AFTER MY RETURN from the Upper Missouri, I went in the fall of 1810 to Pennsylvania, where I remained two years and married. I returned to St. Louis, in the fall of 1813, procured a keel-boat and with it, navigated the Ohio and Mississippi, between Pittsburgh and St. Louis, carrying goods for large profits. I continued in this business till the fall of 1815, when I took a stock of goods from McKnight & Brady of St. Louis, and opened a store in Harrisonville, Illinois, dividing profits equally among us. In the fall of 1818, I went to Baltimore with letters of recommendation and bought goods for cash and on credit to the amount of seventeen thousand dollars, and brought them in waggons to Pittsburgh where I left them to await a rise of the river, which was too low for navigation, and came to St. Louis. My goods were not sent on till the following spring, when they had greatly fallen in price and the market was filled with a large supply. I was unable to dispose of my stock even at cost. I struggled on through the years 1819-'20, with the certain prospect of bankruptcy before my face, amid the clamors of creditors, and without the hope of extricating myself from impending ruin. About this time Baum, Beard, and Chambers, with some others, came to St. Louis from Santa Fe, where they had been imprisoned by the Government ever since the year 1810. They, with Robert, brother of John McKnight of the firm of McKnight and Brady, and eight others, were the first American Santa Fe traders that carried goods from St. Louis to New Mexico. Immediately on reaching Santa Fe their goods were confiscated by the Governor, sold at public auction, and themselves taken to Chihuahua and there thrown into prison, where they were kept in more or less strict confinement for the space of ten years, being supported during that time by the proceeds of McKnight's goods, the Government allowing 18 3/4 cents per day to each man. This, I believe was the second company of Americans that ever entered Santa Fe. Clem. Morgan, a Portuguese and very wealthy, made his way thither at a very early day, while Louisiana belonged to Spain, and returned in safety, making a good venture. Gen. Zebulon Pike was the first American visitor to that country. He went in the year 1807, and on his arrival was marched through Mexico as a prisoner of war, but was soon after released on demand of our Government. One of his men was detained thirteen years by the Spaniards, and returned with Chambers to St. Louis. Pike in the beginning of our last war with England, met a soldier's death at Queenston Heights. The second company from the United States was McKnight's and their treatment has been noticed. The third was under the command of Augustus Chouteau and Demun of St. Louis, and was composed entirely of French. They made a very unsuccessful venture, being deprived of their goods worth $40,000., without the least remuneration, and themselves imprisoned for a short time. I commanded the fourth expedition to Santa Fe from the United States, and the first that was made after the Mexican Revolution and the declaration of their independence on Spain, and I was the first American that ever visited the country and escaped a prison while there. John McKnight desired to go to Mexico to see his brother, procure his release if he were still in prison, and return with him to the States. The first information he had received, concerning Robert, in ten years, came by his companions above named, who had left him in the interior of Mexico. He proposed that I should take my goods and accompany him, and supposed that under Spanish protection we could go unmolested by the Government. The news of the Revolution had not yet reached this country. This appeared to be the best course to retrieve my affairs, and I prepared for the journey by procuring a passport from Don Onis the Spanish Minister, countersigned by John Q. Adams, then Secretary of State under Monroe. I loaded a keel-boat with goods to the value of $10,000, and laid in a large quantity of biscuit, whiskey, flour, lead and powder, for trading with the Indians on the route. I started from St. Louis on the tenth of May, A. D. 1821, and descended the Mississippi to the mouth of the Arkansas. The company consisted, besides myself, of McKnight, my brother John G. James, David Kirkee, Wm. Shearer, Alexander Howard, Benjamin Potter, John Ivy, and Francois Maesaw, a Spaniard. Two joined us after starting, Frederick Hector at the mouth of the Ohio, and James Wilson in the Cherokee country, making eleven in all, young and daring men, eager for excitement and adventure. Ascending the Arkansas, the first settlement we reached was "Eau Post," inhabited principally by French. A few days afterwards we arrived in the country of the Quawpaws, where we met with a Frenchman named Veaugean, an old man of considerable wealth, who treated us with hospitality. His son had just returned from hunting with a party of Quawpaws and had been attacked by the Pawnees, who killed several of his Indian companions. Pawnee was then the name of all the tribes that are now known as Camanches. I had never known or heard of any Indians of that name before I visited their country on my way to Santa Fe. The Americans previously knew them only as Pawnees. The account brought by Veaugean's son surprised me, as we had heard that all the Indians on our route were friendly. Leaving Veaugean's, we proceeded up the river through a very fertile