[From the Literary World.]
Capt. Stansbury's Expedition to the Great Salt Lake.
The party of investigation led by Capt. Stansbury, for the purposes of a reconnois-sance of the great Western routes and a survey of the Mormon Territory, was or-ganized by the Bureau of Topographical Engineers in 1849. In June of that year the expedition, including eighteen men with five wagons and forty-six horses and mules, set forth from Fort Leavenworth. It reached Salt Lake City at the close of August. A year was passed at this point in winter quarters, and in a comprehensive survey of the adjacent regions, the route to. Fort Hall, the circuit of the lake by land, its exploration by water, a scientific adjust-ment of localities, measurement of distan-ces, and an examination of the agricultural and mineral resources and the natural his-tory of the country. On the 27th of Au-gust, 1850, the company set out on its re-turn, pursuing generally the same route, by the emigration road, of the advance, and reaching Fort Leavenworth on the 6th of November. The objects of the journey were of a practical character, and were pursued with a systematic zeal and fidelity, fully exhibiting the value and importance of the scientific training of the officers of the army.
A man has a very inadequate idea of the services of a modern officer, at least of the school of those who graduated at West Point, who thinks his duties begin with routine and pipe-clay and end with the slaughtering of his foes. A battle may be but of a single occurrence in a life-time: but on the vast area of duty of our great Western possessions the officers of the army are continually exercising their capacity as engineers, surveyors, pioneers, foresters, with the multitude of relations to the In-dians of the wilderness, to the emigration parties which the remote frontier life in-duces. There they encounter every variety of hardship, of climate, and prove their manhood by tests unknown to the camps and parades of Europe. They exhibit every day the virtues of courage and endurance, though seldom honored with the glory of military conquest. Their acts are those of the soldier, but they minister directly to peace. They lay down the road for the emigrant, instruct him in the best methods of transit, and neutralize or overpower the hostility of the savage. When actual war-fare tests their powers on a more brilliant field, they are found, as in Mexico, the sure masters of victory.
Capt. Stansbury and his brother officers Expedition to the Great Salt Lake, besides providing a liberal fund of information and entertainment for the general reader, is stocked with practical results which will guide over his long journey the little cara-van of the humblest emigrant. Such is the itinerary of every day's journey by which the progress of a camp may be regulated with military precision, the meteorological journals, the advice as to routes, and the example, worth as much as any of the rest, of cheerful, uniform good sense and perseverance.
The value of a nice calculation of re-sources and adjustment of means to the ends of the journey is not to be despised on the prairie. Every where along the great route Capt. Stansbury, in 1849, found the wreck of capital and comfort in the abandonment of articles of value. We have constantly in his journal such records; as these:
"A small party, with a single wagon, drove into camp just as we were leaving the ground. They had formed part of a com-pany from St. Louis, had proceeded within sixty miles of Fort Kearney, and had quar-relled, and had become disgusted with the trip and with each other, and had separat-ed. These persons were on their return to St. Louis. They gave discouraging ac-counts of matters ahead. Wagons, they said, could be bought upon the route of emigration for ten or fifteen dollars a piece, and provisions for almost nothing at all. So much for arduous enterprises rashly un-dertaken, and prosecuted without previous knowledge or suitable preparation! What else could be expected?
"We passed today the nearly consumed fragments of about a dozen wagons that had been broken up and burnt by their owners; and near them was piled up in one heap from six to eight hundred weight of bacon, thrown away for want of means to transport it further. Boxes, bonnets, trunks, wagon wheels, whole wagon-bodies, cooking uten-sils, and in fact almost every article of household furniture, was found from place to place along the prairie, abandoned for the same reason.
“The road, as usual, was strewn with fragments of broken and burnt wagons, trunks, and immense quantities of white beans, which seemed to have been thrown away by the sackful, their owners having become tired of carrying them further, or afraid to consume them from the danger of the cholera. The commanding officer at Fort Kearney had forbidden their issue at that post on this account. Stoves, grid-irons, moulding-planes, and carpenters' tools of all sorts, were to be had at every step for the mere trouble of picking them up.
