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´╗┐Title: Recollections of a Pioneer
Author: Gibson, J. Watt
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: J. W. (WATT) GIBSON.]


_of a_ PIONEER



Press of Nelson-Hanne Printing Co.
107 South Third Street
St. Joseph, Mo.



The following pages are entirely from memory. I kept no notes or other
record of the events I have attempted to relate, but I am sure my
memory has not often deceived me. My early responsibilities compelled
me to give close attention to the things which transpired about me
and thus fixed them permanently in my mind. In fact, most of the
experiences which I have attempted to relate were of such personal
consequence that I was compelled to be alert and to know what was

I undertook the present task at the solicitation of many friends and
acquaintances who urged that my recollections of a period, now fast
passing out of personal memory, ought to be preserved. It is probable
that I have made a good many errors, especially, in my attempts to
locate places and to give distances, but it must be remembered that
we had no maps or charts with us on the plains and that but few state
lines or other sub-divisions were in existence. The location of the
places where events occurred with reference to present geographical
lines has been my most difficult task.

          J. W. (WATT) GIBSON.

_St. Joseph, Mo., August 15, 1912._


CHAPTER                                                 PAGE

     I. Early Days in Buchanan County.                     5

    II. First Trip to California.                         16

   III. Gold Mining in '49 and '50.                       42

    IV. Back Across the Plains.                           58

     V. Across the Plains With Cattle.                    67

    VI. A Bear Hunt.                                      75

   VII. Home by way of Panama and New York.               83

  VIII. Another Trip Across the Plains with Cattle.       86

    IX. Sojourn in California.                            98

     X. Beginning of the War.                            106

    XI. The Battle of Lexington.                         114

   XII. Back to the South.                               124

  XIII. Home for Recruits.                               132

   XIV. War in Arkansas.                                 147

    XV. Back into Missouri.                              157

   XVI. Worse Than War.                                  171

  XVII. Across the Plains in Sixty-five.                 190

 XVIII. The Return to Missouri.                          206


_Early Days in Buchanan County._

I was born in Bartow County, Georgia, on the 22nd day of January,
1829. Sometime during my infancy, and at a period too early to be
remembered, my father and his family moved to East Tennessee, where we
lived until I was ten years old. About this time reports concerning
the Platte Purchase and its splendid farming land began to reach us. I
do not now recall the exact channel through which these reports came,
but I think some of our relatives had gone there and had written back
urging us to come. My father finally yielded and in the spring of 1839
sold his Tennessee farm and prepared for the long journey overland.
I was old enough at the time to take some note of what passed, and I
remember that my father received four thousand dollars for his land
in Indiana "shin plasters." I recall also the preparations that were
made for the journey--the outfitting of the wagons, gathering the
stock together, and most important of all, the part assigned to me.
I was provided with a pony, saddle and bridle and given charge of a
herd of loose cattle and horses. We had a rude camp outfit and carried
along with us all the household plunder with which we expected to
start life in the new country. As may be well imagined, there was not
a great deal of it, although the family was large. In those days the
people had to be satisfied with the barest necessities. Some idea of
the extent of this part of my father's worldly property may be given
by saying that the entire outfit, including camp equipment, was loaded
into two wagons.

I shall never forget the morning we started. Everything had been
loaded the day before, except the articles necessary to the sojourn
over night. We were up bright and early, had breakfast in little
better than camp style, and were off before sun up. My father, mother,
and the younger children took the first wagon, and one of my brothers
and my sisters the second. I was upon my pony and in my glory. The
wagons moved forward and I rounded up the cattle and horses and forced
them along after the wagons. I was too young to feel any tender
sentiment toward the old home or to appreciate the fact that I was
leaving it forever, but I remember that my father and mother often
looked back, and as we passed over the hill out of sight, I saw them
turn and wave a long farewell. Many times since I have thought of that
scene and have learned to know full well its meaning to my father and

I cannot recall all the particulars of this toilsome journey, and if I
could, they would hardly interest the reader. I remember that I soon
lost the enthusiasm of that early morning on which we started and grew
very tired and longed for the end of our journey. For a great many
days it seemed to me we traveled through a rugged mountain country.
The hills were long and toilsome, the streams had no bridges and had
to be forded, and I frequently had great difficulty in getting my
cattle and horses to follow the wagons. On such occasions, the caravan
would stop and the whole family would come to my aid. Of course, there
were no fences along the sides of the road and my stock becoming
wearied or tempted by the green herbage alongside would wander out
into the woods and brush and give me much trouble. When I think of
these difficulties, I do not wonder that I became wearied, but as my
life was afterwards ordered, this boyish experience taught me a lesson
which many times proved useful.

I remember when we crossed what they said was the line into Kentucky.
I could see no difference in the mountains, valleys or the rivers, but
somehow I felt that there ought to be a difference and that Kentucky
could not be like Tennessee, and yet it was. Here I learned, thus
early in life, what so many people find it hard even in later years
to appreciate, that names and distances do not make differences and
that all places upon the face of the earth, no matter how they vary in
physical appearance, are after all very much alike. I believe it is
the realization of this fact that makes the difference between the man
who knows the world and the one who does not. After a long time, as
it seemed to me, we passed out of the mountains and into a beautiful
rolling country improved even in that early day with many turnpikes
and exhibiting every indication of prosperity. There were negroes
everywhere--many more than we had in Tennessee, and I remember hearing
them singing as they worked in the fields. I now know that this
country was what has since been known as the "Blue Grass Region" of
Kentucky, though at the time, I thought the mountains of my old home a
much better place to live.

For a long time, even before the journey began, I had heard a great
deal about the Ohio River and knew that we must cross it, and when
the people along the road began to tell us that we were nearing that
stream, I became filled with curiosity to see it and to know what it
would be like and to see and experience the sensation of crossing it
on a ferry-boat. Finally we came to the top of a long hill and away
off to the north we saw the river winding through a deep valley, and
some one, my father, I think, pointed out a mere speck on the surface
of the water and told us it was a ferry-boat. When we reached the bank
of the river we found the boat tied alongside, and to my surprise,
horses, wagons and cattle were all driven upon it. I had no idea
that a ferry-boat was such a huge affair. It was run by horse-power,
and it took us only a few minutes to reach the farther shore, and
I was disappointed that my trip was not a longer one. The landing
and unloading took but a few minutes. My father paid the man and we
started immediately to climb the hill on the other side. I must not
neglect to mention that somewhere on the road in the northern part
of Kentucky or immediately after we crossed the river, my father
exchanged the "shin plasters" for which he had sold his farm for
silver, that currency being at par in that locality. He received four
thousand silver dollars. I saw them with my own eyes. He put them in a
strong box and loaded them into one of the wagons along with the other

I do not remember at what point we crossed the Ohio River. I did not,
of course, know at the time, and if my father or any member of the
family ever told me the place afterwards I have forgotten it; but the
event is as vivid in my mind as if it had occurred yesterday.

There was little in our journey across Indiana and Illinois to impress
that portion of the road upon my memory. All I recall is in a general
way that I could see no familiar mountains, and over parts of the
journey I remember that the country appeared to me to be monotonously
level. I cannot give the length of time that was required in making
this journey, but I do remember when we reached the Mississippi River.
We crossed at Alton, if I am not mistaken, and in place of a horse
ferry we had a steam ferry, which was to me a much more wonderful
contrivance than the horse ferry on the Ohio. Then the river was so
much wider. I remember wondering where all that vast body of water
could come from. They told us, when we landed on the opposite shore,
that we were in Missouri, and I thought my journey must be nearly
ended, but I was never more mistaken. Day after day our wagons
trundled along, night after night we went into camp, worn out with the
day's journey, only to get up again early in the morning and repeat
the same experience.

We reached Tremont Township, Buchanan County, on the 29th day of
May, 1839, and straightway settled upon a tract of land about a mile
and a quarter southeast of what is now Garrettsburg. A house of some
character was the first thing to which my father turned his attention,
and it was not long before a rude log cabin was under construction.
I was too small to take much part in this work, but I remember that
such neighbors as we had were good to us and came and helped. The
logs were cut in the woods and dragged to the site of the house and
the neighbors and friends came and helped us at the "raising." The
house consisted of a single room with a wide fireplace built of rough
stone extending nearly across one entire end of the room. The roof
was of long split boards laid upon poles or beams in such a way as
to shed the water and weighted down by other beams laid on top of
them. I do not think a single nail or other piece of iron entered
into the construction of the building, but we thought it a great
improvement upon the tent life we had experienced on our journey,
and my father was quite proud of his new home. I will not attempt to
describe that country as it appeared to me in that early day. In fact
the changes have been so gradual that it seems to me to be still very
much the same country it was when I first saw it, though when I stop
to reflect, I know that this is not so. Most of it was heavy timber.
A glade or skirt of prairie passed in now and then from the almost
continuous prairie of what is now Clinton County. And I remember
distinctly that a stretch of prairie extended from Platte River
directly across from where Agency is now located in an east and south
easterly direction toward Gower, and thence around to the left where
it joined the main body of prairie land. There were no fences to speak
of, and deer were as plentiful as in any country I have ever seen.
There were few roads and no great need for them and no bridges. The
county seat of the county was at old Sparta, and Robidoux's Landing
was the most talked of place in the county.

In 1846, my father built a brick house, the first, I think, that
was ever erected in the county. It stood about a quarter of a mile
south of the present residence of Thomas Barton, a respected citizen
of Tremont Township. The brick were made upon the ground and I was
old enough at that time to have quite an important part in the work,
and it was hard work, too. I helped cut and haul wood with which the
brick were burned, and I "off bore" the brick as they were moulded.
I carried the brick and mortar as the house was being erected and
assisted in putting on the roof, laying floors and finishing the
house. It was quite a commodious structure when completed and was
considered by all our neighbors and friends who still lived in their
log houses as quite a mansion.

Our farming operations were not very extensive. The land all had to
be cleared of heavy timber, and I have seen thousands of feet of the
finest white oak, walnut and hickory burned up in log heaps, but there
was nothing else to be done with it. We had to have the land and
there was no use to which we could put such a quantity of timber. The
few rails that were needed to fence the field after it was cleared,
required only a small portion of the timber that was cut away, and as
all the land except the fields was allowed to remain unfenced, there
could be no profit in expending time and labor in making rails to be
piled up and allowed to decay.

Most of our work was done on the farm with ox teams. Our plows were
rude, home-made implements, and the hoe, axe and sickle, or reaping
hook, all home-made, were about the only other tools we had. With
these and with our slow plodding oxen, we thought we did very well to
produce from our stumpy ground enough for the family to subsist on.
Even the accomplishment of this small result required the efforts of
almost every member of the family. My mother and sisters frequently
worked in the fields, and I often saw, in those days, a woman plowing
in the field, driving a single cow, using a rude harness without a
collar. We cut our wheat with a sickle and our hemp with a hook. We
hackled the flax by hand and spun and wove it into linen. My mother
and sisters sheared the sheep, washed and picked the wool, carded,
spun and wove it into blankets and clothing for the whole family.
They took the raw material, green flax and wool on the sheep's back,
and made it into clothing for a family of ten. They milked the cows
and washed the clothing besides, and then found time to help in the
fields. It must not be thought that the men were idle while this was
going on. They worked just as hard, but their tools were so poor and
the difficulties so great, and they could accomplish so little that
even with all their efforts they sometimes fell behind the women in
their tasks.

As may well be imagined, there was little time for a boy or a girl
under those conditions to go to school, even if the opportunity had
presented itself. We had a school in the neighborhood, however, held
for a time at the homes of various members of the community, and later
we built a school house. The erection of this building was the first
public enterprise, so far as I know or have ever heard, that was
undertaken by the people of that community. I was old enough to help
in it, and I remember very distinctly the meetings the neighbors had
to plan the work of building, and afterwards, I recall the meeting of
the men with their teams to do the work. Each man furnished two logs
which he had previously cut and hewed to the proper dimensions. These
he dragged to the site selected for the building which was, by the
way, upon the ground now occupied by the Stamper School House. When
the logs were all assembled, the men and boys came in bringing baskets
of provisions and food for their oxen and all went to work. The house
was "raised," as we called it, by laying the logs one upon the other
in the form of a pen, the length exceeding the breadth by about ten
feet. The logs were carefully notched and fitted down at the corners
so as to eliminate space between them and do away with the necessity
of "chinking" to as great an extent as possible. The floor was of logs
split half in two and laid the flat side up. The door was of hewed
timber and must have been fully two inches thick, and was hung upon
wooden hinges. At a proper height from the ground, one log was sawed
out the full length of the building to afford light. The roof was
of clap-boards with logs laid upon them to hold them in place. The
benches were puncheon--that is a long round log split half in two and
hewed to a smooth surface with legs driven into auger holes beneath.
The fireplace extended nearly all the way across one end of the room.
It was built of rough stone as high as the mantel, and from there up
the chimney was of sticks, plastered inside with clay to keep them
from burning. A long puncheon was placed at the proper angle just
underneath the opening which served as a window, and this constituted
our writing desk. When the writing lesson was called, each pupil took
his copy book and went to this rude "desk" where he stood until his
lesson was finished.

I cannot at this time recall the names of all the men who participated
in the work of building that school-house, but among them were George
Reynolds, George Jeffers, Donald McCray, Philip McCray, Henry Guinn,
Ambrose McDonald, William Bledsoe, Robert Irvin, James Poteet, James
Gilmore, Ransom Ridge, Bird Smith, Isaac Auxier, Tom Auxier, my
father, George Gibson, and my uncle, James Gibson. Most of these names
are familiar to the citizens of this county, and their descendants are
still substantial citizens of that community. I had the inestimable
privilege of attending school in this building as much as three terms
of three months each, and this constituted my entire educational
course so far as schools are concerned. The sons and daughters of the
men I have named were my school mates and, at this writing, but few of
them survive. The men of that day, of course, have all passed to their
reward many years since.

It will be easy for the reader to understand me when I say that in
that day money, that is currency or specie, was very hard to procure.
Fortunately for us we needed very little of it, because there was
nothing to buy with it that we could not procure by a sort of trade
or barter. We could raise our horses, hogs and cattle, but there was
no market for them. If a neighbor happened not to have what another
neighbor had beyond his own necessities, some means was devised by
which a trade could be entered into and each secure thereby the things
he did not previously own. I think hemp was about the only thing we
could sell for money. This we took to Robidoux's landing now and then
where we procured cash for it, and we then bought such few necessities
as our farms did not afford.

It must not be understood that the men of that day were without
enterprise. When I look upon the great undertakings of the present
day and then recall a venture which my father and older brothers and
myself undertook in 1847, I am compelled to believe that of the two,
that early enterprise required the greater business courage. I have
related how my father received four thousand dollars for his Tennessee
farm and how he converted this into silver on the way to Missouri.
He had in addition to this quite a sum of money besides and had
accumulated some money during the years of his residence here.

In the spring of 1847 he began to purchase from the neighbors around
about and from the men in other communities, their surplus cattle, and
in this way collected a herd of five hundred. These cattle were driven
overland to Iowa where a few of them were sold, thence on to Illinois
and across Illinois and through Indiana and Ohio, peddling them out
as we went, and into Pennsylvania, where the last of them were sold.
I went along, and we had many hardships, but somehow I did not think
so at the time. The trip broke the monotony of my life upon the farm
and I was glad to go, even though I often grew very tired and had to
endure the exposure to hot sun, wind and rain. We made some money on
the cattle--quite a good deal. We got every dollar of it in silver
and carried it home on horse back. In 1848, brother Isaac and I took
another drove over about the same route for Peter Boyer, who lived
near Easton. Our experiences on this trip were very much the same as
those of the former trip, and the enterprise netted Boyer a handsome


_First Trip to California._

Late in the year 1848 or early in '49, we began to hear wonderful
stories about gold in California. News traveled very slowly in
those days, and we could depend very little upon its accuracy, but
the reports that came convinced us that the discovery had actually
been made and we readily pictured in our own minds the fortunes to
be had in that country. Difficult as the methods of travel were in
those days, we were not without information as to the route and
character of the country intervening between us and California. Robert
Gilmore, a neighbor of ours, had been overland to Oregon and back,
and could tell us very definitely about the country out to a point
beyond the Rocky Mountains. The talk of gold, and of an expedition
to the country where it had been found, soon became general and it
was not long until a party of men was made up to try their fortunes
in California. Brother William, brother James and myself agreed to
become members of the party, and we rigged up a wagon and four yoke of
oxen, laid in a year's provisions, provided ourselves with guns and
plenty of ammunition and joined others of a company who had made like
provision. I must not neglect to mention that as an important part of
our commissary we added a half barrel of good whiskey. We started on
the first day of May and stopped over night at St. Joseph. The next
day, everything being ready, we crossed the river on the ferry boat
and pitched our tents the first night out on Peter's Creek. Our party
consisted of twenty men and boys, all from Buchanan County. They
were Robert Gilmore and his son Mat, James Gilmore and his son Dave,
Ben Poteet, a man by the name of Spires and his son, Milt Gilmore,
Lum Perkins, a man by the name of Fish, Charles McCray, Henry McCray,
Liel Hulett, Mitch Hulett, old man Greenwood and his two sons, Brother
William, Brother James, and myself. We had seven wagons, fifty-eight
head of cattle and seven horses.

Robert Gilmore was our pilot. His previous journey over the road as
well as his peculiar fitness for the task made the selection of any
other person out of the question. He had an accurate memory concerning
every point along the road. He knew the courses of the rivers and how
to cross the desert divides at the narrowest places to avoid long
distances without grazing and water for our cattle. He also knew
better than any of us the habits of the Indians, and his experience
with them often avoided trouble and saved our property and most likely
our lives. He was cool-headed and prudent and as brave a man as I ever
knew. It must be remembered that we made no provision whatever to feed
our cattle and horses. We expected to move slowly and allow them time
to graze for subsistence. During the first part of the journey at the
season of the year in which it was made, we experienced no trouble
whatever, as grass was very plentiful, but later on, as I shall
relate, we often felt sorry for the poor dumb beasts that we had taken
from the fine pastures of Buchanan County and driven out into that
arid country.

Our second day's journey brought us to Wolf River. During the next few
days our journey led us by gradual ascent up on to a high prairie,
which must have been the water shed upon which the town of Sabetha is
now situated. The whole earth was covered by abundant verdure, and I
recall very distinctly the expansive view which presented itself in
every direction from the crests of the ridges as we passed over them.
There was not a single human habitation in sight and no evidences that
human foot had ever been set upon this land, except the dim outline of
the trail we were following. Only one or two companies were ahead of
us and the tracks of their wagons and oxen made but little impression
upon the fresh grown grass. Farther out the almost total absence of
trees made the most vivid impression upon my mind, accustomed as I had
been for so many years to a timbered country, and though I could see
no evidences that the soil was not productive, I could hardly believe
this place would ever be a fit habitation for men. We traveled some
days over such country as I have described and no doubt passed over
the sites of many present flourishing towns. The sixth or seventh day
out, if I remember correctly, we reached the Big Blue. In our journey
thus far, we had occasionally seen deer and antelope, but when we
began to descend into the valley of the Big Blue we saw great numbers
of these animals. On the banks of the river we found in camp a party
of eastern emigrants who had left St. Joseph a few days in advance of
our train. Their teams were all horses and they had camped for a time
in order to lay in a supply of venison. Their horses were then in fine
condition and they were riding them out on the prairies chasing the
deer and antelope. We camped for the night and next morning, as usual,
plodded on. Later in the day we were overtaken by these emigrants who
trotted by us with their faster teams and made fun of our equipment.
They told us, as they passed, that they would have the gold in
California all mined out before we got there. Some of us, the younger
members at least, who had had no experience on the plains, felt that
they might be telling us the truth; but Gilmore assured us that we
had taken the safer course and that we would reach California long in
advance of those men, and that it was doubtful if they would ever get
there at all. Weeks later Gilmore had the satisfaction of verifying
what he had told us, for we overtook and passed these very trains.
Their horses were thin and poor, starved out on the short grass, and
famished for water.

From Big Blue we crossed a rolling divide to Little Blue and followed
that stream a long distance, then across a high prairie, that seemed
to be almost perfectly level. It was on this part of the journey that
we had our first disagreeable experience. Up to that time, the boys
of the party at least, had looked upon crossing the plains as a great
frolic. The weather had been fine. The company was congenial and the
novelty of the whole thing kept us well entertained. Shortly after we
broke camp one morning and started on a twenty mile drive, it began
to rain and continued all day long a steady downpour. We had found
no wood with which to cook dinner and had eaten cold victuals, with
some relish, believing we would find plenty of firewood at night. We
traveled until quite late and finally stopped at a small creek, where
other emigrants had camped, but there was no wood, not a stick to be
found. The only thing in sight was a tough old log which had been
hacked and hewed by preceding emigrants until scarcely a splinter
could be chopped from it. The buffalo chips were all wet and it was
still raining. The boys were not so gay that night. They managed,
after hard work, to get splinters enough off the old log to heat up
the coffee and that was the only warm article of diet we had for
supper. We made the best of it and after supper prepared to crawl
into wet tents to sleep if we could. Bad as the prospect was, I was
happy that it was not my turn to stand guard. It rained all night and
next morning the boys who had been on guard were sorry-looking fellows
and the cattle and horses little better. I do not remember how we
managed to get breakfast, but I do recall that we started early and
pushed on still through the rain. The moving warmed us up and we were
much better off traveling than in camp.

We reached Platte River late the same day at a point which must have
been some miles above the location of the present city of Grand
Island, probably about the site of the City of Kearney. The river was
running bank full and the only fire wood in sight was on an island
out in the stream. The stream, though wide, was not deep, and we
rode our horses over and carried back wood enough to make a fire,
though it was a very bad one. It stopped raining about night, but
remained cloudy and cold and we passed the night with less comfort,
I believe, than the night before. Next day we made only twenty miles
but stopped long before night at the mouth of a little stream or gulch
that descended down into Platte River which we knew as Plum Creek.
The wind had blown from the north all day and had chilled us through
and through in our wet clothing. The principal inducement to the halt
was the canyon through which Plum Creek emptied into the river. It
afforded a sheltered camping place and its sides were covered with red
cedar which made splendid firewood. We pitched our tents in behind a
high bluff and immediately built a blazing fire. Everybody was busy.
Blankets were stretched upon poles before the fire and the wet extra
clothing was hung out to dry in like manner. We cooked the best
meal the stores would afford and prepared plenty of it. Before night
we were all dry and warm, had had plenty to eat, and were again in
a happy frame of mind. There was but one thing to prevent complete
satisfaction with the situation and that was that at this very point
in years gone by several vicious attacks had been made upon emigrants
by the Indians. It was a fine place for the Indians to ambush the
unwary traveler. Gilmore had learned the story of these attacks on
his previous trip and immediately after we had supper he started the
members of the company out in various directions to look for Indians.
It was an hour or more until sundown, as I recollect, so we climbed
to the tops of the hills and inspected the country for miles around.
There was not a single sign of Indians anywhere to be seen. He told
us to look particularly for smoke as we would probably not see the
Indians but would discover the smoke from their fires coming up out of
the valleys. The favorable report made to Gilmore did not satisfy him.
Weary as we all were, he ordered a double guard that night. I stood
with the boys the first half of the night. At sundown the sky had
cleared of clouds and the wind had ceased to blow. The whole earth was
as still as death. The only sound that broke the silence was the howl
of a wolf now and then away off in the distance.

The next morning the camp was astir bright and early. The oxen and
horses were rounded up and hitched to the wagons and after a good
breakfast we packed the camp outfit and started on our journey up
Platte River, following the south bank. The clear sky and bright
sunshine soon made us forget the hardships of the two previous days,
and our company was again in good spirits. I have not been able to
locate the exact position of Plum Creek. It was out some distance
beyond the Grand Island and almost at the beginning of what we called
the sand bluffs. I do not recall any incident worth mentioning on the
journey up this stream except that in a few days after we left Plum
Creek we passed the junction of the North and South Platte. The trail
followed the South Platte and we followed the trail. About fifty miles
beyond the junction we crossed the South Platte and went over a high
ridge and down a steep canyon about five miles in length into the
valley of the North Platte. I have never known why this early trail
led up the South Platte instead of crossing the main stream at the
junction and moving directly up the North Platte, as was done later by
all the emigrant trains.

We reached North Platte about night and found a large tribe of Indians
in camp. It was no very pleasing prospect to most of us to go into
camp so near the Indians, but Gilmore told us that we would not likely
have any trouble as Indians were always peaceable when their squaws
and pappooses were with them. I never forgot this remark by Gilmore
and had occasion many times afterwards, as I shall relate, to observe
the truth of his statement. We put a strong guard around the cattle.
We did not fear for ourselves, but were alarmed somewhat on account of
the cattle, as we expected that the Indians were probably scarce of
food and might try to get one or two of them. The Indians seemed to be
astir most all night and we imagined that they were watching to catch
us off guard, or probably to catch a stray horse or ox that might
wander away from the herd. Morning brought us great relief, and we
soon packed up and moved on up the North Platte as fast as we could.

Some seventy-five miles or more up the North Platte we passed those
strange looking elevations which had the appearance at a distance of
immense buildings in ruins and which have been mentioned by so many
of the early emigrants. Two of these formations which stood side by
side were especially noticeable. They both rose abruptly from the
level table land to a height of two hundred feet or more. The larger
and taller of the two was not so well proportioned as the smaller,
but both of them easily gave the impression, viewed from the path of
our trail, of great castles with wings and turrets, all tumbling down
and wasting away. Gilmore told us that the earlier travelers on the
Oregon trail had called these formations the "court houses." Some
distance beyond these curiosities we came to Chimney Rock, which I am
sure every one who passed over the trail remembers. It stood out in
the valley of the Platte several hundred feet from the main bluff of
the river and rose to a height of nearly three hundred feet, as we
estimated. The base covered a considerable area of ground and the top
was probably fifty feet across. It was a mixture of sand, clay and
stones, and the action of the weather had crumbled much of the upper
portions about the base.

A little beyond Chimney Rock we came to Scott's Bluffs, which we
reached late in the afternoon. We drove into a beautiful little valley
and camped for the night. Just about dark the most terrific thunder
storm I ever experienced in my life broke upon us. The whole valley
seemed to be lit up in a blaze of fire and the thunder was deafening.
Some three or four emigrant trains which we had overtaken were camped
in this valley and next morning we counted fifteen cattle that had
been killed by bolts of lightning. Fortunately none of them belonged
to us. Scott's Bluffs is a single row of hills or perpendicular cliffs
standing out in the valley between the main table land and the channel
of the river. They are much like Chimney Rock in formation and are of
various forms and moulds and present a strange appearance from the
path of the trail. We passed for miles between these bluffs and the
table land with the river over beyond the bluffs.

Fort Laramie was our next point, some sixty miles farther on. The fort
is situated on Laramie River about a mile above its union with the
North Platte. Here we saw the first white man, except the emigrants
who were outward bound with us, since leaving home. We were given
a very hearty welcome by the soldiers and the few others who lived
there. They asked us many questions and told us they had had no news
from home all winter until the emigrant trains began to arrive. The
Indians were constantly about them and they had to be very careful
to avoid trouble with them. Their greatest difficulty was to procure
firewood, which they found some considerable distance from the fort
and over the river. They told us they always sent a guard of soldiers
out with the wagons when they went after wood. We camped there over
night and I was on picket. Next morning at daylight I saw a beautiful
mound not far away, and as I was anxious to investigate everything, I
walked over to it. I found it was an Indian burying ground, and was
literally covered with human and animal bones which had been placed
around, apparently in an effort to decorate, and human skulls seemed
to be a particular favorite. Hundreds of them it seemed to me lay
grinning at me. I am sure had I known this grewsome sight was so close
to me I could never have been induced to stand guard all night in the
darkness. I was but a boy then and this scene horrified me. I soon
learned, however, not to be afraid of dead Indians.

After a rest of a day or two under the protection of the Fort, we
started forward, moving across a high, mountainous country which
occupied the wide bend in the North Platte River. As I recall, the
distance across this strip of country is probably one hundred and
fifty miles or more. Many places were very rugged and we experienced
much difficulty in making our way. On this portion of the road we
had great difficulty also with the Indians--that is we continually
feared trouble. We were not attacked at any time nor did we lose any
of our horses or cattle, but we lived in continual fear both of our
lives and of our property. The Crow and Sioux tribes occupied this
land and they were war-like and troublesome savages. Scarcely a man
in the company dared go to sleep during the whole journey from Fort
Laramie to the point where we reached Platte River again, opposite the
mouth of Sweetwater. It was in this very country, as I shall relate
hereafter, that these Indians tried to kill and rob my brothers and
myself in '51, and in '55, while my brother James and my youngest
brother Robert were bringing a drove of cattle across, my brother
Robert, only seventeen years old, was killed. I think all the early
travelers across the plains dreaded the Indians on this portion of the
road more than any other obstacle to be found on the entire journey,
not excepting the alkali deserts of Utah and Nevada. When we again
reached Platte River it was very high and the current very swift. It
was out of the question to attempt fording it, and it looked for a
time as if our progress would be retarded perhaps for many days. It
would serve no purpose to attempt to find a better place to cross,
for from the amount of water in the river, we felt quite certain we
could find no place within one hundred miles where the wagons could be
driven over. We had one satisfaction left to us and that was that we
had plenty of water and plenty of grass, and if we had to stay on this
side of the river any considerable time we were in no danger of losing
our stock. We camped and rested a day and thought about the situation.
Finally we decided to try rafting the wagons over and herding the
cattle across. We cut four good sized cottonwood logs from the timber
which grew near to the stream, fastened ropes to them and pushed them
in the water. They were then tied firmly together and anchored to
the shore. We then unloaded the wagons, took off the boxes or beds,
and set one upon these logs. We then reloaded this bed and four men
with long poles got upon the raft and some one on the bank untied the
rope. I thought from the way this rude ship started down stream that
it would reach St. Joseph in about three days if it kept up that rate
of speed. The current caught it and dashed it along at a great rate
and I was considerably alarmed, I remember, for a good portion of our
provisions had been placed in the wagon box. The boys on the raft,
however, kept their heads and though none of them were much accustomed
to the water, they understood enough about it to avoid upsetting the
craft. Little by little they pushed and paddled toward the middle of
the stream and finally brought it up to shore probably a mile down
stream. After anchoring the raft the articles loaded into the wagon
bed were removed, placed upon the bank and finally the wagon bed was
taken off and likewise placed on high ground. The boys then with great
difficulty towed the raft along the shore up stream to a point far
enough above the camp on the opposite bank to enable them to pilot it
back to the desired landing place. They finally brought it up when,
after anchoring it firmly, the running gears of the wagon were rolled
down and pushed out upon the raft, the axles resting on the logs and
the wheels extending down into the water. This cargo was ferried
across in the same manner. In this way after much labor, paddling and
poling this raft back and forth, our entire outfit was landed safely
on the opposite side of the stream. Our belongings were, however,
pretty widely scattered, because the boys always unloaded at the place
they were able to land. It took much time to again rig up the wagons
and collect the provisions and camp equipment and get it all together

We had allowed our cattle to remain on the east side of the river
during this operation, and after everything was ready on the opposite
side we rounded them up and pushed them into the water. They swam
across in fine shape, the men swimming their horses after them. It
was a great relief to all of us to feel that we were safely across
and to realize that we had saved a good many days, perhaps, by the
effort we had made. We were especially desirous of keeping well in
front of the emigrant trains that we knew to be upon the road in order
that our oxen and horses might have better grazing and we felt that
by the accomplishment of the task which had just been finished we had
probably set ourselves in advance of many of the trains.

After a good rest we moved on and soon entered the valley of
Sweetwater River which we followed for many miles. Toward the head
waters of this stream we passed Independence Rock, which, even in
that day, was a marked natural curiosity much spoken of by travelers.
There were many names cut in the smooth face of this immense boulder
and we added our own to the list. A long toilsome climb after leaving
Independence Rock brought us to the crest of the continental divide
from which we descended into the valley of Green River. This is an
extensive basin and we were a good many days passing through it, but
met with no occurrences worthy of special mention. As we passed out
of the valley, our road led us over a high range of mountains and I
shall always remember the view which presented itself in front of us
as we reached the top. The valley of Bear River lay before us for many
miles. The view was obstructed only by the fact that the eye had not
the power to see all that was spread before it. In all my experience
in the mountains, I can at this moment recall no place that presents
so striking a picture as the one which remains in my memory of this
scene. I cannot locate the place upon the map, except approximately,
though I have often tried to do so. In those days we had few names.
There were no county lines and no towns by which to locate natural
objects so they might be pointed out to others. Even the mountain
ranges and many of the smaller streams had either not received names
or we had not heard them. The place I have been attempting to describe
was near the extreme western border of Wyoming and must have been
about opposite Bear Lake in Idaho, perhaps a little north.

An incident occurred at this place which served to impress it upon my
mind independent of its natural beauties. Shortly before we approached
the crest of the mountain we began to see emigrant wagons ahead.
Finally we noticed what appeared to be an immense train stretching
out in front of us. On nearer approach we discovered that some forty
or fifty wagons which had fallen into the Oregon trail at various
places along the line were blocked, apparently by the difficulties
attending a descent of the opposite side of the mountain. We halted
our teams and went forward on foot and discovered that there was but
one place where the descent could be made at all and that was along
a steep, rough canyon at one place in which the wagons had to be let
down by hand. We approached and watched the operation for an hour or
two. The teams and wagons in proper turn passed down to this abrupt
place where the oxen were taken off and driven down. The wagons,
rough-locked with chains, were then let down by long ropes, a great
many men holding to the ropes to prevent the wagon from running away.
It was very slow work and we immediately saw that a delay of three
or four days at least was ahead of us if we waited to take our turn
down this embankment. A conference was called as soon as our men got
back to the wagons. Gilmore said he was not willing to believe that
the point these emigrants had selected was the only place where the
teams could get down, so he and a few more of our company started to
the left of the trail to seek a new place. After about two hours,
Gilmore and his men came back and said they thought they had found a
place and directed the teams to move forward. A long winding drive
down a spur or ridge that led off to the left of the canyon brought
us to the place Gilmore had discovered. I went up and took a look and
I confess that I was very much afraid we could not make it. There was
not a tree, nor a log, nor anything else out of which we could make
a drag to tie behind the wagons and thus retard them as they moved
down the slope. I saw that Gilmore had some plan in his mind, however,
and waited to see it develop. He ordered the three front yoke of oxen
off the front wagon and directed that they be taken to the rear of
the wagon leaving the wheel yoke hitched to the tongue. These three
yoke of oxen were tied by a chain to the rear axle. The wheels were
all four rough-locked with chains made fast and tight. When this was
done we gathered our whips and told the oxen to move on. As the wheel
yoke started forward the wagon pitched down upon them. They set their
feet forward and laid back upon the tongue. When the chain tightened
on the three yoke tied to the rear, they, like the yoke in front, set
their feet and laid back upon the chain. Then the whole--wagon and
oxen--went plowing down the mountain side more than one hundred yards
before the ground became level enough to release the wheels. It was a
great relief to be able to unlock the wheels and release the oxen and
know that all was safe. The six other wagons repeated this experience
in turn. The whole descent had required but little more than two hours
and we found ourselves well down into the valley of Bear River two
days ahead of time, and best of all, in the lead of those emigrants
who were waiting to let their wagons down by hand over on the other

Soda Springs on Bear River was our next point. We reached it after a
two days' journey from the point where we had descended the mountain.
Here I saw another wonder--to me. Water, almost boiling, spurted right
up out of the ground. One spring in particular which they told us had
been named Steamboat Spring was especially noticeable. Every three or
four minutes it would throw a jet of water up four or five feet high,
then subside. Just about the time every thing seemed to be getting
settled, the water would gush out again. This continued at regular
intervals night and day and may, for all I know, still be going on.
There were a number of hot springs, besides several other springs,
the water of which was strongly impregnated with soda. We halted a
little while here to rest and to inspect this great wonder and then
pushed on in a north-westerly direction toward Fort Hall, which is
located on Snake River. This required about a three days' drive, as I
remember. We knew at the time that this course took us considerably
out of the way, but we had no information as to the barriers to be
encountered by an attempt to shorten the route, so we were content to
follow the beaten trail.

