~ June 28, 1898 The Daily Pioneer-Times ~
Word From Our Boys
An Interesting Letter From Our Boys Who Are At Camp Chickamauga.
The Pleasures and Sorrows of Soldier Life Briefly Stated by “Blondie”.
Camp George H. Thomas, Chickamauga Park, Ga., June 22. —Every member of the Black Hills Squadron, Third U. S. V. C., has about become acclimated, and conditions which upon their arrival militated to a certain extent against their health, are now met without bad effects. The boys are becoming used to the discipline of camp life, and the drills and other duties which at first were irksome and arduous are now accepted as a matter of course and entered into with a spirit and vim which makes this kind of work recreation. The boys, too, pay more attention to the little demands of military etiquette, but as the squadron is composed of men of more than ordinary intelligence, these little demands do not work a hardship upon them. As an illustration of their crudeness and lack of knowledge in this respect, the two following incidents of camp life may be told, but it is well to state that since their occurrence they boys have advanced to a marked degree and that episodes of a similar nature are not likely to occur:
A member of Troop A, the first week we were in camp, was detailed as a sentry in a lonesome beat between the Sixty-ninth New York and our own regiment. Among instructions given to him was to halt everyone in his line of march, no matter what his official position. About midnight a couple of officers of the fighting Sixty-ninth came stumbling through the darkness on the way to their camp, and had almost reached their lines when they were brought up standing by the sharp command, “Hands up!” The command seemed to them rather an unmilitary one, and they were inclined to disregard it and started in to argue the matter with sentry from the west, who again gave the same order, accompanied by the “click, click, click,” of a six-shooter, and the further injunction: “You blanket, blank, blank — ! I told you to shove up your hands; now put them up and keep them up until the corporal comes her or I will fill you full of holes! Do you hear!” They heard, understood and obeyed instructions. It was some time before the officer of guard appeared and relieved the infantrymen from their unpleasant predicament, and remonstrated with the sentry for his treatment of the officers who were very indignant at the manner in which they were held up, and, it is said, complained to the major, stating that the sentry had threatened to shoot them, and that after promising to see that it should not occur again, the major asked, “Did he really threaten to shoot you?” “Yes, sir, he did,” replied one of the officers. “Then what did you do?” asked the major. “We stopped,” was the reply. “That was a very sensible move on your part, for I have a lingering suspicion that the sentry was telling the truth,” said the major. This closed incident No. 1.
The second occurred a few days later: The officer of they day, in making his rounds, stopped and engaged one of the sentries in conversation, and after a few minutes talk asked to see his gun. The sentry turned his gun over to the officer, who then began to give him a jacking-up for allowing it to go out of his possession, ending up by threatening to report him to headquarters, and starting off with the sentry’s gun. Although the sentry was new to the business, he was no fool, and the officer had just turned his back when he was startled by the sound of a gun cocking. Turning around he found himself looking down the muzzle of a 45, ready for business, and was met with the demand: “Hand back that gun! Butt forward, you — ! You might know a hell of a lot about soldiering, but, blank you, I know how to protect myself!” The officer did as requested, and the incident would never have become known had the officer not told it as a joke upon himself, and as an illustration of the resourcefulness of the average member of the Black Hills squadron.
~ June 28, 1898 • Daily Deadwood Pioneer-Times ~
Were Sitting Bull Alive
A personality carrying one back to the days of Custer and Indian treachery on the plains of the middle west is that of Dr. V. T. McGillycuddy, the only man ever successful in arresting the great chief, Red Cloud, and even reputed to have pulled the nose of that doughty brave. Dr. McGillycuddy had reached this city in the course of his travels west of the Mississippi river as medical inspector of one of the largest life insurance companies in the country. He was seen yesterday in the Seattle hotel and grew reminiscent over his years’ experience as agent of the Pine Ridge reservation.
