The Oregon Trail
Francis Parkman, Jr.

Part 6 out of 7

covered with a shaggy bearskin, and furnished with a pair of wooden
stirrups of most preposterous size. The next man was a sprightly,
active little fellow, about five feet and a quarter high, but very
strong and compact. His face was swarthy as a Mexican's and covered
with a close, curly black beard. An old greasy calico handkerchief
was tied round his head, and his close buckskin dress was blackened
and polished by grease and hard service. The last who came up was a
large strong man, dressed in the coarse homespun of the frontiers,
who dragged his long limbs over the ground as if he were too lazy for
the effort. He had a sleepy gray eye, a retreating chin, an open
mouth and a protruding upper lip, which gave him an air of exquisite
indolence and helplessness. He was armed with an old United States
yager, which redoubtable weapon, though he could never hit his mark
with it, he was accustomed to cherish as the very sovereign of

The first two men belonged to a party who had just come from
California with a large band of horses, which they had disposed of at
Bent's Fort. Munroe, the taller of the two, was from Iowa. He was
an excellent fellow, open, warm-hearted and intelligent. Jim Gurney,
the short man, was a Boston sailor, who had come in a trading vessel
to California, and taken the fancy to return across the continent.
The journey had already made him an expert "mountain man," and he
presented the extraordinary phenomenon of a sailor who understood how
to manage a horse. The third of our visitors named Ellis, was a
Missourian, who had come out with a party of Oregon emigrants, but
having got as far as Bridge's Fort, he had fallen home-sick, or as
Jim averred, love-sick--and Ellis was just the man to be balked in a
love adventure. He thought proper to join the California men and
return homeward in their company.

They now requested that they might unite with our party, and make the
journey to the settlements in company with us. We readily assented,
for we liked the appearance of the first two men, and were very glad
to gain so efficient a re-enforcement. We told them to meet us on
the next evening at a spot on the river side, about six miles below
the fort. Having smoked a pipe together, our new allies left us, and
we lay down to sleep.



The next morning, having directed Delorier to repair with his cart to
the place of meeting, we came again to the fort to make some
arrangements for the journey. After completing these we sat down
under a sort of perch, to smoke with some Cheyenne Indians whom we
found there. In a few minutes we saw an extraordinary little figure
approach us in a military dress. He had a small, round countenance,
garnished about the eyes with the kind of wrinkles commonly known as
crow's feet and surrounded by an abundant crop of red curls, with a
little cap resting on the top of them. Altogether, he had the look
of a man more conversant with mint juleps and oyster suppers than
with the hardships of prairie service. He came up to us and
entreated that we would take him home to the settlements, saying that
unless he went with us he should have to stay all winter at the fort.
We liked our petitioner's appearance so little that we excused
ourselves from complying with his request. At this he begged us so
hard to take pity on him, looked so disconsolate, and told so
lamentable a story that at last we consented, though not without many

The rugged Anglo-Saxon of our new recruit's real name proved utterly
unmanageable on the lips of our French attendants, and Henry
Chatillon, after various abortive attempts to pronounce it, one day
coolly christened him Tete Rouge, in honor of his red curls. He had
at different times been clerk of a Mississippi steamboat, and agent
in a trading establishment at Nauvoo, besides filling various other
capacities, in all of which he had seen much more of "life" than was
good for him. In the spring, thinking that a summer's campaign would
be an agreeable recreation, he had joined a company of St. Louis

"There were three of us," said Tete Rouge, "me and Bill Stevens and
John Hopkins. We thought we would just go out with the army, and
when we had conquered the country, we would get discharged and take
our pay, you know, and go down to Mexico. They say there is plenty
of fun going on there. Then we could go back to New Orleans by way
of Vera Cruz."

But Tete Rouge, like many a stouter volunteer, had reckoned without
his host. Fighting Mexicans was a less amusing occupation than he
had supposed, and his pleasure trip was disagreeably interrupted by
brain fever, which attacked him when about halfway to Bent's Fort.
He jolted along through the rest of the journey in a baggage wagon.
When they came to the fort he was taken out and left there, together
with the rest of the sick. Bent's Fort does not supply the best
accommodations for an invalid. Tete Rouge's sick chamber was a
little mud room, where he and a companion attacked by the same
disease were laid together, with nothing but a buffalo robe between
them and the ground. The assistant surgeon's deputy visited them
once a day and brought them each a huge dose of calomel, the only
medicine, according to his surviving victim, which he was acquainted

Tete Rouge woke one morning, and turning to his companion, saw his
eyes fixed upon the beams above with the glassy stare of a dead man.
At this the unfortunate volunteer lost his senses outright. In spite
of the doctor, however, he eventually recovered; though between the
brain fever and the calomel, his mind, originally none of the
strongest, was so much shaken that it had not quite recovered its
balance when we came to the fort. In spite of the poor fellow's
tragic story, there was something so ludicrous in his appearance, and
the whimsical contrast between his military dress and his most
unmilitary demeanor, that we could not help smiling at them. We
asked him if he had a gun. He said they had taken it from him during
his illness, and he had not seen it since; "but perhaps," he
observed, looking at me with a beseeching air, "you will lend me one
of your big pistols if we should meet with any Indians." I next
inquired if he had a horse; he declared he had a magnificent one, and
at Shaw's request a Mexican led him in for inspection. He exhibited
the outline of a good horse, but his eyes were sunk in the sockets,
and every one of his ribs could be counted. There were certain marks
too about his shoulders, which could be accounted for by the
circumstance, that during Tete Rouge's illness, his companions had
seized upon the insulted charger, and harnessed him to a cannon along
with the draft horses. To Tete Rouge's astonishment we recommended
him by all means to exchange the horse, if he could, for a mule.
Fortunately the people at the fort were so anxious to get rid of him
that they were willing to make some sacrifice to effect the object,
and he succeeded in getting a tolerable mule in exchange for the
broken-down steed.

A man soon appeared at the gate, leading in the mule by a cord which
he placed in the hands of Tete Rouge, who, being somewhat afraid of
his new acquisition, tried various flatteries and blandishments to
induce her to come forward. The mule, knowing that she was expected
to advance, stopped short in consequence, and stood fast as a rock,
looking straight forward with immovable composure. Being stimulated
by a blow from behind she consented to move, and walked nearly to the
other side of the fort before she stopped again. Hearing the by-
standers laugh, Tete Rouge plucked up spirit and tugged hard at the
rope. The mule jerked backward, spun herself round, and made a dash
for the gate. Tete Rouge, who clung manfully to the rope, went
whisking through the air for a few rods, when he let go and stood
with his mouth open, staring after the mule, who galloped away over
the prairie. She was soon caught and brought back by a Mexican, who
mounted a horse and went in pursuit of her with his lasso.

Having thus displayed his capacity for prairie travel, Tete Rouge
proceeded to supply himself with provisions for the journey, and with
this view he applied to a quartermaster's assistant who was in the
fort. This official had a face as sour as vinegar, being in a state
of chronic indignation because he had been left behind the army. He
was as anxious as the rest to get rid of Tete Rouge. So, producing a
rusty key, he opened a low door which led to a half-subterranean
apartment, into which the two disappeared together. After some time
they came out again, Tete Rouge greatly embarrassed by a multiplicity
of paper parcels containing the different articles of his forty days'
rations. They were consigned to the care of Delorier, who about that
time passed by with the cart on his way to the appointed place of
meeting with Munroe and his companions.

We next urged Tete Rouge to provide himself, if he could, with a gun.
He accordingly made earnest appeals to the charity of various persons
in the fort, but totally without success, a circumstance which did
not greatly disturb us, since in the event of a skirmish he would be
much more apt to do mischief to himself or his friends than to the
enemy. When all these arrangements were completed we saddled our
horses and were preparing to leave the fort, when looking round we
discovered that our new associate was in fresh trouble. A man was
holding the mule for him in the middle of the fort, while he tried to
put the saddle on her back, but she kept stepping sideways and moving
round and round in a circle until he was almost in despair. It
required some assistance before all his difficulties could be
overcome. At length he clambered into the black war saddle on which
he was to have carried terror into the ranks of the Mexicans.

"Get up," said Tete Rouge, "come now, go along, will you."

The mule walked deliberately forward out of the gate. Her recent
conduct had inspired him with so much awe that he never dared to
touch her with his whip. We trotted forward toward the place of
meeting, but before he had gone far we saw that Tete Rouge's mule,
who perfectly understood her rider, had stopped and was quietly
grazing, in spite of his protestations, at some distance behind. So
getting behind him, we drove him and the contumacious mule before us,
until we could see through the twilight the gleaming of a distant
fire. Munroe, Jim, and Ellis were lying around it; their saddles,
packs, and weapons were scattered about and their horses picketed
near them. Delorier was there too with our little cart. Another
fire was soon blazing high. We invited our new allies to take a cup
of coffee with us. When both the others had gone over to their side
of the camp, Jim Gurney still stood by the blaze, puffing hard at his
little black pipe, as short and weather-beaten as himself.

"Well!" he said, "here are eight of us; we'll call it six--for them
two boobies, Ellis over yonder, and that new man of yours, won't
count for anything. We'll get through well enough, never fear for
that, unless the Comanches happen to get foul of us."



We began our journey for the frontier settlements on the 27th of
August, and certainly a more ragamuffin cavalcade never was seen on
the banks of the Upper Arkansas. Of the large and fine horses with
which we had left the frontier in the spring, not one remained; we
had supplied their place with the rough breed of the prairie, as
hardy as mules and almost as ugly; we had also with us a number of
the latter detestable animals. In spite of their strength and
hardihood, several of the band were already worn down by hard service
and hard fare, and as none of them were shod, they were fast becoming
foot-sore. Every horse and mule had a cord of twisted bull-hide
coiled around his neck, which by no means added to the beauty of his
appearance. Our saddles and all our equipments were by this time
lamentably worn and battered, and our weapons had become dull and
rusty. The dress of the riders fully corresponded with the
dilapidated furniture of our horses, and of the whole party none made
a more disreputable appearance than my friend and I. Shaw had for an
upper garment an old red flannel shirt, flying open in front and
belted around him like a frock; while I, in absence of other
clothing, was attired in a time-worn suit of leather.

Thus, happy and careless as so many beggars, we crept slowly from day
to day along the monotonous banks of the Arkansas. Tete Rouge gave
constant trouble, for he could never catch his mule, saddle her, or
indeed do anything else without assistance. Every day he had some
new ailment, real or imaginary, to complain of. At one moment he
would be woebegone and disconsolate, and the next he would be visited
with a violent flow of spirits, to which he could only give vent by
incessant laughing, whistling, and telling stories. When other
resources failed, we used to amuse ourselves by tormenting him; a
fair compensation for the trouble he cost us. Tete Rouge rather
enjoyed being laughed at, for he was an odd compound of weakness,
eccentricity, and good-nature. He made a figure worthy of a painter
as he paced along before us, perched on the back of his mule, and
enveloped in a huge buffalo-robe coat, which some charitable person
had given him at the fort. This extraordinary garment, which would
have contained two men of his size, he chose, for some reason best
known to himself, to wear inside out, and he never took it off, even
in the hottest weather. It was fluttering all over with seams and
tatters, and the hide was so old and rotten that it broke out every
day in a new place. Just at the top of it a large pile of red curls
was visible, with his little cap set jauntily upon one side, to give
him a military air. His seat in the saddle was no less remarkable
than his person and equipment. He pressed one leg close against his
mule's side, and thrust the other out at an angle of 45 degrees. His
pantaloons were decorated with a military red stripe, of which he was
extremely vain; but being much too short, the whole length of his
boots was usually visible below them. His blanket, loosely rolled up
into a large bundle, dangled at the back of his saddle, where he
carried it tied with a string. Four or five times a day it would
fall to the ground. Every few minutes he would drop his pipe, his
knife, his flint and steel, or a piece of tobacco, and have to
scramble down to pick them up. In doing this he would contrive to
get in everybody's way; and as the most of the party were by no means
remarkable for a fastidious choice of language, a storm of anathemas
would be showered upon him, half in earnest and half in jest, until
Tete Rouge would declare that there was no comfort in life, and that
he never saw such fellows before.

