Indian Wars, Their Cost and Civil Expenditures

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The following are the Indian wars from 1789, the date of the United States constitution, to 1846, the years in which the same were fought, and the United States soldiers employed:

War with the northwest Indians, 1790-1795; force employed, 5,200.

William Henry Harrison’s expedition to the northwest, September 21 to November 1811; force employed, unknown.

Seminole war in 1818; force employed, 5,011.

Black Hawk war in 1832; force employed, 5,031.

Creek war in 1813, 1814, and 1837; force employed, 13,418.

The Cherokee war in 1837; force employed, 3,926.

The Florida war in 1839; force employed, 41,122.

Between 1846 and January 1, 1866, a period of 20 years, the United States was engaged in 2 wars, the first with Mexico and the second the War of the Rebellion, in which the Indians figured extensively.

During this period, also, in California, there were some 15 to 20 Indian wars or affairs.

The Indian wars of 1857, 1862, 1864, 1865, and 1866, in Minnesota and adjacent to that state, were bloody and costly, conducted by the Indians with frightful barbarity. The Sioux war, in March 1857, is known as the Ink-pa-du-ta war, or the Spirit Lake massacre.

It took 3 military expeditions to stop the Sioux massacres of 1863-1860, at a cost of $10,000,000; 10 military posts were created, with permanent garrisons of 3,000 men. The Sioux reservations in Minnesota were broken up and the bands removed from the state.

Indian wars took place from 1865 to 1879 as follows: the war in southern Oregon and Idaho and northern parts of California and Nevada, 1865-1868; the war against the Cheyennes, Arapahos, Kiowas, and Comanches, in Kansas, Colorado, and the Indian territory, 1868-1869; the Modoc war, in 1872 and 1873; the war against the Apaches of Arizona, 1873; the war against the Kiowas, Comanches, and Cheyennes, in Kansas, Colorado, Texas, Indian territory, and New Mexico, in 1874-1875; the war against the Northern Cheyennes and Sioux, in.1876-1877; the Nez Perce war, in 1877; the Bannock war, in 1878, and the war against the Northern Cheyennes in 1878-1879.

The Utes in Colorado and invading Indians from outside of Colorado caused 3 wars prior to 1890, and the Apaches in Arizona and New Mexico were murderous and destructive.

The number of actions between regular troops and Indians from 1866 to 1891 is 1,065; officers and men kept actively employed, an average of 16,000.

The above includes the Fetterman massacre of December 21, 1866, the Modoc, war of 1873, and the Custer battle of June 25, 1876.

In the battle of January 17, 1873, in the Modoc war, the Modoc women moved over the battlefield and dispatched the wounded soldiers by beating out their brains.

Almost the entire area of Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, and also that of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and other western states, were the scenes of numerous individual combats with the Indians by Boone, Kenton, Weitzel, Poe, Zane, and others, now known as middle state pioneers, whose names ornament history, and who long preceded Kit Carson, Jim Bridger, Beckworth, Meek, Slim Jennings, and other noted hunters, scouts, and Indian fighters to the west of the Mississippi river. It has been estimated that since 1775 more than 5,000 white men, women, and children have been killed in individual affairs with Indians, and more than 8,500 Indians. History, in general, notes but few of these combats.

The Indian wars under the government of the United States have been more than 40 in number. They have cost the lives of about 19,000 white men, women, and children, including those killed in individual combats, and of the lives of about 30,000 Indians.

The actual number of killed and wounded Indians must be very much greater than the number given, as they conceal, where possible, their actual loss in battle, and carry their killed and wounded off and secrete them. The number given above is of those found by the whites. Fifty percent additional would be a safe estimate to add to the numbers given.

The Sioux Outbreak of December 1890

The Sioux outbreak of December 1890 may be cited in illustration of an Indian war aided by government neglect. The report of the United States Indian agent at Rosebud agency (Sioux), adjoining Pine Ridge agency, South Dakota, is as follows:

United States Indian Service, Rosebud Agency, South Dakota,
November 2, 1890.

SIR: I deem it my duty to call the attention of the department to the extremely disaffected. and troublesome state of a portion of the Indians on this and other Sioux agencies.

The coming new order of things, as preached to this people. during the past 7 months, is the return to earth of their forefathers, the buffalo, elk, and all other game; the complete restoration of their ancient habits, customs, and power, and the annihilation of the white Man. This movement, which some 3 weeks ago it was supposed had been completely abandoned, while not so openly indulged in, is continually gaining new adherents, and they are daily becoming more threatening and defiant of the authorities.

