Huerfano County, Colorado Report of Lieutenant George L. Shoup
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This is the report of Lieut. George L. Shoup, Second Colorado Infantry (Union) concerning the capture of the Greene Russell party. Taken from US House Documents, No. 58, General Index to War of Rebellion, 56th Congress, Second Session, 1900-1901, Book #4209.
Report of Lieut. George L. Shoup, Second Colorado Infantry
FORT UNION, N. MEX., December 1, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to report that, in obedience to your orders, No.--, October 26, 1862,
I left your camp, at mouth of Utah Creek, Canadian River, to pursue, and if possible overtake and arrest, a party who had gone down that river. I had with me Sergeant [S.G.] Marvin, Corporal [A.W. Allen], and 17 privates; also Dr. Rankin, Indian Agent Stapp, and Interpreter Delisle.
The first day, about 2 p.m., after marching about 25 miles, we discovered one of their camps. From the appearance of the ashes, the tracks of the animals, and other signs in and around camp we judged it to be at least three days old. Forming an estimate from the distance they had traveled the day previous to encamping here I concluded that they must be some 80 or 90 miles ahead of me. This camp was about 10 miles from the Fort Smith road and about 15 miles from the Canadian River, between the road and river. I had some knowledge of the country for about 250 miles down the Canadian River from Utah Creek. I knew a trail on the north side of the Canadian that intersects the Fort Smith road about 225 miles below the mouth of Utah Creek. I had Marched over that trail in September last, while scouting after Indians. It was then reported to me to be shorter than the Fort Smith road.
The party of whom we were in pursuit were evidently trying to leave the country without being detected. The direction they were traveling would indicate that they were going to Fort Smith. They were following a trail that had been recently made by horses, mules, and pack-animals, about 40 in number. This led me to believe that they might be part of the same party. I afterward ascertained that this trail had been made by Mexicans, who were trading with the Indians, and would join at some point below. It was also evident that they knew of our presence in that part of the country. I feared that they might have spies, who would watch our movements, and as I was following, to all appearances, a superior number, I feared I might be led into some trap and get surprised ourselves by them. I therefore concluded to cross the river and follow the trail that leads down the north side, and march as rapidly as possible to the junction of the trail with the Fort Smith road. Having arrived at this conclusion, I informed Sergeant Marvin of what I had determined on doing, and instructed him to march that evening to the river, and, agreeing to meet him that night some time, I took one man and followed the trail to the next camp, hoping I might gain some more information concerning the number, character, &c., of the party. I discovered, while riding to their next camp, distant about 10 miles, and which I supposed to be a noon camp, that there were 5 wagons; also that there was a lady with the party. I here turned about and joined my men the same night.
After arriving in camp, on October 30, at a point about 175 miles below the mouth of the Utah Creek, I concluded to reconnoiter the country southward in search of the Fort Smith road, as I had been informed by my guide that the Fort Smith road came near the river opposite this camp. I took Corporal Allen and Private [James] Baird, rode cautiously to the river and crossed over, but was not successful in finding the road. Thinking that we must soon come to the road, we road on southward about 15 miles till about midnight, when I gave up the search, turned about, and rode for camp, where I arrived next day about 11 a.m., and immediately resumed the march for the junction of the trail with the road.
On November 2, about noon, I arrived at a point opposite where the Fort Smith road comes to the river from the bluffs, and about 250 miles below the mouth of Utah Creek. I placed a spy on the lookout on a high bluff, where he could see across the river and watch the maneuvering of any party on the Fort Smith road from many miles either way. Examining the road, I found that the party of whom we were in search had not yet passed. There being a village of Indians a few miles below, I concluded to go down to the village with their agent (Stapp), to see and have a talk with them, and then return by way of the Fort Smith road to meet the truant party. I was not out of sight of my last camp before my spy on the lookout discovered the party approaching and immediately informed me of the same. A spy was immediately concealed in the bluff opposite them to watch their movements, and, if possible, ascertain their number, means of defense, &c. I marched down the river about 8 miles, and concealed the men and animals in a grove of timber near the river. Several Indians were seen during the evening, but none came to our camp, which was found to be about 8 miles above and about mile from the river. They had too many dogs for a night surprise.
About 11 o'clock at night some one was heard hallooing opposite our camp across the river. I went down to the river bank and saw three men on the opposite shore. One of the men asked me, in broken English, if they could cross the river. I replied that they could easily ford it. My first impression was that it was a detachment of the party above, who had gone ahead and had mistaken our camp for theirs. By this time some of my men had come to me, and we were ready to arrest them as they came out of the river. Just before they reached the shore we discovered that they were Indians. I recognized one of the Indians to be an old friend of mine. He commenced hallooing, and other Indians came across. I told them that we had come down on a friendly visit, and told them that we had some presents for them at our camp. I asked them if they knew who the party was in the camp above. They professed to be ignorant of the existence of another party in the vicinity, and they at once suspected treachery on our part. They thought it impossible that we could come from the same direction and not know who the other party was. However, I, with the assistance of Agent Stapp, convinced them that we had no other than friendly feelings towards them; that we were telling them the truth, &c.; that if the party on the other side of the river above were traders I would not molest them; but if they were going to Fort Smith or to any other part of the Confederacy I must take them back. I told the Indian who could talk English that if he would go to their camp early in the morning, ascertain whether or not they were traders, their number of men, their kind of arms, &c., I would reward him for so doing. I told him upon no consideration to let them know of our presence in the vicinity. I then gave them a midnight meal and they left.
