Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

three made up the party.

Our ambulance was drawn by four snowwhite horses, perfect beauties, that were the pride of General Wheaton. Fremont was then the first station west of Omaha and was our objective point for the first day. We reached there without incident,

, but hungry and stiff from our long journey. We were thirsty, too, and right here let me tell you that I did not know what a really good drink was until that night. You see, Major Olmsted was one of those good old Germans whose love of the national beverage had not been lost when he left the fatherland, and when he learned that there was a barrel of beer at the station, he set about to concoct what he termed a "flip.” He first beat up some eggs in a big tin bucket, filled it up with beer and stirred the whole with a red hot poker. To us, tired as we were, it was nectar fit for the gods, and the Fremonters, learning of the extra occasion, dropped in and kept the jolly Major busy making flips, until it was about as merry a party as you can imagine. There are several of that party left, and I'll wager that the memory of that night is a green oasis in a pretty generally barren desert."

"Next morning we started for the reservation, which was located near Genoa. It was the counterpart of the previous day in spring loveliness. Not a cloud in the bright sky. Not a soul did we meet as we travelled along, and we were congratulating ourselves that we were to make a safe journey. About 5 o'clock in the afternoon we passed a ranch, one of the few in that part of the state at that time. Tethered in front of the ranch stood as noble a piece of horseflesh as I had ever set my eyes upon.

He was a beautiful coal black fellow, as trimly built as a racer, and we all fell so greatly in love with him at first sight that we stopped to look him over. It was not until we had gone on some distance that I remembered that I had heard that just such a horse was in the possession of the leader of a band of marauders who had made much trouble in that section. The thought came over me in an instant that the presence of the horse on our route meant serious trouble for us. Major Olmstead laughed at me at first, but when I related some of the gang's exploits he became nervous and displayed the first signs of fear I had ever been able to detect in his nature. I stopped the ambulance and gave the escort orders to keep a sharp lookout, both ahead and in the rear, and then started on as fast as we could, hoping to make Columbus before

ng could get together. About half an hour later one of the

escort rode up alongside and told me that the horse with a rider was coming up the trail behind us. Looking back I saw the beautiful steed coming toward us with the speed of a whirlwind, it seemed. I felt that there was trouble brewing, and had all our weapons examined and saw that there were plenty of cartridges in readiness for use."

" The fact was well known that the Pawnees were to be mustered out and paid off, and it was also known that the money would have to be brought overland by the paymaster. Our conveyance was therefore a signal that the money was coming for everyone knew who drove the four white horses. I was aware that the desperadoes would have no twinges of conscience if they could capture our money bags, and they would not hesitate to shoot us down like dogs if it were necessary to secure the money.

So

you will understand why I was suspicious and even fearful. When about half a mile in our rear, the rider veered off the trail and swept around to the southwest and passed us, coming up to within a short distance of the trail ahead of us. He halted on a little knoll alongside the trail, and when we were about three hundred yards away, he dismounted, dropped on one knee behind a rock and commenced to pump shots from a Henri rifle at us. We were in for it. One of the first shots hit one of the ambulance horses in the leg and disabled it. Now, I was perfectly well aware that this one man would never capture our party and that any man would be a fool who would attempt such a thing; but I was also well aware that within probably ten or fifteen miles there were many other members of the gang, and I divined, rightly, I think, that this man's object was to disable us and delay us until he could get reinforcements. Meanwhile the bullets were be

, ing poured in on us as rapidly as the Henri could speak, and our return fire was unavailing. We were armed only with army revolvers, and the long range destroyed their effect. Ordering the escort to charge the desperado, I climbed out of the ambulance and unhitched our disabled horse. Did the escort capture the fellow? Well, no. When they came within range of him, he coolly mounted and dashed off at a rate with which our tired horses could bear no comparison. When at a safe distance he halted again, and the guard returned to the ambulance. Hitching one of the escort's horses in place of the disabled one, we started on.