This latter phase of the case may in a measure be attributed to the scant supply of rations, to which my attention has been almost daily called by the Indians, and especially to the reduction in the quantity of beef as compared to the issues of former years. They kill cows and oxen issued to them for breeding and working purposes, make no secret of doing so, and openly defy arrest; they say that the cattle were issued to them by the “Great Father”, and that it is their right to do as they please with them. This evil is increasing daily and if not checked there will be but very few of this class of stock left on the reservation by spring. During the past week it was reported to me that 2 Indians in the Red Leaf camp on Black Pipe creek had killed their cows for a feast at the “ghost dance”: I sent a policeman to bring them in; they refused to come. The following day I sent 2 officers and 8 policemen and they returned without the men, reporting that after they arrived at the camp they were surrounded by 75 or more Indians well armed and with plenty of ammunition, and they unanimously agreed that an attempt to arrest the offenders would have resulted in death to the entire posse. On Friday I sent the chief of police with an interpreter to explain matters and endeavor to bring the men in. They positively refused to come, and the chief of police reports that the matter is beyond the control of the police. This is one case which could be repeated indefinitely by attempting the arrest of parties guilty of the same offense.

The religious excitement, aggravated by almost starvation, is bearing fruits in this state of insubordination; Indians say they had better die fighting than to die a slow death of starvation, and as the new religion promises their return’ to earth at the coming of the millennium they have no great fear of death. To one not accustomed to Indians it is a hard matter to believe the confident assurance with which they look forward to the fulfillment of their prophet’s promises. The time first set for the inauguration of the now era was next spring, but I am reliably informed that it has since and only lately been advanced to the new moon after the next one, or about December 11. The indications are unmistakable; these Indians have within the past 3 weeks traded horses and everything else they could trade for arms and ammunition, and all the cash they become possessed of is spent in the same way. One of the traders here reports that Indians within the last 2 days have come into his store and offered to sell receipts for wood delivered at the agency, and for which no funds are on hand to pay them, for one-third of their value in cash. When asked what urgent necessity there was for such sacrifice of receipts for less than their face value, they answered that they wanted the cash to buy ammunition. These are some of the signs of the times and strongly indicate the working of the Indian mind.. To me there appears to be but one remedy (and all here agree with Inc), unless the old order of things (the Indians controlling the agency) is to be re-established, and that is a sufficient force of troops to prevent the outbreak which is imminent and which any one of a dozen unforeseen causes may precipitate.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. B. REYNOLDS, Special United States Indian Agent

The COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS, Washington, D, C..

In. December the army was moved to Pine Ridge, and on December 29, 1890, the battle of Wounded Knee creek, South Dakota, was fought, resulting in the loss of 1 officer and 24 men, the wounding of 3 officers and 32 men, and the killing of 128 and the wounding of 38 Sioux. The expenses of the Wounded Knee affair of December, 1890; are in the army expenditures for 1890-1891.

Soldiers And Indians Killed And Wounded In Battle

(As Far As Known), 1790-1842.

Wars Whites Indians
Total Killed Wounded Killed or Wounded Total Killed Wounded Killed or Wounded
Total 2,882 1,334 1,028 520 2,475 2,280 100 95
War with the northwest Indians 1,215 814 294 107 120 120
Harrison’s expedition to the northwest 188 62 126 270 170 100
War with the Creeks, 680 74 282 333 1,300 1,300
Black Hawk War 25 25 150 150
Florida and Seminole wars 765 384 326 55 635 540 95

War With The Northwest Indians, 1790-1795

Americans: killed, 814; wounded, 294; killed or wounded, 107; total, 1,215. Indians: killed, 120.

The Miamis, Wyandots, Delawares, Pottawatomies, Shawnees, Chippewas, and Ottawas of the northwestern territory made war against the United States under the Miami chief Michikiniqua. Their object was to drive the whites east of the Ohio.

Miami village, Ohio, September 30, 1790: fought between about 1,800 Americans under General Harmar and about 2,000 Indians under their various chiefs. The Americans were defeated. Americans, 183 killed and 31 wounded; Indians, 120 killed and 300 wigwams burned.

Near Miami village, Ohio, November 4,1791: fought between about 1,500 Miami Indians and the United States army, numbering 1,400 men, under General St. Clair. The Indians were victorious. Americans, 631 killed and 263 wounded; Indian loss unknown.

Miami Rapids, Ohio, August 20, 1794: fought between 2,000 Indians and 900 Americans, the latter under General Wayne. The Indians were totally routed. Americans, 107 killed and wounded; Indian loss unknown. Treaty of Greenville, August 3, 1795.

Harrison’s Expedition To The Northwest, 1811.

