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As with the war as a whole, so with that part of it waged on the Arkansas frontier, the year 1863 proved critical. Its midsummer season saw the turning-point in the respective fortunes of the North and the South, both in the east and in the west. The beginning of 1863 was a time for recording great depletion of resources in Indian Territory, as elsewhere, great disorganization within Southern Indian ranks, and much privation, suffering, and resultant dissatisfaction among the tribes generally.

The moment called for more or less sweeping changes in western commands. Those most nearly affecting the Arkansas frontier were the establishment of Indian Territory as a separate military entity[692] and the detachment of western Louisiana and Texas from the Trans-Mississippi Department.[693] Both were accomplished in January and both were directly due to a somewhat tardy realization of the vast strategic importance of the Indian country. Unwieldy, geographically, the Trans-Mississippi Department had long since shown itself to be. Moreover, it was no longer even passably safe to leave the interests of Indian Territory subordinated to those of Arkansas.[694]

The man chosen, after others, his seniors in rank, had declined the dubious honor,[695] for the command of Indian Territory was William Steele, brigadier-general, northern born, of southern sympathies. Thus was ignored whatever claim Douglas H. Cooper might have been thought to have by reason of his intimate and long acquaintance with Indian affairs and his influence, surpassingly great, with certain of the tribes. Cooper's unfortunate weakness, addiction to intemperance, had stood more or less in the way of his promotion right along just as it had decreased his military efficiency on at least one memorable occasion and had hindered the confirmation of his appointment as superintendent of Indian affairs in the Arkansas and Red River constituency. In this narrative, as events are divulged, it will be seen that the preference for Steele exasperated Cooper, who was not a big enough man to put love of country before the gratification of his own ambition, consequently friction developed between him and his rival highly detrimental to the service to which each owed his best thought, his best endeavor.[696]

Conditions in Indian Territory, at the time Steele took command, were conceivably the worst that could by any possibility be imagined. The land had been stripped of its supplies, the troops were scarcely worthy of the name.[697] Around Fort Smith, in Arkansas, things were equally bad.[698] People were clamoring for protection against marauders, some were wanting only the opportunity to move themselves and their effects far away out of the reach of danger, others were demanding that the unionists be cleaned out just as secessionists had, in some cases, been. Confusion worse confounded prevailed. Hindman had resorted to a system of almost wholesale furloughing to save expense.[699] Most of the Indians had taken advantage of it and were off duty when Steele arrived. Many had preferred to subsist at government cost.[700] There was so little in their own homes for them to get. Forage was practically non-existent and Steele soon had it impressed [701] upon him that troops in the Indian Territory ought, as Hindman had come to think months before,[702] to be all unmounted.

Although fully realizing that it was incumbent upon him to hold Fort Smith as a sort of key to his entire command, Steele knew it would be impossible to maintain any considerable force there. He, therefore, resolved to take big chances and to attempt to hold it with as few men as his commissary justified, trusting that he would be shielded from attack "by the inclemency of the season and the waters of the Arkansas."[703] The larger portion of his army[704] was sent southward, in the direction of Red River.[705] But lack of food and forage was, by no manner of means, the only difficulty that confronted Steele. He was short of guns, particularly of good guns,[706] and distressingly short of money.[707] The soldiers had not been paid for months.

The opening of 1863 saw changes, equally momentous, in Federal commands. Somewhat captiously, General Schofield discounted recent achievements of Blunt and advised that Blunt's District of Kansas should be completely disassociated from the Division of the Army of the Frontier,[708] which he had, at Schofield's own earlier request, been commanding. It was another instance of personal jealousy, interstate rivalry, and local conflict of interests.[709] So petty was Schofield and so much in a mood for disparagement that he went the length of condemning the work of Blunt and Herron[710] in checking Hindman's advance as but a series of blunders and their success at Prairie Grove as but due to an accident.[711] General Curtis, without, perhaps, having any particular regard for the aggrieved parties himself, resented Schofield's insinuations against their military capacity, all the more so, no doubt, because he was not above making the same kind of criticisms himself and was not impervious to them. In the sequel, Schofield reorganized the divisions of his command, relieved Blunt altogether, and personally resumed the direction of the Army of the Frontier.[712] Blunt went back to his District of Kansas and made his headquarters at Fort Leavenworth.