country. Dense and heavy woods of valuable timber lined both sides of the river, both below "Eau Post" and above as far as we went, and the river bottoms, which are large, were covered by extensive cane-brakes, which appeared impenetrable even by the rattlesnake. Small fields of corn, squash and pumpkins, cultivated by Indians, appeared in view on the low banks of the river. Since entering the Arkansas we had found the country quite level; after sailing and pushing about three hundred miles from the mouth, we now reached the first high land, near Little Rock the capital of the Territory as established that spring. The archives had not yet been removed from Eau Post, the former capital. As we approached Little Rock we beheld a scene of true Western life and character, that no other country could present. First we saw a large wood and stone building in flames, and then about one hundred men, painted, masked and disguised in almost every conceivable manner, engaged in removing the Town. These men, with ropes and chains would march off a frame house on wheels and logs, place it about three or four hundred yards from its former site and then return and move off another in the same manner. They all seemed tolerably drunk, and among them I recognized almost every European language spoken. They were a jolly set indeed. Thus they worked amid songs and shouts, until by night-fall they had completely changed the site of their Town. Such buildings as they could not move they burned down, without a dissentant voice. The occasion of this strange proceeding was as follows: The Territorial Court was then in session at Diamond Hill, about thirty miles distant on the river above, and the news had reached Little Rock on the morning of our arrival, that a suit pending in this Court and involving the title to the town, wherein one Russell of St. Louis was the claimant, had gone against the citizens of Little Rock and in favor of Russell. The whole community instantly turned out en masse and in one day and night Mr. Russell's land was disencumbered of the Town of Little Rock. They coolly and quietly, though not without much unnecessary noise, took the Town up and set it down on a neighboring claim of the Quawpaw tribe, and fire removed what was irremovable in a more convenient way. The free and enlightened citizens of Little Rock made a change of Landlords more rapidly than Bonaparte took Moscow. Here I saw Matthew Lyon, then quite an old man, canvassing for Congress. He was a man of some note in John Adam's administration, by whom he was imprisoned, under the Alien and Sedition law. He came into Little Rock, with the Judge and Lawyers, from Diamond Hill, the day after the grand moving of the Town. He rode a mule, which had thrown him into a bayou, and his appearance as he came in, covered with mud from head to foot, was a subject of much laughter for his companions and the town of Little Rock, which had now began to assume a look of some age, being just twenty-four hours old. Lyon was not returned to Congress and he died a few years afterwards. In 1824 I saw his grave at Spadre, in the Cherokee country, where he had kept a trading establishment. Before I left Little Rock I procured a license to trade with all the Indian tribes on the Arkansas and its tributaries, from Secretary Charles Crittenden, Governor Miller being out of the Territory. I gave bond in the sum of $3000, with Judge Scott as security, to observe the laws of the United States, and it always appeared to me that I was entitled to indemnity from my country for the robberies which I suffered from the Indians. My losses in this way were tremendous and have weighed me down to the earth from that day to this, the best portion of my life; but not one cent have I ever been able to obtain from the justice of Congress, whose laws I was bound to obey, whose license from the hands of a Government officer I carried with me, and who by every rule of justice was bound to protect me in a business which it authorized by license and regulated by heavy penalties.
Continuing our course up the river, we passed through a more rocky and uneven country than that below Little Rock. The Maumel mountain, some fifty or sixty miles above this Town, and a mile from the south bank of the river, is a great curiosity. It rises six hundred feet above the level of the river, and in shape resembles a coal-pint. A large spring of fresh water gushes from the top and runs down its side to the river. We now passed through the country of the Cherokees, whose farms and log houses made a fine appearance on the banks of the river, aud would compare favorably with those of any western State. They were at this time highly civilized and have since made great advances in the arts. These were that part of the nation called the Rogers party, who just emigrated from the east to the west side of the Mississippi, and ultimately, about the year 1833, with the powerful agency of the General Government, caused the removal of the whole nation to this country, where they are making rapid progress in national prosperity. Their Delegate will take his seat in our next Congress as Representative of the first Indian Territory ever organized. If this nation shall form a nucleus for the preservation of the race from annihilation, the cheerless predictions of the Physiologists will be most fortunately falsified, and the Philanthropist will rejoice in the perpetuation of the true Indian race and character.
