War of the Rebellion: Serial 019 Page 0607 Chapter XXV. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-UNION.

Search Civil War Official Records

tenant, with his company rolls, and several others; also 15 horses. Our loss, 1 killed, 1 wounded.

LEWIS MERRILL,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

HEADQUARTERS,

Fort Laramie, August 30, 1862.

General JAMES G. BLUNT:

SIR: I inclose a copy of a dispatch sent by me to the Secretary of War; also a copy of his reply. Your absence from department headquarters was my reason for corresponding directly with the Secretary. Having failed to re-enlist the Mormon troops, and finding the mountain men hereabouts very reluctant to go into the service, and having information this morning, upon which I can rely, that several thousand Indians from the Upper Missouri are now approaching this post with the avowed intention of making war, I have determined to send Mr. F. Ewing to Denver to confer with the Acting Governor of Colorado, and to department headquarters with such information for you as I deem it unsafe to transmit by telegraph. I am impelled to this course also because we have had no mail here for eight weeks except when I sent 160 miles for it.

You are aware that my small force is employed in protecting the telegraph line from this post to western boundary of your department, over 300 miles, and also protecting the new mail route from South Platte to Bridger's Pass, more than 200 miles, and garrisoning this post. This duty, together with escorting subsistence trains to the different detachments scattered along both routes, has disabled many of the horses and given the troops active duty. I have stationed at each of five telegraph stations west of this post a detachment of from 25 to 30 men, and have contracted for 30 tons of hay to be delivered at four of these stations. At the remaining station no hay can be had without hauling from 40 to 50 miles, and I will be obliged to either furnish no protection at that place or station infantry there. The detachments are poorly supplies with transportation, but I expect to subsist them by sending portion of the contractor's trains forward as they arrive at this post. I am sadly in want of ammunition, but suppose a supply to be on the way now. My information from vicinity of Fort Hall and beyond to Salmon River is that the Indians have murdered many emigrants.

I also learn that Washakie, the former chief of the Snakes, but deposed by his tribe through the influence of the Mormon authorities, is of opinion that the Snakes and Blackfeet are preparing to come against these scattered detachments on the telegraph line. Now the alternative is presented to me of standing on the defensive and trying to save the public property here and the telegraph line or of concentrating my troops, less than 500 mounted men, and marching against the Indians with less than 10 rounds of ammunition to the man, and in my judgment the telegraph line would be destroyed within three days, probably the mail line too, and my forces have at least a fair chance to be thrashed. To all this may be added that there are only 20 mounted troops at Denver, and the people there frightened at recent raids of the Ute Indians into their frontier settlements.

Now, general, if you cannot do better send me the Maryville company