War of the Rebellion: Serial 032 Page 0557 Chapter XXXIV. EXPEDITION AGAINST INDIANS IN DAKOTA.

Search Civil War Official Records

Sibley's return, recrossed when all danger was over, and when back to their old hunting grounds. Besides, the guides who were acquainted with the country stated that " a large body of Indians could not live on the other side long without going a great distance west; that always at this season of the year the indians camped on the Coteau, near the tributaries of the James, where the numerous lakes or springs kept the grass fresh; here the buffalo were plenty, and the lakes and streams full if fish; and that here they prepared their meat for the winter, moving to the Missouri, where the fuel was plenty, to winter." I therefore determined to change my course toward the east, to move rapidly, and go as far as my rations would allow.

I felt serious alarm for the safety of Captain La Boo, who had about 50 men with him, and who had already been out over two days without rations. I encamped here for the next day, and sent out four companies of the Second Nebraska and one of the Sixth Iowa, under command of Major [J. W.] Pearman, Second Nebraska, to hunt him up, and see if there were any Indians on the Missouri. The next day, however, Captain La Boo's company returned, having made a march of 187 miles, living upon what buffalo and game they could kill, scouring the country to my left, overtaking the camp of ten lodges he was sent after, destroying them, but seeing no Indians. This same day (29th) I sent two companies of the Sixth Iowa to the mouth of Apple Creek. They reported on their return that they found the fortified camp of General Sibley, his trail toward the east; that they could see no signs of there having been any fight there, nor could they see the Mackinaw boat reported by this old Indian. This detachment was under command of Captain [D. W. C.] Cram, Sixth Iowa Cavalry. The battalion of Major Pearman joined me before staring, having seen nothing, and, after a march of above 90 miles through a country with no wood whatever, but with good and plenty of lakes of the most abominable water, on the 3rd of September we reached a lake, where, on the plains near by, were the remains of a very large number of buffaloes killed, some quite recently. Here I encamped to wait the reports of the commands I had out during the march, who every day discovered fresh signs of Indians, their lodge trails spread over the country, but all moving toward a point known to be a favorite haunt of the Indians. I had this day detailed one battalion of the Sixth Iowa, Major [A. E.] House commanding, and Mr. Frank La Framboise as guide, to keep ahead of me 5 miles, and, in case they saw a small band of Indians, to attack them, or take them prisoners. If they should find a large band, too large to successfully cope with, to watch the camp at a distance, and send word back to me, my intention being to leave my train under charge of a heavy guard, move up in the night time so as to surround them, and attack them at daybreak. But, for some reason satisfactory to the guide, he bore off much to my left, and came upon the Indians in an encampment of cover 400 lodges, some say 600, in ravines, where they felt perfectly secure, being fully persuaded that I was still on my way up the Missouri. This is what the Indian prisoners say. They also state that a war party followed me on my way up, in hope of stampeding me; but this they could not do. I marched with great care, with an advanced guard and flankers; the train in two lines, 60 paces apart, the troops on each side; in front and center, myself with one company and the battery; all loose stock was kept between the lines of wagons. In this way I lost no animals on the campaign except some few, about a dozen, that got out of camp at night; nor did the Indians, during all the trip, ever attack me or try to stampede me.