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[494] ponies were found dead and wounded on the field; besides a large number were captured. The prisoners (some one hundred and thirty) I take with me below, and shall report to you more specially in regard to them.

The Surgeon of the Second Nebraska regiment, Dr. Bowen, who has shown a great energy and desire to attend to his duties during the campaign, started out during the night of the engagement with a party of fifteen men to go back to the old camp to procure ambulances. But as they did not return on the morning of the second day, I knew he was either lost or captured. (He returned about noon of the second day.) I therefore sent out small scouting parties in every direction to hunt them up. One of these fell into an ambuscade, by which four of the party were killed and the rest driven in. I immediately sent out five companies of the Second Nebraska regiment, Colonel Furnas in command, who, after a long march, found the Indians had fled. They succeeded, however, in overtaking three concealed in some tall grass, whom they killed. The fight has been so scattered, the dead Indians have been found in so many different places, that it is impossible for me to give an accurate report of the number killed of the enemy. I, however, think I am safe in reporting it at one hundred. (I report those that were left on the field and that my scouting parties found.)

During the engagement, for some time, the Second Nebraska, afoot and armed with rifles — and there are among them probably some of the best shots in the world — were engaged with the enemy at a distance not over sixty paces, pouring on them a murderous fire in a ravine where the enemy were posted. The slaughter, therefore, was immense. My officers and the guides I have with the think one hundred and fifty will not cover their loss. The Indian reports make it two hundred. That the General may know the exact locality of the battle-field, I would state that it was, as near as I could judge, fifteen miles west of James River, and about half way between the latitudes of Bonebute and headwaters of Elm River, as laid down on the Government map. The fight took place near a hill called by the Indians White Stone Hill.

In conclusion, I would state that the troops of my command conducted themselves well; and though it was the first fight that nearly all of them had ever been in, they showed that they are of the right material, and that in time, with discipline, they will make worthy soldiers. It is to be regretted that we lost so many valuable lives as we did, but this could not be helped; the Indians had formed a line of battle with good judgment, from which they could only be dislodged by a charge. I could not use my artillery without greatly endangering the lives of my own men; if I could, I could have slaughtered them.

I send you, accompanying, the reports of Colonel Wilson, Sixth Iowa, and Colonel Furnas, Second Nebraska, also official reports of killed and wounded, and take this occasion to thank both those officers for their good conduct and the cheerfulness with which they obeyed my orders on the occasion. Both of them had their horses shot in the action. I would also request permission to state that the several members of my staff rendered me every possible assistance.

On the morning of the sixty I took my up line of march for Fort Pierre. If I could have remained in that section of country some two or three weeks, I might have accomplished more; but I was satisfied by the reports of my scouts that the Indians had scattered in all directions; some toward the James River; some, probably the Blackfeet, to recross the Missouri, and a part of them went north, where they say they have friends among the half-breeds of the north. My rations were barely sufficient, with rapid marches, to enable me to reach Fort Pierre. The animals, not only the teams I have already reported to you as worthless, but also the cavalry horses, showed the effect of rapid marching and being entirely without grain.

I brought with me all the prisoners I had, and tried to question them to gain some information. The men refused to say much, except that they are all “good Indians,” and the other bad ones joined their camp without their will.

Their squaws, however, corroborate the report I have already given you in regard to the destruction of the people on board the Mackinaw boat and the fights with General Sibley, in which these Indians had a part. They also state that the Indians, after recrossing to this side of the Missouri, sent a party to follow Sibley until he went to the James River, then returned to their camp on Long Lake, to procure a large quantity of provisions and other articles they had “catched” there, and then came to the camp where I met them.

After marching about one hundred and thirty miles, we reached the mouth of the Little Sheyenne on the eleventh, where I found the steamboat I had ordered to be there on the eighth instant. It was lucky she was there, for without the grain she brought up I could not have brought my empty wagons back. For some miles north of Sheyenne and Pierre the grass now is about all gone. I placed my wounded on the boat, and as many empty wagons as she could carry. I am afraid the loss of horses and mules will be considered very great, but it could not be helped. When I found it impossible for the rear guard to get an animal along, I had it killed to prevent its falling into the hands of the enemy.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Alfred Sully, Brigadier-General Commanding.
P. S.--By actual count, the number of my prisoners is one hundred and fifty-six--men thirty-two; women and children, one hundred and twenty-four. I would also beg leave to say that in the action I had of my command between six hundred and seven hundred men actually engaged.


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