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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
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. As 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
Knob came around enquiring for me and told me to be ready, as a wagon would be along soon and I should go to the herd with him. I suppose some of the officers had spoken to the Quartermaster, and I was put on his list at twenty dollars a month. At the herd the boys would catch a quiet mule for me and I would go with them to the grazing grounds and they would do their herding. In the course of two weeks I had become rugged, but could not walk
distance. This was the year of the organizing of the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. People began to come in. Steve Atchison, who was, or had been, a U. S. Senator, crossed the Missouri river above the fort with a horde of Missourians, at what is now called Atchison, to lay the foundation of a slave state. His home was in Platte City, Missouri. On the 12th of July, Major Ogden sent for me and put me in command of five men and a string of fifty-two horses, with rope from the tongue of the wagon to a pair of leaders, directing me to proceed to the Stranger and choose a camp and receive four hundred horses which he would send out. By hard work we reached it and formed our camp, as the sun was setting, traveling twelve miles in seven hours. In the night three or four more strings came in, some with half or more of their horses gone; and from one string three men deserted. In the night I sent back to the Fort to report the condition of the horses. I received orders to gather them up, count them and report. We scoured the country for five miles around and got a good many; and to count them we tied them to a new stake-and-ridered fence; and before I got them counted they scared and pulled about sixty rods of the fence down. Then we had a circus: horses snorting, running, with rails flying in the air, and men using their best endeavors to escape injuries. As luck would have it no more came out, but they sent five more men, and then we gathered them again, and formed a square by placing a wagon on each corner, and stretching our lead lines from wagon to wagon, to which we tied them with halter. Counting them we found only seven missing. After a couple of days the balance were sent out and men enough to take care of them in a way, and I was relieved from charge of all but my fifty-two. Then came companies B and E, First Dragoons, and some thirty officers and cadets for New Mexico. Our route was the same we had traveled the two previous years, as far as
we had gone.
At Walnut creek we had some
trouble through the interference of so many young officers; but it was settled by raising our pay ten dollars per month. There were one hundred and six citizens, teamsters, and horsemen in the command. We crossed the Arkansas at the regular crossing and went
. into camp on a low bottom. Our camp formed with the two companies on the flanks, and the train drawn along parallel with the river and far enough back from it to give us room to picket on half lariat. The train consisted of seventy wagons with six mules to
Noticing the horses appeared restless, I refrained from lying down, and kept my men up conversing on various subjects. About ten o'clock they made a break. We ran to save our horses and turned the balance off, thereby saving most all of mine and the companies' that were below me. Here was a catastrophe. Seven or eight hundred animals on a stampede, picket pins flying in the air, but too dark to see them. Those who have heard the charge of a thousand cavalrymen may know the noise, minus the yell. After my horses became quiet, I took three, men and went in pursuit, finding a number whose picket ropes had become entangled in different squads. I sent them with the men to camp and proceeded down the river some ten miles when my horse took to acting strangely and refused to be urged on. Believing myself in the vicinity of Indians, and without arms, 1 thought it policy to return. After riding far enough, as I thought, to be at camp, and coming to the river I got off and went down the bank, which is hardly ever more than three feet high, and put my hand into the water to tell which
it flowed. Finding myself right, I mounted and started on, but did not go far before I was hailed. Answering “friend,” I was told to advance and give the countersign, and there within twenty feet of me was Lieutenant Hastings with twenty-five men. I had not heard them nor could I see them; the night had become so foggy, but I was near camp.
Lying down I slept three or four hours and had something to eat when I woke up. We were then sent out to scour the country for the horses and got many, myself taking a course a little more south of my night ride. About two miles out I came upon three dead horses with no signs of injuries about them that I could discover. I believe they ran themselves to death. Continuing my course for about an hour, and getting into more broken country, as I ascended an eminence I spied near by two small pack