Our victory in Pennsylvania was accompanied by the fall of Vicksburg and the surrender of Pemberton’s army. A few days later, the capture of Port Hudson was announced. The struggle for the possession of the Mississippi was substantially ended when the Rebel fortifications along its banks fell into our hands.
IN THE NORTHWEST.
From Chicago to Minnesota.—Curiosities of Low-Water Navigation.—St. Paul and its Sufferings in Earlier Days.—The Indian War.—A Brief History of our Troubles in that Region.—General Pope’s Expeditions to Chastise the Red Man.—Honesty in the Indian Department.—The End of the Warfare.—The Pacific Railway.—A Bold Undertaking.—Penetrating British Territory.—The Hudson Bay Company.—Peculiarities of a Trapper’s Life.
Early in September, 1863, I found myself in Chicago, breathing the cool, fresh air from Lake Michigan. From Chicago to Milwaukee I skirted the shores of the lake, and from the latter city pushed across Wisconsin to the Mississippi River. Here it was really the blue Mississippi: its appearance was a pleasing contrast to the general features of the river a thousand miles below. The banks, rough and picturesque, rose abruptly from the water’s edge, forming cliffs that overtopped the table-land beyond. These cliffs appeared in endless succession, as the boat on which I traveled steamed up the river toward St. Paul. Where the stream widened into Lake Pepin, they seemed more prominent and more precipitous than elsewhere, as the larger expanse of water was spread at their base. The promontory known as “Maiden’s Rock” is the most conspicuous of all. The Indians relate that some daughter of the forest, disappointed in love, once leaped from its summit to the rough rocks, two hundred feet below. Her lover, learning her fate, visited the spot, gazed from the fearful height, and, after a prayer to the Great Spirit who watches over the Red Man—returned to his friends and broke the heart of another Indian maid.
Passing Lake Pepin and approaching St. Paul, the river became very shallow. There had been little rain during the summer, and the previous spring witnessed no freshet in that region. The effect was apparent in the condition of the Mississippi. In the upper waters boats moved with difficulty. The class that is said to steam wherever there is a heavy dew, was brought into active use. From St. Paul to a point forty miles below, only the lightest of the “stern-wheel” boats could make any headway. The inhabitants declared they had never before known such a low stage of water, and earnestly hoped it would not occur again. It was paralyzing much of the business of the State. Many flouring and lumber mills were lying idle. Transportation was difficult, and the rates very high. A railway was being constructed to connect with the roads from Chicago, but it was not sufficiently advanced to be of any service.