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Jeff Broome thoroughly researched Indian depredation claims at the National Archives, and took on all critics, to put together his new book, Cheyenne War.

Researching and writing about the Indian wars has been a passion of Jefferson “Jeff” Broome, a fifth-generation Coloradan, for most of his life. He found inspiration for his recent book Cheyenne War: Indian Raids on the Roads to Denver, 1864–1869 (see review) while researching his earlier title Dog Soldier Justice: The Ordeal of Susanna Alderdice in the Kansas Indian War. In Cheyenne War Broome shares untold stories about the ordeals of white settlers and travelers that the author found among the Indian depredation claims on file at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Broome, who has also served as a professor at Arapahoe Community College (Littleton, Colo.) for more than a quarter century, recently spoke with Wild West about his work.

Why write about Susanna Alderdice?
In 1998 or 1999 I walked the Summit Springs battlefield, on private property near Sterling, Colo., and came upon a marker saying Alderdice had been found there dying and was buried on the hillside the next day, July 12, 1869. There was something about finding that marker, mostly covered up in dirt, which made me want to know her story. She was obviously a captive in the Cheyenne Indian village and had been killed during the fight, but that was all I knew. I have a significant Western history library with a large focus on the Indian wars, so I consulted several books that covered the Summit Springs fight, but no two authors could agree on who she was. One account said she was captured in 1868 and held captive for more than a year; another said she was German and could not speak English; another said she had a daughter, also killed, etc. So that put me on a quest to learn who Alderdice was. This led me to Lincoln, Kansas, and their local historical society. More conflicting information emerged from pioneer accounts published in the early 1900s. And then my historian friend Jerry Greene told me about the Indian depredation claims in the National Archives and a book about the claims by Larry Skogen (Indian Depredation Claims, 1796–1920). Jerry also told me to contact Jack McDermott, a retired National Park Service historian who spent time in the claims in D.C. I called Jack, and he graciously shared with me all he knew about accessing the files. They are not on microfilm and scattered in various record groups. One must go to Washington to retrieve them.

‘The greatest sin is to let someone else do your own thinking, and in the end I believe that is really what is going on with those who critique my writings. For the most part, they do this without reading my works, relying on others informing them to ignore my work. In the end I am only trying to do one thing: bring the pendulum of understanding back to center, and away from where it presently resides, to the far left’

But in getting into Susanna Alderdice’s story —she lost her first husband in the Civil War, remarried and, when captured May 30, 1869, had four children and was three months pregnant with her fifth child—I was so moved by her ordeal that I committed myself to accurately telling her story. All of her children were killed at or during her captivity but one 4-year old boy, Willis, who was critically wounded, with five arrows lodged in his back. The result of that research was my first book, Dog Soldier Justice: The Ordeal of Susanna Alderdice in the Kansas Indian War. But to tell Susanna’s story, I had to place it in the context of the Indian raids in and around her neighborhood, and in doing that, the depredation claims were crucial in understanding those raids. One record group (123) has almost 12,000 individual claims comprising almost three football fields of storage space in the National Archives. And most claims contained sworn affidavits detailing the specifics of the raid that resulted in the destroyed or stolen property, which the law was intended to compensate the settler when caused by Indians in treaty with the U.S. government. In several years of visits to the archives in D.C., I spent anywhere from a week to two weeks, copying claim after claim that dealt with the Indian raids connected to Susanna’s times. And I copied and copied and copied as many claims as I could locate that dealt with the Cheyenne and raids they were complicit in participating. I have almost 8 feet of claims, which cost me 25 cents a page to copy. And that does not include a few feet of military reports relating to the attacks.

Why was the Indian depredation claims system considered such a failure?
That’s a very good question devoid of a simple answer. Skogen’s Indian Depredation Claims delves into that answer. I think the easy answer goes like this: It was hoped the system would have immediate consequences to the Indians, and they would soon learn to stop their cultural practices of plunder and raids. Citizens who suffered losses from Indian raids were to be compensated from the money allocated in the annuities that came with the treaty. But it never worked. There were problems galore, not the least of which was the necessity to prove that the raiding Indians indeed were the same Indians receiving annuities. Yes, many raids were done by “annuity” Indians, but many more were done by Indians that had not participated in any treaties, even though many of them were beneficiaries of the annuities, especially during the winter months. So Indians received fewer annuities than promised, which made them angry. And a growing distrust developed between the tribes and the government. The government promised one thing and delivered another.

