Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

a

embracing Minuesota, Montana, and Dakota, and also the Department of Texas.

Question. State whether you personally visited the posts and stations of the Army.

Answer. I visited all the posts in the Department of Dakota, and a large part of those in Texas.

Question. State whether your attention bas been directed to the question of a reduction in the number of posts.

Answer. Yes, sir. When I inspected the Department of Texas I particularly inquired into the location of the posts, the positions it was necessary to occupy in order to cover the frontier against the inroads of Indians; and in my report I made recommendations with reference to the location of troops, and the number of companies which it would be necessary to keep at each post.

Question. State whether you think that the number of posts in Texas can be reduced, or the number of troops at the posts. If any changes ought to be made, what do you think they ought to be!

Auswer. There are two lives of posts in Texas. One corers the frontier, and protects the settled portions of Texas, commencing on the Rio Grande, at Fort Brown, and extending up the river as far as the settlements go, then sweeping around in a semicircle toward Fort Sill, in the Indian Territory. That line of posts is inteuded to prevent the incursions of Indians into the settled parts of the State. There are one or two posts on this line which might perhaps be abandoned and located at other points, but I do not think that the number of posts can be materially changed. I made some recommendations with reference to the minimum amount of cavalry and of infantry that should be kept at each post. I recommended that one regiment of infantry might be dispensed with; that if it was needed elsewhere it could be taken away without injury to the service. The other line of posts extends on the stage-road running toward El Paso, from the settled portions of Texas. It is an eastern and western line. It leaves the frontier line of posts at about Fort Concho, and runs to the southern part of New Mexico across the Staked Plains, almost on the line proposed for the Southern Pacific Railroad. It is a live of posts that was established under the treaty with Mexico by which we agreed to prevent the Indians inaking incursions into Mexico. Fort Stocktou is one of the posts; the next beyond is Fort Davis, and the next Fort Quitman. I understand that we have since paid money to Mexico in order to relieve us from that treaty obligation, but still there is a considerable amount of travel over that road. General Reynolds encouraged it and sent military escorts with persons driving cattle by that route, and the posts bave been kept up since partly with a view of keeping open that line and partly from the knowledge that if the building of the Southern Pacific Railroad is pushed forward the posts would be needed there.

Question. So far as the settlements in Texas are concerned do these forts afford any protection ?

Answer. These posts do not.
Question. What posts do you enumerate under that clause ?

Answer. Leaving Fort Bliss, there would be Fort Quitman, Fort Davis, and Camp Stockton that do not cover the settlements.

Question. State the comparative expense of maintaining those posts, at Camp Stockton, Fort Davis, and Fort Quitman. Are they more or less expensive by reason of their remoteness?

Answer. They are more expensive than the posts nearer, because provisions have to be transported farther. In the north of Texas there are two important posts-Forts Richardson and Griffin-intended, in connection with Fort Sill, to guard that part of the State. An attempt to consolidate them and make one post take the place of the two has been made, but thus far, on account of the difficulties of the country, it has not been found possible. I think that in most cases serious difficulties would be found in changing or giving up established posts which have grown out of past necessities.

Question. Can troops operate almost as well from the present positions ! Answer. Yes; they accomplish the purpose had in view where they are.

Question. Going farther to the north, what do you think of the posts in Kansas?

Answer. I cannot speak in regard to them, because it requires a study of each particular post, and I have not been there. I do not know the country sufficiently, and do not know why the posts were located where they are or why they are kept there. With reference to the posts in the Department of Dakota, the necessity for a great number of them arises from the vastness of the country. I do not think that a person who has not gone over that country can form any adequate idea of its great extent. From Fort Benton to Sioux City by the river is two thousand one hundred miles. The first post you arrive at, coming down the river, is Fort Buford, at a distance of some seven hundred miles. The river is comparatively safe in that portion of it, because the Indians there are not very bad. High up the river are the Crows, who are always considered friendly to the wbites. Lower down are the Mandans and other tribes that are partially friendly. The Sioux go occasionally into that country, but not to any great extent. Their habitual place of resort is on the Missouri, below the Yellowstone, and when they make expeditions for war or hunting they generally go out south of the Yel. lowstone, although occasionally they do go up the river. For this reason no posts are regarded as necessary until you get to Fort Buford. There is now a project, however, got up by transportation people and by the people of Montana, to establish a line of boats from the end of the railroad at Bismarck to the mouth of the Mussel Shell, and to haul goods thence overland about two hundred miles, to the settlements in Montana. If that is done it will make a post necessary at the mouth of the Mussel Shell, and possibly other posts.

