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Captain Lewis Hanback's final report

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Captain Lewis Hanback’s final report



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Topeka, Kansas

August 24th 1875


Maj. H.T. Beman

Asst Adj Gen.


I have the honor to report that on the 10th day of August 1875 I received the following orders from the Governor & Commander In Chief.

Special Orders

[No 18=]  To Captain Lewis Handback Special Aid [de] [Camp]


Sir:  You are hereby instructed to make a full and rigid investigation of the facts and circumstances, attending the Conflict between Capt. Rickers Company, of State Militia and a band of Osage Indians; which occurred in Bourbon County Kansas in the Month of August 1874.


You will receive herewith for your information Communications from the Secretary of the Interior, and the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, together with accompanying affidavits seeking to maintain that in the conflict above mentioned Capt. Rickers and his Command made an attack without


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provocation upon peaceful Indians and were guilty of the murder of four of said Indians; and of the unlawful taking of ponies and other property belonging to said band.


Reparation having been demanded by the State on behalf of the Osage tribe by the Department at Washington the Governor desires before taking final action upon said demands, that the circumstances which gave rise to it shall receive a thorough and impartial investigation.  To this end you will without delay proceed to Bourbon County and make inquiry as to the affair in question with all its [demandings].


You will consult with as many as practicable of those who were members of said militia company at the time of the conflict in question as well as other persons having knowledge of the circumstances and will cause the testimony taken to be reduced to [writing], and duly verified having made your investigation as thorough as possible under the circumstances you will return to this City and report the results thereof, in writing to the Governor together with the testimony taken.

By Order of the Governor

H.T. Beman

Asst Adj. Gen.


In obedience to the above order, I left Topeka on the afternoon of the 10th inst taking, the


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A.T.& StaFe Railway to Hutchinson and the stage to the town of Medicine Lodge the County seat of Bourbon County, where I arrived on the evening of the 11th .


Thursday and Friday was occupied in meeting citizens of the County and explaining to them my mission & its object.  On Friday Evening, a Meeting of the Citizens of the town and surrounding country was held at the School House at which there was a fair attendance.  I explained to the meeting the object of my visit and read to them all of the correspondence which had passed between the Executive Department of the State and the Secretary of the Interior, and the Commissioner of Indian affairs together with the report of a Commission consisting of Mahlon Stubbs, Finney and L.B. Kellogg who had been appointed by I.F. Gibson of the Osages to investigate the alleged killing of four Osage Indians on the 7th of August 1874 by a portion of the Kansas Militia under command of Capt. C.M. Ricker.  I also read to the meeting the separate report of Mahlon Stubbs, who is Agent of the Kansas Tribe of Indians made by request of the Indian Department to the Presidents Peace Commission.


In doing this I was actuated by a desire to place the whole matter in as sufficient


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and clear a light as possible before the Citizens of Bourbon County rendering there by Compliance with the orders under which I was acting. 


I explained to the meeting that I was among them solely for the purpose arriving at a true state of the facts connected with the Indian troubles of 1874 and to this end the hearty cooperation of its citizens was requested.  I am happy to be able to report that in all the investigation which subsequently followed I met with but little opposition if any.  And I avail myself of this opportunity to express my thanks for the courteous assistance extended to me by the Citizens of the County, with whom it was my good fortune to meet.


From Saturday, until Wednesday, I was engaged in taking testimony and in visiting different portions of the County, and meeting citizens I respectfully submit the accompanying testimony taken in the form of [Interrogation], as the result of my labors.


In every case before I commenced taking the testimony of a witness I explained to him that I desired a full statement of the facts as he knew them either from personal observation or from information in which he had an explicit reliance and as


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near as possible the testimony of each witness was taken down in his or her own language.


