The mismanagement of southern Indian affairs of which General Pike so vociferously complained was not solely or even to any great degree attributable to indifference to Indian interests on the part of the Confederate government and certainly not at all to any lack of appreciation of the value of the Indian alliance or of the strategic importance of Indian Territory. The perplexities of the government were unavoidably great and its control over men and measures, removed from the seat of its immediate influence, correspondingly small. It was not to be expected that it would or could give the same earnestness of attention to events on the frontier as to those nearer the seaboard, since it was, after all, east of the Mississippi that the great fight for political separation from the North would have to be made.
The Confederate government had started out well. It had dealt with the Indian nations on a basis of dignity and lofty honor, a fact to be accounted for by the circumstance that Indian affairs were at first under the State Department with Toombs at its head; and, in this connection, let it be recalled that it was under authority of the State Department that Pike had
[Footnote 464: Toombs did not long hold the portfolio. Among the Pickett Papers, is a letter from Davis to Toombs, July 24, 1861, accepting with regret his resignation [Package 89].]
entered upon his mission as diplomatic agent to the tribes west of Arkansas. Subsequently, and, indeed, before Pike had nearly completed his work, Indian affairs were transferred to the direction of the Secretary of War and a bureau created in his department for the exclusive consideration of them, Hubbard receiving the post of commissioner.
The Provisional Congress approached the task of dealing with Indian matters as if it already had a big grasp on the subject and intended, at the outset, to give them careful scrutiny and to establish, with regard to them, precedents of extreme good faith. Among the
[Footnote 465: In evidence of this, note, in addition to the material published in Abel, The American Indian as Slaveholder and Secessionist, the following letters, the first from Robert Toombs to L.P. Walker, Secretary of War, dated Richmond, August 7, 1861; and the second from William M. Browne, Acting Secretary of State, to Walker, September 4, 1861:
1. “I have the honor to inform you that under a resolution of Congress, authorizing the President to send a Commissioner to the Indian tribes west of Arkansas and south of Kansas, Mr. Albert Pike of Arkansas was appointed such Commissioner under an autograph letter of the President giving him very large discretion as to the expenses of his mission. Subsequent to the adoption of the resolution, above named, Congress passed a law placing the Indian Affairs under the control of your Department and consequently making the expenses of Mr. Pike and all other Indian Agents, properly payable out of the appropriation at your disposal for the service of the Indian Bureau.”—Pickett Papers, Package 106, Domestic Letters, Department of State, vol. i, p.86.