HDQRS. DIST. OF MINNESOTA, DEPT. OF THE NORTHWEST, Saint Paul, Minn., November 22, 1864.
Major General JOHN POPE,
Commanding Department of the Northwest, Milwaukee, Wis.:
GENERAL: I have the honor to report the return to Fort Ridgely on the 18th instant of the detachment under Lieutenant McGrade, Second Minnesota Cavalry, dispatched to escort the train belonging to the U. S. Indian Department to the reservation on the Missouri River. The whole service was promptly and successfully performed, and lieutenant reports that no accident occurred, nor were any hostile Indians seen during the time consumed in making the journey.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. H. SIBLEY,
MILWAUKEE, WIS., November 22, 1864.
ASSISTANT ADJUTANT-GENERAL, DEPT. OF THE NORTHWEST:
SIR: At the request of the general commanding the department, I have the honor to make in writing my opinion in regard to Indian affairs in my district, the subject of a conversation I had with the general.
The Indians are anxious four peace. I think there will be no difficulty in making peace and of its being maintained, provided the proper course is adopted, and that is to treat the Indians in future with justice. Let them understand that the Government intends to see that they will no longer be the powers of an agent, through whose hands all moneys, provisions, &c., for the Indians pass, so that it may be seen every dollar appropriated for the Indians under his charge has been expended properly. To effect this, I would propose that a council of administration, composed of three general officers of the military post nearest to the money received and of goods and provisions, and their notes, and what the least two or three, so that there could be no chance of the Indian being charged double for what he bought, and that on no account should the trader be allowed to credit an Indian, except at his own risk, and not to receive pay from the Indians at the pay table. On my way down to Fort Randall this fall I met most of the Yankton Indians. They were in almost a starving condition. They were obliged to leave their agency and go north among the hostile bands to hunt this winter, they not having received their annuities this year. Many of these Indians I fear will join hostile bands, and the reports they will spread about the justice of the whites will do much to prevent a peaceful termination of the present difficulties. It will be impossible to maintain perfect peace in the country without keeping at a great expense large bodies of troops there until some steps are taken to regulate these abuses.
Our present system of treatment of the Indians has proved an expensive failure. I could see this many years ago, and every officer of the army who has been stationed in the Indian country can testify to this, and I would particularly mention in connection with this remark