HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI, Fort Leavenworth, June 6, 1865.
Major General JOHN POPE,
Commanding Military Division of the Missouri:
GENERAL: You have been notified of the action of Major-General McCook, under the orders of the Congressional committee, in stopping the expedition of General Ford south of Arkansas, that they might confer and, if possible, make peace with the Arapahoes, Cheyennes, Comanches, Kiowa, &c. Colonel Leavenworth started south a week ago to bring the chiefs up to the mouth of Cow Creek, and while we are endeavoring to make terms with them their warriors are strung along the route from Zarah to Lyon, dashing in on any train that they find off its guard. They are in parties of from fifteen to fifty, and hide in the valleys and ravines. These Indians now have their villages at Fort Cobb, and have driven out all friendly Indians and traders, declarating that they mean war and nothing else. They are composed of one band of Arapahoes, led by Little Rover; one small band of Cheyennes, three bands of Apaches, a large body of Comanches, also the Southern Comanches, and all the Kiowas, and they have no respect for our authority or power, and I have no faith in any peace made by them until they are made to feel our strength. I do not believe it will be a month before we hear of large trains being captured or attacked by them in force. They notified Jesus, the Mexican trader sent in by General Carleton, to leave, and it is said they murdered Major Morrison, a trader permitted to go in by General Carleton. It appears to me bad policy to give permits to any of the traders to go among them to trade. Not one of them will act as guide to take a force toward them.
Colonel Leavenworth satisfied the committee, and I think General McCook also, that the Comanches and others had not committed any depredations. There is not an officer or trader who has been on the plains but knows they have been in all or nearly all the outrages committed. I desire very much to have peace with the Indians, but I do think we should punish them for what they have done, that they should feel our power and have some respect for us. My plan to reach them is to start in three columns for Forrst, by Major Merrill's route; second, by Captain Boone's route; and third, from mouth of Mulberry Creek, on Arkansas. Make the parties about 400 or 500 strong, and march direct for their villages. This will draw every warrior after us and leave the Santa Fe route free. When we got down there if the Indians are so anxious for peace they will have an opportunity to show it, and we can make an agreement with them that will stop hostilities until the properly authorized authorities conclude a lasting peace. I have attempted to get these expeditions off twice. The first they were stopped by General Halleck on Colonel Leavenworth's representations. He started to make peace; the Indians stole all his stock, and very nearly got his scalp. He came back for fight and wished to whip them, but has now changed again, and it is possible he may get the chiefs together, but I very much doubt it, and even if he does they will only represent a portion of each tribe. I have concluded, by representations of the Congressional committee made to General Ford, to wait and see the effects of Colonel Leavenworth's mission. I will have my troops at the designated points. If he should fail I will go forward and make the campaign as originally ordered. I desire to add that there is not a leading officer on the plains who has had any experience with Indians who has faith in peace made with any of these Indians unless they are punished for the murders,