You will be successful. My plan, however, would be to keep these Indians under the care of officers of the Army, stationed in their country; that what is given them be given by these officers, and that all citizens, agents, and traders should while among them by subject to their (the officers) supervision and police regulations. In this way I have no doubt these Indians can be kept in their own country, their outrages stopped, and our overland routes kept safe. Now, not a train or coach of [any] kind can cross the plains in safety without being guarded, and I have over 3,000 miles of route to protect and guard. The statement that the Sand Creek affair was the first Indian aggression is a mistake. For months prior to that affair the Indians had been attacking our trains, posts, and ranches; had robbed the emigrants and murdered any party they considered to weak to defend themselves.
The theory that we cannot punish these Indians effectually, and that we must make or accept any kind of a peace in order to hold our overland routes, is not sustained by the facts, is singularly erroneous, and I cannot agree in it by any means. I have now seven different columns of troops penetrating their country in all directions, while at the same time I am holding the overland routes. This display of force alone will alarm and terrify them; will show them that we are in earnest, have the powder, and intend at all hazards to make them behave themselves. After we have taught them this they will sue for peace; then if the Government sees fit to indemnify them for any wrongs inflicted upon them, they will not charge it to our fears or inability to cope with them. The cost of carrying on this war with them is, to be sure, considerable, but the question arises, had we not better bear this cost now while the preparations are made and the force on hand ready to be thrown in such strength into their country as to make quick, effective, and final work of it than to suffer a continutrages for a long time and finally have to do the work at greater expense of blood and treasure? I have written You this frankly and truly, knowing that You want to get at the facts and do that which is for the best, and I am convinced that when You fully understand these matters You will agree with me. I shall be glad at any and all times to furnish You any information in my possession that You may desire, and I assure You I shall bend all my energies to the accomplishment of the great object in view and so much desired - a lasting and just peace with these Indians.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, Your obedient servant,
G. M. DODGE,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI,
Saint Louis, Mo., June 22, 1865.
Colonel D. F. THIELEMANN,
Assistant Engineer, Saint Louis, Mo.:
COLONEL: You will proceed in charge of the pontoon train to Omaha, and thence to Loup Fork River, across which stream it will be placed. The fifty army wagons after being used for transporting the bridge will be turned over to the quartermaster at Omaha, to be used by him as circumstances may require. The balance of transportation will be furnished by citizens of Omaha as agreed by them. Dr. George Miller and E. Creighton will no doubt consult with You in relation to this. If they should do so the assistant quartermaster at Omaha will provide