CAMP SCOTT, U. T., Dec. 13th, 1857. Dear "Gay and Incomparable:"
Having a little leisure time on the day and year first above written, I concluded to give you some few items from this territory of 'Latter Day Saints,' feeling satisfied also that you were as worthy of a correspondent in this wilderness, as the New York Tribune.
It would be tedious to you, and more so to myself, to give you all the incidents of a trip across the plains, al-though there are many things which are very interest-ing to persons on their first trip; for the first two or three hundred miles, which are scarcely noticed after that dis-tance, on account of the frequency of recurrence.
About the first thing I noticed particularly was that 'Bleeding Kansas' is as little worth fighting about as so so much land at the North Pole. I would not give one good farm in Pennsylvnnia for half the Territory—Indi-ans, rattle snakes and abolitionists included. There is no timber in the Territory except along the rivers and creeks, (which are few and far between) and what there is consists principally of Willow and Cottonwood, and neither of these are of any account for lumber. The wa-ter with which the thirsty traveller expects to quench his thirst, is the most vilainous stuff I ever tasted, I shall never forget our first encampment. It was on a slough dignified by the name of Salt Creek. We were late arriving at camp, and by the time we had picketed our mules, it was dark. We dispatched a boy for water, who, after half an hour's search, returned with some which was poured into the coffee pot and manufactured into what the cook told us was coffee. After tasting it, however, we had very serious doubts on the subject, as it had more the taste of filthy water and decayed vegeta-tion than it had of the institution called coffee. The milk in the cocoanut was explained next morning, for on going for water myself next morning, found a mud hole, with a thick green scum over it, and it was from this that our coffee had been made the evening previous We concluded to do without drink that morning, but before we were many days older we were glad to use the same kind of stuff.
Until we reached Fort Karney, about 300 miles distant from the Missouri river, the country had much the same general appearance, being a kind of rolling prairie, with here and there a creek of the kind aforesaid. Near Fort Karney the road passes through a range of sand hills and enters the Platte River Valley. We followed this valley about 400 miles, and leeving it to the left passed over a rolling country to a stream called Sweet Water, along which we journeyed 100 miles to the South Pass, which is the summit of the Rocky Mountains. Near the Pass is 'Fremont's Peak,' where the bee lit on the gentle-man's thumb who gave name to the Peak, previous to the two B's. lighting on him in November, 1856. Leaving the South Pass we crossed in succession Dry Sandy, Little Sandy, Big Sandy, and Green River, and are now encam-ped on Black's Fork, a branch of the last mentioned riv-er, 115 miles from Great Salt Lake City.
Game along our route of travel, was very abundant but as we were traveling rapidly to overtake the troops, that had started about ten days before us. I had not much time to hunt, except when we stopped to let our mules graze at noon, and then I was obliged to confine myself to narrow limits for fear of intruding unceremo-niously on a band of Cheyenne Indians, which I should have very much disliked, as they would certainly have taken the liberty of shooting some of their 'sharp sticks' at me.
The road we travelled passes through th land of sev-eral tribes of Indians, among which are the Pawnees, Cheyennes, Sioux, Rapahoes, Crows, Snakes and Utahs. The only really hostile tribe among them, however, is the Cheyenne tribe. The others will all steal, although they profess the greatest friendship for the whites, and require about as much watching as the Cheyennes. We were fortunate enough not to meet any of the last nam-ed tribe, although they were committing depredations on emigrants both before and behind us.
We overtook Col. Cook's division of the army at Fort Laramie and travelled with them nearly all the way from that place to our present encampment. Directly after striking the Sweet Water river, we encountered a very heavy snow storm and our mules began to fail very fast from want of food and severe cold. Before reaching this point we lost ten out of the thirteen with which we started. A mule never looked as valuable in my eyes as they did when dying one by one along the Rocky mountains. Through the kindness of Col. Cook we were enabled to get our wagons this far, otherwise we would all have been left afoot. As it was I was compelled to walk the last 250 miles, which I accomplished easily, I thanks to a good pair of legs.
Col. Johnston, the commander of the expedition, in-tends making this place his winter quarters. Whether he fears Brigham and his men are an over match for him or, what is more probable, is fearful of the snow on the large mountains we have got to pass. I do not know. It is the general impression however, that, we will not leave here until reinforcements arrive from the States in the spring, Acting on this impression our party have all built themselves houses or rather log huts, and, taking
all things into consideration, we are getting along very comfortably.
The Mormons are in a state of open hostility to the U.S. Government, but have confined themselves thus far to the destruction of property, having burned several trains of army supplies on Green River and Big Sandy. These trains had not yet reached the advanced body of the army, and the Mormons, by taking a circuitous route intercepted and burnt them. Some few of them were afterwards taken prisoners and upon their persons pa-pers were found implicating most of the Mormon lead-ers. Brigham Young it is thought intends to prevent the troops from entering the city until spring, by which time he and his coadjutors will leave the country for parts unknown. Gov. Cumming addressed a proclama-tion to the people of Utah who have partaken in the re-bellion, to return to their allegiance. What effect it will have in the city do not know.
The U.S. District Court in and for the Territory of Utah, is at present holding its sessions at this place, Several cases of larceny, manslaughter, assault and bat-tery, &c., have been tried. His Honor Chief Justice Ec-kles is the only Judge here, and of course the whole du-ties of the court fall upon him. So far they have been discharged with signal ability.
We have had no mail from the States since we arrived here, although there is one due nearly twenty days. You may suppose we are all pretty anxious to hear from home I should like very much to sit down with the Standard just at present and read over its local and P. P. & S. col-umns. Hoping it will soon come, l am,
Click tabs to swap between content that is broken into logical sections.