John Gregory Bourke kept a monumental set of diaries as aide-de-camp to Brigadier General George Crook. This fourth volume (of a projected set of eight) chronicles the political and managerial affairs in Crook's Department of the Platte. A large portion centers on the continuing controversy concerning the forced relocation of the Ponca Indians from their ancient homeland along the Dakota-Nebraska line to a new reservation in the Indian Territory. An equally large portion concerns Bourke's ethnological work under official sanction from the army and the Bureau of Ethnology.
Each volume in the series is extensively annotated and contains a biographical appendix on Indians, civilians, and military personnel named in the volume.