desire probably more than you do. The Indiana at the fort and elsewhere appeared quite as well as I expected. I had already been mortified with propositions to muster out, reorganize, consolidate, and all sorts of devices, which seemed to me pernicious. A long letter of your had been passed round from one to another, every-body making heedless or immaterial suggestions, and I indorsed it back to you, with a request that you give concisely your view of the matter.
I also said, and my observations sanction my judgment, that we had better make the best of these men. I want more troops, and cannot see why we should dispense with any, yet I wanted to see and talk with you, for I know your personal identity with this class of forces would enable you to solve the question of mustering out, which some have urged on the Government.
I will not now consider that subject, so it is, at any rate, postponed for the present. They want to be mounted, but they abuse horses, and at present have nothing to feed them. That question also may be postponed. I feel some anxiety as to your safety. Even with Colonel Moonlight's additional force you must not venture far. You ought to have more artillery, which I cannot send you at present, for I do not yet know what portion of these troops are included in my command.
I hope to hear more from you before I leave here, but you can dispatch both by letter and telegraph, as circumstances require. I duly reported your skirmishing near the North Fork and the loss of 7 rebels and 1 of your scouts badly wounded.
Your dash down on the Republican had no doubt created a terror in rebel lines, and will perhaps bring some to terms; but we will have to make advance posts down there before those Indians will behave themselves. It will not do to offer terms of peace to rebels that imply a relinquishment of legitimate forfeitures. The Choctaw Nation has clearly forfeited all right of property in the vast domain we will have to protect, and I trust the President's terms of amnesty will not disregard belligerent rights so clearly acquired or so vast in value to our Government. As a department commander I wish to avoid any and all conclusions against our Government as to future rights of Indians who have made war upon us in their national capacity.
I want them distinctly to understand that what they hereafter receive is one the score of humanity and generosity, and I want the truly loyal to have preference when kindness is bestowed among them. I have been specially struck with the vast resources of the Indian Territories. In soil, climate, prairie, timber, coal, salt, and probably copper and lead, I know of no such country. For the Indian and humanity we should seek to apply these elements wisely, and in the convulsions of the times try to improve the political institutions of these Indian nations to their own good and the national prosperity.
I thank you, colonel, for you kind and cordial welcome to your command. It is a great source of pleasure to find the soldiers and people generally receive me with such kindness. My only desire has been and will be to prosecute the war to an early and solid peace which my secure the happiness and prosperity of future generations.
I am, colonel, truly, your friend,
S. R. CURTIS,