I remember an incident which occurred at Fort Hall. We had fallen in
with a train from Jackson County which was known as Hayes' train,
and we all journeyed together to Fort Hall. A government fort was
located there and Hayes found in the fort, a negro man who had run off
from his Jackson County plantation six years before. Hayes instead
of asserting ownership over this negro and compelling him to go back
into servitude, made a contract with him to drive one of his teams
through to California and work one year for him in California, after
which the negro was to have his freedom. This seemed to suit the negro
exactly and he picked up his long gad and started after the oxen. We
all moved together down Snake River to the mouth of Raft River, and
on this part of the journey an incident occurred which caused all of
us a good deal of uneasiness. Hayes had a bright lad with him about
sixteen years old who was always playing pranks. He also had a driver
who was dreadfully afraid of Indians. One night after we had camped,
the lad took a red blanket and slipped away from the camp around near
to where the driver was standing guard. He threw the blanket over his
shoulders after the fashion of the Indians and secreted himself behind
an obstruction, and at the proper time, slipped out of his place of
concealment and started toward the driver. The driver ran just as
the boy had anticipated, but when the boy started to follow, playing
Indian all the time, the driver halted long enough to put a load of
shot into the boy. Fortunately the shot was not fatal, but the boy was
dreadfully wounded and had to be hauled in one of the wagons clear on
to California. We had little or no means of giving him attention and
the poor boy suffered a great deal, but he finally got well.

When we reached the mouth of Raft River, a small stream which flows
into the Snake River from the south, we halted for a conference. Hayes
with his train was accompanying us, but he knew no more about the
country than we. It was clear that we must break away from the Oregon
trail at some point in that immediate vicinity and it occurred to us
that this little river would afford the most likely passage to the
crest of the divide from which we could descend into the valley of
the Humboldt. Accordingly our oxen were turned out of the beaten path
and headed over an unknown stretch of country. We experienced very
little difficulty that I now recall so long as we were able to follow
the river, but by and by the stream became very small and led us into
a rugged, mountainous country. After much climbing and wandering
about we reached the crest of a divide which is now called the Raft
River Mountains; passing down the farther slope of these mountains we
encountered a dreadful alkali desert before reaching the main stem
of the Humboldt River. The men, horses and cattle suffered greatly.
The alkali dust raised by the moving teams parched the throat and
nostrils and lack of water denied either to man or beast any relief.
Fortunately for us, this did not last many days. Whether by accident
or from good judgment, we soon located a good sized stream of water
which eventually proved to be one of the main prongs of Humboldt
River. We followed this stream probably two hundred miles or more, and
while the grazing was very short, we had plenty of water and were able
to get along.

One night just before we reached Big Meadow, while we were camped
alongside the Humboldt River, a band of Digger Indians slipped into
our herd and drove two of the cattle away. Next morning after rounding
up the cattle these oxen were missed and search was immediately
instituted. Bob and James Gilmore, Charles McCray and brother William
got on their horses and made a wide circle about the camp. They
discovered tracks leading toward the mountains and followed them.
After they had gone several miles and could still see nothing of
the cattle, they became convinced that the Indians had taken them
into the mountains, and as McCray and Gibson had gone away without
their guns, McCray was sent back to get them. McCray reached camp,
got the guns and started out to overtake the boys, but soon returned
saying he could not find them. The company remained in camp waiting
continually for their return and when, late in the afternoon, they had
not returned, we began to feel quite uneasy. When night came and they
had still not returned, we piled sage brush on our camp fire and kept
it burning very bright to light them in. No one in the camp slept and
as the hours passed, uneasiness increased. Finally, late in the night
they came in, all safe, but very tired and without the cattle, and
gave us the following account of their experience.

They had followed the tracks of the cattle through the sand fifteen
miles and traced them into a steep, rough gorge or canyon that opened
into the valley from the mountain. They entered this gorge with great
caution and had not gone far when they found the carcasses of the
cattle warm and bleeding, but no Indians in sight. They were convinced
that Indians could not be far away, and momentarily expected an attack
from ambush. The Indians had evidently posted a watch on some high
point on the mountain, who, when the men were seen approaching, gave
the alarm, upon which the cattle were immediately killed and the
Indians fled to cover.

It was then nearly night. The horses were poor and weak, and neither
the horses nor the men had tasted food or water throughout the day,
and there was no relief except in camp. Delay was useless, so they
turned immediately and started back. After reaching the plain they
noticed far out in the distance a cloud of dust on the horizon and
supposed at first it was a small whirlwind, as whirlwinds were
very common on those sandy deserts. The dust continued to rise and
apparently to approach toward them, and in a little while they were
able to make out objects moving through it. They then knew that
the Indians, having been warned of their approach and having seen
them enter the canyon, had made a wide circle to the rear, and that
their purpose was to cut them off from camp. Only a few minutes were
required to reveal the fact that the Indians, about thirty in number,
were coming toward them as fast as their ponies could gallop, and
a brief counsel of war was held. To attempt to out-run them on the
poor jaded horses was out of the question, and the situation looked
rather desperate. Their lack of guns and ammunition and their inferior
numbers made the result of a fight very doubtful. They had no choice
but to make the best of it, and the only thing in their favor was the
well known cowardice of the Indians in an open face to face fight.
Each of the Gilmores had a double barrel shot gun and Gibson had his
bowie knife and these were the weapons with which the fight had to be
made. The boys dismounted and as the Indians came within easy view of
them they stepped out in front of their horses and waited. The men
with the guns held them in position to fire and Gibson drew his bowie
knife and held it steadily in his hand. The Indians came on furiously,
screaming and yelling, but the boys did not stir a step. The plan
was to let them come and get as many of them as possible with the
four loads that were in the guns, then with the knife and the guns as
clubs, fight it out.

The boys said that for two or three minutes there was every indication
that the Indians really meant to fight. They showed no disposition to
halt, but came yelling and dashing forward until they were almost in
range of the guns. Even though the boys were not equal to the task
they had to keep their nerve. If they had shown the least disposition
to waver or to change positions the Indians would have been encouraged
to come upon them. They stood as firm and steady as though they
were made of stone. Not a word was spoken, except that Bob Gilmore
quietly counselled the boys to stand perfectly still. This attitude
was too much for the Indians. They became convinced that they really
had a fight on their hands, and when within seventy-five yards they
came to a sudden halt and all danger was past. The bluff had worked
and the Indians were going to pretend they never had any hostile
intentions. The boys continued to stand perfectly firm and wait. After
a moment or two, three or four Indians came forward bowing, making
every demonstration of friendship, saying, "How, How," and asking
for tobacco. Gibson in return bowed to them and said "How, How." He
also indicated they could have tobacco if they would approach, but
the Gilmores kept their guns steadily raised in the same position.
When within twenty or thirty feet, the Indians stopped and Gibson
approached a little nearer to them and put on an appearance of great
friendship. He had no tobacco, but the Gilmores had, so Gibson went
back for it, the others remaining in position to fire, and took it
from their pockets. The Indians then bowed and the boys bowed and the
Indians turned and went back to their companions. The four emissaries
who had come out for the tobacco mounted their ponies and the whole
thirty of them rode away. The boys kept their positions until the
Indians were far out on the plain. They could see them as they rode
away, turn on their ponies and watch them, and they proposed to give
them to understand that there was a fight ready for them if they
desired it, and thus probably prevent an attack farther on in their
journey to camp and after night.

When the Indians were well out of the way, the party journeyed on. It
was then nearly sundown and fifteen miles to camp. The boys had taken
note of the natural objects along the road out, and before it grew
entirely dark they located these objects with reference to certain
stars that would lead them after night, and in this way managed to get
along until they came to where they could see the reflection of the
burning sage brush upon the sky. We were greatly rejoiced to see them,
and even though they did not bring the cattle back, we felt after our
hours of anxiety that the loss of the cattle was but a trivial matter.

A few days' drive after our encounter with the Indians brought us to
Big Meadow, a name given to a sort of oasis which was covered with
abundant grass and where our cattle could get the finest water. We
took a good rest here and it was a delight to see the cattle and
horses, after their long drive over the sand and through the sage
brush, wade belly deep in the finest of grass. During our stay at this
place we cut and cured a large quantity of hay and loaded it on our
wagons. We had heard that there was a desert ahead and wanted to be
prepared for it. We must have spent four or five days at this place,
and when we set forward both men and cattle were much refreshed. A
day's journey, as I remember, brought us to the lower end of Humboldt
Lake, where, so far as we could see, Humboldt River stopped, that is
the river ran into this lake and there was apparently no outlet. We
could see a barren country ahead, and rightly judged that we were
approaching the desert we had heard of.

Next morning everything was prepared for a long drive without grazing
or water. We left early and all day long traveled over a hot, dry
plain without once finding a drop of water, and where there was
no vegetation upon which our cattle could feed. When night came a
conference was held. To attempt to camp in that arid place without
food or water would weaken our stock and exhaust our men, so we
decided not to camp at all. Accordingly the weary oxen and horses
were pushed on at increased speed. We traveled all night long and
when daylight came there was still no prospect of relief. To stop,
however, was more likely to bring disaster than to go on, so we kept
moving. About noon we began to see some evidences of a change. Off
in the distance we thought we could see that the land had a green
appearance, and this raised our hopes. On nearer approach we found
that our first impressions were correct and that we were really
approaching food and water. In a little while we came to a prong of
what I learned afterwards was Carson River, which came down from the
mountains and ran in an opposite direction from the Humboldt River.
The water was clear and had hardly a tinge of alkali in it. When our
cattle and horses saw the water, we could not hold them and we did
not try very much, for we were almost as nearly famished as they. We
took the yokes off of them and let them go. They ran pell-mell down
to the water and plunged into it. The men did scarcely better. Many
of them jumped right into the water with their clothes on and drank
and splashed by turns until they had slaked their thirst and relieved
their parched throats. As soon as food could be prepared, and eaten,
everybody went to sleep except those who were detailed to stand guard
the first two hours. We remained there, the guard being relieved every
two hours, until the following morning, when both men and cattle were
sufficiently refreshed to proceed.

Thenceforward our journey led us up Carson River. This was not a hard
journey. The grass was fine and the water clear. There was no occasion
for hurry. It was then growing toward the end of July and the worst of
our journey was over.

We moved only fifteen or twenty miles a day and allowed our cattle
and horses to browse along and fill themselves as they went. Nearly a
hundred miles up the river we came to Carson Valley, where Carson City
is now situated. As I recall my whole journey, I can think of no place
that so impressed me with its beauty. Six miles across this valley, we
came to the mouth of Carson River Canyon where the river flows out
of the mountain. Six miles farther on and after crossing the river a
dozen times or more, we passed out of the canyon and found ourselves
at the foot of what we named "The Two-Mile Mountain." This mountain
had to be climbed. It was so steep that ten yoke of oxen were required
to draw each wagon up. This made slow work, as some of the wagons
had to be left at the bottom and the oxen brought back to get them.
After reaching the top, we journeyed on and came to Red Lake. This
was a beautiful body of water. I am not sure whether it is what is
now called Lake Tahoe or not, though I feel sure it is. After passing
beyond this lake, we came to the "Six-Mile Mountain." This was not so
steep as the "Two-Mile Mountain," but it was a much longer pull. As we
approached the top we came to snow. This was the 5th day of August,
1849. Before we reached the very crest of the range our oxen had to
pass over great drifts of frozen snow which, for all we knew, may
have been hundreds of feet deep. At the top of the mountain we were
on the crest of the Sierra Nevada Range, and it was a great relief to
start down hill. One of the men went forward and picked out a route
and twelve miles down the mountain we came to Rock Creek. Beyond this
we encountered a descent which was almost as abrupt as our descent
into Bear River Valley, but in the present place, we had plenty of
timber, so we cut large trees and tied them by chains to the rear of
the wagons and allowed them to drag behind. This put a very effective
brake upon the wagons and enabled them to go down safely.

I remember an occurrence which took place shortly before we made
this descent. Our road led along the edge of a steep declivity which
seemed to be a thousand feet above the valley below. Mitch Hulett
and I found it great sport to roll rocks off this precipice and watch
them bound away down along the mountain-side. Sometimes we would pry
a rock loose that would weigh two or three tons and watch it plunge
down, tearing through the timber with frightful noise, scaring grouse,
pheasants and wild animals out of the brush in great numbers. Some
of the huge rocks would occasionally strike a jutting portion of the
mountain and bound a hundred yards downward without striking a single
obstruction. We had not noticed the lapse of time and the train got
far ahead of us. By and by, we heard a great noise to the rear and in
another moment a band of Indians dashed around a curve in the road and
were right upon us. There was nothing we could do but run. The road
ahead was down hill, and I have always thought we made a pretty good
job of it. We broke away at full speed, never stopping to look back,
and expecting every moment to feel the arrows in our backs or to see
or hear them whiz past us. Every step gave us hope, and after a long
run and when completely exhausted, we ventured to halt and look and
listen, we discovered that we were not being followed at all. The
Indians must have been greatly amused at our fright, but we were still
unwilling to take chances and made the best haste we could to overtake
the wagons. It required more than two hours, so rapidly had the time
passed in our sport. That was the last time our pranks ever induced us
to let the teams get so far ahead.

A place which afterwards came to be called Leake Springs is the next
point I remember. We camped there for the night and on subsequent
journeys I grew familiar with it. Twenty miles beyond this we came
to Grass Valley and emerged from the high mountains. Fifteen miles
farther we came to Weaver Creek, August 12th, 1849, where we first
saw the gold glitter.

We thought our train was first over the trail, but somehow a few had
beaten us in. When we got down to Weaver Creek, three emigrants were
at work panning out the gold. We stopped and camped and watched them
for a long time. That night I was taken sick with the flux. It was a
bad place to be sick and I was dreadfully sick, too. They fixed me
sort of a pallet under the shade of a big tree, and I lay there night
and day for a week and they didn't know whether I would live or die.
Trains were constantly arriving and in one of them there was a doctor.
He came down to see me and told the boys they must hunt up a cow and
give me fresh warm milk. They told me afterwards they found a train in
which somebody had foresight enough to bring a cow along, and they got
the milk and brought it to me. I drank it and soon recovered.


_Gold Mining in '49 and '50._

At last we were in California. I had a rather bitter introduction,
but I soon felt well again and began to look about to see what
California was really like and to learn the truth of all the wonderful
stories I had heard about gold. We didn't want to take up claims
immediately--wanted to look about and get the best location possible.
They told us about Sacramento City being down the river and we decided
to go down there. Weaver Creek was a small tributary of the American
River, so we went down to the main stream and moved on down in the
direction of Sacramento City. We met a man who said he had just been
down there. We asked him how far it was, and he said forty miles. Said
it was at the mouth of the American River, that is, where the American
River flowed into the Sacramento River. In two days we reached the
mouth of the river, but we didn't see any city. I saw a few tents, and
there was an old sail boat anchored on Sacramento River up close to
the bank, but that was all. I asked a man where Sacramento City was.
He said, "This is the place."

We didn't expect to find much of a city, but were hardly prepared
for what we found. We stretched our tent, turned our cattle out to
graze and prepared for a rest. It was a delightful place. I never saw
finer grass nor finer water, and we still had plenty to eat. Toward
the close of the day I went down to where the sail boat was being
unloaded. Four or five men were carrying provisions--flour, bacon,
pickled pork, sugar, coffee, rice--in fact everything substantial to
eat, out of the boat and throwing it upon the bank among the grape
vines. I saw no owner. There were no police and nobody seemed to be
afraid of thieves. They were not afraid either of rain, for none could
be expected at that season of the year. Nor was there even any dew.
Everything seemed to be safe both day and night.

Our lean old cattle fattened fast and in a little while we could
hardly recognize them. It was a joy to see them eat and drink and rest
after the hardships they had endured. The poor things had suffered
even more than the men.

About the first of September we started back to the mines. Twenty
miles up the American River we each took up a claim and went to work.
Everything was placer mining. Each man had his pan and with it and the
water of the river, he washed the gravel away from the loose gold. We
worked there several weeks and so far as we could see, exhausted the
gold that was in our claims. We found on estimating the result of our
work that each man had averaged about sixteen dollars a day for every
day he had worked.

About the time our claims were exhausted, we were surprised to meet
Russell Hill, a cousin of mine, who had worked his way down from
Oregon to Sacramento by way of Shasta City, and learning at Sacramento
that we were up the American River, had come on up to see us. He had
left his home in Iowa the year before and had gone to Oregon. He told
us he had stopped a few days at Shasta City and believed it to be a
better mining place than the American River, and urged us to go there.
Accordingly we yoked up our oxen and packed our belongings into the
wagons again and started. When we reached Sacramento City this time,
it was not necessary to ask where the city was. The whole valley was
covered with tents and lunch stands. There must have been several
thousand people there. They had come in from everywhere, off the
plains by caravan, up the river from San Francisco by boat, and from
every other place in the world, it seemed to me. There were as yet
no houses. People, men mostly, lived in tents and the lunch counters
consisted of the sideboards of the wagons laid upon poles supported
by forks driven in the ground. Meals were a uniform price, $1.00, but
lodging was free. Just spread your blanket down on the grass anywhere
and make yourself at home.

Shasta City is two hundred miles up Sacramento River and a little
northwest of Sacramento City. Knight's Landing, near the mouth
of Feather River, was our first stop of any consequence. We went
up Feather River to where Marysville now stands and thence in a
northwesterly direction back into the Sacramento Valley. This valley
is about an average of twenty-five miles in width and at that time
there were no towns or even camps upon it and consequently I can
give little account of our progress. I only recall that about every
twenty miles we came upon a ranch occupied by a few families of
Spaniards. These Spaniards had made slaves of the Digger Indians who
lived in mounds or huts covered with earth. The Indians raised wheat
and gathered it in cane baskets. They then rubbed the wheat out of
the straw and beat it into flour. These Indians went almost naked
and lived, themselves, on salmon, acorns, grapes and grasshoppers.
They were the most disgusting mortals I have ever seen in my life.
When we passed the huts or mounds in which they lived, the pappooses
would dart back into them exactly like prairie dogs. I asked an old
Spaniard why he kept these filthy Indians around him, and he said they
protected him from the wild Indians.

The whole valley was covered by abundant vegetation and was full of
wild herds of Spanish horses and thousands of wild Spanish cattle. It
was also full of many savage wild animals, grizzly, brown and black
bear, California lions, panthers, wolves, wild cats and badgers. There
was an abundance also of elk, deer and antelope, and we never lacked
for fresh venison.

We reached Shasta late in September, and like Sacramento City, found
everything but the city. One or two log cabins and a few tents made up
the sum of all the improvements. We put in a few days looking over the
situation and viewing prospects for getting gold and decided to spend
the winter there. This made it necessary for us to look immediately
into our stock of provisions, and upon going through it we found that
we had hardly enough to last us. Nothing could be done but go back to
Sacramento and secure an additional supply, and brother William and a
man by the name of Gleason, from Iowa, who had made the trip with us
up the river, started back with one wagon and four yoke of oxen. We
stretched our tent and stored all the provisions we had in it in such
a way as to protect them, and brother William and Gleason bade us good

This trip meant four hundred miles more of hardship and danger, and
we hated very much to see them leave, but nothing else could be done.
The boys made the trip down without trouble, so they reported upon
their return, but on the way back the rainy season set in and swelled
the rivers so that they were past fording much of the time. The trip
ought to have been made easily in twenty-five or thirty days, but it
occupied from the latter part of September until Christmas.

Hard as this trip was upon the two who made it, their sufferings
were hardly to be compared to the condition of brother James and
myself. We had but a small tent in which to shelter both ourselves
and our provisions and such meagre equipment as we had hauled across
the plains. We had been alone but a few days when brother James was
taken down with the scurvy. About the 10th of October the rain set
in and continued almost in a steady downpour for about three weeks.
Everything was completely soaked. It was next to impossible to find
fuel enough to start a fire. I had to take care of brother James and
keep changing the provisions to prevent them from spoiling, had to
dry the blankets and clothing three or four times a day. In all, I
don't think I averaged more than two hours sleep out of the whole
twenty-four during this period of continued rain. I battled along the
best I could, and at the end of about three weeks it ceased to rain so

I shall never forget two friends who came to my rescue at this
time--Charles Laffoon and Mike Cody. Both were from St. Louis and had
run a dray on the wharf on the Mississippi River, they said. They had
reached Shasta a few months ahead of us and had built a log cabin. On
one side of this they attached a shed which they used for a cook room
and the whole made a very comfortable dwelling. Lately, however, a
great many people had arrived and they had arranged a bar at one end
of the main cabin and fixed up some tables at the other for a poker
game. Both of these enterprises proved good money makers and they were
getting along fine. After it had been raining three or four weeks,
Mike came up to our tent one morning. He saw the trouble we were in
and said we must not stay there. I told him I knew nothing else to do.
He said he would arrange that all right; that he would make room for
us in his cabin. He didn't even wait for an answer, but set to work
packing things up. In a little while everything we had was moved under
a roof. He fixed a bunk in the shed or cook room for my brother and
brought some men up and carried him down and laid him on it. We used
our own blankets of course, and I cooked our meals, but Mike and his
partner took care of the rest of it. Everything was very quiet in the
day time when the men were out working in the diggings, but at night
things were mighty lively--drinking, gambling and fighting. We didn't
mind all this, for it was so much better than the leaky old tent we
had put up with for so long, and no kinder men ever lived than Mike
Cody and Charles Laffoon.

Brother William and Gleason got back on Christmas day, worn out
themselves and their teams in worse condition. It was still raining.
They had had a dreadful time, high water, mud, rain and no shelter.
They had to expose themselves in order to keep the provisions dry.

A cabin, some distance away from the cluster of houses which was
called the town, had been vacated, and we moved in, though I think
Cody and Laffoon would have arranged in some way to accommodate all of
us in their cabin had they thought we could do no better. The cabin
was fairly comfortable. It had a good fire-place and a good roof, and
these were the principal necessities. The weather was not very cold,
but everything was so entirely saturated that fire was even more
necessary than if the weather had been cold. We had room in the cabin
for our cots and provisions, and we settled down about the first of
January to spend the winter. We drove the cattle ten miles down the
river to Redding's Ranch and turned them loose in his wild herd to
graze until spring. About the middle of January, William took the
scurvy. James had improved very little, so I now had both of them on
my hands. They both lay there unable to walk a step for three months.
There was but little that could be done for them, but I had a great
deal on my hands doing even that and was thankful that I had been
spared from the disease myself, for if I had taken down we should all
have been cast upon the generosity of the wild, rough men who made up
that camp. I had no fear, however, but what we would be taken care of.
During the latter part of the winter, I was taken with a light attack
of the same disease. I was very much afraid it would become serious,
but I did not get down. I could walk flat footed on my left foot, but
had to tip-toe on my right, and all through the balance of the winter
I did the cooking, provided the wood, and ran the errands, hobbling
along the best I could.

Besides this, we were somewhat troubled by finances. Everything was
going out and nothing coming in. Everybody at work making plenty of
money, but we were compelled to stay in this cabin and spend what we
had made. We were rich, however, in provisions. Had enough to last
us a year and they were worth more than gold. I remember that flour
was worth two hundred dollars a sack, and most everything else was in

Late in March a doctor drifted into camp. He heard that we had
sickness up at our cabin and came up. He looked my brothers over. He
had no medicine and there was very little, if any, in the camp. He
prescribed raw Irish potatoes sliced in vinegar. We had no potatoes.
I went down to see if I could find them in camp. I hunted the place
over and could not find any. I was going home discouraged when I met
Mike Cody. I told him what I had been doing and he said if there was
a potato in California, he would get it for me. Next morning a man
brought a bushel up to our cabin and told us that was all the potatoes
in that part of the country. I asked him what he wanted for them and
he said they were paid for. When I asked him who paid him he said it
was Mike Cody. I then asked what he got for them. He said seventy-five
dollars. I took the potatoes and fixed them up as the doctor had told
me and gave them to the boys. In a few days they began to mend and in
two or three weeks were able to hobble about the cabin, and by the
first of May they were well enough to take care of themselves nicely.
I hadn't forgotten Mike Cody in the meantime. I went down one day and
told Mike I wanted to settle for the potatoes and for the use of his
cabin the early part of the winter. He said "You don't owe me anything
for staying at the cabin and the potatoes were a present." Said if
he could do anything else, just let him know. I thanked him the best
I could, but he told me that he didn't want any thanks, and that I
must not feel under obligation to him. He reminded me that on several
occasions when he wanted to go out in town and have a good time, I had
kept his bar and run his poker game for him, and said that paid for
everything he had done for us. I knew that was only an excuse to keep
me from feeling so much in debt to him, but I let it go at that and
never lost an opportunity to show that I appreciated what he had done.

I ought to mention, probably, my experiences as a bar-keeper and
manager of a poker game on the few occasions when I was called upon to
assume those responsible positions. The bar was a broad plank which
rested upon supports and extended clear across one end of the cabin.
The bottles of whiskey and bowls of gold dust were kept on this
plank. Mike sold nothing and had nothing to sell but whiskey. When
a man wanted a drink he would hand me over his sack of gold dust. I
poured out the price of a drink in the scale pan and put it over in
the bowl. I then gave him his drink and handed him back his bag of
gold dust. The poker game was not very hard to manage. The players had
their rules and kept their guns close by to enforce them. This made
everybody very cautious about observing the rules and seeing that a
fair game was played. As long as the fellows remained sober I never
saw any trouble over these games. Sometimes a fellow would get drunk
and try to start trouble and he usually succeeded. We generally saved
the lives of such fellows by taking them immediately away and putting
them to bed.

About the 1st of May, Gleason, who had remained at the camp all
winter, and I rigged up a couple of pack mules and went over to
Trinity River, thirty miles west. There we found quite a prosperous
camp where they were getting a good deal of gold. We each took up a
claim and went to work, and got quite a quantity of gold. About the
1st of June, James and William, who by that time were able to ride
horseback, came over and they each took a claim. By the 1st of August
we had worked these claims pretty well out and decided to go on to
Salmon River, forty miles farther west. While we were at Trinity
River, Alfred Jack of near Camden Point, Platte County, came in and
joined us. He decided to go on with us to Salmon River and we all
packed up and started. The trip was without incident, except that over
toward the end of our journey we came to an Indian village. We rode in
toward the village and as we approached we saw the bucks all running
away as fast as they could, leaving their squaws and pappooses
behind. This was strange behavior and we wondered what it meant.
When we got up to the village, we found a white horse which they had
just shot full of arrows. This looked a little dangerous to us. We
didn't know the meaning of this conduct and took it to be a sign of
war. We passed on through the village, hurried after the Indians and
soon overtook them. We had our guns and plenty of ammunition and were
pretty well prepared for a fight with them, as against their bows and
arrows, though they greatly outnumbered us. When they saw we were
prepared for them and knowing as they did that we had not harmed their
squaws and pappooses, they came and told us that they had run away
because their dogs had run at sight of us. They didn't explain why
they had shot the horse full of arrows, but I have always been of the
opinion they intended to waylay and kill us if they could.

We reached Salmon River late in the afternoon and camped for the
night. Next morning we took our picks, shovels and pans and went out
to look for gold and found it. By noon when we gathered back at the
camp every man was satisfied to make permanent camp and remain a
while. We were the first in this immediate section of the country.
Other parties were farther up the river and still others farther
down the river, but we found no evidences at all that any white men
had ever been in this particular place. We seemed to have a way of
getting in ahead. We were in the lead across the plains, among the
first to reach Sacramento, about the first at Shasta City, and Trinity
River, and actually the first on Salmon River. We were not there long,
however, until others began to come in, and in a short time all the
available locations for placer mining were taken. We remained some
six weeks, as I recollect, on Salmon River and panned out quite a
quantity of gold; enough to pay us well for the trip but hardly as
much as we anticipated we would get when we left home, after hearing
the reports that came to us. Still we were satisfied and now that
we all had good health, had no complaint to make. Some one who came
into our camp on Salmon River brought the word that our brothers were
coming across the plains from Missouri, and would get in sometime in
September. We decided to go back and meet them, so we broke camp and
went back to Shasta City. Here we loaded our plunder into our own
wagons which had been left during our absence, and after procuring
our cattle from Redding's Ranch--so fat and sleek we could hardly
recognize them, we set out down Sacramento River. The trip was made
without incident. It was the dry season of the year. There was plenty
of game, plenty for the cattle to eat, and no trouble about fording
the river. While we were in camp one night at Knight's Landing, I put
a sack of dried beef which we called "jerky," under the back part of
my pillow to make sure the coyotes would not get it. In this I was
mistaken, for sometime that night a coyote came up and helped himself
and we had no jerky for breakfast. My slumbers were not disturbed in
the least by the burglar.

A little farther down the Sacramento River, while in camp one night,
we were all awakened by an unusual noise. The camp fire was burning
dimly and afforded enough light for us to see, not twenty yards
away, a huge grizzly bear. He was sniffing around picking up scraps
of meat and bone which we had thrown away. There was a good deal
of quiet excitement in the camp over the discovery of this guest,
but fortunately everybody had sense enough to keep still. The old
fellow prowled about the camp for a long time. Sometimes he would
get right up by the fire and then we had a good look at him. He paid
no attention to us at all. Apparently didn't know we were in the
neighborhood. At least if he knew it, he didn't let on. By and by,
after satisfying himself that there were no more scraps, he walked
slowly away and we could hear him rattling the bushes and crushing the
dead limbs and sticks that lay upon the ground for a long distance. It
was not until he had been out of hearing for quite a long time that
anybody dared to speak, and then our first words to each other were
of congratulation. We hadn't had very much experience with grizzly
bears at that time and didn't know but what the old fellow might have
attempted to piece out his meal on one of us. We were glad enough when
he decided to go and hunt up some more bones and scraps and let us

We reached Sacramento City about September 20th, and from there went
up to Salmon Falls on the American River, where we found our brothers,
Isaac, Zach and Robert, and quite a company of our Buchanan County
acquaintances--Calvin James, Charles Ramsey and his family, Perry
Jones, William Glenn, James Glenn, and some others whom I do not at
this moment recall. Charles Ramsey's wife was the first white woman I
had seen since I left St. Joseph, May 2nd, 1849.

It was a great joy to us to meet these old acquaintances and to feel
that we were now not quite so lonely out in that wild country. We all
remained in camp at Salmon Falls for several weeks. During this time
the boys looked around to see what they had better do. Chas. Ramsey
and Calvin James took up a ranch about thirty miles west of Sacramento
River on Cash Creek. The five brothers of us decided that the best
thing we could do was to take up a ranch also. We went over into the
same neighborhood and squatted on a body of land. There was no law
prescribing any amount that each man could take, and the grazing land
was held largely in common. We had a good bunch of cattle and horses
of our own and emigrants were continually offering their teams for
sale. Isaac, Zach and Robert had brought considerable money out with
them, and James, William and myself had practically all the gold we
had cleaned up in mining, so we were in shape to begin the cattle
business on a pretty good scale. By the first of December we had a
fine herd of cattle, all branded with our particular brand, grazing on
the pasture along Cash Creek.

We built a cabin close to the cabin that James and Ramsey had put up,
and staked out our ranch. There were five men in the James cabin and
seven in ours--six Gibson brothers and Eli Wilson. The whole valley
of Cash Creek as well as much of the valley of Sacramento River, was
covered with wild oats. Red clover grew wild and there were many other
grasses just as good for cattle.

We had plenty of flour, sugar, coffee and such other common groceries
as were to be had in the markets at Sacramento. It had cost quite a
sum of money to get these provisions--I do not remember just how much,
but it was fabulous almost, and the only consolation we got was out of
the fact that we didn't have to buy meat. We had our own cattle if we
wanted beef, but there was no need even for that when venison was so

It must have been sometime during the first of December that we
organized a hunt for the purpose of laying in a good supply of meat
for the winter. We rigged up ten pack mules, went to the mountains a
few miles distant and camped. From this camp we conducted our hunting
expedition and in a few days had more than enough venison to last
through the winter. We killed elk, deer and antelope enough to load
our train. Part of this we took down to Sacramento and traded it for
other provisions. We felt that we could get meat any time when we had
to have it, but might not be able to get other provisions, and that an
extra supply would make us feel more comfortable.

The grazing was fine all through the winter. The climate, as every one
knows, is not cold and the one discomfort was the continued rain, but
this had its compensations. When the rivers and sloughs filled up with
water, the wild ducks and wild geese came in to feed upon the wild
oats. We had little to do but look after our cattle and think about
what we would like to eat. If we decided in the morning to have duck
or goose, some one took the gun, went out and brought back just what
we had decided upon. The rivers were full of the finest fish and they
were no trouble to catch at all, so when we wanted fish, it was at
hand. I have never lived at any place in my life where I felt so sure
of provisions as in that cabin during that winter. We had four large
greyhounds that had come across the plains with some of the emigrants
and we picked them up as company. We trained them to hunt bear--that
is the bear soon trained them. It was no trouble to get them to trail
bear. They seemed to do this by instinct, but seemed not always to be
sure of the kind of animal they were after. I judged this by watching
them tackle the bear after they had overtaken it. They would dash in
with as much confidence as if he were a jack rabbit or a coyote and
showed plainly that they proposed to take him in and annihilate him
at once. They would also show a good deal of surprise when the old
bear would rise up on his hind feet and box them ten feet away. They
soon learned to keep their distance and play with the bear, keeping
him standing on his hind feet, watching them until we could come
up close enough to get a shot. That always ended it. Sometimes the
bear would take to a tree. In either case we always got him. These
dogs were great company for us. If we happened not to want any bear
meat, we would take the dogs and chase jack-rabbits and coyotes. They
were pretty swift dogs, but it was seldom that they could pick up a
jack-rabbit, and rarely ever got a coyote on a straight run, but we
had as much fun and more probably than if the dogs had been able to
pick them up right along.

