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Title: Narrative of the March of Co. A, Engineers from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to Fort Bridger, Utah, and Return - May 6 to October 3, 1858
Author: Seville, William P.
Language: English
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Narrative of the March of Co. A, Engineers from Fort Leavenworth,
Kansas, to Fort Bridger, Utah, and Return

_MAY 6 TO OCTOBER 3, 1858_

A Contribution to the History of the United States Corps of Engineers


_Artificer in the Company during the March
Captain, First Delaware Volunteer Infantry
in the Civil War_

Revised under the Direction of the Commandant
Engineer School, United States Army


First Lieut. JOHN W. N. SCHULZ
_Corps of Engineers_


Introductory Note


In the spring of 1858, when the Government met with opposition from the
Mormon community, in relation to the appointment of Mr. Cummings as
Governor of the Territory, and Brigham Young's corps of Danites was
being recruited and drilled for active service, it was decided that a
military force should be sent to the seat of the trouble to maintain
the National authority. The expedition numbered several thousand
men--cavalry, artillery, and infantry.

As the grass along what was known as the "Emigrant Route" had been
almost entirely consumed by the numerous mule and ox-trains which had
passed over the Plains during the preceding year, it was found
necessary to make a new road, from the Platte River to the Green, over
which the Army could march.

To perform this duty with sufficient speed to avoid delaying the
advancing columns, sixty-four selected men, under First Lieut. James C.
Duane and Second Lieut. Edward P. Alexander, were taken from Company A,
United States Engineers, then stationed at the Military Academy at West
Point, N.Y. Leaving a detachment at West Point, the Company started on
this service March 31st, 1858, going by rail and steamboat as far as
Fort Leavenworth, Kans. Here it remained in barracks until fully
equipped to encounter the vicissitudes of the Western Plains. The march
to Utah, proper, was begun the 6th of May, 1858.

Narrative of the March

_May 6_ (Thursday). With bright anticipations of beholding many a novel
and interesting scene, and with high expectations of enjoying the new
and eventful life which was about to open before us, we left Fort
Leavenworth behind on the 6th day of May, 1858. Before us lay a long
march--twelve hundred miles, we were told--across a wild, and, except
for the first two hundred miles, a desert and uninhabited country.

Eight wagons, each drawn by six sturdy mules, drove up in front of our
quarters, and, after receiving their baggage, started for the first
camping ground at Salt Creek, a distance of about four miles. The
wagons were accompanied by a detachment to serve as escort and to pitch
the tents.

The remainder of the Company followed an hour or two later, in heavy
marching order. Except for the observance of discipline, and the order
of our marching, no one would have supposed us to be an organized
portion of the United States Army. We each wore a white felt hat and a
gray or blue woolen blouse, or hunting shirt. There were belt, bayonet,
haversack, canteen, pistol, a large clasp knife--all surmounted by
knapsack and rifle. To we Eastern soldiers this tout ensemble seemed
ludicrous enough.

We pitched our first camp, manifesting considerable delicacy about
taking our meals _al fresco_, and being very particular to select the
driest and softest spots on which to make our beds.

_May 7_ (Friday). Reveille was at an early hour. We stowed our cumbrous
knapsacks with the rest of the baggage in the wagons, and then set out
on our march with lighter bodies and gayer hearts. The day's journey
was only sixteen miles, but the roads were in poor condition from the
breaking up of winter, and to us, unaccustomed to continuous marching,
it seemed an endless distance. Several times during the day we were
obliged to turn ourselves into mules, and assist in pulling the wagons
out of mud holes. The night's camp was at Oak Grove.

_May 8_ (Saturday). The next day we went as far as Ravine Spring, six
miles. We made but a short march, owing to the miserable condition of
the roads.

_May 9_ (Sunday). On the 9th, although Sunday, we made a long march, as
we expected to overtake our provision train, which was some distance in
advance of us. We failed in the undertaking, however, although marching
twenty-one miles.

Where we were encamped, that night, on the Second Branch of Grasshopper
Creek, we could distinctly hear the hungry howl of the prairie wolf, a
new and amusing music to us.

_May 10_ (Monday). The first day of the new week, Monday, the 10th, we
trudged our weary way over twelve and three-quarter miles of muddy,
dreary, rolling prairie, and encamped on Walnut Creek. Here we
discovered the commissary train (of which we have been in search),
consisting of about a hundred and forty wagons.

_May 11_ (Tuesday). Tuesday, the 11th, we remained at Walnut Creek, in
order to better the crossing of the creek and to consolidate the whole
command. Four companies of the Sixth Infantry (Companies G, A, D, and
K) came up in the morning, and the men looked on while we cut away the
banks of the stream and prepared brush to throw into the soft places.
In the afternoon, all crossed the creek and camped together on the far

_May 12_ (Wednesday). We marched sixteen miles, camping four miles
beyond Oak Point. This was the first day the whole command marched
together, and it was plainly evident that the crack marching regiment
was making strong efforts to fill our sick list by fast marching. We
attributed the attempt to outmarch us to their ignorance of the spirit
and personnel that made up Co. A, Engineers.

_May 13_ (Thursday). We went six miles beyond the Fourth Branch of
Grasshopper Creek, a distance of fifteen miles. We had tattoo a little
after sunset, in order to allow a long rest to those who wished it.

_May 14_ (Friday). We reached Vermilion Creek, after a very
disagreeable march of twenty-one miles. The air was raw and cold, and
most of the day a cold wind blew directly in our faces. The roads were
deeply cut with ruts, and the grass was filled with water. The Sixth
was ahead at the beginning, but we passed them on the march; and
although they tried once or twice to regain their position, they failed
to do so.

_May 15_ (Saturday). Another cold day. We marched twenty miles, to the
Big Blue River. Overcoats were worn, and we were glad to keep our hands
in our pockets. About 11 a.m. we were treated to a heavy hailstorm, the
stones coming rattling about our ears as large as marbles.

There is a ghost of a village here, which the residents have the
presumption to call "Palmetto City." It consists of a blacksmith shop,
a tavern, two stores, and five or six log houses; and boasts of a
weekly paper, just large enough to make a good cigar-lighter. Sugar
crackers sell at 35 cents per pound, and whiskey, of doubtful quality,
at 75 cents per quart.

_May 16_ (Sunday). A day of rest for everybody except us. It rained all
day. The Infantry lay in their tents and watched the Engineers at work
with pick and shovel. We went to the river crossing, and employed the
old remedy, brush and digging, to make it passable. After returning to
camp we were each treated to a gill of whiskey, which, we were
informed, it was a part of our duty to drink. Some of the men brought
wood and made a large camp fire, and stood by it to dry themselves in
the rain.

_May 17_ (Monday). The next day we resumed our march, and encamped at
Cottonwood Creek, only eleven and three-quarter miles from the Big

_May 18_ (Tuesday). We went on to Turkey Creek, twenty-one and
three-quarter miles. It was quite a warm day, and several of the men
had recourse to the wagons, on account of lameness. Some wolves were
seen prowling about during the march. Lieutenant Alexander fired at one
or two, but the distance was such, apparently, that the animals were
only amused by the whistling of the bullets. Part of the Company
repaired the crossing of the creek this evening.

_May 19_ (Wednesday). The waters of Big Sandy Creek, which we reached
the next day, after a march of twenty-one and a half miles, were very
limpid, an unusual thing in this country. We nearly all took a wash.

_May 20_ (Thursday). We encamped at a place called "West Point on Blue
River," after a march of nineteen and three-quarter miles. Considerable
game was within sight to-day, among which were several antelopes.
Attempts were made to capture some, but we only succeeded in bringing a
wolf into camp.

_May 21_ (Friday). We went to the Little Blue River, twenty-one and
three-quarter miles. The heat to-day was very great. The perspiration
oozed at every pore--and the dust collected on our faces and in our
eyes, filled our noses, and encrusted our lips. Lieutenant Alexander
and Sergeant Pierce saw some buffaloes, and went out to shoot one; but,
provokingly enough, some mischievous Puck was officious enough to turn
them into oxen just in time to disappoint the hunters and to save the
lives of the animals.

_May 22_ (Saturday). We went as far as Little Blue Valley, twenty-one
and a third miles. We overtook an ox-train bound for Salt Lake, and a
difficulty arose concerning our passing them. The place was such that
we could not turn out of the road to pass, and those in charge of the
train did not seem inclined to hurry to a point where we could pass.
Argument was of no avail, and consequently we came into collision. The
battle was to the strong--the quick, furious plunges of the mules
proving too much for the sluggish pulling of the oxen. One of our
wagons got through, and then, by driving the leaders' noses against the
tailboards of the preceding wagons, all our train made its passage
through. One of the teamsters of the ox-train gazed with wild
astonishment at our harmless forge, and asked at last, "Are you going
to take _only one cannon_ with you?"

_May 23_ (Sunday). This turned out to be another day of rest--and, as
nothing could be found for us to do, we had our share in it, too.

Last night we were all awakened by the fury of a severe thunder storm.
The rain fell in torrents, and a little of it made its way into the
tents. The wind blew a perfect tornado. As we expected every minute to
be without a roof over our heads, and could do nothing to avert the
danger, we did the next best thing--sat down and smoked our pipes. The
lightning was blinding, and the flashes followed each other in constant
succession. The loud thunder rattled everything movable around us. But
the storm was too violent to last, and before our pipes were out we saw
the full moon in the sky, and the lunar-bow.

_May 24_ (Monday). Last night we were favored with act two of the play
begun the night before. The wind, hail, and rain raged with a fury not
a whit less severe, but again no damage was done.

We marched to the Second Crossing of Elm Creek, seventeen and a third
miles. The effect of the storm was to render our marching less
comfortable, the roads being very muddy and the grass dripping with
water, so that we were soon wet and muddy up to our knees. We came
across a couple of emigrants, near the close of our march.

_May 25_ (Tuesday). This day brought us to the valley of the Platte
River, after a march of eighteen miles. The valley is level, and about
three miles in width, the river winding along a serpentine course. The
river is nearly a quarter of a mile wide, and from two to twelve feet
in depth, the current being very swift and powerful.

The day closed with a sad accident. A supernumerary teamster of the
commissary train, Thomas B. Smith, of New Jersey, went in bathing, took
cramps, and was carried away by a relentless current to a watery grave.
Fruitless efforts were made to recover the body.

A grave was seen as we descended into the valley; a lonely record of
sanguine expectations and frustrated hopes. A board at the head bore
the inscription, "Miss Susan G. Hale, Mormon; Died 1852, Aged 24

Here first commenced the work of gathering buffalo chips for fuel. We
engaged in the duty somewhat reluctantly, softening the unpleasantness
of it by laughing at each other.

_May 26_ (Wednesday). We reached the long-looked-for Fort Kearney,
marching thirteen and a third miles. Our course lay along the valley,
and the Fort was in sight throughout the march. It first consisted only
of a chimney and a flag-pole, but every mile added something to it. A
large house, we found, was attached to the chimney, and a flag to the
pole, and at last the place grew into several extensive buildings,
flanked about by adobe houses. Inhabitants: Infantry and washerwomen.
Goods for sale: buffalo skins and whiskey. Game: buffaloes and wolves.
Products: prairie grass and cacti. Water very poor.

A mail was distributed among us, and the happy recipients sought shady
nooks in which to have a chat with some loved one, or perhaps to battle
with wind and sand in trying to reply to the epistles received.

_May 27_ (Thursday). We remained in camp on account of about fifty
teamsters of the commissary train striking for higher wages. They were
marched away from the camp, bag and baggage, with the guard at their
rear at _charge bayonets_. The delay was rather fortunate, however, as
it gave an opportunity, both to us and the mules, to recuperate from
the wear and tear of the march.