Only a day or two after leaving Bent's Fort Henry Chatillon rode
forward to hunt, and took Ellis along with him. After they had been
some time absent we saw them coming down the hill, driving three
dragoon-horses, which had escaped from their owners on the march, or
perhaps had given out and been abandoned. One of them was in
tolerable condition, but the others were much emaciated and severely
bitten by the wolves. Reduced as they were we carried two of them to
the settlements, and Henry exchanged the third with the Arapahoes for
an excellent mule.

On the day after, when we had stopped to rest at noon, a long train
of Santa Fe wagons came up and trailed slowly past us in their
picturesque procession. They belonged to a trader named Magoffin,
whose brother, with a number of other men, came over and sat down
around us on the grass. The news they brought was not of the most
pleasing complexion. According to their accounts, the trail below
was in a very dangerous state. They had repeatedly detected Indians
prowling at night around their camps; and the large party which had
left Bent's Fort a few weeks previous to our own departure had been
attacked, and a man named Swan, from Massachusetts, had been killed.
His companions had buried the body; but when Magoffin found his
grave, which was near a place called the Caches, the Indians had dug
up and scalped him, and the wolves had shockingly mangled his
remains. As an offset to this intelligence, they gave us the welcome
information that the buffalo were numerous at a few days' journey

On the next afternoon, as we moved along the bank of the river, we
saw the white tops of wagons on the horizon. It was some hours
before we met them, when they proved to be a train of clumsy ox-
wagons, quite different from the rakish vehicles of the Santa Fe
traders, and loaded with government stores for the troops. They all
stopped, and the drivers gathered around us in a crowd. I thought
that the whole frontier might have been ransacked in vain to furnish
men worse fitted to meet the dangers of the prairie. Many of them
were mere boys, fresh from the plow, and devoid of knowledge and
experience. In respect to the state of the trail, they confirmed all
that the Santa Fe men had told us. In passing between the Pawnee
Fork and the Caches, their sentinels had fired every night at real or
imaginary Indians. They said also that Ewing, a young Kentuckian in
the party that had gone down before us, had shot an Indian who was
prowling at evening about the camp. Some of them advised us to turn
back, and others to hasten forward as fast as we could; but they all
seemed in such a state of feverish anxiety, and so little capable of
cool judgment, that we attached slight weight to what they said.
They next gave us a more definite piece of intelligence; a large
village of Arapahoes was encamped on the river below. They
represented them to be quite friendly; but some distinction was to be
made between a party of thirty men, traveling with oxen, which are of
no value in an Indian's eyes and a mere handful like ourselves, with
a tempting band of mules and horses. This story of the Arapahoes
therefore caused us some anxiety.

Just after leaving the government wagons, as Shaw and I were riding
along a narrow passage between the river bank and a rough hill that
pressed close upon it, we heard Tete Rouge's voice behind us.
"Hallo!" he called out; "I say, stop the cart just for a minute, will

"What's the matter, Tete?" asked Shaw, as he came riding up to us
with a grin of exultation. He had a bottle of molasses in one hand,
and a large bundle of hides on the saddle before him, containing, as
he triumphantly informed us, sugar, biscuits, coffee, and rice.
These supplies he had obtained by a stratagem on which he greatly
plumed himself, and he was extremely vexed and astonished that we did
not fall in with his views of the matter. He had told Coates, the
master-wagoner, that the commissary at the fort had given him an
order for sick-rations, directed to the master of any government
train which he might meet upon the road. This order he had
unfortunately lost, but he hoped that the rations would not be
refused on that account, as he was suffering from coarse fare and
needed them very much. As soon as he came to camp that night Tete
Rouge repaired to the box at the back of the cart, where Delorier
used to keep his culinary apparatus, took possession of a saucepan,
and after building a little fire of his own, set to work preparing a
meal out of his ill-gotten booty. This done, he seized on a tin
plate and spoon, and sat down under the cart to regale himself. His
preliminary repast did not at all prejudice his subsequent exertions
at supper; where, in spite of his miniature dimensions, he made a
better figure than any of us. Indeed, about this time his appetite
grew quite voracious. He began to thrive wonderfully. His small
body visibly expanded, and his cheeks, which when we first took him
were rather yellow and cadaverous, now dilated in a wonderful manner,
and became ruddy in proportion. Tete Rouge, in short, began to
appear like another man.

Early in the afternoon of the next day, looking along the edge of the
horizon in front, we saw that at one point it was faintly marked with
pale indentations, like the teeth of a saw. The lodges of the
Arapahoes, rising between us and the sky, caused this singular
appearance. It wanted still two or three hours of sunset when we
came opposite their camp. There were full two hundred lodges
standing in the midst of a grassy meadow at some distance beyond the
river, while for a mile around and on either bank of the Arkansas
were scattered some fifteen hundred horses and mules grazing together
in bands, or wandering singly about the prairie. The whole were
visible at once, for the vast expanse was unbroken by hills, and
there was not a tree or a bush to intercept the view.

Here and there walked an Indian, engaged in watching the horses. No
sooner did we see them than Tete Rouge begged Delorier to stop the
cart and hand him his little military jacket, which was stowed away
there. In this he instantly invested himself, having for once laid
the old buffalo coat aside, assumed a most martial posture in the
saddle, set his cap over his left eye with an air of defiance, and
earnestly entreated that somebody would lend him a gun or a pistol
only for half an hour. Being called upon to explain these remarkable
proceedings, Tete Rouge observed that he knew from experience what
effect the presence of a military man in his uniform always had upon
the mind of an Indian, and he thought the Arapahoes ought to know
that there was a soldier in the party.

Meeting Arapahoes here on the Arkansas was a very different thing
from meeting the same Indians among their native mountains. There
was another circumstance in our favor. General Kearny had seen them
a few weeks before, as he came up the river with his army, and
renewing his threats of the previous year, he told them that if they
ever again touched the hair of a white man's head he would
exterminate their nation. This placed them for the time in an
admirable frame of mind, and the effect of his menaces had not yet
disappeared. I was anxious to see the village and its inhabitants.
We thought it also our best policy to visit them openly, as if
unsuspicious of any hostile design; and Shaw and I, with Henry
Chatillon, prepared to cross the river. The rest of the party
meanwhile moved forward as fast as they could, in order to get as far
as possible from our suspicious neighbors before night came on.

The Arkansas at this point, and for several hundred miles below, is
nothing but a broad sand-bed, over which a few scanty threads of
water are swiftly gliding, now and then expanding into wide shallows.
At several places, during the autumn, the water sinks into the sand
and disappears altogether. At this season, were it not for the
numerous quicksands, the river might be forded almost anywhere
without difficulty, though its channel is often a quarter of a mile
wide. Our horses jumped down the bank, and wading through the water,
or galloping freely over the hard sand-beds, soon reached the other
side. Here, as we were pushing through the tall grass, we saw
several Indians not far off; one of them waited until we came up, and
stood for some moments in perfect silence before us, looking at us
askance with his little snakelike eyes. Henry explained by signs
what we wanted, and the Indian, gathering his buffalo robe about his
shoulders, led the way toward the village without speaking a word.

The language of the Arapahoes is so difficult, and its pronunciations
so harsh and guttural, that no white man, it is said, has ever been
able to master it. Even Maxwell the trader, who has been most among
them, is compelled to resort to the curious sign language common to
most of the prairie tribes. With this Henry Chatillon was perfectly

Approaching the village, we found the ground all around it strewn
with great piles of waste buffalo meat in incredible quantities. The
lodges were pitched in a very wide circle. They resembled those of
the Dakota in everything but cleanliness and neatness. Passing
between two of them, we entered the great circular area of the camp,
and instantly hundreds of Indians, men, women and children, came
flocking out of their habitations to look at us; at the same time,
the dogs all around the village set up a fearful baying. Our Indian
guide walked toward the lodge of the chief. Here we dismounted; and
loosening the trail-ropes from our horses' necks, held them securely,
and sat down before the entrance, with our rifles laid across our
laps. The chief came out and shook us by the hand. He was a mean-
looking fellow, very tall, thin-visaged, and sinewy, like the rest of
the nation, and with scarcely a vestige of clothing. We had not been
seated half a minute before a multitude of Indians came crowding
around us from every part of the village, and we were shut in by a
dense wall of savage faces. Some of the Indians crouched around us
on the ground; others again sat behind them; others, stooping, looked
over their heads; while many more stood crowded behind, stretching
themselves upward, and peering over each other's shoulders, to get a
view of us. I looked in vain among this multitude of faces to
discover one manly or generous expression; all were wolfish,
sinister, and malignant, and their complexions, as well as their
features, unlike those of the Dakota, were exceedingly bad. The
chief, who sat close to the entrance, called to a squaw within the
lodge, who soon came out and placed a wooden bowl of meat before us.
To our surprise, however, no pipe was offered. Having tasted of the
meat as a matter of form, I began to open a bundle of presents--
tobacco, knives, vermilion, and other articles which I had brought
with me. At this there was a grin on every countenance in the
rapacious crowd; their eyes began to glitter, and long thin arms were
eagerly stretched toward us on all sides to receive the gifts.

The Arapahoes set great value upon their shields, which they transmit
carefully from father to son. I wished to get one of them; and
displaying a large piece of scarlet cloth, together with some tobacco
and a knife, I offered them to any one who would bring me what I
wanted. After some delay a tolerable shield was produced. They were
very anxious to know what we meant to do with it, and Henry told them
that we were going to fight their enemies, the Pawnees. This
instantly produced a visible impression in our favor, which was
increased by the distribution of the presents. Among these was a
large paper of awls, a gift appropriate to the women; and as we were
anxious to see the beauties of the Arapahoe village Henry requested
that they might be called to receive them. A warrior gave a shout as
if he were calling a pack of dogs together. The squaws, young and
old, hags of eighty and girls of sixteen, came running with screams
and laughter out of the lodges; and as the men gave way for them they
gathered round us and stretched out their arms, grinning with
delight, their native ugliness considerably enhanced by the
excitement of the moment.

Mounting our horses, which during the whole interview we had held
close to us, we prepared to leave the Arapahoes. The crowd fell back
on each side and stood looking on. When we were half across the camp
an idea occurred to us. The Pawnees were probably in the
neighborhood of the Caches; we might tell the Arapahoes of this and
instigate them to send down a war party and cut them off, while we
ourselves could remain behind for a while and hunt the buffalo. At
first thought this plan of setting our enemies to destroy one another
seemed to us a masterpiece of policy; but we immediately recollected
that should we meet the Arapahoe warriors on the river below they
might prove quite as dangerous as the Pawnees themselves. So
rejecting our plan as soon as it presented itself, we passed out of
the village on the farther side. We urged our horses rapidly through
the tall grass which rose to their necks. Several Indians were
walking through it at a distance, their heads just visible above its
waving surface. It bore a kind of seed as sweet and nutritious as
oats; and our hungry horses, in spite of whip and rein, could not
resist the temptation of snatching at this unwonted luxury as we
passed along. When about a mile from the village I turned and looked
back over the undulating ocean of grass. The sun was just set; the
western sky was all in a glow, and sharply defined against it, on the
extreme verge of the plain, stood the numerous lodges of the Arapahoe

Reaching the bank of the river, we followed it for some distance
farther, until we discerned through the twilight the white covering
of our little cart on the opposite bank. When we reached it we found
a considerable number of Indians there before us. Four or five of
them were seated in a row upon the ground, looking like so many half-
starved vultures. Tete Rouge, in his uniform, was holding a close
colloquy with another by the side of the cart. His gesticulations,
his attempts at sign-making, and the contortions of his countenance,
were most ludicrous; and finding all these of no avail, he tried to
make the Indian understand him by repeating English words very loudly
and distinctly again and again. The Indian sat with his eye fixed
steadily upon him, and in spite of the rigid immobility of his
features, it was clear at a glance that he perfectly understood his
military companion's character and thoroughly despised him. The
exhibition was more amusing than politic, and Tete Rouge was directed
to finish what he had to say as soon as possible. Thus rebuked, he
crept under the cart and sat down there; Henry Chatillon stopped to
look at him in his retirement, and remarked in his quiet manner that
an Indian would kill ten such men and laugh all the time.