Another problem was that the raids were responded to most often by military campaigns, while the Indians were under the care of the Department of the Interior, and those two agencies got along about as well as the American citizen today gets along with the Internal Revenue Service. The Department of Interior did one thing, while the military did another, and seldom did they cooperate. You see this very much in the failure of the 1867 Hancock Expedition, where some authors today blame General Winfield Scott Hancock for causing all the troubles from 1867 on, whereas the truth is more about the conflict between the War Department and the Department of the Interior than it is about Hancock fanning flames across a gasoline field, with all respect to William Chalfant. When I read Chalfant’s Hancock’s War, I was greatly disturbed by his efforts to place blame for the conflicts in 1867–69 on Hancock. I decided to title my book Cheyenne War, to develop the antithesis (German philosopher George Hegel), so that people can hopefully at some time in the future, come to a new understanding (synthesis) of these complicated times. But complicated times they were, and the depredation claims system failed to bring resolve to the conflict, brought on by white intrusion into what was, before treaty, Indian land.

But let me add another point about our government that modern historians often obscure while trying to simplify the complicated. It is this: The U.S. government is one of the best-laid governments ever brought into existence (bringing to life the theory developed in 1690 by John Locke in his Second Treatise of Civil Government). But governments are run by people, and when there are problems, it is not the government but rather the people within the government that are to blame. I think one needs to separate the government from the people who are elected and/or appointed to run the government. It is wrong to blame our government for its failures with the Indians in the 1860s. Blame the people back then, white and Indian, but not the government. There is not a greater country in the world than America, but there are many people who have run our government over the years which embarrassed our government, if that makes sense.

Why do some Indian wars historians object to your approach?
Well, I cannot speak for them, but I can speculate regarding their concerns. First and foremost, I am presenting a view of the Indian wars some people think has been transcended in the last 40 years, and thus my publications return the reader to an incorrect and outdated understanding. Those who voice this concern think new books on the Indian wars should incorporate all understandings from these times of old. And my writings do not do that with the Indian side of the story. And good history should incorporate both views, white and Indian. Others might think that my writings distort what really happened, because I only focus on producing stories that tell of the sufferings of whites. Thus, any mention of Indians in my writings occurs only to make the Indian look bad, and any reference to white people occurs only to draw sympathy to their suffering. I’m accused of going out and giving talks to only those places where I am doing nothing more than “preaching to the choir.” I would never venture into “Indian country,” because I know that if I go there I would be confronted with all the “facts” I ignore in my writings. I’ve been called a racist and one who hates the Indian.

Others question whether the depredation claims themselves are worthy documents, saying the entire depredations system was motivated to obtain money meant for Indians, and thus the American citizen filing a claim intentionally lied and represented an event in a much more violent way than it really happened. The interesting thing about that last claim is that those making it are in nearly every case people who have not spent one minute inside the National Archives studying the claims. They ignore the fact citizens made oaths to God that what they recorded was the truth. Such oaths today might not carry the meaning they did in the 1800s, but anyone knowing our ancestry knows that a sworn oath back then meant the truth. Yes, there were exceptions, but they were always weeded out in the investigations made on each individual claim.

Some people today think that all pioneers or freighters were unsavory characters living outside the States because they couldn’t follow the laws, so they moved to the territories to escape justice. Personally, I find those persons making this critique more revealing of their shallow thinking, and unwillingness to take these depredation claims and bring this history into their understanding of those times of old.

To the charge that I am only giving one side of the story, I would say that those making that critique are themselves guilty of doing the exact same thing in their writings. If you look at the epilogue to Chalfant’s Hancock’s War, you will see an accounting of Summit Springs, and there is no incorporation of what happened to Susanna Alderdice or Maria Weichell, only the moving stories of what happened to the Indians at that fight and their valiant attempt to defend their people. That’s all proper, but it is done while excluding the other side of the story. Read Kraft’s book on Wynkoop (Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road From Sand Creek) and see what he writes about the August 8–11, 1868, raids the Cheyenne made into the white settlements, and you will not find a single reference to the other side of the story. No, he gives what an Indian said to Wynkoop and what Wynkoop reported, and he entirely ignores the settler story, and he had that information readily available to him in Dog Soldier Justice, which he quotes at other times in his book. So why did he ignore the white side? Because he didn’t want his readers to know there was another side to the story. He wants to draw readers into his understanding, which is to bring sympathy to the Indian.

