Today in History:

81 Series I Volume XLI-II Serial 84 - Price's Missouri Expedition Part II


same day i started with the steam-boats up the Missouri, in order to be able to select the best point for the post ordered to be located on the Upper Missouri. I found the river in a fair stage of water and navigation good, with the exception of three or four places where the boats had to unload and double trip. About fifteen miles below the mouth of the Beaver I found the very best point on the river to establish a post, on account of grass, soil, and the best point on the river on account of timber, the heaviest body above Sioux City. But this point would be too far south to establish the post and carry out instructions. The only point I found after that was the point I selected. The banks are high here, with sandstone bluffs, good for building. The river is narrower here than at any point I have seen, so it will always be a good crossing. There is a very long belt of timber just below this point and several very heavy bodies just above. Back of the hills about four miles large quantities of cedar. The only drawback is grass and soil, which are poor. However, about three miles up the river is a large bottom of very good grass, and also opposite another large prairie of fine grass. I have communicated with my command be means of scouts while on my trip up the river, and to-morrow they will meet me at this point. After discharging the cargoes of the boats I shall use them to cross the command. I shall then send some of the boats down to Farm Island to bring up the freight left there by them, and by boats, I understood, which were ordered to this point, but which left their freights there. Why, I don't know, for I have no information of the names of the boats, the cargoes they left, and where they were to go, that is, of some of the boats. In all, there is near 1,000 tons left at Farm Island. This reduces me in commissary stores, but, as I understand it is not expected to establish Devil's Lake this year, I can get along without them. I don't believe it would be possible to establish that post until after my campaign, and then it would be too late. Day before yesterday some Indians on the bluff made signs to me. They wanted to speak with me. They came aboard, proved to be Yanktonais that were in the fight last year. Seven lodges. They gave themselves up, stating they had been over a month trying to get away from the camp of the enemy. They got away on the plea of hunting buffalo. They also stated there were a great many more lodges, some forty, that were out and determined to come in, and that a very large band, some 1,600 lodges, were eager for a fight; that I would find them near the head of Heart River or on the Little Missouri - Gros Ventres. I shall start boats up the Missouri with supplies for the Yellowstone if they can get up there. It is greatly to be regretted I had not entirely my own way in the hiring of transportation. I wished to engage Mr. Chouteau to take up all the Yellowstone freights last April at 4 cents per pound, but the chief of transportation at Saint Louis thought it would not be best. I now would have had all my stores there, and in ten days from now would have discharged every boat, thereby saving the Government some expense. I shall leave here in a few days. As soon as I can cross my command and get in shape I shall strike west between the Cannon Ball and Heart Rivers, to the enemy's camp and then to the Yellowstone.

With much respect, your obedient servant,