One by one our visitors rose and stalked away. As the darkness
thickened we were saluted by dismal sounds. The wolves are
incredibly numerous in this part of the country, and the offal around
the Arapahoe camp had drawn such multitudes of them together that
several hundred were howling in concert in our immediate
neighborhood. There was an island in the river, or rather an oasis
in the midst of the sands at about the distance of a gunshot, and
here they seemed gathered in the greatest numbers. A horrible
discord of low mournful wailings, mingled with ferocious howls, arose
from it incessantly for several hours after sunset. We could
distinctly see the wolves running about the prairie within a few rods
of our fire, or bounding over the sand-beds of the river and
splashing through the water. There was not the slightest danger to
be feared from them, for they are the greatest cowards on the

In respect to the human wolves in our neighborhood, we felt much less
at our ease. We seldom erected our tent except in bad weather, and
that night each man spread his buffalo robe upon the ground with his
loaded rifle laid at his side or clasped in his arms. Our horses
were picketed so close around us that one of them repeatedly stepped
over me as I lay. We were not in the habit of placing a guard, but
every man that night was anxious and watchful; there was little sound
sleeping in camp, and some one of the party was on his feet during
the greater part of the time. For myself, I lay alternately waking
and dozing until midnight. Tete Rouge was reposing close to the
river bank, and about this time, when half asleep and half awake, I
was conscious that he shifted his position and crept on all-fours
under the cart. Soon after I fell into a sound sleep from which I
was aroused by a hand shaking me by the shoulder. Looking up, I saw
Tete Rouge stooping over me with his face quite pale and his eyes
dilated to their utmost expansion.

"What's the matter?" said I.

Tete Rouge declared that as he lay on the river bank, something
caught his eye which excited his suspicions. So creeping under the
cart for safety's sake he sat there and watched, when he saw two
Indians, wrapped in white robes, creep up the bank, seize upon two
horses and lead them off. He looked so frightened, and told his
story in such a disconnected manner, that I did not believe him, and
was unwilling to alarm the party. Still it might be true, and in
that case the matter required instant attention. There would be no
time for examination, and so directing Tete Rouge to show me which
way the Indians had gone, I took my rifle, in obedience to a
thoughtless impulse, and left the camp. I followed the river back
for two or three hundred yards, listening and looking anxiously on
every side. In the dark prairie on the right I could discern nothing
to excite alarm; and in the dusky bed of the river, a wolf was
bounding along in a manner which no Indian could imitate. I returned
to the camp, and when within sight of it, saw that the whole party
was aroused. Shaw called out to me that he had counted the horses,
and that every one of them was in his place. Tete Rouge, being
examined as to what he had seen, only repeated his former story with
many asseverations, and insisted that two horses were certainly
carried off. At this Jim Gurney declared that he was crazy; Tete
Rouge indignantly denied the charge, on which Jim appealed to us. As
we declined to give our judgment on so delicate a matter, the dispute
grew hot between Tete Rouge and his accuser, until he was directed to
go to bed and not alarm the camp again if he saw the whole Arapahoe
village coming.



The country before us was now thronged with buffalo, and a sketch of
the manner of hunting them will not be out of place. There are two
methods commonly practiced, "running" and "approaching." The chase
on horseback, which goes by the name of "running," is the more
violent and dashing mode of the two. Indeed, of all American wild
sports, this is the wildest. Once among the buffalo, the hunter,
unless long use has made him familiar with the situation, dashes
forward in utter recklessness and self-abandonment. He thinks of
nothing, cares for nothing but the game; his mind is stimulated to
the highest pitch, yet intensely concentrated on one object. In the
midst of the flying herd, where the uproar and the dust are thickest,
it never wavers for a moment; he drops the rein and abandons his
horse to his furious career; he levels his gun, the report sounds
faint amid the thunder of the buffalo; and when his wounded enemy
leaps in vain fury upon him, his heart thrills with a feeling like
the fierce delight of the battlefield. A practiced and skillful
hunter, well mounted, will sometimes kill five or six cows in a
single chase, loading his gun again and again as his horse rushes
through the tumult. An exploit like this is quite beyond the
capacities of a novice. In attacking a small band of buffalo, or in
separating a single animal from the herd and assailing it apart from
the rest, there is less excitement and less danger. With a bold and
well trained horse the hunter may ride so close to the buffalo that
as they gallop side by side he may reach over and touch him with his
hand; nor is there much danger in this as long as the buffalo's
strength and breath continue unabated; but when he becomes tired and
can no longer run at ease, when his tongue lolls out and foam flies
from his jaws, then the hunter had better keep at a more respectful
distance; the distressed brute may turn upon him at any instant; and
especially at the moment when he fires his gun. The wounded buffalo
springs at his enemy; the horse leaps violently aside; and then the
hunter has need of a tenacious seat in the saddle, for if he is
thrown to the ground there is no hope for him. When he sees his
attack defeated the buffalo resumes his flight, but if the shot be
well directed he soon stops; for a few moments he stands still, then
totters and falls heavily upon the prairie.

The chief difficulty in running buffalo, as it seems to me, is that
of loading the gun or pistol at full gallop. Many hunters for
convenience' sake carry three or four bullets in the mouth; the
powder is poured down the muzzle of the piece, the bullet dropped in
after it, the stock struck hard upon the pommel of the saddle, and
the work is done. The danger of this method is obvious. Should the
blow on the pommel fail to send the bullet home, or should the
latter, in the act of aiming, start from its place and roll toward
the muzzle, the gun would probably burst in discharging. Many a
shattered hand and worse casualties besides have been the result of
such an accident. To obviate it, some hunters make use of a ramrod,
usually hung by a string from the neck, but this materially increases
the difficulty of loading. The bows and arrows which the Indians use
in running buffalo have many advantages over fire arms, and even
white men occasionally employ them.

The danger of the chase arises not so much from the onset of the
wounded animal as from the nature of the ground which the hunter must
ride over. The prairie does not always present a smooth, level, and
uniform surface; very often it is broken with hills and hollows,
intersected by ravines, and in the remoter parts studded by the stiff
wild-sage bushes. The most formidable obstructions, however, are the
burrows of wild animals, wolves, badgers, and particularly prairie
dogs, with whose holes the ground for a very great extent is
frequently honeycombed. In the blindness of the chase the hunter
rushes over it unconscious of danger; his horse, at full career,
thrusts his leg deep into one of the burrows; the bone snaps, the
rider is hurled forward to the ground and probably killed. Yet
accidents in buffalo running happen less frequently than one would
suppose; in the recklessness of the chase, the hunter enjoys all the
impunity of a drunken man, and may ride in safety over the gullies
and declivities where, should he attempt to pass in his sober senses,
he would infallibly break his neck.

The method of "approaching," being practiced on foot, has many
advantages over that of "running"; in the former, one neither breaks
down his horse nor endangers his own life; instead of yielding to
excitement he must be cool, collected, and watchful; he must
understand the buffalo, observe the features of the country and the
course of the wind, and be well skilled, moreover, in using the
rifle. The buffalo are strange animals; sometimes they are so stupid
and infatuated that a man may walk up to them in full sight on the
open prairie, and even shoot several of their number before the rest
will think it necessary to retreat. Again at another moment they
will be so shy and wary, that in order to approach them the utmost
skill, experience, and judgment are necessary. Kit Carson, I
believe, stands pre-eminent in running buffalo; in approaching, no
man living can bear away the palm from Henry Chatillon.

To resume the story: After Tete Rouge had alarmed the camp, no
further disturbance occurred during the night. The Arapahoes did not
attempt mischief, or if they did the wakefulness of the party
deterred them from effecting their purpose. The next day was one of
activity and excitement, for about ten o'clock the men in advance
shouted the gladdening cry of "Buffalo, buffalo!" and in the hollow
of the prairie just below us, a band of bulls were grazing. The
temptation was irresistible, and Shaw and I rode down upon them. We
were badly mounted on our traveling horses, but by hard lashing we
overtook them, and Shaw, running alongside of a bull, shot into him
both balls of his double-barreled gun. Looking round as I galloped
past, I saw the bull in his mortal fury rushing again and again upon
his antagonist, whose horse constantly leaped aside, and avoided the
onset. My chase was more protracted, but at length I ran close to
the bull and killed him with my pistols. Cutting off the tails of
our victims by way of trophy, we rejoined the party in about a
quarter of an hour after we left it. Again and again that morning
rang out the same welcome cry of "Buffalo, buffalo!" Every few
moments in the broad meadows along the river, we would see bands of
bulls, who, raising their shaggy heads, would gaze in stupid
amazement at the approaching horsemen, and then breaking into a
clumsy gallop, would file off in a long line across the trail in
front, toward the rising prairie on the left. At noon, the whole
plain before us was alive with thousands of buffalo--bulls, cows, and
calves--all moving rapidly as we drew near; and far-off beyond the
river the swelling prairie was darkened with them to the very
horizon. The party was in gayer spirits than ever. We stopped for a
nooning near a grove of trees by the river side.

"Tongues and hump ribs to-morrow," said Shaw, looking with contempt
at the venison steaks which Delorier placed before us. Our meal
finished, we lay down under a temporary awning to sleep. A shout
from Henry Chatillon aroused us, and we saw him standing on the
cartwheel stretching his tall figure to its full height while he
looked toward the prairie beyond the river. Following the direction
of his eyes we could clearly distinguish a large dark object, like
the black shadow of a cloud, passing rapidly over swell after swell
of the distant plain; behind it followed another of similar
appearance though smaller. Its motion was more rapid, and it drew
closer and closer to the first. It was the hunters of the Arapahoe
camp pursuing a band of buffalo. Shaw and I hastily sought and
saddled our best horses, and went plunging through sand and water to
the farther bank. We were too late. The hunters had already mingled
with the herd, and the work of slaughter was nearly over. When we
reached the ground we found it strewn far and near with numberless
black carcasses, while the remnants of the herd, scattered in all
directions, were flying away in terror, and the Indians still rushing
in pursuit. Many of the hunters, however, remained upon the spot,
and among the rest was our yesterday's acquaintance, the chief of the
village. He had alighted by the side of a cow, into which he had
shot five or six arrows, and his squaw, who had followed him on
horseback to the hunt, was giving him a draught of water out of a
canteen, purchased or plundered from some volunteer soldier.
Recrossing the river we overtook the party, who were already on their

We had scarcely gone a mile when an imposing spectacle presented
itself. From the river bank on the right, away over the swelling
prairie on the left, and in front as far as we could see, extended
one vast host of buffalo. The outskirts of the herd were within a
quarter of a mile. In many parts they were crowded so densely
together that in the distance their rounded backs presented a surface
of uniform blackness; but elsewhere they were more scattered, and
from amid the multitude rose little columns of dust where the buffalo
were rolling on the ground. Here and there a great confusion was
perceptible, where a battle was going forward among the bulls. We
could distinctly see them rushing against each other, and hear the
clattering of their horns and their hoarse bellowing. Shaw was
riding at some distance in advance, with Henry Chatillon; I saw him
stop and draw the leather covering from his gun. Indeed, with such a
sight before us, but one thing could be thought of. That morning I
had used pistols in the chase. I had now a mind to try the virtue of
a gun. Delorier had one, and I rode up to the side of the cart;
there he sat under the white covering, biting his pipe between his
teeth and grinning with excitement.

"Lend me your gun, Delorier," said I.

"Oui, monsieur, oui," said Delorier, tugging with might and main to
stop the mule, which seemed obstinately bent on going forward. Then
everything but his moccasins disappeared as he crawled into the cart
and pulled at the gun to extricate it.

"Is it loaded?" I asked.

"Oui, bien charge; you'll kill, mon bourgeois; yes, you'll kill--
c'est un bon fusil."

I handed him my rifle and rode forward to Shaw.

"Are you ready?" he asked.

"Come on," said I.

"Keep down that hollow," said Henry, "and then they won't see you
till you get close to them."