Thus passed the winter of '50 and '51--as pleasant a period as I
recall during my whole life. By the spring and early summer of '51 our
cattle were fat and fine and ready to be sold for beef. We peddled
them out to the butchers and miners along the Sacramento and American
Rivers. They brought us an average of one hundred and fifty dollars a
head. By the first of July they were all gone and we began to look for
emigrants' cattle to re-stock the ranch. We supposed that emigration
across the plains would continue and in order to get first chance at
cattle that might be for sale, we loaded up our pack mules, crossed
the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and went down Carson River to Humboldt
Desert. We were greatly surprised to find only a few straggling
emigrant trains coming in and most of these were bent on settlement
rather than mining and had brought their families. Of course, they had
no cattle to sell. We waited until the latter part of July, and when
we became convinced that no cattle were coming we had to determine the
next best thing to do.

The grazing of cattle had proved so much more to our liking than
digging gold that we wanted to continue in that business, but we
couldn't do it without cattle. We thought about the thousands of
cattle back in Missouri that might be had for ten or fifteen dollars
a head, and decided to return across the plains and during the winter
gather up a herd and take it back the following summer. This plan
seemed to suit best. Brother William was not in the best of health and
didn't feel equal to the task of crossing the plains, so it was agreed
that he and Eli Wilson would stay with the ranch and take care of
things during the year and that the rest of us would go back.


_Back Across the Plains._

It was now close to the first of August, 1851. We were camped at the
western side of the fifty-mile desert which gave us so much trouble
on our way over. We had packed provisions and equipment sufficient
only to take us across the Sierra Nevada Mountains and back. We
always allowed for emergency and put in plenty. The question now was
whether we were well enough equipped to start on a long journey back
across the plains. We made an inventory of our stock of provisions
and supplies, and decided that we could make it. Brother William and
Wilson took only a small quantity of supplies with them on their
return journey. They were going into a country where plenty was to be
found, and if they ran low, it would make no great difference. With us
it was different. We had no assurances that we could get supplies of
any kind at any point on the journey, at least not until we reached
the outposts near St. Joseph.

As already related, we had carried our supplies from home on pack
mules. We had no wagons or oxen with us and had to arrange to make the
entire journey carrying our provisions and camp equipment on the mules.

After getting everything ready we bade goodby to brother William and
Wilson, and started early in the morning. We entered at once upon the
fifty-mile desert and traveled that day and all the following night.
Our mules made better progress than the ox teams, and we reached the
Carson Sink a little after daylight where we found water. We also fell
in with four men who said they had started to Salt Lake, but had
heard from the passing emigrants that the Indians were on the war path
ahead and were afraid to go any farther alone and were waiting for
company. We had heard the same story, so concluded their excuse for
being there was a good one and that they had no designs upon unwary
emigrants. We sized them all up and decided to take them into our
company. Three of them were brothers whose names were Kilgore. The
fourth was a German whose name I have forgotten. They all lived in
Iowa. They seemed very much frightened at the idea of going on, and
suggested that we wait for further reinforcements. We told them we
had no time to waste and that we were going on and they could join us
if they wanted to. They finally consented, rigged up their outfit and
made ready. We traveled up the Humboldt River over the old road until
we reached the head waters of that stream. There were three roads open
to us from this point. One to Fort Hall on Snake River, a middle road
which had been blazed since we came over, called Hedgepeth's cut-off,
and the South road to Salt Lake. We took the Salt Lake road, though
it was new to all of us. We struck Bear River, about one hundred and
fifty miles from Salt Lake, crossed it and traveled down the East side
to Weaverville and then on to Ogden. Here we rested a few days and had
our mules and horses shod.

The day after we camped, Brigham Young paid us a visit. He asked
us many questions, but we gave him little satisfaction. We had ten
thousand dollars in gold with us and hadn't any confidence in the
Mormons, so we kept close watch. A day or two after this, we took our
mules and started to Salt Lake City. About twenty miles out on our
journey we met a large vehicle drawn by eight big white horses, a
driver on top, and a great many women and one man inside. I recognized
the man as Brigham Young, but said nothing. A little farther on we
overtook a man in the road and I asked him who the man and all the
women were that we had met back on the road. He said it was Brigham
Young and twenty of his wives.

We made a short stop at Salt Lake. There seemed to be but one road
out of the valley in which the city is situated and that led us south
about ten miles, thence east through a steep, rough canyon. It was at
the mouth of that canyon where the Mormons later built the wall to
resist the government soldiers. The road through the canyon led us
finally to the top of a high range of mountains. Passing over this and
down the eastern slope, we came to Ft. Bridger on Black Fork of Green
River. We followed this stream down to the main prong of Black River
and went thence northeasterly to Green River, thence up a prong of
that river until we reached the divide at South Pass. Here, after four
hundred miles over a strange road and over wild and rugged mountains
and deserts, we came again to the Oregon Trail, and found a familiar

This portion of the road is now familiar also to the reader. It led
down Sweetwater, past Independence Rock and Devil's Gate to North
Platte River. Just after we crossed the North Platte, we stopped
for dinner. We had eaten our meal and were resting when we saw what
appeared to be a band of Indian ponies back across the river and about
a mile away. We could not tell whether Indians were upon the ponies
or not, but there was little doubt in our minds but that there were.
We packed our mules hurriedly, saddled our horses, and started on and
had made but a short distance when three Indians came running up in
our rear on foot. They had dodged out from behind a boulder somewhere
along the road. They appeared to be quite friendly. They said "How,
How," and pointed to the good grass along the road. By these signs we
understood that they wanted us to camp and were recommending the place
to us. All this time the ponies were getting closer to us and all
doubt that Indians were upon them was removed. When the three saw that
we were not going to stop, one of them grabbed the bit of the horse
ridden by one of the Kilgore boys and attempted to hold it. Kilgore
threw his gun down at the Indian, who loosed his hold and ran back.
One of the three during this performance dropped behind and raised a
sort of flag. At this the whole band of ponies started towards us and
every pony had a red-skin on his back lying close down to the pony's
neck. They came galloping as fast as the ponies could carry them and
in single file. As they came closer we saw that they were all painted
up in war style with black feathers plaited in their hair. There
must have been twenty-five or thirty of them, and there were nine of
us--five Gibsons, three Kilgores, and the Dutchman. This Dutchman rode
in a little cart while the rest of us were on horse-back. We had eight
pack mules loaded with our camp equipment and provision, and they had
to be taken care of.

We put the pack mules abreast and pushed them directly ahead of us.
The first Indians to reach us appeared to be very friendly, as if they
could deceive anybody by that old ruse. They said "How, How," and
appeared to be very anxious for our welfare. Their purpose in this,
it was plain enough to see, was to allow their companions all to come
up. When the last of their party caught up they all set up a great
yell and made a dash to get between us and our pack mules. Every
man in our company drew his navy and each man pointed at a different
Indian. We had the drop on them. They had not drawn the guns which
some of them had or the bows and arrows which others carried, and the
first attempt to draw a weapon meant a dead Indian and they knew it,
so they halted and fell back. As soon as they were out of the way we
moved up and formed a ring around the pack mules, facing outward. This
seemed to please them wonderfully, for they started galloping around
us, yelling and going through all manner of ferocious maneuvers, but
apparently never getting in a position where they could draw a weapon.
As soon as we had surrounded our mules, Zach and Robert slipped off
their horses and coupled all the mules together. This would keep them
from scattering out. In a moment the boys were back in their saddles
and back in the ring facing outward. The Dutchman in his cart was
outside of our ring. He was very much agitated for a time for fear he
would get cut off from us and be taken by the Indians. He managed to
dash in, however, and get right close to our line and stop his horse.
This gave him a chance to get out his double barrel shot gun which he
carried in the cart and get ready for action.

This milling and yelling, around and around, must have kept up for
ten or fifteen minutes. We didn't want to kill any of them, but we
didn't propose they should get any advantage of us, and every man was
on guard. By and by, Robert and Zach, who faced the road ahead, put
spurs to their horses and broke through the ring, Robert turning on
the Indians to the right and Zach to the left, each with a navy in
each hand and the bridle reins in his mouth. This caused the Indians
to break up the milling and hurry to the rear in order to keep their
forces together. At the moment when they started back, two of our men
put whip to the mules and forced them out through the gap as fast
as they could gallop. The rest of us stood firm and steady, holding
our guns on the Indians. We held them in this manner until the mules
were well out of the way, then turned and galloped after them. We
knew all the time that we had the Indians bluffed. They couldn't get
any advantage of us and they would not fight in the open. They stood
completely still after we left them and continued to watch us as long
as we were in sight.

We made good haste that afternoon and traveled late. By 6:00 o'clock
we were twenty-five miles away, and after supper we pressed forward
until midnight. We counted that this put us a safe distance away,
but to make still more certain of our position, we rode off from the
trail about a mile to camp. At daylight we were moving again and the
next day at noon reached Ft. Laramie. Perhaps this haste and forced
marching were all unnecessary, but in dealing with the Indians, it is
a good idea to put just as much distance as you can between yourself
and them. Ft. Laramie offered us the first real security we had
known since we crossed the Continental Divide. The whole territory,
especially between Platte River and Ft. Laramie, was infested with the
worst bands of Indians then known to emigrants, and many trains had
been robbed and the members killed on this portion of the journey.

We found sixty thousand Indians at Ft. Laramie to draw their pay from
the government. All were camped across the river north of the Fort.
As we left Ft. Laramie we rode over and stopped for our mid-day meal.
They gathered around us, made signs, tried to swap ponies with us and
pretended to be, and were in fact at that time, very friendly with us.
I remember an amusing incident that occurred at this time. Brother
Isaac had a little Spanish mule which he offered to the Indians for
a pony. The Indians asked if the mule was gentle. Isaac told them it
was perfectly so, and in order to prove it, he jumped upon the mule
bareback and with nothing but a halter to control it by. The mule
had carried a pack all the way from Sacramento, but this was a new
experience. He immediately bowed his back, stuck his head down between
his knees, and began bucking. In a twinkle, Isaac was rolling ten feet
away in the sand. I never saw anything give as much delight as this
gave the Indians. They whooped and yelled and kept it up. Now and then
it would subside and then break out again. We joined the Indians and
laughed as heartily as they; everybody enjoyed it but brother Isaac.
It was like most funny things, no fun at all to somebody.

About 2:00 o'clock we started down North Platte. The soldiers warned
us to look out for scouting parties of Indians, and our own experience
told us this was good advice. We met with no trouble, however, and
reached the mouth of South Platte in good time. On this ride from
Ft. Laramie to South Platte I think we must have seen hundreds of
thousands of buffalo. They were so tame they would hardly give us the
road. We had all the good buffalo beef we wanted every meal. A while
before camping time, one of our party would ride ahead, pick out a
good place where water and fuel could be had. He would then ride out
to the closest buffalo herd, pick out a fat yearling, shoot it, and
have it ready when we came up. It was short work to make a fire, make
our bread, make the coffee and broil a fine buffalo steak. I have
never enjoyed any meals in my life more than these. There was only
one trouble about this method of getting our meat--the wolves kept us
awake most of the night fighting over the carcass. In order to avoid
this we usually dragged the carcass out of hearing of the camp. On the
trip down from Ft. Laramie we noticed one day a great herd of buffalo
far in front of us and a little to the right of the trail, which
seemed to be grazing on the hillside in a circle. As we came nearer we
made out the situation more clearly. Hundreds of them grazing, heads
outward, formed a complete circle in which there must have been a
thousand little calves all lying down. On the opposite hillside a half
mile away, we saw about twenty savage wolves watching the herd. The
buffalo were watching also. They knew the wolves were there and they
were protecting their calves against them.

When we reached Ft. Kearney we learned that the Indians on Little
Blue were on the war path, so kept on down Platte River fifty or
sixty miles farther, and then passed across the country where Lincoln
now stands, and reached the Missouri River at old Ft. Kearney, where
Nebraska City is now situated. We crossed the Missouri River into
Iowa and thence down the east side of the river. About the middle of
the afternoon one day, we crossed the Missouri line, journeyed on to
night, and went into camp without a guard, the first in three months.
We passed Jackson's Point and Oregon, in Holt County, and reached
Jimtown, Andrew County, where we stopped for the night with Drury
Moore, a cousin of ours, and slept in a bed, the first in three years.
Next day we reached home.

We rode up, driving our pack mules loaded with blankets, bread pans,
frying pans, coffee pots, tin cups, and sacks of provisions; hair and
beard long and unkempt and tanned as brown as Indians. Mother, sister
Mary and brother Isaac's wife were the only members of the family
at home and they came out on the portico of the house to watch us.
They were not expecting us for two years, and of course, thought the
caravan they saw belonged to strangers. When we began climbing off our
horses and fastening the pack mules to the fence, they fell back into
the house. We hitched, got over the fence, and walked up to the door
without being recognized. In fact, we had a real hard time convincing
them that we were really ourselves, and I am not very much surprised
that they should not have known us. The dirt, sand, wind, sun and the
grimy life we had led for more than six weeks without a shave or a
hair cut was enough to disguise us.

We reached home about the middle of September, 1851. It was a
delightful thing to be at home once more, but in order to carry out
our plans we had little time to spare during this season of the year.
Prairie hay grew in great quantities on the old farm and it was
now in perfect condition to be cut and cured. We rested only a day
or two, then sharpened up the scythes and went to work. We cut and
cured twenty or thirty tons of this hay in order that we might have
something to feed the cattle on as we collected them together. After
this was done, we had a good long period of rest. Christmas came and
we entered into the fun with the young folks. I think I shall never
forget this winter at home.

About the first of January, 1852, we began buying cattle and kept it
up throughout the remainder of the winter. By the first of May we
had five hundred and fifty head collected upon the old farm ready to


_Across the Plains With Cattle._

The first days of May found us on the banks of the river at the mouth
of Black Snake. Most of the men went along with the first load of
cattle ferried across the river. As the cattle were driven out on the
farther shore, the men corralled them and held them on a sand-bar
to await the slow process of bringing the whole herd across. Elwood
bottom at that time was a perfect wilderness of timber with only an
Indian trail leading through it out as far as Peter's Creek. After
much delay, the last of the herd was ferried over and then came the
wagons, oxen, horses and mules.

There were twenty-five men in charge of this drove of cattle. Each man
had a horse, and besides this, we had a number of mules. We took three
wagon loads of provisions and had four yoke of oxen to each wagon.
This comprised the outfit.

The Indians occupied the land on the Kansas side of the river and
they came down to see us cross. They were peaceable and harmless, and
did not mean to give us any trouble. They would come up close to the
trail, and stand and stare at the cattle, and this was about as bad
a thing as could have been done. I don't know why it is, but cattle
never liked Indians. The whole herd would pass a white man without
paying any attention to him, but if an Indian stood by the wayside
where the cattle could see him, he would create a great commotion, and
frequently, unless the greatest care was observed, a stampede would

The cattle were not used to traveling, and we experienced our greatest
trouble the first week out. We had not only the Indians to contend
with, but we had to break the cattle to drive, and the brush and
timber were so thick that every man in the company had to be on the
watch to keep from losing some of the herd. The men were as green as
the cattle, and with all these hindrances we made slow progress the
first period of our journey. At the end of about a week or ten days,
and after we had reached the high prairie, things began to settle
down. The men learned their duties and the cattle had apparently been
as apt as the men. They understood exactly what was before them when
the start was made in the morning. One of our company always rode
ahead and it was a pretty sight to see all the cattle break away from
grazing and start out after this leader as soon as the men began to
crack their whips and call to them.

We made no haste. The grazing was good and the water plentiful, and we
wanted our cattle to get in as good condition as possible before they
reached the desert part of the journey. Ten or fifteen miles a day was
counted a good day's drive. At this rate, there was plenty of time for
grazing and rest. The new men with us were impatient to go faster, but
those of us who had been over the journey knew too well the trials
ahead to permit haste on this part of the road. We wanted to save our
strength in order that we might make haste across the mountains and
the alkali that lay between us and the end of our journey.

At Little Blue we overtook a train lying in camp, and learned that
Cholera had broken out, and that several deaths had occurred. An old
man by the name of Frost came out to where we were and said he had
been waiting for us; that he had heard we would be on the road this
year, and when misfortune and sickness overtook his train, he decided
to wait for us. He lived on Grand River, and his son had died of the
Cholera, and we wanted to take the body back home. He said he had
enough of the plains and didn't care to spend the remainder of his
days amid such hardships. He had forty head of choice dairy cows and
asked us to buy them. We told him we had no money for that purpose
with us. He said he didn't want the money, if we would give him our
note it would be good enough for him. We accordingly gave him a note
for six hundred dollars and he turned his little herd over to us.

Brother Isaac decided to return with Mr. Frost and wait until he heard
from us, and if we succeeded in getting our cattle through without
difficulty, he would bring another herd the next year. Within a week
after Isaac left, brother William, who had made the trip home by way
of Panama and New York, overtook us with a drove about equal in number
to ours. We combined the two and all moved together, thenceforth
throughout the journey.

I may anticipate a little here and say that after arriving in
California, we sent the money back to take up our note given for the
forty cows. It reached our father and he communicated with Mr. Frost,
paid him the money and took up the note. It was pretty slow business,
but it was accomplished without difficulty.

When the two herds of cattle and two companies of men were joined
together, they made quite a caravan. A good many Buchanan County boys
made the trip with us, among them were James and Russell Deakins,
Joe and Sebastian Kessler, Rufus Huffman and a man by the name of
Streeter, who went along as cook in brother William's company. There
were many others, but I cannot now recall their names.

We journeyed without incident that I now recall until we reached Plum
Creek, which I have described in the account of my first trip out.
Close to this place the wolves attacked our cattle one night and
caught a fine cow and a heifer, and before we could relieve them tore
their flanks so dreadfully that they both died. The bellowing of these
two raised the whole herd and came near creating a stampede. It was a
very dark night. The entire company got out upon horseback and rounded
up the cattle, and kept galloping around them the remainder of the
night, firing their guns to frighten away the wolves. It is a wonder
we didn't have more trouble with wolves than we did. The buffalo had
all gone south and had not returned, and the wolves were savagely
hungry and would attack most anything that offered them a chance of
securing food.

We kept our course on up the Platte, taking every protection against
wolves and Indians, and finally reached a point just below the
junction of the two rivers. Here we decided to try a new road. We
would not go up the South Platte as we had gone on our previous trip,
but would cross the river and follow up the North Platte. We spent
half a day sounding the bottom of the river and found we could cross
by raising our wagon beds about ten inches. The banks of the stream
were low, but the water was running nearly bank full. By the middle of
the afternoon we had the wagon beds all raised and the banks spaded
down and ready for the start. We hitched ten yoke of cattle to one
wagon and drove in with five men on horseback on each side of the
cattle to keep them straight. This wagon crossed over in good shape
and the oxen were driven back and a second wagon taken across the same
way. As the last wagon crossed, we pushed the whole drove of cattle,
a thousand in all, after the wagon. The loose cattle traveled faster
than the work cattle and began to bunch behind the wagon and around
the oxen until we could not tell the work cattle from the loose ones,
except by the yoke. The loose cattle crowded on, more and more of
them gathering about the wagon until I began to think our work cattle
as well as the wagon were in great danger. We took quick action to
relieve the situation. I ordered fifteen or twenty of the boys to rush
right in, and with their whips force the loose cattle away from the
oxen. They cut and slashed, whooped and yelled, and finally got in
alongside the wagon and the work cattle. They then forced the oxen as
fast as they could to shore and drove them out safely on the opposite
bank. This left the loose cattle without any guide as to their course
across the river. The current was running swiftly and the cattle
wandered off down the river, sometimes getting beyond their depth and
finally when they reached the bank, it was in many places so steep
they could not climb out. It was a pretty serious situation for a
little while, but by and by through hard work and much racing of the
horses, we got them all out on the opposite shore and rounded them up
about sundown.

Next morning we started on our slow journey up North Platte and
moved on day by day, passed Fort Laramie, and a few miles above
it struck across the mountains along the old trail most of us had
twice traveled. Scenes were familiar along this route by this
time--Fremont's Peak in the distance to the north, Independence Rock
and Devil's Gate, and farther on South Pass, which divides the waters
of the Atlantic from the Pacific.

Green River was past fording. A couple of men from the east somewhere
had constructed their wagon beds of sheet iron made in the shape
of flat boats and had left home ahead of emigration and when they
reached this river, unloaded and set their wagon beds on the river
and were ready for business. They set our wagons over at five dollars
per load, and we swam our horses and cattle after them. We chose
the old trail over which we had gone in forty-nine, as better than
the Hedgepeth cut-off, and so we passed Soda Springs and Fort Hall,
thence down Snake River to mouth of Raft River, up Raft River and over
the divide to the Humboldt, down the Humboldt, over the desert and
across the Sierra Nevada Range, and down on the other side. Every spot
seemed as familiar to me as my father's door yard, but the most vivid
recollections came when I passed the old pine tree at Weaver Creek
under which I lay sick for ten days in forty-nine.

We crossed Sacramento River on a ferry at Sacramento City and went
forty miles southwest into the Suisun Valley, nearer San Francisco Bay
than our first ranch. We stopped a few days on Charles Ramsey's ranch
until we could locate grazing land of our own. Ramsey was a son-in-law
of Calvin James, and, as heretofore related, had brought his family
with my brothers on their trip out in 1850. He built a pre-emption
house in a black-haw patch where Easton, Missouri, now stands. After
his arrival in California in 1850, he took up a ranch in Suisun Valley
and passed the remainder of his life there.

After resting a few days at Ramsey's, brother James and I went back
east about ten miles to Barker Valley and located a ranch, and
returned for our cattle. Our first thought was of the cattle and after
they had been provided for, we thought of ourselves. We put up a
substantial cabin to shelter us from the rainy season, and then built
a large corral by cutting posts and setting them deep in the ground,
and binding the tops together with rawhide. We then dug a deep ditch
around it, after which we were sure it would hold a grizzly bear. Our
ranch proved to be on land claimed by Barker, a Spaniard, who lived
about ten miles away, but he gave us no trouble. He had a little
village of Spaniards around him and about fifty Digger Indians who
were his slaves. They were quite friendly, and we all worked together
looking after the cattle.

By the time all preparations had been made for winter, the season
was pretty well advanced. Through it all, we had not had time to
lay in a supply of venison for the winter or to enjoy a good hunt.
After everything else had been done and we had rested a few days, we
rigged up our pack mules and started for the mountains. I have already
described the abundance of game in this country, and on this hunt we
found no exception. Deer, antelope, elk and bear in plenty. We had
to watch also for California lions, wolves and wildcats. They were
abundant also. We were gone on this hunt about a week. Had a camp in
which we assembled over night and brought in the results of our day's
work. It was great fun to sit about a big camp fire and re-count the
experiences of the day. We secured all the venison we could possibly
need for a long period of time, and with it set off to our cabin to
spend a winter very much the same as we had spent a previous winter
farther up the valley.

Our only diversion was with the gun and the dogs. Wild fowl was still
abundant, and we had the choicest meats whenever we wanted them. I
remember during this winter that a large herd of elk were driven out
of the swamp by the water, and into an open valley near our cabin.
The dogs sighted them and made for them. They singled out a monster
buck and he took to the water to battle them. The dogs were plucky
and swam in after him, but they had little chance, as the water was
beyond their depth, while he could easily stand on the bottom. As the
dogs would approach him, he would strike them with his front feet and
plunger them under. We watched the proceedings for a few minutes and
soon saw that our dogs would all be drowned if we let the buck alone,
so one of our boys rode in and shot him with his revolver. We dragged
him out and dressed him. He was a monster, and must have weighed as
much as 800 pounds. His antlers were the largest I have ever seen.


_A Bear Hunt._

By March, our cattle were fat, and we began marketing. A bunch of
dairy cows shipped across San Francisco Bay to San Francisco brought
two hundred dollars a head. A month later we took over one hundred
beef cattle and sold them to Miller and Lucks for one hundred dollars
per head, and at various intervals throughout the spring months,
we culled out the fattest cattle still on hand and took them over,
receiving for all of them prices ranging from seventy-five to one
hundred and fifty dollars per head.

Our plan was to stay in California during this summer, and we
congratulated ourselves that we were to escape the burning plains.
We had very little to do, had plenty of money and plenty to eat,
and I believe every man in the camp was pretty well satisfied with

Late in the fall, as was our custom, we organized another hunt.
I would not mention it but for an incident that occurred out in
the mountains which may be interesting. The party consisted of my
brothers, William, James and Zack, Joe and Barsh Kessler, and myself.
We reached a good place to camp late one evening and pitched our
tent. Some of the boys went to work about the camp, others took
their guns and went out to look for camp meat and found it. One of
the boys brought down a nice deer, and brought it in in time for
supper. Next morning the party was up bright and early, and took off
in various directions to look for game. We had not been separated a
half hour until I heard the guns popping in various directions. I
was crawling along the side of a gulch making my way up the mountain,
and had concluded luck was against me. Shortly after I had made this
reflection, I heard the sound of brother William's gun, which I
knew very well, off to my right and across the canon. Then I heard
a dreadful growling and howling and knew that William had wounded a
bear. In a moment I heard a second shot, but the growling continued.
I ran down the side of the gulch, crossed the ravine at the bottom,
and started up the other side when I saw farther up the mountain a big
grizzly making his way slowly along sniffing, growling and plowing
through the wild oats that covered the side of the mountain. I was
satisfied it was the bear that William had wounded, and I knew it
was not safe for me to get very close to him. However, I was then in
safe quarters, and I decided to move on to a position where I could
get a shot that would bring him down, and, if I could not do this,
it was my plan to keep him in sight so I could direct William, who
was on horseback, how to follow him. In passing through the brush
and undergrowth, however, I lost sight of the bear. I stopped and
listened, but could hear nothing. I was in fairly open ground and
could see some distance away, and as the bear was quite a distance
ahead, I decided to move cautiously along. I really thought the
bear had gone over the mountain. I moved slowly and as I approached
fairly well toward the top, I noticed a thick bunch of weeds off at a
distance, but it did not occur to me that the bear had stopped there.
However, I continued up the mountain, intending to leave the weeds to
my left. I slipped along until I got opposite the weeds, and there to
my great astonishment, I saw the bear not thirty yards from me. His
eyes were set upon me and his hair all turned the wrong way. I then
thought for the first time how indiscreet I had been. I had only one
chance, and I took that in a hurry. I dropped my gun and started down
the mountain for a scrubby tree which stood about sixty yards away.
When I started to run the bear took after me. I ran with all my might
and as I passed under the tree, I jumped up and grabbed the lower
limb and swung myself up. The bear came growling and plowing down the
mountain, and raised on his hind feet, and grabbed my boot with one
of his paws just as he passed under me, but the ground was so steep
and his momentum was so great that it forced him on down the side of
the mountain beyond me. This gave me time to go up the tree as high
as I could, though it was so small that I could not feel very secure.
The bear came back growling and snarling, and came up to the tree,
stood up on his hind feet with his paws around the tree, and tried to
reach me. I was not over five feet above him, but he could not reach
me. I pulled off my hat and threw it upon the ground. He growled and
fell back after it, and tore it all to pieces. This seemed to satisfy
him for he did not come back to the tree any more, but stood looking
around for a while and then walked away. He went on up the side of
the mountain, perhaps a hundred yards, and crawled into a thicket of
chapparal brush and laid down. I called William as loud as I could
but got no answer. I called again and again, and finally he heard me.
The first thing he said was, "Look out, there is a wounded bear up
there." I called back to him and told him it was gone, but he didn't
understand me. He said, "Get back, get away from there, there is a
wounded bear in the weed patch right by you." I answered and told him
to come on up, and he did so. He seemed surprised to see me in a tree,
but I soon related my experience and pointed out the chapparal brush
in which the bear was lying.

I had had a pretty narrow call, but I was not willing to give up
without the bear. The question was how could we get him. I would not
risk getting down and walking up to the brush patch. One experience
of that kind was enough. There was a tree standing a few yards from
the thicket, and after looking the situation over a while, I told
William to go and ride between the tree and the brush, and keep a
close lookout, and I would get down, run to the tree, climb it, and go
out on a limb that extended toward the brush where I thought perhaps
I could see to get a shot. He said it was a little dangerous, but I
told him I was willing to give the old bear a dare anyway, that he had
caught me off my guard the first time. We waited quite a long time and
heard nothing from the bear, so William concluded to try it. He rode
around up the side of the mountain between the brush and the tree,
and made considerable noise, but the bear lay still. He called me,
and I climbed down, ran as hard as I could, and was soon up the other
tree and out of danger. This was a large tree and gave me plenty of
protection. After I was well up the tree, I pointed out where I had
dropped my gun and William went and got it. He said he had hard work
to find it, as it was almost covered with wild oats straw and dust
which the bear had dragged over it in his chase after me. The gun was
father's old Tennessee rifle and as true a weapon as I ever used.

William handed the gun up to me and I examined it to see if it was
all right. I then climbed high up in the tree and went out on the
limb that extended toward the brush. From this point I had a good
view down into the thicket and I soon located the bear. I laid my gun
across a limb and drew a bead on his head. At the crack of the gun
he straightened out and began to tremble and kick, and I knew the
fight was over. His struggles dislodged him from his position on the
steep mountain side and he tumbled over and over down the slant to
the bottom of the gulch. He looked as big as an ox, but not half so
dreadful to me as when I was scampering away from him an hour before.

We dressed him and went to camp. The other boys were there and each
had a story to tell. Ours was of big game and easily carried away the

We put in a week or more at this camp and had a good time and got any
quantity of venison. Everything was so free, the air and water were
so pure, and the wild tent life so fascinating that I often think of
those days with delight.

Shortly after our return from this hunt, Joe Kessler and I loaded our
pack mules and started back across the Sierra Nevada Mountains to meet
brother Isaac, who was about due with his drove of cattle from across
the plains. We had heard nothing from him since he left us the summer
before, but he had told us he expected to get a herd of cattle and
come. We met him on Carson River, and as I recall now, there were a
number of Buchanan County boys with him--William James, John Sweeney
and John Bridgeman were three that I recall. They had some eight
hundred or a thousand cattle, and had crossed the plains without any
very great difficulty, except the suffering and hardship from the
drouth and alkali which could always be expected. We got the cattle
across the mountains and on the ranch without difficulty and turned
the poor things out to rest and get fat.

We remained on the ranch and in the cabin until everybody was well
rested and then Bridgeman and the other boys who had come out with
Isaac, began to talk about a hunt. They had heard our bear and deer
stories and wanted some experience of their own.

I must tell one thing that occurred on a hunt that was planned
for these boys especially, although I have previously related at
considerable length my hunting experiences. We had been out in the
camp a day or two and had not had much luck, especially with bear; but
one afternoon while we were all moving along pretty close together and
somewhat contrary to our ordinary methods of hunting, we ran on to
two brown bears just as they were going into a dense thicket covering
about twenty acres of ground. We had no chance to get a shot before
they went in. We immediately surrounded the thicket and posted men
at convenient distances apart, and began an effort to dislodge them.
In spite of the danger of doing so, some of the boys went into the
thicket and made a great noise which drove the bears to the farther
side and gave the boys on that side a fair chance for a shot, but they
did not get them and the bears ran back into the thicket. The same
tactics drove them from one side of the thicket to the other for an
hour or more, and nobody was able to make a telling shot. By and by
both got away, and everybody was deeply chagrined--especially the boys
who were out for the first time.

We moved away from the thicket and down the mountain side, all still
much excited, and stopped to rest in a little glade that was almost
completely surrounded by thick brush. There was not a loaded gun in
the crowd. As we sat there talking, a grizzly bear that looked as big
as an old gray mule, walked out of the brush not twenty steps away.
He raised up on his hind feet with his paws hanging down to his sides,
dropped his lip and showed his teeth. I don't think I ever saw a crowd
of men so badly scared. They jumped and ran in every direction. The
closest tree stood between where we were sitting and the bear. Sweeney
made for it.

He was beside himself. He tried to climb the tree but lost his hold
and fell back. He tried again, but the tree had a smooth trunk and
he slipped again. He slid down until he sat flat upon the ground
with his arms and legs locked around the tree. Here he lost his head
completely. His desire to get up the tree had evidently placed him
there in his own imagination, for he called out: "Hand me my gun up
here! Hand me my gun up here!" He then said, "Why in the hell don't
you boys climb a tree?"

I stood perfectly still and kept my eye on the bear. I soon saw there
was no danger in him; that he was as badly scared as we were. He stood
a moment, dropped on his four paws to the ground, wheeled and went
tearing back through the brush. I told the boys he couldn't understand
what they were doing and took their conduct to be preparation for a
great fight, and that I didn't blame him for getting scared. If the
devil himself had seen them and hadn't understood that they were
scared, it would have frightened him.

When we got over our scare, we loaded our guns carefully and started
for camp. The boys were still excited and as we passed over the stream
which flowed at the bottom of the canon, we saw where a bear had
apparently, but a few minutes before been wallowing in the mud and
water. The mountain sides were steep and rough and covered with brush,
and our boys after their recent fright, were in almost as much terror
at this evidence of nearness to a bear as they were when they could
actually see him. The experienced members of the party looked into the
situation for a moment and decided that we would probably get this
gentleman. We climbed back up the canon, every now and then loosening
a big rock and rolling it down through the brush. By and by we routed
out a brown bear. He started up the mountain on the opposite side of
the gulch and in plain view. I gave him a sample of what my Tennessee
rifle could do and sent him rolling back to the bottom of the gulch
ready to be dressed.

We remained in camp a week or two on this hunt and everybody, as
usual, enjoyed it. We went back to the cabin where six Gibson brothers
lived together. The cattle were little trouble, and there was nothing
to do most of the time but loaf, and this didn't suit us after so much
activity. We soon began to plan for the succeeding year. The cattle
were not much trouble and two men could easily take care of them.
James, Zack, Robert and myself volunteered to return to Missouri and
bring another herd out next year, leaving William and Isaac in charge
while we were gone.


_Home by way of Panama and New York._

About the first of November, the four of us left the ranch for San
Francisco. There we bought four tickets for New York for eight hundred
dollars, and each man belted a thousand dollars in twenty-dollar gold
pieces around him. Our ship was the John L. Stephens, and carried
about a thousand passengers, besides a large quantity of freight. It
was my first experience on the water, and as we sailed out through the
golden gate and into the open sea, I had many misgivings and wished
myself back upon the plains among the Indians. But in a little while I
grew accustomed to life on the ship and really enjoyed the whole trip.
At some point on the coast of Old Mexico the ship anchored and took on
board a drove of beef cattle, and that was the only stop between San
Francisco and Panama.

