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The only other favorable locality for them is that afforded by the valley of the Neosho, a wooded bottom land. This has the advantage of being nearer your source of supplies and lessening your cost of transportation somewhat, a desideratum, but is open to the very grave objection that the country is mostly owned and occupied by settlers, compelling you to bring these Indians on to settlers' lands and in daily contact with them.
Ten thousand Indians would stretch along the river bank for several miles in their encampments. No farmers would look with complacency or quietude upon such a crowd of destitute people brought around them and I apprehend serious difficulties would arise. Moreover every farmer has necessarily in this thinly wooded country to husband the little timber which the river bottom affords him. He is rightly choice of his young growth of timber and jealously guards it.
The Indians never regard these things and they would necessarily commit great damages, the cost of which I think would in the end greatly overbalance the little addition you will have to pay to get your supplies from the Neosho to the Verdigris.
Of course the Indians are now in want of every necessary of life. When last attacked by the rebel whites and Indians they were dispersed in every direction. In their flight they had barely time to snatch such few utensils and wearing apparel as were at hand. Much of this in their long journey made by many on foot has necessarily been abandoned or worn out. A strong pair of pants, a pair of shoes, a flannel shirt and a blanket would be a sufficient issue of clothing to each Indian.
Cheap unbleached sheeting could be worked up by the women into various garments for themselves and children and is much needed. The smaller children, for whom shoes could not be obtained, the women could easily make moccasins out of blankets for them, which would answer till they supplied themselves again with skins. Stockings might be sent down at first to supply the pressing wants of the most needy or for the women and children. Once supplied with shoes or moccasins they do not need them. Of cooking utensils they are totally destitute. The ordinary soldier's camp-kettle and mess-pan, or whatever nearest approached it, would best answer the purpose. About one camp-kettle and three mess-pans would be ample for a family of six. Axes are very scarce with them. Two hundred ought to be sent immediately. Equally important with these requirements is shelter, protection against the inclemency of the weather, and which will present more difficulties as well as greater cost than any other to fill.
Perhaps as speedy a method of supplying it would be to give them material for making shelter-tents—the same kind of stuff of which army tents are made. This would serve the best purpose if it can be obtained, though costly. It might be shipped in bolts and issued to them in length just sufficient to make a low shelter for a family. Afterwards they could by the addition of beef hides which must be now fast accumulating, and other skins, complete a more commodious lodge.
In regard to their subsistence beef and corn-meal will probably be their chief articles of food; they are the principal staples in this section of country and therefore cheaper.
At present it would probably be found more convenient to contract for the delivery of beef weekly-a week's supply at a delivery-on the foot; the Indians will do the butchering. After grass is up sufficient to afford good feed this would not be so important.
I think the flour mills at Burlington and Le Roy would be able to furnish all the corn-meal that will be required and from corn obtained in the valley of the Neosho. They are custom mills though, and their capacity limited. The importance of a continuous supply being placed beyond doubt is readily seen. Flour might be issued in proportion of one-sixth or one-eighth. Sugar and coffee are not absolutely needed, but tend much to their comfort, particularly for the sick; it might be kept on hand expressly for the latter. Salt is necessary and will have to be sent from here. There is none in the immediate country.
It will be necessary considering the extent of their encampment and the number of Indians to have three or four log-houses erected at suitable points within its limits for issuing depots, with a person in charge of one or two. Each tribe or part of tribe would then have a certain place for drawing their provisions. An enrollment of all the Indians can easily be obtained, and each issuing clerk have a list of all the beads of families of the tribes to which he issues with the number in each.
The issues may be made for two, four or six days as most convenient, the head of a family drawing for his own family. A chief and interpreter may be present to prevent any imposition being practiced. In this way the distribution would be more equal and give greater satisfaction than the method now pursued of turning over the allotment of a tribe to a chief for distribution.
A company or two of soldiers whose presence will be necessary any way would soou put up the buildings. I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JNO. W. TURNER, Captain and Commissary of Subsistence.
LEAVENWORTH, February 10, 1862. Doctor KILE.
SIR: It has been determined that in consequence of the destitute condition of the Indians in Southern Kansas who have been driven from their homes in the Indian Territory to provide for them temporarily at the expense of the Government of the United States with such articles of clothing and food as their positive necessities require.