The hollow was a kind of ravine very wide and shallow; it ran
obliquely toward the buffalo, and we rode at a canter along the
bottom until it became too shallow, when we bent close to our horses'
necks, and then finding that it could no longer conceal us, came out
of it and rode directly toward the herd. It was within gunshot;
before its outskirts, numerous grizzly old bulls were scattered,
holding guard over their females. They glared at us in anger and
astonishment, walked toward us a few yards, and then turning slowly
round retreated at a trot which afterward broke into a clumsy gallop.
In an instant the main body caught the alarm. The buffalo began to
crowd away from the point toward which we were approaching, and a gap
was opened in the side of the herd. We entered it, still restraining
our excited horses. Every instant the tumult was thickening. The
buffalo, pressing together in large bodies, crowded away from us on
every hand. In front and on either side we could see dark columns
and masses, half hidden by clouds of dust, rushing along in terror
and confusion, and hear the tramp and clattering of ten thousand
hoofs. That countless multitude of powerful brutes, ignorant of
their own strength, were flying in a panic from the approach of two
feeble horsemen. To remain quiet longer was impossible.

"Take that band on the left," said Shaw; "I'll take these in front."

He sprang off, and I saw no more of him. A heavy Indian whip was
fastened by a band to my wrist; I swung it into the air and lashed my
horse's flank with all the strength of my arm. Away she darted,
stretching close to the ground. I could see nothing but a cloud of
dust before me, but I knew that it concealed a band of many hundreds
of buffalo. In a moment I was in the midst of the cloud, half
suffocated by the dust and stunned by the trampling of the flying
herd; but I was drunk with the chase and cared for nothing but the
buffalo. Very soon a long dark mass became visible, looming through
the dust; then I could distinguish each bulky carcass, the hoofs
flying out beneath, the short tails held rigidly erect. In a moment
I was so close that I could have touched them with my gun. Suddenly,
to my utter amazement, the hoofs were jerked upward, the tails
flourished in the air, and amid a cloud of dust the buffalo seemed to
sink into the earth before me. One vivid impression of that instant
remains upon my mind. I remember looking down upon the backs of
several buffalo dimly visible through the dust. We had run unawares
upon a ravine. At that moment I was not the most accurate judge of
depth and width, but when I passed it on my return, I found it about
twelve feet deep and not quite twice as wide at the bottom. It was
impossible to stop; I would have done so gladly if I could; so, half
sliding, half plunging, down went the little mare. I believe she
came down on her knees in the loose sand at the bottom; I was pitched
forward violently against her neck and nearly thrown over her head
among the buffalo, who amid dust and confusion came tumbling in all
around. The mare was on her feet in an instant and scrambling like a
cat up the opposite side. I thought for a moment that she would have
fallen back and crushed me, but with a violent effort she clambered
out and gained the hard prairie above. Glancing back I saw the huge
head of a bull clinging as it were by the forefeet at the edge of the
dusty gulf. At length I was fairly among the buffalo. They were
less densely crowded than before, and I could see nothing but bulls,
who always run at the rear of the herd. As I passed amid them they
would lower their heads, and turning as they ran, attempt to gore my
horse; but as they were already at full speed there was no force in
their onset, and as Pauline ran faster than they, they were always
thrown behind her in the effort. I soon began to distinguish cows
amid the throng. One just in front of me seemed to my liking, and I
pushed close to her side. Dropping the reins I fired, holding the
muzzle of the gun within a foot of her shoulder. Quick as lightning
she sprang at Pauline; the little mare dodged the attack, and I lost
sight of the wounded animal amid the tumultuous crowd. Immediately
after I selected another, and urging forward Pauline, shot into her
both pistols in succession. For a while I kept her in view, but in
attempting to load my gun, lost sight of her also in the confusion.
Believing her to be mortally wounded and unable to keep up with the
herd, I checked my horse. The crowd rushed onward. The dust and
tumult passed away, and on the prairie, far behind the rest, I saw a
solitary buffalo galloping heavily. In a moment I and my victim were
running side by side. My firearms were all empty, and I had in my
pouch nothing but rifle bullets, too large for the pistols and too
small for the gun. I loaded the latter, however, but as often as I
leveled it to fire, the little bullets would roll out of the muzzle
and the gun returned only a faint report like a squib, as the powder
harmlessly exploded. I galloped in front of the buffalo and
attempted to turn her back; but her eyes glared, her mane bristled,
and lowering her head, she rushed at me with astonishing fierceness
and activity. Again and again I rode before her, and again and again
she repeated her furious charge. But little Pauline was in her
element. She dodged her enemy at every rush, until at length the
buffalo stood still, exhausted with her own efforts; she panted, and
her tongue hung lolling from her jaws.

Riding to a little distance I alighted, thinking to gather a handful
of dry grass to serve the purpose of wadding, and load the gun at my
leisure. No sooner were my feet on the ground than the buffalo came
bounding in such a rage toward me that I jumped back again into the
saddle with all possible dispatch. After waiting a few minutes more,
I made an attempt to ride up and stab her with my knife; but the
experiment proved such as no wise man would repeat. At length,
bethinking me of the fringes at the seams of my buckskin pantaloons,
I jerked off a few of them, and reloading my gun, forced them down
the barrel to keep the bullet in its place; then approaching, I shot
the wounded buffalo through the heart. Sinking to her knees, she
rolled over lifeless on the prairie. To my astonishment, I found
that instead of a fat cow I had been slaughtering a stout yearling
bull. No longer wondering at the fierceness he had shown, I opened
his throat and cutting out his tongue, tied it at the back of my
saddle. My mistake was one which a more experienced eye than mine
might easily make in the dust and confusion of such a chase.

Then for the first time I had leisure to look at the scene around me.
The prairie in front was darkened with the retreating multitude, and
on the other hand the buffalo came filing up in endless unbroken
columns from the low plains upon the river. The Arkansas was three
or four miles distant. I turned and moved slowly toward it. A long
time passed before, far down in the distance, I distinguished the
white covering of the cart and the little black specks of horsemen
before and behind it. Drawing near, I recognized Shaw's elegant
tunic, the red flannel shirt, conspicuous far off. I overtook the
party, and asked him what success he had met with. He had assailed a
fat cow, shot her with two bullets, and mortally wounded her. But
neither of us were prepared for the chase that afternoon, and Shaw,
like myself, had no spare bullets in his pouch; so he abandoned the
disabled animal to Henry Chatillon, who followed, dispatched her with
his rifle, and loaded his horse with her meat.

We encamped close to the river. The night was dark, and as we lay
down we could hear mingled with the howling of wolves the hoarse
bellowing of the buffalo, like the ocean beating upon a distant



No one in the camp was more active than Jim Gurney, and no one half
so lazy as Ellis. Between these two there was a great antipathy.
Ellis never stirred in the morning until he was compelled to, but Jim
was always on his feet before daybreak; and this morning as usual the
sound of his voice awakened the party.

"Get up, you booby! up with you now, you're fit for nothing but
eating and sleeping. Stop your grumbling and come out of that
buffalo robe or I'll pull it off for you."

Jim's words were interspersed with numerous expletives, which gave
them great additional effect. Ellis drawled out something in a nasal
tone from among the folds of his buffalo robe; then slowly disengaged
himself, rose into sitting posture, stretched his long arms, yawned
hideously, and finally, raising his tall person erect, stood staring
round him to all the four quarters of the horizon. Delorier's fire
was soon blazing, and the horses and mules, loosened from their
pickets, were feeding in the neighboring meadow. When we sat down to
breakfast the prairie was still in the dusky light of morning; and as
the sun rose we were mounted and on our way again.

"A white buffalo!" exclaimed Munroe.

"I'll have that fellow," said Shaw, "if I run my horse to death after

He threw the cover of his gun to Delorier and galloped out upon the

"Stop, Mr. Shaw, stop!" called out Henry Chatillon, "you'll run down
your horse for nothing; it's only a white ox."

But Shaw was already out of hearing. The ox, who had no doubt
strayed away from some of the government wagon trains, was standing
beneath some low hills which bounded the plain in the distance. Not
far from him a band of veritable buffalo bulls were grazing; and
startled at Shaw's approach, they all broke into a run, and went
scrambling up the hillsides to gain the high prairie above. One of
them in his haste and terror involved himself in a fatal catastrophe.
Along the foot of the hills was a narrow strip of deep marshy soil,
into which the bull plunged and hopelessly entangled himself. We all
rode up to the spot. The huge carcass was half sunk in the mud,
which flowed to his very chin, and his shaggy mane was outspread upon
the surface. As we came near the bull began to struggle with
convulsive strength; he writhed to and fro, and in the energy of his
fright and desperation would lift himself for a moment half out of
the slough, while the reluctant mire returned a sucking sound as he
strained to drag his limbs from its tenacious depths. We stimulated
his exertions by getting behind him and twisting his tail; nothing
would do. There was clearly no hope for him. After every effort his
heaving sides were more deeply imbedded and the mire almost
overflowed his nostrils; he lay still at length, and looking round at
us with a furious eye, seemed to resign himself to his fate. Ellis
slowly dismounted, and deliberately leveling his boasted yager, shot
the old bull through the heart; then he lazily climbed back again to
his seat, pluming himself no doubt on having actually killed a
buffalo. That day the invincible yager drew blood for the first and
last time during the whole journey.

The morning was a bright and gay one, and the air so clear that on
the farthest horizon the outline of the pale blue prairie was sharply
drawn against the sky. Shaw felt in the mood for hunting; he rode in
advance of the party, and before long we saw a file of bulls
galloping at full speed upon a vast green swell of the prairie at
some distance in front. Shaw came scouring along behind them,
arrayed in his red shirt, which looked very well in the distance; he
gained fast on the fugitives, and as the foremost bull was
disappearing behind the summit of the swell, we saw him in the act of
assailing the hindmost; a smoke sprang from the muzzle of his gun,
and floated away before the wind like a little white cloud; the bull
turned upon him, and just then the rising ground concealed them both
from view.

We were moving forward until about noon, when we stopped by the side
of the Arkansas. At that moment Shaw appeared riding slowly down the
side of a distant hill; his horse was tired and jaded, and when he
threw his saddle upon the ground, I observed that the tails of two
bulls were dangling behind it. No sooner were the horses turned
loose to feed than Henry, asking Munroe to go with him, took his
rifle and walked quietly away. Shaw, Tete Rouge, and I sat down by
the side of the cart to discuss the dinner which Delorier placed
before us; we had scarcely finished when we saw Munroe walking toward
us along the river bank. Henry, he said, had killed four fat cows,
and had sent him back for horses to bring in the meat. Shaw took a
horse for himself and another for Henry, and he and Munroe left the
camp together. After a short absence all three of them came back,
their horses loaded with the choicest parts of the meat; we kept two
of the cows for ourselves and gave the others to Munroe and his
companions. Delorier seated himself on the grass before the pile of
meat, and worked industriously for some time to cut it into thin
broad sheets for drying. This is no easy matter, but Delorier had
all the skill of an Indian squaw. Long before night cords of raw
hide were stretched around the camp, and the meat was hung upon them
to dry in the sunshine and pure air of the prairie. Our California
companions were less successful at the work; but they accomplished it
after their own fashion, and their side of the camp was soon
garnished in the same manner as our own.

We meant to remain at this place long enough to prepare provisions
for our journey to the frontier, which as we supposed might occupy
about a month. Had the distance been twice as great and the party
ten times as large, the unerring rifle of Henry Chatillon would have
supplied meat enough for the whole within two days; we were obliged
to remain, however, until it should be dry enough for transportation;
so we erected our tent and made the other arrangements for a
permanent camp. The California men, who had no such shelter,
contented themselves with arranging their packs on the grass around
their fire. In the meantime we had nothing to do but amuse
ourselves. Our tent was within a rod of the river, if the broad
sand-beds, with a scanty stream of water coursing here and there
along their surface, deserve to be dignified with the name of river.
The vast flat plains on either side were almost on a level with the
sand-beds, and they were bounded in the distance by low, monotonous
hills, parallel to the course of the Arkansas. All was one expanse
of grass; there was no wood in view, except some trees and stunted
bushes upon two islands which rose from amid the wet sands of the
river. Yet far from being dull and tame this boundless scene was
often a wild and animated one; for twice a day, at sunrise and at
noon, the buffalo came issuing from the hills, slowly advancing in
their grave processions to drink at the river. All our amusements
were too at their expense. Except an elephant, I have seen no animal
that can surpass a buffalo bull in size and strength, and the world
may be searched in vain to find anything of a more ugly and ferocious
aspect. At first sight of him every feeling of sympathy vanishes; no
man who has not experienced it can understand with what keen relish
one inflicts his death wound, with what profound contentment of mind
he beholds him fall. The cows are much smaller and of a gentler
appearance, as becomes their sex. While in this camp we forebore to
attack them, leaving to Henry Chatillon, who could better judge their
fatness and good quality, the task of killing such as we wanted for
use; but against the bulls we waged an unrelenting war. Thousands of
them might be slaughtered without causing any detriment to the
species, for their numbers greatly exceed those of the cows; it is
the hides of the latter alone which are used for purpose of commerce
and for making the lodges of the Indians; and the destruction among
them is therefore altogether disproportioned.