When we reached Panama the ship anchored about a mile from shore and
little black natives rowed out in small boats to carry the passengers
in. When the boats reached the side of the ship, they were hoisted by
ropes to a level with the deck, loaded with passengers and lowered
again to the water. The natives grabbed the oars and away we went. All
passengers remained in Panama over night, and next morning a train of
pack mules was lined up for the overland trip. We rode twenty miles on
mules to the Charges River, then down the river in boats twelve miles
and then eight miles by railway to Aspinwall. The ship, George Law,
was waiting for us, but it required two days to get all the passengers
and baggage across the isthmus and loaded. During that time we
remained in Aspinwall. It was a wonder to me that the task could be
finished so quickly. There were a thousand passengers--many women and
children--and the sick who had to be carried on stretchers by the
natives twenty miles over the mountain to Charges River. Besides, the
road was a mere pack trail through rocks and cliffs, often very steep
and very rough. To make the task more difficult, the passengers of
the George Law--about as many as were on the John L. Stephens--were
making the trip in the opposite direction to take our ship back to
California. Those were busy days for the natives.

The George Law steamed right up to shore against a rock bluff and the
passengers walked directly over the gang plank on to the ship. When
all was ready the seamen hauled in the cables and we sailed for New
York. The sea was very rough all the way--that is, it seemed so to us.
We landed at Key West, but remained there only a few hours and stopped
next time at New York City. As the passengers started for shore the
captain told them to look out for their pocket books. We had done that
back in San Francisco when we put on our belts.

Our first thought on landing was clothing. We were dressed for summer
time, as the climate we had been in required, but it was winter in
New York, with deep snow on the ground. The afternoon after landing
saw us duly provided with plenty of warm clothing and tickets by
railroad and boat to St. Louis--railroad by way of Buffalo, Toledo
and Chicago to Quincy, and from Quincy to St. Louis by boat. At St.
Louis brother Robert was taken sick and we all remained there a week.
The usual course from St. Louis home was by stage, but we met a man
named Andrew Jackson from Holt County, who told us if we would pay
him stage fare--twenty-five dollars each--he would buy a span of mules
and a carriage and drive us through--as he needed both the mules and
the carriage at home. This arrangement was made and we left St. Louis
about the middle of December. The weather was very cold, snow a foot
deep or more, and the roads very rough in many places. One pleasant
thing about the trip was that we always had good, warm lodging places
for the night along the road. Towns were close enough together to
enable us usually to reach one of them and put up at the tavern, but
if we failed in this, we always found good treatment at the farm
houses by the way.

A few miles west of Keytesville, Chariton County, we put up one night
with a man named Tom Allen, who had a hundred head of steers ranging
from two to four years old. They were exactly what we wanted, but were
so far from our starting point that we were uncertain whether we could
take them. He asked three thousand dollars for the herd. Next morning
we looked them over carefully, and told him if he would keep them
until the first of April we would take them. He agreed to this and we
paid him a thousand dollars down and continued our journey. He was a
complete stranger to us and we to him, but in those days men seemed
to have more confidence in one another. No writing of any kind was
entered into and we felt not the slightest uneasiness about getting
the cattle.

We reached home Christmas day, 1853, having made the trip in less than
two months.


_Another trip across the plains with cattle._

From Christmas until the middle of March, 1854, the time passed
rapidly, with mother and father and with visits to old friends and
acquaintances. On April first, according to contract, we arrived
at Tom Allen's in Chariton County, and paid him the balance of two
thousand dollars--in gold--and got our hundred head of cattle, all
in good condition. As we passed Brunswick, we bought one hundred
more and attempted to ferry the whole herd across Grand River in a
flat-boat. We cut off a bunch and drove them down the bank on to the
boat. They all ran to the farther end of the boat and sunk it, and
the cattle went head foremost into the water. All swam back to the
same shore, but one steer. He swam to the other side and ran out into
the brush. We could do nothing but watch him go and gave him up for
lost. A strange thing happened in regard to that steer. Just a year
later, I found him on our ranch in California--the same marks and the
same brand, besides my recollection of him. There could be no mistake
about it. I can account for his presence there easily, for at that
time many men were driving cattle across the plains. Some one found
him and drove him along and, after arriving, as ranches were large and
unfenced, he wandered with other cattle up into our ranch.

After the unsuccessful attempt to ferry the cattle over the river
we changed our plan and drove them twenty miles up the river to a
point where it could be forded. Passed Carrollton where we picked up
a few more cattle, and came on up to John Wilson's in Clay County,
gathering a few here and there until we had three hundred head. Wilson
had a herd of one hundred which we bought. These four hundred with
two hundred purchased around home completed the herd. By the last day
of April we had six hundred head in father's pasture at home, thirty
head of horses and mules, two wagons loaded with provisions--four yoke
of cattle to each wagon--and twenty men employed to go with us. As
we laid the pasture fence down to let that drove of cattle out into
the wide world, every man had to be on his guard. It was a timbered,
brushy country and very hard to drive the cattle without losing
them. There were probably fifty of our neighbors on hand to see us
start--many of them on horse-back--and they gave us much assistance.
By two o'clock next day we had everything across the river at St. Joe
and the cattle herded on a sandbar above where Elwood now stands.
After starting off the sandbar we had the same trouble in the heavy
timber and with the Indians that we experienced on the first trip, but
finally got out on the high plains with horses, cattle and men fairly
well trained, and then considered our hard work finished, although two
thousand miles of plains and mountains were ahead.

Brothers James, Zack and Robert all started to accompany me on this
trip, but, as it was unnecessary to have so many along, James and
Robert returned after we had reached Big Blue, to gather up a herd
for the following summer, and Zack and I continued the journey. I was
considerably older than Zack, and the principal responsibility fell to
me. The cattle were very valuable, but, in addition to that, I felt
in a measure responsible for the lives of the thirty persons who
accompanied the train--at least, in any conflict with Indians, I would
be depended upon for counsel and guidance.

I shall not attempt to give the details of this trip. The road is now
familiar to the reader, and I hope also that, by this time, he can
appreciate the tediousness of such a journey. He may be aided in this
if I say here that we hadn't a pound of grain or hay with us, either
for the horses and work cattle or for the herd, but all of them had to
subsist by grazing. It was impossible, therefore, to make more than
a few miles a day and it was only by determined persistence and a
display of patience that I cannot describe, that we ever accomplished
the journey. There are a few incidents, which, in addition to the
ordinary hardships, served to make the trip still more tedious and
trying, and these I will mention.

One night we camped on a high, rolling prairie out beyond Little Blue.
The cattle were grazing peacefully and the horses and mules--except
those used by brother Zack and myself and by the guards--had been
picketed out, and everybody in camp was asleep. One of the mules
pulled up his picket stake and dragged it at the end of a long
rope through the camp and caught the picket stake in the bow of an
ox-yoke. This frightened the mule and he ran into the herd of cattle
still dragging the yoke. A stampede followed. Work cattle, horses
and mules--everything--and the noise sounded like an earthquake. The
guards could not hold the cattle at all. Zack and I, who kept our
horses saddled and bridled and tied to a wagon, were out in a moment,
but we could give little assistance to the two guards in managing the
crazy cattle, and the other men could not come to us for their horses
had gone with the cyclone. It was very dark and our only guide to
the location of the cattle was the roar of the ground. After a race
of a few miles the roar ceased and we knew the cattle had checked. We
rode in front of them and held them until daylight. They were badly
scattered and exposed to wolves and Indians. It was twelve o'clock
next day before we got them rounded up and ready to start forward. All
the cattle and horses were found, but one of our mules was missing. No
trace of him could be found anywhere, so we left him alone somewhere
on those plains for the Indians or the wolves, or possibly, for a
succeeding emigrant train.

Day by day and week by week the journey continued without incident,
until we reached a point high up on the North Platte. We camped one
night upon the banks of a small stream that emptied into the Platte,
and during the night a terrific hail storm came up. Shortly after
it broke upon us, one of the guards came and said the cattle had
gone with the hail storm, and the guards could do nothing with them.
Several of us were on our horses and after them at once. A flash of
lightning now and then helped us to find the main bunch, which we
rounded up on a sand-bar in Platte River. No more sleep that night.
When daylight came the hail lay two inches deep on the ground. I never
experienced such a hail storm in my life, and it is my opinion that
but few like it have ever visited this country.

The count that morning showed thirteen cattle missing. For fear of a
mistake we went forward and strung them out between us and counted
again. Still thirteen short. To leave them without further effort was
out of the question, so I picked five men--James and Russell Deakins,
Joshua Gidlett, Buchanan County boys, and Tom Sherman and Henry Marks,
two boys from Boston who joined our train at St. Joseph, and, with
our guns and blankets and a small amount of provisions, started back
to circle the camp and look for tracks leading away. I thought the
Indians had them and told the boys we would likely have to fight, but
all were willing to go. Zack was to move the train slowly forward
until he heard from us.

We did not search long after reaching the place where the cattle had
been grazing when the storm came up, until we found tracks leading to
the north, and by appearances we were able to conclude that there were
just about the number we had lost in the bunch that had been driven
away. We followed the tracks a few miles, looking all the time for
Indian tracks and pony tracks, and could see neither, but there were
numbers of what appeared to be dog tracks. This suggested wolves, and
I began to look closely at the tracks made by the cattle. Going up
the sides of the sand hills the cattle seemed to remain together, but
going down they would separate and run, and on level ground would get
together again and all circle around and wander back and forth. At
such times we had great difficulty in tracing them. The movements of
the cattle convinced me that wolves were after them.

The tracks led us to the north about ten miles and then turned
westwardly. We had followed in that direction about five miles when
night came. As soon as it grew so dark we could not see the tracks,
we staked out our horses, ate a lunch and spread our blankets down
on the ground. We rested, but slept little. We had seen no Indians,
but did not know how many had seen us, and might be following us.
Two stood guard at a time while the other three lay on the ground
in the darkness with their eyes wide open. At daybreak we were up,
and as soon as it was light were on the trail again. Some miles on
the tracks turned south, and this gave us courage, as Platte River
and the emigrant road lay that way, but the wolves still had our
cattle. The tracks led us on and on and finally up the side of a high
range of sand hills, from the top of which we could see the valley
of North Platte and the river far in the distance. We followed down
the opposite side into the valley, and when within about two miles
of the river I saw a bunch of cattle lying down near the bank. I was
confident they were our cattle, unless other emigrants had lost a
bunch in the storm, which was not probable. We hurried on and when
within half a mile of the cattle found a carcass lying in the high
grass and twelve or fifteen savage old wolves lying near by asleep.
We pulled our navies and waked them up with bullets--killed three and
wounded several others. We then rode on and found that the cattle were
ours--twelve of them. A three year old heifer missing--the carcass we
had found. The cattle were sore and gaunt, but otherwise unhurt. We
pulled the saddles off our horses and staked them out to graze and lay
down for a little rest. We had been gone from camp twenty-four hours,
had had but two scanty meals and were probably twenty-five or thirty
miles farther up the trail than the camp we left. Our train had not
passed, as there were no fresh tracks on the trail, and we decided to
endure our hunger and rest awhile before starting to meet it. In about
an hour, however, I looked down the valley and saw the train moving
slowly along. It reached us just about noon and all were greatly
rejoiced. The noon meal was prepared and I think my tin cup of coffee
was the best I ever drank.

The train moved on without incident until we reached a point on North
Platte some seventy-five miles above Fort Laramie, where a spur of the
mountain, or rather a very high bluff, prevented us from following
the river, as had been our purpose on this trip, and forced us across
ten miles or more of rocky, mountainous country. When I entered my
train upon that part of the journey I calculated there would be no
obstruction, as no emigrants were ahead that I had heard of, and I
knew no cattle trains were ahead of us. I rode in front always and
the lead cattle followed close to my horse's heels. Always the same
cattle, three or four in every herd, insisted on being in front, and
if left in the rear as the train started out in the morning, they
would crowd through the herd and be in front within an hour; then came
the whole drove and then the wagons, followed by the loose horses and
mules. Strung out in this fashion we started across this portion of
the road, which in many places permitted only one wagon and team and
not more than four cattle side by side. I led the long, winding string
to the top of a mountain, and from that point I could see a line of
dark objects a quarter of a mile long approaching us. I looked closely
and determined it was Indians, and passed word to that effect back
along the line. The men rushed to the wagons and got their guns, and
by the time they had returned to their places I had made out that the
Indians were moving and that we need not fear attack, as Indians never
fight when the squaws and pappooses are along, but I was surprised
at the little comfort I received out of that assurance. The puzzle
to me was how to meet and pass them without stampeding the cattle.
Cattle do not like Indians. They do not like their looks and they do
not like their smell, and it is hard work to get them to pass a band
of Indians on the broad prairie where they have plenty of room to
shy. To pass on this narrow road was out of the question. I stopped
to think and to look. Some distance ahead, but closer to us than the
Indians, I saw what appeared to be a cove or basin, almost completely
surrounded by high bluffs and opening upon the road. I rode hurriedly
forward, beckoning the men at the same time to push the cattle after
me. When I reached the mouth of the basin I stopped and turned the
cattle into it. Little more than half the herd had gone in when the
Indians came up. The cattle began to hoist their heads and shy, but
the Indians did not stop. I rode back a few paces and met them, bowed
and said "how-do" as friendly as I knew how, and made signs that I
wanted them to stop. They seemed not to understand until I pointed to
the cattle, still hoisting heads and tails, and when crowded forward,
jumping to the side and running into the basin. When they saw this
the whole train stopped. Our cattle and wagons and loose horses all
came up and turned in--the men standing along the roadside to see the
Indians pass in their turn. When everything was safely lodged in the
receptacle, which it seemed to me Providence had designed for just
such an emergency, I turned, took off my hat and bowed long and low
and rode aside. The Indians bowed in return and passed on. We stood
by the roadside and saw the whole caravan pass. There were probably
five or six hundred of them--a tribe of the Crows. The long tent poles
were tied one on each side of a pony, the ends dragging on the ground
behind with a platform or base joining them, on which the tents and
skins and such rude camp equipment as they had were piled. The shorter
tent poles were tied one on each side of a dog, with baskets resting
on the rear ends in which the pappooses were hauled or dragged along.
Everything turned loose--not a halter or strap on dog or pony--all
herded or driven like cattle. They were nearly an hour in passing us,
and the men who were on the plains for the first time thought it an
amusing experience. It required but a short time, after the movers had
passed, to get our cattle out and start them on the road again, and,
by night, we had passed over the mountains and were back on the river.
A double guard kept watch that night, as we feared a band of the bucks
that had passed us might come back and try to get some of our cattle,
but the moon shone very bright, and as our whole force had stood by
the roadside with guns across their saddles, they probably thought
such an attempt would be useless.

Our train moved on slowly, passed Independence Rock and over the
continental divide and down into Green River Valley. When we reached
Green River we rounded the cattle upon a sandbar and forced them all
into the water at once. They got to milling around and round and going
down the swift current, until we thought they would make the rest of
the journey by water, but they soon found the water too cold for their
enjoyment and headed for the farther shore. All got out but one.

We took Hedgepeth's cut-off and reached the head waters of Humboldt
without difficulty, thence down this river mile after mile, through
sage brush and grease wood and alkali shoe mouth deep. As the cattle
passed, a dense, black cloud rose above them, almost stifling men,
horses and cattle. At night the men were black as negroes and
complained of sore throat and sore lungs, but there was no escape.
Big Meadows, as I have heretofore described it, afforded a delightful
resting place just between the dense alkali and the sixty-mile
desert. But for this oasis, I may call it, where rest and food and
water could be had, it is doubtful if herds could have been taken
across the plains. Certainly a different trail would have been

With all our precautions the trip across the sixty-mile desert was a
very hard one. The weather was hot. Not a drop of water nor a blade of
grass for thirty hours. When the cattle caught sight of Carson River
late one afternoon they went wild. No power could hold them. They
ran headlong into the river and next morning five were dead. After
the long march across the sand and alkali, the trip up Carson River
and over the Sierre Nevada mountains was an easy one, and we made
it without difficulty. Going down the opposite side we had to pass
through great forests of pine timber, and the cattle, after being so
long upon the treeless plains, seemed not to understand this and gave
a great deal of trouble. One night we camped near Leake Springs in a
heavy body of pine, quieted the cattle and had them all lying down,
as we thought, for the night. Something frightened them, and away
they started, right across our camp and back toward the top of the
mountain. At the first sound of the stampede we jumped to our feet,
whooped and yelled, threw our blankets in their faces and tried in
every way to stop them, but they paid no attention and came crashing
on through the brush. We were compelled to get behind trees to protect
ourselves, and after the tornado of cattle had passed, gathered our
horses and took after them. They were all strung out on the road,
running as fast as they could, and we had to pass them by making our
poor jaded horses outrun them. It was no easy task, and the leaders of
the bolt for home were some fifteen miles away before we overtook and
passed them. It was almost daylight when we succeeded in doing this,
and it required most of next day to gather all of them up and get back
to camp. Not a man had a morsel to eat until we returned to camp. We
decided to keep moving slowly throughout the entire succeeding night,
as the best means of preventing another stampede and in order to get
out of the timbered mountains and into the valley where the cattle
were not so apt to get excited. Early next day we reached the valley
and stopped. Horses, men and cattle took a good rest. This stampede
jaded both horses and cattle more than crossing the sixty-mile desert,
hard as that was.

After a day's rest we pulled on and passed through the mining district
of Weaver Creek and American River, and reached Sacramento River at
Sacramento City, crossed the river on a ferry and camped for the
night on the farther bank. No guard out that night--the first in four
months--and the boys went up to see the sights of the town. Human
tongue can hardly tell the relief I felt when I could lie down and
sleep without fear of Indians or wolves or stampedes. A better set
of men than I had with me never crossed the plains, always ready for
duty and to help me out of trouble. It was about thirty miles out to
our ranch and I told the boys if they would go out with me I would
board them as long as they wanted to stay. About half of them went and
the others began to look about for themselves. It was an affectionate
farewell that took place between us, and in all the years that have
passed I have never seen many of those boys, but I shall never forget

We reached the ranch without difficulty and turned the cattle
loose. The poor things had been traveling so long and had become so
accustomed to it that we had to watch them every day for nearly a
month. They seemed to think they had to be moving, and after grazing
awhile in the morning would string out on any road or path they
could find and sometimes get miles away--the old leaders always
in front--before we would discover them. After awhile we got them
convinced that their journey had ended and that grass belly deep was a
reality which they might actually enjoy.


_Sojourn in California._

The fall of 1854 and the winter and spring of 1855 were not unlike
our previous winters in California. There was but little to do except
watch the cattle to keep them from straying. Hunting was about the
only diversion and game was still plentiful. Grass was abundant all
through the winter and the cattle fattened rapidly. During the spring
and summer months we marketed all that were in proper condition,
still receiving excellent prices. About the first of August brother
Zack and I rigged up our pack mules and started back to meet James
and Robert who had turned back the year before to gather up another
herd and bring it across the plains during the summer. We passed over
the mountains and reached the sixty-mile desert, which was about two
hundred and fifty miles back on the plains from our ranch. In all the
year we had heard nothing from home, and the only information we had
that they were on the road was the promise they made us as they left
our train the year before.

We camped just at the western edge of the desert and during the night
a train pulled in off the desert. We inquired of them next morning
whether they had seen or heard of Gibson's train. They said they had
passed it somewhere on Humboldt River, but could not give the exact
location. They also told us the Indians had killed one of the Gibson
boys. They did not know which one--had just heard of the circumstance
as they passed. This sad news was a great blow to us. We broke camp
hurriedly and started across the desert, weighed down by the sad
reflection that we would meet only one of our brothers--both equally
dear, not only from boyhood association and ties of kindred, but from
association in hardship across the dreary plains. We carried our
weight of sorrow all that day and all the following night, across
the barren sand, and at daylight we could barely make out Humboldt
Lake in the distance. Upon closer approach we saw a large herd of
cattle just being rounded up preparatory to the start across the
desert. We hurried forward, hoping it was the train we were looking
for, and yet fearing to know the truth of the rumor we had heard. A
few moments dispelled our doubts. It was Gibson's train and Brother
James was alone with his cattle and his men. Robert, our mother's
baby, seventeen years old, was the victim. Brother James, with tears
streaming down his sunburnt face, related to us the manner of his
death at the hands of treacherous Indians, and the train halted on the
threshold of the desert long enough for us to hear the story and dry
the tears from our eyes.

He said one day while on their journey over the mountains between Fort
Laramie and the higher waters of North Platte, and while the herd was
moving forward in order, he rode ahead to locate a camping place for
the night and left Robert in charge. He had been gone but a short time
when six Indians came up to the train and in their way inquired for
the captain. One of the men told them he was in the rear. They rode
back and when they reached the men in the rear turned their ponies
and rode along with the train some distance. Robert, who, though only
seventeen, had made four trips across the plains and understood the
Indians, told the boys to watch them as he thought they were up to
mischief. He feared they intended to get between the wagons, which
were traveling close up behind the cattle, and loose horses and
mules, which were in the extreme rear, and cut them off, so he dropped
back and motioned the men who were driving the horses and mules, to
close up and at the same time stopped the wagons. He had the stock
driven around the wagons, thus placing them between the cattle and the
wagons, leaving the wagons in the extreme rear. He then took his place
alongside the cattle. All this time the Indians had said nothing,
had simply followed along with the train. The show of authority was
what they were waiting for. They evidently could not believe the boy
they saw was in fact the captain. As soon as Robert took his place by
the side of the cattle three of the Indians rode up by his side and
began to jabber and make signs. The other three rode up behind him.
One of the three behind had an old army musket and while the three in
front engaged Robert the one with the gun rode up very close and shot
him in the back. He fell from his horse and was dead in an instant.
The Indians whirled and galloped away as fast as their ponies could
carry them. One of the boys rode forward to notify Brother James and
met him returning at full speed. He had heard the report of the gun
and knew by the sound that it was an Indian's gun, and that it meant
mischief of some kind. As soon as he returned to the train he mounted
ten men and armed them and started after the Indians. After following
about five miles he came in sight of them. About the same moment the
Indians spied him and laid whip to their ponies. They were making for
the mountains, but soon saw they would be overtaken and turned in the
direction of the river. A hot race followed with the white men gaining
all the time, but the Indians reached the river and plunged their
ponies in. They had hardly reached the farther shore when James and
his men were upon the bank. They fired at them but the distance was
too great for the shots to take effect. The party thought it unwise to
cross the river in pursuit, as it might be difficult to recross and
all this time the cattle and the train were insufficiently guarded, so
they turned and made their way back, conscious that had they overtaken
the Indians and slain them all such an act could not have restored
Robert to them, and their hearts would still have been heavy with
their loss.

When they returned to the train the boys had rounded up the cattle and
were standing guard over them and the dead body. Nothing could be done
but move on, but what was to be done with Robert's body? James said
to attempt a burial where the wolves and coyotes would dig the body
up was out of the question, and then he could not bear the idea of
leaving him alone on those desolate mountains. So he put the body in
one of the wagons and carried it forward two days journey, where they
came to a trading post on the upper crossing of North Platte kept by
an old Frenchman. There they procured a wagon box which they used for
a coffin and buried him the best they could and protected the grave
from wolves. James, learning that the Frenchman intended to go back
to St. Joseph in about two months, employed him to take the body back
with him and gave him an order for five hundred dollars in gold on
Robert Donnell. I may as well relate here that the Frenchman kept his
promise, brought the body back and got his money, and that Robert now
lies buried in the old family cemetery in Tremont Township. I learned
this on my return, and that mother identified the body by examining
the toes, one of which Robert had lost in an accident when quite a
little boy.

Although the story was a sad one and our hearts were very heavy, still
we could not tarry with our grief. The cattle must cross the desert
and reach food and water beyond. James asked if we had had breakfast.
I told him we had not--that we had traveled hard all night, but that
we had a camp outfit and would prepare something after the cattle
had started across the desert. When the train was under full way, we
stirred the coals of their camp fire, threw on some greasewood brush
and soon prepared bread and meat and coffee. The mules browsed on
grease wood and we rested a couple of hours and then started after
the train. All that day and all the next night--a steady drive, only
now and then an hour's halt for food for ourselves and rest for the
cattle. By eleven o'clock the following morning we were on Carson
River, and glad we were, too. Zack and I had crossed over, taking
twenty-four hours and back thirty hours--fifty-four hours without
sleep or rest except two hours at the end of our first journey. In all
my travels, and I look at it now after more than fifty years, with
the experiences of the Civil War intervening, I have never seen a
place so beautiful as Carson River and valley, not because it is more
picturesque or naturally more enchanting than many places I have seen,
but because it was so welcome with its cold mountain waters and fresh
green vegetation after our weary journeys across the barren desert,
and I never thought it more beautiful to behold than on this, my last

Men, cattle and horses all took a good long rest, but the train was
up and many miles on the road before Zack and I awoke and followed.
Two weeks more and the cattle were safe on the ranch and we were
off duty once more, and as events transpired, off the plains for all
time--after nearly seven years of almost constant hardship.

During the fall of 1855 and the spring of 1856 we marketed off the fat
cattle. Sold Graham and Henry of Georgetown five hundred head to be
delivered fifty head every two weeks. Georgetown was a mining camp one
hundred miles northeast of our ranch. Our cattle were scattered over
our own ranch and the ranches of Phillips, Wolfscale and Barker, and
were well mixed with their wild cattle and horses. It rained almost
constantly. The plains were boggy and the streams full of water. We
had no time to lose and were in the saddle almost day and night, if
not on the road to Georgetown, then rounding up and sorting out the
cattle. We delivered the first fifty head on the fifteenth day of
October and the last on the first of April, and were glad when our
task was over.

The summer following passed without event worthy of mention. In the
fall we sold Graham & Henry three hundred more cattle to be delivered
in the same manner as the first, and had much the same experience,
except that our work did not last so long.

In the fall of fifty-seven, we sold our fat cattle and dairy cows to
Miller & Lux, wholesale dealers in cattle in San Francisco. Delivery
there was not so difficult. Our ranch was but twenty miles from San
Francisco Bay, and after a drive to the shore of the bay the cattle
were shipped across to the city. In the spring of eighteen hundred and
fifty-eight, Brother Isaac withdrew from the business and returned to
Missouri. We gave him fourteen thousand dollars in gold and deeded
him sixty acres of land in Tremont Township, Buchanan County, for his
interest. We continued the business through the year 1859 as partners.
Brother William remained with us, but had his own cattle and kept
them on our ranch. Zack and I still had about one thousand head of
stock cattle, and during the year, we bought several lots both of
stock cattle and heifers. One bunch of a hundred heifers we turned
over to James Glenn and Barsh Kessler, Buchanan County boys, to keep
three years and breed for us, with the understanding they were to have
half of the increase as pay for their trouble. Another bunch of fifty
heifers was turned over to Perry Jones, another Buchanan County boy,
on the same terms.

Toward Christmas we heard that our mother had died. This left our old
father alone on the farm with the negroes, and we decided to leave our
cattle in the care of Jones, Glenn and Kessler and go back and visit
him. It was too late in the season to attempt the plains. The hot, dry
summer on the plains had parched and withered the scant vegetation
that had grown in the spring and early summer, and the excessive cold
and accumulations of snow in the higher altitudes, rendered a trip by
land almost impossible in winter, so, much as we disliked the trip
by water, we decided to make it. I will not attempt to relate the
incidents of this trip, as they were unimportant. There was, besides,
little to distinguish it from the first voyage over the same route,
which I have already described.

After reaching home we remained with our father until the first
of May, when the start back overland must be made. It was decided
that one of us must remain with father, and as Zack and I were in
partnership and William was alone in his business, the choice of
remaining at home lay between Zack and myself, as either of us could
easily care for our cattle. I gave the choice to Zack and he decided
he would go, and he and William, accordingly, rigged up our outfit and

I took charge of the farm at home and with the help of the negroes,
managed it through the season, and thus relieved father of all worry
and responsibility. He had his horse and buggy and a black boy to
care for it and drive him about the farm and over the neighborhood.
Everything moved along in the usual way and I had a pleasant and
restful summer--not so much restful from work, but restful compared
with the excitement and over-exertion incident to a journey with
cattle across the plains. I congratulated myself upon the choice Zack
had made and was preparing for a year or two more of peace and quiet,
but the death of my father the following fall left me alone with the
farm and negroes. I remained with them throughout the winter, lonely
and unpleasant as it was without my father, and planted and harvested
most of the crop in sixty-one under many trying conditions. Stirring
public events which began with the breaking out of the war interrupted
my farming operations, and my part in them will furnish the material
for several succeeding chapters.


_Beginning of the War._

Shortly after the beginning of the war, Elijah Gates organized a
company of southern boys, and most of my neighbors enlisted for six
months. They wanted me to join them, but I said "no." I had been in
camp for ten years and had some idea of the hardship of a soldier's
life. I knew my place there on the farm would give me a far better
opportunity to take the rest I felt to be so needful after my years of
activity on the plains and in camp, and I could not be easily induced
to leave it. Besides, I could not believe that a terrible war was upon
us, and for a long time I had great faith that wise counsel would
prevail and some reasonable adjustment be made of the differences
between the North and the South.

Gates' company and the regiment to which it had been assigned left
home with a great flying of colors, but notwithstanding my expressed
sympathy with the South, this did not tempt me and I remained at home
with my crop. I took no part in the wild talk that could be heard on
every hand and paid close attention to my own business, but I soon
found that I would not be permitted to live in peace. The Southern
boys had no sooner left for the front than the opposition began to
pour in around me. My sentiments were well known--in fact I had never
tried to conceal them, believing that a man in this country had a
right to his opinions, but no man could point to a hostile word
uttered by me. Notwithstanding this, those who were not willing to
allow me to hold my opinions in peace began to harass and threaten
me. I endured it until about the first of August, when I saddled
my horse, buckled my navies around me and started alone to join the
Southern army. I rode to Liberty where I expected to fall in with a
company that I had heard was being organized, but it had gone. I met
a man from St. Joseph by the name of Walter Scott, who was likewise
disappointed at arriving too late for the company, and he and I set
out together to join Price in Arkansas. We rode slowly along, stopping
at night at farm houses and talked little to anyone about our plans.
When within about ten miles of Springfield we stopped for the night
with a man who told us that Lyon's army was at Springfield and that
Price was camped at Wilson's Creek, about ten miles southwest of

I knew there was going to be a fight, and I slept little that night.
It came sooner than I expected, for about sun up next morning we heard
cannon off to the southwest. We sprang out of bed, and without waiting
for breakfast, saddled our horses and galloped away. I knew Gates'
company and my neighbors were in the fight and I wanted to help all
I could. We had no trouble finding the way as the cannon and muskets
were roaring like loud thunder and the smoke was boiling up out of the
valley like a black cloud. We guessed right that Lyon had advanced out
of Springfield and was between us and Price's army, but we hurried on
expecting to take care of that situation after getting closer to the
battle. When within a few miles of the battle ground the firing ceased
and shortly afterwards we saw Federal soldiers coming toward us. We
galloped away from the road and hid behind a cliff of rock and watched
them go by. They were completely disorganized. Every man was pulling
for Springfield in his own way, from five to fifty in a bunch, the
bunches from one to three hundred yards apart. Some had guns, some
had none. Some had hats, some were bare-headed. Every battery horse
carried two and some carried three--all hurrying on. We finally grew
tired, and at the first opportunity dashed across the road between
squads and made our way along a by-path toward the battlefield. We had
not gone far until we met wounded men trying also to make their way
back to Springfield. Some would walk a short distance and get sick
and lie down by the roadside and beg for water. Some would hobble on
in great misery, stopping now and then to rest. Others, and the more
fortunate it seemed to me, had crawled off in the brush and died.

In advancing we found it would be necessary to cross the main
battlefield in order to reach Price's camp which was located down on
the farther side of Wilson's Creek. Here we found the dead lying so
thick that we had to pick our way and then often had difficulty in
going forward without riding over a dead body.

We reached the camp and asked to be shown to Gates' company. All were
glad to see us and made many inquiries about home and families and
friends. They were just cooking breakfast. William Maupin apologized
for their late breakfast by saying that "Pap" Price had called upon
them very early to do a little piece of work and they had just
finished it and that had delayed their breakfast. I told them what I
had seen on the road down and up upon the battlefield, and asked how
their company had fared. They told me that one man, George Shultz, was
shot through the head the first round and that was the only loss their
company had sustained. This was the tenth day of August, 1861.

Next day I helped bury the dead Federal soldiers, and when this was
done Price moved his army up to Springfield, as the Union army had
in the meantime gone back to St. Louis. We remained there some two
or three weeks. During my stay, Mrs. Phelps, the wife of Colonel
Phelps, who commanded a regiment in Lyon's army at Wilson's Creek,
and who had gone with the army to St. Louis, called on General Price
for protection. She lived about two miles east of Springfield, and by
the way, if I remember correctly, General Lyon was buried out at her
place. Price sent Gates with his company, and as I had joined that
company, I went along. We remained there as long as Price was camped
in Springfield and took good care of her premises.

Price decided to go north and this greatly pleased the boys. He had
no army--just a lot of boys who furnished their own horses, guns,
ammunition and blankets and most of the time their own provisions. He
had little, or at least he didn't attempt to have much, discipline. We
elected our own lieutenant, captain and colonel by vote, and General
Price seemed entirely satisfied so long as we were all on hands when
there was any fighting to be done.

When we reached Little Osage River on our way north, Price went
into camp and next day sent Gates out on a scout. Gates went in the
direction of Fort Scott. We traveled about fifteen miles and came
within a short distance of the Fort where we found two soldiers
herding a drove of horses and mules on the grass. Lane was in Fort
Scott with a large force, but evidently he had no idea Price was
anywhere near for he had no pickets out. We made a run for the horses
and mules and took them and tried to get both men, but one of them
got away. We knew he would report and that would give us trouble.
If we could only have secured both men we could have had the entire
herd in our camp before Lane could have discovered that it was gone.
We determined to do our best and get away if possible. Each horse
and mule had a long rope attached to his neck which dragged along
behind and this gave us much trouble and prevented fast traveling, as
the horses stepped on the ropes and checked their speed. We got some
four or five miles away and when on top of a high hill we looked back
across the prairie and saw what appeared to be about two thousand
mounted soldiers coming in hot haste after us. Gates had but five
hundred men. The ground was hilly and Gates picked a few men and sent
them on with the horses. He then stopped half his men just over the
turn of the first hill, dismounted them and detailed every fourth man
to take the horses further down the slant and hold them. The remainder
lay flat down on the ground. The other half of his company he sent
over beyond the next hill with directions to follow the same course.
When our pursuers were a little more than half way up the hill coming
toward us, we arose and fired into them. Lane dismounted his men and
threw them in line of battle. By that time we were on our horses and
gone. They could not see that we were gone and approached the top of
the hill with great caution. This caused delay and that was what we
wanted. When they found we were gone they mounted and followed. When
about half way up the next hill the other half of our company gave
them another round and, as they feared we intended this time to make
a stand, they again dismounted and prepared to fight. They were again
disappointed. This was kept up for several miles. When we first saw
we were pursued a courier was sent to Price, but before Price could
rally his army and reach us Lane gave up the idea of recovering his
horses and went back to Fort Scott. We had one man wounded in the arm.