_May 28_ (Friday). We left Fort Kearney behind, but made only ten and a
half miles, none of us being in the long-march humor. The prairie was
covered with long, dead grass, and some careless individual lighted his
pipe and the prairie at the same time. We soon succeeded in
extinguishing the blaze. But we were not long in camp before we were
turned out by the _long roll_ to do battle once more with the devouring
element; this time our weapons were gunny-bags and blankets, and the
fire was soon thoroughly beaten out.

The command was joined before leaving Fort Kearney by Companies F and I
of the Sixth Infantry. And we left behind at the Fort one of our own
men, Robert Ayres, suffering with inflammatory rheumatism, so that he
could have the advantage of good medical attendance and a comfortable

Somebody made a trade to-day whereby we lost our wall tents and were
given bell tents instead. The wall tents were quite comfortable,
although too crowded; the bell tents are more roomy, but less

_May 29_ (Saturday). We encamped on the Platte River, having marched
twelve miles. Wood is so scarce that a party had to swim across the
river for some, floating it back to camp.

_May 30_ (Sunday). This should have been a day of rest. We congratulated
ourselves on our good luck in not having to march, as the day was wet
and chilly. But we crowed too early in the morning, for we were all
turned out to procure wood, which, as yesterday, had to be floated back
from the opposite side of the river, after three hours' work in a
swamp, up to the middle in mud and water.

_May 31_ (Monday). We reached the crossing of Plum Creek, a distance of
fifteen miles. At one time during the march we were gladdened by the
sight of a large lake, with bluffs and headlands extending into it, and
with vessels sailing majestically on its calm bosom; but, sad to
relate, on nearer approach the lake turned into a low fog, the
headlands dwindled into the old, monotonous chain of sand-bluffs, and
the vessels metamorphosed into three or four rusty looking ox-wagons.

_June 1_ (Tuesday). We encamped in Buffalo Bog, so called because it is
a great trail for the buffaloes. Our march amounted to seventeen and a
third miles. As we came into camp a herd of buffaloes was seen on the
neighboring sand hills. The Lieutenant and the Indian hunters went
after them and killed two or three, bringing in the tongues and the
humps, and leaving the remainder for the wolves to pick.

We saw our first real Indians to-day. A chief of the Sioux and his
squaw came into camp this afternoon. They were savage all over--in
their looks, dress, and conduct; and decidedly so in their speech,
which, however, they used very sparingly, talking to us in a sort of
dignified pantomime. The gist of the conversation was, "Something to
eat," and no matter of what we spoke they invariably began their answer
with, "How! How!" and terminated with "Something to eat." It would have
been difficult to distinguish the chief from the squaw, they resembled
each other so closely in looks and dress, were it not that the squaw
never laughed until the chief smiled nor opened her mouth to speak
until first spoken to.

_June 2_ (Wednesday). To-day brought us to Reedy Flat, seventeen and a
half miles. Our camp ground is level and swampy, and full of tall
reeds--hence its name.

Two men are now detailed each morning to start an hour or two before
the command, in order, if possible, to shoot some game; but owing to
the inexperience of our men, they rarely succeed in obtaining anything.

_June 3_ (Thursday). We came to-day to Cottonwood Spring, concluding a
march of seventeen and a third miles. After dark the police detail was
obliged to turn out on a wood hunting expedition, in order to procure
fuel for breakfast. The nearest wood was at least a mile from camp, and
in the search for it there was also, incidentally, found some whiskey,
which two individuals retailed from a rude tent at the moderate price
of one dollar per quart.

_June 4_ (Friday). We went two or three miles beyond O'Fallons Bluff,
nineteen and a half miles altogether. A great variety of flowers decked
the prairie, and many of us amused ourselves by making bouquets.

Some three or four days ago Lieutenant Duane gave up pedestrianism and
took to riding his horse.

_June 5_ (Saturday). We marched again to-day over a flowery plain:
phlox, wall flowers, bachelor's buttons, larkspur, lilies, cacti,
golden dagger, snap-dragons, daisies, and forget-me-nots grew in wild
confusion. We covered eighteen and a half miles. The weather was mild
and beautiful.

_June 6_ (Sunday). We did not march to-day, but no rest was vouchsafed
us. The company was fallen in at fatigue call and divided into working
parties--some roasted coffee, some ground tools, others mended tents,
and the remainder forded the river after wood.

_June 7_ (Monday). We were again en route, and proceeded to North Pond,
sixteen and a third miles. Three or four successive dry days have made
the road very dusty.

_June 8_ (Tuesday). We came to within four miles of the "First
Crossing," journeying nineteen miles. A Sioux village was in sight, on
the opposite side of the river, and we were not long in camp before
some thirty of the villagers paid us a visit, headed by an old,
bow-legged warrior. They all approached with extended hand, exclaiming,
"How! How!"--then wandered about the camp; making observations and
taking anything they found loose, and trading with the men. They never
failed to be near when anything like provisions was produced, and were
not at all backward in telling one they were hungry. We gave some a
little soup, which they liked very much, taking especial care, however,
to avoid the vegetables which it contained. A party of boys among them
amused us by shooting down little ornaments with their arrows,
receiving as reward the ornaments which served as targets. They also
ran several foot races with our little drummer boy, the honors being
divided. The Indians are bold riders, the harness on their horses
consisting only of a Mexican bit and a rawhide bridle. They twist their
feet inside the horses' forelegs, and the animals might as well try to
get rid of their tails as of one of these copper-colored devils.

This evening a party of women came over, with skins and moccasins to
trade. Some of the younger ones were comely looking maidens. One old
squaw, accompanied by two daughters, made a trade with one of the men,
giving a buffalo robe for a double-sized silk handkerchief, blue, with
red and yellow flowers. She no sooner spread it to the breeze than both
daughters besieged her for it, but she turned and ran with her prize,
pursued by the two damsels.

_June 9_ (Wednesday). We made a march of seventeen and a quarter miles,
to the crossing of the South Fork of the Platte River. It was very warm
during the morning, and the soles of our shoes became very smooth from
marching through the dead grass. At noon, though, it commenced raining,
and continued to do so all afternoon and evening. After arriving at our
camp ground we had to wait nearly an hour for the train, which through
some cause had been detained. We kindled a fire and crowded around it,
three or four deep.

The Lieutenant, Dwyer (the wagon-master), and two or three other men
mounted mules last night, took a day's provisions, and started up the
river to seek the crossing here. Finding it, they spent the night with
the old Cheyenne chief, Spotted Tail, who had two or three wigwams at
the crossing. They were entertained in a distinguished manner by his
dusky highness, returning in the morning to the command. But as soon as
our train came within sight to-day the old Chief pulled up his stakes
and "vamoosed the ranch."

_June 10_ (Thursday). We remained in camp, as it was a raw, wet, chilly
day; little was done except to sleep. The Colonel wishes a warm day for
the crossing.

_June 11_ (Friday). The day being no better than yesterday, and there
being no prospect of improvement, we commenced the long-dreaded
crossing. Lieutenant Alexander divested himself of all clothing, except
his shirt and drawers, and entered, leading his horse. We speedily
stripped ourselves, carrying our belts and haversacks around our necks,
our clothes in a bundle on the ends of our rifles. Every two good
swimmers taking between them one of those ignorant of the now useful
art, we trusted ourselves to the mercy of the chilling, madly rushing
current. The water was high, and as cold as ice. It required as much
strength as we could muster to gain a step against the current, and the
sharp stones on the bottom cut our feet painfully, till our legs and
feet became so benumbed with cold as to be insensible to further pain.
As we made a step forward, when the water was but a foot or two deep,
we would sink unexpectedly to the middle, and probably the next step
would take us in to the arm-pits; then the water would obtain such a
force against the body that it required almost superhuman efforts to
keep an upright position. We became dizzy from the rapid current before
getting half way across, and by the time the opposite shore was reached
most of us were pretty well exhausted. One man, Artificer James R.
Kelly, was swept off his feet, but luckily enough I was able to catch
hold of him and bring him ashore.

Our train, while we were crossing, started off in a stampede, and we
had the pleasure of being on one side of the stream and seeing our
wagons carried away over hill and valley, in every direction, on the
other. Fortunately, the mules were safely brought back, although a
little blown; after they were all securely landed on our side of the
river they were the meekest and most humble congregation of mules I
have ever seen.

After we pitched our tents each received a gill of whiskey. Upon
inspection, the losses of the day were found to be one linchpin and one
pair of pantaloons.

_June 12_ (Saturday). We went as far as Rattlesnake Hill, eighteen and
an eighth miles. Several rattlesnakes were seen during the march, and
once or twice our men came near treading on them, but they escaped us
by getting into their holes, or we escaped them by getting out of their
way. The rear guard killed one or two.

We left the old road in the morning and took Bryans. After about two
hours' march we reached Lodge Pole Creek and forded it, our course then
lying through the valley of the creek. There was good grass all through
the valley, and myriads of flowers, but no wood. We were obliged to
burn buffalo chips.

_June 13_ (Sunday). We marched to-day, as the Colonel wishes to get to
a pine country about a hundred miles ahead. We went nineteen and
three-quarter miles, this being the second camp on Lodge Pole Creek.

An order was published prohibiting dogs running at large, either on the
march, at a halt, or in camp--hard on the canines, but they find no
sympathy. Two other orders were published, one obliging the sick to
attend all roll calls--no man has a right to be sick on a
campaign!--the other stating that the Company should fall in at
reveille _under arms_, so that on days when we do not march our weapons
may remain stacked outside, to give the rain a chance to wash them and
to allow the sun to better season the stocks.

_June 14_ (Monday). We marched nineteen miles along Lodge Pole Creek,
the valley of which is one of the most beautiful portions of this
country, requiring only the presence of trees to make it perfectly
charming. Two chains of sand-bluffs skirt the valley, one on either
side, and, toward the close of our march these bluffs began to assume a
rocky appearance.

A curious and interesting novelty was seen by us to-day, an Indian dead
lodge. It was a wigwam, built in the usual manner, the poles covered
with buffalo hides, hair side in, and the opening of the lodge sewed
shut with rawhide thongs. A pole was planted in the center of the tent
and projected through the covering, about eight feet higher than the
door; to the pole was suspended the distinguishing badge of the chief
buried within, composed of painted eagle feathers, ornamented in a very
neat manner with horsehair and beads. The ground around the lodge was
ditched, and the sods piled around the bottom of the skins. About ten
feet from the lodge, in front of the door, was a square patch of earth,
dug up and carefully smoothed, and behind it a small mound of earth and
sods, on top of which were placed two buffalo skulls, bleached white
with the rains; they were arranged facing the lodge, as like two silent
sentinels watching the repose of the dead, and the forehead of each
bore ten red stripes, signifying that the defunct dignitary had borne
his share of the perils of ten war-paths.

Although our curiosity was under the reins of respect for the deceased,
yet we could not resist the temptation of getting just a peep at the
internal arrangements; drawing one or two pegs from the bottom of the
skins, we bent our straining vision into the solemn depth of darkness
that reigned within. Needless to say, the olfactory nerves were first
gratified, but as our eyes became accustomed to the uncertain light we
could discern a shapeless mass, elevated upon crotched poles, and lying
upon a bed of twigs, closely wrapped in skins. From the poles were
suspended the quiver of arrows, the bow, the tomahawk, the pipe, and
the ammunition pouches of the deceased. We carefully closed the lodge
and left the dead to his solitude.

But, sad to relate, when our train had passed, not only the curiosity
of some of the men was excited, but their cupidity also; in less than
five minutes the before sacred resting place was, by heartless and
relentless hands, left in desolate ruin.

_June 15_ (Tuesday). We did not march to-day, on account of an express
being sent to Fort Laramie, about fifty miles from here, to ascertain
if any orders are there for the command, to carry our mail matter, and
to procure a guide to pilot us from Bridgers Pass to Fort Bridger.
Having found that pine wood is available, a wagon was sent out, with a
detail of men, to cut and bring in a load.

The Company was indulged in the luxury of a drill to-day, and
notwithstanding the uneven nature of the ground, and the fact of our
having been so long on the march, our men went through the movements
and maneuvers with remarkable precision.