Americans: killed, 62; wounded, 126; total killed and wounded, 188. Indians: killed, 170; wounded, 1Q0; total killed and wounded, 270.

Tippecanoe, Indiana, November 7, 1811: fought between the Fourth United States regiment and a body of Kentucky and Indiana militia under General Harrison and Indians under the prophet. The Americans were victorious. Americans, 62 killed and 126 wounded; Indians, 170 killed and 100 wounded.

From September 21 to the last of November 1811: the Indians of the northwest having confederated under Tecumseh and his brother, the prophet, against the whites, General William Henry Harrison marched against them.

War With The Creeks, 1813-1814.

Americans: killed, 74; wounded, 282; killed or wounded, 333; total killed and wounded, 689, Indians killed, 1,300; wounded unknown.

The Creek Indians had adopted many of the arts of civilization, when the artful Tecumseh came among them and urged them to shake off the restraints of civilized life.

Massacre at Fort Minis (Creek Nation), August 30, 1813: the fort was garrisoned by Americans under Major Beasely when attacked by the savage Creeks. Only 17 out of 300 men, women, and children in the fort escaped to tell the tale.

Tallushatchee town (Creek Nation), November 2, 1813: fought between the Creeks and 900 Americans under General Coffee. The Creeks were defeated and their wigwams destroyed. Americans, 5 killed and 41 wounded; Creeks, 200 killed; wounded unknown.

Talladega (Creek Nation), November 7, 1813: General Jackson, with 2,000 Tennessee volunteers, met and defeated the Creeks at Talladega. Americans, 15 killed and 85 wounded; Creeks, 290 killed; wounded unknown.

Hillabeetown (Creek Nation), November 11, 1813: the Tennesseans, under General Jackson, met and defeated the Creeks, killing 60 of them.

Autossee (Creek Nation), November 29, 1813: General Floyd, with 950 Georgia militia and 400 friendly Indians, encountered the Creeks upon their sacred ground and defeated them. Americans, 50 killed and wounded; Creeks, 200 killed and 400 houses burned.

Eccanachaca, or Holy Ground (Creek Nation), December 23, 1813: General F. L. Claiborne, with a body of Mississippi volunteers, gained a victory over the Creeks under their prophet Weatherford.
Camp Defiance (Creek Nation), January 27, 1814: fought between the Creek Indians and the Americans under General Floyd. The Indians were defeated with great loss.

Tohopeka, or Horseshoe Bend (Creek Nation), March 27, 1814: fought between 1,000 Creek warriors and the Americans and friendly Indians under General Jackson. The latter were victorious. Americans, 54 killed and 156 wounded; Creeks, 550 killed; wounded unknown.

Black Hawk War, 1832.

Americans: killed and wounded, 25. Indians: killed, 150.

The Winnebagos, Sacs, and Foxes, becoming dissatisfied with the lands to which the United States government had removed them, recrossed the Mississippi in April 1832, under their chief Black Hawk, and entering upon the lands which they had sold to the United States, broke up the white settlements, killing whole families and burning their dwellings. General Scott was ordered to march against them, but before he could reach the scene of action the Indians were routed by the forces under General Atkinson after several skirmishes. The most important engagement was the battle of the Iowa, August 2, 1832, fought between 1,300 Americans under General Atkinson and Indians under Black Hawk. The latter were defeated. Americans, 25 killed and wounded; Indians, 150 killed and 39 made prisoners. Treaties were made September 15 and 21, 1832.

The Florida War, 1835-1842

Americans: killed, 384; wounded, 326, 5 of whom were hanged; killed or wounded, 55; total, 765. Indians: killed, 540; wounded unknown; killed or wounded, 95; total, 635, as far as known.

This war was caused by the refusal of the Seminoles to remove from Florida to lands provided for them west of the Mississippi.

Tampa bay, Florida, December 28, 1835: a company of 177 United States troops under Major Dade were attacked by a large party of the Indians and all but 3 killed.

Withlacoochee, Florida, December 31, 1835: about 250 United States regulars and volunteers under General Clinch engaged 300 Seminoles under Osceola and repulsed them. Americans, 4 killed and 59 wounded; Seminoles, 40 killed; wounded unknown.

Near the Withlacoochee, Florida, February 29, 1836: fought between 1,100. Americans under General Gaines and 1,500 Seminoles under Osceola. The latter were repulsed. Americans, 4 killed and 38 wounded; Indians, supposed 390 killed and wounded.

Near Fort Brook, Florida, April 27,1836: fought between the United States volunteers and the Indians. The latter were defeated. Americans, 2 killed and 24 wounded; Indians, 200 killed; wounded unknown.

