A newspaper and the Washita campaign

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Emporia News Archives (from microfilm)


Emporia News, August 21, 1868.

We clip the following news from the Junction City Union of Saturday last.
We stop the press to record an Indian outbreak of a horrible character in the Solomon Valley. On Friday morning a party of Indians, supposed to be Arapahos, Kiowas, and Cheyennes, attacked the settlers. A man named Bogardus, and a Mr. Bell and his wife were killed. Mrs. Bell was shot through the breast, and afterward ravished by several Indians. Two children of Aaron Bell were carried off. A German was wounded; a boy named Hugett was wounded, and the Indians were chasing his father when last seen. Several men were followed into the brush by Indians, and supposed to be killed. Several women in the neighborhood were ravished. On Elkhorn, near Ellsworth, a few days previous, one young woman was ravished by twenty-two Indians, and the Surgeon at Fort Harker said she could not live. The difficulties on the Solomon occurred forty-five miles above the railroad. Governor Crawford went up this (Saturday) morning with arms and ammunition.
Gen. Grant has telegraphed the military along the road to demand the surrender of the murderers and captives immediately, and in case of refusal to attack the Indians all along the line.

We are not able as yet to give full particulars of the last Indian Raid. The first rumor of trouble was on Spellman's Creek, eighteen miles N. E. of Ellsworth, where a band of two or three hundred Indians made their appearance last Monday, where they caught and beat a Mr. Shaw and violated the person of Mrs. Shaw and her sister. They drove off the settlers and robbed them of their property on this creek and violated several women. Some of them were subjected to this ill treatment five or six hours.

The next news was that we printed in our last issue. Sunday night, dispatches were received that the Indians were within ten or fifteen miles of Salina and that the Governor with twenty men had been flanked and cut off. The inhabitants of Salina were up all Sunday night counseling together and making preparations to go out Monday morning. In the morning a courier came in saying that three or four hundred Kiowas had crossed the railroad track west of Salina, going towards the Republican, but at what point was not stated, and that the Governor was after them.

At ten o'clock yesterday morning T. H. Walker received a dispatch from Mr. Strickler, at Junction City, saying that the Indians were on a retreat with their plunder, that McAfee was at the front with supplies, and that Crawford was on the Saline.

We judge that about twelve persons were killed on the Solomon and six or eight on Asher Creek. We hope to receive full particulars tomorrow, and may learn something more before going to press. Topeka Record, Aug. 18.

LATER. The following is from the Topeka Record of the 19th.

Mr. McAfee returned from the West yesterday. He reports that two hundred families have left the scene of the late Indian fights, and that there is but one man left in a distance of 30 miles. The Indians were not known to attack anyone armed. They appeared simultaneously along the Valley for twenty miles in small squads. They robbed the settlers of all their horses and clothing, killed those they chose to, and mutilated others. All were armed with revolvers, just furnished them by the Government. It is not known that a single Indian was hurt. Forty families were in a stone pen in one place nearly naked, and the balance of the settlers of that whole region are at Solomon.

The troops stationed on the Little Arkansas, were called up to the Solomon on the first appearance of the Indians, leaving the Southwest unprotected. We shall not be disappointed if within the next two or three days we hear of similar outrages being committed on Walnut Creek and the settlers on the Little Arkansas.

We forbear saying what our feelings prompt us to at this time on the course of the United States Government with these Indians. If a similar course is to be followed up our people will protect themselvesif they have to fight United States troops to do it. Humanitarians may talk as they choose, self-preservation is the first law of nature, and we will stand by those who protect themselves, let the consequences be what they may.

Governor Crawford was on Fisher Creek on Monday and will probably soon be home.


Emporia News, September 11, 1868.

A Hays City dispatch to the Conservative says the Indians were reported to have made a dash on Fort Dodge early on the morning of the 3rd, killing four and wounding seventeen of the soldiers at the Fort, belonging to the 3rd U. S. infantry. They were driven off before any further damage was done. We have not learned how many Indians were killed or wounded.


Emporia News, October 30, 1868.


A dispatch from Ft. Wallace from Col. Carpenter, of the 10th cavalry, has the following information:

"Have just arrived at this place. On the 18th we were attacked by about four hundred Indians, on the Beaver, sixty miles east of Custer's trail, about seven o'clock a.m., and fought them until two p.m., when they withdrew with a loss of nine men killed, three of whom remained in our possession, four ponies, and a number wounded. We have three men wounded and have lost two horses in the fight. We did not succeed in finding the 5th cavalry.


Emporia News, December 4, 1868.


