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On the Rio Grande border, troubles until quite lately have continued about the same as they have been for years past, and are incident to the character of the population on that border. The Rio Grande is about 1,600 miles in length from El Paso to its mouth and fordable at almost any place, and Mexicans and Indians committing depredations in Texas have every facility for escaping to the Mexican side. I think now that the Mexican Government is making nore exertion to suppress lawlessness then heretofore. If it does not succeed, I would recommend that Congress pass an act that, from and after a certain fixed time, if depredations in Texas are not discontinued, a force of troops be sent across at certain points and kept there until depredations entirely cease. The moral effect of such Congressional action would, in my opinion, prevent all future trouble.
The reports of the department commanders will furnish a full history of the Indian troubles in this division for the past year. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
P. H. SHERIDAN,
Lieutenant-General Commanding. Brig. Gen. E. D. TOWNSEND,
Adjutant-General of the Army, Washington, D. C.
2.-REPORT OF BRIGADIER-GENERAL JOHN POPE.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI,
Fort Leavenworth, Kans., October 4, 1878. COLONEL: I have the honor to submit, for the information of the division commander, the following report of affairs in this military department for the past year :
In general there has been peace with the Indians since my last report. The usual small difficulties with the Utes in Colorado and New Mexico, and the Apaches in the southern part of New Mexico, have continued to occur, but without any serious outbreak.
The Apaches, who broke away last year from the San Carlos Agency, in Arizona, and were recaptured by the troops from this department and kept as prisoners at the Cañada Alamosa, in New Mexico, are now in process of removal again to the San Carlos Agency. They have given no trouble since they have been recaptured, and I think will give none at the agency to which they are now en route.
The Jiccarilla Apaches have been removed from the section of country near Cimarron, New Mexico, to the Fort Stanton Agency, in Southern New Mexico. Whether they will remain there quietly, I cannot say, though in my opinion they will not. They naturally prefer the region they have always occupied, and the association with the Utes, of Colorado, with whom for generations they have been on intimate terms. The band of Utes with whom they have always lived, in the Cimarron region, have also been transferred to the Ute Agency in Southwest Colorado, so that east of Santa Fé there are now no Indians, the Utes being located in Southwest Colorado, and the Apaches in Southern New Mexico.
Of the Navajoes there is nothing to be said, except that they are quiet and peaceable, as they have been for years past.
The Indians around Forts Sill and Reno, in the Indian Territory, have
been generally quiet, though they have had a hard time. I have so frequently reported the facts as to the condition of these tribes (the Cheyennes and Arapahoes, the Kiowas and Comanches), that it seems unnecessary to repeat them in this report. I think there is constant likelihood of their breaking away from the reservations in a body, not for war but for food. These agencies are at remote points, and the communications with them from railroad lines are at times so difficult as to be well nigh impracticable. Unless large quantities of supplies are kept on hand to provide against such a contingency, there will certainly be suffering at times.
I do not regard as judicious the removal of the Kiowa and Comanche Agency from the vicinity of Fort Sill. While there, the presence of a large garrison, constantly on the alert, kept the Indians in order, and made unsafe for them any absence from their reservation. If the plan of removing the agency to a point thirty or forty miles distant be carried out, it will necessitate either an abandonment of the watch kept over the Indians or a transfer of the garrison of Sill to the new agency. Already the agent has applied for a company of cavalry for this agency, which, of course, is only the precursor of continued demands of the same kind, until all the troops at Sill are thus removed. Of course, this procedure will involve the military department of the government in large expense, which I believe to be unnecessary. I have no knowledge of the reasons which prompted this removal of the agency from a point carefully selected and occupied for many years, and to protect which, by controlling the Indians, a large military post has been established and kept up. I hope that good results may follow this expensive and apparently unnecessary change, but I do not believe it.
During last year about nine hundred Northern Cheyennes were sent to the Indian Territory, to join and live with the southern bands of these tribes. They came here fully armed and mounted. I had ordered that they be dismounted and disarmed, so as to place them on the same footing with the Southern Cheyennes with whom they were to live, but I ascertained from the statement of Colonel Mackenzie that the agreement made with them in the Department of the Platte permitted them to retain arms and horses, and to take them away would be a breach of faith. Of course, it could not be done, and, as a natural result, a large part of them, tired of the reservation near Reno, and very insufficiently fed there, have broken away, and are now trying to make their way back to the north. Such cavalry as was at command at Reno and Supply was started after them, and is still in pursuit, having already had two skirmishes, with indecisive results. The absence of cavalry in this department is severely felt, and may make it impracticable to intercept these Indians.