Bourbon County was in generally a part of the Indian reservation belonging to the Osage, it is one of the largest Counties in the State, is well supplied with running streams and hearty crops of buffalo grass its winters are generally mild and this with the other fact it is and has been the resort of all kinds of large game made it a favorite hunting ground for the Osage.  That tribe held almost undisputed sway over it even after it  [XXXX]  until within the past four years when settlement of white men began to be formed and so rapidly as to speedily dispute the sway theretofore exercised over it.  The result was that game became less abundant and rendered hunting more difficult and arduous.  Travelling bands of Osages and other tribes frequently found within the limits of the County.  There could be but one result brought about by such a state of things the settlements grew, and the Indians became more and more jealous of the encroachment of the Whites.  Occasionally news would be received of some settlers being Killed & scalped


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or of horses & stock stolen and run off.  Prominent among the Citizens Killed was John Mosely who for a number of years had been one of the advanced pioneers of the state in the winter of 1873 he was attacked in his house on Medicine Lodge Creek by a band of Osages and after several hours fighting was killed.  C.C. Leonard and another settler was with him at the time he was killed the Indians retreated driving off some stock.  I made arrangements to have the testimony of Leonard taken and forwarded to your office.


In this [way] matters continued until the winter of 1874.  There had been no general uprising of the Indians such as would cause a state of uneasiness.  While it was known that there was bad blood among the various tribes and especially the Osages.  Yet there was a comparative feeling of safety in existence among the Settlers.  But during the winter and spring of 1874 a different state of facts arose.  Information was brought in by hunters to Medicine Lodge that a general uprising among the Indians was being by them contemplated and discussed.  This news was entitled and to credence it came from men whose education in such matters and whose judgment [was] [relied] [on] who had heard the talk and noted


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the preparations being made in the Medicine Lodge and camps of Cheyenne, Osages and Arapahos and Kiowa.  The cause of additional belief in the minds of the hunter was that they noticed that the Indians used only bows and arrows for killing their game saving their ammunition.  And also they were anxious to barter for ammunition, and in addition to this the Indians told them that when the grass grew the white man would lose their hair,  (see testimony of D.E. Sheldon) 


It appears from the testimony taken by me and also from information which I received, that all of these circumstances, facts, and [rumors], were transmitted to the settlers and was by them understood.  So that when spring came and the grass began to grow, there was a vigilant outlook kept up for apprehended tumbles, but as the season advanced and no depredations had been committed a feeling of security settled upon the citizens and all thought of harm from Indian sources dwindled into insignificance.  Thus matters continued until the 16th day of June, 1874.  But prior to that time and as early as the 9th of April 1874 a party of Cheyennes of Little Robes band stole a lot of stock near Sun City in Bourbon County, and succeeded in getting away with the greater part of it.  


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Other acts of a sinister nature were committed along the frontier and it was noticed that Indians of various tribes were sullen and in some cases insolent.  Yet, no overt act was committed until the 16th of June when the town of Kiowa was attacked and after a large number of shots had been fired into the houses the Indians withdrew taking with them four horses.  From subsequent developments it appears that this party numbering eleven camped that night on Mule Creek and next day passed unobserved except for a young man named  [XXXX], but a short distance south of the town of Medicine Lodge.


On the morning of the 17th two men named respectively Martin and Kennedy, passed through Medicine Lodge in their wagons on their way to Cedar Hills for rails.  Two days afterwards they were found in a cedar canyon six miles southwest of town dead and scalped, their horses were missing.  On the 17th about 11 oclock in the forenoon Isaac [Keine]  while driving along the road leading to his cabin on little Mule Creek (and about 2 miles from where Martin & Kennedy were killed) was ambushed, killed and scalped, and his horses taken all of these depredations and murder were undoubtedly committed by the same party, which had attacked [Keine] the day before as a clear trail was made from the Canyon to where [Keine] was


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killed.  Attention is here called to the testimony of Mrs Sarah Garlinghouse who with her two children were in their house not over two hundred yards from the place of Keine’s murder.  Mrs Garlinghouse is a woman of more than ordinary sense.  Nearly her whole life has been passed on the frontier in the midst and in close proximity to the Cheyenne Arapahoe Osage and Kiowas, her father is a noted pioneer and plainsman and both by education and observation she is well qualified to express an opinion as to what tribe the Indians who Killed Keine belonged to.  In addition to this and as adding to the weight of her testimony she is a woman of irreproachable character enjoying to the fullest extend the confidence and respect of all who know her.  I know this to be the fact because I took pains to ascertain what those who knew her thought of her and what reliance was to be placed upon her judgment to all my inquiries there was but one response that she knew what she was talking about.  Being as well versed in Indian matters their habits and deep as any person in the County.  Her testimony is of the greatest importance being as she was the only eye witness of all but the horrible deed she  [XXXX]  she thought at the time they were Osages and her description of the way they [wear] their hair (cut short while all the other


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tribes heretofore mentioned wear their hair long) the style of their dress their manners all indicate that she was correct in her judgment and that the murderers of Martin, Kennedy and Keine were members of the Osage tribe.


