Question. What has been your means of information in regard to the condition of affairs in the Indian country, south and west of Arkansas?
Answer. In the spring and summer of 1862 I was engaged in making a reconnoisance or military survey of a part of the territory occupied by the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole Indians.
Question. What is the condition of the Indians and negroes there, more particularly the negroes?
Answer. At that time I think there were some 10,000 or 12,000 negroes in the five nations, embracing the tribes I mentioned in my last answer. Those negroes were held as slaves, and were the subjects of barter and sale as were the same class in the States of the south. The negroes of the Indian territory present a much lower type of intelligence, and a much lower moral status than the negroes of the southern States, for the reason that the negroes of the south have been constantly brought in contact with a higher class of intelligence than the negroes of the Indian territory. The latter class of negroes have acquired the thriftless habits of the Indians. But their condition was a happy one, in so far that they were very rarely overworked; but they lived in a state of extreme ignorance, almost barbarism.
Miscengenation was very rigidly prohibited by the laws of the several Indian tribes or nations. The punishment of an Indian in the Creek country for cohabiting with a negro woman, for the first offence was a certain number of stripes, and for the second offence the cutting off of the nose and ears; and the negro was punished with stripes.
There are schools in the Indian territories, supported by funds granted by the government of the United States, at which the children of Indians were and are educated; but no negroes or the children of negroes are permitted to enter those schools.
In the Cherokee country very nearly two-thirds of the population are of mixed blood - white and Indian - being one-half, one quarter, or one-eighth white blood. About one-third of the population are full-blooded Indians. The full-blood Indian gives no evidence of thrift or advancement. In my judgement no full-blood Indian has ever been thoroughly civilized, or can be.
There is a radical antagonism between the full-blood Indian and the half, quarter, or eighth blood. The antagonism is greater between them than that which exists between the full-blood Indian and the white man. The full-blood Indian does not trust the good faith of the mixed blood, and believes that he has degraded himself and his caste by the union with the white.
In the Choctaw nation, however, in spite of the severe laws against miscegenation, some of the chiefs are crossed with African blood. And in the Seminole nation several of the most prominent chiefs, the most distinguished in war and in council, were full-blood negroes. These Indians were in alliance with the late Confederate States during the late war.
Question. Of all the tribes you have mentioned?
Answer. Yes, sir; they entered into an alliance with the confederate authorities, which alliance was to be perpetual.
Question. Who was the diplomatic agent of the confederacy?
Answer. General Albert Pike, commissioner to all the tribes upon the borders, and subsequently brigadier general commanding the department of the Indian territories. Treaties were also concluded with the Caddo and Anodako Indians, with a portion of the Delawares, and with several bands of the Comanches. These treaties were to last "while water runs and grass grows."
Question. That is, perpetually?
Answer. Yes, sir. The Comanches were bound to neutrality simply - to bear arms neither against the sourth nor against the north. The Comanches occupied the western border of Texas, frequently extending their excursions into Texas, and sometimes across the Rio Grande into Mexico, and bands of the Comanches come down to the western borders of the Chickasaw country, in the Wichita mountain region.
The country of the Five Nations is exceedingly fertile, producing cotton, corn, wheat, and all the cereals in great perfection. It abounds with iron, lead, and copper, in their purest forms. There are also abundant oil springs everywhere in the Cherokee, Choctaw, and Chickasaw nations, which have never been worked.
But the chief occupation of these Indians is the rearing of horses and cattle. Comparatively but little attention has been paid to agriculture, except among the Cherokees, who are farthest advanced in civilization.
Question. What is the Indian population?
Answer. Not far from 70,000 to 90,000.
Question. Including all the tribes?
Answer. Yes, sir, the Five Nations.
Question. Are they warlike?
Answer. They are; their habits are martial, because they are engaged largely in hunting. But they did not prove very fromidable in the field against modern discipline, and the very large preponderance that artillery bears in the composition of armies at this day; but they rendered some service to the confederate authorities.
Question. About how many warriors did they furnish to the confederacy during the late war?
Answer. In July, 1861, under the command of Brigadier General Pike, they had in the field the largest organization that they had ever furnished - some 7,000 or 8,000 men.
