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´╗┐Title: Chief of Scouts
Author: Drannan, William F., 1832-1913
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Chief of Scouts" ***

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[Illustration: Captain William F. Drannan, Chief of Scouts.]



As Pilot to Emigrant and Government Trains, Across the Plains of the
Wild West of Fifty Years Ago.



_Copiously Illustrated by E. BERT SMITH._



The kindly interest with which the public has received my first book,
"Thirty-one Years on the Plains and in the Mountains," has tempted me
into writing this second little volume, in which I have tried to portray
that part of my earlier life which was spent in piloting emigrant
and government trains across the Western Plains, when "Plains" meant
wilderness, with nothing to encounter but wild animals, and wilder,
hostile Indian tribes. When every step forward might have spelt
disaster, and deadly danger was likely to lurk behind each bush or
thicket that was passed.

The tales put down here are tales of true occurrences,--not fiction.
They are tales that were lived through by throbbing hearts of men and
women, who were all bent upon the one, same purpose:--to plow onward,
onward, through danger and death, till their goal, the "land of gold,"
was reached, and if the kind reader will receive them and judge them
as such, the purpose of this little book will be amply and generously















[Illustration: The Attack Upon the Train.]



Captain W.F. Drannan, Chief of Scouts

With the exception of Carson, we were all scared

As soon as they were gone, I took the Scalp off the dead Chief's head

The first thing we knew the whole number that we had first seen were
upon us

Waving my hat, I dashed into the midst of the band

Fishing with the girls

They raced around us in a circle

The mother bear ran up to the dead cub and pawed it with her feet

The next morning we struck the trail for Bent's Fort

I took the lead

I bent over him and spoke to him, but he did not answer

[Illustration: With the exception of Carson, we were all scared.]


At the age of fifteen I found myself in St. Louis, Mo., probably five
hundred miles from my childhood home, with one dollar and a half in
money in my pocket. I did not know one person in that whole city, and no
one knew me. After I had wandered about the city a few days, trying to
find something to do to get a living, I chanced to meet what proved to
be the very best that could have happened to me. I met Kit Carson, the
world's most famous frontiersman, the man to whom not half the credit
has been given that was his due.

The time I met him, Kit Carson was preparing to go west on a trading
expedition with the Indians. When I say "going west" I mean far beyond
civilization. He proposed that I join him, and I, in my eagerness for
adventures in the wild, consented readily.

When we left St. Louis, we traveled in a straight western direction, or
as near west as possible. Fifty-eight years ago Missouri was a sparsely
settled country, and we often traveled ten and sometimes fifteen miles
without seeing a house or a single person.

We left Springfield at the south of us and passed out of the State of
Missouri at Fort Scott, and by doing so we left civilization behind, for
from Fort Scott to the Pacific coast was but very little known, and was
inhabited entirely by hostile tribes of Indians.

A great portion of the country between Fort Scott and the Rocky
Mountains that we traveled over on that journey was a wild, barren
waste, and we never imagined it would be inhabited by anything but wild
Indians, Buffalo, and Coyotes.

We traveled up the Neosha river to its source, and I remember one
incident in particular. We were getting ready to camp for the night
when Carson saw a band of Indians coming directly towards us. They were
mounted on horses and were riding very slowly and had their horses
packed with Buffalo meat.

With the exception of Carson we were all scared, thinking the Indians
were coming to take our scalps. As they came nearer our camp Carson
said, "Boys, we are going to have a feast".

On the way out Carson had taught me to call him "Uncle Kit." So I said,
"Uncle Kit, are you going to kill an Indian and cook him for supper?"

He laughed and answered, "No, Willie, not quite as bad as that. Besides,
I don't think we are hungry enough to eat an Indian, if we had one
cooked by a French cook; but what will be better, to my taste at least,
the Indians are bringing us some Buffalo meat for our supper," and sure
enough they proved to be friendly.

They were a portion of the Caw tribe, which was friendly with the whites
at that time. They had been on a hunt, and had been successful in
getting all the game they wanted. When they rode up to our camp they
surrounded Carson every one of them, trying to shake his hand first. Not
being acquainted with the ways of the Indians, the rest of us did not
understand what this meant, and we got our guns with the intention of
protecting him from danger, but seeing what we were about to do, Carson
sang out to us, "Hold on, boys. These are our friends," and as soon, as
they were done shaking hands with him Carson said something to them in a
language I did not understand, and they came and offered their hands to
shake with us. The boys and myself with the rest stood and gazed at the
performance in amazement, not knowing what to do or say. These were the
first wild Indians we boys had ever seen. As soon as the hand shaking
was over, Carson asked me to give him my knife which I carried in my
belt. He had given the knife to me when we left St. Louis. I presume
Carson had a hundred just such knives as this one was in his pack, but
he could not take the time then to get one out. For my knife he traded a
yearling Buffalo, and there was meat enough to feed his whole crew three
or four days. That was the first Indian "Pow-wow" that I had ever seen
or heard of either.

The Indians ate supper with us, and after that they danced "the Peace
Dance" after smoking the Pipe of Peace with Uncle Kit. The smoking and
dancing lasted perhaps an hour, and then the Indians mounted their
horses and sped away to their own village.

I was with Carson off and on about twelve years, but I never saw him
appear to enjoy himself better than he did that night. After the Indians
had gone, Uncle Kit imitated each one of us as he said we looked when
the Indians first appeared in sight. He had some in the act of running
and others trying to hide behind the horse, and he said that if the
ground had been loose we would have tried to dig a hole to crawl into.
One of the party he described as sitting on his pack with his mouth wide
open, and he said he could not decide whether the man wanted to swallow
an Indian or a Buffalo.

The next morning we pulled out from there, crossing the divide between
this stream and the Arkansas. Just before we struck the Arkansas river,
we struck the Santa-Fe trail. This trail led from St-Joe on the Missouri
river to Santa-Fe, New Mexico, by the way of Bent's Fort, as it was
called then. Bent's Fort was only a Trading Station, owned by Bent and
Robedoux. These two men at that time handled all the furs that were
trapped from the head of the North Platte to the head of the Arkansas;
the Santa-Fe trail, as it was then called, was the only route leading to
that part of the country.

After traveling up the Arkansas river some distance, above what is known
as Big Bend, we struck the Buffalo Country, and I presume it was a week
that we were never out of the sight of Buffalos. I remember we camped on
the bank of the river just above Pawne Rock that night; the next morning
we were up early and had our breakfast, as we calculated to make a big
drive that day. Carson had been telling us how many days it would take
us to make Bent's Fort, and we wanted to get there before the Fourth of
July. Just as we had got our animals packed and every thing in readiness
to start, a herd of Buffalo commenced crossing the river about a half a
mile above our camp. The reader will understand that the Buffalo always
cross the river where it is shallow, their instinct teaching them that
where the water is shallow, there is a rock bottom, and in crossing
these places they avoid quicksand. This was the only crossing in fifteen
miles up or down the river. We did not get to move for twenty-four
hours. It seems unreasonable to tell the number of Buffalo that crossed
the river in those twenty-four hours. After crossing the river a half a
mile at the north of the ford, they struck the foot hill; and one could
see nothing but a moving, black mass, as far as the eye could see.

I do not remember how long we were going from there to Bent's Fort, but
we got there on the second of July, 1847, and every white man that was
within three hundred miles was there, which were just sixteen. At this
present time, I presume there are two or three hundred thousand within
the same distance from Bent's Fort, and that is only fifty-eight years
ago! In view of the great change that has taken place in the last half
century, what will the next half century bring? The reader must remember
that the increase must be three to one to what it was at that time.

After staying at Bent's Fort eight days we pulled out for "Taos,"
Carson's home. He remained at Taos, which is in New Mexico, until early
in the fall, about the first of October, which is early autumn in New
Mexico; then we started for our trapping ground, which was on the head
of the Arkansas river, where Beaver was as numerous as rats are around a

We were very successful that winter in trapping. It was all new to me, I
had never seen a Beaver, or a Beaver trap. Deer, Elk, and Bison, which
is a species of Buffalo, was as plentiful in that country at that time
as cattle is now on the ranch. I really believe that I have seen more
deer in one day than there is in the whole State of Colorado at the
present time.

In the autumn, just before the snow commences to fall, the deer leave
the high mountains, and seek the valleys, and also the Elk and Bison; no
game stays in the high mountains but the Mountain Sheep, and he is very
peculiar in his habits. He invariably follows the bluffs of streams.
In winter and summer, his food is mostly moss, which he picks from the
rocks; he eats but very little grass. But there is no better meat than
the mountain sheep. In the fall, the spring lambs will weigh from
seventy-five to a hundred pounds, and are very fat and as tender as
a chicken; but this species of game is almost extinct in the United
States; I have not killed one in ten years.

We stayed in our camp at the head of the Arkansas river until sometime
in April, then we pulled out for Bent's Fort to dispose of our pelts. We
staid at the Fort three days. The day we left the Fort, we met a runner
from Col. Freemont with a letter for Carson. Freemont wanted Carson to
bring a certain amount of supplies to his camp and then to act as a
guide across the mountains to Monterey, California. The particulars of
the contract between Freemont and Carson I never knew, but I know this
much, that when we got to Freemont's camp, we found the hardest looking
set of men that I ever saw. They had been shut up in camp all winter,
and the majority of them had the scurvy, which was brought on by want
of exercise and no vegetable food. The most of the supplies we took him
were potatoes and onions, and as soon as we arrived in camp the men did
not wait to unpack the animals, but would walk up to an animal and tear
a hole in a sack and eat the stuff raw the same as if it was apples.

In a few days the men commenced to improve in looks and health. Uncle
Kit had them to exercise some every day, and in a short time we were on
the road for the Pacific Coast. We had no trouble until we crossed
the Main Divide of the Rocky Mountains. It was on a stream called the
"Blue," one of the tributaries of the Colorado river.

We were now in the Ute Indian country, and at this time they were
considered one of the most hostile tribes in the west. Of course there
was no one in the company that knew what the Ute Indians were but Kit
Carson. When we stopped at noon that day Carson told us as we sat eating
our luncheon that we were now in the Ute country, and every one of us
must keep a look out for himself. He said, "Now, boys, don't any one of
you get a hundred yards away from the rest of the company, for the Utes
are like flees liable to jump on you at any time or place."

That afternoon we ran on a great deal of Indian sign, from the fact that
game was plentiful all over the country, and at this time of the year
the Indians were on their spring hunt. When we camped for the night, we
camped on a small stream where there was but very little timber and no
underbrush at all. As soon as the company was settled for the night,
Carson and I mounted our horses and took a circle of perhaps a mile or
two around the camp. This was to ascertain whether there were any Indians
in camp near us. We saw no Indians. We returned to camp thinking we would
have no trouble that night, but about sundown, while we were eating
supper, all at once their war whoop burst upon us, and fifteen or more
Utes came dashing down the hill on their horses. Every man sprang for
his gun, in order to give them as warm a reception as possible; nearly
every man tried to reach his horse before the Indians got to us, for at
that time a man without a horse would have been in a bad fix, for there
were no extra horses in the company.

I think this must have been the first time these Utes had ever heard a
gun fired, from the fact that as soon as we commenced firing at them,
and that was before they could reach us with their arrows, they turned
and left as fast as they had come. Consequently we lost no men or
horses. We killed five Indians and captured three horses.

When the Indians were out of sight, Carson laughed and said, "Boys, that
was the easiest won battle I have ever had with the Indians, and it was
not our good marksmanship that done it either, for if every shot we
fired had taken effect, there would not have been half Indians enough to
go around. It was the report of our guns that scared them away."

It was figured up that night how many shots were fired, and they
amounted to two hundred. Carson said, "Boys, if we get into another
fight with the Indians, for God's sake don't throw away your powder and
lead in that shape again, for before you reach Monterey, powder and lead
will be worth something, as the Red skins are as thick as grass-hoppers
in August."

Of course this was the first skirmish these men had ever had with the
Indians, and they were too excited to know what they were doing.

About six years ago I met a man whose name was Labor. He was the last
survivor of that company, with the exception of myself, and he told me
how he felt when the yelling Red skins burst upon us. Said he, "I don't
think I could have hit an Indian if he had been as big as the side of a
horse, for I was shaking worse than I would if I had had the third-day
Ague. Not only shaking, but I was cold all over, and I dreamed all night
of seeing all kinds of Indians."

The next day we were traveling on the back bone of a little ridge. There
was no timber except a few scattering Juniper trees. We were now in
Arizona, and water was very scarce. The reader will understand that
Carson invariably rode from fifty to one hundred yards ahead of the
command, and I always rode at his side.

I presume it was between two and three o'clock in the afternoon when
Col. Freemont called out to Carson, "How far are you going tonight?"

Carson studied a minute and answered, "I think, in seven or eight miles
we will find good water and a plenty of grass."

A few minutes after this Freemont said, "Say, Carson, why not go to that
lake there and camp? There is plenty of grass and water," at the same
time pointing to the south. Carson raised his head and looked at the
point indicated. Then he said, "Col. there is no water or grass there."
Freemont replied, "Damn it, look. Can't you see it?" at the same time
pointing in the direction of what he supposed to be the lake. Carson
checked his horse until Freemont came up near him and then said, "Col.,
spot this place by these little Juniper trees, and we will come back
here tomorrow morning, and if you can see a lake there then I will admit
that I don't know anything about this country."

Freemont was out of humor all the evening. He had nothing to say to any

The next morning after breakfast was over and the herder had driven in
the horses Carson said, "Now Colonel, let's go and see that lake."

Under the circumstances Freemont could not say "no." I think five of us
besides Carson and Freemont went back. When we came to the place where
the little Juniper trees were, Freemont's face showed that he was badly
whipped, for sure enough there was no lake there; he had seen what is
called a mirage.

I have seen almost everything in mirage form, but what causes
this Atmospheric optical illusion has never been explained to my
satisfaction. Some men say it is imagination, but I do not think it is

On our way back to camp a man by name of Cummings was riding by my side.
He made the remark in an undertone, "I am sorry this thing happened."
I asked him, "Why?" In reply he said, "Colonel Freemont won't get over
this in many a day, for Carson has shown him that he can be mistaken."

We laid over at this camp until the next day as this was good water and
exceptionally good grass. Nothing interfered with us until we struck the
Colorado river. Here we met quite a band of Umer Indians. Without any
exception they were the worst-looking human beings that I have ever seen
in my life. A large majority of them were as naked as they were when
they were born. Their hair in many instances looked as if it never had
been straightened out. They lived mostly on pine nuts. The nuts grow on
a low, scrubby tree, a species of Pine, and in gathering the nuts they
covered their hands with gum which is as sticky as tar and rubbed it on
their bodies and in their hair. The reader may imagine the effect; I am
satisfied that many of these Indians had never seen a white man before
they saw us. Very few of them had bows and arrows; they caught fish. How
they caught them I never knew, but I often saw the squaws carrying fish.

When we reached the Colorado river we stayed two days making rafts to
cross the river on. The last day we were there, laying on the bank of
the river, I presume there came five hundred of these Indians within
fifty yards of our camp. Most of them laid down under the trees. One of
our men shot a bird that was in a tree close by, and I never heard such
shouting or saw such running as these Indians did when the gun cracked.
This convinced me that we were the first white men they had ever seen,
and this the first time they had heard the report of a gun. This
incident occurred in forty-eight, which was fifty-eight years ago. I
have seen more or less of these Indians from that time until now, and
these Indians as a tribe have made less progress than any other Indians
in the west. Even after the railroad was put through that part of the
country, they had to be forced to cover themselves with clothes.

After crossing the Colorado river we came into the Ute country, but we
traveled several days without seeing any of this tribe. About five
days after we crossed the Colorado river, we came on to a big band of
Sighewash Indians. The tribe was just coming together, after a winter's
trapping and hunting. At this time the Sigh washes were a powerful
tribe, but not hostile to the whites.

We camped near their village that night. After supper Carson and I went
over to this village, at the same time taking a lot of butcher knives
and cheap jewelry with us that he had brought along to trade with the
Indians. When we got into their camp, Carson inquired where the chief's
wigwam, was. The Indians could all speak Spanish; therefore we had no
trouble in finding the chief. When we went into the chief's wigwam,
after shaking hands with the old chief and his squaw, Carson pulled some
of the jewelry out of his pocket and told the chief that he wanted to
trade for furs. The old chief stepped to the entrance of the wigwam
and made a peculiar noise between a whistle and a hollo, and in a few
minutes there were hundreds of Indians there, both bucks and squaws.

The old chief made a little talk to them that I did not understand; he
then turned to Carson and said, "Indian heap like white man."

Carson then spoke out loud so they could all hear him, at the same time
holding up some jewelry in one hand and a butcher knife in the other,
telling them that he wanted to trade these things for their furs.

The Indians answered, it seemed to me by the hundreds, saying, "Iyah
oyah iyah," which means "All right." Carson then told them to bring
their furs over to his camp the next morning, and he would then trade
with them. He was speaking in Spanish all this time. On our way back to
our camp Carson said to me, "Now Willie, if I trade for those furs in
the morning I want you and the other two boys to take the furs and go
back to Taos; I know that you will have a long and lonesome trip, but I
will try and get three or four of these Indians to go with you back to
the head of the Blue, and be very careful, and when you make a camp
always put out all of your fire as soon as you get your meal cooked.
Then the Indians can not see your camp."

The next morning we were up and had an early breakfast. By that time the
squaws had commenced coming in with their furs. Uncle Kit took a pack of
jewelry and knives and got off to one side where the Indians could get
all around him. In a very short time I think there must have been a
hundred squaws there with their furs.

They brought from one to a dozen Beaver skins each, and then the Bucks
began coming in and then the trading began. Carson would hold up a
finger ring or a knife and call out in Spanish, "I'll give this for so
many Beaver skins!"

It really was amusing to see the Indians run over each other to see who
should get the ring or knife first.

This trading did not last over half an hour because Carson's stock of
goods was exhausted. Carson then said to the Indians, "No more trade no
more knives, no more rings, all gone."

Of course a great many of the Indians were disappointed, but they soon
left us. As soon as they were gone Freemont came to Carson and said,
"What in the name of common sense are you going to do with all those

Uncle Kit said, "Col., I'm going to send them to Taos, and later on they
will go to Bent's Fort." The Col. said, "Yes, but by whom will you send
them to Taos?" Carson replied, "By Willie, John and the Mexican boy."

The Col. said, "Don't you think you are taking a great many chances?"
"Oh, no, not at all. Willie here is getting to be quite a mountaineer.
Besides, I am going to get some of these Indians to go with the boys
as far as the head of the Blue, and when they get there they are,
comparatively speaking, out of danger."

He then said, "Colonel, we will lay over here today, and that will give
me a chance to pack my furs and get the boys ready to start in the

We then went to work baling the hides; by noon we had them all baled.
After dinner Carson and I went over to the Indian camp. We went directly
to the Chief's wigwam. When the Indians saw us coming they all rushed
up to us. I presume they thought we had come to trade with them again.
Uncle Kit then told the Chief that he wanted eight Indian men to go with
us boys to the head of the Blue River. At the same time he sat down
and marked on the ground each stream and mountain that he wanted us
to travel over. He told them that he would give each one of them one
butcher knife and two rings, and said they must not camp with the Utes.

I think there were at least twenty Indians that wanted to go. Carson
then turned to the Chief and told him in Spanish to pick out eight good
Indians to go with us, and told him just what time we wanted to start
in the morning. We then went back to our camp and commenced making
arrangements for our journey to Taos.

Carson and I were sitting down talking that afternoon when Col. Freemont
came and sat beside us and said to Uncle Kit, "Say, Kit, ain't you
taking desperate chances with these boys?"

This surprised me, for I had never heard him address Carson as Kit
before in all the time I had known him.

Carson laughed and answered, "Not in the least; for they have got a good
escort to go with them." Then he explained to Freemont that he had hired
some Indians to go with us through the entire hostile country, telling
him that the boys were just as safe with those Indians as they would be
with the command, and more safe, for the Indians would protect them,
thinking they would get his trade by so doing. Uncle Kit then explained
to him that the Sighewashes were known to all the tribes on the coast
and were on good terms with them all, and therefore there was no danger
whatever in sending the boys through the Indian country. The Col.
answered, "Of course, you know best; I admit that you know the nature
of the Indian thoroughly, but I must say that I shall be uneasy until I
hear from the boys again."

Uncle Kit said, "Wait until tomorrow morning, and I will convince you
that I am right."

The next morning we were up early and had breakfast, and before we had
our animals half packed the old chief and hundreds of the Indians were
there. Those that the chief had selected to accompany us were on horse
back, and the others had come to bid us farewell, and that was one of
the times I was tired shaking hands.

When we were about ready to mount our horses and had shaken hands with
Uncle Kit and the balance of the company, the Indians made a rush for
us. Both bucks and squaws shouted, "Ideose, ideose," which means, "good
bye, good bye," and every one trying to shake our hands at once, and of
all the noise I ever heard, this was the worst. After this racket had
been going on some fifteen or twenty minutes, I turned and saw Uncle Kit
and Col. Freemont standing on a big log laughing like they would split
their sides. Finally Uncle Kit motioned for me to mount my horse. I
mounted and the other boys followed suit, and when we started of all the
noise that ever was made this beat any I ever heard in all my life. At
the same time the Indians were waving their hands at us.

As soon as we left the crowd of Indians Uncle Kit and Col. Freemont
joined us. The Col. said to me, "Willie, this is one of the times you
have had your hand well shaken, I really felt sorry for you, but I
didn't see how I could assist you, and I am in hopes you will not get
such a shaking up in a good while. Now, my boy, be very careful, and try
and get through safe and sound, and when we come along back next fall,
we will all go to St. Louis together."

Uncle Kit told me to not let the Indians turn back until we crossed the
divide at the head of Blue river. He said, "Then you will be out of the
Ute country, and all danger to you will be over, but do not put too much
confidence in these Indians although I think they are reliable and will
do just as I have told them to do. But I want you to be on the lookout
all the time yourself. I know there will be no danger in the daytime,
and when night comes be sure and put your fire out before it gets dark,
and when you get to Taos rest up a few days, and then hunt up Jim
Bridger or Jim Beckwith, and they will advise you what to do. It may
be that I will get home myself, in which case you will not need their

We now bid them "good bye" and started on what would be called now a
long, tedious and dangerous journey, but at that time we thought nothing
of it.

How long a time it took us to make this trip I do not remember. The
Indians traveled in the lead the most of the time. When near the middle
of the afternoon, I would ask them in Spanish how far they were going
tonight, and they would tell me the number of hours it would take to go
but seemed not to understand the distance by miles. The Indians showed
more judgment in selecting the camping ground than I expected they

In a few days we were in the Ute country, and we saw plenty of Indian
sign every day. I think it was on one of the tributaries of the Green
river we were traveling along one afternoon, we came in sight of a band
of Ute Indians. They were in camp. We were in about a half a mile of
them when we first saw them; they were directly to the north of us,
and they discovered us at the same time we saw them. As soon as the
Sighewashes saw the Utes they stopped, and two of the Sighewashes rode
back to us and said in Spanish, "We go see Utes," and they rode over to
the Ute camp. Probably they were gone a half hour or more, when they
returned, and we surely watched every move the Utes made till the
Sighewashes came back to us. When they came back they were laughing and
said to us, "Utes heap good." Then I was satisfied that we were in no

We traveled on some five or six miles when we came to a nice little
stream of water where there was fine grass. I said to the boys, "We'll
camp here. Now you boys unpack the animals and take them out to grass,
and I will go and kill some meat for supper."

I picked up my gun and started; I didn't go over a quarter of a mile
till I saw four Bison cows, and they all had calves with them. I crawled
up in shooting distance and killed one of the calves. At the crack of my
gun the cows ran away. I commenced dressing the calf and here came four
of my Sighewash Indians running to me, and when they saw what I had
killed, I believe they were the happiest mortals that I ever saw.

As soon as I got the insides out I told them to pick up the calf and we
would go to camp. Some of them picked up the carcass and others picked
up the entrails. I told them we did not want the entrails. One of the
Indians spoke up and said, "Heap good, all same good meat". I finally
persuaded them to leave the insides alone.

When we got back to camp, the boys had a good fire, and it was not long
before we had plenty of meat around the fire, and I never saw Indians
eat as they did that night. After they had been eating about an hour,
Jonnie West said to me, "Will, you will have to go and kill more meat,
or we won't have any for breakfast."

We soon turned in for the night and left the Indians still cooking. In
the morning we were surprised to see the amount of meat they had got
away with. What they ate that night would have been plenty for the same
number of white men three or four days. The nature of the Indian is to
eat when he has the chance and when he hasn't he goes without and never

For the next three days we traveled through a country well supplied
with game, especially Elk, Deer, and black bear. It was now late in the
summer and all game was in a fine condition, it was no unusual thing to
see from twenty five to a hundred Elk in a band. I have never seen since
that time so many Elk with so large horns as I saw on that trip, which
convinced me that there had been no white hunters through that part of
the country before.

In traveling along there were times we were not out of sight of deer for
hours; consequently we never killed our game for supper until we went
into camp, and as a rule, the boys always picked me to get the meat
while they took care of the horses. I remember one evening I was just
getting ready to start out on my hunt. I asked the boys what kind of
meat they wanted for supper. Jonnie West said, "Give us something new."
Well, I answered, "How will a cub bear do?" They all answered, "That is
just what we want." That moment I turned my eyes to the south, and on
a ridge not more than three hundred yards from camp, I saw three bears
eating sarvis berries. I was not long in getting into gun shot of them.
There was the old mother bear and two cubs. I had to wait several
minutes before I could get a good sight on the one I wanted, as they
were in the brush and I wanted a sure shot. I fired and broke his neck;
he had hardly done kicking before Jonnie West and some of the Indians
were there. We made quick work getting the meat to camp and around the
fire cooking, and it was as fine a piece of meat as I ever ate.

The next morning we bid the Indians good bye, but before they left us
one of them stooped down and with a finger marked out the route we
should take, thinking we did not know the country we must pass over, and
strange to say, the route this wild Indian marked out in the sand was
accurate in every particular. He made dots for the places where we
should camp and a little mark for a stream of water, then little piles
of sand for mountains, some large and some small, according to the size
of the mountain we were to cross. After he had finished his work, I
examined the diagram and I found he had marked out every place where we
should camp.

From there to the head of the Arkansas river, I called Jonnie West and
asked him to look at it. He examined it at every point and said, "This
beats any thing I ever saw or heard tell of; with this to guide us, we
could not get lost if we tried to."

We were now ready to start. Jonnie said to me, "Well, I feel we owe this
Indian something. How many butcher knives have you?"

I said, "I have two." "Alright, I will give him this finger ring and you
give him one of your knives."

We did so, and I think he was the proudest Indian I ever saw; he jumped
up and shouted, "Hy-you-scu-scum, white man," which meant "Good white

The Indians all shook hands with us and then mounted their horses and
were gone. We now pulled out on our long and dangerous trip to Taos, New
Mexico, and strange to say, we never missed a camping ground that the
Indians had marked out for us, until we reached the head of the Arkansas
river, and the beauty of it was, we had good grass and good water at
every camping place, which was very essential for ourselves and our

When we struck the head of the Arkansas river we considered ourselves
out of danger of all hostile Indians. Besides, we knew every foot of the
ground we had to travel over from here to Taos, New Mexico. We camped
one night on the river, down below where Leadville stands now, and I
never saw so many huckleberries at one place as I saw there. After we
had our horses unpacked and staked out to grass, I said to the boys,
"Now you go and pick berries, and I will try and find some meat for
supper." I did not go far when looking up on a high bluff I saw a band
of mountain sheep. I noticed they had not seen me yet and were coming
directly towards me. When they got in gun-shot, I fired and killed a
half-grown sheep, and he did not stop kicking until he was nearly at my
feet. This was the first mountain sheep I had ever killed, and it was as
fine a piece of meat as I ever ate, and until this day, mountain sheep
is my favorite wild meat. This was one of the nights to be remembered,
fine fresh meat, and ripe huckleberries, what luxuries, for the wilds to

In a few days we reached Taos, and here I met my old friend Jim Bridger.
After laying around a few days and resting up, Jonnie West said to me,
"Will, what are we going to do this winter? You are like me, you can't
lay around without going wild."

I said, "That's so, Jonnie. Let's go and hunt up Jim Bridger, and ask
him what he is going to do this winter."

We went to the house where Jim was boarding and we found him in one of
his talkative moods. We asked him what he proposed doing this winter; he
said, "I am going out a trapping, and I want you boys to go with me."

I asked him where he was going to trap, and he said he thought he would
trap on the head of the Cache-la-Poudre, and the quicker we went the
better it would be for us. "I have all the traps we will need this
winter," he said; "now you boys go to work and mould a lot of bullets."

The reader will understand that in those days we used the muzzle-loading
gun, and we had to mould all of our bullets. In a few days we were ready
to pull out. I asked Jim if we could keep our horses with us through
the winter. He said, "Yes, as the snow does not get very deep in that
country, and there is plenty of Cotton Wood and Quaker Asp for them to
browse on in case the snow gets deep. Besides, it will save one of us a
long tramp in the spring, for we will have to have the horses in order
to pack our furs on."

In a few days we were ready to pull for trapping ground. Each one of us
took a saddle horse and two pack horses. We were on the road nine days
from the day we left Taos until we reached our trapping ground.

We traveled down Cherry Creek from its source to its mouth, and across
the Platte, where Denver City, Colorado, now stands. At that time there
was not a sign of civilization in all that country.

After crossing the Platte a little below where Denver now stands, we met
about five hundred Kiawah Indians, led by their old chief. The Kiawas
were friendly to us, and the chief was a particular friend of Jim. He
wanted to trade for some of our beaver traps. He kept bidding until he
offered two horses for one trap. Jim refused to trade, but he made the
chief a present of a trap. After Jim refused to take the horses, a young
squaw came running out and offered to give me as fine a buffalo robe as
I ever saw; I was in the act of taking it and was congratulating myself
on what a fine bed I would have that winter when Jim said, "Will, don't
take that. There is more stock on that robe than we can feed this
winter. Open the hair and look for yourself."

I did so, and I saw the Grey Backs all through the hair as thick as they
could crawl. I had never seen such a sight before, and the reader can
imagine my horror. I dropped it so quick that Jonnie West laughed and
asked me if it burnt me. The boys had the joke on me the balance of the
winter. Most every day they would ask me if I didn't want a present of a
Buffalo robe from a young squaw.

A few days after this, we were on our trapping ground, and our winter's
work of toil, hardship, and pleasure had begun. We soon had our cabin
built in a little valley, which was from a half mile to a mile wide and
about eight miles long. On each side of the valley were high cliffs. In
places there was a half a mile or more where neither man or beast could
climb these cliffs, and we were surprised later on to see the quantity
of game of various kinds that came into this valley to winter, such as
Elk, Deer, and Antelope. I never, before or since, have seen so many
Wild Cats, or Bob Cats, as they were called at that time, and also some

I remember one little circumstance that occurred later on; it was about
the middle of the afternoon; we had all been to our traps and had
returned to the cabin with our furs. Jim said, "Will, we will stretch
your furs if you will go and shoot a deer for supper."

This suited me, so I took my gun and went outside the door to clean it.
Just as I had got through, Jonnie West looked out and said, "Look, Will,
there is your deer now; you won't have to hunt him."

I looked, and sure enough, there he was, in about a hundred yards of the
cabin. Jim Bridger fired at him and knocked him down, but he got up and
ran into a little bunch of brush. I ran to the spot, thinking he was
only wounded and that I should have to shoot him again. When I reached
the brush, to my surprise, I found five big wildcats, and they all
came for me at once. I fired at the leader, and then I did some lively
running myself. As soon as I got out of the brush, I called the boys,
and we got the cats, the whole of the bunch, and the deer besides, which
had not been touched by the cats.

We skinned the cats, and Jim afterwards made a cap out of one of them,
and he wore it for several years.

Jonnie West and I were out hunting one day for deer when we discovered
two cougars in the grass, and we could not make out what it meant.
Finally one made a spring, and it seemed to us that he jumped at least
twenty feet, and he landed on a deer, and for a minute or two there was
a tussle. While this was going on Jonnie and I were getting closer to
them, and when they had the deer killed we were within gunshot of them,
and they didn't eat much before we killed them both. We skinned the
deer, and also the cougars, and took them to camp, and when we went to
Bent's Fort the next spring we got twenty dollars apiece for them, for
they were extra large cougars, or mountain lions as they are sometimes
called, and their hides are very valuable.

It seems wonderful to me when I think of the amount of game I saw
through the country at that time, of all descriptions, some of which in
their wild state are now extinct, especially the buffalo and the bison,
and all other game that was so plentiful at that time is very scarce all
over the west. I believe a man could have seen a thousand antelope
any day in the year within five miles of where the city of Denver now

We had splendid success this winter in trapping beaver. It was late in
the spring when we left our trapping ground. Just before we pulled out
Jim Bridger said, "Boys, I saw a pretty sight this evening out at the
point of rocks," which was about a quarter of a mile from our cabin.
Jonnie West said, "What did you see, Jim?"

"I saw an old Cinnamon bear and two cubs." Jonnie said, "Why didn't you
kill her?"

"I didn't have anything to kill with," Jim replied. "I left my gun in
the cabin, but we will all go out in the morning and see if we can find

We were all up early in the morning and ready for the bear hunt. Jim
told us what route each should take. He said, "Now boys, be careful, for
she is an old whale, and if you get in to a fight with her some one will
get hurt, or there will be some running done."

I had not gone far when I looked up on a ridge ahead of me and saw what
I took to be Mrs. Bruin; I crawled up within gun shot and fired and
broke the bear's neck. I rushed up to her expecting to see the cubs.
Imagine my surprise when I found only a small bear. In a few moments the
boys were there; Jonnie laughed and asked Jim if that bear was the whale
he set out to kill. Jim stood and looked at the bear quite a bit before
answering. Then he said, "That is a Cinnamon Bear, but where are the
cubs?" Jonnie said, "I will bet my hat you didn't see any cubs, Jim, you
dreamed it." Jim grinned and answered, "Well, boys I guess you have the
drop on me this time."

From then on, all the spring Jim's cubs was a standing joke. In a few
days, we pulled out for Bent's Fort; we were late in getting to the Fort
with our furs this spring. Mr. Bent asked us why we were so late in
getting in. Jonnie replied that Jim kept us hunting for Cub bears all
the spring, and as we couldn't find any, it took all our time. Of course
they all wanted to know the joke, and when Jonnie told it in his droll
way, it made a laugh on Jim. "If you will only quit talking about the
cubs," Jim said, "I'll treat all around," which cost him about ten

After laying around the Fort a few days, Col. Bent and Mr. Roubidoux
hired Jonnie and me to kill meat to supply the table at the boarding
house for the summer, that being the only time of the year that the
boarding house at the Fort did any business. At this time of the year
all of the trappers and hunters were staying at the fort with nothing to
do but eat, drink and spend their money that they had earned the winter
before. It was no uncommon thing for some of these men to bring from
three to four hundred dollars worth of furs to Bent's Fort in the
spring, and when fall came and it was time to go back to the trapping
ground, they wouldn't have a dollar left, and some of them had to go in
debt for their winter outfit.

Jonnie and I had no trouble in keeping plenty of meat on hand, from the
fact that buffalo and antelope were very plentiful eight or ten miles
from the fort. I remember one little circumstance that occurred this
summer. We were out hunting, not far from the Arkansas river, near
the city now known as Rocky Ford, Colo. We had camped there the night
before. We went out early in the morning to kill some antelope, leaving
our horses staked where we had camped. We hadn't gone more than half a
mile when we heard a Lofa wolf howl just ahead of us. The Lofa wolf was
a very large and ferocious animal and was a terror to the buffalo. When
we reached the top of a ridge just ahead of us, looking down into a
little valley two or three hundred yards away, we saw five Buffalo cows
with their calves, and one large bull, and they were entirely surrounded
by Lofa wolves. Jonnie said, "Now, Will, we will see some fun." The cows
were trying to defend their calves from the wolves, and the bull started
off with his head lowered to the ground, trying to drive the wolves away
with his horns. This he continued to do until he had driven the wolves
thirty yards away. All at once a wolf made a bark and a howl which
seemed to be a signal for a general attack, for in a moment, the wolves
were attacking the Buffalo on every side, and I don't think it was five
minutes before they had the bull dead and stretched out. Until then I
had never thought that wolves would attack a well Buffalo, but this
sight convinced me that they could and would kill any buffalo they chose
to attack.

We went back to camp, packed up our meat, and pulled out for the fort.
When we got there I told Jim Bridger about the fight the wolves had with
the buffalos, and he said, "If you had seen as much of that as I have,
you would know that wolves signal to each other and understand each
other the same as men do."


It was early in the spring of fifty when Kit Carson, Jim Bridger, and
myself met at Bent's Fort, which was on the head waters, of the Arkansas
river. Bridger and I had just got in from our winter's trapping ground
and had disposed of our furs to a very good advantage; Carson had just
returned from a trip back east. Carson said to Bridger, "Now Jim, I'll
tell you what I want you to do. I want you and Will (meaning me) to
go over to Fort Kerney and escort emigrants across to California this
season, for the gold excitement back in the eastern states is something
wonderful, and there will be thousands of emigrants going to the gold
fields of California, and they do not know the danger they will have to
contend with, and you two men can save thousands of lives this summer by
going to Fort Kerney and meeting the emigrants there and escorting them
through. Now boys, you must understand that this undertaking is no
child's play. In doing this apparently many times you will seem
to take your lives in your own hands, for the Indians will be worse on
the plains this year than they ever have been. At the present time there
is no protection for the emigrant from the time they get twenty-five
miles west of Fort Kerney, until they cross the Sierra Nevada mountains,
and there are to be so many renegades from justice from Illinois and
Missouri that it is going to be fearful this season, for the renegade
is really worse in some respects than the Indian. He invariably has two
objects in view. He gets the Indian to commit the murder which is a
satisfaction to him without any personal risk besides the plunder he
gets. I know, boys, you can get good wages out of this thing, and I want
you to take hold of it, and you, Jim, I know have no better friend than
Gen. Kerney, and he will assist you boys in every way he can. I almost
feel as though I ought to go myself, but I cannot leave my family at
the present time; now, Jim, will you go?" Bridger jumped up, rubbed his
hands together and said, "I'll be dog goned if I won't, if Will goes
with me."

[Illustration: As soon as they were gone I took the scalp off the dead
Chief's head.]

To which I replied, "I will go with you, and I think the quicker we
start the better it will be for all parties concerned." Carson said,
"You can't start too soon, for the emigrants will be arriving at Fort
Kerney by the time you get there."

The next morning Jim and I were up and had an early breakfast and were
ready to start. Uncle Kit said to us, "Now boys, when you come back this
fall I want you to come and see me and tell me what kind of luck you
have had, and all the news."

We now bid him good bye, and we were off.

I will here inform the reader that Carson had taught me to call him
Uncle Kit when I was fourteen years old, and I always addressed him in
that way. Jim and I were off for Fort Kerney, which was a journey of
about three hundred miles and not a sign of civilization on the whole
trip. It was a wild Indian country the entire distance, but we
knew where the hostile Indians were and also the friendly Indians.
Consequently we reached Fort Kerney without having any trouble.

We met Gen. Kerney, who was glad to see us. He said, "Boys, where in the
name of common sense are you going to?"

We explained to him in a few words our business. After hearing our plans
the Gen. said, "I am certainly glad to know that someone will take hold
of this thing, for I am sure that there will be more emigrants massacred
this year than has ever been in any other. I will tell you why I think
so. All the Indians from here to the Sierra-Nevada mountains are in the
war-path; in the second place the emigrants who are coming from the
east have no idea what they have to contend with, and I dread the

While this conversation was taking place a soldier rode in that had been
on picket duty and said to the Gen., "I saw some covered wagons going
into camp down on Deer Creek about five miles from here. Where do you
suppose they are going, Gen?"

To which Gen. Kerney replied, "They are going to California, and you
will see hundreds of them inside the next two weeks."

Jim Bridger said, "Well, Willie, come on and let's see what we can do
with them."

As we were leaving the Fort Gen. Kerney said to us, "Boys, come back and
stay all night with me, I want you to make my quarters your home while
you are waiting for the emigrants to arrive."

Bridger answered, "Thank you, Gen. We will be glad to do so, and we may
want you to recommend us to the emigrants."

To which the Gen. answered, "I will take pleasure in doing so."

Bridger and I rode down to where the emigrants were in camp, and we
found the most excited people I ever saw in my life. They had passed
through one of the most terrible experiences that had ever occurred on
the frontier. There were thirty wagons in the train, and they were all
from the southeastern part of Missouri, and it seemed that there was one
man in the train by the name of Rebel who at the time they had left
home had sworn that he would kill the first Indian he came across. This
opportunity occurred this morning about five miles back of where we met
them. The train was moving along slowly when this man "Rebel" saw a
squaw sitting on a log with a papoose in her arms, nursing. He shot her
down; she was a Kiawah squaw, and it was right on the edge of their
village where he killed her in cold blood. The Kiawahs were a very
strong tribe, but up to this time they had never been hostile to the
whites; but this deed so enraged the warriors that they came out in a
body and surrounded the emigrants and demanded them to give up the man
who had shot the squaw. Of course, his comrades tried not to give him to
them, but the Indians told them if they did not give the man to them,
they would kill them all. So knowing that the whole train was at the
mercy of the Indians, they gave the man to them. The Indians dragged him
about a hundred yards and tied him to a tree, and then they skinned
him alive and then turned him loose. One of the men told us that the
butchered creature lived about an hour, suffering the most intense
agony. They had just buried him when we rode into the camp. The woman
and some of the men talked about the dreadful thing; one of the men said
it was a comfort to know that he had no family with him here or back
home to grieve at his dreadful death.

On hearing this remark Jim said, "You are the most lucky outfit I ever
saw. Any other tribe of Indians this side of the Rocky Mountains would
not have left one of you to have told the tale, and it is just such
darned fools as that man that stir up the Indians, to do so much

Until this time there had been but a few of the emigrants near us. We
were both dressed in buck-skin, and they did not know what to make of
us. The young girls and some of the young men were very shy. They had
never seen anyone dressed in buck-skin before. An elderly woman came
to us and said, "Ain't you two men what they call mountaineers?" Jim
answered, "Yes, marm, I reckon, we are."

She replied, "Well, if you are, my old man wants you to come and eat
supper with we'ns."

Jim turned to me and laughed. "Shall we go and eat with them, Willie?"
he asked. I answered, "Yes, let's get acquainted with everybody."

We went with the old lady to their tent, which was but a few steps from
where we stood. When she had presented us to her old man as she called
him, she said to him, "Jim, I know these men can tell you what to do."
He shook hands with us, saying, "I don't know what in the world we are
going to do. I believe the Indians will kill us all if we try to go any
further, and I know they will if we go back."

By this time there was quite a crowd around us.

I said to Jim, "Why don't you tell the people, what we can do for them?"
Jim then said, "why, dog gorn it, this boy and I can take you all
through to California and not be troubled with the Indians if there is
no more durned fools among you to be a-shooting squaws. But you will
have to do just as we tell you to do." And looking over the ground he
asked, "Who is your captain? I want to see him."

The old man said, "Want to see our Capt'n? We hain't got any capt'n, got
no use for one." Jim then asked, "Who puts out your guards around the
camp at night?"

"Guards? Didn't know we had to have any."

Jim looked the astonishment he felt as he said, "Why, dad-blame-it
man, you won't get a hundred miles from here before all of you will be

At that moment one of the men said, "Who is this coming?"

We all looked in the direction he was, and we saw it was Gen. Kerney.
When he rode up to us Bridger said, "Gen., what do you think? These
people have no captain and have no one to guard the camp at night."

The Gen. answered, "Is that possible? How in the name of god have they
got here without being massacred?" And then, addressing the men that
stood near he said, "Gentlemen, you had better make some arrangement
with my friends here to pilot you across to California; for I assure you
that if these men go with you and you follow their directions, you will
reach your journey's end in safety."

Just then the Gen. looked down the road, and he said, "Look there!"

We all looked, and we saw another long train of emigrants coming towards
us. They drove up near us and prepared to go into camp. This was a mixed
train. Some came from Illinois, some from Indiana, and a few families
from the state of Ohio.

Jim and I mounted our horses and rode with the Gen. down among the new
emigrants. They had heard all about the skinning of the white man and
were terribly excited about it. They asked the Gen. what was best for
them to do. A great many of them wanted to turn and go back. Finally
the Gen. said to them, "Here are two as good men as there are in the
mountains. They are thoroughly reliable and understand the Indians'
habits perfectly. Now, my friends, the best thing you can do is to
organize yourselves into company, select your captain and then make some
arrangement with these men to pilot you through, for I tell you now,
there will be more trouble on the plains this year than has ever been
known before with the Indians. Now gentlemen, we must leave you, but we
will come back in the morning and see what decision you have come to."

At this time two men stepped up to Jim Bridger and me and said, "Why
can't you two stay all night with us? We've got plenty to eat, and you
both can sleep in our tent."

Jim answered, "We don't want to sleep in any tent. We've got our
blankets, and we will sleep under that tree," pointing to a tree near

The Gen. said, "Mr. Bridger, you boys had better stay here tonight, for
you have lots of business to talk over."

Jim and I dismounted, staked our horses out and went to supper. After
supper Jim said, "Now, you want to get together and elect a captain."

One man said, "All right, I'll go and notify the entire camp, and we
will call a meeting at once." Which was done. As soon as the crowd
gathered, they called on Jim to tell them what to do. Jim mounted the
tongue of a wagon and said, "Now, men, the first thing to do is to elect
a Captain, and we must take the name of every able-bodied man in this
outfit, for you will have to put out camp guards and picket guards every
night. Now, pick out your men, and I'll put it to a vote."

Some called for Mr. Davis, and some for Mr. Thomas; both men came
forward. Jim said, "now, Mr. Davis, get up on this wagon tongue and I'll
make a mark, and we'll see if the crowd wants you for their Captain." Jim
took a stick and made a mark on the ground from the wagon tongue clear
out through the crowd. He then said, "All that want Mr. Davis for
Captain will step to the right of this line, and they that favor Mr.
Thomas will keep to the left of the line." About three fourths of the men
stepped to the right of the line, which made Davis Captain. As soon as
Davis was declared Captain, he said, "Now friends, we must hire these
men to escort us to California; if there is anybody here that is not in
favor of this let him say so now."

But everyone shouted, "Yes! yes!"

Davis turned to us and said, "What is your price for the trip?"

Jim said to me, "What do you say, Will?"

I replied, "It is worth four dollars a day each."

Jim told the Captain that we would go for four dollars a day to be paid
each of us every Saturday night, and if at the end of the first week we
had not given satisfaction, we would quit. Davis put it to a vote, and
it was carried in our favor.

The balance of the evening was spent in making arrangements to commence
drilling the men. In the morning Jim said to me, "Now, Will, I'll take
charge of the wagons and you take charge of the scouts."

I told the Captain that I wanted him to select seven good men that owned
their horses. I wanted to drill them to act as scouts. Jim said, "Yes,
we want to get to drilling every body tomorrow morning."

We put in four hard days' work at this business, and then we were ready
for the trail, and we pulled out on our long and tedious journey to the
land of gold.

There were four hundred and eighty-six men and ninety women in the
train, and they had one hundred and forty-eight wagons. Every thing
moved smoothly until we were near the head of the North Platte river.
We were now in the Sioux country, and I began to see a plenty of Indian
sign. Jim and I had arranged that a certain signal meant for him to
corral the wagons at once. As I was crossing the divide at the head
of Sweet Water, I discovered quite a band of Indians coming directly
towards the train, but I did not think they had seen it yet. I rode back
as fast as my horse could carry me. When I saw the train, I signaled
to Jim to corral, and I never saw such a number of wagons corralled so
quickly before or since, as they were. Jim told the women and children
to leave the wagon and go inside the corral, and he told the men to
stand outside with their guns, ready for action, but to hold their fire
until he gave the word, and he said, "When you shoot, shoot to kill; and
do your duty as brave men should."

In a moment, the Indians were in sight, coming over the hill at full
speed. When they saw the wagons, they gave the war whoop. This scared
the women, and they began to cry and scream and cling to their children.
Jim jumped up on a wagon tongue and shouted at the top of his voice "For
God's sake, women, keep still, or you will all be killed."

This had the effect that he desired, and there was not a word or sound
out of them. When the Indians were within a hundred yards from us, their
yelling was terrible to hear.

Jim now said, "Now boys, give it to them, and let the red devils have
something to yell about," and I never saw men stand up and fight better
than these emigrants. They were fighting for their mothers' and wives'
and children's lives, and they did it bravely. In a few minutes the
fight was over, and what was left of the Indians got away in short
order. We did not lose a man, and only one was slightly wounded. There
were sixty-three dead warriors left on the field, and we captured twenty

It was six miles from here to the nearest water, so we had to drive that
distance to find a place to camp. We reached the camping ground a little
before sunset. After attending to the teams and stationing the guards
for the night Cap't. Davis came to Jim and me and said, "The ladies want
to give you a reception tonight."

Jim said, "What for?" Davis replied, "Saving our lives from those
horrible savages." Jim answered, "Why, durn it all, ain't that what you
are paying us for? We just done our duty and no more, as we intend to do
all the way to California."

By this time there was a dozen women around us. With the others was a
middle-aged woman. She said, "Now, you men with the buck-skin clothes,
come and take supper with us. It is now all ready."

Jim said, "Come, Willie, let's go and eat, for I am hungry and tired

While we were eating supper, three or four young ladies came up to us
and asked me if I didn't want to dance.

"The boys are cleaning off the ground now, and I want you for my first
pardner," she said with a smile and a blush. Jim said, "Will can't dance
anything but the scalp dance." One of the girls said, "What kind of a
dance is that?"

