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in the current. The river was near half a mile wide and not over a foot deep in any place. It was after dark when we got to camp.
The next morning Harney came to me inquiring after the buffalo robes, saying he wanted them for his old regiment and that I should get them. Thinking my turn had now come for a cursing, I says, “how many, General?” and he turns off and says, “no more.' But he had scared nice large robe out of one of the teamsters, who brought it to me. I searched the wagons but found no more, neither had I seen any put in the wagons. They had buried our dead whilst I was on the battlefield, a little to the west of Ash Hollow and not far from the bluff, on rising ground. Learning that a man by the name of McDonald, with whom I had served two years in the first dragoons, was buried there, I went to pay my last respects to his grave, which was marked with a cedar post. Leaving two companies here with the largest number of prisoners, to build a post, which was called Fort Grafton, after a Lieutenant by that name, who was sent with eighteen men to punish them for killing a Mormon's cow. They proved too many for him, killing his whole party but one, and he was wounded.
This was the year previous-1855. Passing on to Laramie, there was nothing unusual except in the vicinity of Courthouse Rock, where we had encamped about 3 o'clock on a clear, bright day with a gentle breeze from the south. We had our first sight of grass-boppers.
An hour after camping the ground was covered one inch thick with them. At every step we would tread numbers of them. The air was full of them so you could hardly discern the sun. Before night there was not a spear grass
left for our animals. Whilst passing up the Platte some of the Indians, twelve in number, who had saved themselves, were abead of us, and coming into Laramie as if on a trading expedition. They got between the herd and the Mexican herders, who were along the walls of the Fort. They raised a yell, swinging their blankets, and stampeded one hundred and fifty animals. The post wagon-master being saddled, mounted and put after them and saved a good many.
Major How who was up the Laramie nine miles, with four companies of cavalry, was sent for; he followed them two days and returned. When he reported to Harney, it was better than any tragedy Shakespeare ever wrote. He cursed him and swore till everything was blue. I think
he was put under arrest; at last he was taken to Fort Pierre. After remaining ten days to rest the animals, he took all the spare troops, leaving some prisoners there. We started out to build a fort on White River. The first day we camped on Running Water river. The next we went down a dry draw till we came to water, the head of White River, which we followed down three days, and then abandoned the building of the fort, the Laramie. Our troops were sent back, and with the infantry we started for Pierre on the ninth of October. Here on the head of the river we had snow twelve inches deep, and had frost every night for a month.
The snow soon disappeared, but it left our mules weak. Every morning we would have to help some of them up before putting the harness on them; they would travel fifteen or twenty miles a day. I should be pardoned if I swore here, for we crossed this stream thirteen times in one day. At every crossing there would be a lot of soldiers to help, the teams across, they standing on the bank yelling and doing no earthly good. We soon after bid adieu to White River, and passing up a long gradual slope for ten miles, we camped on a high piece of ground with a swale on it with good grass and water. The next morning we had to let our wagons down from this hill with both wheels locked, and long ropes attached, with men to hold them back. This hill was sand, three or four hundred feet high, the descent being about sixty degrees. At the bottom we found ourselves in the Bad Lands which it took us two days to cross. men found a road through them is a question to me.
Here were brought to the train many specimens of petrifications, amongst which was a turtle three feet long; it looked as if it might have been just caught on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico. We had a night's camp on alkali water that looked like strained honey, which we could not drink without mixing with coffee. After getting out of these lands we came to a more beautiful country, which is destined to be a great wheat field. Two days more brought us to Pierre, in a cold rain, when our mules were turned loose with picket ropes dragging. In the morning, going to look after them, I found a great many of them dead; on the ends of the ropes were frozen three to five hundred pounds of mud which was gathered as they dragged them. Some could no longer pull their ropes and were anchored. These were fine Kentucky mules, but too young
How many for the trip, many only two years old. This day the Quartermaster told me the General wanted me to stay with him. I told him I would do so for. sixty-five dollars a month. He thought it was more than they could pay. I felt a little sore, as I had done my own duty and a good deal of the head wagon-master's, for which he received the pay, my pay being only forty-five dollars. After spend ing a week above Pierre, in crossing the Missouri, I was sent after, but I declined the call and have not regretted it. Pierre was an old trading post built of adobe brick, half a mile from the river, and eight miles from timber, a desolate, bleak looking place. I left there without going back to bid the General farewell, who had always treated me with respect, I think from the fact that we had traveled a good deal over Florida, known to each other. With Quartermaster Van Vleet, his brother, teamsters, and fourteen teams, we started down the north side of the river, crossing Jim River about fifty miles north of its mouth. Then taking a southeast course we came to the Big Sioux, west of Sioux City. We continued on to Leavenworth, where we were paid off and sent into Platt county, Mo., with a herd of mules to winter. IIere, in the early March of 1856, I made up my mind to quit the government employ, and going to the Fort drew my pay. Being asked where I was going, I told them twenty miles beyond the last white settlement up the Missouri, thinking I should hardly go 'so far, but I went one hundred. At Sioux City I took a contract of Frame & Rustin to get out thirty thousand rails at thirty dollars per thousand, in Dakota county, Nebraska. Employing two men, I went to where we were to board, got mauls and wedge timber from the bluff at St. : Johns, and was ready for work. The next morning, seeing a grove', of timber off to the southwest, and thinking we might as well have a claim apiece, we started for it. · After walking two or three miles we found ourselves on low ground with water on it, but pushing on through snow and water till it came above our boots, and finding ourselves still a mile from the objective point, we had to beat a retreat, returning to our boarding places tired out and weary. Here all was confusion; the beds out and things torn up generally. On making inquiries, the lady told us (and she was a lady) that she could not keep us. With tears in her eyes she pointed out the lice in her beds. She had a boarder whom she called Posey, an Indianian, for?
