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Title: California - Four Months among the Gold-Finders, being the Diary of an Expedition from San Francisco to the Gold Districts
Author: Vizetelly, Henry, 1820-1894
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.

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Four Months among the Gold-Finders, Being the Diary of an Expedition
from San Francisco to the Gold Districts



Lith de Thierry Frères à Paris]


The accompanying diary--some interesting circumstances connected
with which will be found in a letter given at the end of the present
volume--was sent home by the Author merely for the entertainment of
the members of his own family and a few private friends. It has been
submitted to the public in the hope that, as an authentic record of
a variety of interesting particulars connected with the original
discovery and present condition of the Gold Districts of California,
it will not fail to prove acceptable.

London, 1849.


  Clearing the Faranolles
  Making the entrance to the Bay of San Francisco
  The passage through the Strait
  Appearance of the Bay
  Town of San Francisco
  The anchor is let go
  The Author goes on shore
  His bad luck
  Sweeting's Hotel
  The Author and Mr. Malcolm propose visiting the American settlements
  They become acquainted with Captain Fulsom and Mr. Bradley
  Object of the Author's visit to California
  Mr. McPhail leaves for Sonoma
  The Houses of San Francisco, and their inhabitants
  Native California
  Senoritas and cigarettos.

... I felt heartily glad to hear that we were then clearing the
Faranolles, and soon hurried up on deck, but we continued beating
about for several hours before we made the entrance to the Bay of San
Francisco. At length, however, we worked our way in between the two
high bluffs, and along a strait a couple of miles wide and nearly five
miles long, flanked on either side with bold broken hills--passing on
our right hand the ricketty-looking fortifications erected by the
Spaniards for the defence of the passage, but over which the Yankee
stars and stripes were now floating. On leaving the strait we found
ourselves on a broad sheet of rippling water looking like a great
inland lake, hemmed in on all sides by lofty hills on which innumerable
herds of cattle and horses were grazing, with green islands and clusters
of rock rising up here and there, and a little fleet of ships riding at
anchor. On our right was the town of San Francisco.

I had suffered so much from the voyage, that when the anchor was let
go I felt no inclination to hurry on shore. McPhail and Malcolm,
however, went off, but promised to return to the ship that night. I
soon after turned into my hammock, and, thanks to the stillness of the
water in which we rode, slept soundly till morning.

_April 29th_.--This morning we all rose early, and went on shore.
The little baggage we had we took in the boat. Malcolm told me that he
had heard the war was over between the United States and Mexico, and I
bitterly congratulated myself on experiencing my usual run of bad
luck. We made our way to Sweeting's hotel, which Malcolm and McPhail
had visited yesterday, and stated to be the best of the three hotels
which have sprung up here since the Americans became masters of the

Malcolm intends making an excursion to the interior. He proposes to
visit the American settlements, and to satisfy himself as to the
reputed advantages which California presents as an agricultural
country. I have agreed to accompany him. We have fallen in with two
very pleasant American gentlemen at our hotel to-day--one, a Captain
Fulsom, holding some appointment under Government here; the other, a
young friend of his named Bradley. We had some conversation together
on the subject of the Mexican war, in the course of which I learnt
that Mr. Bradley has been a resident in California for the last eight
years, and that he was one of the officers of the volunteer corps
attached to the army of the United States, while military operations
were going on in this country. I told him of my desire to enter as a
surgeon in the service of the States, and he promised to speak to
Captain Fulsom on the subject, and obtain from him a letter to Colonel
Mason, the new governor; but he is afraid there is little chance of my
meeting with success, as nearly all the volunteer corps have been, or
are about to be, disbanded. Both Mr. Bradley and Captain Fulsom speak
very favourably of the climate and soil of California, and say that an
enterprising agriculturist is sure to make a speedy fortune. Mr.
Bradley, who has agreed to accompany us on our trip, strongly advises
Malcolm to shift his quarters from Oregon, and settle here, saying
that he is sure my friend will do so when he has once seen the farms
in the Sacramento valley, whither we are to start early next week.
McPhail left us to-day, to make a trip to Sonoma.

San Francisco, although as yet but a poor place, will no doubt become
a great emporium of commerce. The population may be about a couple of
thousands; of these two-thirds are Americans. The houses, with the
exception of some few wooden ones which have been shipped over here by
the Americans, are nearly all built of unburnt bricks. The appearance
of the native Californian is quite Spanish. The men wear high
steeple-like hats, jackets of gaudy colours, and breeches of velvet,
generally cotton. They are a handsome swarthy race. The best part in
the faces of the women are their eyes, which are black and very
lustrous. The Californian belles, I am sorry to say, spoil their teeth
by smoking cigarettos.


  Start for Monterey
  Horse equipments in California
  The advantages of them
  Rifles and Ruffians
  Californian Scenery
  Immense herds of cattle
  Mission of Santa Clara
  Pueblo of San José
  A Californian farm-house
  What it is like inside and out
  Prolific crops of wheat
  The journey is resumed
  Mission of San José
  Arrival at Monterey
  The Author's visit to Colonel Mason
  Surgeons not wanted in California
  Rumours of gold being found on the Sacramento
  Characteristics of Monterey
  Don Luis Palo and his sisters
  What all Californian dinners consist of
  The party return to San Francisco.

Monterey.--_May 4th_.--Started off early on the morning of the 2nd on
our journey to Monterey. We found our horses in readiness in the hotel
yard, in charge of a servant (here called a vaquero) of Mr. Bradley's.
The latter, having business to transact at Monterey, accompanied
us. My horse was equipped after the Spanish fashion, with the usual
high-pommelled cumbrous saddle, with a great show of useless trappings,
and clumsy wooden stirrups, and for a long time I found the riding
sufficiently disagreeable, though, doubtless, far more pleasant than
a coast journey would have been, with a repetition of the deadly
sea-sickness from which I had already suffered so much. I soon found
out, too, the advantages of the Spanish saddle, as enabling one to
keep one's seat when travelling over thorough broken country through
which our road ran. Bradley had told us to have our rifles in
readiness, as no one travels any distance here without that very
necessary protection, the mountains near the coast being infested with
lawless gangs of ruffians, who lie in wait for solitary travellers.

The first part of our ride lay through a dense thicket of underwood,
and afterwards across parched up valleys, and over low sandy hills;
then past large grazing grounds--where cattle might be counted by the
thousand--and numerous ranchos or farms, the white farm buildings,
surrounded by little garden patches, scattered over the hill sides.
We at length came to an extensive plain, with groups of oaks spread
over its surface, and soon afterwards reached the neglected Mission of
Santa Clara, where we halted for a few hours. On leaving here our road
was over a raised causeway some two or three miles in length, beneath
an avenue of shady trees, which extended as far as the outskirts of
the town of St. José. This town, or pueblo as it is called, is nothing
more than a mass of ill-arranged and ill built houses, with an ugly
church and a broad plaza, peopled by three or four hundred inhabitants.
Not being used to long journeys on horseback, I felt disposed to stop
here for the night, but Bradley urged us to proceed a few miles farther,
where we could take up our quarters at a rancho belonging to a friend
of his. Accordingly we pushed on, and, after a ride of about seven
miles, diverged from the main road, and soon reached the farm-house,
where we were well entertained, and had a good night's rest.

Like the generality of houses in California, this was only one story
high, and was built of piles driven into the ground, interlaced with
boughs and sticks, and then plastered over with mud and whitewashed.
The better class of farm-houses are built of adobes, or unburnt
bricks, and tiled over. The interior was as plain and cheerless as it
well could be. The floor was formed of the soil, beaten down till it
was as firm and hard as a piece of stone. The room set apart for our
sleeping accommodation boasted as its sole ornaments a Dutch clock and
a few gaudily-coloured prints of saints hung round the walls. The beds
were not over comfortable, but we were too tired to be nice. In the
morning I took a survey of the exterior, and saw but few cattle
stalled in the sheds around the house. The greater part, it sterns,
after being branded, are suffered to run loose over the neighbouring
pastures. There was a well-cultivated garden in the rear of the house,
with abundance of fruit trees and vegetables.

While we were at breakfast, Malcolm asked our host several questions
about his crops, and soon found that he was no practical agriculturist.
He had, however, at Bradley's suggestion, discarded the native wooden
plough for the more effective American implement. He told us that he
calculated his crop of wheat this year would yield a hundred fanegas
for every one sown; and, on our expressing our surprise at such a
bountiful return, said that sixty or over was the usual average. If
so, the soil must be somewhat wonderful. After expressing our thanks,
for the hospitality shown us, to the wife of our host, who was a very
pretty little dark-eyed woman, with a most winning way about her, we
started off to resume our journey. For my own part, I felt very loth
to proceed, for I was terribly fatigued by my performance of yesterday,
and suffered not a little from that disagreeable malady called
"saddle-sickness." Our Californian accompanied us some short distance
on our road, which lay for many miles through a wide valley, watered
by a considerable stream, and overgrown with oaks and sycamores. Low
hills rose on either hand, covered with dark ridges of lofty pine
trees, up which herds of elk and deer were every now and then seen
scampering. We at length entered upon a narrow road through a range of
green sheltering hills, and, passing the Mission of San Juan, crossed
a wide plain and ascended the mountain ridge which lay between us and
Monterey, where we arrived late in the day.

Next morning Mr. Bradley accompanied me to the Governor's house, where
we saw Colonel Mason, the new governor of the State. He received us
with great politeness, but said that the war, if war it deserved to be
called, was now at an end, that but a small number of troops were
stationed in the country, and that there was no vacancy for a surgeon.
"Indeed," he said, "considering that we have given up head-breaking,
and the climate is proverbially healthy, California is hardly the place
for doctors to settle in. Besides," said he, "the native Californians
all use the Temescal (a sort of air-bath) as a remedy for every
disorder." Colonel Mason then asked Mr. Bradley if he had heard the
reports of gold having been found on the Sacramento, as Mr. Fulsom had
casually mentioned in a letter to him that such rumours were prevalent
at San Francisco. Bradley replied that he had heard something about it,
but believed that there was no truth in the matter, although a few
fools had indeed rushed off to the reputed gold mines forthwith. With
this our interview terminated.

Monterey seems to be a rising town. The American style of houses is
superseding the old mud structures, and numbers of new huildings are
being run up every month. The hotel we stopped at has only been
recently opened by an American. Monterey is moreover a port of some
importance, if one may judge from the number of vessels lying at

_May 7th_.--On Friday we dined at the house of Don Luis Palo, a
Californian gentleman of agreeable manners, whose father held office
here under the Spanish government previous to the Mexican Revolution.
I believe it is Don Luis's intention shortly to return to Spain. He is
unmarried, and his two sisters are the handsomest women I have yet
seen in this country; their beauty is quite of the Spanish style. A
dinner in California seems to be always the same--first soup and then
beef, dressed in various ways, and seasoned with chillies, fowls,
rice, and beans, with a full allowance of pepper and garlic to each

On Saturday we set out on our return, and after two days' hard riding
reached San Francisco to-day at 4, P.M.


  An arrival at San Francisco from the gold district
  Captain Fulsom intends visiting the mine
  The first Alcalde and others examine the gold
  Parties made up for the diggings
  Newspaper reports
  The Government officers propose taking possession of the mine
  The Author and his friends decide to visit the Sacramento Valley
  A horse is bought
  Increase of the gold excitement
  Work-people strike work and prepare to move off
  Lawyers, storekeepers, and others follow their example
  The Author's journey delayed
  Ten dollars a day for a negro waiter
  Waiting for a saddler
  Don Luis Palo arrives from Monterey on his way to the mines
  The report of the Government taking possession of the mines
  Desertion of part of the Monterey garrison
  Rumoured extent of the mines
  The Author and his friends agree to go in company
  Return of McPhail
  Preparations for the journey
  "Gone to the diggings."

_May 8th_.--Captain Fulsom called at Sweeting's to-day. He had seen a
man this morning who reported that he had just come from a river called
the American Fork, about one hundred miles in the interior, where he
had been gold-washing. Captain Fulsom saw the gold he had with him; it
was about twenty-three ounces weight, and in small flakes. The man
stated that he was eight days getting it, but Captain Fulsom hardly
believed this. He says that he saw some of this gold a few weeks since,
and thought it was only "mica," but good judges have pronounced it to
be genuine metal. He talks, however, of paying a visit to the place
where it is reported to come from. After he was gone Bradley stated
that the Sacramento settlements, which Malcolm wished to visit, were
in the neighbourhood of the American Fork, and that we might go there
together; he thought the distance was only one hundred and twenty

_May 10th_.--Yesterday and to-day nothing has been talked of but the
new gold "placer," as people call it. It seems that four other men had
accompanied the person Captain Fulsom saw yesterday, and that they had
each realized a large quantity of gold. They left the "diggings" on the
American Fork (which it seems is the Rio de los Americanos, a tributary
to the Sacramento) about a week ago, and stopt a day or two at Sutter's
fort, a few miles this side of the diggings, on their way; from there
they had travelled by boat to San Francisco. The gold they brought has
been examined by the first Alcalde here, and by all the merchants in
the place. Bradley showed us a lump weighing a quarter of an ounce,
which he had bought of one of the men, and for which he gave him three
dollars and a half. I have no doubt in my own mind about its being
genuine gold. Several parties, we hear, are already made up to visit
the diggings; and, according to the newspaper here, a number of people
have actually started off with shovels, mattocks, and pans to dig the
gold themselves. It is not likely, however, that this will be allowed,
for Captain Fulsom has already written to Colonel Mason about taking
possession of the mine on behalf of the Government, it being, as he
says, on public land.

_May 13_.--It is now finally settled that we start off on Wednesday to
the Sacramento Valley. To-day, under Bradley's direction, I have bought
a good horse, for which I paid only fifteen dollars. It will be very
little more expense than hiring a horse of the hotel-master here,
besides being far more agreeable to have a horse of one's own; for
everybody, the commonest workman even, rides in this country. The gold
excitement increases daily, as several fresh arrivals from the mines
have been reported at San Francisco. The merchants eagerly buy up the
gold brought by the miners, and no doubt, in many cases, at prices
considerably under its value. I have heard, though, of as much as
sixteen dollars an ounce having been given in some instances, which I
should have thought was over rather than under the full value of gold
in the United States. I confess I begin to feel seriously affected with
the prevailing excitement, and am anxious for Wednesday to arrive.

_May 17th_.--This place is now in a perfect furor of excitement; all the
work-people have struck. Walking through the town to-day, I observed
that labourers were employed only upon about half a-dozen of the fifty
new buildings which were in course of being run up. The majority of the
mechanics at this place are making preparations for moving off to the
mines, and several hundred people of all classes--lawyers, store-keepers,
merchants, etc.,--are bitten with the fever; in fact, there is a
regular gold mania springing up. I counted no less than eighteen houses
which were closed, the owners having left. If Colonel Mason is moving a
force to the American Fork, as is reported here, their journey will be
in vain.

Our trip has been delayed to-day, for the saddler cannot get our
equipments in readiness for at least forty-eight hours. He says that
directly he has finished the job he shall start off himself to the
diggings. I have bribed him with promises of greatly increased pay not
to disappoint us again. As it was, we were to pay him a very high
price, which he demanded on account of three of his men having left
him, and there being only himself and two workmen to attend to our

I told Mr. Bradley of our misfortune. He promised to wait for us, but
recommended me to keep going in and out of the saddler's all day long,
in order to make sure that the man was at work, otherwise we might be
kept hanging about for a fortnight.

_May 20th_.--It requires a full amount of patience to stay quietly
watching the proceedings of an inattentive tradesman amid such a
whirlpool of excitement as is now in action. Sweeting tells me that his
negro waiter has demanded and receives ten dollars a-day. He is forced
to submit, for "helps" of all kinds are in great demand, and very
difficult to meet with. Several hundred people must have left here
during the last few days. Malcolm and I have our baggage all in
readiness to start on Monday.

_May 22nd_.--To-day all our arrangements have been changed; the saddler
did not keep his promise, and while Malcolm, Bradley, and myself were
venting our indignation against him, Don Luis Palo made his appearance.
The gold fever had spread to Monterey, and he had determined to be off
to the mines at once. He had brought his servant (a converted Indian,
named José) with him, and extra horses with his baggage; he intended to
set to work himself at the diggings, and meant to take everything he
required with him. He says the report about Colonel Mason's moving a
force off to the mines to take possession of them is all nonsense; that
some of the garrison of Monterey have already gone there, is quite
true, but they have deserted to dig sold on their own account. Colonel
Mason, he says, knows too well that he has no efficient force for such
a purpose, and that, even if he had, he would not be able to keep his
men together. It appears, also, that the mines occupy several miles of
ground, the gold not being confined to one particular spot. On hearing
this intelligence we at once determined to follow Don Luis's example,
and although there seemed a certain degree of absurdity in four people,
all holding some position in society, going off on what might turn out
to be only a fool's errand, still the evidence we had before us, of the
gold which had actually been found, and the example of the multitudes
who were daily hastening to the diggings, determined us to go with the
rest. We therefore held a council upon the best method of proceeding,
at which every one offered his suggestions.

While we were thus engaged, McPhail, our fellow-passenger from Oregon,
made his appearance, having only just then returned from Sonoma. He had
heard a great deal about the new gold placer, and he had merely come
back for his baggage, intending to start off for the mines forthwith.
The result of our deliberations was to this effect. Each man was to
furnish himself with one good horse for his own use, and a second horse
to carry his personal baggage, as well as a portion of the general
outfit; we were each to take a rifle, holster pistols, etc. It was
agreed, moreover, that a tent should be bought immediately, if such a
thing could be procured, as well as some spades, and mattocks, and a
good stout axe, together with a collection of blankets and hides, and a
supply of coffee, sugar, whisky, and brandy; knives, forks, and plates,
with pots and kettles, and all the requisite cooking utensils for a
camp life. The tent is the great difficulty, and fears are entertained
that we shall not be able to procure one; but Bradley thinks he might
buy one out of the Government stores.

I followed the saddler well up during the day, and was fortunate enough
to obtain our saddles, saddle-bags, etc., by four o'clock. On going to
his house a couple of hours after about some trifling alteration I
wished made, I found it shut up and deserted. On the door was pasted a
paper with the following words, "Gone to the diggings."


  The party leave San Francisco
  Cross to Sausalitto with horses and baggage
  Appearance of the cavalcade
  José's method of managing horses
  Character of the country passed through
  Stay at Sonoma for the night
  A Yankee hotel-keeper's notion
  The Author meets with Lieutenant Sherman
  Receives from him a letter of introduction to Captain Sutter
  Napper Valley
  Sleep at the house of a settler
  Troublesome bedfellows
  Wild-looking scenery
  Bradley is injured by a fall from his horse
  Difficulties in the way of pitching a tent
  A hint to the bears
  Supper and bed
  Resume the journey
  Sacramento valley
  Elk and wild fowl
  A long halt
  A hunting party
  A missing shot.

Sonoma.--_May 24th_.--This morning at last saw us off. We left San
Francisco shortly after seven, and embarked with our horses and baggage
in a launch, which landed us at Sausalitto before ten. From thence we
made our way to Sonoma, where we put up for the night. We formed quite
a cavalcade, and presented a tolerably imposing appearance. First came
the horses (six in number), which carried our baggage, camp equipments,
etc. After these came José, Don Luis's Indian servant (who seems to be
a far more lively fellow than Indians are generally), having these
extra horses in his charge; and he really managed them admirably. For
what with whistling, and coaxing, and swearing, and swinging his
"riatta" over their heads, he had them as much under his command as
ever a crack dragsman had his four-in-hand in the good old coaching
times of my own dear England. We followed after, riding, when the road
would admit of it, all abreast, and presenting a bold front to any gang
of desperadoes who might be daring enough to attack us. There was
little fear of this, however, for we hardly rode a mile without falling
in with scattered parties bound to the gold mines.

We made our way but slowly during the first portion of our ride, for
the road wound up steep hills and down into deep hollows, but when at
last we came upon a winding valley some miles in extent, our horses got
over the ground in a style which only Californian steeds could achieve
after the hard work which had already been performed. Towards evening,
we crossed the hills which divided the valley from Sonoma plain, and on
reaching Sonoma put up at an hotel recently opened here by a citizen
from the United States, who coolly told us, in the course of
conversation, that he guessed he didn't intend shearing off to the gold
mines, until he had drawn a few thousand dollars from the San Francisco
folk who pass through here to and from the diggings.

_May 27th_.--We stopped at Sonoma the greater part of Thursday, to give
our horses rest. At the hotel, I met Lieutenant Sherman, who had
brought dispatches to the officer in command here from Colonel Mason. I
was much delighted in again meeting with this gentleman, and we had a
long talk together over the merry times we had when we were both
slaying at Washington. When he heard our destination he kindly offered
to give me a letter of introduction to a very old friend of his,
Captain Sutter, the proprietor of Sutter's fort, and one of the
earliest settlers on the Sacramento. I availed myself of his offer, and
about three o'clock we started off across the plain, and made our way
through the groves of fine oak trees which cover it in every direction.
We next ascended the hills which lay between us and Napper Valley, and,
after crossing them, made for the house of an American settler, a
friend of Bradley's, who provided us with the best accommodation his
house would furnish for the night. We turned in early, but the legions
of fleas which were our bedfellows exerted themselves to such a degree
that for hours sleep was out of the question. The country is terribly
plagued with these vermin. I do not know how the settlers get on;
perhaps they are accustomed to the infliction, but a stranger feels it

The next day we travelled over the corresponding range of hills to
those crossed on Thursday, and were soon in the midst of a much
wilder-looking country--a rapid succession of steep and rugged
mountains, thickly timbered with tall pine-trees and split up with
deep precipitous ravines, hemming in beautiful and fertile valleys,
brilliant with golden flowers and dotted over with noble oaks. While
we were riding down one of these dangerous chasms, Bradley, who was
showing off his superior equitation, was thrown from his horse, and
fell rather severely on his arm. On examining it, I was surprised to
find he had escaped a fracture. As it is, he has injured it sufficiently
to prevent him from using the limb for several days. I bandaged it up,
put it in a sling, and he proceeded in a more cautious manner.

To-night we used our tent for the first time. We were somewhat awkward
in pitching it, and three times did the whole structure come down by
the run, burying several of us in the flapping canvas, and inflicting
some tolerably hard knocks with the poles. However, at length we
succeeded in getting it fixed; and, kindling a blazing fire close to
it, as a polite intimation to the bears that they were not wanted,
cooked our supper over the embers, and then, wrapped in our blankets,
slept far better than the fleas had allowed us to do the night before.

This morning I examined Bradley's arm, and was glad to find the
inflammation somewhat reduced. He was bruised a good deal about the
body generally, and complained to-day sorely of the pain he felt while
being jolted over the broken ground which we crossed in our ascent of
the tall mountains that bound the Sacramento Valley. From their summit
we obtained a noble view of the broad winding river and its smaller
tributaries, thickly studded with islands overgrown with noble oaks and
sycamores. We encamped to-night at the foot of these hills, near a
little stream which gurgled merrily by. We have seen several herds of
elk to-day, and a large quantity of wild fowl.

_Sunday, May 28th_.--To-day we made a long halt, for we were all
exceedingly tired, and some of our pack-horses, which were heavily
laden, showed symptoms of "giving out." We determined, therefore, to
stay here till late in the day, and then to follow the course of the
creek for a few miles, and there pitch our tent. Turning our horses
loose to graze, several of the party went off on a hunting excursion on
foot, but their only success was about a score of wild geese, which are
very plentiful in the marshy land bordering the creek. I got a shot at
an elk which came down to the water to drink, but he made off unhurt.


  Encampment for the night
  Symptoms of neighbours not far off
  Reach the Sacramento River
  Sutter's Fort
  Captain Sutter
  His offer of accommodation
  Various matters to be seen to
  A walk through the Fort
  Desertion of the guard to the "diggings"
  Work and whisky
  Indians and their bargains
  A chief's effort to look like a civilised being
  Yankee traders
  Indians and trappers
  "Beats beaver skins"
  Death to the weakest
  A regular Spanish Don and his servant
  Captain Sutter a Swiss Guard
  His prejudice in favour of "constituted authorities."