In some respects, the reorganization decided upon by Schofield proved a consummation devoutly to be wished; for, within the reconstituted First Division was placed an Indian Brigade, which was consigned to the charge of a man the best fitted of all around to have it, Colonel William A. Phillips.[713] And that was not all; inasmuch as the Indian Brigade, consisting of the three regiments of Indian Home Guards, a battalion of the Sixth Kansas Cavalry, and a four-gun battery that had been captured at the Battle of Old Fort Wayne,[714] was almost immediately detached from the rest of Schofield's First Division and assigned to discretionary "service in the Indian Nation and on the western border of Arkansas."[715] It continued so detached even after Schofield's command had been deprived by Curtis of the two districts over which the brigade was to range, the eighth and the ninth.[716] Thus, at the beginning of 1863, had the Indian Territory in a sense come into its own. Both the Confederates and the Federals had given it a certain measure of military autonomy or, at all events, a certain opportunity to be considered in and for itself.

Indian Territory as a separate military entity came altogether too late into the reckonings of the North and the South. It was now a devastated land, in large areas, desolate. General Curtis and many another like him might well express regret that the red man had to be offered up in the white man's slaughter.[717] It was unavailing regret and would ever be. Just as with the aborigines who lay athwart the path of empire and had to yield or be crushed so with the civilized Indian of 1860. The contending forces of a fratricidal war had little mercy for each other and none at all for him. Words of sympathy were empty indeed. His fate was inevitable. He was between the upper and the nether mill-stones and, for him, there was no escape.

Indian Territory was really in a terrible condition. Late in 1862, it had been advertised even by southern men as lost to the Confederate cause and had been practically abandoned to the jayhawker. Scouting parties of both armies, as well as guerrillas, had preyed upon it like vultures. Indians, outside of the ranks, were tragic figures in their utter helplessness. They dared trust nobody. It was time the Home Guard was being made to justify its name. Indeed, as Ellithorpe reported, "to divert them to any other operations" than those within their own gates "will tend to demoralize them to dissolution."[718]

The winter of 1862-1863 was a severe one. Its coming had been long deferred; but, by the middle of January, the cold weather had set in in real earnest. Sleet and snow and a constantly descending thermometer made campaigning quite out of the question. Colonel Phillips, no more than did his adversary, General Steele, gave any thought to an immediate offensive. Like Steele his one idea was to replenish resources and to secure an outfit for his men. They had been provided with the half worn-out baggage train of Blunt's old division. It was their all and would be so until their commander could supplement it by contrivances and careful management. Incidentally, Phillips expected to hold the line of the Arkansas River; but not to attempt to cross it until spring should come. It behooved him to look out for Marmaduke whose expeditions into Missouri[719] were cause for anxiety, especially as their range might at any moment be extended.

The Indian regiments of Phillips's brigade were soon reported[720] upon by him and declared to be in a sad state. The first regiment was still, to all intents and purposes, a Creek force, notwithstanding that its fortunes had been varied, its desertions, incomparable.

The second regiment, after many vicissitudes, and after having gotten rid of its unmanageable elements, notably, the Osages and the Quapaws, had become a Cherokee and the third was largely so. That third regiment was Phillips's own and was the only one that could claim the distinction of being disciplined and even it was exposed occasionally to the chronic weakness of all Indian soldiers, absence without leave. The Indian, on his own business bent, was disposed to depart whenever he pleased, often, too, at times most inopportune, sometimes, when he had been given a special and particular task. He knew not the usages of army life and really meant no offence; but, all the same, his utter disregard of army discipline made for great disorder.