Micanopy, Florida, Jane 9, 1836: fought and won by 75 Americans under Major Heilman against over 200 Indians.

Well-ka-pond, Florida. July 18,1836: fought and won by 62 American regulars under Captain Ashby against a superior force of Indians. Americans, 2 killed and 9 wounded.

Fort Drane, Florida, August 21, 1836: fought between 110 Americans under Major Pierce and 300 Seminoles under Osceola. The latter were defeated. Americans, 1 killed and 16 wounded; Indian loss unknown.

Wahoo swamp, Florida, November 17 to 21, 1836: General Armstrong and General Call, with 1,850 men, defeated a large force of Indians. Americans, 55 killed and wounded; Indians, 95.

Lake Monroe, Florida, February 8, 1837: fought between a party of Seminoles and a detachment of Americans under Colonel Fanning. The Indians were repulsed. Americans, 1 killed and 15 wounded.

Okee-Chobee, Florida, December 25, 1837: fought and won by 1,000 Americans under Colonel Taylor against a large force of Seminoles. Americans, 26 killed and 111 wounded; Indian loss unknown.

Loche-Hachee, Florida, January 24, 1838: fought between the United States troops under General Jessup and the Indians. The, former were victorious. Americans, 7 killed and 32 wounded; Indian loss unknown.

Newnansville, Florida,. June 28, 1838: a strong force of Indians were repulsed by 112 Americans under Major Beall. Americans, 1 killed and 5 wounded.

Coleoshatchié, Florida, July 23, 1839: a party of 28 Americans armed with Colt rifles were attacked by the Indians and 13 of them killed.

Fort Andrews, Florida, November 27, 1839: 40 Indians were repulsed by 17 Americans. Americans, 2 killed and 5 wounded.

Near Fort King, Florida, April 28, 1840: Captain Rains, United States army, while out scouting with 16 men, was assaulted by 98 Indians and Negroes, from whom he escaped with a loss of 7 men.

May 19, 1840: Lieutenant Sanderson, while out scouting with 17 men, was attacked by 90 Indians; he retired with a loss of 7 men.

Wacahootah, Florida, September 8, 1840: 30 Americans under Lieutenant Hanson were. defeated by 100 Indians in ambuscade. Americans, 1 killed and 4 wounded.

Everglades of Florida, December 3 to 24, 1840: Colonel Harney, with 90 men; an expedition against the Indian camp. Americans, killed, 4; wounded, 6, of whom 5 were afterward hanged.

Hawk River, Florida, January 25, 1842: the Indians under Halleck Tustenugge were defeated by 80 men of the Second United States infantry under Major Plymton. Americans, 1 killed and 2 wounded.

April 19, 1842: Pelaklikaha (Big Hammock), the stronghold of Halleck Tustenugge, was captured by Colonel Worth with 400 men.

Between 1846 and January 1, 1866, there were some 15 or 20 Indian wars or affairs, in which it is estimated , that 1,500 whites were killed and 7,000 Indians.

The Sioux war in 1857 resulted in the massacre of 42 white men, women, and children.

In the actions between regular troops and Indians, from 1866 to 1891, the number of whites killed was 1,452; wounded, 1,101; the number of Indians killed was 4,363; wounded, 1,135.

Cost of the Indians to the United States

Cost of the Indians to the United States
Cost of the Indians to the United States

Civil Expenditure From July 4, 1776, To June 30, 1890.

Beginning with the Declaration of independence, the expenditures of Indian administration on account of treaties and other expenses, including yearly payments for annuities and kindred charges to the government, from July 4, 1776, to June 30, 1890, were annually as shown in the image.

 

Military Expenditure From July 4, 1776, To June 30, 1890

The military expenditures have exceeded the expenses of the civil administration by hundreds of millions of dollars.

Since the advent of the European in the present United States there have been almost constant wars between whites and Indians, outbreaks, or massacres, beginning on the Pacific side in 1.539 and on the Atlantic side after 1600. The wars and outbreaks arose from various causes: from resistance by the Indian to the white man’s occupation of his land; from the white man’s murder of Indians; from the Indian’s murderous disposition; from national neglect and failure to keep treaties and solemn promises; from starvation, and so on. Within the past 100 years the Indians’ chief complaint was against the acts of individuals; when the reservation system became general the complaints changed from charges against, settlers to charges of breach of faith against the United States, many of which in the past, 20 years have been confirmed by investigation.

