, who had been the vanquished one at Newtonia, were able, in combination with Totten, to deprive Cooper of all the substantial fruits of victory. He was obliged to fall back into Arkansas, whither a part of Blunt's division pursued him and encamped themselves on the old battle-field of Pea Ridge.[533]

Cooper was far from being defeated, however, and, under orders from Rains, soon made plans for attempting an invasion of Kansas; but Blunt, ably seconded by Crawford of the Second Kansas, was too quick for him. He followed him to Maysville and then a little beyond the Cherokee border to old Fort Wayne in the present Delaware District of the Nation. There, on the open prairie, a battle was fought,[534] on October 22, so disastrous to the Confederates, who, by the by, were greatly outnumbered, that they fled, a demoralized host, by way of Fort Gibson across the Arkansas River to Cantonment Davis,[535] Stand Watie and his doughty Cherokees covering their retreat. The Federals had then once again an undisputed possession of Indian Territory north of the Arkansas.[536]

Such was the condition of affairs when Pike emerged from his self-imposed retreat in Texas. The case for the Confederate cause among the Indians was becoming desperate. So many things that called for apprehension were occurring. Cooper and Rains were both in disgrace, the failure of the recent campaign having been attributed largely to their physical unfitness for duty. Both were now facing an investigation of charges for drunkenness. Moreover, the brutal attack upon and consequent murder of Agent Leeper had just shocked the community. Hearing of that murder and considering that he was still the most responsible party in Indian Territory, General Pike made preparations to proceed forthwith to the Leased District. His plans were frustrated by his own arrest at the command of General Holmes.

His unfriendliness to Pike was in part due to Holmes's own necessities. It was to his interest to assert authority over the man who could procure supplies for Indian Territory and when occasion offered, if that man should dare to prove obdurate, to ignore his position altogether. Nevertheless, Holmes had not seen fit in early October to deny Pike his title of commander and had personally addressed him by it.[537] Yet all the time he was encroaching upon that commander's prerogatives, was withholding his supplies, just as Hindman had done, and was exploiting Indian Territory, in various ways, for his own purposes. Rumors came that Pike was holding back munition trains in Texas and then that he was conspiring with Texan Unionists against the Confederacy. To further his own designs, Holmes chose to credit the rumors and made them subserve the one and the same end; for he needed Pike's ammunition and he wanted Pike himself out of the way. He affected to believe that Pike was a traitor and, when he reappeared as brigade commander, to consider that he had unlawfully reassumed his old functions. Accordingly, he issued an order to Roane,[538] to whom he had entrusted the Indians, for Pike's arrest; but he had already called Pike to account for holding back the munition trains and had ordered him, if the charge were really true, to report in person at Little Rock.[539]

The order for General Pike's arrest bore date of November 3. Roane, the man to whom the ungracious task was assigned, was well suited to it. He had been adjudged by Holmes himself as absolutely worthless as a commander and, being so, had been sent to take care of the Indians,[540] a severe commentary upon Holmes's own fitness for the supreme control of anything that had to do with them or their concerns. Others had an equally poor opinion of Roane's generalship and character. John S. Phelps, indeed, was writing at this very time, the autumn of 1862, to Secretary Stanton in testimony of Roane's unsavory reputation.[541]

The arrest of Pike took place November 14 at Tishomingo in the Chickasaw country and a detachment of Shelby's brigade was detailed to convey him to Little Rock.[542] Then, as once before, his reported resignation saved him from long confinement and from extreme ignominy. On the fifth of November, President Davis instructed the adjutant-general to accept Pike's resignation forthwith and five days thereafter,[543] before the arrest had actually taken place, Holmes advised Hindman that he had better let Pike go free so soon as he should leave the Indian country; inasmuch as his resignation was now an assured thing.[544] Holmes evidently feared to let the release take place within the limits of Pike's old command; for some of the Indians were still devotedly attached to him and were still pinning their faith upon his plighted word. John Jumper and his Seminole braves were among those most loyal to Pike; and Holmes was afraid that wholesale desertions from their ranks would follow inevitably Pike's degradation. Many desertions had already occurred, ostensibly because of lack of food and raiment. Commissioner Scott had complained to Holmes of the Indian privations[545] and Holmes had been forced to concede, although only at the eleventh hour, the Indian claim to some consideration. He had arbitrarily shared tribal quota of supplies, bought with tribal money, with white troops and had lamely excused himself by saying that he had done it to prevent grumbling[546] and the charge of favoritism. One other offence of which Holmes was guilty he did not attempt to palliate, the taking of the Indians out of their own country without their consent. To the very last Pike had expostulated[547] against such violation of treaty promises; but Holmes and Hindman were deaf alike to entreaty and to reprimand.

General Pike, poet and student, was now finally deprived of his command and the Indians left to their own devices or at the mercy of men, who could not be trusted or were not greatly needed elsewhere. No one attempted any longer to conceal the truth that alliance with the Indians was a supremely selfish consideration, and nothing more, on the part of those who coveted Indian Territory because of its geographical position, its strategic and economic importance. For a little while longer, Pike contended with his enemies by means of the best weapon he had, his facile pen. His acrimonious correspondence with the chief of those enemies, Hindman and Holmes, reached its highest point of criticism in a letter of December 30 to the latter. That letter summed up his grievances and was practically his last charge. Having made it, he retired from the scene, not to reappear until near the close of the war, when Kirby Smith found it advantageous to reëmploy him for service among the red men.