You have therefore been appointed special agent for the purpose of purchasing and delivering to William G. Coffin, superintendent of Indian affairs for the southeru district, such quantities of clothing and provisions as in your judgment may be required to prevent suffering amongst said Indians.
You will consult with Mr. Coffin at your earliest convenience and receive instructions from him as to the place or places of delivery of the articles you may purchase. I would also advise that you consult with Mr. Coffin as to the articles of clothing to be purchased (if any) after the first purchase, which I think proper should be made at once, and before such conference can be had General Hunter, commandant of the Department of Kansas, will turn over to you a considerable quantity of bacon belonging to the army stores at Fort Leavenworth which will reduce very much the amount of meat needed.
Whatever further supplies of meat you may find necessary you will purchase in beef-cattle, to be delivered, as before stated, either on foot or the net beef as will in your judgment be the most economical and beneficial.
For bread I would advise that you furnish corn-meal instead of flour as being sufficiently good and much cheaper; some flour for the feeble and sick will be allowed. You may find it necessary to furnish these Indians with a small quantity of cooking utensils and with axes to procure fuel, as I understand they were driven from their homes in such haste as to lose nearly or quite all their property of every description.
The most difficult part of the duties assigned you will no doubt result from the necessity you will be under to make these purchases on the faith of the Congress of the United States making the appropriation to meet any indebtedness you may create, there being now no funds belonging to the Indian Department applicable to that purpose.
You can, however, assure those having for sale the articles that you need that there can be little if any doubt that Congress will so soon as the condition of these people is made known to them hasten to provide for their wants, especially so when it is considered that these very necessities are the result of a failure on the part of the United States to meet her treaty stipulations with these people.
I would again remind you that much more care and labor will be necessary in purchasing these supplies than would probably be necessary had you funds in hand to make prompt payment. You will there. fore be careful to seek out if possible such parties from whom to make these purchases as are willing to sell to the Government without extortion.
Superintendent Coffin has been instructed to receive of you the articles herein authorized to be delivered to him and provide storage to keep on hand at least one week's provision in advance. I do not think it advisable that your purchases should exceed at any time an amount necessary for a supply of thirty days, as it is hoped that our Government will return them to their homes early in the spring and protect them there where they can provide for themselves.
I am advised by the officers of the commissary department at Fort Leavenworth that one pound of meal and one pound of beef per day for each will in all probability be sufficient for these people.
Your compensation will be at the rate of $6 per day from the date hereof until you return to your place of residence, and your actual expenses, for which you should in all cases where practicable take vouchers to accompany your account which must be certified on honor to the Indian Office. When you find it impracticable to take vouchers a memorandum of items of expenditure should be kept and reported with your account, also certified on honor. A suitable sum of money will be placed in your hands to enable
you to pay all incidental expenses so soon as your bond with security to be approved at this office is received, conditioned that you will faithfully account for the disbursements of the same in accordance with the duties hereby prescribed and hereafter to be prescribed under this appointinent, a form of which bond is herewith inclosed. * You will from time to time inform the Indian Department of your progress in supplying the wants of these Indians, and in all cases where there is no positive necessity for acting promptly in any matter under this commission you will advise with this Department before acting at all. Your obedient servant,
W. P. DOLE, Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
* Not found.
WASHINGTON, D. O., April 21, 1862. Hon. WILLIAM P. DOLE, Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
DEAR SIR: Agreeably to your request I furnish herewith an account of my recent visit to the loyal Indians who were obliged to flee from their pursuers (the rebel Indians and Texans) in the dead of winter and who are now encamped on the Neosho River, in the southern part of Kansas.
Having heard of their great destitution and suffering in company with the Rev. Evan Jones, who has been for the last forty years a missionary among the Cherokees and who was driven from his station by the rebels in August last, I visited their encampment the latter part of March last for the purpose of observation and giving information as to their actual condition and wants.