Fort Smith lies about six hundred miles from the mouth of the Arkansas on the western confines of the Cherokee country, and near that of the Osages, which tribes were now at war with each other. We stopped a few days at this post, where we were well received by Lieutenant Scott and the commandant Major Bradford, who examined and approved our license. The Major was a small stern looking man, an excellent disciplinarian and a gallant officer. He invited McKnight and me to make his house our home until we had rested our company and put our guns in good order preparatory to entering the Indian country. He and his wife treated us with the utmost kindness and hospitality, and on leaving, presented us a large supply of garden vegetables, with a barrel of onions, which we were not to broach until we had killed our first buffalo, when we were enjoined to have "a general feast in honor of old Billy Bradford." His kindness made a deep impression on us. We here tried to mark out our course for the future, which we determined should be the Arkansas to within sixty miles Loas in New Mexico, Baum having told me that this river was navigable thus far, and the Canadian being two shallow for our boat. Parting from the hospitable old Major, we ascended the river to the Salt Fork, which enters from the south, passing in our way the Grand River, then called the Six Bulls, and the Verdigris, at whose mouth Fort Gibson has since been built. The waters of the Salt Fork are very much saturated with salt, tasting like strong brine where they enter the Arkansas. After this we proceeded with great difficulty, and about thirty miles above the South Fork our further progress was entirely stopped by the lowness of the water. There being no prospect of a speedy rise in the river at this time, which was the mouth of August, we returned four miles to an Osage road, which we had observed in going up, and here I sent three men to the Osage village, which I knew could not be far distant, for the purpose of opening a trade with this tribe. In five or six days these men returned to me with forty Osages and a Capt. Prior, formerly of the United States army. I mentioned him in the first chapter as the commander of the escort of the Mandan Chief Shehaka. He was a Sergeant in Lewis and Clark's expedition, and a Captain at the battle of New Orleans. On the reduction of the army after the war, he was discharged to make way for some parlor soldier and sunshine patriot, and turned out in his old age upon the "world's wide common." I found him here among the Osages, with whom he had taken refuge from his country's ingratitude, and was living as one of their tribe, where he may yet be unless death has discharged the debt his country owed him.
I took out some goods, and with McKnight, my brother, and the Spaniard Macsaw, accompanied Capt. Prior and the Indians to their village, to the south east, which we reached in two days. Here we found our old friend, Maj. Bradford Hugh Glenn, from Cincinnati, with goods and about twenty men, on his way to the Spanish country, and also, Capt. Barbour, and Indian trader from the mouth of the Verdigris, and formerly of Pittsburgh. I proposed to Glenn, whom I shall have to mention unfavorably hereafter, to travel in company to the Spanish country; but he appearing averse to the arrangement, I did not urge it upon him. I bought twenty-three horses of the Osages at high prices, for packing my goods, and agreed with Barbour to "cache" (hide in the earth) my heaviest and least portable goods near the Arkansas, for him to take in the following spring down to his store at the mouth of the Verdigris, sell them and account to me for the proceeds on my return. I returned with my companions to the river and carefully concealed my flour, whiskey, lead, hardware and other heavy goods. I showed Capt. Prior, who came up the next day with a party of Osages going out on their fall hunt, the place where I had hid these goods, and packing the rest on my horses, we left the Arkansas to our right, or the north, and travelled with Prior and the Indians for two days toward the south-west. We then left them and bore directly to the west in the direction as pointed out to us by the Indians, of the Salt Plains and Shining Mountains. In eleven days we struck the Salt Fork, mentioned before, and which is set down on the latest maps as the Cinnamon river. In the distance before us we discerned the bright mountains before mentioned, which the Indians had directed us to pass in our route. We held on our course for two days along the right bank of the Salt Fork, over mounds and between hills of sand which the wind had blown up in some place to the height of one hundred feet. Our progress was very slow, the horses sometimes sinking to their breasts in the sand. The bed of the river in many places was quite dry, the water being lost in the sand, and as we advanced, it appeared covered over with salt, like snow. The water, mantled over with salt, stood in frequent pools, from the bottom of which we could scoop up that mineral in bushels. The channel of the Salt river became narrower and more shallow as we proceeded. The sand so obstructed our progress that we crossed the river where traveling was less difficult, and soon struck a branch of the Salt Fork, equally impregnated with salt as the main stream. Large crusts of salt lay at the water's edge. Proceeding on we came to the Shining Mountains, and a high hill evidently based upon salt. It stands near the salt branch, the banks of which were composed of salt rocks, from which the men broke off large pieces with their tomahawks. Here, and in the Salt river was enough of this valuable mineral to supply the world for an indefinite period. The Shining Mountains lay south of us about four miles and had been visible for several days. We visited them and found one of the greatest curiosities in our country. I have never seen them nor the salt plains in which they stand put down on any map or described by any white man. All of our travellers in this region appear to have passed to the north or south of them, as I have never seen or heard of a description of them, except by the Indians, who come here regularly and in great force, for salt. The mountains stand separate from each other, are about three hundred feet in height, and are quite flat on the summit. They are composed, in part, of a shining semi-transparent rock, which reflects the rays of the sun to a great distance. It is soft, being easily cut with a knife, and the hand is visible through thin pieces of it when held in the sun light. They extend about thirty miles on the left of Salt river in a north-west and south-east direction, are all of an equal height, containing an area on the top of from ten rods to a hundred acres, and are entirely destitute of timber. The tops of most of them were inaccessible. With great difficulty we ascended one of about ten acres in extent, from which we saw along the tops of the others, they all being on the same plane. We found the short thin grass of the prairie below, but no shrub except the prickly pear. The ground was covered with immense quantities of buffalo manure, when left there it would be vain to conjecture. The substance from the ground was clay for upwards of two hundred feet, then came the rock from ten to twenty feet thick, projecting over the earth, and the soil above was about ten feet in depth. The rock is fast crumbling away by the action of water, which seems to dissolve it, as we found very few fragments at the foot of the mountains and none of any considerable size. The whole country was evidently at one time, on a level with these singular elevations.
