Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – The Indian Home Guard

Below the listing of Iowa’s summaries is this short section with the heading “Indian Brigade”:

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In earlier quarters, we’ve discussed the origins of the Indian Brigade, or more specifically the units in the Indian Home Guard. For the second and third quarters, only a section from 3rd Indian Home Guard Regiment appeared in the summaries. Here, we find two entries. The lower of the two is consistent with earlier quarters. But the upper line is a fresh field to consider:

  • Company E, 2nd Indian Home Guards: Actually reading “2nd Infy’ | Arty Stores|” or something along those lines. The unit is reporting from Fort Gibson… indicated as “Arkansas” but this should read “Cherokee Nation” or “Indian Territories.” During the war, the post was sometimes cited as Fort Blunt. The line reports two 12-pdr field howitzers. No leads as to who was in charge of this pair of howitzers. But in the time period we are reviewing, Major Moses B.C. Wright commanded the 2nd Indian Home Guards.
  • Company L, 3rd Indian Home Guards: And again to be precise this line reads “3rd Infy’ Indian Home Guard, Stores.” No location given, but the 3rd was also operating out of Fort Gibson/Blunt. The report indicates three 12-pdr mountain howitzers. We have connected Captain Solomon Kaufman with these cannon in previous quarters.

At the end of December, 1863, the Indian Home Guards were part of the First Brigade, District of the Frontier, Department of Missouri. Colonel William A. Phillips, who’d led the organization of these guards, led the brigade, with his headquarters at Fort Gibson/Blunt. In addition to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Indian Home Guards, the brigade included the 14th Kansas Cavalry. Their mission was to maintain the lines between Fort Gibson, Fort Smith, and other Federal strongholds in the district. With that charge, these regiments did a lot of patrolling, with much interaction with Confederate forces operating in the same area.

The details about the artillery use of these units remains an unclear and imprecise area of my studies. Certainly these cannon were employed to defend the post. And at times they are used to support patrols. As mentioned in the second quarter discussion, the mountain howitzers were used at Cabin Creek in July 1863. Beyond that, I can only speculate.

Turning to the ammunition reported, howitzers need shells and case shot:

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  • 2nd Home Guards: 130 shell and 124 case for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • 3rd Home Guards: 50 case for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.

And canister on the next page:

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  • 2nd Home Guards: 19 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • 3rd Home Guards: 60 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.

No rifled projectiles were reported on hand, of course. So we move to the small arms:

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  • 2nd Home Guards: Three .69-caliber musketoons, 31 Sharps’ .52-caliber rifles, and one Colt navy revolver.
  • 3rd Home Guards: One Sharps’ .52-caliber cabine and 33 Sharps’ .52-caliber rifles.

And those Sharps’ needed cartridges:

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  • 2nd Home Guards: 1,000 Sharps cartridges.

As for powder, not much reported:

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  • 3rd Home Guards: Two pounds of musket powder.

The presence of even a small number of howitzers at the advance post of Fort Gibson was an important resource in the hands of Federal commanders in this theater of war. On the Confederate side, several officers noted the lack of artillery supporting their allies from the tribes. And the Federals were keen to maintain their edge in regard to the artillery. In correspondence dated February 11, 1864, sent to Colonel Phillips in Fort Gibson, Major-General Samuel Curtis noted that more artillery was needed at that post. Underscoring that desire, three days later Curtis communicated to Major-General Henry Halleck, in Washington, his designs to strengthen the hold in the Indian Territories, pointing out, “Fort Gibson has been fortified by the volunteers, making it a pretty safe position; but some finishing and repairing are necessary, and two or three good siege guns would be a great additional strength.”

Yes, a couple of heavy guns in the blockhouses would ensure control of the Arkansas River. And with that a sizable portion of the territory beyond. However, there is no indication Halleck considered Curtis’ request.