Question. Who is demanding this!

Answer. Some of the transportation people; and I presume they are connected with the Northeru Pacific Railroad Company. I presume that the object is to make more business for their road, so as to make the portion already finished pay expenses.

Mr. HAWLEY, of Connecticut. Is not the Missouri River the Indian frontier, and is there any necessity for military posts east of the Missouri River ?

General BAIRD. Yes, it is; leaving Fort Buford, the western side of the Missouri River is occupied by the Sioux, who are exceedingly hostile, on that bank of the river. Some of them occasionally cross over to the eastern side of the river, and there they are comparatively friendly; that is to say, at times they would not kill a white man if met on the east side of the river, and they certainly would do so if they encountered him on the west side. The posts from Buford down are located at points near where the Indians reside, near the Indian agencies, and at other places where it is necessary to supervise and overawe the Indians. I do not think that the number of posts along the Missouri River can be materially changed. Going east of the Missouri River there are several posts on the border of Minnesota and Dakota, one or two of which are necessary. Fort Totten is a necessary post. It has been occupied by two companies of infantry; but during the present winter they had to make room there fortwo companies of cavalry in addition that had made part of General Stanley's expedi. tion in the summer. There is a little reservation of friendly Indians near by, and the object of establishing the post was to keep these friendly Indians from communicating with the hostile Indians. They are all Sious, but tbese are domesticated Sioux. It is much the same thing at Fort Wadsworth. This post is quite near to the settlements, but there is an Indian reservation in the vicinity. Fort Ransom, marked on the map, is already abandoned, I believe. Fort Seward, on the North Pacific Railroad, is still of temporary utility, but may soon be abandoned.

By the CHAIRMAN :
Question. Is there any danger there from the Indians ?

Answer. No; I think not. It is possible that the Indians might raid upon the settlers there, but not probable. In winter it seems to be necessary to keep a body of men at Fort Seward, so as to be able to communicate with the other posts.

Question. Is Fort Snelling necessary!
Answer. I think not.
Question. Is Fort Ridgely necessary!

Answer. That is abaudoned. Fort Abercrombie was necessary two or three years ago, but it is not necessary any longer, except to shelter teams and men during the winter. Further than that, it is of no use whatever.

Question. Would you make the same statement about Fort Snelling?
Answer. That is my judgment.
Question. What would you say of Pembina?

Answer. I do not think that Pembina was necessary when it was built.

Question. IIow many men can take care of such forts as may be necessary for store-houses and for the protection of men and animals in the winter-how many men can take care of them in the summer?

Answer. A very few men-ten or a dozen, perhaps.

Question. Are these posts in such condition as that they need extensive repairs, looking to the short time that they can be used !

Answer. I think not. These posts were built of very poor materials. They do not last very long. Fort Snelling is a permanent post, and is the headquarters of a regiment, but of course the military is of no more use there than a post at Indianapolis would be. Three or four men would be all that would be needed to keep the place in order.

Question. What have you to say about those posts in Western Montana, about the head-waters of the Missouri River ? Can any of them be dispensed with! Answer. I think one might-Fort Benton.

By Mr. HAWLEY, of Connecticut: Question. You spoke of Pembina not being needed when it was built. Are there not liable to be border disturbances occasionally, and is not a military force necessary there as a police force ?

Answer. That is true. The recent political troubles that have arisen on the other side of the line, and the arrest of some of our people, would show that. This commission can appreciate as fully as a soldier the necessity of a force for such a purpose. When you get into Montana, on the head-waters of the Missouri and on the Yellowstone, there is an

other frontier on the west of the Indians. The Crow Indians are in that region, and they are friendly; but at the same time they will steal, and if they catch a man out by himself they will amuse themselves by taking his scalp, as any Indian will. As a general rule, however, they are friendly. There are also Indians who cross the mountains from the west and come to the plains on the Missouri to hunt during the summer. As they pass down they usually try to steal horses to hunt with, and that brings on collisions between them and the miners, and the troops are kept there pretty much to prevent difficulties of that kind. Camp Baker, just east of the Belt Mountains, was intended to protect the miners in several gulches of the Belt Mountains. The outlook of these gulches would be thirty or forty miles apart; but this one post on the plains was intended to watch over those gulches. North of Fort Shaw are the Piegans and Bloods, the Indians that Baker had his fight with. They are all Blood-Indians, and that post is intended to keep them in check. It is a very important post-a large one. Then there is Fort Benton, at the head of navigation on the Missouri. That is about sixty miles from Fort Shaw. There is a difference of opinion as to the necessity for it. They have only kept one company there to guard stores landed from steamboats. They are a pretty lawless set of people there, but I do not think that Fort Benton is necessary. The only re maining post is Fort Ellis, which is farther south and just near the settlements in Bozeman Valley. It is quite an important post. I think that in a short time, particularly if the railroad progresses, it will be moved a little farther east, over the mountains. It is a cavalry post, and controls the Upper Yellowstone.

