among all ages.
The natural result was such a threat of war from the great Sioux
nation in the winter of 1890-91 as to necessitate the concentration of quite a large army to meet the danger of a general outbreak.
In the course of military operations, accidents rather than design on either side occasioned some serious collisions between the troops and the Indians, especially at Wounded Knee
, resulting in desperate conflict and in much loss of life.
But by very careful management on the part of the commanding general
in the field, Major-General Miles
, a general conflict was averted, and the Sioux
made their submission.
They had had no general intention to go to war, if they could avoid it without starvation.
After a large sum of money had been expended by the War Department in this way, the deficiencies in food were supplied at about the same cost as would, if made in advance, have removed the cause of war. The Indians
gained their point of getting as much food as they needed, and the War Department paid the extra bills, but out of the same public treasury which has so often been bled in that way.
It was quite beyond the power of the War Department to guard against a recurrence of that greatest danger of Indian wars—starvation of the Indians.
But long experience and accurate knowledge of Indian character had suggested a method by which the other cause of discontent among the young Indian warriors might be, at least in a great measure, removed.
That was by providing a legitimate method by which their irrepressible love of military life and exploits might be largely gratified, and, at the same time, those ambitious young men transferred from the ranks of more or less probable savage enemies to the ranks of friends and practically civilized allies.
Fortunately, the strongest trait of the Indian
character, namely, fidelity to the war chief, lent itself to this project.