The authorities as to these wars are numerous and much scattered; so much so that it would require years to collect the data to make a history of Indian wars. No such history has been written, and probably none will be. Prior to the organization of the government of the United States in 1789 individual. companies of adventurers, various European governments, and the colonies were engaged in almost constant bloodshed with the Indians. ‘War seems to have been a normal condition of a great portion of the American race; whether for food or conquest, it matters not. By their own statements made to Europeans at their first coming war was one of the occupations of the Indians, if not their chief occupation. Indian tribal wars must have been bloody, as they seldom took prisoners; at least this was the rule in several nations. Of these and the Indians, contact with the first emigrants to New England, Albert Gallatin wrote in 1836 as follows:

The first emigrants to New England were kindly received by the Indians; and their progress was facilitated by the calamitous disease which had recently swept off great numbers of the natives in the quarter where the first settlements were made. The peace was disturbed by the colonization of Connecticut River, The native chiefs had been driven away by Sassacus, sachem of the Pequods. From them the Massachusetts emigrants purchased the lands and commenced the settlement in the year 1635. Sassacus immediately committed hostilities. The Pequod war, as it is called, terminated (1637) in total subjugation of the Pequods, and was followed by 40 years of comparative peace. The principal event during that period was a war between Uncas, sachem of the Mohegans and of the conquered Pequods, who appears to have been a constant though subordinate ally of the British, and Miantonimo, sachem of the Narragansets, who had indeed assisted them against the Pequods, but seems to have afterward entertained hostile designs against them. He brought 900 warriors into the field against Uncas, who could oppose him with only 500. Miantonimo was nevertheless defeated, made prisoner, and delivered by Uncas to the English. After due deliberation the commissioners of the United Colonies of New England determined that he might be justly, and ought to be, put to death, but that this should be done out of the English jurisdiction and without any act of cruelty. He was accordingly delivered again to Uncas and killed. The act at this day appears unjustifiable. The English had not taken an active part in. the contest. They might have refused to receive him from Uncas. But, this having been done, he was under their protection, and, however dangerous to them, ought to have been either released altogether or kept a prisoner.

The Narragansets from that time kept the colonies in a state of perpetual uneasiness. Yet the war which broke out in 1675, commonly called King Philip’s war, can hardly be ascribed to this or to any other particular circumstance, and appears to have been the unavoidable result of the relative situation in which the Indians and the whites were placed. Collisions had during the preceding period often occurred; but no actual hostilities of any importance had taken place, and Massachusetts particularly, though exposed to obloquy on that account, always interposed to prevent a war. If the Indians were not always kindly, at least it can not be said that they were in general unjustly treated. With the exception of the conquered Pequods, no lands were ever forcibly taken from them. They were all gradually purchased from those sachems, respectively, in whose possession they were. But there, as everywhere else, the Indians, after a certain length of time, found that in selling their lands they had lost their usual means of subsistence; that they were daily diminishing; that the gradual progress of the whites was irresistible; and., as a last effort, though too late, they attempted to get rid of the intruders. The history of the Indians in the other British colonies is everywhere substantially the same. The massacre of the whites in Virginia in the years 1622 and 1614, the Tuscarora war of North Carolina in 1712, that with the Yemassees of South Carolina in 1715, were natural results flowing from the same cause; and in the year 1755, after a peace of 70 years, notwithstanding all the efforts made to avert it, the storm burst even in Pennsylvania.

Metacom, or King Philip, as he is generally called, was sachem of the Wampanoags, and son of Massassoit, the first and faithful friend of the first settlers of the New Plymouth colony. His most powerful and active ally was Canonchet, son of Miantonimo, and principal sachem of the Narragansets. A portion of the Indians of that nation, under another chief named Ninigret, the Mohegans, and the Pequods fought on the English side. The other tribes of Connecticut, with the exception of some in the northern parts of the colony, appear to have remained neutral. The converted Indians of Massachusetts were friendly. All the other New England. Indians, assisted by the Abenaki tribes, joined in the war. Its events are well known, and that, after a most bloody contest of 2 years, during which the 2 colonies of Massachusetts and Plymouth experienced great losses, it terminated in the complete destruction or dispersion of the hostile Indians. Philip, after the most desperate efforts, was killed on the field of battle, Canonchet shared the fate of his father, having been, like him, taken prisoner in an engagement and afterward shot. A small number only of the Indians who had taken arms accepted terms of submission. The greater part of the survivors joined the eastern tribes or those of Canada. Some took refuge among the Mohicans of Hudson River. Among those who did not at that time join the Indians in the French interest were those afterward known by the name of Shotacooks, from the place of their new residence on the Hudson, some distance above Albany. They, however, at a subsequent epoch, became hostile, and removed to Canada at the commencement of the 7 years war.

From the termination of Philip’s war till the conquest of Canada, the eastern and northern frontiers of New England continued exposed to the predatory and desolating attacks of the eastern and Canada Indians.