But I did not ignore the Indian side. I brought it out, and I let the readers decide for themselves. It is clear when studying the two very different versions of the August attacks on the Saline and Solomon Rivers in north-central Kansas that one version is not true. I believe the evidence clearly demonstrates the Indian version is false. But at least I show both sides. Neither Chalfant nor Kraft does the same in their important books.

Having said that, let me add that I encourage readers to read Chalfant, Kraft and me. Those opposing me are encouraging people to boycott me and have nothing to do with my writings. My training in philosophy taught me long ago that differing viewpoints are to be studied and discussed. I call the greatest sin that philosophy teaches people is to let someone else do your own thinking, and in the end I believe that is really what is going on with those who critique my writings. For the most part, they do this without reading my works, relying on others informing them to ignore my work. In the end I am only trying to do one thing: bring the pendulum of understanding back to center, and away from where it presently resides to the far left.

What I have brought out in my writings is important documentary evidence that has been lost today. It changes our understanding of those times of old. In the introduction to Cheyenne War I call attention to the fact I do not have the wisdom to produce a mosaic of understanding that transcends the events I write about. I say such attempts are left to other historians who have this ability. I know if I tried it that, it would be nothing but speculation, and I am unwilling to make that attempt, because I know I do not know what this all means.

No, I don’t ignore the Indian side of the story, but my emphasis is not on the Indian but rather the American citizen caught up in those dangerous times of old. What I do not do is trash my country and claim how terrible the U.S. government was back then. I think that view is not accurate. There were mistakes made, there were at various times corrupt men running various branches of our government, but that is the case in all eras of American history. It is a category mistake to go from that to the very different conceptual understanding that our government was evil back then. These were complicated times, for sure, but bottom line, I believe our government sincerely wanted to resolve the Indian problem in a civilized and moral way. It didn’t turn out that way, but it wasn’t because that was never the intention of our government. I think some historians today do not like to have that understanding advanced. I’ve heard it too many times from colleagues.

Did you find as many fraudulent claims as factual ones?
No, not at all. I did find fraudulent claims, but they were rare. I guess, too, we should clarify what we mean by fraudulent. Did the person making a claim overstate the value of property lost? Yes, indeed, quite often. So much so, in fact, that upon investigation the monetary claims were reduced by what is probably at least an average of one-third. That happens yet today with insurance claims for property losses when disasters strike. But that is human nature. I take fraudulent to mean someone intentionally trying to gain something they did not lose. And those claims were rare. I did note some in Cheyenne War. The claims system had agents that went into the area where raids occurred. They spent weeks, sometimes months, obtaining testimonials and weeding out fraudulent claims. So, of the nearly 12,000 claims in Record Group 123, I would estimate that less than 5 percent were fraudulent, and nearly all of those were detected.

Again, I defer to Skogen’s research, for he approached the claims predominantly from a legal perspective. I approached them from an historical perspective. I have heard of historian’s belittling the use of depredation claims in writing history, because “people who claimed to suffer losses to the Indians were known to make false claims (if livestock wandered away they could claim the Indians took them) and to exaggerate claims (if a rancher lost two horses in an Indian raid, he might turn in that he lost 20, hoping for the compensation).” But really, that’s like saying people should not use insurance claims for multiple losses in natural disasters for the same reasons. Seriously, does this mean the disaster did not happen and we cannot let the victim tell us their story? The depredation claims system was two-fold in its requirements: First, the victim had to make a sworn affidavit detailing what happened; then they listed their property lost. And while they might have exaggerated the value of their losses, there were so many other things that they could not get compensation for, such as a freighter contracted to haul freight to Denver had no recourse for compensation for his labor up until the time of the raid, nor the labor lost that he would have received if he delivered the freight. He could only get compensation for his destroyed wagon and stolen mules. There was no compensation for the days he might have spent in trying to recover his lost stock, or compensation for any injuries he might have incurred in the attack. So, because he might have valued his mules and wagon(s) higher than they were worth, while at the same time he lost all of his labor value, and no compensation for his injuries, historians should not use depredation claims? That is absolutely ludicrous and reflects shallow thinking. Those sworn testimonials in the depredation claims are solid sources for history, especially given the fact that Department of Interior employees spent weeks and months in the field confirming the raids, etc. In philosophy there is what is called the epistemological principle of critical trust, which says that it is reasonable to believe a documented claim, unless there are good reasons to distrust it. Overvaluing destroyed property is not sufficient to distrust the sworn affidavit detailing the particulars of the claim, e.g., how the Indians did what they did, numbers involved, persons injured/killed, etc. In fact the agents sent into the field to investigate the claims again and again verified the particulars of the raids.