_May 29th_.--Last night we encamped under a group of oaks, and we "knew
by the smoke that so gracefully curled" over other parts of the valley,
that there were several other camps pitched at no great distance. When
we started in the morning we fell in with a few parties moving towards
the Sacramento. A ride of a few hours brought us to the borders of that
noble river, which was here about a couple of hundred yards wide, and
we immediately made preparations for crossing it. After several mishaps
and delays, we at length succeeded in getting over in a launch. The
new town of Suttersville, numbering some ten or twelve houses, is laid
out within half a mile of the banks of the river. From here a brisk
ride over a level plain--parcelled out into fields of wheat and
pasture-grounds, dotted with hundreds upon hundreds of grazing cattle,
and here and there a loitering team--brought us to Sutter's Fort, an
extensive block of building planted on the top of a small hill which
skirts a creek running into the Americanos, near its junction with the
Rio Sacramento. A schooner and some small craft were beating up the
Americanos River towards the Fort, and alongside the landing-place
several launches were lying unshipping cargoes. As we made the spot,
we soon saw that here all was bustle and activity. Boatmen were
shouting and swearing; wagoners were whistling and hallooing and
cracking their whips at their straining horses, as these toiled along
with heavily-laden wagons to the different stores within the building;
groups of horsemen were riding to and fro, and crowds of people were
moving about on foot. It was evident that the gold mania increased in
force as we approached the now eagerly longed for El Dorado.

On inquiring of a squaw we met at the entrance of the Fort, and who
knew just sufficient English to understand our question, she pointed
out to us as Captain Sutter a very tall good-looking sort of personage,
wearing a straw hat and loose coat and trousers of striped duck, but
with features as unlike those of a Yankee as can well be imagined. I at
once introduced myself, and handed him the letter which Lieutenant
Sherman had given me. After reading it, the Captain informed me that he
was happy enough to see me, although he feared, from the great change
which a few weeks had made in this part of the world, that he could
offer me but indifferent hospitality. Every store and shed was being
crammed with bales of goods, barrels of flour, and a thousand other
things for which a demand has suddenly sprung up. The Captain's own
house was indeed just like an hotel crowded with many more visitors
than it could accommodate; still no one who came there, so the Captain
was good enough to say, recommended by his friend Sherman, should have
other than an hospitable reception. All that he could do, however, he
said, would be to place one sleeping-room at my service for myself and
such of my friends as I liked to share it with; and, leaving me to
arrange the matter with them, he went away, promising to return and
show us our quarters.

I told my companions of the Captain's offer, but they were satisfied to
rough it out of doors again to-night, and it was arranged that only
Bradley and myself should accept the sleeping accommodation offered by
Captain Sutter, as a good night's rest in comfortable quarters would be
more beneficial to our friend with the injured limb, than an outdoor
nap with a single blanket for a bed and a saddle for a pillow.

Two of our horses having cast their shoes, Malcolm and José walked them
round to the blacksmith's shop, where, after their losses were
repaired, a stock of shoes, nails, etc., were to be laid in for future
contingencies. McPhail and our Spanish friend undertook at the same
time to purchase a ten days' supply of provisions for us, and Bradley
agreed to look about the Fort and see if he could meet with another
servant. In this errand, I am sorry to say, he was not successful.

While these several commissions were executing, the Captain returned
and walked with me through the Fort. On our way he pointed out the
guard-house, the Indian soldiers attached to which had deserted to the
mines almost to a man; the woollen factory, with some thirty women
still at work; the distillery house, where the famous pisco is made;
and the blacksmiths' and wheelwrights' shops, with more work before
them than the few mechanics left will be able to get through in a
month. Yet all these men talked of starting off to the diggings in a
day or two. The Captain told me he had only been able to keep them by
greatly increased pay, and by an almost unlimited allowance of pisco
and whisky.

It was not easy to pick our way through the crowds of strange people
who were moving backwards and forwards in every direction. Carts were
passing to and fro; groups of Indians squatting on their haunches were
chattering together, and displaying to one another the flaring red and
yellow handkerchiefs, the scarlet blankets, and muskets of the most
worthless Brummagem make, for which they had been exchanging their bits
of gold, while their squaws looked on with the most perfect
indifference. I saw one chief, who had gone for thirty years with no
other covering than a rag to hide his nakedness, endeavouring to thrust
his legs into a pair of sailor's canvas trousers with very indifferent

Inside the stores the bustle and noise were oven greater. Some
half-a-dozen sharp-visaged Yankees, in straw hats and loose frocks,
were driving hard bargains for dollars with the crowds of customers who
were continually pouring in to barter a portion of their stock of gold
for coffee and tobacco, breadstuff, brandy, and bowie-knives: of spades
and mattocks there were none to be had. In one corner, at a railed-off
desk, a quick-eyed old man was busily engaged, with weights and scales,
setting his own value on the lumps of golden ore or the bags of dust
which were being handed over to him, and in exchange for which he told
out the estimated quantity of dollars. Those dollars quickly returned
to the original deposit, in payment for goods bought at the other end
of the store.

Among the clouds of smoke puffed forth by some score of pipes and as
many cigarettos, there were to be seen, mingled together, Indians of
various degrees of civilisation, and corresponding styles of dress,
varying from the solitary cloth kilt to the cotton shirts and jackets
and trousers of Russia duck; with groups of trappers from as far up as
Oregon, clad in coats of buffalo hide, and with faces and hands so
brown and wrinkled that one would take their skins to be as tough as
the buffalo's, and almost as indifferent to a lump of lead. "Captain,"
said one of these gentry, shaking a bag of gold as we passed, "I guess
this beats beaver skins--eh, captain?" Another of them, who had a
savage-looking wolf-dog with him, was holding a palaver with an
Indian from the borders of the Klamath Lake; and the most friendly
understanding seemed to exist between them. "You see those two
scoundrels?" said the Captain to me. "They look and talk for all the
world like brothers; but only let either of them get the chance of a
shot at the other after scenting his trail, may be for days, across
those broad hunting-grounds, where every man they meet they look upon
as a foe, and the one that has the quickest eye and the readiest hand
will alone live to see the sun rise next day."

Threading his way amongst the crowd, I was somewhat struck by the
appearance of a Spanish Don of the old school, looking as magnificent
as a very gaudy light blue jacket with silver buttons and scarlet
trimmings, and breeches of crimson velvet, and striped silk sash, and
embroidered deer-skin shoes, and a perfumed cigaretto could make him.
He wore his slouched sombrero jauntily placed on one side, and beneath
it, of course, the everlasting black silk handkerchief, with the
corners dangling over the neck behind. Following him was his servant,
in slouched hat and spangled garters, carrying an old Spanish musket
over his shoulder, and casting somewhat timid looks at the motley
assemblage of Indians and trappers, who every now and then jostled
against him. Beyond these, there were a score or two of go-ahead
Yankees--"gentlemen traders," I suppose they called themselves--with a
few pretty Californian women, who are on their way with their husbands
to the mines. I noticed that the Captain had a word for almost every
one, and that he seemed to be held in very great respect.

Bradley informed me to-night of the origin of a scar which is just
distinguishable in Captain Sutter's face. It seems that the Captain,
who is a Swiss, was one of Charles the Tenth's guards in 1830, and that
a slight cut from the sabre of one of the youths of the Polytechnic
School had left in his visage a standing memorial of the three glorious
days. Indeed the Captain seems generally to have taken the side of the
constituted authorities, as in thy revolution of 1845 he turned out
with all his people for the Mexican Government. However, he was more
fortunate in California than in Paris, as he didn't even get his skin
scratched on this occasion.


  The journey delayed
  A walk to the camp
  A list of wants
  Captain Sutter's account of his first settlement in California
  How he served the Indians, and how he civilised them
  Captain Sutter's wife and daughter
  Ridiculous stories about the discovery of the goldmines
  Joe Smith's prophecy
  An Indian ghost
  Something about a ship-load of rifles.

_May 30th_.--To my great disappointment, our journey was not resumed
to-day. As I had expected, Malcolm had found there was no chance of
getting the farrier's assistance yesterday, and he came to me in the
evening to inform me that he and the rest were going into camp for the
night. Bradley and myself found an ample supper prepared for us; and,
after doing due justice to the eatables, and dressing Bradley's arm, I
shortened the night a couple of hours by jotting down the events of the

This morning I rose early and walked to the camp, which I found, about
half a mile off, under some oaks in a piece of pasture land on the
Captain's farm. I had some difficulty in finding it out, for there were
at least fifteen or twenty tents of one kind or another in the
"bottom." The party were all roused, and breakfast was preparing under
Don Luis's superintendence. It was the general opinion that we must buy
two extra horses to carry our breadstuffs, etc. Malcolm reported that
there were a variety of articles we were still in want of; namely, tin
drinking-cups, some buckets for water, with forks, and other small
articles. He recommended that a couple more axes and a strong saw be
bought at Brannan's, together with hammers, nails, etc., and some of
the Indian baskets which seem to be so common about here.

On my return to the Fort, I fell in with the Captain, rigged out in a
military undress uniform. I chatted with him for half an hour about his
farm, etc. He told me that he was the first white man who settled in
this part of the country; that some ten years ago, when the Mexican
government was full of colonization schemes, the object of which was to
break up the Missions, and to introduce a population antagonistic to
the Californians, he received a grant of land, sixty miles one way and
twelve another, about sixteen or seventeen hundred acres of which he
had now brought under cultivation. "When I came here," said the
Captain, "I knew the country and the Indians well. Eight years ago
these fields were overgrown with long rank grass, with here and there
an oak or pine sprouting out from the midst. You can see what they are
now. As to the Indians, they gave me a little more trouble. I can boast
of fourteen pieces of cannon, though one has little occasion for them
now, except to fire a few salutes on days of rejoicing. Well! most of
these guns came from Ross within the last four years; but when I first
arrived here, I brought with me a couple of howitzers, from which one
night, when these thieves were hemming me in on all sides, I discharged
a shell right over their heads. The mere sight of it, when it bursted,
was sufficient to give them a very respectful notion of the fighting
means at my command. But though this saved me from any direct attack,
it did not secure me against having my horses and cattle stolen on
every convenient occasion." The Captain went on to say, that he at last
brought the Indians pretty well under control; and that, by promises of
articles of clothing, they became willing to work for him. He took good
care to trust very few of them with rifles or powder and shot. Nearly
every brick in the buildings of the Fort, he tells me, was made by the
Indians, who, moreover, dug all the ditches dividing his wheat-fields.
These ditches are very necessary, to prevent the large number of cattle
and horses on the farm from straying among the crops.

On our way to the house, I got the Captain to speak to the head
blacksmith about our horses, after which we went in to breakfast, when
I saw his wife and daughter for the first time. They are both very
ladylike women, and both natives of France. During the meal, I found
Captain Sutter communicative on the subject of the discovery of the
gold mines, which I was very glad of, as I was anxious to learn the
true particulars of the affair, respecting which so many ridiculous
stories had been circulated. One was to the effect that the mines had
been discovered by the Mormons, in accordance with a prophecy made by
the famous Joe Smith. Another tale was, that the Captain had seen the
apparition of an Indian chief, to whom he had given a rifle (the
possession of which he only lived three months to enjoy, having been
trampled down by a buffalo in the neighbourhood of the Rocky Mountains,
on his way with his tribe to make an attack on the Pawnees), when the
ghost in question told the Captain that he would make him very rich,
and begged that, with this promised cash, the Captain would immediately
buy a ship-load of rifles, and present one to every member of his
tribe. Such were the absurd stories circulated. The true account of the
discovery I here give, as near as I can recollect, in the Captain's own


  Captain Sutter's account of the first discovery of the gold
  His surprise at Mr. Marshall's appearance at the Fort
  Mr. Marshall's statement
  The mill-wheel thrown out of gear
  The water channel enlarged
  Mr. Marshall's attention attracted by some glittering substance
  Finds it to be gold
  First imagines it to have been buried there
  Discovers it in great abundance
  Takes horse to Sutter's Fort
  Captain Sutter and Mr. Marshall agree to keep the matter secret
  They start off to the mill
  Proceed up the Fork
  Find the gold in great abundance
  Return to the mill
  The work-people meet them
  A knowing Indian and a sly Kentuckian
  A labouring party organised
  Digging and washing for gold
  The news spreads
  People flock to the diggings
  Arrival of Mormons
  The gold found to be inexhaustible
  Men of science as blind as the rest of the world.

"I was sitting one afternoon," said the Captain, "just after my siesta,
engaged, by-the-by, in writing a letter to a relation of mine at
Lucerne, when I was interrupted by Mr. Marshall--a gentleman with whom
I had frequent business transactions--bursting hurriedly into the room.
From the unusual agitation in his manner I imagined that something
serious had occurred, and, as we involuntarily do in this part of the
world, I at once glanced to see if my rifle was in its proper place.
You should know that the mere appearance of Mr. Marshall at that moment
in the Fort was quite enough to surprise me, as he had but two days
before left the place to make some alterations in a mill for sawing
pine planks, which he had just run up for me, some miles higher up the
Americanos. When he had recovered himself a little, he told me that,
however great my surprise might be at his unexpected reappearance, it
would be much greater when I heard the intelligence he had come to
bring me. 'Intelligence,' he added, 'which, if properly profited by,
would put both of us in possession of unheard-of wealth--millions and
millions of dollars in fact.' I frankly own, when I heard this, that I
thought something had touched Marshall's brain, when suddenly all my
misgivings were put an end to by his flinging on the table a handful of
scales of pure virgin gold. I was fairly thunderstruck, and asked him
to explain what all this meant, when he went on to say, that, according
to my instructions, he had thrown, the mill-wheel out of gear, to let
the whole body of the water in the dam find a passage through the
tail-race, which was previously too narrow to allow the water to run
off in sufficient quantity, whereby the wheel was prevented from
efficiently performing its work. By this alteration the narrow channel
was considerably enlarged, and a mass of sand and gravel carried off by
the force of the torrent. Early in the morning after this took place,
he (Mr. Marshall) was walking along the left bank of the stream, when
he perceived something which he at first took for a piece of opal--a
clear transparent stone very common here--glittering on one of the
spots laid bare by the sudden crumbling away of the bank. He paid no
attention to this; but while he was giving directions to the workmen,
having observed several similar glittering fragments, his curiosity was
so far excited, that he stooped down and picked one of them up. 'Do you
know,' said Mr. Marshall to me, 'I positively debated within myself two
or three times whether I should take the trouble to bend my back to
pick up one of the pieces, and had decided on not doing so, when,
further on, another glittering morsel caught my eye--the largest of the
pieces now before you. I condescended to pick it up, and to my
astonishment found that it was a thin scale of what appears to be pure
gold.' He then gathered some twenty or thirty similar pieces, which on
examination convinced him that his suppositions were right. His first
impression was, that this gold had been lost or buried there by some
early Indian tribe--perhaps some of those mysterious inhabitants of the
west, of whom we have no account, but who dwelt on this continent
centuries ago, and built those cities and temples, the ruins of which
are scattered about these solitary wilds. On proceeding, however, to
examine the neighbouring soil, he discovered that it was more or less
auriferous. This at once decided him. He mounted his horse, and rode
down to me as fast as it would carry him with the news.

"At the conclusion of Mr. Marshall's account," continued Captain
Sutter, "and when I had convinced myself, from the specimens he had
brought with him, that it was not exaggerated, I felt as much excited
as himself. I eagerly inquired if he had shown the gold to the
work-people at the mill, and was glad to hear that he had not spoken to
a single person about it. We agreed," said the Captain, smiling, "not
to mention the circumstance to any one, and arranged to set off early
the next day for the mill. On our arrival, just before sundown, we
poked the sand about in various places, and before long succeeded in
collecting between us more than an ounce of gold, mixed up with a good
deal of sand. I stayed at Mr. Marshall's that night, and the next day
we proceeded some little distance up the South Fork, and found that
gold existed along the whole course, not only in the bed of the main
stream, where the water had subsided, but in every little dried-up
creek and ravine. Indeed I think it is more plentiful in these latter
places, for I myself, with nothing more than a small knife, picked out
from a dry gorge, a little way up the mountain, a solid lump of gold
which weighed nearly an ounce and a half.

"On our return to the mill, we were astonished by the work-people
coming up to us in a body, and showing us small flakes of gold similar
to those we had ourselves procured. Marshall tried to laugh the matter
off with them, and to persuade them that what they had found was only
some shining mineral of trifling value; but one of the Indians, who had
worked at the gold mine in the neighbourhood of La Paz, in Lower
California, cried out, 'Oro! oro!' We were disappointed enough at this
discovery, and supposed that the work-people had been watching our
movements, although we thought we had taken every precaution against
being observed by them. I heard afterwards, that one of them, a sly
Kentuckian, had dogged us about, and that, looking on the ground to see
if he could discover what we were in search of, he had lighted on some
flakes of gold himself.

"The next day I rode back to the Fort, organised a labouring party, set
the carpenters to work on a few necessary matters, and the next day
accompanied them to a point of the Fork, where they encamped for the
night. By the following morning I had a party of fifty Indians fairly
at work. The way we first managed was to shovel the soil into small
buckets, or into some of our famous Indian baskets; then wash all the
light earth out, and pick away the stones; after this, we dried the
sand on pieces of canvas, and with long reeds blew away all but the
gold. I have now some rude machines in use, and upwards of one hundred
men employed, chiefly Indians, who are well fed, and who are allowed
whisky three times a-day.

"The report soon spread. Some of the gold was sent to San Francisco,
and crowds of people flocked to the diggings. Added to this, a large
emigrant party of Mormons entered California across the Rocky
Mountains, just as the affair was first made known. They halted at
once, and set to work on a spot some thirty miles from here, where a
few of them still remain. When I was last up at the diggings, there
were full eight hundred men at work, at one place and another, with
perhaps something like three hundred more passing backwards and
forwards between here and the mines. I at first imagined the gold
would soon be exhausted by such crowds of seekers, but subsequent
observations have convinced me that it will take many years to bring
about such a result, even with ten times the present number of people

"What surprises me," continued the Captain, "is that this country
should have been visited by so many scientific men, and that not one of
them should have ever stumbled upon these treasures; that scores of
keen-eyed trappers should have crossed this valley in every direction,
and tribes of Indians have dwelt in it for centuries, and yet that this
gold should have never been discovered. I myself have passed the very
spot above a hundred times during the last ten years, but was just as
blind as the rest of them, so I must not wonder at the discovery not
having been made earlier."

While the Captain was proceeding with his narrative, I must confess that
I felt so excited on the subject as to wish to start off immediately
on our journey. When he had finished, I walked off to see after the
horses, but, although they were ready, the additional shoes we wanted
to carry with us would not be furnished for several hours; it was late
in the afternoon before we got them. We bought two horses of Captain
Sutter (very strong animals), and McPhail managed to engage a big lad
as a servant--a rough-looking fellow, who appears to have deserted from
some ship, and worked his way up here. All things considered, it was
agreed that we should remain here another night, and resume our march
as early as we could in the morning.


  The Author and his friends leave Sutter's Fort
  Tents in the bottom
  A caravan in motion
  Green hills and valleys
  Indian villages
  Californian pack-Horses
  A sailor on horseback
  Lunch at noon
  A troublesome beast
  Sierra Nevada
  First view of the lower mines
  How the gold is dug and washed
  The "cradle"
  The diggers and their stock of gold
  A store in course of construction
  The tent is pitched
  The golden itch
  First attempts at gold-finding
  A hole in the saucepan
  Sound asleep.

_Sunday, June 4th_.--The morning we left the Fort the scene was one of
great excitement. Down in the bottom some twenty tents were pitched,
outside which big fires were smoking; and, while breakfast was being
prepared, the men of each company were busily engaged in saddling their
horses and arranging their baggage; several wagons and teams were
already in motion, following the road along the windings of the river.
The tents were soon all struck, the smoke from the fires was dying
away, and a perfect caravan was moving along in the direction of the
now no longer ridiculed El Dorado.

We pushed along, as may be believed, with the utmost impatience,
conjuring up the most flattering visions of our probable success as
gold-hunters. The track lay through a spacious grassy valley, with the
Americanos River winding along it, on our left hand. At first, the
stream was nearly two miles distant from the track of our caravan, but
as we advanced we approached its banks more nearly. The country was
pleasant, consisting of a succession of small hills and valleys,
diversified here and there by groves of tall oak trees. We passed
several wretched Indian villages--clusters of filthy smoky hovels, and
now and then caught sight of the river and the line of oak trees which
bordered it. We managed tolerably well with our horses, but it requires
great experience to be able to fasten securely the loads of provisions
and stores which they carry on their backs. Flour, of course, formed
the principal article of our commissariat. This was packed up in sacks,
which were again enclosed in long pockets, made of hides, and called
"parfleshes," the use of which is to defend the canvas of the sacking
from being torn by branches of fern and underwood. The sacks we secured
on strong pack-saddles, between which and the back of the horse were
some thick soft cloths. All our baggage-horses were furnished with
trail ropes, which were allowed to drag on the ground after the horse,
for the purpose of enabling us to catch him more readily. Besides the
animals we rode, we had seven horses, for the conveyance of our
provisions, tents, etc. The two we bought from Captain Sutter, though
strong, were skittish, and gave us much trouble, for our newly engaged
servant, whose name is James Horry, knew more about harpooning and
flenching whales than about the management of horses. He was certainly
willing and did his best, but he occasioned some mirth during the day's
march by his extreme awkwardness on horseback. However, to do him
justice, he bore the numerous falls which he came in for with great
philosophy, starting up again every time he was "grassed," and laughing
as loudly as the rest.

At noon we halted to refresh by the side of a small stream of crystal
purity. While making preparations for our hurried meal, we had all our
eyes about us for gold in the channel of the rivulet, but saw none. We
had not yet reached the favoured spot. After some difficulty in
catching the pack-horses, one of the perverse brutes having taken it
into its head to march up to its belly in the stream, where he
floundered about for some time, enjoying the coolness of the water, we
set forward, determined to reach the lower diggings by sundown. As we
neared the spot the ground gradually became more broken and heavily
timbered with oak and pine, while in the distance, and separated from
us by deep forests of these trees, might be seen a long ridge of
snow-capped mountains--the lofty Sierra Nevada. But we were too anxious
to reach the gold to care much about the more unprofitable beauties of
Nature, and accordingly urged our horses to the quickest speed they
could put forth. We were now travelling along the river's banks, and
towards evening came in sight of the lower mines, here called the
"Mormon" diggings, which occupy a surface of two or three miles along
the river. There were something like forty tents scattered up the hill
sides, occupied mostly by Americans, some of whom had brought their
families with them. Although it was near sundown, everybody was in full
occupation. At every few yards there were men, with their naked arms,
busily employed in washing out the golden flakes and dust from
spadefuls of the auriferous soil. Others were first passing it through
sieves, many of them freshly made with intertwisted willow branches, to
get rid of the coarse stones, and then washing the lumps of soil in
pots placed beneath the surface of the water, the contents of the
vessel being kept continually stirred by the hand until the lighter
particles of earth or gravel were carried away.

A great number of the settlers, however, were engaged in making what
are here called "cradles;" partly, I suppose, from their shape, and
partly from the rocking motion to which they are subjected. These
machines were being roughly constructed of dealboards. Later in the
day I watched one of them at work, and had the process explained to
me. Four men were employed at it. The first shovelled up the earth;
another carried it to the cradle, and dashed it down on a grating or
sieve--placed horizontally at the head of the machine--the wires of
which, being close together, only allowed the smaller particles of
earth and sand to fall through; the third man rocked the cradle--I must
confess I never saw one so perseveringly rocked at home; while the
fourth kept flinging water upon the mass of earth inside. The result of
this fourfold process is, that the lighter earth is gradually carried
off by the action of the water, and a sort of thick black sediment of
sand is left at the bottom of the cradle. This was afterwards scooped
out, and put aside to be carefully dried in the sun to-morrow morning.