Indian tribal wars in the United States continued up to 1868. The efforts of the early Europeans were directed toward the stopping of these tribal wars, although European governments, when at war within the United States, did not hesitate to employ Indians against the whites.

Of the colonial Indian tribal wars east of the western boundary of New York, Albert Gallatin wrote in 1836:
The Indians east of the Connecticut River never were, however, actually subjugated by the Five Nations. In the year 1669 the Indiana of Massachusetts carried on even offensive operations against the Maquas, marched with about 600 men into Mohawk country, and attacked one of their forts. They were repulsed with considerable loss, but in 1671 peace was made between them through the interference of -the English and Dutch at Albany, and the subsequent alliance between the Five Nations and the British, after they had become permanently possessed of Now York, appears to have preserved the New England Indians from further attacks.

In the matter of European nations using Indians in war against whites, Albert Gallatin wrote in 1836:

But instead of exerting their influence in assuaging the passions of the Indians and in promoting peace among them, the European governments, intent only on the acquisition of territory and power, encouraged their natural propensities. Both France and England courted a disgraceful alliance with savages, and both, under the usual pleas of self-defense and retaliation, armed them against the defenseless inhabitants of the other party. The sack of Schenectady, the desolation of the island of Montreal, the murdering expeditions on the frontiers of New England, are related by the respective historians with indifference, if not with exultation. No scruple was felt in including all the Indian tribes to carry on against America their usual warfare, and to desolate, without discrimination of age or sex, the whole extent of a frontier of 1,200 miles during the 7 years of the War of Independence.

The United States are at least free from that reproach. If their population has pressed too fast on the natives, if occasionally they have too forcibly urged purchases of land, their government, ever since they were an independent nation, has not only used every endeavor to be at peace with the Indians but has succeeded in preventing war among them to a degree heretofore unknown in America; and at Ghent they proposed an article in the treaty of peace by which both nations should engage, if unfortunately they were again at war, never to employ the savages as auxiliaries.

The expense of war with Indians within the present area of the United States was borne chiefly by the European nations interested, up to the Declaration of independence in 1776, and the Indians were freely used against each other and against the colonists.

The United States at times has supplied arms to the Indians, and frequently citizens or soldiers have been killed with the same arms. In the treaty made in 1828 with the Western Cherokees for the surrender of lands on the Arkansas and White Rivers, and their removal to a tract in what is now Indian Territory, one of the considerations was a rifle to each Indian.

In the many Indian wars the causes and provocations have not always come from the Indian. While the nation at times supplied the Indian with firearms, ammunition, and scalping knives, it did not employ him against white foes, except in the War of the Rebellion, when Indians were enlisted as soldiers on both sides. Indian soldiers and scouts have been employed against Indians, but never, with the exception noted, against whites.

The amount expended in Indian wars from 1776 to June 30, 1890, can only be estimated. The several Indian wars after 1776, including the war of 1812, in the west and northwest, the Creek, Black Hawk, and Seminole wars, up to 1860, were bloody and costly.

Except when engaged in war with Great Britain, Mexico, or during the rebellion (1861-1865), the United States army was almost entirely used for the Indian service, and stationed largely hi the Indian country or along the frontier. In 1890, 70 per cent of the army was stationed west of the Missouri River, 66 per cent being in the Indian country. It will be fair to estimate, taking out the years of foreign wars with England, namely. 1812-1815, $66,614,912.34, and with Mexico, 1846-1848, $73,941,735.12, and the rebellion, 1861-1865, and reconstruction, 1865.4870, $3,374,359,360.02, that at least three-fourths of the total expense of the army is chargeable, directly or indirectly, to the Indians. During our foreign wars and the War of the Rebellion many of the Indian tribes were at war with the United States, and others were a constant danger, a large force being necessary to hold them in subjection; but expense on this account m dropped from the estimate.

The total expense of the army of the United States from March 4, 1789, to June 30, 1890, was $4,725,521,495; deducting $3,514,911,007.48 for foreign wars and the War of the Rebellion, the remainder is $1,210,610,487.52. Two-thirds of this sum, it is estimated, was expended for Indian wars and for army services incidental to the Indians, namely, $807,073,658.34 (cost of fortifications, posts, and stations being deducted).

Adding the expense of the civil administration $259,914,082.34, we have an estimated cost of the Indians to the United States from July 4, 1776, to June 30, 1890, of $1,067,017,740.64 aside from the amounts reimbursed to states for their expenses in war with Indians and aside from pensions.

