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1864 February 27: A Report from the Salomon Tigers in Dacotah Territory

March 4, 2014

The following letter from Selden Bartholomew, originally from Prescott, appeared in the February 27, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal.  Company F of the 30th Wisconsin Infantry was known as the Salomon Tigers, named for Wisconsin Governor Edward Salomon.

From Co. F, 30th Regiment.

HEADQUARTERS 30TH, CROW CREEK }
AGENCY, Dacotah, Jan. 22, 1864. }

ED. JOURNAL :—Having little or nothing to do for a few moments, I thought I might as well pen you a few lines in regard to matters and things in general respecting the Saloman [sic] Tigers, etc.

You are probably aware before this that we left Fort Sully, the last of October, as we supposed to rejoin our regiment, marching the first day eight miles, and just as we were pitching tents for the night, two messengers appeared, bearing dispatches from Gen. Sulley [sic: Alfred Sully], to the effect that we would remain up here, for the winter,—one company at Fort Sulley [sic], the other at this agency.  Imagine our disappointment upon receiving this bit of intelligence, as we left the Fort buoyant with the hope that we would soon be with our regiment—once more in America—and out of this, one of God’s rural districts not a fit place even for Indians.  Lieut. Colonel Bartlett,¹ I believe, gave Capt. Meacham [Edgar A. Meacham] his choice to return to the Fort or proceed to the Agency.  He chose the latter, and the next morning, before day, we bid adieu to Co. D, (Capt. Fulton [David C. Fulton]) and started on our journey for winter quarters, arriving here after a march of three days from the Fort.  We went to work immediately to prepare suitable quarters, and are, at present, as pleasantly and comfortably located as the country permits.

The health of the company is excellent—never better since we have been in the service, only one man on the sick list.  This, I think, is far better than most companies can say after a summer’s campaign.

Stationed here with us is part of a company belonging to the Sixth Iowa Cavalry, who are acting as mail carriers and messengers from this place to Sulley [sic].

Capt. Meacham has the honor of being Post Commander ;  consequently our duties are light ;  while Lieut. Strong is Quarter-master [Ezra B. Strong], and with their wise judgment and discretion, we have thus far fared much better than could be expected from the limited means at our disposal, for we would have you understand that our supplies have been limited since our advent here, but we are expecting a fresh supply in a few days from Sioux City ;  then the loud cry “hard tack in abundance,” will be raised by us.

Crow Creek Agency is about one hundred miles above Fort Randall, and sixty below Fort Sully, on the right bank of the Missouri, located on the reservation belonging to the Sioux and Winnebagoes that were removed from Minnesota last summer, under the supervision of Clark W. Thompson,² of St. Paul.  Since then quite a little village has sprung up, numbering, in all, fifteen frame houses ;  built of cottonwood lumber, and neatly whitewashed, the whole surrounded by a substantial stockade four hundred feet square, fifteen feet high, with bastions at opposite corners, all of this is well loopholed for musketry.  With this protection we think we could successfully wipe out all the Indians of Dacotah.  The Sioux and Winnebagoes here number about fifteen hundred.  They are encamped in a narrow strip of woods between us and the river.  Owing to the non-arrival of sufficient quantity of supplies for them, I am sorry to say they are in a suffering condition, and many have died from utter starvation and want, by the neglect of “somebody.”  If the Indian and his interests are indeed to be guarded, if the government really desires to throw its protecting arm around and shield him from the malign influence of those who seek his utter ruin as the only sure way of promising his little income, Congress should at once pass such a law as to utterly exclude all swindling agents and traders.  When this is done, we may expect to see the efforts which the government is making to raise the Indian from his low condition to a higher and more useful sphere successful.  An Indian will listen to good precepts and pronounce them good, but he does not stop here.  He will watch and see if the acts of the individual compare with his precepts.  If they do, he will pronounce them very good ;  if not, he loses confidence in his teacher.

We have had but little snow this winter—not enough to make good sleighing—and but a few days of very cold weather.  For the last week it has been quite pleasant, reminding us of the fast approach of spring.

Rumor says that we may prepare for an extensive campaign against the hostile Sioux early this spring.  Such may be the case, for surely very little was accomplished the past season.

Fearing that I have already written more than will prove interesting, I will close by asking the friends of the Salomon Tigers to accept my kind regards.

Your truly,
. . . . . . . .S. BARTHOLOMEW.

1.  Edward M. Bartlett, from Durand, was Colonel Daniel J. Dill’s lieutenant colonel.
2.  Clark W. Thompson (1825-1885) was originally from Canada and moved to Hokah, Minnesota, in 1853. He was a miller before becoming a representative to the Minnesota Territorial Legislature, and participated in the Territorial Republican Constitutional Convention in 1857. He also served as Superintendent of Indian Affairs in the Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson administrations, from 1861–1865. He supervised the Ojibwe, Dakota, and Winnebago agencies in Minnesota, and Ojibwe agency at La Pointe in Wisconsin. The Dakota Conflict and the subsequent removal of Minnesota’s Dakota and Winnebago Indians to Daktoa Territory occurred during his term of office.

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