I can hardly describe the effect this sight produced upon our party.
It seemed as if the fabled treasure of the Arabian Nights had been
suddenly realised before us. We all shook hands, and swore to preserve
good faith with each other, and to work hard for the common good. The
gold-finders told us that some of them frequently got as much as fifty
dollars a-day. As we rode from camp to camp, and saw the hoards of
gold--some of it in flakes, but the greater part in a coarse sort of
dust--which these people had amassed during the last few weeks, we felt
in a perfect fluster of excitement at the sight of the wealth around
us. One man showed us four hundred ounces of pure gold dust which he
had washed from the dirt in a tin pan, and which he valued at fourteen
dollars an ounce.

As may be imagined, the whole scene was one well calculated to take a
strong hold upon the imagination. The eminences, rising gradually from
the river's banks, were dotted with white canvas tents, mingled with
the more sombre-looking huts, constructed with once green but now
withered branches. A few hundred yards from the river lay a large heap
of planks and framings, which I was told were intended for constructing
a store; the owner of which, a sallow Yankee, with a large pluffy
cigaretto in his mouth, was labouring away in his shirt sleeves.

Bewildered and excited by the novelty of the scene, we were in haste to
pitch our camp, and soon fixed upon a location. This was by the side of
a dried-up water-course, through which, in the wet season, a small
rivulet joined the larger stream; we did not, however, immediately set
to work to make the necessary arrangements for the night. Our fingers
were positively itching for the gold, and in less than half an hour
after our arrival, the pack-horse which carried the shovels, scoops,
and pans, had been released of his burden, and all our party were as
busily employed as the rest. As for myself, armed with a large scoop or
trowel, and a shallow tin pail, I leapt into the bed of the rivulet, at
a spot where I perceived no trace of the gravel and earth having been
artificially disturbed. Near me was a small clear pool, which served
for washing the gold. Some of our party set to work within a short
distance of me, while others tried their fortune along the banks of the
Americanos, digging up the shingle which lay at the very brink of the
stream. I shall not soon forget the feeling with which I first plunged
my scoop into the soil beneath me. Half filling my tin pail with the
earth and shingle, I carried it to the pool, and placing it beneath the
surface of the water, I began to stir it with my hand, as I had
observed the other diggers do. Of course I was not very expert at
first, and I dare say I flung out a good deal of the valuable metal.
However, I soon perceived that the earth was crumbling away, and was
being carried by the agitation of the water into the pool, which
speedily became turbid, while the sandy sediment of which I had heard
remained at the bottom of the pail. Carefully draining the water away,
I deposited the sand in one of the small close-woven Indian baskets we
had brought with us, with the intention of drying it at the camp fire,
there not being sufficient time before nightfall to allow the moisture
gradually to absorb by the evaporation of the atmosphere.

After working for about half an hour, I retraced my steps with my
basket to the spot where we had tethered the horses, and found the
animals still standing there with their burdens on their backs. Mr.
Malcolm was already there; he had with him about an equal quantity of
the precious black sand; it remained, however, to be seen what
proportion of gold our heaps contained. In a short time Bradley and Don
Luis joined us, both of them in tip-top spirits. "I guess this is the
way we do the trick down in these clearings," said the former, shaking
a bag of golden sand. As for José, Don Luis's Indian servant, he was
devout in his expressions of thanksgiving to the Virgin Mary and the
Great Spirit, whom he would insist upon classifying together, in a most
remarkable and not quite orthodox manner.

We now set to work to get up our tent. Malcolm, in the meantime,
prepared coffee and very under-baked cakes, made of the flour we had
brought with us. His cooking operations were greatly impeded by our
eagerness to dry the sand we had scraped up--a feat in the achievement
of which Bradley was clumsy enough to burn a hole in our very best
saucepan. However, we managed to get the moisture absorbed, and,
shutting our eyes, we commenced blowing away the sand with our mouths,
and shortly after found ourselves the possessors of a few pinch's of
gold. This was encouraging for a beginning. We drunk our coffee in high
spirits, and then, having picketted our horses, made ourselves as snug
as our accommodation would allow, and, being tired out, not only with
the journey and the work, but with excitement and anxiety, slept
soundly till morning.


  Two horses stray away
  How orders were enforced at the diggings
  Sunday work
  Nature of the soil
  Inconveniences even in gold getting
  Dinner and rest
  A strike for higher wages
  A walk through the diggings
  Sleeping and smoking
  Indians and finery
  Californians and Yankee
  Runaway sailors and stray negroes
  A native born Kentuckian
  "That's a fact"
  A chapel at the diggings
  A supper with an appetite.

The morning broke brilliantly, and the first thing we discovered on
rising was, that two of the horses had broken their fastenings during
the night, and strayed. As we could not afford to lose the animals,
José and Horry were despatched lo look after them, and they grumbled
not a little at being thus sent off from the scene of golden operations;
but Bradley, producing a rifle, swore that he would shoot them both
unless they obeyed orders; so, after a little altercation, away they

Breakfast was soon despatched, and the question as to the day's
operations asked. Don Luis was the only one who, on the score of its
being Sunday, would not go to the diggings. He had no objection to
amuse himself on Sunday, but he would not work. To get over the
difficulty, we agreed to go upon the principle of every man keeping his
own findings, our bonds of unity as a party to extend merely to mutual
protection and defence. Leaving Don Luis, then, smoking in the tent,
we proceeded to work, and found that the great majority of the
gold-finders appeared to entertain our opinions, or at all events to
imitate our practice, as to labouring on the Sunday. I had now leisure
more particularly to remark the nature of the soil in which the gold
was found. The dust is found amid the shingle actually below water, but
the most convenient way of proceeding is to take the soil from that
portion of the bed which has been overflowed but is now dry. It is
principally of a gravelly nature, full of small stones, composed, as
far as I could make out, of a species of jasper and milky quality,
mingled with fragments of slate and splinters of basalt. The general
opinion is, that the gold has been washed down from the hills.

I worked hard, as indeed we all did, the whole morning. The toil is
very severe, the constant stooping pressing, of course, upon the spinal
column, whilst the constant immersion of the hands in water causes the
skin to excoriate and become exceedingly painful. But these
inconveniences are slight when compared to the great gain by which one
is recompensed for them.

At twelve o'clock, our usual primitive dinner hour, we met at the tents,
tolerably well tired with our exertions. No dinner, however, was
prepared, both José and Horry being still absent in pursuit of the
strayed horses. We had, therefore, to resort to some of our jerked
beef, which, with biscuits and coffee, formed our fare. After dinner,
we determined to rest until the next day. The fact is, that the human
frame will not stand, and was never intended to stand, a course of
incessant toil; indeed, I believe that in civilized--that is to say,
in industrious--communities, the Sabbath, bringing round as it does a
stated remission from labour, is an institution physically necessary.

We therefore passed some time in conversation, which was interrupted by
the arrival of José and Horry with the strayed horses. Horry demanded
an immediate increase of wages, threatening to leave us and set to work
on his own account if we refused. Bradley tried to talk big and bully
him, but in vain. José had a sort of fear of Don Luis--who in return
looked on his servant as his slave--so he said nothing. We could see,
however, that they had evidently been in communication with the diggers
around, and so we gave in. Later in the afternoon I started with
Malcolm and McPhail for a walk through the diggings. We found
comparatively a small proportion of the people who had commenced work
in the morning still at their pans. Numbers were lying asleep under the
trees, or in the shade of their tents and wagons. Others sat smoking
and chatting in circles upon the grass, mending their clothes or
performing other little domestic duties at the same time. It was really
a motley scene. Indians strutted by in all the pride of gaudy calico,
the manners of the savage concealed beneath the dress of the civilized
man. Muscular sun-burnt fellows, whose fine forms and swarthy faces
pronounced that Spanish blood ran through their veins, gossiped away
with sallow hatchet-faced Yankees, smart men at a bargain, and always
on the lookout for squalls. Here, and there one spied out the flannel
shirt and coarse canvas trousers of a seaman--a runaway, in all
probability, from a South Sea whaler; while one or two stray negroes
chattered with all the volubility of their race, shaking their woolly
heads and showing their white teeth. I got into conversation with one
tall American; he was a native-born Kentuckian, and full of the bantam
sort of consequence of his race. He predicted wonderful things from the
discovery of the mineral treasures of California, observing that it
would make a monetary revolution all over the world, and that nothing
similar, at least to so great an extent, was ever known in history.
"Look around! for, stranger," said he to me, "I guess you don't realise
such a scene every day, and that's a fact. There's gold to be had for
the picking of it up, and by all who choose to come and work. I reckon
old John Bull will scrunch up his fingers in his empty pockets when he
comes to hear of it. It's a most everlasting wonderful thing, and
that's a fact, that beats Joe Dunkin's goose-pie and apple sarse."

Farther on we came upon a tremendous-looking tent, formed by two or
three tents being flung into one, which, on examination, we found was
doing duty as a chapel. A missionary, from one of the New England
States, as I hear, was holding forth to a pretty large congregation.
The place was very hot and chokey, and I only stayed long enough to
hear that the discourse abounded in the cloudy metaphors and vague
technicalities of Calvinistic theology.

The remainder of the afternoon I have been devoting to writing my
journal, which I here break off to commence a hearty good supper, in
revenge for the scrambling sort of dinner one has had to-day. The beef
doesn't look roasted as they would put it on the table at the
Clarendon, or at Astor House even; but none of those who sit down to
the Clarendon table, at any rate, have such an appetite as I now have,
far away beyond care and civilisation, in the gold-gathering region of


  Digging and washing, with a few reflections
  A cradle in contemplation
  Scales to sell, but none to lend
  Stack of gold weighed
  More arrivals
  Two newcomers
  Mr. Biggs and Mr. Lacosse
  Good order prevails at the mines
  Timber bought for the cradles
  The cradles made
  The cradles worked
  The result of the first day's trial.

_June 5th_.--We have laboured hard all day, digging and washing, and
with good success. I begin to hope now that I have really laid the
foundation of a fortune, and I thank God for it. I have been kicked
tolerably well about the world, and the proverb, that a "rolling stone
gathers no moss," has, I am sure, been abundantly proved by my case.
Now, however, I have a grand chance, and I am resolved that all that
industry and perseverance can do shall be done to improve it.

Before starling for work this morning, it was agreed that José should
act as cook for the day; it being stipulated that he was to have the
afternoon to himself for digging. Horry was left in charge of the
horses. I worked hard, keeping near Bradley, and conversing with him as
I shovelled the gravel into the pail, and stirred it about in the clear
pools. We had very fair success, but still we could not but think that
this was a poor way of proceeding; besides, I didn't like the
back-breaking work of stooping all day. I therefore proposed that we
should endeavour to knock up a cradle. The expense for wood would
certainly be great, but it would be better to incur it than keep to the
present rude and toilsome plan of operation.

We proposed the plan to our comrades at dinner-time, and it was, on the
whole, well received. Malcolm and McPhail entered into the notion, and
we determined to try whether we could not put forth sufficient
carpentering ability to carry it out. The next day was fixed upon for
commencing the work.

After dinner we returned to our shovels and pails. In the evening we
were anxious to know how much gold we had realised by our labours up to
the present time; and, accordingly, I set off to borrow a pair of
scales. After entering several tents in vain, I was directed to the
Yankee who had the materials for a store, and whose name was Hiram
Ensloe. He had several pairs to sell, but none to lend. I asked his
prices, and now had, for the first time, a real example of the effects
of plenty of gold and scarcity of goods. For a small pair of ordinary
brass scales, with a set of troy weights, I paid, on behalf of the
party, fifteen dollars, the seller consoling me by the information that
in his opinion, if the gold-hunters continued to pour in for a
fortnight longer, I would not have got the article for three times the

Furnished with my purchase, I returned to the tent, and the stock of
gold dust realised by each man was weighed, and computed at the current
rate in which the mercantile transactions of this little colony are
reckoned--namely, fourteen dollars each ounce of gold dust. We found
that McPhail and Malcolm had been, upon the whole, the most successful,
each having obtained nearly two ounces of pure gold dust, valued at
twenty-eight dollars. I myself had about twenty-three dollars' worth,
and Bradley had twenty-five dollars' worth. An amount which,
considerable though it was, we hope greatly to increase as soon as we
get our cradle into operation.

During the day, there were numerous arrivals from Sutter's Fort; and in
my opinion, these diggings will soon be overcrowded. Two of the
new-comers were known to Bradley--one, a Mr. Biggs, a shipping agent
from San Francisco; the other, Mr. Lacosse, a French Canadian, who has
recently settled in California. They accepted our offer for them to
join our party. If this influx of people continues, I think the Yankee
with the store will do better than any one; and keeping a shanty will
be a far more profitable speculation than handling a shovel or working
a cradle. What surprises me is, that in this remote spot, so distant
from anything that can be called Law, so much tranquillity prevails
under the circumstances. One hears of no deeds of violence, or even
dishonesty. In fact, theft would hardly pay. The risk would be more
than the advantage; for if any one was detected plundering, he would
soon have a rifle-bullet put through him. One thing in favour of good
order is, that here there is no unequal distribution of property--no
favoured classes. Every man who has a spade or a trowel, and hands to
use them, is upon an equality, and can make a fortune with a rapidity
hitherto almost unknown in the history of the world.

_Sunday, June 11th_.--Nearly a week has elapsed since I last opened my
diary. On Tuesday, we set to work upon our cradle. We resolved upon the
construction of two; and, for this purpose, went down to the store in a
body, to see about the boards. We found the timber extravagantly dear,
being asked forty dollars a-hundred. After some bargaining, we obtained
sufficient for our purpose, at the rate of thirty-five dollars.

The next question was, as to whether we should hire a carpenter. We
were told there were one or two in the diggings who might be hired,
though at a very extravagant rate. Accordingly, Bradley and I proceeded
to see one of these gentlemen, and found him washing away with a hollow
log and a willow-branch sieve. He offered to help us at the rate of
thirty-five dollars a-day, we finding provisions and tools, and could
not be brought to charge less. We thought this by far too extravagant,
and left him, determined to undertake the work ourselves. Meantime,
Horry had brought down two of our horses with him to the store. We
loaded them immediately with boards, and returned to our tent.

After breakfast, which consisted of coffee without milk, flour cakes,
and strips of dried beef, roasted on the embers, we set to work. We had
a sufficient number of axes and a good stout saw, one large plane, and
a few strong chisels, with plenty of nails. As may be expected, we
proved to be very awkward carpenters. Mr. Lacosse was perhaps the
handiest, and Malcolm not much inferior to him, until the latter
unfortunately received a severe cut with a chisel, extending in a
transverse line along the joint of the forefinger of the left hand. I
strapped up the wound, but the rough work soon tore away the diaculum:
no bad consequences, however, ensued. The wound, in spite of the hard
treatment which it received, closed and healed by the first
intention--proving the healthy habit of body engendered by temperance
and constant exercise in the open air.

In building our cradles, or "gold canoes," as the Indians called them,
we found that to mortice the planks into each other was a feat of
carpentering far above our skill, particularly as we had no mortice
chisels. We were therefore obliged to adopt the ruder experiment of
making the boards overlap each other by about an inch, nailing them
firmly together in that position. As, however, the inequality of
surface at the bottom of the cradle, produced by the mode of building,
would have materially impeded our operations, we strained some pieces
of tarred canvas, which we fortunately possessed amongst our tent
cloths, over the bottoms, thus rendering the surface even, and suited
to our purpose. By the time we had got so far with our undertaking, we
fell sufficiently tired to give over work for the night. We had
laboured unceasingly at them, pausing only to swallow a hasty meal, and
stuck by our hammers and chisels till dusk. We were up early the next
morning, and toiled away to get the cradles completed, as we were
constantly seeing proofs of the great advantages of these machines. We
fixed a wicker sieve over the head, by means of a couple of transverse
bars, and then set about to construct the working Apparatus, which we
had all along feared would put our mechanical skill to rather a severe
test; but we found it easier than we had anticipated, and before
sundown the rockers were fixed on both cradles, which, to all intents
and purposes, were now ready for use. The work was rather rough, but it
was firm and strong. So fearful were we first of all that our cradles
might be removed or tampered with in the night, that I jocularly
proposed two of us should give up the shelter of the tent, and, like
pretty little children, sleep in our cradles till the morning.

The next day we set to work with them with the utmost eagerness, having
first dragged the lumbering machines to a likely spot in the vicinity
of the water. The labour was hard enough, but nothing compared to the
old plan of pot-washing, while it saved the hands from the injury
inflicted by continual dabbling in sand and water. We took the
different departments of labour by turns, and found that the change, by
bringing into play different sets of muscles, greatly relieved us, and
enabled us to keep the stones rolling with great energy. In the
evening, with the help of our newly purchased scales, we tested our
gains. The cradle which was worked by Don Luis, Malcolm, and myself,
for it was so near the water that three hands were sufficient, had
realised six ounces of gold dust; the other, attended to by Bradley,
McPhail, Biggs, and Lacosse, had nearly as much. During the day there
was another considerable influx of people to the diggings; the banks of
the river are therefore getting more and more crowded, and we hear that
the price of every article of subsistence is rising in the same


  The proceedings of the week
  Visit from Mr. Larkin
  What will the Government do?
  What "enough" is
  San Francisco
  Houses and ships deserted
  A captain and ship without a crew
  A ship without a crew or captain
  Wages, newspapers, and shovels
  The Attorney-General to the King of the Sandwich Islands
  Something for the lawyers
  Gold-diggers by moonlight
  Mr. Larkin's departure
  Provisions run short
  Seek a supply at Salter's
  Good luck
  Diggings' law
  Provisions arrive
  A wagon wanted
  Arrival of Californians and their families
  Gay dresses and coquettish manners
  El Jarabe
  The waltz
  Lookers-on and dancers
  Coffee, and something stronger
  No more Sunday work
  José and the saints
  The Virgin Mary cheated
  Contemplated migration.

_June 18th, Sunday_.--The proceedings of the past week have been but a
repetition of those of the week previous, the amount of gold dust
realised being rather greater, and amounting on an average to very
nearly sixteen ounces per day. Cradles are now in use everywhere around
us; nevertheless, the numbers who stand in the water washing with tin
or wooden bowls do not appear to be diminished.

On the evening of Thursday we were visited by a gentleman from
Monterey, a Mr. Larkin, who, I believe, is connected with the States
Government, and who has arrived in the diggings with the view of making
a report to the authorities at Washington. Don Luis immediately
recognised him, and invited him to spend the evening and night in our
tent. We were very anxious to hear the news from the coast, and Mr.
Larkin in turn was very anxious to pick up all the information he could
get respecting the diggings. Don Luis says he is a man of large
fortune, so his tour is purely one of inspection, and not with any eye
to business. We made him as comfortable as we could; Lacosse exerted
himself in the manufacture of the coffee in honour of our guest, and we
had several hours of interesting conversation.

Mr. Larkin said he had no idea what steps the Government at Washington
would take with reference to the "placer." "It can't matter much to
you, gentlemen," observed he, "for although there can be no doubt of
its being upon public territory, still, before any instructions can be
received from Washington, the great body of the diggers and washers
here will be enriched to their heart's content, if a man ever does feel
contented with any amount of wealth."--"Your observation," exclaimed
Malcolm, "puts me in mind of a story which my father used to tell of a
farmer, a friend of his, who once took his rent, the odd money short,
to an old miserly landlord rolling in wealth. He was asked by him why
he had not brought the full amount. 'Why,' replied the farmer, 'I
thought you had enough.'--'Enough!' said the miser; 'do you know what
_enough_ is? I'll tell you--Enough is _something more_ than a man

Mr. Larkin then spoke of the effects of the "mineral yellow fever," as
he called it, having been most extraordinary in San Francisco. When he
left that town, he said more than two-thirds of the houses were
deserted. We were not surprised at this, as we knew the people who were
continually arriving here must have come from somewhere. Nearly all the
ships in the harbour too had lost a great part of their crews by
desertion. A barque called the Amity had only six men left when Mr.
Larkin started from the port. On board another ship from the Sandwich
Islands the captain was left actually and literally alone. On the road
Mr. Larkin fell in with another captain who had started off for the
gold region with every man of his crew, leaving his ship unprotected in
port. On Mr. Larkin remonstrating with him on the flagrancy of his
conduct, he merely replied, "Oh, I warrant me her cables and anchors
are strong enough to last till we get back." Mr. Larkin told us what we
were fully prepared to hear, namely, that wages and salaries of all
classes have risen immensely; clerks, he said, were getting from nine
hundred to twelve hundred dollars, instead of from four hundred to five
hundred and fifty dollars, with their board. Both the _Star_ and
_Californian_ newspapers, he said, had stopped. Thinking to surprise
us, he told us that shovels which used to be one dollar were selling in
San Francisco, when he left, for five and six dollars each. Bradley
replied that he thought this was a very reasonable figure, for he had
heard thirty dollars offered for a spade that very day.

"Do you know, by-the-by," said Mr. Larkin, "who I saw here to-day, up
to his knees in water, washing away in a tin pan? Why, a lawyer who was
the Attorney-General to the King of the Sandwich Islands, not eighteen
months ago."--"I guess," said Bradley, "he finds gold-washing more
profitable than Sandwich Island law; but he's not the only one of his
brethren that is of much the same spirit; there's lots of lawyers in
these diggings. Well! they are better employed now than ever they were
in their lives. They're money-getting rascals all the world over; but
here they do have to _work_ for it, that's one comfort." Before turning
in, we took a stroll through the camp with Mr. Larkin. It was a bright
moonlight night, and some of the more eager diggers were still at work.
These were the new-comers, probably, who were too much excited to sleep
without trying their hands at washing the golden gravel. Mr. Larkin
left us the following day.

_June 23rd, Friday_.--The last entry in my diary seems to have been
written last Sunday. Next day we began to find the provisions running
short. A consultation was accordingly held upon the subject. It was
quite out of the question to buy provisions in the diggings. Work as
one might, the day's living of any man with a respectable appetite--and
one seems always to feel hungry here--would pretty well absorb the
day's labour. We therefore determined to dispatch Bradley and José back
to Sutter's Fort for a supply, it being stipulated that Bradley should
share in the gold we might find during their absence. This arrangement
being duly concluded, they started off the following morning on
horseback, driving before them the two beasts we purchased at Sutter's.
We instructed Bradley, if possible, to buy a light wagon, in which to
store the provisions he was to bring back. The two extra horses would
be able to draw it, and such a vehicle would be useful in many
respects. He took with him two hundred and fifty dollars' worth of
gold, so as to be in sufficient funds, in case the sum demanded should
be an over-exorbitant one.

They departed on Tuesday, and we continued our labours. Towards the
afternoon of that day, I had a piece of great good luck. I was digging
up the earth to throw into the cradle, when I turned up a lump of ore
about the size of a small walnut, which I knew at once was a piece of
gold. It weighed two ounces and three-quarters. This, by the law of the
diggings--for it is curious how soon a set of rude regulations sprung
into existence, which everybody seemed to abide by--belonged to myself
and not to the party, it being found before the earth was thrown into
the cradle, and being over half an ounce in weight. Higher up the
Sacramento, and particularly on Bear River, one of its tributaries,
these lumps and flakes were said to be frequently met with; but at the
Mormon digging they are very rare.

On Thursday, about sundown, we were delighted to see the approach of
Bradley with a well-loaded wagon of light but strong construction. He
had just arrived in time, for our larder was almost exhausted. We were
prepared, however, to have stood out another day or two on short
rations, rather than pay the prices asked at the shanties. Bradley gave
us a short account of the expedition. They reached Sutter's in safety,
and found the Fort as busy as though it was tenanted by a swarm of
bees. A sort of hotel had at last been opened, and the landlord was
driving a roaring trade. The emigrants were pouring in, purchasing
shovels, trowels, pans, and whatever else they wanted, at high prices.
Profitable as was the washing business, Bradley said he suspected the
storekeepers at the Fort were clearing more by their branch of the
enterprise than if they had their hands in the pan themselves. He found
Captain Sutter well and hearty, and, the morning after his arrival,
consulted him about a wagon. The Captain, however, had none he felt
inclined to sell, nor was there such a thing to be got in the fort.
After some consideration, however, Captain Sutter said that Mr.
Sinclair, whose rancho was about three miles off, on the opposite bank
of the river, might be able to accommodate him. Accordingly, Bradley
made the best of his way there, but found Mr. Sinclair indisposed to
trade. At length, after a good deal of persuasion, Bradley succeeded in
hiring a wagon and a wagoner of him for a week. The vehicle was got
across the river that night. In the morning he started it off well
laden with provisions, and arrived here without any accident the same
evening. We were now well victualled for a month, but were puzzled how
to stow away our large stock of provisions, and only accomplished it
satisfactorily by giving up the tent for this purpose. This compelled
us all to sleep in the open air; but as yet the nights are very mild
and pleasant.