What is the most stirring story you found in the depredation claims, and why?
Actually, there were several, but I will focus on three captivity stories that were quite moving. I’ll take them chronologically.

The claim says July 31, 1865, but the raid probably happened August 1. Jasper Fletcher was ahead of a large government freight train heading to Salt Lake City. His two wagons carried his worldly possessions as well as his wife and young family. When they approached Rock Creek, about 50 miles west of present-day Cheyenne Wyoming, about 150 Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors suddenly came out of the hills, surrounded the train, killed Mrs. Mary Fletcher, and captured 17 year-old Amanda Mary and her two-year old sister Elizabeth (Lizzie). The Indian who claimed Amanda (“Mary”) was Southern Cheyenne Minimic, who survived the Sand Creek massacre in late 1864 (he was one of the Indians who delivered a handwritten letter begging for peace, by Black Kettle, and brought to Fort Lyon in September 1864). Minimic lost his wife and two daughters at Sand Creek. The depredation claim had over 100 pages of detailed testimony regarding Mary’s capture and rescue seven months later. In further researching the facts relating to the claim, I discovered that Mary was actually 17 when captured, though the claim insists throughout that she was only 13, which was no doubt an effort to represent her age as too young to be sexually victimized by the Indians. After her rescue Mary and her father tried for years to get help in freeing little Elizabeth (Lizzie), even corresponding with George Armstrong Custer, who wrote about it in his 1874 book, My Life on the Plains. Unfortunately Lizzie was never rescued. But in my research I discovered that she lived a long life as an Arapaho Indian, dying on the Wind River Reservation in 1928. In fact, Mary learned about Lizzie living with the Arapaho 35 years after their captivity, and in 1902 went to the reservation to meet with and beg her sister to return to civilization. Lizzie had no desire to leave her Indian life, and Mary later wrote that hearing Lizzie tell her that was as painful as seeing her mother killed when she and Lizzie were captured. I did not gather all of the facts of this story until after Cheyenne War was published (though I do cover much of the story in several pages). I intend to do an article for Wild West, telling the complete story, which includes pictures of Lizzie in her later years, alongside her husband, John Brokenhorn.

The second story was a Nebraska captivity that occurred July 24, 1867. Veronica (“Vinnie”) Ulbrich was 13 when she and her 12-year-old brother Peter were taken from their father’s homestead near present-day Fairbury Nebraska, by Cheyenne war leader Turkey Leg. Peter was killed near where he was taken, and Veronica was kept captive for six weeks, when an exchange was made between Turkey Leg, after some of his people were captured in a fight with Frank North’s Pawnee scouts. I learned, from the facts of the depredation claim, that no modern writer had discovered the facts of the Ulbrich story. But the most moving part of the claim, which contained much firsthand sworn testimonials regarding the raid and Veronica’s captivity, as well as the pain and suffering of the family as a result of their losses, was a letter written by Veronica’s father, asking the agent investigating the claim, to please keep Veronica’s story secret, as no one knew the sexual torture that she suffered. He said that after her captivity the family misrepresented her age as being seven at the time of capture, so people would not know she suffered sexual abuse. Even Veronica’s new husband, at the time the claim was filed, was unaware of her true age and what happened during her captivity. But more moving was Veronica’s handwritten testimony, where she graphically described her sexual torture as a daily and nightly abuse by countless warriors, to the extent that when she was rescued, she was nearly catatonic and near death. The Omaha Daily Herald described her at her rescue as “dumb” and apparently unaware of what was happening with her, thinking perhaps she was retarded. I was so moved by the testimony in the Ulbrich claim that I sought to find descendants. There was only one name in Nebraska that I could find, close to Ulbrich, spelled Ulbrick. I called the number for George Ulbrick, and, to my surprise, not only was he related to Veronica, but also when Veronica needed care in her later years, she lived in his home when he was a young boy. He knew her well, and from him I was able to learn more of the family history—and share with him the true facts regarding the raid when Peter and Veronica was captured—and was given a photograph of Veronica which I published in both Dog Soldier Justice and Cheyenne War.