Jim replied, "If the Indians had got some of your scalps this afternoon
you would have known something about it by this time."

Jim told them that when the Indians scalped a young girl, they took the
scalp to their wigwam and then gave a dance to show the young squaws
what a brave deed they had done, "and all you girls had better watch out
that they don't have some of your scalps to dance around before you get
to California; but if you wish us to, Will and I will dance the scalp
dance tonight, so you can see how it is done."

When they had the ground all fixed for the dance, Jim and I took our
handkerchiefs and put them on a couple of sticks, stuck the sticks into
the ground and went through the Indian scalp dance, making all the
hideous motions with jumps and screams, loud enough to start the hair
from its roots, after which Jim explained to them this strange custom,
telling them that if any of them was unfortunate enough to fall into the
Indians' hands this was the performance that would be had around their

The girls said with a shudder they had seen enough of that kind of
dancing without the Indians showing them. The lady who had invited us to
supper said, "Now girls, you see what these men have done for us, they
have saved our lives, and do you realize the obligation we are under to
them? Now let us do everything we can for their comfort until we reach

And I must say I never saw more kind-hearted people than these men and
women were to us all the way, on this long and dangerous journey.

We had no more trouble with the Indians until we had crossed Green
river. We were now in the Ute country. At this time the Utes were
considered to be one of the most hostile tribes in the West. That night
Jim asked me what route I thought best to take, by the way of Salt Lake
or Landers Cut Off. I said, "Jim, Landers Cut Off is the shortest and
safest route from the fact that the Indians are in the southern part of
the territory at this time of year, and I do not believe we shall have
much more trouble with them on this trip." Which proved to be true. We
saw no more Indians until we reached the Humbolt river. Just above the
Sink of Humbolt about the middle of the afternoon I saw quite a band of
Indians heading directly for the train. I signaled Jim to corral, which
he did at once.

In a few moments they were upon us. As we were out on an open prairie,
we had a good sight of the Indians before they reached us; I saw by the
leader's dress that it was a chief that was leading them. His head dress
was composed of eagles' feathers, and he rode some thirty or forty yards
ahead of the other warriors. When in gun shot of me I fired at him and
brought him down. When he fell from his horse the rest of the Indians
wheeled their horses and fled, but the chief was the only one that fell.
As soon as they were gone I took the scalp off the dead chief's head.
When we went into camp that evening, Jim told the emigrants what a great
thing I had done in shooting the chief. "There is no knowing how many
lives he saved by that one shot in the right time."

Then all the emigrants gathered around me to see the scalp of the
Indian; they had never seen such a sight before; each of the young
ladies wanted a quill from the Indian's head dress; and they asked me
what I would take for one of them; I told them the quills were not for

At this time the lady who had invited Jim and me to eat with her so many
times came up to us, and she said, "Girls, I can tell you how you can
get these quills." They all asked at once, "How is that, aunty?"

"Each one of you give him a kiss for a quill," she laughed, and of all
the blushing I ever saw the young girls that surrounded me beat the
record. Jim grinned and said, "I'll be dog goned if I don't buy the
scalp and the feathers and take all the kisses myself."

This made a general laugh. I told Jim that he was too selfish, and that
I would not share the kisses with him, that I would give the scalp
to him and the feathers to the elder lady, and she could divide the
feathers among the girls. The girls clapped their hands and shouted,
"Good! good!"

Jim said that was just his luck, he was always left out in the cold.

In a few days we were on the top of the Sierra Nevada mountains. We told
the emigrants that they were entirely out of danger and did not need our
services any longer, so we would not put them to any more expense by
going further with them. As this was Saturday evening the emigrants
proposed going into camp until Monday morning and that Jim and I should
stay and visit with them. We accepted the invitation, and Sunday was
passed in pleasant converse with these most agreeable people, and I will
say here that of all the emigrants I ever piloted across the plains none
ever exceeded these men and women in politeness and good nature, not
only to Jim and me, but to each other, for through all that long and
trying journey there was no unkindness shown by any of them, and if we
would have accepted all the provisions they offered us it would have
taken a pack train to have carried it through. Every lady in the train
tried to get up some little extra bite for us to eat on the way back.
The reader may imagine our surprise when Monday morning came and we saw
the amount of stuff they brought to us. Jim said, "Why ladies we haven't
any wagon to haul this stuff, and we have only one pack horse and he can
just pack our blankets and a little more. Besides, we won't have time to
eat these goodies on the road. Supposing the Indians get after us? We
would have to drop them and the red skins would get it all."

We now packed up and were ready to put out. We mounted our horses, bid
them "good bye" and were off.

Nothing of interest occurred until we got near Green river. Here we met
Jim Beckwith and Bob Simson. Jim Bridger and I had just gone into camp
when they rode up. After they had shaken hands with us Jim Beckwith
said, "Boys, you are just the parties we are looking for."

Bridger asked Beckwith what he had been doing and where he had been
since we parted at Bent's Fort last spring. Beckwith replied that he
had been with a train of emigrants just now who were on the way to
California, and they had camped over on Black's Fort. The cholera had
broken out among them soon after they crossed the Platte River, and from
then up to yesterday they had buried more or less every day. There had
been no new cases since yesterday, and they were laying over to let
the people rest and get their strength, and they expected to start out
tomorrow morning, and turning to me Beckwith said, "Will, I want you to
go with us for there is another train of emigrants over on the Salt Lake

At this time there were two routes between the Green river and the
Humboldt; one by the way of Salt Lake and the other by Lander's Cut off.
Beckwith said, "Those emigrants going by the Salt Lake route have no
guide, and I am afraid when they strike the Humboldt they will all be
massacred, for they will be right in the heart of the Pi-Ute country,
and you know this tribe is on the war path, and I want you to go on and
overtake them and see them safely through, or else stay with this train
and I will go myself and take care of them. We want the two trains to
meet at the mouth of Lone Canyon, and then we will go up Long Canyon to
Honey lake and then cross the Sierra Nevada."

I turned to Jim Bridger and said, "Jim, what do you think of this

Jim said he thought it a good thing for me to do; the responsibility
would give me more confidence in myself. "You know, Will, you have
always depended on Carson or me at all times, and this trip will teach
you to depend on yourself."

I saddled my horse and went with Beckwith back to the emigrants' camp.
It was arranged that I was to take charge of the scouts and Simson to
take charge of the other train, and Beckwith would go on and overtake
the other train, and the train that reached the mouth of Long Canyon
where it empties into Truckey river first must wait for the other train.

At this point the two trails divided, one going up the Truckey by the
Donna lake route and the other up Long Canyon by Honey lake, the latter
being considered the best route.

The next morning we pulled out. I had good luck all the way through,
having no trouble with the Indians, arriving at Long Canyon three days
ahead of Jim Beckwith.

In my train there was an old man with his wife and a son and daughter;
they seemed to be very peculiar dispositioned people, always wanting to
camp by themselves and having nothing to say to any one. When we reached
Long Canyon, Simson told the emigrants that we would wait until the
other train arrived, which news greatly pleased the most of them, but
the old man and his family seemed to be all upset at the idea of laying
over, and the next morning they harnessed up their horses. While they
were doing this, Simson called my attention to them and said, "Let's go
and see what they mean."

I asked the man what he was going to do with his team. He replied that
he was going to hook them to the wagon and was going to California. I
said, "You certainly are not going to start on such a journey alone,
are you? You are liable to be all killed by the Indians before you get
twenty miles from here."

The old man shrugged his shoulders and said, "Why, gol darn it, we
hain't seen an Injin in the last three hundred miles, and I don't
believe there is one this side of them mountains," and he pointed
towards the Sierra Nevada mountains. "And if we did meet any they
wouldn't bother us for we hain't got much grub, and our horses is too
poor for them to want."

I told him, he must not go alone, the road was too dangerous, and
besides the other train might come at any moment, and then we could all
pull out in safety. He said, "I own that wagon and them horses, and I
own pretty much every thing in that wagon and I think I will do just as
I please with them." I insisted on his waiting until the other train
came up, he said, he would not wait any longer, that he was going to go
right now. I left him and walked back to the camp; I asked the men if
any of them had any influence with that old man out there.

"If you have for god's sake use it and persuade him to not leave us, for
if he starts out alone he, nor any of his family will reach Honey lake

Just then one of the men said, "I have known that man ten years and I
know that all the advice all these people could give him would be wasted
breath and the less said to him the better it will be."

I then went back to Simson who had charge of the wagons and said to him,
"What shall we do with that old man? He is hitching up to leave us which
will be sure death to him and his family. If he goes had we not better
take his team away from him and save his life and his family's?"

Simson said, he would consult with the other men and see what they
thought about it. After he had talked with the other men a short time,
twenty or thirty of them went out where the old man was hitching up his
team. What they said to him I do not know. When I got to him he was
about ready to pull out; he said, "I'm going now and you men can come
when you please and I don't give a D'. whether you come at all of not."

This was the last we ever saw of the old man or his son.

Three days later Jim Bridger arrived with his train, and then we all
pulled out together by the way of Honey lake. The first night after
leaving camp Jim Bridger, Simson and myself had a talk about the old man
who had left us. Jim said. "I don't suppose we shall ever hear of him
again," and turning to me he said, "Will, it will take us two days to go
to Honey Lake; now tomorrow morning suppose you pick out of your scout
force eight good men, take two days' rations and your blankets with you
and rush on ahead to the Lake and see if you can find them. It may be
possible that some of them are alive, but I don't think you will find
one of them. Now, Will, be careful and don't take any desperate chances;
if you find they have been taken prisoners keep track of them until we
get there."

The next morning I and my men were off bright and early. We reached the
lake about three o'clock in the afternoon, where we struck the lake
there was scattering timber for quite a ways up and down and here we
found the old man's wagon. The wagon cover, his tent, and his team, were
gone; his cooking utensils were setting around the fire which was still
burning. Almost every thing was gone from the wagon, but there was
no sign of a fight. Neither could we see any white men's tracks; but
moccasin tracks were plenty. We sat down and ate our luncheon: as soon
as we finished eating we started to trail the Indians to find out what
had become of the whites. We had gone but a short distance when I
discovered the tracks of the two women; then we knew that they had been
captured by the Indians. I said, "I want you men to take this side of
the ridge and watch for Indians all the time, and you must watch me
also; when you see me throw up my hat come at once and be sure to not
shout, but signal to each other by whistling or holding up your hands
and be sure to have your signals understood among yourselves. And
another thing I want to say to you, if you see any Indian, signal to me,
at once. Now I am going to take the trail of these white women, and if I
need your assistance I will signal, and you must all get to me as quick
as possible."

All being understood I started on the trail of the white women. I hadn't
followed the trail over a half a mile, when I saw one of the men running
towards me at full speed; when he reached me he said, "We have found a
dead man, and he is stuck full of arrows."

I mounted my horse and accompanied him to where the body lay. I
recognized it at once; it was the son of the old man who had left us
three days before. His clothes were gone except his shirt and pants,
and his body was almost filled with arrows. I said, "This is one of the
party, and the other is a prisoner, or we shall find his body not
far from here. Let us scatter out and search this grove of timber
thoroughly; perhaps we may find the other body; and be careful to watch
out for the Indians, for they are liable to run upon us any time."

We had not gone more than two hundred yards before we found the old
man's body; it was laying behind a log with every indication of a
hand-to-hand fight. One arrow was stuck in his body near the heart, and
there were several tomahawk's wounds on the head and shoulders, which
showed that he died game.

It was getting late in the afternoon so I proposed to the men that we
take the bodies back to where we had found their camp, as we had no way
of burying the bodies in a decent manner, we had to wait until the train
came up to us. We laid the bodies side by side under a tree and then we
went into camp for the night as there was good grass for the horses. We
staked them out close to camp. We had seen no Indians all day, so we did
not think it necessary to put out guards around the camp that night, and
we all laid down and went to sleep.

The next morning we were up and had an early breakfast; that done, I
said, "Now, men I want two of you to go back and meet Bridger and tell
him what we have found and pilot him here to this camp, and he will
attend to the burying of these bodies; I would rather you should choose
among your selves who shall go back."

One man by the name of Boyd and another whose name was Taluck said they
would go. These men were both from Missouri; I then told them to tell
Bridger that I was a going to start on the trail of the white women at
once, and for him to camp here and that he would hear from me tonight,
whether I found them or not.

The rest of the men and I started on the trail; three went on one side
and three on the other, and I took the trail; I cautioned the men to
keep a sharp look out for the Indians all the time, and if they saw any
Indians to signal to me at once. I had followed the trail some five or
six miles when it led me to a little stream of water in a small grove of
timber. Here I found where the Indians had camped; the fire was still
burning which convinced me that the Indians had camped there the night
before. I also saw where the two women had been tied to a tree. I
followed them a short distance and saw that the band we were following
had met a larger band, and they had all gone off together in a northerly
direction. We were now near the north end of Honey lake, and I had about
given up hopes of ever seeing the women again, but I did not tell my
thoughts to my companions. The trail was so plain that I now mounted my
horse; we followed at a pretty rapid gate two or three miles, when we
saw that a few tracks had turned directly towards the lake. I dismounted
and examined them and found the two shoe tracks went with the small
party. I was now convinced that this was a party of squaws going to the
lake to fish; and I felt more encouraged to keep up the pursuit. We were
within a mile of the lake at this time. We rode as fast as we could and
keep the trail in sight. We soon came in sight of the lake; looking to
the right I saw a small band of squaws building a fire. I called the men
to me and told them that I believed the women we were looking for were
with those squaws, and if they were, I thought we could rescue them.

"I think our best plan will be to ride slowly until they see us and then
make a dash as fast as our horses can carry us; if the white women are
with them, we will ride right up to them, if they are tied I will jump
down and cut them loose," and pointing at two of the men I said, "You
two men will take them up behind you and take the lead back, and the
rest of us will protect you."

We did not ride much farther before the squaws discovered us at which
they began to shout, "Hyha," which meant "They're coming they're

In a moment we were in their midst, and sure enough the women were there
and tied fast to a small tree, a short distance from where the squaws
were building the fire.

What happened in the next few minutes I could never describe. The
women knew me at once and with cries and laughter, touching, beyond
description greeted me.

In an instant I was off my horse and cutting them loose from the tree,
at the same time the men were circling around us with guns cocked ready
to shoot the first squaw that interfered with us.

To my great surprise I did not see a bow or arrow among them or a
tomahawk either; as quick as I had the women loose I helped them up
behind the men I had selected to take them away from captivity back to
meet the train. As soon as we had left them of all the noise I ever
heard those squaws made the worst. I think they did this so the bucks
might know that they had lost their captives and might come to their
assistance. Where the bucks were I never knew. After riding four or five
miles we slacked our speed, and the women began telling us how the whole
thing had occurred. It seemed they had got to the camping ground early
in the afternoon of the second day after leaving us and instead of
staking out their horses they turned them loose, and about dusk the old
man and his son went out to look for the horses, were gone a couple of
hours and came back without them. This made them all very uneasy. The
next morning just at break of day the old man and his son took their
guns and started out again to hunt for their horses, and the mother and
daughter made a fire and cooked breakfast. The sun was about an hour
high, and they were sitting near the fire waiting for the men to come
back when they heard the report of a gun; they thought the men were
coming back and were shooting some game. They had no idea there was an
Indian near them. In the course of a half an hour they heard the second
shot, and in a few minutes the Indians were upon them, and they knew
that the men were both dead, because the Indians had both of their guns
and were holding them up and yelling and dancing with fiendish glee. The
Indians grabbed them and tied their hands behind them and then they tore
down their tent, took the wagon cover off and everything out of the
wagon that they could carry off.

"The bucks did the things up in bundles, and the squaws packed them on
their backs, and they were expecting every minute to be killed. After
the squaws had gone the bucks ate everything they could find that was
cooked, and the squaws that you found us with made us go with them to
the north end of the lake and there they camped that night. They tied us
with our backs to a little tree; we could not lay down and what little
sleep we got we took sitting up; we had not had a bit of breakfast that
morning when the Indians came upon us; it was all ready, and we were
waiting for our men folks to come back, and we have had nothing since,
but a little piece of broiled fish with no salt on it."

Until now I had not said anything about our finding the dead bodies of
their men, I thought it better to tell them now rather than wait until
we reached camp, as I thought the shock would be less when they came to
see the condition they were in.

Before I had finished telling the condition of the bodies when we found
them, I was afraid the young lady would faint, she seemed to take the
horrid news much harder than her mother did.

When we got to camp we found that Bridger had been there some two hours
ahead of us and had men digging the graves and others tearing up the
wagon box to make coffins to bury the bodies in.

We took the women to a family they were acquainted with and left them in
their care. After they had been given something to eat they went where
the bodies lay and looked at them, and with sobs of bitter grief bent
over them; which made my heart ache in sympathy for them in their

The next morning we laid them away into their lonely graves in as decent
a manner as we could, and in sadness left them.

Through the influence of Jim Bridger arrangements were made with two
families to take these two ladies with them to California. Just before
noon Jim came to me and said, "We will stay here until tomorrow morning;
I would like you to take four or five men who have good horses and go
around the north end of the lake and find out, if you can, if the Piutes
are gathering together in a large band. It is about the time of year for
the Piutes to leave this part of the country, but if they are gathering
in a large band they are bent on giving us trouble, and we will have to
make preparations to defend our selves. In three days more if we have
good luck we shall be out of the hostile Indian country."

We had an early dinner and four others and myself set out for the head
of the lake, we rode hard all that afternoon and to our great surprise
we never saw an Indian. We passed a number of camps where they had been,
but their trails all showed that they had pulled out for the north.
Seeing this we turned back and struck the emigrant trail about ten miles
from where Jim was camped. Just as we struck the emigrants trail I
looked off to the south about a quarter of a mile and saw nine head of
horses, and they were heading in the same direction we were going. I
called the other men's attention to them and said, "Let's capture those
Indian ponies." You may imagine our surprise when we got near them to
find they were not Indian ponies but good American horses and several of
them had collar marks on them showing that they had been worked lately.
We drove them on to camp, and when we put them in the corral we found
them to be perfectly gentle. Bridger and the balance of the men came to
see them, and every man had his own view where they had come from. But
we never knew for certain whom they belonged to. The next morning we
pulled out very early. The third day we crossed the Sierra Nevada
mountains without any thing of interest happening to us. In two days
more we reached the Sacramento river. We were now about forty miles
above Sacramento City, California. We camped here about the middle of
the afternoon. It being Saturday Jim thought we would rest the balance
of the day. After we had eaten our dinner Jim called all the men of the
train together and told them that they were out of all danger now from
the Indians and would have no further use for a guide and that our
contract with them was ended, and that he and I would like to start back
for New Mexico Monday morning. In a short time they settled up with us,
paying us our due with grateful thanks for our care of them on their
dangerous journey. I now went to the men who were with me when I found
the horses. I said, "Some of those horses belong to you, how many do you

They all looked surprised, and one said, "They are not our horses, they
are yours. You found them."

I answered, "Now, boys, that is not fair; drive them up and let me
select three and you may have the balance to divide as you choose among

This seemed to please them; and they drove the horses up at once. I
chose the three I liked best, and I afterwards found them all to be good
saddle horses. Bridger and I now went to work making our pack saddles
and getting ready for our long and tedious journey back to New Mexico, a
journey where wild beasts and still wilder savages might lurk behind
any tree or bush, a journey where at that time all one could see for
hundreds of miles was thick forests, and trackless prairies; a journey
of danger and fatigue which the people of this later day of rapid travel
could not be made to understand.

The next morning after breakfast was over a man came to me and said,
Mrs. Lynch and her daughter Lizzie would like to see me. These were the
two ladies I had rescued from the Indians. I had not spoken to them
since I left them with Bridger at the camp near Honey Lake. As I came
near to the elder lady she came to meet me and holding out her hand,
clasping mine she said, "Are you going to leave us tomorrow?"

I answered, "That is what we intended to do."

She then burst into tears, and amid her sobs said, "We can never pay you
for what you have done for us."

At this moment the young girl appeared, and as she gave me her hand her
mother said, "He is going to leave us, and we can never pay him for what
he has done for us"; at this the girl commenced to cry too and it was
some minutes before I could talk to them. When they had quieted down I
said, "Ladies, you owe me nothing, I only done my duty, and I would
do the same thing over again for you or any one else under the
circumstances that existed." Then the elder lady said, "If it hadn't
been for you we might never have seen a white person again."

I asked her, what state they were from. She said they came from Wright
country, Missouri, and that she had a brother there that was amply able
to come and take them back, but she would not ask him to do so for she
never wanted to cross the plains again. She said she had a few dollars
left that the Indians didn't get, and she thought Lizzie and she could
find something to do to get a living. I gave them all the encouragement
I could, bid them good bye and went back to Jim.

By the time dinner was ready Jim and I had our pack saddles and every
thing ready to put on our horses. While we were eating dinner as many as
thirty ladies came to us to inquire what they could give us to take with
us to eat on our journey. I was amused at Bridger. After each lady had
told what she had to give us, some had cakes, some had pie, and some
had boiled meat and some had bread; Jim straightened up and said, "Why
dog-gorn it ladies, we ain't got no wagon and we couldn't take one if we
had one the route we are going which will be through the mountains all
the way with no road or trail. We are going horse back and we can only
take about a hundred pounds on our pack horses. Now, ladies, we are a
thousand times obliged to you all but all we want is some bread and a
little meat, enough to do us a couple of days, and then we will be where
we can shoot all the meat we want; it is a poor hunter that could not
get enough grub for himself in the country we are going through."

The next morning when we were getting ready to start the women commenced
bringing in bread and meat for us and we had to take enough to last us
a week, we could not take less without hurting their feelings. When we
were all ready to start, the whole company came to bid us "good bye."
Men and women, old and young, all came, and amid hand clasps from the
men and tears and smiles from the women we mounted our horses and were

We followed the trail we had come, back as far as Truckey river, and
just below where Reno stands now, we met the remnant of an emigrant
train and according to their story they had had nothing but trouble from
the time they struck the head of Bitter Creek until the day before we
met them. They said they had lost twenty seven men and fourteen women
and a number of cattle and horses. They were very much surprised when we
told them of the train we had just piloted through to California without
losing one that staid with us. We told them of the dreadful fate of old
Mr. Lynch and his son.

As night was coming on we camped in company with these people. Next
morning we crossed Truckey river and struck out in a south east
direction, leaving the site where Virginia city now stands a little to
our right going by the sink of the Carson River. Here we camped and laid
over one day to give our horses a rest. Before we left here we filled
our canteens with water. Bridger told me that for the next fifty miles
it was the poorest watered country in the United States. Said he: "There
is plenty of water, but it is so full of alkali it is not fit to drink;
it is dangerous for both men and beasts."

Jim took the lead all day, and when we came to a little stream of water
he would get down and taste the water while I held the horses to keep
them from drinking. It was about four o'clock that afternoon before we
found water that was fit to drink; here we camped for the night.

Jim said, "From this on we may look for Indians; we are now in the Ute
country and tomorrow night we will be in the Apache country. Now we must
avoid the large streams for the Apaches are almost always to be found
near the large streams at this time of year. Their hunting season is
about over now, and they go to the large streams to catch fish and for
the benefit of a milder climate. If we keep on the high ridges and
mountains away from the large streams we will have no trouble with
the Indians and what is better for us we can get all the game we want
without any exertion."

The next day we were traveling along on a high ridge in the south east
corner of what is now the State of Nevada. We looked off to the south at
a little valley that was perhaps a half a mile from us, and there we saw
a grand sight. There must have been at least a hundred elk and amongst
them two very large old bucks fighting. Their horns were something
immense, and strange to say all the rest of the band stood still,
watching the fight. At last Jim said, "Will, I believe I will break up
that fight."

He jumped to the ground, raised his gun and fired. At the sound of the
gun all of the band ran away except the two who were fighting. I laughed
and said, "Jim, I thought you were going to stop that fight."

He replied, "Give me your gun, and I will stop it."

This time I handed him my gun, and he squatted down and took a rest on
his knee and fired. At the crack of the gun one of the elks fell to his
knees, but got up and ran for all that was in him, and that was the last
we saw of the elk. I told Jim he had spoilt the fun, and we had got no
meat out of it. He grinned and said, "Oh durn it that old elk was too
old to eat any way."

We went on and camped at the head of a little stream that emptied into
Green river. The sun was perhaps an hour high, when we went into camp.
As soon as we had staked out our horses Jim said, "Now Will, I will get
the supper, if you will go out and see if you can get some meat."

I answered, "That suits me to a T. Jim."

I took my gun and started for a little ridge. I had not gone over a
hundred yards when I saw five deer coming directly towards me. Among
them were two spring fawns. I dropped down at the root of a tree and
waited until they came to within fifty yards of me; I then fired and
broke one of the fawns' necks, and the rest of the flock came near
running over me, and over Jim also. I picked up my fawn and went back to
camp. Jim said, "I don't want you to go hunting anymore Will."

I said, "Why not?" He said, "If you do I shall have to stand guard over
the camp to keep the deer from tramping every thing we have into the
ground"; and he pointed to the tracks of the deer not ten feet from the
fire. This convinced us that these deer had never heard the report of a
gun before. We were now in the extreme south east end of Nevada, and I
don't imagine a white man had ever been through that part of the country
before. On this trip we traveled some twelve or fifteen hundred miles,
and we never saw a white person the whole way, and not even the sign of

At this time when a little more than a half of a century has passed
there are portions of this same country that could not be rode over from
the fact that it is all fenced in and cultivated. If we had been told
then that we would live to see railroads crossing every part of this
country we would have thought the person insane to ever think of such a
thing at a time when there was not a foot of rail-road as far west as

We had broiled venison for supper that night, the first we had eaten for
some time, and the reader may be sure we enjoyed it.

Next morning we pulled out of here quite early and crossed Green river
just above the mouth of Blue River. We were now in the greatest game
country I had ever seen then or ever have seen since. We traveled up
this stream three days, and I do not think there was a half an hour at
any one time that we were out of sight of game of some kind. There was
the Bison which is a species of Buffalo, Elk, Deer, Black Bear, and
Antelope. We crossed the main divide of the Rocky Mountains at the head
of the Arkansas River. That night we camped within a few miles of what
since has become the far-famed camp and now city of Leadville.

We were now out of the hostile Indian country, and so we did not have to
be so cautious in traveling days or camping at night.

While we were traveling down the Arkansas river I saw a sight I had
never seen before and never have since. Two Buck Deer locked fast
together by their horns. I had been told of such things and have since,
but that is the only time I ever saw it myself. We were very near them
before we saw them. They were in a little open prairie. I called Jim's
attention to them as soon as I saw them. He said, "I'll be gol durned if
that ain't the second time I ever saw such a sight, and now we will have
some fun out of them bucks."

We dismounted and walked up near them, and by the looks of the ground
which was torn and tramped for quite a distance we decided that they
had been in that condition quite a while. Jim said, "How in the plague,
Will, are we going to get these critters apart? They are too plaguey
poor to eat, so we don't want to kill them, and they will die if we
leave them in this fix; what shall we do, Will?"

I thought a minute and said, "Can't we take our little ax and chop one
of their horns off?"

He said, "I hadn't thought of that, but bring me the ax and I will try

I ran to the pack horse and got the ax. He said, "Now you go back to the
horses; for if I get them loose they may want to fight us."

So I went to the horses and looked back to see what Jim was doing. He
went up to them with the ax drawn ready to strike but it was quite a bit
before they were quiet enough for him to get a good hit at them. At last
he made a strike and down went one of the deer. Instead of striking
the deer's horn he struck him right back of the horn and killed him
instantly; when Jim saw what he had done he made another hit at the dead
buck's horn and freed the live one, which ran thirty or forty yards and
stopped and turned around and shook his head at us a half a dozen times
and then he trotted away as if nothing had happened.

Jim laughed and said, "He never stopped to thank us, did he? Well he
ain't much different from some people." I said, "Why, Jim he meant
"thank you" when he shook his head at us; that is all the way he could
say it, you know," to which he replied, "Well, I saved one of them any

Nothing occurred of interest from this time on until we reached our
journey's end at Taos, New Mexico. Here we found Uncle Kit and his wife
both enjoying good health and a warm welcome for his boy Willie, and his
old friend Jim Bridger.

After supper that night we told Uncle Kit that we had traveled from the
Sacramento river, California to Taos, New Mexico in thirty-three days,
and that we never saw a hostile Indian on the trip, and neither had had
any trouble of any kind to detain us a half an hour on the whole trip.
He said, "That is a wonderful story to hear, when there are so many wild
Indians in that part of the country. Now boys tell me what route you

We marked out the route by different streams and mountains. He looked at
the map we had drawn and said, "I will venture to say there is not two
men in all the country that could make that trip over that route and get
through alive. I will say again, boys, it is some thing wonderful to
think of, and you must have been protected by a higher power than your
selves to get through in safety."

We staid with Uncle Kit a couple of weeks and rested up, and then we
struck out for Bent's Fort to make up our crew to go to our trapping
ground for our winter's work.

Uncle Kit accompanied us to Bent's Fort; and all the trappers were
anxious to get in his employ from the fact that the report had gone out
that the Sioux and the Utes were on the war path, and all the trappers
knew that these two tribes were the strongest hostile tribes in the
west, and when fifty miles from Bent's Fort we never knew that we were
safe and the trappers all had confidence in Uncle Kit's judgment that he
seldom made a mistake in locating his trapping ground, and further
more he had more influence with the Indians than any other man in the
country, so they worked rather for him than take chances with any one

The next morning after we reached Bent's Fort I heard Mr. Bent and Mr.
Roubidoux talking with Carson in regard to the trappers. Mr. Bent said,
"Carson, I wish you would take as many as you can handle, for they all
have an Indian scare on them and are afraid to go out, and every one of
them is indebted to us for board now; and we can not afford to support
them if they loaf around here all winter," to which Carson replied, "I
can handle five or six of them, and that is all I want, I can not afford
to take men out in the mountains and board them all winter for nothing."
After thinking a minute Carson asked, "How many of the men have their
own traps and blankets?"

Mr. Roubidoux said, he thought nearly all of the trappers at the Fort
had their own trapping outfits with them. Carson said he would think
it over and see what he could do for them. That afternoon Carson and
Bridger had a talk with regard to how many men they should take with
them. Uncle Kit said, "We haven't horses enough to carry more than
three or four besides us three." Bridger said, "That will not make any
difference, if they want to go they can foot it from here to the head of
South Platte as that's where we are going to trap this winter; and when
they are through in the spring they can foot it back again. We have
nine pack horses besides our saddle horses, and we can pack out to the
trapping grounds, an outfit for five or six men besides our own all in
good shape."

That afternoon Uncle Kit and Bridger made arrangements with six men
to go with us to the head of South Platte to trap Beaver that winter.
Carson and Bridger agreed to furnish them with flour, coffee, salt, and
tobacco for which Carson and Bridger were to have half of the furs that
each man caught, Carson and Bridger to pack the grub and every thing
else out to the trapping ground and also to pack the furs and all their
other things back to Bent's Fort in the Spring. After Carson and Bridger
had selected the six men they wanted, it seemed as though all the
trappers at the Fort wanted to go with them. Carson told them he had
engaged all he could handle. The next two days we spent in getting ready
to go to our trapping grounds. On the morning of the third day every
thing in readiness we bid farewell to all the people at the Fort and
struck out for the trapping grounds and our winter's work. The men
that had to walk did not wait for us but started as soon as they had

Uncle Kit told them where we would camp the first night. They got there
before we did, and they had killed the fattest deer I ever saw and had
killed a Cub Bear. They were skinning them when we got to camp. The deer
was a spike buck and when he was skinned he was as white as a sheep
from pure fat. The reader may be sure we were not long in unpacking and
getting ready for supper; every one was tired and hungry for we had not
had any thing to eat since morning. For my supper I roasted two of the
cub's feet, and I have never enjoyed a meal since that tasted better.
While we were eating Jim Bridger looked at me and said, "Will, you have
the best of me tonight, but when we get to the Beaver grounds I'll have
a Beaver's tail roasted for my supper and then I'll be even with you."

I never saw a band of men enjoy a meal more than those men did that
night. In this climate people have better appetites than any climate I
have ever been. I think the reason for this was the air was so pure and
invigorating and it naturally required more food to sustain the body and
keep it in good health, and at that time sickness was very rare in that
part of the country. It would seem unreasonable to tell how much meat a
man ate at one meal, especially when out on a trip like this when he was
out in the open air all the time, night as well as day.

The third day after leaving this camp we struck the South Platte river,
and now we had another change of meat, which was mountain sheep. This is
in my opinion the best wild game that roams the forest.

We made an early camp that night and Uncle Kit said to Jim Bridger and
me, "You two boys get the meat for supper and the rest of us will look
after the horses." We picked up our guns and started up the river; we
had not gone far when in looking up on a high bluff we saw a band of
mountain sheep. Jim said, "Now if we can reach that little canyon," and
he pointed to one just ahead of us, "without them fellows seeing us we
will sure have something good for supper." This we succeeded in doing
and then we crawled around until we were within fifty yards of our game.
We selected a couple of spring lambs and fired and brought them both
down. When the men at the camp heard the firing a couple of the men came
running to help us bring our game to camp. We soon had it dressed and
ready for cooking, and it was good and every one of the men ate as if
they enjoyed it as much as I did. While we were eating supper Jim told
us a story of his coming in contact with a panther that had just killed
a sheep, and he said it was a miracle that it did not kill him. He was
coming down a bluff on a little trail and as good luck had it he had
his gun in his hand. The panther had the sheep behind a rock and as the
panther sprang at him he fired and broke its neck.

"It was the luckiest shot I ever fired," said he, "for if I had not had
my gun all ready to fire he would have torn me to pieces before I could
have helped myself."

Uncle Kit said, "Well, Jim, you were in about as close a place as I got
into once. I went out from my camp fire one night perhaps forty yards to
a small tree. I didn't have any pistol or gun with me, I had nothing but
my hunting knife to protect myself with when a half-grown panther sprang
out of the tree on me and, maybe you think I didn't have a lively time
there with him for a few minutes, but I finally got the best of him by
cutting him almost to pieces. He tore my buck skin breeches and coat
pretty near off me and left this scar on my arm before I finished him,"
and Carson pulled his sleeve up and showed us a scar that must have been
torn almost to the bone.

Two days from this we reached the place where we made our headquarters
for the winter. That night the men talked it over and made their plans
how many should camp together. They agreed that there should be three in
each camp as there were nine of us in all. That made the number even in
each camp. Next morning they all put out leaving me to look out for the
horses and things in general.

For the benefit of the reader I will explain how we arranged a camp
where a number of men were associated together in trapping beaver. We
built our camps about four miles apart which gave each camp two miles
square to work on, and this was ample room, for this was a new field and
Beaver was as thick as rats around a wharf.

While they were gone I took my gun and started out to take a little
stroll around where the horses were feeding. I had gone but a short
distance when I looked up. On a mountain, north of me I saw a band of
elk with perhaps seventy five or a hundred in it, and they were coming
directly towards me; I was satisfied in my mind that they were going to
the river to get water. I dropped down behind a log and waited for them
to come close to me. The nearest one was twenty yards from me when I
fired. I shot at a two-year-old heifer and broke her neck. I then went
back to camp to see if any of the men had come in as it was near noon. I
thought some of them would be back and sure enough in a few minutes they
all came together; I told them what I had done, and Uncle Kit said, "Jim
and I will get dinner and the balance of you go and help Willie bring in
his cow."

We found her in fine condition. We soon had her skinned and in camp, and
we found dinner ready when we got back. After dinner Uncle Kit said,
"Come boys let's pack up and move to our camp which is only about a half
a mile from here, and tomorrow, while Jim and me are at work on our
shanty, Willie can help you to move to your quarters, and you can be
building your shanties, so we can get to work as soon as possible."

We gathered every thing together and moved it to the ground where we
were going to make our winter quarters, and Uncle Kit and Jim selected
the place to build our cabin, and the men all turned to and went to
chopping the logs and putting up the cabin. By night the body of the
cabin was almost up, but the reader must bear in mind that this was not
a very large house. It was ten feet one way, and twelve the other, with
a fire place built in one corner. They built the walls of the shack
seven foot high and then covered it with small poles, covered the poles
with fine bows and then there was from six to eight inches of dirt
packed on them and the cracks were stuffed with mud. The door was split
out of logs called puncheons and was fastened together with wooden pins,
driven into holes, bored with an auger. This way of building a house
to live in through the winter may seem strange to the readers who are
accustomed to all the luxuries of the modern home of civilization; but
we considered our cabin very good quarters, and we were very comfortable
that winter.

The first morning after we were settled in our new home we commenced
setting traps for Beaver. Jim Bridger was the lucky man of the whole
outfit in catching Beaver all that winter. Each man had twelve traps
which was called a string, and a number of times that winter Bridger had
a beaver in every one of his traps in the morning. I had watched him set
his traps many times and I tried to imitate him in every particular, but
I never had the luck he had.

Uncle Kit told me a number of times that winter that it was a good
trapper that made an average of catching five Beaver a day, during the
trapping season. We were all very successful this winter. Beaver was
very plentiful, as there had never been any trappers in this part of
the country before, and besides that was an exceptional good winter for
trapping. The winter was quite cold, but there was not much snow all
winter for that country. We stayed here and trapped until the very last
of March, and when we had the furs all baled and ready for packing we
found we did not have horses enough to take them all out at one time, so
Uncle Kit and Jim Bridger packed the seven horses and rode the other two
and struck out for Bent's Fort, telling us they would come back as soon
as they could make the trip; and to our surprise they were back on the
tenth day.

We had everything ready for them to break up camp when they came back,
and we had all we could carry the second time. All of the nine horses
were packed, and we all had to walk to Bent's Fort.

After we left the Platte we took up a stream called Sand Creek which
leads to the divide between the Platte and the Arkansas rivers. After
we camped that night Carson said to the boys, "Now we have had a pretty
good variety of meat this winter, but we haven't had any antelope, but
we are in the greatest country for antelope in the west now. Can't one
of you boys kill one tomorrow for supper? But I am sorry for Jim and
Will for Jim can't get a Beaver's tail off of it, and there won't be any
bear's foot for Will to eat."

Jim answered, "You needn't worry about Will and me, for we may make you
sorry twice, for when we get at the Antelope there may not be enough for
the balance of you."

After breakfast next morning two of the men struck ahead in order to get
the antelope. Near the trail about ten o'clock we overtook them, and
they had killed two nice young antelope. One said that if they had
had ammunition enough with them they could have loaded the train with
antelope. That day we saw a number of bands of antelope, and I venture
to say there were as many as eight hundred or a thousand in each band.

At supper that night Jim Bridger and I convinced Uncle Kit that we had
not lost our appetite, if we didn't have Beaver's tail and Bear's foot
for supper.

The second day after leaving this camp we landed at Bent's Fort about
the middle of the afternoon. That evening and all the next day Carson
and Bridger were counting the pelts and paying off the men for the furs
they had trapped during the winter. Each man had a mark of his own which
he put on all his hides as he took them off the animal. I noticed one
man always clipped the left ear; that was his mark. Having a private
mark for each man saved a great deal of trouble and dispute when the
time came to separate the furs and give each man his due.

I heard Carson and Bridger talking after they had settled with the men,
and Bridger said, "We have done twice as well as I expected we would do
the past winter."

Carson answered, "Jim, we had an extra good crew of men. Every man
worked for all that was in him and when they earned a dollar for
themselves they earned one for us. I am more than satisfied with our
winter's work and what it brought us."

He then asked Jim and me what we intended to do that summer; Jim
answered, "We are going back to Fort Kerney to pilot emigrants across to
California, and it is time we were off now, for I believe by the first
of May there will be lots of emigrants there, and we want to get there,
and get the first train out, and if it is possible we are going to make
two trips across the plains this season."


The next morning Carson left Bent's Fort taking his four horses with
him going to his home at Taos, New Mexico, and Jim and I, taking five
horses, pulled out for Fort Kerney. Nothing of interest happened to us
on the way; and we made the trip in eleven days. As soon as we got to
the Fort, we called on the General; he was very glad to see us, and
invited us to stay all night with him. We accepted his invitation. That
evening at supper General Kerney mentioned my rescuing the two women at
the head of Honey Lake the year before; he recounted the incident very
much as it took place.

I said to him, "General, how in the name of common sense did you hear of
all that?"

He said, "Why the eastern papers have been full of it; and it will be
the best thing for you two men that could have happened; for no doubt
there will be hundreds of people here on their way to California, and
when they see you two men who are the heroes of that expedition they
will all want your services to pilot them across the plains, and I
assure you if there is any thing I can do to assist either of you in any
way I am more than willing to do it. I heard yesterday that there were
several small trains on the way coming from St. Joe, and they will be
here in a few days, so you are in good time to catch the first of
them, and I want you both to stay right here with me until you make
arrangements to leave for California. We will take a trip down the road
every day, and if there are any emigrants coming we will meet them."

[Illustration: The first thing we knew the whole number that we had
first seen was upon us.]

After breakfast next morning an orderly brought in our horses, all
saddled, the General's as well as ours. We all mounted and started down
the road. We had made five or six miles when we saw an emigrant train
coming towards us. The General said, "Look, boys, there they come now.
Let me do the talking."

The General had his uniform on, and Jim and I were dressed in buck-skin
from head to foot, and we were a rather conspicuous trio, as we rode up
to them. There were six or eight men on horse back, riding ahead of the
train. As we met them the General saluted them. One of the men said, "Is
this the commander at the Fort?"

The General answered, "I am. My name is Kerney."

One of the men said, "General, can you tell us whether the Indians are
on the war path or not between here and Salt Lake?"

The General answered, "I surely can. Every tribe of Indians between here
and the Sierra Nevada mountains is on the war path, and the emigrants
who get through this year without losing their lives or their stock may
consider themselves lucky," and pointing to Jim and me, he continued.
"These two men took a train through last year and only lost two men and
would not have lost them if they had obeyed orders."

One of the men asked, "Are these the men that piloted a train across and
had the trouble at Honey Lake last year?"

The General answered, "Yes, sir, they are, and that boy sitting on that
iron gray horse is the boy that planned and led the rescue of the two
women from the Indians."

One asked, "Are these the two men the papers said so much about last
fall? I think one was named Jim Bridger and the other's name was William

General Kerney smiled and answered, "Yes, these are the very men."

By this time the train had come up, and the other men of the company
gathered around us and being told who we were they all shook hands with
us, besides a great many of the ladies got out of the wagons and came to
us offering their hands. The people were all from Missouri and Illinois.
A man by the name of Tullock from Missouri asked us what we would charge
to pilot their train to California. Jim Bridger turned to me and said,
"Will, what do you think it would be worth?"

I said to the man who had asked the question, "Drive on about five
miles, and you will find a little creek and plenty of grass. Go into
camp there and select five or ten men to act as a committee, and we will
be there at four o'clock to meet you. You must give your committee full
power to deal with us. The committee must know the number of wagons,
the number of men, and the number of grown women; it will be more
satisfactory to you as well as to us to deal with a few men than for the
whole train to take a part in the business."

This plan seemed to meet with the approval of the men, so General
Kerney, Jim Bridger and I left them and rode back to the Fort. On the
way back the General asked Bridger how much he meant to charge the
emigrants to take the train across.

Bridger said, "What do you say, Will?"

I answered, "Jim, I look at it this way, we are held responsible for
the people's lives as well as their stock to get them to California in
safety; just think of the responsibility we are assuming; and as far as
I am concerned I will not undertake the job for less then four dollars a

Bridger answered, "That settles it, Will, that's just my price."

The General said, "I think you are very moderate in your charges; I
should think they would jump at such a chance; for I assure you, you
will have your hands full day and night."

After we had eaten our dinner at the Fort Gen. Kerney accompanied
us back to the emigrant's camp. On our arriving there we found the
committee waiting to receive us. Mr. Tullock introduced us to the
others, and then said, "We want you to tell us what amount of money you
will charge us to pilot us across the plains to California."

I said, "Gentlemen, I want to ask you a few questions before I answer
yours; how many wagons have you in this train?" Mr. Tullock answered,
"Sixty four." "How many men?" "One hundred and forty-eight." "How many
women?" "Sixty four."

I then said, "I will now answer your question as to our price. If we
take charge of this train from here to California our price will be four
dollars a day to each of us, with this understanding that Mr. Bridger
has entire charge of the wagons both day and night, and I to have the
charge of the scout force. Now, gentlemen, I don't suppose any of you
know what the duty of a scout is, and I will explain it to you. Twenty
miles from here we will strike a country where all the Indians are
hostile, and for the next twelve hundred miles they are all on the war
path; now, if we undertake this job we shall want twelve good men to
help me in scouting; each of the twelve to be mounted, and our duty will
be to protect the train; three men to ride in the rear of the train and
three on each side, each three to keep about a half a mile from the
train, and the other three in the lead, and the duty of these scouts
will be when they see Indians coming towards the train to notify Mr.
Bridger at once, so he can corral the wagons to protect the women and
children and the stock, and my duty will be to ride to the highest hills
on either side of the road to keep a lookout for Indians all through the
day, and at night to watch for their camp fires. Now, gentlemen, I have
told you our terms and if you decide to employ us, it will take four or
five days to drill the outfit so it will be safe for us to start on this
long and dangerous journey. Now, it is for you to say what you will do."

Gen. Kerney then spoke for the first time. "Let me say a word,
gentlemen. These men know every camping ground and every watering place
and also every Indian run way from here to the Sierra Nevada mountains,
and you could not find better men for guides on the frontier, and the
price they ask for the dangerous service they will give you is the least
you can expect to give."

The committee walked away from us a short distance, and talked among
them selves about a half an hour, and then came to us, and said they
would accept our offer. Bridger then said, "Now gentlemen I want you
to pick out twelve men that are not afraid to ride alone and have
number-one eyesight and good hearing, for no doubt there will be many
times when the fate of the whole train will depend on these twelve men.
Will will start in to train them tomorrow morning if they are ready, and
he will tell them and show them just what they have got to do; and I
want every teamster to have his team hooked to his wagon by nine o'clock
in the morning. It is not necessary for you to take down your tents or
move any of your camp equipage at all; for I will drill the teamsters
out on that little prairie yonder," and he pointed to a clear space a
little ways up the road.

After these arrangements were made General Kerney went back to the Fort,
and Jim and I staid at the emigrants' camp that night, so we could be up
early the next morning to commence our work of drilling the men for the
coming trip. My men reported to me soon after breakfast, and they were
all fairly well mounted and well armed, each man having a pistol and
a rifle. We mounted our horses and rode about a half a mile away from
camp. We stopped and I explained to them what we had to do. After
showing them and drilling them about two hours I asked them if any of
them had ever shot from his horse's back. They said they never had;
neither had they ever seen any one shoot that way. I went a short
distance to a tree and made a cross mark with my knife. I then said to
them, "Now, my men I will show you what you must learn to do."

I then rode a hundred yards from the tree I had marked, turned my horse,
put spurs to him and had him running at his best. When I came near the
tree, I fired my pistol and also my rifle as I passed the tree and
didn't miss the mark over a foot with either shot. When I returned the
men were examining the bullet holes I had put in the tree. One of them
said, "That is wonderful shooting. But what seems to be a mystery is how
you can use both your gun and your pistol so near together."

I showed them how it was done, and then I said to them, "You will have
to practice this way of shooting when fighting with the Indians. They
never stand up and fight like a white man does, and if they should
attack us they will be on horse back, as that is their general mode of
fighting, and you are liable to meet them any moment, and you will be in
a country some of the time where you can not see a hundred yards ahead
of you, and you must always be prepared to give them a warm reception.
When we come out here this afternoon I want you to all try your hand at
shooting the way I have just done, from off your horse's back with him
on the run."

I met Jim at dinner, and asked him what success he had training his
teamsters. He answered, "Why, we will get there bye and bye, for every
man tries to do his best."

At that moment two of the committee came to where Jim and I stood
talking and said, "There is another large train of emigrants in sight.
What are you going to do with them?"

"I don't intend to do any thing with them," Jim answered. "It is the
business of you men of the committee to look after them, but if they
join this train they will have to bear their share of the expense, the
same as you do."

One of the men asked how much extra we would charge to take the other
train under our protection. Jim answered, "If there are forty wagons or
over that number, we will require one dollar a day extra and that will
lighten the expense on this train, and they must comply with all the
rules this train does; and if they are going to join us, I want them to
do so at once, for I want to get away from here day after tomorrow."

The man said he would attend to the matter at once, which he did, and
all of the new train joined us with the exception of four wagons and
eleven men. These eleven men claimed they could take care of themselves
at all times and in every place, and they pulled out alone.

The train over which Jim and I had control now numbered one hundred and
four wagons, and we had to work day and night to get them in shape to
start out on the road. We left there the third day after taking charge
of the train. That afternoon when I took my scouts out to practice
shooting, I had considerable sport at their expense. They were all
perfectly willing to try their guns and pistols, but they wanted some
one to take the lead. No one was willing to be the first one to shoot.
So I said, "I will settle the matter this way. I will call the name of a
man, and he must take his place and shoot." The first man I called rode
out saying, "I have never shot from the back of a horse." I answered,
"Well, there is always a first time for everything, and the quicker you
start in the sooner you will learn."

He rode off a short distance, whirled his horse and started for the
tree. When he got to within a few steps of the mark he fired his pistol,
and made a very good shot, but the report of the pistol frightened his
horse, and he wheeled and ran in the opposite direction of the one he
was going, and he had run about two hundred yards before he could stop
him. When the man rode back and saw the shot he had made, he felt
encouraged, and said, "I want to try that over again."

I answered, "All right, load your pistol and try again, and I will ride
by your side and perhaps that will quiet your horse."

