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Chapter 25: the Red war.

Fort Leavenworth, and the young city of Leavenworth, growing up under her guns, are ruffled by some recent incidents of the Red war; a war which often hides itself from sight, but never wholly ceases, in countries where the Red and White men are contending for the soil.

Bad blood is always flowing on the frontier line which separates the White State of Kansas from the Red Territory of Cheyennes and Osages. The savages are rich in ponies, and the settlers are accused of stealing them; the citizens are rich in cattle, and the hunters are accused of lifting them. Both charges are too often just. A frontier settler helps himself as freely to a horse or mule as to an antelope or elk; an Indian kills his neighbour's ox as readily as he slings a buffalo calf. White men shoot game in sport, on which bucks and braves [252] go out and kill their enemy's cows. They say it is only sport. When a more deadly raid is meant, they call the Light Horse, the Mourning Band, or some such Indian league, and riding to the settled parts, select a lonely ranch, surround the pales, rush on the doors, scalp every living male, eat up the food, set fire to the farms, and carry off the women to their camps.

In May last year a son of Little Robe, a Cheyenne chief, came over the border into Kansas with his band. His herds, he said, had been driven by White thieves, and in revenge, he stole a herd of cattle from the nearest run. Some cavalry, then patrolling on the Kansas line, gave chase, came up with the marauders, mauled the chief, and recovered the stolen stock.

Unable to meet the Whites in open field, the Cheyennes, in accordance with their custom and the genius of their league, are using the knife. A man at the Agency breaks his leg, and Hollway, a son of the agency physician, is nursing the invalid, when a Cheyenne brave creeps into the sick man's hut, and plunges a knife into young Hollway's heart. The next victims are two Irish herders, Monahan and [253] O'Leary, who are murdered on the Plains. Will Watkins is killed at King Fish ranch. A government train is stopped, and four men scalped; a crime in which the Osages, neighbours of the Cheyennes, are known to have borne a part. A company of infantry has left Fort Leavenworth, a company of cavalry has left Fort Sill, in search of these murderers; but the line is long, the land is open, and the bands have burnt the grass for many leagues. Who knows whether any of this White blood will be avenged?

Amidst the yell and scream of this Red conflict, two events have seized the public mind; the massacre at Smoky Hill, and the massacre at Medicine Lodge.

A Georgian gentleman, named Germain, living on the Blue Ridge, near Ringold, starts with his family for the west, intending to try his luck in Colorado. His family consists of a grown — up son, an invalid daughter, four younger girls, and an infant too young to walk. They travel in a common emigrant waggon, resting at night, and pushing on by day. Passing the river at Leavenworth, they are driving by the Smoky Hill route for Denver, still [254] a dangerous road, although a railway runs along the creek, and they are hardly a dozen miles from Sheridan station, when Grey Eagle and his band of Cheyennes come on them in the night. Germain and his son are instantly scalped and hacked to shreds. The wife and invalid girl are brained and chopped to pieces, all the meats and drinks gobbled up, the traps set on fire, and the younger girls carried to the camp; the Cheyenne warriors leaving nothing behind them but a charred wheel and shaft, with four dead bodies beaten out of human shape; nothing, as Grey Eagle fancied, that could either serve to mark his victims, or betray his trail. The deed is done, the murderers lost in space.

When news come into Leavenworth that a fresh massacre has been committed on the Smoky Hill, no one believes the tale. But day by day the story is confirmed, on which a party of men goes out to see the spot. Bones, much picked by wolves and ravens, lie about the Prairie track. Lumps of burnt wood are strewn around. No one knows the victims of this Indian outrage, but that murder has been done no man who passes by that road can [255] doubt. At length a book is found — a pocket Bible, with an entry on the fly-leaf-

Germain, Blue Ridge, Georgia.

Armed with this entry as a clue, the White avengers are soon acquainted with the leading facts. They learn that Germain's family consisted of nine persons, so that five of them may still be living in Grey Eagle's camp. Two of the girls, Lucy and Ada, are young ladies, Lucy being nineteen, Ada sixteen years of age. Adelaide is a child of nine, and Julia barely seven. These children must be sought and found.

Grey Eagle makes for the Red Fork of Arkansas River, by which he means to cross into the Public Lands, lying westward of the Indian Nations. Finding the infant an encumbrance, one of the hunters knocks it on the head, and flings it to the wolves. Lucy and Ada are bestowed on the big chiefs; but the pursuers are so hot that Grey Eagle has no time to dally with his prize. Passing the North Fork of Canadian River, he thinks of slipping into Texas, when his band is caught in flank by Colonel Miles, commander of a party on the Red River. [256] Grey Eagle fights like a Cheyenne warrior, but Colonel Miles has a hundred sabres and a howitzer under his command, After holding to their line five hours, the savage chief falls back. Captain Overton's company pursues him for twenty miles, and then gives up the chase, having secured one part of his prize in the two girls, Adelaide and Julia, who are found in one of the Indian tents. On hearing that these girls are left behind, Grey Eagle turns his horse, and rushes on Overton's troop, meaning to cut a lane through them, and retake the girls; but the American troops close up, and baffle his attacks. Again he turns, and dashes on the line of sabres, filling those hardy frontier soldiers with respect. At length, the savage wheels and flies. Once on the wing, no man and horse armed in American fashion can hope to overtake his flight.

