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1864 January 16: News from the 30th Wisconsin Infantry in Indian Territory

January 21, 2014

From the January 16, 1864, issue of The Prescott JournalEdgar A. Meacham was, at this time, captain of Company F of the 30th Wisconsin Infantry, not Company K as the article says.

Letter From Capt. Meacham.

Interesting Particulars concerning [sic] the Indians In Dacotah Territory.

We make the following extracts from a letter from Capt. MEACHAM, Co. K, 30th, to his father in this city.  After describing the terrible snow storm about the last of October, and speaking of the subsequent fine weather, he says :

This fine weather is extremely fortunate for us.  All of our Quartermaster and commissary stores are drawn from Sioux City, which is 250 miles from here.  The cost of transportation from Sioux City to Fort Sully is $7 per hundred.  Everything is transported by citizen trains.  Oxen are used altogether ;  horse or mule teams could not make the trip.  It is astonishing how much cattle will endure.  They have no hay, and there is no grass.— They are fed only a small amount of corn, yet they make the trip and look better than most cattle that are used by the farmers in Wisconsin.  The Minnesota train came in on the 2d—150 wagons in the train.  [paragraph break added]

Monday, the 7th inst., Col. Thompson enrolled the Winnebago Indians, preparatory to making the payment.  There were 1,385 here.  The balance of them are in the vicinity of Fort Randall.  They have been getting one pound of flour and three pounds of meat, a head per week, and of course many of them have died by starvation.  Their condition has been miserable enough.  There was a large amount of condemned meat at Randall, which they have been giving to the Indians.  There must be at Randall seven or eight hundred of the Winnebagos.  There was in all, when they left Minnesota, 2,400, and I suppose some 300 have died since they were landed here.

Tuesday the Goods payment was made and to-day the Money payment is being made, which is in gold and silver.  There are or at least there were, when they left Minnesota, 1,400 Sioux, all squaws and children but 50 bucks.  Their husbands and brothers are in prison at Davenport [Iowa].  The Sioux have not been enrolled, and I do not know how many there are here now.  They receive no Money payment, but there is a Goods payment to be made to them when their goods arrive.  They are coming by the way of Sioux City.  [paragraph break added]

I will give you a list of the Indians in this section of the country, and their locality.  I will commence with the Yanctons [Yankton], which are located near Fort Randall, Dacotah territory.— They are friendly.  Number of lodges, 350, giving them a number of 2,400 souls.

Oncssassas, friendly.  Number of lodges, 45.
Santees, hostile.  Number of lodges, 500.
Yanctonais [Yanktonai], hostile.  Number of lodges, 500.
Seventy-five lodges of these Indians are friendly.  The three bands last mentioned are on the West side of the Missouri River.

Sans Arcs, hostile.  200 lodges, Sioux; between Missouri and Platte rivers.
Brules [Brule], hostile.  400 lodges, same locality as the Sans Arcs.
Minneconssons [Miniconjou], divided ;  part friendly and part friendly. 300 lodges ;  West Missouri River.
Two Kettles, friendly.  125 lodges near Fort Pierre.
Ogolalus [Oglalas], friendly.  400 lodges on Platte River.

Grosventres, friendly.  400 lodges above the Yellow Stone River.
Black Feet, friendly.  200 lodges West Missouri River.
Arricaraws [Arikara].  200 lodges near Fort Berthold.
Mandans, friendly.  50 lodges; location same as Arricaraws.
Black Feet Proper, hostile.  2,500 lodges in the unexplored region near the Rocky Mountains.
Crows, hostile.  400 lodges on the Yellow Stone River.

The above bands are all Sioux.  [Not true]

These were a large party of the Yanctons, 125 lodges, passed by here on their way to Fort Sully.  They are on a hunting expedition, and expect to be out until next spring.  Buffalo are plenty about 70 miles from here.  The Yanctons stopped here part of one day, and five or six Chiefs wanted a pass to come inside the stockade and talk with me.  I wrote a pass and they called on me.  They were big Injins to look at—dressed up in the most fantastic manner imaginable.  I asked them where they were going, what was their object in going above, how long they intended to remain.  They said they were friendly to the whites ;  they were going to Sully and then to the Cheyessue, and perhaps above ;  they were going on a buffalo hunt ;  and they had 24 children that Gen. Sully [Alfred Sully] took prisoners, which they were to exchange for white prisoners, if the Indians had any ;  if not, they were to give them to their friends.  They told me they had but little to eat, and gave me the strongest kind of hint to show my generosity, by feeding them liberally which hint I did not take.  They were the cleanest, best looking, and best dressed Indians I have seen.  I allow no Indians to come inside the stockade without a pass.

We have had no deaths since we left Wisconsin.  We have at present six men sick ;  none of them dangerous.

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