The news of the murders of these people and unoffending citizens was soon transmitted to all the settlers in the county.  A reign of ensued homes were deserted at once and the towns were soon crowded with the settlers, gathered together for mutual protection.  A continued state of alarm existed, it was deemed utterly unsafe to travel beyond the limits of the towns which were all stockaded except in [force].  Authority being given C.M. Ricker enrolled a Company of about sixty men the greater part of whom were armed and mounted frequent scouts were made pickets were posted at night to all intents and purposes a state of war existed.  All indians found within the limits of the County were prima-facie deemed enemies and none were considered more so than the Osages.  Treacherous and cowardly as they are it was believed that they only awaited


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a safe opportunity for murder and robbery.  Nor were these fears based on groundless conjecture for it appears that during these times Agent [J T] Gibson arrived at Medicine Lodge and endeavored to get an escort and conveyance to go with him in search of a part of Black Dog’s band of Osages which he (Gibson) said were some where in that part of the Country their reservation and against his advice and consent.  And he feared they would join the Cheyenne and other Indians on the war path (see Dr T W Davis testimony).  All of the statements of Gibson was talked of and canvased by the inhabitants of Medicine Lodge and offered additional food to their  [XXX]. 


In the  [XXX]  part of July, Charles Bond by profession a physician while early one morning on his way to Sun City was met by a party of Osages 4 in number and narrowly escaped with his life, seven shots being fired at him.  Although pursued by a [force] of the Militia then stationed at Lake City the indians escaped taking with them several horses belonging to Abraham Winnie and William Carl.  On their trail and during their pursuit was found a womans scalp showing that the party had been on the war path.


Dr Bond who makes an affidavit of the above facts is a worthy and an intelligent man and one of a very few


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who had remained outside of the stockades as he believed there was no danger from indians.  It is needless to say that he changed his opinion in a very few moments after his narrow escape.  I respectfully direct attention to his statement.


At about this same time two men who lived in Sumner County but were in Bourbon County after a load of Cedar.  [XX]  returning home when they were over taken by a party of Indians (Osages) and their teams taken from them.  Personally they were not molested but they reported the Indians insolent and deemed it a Providential Act that their lives were not taken.  In this connection I might remark that both Winnie and Carl are now prosecuting their claims against the Osages for taking their property and that their claim has been recognized in part by Agt Gibson additional proof being only required to perfect their claim.


Thus matters continued until the Early part of August 1874 when about the 4th or 5th a party of Osages appeared near the town of  [XXXX]  the band numbered over thirty warriors and was under the command of the Indian who has heretofore been referred to as having but one eye.  They were


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visited by Lieut. Eli Smith then in command of a portion of Rickers Company stationed at that place by his testimony which is herewith submitted together with the testimony of Levi Davis it appeared they claimed to be a buffalo hunting party.  Lieut. Smith testifies that he ordered them to return to their reservation which they failed and refused to do the testimony of Lieut. Smith in the light of subsequent events is important and justifies the reasonable conclusion which he arrives at that hunting buffalo was only a pretext.  And as reasons for his conclusion he says they kept as nearly as possible, their arms concealed.  They would not speak English.  One of the Indians was painted, his horse was painted, he was armed with a shield and he was in every respect gotten up in war style.  Added to this he was insolent in his manner.  Smith tried to talk Indian with one eye, who  [XXX]  [XXXX]  could speak English but he paid no attention to him.  Lieut. Smith pretending he could not understand.


As bearing upon the mission of these indians, reference is had to the Conversation which Lieut. Smith subsequently had with Mahlon Stubbs Agent for the Kansas Indians and whose admissions and statements are from the very nature of things impor-


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tant, it being presumable that Stubbs would make no statement of the kind referred to unless he was certain of their absolute truth.  Yet Stubbs states to Smith in the presence of John Morley in front of the residence of Judge [U P Degrass] at Medicine Lodge that this same party was a [mourning] band which is in reality a war party.  The facts in the case are that these Indians were warned not to return to their reservation.  Their presence in the county and [their] failure to obey the order of Lieut. Smith was by that of the next day was communicated by him in person to Capt Ricker.