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Summary Statement, 3rd Quarter, 1863 – the Indian Brigade’s howitzers

Perhaps a Zane Gray reference is apt here… in that we have “Vanishing Americans”:

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Last quarter, we noted an entry for the 3rd Regiment of the Indian Home Guards.  For the third quarter, we find an entry which seems to have suffered from the eraser.  I can’t say for sure, but the return looks to have posted in November:

  • Company L (?), 3rd Regiment: Location is illegible, but much clearer is the notation for two 12-pdr mountain howitzers.  If indeed I transcribe the company column correctly, we have a direct connection to Captain Solomon Kaufman, who is mentioned in several reports as in charge of a section of howitzers.  The 3rd regiment, along with most of the Indian Brigade, remained around Fort Gibson.  The howitzer section was, in the previous quarter, at Fort Blunt, a supporting work of Fort Gibson.  The 3rd Regiment was under Major John A. Foreman, with Colonel William A. Phillips advanced up to command the brigade.

While I feel secure with the identification and transcription, the faded ink leaves me to wonder.  Clearly the Indian Brigade had a section of howitzers and dutifully reported such.  But is this a case where a clerk attempted to erase the entry?  Or perhaps he was running low on ink when transcribing the return?  Regardless, the bold header tells us the Ordnance Department was interested in the Indian Brigade… if for no other reason than to account for all government issued property!

We turn to the ammunition now.  What did they feed those mountain howitzers?

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  • Company L, 3rd Regiment: 70 case and 72 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzer.

Sufficient for an expedition.  Though one would hope more ammunition was on hand, perhaps retained at in garrison’s stores.

Three (one, two, three) pages of empty cells, as the brigade had no rifled guns at this time.  So we move to the small arms:

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  • Company L, 3rd Regiment: Fifty-one “Springfield rifled musket, cal. 58,” two breechloading carbines, three rifles (unspecified type), and one Army revolver.

Note, no edged weapons reported.  And I have to speculate if the small arms reported were the total number with the company at that time.  Clearly fifty-one muskets would be much more than needed for the crew of two mountain howitzers.  So was Company L best considered as Kaufman’s howitzer section, with its accompanying supports?  Or was there a half company of skirmishers here supported by a pair of little mountain howitzers?  Either way, those small cannon were put to good use combating Confederate raiders in the Indian Territory.

Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – Howitzers of the Indian Brigade

Below the lengthy listings for Indiana’s batteries are several short sections to consider:

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We might “bash” through these in a run, covering seventeen batteries at once.  But that wouldn’t be as much fun, when we have time to examine each section in turn… and in detail.  Besides, the first section to consider introduces an entirely new formation – the Indian Brigade:

Briefly – as the story of the Indian Nations during the Civil War is both interesting and complex – the Indian Brigade consisted of four regiments formed from loyal members of the Civilized Tribes.  And that is a gross oversimplification.  The Cherokee, for instance, were deeply split between those who favored the Confederacy and those who remained loyal to the Union.  And that split was convoluted, with some individuals changing sides in the middle of the war.  Early in the war with the successful Confederate diplomatic efforts, the Nations were allied with the Confederates.  Military formations from the Nations fought in several noteworthy actions.  But by mid-1862 there was dissatisfaction within the Nations around the alliance, partly reflecting inter-tribal politics.  With that, refugees – some of whom were deserters from the Confederate-allied formations – moved north to Kansas and Missouri.

Federal authorities formed three Indian Home Guard Regiments, from those seeking refuge and from active recruiting in the Indian Territories, through the summer and fall of 1862. (Two more would be started, but never completely form by war’s end.) It is my understanding these regiments were formed somewhat like the US Colored Troops were later in the war – with white officers appointed, mostly from volunteer regiments.  Those regiments saw service through the war in the District of the Frontier (Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, and the Territories) constituting the Indian Brigade.  Their most important role was providing garrisons as the Federals tried to regain some semblance of control in the Indian Territories.

And again… I’m trying to shove into a few paragraphs what deserves (and has received) book-length treatment. What concerns us are those three regiments.  And most specifically the 3rd Regiment.

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The line we have is:

  • Third Regiment:  Fort Blunt, C.N. (Cherokee Nation).  Two 12-pdr mountain howitzers.