_June 16_ (Wednesday). We took up the march and went on a distance of
nineteen and a half miles. We encamped again on Pole Creek, which we
crossed once on the march. At one point we reached two high, rocky
bluffs, covered with pine timber, the road ascending about half way to
the top of the bluff on the right of the valley, and forming sort of a
ledge along its almost precipitous side. Some large trees grew over the
road and threw a shade across it. On the left of the road was a deep
chasm, in which, about sixty feet below, ran the creek, thickly shaded
on either side by dense shrubbery. This beautiful spot possessed such
charms for us, coming as we did from the bleak, uninteresting prairie,
that we stopped to rest, and thought ourselves transported into the
regions of fairyland. But our pleasure was short-lived, for this oasis
of the wilderness continued for only a half-mile, when the country
again relapsed into the monotonous sky and prairie, relieved only by
the scanty shrubbery which grew along the creek.

_June 17_ (Thursday). We are again encamped on Lodge Pole Creek, our
day's march amounting to sixteen and three-fifths miles. The valley was
somewhat more rolling than usual to-day. We crossed many ravines and
hills, and once more crossed the creek. No timber is within sight yet.
Antelopes are very numerous here, but so wild that it is almost
impossible to kill any.

_June 18_ (Friday). We marched nineteen and a half miles, and again
encamped on Pole Creek. A small party of men were detailed this morning
to cut wood and bring it to the side of the road where the wagons could
take it up. About the middle of the march we passed two more pine
bluffs, one on each side of the valley, and afterwards emerged upon a
long, level plain, where we came to a full stop before an ominous
looking bog. Two or three wagons tried to cross; but wagons, mules and
all settled down into the soft, black mud; the mules to their bodies
and the wagons to the axle-trees. As the mules could not pull out, and
the men failed in swearing them out, we were obliged to have recourse
to what one of our party termed "main strength and stupidity." By the
use of a little force two of the old settlers were extricated; the
other proved more stubborn in its affection for "mother earth," and as
the mules sat down disconsolately in the mud, we had to send ahead for
the assistance of two or three more teams. We hitched on all the mules,
and ourselves pulled on ropes attached to the wheels--and our labors
and perseverance were finally rewarded with success.

When we reached camp we found an old guide named Duval waiting for us.
He was sent over from Fort Laramie, and had been waiting a day or two
for our appearance. Duval had shot a fine buck antelope, which he
presented to us, and evening found us busily engaged around our camp
fires, cooking our steaks.

_June 19_ (Saturday). We marched eighteen and three-quarter miles,
passing over a level prairie throughout the march. We crossed the creek
once more--we had the pleasure of crossing it seven times
yesterday--and are encamped upon it again, also. As we are now rapidly
approaching its source the creek is growing quite shallow, but the
water is, if anything, purer and colder. Near the close of the march
two or three white clouds were on the horizon, in front and a little to
the left of us. All the firmament, except this one spot, was perfectly
innocent of anything like a cloud, and the objects themselves kept such
a stubbornly immovable position that we began to doubt whether they
were clouds after all. As we approached camp they changed their
appearance not in the least, except that they grew somewhat larger.
When we were encamped a party ascended a bluff nearby and satisfied
ourselves that we were actually in sight of the Medicine Bow Mountains.
This was a new and grand sight to many of us. On our right, far in the
distance, could be descried a long range of mountains, stretching away
as far as the eye could see. Compared with the color of the rolling
prairie, that fills up the expanse between us and the mountains, they
are a dusky black--hence the name, "Black Hills." The appearance is
owing to the density of the pine timber with which the hills are

Our men shot two antelopes, of which achievement we were all very

_June 20_ (Sunday). We are now nearly six hundred miles from Fort
Leavenworth. The day was spent in domestic occupations. Groups might be
seen sitting in the shade of the wagons, the only objects which here
afford a shade, engaged in mending the breaches in their breeches and
other clothes. Others were busied in the laundry department. Others,
again, were deep in the mazes of correspondence.

A most magnificent sunset was seen by us this evening. The God of Day
was retiring from our vision, majestically robing himself in the dark,
threatening thunder-clouds which were rapidly spreading over the
heavens. The storm soon interposed its black curtain between us and the
grand spectacle, and darkness reigned where before everything was
bathed in a flood of silvery light.

_June 21_ (Monday). We marched twenty miles, and once more camped on
Pole Creek. Our whole course lay along valleys, so that we obtained but
one view of the mountains.

Several more antelopes were shot to-day. Either game is getting more
plentiful, or else we are improving in the quality of our hunters. The
Infantry are very successful in their hunting excursions.

_June 22_ (Tuesday). We made seventeen miles, and encamped for the last
time on Pole Creek. The Chief Engineer was in a short-cut humor, when
we started out this morning, moved thereto by the guide. We were
marched around three or four bluffs, followed by the entire command,
train and all; and this species of countermarching gave rise to many
forcible expressions of disapprobation. We soon found the proper road,
however, and started anew.

We are encamped this evening within the Cheyenne Pass, at the foot of
the Black Hills. When within about four miles of camp we encountered a
numerous party of Cheyenne Indians, who stood a respectable distance
from us and surveyed us with great timidity. This tribe has given the
Government considerable trouble by its hostile demeanor, and it has
been but a short time since its members were taught one or two
wholesome lessons; hence their caution in approaching United States
troops. However, they followed us to camp, and, seeing nothing
threatening in our behavior, gradually mingled with us and opened the
business of "swap." Before tattoo they became quite sociable, and some
of them entertained us by their dexterity with the bow and arrow, and
showed us the leaves that they mix with their tobacco, to render it
milder and to increase the quantity. We, in return, amused them with
the curious workmanship of our Colt's revolvers and showed them the
mechanism of a watch, which struck them with amazement.

A good joke was circulated this morning, at the expense of one of the
sons of the "Emerald Isle." It appears he was on post as a sentinel,
and the officer of the day, visiting his post in the early hours of the
night, was promptly challenged, "Who comes there?" "Officer of the
Day," was the answer. As that appeared to be the end of the matter, and
as the officer was kept standing, he inquired why the countersign,
which was "Scott," was not demanded. The sentinel replied that he did
not know the countersign was the same for both guards. "Oh, yes,"
rejoined the officer, "the countersign is general throughout the camp."
A short time after, the sergeant of the guard visited the sentinel and
inquired whether the officer of the day had been there. "Yes, shure,"
said Pat, "and he told me that the countersign was 'Gineral' throughout
the camp, and not 'Scott.'"

_June 23_ (Wednesday). We marched seventeen miles to the highest of the
Black Hills, and then encamped. This has been the most interesting
march we have yet had; the road ran through rich, luxurious valleys,
over high hills, through cuts, in deep, dark ravines, winding among
immense rocks and boulders or burying itself in the shady depths of
dense pine woods. In the valleys we saw, long, rich grass, decorated by
countless millions of flowers and wild rose bushes in full bloom. And
upon the hills we beheld curious specimens of nature's skill in
carving, many fantastic figures among the large sandstone rocks
furnishing ample proof of it. Here, too, might be seen the unusual
sight of wild flowers, in all the glory of summer, elevating their
gorgeous heads above a bed of pure snow. The snow we considered such a
novelty, it being the latter part of June, that we indulged in a set-to
with snowballs.

From our camp upon the summit a most magnificent view can be had. On
one side there is a steep descent for about a quarter of a mile, then,
by crossing a stream, one ascends a very steep mountain, thickly
covered with pines. As many of the giants of the forest lie upon the
ground, in decay, as are standing, and the ground is covered by
decomposed vegetable matter to a depth of three or four feet. On the
side from which we came the hills may be seen, one below the other,
some red with sandstone, some white with clay, some green with grass
and shrubbery, and others black with pines. On the third side rough,
ragged, toppling crags are piled, one upon the other, in the wildest
and most picturesque confusion. The fourth side is more charming, if
possible, even than the others; the whole immense valley stretching
far, far away to the Medicine Bow Mountains, the Laramie River winding
across it like a silver thread. This was our advent among the mountain
scenery, and with it we were delighted.

_June 24_ (Thursday). We marched eight and a half miles, descending the
hills to the Laramie River, where we were obliged to make a temporary
halt, this stream being too rapid and deep to ford. It was found
necessary to gain a crossing with our wits and the little paraphernalia
that could be found in the train. Operations were commenced by
unloading some of the wagons and inflating five or six of the pontons,
or cylindrical floats, all that we had. This done, we had to get a rope
across the river. Tying a sash-cord to the end of a two-inch rope, and
enough twine to reach across the stream being tied to the other end of
the cord, a volunteer from the infantry swam over with the end of the
twine in his mouth. The rope was then drawn over, and the tools were
tied to a cord, which ran on the rope with a slip-knot and was drawn
over by the twine. A strong pile was driven into the ground and the
ferry rope made fast to it. We then constructed a raft by lashing the
pontons together, holding them with the wagon tongues and covering
those again with the tailboards for a flooring. Another and heavier
rope, being ready to send over, one of our men, Murphy, taking the end
of the rope itself in his mouth, swam across with it. Tackling was
rigged with blocks on the ferry rope, and to the side of the raft, and
the raft made its first passage, with signal success, the current being
the motive power.

So transportation commenced in earnest, a crew for the raft being
selected from our men and First Sergt. F. W. Gerber taking command.
Throughout the day the voice of the Sergeant could be heard above the
din and uproar of this exciting occasion, shouting in the most
impressive manner, as though implicit obedience could be obtained only
by unheard of severity, "Haul away on the bow!" "Shlack on de shtern!"
"'Way 'nofe!" "Fent off!" and similar incomprehensible expressions.

To-night we are on one side of the river and the Infantry on the other,
our train having been the first to cross.

_June 25_ (Friday). We arose early in the morning and resumed
operations, the Company being divided into parties and distributed
around wherever of the most service. Sergt. James E. Wilson took a
party of the Infantry and rigged up another rope ferry, which did very
valuable service throughout the day, ferrying over the loads of the
wagons, while the wagons themselves were sent over on the first ferry.

An attempt was made to draw the wagons across the stream by a rope; one
was thus launched, but before it reached the middle of the river it
overturned and filled. Only a small portion of the wagon was visible
above the water, and to get it out it was necessary to move the rope
from the tongue to one of the wheels. Four of our men volunteered for
this service (Sergeant Pierce, Artificer Jordan, McGill, and Pat
Murphy) and these worked indefatigably for nearly two hours, in cold
water about five feet deep, their labors being finally rewarded with

Evening found us all safely encamped on the west side of the Laramie

_June 26_ (Saturday). A very beautiful day. Every day since we have
been here the forenoon has been warm and sultry, but at noon a strong
breeze springs up from the south and continues until sunset, when it

The Company was again divided into parties to-day, one bringing over
the ropes and rigging upon the raft, and another coiling the ropes and
repacking the wagons. It required the whole day to get things into
marching order again, and night finds us all prepared for an early
start upon the morrow.

Another metallic wagon was added to our train to-day--the
Quartermaster, finding that we can handle pontons with such dexterity,
thought it best to give us the care of them in order to facilitate
matters in case of emergency. The Quartermaster informed us that it had
been his intention to treat the Company with a little of the _aqua
ardente_, but, owing to so much having been expended, both lawfully and
surreptitiously, during the day, the liquor was almost "played out,"
and he could not afford the contemplated treat.

_June 27_ (Sunday). The Eight Fork of the Laramie River was reached and
crossed, and we encamped upon the farther side, after marching sixteen
miles. The country passed over was a level valley, almost barren of
vegetation; small knots of sickly looking grass grew at remote
intervals, and found but a miserable support among the stones and sand.
We soon came to the fork of the river. It is here divided into several
streams, the first six or seven being somewhat shallow and the ground
between soft and boggy; but the last two streams are deeper and more
rapid, the water exceedingly cold, and rushing over long, sharp stones
with alarming rapidity. We had a great deal of trouble getting our
train across, every team having to be doubled. The shouts of the
teamsters, and the struggles of the mules in the mud and water, could
be heard long after darkness had settled upon the busy camp.

