Samuel Caldwell letter transcription
|Single letter from Mf 0054
Hugo, Monday 7th Oct, 1878
We have just been through an Indian scare and as the excitement has cooled down and the danger, if there was any, is all over, I will write you about it.
For several weeks the Cheyennes have been on the war path; commencing down on the Santa Fe road near Fort Dodge, they worked their way north to this road, the Kansas Pacific, crossing it near Fort Wallace; they committed their usual depredations, killing everyone they met and stealing all the horses. For a week there had been rumors that they were coming west along the K. P. A. R. [?] but they did not assume definite shape until Friday night when I was at Tucker's. About 8 o'clock on that evening a man came riding out from the Bend River to warn the ranchmen that the Indians were coming up Rush creek & would be through that section by the next morning; he advised Tucker to take his wife & children to the railroad without delay. There was mounting in hot haste; I jumped on a horse & spent two hours in a fruitless search on the open prairie for the team horses; I got lost but finally found my way back to the ranch. John then rode over to Brown & Dodd's nine miles off to warn them & to borrow a pair of their mules; he was gone until 4 o'clock in the morning; meantime I passed such a night as I never wish to again. I had a woman & three babies under my care & nothing to protect them with but a pocket pistol; I shall never come to this country again without a good rifle. Every noise was suspicious; every snort of my horse at the door brought me to my feet to look out. So the night passed with my nerves wrought to the very highest tension. We did not get started until five on Saturday morning & we then pushed thro' to this town with all possible speed; there was a thick fog, for which we were very grateful, for every shape that appeared in the dim morning light startled us.
We found that this town was evidently not so much alarmed as River Bend; the reports sent to the latter place were not credited here; but the Gov. had sent arms & ammunition here & they were all ready to repel an attack. Capt. Barron the oldest plainsman & Indian fighter in these parts said that we did just right and that he had sent his family to Denver, for he had had to many narrow escapes to take any risks; there might be nothing in it, but at the same time there was no telling where the Indians might turn up if the main band had split up as reported.
The foundation for the scare rested on the reports that the savages were at Carson forty miles east of here, and forty miles is a short day's ride for an "injun;" a man whom everyone considers reliable still insists that he was chased into that town & the railroad men claim to have seen them, but while these men may be perfectly honest in their reports, it is believed that their fears got away with them. A scout reported that he crossed their trail at the mouth of Rush creek, but is now believed to have been that of of a band of horses which has just passed here. It is certain that the main body has crossed the Union Pacific; if they are not driven back & if there are no wandering bands in the country we need have no apprehension.
The last Cheyenne raid through here was four years ago, when they came up Rush creek & crossed the Kansas Pacific about eight miles west of River Bend. People who have had their scalps in danger & their friends killed know of but one effectual solution of the Indian Question, that is, their utter extermination; in my opinion no Indian should be allowed to own a rifle; there is not sufficient game left to make it useful in that way so they amuse themselves periodically by shooting white men & their cattle. There can be but one opinion of an Indian policy that keeps them in a chronic state of discontent which finally culminates in desperate attempts to return to their original independent state. It is all well enough for bald-headed gentlemen in the States to sit by their firesides & moralize on a peace policy, but their views would change radically if they were "turned loose" out here when the noble red man was on the warpath; it would be a most convincing argument.
The Indians are cheated & robbed & then supplied with the finest rifles in the world & plenty of ammunition with which to practise on unsuspecting settlers & their families.
The Indian is a savage brute & delights in the most fiendish cruelty which he practices with a devilish ingenuity which a civilized being can hardly imagine.
The army or rather its management is very severely condemned here. It is several weeks since the Indians commenced their depredations at Fort Dodge; it was known that they would work north & they invariably cross this road near Fort Wallace; instead of having a force here to confront them, the troops have followed along in their rear just in time to act as a sort of ambulance corps & bury the dead with which the Indian trail is marked.
Gen. Pope [?] puffed up with the conceit of his office has paid no attention to the warnings of settlers, but if he had seen the dead & been at their funerals, as men have here, he might believe that the Indians have raided through his department.
We are going back to the ranch today, & I do not fear any more trouble; I expect the round up to be back with my horse very soon & I will get started as soon as possible.
I hope you are beginning to enjoy your new position as President of Vassar College. I think it will be a fine one for you & more suited to your abilities than any you have yet held. I suppose you had rather be in New England, but you are near N. Y. I see that you have got into Harper's Weekly.
Give my love to mother
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