The Sand Creek Massacre | Rebellion Records
Major T.I. McKenny Reports Trouble at Fort Larned - June 15, 1864
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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies,Series I, Vol.
XXXIV, Part IV.Excerpt relevant to the Sand Creek Massacre - Major T.I. McKenny Reports Trouble at Fort Larned -
June 15, 1864.
Page 402 LOUISIANA AND THE TRANS-MISSISSIPPI. Chapter XLVI.
FORT LARNED, KANS., June 15, 1864.
Major C. S. CHARLOT,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Department of Kansas:
I have the honor to report, after making all necessary arrangements for the defense of Saline, I moved with 40 men for Smoky
Fork Crossing, where I arrived on the evening of the 9th; distance, l35 miles. I found the ranch entirely deserted. This being
one of the most important and dangerous points on the road, as it is thought the Denver mail will now travel this route, I
proceeded on the following morning to erect a block-house form timbers which I found already cut, and which were already
hewed on two sides, but it was found necessary to hew the other two sides on account of the crookedness of the logs. On the
13th, having one story of the building up, left it with instructions, in charge of Lieutenant Ellsworth, of the Seventh Iowa
Cavalry, to finish, and escorted the stage to Walnut Fork, a distance of 40 miles, and camped at a point where the road
intersects the old Santa Fe road, and where the Leavenworth and Kansas City mails are due at the same time. I found this
ranch entirely deserted, and the owner, who is here, says some of his stock was run off by the Cheyennes. I intend to build a
block-house here on my return.
By delaying the first stage until the next arrives, our escort will answer for both stages to Larned. Arrival at Fort Larned on the
evening of the 14th, during a very heavy thunder storm, and found the command of the post with about half the garrison on a
Page 403 Chapter XLVI. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-UNION.
after Indians, but they got no Indians but plenty of buffalo. Captain Parmetar, of the Twelfth Kansas Infantry, in command here,
is reported by every officer and man that I have heard speak of him as a confirmed drunkard. Fort Larned is only a fort in
name, as there are no defenses. An attempt has been made to thrown up breast-works around it, or one-third of it, as the
Pawnee Creek, on which it is built, defends the other two-thirds. This breast-work averages about 20 inches high, with the ditch
on the inner side. The huts are built of adobe, of a very inferior guality, the sod being sandy, and they are covered by little
crooked poles, with dirt and grass thrown on the same, and I do assure you the sight presented in the huts occupied for
quartermaster and commissary stores was awful. The water had been steaming down amongst the corn, flour, beans, and
everything else, and by this rain alone over 100 sacks of flour were ruined; besides, I saw over 1,000 bushels of corn,
according to Lieutenant Crocker's (the assistant quartermaster) estimate, which was ruined. He assured me that over $5,000
worth has been lost in the last twelve months. I thinks this loss might have been materially lessened by proper attention of
officers responsible, and I think the men's time could be much better employed in the erection of stone buildings, instead of
going every few days on fruitless scouts, as there is good building stone within 3 miles of the place.
It is my opinion that these scouts tend to run horses down, with no prospect whatever of meeting the Indians; and that the
commanders of these little posts should be instructed to adhere to their escort duties, improving their defenses, and to drill,
and if the Indians are to be fought a sufficient force should be sent to crush them out. I have had several accounts of the battle
or skirmish that took place between the Colorado troops and the Cheyennes. Fifteen wagons were purchased on the steeds of
Denver City, and Lieutenant Eayer, with two mountain howitzers and 84 men, all told, went in search of Indians, with
instructions to burn bridges and kill Cheyennes whenever and wherever found. With his 84 men and only 15 wagons he
wandered off out of his distrait, within 50 miles of this place. The Indians, finding his command well scattered, his wagons being
behind without any rear guard, artillery in the center 1 1\2 miles from them, and the cavalry 1 mile in advance, made an attack,
killing 3 instantly and wounding 3 others, 1 dying two days afterward, the Colorado troops retreating to this place. Lieutenant
Burton, who was in the fight, is my authority.