As indicating that time estimate of military expenses on account of Indians is not too high it may be mentioned that on March 4, 1882, the Secretary of War, under Senate resolution of January 24, 1882, asking the cost to the government of Indian wars for the 10 years from 1872 to 1882, reported that it was $202,994,506. (See Senate Executive Document No. 123, Forty-seventh Congress, first session, March 0, 1882. In the same connection see also the following: Senate Executive Document No. 33, Forty-fifth Congress, second session, for cost of the Indian war of 1876-1877, and Senate Executive Document No. 313, part 2, Forty-fifth Congress, second session; Senate Executive Document No. 14, Forty-fifth Congress, second session, giving expenses of the Nez Perce wars; Senate Executive Document No. 15, Forty-sixth Congress, third Session, for report on expenses of certain Indian wars, 1865-1879.)

It has been the policy of the national government since 1828 to refund to states and territories the money paid out by them in suppressing Indian hostilities. This liability was urged because the national government treated the Indians as nations, thus keeping them from citizenship and control by the several states.

It may be safely stated that the cost to the United States for this class of claims for reimbursement for money paid out for equipment of troops, and other expenses by states and territories in the Indian outbreaks, will aggregate $10,000,000. No accurate statement of this cost has ever been made.

To illustrate the number and variety of these claims some instances are given, as follows:

In California the expenses of all Indian wars prior to January 1, 1854, were to be settled by the nation under the act of Congress of August 5, 1854. The amount to be paid was not to exceed $924,259.65, This was for equipment, expenses, and pay of volunteers for Indian expeditions in almost every portion of the state. The expenses of Indian wars in California from January 1, 1854, to March 2, 1861, were paid by the nation by act of Congress of March 2, 1861, amounting to $230,529.76. This included the Shasta war of 1831, Siskiyou war of 1855, Klamath and Humboldt war of 1855, San. Bernardino of 1855, Modoc of 1855, Klamath of 1856, Tulare of 1856″ Klamath and Humboldt of 1858-1859, and Pitt River of 1859.

The expenses of the Humboldt Indian expedition of 1861 in California were paid by the nation by act of Congress of June 27, 1882. There were claims by California for the Mendocino expedition against the Indians of 1859 of $9,294.53 and for the Carson valley or Washoe Indian war of 1860 of $11,355.62. This last expedition was undertaken by Californians to aid the settlers on the border of Utah, now in Nevada. The expense of California in the Modoc war of 1872-1873 was repaid by the nation by act of Congress of January 6, 1883, as well as the claims of volunteers; in all, $4,441.33.

The Mormons after 1846, in treating with the Indians, acted upon the belief that it was cheaper to feed than to fight them; still, the Indians, while taking the Mormons’ food frequently committed murder on defenseless Mormons. In 1849-1850 an expedition against the Utes by the Mormons, which was partially in charge of Lieutenant Howland of Stansbury’s expedition, in a short time killed over 100 Utes and captured half as many more.

The state of Oregon, under the act of Congress of January 6, 1883, received $70,268.08 for moneys paid out for suppressing Modoc Indian hostilities during the Modoc war of 1872-1873.

The “White Pine” Indian war of 1875 in Nevada cost the state $17,650.98, refunded by the nation. This was merely a scare and a stampede. The troops never overtook the unfortunate Indians, who had the lead.

“The Elk Indian war” of 1878 in Nevada cost that state $4,654.64, which was also refunded by the nation. This was another race, with the Indians in the lead.

The national legislation for this class of claims, beginning in 1828, is as follows:

By act approved March 21, 1828, the Secretary of War was required to pay the claims of the militia of the state of Illinois and the territory of Michigan, called out by any competent authority, on the occasion of the then recent Indian disturbances, and that the expenses incident to the expedition should be settled according to the justice of the claims. (See Laws of the United States, volume 4, page 258.)

By act approved March 1, 1837, an appropriation was made for the payment of the Tennessee volunteers, called out by the proclamation of Governor Cannon, on the 28th of April, 1836, to suppress Indian hostilities, and a. direct appropriation was also made to Governor Cannon to reimburse him for moneys expended on account of such volunteers, (Sec Laws of the United States, volume 5, page 150.)

By act approved March 3, 1841, a direct appropriation was made to the city of Mobile for advances of Money and expenses incurred in equipping, mounting, and sending to the place of rendezvous 2 full companies of mounted men, under a call from the governor of Alabama, at the beginning of the hostilities of the Creek Indians. (See Laws; volume 5, page 435.)