Our horses were tired, and we now usually hunted on foot. The wide,
flat sand-beds of the Arkansas, as the reader will remember, lay
close by the side of our camp. While we were lying on the grass
after dinner, smoking, conversing, or laughing at Tete Rouge, one of
us would look up and observe, far out on the plains beyond the river,
certain black objects slowly approaching. He would inhale a parting
whiff from the pipe, then rising lazily, take his rifle, which leaned
against the cart, throw over his shoulder the strap of his pouch and
powder-horn, and with his moccasins in his hand walk quietly across
the sand toward the opposite side of the river. This was very easy;
for though the sands were about a quarter of a mile wide, the water
was nowhere more than two feet deep. The farther bank was about four
or five feet high, and quite perpendicular, being cut away by the
water in spring. Tall grass grew along its edge. Putting it aside
with his hand, and cautiously looking through it, the hunter can
discern the huge shaggy back of the buffalo slowly swaying to and
fro, as with his clumsy swinging gait he advances toward the water.
The buffalo have regular paths by which they come down to drink.
Seeing at a glance along which of these his intended victim is
moving, the hunter crouches under the bank within fifteen or twenty
yards, it may be, of the point where the path enters the river. Here
he sits down quietly on the sand. Listening intently, he hears the
heavy monotonous tread of the approaching bull. The moment after he
sees a motion among the long weeds and grass just at the spot where
the path is channeled through the bank. An enormous black head is
thrust out, the horns just visible amid the mass of tangled mane.
Half sliding, half plunging, down comes the buffalo upon the river-
bed below. He steps out in full sight upon the sands. Just before
him a runnel of water is gliding, and he bends his head to drink.
You may hear the water as it gurgles down his capacious throat. He
raises his head, and the drops trickle from his wet beard. He stands
with an air of stupid abstraction, unconscious of the lurking danger.
Noiselessly the hunter cocks his rifle. As he sits upon the sand,
his knee is raised, and his elbow rests upon it, that he may level
his heavy weapon with a steadier aim. The stock is at his shoulder;
his eye ranges along the barrel. Still he is in no haste to fire.
The bull, with slow deliberation, begins his march over the sands to
the other side. He advances his foreleg, and exposes to view a small
spot, denuded of hair, just behind the point of his shoulder; upon
this the hunter brings the sight of his rifle to bear; lightly and
delicately his finger presses upon the hair-trigger. Quick as
thought the spiteful crack of the rifle responds to his slight touch,
and instantly in the middle of the bare spot appears a small red dot.
The buffalo shivers; death has overtaken him, he cannot tell from
whence; still he does not fall, but walks heavily forward, as if
nothing had happened. Yet before he has advanced far out upon the
sand, you see him stop; he totters; his knees bend under him, and his
head sinks forward to the ground. Then his whole vast bulk sways to
one side; he rolls over on the sand, and dies with a scarcely
perceptible struggle.

Waylaying the buffalo in this manner, and shooting them as they come
to water, is the easiest and laziest method of hunting them. They
may also be approached by crawling up ravines, or behind hills, or
even over the open prairie. This is often surprisingly easy; but at
other times it requires the utmost skill of the most experienced
hunter. Henry Chatillon was a man of extraordinary strength and
hardihood; but I have seen him return to camp quite exhausted with
his efforts, his limbs scratched and wounded, and his buckskin dress
stuck full of the thorns of the prickly-pear among which he had been
crawling. Sometimes he would lay flat upon his face, and drag
himself along in this position for many rods together.

On the second day of our stay at this place, Henry went out for an
afternoon hunt. Shaw and I remained in camp until, observing some
bulls approaching the water upon the other side of the river, we
crossed over to attack them. They were so near, however, that before
we could get under cover of the bank our appearance as we walked over
the sands alarmed them. Turning round before coming within gunshot,
they began to move off to the right in a direction parallel to the
river. I climbed up the bank and ran after them. They were walking
swiftly, and before I could come within gunshot distance they slowly
wheeled about and faced toward me. Before they had turned far enough
to see me I had fallen flat on my face. For a moment they stood and
stared at the strange object upon the grass; then turning away, again
they walked on as before; and I, rising immediately, ran once more in
pursuit. Again they wheeled about, and again I fell prostrate.
Repeating this three or four times, I came at length within a hundred
yards of the fugitives, and as I saw them turning again I sat down
and leveled my rifle. The one in the center was the largest I had
ever seen. I shot him behind the shoulder. His two companions ran
off. He attempted to follow, but soon came to a stand, and at length
lay down as quietly as an ox chewing the cud. Cautiously approaching
him, I saw by his dull and jellylike eye that he was dead.

When I began the chase, the prairie was almost tenantless; but a
great multitude of buffalo had suddenly thronged upon it, and looking
up, I saw within fifty rods a heavy, dark column stretching to the
right and left as far as I could see. I walked toward them. My
approach did not alarm them in the least. The column itself
consisted entirely of cows and calves, but a great many old bulls
were ranging about the prairie on its flank, and as I drew near they
faced toward me with such a shaggy and ferocious look that I thought
it best to proceed no farther. Indeed I was already within close
rifle-shot of the column, and I sat down on the ground to watch their
movements. Sometimes the whole would stand still, their heads all
facing one way; then they would trot forward, as if by a common
impulse, their hoofs and horns clattering together as they moved. I
soon began to hear at a distance on the left the sharp reports of a
rifle, again and again repeated; and not long after, dull and heavy
sounds succeeded, which I recognized as the familiar voice of Shaw's
double-barreled gun. When Henry's rifle was at work there was always
meat to be brought in. I went back across the river for a horse, and
returning, reached the spot where the hunters were standing. The
buffalo were visible on the distant prairie. The living had
retreated from the ground, but ten or twelve carcasses were scattered
in various directions. Henry, knife in hand, was stooping over a
dead cow, cutting away the best and fattest of the meat.

When Shaw left me he had walked down for some distance under the
river bank to find another bull. At length he saw the plains covered
with the host of buffalo, and soon after heard the crack of Henry's
rifle. Ascending the bank, he crawled through the grass, which for a
rod or two from the river was very high and rank. He had not crawled
far before to his astonishment he saw Henry standing erect upon the
prairie, almost surrounded by the buffalo. Henry was in his
appropriate element. Nelson, on the deck of the Victory, hardly felt
a prouder sense of mastery than he. Quite unconscious that any one
was looking at him, he stood at the full height of his tall, strong
figure, one hand resting upon his side, and the other arm leaning
carelessly on the muzzle of his rifle. His eyes were ranging over
the singular assemblage around him. Now and then he would select
such a cow as suited him, level his rifle, and shoot her dead; then
quietly reloading, he would resume his former position. The buffalo
seemed no more to regard his presence than if he were one of
themselves; the bulls were bellowing and butting at each other, or
else rolling about in the dust. A group of buffalo would gather
about the carcass of a dead cow, snuffing at her wounds; and
sometimes they would come behind those that had not yet fallen, and
endeavor to push them from the spot. Now and then some old bull
would face toward Henry with an air of stupid amazement, but none
seemed inclined to attack or fly from him. For some time Shaw lay
among the grass, looking in surprise at this extraordinary sight; at
length he crawled cautiously forward, and spoke in a low voice to
Henry, who told him to rise and come on. Still the buffalo showed no
sign of fear; they remained gathered about their dead companions.
Henry had already killed as many cows as we wanted for use, and Shaw,
kneeling behind one of the carcasses, shot five bulls before the rest
thought it necessary to disperse.

The frequent stupidity and infatuation of the buffalo seems the more
remarkable from the contrast it offers to their wildness and wariness
at other times. Henry knew all their peculiarities; he had studied
them as a scholar studies his books, and he derived quite as much
pleasure from the occupation. The buffalo were a kind of companions
to him, and, as he said, he never felt alone when they were about
him. He took great pride in his skill in hunting. Henry was one of
the most modest of men; yet, in the simplicity and frankness of his
character, it was quite clear that he looked upon his pre-eminence in
this respect as a thing too palpable and well established ever to be
disputed. But whatever may have been his estimate of his own skill,
it was rather below than above that which others placed upon it. The
only time that I ever saw a shade of scorn darken his face was when
two volunteer soldiers, who had just killed a buffalo for the first
time, undertook to instruct him as to the best method of
"approaching." To borrow an illustration from an opposite side of
life, an Eton boy might as well have sought to enlighten Porson on
the formation of a Greek verb, or a Fleet Street shopkeeper to
instruct Chesterfield concerning a point of etiquette. Henry always
seemed to think that he had a sort of prescriptive right to the
buffalo, and to look upon them as something belonging peculiarly to
himself. Nothing excited his indignation so much as any wanton
destruction committed among the cows, and in his view shooting a calf
was a cardinal sin.

Henry Chatillon and Tete Rouge were of the same age; that is, about
thirty. Henry was twice as large, and fully six times as strong as
Tete Rouge. Henry's face was roughened by winds and storms; Tete
Rouge's was bloated by sherry cobblers and brandy toddy. Henry
talked of Indians and buffalo; Tete Rouge of theaters and oyster
cellars. Henry had led a life of hardship and privation; Tete Rouge
never had a whim which he would not gratify at the first moment he
was able. Henry moreover was the most disinterested man I ever saw;
while Tete Rouge, though equally good-natured in his way, cared for
nobody but himself. Yet we would not have lost him on any account;
he admirably served the purpose of a jester in a feudal castle; our
camp would have been lifeless without him. For the past week he had
fattened in a most amazing manner; and indeed this was not at all
surprising, since his appetite was most inordinate. He was eating
from morning till night; half the time he would be at work cooking
some private repast for himself, and he paid a visit to the coffee-
pot eight or ten times a day. His rueful and disconsolate face
became jovial and rubicund, his eyes stood out like a lobster's, and
his spirits, which before were sunk to the depths of despondency,
were now elated in proportion; all day he was singing, whistling,
laughing, and telling stories. Being mortally afraid of Jim Gurney,
he kept close in the neighborhood of our tent. As he had seen an
abundance of low dissipated life, and had a considerable fund of
humor, his anecdotes were extremely amusing, especially since he
never hesitated to place himself in a ludicrous point of view,
provided he could raise a laugh by doing so. Tete Rouge, however,
was sometimes rather troublesome; he had an inveterate habit of
pilfering provisions at all times of the day. He set ridicule at
utter defiance; and being without a particle of self-respect, he
would never have given over his tricks, even if they had drawn upon
him the scorn of the whole party. Now and then, indeed, something
worse than laughter fell to his share; on these occasions he would
exhibit much contrition, but half an hour after we would generally
observe him stealing round to the box at the back of the cart and
slyly making off with the provisions which Delorier had laid by for
supper. He was very fond of smoking; but having no tobacco of his
own, we used to provide him with as much as he wanted, a small piece
at a time. At first we gave him half a pound together, but this
experiment proved an entire failure, for he invariably lost not only
the tobacco, but the knife intrusted to him for cutting it, and a few
minutes after he would come to us with many apologies and beg for