Question. They furnished then about one-tenth of their entire number?
Answer. Yes, sir; all classes turned out.
Question. How were they armed?
Answer. With the ordinary hunting rifle, and with single and double-barrel shot-guns. Many of them, however,were subsequently armed with Enfield rifles.
Question. Did they use the bow and arrow and the tomahawk at all?
Answer. No, sir; the Indians of the Five Nations have abandoned the use of the bow and arrow. In some few cases full-bloods use the bow and arrow; but those cases are very rare. A large number of the Comanches still use the bow and arrow, but they were not in the field in the confederate service.
Question. Were those Indian warriors employed in active operations against the United States?
Answer. A small portion of Cherokees were employed at the battle of Elk Horn, where they captured a battery, and subsequently, early in the fall of 1864, Indians were employed in the capture of a federal train, with its escort, on Cabin creek, in the Indian territory; and they were employed on the 18th of April, 1864, in the capture, at Poison Springs, Arkansas, of the train of General Steele, commanding that district.
Question. How did the Indians treat the Union prisoners who fell into their hands?
Answer. At Poison Springs it was found extremely difficult to control the Indians when the battle was over, though, upon the opening of the attack, they fell back in great confusion upon receiving a volley. The force that made the attack consisted of white and Indian troops; about 2,000 Indians of the extreme left. The Indians advanced on the left before the signal was given, and were met with a volley from the escort of the train, which caused them to fall back in disorder. They bore but a slight part in the battle, but, after it was over, they moved forward and began to kill the wounded who were chiefly blacks, for the escort of the train were black troops. The Indians were checked in this as soon as practicable, for they would have killed the confederate wounded with the same facility, in order to secure the spoils. Under the administration of General Pike, Indians were not permitted to maltreat prisoners; and in order to deprive them of any motive to maltreat and plunder prisoners, General Pike offered a considerable reward for every prisoner, man or woman, delivered to him by the Indians, which, in my judgement, saved many prisoners form slaughter at the hands of the Indians, as they brought them in and received the reward; and the prisoners were invariably treated kindly and sent beyond the confederate lines as soon as practicable. The Indians practiced cruelties upon the prisoners at Elk Horn, which was the subject of a correspondence between Major General Curtis, of the Union army, and General Pike. General Pike disclaimed authorizing such conduct, and took measures to discover the perpetrators of the crimes; measures, however, which were ineffectual. At the opening of hostilities the Cherokees were divided in sentiment; ultimately, however, about one-half went north, and the other half remained with the south.
Question. What is the state of feeling between the two classes of Indians?
Answer. Very hositle and bitter; very violent. In my judgment the difference is irreconcilable, as the Indian is a very hearty hater and never forgives. I have had opportunities of ascertaining this sentiment since the surrender, by conferring with exponents of both sides among these Indians.
Question. You think their hostility is irreconcilable?
Answer. Yes, sir. In my judgment it would be impracticable for them to reside in the same country together without a very large garrison to preserve the peace.
Question. Were these Indian warriors in the habit of torturing their prisoners after capture?
Answer. I have heard of a good many cases, and know of three cases of torture practiced upon whites; the others were practiced upon Indians. The Indians of the Cherokee nation that adhered to the government of the United States were termed Pin Indians; those that adhered to the south were termed the Sanduaitie party. When they take each other prisoners in battle they invariably subject them to torture, to the dislocation of limbs, the cutting off the joints, commencing with the fingers and toes, until the body is dismembered. That was practiced by the full-bloods, not by the mixed-bloods.
Question. Did they inflict these tortures upon white prisoners?
Answer. They did in the cases of three confederate soldiers that I know of.
Question. What do you think of the present feeling of those Indians, who served the confederate cause, towards the government of the United States?