We beheld another concourse of Cheyenne Indians assembled upon the
hill, patiently awaiting our arrival. They continued all the afternoon
hanging about the camp, trying to "swap" their goods for lead and
powder. But very little ammunition could they obtain from us; we knew
their hostile, treacherous character too well, and our duty to the
Government better. We traded with the Indians for moccasins,
rifle-covers, knives with bead-worked scabbards, etc.

One of the Indians espied a set of artificial teeth when one of our
men, Horace Sexton, laughed, exposing the gold clasps as he did so. A
group of curious Indians gathered about, peering into his mouth and
chattering to one another, wondering that a white man should have gold
teeth. In order to amuse them, Sexton took the teeth out of his mouth,
whereupon the whole group of redskins retreated from him in terror; nor
could they be induced to approach again, deeming him too familiar with
black art to feel safe in his company.

One of the non-commissioned officers, Sergeant Gerber, wished to
purchase a beautiful white pony that an Indian was riding. He offered
him a handful of silver half dollars (the Indians are very eager to get
hold of silver coins, out of which they make ornaments), but the Indian
shook his head in the negative. Some biscuits and red chalk were added
to the tempting pile of silver, but, after some hesitation, the Indian
still declined the "swap." A new uniform coat was then offered also.
This pleased the Indian wonderfully; turning it over and over, he
surveyed it in every light, admired the yellow chevrons, laughed and
betrayed great eagerness to get possession of the gaudy garment. But
looking once more at his faithful pony, he declined the bargain.
Suddenly, a bright idea seemed to strike him--he wanted the coat, and
proposed to give the owner a squaw for it, which generous offer was of
course declined, amid loud peals of laughter from the bystanders.

A group of Indians had gathered about the forge, gazing at it with
reverential awe. One of them, making a quick motion of his hands, out
from his body, and making an explosive sound with his breath, to
represent the report of a gun, exclaimed, "Smoke wagon," meaning a
cannon. At this moment, Bourcey, the blacksmith, who was fitting on a
mule's shoe, returned with the shoe at the end of the tongs, and,
thrusting it into the fire, began blowing the bellows. It was laughable
to see the stampede among the redskins when they saw this ominous
maneuver--they thought he was going to fire the "smoke wagon."

_June 28_ (Monday). We encamped on Coopers Creek, having marched
fourteen miles. Our road to-day extended along the chain of mountains,
and lay over a hard, gravelly surface, thickly covered with small,
argillaceous stones. We passed a pond this morning, the shores of which
were encrusted with a white, crystallized substance, which, upon
inspection, proved to be magnesia and nitrate of soda. Antelopes were
seen in great number during the march, and two were shot.

At the conclusion of our march we suddenly found ourselves upon the
brow of a high hill, overlooking a magnificent valley about two miles
in length and a mile or more in width. The ground was covered with
rich, luxuriant grass, mingled with patches of wild flowers of every
hue. Two limpid mountain streams meandered across it, their banks
skirted by graceful shrubbery and noble trees. We encamped in this
Eden, and the calm peace that always pervades the mind when amidst the
quiet beauties of wild nature came upon us weary pilgrims. The only
drawback to this beautiful spot was the presence of that little
demon--the mosquito. These insects annoyed us excessively; not a moment
could we rest, but were obliged to keep our bodies continually in
motion, and to burn tarred rope and buffalo chips in the tents.

A bog was discovered here which it was thought would have to be crossed
in the morning, so the Company was turned out to repair it. We were
sent about a mile to cut and carry logs and brush; but after we had
completed the crossing a better and shorter road was found, and our
labor amounted to nothing more than a proof of the powers of endurance
of the invincible sixty-four.

_June 29_ (Tuesday). We marched thirteen miles, to Medicine Bow Creek.
We passed safely over four creeks, and were congratulating ourselves
upon our success when we were stopped short upon the banks of Medicine
Bow or Rock Creek. Here was a doleful sight; the creek was about thirty
yards wide, with a current which rushed over the large boulders on the
bottom with fearful impetuosity. Where it struck a large rock the water
would dash up to a height of five or six feet. A stone, weighing about
thirty pounds was thrown in, and finally rested on the bottom about
three yards downstream from where it first touched the water; and it
would not then have stopped in its onward career had it not been
arrested by coming into contact with a larger stone on the bottom.

All stood surveying these fearful rapids, waiting to see what the first
order would be. It was decided that the Engineers should endeavor to
get across and rig a bridge of driftwood. Several of us instantly
prepared for the undertaking, a place being selected where the stream
was divided by rocks and drift into four separate channels. The first
two were not so swift as the others and we effected a crossing over
them quite safely. The next was more difficult; several had a very
narrow escape in crossing; but many, with the assistance of poles,
succeeded in reaching the island. This was separated from the farther
shore by a single additional channel, which, although narrow, was the
most perilous of all. Three or four of the largest men made their way
across, jumping first into the stream as far as they could, struggling
as they were whirled down by the rushing current, and contriving at
last to get hold of bushes on the far bank and so to drag themselves
out of the water. By the aid of ropes we then managed to get a bridge
of logs over the most dangerous channels, and the Regiment crossed with
perfect safety.

A few rods below the wagons were crossing, and we were signally favored
by Providence in getting everything over as well as we did, losing only
two mules, which were carried off their feet by the current and
instantly drowned.

_June 30_ (Wednesday). We went as far as the Medicine Bow Butte, a
distance of sixteen miles. Our course lay over the lower bluffs of the
Medicine Bow Mountains, ascending and descending the many steep hills.
The surface was hard and gravelly, and covered with wild sage or

About nine miles out we arrived at the "Devils Hole," a deep, rocky
ravine, between the mountains, the almost precipitous sides of which
are composed of loose, crumbling rocks. The descent was very steep and
rough, requiring a great deal of labor to make it passable for the
wagons. We worked some time at the stream here to enable the train to
pass, and then proceeded. But we were soon brought to a standstill
before another branch of Medicine Bow Creek, divided into several
streams, and with the intervening ground swampy and covered with a
thick undergrowth of sweetbrier; cottonwood, pine, and white poplar
trees grow very densely here. When we reached the other side a rapid
stream presented itself, which we soon bridged, however, with the
trunks of trees.

We reached our camp ground quite late and very much fatigued and then
prepared for muster, which took place at five o'clock. The Company was
inspected by Colonel Andrews and the Quartermaster and Chief of
Commissary. A large buck was killed to-day, and, tired as we were, we
entered into the duties of the culinary department with considerable

_July 1_ (Thursday). We went but three miles to Elk Creek, moving in
order to secure a good camp ground. It is proposed to stay here for a
few days, in order to recuperate the mules and get them shod, to cut
timber for building bridges, and to burn a pit of charcoal--all
preparatory to leaving the command, to commence our duties as road
engineers. We are to go in advance, with a working party of Infantry
accompanying us, provisioned for twenty-eight days. Parties are
detailed to-day to cut and bring in timber, which is obtained about a
mile and a half up the mountain, where timber grows in abundance: pine,
juniper, and tamarack.

_July 2_ (Friday). The timber party is still at work to-day,
notwithstanding that it is cloudy and rainy. Our pontons were taken out
and overhauled, and two or three of them were condemned. We received
six more wagons from the Quartermaster, to carry timber. Clothing was
issued to all who were in need of it.

This evening our hunters, who were after game, returned with a young
antelope and some long-eared hares--we had, consequently, quite an
excellent stew for supper.

_July 3_ (Saturday). We were off betimes upon our new road, and marched
as far as Pass Creek, thirteen miles. At the very outset we had three
wagons obstinately stuck in mud holes, requiring two hours, at least,
to get in motion again. We cut brush and boughs, to make a footing for
the mules, and tied ropes to the wheels, and ourselves joined in the
pulling. In this way we dragged out two of the wagons, but the other
had to be entirely unloaded, the contents being carried about twenty
yards, through mud knee-deep.

Our course ran through a deep ravine all the way, and we crossed four
creeks, one of them a very difficult one. The banks were about five
feet above the water, and densely covered by thorny bushes. The creek
was too wide to jump, so we were compelled, _nolens volens_, to scratch
our way down through the briers and then wade to the opposite side,
where the scratching ensued again in climbing out. This nauseous
smelling shrub, the sage, grows in great quantities. It makes our
marching very disagreeable, being so stiff, gnarled and thorny, growing
sometimes to the height of five feet and the largest trunks measuring
from eighteen to twenty-two inches in circumference. Split and twisted,
with a strong appearance of dead, dry wood, the bark resembles that of
the cedar, being dry and shelly.

The day was exceedingly sultry and oppressive; the atmosphere was
perfectly calm, not a leaf trembling, and the air seemed heated like
that of a furnace, causing an unpleasant feeling of lassitude and a
difficulty in respiration. The heat of the day was the more strange
from the fact that ice was found this morning three-sixteenths of an
inch in thickness.

_July 4_ (Sunday). We made one of the most fatiguing marches of the
entire trip, and employed our minds in contrasting our celebration of
the American Independence of to-day with that of last year. In no very
pleasant mood, we made a march of fourteen and a half miles, and
encamped on the North Fork of the Platte River. When we arrived at the
river we found all the bluffs of sandstone, of curious shapes and
colors, looking like stupendous churches or other buildings in various
styles of architecture, surmounted by lofty minarets, turrets, spires
and domes. At night, the scene might easily be taken for a city
standing near us.

The road all through the march was about six inches deep with dust, and
not a green thing was visible to cheer the aching eyes, half blinded by
the glaring light which was reflected by the heated sand--not a blade
of grass, nothing but sage, from one end of the march to the other.

One of our men shot a sage hen near the close of the march, and when we
came into camp we set about to ascertain whether these fowls can be
made into good food; a stew was made, but the word _good_ would be, I
fear, a superfluity.

This afternoon First Sergeant Gerber took a party of men, the writer
being one, and went some few miles up the river, to get a flat-boat
which one of the guides informed us was hidden there. We found the
boat, and as it grew dark launched it, commencing a passage down the
rapid current of the Platte. We had not gone far, however, before the
vessel upset, and the whole cargo of rifles and men was subjected to a
cold bath. After some trouble in righting the boat the passage was
resumed, two or three rifles and several hats making up all the losses
that were sustained. But the members of the party also suffered
considerable loss of blood during the trip, drawn by mosquitoes--they
were so very troublesome that we had to wear handkerchiefs over our
faces and gloves on our hands, and these were but a partial protection
against their assaults.

_July 5_ (Monday). We commenced operations this morning by hauling our
boat out of the water and repairing and caulking it, and covering it
with canvas. We christened the vessel _The Sapper_, and I painted the
name on the side. We launched the boat, towed it to the crossing and
rigged up a rope ferry. All being ready we carried over two wagons,
loaded with timbers, which are to start to-morrow morning, together
with a party of men, to build a bridge over a creek.

_July 6_ (Tuesday). We began early to ferry over the train, and by noon
had most of the wagons across. The party was sent a few miles ahead to
build the bridge, and having completed that service returned to camp at
night. We, for our part, carried over the last load about 5 o'clock,
and then pitched camp.

_July 7_ (Wednesday). At reveille the Company was detailed into
parties; one party as pioneers, equipped with axes, and another as
pontoniers, to be left here to take down the ferry and then follow
after the Company.