It was not the chief cause of disorder, however, for that was the unreliability of the regimental officers. The custom, from the first, had been to have the field officers white men, a saving grace; but the company officers, with few exceptions, had been Indians and totally incompetent. Strange as it may seem, drilling was almost an unknown experience to the two regiments that had been mustered in for the First Indian Expedition. To obviate some of the difficulties already encountered, Phillips had seen to it that the third regiment had profited by the mistakes of its forerunners. It had, therefore, been supplied with white first lieutenants and white sergeants, secured from among the non-commissioned men of other commands. The result had fully justified the innovation. After long and careful observation, Phillips's conclusion was that it was likely to be productive of irretrievable disaster and consequently an unpardonable error of judgment "to put men of poor ability in an Indian regiment." Primitive man has an inordinate respect for a strong

character. He appreciates integrity, though he may not have it among his own gifts of nature. "An Indian company improperly officered" will inevitably become, to somebody's discomfiture, "a frightful mess."

If any one there was so foolish as to surmise that the independent commands, northern and southern, would be given free scope to solve the problems of Indian Territory, unhampered by contingent circumstances, he was foreordained to grevious disappointment. Indian Territory had still to subserve the interests of localities, relatively more important. It would be so to the very end. In and for herself, she would never be allowed to do anything and her commanders, no matter how much they might wish it otherwise--and to their lasting honor, be it said, many of them did--would always have to subordinate her affairs to those of the sovereign states around her; for even northern states were sovereign in practice where Indians were concerned. General Steele was one of the men who endeavored nobly to take a large view of his responsibilities to Indian Territory. Colonel Phillips, his contemporary in the opposite camp, was another; but both met with insuperable obstacles. The attainment of their objects was impossible from the start. Both men were predestined to failure.

Foraging or an occasional scouting when the weather permitted was the only order of the winter days for Federals and Confederates. With the advent of spring, however, Phillips became impatient for more aggressive action. He had been given a large programme, no insignificant part of which was, the restoration of refugees to their impoverished homes; but his first business would necessarily have to be, the occupancy of the country. Not far was he allowed to venture within

it during the winter; because his superior officers wished him to protect, before anything else, western Arkansas. Schofield and, after Schofield's withdrawal from the command of southwestern Missouri, Curtis had insisted upon that, while Blunt, to whom Phillips, after a time, was made immediately accountable, was guardedly of another way of thinking and, although not very explicit, seemed to encourage Phillips in planning an advance.

Phillips's inability to progress far in the matter of occupancy of Indian Territory did not preclude his keeping a close tab on Indian affairs therein, such a tab, in fact, as amounted to fomenting an intrigue. It will be recalled that on the occasion of his making the excursion into the Cherokee Nation, which had resulted in his incendiary destruction of Fort Davis, he had gained intimations of a rather wide-spread Indian willingness to desert the Confederate service. He had sounded Creeks and Choctaws and had found them surprisingly responsive to his machinations. They were nothing loath to confess that they were thoroughly disgusted with the southern alliance. It had netted them nothing but unutterable woe. Among those that Phillips approached, although not personally, was Colonel McIntosh, who communicated with Phillips through two intimate friends. McIntosh was persuaded to attempt no immediate demonstration in favor of the North; for that would be premature, foolhardy; but to bide the time, which could not be far distant, when the Federal troops would be in a position to support him.[721] The psychological moment was not yet. Blunt called Phillips back for operations outside of Indian Territory; but the seed of treason had been sown and sown in fertile soil, in the heart of a McIntosh.[722]