We all returned to camp on Little Osage and next morning broke camp
and started off as usual. I did not know the plan, but when Gates'
company was placed in front and led off over the same road we had
traveled the day before, I knew an attack on Fort Scott was in mind.
When about ten miles out we came to the top of a hill overlooking a
wooded valley with a small dry creek running through it. We could see
a long distance across the valley into the prairie hills beyond, but
could see no sign of soldiers. The whole force halted and Gates was
directed to go forward across the valley and through the timber, which
I judge was nearly a mile in width. We passed down the hill and went
very cautiously through the woods, but neither saw nor heard anything
to arouse suspicion. On reaching the farther side of the timber we
stopped and got off our horses to rest and allow them to graze. The
whole company was entirely off guard and the boys were talking and
laughing and having a good time, when suddenly cannon and muskets
began to roar behind us.

We soon saw what had happened. The Federal troops lay concealed in the
timber and on discovering that we were but an advance guard, allowed
us to pass, guessing aright that Price, after allowing us time to pass
through, would, if we were not molested, move his main force forward.
Price had followed us and the guns we heard were the beginning of the
attack upon him. In a moment every man was in the saddle. We dashed
back through the timber and found that Lane had advanced and attacked
Price in the open and while in the line of march. We could see some
confusion, and it took a good while to get the men up out of the line
of march and in a position to fight. Bledsoe's battery, however, was
in action and Lane's men charged and captured it, wounding Bledsoe.
Presently two regiments came up and recaptured the battery. By that
time a second battery had come up and opened fire. We were still in
the rear of Lane and in great danger from our own men. We picked a
time when everybody on both sides seemed to be engaged and started
around to the right of Lane and up the crest of a long ridge that led
to the top of the hill. When about half way to the top a company of
cavalry started up a little valley to our left to cut us off. We had
the best horses and a little the advantage in distance. Besides we
were going toward our own army and getting safer all the time, while
the company pursuing us was all the time getting closer to danger.
We hoped they would follow until a company of our men could cut in
between them and their main force, but they were too cautious for that
and abandoned the chase. We galloped around, reaching our forces just
as the fight was over.

When our whole force was brought up and placed in fighting line the
situation got too severe for an army with a good shelter behind it,
so Lane's men broke ranks and started for the timber. They made no
attempt to rally and come again, but went directly on to Fort Scott.
The road was dry and the dust fogged up through the timber like a
black cloud and made a good target for our batteries. Lane lost more
men and horses in the retreat through the timber than in the main
fight. Price crossed to the opposite side of the valley and camped
for the night. Next morning very early he sent a scouting party with
directions to ascertain as far as possible the probable strength
of the forces in Fort Scott. The party found the place completely
evacuated and so reported. Price made no attempt to follow, but
continued his journey to the north.


_The Battle of Lexington._

When within a few miles of Warrensburg, we learned that a portion of
Mulligan's force was camped there. We camped for the night and next
morning discovered that the detachment had gone during the night to
join the main force at Lexington. Gates was ordered to follow them. We
traveled all day on a forced march, and when within a short distance
of Lexington were fired upon from both sides of the road from behind
corn shocks. We hastily dismounted and commenced shooting at the corn
shocks. The firing from behind then soon ceased and the men hurried
away towards Lexington. We followed, but as we were then less than a
mile from the town we thought it unwise to go too close until our main
force came up.

Next day Price came up and made his headquarters in the fair ground
just south of town. We camped there three days picket-fighting but
getting ready all the time to attack Mulligan behind his breast-works.
We had to mold our bullets and make our cartridges and when sufficient
ammunition had been prepared we were ready. We marched up and were met
at the edge of the town where the fighting began. We marched down the
sidewalks on each side of the streets with a battery in the center of
the roadway. Mulligan's men fought well and kept the street full of
musket balls, but when the battery would belch out its grape shot they
had to go back. I well remember, that at every opportunity we would
jerk the picket fences down and go in behind the brick walls to shun
the bullets. When the end of the wall was reached we had to step out
on the sidewalk and face the music. They made a great effort to keep
us out of town before they went behind their breast-works, but they
had to go.

When Mulligan reached and went behind his fortifications we closed in
and surrounded him except upon the side next the river. Price sent
a regiment up the river and one down the river. They charged and
captured those portions of the breast-works which prevented us from
getting to the river front and thus in their rear. This was done late
in the evening and Gates' regiment lay on the hillside behind a plank
fence all night to prevent a recapture. They made several attempts
during the night but failed each time.

The warehouses were full of hemp bales, and next morning we got
them out and rolled them up the hill in front of us--two men to the
bale--both keeping well down behind it. When we got in sight of their
ditches we had a long line of hemp bales two deep in front of us, and
then the fight commenced in earnest. They shot small arms from their
ditches and cannon balls from their batteries. Sometimes a ball would
knock down one of our top bales, but it soon went back in place. We
brought our battery up behind the breastworks and by taking the top
bale off we made an excellent porthole for the muzzles of our guns.
The fight went on some two or three hours in this way. They in their
ditches and we crouched behind our hemp bales. Every time a man showed
his head half a dozen took a shot at him. They soon learned to keep
their heads down, but they would put their hats on gun sticks and hold
them up for us to shoot at, but we soon discovered this device and
wasted very few bullets afterwards.

If this situation continued it looked as if the siege might last a
month, so we decided to move closer. The top bales were pushed off and
rolled forward with two men lying nearly flat behind each bale. When
within forty yards of the trenches the front row halted and waited
for the rear line of bales to come up. It took but a moment to hoist
the one upon the other and thus we put our breastworks in much better
position. Our batteries came up with little trouble, as we covered the
opposite line so completely that no one dared to raise his head and
shoot. Their batteries were posted on an exposed hill some two hundred
yards away, but not a man was to be seen about them. Their gunners had
all gone to the trenches. Our only suffering was when moving our hemp
bales up the first time, and again when we advanced them the second
time, as at these times we were too busy to return the fire, but we
were well protected and lost very few men.

We lay in this position for three days. Mulligan's trench must have
been nearly two miles long. We had no idea what was going on at any
other point, but guessed the situation was very much the same along
the whole line. We could hear through the woods a single gun now and
then, reminding us more of a squirrel hunt than a battle. At the end
of three days Mulligan surrendered. We were glad to see the white
flag, not so much because it meant victory for us as because we were
hungry and tired.

Mulligan marched his men out and had them stack arms. Then we marched
them away from their arms and lined them up unarmed. Price took charge
and put a guard around them, and then paroled them and sent them home.
Some of them went back to Buchanan County where they told friends of
ours that Price had no privates in his army; that they saw nobody
under a lieutenant. They may have reached this conclusion from the
way all left the hemp bales and went up to see the surrender.

Price went back to Springfield and Gates and his company came home.
Billy Bridgeman, a nephew of mine who lived near Bigelow, in Holt
County, was with us and when we reached my home he wanted me to go
on with him to his home. It was a dangerous trip. St. Joe, Savannah,
Forest City and Oregon were full of soldiers. We left home in the
morning about daylight, passed up east and north of St. Joe, crossed
the Nodaway River just above its junction with the Missouri, hurried
across the main road between Oregon and Forest City, where we were
most apt to be discovered, and reached his home on Little Fork, about
night. We remained there about three days when some zealous female
patriot saw us and reported us. We learned that we had been reported
and kept a close watch all day and at night, feeling sure that the
Forest City company would try to capture us, we saddled our horses
and rode out away from home. It was bright moonlight, and when about
two miles from home we heard them coming and stopped in the shadow of
some trees. When they got within forty yards of us we fired into them
with our navies, and kept it up until we had emptied our six-shooters.
They whirled and ran back as fast as their horses could carry them.
We loaded our guns and followed. The first house they passed one man
jumped off his horse and left him standing in the road. We stopped at
the fence and called. A woman came out of the house. I asked her if
any soldiers had passed there. She said--I use her words just as she
uttered them: "Yes, they went down the road a few minutes ago like
the devil was after them." Billy and I did not know we had scared them

The fine mare Billy's father had given him hurt her foot in some way
and was limping badly, so he pulled off the saddle and bridle and
turned her loose. She started at once for home, and Billy saddled up
the horse that had been left and we started on. It was then midnight
and we had sixty miles before us. It was dangerous to ride in
daylight, but more dangerous to stop anywhere on the road as we had no
friends or acquaintances on the way. We could do nothing but go on and
take chances. When, early in the forenoon, we reached the ford of the
Nodaway on the old Hackberry road leading from Oregon to Savannah, we
met a man who told us that a regiment of soldiers had left Savannah
that morning for Oregon. We crossed the river and turned to the
right, leaving the main road and picking our way to the bluffs of the
Missouri and down along these bluffs to a point just above St. Joseph.
There we left the bluffs and went across the country to Garrettsburg
on Platte River and reached home just at night. I called our old black
woman out of the house and asked her if she had heard of any soldiers
in the neighborhood and if she thought it would be safe for us to stop
for supper. She said she had heard of no soldiers and she thought
there would be no danger, but that Brother Isaac and George Boyer were
up at Brother James' house waiting for us, so we rode on up there.

We watered and fed our tired and hungry horses and had a good
supper--the first mouthful since supper the night before--and all sat
down to rest and talk. The house was a large two-story frame building
fronting north, built upon a plan that was very popular in those
days. A wide hall into which the front door entered from a portico,
separated two large rooms--one on the right and the other on the left.
A long ell joined up to the west room or end and extended back to
the rear. A wide porch extended along the east side of the ell and
along the south side of the east room of the front or main part of
the building. A door in the rear of the front hall opened upon this
porch, while doors from each of the rooms in the ell also led out
upon the porch. We were all in the east front room with Brother James
and his family. Brother Isaac and I were talking over our business
affairs. Bridgeman had lain down upon a sofa and dropped off to sleep,
and Boyer and Brother James and his family were chatting pleasantly,
when a company of soldiers sneaked up and stationed themselves around
the house. After they were sufficiently posted the captain gave us
the first notice of their presence by calling out in a loud voice,
"Come out, men, and give yourselves up, you will not be hurt." We knew
by that call that a good strong force was outside and that trouble
was at hand. We hurriedly lowered the window shades and blew out the
light and remained perfectly still. The captain called again, urging
that we would be treated as prisoners of war if we would surrender.
We knew too well the value of such a promise made by the captain of a
self-appointed gang of would-be regulators, who did not know the duty
of captors toward their prisoners, and if they had known were not to
be trusted. Besides we had no notion of surrendering as long as our
ammunition held out.

When the captain found we were not to be coaxed out by his false and
flattering promises, he began to show his real intentions. He said,
"Come out! G-- d---- you, we have got you now." We still gave no
answer. Then he said if we did not come out he would burn the house
down over our heads. When that failed he called on us to send the
women and children out so he could burn the house. We accommodated
him that much and sent them out. I told them to go out at the front
door and to be sure and close it after them. When the women were gone
we opened the door and passed into the hall and then to the back or
south door, Bridgeman in front. He opened the door just enough to
peep out. He had a dragoon pistol in his right hand and a Colt's navy
in his left. When the door opened a man stepped up on the porch with
his bayonet fixed and told Billy to come on. Billy gave him an ounce
ball and he fell back off the porch. The fight was then on and had to
be finished. Just after Billy fired the shot he accidentally dropped
his navy from his left hand and it fell behind the door in the dark.
He stooped to feel for it and Brother Isaac asked, "Billy was that
you shot?" I told him that it was. He then said, "we must get out of
here now." With that, and before Billy found his gun, I jerked the
door wide open and went out. Brother Isaac followed me, Boyer next and
Billy last. There was no one to be seen but the dead man by the side
of the porch. The others had taken shelter behind the east end of the
house and the south end of the ell. I went south along the ell porch
and Isaac followed close behind me. When I got to the end of the porch
I jumped off and there I found about a dozen men lined up. They fired
at me but the blaze went over my head. I turned my face to them and
took a hand myself. By that time Brother Isaac was at my side, and,
although unaccustomed to warfare, he did good service. We opened fire
and they turned and ran. We followed them around the house and ran
them off the premises and out into the public road.

When Billy found his navy and came out, he saw men at the east end of
the house firing across at us from the rear so he ran down the porch
that led to that end of the house. Just as he reached the end of the
porch a man stepped from behind the house and raised his gun to shoot
at us. Quick as a flash Billy stuck the end of his navy within six
inches of the man's face and shot him in the mouth. The man dropped
down on the ground and bawled like a steer. At this the men farther
around in the chimney corner broke and ran and Billy followed. They
did not stop running and Billy did not stop shooting until they were
well off the premises.

Boyer who was the third man out of the house afterwards related his
experience to me. He jumped off the porch and ran out through the back
yard. He stumbled and fell over a bank of dirt that had been thrown
out of a well, but Brother Isaac and I were keeping all of them so
busy that no one seemed to notice him. He was up in a moment and going
again. When he got to the rear of the smoke house he ran over a man
who lay hid in the weeds. The fellow jumped up and ran and Boyer shot
at him, but both kept on running. Boyer reached a corn field and lay
hid the remainder of the night.

After the fight was over Billy, Brother Isaac and I went down into
the woods and sat for a long time talking it over. We had no idea how
many men were in the company, but were confident that it went away
somewhat smaller than when it came. They got our horses and saddles
and, as we had fired all the loads out of our pistols in the fight, we
had nothing but the clothes on our backs and our empty revolvers. We
didn't dare go back to the house, so, late in the night, we started
out first to replenish our ammunition. We stopped at Jack Elder's,
a mile to the west. He gave us powder and bullets, but he had no
caps. We then went over to Judge Pullins' who had a good supply and
furnished us plenty of them. After loading our guns we went north to
the home of Joe Evans. Evans was a lieutenant in the Southern army,
and his wife, who was Nelly Auxier, was at home with her children. We
had known her from childhood, so we went in and went to bed. Nelly
sat up the remainder of the night and kept watch. This was the first
sleep in nearly forty-eight hours. At seven she woke us for breakfast.
About ten o'clock Judge Pullins, who knew where we were, brought over
the morning St. Joe paper. It contained a long account of the fight,
and said that Penick's men had gone down into "the hackle" the night
before and killed two of the Gibson boys and captured the remainder of
the "gang." This was amusing news, and about as near the truth as most
reports of that kind.

Although it was dangerous for us to travel by daylight, we concluded
we might, with proper caution, get back over the ground and see for
ourselves what had been done. We kept well in the timber and reached
Brother James' house about noon. The house was considerably scratched
up by bullets and blood was strewn all around it. Four men had been
killed and five wounded. Harriet, our old negro woman, told us the
soldiers had first stopped at father's old place and inquired for us.
She started across the fields at once to notify us, but could not make
the half mile on foot in time and had reached only a safe distance
from the house when the fight began.

We remained in the neighborhood, hidden at first one place and then
another for several days. Brother Isaac, being rather too old to go in
the army left home and went to Illinois for safety, as he knew there
would be no peace for him after the fight, no matter how conservative
he had been in the past or how well behaved he might be in the future.
The unfortunate circumstance which, on account of his association with
us, had compelled him to fight for his life, had rendered his efforts
to remain at home out of the question. Billy and I, having lost our
horses, saddles and blankets, were compelled to remain, in spite of
the fact that soldiers were hunting us like hounds, until we could get
properly equipped to leave. We were not long in doing this, and then
we set out on horseback through a country patroled by many soldiers to
join our company at Springfield.


_Back to the South._

We left in the afternoon, and, taking byroads, passed Stephen
Bedford's and went on to Doc Brown's on Casteel Creek. We spent the
night there. Brown kept us up until midnight, asking questions about
our experiences at Wilson's Creek, Fort Scott and Lexington and about
the fight with Penick's men at Brother James' house. He had heard
the firing although eight miles away, and suspected that some of the
Gibson boys were in the fight. We started early next morning for
Clay County where my sister, Mrs. Harrison Wilson, lived. We reached
her home without difficulty and remained there over night. It was
about fifteen miles from her home to the Missouri River where we
expected to have trouble, as soldiers were on guard at every crossing
point between St. Joseph and the Mississippi. If we could not find a
ferry unguarded we expected to bind cottonwood logs together, get on
them and swim our horses alongside. This was disagreeable and very
dangerous and was not to be thought of so long as there was any chance
to cross on a ferry. We decided, therefore, to go to old Richfield and
try the ferry by fair means or foul. We reached the high bluff that
overlooks the town, about five o'clock in the afternoon, and looked
cautiously down. The soldiers were camped just below the town and the
ferry landing was a little above it. Everything was quiet--no soldiers
up in town or about the ferry landing that we could see. While we were
watching, the ferry boat crossed to this side and landed. We rode
quietly down the hill and on to the boat. Billy asked the ferryman
if he was going right back. He said no, that he made regular trips.
Billy asked how long before he would start. He said thirty minutes.
Billy told him we could not wait that long, and that he must go back
immediately. The ferryman looked up into Billy's face and said he
would wait for time. In an instant he found himself looking into the
muzzle of a Colt's navy. Billy told him to stand perfectly still if he
valued his life. I jumped off my horse and loosed the cable that held
the boat to shore. The current carried the boat out into the river
and Billy told the ferryman to take charge and set us over. He did it
without a word and we rode out in safety on the other shore. In all
that happened on the boat, not a loud word was spoken, and, so far as
I know, the soldiers did not even suspect our presence.

When we rode out on firm land on the southern side of the Missouri we
felt much safer, because the task we had most dreaded was over. We
passed about five miles into the country and put up for the night at a
farm house where we found seven or eight southern men all on their way
to the Confederate lines. Two of these were Confederate soldiers and
the remainder were old men leaving home for safety. The two soldiers
were John Culbertson of Buchanan County and Sol Starks of Clay County.
The next morning about nine o'clock, as we rode peacefully along,
two boys about twelve years of age came galloping toward us as fast
as their horses could carry them. We said nothing to them and they
said nothing to us, but I thought their conduct rather strange. In
a few minutes they passed back, still riding very fast. Starks and
I were riding in front and I told him I thought we had better stop
the boys and ask them what they were up to. We galloped after them
leaving the other men behind, and when we had overtaken them and
inquired the cause of their fast riding, they told us there was a
gang of "Jayhawkers" in the neighborhood and they (the boys) were
hiding their horses. While we were talking to the boys Starks left
his mule standing at the roadside and stepped aside. I also alighted
from my horse. There was a short curve in the road just in front of
us and while in the position I have described, Jennison's regiment
came dashing around the curve and right down upon us. Starks left his
mule standing in the road and ran for his life out through the timber.
I jumped on my horse and took the same course. They soon overtook
Starks and shot and killed him. A band of them followed me shooting
and calling "halt," but I only went the faster. I had gained a little
on them by the time I came to a rail fence. It looked like they had
me, but I had no idea of stopping. I threw off the top rail and made
my horse jump the fence into a cornfield. They were at the fence in a
moment firing and calling halt. I threw myself down on my horse's side
in cowboy fashion, hanging on by leg and arm and sent him at his best
speed down between two rows of corn. I soon came to a road where the
corn gatherers had been hauling out the corn, and finding this better
traveling and thinking it might lead to an outlet from the field I
took it. They were still following and shooting at me. The fence where
the road entered the field was up, but I had passed over one and could
pass another. I held a tight reign and forced my horse to take it. He
knocked off the top rail, but landed on his feet. Outside the field a
firm road led down a long slant directly away from my pursuers. This
gave me an advantage and I made good use of it. The soft ground of the
cornfield checked their speed and the fence halted them, I think, for
I never saw them any more. When my horse reached the bottom of the
slant and struck the level ground, the change of the surface threw
him headlong. I went sailing in the air over beyond him carrying the
bridle reins with me. Although terribly jolted I beat the horse up and
was on his back the moment he could stand. I took no time to throw
reins over his head, but with the rein swinging from my hand to the
bit I pushed him into the brush and a half mile farther on before

My poor horse was almost dead, but as I could hear no one following
me it looked like he had carried me to safety. I looked and listened
intently but could neither see nor hear anyone. I got off my horse
that he might get a better rest, as I did not know how soon he might
have to run again, and after the first few breaths of freedom, began
to think of my companions. As the main body of the regiment kept the
traveled road and only a detachment followed me, it was certain that
Billy and Culbertson and the old men would meet them. I feared for
the result--especially to the old men. Billy and Culbertson I thought
could likely take care of themselves. The point where I had stopped
was at the head of a long ravine, and while standing there I saw a
man approaching on horseback. I watched a moment and discovered that
it was Bridgeman. We were rejoiced to see each other. Billy asked
about Starks and I told him his fate. I asked how his party had fared.
He said when they saw the soldiers coming he and Culbertson were in
front. They fired at the soldiers and took to the brush. He had seen
none of his companions since. By chance Billy had taken the same
general direction that I had gone and that is how we happened to meet.
We thought it almost providential.

I heard afterwards, but I cannot say as to the truth of the report,
that the old gray haired men who were with us were all captured and
killed. Whatever may have been their fate, we could do nothing for
them against a regiment and counted ourselves more lucky than wise
that we escaped with our own lives.

Billy and I remained in seclusion most of the day and then, hearing
nothing of Culbertson and the old men, started on our journey. We rode
leisurely along and reached Springfield without further difficulty.
There we found Culbertson, waiting and looking for us. He was sly
as a red fox and as hard to catch. He had gotten away from Jennison
and had made better time to Springfield than we, and, as he knew our
destination, waited our coming as proof that we had not been caught.

General Price was in winter quarters. We remained with our company
a few weeks, and just before Christmas Billy and Jim Combs, his
brother-in-law, and I got permission to spend the holidays at Granby
with Jeff Whitney, Comb's step-father, who had formerly lived in Holt
County. While on this visit Whitney, who was a man of considerable
wealth, concluded he would move farther south in order to secure
better protection for his family and property, and asked us to
accompany him across the mountains as a guard. We consented to do it
and made the trip with him over land to Fort Smith, where Whitney,
after going just across the Arkansas line, erected a cabin in the
Cherokee Nation. We remained with him about a week assisting him to
get settled, when we got a letter from Colonel Gates informing us that
a strong army was approaching from St. Louis and calling us back to
our places in his company.

We set out for Springfield immediately and met our army as it
retreated to join Van Dorn at Fayetteville. I shall always remember
our meeting with this army. The ox teams were in front, four yoke
to each wagon, a long string of them, winding slowly down the road.
Then the mule teams, six mules to each wagon, many of them the same
mules we had captured at Fort Scott. Next a regiment of soldiers,
then General Price and his body guard, then the main body of the army
with Gates in the rear. The pursuing army was making forced marches
in an effort to bring on a general engagement before Price united
his forces with Van Dorn. We had hardly joined our company, when the
enemy, seeing that another day's march would place Price very close
to Van Dorn, sent two regiments of cavalry to attack our rear. The
first regiment came dashing upon us without warning, yelling and
shooting. Gates ordered his men to dismount and take to the brush.
They obeyed in an instant, leaving their horses in the road. The
horses, frightened by the attack from the rear, stampeded and dashed
forward upon the infantry. The attacking regiment followed, and before
they realized their peril were far in between two lines of hidden
Confederates who, protected by the brush, piled horses and soldiers
thick along the road. There were but few left to tell the tale. The
second regiment on discovering the situation of the first, failed to
follow. Price, on discovering that the attack had been made sent a
regiment of infantry back to support us, but when it arrived the work
had been done. We came out of the brush and followed the infantry,
still protecting the rear until our horses were sent back.

That was the last day of the retreat. Price took a stand at Cross
Hollow where Van Dorn joined him. The Union army stopped at Pea Ridge.
Both armies rested three days. On the night of the third day Price
broke camp and traveled all night. By daylight he was in the road
behind the enemy, and at sun up moved south toward their camp. We had
not gone far when we met fifteen or twenty government teams going on
a forage. They were greatly surprised, but grinned and said nothing.
Price put a guard over them and moved on. When he got in position on
the rear he fired a cannon as a signal to Van Dorn that all was ready.
The engagement soon opened front and rear. Price was successful on
his side, but Van Dorn was defeated. In less than an hour not a gun
could be heard along the whole south side of the army. The whole force
then turned upon Price and he was compelled to retreat. He went north
until he came to a road leading across the mountains to White River.
The Union forces did not follow and the retreat was made with little
difficulty. We had no baggage except the artillery and the teams
captured early in the morning. The roads, however, were very rough and
our progress was very slow. On the following morning while we were
toiling over the mountains, General Price rode by with his arm in a
sling. The boys cheered him until the mountains resounded for miles.
In a few days we were beyond danger of pursuit and made our way in
safety to Fort Smith.

From Fort Smith Price was ordered to Memphis. He started at once over
land to Des Arc on White River. From there we went to Memphis by
boat. After a short stay in Memphis, Brother James, who had returned
from California and joined the army, was sent back to Missouri as a
recruiting officer. Billy Bridgeman and I got leave to accompany him
and we all came together back as far as Des Arc. There Billy decided
to return to Memphis and go on with Price, while Brother James and I
came home on horse back. This is the last time I ever saw Bridgeman.


_Home for Recruits._

I do not recall the incidents of the trip home. I do not remember the
road or how we crossed the river or anything about it, though I have
tried very hard to recall them. I only know that we went from Des Arc
to Dover, Arkansas, and that somewhere on the road Henry Gibson and
Harold Shultz joined us and that we all reached home together. Henry
Gibson is dead. Schultz is insane and confined at State Hospital No.
2 at St. Joseph, and Brother James is in Idaho, so I have no way of
refreshing my memory, and as the trip, although it covered nearly four
hundred miles, was made forty-eight years ago, my foot steps have
grown cold. It is more than probable that a single hint would rescue
the entire journey and its incidents.

I recall events after we reached home with perfect distinctness. We
remained out in the brush most of the time. Brother James, at such
times as he could, met all those who wanted to join the army. Besides
the boys on the east side of Platte River, he enlisted John and Wash
Lynch, two of the Greenwood boys, Jack Smedley, Jim Reeves, William
and John Reynolds and Richard Miller from the west side. In all there
were some twenty-five or thirty. We secured a tent and pitched it in a
secret place in what was then and now sometimes called "the hackle,"
about a mile east of Garrettsburg. We had scant provisions, some
flour, sugar, coffee and bacon which we kept hanging in a tree. During
the day we managed to partly satisfy our hunger on this diet, but at
night we went out to see the girls and get good meals. In spite of the
constant fear of discovery, we had a good time. During all this time
the boys were collecting guns and ammunition. These they got wherever
they could. Most often from friends who gave or loaned them, but
sometimes from a straggling soldier or militia man who was caught away
from camp.

Everything was ready and the night fixed for our departure. Doc Watson
had informed us that there was a company of militia camped in his
yard about three miles distant from our camp, cooking, eating and
sleeping on his blue grass. Our plan was to march up near them during
the night and wake them at daybreak and bid them goodby. During the
entire time our camp remained there, we took no pains to conceal it
from the negroes, for the most of them--and we thought all--could be
trusted as far as our white friends. We made a mistake in one of them.
He turned traitor and told the company at Doc Watson's that about two
hundred "bush-whackers" were camped in the Hackle. They informed the
authorities at St. Joe and the night before we proposed to execute our
plans they marched two regiments--one infantry and one cavalry--down
close to our camp and next morning surprised us by calling about sun
up. It was clear they had a guide for they followed the trail through
the thick woods directly to the tent.

The tent was stretched in a little valley and over beyond a deep
gulch, so that it was impossible to approach nearer than fifty yards
of it on horseback. This was too close to be comfortable to the eight
men who were in it sound asleep. Without a moment's warning they fired
into it. The aim was high and not a man was hit. They jumped and ran
for their lives and all escaped. It was our good fortune that more
of the boys were not in the tent. As it was to be the last night at
home, most of the boys had gone to bid their friends goodby and had
remained with them for the night. Brother James and I had gone home
with Charley Pullins, who had joined our company, and, in place of
returning to the tent, we all took our blankets and slept in his rye

Early next morning we were awakened by the barking of Pullins' dog.
We jumped up and looked and listened. A regiment of infantry was
passing along the road. They had a six gun battery with them and I
could not mistake the creaking of the old truck-wheels. We picked
up our blankets and ran to the house and threw them in at the back
window, and then stepped around in front to watch them go by, some
two hundred yards distant. We had no idea they were after us with all
this equipment, but supposed they were simply marching from Easton
to St. Joe and had probably missed the road. We knew nothing of the
attack upon the tent, nor did we know that at that moment the cavalry
regiment had divided into squads and was galloping from house to house
all over the neighborhood, looking for the Gibson boys.

While we stood watching the procession pass we heard a rumbling noise
behind us, and back of the house. I turned and saw the cavalry coming
under lash. We ran for the front gate which led away from the infantry
that was passing. A few rods beyond the gate lay a heavy body of
timber and we made for it. As I went out I passed my fine saddle mare
grazing in the yard, and I threw the yard gate wide open. By this
time the soldiers had galloped around both sides of the house and
commenced firing at us. At the first shot my mare threw up her head
and tail and made for the gate. She was safe in the timber almost as
soon as we were. When we reached the timber bullets were flying after
us pretty thick, but I stopped and threw my double barrel shot gun
to my shoulder. Brother James called to me to save my loads, but as
we each had two six shooters and a double barrel shot gun, I thought
I could spare one load so I gave it to them. They, like all soldiers
at that time, were dreadfully afraid of the brush, and, whether it
was my shot or the fact that we had reached the timber, they stopped
firing and started around to the farther side of the woods. I lost
sight of Pullins and James, and when I saw the soldiers start around
the timber I ran back towards the house and into a cornfield on the
opposite side. When I reached the fence at the farther side of the
cornfield, I ran directly upon two of the infantry soldiers who had
apparently become lost from the regiment. They were as much, if not
more surprised than I was, for I had presence of mind enough to use
the remaining load in my shot gun and they tore through the brush like
wild deer.

I went up to the tent expecting to find the boys there. Instead, I
found the tent riddled with bullets and several old guns which the
soldiers had destroyed by hammering the barrels around a tree. I was,
of course, greatly surprised, but after looking over the situation
I was gratified at finding no evidence that any of our men had been
killed. I learned afterwards that but one man had been killed in the
whole raid. That man was George Reynolds. After the attack upon the
tent the soldiers rode over to Reynold's house and found him, an old
gray haired man, carrying a basket of corn to his hogs. They shot
him where he stood and rode off and left him for the women of his
family to bury, as the men in the community didn't dare come out of
the brush to their assistance. One man, Rich Miller, who knew of his
death, ventured out and helped bury him.

The raid scattered our little band of volunteers and all hope of
gathering them together was abandoned. On the evening after the raid
my saddle mare--the one I had let out through the gate at Pullins',
after remaining in the woods all day, came up to the gate at the
old home, as though she knew--and I believe she did--that it was
not safe for her to be seen on the road in daylight. During the
night that followed I located Brother James and he, Pullins and I
decided to go back into the Confederate lines. Within a day or two
we left expecting, as upon our preceding trip, to cross the river
at Richfield. We passed through old Haynesville on the line between
Clinton and Clay Counties, which was then a thriving village, but
which I am told is now abandoned as a town, and then on directly
toward the river. There was considerable Union sentiment about
Haynesville and some one there must have suspected our purpose and
informed a company of militia that happened to be in the neighborhood.
We rode leisurely along, not suspecting that we were being followed,
and, when we reached the home of Reuben J. Eastin, some six miles
south of Haynesville, stopped for dinner. Eastin was related to
Pullins and the family were all glad to see us, and invited us into
the house and the old gentleman directed his son to take our horses to
the barn and feed them. I told him we had better go to the brush and
feed our horses and have our meals sent to us. He said there was no
danger as there were no soldiers in the community.

We all pulled off our belts and threw them, with the navies in them
on a bed and prepared for dinner. As I stepped across the room to
a looking glass to comb my hair, I glanced out the door and saw a
company of militia coming up the road from the north under whip.
Brother and I sprang for our navies and buckled them around us and ran
out at the back door and into a corn field, which was on the south
side of the house. Pullins, who was not accustomed to warfare, was so
frightened that he forgot his guns. It was August and the weather was
very hot. We ran down between two rows of corn as fast as we could,
Pullins in front, Brother James behind him and I in the rear. I got
hot and called to them not to run so fast, but they did not hear me
and kept going. I stopped and sat down. I could then hear the horses
galloping around to the farther or south side of the field, so I
turned and ran east toward the main road which ran in front of the
house, and along the east side of the field. When I got to the fence
I looked both directions and saw no soldiers. They had evidently
anticipated that we would all make for the heavy timber which lay
south and west of the field, and had undertaken to head us off in that
direction. There was a woods pasture just across the road, with only
large trees in it, but I saw beyond the timber a thicket which seemed
to skirt a draw or gully and I made up my mind to cross the road and
take my chances. I remember thinking that if I should be discovered
while crossing the open pasture there would probably be no more than
four or five men in the squad and that I could get behind a big tree
and wait until they came close to me, when with my skill in the use of
the navy, I could protect myself against them. I jumped over the fence
and made good speed, taking no time to look back, until I reached the
thicket. Not a man of them saw me. They had left a gap open, and I
was out of the trap. I followed the brushy ravine some distance and
came to another cornfield. In passing through this field I came upon
a water melon patch, completely surrounded by the corn. I decided
this would be a good place to stop and wait for developments. I took
a big ripe melon out into the corn and proceeded to supply as much
as possible the dinner the soldiers had caused me to lose. I knew I
was safe, but I was not so sure about my companions. In a few minutes
I heard two pistol shots. They were from Brother James' navy. I had
heard the report too many times to be mistaken. This assured me that
he had not at that moment been captured. In about five minutes I heard
two musket shots, and this alarmed me. I felt perfectly sure if they
had fired at Brother James they had not harmed him and he had escaped
without returning the fire, but I could not be so sure about Pullins
as I knew he had no weapons with him. No further shots were fired.

I remained in the corn field until nearly night and then started for
the home of my sister, Mrs. Wilson, who lived about three miles north
and east. I reached her house about nine o'clock at night, but did
not go in. She brought food to me in the timber near by and remained
with me waiting and watching for Brother James and Pullins. We were
both very uneasy and greatly feared they had been captured. We knew
either or both of them, if alive and not captured, would come to
her house to find me before attempting to go on to the south. About
midnight Brother James came in. He knew nothing of Pullins. We watched
for him all night but he never came. Next morning Mrs. Wilson saddled
her horse and rode over to Eastin's to see if she could hear of him.
When she returned she told us they had captured Pullins and taken him
to Liberty. The last word Pullins' young wife had said to me as we
left home, was, "Take good care of Charley." There was little that
could be done for him now, but in the hope that we might be able to
do something, or that, as he was a perfectly innocent boy, making his
way south for safety, he would be paroled and released and allowed to
return to his home. We remained in the brush a week waiting for him.
During this time Brother James gave me a full account of his escape.