I do not believe that they will kill any one or do any damage, except to kill what cattle they need for food on the way, unless, indeed, they are attacked, in which case they will fight, and fight hard, as they will never return to the agency on the Canadian and submit to such privations as they suffered there unless compelled by actual force which they cannot resist. I hope we shall be able to arrest them before they cross the Kansas Pacific Railroad, and every measure possible has been taken to do so.
I fear, however, the effect of this move upon the other Indians around Sill and Reno. They are much excited, and if this party succeed in getting through, it is very probable that it will be followed by large numbers. The commanding officers at both Sill and Reno are very anxious about the condition of these tribes, and cannot spare another man from
these posts, which are already insufficiently garrisoned to overlook and control the large number of Indians around them. I do not think that anything will obviate a general move (especially of the Cheyennes) except full and regular supplies for the Indians. Certainly every interest demands prompt and vigorous measures to prevent what would undoubtedly be a public misfortune.
Four hundred and thirty Nez Percé Indians, who surrendered after a severe fight in Montana, were sent here for safe-keeping, and remained here the whole of the past winter. In July they were turned over to the Indian Bureau and transported to the Indian Territory.
CONSOLIDATION OF THE UTE AGENCIES.
The Utes are established at several agencies in Southwestern Colorado, far distant from and very difficult of communication with each other. It is, therefore, extremely difficult to keep the emigrants protected against these Indians. It has long been my belief, and I have urged it upon the authorities, that every interest both of the Indian Bureau and War Department would be promoted by consolidating these several agencies into one, and establishing the consolidated agency at some convenient, suitable, and easily accessible locality.
If such location could be found so as to be, as far as practicable, to one side of the routes of travel into Southwestern Colorado, to which section a heavy emigration has been setting for several years, and at the same time embrace a section suitable for Indian occupation but presenting no attractions to miners or prospectors for gold, and the Indians could be transferred to it and kept there by the use of mixed persuasion and force, a satisfactory settlement of difficulties with the Utes would be accomplished. I recommended the valleys of the West Fork of the Chama and of the Navajo River, for reasons given in full in letter dated February 21, 1878. It was determined to make such consolidation; and an act of Congress was passed accordingly, but, unfortunately, one provision of the act required that the consolidated agency should be located in the northern part of Colorado, on White River. This place is so remote and so difficult of access as to make the establishment and maintenance of a military post there very expensive, and the supply of the Indians very precarious, and at times impracticable. It is 200 miles by mountain roads from the nearest point of a railroad, and the climate is so severe that for months the mountain roads are impassable from snow.
It would be very difficult indeed to keep a military post of suitable strength supplied at such a place, and, I believe, entirely impracticable to keep the Indians supplied. I do not in the least believe that the Utes will consent to go to White River under any circumstances, except the actual use of military force, and that negotiation with them for such a purpose must fail. A commission has been sent to treat with them for the purpose, and is still engaged in the work, but I do not myself believe that any satisfactory result will be reached. I do believe, however, that the Utes will be willing, under fair conditions, to remove to the Valleys of the Chama and Navajo, and that they may so signify to this commission. If so, I trust that some arrangement may be made by which this removal can be accomplished. The place specified (the Chama and Navajo Valleys) is seventy-eight miles only from the present terminus of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad at Alamosa, and the road to it is now being put in order. With these agencies thus consolidated, the site of a military post to cover the country can be easily determined. Until this consolidation is made, no site can be selected to fultill the necessary
conditions which will not involve large expense and little security. In short, for this consolidated agency and military post, the White River offers the minimum of good with the maximum of expense.
AFFAIRS ON THE MEXICAN FRONTIER.