We continued our course up the bank of the same branch of Salt river by which we had come. Its water was now, after leaving the salt plains, fresh and wholesome, and we travelled along its bank two days, when finding it took us too much to the north, we left it and bore to the southwest. This was the sixth day after reaching the Salt Fork, and seventeen after parting with Capt. Prior and the Osages. We killed seven buffalo after leaving the Shining Mountains, and dried the meat. The carcasses of the buffaloes attracting the buzzards with some old shoes and other small articles left on the ground by the men, served to discover us to a war party of Camanches who were now on our trail. After leaving the Salt Branch we travelled till near night without finding wood or water, and then bore again to the north-west till we struck the Branch. We cooked our meat with fuel of buffalo manure which we gathered for the purpose. Towards morning we were all alarmed by the barking of our dogs, followed by a clapping noise and the sound of footsteps. We slept no more on that night, and in the morning saw upwards of a hundred Indians at a short distance coming with the design of intercepting our horses, which were some distance from the camp. One horse was pierced by a lance. I exhibited the flag, which diverted their course, and they came among us in a very hostile manner, seizing whatever they could lay their hands on. The interpreter told us they were a war party and advised me to make peace with them by giving them presents. I did so, distributing about three thousand dollars worth of goods among them. There were two Chiefs in this party, one of whom was friendly and the other, called the one-eyed Chief, seemed determined to take our lives. His party, however, was in a minority and soon after went off. The friendly Chief then came up to me and on account of his interference in our behalf demanded more presents, which I made to him. He told me that if I came to the village I should be well treated and implored me not to go up the Arkansas. I afterwards learned that the one-eyed Chief had left me with the purpose of waylaying us on that river and taking our lives, which was the reason of the friendly Chief's advice. Those who were hostile, and they were the whole of the one-eyed Chief's party, seemed perfectly enfuriated against us. They scrutinized our equipments, said we had Osage horses and were spies of that nation, with whom they were then at war. At last we were rid of the presence of these unpleasant visitors with many dismal apprehensions for the future. The friendly Chief left a Mexican Indian, an interpreter, with us as a guide. With him we struck from the south branch of Salt river, for the north Fork of the Canadian, which the Indians told us we should reach in one day's travel. Going in a direction west of south we struck the river on the second day, having suffered dreadfully for want of water. McKnight and I went forward to find water and killed a buffalo. We drank large draughts of the blood of this animal, which I recollect tasted like milk. We found several ponds of water, so tainted with buffalo manure as to cause us to vomit on drinking of it. We missed the party on that night and found them on the next day, all sick from the water they had drunk, and exhausted by previous fatigue and thirst. The horses were nearly worn out by the same causes. We travelled along the North Fork of the Canadian for seven or eight days, until we reached its head in a large morass, or swamp, about two miles wide, and five or six long, situate in a valley which gradually narrows and disappears at last in the vast plain to the west. We went up this valley which was now dry, but in the spring is filled with a rapid stream. We saw thousands of buffalo along its course, and found a large pond about an acre in extent, but the water was so spoiled by manure, as to sicken us all. After passing through this valley we bore for the Canadian river towards the south, and on the second day, after intense suffering from thirst, we struck a fine spring of fresh water. This was a rich source of real refreshment and enjoyment. Following the stream made by this spring we reached the Canadian, and travelled up its course for several days. We had encamped for the night on the twenty-first day after meeting the Camanches who had robbed us on the branch of Salt river, when we saw a great number of mounted Indians coming over a rising ground in our front, and at their head the friendly Chief, who advanced with outstretched hands crying towauc, towaue, - "good, good." Coming up he embraced me in Indian custom, and requested me to go with him to his village. Here an Indian seized a brass kettle and rode off with it. This act alarmed me, and I asked the Chief if he could protect my property if I went with him. He said he could not, and I declined his invitation for that night, and requested him to leave a body of trusty Indians, to defend me till morning. He did so, and we were not molested that night. In the morning we marched with our guard from the left bank of the river, where we had encamped, to the right bank, and in two miles above we found the whole village of the Indians, numbering a thousand lodges, situated in the bottom near the base of a large mound. We were met by one of the principal Chiefs, whose looks were to me ominous of evil. He was a little vicious looking old man and eyed me most maliciously. We were taken close to the foot of the mound near this Chief's lodge, and there we encamped, having piled up my goods and covered them with skins. The Indians then demanded presents and about a thousand chiefs and warriors surrounded us. I laid out for them tobacco, powder, lead, vermillion, calico, and other articles, amounting to about $1,000 in value. This did not satisfy them, and they began to break open my bales of cloth and divide my finest woolens designed for the Spanish market, among them. After losing about $1000 more in this way, I induced them to desist from further robbery. The