The pontoniers crossed over in the ferry, and after taking the rigging
apart were obliged to recross the river on the pontons. We lashed them
together, and packing on our ropes and tools, we made the crossing,
using shovels as paddles. We left all the appliances of the ferry, that
we thought the Indians could not steal, behind at the river for the use
of the Infantry. We then packed the wagon, which remained behind for
us, and, shouldering our rifles, we trudged on in its rear. A short
march was expected, but we passed over two bridges that our men had
built--they were strong and substantial structures--and continued on
and on, without seeing anything of camp. Warm weather, dusty roads, and
disappointed hopes rendered us extremely tired. A shower arose about 2
p.m., but proved to be more bluster than rain, making the dust on the
road just moist enough to clog on our shoes. The breeze which attended
the shower, however, proved quite refreshing. We at last found the
train, after marching twenty and a half miles, going into camp at the
foot of the Park Mountains, where we joined the Company in time to
pitch our tents with the others. Part of the Company, together with the
Infantry detail, was engaged in erecting a bridge over the creek at
this place, which was completed before dark.

A corporal of our Company and one of Lieutenant Bryan's men were sent
back to the Infantry, this morning, to leave a couple of wagons and the
forge with them. They took three days' provisions, and were mounted on

_July 8_ (Thursday). We marched fourteen miles. A portion of the
Company went in advance, with Sergeant Wilson, to cut timber, and
another, under command of Sergeant Vanderslice, to cut timber and build
a bridge. The Company marched on, and, going through Bryans Pass,
entered the long-looked-for Bridgers Pass, where we entered on a hill
which is the dividing line of the waters, from which they flow eastward
and westward. Excellent trout and other fish are caught in these
mountain streams. There are no high, rocky mountains to be seen, and, I
must confess, we were somewhat disappointed in the Pass. There is no
vegetation except grass and artemisia, and the scenery is entirely too
commonplace to satisfy our expectations of a pass through the _Rocky_

Some Indians were seen scouting about, of the Arapahoe tribe. And
Sergeant Wilson's party saw two bears, but as their rifles were stacked
some distance off the bears managed to make their escape.

Our camp is pitched among the sage bushes, infested with a tick or bug
which we dread as much as centipedes or scorpions; a knife can not cut
them, and there is no way of killing them except by burning. The
nearest water is three-quarters of a mile from camp, and that scarcely
fit to drink, the name of the stream, "Muddy Creek," plainly indicating
the nature of the water.

This evening we unloaded all the wagons and took all the bodies from
the running gear, in order to be ready to start early in the morning
for timber.

One of the messengers who were sent back to the Infantry returned to
camp this evening, our corporal having been left behind at the Platte,
where one of the mules had been lost in crossing. They went back after
the corporal this evening.

_July 9_ (Friday). We did not move our camp to-day, as twenty men were
sent back twelve miles to cut timber. We spent nearly all the day in
the woods, cutting fifty-four logs, each about thirty feet long and
eighteen to twenty inches in diameter. We started back about 4 o'clock,
but many little delaying accidents made it quite late before we reached
camp. Some of our party fired the loads out of their rifles when we
were near the Company, which alarmed the camp so much that all the men
were turned out under arms, supposing that they were being attacked by

The Company was this morning divided into three squads, each assigned
to a sergeant, to be kept by him during the campaign--each sergeant is
to take his party for whatever service or duty he is given to perform.

_July 10_ (Saturday). Leaving the tents standing, as the sick were to
remain here, we took the timber to where it was to be unloaded and
used. Frequent recourse was had to shovels and picks on the trip,
cutting down hills, filling up ravines, etc. We went about three miles,
unloaded the timber, helped to pitch some tents, and then, the wagons
having returned empty half an hour before, we of the new guard were
obliged to walk back to the old camp to mount guard. But arriving
there, we first put a new load on the wagons, then were given a
half-hour to clean our rifles before guard mount.

There are seventeen men on the sick report, nearly all of whom are
afflicted with mountain or sage fever. No doctor is with us, so we are
forced to content ourselves with what medical advice a lieutenant's
commission can furnish.

Sergeant Wilson's party is ahead, with the Infantry detail, laying out
and constructing a road.

The writer was given charge of the compass and the odometer, with
instructions to report daily to Lieutenant Duane.

_July 11_ (Sunday). Camp was moved about 10.30 a.m., and when we came
up with the other two parties they struck tents and joined us. We went
about two miles farther, and encamped on Muddy Creek. Our camp ground
is rough, stony, and full of tall sage bushes, which we had to cut away
in order to get room to pitch our tents. We are again besieged with
ticks, mosquitoes and snakes during the day, and entertained by the
howls of the wolves and coyotes at night.

An enormous rattlesnake was killed this afternoon--we cut up his
snakeship and fried him, and several of us made a hearty meal,
Lieutenant Alexander assisting. We found the meat quite sweet and
delicate, so that all snakes that come near us hereafter will be in
imminent danger of the frying pan.

The tobacco store was opened this evening, and we received our
allowance of the same.

_July 12_ (Monday). At reveille the Company was divided. Forty men and
two wagons were given to Sergeant Wilson. We found a great many places
along the selected route which required improvement--there were hills
to grade, stone walls to build, ravines to fill, and one bridge to
construct over Muddy Creek. We were so busily employed during the day
that we had no time to cook or eat, and when night came we were hungry
enough to appreciate the cracker and piece of raw bacon upon which we
made our supper.

_July 13_ (Tuesday). We arose early, our only reveille being the voice
of the Sergeant, calling: "All hands ahoy! Let us early birds be out
looking for the worm, for only the early bird catches him." We arose,
had breakfast, and sallied out to work, leaving our tents standing and
everything behind except haversacks and canteens, which were too
necessary to be slighted. We began the construction of a bridge, but
could not finish it on account of the timber not arriving. The Company
camp was moved to-day to within sight of the bridge.

We enjoy ourselves vastly while on these working parties,
notwithstanding hardships and privations. No roll calls, no guard
mounting, no policing--nothing but peace and quiet from the time we
quit work until we retire to sleep. We spend the evenings in joking,
singing, and smoking.

July 14 (Wednesday). We arose at 4, and packed our rifles and
accoutrements in the wagons, two men only in each of the four parties
keeping their guns, in case we should be able to start up some game. We
gained about eight miles on our journey to-day. Many deep gullies were
encountered, requiring some time to be put into condition for
travelling. A camp ground was selected among the Sand Peaks, outside of
Bridgers Pass, and on Muddy Creek. It was within an hour of sunset, but
as the Company train is to proceed some miles farther to-morrow, we
were obliged to go a mile ahead, where an immense gully, about eighty
feet wide, with sides about fifteen feet high, nearly perpendicular,
was to be filled and graded. We all set to with a will, and finished
this great bugbear of an undertaking within an hour. Sergeant Wilson
received four days' more rations from the Company. The guides joined us
this evening, as the country we are to pass over to-morrow is somewhat

_July 15_ (Thursday). This morning, as a long march was to be made on
account of the scarcity of water, we were turned out at 1 a.m. Several
large fires were built and we sat about them to eat our breakfast,
after which, by their light, we struck tents and loaded the wagons.
About 2 o'clock we assembled about the fire and made the surrounding
mountains ring with the strains of the "Star Spangled Banner." There,
in the midst of the wilderness, where the human form is but rarely
seen, where the stillness of the night is almost painfully oppressive,
where no sound is heard to break the spell of silence save the solitary
howl of some disconsolate wolf, the shrill voice of the brooding owl,
or the mournful, plaintive cry of the cuckoo--there did our voices
swell out in harmony as we published to the hills our patriotic
principles. And when, the chorus returned for the last time, and every
voice was exerted to its utmost to do justice to the language, it
seemed as though those very hills had caught the inspiration. As our
voices ceased, and, for a moment, not a word was spoken, back from the
distant hills came the sound, as of many voices, bearing the burden--

    "O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave."

Three cheers were given for the invisible songsters, who as heartily

Then we shouldered our tools and in single file followed the footsteps
of the guide's pony into the darkness which surrounded us. All along
the line jokes passed from man to man, laughter rang out in merry
peals, and occasionally a song burst forth. All was joy and mirth.

Our course lay principally over an extensive plain. In the distance
before us could be seen the irregular outline of the mountains toward
which we are making our way. After marching eighteen and a half miles
we came to our camp ground, and a most dismal one it is. No grass to be
seen--nothing but deep sand and sage bushes; no wood nor chips to be
found, and in their place only small twigs and sage bushes to burn; the
only water that from a spring which furnishes poor water and
insufficient quantities of that. The low ground about, which is all
moist, is encrusted with nitrate of soda, magnesia, and potash. A
severe storm of hail and rain occurred after we reached camp, and
between mud and inconvenience our patience was sorely tried. But I
believe, like "Mark Tapley," the worse the circumstances the jollier we

The Company train came up and joined us this evening, and our tents
were all pitched together. Our tools were turned in, as we are not to
go in advance as a working party any more.

_July 16_ (Friday). We went only six and a half miles to-day, owing to
so many places in the road requiring work. We encamped about a half
mile from Haystack Springs, situated in a deep, rocky ravine at the
base of the mountains, the name derived from three or four high rocks
in the vicinity which bear a strong resemblance, in color and shape, to
haystacks. The country over which we passed is rocky, rough, and
densely covered with wild sage, through which we struggled at the risk
of decorating the bushes with shreds of our clothing and staining them
with our blood, which trickled from numerous scratches inflicted by the
thorny branches. No living thing is found among these sage bushes
except sage hens, a spectral looking hare, ravens, ticks, and ants.

_July 17_ (Saturday). We marched fourteen and a half miles and encamped
at "Wolfs Spring," discovered by one of our Indian hunters, Wolf, and
named in honor to the discoverer. Our camp is on the top of a very high
hill, and the spring--the only place from which we can obtain water--is
situated at its base, the descent being long, steep, and very rough.
The water is pure, cold, and clear as crystal.

To-day a new disposition was made, a working party being detailed, and
the remainder of the Company carrying arms. At every place requiring
improvements the Company and train halted and waited until the working
party was finished.

A fine, large buffalo was shot, and the tool wagon was dispatched to
bring in the spoils. In the evening the game was divided.

Two expressmen, accompanied by Allen, our chief guide, left us this
afternoon for Fort Bridger, to execute some important business and to
bring back the mail.

_July 18_ (Sunday). In the morning a road was to be cut around the base
of the hill. The task was accomplished by noon, the excavation being
carried to a depth of seven feet on the upper side, through alternate
strata of magnesian limestone and sandstone. We then struck camp and
moved on, going only three miles, however, as water could not be
obtained within nine or ten miles beyond this place, and it was too
late to attempt to reach it. We camped at Banner Bluff, on Bitter

The bluff is a grand and curious geological formation, about twelve
hundred feet in height, the side almost vertical and composed of
alternate horizontal layers of protozoic and red sandstone, reminding
one of the stripes of the American flag.

_July 19_ (Monday). We marched only ten and a half miles, but did not
reach our new camp ground, which is again on Bitter Creek, until quite
late, some obstacle or other presenting itself every few hundred yards
to arrest our progress. The country was of the worst possible
description, barren and sandy; the surface of the ground was baked to a
hard crust, and broken by a network of deep fissures, some of them two
or three inches across, resembling the gaps of a miniature earthquake.
No vegetation, except a stunted growth of artemisia.

_July 20_ (Tuesday). We again encamped on Bitter Creek, after a march
of fifteen miles. There is no improvement in the aspect of the country,
although there was not so much labor, required in the construction of
the road, the country being for the most part level or rolling. A great
deal of poor coal is scattered over the ground, which is covered,
throughout the latter six or eight miles of our march with a complete
bed of these fragments, mixed with basaltic trap and a dark
conglomerate containing an immense number of small shells.

To-day we were compelled to mourn the loss of one of our companions,
who, afflicted with apoplexy, was left, a few days ago, with the
Regiment. He died at 8 p.m. and was buried in his uniform, the Sixth
Regiment escorting the body to its wild and lonely resting place, with
the customary military honors. I, myself, carved the board erected at
his head:

      Of Co. "A," U.S. Engineers,
    Died July 19, 1858, Aged 27 years.

His was a frank and genial nature, and his many good qualities and
cheerful disposition had established him as a universal favorite among
his comrades. His death threw a gloom over our usually cheerful and
buoyant spirits. This evening the camp was still. The customary song
was not heard--no hearty peals of laughter rang out to disturb the
solemn silence.