In January, 1863, Phillips took up again the self-imposed task of emissary.[723] The unionist Cherokees, inclusive of those in the Indian Brigade, were contemplating holding a national council on Cowskin Prairie, which was virtually within the Federal lines. Secessionist Cherokees, headed by Stand Watie, were determined that such a council should not meet if they could possibly prevent it and prevent it they would if they could only get a footing north of the Arkansas River. Their suspicion was, that the council, if assembled, would declare the treaty with the Confederate States abrogated. To circumvent Stand Watie, to conciliate some of the Cherokees by making reparation for past outrages, and to sow discord among others, Phillips despatched Lieutenant-colonel Lewis Downing on a scout southward. He was just in time; for the Confederates were on the brink of hazarding a crossing at two places, Webber's Falls and Fort Gibson.[724] Upon the return of Downing, Phillips himself moved across the border with the avowed intention of rendering military support, if needed, to the Cherokee Council, which convened on the fourth of February.[725] From Camp Ross, he continued to send out scouting parties, secret agents,[726] and agents of distribution.

The Cherokee Council assembled without the preliminary formality of a new election. War conditions had made regular pollings impossible. Consequently, the council that convened in February, 1863 was, to all intents and purposes, the selfsame body that, in October, 1861, had confirmed the alliance with the Confederate States. It was Phillips's intention to stand by, with military arm upraised, until the earlier action had been rescinded. While he waited, word came that the harvest of defection among the Creeks had begun; for "a long line of persons"[727] was toiling through the snow, each wearing the white badge on his hat that Phillips and McIntosh had agreed should be their sign of fellowship. Then came an order for Phillips to draw back within supporting distance of Fayetteville, which, it was believed, the Confederates were again threatening.[728] Phillips obeyed, as perforce, he had to; but he left a detachment behind to continue guarding the Cherokee Council.[729]

The legislative work of the Cherokee Council, partisan body that it was, with Lewis Downing as its presiding officer and Thomas Pegg as acting Principal Chief, was reactionary, yet epochal. It comprised several measures and three of transcendant importance, passed between the eighteenth and the twenty-first:

1. An act revoking the alliance with the Confederate States and re-asserting allegiance to the United States.

2. An act deposing all officers of any rank or character whatsoever, inclusive of legislative, executive, judicial, who were serving in capacities disloyal to the United States and to the Cherokee Nation.

3. An act emancipating slaves throughout the Cherokee country.[730]

His detention in Arkansas was not at all to Phillips's liking. It tried his patience sorely; for he felt the crying need of Indian Territory for just such services as his and, try as he would, he could not visualize that of Arkansas. Eagerly he watched for a chance to return to the Cherokee country. One offered for the fifth of March but had to be given up. Again and yet again in letters[731] to Curtis and Blunt he expostulated against delay but delay could not well be avoided. The pressure from Arkansas for assistance was too great. Blunt sympathized with Phillips more than he dared openly admit and tacitly sanctioned his advance. Never at any time could there have been the slightest doubt as to the singleness of the virile Scotchman's purpose. In imagination he saw his adopted country repossessed of Indian Territory and of all the overland approaches to Texas and Mexico from whence, as he supposed, the Confederacy expected to draw her grain and other supplies. Some regard for the Indian himself he doubtless had; but he used it as a means to the greater end. His sense of justice was truly British in its keenness.

His Indian soldiers loved him. They believed in him. He was able to accomplish wonders in training them. He looked after their welfare and he did his best to make the government and its agents of the Indian Office keep faith with the refugees. Quite strenuously, too, he advocated further enlistments from among the Indians, especially from among those yet in Indian Territory. If the United States did not take care, the Confederates would successfully conscript where the Federals might easily recruit. In this matter as in many another, he had Blunt's unwavering support; for Blunt wanted the officers of the embryo fourth and fifth regiments to secure their commands. Blunt's military district was none too full of men.

March was then as now the planting season in the Arkansas Valley and, as Phillips rightly argued, if the indigent Indians were not to be completely pauperized, they ought to be given an opportunity to be thrown once more upon their own resources, to be returned home in time to put in crops. When the high waters subsided and the rivers became fordable, he grew more insistent. There was grass in the valley of the Arkansas and soon the Confederates would be seizing the stock that it was supporting. He had held the line of the Arkansas by means of scouts all winter, but scouting would not be adequate much longer. The Confederates were beginning, in imitation of the Federals, to attach indigents to their cause by means of relief distribution and the "cropping season was wearing on."