I now come to the important part of the Mission upon which I was sent  [XXXX]  to make careful inquiry into the facts of the engagement of August 7th with the Osages in which four Osages were killed.  The Testimony if [Iliff] [Langston] Van Slyke and Garlinghouse may be relied upon their testimony was taken separately and neither knew what the others have testified to.  Added to this:  they are all men of respectability.


On the evening of the 6th August, 1874 about 9 oclock the town of Medicine Lodge was suddenly thrown into a state of excitement caused by the arrival of [Col.] J.S. Shepler and his son Frank who


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brought with them information to the effect that a party of Osage Indians were in camp about 15 miles North East from town.  Shepler and Son were both [laboring] under excitement and Shepler stated to Griedly that he believed he would have been scalped if he had had a horse or mule instead of an Ox team, he Shepler urged Ricker to take his men out and investigate the cause of the Indians being off their reservation.


Orders were therefore at once issued for rations to be prepared for twenty five men officers included.  On the morning of the 7th the Command marched in the direction indicated by Shepler.  At noon halted for a short time and then moved on.  About one oclock Rickers attention was called by Lawton and others to what they thought was a camp.  He thought it was only some logs and started forward, (the Command being halted) to  [XXXX].  In a very short time he was seen returning on the run swinging his hat, where upon the Command moved forward to the top of the ridge immediately in front [forward] in line and then moved a short distance when one Indian mounted and advancing was discovered being our line he was [freed] to come in


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and was quickly followed by others who as they came in were disarmed or nearly so.  By this time our line had moved to a point within sight of the Indian Camp, and for the first time saw the whole indian force drawn up in line of battle, some three hundred yards distant.  The indians who had been captured were placed in the right flank of our line and six men had been dismounted for the purpose of a guard.  The rest part of the Command remained mounted and were in full view of the indians in line, the captured indians were in no danger from any attack which their commands might make.


Matters remained in this state but a moment when Capt Ricker ordered the indian who claimed to be chief to order those remaining in line to come up, the indian did holler to them in the Osage Language when Lieut. Mosley who was on his horse and [who] thoroughly [understood] the Osage Language sprang towards him and told him that he told the indians again to fire in our lines he would blow his brains out as his language to that effect.  I was unable to obtain the testimony of Lieut. Mosely who is now in Texas but have made arrangements to have it taken as soon as he returns.  At once the captured indians gave a yell and commenced a most desperate and determined effort to escape.  Iliff was beat over the head and eventually knocked to his knees.  Van Slyke was run over.


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[Commotion] was noticed in the main line.  There was every indication that a battle had been begun.  Garlinghouse’s testimony on this point is important, he has been in a number of indian fights and he testifies that the action of the indians on the 7th was the same as he had always observed under similar circumstances and at the time he thought “that they had come out to give us a stand off.”  Be this as it may whether the indians meant peace or war  there was no time to consider the two line men apparently in hostile [array] prisoners captured were “escaping”.  Van Slyke says the ‘whole affair’ did not last more than two minutes.  The result was that four indians were killed.  The retreating line was followed some three miles.  No shots being fired owing to the great distance which intervened.


Up to this time it was not known that the indians had so large number of horses ponies &e concealed in the brush but when the  [XXXX]  and returned to the indian camp.  It was ascertained that over fifty head of stock had been discovered


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which was taken possession of brought to Medicine Lodge an inventory thereof taken and forwarded it in due time to the Adjutant Genl of the State.  Afterward the stock was taken possession of by the State as being Captured in war.  All the testimony bearing upon the subject show that the Command when it returned to Medicine Lodge was received with demonstrations of joy.


Such in brief is a statement of the facts of the engagement of August 7th as will be seen by reference to the testimony herewith submitted.