He said when he and Pullins reached the south side of the corn field
they could hear the horses coming and decided it would not be safe to
attempt to get out into the timber, so they put back into the field
and became separated. In a short time men were all around the field
and in the field riding through the tall corn. When James discovered
that men were in the field he crouched down beneath a bush and
remained perfectly quiet in order that he might hear the approach of
the horses through the rattling corn. He had remained in this position
but a short time when he saw a single horseman coming toward him. He
drew his navy and lay still. When the man got very close he arose and
shot him in the leg. He then shot his horse and ran. He could easily
have killed the man, but did not want to do it. At the sound of these
guns all the pursuers started in the direction of the supposed fight.
James heard them coming and decided to go back toward the house in
the hope of finding it unguarded. In that case he would secure his
horse. When he got to the fence near the barn he set his foot upon a
rail and raised his body to look. At that moment he saw two soldiers
on guard and they saw him. They raised their guns to fire, but James
threw up his hands and said, "Don't shoot." They thought he had
surrendered and dropped their guns. In the twinkle of an eye he fell
back off of the fence and put back into the heavy corn. The soldiers
both fired at him but he had the fence as a shield and their shots
were harmless. The guards then yelled, "Here he is," and the remainder
of the soldiers in the field and out supposing the musket shots had
killed one or more of us, all galloped for the barn. James heard them
going from all directions and kept close watch that none who were in
the field might come near enough to see him. When they were all well
on toward the barn he made quick time back through the field and into
the woods beyond. He had not gone far in the timber when he heard them
coming again, and, as he was almost worn out and feared he would not
be able to get out of reach of them he climbed a tree that had thick
foliage upon it and remained there the whole afternoon. He could hear
the soldiers riding around the field and through the corn and in the
timber near him. When night came they gave up the search, and James
climbed down and made his way to Mrs. Wilson's.

By the end of a week we had the full story of Pullins' fate. They had
taken him to Liberty and there pretended to try him, found him guilty,
but of what crime no record will ever show and no man will ever know,
sent him back to old man Eastin's, where he was shot by twelve men.
They then plundered Eastin's house, took his horses, harness and
wagons, bedding and table ware, provisions and everything movable and
moved him, a blind and helpless cripple, out of his house and under
the trees of his orchard, set fire to his house and burned it to the

We could do nothing but go on, so with sad hearts and without horses
or blankets, with nothing but our trusted navies and plenty of
ammunition, we skulked our way to old Richfield again, some fifteen
miles from Mrs. Wilson's. We reached the river just about dark and
lay in the bluffs all night, without food or shelter. Early in the
morning we ventured down to a house and asked for breakfast. We knew
by the way we were received that he was a southern man, but we were
too cautious to make our wishes known at once. By the time breakfast
was over we decided we could trust him, so we asked him if he knew
of any way we could get across the river. He told us there was a man
on the other side of the river who had a skiff and made a business
of setting southern men across, but he was very cautious and would
not come to this side except upon a signal. We then asked him if he
would assist us and he said he would, but we must be very careful to
evade the northern soldiers on guard and not let them see him as if
they suspected him they would probably kill him and burn his home. We
assured him that we were discreet, so he went with us. He took us a
short distance above Richfield and into a timbered bottom, and when
we got to the road which paralleled the river he told us to stop and
wait for him. He passed across the road and out into the willows that
grew between the road and the water. While we stood waiting a man and
woman approached through the timber from the west singing Dixie at the
top of their voices. We knew this was a ruse to deceive just such men
as ourselves. Federal soldiers were so near that no sincere southern
person would sing Dixie at the top of his voice within their hearing.
We ran back into the timber and lay down behind a log. The couple
passed, still singing, and went on toward the town. In a few minutes
our man came back. We left our hiding place and followed him to the
river. The man was there with his boat waiting for us. We jumped in.
Our friend shoved the boat from shore and put back into the willows.
Our boatman told us that soldiers both above and below the town had
been trying to get him to come across all morning, but they did not
know his signal and he would not come.

Our man in crossing towards us had taken a course which kept his boat
out of view, and as he went back he kept behind an island until well
toward his own shore and out of range. As the boat passed out from
behind the island they discovered us and commenced shooting, but we
were too far away to fear their bullets.

We landed safely and then, having passed over what was considered our
greatest difficulty, began to think about other troubles still ahead.
Independence was full of Federal soldiers. Lone Jack and Pleasant
Hill were no better. Roving bands of foragers and scouts kept the
country between closely patroled. We had but one hope and that was
that we might chance to fall in with Quantrell on one of his raids.
William Hill, a cousin of ours, lived near Pleasant Hill, and if we
could reach him, we felt sure he could tell us when Quantrell might
be expected in that locality. We left the river and walked cautiously
through timber and fields, stopping at farm houses for food only after
night, sleeping on the ground without blankets and finally reached
Hill's place. He was at heart a strong southern man, but had managed
to deceive the Union soldiers and his Union neighbors. We asked about
Quantrell. He informed us that some of his neighbors belonged to
Quantrell's band, and that Quantrell was at that time in camp about
three miles away. We did not know Quantrell nor any of his men and
asked Hill to go with us to the camp. He objected. Said that he had
acted the part of a northern man so completely that Quantrell had
threatened him, believing him to be in earnest. We told him if he went
with us he would have nothing to fear. He seemed not to understand
how this could be if we knew neither Quantrell nor his men. We then
explained that Jesse and Frank James were with Quantrell and that
they lived in Clay County near the home of our sister, and were well
acquainted with us by reputation.

Hill finally consented and saddled horses for all and took us to the
camp. He introduced us to Quantrell and then in turn we met Frank and
Jesse James, Cole Younger and his brothers and other leaders of the
company. We explained Hill's relation to us; that we had known him
from his birth in Tennessee and that he was with us at heart. They
told him to go home and fear nothing from them. Hill took his horses
and left well satisfied.

The whole company remained in camp some days, and during the time one
of Hill's neighbors gave Brother James a fine mare, bridle and saddle.
I have always thought that Hill furnished the money for this equipment
and gave it in the name of a trusted neighbor. It was not long until
a fine outfit was presented to me. I took it and said nothing. I
liked the horse, but did not like the saddle. It was an old dragoon
government saddle with brass mounted horns both before and behind.

About this time a detachment of Shelby's men came north on a scout.
Quantrell joined them and attacked Pleasant Hill and drove the Union
forces to Lone Jack. He followed and defeated them at Lone Jack and
drove them out of that section of the country.

We returned to Pleasant Hill and were received with great cordiality
by the people. The women baked cakes and pies and sent them into
camp, which were fully appreciated. At the pay office which had
been maintained by the Federal officers we found large quantities
of greenbacks of small denominations lying on desks and tables and
scattered upon the floor. It was counted of little value at that time
and in that community. One dollar of Confederate money was worth five
of the governments' greenbacks.

After a rest, the scouting parties that had joined Quantrell in the
attack upon Pleasant Hill and Lone Jack, started south. Quantrell
traveled with us about three days, and I seriously contemplated
joining that band and remaining in Missouri. I mentioned the matter to
Brother James and he discouraged the idea. He said winter was coming
on and the camp equipment was inadequate, besides he preferred that I
should go into the regular service. I took his advice, and have since
had many reasons to be thankful to him for it. We finally reached a
place in Arkansas called Horsehead, where winter quarters had been
established. At that time I did not belong to the army, as my term of
enlistment had expired, but at Horsehead I enlisted for three years,
or during the war. My horse, saddle and bridle belonged to me, hence
my enlistment was in the cavalry. During the early part of the winter
the officers decided that as horse feed was so scarce, the horses
should be sent into Texas to graze through the winter, promising that
each man's horse should be restored to him in the spring. I parted
with my horse reluctantly, but of course, after enlistment had to obey
orders. I never saw him again and when spring came I was compelled to
enter the infantry. Brother James and many others were in the same

We were assigned to a company of Missouri troops. Our captain's name
was Miller. His home was in northeast Missouri. Our first lieutenant's
name was Miller also, and his home was in Burr Oak Bottom, Kansas.

The first business in the spring was the guarding of the line across
Arkansas from Fort Smith to Helena. We had our portion and did our
work. Later General Holmes was given command and marched us across
the state and, I have always thought, very foolishly attacked the
fortifications at Helena. The river was full of gunboats and if he had
been successful he could not have held the place. He was repulsed,
however, and his troops badly cut up. The Missouri troops declared
they would serve no longer under Holmes. Whether for this or some
other reason, he was removed and command given to General Drayton.

I do not remember that Drayton did anything but keep us lying in camp,
drilling every day, with now and then a dress parade, with all the
women and children in the country invited to come and see us. This was
very distasteful to us. We felt that we were not there to be raced
around over the hot sand in the hot sun just to be looked at. Aside
from this we had a pretty good time cock-fighting, horse racing and
playing seven-up for tobacco.

General Price came back to us about Christmas and the Missouri boys
planned a great celebration. Christmas day about five hundred took
their guns and marched around to the headquarters of each colonel
and made him treat or take a bumping against a tree. We then marched
up to General Drayton's headquarters. His negro cooks and waiters
were getting supper. They were soon cleared away and the general was
called out. He backed up against a tree as though he expected to be
shot, but he soon found we were only bent upon a little fun. The boys
produced their fiddles and set to playing. Then they sang and danced
and now and then we fired a volley just to make the woods ring. The
General seemed to enjoy the fun and told the boys to play on the
bones. One quickly replied that we had been playing on bones all
winter and pretty dry bones, too. The General saw the joke and smiled

We next moved up and took possession of a six-gun battery. The muskets
were not noisy enough. The first round brought Drayton. He ordered us
to stop, but we told him it was Christmas and paid no attention to
him. He sent for General Price, and as the General and his body guard
rode up we ceased firing and set to waving hats and cheering. "Pap,"
as we called General Price, told us we could have our Christmas fun
but we must not disturb the battery. That was enough. We always did
what "Pap" told us to do. If he said fight we fought, and when he said
run we ran.

It was too early to stop the fun, so we decided to go over and see
the Arkansas boys who were camped about two miles away. We found
on arriving that the boys who wore straps on their shoulders had
organized a dance in a big tent and invited the girls for miles
around. The dance was in full swing. The guards around the tent halted
us and asked if we had a pass. We said "Yes, this is Christmas," and
passed on. We made no noise or disturbance, but walked quietly up
around the tent, and each man cut himself a window so he could look
in on the scene. The shoulder straps were furious and came swarming
out like hornets. We laughed at them and told them to go on with the
dance, but they would not do it and sent for General Price. We learned
this and started back, and met the General going toward the Arkansas
camp and cheered him wildly. He passed on and said nothing, though I
am sure he knew we were the boys he was after. We went into camp and
nothing was ever said about our frolic.


_War in Arkansas._

Some time early in the year 1863, Price moved his forces to Little
Rock. The Federal forces under General Steele approached from
Springfield, and Price began preparations to receive them. His army
was much inferior to the attacking force and every precaution was
taken to give us the advantage. We crossed to the north side of the
river from Little Rock and dug a trench in the shape of a rainbow
touching the river above and below the town and more than a mile in
length. The enemy approached within two miles of our trench and halted
and remained in that position nearly a week. We had little rest during
that time. The drum tapped every morning at four o'clock and we had to
crawl out and fall into our ditch, where we remained until the danger
of an early morning attack was over and then got out for breakfast.

On the seventh day, if I remember correctly, the Federals broke camp
and marched ten miles down the river and commenced building a pontoon
bridge. Price sent his cavalry and artillery down to visit them, but
the fire was not heavy enough and the bridge was built in spite of
their best efforts. We were called out of our trenches in the meantime
and taken across the river on a foot bridge built upon small boats.
When we reached Little Rock I was surprised to find everything gone.
Ox teams and mule teams were strung out for miles hauling our freight
and army supplies. We marched behind with orders to protect the train
and I thought we would certainly be attacked, but we were not. Steele
made Little Rock his headquarters for the summer.

About fifty miles south of Little Rock we went into camp. At that time
I belonged to Clark's brigade. Mercer was our Colonel, Gaines our
major and Miller our captain. Clark's division was ordered to go down
on the Mississippi River below the mouth of the Arkansas and destroy
steam boats that were carrying supplies from St. Louis to Vicksburg.
The siege was going on at that time, and the Federal troops were being
supplied with provision largely by way of the river. There were two
regiments in the division and we had with us a six gun battery. We
reached the river and concealed ourselves at a point where the current
approached close to the west bank, judging, by the low stage of the
river, that the boats would be compelled to follow the current. We
had not been in hiding very long until we saw seven boats steaming
their way down the river with a small gunboat trailing along behind as
guard or convoy. When the foremost boat reached a point near the shore
and directly opposite us, it was halted and ordered ashore. There
were soldiers on the boat and they ran out on deck and fired at us.
We returned the fire and cleared the deck the first round. The next
round was from our battery. The range was easy and one ball struck her
boilers. The hot water and steam flew in every direction. She headed
for the farther shore and drifted on a sand bar. The soldiers leaped
from the boat and swam for their lives.

The six other boats received very much the same treatment. They were
all disabled and sunk or drifted helplessly down the river. The little
gunboat was helpless also. When the attack began it was under a bank
and had to steam back up the river before it could get in range to
shoot at us. When the little bull dog got back in range it threw shot
and shell into the timber like a hail storm, but our work had been
done and we were out and gone. The volley fired from the deck of the
first boat wounded one man, John Harper, in the knee. That was our
only damage.

We then went some fifteen miles farther down and from the levee
crippled two more transports. From there we followed the levee until
we could hear the big guns at Vicksburg. That was July 3d, 1863. Next
day about noon the heavy artillery ceased and we soon learned that
Pemberton had surrendered. On July 5th cavalry sent across the river
from Vicksburg were scouring the Arkansas side of the river, looking
for "bushwhackers who had cannon with them." We fled back into the
pine knobs and escaped easily.

I have been unable to recall further active service in 1863. We
remained inactive and in camp most of the time and the monotonous life
failed to impress its small events upon my memory.

Active operations in 1864 began, as well as I recall, about the first
of March, when Steele left his station at Little Rock and started for
Shreveport. We understood that his army numbered forty thousand men.
It was certainly much larger than Price's army. As soon as it was
learned that Steele had started south Price broke camp and set out to
meet him, not with the idea of entering into an engagement, but for
the purpose of harassing and delaying him. I do not remember where
the two armies first came in contact with each other, but I recall
distinctly the weeks of scouting, marching here and there, skirmishing
now and then with detachments of Steele's army, and retreating when
reinforcements appeared. The infantry kept always in front, resisting
progress at every point, while the cavalry under Marmaduke and Shelby
went to the rear and threatened the long train of supplies. They made
dashing attacks upon the line at every available point, fighting only
long enough to force Steele to prepare for battle and then rapidly
retreating. In this way Steele's men were kept on the run, forward to
fight the infantry and backward to resist the cavalry. At night our
men would frequently push a battery up near his camp and throw shells
in upon him all night. I do not know how fast Steele traveled, but he
must have considered five miles a day good progress.

During this time Banks was approaching Shreveport up Red River with
sixty thousand men, and the object was to prevent a union of these
forces. Eight gunboats were also making their way up the river.

General Dick Taylor had about ten thousand Texas and Louisiana troops
and he was resisting the approach of Banks. As I remember it, Taylor
had risked several engagements with Banks, but had been compelled to
fall back each time. Finally he sent to Price for help. Price decided
to employ his cavalry upon Steele so he sent his infantry, about five
thousand, to Taylor. That included me, as my horse had never been
brought back from pasture in Texas.

We made a forced march of one hundred and fifty miles to Shreveport,
and then hurried down Red River to Sabine Cross Roads. We joined
Taylor and on the eighth day of April attacked Banks and defeated
him. He retreated to Pleasant Hill. After the battle we took a few
hours' rest, and when night came Taylor ordered us to cook one day's
rations ahead. About nine o'clock we were ordered out and placed like
blood hounds upon Banks' tracks. They were easy to follow. The tracks
were fresh, blood was plentiful and dead and wounded negroes lay now
and then alongside the road. We marched all night and until twelve
o'clock next day. About that hour we came to a small stream about two
miles from Pleasant Hill. There we stopped and had a drink and ate a

About two o'clock in the afternoon we were thrown into battle
line and ordered to march on to Pleasant Hill. Banks had received
reinforcements and was waiting for us. We passed through a body of
timber and there encountered the Zouaves who were hid behind trees.
One of them shot and killed our cook, Al St. John, who was from
Platte County, Missouri. This was a bad start for us, but we routed
the Zouaves and marched on through the timber to an open cotton field
which lay between us and Pleasant Hill. When we passed out of the
timber we could see the town and Banks' army lying in gullies and
behind fences waiting for us.

When we got within range firing began. I do not remember which side
opened, but I know the fight was open and in earnest. Our line was
about a mile long and for a time each side stood firm. Directly I
heard a yell up at the north end of our line. It was too indistinct
to be understood and for a time I did not comprehend it, but it came
closer and closer by regiments one after the other until our regiment
was ordered to charge. Then we took up the yell and dashed forward.
The yell passed on down the line until our whole force was on the
move. We routed the enemy and drove them back into the city where
some of them crept under old out houses to escape the bayonet. Then
our line came to a stop. Their reinforcements came in from the rear
with a yell and went after us. It looked like the whole sixty thousand
had suddenly sprung from the earth. We thought we had gained a great
victory when really we had only driven in the pickets. As they came
the yell went up on the other side. We stood right there and tried to
whip the whole army. We stopped the yell but had to go. As we turned
to go back I saw a battery horse running across the battle ground with
his harness on and his entrails dragging the ground. Several other
horses were running with saddles on their sides, showing their riders
had been shot and in falling had turned the saddles. Those horses were
all killed by bullets from one side or the other before they got off
the battlefield.

We fell back about two hundred yards and rallied and made a second
attack. By that time Banks was moving away from us. When the guns
ceased sufficiently to enable me to hear the report of my own gun, I
could hear also Banks' baggage and trap wagons rattling and banging
out of Pleasant Hill. They went like a cyclone and that ended the
bloody battle. We marched back two miles to the little creek where
we had stopped at noon for lunch and camped for the night. Next
morning Taylor's cavalry started in pursuit and saw Banks safely
back to New Orleans. There Banks lost his job. At the same time the
cavalry started in pursuit of Banks, the infantry began a forced
march to Shreveport to meet Price and Steele. When we reached
Shreveport neither Price nor Steele had arrived and we did not halt,
but continued on toward Little Rock. About forty miles back on the
road we came upon Price camped by the roadside, with Steele penned
up in Camden, a town on the Ouachita River. Steele had gone into an
evacuated Confederate fort to allow his army to rest, and Price had
surrounded him except upon the side next the river. It was about two
o'clock in the afternoon when our forces joined Price. The boys were
all well and in fine spirits and had many things to tell us and
were greatly interested in our experience on the Mississippi and at
Pleasant Hill.

About five o'clock in the afternoon Price rolled two guns up on a hill
and fired a few shots into Steele's camp, but got no answer. He ceased
firing and nothing more was done that night. Next morning Steele and
his whole army were gone, and the bridge across the river was burned.
A temporary bridge was hurriedly built and the infantry crossed and
started in pursuit. We followed all day and all night and overtook
them about ten o'clock the following morning. I understood that our
cavalry had followed by forced marches also and had gone ahead of
Steele. At any rate, Steele, in place of following the main road,
switched off and went about three miles down into the Saline River
bottom. The river was very high and all the sloughs and ditches were
full of water. When we came up Steele was throwing his pontoon bridge
over the river and his forces were digging ditches and felling trees
to keep us back until they could get across.

Marmaduke made the first attack, as I remember, and charged the
rude breast-works. He drove the troops behind them back into the
level bottom and there the Arkansas infantry was set to work. They
forced the line gradually back toward the river, and after an hour's
fighting we were sent to relieve them. Our attack began about twelve
o'clock in a pouring rain. They would make desperate stands behind
rail fences and in clumps of timber and we sometimes had hard work
to dislodge them. When driven from one point they would immediately
take up another. This would force us to maneuver through the mud and
water to get at them again. The last strong resistance was made about
four o'clock in the afternoon. The forces fighting us had managed to
get into a body of timber on the north side of an open cotton field.
A high rail fence separated the field from the timber and this fence
made excellent breast works. In charging we were compelled to cross
the field exposed to their fire. We made a run and when about half
across the bullets came so thick we could go no further. We were
ordered to lie down. Every man dropped on his face with his head
toward the enemy. Lying in this position we fired upon them and turned
upon our backs to reload. We fought in this fashion until Taylor's
infantry relieved us.

When Taylor's fresh troops dashed over us with a yell the forces
behind the fence wavered and finally ran, but it was then about time
for them to run. They had held us until most of the army had crossed
the river. They then made their escape and cut the pontoon bridge
behind them. We secured most of their heavy guns as they had to keep
them back to use on us. The battle was ended and I was glad of it. I
never passed a more dreadful day. With rain pouring down from above,
with sloughs waist deep to wade, and with mud ankle deep over the
whole battle field our condition may be easily imagined. Besides
this we were black as negroes when we went into camp. In biting off
the ends of our paper cartridges the loose powder would stick to our
wet faces and become smeared over them. Our gun sticks were black
with exploded powder, and in handling them with wet hands we became
completely covered with grime. I shall never forget the sorry looking,
miserable, muddy, rain soaked and bedraggled soldiers that came into
camp that night.

We were not the only men who suffered that day. While we were lying
on the field, Price ordered a battery to our assistance. The captain
pulled his battery down the road and ran into a negro regiment
concealed in the timber. The battery boys dismounted and were getting
ready for business when the negroes charged and captured the battery.
About half the company swam a slough and got away. The other half were
taken prisoners. They had no sooner laid down their arms than the
negroes shot and killed them all. As we lay upon the field we could
see and hear but little, but this massacre occurred in plain view from
where we lay. As soon as we were relieved a portion of our forces
immediately attacked the negro regiment and without mercy killed and
wounded about half of them and recaptured the guns; but the negroes
had shot the horses and that rendered the guns useless.

Next day I was detailed to help bury the dead. Several large wagons
were provided with six mules and a driver to each wagon. Four men to
each wagon loaded the bodies in. The end gate was taken out of the
bed. Two men stood on each side of a body. One on each side held an
arm and one each side a leg. The second swing the body went in head
foremost. When the wagon was full it was driven off to where another
squad had prepared a long trench into which the bodies were thrown and
covered up. It required most of the day to complete our work.

The wounded were removed from the field and cared for temporarily as
they fell. The flight of the Federal forces made it impossible for
them to care for their wounded immediately, so they were taken up by
our men and given such attention as we could give them.

Next day was the doctors' day. I was ordered to go along and assist.
Three doctors went together, and over each wounded man they held a
consultation. If two of them said amputate, it was done at once. When
they came to a man with a wound on his head they would smile and say,
"We had better not amputate in this case." It seemed to me they made
many useless amputations.

One doctor carried a knife with a long thin blade. He would draw this
around the limb and cut the flesh to the bone. The second had a saw
with which he sawed the bone. The third had a pair of forceps with
which he clasped the blood vessels, and a needle with which he sewed
the skin over the wound.

The first man I saw them work upon was a Union soldier. All three
said his leg must come off. They began administering chloroform, but
he was a very hard subject and fought it bitterly. They asked me to
hold his head, and I did so. As soon as he was quiet they went to work
on him. When I saw how they cut and slashed I let his head loose. I
thought if he wanted to wake up and fight them he should have a fair
chance. I told the doctors that I did not go to war to hold men while
they butchered them; that I had done all to that man that my contract
called for and that I thought he was well paid for his trip. I was in
real earnest about it, but the doctors laughed at me and said they
would soon teach me to be a surgeon.


_Back Into Missouri._

I have no distinct recollection of leaving the camp on Saline River,
nor do I recall the military operations that followed the battle
I have just described. I know that Steele went on south and that
Price did not follow him. Steele and Banks were both well out of the
country, and it is probable that we passed a few weeks of idleness and
inactivity. At all events, my memory, upon which I depend entirely,
fails to account for the events immediately following the experience
I have related, and my next vivid recollection begins at White River,
where we were swimming our horses across on our march back into
Missouri. Price, Shelby and Marmaduke were all together. We passed
through Dover, a little town where John H. Bennett, a cousin of mine,
who was captain of one of our companies, lived and thence on to

There we found about two thousand government troops, well fortified
just north of town, in a little valley at the foot of a mountain. They
came out and met us two miles from Ironton where we had a skirmish and
they went back into their den. We marched into town and camped. It was
reported among the soldiers that Price was having ladders made with
which to scale the walls, but I did not believe it. Such an attack
would have been successful in all probability, but it would have cost
Price many men and I was sure he had none to spare. Toward night he
had two field pieces rolled up on top of the mountain by hand and
began to drop shells into their camp. They had neglected to fortify
the heavens above them and Price was taking advantage of their
neglect. When a shell dropped into camp you could see them running
away in every direction looking for a place to hide.

Some time in the night they broke through our picket line and marched
ten miles to a railroad station where they were loaded upon flat
cars and taken to St. Louis. Price continued on toward St. Louis and
greatly alarmed that city. Troops were hurried from east and west to
its defense, but Price had no such plan. His sole idea was to threaten
and draw troops from other places to its protection.

On the way up from Ironton we captured two or three hundred militia
at every county seat. For all that could be guessed from his actions,
Price intended to march directly into Jefferson City, but shortly
before he reached there he turned to the west and went to Boonville.
There he captured quite a large force of Federal troops and a steam
ferry boat. Marmaduke with his brigade crossed the river and marched
up the north side toward Glasgow, while Price and Shelby kept to the
south side. Price put a guard on the boat and compelled the crew to
run it up the river in conjunction with his forces. At Glasgow we
captured something like a thousand troops. Marmaduke then recrossed
the river and joined Price.

At Glasgow Lieutenant Evans got permission for himself and twenty-five
men to return to Buchanan County to see their friends. I was one of
the twenty-five. From Glasgow we went to Keytesville where we met
Bill Anderson, the noted "Bushwhacker," with about one hundred men.
Anderson and his men accompanied us to Brunswick, where we learned
that there were about three hundred militia at Carrollton. Anderson
said they were dreadfully afraid of "bushwhackers," and that he
believed the twenty-five of us could run them out of town, but he
sent fifteen of his men with us. We left Brunswick in the night and
at four o'clock next morning were a mile north of Carrollton. There
we stopped to wait for daylight. When it began to grow light we all
rode together until we encountered the pickets. As soon as they saw
us they turned and galloped into town as fast as their horses could
carry them without firing a shot. This enabled us to get into the town
before any alarm was given, as our horses were as fast as those ridden
by the pickets. We rode in with a whoop and a yell, dismounted and
got behind a fence. The fifteen bushwhackers ran around to the west
side of town in plain view of the militia camp and commenced firing.
Lieutenant Evans sent a man asking them to surrender. The colonel
asked who the attacking force was. The man told him it was Jo Shelby.
The colonel sent word back that he would surrender in one hour. Evans
returned the messenger with directions to the Colonel that if he did
not surrender in five minutes he would open the artillery upon him.
The colonel decided to surrender and marched his men out into an open
place and had them stack arms and march away to a safe distance. We
closed in and immediately took possession of the arms and marched the
Federals into the court house and locked them up. They had surrendered
believing we were merely the detachment detailed to come and receive
the surrender and were greatly chagrined when they found that we
constituted the entire force that had attacked them. It was all over
by six o'clock in the morning.

We cooked our breakfast upon their fires and out of their provisions.
The town took a holiday, as it was strongly southern in sentiment,
and so did we. In the afternoon we engaged all the barbers in town,
and as we were coming back home to see our girls we had considerable
shopping to do.

The ferry boat, still under order of General Price, had come up the
river and we sent a messenger down to stop it, and late in the evening
marched our prisoners down and loaded them on. We also hauled along
all the provisions, guns and equipment and sent the whole across to

Anderson's men left us and returned to Brunswick, and we camped for
the night on Waukenda Creek, two miles west of Carrollton. Early next
morning we moved on and by noon were in the hills north of Richmond
and at night were in camp at Watkins' woolen mills in Clay County, two
miles east of the home of my sister, whom I have frequently mentioned.
Watkins gave us a cordial welcome, dressed a shoat and a sheep and
brought them out to us and otherwise showed us many kindnesses. Next
day we visited Mrs. Wilson and the following day completed our journey
and camped in the brush in Tremont Township.

Everything seemed quiet, but we observed great discretion and did not
venture from camp in the daytime. After remaining on the east side
of Platte for about ten days without being molested, we crossed the
river and camped in the hills along Pigeon Creek. Wall Brinton, Harvey
and Bennett Reece, George Berryhill, and Joe, Bill and John Evans,
boys in our party, all lived on that side of the river. Our camp
remained there some two weeks without being molested. During the time
we captured three soldiers a few miles west of Agency. They were on
picket, sent out from St. Joseph, and in patroling the road came very
close to our camp. As we did not need any pickets we took them in.
One of them volunteered to join us, and as we knew him we allowed him
to do so and to keep his gun. The other two were kept prisoners and
their guns given to Bennett Reece and Harvey McCanse, two recruits,
who had joined us.

Shortly after this our camp was moved back to the east side of the
Platte and located in the bluffs near the home of Joab Shultz. Here
we remained in seclusion, keeping the captured pickets as prisoners
to prevent them from returning to St. Joseph and disclosing that we
were in the country. We had little difficulty in keeping our presence
from the knowledge of Penick and his men, as most of the residents
of the community were our friends. Bad luck, however, befell us.
John Utz and Billy Jones, hearing that we were at home and desiring
to go south with us on our return, came to my old home to ascertain
our whereabouts. My sister, who lived on the place, would tell them
nothing but referred them to James Jeffreys. Instead of going to James
Jeffreys, they went to George Jeffreys, a strong Union man, and asked
him if he knew where Gibson and Brinton were. Jeffreys replied that he
did not know they were in the country. Jones said, "Yes, they are here
with twenty-five or thirty men." Failing to learn of us from Jeffreys
they returned to the home of my sister, where, during their absence,
Cousin Margaret Gibson had arrived, and as she knew Utz and Jones,
told them how to find us.

George Jeffreys, that "good Union man," lost no time in communicating
with Penick, for next day all roads were full of soldiers. Cousin
Margaret Gibson came running to our camp and told us the soldiers
were looking for us. We released our prisoners and started. When well
out on the road we agreed upon a meeting place and separated, thus
leaving each man to look out for himself and at the same time taking
responsibility for any one else off of each man. This was thought to
be wise, as our little band was no match for the enemy, but the enemy
were not acquainted with the by paths through the woods and brush, and
by going singly we were at liberty to dodge to better advantage. Jones
and Utz came to join us shortly after we broke camp, and undertook to
follow. Penick's men caught them and made them prisoners.

Every man showed up at the meeting place a mile below Agency. There we
crossed to the west side of the river and stopped for a hasty lunch
and to see if we were being followed. Seeing nothing of the enemy
we concluded they had taken another course and that we were safe in
remaining in the neighborhood over night. In the afternoon we procured
flour and bacon from Jim Patee, where we were all given a square meal,
after which we went to old man Reece's for the night in order that the
Reece boys might say farewell to their father and mother.

In the morning early we started, crossing the Pigeon Creek hills and
making our way south. At Isaac Farris' blacksmith shop we stopped and
got horse-shoe nails and a shoeing hammer. I shall never forget also
that Mr. Farris brought out a stack of pies which seemed to me to be
a foot high. Although I had been at home a month where I had feasted
bountifully, pies still tasted good. I had lived on hard tack or worse
so long that I felt I could never again satisfy my appetite with good
things to eat.

We next stopped at the home of Pleas Yates, where we found Captain
Reynolds, an officer in Penick's regiment. He had left his company
and was visiting his family. He had been very active against the
southern people in the community and, as we believed, justly deserved
their censure, if the word hatred would not better describe their
sentiments. As we rode up Reynolds came to the door, the ivory shining
on the pistols in his belt. He seemed to think we were his own men.
Lieutenant Evans ordered four men, myself and three others, to go
in and arrest him. Reynolds remained in the door until he saw us
dismount. He seemed to step behind the door, but in fact he made a
dash for the back door to make his escape. I saw him pass out and gave
the alarm. Evans ordered the men to follow and commanded them not to
take him alive. I threw the gate open and the boys galloped into the
yard. It seemed to me that Yates had ten acres of land fenced off into
small lots about his place, but they delayed us only a short time. The
first man to reach the fence would jump from his horse and throw it
down, the remainder would ride forward. All this time the boys were
shooting at the running captain as fast as they could discharge their
guns and reload them.

We had with us a tall, swarthy Kentuckian, with black hair and long
black whiskers, whose name I have forgotten, and who looked, in his
rough soldier clothing, more like a bear than a man. He was the first
to reach Reynolds. As he came up Reynolds pulled a silver mounted
navy from his belt, but the Kentuckian was too quick for him and had
a holster pointed at his head. In an instant Reynolds dropped to his
knees, threw up his hands and began to beg. The Kentuckian disobeyed
orders and took him prisoner. He said if Reynolds had continued to
show fight he would have killed him, but he could not shoot a man who
was begging for his life. He brought the Captain back and, as he was
then our prisoner, his life was safe, for no man with whom I ever
served ever mistreated a prisoner.

When we reached the house Reynolds' wife and the Yates family came
out begging and crying pitifully for his life. We had no time to stay
and argue or explain. We feared the reports of our guns had reached
the ears of Reynold's company and that they would come upon us at any
moment. Wall Brinton told the Captain he must go with us, and ordered
him to get behind him on his horse. The captain did so amid the
wailing and crying of the women and we started away. Reynolds' wife
said she would go too, but I told her she could not do so, as we rode
through thick brush, and that she could do no good by going.

As we rode along Reynolds said he feared we were Bill Childs and his
band of bushwhackers, and that if Childs had found him he would not
have been permitted to surrender. He expressed the fear also that his
life would not be safe even as our prisoner, if Childs should fall in
with us. I assured him that Childs was not as bad as he thought him
to be, and that he need have no fear. But even this did not satisfy
him. On further inquiry, I learned that Child's wife had been taken by
the Union forces and placed in jail, and that Childs charged Reynolds
with responsibility for this act. Reynolds' terror of Childs made me
believe, without knowing the facts, that the charge was probably well

Evans and I rode along with Brinton and Reynolds and allowed the
remainder of the boys to get considerably ahead of us and completely
out of sight. When the proper time came we turned out of the road into
the thick woods and stopped. Evans then told Reynolds if he would go
to St. Joseph and have John Utz and Billy Jones released from prison
and resign his office and go back to his family and stay there and
behave himself we would turn him loose. The Captain was more than
willing to do all this. Evans then asked him to hold up his hand and
be sworn. I told Evans that was not necessary, as I would vouch for
the good conduct of the prisoner. Evans then set him free and I never
saw a more grateful man in my life. We parted good friends and I
learned after the war was over that Reynolds kept his promise, except
that he was unable to secure the release of Utz and Jones, as that was
out of his power. In all other things he was faithful. I have heard
that he often said to those who wanted him to return to the service
that Watt Gibson had saved his life, and that but for him both his
company and his family would have been without his services; and that
he did not propose to break the promise to which he owed his life.