"Today we find additional and melan-choly evidence of the difficulties encounter-ed by those who are ahead of us. Before halting at noon, we passed eleven wagons that had been broken up, the spokes of the wheels taken to make pack-saddles, and the rest burnt or otherwise destroyed. The road has been literally strewn with articles that have been thrown away. Bar-iron and steel, large blacksmiths' anvils and bellows, crow-bars, drills, augers, gold-washers, chis-els, axes, lead, trunks, spades, ploughs, large grindstones, baking-ovens, cooking- stoves without number, kegs, barrels, har-ness, clothing, bacon, and beans, were found along the road in pretty much the order in which they have been enumerated. The carcases of eight oxen lying in one heap by the roadside, this morning, explained a part of the trouble. I recognised the trunks of some of the passengers who had accom-panied me from St. Louis to Kansas, on the Missouri, and who had here thrown away their wagons and every thing they could; not pack upon their mules, and proceeded on their journey. At the noon halt, an ex-cellent rifle was found in the river, thrown there by some desperate emigrant who had been unable to carry it any further. In the course of this one day the relics of seventeen wagons and the carcases of twenty-seven dead oxen have been seen."
Flour and bacon had been sold as low as one cent per pound, and in many cases meat had been used for fuel, and so on, till we are sickened with the recital. In the early summer of 1849, a Mr. Brulet, a tra-der from Fort Laramie, on his way to St. Louis, in the course of forty days on the road, had met with not less than four thou-sand wagons, averaging four persons to a wagon.
It was one of Capt. Stansbury's regula-tions on the journey never to travel on Sun-day except in cases of necessity. His tes-timony to the favorable results of this course, looking only to temporal prosperity, agrees with that of the most profound ob-servers who have tested the results of hu-man labor and the amount of human endur-ance by the institution of a week of six days' toil followed by one of rest. "I here beg to record, as the result of my experi-ence, derived not only from the present journey, but from the observation of many years spent in similar duties, that, as a mere| matter of pecuniary consideration, apart from all higher obligations, it is wise to keep the Sabbath. More work can be obtained from both men and animals by its observ-ance than where the whole seven days are uninterruptedly devoted to labor."
We select a few of the incidents of the journey:
A DUTCHMAN EN ROUTE.
"We passed also an old Dutchman, with an immense wagon, drawn by six yokes of cattle, and loaded with household furniture. Behind followed a covered cart, containing his wife, driving herself, and a host of ba-bies— the whole bound to the land of prom-ise, of the distance to which, however, they seemed to have most the most remote idea. To the tail of the cart was attached a large chicken-coop full of fowls, two milch cows followed, and next came an old mare, upon the back of which was perched a little brown-faced, bare-footed girl, not more than seven years old, while a small sucking colt brought up the rear. We had occasion to see this old gentleman and his caravan fre-quently afterwards, as we passed and re-passed each other, from time to time, on the road. The last we saw of him was on the Sweetwater, engaged in sawing his wagon into two carts, and in disposing of every thing he could sell or give away to lighten his load."
A HAPPY FAMILY ON THE PRAIRIE.
"We passed today through a large vil-lage or settlement of the prairie dog, (Arc-tomys ludoviciana,) extending in length not less than half a mile. These little ani-mals are very shy, and, at the least approach of a stranger, hie themselves with all speed to their holes, leaving only their heads visi-ble just above the surface of the ground, where, so long as the alarm lasts, they keep up a continual barking. The note some-what resembles the bark of a small puppy, but is nevertheless so peculiar as to be in-stantly recognised ever afterwards by any one who has once distinctly heard it. They are very hard to get, as they are never found far from their holes; and when shot immediately fall into them, where they are generally guarded by a rattlesnake—the usual sharer of their subterranean retreat. Several were shot by us in this situation, but when the hand was about to be thrust into the hole to draw them out, the ominous rattle of this dreaded reptile would be in-stantly heard, warning the intruder of the danger he was about to incur. A little white burrowing owl (Stryx canicularia) is frequently found taking up his abode in the same domicil; and this strange associ-ation of reptile, bird, and beast, seem to live together in perfect harmony and peace. I have never personally seen the owl thus housed, but have been assured of the fact from so many, so various, and so credible sources, that I cannot doubt it. The whirr of the rattlesnake I have heard frequently; when the attempt was made to in…de these holes, and our men at length became afraid to approach them for this purpose." GAME BEEF AND AN INDIAN'S APPETITE,
"The flesh of a fat buffalo-cow is per-haps the best beef that can be eaten; whol-ly free from the rank flavor that marks the fat of the male, it is at once juicy, tender, nutritious, and very digestible, added to which it has a game flavor, which renders it far superior to the very best beef of the States. It may, in fact, be not improperly denominated 'game beef.'