And upon the testimony which contained an incontrovertible statement of facts.  I beg leave to submit the following conclusions:


I submit that from June 17th to the latter part of September there was an actual state of indian war existing in Bourbon County that the country outside of the stockade towns was given up and War a Common battle grounds, that it was wholly unsafe for white men to travel outside of the town unless in bodies and properly armed.  That there was armed bands of Indians scouting through the Country for the purpose of robbery and murder.  That a part of these bands were made up of Osages, that there was a necessity every day more apparent which led


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the settlers to arm and organize themselves into Mutual bodies for the purpose of Mutual protection.  And that they were so organized solely for protection and not [for] purpose (as has been charged in high places) of murder and theft [from] all I could see and hear both from conversation with the settlers who formed Rickers Company and charge who did not form I bear willing to testify that they are to all appearances peaceful and law abiding Citizens.  They [indignantly]  [XXXX]   the idea sought by certain parties to be maintained that they were organized for any other than a purely legitimate purpose.  It was only by organization that the homes of  [an] Indian  [XXX]  could be [averted], they were near three hundred miles from the Seat of government separated from Civilization by many miles of almost [trackless] prairie and in the immediate vicinity of powerful tribes of indians known to be hostile whenever opportunity offered added to this robberies had been committed and peacefully unoffending citizens, their neighbors and friends brutally murdered.  Organization was therefore for protection from like horrors an [immediate] necessity.  A careful examination of all the facts will lead to but one conclusion that the Indians attached on the 7th of August was a real party.  They were a part of Black Dogs band who according to Agt [Wilson],


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had left their reservation against his advice and consent.  They were declared by Stubbs (Agt. of the Kansas Indians) to be a mourning party they were undoubtedly a part of the same band which committed  [XXXX]  murders & robbery in Ford Bourbon and Comanche Counties prior to the 7th.  At [Kiowa] they were met by Lieut. Smith and ordered back to their reservation which orders they refused to obey.  While there they were insolent, one of their members was in full war costume, their chief the Indian with only one eye refused to talk English in fact all of the [surroundings] of the party were of hostile character, despite the testimony of some of the Indians, there was no party of women or children with them.


That this was a war party is abundantly shown by the action of the Indians on the 7th.  At first Ricker alone was seen pursuit was immediately  [XXXX]  after him.  If for purpose of peace was it necessary that these indians should have advanced with bows [drawn] and arrows in hand?  Was it necessary that a peaceful party should be decked in war costume and themselves and horses daubed in war paint.  Or was it necessary for a peaceful party to form in line of battle either to give or receive an attack.  Added to this there is no doubt in my mind but that Lieut. Mosley interpreted the language of the Indian who acted as chief when he [directed] the Indians [in] [line] to fire on our troops and that our line understood from Mosley as well as the action of the Indians that such directions had been given.  The indians knew the troubled


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state of affairs as they then existed and if only on a mission of peace they were well enough versed in such matters as to have made known the cause of their presence.  Failing to avail themselves of the rights [ascended] to peaceful Indians it was right they should be treated as enemies and I entertain no doubt but that every man in Ricker’s Comm and from Captain to the last private entertained but one belief in that day that they had confronted a War Party of Osages those who testify say so and the circumstances justify the conclusion in the fullest measure.


The attempts made by the Indian authorities to foster the charge of murder and robbery on the Whites is wholly and utterly without foundation.  It arises either from a misconception of the facts or a willful desire to malign and misrepresents as I cannot believe it is the latter it must be the former and in this I am sustained.  I charge that the statement of Mahlon Stubbs to the President’s Peace Conference is but the product of his imagination and in every important particular is wholly and utterly false.  And in the same category may be placed the statement of the Osage Indians.  If the proof was required to show the  [XXXX]


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which governed the efforts of Wilson, & Hoag to obtain testimony to obtain which [should] reflect on the whites and exonerate the Indians, it may be found in the action of Rankin who was sent [down] by Enoch Hoag to Medicine Lodge in January last.  Instead of going there for the truth in an open and manly way, he went in the character of a spy and detective.  When he arrived in Hutchinson he presented to Chas. C. Collins a letter of introduction and asked for a free transportation to Medicine Lodge [over] the Stage route of which Collins is owner.  He stated he was going there to look up a suitable [sheep] claim with a [view] of making a settlement.  When he arrived at Medicine Lodge he kept aloof of the inhabitants.  He sent for those citizens who were known to be disaffected with the state of affairs.  (See testimony of Van Slyke) and having secured all he could he left without locating his sheep claim.  His action is not the course which a man honestly seeking the truth would pursue.


I have endeavored in this hastily drawn report to give a correct history of the Indian troubles in Bourbon County such as will stand the test of testimony no matter how elaborately taken


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All of which is Respectfully Submitted

Lewis Hanback

Capt. Special A.D.C.


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