“I regard it as a very fortunate thing,” he said, “that Sitting Bull was killed. Were he now alive he would surely take advantage of our war with Spain to stir up the fighting blood of his people. There is no other to take his place as leader. Of the old fighting chiefs but Red Cloud remains and he is almost blind and is growing quite feeble. There is no danger of an outbreak as long as the Indians are kept well fed. Ninety percent of the trouble heretofore has been the result of an empty commissary building. I think the trouble at Wounded Knee of 1890 and 1891, could have been averted had not the aid of United States troops not been called in. The ghost dance was not more liable to rouse a warspirit than any other and had its origin in fact in the teachings of Christianity itself. The true cause of the ghost dance has never been clearly understood. The real explanation as I heard it from the old chief, Wounded Knee, was very simple. As an officer of the staff of the governor of South Dakota I was sent to Pine Ridge in 1890 to represent him at the scene of trouble. The United States cavalry, under General Brooke, had just arrived at the agency, and I asked his permission to go among the Indians and talk to them. I went to the council of the Indian chiefs and asked Wounded Knee why the Indians were dancing.”
Dancing For Christ
“He told me that some time before Indian named Porcupine had come down from British Columbia and had said, that in the far north a beautiful and fair spoken man, with blue eyes and a golden beard, had one day met him in the forest and said: ‘I am the Christ who the white people crucified, I am now come again, but this time only my friends shall know me, for I fear again the torture. And that I may not mistake those who love me I will abide with the people who have certain signs and a dance.’ Porcupine had learned the dance and the signs and had brought them to Wounded Knee. The old chief told me in the most simple manner possible that he believed his people should dance for fear the Christ might come that way and pass them. If they found the dance was not a good thing they would quit. The intention of the Indians you see was perfectly innocent. Had the troops not been called in they would have danced a few months and when no Christ appeared the craze would have died a natural death.
“Between 1879 and 1886, while agent on the Pine Ridge reservation, there were many cases when a call for troops would have precipitated an outbreak, but I found diplomacy always effective in averting trouble. I allowed the Indians to govern themselves and whenever there was danger I called a council and told the chiefs that under existing conditions it would soon be necessary to call on the White Father for soldiers and that it would lay in themselves whether such a step should be taken or not. They were always open to reason and, rather than to have war, made many sacrifices. Not that they were afraid; the Sioux are not cowards, but they thought of their wives and children.
Trouble With Red Cloud
In the early days, in order to facilitate matters, the government dealt with the tribes through a head chief. Red Cloud was the recognized chief of the Sioux and with him were made all treaties and agreements. It became later the policy to attempt to break up the old tribal system and individualize the Indians. Red Cloud realized that this meant the death of his power, and he fought me bitterly from the first. Finally, in 1882, he telegraphed to Washington that I was attempting to rouse feeling against him as head chief and asked that I be removed. The department sent to me for an explanation, and on being informed of the trouble, sent an order that Red Cloud be arrested. That was easier said than done.
“I called a council of the chiefs, told them of the order I had received, and asked what should be done. They said they would send for Red Cloud. A messenger was dispatched, but the old fellow refused to come. Another messenger was sent, and a second time Red Cloud refused. Things began to look serious. The council of chiefs sent a third message, stating this time that Red Cloud would either come voluntarily to the council, or he would be brought by force. They assured me of their support. I have about fifty Indian police who wore the United States uniform ad carried government arms. They had always stood by me before, and in anticipation of trouble I had gathered them together from the different tribes. Before calling the council, I had lined them up and told them were about to be called on to arrest their head chief. ‘If anyone feels that he will not fight for the government,’ I said, ‘let him step from the ranks.’ There was a moment’s quiet, and then one named Six Brothers stepped forward, and shaking me by the hand, said: ‘Red Cloud is my kinsman.’ I moved his uniform and resumed his blanket. The others stood firm, and I stationed them outside the council chamber to be on hand when needed.
