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"How did we come to be so nearly unarmed, you ask? Well, that's something I could never satisfactorily explain to myself. It 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
southwest to the intersection of the road from Independence to Santa Fe, on to Council Grove, we passed some very broken country with beautiful valleys, susceptible of bountiful production whilst the ridges look barren. At the Grove was a missionary school, with a large and beautiful stone building, belonging to the Baptist denomination. Proceeding we passed a more level but less fertile country. At Cow creek we saw our first buffalo, and the country was alive with them for seventy-five miles up the Arkansas river. From the highest elevation, where the eye could sweep over a radius of twenty miles, nothing was to be seen but buffalo. I have no doubt but each square mile on an average contained two thousand of them. The year previous the troops passing over the same country had to bring a battery of artillery to play on them to save their train and open the way. It is a curious feature of theirs that they will always pass a moving object to the front.
Passing up the river one hundred and twenty-five miles, we arrived at what was called Fort McKey; dried mud shelters for the men and a trading post for Indians. Here we spent some two months or more with the Kiowas, camped near by. These Indians were great horsemen, and would run races, bet their tepees and everything they had on their favorite horse. Besides they were superb with the bow. I have seen one of them send an arrow clear through a buffalo at fifteen paces; and he got his meat in the river. Another curiosity to me was the burial of their old chief. He was placed in the ground in a sitting position with bow and arrows by his side, and some buffalo meat; then covered with robes and earth until there was a large mound; after which they led his war horses around his grave, and then pierced them to the heart with a long lance, and had them fall on his grave, to the number of thirteen. After which the whole tribe made the circle and cut off some of the hair from their ponies' tails and threw it on his grave. Next came
the squaws in almost a nude condition with knife in hand, going around the same, howling, and cutting their arms and breasts until their bodies were covered with blood, keeping up their lament all the while. Sickening of the scene, we turned away in disgust, and not long after they all went to their camp; but kept mourning for many nights after.
We made a week's trip up the river; and whilst gone, eight Paw
nees came out spying for a raid, and finding the 'Rapahoes camped on the river in two villages about three miles apart and their horses grazing between, they took the most favorable opportunity and stampeded the horses, and run off most all, not leaving them enough to follow. They were mad and threatened to go to the Pawnee village and annihilate them. It was amusing to see their gestures and learn through an interpreter, what they said; and sure enough the following spring they got allies among the Cheyennes, Comanches, and Prairie Paches, and started to execute their threat. The Pawnees, learning of their designs, traded ponies for arms and recruits among the Kickapoos, Wyandots, Otoes, Pottawatomies, and most likely the Omahas, met them on the Smoky Hill fork of the Kansas river, and whipped them badly-very badly. It is the writer's opinion, that the Pawnees were the greatest thieves and the bravest Indians west of the Missouri. They were always at war with the Sioux and frequently with other tribes. Previous to my entering into Nebraska, they gave the government troops a great deal of trouble by their thieving propensities.
In the fall we returned to winter quarters at Leavenworth by the same route, crossing Kansas a little higher up. Shortly after returning twelve or fifteen of us were ordered to escort Major Ogden and three other officers to the junction of the Smoky Hill and the Republican fork of the Kansas river, for the purpose of choosing a site and laying off a Fort. Passing a little more to the north and west of our usual route, we struck the river higher up, continuing up the north side to our destination, passing St. Mary's mission-a Catholic institution. If I remember right it was a nunnery. The following day I was ordered to take five men and three teams and go back to the mission for corn. We felt much elated to think that we would get something to eat, for we had had no vegetables all summer; but we had to work hard shelling corn for three days and only shelled one hundred and twenty-five bushels. The Priest in charge would come and invite us to meals which were anything but inviting. If a soldier's mess room in barracks was as filthy, some one would be walked to the guard house. Before we got back to camp we suffered much with cold, and snow had fallen six inches deep; but it was cheering to find the boys sitting around rousing fires, with numbers of wild turkeys strung up to roast and many
hung on trees for future use. Our work was now done and the ground work of Fort Riley was laid. We broke camp and started for winter quarters.
In the spring and summer of 1853, we passed over the route of '52 on the same duties at Fort McKey. We again found the Arapahoes, who had some time before arrived from their annihilating trip. long as we lay there they kept mourning their dead. They would commence at dark, howling, dogs howling, keeping the air filled with sounds until near morning, reminding me of New York, at a distance. This season we passed as far west as the big timbers on the Arkansas river, five or six hundred miles out. After standing
the mosquitoes one night, we started on our return by easy marches. At Fort McKey we met Maj. Fitzpatrick, who had come out with a large train laden with presents for the wild Indians. Learning that the Indians had got a Mexican merchant with his train in trouble, boots and saddles were sounded and we were off for the crossing of the road to Santa Fe, some twenty-five miles above. Here we found he had got part of his train across. The river here was about forty rods wide with quicksand bottom, but shallow. The Indians seeing an opportunity to take them in detail intended to rob them. Learning of our near approach they left. We followed about ten miles, spied their camp and got within half a mile of them before they discovered us. We charged into their camp but they scattered in every direction. There was a man sent out and had them return, when they were scolded and invited to meet Fitzpatrick, to make a Cracker and Molasses Treaty, as Gen'l. Harney called it. After the presents
were distributed, we remained some time, then returned to Leavenworth.
In the year 1854 there was more stirring in Kansas than any year previous, and to me it was the most unfortunate in the early spring. Whilst on drill, I got the hammer of a carbine crammed into my leg which sent me to the hospital, where it was poulticed, blistered, burned, and scarrified. After all the treatment, I was discharged for disability. Going to the company's quarters, I tore up my discharge without reading it through. I went to the orderly Sergeant's room and sat down, not knowing what to do. Having no money, or very little, and not being able to walk away, I sat there feeling very blue. In the course of an hour the boss herder at Pilot