"This was the first time that any of my mess had partaken of that famous dish, the 'hump,' and the quantity disposed of was the best proof of the intense relish with which it was enjoyed. This and the tongue, tender-loin, bass, and marrow-bones, are considered the choice parts of the carcase, and where the animals are plenty, no other parts are taken, the residue being left on the ground for the wolves. Some idea may be formed of the great digestibility of this species of food, as well as of the enormous quantities devoured at a single meal, from the fact that the regular daily allowance or ration for one employee in the Fur Compa-ny's service is eight pounds, the whole of which is often consumed. It is true, how-ever, that an old mountaineer seldom eats any thing else. If he can get a cup of strong coffee, with plenty of sugar, with as much buffalo-meat as he can devour, he is, perfectly happy and content, never feeling the want either of bread or vegetables.
[Subsequently meeting with an Indian emcampment of Sioux] "the whole band halted about ten o'clock on the bank of the river, but several of the old men and the chief of the village continued with us until our noon halt. I invited the latter to lunch with us, which he did to his entire satis-faction, devouring as much meat as the whole mess beside; and I afterwards espied him seated at one of the messes of the men, as earnestly engaged in laying in an addi-tional supply as if he had not eaten for a week. The Indian, in fact, from his wan-dering habits and uncertain mode of exist-ence, acquires the faculty of laying in, when opportunity offers itself, a store of food against the fast that may follow, thus approximating the instincts of the other wild denizens of the forest."
MAINE COFFIN OUTDONE.
"I witnessed at the Pacific Springs an instance of no little ingenuity on the part of some emigrant. Immediately alongside the road was what purported to be a grave, prepared with more than usual care, having a headboard on which was painted the name and age of the deceased, the time of his death, and the part of the country from which he came. I afterwards ascertained; that this was only a ruse to conceal the fact that the grave, instead of containing the mortal remains of a human being, had been made a safe receptacle for divers casks of brandy, which the owner could carry no further. He afterwards sold his liquor to some traders, further on, who, by his de-scription of its locality, found it without difficulty."
A PARTY OF INDIAN WOMEN.
"The valley of Ogden's Creek, or Og-den's Hole, (as places of this kind, in the nomenclature of the country, are called) has long been the rendezvous of the North-west Company, on account of its fine range for stock in the winter, and has been the scene of many a merry reunion of the hardy trappers and traders of the mountains. Its streams were formerly full of beaver, but these have, I believe, entirely disappeared. Some antelopes were bounding over the green, but the appearance of fresh Indian signs' accounted for their scarcity.
"During our ride through the valley we came suddenly on a party of eight or ten Indian women and girls, each with a basket on her back, gathering grass-seeds for their winter's provision. They were of the class of root-diggers, or, as the guide called them, snake-diggers. The instant they discovered us an immediate and precipitate flight took place, nor could all the remon-strances of the guide, who called loudly after them in their own language, induce them to halt for a single moment. Those who were too close to escape by running hid themselves in the bushes and grass so effectually that in less time than it has taken to narrate the circumstance, only two of them were to be seen. These were a couple of girls of twelve or thirteen years of age, who, with their baskest dangling at their backs, set off with the upmost speed for the mountains, and continued to run as long as we could see them, without stop-ping, or so much as turning their heads to look behind them. The whole party were entirely naked. After they had disappear-ed, we came near riding over two girls of sixteen or seventeen, who had 'cached' be-hind a large fallen tree. They started up, gazed upon us for a moment, waved to us to continue our journey, and then fled with a rapidity that soon carried them beyond our sight."
A reconnaissance around Great Salt Lake was found to be attended with peculiar dif-ficulties, chiefly from the absence of water—in one case for a distance of seventy miles; and the soil for the most part was found irremediably barren and unproduc-tive, glistening with salt like a surface of snow in dry weather, and suddenly convert-ed into mud, or rather mortar, in wet. This was the scene of some of Fremont's hard-ships. The difficulties occur on the west side of the lake; upon the east are the pas-ture grounds and mountain settlements of the Mormon population.
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