Among the fresh arrivals at the diggings the native Californians have
begun to appear in tolerable numbers. Many of these people have brought
their wives, who are attended usually by Indian girls. The graceful
Spanish costume of the new-comers adds quite a feature to the busy
scene around. There, working amidst the sallow Yankees, with their wide
white trousers and straw hats, and the half-naked Indian, may be seen
the native-born Californian, with his dusky visage and lustrous black
eye, clad in the universal short tight jacket with its lace adornments,
and velvet breeches, with a silk sash fastened round his waist,
splashing away with his gay deerskin botas in the mudded water. The
appearance of the women is graceful and coquettish. Their petticoats,
short enough, to display in most instances a well-turned ankle, are
richly laced and embroidered, and striped and flounced with gaudy
colours, of which scarlet seems to have the preference. Their tresses
hang in luxuriant plaits down their backs: and in all the little
accessories of dress, such as ear-rings, necklaces, etc., the costume
is very rich. Its distinguishing, feature, however, is the reboso, a
sort of scarf, generally made of cotton, which answers to the mantilla
of Old Spain. It is worn in many different and very graceful
fashions--sometimes twined round the waist and shoulders; at others,
hanging in pretty festoons about the figure, but always disposed with
that indescribable degree of coquettish grace which Spanish women have
been for ages, allowed to possess in the management of the fan and the
mantilla. Since these arrivals almost every evening a fandango is got
up on the green, before some of the tents. The term fandango, though
originally signifying a peculiar kind of dance, seems to be used here
for an evening's dancing entertainment, in which many different _pas_
are introduced. I was present at a fandango a few nights ago where a
couple of performers were dancing "el jarabe," which seemed to consist
chiefly of a series of monotonous toe and heel movements on the ground.
The motions of the foot were, however, wonderfully rapid, and always in
exact time to the music. But at these entertainments the waltz seems to
be the standing dish. It is danced with numerous very intricate
figures, to which, however, all the Californians appear quite _au
fait_. Men and women alike waltz beautifully, with an easy, graceful,
swinging motion.

It is quite a treat, after a hard day's work, to go at nightfall to one
of these fandangos. The merry notes of the guitar and the violin
announce them to all comers; and a motley enough looking crowd, every
member of which is puffing away at a cigar, forms are applauding circle
round the dancers, who smoke like the rest. One cannot help being
struck by the picturesque costumes and graceful motions of the
performers, who appear to dance not only with their legs, but with all
their hearts and souls. Lacosse is a particular admirer of these
fandangos, and he very frequently takes a part in them himself. During
the interval between the dances, coffee is consumed by the senoras, and
coffee with something, stronger by the senors; so that, as the, night
advances, the merriment gets, if not "fast and furious," at least
animated and imposing.

_25th June, Sunday_.--We have all of us, given over working on Sundays,
as we found the toil on six successive days quite hard enough. Last
week we had rather indifferent success, having realized only nineteen
ounces of gold, barely three ounces a man. The dust is weighed out and
distributed every evening, and each man carries his portion about his
person. José, who has amassed a tolerable quantity by working in his
spare time, is constantly feeling to see whether his stock is safe. He
weighs it two or three times a-day, to ascertain, I suppose, whether it
exhausts itself by insensible perspiration, or other means, and
invokes, by turns, every saint in the calendar--his patron-saint,
Joseph, in particular--and all his old heathenish spirits, to keep his
treasure safe. In accordance with a vow he made before he started from
Monterey, he has set apart one-fourth of his treasure for the Big
Woman, as he calls the Virgin Mary--in contradistinction to the Great
Spirit, I imagine; but I fancy her stock of gold decreases every day,
and that José doesn't play her fair.

We had a great deal of serious conversation this afternoon upon the
propriety of moving farther up the river, and trying some of the higher
washings; for our last week's labour was a terribly poor yield. We
remembered Captain Sutter's account of how Mr. Marshall had first
discovered the gold in the vicinity of his mill, and how plentiful it
seemed to lie there. Besides, the diggings are getting overcrowded; the
consequence of which is, that we have had several of our pans and
baskets stolen. We therefore decided that, if we could sell our cradles
to advantage--and there is some likelihood of this, for there is not a
carpenter left all through these diggings to make others for the
constant new-comers--to move higher up the Fork, and try our fortune at
a less crowded spot. There is one thing that I think I shall regret
leaving myself, and that is, the fandango and the two or three pretty
senoritas one has been in the habit of meeting at it almost every


  The party leave the Mormon diggings
  Cradles sold by auction
  Laughter and biddings
  The wagon sent back
  The route to the saw-mills
  A horse in danger
  A miss at a Koyott
  An antelope hit
  Mr. Marshall
  Venison steaks for supper
  The saw-mills
  Indians at work
  Acorn bread
  Where the gold was
  How it was got
  Gentlemen and horses
  "Yankee Doodle" and the "Star-spangled Banner."

_Sunday, July 2nd_.--Yesterday, in accordance with the resolutions
debated this day week, we left the Mormon diggings, and pursued our
course up the Americans' River. It was on Thursday night that we
adopted the final determination of moving off from our late quarters;
and, accordingly, next day I walked with Bradley and McPhail through
the diggings, to try to find purchasers for our cradles. This was not a
difficult task. We had plenty of offers; and we were so importuned by
some six or eight people, who were anxious to trade with us, that we
decided in a minute on having an auction of them. I was not bold enough
to play the part of auctioneer myself; but Bradley very coolly mounted
on the top of one of the machines, and called upon "gentlemen traders"
for their biddings. This was a capital move. The highest offer we had
previously obtained was one hundred and sixty dollars for the largest
of the two machines; but Bradley succeeded in coaxing the purchasers
on--stopping now and then to expatiate on the mint of gold which, he
guessed, he would warrant it to produce daily; and then calling to
their minds the fact that this was "the identical cradle into which the
lump of gold weighing two ounces and three-quarters--the largest piece
ever found at the Mormon diggings--was about to have been shovelled,
when it was discovered and seized hold of by the fortunate digger--the
gentleman on my right hand--who, as you all know, in accordance with
the admirable laws of these diggings, laid claim to it as his private
property." This produced a roar of laughter; but, what was better, it
produced a roar of biddings, and the cradle was knocked down at one
hundred and ninety-five dollars, payable in gold dust, at the standard
rate of fourteen dollars the ounce, or a discount of ten per cent, if
settled in broad silver pieces. The other cradle fetched us one hundred
and eighty dollars.

For these two cradles, therefore, we got three hundred and seventy-five
dollars' worth of dust. The same night we occupied ourselves in
constructing strong bags, made of rough hides, and well strapped round
the person for the conveyance of the gold dust and scales which we had
already amassed.

On Wednesday morning, before sunrise, we had sent the wagon and wagoner
back to Mr. Sinclair's rancho, accompanied by José, who returned on the
evening of Thursday with the horses.

We found, on starting, that our horses could not carry all the
provisions, and at the same time perform a good day's work. We,
therefore, left some of the more bulky articles under the charge of a
man from San Francisco, known to Bradley, and departed. We made good
progress for a mile or two; and, as we crossed the brow of a hill,
halted a moment to observe the busy aspect of the washings, as they
appeared from a distance. The country, as we ascended the stream,
became hourly more hilly and broken. Its general aspect was grassy, and
the soil appeared fertile. Here and there deep gullies crossed our
path, over which we had great difficulty in urging the horses, heavily
loaded as they were. At one of these ravines, the animal which conveyed
the tent-poles lost his footing, and went scrambling down the edge of
the descent, bearing with him a whole avalanche of gravel and shingles.
Malcolm and Lacosse went after the brute, and succeeded in forcing it
up by a less precipitous path.

At noon we halted and dined. During the afternoon, we observed a sort
of small jackall, of the kind called Koyott, hovering about the line of
march. It only occasionally showed itself amongst the long rank grass
and bushes. Bradley, however, got his rifle ready; but, although he
fired several shots, the animal was too nimble or restless for even the
practised eye and hand of a Yankee rifleman to be certain of his aim.
In a shot at a young antelope which bounded past, however, Bradley was
more successful; and we were rejoiced at the prospect of a supper on
tender venison. In a few minutes he had slung the animal over his
horse's haunches, and we proceeded on our route.

The country became more broken and mountainous as we advanced; and in
approaching the location of the saw-mills, the hills appeared to rise
nearly one thousand feet above the level of the Sacramento. They were
diversified by groves of gigantic pine and oak trees. We were looking
anxiously about for the saw-mills, when we heard the crack of a rifle;
and presently a man in white linen trousers, with his legs defended by
buckskin mocassins, wearing a broad Mexican sombrero, and carrying his
rifle in his hand, approached us. This person turned out to be Mr.
Marshall. He received us kindly, and asked the news from the lower
washings, and also how matters were looking at Sutter's when we passed
through. Mr. Marshall had a gang of fifty Indians employed, and Captain
Sutter had another party of nearly double that number, on the same bank
of the river.

We encamped in a woody bottom, by the side of a small stream, which
joined the main torrent here, and where there was good pasture for the
horses. Mr. Marshall's house was about a mile and a half further up the
river. After a good supper of venison steaks--thanks to Bradley's
rifle--we turned in for the night.

Nest day, Lacosse and McPhail, attended by Horry, and driving two extra
horses, rode down to the Mormon diggings, for the purpose of getting up
the provisions which we had left behind. Meantime, I walked out to
reconnoitre our new quarters. I soon arrived at the mills, and saw the
spot where the discovery of the gold had first been made, by the
torrent laying bare the sides of the mill-race. Here I met Mr. Marshall
again. Of course the operations of the saw-mill had been stopped, for
the workmen were employed in the vicinity, either above or below the
works, digging and washing on their own account. Mr. Marshall paid the
Indians he had at work chiefly in merchandize. I saw a portion of the
gang, the men dressed for the most part in cotton drawers and
mocassins, leaving the upper part of the body naked. They worked with
the same implements as those used in the lower washings. Not far from
the place where most of them were employed, I saw a number of the women
and children pounding acorns in a hollow block of wood with an oblong
stone. Of the acorn flour thus produced they made a sort of dry, hard,
unpalatable bread, which assuredly none but an Indian stomach could

Upon instituting a more particular search into the nature of the
country and our prospects, we found that the places where the gold was
found in the greatest abundance, and in the largest masses, were the
beds of the mountain torrents, now dry, which occasionally descend into
both the forks of the stream. We clambered up some of those precipitous
ravines, and observed, upon several occasions, as we scrambled among
the shingle, shining spangles of gold. The soil was evidently richly
charged; but the great disadvantage was the comparative distance from
water, in the evening our friends arrived from the lower diggings, with
the provisions all safe and sound, and the next day we determined to
set to work.

_July 3rd_.--Selecting a likely place in the heart of a steep mountain
gorge, we transported thither the larger Indian baskets which we had
purchased at Sutter's Fort, and, shovelling the earth into them, passed
poles, cut from the nearest pine tree, through the rope-handles we had
affixed to these baskets. Resting the poles on our shoulders, we
carried the loaded baskets to the brink of the stream, and then set to
work after the old fashion, with our hands in the baskets. Our success
was great, and the day's return shows a decided improvement upon the
Mormon diggings. The soil here is more richly impregnated with gold
than below; but the labour of carrying the earth to the water is
excessive, and I am so tired this evening that I very reluctantly
opened my journal to make this short entry.

_July 4th_.--As we were starting off to the river with our first basket
loads of gravel this morning, Lacosse suddenly remarked that he did not
see why the horses should be living like gentlemen when the gentlemen
were working like horses; and he proposed to use the shoulders of our
nags, instead of our own, for the conveyance of the earth. We all fell
in with this proposal, wondering it had never struck us before, and the
horses were soon fetched from their comfortable quarters among the tall
rank grass, and set to work, with the baskets slung over their backs,
like panniers.

Several new-comers from the Mormon diggings passed us to-day, bound
further up the Fork. In the morning Mr. Marshall paid us a visit, to
know how we were getting on. He had heard from Captain Sutter, who
stated that he thought of starting for the upper or lower washings
himself, as soon as he had gathered in his wheat harvest, which he
hoped to accomplish during the present week. A number of wild ducks
haunt the, river, and especially abound in the grassy and weedy pools
which skirt its edges. This morning we shot some of these, and found
them an agreeable addition to our dinner bill of fare.

The afternoon has been passed among the greater part of the miners here
as a celebration of the anniversary of American Independence. Something
like an out-door feast was got up, and toasts were drunk and songs
sang; "Yankee Doodle," and the "Star-spangled Banner," being the chief
favourites. Bradley made a smart speech: and, contrary to his usual
practice, complimented us Englishmen with a round of pleasant allusions
to the mother country.


  The party again shift their quarters
  The river forded
  Horry in the water
  Mr. Sinclair's party of Indians
  Deserted Indian Villages
  Weber's Creek
  A halt made
  Cradles hollowed out
  A commotion in the camp
  Colonel Mason arrives on a tour of inspection
  His opinions as to what Congress should do
  Military deserters, and what ought to be done with them
  Return of Colonel Manson's party to Sutter's Fort
  Bradley accompanies it with a stock of gold
  How the gold was packed, and what precautions were taken for its

Weber's Creek.--_July 9th_.--A few more days' experience at the
saw-mills convinced us that much time and labour was lost in
consequence of the distance between the digging we worked at and the
water, and we therefore determined to seek a more desirable location.
Ever since we had been at the saw-mills we had heard it constantly
said, that at Weber's Creek the gold was to be found in far greater
abundance; and to Weber's Creek we determined to go. The stream thus
called is a small tributary to the northern fork of the Americans'.

We struck our tents yesterday morning, loaded our horses, and took our
departure. The river, at the fording-place, was broad and rapid, but
shallow; the principal difficulties in the ford arose from the number
of smooth round stones, covered with green rince slime, which formed
the bed of the river, and over which our horses stumbled, with a
violence which threatened to disturb the fastening of their burdens. No
disaster, however, actually occurred, except to poor Horry, whose horse
stumbled over a large boulder, and pitched its luckless rider over its
head into the water, to the undissembled delight of the entire party,
who hailed the poor sailor's discomfiture with loud bursts of laughter.
Horry made the best of his way to the farther bank, without paying any
more attention to his horse, which, however, emerged from the water,
and was on dry land as soon as Horry himself.

We now proceeded along the right bank of the North Fork, and on the
opposite side we caught a glimpse of a party of Indians at work, which
we afterwards learned were that of Mr. Sinclair. In one week this party
had gathered sixteen pounds troy of fine washed gold dust. They worked
hard, were well fed, and had liberal rations of "strong water" daily.
We rested a couple of hours at noon, in a pleasant bottom, heavily
timbered, and afterwards, striking away from the river at an acute
angle, moved leisurely on through a broken country, intersected by many
water-courses, and overgrown with dense clusters of trees.

During our afternoon march we passed several deserted Indian
villages--the round-shaped skeletons of the huts alone remaining to
mark the former settlements. Not a member of the tribe, however, was to
be seen; the beaver may build and the deer pasture hereabouts in peace.
Towards evening we entered the valley drained by the stream called
Weber's Creek. Its appearance was very beautiful, and the stream
descended along a steep rocky bed, foaming round large boulder stones,
and tumbling down low ledges of granite. The grassy slopes of the
valley are cut up in all directions with rivulets, the courses of which
are marked by luxuriant underwood, rank grass, and groves of stunted
oaks. Two or three arbours were to be seen with one or two rude-looking
tents, all with blazing fires before them. We encamped forthwith,
hoping the next day to reach a station which we could make available
for our purpose.

We were early on the move this morning, and soon saw several parties of
threes and fours washing in the bed of the river, or exploring the
mountain gorges with their shovels and mattocks. The weather was
getting oppressively hot; indeed, the further we got from the
Sacramento the hotter did it become. The sea-breeze never penetrates
here to refresh us, and, except when an occasional squall comes
sweeping down from the hills, the air is very oppressive.

We travelled but slowly, still in an hour or so we reached a station,
about fifteen miles as the crow flies, or about twenty by the windings
of the stream, from the point of its junction with the Americanos,
where we determined to try our luck. There was quite a camp here--not
to the same extent as the Mormon diggings, but still the washers were
numerous, and the larger part of them were Indians. Some few worked in
the bed of the river, but the great majority were engaged in the
ravines leading up the mountains. The greatest quantity of gold dust
was found in the former, while the latter yielded the best specimens of
lump and scale gold. We were told that, though the side gullies were
very rich, yet they were more uncertain than the main stream. Lumps of
gold, weighing several ounces, were continually met with, but a morning
was often wasted and nothing found; whereas, if a man stuck to the main
stream, and washed all day long, he was sure of his ounce or couple of
ounces of gold. For these reasons we determined to stand by the river.
Our first business was to see if we could manage to construct a couple
of cradles. At a large store here we met with some pine planks, but the
figure was most exorbitant. Taking a hint from what we had noticed
among the Indians at the saw-mills, we determined to fell a couple of
stout trees, and hollow them out so as to serve our purpose. We
obtained the assistance of a man here, a ship's carpenter, and a most
civil obliging sort of fellow, who gave us a day's help for thirty
dollars. He superintended the felling of the trees, and then put us in
the way of proceeding with the work. We found the toil sufficiently
severe, and began to feel the heat, as I thought, to a far greater
extent than was the case in the lower part of the country.

_July 8th_.--Yesterday we were employed, from early in the morning till
beyond noon, in trimming and hollowing out our cradles. While we were
seated together outside the tent enjoying a few whiffs of our pipes and
cigars, after a famous dinner of smoking-hot steaks and frijoles, we
saw the camp below was all in commotion. People were running out of
their tents, and shouting to their neighbours, and gradually a little
crowd was formed round a group of horsemen, who were just then brought
to a halt. That same feeling of curiosity which gets together a London
crowd to see the lion on the top of Northumberland House wag his tail,
caused us to make our way, with the rest of the gapers, down to
Bennett's shanty, against which all this bustle appeared to be going
on. As soon as Bradley and myself could force our way a little through
the crowd, we recognised in a moment the features of Colonel Mason. The
Colonel, who wore an undress military uniform, had just dismounted from
his horse, with the intention, it appeared, of walking through the
diggings. In a couple of minutes' time my friend Lieutenant Sherman
came up, and we were soon engaged in an animated conversation in
reference to the gold district. The fact was, the Governor was on a
tour of inspection for the purpose of making a report to the Cabinet at
Washington. I took care to thank Lieutenant Sherman for his letter of
introduction to Captain Sutter, and to explain to him the friendly
manner in which Captain Sutter received me. I then joined in the
conversation being carried on with Colonel Mason, who was giving his
opinion as to what the Government would do with respect to the gold
placer. The Colonel was very guarded in his statements. He, however,
hinted that he thought it would be politic for Congress to send over
proper officers and workmen, and at once to establish a mint at some
convenient point on the coast. He fully admitted the difficulties of
keeping men to their engagements under circumstances like the present;
but said some steps must be taken to check the system of desertions on
the part of the troops quartered at Monterey and San Francisco. The pay
of the soldiers, he considered, ought to be increased; but, without
reference to this, he told the gentlemen round him that, as good
citizens, they were bound to lend their utmost endeavours to secure in
safe custody all known deserters--men who had abandoned their flag and
exposed the country to danger, that they might live in a state of
drunkenness at the mines.

Colonel Mason next proceeded to visit Captain Weber's store, whither
Bradley accompanied him. On his return, Bradley informed us that the
Colonel and his escort intended to set off on their way back lo
Sutter's Fort that very afternoon, and they reckoned upon encamping
some few miles below the saw-mills that night. Bradley then took me
aside and asked me whether this would not be a good opportunity to send
our stock of gold dust down to Captain Sutter, who would, for a
reasonable commission, consign it to a merchant at Monterey on our
account. The weight of it was becoming cumbersome, and we were besides
in constant apprehension of some unfortunate accident happening to it.
Now was the time, Bradley urged, to place all we had as yet realised in
security. He knew Colonel Mason--in fact, had served under him, and
undertook, if the remainder of the party were agreeable, to carry the
gold, under the protection of Colonel Mason's escort, to Sutter's Fort.

There was something reasonable in this proposal, and Colonel Mason, on
being appealed to, said he would gladly give Mr. Bradley such
protection as his escort would afford him, and would be, moreover,
happy of his company. Our party was, therefore, summoned together, and
the whole, or nearly so, of the gold dust being produced, it was
weighed in our presence, and found to amount to twenty-seven pounds
eight ounces troy--valued at over four thousand six hundred dollars.
Bradley gave a regular receipt for this to the company, and engaged to
obtain a similar one from Captain Sutter. The gold dust was then packed
in a small portmanteau well secured by numerous cords, and firmly bound
on the pack-saddle of an extra horse, which Bradley was to ride
alongside of, the bridle of the animal being secured to his arm, and
its trail-rope made fast to the saddle of the horse which Bradley
himself rode. He was well armed with pistols and a rifle, and started
with Colonel Mason's party a couple of hours before sundown--so that
they might ford the river ere it was dusk. After accomplishing this,
they intended to ride part of the way by the light of the moon.


  Smoking and sleeping
  Fever, and how caused
  Bradley returns
  A doctor wanted
  A doctor's fee at the mines
  Medicine scarce
  A hot air bath and a cold water bath
  Indians engaged to work
  Indian thimble-rigging
  An Indian gamester, and the stake he plays for
  More sickness
  Mormons move off
  A drunken dance by Indians
  An Indian song about the yellow earth and the fleet rifle
  An immodest dance by Indian women.

_July 12th, Wednesday_.--We finished our cradles late upon Saturday
night, but delayed working until Monday. A few of the miners pursued
their avocation on the Sunday, but the majority devoted the day to
rest--smoking and sleeping in the shade alternately. I walked through
the washings, and heard that many of the miners had been taken ill with
intermittent fever, a circumstance which did not astonish me. Bad diet,
daily exposure to the sun while it is at its greatest height, followed
by an exposure to the cold damp air at night time--these conjoined were
quite sufficient to bring on the most severe illness. On my return to
the tent I looked over our little stock of medicine, which I foresaw I
should soon be required to use.

On Monday we commenced operations in the old style--digging, fetching
water, and rocking the cradle. The sun came blazing down with great
power, causing headaches to most of the party, particularly Malcolm,
who complained much. The day's taking was very good; we having realised
nine ounces with one machine, and seven and a half with the other. At
night, as Malcolm still continued to complain of his head, and as there
was evidently a good deal of low fever about him, I gave him a dose of
calomel and a febrifuge mixture, which by the morning produced a good
deal of relief.

Bradley made his appearance during the forenoon, after a fatiguing ride
from Sutter's Fort. He had seen the Captain, had delivered the gold,
and settled the transaction. We were hard at work the whole of to-day.
In the evening a man came crawling into the tent to know if we had any
medicines we would sell. I told him I was a doctor, and asked him what
was the matter. He had been suffering from remittent fever of a low
typhoid type. I gave him bark, and told him he must lay up and take
care of himself. He said he would; but next day, during the intervals
of fever, I saw him working away with his pan. The news of there being
a doctor in the camp soon spread, and I am now being continually called
on to prescribe for a large number of patients. An ounce of gold is the
fee generally given me. This sort of work is as much more profitable as
it is less laborious than working at the cradle. But the great drawback
is that one has to do something else beyond advising. People require
physicking, and as I cannot submit to be deprived of the little stock
of medicine I had brought with me in case of my own friends having
occasion for it, I am obliged to give over practising in those cases
where medicine is absolutely necessary.