_July 21_ (Wednesday). We made but a short march to-day, the country
over which we passed being unfavorable for the construction of the
road. We encountered many deep gullies, which detained us a
considerable time. Nine miles' marching brought us to another camp on
Bitter Creek. About three miles from yesterday's camp we discovered the
road that Captain Marcy made a few weeks ago. It was on the opposite
side of the creek, however, and we could not form a junction with it,
owing to the difficulty of crossing the creek.

_July 22_ (Thursday). This day brought us a very tiresome and fatiguing
march to Sulphur Springs, nineteen and two-thirds miles. The sun shot
down its melting rays with overpowering intensity, and, to add to our
misery, no water was found that was fit to drink. The bed of the creek
was dry, a misfortune that we did not expect, as the stream where we
crossed it was quite deep. True, two puddles of stagnant water did
present themselves to our longing eyes, but how grievous was our
disappointment when, upon tasting, the water proved to be brackish and
sulphurous. Yet, such was the thirst of our men, that some took a
hearty drink of it, although the majority reluctantly resumed the
march, looking eagerly in the distance as we reached the summit of each
successive hill, to see if we could descry the sparkling flash of
water. At the conclusion of our march several pools were discovered,
near which we camped; but we found that these springs were also
sulphurous. As we did not reach camp until dark our dinner was not
ready until midnight, when all who preferred food to sleep partook of
this most excellent cheer, by the light of a greasewood fire. Our
teamsters, accompanied by the guard, were obliged to march a mile,
after reaching camp, in order to get grass for the animals.

This evening the expressmen who were sent a few days ago to Fort
Bridger returned, bringing with them our mail. We soon forgot the
fatigue of the body in the mental joys of the intercourse with our
absent loved ones.

_July 23_ (Friday). We marched sixteen miles and encamped on the bank
of the Green River. Throughout the march, as yesterday, no water could
be found that we could drink. Many of the men allayed their thirst by
mixing molasses and vinegar. Vasco Nuñez de Balboa was not more
delighted at the discovery of the Pacific Ocean than were we at the
sight of the cool, clear water of the river, to which we helped
ourselves liberally. A rope ferry and a flatboat are kept here for the
convenience of the Government troops and trains. We are once more
favored with a grass bed instead of one of dust, and with white poplar
wood for fuel, instead of buffalo chips.

_July 24_ (Saturday). We merely crossed the river, our train being
safely moved by noon to the west side, where we pitched our tents, once
more on the sand. In the afternoon a high wind arose, which blew the
sand about in such quantities that we were obliged to keep within our
tents. But no place was exempt from the general plague, even our boxes,
when opened, being found to have their contents covered with fine dust.

_July 25_ (Sunday). We encamped on Blacks Fork, marching a distance of
fourteen and a half miles.

_July 26_ (Monday). We marched seventeen miles farther, and encamped on
Hams Fork. The emigrant road to Camp Scott was struck by us early in
the morning, and we were greatly rejoiced to find our road-making
duties terminated. The Emigrant Road is wide, level, and gravelly, and
was quite pleasant to travel upon, especially for us who had been
struggling through sage bushes for more than two weeks. Several parties
of emigrants were seen slowly wending their way toward the Great Salt
Lake. All had rough, uncouth wagons and poor, clumsy oxen--and they
themselves were rougher than any part of their outfit. We crossed a
bridge over Hams Fork, at which an infantry guard is stationed to
protect it from the depredations of the Indians and Mormons. Several
Mormons came to camp with wagons loaded with produce, for which they
demanded extravagant prices. They were immediately surrounded by us, as
much to see bona fide Mormons as to purchase these comforts and
luxuries of which we have been so long deprived. We were soon involved
in warm disputes concerning the justice of the Government and the
culpability of the Mormon leaders. They appeared to be very
intelligent, and evidently considered themselves a badly used people.

_July 27_ (Tuesday). We marched nineteen and a half miles, and encamped
again on Hams Fork, which we were obliged to ford four times during the
day. The country looks more fertile. We beheld, during the day,
unmistakable proof of the severity of Colonel Cook's march of last
winter, in the immense number of dead cattle scattered along the road.
We counted over three hundred carcasses of oxen and mules, and in some
places as high as ten, twelve, and fifteen in one group.

_July 28_ (Wednesday). We remained in camp, the Commanding Officer
having gone to Fort Bridger to ascertain if any orders were waiting for
him. This afternoon three companies of volunteers passed our camp en
route for the States; they were composed, we were informed, of the
teamsters who came out last fall and winter. They looked as though they
had seen some pretty hard service, but strode along nevertheless with
the determination, apparently, not to allow distance, inconvenience, or
other influence to retard their homeward progress. They regarded us
with an expression which seemed to say, "God help you, poor fellows! We
pity you, indeed."

_July 29_ (Thursday). We moved out at noon, and encamped on Henrys
Fork, four miles farther. Lieutenant Alexander and eight men, with
wagons, left us before daylight to go to the Fort for rations. When we
reached our new camp we found them already there, awaiting our arrival.
The move to-day was necessary in order to obtain a fresh supply of
grass, it being closely cropped by the cattle belonging to the
ox-trains which camp along these streams. A wagon load of soldiers
passed our camp, going to relieve the guard at the bridge.

_July 30_ (Friday). No march to-day. Our herd was sent about a mile up
the stream, half the guard accompanying it, relieved at noon by the
other half. The Infantry detachment, which we left behind a few days
ago to await the arrival of the Regiment, joined us this evening and
pitched camp alongside of us. The Mormons are again in camp with
butter, eggs, cheese, and onions.

_July 31_ (Saturday). We remained in camp all day. No duty was required
of us and we enjoyed a good rest, a luxury we have had but once since
our start from Leavenworth.

_August 1_ (Sunday). We moved on this morning and encamped within a half
mile of Fort Bridger. The Fort, as it appears to us from our camp,
resembles an extensive camp more than a fort, and is not inappropriately
named "Camp Scott." It is situated very low in a fertile valley,
directly at the foot of the highest chain of the Rocky Mountains we
have yet seen, and watered by an intricate maze of mountain streams.

This is the termination of our outward journey. We are a hundred and
thirteen miles from Salt Lake City, and very eager to proceed--tormented
with impatience by the dilatory movements, continually anxious lest a
peace should be concluded before we reach Salt Lake. Day and night we
are absorbed with speculation as to whether we will proceed to join
General Johnston or receive orders to return to the East.

_August 2_ (Monday). A party of us visited the Fort. It is composed
mostly of tents of all shapes and sizes. Attempts have been made to
render them comfortable for the winter by covering them with two or
three thicknesses of canvas. In front is erected a substitute for a
piazza, consisting of a sort of entry or hall enclosed with wagon
covers, while in the rear is seen a huge stack of mud blocks, arranged
as though a fruitless effort was made to get them into some kind of
symmetrical form, probably to represent masonry. We inquired whether
these appendages were intended for ornament or use, and were informed
that they were chimneys. The garrison consists of three companies, one
of cavalry and two of infantry, which are now engaged in erecting four
log buildings to be occupied as quarters during the coming winter.

The fort proper is represented by a wall about twenty-five feet in
height and three feet thick, built of cobblestones, whitewashed inside
and out. Within stands the commissary and sutler's stores, together
with a confused mass of rude buildings, in the pig-pen style of
architecture. The stone wall is flanked by two well-built lunettes,
with a relief of about fourteen feet, the gabion and fascine work being
substantially made and placed. In the salient of one of the lunettes is
a small brass four-pounder, mounted in barbette upon a wooden platform.
The ditch is enclosed with an abatis, which, considering the material
and means available, is quite an achievement in the art of field

Great numbers of ox and mule wagons were corralled about the Fort,
having come out in trains from time to time. But the oxen that once
plodded their weary way before them have long since furnished food for
the garrison, and the mules have been sent to Salt Lake Valley. When
the wagons accumulate in such numbers as to form an obstacle they are
burned, being rarely sent back East.

To-day is election day in this country, and although we have been
residents of the place such a short time, we were besieged by the
friends of the candidates and the candidates themselves, for our
support. As there are but seventeen civilians about the Fort the
majority of the offices are filled by soldiers. The ticket consists of
one representative, three selectmen, one sheriff, one recorder, one
assessor, one coroner, one surveyor, one stray-pound keeper, one
justice of the peace and one constable.

A supply train of fifty-two wagons came in to the Fort to-day, of which
half remained here and the other half proceeded to join General

_August 3_ (Tuesday). The day was spent in putting in order the
contents of our train, which had fallen into confusion during the
march, and preparing ourselves either to continue into the farther
regions of Utah, or to turn about and take a second view of those we
have already once seen. Tools were, overhauled and assorted, account
taken of expenditures, and clothing and other necessities issued.

_August 4_ (Wednesday). A day occupied in writing and reading.

_August 5_ (Thursday). The three men whom we left behind with the Sixth
came to camp this afternoon, quite recovered from the fever. The
Regiment arrived and encamped on the opposite side of the Fort; the
remainder of the day and evening were naturally employed in mutual
visits between the two camps.


_August 6_ (Friday). Farewell, Brigham! This time ill fortune has
stepped between us. We had set our minds upon becoming acquainted with
you, but we are reluctantly compelled to forego the pleasure. Farewell,
ye Mormon dames! The fates have decreed that you are not yet to be
released from your odious thralldom. This time Duplicity, in the garb
of Peace--Evil arrayed in the robes of Amity--have triumphed, and
Justice, with a mournful smile and a pitying tear, puts aside her sword
and scale.

Such was the mental address which dwelt in our minds to-day, when we
received orders to return with all expedition and resume our customary
duties at West Point. The joyous prospect of meeting with old
associations and once more clasping the hands of our dear friends was
partially dampened by thoughts of the long, weary distance between us
and them, and of the numerous hardships and difficulties which lie
before us. We are to return by the Northern Route, through the South
Pass and Fort Laramie, and as we are to start early Monday we are
busily engaged to-day in making the necessary preparations.

_August 7_ (Saturday). To-day we finished our preparations for the
march and devoted the remainder of the day to rest. Many changes were
made in the personnel of the teamsters and other employees. As many of
the teamsters of the commissary train desired to return to the States,
they were sent to drive for us, and our teamsters were taken to supply
their places, the Sixth Infantry being under orders to proceed to
Oregon. One individual we parted with reluctantly, Mr. Dwyer, the
assistant wagon-master of our train, a man of noble character and a
great favorite with us. He was appointed full wagon-master in the

_August 8_ (Sunday). This was hailed as a day of rest, on which we did
nothing but think of the number of miles to be travelled before
reaching our much-wished-for haven.

_August 9_ (Monday). We started upon our return march, encamping on
Blacks Fork, a distance of eighteen and a quarter miles.

_August 10_ (Tuesday). We encamped on Blacks Fork again, after a march
of sixteen and three-quarter miles. When we were approaching the bridge
at Hams Fork one of our men, Bourcey, the blacksmith, was thrown from
the forge, the mules having been frightened at the body of a dead ox
lying in the road. His face was badly cut and it was feared he was
injured internally, as the wheel passed across his breast. He was left
at the bridge, in care of the guard stationed there.

_August 11_ (Wednesday). We reached the upper crossing of the Green
River. This has proved a very severe march, owing to the heat and sandy
road and to the length of the march, twenty-three and a third miles.
About 9 a.m. we arrived at the junction of this road and the new one we
made through Bridgers Pass. We reached the lower crossing of the Green
River at about half-past one. There we beheld large heaps of iron
scattered about near the river, a great deal of it imbedded in ashes;
this, we were informed, was all that remained of the Government train
the Mormons had destroyed at the commencement of hostilities. As the
river was too deep for fording at the lower crossing, we continued to
the upper one, where we managed to get safely across, the men holding
on behind the wagons.