When we overtook the boys and they found we had released Reynolds,
it required hard work to keep them from going back after him, but we
finally prevailed and the whole squad moved on into Platte County.
We camped about two miles east of Camden Point and remained a few
days. Mose Cunningham and a man by the name of Linville joined us as
recruits. During our stay there some of the boys went over to New
Market and spent a portion of the time. The day before we expected
to leave, Brinton and I went over to Alfred Jack's, as I wanted to
see his daughter, Mollie, before I left. We rode up to the yard fence
and there in front of the house lay a dead man--a Federal soldier. We
called Mr. Jack and asked him how the man came to be there. He said
that some hours before a party of Union militia and a few men that he
took to be Confederates had passed his house shooting at each other,
but that he did not know anyone had been killed. This was the first
news we had that the Federals were in the community. The skirmish was
between some of our men and a scouting party from the other side.

Mr. Jack was greatly disturbed and feared that he would be accused of
the man's death, and thought of leaving home. I told him not to do
that. He was entirely innocent and the soldiers knew the man had been
killed in the skirmish. We helped him carry the body into his yard and
started for camp. I knew the news of the fight would soon stir up all
the Federals in the community, and, though I missed seeing the young
lady, I was glad I learned of the trouble in time to get back to camp.
By noon the roads everywhere west of us were full of soldiers. We got
glimpses of them now and then from the hill on which we were camped.

We prepared our small camp equipment for traveling, saddled our horses
and crossed to the east side of the Platte. Here we selected a good
place to be attacked and waited two or three hours. Either they could
not find us or did not want to find us, for they did not appear.

Late in the afternoon we resumed our journey to the south, and passed
out of Platte and through Clay County without difficulty. The Missouri
River was again the great obstacle, as there were a number of us on
this trip. Richfield, the point where we had previously crossed, was
passed by, and we reached the river bottom some miles below that
place, just at night. We cooked and ate supper, and about eight
o'clock started for the river, not knowing how we would get across.
As we passed through a paw-paw thicket an amusing incident occurred.
A man called "halt." As our horses were making a great deal of noise
we did not hear either his first or second call. He called again in a
loud voice, "Halt, third and last time!" We stopped at once. He said,
"Who are you?" Our lieutenant answered, "Shelby's men. Who are you?"
"I am a bushwhacker, by G--." He then asked if any man in our company
lived near this place. Our lieutenant answered that a man with us by
the name of Hill lived at Richmond. "Tell him to come forward and meet
me half way." Then the bushwhacker began calling to his men to fall in
line. Hill went forward and met an old acquaintance. Hill asked how
many men he had. He said he had none; that he was alone, and was just
running a bluff on us. When Hill and the bushwhacker came back to us
we all had a jolly laugh.

We learned from him that Bill Anderson, with whom he belonged, was
crossing the river with his band of bushwhackers about a mile below,
and had sent him out as a picket. He went down with us and assured
Anderson that we were his friends. The night was very dark. Anderson
had forty-five men and one small skiff. Two men besides the oarsman
got into the boat, each holding the bridle of his horse. The horses
were then forced in, one on each side, and the skiff put off. It was a
long swim for the horses and a long wait for the skiff's return, but
it was better than drifting on cottonwood logs, as we had expected to
do. With the boat we could all land at the same place. Anderson's men
had been crossing since early in the evening and by midnight all were
over and the skiff delivered to us. The last of our company reached
the southern shore just at sun up, and our long journey seemed almost
over with the river behind us.

Anderson, after crossing, learned that a Federal regiment was in camp
at Sibley. He took his forty-five men and surprised them. They charged
through the whole regiment, yelling and shooting, and killed, wounded
and ran over about twenty of them without losing a man. Not satisfied
with this they charged back, and by that time, the soldiers had
collected their senses and their guns. Anderson was killed and three
of his men wounded. I have always believed that Anderson and most of
his men were half drunk that morning. The wounded men were placed in a
tent in the thick willows and left to the care of sympathizing women.
Anderson's death left his men without a leader. Forty-one remained
able to go forward and they joined with our thirty. This made a pretty
strong squad and we traveled the public roads in day light.

After two days our provisions gave out and we separated into little
companies of from four to six in order to get provisions and horse
feed from the residents of the country along the road, arranging in
advance to unite at a given place. I recall an incident of this trip
which afforded us great amusement. It happened near the north bank
of the Osage River. Our straggling parties had united in order to be
together at the fording of the river, and as we passed down toward
the river we met a squad of about ten militia. Neither party appeared
to be suspicious of the other, and the militia really thought we were
a part of their own forces. We rode directly up to them and spoke
very politely. Asked them where they were going and they told us
they were going home. Said they had been after Price and had driven
the d----d old Rebel out of Missouri once more and were just getting
home. We then told them we were a part of Price's forces that had not
been driven out, and drew our navies on them. It was pitiful to see
the expressions of terror that came over their faces. We made them
dismount and disarm themselves. They did so with the greatest apparent
willingness. We destroyed their arms as we had no use for them, and
made them swear a dreadful oath and promise they would never molest
Price or any of his men again. When they did this they were ordered
to move on, and seemed greatly rejoiced that their lives had been
spared. The many bitter experiences I had during the war led me to
doubt seriously whether we would have been as well treated had we been
caught by our enemies at as great a disadvantage as we had them. And
some of our men had long been with Bill Anderson, about whom the most
dreadful stories of cruelty have been written--by men I presume who
never dared to come out of hiding and who wrote the terrors of their
own cowardly souls rather than anything real or true.

It must be understood that I am not attempting a defense of Anderson
or his men further than to relate what their conduct was while I was
with them. It was by chance only, in the manner I have related, that I
was thrown with these men on this trip southward, and though we met a
number of returning squads of militia in the same way and always had
the advantage of them, not a man of them was mistreated other than to
be disarmed, if that may be called mistreatment. The situation may and
probably was different when these men were attacked or when the enemy
was campaigning against them. I have heard it said that, under such
circumstances, men who encountered Anderson's men had to fight, run or

With more or less difficulty and with many hardships, but without any
incident worth mentioning, we made our way to the Arkansas River about
twenty miles below Fort Smith. The river was running pretty full and
there was no hope of finding a ferry without encountering Federal
troops, so we constructed a rude raft of cottonwood logs, got on it
and swam our horses alongside. This occasioned considerable delay,
but we got safely over and made our way to Red River, where we had
much the same experience. We reached Price at Clarksville, Texas, and
remained with him there until January.

At this time Price's army was all cavalry--just as it came off of the
raid into Missouri--and consisted of about five thousand men. Early in
January he moved down on Red River about fifty miles distant in order
to get feed for his horses. Horse feed was scarce about Clarksville,
but in Red River bottom the cane was abundant and the move was made
that the horses might be grazed upon the cane. Price remained there
until spring and was still there when Lee surrendered. Price and his
staff prepared to go to Mexico and seven of us--Buchanan and Platte
County neighbor boys--saddled our horses, bade him goodby and started
for home.


_Worse Than War_.

The members of our party were Bill and Jack Evans, Curly Smith, Mose
Cunningham of Camden Point, and one of his neighbors, whose name
I do not now recall, Wall Brinton and myself. Our horses were in
good condition, and, though the war was over, we supplied ourselves
well with arms and ammunition and it was well we did, for in all my
experiences, I never suffered such hardships or came so near losing
my life as on this journey home after the war was over. We traveled a
long distance, as it seemed then, and met with no difficulty except
lack of food. Homes in that country were few and far between and when
we chanced upon a house no one was at home but half starved, ragged
women and children. They had little to offer us and lived themselves
by taking their dogs to the woods and chasing game or wild hogs which
had gone through the winter and were unfit for food. They always
offered to divide, but we did not have the heart to accept their
offer, and lived on such game as we could kill as we traveled along.
We always gave these women such encouragement as we could, told them
the war was over and they might soon expect their husbands and sons to
return to them. We did not say if they were still alive, but we and
they sadly understood always that such a condition might well have
been added.

I do not recall how we got across the Arkansas River, but I do
remember that in the heavy timber on this side we came upon nine
men in camp who claimed to be "bushwhackers." They invited us to
join them and as we were tired and hungry we did so. We rested the
remainder of the day and at night they told us there was to be a
dance--frolic--in the neighborhood and invited us to go. We did so and
witnessed a dance in truly Arkansas style. I took no part, but enjoyed
looking on at the others. When we reached camp late in the night we
all spread our blankets down around the fire and slept, feeling the
greatest security. Next morning three of their men and three of our
horses were gone. We said nothing, but cooked and ate our breakfasts
and went back to the cane-brake to make further search for the horses.
We hunted until noon, but could not find them. We returned to the camp
where the six remaining members of the party were and got dinner.
After dinner at a given signal we drew our navies and made them
disarm, which they did with much more haste than "bushwhackers" would
have done. We then asked them to tell where our horses were. Three
of the six proved to be really our friends and knew nothing about
the horses. The other three were in with the men who had gone. The
missing horses belonged to Mose Cunningham, Wall Brinton and myself.
They told us various stories. One said that my horse had been taken
by the son of a widow woman who lived seven miles east. Others said
the horses had been taken to Fort Smith, twenty miles west. We settled
the matter by saddling three of their horses and riding away. We rode
the remainder of the day and until two o'clock in the night without
anything to eat. About this hour we came upon a house and roused the
inmates and told them we must have provisions. We got a ham, some
flour, sugar and coffee and started on. By nine o'clock next morning
we had gotten far up into the rugged, mountainous country where it
seemed safe to stop. We dismounted and cooked breakfast, but took the
precaution to send two men back on the mountain to keep watch. I had
eaten my breakfast, saddled my horse and was ready to go. The other
boys were taking more time. I reminded them that we might be followed
and that they had better make haste. I had scarcely uttered the words
when the boys on the lookout came running down the mountain and before
they reached the camp a company of soldiers appeared at the crest.
They commenced throwing hot lead down at us, and we returned it and
kept it up until the boys got into camp and grabbed up a handful of
provisions. I made a breastworks of my horse and stood and shot across
my saddle until the horse fell at my feet. By that time our guns were
empty, and without time to reload we ran to the mountains, leaving
everything but our guns and the clothes upon our backs.

It was disheartening to think that, tired and hungry as we were, we
could not have peace long enough to cook and eat the poor provisions
secured at the farm house the night before, and it was still more
disheartening to reflect upon where the next meal was to be found.
In spite of this we still had much to be thankful for. Although left
on foot and without provisions, we still had our lives and plenty of
powder and lead, and, in those days when human life was so cheap,
these were our greatest concern.

The party attacking did not follow us into the brush on the mountain
side. We had all the advantage there and were desperate enough to
have used it to any extent and without much conscience, had occasion
required. Our little party was scattered, each man taking care of
himself. Some kept moving up the mountain while some crouched like
hunted quails in what appeared to be safe hiding places. In a little
while our pursuers gathered up our horses and the fragments of
provisions we had left and started away. After a long wait the boys
began to signal each other and shortly we were united.

It was a long and weary trudge to Fayetteville. We were compelled to
keep near the main traveled road, (which was little better than a
bridle path), because the country was so rough and the timber so heavy
that we feared we might lose our way. Our only food was the game we
killed--squirrels and wild turkey and now and then a deer. This we
dressed and broiled over a camp fire and ate without bread or salt.
Hard as this method of subsistence was, it had at least one advantage
over an army march--we had plenty of time. The bare ground had been
our resting place so long that we were quite accustomed to it, and
even, without the luxury of a blanket, we slept and rested much.

At Fayetteville we got the first square meal since leaving the camp on
the Arkansas River, and, as it was by no means safe to remain there,
we secured such provisions as we could carry, and started on, still
on foot. Above Fayetteville the country became less mountainous and,
although we always slept in the timber, we found little trouble in
securing food. We crossed Cowskin River and made our way to Granby,
where the lead mines were located. In a little valley shortly out of
Granby we found a drove of poor, thin horses. They had fared badly
during the winter, but looked as though they might be able to help us
along somewhat, so we peeled hickory bark and made halters and each
man caught himself a horse. We had not gone far when we discovered
that riding barebacked on the skeleton of a horse was a poor
substitute for walking, so we turned our horses loose and continued
the journey on foot.

Johnstown, a small town in Bates County, is the next point, I remember
distinctly. A company of militia was stationed there and all the
people in the country round-about were colonized in and near the town.
Although we knew the militia were there, we took our chances on going
quite near the town, for we were compelled to have food. Late in the
afternoon we stopped at a house in the outskirts of the town and
found the man and his family at home. The man belonged to the militia
company, so we held him until the family cooked supper for us. After
we had eaten we started on, taking the man with us to prevent him
from reporting on us, advising his family at the same time that if we
were pursued it would be because some of them had informed on us and
in that event the man would never return. They were glad enough to
promise anything that would give them hope of his return, and we felt
quite sure we would not be discovered from that source.

We left the house between five and six o'clock and had not gone far
when we saw three militia men who had been out on a scout, riding
toward us. When they came within a hundred yards or so the leader
called on us to halt. He asked, "Who are you?" Wall Brinton replied,
but I do not recall what he said. The leader evidently did not believe
him for he replied by telling us to consider ourselves under arrest.
This was, under our circumstances, equivalent to opening hostilities,
so we replied with our navies. One horse fell with the man on him.
The other two hastily assisted the rider to mount behind one of them.
They galloped back and took another road toward the town. We hurried
on to a thick grove of timber some distance ahead where we could
secure protection against the attack that we felt sure would later
be made upon us. As the news of our presence had now gone back to
headquarters, our prisoner could be of no more service, so we turned
him loose. We reached the timber and waited and watched, but, for some
reason, no attempt was made to capture us. Darkness soon came on and
we lost no time in making our escape. At daylight next morning we were
at Little Grand River, fifteen miles north.

Shortly after we left our hiding place in the timber near Johnstown,
it began to rain and rained on us all night long as we journeyed.
Little Grand River was running nearly bank full, but we had to cross.
We made a raft by binding logs together with hickory bark, placed
the guns and clothing upon it and pushed out, each man holding on at
the rear, swimming and pushing. We were soon across and as it seemed
to be a wild, uninhabited spot, we built a fire and warmed ourselves
and dried our clothing, and all got a little sleep, one man always
standing guard. About ten o'clock I grew restless and uneasy and
awakened the boys and told them we had better move on, as that company
of militia might start early in the morning to follow us and, if they
did so, they might be expected to appear at any time. Wall Brinton,
our captain, agreed to this and we made another start, although some
of the boys opposed it and said we had as well be killed as run
ourselves to death.

We traveled westwardly, up the river, about two miles and then north
to the bluffs where we found what appeared to be sufficient protection
in the timber and hills to warrant a stop for further rest. It was
a beautiful day after the rain the night before and we lay in the
warm sunshine and slept as well as hungry men could sleep. We peeled
slippery elm bark and ate it, but it did little to satisfy our hunger.

Late in the afternoon, Curly Smith, Wall Brinton and I were chewing
upon our elm bark and six of our boys were fast asleep, when a company
of soldiers rode up in twenty yards of us before we saw them. Smith
saw them first and said to me, "Who is that?" I sprang to my feet,
turning around as I did so. I knew them at a glance and knew also
that we were in trouble. There was no time to plan--no time even to
run--and six of the nine of us fast asleep. My first thought was to
wake the boys so I called out at the top of my voice, "Who are you?"
They gave no answer, but opened fire upon us. Brinton, Smith and I
each took a tree and let them come on. It was a desperate situation
and every load in the brace of six-shooters we carried must be made
to count. When they were close enough for our work to be effective,
we began on them. From the way they dropped out of their saddles I
am sure very few of our bullets went astray. The captain kept urging
his men on, calling "Give them hell, boys!" and we kept busy. The
captain himself galloped up within two rods of me, threw his saber
around his head and ordered me to surrender. I had, as I thought,
just one shot left. I put it through his heart. I saw it twist, as
it seemed, through his coat, and I shall never forget the writhing
of his body and the dreadful frown as he fell from his horse. Most
of them who were left had now exhausted the loads in their guns,
and when they saw their captain fall retreated. We whirled and ran
with all our might. The boys who had been asleep were gone. They had
awakened and started at the first volley. A short run brought us in
sight of the other boys who were at the moment trying to pass around
a long, narrow slough, which lay between them and timber on the other
side. Brinton's right arm was broken between the wrist and elbow. He
had received the wound as he threw his arm from behind the tree to
shoot. It was bleeding badly, but we kept running and calling to our
companions to turn and fight. They paid no attention to us, but kept
on around the slough. During this time the men who attacked us had
rallied and were riding down upon us. Brinton kept calling and urging
the boys to turn and fight, and finally as our pursuers drew closer
they turned and fired, and this checked the men who were after us for
a moment. By this time poor Wall had grown weak and sick from loss
of blood and could go no farther. We had been running side by side.
The last words he said to me were, "I am sick, I can't go on. I will
have to surrender. Make your escape if you can." Such a thing seemed
impossible at the moment, but I feared nothing so much as the "mercy"
of the men who were after us. Wall threw up his well arm and I ran
as fast as I could toward the slough or lake and plunged right in.
The brush and vines on the other side were my only hope, aside from
the discovery I made as I ran that I had one more load in my navy.
Our enemies, except one man, took after the boys who were running
around the lake. As I waded in water nearly waist deep the man who had
followed me rode up to the edge of the lake and ordered me to halt. I
paid no attention to him but waded on, watching him all the time. He
rode out into the water, raised his gun as if to shoot and called the
second time. I stopped and turned and leveled the muzzle of my navy at
his belt and fired. He fell off his horse into the water. When I got
across I looked back and saw him struggling to keep his head out of
the water. I do not know what became of him. I foresaw when he came up
and rode into the lake that he or I would be doing that very thing,
and I felt that the chance load left in my navy was, as it proved to
be, my only protection against it. The fight was still going on up
the lake. I looked and saw Jack Evans down in the water and heard him
calling for help. The other boys were just wading out. I ran to them
and as I came up I saw blood streaming from the leg of one of the men.
He had been shot in the thigh, but was still able to walk.

We soon got out of sight in the thick brush and they did not follow
us. Including the man who remained with us, four of our men had been
wounded in the fight. Three of them, Wall Brinton, Jack Evans and
one of the Platte County boys, were compelled to surrender, and we
learned that all of them, wounded prisoners though they were, were
shot in cold blood. We never knew how many of their men were killed
and wounded.

We hurried on through the brush back toward the river, and when we
reached it we found a log for our wounded man and all swam across
to the south side. After traveling a few miles down the river we
crossed in the same manner and made directly north. Just before dark
we came to an abandoned log house and stopped. We were in a pitiable
condition. No food since the night before, tired and wet, depressed
in spirits by the loss of our comrades, whom we knew had already been
killed, and with a wounded man upon our hands. To remain there so
close to the men who were after us meant that we would be captured and

We talked the matter over. The wounded man, whose name I do not
recall, in company with his brother, fell in with us at the Arkansas
River. He was so weak and was suffering so much that he could go no
farther, so he and his brother decided to remain at the cabin through
the night and trust to the mercy of some one whom they might find next
day to give them assistance and shield them from the soldiers who
had pursued us from Johnstown. They agreed that the four of us who
were uninjured would not be so apt to secure sympathy and that we had
better move on.

It was a sad farewell that we bade our wounded companion and his
brother that night, and it was, for me at least, a farewell indeed,
for I have never seen or heard from them since, but it seemed the
best and only thing that could be done. As soon as it was dark we
started and traveled all night, though very slowly, and until late in
the afternoon of the day following. At that time we came near a small
place, the name of which I do not now remember. We went up close to
the town and stopped at a house. Two men in blue clothes were there
with the family and we immediately took charge of them and ordered
supper. They prepared a splendid meal for us and we ate it as only
men can eat who have gone forty-eight hours without food. It was a
cool evening and they had a small fire in an old-fashioned fire-place.
After supper we asked them to spread some bed clothes before the fire
and three of us lay down and slept while the fourth stood guard over
the men. We took turns standing guard through the night and next
morning ordered an early breakfast and left as soon as it was daylight.

We started north, and as soon as we got out of sight of the house
turned east a short distance and then went back south about a mile
to a high knoll covered with black jack. We lay there all day and
watched the maneuvers of the blue coats. They scoured the country
to the north far and near, but never approached the knoll on which
we were hidden. We had a fine rest after our two good meals, and we
needed it following the events of the past two days. When night came
and everything got still we came down and went to the same house for
supper. The men had not returned from hunting us, and the women were
much surprised to see us. They gave us a good supper and we bade them
goodby and started north, listening all the time for approaching
horses from either direction. We had no difficulty, and by morning
were well out of the way.

The next place I remember was in Jackson County near Independence. As
we were worn out, ragged and almost barefooted, and as the war was
over, we decided to see the provost marshal and get a pass on which we
could travel on to our homes in safety. I went to a good Union man's
house and told him what I wanted. He promised to see the marshal for
me, and I directed him where to find us. Upon his return he said the
pass would be provided. Next morning they sent a small company of
soldiers out and we saw that we had been deceived. They looked us over
carefully and talked pretty saucy, but did not harm us. We looked so
shabby that they evidently thought we did not amount to much. They
put us in a two-horse wagon and took us to Warrensburg, forty miles
farther from home. There we were placed in a guard-house where we were
kept two or three days, without telling us what their plans were. One
morning a guard came and took one of our men--a mere boy--down to
headquarters and quizzed him to find out if he knew anything about
the fight on Little Grand River. He denied it. Then they came and got
one of the other boys, but he managed also to convince them that we
had been together--just the four of us--since we left the south. This
seemed to satisfy them for they did not call on me, but we were not

The day following a guard came and marched us out to the edge of
town and set us to work hoeing in a garden, with a negro woman for a
boss. I called her "aunty," and cut up as many beans and peas as I
did weeds. I kept my "boss" busy showing me how, and she got precious
little work out of me. I began to suspect they were trying to connect
us with the Grand River affair, and feared they might get some one
who would identify us or pretend to do so, and I did not like the
prospect, so I made up my mind I would leave them some how and go home
without a pass. The guard-house was a brick building that had been a
dwelling. A water tank stood out in the yard and the prisoners all
went there for water. Four men stood guard day and night, and it was
customary at six o'clock to turn the men in and lock them up. On the
evening that I decided to escape I managed to hide in a pile of lumber
that lay in the yard near the water tank, and when the guards put the
men in and locked the doors they did not miss me. I lay very still
until late at night. I could hear the guard pass on his beat and by
the time required to pass me and return I could judge the length of
his beat. When I thought it safe to make my dash I watched and after
he had passed south, I waited until he had gone, as well as I could
estimate, to the end of his beat, then I leaped across his path so
quickly that he did not have time to think, much less shoot. I ran
down a dark alley and had no trouble in reaching the outskirts of
the town. I took across the fields, not knowing where I was going,
nor caring much, just so I was getting away. I had been gone but a
little while when I heard the town bell ring and knew the alarm had
been turned in. Then I heard horses galloping out, as I supposed,
on every road from town. I heard the horses gallop across a bridge
some distance from town, and concluded I would cross no bridges that
night. I moved cautiously on, and by and by came to a creek somewhat
in the direction I had heard horses cross the bridge. I followed the
creek, watching all the time for bridges and after a while came to a
foot-log. I crossed and made my way out of the thick brush and stopped
to get my bearings. It was a starlight night. I located the north star
and took it for my guide and traveled all night.

When daylight came I found myself in a creek bottom and in a body of
very large timber. I found a large, hollow sycamore with a hole in the
side reaching down to the ground large enough to admit me. I sat back
into that tree to get a little rest and possibly a little sleep. I
watched and listened. A good while after sun up I saw a man going with
a yoke of cattle toward a field, which I could see through the timber,
to plow. Two big, savage looking dogs were following him. The dogs
raised their heads and came toward me as though they scented me and I
made sure I would be discovered, but they turned in another direction
before they got very near and did not disturb me. I sat there all day
and, in spite of my hunger, slept and rested. When night came I made
another start as soon as I could see the north star. I traveled all
night and when morning came I still had but little idea where I was. I
went up on a high hill which was covered with brush and from which I
could see all about me. Everything was quiet, so I lay down and slept.
I awoke about ten o'clock and saw a stage-coach loaded with passengers
passing along a road below me. This was the first information I had
that I was near a public road. I remained in the brush awhile and
then decided to move along cautiously by daylight. I saw a house now
and then and, though terribly hungry, I did not dare approach it and
ask for food. Toward night I reached the rugged hills, from which I
judged I must be near the Missouri River. Just before dark I found
an empty tobacco barn and crawled into it and remained throughout
the night. This was the third night with two days intervening--sixty
hours--in which I had not tasted food, and I was worn out with my long
tramp besides.

I did not sleep well that night. My accommodations were very poor and
my gnawing appetite, made me wakeful. I had one comfort, however,
I was well hidden, and this reflection rewarded me for much of my
suffering. Since this trip home I have had a warm sympathy for all
hunted beasts.

When day began to dawn I commenced observing my situation without. I
saw a house near by and watched it for an hour. I could only see two
women, and from the way they attended the work outside as well as in
the house, I concluded there were no men about the place and that it
would be safe for me to venture up and ask for something to eat, and,
if I got into trouble, trust my legs, the only weapons I had, to get
me out. I went up cautiously and found what I could not discover from
my hiding place, that one was an old lady and the other a girl just
grown. I spoke to the old lady and told her my famished condition. She
said she was sorry for me, but she had orders to feed nobody on either
side and that she could not disobey them without getting into trouble
herself. I told her the war was over and that I was trying to get
home. I had tried to quit fighting when I left Price on Red River, but
had had greater difficulty in keeping myself from being killed since
I quit fighting than before. She still refused to give me anything.
Finally, my entreaties won the girl. She spoke up and said, "Mother, I
have made no promises. You have kept your promise and have refused him
food. I will give him something to eat." With that she told me to draw
my chair to the table and she began to set such a meal before me as I
had not tasted in years, it seemed. Cold boiled ham, light bread, milk
and butter, preserves, honey, cake and pie--plenty of all, and rations
I had not heard of in months. I will not attempt to describe how
ravenously I ate. I was probably as shabby looking a mortal as ever
sat down to a meal at a civilized table. My hair and beard were long
and had not been combed for days. I had not washed my face since I
escaped from the guard-house. My clothes--what was left of them--were,
with walking through mud and rain, wading lakes and sloughs and
swimming rivers, soiled and grimy beyond description. When I had
finished eating the girl asked me if I would take a lunch along with
me. Of course I told her I would, and that I would always be grateful
to her, and I have kept my promise. I have many times remembered that
kindness and thanked that young lady over and over a thousand times in
my heart.

I took my package and bade the girl and her mother goodby and started
for the woods. I soon reached level ground and heavy timber and knew
I was in the river bottom. I went cautiously along until I saw the
river in the distance. Then I selected a good shade and lay down and
had a fine rest after my good meal. I awoke some time along in the
afternoon. Everything was quiet--no sound of human foot or voice. I
ate my lunch and went down to the river bank to select a good crossing
place. I found a place that suited me. Then I prepared three logs and
brought them to the water's edge and tied them firmly together with
hickory bark which I peeled from the saplings near by. I found in a
drift close at hand a clap-board suitable for an oar, and my craft
was ready to sail. I might have made the crossing in daylight without
being molested, but, not knowing what I might encounter on the other
shore, I decided to wait for night.

As soon as it began to grow dark I went down and pushed my raft into
the water and tied it to the root of a tree. I then got astride of it
with feet and legs up to the knees in the water to see if it would
bear my weight. It appeared to be sufficiently strong, so with my
clap-board in my hand I cut loose. The current caught me and took me
rapidly down stream, but I was sure if I kept using my paddle it would
have sufficient effect to land me on the other side some time. It soon
grew very dark, so that I could not see the shore on either side, and
I could not tell I was moving except by the water running past my feet
and legs. After what seemed a very long time, and after I had grown
very tired both with my labor and my position on the raft, I felt my
feet strike the sand. I got up and towed the raft to shore and pulled
it up on dry land. Then I took a rest and planned. I might be on an
island and in that case I would have further need for my raft. I could
only ascertain my position by investigating, so when sufficiently
rested I started on across the land, breaking the top of a bush
every few steps to guide me back in case I should find myself upon
an island. I soon came to a slough which I waded without difficulty
and passed on. A little farther on I came to another slough, which I
also waded. The ground under my feet seemed to grow firmer as I walked
away from this slough. I passed into a body of good sized timber and
finally I came to a wagon road, and I knew then that I was on the
main land and the Missouri River which had given me so much trouble
during the four preceding years was again behind me. My little raft
might rest and I should have no need to retrace my steps by the broken

I had no idea what time of night it was. I was tired and wet, but with
all that, felt much better than on the preceding night when so hungry.
I thought it must be twenty miles or more to where my sister lived
in the northeast portion of Clay County, so I again took the north
star for my guide and set out, bearing west somewhat when I found
traveling that way agreeable, but never east. I paid no attention to
roads unless they led in my direction. When daylight came I was at a
loss to know where I was. I saw a house in the distance and went up
near it. No one was up, so I sat down to wait. In a little while a
girl came out to a wood pile and began picking up chips. I went up and
asked her how far it was to Greenville. She said one mile. I asked her
which direction and she pointed east. I thanked her and started in the
direction she pointed. I was no sooner out of sight than I turned my
course due north, for I was then in less than two miles of my sister's
home. I arrived shortly after sun up, and as I went into her house
and sat down to a good breakfast, I felt that my troubles ought to be
fairly over, now that the war had closed; but my terrible experiences
on the way home caused me to doubt whether I could go back and live in
peace, even if there was no war.

I remained with my sister a day or two, never showing myself in
daylight, for I learned from her that now since fear of southern
soldiers was over, all those who were too cowardly to go to the front
but had remained at home and robbed and harassed old men and women and
children, were giving the community more trouble than at any time
during the war. They were all very brave then and organized companies
and marched and drilled and galloped over the roads, seeking all
manner of pretenses to rob and kill those who had sympathized with
the south. Returning Confederate soldiers, were, in those first days
after the close of the war, in greater danger than when in the front
of battle, as my own recent experience had shown, and I was not alone,
for my sister told me of a number of soldiers who had returned from
the south only to be killed after reaching home.

I was sure I would find much the same condition in Buchanan County
that I had encountered all along my route home, and I did not like the
prospect that lay before me.

I learned from my sister that Trav. Turner, a neighbor of hers,
was at St. Joseph fitting up a freight train for Salt Lake. I knew
Turner well. He had carried food to Brother James and me while we
lay in the brush waiting to hear the fate of Charley Pullins who was
captured when we were all overtaken at the home of Reuben Eastin in
that neighborhood, and I knew, if I could reach him, I would have no
difficulty in getting away from the country. Something had to be done.
If I should be discovered at the home of my sister it would give the
"yard dogs," as those brave murderers of that community were called, a
pretext for robbing her and probably for killing her husband or some
of her family. We decided upon a plan. I shaved very clean and parted
my long hair in the middle, put on one of my sister's dresses and
both of us put on sunbonnets. We got in a buggy and started for Saint
Joseph. We passed right through old Haynesville, the center of all
the patriotic parading of the "yard dogs," on through Plattsburg and
reached the home of Jack Elder, a half mile from my old home, where
we stayed all night. Next morning we drove on to Saint Joseph and took
dinner with my brother, Isaac. I remember this incident particularly
for the family had company for dinner. I was introduced as a Clay
County friend of Mrs. Wilson's and sat down at the same table, and the
visitors did not suspect me through my disguise. After dinner we drove
to the ferry at the foot of Francis Street and drove on. The boat
was crowded and they had to place our buggy in line in order to make
room for others. Two men took hold of the buggy to lift it around. My
sister said, "Wait and we will get out." The men said, "No, sit still
_ladies_, we can lift it with you in it." We sat still, and crossed
over. On reaching the other side we drove out through the woods and
found Turner's camp. Passing on beyond and out of sight, I removed my
disguise, after which we returned to the camp and I bade my sister


_Across the Plains in Sixty-five_.

I was perfectly at home in Turner's camp, not only on account of my
acquaintance with him, but on account of my old familiarity with
plainsmen's ways.

There were nineteen men in the train, and but three of them, Turner,
Cap. Hughes, the wagon boss, and James Curl, of Rushville, knew me.
They were all discreet and kept their knowledge to themselves. I
went by the name of John Allen. Just before we were ready to start
my brother-in-law, James Reynolds, sent me a mule, bridle and saddle
and a small amount of money. We pulled out early one morning, sixteen
wagons, four yoke of oxen to each wagon, and forty hundred in each
load. Some time was required to get the men and cattle accustomed to
traveling, and for a while our progress was slow. At Fort Kearney
the soldiers stopped our train. They told us the Indians were on the
warpath ahead and the authorities refused to permit any train to pass
on without fifty men. This forced us to wait until another train came
up. During this time we were required to organize ourselves into a
company of soldiers, elect a captain and drill several hours every
day. The captain ordered me out to drill with the boys. I told him
I knew as much about drilling as I wanted to know and refused to
go. Turner thought he had to obey the authorities and had all his
men drill very industriously. I told him he had better stop that
foolishness and pull out or he would not reach Salt Lake before
Christmas. He said he did not know how to get away from the orders
given him by the soldiers. I told him to turn the matter over to me
and I would show him. He did as I requested and gave orders that until
further notice I should be obeyed.

The following morning I was out before daylight. I quietly aroused the
men and ordered them to prepare to move. Everything was soon ready and
before sun up we were on the road. I made twenty-five miles that day,
which put us so far ahead that we never again heard of soldiers or of
the trains that expected to accompany us. Turner wanted me to remain
in charge of the train, but I told him I could not do it, as I had had
trouble enough the past four years, but that I would give him all the
assistance in my power.

The train moved along slowly over the old road up the Platte which
was so familiar to me, until it reached the upper crossing at South
Platte, where I crossed in forty-nine. From that point we continued
up South Platte over a road with which I was not familiar. When we
reached the mouth of the Cache le Poudre River we crossed and left
the Platte and followed the Cache le Poudre up about 75 miles, as I
remember it. There we left the river and passed over a high plateau,
or divide as we called it, and down into a beautiful valley, the
head waters of Laramie River. After crossing this valley we passed
through a very rough country that lay between the Laramie and the
North Platte. On this stretch of the road and at a point I do not now
remember, we passed a government fort. There I saw Gillispie Poteet,
with whom I had gone to school as a boy. He was a private in the
Federal service. I do not know whether he recognized me or not. I
passed him without speaking or making myself known. My experiences in
the war had made me doubtful of even my old school mates when I saw
them in such company as I found him.

After crossing North Platte, which was but a small stream at that
point, we passed into the worst alkali country I ever saw in my life.
It extended from the North Platte to the Colorado River--a distance of
one hundred and fifty miles or more.