The next morning at day-break we crossed the river, and I selected a good position to surprise the party. Concealed our horses behind a bluff, about 250 yards from the road, leaving a guard with them, while we took our position behind a bluff within a few feet of the road -- a most excellent place to surprise a party coming down the road. The Indians came around us in considerable numbers. Their suspicions were again aroused, and the messenger had not gone up to the camp, as agreed upon the night before. But we soon allayed all suspicion again, and Indian Thomas (who speaks English), after receiving instructions to be very cautious and discreet, started for the camp above. About two hours later he returned, bringing a note, directed to the chief of the Comanche Nation, signed Russell & Co. The substance of the note was that they were a party of 18 white men, from Las Vegas, N. Mex., bound for Fort Smith. I told the Indians I should take the party back with me. The Indians were all animated, and wished to participate in the capture of the party. They were instructed that we thought ourselves equal to the task. They still insisted on helping us, and said that they would be governed by my orders. I then told them that if any of the party should escape then they might take them prisoners, and I would reward them for so doing. This satisfied them. They concealed their animals behind a bluff near ours and made great preparations for a fight.
About 11 a.m. the party came in sight. The Indians came very near revealing our whereabouts by assembling on a bluff near by, and, by their great anxiety to see all that was going on, they held their heads so high that they were seen by the party approaching, who, on seeing the Indians acting in this manner, suspected an attack from them; consequently they halted at the distance of a quarter of a mile, examined their arms, and made every preparation for a battle with the Indians, and then moved on. I had previously ordered that the word "Surrender" should be the signal for my men to spring up, with muskets cocked and aimed, on our opponents. I let them come fully into the trap set for them, when I commanded them to halt and surrender. They were completely surprised. They were watching the Indians, and did not think of danger so close by. I repeated the command to surrender, which command they immediately complied with by dropping their arms without showing resistance. I took from them 6 double-barrelled shotguns, 8 rifles, 6 revolvers, 10 mules, 10 horses, 10 sets of harness, 10 bridles, 10 saddles, 1 side-saddle, and 5 wagons. I searched their persons and baggage for papers, taking from them any and all papers liable to be of any service whatsover in furnishing evidence for or against them. In answer to questions asked as to where they were going the majority answered to their homes in Georgia, two or three to Fort Smith, one to Cherokee Nation, one to Kansas, and one to Missouri. At the time of their surrender they had three cases of small-pox among them. In searching their baggage I found some treasure--gold dust, watches, chains, rings, &c., all of which I allowed them to keep.
The names of the party are as follows, vis: Green Russell, Dr. D.I. Russell, J.O. Russell, Samuel Bates, John Wallace, Robert Fields, James Pierce, James Whiting, A.S. Rippy, H.M. Demsey, W.I. Witcher, William Witcher, D. Patterson, G.F. Rives, J. Gloss, W. Odem, Isaac Roberts, J.P. Potts, and family of six children, the oldest a young lady, about seventeen years of age.
I forwarded to you, by a messenger, same day, the result of the expedition, hastily written with a pencil, in which I neglected to state that there were three cases of small-pox among the prisoners, but told the messenger to be sure to tell you.
There were about 100 Indians at my camp that evening. They demanded a prisoner. They said that they had been fighting the Texans, and that they must have a man now, that they might have a war-dance. I told them repeatedly that they could not have a man; that I should start back in the morning with all the prisoners; that Agent Stapp and two others would stop with them a few days to show them that we were acting in good faith toward them, and that the agent would then bring them to our camp to receive their presents. They started a runner immediately for their head chief, Mouwa.
Next morning I commenced the return march. After marching up the river about 10 miles an Indian overtook me, stating that Mouwa and other Indians were coming up the river; that Mouwa wished me to stop, as he wished to see me. I encamped about two hours, after which Mouwa came up, with about 50 other Indians with him. I gave them something to eat. We then held an interview. He wanted a man, half of the animals, arms, ammunition, &c., taken from the prisoners. I told him that was not consistent with our rules of warfare. I told them that I was willing to pay them for the information they had given us, and would be willing to pay them for all information received hereafter. I gave them some silver and other presents for the information they had given this time. Agent Stapp did the same. After talking all evening we separated the best of friends, with a good understanding. Agent Stapp and two others were to return with the Indians, stay with them three days, and then all were to go to your camp, at the mouth of Utah Creek. The next morning, we resumed our march up the river.
On the morning of November 7 Dr. Russell informed me that two of the men having the small-pox were too sick to resume the march on that day, but thought by next day they would be better, after one day's rest. I laid in camp that day. Next morning the doctor informed me that the sick were no better and could not be moved. At this time some of the prisoners were out of rations and some of them had more than eight days' rations. I had six or seven days' rations. This, when divided mount those who had none, made it necessary to make your camp as soon as possible. Acting under this impulse, I left two of the sick men and two of those who had partially recovered as attendants with two of my men as a guard, with fifteen days' rations, and leaving with them one wagon and team, while I resumed the march.
On November 11 I was met by a detachment of 10 men, sent out by you to meet me. They had but one day's rations left when I met them, their fourth day from your camp. I sent two of them forward the same day, with a dispatch to you, requesting that rations be sent to meet me.
On the 13th I met a team, sent out by you, with rations for me. The same day I arrived at your picket camp.
The general conduct and behaviour of the prisioners after their capture was that of high-toned gentlemen. They made no attempt to escape. They all say that they had no intention of joining the Confederate Army, though the majority of them acknowledge that their sympathies are with the South.
Our men in this, as in former events, deserve the highest praise for their perseverance, coolness, courage, and discretion. Sergeant Marving and Corporal Allen were untiring in their exertions for the safe-keeping of the prisoners.
I have the honor to be, captain, your obedient servant,
Second Lieutenant Company C, Second Colorado Volunteers.