This time he did fine for a green hand at that way of shooting. The next
man I called on fired his pistol before he got near the tree, and his
horse commenced to jump, and he dropped his gun. At that moment Gen.
Kerney rode up to us and said to the man, "That is one time, young man,
when if you had been in an Indian fight you might have lost your scalp
and you surely would have lost your gun. You must do better than that.
You must all take an interest in what Mr. Drannan is trying to teach you
to do, for you will need all the knowledge you can get to protect not
only your selves but the whole train before you get to California. The
Indians are all on the war path and you are liable to have a brush with
them any day after you leave Fort Kerney, and Mr. Drannan is fully
competent to teach you how to meet them, if you will follow his

After talking a little longer to the men the Gen. rode away; and I was
glad to see that his advice had a good effect on the men; they all
seemed anxious to try their hand at shooting instead of being backward
as they had been before, and I heard one of them remark to another,
"Say, man, we have got to learn to shoot from our horses for that
General knows what he is talking about, and now let's get in and learn
as quick as we can."

After they had all had a try single handed at the mark on the tree I
said, "Now men, we will take a shot all together."

I then made a mark on the ground, about twenty steps from the tree we
had been shooting at. I then said to them, "We will go back to our
starting place," which was about two hundred yards, "then we will form
in, line, and we will make a dash as fast as our horses can carry us.
When we reach this mark I have made on the ground I will shout, "Fire!"
and every man must be ready to fire together, and be careful that you
keep in line together; for if you break your ranks in an Indian fight
you are almost sure to lose the battle; this drill will train your
horses at the same time it is training you."

We rode back, formed in line, and made the charge, and I was very much
surprised at the way the men all acquitted them selves. When I gave the
word "fire," the report was almost as one sound, so close were their
shots together. I went up to the tree and I found that every man had the
mark. I told them that they had done exceptionally well.

"It is getting near night, so we will go back to camp and after supper
we will practice signaling for one to use in case of danger to the

When we got back to camp Bridger had just finished corralling the whole
train, and I was surprised to see how neatly it was done considering the
short time they had been drilling; I asked Jim when he would be ready
to pull out. He answered, "I am going to order an early breakfast for
tomorrow morning; and we will pull out as soon as we can after we have
eaten it. I want to make it to the crossing of the Platte tomorrow, and
it will take us all of the next day to cross the river, and as the river
has commenced to rise, the quicker we get across it, the better it will
be for us; after we cross the Platte we will have no more trouble with
high water until we get to Green river."

After supper I got my scouts together, and we went outside of the
corral; we all sat down on a log. I then asked them if any of them could
mimic a Coyote; they all looked at me a moment, and then one said, "I
don't think any of us ever saw a Coyote. What are they? What do they
look like?"

I could not help laughing, for I thought everyone knew what a Coyote
was. I told them that a Coyote was a species of Wolf, not as dangerous
as the Grey Wolf but three of them could make more noise than all the
dogs around the camp could, and I said, "You will see them in droves
between here and California, being so numerous the Indians pay no
attention to them; and we scouts often use the howl of a Coyote as a
signal to each other because this noise will not attract the attention
of the Indians; I will now show you how the Coyote howls."

I then gave two or three yelps mimicking the Coyote, and before I had
given the yelp the Coyotes answered me. They were about two hundred
yards from us in the brush. Some of the men jumped to their feet
exclaiming, "What was that?"

When I could stop laughing I told them those were my Coyote friends,
answering me.

The Coyotes and I kept up the howling several minutes, and quite a crowd
of men and women gathered around me, listening to the noise, and they
all wanted to know what it was that I was mimicking. Before I could
answer them Jim Bridger, who had come near unobserved by me, said,
"Will, suppose we give them the double howl?"

I said, "All right," and we howled together just a few times when the
Coyotes in the brush turned loose and such howling I never had heard
before in all my experience among them. A number of the women rushed up
to Jim and me, frightened nearly into spasms, crying, "oh, is there any
danger, of those dreadful beasts attacking the camp?"

Jim laughed heartily and assured them there was no danger as the Coyote
was the greatest coward in the forest and would run at the sight of a
man. I told the men that they would not have any scout duty to do until
after we crossed the Platte river, so we could all ride along the trail
together and practice the coyote signal, for they would need to know it
as soon as they crossed the Platte river.

The next morning we were astir very early, had our breakfast and were on
the road. A little after sunrise that morning, just as we were pulling
out, Jim said to me, "When we are within five or six miles of the Platte
I want you to go on ahead of the train and select a camping ground as
near the crossing of the river as you can; for if we camp near the
crossing we can get the train over the river very much quicker than we
can if we camp a distance back."

I left them in time to reach the river an hour before the train and had
good luck selecting a place to camp not a quarter of a mile from the
crossing. I found a little grove of timber with a beautiful little
stream of water running through it which I thought was just the place
for us to camp that night. I went back and reported to Jim. He said,
"Why, I ought to have remembered that little grove, but I clean forgot

As soon as Jim had corralled the train, we turned our horses over to the
herders and struck out down to the river to see what condition the water
was in, and to our satisfaction we found that it had just commenced to
rise. Jim said, "As soon as you have eaten breakfast in the morning,
Will, I wish you would ride down here and cross the river and see if the
ford is clear of quick sand. If there is nothing of that kind to bother
us we ought to get the whole outfit over by noon."

When we returned to camp supper was ready. While Jim and I were eating,
about a dozen ladies came to us; among them was an old lady who said,
"Can't you men coax the wolves to howl again to night?"

Jim answered, "Yes, but I will bet my old boots that before another week
has passed you will want us to stop their howling so you can sleep," to
which she answered, "Well, where do they live? We don't see or hear them
in the day time."

Jim told her that the Coyotes stayed in hollow logs or caves or in thick
brush in the day time anywhere out of sight. Just at that moment a
Coyote yelped; he was up the river a short distance and for the next two
hours there was a continual howl. I asked the old lady if she thought
the wolves needed any coaxing to make them yelp. She said, no, she
guessed, Mr. Bridger was right when he said they were noisy. Early in
the morning I did not wait for breakfast but mounted my horse and went
down to the river. I crossed it at the ford to ascertain whether there
was quick sand in the ford enough to interfere with the crossing of the
emigrant train.

I will here explain to the reader that it was very necessary to examine
the fords of the Platte river, as it was a treacherous stream in the way
of quick sand, but this time I found nothing in the way to interfere
with our crossing. When I got back to camp they were just sitting down
to breakfast. I told Jim that there would be no trouble in crossing the
river, to which he replied, "All right, when we get ready to cross I
want you to lead the train. We will cross twenty-five wagons at a time,
and I will have all the mounted men ride on each side of the wagons to
keep the teams in their places."

We were successful in landing all the wagons in safety and were all on
the other side by eleven o'clock. I asked Jim where we should camp that
night; he asked me how far it was to Quaking Asp Grove. I told him I
thought it was about nine miles to that place.

He said, "Well, I think we can make it there in good season and that
will be a good place to camp."

I now instructed my scouts what their duty was, and we pulled out, I
taking the lead from one to two and a half miles ahead of the train.

Late that afternoon I discovered considerable Indian signs where they
had crossed the main trail. I followed their trail quite a way and
decided that they had passed that way about two days before.

After we went into camp I rode to the top of a high hill about a mile
away to look for Indian camp fires. I was soon convinced that there were
no Indians near us and started back to camp. I had got within a quarter
of a mile of the camp when I saw two men sitting on a log just ahead of
me; I rode up to them, and when I spoke to them I recognized them as two
of the eleven that left us with the four wagons at Fort Kerney. I said
to them, "Men, what are you doing here, and where are your teams and the
rest of the men who went with you?"

They answered, "The rest of the men are all dead, killed by the Indians
night before last; we made our escape by running off in the dark, and we
haven't had a bite to eat since supper that night, and in fact we did
not have much supper then, for the savages came on us when we were

I said, "What became of your wagons and teams?"

They said they did not know what became of them, for they made their
escape as soon as the Indians came upon them; that they ran a little
ways and stopped and listened to the cries of the others as long as
there were any left, and then wandering around through the woods ever
since, not knowing where they were or what would become of them, and
they continued, "We sat down here because we were so weak we could go no

One then asked where the rest of the train was. I replied, pointing, "It
is about a quarter of a mile over there."

At that, one said to the other, "Let's go and get something to eat." I
showed them the way to the train, and as they were intimately acquainted
with some of the emigrants they soon had their hunger appeased.

While they were eating, they told us their experience. Three or four
miles before they camped for the night they saw the Indians. There were
at least seventy-five of them. They were on the north side of the road.
They would come close to the road and then disappear again.

"We tried to get near to talk to them, but they ran away as if they were
afraid of us. When we camped that evening there were about twenty-five
of them on a hill not more than a hundred and fifty yards from us. Two
of the men started to go up to them, but they ran away, and that was the
last we saw of them, and so we made up our minds that they had gone, and
we thought no more about them. It was good and dark when we sat down to
supper, and how so many of them came upon us without making any noise is
a mystery to us. The first thing we knew, the whole number we had first
seen was upon us, and of all the noise, the yells and whoops we ever
heard, they made the worst. If they had come up out of the ground, we
would not have been more surprised, and the arrows were flying in every
direction. As it happened we two were sitting a little away from the
rest of the men eating our supper, and at their first yell we jumped up
and made for the nearest brush; our guns were all in the wagons, and
the Indians were between us and the wagons, so we had no way to defend
ourselves. We went a little ways into the brush, and then we looked back
and saw the Indians using their tomahawks on the men we had left, and in
a few minutes all the noise was over and we supposed all the nine were

Jim Bridger then said, "You two men are the luckiest chaps I ever heard
of. You may be sure that the Indians did not see you that night, or they
would have trailed you up and had your scalps before the next morning."

One of the committee men came to where Jim and I were sitting and said,
"What shall we do about finding and burying those bodies?"

Jim answered, "That, sir, is your business, not ours. It is our business
to see that the people under our care do not meet with the same fate
these men have met, and I do not intend to put the lives of all this
train in danger by stopping to hunt for the remains of men who refused
with scorn to stay with us and share the protection we offered them;
they brought the trouble and their own deaths on them selves, but I will
say this, if any of you men want to hunt for these bodies and take the
time to bury them, I have no objection, but you must understand that
when you get outside of the scout force we shall not be responsible for
any thing that may happen to you."

At that moment more than twenty men spoke together, saying, "Mr. Bridger
is right, Mr. Bridger is right; he proposes to do just what he agreed to
do, and no one can blame him." One of the men then asked if we would be
willing to stop long enough to bury the bodies if we found them; Jim
said, "We have no objections to stopping if it is a suitable place to
make our camp, but if it isn't we can't afford to lose the time, as we
must make certain places to camp every day, for we are now in a hostile
Indian country, and in order to protect our selves we must camp in
certain places, for without we take this care this train will not be in
existence a week, and Will and I feel the responsibility that rests upon
us, for the lives of your women and children as well as your own are in
our hands."

At this moment a middle-aged lady who stood near us with the tears
running down her cheeks said, "Why don't you let Mr. Bridger and Mr.
Drannan have their way? You see what these other men came to by not
obeying their orders, and do you want to bring us all to the predicament
they are in?" At this Jim said, "I'll be dog goned if they will."

This settled the controversy for the time being.

That evening before we turned in for the night Jim and I talked the
matter over together; and we decided that after I put out the scouts in
the morning I would take ten men all mounted on horses and keeping about
five miles ahead of the train, and if we found the bodies I should set
the men I had with me to work digging graves, and I should turn back and
report to Jim what we had found, and the condition we found them in.

As soon as possible the next morning the men I had selected and myself
pulled out. We had made eight or nine miles when we found the bodies we
were looking for. They were all laying near together, around what had
been their camp fire, and all of them were scalped.

There was nothing about them to indicate that they had made any effort
to protect themselves. Every one of the heads was split, showing they
had been tomahawked, proving what the two survivors had told us about
the suddenness of the attack to be correct. We found their wagons nearly
empty. The covers had been torn off, the most of the bedding was gone
and some of their clothing. The eatables such as bacon and flour and
dried fruit was laying on the ground. I told the men I thought the best
way to bury them would be to dig one large grave and put them all into
it, and they seemed to be of the same mind. After helping to select a
spot for the grave, I left them and rode back to meet the train and
report our find. I told Jim all about the condition of things at the
dead men's camp, at which he said, "I guess we had better stop there a
couple of hours, which will give us time to bury the dead, and we can
reach our camping ground before night."

On reaching the place Jim corralled the train, and he then went to all
the families and told them that two hours was as long as we should stop
there. I said, "I will take a stroll around through the brush and see if
I can find some of their cattle."

I hadn't gone more than a quarter of a mile when I found twelve head of
their oxen. When I drove them back to the wagons, the two men said they
were just half of the original number. They yoked them up and hooked
them to two of the wagons and took what they wanted of the provisions
and clothes and left the rest laying on the ground. As we were about to
leave Jim said, "It is too dog goned bad to leave all that grub for the
Coyotes to eat. That meat and flour will be worth fifty cents a pound
when you get to California."

Then several of the men and women commenced to gather up the stuff, the
men carrying the flour and the women the bacon, and they soon had it all
stowed away in their wagons.

Having laid the dead away in the best manner we could under the
circumstances, and every thing else being in readiness, we pulled out
for Barrel Springs. I told Jim not to look for me until about dark, as
I intended to climb the tall hills that we could see in the distance to
look for Indian camp fires. This being understood, my twelve scouts and
myself left the train in Jim's care. After giving the eleven scouts
their orders, I took the other one with me and took the lead. Nothing of
interest occurred until we had nearly reached the place where we were to
camp that night. Happening to look up on a high ridge to the north of
us, I saw a large band of Buffalo coming towards us, and I thought by
the lay of the ground that they must pass through the spot where we were
going to camp. I said to my companion, "Let's hitch our horses and get
those trees," pointing to a little grove of timber, which stood near the
springs. "Those Buffalo are going to come down there, and we want to get
as many of them as possible. Now don't shoot until they are opposite us,
and then aim to break their neck every time, and load and shoot as fast
as you can after you commence."

We only had a few minutes to wait. When we reached the timber, the
Buffalos were opposite us. They were within thirty feet of us. We both
fired and two Buffaloes fell. Now it was a race to see who could load
first. I was the quickest and got the next one. They were now on the
stampede, and it was a sight to see the number that was passing us. I
got three of them with my rifle and one with my pistol. My companion
shot three with his rifle. The one I shot with my pistol I don't think
was over ten feet from me when she fell. She was the nicest little
two-year-old heifer I had ever killed, and her meat was almost as tender
as chicken. We went to work dressing them and had them pretty well
underway when the train arrived.

Barrel Springs was one of the prettiest places for a camping ground I
ever saw. It was in a small, open prairie, surrounded by scattering
timber, a stream of cool and pure sparkling water running through the
center, and the grass was almost to the horses' knees.

As soon as Jim had corralled the train, he rode to where we were at work
and said, "Boys, I'll be gol durned if this ain't one of the times, you
done two good jobs at once."

I said, "How is that, Jim?"

He answered, "In the first place you provided meat for our supper, and
in the next, you drove the Buffalos off so we have plenty of grass for
the stock for their supper."

By this time nearly all the women were standing around us. This was the
first Buffalo they had ever seen and they were a great curiosity to
them. With the rest was a middle-aged lady, and with her she had two
daughters nearly grown. The mother stood near me watching me work.

She said, "Mr. Drannan, may I have a piece of that yearling's hind
quarter? I will tell you what I want to do with it; my girls and I have
picked a lot of wild onions today, and I want to make a stew, and we
want you and Mr. Bridger to come to our tent and eat supper."

I assured her she could have all the meat she wanted from my little
heifer. One of the girls ran to their wagon to get an ax and her father
to come and chop it off for them. By this time the men had about
finished dressing the Buffalo, and every body helped themselves to what
part they wanted. There was plenty for all, and some of the rough part
left over. It did not seem long to me when one of the girls came to Jim
and me and told us that her mother had sent for us to come and take
supper with them, and I think that was one of the times we did justice
to a meal, for a stew with onions was a rare dish for us woodsmen, and
a woman to cook it was a still more rare occasion. As soon as we had
finished eating, Jim stood up and in a loud voice said, "Ladies, how
many of you can dance?"

I think there were as many as twenty-five answered, "I can dance."

Jim said, "All right, get ready, and after dark we will have lots of

One of the men asked, "Where are you going to get your music?"

Jim answered, "Why dog gone it, Will and Mr. Henderson have engaged a
band to play for us to night."

And in a few moments the band struck up in a Coyote howl, and Jim
laughed and said, "There, didn't I promise you a band? Isn't that
music?" And from then until midnight the howling never ceased. It was
something fearful to listen to. The smell of the Buffalo blood made them
wild, and they howled worse then usual that night. A great number of the
emigrants did not lay down until after midnight, and time after time
asked me if I thought there was any danger of them attacking the camp.
I told them there was no danger from them, and that if I knew there
weren't any Indians within twenty miles of us I could stop their yelling
in five minutes. They asked how that was possible. I told them that if
I was sure there were no Indians in hearing, I would fire my gun off a
time or two, and we would hear no more of the Coyotes at night. After
midnight they quieted down and every one went to sleep, except the
guards who watched the camp.

Jim and I were up very early the next morning and called all the others
to have an early breakfast, telling them we had to make twenty miles
that day to get to water and grass so we could camp that night. As soon
as breakfast was over Jim said to the women, "Now ladies, you won't have
any more music to dance to for the next three nights, for you will see
no more Buffalo, hear no more Coyotes, or see any Indians until we cross
Green River."

Several of the ladies said they would be glad if they never heard any
more Coyotes howl. They did not like that kind of music to dance to, or
to be kept awake all night listening to them either.

For the next three days everything passed along smoothly; when we
reached Green River, it was rising rapidly, and we had a great deal of
trouble crossing it. We had to hitch three teams to one wagon and six
and eight men had to ride each side to keep the teams straight.

Green River is a mountain stream and flows very rapidly, and at this
place was very narrow, and if the team should get ten feet below the
Ford they would be lost so swift is the current. We worked hard two days
getting everything across the river, but we got everything over in good
shape at last.

That night, after supper was over, we told all the people of the train
to be ready for starting on the road by sunrise in the morning, as we
had a long drive before us and it was all gradually uphill at that.
Several of the women asked when we were going to give them some more
Buffalo meat. Jim burst out laughing and asked them if they wanted some
more music to dance to. One girl said, "Have we got to have music every
time we have Buffalo meat?"

Jim told her that for the next two weeks we would have music every night
whether we had Buffalo meat or not, and very likely there would be times
we would hear Indian yells during the day.

"By that time," he said, "we shall be in the Ute country, and they are
the meanest tribe of Indians in the west, and we may look for trouble
with them any moment, day or night." And addressing the men he said,
"I want you to keep your guns loaded and ready for use at a moment's
warning, and you must stay with the wagons, all but the scouts, who will
be under Will's control, for if they attack us I want to give them as
warm a reception as we possibly can, for if we whip them in the first
battle, that will settle it with that bunch. They will not trouble us

The next night we camped at Soda Springs. There were three springs close
together. Two of them were mineral, one strong with soda, and the other
was very salt, and the third one was pure cold water. As soon as the
wagons were corralled, several of the young girls took buckets and
started for the springs to get water, and as luck had it they all went
to the Soda spring. Not one of them had ever even heard of a soda spring
until they tried this one. They had not had any water to drink since
noon and were very thirsty, so drank very heartily without stopping to
taste, but as soon as the water was down, there was a cry from as many
as had drunk, and they all ran back to the wagons, screaming, "oh! oh! I
am poisoned, oh! What shall I do?" And with their hands pressed to their
breasts and the gas bursting from nose and mouth they did make a sad
sight to those who did not understand the effects of soda springs, but
to Jim and me it was very amusing, for we knew they were in no danger of

Some of the sufferers cried as well as screamed. I could not speak for
laughing, for I remembered my own first experience in drinking from a
soda spring, but Jim told them they were not poisoned and told them what
kind of water they had drunk. In a few moments all the crowd was at the
soda spring, drinking its poison water as the girls still called it. The
older women asked what they should do for water to cook with. I pointed
to the salt spring and told them to go and get water from that if they
had fresh meat to cook, and the water would salt it and for coffee I
pointed to the spring of water farthest from us, and I told the girls
they could drink all the water they wanted from that spring and not have
to make such faces as they did after they drank the soda. One of the
girls said she reckoned I would have made a face if I had felt as she
did. Jim stood near us with a smile on his lips, which I knew meant
mischief of some sort. He said. "Will, why don't you tell the girls how
you enjoyed your first drink of soda water?" And seeing how I blushed,
for my face was burning, he said, "I guess I had better tell them
myself. I don't think you know how comical you looked." And in the most
ridiculous way he could think of he described how I looked and acted on
that to me never-to-be-forgotten occasion, "My first drink from a soda

I have been told there is a large town at this place now, and that it is
a great resort for the sick. They use this salt water, which I forgot to
say was also hot as well as salt, for bathing, and is considered a great
cure for many diseases.

[Illustration: Waving my hat, I dashed into the midst of the band.]


The next morning we pulled out of this place by the way of Landers.
That afternoon about two o'clock I saw a small band of Indians coming
directly towards us. They were about a mile away when I first saw them.
I rode to the foot of a little hill which was close to me at the time I
saw them. I dismounted from my horse and tied him to a sage brush, and
then I crept to the top of the hill to see how many there were of them.
I watched them until they were within a half a mile of my hiding place;
I then counted thirty. I took them to be a hunting party by the way they
were traveling. I signaled to my scouts to come to me at once. When they
reached me, the Indians were less than a quarter of a mile from me. I
told them what was coming down the ravine and told them to see that
their guns and pistols were in order, "for, as soon as they round that
little point yonder, we will charge on them, and we will kill every one
we can. Now, don't shoot until we get within thirty yards of them. I
will say, "fire," then I want every man to get an Indian. Now don't get
rattled, but shoot to kill and shout as loud as you can. It don't make
any difference what you say, only make as big a noise as you can, and as
soon as you empty your guns, pull your pistols and go after them."

In a moment more the time had come to act, and when I said, "Charge,"
every man responded and did his duty. I had been in several Indian
fights before, but I never saw Indians so taken by surprise as this band
was. They did not draw their arrows or run, until we had fired into
them, and after they turned to run, they had gone at least two hundred
yards, before I saw them try to shoot an arrow.

We got fourteen of them in the first charge, and inside of three hundred
yards we got six more. The remainder had reached the thick brush, so we
let them go.

We now commenced catching the horses. We caught sixteen horses, and they
all had good hair ropes around their necks. We tied them all together,
and I left them in charge of two men, and the rest of us went to take
the scalps of the Indians, and I was surprised to find when I said, "We
will take the scalps of these Indians," that the men did not know what
I meant. I showed them how to take the scalps off, and then they asked
what I was going to do with them. I told them I was going to give them
to Jim Bridger, and he would make guards out of them. "Jim wouldn't take
the biggest hundred dollar bill you could offer him for these scalps,
when he gets his hands on them."

One of the men said, "What will Bridger do with them horrid bloody

I told him to just wait until night and then Jim would explain the use
they would be to him. I tied the scalps to my saddle, left two men to
care for the horses we had captured and biding the others to follow me I
struck out for the place where we were to camp that night.

Jim told me that night how surprised the emigrants were when the train
came to the men who had charge of the horses, and seeing the bodies of
the dead Indians.

He said, "I had to let them stop the train a few minutes so they could
all look at them." He said, "Some of the women wanted to know what
had become of the hair off the top of their heads. I told them that I
reckoned Will had taken them to give to me."

"And what are you going to do with those horrid Indians' hair?" one
woman inquired.

"I am going to protect you and the rest of the train with them," he
answered her.

The place we had picked out for camping ground that night was Sage
Creek. There was no timber in sight as far as one could see; there was
nothing to see but sage brush, but there was plenty of good water and
fine grass.

We had been riding around looking for signs of Indians, so we did not
reach the camping ground until Jim had the wagons corralled. I gave him
the scalps I had taken and I told him I was going to get some meat for
supper. He said, "What have you found? Bison or Antelope?"

I answered, "There are four or five hundred head of Antelope over beyond
that hill yonder," and I pointed to the ridge a short distance from
camp, "and I think I can take my scouts with me, and we can get an
Antelope apiece and get back here before sundown." Jim answered, "All
right, Will. I busy myself by hanging up my scalps while you are gone."

My men and I struck out up a ravine that led up close to where the
Antelope were feeding; we were screened from their sight by the high
banks. When we were close enough to them we dismounted and tied our
horses to some bush. I then crawled up the bank alone to see just where
the Antelope were, and to my surprise I found that there were two or
three hundred of them feeding almost on the edge of the ravine in close
gunshot to us. I slipped back down the bank and got to the boys as quick
as possible and told them that the Antelope were on the top of the bank
in close gun shot of us. We scattered along down the ravine for perhaps
a hundred yards. I took my handkerchief out of my pocket and told them I
would tie it around my ramrod. "And now don't any of you shoot until
you see this red handkerchief waving, for the color being red it will
attract their attention, and you will see more heads looking towards it
then you ever saw in your life before. Now take good aim and be sure
and hit your game, and as soon as you have emptied your guns pull your
pistols and get some more while they are running away; we ought to get
at least twenty Antelope out of this band."

When I waved the handkerchief, it seemed as if every rifle cracked at
once, and it was a lively time for a few minutes for all of us. When we
counted the Antelope we found we had shot twenty-two. We each took an
Antelope in front of us on our horses and put out for camp. When we got
there we unloaded, and some of the men that were at the camp commenced
dressing them and cutting them up in pieces to cook, while the other
boys went back to get those we had left where we killed them.

The women had the fires burning when the meat was ready for cooking,
and when supper was ready all the Antelope were dressed and distributed
around among the emigrants, and there was enough to last until the
second day.

Jim had cut long sticks and had hung the scalps on the wagons so they
could be seen quite a distance away. After he had them all fixed, he and
I were standing together talking, he telling me the effect the sight of
the dead Indians had on the emigrants and especially when they saw that
their scalps had been taken off.

Two of the women came to us and invited us to eat supper with them at
their tent. I will here explain to the reader that every family in the
train had their own separate tent and cooked at their own fire. Jim and
I accepted the invitation as we always did of the first that invited us
to each meal.

As we finished eating it seemed as though all the women of the train
gathered around us. There was one old lady in the crowd who seemed to be
the one selected to do the talking. She said, "Mr. Bridger, I want you
to tell me truly, don't you think it was awfully wicked to cut those
scalps off those Indians' heads and then hang the dreadful, bloody
things up on the wagons for us to look at?" and the tears were in her
eyes as she finished her question.

Jim replied, "The best thing that has been done since we started on this
trip is killing those Indians, and better still taking their scalps. I
did not hang those scalps up on your wagons for you to look at. I hung
them up for the Indians that are alive to look at, and I will tell you
this, the Indians will never attack the train as long as they see those
same bloody things hanging there, for they will think they will lose
their own scalps, if they do. I would rather have these Indian scalps
to protect you with than a hundred of the best soldiers in the United
States Army. The Indian does not fear death, but he dreads the thought
of having his scalps taken off his head, for it is the Indian's belief
that he cannot enter the happy hunting grounds after death if his scalp
has been taken off his head, and I want to impress on your minds that if
this train should be attacked, every one of you that fell into the hands
of the Indians, it would not matter whether they be men or women, would
have their scalps torn off, and the same scalps would be hanging up on
the Indians' wigwams for the squaws to dance around, and I want all you
ladies to distinctly understand that Will Drannan or myself will do
nothing while we have charge of this train but what will be of benefit
to you all, and will bear the strictest investigation."

By this time everyone in the train had surrounded us, and turning to the
men of the train, Jim continued, "If any of you are dissatisfied with
our actions, now is the time to say so, and we will quit right here, and
I will guarantee that the Indians will have all of your scalps before
you are a hundred miles from here."

At this moment the committee came to us and said, "We want you two men
to understand that there is no fault to be found with what you have done
since you took charge of this train. We realize that every move you have
made has been for our benefit. Mr. Bridger, you have no doubt found out
long before this time that in a large company like this, everyone can
not be satisfied. No matter how hard you may try to please them, there
will still be some growlers and, pardon me for saying, there are cranks
among the women as well as among men."

At this the old lady who had called Bridger wicked stepped up to Jim and
said, "Mr. Bridger, I hope you will excuse me, for what I said. I will
admit that I did not know what I was talking about, and if you will
forgive me this time I will find no more fault with you."

Jim made no reply to the lady's remarks, but turning to the rest of the
company he said, "Now get ready to have a good dance tonight, for we are
going to have lots of music, for the Coyotes will smell the blood of the
Indians on one side of us and that of the Antelope on the other side, so
there will be music from a double band."

This was the last word of complaint that was expressed, while we
were with this train. Everyone seemed satisfied, and all things went
pleasantly from this time on. But talk about Coyotes' howling. This was
one of the nights when they did howl. They came so close to us that we
could hear them snap their teeth. Apparently there were hundreds of them
around us.

After leaving this camp we had no more trouble for two days. The second
night we camped on a little stream which was a tributary to Snake river.
In the morning before we camped at this place, I told Jim when I left
him with my scouts that he need not expect to see me until supper time.
"You know, Jim, that we are in the heart of the Ute country, and I shall
prospect every hill or ravine where there is liable to be found signs of

That evening it was perhaps a couple of miles before we got to the camp
and a mile or so away from the other scouts, I ran on three wagons
standing right in the middle of the road. After examining them a few
minutes, I came to the conclusion that they had been standing where they
were all winter. I saw that there had been ox-teams attached to them
some time, but there was no sign of yokes there. The covers were still
on the wagons, so I got off my horse and climbed into one of them. I
found some flour and probably three hundred pounds of bacon in the three
wagons. There was no bedding, but some clothing for both men and women,
which was quite old and worn. On the front gate of one of the wagons I
found considerable blood, and there was blood on the tongue of the same
wagon. I now made an examination of the ground to see if there were any
signs of a fight. After I had looked around some time, I was convinced
that the owners of the wagons, whoever they had been, had been massacred
by the Indians.

About forty steps from the wagons I found the remains of three people.
One was a large body, that of a man, and one a medium size, which I took
for the body of a woman, and the other was a small child. All there was
left of them was their bones and some hair, the Wolves having stripped
the flesh entirely from them.

I signaled to my scouts to come to me. As soon as they came, I told them
to take all the grub out of the wagons and put it in a pile, and I would
go back and meet the train and have three men appointed to distribute
the stuff among the families. I told the boys that there were two trunks
in the wagons and to break them open and see what was in them.

They did so and found them full of women's clothes, some of the garments
of very nice material. I rode back and met the train and told Jim what I
had found, and what I thought we had best do.

He selected three men to divide the provisions among the families of the
train. I never inquired what they did with the clothes that was in the

We hunted all around in every direction, but we could find no more
bodies, so if there had been others, the Indians must have taken them
into captivity or, what was more likely, the Coyotes had dragged them
away into the brush beyond our reach.

After the emigrants had stored the provisions in their wagons, we went
on to the place we had selected for a camping ground for that night. I
preceded the train a half a mile, and I found plenty of Indian signs,
but they were all old. All their trails were pointing south that night.
I asked Jim why all the Indians were going south this time of the year.
He told me that they were going to hunt big game such as Buffalo, Bison
and Elk, and they had to go further south to find such game, and he
said, he should not be surprised if we did not see another Indian until
we struck the Sink of Humboldt.

"But you may look out then, for we will find them then in plenty." As
Jim finished this remark, one of my scouts came riding into camp at full
speed. Jim and I went to meet him, for we suspected that something was
up. As soon as he got in speaking distance he said to me, "There are a
thousand Indians up on that ridge yonder, and they are coming this way;
they are all on horse back, and there are women and children with them."
Jim asked how far off they were. He said he didn't believe they were
over a mile from camp at this minute; Jim mounted his horse and went to
the herders and ordered them to corral the stock at once, at the same
time telling every man to get his gun and form in line for the Indians
were coming upon us, and the reader may be sure that everybody and every
animal in that train was moving lively for a few minutes.

As soon as the stock was corralled, Jim rode up to me with one of the
sticks that had a scalp on it in his hand. Handing it to me, he said,
"Here, Will, take this and ride out a little ways from the corral, and
when the Indians come where they can see you, wave it over your head so
they will be sure to see the scalps, and I will get another bunch and I
will stand close to you at the same time."

In a few minutes more the Indians hove in sight. They were in less than
a quarter of a mile of us before they could see the whole train. As soon
as they got a good sight of us the whole band stopped. The leader of
the band was a war chief. We knew this by his dress. As soon as they
stopped, Jim and I rode out towards them, waving the scalps like a flag.

The old chief looked at us a moment, then turned and seemed to be
talking with some of the other braves a few minutes. Then the whole
tribe pulled out in a westerly direction from us, and in a short time
they were out of our sight, and their pace was lively the reader may be
sure for the sight of the scalps had frightened them, as they feared
they would meet the same fate if they did not get away from us quick.

I followed them quite a distance to make sure that they had gone. When I
got back, everything had quieted down and the company was just sitting
down to supper.

After Jim and I had got through eating, two of the committee came to us
and as many as forty or fifty women, old and young, were with them. The
men said to us, "These women have asked us to come to you and tender
their most heartfelt thanks to you for what you have done for them
today, for we are all sure we would have fallen victims to the savages
if you had not been with us to protect us from them. It was the
easiest-won battle that I ever heard of, and all because you knew how to
fight the savages with their own weapon."

Jim answered, "Didn't I tell you that them scalps was worth an army of
soldiers to us, and hasn't this proved my words to be true? What would
a hundred soldiers have done with that whole tribe of Indians? There
wouldn't have been a man of them left in an hour to tell the story, and
every one of their scalps would be hanging to the Indians' belts, and I
want you to all bear in mind that for the next three hundred miles we
are liable to have just such another experience any hour of the day or
night, and I want to ask you all to do as you done this time. Only keep
cool and obey our orders, and I think we will get you through in safety,
and I want to say this for the ladies, they showed great bravery today
in keeping so quiet and having good sense staying under cover, and I did
not hear a sound from any of them, and I will tell the girls that I will
recommend them to the best-looking young frontiersmen I am acquainted
with, as wifes, especially if they learn to dance to the Coyote's

This made a laugh all around and took the edge off of the danger that
had clouded the people's faces, which was the motive Jim had in view
in making the joking remarks, for no one knew better than Jim did how
necessary it is to keep a company in good spirits, and to keep them from
dwelling on the danger that might threaten them.

There was nothing to interrupt our slumbers that night, and we arose
refreshed the next morning, ready for the day's journey and whatever was
before us.

For the next three days nothing happened to interfere with our journey.
The third day brought us to the foot of Look Out mountain, which is a
spur of the Sierra Nevada mountains. In the eastern part of what is
now the State of Nevada, but which was at that time one of the wildest
countries in all the west, this particular portion I am speaking about
was inhabited solely by the Ute Indians, which at that time was a very
large tribe, and one of the most barbarous tribe that ever inhabited
North America.

It is now fifty years ago since the events I am speaking of took place,
and after all that Uncle Sam has done for them, they are not civilized

At the time I speak of, this tribe inhabited all of the country from
Snake river on the north to the Colorado river on the south and probably
four hundred miles east and west, and at that time it was one of the
greatest game countries west of the Rocky mountains. Such game as
Buffalo, Elk, Antelope and Deer ranged all through that country in
countless numbers. The Buffalo traveled much less in that particular
portion of the country than they did in the country east of the Rocky
mountains. The Buffalo that inhabited this part of the country scarcely
ever crossed Snake river on the north or strayed as far as what is now
known as the States of Oregon and Idaho, and it was no uncommon sight to
see from fifty to two hundred and fifty Elk in one band. It would seem
unreasonable at this period to tell how many Antelope one could see in
one day.

But to return to the emigrant train and our camp at the foot of Look Out
mountain, just before I got to our intended camping place, I crossed a
trail where the Indians had just passed. I followed this trail for some
distance, and judging from the signs I decided there was quite a large
band, five hundred or more of them.

I went back to the main trail and signaled to my scouts to come to me.
I selected one to go with me, gave the others their orders what to do,
telling them to be sure and tell Bridger to not look for us until he saw
us, for I was going to follow a trail until I found where the Indians
went into camp.

Myself and my assistants now took the trail of the Indians, and we had
followed it about five miles when we came to a high ridge, and as we
looked down into the valley we saw the Indians in camp.

I was now satisfied that the Indians had not seen us and would not see
us, so we turned and rode back to the place where we started from. When
we reached the camping ground, Jim had just got the train corralled.
I reported to him what I had seen and where the Indians were. After
listening to my report, Jim said, "That is good. There is no danger from
that band anyway."

We passed a quiet night at this camp. The next morning we were up very
early and got an early start on the road, for we had a long drive before
us that day, as it was all of twenty miles before we could reach water

Before we started that morning, Jim said to me, "Keep a sharp look
out for Buffalo when you get near the next water, for if there are no
Indians there, you will be sure to find Buffalo, and tomorrow being
Sunday we will lay over a day and rest up, and if we can have some fresh
meat I think everyone will enjoy it."

I answered that if there were any Buffalo in that part of the country, I
would surely find them, "for, besides the treat the Buffalo will be to
us, we can have another Coyote dance."

Jim clapped his hands and, laughing, replied, "Yes, Will, I'll be dog
gorned if we won't, for the Coyotes will howl to beat any band if you
can kill a few Buffalos."

I and my scouts pulled out at once, and to my surprise I did not see an
Indian track all that day. When I was within three or four miles of the
place where we were to camp, I commenced to see signs of Buffalo, so I
signaled all the other scouts to come to me. As soon as they came, I
showed them the tracks of the Buffalo in the sand, and then I told them
that we would scatter out and go in abreast, keeping about a hundred
yards apart, and keep a sharp look out, and if either of us see any
Buffalo, signal to the rest of us to come, "for, we are going to lay
over in this camp tomorrow, and we want some Buffalo meat to feast on."

We saw no Buffalo until we were almost to the camping ground. Then one
of the men discovered a herd of perhaps twenty-five cows and calves in a
little valley close to the place where we were going to camp.

As soon as he saw them, he signaled to the balance of us, and we got to
him as quickly as possible. On examination of the valley, we found that
there was only one way the Buffalos could get out, and that was the way
they went in, which led down to where our camp would be that night.
There were not more than eight or ten acres in the whole valley, and it
was almost surrounded by high bluffs, and the only outlet which was not
more than thirty paces wide led directly to the spot where we intended
to camp over Sunday.

I told the men to dismount and tie their horses to some Sage brush that
was near and go down to a little grove of trees that stood at the mouth
of the valley.

"I will ride in among them and try to separate the herd so we can get as
many of them as possible, and aim to kill the smallest of the band as
they pass you. If I am successful in separating the band, and you can
get two shots at them, we will get all the meat we want. I will try to
hold all the calves until the cows are out of the valley, and when the
last cow is out, all you men rush and close the opening, and then we
will have lots of sport killing the calves."

As I rode into the valley, all the Buffalos ran to the opposite end,
and I saw then that I should have a hard time to separate them. I rode
quickly to where they were all in a bunch. As I drew near them, they all
broke for the outlet in one body. I took my hat off and, waving it
over my head and with a yell, I dashed into the midst of the band and
succeeded in separating three cows and ten calves. At one time I thought
they would run over me and my horse in spite of all I could do to
prevent it. But finally I separated the three cows and ten calves from
the rest and turned them back to the head of the valley. I now heard the
report of the guns, so I knew the men were getting some meat. I then
rode back to them as quickly as I could, and I found they had shot ten
Buffalo cows, which all lay dead within a few feet of each other.

I said, "Now boys, we have enough cows, but we want some of the calves,
and I will go up and start them down, and you let the cows all pass out
but hold the calves inside and shoot all of them you can."

I went back to the other end of the valley, and as luck was on my side
the cows separated themselves from the calves, and I had no trouble in
running the cows out, which I did at full speed. I then said, "Now boys,
you may kill all these calves but one, and that one I am going to have
for a pet."

They all commenced to laugh and asked, "How are you going to catch it?"

I answered, "You just watch me," at the same time I was loosening the
riata from my saddle. I then rode up near to where the calves were
huddled together, and as they started to run I threw my rope at the
largest one in the bunch and caught him around the neck, and there was
some lively kicking and bucking for a few minutes, but he found it was
no use to struggle. After that it took only a few minutes before the men
had all the others killed.

The excitement being over, I looked down to the other end of the valley
and saw that Bridger had the train corralled. I sent one of the men to
tell Jim to send ten or twelve teams up the valley to drag the Buffalos
down to camp. The men reported the number of cows and calves we had
killed, and Jim sent enough teams to drag them all down to camp in one

As soon as the teams had started with their loads, I asked the boys to
help me with my calf. I told them to all get behind him and give him a
scare, and he would go to camp in a lively gallop, for I wanted to show
the women and children how a wild Buffalo looked when alive.

When we reached the corral, Jim Bridger was the first to meet us. The
calf had got pretty wild by this time. No one could get near him. Jim
said he had been seeing Buffalo for the last twenty-five years, and this
one was the first he had ever seen led into camp, and in a few minutes
all the women and children and the majority of the men were gathered in
a bunch looking at my calf and laughing at his antics, for he did not
submit to captivity very gracefully. After watching him a while, Jim
said, "What are you going to do with him, Will?"

I answered that I did intend to eat him, but I thought now I had better
turn him loose.

Jim said, "That won't do, Will, for he would kill someone before he
cleared himself of the crowd. Tie him up to a tree, and we can kill him
and take the meat with us when we leave here."

I tied him up as Jim thought best, although I pitied the little fellow
and had rather have let him loose and seen him scamper away over the
hills to join his friends in freedom.

The men set to work skinning and getting the meat ready to cook for
supper. We now had fresh meat enough to last the entire outfit nearly a

After we had finished supper Jim told the women to get ready to dance,
"for," he said, "we will have more music tonight than we have had for a
long time."

One of the old ladies asked him, how he could tell when the wolves would
howl more one night than another, and she said, "every time that you
have said they would howl, they have made such a noise that none of us
could sleep." Jim answered, "this will be the worst night for them to
howl you have ever heard, and I will tell you why. You see, all those
Buffalos have been dressed here at the camp, and the Coyotes will smell
the blood for miles away from here, and they will follow the scent until
they get to us, and as they cannot get to the meat they will vent their
disappointment in howling. So you see why I say the ladies will have a
plenty of music to dance to." And sure enough, as soon as it commenced
growing dark the din commenced, and there was no sleep for anyone in
that camp until nearly daylight the next morning. A number of times
that night I went out perhaps fifty yards from the wagons and saw them
running in every direction. I could have silenced them by firing once
among them, but this I did not dare to do, for I did not know how many
Indians might be in hearing of the report of my gun, and I thought it
the better policy to hear the howling of the wolves than to have a fight
with the Indians.

The next morning I called the scouts together and divided them into four
squads, and we started out to examine the country in all four directions
for Indians or the signs of them, our calculation being to investigate
the country for five miles in every direction.

I told the men that if we saw no Indians or the signs of them that day
that we would have a chance to sleep that night for I would fire a few
shots among the Coyotes and stop their music, for that time at least.
I and the men that went with me took a direct western course. After
traveling perhaps five miles we struck a fresh Indian trail; the Indians
had passed along there the evening before going in a southern direction.
We followed it some distance, and I came to the conclusion that there
were four or five hundred Indians in the band, and I knew by the
direction they were traveling that they would have to go fifteen or
twenty miles before they could find water, so I knew we were perfectly
safe from this band. So after explaining this to my companions, I said,
"Let us go back to camp."

On our arrival there we found that all the scouts had got into camp
except the squad that went east, and in a few minutes, they came riding
in as fast as their horses could bring them shouting at the top of their
voices, "The Indians are after us."

Jim ordered the stock all corralled at once, and the men were not long
in obeying orders. While these were attending to the stock, Jim was
placing the other men in a position to protect the train, and as good
luck, or rather Jim's forethought, had it, he had stuck the scalps we
had used for the same purpose before on the wagons the night before,
saying as he did it, "We don't ever know when they will be needed."

I with all my scout force rode out to meet the coming Indians. About two
hundred yards from the corral there was a little hill which the Indians
would have to climb before they came in view of our camp. I told the men
that we would meet them at the top of the hill and give them as warm a
welcome as we could, and then we would get back to the train as quickly
as possible, and I then told them to shoot with their rifles first and
then to pull their pistols and to let the savages have all there was in
them, and then wheel their horses and make for camp.

We heard them coming before we reached the top of the hill. When we got
on the crest, they were not more than thirty or forty yards from us.
Every one of my men fired together, and I saw a number of Indians fall
from their horses, and after we emptied our pistols among them, we
wheeled our horses and sped back to camp.

The Indians just rounded the top of the hill where they could barely see
the train, and then they stopped. Seeing the wagons with the scalps
on them and all in seeming waiting for them seemed to take them by
surprise. Bridger was making arrangements to make an attack on them when
they all gave the war whoop and wheeled their horses and went back the
way they had come.

Myself and scouts went to the top of the hill to see if the Indians were
still in the neighborhood, but finding no signs of them we went back to
camp. When I told Jim that there were no Indians in sight, he sprang up
and laughed as loud as he could and clapped his hands together and said,
"Another battle won by Will's Indian scalps. Didn't I tell you all that
them scalps was worth more to us than all the soldiers we could get
around us? They have won two good strong battles for us, and we will
not have any more trouble here. Them scalps is worth a hundred dollars
apiece to this train."

My men and I now went back over the hill to see how many Indians we had
shot in our first meeting them, and strange to say we did not find a
dead Indian, but there was plenty of blood all around where they were
when we fired on them. I knew by the blood that we had killed some of
them, but their comrades had taken their bodies on their horses and
carried them with them, which the Indian always does if he can.

When we returned to camp the excitement was all over, and everyone was
as cheerful as if nothing had happened to disturb them. Jim and I were
talking together a short time after I got back when two young girls came
to us and said their mother wanted us to eat dinner with them, for they
were going to have pie for dinner. Jim said, "Is it calf pie? I do love
calf pie above all things."

The girls laughed and said, "No, it is apple pie." Jim said, "All right,
I like apple pie too."

When we sat down to dinner, which the reader will understand was not
spread on a table, but was spread on the ground, I was surprised to see
what was before us to eat. I have paid a dollar many times since then
for a meal that would not compare in any way with this dinner that was
cooked out in the wilds with no conveniences that women are supposed to

There was a stew made of the Buffalo calf, a roast of the same kind of
meat, corn bread, fried wild onions, apple pie and as good a cup of
coffee as I ever drank.

After we had finished eating, Jim said to the lady, "Are you going to
run a boarding house when you get to California?"

She answered, "I don't know what I shall do when we get there. Why do
you ask?"

Jim answered, "I wanted to know because if you are, every time I come to
California, I am coming to board with you."

Her husband then said, "It don't make any difference whether we keep a
boarding house or not. Any time you or Mr. Drannan come near our place
we shall expect you to come to us. You both will be perfectly welcome to
a seat at our table at any and all times. After what I have seen today,
I am more fully convinced that everyone in this train owes their lives
to you two men. What would have become of the whole of us this morning
if you two men had not been here to guard us? I will tell you what would
have happened. Our stock and all we possessed would have been in the
hands of the Indians, and our scalps would be hanging at their girdles
at this time, and I want to say now that the people that compose this
train can never pay you for what you have done for us on this dangerous

Jim answered, "When we undertook to pilot this train across to
California, we knew what we would be likely to meet with and that the
undertaking was no child's play. We both understood the nature of the
Indians thoroughly, and if all you people stick together and obey our
orders, we will take you through in safety."

The man answered, "Mr. Bridger, you need not have one uneasy thought
about anyone wanting to leave your protection on this trip, for everyone
in this company understands that their lives are in the hands of you two

By this time there was quite a crowd around us, and Jim said, "We both
appreciate the good opinion you have expressed, but after all we have
only done our duty by you as we always do, or at least we try to do to
everyone who intrust themselves and their property in our care. And now,
to change the subject, Will says he is going to stop the wolves howling
tonight so you people can get some sleep."

When it had grown dark I took a few of the scouts with me out on the
edge of camp perhaps a hundred yards from the corral, and when the
Coyotes began their howling, we began firing, and in a few minutes there
was not a sound to be heard. We were satisfied that we would not be
disturbed that night by the savages or the Coyotes, so we all turned in,
and we had a good night's rest.

The next morning we were up and had an early breakfast, and I had
not seen the emigrants in such a cheerful mood as they all were this
morning, since we left Fort Kerney. Every one was cracking jokes.

As my scouts and I were about to leave the train to take our usual
position as guards, one of the young girls came to me and said, "Mr.
Drannan, I knew you were a good Indian fighter, but I did not know the
Coyotes were so afraid of you. Did you hang up some of their scalps so
that they could see them and know they would share the same fate as
their comrades if they did not keep away?"

I told her that the report of our guns told the Coyotes what to expect
if they came where the bullets would hit them. "But if my shooting
interferes with your dancing, I will be careful and not do any thing to
spoil the music."

She laughed and said, "Never you mind, Mr. Drannan, we are going to give
you a dance before many nights."

I answered that I only knew how to dance one kind of a dance, and that
was the scalp dance.

She said she had never seen a scalp dance, and said, "What is it like?"

Jim Bridger said, "When we have the next fight with the Indians, Will
and I will show you how it is done, that is providing the Indians don't
get our scalps, and if they do they will show you."

Jim said to me, "I don't think we will have any more trouble with the
Indians until we get to the sink of the Humboldt; it is about a hundred
miles from here. There is quite a strip of country through here that I
am afraid we will have a great deal of trouble in, for at this time of
the year all the game that is in the country seems to gather there, and
as the Indians always follow the game I am afraid there will be plenty
of them too. But we could not have a better scare crow than the scalps
we have scared the last two bands away with, and I think if we are
always successful in getting the train corralled before they come on us
we will get through in safety."