_August 12_ (Thursday). We marched nineteen miles and arrived at the
Big Sandy Creek. A herd of cattle passed us to-day numbering nine
hundred head; they seemed in good condition and gave us evidence of the
plentifulness of grass along the route over which we are to pass.

_August 13_ (Friday). We continued the march to the Little Sandy,
nineteen miles farther. The road was hard and gravelly, the day cool,
with a bracing breeze, and we came into camp quite fresh and strong.
Our camp stands upon the bank of the creek, where excellent water is
available, wood convenient, and grass for the herd plentiful and good.

_August 14_ (Saturday). We reached Pacific Springs, having marched
twenty and a half miles. The ground was rough and hilly, and the mules
lagged a little. We like this kind of country best for marching, as we
have longer rests before the train catches up at the end of our
hour-long marches.

To-day we encountered an ox-train, the wagon-master of which had
yeast-powders for sale. We purchased some with great alacrity, as we
have been obliged to bake our cakes and bread without that ingredient.

The water here is found only in grassy springs and is not very pure.

_August 15_ (Sunday). We left camp this morning to make about a seven
mile march to Sweet Water, where we could find good grass and water,
but the march was drawn out to the length of twenty-three and a half
miles. We went through the South Pass, which is hardly deserving the
name of a pass, being nothing but a valley between hills. The Wind
River Mountains have been in sight all day, presenting, with their
irregular outlines, an imposing appearance. They are high and rocky,
with little or no vegetation.

Our camp to-night is on a branch of Sweet Water Creek.

_August 16_ (Monday). We remained in camp, enjoying a rest from the
fatigue of marching.

_August 17_ (Tuesday). We reached Sweet Water Creek, after a march of
twenty-three miles, during which we passed over a ridge of hills called
the "Devils Backbone." It was a very oppressive day, owing to the heat
and dust.

We met a contented looking family of emigrants, moving slowly westward.
They were quite surprised to see us and seemed to think we were going
the wrong way.

_August 18_ (Wednesday). We again encamped on Sweet Water Creek, a
distance of twenty-two and a quarter miles. A number of officers of the
Tenth Infantry, going to the States on leave of absence, stopped at our
camp, and went on in advance with our officers. When we reached our new
camp they were comfortably enjoying a prairie siesta.

_August 19_ (Thursday). Seventeen and a half miles were traversed in
to-day's march, which was characterized by many interesting features.
The Rattlesnake Mountains, through which the whole march lay, are very
high and rocky, but instead of being a continuous chain they stand
separate from each other, allowing the road to wind a comparatively
level course between them. We passed through Rattlesnake Pass, a very
wild, craggy gorge between the first peaks, the rocks and stones along
its precipitous sides thickly lettered over with rude attempts of
ambitious persons to hand down their names to posterity. Toward the
close of the march we passed through Sweet Water Cañon, the most
sublime spectacle we have yet witnessed. The coolness of this
delightful spot was a strong inducement for lingering, but duty pointed
us over the barren prairie again, and very reluctantly we left Sweet
Water Cañon behind.

We passed the Fourth Column, consisting of four companies of the
Seventh Infantry and a company of Cavalry, commanded by Colonel

_August 20_ (Friday). We moved on to the Devils Gate, a distance of
twenty and a half miles. The route lay principally along Sweet Water
Creek, the sight of which, its banks covered by a luxuriant growth of
grass, was very welcome to our eyes; and the road, too, instead of
being dusty, was hard and well beaten.

Company F, Seventh Infantry, passed us to-day, escorting the families
of some of the men of the Sixth Infantry. We also saw a large trading
post during the march, for the benefit of the neighboring tribes of
Indians and profit of the Canadian-French proprietor. It was, as is
usual with trading posts, surrounded by a number of Indian wigwams, the
denizens of which were lazily lolling in the sun.

_August 21_ (Saturday). At reveille all who wished to go through the
Devils Gate were requested to step to the front; the whole Company
unanimously presented themselves for a visit to his Satanic Majesty's
portals. The Gate is a gorge between the mountains, which, apparently,
have been parted for the express purpose of giving passage to the
waters of Sweet Water Creek. On one side the massive rocks rise to a
height of three hundred feet, projecting almost across the gap; at this
part a deep, black fissure starts from the bottom and ascends to the
very top, resembling a chimney; the gap about eighty feet wide, the
bottom covered with large boulders. We scrambled into every accessible
nook and corner, yelling and shouting like maniacs.

We went on to Greasewood Creek, marching twenty-one and three-quarter
miles. Another large trading post was seen to-day, kept by Louis
Greenyard; it is said to be the most extensive post along the route.
Mr. Greenyard has erected a bridge across the stream at this place.

_August 22_ (Sunday). We marched twenty-three and a quarter miles and
encamped on the banks of the North Fork of the Platte River. As on last
Sunday, we broke camp to move only a few miles to obtain grass for the
herd; but we made a long march, nevertheless. The route lay over a very
hilly and rocky country. At one time we would be gazing from the top of
a high hill, at another winding across the bottom of a barren, dusty
valley. The road was sandy and the water scarce. We hailed the view of
the North Fork with acclamations of joy. At our camp a trading and mail
post is stationed, and a little below stands an Arapahoe Indian
village, the inhabitants of which soon turned out to visit us.

_August 23_ (Monday). We did not move camp, but adopted this as a day
of rest. The Indians, no doubt, thought we stayed in order to give them
an opportunity of making acquaintance, which they set about doing in a
very indefatigable manner, greatly to our annoyance, for they are a
filthy, indolent tribe. We were obliged to remain in or near our tents
all day, to keep them out, not through fear of their taking anything,
for they appear to be honest, but for fear of their leaving vermin

_August 24_ (Tuesday). We encamped on Little Muddy Creek, after a march
of eighteen and a half miles. We followed the course of the river a few
miles, over a very uneven road. One hill was so steep that the ordinary
teams could not draw the wagons; we were forced to double the teams,
take half the train up first and then return for the remainder. We
passed the Fifth Column this morning, composed of Companies A and D,
Seventh Infantry, and a company of the Third Artillery, with a long
train. The Sixth Column then passed us, Companies I and E of the
Seventh Infantry and two companies of Cavalry, having under their
protection a number of emigrant wagons going to Salt Lake, the
emigrants being principally Danes and Germans.

About two miles below where we are encamped this evening a bridge is
built across the Platte and left in charge of two companies of the
Fourth Artillery.

A travelling grocery store came into camp this evening, a vehicle built
after the manner of a stage, and quite as ornamentally painted. The
usual commodities sold in Western stores were retailed at very moderate
prices from this fancy curiosity shop. As soon as custom began to lag,
the proprietor closed up shop and, whipping up his oxen, started in
search of a new location.

_August 25_ (Wednesday). We marched twenty-two miles, which brought us
to Deer Creek. The country is now assuming a very interesting
appearance to us, at least, who have been so long in the wilderness.
Our camp-ground, to-night, is a veritable flower garden; the fields
yellow with flowers, the green trees, the white, sandy banks of the
river, and the river itself, form a very beautiful spectacle. A
village, containing about a dozen log houses and Indian huts, stands
close by our camp. It is called "Dacotah City," and the inhabitants are
French and Indians.

_August 26_ (Thursday). Having marched eighteen and a quarter miles, we
camped on La Prèlé Creek. At Box Elder Creek we stopped at noon. The
mules were turned out to feed on the fine crop of grass, and the cooks
prepared our dinner. After two or three hours' rest we again took up
our march.

_August 27_ (Friday). We encamped on La Bonté Creek, after a march of
eighteen miles. The country seems to undergo a general improvement as
we approach Fort Laramie. Toward the close of the march Laramie Peak
came into view.

_August 28_ (Saturday). Our camp was pitched on Horseshoe Creek,
concluding a march of twenty-three and a half miles. A great deal of
timber was seen and we passed through several romantic looking glens
and ravines. The weather seemed mild and many of us rolled ourselves in
our blankets and, throwing ourselves upon the ground by the fires, were
soon lulled to sleep by the prairie serenaders--wolves, buffaloes,
owls, whippoorwills, and coyotes. But during the night the fires became
extinguished, and, a dense fog having arisen, our blankets were
saturated with water when we awoke.

_August 29_ (Sunday). We reached Bitter Cottonwood Creek after a march
of eighteen and a quarter miles. During most of the forenoon a thick
fog enveloped the country, effectually veiling the surrounding scenery
from our view--much to our annoyance, as we were expecting to come
within sight of Fort Laramie on this or to-morrow's march. We passed
several Indian lodges in the morning, from which a few dusky warriors
issued forth to greet us with the well-known words of welcome, "How!
How!" This evening our guide went ahead to the Fort, intending to
return to-morrow in order to direct us by a short cut.

_August 30_ (Monday). After marching twenty-one miles we entered the
long desired Fort Laramie. We again struck the Platte River shortly
after breaking camp. The whole road from Fort Bridger to Fort Laramie
has been infested with a nuisance in the shape of dead cattle. Not one
day's march have we made since leaving Fort Bridger that we are not
obliged to pass by many of these disgusting objects. We were informed
by a teamster of an ox train that one wagon-master had lost fifty
cattle in one night, with the bloody murrain, an epidemic which
prevails among the cattle in these regions to an alarming extent.

Our camp to-night is on the Laramie River, about half a mile below the

_August 31_ (Tuesday). We prepared for muster, which took place at 8
a.m., the Company being mustered by our own Commanding Officer. The
Indians are about in great numbers, hanging around the camp all day,
begging for food and carrying away the offal which is left after
killing our beef. Several old crones and children have been scratching
in the grass, from daylight until dark, collecting the grains of corn
which the mules had left. At one of their villages across the river
they have been lamenting the demise of one of their tribe; they
commence their orgies at dusk with a low, plaintive wail, which they
gradually increase in volume until it becomes a wild, furious chant,
occasionally interrupted by dismal shrieks.

_September 1_ (Wednesday). The day was spent in preparing to resume our
march, rations being drawn and many articles, including the forge,
being turned over to the Quartermaster at the Fort. Some teamsters were
discharged and others engaged in their places.

_September 2_ (Thursday). We marched twenty-three and a quarter miles,
and encamped on the Platte. The site was so densely covered with wild
marigold that we called the camp "Marigold Plain." We passed two Indian
villages to-day, the inhabitants of which belong to some of the tribes
that have been at the gathering to hunt buffaloes at the South Fork of
the Platte; having furnished themselves with winter provisions they are
now on the return to their usual grounds.

_September 3_ (Friday). We encamped near Scotts Bluff, having marched
twenty-two miles. It was an exceedingly tiresome march, owing to the
heat and dust. Several mirages were seen in looking down the river. We
passed two more Indian camps and met many Indians scattered along the
road, on their way to the West. An ox-train is corralled alongside of
us this evening, the wagon-master of which informs us that the Cheyenne
Indians are collected on the South Platte in such numbers as to render
them quite insolent, and that they have even attempted to force
wagon-masters of trains to give them provisions.

_September 4_ (Saturday). We pitched camp near Castle or Courthouse
Rocks, after having marched twenty-four miles. This has been a more
oppressive day even than yesterday.

_September 5_ (Sunday). We remained in camp. As fuel of every
description is scarce at this place the police party was sent out on
mule-back, with gunny-bags, in quest of buffalo chips.

_September 6_ (Monday). Our march extended as far as Platte Meadows,
twenty-five and a half miles. Toward the latter part of the afternoon
it began to rain, and has continued a dismal, dreary fall all night.

_September 7_ (Tuesday). We again encamped on the Platte, marching
twenty-two and a half miles. The mosquitoes were very troublesome
during the march, following us in perfect clouds--do all that we could
to present it, we were soon covered with stings.

_September 8_ (Wednesday). We marched twenty and a half miles and once
more encamped on the North Platte.

