War of the Rebellion: Serial 033 Page 1104 MO., ARK., KANS., IND. T., AND DEPT. N. W. Chapter XXXIV

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[Inclosure Numbers 1.]


Cherokee Nation, August 8, 1863.

Honorable S. S. SCOTT,

Commissioner of Indian Affairs:

SIR: In compliance with your request, I herewith submit a statement of matters relating to the Cherokee people. The history of military operations in this country and in the State of Arkansas, directly affecting the interests of our people, gives just cause for complaint. The Indian troops who have been true to the South from the very first have been treated in many instances as though it were immaterial whether or not they were paid as promptly and equipped as thoroughly as other soldiers. Money specially obtained for them has more than once been appropriated to the use of other commands. Clothing, procured at great trouble and expense, to cover the nakedness of Indian troops, has on several occasions been distributed among less necessitous soldiers. Notwithstanding this treatment has been such as to test to the utmost their fidelity, they have remained true as steel. I can point to my command, and show less desertions than in any of like size in the service. I am glad to be able to say that of late my command has been better provided for than formerly. In April last a small force of hostile Indians, negroes, and one battalion of Kansas troops, in all about 2,000 men, took possession of Fort Gibson, in the Cherokee country. They have held this place, and consequently the Cherokee Nation, ever since, almost unmolested. There have been no vigorous efforts made to dislodge them, and they have at leisure strengthened and fortified their position. This mongrel force has laid waste our country, driven the women and children from their homes, and kept the other Nations, which have yet escaped invasion, in a continual state of alarm.

I cannot understand the soundness of the policy which allows a vastly inferior force of the enemy to ravage the land with impunity. The hardihood of our enemies in penetrating 200 miles from their base of supplies, and from all support from other troops, when it is well known we have a force at least three times as large, is only equaled by the lack of spirit, inactivity, and apparent cowardice with which they have been met. It was my opinion ten weeks ago that by a concentration of our available forces we could overwhelm and utterly destroy our foes. I wrote my convictions to Brigadier-General Steele, who, unfortunately, was not cognizant of the true condition of affairs here, and to Lieutenant-General Holmes. The former paid no attention to my suggestions; the latter assured me if General Steele did not think himself strong enough to move against the enemy he would make him so in three weeks. Since then, although strengthened by infantry and artillery, the same lethargy and procrastination prevail, and our prospects look more gloomy than ever. These delays and novel movements around and about, but never against, a much inferior force have produced universal dissatisfaction and despondency. The most favorable time for repelling the invader has passed, but a little energy may yet retrieve our misfortunes.

Nearly every able-bodied man among the Cherokees is doing service in the army. In a majority of instances their families have been robbed of everything, leaving them utterly destitute and only too glad to escape with their lives. They are scattered over the creek and Choctaw Nations and in the State of Texas. A census will soon be made out of their numbers. I think it will not fall short of 6,000. It is proposed