I answered, "Jim, if it is possible for me to prevent it, you will never
be surprised, for I and my men will keep a sharp look out for any signs
of Indians at all times, and if there is any danger, you will know it
as soon as we can get the news to you, for all the men under my control
seem to be the right stuff, and they want to do what is right and for
the best interest of all the train."

Jim answered, "I know I can trust you, Will, to do all in your power to
get this train through in safety. I have every confidence in you. If I
had not had, I should not have undertaken such a dangerous business as
we are engaged in. But it stands us both in hand to be always on the
lookout for danger, for we can never tell when the red friends may
pounce on us when we are anywhere near them."

Monday morning we were up and ready to take to the road early, feeling
in good spirits after our rest over Sunday. I asked Jim if we could make
Sand Creek by night. He answered, "Yes, we have got to if we are to
reach the sink of the Humboldt tomorrow."

We broke camp and pulled out. Everything worked smoothly until we had
nearly reached Sand Creek, where we were to camp that night, when the
two scouts that guarded the north side of the train discovered a large
band of Indians coming in our direction. They reported their discovery
to me at once. I put spurs to my horse and rode out where I could see
the Indians myself. After I had gone about two miles or so I came in
sight of them, and I saw that the men were right. The Indians were
making directly to the spot where I thought the train was, and I
realized that there was no time to lose in getting word to Jim.

As soon as I got near the road I signaled all the scouts to come to me,
and in a few minutes, they were with me. I sent them all to the train to
help Jim, except two which I kept with me. We three rode out to the spot
where we could see the Indians. When we got in sight of them, they were
within a mile of the train, and I knew that the time for action had
come, and wheeling our horses we made for camp at a pace that would
surprise the readers of today. I told Jim that the Indians were upon us,
but there was no need to tell him this, as he had seen us coming and
suspected the news we were bringing and had ordered the train corralled
before we reached camp, and I do not think a train was ever got into
shape to resist the savages quicker or with less excitement than that
train was that day. And we were none too quick, for the Indians were in
sight of us as soon as we were ready for them. At this spot our trail
led down a little valley. Consequently, when the Indians hove in sight
they were not more than a hundred yards from the corral.

I sang out, "What do you say, Jim? Let's form in line and give them a

Jim shouted, "Every man form in a line and shoot, and be sure you hit
your mark."

By this time there were as many as two hundred Indians in sight, and
every gun seemed to go off at once. At that moment Jim cried, "Every man
pull your pistol and shoot as loud as you can, and let us make a dash on
them." And every man in the train did as Jim told them to, and it surely
had a good effect on the savages, for they wheeled and fled as fast as
their legs could carry them in the direction they had come. We found
twenty-seven dead Indians all laying close together, and it did not take
us long to take their scalps off. When we had finished this job, Jim
made the remark that he had scalps enough now to protect the train all
the way to California.

As it was yet about three miles to our camping ground, I told my scouts
what to do, and then I told Jim that I meant to follow the Indians alone
and see where they went to and not to expect me back until he saw me,
for I intended to see those Indians go into camp before I left them,
if it took me until midnight to do it, for if I did this I could tell
whether they meant to give us any more trouble or not.

Jim told me where to look for the camp when I wanted to find it, and I
left them, on a mission the danger of which I do not think one of my
readers can understand, but which at that time I thought very little

I had followed the trail of the Indians but a short distance before I
was convinced that there were a great many wounded in the band, for
there was so much blood scattered all along the trail. I had followed
the trail about five miles when I came to a high ridge, and on looking
down on the other side I saw what looked to me like two or three hundred
camp fires, and from the noise I heard I thought that many that I had
thought to be wounded must be dead, for it was the same sound that I had
often heard the squaws make over their dead. I decided by the appearance
of the camp that I had discovered the main camping ground of the
Indians. On deciding this in my mind, I hurried back as quickly as I
could to tell Jim. When I reached camp, supper was just over. After I
had looked after my horse, I went into the camp, and a lady met me and
invited me to her tent, saying she had kept some supper warm for me and
had been on the lookout for me to come back, and the reader may rest
assured I was hungry enough to accept the invitation and to do ample
justice to the good things the kind lady had saved for me.

While I was eating, Jim came to me and asked what I had discovered. I
told him of the big Indian camp I had found at the foot of the ridge,
which was probably five or six miles from where we were then in camp,
and I told him of the noise the squaws had made too. He said, "Well, I
will bet my old hat that we won't have any more trouble with them, for
when they come back to get their dead warriors in the morning and find
them without their scalps, they won't follow us any farther."

So feeling safe to do so, everyone except the guards turned in for the
night. The night passed without anything happening to disturb us. Next
morning I got up early and mounted my horse and went to the place where
we'd had the fight to see if the dead Indians had been taken away. I
found that they had all been taken away during the night. I got back to
camp in time for breakfast. I told Jim that I had been to see about the
Indians we had killed the day before, but I found no bodies there and
supposed the squaws had taken them away in the night.

Jim jumped up and clapped his hands together and said, "Good, good, we
will not have any more trouble with these Indians, and I don't believe
we will have any more fights with the Indians this side of the Sierra
Nevada mountains, for the news of our scalping so many of the Indians
will fly from tribe to tribe faster than we can travel, and you may be
sure they all will be on the lookout to avoid meeting us."

Everything moved quietly for the next three days, and we made good
progress on our journey.

The night before we reached the sink of the Humboldt, while we were at
supper about a dozen ladies came to Jim and me. One of them said with a
smile, "Mr. Drannan, we have two favors to ask of you."

Jim looked up at them, and seeing that there was mischief in their eyes,
he said, "Say, gals, can't I have one of them?"

The lady that had spoken to me said, "I am afraid neither of them would
suit you, Mr. Bridger."

I then asked her what I could do for them. She answered that they would
like to have some more fresh meat, but that they did not want any more
such music as had accompanied all that they had had before, but if I
could supply the meat without the music it would be a great favor as
well as a treat. I said, "What kind of meat do you prefer, ladies?" She
answered that they were not particular, any kind that was good.

Jim said, "Well, how will Coyote do you? That kind of meat will answer a
double purpose. I-t will satisfy your hunger, and then you can howl the
same as they do."

She answered, "Now Mr. Bridger, you know that Coyotes are not fit to
eat. Are they not a species of a dog?"

Jim replied, "Yes, they are, and dog is the Indians' favorite meat, and
that is the kind of meat you will have to eat when you go to live with
them, so you had better learn to eat it now."

She said she was pretty sure that she didn't want to neighbor with the
Indians, and she didn't want any dog meat either.

I told her that I would try and get some kind of fresh meat for them
between then and night.

"It may be Elk or it may be Buffalo or it may be Antelope."

She said, "What kind of an animal is an Elk?"

I told her that an Elk was about as large as a cow and equally as good
meat, and all the ladies said, "Well, well, wouldn't we like to have

I told them that I wouldn't promise for sure, but I thought I could get
some fresh meat for supper tomorrow night.

The next morning my scouts and I were off early. I told them before we
started that we must keep two objects in view that day. One object was
to look out for Indians, and the other was to look for camp.

"We are in a game country, and there is plenty of Elk and Buffalo, and
the first man that sees a band of either kind must signal to the others,
and we will all get together and see if we can get enough to supply the
camp for a day or two at least."

We had gone perhaps five or six miles when I heard a signal from the
south. I got to it as quickly as possible, and as pretty a sight awaited
me as I ever saw in the way of game. Down in a little valley just below
the man that had signaled to the rest of us were about fifty Elk cows
feeding, and there were also a few calves running and jumping around
their mothers. As soon as all the men got there, I began to plan how we
could get to them and kill some of them before they saw us. They were
feeding towards the road, and they were not more than a quarter of a
mile from it when I first saw them. A little ways from us there was
a little ravine which was covered with brush, and it led down to the
valley where the Elk were feeding. I told the men that we would hitch
our horses and then crawl down the ravine, and I thought we could get
a few of them before they could get away from us. All the men were as
anxious to get the game as I was. I took the lead, and when we got down
to the valley the Elk were only a short distance from us. I said, "Now
wait until they feed opposite us, and then they will not be over fifty
yards from us, and as I am to the right I will take the leader and each
man in rotation as they come to him. In doing this way we will be sure
to each get an Elk as not two of us will fire at the same animal, and if
they are not too far from us after we have fired our rifles, let us pull
our pistols and try to get some more."

When the Elk had got near enough to us, I gave the word to fire, and
down came twelve Elk cows, and then we went for them with our pistols,
and we got five calves, and so we knew we had plenty of meat to supply
the camp for a day or two.

I sent one of the men back to meet the train and to tell Jim what we had
done, and told him to send all the help he could so we could get the
meat to the train as quickly as possible, and the rest of us commenced
to skin the animals. In a short time there were forty or fifty men
there, and it did not take long to finish the job, and we had the
meat on the way to the wagons. About the time we had got the meat all
dressed, several ladies came with sacks in their hands. I asked them
what part of the animal they wanted. They said they wanted the livers
and the hearts. This was a new idea to me. I asked them what they were
going to do with them. One of the women said, "We want you and Mr.
Bridger to take supper with us tonight, and we will show you what we
have done with them then."

In a short time we had the meat to the train and each family had their
share. Jim said he did not think he had lost over twenty-five minutes
time in waiting for that meat.

The train proceeded on now without any more stops towards the place
where we were to camp that night at the sink of the Humboldt. We reached
the camping ground quite a little while before sundown, and we certainly
had selected an ideal place to camp. A beautiful pearling stream of
water, plenty of wood and any amount of grass met our eyes as we came to
the place to stop. In a few minutes we had the stock out to grass and
the women were busy cooking supper. Jim and I took a walk down towards
the Sink, and as we were coming back we had got near the wagons when a
couple of girls came to meet us and said, "We want you two to come and
eat supper with us. Our two families got supper together tonight." Jim
said, "Have you got something good to eat?"

One said, "You may just bet we have; we have got Elk roasted and fried
Elk calf and fried liver. Isn't that something good?"

Jim said it sounded good and we would go and see for ourselves.

When we got to the tent Jim said, "These girls told us that you had
invited us to eat supper with you; that you had some stewed dog, and as
that is our favorite dish we thought we would accept the invitation."

One of the girls cried, "Oh Mr. Bridger, we didn't tell you any such

Jim answered, "Oh, excuse me, girls. I thought you were going to have
something good for supper, so of course all I could think of was dog."

We had a fine supper, and as fried liver was a new dish to Jim and me,
we ate heartily of that, and we thought it was beyond the ordinary.
It seems to me now in thinking of those days that people had better
appetites then for hearty food than they have now; at least it is so in
my case. The reason may be that we lived in the open air both day and
night, and the air of that western climate was so pure and clear and
free from all the different scents that impregnate it now. The amount
of food that each person ate at that time would surprise the people of

After supper Jim told the girls that they would not get any music to
dance to tonight, so they had just as well turn in and have a good
night's sleep.


The next morning we had an early breakfast and were on our journey in
good season. Nothing of interest occurred to us until we reached where
the city of Reno now stands, which is in the western part of what is now
the state of Nevada.

We were about to go into camp on the bank of the Truckee river when I
looked off to the north and saw a band of Indians, and they were heading
directly for the train.

They were probably a mile away from us when I saw them. I reported to
Jim at once, and he was not long in corralling the train, and he made
the largest display of scalps that I had ever seen then or ever have
since. It looked as if every wagon had a scalp hanging on it.

Apparently the Indians did not notice the decorations on the wagons
until they were within three or four hundred yards of them, and the
sight seemed to take them by surprise.

[Illustration: Fishing with the girls.]

All at once the whole band stopped, and of all the actions ever an
Indian performed that band did it. Jim said, "Will, do you think you can
reach them with your rifle?"

I answered that I thought not at that distance, but I said, "My men and
I will get nearer to them and give them a scare anyway."

I called my scouts to follow me out to a little bunch of timber, and we
all fired at them at once. Whether we hit any Indians or not I never
knew, for they wheeled their horses and fled, and if any of them were
killed or wounded the others did not leave them, and we saw no more of
that band, but they left three horses laying on the ground, which showed
us that our bullets had done a little execution.

We now settled into camp for the night. Jim told the emigrants as it was
Saturday evening we would lay over here until Monday morning, and he
told them that all who liked to have a good time fishing could enjoy
themselves to their hearts' content, for this stream was full of
Mountain Trout, and he added, "They are beauties."

Both men and women asked what kind of bait to use to catch them. We told
them that grass hoppers or crickets was good bait for Mountain Trout,
and both of these insects were numerous around the camp.

It was very amusing to me to see the girls run to their mothers to ask
if they could go fishing the next day. They were as excited as if they
were asking to go to some great entertainment.

It being Sunday morning and as there was no danger from the Indians, I
did not get up very early. Jim and I occupied the same tent together,
which was the blue sky above us and the ground beneath us, a bed that I
have no doubt the reader will think a not very desirable one, but rolled
in our blankets, a bed on the soft moss with the trees waving over us
was as good a bed as Jim and I cared to have, and our sleep was as sound
and restful as if we were laying on a bed of down.

When Jim arose in the morning, he gave me a shake and said, "Wake up,
Will. We are going to have fish, for everyone in the camp is hunting
grass hoppers," and it was really an amusing sight to see, for everyone,
as Jim had said, was running, trying to catch grass hoppers. Both men
and women were racing about like children.

Jim and I had started to go to the river to take a wash when a little
girl came running to us saying, "Papa wants you to come and eat
breakfast with us, for we have got fish for breakfast."

Jim said, "All right, sissy, but I am afraid you haven't got enough fish
to go around."

She said, "Oh yes we have, for papa caught fifteen this morning, and
they are all great big ones."

So we did not go to the river but went with the little girl to her
father's tent and washed there, and sure enough, there was enough fish
for all the family and Jim and me and some left over.

The man laughed and said to Jim, "Mr. Bridger, you made the right remark
when you said that the river was full of fish. I have been fishing all
my life, and I never saw so many fish at one time as I saw this morning.
I went down to the river about daylight, and I caught fifteen fish, and
I don't think I was over fifteen minutes in catching them, and I believe
they will average two pounds to a fish, and they are as luscious as I
ever tasted in the way of fish."

I asked him if this was his first experience in eating Mountain Trout.
He said it was, but he hoped it would not be his last, and said, "Can
you tell me why they have such an extra flavor?" I said, "Certainly,
I can. There is no stream in the world that has purer water than the
Truckee river, and do you see that snowcapped mountain yonder?" and I
pointed to a mountain at the south west of us which was always covered
with snow at the top. "This stream is surrounded with mountains like
that, and the water is cold the year around, no matter how hot the
weather may be, and that is the secret of the fine flavor of the fish
caught in it."

And here I must say that, although I had eaten Mountain Trout many times
before that morning, I never enjoyed a meal more than I did this one. As
I finished eating, six young girls came to the tent and asked me if I
was going fishing. I said I had thought of going. They asked if they
could go with me, I said, "Certainly, you can if you wish to, but I
shall have to go out and hunt some bait before I can go."

One of them said, "We have enough grass hoppers to last us all day, and
we will share them with you for bait."

I answered, "Well, we will go up the river a little ways to those rocks
yonder," and I pointed up the stream.

When we got opposite the rocks which were in the middle of the stream, I
helped each of the girls to a place by herself and then took a place on
a rock myself, but I could not do anything for laughing at the girls. I
told them they would scare all the fish out of the river. In a moment
one of the girls caught a fish on her hook, but he struggled so hard
that she could not pull him out of the water, and she cried for me to
come and help her to land him. I got to her as quickly as I could and
took the fish out of the water, and it was the largest trout I had ever
seen, and I did not wonder the girl could not land him, for he made a
brave fight for liberty, and it was all I could do to capture him.

By this time it was a sight to look up and down the stream and see
the people that were fishing. Men, women and children, old and young,
seeming to be perfectly happy and to be having the time of their lives.

In about an hour they began to realize that more fish were being caught
than they could take care of, so everyone gathered their catch and went
back to camp. Some of the emigrants estimated that three thousand fish
had been caught that day by the entire crowd. I think the most of the
people had fish until they were tired of it. For the next two days we
had fish for every meal served in every way that fish could be cooked.

Monday morning we pulled out from this camp bright and early for Honey
Lake. We made the trip in two days, which was as we considered very good
time, and we did not see an Indian on the way or a fresh sign of them.

When we reached Honey Lake and saw that there were no signs of Indians
there Jim said to me that there would be no more trouble with the
Indians, and if we could convince the emigrants of this fact we need not
go further with them.

I told him I did not think it would be best to mention to the emigrants
any change in the contract we had made with them when we started on
the trip, that we had better go on with the train until we crossed the
Sierra Nevada Mountains, as we had engaged to do.

Jim thought it over a few minutes, and then he said, "I guess you are
right, Will, for they might think we wanted to shirk our duty in leaving
them here, although I am sure there will be no more danger to guard them

Everything moved on without anything to interfere with our progress
for the next four days, and by that time we had crossed the top of the
Sierra Nevada Mountains.

After we had eaten our supper the night after crossing on the other side
of the mountains, Jim shouted that he wanted to talk to everybody for
just a few minutes, and in a few minutes all the people of the train,
men, women, and children, were around us thick.

Jim then said to them, "I wanted to speak to you together to tell you
that all danger to this train is passed, there will be no more Indians
to molest you, and you are perfectly safe to continue on your journey
without fear of being troubled by them. Tomorrow night we will camp in
the Sacramento Valley, and being sure that we can leave you in perfect
safety, our contract with the people of this train will be closed, and
we will leave you the next morning. There is one thing I am sorry for,
though, and that is we can't furnish any more music for a farewell dance
with the ladies before we leave them."

This joke created a laugh all around and brightened the faces of the
older people, for we had shared in and protected them from too many
dangers for the thought of separation from us not to sadden the faces of
the older members of the train.

Mr. Tullock, one of the committee, got upon a chair and said, "I want to
ask if there is a person here in this company can realize what these two
men have done for us in the seven weeks they have been with us. I for
one know for a certainty that if we had not met them, and they had not
accompanied us on the dangerous journey we have almost finished, not one
of this large company would have been alive today. I will acknowledge
that I have no doubt that all the rest of you thought them to be
barbarians when they took the scalps off those first Indians' heads, but
the events that followed showed their knowledge of their business
and also of our ignorance in Indian warfare for that what we thought
barbarism was the means of saving some, if not all our lives. Now I will
tell you what I propose doing. I am going to write a recommendation for
each one of these men, and I want every one of you to sign it."

It sounded as if every one in the crowd said at once, "I'll sign it."

When Mr. Tullock stepped down, Jim took his place on the chair and
said to the people, "I want you all to distinctly understand that Will
Drannan and myself do not think we have done anything but our duty to
the people of this train, and I want to thank all the men that have
helped me to protect the train when the savages were upon us. You all
showed that you were brave men and willing to obey orders, which, I will
tell you now, is a rare thing among so many men, and Will tells me that
he had the best men as scouts to help him that he has ever had, that
everyone tried to do his duty. So it seems to me that we have all done
our best to make the journey a success. Now let us get away from here
early in the morning, for I want to reach our camping ground in good
season tomorrow evening. We have quite a long drive before us tomorrow,
but as good luck is on our side it is all downhill."

We got an early start in the morning, and we landed at our camping place
about four o'clock in the evening, and I think there were as many as
twenty invited us to take supper with them that night. The last one was
from four young girls, who came to us together. One of them told Jim
that she wanted him and Mr. Drannan to come to their tent right away, as
supper was waiting. Jim answered that we didn't want any supper but told
her that if she would invite us to breakfast next morning and would
promise there would be enough to eat to fill us both for three or four
days, we would be glad to come and eat.

She answered, "All right, Mr. Bridger, I will get up before day and get
to cooking, so I shall be sure and have enough for you at least."

Jim and I now went to the tent of the people who had invited us first,
as had been our custom all through the journey. These were elderly
people who had one son and one daughter, both grown to man and
womanhood. While we were at supper the older woman asked how much bread
we could carry with us. Jim said we would like enough to last us three
or four days, and he thought three loaves like the ones on the spread
would be enough.

She said, "Why, Mr. Bridger, everybody is making bread, and cooking meat
for you to take with you."

Jim said, "Why, my good woman, we can kill all the meat we want as we
need it, and three loaves of bread is all we can carry on our horses
with our other stuff."

The first thing in the morning the girls we had promised to eat
breakfast with were after us to come to their tent, and we found a fine
meal waiting for us.

Jim said, "Now ladies, you know that in going back, Will and I have to
go over a very dangerous road, and we won't have time to cook in the
next three or four days, so we calculate to eat enough to last us till
we get to the Sink of the Humboldt, and that will take us three or four
days, so in our accepting your invitation to take our last breakfast on
this trip with you we may make you twice glad."

The elder woman smiled and told the girls they had better be frying some
more meat. Jim looked around the spread and told the girls he guessed
they had better wait till we had eaten what was before u, before they
cooked more, and there certainly was enough food before us for as many
more as sat around it, and although it was spread on a cloth laid on the
ground, I have never partaken of a breakfast served on the finest table
that tasted as good as that one did that morning.

We had almost finished eating when the elder lady said, "Girls, pass
that cake around."

Jim said, "Is there cake too? I'm not used to eating cake, only on
Sunday mornings, and this is Saturday."

I told the girls that Jim hadn't seen any cake since we left Fort
Kerney, and that if she wanted any left for themselves they had better
not pass the plate. She answered, "There is aplenty, and I have a great
big cake for you to take to eat on the road."

Jim said, "That won't do at all, for Will will want to stay in camp all
the time and eat cake until it is all gone."

As soon as breakfast was over, we caught our horses and began packing.
We each had two saddle horses, and we had one pack horse between us.
When we were leading up our horses, Jim said, "This is the worst job of
all, for all these women have a lot of grub cooked for us to take along,
and plagued take it, we have no room on the pack horses to put it. What
shall we do?"

I said, "We will take what we can pack, Jim, and we can thank the ladies
for their kindness, and tell them we are sorry we can't take all they
would give us, and then we can mount and be off."

Jim said, "That sounds easy."

When we were packing, sure enough, every one of the elder women and some
of the girls brought something for us to take with us to eat. Jim told
them that we were a thousand times obliged to them all, but we could not
take anything but a few loaves of bread, and then, as was usual, in his
joking way he said with a glance at me, "I know, Will feels bad to leave
that cake, and he will dream of seeing cakes for a week, but I can't
indulge him this time."

When Jim had done speaking, one of the girls, that we had taken
breakfast with handed him a small sack, and told him not to open it
until we camped that night. At this moment Mr. Tullock, came to us and
said, "Here, my friends, is a recommendation, and I think every grown
person in the train has signed their name to both of them, and all the
company have asked me to say a few words for them. If either or both of
you ever come to California, we want you to find some of us and make
your home with us as long as you wish, for you will always find a warm
welcome with any of this company."

I had been acquainted with Jim Bridger several years and this was the
first time I had ever seen him overcome with feeling. His voice shook so
he could hardly thank the people for their kind words and when it came
to shaking hands and biding them good bye, he almost lost his speech.

But it was over at last and we mounted our horses and left them. For
the first ten miles I don't think Jim spoke ten words. Finally he said,
"Well they were a good crowd of people, weren't they Will? If I ever go
to California and can find any of them, I mean to stay all night with
them, for it would be like visiting brother or sister."

We now began to calculate where we should camp that night. I said,
"Let's make a dry camp tonight, we can fill our canteen, and water our
horses at a stream that crosses the trail, and then we can ride on till
dark. In doing this way we will avoid the Indians and will not have to
guard against them in the night, for the Indians invariably camp near
the water."

We made a long ride that day and picked a nice place to camp that night.
As soon as we had unsaddled and unpacked our horses, I said, "Jim, I
will stake the horses if you will make a fire." When I came back from
attending to the horses, Jim said, "Look here, Will, see what them girls
gave me, but I guess they meant it for you."

And he showed me the sack which the girls had given him as we were
leaving them that morning. I looked into it and saw two large cakes and
a good-sized piece of roasted Elk calf. The reader may imagine how good
this nice food looked to two hungry men, and we surely did justice to
it. When we were eating, Jim made the remark that it would be many a
long day before we met with such a company again as those we had left
that morning. He said, "In nearly all large companies there are cranks,
either men or women, and sometimes both, but all that outfit were
perfect ladies and gentlemen, and they all seemed to want to do what was
right, and the men were all brave and the women were sensible."

The next morning we pulled out early, and we made good progress for five
days, making dry camps every night. Nothing occurred to disturb us until
we reached the Sink of the Humboldt. Here were Indian signs in every
direction. We knew we would be in the heart of the Ute country for the
next hundred miles, so we decided to do our traveling in the night and
lay over and rest in the daytime.

We picked our camping places off the trail, where we thought the Indians
would not be likely to discover us. The second night after we left the
Sink of the Humboldt, we crossed a little stream called Sand Creek, and
just off to the right of the trail we saw what we thought must have been
five hundred Indians in camp. Most of them were laying around asleep,
but a few were sitting at the fire smoking, and we succeeded in riding
past them without their noticing us. After we had got entirely away from
their camp fires, Jim said, "Will, we are the luckiest chaps that ever
crossed the plains, for if them Indians had seen us, they would have
filled our hides full of arrows just to get our horses, and I think we
had better keep on traveling in the night until we strike Black's Fork,
then we will be pretty near out of the Utes country."

When we got to Lone Tree on Black's Fork we lay over one day to let our
horses rest and to get rested ourselves.

It was a little before sunrise that morning when we reached Lone Tree. I
said to Jim, "Are you hungry?" He replied that he was too hungry to tell
the truth.

I answered, "All right, you take care of the horses, and I will get an
Antelope and we will have a fine breakfast."

Jim said, "Well, don't disappoint me, Will, for I am in the right shape
to eat a half an Antelope."

I took my gun and went up on a little ridge and looked over, and not a
quarter of a mile from me I saw a large band of Antelope, and I saw that
they were feeding directly towards me. I hid myself in a little bunch of
sage brush and waited until they fed up to within fifty yards of me. I
then fired and brought down a little two-year-old buck. I took him up,
threw him over my shoulder, and went back to Camp as fast as I could go.
When I reached there, Jim had a fire burning, and in a few minutes we
had the meat cooking. Jim made the remark that we had enough to do to
keep us busy all day, for when we were not eating, we must be sleeping,
for he was about as hungry as he ever was and so sleepy that he did not
dare to sit down for fear he would fall asleep without his breakfast.

After we had enjoyed a very hearty meal of meat and bread, for we ate
the last piece of bread that the ladies had given us that morning, we
smoked our pipes a few moments, and then we spread our blankets on the
ground under the only tree in ten miles of us, and we were soon lost to
everything in a sleep that lasted until near night. I did at least. When
I awoke I found Jim cooking meat for supper. When he saw that I was
awake, he said, "Come, Will, get up. We have had our sleep. Now we will
have our supper."

While we were eating, I asked Jim if we could make Green River tomorrow.
He said, "Yes, we must get out of here tomorrow morning by daylight.
Our horses will be well rested as we ourselves will be. We want to make
Green River tomorrow night and Rock Springs the next night. I consider
it is about eighty miles to Rock Springs from here, and we ought to make
it in two days."

The next morning we were up bright and early and were on our journey as
soon as we could see the trail. Nothing happened to disturb us, and we
reached Green River just before sunset. We crossed the river and went
into camp just above the Ford. We had just got our horses staked out
when we heard whips snapping and people's voices shouting.

Jim listened a moment and said, "What in thunder does that mean?"

I answered, "I think it is an emigrant train coming." Jim said, "By
jove if that is so, we will have to move from here and stake our horses
somewhere else, for no doubt they will want to camp right here, and if
there is much of a train, they will take all the room in this little

In a few minutes they hove in sight. Jim said, "Now, let's get to one
side and see if they have any system about their camping, and then we
will know whether it is worth while for us to apply for a job or not."

They did not seem to know that they were near a river by the way they
acted. Some of them would leave their wagons and run down to the stream
and run back again and talk with the others. Finally they discovered Jim
and me, and about twenty of the men came to where we were sitting. We
had started a fire and were waiting for it to get hot enough to cook our
meat for our supper, and it was certainly very amusing to watch their
faces. They looked at us as if they thought us wild men. We learned
afterwards that they had never seen anyone dressed in Buck Skin before.

After staring at us a while, one of them, an old man, said, "Where in
creation are you two men from?"

Jim answered, "We have just come from Sacramento Valley, California."

And did you come all the way alone?

Jim answered, "Yes sir, we did."

"Did you see any Indians?" he inquired.

Jim said, "Yes, about a thousand, I think."

"Did they try to kill you?"

"Oh, no," Jim said. "They were asleep when we saw them."

"Why, they told us back at Fort Kerney that the Indians never slept day
or night," the old man said.

Jim answered that they slept a little at night sometimes, and that was
the time we took to travel. We had traveled nearly all the way from
California to this place after night, and in some places where we
traveled over, the Indians were as thick as jack rabbits.

One of the men then inquired when we went to California.

Jim answered, "We left Fort Kerney about eight weeks ago and piloted
the biggest train of emigrants across the plains that has ever gone to
California, and we did not lose a person or a head of stock, but we got
a good many Indian scalps on the way."

One of the men then said, "Ain't you Jim Bridger and Will Drannan that
the commander at the Fort told us about?"

Jim replied, "That is who we are."

One of them then asked if we would pilot another train to California.

Jim answered, "I don't know. The Indians are getting so dog goned thick
that there is no fun in the job, but you folks go and get your supper,
and let us eat ours. We are dog goned hungry, for we haven't had a bite
since day-break this morning. You can come back here after supper, and
we will talk to you."

By this time there must have been a hundred men standing around us, but
when Jim told them that we wanted to eat our supper, they all scattered.
After they had left us, Jim said, "You get supper, Will, and I will go
and see whether there is any system about this outfit or not, and if
supper is ready before I get back, don't wait for me, for I may not get
back in half an hour or more."

I had got my meat on the fire and was just making the coffee when a
number of women, I should think about a dozen of them, came near me and
stopped and gazed at me. I bid them good evening and asked them to have
supper with me. One of them answered, "No, I came to ask you to come and
eat supper with us. My father sent me to invite you."

I thanked her and told her that as my own supper was nearly ready, I
would eat at my own camp. I had taken my Buck-skin coat off and laid it
on our pack. One of the women asked me if she could look at it. I told
her that she could if she wished to.

While they were looking at the coat and exclaiming over its beauty (it
was heavily embroidered with beads and porcupine quills, and was an odd
looking garment to one not accustomed to seeing the clothing of the
frontiers men), a couple of girls came running to me, saying, "Father
wants you to come and eat supper with us, Mr. Bridger is eating now." So
I took the meat and coffee off the fire and put my coat on and went with
them. When I got in speaking distance of Jim, I said, "I thought you
told me to cook supper." Jim answered, "I know I did Will, but we didn't
have any fried onions, and these folks have, so I thought we would eat
here and save our supper."

The people all laughed at Jim being so saving, and then the old man
asked what we would charge to pilot the train through to California. Jim
asked, "How many wagons have you in this outfit?"

He answered that he was not sure, but he thought there were about a
hundred and thirty-five.

"How many men are there in the train?" The old man said, "Oh, dog gone
it, I can't tell."

Jim said, "Have you got no Captain?"

The old man answered, "Why no, we haven't any use for a Captain."

Jim then said, "Well, I don't suppose they have any use for a commander
over at the Fort then. Suppose the Indians should make an attack on them
over there, and there was no Commander there, what do you think the
soldiers would do? I will tell you what would happen. The most of the
soldiers would be scalped, and it is the same way with a train of
emigrants if the Indians attack them and they have no leader or what we
call a Captain; they will all be scalped and in a mighty short time too.
Now you call the men together and come to our camp, and we will talk
this matter over, and then we will see if we can make a bargain with the

In a few minutes it seemed as if all the men and women of the train were
standing around our camp.

Jim said to them, "I want some man who is a good reader to read this
letter to the company."

And he held up one of the letters of recommendation given us by the
people of the train we had left a few days before. A middle-aged man
came forward and said, "I reckon I can read it; I am a school teacher by
profession, and I am used to reading all kinds of handwriting."

He took the letter, stepped up on a log and in a clear, loud voice read
it to the company. After he had finished reading it, the man handed the
letter back to Jim with the remark that it was a fine recommendation and
gave a character few men could claim.

Jim now told the emigrants that before we took charge of a train he
always had the men of the train select a committee from their number,
and this committee had the entire charge of the business in making
arrangements with us and all other matters that might take place on the
trip. "Now if you want us to pilot this train across to California, get
together and select your committee, and they can come to us and we will
talk business."

It was now nearly eleven o'clock at night, so Jim told the people that
we had traveled a long distance that day and were very tired, and he
thought we had better not make any bargain that night. We would go to
our rest, and in the morning they could tell us what they had decided
on. Next morning Jim and I were up very early, and so were the most of
the emigrants. We were building a fire to get our breakfast when one of
the emigrants came to us and invited us to take breakfast with him. He
said there had been a committee selected, that the men talked the matter
over after they left us the night before, and they chose five men to
make arrangements with us. "But as we did not go to bed until nearly
morning, I don't think they are all up yet," he said, smiling.

We went with him and found breakfast waiting for us. After we had
finished, two of the men came to us and said they were two of the five
who had been appointed to do business with us, and that the other three
would meet us at our camp in a few minutes. So Jim and I went back to
our camp, and in a very short time the five men were with us. One of
them asked us how much we would charge to pilot them to California. Jim
said, "How many wagons have you?"

He said, "We have ninety here now, and there will be twenty more here by

Jim asked, "How many men are there in the company?" They said they did
not know for certain but thought there would be about a hundred and
ninety. Jim said that we would take them across to California for five
dollars a day, which would be two dollars and a half for each of us.
"Providing you will promise to obey our orders in all things pertaining
to the protection of the train and also give us two days to drill the
teamsters and the scouts, but we will have to move on one day from here,
as there is no ground here that is fit to drill on."

One of the committee said, "We will give you an answer in twenty
minutes," and they went back to their camp, which was a hundred yards or
more from ours. Jim and I caught our horses and were saddling them when
the committee came back to us and told us we could consider ourselves

I now spoke for the first time, Jim having done all the talking before.
I said, "I want you men to select ten good men who own their horses. I
prefer young men who are good horsemen, for I want them to assist me in
doing scout work."

This seemed to surprise the men. One of them asked, what the young men
would have to do. Jim now spoke up in his joking way and said, "They
will find enough to do before we get to California. For example I will
show you what Will and his scouts have done on our last trip across." At
the same time he was untying the sack that held the Indian scalps we had
taken on our last trip to California. When he emptied the sack it
was amusing to us to see their faces. Their first expression was of
surprise, and the next was of horror. Jim took up one of the scalps and
shook it out and said, "Taking these is one of the things you young men
may have to do," and he continued, "These scalps which seem to give you
men the horrors to look at now, will be worth more than money to all the
people of this train, for they will save the lives of all of you, and
that is more than money could do in an attack by the Indians."

Some of the men wanted to know in what way the scalps would save them.
Jim answered, "Let us get on the road to our next camping ground, and I
will explain everything in regard to the protection of the train when we
get to drilling."

In a short time every thing was on the move, and we reached our place
to camp about four o'clock in the afternoon. Jim commenced to put the
numbers on the wagons as soon as we landed in camp in order to get to
drilling as early as possible in the morning. We had been in camp but a
short time when one of the committee men came to me and said, "We have
selected your men, Mr. Drannan. Come out, and I will introduce them to
you, and you can see if they would suit you, and if they do, you can
tell them what you want them to do."

We went outside the corral, and we found the ten men there with their
horses. I asked them if they all had rifles and pistols. They said they
had. I next asked them if they had ever practiced shooting off their
horses' backs, and they all said no, nor had ever heard of such a way
of shooting. I then said, "Now boys, it is too late in the evening to
commence practicing, but I want you all to meet me here after breakfast
in the morning, and have your horses and guns and pistols with you, and
you may make up your mind to do a hard day's work tomorrow."

That evening Jim and I had a talk by ourselves in regard to how much
time we should take to drill the men. Jim said, "Will, do you think you
can drill your men in one day so they will know enough to risk starting
out day after tomorrow?"

I answered, "I think I can, Jim."

He thought a moment and then said, "I don't like to hurry you in
training your men, Will, but you know it is getting late in the season,
and we have a long road to travel after we get these emigrants through
to California in order to get back home to Taos before the winter sets
in, and I have no doubt Kit will be looking for us long before we get

I said, "Jim, this will be my last trip as a pilot for emigrants."

Jim laughed and answered, "I thought this kind of business just suited
you, Will, for you are a favorite with the girls, especially when you
bring in scalps."

I answered, "The girls are all right, Jim, but there is too much
responsibility in such an undertaking, and besides, it is impossible to
suit everybody."

Jim answered, "There is a good deal of truth in what you say, Will. It
is not an easy job to please so many people all at once. We will hurry
this trip through as quick as possible and get them off our hands."

The next morning I was up early and met the men who were to be trained
to make scouts. We went to a little grove of timber about a quarter of
a mile from camp. I selected a small tree, probably a foot through,
dismounted and made a crossmark with my knife. I then asked the boys, if
they thought they could hit that cross with their guns or pistols with
their horses on the dead run. One of them said, "No, I don't know as I
could hit it with my horse standing still."

I answered, "But that is just what I must teach you to do if you are
ever to make a scout to guard against Indians or fight them. I will
mount my horse and go back to that little bunch of brush," and I pointed
to a bunch of brush that was perhaps a little more than a hundred yards
from the tree, "and all of you men follow me."

When we reached the brush, I turned my horse's head towards the tree I
had marked, and I then said, "Now boys, I am going to put my horse down
to his best speed, and I want you all to follow me and keep as close to
me as you can, and each man look out for his own horse when I commence
to shoot. At the same time keep your eyes on me, for I want each one
of you to take his turn in doing as I do, and I want you to repeat the
thing until you can hit the mark as I shall do."

I now started my horse at full speed, and before I had got to the tree
I had fired my second shot, and both balls struck near the cross, but I
was surprised, and I will not deny also amused, to see the way the boys
were trying to stop their horses; they were running in every direction
and appeared to be nearly frightened to death, and apparently their
riders had no control over them, but finally they checked them and rode
back to where I stood.

I said, "Boys, you certainly have your horses trained to run from the
Indians if you can't stop to fight them."

One of the boys said, "I never saw my horse act the fool as he has done

I said, "Now, which one of you are going to try it again first? Don't
all speak at once."

It was some minutes before anyone answered. At last one of them said, "I
will try it. Shall we all come down together as we did with you?"

I told him, "No, I want you to all to try it single-handed once and then
we will try it in groups of three, but if you are afraid you cannot
manage your horse, I will ride beside you."

He answered, "No, I have got to break him in to it, and I might as well
do it at the start."

So the others got out of his way, and he rode to the brush, wheeled his
horse, put the spurs to him and came at full speed. When within fifty
feet of the tree he fired his rifle and missed the tree but pulled
his pistol and made a good shot, and he did not have much trouble in
stopping his horse this time.

When he rode back to us, I showed him the hole where the bullet struck
it and told him he had done exceptionally well.

He said, "Can't I give it another trial?"

I said, "Not now. Best let everyone have a try first."

I saw that they were a little encouraged by the first one's success, so
I said, "Who comes next?"

One of them said, "I reckon it is me next," and he was on his horse in
a twinkle and off for the brush. This man was in a little too much of a
hurry; he shot too soon and missed the tree, which scared his horse, and
he turned and ran in an opposite direction, and the rider had all he
could do to attend to him so he did not fire his pistol at all. When he
came back the boys had a laugh on him.

He said, "All right, see that the balance of you does better."

They all gave it a trial, and out of the ten men only three hit the mark
with either rifle or pistol. Before we got through practicing, there
must have been as many as a hundred men from the camp watching the
performance. After each man had tried singly, I formed them in squads of
three, and they were more successful that way than they were alone from
the fact that their horses were getting used to the report of the guns.

The reader will understand that the drilling was done more for the
benefit of the horses than it was for the men, for many times if the
horses were unmanageable when in a fight with the Indians, the rider was
in a great deal more danger of being killed than he would have if he
could manage his horse.

As it was getting near noon I called it off until after dinner. When we
were near the corral going back to camp, I pointed to a large log that
was laying on the ground and told the boys to meet me there on foot,
and I would put them through another kind of a drill, which was more
essential for them to know than the one we had been practicing. One of
them said, "What can it be?"

I answered, "It is to learn to signal to each other without speaking
when you are in danger."

After dinner I had a talk with Jim in regard to how he was succeeding in
drilling his teamsters. He said they were doing fine and would be ready
to pull out in the morning. He said, "Will, these are not such people to
handle as the last train we drilled."

I said, "What makes you think so, Jim?"

He answered, "There are a few in this outfit who do not believe there
will be trouble with the Indians."

I answered, "Well, Jim, these are of the class that will not obey
orders, and they will get the worst of it, and no one can blame us."

When I went to meet the boys, they were all standing or sitting on the
fallen tree, waiting for me. I asked if they had ever heard a Coyote
howl. They said not until they heard them on this trip. Then I explained
to them, that the Indians were so used to hearing the Coyotes howl
that they took no notice of that kind of a noise day or night, so we
frontiers-men always used the bark or howl of a Coyote as a signal to
call each other together in times of danger. I then gave a howl that the
boys said no Coyote could beat, and in a couple of hours I had them all
drilled so they could mimic the Coyotes very well.

We went back to camp, got our horses, and put in the afternoon in
shooting at targets on horse back. Before we separated that evening, I
told the men what position I wanted each one of them to take when the
train was ready to move in the morning. I also told them they must
always meet me at the head of the train before we started the train
every morning to get their instructions for the day. Every one of the
ten seemed to be willing and ready to obey everything I asked them to


All was in readiness for the start on the road the next morning, and
we pulled out in good season. Every thing worked smoothly for the next
three days, and then we were in the Ute country, and there were also a
great many Buffalo scattered all through the country. I had seen some
signs of Indians, but up to this time I had seen only one small band of
them, and they were going in the opposite direction from the one we were

The evening of the third day, after we had eaten our supper, about
twenty men came to where Jim and I were sitting on a log having a smoke
and a private talk together.

One of them who seemed to be the leader said, "We want some Buffalo
meat, and we propose to go out and get some tomorrow. Now what do you
think about it?"

[Illustration: They raced around us in a circle.]

Jim said, "Which way do you think of going?" Pointing to the south, he
said, "We think of going down into those low hills not more than eight
or ten miles from the trail."

Jim answered, "I have no doubt you would find Buffalo and maybe kill
some, but I have grave doubt of your ever getting back alive."

The man said, "Do you think we would get lost?"

Jim answered, "Yes, I think you would, if the Indians shoot you full of
arrows and take your scalp off."

He answered, "We have got to find some Indians before they have a chance
to scalp us, and I don't believe there is an Indian out there, and we
are going hunting in the morning."

Jim answered, "All right, do just as you darned please, but I will tell
you this just here and now. When you go a half a mile from the train
without our consent, you will be out from under our protection, and we
shall not hold ourselves responsible for your lives."

They turned away from us, saying, "We will take the chances; we want
some Buffalo meat, and we are going to get it."

The next morning when the train pulled out twenty-three men left us,
mounted on their horses with their guns all in trim for a Buffalo hunt,
and four out of the twenty three was all we ever saw again either dead
or alive.

We pulled out, and everything moved on nicely all day. I saw a great
deal of Indian sign at various places during the day. About the middle
of the afternoon one of the scouts reported that he saw a band of
Indians off to the south. As soon as he reported this to me, I went with
him to the top of a high ridge where we could see all over the country,
and sure enough, there was a small band of Indians some two or three
miles south of our trail.

After watching them a few minutes, I saw that they were going from us,
so I knew that we were in no danger from that band.

We had to make an early camp that evening on account of water. It was
one of my duties to ride ahead of the train and look the country over
for signs of Indians to select a safe camping ground for each night,
although Jim and I always talked over the best place to camp the coming
night before we struck out in the morning.

That night I did not get in until Jim had the wagons all corralled. Jim
came to me as soon as I rode in and said, "Will, have you seen anything
of the men that went hunting this morning?"

I answered, "I neither saw or heard anything of them since I saw them
ride away this morning, but I will call my scouts together and ask them
if they have seen them during the day."

When I inquired of the men, I learned that they had not seen or heard of
them and had not even heard the report of a gun all day.

We had just finished eating supper that night when one of the committee
men came to us and said, "Don't you think you had better send out some
men to look for the party that went a hunting?"

Jim said, "I told those men not to go away from the train, that there
was danger of their losing their scalps if they left us, and I also told
them that if they went a half a mile from the train I should not be
responsible for them dead or alive. They answered that they did not
believe there was an Indian in the country, and that they would take the
chances anyway, and more than that, I would not know where to go to hunt
for them any more than you would, for the country for miles around is
like this, and I would be willing to bet anything that you will never
see them all again."

Dusk was settling down, and as the night came on and the hunters did not
come in, the excitement grew more intense. About twenty men came to me
and inquired if I knew what kind of a country the hunters would be apt
to go into. I answered that if they kept the course which they said they
intended to go, it would lead them to the Buffalo country and also into
the heart of the Indian country. One of them then asked me if I would
be willing to try to find the absent men if I had enough men with me to

I answered, "Why, my friends, it would be like hunting for a needle in
a haystack. You certainly do not understand the ways of the Indians. If
the Indians have killed those men, they will take the bodies with them
if they have to carry them a hundred miles. They will take them to their
village and spend two or three days in having a scalp dance, so you will
see how useless it would be to try to find them, and what is more to be
thought of, if we should stay here two or three days we should in all
probability be attacked by the Utes ourselves, and there is no knowing
how many of the people would be killed, or how much other damage would
be done."

It was getting towards bed time when four women came to me with their
faces swollen with tears. One of them said, "Mr. Drannan, do you think
our husbands have been killed by the Indians?"

I answered, "That is a question I can not answer, but I will say that I
hope they have not; they may have lost their course and in that way have
escaped the Indians."

While I was talking with the women, I heard the tramp of horses' feet
coming towards camp on the trail.

I said, "Listen, perhaps they are coming now." and we went to meet
the coming horsemen. There were four of them, and one of them was the
husband of the woman I had been talking to. When they came up to us, he
jumped off his horse and, clasping his wife in his arms he said, "Oh
Mary, I never expected to see you again."

In a few minutes everybody in camp was standing around those four men,
and they surely had a dreadful story to tell. They said, they did not
know how far they had ridden that morning when they sighted a band of
Buffalo in a little valley. They fired at them and killed four; they
dismounted and turned their horses loose and went to skinning their
Buffalo and had the hides nearly off of them when, without a sound to
warn them of danger, the Indians pounced upon them, and of all the
yelling and shouting that ever greeted any one's ears, that was the
worst they had ever heard, and the arrows flew as thick as hail.

"One of them struck me here," and he pulled up his pants and showed us a
ragged wound in the calf of his leg. After we had looked at the wounded
leg, he continued his story. He said, "As soon as I heard the first
yell, I ran for my horse and was fortunate in catching him. I think the
reason of we four being so lucky in getting away was that we were a
little distance from the others. We were off at one side, and we four
were working on one Buffalo, and lucky for us our horses were feeding
close to us. I do not believe that one of the other men caught his horse
as their horses were quite a distance from them, and the Indians were
between the men and their horses. The last I saw of them was their
hopeless struggle against the flying Indians' arrows.

"We had mounted and had run a hundred or two hundred yards when we saw
that four or five Indians were after us. They chased us two or three
miles. It seemed that our horses could outrun theirs, and they gave up
the chase, but in the confusion we had lost our course, and we did not
know which direction to take, and we have been all the rest of the day
trying to find the train, and we are just about worn but, and we are
hungry enough to eat anything, at least I am."

As it happened, Jim Bridger was standing near me when the man was
talking. The man turned and said to him, "Mr. Bridger, I hope all the
people of this train will listen to your advice from this night until we
reach the end of our journey. If we four men had done as you told us to
do, we would not have suffered what we have today, and the nineteen, who
I have no doubt have been scalped by the savages, would have been alive
and well tonight. There is no one to blame but ourselves. You warned us,
but we thought we knew more than you did, and the dreadful fate that
overtook the most of the company shows how little we knew what we were
doing in putting our judgment in opposition to men whose lives have been
spent in learning the crafty nature of the Red-men."

Jim answered, "I always know what I am saying when I give advice, and I
knew what would be liable to happen to you if you left the protection of
the train. This is the third case of this kind which has happened since
Will and I have been piloting emigrants across the plains to California,
and I hope it will be the last."

There was but little sleep in camp that night. Out of the nineteen men
that were killed, twelve of them were the heads of families, and the
cries of the widows and orphaned children were very distressing for Jim
and me to hear, although we were blameless. The next morning just after
breakfast the committee of five men came to Jim and me and said they
wanted to have a private talk with us.

Jim said, "All right," and we all went outside the corral. When we were
alone by ourselves, one of them said, "I want to have your opinion with
regard to hunting for the bodies of the men who are lost. Do you think
it possible to find their bodies if they were killed?"

Jim said, "No, I do not. In the first place, we do not know where to
look. In the second place, the Indians may have carried them fifty or
seventy-five miles from where they killed them. In the third place, we
do not know where the Indian village is or in what direction to look for
it, and if we should find the Indian camp, they may be so strong that we
would not dare to attack them, so you will see at once how useless it
would be for us to attempt to do anything in regard to finding their

One of the committee said, "Well, so you propose to pull out and go on?"

Jim said, "Yes, that is what I propose doing. For the next four hundred
miles we shall be in the worst Indian country in the West, and I want to
get this train through it as quickly as I possibly can."

The man answered, "It seems cruel to do it, but I suppose we must give
orders to get ready to move."

Jim replied, "Yes, we must be moving at once, for I cannot risk the
lives of the living to hunt for those who are dead."

We were on the road in less than an hour, the committee having told the
friends of the lost men what the consequences would be if they resisted
the idea of moving, and also the utter uselessness of trying to find
their friends dead or alive.