Answer. I think that their feeling towards the government of the United States is very friendly, but it is exceedingly bitter against the late Confederate States, believing, as they do, that they were the victims of a fraud when they formed their alliance with the confederacy. In the cases of the Five Nations, there were no garrisons of the United States then occupying any portion of their territory. Under former treaties made by those nations with the government of the United States, it was provided that the United States should maintain garrisons in their respective territories to guard their Indian allies from marauding bands of whites and wild Indians. Claiming that those treaties had been violated by the withdrawal of those garrisons, the Indian nations felt themselves free to treat with what, to them, was ostensibly an established government upon their border, the Confederate States. They are now pacific and amicable in their disposition. The government of the United States never stood so high among the Indians of the border as it does to-day, because of the evidence of power it has given during the war. Prior to the war the borders of Texas were overrun by bands of Comanches. To-day, on the remotest borders of the west, the Comanche Indians tremble at the prospect of a war with the United States, and, for the first time, respect its flag. At present men are herding their stock upon the borders of Texas, in regions that six years ago were deserted because of the incursions of hostile Indians.
Question. You think there is little danger to be apprehended in the future from disturbances on the part of the Indians?
Answer. None. On the contrary, I think that a very efficeint force to check the wild tribes on the borders, should they at any time prove turbulent, could be drawn from the Five Nations and substituted for white troops.
Question. Do you think the employment of these Indians forces by the confederates was of any real advantage to the confederate cause?
Answer. It was a negative advantage, by preventing them from effecting an alliance with the government of the United States, and thus obviating the necessity of the confederate authorities keeping a large force upon the border of Texas to protect it - an advantage only so far as the alliance secured the peace of the Texas border as against these tribes. They were of but little positive value as soldiers in the field in confronting the forces of the United States, for they invariable met with disaster upon fair fields, and were only effective in following up victories, or in effecting an ambush. Their successes were very small during the war.
Question. They were wanting in steadiness?
Answer. Yes, sir; they are an unreliable, thriftless people. As sodiers, they come you know not when; they go you know not where. They are always in the wrong places precisely at the wrong times. But there are no secessionists among them now.
Question. Did they submit to military discipline with any alacrity?
Answer. No, sir; and they practiced the habit of leaving when they please, although in some cases they would get some of their friends or relations to take their places, without consulting their commanding officers. They would periodically disband and return to their homes with the view of putting in their corn crops, and then return to the army. Many millions of dollars were expended by the confederate authorities in arming and equipping these Indians, and in foraging and subsisting them. It was found impossible to induce them to serve as infantry. They were all cavalry, and very inferior cavalry, too.
Question. How are they as marksmen?
Answer. Very inferior. I never saw an Indian that was a good shot.
Question. Would they scalp their prisoners when they took any?
Answer. It was a point of honor among Indians never to scalp others of the same tribe, though they would practice upon them the most monstrous cruelties. Nor would they scalp a white man in the presence of a white man, because it is deemed a very grave insult. The Indian believes that the dead go to the happy hunting-ground as he leaves this world, and the body of a warrior is not complete without his scalp, his badge of honor. If his scalp is taken he will not be happy hereafter, because that symbol of his honor as a warrior is gone; and in their own tribe they do not extend their malice beyond the grave. The Indian resembles the white man chiefly in one very marked peculiarity of his character - his want of gratitude.
Question. Is there any gratitude in the Indian?
Answer. Very little.
Question. The general impression is that the Indian has rather a grateful heart for favors.
Answer. Those who have been upon the frontier will not indorse that opinion. To the white man the Indian shows but little gratitude. The wild Inidan deems every favor extended to him by a white man as but an evidence of fear or weakness.
Question. Have these Indians any well-defined ideas concerning property?
Answer. The mixed bloods have; but the idea of the full-blood Indian is a very ill-defined one. The ground over which he hunts is deemed to be his own. He has no idea of titles vesting by virtue of improving lands. The Indians of the Five Nations do not hold their lands in fee-simple; they are not allowed to dispose of their lands.
Question. How is the transfer of lands made?
Answer. A party is permitted to hold all the lands he improves and fences, without limitation as to the number of acres; and he can pass his title to the improvements, but not to the land itself.
Question. The title to the land itself remains in the nation?
Answer. Yes, sir. It is to be hoped that that system will not be continued, so that there may be an influx of white population in that region, in order to develop the mineral and agricultural resources of that country, which now lie dormant.
Report of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction of the First Session Thirty-Ninth Congress, Government Printing Office, Washington, 1866, Florida - Louisiana - Texas, pages 162-165.