I have met La-hor-san, a venerable Indian chief of the Kiowa tribe, who professes (and no doubt is in earnest) great friendship
for the whites; he has about a dozen lodges with him, and they are principally old men, women, and children. He exercises
great influence with his tribe, and it is thought will yet prevent many from joining the Cheyennes, as he is very eloquent and
earnest in his appeals to them. He asked many questions as to where I came from and what was my business. I told him,
through an interpreter, that the great general commanding all this country was much pleased with him, and that he was known
far and wide as a great and good chief. The old man is mourning for a near relative, and has lately cut off one of his fingers,
and burned his fine lodge, 19 fine robes, and a wagon, and killed 3 horses, besides destroying other favorite things. I next
visited the principal chief of the Arapahoes, Little Raven, and went into his lodge, which, together with its contents, was a great
curiosity, and could it be transported just as it is, would be a valua-
Page 404 LOUISIANA AND THE TRANS-MISSISSIPPI. Chapter XLVI.
ble accession to one of our sanitary fairs. Little Raven and Thunder Stone jointly presented me with a bow and quiver of
arrows, the quiver being made out of a panther skin. I told him it was customary in our country to give a lock of their hair to
friends; he laughed and replied that all the money I could give him would not tempt him to give me a particle of it.
I regard to these Indian difficulties, I think if great caution is not exercised on our part there will be a bloody war. It should be
our policy to try and conciliate them, guard our mails and trains well to prevent theft, and stop these scouting parties that are
roaming over the country who do not know one tribe from another, and who will kill anything in the shape of an Indian. It will
require but few murders on the part of our troops to unite all these warlike tribes of the plains, who have been at peace for
years and intermarried amongst one another. I do wish that some prudent, good man could be placed in command of the
troops along the roads from Smoky Fork, on the Leavenworth road, to Walnut Creek, and from Cow Creek thorough to Fort
Lyon, on the Kansas City or old Santa Fe road.
The arrangements I have made in regard to escorting the mails are as follows: The officer at Saline, who has 20 men, will
escort to Smoky Hill Fork, and wait for return mail. The officer at Smoky Hill Fork, who has 40 men, will escort to Walnut Creek,
and wait for return mail. Officer at Walnut Creek will require the Kansas City or Leavenworth mail to await the arrival of the one
behind time, and escort to Fort Larned; he will have 40 men at this passes the eastern boundary mail guarded by Fort Lyon
troops. this arrangement gives both escorts nearly a week to rest, the one at Lyon and the other at Larned. I have made no
arrangement from Walnut Creek to Council Grove, but intend Council Grove to furnish escort to that point and back. In regard
to the numerous individual and Government trains passing, the commanding officers of posts at the commencement of the
Indian country should require both inward and outward bound trains to wait until a number are collected, so that they might ber
able to defend themselves.
The inclosed is a copy of orders given to commanders of posts to govern escorts. I found something of this kind absolutely
necessary to prevent escort from running their horses down after buffalo, also as a check to the several stage companies, who
care not a cent how many Government horses ar broken down as they keep up their reputation for the benefit of the
Government that a one story stone house be built at this point for commissary and quartermaster's stores, also one for a
hospital; for could you but see the miserable excuse for a hospital that our sick soldiers are obliged to stay in, I know the heart
of the general commanding would be moved to compassion. I further, as a duty, must report the sutler, Jesse H. Crane,
appointed by Government, as a duty, must report the sutler, Jesse H. Crane, appointed by Government, as selling whisky
without stint, contrary to act of Congress, which says, "A sutler shall not see intoxicating spirits." He is also reported by many
as selling revolvers to the Indians.
I have the honor to be, very truly, your obedient servant,
T. I. McKENNY,
Major and Inspector-General.
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