The CHAIRMAN. Coming farther south, into Wyoming, what would you say about those posts?

General BAIRD. I do not understand those posts so well. I never belonged to that department. It has been thought very desirable by General Sheridan and other officers to have a large increase of the cavalry force at Fort Ellis. He would like to put a whole regiment there, but the cavalry cannot be spared from other quarters.

By Mr. ALBRIGHT:

Question. What is the condition of Fort Benton as to repair?

Answer. The fort itself is an old fur-trading establishment, which we purchased about five or six years ago. It was about tumbling down then. It is a miserable set of old buildings and hardly fit for occupancy now and was not when it was purchased. It was bought for a very small sum.

Question. Is it not calculated to endanger the health and life of the troops, if not put in better condition?

Answer. I do not know that their lives and health are in danger, but it is a very miserable and uncomfortable old rookery. I do not think it worth spending any money upon for repair.

By the CHAIRMAN:

Question. State whether these troops can be concentrated at fewer posts.

Answer. The establishment of these posts usually arises from the necessity of having a force at a particular point. Generally it makes no difference whether there are two companies at a post or a whole regiment. The object is simply to occupy that spot of ground. A regiment of troops at one of those posts, (if it is dismounted,) has no more effect a hundred miles off than a force in Chicago would have in controlling Indian

apolis. These positions have been chosen with a good deal of care and as the result of experience. I think that all the officers of the Army-certainly from the colonels down-would be very glad to have all the troops concentrated in large posts. They desire this very much, and urge it; but the Army being small, it becomes necessary to divide up the troops into these little posts, which injures very much the efficiency and discipline of the regiments. But as we cannot do otherwise with the small force that we have, I do not think that the number of posts can be materially diminished. I believe that the generals who have charge of departments and divisions in certain portions of the Territory are dis posed to concentrate as much as possible.

JANUARY 21, 1874.

Examination of the witness was continued as follows:

By the CHAIRMAN:

Question. State the condition of the Indian tribes in the neighborhood of the posts you have visited as to their friendliness or unfriendli ness, or a disposition of mischief toward the whites.

Answer. Nearly all the wild Sioux occupying the region on the Missouri River as far up as the Yellowstone, and wandering beyond it, are exceedingly hostile. The other Indians-the Piegans and Bloods-on the north, up the Missouri, are also hostile unless they are kept in restraint. The Crows on the Upper Yellowstone are called friendly; they are comparatively friendly.

Question. What proportion of their men do you regard as really hostile and mischievous?

Answer. They are all hostile, I think; but the older men would refrain from committing outrages from fear of bringing themselves into trouble. The young ones are not restrained by that feeling.

Question. Are the older men governed only by prudential reasons? Answer. Yes.

Question. And not by a spirit of friendliness?

Answer. O, no. The same is the case with reference to Indians who raid into Texas; they occupy the Indian Territory and wander into the staked plains. They are chiefly Kiowas, Cheyennes, Comanches, and Apaches.

Question. In view of that, you consider the presence of a considerable military force in each of these regions important and necessary ?

Answer. Absolutely necessary.

Question. Have you ever considered this subject with reference to the protection of any tribes of Indians as against the whites?

Answer. No; I have not considered it particularly in that light. Question. State whether, in your judgment, the Army, with advan tage to the country and to the service, or to either, can be diminished in number in any part of the military establishment.

Answer. The line of the Army might be reduced, perhaps, to some small amount, without immediate detriment; but my impression is that there would be no economy in it. It probably would have to be increased again in a short time; and it is not at all certain that all the troops we have are not needed now. If there is any reduction to be made I suppose it could better be made in one or two regiments of infantry than in any other part of the Army. I do not think that any portion of the cavalry could be spared.

« ZurückWeiter »