It is no doubt well known to you but not generally so what the position of these people has been in the great struggle in which the whole country is involved and with what resolute firmness and endurance they have resisted all the appeals and temptations held out to them by the rebel leaders to abandon the Government which has always protected them. While apparently the attitude of the various tribes was for a season equivocal and the disposition seemed to incline to aid and comfort the enemy, or at the best to "neutrality,” yet the evidence is ample and clear that a large portion of the Cherokee Nation were determined to stand firm in their loyalty to the Union, as is sufficiently evinced in the correspondence herewith inclosed* between John Ross, the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, and General Benjamin McCulloch and David Hubbard, Commissioner of Indian Affairs for the rebel States. And the same may be observed of the other tribes. But the strongest testimony consists in the troops they have furnished and the battles they have fought, and it is the fortune of these battles that has brought them into their present miserable condition on the bare prairies of Kansas. Large numbers of these driven from their comfortable homes, leaving their farms and their herds, many of them it may be said having lived in affluence, joined the armies of the Union. Their houses were fired by the enemy and their horses and cattle driven off. The battles in which they participated and which eventuated in their expulsion from their own country and forced them to seek shelter in Kansas forms a part of the history of this war. The battle of December last was particularly unfortunate to these people and the disasters of the defeat left them in the helpless condition I found them.
They are now located near Le Roy, in Coffey County, Kans., a distance of not less than 175 miles intervening between them and their former homes. Their march was undertaken with a scanty supply of clothing, subsistence and cooking utensils and entirely without tents, and during their progress they were reduced to such extremity as to be obliged to feed upon their ponies and their dogs, while their scanty clothing was reduced to threads and in some cases absolute nakedness was their condition. Let it be remembered that this retreat was in the midst of a winter of unusual severity for that country, with snow upon the prairie. Many of their ponies died from starvation. The women and children suffered severely from frozen limbs, as did also the men. Women gave birth to their offspring upon the naked snow without
* Not found.
shelter or covering, and in some cases the new-born infants died for want of clothing, and those who survived reached their present location with broken constitutions and utterly dispirited.
Thus I found them encamped upon the Neosho River bottom in the timber, extending a distance of some seven miles. Not a comfortable tent was to be seen. Such coverings as I saw were made in the rudest manner, being composed of pieces of cloth, old quilts, handkerchiefs, aprons, &c., stretched upon sticks, and so limited' were many of them in size that they were scarcely sufficient to cover the emaciated and dying forms beneath them. Under such shelter I found in the last stages of consumption the daughter of Hopoeithleyohola, one of the oldest, most influential and wealthy chiefs of the Creek Nation.
In company with Doctor Coffin I visited nearly fifty patients in one afternoon; not a few he pronounced incurable, their diseases being consumption and pneumonia brought on from exposure and privations of the common necessaries of life. Dr. George A. Cutler, agent of the Creeks, informed me that in two months 240 refugees of that nation had died. Those of other tribes suffered in like degree. Doctor Coffin informed me that upward of 100 amputations of frosted limbs had taken place. Among them I saw a little Creek boy, about eight years old, with both feet taken off near the ankle, others lying upon the ground whose frosted limbs rendered them unable to move about. Five persons in a similar situation the physician pronounced past recovery. Sickness among them on account of their exposure and lack of proper food was on the increase.
The following day I visited almost every lodge of several of the largest tribes and found the same destitution and suffering among them. cold, drenching rain fell on the last day of the visit, and for eight hours I went from lodge to lodge and tribe to tribe, and the suffering of the well to say nothing of the sick is beyond description. Their numbers as ascertained are as follows: Creeks, 5,000; Seminoles, 1,096; Chickasaws, 140; Quapaws, 315; Uchees, 544; Keechies, 83; Delawares, 197; Ionies, 17; Caddoes, 3; Wichitas, 5; Cherokees, 240—making an aggregate of 7,600 persons.
Thus this large number of people have been deprived of shelter for some four months and they have been supplied with clothing wholly inadequate to their actual wants. Some whom I saw had not a single garment on their bodies; nor has their food been sufficient in quantity or proper quality. Neither coffee, sugar, vinegar nor pepper has been allowed them only upon the requisition of the physician for the sick. Only about one pound of flour is given them per week each and a scanty supply of salt.
To all these necessaries of life they have been accustomed. They had been told by the rebel emissaries—as the chiefs informed me—that they would fail to obtain these articles from their Union friends, which having turned out to be the fact has affected them with suspicion and discontent.
Great complaint was made by the chiefs and others as to the quality of the bacon furnished, it being as they expressed it “not fit for a dog to eat;” many of them were made sick by eating it. The unfitness of the food I brought to the attention of their agents who informed me that this bacon had been condemned at Fort Leavenworth; and Major Snow, the agent of the Seminoles, employed the same expression in regard to it as the Indians that it was not fit for a dog to eat;" and a reliable person who saw the bacon before it was sent to them who is a judge of the article pronounced it suitable only for soap grease.