a week, who had inoculated the whole house. Sioux City was lousy place, but I and my men had changed our clothes and put on some new ones before leaving there. She gave us something to eat and we wormed ourselves back over six long miles.
I threw up my contract. I then pulled at an oar on the first ferry that crossed the river here, and made the acquaintance of Melchisadeck Huddleson, by some called Hairie, by others Harry. As I may have considerable to say of him, I will give his description: A man six feet two inches tall, straight as a soldier, with dark complexion, brown eyes, long heavy beard which he had a habit of pulling frequently; he was of a quiet and peaceful babit and weighed about one hundred and seventy-five or eighty pounds, and as strong as an ox; he was between thirty-five and forty years of age at that time. My next employ was to hold down a claim for Joe Holman which he turned into Pacific City. I built the first frame of a house in Dakota county, for him. Whilst doing so, and working round the saw mill there, I would frequently attend Father Martin's prayer meetings and listen to his Sabbatb discourses. He had bought thirteen acres of timber land near by, calculating to get from it so many thousand feet of lumber and two hundred cords of wood. The wood would be worth six hundred dollars an acre, to say nothing of the lumber. I happened to be in Sioux City when he arrived by steamer, and was amused to see him hunting for a barrel of soft soap while his family were standing on the bank waiting for him. He found it, and has been using it for many years on the people of Dakota county through the columns of the Eagle. In November there was a claim meeting called at Sioux City, of claim holders of the Niobrara, consisting of B. Y. Shelly, Judge Hubbard, Frank West, George Detwilder, Treadway, Holman and some others. Huddleson, I believe, had taken one on the Bazill. I had none, but was hired to go up and hold the claims at sixty-five dollars per month, with grub, by the town company, and was elected recorder of the club. We had a constitution and bylaws, which allowed me one dollar for recording a claim. But I never charged and was glad to see people come in. Buying nine pair of fine large white bed blankets of Holman, and one hundred pounds of sugar, some coffee and beads to trade on, and loading some provisions of the company's, Harry Huddleson, Vogleson, Smith and myself, with a yoke of oxen, started for our destined home. At St. Johns, on the Dakota bottom, was an Irish colony of Catholics. After that there was neither a settlement nor a house for a hundred miles. Following an Indian trail, we crossed Iowa Creek, where Ponca is now located; following up the west branch to its head we crossed to the Lime Creek hills, passing on to Bean where we camped for the night. These valleys are the best part of North Nebraska. The next night we were at Secre Grove, and the last night we lay out on a hill about eight miles from our destination with the wind blowing a gale; all our bed clothes would not keep us
At dawn of day we proceeded, keeping an Indian trail which we bad followed from the Dakota bottom. Harry had been over the route in August previous and had assisted in putting up a cabin and stable, which we were to occupy. Arriving at our destination we found ourselves on a bottom five miles long, one and a half wide, bounded on the west by the Running Water, or Niobrara; Missouri river on the north, Bazill on the east and high bluffs on the south. The cabin was situated about central, close to a willow bed and two hundred yards from the Missouri. It was built three logs on a side and four on ends, one across the top, and covered with willows, grass, and a foot of earth. The logs would average about two and a half feet in diameter. A twelve-light window of 7x9 glass, placed horizontally in the south, with a good strong door at the east, completed the house. Inside the dimensions were 14x16 feet, and banked up with earth three feet high. Three or four rods to the east was the stable. I would not have been so descriptive here, but as there have been some high and almost tragic scenes taken place which nothing but unbounded courage and good judgment could or did avoid. Here we were in a village of one thousand hostile savages camped all around us, claiming the country. The old settlers who, Mr. Draper, in his history, says, were burned out and took refuge in the old Fort, were R. R. Cowan and James Small, the ashes of whose houses were never seen. If Cowan had been there in '53, he must have been a Mormon. The only evidence of their having been there was a pair of mill buhrs cut in scientific form from a boulder, about two feet and a half in diameter. · After a day or two Cowan, not liking the situation left, I believe, on foot and alone, for Sioux City, leaving five of us there to contend with the Indians; they became more ugly each day. But we went