The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 75, July 1971 - April, 1972

Notes and Documents
Thompson McFadden's Diary of an
Indian Campaign, 1874
Edited by ROBERT C. CARRIKER*
LITTLE IS KNOWN TODAY OF THOMPSON MCFADDEN. AS A CIVILIAN
scout in the Indian Territory Expedition for five months he drew
his pay at the rate of $2.50 per day, but no official service record was
made for him. Certainly he was no ordinary frontiersman for his ed-
ucational level appears to have been unusually high. In his campaign
diary he is wont to describe the beauties of Tule Canyon, include
dialogue, quote Edward Everett, allude to poetry, and even (on
September 2) see a stream "coursing" through a valley so "strongly
impregnated" with alkali as to have a "deleterious" effect on men and
horses.
McFadden, like so many other Southern Plains scouts, apparently
followed Colonel Nelson A. Miles to the Sioux Wars of 1876 and
thereafter remained in Montana. In some manner his diary came into
the possession of H. P. Raban, secretary-treasurer of the Montana
Newspaper Association in Great Falls. From there a copy was sent in
March, 1921, to General Frank Dwight Baldwin, then living in Den-
ver. It was only natural that Baldwin would be interested in the Mc-
Fadden account since it was he who had directed the guides in the
Red River War. The copy retained by Baldwin remained locked in
an army trunk that passed from Colorado to California and was finally
rediscovered in September, 1969, in a San Diego garage.
The Red River War had roots that lay deep in the soil of the
Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, and Comanche reservations. Following
the failure of the Grant Peace Policy the Southern Plains was beset
with a series of seemingly interminable conflicts between whites and
reds, over trading, hunting, liquor, and property rights. A war spirit
among the tribesmen, nursed along by these altercations, began to
take hold in the spring and early summer of 1874 until finally a
*Robert C. Carriker, associate professor of history at Gonzaga University, Spokane,
Washington, is the author of Fort Supply, Indian Territory and is presently completing
a biography of Frank Dwight Baldwin, under a grant from the Henry E. Huntington
Library.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 75, July 1971 - April, 1972. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101201/. Accessed September 20, 2014.