When the train was already to move, Jim rode down the whole length of
the wagons and told each man that he wanted every one of them to have
their guns and pistols loaded and ready for immediate action, for, he
told them, "We cannot tell at what minute we may be attacked by the
Indians, and if your guns were not ready for use, you would have a slim
chance of saving your own lives or the lives of those dependent on you."

Everyone seemed to understand the situation better than they ever had
before and promised to do as we had asked them to do. Everything moved
on satisfactory until about two o'clock in the afternoon, when one of
the scouts from the north side reported that a big band of Indians was
coming directly towards us. I spurred my horse to a run, and when we
reached a little ridge about a half a mile from the trail, I could see
them myself, and I could see that they were all warriors, for there
were no squaws or children with them, and I thought they would number a
thousand strong.

I sent my companion back to tell Jim what was in prospect for a
fight, and to be sure and have the Indian scalps hung up in the most
conspicuous places. I watched the Indians until they had got within a
half a mile of the trail, where they all stopped and huddled together
for several minutes. I decided they were planning the attack, for when
they started, they went directly for the train, which fact convinced me
that the Indians had had a scout out as well as I had, and that he had
been a little sharper than I was.

I now signaled for all the scouts to get to the train at once, and the
reader can rest assured that not one of them including myself was long
in getting there.

We found everything in readiness to receive the Indians. We rode inside
the corral of wagons and dismounted. I told my men to follow me. We went
to the head of the train, which was but a short distance. I placed eight
men under two wagons, four to a wagon, and took the other two with me to
the next wagon. I told them to lay flat on the ground, and when I cried
"fire" for each one to shoot and to be sure that he got his Indian.

When the savages got in sight of the wagons, they were probably a
hundred and fifty yards from them, and to my surprise they all stopped.
I had forgotten the scalps that Jim had hung up, but of course the sight
of them hanging on the top of the wagons stopped them, but they did not
stop longer than a few minutes. Then they began circling around the
wagons. I could see that there were two war chiefs with the outfit. I
knew this by their dress, for a war Chief always wears what is called a
bonnet. It is made of feathers taken from the wings and tails of eagles
and reaches from their head almost to their heels.

When they started to circle around the wagons, I said to the boys who
were with me under the wagon, "Now you watch that old red sinner who has
the lead. I am going to shoot at him, but I do not know as I can hit
him, he is so far away, but if I can get him we have won the battle."

They answered, "Fire away, and if you miss we will try our hand at him."

I drew a bead at the top of his head, and when the gun cracked I saw
that I had hit him. One of the boys cried, "You have hit him," and at
that moment he swayed and tumbled from his horse. The report of my gun
seemed to be a signal for the whole train to fire, and for the next
minute the noise of the guns was terrific. While they all did not hit an
Indian, they did fairly well for men in an Indian battle for the first
time. There were forty-two dead Indians left on the ground, and as the
report of the last gun died away, the Indians turned their horses and
fled in the opposite direction, and I ran to the old Chief to get his

I had just finished taking his scalp after taking his bonnet off when
Jim Bridger and quite a crowd of the other men came running up to me.
Jim said, "Did you do that, Will?" I answered, "I did," and then one of
the boys who were with me under the wagon said, "Mr. Drannan sure shot
him, for he told us to see him get him, and at the report of his gun,
Mr. big Chief went to the Indians' happy hunting grounds."

Jim slapped me on the back and said, "That is the best shot you ever
made, Will, for that bonnet and that scalp will protect this train from
here to California without another shot being fired." I said, "You can
have this bonnet to use for a scare crow, Jim, but be sure and take good
care of it, for I want to keep it as a memento of this trip."

I then asked Jim if he were going to take the scalps off of the other
dead Indians. He said, "No, we have scalps enough now to protect the
train, and that is all we want. Besides, we haven't time; we must go on
to our camping ground, we have fifty or sixty miles to drive before we
can camp for the night."

As we were pulling out, I said to the scouts, "We are in the Buffalo
country, and there will be no more trouble with the Indians; let us try
to get some fresh meat for supper." I knew that we would camp near a
little stream a few miles from where we had the fight, and also that it
was a great feeding ground for Buffalo at this time of the year. When
we were within a quarter of a mile of the stream, where we were to camp
that night, we saw that the valley was covered with Buffalo. I sent all
but one of the men down a little ravine to the valley. I told them to
dismount and tie their horses just before they got to the valley and to
crawl down and each one get behind a tree at the edge of the valley, and
I and the other men would go around to the head of the valley and scare
the Buffalo, and they would run down to where they were in hiding. I
told the men to be sure and not shoot until the Buffalo started to run,
and then to shoot all they could get with their guns, and when they had
emptied them to use their pistols.

"Let us give the women and children a surprise tonight in giving them
all the fresh Buffalo meat they can eat."

Myself and companion rode around to the head of the valley, and when we
reached the top of the ridge, we looked down and saw hundreds of Buffalo
feeding. We spurred our horses to a run, and in a moment we were in the
midst of them, and it certainly was a grand sight to see that immense
herd on the stampede, as they all rushed down to the outlet where the
boys were waiting for them. In a few moments we heard the report of
guns, and we knew that the other boys, were getting the meat for supper.
I told my comrade to pick out his Buffalo and I would pick mine, and I
said to him, "Now don't shoot until you get near the other boys, and if
you want to kill him quick, shoot him through the kidneys." When I had
reached the mouth of the valley where the Buffalo had crowded together
in one big mass, I chose a two-year-old heifer, rode up to her side
and shot her through her kidneys, and she fell at my horse's feet with
hardly a struggle. I pulled my pistol and shot another one and broke its
neck. My comrade had picked a big cow, and she was the fattest Buffalo
I ever saw killed. The other boys had killed twelve, and we got three,
making fifteen in all, and what was best of all, the Buffalo all
lay near to where Jim had corralled the wagons. As the wagons were
corralled, I went to one of the committee and told him that my scouts
and I had killed fifteen Buffalo and asked him to send some of the
men of the train to help dress them and to divide the meat so all the
emigrants could have some fresh meat for their supper, and in a short
time I saw men and women with their arms full of meat, hurrying to their
camp fires.

Jim and I were sitting on a wagon tongue talking as we usually did every
evening when two little girls came running to us and said their papa
wanted us to come and eat supper with them. We went with the children to
their father's tent, and we found an appetizing meal waiting for us. Jim
and I had not tasted any fresh meat since starting out with this train
of emigrants at Green river. When we sat down, Jim said, "Lady, I am
afraid you will be sorry that you invited Will and me to supper, for you
may not have meat enough to go around. We have not had any fresh meat in
a dog's age, and we are big meat eaters any time." She answered, "Oh,
don't be uneasy. I have two pans full on the fire cooking now. I know
how much it takes to fill up hungry men, and you two are not the only
hungry men around this camp, and you may be sure we appreciate the feast
you planned to surprise us with"; and she turned to me with a smile.
"You see, Mr. Drannan, the boys told me all about your suggesting the
Buffalo hunt."

I answered that the meal she had set before us would pay for more than I
had done. Her husband said, "It has surely been a great benefit to all
the people of the train, for we were all suffering for fresh meat, and
you don't know how much we appreciate your thoughtfulness in providing
it for us."

As I left the tent where I had supper, about a dozen middle-aged ladies
came to me and said, "We would like to see that pretty thing you took
off that Indian."

I did not know what they meant by "A pretty thing" until Jim said, "Why,
Will, they want to see that war bonnet you took with the old chief's

I went to our pack and got the bonnet and gave it to them, and for the
next two hours that Indian adornment was the talk of the camp. It was
carried from tent to tent, examined by nearly everyone, old and young,
in the whole emigrant train, and it was a curiosity to any white person,
and still more so to those not used to the Indians' way of adorning

Jim explained to the emigrants why this piece of Indian dress in our
possession would be a protection to them in case of an attack on us
by the Indians; he said, "The Indians have no fear of being killed in
battle. Their great dread is of being scalped. They believe that if
their scalps are taken off their heads in this world, they will not be
revived in the next, or what they call the "Happy Hunting grounds of the
Indians," where they will dwell with the great spirit forever, and if
they should see this bonnet which none but a great chief can wear they
will think we must be powerful to have got it and will keep away from
us, fearing they may share the fate themselves."

Jim told the emigrants to be ready for an early start in the morning,
and then we separated for the night, the emigrants going to their tents
and Jim and I to lay our blankets under a tree.

Next morning after we had a hearty breakfast of cornbread and Buffalo
steak, Jim said, "Now, men and women, Will gave you all a treat in
Buffalo meat last night, but if all goes well, and we meet with nothing
to detain us, in one week from tonight I will give you a treat that will
discount his."

An old lady answered, "You must be mistaken, Mr. Bridger, for nothing
could taste better then the chunk of meat I broiled over the fire last

Jim laughed and said, he would own up to the last night's supper being
extra good but asked how she thought Mountain Trout would taste. She
said she did not know, as she had never tasted any; Jim said, "Well,
you will know in a week from tonight, and you will say that my treat is
better than Will's, for Mountain trout is the best fish that ever swam
in the water."

We were on the road soon after sunrise the next morning, and everything
went well for the next three days. The third day's travel brought us
to Humboldt Well. As we were going into camp, I discovered a band of
Indians coming directly for the train. I notified Jim at once, and he
soon had the train corralled, and the chief's bonnet hung high above the
Indian scalps so all the Indians could see it. The savages seemed to
discover the bonnet and the scalps as soon as they saw the train, for
they stopped and came no nearer, and after gazing at the decorations on
the wagons a few moments they wheeled their horses and galloped away in
the same direction they had come, and we saw no more of them. As soon as
the Indians disappeared Jim slapped his hands and said, "Didn't I tell
you the effect that bonnet would have on the Red Skins? And I don't
think we will have to shoot another Indian on this trip, for they will
not get close enough to us for us to get a show to hit them."

The second day from this camp we reached Truckey river, and it happened
to be Saturday, and Jim told the emigrants that this was the place where
he proposed to outdo Will in the way of a treat and told them that
everyone who could catch a grasshopper could have a mess of fish for
supper, as the river was swarming with the speckled beauties, and it
was really amusing to see the old of both sexes as well as the children
running in every direction, catching the little hopping insects.
Everyone seemed to be of one mind, what they were going to have for the
evening meal, for they were all on the margin of the river, and Jim and
I staid with the wagons and watched the crowd which was great amusement
for us, for they were all so excited. But our fun did not last long. In
a few minutes the crowd commenced to come back with their bands full of
fish; one woman passed us with two little girls. She had about a dozen
fish, and the children had their hands full too. She said, "Come, Mr.
Bridger, I want you and Mr. Drannan to eat supper with us tonight, and
after we get through I will tell you which treat is the best, Buffalo or
Mountain Trout."

Jim told her she hadn't got half enough fish for him, not reckoning the
members of her own family. She said, "Don't you be uneasy about not
having enough. My man will come back in a few minutes, and he will have
enough to make out the supper, I reckon."

We went with her to her tent and helped to clean the fish, and it was
not long before the appetizing meal was ready. While Jim and I were
cleaning the fish that the woman and children had caught, the man came
back, and he had fifteen of the handsomest trout I had ever seen on a
string. He greeted us with a laugh and said this was the first stream he
had ever seen where a man could take a long-handled shovel and pitch out
all the fish he had a mind to. "It is wonderful to think of the amount
of fish that has been taken out of that stream, and they would not be
missed if we wanted more."

Jim said, "If you could stay here and fish a week, they would be just
as thick when you got through as they are now, and will be until the
spawning season is over."

That night Jim suggested that we get up a party and go over on Truckee
Meadows and kill some Antelope tomorrow.

I said, "All right, Jim, that is the greatest feeding ground for
Antelope of any I have seen. I will go and speak to my scouts now, and
we may get a party so we can start early in the morning."

I hunted my men up and told them what Jim and I thought of doing, and
they were delighted with the idea. They said that every man in the
outfit that owned a horse and gun would be glad to go with us. I told
them to see everyone that they thought would like to or could go and for
them to meet us at the head of the corral right after breakfast in the

Next morning Jim and I went to the place agreed upon. We were mounted
and had our guns all ready for business, and in a few minutes there were
forty-three men all mounted and anxious to go with us on the hunt for

Jim told them that the hunting ground was eight or ten miles away from
camp, and he said, "I will guarantee that you will see a thousand
Antelope today. Now we will all travel together until we begin to see
the Antelope."

The place called Truckee Meadows was about twenty miles long and ten
miles wide and very level and covered with the tallest sage brush in all
the country around and with an abundance of fine grass. We crossed the
Truckee river just below where the city of Reno now stands, and then
we struck out south east, Jim and I taking the lead and the others
following us.

When we were about five miles from camp, I discovered a band of
Antelope. They were probably a half a mile from us, and they were
feeding in a northeasterly direction. I called Jim's attention to them
at once. After he got a good look at them, he said, "I will bet my old
hat that there is a thousand Antelope in that band."

We stopped our horses and waited for all the crowd to come up to us, and
Jim pointed to the Antelope, saying, "There is your game. Did you ever
see a prettier sight? Now my friends, I want every one of you to have an
Antelope across your saddle when we go back to camp. It don't make any
difference who kills it so we all have an Antelope."

Jim then turned to me and said, "Will, do you see that open ridge
yonder?" and he pointed to a low ridge about a mile from us right in the
direction towards which the Antelope were feeding. I told him, yes, I
saw it. He then said, "I will take all the men but you and two others,
and I will station them all along on that little ridge at the edge of
sage brush. Now, Will, you pick out your two men and ride clear around
the south end of the band, and when they start to run towards us, crowd
them as hard as you can, but give us time to locate before you start the

My men and I rode probably a mile and a half before we got around the
herd, and it looked to us as if the whole valley was covered with
Antelope. I told the men not to shoot at first, but to give a whoop or
two to get them started and then to crowd them for all they were worth,
and when the Antelope got to the open ridge to shoot.

In a few minutes, after we started the herd of Antelope, we heard the
guns of Jim and his men, and it sounded as if they kept up a continual
fire. When we struck the opening, I told the boys to get all the
Antelope they could, and we had a plenty to choose from, for there were
hundreds in the herd ahead of us. I fired my rifle and knocked one down,
and then I pulled my pistol and got another. Just then I heard someone
shouting at the top of his voice just ahead of me. I looked to see who
it was and saw Jim Bridger, shaking his hat at me. I held up my horse so
I could hear what he said. He cried, "For pity's sake, Will, don't kill
any more Antelope, for we have more now than we can carry to camp."

I called my men to me, and we rode to where Jim and his men were waiting
for us. Jim said, "Will, I have been in the Antelope country twenty
years most of the time, and I never saw so many Antelope together at
one time as I saw here this morning; why, there must be fifty or
seventy-five laying around here at this minute, that we have shot, and
you would not miss them out of the herd."

One of the men said, "It did not need any skill with the rifle, that
hunt, for a blind man could not help hitting one of them, for as far as
I could see, there was a mass of Antelope."

Every man now went to work skinning and getting the meat ready to carry
to camp. My two companions and myself put two Antelopes on each of our
horses and started on ahead of the others, and although it was five
miles and we walked all the way, we got back to camp a few minutes
before they did.

As soon as they saw us, the women came to meet us and wanted to see what
we had on our horses. As I threw one of the Antelopes off the horse, a
middle aged woman said, "Mr. Drannan, can I have a piece of this one?
My little girls have just picked some wild onions, and I can make some
hash, and I want you and Mr. Bridger to come and take dinner with us

I told her to help herself, that I brought the meat to camp for all of
them to eat as far as it would go. Her husband came at that moment with
a knife and skinned a portion of the Antelope and cut out what she
wanted. By this time the other hunters began coming in, and everyone was
getting fresh meat for their dinner, and by the way they acted I thought
they enjoyed the Antelope fully as well as they had the Buffalo.

While we ate dinner, I asked Jim how many Antelope were killed by the
whole party. He answered. "Why, dog gone it, I forgot to count them,
but I know this much. Pretty near all of the men brought two across his
saddle, and I will bet that it was the biggest Antelope hunt that was
ever in this country before. Why, Will, the Antelope came along so thick
at one time that a man could have killed them with rocks."

If the reader will stop to think a moment, I think he will be surprised
at the great change that has taken place in that country in fifty years.
At that time there was not a white family living within two hundred
miles of this place, and if there had been any one brave enough to tell
us that in a few years this would be a settled country, we would have
thought he was insane. And just think, this very spot where the wild
Antelope roamed in countless numbers fifty-five years ago is today
Nevada's most prosperous farming country and is worth from fifty to one
hundred dollars an acre, and the city of Reno, now a flourishing town of
several thousand inhabitants stands on the very spot where we camped and
had the Antelope hunt, and I have been told by reliable people that the
whole country from the city of Reno to Honey Lake is thickly settled,
and that cities and villages and thriving farms now cover the ground
where at the time I am speaking of there was nothing but wild animals,
and what was worse to contend with, wild savages lurking in the thick
sage brush which covered the ground for hundreds of miles, and I am also
told that the whole country around Honey Lake is a thriving farming
country, but at the time I am speaking of, we did not have an idea that
it would ever be settled up with Whites or used for anything but a
feeding ground for wild animals. If we had been told at that time that a
railroad would pass through the place where the city of Reno now stands,
we would have thought the one who told us such a wild, improbable story
to be a fit subject for a straight jacket.

We pulled out of there early Monday morning; we took the trail up Long
Valley towards Honey Lake, which we reached on the evening of the third
day. Nothing occurred to disturb us during this time. As soon as we went
into camp that evening the emigrants got out their fishing tackle and
went to the lake. Some of them caught some fish, but many of them came
back disappointed. None had the luck they'd had at Truckee river. Still,
the most of us had some fish for supper that night.

While we were at supper, Jim told the people that they were through
catching trout, that the next fish we had would be salmon. They said
they had never heard of that kind and asked what it looked like. Jim
told them that the meat of some kinds of salmon was as red as beef,
while another kind was pink, and still another kind was yellow, and
they were considered the finest fish that swim in the water, and he
continued, "I have seen them so thick in the spring in some of the
streams in California that it was difficult to ride my horse through
them without mashing them, and they ran against the horse's legs and
frightened him so that he was as eager to get away from them as they
were of him."

An old man presently asked how large a salmon usually was, to which Jim
answered, "Well, they run in weight from ten to fifty pounds, but I have
seldom seen one as small as ten pounds, and they are very fat when they
are going upstream to spawn, but when they are coming down they are so
poor they can scarcely swim."

We left Honey Lake in the morning, and the third day from there we
struck the Sacramento valley, and we now told the emigrants that they
had no further use for our services, that their road was perfectly safe
from this point to Sacramento city.

Two of the committee came to us and said, "As this is Saturday we will
camp here until Monday, and we want you two men to stay with us, for the
women want to fix up something for you to eat on your way back."

Jim answered that we would stay with them over Sunday and take a rest,
for we had a long and tiresome journey before us, but it must be
understood that we did not want the women to go to cooking for us, for
all we could take with us was a few loaves of bread, enough to last us
a few days. Our meat we could get as we wanted it, which would be our
principal food on the trip, as it always was when we were alone.

Sunday was a very pleasant, restful day to us. All the emigrants seemed
to vie with each other in being social. Among the company was a man and
wife by the name of Dent; these two came to us and said that they were
going to make their home in Sacramento city and were going into business
there, and they wanted us if we ever came there to come to them and
make their home ours as long as we wished to stay, for, said they, "We
appreciate what you have done for us on this journey we have passed
through. Besides the protection you have given us, the Buffalo and
Antelope meat you have shown us how to get and have helped to get has
been worth more money to us than all we have paid you to pilot us to

We thanked them for their kind offer and good opinion of us but
disclaimed having done anything but our duty by them.

Monday morning Jim and I were about the first to be astir. We caught
our horses and had them saddled by the time breakfast was ready, and we
accepted the first invitation offered us to eat. While we were eating,
our hostess said she had baked two loaves of bread for us to take with
us, and that she had roasted the last piece of Antelope that she had and
wanted us to take that too. We took the food this lady had prepared for
us and went to our horses, but before we reached them we saw the women
coming from every direction with bread and cake. Jim said, "Will, let's
fill this sack with bread and cake if they insist on giving it to us and
then get away as soon as possible."

As Jim made this remark, it was very amusing to see how every woman
tried to get her package in the sack first, but it would not begin to
hold half that was brought. As soon as the sack was full, Jim said, "Now
ladies, we can take no more, so be kind to us in letting us get away."

By the time we had our pack fixed on our pack horses' backs, every man
and woman and all the children were around us to bid us farewell and
good speed on our journey back to Taos, New Mexico.

We had shaken hands with probably a hundred or more when Jim sprang upon
his horse all at once, saying, "Now friends, we will consider we have
all shaken hands," and he took off his hat and, waving it to the
assembled crowd, gathered up his reins and galloped away, and I followed
suit. But as long as we were in hearing distance we could hear, "Good
bye, good bye," floating on the wind. As the sight of the train faded in
the distance, we waved our hats for the last time.

For the next two days everything went smoothly with Jim and me, which
brought us to Honey Lake. The night we reached Honey Lake, we camped in
a little grove of timber near a pearling stream of cool, sparkling water
about a half a mile south of the trail.

We had eaten our supper and were about to spread our blankets and turn
in for the night when we heard a dog bark close to our camp, but it
was too dark to see him. Jim said, "Don't that beat any thing you ever

We listened a moment, and then it was a howl, and then in a moment he
barked again. Jim said, "You stay in camp, Will, and I will take my gun
and see what is the matter."

In a moment Jim called, "I see him." I waited about an hour before Jim
came back and was beginning to feel anxious about him. When I heard his
footsteps, he said, "I followed that dog nearly a mile, and then I found
the cause of his howling, and what do you think it was?" I answered,
"Jim, I have no idea," to which he said, "Well, I will tell you. I found
the body of a dead man laying on his blanket just as if he was laying
down to rest. I did not get near the dog until I had discovered the
body, and then he was very friendly with me, and came and whined, and
wagged his tail, as if he knew me. I looked all around, but I could find
nothing but the body laying on the blanket. I could not see that there
had been a fire, and I saw no signs of a horse or anything else, and the
strange part of it is that, although the dog was so friendly with me, I
could not coax him away from the body which I suppose was his master."

I asked Jim what he thought it was best to do. He answered, "What can we
do, Will? We have no tools to dig a grave with, and the body is laying
among the rocks, and I expect that dog will stay beside it and starve to

"Wouldn't it be a good idea to go to the place in the morning and pile
rocks on the body to keep the wolves and other wild animals from
eating it up?" Jim said, "Yes, we will do that, and we will shoot some
jack-rabbits and leave them with the dog, so he can have something to
eat for a few days anyhow."

On the way over to the place where the body lay, we killed three rabbits
and threw them to the dog, and he ate them as if he was nearly starved,
and I have always thought that his master died of starvation, as he had
no gun or pistol with which to kill anything to eat, and Jim thought
that he must have got lost from some emigrant train and wandered around
until he was too weak to go farther and lay down and died with no one
but his faithful dog to watch over him in his last moments.

We covered him up with stones and brush the best we could and left him
and the poor dog together, although we tried every way we could to tempt
the animal away. The faithful dog would not leave his master's body.
After trying persuasion until we saw it was no use, Jim said, "Let's put
a rope around his neck and lead him off." I answered, "No, Jim, if he
will not be coaxed away, it would not be right to force him to leave his
dead master." Jim said, "It seems too bad to leave him to starve, but
you are right, Will," and so we left him, and we never saw him again.

Saddened with the experience of the morning, we mounted our horses and
struck for the trail. We had nothing more to disturb us for the next
three days. About the middle of the afternoon of the third day we were
riding along slowly, talking about where we should camp that night, when
Jim happened to look off to the south, and he saw a band of Indians
about a mile from us, and they were coming directly towards us, but we
could not tell whether they had seen us or not. Jim said, "Let's put
spurs to our horses and see if we can get away from them Red devils
without a fight with them."

We put our horses to a run and had kept them going this gate for five or
six miles when we came to the top of a little ridge, and in looking back
we saw the Indians about a half a mile in the rear and coming as fast as
their horses could carry them.

Jim said, "Will, we are in for it now, and we must find a place where we
can defend ourselves."

At that moment I saw a little bunch of timber a few hundred yards ahead
of us. I pointed to it and said to Jim, "Let's get in there and show
them our war bonnet and scalps, and maybe that will save us from having
a fight with the Red imps."

Jim laughed and said, "Why dog gone it, Will, I forgot all about your
war bonnet. Sure, that will be the very thing to do."

We had reached the timber while we talked. We now dismounted and tied
our horses, and in less time than one could think we had the war bonnet
and scalps dangling from the trees all around our horses. We had
scarcely got ready for them when the Red Skins were in sight. They raced
around us in a circle but did not come in gun shot of us. They went
through this performance a few times and then stopped and took a good
look at our decorations, and then they wheeled their horses and left in
the direction they had come from, and that was the last we saw of that
bunch of Indians.

We waited a few minutes to be sure that all was clear, and then we
mounted again and rode about two miles before we found water so we could
camp for the night. When we were eating our supper that night, Jim said,
"Will, I don't think you realize what a benefit those scalps and that
bonnet is to us; if I were you, I would never part with that bonnet as
long as you are in the Indian country. This being a Ute bonnet, the
Comanches will offer you all kinds of prices for it, but if I were you I
would not sell it at any price."

I answered, "Jim, I am going to keep that bonnet for two reasons. One
is for the protection of my own scalp and the other is to keep in
remembrance my last trip in company with you as a pilot across the
plains to California."

Jim looked at me a moment and then said, "Will, you don't pretend to say
that you will never take any more trips with me."

I answered, "Yes Jim, I mean what I say. This is my last trip as a pilot
for emigrants."

Jim did not answer for a few moments, and then he said, "Who will go
with me next year Willie? I thought the pilot business just suited you."

I answered, "In some respects I do like it, and in others I dislike it
very much. You know yourself how impossible it is to please everybody.
There are so many of the people who come from the east that don't think
there is any more danger of the Indians than there is of the Whites, and
you know Jim that is the class of people who will always get us into
trouble. See what those nineteen smart alecks did for us on this last
trip. Do you think if they had known any thing of Indian trickery they
would have left our protection to go hunting in the very heart of the
Indian country? And if we had not been firm with the rest of those
people the whole outfit would have been scalped and then we would have
had to bear the blame."

Jim answered, "There is more truth than poetry in all you say Will, but
maybe you will change your mind when spring comes."

We had a peaceful night's sleep and pulled out on the road bright and
early the next morning. We left the main trail and took a south east
course and crossed the extreme southern portion, of what is now the
state of Utah. We traveled hundreds of miles in this country without
seeing a human being.

A year ago I passed through this same country in a comfortable seat in
a railroad car, and it would be difficult for me to make the people of
this day understand the feelings that I experienced when in looking from
the car window I saw the changes that fifty-five years have made in what
was a wild, rough wilderness, inhabited by Buffaloes, Antelopes, Coyotes
and savage men.

We kept on through this section of country until we struck the Colorado
river, which we crossed just below the mouth of Green river, and a few
days' travel brought us into the northwest part of what is now New

The country which is now New Mexico was at the time of which I am
writing considered perfectly worthless. It is a rolling, hilly country
with smooth, level valleys between the hills and is proving to be very
fertile and is settling as fast as any part of the west.

There was nothing more to trouble us, and we made good progress on our
journey, and in ten days from the time we left the Colorado river we
reached Taos, New Mexico, which was the end of our journey, and tired
and worn with the long hours in the saddle and the anxiety of mind which
we had experienced in all the long months since we left there in the
spring, we were glad to get there and rest a few days and to feel that
we were free with no responsibility.

[Illustration: The mother bear ran to the dead cub and pawed it with her


We found Uncle Kit and his family all well and glad to see us. It was
late in the afternoon when we got there, and we spent the remainder of
the day and evening in recounting our summer's experience for Uncle
Kit's benefit, who was a very interested listener to all that had
befallen us since we parted from him in the spring.

While we ate supper, Jim told Uncle Kit of the fight with the Indians
in which I killed the old chief and took his scalp and war bonnet, an
account which amused Uncle Kit very much, and later in the evening he
insisted on my undoing my pack and showing the bonnet to him.

After he had examined it, he said, "Will, I always knew that you would
make an Indian fighter since that night when you were not fifteen years
old and showed such bravery in showing me the two scalps of the Indians
you had killed that morning all by yourself. But little did I think that
you would have the honor of killing a Ute Chief and capturing his war
bonnet. There will be many times when that bonnet will be as much
protection to you as a whole regiment of soldiers would be," and turning
to Jim, Carson said, "Bridger, don't you think my Willie must have been
an apt pupil and does me great honor for the instruction I gave him?"

Jim answered, "Yes, Kit, I certainly do, and if you had seen him tested
as I have the past summer, you would not need to ask me that question."

Uncle Kit patted me on the back and told Jim that he did not need to see
his boy's bravery tested, for he always took it for granted that Willie
would stand any test.

The next morning, Uncle Kit and Bridger commenced to lay their plans for
the winter's trapping. I heard Uncle Kit say, "Bridger, we have got
to get down to Bent's Fort right away; here it is in the last days of
September, and you know that when the fall of the year comes, them
trappers are like a fish out of water, and if we don't get to the Fort
soon, Bent and Roubidoux will fit them out and send them out trapping on
their own hooks."

Jim answered, "That is true, Kit, and the quicker we go the better it
will be for us."

On the fifth day after we arrived at Taos from California, we were on
the road to Bent's Fort with twenty-two pack horses besides our saddle
horses. Uncle Kit, my old comrade Jonnie West and a Mexican boy by the
name of Juan accompanied us.

We reached Bent's Fort in safety without having any trouble on the way.
The evening we got to the Fort it seemed to me that there were more
trappers than I had ever seen together at one time before, and they all
huddled around Carson and Bridger. Uncle Kit told them all that he would
talk business with them in the morning. When supper was ready that
evening, Col. Bent invited all of us to take supper with him. We
accepted the invitation, and while we were at the table, a runner came
with a note to Uncle Kit from Capt. McKee, asking Carson to send all the
men he could muster to join him at Rocky Ford to escort a government
train to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

According to the Capt's. note Carson had only twenty-four hours to
gather his men and get to Rocky Ford. When Uncle Kit read the note so
unexpectedly brought him, it seemed to upset and confuse him. He said,
"My God, I can't go," and then he read the note aloud. When he had
finished reading. Col. Bent said, "I will go out and see how many men
will volunteer to go." After Col. Bent left the room, Uncle Kit said to
me, "Willie, will you take charge of the men if Col. Bent can raise a
company? I know you can handle them as well as I could."

I answered, "Yes sir, I will do any thing you think is best."

In a short time Col. Bent came back and said he had found twenty seven
men who were willing to go, and that every man had his own horse and a
gun and a pistol, "but who will take the command of the company? Do you
intend to go yourself Carson?"

Uncle Kit said, "No, I do not, but Willie here," and he touched my
shoulder, "will take my place and do as well as I could."

Col. Bent said, "Well, come with me, Will, and I will introduce you to
your men."

When we went outside, all the twenty-seven men were there waiting for
us. Col. Bent said to them, "Now, gentlemen, I have brought you a leader
in Mr. William Drannan. He will have charge of you until you reach Rocky

I then told the men to furnish themselves with four day's ration and
also to take blankets to use at night, and to be ready to take the trail
at sun rise in the morning. They all promised to be ready at the time I
specified, and we separated for the night.

I found Uncle Kit in the dining room writing a letter to Capt. McKee. He
gave the letter to me, saying, "Give this letter to Capt. McKee, and if
you want to go to Santa Fe with him, do so, or if you had rather be with
me, you will find Jim and me on the Cache-La-Poudre; just suit yourself,
Willie, in regard to this matter, and I shall be satisfied."

The next morning we were up and on the road by the time the sun was up.
We rode hard until about eleven o'clock, when we dismounted, staked our
horses out to grass and ate our luncheon. We let our horses feed about
an hour, and then we mounted and were on the road again. A little before
sunset we came in sight of Rocky Ford. As soon as I saw where we were, I
pointed it out to the boys, and said, "There is Rocky Ford, and we are
ahead of time."

We had ridden but a short distance when one of the boys remarked, "We
are not much in the lead, for there comes Capt. McKee's company just
across the river," and as we reached the Ford, Capt. McKee and his men
were crossing. So we both met on time. I had never met Capt. McKee but
knew him from the fact that he was in the lead of his men.

I rode up to him and saluted and asked if this was Capt. McKee. He said
it was. I told my name at the same time I gave him Carson's letter.

He read the letter and then said, "Let us go into camp. My men and
horses are tired, and we will talk business after we have had supper."

We rode perhaps a quarter of a mile from the Ford, where we could get
plenty of sage brush to make fires, dismounted and staked our horses out
to grass, and it was not long until our meal was ready to eat. As soon
as the meal was over, the Captain came to me and inquired if I had ever
been over this country before. I told him I had a number of times. He
said, "I am a stranger in this country; will you please tell me where
the main body of the Comanches are at this time of the year?"

I told him that the main body of the Comanche tribe was at least a
hundred miles down the river.

"They go down there to shoot the Buffalo as they cross the river on
their winter's feeding ground. You will find the Indians very numerous
all through that part of the country. Sometimes there are from two to
three hundred wigwams in one village, and the Indians will stay there
for nearly a month yet before they go farther south."

The Capt. then asked if I was acquainted with any of the Comanche
Chiefs. I told him that I was, and that I had traded with pretty near
all of them.

"The Comanches are all great friends with Kit Carson, and as I have
visited them and traded with them in company with him, they extend their
friendship to me."

The Capt. thought a moment and then said, "I am mighty afraid that we
are going to have trouble with the Comanches from the fact that that
Government train is at least two hundred miles from here, and there are
forty wagons in it, and they have no escort, only their drivers and
herders, and I am weak myself; you see, I have only twenty men with me.
Five days before I received this order, I sent all of my men, except the
twenty with me, to Fort Worth, Texas to protect the settlers in that
country as the Comanches are on the war path there, and the few men we
have with us now will not be as much as a drop in a bucket as far as
protecting the train is concerned if the Comanches attack it."

I answered, "Captain, if we can reach the train before the Indians do, I
believe we can get the train through to Santa Fe without firing a gun."

This seemed to surprise him, for he looked at me as though I was insane
in making such a remark and said, "What do you mean, young man?"

I answered: "Capt. McKee, all the Comanche tribe know me, and they also
know that I have for several years been closely associated with Kit
Carson, and they think that all Kit Carson does or says is right, for
they both love him and fear him, and they have the same feeling for the
boy Carson raised, and furthermore I have in this pack," and I pointed
to my pack which was laying on the ground near me, "more protection, in
my estimation, than a hundred soldiers would be to the train."

He said, "Explain what you mean, for I do not understand."

I then unrolled my pack and, taking out the Indian scalps and the Ute
Chief's war bonnet, I showed them to him and told him how I had used
them to protect an emigrant train when I only had twelve men to help me
that were of any use in a fight with the Indians.

I said, "Now, Captain, you must know that the Indians have no fear of
death, but they do dread to lose their scalps after they are killed, as
they think there will be no chance for a scalpless Indian to enter the
Happy Hunting ground. So if we reach the train before the Indians get
there and fear they will attack it when they do, all we have to do is to
hang these scalps up in a prominent place and put the Chief's war bonnet
high above them all, and there will be no need of a fight or chance for
one, for the Indians will not come near enough to be shot at, for they
will fear that they will share the same fate that befell the Indians
that these scalps belonged to."

Capt. McKee then asked me if I were willing to go on and assist him in
this way until the train reached Santa Fe, and he said, "I am quite sure
your plan in using the scalps and bonnet for protection with the Indians
will prove a success, for I know how superstitious the Indians are about
being scalped, and I am also sure that we have not sufficient men to
save the train from the Indians without some other means is used."

I then asked the Capt. who would pay me and my men for our time if we
went with him. His answer was "The Government pays me and will pay you
and the men with you, and if we have a chance to test your plan and it
proves a success, I will see that you have double pay."

Everything being understood and arranged to the satisfaction of all
hands, we separated and turned in for the night.

Next morning we were all up in good season and got an early start on the

Late that evening just before we went into camp we saw a few Buffalo
feeding near the river. I asked the Capt. where he was going to camp
that night. He pointed to a little ravine about a half a mile from us,
and answered, "We will camp on that ravine." I said, "Take my pack on
your saddle in front of you, and I will kill a calf for supper."

He took my pack, saying, "All right, we surely will enjoy some fresh
meat," and the company moved on, and I struck out to kill the Buffalo. I
rode around the herd so if they became frightened they would run towards
the place where we were to camp. They saw me before I had got in gun
shot of them and started to run directly towards where the Capt. had
gone into camp.

As soon as I saw the direction they were taking, I commenced to shout to
the men at the camp to look out, for the Buffalo were coming, and they
did not get the news any too quick before the Buffalos were there. The
men grabbed their guns and commenced shooting, and that was all that
saved the camp from being overrun with Buffalo. They shot down three
calves and two heifers right in camp.

The boys had the laugh on me for several days. When anything was said
about getting fresh meat, some of them would say, "Will can go and drive
it into camp, and we will shoot it," and the Capt. would laugh and say
he reckoned that was a good way to save me from packing it.

I do not think I ever saw men enjoy a meal more than these did that
night. We had all ridden hard that day and had only a light lunch at
midday, so we were all very hungry and young and hearty and just at the
time of life when food tastes best, and every one of us knew how to
broil Buffalo meat over sage brush fire.

The next morning the Capt. told the men to all cut enough meat from the
Buffalos to last until the next day and to put it in their packs, for,
he said, "We may not meet with as good luck again as we did today, and
if we take the meat with us we will be provided for anyway."

We were on the road early in the morning and traveled without stopping
until noon, and we saw numerous small bands of Buffalo all along the
way. We stopped on the bank of a little pearling stream of cold water,
where there was plenty of grass for the horses, and ate our luncheon and
rested about an hour. We were about ready to continue our journey when I
discovered a small band of Indians coming up the trail.

I sang out to the Capt., "There come some of our neighbors." He looked
at them and said, "Boys, mount your horses and be ready, for we are
going to have fun right here." I said, "Hold on, Capt., and let me see
if I can't settle this thing without a fight." He said, "How will you do
it?" I said, "I believe I know all those Indians, but I will ride down
and meet them and see, and if I am acquainted with them we will have no
trouble with them."

Capt. McKee said, "Won't you be taking a desperate chance, Mr. Drannan,
in going to meet those savages when you are not sure whether you know
them or not?" I said, "I am not afraid to go to meet them, but if
anything is wrong, I will signal to you by raising my hat, and if I do
so you must charge at once, but if I give no signal you may be sure
everything is all right."

I started my horse at full speed down the narrow valley to meet the
approaching Indian band. When I was within a hundred yards of them,
they recognized me, and they all began crying, "Hi-yar-hi-yar," which
translated into English means, "How do-yo-do," and in a few minutes,
they were all swarming around me, each one trying to shake my hand
first. I shook hands with all, and I then asked them where they were
going. The Chief told me that they were going to their village, which
was on the opposite side of the river. We had passed their village a few
hours before, but owing to the timber being so thick we did not notice
it. They wanted to know when I was coming to trade for Buffalo robes
with them. I told them I would come in four months. This seemed to
please them well, and they said they would have a plenty of robes to
trade for knives and rings and beads.

I rode back with my Indian friends to the camp. On the way I told the
chief where I was going, and that the white men he saw in the camp were
my friends and were going with me. Not knowing any of the men in the
camp, the Indians passed on without stopping, as is their custom when
they are not on the war path.

When the last Indian had passed the camp, Capt. McKee ordered the men to
mount, and we continued our journey.

When we were under way the Capt. rode to my side and said, "Mr. Drannan,
will you tell me how it is that you have such a control over those
Indians? Why, I would not have ridden to meet that savage band for
anything that you could have offered me, for I should have considered
doing such a thing equal to committing suicide, and I know I should not
have come out alive."

I said, "Very true, Capt. I don't think you would. But there is this
difference between your going to meet them and my doing so. You are a
stranger to them, and a member of the white race, which they hate. They,
not knowing who you are, are suspicious of your being on their hunting
grounds, but in my case I have known them all for years and have
accompanied them many times to their village. Whom they trust, although
he be a "pale face," they have confidence in, as they have in me. So
they are all my friends, and when I told the Chief that you and all the
company were my friends and were going with me, he or any of his braves
had no wish to trouble you."

Capt. McKee looked at me as if he thought me something hardly human
while I explained why I was not afraid of the Indians who had just
passed, and in a moment after I had ceased speaking he said, "Can you
control all of the Comanche tribe the same as you did the band which has
just passed us?" I answered, "I certainly think I can if I have my way
about it." He answered, "If that is so, the United States Government
will be under great obligation to you." "The obligation is nothing to me
Capt., but if the men will obey my instruction I think I can pilot
the train through to Santa Fe without their having to fire a shot," I
replied. The Capt. said, "I am not acquainted with the wagon master, so
I can not say what he will do, but I will give you my word that my men
will do as you instruct them, and as soon as we meet the train I will
have a talk with the wagon master and try to influence him to submit to
being directed by you."

The third day from this place we met the train at a place called Horse
Shoe Bend. We saw a number of bands of Indians and passed several Indian
villages on the way, but we did not come into contact with any of them.
The train was just corralling for the night when we met them, and the
most discouraged-acting men I ever saw were in that train. The wagon
master told us that the Indians had attacked the train the day before
and killed five of his men, and he said, "If this had been anything
but a Government train, I should have turned around and gone back, and
Capt., you haven't half men enough to protect this train through the
Comanche country; we have just struck the edge of it, and the Comanches
are the largest and most hostile tribe in the west, and you see that
I lost five of my herders in the Kiawah country, and they are a small
tribe beside the Comanches."

Capt. McKee then told the wagon master what he had seen me do with a
band of Comanche warriors, and also told him what I said I could do for
the train if I had the control of the men and they would obey me.

The wagon master turned and looked at me a moment as if he was measuring
me and then said, "Young man, do you pretend to say that you know all of
the Comanche tribe?"

I answered, "No, sir, I do not know them all, but they all know me, and
there are hundreds of them that are particular friends of mine, and if
you are acquainted with the Indian character, you know that when an
Indian professes to be a friend he is a friend indeed, and there is no
limit to what he will do for you."

He then asked how I proposed to handle the train and the men. I
answered, "I want the men to ride beside the wagons, and in the rear of
them with a half a dozen just a little ahead of the teams, and I will
ride alone from a quarter to a half a mile ahead, and if the men in the
rear or those on the side see any Indians advancing on the train, I want
them to notify me at once, for I want to talk with the Indians before
they get to the train, no matter whether there are a few or many of

The wagon master said, "I don't see anything to find fault with
your plans," and turning to McKee he asked what he thought of the
arrangement. Capt. McKee answered, "All that I find fault with is the
desperate chances Mr. Drannan will take in going out to meet the savages
all by himself." I said, "Capt., there is where you make a mistake. My
safety lies in my going out to meet the Indians alone, and I will assure
you and the other gentlemen that there will not be a gun fired if I can
get to the Indians before they get to the train."

At this moment the cook said supper was ready, and it did not take long
for me at least to get to eating it, for I was very hungry.

The wagon master, the Capt. and I messed together. The Capt. asked me
what I thought about putting out picket guards that night. I told him
that I did not think it necessary tonight, but further on the road it
might be advisable.

We had a quiet night's rest, and everybody seemed cheerful in the
morning, and we were on the road quite early. Before we started, I asked
the wagon master how many miles he traveled in a day, and if he stopped
at noon. He answered that he was four or five days behind time now and
would like to make twenty miles a day if he could, and he thought it
would not be advisable to stop at noon while we were in the Comanche
country, but when we got clear of the Indians probably he would lay over
a day or two, and let the teams have a rest.

Everything moved on pleasantly all that day. We did not see an Indian,
but towards evening we saw large bands of Buffalo all going south. That
night when we had got settled into camp, I told the Capt. that I would
take a ride five or six miles up the valley and see if I could find any
Indians' village or see any Indians and for them not to be uneasy about
me or look for me until they saw me.

I had ridden perhaps three miles when I saw a large band of Indians just
going into camp. They were about a half a mile from our trail right on
the bank of the Arkansas river. I knew that they were a hunting party
because their squaws and papooses were with them, which is never the
case if the warriors are on the war path.

I rode down among them, and as soon as the squaws saw me they commenced
to cry, "Hi-yar-hi-yar," and ran to me with extended hands, and they all
asked together if I had come to trade rings and beads. When I told them
that I would come again in four months and trade with them, they laughed
and said in their own language that they would have many Buffalo robes
ready to trade with me. As I was talking with the squaws, an Indian came
to me, one that I had known for quite a while, and invited me to his
wigwam to take supper with him and stay all night. I explained to him
that I could not accept his invitation that time and told him what I was
doing, and where I was going, but that I would return in four months and
would bring a plenty of knives and rings and beads to trade for Buffalo

This seemed to please him very much.

I bid them all good bye and went back to camp. It was rather late and
supper was over, but the cook had saved some for me. While I was eating,
Capt. McKee and the wagon master came to see me. The Capt. asked what I
had seen while I was gone. I said, "Capt., I saw enough Indian squaws to
keep me shaking hands for twenty minutes, and besides the squaws I saw
four or five hundred warriors and shook hands with a good many of them
and was invited to eat supper and pass the night with one of the Chiefs,
but I declined to do either, although I would have been more than

The Capt. asked where the Indians were, and I told him. He asked how far
from our trail their village was. I told him between half and a quarter
of a mile. He said, "Have we got to pass in full view of that Indian
village?" I answered, "Yes, sir, that is the only road that leads from
here to Santa Fe." "And do you believe that we can pass them in the
morning without being attacked by them?" he asked. I said, "Capt., if
the men will obey my instructions, there will be no danger when we
strike out in the morning. We will all travel in the same order as we
did today, except that I shall not ride so far in advance of the train,
and if the Indians start to come towards the train, I will ride out and
meet them, and the train must keep right on, as if nothing had occurred,
and I will hold the Indians until the train is out of sight, and then I
will leave them and overtake you."

The Capt. said, "All right, Mr. Drannan, we will do as you have
directed, and if you succeed in this venture, I shall know that you have
the control over the Indians that you thought you had."

The wagon master said that he would not feel very easy until we had
passed and were out of sight of the Indians and their village, and I
believe he spoke the truth, for he was up and had everything ready. We
were on the road by sunrise. When we were nearly opposite the Indian
village, the squaws discovered us and came running towards us in droves.
I rode out and met them and had a general hand-shaking with them, and
they wanted me to assure them that I was coming in four months to trade
with them and wanted me to go and look at some of the robes they had
dressed, which I did, and in doing so, I saw something that I had never
seen before nor have I since. It was a white Buffalo skin, and the
animal must have been a half-grown cow judging from the size of the
skin. It was the prettiest thing of the kind that I had ever seen, or
ever have since. When I was looking at the beautiful thing, I asked the
Indian that I thought it belonged to how much he would take for it. He
said it was not his, that it was his squaw's. I asked her what her price
would be, and she answered, "One string of beads." I told her to save it
for me and in four months I would come back and bring the beads to her
and take the robe. I was so interested in looking at the robes and
talking with the Indians that time passed without notice, and the first
thing I thought about it, in looking at my watch I found it was nearly
noon. I now bid the Indians good bye, mounted my horse and started to
overtake the train. When I caught up with them, I found that the Capt.
was feeling very uneasy about me, and the wagon master thought the
Indians had taken me captive.

When I rode to the Capt's. side, he said, "This settles it. I have been
fighting the Indians for several years, and I must admit now that I
don't know anything about them, and I will confess that I was like "the
Missouri"; I had to be shown before I believed. But having seen like
them, I am satisfied that you knew what you were talking about. After
the experience of this morning, I cannot doubt that through your
friendship with the Red skins we shall get through to Santa Fe in safety
without having any trouble with them."

That evening when we went into camp, the Capt. and the wagon master came
to me. The Capt. said, "Mr. Drannan, you are so well acquainted with the
Comanche Indians, perhaps you can tell us where we shall pass their main
village and where the Indians are likely to be the most numerous." I
answered, "This is an unusually late fall, and the Buffalo are as a
consequence unusually late in going south and are more scattered than
they would be earlier in the season, and I do not think we will pass the
Comanches' main village under forty miles from here. You must understand
that the Comanches' main village is always near where the largest herd
of Buffalo cross the river, and from this on we will travel as we have
been doing; I will take the lead five or six miles in advance of the
train so that if we come on to a band of Indians or a small village I
can meet them and have a talk with them before the train gets up to
them, and Capt., I want you and the other men to keep a close look out,
and if any of you see any Indians coming towards the train from any
direction, send a runner after me at once, for I want to meet the
Indians before they get to the train."

The next morning we pulled out early, and we traveled without
interruption all day, and we did not see an Indian and but very few

That night we camped on a little stream called Cotton Wood Creek. There
was fine water and the best of grass for the stock. That evening I told
the Capt. and the wagon boss that the three main Buffalo crossings were
within thirty miles of us, and we would probably have more trouble with
the Buffalos than we would with the Indians. "At this time of the year
it is no uncommon thing to see a herd of Buffalo from eight to ten miles
long, and from a half to a mile wide, and if we meet with such a herd,
all we can do is to stop and wait until they pass, for we could no more
get through them than we could fly over them, and, Capt., we now have
two dangers to avoid. The Indians and Buffalos. If you see a band of
Buffalo coming and I am not with you, have the wagon master corral the
train as quickly as possible, and as close as he can get them together.
I have considerable influence with the Indians, but I have none with the
Buffalos, so we must give the latter their own way and a plenty of room,
or they will tramp the train under their feet and us with it."