The native Californians, both Indians and whites, have an universal
remedy for febrile affections, and indeed for sickness of almost any
kind; this is the temascal, a sort of hot air bath, shaped not unlike a
sentry-box, and built of wicker-work, and afterwards plastered with mud
until it becomes air-tight. There is one of these machines at the Weber
Creek washings, which has been run up by the Indians during the last
few days. One of them used it for the first time this afternoon, and to
my surprise is still alive. After a great fire had been made up close
to the door--a narrow aperture just large enough for a little man to
squeeze through--it was afterwards gradually allowed to burn itself
out, having in the meantime heated to a very high degree the air in the
interior of the bath. Into this the Indian screwed himself, and there
remained until a profuse perspiration was produced, which he checked
forthwith by a plunge into the chilly water of the river. Here he
floundered about for a few minutes, and then crawled out and lay down
exhausted on the ground.

The atmosphere continues exceedingly sultry, and the miners who work by
the river, out of the shade, have in several instances sunk exhausted
under the toil. Dysentery, produced probably by unwholesome food, has
also begun to show itself, and altogether the aspect of things is
anything but cheerful.

_July 15th, Saturday_.--We have engaged a large party of Indians to
work for us in the ravines. They belong to the Snake tribe, and appear
to be a poor set of half-starved wretches. We pay them in provisions,
and occasionally drams of pisco--a spirit made from Californian grapes.

On visiting the encampment of our Indians, last night after work was
over, I found about a dozen of them eagerly engaged gambling away--the
stake, in some instances, being the supper which had just been served
out to them--with an ardour equal to that of the most civilized
gamesters. So far as I could make out, the game had some analogy to our
"thimble-rigging;" but appeared to be fairly played. A small ball was
passed by three of the Indians from hand to hand, with such rapid
dexterity, that no eye could keep pace with their movements; three
others watched it with peculiar eagerness. Every now and then the
latter made a correct guess, and one was scored in their favour--if
wrong, a mark was scored against them. The Indians are in general
strongly addicted to games of chance, and they sometimes gamble away
all the clothing on their backs. I heard of an instance which occurred
near the saw-mills, of an Indian who, after having lost every article
of clothing he had, one after the other, to his more fortunate
antagonist, staked his labour for a week against the cotton shirt which
he had lost only a few minutes before. He had a run of bad luck, and,
when he left off, had to work for six weeks, at gold-washing, for his
antagonist, who fed him on nothing better than acorn bread. Mr. Neligh,
who told me of this circumstance, had seen the man at work duly
fulfilling his engagement.

The sickness amongst the miners continues to increase, and in our own
party Lacosse has been laid up for two days with fever; however, I
think he is now doing well. The climate does not appear to be
unhealthy. It is the exposure to the work which does the mischief.
There is some talk afloat among our party of removing further up the
country, nearer to the mountains, where gold is said to be in greater
abundance. Yesterday, a large party--many of them Mormons--started for
the Bear River, a small stream which runs into the Sacramento, and is
said to be about fifty miles distant, due north from where we are

The Indians at work here have caused the price of pisco and whisky to
rise to a most exorbitantly high rate. They content themselves with
feasting on the bitter acorn bread, and spend all their earnings on
"strong water" and a little finery. Sometimes a party of them, when
intoxicated, will get up one of their wild dances, when the stamping
and yelling are of a far more fearful character than is generally the
case at these singular exhibitions. The dance begins generally with a
rude song, the words being of the usual harsh guttural character, but
the ideas are generally striking and peculiar. One has been explained
to me which recites the praises of the "yellow earth," because it will
procure the Shoshonee the fleet rifle with which he can slay his Pawnee
foe. It says nothing, however, about the "strong water," which renders
the arm of the war-chief weaker than that of a child; for, with all
their vices, there is still that pride about the Indian character which
makes them ashamed of those weaknesses they are unable to resist.

Frequently, while the Indian warriors repose from their exertions,
after the termination of one of these wild dances, the women of the
tribe will occupy their place; but in general their postures and
movements are indelicate in the extreme. But modesty is hardly to be
looked for in the amusements of savage life.


  The party determine to start for Bear River
  Sickness at the mines
  What happened to a drunken Indian
  An old trapper and his stories
  Captain Sutter's first settlement
  Indians partial to horse-flesh
  A score of horses stolen
  An expedition to revenge the theft
  A rancheria demolished
  A chorus of yells
  Indians routed and then brought to labour
  Bear River
  The trapper engaged as guide
  Preparations for the journey
  An addition to the party
  The journey commenced
  Rocky country
  Cross the North Fork
  An accident to a mule
  Flour cakes and bacon scraps
  Resume the journey
  Precipitous ravines
  End of the journey.

_Monday, July 24th_.--We have determined to start for the Bear River.
We worked hard last week, but suffered greatly from the heat; almost
every man of us complains of feverish symptoms, with pains in the
limbs, back, and loins, yet we are better than the majority of the
miners. These washings have now become nearly as crowded as the Mormon
diggings were when we left them, and immense sums have been made by
some of the luckier adventurers amongst the ravines. The whole valley
is dotted over with tents and green bush arbours, and there is hardly a
watercourse but which is sprinkled with miners, digging, sifting, and
washing. About half of the people work together in companies--the other
half shift each for himself. There are hundreds of Indians, many of
them fantastically dressed, for they can purchase fine clothing now,
even at the extravagant rates at which all articles are charged at
Weber's store. They labour one day, and get drunk on pisco or the
"strong water" on another. One of them rolled down a rocky ravine
lately, in an intoxicated state, and was killed.

As we were lying down in the shade of the tent yesterday, we were
visited by an old trapper called Joe White. He had recognized Bradley
and Don Luis, whom he had met on the coast, and we invited him to take
coffee with us. Joe White had come into this part of the country with
Captain Sutter, whom he spoke very highly of, and of whose early
efforts to form a settlement he gave us an account. Their party was the
very first of the white settlers in the wilderness. They live some time
in a camp formed of the tented wagons they had brought with them, until
they could run up a few rough shanties, and some protecting outworks.
During the time they were constructing these, and indeed for some
months afterwards, they were dreadfully harassed by the Indians, who
made onslaughts on their cattle, carried away, killed, and eat both
horses and oxen. The Indians are by no means particular. One night,
after the party had been lulled into a sense of security by the
apparent friendly disposition of the Indians, who occasionally came
into their camp, and no watch was being kept, upwards of a score of
horses and mules were driven off; the loss of which Sutter's people
knew nothing of until they woke up in the morning, and found the ropes
all cut. They started off at once on the trail, and soon found that it
led to an Indian rancheria, about eight miles up the Sacramento. This
rancheria was, they believed, the refuge of the "Ingin varmints," as
Joe While styled them, from whose depredations they were constantly
suffering. Captain Sutter determined to take signal revenge. They
returned to the Fort that day, but next morning started off in a strong
party, each man armed with his never-failing rifle and big bowie-knife,
and taking with them a howitzer which the Captain had brought with him
over the Rocky Mountains. The Indians must, however, have had
information by their scouts of the expedition; for, when the party
reached the rancheria, they found it deserted--not even a solitary
squaw left among the huddled-up collection of huts. Determined not to
be foiled, the party set to work to demolish the village. The
construction of the Indian houses rendered this an easy task, but, to
complete it, fire was requisite. No sooner had the smoke risen from the
kindling wood, than their ears were saluted with a dismal yell from a
little densely-wooded island a couple of hundred yards up the stream.
Starting out in all directions from the high grass and underwood,
appeared a crowd of squaws with their children, who gave whoop after
whoop, and, brandishing boughs of trees, imprecated curses upon the
destroyers of their rancheria.

Captain Sutter and his party of trappers were somewhat startled at this
proceeding, and the question immediately occurred to them as to where
the men could be. The party pushed their way homewards as fast, as
possible; leaving the rancheria burning and the squaws and children
still yelling and whooping on the island. It was as they expected. On
coming within two miles of the Fort, they heard the crack upon crack of
distant rifles. Putting their horses to the gallop, they arrived just
in time to see the Indians totally routed, and scampering away as fast
as their horses would carry them into the woods.

After this double defeat, the tribes seem to have given up all idea of
prosecuting a war against their new neighbours, and, gradually
relinquishing their thievish habits, settled in the neighbourhood of
the Fort--sometimes hunting and trapping for the pale faces, and at
others labouring away at ditching and brick-making, being paid chiefly
in articles of clothing and small allowances of pisco. The trapper told
us that Captain Sutter has now a tin coin in circulation, stamped with
his name, and good for a certain amount of merchandize at the Fort.

After listening to a few more wonderful adventures of this sort,
Bradley turned the conversation upon the country about Bear River. The
trapper said he knew it well, and had heard that there was plenty of
gold there. He asked him if he would undertake to guide us thither,
and, after some bargaining, he consented. The sum he was to have was
sixty-five dollars and his food. Considering the high rates of all
things here, this was a low figure enough, but the old trapper candidly
told us that he was sick and tired of paddling about in the water
washing for gold, and that he would prefer a few days' jaunt in the
wilderness. The climate was much cooler further to the north, he
informed us, and comparatively few miners had penetrated to the Bear
Valley. We had a long debate upon the matter, and ultimately it was
determined to start the day after to-morrow (Wednesday).

_July 25th, Tuesday_.--This day has been devoted to preparations for
our journey. Our stock of provisions, with the exception of
breadstuffs, is quite exhausted. We have had, therefore, to lay in a
stock, but we found everything, of course, inordinately dear; so we
have contented ourselves with buying some bacon, and dried beef, and
coffee, resolving to trust to our rifles for further support, there
being plenty of game in the neighbourhood of the Bear Valley. By the
advice of Joe White, we intend not only to load the pack-horses with a
portion of our stock of provisions, but each man is to take a
fortnight's rations for himself. The pack-horses will carry about
another fortnight's supply. We should have preferred, if we could have
managed it, to despatch the gold we have amassed since Bradley's
mission to Captain Sutter, down to the Fort; but, after some
deliberation, we have resolved not to risk its transit without an
escort, and, accordingly, have agreed to load one horse, the most
sure-footed of the lot, with the valuable burden, and to attach its
trail ropes to the horses ridden by ourselves in turn.

This evening three men, hearing of our intended expedition, offered to
join the party. These were Edward Story, an American lawyer, who had
been one of the inferior alcaldes during the Spanish regime at
Monterey; John Dowling, first male, and Samuel Bradshaw, the carpenter,
of an American whaling ship which they had left at San Francisco. The
lawyer was an intelligent person, conversant with the language of
several of the tribes--the mate seemed to have his wits about him, and
the carpenter would obviously be a great acquisition, particularly as
we were now about to plunge even beyond the furthest outposts of
civilization, where, in all probability, we may have to secure
ourselves against attacks from the Indians without the possibility of
any help beyond that which we could render to each other. We were
rather pleased with their offer, and received them as an addition to
our party. All three had horses, although, as usual with seamen, the
mate and carpenter were terribly awkward equestrians.

_Wednesday, July 26th_.--This day we struck our camp before sunrise,
and had the horses securely packed and all in motion in the early cool
of the morning. The march was a fatiguing one; the country appearing to
be a succession of woody bottoms, or valleys and steep rocky ridges,
which tried the metal of our loaded horses severely. From the summit of
one of the hills more elevated than the rest we obtained a distant view
of the valley of the Sacramento. Our general course was north
north-west. The trapper, who proved an able guide, varied the direction
from time to time so as to lead us through the easiest paths, taking
care to steer clear of the deep canones that split up the hills in
every direction. We dined at noon as usual, and that very well, on some
hare soup made from a couple of hares which we had shot during the
morning, and some dried beef. The signs of deer were very frequent.
After mounting and descending a very precipitous and rocky ridge, we
encamped near some waterfalls in a wide open valley. The night was
somewhat cold, and we enjoyed a blazing fire of pine sticks, which we
cut from the dried trees in the vicinity.

_Friday, July 28th_.--Yesterday morning dawned clear and rather
coolish. In the forenoon we crossed the north fork of the Americanos,
which was here but a trifling stream. The general character of the
country was becoming more and more mountainous and difficult to
traverse, and we found the labour of the journey sufficiently severe. A
great number of water-courses crossed our path, but the channels were
quite dry, the stones and shingle white and bleaching in the sun. An
unfortunate accident occurred during the afternoon's march to one of
the pack-horses, which stumbled over a heap of rough stones in
clambering up from the bed of a torrent, and broke its leg. We had to
shoot the poor animal to put it out of pain. Its burden was equally
distributed between its more fortunate fellows. We encamped amongst
rocks, and had a poor supper of flour cakes and bacon scraps. During
the night Don Luis was attacked with aguish symptoms. I prescribed
bark, which appeared to relieve him.

To-day our horses were quickly saddled and packed, and we started off
in the faint grey of the morning. It was chilly, but the sky was
beautifully clear. When the sun had fairly risen, however, we had no
more cold to complain of. The way was exceedingly difficult. We toiled
along precipitous ravines and gullies, and climbed up steep and rocky
ridges, which cut and wounded the feet of the horses, and rendered our
progress very slow. The timber we passed was principally pine trees,
with sharp pointed leaves and large cones, and occasionally we came
upon a grove of evergreen oaks, more stunted in shape than was the case
in the lower regions. About mid-day we passed the source of the Rio de
las Plumas, or Feather River, and after a most severe and in some
respects forced march climbed the last rocky ridge which separated us
from the Bear Valley. The sun was near its setting as we pushed down
the mountain slopes towards the river. We found it a small stream
flowing swiftly over a shingly bed to the westward, and encamped within
hearing of its murmur, well pleased to have performed our toilsome


  A rest
  A solitude
  No gold to be found
  An exploring party
  Good fortune
  Food and security
  More cradles
  A fortified shanty in preparation
  A dessert after dinner
  Thoughts about home
  No other gold-finders to be seen
  Mormon trail
  Salt Plain and the Great Salt Lake
  A weary day's journey without water
  Saline exhalations
  The inland sea and its desolate shores
  A terrible whirlpool
  The shanty finished
  The trapper's services retained
  The camp visited by an Indian tribe
  A friendly sign
  The pipe of peace
  A "trade" with the Indians declined
  Some depart and some remain
  Provisions run short
  Hunting expeditions
  Something about a bear.

_Sunday, July 30th_.--We rested somewhat late upon Saturday morning to
make up for the fatigues of the journey from Weber's Creek. On
surveying the country we found ourselves in a perfect solitude. Not an
Indian, far less a white man, was to be seen. The fertile valley of the
Bear River--with its luxuriant grass, in which nestled coveys of the
Californian quail--seemed almost untrodden by human foot, and sloped in
great beauty between the ridges of rocky hills and peaks of granite,
with dark ravines and canones between, which hemmed it in. Our first
care was of course to try the capabilities of the country in the way of
gold. We therefore separated ourselves, and sought different points of
the channel of the stream, and different chasms, which in the winter
time conducted the mountain torrents into it.

To our great astonishment and disappointment, one by one we returned
into the camp with the news of our non-success. By the old trapper's
advice, an exploring party was despatched to follow up the stream
towards its head. They travelled the distance of some ten or twelve
miles, crossing some of the more important tributaries of the main
river, and had the good fortune to strike upon a spot where a slight
examination was sufficient to prove that the gold existed in great
abundance in the sand and shingles, and imbedded in flakes amid the
rocks. To-day we have moved the camp to this spot; and, as we are now
beyond the reach of aid from white men, and have begun to feel that we
must be, for some time at least, a self-supporting party, our first
thoughts are turned towards making arrangements for obtaining a supply
of food, and for ensuring our security. Bradley, Joe White, and José,
are to be our hunters; Malcolm, Lacosse, and McPhail, are to set to
work to-morrow to make a couple of cradles, the carpenter giving them
an occasional helping hand, but occupying himself principally in
superintending the construction of a large shanty, sufficient to
accommodate the whole party, with a rough fortification around,
com posed of pine logs and palisades, pointed at the top, sufficient
to enclose a space of ground into which the horses could be driven at
night, out of the way of any outlying Indian who might be thievishly
inclined. We calculate that the construction of the shanty, with its
appurtenances, will occupy at least a week--in all probability, much
longer. Malcolm, McPhail, and Lacosse, are to join us in our labours as
soon as they have finished the cradles. The hunters had good luck
to-day, and came in with a couple of fat bucks. The trapper had also
snared a number of quails, so that our table was nobly furnished. Our
dinner, also, included a dessert of a fruit similar to apples in taste,
but not larger than well-grown gooseberries. These had been gathered
and brought in by the trapper in the morning.

_Sunday, August 6th_.--I have felt very low-spirited these last few
days. One's thoughts have turned towards home, and an indescribable
sensation of melancholy has been weighing me down, which at last my
companions have begun to take notice of. This evening, just as the
remainder of the party contemplated turning in for the night, I pulled
out my note-book, and began writing beside the camp-fire.

"¿No puede Vm. dormir?" said Don Luis to me, as he moved away towards
the tent.

"No, Senor," replied I. "Pienso a la veja Ingleterra; a mi Hermano y a
mis amigos."

"Por ventura a una amiguita," observed Don Luis.

I laughed, and answering, "Es possible, Senor," went on writing.

We are now regularly settled on the Bear River, and have, as yet, seen
no signs of human life round about us. The reports, therefore, which we
heard at Weber's Creek, of the gold-finders having penetrated into this
valley, would appear to have been without foundation. We have observed
a fresh-made trail, which the old trapper seems to consider passes in
the direction of the Truckee Lake; and we have noticed the remains of
several camp-fires at different parts of the valley. In all probability
this trail has been made by the Mormon emigrants, who are reported to
have gone on a gold-hunting expedition across the salt desert to the
shores of the Great Salt Lake, a distance of seven or eight hundred
miles. The old trapper had some wonderful stories to tell about the
dangers of the journey across the Salt Plain. How that a man has to
travel, from the first faint break of grey light in the morning, as
hard as his horse will carry him, over a desert of white salt--which
crunches and crumbles beneath his horse's tread at every step he
takes--until the sun has gone down behind the tall peaks of the distant
Sierra Nevada. No water but of the most brackish kind can be procured
to refresh either horse or rider through the whole of this weary route,
while their lips are parched with thirst, and their eyes and nostrils
become choked from the effects of the saline exhalations rising up on
all sides from the desert over which they are passing. And as for the
Great Salt Lake, the desolate shores of this inland sea have been, for
the most part, carefully avoided by both Indians and trappers, and no
living being has yet been found daring enough to venture far on the
bosom of its dark turbid waters; for a belief exists that a terrible
whirlpool agitates their surface, ready to swallow up everything that
may venture within the bounds of its dangerous influence.

Our cradles were finished on Monday, and the shanty on Saturday
afternoon. It includes a sort of outhouse for cooking, and the rude
palisades around are quite sufficient protection for the horses against
any attempts the Indians are likely to make to drive them off. As soon
as our building labours were over yesterday, we set to work digging and
washing, and were very successful. The country about here is of course
much more rugged than in the lower diggings. Grass is plentiful in the
valley, but the rocky heights are covered with a stinted vegetation,
offering no food to our horses. The soil, mineralogically considered,
does not seem to vary materially from that in the neighbourhood of
Weber's Creek. If anything, it is more impregnated with gold. On
Friday, Don Luis discovered a large rough lump in a canone about a mile
from the shanty; and the next evening a similar lump, though rather
smaller, was picked up by Bradley in one of his hunting excursions.

_August 8th_.--We have engaged the services of our friend the trapper
at the rate of fifteen dollars a-week, with an allowance of whisky
twice a-day. He will hunt for us, but will have nothing to do with gold
digging and washing. He has a tolerable contempt for dollars, or else
he would have demanded higher wages. A man who has spent nearly all his
life in the wilderness, who has known no wants but such as his rifle
could quickly supply, may, however, well look with contempt on the
"root of all evil." If he were hungry, a shot at some panting elk or
bellowing buffalo would stock him with food for weeks to come. If he
were athirst, the clear water of some sparkling rivulet would yield him
all that he would require. The hide of the bear or of the buffalo would
serve to clothe him and to shelter him from the sharp night frosts;
while a score of beaver skins would purchase him ammunition more than
sufficient to last him all the year round. What, then, should he want
with gold?

Yesterday, while we were at dinner, we were surprised by seeing a party
of Indians approaching the camp from the direction of Truckee Lake.
They appeared not to have any hostile intentions, so we quietly awaited
their approach. The foremost chief held before him a long stick, with a
bunch of white feathers dangling at the end. Story explained to us that
this was a friendly sign, and said we had nothing to fear from the
party. As they approached nearer towards us, they commenced dancing and
singing, and we could soon perceive that very few among them were
armed, and that altogether their appearance was anything but warlike
and imposing.

Story went out to meet them, and shook hands with the few foremost
chiefs. When they reached the shanty, before the door of which we were
seated, the chiefs gathered on the right-hand side of us, and squatted
themselves down upon the ground, when the pipe of peace was immediately
produced by a veteran chief, and hemded round. I took a few whiffs with
the rest, and then we learnt from our visiters that they were anxious
to engage in a trade. All that they had, however, were some few
esculent roots and several bags of pine-nuts. These last they roast and
eat, but the taste is far from pleasant. In exchange for them, they
wanted some charges of powder and ball. Three of them, I noticed,
possessed old Spanish muskets, of which they seemed particularly proud;
they held them in the usual cautious Indian style, with the butt-end
clutched in the right hand, and the barrel resting on the left arm. A
few of the others had bows and arrows slung across their backs. We
pleaded shortness of ammunition as our excuse for declining the trade.
Our provisions being run low made it impossible for us to offer them
anything to eat, so we gave them a few blankets, which we could well
spare, by way of keeping ourselves in their good graces; as, according
to Story, they would have considered it a great affront if we had
neglected to make them any presents.

The Indians remained and encamped outside our fort; last night and this
morning the greater part took their departure. The guard last night had
orders to keep a sharp look-out, as we thought that our friends, even
though they had no hostile intentions towards us, might still take a
strong liking to some of our horses; but nothing of a suspicious
character occurred. Five young men of the tribe also have stopt behind,
who wish to continue with us and work for us, but the low state of our
commissarial renders it desirable not to accept their offer, unless our
hunters return to-day with a good stock of provisions.

_August 13th_. Our hunters have been very successful these last few
days. We have a large stock of elk meat, which we intend drying after
the Indian fashion. On Friday, while Don Luis and the trapper were out
together, they were surprised by the sight of a huge bear right before
them, slowly walking up towards them. As soon as he arrived within
about a hundred paces he squatted down upon his haunches for a few
moments; but, as they got nearer to him, and just as they were
preparing to give him a greeting in the shape of a couple of balls
through his head, he rose up and scampered off. They fired, but without
success, and the brute plunged into a dense thicket; after which they
saw nothing more of him.

Our Indians, after stopping with us a couple of days, during which
period we compelled them to encamp at night-time outside the fort, took
their departure early on Friday morning, or else during the night of
Thursday, unperceived by our sentinels. They, however, took nothing
with them belonging to our party, except a couple of blankets we had
lent to the two principal men.


  A rich mine of gold discovered
  A guard both night and day
  A good morning's work
  An Indian scout
  How he served Dowling, and how Dowling served him
  A look-out
  Indians seen advancing
  A moment of fear
  A yell
  Arrows and rifles
  A wounded chief carried off
  The field of battle
  The return to the camp
  Horses driven off by Indians
  Where José was found
  The wounded attended to
  An after-dinner discussion
  How the watch went to sleep, and how they were woke up
  McPhail missing
  Wolves, deer, and a puma
  A party set out in search of McPhail.

_August 20th, Sunday_.--The past week has been in many respects an
eventful one. On Friday, while several of us were rambling about the
neighbourhood of the camp, exploring the numerous mountain canones
which lie between us and the Sierra Nevada, we found, among the loose
particles of rock which had crumbled away from the sides of the ravine
and fallen to the bottom, several lumps of gold of a much larger size
than any we had before met with. This induced us to examine the upper
part of the ravine, where promising traces of gold were readily
detected; further examination convinced us that the precious metal
existed here in far greater quantises than in the locality where we had
been at work for several weeks previous; and we were, moreover,
satisfied that it was to be obtained with much less difficulty, as,
being found in solid lumps, the unpleasant labour of washing was
dispensed with. We therefore determined, on the following morning, to
remove all our implements to this spot, the only disadvantage of which
was its being situated rather far off from our place of encampment.

Since our friends, the Indians, had quitted us, we had always left some
one or other on guard at the shanty, to keep watch over our horses and
baggage, both during the day time and at night; for we knew that some
of them were continually prowling about, our horses having frequently
shown signs of uneasiness in the night time. During the day there was
generally one member of the party who remained at the shanty, having
either José or the lad Horry in company.

The ravine we proposed moving to was nearly half-a-mile distant. After
breakfast, Bradley, Lacosse, and McPhail, accompanied by the old
trapper, set off on a hunting expedition, for our stock of provisions
was now getting very low, leaving José and our legal friend at the
camp. The remainder of the party, including myself, proceeded to the
ravine with our implements, and after working a few hours we succeeded
in procuring more gold than we had obtained in any two days during the
past week. We were just on the point of returning to the camp to dinner
when Dowling, who was standing near some sage bushes at the upper part
of the ravine, heard a rustling among them, and on moving in the
direction of the noise saw an Indian stealthily creeping along, who, as
soon as he perceived he was discovered, discharged an arrow, which just
missed its mark, but lacerated, and that rather severely, Dowling's
ear. The savage immediately set up a most terrific whoop, and ran off,
but stumbled before he could draw another arrow from his quiver, while
Dowling, rushing forward, buried his mattock in the head of his fallen
foe, killing him instantaneously.

At this moment we hoard the crack of a rifle in the direction of the
camp, which, with the Indian's whoop at the same moment, completely
bewildered us. Every man, however, seized his rifle, and Dowling,
hastening towards us, told us what had just occurred. All was still for
the next few moments, and I mounted a little hill to reconnoitre.
Suddenly I saw a troop of Indians, the foremost of them on horseback,
approaching at full speed. I hastily returned to my companions, and we
sought shelter in a little dell, determined to await there, and resist
the attack, for it was evident that the savages' intentions were
anything but pacific.

It was a moment of breathless excitement. We heard the tramp, tramp of
the horses coming on towards us, but as yet they and their riders were
concealed from our view. I confess I trembled violently, not exactly
with fear, although I expected that a few moments would see us all
scalped by our savage assailants. It was the suddenness of the danger
which startled me, and made my heart throb violently; but at that
moment, just as I was reproaching myself with the want of courage, a
terrific yell rung through the air at a short distance from us, and
forty or fifty warlike Indians appeared in sight. My whole frame was
nerved in an instant, and when a shower of arrows flew amongst us, I
was the first man to answer it with a rifle-shot, which brought one of
the foremost Indians off his horse to the ground. I instantly reloaded,
but in the meanwhile the rifles of my companions had been doing good
service. We had taken up our position behind a row of willow trees
which skirted the banks of a narrow stream, and here we were protected
in a great measure from the arrows of our assailants, which were in
most cases turned aside by the branches. A second volley of rifle-shots
soon followed the first; and while we were reloading, and the smoke had
slightly cleared away, I could see that we had spread consternation in
the ranks of the Indian warriors, and that they were gathering up their
wounded preparatory to retreating. I had my eye on one old man, who had
just leapt from his horse. My finger was on the trigger, when I saw him
coolly advance, and, taking one of his wounded companions, who had been
shot though the leg, in his arms, place him on a horse, then mounting
his own, and catching hold of the other animal's bridle, gallop off at
full speed. Although I knew full well that if the fortune of the day
had gone against us, these savages would not have spared a single man
of our party, still I could not find it in my heart to fire on the old
chief, and he therefore carried off his wounded comrade in safety.

In a few minutes the hill-sides were clear, and when we emerged from
our shelter, all that was visible of the troop of warriors was three of
them weltering in their blood, a bow or two, and some empty quivers,
and a few scattered feathers and tomahawks, lying on the ground. One by
one, we gradually stole up to the top of the mound from whence I first
beheld the approach of the enemy, when, finding that they were
retreating at full speed in an opposite direction to the camp, we
determined to proceed thither at once, fully prepared to find both
Story and José murdered. On our arrival, however, the former coolly
advanced to meet us, and, in answer to our questions, stated that while
he was superintending the proper browning of our venison, and José was
filling the cans with water, he saw several of our horses scampering
off, being in fact driven by three or four Indians on horseback. "So
quickly," said he, "was the movement effected, that before I could lay
hold of my rifle they were nearly beyond range. I fired, but without
effect; and while I was looking about, I suppose in rather a bewildered
manner, a party of something like forty Indians ran rapidly past. I
don't know whether they saw me or not, but I was by no means anxious to
engage their attention, and was glad enough when the last passed out of
sight. I then went in search of José, whom I found in the river up to
his neck in water--a position which he thought afforded the safest
means of concealment, as he knew his wild brethren would have
sacrificed him, and perhaps eaten him forthwith, if they had chanced to
discover him."

I at once set to work to dress Dowling's ear, and a wound which Don
Luis had received in his hand. The latter was merely a scratch, and the
only danger likely to arise from it was in the event of the arrow by
which it was inflicted having been poisoned. But Don Luis felt so
confident that this was not the practice among the tribes about here,
that he would not allow me to take the usual precautions against such a

Our anxiety was now turned towards the party who were out hunting, and
we anxiously looked for their appearance. We had been so upset by the
events of the morning, that we all felt disinclined to resume our
labours after our meal was concluded, and we occupied ourselves in and
about the camp, and in discussing the reason of the Indians' attack,
and the probability of its being followed up by another. The day wore
on without any signs of our companions' return. Towards evening, a
rifle was fired off occasionally, to let them know of the danger which
in all probability awaited them from an attack on the part of the
Indians, and also to let the latter gentry know that we were on the
look-out. It was arranged that we should all keep watch until the
arrival of our friends, to be the better prepared for any danger which
menaced us and them; for we thought it not unlikely that the Indians
were hovering about the camp, and might attempt a surprise. Exhausted,
however, by excitement and fatigue, one by one we dropped off to sleep.
I was wakened up by the report, as I thought, of a rifle, which was
immediately followed by a horrible moaning, and the whole of us were
soon on our legs, rifles in hand, in the expectation of being butchered
in the course of a few minutes. Bradley's well-known whistle, however,
somewhat restored our confidence.

In a few minutes Lacosse, Bradley, and the old trapper were by the
camp-fire. "Is McPhail here?" asked all of them in a breath, anxiously
looking round the circle. The reply to the question was a sad one: he
had not yet returned. In answer to our inquiries as to where they had
parted from him, and as to whether they had heard the rifle-shot which
had disturbed us from our sleep, Lacosse replied that they had first
missed him about three-quarters of an hour ago, but they did not feel
any particular uneasiness at the circumstance, as they imagined he had
ridden on first. The night was rather dark, but Lacosse said the trail
could easily be distinguished. With regard to the shot we had heard
fired, and the moans which followed it, Bradley said that shortly after
missing McPhail, they found some wolves were on their track, in ail
likelihood scenting the deer which they were carrying slung across
their horses. Fearing their noise might attract a more dangerous
customer, in the shape of a puma, towards them, he fired a couple of
pistols, which had the effect of wounding two of the pack, who rolled
over with terrific howls. It must have been Bradley's last shot that
woke us, for none of us heard more than one shot fired.

Our three huntsmen set about preparing their supper immediately, in the
full expectation that McPhail would make his appearance before the
venison was ready. The supper was, however, cooked and eaten, but still
no McPhail arrived. Another hour was suffered to elapse, and then we
began to consider that it was nearly three hours ago since he was last
seen, while at that time he was not more than one hour's distance from
the camp. It was evident, therefore, that he had either missed the
trail or followed it in the opposite direction (which last was the old
trapper's opinion), or else some more serious misfortune had happened
to him. We at once resolved to set out in search of him, leaving a
guard behind at the camp. The mate and Don Luis, being both, as it
were, invalided, were of course among those who were to remain. Bradley
pleaded fatigue, and wished to stay in camp, and Biggs was left on
guard with him.


  Where McPhail was last seen
  The trapper's keen eyes
  A nap in the open air
  The Author woke up
  A surprise attempted
  Horses left in charge
  The tactics of the advance and the retreat
  A shot from a rifle, and a man wounded
  A salute
  The rifle shot explained
  Horses driven off
  A volley fired
  Poor Horry scalped
  The trapper promises vengeance
  The wounded man
  Grief at the loss of a friend
  A mystery explained
  Horry's grave
  His funeral and monument.

It must have been about one o'clock when we started, and, after
half-an-hour's hard riding, we came upon the spot where McPhail had
last been seen. We shouted for some time as loudly as our lungs would
let us, but heard nothing, save the howl of some hungry wolf, in reply.
We then followed the trail at a brisk pace for eight or nine miles, but
could discover nothing of our missing friend. There seemed no
possibility of ascertaining whether he had proceeded in the direction
in question or not, as the marks made by the horses of the party in the
morning, on their way out, somewhat confused the old trapper. His keen
eye, however, soon detected marks of a horse's hoof in a contrary
direction, over the marks which the horses of the hunting party had
made on their return. These signs were not apparent beyond the spot we
had reached. In which direction they were continued, the night was too
dark to discover.

Feeling that further search before daybreak would be useless, we
resolved to get a few hours' sleep in the meantime; and, dismounting
from our horses, secured them as well as we could, and placing our
saddles on the ground, to serve as pillows, we wrapped our
saddle-cloths round us, and were soon fast asleep. Story and the lad
Horry did first duty as sentinels. While they were on guard I was
wakened by a sharp tug at my leg, and while I was seizing hold of my
rifle, I recognised Story's voice calling me by name. He told me that,
after keeping a sharp look-out for about half-an-hour, he observed
several fires on the hill-sides, apparently about half-a-mile off; he
had been watching them for some time, and at last determined to wake
one of the party.

I went with him outside the little willow copse where we had fixed
ourselves, and true enough there were the fires, belonging, as we
thought, to a camp of Indians--very likely the same who had stolen our
horses and attacked us in the morning. We returned and woke the whole
party; and, a consultation being held, it was decided, as we were well
armed, and as the Indians had shown so much anxiety this morning to get
beyond reach of our weapons, after tasting a few shots, to effect a
surprise, and recover, if possible, our stolen horses. We saddled and
mounted as quickly as possible, and, after riding about a mile in the
direction of the fires, found that we were getting tolerably close to
our enemies. On we went, taking every bush which crackled beneath our
horses' tread for a token of the movements of some Indian scout who had
scented our approach. When within a short distance of the camp-fires we
dismounted, and tied our horses to some trees, leaving them in charge
of the lad Horry, with directions for him to keep his ears well open,
and, in the event of his hearing us retreat from the Indians, to give a
few lusty shouts, so as to let us know where the means of flight wore
to be found.

We advanced cautiously, Malcolm and Bradshaw preceding the main body,
about twenty paces apart. The arrangement was for the five (namely,
Lacosse, Story, the Trapper, José, and myself) who composed the main
body, to form a semicircle, of which the two scouts would compose the
extreme points, and so to approach the Indians' camp, on nearing which
we were to fire a volley on them from our rifles, and, wheeling round,
drive our horses off and retreat. We were within two hundred paces of
the camp-fires when we were startled by the report of a rifle. A shrill
whistle followed; but we still advanced, and in a few moments came up
with Malcolm and Bradshaw, the sailor being supported in the arms of
his companion, who called out that the man was shot, and begged me to
look to him. The remainder of the party, hearing this, moved a few
paces forward, levelled their rifles, and were on the eve of firing,
when we were suddenly saluted, in true British vernacular, with an
exclamation of "D---- your eyes, who goes there?" This so startled our
party that it saved the lives, very probably, of the whole camp. They
halted for a moment, and consulted together as to the course to be
adopted. A shot had been fired from the camp, and one of our men
injured. They, therefore, concluded that we had stumbled on the camp of
one of those gangs of ruffians which were known to infest the hills at
the foot of the Sierra Nevada.

At this juncture I ran up to the group with the intelligence that
Bradshaw had been injured by a shot from his own rifle, which had
accidentally gone off, and which circumstance Malcolm had not, in the
first instance, explained. I told my companions that the man was
seriously wounded in the leg; that I had merely bandaged it up with a
handkerchief, and, leaving him in Malcolm's charge, had hastened
forward to let them know the fact, that no more blood might be shed. No
sooner was this explanation given than we heard a loud shout from the
lad Horry, followed, as I thought, by some faint groans; but none of
the others heard them, and I thought I might have been mistaken. It
was concluded that he was merely shouting in accordance with our
instructions, and no further notice was taken of the affair. At that
instant several horses came galloping by at full speed, passing within
a few yards of us, and, following them, we could discern half-a-dozen
mounted Indians. We guessed the truth at once. They had cut the bridles
of our horses, and were driving them away to rejoin their fellows,
which had been stolen from us in the morning. We levelled our rifles
and fired--reloaded, and fired again; and then, in the midst of a
chorus of hallooing and screaming from the camp just before us, and the
loud bellowing of the retreating Indians, started off in pursuit, and
soon succeeded in turning our animals round, the Indians vanishing as
rapidly as they had appeared.

Securing our steeds, we walked them back in the direction of the spot
where we had left Horry, and, after some trouble, succeeded in finding
the exact place, when, to our horror, we found the poor fellow quite
dead, his body covered with blood, and his head and face dreadfully
disfigured. A closer examination showed us that the poor lad, after
being murdered, had been scalped by the savages. "Yes, yes," said the
old trapper, "sure enough his scalp is dangling in the belt of one of
them devils. G----d! I'll send an ounce of lead through the first
red-skin I meet outside them clearings. We'll have vengeance--we will."

As soon as I was a little recovered from the horror which this scene
naturally caused, I returned with the old trapper to the spot where I
had left Malcolm and Bradshaw, hardly expecting, after what I had just
witnessed, to find either of them alive. I was, however, happy in my
fears not being realized. They were both as I had left them. We carried
the wounded man as well as we could between us back to the place where
the remainder of the party were waiting for us. Here we stayed till
daybreak, silent and dejected. For my own part I could have wept. That
rough sailor lad, though under other circumstances I might have looked
down on him with contempt, and not have cared one straw whether he was
dead or alive, had been one of a little society, every member of which
had grown upon me in the rude life we had lived together in this
wilderness, and I felt that I had lost a friend.

The day broke at last, and, after repairing our bridles as well as we
could, we prepared to depart. We wrapped the body of the dead lad in a
blanket, and laid it over the back of his horse to convey it to our
camp, where we might bury it according to the rites of the English
church. I examined the carpenter's leg, and found his hurt was,
fortunately, only a flesh wound. It gave him, nevertheless, great pain
to travel on horseback, but there was no other means of conveying him
to the camp. As we rode slowly along, in the grey light of the morning,
we caught sight of the valley, the scene of our last night's
misfortunes, and saw on the hill-sides two white-tented emigrant
wagons, with the horses quietly grazing down in the bottom. Several of
us rode towards the spot, but found not a soul there. One of last
night's mysteries was explained. The camp we had at first taken to be
an Indian one, and then one of mountain robbers, was merely that of a
few emigrants, who, having crossed the pass in the Sierra Nevada, were,
doubtless, on their way to the Sacramento Valley. In all probability,
alarmed by the extraordinary affair of last night, they had abandoned
their wagons, and sought concealment from the dangers which they
imagined surrounded them. We shouted out the words "Friends,"
"Americans," and other expressions, to give them confidence, if they
were within hearing, but we obtained no reply. We, therefore, hastened
to rejoin the remainder of our party, and in about three hours tune we
reached the camp, cheering ourselves with the thought, as we moved
along, that we should find McPhail had returned. But we were doomed to
disappointment; there were no tidings of him, and sorrowfully did we
set to work to dig poor Horry's grave. After Malcolm had read the
service from the English Prayer-book over him, we sawed off a pine-log,
which was inserted a couple of feet deep in the ground, and on the
upper part, which had been smoothed for that purpose, we carved, in
rude letters, his name, and the date of his death.


  The party strengthen their defences
  No tidings of McPhail
  The trapper goes in search of him
  Returns, having met with no success
  McPhail makes his appearance accompanied by guides
  His adventures while away
  Finds he is lost
  Loses his rifle
  No supper
  Loses his horse
  No food for three days
  Sinks into a stupor
  Is discovered by two Indians
  Their humane treatment of him
  They conduct him by slow marches to the camp.

_August 27th_.--We have passed a heavy but not very profitable week.
Three days of our time have been spent in strengthening our defences,
and we have had some severe labour in felling pine trees and dragging
them to the stockade. We have driven sharpened stakes into the earth,
and, after laying the logs longitudinally within them, have twisted the
lighter boughs and brushwood of the trees in the interstices. Before we
began this task, however, the trapper, Malcolm, and Lacosse started in
search of McPhail, but returned the same night (Sunday) unsuccessful.
In the meantime, my two patients got on favourably, the pure air and
temperate living doing more for the wounds than medical skill could

On Monday, a council was held as to the propriety of sending another
party in search of our missing friend; and, after some discussion, the
trapper started off alone, taking rations with him to last him two or
three days. On Wednesday we set to work again, digging and washing,
confining ourselves, however, to that portion of the stream and to
those canones which were in the vicinity of the camp. Upon the whole,
we made good progress during the week, frequently averaging four ounces
of gold dust and flakes a-day per man. Early on Wednesday the trapper
made his appearance, but he had returned without any tidings of our
missing friend.

It was upon Thursday evening, as we were returning to the camp after a
hard day's work, that we were delighted at perceiving our comrade
McPhail, whom we had given up for lost, making his way towards us,
accompanied by a couple of Indians, fantastically dressed in the
Spanish fashion, the costumes having been probably purchased by the
sale of gold dust lower down the country. Our friend was, of course,
joyfully received, and a special can of pisco punch brewed in honour of
his return.

His adventures since his separation from the party were soon related.
He had turned aside to water his horse at a small rivulet, and, on his
return, waited at the trail for his comrades, whom he conceived to be
still in the rear. After waiting for nearly half-an-hour, he thought
that they must have passed him, and galloped after them in what he
conceived to be the proper trail. After half-an-hour's ride, however,
he found himself utterly at sea--no sign of the camp, or of his
comrades. He mounted several high ridges, which he hoped might command
a view of the Bear Valley; but all he could see was a wilderness of
hills and deep ravines, here and there chequered with fertile bottoms
clumped with pines and oaks. In fact, he grew quite confused, and, to
add to his perplexity, in fording a rapid torrent his horse stumbled,
and was carried off his legs by the strength of the stream, and had to
swim for it. At length they gained the further bank; but our friend
found that in his agitation he had dropped his rifle, which was
irrecoverably gone.

Finding that he had no knowledge of the country about him, he
determined to encamp for the night, and accordingly laid his head on
his saddle, wrapped himself up in his cloak, and went supperless to
sleep. When he awoke in the morning, he found that his horse, which he
had tethered to a neighbouring stunted tree, had strayed away, and
although he followed his trail for some time, he was eventually obliged
to give up the search. The remainder of this and the following day he
wandered about at random, amidst a wild and sterile country, furrowed
with tremendous chasms several hundred feet in depth, and the edge of
which it was necessary to skirt for miles ere a crossing-place could be
found. During this time poor McPhail fared very hardly. He saw numerous
herds of elk, but they bounded past unharmed: he had no rifle. He tried
in vain to find some edible roots, and was at length reduced to the
necessity of chewing grass and the pith of alder trees.

Throughout this period his sufferings were excessive; but as the time
passed and brought no relief, he experienced a sickness and nausea of
the most gnawing and horrible description. He became so weak that he
could hardly stand. At length at sunset, on the third day of his
wanderings, he laid himself down upon a spot of grass, and fell into a
kind of stupor, in the full belief that he would only wake in the
agonies of death. It was then that he was discovered by the two Indians
who brought him to the camp. They behaved with great humanity towards
him, allowing him, however, to eat, first of all, only a few morsels of
the dried meat which they had with them, that he might not harm himself
by over-eating, after such a lengthened fast. As his stomach by degrees
recovered its tone, they permitted him to take further nutriment; and
after encamping with them on that and the following night, he felt
sufficiently recovered to proceed on his journey to this camp. His kind
benefactors understood a few words of Spanish, and he was enabled to
explain to them the part of the country he wished to reach. They
undertook to guide him thither--told him they would arrive there after
having slept once, and by slow marches made their way to Bear Valley,
which they reached on the evening of the second day. McPhail expressed
his surprise on finding that he had wandered no greater distance off.
He showed his gratitude to his guides by presenting them with the two
large holster pistols which he brought with him from Oregon; and on the
following morning they took their departure from the camp.


  The Author inclined to return to the coast
  Sickness in the camp
  Provisions run low
  What is to be done with the gold?
  Proposal to convey it to the coast
  Short rations
  Indians visit the camp
  The invalids of the party
  The conveyance of the gold again discussed
  Suspicions began to arise
  Captain Sutter's receipt missing
  Bradley's explanation
  Further discussion about the gold
  The matter at last arranged
  No chance of rain.

_August 29th_.--We have led a lazy life of it these last few days. The
excitement we have lately undergone has unfitted us for regular labour;
and, besides, one has had altogether a tolerably long spell of toil.
Although, ever since we have been fairly settled here--now about a
month--we have not worked more than from four to five hours daily, and
have taken it by turns to go out on hunting expeditions, still I think
most of us have had enough of it; and were it not that the rainy season
will soon set in, when we shall be compelled to give over work, I
should, for my own part, feel inclined to return to the coast
forthwith. Sickness has begun to show itself in our camp, and we have
three men now laid up: Bradshaw, whose wound, though healing, will
still confine him for many days; Biggs, who has had a severe attack of
fever, but is now recovering fast; and Bowling, who lies inside the
shanty in an almost helpless state. My stock of drugs, too, is nearly
exhausted. Thank God, my own health has altogether been most excellent.
Although the vegetation dying off in the valleys at this time of the
year gives rise to a sort of malaria, still, from the herbage not being
of so rank a character about here as it is in the lower settlements,
the effects are by no means so injurious; besides, the cool air from
the mountains acts as a wholesome check.

Our provisions have run very low; nearly the whole of our flour is
exhausted, and we are forced to live on the produce of our hunting
expeditions. The little flour we have is set apart for the invalids of
the party. Yesterday our hunters came in, after being absent all day,
with only a black-tailed deer and a couple of hares; quails, however,
are tolerably plentiful. Lacosse and the trapper have volunteered to
set off to Sutter's, and bring us up a supply of breadstuffs sufficient
to last us until the sickly season sets in. I believe it is arranged
for them to start off tomorrow.

_September 1st_.--There have been several discussions as to the
prudence of keeping the large quantity of gold we have already procured
in camp, when we are liable to be surprised by the Indians, who for the
sake of it would tomahawk and scalp us all round. It seems to have
spread from tribe to tribe that the yellow earth which the pale faces
are in search of will buy not only beads and buttons and red paint, but
rifles, and charges of powder and ball, scarlet blankets, and the
"strong water," which the Indian "loves, alas! not wisely but too
well." Some are of the opinion that we ought to keep it by us, always
leaving a proper guard on the look-out, until we finally abandon the
digging, when we could return with it to the settlements in a body.
Bradley and Don Luis are rather opposed to this plan, and volunteer to
take the gold themselves to San Francisco or Monterey immediately, and
deliver it into the custody of some merchant there on our joint
account. I don't like this suggestion, for the amount is sufficiently
large to tempt any one to make off with it; besides, it would be
dangerous to send it without a strong guard. To-day we have put
ourselves on short rations, as our stock of provisions is getting very

_September 2nd_.--The camp generally seem to be in favour of Bradley's
proposition. Some of the more timid ones consider that we shall be in
constant danger for the next two months before the rainy season
commences, when we must give over work. It is a great pity that the
gold was not sent down at the time Lacosse and the trapper left.

Three Indians came into the camp last night, belonging, we believe, to
some tribe no great distance off. We gave them a good supper; and after
it was over we took care to make as much display as possible of our
firearms and bullet-pouches, and to see that our horses and mules were
well tethered before we turned in for the night. Story and McPhail were
the first guard. The three Indians wrapped themselves up in their
blankets, and slept just outside the tent; and after a good breakfast
in the morning took their departure, shaking hands with our party all
round, and expressing by other signs their satisfaction at the
treatment they had met with. Biggs is nearly recovered from his attack,
and will commence work again in a couple of days; meanwhile, he is
doing guard duty. Dowling and Bradshaw are still both very ill.

