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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1863

Report of the commissioner of Indian affairs,   pp. [5]-40 PDF (14.2 MB)

Page 24

this department, or, so far as I am informed, authority from other sources,
military authorities assumed the control of the Indians, and late in the
fall, or 
early part of the winter, removed them to Neosho, Missouri. This movement
was unfortunate in conception and execution, the ostensible object being
return the fugitives to their homes. It not only failed in its object, but
added immensely to the already heavy expense of subsisting the Indians. 
Assurances were given that two armies-one to move from Springfield, Missouri,
under command of General Blunt, the other from Scott's Mills, under command
of Colonel Phillips-were about to march through the Cherokee country on 
their way to the southwest. Relying upon promises that the Indians should
not only be safely conducted to their country, but that a sufficient force
be stationed there for their protection while raising their crops, the Indians,
under charge of Agent Harlan, were furnished with agricultural implements
seeds, and in March last proceeded to Talequah, reaching that point at the
time with the military expedition under Colonel Phillips. 
They immediately scattered throughout the country, planted their crops, and'tT
had but fairly commenced their cultivation when the rebels made their appear-
ance in such force that they, as well as the troops under Colonel Phillips,
compelled to take refuge at Fort Gibson. Their numbers were now increased
to some six thousand by the addition of others, who, until then, had remained
at their homes, but were now compelled to flee, as the rebels overran the
country, seizing everything of value that could be found, and destroying
thing they could not convert to their own use. Thus this ill-advised and
unfortunate expedition terminated, leaving the Indians still more destitute
before, their high hopes again prostrated, and they compelled to spend another
season in want and idleness. They were now far removed from their source
supplies, which could only be furnished by transportation through a country
infested by guerillas and bushwhackers that nothing could reach them without
an escort of troops. This has more than doubled the expense of their subsist-
ence, and has exhausted the means at my disposal applicable to that purpose.
Unless a liberal appropriation shall be made for their relief at an "early
date by 
Congress at its approaching session, their sufferings during the coming winter
will be beyond the power of description, and many of them must perish of
posure and starvation. I trust that the urgent appeals in their behalf of
agent and the superintendent, to which I invite your especial attention,
will not 
pass unheeded. 
Something over three thousand of the Creek nation are now at the Sac and(
Fox reservation, in Kansas. As with the other refugees, so it is with these.
Their numbers are almost exclusively composed of women and children, nearly
every able-bodied man being in the Union army. In addition to the refugees
this point, there are very considerable numbers at Fort Gibson, who, at the
memorable and terrible flight of these people in the winter of 1861--'62,
left behind, and afterwards took refuge in the country of the Cherokees,
with them were subsequently compelled to flee for protection to Fort Gibson.
These people, prior to the rebellion, were second to no community west of

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