Well, when we had again come within range of that fellow, he repeated his former dose of Henri bullets, and we again charged him and drove him further up the trail. I realized that the only thing that would save us was to keep moving toward Columbus, in hopes of reaching there before the gang would have time to reinforce their leader. The Shell creek country was so full of desperadoes at that time that I knew that in a short time the shots would be heard by some of the gang, and that the result would be our capture. We proceeded in this way the rest of the distance to Columbus. A charge, a hurried nounting and fight by the assailant, a slow following by the ambulance and another fusilade of bullets. The sides of the ambulance and the hubs and spokes were filled with bullet holes, but strange to say none of the shots took effect on either the horses or the party, after the disabling of the first horse in the beginning of the fight.

[ocr errors]

“Finally we reached Columbus about 8 o'clock that night, in pretty bad condition, I assure you. That fellow had dogged us until within sight of the town and had then made off over the hills. Sheriff Becker (1 hink that's his name) was one of the first to greet us. When he heard of our experience, he at once mustered a posse and gave chase, our escort accompanying them, and about eighteen hours later they succeeded in finding the headquarters of the gang and captured them. But they did not capture him of the beautiful horse, and I never saw either of them afterward. The gang was broken up, however, much to the relief of the settlers in the Shell Creek region.

“We went to Genoa the next afternoon, and the succeeding day paid off and mustered out the Indians. Our party had the pleasure of witnessing the novel war dance and other Indian ceremonies, and in the evening we were taken to the dormitory of the Indian school to see the little 'Injuns' sleeping. We went into the dormitory, and to our surprise found not a bed occupied. Then, after enjoying our amazement, the principal took us to a window opening on the piazza and showed us the little fellows, wrapped in blankets, sleeping peacefully in the open air, beneath the full moon's gentle rays. It seems they preferred the hard side of a plank and a blanket to the soft beds of the dormitory, and I sometimes think that their tastes, not ours. are after all correct.”

“How did we come to be so nearly unarmed, you ask? Well, that's something I could never satisfactorily explain to myself. was simply a foolish bit of carelessness. Why, if that fellow had succeeded in disabling us so that we could not proceed to Columbus, we should have been at his mercy. He could easily have called his gang together and compelled us to give up the money, or--well, perhaps I shouldn't be here to tell this story. You can be sure that the next trip I took we were armed with rifles. I am not particularly possessed of fear, but I don't like to court death by traveling unarmed in an infested region, particularly when there is treasure aboard."

REMINISCENCES OF EARLY DAYS IN NEBRASKA.

By D. C. BEAM.

*

Being in St. Louis in the spring of 1852, without any special object in view, and seeing a steamer firing up to make the trip to St. Joseph, Missouri, the thought struck me to make the trip, thinking that I might wander: to the Pacific coast.

In less than half an hour I was on board with passage paid. Coming up the Missouri I made the acquaintance of the Post Quartermaster of Fort Leavenworth, who proffered me employment, and gained my consent. Upon landing and finding myself at home among the soldiers, the second day I was again enlisted for five years in the First Regiment, Dragoons, U. S. A., June 1, 1852. With these

remarks we will now confine ourselves to the country bounded as follows: On the east by Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri river and Missouri; south by the Indian Territory; west, the Rocky mountains; north, the British possessions. All within these bounds was called Nebraska at the date of my entrance.

About the last of June or the first of July, Company B, First Regiment, U. S. A. Dragoons, was ordered to proceed to and along the Arkansas river, to protect the travel and keep the road open between Independence, Missouri, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Passing southwest, crossing the Stranger and the Grasshopper, we struck the Kaw river at a ferry about fifty miles from the place of starting, near the lower missionary establishment. The country passed over made one of the most beautiful panoramas I had ever seen, and the best agricultural part of the present state of Kansas.

Here we met our first Indians, about thirty Pottawatomies, the first I had seen, though the Kickapoos were nearer Leavenworth. They made no prepossessing appearance in my view. They were called semi-civilized. Crossing the Kansas river and continuing

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »