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[423] other; those who had enlisted in the Federal army, organized into three regiments of cavalry under white officers, and brought under perfect military discipline, were sent to the extreme frontier to fight the independent tribes, to whom the departure of Curtis had imparted fresh audacity. This frontier was designated by several posts, which before the war had served as provision depots to the wagon-trains going west. All those situated south of Kansas had been abandoned by the Federals. Separated from each other by great intervals, they were placed en echelon through the vast region then called Indian Territory, and divided among several tribes, the most powerful of which were the Creeks and Cherokees. The latter, which had furnished a large contingent to the Confederate armies of Arkansas, had to some extent experienced the influence of civilization; but this very influence had enfeebled it. Several Cherokee villages, surrounded by cultivated lands, rose in the rich prairie extending from the Pea Ridge Mountains to the borders of the Neosho, and the principal chief of the tribe, who had assumed the name of John Ross, resided in a beautiful villa at Park Hill, on the road to Fayetteville. The capital of the tribe, a small village called Tah-le-Quah, although it had been but a few years in existence, was already suffering from the effects of this premature decay, which, like an incurable decline, everywhere attacks the products of an artificial civilization, and these redskins, having acquired sedentary habits, were no longer able to defend themselves against their brethren who had remained in their nomadic state. The latter were very numerous along the borders of the Arkansas River. Southern emissaries had stimulated their warlike ardor, and they found effective support in a new fort, constructed by the Confederates since the beginning of the war, on the southern bank of the Arkansas, opposite its confluence with the Verdigris River and the Neosho or Grand River; this work was called Fort Davis. The village of Gibson, encircling an old fort of the same name and situated at a short distance on the Neosho, soon became the base of operations of a small army of redskins. This fo<*> under the direction of white officers, undertook to conqu<*> whole Indian Territory, even threatening to invade the w<*> counties of Arkansas and Missouri. Three regiments of <*>

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