“The third messenger had hardly left when I could see that Red Cloud had left his village and was approaching the council. He was accompanied by about seventy-five of his braves. He had reconsidered the matter. From other directions I saw a number of young men gathering. There were about 300. I suppose a look of alarm passed over my face, for one of the chiefs said: “Do not be afraid, father; those young men are ours.”
A Thrilling Situation
“Off the council chamber was my office, and I retired there with my interpreter until Red Cloud arrived. He strode into the council hall with his braves at his heels. The place was jammed, and it was the toughest looking crowd I ever have seen. Red Cloud was painted from head to foot a bright green, and was streaked in hideous fashion. All the Indians with him were folded closely within their blankets, and I knew that each had a knife and revolver ready for instant use.
“I stepped into the chamber and started to speak. All was quiet when a chief named Iron Hawk jumped up in the rear of the crowd, and, exposing his bare chest, began to harangue in a loud tone of voice. I stopped him short with a gesture and said to one of my policemen:
‘If another speaks until I have finished, put him out. If he refuses to go, shoot him.’
“That produced the desired effect. ‘Red Cloud,’ I said, looking hard at the chief, ‘I have orders from the Great Father to arrest you. Hereafter you will no more be recognized as head chief. You must consider yourself a prisoner. But I will not hold you, for you are a man of honor, and having been arrested, may return to your village.’
“He sprang up and began to talk rapidly. I help up my hand and said: ‘Remember, it is not I who am arresting you, but the government, and if you disobey it will mean the destruction of you and all your people.” I felt that my safety hung on a thread and that an outbreak might come any second. But the chief saw that his position was insecure and surrendered. There never has been a doubt in my mind that Red Cloud came to that council intending to kill me, but he realized the force of my remark that he might get rid of me, but could never do away with the agent.
Stopping The Sun Dance
“Another crisis came in 1883, when I stopped the sun dance. It had been the custom for years at the full moon in June to collect the people of all the villages for the sun dance. It was intended as a test of the endurance of young Indians who aspired to be warriors. A pole twenty-five or thirty feet in height was erected, and from the top depended long strings, like the streamers of a May pole. The doctors would pierce the breasts of the young braves and catch up the flesh with skewers. These sticks were tied on the strings from the pole, and the Indians would hang back on the strings, stretching their flesh until it would finally burst. They were then warriors. Often the men would faint from pain before the elastic flesh broke. They were then considered no good and had to wait for another year. Sometimes when a young man began to grow dizzy and wobble from side to side, his sweetheart, who would be watching from the crowd, would rush forward, and clasping her lover about the neck tear him loose. She would thus save him from disgrace.
“I felt that the dance encouraged a war spirit and decided to stop it. The hereditary chief of the tribes was Young-Man-Afraid-Of-His-Horses, and he had always been on my side, because I supported him against the uprising war chief, Red Cloud. The Man-Afraid faction agreed to stand by me in suppressing the dance, and it was owing to their aid that I was able to carry out my plan.
“When Cleveland was elected president, in 1884, I was called to Washington to answer charges preferred against me by Red Cloud. It was only a pretext to get rid of a republican agent, and I knew it would result in but one way. Red Cloud accused me of undermining his authority as head chief. I had taken Young-Man-Afraid-Of-His-Horses to Washington with me, and when we appeared before Secretary Lamont the chief was asked if I had ever taken any steps to make him a chief. The Indian did not understand the question at first, but on its being repeated, drew himself up proudly and said:
“Make me a chief? He can’t make me a chief. I was born a chief.”
“Red Cloud was there at the time, dressed in a handsome frock coat and wearing a high silk hat. The contrast between him and the real chief, who was dressed in native costume, was very striking. In 1890, when I went to Pine Ridge, Red Cloud was the first one to greet me as I stepped from the stage.
“Once I did not understand you, father, and I hated you. But now I know what you tried to do was for the best interests of the Sioux.”
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