By act of August 11, 1812, $175,000 was appropriated as a balance for the payment and indemnity of the state of Georgia, for any moneys actually paid by said state on account of expenses in calling out her militia during the Seminole, Cherokee, and Creek campaigns, or for the suppression of Indian hostilities in Florida and Alabama. (See Laws, volume 5, page 501.) By act approved August 29, 1842, a similar appropriation was made to the state of Louisiana, (See Laws, volume 5, page 512,)

By act approved July 7, 1838, an appropriation was made to the state of New York of such amount as should be found due by the Secretary of War and the accounting officers of the Treasury out of the appropriation for the prevention of hostilities on the northern frontier, to reimburse the state for expenses inclined in the protection of the frontier in the pay of volunteers and militia called into service by the governor. (See 5 United States Statutes, page 268.) By an act approved Jima 13, 1842, the state of Maine was reimbursed for the expenses of the militia called into service by the governor for the protection of the northeastern frontier, (See 5 United States Statutes, page 490.)

By act approved March 2, 1801, the state of California had appropriated to her $400,000 to defray the expenses incurred by the state in suppressing Indian hostilities for the years, 1854, 1855, 1856, 1858, and 1859. (See 12 United States Statutes, page 199,)

By act approved July 2, 1836, Captains Smith, Crawford, Wallis, and Long of the militia of Missouri, and Captain Sigler of the Indiana militia, were paid for services rendered in protection of those states against Indians, and an appropriation of $4,300 was made for that purpose. (See 5 United States Statutes, page 71.)

By act approved February 2, 1861, there was appropriated to reimburse the territory of Utah “for expenses incurred in suppressing Indian hostilities in said territory in the year 1853″, the sum of $53,512. (See 12 United States Statutes, page 15,) This bill wire considered by the House Military Committee, and was reported by Mr. Stanton, who, in his report, says:

The liability of the federal government for necessary expenses incurred by the stales and territories in repelling invasions of their territory by a foreign enemy, or of hostile tribes at Indians within our borders, has been so often recognized that it can no longer be considered an open question.

The committee also believe that the notion of the state and territorial authorities in calling out their military force and engaging in hostilities furnished at least prima facie evidence of the necessity of their notion.
As there is no evidence before the committee lending to show that these expense were unnecessarily incurred, the committee feel bound to recognize the liability of the claim.

By the act approved June 21, 1860 (it being an army appropriation bill), the sum of’ $18,988 was appropriated to reimburse the state of Iowa for the expenses of militia called out by the governor “to protect the frontier from Indian incursions “. (See 12 United States Statutes, page 68.)

By the same act the sum of $123,544.51 was appropriated to the state of Texas for the “payment of volunteers called out in the defense of the frontier of the state since the 28th of February, 1855 “. By the “act making appropriations for the sundry civil expenses of the government for the year ending Jane, 1864, and for other purposes”, an appropriation was incite “to pay the governor of the state of Minnesota, or his duly authorized agent, the costs, charges, and expenses properly incurred by said state in suppressing Indian hostilities within said state and upon its borders, in the year 1802, not exceeding $250,000, to be settled upon proper vouchers to be filed and passed upon by the proper accounting officers of the Treasury “. (See 12 United States Statutes, page 754.)

In the sundry civil hill of the following year an appropriation of the sum of $117,000 was made to the same state “to supply a deficiency in the appropriation for the costs, charges, and expense properly incurred by the state of Minnesota, in suppressing Indian hostilities in the year 1862 “. (See 13 United States Statutes, pages 350, 351.)

By act approved May 28, 1864, the sum of $928,411 was appropriated for the payment of damages sustained by citizens of Minnesota “by reason of the depredations and injuries by certain bands of Sioux Indians “. (See 13 United States Statutes, page 92.)

Besides the appropriation made to the state of California by act approved August 5, 1854, the sum of $924,259,65 was appropriated to reimburse the state for expenditures “in the suppression of Indian hostilities within the state prior to the 1st day of January 1854 “. (See United States. Statutes at Large for 1853-4854.)

August 4, 1886, a general act created a board of war claim examiners under the Secretary of War, to which all Indian war claims were referred for report to Congress as to allowance. The act was entitled “An act for the benefit of the state’s of Texas, Colorado, Oregon, Nebraska, California, Kansas, and Nevada, and the territory of Washington, and Nevada when a territory”. The purpose of this act was to relieve Congress of the pressure of such claims.

The total cost to the United States for pensions to the Survivors or widows of these Indian Wars June 1, 1890 was estimated at $28,201,632.



MLA Source Citation:

Department of the Interior. Report on Indians Taxed and Indians not Taxed in the United States, Except Alaska at the Eleventh Census: 1890. Washington DC: Government Printing Office. 1894. AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 24 October 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/indian-wars-their-cost-and-civil-expenditures.htm - Last updated on Oct 27th, 2012


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