HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF INDIAN TERRITORY,
Fort McCulloch, May 4, 1862.
SIR: I inclose a copy, marked A* (with notes since added), of the part taken by myself and the small body of Cherokees under my command in the action of 6th and 7th March near Elkhorn, and I avail myself of this occasion to forward copies of certain orders and directions since issued by me, which will put the department in possession of the plans I am endeavoring to carry out in order to hold possession of this Indian country and keep the several Indian tribes loyal to the Confederate States.*
When I consented to accept the military command of this country,
while I knew that to command the Indians would make my name detestable in the Northern States, I was also well aware that I could not expect to gain by it any great reputation in our own country. The Indian troops are of course entirely undisciplined, mounted chiefly on ponies, and armed very indifferently with common rifles and ordinary shot-guns. When they agreed to furnish troops they invariably stipulated that they should be allowed to fight in their own fashion. They will not face artillery and steady infantry on open ground, and are only used to fighting as skirmishers when cover can be obtained.
All the treaties with the Indians had also stipulated that they should not be taken out of their own country to fight without their consent. They are incredulous people, and those who fought against us under Hopoeithleyohola were chiefly alienated by the belief, induced by that crafty old man, that we would get them to become soldiers, take them out of their own country, first into Arkansas, then into Missouri, then across the Mississippi, and when their young men were thus all gone would take and divide out their lands.
It pleased General Van Dorn in February to order me to march all the Indian troops into Missouri and there encamp at or near Neosho. I received it after the enemy, pursuing General Price, had invaded Arkansas, and was thus relieved of the necessity of disobeying it. When information of this movement of the enemy reached Fort Smith and General McCulloch, disobeying the order to march to Pocahontas, ordered his command to Fayetteville, I sent orders to the two Cherokee regiments and the Creek regiments to advance toward Fayetteville and received orders from General McCulloch. I knew that he understood the Indian character and their mode of fighting and would not dream of using them as part of an army in the open field, nor did I suppose that they would be taken into Arkansas, since that step would be a confession of our weakness, and we, instead of protecting them by white troops in their own country and asking them only, as had been agreed, to help to hold that, would thereby require them to leave their own country and go into ours to fight our battles. I supposed they would be used along the frontier to harass the rear and right flank of the invading force, cut up his foraging parties, and render such service as their habits and manner of making war warranted us in expecting from them.
It is much to be regretted that they were taken into the open field, to see half of our troops never brought into action, large bodies of cavalry taking shelter in the woods at the discharge, of a shell or two, and at other times wholly inactive, confusion, and disorder, prevailing nearly everywhere, and at last our army retreating, leaving 2,000 men, without notice of the retreat, to shift for themselves, and, pursued and routed,