At the end of March, some rather unimportant changes were made by Curtis in the district limits of his department and coincidently Phillips moved over the border. The first of April his camp was at Park Hill. His great desire was to seize Fort Smith; for he

realized that not much recruiting could be done among the Choctaws while that post remained in Confederate hands. Blunt advised caution. It would not even do to attempt as yet any permanent occupation south of the Arkansas. Dashes at the enemy might be made, of course, but nothing more; for at any moment those higher up might order a retrograde movement and anyhow no additional support could be counted upon. Halleck was still calling for men to go to Grant's assistance and accusing Curtis of keeping too many needlessly in the West. The Vicksburg campaign was on.

The order that Blunt anticipated finally came and Curtis called for Phillips to return. La Rue Harrison, foraging in Arkansas,[732] was whining for assistance. Phillips temporized, having no intention whatsoever of abandoning his appointed goal. His arguments were unanswerable but Curtis like Halleck could never be made to appreciate the plighted faith that lay back of Indian participation in the war and the strategic importance of Indian Territory. The northern Indian regiments, pleaded Phillips, were never intended for use in Arkansas. Why should they go there? It was doubtful if they could ever be induced to go there again. They had been recruited to recover the Indian Territory and now that they were within it they were going to stay until the object had been attained. Phillips solicited Blunt's backing and got it, to the extent, indeed, that Blunt informed Curtis that if he wanted Indian Territory given up he must order it himself and take the consequences. It was not given up but Phillips suffered great embarrassments in holding it. The only support Blunt could render him was to send a negro regiment to Baxter Springs to protect supply trains. Guerrillas and bushwhackers were everywhere and Phillips's command was half-starved. Smallpox[733] broke out and, as the men became more and more emaciated, gained ground. Phillips continued to make occasional dashes at the enemy and in a few engagements he was more than reasonably successful. Webber's Falls was a case in point.

As May advanced, the political situation in Missouri seemed to call loudly for a change in department commanders and President Lincoln, quite on his own initiative apparently, selected Schofield to succeed Curtis,[734] Curtis having identified himself with a faction opposed to Governor Gamble. The selection was obnoxious to many and to none more than to Herron and to Blunt, whose military exploits Schofield had belittled. The former threatened resignation if Schofield were appointed but the latter restrained himself and for a brief space all went well, Schofield even manifesting some sympathy for Phillips at Fort Gibson, or Fort Blunt, as the post, newly fortified, was now called. He declared that the Arkansas River must be secured its entire length; but the Vicksburg campaign was still demanding men and Phillips had to struggle on, unaided. Indeed, he was finally told that if he could not hold on by himself he must fall back and let the Indian Territory take care of itself until Vicksburg should have fallen.

The inevitable clash between Schofield and Blunt was not long deferred. It came over a trifling matter but was fraught with larger meanings.[735] It was probably as much to get away from Schofield's near presence as to see to things himself in Indian Territory that led Blunt to go down in person to Fort Gibson. He arrived there on the eleventh of July, taking Phillips entirely by surprise. Vicksburg had fallen about a week before.

The difficulties besetting Colonel Phillips were more than matched by those besetting General Steele. He, too, struggled on unaided, nay, more, he was handicapped at every turn. Scarcely had he taken command at Fort Smith when he was apprised of the fact that the chief armorer there had been ordered to remove all the tools to Arkadelphia.[736] Steele was hard put to it to obtain any supplies at all.[737] Many that he did get the promise of were diverted from their course,[738] just as were General Pike's. This was true even in the case of shoes.[739] He tried to fit his regiments out one by one with the things the men required in readiness for a spring campaign[740] but it was up-hill work. And what was perfectly incomprehensible to him was, that when his need was so great there was yet corn available for private parties to speculate in and to realize enormous profits on.[741] In April, the Indian regiments, assembling and reforming in expectation of a call to action, made special demands upon his granaries but they were nearly empty.[742] It was not possible for him to furnish corn for seed or, finally, the necessaries of life to indigent Indians. Indian affairs complicated, his situation tremendously.[743] He could get no funds and no among his men,[745] as among Phillips's--and from like causes.

