concerning these matters. I claim that all belligerent forfeit life and property by the laws of war. A surrender by a foe entitles him only to such privileges as his associates accord to prisoners taken by them.
No confiscation act of Congress has relinquished or abrogated the laws of war relating to forfeitures, and claiming and reserving all these, I only relinquish according to the proclamation of the President or orders of my superiors. In my administrative duties I favor the determination of forfeitures by civil process, as provided by the confiscation act of Congress, but such determination are least successful when most needed, and I therefore claim, and sometimes exercise, the summary mode of military process. Hence, I claim that all property abandoned by rebel Indians becomes the property of the Government, and should be kept out of rebel recovery, and as far as possible should be collected and applied to public use. Cattle scattered over the country are being killed by the Osages for their hides, stolen or bought of fictitious owners and driven away by speculators, and in some instances by rebels. I directed that when convenient my troops should collect them and bring them within my lines, such as belonged to loyal Indians to be returned or paid for, the rest to be held to feed the refugees and soldiers, and the oxen to be broken and used in my trains, such, ponies and young cattle as are not fit for use, but the property of rebels, to be turned over, according to recent orders, to the agents of the Treasury Department to be sold. I want the cattle collected and safe within our lines, because running at large, remote from our settlements, they are convenient for rebels who will make the country a place for bushwhackers to assemble and make raids on the settlements.
In all this I desire the cooperation cordials of your commissioners and officers, and therefore I am glad of this opportunity to give you as full intelligence of my operations as I can consistent with my duties to the military branch of the service. As far as possible I prefer that your own Department may execute the measures of government appertaining to the Indians, and hope that I have not in the least trespassed on improper grounds. I understand the Osages, rebel and loyal, carry on a sort of intercourse with each other, which is dangerous to my command, and which I must try to check. These Indian seem to be considerably associated in trade and social intercourse with the rebel Osages of Red River.
I have learned they have a large number of ponies that may, by their intercourse with rebels, be got into rebel hands; and fearing this, as well as conceiving the propriety of mounting our loyal Indian troops, I have asked the privilege of having them bought at low rates (such as the Indians now sell for) for the use of the Government service. Ponies inured to the climate and prairie grasses are about as good as any for frontier service. I am not yet instructed by the honorable Secretary of War, but it is a matter of interest to the Indians worthy of your favorable consideration, as the measure is designed to strengthen my forces that defend the Indian country, and also relates to the trade and occupation of this particular tribe or nation of Indians.
As my observations have been hasty, I have presented them more diffuse than you may desire or I would prefer; but knowing the frequent conflicts of the military and interior departments in these matters, when the two branches of the service are so intimately and