_September 3rd, Sunday_.--Bradley repeated his proposition to-day,
that himself and Don Luis, accompanied by José, who was to take charge
of a couple of horses, with packs containing the bulk of the gold,
should start off the following morning. Story was of opinion that they
ought to be attended by a guard as far as the Sacramento Valley; but,
to our surprise, Bradley and Don Luis opposed this suggestion, on the
score that such a precaution was unnecessary.

Yesterday evening I took an opportunity of speaking privately to
Malcolm and McPhail in reference to Bradley's proposition, and also in
reference to his and Don Luis's peremptory dismissal of Story's
suggestion, without even allowing it to be discussed. We then brought a
circumstance to our recollection which had never struck us before,
namely, that neither of us had ever seen Captain Sutter's receipt for
the gold Bradley had deposited in the Captain's charge, and we
determined to bring the matter up the first opportunity. To-day,
therefore, while we were at breakfast, Malcolm asked Bradley if Captain
Sutter had given a receipt for the gold, when he answered "Yes,
certainly;" but, to our surprise, stated that he had had the misfortune
to burn it. He went on to say, that while on his return to Weber's
Creek, during a halt he made, he had struck a light for his cigar, and
had incautiously used the receipt for that purpose. He had mentioned
the matter to Don Luis, he said, the same day he returned. Malcolm,
McPhail, and myself, looked at each other, but we felt bound to believe
Bradley's statement. We arranged, however, during a stroll we made from
the camp, after breakfast was finished, not to agree to Bradley's
proposition in reference to the conveyance of our present stock of
gold, unless one of us three formed one of the party accompanying it.

After dinner, I brought the subject forward by observing, that if it
was intended Bradley's plan should be carried out, Malcolm would desire
to form one of the party; and as an excuse for his going, I stated that
I wished him to get me a supply of drugs at San Francisco, as the
little stock I had brought with me was quite exhausted;--foolish-like,
not thinking at the time that Bradley and Don Luis could have procured
them quite as readily as Malcolm, and that I was therefore giving no
reason at all for his accompanying them. Malcolm, however, came to my
relief, by stating he had business at San Francisco, as he wished to
see the captains of some of the vessels in the harbour there that might
be bound for the Columbia River. Bradley gave Don Luis a side-look, and
said that no ships bound for the Columbia would be found at San
Francisco at this time of the year. Biggs, however, who knew more about
the shipping at that port than any of us, observed there would be; and
rather a warm discussion ensued, which was interrupted by Story and
McPhail both saying to Bradley, that as Malcolm really wanted to go to
San Francisco, they had better go in company. As there could be no
possible objection to this course, it has been finally arranged for
them to start off on the 5th (Tuesday). José was to be left behind.

The takings of the past week have been very good, considering that we
have two of our party absent, and three laid up with illness. The sky
has been a good deal overcast to-day; but still, from what I learn,
there is no chance of rain for another month.


  The party start for the coast
  How the carrying of the gold was arranged
  The escort
  Character of the country they passed through
  Halt at noon
  An alarm
  A discovery
  The escort return, keeping a sharp look-out
  A merry evening
  The narrative resumed
  A loud whistle
  "The best part of the gold is lost"
  The party are sullen and angry
  Malcolm is missing
  Don Luis's explanation
  A lasso whirls through the air
  A horse shot
  Malcolm falls to the ground
  Bradley fires, and with effect
  Retire to cover
  A discharge of rifles
  The enemy wheel off
  Malcolm's horse is missing
  Malcolm found to be insensible
  More horsemen
  Tomas Maria Carillo
  Robberies at the mines
  Brutal conduct
  A litter procured
  Malcolm conveyed to a shanty
  A kind Californian woman
  A volley of inquiries about the gold
  "It is the doctor you have to thank for that"
  The Author's reflections.

_September 5th_.--This morning, the party bound for the coast started
off as agreed on. We rose before daybreak, breakfasted, and got the
horses in readiness just as the sun showed over the mountain. At my
suggestion, Malcolm had the strongest horse we possessed allotted to
him, as it had been arranged that he should carry the bulk of the gold,
and that Don Luis and Bradley, who were to take as much as they could
carry in their saddle-bags, were to form the guard. This plan was
adopted in preference to having a led horse, which it was thought would
greatly impede their progress, and prevent the party from reaching the
settlements on the Sacramento that night. Bradley and Don Luis each
took with them eighteen pounds weight of gold; Malcolm, who was
unencumbered by anything, and merely carried a brace of pistols in his
belt, took very nearly seventy pounds. To relieve Malcolm's horse as
much as possible, three of us, who were to act as an escort to within a
few miles of the Sacramento Valley, were each to carry fifteen pounds
weight of the gold so far as we went. This escort was composed of
Story, José, and myself.

We started off soon after sun rise, amidst the faint cheers of our
invalided companions, and, as it was necessary for the escorting party
to return to the camp that night, it was agreed that we were to retrace
our steps at noon or thereabouts. The commencement of our ride was
through an open country, broken up by boulders of granite and clumps of
dark grey sage trees, when, after ascending some low rocky hills, their
summits crowned with a dense forest of gigantic pines, we entered a
grassy valley, lined with groups of noble cedars, whose spreading
branches offered a most inviting shade. Every now and then, we had to
make our way down the sides of huge chasms which intercepted our
progress, and then to toil slowly up the difficult ascent.

At noon we halted and took shelter from the sun in a little dell with a
gushing spring bubbling up in the midst, and a patch of willows
fringing the banks of the running stream. We scampered our horses down
it, dismounted, and, turning them loose to graze, seated ourselves at
the base of a huge rock of granite. Our wallet of provisions was
opened, and we soon made a hearty meal. Just as we had finished, some
loose earth and a few small stones came tumbling down from above,
knocking every now and then against the projecting ledges of rock in
their descent. We immediately started up, thinking it might be some
grizzly old bear anxious to make a meal of us, and Bradley and Malcolm
scrambled up above to get a shot at him. But he had been too quick for
them, for just as they reached the top, they heard the branches of the
trees crackling in a tuft of underwood opposite, which lay between us
and a deep water-course we had just crossed. As a fatiguing journey was
before them, they did not think it worth while to give chase to the
brute, and were on the point of descending again into the little hollow
where they had left us, when the print of a man's foot caught Bradley's
eye in the soft sandy earth. Several others were noticed close by, none
of which, Bradley protested, had been made by our party, and certainly
not by a bear, but by some sculking Indians, who had been very likely
hovering about us. They hastened to communicate this intelligence to
us, and it was decided that as the party bound for the coast were now
within some few hours' ride of the upper settlements on the Sacramento,
no Indians would be daring enough to attack them, and it would hardly
be worth while for us to accompany them further. We, however, insisted
upon riding a few miles more on the road, which having done, we took
leave of them with many wishes for their safe and speedy return, and
turned our horses' heads round in the direction of the camp.

Feeling rather fidgetty at the incident of the morning, we passed the
spot where it had taken place, keeping an anxious look-out in every
direction, and after a hard ride of several hours, reached the camp
shortly after sundown, glad that we had escaped any disaster. We had a
merry evening of it; a double allowance of whisky was served out, and
we drank our friends' safe arrival and return.

       *       *       *       *       *

I now sit down for the first time, after a lapse of several weeks, to
resume the continuation of my narrative. Late in the evening of the
5th, while my companions were chatting over the fire, and I was engaged
in writing, we were interrupted on a sudden by a loud whistle, the note
of which I thought I could not be mistaken in. "Sure that's Bradley,"
exclaimed I; the others thought not, and, catching up their rifles,
examined the flints. The whistle, when again repeated, convinced every
one, however, that my first surmise had been correct. In another minute
Bradley galloped up to us, and Don Luis soon followed after; but, to
our astonishment, Malcolm was not of the party. "My friends," exclaimed
Bradley, "a sad disaster; the best part of the gold is gone--lost
beyond a doubt." "Lost!" said I, expecting some treachery on the part
of Bradley and Don Luis; "How? I don't believe it; I never will believe
it." Bradley gave me an angry look, but said nothing.

"Where's Malcolm?" exclaimed I. "Dead by this time, I am afraid,"
replied Bradley. "Good God!" I exclaimed aloud, and involuntarily
muttered to myself, "Then you have murdered him." I noticed Bradley
examined the countenances of the whole party by turns, and, as my eye
followed his, I saw that every one looked sullen and angry. He, too,
evidently saw this, and said nothing more the whole evening. Don Luis,
however, volunteered the following explanation of the mystery.

He informed us that, after we had parted from them, they put their
horses into a quick trot, to escape as soon as possible into a more
agreeable-looking sort of country. They suspected some vagabond Indians
were hovering about, and as the ground they were travelling over
afforded too many opportunities of concealment to gentry of their
character, they were anxious to reach a more open district. Their road
lay, for several miles, over a succession of small hills, intersected
by valleys covered with stunted oak trees, and with here and there a
solitary pine. Just at a point, when they were winding round a ridge of
hills, which they imagined separated them from the Sacramento Valley,
having a small skirting of timber on their left hand, he, Don Luis,
being slightly in advance of Bradley and Malcolm, happened to turn his
head round, when he saw a horseman stealthily emerging from the
thicket, at a point a short distance in their rear. In a very few
moments another horseman joined the first, and before Don Luis could
give an alarm, the second rider, who, it seems, was an Indian, had
risen in his saddle and had flung out his lasso, which, whizzing
through the air true to its aim, descended over Malcolm's head and
shoulders. Don Luis, who saw all this, immediately jumped from his
horse, and, placing his finger on the trigger of his rifle, fired just
as the Indian was galloping away. The ball entered his horse's head,
when the beast was brought to a stand, and, in a second of time, rolled
over with its rider beneath it, just as the noose had tightened, and
Malcolm was being drawn off his horse to the ground. Bradley, who only
knew of the danger they were in by hearing the lasso whirl through the
air, immediately dismounted, and, like Don Luis, sheltered himself
behind his horse, while he took aim and fired. His never-failing rifle
brought down one of their enemies, a swarthy-looking man in the usual
Mexican sombrero, off his horse to the ground. In the twinkling of an
eye they led their horses behind some boulders of granite which
afforded them cover, and from behind which they saw four men come
charging down upon them. But Bradley and Don Luis, skilled in this kind
of warfare, had already stooped down and reloaded. Don Luis was the
first to let fly at the advancing party, but without success. His shot
was answered by a discharge of rifles from the enemy, which whistled
over his and Bradley's heads. Crack went Bradley's rifle again--"And
you would have thought," said Don Luis to us, "that the ball had split
into four pieces, and had given each man a tender touch, for they
wheeled round their horses in an instant, and galloped off, driving
Malcolm's horse before them, which we never saw again."

Don Luis then went on to say, that as soon as they saw the coast was
clear, they left their cover and sought out Malcolm, who was lying on
the ground with the lasso lightly pinioning his arms, and to all
appearance dead. On a closer examination, however, they found that he
still breathed, and also that he had been severely trampled on by some
of the horses of the robbers in their retreat. Bradley pulled out his
bowie-knife and cut the lasso in a few moments, when they tried to
raise him up, but found that the injuries he had sustained prevented
him from standing. He was, in fact, quite insensible. At that moment
they were alarmed by the sound of voices, and looking round they saw a
party of horsemen riding up at full speed from the direction of the
Sacramento. They gave themselves up for lost, but, to their delight,
the new-comers proved to be a party of miners, who hearing so many
rifle-reports in such rapid succession, had immediately hastened to the
spot. Don Luis supposed that the robbers had seen their approach, and
that this, and not the bullet from Bradley's rifle, had been the cause
of the scoundrels' precipitate retreat. They found the Indian's horse,
to the saddle of which the lasso was attached, quite dead. The Indian
himself had managed to crawl off, though doubtless much hurt, as Don
Luis saw the horse roll right over him. The body of the robber shot by
Bradley was found; life was quite extinct, the ball having passed
through his chest in a transverse direction, evidently penetrating the
heart. He was recognised by some of the miners--natives of the
country--as one of the disbanded soldiers of the late Californian army,
by name Tomas Maria Carillo; a man of the very worst character, who had
connected himself with a small band of depredators, whose occupation
was to lie in wait at convenient spots along the roads in the
neighbourhood of the sea' coast, and from thence to pounce upon and
plunder any unfortunate merchant or ranchero that might be passing
unprotected that way. The gang had now evidently abandoned the coast to
try their fortune in the neighbourhood of the mines, and, judging from
the accounts which one of the miners gave of the number of robberies
that had recently taken place about there, their mission had been
eminently successful.

"Our first care," continued Don Luis, "was to see to poor Malcolm, and
our next object was to go in pursuit of the ruffians. On intimating as
much to our new friends, to our surprise they declined to render us any
assistance. Their curiosity, which it seems was the only motive that
brought them towards us, had been satisfied, and I felt disgusted at
the brutality of their conduct when they coolly turned their horses'
heads round, and left us alone with our dying friend, not deigning
further to notice our appeals to them for assistance. No, they must set
to work again, digging and washing, and we might thank ourselves that
their coming up had saved _our_ lives; this was the burthen of their
reply. In their eager pursuit of gold, they had not a moment to spare
for the commonest offices of Christian charity. At length," said Don
Luis, "in answer to my passionate expostulations, backed by the offer
of any reward they might demand--which offer alone gave force to my
words--two of them consented to return in about an hour with a litter
to convey Malcolm to their camp.

"The litter they brought was formed of branches of trees tied together,
and covered thickly over with blankets. On this Malcolm was slowly
borne down the hill-side, until a rude shanty was reached. He was
carried inside, and we were fortunate enough to meet with a kind
Californian woman, who promised to attend on him while we returned here
for your assistance."

In reply to my inquiries, Don Luis said that he thought there were no
bones broken, but poor Malcolm was dreadfully bruised, and his flesh in
parts much lacerated. He feared, however, that he had experienced some
severe internal injuries. As it was utterly impossible for me to have
found my way to him that night, I determined to take a short nap and
hurry to him the following morning.

During Don Luis's recital I did not for one moment think of the gold
which we had lost; all my sympathies were with my poor friend. But, at
the conclusion of Don Luis's narrative, I saw that but few of my
associates participated in my grief. Don Luis was immediately assailed
with inquiries rudely addressed to him in reference to the missing
gold. In reply, he stated that we all knew that Malcolm carried in his
saddle-bags the great bulk of the gold they were conveying to San
Francisco; and that, of course, when the robbers drove off the horse,
the gold went with it. "It is the doctor you have to thank for that,"
growled out Bradley; and though I could not see the matter in this
light, still I could not help thinking of my own distrustful
disposition, which, in reality, had been the cause of making Malcolm a
party to the conveyance of the treasure; this, in fact, had in all
probability sacrificed my friend's life. I thought of his poor wife and
children in Oregon, who would bewailing in vain for his return, which
he, poor follow, had delayed so long, in the hope of going back to them
laden with wealth. Throughout the whole of the night most of the party
remained gathered around the camp-fire-now in sullen silence, and now
expressing their bitter dissatisfaction at the arrangements which had
led to the day's misfortune. And when the first faint light of daybreak
showed over the tall peaks of the snowy mountains, it discovered us
looking haggard and dejected, alike wearied and disgusted with
everything around.


  The stock of gold remaining weighed and shared
  Squabbling over it
  The party separate
  The Author and others start off
  They meet with Lacosse and the trapper
  Lacosse's explanation
  Arrive at Sutter's
  Purchase flour at eighty-five dollars a barrel
  Camps of miners
  A gold-washing colony
  Encamped for the night
  Horses and flour missing in the morning
  Visit a big bony American
  A hole threatened in their skulls
  How quarrels are settled
  Lacosse promises to join the party at Sutter's
  The march resumes
  Arrive at Malcolm's shanty
  The doctor prescribes for his patient
  Malcolm's first idea of the lasso
  The party leave for Sutter's.

We made a hasty meal from our scanty stock of provisions on the morning
of the 6th, and directly it was over--just as I was about saddling my
horse, to start off to visit poor Malcolm--Don Luis informed me that
our companions seemed all to be of opinion that it would be best to
share the stock of gold still remaining at once, when those that
preferred it could make their way to the settlements, and the others
could continue working, if they pleased, on their own account. I had no
objection to offer to this proposition, and the gold was all collected
together and weighed. Bradley undertook the charge of Lacosse's share,
and I was requested to convey Malcolm's to him. Altogether we scraped
up nearly forty-two pounds weight; for, besides the gold which Don Luis
and Bradley had in their saddle-bags, there were a few pounds more
belonging to the general stock. This had to be divided equally, for the
gold we had brought from Weber's Creek had been confided to Malcolm's
charge in a separate bag. It gave exactly four pounds two ounces a
man--value seven hundred dollars. This, with six hundred and fifty
dollars, my share of the gold deposited with Captain Sutter, and the
dust, scales, and lumps, arising from my share of the sale of the
cradles, and the produce at the Mormon diggings, before Lacosse and
Biggs joined us, would amount, in the whole, to over fifteen hundred

The greater part of the morning was taken up with squabbles respecting
the weighing of the gold. I took no part in it, and was content to
receive just what was allotted to me. I called McPhail aside, and asked
him what it was he intended doing. He replied, that if any of the
others would join him, he would start in pursuit of the men who had
plundered us. He was sorry the old trapper was not here, as, with his
assistance, he felt certain the scoundrels might be ferreted out.
Feeling that the journey to poor Malcolm was too dangerous a one to be
attempted alone, I was compelled to wait until I could prevail on some
of the party to join me. Don Luis, José, Bradley, McPhail, and myself,
at length arranged to start off. Biggs, who was now quite well,
preferred waiting behind a few days longer. Neither Bradshaw nor
Bowling were sufficiently recovered to travel. Story determined to wait
until they were well enough to accompany him. I hardly liked the notion
of leaving these four men behind--only two, or at most three, of them
able to protect themselves in the event of their being attacked; still
they did not seem to fear the danger: though, even if they had, most of
us had grown so selfish and unaccommodating, that I don't think they
would have met with much sympathy.

It was an hour beyond noon when we were in readiness to start. We took
two of the baggage-horses with us, to carry the tent-poles and
covering, and a few utensils. Our personal baggage was packed on the
horses we rode. Bradley and Don Luis rode in advance, José followed
with the baggage-horses, and McPhail and myself brought up the rear. We
had not proceeded more than four miles on the trail when we saw a
couple of horsemen some distance ahead; advancing towards us. As soon
as we were within a couple of hundred yards of each other, we at once
recognised them to be Lacosse and the old trapper. Urging our horses
into a smart trot, we soon arrived alongside of them; and, on inquiring
what it was that had caused them to remain so long at Sutter's, and
also how it was that they had neither the baggage-horses nor,
apparently, any provisions with them, Lacosse gave us this explanation.

He stated that after leaving the camp, they struck the Sacramento River
that night, and succeeded in reaching the upper settlements towards
evening on the following day. The next morning they pursued their
journey and arrived at Sutter's Fort about sundown; they encamped near
here for the night. Flour was as much as eighty-five dollars a-barrel,
and everything in the way of provisions was in the same proportion.
They purchased a stock of flour, and, packing their horses, moved off
the same day. In the evening they encamped some fifteen miles up the
Sacramento, near the mouth of the Feather River, and within a hundred
yards of the spot where the Indian village existed which Captain Sutter
had destroyed; the whole circumstances connected with which we had
already heard from the old trapper. They resumed the journey early on
the following morning, and by the evening had made about twenty-five
miles, when they rested for the night near one of the little camps of
miners, which they found scattered about the valley every few miles
along the route. The next day they pushed forward, and found those
encampments much less numerous--only one or two were passed throughout
the entire day. Just after sundown, however, they saw by the fires up
the hills quite a little colony of gold-washers, which they moved
towards; and, after purchasing some provisions at a store recently
opened there, for which they paid a most exorbitant price, they
securely tethered their horses to stakes they had driven in the ground,
and encamped for the night. They did not think it necessary to keep
watch, but when they awoke in the morning they found the baggage-horses
had been driven off, and their packs stolen. The horses they had been
riding on were just as they had left them over night. The trail-marks
around the camp were too numerous to make anything out of them.

On making inquiries at several of the tents, they were treated in a
very cavalier sort of manner. No one, of course, knew anything about
their horses and packs, and one big bony American even threatened to
put a rifle-ball into them unless they left his shanty. This was rather
too much for them to swallow quietly, so they rated the fellow in round
terms; but he very coolly reached his rifle down from a shelf above
him, and told them that he would give them time to consider whether
they would move off or not while he examined his flint, and if they
were not gone by that time, he would make a hole in each of their
skulls, one after the other. Finding that he was coolly preparing to
carry out his threat, they made their exit, and found some ten or
twelve people gathered together outside. From one of them Lacosse
learnt that this man had shot two people since he had fixed himself at
this spot, and that he was a terror to most of the miners in the camp.
It appears to have been no uncommon thing among them for a man to
settle a quarrel by severely disabling his adversary. There were
several people at work down by the river, with their arms in slings,
who had received serious injuries in quarrels with some of their

They thought it best to escape from such a state of things with as
little delay as possible, and immediately mounted their horses and
pursued their journey. That night they took good care to encamp far
enough off from any of the gold-finding fraternity.

It was now our turn to explain to Lacosse the reason of our return to
the settlements, and the unfortunate circumstances that had led to it.
Ho was disappointed enough at the intelligence. He said that he should
go on to the fort and collect his baggage together, and would, if
possible, join Don Luis, Bradley, and McPhail at Sutter's, and see
whether any plan could be arranged on for recovering our stolen
treasure. The trapper was to accompany him, and it was agreed that
either Bradley or McPhail should await their arrival at Sutter's Fort.

We resumed our journey, and at sundown fixed our tent at the bottom of
a steep hollow, and supped off the moderate rations we had brought with
us from the camp. The night was quite frosty, and when I awoke in the
morning, my limbs were numbed with cold. We prepared our coffee, and
partook of our slight breakfast, then, saddling the horses, resumed our
march. It was late in the evening when we reached the rude shanty to
which poor Malcolm had been conveyed a couple of days since. It was an
anxious moment to me; but I was gratified to find that he had so far
recovered from the injuries he had sustained as to be able to sit up
and to take some little nourishment. He told me that beyond the severe
bruises with which his body was covered, and a wound in the fleshy part
of his leg, he did not think he was otherwise injured. Throughout the
whole of yesterday he had experienced the most violent pains in his
head; but a comfortable sleep into which he had fallen last night had,
to all appearances, entirely deprived him of them. He was troubled
though, he told me, with a sickening sensation, which made him loathe
anything in the shape of food. I at once prescribed such remedies as I
thought necessary to be applied immediately, and left him in charge of
his kind nurse until the morning.

I was at his bedside shortly after the sun rose, and watched by him
until he awoke Another good night's rest had greatly benefited him.
During the day, recurring to his misfortune, he told me that when the
lasso first fell over his shoulders, he fancied for the moment that he
was in the gripe of some wild beast, but immediately he felt himself
drawn from his horse, the truth became apparent to him. He was stunned
by the fall, and lay insensible on the ground, quite unconscious that
the horse of one of the robbers had trampled upon him, as had evidently
been the case.

Don Luis, Bradley, McPhail and José left us about noon on their way to
Sutter's Fort. I promised to rejoin them in a few days, if Malcolm so
far recovered as no longer to be in need of my services. I was in great
hopes of such a result, as he showed evident signs of improvement since
I saw him the previous day.


  The gold district
  Sickness and selfishness
  The dead become the prey of the wolf
  Malcomb's gradual recovery
  The kindness of his nurse
  A malaria
  Life and property alike insecure
  The wealthy gold-finder laid in wait for
  Bodies in the river
  Gold for a pillow
  Brandy at a dollar a-dram
  The big bony American again
  Sutter's Fort
  Intelligence of Lacosse
  Intelligence of the robbers
  Sweeting's Hotel again
  A meeting
  "El Capitan"
  Desertions from the ships
  Andreas' offer to a captain
  The first Alcalde gone to the mines
  The second Alcalde follows his superior
  Start for Monterey in pursuit of Andreas
  Board the vessels in port
  A deserter arrested
  Leave Monterey
  Cross the coast range
  Meet with civilized Indians
  Intelligence of the robbers
  Indian horse-stealers
  Continue the pursuit
  Abandon it and return to Monterey.