Battle between Custer's Seventh Cavalry and Cheyenne.

A dispatch from a special correspondent of the Leavenworth Conservative, dated "in the field, Indian Territory, November 28, 1868," gives an account of a considerable battle between the Cheyenne Indians under Black Kettle, and the Seventh Cavalry under command of General Custer, on the north fork of the Washita River, on the day before Black Kettle's village was captured.

One hundred and fifty Indians were killed, and the bodies left in our possession, and fifty-three taken prisoners.

An immense amount of property was captured and destroyed, consisting of fifty-one lodges, nearly 1,000 horses and mules, arrows, ammunition, horse equipments, robes, provisions, etc.

Capt. Louis Hamilton was killed in the first charge. Major Elliott is missing.

One man of the Seventh was killed and fourteen wounded.

The tribe is badly crippled. The Indians, including women and boys, fought with great desperation from the cover of bushes and grass, when driven out of the village.

Many of the wounded effected their escape.

The victory was complete, and will be a wholesome lesson to the Cheyennes.

Black Kettle, the principal Chief, was killed.

Brevet Lieut. Col. Barnitz was seriously, if not mortally, wounded.

It is reported here that Col. Crawford's regiment, the 19th Kansas, has been defeated by the Indians. It is only a war rumor.


Emporia News, December 25, 1868.


ST. LOUIS, Dec. 19. A letter from Gen. Sheridan, dated at the depot on North Canadian River, December 3rd, was received at Gen. Sherman's headquarters today.

It gives information derived from Black Kettle's sister, by Gen. Sheridan himself, in substance as follows.

The Indians were encampedfirst Black Kettle and other chiefs of the Cheyennes and a small party of Sioux, in all thirty-seven lodgeseight miles down the Wichita were all the Arapahos and seventy additional lodges of Cheyennes, also the Kiowas, Apaches, and Comanches. While thus encamped three war parties were sent out; one composed of Cheyennes, Kiowas, and Arapahos, went in the direction of Fort Larned, and were still out. Another party was composed of Cheyennes and Arapahos, and returned, the trail of which led Gen. Custer into Black Kettle's village. This party brought back three scalps, one of which was that of the express man killed and horribly mutilated between Dodge and Larned, just before Gen. Sheridan left the former fort. The mail he was carrying was found in Black Kettle's camp. The other party was a mixed one and went in the direction of Fort Lyon and is still out.

About the time the first of these parties started, Black Kettle and one sub-chief from each band went to Ft. Cobb and brought back provisions given them at that fort, and while they were gone, or about the time of their return, the last war party referred to was sent out.

The women are of the opinion that they will all sue for peace at Fort Cobb as the result of the battle with Custer. They would have gone to Gen. Sheridan's camp had not the opening at Cobb been held out to them.

Gen. Sheridan says: "I shall start for Fort Scott as soon as the trains from Fort Dodge arrive. Had it not been for the misfortune of the Kansas regiment getting lost and the heavy snow which rendered their horses unfit for duty, we would have closed up this job before this time. As it is, I think the fight is pretty well knocked out of the Cheyennes.

The Government makes a great mistake in giving these Indians any considerable amount of food under the supposition of necessity. The whole country is covered with game, and there are more buffalo than will last the Indians for twenty years, and the turkeys are so numerous that flocks of from one to two thousand have been seen; the country is full of grouse, quails, and rabbits; herds of antelope and deer are seen everywhere, and even run through Gen. Custer's train while on the march. The reservations laid for the Cheyennes and Arapahos are full of game and the most luxuriant grass.

Black Kettle's sister reports three white women in the lodges below Black Kettle's camp.

Another letter from Gen. Sheridan says the mules belonging to Clark's train, also photographs and other articles taken from the houses robbed on the Salina and Solomon Rivers in Kansas, last fall, were found in the Indian camp.

The Indian women prisoners say that most of the depredations along the line of the Arkansas were committed by the Cheyennes and Arapahos.


Emporia News, January 22, 1869.

CHICAGO, Jan. 16. Gen. Sheridan informs Gen. Sherman that the destruction of the Comanche village by Col. Evans gave the final blow to the backbone of the Indian rebellion. At midnight on the 31st of December a delegation of the chief men of the Arapahos and Cheyennes, twenty-one in number, arrived at Fort Cobb, begging peace. They report the tribes in mourning for their losses, their people starving, ponies dying, dogs all eaten up, no buffalo.