We had been two days at this camp, and some of the meat was nearly
fit for transportation, when a storm came suddenly upon us. About
sunset the whole sky grew as black as ink, and the long grass at the
river's edge bent and rose mournfully with the first gusts of the
approaching hurricane. Munroe and his two companions brought their
guns and placed them under cover of our tent. Having no shelter for
themselves, they built a fire of driftwood that might have defied a
cataract, and wrapped in their buffalo robes, sat on the ground
around it to bide the fury of the storm. Delorier ensconced himself
under the cover of the cart. Shaw and I, together with Henry and
Tete Rouge, crowded into the little tent; but first of all the dried
meat was piled together, and well protected by buffalo robes pinned
firmly to the ground. About nine o'clock the storm broke, amid
absolute darkness; it blew a gale, and torrents of rain roared over
the boundless expanse of open prairie. Our tent was filled with mist
and spray beating through the canvas, and saturating everything
within. We could only distinguish each other at short intervals by
the dazzling flash of lightning, which displayed the whole waste
around us with its momentary glare. We had our fears for the tent;
but for an hour or two it stood fast, until at length the cap gave
way before a furious blast; the pole tore through the top, and in an
instant we were half suffocated by the cold and dripping folds of the
canvas, which fell down upon us. Seizing upon our guns, we placed
them erect, in order to lift the saturated cloth above our heads. In
this disagreeable situation, involved among wet blankets and buffalo
robes, we spent several hours of the night during which the storm
would not abate for a moment, but pelted down above our heads with
merciless fury. Before long the ground beneath us became soaked with
moisture, and the water gathered there in a pool two or three inches
deep; so that for a considerable part of the night we were partially
immersed in a cold bath. In spite of all this, Tete Rouge's flow of
spirits did not desert him for an instant, he laughed, whistled, and
sung in defiance of the storm, and that night he paid off the long
arrears of ridicule which he owed us. While we lay in silence,
enduring the infliction with what philosophy we could muster, Tete
Rouge, who was intoxicated with animal spirits, was cracking jokes at
our expense by the hour together. At about three o'clock in the
morning, "preferring the tyranny of the open night" to such a
wretched shelter, we crawled out from beneath the fallen canvas. The
wind had abated, but the rain fell steadily. The fire of the
California men still blazed amid the darkness, and we joined them as
they sat around it. We made ready some hot coffee by way of
refreshment; but when some of the party sought to replenish their
cups, it was found that Tete Rouge, having disposed of his own share,
had privately abstracted the coffee-pot and drank up the rest of the
contents out of the spout.

In the morning, to our great joy, an unclouded sun rose upon the
prairie. We presented rather a laughable appearance, for the cold
and clammy buckskin, saturated with water, clung fast to our limbs;
the light wind and warm sunshine soon dried them again, and then we
were all incased in armor of intolerable rigidity. Roaming all day
over the prairie and shooting two or three bulls, were scarcely
enough to restore the stiffened leather to its usual pliancy.

Besides Henry Chatillon, Shaw and I were the only hunters in the
party. Munroe this morning made an attempt to run a buffalo, but his
horse could not come up to the game. Shaw went out with him, and
being better mounted soon found himself in the midst of the herd.
Seeing nothing but cows and calves around him, he checked his horse.
An old bull came galloping on the open prairie at some distance
behind, and turning, Shaw rode across his path, leveling his gun as
he passed, and shooting him through the shoulder into the heart. The
heavy bullets of Shaw's double-barreled gun made wild work wherever
they struck.

A great flock of buzzards were usually soaring about a few trees that
stood on the island just below our camp. Throughout the whole of
yesterday we had noticed an eagle among them; to-day he was still
there; and Tete Rouge, declaring that he would kill the bird of
America, borrowed Delorier's gun and set out on his unpatriotic
mission. As might have been expected, the eagle suffered no great
harm at his hands. He soon returned, saying that he could not find
him, but had shot a buzzard instead. Being required to produce the
bird in proof of his assertion he said he believed he was not quite
dead, but he must be hurt, from the swiftness with which he flew off.

"If you want," said Tete Rouge, "I'll go and get one of his feathers;
I knocked off plenty of them when I shot him."

Just opposite our camp was another island covered with bushes, and
behind it was a deep pool of water, while two or three considerable
streams course'd over the sand not far off. I was bathing at this
place in the afternoon when a white wolf, larger than the largest
Newfoundland dog, ran out from behind the point of the island, and
galloped leisurely over the sand not half a stone's throw distant. I
could plainly see his red eyes and the bristles about his snout; he
was an ugly scoundrel, with a bushy tail, large head, and a most
repulsive countenance. Having neither rifle to shoot nor stone to
pelt him with, I was looking eagerly after some missile for his
benefit, when the report of a gun came from the camp, and the ball
threw up the sand just beyond him; at this he gave a slight jump, and
stretched away so swiftly that he soon dwindled into a mere speck on
the distant sand-beds. The number of carcasses that by this time
were lying about the prairie all around us summoned the wolves from
every quarter; the spot where Shaw and Henry had hunted together soon
became their favorite resort, for here about a dozen dead buffalo
were fermenting under the hot sun. I used often to go over the river
and watch them at their meal; by lying under the bank it was easy to
get a full view of them. Three different kinds were present; there
were the white wolves and the gray wolves, both extremely large, and
besides these the small prairie wolves, not much bigger than
spaniels. They would howl and fight in a crowd around a single
carcass, yet they were so watchful, and their senses so acute, that I
never was able to crawl within a fair shooting distance; whenever I
attempted it, they would all scatter at once and glide silently away
through the tall grass. The air above this spot was always full of
buzzards or black vultures; whenever the wolves left a carcass they
would descend upon it, and cover it so densely that a rifle-bullet
shot at random among the gormandizing crowd would generally strike
down two or three of them. These birds would now be sailing by
scores just about our camp, their broad black wings seeming half
transparent as they expanded them against the bright sky. The wolves
and the buzzards thickened about us with every hour, and two or three
eagles also came into the feast. I killed a bull within rifle-shot
of the camp; that night the wolves made a fearful howling close at
hand, and in the morning the carcass was completely hollowed out by
these voracious feeders.

After we had remained four days at this camp we prepared to leave it.
We had for our own part about five hundred pounds of dried meat, and
the California men had prepared some three hundred more; this
consisted of the fattest and choicest parts of eight or nine cows, a
very small quantity only being taken from each, and the rest
abandoned to the wolves. The pack animals were laden, the horses
were saddled, and the mules harnessed to the cart. Even Tete Rouge
was ready at last, and slowly moving from the ground, we resumed our
journey eastward. When we had advanced about a mile, Shaw missed a
valuable hunting knife and turned back in search of it, thinking that
he had left it at the camp. He approached the place cautiously,
fearful that Indians might be lurking about, for a deserted camp is
dangerous to return to. He saw no enemy, but the scene was a wild
and dreary one; the prairie was overshadowed by dull, leaden clouds,
for the day was dark and gloomy. The ashes of the fires were still
smoking by the river side; the grass around them was trampled down by
men and horses, and strewn with all the litter of a camp. Our
departure had been a gathering signal to the birds and beasts of
prey; Shaw assured me that literally dozens of wolves were prowling
about the smoldering fires, while multitudes were roaming over the
prairie around; they all fled as he approached, some running over the
sand-beds and some over the grassy plains. The vultures in great
clouds were soaring overhead, and the dead bull near the camp was
completely blackened by the flock that had alighted upon it; they
flapped their broad wings, and stretched upward their crested heads
and long skinny necks, fearing to remain, yet reluctant to leave
their disgusting feast. As he searched about the fires he saw the
wolves seated on the distant hills waiting for his departure. Having
looked in vain for his knife, he mounted again, and left the wolves
and the vultures to banquet freely upon the carrion of the camp.



In the summer of 1846 the wild and lonely banks of the Upper Arkansas
beheld for the first time the passage of an army. General Kearny, on
his march to Santa Fe, adopted this route in preference to the old
trail of the Cimarron. When we came down the main body of the troops
had already passed on; Price's Missouri regiment, however, was still
on the way, having left the frontier much later than the rest; and
about this time we began to meet them moving along the trail, one or
two companies at a time. No men ever embarked upon a military
expedition with a greater love for the work before them than the
Missourians; but if discipline and subordination be the criterion of
merit, these soldiers were worthless indeed. Yet when their exploits
have rung through all America, it would be absurd to deny that they
were excellent irregular troops. Their victories were gained in the
teeth of every established precedent of warfare; they were owing to a
singular combination of military qualities in the men themselves.
Without discipline or a spirit of subordination, they knew how to
keep their ranks and act as one man. Doniphan's regiment marched
through New Mexico more like a band of free companions than like the
paid soldiers of a modern government. When General Taylor
complimented Doniphan on his success at Sacramento and elsewhere, the
colonel's reply very well illustrates the relations which subsisted
between the officers and men of his command:

"I don't know anything of the maneuvers. The boys kept coming to me,
to let them charge; and when I saw a good opportunity, I told them
they might go. They were off like a shot, and that's all I know
about it."

The backwoods lawyer was better fitted to conciliate the good-will
than to command the obedience of his men. There were many serving
under him, who both from character and education could better have
held command than he.

At the battle of Sacramento his frontiersmen fought under every
possible disadvantage. The Mexicans had chosen their own position;
they were drawn up across the valley that led to their native city of
Chihuahua; their whole front was covered by intrenchments and
defended by batteries of heavy cannon; they outnumbered the invaders
five to one. An eagle flew over the Americans, and a deep murmur
rose along their lines. The enemy's batteries opened; long they
remained under fire, but when at length the word was given, they
shouted and ran forward. In one of the divisions, when midway to the
enemy, a drunken officer ordered a halt; the exasperated men
hesitated to obey.

"Forward, boys!" cried a private from the ranks; and the Americans,
rushing like tigers upon the enemy, bounded over the breastwork.
Four hundred Mexicans were slain upon the spot and the rest fled,
scattering over the plain like sheep. The standards, cannon, and
baggage were taken, and among the rest a wagon laden with cords,
which the Mexicans, in the fullness of their confidence, had made
ready for tying the American prisoners.

Doniphan's volunteers, who gained this victory, passed up with the
main army; but Price's soldiers, whom we now met, were men from the
same neighborhood, precisely similar in character, manner, and
appearance. One forenoon, as we were descending upon a very wide
meadow, where we meant to rest for an hour or two, we saw a dark body
of horsemen approaching at a distance. In order to find water, we
were obliged to turn aside to the river bank, a full half mile from
the trail. Here we put up a kind of awning, and spreading buffalo
robes on the ground, Shaw and I sat down to smoke beneath it.

"We are going to catch it now," said Shaw; "look at those fellows,
there'll be no peace for us here."

And in good truth about half the volunteers had straggled away from
the line of march, and were riding over the meadow toward us.

"How are you?" said the first who came up, alighting from his horse
and throwing himself upon the ground. The rest followed close, and a
score of them soon gathered about us, some lying at full length and
some sitting on horseback. They all belonged to a company raised in
St. Louis. There were some ruffian faces among them, and some
haggard with debauchery; but on the whole they were extremely good-
looking men, superior beyond measure to the ordinary rank and file of
an army. Except that they were booted to the knees, they wore their
belts and military trappings over the ordinary dress of citizens.
Besides their swords and holster pistols, they carried slung from
their saddles the excellent Springfield carbines, loaded at the
breech. They inquired the character of our party, and were anxious
to know the prospect of killing buffalo, and the chance that their
horses would stand the journey to Santa Fe. All this was well
enough, but a moment after a worse visitation came upon us.

"How are you, strangers? whar are you going and whar are you from?"
said a fellow, who came trotting up with an old straw hat on his
head. He was dressed in the coarsest brown homespun cloth. His face
was rather sallow from fever-and-ague, and his tall figure, though
strong and sinewy was quite thin, and had besides an angular look,
which, together with his boorish seat on horseback, gave him an
appearance anything but graceful. Plenty more of the same stamp were
close behind him. Their company was raised in one of the frontier
counties, and we soon had abundant evidence of their rustic breeding;
dozens of them came crowding round, pushing between our first
visitors and staring at us with unabashed faces.

"Are you the captain?" asked one fellow.

"What's your business out here?" asked another.

"Whar do you live when you're at home?" said a third.

"I reckon you're traders," surmised a fourth; and to crown the whole,
one of them came confidentially to my side and inquired in a low
voice, "What's your partner's name?"

As each newcomer repeated the same questions, the nuisance became
intolerable. Our military visitors were soon disgusted at the
concise nature of our replies, and we could overhear them muttering
curses against us. While we sat smoking, not in the best imaginable
humor, Tete Rouge's tongue was never idle. He never forgot his
military character, and during the whole interview he was incessantly
busy among his fellow-soldiers. At length we placed him on the
ground before us, and told him that he might play the part of
spokesman for the whole. Tete Rouge was delighted, and we soon had
the satisfaction of seeing him talk and gabble at such a rate that
the torrent of questions was in a great measure diverted from us. A
little while after, to our amazement, we saw a large cannon with four
horses come lumbering up behind the crowd; and the driver, who was
perched on one of the animals, stretching his neck so as to look over
the rest of the men, called out:

"Whar are you from, and what's your business?"

The captain of one of the companies was among our visitors, drawn by
the same curiosity that had attracted his men. Unless their faces
belied them, not a few in the crowd might with great advantage have
changed places with their commander.

"Well, men," said he, lazily rising from the ground where he had been
lounging, "it's getting late, I reckon we had better be moving."

"I shan't start yet anyhow," said one fellow, who was lying half
asleep with his head resting on his arm.

"Don't be in a hurry, captain," added the lieutenant.

"Well, have it your own way, we'll wait a while longer," replied the
obsequious commander.

At length however our visitors went straggling away as they had come,
and we, to our great relief, were left alone again.

No one can deny the intrepid bravery of these men, their intelligence
and the bold frankness of their character, free from all that is mean
and sordid. Yet for the moment the extreme roughness of their
manners half inclines one to forget their heroic qualities. Most of
them seem without the least perception of delicacy or propriety,
though among them individuals may be found in whose manners there is
a plain courtesy, while their features bespeak a gallant spirit equal
to any enterprise.

No one was more relieved than Delorier by the departure of the
volunteers; for dinner was getting colder every moment. He spread a
well-whitened buffalo hide upon the grass, placed in the middle the
juicy hump of a fat cow, ranged around it the tin plates and cups,
and then acquainted us that all was ready. Tete Rouge, with his
usual alacrity on such occasions, was the first to take his seat. In
his former capacity of steamboat clerk, he had learned to prefix the
honorary MISTER to everybody's name, whether of high or low degree;
so Jim Gurney was Mr. Gurney, Henry was Mr. Henry, and even Delorier,
for the first time in his life, heard himself addressed as Mr.
Delorier. This did not prevent his conceiving a violent enmity
against Tete Rouge, who, in his futile though praiseworthy attempts
to make himself useful used always to intermeddle with cooking the
dinners. Delorier's disposition knew no medium between smiles and
sunshine and a downright tornado of wrath; he said nothing to Tete
Rouge, but his wrongs rankled in his breast. Tete Rouge had taken
his place at dinner; it was his happiest moment; he sat enveloped in
the old buffalo coat, sleeves turned up in preparation for the work,
and his short legs crossed on the grass before him; he had a cup of
coffee by his side and his knife ready in his hand and while he
looked upon the fat hump ribs, his eyes dilated with anticipation.
Delorier sat just opposite to him, and the rest of us by this time
had taken our seats.

"How is this, Delorier? You haven't given us bread enough."

At this Delorier's placid face flew instantly into a paroxysm of
contortions. He grinned with wrath, chattered, gesticulated, and
hurled forth a volley of incoherent words in broken English at the
astonished Tete Rouge. It was just possible to make out that he was
accusing him of having stolen and eaten four large cakes which had
been laid by for dinner. Tete Rouge, utterly confounded at this
sudden attack, stared at Delorier for a moment in dumb amazement,
with mouth and eyes wide open. At last he found speech, and
protested that the accusation was false; and that he could not
conceive how he had offended Mr. Delorier, or provoked him to use
such ungentlemanly expressions. The tempest of words raged with such
fury that nothing else could be heard. But Tete Rouge, from his
greater command of English, had a manifest advantage over Delorier,
who after sputtering and grimacing for a while, found his words quite
inadequate to the expression of his wrath. He jumped up and
vanished, jerking out between his teeth one furious sacre enfant de
grace, a Canadian title of honor, made doubly emphatic by being
usually applied together with a cut of the whip to refractory mules
and horses.

The next morning we saw an old buffalo escorting his cow with two
small calves over the prairie. Close behind came four or five large
white wolves, sneaking stealthily through the long meadow-grass, and
watching for the moment when one of the children should chance to lag
behind his parents. The old bull kept well on his guard, and faced
about now and then to keep the prowling ruffians at a distance.

As we approached our nooning place, we saw five or six buffalo
standing at the very summit of a tall bluff. Trotting forward to the
spot where we meant to stop, I flung off my saddle and turned my
horse loose. By making a circuit under cover of some rising ground,
I reached the foot of the bluff unnoticed, and climbed up its steep
side. Lying under the brow of the declivity, I prepared to fire at
the buffalo, who stood on the flat surface about not five yards
distant. Perhaps I was too hasty, for the gleaming rifle-barrel
leveled over the edge caught their notice; they turned and ran.
Close as they were, it was impossible to kill them when in that
position, and stepping upon the summit I pursued them over the high
arid tableland. It was extremely rugged and broken; a great sandy
ravine was channeled through it, with smaller ravines entering on
each side like tributary streams. The buffalo scattered, and I soon
lost sight of most of them as they scuttled away through the sandy
chasms; a bull and a cow alone kept in view. For a while they ran
along the edge of the great ravine, appearing and disappearing as
they dived into some chasm and again emerged from it. At last they
stretched out upon the broad prairie, a plain nearly flat and almost
devoid of verdure, for every short grass-blade was dried and
shriveled by the glaring sun. Now and then the old bull would face
toward me; whenever he did so I fell to the ground and lay
motionless. In this manner I chased them for about two miles, until
at length I heard in front a deep hoarse bellowing. A moment after a
band of about a hundred bulls, before hidden by a slight swell of the
plain, came at once into view. The fugitives ran toward them.
Instead of mingling with the band, as I expected, they passed
directly through, and continued their flight. At this I gave up the
chase, and kneeling down, crawled to within gunshot of the bulls, and
with panting breath and trickling brow sat down on the ground to
watch them; my presence did not disturb them in the least. They were
not feeding, for, indeed, there was nothing to eat; but they seemed
to have chosen the parched and scorching desert as the scene of their
amusements. Some were rolling on the ground amid a cloud of dust;
others, with a hoarse rumbling bellow, were butting their large heads
together, while many stood motionless, as if quite inanimate. Except
their monstrous growth of tangled grizzly mane, they had no hair; for
their old coat had fallen off in the spring, and their new one had
not as yet appeared. Sometimes an old bull would step forward, and
gaze at me with a grim and stupid countenance; then he would turn and
butt his next neighbor; then he would lie down and roll over in the
dirt, kicking his hoofs in the air. When satisfied with this
amusement he would jerk his head and shoulders upward, and resting on
his forelegs stare at me in this position, half blinded by his mane,
and his face covered with dirt; then up he would spring upon all-
fours, and shake his dusty sides; turning half round, he would stand
with his beard touching the ground, in an attitude of profound
abstraction, as if reflecting on his puerile conduct. "You are too
ugly to live," thought I; and aiming at the ugliest, I shot three of
them in succession. The rest were not at all discomposed at this;
they kept on bellowing and butting and rolling on the ground as
before. Henry Chatillon always cautioned us to keep perfectly quiet
in the presence of a wounded buffalo, for any movement is apt to
excite him to make an attack; so I sat still upon the ground, loading
and firing with as little motion as possible. While I was thus
employed, a spectator made his appearance; a little antelope came
running up with remarkable gentleness to within fifty yards; and
there it stood, its slender neck arched, its small horns thrown back,
and its large dark eyes gazing on me with a look of eager curiosity.
By the side of the shaggy and brutish monsters before me, it seemed
like some lovely young girl wandering near a den of robbers or a nest
of bearded pirates. The buffalo looked uglier than ever. "Here goes
for another of you," thought I, feeling in my pouch for a percussion
cap. Not a percussion cap was there. My good rifle was useless as
an old iron bar. One of the wounded bulls had not yet fallen, and I
waited for some time, hoping every moment that his strength would
fail him. He still stood firm, looking grimly at me, and
disregarding Henry's advice I rose and walked away. Many of the
bulls turned and looked at me, but the wounded brute made no attack.
I soon came upon a deep ravine which would give me shelter in case of
emergency; so I turned round and threw a stone at the bulls. They
received it with the utmost indifference. Feeling myself insulted at
their refusal to be frightened, I swung my hat, shouted, and made a
show of running toward them; at this they crowded together and
galloped off, leaving their dead and wounded upon the field. As I
moved toward the camp I saw the last survivor totter and fall dead.
My speed in returning was wonderfully quickened by the reflection
that the Pawnees were abroad, and that I was defenseless in case of
meeting with an enemy. I saw no living thing, however, except two or
three squalid old bulls scrambling among the sand-hills that flanked
the great ravine. When I reached camp the party was nearly ready for
the afternoon move.

We encamped that evening at a short distance from the river bank.
About midnight, as we all lay asleep on the ground, the man nearest
to me gently reaching out his hand, touched my shoulder, and
cautioned me at the same time not to move. It was bright starlight.
Opening my eyes and slightly turning I saw a large white wolf moving
stealthily around the embers of our fire, with his nose close to the
ground. Disengaging my hand from the blanket, I drew the cover from
my rifle, which lay close at my side; the motion alarmed the wolf,
and with long leaps he bounded out of the camp. Jumping up, I fired
after him when he was about thirty yards distant; the melancholy hum
of the bullet sounded far away through the night. At the sharp
report, so suddenly breaking upon the stillness, all the men sprang

"You've killed him," said one of them.

"No, I haven't," said I; "there he goes, running along the river.

"Then there's two of them. Don't you see that one lying out yonder?"

We went to it, and instead of a dead white wolf found the bleached
skull of a buffalo. I had missed my mark, and what was worse, had
grossly violated a standing law of the prairie. When in a dangerous
part of the country, it is considered highly imprudent to fire a gun
after encamping, lest the report should reach the ears of the

The horses were saddled in the morning, and the last man had lighted
his pipe at the dying ashes of the fire. The beauty of the day
enlivened us all. Even Ellis felt its influence, and occasionally
made a remark as we rode along, and Jim Gurney told endless stories
of his cruisings in the United States service. The buffalo were
abundant, and at length a large band of them went running up the
hills on the left.

"Do you see them buffalo?" said Ellis, "now I'll bet any man I'll go
and kill one with my yager."

And leaving his horse to follow on with the party, he strode up the
hill after them. Henry looked at us with his peculiar humorous
expression, and proposed that we should follow Ellis to see how he
would kill a fat cow. As soon as he was out of sight we rode up the
hill after him, and waited behind a little ridge till we heard the
report of the unfailing yager. Mounting to the top, we saw Ellis
clutching his favorite weapon with both hands, and staring after the
buffalo, who one and all were galloping off at full speed. As we
descended the hill we saw the party straggling along the trail below.
When we joined them, another scene of amateur hunting awaited us. I
forgot to say that when we met the volunteers Tete Rouge had obtained
a horse from one of them, in exchange for his mule, whom he feared
and detested. The horse he christened James. James, though not
worth so much as the mule, was a large and strong animal. Tete Rouge
was very proud of his new acquisition, and suddenly became ambitious
to run a buffalo with him. At his request, I lent him my pistols,
though not without great misgivings, since when Tete Rouge hunted
buffalo the pursuer was in more danger than the pursued. He hung the
holsters at his saddle bow; and now, as we passed along, a band of
bulls left their grazing in the meadow and galloped in a long file
across the trail in front.

"Now's your chance, Tete; come, let's see you kill a bull." Thus
urged, the hunter cried, "Get up!" and James, obedient to the signal,
cantered deliberately forward at an abominably uneasy gait. Tete
Rouge, as we contemplated him from behind; made a most remarkable
figure. He still wore the old buffalo coat; his blanket, which was
tied in a loose bundle behind his saddle, went jolting from one side
to the other, and a large tin canteen half full of water, which hung
from his pommel, was jerked about his leg in a manner which greatly
embarrassed him.