The Third Regiment formed through the summer of 1862 under Colonel William A. Phillips, a Scottish-born lawyer and correspondent who’d been an active free-state advocate in pre-war Kansas.   The regiment saw active service through the fall and winter, particularly during the Prairie Grove campaign.  During the winter months, the Indian Brigade moved into the Cherokee Nation.  One of the main garrisons established (or perhaps re-established is a way to put it) was at Fort Gibson, close to the confluence of the Neosho River (known as Grand River in that stretch) and the Arkansas River.  The brigade built Fort Blunt just above Fort Gibson.

So the location given matches to what we know of the regiment’s activities.  But who “commanded” those two mountain howitzers?  For that we turn to the Official Records.  Reports for operations in June and July 1863, including the First Battle of Cabin Creek, mention Captain Solomon Kaufman in charge of a detachment of howitzers.  And Kaufman’s name is associated with the howitzers in later reports, well into 1864.  So it appears those were “his” charge.

Kaufman was, as the name might suggest, another officer transferred from the volunteers to the Indian Home Guard.  Kaufman descended from a German family, which had settled in Pennsylvania, in the 18th century.  He was born in Mifflin County there on Janunary 6, 1832.  More  of Kaufman’s background is found in Portrait and Biographical Record of Southeastern Kansas, published in the 1890s:

He was the first member of the [Kaufman] family to choose a trade in preference to tilling the soil.  When nineteen years of age he began learning the carpenter’s trade and served three years’ apprenticeship.  In 1852 he moved to McLean County, Ill., and in 1854 to Iowa…. The fertile soil and political excitement in Kansas Territory were attracting settlers in that direction, and he decided to make a home within its borders…. From Hampden, in Coffee County, they went to the headwaters of the Pottawatomie creeks, in Anderson County, and there took up claims.

At that time there were only five families within a radius of ten miles of their cabin. The border warfare was going on, and Mr. Kaufman at once offered his services to the state organizations.  He enlisted in the Kansas State Volunteer service under Gen. J.H. Lane and afterward joined the Kansas State Militia under Capt. Samuel Walker….

The company was mustered out in November 1856, when United States troops took a larger role in keeping order in Kansas.  Kaufman returned to his claim, and convinced a number of his former state militia comrades to accompany him.

When the Civil War broke out, the settlers met at the house of Mr. Kaufman and organized a company, Mr. Kaufman being chosen Captain. They prepared for duty, but later Mr. Kaufman bid adieu to his company and enlisted as a private soldier.  he was mustered into the service in Company A, Third Kansas Volunteers, the same being subsequently consolidated with the Fourth Regiment, forming the Tenth Kansas Infantry, his company taking the position of Company C. On the 11th of September, 1862, he was commissioned First Lieutenant of Company L, Third Regiment, Indian Brigade, commanded by Col. William A. Philips, and in May 28, 1863, he was promoted to the rank of Captain.  The commands with which he was connected did service in Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas and Indian Territory, and he participated in numerous engagements with the enemy. He was mustered out of service May 31, 1865.

Returning home, Kaufman married to Melissa Patton just three months after leaving the army.  He went on to lead a prosperous life as a farmer, businessman, and local politician.  Kaufman died in 1909, and was buried in the Graceland Cemetery, Burlington Kansas.  I mention this as Kaufman’s story appeals to me somewhat – not a military professional, but quick to answer the call.  And apparently possessing the skills and leadership to get things done – in or out of uniform.

I’ve wandered a bit off track, so let us turn back to the record here.  With only mountain howitzers on hand, we have a short summary of ammunition:

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  • 3rd Regiment: 15 shell, 71 case, and 45 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.

Just enough to start a fuss… or finish one.  As the regiment saw a lot of action in June and July, I’d wonder if the quantities were down due to expenditure.

No rifled guns on hand, so we have no rifled ammunition to worry about.  We move directly to the small arms:

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  • 3rd Regiment: Two breechloading carbines and sixty-one rifles.

That would lead me to assume sixty-three men were assigned to Kaufman’s detachment.  For two mountain howitzers?  Perhaps that included the crews plus a detachment of men to guard those valuable howitzers.  Sounds like we have all of Company L, 3rd Indian Home Guard accounted for there.

(Citation from Portrait and Biographical Record of Southeastern Kansas, Chicago: Biographical Publishing Company, 1894,  page 254.)