principal chief named Big Star, now appeared and said they had enough. They divided the spoil among two or three thousand, of whom all got some. They tore up the cloth into garments for the middle and blankets. They tied the silk handkerchiefs to their hair as ornaments, which streamed in the wind. This robbery over, I smoked with them and prepared to go on my journey. This they forbade and we were compelled to stay over that day. We kept a strong guard through the night on our goods and horses. On the next morning they pretended that another party had arrived who required presents. This information was brought by a one-eyed Spaniard, who acted as interpreter and had got from me as a present, a whole suit of cloth and a large supply of amunition. He was the instigator of this new demand. The Indians began to gather around us, and break open and drag about the goods. The Chiefs stood off, taking no part. I then made them another set of presents, worth, probably, a thousand dollars more. We now hoped to be allowed to pass on, and requested leave to go, but they refused it; and the friendly chief advised us to stay. I had seen many savages, but none so suspicious and little as these. They seemed to regard us as spies in their country. We staid with them the second day and night without any further robbery than that I have mentioned. On the third day of my stay, the one-eyed Chief came into the village from the Arkansas, where he had been, with a hundred men, awaiting us with murderous designs. On his coming in, the interpreter, Maesaw, ran to me, saying we should certainly be killed, and the woman and children ran from their lodges like chickens before a hawk. I had made the Big Star Chief my friend by presenting him with a splendid sword. He now came up and took me into the little old Chiefs lodge, saying I would be shot if I remained out. Our time seemed nearly come. In the distance we saw the one-eyed with his troop approaching, all painted black and armed with guns, bows and arrows and lances. We were eleven against a hundred at least, perhaps thousands. The Big Star sent a messenger to my enemy and asked him what would satisfy him in lieu of our lives. He replied that he must have for each of his men as much cloth as his outstretched arms would once measure; an equal quantity of calico; powder, lead, vermillion, knives, beads, looking glasses, &c., and for himself the sword which he had seen on the south branch of Salt river. I sent him word that I had not the vermillion, knives, beads and looking glasses, nor the sword, which I had presented to the Big Star. He said the story about the sword was a lie, that I had given it to Big Star to prevent him from getting it, and that he would have it or my scalp, and as to the other articles he would take cloth instead of them. The Big Star here sent to his lodge for the sword, and taking it in his hand, he pressed its side to his heart and then handed it to me, saying, "take it and send it to the one-eyed Chief. You have no other way of saving your life and the lives of your people." I did as he advised, and measured off about five hundred yards of cloth and calicoe, of which the former cost me seven dollars per yard in Baltimore, and sent them to my deadly enemy. This appeared to pacify him and again I proposed to go on my way. To this they again objected, saying that the whole village would go down the river in the morning, and we should then be permitted to part from them and continue our course up the river as before meeting with them. We had the horses brought up, and prepared, that evening, for an early start in the morning. One half kept guard while the rest of our party endeavored to sleep. But there was no rest for any of us on that most dismal night. This was the third sleepless night which we had passed with these ferocious savages, and we were nearly worn down by fatigue, anxiety and watching. Before day-light a party of boys ascended the mound in our rear, and from the top stoned our company until they were dislodged and driven down by the exertions of the friendly Chief. Uncertain of our fate and nearly exhausted, we awaited in sullen patience, the issue of events. The sun as he rose seemed to wear an aspect of gloom, and every thing portended evil to our little band. Six of my horses had been taken in the night, and I ordered my men out to find and bring them back. The friendly Chief now came to me with great concern and dejection in his countenance, and begged of me not to leave my station or allow the men to go out.
"Keep together," said he, "or you will be killed. The men that go out will be murdered. Don't try to get back your horses." I saw that the whole army were preparing to decamp, and pulling down their lodges. Sometime after sunrise, I perceived about fifty of the Chiefs and older Indians going up unto the mound above us, in our rear, followed by a multitude of young warriors and boys. An old man turned and drove them back: the two friendly Chiefs did not go up. Arrived at the top, this company formed the circle, sat down and smoked. Then one of their number commenced what seemed to us, from his gestures, to be a violent harangue, designed to inflame their passions. I told my company that this council would decide our fate. They asked me how I knew this. If they come down, said I, friendly, we shall have nothing to fear; but if sulky, and out of humor, we have nothing to hope. Put your guns in good order, and be prepared for the worst. We must sell our lives as dearly as possible. In this sentiment they all agreed with me, and we prepared to meet our fate, whatever it should be, like men. During this time, the lodges, with the women and children, were fast disappearing, and the men assembling before us on horseback and afoot, armed with guns, bows, and lances. The council on the hill, after an hour's consultation, descended, and we soon learned that our deaths were determined upon. Those Indians who before were sociable, were now distant and sulky. When spoken to by any of us they made no answer.
