10 April 2020

“Too Many Men” [guest post by Edward Fox, 10 April 1873]

[From the New York Herald, 1873; stories by Edward Fox]
e are still waiting patiently for the Indians to come in, and the Peace Commissioners continue hopeful of a successful termination to their labors.  They sent a message to-day to Captain Jack to the effect that if the Modocs surrendered to the Peace Commission they would be take by them to Yreka or some convenient spot and taken care of until they decided upon their future home, which would be selected according to their views.
As Captain Jack had sent out word that if the soldiers went away they would come out, General Gillem sent him back word that the soldiers would not go away until they took Jack and his party with them.
Donald McKye and seventy Warm Spring Indians are expected at Colonel Mason’s camp to-morrow.
Major Biddle, late Captain of the First cavalry, will leave in a few days for Kansas to join his new regiment, the Sixth cavalry.
Another week will probably settle this Modoc difficulty.

t is now nearly two months since a Peace Commission arrived in this section of the country, armed with full power to treat with Captain Jack and his tribe, and nothing as yet has been accomplished. Time may be of no account to the Peace Commissioner, drawing twenty dollars per diem for his services, but the Indian Bureau should certainly have a little consideration for the public purse in their endeavors to carry out and establish the moral suasion theory as the infallible cure for fractious Indians.
I have now been long enough among these Indians to gain some insight into their personal character, and believe them to be a fearless, brave set of men. I am satisfied that they do not want to fight any more, and that, eventually, when moral suasion has failed and the force of arms succeeded, they will accept the proffered terms and go to a home on some distant reservation. In their present position they occupy the stand of victors, and, judging from the tone of the communications that have passed between Captain Jack and the Peace Commissioners, the former is evidently impressed with that belief, and prefers dictating to accepting. For the past two months they have been treated as if the United States government was afraid of them, and, flushed with their victory of the 17th of January, nothing but the force of arms can make them leave the home of their childhood.
If immediately after that fight the troops had come into camp where they now are and commenced a regular siege of the Modoc stronghold the Indians might have been disposed to accept terms and the trouble settled in a few days. Two months now have elapsed, during which time the Peace Commission have shown themselves afraid of the Indians. Tobacco has been given them, provisions have been given them, blankets have been given them. They have been petted and pampered, had every trifling wish granted, and yet people are astonished that they do not give up their old home and go to some distant country. Is it likely that a party of Indians, after just repulsing two or three hundred United States soldiers and knowing that there were six hundred more soldiers within twenty miles for the past two months, would give up what they fought for, especially when they found they could remain where they were and get provisions, blankets and tobacco for the asking?
The Peace Commissioners are perhaps not as much to blame for the prolonging of the war as are the authorities in Washington, who send such despatches as, “Hold on and make peace if it takes all Summer.” Such kind hearted doctrines may look very well in official reports and are probably read with pride by the members of societies for providing the aborigines with clothing. Though on the face they seem sentiments of humanity, and may occasionally meet with success for the time being, they ultimately are cruel.
In this instance, if these Indians were allowed to remain where they are, and the troops withdrawn, the country would flow with blood before another thirty days. The Indians would have to live, to live they would have to steal cattle, to steal cattle they would have to fight, and soon fresh outcries and complaints would pour into Washington, muttering dark tales of murdered settlers and Indian outrages. It is also highly probable that such submission on the part of the government to a tribe of rebellious Indians would tend to increase the discontent already brewing among the Snakes and Piutes. The fact that forty or fifty Indians had repulsed two or three hundred soldiers has already had a marked effect upon the untutored savage, and the additional news that the United States government in their magnanimity have decided to give these same victorious Indians the land they asked and take their licking in good grace will also be appreciated by the sagacious Lo! [see Note]
I do not feel bloodthirsty towards these Indians, but I am certain it is expedient that they should receive a slight idea of the power of the government before they are embraced and loaded down with its gifts. If they are to know it as a government that can give, they should also know it as a government that is not afraid of Indians and can punish them when they deem it necessary. An air of insolence has pervaded the whole of these Indians ever since the last fight, that requires checking, and I have myself heard them say that one Modoc in the rocks can kill twenty soldiers.
