Great as Maxey’s services to Indian Territory had been and yet were, he was not without his traducers and Cooper was chief among them, his overweening
[Footnote 964: Official Records, vol. xli, part iii, 301. Wattles was not at Fort Gibson a month before he was told to be prepared to move even his Indian Brigade to Fort Smith [Ibid., part iv, 130]. The necessity for executing the order never arose, although all the winter there was talk off and on of abandoning Fort Gibson entirely, sometimes also there was talk of abandoning Fort Smith. So weak had the two places been for a long time that Cooper insisted there was no good reason why the Confederates should not attempt to seize them. It is interesting that Thayer notified Wattles to be prepared to move just when there was the greatest prospect of a Confederate Indian raid into Kansas.]
ambition being still unsatisfied. In November, at a meeting of the general council for the confederated tribes, Maxey spoke in his own defence and spoke eloquently; for his cause was righteous. General Smith was his friend in the sense that he had been Steele’s; but there soon came a time when even the department commander was powerless to defend him further. Early in 1865, Cooper journeyed to Richmond. What he did there can be inferred from the fact that orders were soon issued for him to relieve Maxey. He assumed command of the district he had so long coveted and had sacrificed honor to get, March first, General Smith disapproving of the whole procedure. “The change,” said he, “has not the concurrence of my judgment, and I believe will not result beneficially."
But Smith was mistaken in his prognostications. The change was not just but it did work beneficially. Cooper knew how to manage the Indians, none better, and the time was fast approaching when they would need managing, if ever. As the absolute certainty of Confederate defeat gradually dawned upon them, they became almost desperate. They had to be handled very carefully lest they break out beyond all restraint.
[Footnote 965: Official Records, vol. xli, part iv, 1035-1037; vol. liii, supplement, 1027.]
[Footnote 966: In July, 1864, orders issued from Richmond for the retirement of Maxey and the elevation of Cooper [Ibid., part ii, 1019]; but Smith held them in abeyance [Ibid., part iii, 971]; for he believed that Maxey’s “removal, besides being an injustice to him, would be a misfortune to the department.” The suppression of the orders failed to meet the approval of the authorities at Richmond and some time subsequent to the first of October Smith was informed that the orders were “imperative and must be carried into effect” [Ibid.,].]
[Footnote 967: Official Records, vol. xlviii, part i, 1382.]
[Footnote 968:—Ibid., 1403.]
[Footnote 969:—Ibid., 1408.]