The friendly Chief and Big Star, who had taken no part in the council, now came and shook hands, and bade us farewell. I besought them to stay with us; shaking their heads sorrowfully, they went away. The press in front now greatly increased. Nearly two thousand warriors stood before and around us, with the evident intention of making an attack, and appeared to be waiting the signal for the onslaught. We stood in a circle with our backs to the goods and saddles heaped up above all our heads; and with our rifles raised to our breasts, and our fingers on the triggers. We were also armed with knives and tomahawks. Old Jemmy Wilson seized an axe, having no gun, and swore he would hew his way as far as he could. Thus we stood eleven against two thousand, with death staring us in the face. All seemed unwilling to commence the bloody work. The suspense was awful. I stood between John McKnight and my brother, and noticed their countenances. McKnight's face was white, and his chin and lips were quivering. My brother, as brave a man as ever lived, looked desperate and determined. Not a man but seemed bent to die in arms and fighting, and none were overcome by fear.
Thus we stood near half an hour in deathly silence; at length the White Bear warrior, a Chief dressed in a whole Bear skin, with the claws hanging over his hands, rode swiftly towards us, through the crowd, with his lance in his hand, as if to annihilate us at once; but seeing the dangerous position he was in, he stopped short about five paces from us, and glared upon me with the most deadly malignity. Finding he could not reach me with his lance, he took out his pistol, examined the priming, tossed out the powder from the pan, re-primed, and again fixed his devilish eyes full upon me. But he saw that I could fire first, and he kept his pistol down. Here McKnight first broke the dreadful silence, saying, "let us commence James, you will be the first one killed-- this suspense is worse than death; the black Chief is my mark." I said no, McKnight, let us forbear as long as they do; for us to begin is folly in the extreme; but as soon as a gun is fired, we must fire, rush in and sell our lives as dearly as possible. Here Kirker walked out with his gun over his head, gave it up, and passed into the crowd unmolested. In a minute afterwards we heard a cry from a distance, approaching nearer and nearer, of Tabbaho, Tabbaho.° (° White men.)This I supposed was on account of Kirker's surrender. The cry increased and spread throughout the crowd. Looking towards the south-west, whence the cry arose, while the While Bear's attention was withdrawn, I saw six horsemen riding at full speed, and as they came nearer, we heard the words in Spanish, save them! save them! In a moment a Spanish officer rushed into our arms, exclaiming, thank God we are in time; you are all safe and unhurt. He said that he had heard of our danger by accident, that morning, and ridden twenty miles to save us. All the circumstances of our rescue we learned the next day. With joyous and thankful hearts for our escape from a death that, five minutes before seemed inevitable, we prepared to depart with our preservers. I had bidden farewell, as I thought forever, to my wife, child, home and all its endearments, and the thoughts of them were now overpowering to me. The Spaniards asked the Indians why they were going to kill us. They answered, that the Spanish governor at Santa Fe had commanded them not to let any American pass, but that we were determined to go in spite of them, so that to stop us and keep their promise to the Spanish Governor, they thought they were compelled to take our lives. The Spaniards told them that this was under the government of Spain, but that they were now independent and free, and brothers to the Americans. This was the first news I had heard of the Mexican revolution.
The two friendly Chiefs now returned, and I showed the Spaniards our passport. The Indians brought in and delivered up four of my horses. The whole village, soon after the arrival of the Spaniards, went down the river; and our party, except Maesaw and myself, with two of the Spanish officers, started forward towards the Spanish camp, about twenty miles distant. We four remained behind to recover the two missing horses, and then followed our companions. We were lost, at dark, among the cliffs bordering the river, where we made fire for cooking our suppers, and encamped for the night. Early the next morning we reached the Spanish encampment, where our party was awaiting us. As we approached the camp there came out to meet us, a tall Indian of about seventy years of age, dressed in the complete regimentals of an American Colonel, with blue coat, red sash, white pantaloons, epaulets and sword. He advanced with an erect, military air and saluted us with great dignity and address. His eyes were still bright and piercing, undimmed in the least by age, and he had a high, noble forehead and Roman nose. His whole port and air struck me forcibly as those of a real commander and a hero. After saluting us he handed me a paper which I read as follows, as nearly as I now remember.
This is to certify that Cordaro, a Chief of the Camanches has visited the Fort at Nacotoche with fifteen of his tribe, that he remained here two weeks, and during the whole time behaved very well. It is my request that all Americans who meet him or any of his tribe, should treat him and them with great respect and kindness, as they are true friends of the United States.