Last Monday week [31 March] the whole command left Van Bremer’s ranch, and after a march of about twelve miles, encamped for the night on the shores of Little Klamath Lake.  Major Thomas with the mortars, and Lieutenant Miller, with a detachment of the First cavalry, remained at Van Bremer’s a few days longer. Early Tuesday morning the march was resumed, and before one P.M. the entire command, baggage train and all, had arrived at the top of the cliffs. The troops then moved down the hill and took possession of our present camp [see Note], which is situated on the shore of Tule Lake, on the western edge of the lava beds, and about two and a half miles from Captain Jack’s stronghold. The baggage was taken off the wagons at the top of the hill and packed down on mules. For the past week the mules have been hard at work packing stores down the hill, and we have at last succeeded in getting things pretty comfortable. If we are to remain here all Summer talking to Indians we might have struck a worse place than Tule Lake, as “barring” the scorpions, rattlesnakes and a rather high wind, it is not a bad kind of place.
Talking about the duration of this trouble, the following lines, written on the Florida war [see Note], are decidedly appropriate:—
Ever since the creation,
By the best calculation,
            The Florida war has been raging;
And ’tis our expectation
That the last conflagration
            Will find us the same contest raging.
And yet, ’tis not an endless war,
            As facts will plainly show,
Having been “ended” forty times
            In twenty months or so.
Sam Jones! Sam Jones! thou great unwhipped,
            Thou makest a world of bother;
Indeed we quite suspect thou art
            One Davy Jones’ brother.
“The war is ended,” comes the news,
            “We caught them in our gin;
The war is ended, past a doubt,
            Sam Jones has just come in!”
But, hark! next day the tune we change,
            And sing a counter strain;
“The war’s not ended;” for behold!
            Sam Jones is out again.
And, ever and anon we hear
            Proclaimed, in cheering tones,
“Our General’s had”—a battle?—no,
            A “talk with Samuel Jones!”
For aught we see, while ocean rolls
(As tho’ these crafty Seminoles
            Were doubly nerved and sinewed),
Nor art nor force can e’er avail,
But like some modern premium tale,
            The war’s “to be continued.”
We have now quite an extensive camp, and, looking from the bluffs above, it presents quite an imposing appearance. Major Thomas arrived on Friday with the mortars and also another battery of the Fourth artillery, with Lieutenants Harris and Howe. Captain Johnson, of the Twenty-first infantry, also arrived and left next day under orders for Fort Klamath. The past week has been devoted to Indian negotiations between the Peace Commissioners and the Modocs.
There have been several protracted powwows, in which Captain Jack and his counsellors have done some rather tall talking, relating their story to the disciples of peace. In every instance the Peace Commissioners have gone to the place designated by Captain Jack, and on one occasion General Canby sat in it open during a heavy storm of snow and sleet, listening to the speeches of Jack and Schonchin. It is certainly very kind of the commander of the Department of the Columbia to give way to the whims of an insolent Indian; but I am afraid such condescension is not appreciated by the savage, and the motive misconstrued. The “talks” have resulted in Captain Jack giving up all claim to the Lost River land; but as yet he declines to leave this section of the country, and offers to remain where he is and fight no more if the soldiers are removed.
Although Captain Jack declines to visit our camp there are others of the tribe who come in and out nearly every day. Boston Charley and Bogus Charley are constant visitors, and the [women] Mary, Ketcham, Limpey and Mrs. Shack Nasty have been in several times. Mary asked General Canby one day for some hard bread, and the kind-hearted old gentleman gave her an order for twenty pounds. She came back presently and said it was not enough, and the General then told them to give her the rest of the box, amounting to about eighty or ninety pounds. These provisions were then carried off to feed the hungry braves in Captain Jack’s camp. Bogus and Boston rarely go back empty handed, and generally return carrying a large bag of provisions and several blankets, the gifts of the Peace Commission.
The [Modoc women] also brought in several bags of feathers the other day, which they traded to the sutler for provisions and clothing. Speaking of the presents to the Indians, the Peace Commission have, during the past six weeks, given them a large quantity of tobacco, which they obtained from the Quartermaster on order of General Gillem. This generosity to the Indians has resulted in depriving the enlisted soldier of his usual quantum of the fragrant leaf, unless he can afford to pay the Sutler $1.50 per pound for the luxury. I have only mentioned this “gift enterprise” in order to show the policy that has been adopted to pacify a rebellious and insolent tribe of Indians, holding a United States army in check.
Bogus Charley has had quite a pleasant time on the occasion of his visits to camp, and on several occasions returned to his dusky friends much impressed with the genius of the pale face. On one occasion he was shown some of the shells belonging to the mortars, and on seeing them immediately exclaimed, “Must take mighty long gun to shoot.” He got badly scared last Sunday by an officer here who has seen considerable Indian service and carries a glass eye as a memento of one of his red skin fights. Bogus was looking at him with evident curiosity, when the officer beckoned him on one side and asked him if he ever saw a “San Francisco eye.” Bogus answering “no” the officer immediately whipped his out, and, after showing it on the palm of his hand, returned it, saying, “Heap good eye, you shoot that; send to San Francisco and get another.” This feat so impressed Bogus with the supernatural power of the officer that he said, “Indian no shoot you,” and immediately left him.