Gen. Sheridan further says: We had forced them into the canyons, on the eastern edge of the staked plains, where there was no small game or buffalo. They are in a bad fix, and surrender unconditionally. I acceded to their terms, and will punish them justly. I can scarcely make error in any punishment awarded, for all have blood upon their hands."

In the same dispatch Sheridan repels the charge of Col. Wynkoop that Black Kettle's band were peaceable Indians. He says the band were outside of their reservation, and some of Black Kettle's young men were out depredating when the village was captured. Much plunder from trains and from murdered couriers was found in the village, and other indubitable evidence that the band had been engaged in murders and outrages upon the whites.


Emporia News, January 22, 1869.


It is well known the Tribune has universally expressed its opposition to the sickly, sentimental, and humanitarian ideas that the Indians of the Kansas frontiers were unoffending creatures, who never did any wrong except upon deep provocation, or were at least more sinned against than sinning.

One of the most practical legislators from our frontier is Senator Mead, who resides in Butler County, and has since there was a settlement there at all. As a practical man of good ability, who had traded with the Indians, and had frequently been among themsometimes when they were "on the warpath," and under many embarrassing and dangerous circumstanceswe thought his suggestions would be worth ten-fold more than an editor's, who set in his sanctum, and got up theories and ideas when he had to write on something, and we were very much pleased to get his views in a short conversation.

Mr. Mead expresses regret that Black Kettle was killed, because, he says, he meant to be "a good Indian," though he never could control the war party of his tribe and the young men, and the party with whom he was killed were as hostile as Indians could be. His position among the savages was that of many of the rebels, who did not encourage the commencement of the war, but when war came, threw in their destinies with the party of war, and entered the rebel ranks. He would have been a poor general who would have called off the advancing hosts of the Union, because Alexander Stephens, who had opposed the war till it inaugurated, was among the men in arms. Sheridan never did that with a white foe, and he would have tarnished his name if he had done it with the redskins.

Mr. Mead don't sustain the idea that "it is cheaper to feed than to fight Indians." They are a band of robbers, and there is no more good sense in conciliating them by presents, than there would be in the action of a court which should discharge a thief and a murderer, and give him clothing and provisions for a year, with the hope that he would steal no more when his stock ran out. Presents are a premium for robbery and murder.

We sought this information, which was gained by experience, because we always felt that our position hardly warranted us in expression opinions with that confidence which should give them any weight. When men who are so familiar with Indian character that they can converse with nearly all the tribes of the plains, give their ideas, they are hard to gainsay. Intelligent border men everywhere are coming to the conclusion that there is no sure way of protection to the pioneers but by military surveillance and the lex talionis principle. Punishing, sure and severe, to Indians, is humanity to white men, and will be a saving, even of Indian blood, in the end. Lawrence Tribune.


Emporia News, February 12, 1869.


Latest advices from the Indian country state that Gen. G. A. Custer is just bringing the Indian difficulties to a close, not by pow-wows nor by treaties, but by holding Lone Wolf and Satanta, both chiefs of the Kiowas, as hostages, and telling them that unless the Kiowas are all in by a certain date they are to be hung; that they may be hung anyway, but their chances are better if the entire tribe comes in. He tells the Arapahos and Cheyennes, through some of their principal Chiefs, whom these tribes sent in yesterday under a flag of truce, that unless their people come in and give themselves up within two weeks, he will go to their camps and whip thunder out of them; that when they do come in (which they seem anxious to do) they must stay on their reservation, for if he has to come again after them, he will kill them all.

A letter to the Leavenworth Times & Conservative, contains the following:

"So far as I can learn, there is to be no treaty; they are told that they will be whipped if they do not do as they are told, and in my opinion the first issue to be made when the Indians are all in will be made by Gen. Custer, and that issue to the principals of the outrages committed on our frontier last fall; this will be a life annuity in the shape of "hemp," which you know was often used with great success during the early days of Kansas as a preventive against theft, robbery, and murder.

"Gen. Custer has the cue to the whole affair. The Indians have used all the treachery and cunning that they are masters of to effect the release of Satanta and Lone Wolf, yet they have not been able to flank the General in any of his plans. There is a permanency attached to every move he makes in the matter. No bragging, no lying has been resorted to, but a strong solution of powder and lead. Why, Mr. Editor, those who came in here yesterday to beg to be received were a lot of poor, half-starved creatures, their ponies were also starving, for the reason that since Gen. Custer took the field they have not had time to graze their ponies nor to kill meat for themselves. Their ponies are dying by the hundreds, and they are living on their dogs. They have been able to make but few robes; consequently, they are poorly clad. They have learned that the way of the transgressor is hard."


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