U. S. Indian Agent at Nacotoche on Red River
This Chief, Cordaro, was the cause of our being then in existence. He told us he had promised his "great friend at Nacotoche" that he would protect all Americans that came through his country, and he very earnestly requested us to inform his "great friend" that he had been as good as his word. On entering the encampment, we found about fifty Spaniards and three hundred Camanche warriors, who had just returned from an expedition against the Navahoes, a tribe inhabiting the country west of Santa Fe and the mountains, and who were then at war with the Spaniards. On their return from this campaign this party had come from Santa Fe with their Camanche allies into their country to hunt for buffalo and had encamped the night before our rescue from the Camanches, on the spot where we now found them. On the next morning a party of Indians belong to this band were hunting their horses in the prairie and met another party from the army below, who had us in custody, engaged in the same manner, who informed them that their countrymen had taken a company of Americans prisoners, and were going to kill them all that morning, and divide their goods among the army; that the whole village was breaking up and preparing to go down the Canadian, and that the pulling down of the last lodge was to be the signal for our massacre. On hearing this the first party hastened back to their camp with the news which brought out most of the young warriors to come down for a share of the plunder of my goods. The Chief Cordaro went instantly, on hearing this account, to the Spanish officers, told them that a company of Americans were to be murdered that morning by his countrymen, mentioned the signal for the attack, said he was too old to ride fast, or he would go himself to the rescue, and adjured them to mount and ride without sparing the horses, as not a moment was to be lost. Six of them mounted and rode as Cordaro had told them to do, and we saw their foaming steeds and heard the cry of Tabbaho--(white men)-- just in time to save us from extermination. A minute after would probably have been too late. Our determined attitude averted the blow and prolonged our time to the last moment, when our deliverers appeared; but without them, the next instant would have seen a volley of shot and arrows lay most of us low and the lance and tomahawk would have soon completed the work on us all.
Cordaro, the noble and true hearted savage, appeared to rejoice at our escape as much as we. He desired particularly that his "great friend" at Nacotoche should hear of his agency in saving us, and I had to promise him repeatedly that I would surely inform Col. Jameson when I saw him, of the manner in which his friend, Cordaro, had performed his promise to him. If John Jameson be still alive and this page meet his eye, I shall have cause to felicitate myself in having at last kept my word to my Camanche preserver.
We spent that day with Cordaro and the Spaniards, and held a council or "talk" with them. Cordaro made a speech dissuading me from going to Santa Fe on account of the treatment which the Americans had always received from the Government there. "They will imprison you," said he to me, "as they have imprisoned all Americans that ever went to Santa Fe. You will meet the fate of all your countrymen before you." The Spanish officers, who were all present at this harangue, smiled and said there was no danger of any mis-treatment to us, now that they had an independent government. Cordaro shook his head increduously, and told them that we were under his protection; that he would himself go to Sante Fe after we had arrived there, and if he found us imprisoned, he would immediately go to war with them. "The Americans are my friends," said he, "and I will not permit them to be hurt. I have promised my great friend of Nacotoche to protect all Americans that come through my country." The Spaniards promised to treat us well, but our protector seemed to be very suspicious of them and evidently gave little faith to their promises. We found at this camp an excellent Spanish interpreter, who spoke the Camanche language as well as his own. By him I was informed that the Indians took me for the Frenchman Vaugean, whom we had seen in the country of the Quawpaws, a tribe of kin to the Osages, and who, while hunting on the Canadian in the spring before with a party of thirty French and Indians of the former tribe, had been attacked by the Camanches, who were defeated and driven back with considerable loss. Vaugean, like myself, was a tall man, and the Indians here and those we had met before, considered me the commander in this battle. The one-eyed interpreter had concealed this fact from me, and we now had some difficulty in satisfying the Indians that we were not the same party who with Vaugean, were in alliance with their enemies, the Osages. The charge was frequently renewed, but we at last succeeded in repelling it and quieting their suspicions. On the next day, the third day after meeting with the Spanish officers, we parted with Cordero who followed his countrymen down the Canadian, with the Spanish force in his company. Two of the Spanish officers remained to accompany us to Santa Fe. They were all very gentlemanly and liberal minded men. One Spanish citizen of Santa Fe had hired to return with me as a guide. We once more took up our march along the Canadian and over the immense plains by the trail of the Spaniards we had just parted with. The whole country here is one immense prairie. I observed many huge granite rocks standing like stone buildings, some of them, one hundred feet high. The earth seemed to have been washed from around them and the prairies below to have been formed by deposits of earth and crumbled rocks from these and similar elevations. Some were covered with earth and cedar trees, but most of them were entirely bare. In three days after leaving Cordaro we came in sight of the Rocky Mountains, whose three principal peaks, covered with perpetual snow were glittering in the sun. The most northern and highest of these peaks is set down on the latest map I have seen as "James' Peak or Pike's." Gen. Pike endeavored to reach its top, but without success. After my return I made a rough map with a pen, of this country, for the use of Senator Kane of Illinois, and in the next map published by Government, I saw my