Then General Steele had difficulty in getting his men and the right kind of men together. Lawless Arkansans were unduly desirous of joining the Indian regiments, thinking that discipline there would be lax enough to suit their requirements.[746] Miscellaneous conscripting by ex-officers of Arkansan troops gave much cause for annoyance[747] as did also Cooper's unauthorized commissioning of officers to a regiment made out of odd battalions and independent companies.[748] Cooper, in fact, seemed bent upon tantalizing Steele and many of the Indians were behind him.[749] Colonel Tandy Walker was especially his supporter. Cooper had been Walker's choice for department commander[750] and continued so, in spite of all Steele's honest attempts to propitiate him and in spite of his promise to use every exertion to satisfy Choctaw needs generally.[751] To Tandy Walker Steele entrusted the business of recruiting anew among the Choctaws.[752]

Furloughs and desertions were the bane of Steele's existence.[753] In these respects Alexander's brigade, within which Colonel Phillips had detected traitors to the Confederate cause,[754] was, perhaps, the most incorrigible.[755] From department headquarters came impassioned appeals[756] for activity and for loyalty but without telling or lasting effect. The Confederate service in Indian Territory was honeycombed with fraud and corruption.[757] Wastrels, desperadoes, scamps of every sort luxuriated at Indian expense. It was no wonder that false muster rolls had to be guarded against.[758] The Texans showed throughout so great an aversion to the giving of themselves or of their worldly goods[759] to the salvation of the country that Steele in despair cried out, "... it does appear as if the Texas troops on this frontier were determined to tarnish the proud fame that Texans have won in other fields."[760] The Arkansans were no better and no worse. The most fitting employment for many, the whole length and breadth of Steele's department, was the mere "ferreting out of jayhawkers and deserters."[761]

The Trans-Mississippi departmental change, effected in January, was of short duration, so short that it could never surely have been intended to be anything but transitional. In February the parts were re-united and Kirby Smith put in command of the whole,[762] President Davis explaining, not very candidly, that no dissatisfaction with Holmes was thereby implied.[763] Smith was the ranking officer and entitled to the first consideration. Moreover, Holmes had once implored that a substitute for himself be sent out. As a matter of fact, Holmes had become too much entangled with Hindman, too much identified with all that Arkansans objected to in Hindman,[764] his intolerance, his arrogance, his illegalities, for him to be retained longer, with complacency, in chief command. Hindman and he were largely to blame for the necessity[765] of suspending the privilege of the writ of _habeas corpus_ in Arkansas and the adjacent Indian country, which had just been done. Strong political pressure was exerted in Richmond[766] and the Arkansas delegation in Congress demanded Hindman's recall,[767] Holmes's displacement, and Kirby Smith's appointment. The loss of that historic fort, Arkansas Post,[768] also a tardy appreciation of the economic value of the Arkansas Valley and, incidentally, of the entire Trans-Mississippi Department,[769] had really determined matters; but, fortunately, the supersedure of Holmes by Smith did not affect the position of Steele.

Steele divined that the Federals would naturally make an early attempt to occupy in force the country north of the Arkansas River and beyond it to the southward in what had hitherto been a strictly Confederate stronghold. It was his intention to forestall them. The two Cherokee regiments constituted, for some little time, his best available troops and them he kept in almost constant motion.[770] His great reliance, and well it might be, was upon Stand Watie, whom he had brought up betimes within convenient distance of Fort Smith[771] and with whom, in April, Phillips's men had two successful encounters, on the fourteenth[772] and the twenty-fifth. The one of the twenty-fifth was at Webber's Falls and especially noteworthy, since, as a Federal victory, it prevented a convening of the secessionist Cherokee Council,[773] for which, so important did he deem it, Steele had planned an extra protection.[774] The completeness of the Federal victory was marred by the loss of Dr. Gillpatrick,[775] who had so excellently served the ends of diplomacy between the Indian Expedition and John Ross.