I stayed with Malcolm throughout the next few days, and spent a good
part of my time out of doors among the gold-washers, but still I felt
no inclination to take part in their labours. Fever was very prevalent,
and I found that more than two-thirds of the people at this settlement
were unable to move out of their tents. The other third were too
selfish to render them any assistance. The rainy season was close at
hand, when they would have to give over work, but meanwhile they sought
after the gold as though all their hopes of salvation rested on their
success. I was told that deaths were continually taking place, and that
the living comrades of those whose eyes were closed in that last sleep
when "the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest,"
denied the poor corpses of their former friends a few feet of earth for
a grave, and left the bodies exposed for the wolf to prey upon.

In a couple of days Malcolm was sufficiently recovered no longer to
require my assistance. At his instigation, I took my departure towards
Sutter's Fort, where McPhail or Lacosse might perhaps still be waiting
for me. I felt that he was in good hands, and that his kind Californian
nurse and her husband would do all that they could for him. Their kind
treatment of my poor friend offered a striking contrast to the callous
selfishness around.

I journeyed by slow marches along the banks of the Sacramento, passing
several colonies of gold-finders on my way. At noon I halted at one of
these, and loitered some little time round about the camp. The
rapidly-decaying vegetation--here unusually rank--was producing a
malaria, and sickness was doing its ravages; but still the poor
infatuated people, or rather such of them as were not prevented by
positive inability, worked on until they sunk under the toil. Every one
seemed determined to labour as hard as possible for the few weeks left
before the rainy season set in, and the result was, that many of them
met their deaths. There were others, though, who sought to enrich
themselves with the shining gold by a quicker and, perhaps, less
dangerous process than all this weary toil.

According to the accounts I heard, life and property were alike
insecure. The report ran, that as soon as it became known that a man
had amassed a large amount of gold, he was watched and followed about
till an opportunity presented itself of quietly putting him out of the
way. There had been but few known deaths, but the number of persons who
had been missed, and whose own friends even had not thought it worth
while to go in search of them, was very large. In every case the man's
stock of gold was not to be found in his tent; still there was nothing
surprising in this, as every one made a point of carrying his gold
about him, no matter how heavy it might happen to be. One or two dead
bodies had been found floating in the river, which circumstance was
looked upon as indicative of foul play having taken place, as it was
considered that the poorest of the gold-finders carried fully a
sufficient weight of gold about them to cause their bodies to sink to
the bottom of the stream. Open attempts at robbery were rare; it was in
the stealthy night time that thieves prowled about, and, entering the
little tents, occupied by not more than perhaps a couple of miners,
neither of whom, in all probability, felt inclined to keep a weary
watch over their golden treasure, carried off as much of it as they
could lay their hands on. By way of precaution, however, almost every
one slept with their bag of gold underneath their pillow, having a
rifle or revolver within their reach.

That same night I reached the camp of gold-washers, where Lacosse and
the trapper had had their horses and packs of provisions stolen from
them. The robbery, I believe, was committed by men almost on the verge
of want, who thought it a more convenient way of possessing themselves
of a stock of provisions than performing a journey to the lower
settlements for that purpose would have been, and a cheaper way than
purchasing them here, where they run scarce, and where the price of
them is exorbitantly high. Other things are in proportion. Clothing of
any description is hardly to be had at any price, and the majority of
the miners go about in rags. Collected round a rude shanty, where
brandy was being dispensed at a dollar a-dram! I saw a group of ragged
gold-diggers, the greater part of them suffering from fever, paying
this exorbitant price for glass after glass of the fiery spirit, every
drop of which they consumed was only aggravating their illness, and, in
all probability, bringing them one step nearer to their grave.

The big bony American, who treated Lacosse and the trapper in such a
peremptory manner, and who seemed to be the terror of these diggings,
was pointed out to me. I learnt, however, that he had accumulated a
very large amount of gold, over sixteen thousand dollars' worth, it was
said; and his suspicions that parties were lying in wait to plunder him
of it was the cause of his acting as he had done. He thought they only
came to his shanty with an excuse, for the purpose of observing its
weak points, and that no doubt they had a scheme in their heads for
robbing him, either at night time, or while he was absent digging and
washing during the day. The men he had shot, it seems, were common
thieves--one, a deserter from the garrison at Monterey, and the other
belonging to a similar band of robbers to that by which our party had
been attacked, and our gold carried off.

I reached Sutter's Fort the next day, and found it like the most
crowded localities of some of our great cities, with the exception that
the bulk of the people we met with belonged to a totally different
race. I saw Captain Sutter for a few moments, when he informed me that
Mr. Bradley and his party had left a couple of days ago; and that a
gentleman, accompanied by a man named Joe White, who, as the Captain
said, used to trap for him before the gold fever came up, had been
making inquiries at the Fort respecting Mr. Bradley that very day. I at
once saw that this could be no other than Lacosse, and set off to see
if I could meet with him. After some search, I was fortunate enough to
discover him at the newly opened hotel here, where he had intended
stopping for the night. I remained with him and shared his room--a
little box not more than ten feet by twelve, or thereabouts; but we
considered ourselves fortunate in having obtained even that, the place
being tremendously crowded.

I heard from Lacosse that Captain Sutter had informed him that the
leader of the band of desperadoes who had plundered us had been seen
down at the Fort with some of his companions not more than ten days
ago. He was quite sure he was right in the man; for Tomas Maria, who
had been shot, belonged to his gang, and was, in fact, his chief
lieutenant. The name of El Capitan was Andreas Armjo; and Captain
Sutter said he recommended Bradley to make his way to San Francisco,
where, in all probability, he would meet with him, as when he left the
Fort he had taken the road towards the coast.

The next day we started off towards San Francisco, and, from inquiries
made on the road, found that we were on the correct track--Bradley, Don
Luis, McPhail, and José, having passed through a day or two previous.
We arrived at the end of our journey without meeting with any
adventures worth noting, and at once made our way to Sweeting's hotel,
glad to find it one of the few houses in this town that were not shut
up. Here we met with our friends, who had been there now nearly two
days, and were then on the point of starting off in pursuit of Andreas
and his comrades. We learned from them, that directly they heard the
important information which Captain Sutter had communicated to them,
they started off in pursuit, but not with any expectation of coming up
with the gentlemen they were in search of before arriving at San
Francisco. They had constant tidings of them all along the route, as El
Capitan was too well known to many a poor ranchero whom he had
plundered of the dollars produced by the sale of his hides, while on
his journey home from the sea-coast.

When they arrived at San Francisco, they made inquiries whether any
ships had recently left the harbour, and were glad to find that there
was not a merchant vessel in port with enough hands on board to weigh
the anchor. Every ship had been more or less deserted by its crews, who
had hastened off for a few weeks' labour at the gold-diggings. They
found, however, that Andreas Armjo and his men had been making
inquiries on board of several of the vessels to ascertain when any of
them left port. On finding none were sufficiently manned to do so,
they offered the captain of one schooner a thousand dollars to land
them at any port in Mexico he pleased, and said they would themselves
help to work the ship. The captain, however, declined the offer.

After receiving this intelligence, they went to the house of the first
alcalde, to consult with him on what steps should be taken to arrest
the robbers, who were then doubtless at some place near the coast. They
found, however, that he had gone to the mines with the rest of the
people, and they made their way to the residence of the second alcalde,
in the hope of being more fortunate; but he too had gone to the mines
with his superior. Further inquiries satisfied them that there was not
an officer of justice left in the town of San Francisco, and they had
therefore determined to make their way forthwith to Monterey, as, in
all probability, the gang would proceed there in the hope of meeting
with a ship.

Lacosse and myself determined to accompany them, and the old trapper
volunteered his services, which were accepted. We obtained fresh horses
from Sweeting, and set off in gallant style, determined to shorten the
distance by hard riding. It was early on Wednesday morning when we
arrived at Monterey; and McPhail and Bradley proceeded to board all the
ships in the bay, while Don Luis, Lacosse, and myself made inquiries
about the town. We soon learnt that Andreas Armjo and his party had been
paying it a visit; and, moreover, one of the gang, who thought he had
disguised himself so as not to be recognised, had been seized as a
deserter from the garrison here. The others were not interfered with,
as there was no specific charge out against them. Our robbery had, of
course, not been heard of here. Don Luis and myself, after having
dispatched Lacosse to communicate this intelligence to Bradley and
McPhail, sought an interview with Colonel Mason, and, on informing him
of the robbery and the circumstances attending it, received from him an
order to see the soldier who was then under arrest. By promises of not
proceeding against him, for any share he might have had in the robbery,
we induced him to confess the whole circumstances connected with it,
and also to inform us of the route intended to be taken by El Capitan
and the two others of the gang. This, it seems, was along the great
Spanish Trail to Santa Fé.

On rejoining our companions, we decided to continue here the remainder
of the day, and to start off the next morning in pursuit. We informed
Colonel Mason of the circumstance, and he stated that he would have
furnished us with a guard to accompany us, if he did not feel certain
that the men would desert to the mines directly they got outside the

At four o'clock the next morning we commenced the journey, each of
us taking a stock of provisions sufficient to last for a fortnight;
although we hoped, and fully expected, that we should be back to
Monterey several days before that time had expired. It was purely a
question of hard riding. Andreas and his party had started, as far
as we could learn, three days in advance of us, and no doubt knew
the track better than the old trapper who had undertaken to
accompany us as guide. He had never penetrated further than the foot
of the Sierra, so that if we were compelled to cross the mountains
we should have to seek for some Indians to guide us on our course.
By pressing our horses hard we succeeded in crossing the hills of
the coast range that night, and encamped some slight way down the
descent, in as sheltered a spot as we could manage to select. The
night was quite frosty, but we made up a blazing fire, and, well
wrapped up in our serapes, slept till morning, without feeling much
inconvenience from the cold. Next day we struck the river of the
lakes, and found it thickly hemmed in with timber along its whole
course. We soon found a fording place, and encamped at night a few
miles from the east bank. The following morning we fell in with some
civilized Indians, who informed us, in answer to our inquiries, that
a party of three whites passed along the trail the evening before
last, and that they would have encamped not far from this spot.

These Indians, Don Luis informed me, had all of them been attached
to the Californian Missions; but, since the downfall of these
establishments, they had moved across the coast range, and had
located themselves in the neighbourhood of the Tule Lakes,
subsisting chiefly on horseflesh. To gratify their appetites,
however, instead of giving chase to the number of wild horses--here
called mustangs--that are scattered over the extensive prairies in
the neighbourhood of the lakes, they adopt a much lazier method of
supplying their larder. This is, to make predatory excursions across
the mountains, and to drive off a large herd of tame horses,
belonging to some poor ranchero, at a time; these they slaughter,
and subsist on as long as the flesh lasts, when they set out again
on a similar expedition. Sometimes they are pursued, and, if
overtaken, butchered forthwith; but, in general, they manage to
escape some little distance into the interior, where they are safe
not to be followed.

We put spurs into our horses, and soon cleared the marshy ground
intervening between us and the Fork, which we forded, and rode for
several miles through a country thickly covered over with oak trees
and intersected by numerous small rivulets. Large herds of elk were
frequently started, and during the whole day their shrill whistle
was continually being heard.

We encamped to-night without having heard anything more of Andreas
Armjo and his companions. Several parties of Indians we met a few
hours before sundown stated that they had not seen any white men
along the trail. I felt disposed, as far as I was myself concerned,
to give over the pursuit, as my horse was already worn out by the
journey; but my companions would not listen to it, and determined,
at any rate, to see what would result from following it up briskly
during the next day. We had all noticed that there were no new signs
of horses that had been shod passing along the trail, but Bradley
was of opinion that the party would be mounted on unshod beasts, as
very few of the native Californians had their horses shod, unless
they were going a journey across a rough broken country.

Next day we fell in with several more parties of Indians, from whom
we learnt that the men we were in pursuit of were full two days
journey before us. One party, who had seen them encamped the
preceding evening more than forty miles ahead, told us that they had
inquired of them where the trail turned off to Los Angelos. As this
town was at least five or six days' journey distant, and as the
Sierra had to be crossed to reach it, we concluded among ourselves
that it would be best for us to return to Monterey forthwith. This
decision was readily come to, as there was now no hope of overtaking
the party, and every step we proceeded we were getting into a more
hostile country. In all probability, if we had pursued them to Los
Angelos, we should have discovered that they had struck off on to
the great Spanish Trail, as was their original intention, or else
have found that they had been to Los Angelos and had taken their
departure for some other place.

We therefore turned our horses' heads, and retraced our steps
towards the coast in no merry mood. We rode along, in fact, in
sullen silence, only broken to mutter out our expressions of
disappointment at the escape of those who had robbed us of the
fruits of so many months of toil, exposure, and hardship. We
encountered nothing very remarkable during our three days' journey
to Monterey. There were the same prairies to cross, the same
thickets to penetrate, and the same streams to ford. Herds of elk
and mustangs were continually seen upon the heights, and every now
and then we met with some small parties of Indians, many of the
chiefs dressed in the Spanish fashion. We were too well armed, and
too many in number, for any of them to venture to attack us, had
they been so inclined; but generally their intentions seemed to be
perfectly pacific.


  The Author and his friends part company
  Their regrets at the separation
  Friendship in the wilderness
  Friendship at a supper
  The Author finds himself alone
  Monterey deserted
  High wages
  Officers' servants not to be obtained
  A few arrivals from the mines
  Stores shut, houses blocked up, and ships left defenceless.

We had previously determined, on arriving at the sea-coast, to part
company. There was now no object for keeping together in a party, and
our future plans were, of course, very undecided. It was, therefore,
clearly advisable that we should, at least for the present, separate.
This resolution was not come to without something like a pang--a pang
which I sincerely felt, and which I believe was more or less
experienced by us all. We had lived for four months in constant
companionship--we had undergone hardships and dangers together, and a
friendship, more vivid than can well be imagined in civilized lands to
have been the growth of so short a period, had sprung up betwixt us.
There had been a few petty bickerings between us, and some unjust
suspicions on my part in respect to Bradley; but these were all
forgotten. Common sense, however, dictated the dissolution of our
party. When we reached Monterey, we went to an inferior sort of hotel,
but the best open; and the following day we arranged the division of
the proceeds arising from the sale of the gold that Bradley had left
with Captain Sutter for consignment here. The same night we had a
supper, at which a melancholy species of joviality was in the
ascendant, and the next day shook hands and parted. Don Luis went back
to his own pleasant home, and Bradley started for San Francisco. As
for the others, I hardly know what were their destinations. All I know
is, that on waking the next morning, I found that I was alone.

After breakfast I walked about the town. Like San Francisco, Monterey
has been nearly deserted. Everybody has gone to the diggings, leaving
business, ships, and stores, to take care of themselves. The persons
who remain are either persons carrying on profitable branches of
commerce, the very existence of which requires the presence of
principals upon the spot, and their clerks and servants, who have been
tempted by high wages to stay. To give an idea of the rate of
remuneration paid, I may mention that salesmen and shopmen have been
receiving at the rate of from two thousand three hundred to two
thousand seven hundred dollars, with their board, per annum. Mere boys
get extravagant salaries in the absence of their seniors; and the
lowest and most menial offices are paid for at a rate which only such a
wonderful influx of gold would render credible.

But, even with the inducement of this high pay, it was found
exceedingly difficult to retain the services of persons engaged in
commercial and domestic capacities. I learned from Colonel Mason that
the officers in garrison at Monterey had not been able for two months
to command the assistance of a servant. Indeed, they had been actually
obliged either to cook their own dinners, or to go without. Every one
had taken his turn in the culinary department, and even Colonel Mason
had not been exempted.

The prevalence of sickness at the mines has sent a few people back
here; but, with the commencement of the rainy season, I anticipate that
there will be plenty of labour in the market, and that its value will
become correspondingly depreciated. In the meantime, the general aspect
of the town is forlorn and deserted; stores are shut, houses blocked
up, and in the harbour ships ride solitary and defenceless.


Letter from the Author to his Brother in England.

MONTEREY, _October 11th_, 1848.

DEAR GEORGE,--I take advantage of the departure of a courier sent by
Colonel Mason, the United States Governor of California, to
Washington, with dispatches, to let you know what I have been about
during the five months which have elapsed since I last wrote you. Long
before you receive this you will have heard in England of the
extraordinary occurrences which have taken plate out here. My last
letter, which I hope you received, told you of the failure of the
emigration scheme to Oregon, and of my intention of leaving that
barren desert-like place, the first possible opportunity. A friend of
mine, of whom I have before spoken to you, namely, Mr. Malcolm, a
Scotchman, and a thorough practical agriculturist, was anxious to
shift his quarters to California, the soil of which country was
represented by every one who had visited it as of extraordinary
fertility. We had heard of the war that was going on between the
United States and Mexico having extended itself to that country, and
Mr. Malcolm prevailed on me to accompany him to San Francisco, where
he thought I might manage to obtain an appointment in the United
States army. We made the voyage together, and the accompanying
diary--of which more by-and-by--commences with an account of our first
setting out.

But to return to California. I assure you it is hardly possible for any
accounts of the gold mines, and of what I may call gold gravel and
sand, to be exaggerated. The El Dorado of the early voyagers to America
has really been discovered; and what its consequences may be, not only
upon this continent, but upon the world, wiser heads--heads more versed
than mine is in monetary science--must tell. There is much speculation
here as to the effects which the late wonderful discovery will produce
in the States and the old country. Of course we expect to be inundated
with emigrants, coming, I suppose, from every part of the world, and
truly, for all I can tell, there will be gold enough for all.

And now, the first question you will ask me is, whether I have made my
fortune? I reply, my old bad luck has not forsaken me. I always seem to
come in for monkey's allowance--more kicks than halfpence. Three months
ago I thought my fortune was made, and that I might come home a South
American nabob. Nothing of the kind. Here I was, almost on the spot,
when the first news of the gold was received. I have worked hard, and
undergone some hardships, and, thanks to the now almost lawless state
of this country, I have been deprived of the great mass of my savings,
and must, when the dry season comes round again, set to work almost
anew. I have but fourteen hundred dollars' worth of the precious metal
remaining, and, with the rate of prices which now universally prevails
here, that will not keep me much over a couple of months. My own case,
though, is that of many others. As the number of diggers and miners
augmented, robberies and violence became frequent. At first, when we
arrived at the Mormon diggings, for example, everything was tranquil.
Every man worked for himself, without disturbing his neighbour. Now the
scene is widely changed indeed. When I was last there, as you will see
by my diary, things were bad enough; but now, according to the reports
we hear, no man, known to be in possession of much gold, dare say, as
he lays down his head at night, that he will ever rise from his pillow.
The fact is, that there is no executive government of any strength here
to put an end to this state of things. The country is almost a
wilderness, whereof Indians are the principal inhabitants. The small
force Colonel Mason has here has been thinned very materially by
desertions, and the fidelity of those that remain is, according to the
opinion of their commanding officer, not to be over much depended on.

Of course, as you may expect, I am naturally much cast down at the turn
which matters have taken--I mean as regards my own misfortune. It is
heart-breaking to be robbed by a set of villains of what you have
worked so hard for, and have undergone so much to obtain. I am in
hopes, however, that my next gold campaign may be a more, successful
one. I dare say there have been plenty of accounts of the doings in
California in the newspapers. As, however, not only you, but Anna and
Charley, and my kind friends Mr. and Mrs. ---- and Miss ----, and many
others, will, I am sure, be glad to know something about my own
personal adventures, I send you a rough diary of what I have seen and
done. I hardly know whether you will be able to make the whole of it
out, for I have interlined it in many parts, and my writing never was
of the most legible character. You know I have always been in the
habit, ever since I first went abroad, of jotting down some record of
my movements, scanty enough, but still forming a memorial which it is
pleasant to look back upon. As, however, the gold affair is not only a
great feature in a man's life, but in the history of our times, I made
pretty full jottings of my adventures every few days; and since I
returned here, I have spent several days in expanding them, and adding
to them a few extra particulars which I thought would be of interest. I
don't know whether you will care to wade through such a bundle of
information. The MS. when I got it all together quite frightened me,
and I hardly liked to ask Colonel Mason to transmit such a bulky parcel
for me; but you know our couriers over here travel with quite a
cavalcade of horses, and a few pounds more would not be thought much
of. However, as it may prove interesting to yourself--S---- I know will
read it through with pleasure and delight in it--I dispatch it for you
to do as you like with. It will be forwarded to a young friend of mine
in New York, Mr. Thorne, to whom I have written, requesting him to
transmit the package to England by one of the monthly steamers. This
will save you a heavy charge for postage, which, I dare say, you would
not thank me for.

You can't conceive, my dear brother, how often I have wished you were
out here with me. Your engineering talents would have been invaluable
in inventing some method of procuring the gold dust, or rather of
separating it from the soil, which would have been much more effectual
than the rude way in which we went to work. At the same time, I am now
thankful you are at home. It is easy to get gold here, but it is very
difficult to keep it. In fact, after all, the affair is a hazardous
lottery; and those who may succeed in getting off with their pounds of
gold dust and flakes to Europe, or to the States, will be the few who
will win the great prizes.

In my diary, you will find a very detailed account of our various
operations and successes. The first place we made for was on the south
bank of the Americans' River, and when the Lower or Mormon diggings, as
they are called, got over-crowded, we marched off further up the river,
which soon divides itself into two branches, forming the North and
South Forks. We reached the saw-mill, where the discovery was first
made, and worked there some time; but finding inconveniences in the
way, and hearing of another station, we started again. This new place
is called Weber's Creek, and sometimes Rock Creek, and is a small
stream running into the North Fork of the river. We being upon the
southern bank of the South Fork, and Weber's Creek running into the
North Fork at the north bank, we had to ford both branches of the
stream to get to our new station, which we found very productive; the
gold being more plentiful than in the lower diggings, and discovered in
short veins, and in lumps amongst the rocks of the neighbouring
ravines. We should probably not have gone any further than Weber's
Creek--I sincerely wish we had not--but a good deal of fever and ague
got about. The sun was terribly hot in those deep valleys all day, and
the nights chill and damp. After some weeks here, then, we got
restless, and set off once more, directing our course three days'
journey to the north, to a place upon the Bear River, where we were led
to expect not only plenty of gold, but a better temperature and a
healthier climate. It was after we reached Bear Valley that our
reverses began. It is utterly a savage country, where a strong arm and
the rifle form the only code of laws. Up to our appearance on Bear
River, we had got on with very few adventures, and considerable profit;
but now came misfortunes. I shall not trouble you with them here: they
are written at full length in the batch of MS. I send.

I hardly know what to do with myself here until the dry season comes
round. The rains have not begun yet, but they may be expected from day
to day, and then I suppose we shall have a vast influx from the
interior, as it is quite impossible to camp out in the rainy season. Of
course the price of any article of food and clothing will be excessive,
and I almost think that the best thing for me to do, when the seamen
come down, and the ships are manned again, will be to try and get a
passage to the Sandwich Islands, which are not very far off, and in
which it is probable that living is reasonable. I could easily get back
to the mainland in time for the next dry season. What changes may take
place by that time, however, I know not. The States may claim the land,
and the gold within it, and send an army to enforce their rights. If
so, a terrible scene of tumult and disorder may be expected. All the
lawless adventurers who are scattered about this part of the continent
are flocking down to the gold regions, so are the Indians; and I feel
pretty sure that Jonathan will have a tough battle to fight if he wants
to keep all the bullion to himself.

I suppose that in England the people will be pricking up their ears
when they learn what we are doing here, and that we shall have plenty
of emigrants from home. I hardly like to advise upon the subject here;
there certainly is a wonderful amount of gold. What the chances of
obtaining it and getting it taken home may be next season, I know not.
At all events, the pursuit will be difficult in the extreme, and
tolerably dangerous also.

Yours affectionately,


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