name affixed to this peak, as I supposed, by the agency of Mr. Kane. The peak bore no name known to our company when we saw it and I gave it none then or afterwards. In two days more we came to an old Spanish Fort, dismantled and deserted, which had been built many years before in expectation of an invasion from the United States. This was about one hundred miles from Sante Fe. We soon encountered large herds of sheep, attended by Shepherds, and on the second day after passing the Fort, came to a small town in a narrow ravine on the Peccas river and at the foot of a high cliff. Here I became acquainted with an old Spaniard, named Ortiso, who in his youth had been captured by the Pawnees and sold to Chouteau of St. Louis, where he had learned French and whence he returned home by the way of New Orleans, St. Antoine in Texas and the interior of Mexico. He informed me more particularly than I had yet heard, of the Mexican Revolution, and foretold that Iturbide would be elected President at the ensuing election. We proceeded up the bank of the Peccas by a narrow road, impassable for waggons. One of the horses with all my powder and some of the most valuable goods, here fell down a precipice into a beaver dam in the river. The horse was uninjured but the goods were nearly all spoiled. The next town on our route was Sam Miguel, fifteen miles from the last, an old Spanish town of about a hundred houses, a large church, and two miserably constructed flour mills. Here was the best water-power for mills, and the country in the vicinity abounded in the finest pine timber I had ever seen. But no attempt is made to improve the immense advantages which nature offers. Every thing that the inhabitants were connected with seemed going to decay. We left San Miguel on the following morning with the Alcalde and a company of Spaniards bound for Sante Fe. We stopped at night at the ancient Indian village of Peccas about fifteen miles from San Miguel. I slept in the Fort, which encloses two or three acres in an oblong, the sides of which are bounded by brick houses three stories high, and without any entrances in front. The window frames were five feet long and three-fourths of a foot in width, being made thus narrow to prevent all ingress through them. The lights were made of izing-glass and each story was supplied with similar windows. A balcony surmounted the first and second stories and moveable ladders were used in ascending to them on the front. We entered the Fort by a gate which led into a large square. On the roofs, which like those of all the houses in Mexico are flat, were large heaps of stones for annoying an enemy. I noticed that the timbers which extended out from the walls about six feet and supported the balconies, were all hewn with stone hatchets. The floors were of brick, laid on poles, bark and mortar. The brick was burned in the sun and made much larger than ours, being about two feet by one. The walls were covered with plaster made of lime and izing-glass. I was informed by the Spaniards and Indians that this town and Fort are of unknown antiquity, and stood there in considerable splendor in the time of the Conquerors. The climate being dry and equable and the wood in the buildings the best of pine and cedar, the towns here suffer but little by natural decay. The Indians have lost all tradition of the settlement of the town of Peccas. It stood a remarkable proof of the advance made by them in the arts of civilization before the Spaniards came among them. All the houses are well built and showed marks of comfort and refinement. The inhabitants, who were all Indians, treated us with great kindness and hospitality. In the evening I employed an Indian to take my horses to pasture, and in the morning when he brought them up I asked him what I should pay him. He asked for powder and I was about to give him some, when the Spanish officer forbade me, saying it was against the law to supply the Indians with amunition. Arms are kept out of their hands by their masters who prohibit all trade in those articles with any of the tribes around them. On the next day in the evening, we came in sight of Santa Fe, which presented a fine appearance in the distance. It is beautifully situated on a plain of dry and rolling ground, at the foot of a high mountain, and a small stream which rises in the mountain to the west runs directly through the city. It contained a population at this time of six thousand. The houses were all white-washed outside and in, and presented a very neat and pleasing sight to the eye of the traveller. They are all flat on the roof and most of them one story in height. There are five very splendid churches, all Roman Catholic, which are embellished with pictures, and ornaments of gold and silver in the most costly style. The chalices were of pure gold and candlesticks of silver. The principal buildings, including the Fort, are built around the public square in the middle of the city. The Fort, which occupies the whole side of this square, encloses about ten acres, and is built on the plan of the Peccas Fort above described. There is an outer wall about eight feet in height, enclosing the buildings, which like those at Peccas bound the inner square. The whole was falling to decay and but few soldiers were stationed in it. The farms are without fences or walls, and the cattle, hogs, &c., have to be confined during the raising and harvesting of crops. They raise onions, peas, beans, corn, wheat and red pepper--the last a principal ingredient in Spanish food. Potatoes and turnips were unknown. I saw peach trees, but none of apples, cherries, or pears. The gardens were enclosed.
The country is entirely destitute of rains except in the month of June and July, when the rivers are raised to a great height. A continual drought prevails throughout all the rest of the year, not even relieved by dews. Consequently the ground has to irrigated by means of the many streams which rise in the mountains and flow into the Rio Grande; and for this purpose canals are cut through every farm. Land that can be watered is of immense value, while that which is not near the streams is worthless. While in Sante Fe, a Spaniard took me sixteen miles south, to show me his farm of 15 acres, for which he had just paid $100 per acre, and which lay conveniently to water. Hogs and poultry are scarce, while sheep, goats, and cattle are very abundant.