Next morning, a hundred picked men, commanded by Captain Niel, are placed on their trail, with orders to recover the two young ladies, Lucy and Ada, from their savage captors. Leavenworth, Kansas, and America, they are told, expect these ladies at their hands. Looking at their clenched teeth and knitted brows, there is no need to ask a [257] promise from these volunteers. If they come back alive, Lucy and Ada Germain will be saved.

This tragedy has a counterpart in the massacre of Medicine Lodge. A band of Osages, living on the lands set apart for them, strike their tents, and ride into the Plains in search of grass and game. Some Osage families are tame, men of mixed blood, who till their land, and live in decent huts; but nine in ten of this savage family are wild men, living by the chase. Driving their mules and ponies, and accompanied by their squaws and imps, they wander up and down; but game is scarce, and much of the grass has been lately burnt. They have to spread their wings, and follow distant trails. No buffaloes are found, the herds appearing to have crossed the frontier line into Kansas.

One of these bands of Osages, numbering nineteen hunters, ten squaws, and about eighty ponies, are encamped near the frontier, looking in .vain for game. Two White men ride into their camp. These persons come from Medicine Lodge, in Barber county, Kansas, and are members of Captain Rickers' troop of horse. “ Have you seen any buffalo? [258] ” ask the Osage hunters. “Yes, plenty-over there,” reply the White men, pointing to a sandy plain, a little to the north. The hunters start, and they are soon among the herds.

A few days serve to kill, cut up, and jerk their meat; and, having packed their skins and food, called in their scouts and ponies, they are turning towards the south, when clouds of dust arise in front of them. Hillo! A company is riding hard and fast, and from their arms and horses the hunters know that they are White men, forty or more in number. To fly is ruin, to resist is death. Tents, skins, provisions, ponies must be left behind. The Osages stand and wait for the storm to break. When the white line arrives within a hundred yards, a halt is called, a council held. Two Osage bucks, armed with rifles and sixshooters, ride out to meet them. Two White men advance to greet these heralds, shake hands in sign of friendliness, and ask them to come in as guests. The Indians slip to the ground, give up their arms and ponies, and are led to Captain IRickers, who tells them that he and his friends are citizens of Medicine Lodge, looking out for bad [259] Indians, such as Kiowas and Cheyennes, who are committing robbery and murder in the White settlements. On seeing their friends received so well, two other bucks, carrying two rifles, but no sixshooters, ride out; the four rifles and two sixshooters being the only weapons of these savages. They are received with smiles and drinks. A fifth and sixth Osage now come in, and then a seventh and eighth, each Red-skin dismounting and disarming the moment he arrives. The White men stand about, chatting and smiling, but with rifles ready for a sign. When Rickers sees that no more bucks are coming in, a word is given, a line is opened, and a volley fired. Four of the eight Osages fall. The other four, springing to their ponies, and leaving saddles, clothes, and arms behind, strike wildly through the sand and grass. Bickers gives tongue, and his followers charge into the camp. Not waiting their attack, the Osages scatter in a ring. Dusk only puts an end to the pursuit.

At midnight two of the Osages creep back, and finding the White men gone, search the rifts and ridges for their wounded brethren and their captured [260] stock. Three of the dead are found, two of them scalped, and otherwise hacked and slashed. Fifty-five mules and ponies, which they left behind, are gone. Their skins, their tents, their buffalo meats, are either taken or destroyed. Cast down by their misery, the. Osages seek their trail, recross the frontier, and return to their proper camp, the hunters almost naked, and the squaws and little ones on foot.

An Indian Agent, much excited by this massacre, rides to Medicine Lodge, a stockade on the Prairie, where he finds Captain Rickers and sixty border men, acting as militia under a regular commission from Governor Osborn.

“Who killed the four Osages?” repeats Captain Rickers, in high contempt, “ we killed the Osages; and we mean to kill the vermin whenever we catch them in our State.” Rickers refuses to give the Indian Agent details of the fray. The captured ponies are at Medicine Lodge; the agent sees them there, and knows them by their Indian marks. Appeals are made to Governor Osborn in Topeka, but the governor will not interfere with his militia. Rickers, he says, is captain of a company of State [261] militia, properly enrolled, and out on service in the field. “The terms of his commission are, to treat all bands of Indians found within the State as hostile.” The Indian Agent finds a flaw in this defence.

“Tell me, governor,” he answers, “the date of this commission. Is it not the fact that Captain Rickers' commission is dated ten days after the massacre near Medicine Lodge?” Osborn only smiles.

Who cares for dates and signatures when they are dealing with such savages as Grey Eagle? Adelaide and Julia Germain are safe within the lines of Fort Leavenworth; but their elder sisters, Lucy and Ada, are still in their savage captor's hands.

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