Major Mason moved his camp on Monday to Hospital Rock, a spot about a mile and a half to the eastward of Captain Jack’s cave, and the signal service operate daily between the east and west camps. The other day when Bogus was in camp he saw Lieutenant Adams swinging a signal flag and he asked General Gillem what it meant. The General told the inquisitive Indian that he was talking with the soldiers at the other camp. “What?” said Bogus, “talk over my house!” The General answered in the affirmative, and presently when Bogus asked for some tobacco, he was told that they had none, but they would tell them to send some from the other camp. Soon after, Bogus was shown the boat coming across the lake, and when it arrived he was taken to the water’s edge and saw the tobacco taken out. This feat of magic completely puzzled him and he was very anxious to go up, and as he said, “hear them talk,” but General Gillem would not let him go. One of the Modocs dropped down yesterday in their camp dead, and in the evening they told Biddle that he was killed by the “Long Talk on the hill.” They were also very anxious to know if the “Sunday man,” meaning Dr. Thomas, had not something to do with the “Long Talk.”
Boston Charley came in to-day and was sent back by the Peace Commissioners, with a proposition that Jack and his party should surrender to the Peace Commissioners and they would be taken care of and given a voice in the selection of their future home. As Captain Jack had sent out word that he would come out if all the soldiers went away, General Gillem sent him a message “That the soldiers would not come out until they took Jack and his party with them,” and he also added that if Jack came out and could not get his people to come with him, the soldiers would go in and make them come. There was a battalion drill to-day, and all the soldiers in camp were out. They presented quite a fine appearance, and rather astonished Boston Charley, who kept repeating “Too many men.”
I regret to have to announce the death of Assistant Surgeon McMillin, the chief medical officer of the Modoc expedition. Dr. McMillin was one of the most popular officers on the medical staff, and his death will be much lamented throughout the service.  He had been suffering from chills for three or four days, and died suddenly of heart complaint early Sunday morning [6 April]. At a meeting of the officers held the same afternoon the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:—
Whereas the Almighty has in his pleasure removed from among us our late companion and brother officer, Assistant Surgeon Thomas McMillin, United States Army Medical Director of expedition operating against Modoc Indians, who was endeared to us by his uniform kindness, amiability and many noble qualities; and whereas it has come lately to our belief that while suffering from a disease contracted from exposure in the service he has nobly and without hesitation performed all duty required of him, both in camp and in the field, and at last became its victim when in the face of the enemy; therefore, be it
Resolved, That while we deplore his early death, and look upon it as a great loss, not only to ourselves, but to the army at large and the profession of which he was a member and to which he was an ornament, we entertain the hope that his gain is beyond our ability to express.
Resolved, That we take this method to make known and extend our heartfelt sympathy to his family and relatives in their sad bereavement.
The remains of Dr. McMillin were sent to Yreka, en route for San Francisco, where they will be interred. Assistant Surgeon McElderry has been appointed Medical Director of the expedition, vice McMillin, deceased.
There is a probability of an adjustment of these difficulties, either by peace or war, in the course of a few days, as the Indians will have to do one thing or the other. General Gillem is perfectly prepared for action, and if the Indians do not give up pretty soon he will move camp to within about half a mile of their stronghold, and, with the aid of the Warm Spring Indians under Donald McKay, who will hold the rocks to the southward, commence to starve them out.
[Notes: Camp on Lava Beds: a.k.a. Lava Beds Camp; called “Gillem’s Camp” by the military. Lo!: Native Americans. The reference is to a phrase from Pope’s Essay on Man: “Lo, the poor Indian! whose untutored mind | Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind; | His soul proud science never taught to stray | Far as the solar walk or milky way; | Yet simple nature to his hope has giv’n, | Behind the cloud-topped hill, an humbler heav’n.” This use was common at the time. The Florida War: The reference here is to the Second Florida War of 1835-1842. This long-drawn-out war was fought to remove the Seminoles from the Florida swamps and ship them to Arkansas. Seminole resistance might not have been so determined if the government had not insisted on settling them among their long-time enemies, the Creeks, and upon reducing the black Seminoles to slavery. Sam Jones, referred to in the verse, was one of the Seminole leaders, also known as Arpeika. Canby had a minor rôle in the conflict, and supervised the transfer of one group of Seminoles from Florida to Indian Territory. The verse Fox quoted appeared in various papers in 1839, such as the Augusta Chronicle and Sentinel of 16 April.]

No comments:

Copyright © 2005-2021