"Let out your horse, man; lay on your whip!" we called out to him.
The buffalo were getting farther off at every instant. James, being
ambitious to mend his pace, tugged hard at the rein, and one of his
rider's boots escaped from the stirrup.

"Woa! I say, woa!" cried Tete Rouge, in great perturbation, and
after much effort James' progress was arrested. The hunter came
trotting back to the party, disgusted with buffalo running, and he
was received with overwhelming congratulations.

"Too good a chance to lose," said Shaw, pointing to another band of
bulls on the left. We lashed our horses and galloped upon them.
Shaw killed one with each barrel of his gun. I separated another
from the herd and shot him. The small bullet of the rifled pistol,
striking too far back, did not immediately take effect, and the bull
ran on with unabated speed. Again and again I snapped the remaining
pistol at him. I primed it afresh three or four times, and each time
it missed fire, for the touch-hole was clogged up. Returning it to
the holster, I began to load the empty pistol, still galloping by the
side of the bull. By this time he was grown desperate. The foam
flew from his jaws and his tongue lolled out. Before the pistol was
loaded he sprang upon me, and followed up his attack with a furious
rush. The only alternative was to run away or be killed. I took to
flight, and the bull, bristling with fury, pursued me closely. The
pistol was soon ready, and then looking back, I saw his head five or
six yards behind my horse's tail. To fire at it would be useless,
for a bullet flattens against the adamantine skull of a buffalo bull.
Inclining my body to the left, I turned my horse in that direction as
sharply as his speed would permit. The bull, rushing blindly on with
great force and weight, did not turn so quickly. As I looked back,
his neck and shoulders were exposed to view; turning in the saddle, I
shot a bullet through them obliquely into his vitals. He gave over
the chase and soon fell to the ground. An English tourist represents
a situation like this as one of imminent danger; this is a great
mistake; the bull never pursues long, and the horse must be wretched
indeed that cannot keep out of his way for two or three minutes.

We were now come to a part of the country where we were bound in
common prudence to use every possible precaution. We mounted guard
at night, each man standing in his turn; and no one ever slept
without drawing his rifle close to his side or folding it with him in
his blanket. One morning our vigilance was stimulated by our finding
traces of a large Comanche encampment. Fortunately for us, however,
it had been abandoned nearly a week. On the next evening we found
the ashes of a recent fire, which gave us at the time some
uneasiness. At length we reached the Caches, a place of dangerous
repute; and it had a most dangerous appearance, consisting of sand-
hills everywhere broken by ravines and deep chasms. Here we found
the grave of Swan, killed at this place, probably by the Pawnees, two
or three weeks before. His remains, more than once violated by the
Indians and the wolves, were suffered at length to remain undisturbed
in their wild burial place.

For several days we met detached companies of Price's regiment.
Horses would often break loose at night from their camps. One
afternoon we picked up three of these stragglers quietly grazing
along the river. After we came to camp that evening, Jim Gurney
brought news that more of them were in sight. It was nearly dark,
and a cold, drizzling rain had set in; but we all turned out, and
after an hour's chase nine horses were caught and brought in. One of
them was equipped with saddle and bridle; pistols were hanging at the
pommel of the saddle, a carbine was slung at its side, and a blanket
rolled up behind it. In the morning, glorying in our valuable prize,
we resumed our journey, and our cavalcade presented a much more
imposing appearance than ever before. We kept on till the afternoon,
when, far behind, three horsemen appeared on the horizon. Coming on
at a hand-gallop, they soon overtook us, and claimed all the horses
as belonging to themselves and others of their company. They were of
course given up, very much to the mortification of Ellis and Jim

Our own horses now showed signs of fatigue, and we resolved to give
them half a day's rest. We stopped at noon at a grassy spot by the
river. After dinner Shaw and Henry went out to hunt; and while the
men lounged about the camp, I lay down to read in the shadow of the
cart. Looking up, I saw a bull grazing alone on the prairie more
than a mile distant. I was tired of reading, and taking my rifle I
walked toward him. As I came near, I crawled upon the ground until I
approached to within a hundred yards; here I sat down upon the grass
and waited till he should turn himself into a proper position to
receive his death-wound. He was a grim old veteran. His loves and
his battles were over for that season, and now, gaunt and war-worn,
he had withdrawn from the herd to graze by himself and recruit his
exhausted strength. He was miserably emaciated; his mane was all in
tatters; his hide was bare and rough as an elephant's, and covered
with dried patches of the mud in which he had been wallowing. He
showed all his ribs whenever he moved. He looked like some grizzly
old ruffian grown gray in blood and violence, and scowling on all the
world from his misanthropic seclusion. The old savage looked up when
I first approached, and gave me a fierce stare; then he fell to
grazing again with an air of contemptuous indifference. The moment
after, as if suddenly recollecting himself, he threw up his head,
faced quickly about, and to my amazement came at a rapid trot
directly toward me. I was strongly impelled to get up and run, but
this would have been very dangerous. Sitting quite still I aimed, as
he came on, at the thin part of the skull above the nose. After he
had passed over about three-quarters of the distance between us, I
was on the point of firing, when, to my great satisfaction, he
stopped short. I had full opportunity of studying his countenance;
his whole front was covered with a huge mass of coarse matted hair,
which hung so low that nothing but his two forefeet were visible
beneath it; his short thick horns were blunted and split to the very
roots in his various battles, and across his nose and forehead were
two or three large white scars, which gave him a grim and at the same
time a whimsical appearance. It seemed to me that he stood there
motionless for a full quarter of an hour, looking at me through the
tangled locks of his mane. For my part, I remained as quiet as he,
and looked quite as hard; I felt greatly inclined to come to term
with him. "My friend," thought I, "if you'll let me off, I'll let
you off." At length he seemed to have abandoned any hostile design.
Very slowly and deliberately he began to turn about; little by little
his side came into view, all be-plastered with mud. It was a
tempting sight. I forgot my prudent intentions, and fired my rifle;
a pistol would have served at that distance. Round spun old bull
like a top, and away he galloped over the prairie. He ran some
distance, and even ascended a considerable hill, before he lay down
and died. After shooting another bull among the hills, I went back
to camp.

At noon, on the 14th of September, a very large Santa Fe caravan came
up. The plain was covered with the long files of their white-topped
wagons, the close black carriages in which the traders travel and
sleep, large droves of animals, and men on horseback and on foot.
They all stopped on the meadow near us. Our diminutive cart and
handful of men made but an insignificant figure by the side of their
wide and bustling camp. Tete Rouge went over to visit them, and soon
came back with half a dozen biscuits in one hand and a bottle of
brandy in the other. I inquired where he got them. "Oh," said Tete
Rouge, "I know some of the traders. Dr. Dobbs is there besides." I
asked who Dr. Dobbs might be. "One of our St. Louis doctors,"
replied Tete Rouge. For two days past I had been severely attacked
by the same disorder which had so greatly reduced my strength when at
the mountains; at this time I was suffering not a little from the
sudden pain and weakness which it occasioned. Tete Rouge, in answer
to my inquiries, declared that Dr. Dobbs was a physician of the first
standing. Without at all believing him, I resolved to consult this
eminent practitioner. Walking over to the camp, I found him lying
sound asleep under one of the wagons. He offered in his own person
but an indifferent specimen of his skill, for it was five months
since I had seen so cadaverous a face.

His hat had fallen off, and his yellow hair was all in disorder; one
of his arms supplied the place of a pillow; his pantaloons were
wrinkled halfway up to his knees, and he was covered with little bits
of grass and straw, upon which he had rolled in his uneasy slumber.
A Mexican stood near, and I made him a sign that he should touch the
doctor. Up sprang the learned Dobbs, and, sitting upright, rubbed
his eyes and looked about him in great bewilderment. I regretted the
necessity of disturbing him, and said I had come to ask professional
advice. "Your system, sir, is in a disordered state," said he
solemnly, after a short examination.

I inquired what might be the particular species of disorder.

"Evidently a morbid action of the liver," replied the medical man; "I
will give you a prescription."

Repairing to the back of one of the covered wagons, he scrambled in;
for a moment I could see nothing of him but his boots. At length he
produced a box which he had extracted from some dark recess within,
and opening it, he presented me with a folded paper of some size.
"What is it?" said I. "Calomel," said the doctor.

Under the circumstances I would have taken almost anything. There
was not enough to do me much harm, and it might possibly do good; so
at camp that night I took the poison instead of supper.

That camp is worthy of notice. The traders warned us not to follow
the main trail along the river, "unless," as one of them observed,
"you want to have your throats cut!" The river at this place makes a
bend; and a smaller trail, known as the Ridge-path, leads directly
across the prairie from point to point, a distance of sixty or
seventy miles.

We followed this trail, and after traveling seven or eight miles, we
came to a small stream, where we encamped. Our position was not
chosen with much forethought or military skill. The water was in a
deep hollow, with steep, high banks; on the grassy bottom of this
hollow we picketed our horses, while we ourselves encamped upon the
barren prairie just above. The opportunity was admirable either for
driving off our horses or attacking us. After dark, as Tete Rouge
was sitting at supper, we observed him pointing with a face of
speechless horror over the shoulder of Henry, who was opposite to
him. Aloof amid the darkness appeared a gigantic black apparition;
solemnly swaying to and fro, it advanced steadily upon us. Henry,
half vexed and half amused, jumped up, spread out his arms, and
shouted. The invader was an old buffalo bull, who with
characteristic stupidity, was walking directly into camp. It cost
some shouting and swinging of hats before we could bring him first to
a halt and then to a rapid retreat.

That night the moon was full and bright; but as the black clouds
chased rapidly over it, we were at one moment in light and at the
next in darkness. As the evening advanced, a thunderstorm came up;
it struck us with such violence that the tent would have been blown
over if we had not interposed the cart to break the force of the
wind. At length it subsided to a steady rain. I lay awake through
nearly the whole night, listening to its dull patter upon the canvas
above. The moisture, which filled the tent and trickled from
everything in it, did not add to the comfort of the situation. About
twelve o'clock Shaw went out to stand guard amid the rain and pitch
darkness. Munroe, the most vigilant as well as one of the bravest
among us, was also on the alert. When about two hours had passed,
Shaw came silently in, and touching Henry, called him in a low quick
voice to come out. "What is it?" I asked. "Indians, I believe,"
whispered Shaw; "but lie still; I'll call you if there's a fight."

He and Henry went out together. I took the cover from my rifle, put
a fresh percussion cap upon it, and then, being in much pain, lay
down again. In about five minutes Shaw came in again. "All right,"
he said, as he lay down to sleep. Henry was now standing guard in
his place. He told me in the morning the particulars of the alarm.
Munroe' s watchful eye discovered some dark objects down in the
hollow, among the horses, like men creeping on all fours. Lying flat
on their faces, he and Shaw crawled to the edge of the bank, and were
soon convinced that what they saw were Indians. Shaw silently
withdrew to call Henry, and they all lay watching in the same
position. Henry's eye is of the best on the prairie. He detected
after a while the true nature of the moving objects; they were
nothing but wolves creeping among the horses.

It is very singular that when picketed near a camp horses seldom show
any fear of such an intrusion. The wolves appear to have no other
object than that of gnawing the trail-ropes of raw hide by which the
animals are secured. Several times in the course of the journey my
horse's trail-rope was bitten in two by these nocturnal visitors.



The next day was extremely hot, and we rode from morning till night
without seeing a tree or a bush or a drop of water. Our horses and
mules suffered much more than we, but as sunset approached they
pricked up their ears and mended their pace. Water was not far off.
When we came to the descent of the broad shallowy valley where it
lay, an unlooked-for sight awaited us. The stream glistened at the
bottom, and along its banks were pitched a multitude of tents, while
hundreds of cattle were feeding over the meadows. Bodies of troops,
both horse and foot, and long trains of wagons with men, women, and
children, were moving over the opposite ridge and descending the
broad declivity in front. These were the Mormon battalion in the
service of government, together with a considerable number of
Missouri volunteers. The Mormons were to be paid off in California,
and they were allowed to bring with them their families and property.
There was something very striking in the half-military, half-
patriarchal appearance of these armed fanatics, thus on their way


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