Page 1 of letter from R H Pratt to Mary Burnham dated 8 May 1878

On Cars, West[er]n Ills.
May 8 1878

Dear Sister,

My three days in
Leavenworth were made glad at
the last moment, before leaving, by
one solitary letter and that one
from you dated the 3rd. It was as a cup
of water in a dry and thirsty land.
I drank and was refreshed.

At Hampton the boys were doing so
well that I was proud to see that I
was not mistaken in them. We
had a social meeting at which
I invited expression upon any
point not clear to them and a
general declaration of their satisfac-
tion up to that time. Some of them
had a faint idea that money w[oul]d
come for their labor and had been

Page 2 of letter from R H Pratt to Mary Burnham dated 8 May 1878

Page 2

over liberal to themselves with
what they brot [brought] with them. When
I explained again how that by
their own labor they were helping
to pay their way, those who had
so understood and acted set up a
hearty laugh, and all the victims joined in
the best of feeling. I was delighted,
for even that small matter told
volumes. All said they liked it.
S. Eagle made me quite a speech
as did also White Bear. The last
never expressed himself before that
I remember and the exhibition of a
little individuality was quite to my
liking. They have all taken hold
of labor & study & progressed in the
most satisfactory manner.

The Nez Perces who are now my
objective were the people who gave
so much trouble a year ago
& whom Oliver Howard followed
from their homes in Oregon

Page 3 of letter from R H Pratt to Mary Burnham dated 8 May 1878

Page 3

to their capture by Gen. Miles
in Idaho. Their successful
retreat of over 1800 miles &
severe fightings with Gen. H.[oward] &
Gen. Gibbons & Gen. Miles
make up the most successful
Indian resistance on record.
I have talked to Joseph & his
head men for three days of
the desire of the Sec. of War to
educate 50 of his youth but they
are in no mood to accept it
now. The complications of it
require my return to Washn.
where I am now bound. I
shall stay over Sunday in Lafayette
with Mrs Pratt and the little girls.
I am ticketed through Cincinnati
and if possible shall stop &
see Mrs. Pendleton.

The reports to Gen. Pope from both
Ft. Sill & Cheyenne Agency are of
good effects from the return

Page 4 of letter from R H Pratt to Mary Burnham dated 8 May 1878

Page 4

of the prisoners and the
Gen. gives me warm praise
which, as I happen to know
is quite a concession, from
his want of faith in Christian
methods, I am the more pleased
to get.

The Comanches & Kiowas as
well as the Cheyennes are doing
something at agriculture only
since the captives went to Florida.
I do not know the new Agt [agent] of the
Kiowas, but I do know that he probably
never saw a wild Indian which is
bad for the next two years sh[oul]d he
stay so long. He will be gulled by
the Indians, the squaw man, the
contractors, and attribute all his
troubles to the Army. At the end of
that time he will begin to know
himself and the lads and ask
that the Army be set to work to whip
his Kiowas or Comanches or both
into the traces. I questioned the
propriety of his letter, which had

Page 5 of letter from R H Pratt to Mary Burnham dated 8 May 1878

Page 5

no symptom of an inspiration in
it for Ta-a-way-ite in his
present course. Still it was
right to send it.

It may be that the Cheyenne
agent is unable to give you the
information wanted because of
the absence from the Agency
of the band to which EurNe's
wife belongs. And it might be
that he himself is absent, both
common occurrences. I shall be
glad to know the least item you
get. There may be mail for
me at Hampton from these.
So far I have no direct news.
The proposed transfer of Indian man-
agement to the War Dept. causes
the most bitter feeling. I see now
the crisis appears to be passed

Page 6 of letter from R H Pratt to Mary Burnham dated 8 May 1878

Page 6

and it is not to be done by
hasty legislation. If a
well organized committee so
recommend we shall accept
it as a very grave change but
I can assure you that the army
is not wanting it.

I am so glad to hear of
the changes being acceptably
received by your boys. I
thot [thought] they had found the House Mother's
home so very nice that there
might be sadness. I think
of their satisfaction among the
products of a country house.
Gen. Pope tells me that of the
sheep cattle and chickens we
gave their people who were not
sent to Florida with me, they
take most delight in and
the best care of the chickens.
The cattle fare next best and
the poor sheep are almost

Page 7 of letter from R H Pratt to Mary Burnham dated 8 May 1878

Page 7

entirely neglected. Both he
and Gen. Sherman cite many
instances where the attempts to
make them missionaries to their
own people have failed, and
I can only meet them on
practical grounds. "We propose
they shall be prepared to
care for themselves."

I have been writing from
Jacksonville to Danville, so you
have a scrawl across the
great corn state. I hope you
can get part of what I have wanted
to say.

How I wish I were made
of iron. I supposed when I
get back to Washn I shall be required
to go back to Leavenworth.
Tho' I have the temper and the
situation I am unable to see
what is coming. To do what
I think best would bring down

Page 8 of letter from R H Pratt to Mary Burnham dated 8 May 1878

Page 8

the public and exasperate the
Indians, but both would
eventually feel obliged to say
it was the best and only course
to succeed. I lean much on
your prayers. The dear little
missionary prayer is with me
always. Give my love to the
boys, when you send and
I will write when I can to

My address will be Washn
for a few days. I can't tell
how long.

I am but an hour and
forty minutes from home.

Always most cordially
and faithfully yours

RH Pratt

Oklahoma Humnities Council logoThis project is funded in part by the Oklahoma Humanities Council (OHC) and the We the People initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of OHC or NEH.