Through May and June, engagements, petty in themselves but contributing each its mite to ultimate success or failure, occupied detachments of the opposing Indian forces with considerable frequency.[776] Two, devised by Cooper, those of the fourteenth[777] and twentieth[778] of May may be said to characterize the entire series and were nothing but fruitless demonstrations to seize the Federal grazing herds. A brilliant cavalry raid, undertaken by Stand Watie and for the same purpose, a little later, was slightly more successful;[779] but even its fair showing was reversed in the subsequent skirmish at Greenleaf Prairie, June 16.[780] To the northward, something more serious was happening, since actions, having their impetus in Arkansas,[781] were endangering Phillips's line of communication with Fort Scott, his base and his depot of supplies. In reality, Phillips was hard pressed and no one knew better than he how precarious his situation was. Among his minor troubles was the refusal of his Creeks to charge in the engagement of May 20.

The refusal of the Creeks to charge was not, however, indicative of any widespread disaffection.[782] So honorably had Phillips been conducting himself with reference to Indian affairs, so promptly and generously had he discharged his obligations to the refugees who had been harbored at Neosho--they had all returned now from exile[783]--so successfully had he everywhere encountered the foe that the Indians, far and wide, were beginning to look to him for succor,[784] many of them to wonder, whether in joining the Confederacy, they had not made a terrible mistake, a miscalculation beyond all remedying.

To the Confederates, tragically enough, the Indian's tale of woe and of regret had a different meaning. The tale had been told many times of late and every time with a new emphasis upon that part of it that recounted delusion and betrayal. For quite a while now the Indians had been feeling themselves neglected. Steele was aware of the fact but helpless. When told of treaty rights he had to plead ignorance; for he had never seen the treaties and had no official knowledge of their contents. He was exercising the functions of superintendent _ex officio_, not because the post had ever been specifically conferred upon him or instructions sent, but because he had come to his command to find it, in nearly every aspect, Indian and no agent or superintendent at hand to take charge [785] of affairs that were ordinarily not strictly within the range of military cognizance.

General Steele, like many another, was inclined to think that the red men greatly over-estimated their own importance; for they failed to "see and understand how small a portion of the field"[786] they really occupied. To Steele, it was not Indian Territory that was valuable but Texas. For him the Indian country, barren by reason of the drouth, denuded of its live stock, a prey to jayhawker, famine, and pestilence, did nothing more than measure the distance between the Federals and the rich Texan grain-fields, from whence he fondly hoped an inexhaustible supply of flour[787] for the Confederates was to come. In short, the great and wonderful expanse that had been given to the Indian for a perpetual home was a mere buffer.

But it was a buffer, throbbing with life, and that was something Steele dared not ignore and could not if he would. With such a consciousness, when the secessionist Cherokees were making arrangements for their council at Webber's Falls in April, he hastened to propitiate them ahead of time by addressing them "through the medium of their wants" for he feared what might be their action[788] should they assemble with a grievance[789] against the Confederacy in their hearts. Protection against the oncoming enemy and relief from want were the things the Indians craved, so, short though his own supplies were, Steele had to make provision for the helpless and indigent natives, the feeding of whom became a fruitful and constantly increasing source of embarrassment.[790]

Just and generous as General Steele endeavored to be in the matter of attention to Indian necessities, his efforts were unappreciated largely because of evil influences at work to undermine him and to advance Douglas H. Cooper. Steele had his points of vulnerability, his inability to check the Federal advance and his remoteness from the scene of action, his headquarters being at Fort Smith. Connected with the second point and charged against him were all the bad practices of those men who, in their political or military control of Indian Territory, had allowed Arkansas to be their chief concern. Such practices became the foundation stone of a general Indian dissatisfaction and, concomitantry, Douglas H. Cooper, of insatiable ambition, posed as the exponent of the idea that the safety of Indian Territory was an end in itself.