In November of last year a controversy of long standing, concerning the proprietorship of certain salt lakes in the State of Texas, reached a violent crisis, in the course of which Mr. Cardis was killed at El Paso, Texas, by Judge Howard, and the latter, with a party of Texas militia, was subsequently besieged and captured by a mob at San Elizario, Texas, and he and several other persons taken out and shot to death. In this affair many citizens of Mexico, from the opposite side of the Rio Grande, were participants, giving the transaction the appearance of an international difficulty. For several days the towns of Ysleta and San Elizario, Texas, were in the hands of the mob, but troops were hurried from posts in New Mexico to the disturbed district, and, on their arrival, occupied both places without molestation and restored quiet, which has since been maintained unbroken. It is not necessary to recount this affair in detail, as a board of officers and citizens was organized to examine into it and did so. This board has fully reported all the facts to the War Department. I therefore content myself with inclosing herewith such official papers as emanated from or were received by me in that relation. A force of four companies has been placed at El Paso, and will be maintained there to insure that there shall be no more rioting or mob violence in which the citizens of Mexico are participants. With civil disturbances which are confined to citizens of Texas, whether of Mexican or American origin, the military authorities have no right to interfere and will not interfere, except in obedience to orders from higher authority than the department commander.
CIVIL DISTURBANCES IN LINCOLN COUNTY, NEW MEXICO. The county of Lincoln, New Mexico, has for twelve months past been in a state of anarchy. Lawlessness and murder have run riot in it, and there has not been, and is not now, any civil or other power in New Mexico able to restore order, except the United States military authorities. I have sent from time to time reports of the commanding officers of Fort Stanton giving a very complete history of a reign of lawlessness and outrage unparalleled in our history. I believe that Governor Axtell, of New Mexico, has done everything in his power to restore order and to enforce the laws, but neither he nor any other civil governor in that Territory is able, in my opinion, to do so with any means in his power to command. The United States military authorities are prohibited by law from assisting to keep the peace in any manner whatever, and have been compelled to stand by and see houses, containing women and children, attacked, and many people, and some of them undoubtedly persons innocent of any part or lot in these quarrels, killed or driven to seek refuge on the military reservation of Fort Stanton. The state of things existing in that county is disgraceful to civilization, and demands the exercise of stronger power than is lodged in the civil authorities of New Mexico.
I simply report these facts for the information of the government Having no power to defend any one-men, women, or children—against these outrages, I deem it at least within my province to inform those who have the power of a condition of affairs for which changes of civil functionaries are no remedy.
As fast as it is possible to do so, I am abandoning and preparing to abandon such posts as by the advance of settlements or the removal of Indians have become unnecessary for military purposes. The great trouble in carrying out this reduction of posts lies in the fact that the troops are needed in the sections of country where these posts are located, and that, except the posts, we have no shelter for them.
It is to be here remarked, and I invite especial attention to it, that so long as the large number of comparatively wild Indians are massed in the western part of the Indian Territory, at the Cheyenne and Apache and the Kiowa and Comanche agencies, the settlements of Northern Texas and of Southern and Western Kansas are in more or less danger. Unless troops in adequate force are kept with these Indians, every day incurs its risk that they may break away in bodies smaller or larger, and of course, if they do so, the settlements I have referred to are for a time at their mercy.
We have so small a force in the Indian Territory that it is dangerous to send off any part of it in pursuit of any body of Indians who choose to leave, lest a large part of those left depart also. The only safety is completely to disarm and dismount the Indians, and to feed them fully. No arms or ammunition should be allowed them under any circumstances. If they are left with the means to go to war, as is the custom, we simply sleep on a volcano.
Unless, therefore, ample and, above all, regular supplies of food can be guaranteed to the Indians, Í am compelled, in justice to the government and the frontier settlers, to ask that more troops be sent to the agencies in the Indian Territory, and that at least two of the posts in Western Kansas be largely re-enforced by cavalry. I have also to ask, as a necessary measure, that any Indians sent from the north into this department be disarmed and dismounted before being brought here, so that they can be placed in the same condition as the Indians with whom they are to live. I have not the military force to control, in addition to the Indians I already have, large bodies of lately hostile Indians, fully armed and equipped for war.
The troops in this department are, in general, in excellent condition.
There are some regiments which, for years, have been scattered about at small posts on the extreme frontier, whose discipline and condition would be greatly improved by changes of station, so as to concentrate the regiments as much as practicable; but I fear such changes are not now practicable, on account of insufficient appropriations.
DISTRICT OF NEW MEXICO.
I desire, especially, to invite the attention of the division commander to the efficient and satisfactory manner in which the affairs of this district have been conducted by Col. Edward Hatch, commanding. To his zeal, intelligence, and activity most of the quiet in that district has been due. By his prompt and energetic movements he has saved the government and the people of Colorado and New Mexico from serious Indian outbreaks, and has made such use of the small and widely-scattered forces under his command as to do the greatest good, to a degree far beyond what could have been expected with the means at his command.