We were on the road in good season the next morning, and every thing
went smoothly until about eleven o'clock in the morning, when I saw a
large band of Buffalo coming from the north and heading directly for the
river. I rode back and met the train and told the wagon master that
he must corral the train at once, and he did not have time to get it
corralled too soon before the herd was near us, and I will say I had
seen a great many large herds of Buffalo before and have since that time
but never saw anything that equaled this herd. We waited until three
o'clock in the afternoon before we could move on our journey, and after
they had all passed us, one could see nothing but a black moving mass as
far as the eyes could see.

I asked the Capt. how many Buffalos he thought there were in that band.
He answered, "I think the number would run into millions. How many
Buffalos would it take to cover a half a mile square?"

I thought a moment and answered, "That is a difficult question to
answer, Capt. The way they were crowded together here I believe there
would be a hundred thousand on every half a mile square."

Capt. McKee said, "Yes, and on some of the half a mile square there
would be more than that number. I was in Texas nine years, and I saw a
great many bands of Buffalo in that time, but I had no idea that they
ever traveled in such immense bodies as the one that passed us today."

We proceeded but a short distance that afternoon but made an early camp
on account of water. While we were at supper, I was amused at some of
the remarks made by the teamsters. One of them said, "Boys, if I live
to get home, you will never catch me any farther west than the state of
Missouri again. Who would live in such a country as this is? Good for
nothing but Indians, Buffalos, and Coyotes, and any of the three is
liable to kill you if you get out among them." And another said, "How in
creation are we going to get home? If this train don't go back, we are
sure in for it."

The wagon boss said, "Boys, I should not think you would want to go back
over this country again." One of them said, "How would we live?" He
answered, "Why, you could go and live with the Indians, and then you
could have Buffalo meat to eat and hear the Coyotes howl all the time."

This remark made a laugh, but I noticed one of the teamsters wiped his
eyes on his coat sleeve and got up and left the crowd, and I saw the
tears running down his cheeks. After he had gone, one of the other
drivers said, "I pity John, for he thinks he will never see his
sweetheart again. It was to get money to settle down with that brought
him out here, and now he is afraid that he will never get back, and
I believe he will go crazy if he don't get to see his girl in a few

The boss said, "It is too bad, and I will go and see if I can console

When we were ready to strike the trail the next morning, I told the
Capt. that I thought we would pass the Comanches' main village that day.
Said I, "If it is late in the afternoon when we pass the Indian camp,
it will be best to drive on four or five miles before you stop for the
night, and do not pay any attention to me, for very likely I shall be in
the middle of the camp, talking with the Chief."

I struck out, and I had not ridden more than eight miles when in looking
off to the south I saw the Indian village. It was about a mile from the
trail on the bank of the Arkansas river. I turned my horse and went for
the village. When I was about halfway there, I met a number of young
bucks, and they all knew me. After I had shaken hands with them, I asked
where the old Chief's wigwam was, and they all went with me and showed
me where it was. As soon as I struck the edge of the village, every buck
and squaw commenced to shout and shake their hands at me. When I got to
the Chief's wigwam I dismounted, and as he came out to meet me I offered
my hand, which is always customary when one visits an Indian, be he
Chief or warrior.

After we had talked a few minutes, he told me in his own language that I
had come too soon. He supposed I had come to trade with the Indians for
Buffalo robes. I told him that I had not come to trade this time but
would come all prepared to trade in four months.

Then I told him what I was doing and where I was going, and I told him
that if he would tell all his Warriors to let us pass without disturbing
or molesting us in any way, I would make him a present of two butcher
knives when I came in four months to trade with them.

This promise seemed to please him, for he said I and the pale faces with
me could go through his country and none of his Warriors would disturb
us. I told him I would want to come back with the same wagons in about
one month, and he answered, "It is well," which meant "It is all right."

By this time there were hundreds of bucks and squaws and papooses around
the Chief's wigwam. They all thought I had come with knives and rings
and beads to trade with them. When the Chief told them that I was only
making him a visit, and that I would return in four months to trade,
they all wanted to shake hands with me, and while I was shaking their
hands, I saw the train pass along the trail, and by the time I had
shaken hands with them all it was out of sight.

I was now about to mount my horse to follow the train when the Chief
said, "No go now, stay eat dinner."

I knew that it would be considered an insult to refuse, so I said, "Wa
to," which means "All right."

I staked my horse out by tying him to a sage brush and accompanied the
Chief to his wigwam, and it was not long before the squaws had a plenty
of juicy Buffalo steak broiled and ready to eat, and I have no doubt the
reader will think me a very strange person when I say that I enjoyed
that meal, which was of broiled Buffalo meat alone without even bread,
more than I would now the most sumptuous dinner that could be cooked and
spread on the finest mahogany table, and that meal was spread on the
ground in an Indian wigwam with wild Indians for companions.

After a while, which seemed short to me, I looked at my watch and was
surprised to find that it was two o'clock in the afternoon. I bid the
Chief and his squaws good by and mounted my horse and was off in pursuit
of the train.

I overtook them just as they were corralling for the night. As I rode
into camp, Capt. McKee met me and said, "Mr. Drannan, you must bear a
charmed life. I never expected to see you again, either alive or dead."

I laughed and answered, "Did you think I was going to marry a squaw and
settle down in the Indian village, Capt? I thought you had a better
opinion of me than that. I will confess that I like the Indians pretty
well, but not well enough to be a squaw man."

This answer made a general laugh and upset the gravity that was settling
on all their faces. Capt McKee then said, "Where have you been all day,
Mr. Drannan?"

I told him I went to the Indian village which he passed and was invited
to eat dinner with the head Chief, and they made such a spread that I
like to not got away today. He said, "What could you have had for dinner
that it took all day to eat it?" I answered, "Buffalo steak straight
cooked in the most approved style."

This answer made such a laugh that the Capt. did not ask any more
questions until he and I were alone that evening. The wagon master and
Capt. McKee asked me to take a walk with them. After we had strolled
along a while, the Capt. said, "Mr. Drannan, how is it that you can go
into those Indian villages be they large or small? It seems to make
no difference to you, and the Indians do not molest you. Have you no
hesitation at all in going among the Indians?"

I answered, "Yes sir, I would hesitate a long time before I went into
the village of some tribes of Indians, but I have no fear of the
Comanches in small bands or when they are all together, for they are all
friendly to me, and instead of hurting me they would protect me from
harm, and there is something else I can guarantee, and that is that this
train will not be molested by the Comanche Indians, either going or
coming on this trip."

Capt. McKee said, "Where in the world could you get that guarantee, Mr.

I replied, "Capt. McKee, I got it from the head Chief of the Comanche
tribe, and his word is law with all his warriors."

Then the wagon master spoke for the first time since we started on our
walk. He said, "In that case there is no need of all these men as an
escort, is there?"

I answered, "That is none of my business; it is nothing to me how many
men the Government employs to escort the trains. All I have to do with
it is to do my duty."

The Capt. inquired how I came to make such an arrangement with the
Chief. I told him that I had the idea in my mind from the beginning, and
that was the reason I wanted to go to the main village in advance of the
train, so I could arrange everything to suit myself before the train
came in sight.

The Capt. inquired how much it cost me to get the guarantee. I said,
"The cost was considerable, but I think the teamsters will be willing
to make it up to me, considering the trouble and perhaps loss of life I
have saved them."

The wagon boss said, "I reckon we all will want to take a hand in that
payment. Tell me what it costs, and be it ever so much, you shall not be
out a cent. I will go and see the boys right away and see if we can make
it up. How much shall I tell them?"

I answered, "I promised the Chief two butcher knives for the safety of
this train's passage through the Comanche country, both going to Santa
Fe and coming back."

They both stared at me as if they were amazed, and finally the Capt.
said, "What are you giving us? Are you joking or in earnest, Mr.

I answered, "I have told just what I promised to give the Chief. We did
not call it 'paying,' and I have over three months to pay it in."

Capt. McKee said, "Two butcher knives for the safety of all our lives
and all the property in our care? How in the name of common sense could
you make such a bargain as that?"

I answered, "There is nothing very wonderful about the transaction,
Capt. I told the Chief that I would give him two butcher knives if he
would tell his warriors not to molest the train either going or coming
back, and he accepted my offer and seemed to think himself well paid. I
told him that I would come to trade with his tribe in four months and
that I would give the knives to him then."

Capt. McKee asked how many more villages we would have to pass through.
I told him that there were two more small villages. One was about ten
miles, and the other one about fifteen or twenty miles above us.

He inquired if I intended to visit each of those in advance of the train
as I had the ones we had passed; I replied, "I certainly do, for they
would think themselves greatly insulted if I should visit the other
villages and pass them by without paying them a visit too. The Indians
are very much like children. If you notice one, you must pay the same
attention to the others or there will be jealousy, and that is very
much to be avoided in this case. Besides, I expect to trade with those
Indians next spring, and I want to keep on the good side of all of them.
If one gets the ill will of one Indian, the whole tribe is against one,
and if you have the Chief on your side there is no danger from the

When we returned to camp from our walk, the wagon master said, "Boys,
Mr. Drannan has hired the Chief of the Comanches to forbid his warriors
interfering with this train going to Santa Fe or when it is coming back.
Now I want to know how much money each one of you are willing to chip
in towards helping him out. You must remember that the contract he made
with the Indian Chief has not only saved the destruction of the train,
but more than likely some of us would have lost our lives if the Indians
had resented our passing through their country."

Three drivers, all from Missouri, came forward at once and said, "Mr.
Drannan, we haven't any money now, but as soon as we draw our pay, we
will give you twenty dollars apiece as our share."

Another man cried out, "I will give twenty-five."

Capt. McKee frowned and said, "Don't you think your lives worth more
than twenty-five dollars, men?"

This remark seemed to stir them up, and in less than ten minutes they
had subscribed four hundred and forty dollars.

The Capt. clapped his hands and said, "Mr. Drannan, you are safe," and
then told the men what the real expense would be to me. The Missouri
men answered, "Don't make any difference to us what he is to pay. The
bargain he made to save our lives is what we want to pay for as far as
we can."

I said, "Now boys, I believe that I have been instrumental in saving
some of your lives and probably the whole train, but you don't owe me a
cent of money for what I have done, and I want to say to you all that
if there should be any Indians come near the train while we are passing
through the Comanche country do not interfere with them in any way, and
you may rest assured they will not with you."

The Capt. now turned to the wagon master and said, "How much further do
you want me and my men to accompany you?" He answered, "I will leave
that for you and Mr. Drannan to decide."

I said, "Capt. McKee, I think you had better stay with the train until
we cross the river at Rocky Ford, which will take the train nearly out
of the Comanche country at this season of the year, and we ought to
reach Rocky Ford day after to morrow night, and as far as having an
escort is concerned, I do not think there will be any more need of one
after we cross Rocky Ford. I think the train will be perfectly safe to
go on alone under the present circumstances."

To this neither the Capt. or the wagon master would agree, for Capt.
McKee said, "You, Mr. Drannan, have been really the only protection the
train has had, and it is no more than right that you should accompany it
through to Santa Fe. I with my men will go on to Santa Fe, and I will
report that all is well with the train, and I will also report what you
have done in protecting the lives of the men as well as the Government
property on this trip."

The next morning we broke camp early and hit the trail in good season.
Everything went along smoothly until about two o'clock, when we came in
sight of a little Indian village. It was on the opposite side of the
Arkansas river.

I rode to the bank of the river where I saw a number of squaws on the
other side. I waved my hand at them, and they recognized me at once and
began crying, "Hy-ar-hy-ar," and they came to the brink of the river and
waved their hands at me. I called to them that in four months I would
come with a plenty of beads and rings and knives to trade with them.
They clapped their hands and answered, "Good-good," and I turned my
horse and rode back to meet the train.

I will here explain that all this conversation had been carried on in
the Comanches' language, as the Indians, neither bucks or squaws, could
understand a word of the English language at that time, and if I could
not have talked with them in their language, I would not have had the
influence over them that I had now.

That night when we went into camp, Capt. McKee got off a good joke on

While we were eating supper, he said, "Mr. Drannan, I have caught on to
your tricks with the Indians. First you make love to the squaws, and
then you get the good will of the bucks by giving them knives to scalp
the white men with. I saw how you made love to the squaws today when you
were flirting with them across the river, and I saw them throwing kisses
at you too."

I answered, "Capt., you ought to be with me when I come down here to
trade with them. You would then see the real thing. I will acknowledge
that I get all the hand-shaking that I can stand up to, but as far as
kissing and hugging is concerned, that the squaws save for their own if
they give them to anyone."

The Capt. laughed and answered, "Well putting joking aside, Mr. Drannan,
I think the Indians of the Comanche tribe are all your friends, and no
mistake, and I see that you have a wonderful influence over them."

I answered, "Capt. McKee, I have been trading with those Indians four
years, and I have always done just as I agreed to do with them, which
is the secret of what you call my wonderful influence over them, and I
certainly have never had any trouble with one of the Comanche Indians
yet, and I will tell you furthermore, Capt., that I intend, if I go
back with this train, to carry the knives with me and stop at the main
village and give them to the old Chief, for I do not know how soon I may
have occasion to ask another favor of him, and I feel confident that as
long as I keep his good will he will never refuse to do me a favor."

We left this camp quite early in the morning, and all things worked
satisfactory throughout the day. We did not see an Indian and but very
few Buffalos. We reached Rocky Ford and crossed the river just before
night and went into camp, and Capt. McKee began to make preparations to
leave the train, as with his twenty men and also the twenty-seven men
who went with me from Bent's Fort he intended to strike out in the
morning for Santa Fe, where he could make his report, and the men could
receive their pay from the Government for their services on this trip.

Before he left us in the morning, I said, "Now Capt., there is a part of
the route between here and Santa Fe which I am not familiar with, and as
the country is strange to the wagon master also, can you tell me about
the water and also tell me how many days it will take the train to reach
Santa Fe from this place?" The Capt. answered, "As for water and grass,
you will find a plenty all along the way; there is not more than four or
five miles from one stream to another, and for the time it will take to
reach Santa Fe, I figure that it will take fourteen days if everything
moves as smoothly in the future as it has done the last few days, and
now, Mr. Drannan, have you any word you would like to send to Bent's
Fort to Mr. Bent or Roubidoux? I intend to go back that way, and I will
take any message to anyone there that you would like to send."

I said, "Tell Mr. Bent and Mr. Roubidoux that I will be at Bent's Fort
as soon as I finish this job and can get there, and that if they want me
to go and trade with the Comanches, I have everything cut and dried for
business, for I have visited all the main villages on this trip, and the
Indians are expecting to see me back in four months to trade with them."

The men all mounted now, and we shook hands and bid each other good bye,
and the Capt. and forty-seven others struck out back across the Arkansas
river for Santa Fe by the way of Bent's Fort, while the train kept on up
the old Santa Fe trail by the picket-wire route.

From this place I had a jolly time all the way to Santa Fe; we were in a
wild country where game was plentiful, such as Deer, Antelope, and black
Bear, and after the first day's travel there was never a night on the
trip but I had fresh meat for supper.

I traveled along with the train until the middle of the afternoon. Then
I always asked the wagon boss what kind of meat he wanted for supper.
Sometimes he would say Antelope, and at other times he said he would
like a piece of black tail Deer, and I invariably got what he mentioned.

We got up into the foot hills where Trinidad, Colorado now stands. The
wagon boss and I were riding along together one afternoon. I looked at
my watch and saw that it was about time to be looking for some meat for
supper. I asked him in a joking way what he would like best for supper
if he could get it. He replied that he would like a Cub Bear for a roast
tonight. Up to this time I had not seen a bear, although I had seen some
signs of them, and I had no more idea of killing a bear that evening
than I had of flying when I started out to get something for supper.

I struck out on a low ridge that ran almost parallel with the trail. I
had gone but a short distance when I came on a patch of huckleberries,
and they certainly looked as if they might be delicious. They were the
first I had seen that year. I jumped off my horse and went to picking
and eating as fast as I could. In a few minutes my horse gave a little
snort. When I turned to see what was the matter, I saw that something
had frightened him. I went to him at once, and not over fifty yards from
him was an old she bear, and she had two cubs with her, and I thought
they, like myself, were so taken with eating berries that they had not
noticed the horse or me either.

I took my rifle, dropped down on one knee, fired and broke one of the
cubs' necks. The mother bear ran to the dead cub and pawed it with her
foot. While she was thus engaged, I mounted my horse drew my pistol,
rode up to where the mother bear and her two cubs were in a bunch and
shot the other cub and broke this one's back, and it looked for a few
minutes as if I must run from the mother, as I did not want to kill her
for the reason that I had no use for so much meat. So I rode away a
short distance and watched her a few minutes. She pawed them over a few
times and seemed to think that they were no more good and with a few low
growls she trotted off into the brush, and I saw no more of her.

I then rode to the dead cubs and dismounted from my horse. I picked them
up and strapped them both on the back of my saddle and struck out to
overtake the train, which I did just as they were going into camp.

When the wagon master saw me coming, he came to meet me, and when he saw
the load on my horse's back, he exclaimed, "Mr. Drannan, I would like to
know if there is anything that you can't do that you take a notion to
do. I had no idea that you would bring in a bear this evening than I had
of doing so myself. I was only joking when I suggested bear meat for

I answered, "Well, you had your joke, and you and the rest of us can
have Bear's Foot roasted for supper, and as I have wanted some bear meat
for several days, I can please you and myself at the same time."

The whole outfit was amazed when I spoke about roasting the bears' feet.
They had never heard of such a thing before. When I got all the feet
roasted, I took one from the coals and told the men to help themselves.
They all gathered around me to see how I fixed it so I could eat it.
When I had it ready to eat, the wagon boss said, "Well, who ever thought
of eating Bears' Feet? But it does look nice."

He watched me eat a few minutes and then made the remark that, as I
seemed to like it so well, he guessed he would try one, and it was not
long before the boys all had a taste of Bear's Foot.

After he had demolished a whole foot, the wagon boss said, "I have
tasted almost all kinds of meat, but I must say that I never ate any
meat as good as Bear's Foot."

Some of the boys asked me if I could get some more Bears' Feet for
supper the next night, and one said he would give me a dollar if I would
get a big foot for him.

We got an early start on the road the next morning, and we traveled
along all day without anything of interest taking place.

Along in the middle of the afternoon I told the boss that I guessed I
would go and hunt some more huckleberries. He said, "I would not exert
myself to get any more meat today if I were you. We have enough for
supper that was left over from last night."

"Yes, but I want some huckleberries, and I will pick enough for your and
my supper if I can find them."

I struck out and rode a mile or more, but I was not at any time more
than a half a mile from the train. I came to a little ridge. When I had
ridden to the top of it, I saw something in the way of game that was
a great surprise to me, as I had not seen any of that kind in several
years. It was a large flock of wild turkeys. I saw that they had not
discovered me as yet. I looked all around and could see no place where
they could roost except a little bunch of timber about a quarter of a
mile from where they were feeding. I got back out of sight and rode back
to the train as quickly as I could. When I overtook the train, the boss
was looking for a place to corral, and it was not long before all was in
shape for the night.

I asked the boss if he would like to go turkey hunting that night. His
answer was that he always went turkey hunting in the daytime, when he
could see to shoot them. I asked him if he had never hunted them at
night, and he said no, and had never heard of any one else doing such a

I said, "All right, I will go to the boys from Missouri and ask them,
for I have found a flock of wild turkeys, and I know where they roost."

When I told the Missouri boys of my find, they were wild for the hunt.
One said, "Do I know how to hunt turkeys by night? You bet I do, and I
have a shotgun that will fetch one every pop."

I said, "All right, you can have a chance to try your gun tonight, for
the moon will be bright tonight, and we will start right after supper,
and I think we will have some fun and all the turkeys we want besides,
for the flock was a large one that I saw this afternoon."

When I was ready, I found eight of the boys had their guns all ready
and were waiting for me. It was not over a half a mile from camp to the
grove where I felt sure we should find the turkeys. When we reached the
edge of the timber, I said, "Now, boys, I think we had better split up
and two go together, and when any of you see a turkey, shoot him."

In a few minutes all I could hear was "bang, bang" all around me, and
once in a while the cry "I've got one" as the hunter captured one he had

I spent most of my time laying at the foot of a tree, laughing and
watching the other fellows shoot and chase the turkeys, but the fun
did not last long. In a few minutes it was all over, and when the boys
gathered up their game, there were eleven turkeys, and I had not killed
a one, but I had my share of the sport in watching the others.

We struck back for camp, all the hunters feeling proud of what they
had done. When we reached camp, we found the cook waiting for us with
everything that would hold water and stand the fire that he could get
hold of full of steaming hot water, ready to scald the turkeys, and all
the men pitched in and helped to dress them.

When we were picking the turkeys, the boss said to the cook, "Say, John,
can't you preserve one of these birds, so it will keep until we get to
Santa Fe, and we will present it to Capt. McKee?"

John answered, "I am afraid it would not keep, Boss. There are too many
of us in this crowd that like turkey fried in bear's grease, and after
you have had breakfast in the morning, you won't say anything more about
preserving turkeys for somebody else to eat."

But notwithstanding this remark John kept two turkeys until we got to
Santa Fe the third day after the turkey hunt. We made the trip from
Rocky Ford to Santa Fe in thirteen days. We met Capt. McKee coming to
meet us about two miles before we reached our journey's end, and with
him was Col. Chivington, the commander of the Government Post at Santa
Fe. I was riding alone just a little ahead of the train. When I met
them, I saluted the Capt. and after we had shaken hands he introduced me
to the Col. whom I had never met before, although I had heard of him,
and he had heard of me also.

The Col. said, "Mr. Drannan, I have been acquainted with Capt. McKee for
several years, and have known him to have been a great Indian fighter,
but he tells me that you can do more with the Comanches alone than he
could do if he had five hundred soldiers to help him. Now, there must
be some secret about this, and I would like to be initiated into it. The
Capt. tells me that you went into the Comanches' main village alone, and
I presume there were several thousand warriors there at that time, and
what seems more wonderful to me," he said, "that you staid and ate
dinner with the head Chief. Now my friend, there must be something in
this unusual transaction. Will you tell me the secret of your influence
with the red men?"

I answered, "Col., if you were a member of a secret organization, would
you think it right to give away the secret to outsiders?"

At this answer the Capt. laughed and slapped the Col. on the back, and
said, "Col., I reckon, you have got your match in Mr. Drannan, for I
have never asked him a question that he did not find a way to answer me
without giving me the information that I was seeking."

Col. Chivington smiled but made no answer to the Capt. or me.

We rode in silence a few minutes, and then turning to me the Col. said,
"Mr. Drannan, I want you to come to my quarters tonight. I have a little
business that I would like to talk with you."

We soon got to headquarters, and as soon as the train was corralled, I
saw cook John coming to where the Col. the Capt. and I were standing,
and he had a turkey in each of his hands.

As soon as he reached us, he handed Capt. McKee one of the turkeys, with
the remark, "Here is your supper, Capt., and yours also, Col." and he
gave the other turkey to that Col.

They both looked at John in amazement, and the Col. said, "Thank you
very much, but where in creation did you get them?"

John answered, "I did not get them. You must give that honor to Mr.
Drannan, and I will say that he has provided every thing good to eat,
from turkey to bear feet, since we left Rocky Ford."

I went to Col. Chivington's quarters that evening, and as soon as we
were seated, he asked me if I intended to return with the train to
Bent's Fort.

I answered. "I have sent word to Mr. Bent that I was coming back to the
Fort as soon as I finished my business with the train here, but I have
not asked Capt. McKee whether Col. Bent wants my services or not."

At this moment Capt. McKee came in. I said, "Capt., what answer did Col.
Bent give to the message that I sent by you?"

He answered, "He said he wanted you to get back to the Fort as quickly
as you can, that they want you to go to the Comanche village on a
trading trip for them."

I turned to the Col. and said, "You see the position I am in, Col. You
must bear in mind that the train does not need an escort back to Bent's
Fort, for there are no Comanches between here and there, and I do not
see where there is anything to hinder the train in going back in perfect

The Col. then said, "Now Mr. Drannan, what do you expect for your
trouble in piloting the train here?"

I answered, "Col., I will leave that matter with you and Capt. McKee. He
knows what my services have been and what they were worth."

The Capt. said, "Col., it will be impossible to ever pay Mr. Drannan
the worth of what he has done to protect the train through the Comanche
country, in not only protecting the Government property, but the lives
of the men that were with the train. So Col., you will readily understand
what a difficult matter it is to put an estimate on what his services
calls for in money."

Col. Chivington sat in thought a few minutes and then said to me, "Mr.
Drannan, will two hundred and fifty dollars be a sufficient amount to
offer you?"

"That will be owing to circumstances, Col. If I drop the train here it
will, but if I am required to pilot the train back through the Comanche
country, I would not think of accepting so small an amount."

He then said, "Mr. Drannan, providing we employ you to take the train
back through the Comanche country, will there be need of any other
escort but yourself?"

I answered, "No sir, I would much prefer to handle the Indians by myself
than to have a crowd with me." I then said, "Col., you have the control
of this train. Why don't you make a contract with Col. Bent and Mr.
Roubidoux to load the train with Buffalo robes to freight back to the
Missouri river? I believe that if you could do so, it would nearly if
not quite pay the expense of the whole trip."

He answered, "That is something I had not thought of, but it looks as
if it might be a good scheme," and turning to the Capt. he said, "Capt.
McKee, will you return with Mr. Drannan to Bent's Fort and see if such
an arrangement can be made with Col. Bent and Mr. Roubidoux and report
to me as quickly as possible?"

The Capt. answered, "Yes, if you think it best, and we want to be on the
road early in the morning if I am to make such an arrangement."

Col. Chivington said, "Very well, I will hold the train here until I get
your report, and, Mr. Drannan, come to me in the morning, and I will
settle with you."

The Capt. and I now left the Col's, quarters, and on the way to our own
quarters the Capt. said, "Mr. Drannan, I think you were very unwise in
accepting so small an amount as two hundred and fifty dollars for your
efforts to save the lives, and more than that, think of what an expense
it would have been to the Government to fit out another train to take
the place of the one destroyed if the Indians had attacked it, which I
have no doubt they would if you had not been there to control them. A
thousand dollars is the least you ought to have accepted."

I answered, "Capt., I thank you for your interest in me, and I will
profit by it. I have another chance with the Col. if he employs me to
take the train back through the Comanche country, which I feel confident
he will."

The next morning we were up very early and ready to leave Santa Fe. I
went and bid the wagon boss and the other men of the train good bye and
told them of the arrangement now pending between the Col. and the
people at Bent's Fort. This news seemed to please the boys very much,
especially if I were to be their escort through the Indian country. The
wagon boss was anxious to know how soon we would know what we were
going to do. I told him we would know in eighteen or twenty days at the

Capt. McKee and I now went to the Col's. quarters, and he paid me the
two hundred and fifty dollars I had agreed to take. As we were leaving,
the Col. said, "Mr. Drannan, if the Capt. makes the arrangement in
regard to the freighting of the Buffalo robes, where can I find you?"

I answered, "I shall make Bent's Fort my headquarters from now on until
next spring."

Capt. McKee and I now pulled out for Bent's Fort. He being well
acquainted with the country, we did not take any road or trail, but took
our way across the country by the most direct route, and we made good
time all the way. As well as I can remember, it was called in the
neighborhood of three hundred miles from Santa Fe to Bent's Fort, and we
covered it in seven days on this trip.

When we landed at the Fort, Col. Bent and Mr. Roubedoux were both there.
Capt. McKee informed them what he had come for at once, and they were
more than anxious to close the deal with him, but they did not have
robes enough on hand to load the train. They then inquired how long it
would take the train to get there. The Capt. said he thought it would
take about twenty-five days; Col. Bent then turned to me and said, "Mr.
Drannan, will you take a pack train and go among the Indians and trade
for robes for us?"

I said, "Yes, I will." He asked how many days it would take to go to
the Indian village and get back. I answered, "To go to the main Indian
village and do the trading and get back here will take fourteen or
fifteen days."

Col. Bent asked me if I thought I could take twenty pack horses and go
to the Indian village and trade for and load them up with the help of
two men and get back to the Fort in fifteen days. I told him I thought I
could and was willing to try it anyway. "But, Col., I want you to send
the quickest and best packers in your employ to help me." He answered,
"I have two men that are number one packers, and you can rely on them in
every particular." I said, "All right, we will be off tomorrow morning."

We commenced to pack the goods that I was to trade for the Buffalo robes
which consisted of knives, rings and beads. We put each kind in boxes by
themselves. When I thought we had enough packed to trade for what robes
the horses could carry, Col. Bent said, "Here, Will, take some more,"
and he threw several knives and some rings, and a bunch of beads into
one of the boxes. "Maybe you will want a few to give some of the squaws
that are such friends to you down there. Such little gifts are never
lost among the Indians, you know, Will."

Col. Bent then sent some of his men out to gather up the pack horses so
he could pick out enough for a train.

The next morning Capt. McKee said he wanted to have a talk with me when
I was at leisure. I said, "Now is your time, Capt." So we started out
for a walk. We walked in silence. The Capt. seemed to be thinking. At
last he said, "Mr. Drannan, have you made any definite arrangements
with Col. Chivington regarding taking the train through the Comanche
country?" I answered, "No sir, I have not."

"What will you charge him if you take the job?"

I said, "Capt., I am not anxious to take the job, but if I take it, I
shall charge five hundred dollars for my services this time, and I would
like you to tell the Col. so when you go back to Santa Fe. I think this
amount will be very reasonable from the fact that there will be no
more expense. If he had to feed forty or fifty men and pay them wages
besides, he would find quite a difference, and after all, they would
be no protection to the train, and they and the drivers also would be
scalped before they had passed one Indian village. So taking all things
into consideration I think that Col. Chivington acted rather close with
me, more close than I shall allow him to do again." Capt. McKee said
that he thought my charges were very modest, and he continued, "There
is another thing I want to talk to you about, provided you go with this
train. What do you propose doing when you come back?"

I answered, "I am open for anything that is honorable and has enough
money in it to pay me."

He said, "I intended to make up a company soon to go down on the Pan
Handle country in Texas, and I expect to go down as far as Fort Worth. I
would like you to join me. What do you think of the idea, Mr. Drannan?"

"What is your object in going down there, Capt.?" I asked. He said,
"Western Texas is settling up very fast, and the Apache Indians are very
bad there. They are murdering the white people every day, and something
must be done to protect them from the Red fiends. I have seen enough of
your methods with the Indians to satisfy me that you understand them and
how to manage them better than anyone I have ever met with, and I am
sure you would suit me better than anyone that I know. If you will join
me in this undertaking, the state of Texas will pay us well for what we
do towards protecting the settlers. I believe the Apache Indians are the
most vicious as well as the most treacherous of any tribe of Indians
that ever infested the frontier from the fact that they are so mixed
with the Mexicans and never have been conquered."

I said, "Capt. McKee, if I take the train back and you are not gone when
I come back here, I will join you in this trip to Texas, or if you will
leave word where I can find you, if it is within two or three hundred
miles of here, I will come to you."

We turned back to the Fort with the understanding that, in case he left
the Fort without me, he would leave word where I could come to him.


The next morning my packers and myself were up early and ready to be off
for the Indian village. I told the boys to be sure and take a plenty of
rope as all the hides would have to be baled before they could be packed
on the horses. One man said, "I have four sacks full of rope, and I
reckon that will be enough."

Col. Bent asked me how many hides I thought I could pack on the horses.
I told him I could put twenty hides on each horse, and that would make
four hundred and forty hides in all. He said, "That would be a big load,
and I am afraid you cannot do it. Besides, it is early in the season for
the Indians to have so many robes. But do the best you can, and I shall
be satisfied." I bid the Col. and Capt. McKee good bye, and we were off.

The second night out we camped near a little village. I told the boys to
get supper, and I would go over to the village, and have a talk with the
Indians. As soon as the Indians saw me, they thought I had come to trade
with them. I told them that I was on the way to the main village and for
them to come there tomorrow, and I would be ready to trade with them.

[Illustration: The next morning we struck the trail for Bent's Fort.]

We landed at the main village about noon the next day, making the trip
in a half a day less than I had planned to do. We camped near the old
Chief's lodge. The boys commenced to get dinner, and I took the two
knives that I had promised the Chief and went to his wigwam. I greeted
him with a handshake and handed him the knives wrapped in a paper. He
opened the package, and I never saw such a smile on a face before as the
one that beamed on that Indian's. He examined the knives carefully, and
then he told me how proud he was of them and said in his own language he
would always be white brother's friend.

I told him that I would be ready to trade with his people the next
morning and asked him to inform them of the fact.

The boys had dinner ready when I went back to our camp. I told the boys
when I would commence to trade with the Indians, and that I wanted them
to be in readiness to begin packing the robes as soon as the Indians
gave them to me.

That afternoon I went around among the wigwams and visited the Indians,
and they seemed as pleased to see me as children are with a new toy. I
showed the squaws the rings and beads I had with me, and I showed the
knives to the braves also, and they could hardly wait until morning to
trade their Buffalo robes for them.

The squaws showed me the robes they had dressed since I was there the
last time, and I saw that they were in a fine condition.

The next morning they commenced coming very early, hardly giving me time
to eat my breakfast, and I fixed my price when I bought the first robe,
which was one string of beads for one robe, or two rings or one butcher
knife, and the reader can rest assured that the Indians kept me busy
handing out my goods and taking the robes in payment for them.

About noon one of the packers came to me and said, "Will, I think you
have all the robes the horses can carry." I told him to count them, and
then we would know, and in a short time he came back with the report
that we had bought four hundred and eighty-nine robes. I said, "That is
a few more than we can find a place for, isn't it?"

He said, "I reckon we can get them all on, and we will finish baling as
soon as we can, but don't trade for any more," and the boys certainly
did prove themselves to be expert balers as well as packers.

The next morning as they finished packing a horse, I had to hold him,
and so on until the horses were all packed. It was my job to take care
of them, and when the horses were all ready for the trail, they surely
were a sight to look at. Each horse was completely covered. All there
was to be seen of him was his head and his tail.

The next morning amidst the lamentations of the Indians because we could
not exchange more of our goods for robes, we struck the trail for Bent's
Fort, and we had the extraordinary good luck to cover the distance in
three days, and Col. Bent, and Mr. Roubidoux were very much surprised to
see us, as well as pleased.

They did not expect to see us in four days more, and when I told them
how many hides we had brought, they were more than pleased. Col. Bent
said, "Did you have any goods left over?"

I answered, "Yes sir, almost enough to have loaded another pack train."

He said, "Well, well, Will, you can have all our trading to do whenever
you want it."

I asked the Col. when he expected the train from Santa Fe. "I don't
think it will be here under four or five days," he answered, "and I want
you to make yourself at home and be easy until the train comes. You have
done enough to lay over awhile, and the rest won't hurt you."

The fourth morning after this I was saddling my horse to ride out on the
trail and see if I could see anything of the Government train when Col.
Bent asked me where I was going. I told him I was going to see if the
train was in sight, "and what is more important to me, I want to find
out whether I am going to escort the train through the Comanche country
or not."

Col. Bent said, "I thought that was understood. If I thought you were
not going to be the escort, I certainly would not trust my freight with
the train."

I said, "Col. Bent, I have not made any positive bargain with Col.
Chivington, and after Capt. McKee tells him what I said about the price
I intend to charge him for my services this trip, he may decide not to
employ me."

Col. Bent said, "Would you be offended if I asked you how much money
Col. Chivington paid you for that work, Will?"

I said I would not, and I then told Col. Bent the whole transaction, and
I also told him what I would charge to escort the train back through the
Comanche country, and that I would take the whole responsibility myself
without any helpers. Col. Bent said, "Col. Chivington was not fair to
you in offering you so small a sum for what you done to protect the
Government property, not speaking of the lives you probably saved
from the savages' arrows or tomahawks, and I think you charge a very
reasonable price if you undertake the job over again and you don't want
any one to help you, for they might upset all of your plans by doing
something to anger the Indians."

I answered, "Well, Col. I will soon settle the matter if I meet the

I then struck out and had ridden perhaps ten miles when I met Capt.
McKee and the wagon master coming just ahead of the train.

Capt. McKee said, "Why, Mr. Drannan, I thought you were at the Indian
villages trading for Buffalo robes."

I told him that I had been to the Indian village and bought all the
robes we could pack back to Bent's Fort and had been waiting for the
train to come four days.

Capt. McKee said, "And I expected to have to wait for you four days." I
said, "Now tell me what Col. Chivington had to say about my escorting
the train."

The Capt. laughed and said, "After the Col. had studied the matter over
for about twenty-four hours, he came to the conclusion that he could do
no better than employ you. So the job is yours, and Mr. Drannan, can you
tell me just about how long you will be gone so I can lay my plans to
meet you here at Bent's Fort?"

I said, "Capt., I want about twenty-five days to complete the trip, and
as soon as I return, Capt, I will be ready to join you in the expedition
to Texas, and Capt., I would like for you to bring my pay here so
I shall not have to go to Santa Fe after it when I come back from
escorting the train."

He answered, "I will arrange the matter so Col. Bent will settle with
you here."

The next morning Col. Bent had his men commenced to load the train, and
they put the entire day in this business. That evening the Col. said to
me, "Will, if you had a half a dozen more hides, we could not have put
them on the wagons."

When we were all ready to pull out, Col. Bent said, "Now Will, I want to
give you some presents to give to the squaws."

We went into the store room, and he gave me a dozen butcher knives,
saying, "The bucks will be jealous if they don't have something too,"
and he gave me a dozen rings, and a hand full of strings of beads and
said, "Now, Will, you can give these trinkets where you think best and
the knives too. I know the Comanche Indians are all friendly to you, but
these little trifles will cement their friendship."

I bid everybody at the Fort good bye, and we were off on the journey

Everything passed along smoothly for the next two days. We did not see
an Indian, and nothing happened to interfere with our progress. The
third evening we went into camp near a small Indian village. I rode
over to see the Indians and took a couple of knives and a few rings and
strings of beads with me. When I entered the village, I inquired where
the Chief's wigwam was. A couple of young bucks showed me where it was.

As soon as I saw the Chief, I knew him at once. He was "White Bird," and
he had not met me in a year, but he recognized me as quickly as I did
him. He invited me into his wigwam and asked me to eat supper with him,
which was ready in a short time. As we sat eating, two young squaws came
into the wigwam, and White Bird said they were his sisters. I took out
a butcher knife and gave it to him, and I gave a string of beads to his
squaw and one to each of his sisters. They all jumped up and commenced
to dance, and I think they kept it up for half an hour. Then White Bird
said in the language of his race, "White Bird and all the Indians of the
Comanche tribe always be pale face brother friend."

His sisters said they had some skins of the young dog which they would
tan and give to me so I could make some new clothes for myself.

The train pulled out from there, and the third day we came to the main
village. Before the train went into camp for the night, I told the wagon
boss that I was going to the Indian village and that he need not expect
to see me before midnight as I was going to have a good time with the

I gave my horse into the herders' care and struck out on foot for the
Indian village, which was about a half a mile from our camp. Before I
reached the Chief's wigwam, I met several Indians, and they accompanied
me to the Chief's lodge. Chief Light Foot saw me before I did him and
commenced to shout at the top of his voice, and as I reached his wigwam
the Indians were coming from every quarter.

As soon as Light Foot and I had shaken hands, he said, "Stay to supper,
and we have a peace smoke and peace dance tonight."

By the time we had finished that meal there was a dozen or more of his
uncle Chiefs at the wigwam, and we took our places for the peace smoke.

I will explain to the reader what the peace smoke is. We all took seats
in a circle around the head Chief. He lighted the peace pipe, which is
a special pipe kept to use on these occasions alone. He took the first
whiff himself, blowing it up into the air, and the second whiff he blew
into my face. I being his guest of honor, I sat at the right of him. The
third whiff he blew into the face of the Chief who sat on his left, and
then he passed the pipe to me. I went through the same performance and
passed the pipe to the next, and so the pipe went around the circle
until all had smoked, and in all the time this smoking was going on
there was not a smile or a grunt or a word spoken. Every motion was in
the most solemn way throughout the whole performance. As the last one
finished smoking, he passed the pipe to the head Chief, and all of the
Chiefs sprang to their feet and shook hands with me, from the head Chief
down, and the peace smoke was over.

I will say here for the instruction of the reader that the Indians never
held a peace smoke with others than the members of their own tribe,
without they had perfect confidence in the outsider, who always occupied
the seat of honor at the right side of the head Chief of the tribe.

After the peace smoke was over, everybody left the wigwam and everyone,
Chief, warriors, and squaws, all joined in the peace dance, I of course
taking a part with the rest. I never knew how many took a part in the
dance that night, which is always danced in a circle, and every Indian
has his or her own way of dancing, and all, old and young, male and
female, that take a part are singing.

It would be impossible to explain to the people of this age so they
would understand just what a peace dance is and how the people who took
part in it looked with the camp fires throwing their lurid light through
the darkness of the forest, lighting up the savage faces of the red men,
and the not-much-less wild faces of the squaws. It was a strange sight
then. How much more strange it would look to the people of this later

The dance lasted half an hour or more, and all the Indians of both sexes
then shook hands with me. I shook the Chief's hand last of all, and as
I did so, I gave him the other knife I had brought with me. He took it
and, brandishing it over his head, he shouted as loud as he could yell,
which was a signal for all the others to yell too and shake their hands
towards me. By my giving these knives to the head Chief of the tribe, I
cemented the friendship of him and through him of the whole tribe more
than I should if I had presented each one of his warriors with a knife.

Amidst the yells of the warriors and their squaws, I left them and
walked back to camp, well satisfied with what I had done towards
protecting the train as it passed through the Comanche country, for I
knew we would not have any trouble with the Indians of that tribe.

The wagon boss and several of the drivers were sitting at the fire
waiting for me. As I came up to the fire, the wagon boss said, "What in
the name of common sense was the racket about? Why, some of the time
this evening there was such a noise over there that we could not hear
ourselves think, much less talk."

I answered, "Why, I was just having a good dance with the squaws, and as
they all wanted to dance with me first, they made a little noise over

He asked, "How many squaws were there in the dance?" and I told him I
reckoned there were about a thousand in the crowd.

"And did you dance with a thousand squaws?" he inquired.

I answered, "Why, I certainly could not show any partiality there, could

He said, "Well, if you have danced with that many squaws, I guess you
are tired enough to sleep sound."

So we bid each other good night and turned in, and in a few moments
silence reigned over the camp.

We pulled out of this camp the next morning and did not see an Indian
for the next three days. On the third evening, as we were getting ready
to camp for the night, I discovered a small band of Indians coming
directly towards us. I told the wagon master where to corral the train,
and I then left him and rode on to meet the Indians. As I drew near
them, I saw that I knew them all. They were a small band of Comanches,
and when I met them they told me that they had been on a visit to the
Kiawah tribe and were hurrying to get back to the main Comanche village.
I told them of the peace dance I had taken a part in at the main village
a few nights before, and they expressed much regret that they had missed
the fun.

I asked them if there were many more of their tribe down the country
they had come from. They answered, "No more Comanches that way, all
gone to village," which proved to be a fact, for we did not see another
Comanche Indian on this trip.

I remained with the train four days after this, and, seeing that my
services were no longer needed, I told the wagon master that the train
was out of danger, as we had passed through the Comanche country, and
there would be nothing to interfere with their progress, so I would
leave them the next morning.

In the morning, when the wagon boss told the men that I was going to
leave them, a number of them came to me and insisted on my taking at
least ten dollars from each of them in payment for the bargain I had
made with the Comanche Chief regarding the passage of the train on its
way to Santa Fe.

Of course, I did not accept their hard-earned money. I told them that
I was glad of the privilege of saving their lives. And besides, the
Government would pay me for my services.

Cook John had a nice sack of bread ready for me, and I accepted his gift
gladly. I bid them all good bye and struck out for Bent's Fort, and it
was about as lonesome a journey as I ever made in my life. I avoided the
Indian villages when I could, for I knew that the Indians would take
more of my time than I could spare if I stopped at all.

I made a rule with myself when I first left the train to ride eight
hours and then stop and let my horse rest and feed four hours. This rule
I followed day and night, except a few times I overslept, but I gave my
horse his feed and rest just the same, and I was back at Bent's Fort on
the twenty-third day after leaving there with the train.

The next morning after I got there, Capt. McKee arrived, and he was very
much surprised to find me there before him. He had made arrangements for
Col. Bent to pay me for piloting the train through the Comanche country,
and Col. Bent settled with me that day. The next morning Capt. McKee and
I began our preparations for our journey to Texas. He had thirty-two
men with him when he came to the fort, and eight more joined us there,
making forty in all. Each man had two saddle horses, and there was one
pack horse to every four men. Everything being ready, we left Bent's
Fort on what would be considered in these days of rapid transit a long
and tiresome journey on horse back, over trackless mountains and plains,
through valleys, across rivers, in danger of attacks from wild animals
and still wilder red men.

I think we traveled between four and five hundred miles without seeing
a white person. We camped and lay over one day to give our horses rest
where the thriving little city of Amarillo now stands. At that time we
had no idea that vast prairie would ever be inhabited by the white race.
That part of Texas was the greatest country for Antelope at the time I
am speaking of that I had ever seen. Some days we saw a thousand or more
Antelope in one drove.

We now began to see plenty of Indian signs all along where we traveled.
There were no roads or trails to guide us. We had traveled down what
is now called the Pan Handle country, to where the city of Bowie now
stands, before we saw a white person after we left Bent's Fort. We met
three men there. They were going around through the country hunting for
men to assist them to look after a settlement that had been attacked by
the Indians the night before. They did not know what tribe had made the
attack. Capt. McKee said, "We will go with you and assist you if you
will lead us to the place."

We all struck out with the men, and after riding perhaps five miles, we
came to the settlement and found that one man had been killed and all
the horses and cattle belonging to the people had been driven off.

Capt. McKee asked if they knew what tribe of Indians had made the
attack. They answered that they did not know, as it was very dark when
the Indians first came, and they could not see them, but they had a
skirmish with them, and one man was killed, and the Indians drove the
horses and cattle off in a southerly direction. The Capt. asked me if
I thought it would be best to follow the savages and try to take the
horses and cattle away from them.

I said, "Capt., these people have lost everything they had to depend on
to get a living, and what will they do if someone does not do something
to help them? And all the way to do that is to get their horses and
cattle and return them to the owners."

He answered, "Well, if you will take the lead and do the scout work, we
will strike the trail of the Red devils at once."

I said, "All right, Capt., you pick out two good men to assist me, and
we will be off at once, for the sooner we are after them the quicker we
may overhaul the Red murdering thieves."

In a few minutes the Capt. came to me, and with him were two men. He
said, "These men say they are willing to do all they can to help." I
said, "I will take the lead, and don't you pay any attention to my
movements. You take the trail and follow it as long as you can see
it, and when it is too dark to see, go into camp, and if I locate the
Indians, whether they are in camp or on the move, I will inform you at

It was in the middle of the afternoon when we pulled out on the trail of
the Indians. After following them eight or ten miles, I decided in my
mind that there were not more than forty Indians in the band we were

I said, "Now boys, if we catch these Indians in camp, we can wipe them
out and not leave one of them to tell the tale. We have a bright moon
tonight, and their trail is so fresh and plain there will be no trouble
in following it."

One man asked if I thought we could overtake the Indians in their first
camp. I answered, "I think we can, for the Indians will have no fear of
being followed and will not be in a hurry and will be off their guard."

We pushed on until about eleven o'clock in the night when we rode up
on a little ridge, and, on looking down in the valley beyond, we saw
several camp fires, but they were burning very dimly.

I said, "Boys, there are your Indians, and I want one of you to stay
here and hold the horses, and the other to go with me, and we will
investigate the matter," and said to the man that we left with the
horses, "If you hear the report of a gun, mount your horse and lead ours
to us at once, for the gun shot will be a signal that we are in trouble
and want you to assist us."

My companion and I crawled down near the camp fires, and we saw that all
the Indians were lying around the fires asleep, but they were scattered
about so that I could not count them.

I whispered to my companion, "Now let us find the stock."

We crept down a little further and found the horses and cattle all
feeding quietly, and they were all bunched up together. We went back to
the man who had the horses. I told him to mount his horse and take the
trail back until he met Capt. McKee and to tell him what we had found,
and if it was possible for him to get here by daybreak to do so, "for if
we can all be together before daylight, I think we can capture the whole
outfit without losing a man."

He mounted his horse and was off at once. He had been gone perhaps an
hour, and my comrade and I were sitting talking, when he raised his hand
and said, "Hush, I hear something."

"What did it sound like?" I said.

"Like a horse snorting," and he pointed up the trail the way the Capt.
should come. We sprang to our feet and listened, and in a minute more we
heard the tramp of the horses' feet. We quickly mounted our horses and
went to meet them. I told the Capt. what we had found and what position
the Indians were in.

He said, "Mr. Drannan, what do you think is the best way to attack
them?" I answered, "It is the easiest thing to do imaginable Capt., if
we only work the thing right. Dismount all but ten of the men, and we
will crawl down and surround the Indians and not fire a shot until
daybreak or till they commence getting up, and when we that are on foot
commence firing, the ten on horseback must charge down the hill, and if
any of the Indians escape our bullets, the mounted men must follow them
and shoot them down. When the Indians find that the Whites are after
them, they will make a rush for their horses, and that is the time for
the mounted men to get their work in."

The Capt. thought a few minutes and then said, "I believe your plan is a
grand idea, and we will follow it."

He selected the ten men and then asked me where he should place them. I
showed him where I thought was the best place for them to stand. I then
pointed to the place where the stock was still feeding and said, "Now
boys, when you make your charge on the Indians, charge down between the
stock and the fires, and by doing so you will catch the Indians as they
run for their horses, and be sure and get every one of them. Don't let
one get away."

