Page:Eleven years in the Rocky Mountains and a life on the frontier.djvu/493

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they are quite able, in frontier warfare, to cope with disciplined troops. They fight in bodies, under skilled leaders, and have regular rules which they observe in battle, on their marches, and in their camps. "They have systems of signalling and of scouting, of posting sentinels and videttes, and of herding their animals." They are remarkably expert horsemen, and are so dependent on their steeds, that "a Sioux on foot is a Sioux warrior no longer." Gen. Crook testifies to their adroitness and skill as follows:—

"When the Sioux Indian was armed with a bow and arrow he was more formidable, fighting as he does most of the time on horseback, than when he came into possession of the old fashioned muzzle loading rifle. But when he came into possession of the breech loader and metallic catridge, which allows him to load and fire from his horse with perfect ease, he became at once ten times more formidable. With the improved arms I have seen our friendly Indians, riding at full speed, shoot and kill a wolf, also on the run, while it is a rare thing that our troops can hit an Indian on horseback though the soldier may be on his feet at the time.

"The Sioux is a cavalry soldier from the time he has intelligence enough to ride a horse or fire a gun. If he wishes to dismount, his hardy pony, educated by long usage, will graze around near where he has been left, ready when his master wants to mount either to move forward or escape. Even with their lodges and families they can move at the rate of fifty miles per day. They are perfectly familiar with the country, have their spies and hunting parties out all the time at distances of from twenty to fifty miles each way from their villages, know the number and movements of all the troops that may be operating against them, just about what they can probably do, and hence can choose their own times and places of conflict or avoid it altogether."

The primary causes of the hostilities of the Indians which made this campaign and previous ones against them necessary, extend far back and are too numerous