_September 9_ (Thursday). We encamped near Ash Hollow, a distance of
seventeen and a half miles. We followed the sandy bed of the Hollow
until we arrived at the point where the road leaves it and ascends a
high hill. Before undertaking the ascent, we unharnessed the mules,
turned them out to grass, and ate our dinner. Night found us crossing
the hills between the two forks of the Platte, beneath a steady fall of
rain. We were at last obliged to encamp upon the road, where no water
could be obtained; but we had anticipated this want, having brought all
the barrels and kegs that we could possibly muster filled with water
from the spring in the hollow.

_September 10_ (Friday). We pitched our camp on the south side of the
South Fork of the Platte River, concluding a march of eighteen and a
half miles. The crossing of the river was very different from that of
three months ago; we merely rolled up our pantaloons and forded the
stream, coming out on the other side perfectly dry, the water being no
place more than knee deep. We continued along the river about four
miles and then encamped.

_September 11_ (Saturday). We marched twenty-three and a half miles and
encamped again on the South Fork. We passed a mule-train which was
taking out the families of the Fourth Artillery and the Second

_September 12_ (Sunday). We stayed in camp to-day for a rest. A few of
us got together and prepared what in this country is called a sumptuous
dinner--boiled tongue, fried bacon and beefsteak, liver and onions,
flap-jacks, boiled rice and chocolate. This feast being spread out in
tempting array on the ground, two or three of the men in the next tent
were invited to dinner and we gathered around it, sitting cross-legged.
In the afternoon the tent was converted into a wine press. Some of the
men had found grapes in their rambles and brought as many as they could
carry. Accordingly, putting all the empty cups into the service, we
pressed the grapes into them, mashing them with our hands. After
working indefatigably a couple of hours, staining ourselves from head
to foot and spoiling all the silk handkerchiefs we could obtain in the
process of straining, we procured about a gallon of grape juice.

_September 13_ (Monday). We encamped at Fremonts Spring, having marched
twenty-four and a half miles. This is a very poor camp site. The water
is stagnant, being found only in a slough of black mud, and fuel is
very scarce. The comet which was discovered June 2d by Donati was
rediscovered by us this evening; the appearance of the phenomenon was
highly interesting, as we had an excellent opportunity of seeing it
over our prairie horizon.

_September 14_ (Tuesday). We marched twenty-five and three-quarter
miles, and encamped near Box Elder Creek. The water is even worse than
at Fremonts Spring, and we were obliged to dig for some that was fit
for use. The mosquitoes being very numerous and bloodthirsty here, we
burnt an incense of buffalo chips in our tent this evening. Several
buffaloes were seen during the march, feeding, about a mile from the
road and almost at the foot of the sand hills which extend the whole
length of the river. They were too far off, however, to permit a chase.

_September 15_ (Wednesday). We encamped on the main Platte, after a
march of twenty-five and three-quarter miles. When we left camp, this
morning, a shaggy brute of a buffalo came very close to the company; he
soon paid the forfeit of his life for his curiosity, being shot by
Lieutenant Alexander. A short time afterward a small herd came close to
us. Lieutenant Alexander gave chase and wounded a fine, large fellow
that ran directly toward us. When he came within range a half-dozen of
us crept toward him, but at the first shot, being hit, he turned about
and ran in a different course. We continued the chase, but were all
recalled to the company except one, who followed the animal, firing at
intervals, and watched by us with intense interest. At last the buffalo
seemed exhausted and stopped, the hunter drawing near him. We saw the
man shoot and saw the beast leap into the air, then turn and charge on
the man who had fired at him. The whole Company started to his rescue,
loading as we ran, and the first few shots turned the buffalo toward
the hills, in which direction he bounded with mighty strides,
notwithstanding the fact that he was riddled with bullets. He was
finished later by some of the men with the train, and brought into

The valley, on the other side of the river, is literally black with
buffaloes. Soon after we made camp a large fellow waded leisurely
across the river, just in front of the camp, so that we were able to
get a near view of him. He was one of the ugliest of these ugly brutes.
Shot after shot was fired at the animal, yet he stood firm and
resolute, not a motion betraying pain or fear. There was something
noble in the manner in which he faced his persecutors, as though,
knowing he could not reach them, he could yet show them he knew how to
die. Suddenly he curved his tail, a shudder went through his mighty
frame, and he rolled over dead. The men waded out and cut him up. After
dark the wolves finished what the men had left.

_September 16_ (Thursday). We marched twenty-four and a half miles and
camped near Plum Creek. The buffaloes made their appearance in great
numbers; one small herd ran across the road, directly in front of the
train, which sudden charge frightened the mules into a general, though
short-lived, stampede. Nine buffaloes were killed to-day, only three of
which, however, were brought in.

_September 17_ (Friday). We encamped on the Platte River, after a march
of twenty-four and a half miles. It proved to be a severe march, the
day being hot and the roads dusty. Our canteens became empty toward the
latter part of the march and we suffered greatly for the want of water.
When we came within sight of the river the whole Company made an
unceremonious rush for it--never did water seem more cool and
refreshing. The number of buffaloes seems to increase rather than
diminish. The Company fired two volleys at one, which had the temerity
to approach to within point-blank range. He limped for a few hundred
yards with his grievous load of lead, then quietly lay down and
expired. At another time we fired by file at a herd, to drive it from
the road.

_September 18_ (Saturday). We arrived once more at Fort Kearney, having
marched nineteen and a quarter miles. Not one buffalo was seen during
the whole day, although there was a party detailed to hunt. Their
sudden disappearance surprised us considerably, until we learned that
the grass throughout the last twenty miles is of a kind that the animal
does not relish. We encamped in rear of the Fort, where the water is
most convenient. The man who was left here on the march out, Robert
Ayres, rejoined the Company, having completely recovered.

_September 19_ (Sunday). The day was given up to rest, which our weary
bodies much needed, as the fatiguing nature of the long marches and the
frequent occurrence of our tours of guard duty have drawn very largely
upon our physical energies.

_September 20_ (Monday). We drew rations to-day and made general
preparations for our start to-morrow. Darkness brought with it a
fiddler from the Fort, a real jovial "culluhed puhson," who was not so
much a violinist as a fiddler; who danced "Juba," "Jim Crow," and the
"Old Virginia Break-down," and sang all the Negro songs in the
catalogue for the edification and amusement of his numerous audience.

_September 21_ (Tuesday). We traversed twenty-two and three-quarters
miles of country, and encamped on the hills above Platte Valley. As we
feared the necessity of camping where water could not be found, we
nooned on the river before bidding it farewell. Our cooks made
preparations for soup, but discovered upon examining the meat that by
reason of the warm weather we would have to forego that refreshment. We
filled our water casks before resuming our march, and after a very
fatiguing tramp we encamped near a slough, which, together with what
water we had brought with us, supplied our necessities for this

_September 22_ (Wednesday). We reached the Little Blue River, after a
march of twenty-seven miles. The route was over the hills which border
upon the Little Blue; at the termination of the march we descended into
the valley and encamped on the bank of the river. Game has been
unusually scarce the past few days, but to-day a buffalo and some
antelopes were seen, although we did not succeed in obtaining any.

_September 23_ (Thursday). We encamped again on the Little Blue,
concluding a march of twenty-four miles. We passed a spot where a new
log building had not long since been commenced. Upon entering it a dog
was discovered lying on the ground, near some clothing saturated with
blood. We endeavored to entice the dog out, but neither threat nor
persuasion would induce him to leave his solitary tenement, all we
could elicit from him being an inquiring, mournful look which moved the
sternest heart to pity. We suspected that the premises had been the
scene of foul play, and upon further search a newly made grave was
found contiguous to the building. Later we were told that the man who
had owned the claim was murdered by a lawless gang of ruffians which
infests the neighborhood.

_September 24_ (Friday). Our odometer registered twenty-three miles.
Our camp is near a large elm tree, the only tree to be seen for miles
around, wherefore we adopted the name, "Lone Tree Camp." One or two log
houses were seen during the day's march, and we derived some comfort
from the fact that we are once more getting into an inhabited country.

_September 25_ (Saturday). We passed several very fine streams in the
course of our twenty-three-mile march, but encamped near a nauseous bog
from which we were forced to take water for drinking and cooking. We
crossed the Big and Little Sandy Creeks, at the latter of which we cut
a supply of wood, leaving the sick wagon behind to carry it. At the Big
Sandy we saw a very tasty log building, which, together with its
grounds, possessed an air of comfort lacking in many farms and houses
farther East.

_September 26_ (Sunday). We continued in camp, an arrangement that
accords very well with the dictates of our consciences, which become
the more sensitive the nearer we approach to civilization. At the close
of the day we sang some sacred songs--a sort of penance for the many
breaches of the Fourth Commandment of which we have been guilty during
the march.

_September 27_ (Monday). We encamped at Cottonwood Creek, after a march
of twenty-six and a quarter miles. To-day an arrangement was made which
conduces greatly to the comfort of the Company. An order was published
to the effect that half of the guard should ride half the length of the
march, and the other half of the guard the remainder; also that a third
of the Company should ride an hour, then to be relieved by another
third, and so on. This assisted very much in saving us from the fatigue
of steady marching.

_September 28_ (Tuesday). We marched twenty-four and a half miles and
encamped on Small Creek. We crossed the Big Blue River, by fording,
this morning, and halted there an hour for rest and to water the mules.
We then passed through Palmetto City, and found that since our march
through there, in going out, there have been added several more
buildings; the place has, in fact, begun to assume the appearance of a
thriving little village. The pleasure of entering a store was furnished
us, and we gave the astonished proprietors an unusual run of custom for
a few minutes.

_September 29_ (Wednesday). We marched and rode twenty-eight and a
quarter miles, and encamped on Big Nemaha Creek. The march afforded
nothing of note, with the exception of a watermelon frolic, which
occurred during a rest in front of a store. We were so elated at once
more coming within reach of fruit that the proprietor was quickly rid
of his stock of melons and cantaloupes.

_September 30_ (Thursday). We pitched our camp on Muddy Creek,
concluding a march of twenty-one miles. As there are several farmhouses
in the vicinity of our camp, this evening we had an opportunity to
enjoy the luxury of butter, milk, cheese, eggs, etc.--which good
fortune contributed not a little toward restoring us to cheerfulness
and good humor.

_October 1_ (Friday). Twenty-six and a half miles were left behind,
which brought us to the first branch of Grasshopper Creek. Very many
comfortable farms were seen, the grounds covered with thriving crops.
We crossed the third and second branches of Grasshopper Creek, and
Walnut Creek.

_October 2_ (Saturday). We pitched our camp below Mount Pleasant, a
neat little town about thirteen miles from Fort Leavenworth. The day's
march amounted to twenty miles. The road presented an unusual sight, in
that it was nearly all the way enclosed between two fences. When we
passed over this road on our march to Utah, scarcely more than a dozen
farms were to be seen, and those but lately commenced; now we are
astonished to see the country, for about forty miles from Leavenworth,
thickly settled with fine, thriving farms, neatly built houses, and
waving fields of grain, enclosed by strong, well built fences.

_October 3_ (Sunday). To-day we arrived at the termination of our
march--the goal that has been so anxiously looked for--and in the midst
of a general excitement in the meeting of friends, and the hurry and
bustle of unpacking the wagons and carrying their contents into our old
quarters, we took possession of our rooms, every one laughing and
talking together, exceedingly delighted to think our hardships at last
concluded. The evening was employed in ridding ourselves of the soil
and stains of our long march; the well-worn prairie uniform being
speedily cast off, and new articles of clothing, perseveringly
husbanded for this occasion, as quickly taking its place.

    [End of narrative.]

               *       *       *       *       *

    NOTE: But a few days were spent at Fort Leavenworth before the
    Company resumed the eastward movement, by boat and train, arriving
    at West Point on the 12th day of October, 1858.

               *       *       *       *       *

    The Outward March                             989
    The Return March                            1,028-1/3
    Extra Marching in Work of Construction         62
    Aggregate                                   2,079-1/3

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Narrative of the March of Co. A, Engineers from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to Fort Bridger, Utah, and Return - May 6 to October 3, 1858" ***

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