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IVILIZATION extending in opposite directions, Westward across the great Valley of the Mississippi, and Eastward traversing the auriferous regions of the Rocky Mountains, presents two extensive fields of American Industry, approximating each other, and demanding a more convenient and rapid intercourse. Railways and Telegraphs have boldly penetrated the solitude of the Plains, and the wild Passes of the Mountains reverberate to the rumble of moving trains. The two oceans are already linked together by an Iron Highway. The savage, alarmed at this new encroachment, is ready at any moment for a desperate, probably a final effort to drive out the invaders of his hunting-grounds. Fearful of his future he opposes such encroachments, for in them he sees no benefit to the remnant of his race, who have taken refuge on the plains and in the mountains.
The struggle has come, to solve, for all time, the question whether the white or the red man shall prevail in the vast intermediate region between Eastern and Western civilization. The exigencies of modern civilization point to the inevitable doom of the aboriginal people of the United States. Their savage natures, incapable of restraint, render them by instinct foes to progress and the cause of humanity. As with the buffalo the approach of civilization is to them the knell of destruction. As the murderous bullet of the white hunter ruthlessly slaughters the buffalo, so the vices of civilization carry off those of the red men who have outlived their kindred.
The following chapters contain a narrative of more than six months spent on the Southern Plains, observing the operations
of the army personally directed by Major, now Lieutenant General Sheridan against the refractory savage on the Republican, the Arkansas and the Washita.
The curiosity of friends, as well as a seeming general desire to know something more of the country constituting the unexplored hunting-grounds of the Comanche, the Kiowa, the merciless Cheyenne, and Arrapahoe, and these predatory people themselves, are the considerations that have induced me to give my somewhat rough and novel experience in this form.
The campaign was an exceptional one. There was much in it that had never characterized any previous undertaking against the savages. The season of the year was against all precedent for active hostilities. Most of the country was entirely unknown. These people, in a majority of cases, had come in contact with but a few semi-savage traders, or with the white settler, during their murderous depredations upon his cabins. The object was to show to the savages the ability of the "white man's soldiers" to brave the storms of winter, and to surmount this barrier, which had in former years protected them. In my narrative I have endeavored to combine useful information with entertaining reading. In this view I have given much of the soldier's life on the plains.
Hoping, therefore, that this volume will possess some feature that will recommend it, and in a measure supply the wants of a large number of persons who appear to have suddenly turned their attention to the Indian and the country he inhabits, the writer submits these pages.
I add my acknowledgments of the courtesy of F. C. Newhall, Esq., for the use of the admirable portrait of General Sheridan, found in the beginning of this volume.
WASHINGTON, D. C., 1870.