BEGINNING ADVENTURES IN NEW LANDS
In those days travel was not so easy as it is now. I went by carriage to Washington, and thence by stage to the village of York in Pennsylvania, and again by stage thence to Carlisle Barracks, a good road offering thence into the western countries. In spite of all my grief I was a young man, and I was conscious of a keen exhilaration in these my earliest travels. I was to go toward that great West, which then was on the tongue of all the South, and indeed all the East. I found Pennsylvania old for a hundred years. The men of Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York were passing westward in swarms like feeding pigeons. Illinois and Iowa were filling up, and men from Kentucky were passing north across the Ohio. The great rivers of the West were then leading out their thousands of settlers. Presently I was to see those great trains of white-topped west-bound wagons which at that time made a distinguishing feature of American life.
At this Army post, which then was used as a drilling ground for the cavalry arm, one caught the full flavor of the Western lands, heard the talk of officers who had been beyond the frontier, and saw troops passing out for the Western service. Here I heard also, and to my consternation, quiet conversation among some of the officers, regarding affairs at our National capital. Buchanan, it seems, was shipping arms and ordnance and supplies to all the posts in the South. Disaffection, fomented by some secret, unknown cause, was spreading among the officers of the Army. I was young; this was my first journey; yet none the less these matters left my mind uneasy. I was eager to be back in Virginia, for by every sign and token there certainly was trouble ahead for all who dwelt near the Potomac.
Next I went on to Harrisburg, and thence took rail up the beautiful Susquehanna valley, deep into and over the mountains. At Pittsburg I, poor provincial, learned that all this country too was very old, and that adventures must be sought more than a thousand miles to the westward, yet a continual stir and bustle existed at this river point. A great military party was embarking here for the West—two companies of dragoons, their officers and mounts. I managed to get passage on this boat to Louisville, and thence to the city of St. Louis. Thus, finally, we pushed in at the vast busy levee of this western military capital.
At that time Jefferson Barracks made the central depot of Army operations in the West. Here recruits and supplies were received and readjusted to the needs of the scattered outposts in the Indian lands. Still I was not in the West, for St. Louis also was old, almost as old as our pleasant valley back in Virginia. I heard of lands still more remote, a thousand miles still to the West, heard of great rivers leading to the mountains, and of the vast,