Everything being understood, we that were on foot commenced to crawl
down towards the sleeping Indians' camp. The day was just beginning to
break when we got fixed in our positions around them, and it was nearly
sunrise before any of the savages crawled out of their blankets. As soon
as the first one got out, we shot him down, and we continued to shoot as
long as an Indian remained alive. The men on horseback gave a yell and
made the charge. When they reached Capt. McKee, one of the horsemen
said, "Where is our part of the fight? We didn't get any chance to fire
a shot."

The Capt. answered, "It is all over, boys. You will have to wait for the
next time for your shot, for I do not think one of this band is alive
for you to shoot at. It was one of the quickest-won battles I was ever
engaged in," and turning to me the Capt. said, "Mr. Drannan, you ought
to join the army, for you would make a first-class General, and I am
sure would always lead your men to victory in Indian warfare any way."

We now led our horses down to the Indian camp and staked them out to
get their breakfast from the juicy grass that was very abundant in the
valley, and then we began to think that we were very hungry ourselves.
We had not had a bite to eat since the morning before, and the hard
day's ride and no supper and the all-night vigil had about used us up.

Capt. McKee said, "Come, boys let's get some breakfast, for I for one am
nearly starved, and we will lay over here until tomorrow morning and let
our horses rest and get a little rest ourselves."

After we had satisfied our hunger with a slice of Antelope broiled over
the fire and some bread and a cup of coffee, Capt. McKee said to me,
"Let us look around and see how many dead Indians we can find."

We struck out together, and we counted thirty-eight, and not one of them
had got ten feet from where he had slept, and all their blankets lay
just as they had crawled out of them.

I said at the time, and I think now, that that was the most accurate
shooting and with the least excitement of any Indian fight I was ever
in. It seemed as if every man was as cool as if he was shooting at
prairie dogs, and every shot hit the mark. We did not touch the dead
Indians but left them as a warning to others who might come that way. We
next looked after the stock. By examining the horses, we found that they
tallied with the number of Indians, for every horse that belonged to the
Indians had a hair rope around his neck, which was a custom followed by
all the Western Indians at that time, as by marking a half hitch around
the horse's nose he made a bridle of it.

We found twenty-two horses and thirty-two head of cattle that the
Indians had stolen from the white settlers. Capt. McKee looked the
horses over that had belonged to the Indians and said, "Those are the
most valuable horses that I ever saw in the possession of the Indians.
They are all good stock, and we will get a good price for them if we
take them to Fort Worth, for good horses bring good money there."

When we returned to camp, we saw that two of the young men had their
horses saddled. The Capt. asked them where they were going. One of them
answered that, as they did not earn any of the honor that morning in
killing Indians, they would try to kill some deer for supper, as they
knew they would enjoy a piece of good, fat venison and thought the
others would, and they believed there was plenty of deer all around

Capt. McKee and I spread our blankets and laid down to try and make up
for some of the sleep we had lost while in pursuit of the Indians.

About three o'clock one of the boys came and woke us up, saying they had
some fine venison all cooked and ready for supper, and that was one of
the times that I enjoyed a venison roast. It was as fat and tender as a
young chicken.

The next morning we pulled out of there bright and early, and it took us
two days to make it back to the settlement that the Indians had robbed
and in whose behalf Capt. McKee and I had gone out to punish the
thieves, with what success the reader already knows.

As soon as we landed, we sent word to all that had been robbed to come
and get their stock. Each owner came and claimed what belonged to him,
and when all had taken what they said belonged to them, there were still
four horses left unclaimed. These horses we never found an owner for, so
we kept them ourselves. The settlers whose property we had returned to
them now met and came to find out how much we intended to charge them
for what we had done for them. We knew that these people were all poor,
and we told them that they might give us what they could afford to pay
without distressing themselves. They made up one hundred and forty-four
dollars and gave it to us, which was a much larger sum than we expected
to receive. After thanking them for their generous payment and refusing
their invitation to stay with them longer, we bid them all good bye and
continued on our journey to Fort Worth, which had been interrupted by
the Indian raid on the settlement.

We had ridden to within ten miles or so of Fort Worth when we met an old
acquaintance of Capt. McKee. His name was Reese. There were two other
men with him, and they all three wanted to purchase horses. They
examined all the horses we had, and then they asked Capt. McKee what we
would take for the entire lot. The Capt. asked me what I thought would
be a fair price. I answered, "Let the men make an offer before we set a

When the Capt asked them what they would give for them, they said they
would give a hundred dollars apiece for them if we would help them drive
the horses to Dallas.

I told the men that we would let them have the whole bunch and help
drive them to Dallas for a hundred and ten dollars apiece. The three men
rode off a few yards and consulted together a few minutes. When they
came back, they said they would take the horses on my terms.

Capt McKee then told his men to go on to Fort Worth and go into camp,
and he told them where to camp and to wait for us and we would come to
them as soon as we could. The Capt. then told Mr. Reese to lead on and
we would follow.

We drove the horses to Dallas without any trouble and delivered them at
Mr. Reese's stable. He paid us the money for them, and we lost no time
in pulling out for Fort Worth. It was thirty-two miles from Dallas to
Fort Worth, and we passed two houses on the way from there to Fort Worth
at the time of which I am writing. I think there were about fifty houses
in Fort Worth. I do not know the number there were at Dallas. The place
was somewhat larger, but it was a small town.

[Illustration: I took the lead.]


When we reached Fort Worth, the news met us that the Indians were on the
war path in western Texas and were raiding all the white settlements,
killing the people and driving off their stock throughout all that part
of the state.

We laid in a supply of provisions and tobacco, enough to last three
months, and struck the trail for western Texas. The fourth day after
we left Fort Worth, we came to a settlement, and all the people were
natives of Tennessee, and as that was my native state, I soon made many

The people of the settlement had met together that morning to try to
plan some way to stop the depredations of the Indians, but they did not
know what to do or where to commence, and they were glad to see the
Capt., he being well known as an Indian fighter all over Texas.

When they asked him what he thought best to be done, he said that he
could not advise them what to do, but he had come to that part of the
State to protect the settlements from the outrages of the savages for
the next six months.

We rode to the edge of the settlement and went into camp, thinking we
would stay there until towards evening. We had just eaten our dinner
when two of the settlers came to our camp and in a very excited manner
told us that a small band of Indians had just gone into camp a few miles
from the settlement.

We asked them how they got the news. They said that two of the men had
been out hunting and saw the Indians when they went into camp.

We told these men to go and bring the men who'd seen the Indians' camp
so we could get all the particulars from them. In a few moments the
hunters were with us. I asked them how far the Indians' camp was from
the settlement.

"Not over five miles," one of them said. I asked which way the Indians
had come from and if there were any squaws with them. The answer was
that the Indians had come from an eastern direction and there were no
squaws with them, and they were driving quite a large band of horses.

Capt. McKee said to me, "What do you think of it?"

I said, "Capt., I am afraid they will move again before night, but I
want one of these men to go and show me where the Indians are, and I
will locate their camp tonight, and we can get every one of them and the
horses too."

Capt. McKee said, "That is a good idea. How many men do you want to go
with you?"

I said, "Give me the two men that went with me on the other Indian

In a little while my men and I were off. I told the Capt. to stay in
that camp until he heard from me, which would be before dark.

We had ridden between four and five miles when we came to a little
ridge, and, stopping and pointing to a little bunch of timber, my guard
said, "The Indians' camp is there."

We dismounted, and, taking one man with me, I crawled to the top of the
hill and looked over, and sure enough, there was a small band of Indians
squatted around their camp fire, smoking and talking and apparently not
fearing any danger.

I told my companion to count them, and I would count too, and we might
find out how many there were. I crawled around in the brush keeping out
of sight, and I counted forty-eight, and my men made out fifty-one. We
crept along on the ridge to see if we could find out how many horses
the Indians had with them, but we could not count them, although I was
satisfied that there were at least a hundred horses feeding in the
valley. Some few of them were staked out, but the most of them were
feeding where they chose.

We went back to our horses, and I told the boys to take the horses to
a little ravine which was a short distance from us and to find a place
where they could not be seen and to stay with them until they heard from
me, for I intended to watch the Indians, and if they did not move before
sundown I would send one of them to the Capt.

I went back to the edge of the ridge where I could see the savages and
watch their movements. They sat and lay around on the grass until nearly
sunset when a few of them went to the horses that were staked out and
commenced to move them to fresh places to feed, which convinced me that
they intended to stay where they were that night. I crept down the ridge
to the ravine where the boys were with our horses and told one of them
to go back to Capt. McKee and tell him we had found the Indian camp, and
that the Indians intended to stay the night where they were, and that I
wanted him and the rest of the men to come to me, but not before ten or
eleven o'clock that night.

The other man and I led our horses further up the ridge and hitched
them, and we then crawled to the top, where we could watch the Indians
and not be seen by them. It was not nine o'clock before all the savages
had turned in for the night. Seeing that we could now leave the Indians
to their slumbers in safety, my companion and I now mounted our horses
and struck out to meet the Capt. and his men. We had ridden perhaps a
mile when we met the company. I told Capt. McKee how many Indians there
were in the band and how many horses they had with them. He said, "Can
we take as good advantage of this outfit as we did of the other one?"

I said, "I think we can, only there are more of them to fight in this
band, but as far as the ground is concerned we have all the advantage,
and we had better station ourselves around them just as we did before
and wait for daybreak, or until the Indians begin getting up."

"Shall we have a reserve on horseback as we did before?" he asked.

I told him I did not think it would be necessary in this case. We could
get between the Indians and their horses, and if they started to run for
their horses as they surely would, they would put themselves into our
clutches. And besides, this way would be more pleasing to the men, as
they all would have the same chance to shoot Indians alike and could
find no grounds to murmur, as they had the last fight.

We rode to within a quarter of a mile of the Indian camp, dismounted and
hitched our horses, and we all got near together, and I explained to all
the boys the position that all the Indians were in, and also where the
horses were.

I took the lead, and we crawled down and took our stations around the
sleeping Indians' camp. When every man was stationed and ready for the
Capt's. word to proceed to business, Capt. McKee crawled to the place
where I was waiting and whispered, "Why not make the charge at once?
I will go around and tell the boys, and we will begin the attack with
knives. I could kill a half a dozen Indians before the others are
aroused, and when the others begin getting up, pull our pistols and
finish them before they are fairly awake, and don't let any of them get
away. When you see me in among them it will be your time to begin."

He left me as silently as he had come, and I waited, hardly breathing,
till I saw his form outlined among the shadows, as the full moon
flickered through the branches of the trees.

As soon as the Capt. reached the Indians, every man sprang for the
nearest one, and it was a lively little fight for me at least. The first
two Indians I struck never gave a grunt, for I nearly severed their head
from their bodies. The third one, as I made for him, shouted, "Woughe,"
and sprang to his feet. I hit him on the back of the neck, but I gave
him the third blow before he went down. Just as he doubled up, I saw
another coming directly for me, running at full speed. I jerked my
pistol, and when he was in a few feet of me I fired, and he fell, and
now I could hear the pistols firing thick, and fast, but no more Indians
came near me, and the fight lasted but a few minutes longer. One of
our men had a hand-to-hand fight with an Indian. They both fought with
knives. I did not see the fight, although they must have been near me,
and he was the only man that was wounded in the fight, and he was only
slightly wounded. He told me that the first he saw of the Indian he was
right before him brandishing his long knife, and he said, "I had to work
lively for a little bit, you may rest assured, but I finally got a lick
at his short ribs, and then I gave him another on the back of the neck
and that got him."

As soon as the pistols ceased firing, Capt. McKee came to me and said,
"I think we have got them all."

I said, "Now Capt., call the boys together and see if any are wounded."

He stepped out a little ways and called to the men. "If anyone is hurt,
report to me at once, so we can attend to you."

No one came to us but the one I have spoken about. He was cut on one
arm and had a slight cut on one shoulder. The Capt. said, "Now boys, go
around to every dead Indian and take every knife and anything else that
you can find that is of any value and bring them here and lay them in a
pile," and then he gave me a title when he said, "The scout and I will
go and see about the horses."

Capt. McKee gave me this title in fun that night, but he little thought
that years after that night I would win the right to not only be called
a scout but would have the honor conferred on me of "Capt., Chief of

We went to where the horses were feeding, but they were so mixed that we
could not count them. After we had looked at some of them, the Capt.,
said, "I wonder where the Indians stole them. Such fine horses are not
found every where. Perhaps after daylight we may discover some brand
that will show whom they belong to."

We went back to the Indians' camp and saw that the boys had gathered up
all that belonged to them. Each one of them had had a nice blanket and
nearly all of them had butcher knives. The Capt., said, "Now we will get
our horses and stake them out so they can feed, and we will get to our
blankets and try to get a few hours rest, for I am dead tired, and I
reckon the rest of you boys don't feel any better."

It was nearly sunrise when I opened my eyes in the morning, and there
were only a few others stirring, and I was not long in getting something
to eat, for I had not broken my fast since noon the day before. In a
short time all the men were cooking their breakfast and as soon as the
meal was over Capt. McKee asked me what we should do with those horses.
I told him, we could not fight Indians and care for a band of horses at
the same time. We must drive the horses some where and sell them, and I
think we had better go back to Fort Worth, and if we can not dispose of
them there we can take them to Dallas.

The Capt. then called four of the men to us and told them to go out
where the horses were and count them and to be sure and get the right
number. They were gone about an hour, and when they came back they said
there were one hundred and twenty horses out there, and one of the men
said, "Some of those horses are of the finest breed that I ever saw, and
nearly all of them have been broke to the harness, for I could see the
marks where the collars have rubbed the hair off their shoulders, and
I bet those Indians drove those horses hundreds of miles, maybe from
Kansas or Arkansas, and they and the horses being so tired was the
reason that the Indians stopped here to rest."

Capt. McKee and I went back and took another look at the horses, and we
found them to be much better horses than we had thought them to be, but
we could find no brand on them or any thing that would show whom they
belonged to. This convinced us that they had been stolen from farmers.
As the horses showed that they had been driven hard and we thought
a long distance, we decided to stay over one day as the grass was
plentiful and a stream of pure, cool water ran a few feet from where
they were feeding.

Three of the other men and myself went hunting, and we killed six
Antelope and were back in time to cook some for dinner. Capt. McKee
and I cooked dinner together that day, and while we ate he told me the
conditions he had hired the men to work under. He said he had guaranteed
them twenty-five dollars a month, and each man was to pay his portion
of the grub bill. "So you can see that the men have no share in these
horses, and what we can make out of the sale Of them belongs to you
and me alone. And I think we had better pull out for Fort Worth in the
morning, and try to dispose of them there."

So the next morning we pulled out, the Capt. and I taking the lead, and
the men driving the horses after us.

The evening of the fourth day we reached Fort Worth.

That night we camped a little south of where the Union depot now stands.

The next morning Capt. McKee and I rode into the town to see if we could
find a purchaser for our horses. We found a number of men who wanted
horses, but each man only wanted a few. Of course, the first question
was what price we asked for them. The Capt. and I had set the price at
one hundred and twenty-five dollars apiece, which we considered very
cheap for such fine stock.

We talked with a number of men, and a few of them said they would come
to our camp and look at the horses. So we rode back, and by noon we had
sold half of our horses. I heard one man say as he rode off leading four
horses that he had paid one hundred and twenty-five dollars apiece for,
that he had made a bargain, as he would not take two hundred dollars for
the worst-looking one.

After dinner that day a man came and looked at the horses we had left
and said, "You are selling your horses too cheap. If you can stay here a
few days and let your horses rest, and the people have time to find out
what good stock you have for sale, it would pay you well, and you will
have no trouble in selling your horses for a much higher price than you
have been asking."

The Capt. answered that we had other business to look after, and it was
very necessary for us to get rid of the horses as quickly as possible,
even if we had to sell them at a disadvantage. The man said, "Well, I
will send some men to you this afternoon, and perhaps you can make a
bargain with them."

Before the next night we had sold all of our horses at our own price.
Capt McKee said, "I think I will settle up with the boys, and then we
will see how we stand."

I said, "I think you had better lay in enough provisions to last three
months, Capt., for we do not know where we shall be or whether we can
get any as good as we can here. And besides, we may not always have such
good luck as we have been having the last few weeks."

Capt. McKee bought the grub and then settled with the boys, and then he
came to me and said, "Now we will settle between ourselves."

We walked a few yards away from camp and sat down under a large tree,
and he showed me a little book where he had everything set down in black
and white, and when all was reckoned up there were twenty two hundred
and eighty dollars to divide between us two.

As soon as we had divided the money, he said, "Now, are you willing to
do the scout work and take the lead of this company? You are the only
one in the outfit who understands the duties of a scout. I know this
work will very often place you in positions that will be anything but
pleasant, but someone must take the chances, and your knowledge of the
Indians and his ways of fighting makes you more suitable than any one
else in the company."

I said, "I will accept the position, Capt., if I can have the two men
that have been with me in the last two hunts, and one more man. And
another thing I want understood is that we four men will be exempt from
all camp duty and have the privilege of going and coming any time we
please without being interfered with."

He said, "All that suits me, and I will see that you are also exempt
from cooking. Your meals will be prepared for you from this on."

Capt. McKee now called the men I had selected, and one of the others to
come to him, and when they came, he told them of the arrangements we had
made and told them they must look to me for their instructions in the
future if they were willing to accept the positions as assistants. They
all said they were willing to undertake the job if I was willing to
teach them what I wanted them to do. One of them said, "Mr. Drannan,
when I make a mistake, I want you to tell me of it at once, for I want
to do right in everything as much as you will want me to."

I answered that we would commence by learning the private signals to
be used when in the Indian country, which I would teach them tomorrow

After we went into camp the next morning, just as we were getting ready
to pull out, two men came and told us that the Indians were doing
a great deal of damage about seventy-five miles in a southwestern
direction from Fort Worth. He said they had been making raids on the
settlements every few days for several weeks and had killed several
people, and the settlers were kept in a constant fear day and night.

As the Capt. was well acquainted all over the country, he knew just
where to direct our course, and we pulled out in that direction making
as good time on the way as possible.

The second night after we left Fort Worth, we camped on the edge of one
of the settlements where the Indians had been making so much trouble. As
soon as we were settled in camp, I rode to a house that was perhaps a
half a mile from us to get some information regarding the Indians. The
man of the house said that the Indians had come every ten days and
sometimes oftener, and, said he, "The Indians do not try to kill the
people as much as they did to steal the stock or anything else that they
could get their hands on."

I asked him what direction the Indians came from, and he answered that
they invariably came from the west. I asked whether they were in large
or small bands. He said there were seldom more than thirty in a band,
and they always came up that river, and he pointed to a small stream not
far from us.

I rode back to camp and told Capt. McKee what I had learned. He said,
"The Indians must be very sure that no one will be after them now. What
do you think is the best plan to adopt?"

I told him that I thought we had better travel down the stream that the
Indians seemed to make a pathway of, for one day at least, and go into
camp at night, and I would scout around the country and find their main
trails, for I was satisfied that only a part of the band came to this
settlement. "And what we want to do, Capt., is to cripple them so they
would let this settlement alone, and we can do it if we can catch the
main band."

We pulled down this little stream and traveled in that direction.

All day we saw lots of Indian sign all the way, but none of them was
fresh. As we were going into camp that evening, I told Capt. McKee that
my scouts and I would take a circle around the camp and see if there
were any Indian camp fires to be seen.

We rode about three miles on top of a high ridge, and looking off to the
west we saw a large Indian camp. I knew this by the number of fires they
had burning. I pointed to the fires and said to the boys, "There they
are. We have found the main camp. But now the difficulty will be to get
to them without being discovered by them."

As the darkness was coming on, I could not see well enough to tell how
far the Indian camp was from where we stood, but we struck out towards
the fires. I told the boys to ride carefully and keep close together,
and for each man to keep a close watch in every direction.

We rode about two miles, and almost before we were aware of it, we were
close to the Indian camp. I tried my best to count them, but I could not
make out the number of Indians there were in the camp. Their horses were
staked all around them, and I could not count them either.

I said, "Now boys, we will go back and report to Capt. McKee and see
what he thinks is best to do."

It was late when we got back to camp, and they were awaiting our return.
Before turning in for the night, I told the Capt. what we had found, and
the position of the Indian camp, and that I thought they were about five
miles from us.

He sat in thought a few minutes and, turning to me, said, "What plan
have you in your mind about making an attack on that camp, Mr. Drannan?"

I said, "They are so scattered that in my opinion it would be impossible
to get them all, and I think the best way to make an attack on them
would be at daybreak, and for us all to be mounted on our horses. You
and your men make the attack, and me and my scouts make a dash for their
horses and cut them loose and run them off out of the Indians' reach.
Now Capt., I am satisfied that this fight will be no child's play,
but will be a nasty little fight, but if we can get the Indians on a
stampede and keep them from getting to their horses, I think we can run
them down and get the most of them."

The Capt. told the men that they had better not go to sleep that night.

"If we sit around the fire here until three or four o'clock in the
morning, you will all get over your scare and feel more like fighting."

One of the boys laughed and said, "It don't affect me in that way, Capt.
The more I study about a bad scrape that I expect to get into, the more
nervous it makes me."

Capt. McKee answered, "Perhaps you will fight better when you are
nervous than you would if you were cool. Anyway, we will take the

We sat around the fire and told stories and smoked until about one
o'clock in the morning, and then we saddled our horses and pulled out
for the Indian camp and arrived there in good time to look around and
see if we could take any advantage of the Indians in the coming fight.

The Capt. selected the place to make the attack and told his men that he
and they would sit on their horses and watch for the first Indian to get
up, and as soon as the first Indian attempted to get up, they must make
the charge, and every man must do all the shouting he could, "for," said
the Capt. "if we can get the Indians stampeded once, we will have as
good a thing as we want."

I told my scouts, that we would cut the horses loose and turn them in
the opposite direction from the one the Capt. was making the charge, and
I told the men to cut the horses loose as fast as they came to them, and
to pay no attention to the Indians unless they saw them coming towards
the horses, but if the Indians, one or many, seemed likely to get to the
horses, to pull their pistols and shoot them down before they caught
the horses, "for," I said, "every horse we drive away will be equal to
killing an Indian, for it will be putting him in the way of the other
boy's bullets."

We did not have to wait long before the sound of the guns and the yells
of the men as they made the attack on the half-awake Indians reached us,
and the din that the two noises made was something dreadful to listen to
as it broke on the stillness of the early morning, but my men and I had
too much to attend to to pay much attention to what the others were

After the fight had been going on a little while, one of my scouts came
to me and said, "I think we have got all the horses loose."

I answered, "Well, we will drive them all to the top of the hill, and
then they will be safe from their Indian masters."

We were not long in driving them there. I told one of the boys to stay
and look out for the horses, and I and the other two would go back and
see if any of the horses had been overlooked in our hurry.

When we reached the village again, we could only hear a shot once in a
while, and the yelling had ceased altogether.

We sat on our horses and waited for the pursuers to come back, and in a
half an hour the Capt. and all his men were back to the Indian camp.

I asked the Capt. if he got them all. He answered, "I think we did, and
I saw the bravest Indian that I ever saw before. After he had been shot
three times, he still fought and wounded two of my men."

While the Capt. was speaking, one of the men came near us and raising
his right arm said, "Look at that," and I saw where he had been shot
through the fleshy part of his arm with an arrow, and calling one of the
other men by name, he said, "And the same Indian shot him through the
leg, after he had shot the Indian twice, and then I got a hit at him,
and as he fell he gave me this wound in the arm. Either one of the three
shots we hit him with would have killed any ordinary man."

Capt. McKee now said, "Come, boys, we will scatter all over this little
valley and look carefully into every bunch of brush and see if there are
any of the Red skins left."

After they had searched a half an hour, all the men returned without
finding an Indian. The Capt. said to me, "Where shall we make our camp?
For we are very tired and need some sleep."

I answered, "Why not camp here? There is plenty of grass for the horses,
and that stream of water that we can hear gurgling through the stones is
as cool as I ever drank, and my men and I can go and drive the horses
down the hill again and relieve the man that is watching them."

Capt. McKee said, "All right, and the men can get breakfast while you
and I go and count the horses."

We counted them three times and made sixty-six each time.

The Capt. said, "I don't believe there were that many Indians in the
band. If there were that number and only two men wounded, and all the
Indians killed, it will be a wonderful story to tell.

"After we have had our breakfast, we will look around and find and count
all the dead Indians and see if the number tallies with the number of
horses they had."

In a few minutes the boys that were cooking called out that breakfast
was ready, and I was one of the crowd that was ready to eat it.

While we were eating I was amused at one of the boys who was telling of
the shines an Indian cut up after he had shot him.

He said he thought he had given the Indian a dead shot, but after he was
hit, the Indian rolled over just like a dog that had been whipped, and
that he did not think the Indian stopped rolling as long as the breath
was in him.

As soon as we had eaten our breakfast the Capt. and I and four others
started out to search for and count the dead Indians. We looked around
about an hour and a half, and we found forty-two Indian bodies, and they
were nearly all armed with bows and arrows, only a few having knives.

Capt. McKee said he thought that we were the luckiest men that ever
hunted Indians.

"Just think," said he, "what we have done in the last month, and we have
not lost a man. If we keep this kind of warfare up all summer, there
will be no Apache Indians left to bother the settlers. Besides, when
these warriors do not return, the rest of the tribe will think that
something is wrong, and they will take the hint, and we will be rid of
them in two or three months."

We now went back to camp, and we all turned in for a day's sleep. As we
were laying down, Capt. McKee said, "The first of you that is awake go
out and kill some deer, for we want some fresh meat to eat."

When I awoke it was near night, and the boys were cooking venison around
the fire. I inquired who had been hunting. They said no one, that the
deer came and hunted them, that when they awoke they saw a band of deer
out feeding near the horses, and they got four deer out of the band.

I went and found the Capt. fast asleep. I woke him, and we had supper.

I asked him what course we would take next. He said, "There are some
settlements up on the Colorado river that we have not heard from in
quite a while, and we will go and look after them."

I asked, "On what part of the Colorado river?" and he said, "At Austin."

We had a good night's sleep, and we were astir very early in the morning
and pulled out in the direction of Austin, Capt. McKee and I taking the
lead, and the boys following driving the horses we had captured from the

Late that afternoon we struck the trail of a small band of Indians. I
did not go far before I saw that it was quite fresh. I told the Capt.
that he had better camp there, for there was plenty of grass and a nice
stream of water, and let my scouts and me follow the trail and see if we
could find them, to which he consented. My men and I left the main party
and started on the trail of the Indians. After trailing them four or
five miles in an almost eastern direction, the trail turned to the
southwest. We kept on for four or five miles more, and then we came to
where the Indians were in camp. I had kept the lay of the country and
the direction of our camp in my mind, and when I saw the Indians, I knew
that their camp was near ours.

They had a fire and were cooking meat around it. We counted them and
found that there were thirteen Indians in the band.

I said, "Now boys, we will go back to our own camp and report to the
Capt. at once," and I was really surprised to find it was so short a
distance between the Indians' camp and ours. It was not more than a mile
from one to the other.

When we reached camp, we found the Capt. and the men waiting for us and
very anxious to hear what we had found. I reported to the Capt., and he
asked when I thought it best to go after the Red wretches. I told him
there was so small a bunch of them I did not think it mattered, but as
his favorite time for an attack seemed to be at break of day, I supposed
we could wait until then for this one.

He laughed and said, "The break of day has been your time, not mine, Mr.
Drannan. You have done all the planning and led all the fights in this
campaign, but I am glad to admit that it has been a grand success, and
so far you have come out with flying colors."

I said, "Well, Capt., I think in this case we can take a little nap and
be up in time to take that outfit before they have time to wake up, for
it is no more than a mile from here to their camp."

Capt. McKee answered, "I reckon you are right. There are so few of them
that we shall not have to delay breakfast to get them."

We all turned in, and, although we knew that Indians were so near us, we
were not afraid to sleep without placing a guard over the camp.

When I awoke, I looked at my watch and saw it was two o'clock. I called
the Capt. and told him that it was time we were moving. He asked whether
we should go on horseback or on foot. I said, "We can walk there while
we would be saddling the horses, it is so short a distance." He said,
"All right, we will take twelve men with us," and in a few minutes we
were on the road. When we came in sight of the dimly burning campfires
of the Indians, I pointed to them and told the Capt. that was the place,
and I said, "We will be very careful and not make any noise, and I think
we can send them to the Happy hunting grounds while they sleep." But the
reader may imagine our surprise when we crept to the Indian camp to find
that there was not an Indian there. We looked around the camp where the
Indians had cooked their supper, and then we looked for their horses,
but they too had disappeared with their masters. Capt. McKee said,
"Doesn't this beat you? What do you suppose caused those Indians to

I said, "This is one of the times that the Indians were smarter than we
and have out-generaled us. Probably they too had a scout out, and he saw
us before we discovered their trail and reported the fact to the others,
and they made themselves scarce, which was a very wise proceeding on
their part."

We turned and walked back to our own camp and found the boys we had left
there still asleep. I said, "Capt., I think you had better stay here
with your men and my scouts, and I will find the trail of those Indians
and see where they have gone. It may be that they are a part of a large
band and have gone to inform the main tribe of our being here. If this
is the case, we will be sure to have some trouble with them."

The Capt. woke the men, and they cooked breakfast from some of the deer
that was left over the night before, and in a short time my men and I
were off on the trail of the Indians. I told my men they had better take
something for a lunch, as it was no telling when we should come back.

We went to where the Indians had camped and soon found their trail
leading from it. It led us in a southwestern direction, and we followed
it until about twelve o'clock when all at once we came on the Indians
laying around a camp fire sound asleep.

I said, "Now boys, there are only two ways to choose from. We have
either got to tackle this outfit ourselves alone, or we must give up the
idea of getting them at all. Now I will leave it to you to choose which
to do."

They were all more than anxious to make the attack. I said, "Now boys,
ride slowly and easy until you get in the midst of them, and then don't
wait for each other, but turn loose, and each do our best, and let us
get every one of them if we possibly can," and it was surprising to me
to see how cool the whole three men were in attempting to kill these
Indians while they slept. There was not a sound until we were in the
midst of the sleeping Indians, and then it seemed as if every man shot
at once and aimed to kill, and there were only five Indians out of the
thirteen that had time to spring to their feet, and these did not try
to defend themselves, but made for their horses with the attempt to
get away. Only one of them reached his horse, and as he sprang on his
horse's back, I gave him a cut with my knife across the small of his
back and almost cut him in two. He tumbled to the ground without a word,
and as he did so, one of the boys shouted, "We have got them all. That
was the last one, and that was the easiest little fight that I was ever

I asked if either of them was hurt. One man said, "Hurt? No, why durn
their shadows, they were not awake enough to hurt a fly if it had been
in their mouths."

I could not help laughing at his droll way of expressing his contempt
for the easily won battle if such it could be called when all the
fighting had been on our side.

We staked our horses out to let them eat the sweet grass that was so
abundant there, and we sat down and ate our own luncheon beneath a large
tree, and after we had satisfied our hunger, we laid around and rested
a while, and then we mounted our horses, I taking the lead and the boys
driving the Indians' horses after me.

We struck out for camp and reached the place where Capt. McKee and his
men were in camp a little after dark.

The Capt. was surprised indeed when we rode into camp with the band of
strange horses, and the men commenced to cheer us as soon as they saw
what we had with us.

One of my scouts said, "We don't want to go with you any more, Capt.
McKee, for you do your work at night and our boss does his work in the

We dismounted and gave our horses to the man who had the care of the
horses and sat down to a supper of fried fish, and we surely did justice
to that meal, as we were very hungry.

After we had finished the meal, I told the Capt. all about our day's
work in trailing the Indians and surprising them as they slept, and how
we wiped the whole band out before they were awake.

The Capt. said, "Tomorrow morning we will keep on down toward the
southwestern settlements."

I asked him how far it was to the first settlement, and he answered, "We
will make it by tomorrow night."


The next morning we were on the road very early, and we traveled nearly
all day before we reached the first settlement.

There was a little cluster of houses there, perhaps fifty all together,
and they were as prosperous farmers as I had seen in Texas.

They were all acquainted with the Capt. and were glad to see us.

We staid at this place a couple of days to let our horses rest, and we
sold twelve of the horses that we'd captured from the Indians to the

The people there told us that it was three months since the Indians had
made a raid on them, and there had not been any Indians through that
neighborhood since the raid, but they had been told that the Indians
were doing a great deal of damage to the settlement forty or fifty miles
west of there.

Capt. McKee said, "Well, we will go down and investigate."

As we were leaving the village, an old acquaintance of the Capt. said,
"Let us know when you are coming back, and we will have a banquet and a
dance while you and your men are here."

Capt. McKee answered, "We will not come back until you have another
visit from the Indians, and I don't believe you will want to dance

We pulled out for the settlements where the Indians had been making the

In the middle of the afternoon of that day we struck the trail of what
appeared to be quite a large band of Indians, and after following it a
short distance I concluded it was a fresh trail. Capt. McKee said, "What
do you think is best to do? The whole company to follow their trail, or
my men and I stop here and you and your scouts keep on after them and
locate them if you can?"

I answered, "Judging from the appearance of the trail, I think we would
be running a great risk for the whole company to keep on, and I think it
would be the safest plan for you to stop here and let my scouts and me
trail the Indians until they camp for the night, and, Capt., as you are
acquainted with the country, can you tell me how far they will be likely
to travel until they strike good water and grass again?"

He said, "I don't believe they will find a good place to camp in five
miles from here and maybe further."

I said, "Well, Capt., go into camp here, and if you do not hear from me
by dark, have everything in readiness for an immediate start."

My men and I now took the trail of the Indians. We traveled with great
caution for several miles, and as it was just beginning to grow dark we
came in sight of the Indian camp fire. I left two of my men with the
horses, and taking one man with me I crawled near enough to count the
Indians, and I was surprised when I saw how few there were sitting
around the fires. I could only make twenty-five, and I counted them
over several times, and they had made a trail big enough for a hundred
Indians. I was satisfied that they must have a large number of horses
with them. So we crawled down where they had left the horses to feed,
and I saw that I was right. There was a large band of horses, feeding. I
could not count them they were so scattered, and the darkness hid them,
but I thought there were from a hundred to a hundred and twenty-five
horses in the bunch.

We went back to our comrades and mounted and took the back trail to
where the Capt. was waiting for our return. As soon as we arrived, I
reported to Capt. McKee what we had found. After I had told him the
number of Indians in the band, and the number of horses I thought there
were, he asked me when I thought was the best time to make the attack.

I answered that any time between that moment and daylight would do, for
we had a soft snap before us. He said, "Well, you boys get something
to eat, and we will saddle the horses and go for them and have it over

In a very short time we were all ready and off for the Indian camp.

When we could see the fires, the Capt. asked, "Which way we shall make
the attack, on our horses or on foot?"

I told him that was for him to decide, but that there were so few of
them that I thought it would be to his advantage to make the attack on

"It will be impossible for them to get away, for my scouts and I will be
between them and their horses, and if any of them should get away from
you, we will attend to them before they can get to their horses."

The whole company dismounted, and without making the least noise
they crept down to the Indian camp, and in a few moments the firing
commenced. But it was only a short time before we knew that it was over,
as we heard the boys shouting, and in a moment more we were with them at
the Indian camp. I asked them what they made such a racket about, and
they said that they were shouting for more Indians to come, that there
were not enough of them to go around.

One of the boys said that every time he drew a bead on an Indian,
someone else had got in before him, and that he did not get a chance to
shoot one Indian in the whole fight.

The Capt. and his men now went and got their horses and unsaddled them
and staked them out, and we all turned in for the night.

The next morning the Capt. was up before I was awake, and he and his men
had counted the horses that the Indians had. He came back as I was just
getting up and said, "Guess how many horses there are in the bunch we
have taken?"

"I counted a hundred and twenty-five last night," I answered.

He said, "You are a pretty close guesser. There are just one hundred and
thirty-two in the band, and some of them are as fine work horses as I
ever saw in Texas. It is a mystery to me where the Indians get such nice
horses. Do you think it possible that these wretches have been into
Kansas and robbed the people there?"

I said, "It would be hard to tell, Capt., where they got them, for they
go anywhere that they think there is anything to steal."

After we had eaten breakfast, Capt. McKee proposed that he and I go to
the settlement alone and leave the men in camp until we came back. He
said that the settlement was no more than five or six miles from where
we then were in camp, and perhaps we could get some information in
regard to where the Indians had been stealing stock and doing other
depradations to the settlers.

When the Capt. told the men what we proposed doing, one of them said,
"That just suits me for one, for we are out of meat, and while you are
gone we can go hunting and have a new supply when you get back."

The Capt. said, "All right, but take care of the horses and not let any
of them get away, and don't look for us until we come back."

We mounted our horses and struck out for the settlement. A two-hours
ride brought us there, and we found that Capt. McKee was acquainted with
most of the settlers, and they welcomed us gladly, for at that time
when everyone had to travel on horseback or walk. There was not so much
visiting, and the sight of a friendly face was very pleasing to the
people who lived at those isolated settlements.

When we inquired if the Indians troubled them, they said the Indians
had not raided that place in three months, but about three weeks before
someone saw a band of about twenty-five Indians going towards the east,
and they were the last Indians that had been seen in that neighborhood,
but they had heard that the Apache Indians had been doing considerable
mischief fifty miles or so further south, but they did not know whether
the report was true or not, and they of this settlement had been careful
to have their stock cared for by herders through the day, and at night
they were put in the corral.

The Captain asked if we could make arrangements with them to take charge
of over a hundred head of horses for a month or so, and if so to care
for the same as their own by day and at night. The man we were talking
to said that his son had charge of the stock in the daytime and would
be at the house for dinner, and that we had better stay and have a talk
with him.

It was not long before the young man came in, and the Captain asked him
what he would charge to herd a few more than a hundred horses for
a month, or longer. The young man said that he would take them at
twenty-five dollars a hundred, and we could leave them with him as long
as we pleased at that price, and that they should have the best of care
while he had the charge of them.

At this moment the lady of the house came on the porch where we were
sitting and invited us in to eat dinner, and she told the Captain she
had prepared a special dinner for him.

The Captain laughed and said: "Well, my good woman, here is my comrade,
Mr. Drannan; what shall we do with him? I expect he is hungry, too."

She said: "Well, Captain, you may invite him in. Maybe you can spare
enough for him to have a taste. I have only got a gallon of green peas
and a ham of venison roasted and four squash pies and a pan of corn
bread cooked for you, so I reckon you can spare Mr. Drannan a little

As we went into the house the man said, "My wife must think you are a
pretty good eater Capt." to which the lady replied, "I tried him a year
ago, and I have not forgotten how much it took to fill him up then."

We sat down to the table amidst the laughter that followed this remark,
and I can safely say that I never ate a meal that I enjoyed more than I
did that dinner, and I thought that the Capt. had not lost the appetite
the lady gave him credit for having the year before. And what made the
meal more enjoyable was the Texas style of cracking jokes from the time
we sat down until we left the table, and I will say this for Texas that
of all the states I have ever visited from that time until this day
Texas was then and is now the most hospitable.

It is fifty years ago that I ate that meal in the little settlement that
was miles away from the busy cities, and I can with safety say that I
have found in the state of Texas more large hearted people than I have
found in all the other states put together that I have visited.

When we were leaving the house we told the young man that we would come
back the next day and bring the horses for him, to take care of.

We left the settlement and struck the trail for our camp, and we found
that the boys had good success in hunting. They had four deer all
dressed and hanging to the limbs of trees.

That evening I asked the Capt. what course he intended to pursue now. He
said, "We have the horses off our hands for a time at least, and we will
pull south for a month or six weeks, and then if all is well we will
come back and get our horses and pull for Dallas. By that time the
farmers will have disposed of their crops and will have money more
plenty, and I think we can do better in selling our horses than we ever
have done. I think we have crippled the Apache tribe so much that some
of the settlements will not be troubled with them again, and if we are
as successful in our fights with them the balance of the season, they
will be pretty well down, and what a great blessing it will be to the
people of this country that we came to their relief."

The next morning Capt. McKee and I and the whole company broke camp and
struck the trail for the settlement, driving the captured horses before
us. We met the herder coming to meet us. He assisted us to drive them to
his corral and helped us to count them, and there were one hundred and
thirty-eight horses in the band. Nearly everyone in the settlement was
at the corral when we got there. The people had heard that we were
coming, and everybody wanted to see the horses we had fallen heir to
when we killed the Indians.

When we told them what we would sell the horses for, some of the men
said that they wanted horses and would have the money to pay for them
when they disposed of their crops in the fall.

The horses being off our mind, we started for the south, and as we were
passing the house where we dined the day before, the lady came to the
door and called to Capt. McKee, saying, "Captain, when you get ready to
come back this fall, send a runner on ahead, and I will have a square
meal all cooked for you."

All the boys heard this, and thinking it must be a joke on the Captain,
they all cheered and clapped their hands. The Captain took off his hat
and made a bow and thanked the lady, and we all rode on, but the Captain
did not hear the last of this joke all summer. Whenever he complained of
being hungry, some of us would remind him of the square meal that was
waiting for him at the settlement.

We traveled four days, passing through several settlements before we
heard of any Indians. As we were going into camp on the evening of
the fourth day, two men rode in and said that they had seen a band of
Indians a couple of hours before, and there were as many as twenty or
more in the band, and that four of the Indians had chased them several
miles, and that the Indians seemed to be traveling in an easterly

I said to the Captain, "Let's have the men take supper with us and then
go back and show us where they saw the Indians."

He asked them if they were willing to go and show us, and they said they

We struck out as quickly as we could, and I think it was all of ten
miles before we struck the Indian trail. As soon as we found the trail
the Indians had left, Captain McKee thanked the men and told them he
would not trouble them to go any further. They inquired if he intended
to follow the Indians up and make an attack on them. He told them that
was what he expected to do if we found them. They said, "Why, can't
we go with you and help to fight the wretches? We both have guns and
pistols too, and we would like to get even with them for the run they
made us take against our will."

The Capt. said, "I am willing for you to accompany us, but you must
watch my men and do as they do, if you are sure you want to put
yourselves in the same danger of being killed that we do."

They both said together, "That is just what we want to do, Capt. We want
to learn how to fight the Red devils, and this will be a grand chance
for us to learn to do it in style."

Myself and my scouts took the lead on the Indian trail. I told the Capt.
to ride on slowly, and as soon as I came up with the Indians I would
inform him of it.

We three followed the Indian trail until the day was breaking, and when
we first saw their camp fires, we were only a short distance from them,
as they were down in a little narrow valley, and we were almost over
them before we saw them.

We dismounted, and I sent one man back to tell the Capt., and one I left
to care for the horses, and the other I took with me, and we crawled
down the hill through the thick brush to try to see what position the
Indians were in and find out what the best way would be to attack them.

When we had got to within a hundred yards of their camp, I saw an Indian
crawl out of his blanket and go to one of the fires and put more wood on
it. I whispered to my comrade to stop, and I told him we could not go
any nearer now, and in another moment two more Indians got up.

I said, "Now let us get back to our horses as quickly as we can."

As we reached the edge of the brush, I looked around to see where their
horses were, but there was not a horse in sight. We kept on until we
reached our horses.

I said, "Now boys, you both stay here, and I will ride down the ridge a
little way and maybe I can see their horses, and be sure to keep a close
watch on the Indians' movements, and if they appear to be excited,
signal to me at once."

I discovered their horses feeding quietly about a quarter of a mile
below their camp. This seemed very strange to me, and that the horses
were not staked out but allowed to run loose seemed still more strange.

I turned and rode back to my two scouts, and after I had told them what
I had seen, I said, "Boys, I am tempted to make a proposition."

They asked what it was. I said, "It may not work, but I have a mind for
us to go down where the Indians' horses are and get around them and
stampede them and drive them to meet the Capt. and the men with him."

Just as I finished speaking, one of the men said, "Hark, it is too late.
The Capt. and his men are here now," and sure enough there they were in

When I told the Capt. about the Indians and their horses being so far
from them and running loose, he said, "There is something up you may
be sure, for it is a very unusual thing for an Indian to do to leave
himself so unprotected by letting his horses run at large."

He then asked if I had any idea how many there were in the camp below
us. I told him that I had not counted them and could not do so the way
the camp was situated and the fires so dim.

He then asked if I wanted any more help to run the horses off. I
answered, "No sir, if you and your men will attend to the Indians, I and
my scouts will attend to the horses, and you need have no concern but we
will get them away all right. We will run them up on this open ridge and
hold them until you finish the Indians, and you will know where to find
the horses and us."

The Capt. and his men struck out for the Indian camp, and my men and I
to get the Indians' horses. We had not reached the horses when we heard
the sound of the guns. We had just succeeded in getting the horses on a
lope when we heard someone shouting behind us, and turning in my saddle
I saw two Indians coming on a run, and they were running for all they
were worth.

I said, "Boys, let us wheel our horses and get those Indians," and I had
hardly turned my horse when the report of their guns rang out, and both
of the Indians dropped in their tracks.

In a moment more a cry came from one of the others, and looking in
another direction I saw one of the Capt's. men in full pursuit of two
Indians, and he was shouting at the top of his voice, "Lookout, boys, we
are coming."

I said, "Now boys, let us get these horses away from here quick, for the
Indians are coming in every direction, and in a few minutes they will
be upon us, and we will have to fight them and perhaps lose half of the
horses, and some of us may get hurt besides."

We spurred our horses and soon had the Indian horses on the dead run up
the hill, and on the prairie where we had told the Capt. to come and
look for us.

When we had got control of the frightened horses and had time to listen,
we could hear the cracking of the guns in every direction, and we knew
that it was a desperate fight that was being fought.

I said, "Boys, let us count the horses, and we can then have some idea
how many Indians the other men have to contend with."

We found that there were fifty-eight in the band, and we knew that they
had all been ridden by the Indians, for each one had a hair rope around
his neck, so we decided that there must have been fifty Indians in the
camp when the Capt. and his men made the attack on them.

It must have been an hour or more before the Capt. and his men began
coming back. When Capt. McKee came back to the hill, he said, "This has
been the hardest fight that I have had with the Indians in years. They
were nearly all up when I struck their camp, and they were all on the
fight. Five of my men are badly wounded, and I don't believe we got near
all of the Indians. We must attend to the wounded men first, and then
we must take a scout around and see if we can find any more of the Red

He asked where I thought was the best place to make our camp. I answered
that there was a level spot a little below where I'd found the Indians'
horses that would make a good camping ground.

He said. "I will go and find the place, and you and your men drive the
horses down where you found them."

We had got about half way down to the valley with the horses when one of
my men said, "Look out. See what is coming."

I looked where he pointed and saw an Indian running from the brush and
making for the horses as fast as he could run. I said, "Let's go for
him, boys, and don't get too close to him before you shoot, for he has
his bow and arrow ready to shoot you if you don't get him first."

I raised my gun as we went for him and fired and broke his leg, and one
of the other boys got close to him and shot him with his pistol and
finished him.

We now rushed the horses down to the village in a hurry. When we had got
them there, I told the boys that we must watch the horses all the time
and change herders every two hours. I went to where the Capt. had
established his camp, and I found that five of the men were badly
wounded. One was wounded in the hip, and it was the worst arrow wound I
ever saw.

I asked the Capt. what he was going to do with those wounded men. "I
don't see how you are going to get them to a doctor, and I don't believe
they will get well without one. So what are you going to do?"

He said if we could get them back to the settlement where we had left
the horses, they could have a doctor's care.

I said, "Well, but let's get them something to eat as well as ourselves,
for they must be faint for the lack of food and losing so much blood,
and if they are no better by evening, I think you had better send
for the doctor to come here and not try to send the men to him for
treatment." The Capt. agreed to this, and as soon as we had something
to eat, I went to where the wounded men were laying and examined their
wounds myself and was surprised to find the men so cheerful. They were
laughing and talking just as if they were well.

I asked the one that was so badly wounded if he thought we had better
send for a doctor to dress the wound. He said, "No, I don't want any
doctor. If you will get me a plenty of the balsam of fir to put on it,
it will be well in a week." I answered, "If that is all you want, my
friend, I will see that you get all you want of that, for there is
plenty of it all around us."

I will say for the instruction of the reader that this birch taken from
the fir trees as it saps out of cracks in the bark was the only liniment
that the frontiersman had to heal his wounds at that time, and it was
one of the best liniments that I have ever seen applied to a sore of any

I now hunted up the Capt. to have a talk with him. I asked him what he
proposed doing until those men were able to travel, as they didn't want
any doctor and said they could cure their wounds themselves with balsam
of fir.

The Capt. said, "Well, we will leave enough men to guard the wounded men
and the horses, and we will take the others with us and go and search
for more Indians."

Capt. McKee left ten men to guard the camp, and the balance of us struck
out on a hunt for stray Indians.

We were gone from camp two or three hours, and we only found one Indian,
and he was wounded, but we found a number of dead Indians scattered all
through the timber where the men had shot them down as they ran, or as
they met them in hand-to-hand combat.

After we got back to camp, I asked the Capt. what he was going to do
with those horses.

He said he thought it would be the best plan to stay where we were until
the men were able to travel and then to go back to the settlement and
get our other horses and then pull for Dallas. "For," said he, "I do not
believe that the Indians will make any more raids through this part of
the country until next spring, and they may never come back, for we have
crippled them so that they will shun a place where they have met such
disaster. There has never been a company through here that has had the
success in killing Indians and capturing their horses as we have had
this spring. Just think what we have done, and not one of our men has
been killed."

We remained in this camp two weeks, and everyone had a good time with
the exception of the wounded men, and even they were more cheerful than
one in health could have thought possible.

Game was plentiful and easy to get, and we had all the fresh meat we
wanted, and it was an ideal place to lay around and rest when we were
tired hunting, and there was a plenty of grass for the horses and a cool
spring of water to quench the thirst of man and beast.

After the first week, the wounded men took more or less exercise every
day, and so kept their strength, and it was surprising how fast their
wounds healed.

