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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
People began to come in.
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 any distance. This was the year of the organizing of the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. 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 vicin
ity of Indians, and without arms, I 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 way 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
at least could be made useful.
mules with packs lying on the ground and a man eighty rods away hurrying to his camp. I put spurs to my horse and beat him. ing a gun, I jumped off and got it and remounted. Seeing he hesitated, I motioned him to advance, which he did very deliberately. He proved to be the poorest specimen of the human race I had ever seen. By signs, together with what little Spanish I could speak, he was given to understand that his business was to pack up and go to camp, thinking he might prove to be the cause of our stampede, or After turning him over to the commanding officer I saw no more of him. After three or four days the Indians brought in some horses for which they were paid ten dollars a head in gold. I got a number of the ten dollar pieces for a pint cup of sugar, and might have got all if my sugar had held out. I had always taken some extra coffee and sugar with me when going on the plains. Having got most all our animals, we broke camp and recrossed the river, and continued up the north side to Bent's Fort, a trading post, where we were not far from Pike's Peak. We next crossed the Arkansas, and went up a stream properly called Purgatory, which we followed to the summit of the Rattone mountains. Passing down on the southwest side, we came to the ranch of Maxwell and Kit Carson, consisting of a few log cabins covered with earth, numerous Indians and half breeds. Continuing south and west we arrived at Fort Union. The next day we turned our horses over to the quartermaster, who placed them in a two-acre corral built of pine trees from twelve to sixteen inches in diameter, placed in the ground about three feet, and eight feet high, close together, with good plank doors. He counted them and receipted, and we had not got twenty rods away when out they broke at the door, and cramming through, broke down three rods of the corral, and the last I saw of them was a cloud of dust away off toward Santa Fe. We were paid off here, and after our teams rested a few days, we returned in wagons by what is known as the Cimeron route, crossing the Arkansas at our stampede ground. As we got near Leavenworth we would meet occasionally a white man. When we arrived at the Fort we were again paid off and discharged.
Hearing that the town of Leavenworth was laid off at Three Mile creek, I went down to see it and find out what show there would be for winter quarters. I found the brush cut out of the streets and a
stone foundation laid for a hotel, with the frame going up. ticed two or three piles of lumber on the ground for other buildings. Seeing no show for quarters, I returned to the Fort and had a talk with Major Ogden regarding the town. I wanted to buy a share or
two that he said would be worth five hundred dollars a share, but the company had not arranged to make them transferable. I had in my possession something over one thousand dollars at that time. Having no place to stay, I got a hack going to Weston, Mo. There I fitted myself out with wearing apparel and took a steamer for St. Louis, going to southeastern Iowa for winter quarters. Early in March I crossed northern Missouri on horseback, and when I arrived at Leavenworth, I found the hotel running. Russell and Majors these were the great freighters-were erecting a store building and a printing press on the levee, near a big tree. They had a rousing big log fire by which they cooked their grub and published their paper. The shares of the town company had risen to three thousand dollars. Probably there were ten or a dozen houses up at that time. After spending a month in town, I sold my horse and went on the herd at the knob, going to town two or three times a week. Here I saw some sixty or seventy-five men march from the town with arms, pistols, guns and blankets on their back for the sacking of Lawrence. Some of them I knew to be free state men. Why they went has always been a query in my mind. At the first election, men came in companies and tied their horses to trees and bushes till they covered the ground for three quarters of a mile around; also a steam-boat load from the town of Weston, Mo. I do not believe that ten of every hundred were entitled to vote, but they did all the same, making the election for slavery. A month later they took a free state man to Weston, tarred and feathered him and had him sold to a negro for a cent. He came back to town and some time after he was shot dead. I believe his name was Phillips.
Whilst herding we noticed men going around and blazing trees or driving stakes in the ground, marking them with the name and the part of the claim they were on. In the course of a day or two others would come along and put all previous marks. Whether ground they marked, I know not.
others in their place, obliterating any of them ever settled on the
Some, if they were not, should
have been settled six feet under the surface. It is a defect in the government that the most desirable land is not surveyed before opening for settlement. Before leaving this locality, let me describe it. As last seen Leavenworth was about two-thirds as large as Blair at the present time, but had not as good buildings. Russell and Majors were the moving force. I heard Majors say they had cattle enough, when yoked and strung out, to reach fifty-six miles, to the Kaw river. Their shops were located in Leavenworth. Their great wagons were like schooners, which they loaded with seventy hundred for six yoke of oxen and one bull whacker. Where ever sent, the wagons in town covered about five acres of ground. Ox-yokes, all that would lie on a city block, were piled up, and log chains, two hundred feet square, were piled to a pyramid.
On the 5th of August, 1855, I was called to the Fort and put in charge of staff, baggage and ordnance train in General Harney's expedition against the Sioux, consisting of Company B, First Artillery as Cavalry, four companies of the Sixth Infantry with a large train. Reaching our camping grounds on the Stranger, twelve miles out, at dark, with many mules given out, the General called me, ordering me to return to the Post and bring out twelve of the best mules. Then I got something to eat and returned for my orders, when he repeated the "best mules." I got there at two in the morning, and it was so dark that nothing could be done. I lay down and slept an hour and at the peep of day was pounding on the door of the Quartermaster. After arousing him, I presented him my order. He sent me for Mr. Wilson, Post wagon-master, who was ordered to fill the order. Wilson said to me not to take the water team, thereby showing he knew I was to have my choice. Knowing the pride that was taken in that team, I would have been a vandal to have robbed them of it if it had suited me. Getting my mules and three men, we returned to camp. When reporting to the General, I told him that I had heard that the cholera had broken out at Fort Riley; that men were dying very fast, and that the doctor had deserted his post. He broke out in a great rage, swearing he would arrest and cashier him. Reminding him that my news was only rumor, and his mail would soon be in with more definite news, he was pacified. That evening our surgeon was ordered to Fort Riley, and the command proceeded on its way the next day. Crossing the Big