War of the Rebellion: Serial 086 Page 1086 Chapter LIII. LOUISIANA AND THE TRANS-MISSISSIPPI

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Richmond, December 1, 1864

Honorable James A. Seddon,

Secretary of War:

SIR: I have just returned from the West where I have been for several months, having left Richmond for the purpose of visiting the Indians in the latter part of May last under orders from the War Department. This visit was the third which I have made to the Indian country since the organization of the Confederate Government, the first being made in the year 1862, and the second in the year 1863. The funds appropriated by Congress at its last session and its last session but one for the Indian service I took with me and disbursed according to the intention of that body in making such appropriations. While in the West I made a close examination, as was my duty, into the condition of the Indian country, and I discovered that many changes had been wrought therein since my visit last year, which will be understood by what follows. General Maxey, at whose headquarters in the Choctaw country I passed much of my time, was assigned to the command of the district of Indian Territory by General E. Kirby Smith on the 11th of December, 1863, and commenced the discharge of his duties as such on the 24th of the same month. He has long been acting on orders from General Smith as superintendent of Indian affairs. He had in the district while I was there a brigade of Texas troops commanded by Colonel Gano, two or three unattached battalions and companies of Texans, and the Indian forces under General Cooper. Attempts were then being made - since, no doubt, carried into effect - to get all the able-bodied young Indians to enter the service. It was proposed to organize them with the other Indian troops into three brigades, to be called the Cherokees, Chickasaws, and Osages, has been organized. The Creek brigade was about being so when I left, and the Choctaws anticipated no difficulty in being able to raise the number of men required to complete the organization of the Choctaw brigade.

In the capacity of the district commander, &c., General Maxey has attended to feeding the indigent refugee Indians of the various tribes within the limits of his command. The system of feeding the Indians out of the army commissariat was inaugurated, I believe, by General Hindman and it has been kept up to the present time. There was an urgent necessity for it at the time of its adoption, and indeed, such has been the case ever since, as no provision has been made to feed them in any other way, and a failure in this respect would not only have entailed much suffering upon these people, but absolute starvation upon many, and produced an amount of disaffection within the several nations and tribes which would in the end no doubt have forever lost the Indian country to the South.

In the beginning the task of feeding the indigent Indians was one of easy accomplishment, as the number requiring such Government aid were but few. Owing, however, to the occupation of the Cherokee country north of the Arkansas River, and the consequent insecurity of those portions of the Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole countries contiguous to the Arkansas River in the south, hundreds of families have been driven from their homes, and are now crowded in camps in the lower counties of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nation, generally in a state of great destitution. From papers furnished me by General Maxey I have ascertained that these indigent refugees at present amount to some 15,000 or 16,000. Of course the labor of feeding them, although they are located close to Red River, and within easy