D. H. Cooper be made a major-general, and that certain other parties shall be made brigadier-generals. As to the charges against myself, I am not only willing, but desirous, that they should undergo the most searching scrutiny, by which means I am confident I can not only acquit myself of any crime, but justify every movement which has been made by my order; and, moreover, show that a systematic course has been pursued having for its object the destruction of my character with the Indians, with a view to the promotion of Brigadier-General Cooper, through the influence of the Indian Nations. The cry of cowardice, and even treason, has been raised, for acts which I am ready to show were only made in obedience to the dictates of common sense. My recent experience only confirms the opinion already formed that Indianized white men are not, as a class, men of much moral standing, and who are ready to acquire money at the expense of either the Indians, the Government, or, indeed, any one else. I am convinced that there is, and has been,much peculation in this district, which I have been unable to prevent, notwithstanding I have been assisted by an honest, and competent staff, and that the efforts with that view have been one of the causes of my present unpopularity. My Northern birth has also been used against me, and slurred at in an official communication from General Cooper. I have now, at my own request, been relieved from this command, and this letter is only for purpose of saving that whatever the nature of the accusations against me, I am ready, willing, and anxious to meet them. My judgment may have been faulty, but such as it is it has been used honestly and earnestly for the best interests of the Confederacy. The present state of affairs appears to be the result of a scheme originating, I believe, with the Honorable E. C. Boudinot, delegate from the Cherokees for raising several Indian brigades for permanent service in the Indian brigades for permanent service in the Indian country, the whole to be commanded by a major-general, and it was feared that if it should appear that my administration were successful, that I might be selected for the command. Hence the necessity for traducing me.
In conclusion, allow me to say that the policy of raising brigades of Indian troops will only result in an increased expenditure of public money without an adequate increase of the fighting strength. The Indians go and come at will, or nearly so. Their whims and caprices have been pandered to until it is impossible to put any reliance in them, or to tell what number of troops you will have from one day to another. If, however, it is deemed advisable to enroll as many as possible, white men from the States should be rejected. Many are disposed to seek this service as not subjecting them to the restraints of discipline. In case these Indian brigades are created, I would suggest that staff officers of known ability and honesty be appointed to them. Requisitions are made and approved with utter disregard to the number of men present, and sometimes they greatly exceed the numbers borne on the rolls. The Federal Government has made better soldiers of the Indians in the service by appointing the officers to companies and regiments.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
HEADQUARTERS TRANS-MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT,
Shreveport, January 17, 1864.
The inclosed paper is well worthy the attention of the Department. General Steele labored conscientiously and faithfully in the discharge