We had a hundred and twenty-five head of cattle and about one-fifth of
them gave out before we were half way across the desert and had to be
herded behind the train. In this state of affairs, which seemed about
as bad as it could well be, Turner was taken sick. He and Captain
Hughes had been having trouble with the men, and Turner was greatly
worried, and I thought at first that he was homesick. The second day
after Turner was taken sick he came to me and asked me to take charge
of the train and let him go on by stage to Salt Lake City where he
could rest and see a doctor. I had been thinking for several days that
I would like to leave the train and go on by stage myself, but did not
like to leave Turner while he was in trouble. So when he proposed to
go on I suggested that he leave the train with Captain Hughes and that
I go along with him to care for him. He said he could not consent to
go on unless I remained with the train; that if we both went the men
would abandon the train on the desert. I then told him I would do my
best; that he had stood by me when I was in trouble, had carried food
to me in the brush when, if he had been discovered, it would have cost
him his life, and that I was ready to do everything I could for him.
I saw Captain Hughes and found it was agreeable to him that I take

We had then been nearly three months on the road. The cattle were
poor and worn out and there was little food for them upon the desert.
The men were tired and had been inclined to rebel against Turner and
Hughes, and many times it was all that all of us could do to keep
them from abandoning the train. Under these trying conditions, I took
charge, much against my inclination, but out of a sense of duty to

Turner took the stage and left us. I immediately gave the men to
understand that I would have no foolishness and that I intended to
push the train on in good order and as rapidly as conditions would
permit. The men seemed to believe I could do what I said I could do
and became very well satisfied. I had trouble with only one man--a
negro that Curl had picked up at Fort Kearney, and placed in charge
of one of his teams. He weighed about 180 pounds, and had just been
discharged from the Union army. He felt very important, and still
wore his blue uniform. The trouble arose in this way: At night we
placed the wagons so as to form a large corral, leaving a gap on one
side. In the morning the cattle would be rounded up and driven into
the corral to be yoked. This negro would not go out in the roundup,
but would remain at the camp until the cattle came up, then in place
of waiting until the cattle were safely in the corral, he would pick
up his yoke and start for his cattle directly in front of the drove.
Many of the cattle would frighten at this and run away and have to be
rounded up again. The boys had scolded him frequently, but he paid
no attention to them, and when I went in charge they complained to
me. I spoke to the negro firmly but kindly and told him to wait until
the cattle were all driven in before attempting to yoke his cattle.
He paid no attention to me, and as usual frightened the cattle back.
I said nothing more to him. The next morning I took one of the long
bull whips, the stock of which was of seasoned hickory and eight or
ten feet long, and took my stand at the side of the gap as though I
intended to assist in driving the cattle in. When the front cattle
came up the negro started for his oxen with the yoke in his hands.
Quick as a flash I changed ends on the whip-stock and with the butt
of it I gave him such a rap on the side of the head that he dropped
his yoke and staggered out of the way. That was the last trouble I had
with that negro. He was as obliging and obedient to me after that as I
could ask a negro to be.

I got the train to the Colorado River where there was plenty of water
and grass, and rested three days. I crossed the river and moved on
up Black Fork about forty miles to Fort Bridger. There I met Turner
who had returned from Salt Lake to see how we got along. I drove the
train up close to the fort and stopped on a stream. The cattle were
unyoked and I had gone with them to the stream to see that they all
got water. It was a beautiful place to camp, and with the fort so
close at hand I thought we could all lie down and rest without fear
of Indians. While I was at the creek three men with yellow stripes on
their shoulders rode up and asked me where the owner of the train was.
I directed them to Turner, who was at the camp. They rode off and I
followed and reached the camp in time to hear them tell Turner that he
must move on; that he could not camp in five miles of the fort; that
they were saving the grass for hay. Turner asked me what he should do.
I told him there was but one thing to do--move on. That the fort was
placed there for the purpose of protecting emigrants, and freighters,
but that did not matter. Those gentlemen in blue clothes and yellow
stripes must be protected or they could not draw their salaries.

The dead line they had drawn was five miles beyond, and it was nearly
night and our cattle were hungry and we were foot-sore and worn out,
and all the Indians on the plains could rob and scalp us that distance
away from the fort and not a gentleman in blue clothes and yellow
stripes be disturbed by it, but we had to move. I was rebellious
again--more so I believe than at any moment during the war, which had
just closed--and but for my recent efforts and my dismal failure, I
should have felt much like challenging the whole regiment with my
twenty cowboys. We were not the only sufferers. An emigrant train of
about twenty families, men, women and children from near Rushville,
Buchanan County, in which were Joe Hart and Tom Hill, who I remember
had fallen in with us and were traveling close behind, they, too, had
to pack up and start. It was late at night when we reached a safe
distance from the fort under escort of the gentlemen in blue clothes
and yellow stripes, and we stopped on a desert so barren that we had
to corral the cattle and hold the poor hungry things all night. In the
morning we moved on some miles farther and found grass and water and
stopped the remainder of the day. A little less than a week later we
pulled into Salt Lake, seventy miles west of Fort Bridger, with the
merchandise in good condition, but with the cattle pretty well played
out. I remained with Turner until his wagons were all unloaded. When
that was finished my free boarding house was closed. My mule was so
poor that he was almost worthless. I had but little money, and my
friends were all preparing to start back. I could not think of going
with them and I felt the necessity for stirring about and finding
something to do.

In a few days a large train pulled in from the west. I went to the
boss and asked him what his plans were. He told me he was hauling
flour from Salt Lake City to Helena, Montana. I asked him about the
Montana country, and where and how he wintered his cattle. He said he
grazed them on Boulder Creek near Helena, and that there was no better
range in the west. I learned farther that he would start on his last
trip before winter in about a week. I did not tell him that I thought
of applying for a job driving an ox team.

Next day Turner, having disposed of his goods, asked me what he owed
me. I told him he owed me nothing; that he had paid me long ago by
protecting me in time of war, and had brought me away from danger
free of charge. Turner said he would not have it that way; that if I
had not been along his train would be back upon the alkali desert,
and that he proposed to pay me. I then told him of my plan to drive
an ox team on to Montana, as I was a pretty good bull-whacker and had
to have some place to go. In reply to this he said I must do no such
thing; that if I would name the place I wanted to go he would see that
I had a way to get there without driving a team. I told him I had no
place in particular in mind, but would be satisfied anywhere among
the mountains and Indians--just so I could get away from the old war
troubles back in civilization.

In a few days Turner came back and told me his cattle were so poor
that he could not sell them, and proposed that I buy them and take
them along with me. I replied that I had no money, besides I was alone
and felt that I could not handle the cattle. He said I did not need
any money, that he would take my note and as to the other matters
he would fix them. He then made me a present of a fine mare, a gun
and a hundred dollars in money. He also gave me a wagon loaded with
provisions. With this equipment, it began to look as though I could
take the cattle, and that the plan he had made for me was much better
than any I could have made for myself. Jim Curl, a Buchanan County
boy, had sixteen head of cattle which he added to mine. He loaded a
wagon with provisions and each of us hired a man to drive our team,
and with this arrangement made we were ready to start.

We remained at Salt Lake until Turner had finished his business. His
entire outfit at St. Joseph cost him about seven thousand dollars. He
paid about two thousand dollars in wages to the men who assisted him.
He received twenty-five thousand six hundred dollars for his cargo.
I saw him get the money and put it in a bank. I realized then what a
loss it would have been to him had he failed to get his train across,
and he often told me if I had not been along he might never have
succeeded. I gave Turner my note for four thousand dollars for the
cattle and he took the stage for home. The next day Curl and I left
for Boulder Valley.

For seventy-five miles or more out of Salt Lake we had to pass through
the Mormon settlements and we had great difficulty in keeping the
cattle out of the fields and gardens. We crossed Bear River just above
the point where it empties into Salt Lake and, after crossing a range
of mountains, found Hedgepeth's cut-off, a road I had traveled in
1854. A short distance farther on, and from the top of a high divide,
I could see Snake River valley near Fort Hall, my old trail in 1849.
When we got down to the river and crossed the deep worn trail, the
scene was quite familiar to me, although it had been a good many years
since I had viewed it the last time. After crossing Snake River we set
out across the mountains for our destination. I can't remember the
names of many points on this trip. In fact the road was comparatively
new and but few places had names. I remember passing over a broad,
sandy desert, where our cattle nearly famished for water, and then
down a long grade over almost solid rock. Near the bottom of this
grade I saw a small stream some distance away, and rode down to see
if I could find a way by which the cattle could reach water. I recall
this distinctly because while hunting a path to the water I saw two
queer looking animals, the like of which I had never seen before. I
learned afterwards that they were lynx.

Next day we passed into a beautiful valley where we had plenty of
water and grass, but it snowed most of the day--a wet snow that soon
melted and did not interfere much with grazing. Passing on we reached
Black Tail Creek, (so named after the black tail deer), which we
followed down to Nelson River. After crossing Nelson River we passed
over a low range of mountains and down into Boulder Valley, the place
we set out to reach. In spite of the high recommendation given this
valley as a place to winter cattle, I did not like it, and we moved on
up the river about fifty miles, and reached a place where the grass
was abundant, but the frost had killed it. Curl thought this was the
place to stop, but I was not satisfied. I saw no bunch grass, and my
experience with cattle in California told me that we would not be
safe unless we found a place where bunch grass grew on the mountain
sides. However, we camped at this point and remained a few days to
look about. Just above our camp a small creek, which seemed to come
down from a big mountain in the distance, put into Boulder River. Curl
and I passed up this creek toward the mountain, which was covered with
snow. Some miles up we found the finest bunch grass I ever saw growing
upon the low hills which surrounded the high peak. We spent the whole
day looking over the place and went so far as to select the site for
our cabin. Returning to camp, entirely satisfied with our day's work,
we planned for the winter. Next morning early we were on our way to
the mountain home we had selected. The grade was steep, our wagons
were heavy and there was no road. We had to circle about the hills and
wind and twist in order to get along at all. It was nearly night when
we arrived at the spot selected.

I had expected, from reports given me, to find a white settlement in
Boulder Valley, but there was none, and if there was a white person
within fifty miles of our camp that night we did not know it. Virginia
City and Helena were mining towns about a hundred miles apart, and
we were half way between them. I could hardly have found a place in
the whole western country where the chance of meeting a white man was
so small. It was, by good fortune, the very spot I set out to find
when I left Missouri. I told my friends when I left that I was going
out among the savage Indians for protection against the "yard dog"
militia, who had not been in the war, and who only commenced fighting
after the war was over and returning Confederate soldiers were at
their mercy.

A hurried camp, such as we were accustomed to make when traveling,
was all we did the night of our arrival. Next morning we were up
bright and early and, after attention to the cattle to see that none
of them had strayed, we began building our winter home. We had but
one axe and one shovel--one implement for each of us. Abundance of
pine and cedar grew near. I took the axe and began cutting the logs
while Curl with the shovel leveled the earth upon the site selected
for the cabin. Curl's task was soon done, but not until I had a number
of logs ready to be taken in. The oxen were then yoked and as fast as
the logs were cut they were dragged in. When we decided logs enough
were upon the ground, building began. It was slow work and hard work.
Each log had to be raised and laid in its place and notched carefully
so that it would hold firm and leave as little space as possible to
be "chinked." When the proper height for the eaves had been reached,
we elevated one side by adding logs to give slant to the roof. Stout
poles were then laid side by side, over which we spread a thick layer
of cedar branches and covered the whole with gravel. We chinked the
spaces between the logs and plastered over the chinking with mortar
made of mud. We then cut out a door, over which we hung a heavy
blanket, and with such stones as we could select, suitable to be used,
built a fire-place, laying the stones in the same kind of mortar used
in the chinking. Thus we had a house without a nail or a piece of iron
about it.

Before I left Salt Lake, I bought two fine greyhounds. I trained them
to sleep just inside our door. I told Curl they must serve as a lock
to our door. They were faithful and obedient and I knew no Indian
could get near us without warning. I felt more secure when I lay down
to sleep with those dogs by my door than if I had had a puncheon door,
barred and locked.

We moved into our cabin late in October, and I felt for the first
time in more than four years that I was at home. I was glad also to
get a rest. I had left Red River, fifty miles above Shreveport, in
April, walked the seven hundred miles to Buchanan County, fighting,
running and hiding--much of the time without food, as I have related;
then twelve hundred miles to Salt Lake, with a week's rest, then six
hundred miles to Boulder Valley--six months of trial and hardship
which few men are called upon to endure. In view of this I looked upon
my winter in the cabin, in spite of its loneliness, with a good deal
of pleasure.

There was an abundance of game all about us. Elk, deer, antelope,
bear, moose, and smaller game, grouse, pheasants and sage hens
plentiful. Elk was my favorite meat, and, while we had great variety,
I always kept as much as one hind quarter of elk hanging upon the
corner of our cabin. Any day I chose I could take my gun and go out
upon the mountain side among the cattle and bring back just such meat
as my appetite fancied.

We lived thus until near the first of the year 1866, without once
seeing a human face--either white man or Indian. One morning about
the time mentioned, Curl and I went out to get our ponies when we
saw a dozen buck Indians chasing an antelope down the valley. Some
were on foot and some on ponies. We hurriedly climbed up the side of
a mountain which gave us an extended view of the whole plain, and to
our astonishment we saw, about three miles away, a perfect village of
wigwams. We were no longer without neighbors. Curl was considerably
alarmed, but I told him we had nothing to fear, except that our game
would not be so plentiful and so easily procured. He asked me how I
knew we were in no danger. I pointed to the squaws, and pappooses
which we could see about the village, and told him that my experience
with Indians was that they were always peaceable when they had their
families along. I told him, however, that we must be discreet and make
friends with them, and assured him that I knew how to do that and that
he must follow my advice.

Out of extra caution we went back to the cabin and immediately put
all our guns in good condition. We had hardly finished our task,
when about noon, two Indians ran upon our cabin, to their utter
astonishment. They stopped and looked in consternation. Our dogs
went after them and I had hard work to make the dogs understand that
they must not harm them. When the dogs were quiet I went up to them,
showing my friendliness in every way I could. They answered me with
signs showing that they too were friendly. When I had convinced them
I meant no harm, I had them come into the cabin, and there I tried to
find out what their plans were in the valley. I could understand but
little they said, but I felt perfectly sure that by proper cultivation
we should soon become quite friendly.

I then set food before them. I had a kettle of thoroughly cooked navy
beans simmering over our fire. I filled a couple of pans from the
kettle, set them out and provided bread and meat. They went in on the
beans and ate them ravenously. I tried to induce them to eat bread
and meat, but not a morsel would they touch, but kept calling for
beans. I told Curl we must find some way to stop them if possible, as
so many beans in their starved stomachs might make them sick and the
tribe would think we had poisoned them. We both then began to make all
manner of signs toward the bread and meat, but it was useless. The two
ate the entire kettle of beans and looked around for more. When they
saw the beans were gone, they ate large quantities of bread and meat,
and made signs that they were much pleased with their meal. When they
left they made us understand that we were invited to see them. They
pointed to their camp and said "wakee up." We made them understand
that we would come and when they were gone I told Curl we must keep
our promise.

Next day we saddled our horses, buckled our navies on the outside of
our clothes and each with a rifle in front across the horn of the
saddle, rode down. The dogs followed us. When we rode up the squaws
and pappooses ran for the tents like chickens that have seen a hawk in
the air. But few bucks were in camp, the majority of them being out
hunting. Fortunately for us one of the bucks who had dined with us
so heartily on beans the day before was lying in his tent (perfectly
well, to our surprise), and when the alarm was given he came out and
recognized us. He came up and bade us welcome, and invited us into his
tent. I was surprised to see how comfortably he was fixed. The poles
of his tent were probably twenty feet long and tied together at the
top. The lower ends of the poles were set in a wide circle, making a
room twelve or fourteen feet across. It was a cold, winter day and a
small stick fire was burning in the center directly beneath an opening
at the top of the tent. The draft was such that the smoke all arose
and escaped from the tent. They had gathered pine needles and packed
them upon the floor around the fire and over them had spread dressed
buffalo robes, making as fine a carpet as I ever set foot upon.

We sat down by the fire and talked as much as we could to our host,
making him understand that we were entirely friendly. Our dogs,
seeing the good feeling between the Indians and ourselves, accepted
the situation and throughout the entire winter made no hostile
demonstrations toward them except when they came about the cabin. From
this visit the whole tribe became aware that we were friendly, and
within a very short time the very best feeling prevailed.

Their only means of subsistence was the game they killed, and as they
had no weapons but bows and arrows it required almost constant effort
upon the part of the bucks to keep the tribe supplied with food. They
were very clever in their methods and would bring in game when white
men under such circumstances would have failed entirely. One of their
favorite plans was this: Fifty or more would mount their ponies and
make a wide circle, driving always toward Cottonwood Creek. The banks
of this stream were very steep and there were but few crossing places.
The antelope on becoming alarmed would start for these crossings, and
as they passed down the narrow gulches, other Indians with bows and
arrows waylaid them from behind rocks and brush, and shot them down.
They did wonders with their bows and arrows, but many antelope passed
through without being touched. Others, though wounded, escaped.

We soon began to join in these hunts, and I have from my station
behind a rock at one of these crossings killed as many as fifteen
antelope in a single hunt. I was an expert with the navy in those days
and rarely missed a shot. I always gave them every one to the Indians,
as neither Curl nor I cared for antelope meat, and they were, of
course, greatly pleased and regarded us both with our skill and navies
as fortunate acquisitions, and we lost nothing by our kindness to them.

We had a hundred and sixteen head of cattle and four horses. The
Indians had about two hundred ponies. All herded and grazed together
in that valley for four months. When the Indians left in the spring we
rounded up our cattle and found every one of them.

About the first of May, 1866, we moved our cattle over on Indian
Creek, about forty miles north. There was a little mining town near
and we set up a butcher shop, furnishing our own beeves to it. The
town was not large enough to enable us to do much business and, after
two months, we moved to Helena, another mining town, but larger
than the first. At that time Virginia City was the capital of the
territory. By the first of September we had disposed of all our cattle
one way or another and were ready for something else.

While we were deciding what next to do, Brother William and his family
arrived in Helena. I had not seen him for six years--since he and
Brother Zack left me at home in 1860 to care for father while they
went back to California to look after the cattle. I had heard little
from our ranch and our cattle in California, but was hardly prepared
to learn that war times had been so bad there. From William I learned
that great lawlessness prevailed in California and that our cattle
had been shot and driven away and that long before the war was over
William and Zack had nothing left but their families. They went to
Idaho and mined a while, and then on to Montana. While in Idaho,
Brother James, who had escaped from prison in St. Louis--and a death
sentence also--had managed to join them with his family. James and
Zack had bought a drove of cattle and had them in another portion of
Montana, so William, Curl and I decided to come home.


_The Return to Missouri._

It was too late in the fall when this decision was reached to make
the trip by land, and we began to look about for an opportunity to go
by the river. Two men were fitting up a flat boat at Fort Benton, a
hundred miles down the river from Helena. We all--William, his wife
and little daughter, Curl and myself got in William's two-horse wagon
and made our way over to Fort Benton. There were no white people
living between the two places, and we were told that it was not safe
to attempt the journey, as the Indians had killed and robbed many
persons on that road. We were too well acquainted with Indians to be
much afraid of them, so we decided to go. We saw no Indians, but I was
robbed one night. William and his family slept in the wagon, Curl and
I under it. One night a coyote slipped up and stole a sack of venison
from under the back part of my pillow. That was the second experience
of that kind. The other, which I think I have related, happened years
before in California.

When I left with Turner at St. Joseph I was on the west side of the
Missouri River. When I reached Fort Benton I was on the east side, and
that was the first time I had seen the river since I had left it at
St. Joseph. I had gone entirely around it.

The boat that was being rigged out was a curious affair. It had
no steam, no sails and no oars--just a flat bottomed scow with a
rudder--designed to float with the current. The only equipment for
navigation besides the rudder was a number of long poles to be used in
aiding the boat off of sand bars. About two-thirds of the floor space
of the boat was housed in by stretching dry raw hides two deep over
a heavy frame work, leaving port holes at convenient places through
which our guns could be directed at the Indians in case of attack. The
boat was built by Sloan and Parcell, two men from Iowa, and they were
very proud of their craft.

When everything was ready, fifty passengers got aboard, including two
families, and the cable was cut. The current was swift and we went
down at a gait so rapid that it was almost alarming, but we soon grew
accustomed to it. While in the mountains we frequently came to shoals
and riffles over which the boat dashed at a speed that turned us
dizzy, but we had to stay with it and trust to the man at the rudder
to keep her straight ahead.

At the mouth of the Yellowstone, we passed a tribe of Indians in camp.
The boat drifted around a little curve and up within forty yards of
the bank on which the camp was situated before we noticed them. They
were more surprised, I think, than we, for they stood looking until
we passed entirely out of sight. It snowed all that day, and next
morning we were drifting through mushy ice which sometimes threatened
to squeeze our boat. We were in constant fear of a gorge and tried
several times to reach the shore and land, but could not get through
the ice. Had our boat encountered a gorge it is probable that the
whole crew would have been drowned. Late in the afternoon a south wind
began to blow and in a few hours the river was nearly clear. This was
a great relief.

We had calculated on reaching St. Joseph in a month and had laid in
provisions accordingly. When we struck the Bad Lands the current of
the river became so sluggish that we could scarcely perceive that we
were traveling. We had plenty of flour, but no meat, so every now and
then, slow as we were going, we had to tie up and get out and kill a
deer or an antelope. Sometimes this required a good deal of time, as
our luck in hunting was bad. The current got so slow and the prospects
of getting into swifter water looked so bad, that we rigged up a set
of oars out of long cottonwood poles cut on the banks and flattened.
With these we set the men at work by turns, two to each oar, night and
day and made much better progress. I think if we had waited for the
current we should not have reached home before June of the next year.
When we reached Yankton we got additional supplies and finally reached
Sioux City, where we found an opportunity to take the stage to Omaha,
and did so. At Omaha we got a steamboat to St. Joseph, and reached
home late in October, two months and a half out of Fort Benton.

I found conditions in Missouri much better than when I left. The war
was really over. The militia had all been discharged and there was
now no longer any excuse for killing and robbing men. After such
a long period of lawlessness it required some time, of course, to
reduce everything to order and to secure a rigid enforcement of the
law, but I was surprised and gratified at the progress that had been
made. I passed a very pleasant winter with relatives and friends,
and it began to look like I would be able to settle down and live in
peace. There were those in the community who were disappointed with
the results of the war to themselves because they had expected to get
possession of the land belonging to Confederate soldiers. In fact, our
negroes told me during the war that certain men had said the Gibson
boys could never come back to this country, and they intended to get
their land. Of course, my presence at home with every prospect of
remaining naturally displeased those who had designs upon my land and
that which belonged to my brothers, and I could hardly hope to remain
unmolested--especially as all the public officials were ready to give
willing ear to every report against me.

About the first of March, after I had lived publicly and peaceably
in my home community and in St. Joseph all winter, a man named Joe
Lemons, who was the tool of other men whom I knew, swore out a warrant
charging me with stealing his horse during the war. As soon as I heard
the warrant was out my blood went up to the old war heat, but I said
nothing. I made no attempt to escape or to conceal myself, but went
about my business. A few days later I had business in St. Joseph and
went up as usual, determined to have no trouble if I could avoid it.
I was standing in front of Nave and McCord's wholesale grocery house,
talking to my brother Isaac, when Phelps, a deputy sheriff, came up
and asked me if my name was Jim Gibson. I told him my name was John
Gibson. He then said, "I guess I have got a writ for you." I said,
"Have you? Let's hear it." He had a heavy shawl or blanket around
his shoulders, such as men wore in those days. His hands were both
concealed beneath the shawl, and when I asked to hear the writ he
drew his left hand with the writ in it from under his shawl and in so
doing moved the shawl from over his right hand and I saw that he held
a six-shooter with that hand. I did not move or make any attempt to
resist him, but stood until he, trembling like a leaf, had read the
writ. When he had finished, I waited for him to say what should be
done next, but he stood some moments greatly embarrassed, and said
nothing. Finally I said, "Well, what about it?" His courage then came
to him sufficiently for him to say: "You will have to go to the court
house with me." I said, "all right," and turned and asked brother
Isaac to go along with me. We started to the court house and just
then old Fish, the sheriff, came galloping up with his big spurs on
his heels and jumped off his horse. He blustered up and slapped me on
the shoulder and said, "you d----d horse thief----give up your arms."
I put my hand on his breast and shoved him off the sidewalk, and in
stepping off the curbstone he fell. He got up and he and Phelps stood
looking at me. I did not say "what about it" any more, but started on
toward the court house. When I had got about ten steps away Fish said
to Phelps, "Why don't you shoot him?" Phelps said he did not want to
kill anybody and Fish then said, "Give me the gun, I will shoot him."
With that he snatched the gun from Phelps and pointed it at me. I
jerked my gun from my side and leveled it at him. He lowered his gun
instantly and I turned and walked on. Fish then began to yell, "Catch
him! Catch him!" keeping all the time a good, safe distance behind.
He followed me to Edmond Street, all the time keeping up his yell and
by that time he had raised half the town, it seemed to me. Everybody,
policemen and all, ran out to see what was the trouble with old Fish.
I passed on up Edmond Street and came to a man with a stick of wood
in his hand. He raised it and told me to stop. I told him to drop his
stick and not to bother me. He obeyed and I walked on. I turned on
Fourth Street and went into a feed stable, and through it to an alley,
and then around to the south side of the stable. No one was near me
and I stopped. I had stood but an instant when a brother of Phelps,
the deputy sheriff, came running toward me. I drew my gun and asked
him what he wanted. He turned and ran. There was a board fence about
five feet high in front of him. He sprang up on it on his breast and
turned a somersault over it into the alley and struck the ground flat
on his back. I had to laugh at the frightened fool and that put me in
a better humor. I went to Fourth Street and went into the back door of
a barber shop. The front door was closed, but there was a great throng
standing outside and Fish was still yelling. The crowd was quiet and
orderly. I had been in the shop a few minutes when I heard some one
say, "Don't go in there, that man will shoot you!" Another man said,
"If you will go in I will go with you?" At that time I did not intend
to hurt anyone and if Fish had let me alone I would have been at the
court house, for I knew there was no case against me. But just as the
conversation I have related took place Fish and his man jumped in at
the back door, Fish with his navy cocked and pointed at my breast.
He called out in a loud voice, "Now, you d----d horse thief----give
up your arms!" That was too much for me to take a second time. The
last word was not out of his mouth until the muzzle of my six-shooter
was against his neck and hell was blazing inside of me. I pulled the
trigger, the cap burst with loud noise but the gun, for the first time
in my experience with it, failed to go. Fish thought he was shot and
fell backward out at the door. Three policemen entering by the front
door came up behind and grabbed me and took my guns away from me. By
this time Fish had come to himself and jumped back in the back door
and shot at me. I knocked the muzzle of the gun up and the ball went
into the ceiling. My little finger hit the end of the gun just as it
was discharged and the ball grazed the flesh off down to the bone. A
policeman caught Fish and pushed him back and said, "Nobody but a d----d
coward would shoot a prisoner."

Fish and his brave deputies then formed a procession and started me
off to the court house. Phelps, to whom I had really surrendered on
the reading of the writ, and who I think understood all along that
there would have been no trouble but for Fish's insulting bluster,
led me by the arm. Fish walked behind with my two navies--one in each
hand, and one other deputy loaded down with guns rode Fish's horse by
my side. Another deputy, whose name I will not mention, an old school
mate of mine, remained far behind, thinking, I suppose, that I had
not seen him. I had met him on Felix Street a half hour before Phelps
presented the writ to me and as soon as Phelps came up I knew where
he had received information that I was in town. This deputy knew that
I would not resist arrest if treated with anything like decency, and
might have had me go with him to the court house upon his request
even without a writ, but this method did not suit the bragging,
make-believe methods of the men who were vainly trying to convince the
community of their bravery.

As the procession moved with the desperate man up Fifth Street,
attracting the attention of everybody, greatly to the satisfaction of
the brave fellows who had made the capture, I said to Phelps, that he
need not hold my arm as I would not attempt to run. Fish, who heard
the remark, said to Phelps, "Turn him loose and let him run." I halted
and turned to Fish and said, "If you will give me one of my navies I
will run!" I would have done exactly what I said, and Fish knew it, I
think, for he would not give me the gun. I had no idea he would accept
my challenge, but I stopped his pretense at bravery and showed him to
be exactly the coward that he was.

When we reached the office, Fish, who was an old-timer at the
business, went through my pockets. He knew just where to lay his hand
to get my money and took from my inside vest pocket eighty dollars in
greenbacks, but before he did this he made my brother leave the office
so he could not see how much money he took from me. After getting my
money he turned me into the jail and locked me in a cold cell without
fire or blankets. I lay on the cold rocks and shivered all night with
my finger bleeding on me.

Next day was a busy one for Fish. My friends came in by the dozen to
see me and Fish would not let them talk to me through the hole in
the wall out of his presence, so they kept him standing by most of
the day to hear what was said. My old friend Curl came in. He asked
me if I wanted to get out. I told him I thought I would get out in
a short time. Curl said, "If you want out today I will go and get
enough men to take you out." Fish did not open his mouth, but I told
Curl I thought I had better wait and give bond. Shortly after that
Judge Parker, who stood in with Fish, fixed my bond at twenty thousand
dollars, thinking, I suppose, that I could not give it and that I
would have to lie in jail until my trial came off. They were mistaken
in this. I gave the twenty thousand bond--and could have given a
hundred thousand as well--and was released. I walked down town and
presently met Fish. He ran up and shook hands with me as though he was
greatly pleased to see me, and said, "I thought you had gone." I said,
"No, this is my home and I intend to remain here." I never saw Fish
after that that he did not go out of his way to speak to me and shake
hands with me. I knew his object was to make fair weather with me, but
he had nothing to fear. I was over my anger and would not have harmed
a hair of his head so long as he did not provoke me as he had done on
the day of my arrest.

After meeting Fish I went on, and on Third Street I met two policemen.
They asked me to go into a saloon and have a drink. I went in and
took a toddy and while there one of them slipped a Colt's navy in my
hand and told me to protect myself. I felt much safer with such and
old acquaintance with me, for I did not know when some of my old war
enemies might undertake to make trouble for me.

Two indictments were pending against me--one for horse stealing and
one for an assault upon Fish with intent to kill. I went about my
affairs until court convened. On the morning the case was called Fish
and Lemons were both present. I went in and sat down very close to
them and where I could look directly in their faces. Neither of them
would look at me, but kept their eyes upon the floor or wandering
about the court room. My counsel, Judge Tutt, took a change of venue
and the cases were sent to Platte City.

Judge Parker gave me an order upon Fish for my money and my guns.
Brother William, who had returned from the west, went with me to get
them. We got the money and one gun. Fish said the other gun had been
taken to Easton by one of his deputies and that he would get it for us
later. In a few days William and I went back for the other gun and on
our way to the court house met Fish, hurrying away to catch a train,
so he said. When we asked him about the gun he said he would not stop
to talk to us as he was in a great hurry. William told him he would
stop, that he came for that gun and intended to have it. Fish insisted
that he did not have time to get it for us. William said, "time or no
time, we will have that gun and have it now!" So we turned him round
and marched him to the court house and got the navy and told him he
might then go to his train.

Court convened in Platte City in May. I felt sure that neither Fish
nor Lemons would appear against me. Fish had said that he had found
a man that would shoot and that he had taken desperate chances in
attempting to arrest me. I knew he was afraid of his shadow and that
Platte County was the scene of many of his misdeeds during the war. As
for Lemons, and the horse stealing charge, I felt equally sure there
would be no prosecution, but on the day court convened I went down
prepared for trial. I reached Platte City the day before the case was
to be called. I met the sheriff of that county and told him about my
case. He asked me who the sheriff of Buchanan County was, and when
I told him he said Fish would never come to Platte County; that he
had done too much mischief there during the war, hanging and robbing
gray-haired men.

Next morning when court opened I walked inside the bar and directly
in front of the judge. No one knew me. The judge opened his docket
and commenced calling over the cases. In a few moments he called my
case and no one answered. He called the second time and I arose and
said, "the defendant is present and ready for trial." "Where is he?"
asked the judge. "I am the man," said I. The judge then asked where my
counsel was. I told him I had none; that Judge Tutt of St. Joseph had
promised to look after my cases, but he had not yet arrived. The judge
then told the sheriff to go to the front door and call the prosecuting
witnesses three times. The sheriff did so but no one answered. The
cases were dismissed and I was released from my heavy bonds and went
out of the court room a free man, much to the satisfaction of my good
friends, Matt Evans, Bennett Reece, Ham Ray, Tom Finch and others who
had gone along as witnesses.

The cases were dismissed in May, 1867. I came home from Platte City
and from that day to this have never heard of them. Lemons said his
horse was taken from the stable at twelve o'clock, broad daylight. The
truth is that at ten o'clock the night before he claimed his horse was
taken, and while I was not in the country, that same man, with others,
led away from my place eleven head of horses and mules and no member
of my family ever saw them again. I never thought of calling them to
account for it. It was war times, and, after the war was over, I felt
too thankful to have escaped with my life ever to attempt to hold the
conduct of any man during that period against him.

I went to work at whatever I could find to do to make an honest
living. All my toil and hardship on the plains, by which I had
accumulated a comfortable fortune before the war, had been spent in
vain, and I had to begin anew and under very trying conditions. I
asked nothing but to be let alone, and it now looked as if this wish
of my heart might be gratified.

In a short time my prospects were much improved, and on the 25th day
of August, 1868, I was married. Since that time I have, aside from a
few months spent in Colorado during the early eighties, farmed and
dealt in cattle in Missouri and Nebraska. I own the farm on which I
live, have reared my children to maturity, and educated them as best
I could, and, though often lonely when I think of my brothers and
companions of earlier years, I am, in spite of my eighty-three years,
enjoying good health and the added blessing of many friends.


       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes

The Table of Contents was not in the original book but has been added
for convenience. Minor punctuation typos have been silently corrected.
Retained some spelling and hyphenation variations such as Zach/Zack
and breast-works/breastworks.

Page 59: Changed "Hedgepath's" to "Hedgepeth's."
  (Orig: called Hedgepath's cut-off, and the South road to Salt Lake)

Page 69: "we" may be a typo for "he."
  (Orig: and we wanted to take the body back home.)

Page 95: "Sierre" may be a typo for "Sierra."
  (Orig: up Carson River and over the Sierre Nevada mountains)

Page 159: Changed "surrnder" to "surrender."
  (Orig: detachment detailed to come and receive the surrnder)

Page 160: Changed "fequently" to "frequently."
  (Orig: my sister, whom I have fequently mentioned.)

Page 162: Changed "bue" to "but."
  (Orig: bue the enemy were not acquainted with the by paths)

Page 188: Changed "capturned" to "captured."
  (Orig: the fate of Charley Pullins who was capturned)

Page 206: Changed "vension" to "venison."
  (Orig: a coyote slipped up and stole a sack of vension)

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