Mr. Coad returned with the troops to the camp on Lawrence’s Fork, arriving there at two o’clock in the morning. The temperature that night was thirty degrees below zero, and the troops suffered terribly from the extreme cold during their march. After arriving in the timber and getting something to eat, all turned in in their blankets and rested until daylight the next morning. As soon as breakfast was disposed of, the command started on their return march, crossed the divide which they had travelled over the previous night, and at three o’clock in the morning reached Pole Creek, where they rested until daylight. As soon as the day dawned they started south, endeavouring to find the trail of the Indians. The weather was extremely cold, the thermometer ranging about thirty degrees below zero. In the afternoon, while on the divide, the snow being very deep, the command was completely lost, and wandered aimlessly for several hours, not knowing which course to take. Finally, when it was nearly dark, they came within sight of Pole Creek, immediately recognized the locality, and were saved.
At night, after travelling all the next day, they reached a ranch about thirty-five miles west of Julesburg, where they stopped and were made comfortable. It was discovered, after the command had thawed out, that out of thirty-six men thirty were more or less frozen; some had frozen noses, some their ears, some their toes, and two had suffered so badly their feet had to be amputated. On the following day an ambulance arrived from Julesburg, to bring in the men who were in the worst condition. Those who were able mounted their horses and reached the post all right.
During those early years, before the growth of the great states beyond the Missouri, a mighty stream of immigration rushed onward to the unknown, illimitable West. Its pathway was strewn with innumerable graves of men, women, and little children. Silence and oblivion have long since closed over them forever, and no one can tell the sad story of their end, or even where they lay down. Occasionally, however, the traveller comes across a spot where some of these brave pioneers succumbed to death. One of the most noted of these may be seen about two miles from the town of Gering, on the Old Trail, in what is now known as Scott’s Bluffs County, Nebraska. Around the lonely grave was fixed a wagon-tire, and on it rudely scratched the name of the occupant of the isolated sepulchre, “Rebecca Winter,” and the date, 1852. The tire remains as it was originally placed, and, as if to immortalize the sad fate of the woman, many localities in the vicinity derive their names from that on the rusty old wagon tire: “Winter Springs,” “Winter Creek Precinct,” and the “Winter Creek Irrigation Company”!