one-third of my force in an intrenched position at Camp Atchison, and was then one day's march in advance, with 1,400 infantry and 500 cavalry, in the direction where the main body of the Indians were supposed to be.
During he three following days I pursued a course somewhat west of south, making 50 miles, having crossed the James River and the Great Coteau of the Missouri. On the 24th, about 1 p. m., being considerably in advance of the main column, with some of the officers of my staff, engaged in looking out for a suitable camping ground, the command having marched steadily from 5 a. m., some of my scouts came to me at full speed, and reported that a large camp of Indians had just before passed, and great numbers of warriors could be seen upon the prairie, 2 or 3 miles distant. I immediately corraled my train upon the shore of a salt lake near by, and established my camp, which was rapidly intrenched by Colonel Crooks, to whom was intrusted that duty, for the security of the transportation in case of attack, a precaution I had taken whenever we encamped for many days previously. While the earthworks were being pushed forward, parties of Indians, more or less numerous, appeared upon the hills around us, and one of my half breed scouts, a relative of Red Plume, a Sisseton chief, hitherto opposed to the war, approached sufficiently near to converse with him. Red Plume told him to warn me that the plan was formed to invite me to a council, with some of my superior officers, to shoot to invite me to a council, with some of my superior officers, to shoot us without ceremony, and then attack my command in great force, trusting to destroy the whole of it. The Indians ventured near the spot where a portion of my scouts had taken position, 300 or 400 yards from our camp, and conversed with them in an apparently friendly manner, some of them professing a desire for peace. Surg. Josiah S. Weiser, of the First Regiment Minnesota Mounted Rangers, incautiously joined the group of scouts, when a young savage, doubtless supposing from his uniform and horse equipments that he was an officer of rank, pretended great friendship and delight at seeing him, but when within a few feet treacherously shot him through the heart. The scouts discharged their pieces at the murderer, but he escaped, leaving his horse behind. The body of Dr. Weiser was immediately brought into camp, unmutilated, save by the ball that killed him. He was universally esteemed, being skillful in his profession and a courteous gentleman. This outrage precipitated an immediate engagement. The savages, in great number, concealed by the ridges, had encircled those portions of the camp not flanked by the lake referred to, and commenced an attack. Colonel [Samuel] McPhaill, with two companies, subsequently re-enforced by others, as the could be spared from other points, was directed to drive the enemy from the vicinity of the hill where Dr. Weiser was shot, while those companies of the Seventh Regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel [W. R.] Marshall and Major [George] Bradley, and one company of he Tenth Regiment, under Captain [Alonzo J.] Edgerton, were dispatched to support them. Taking with me a 6-pounder, under the command of Lieutenant [John C.] Whipple, I ascended a hill toward the Big Mound, on the opposite side of the ravine, and opened fire with spherical-case shot upon the Indians, who had obtained possession of the upper part of the large ravine, and of smaller ones tributary to it, under the protection of which they could annoy the infantry and cavalry without exposure on their art. This flank and raking fire of artillery drove them from their hiding placed into the broken prairie, where they were successively dislodged from the ridges, being utterly unable to resist the steady advance of the Seventh Regiment and the Rangers, but fled before them in confusion.
23 R R-VOL XXII, PT I