War of the Rebellion: Serial 102 Page 1153 Chapter LX. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. -UNION.

Search Civil War Official Records

which under the present system seems to be in my power. I will withdraw and muster out of service all the troops I possibly can from day to day, and by the close of this season I will endeavor to reduce to much less force the troops serving on the plains. It is proper for the of affairs on the plains, arising from the rapid development of the mining regions and the great emigration to and rapid settlement of the new Territories, a much larger force will for a long time be required in that region than we have heretofore considered necessary. The remote stations of these troops and the necessity of hauling in wagons from the Missouri River all supplies needed for them, renders the protection required and demanded by the mail service, the emigration, and the remote settlements an expensive undertaking, the propriety of which must be determined by the Government itself. The military commander ordered to furnish such protection has only to carry out his orders in the best and most economical manner. I trust I have no purpose except to perform my duty in this matter and in this manner. I have assigned Major-General Dodge, a well known and most efficient and careful officer, to the command of all operations in the Indian country west and south of the Missouri River, with orders to reduce forces and expenditures as rapidly as it is possible to do so. His subordinate commanders are men entirely familiar with Indians and Indian country.

In conclusion, I desire, if it be consistent with the public interests, to be informed upon two questions, in order that I may act with more full understanding of the purposes of the Government: first. Is it designed that such military pressure be kept upon the Indians that small parties of adventurers prospecting the plains and mountains in every direction, and in the most remote and uninhabited regions of the country, will be unmolested by Indians, whatever such parties may do or wherever they may go? I need not say that protection of so general and universal a character will require a large military force, which will be mainly needed to protect the Indians, by watching these white will be mainly needed to protect the Indians, by watching these white men and preventing them from committing acts for which the Indians will assuredly retaliate. Is the commander of this department responsible for hostile acts of Indians against such parties? Second. In case treaties of peace, such as have been usual, are made with the Indians by the proper officers of the Indian Department, and the troops withdrawn from the Indian country in accordance with such treaty, is the army commander to be held responsible if the Indians violate the treaty and renew the war? In short, is the army to be made responsible for every murder or outrage committed on the great plains by Indians or white men, who are officially at peace according to the records in the office of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs? When there is divided action, as is the case now in the management of Indian affairs, there should be divided responsibility. Army commanders are very willing to be held responsible for military operations under their immediate command, but they are not willing and ought not to be held responsible for breaches of treaties made by other departments of the Government which they did not approve, yet to terms of which they are obliged to conform. If these questions which are respectfully asked can be answered without iety the question of troops needed in the Indian country and attendant expenses can be easily settled.

I am, colonel, respectfully, Your obedient servant,


Major-General, Commanding.