The third story is better known in history circles, though it wasn’t until I located the depredation claim that we finally heard her story from her own voice. Back in 1868, when the Cheyenne had participated in the Medicine Lodge Treaty, it is well known that as soon as they received weapons in late July or early August, more than 200 Indians, mostly associated with Black Kettle’s tribe, ventured north into north-central Kansas and there perpetrated a series of deadly raids that ultimately resulted in Black Kettle’s death at the Washita later that fall. The first victim was a young married mother named Mary Jane Bacon. Every historian who has told her story has relied on a report that General P. H. Sheridan wrote about her brief captivity, sexual abuse and torture, or century-old pioneer reminiscences. Indeed, when I wrote Dog Soldier Justice, I had studied numerous times in the National archives and could not find or even know whether there was a depredation claim involving her victimization, so I too relied on those other reports. She was the first victim in the deadly raids into Lincoln and Mitchell counties. Finally, after several more visits to D.C. I located her file, and what a story she told, all first-person, and quite riveting. One gets the impression when reading it that it was painful for her to tell her story, but she did so. It filled in all the blanks that remained when I published Dog Soldier Justice, including what happened in her house and how it began, and how she got away, etc. The story was, like the others, very moving, and through my genealogy friends, as with Amanda Mary Fletcher, I was able to locate descendants and share with them the depredation claim file. I let Mary Jane Bacon speak for herself in Cheyenne War. Unfortunately, I was not able to locate a picture of Mrs. Bacon to use in my book. But it is voices like these from the past that I bring to life in Cheyenne War. There is a saying among Native Americans that goes like this: “The Indians say that a story stalks a writer and, if it finds you worthy, comes to live in your heart. The writer’s responsibility is to give that story a voice.” There are so many stories in the many depredation claims that have a “voice” in Cheyenne War. It is my hope that these stories come alive for the reader. That is how the past is relevant today. It never leaves us, but we often forget. I’ve tried to bring the stories back in Cheyenne War.

Why did you focus on Denver?
The easy answer is because I grew up here. My great-great-grandfather William A. Watson was a freighter on the Santa Fe road from 1859 to 1862 and then moved his mother and sister out from Tennessee in 1863 and settled on the Arkansas River east of Pueblo. When the war broke out in 1864, he moved nearer to Cañon City, still along the Arkansas River. I’ve always loved Colorado history, and my family’s connection to when Colorado was a territory. But the roads to Denver opened up the opportunity for the settlement of Colorado, while at the same time it gave the warriors an easy target to resist this intrusion into their land.

Just how dangerous were the roads?
Until the spring of 1864 the roads to Denver were not very dangerous. In fact, when the war broke out, nearly all of the freighters were unarmed. It was common for a large freight train to have only three or four pistols and a couple rifles among the many freighters. It was not a dangerous road. Wise freighters always brought extra things—food, coffee, sugar, etc.—to trade with the Indians, extra stock to replace injured stock or perhaps trade with Indians, too. Indians were frequently along the roads and often camped at particular ranches and stage stops. The common language was not English but, rather, Spanish. The Indians in Colorado and Kansas could usually converse in Spanish, so most of the freighters were young men—often still boys—from New Mexico and would communicate with the Indians in Spanish and then translate to the wagon master in English what was being said. But after the war broke out in 1864, a man indeed was unwise to enter the roads without being armed. The military required freight wagons to remain at the various military outposts until there were a sufficient number of men, all armed. Usually around 75 men were required to be armed before a wagon train was allowed to proceed farther on the roads east or west. And that remained into 1868 and 1869, when the railroad was established in Cheyenne, and freighters hauled goods just 100 miles to Denver. The plunder available on the roads—Santa Fe, Smoky Hill and Platte River—diminished significantly. There were still raids, just not as many, because there were not as many freighters crossing along the roads to Denver, again because of the railroad, which finally reached Denver in 1870. The Indians then focused their raids on settlements in 1868–69.

Did you have any significant research moments?
I received a phone call from a man I did not know, in Texas, after I had written my chapters that covered the deadly Indian raids in Nebraska on August 8–11, 1864, that without question ushered in the Indian war. I had written that Private Hugh Melrose had killed Council Chief White Antelope at Sand Creek. I had noted that because two months before Sand Creek, at the Camp Weld conference in Denver, Governor Evans had asked White Antelope who had killed the freighters on Plum Creek (Nebraska) on August 8. White Antelope said it was “his” Indians, which implicated the Southern Cheyenne in the outbreak. So I thought it important to note that Melrose killed White Antelope, according to the memoirs of his lieutenant, housed in the Pioneer Museum in Colorado Springs.

