HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF NEBRASKA, Omaha City, Nebr. Ter., January 15, 1864.
Captain GEORGE ARMSTRONG,
Co. A, First Batt., Nebr. Vet. Cav., Omaha, Nebr. Ter.:
CAPTAIN: Herewith you will receive a copy of a communication* of Major J. B. Hoffman, U. S. Indian agent, to the Governor and ex officio Superintendent of Indian Affairs of Dakota, dated Ponca Agency, December 27, 1863, charging a party of soldiers at Niobrara, Nebr. Ter., with criminal conduct toward some Indians belonging to the Ponca Agency. The general commanding the district directs you to proceed to Niobrara and such other points in this district as you may find it necessary for the purpose, and make a thorough investigation in reference to the allegations contained in Major Hoffman's communication, with a view to bring all guilty parties to trial before general court-martial as soon as practicable, in order that such punishment may follow as the ends of justice and the credit of the service require.
You will report for arrest any officer or soldier implicated against whom the evidence may show any probability of guilt, in order that his case may receive the more searching investigation of a court-martial. The difficulty of the communication with the scene of the alleged outrages renders this preliminary step necessary in order to prevent delay after a court is convened. Captain Wilcox, commanding at Dakota, is instructed to arrest any one upon your report.
Herewith you will find also the report* of Captain Wilcox, made before the receipt of Major Hoffman's communication at these headquarters, and which gives an entirely different account of the affair.
Captain Wilcox's report not being sufficiently specific, Major Heath, district inspector, was instructed while inspecting at Dakota to make some investigations in regard to the matter, with a view to get particulars. Major Heath's investigation progressed only so far as to get the statement of Captain Wilcox and some others at Dakota, when, finding it impracticable to go to Niobrara on account of the snow-storm, he returned home for the purpose of completing his inspection duties. A copy of his report* is herewith also furnished you for your further information. The general has delayed several days for you to get mustered into service, so as to send an officer to make these investigations who is not connected with the regiment to which the detachment at Niobrara belonged. Upon your return here you will make a special report to these headquarters.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEORGE S. HAMPTON,
HDQRS. DIST. OF MINN., DEPT. OF THE NORTHWEST, Saint Paul, Minn., January 15, 1864.
Lieutenant Colonel J. T. AVERILL,
Commanding Fort Ridgely:
COLONEL: Your dispatch of the 12th instant has been received at these headquarters, and General Sibley directs me to reply that, while he is well aware of the zeal and energy displayed by you and the command at Fort Ridgely, he cannot perceive any good reason