The kind of separate military organization that constituted Steele's command was not enough for the Indians. Seemingly, they desired the restoration of the old Pike department, but not such as it had been in the days of the controversy with Hindman but such as it always was in Pike's imagination. The Creeks were among the first to declare that this was their desire. They addressed[791] themselves to President Davis[792] and boldly said that their country had "been treated as a mere appendage of Arkansas, where needy politicians and _protégés_ of Arkansas members of Congress must be quartered." The Seminoles followed suit,[793] although in a congratulatory way, after a rumor had reached them that the Creek request for a separate department of Indian Territory was about to be granted. The rumor was false and in June Tandy Walker, on behalf of the Choctaws, reopened the whole subject.[794] A few days earlier, the Cherokees had filed their complaint but it was of a different character, more fundamental, more gravely portentous.

The Cherokee complaint took the form of a deliberate charge of contemplated bad faith on the part of the Confederate government. E.C. Boudinot, the Cherokee delegate in the Southern Congress, had recently returned from Richmond, empowered to submit a certain proposal to his constituents. The text of the proposal does not appear in the records but its nature,[795] after account be taken of some exaggeration attributable to the extreme of indignation, can be inferred from the formal protest[796] against it, which was drawn up at Prairie Springs in the Cherokee Nation about fifteen miles from Fort Gibson on the twenty-first of June and signed by Samuel M. Taylor, acting assistant chief, John Spears of the Executive Council, and Alexander Foreman, president of the convention. To all intents and purposes the Cherokees were asked, in return for some paltry offices chiefly military, to institute a sort of system of military land grants. White people were to be induced to enlist in their behalf and were then to be allowed to settle, on equal terms with the Cherokees, within the Cherokee country. The proposal, as construed by Taylor and his party, was nothing more or less than a suggestion that the Cherokees surrender their nationality, their political integrity, the one thing above everything else that they had sought to preserve when they entered into an active alliance with the Confederate States. So sordid was the bargain proposed, so unequal, that the thought obtrudes itself that a base advantage was about to be taken of the Cherokee necessities and that the objectors were justified in insinuating that Boudinot and his political friends were to be the chief beneficiaries. The Cherokee country was already practically lost to the Confederacy. Might it not be advisable to distribute the tribal lands, secure individual holdings, while vested rights might still accrue; for, should bad come to worse, private parties could with more chance of success prosecute a claim than could a commonalty, which in its national or corporate capacity had committed treason and thereby forfeited its rights. One part of the Cherokee protest merits quotation here. Its noble indignation ought to have been proof enough for anybody.

    ... We were present when the treaty was made, were a party to it, and rejoiced when it was done. In that treaty our rights to our country as a Nation were guaranteed to us forever, and the Confederate States promised to protect us in them. We enlisted under the banner of those States, and have fought in defense of our country under that treaty and for the rights of the South for nearly two years. We have been driven from our homes, and suffered severe hardships, privations, and losses, and now we are informed, when brighter prospects are before us, that you think it best for us to give part of our lands to our white friends; that, to defend our country and keep troops for our protection, we must raise and enlist them from

    our own territory, and that it is actually necessary that they are citizens of our country to enable us to keep them with us. To do this would be the end of our national existence and the ruin of our people. Two things above all others we hold most dear, our nationality and the welfare of our people. Had the war been our own, there would have been justice in the proposition, but it is that of another nation. We are allies, assisting in establishing the rights and independence of another nation. We, therefore, in justice to ourselves and our people, cannot agree to give a part of our domain as an inducement to citizens of another Government to fight their own battles and for their own country; besides, it would open a door to admit as citizens of our Nation the worst class of citizens of the Confederate States ...