Well, the man on the phone was Wendell Melrose, and his great-great grandfather was Hugh Melrose. Why was he calling me? My great-great grandfather, William A. Watson, I mentioned earlier. When his sister, Sarah Watson, came to Colorado from Tennessee in 1863, she lived with him until she married Hugh Melrose in 1865. I didn’t know it when I wrote about Hugh Melrose, but he was my great-great uncle. I then obtained an unpublished picture of Hugh in his 3rd Colorado Cavalry uniform, which is in Cheyenne War.

Another research moment came when I found the pension claim of Susanna Alderdice’s first husband, who had died in the Civil War. All that was known was that his last name was spelled either Dailey or Daily. Both last names appear in hundreds of Civil War pension files, and to go through each and every one would have taken probably no less than three months of daily research in the archives ( has now changed this to a much more convenient and swift process). As I obtained more and more information relating to Susanna’s story, I came to learn that her surviving boy spelled his name Willis Daily, and his son, born in the 1880s, was James Alfred Daily. I took a hunch that perhaps he named his son after his father, who died when Willis was a month old. So I looked and there was one Kansas pension under the name James A. Daily. Bingo, it was what I wanted. After Susanna was killed at Summit Springs, Willis was raised by her father and mother, and they filed the claim for Willis, who received a few dollars each month until he turned 16. The claim was rich in Susanna’s history, giving the birthdates and ages of her children, both of her marriages, and other information. It really helped me to put together her story in Dog Soldier Justice. But it was just a hunch that got me what I was searching for. I’ve acted on numerous hunches like which have paid off in my research.

Do you plan further research of the Indian depredation claims?
Yes, I do. In fact, as I was carefully studying the 8 feet of copied documents from the Indian depredation claims that I collected between 2001–10, and which I finally put together in Cheyenne War, I discovered many more names of people who filed claims. When raids occurred, it was common there were multiple victims. Finding all the names is difficult, but one place where names are found is in the claims themselves, for many claims contain the names of other victims. So each time I went to the National Archives and copied documents, I brought them back home and studied them, noting within the claims the names of other victims, which I would then go back to the archives and copy those new claims. At my last visit in 2010 I thought I had all I needed to Cheyenne War, but when I put them all together I again discovered more. My new Word document of names and military reports, pension files, etc., to hunt in the archives is 13 pages long, containing dozens of new claims to copy and study.

Has your research prompted any new projects?
There are two projects I have in mind. One involves a man who received a Medal of Honor in the campaign to rescue the two Kansas women taken captive in 1869, and which brings Cheyenne War to a close at Summit Springs on July 11. His name was John Kile, and I became intrigued with his story because in 1870 he was killed by Wild Bill Hickok in a drunken brawl in Hays, Kansas. The historical accounts about this brawl are nearly all fiction, the exception being Joe Rosa’s writings on Hickok. But even Rosa’s stellar research leaves this cavalryman a mystery. I have uncovered from the military records that Kile had a most interesting military career. Because of his connection to Hickok’s fame I would like to write a short book about the brawl and bring the reader into Kile’s military career, which, in addition to the 1869 Medal of Honor, included multiple desertions in both the infantry and cavalry. But he always came back to the military, and I think there is much to learn about military service during the Indian wars by drawing out the experiences of John Kile, as well as much to learn about people who are awarded the Medal of Honor. One’s ability to act above and beyond the call of duty is not necessarily the result of high moral character. MOH recipients are in all other regards just like other military people, and Kile’s story helps to clarify that. Regardless, I was so intrigued by Kile’s story that I named my son, who turns 6 on the anniversary of Summit Springs, after John Kile.

The other project, which will entail acquiring about 1,000 more pages of Indian depredation claims from D.C., is to do a two-volume work that I might call A Documentary History of the Cheyenne War, 1864–1869. I would write about a 35-page chapter for each year, and then following each chapter would be all of the firsthand testimonials from the depredation claims for that year or event. My opening chapters for each year would put the raids into context with what was happening that particular year, and then would follow the firsthand accounts from the depredation claims, which I would annotate with military reports, reminisces, newspaper accounts, Indian accounts, etc. You could say that my new book, Cheyenne War, is a condensed and abridged version of this potential larger project.