The Oregon Trail: sketches of prairie and Rocky-Mountain life eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 384 pages of information about The Oregon Trail.

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.

CHAPTER XXVI

DOWN THE ARKANSAS

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

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The Oregon Trail: sketches of prairie and Rocky-Mountain life from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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