The day before the one set to start for the settlement, I asked the man
that had the wounded hip if he thought he could ride on horseback. He
answered, "Yes, if I had a gentle horse so I could ride sideways, I
could stand it to ride a half a day without stopping to rest."

I told him that I had a horse that was very gentle and would just suit
his case.

That evening the Capt. and I talked the matter over together. He said he
thought we had better pull out in the morning and travel slowly so as
not to tire the wounded men too much, for the farmers would have sold
their crops by the time we got to Dallas, and we could do as well with
our horses as we could at any time of the year.

In the morning we left the camp that we had grown to almost love, the
Capt. and I taking the lead with the wounded men at our side, and the
other men brought up the rear, driving the horses who had grown fat and
glossy in the weeks of rest.

When we were mounted, the Capt. said to the wounded men, "Now boys, when
you begin to feel tired, say so, and we will stop and camp at once."

I never heard a word of complaint from one of them, and we had ridden
ten miles or so, when we came to a cool stream of water and a plenty of
grass, and the Capt. said, "This is a good place to stop and give our
sick boys a rest."

So we dismounted and went into camp. After we had our dinner, several of
the men came and asked the Capt. if he was going any further that night,
and he replied that he was not. The boys said, "All right, we will catch
some fish then."

In about two hours they came from the stream, and each man had a string
of good-sized catfish, and the reader may be sure that we all enjoyed
that fish supper.

From the time we left the camp in the valley until we reached the
settlement, we only traveled ten miles a day.

We traveled this way for the benefit of the wounded men, and they
reached the settlement not worse for the journey, but they were much
stronger than when we started.

The morning before we reached the settlement, as we were about to mount
our horses, one of the men said to the Capt., "Say, Cap, haven't you
forgotten to do something?"

The Capt. looked around in a surprised way and said, "I do not remember
anything that I could have forgotten to do. What is it?"

The man said, "Didn't you agree to send a runner on ahead to notify that
lady that you were coming so she could have the grub cooked for your

But the Capt. never answered the question, for before he could speak,
there was such a clapping of hands and laughter from all the men that it
would have been impossible to have heard him if he had tried.

After the boys had stopped cheering, the Capt. said, "You have the laugh
on me now boys, but you wait, and I will get even with you, and he that
laughs last laughs best."

We reached the settlement about the middle of the afternoon and we found
our horses in much better condition than we expected to.

We staid here all the next day as we were told that several of the
farmers near there wanted to purchase horses from us and would come as
soon as they heard that we were there.

Before night we had sold thirty-one horses at a fair price. About noon
of that day the Capt. and I were sitting under a tree having a smoke
when a little girl came to us and said, "Capt., mama says you and Mr.
Drannan come and take dinner with us."

As neither of us knew her, the Capt. asked where she lived and who her
mama was.

She said, "Come on, and I'll show you," and when we went with her, it
proved to be the same place where we had dined the last time we were at
the settlement.

Their name was "Jones." The man and his wife met us on the porch and
shook hands with us, and the lady said, "Capt., you have been very lucky
in killing Indians and pretty lucky in getting something to eat with us.
You had some of our first picking of peas last spring, and you will have
some of our first turnips today."

The Capt. told her that of all vegetables, he liked young turnips best.
She said that she had enough for dinner and supper too, and that we
might consider ourselves invited to supper too.

We ate dinner with this hospitable family, and then we went back to the
corral and the selling of our horses, which commenced soon after we got
there, as the farmers came early in the day.

That night we paid the herder for his care of the horses, and then we
pulled out for Dallas.


I do not remember how many days it took us to reach Dallas, but it was
in the middle of October when we rode into that city.

This was in the fall of fifty-eight, and the news had just reached
Dallas that gold had been discovered on Cherry creek in the territory
of Colorado, and the excitement was intense. All over the city people
talked of nothing else but gold, and of all the exaggeration stories
about gold mines that I had ever heard, the ones told there were the
most incredible. The parties who brought the news to Dallas had not been
to the mines themselves, but had been told these wonderful stories at
Bent's Fort.

Capt. McKee caught the gold fever right away, and he said to me, "I am
going to get up a company in the spring and go to those new gold mines.
Don't you want to go with me?"

I answered, "No, Capt. I do not, for I know that Cherry creek country,
and I do not believe that there is a pound of gold in all that country.
It is nothing but a desert."

He said, "Have you been to Cherry creek?"

I answered, "Yes sir, a number of times."

"Where is Cherry creek?" he asked. I told him that Cherry creek headed
in the divide between the Arkansas river and the South Platte river, and
emptied into the South Platte river about twenty miles below where the
Platte leaves the Rocky mountains and near the center of the territory
of Colorado. Capt. McKee said, "Well, I am going anyhow. I did not go to
California when I ought to have gone, and maybe this will prove as rich
a country for getting gold as that did."

I laughed and answered, "There may be lots of gold in Colorado, Capt.,
but you or anyone else will never find enough gold in Cherry creek to
make you rich."

He said, "Well, the way to find it is to go there and look for it. We
surely never will if we stay away."

From the way the people talked, one would have thought that everybody in
Dallas was going to the gold fields.

After it was known that I had been through the country where the gold
mines were reported to be, a great many men came to me to make inquiries
about the country, and some of them seemed surprised because I took the
news so coolly and did not seem anxious to go there.

The excitement did not last more than a week before it commenced to die

By this time we had about disposed of our horses, and the wounded men
were able to go to their homes.

The Capt. settled up with the men, and he and I divided the remainder of
the money.

After we were square, the Capt. asked what I was going to do. I told him
that I was going back to Bent's Fort. He said, "Well, won't you wait a
few days until I can organize a company to go with me to Colorado, and
we will go with you as far as Bent's Fort?"

I said I certainly would, for the journey would be very lonely for me
to go alone, and I liked company, and besides I was in no hurry to get

The Capt. worked steadily to get recruits for his company for two weeks,
and he succeeded in getting ten men in all that time.

He said, "This beats anything I ever undertook. When we first came to
Dallas, the whole town talked as if they were crazy to go, and now I
can't get anybody to join me, but I will make the effort with the ten
men that will go, and if this is a success and we make fortunes, we will
come back and surprise the city."

I said, "Alright, Capt., but if the people of Dallas are ever surprised,
it will not be from hearing of the great amount of gold you and your
companions took from Cherry creek."

The Capt. now commenced to get ready for the journey to Colorado, the
land of reported gold. Each of his men had to have two saddle horses,
and one pack horse for every two men, and each man had three months
provisions, consisting of flour, coffee, salt and tobacco.

The question of getting meat was never thought of as one could get a
plenty of that anywhere on the journey, and the streams were teaming
with the most delicious fish.

The evening before we were to set out in the morning the Capt said,
"Which way shall we go?"

I said, "Although it is getting late, and we may have some cold weather
to contend with I think our best and most direct route will be by what
is called the Panhandle route. There will be no rivers to cross, and
there is a plenty of grass for the horses, and also there is nice
drinking water in abundance all the way for ourselves as well as the
hordes, and there will be days when we will be in sight of Deer and
Antelope from morning until night."

There were a few scattering settlements along the trail. The place
which is now the city of Childress being the largest, and also the last
settlement we passed through, and the last sign of civilization we saw
until we struck Bent's Fort which was on the Arkansas river below what
is now the city of Pueblo in the state of Colorado which was at that
time a territory just a little north of what is now the city of

We killed our first Buffalo on that trip.

It is surprising to the people who saw that country at that early day
when they travel through it now and see what civilization has done.
There is Amarillo, which has several thousand inhabitants today, and
at the time I am speaking of there was not a house or sign of a living
person there, and a number of other places I could mention that are
thriving cities now were at that time inhabited by wild animals alone.

In the year of forty-eight when Kit Carson and I went across the Rocky
mountains with Col. Freemont, we camped three days where the city of
Pueblo, Colorado, now stands.

Our camp was under a very large pine tree, one of the largest in that

Five years ago I visited the city of Pueblo again, the first time I had
been there since that time.

I imagined I could go right to the spot where our camp was located, and
the morning after I arrived there I took a walk on the main business
street, which I thought was about where our camp had stood. But search
as long as I might, there was nothing to show me a sign of the old

I went to the river, thinking that must look the same, but no, even the
channel of that had been changed.

Amazed at the change civilization had wrought in obliterating everything
that I had thought would be a guide to the old places I sought, I spoke
to a police officer and asked him if be could tell me whether a very
large tree had stood in that neighborhood or not before that street was
laid out.

He answered, "Yes, that tree stood right under that brick building," and
he pointed to a large building near where we stood, and he continued.
"As long as the tree stood there, it was called 'Freemont's camping

That particular spot is no exception, for every place I have visited in
late years all through the western country has met with the same change,
and the places that I was familiar with in my youth are strange to me

The place that is now called the city of Denver I will take for an
example. At the time I am speaking of, the year of forty-eight, and for
several years later, it was one of the greatest Antelope countries in
all the west, and I think I am safe in saying that there were not fifty
white men in all what is now called the state of Colorado.

I visited several cities in that state a year ago, and it would be
difficult for the people of this time to understand the feeling of
surprise that I experienced when I saw what civilization had done to
every place I visited.

On the Platte river in the eastern part of the city of Denver where the
large machine shops now stand is the spot where the largest bands of
Antelope were to be found, and it was there that we used to go to get
them every morning as they came down to the river to drink.

From the site where Amarillo is now we had all the Buffalo meat we
wanted, and when we struck what is now the city of Trinidad, Colorado,
we followed the stream known as and called the "Picket Wire," down to
the Arkansas river, and as we were in the heart of the Buffalo country,
we were not out of the sight of herds of Buffalo all the way down to
that river.

It would be an impossibility to make this generation understand the
numbers of herds that roamed the western country. While the Buffalo was
the most numerous game of the plains, they were the most strange in
their habits. They made the round trip from Texas to the head of the
Missouri river in Dakota and back again every year. As soon as they
reached one end of their journey, they invariably turned around and
began their journey back. Another peculiarity of this animal was that
the calves never followed their mother, but always preceded her, and in
case of fright, or when she thought them in danger when the herd started
on the run, if the calves could not keep up with the others the mother
would push her calf forward with her nose.

I think I have seen a mother Buffalo throw her calf at least ten feet in
one push, and it would always alight on its feet and not break its run.

When we reached Bent's Fort, Capt. McKee asked Col. Bent how the gold
mines were on Cherry creek. The Col. laughed and said, he had not heard
from them in about three months, and the last news he had from there
were that Cherry creek was deserted, so by that he thought the amount of
gold there must be rather limited, and then Capt. McKee told him that he
had fitted up a company and had come all the way from Texas to dig gold
from Cherry creek.

Col. Bent said, "Well, Capt., there has been another discovery made on
what is called Russel's gulch which is a tributary of Clear creek, and I
have no doubt but there is gold to be found there."

Capt. McKee asked where Clear creek was.

Col. Bent said, "Ask Will. He can tell you better than I can, for he has
trapped all over that country."

I told the Capt. that Clear creek was about ten miles north of Cherry
creek on the north side of Platte river and I said, "Capt., if Russel's
gulch is up on the head of Clear creek, you could not get there this
winter with horses, for at this time in the year the snow is from two to
ten feet deep, and it is the coldest country you ever struck, and your
Texas boys and yourself too would freeze to death before you got half
way to the mines."

The Capt. asked Col. Bent if he had any idea how many miners there were
up in the Russel's gulch mines.

He answered, "Yes, I saw them when they started on their prospecting
trip, and there are six of them. There were seven, but one came back and
went back to his home in Georgia.

"Green Russel was the leader, and the mine was given his name. I expect
there will be a great stampede from the east especially from Georgia
next spring, for the gold excitement always spreads like fire in dry

Capt. McKee said, "Well, I believe I will go there anyway and see what
there is in it. I can live there as cheaply as I can anywhere. There is
plenty of game there, is there not?" he said, turning to me.

I said, "Yes, there is plenty of game all around the Platte river and
Cherry creek, but if you go there, I advise you not to go further than
the mouth of Cherry creek this winter. There is a grove of timber there
that you can make your camp in, and you could put up a shack to protect
you from the weather."

The Capt. and his company pulled out the second day after this talk, but
it was very plain to be seen that the whole company was much discouraged
in regard to the gold mines.

As they were leaving the Fort, I said to Capt. McKee, "When you come
back in the spring, Capt., I hope I shall hear you tell about the grand
success you have had in panning gold on Cherry creek this winter."

He said, "If there is any gold to be found in that country, I shall find
it. That is what I came out here to do."

As soon as the mining company had gone, Col. Bent said to me, "Will, do
you want to go and trade with the Indians for me now, or have you caught
the gold fever too?"

I answered, "Col. I have not had the gold fever as yet, and I do not
think there is any danger of my catching it, so I am ready to go to work
for you trading with the Indians."

Col. Bent laughed and said, "If you haven't got the fever now, Will, I
will bet your best hors, that you will catch it bad when the rush for
the mines comes in the spring."

At that time I had no idea there would be any rush for the gold mines,
for I thought the excitement would die out before spring, because so
many had been disappointed in the fall, but in this I was mistaken, for
by the first of May they commenced to come to the Fort on their way to
the mines, and by the first of June one could see the trains stringing
along for miles, and what was very amusing to me, when I asked them
where they were going, they invariably answered, "Pike's Peak."

I remember one train that I met that spring down on the Arkansas river,
below Bent's Fort. One of the men asked me, if I could tell them how far
it was from there to Pike's Peak. I said, "No sir, I can't tell you how
far it is, but I can show it to you. There is Pike's Peak right before
you," and I pointed to the snowcapped mountain that could be seen for
hundreds of miles.

He said, "Oh, I don't mean that. I want to find out where the Pike's
Peak gold mine is."

I told him that I had never heard of such a mine. This seemed to
surprise him, and in a few minutes the whole outfit was crowding around
me, inquiring about Pike's Peak mine.

Then I told them what the report had been about the discovery of gold at
Cherry creek and Russel's gulch.

One man asked if I could tell them where Denver was, and that was a
question I could not answer, for I had never heard of a place called
Denver before.

I asked him what Denver was. A new mining camp that had just been named,
or what.

"Why" he said, "Denver is a city close to Pike's Peak."

I answered, "Strange, you must have made a mistake in the locality of
the city you are seeking. I have traveled all over this country for
years, and I never saw or heard of a place called Denver in my life."

Then they told me that Dr. Russel, one of the discoverers of the gold
mine, had staid all night at the town where they came from in Missouri.

When he, the Dr., was on his way home to Georgia, last fall he had told
them what wonderful gold mines had been discovered up in the mountains,
and there was a large city building in the valley that was going to be
the queen city of the west, and they had named the city "Denver."

I was young then, and of course my experience was limited, so I believed
the story that the man told, not stopping to think that it might be
exaggerated, as an older person might have done.

I was going down the Arkansas river on my last trading trip with the
Indians for that season, and the story of the wonderful gold mines made
me anxious to get back to Bent's Fort. I had very good success in this
trade, and in two weeks I was back to the fort with my pack horses
loaded down with Buffalo robes.

After I had settled with the Col., I said, "I reckon you would have won
the wager if we had made the bet last fall, Col., for I am afraid I have
a touch of the gold fever."

Col. Bent laughed and said, "I thought you would not escape, Will, but
you are not the only one affected. I have news for you. Kit Carson and
Jim Bridger will be here in a few days from Taos, on their way to the
gold mines, and so you are just in time to go with them."

I then told Col. Bent the story the gold seekers had told me when I was
on my way to trade with the Indians this last time.

He said, "You must not believe all the stories that are floating about,
Will. If you do, you will only be disappointed, for in a time when
people are excited, as they are now over the finding of gold, there will
be all kinds of exaggerated stories told. Some of them will be told in
good faith, and some will be to merely mislead too credulous people. So
take my advice, Will, and keep cool and don't get rattled."

The next day, after I had the talk with Col. Bent, Uncle Kit and Jim
Bridger stopped at the Fort on their way to the new gold field. Of
course, Uncle Kit was as glad to see me as I was to see him, and was
rather surprised when I told him that I was all ready to go with him to
the mines.

Jim Bridger said, "What are you going there for, Will?"

I said, "I am going to help you pick up gold. I haven't any use for it
myself, but I just want to help you, Jim."

Uncle Kit said, "I guess, what gold we pick up won't hurt any of us."

The morning after this we three pulled out, and on the fourth day out we
landed on the ground where the city of Denver now stands.

It was the first of June in the year of fifty-nine, and as near as I can
remember, there were six little log shacks scattered around the west
side of Cherry creek, which at that time was called "Arora," and the
east side of the creek was called "Denver," and this was the Queen city
of the west that I had been told about and had come to see, and it was
amazing to see the number of people that were coming in there every day.
They came in all shapes. They came in wagons, in hand carts and on horse

The hand carts had from four to six men to pull them, and I saw a few
that had eight men pulling one cart.

Uncle Kit, Bridger and I remained there four days, just to see the
crowds that were coming in. We found out the way to Russel's gulch, and
we decided to go up there.

We went by the way that is called "Golden" now, but of course there was
no such place then, that being the general camping place before going up
into the mountains.

When we made our camp on the bank of Clear creek, where the city of
Golden now stands, I think we could have counted two hundred wagons in
sight of our camp. Close to us there were four men in camp, and they had
one wagon and two yoke of cattle between them.

The next morning they were up earlier than we were and were eating their
breakfast when we crawled out of our blankets.

As soon as they finished eating, they hooked up their ox teams and drove
down to the creek and stopped at the bank and commenced to throw their
provisions into the water. As soon as Uncle Kit saw the men doing this,
he said, "What do they mean? Are they crazy? I will go and see what is
the matter."

As soon as he got in speaking distance, he asked them what they were
throwing their provisions to the creek for.

One of the men stopped and answered, "We are going back to Missouri, and
our oxen's feet are so tender that they can hardly walk, let alone pull
this load."

Uncle Kit said, "Why don't you throw the stuff on the ground? If you
don't want it yourselves, do not waste it by throwing it in the creek.
Someone else may want it."

One of them said, "I had not thought of that," and they threw the flour
and bacon and coffee and other small packages of food on the ground.

There must have been as much as twelve hundred pounds of provisions
laying on the ground when they got through, and I saw the contents of
two other wagons share the same fate that same day. How long that stuff
lay there I do not know. We left there the next morning, and I noticed
that it had not been touched.

I never saw so many discouraged-looking people at one time as I saw in
those wagons that were camped around Clear creek. I visited a number
of camps where six or eight men would be sitting around a little fire
talking about their disappointment in not finding gold to take home to
their families, and some of them were crying like children as they said
the expense of fitting out their teams and themselves had ruined them

This spot on Clear creek seemed to be the turntable for the
gold-seekers. They either went up the mountain to the mines or became
discouraged and turned around and went home, and I do not believe that
one out of ten ever left the creek to go up the mountain.

The way from Clear creek to the mines at Russel's gulch was through
the mountains, with nothing but a trail to travel on and the roughest
country to try to take wagons over I ever saw.

I do not know how many miles it was, but I do remember that we had a
hard day's ride from Clear creek to Russel's gulch, and we did not ride
a half a mile without seeing more or less wagons that had been left
beside the trail, and in many of the broken wagons the outfit that the
owner had started with was in the wagon.

[Illustration: I bent over him and spoke to him, but he did not answer.]


The night we struck the mines, we camped near the head of Russel's
gulch. The next morning, after we had eaten our breakfast, we started
out to take a look around, and Bridger said, "Where in the name of
common sense do these people come from?" For look in any direction we
would, there was a bunch of men with pick and shovel slung over their
backs, and every little while we came on a bunch of men digging a hold
in the ground.

Later in the forenoon we went to Green Russel's cabin, he being the man
who had discovered the gold in that country. He had never met Uncle Kit
before but had heard a great deal about him. When Carson told him his
name, he invited us into his cabin. After we had talked with him awhile,
he said, "I suppose you all think that I am to blame for all of this
excitement, but if you think so, you are mistaken, so I will clear your
mind and vindicate myself. A year ago last spring my brother, myself,
and five other men came out here to prospect for gold. After we had
prospected all over the country, we discovered this gulch, and we struck
good pay dirt in the first hole we sank. We fixed up a couple of rockers
and went to work, and the first week we took out a hundred dollars to a
rocker. I told the boys that this was good enough for me, so each one of
us staked off a claim, and to prove that each of us had a good claim, we
sank a prospect hole on every claim, and we found that one claim was as
good as another. There was only one of the party who had a family, that
was my brother, the doctor, and as we all thought that we had a good
thing, my brother concluded that he would go home and fix up his affairs
this winter and bring his family out here in the spring, and he agreed
to keep our finding a secret from everyone but his own family, but it
seems that he did not keep his word but spread the news of our luck
broadcast as soon as he struck the first white settlement, and the waste
and destruction which you saw all along the trail from Clear creek to
the gulch are the effects of his folly, although I believe that there
are other mines as good as this in other parts of this country, but
mining for gold is like other kinds of business. Only one man out of a
hundred makes a success out of it."

The next day we were looking around, and we came upon two young men who
said they were brothers, and they were so excited when we came near them
that they could scarcely talk. They had been sinking a prospect hole and
had just struck pay dirt.

We watched them pan out a couple of pans, and they certainly had struck
it rich. After they had staked off their claims, Bridger asked them what
name they would give their new discovery. They said, "There is a
spring at the head of this ravine where we have often drunk and cooled
ourselves, so we shall call our mine 'Spring gulch,'" and I was told by
miners afterwards that these brothers had surely found a rich mine, for
it extended the whole length of the ravine.

I met one of the brothers a number of years after the time I saw them
panning out the gold, and he told me that he and his brother took twenty
thousand dollars apiece out of that mine.

The next day we were knocking around the mining camp, and we ran across
a man whose name was Gregory. He was from Georgia, and he had just
discovered a quartz lead which proved to be very rich in gold.

He showed us some of the quartz that he had taken from it, and we could
see the gold all through the rock. He said that when he sank down a
hundred feet, it would be twice as rich in gold as it was at the top.

There was a town built at this place, and it was called Gregory, and in
two years there were a half a dozen quartz mills built in that vicinity
and quite a number more quartz ledges had been discovered, and they all
paid well.

We had been in this region about two weeks, when I met one of the men
that came with Capt. McKee. We were both surprised to see each other.
I asked him what he was doing, and he said he was mining. He said the
whole company was mining together on a claim they had taken up on south
Clear creek about twelve miles from Russel's gulch, and they had fifty
feet of sluice boxes and were taking out from five to seven dollars a
day to a man, and had ground enough to last them two years.

He insisted on my going back with him to see the mine and said that I
could have an equal interest with the others of the company if I would
join them, and I have always regretted that I did not go and make them a
visit at least for I never saw Capt. McKee again.

I was told afterwards that he made quite a good stake, and then went
back to Texas and married and bought a home and lived and died on it
about seven miles northeast of where Mineral wells is now, and I will
say here that Capt. McKee was like many of his noble statesmen. He was
brave, kindly, honest and true. One of nature's noblemen. He did not
interfere with any man's business and allowed no one to meddle with his
business, and if he professed to be a friend, he was a friend indeed,
one that could be trusted in foul weather as well as fair.

Carson, Bridger, and I remained at Russel's gulch about three weeks, and
we visited many claims and heard the shouts of the successful and the
groans of those who failed, and we all three decided that we had got
enough of mining by looking on without trying our hand at it, so we left
the mining camp and pulled out for Denver, and from Russel's gulch to
the foot of the mountain.

We were never out of sight of teams of every description, and nearly
every person we met asked us how far it was to Russel's gulch.

We were about ten miles on the trail towards Denver when a man asked us
this question, and Jim Bridger answered that if we were anywhere else in
the United States it would be ten miles to Russel's gulch, but by that
trail he reckoned it was about fifty.

The man said, "Doesn't the road get any better?"

Jim said, "I don't call this path a road, but if you do I will tell you
that it gets worse all the way up."

When we reached the foot of the mountains at the crossing at Clear
creek, we found more campers there than when we had left three weeks
before. As we were riding along, Bridger said, "Where, do you suppose
all these people came from?" Kit Carson answered, "Oh, they have come
from all over the east. This excitement has spread like wild fire all
over the country."

Up to this time we had seen but very few families in the crowds of gold
seekers, but when we got to Denver on our return from the mines, we saw
that a great many of the emigrants had their whole families with them,
and it was surprising to see the number of cabins that had been built in
so short a time, and we saw a number of teams hauling logs from the foot
of the mountains to build more cabins, and there had been several little
buildings built and furnished with groceries and dry goods since we had
left there.

The evening we got to Denver we went a little ways up the Platte river
to find a place to camp, and whom should we meet but our old friend Jim
Beckwith. As Carson shook his hand, he said, "Why, Beckwith, I thought
you had more sense than to be caught in a scrape like this."

Beckwith laughed and answered, "Well, Kit, I see I am not the only
durned fool in the country. You seem to be caught in the same scrape
with me," and for the next half hour it was amusing to hear the jokes
these three old friends tossed at each other, for, of course, Bridger
joined in.

After they had their fun with each other, Carson asked Beckwith what he
was doing there. Beckwith answered, "I have staked off a claim here,
Kit. It is not a claim either. It is a farm," and he pointed to a little
bunch of timber a short distance from our camp. "I intended to build a
cabin in that grove of timber," which he afterwards did, and he lived
there about thirty years and died there about fourteen years ago as I
was informed a year ago, when I was in Denver for the first time since
Carson, Bridger and I camped on his claim.

When Jim Beckwith told us that he had taken up land and was going to
build on it and make himself a home there, I wondered what he would do
to make a living. The land seemed to be fertile enough, but I did not
see any chance to sell what he might raise if he tried farming, but I
was told that he cultivated the land for awhile and then it was too
valuable. So he cut it up into lots and sold it, and now it is covered
with business houses and residences, and all this change has taken place
in forty-nine years.

As I stood and looked at the streets and blocks of houses, I found
myself almost doubting that that was the spot where we had camped
forty-nine years ago. When memory called back to my mind what a barren,
desolate country it was at that time, it almost seemed incredible that
such a large city could be built and such a vast change be made in less
than fifty years, and not only in this particular spot but for miles and
miles all through the surrounding country.

While we were in camp, I was down on the banks of Cherry Creek one day,
and there were fifteen or twenty Indians sitting on the bank, and among
them was a squaw who had a pistol in her hand. She seemed to be
playing with it when several white men came along, and one of them was
intoxicated. This one went up to the squaw and, taking hold of the
pistol, tried to wrench it from her hand, and in the struggle the
pistol was discharged and the man dropped dead. Some of his companions
threatened to take vengeance on the Indians, but there were so many
other white men standing around that had witnessed the whole affair and
knew the Indians had done nothing to be molested for, they would not
allow the Indians to be troubled. So the men took the body away, and
that was the end of the affair.

That evening a band of Kiawah Indians came into the town and camped
where the statehouse now stands. I happened to meet some of them, and
being acquainted with them I stopped and talked with them, and they told
me that they were going to have a peace smoke and a dance next day, and
they wanted me to join them, which, knowing it would not be wise to
decline, I promised to do.

When I went back to camp, I told Uncle Kit and the others of the
invitation I had received and accepted. Uncle Kit said, "I guess we are
too old to take a part in the dance, but we can go and look on and watch
the fun." We did not go to the Indian camp until near noon the next
day; and I think there were two or three hundred white men, women and
children standing around the camp when we got there, and the majority of
them had never seen an Indian before.

As Uncle Kit and Bridger and Beckwith did not wish to take a part in the
performance, they kept out of sight of the Indians, and I went into the
camp, and as soon as I arrived the Indians commenced to form the circle
for the peace smoke.

We had all just taken our seats, and the head chief was in the act of
lighting the pipe when he sang out, "O Wah," at the top of his voice,
and in an instant every Indian sprang to his feet and started to run. I
could not think what was the matter until I looked around and saw a man
a short distance from us with a camera in the act of taking a photo of
us, but he never got the picture, for not an Indian stopped running
until his wigwam hid him from view.

The man with the camera looked the disappointment he felt as he came to
me and asked if I were acquainted with those Indians.

He said, "What in creation was the matter with them? What made them get
up and run? I would rather have given fifty dollars than miss taking
that picture."

I could scarcely answer him I was so choked with laughter. But I managed
to tell him that I reckoned the Indians thought that he had some
infernal machine pointed at them that would blow them all to the happy
hunting grounds.

He asked me if I would go and tell the chief that the camera would not
hurt them and try to make them understand what he was doing with it. He
said, "If you can persuade them to let me take a photo of them, I will
pay you well for your trouble."

I told him I would try, but I was doubtful of his getting the picture.

So I went to the chief's wigwam and tried to explain to him and to
persuade him to have him and all the band sit for their pictures to be

The chief shook his head and said, "Hae-Lo-Hae-Lo white man heap devil,"
which meant "I will not that the white man would do them some evil," and
then he said he was afraid that the white man with the big gun wanted
to kill all his warriors, and all that I could say would not change his

Carson, Bridger and I staid at Denver three weeks, and then we went back
to Bent's Fort, and when we left Denver, the town and the country in
every direction was covered with wagons belonging to emigrants that
the excitement about gold having been discovered in the mountains had
brought to Denver and the surrounding country.

We reached Bent's Fort late in the afternoon and had not been there over
an hour when three men and a boy came in on foot and brought the news
that the Indians had attacked a train of emigrants and killed them all.
The emigrants were on their way back east, from Cherry Creek, where they
had been led to believe that gold had been discovered.

The men that brought the news of the massacre were so excited that they
could not tell how many people had been killed or how many wagons were
in the train. They said that the train had just broke camp and started
on their way when they heard the report of guns at the head of the
train, and in a moment more the Indians came pouring down upon them,
shooting everyone they met with their bows and arrows. "And," continued
they, "when we saw them shooting and yelling, we broke and run before
they got to us, and we did not stop until we got here." They said all
this in a frightened, breathless way, that showed how excited they were.

Col. Bent sent the men and boy into the dining room to get something
to eat, and Uncle Kit followed them, to try to get some more definite
information regarding the massacre. After awhile Uncle Kit came back,
and Col. Bent asked him what he thought of the news the men had brought.
Carson answered that the men in the dining room did not know anything,
and that he thought they were a party of emigrants who were disappointed
and angry at their luck, and they had tried to vent their spite on some
Indians they had met by firing on them, and had got the worst of the

"You know, Colonel, that the Comanches have not troubled any white
people in a number of years without they were aggravated to do so."

Col. Bent said, "Well, Kit, are you going down there to investigate the

Carson answered, "Yes, and won't you send three men along to bury the

Col. Bent said, "Certainly, Kit, and anything else you want. When do you
want to start?"

Carson said, "We will start now."

Carson, Bridger, myself and three other men left the fort for the scene
of the massacre, which we reached at the break of day the next
morning, and the sight that met our eyes was a horrible one. We found
twenty-three dead bodies close together, apparently where the attack had
commenced, and down near the river, in the brush, we found five more,
and also four living men who were not hurt, but frightened nearly to

After Carson had talked with these men a while and they had recovered a
little sense, they told how the dreadful thing occurred.

They had just pulled out from camp that morning when they met the
Indians. There were several men on horseback riding on ahead of the
wagons. When they met the Indians, they commenced to shout "How-How,"
and the horsemen began to fire on the Indians without the Indians doing
a thing to provoke them, and then the Indians had turned on them and
killed every white person they could find, but that they had not been
seen by the Indians, as they ran down the river and hid in the brush.

We searched thoroughly the brush all around for quite a distance, but we
could find no more living or dead.

We could not find out by these men how many there were in the train any
more than we could of the men that came with the news to the fort.

We began to bury the dead, and the four men commenced to look after the
teams and wagons.

In a little while they came back driving three teams, and said they had
found them hooked together, feeding along quietly, and they found that
nothing had been touched or carried away from the wagons.

After Uncle Kit had learned the cause of the massacre, I think he was
the most out of humor that I ever saw him. He said, "Such men as the
ones who fired on those Indians deserve to be shot, for they are not fit
to live in any country," and turning to Bridger he said, "Jim, it has
always been such men as they that has made bad Indians and caused most
all the trouble the whites have had with them, and still the Indians are
blamed for it all, and have to suffer for it all. I hope I shall live to
see the day when these things will be changed in this respect, and the
Indians will have more justice shown them."

But I am very sorry to say that Uncle Kit did not live to see this
accomplished. It was fifty years ago that Kit Carson expressed that wish
in regard to the Indians, but it has never been gratified, for in all
that time the Indians have been driven from one place to another and not
allowed to rest anywhere long at a time, and in my opinion certainly
have not had justice done them by the white race, and I will say this
from my own experience, that when an Indian professes to be a friend he
is a friend indeed, in storm as well as sunshine.

I will tell an instance that occurred four years ago when I was in
Indian Territory. I was sitting on the street in one of the towns when
an old Kiawah Indian came along, and looked at me quite sharply and
walked on a few steps, then turned and looked at me again, and then he
came back to me and slapped me on the shoulder and said, "A-Po-Lilly,"
which meant "Long time ago me know you." I looked at him and said, "No,
you are mistaken, I do not know you," and then he told me where he
had met me and what I had done for him, and as he recounted what had
happened I remembered the incident.

The time I had first met him I was out hunting and met him in the
forest. It was in the Territory of Wyoming, and he had had a fight with
the Sioux, and they had shot his horse, and he was hungry and tired and
footsore. I took him to my camp and fed him and kept him all night, and
the next morning I gave him a horse so he could ride back to his tribe
in more comfort, and I had not seen him since that morning, and this
happened forty years before I saw him again, and he remembered me. He
shook hands with me, which is a custom the Indians have not outgrown,
and left me, but in a few minutes he returned with at least forty of his
tribe with him, and I had to shake hands with every one of them. Some of
them could speak good English, and they told me the story he had told
them about my being kind to him, and they all called me their friend.
This incident shows that the Indian appreciates kindness.

After we had buried the emigrants, which took nearly two days to do,
Carson asked the men who had escaped being massacred where they were
going and what they intended to do.

One of them answered, "If you men will stay with us all night, we will
talk it over and decide what we had better do."

Carson said we had better stay with them that night, so we made a fire
and prepared supper, and while we were eating we saw several more wagons
coming down the trail near the river.

Uncle Kit said to the men that were with us, "Now is your chance, boys.
You can join this train and go home with them."

When the teams drove up, the three men and the boy we had left at the
fort were with them.

They all camped there with us, and after talking with the men, we found
out that none of them claimed the teams and wagons that had been found.
The owners of them had all been killed. The survivors did not know what
to do with the wagons and their contents, and they appealed to Uncle Kit
for advice in the matter.

Carson said, "I do not see that you can do better than take them along
with you. If you leave them here, somebody will come along and take
them, and they belong as much to you as to anyone."

So the next morning they rigged up five wagons with three yoke of cattle
to a wagon, leaving eight wagons with their contents standing where
their owners had left them when the Indians had killed them.

As they were ready to pull out, Uncle Kit went to them and asked them to
give him their names and where they lived, "for," he said, "if I ever
hear where any of the people lived who owned the property you have
taken with you, I want to write to you so you can give them to their

We then bid them all good bye, and they started on their journey home,
Carson having advised them not to molest the Indians no matter how many
or how few they might meet on their way, and then the Indians would not
molest them, as they were a friendly tribe, and that was the last we
ever saw or heard of that party.

We now turned back to Bent's Fort and reached there just before night.
Col. Bent's herder took care of our horses.

That night Carson, Bridger and I consulted together, and Bridger and I
decided to go with Uncle Kit to his home at Taos, Mexico, and stay a
month with him, but fate seemed to step in and change my plans.

The next morning when the herder went out to get our horses he found a
man crawling along, trying to get to the Fort, who was nearly starved
and so weak that he could hardly speak.

The herder put him on his horse and brought him to the Fort, and we gave
him some food. He said this was the first time he had broken his fast in
four days, and then he went on to tell that he and his comrades, which
were four altogether, had been among the first to come out to Cherry
Creek in search of gold the spring before, and after they got there,
they were so disappointed to find that there was not enough gold there
to pay them to stay that they concluded to go and prospect on their own
hooks. Each of them had taken as much provisions as he could carry, with
his gun and blanket, pick and shovel, and they had struck out into the
mountains. They had kept on at the foot of the mountain until they
passed the Arkansaw river, and here they went up into the mountains and
soon lost their way.

"How long we were traveling or where we went, I do not know," continued
the unfortunate man, "and finally we forgot the day of the week. As long
as our ammunition lasted, we did not lack for something to eat, and
foolishly we sometimes shot game we did not need, and after a while our
ammunition gave out, and when that happened it was not long until all
the other stuff was gone, and we could not tell where we were until we
got out of the mountains and saw Pike's Peak, as we knew what direction
Pike's Peak was from Cherry Creek.

"We knew then what direction to take to get back. The second night after
we left the mountains, one of the boys was taken very sick, and as we
could not think of leaving him to die alone, and we had nothing to eat
for him or for ourselves, and I being the strongest, they picked me to
go and try to get relief. It has been four days and nights since I left
them, and I do not believe I have slept over two hours at a time since I
started, I was so anxious to find help to go to them. And besides, I was
so hungry I could not rest. Many a time I have walked as long as I could
keep my eyes open, and I would drop down beside a log and fall asleep
before I struck the ground and slept an hour or two, and then awoke with
that dreadful gnawing in my stomach. Then I got up again and struggled
on, but I could not have gone much farther when the herder got up to me,
for my strength was nearly gone, and I should have given up and died
very soon. Nobody knows what I have suffered on this trip, except they
that have gone through the same ordeal. We have about one hundred
dollars between us, and we are willing to give it to anyone who will go
and carry something to eat and help my comrades to come here."

The looks of the man and the pleading way he talked and the faithfulness
to his friends in trying to get help to them was more pathetic than any
romance could describe it, and could not help but appeal to the heart of
any man.

With the light of deep sympathy in his eyes, Uncle Kit stepped forward
and, stretching out his hand toward the unfortunate, exclaimed, "Do not
worry another moment; your comrades shall have assistance at once, or as
soon as I can reach them," and turning to me, Uncle Kit said, "Willie,
come outside with me a moment," and when I looked at him after I had
followed him, I saw the tears on his cheeks. I had known Kit Carson
several years, but this was the first time I had seen him moved to
tears. He said, "Willie, my boy, can't you find these men as well as

I answered, "Yes, sir; if this man can give me any clue to follow, I
will find them in short order, for I have been all over those mountains
and through the valley several times, and know the country well."

He said, "Well, I thought you could fill the bill if any one could,
Willie; and now go and have three horses saddled, and I will have some
grub fixed up, and by that time the man will have finished eating and
will be more fit to talk to you."

My horses were soon ready, and I went in to see the man. When I went
into the room where he was, I found him lying on a cot, and after I had
talked with him a few moments, I decided in my mind he had left his
comrades not far from where the city of Trinidad now stands. He gave me
the description of nearly all the mountains and streams he had crossed
on his way to the Fort after he had left his friends, and I thought if
he had been correct in his description of his route I could find the
suffering men without much difficulty. When I went out to where the
horses were waiting for me, I found Uncle Kit had packed about forty
pounds of grub on one of the horses. Col. Bent handed me a pint flask of
whiskey, saying, "Now, if these men are alive when you find them, give
them a small quantity of this, but be very careful not to give them too
much at a time, and the same care must be taken in giving them food."

As I was starting, Uncle Kit said, "Now, Willie, if you are successful
in finding the men, I hope to hear from you in two or three weeks. Jim
and I will leave here today for Taos, and you will find us there when
you come home," and he gave me his hand, and with a lingering pressure
said, "Goodbye, and God speed you on your errand of mercy, my boy."

And I mounted my horse and left the Fort, and was off on my long, lonely
journey over trackless prairies and through mountain passes that had
perhaps never been trodden by a white man beforehand. No one can realize
how lonely this journey was. I did not think much about it myself until
I made my camp the first night. After I had staked out my horses and
built a fire, I began to realize what a dreadful state the lost men must
be in, for if I was so hungry, who had eaten a good meal at noon, what
must they be suffering who had had nothing to eat in five days? The
thoughts of the suffering men whom I hoped to rescue from death kept me
awake most of the night, and I fully decided that this was the last time
I would try to sleep until I knew whether they were living or dead. I
was up with the dawn the next morning, and on the way, and I thought if
I did not meet with any bad luck to detain me I would be in the vicinity
of the men I sought by night.

From this time out I knew I must be very careful to look for signs of
the lost men, as hunger might drive them to leave the place where their
comrade had directed me to look for them. When I was a little west
of where the city of Waltzingburge now stands, and the darkness was
beginning to close down, I saw the glimmer of a little fire off to the
right, at what looked about a half mile from me. I thought it might be
an Indian camp and directed my course that way, but when I was within
sight of it and was within a hundred yards or so of the fire, I could
not see a soul stirring around it, but I kept on up to the fire, and
suddenly my horse came near stepping on a man who lay on the ground with
bare feet and nothing under or over him. I sprang from my horse and bent
over him and spoke to him, but he did not answer or move. I then took
hold of his shoulder and shook him gently, and he seemed to rouse up a
little. I said, "What are you laying here for?" and he murmured in a
voice so weak I had to bend my ear close to him to hear, "I have laid
down to die."'

I pulled the flask of whiskey from my pocket and raised him on my arm
and wet his lips with a few drops of the whiskey. I repeated this
several times, as he seemed to have relapsed into unconsciousness, and
I was afraid I was too late to save him or bring him back to

I laid him down and built the fire anew and unpacked my horse and got my
blankets and made a pallet and lifted him on it. Lifting him seemed to
revive him, and the firelight showed me that he had opened his eyes, and
he put his hand on his stomach and whispered, "Oh, how hungry I am."

I gave him a small sup of whiskey, and, taking a piece of buffalo meat
from my pack, I soon had it broiled, and with some bread I began to feed
him in small morsels. I continued to do this for perhaps half an hour,
as he was too weak to swallow much at a time, and I had to wait some
moments before giving him another morsel, and between times I gave him
a taste of the whiskey. Up to now I had no idea he was one of the men I
was hunting for.

It was perhaps an hour from the time that I commenced to feed him when
he seemed to come to himself, and I thought that he was strong enough
to answer me, so I asked him how he came to be here in the weak, almost
dying condition that I had found him in, and then he told me who he was
and how he came to be there, and I knew he was the only survivor left
alive of the three whom I had started out to find.

He said that he had not had a bite to eat in seven days, only what
nourishment he could get by chewing his moccasins.

He had soaked them in water until they were soft and then broiled them
on the coals and eaten them.

I told him how his comrade had been picked up near Bent's Fort in an
exhausted condition, and how he had begged someone to go to the relief
of those he had left starving, and that I had started out to find them
if I could.

He said the one who first fell sick died the same night their comrade
left them to get help, and that the other one and himself were not
strong enough to dig a grave to bury him in, so they left him just as he
had died and crawled away, and they kept on together until near the next
night, when the one that was with him took sick and could go no further.

"And," said he, "I built a fire and we lay down, and I was so weak that
I fell asleep and slept until morning, and when I awoke my companion was
dead and cold. So I was all alone. I could do nothing for him any more
than he and I could for the other one. I left him also and started on
alone, but I could not go far, for I grew so weak. Then the thought came
to me that I could eat my moccasins if I soaked them soft and broiled
them over the coals. After I had eaten them, I was a little stronger and
kept on until I reached this place, when my strength gave out again, and
I built a fire, as I thought for the last time, for I did not expect to
ever leave here. When you came, I heard your voice, but I thought I was

After I had listened to his sad story, I gave him some more to eat and
more whiskey, which seemed to revive him, and he gained strength very
fast, and when the morning came he could sit up and seemed quite
composed, although he was no more than the shadow of a man. But by noon
he could walk around and seemed very anxious to be moving. Late that
afternoon I saddled the horses and assisted him to mount one of them,
and we left the place. He said he had thought that place would be his
last resting place.

We had ridden slowly for about five miles when we came to a stream of
cool water, and where we could have a shady place to lie down and
rest, and I made a camp there and spread a blanket for my sick man and
prepared some supper for us both. I had to remind him many times to be
careful and not eat too much in his weak state, for he was so hungry and
the food tasted so good that he found it difficult to restrain himself
from eating more than was good for him.

For two days it seemed almost impossible for him to get enough to eat,
and although I pitied him, I knew I must not give him all he would have

The morning of the third day after I found him, he seemed more rational
than he had since I had been with him. That morning he asked where we
were going, and when I told him we were going to Bent's Fort, where his
comrade was waiting for us, he seemed surprised. He did not remember
that I had told him how the herder at the Fort had found him, and that
it was through his faithful struggle to get help for his starving
friends that I had started out to find them. When I told it all to him
again, he sat and cried like a child.

He said: "How can I ever pay this friend for suffering so much for
me, and you, a stranger, for seeking to find me in the trackless

And then he told me what each of his comrades said before they died.

He said they were all raised together in one town in Missouri and were
as dear to each other as though they had been brothers, and all their
parents were in Denver, Colorado, where the four sons had left them when
they started out prospecting for gold, and he said with tears in his
eyes, "How can I ever tell their mothers what we all suffered, and how
the two died and their bodies left laying unburied?"

After we had talked as long as I thought was best for him to dwell on
the sad events, I cheered him up as well as I could. I assisted him to
mount the horse I had selected for him to ride, and we pulled out on the
trail for the Fort.

He was so weak that we could not ride over ten miles a day, and we were
seven days going back the same distance that I had traveled in two when
I struck out to find them.

The day before we reached Bent's Fort, I shot a young deer just as we
were going into camp, and as he was eating some of it, he said it was
the sweetest meat he'd ever eaten.

We landed at Bent's Fort on the evening of the seventh day after I
started back with him. His comrade was sitting outside of the Fort when
we came in sight, and when he saw us he hurried to meet us, and when we
were in speaking distance of each other he said:

"Bill, I had given up all hope of ever seeing you again," and he did not
wait for his friend to dismount, but reached up and took him off in his
arms, and men who were used to all kinds of sights turned away with
tears in their eyes at the sight of that meeting.

After they were seated together in the Fort and were more composed, they
began talking about how they should tell the parents of the comrades who
had died in the mountains.

One said, "I can never tell them," and the other said, "We must, for
they will have to be told, and who else will do it?"

They now turned to me and asked if I would take them to Denver, and what
I would charge them for doing it. I said, "Boys, I will take you to
Denver, and when we get there you can pay me whatever you can afford to
pay, be it much or little."

So it was decided that we should leave the Fort in the morning, and, as
we were nearly ready to start, the man who had brought the news and had
remained at the Fort while I went to find his comrades asked Col. Bent
how much his bill would be for the time he had staid there. Col. Bent
said, "You do not owe me a cent," and taking a twenty-dollar gold piece
from his pocket, the Colonel handed it to one of the men, saying as he
did so, "But you can give this to Mr. Drannan, for he is the one that
deserves this and more for what he has done." We mounted our horses and
left the Fort and struck the trail for Denver.

Nothing occurred to impede our journey, and we arrived at Denver on the
third day after we left Fort Bent.

We camped on Cherry Creek on the edge of town.

I said: "Now, boys, I will take care of the horses and cook supper, and
you two can strike out and see if you can find your folks, and if you
have not found them by dark, come back here and get your supper and stay
with me tonight."

They had not been gone more than half an hour when I saw them coming
back, and an elderly man and woman and a young lady were with them.

When they came to me, the man whom I had found unconscious in the
mountains said:

"Father and mother, this is the man who sought and found me and saved my

The father took my hand, and, in a voice that trembled with emotion,
said, "I can never thank you enough for what you have done for my boy
and his mother and me, for he is our only son, and I think our hearts
would have broken if he had shared the sad fate of his two comrades."

The mother gave me her hand without speaking, but her tear-stained face
and smiling lips thanked me more than words could have done. The young
girl, whom the elder man presented as his daughter, thanked me in a
sweet voice for bringing her brother back to them, and when all got
through, I felt almost overpowered with their gratitude.

They insisted on my going home with them to stay all night, which I did,
and the next morning I had the pleasure of meeting the father and mother
and two brothers of the other man.

After I had talked with them all a while, one of the young men asked me
what they should pay me for all the trouble I had taken upon myself in
their cause.

I told them that I would take the twenty dollars that Col. Bent had
given him for me, and as the morning was wearing away, I bid them good
bye and left them and started on my journey to Taos, New Mexico, and my
much-looked-forward-to visit to Uncle Kit, and that was the last time
I ever saw any of these people. But a year ago I was at Denver and had
occasion to call at the office of _The Rocky Mountain News_, which, by
the way, is the oldest newspaper published in the state of Colorado, and
while I was talking with the editor, he alluded to the incident I have
just spoken about and said that the man whom I had found unconscious at
the camp fire in the mountains lived and died at Denver, and that he was
always called "Moccasin Bill," from the fact that he ate his moccasins
while trying to find his way out of the mountains, and that for several
months before he died he seemed to dwell upon that event and always
mentioned how I'd rescued him from certain death on that to him
never-to-be-forgotten occasion.

When I arrived at Taos, I found Uncle Kit and his family all in good
health, and I found Jim Bridger there having what he called a grand good

As soon as I had been greeted by Uncle Kit and the others of the family,
he asked me how I had succeeded in my quest of the lost, and when I told
him all the particulars, he said:

"Willie, my boy, that was one of the best things you have ever done, and
it is something for you to be proud of doing, and I am proud of having a
share in directing you what to do, and I am very proud of my boy."

I answered, "Uncle Kit, you have always taught me to do my duty on every
occasion, as I have noticed you always do yourself, and it has been the
example you have set before me as well as the instruction you have given
me from my boyhood until now that has made me what I am, and I should be
very sorry to do anything to make you ashamed of or cause you to regret
that you took the little homeless, wandering orphan and gave him a
father's care and protection, and I shall always try to make you love me
whether I can do what will make you proud of me or not."


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