Quarter Master Records- Deposition of Edward Bates

Edward Bates testified regarding the destruction of 1,000 tons of hay under the control of A.W. Robb, Quarter Master of the 3rd Indian Home Guards. The Third Indian Regiment, under Col. William A. Phillips, was formed at Tahlequah and Park Hill in July 1862.1 Its ranks were filled with Cherokee Indians, including some former disaffected Confederate soldiers of Col. John Drew’s First Cherokee Mounted Rifles. The regiment served primarily in Indian Territory but also ventured into Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas.

Bates testified that Lieut A W. Robb left 1,000 tons of hay, under his control, unguarded from September 19, 1864 into December 1864.2 The hay was stacked seven miles from Fort Gibson in the Cherokee Nation, but the lack of guards left it vulnerable for theft. In fact, a large portion of the hay was stolen by African-American and Native American refugees during that time period. Robb also failed to cover the hay, thus it sat exposed to rain and other weather throughout the fall of 1864. Robb was removed from his position on March 1, 1865 and the United States Army inventoried the property in his office. The inventory team, which included Bates, found only 50 tons of hay remained outside of the Union post. They reported all of the remaining hay was unfit for use due to exposure to the elements.

Due to the lack of railroads and isolated nature of the Indian Territory it was difficult for the U.S. government to adequately supply the men who served in area. Therefore, any local resources that were available to them had to be conserved and used wisely. The mismanagement of this large supply of hay was a serious offense, because without the hay it would be difficult to feed and support the livestock the soldiers needed to survive.

Contributed by the Oklahoma Historical Society

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  1. Tom Franzmann , “Indian Home Guards”, Encyclopedia of Oklahoma’s History and Culture, Oklahoma Historical Society, http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/I/IN010.html
  2. Bates, Edwards Deposition. 05 Sep. 1865. 81.119. Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.