[Footnote 690: Abel, Indian Consolidation West of the Mississippi.]
[Footnote 691: Charles Mograin warned Dole of this.]
As with the war as a whole, so with that part of it waged on the Arkansas frontier, the year 1863 proved critical. Its midsummer season saw the turning-point in the respective fortunes of the North and the South, both in the east and in the west. The beginning of 1863 was a time for recording great depletion of resources in Indian Territory, as elsewhere, great disorganization within Southern Indian ranks, and much privation, suffering, and resultant dissatisfaction among the tribes generally. The moment called for more or less sweeping changes in western commands. Those most nearly affecting the Arkansas frontier were the establishment of Indian Territory as a separate military entity and the detachment of western Louisiana
[Footnote 692: The establishment of a separate command for Indian Territory was not accomplished all at once. In December, 1862, Steele had been ordered to report to Holmes for duty and, in the first week of January, he was given the Indian Territory post, subject to Hindman. On or about the eighth, he assumed command [Official Records, vol. xxii, part i, 28] at Fort Smith. In less than a week thereafter, his command was separated from that of Hindman [Ibid., part ii, 771]. The following document shows exactly what had been the previous relation between the two:
Head Qrs. Dept. Indn. Terry.
Ft. Smith, Jan. 31st, 1863.
COLONEL: Your special No. 22, par. viii has been recd. I would respectfully suggest that when assigned to this command by Maj. Gen’l Hindman the command was styled in orders, “1st Div’n 1st Corps Trans. Miss. Army.” The special order referred to, it is respectfully suggested, may be susceptible of misconstruction as there are under my command two separate Brigades, one under the command (cont.)]
and Texas from the Trans-Mississippi Department. Both were accomplished in January and both were directly due to a somewhat tardy realization of the vast strategic importance of the Indian country. Unwieldy, geographically, the Trans-Mississippi Department had long since shown itself to be. Moreover, it was no longer even passably safe to leave the interests of Indian Territory subordinated to those of Arkansas.
The man chosen, after others, his seniors in rank, had declined the dubious honor, for the command of Indian Territory was William Steele, brigadier-general, northern born, of southern sympathies. Thus was ignored whatever claim Douglas H. Cooper might have been thought to have by reason of his intimate and long acquaintance with Indian affairs and his influence, surpassingly great, with certain of the tribes. Cooper’s unfortunate weakness, addiction to intemperance,