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[492]

On the twenty-seventh, I started late, having had some difficulty in crossing the river, making a march of five miles still in a northerly direction, and encamped on another branch of the same river. Company K of the Second Nebraska joined me this day, having been separated from the other company. The next day we had to make some deviations to the west on account of hills and sloughs, and made the outlet of Long Lake, a march of about twenty miles. way we saw numerous signs of Indians in large numbers having been recently there, and found an old lame Indian concealed in the bushes, who was well known by many of the men of the commmand as having for some years resided near Sioux City. He had the reputation of being what is called a “good Indian.” He stated that “his horse had been taken away from him and that he had been left there.” He looked almost starved to death. He gave me the following details, which have since mostly turned out to be correct; he stated

General Sibley had fought the Indians at the head of Long Lake, fifty miles north-east from me, some weeks ago; that he followed them down to the mouth of Apple Creek; that the Indians attacked him on the way, and that there was some skirmishing.

At Apple Creek, Sibley had another fight, and that in all the fights about fifty-eight Indians were killed; that General Sibley fortified his camp at Apple Creek, and after a while returned to James River; that a few days after General Sibley left, the Indians, who had their scouts out watching, recrossed the Missouri, and while doing so, discovered a Mackinaw boat on its way down. They attacked the boat, fought the entire day until sundown, sunk her, and killed all on board-twenty-one men, three women, and some children; that before she was sunk the fire from the boat killed ninety-one Indians and wounded many more; that a small war party followed Sibley some days, returned with the report that he had crossed the James River; then some of the Indians went north; the larger portion, however, went toward the head of Long Lake; and that he thought a portion of them were encamped on the Missouri River west of me.

The report was so much in keeping with the Indian mode of warfare, that, though it came from an Indian, I was led to give it some consideration, particularly the part that stated the Indians, after watching Sibley's return, recrossed when all danger was over, and went back to their nold hunting-grounds. Besides, the guides who were acquainted with the country, stated that “a large body of Indians could not live on the other side long, without going a great distance west; that always at this season of the year the Indians camped on the Ooteau, near the tributaries of the James, where the numerous lakes or springs kept the grass fresh; here the buffalo were plenty, and the lakes and streams full of fish; and that here they prepared their meat for the winter, moving to the Missouri where the fuel was plenty to winter.” I therefore determined to change my course toward the east, to move rapidly, and go as far as my rations would allow.

I felt serious alarm for the safety of Captain La Boo, who had but fifty men with him, and who had already been out over two days without rations. I encamped here for the next day, and sent out four companies of the Second Nebraska and of the Sixth Iowa, under command of Major Pearman, Second Nebraska, to hunt him up, and On the see if there were any Indians on the Missouri. The next day, however, Captain La Boo's company returned, having made a march of one hun dred and eighty-seven miles, living upon what buffalo and game they could kill, scouring the country to my left, overtaking the camp of ten lodges he was sent after, destroying them, but seeing no Indians.

This same day (twenty-ninth) I sent two companies of the Sixth Iowa to the mouth of Apple Creek. They reported on their return that they found the fortified camp of General Sibley, his trail, and his return trail toward the east; that they could see no signs of there having been any fight there, nor could they see the Mackinaw boat reported by the old Indian. This detachment was under command of Captain Cram, Sixth Iowa. The battalion of Major Pearman joined me before starting, having seen nothing, and, after a march of above ninety miles, through a country with no wood whatever, but with good grass and plenty of lakes of the most abominable water, on the third of September we reached a lake, where, on the plains near by, were the remains of a very large number of buffalo killed, some quite recently. Here I encamped to wait the reports of the commands I had out during the march, who every day discovered fresh signs of Indians, their lodge trails spread over the country, but all moving toward a point known to be a favorite haunt of the Indians. I had this day detailed one battalion of the Sixth Iowa, Major House commanding, and Mr. F. La Framboise as guide, to keep ahead of me five miles, and in case they saw a small band of Indians, to attack them, or take them prisoners. If they should find a large band, too large to successfully cope with, to watch the camp at a distance, and send back word to me, my intention being to leave my train under charge of a heavy guard, move up in the night-time so as to surround them, and attack them at day-break. But, for some reason satisfactory to the guide, he bore off much to my left, and came upon the Indians in an encampment of over four hundred lodges, some say six hundred, in ravines, where they felt perfectly secure, being full persuaded that I was still on my way up the Missouri. This is what the Indian prisoners say. They also state that a war party followed me on my way up in hopes of stampeding me; but this they could not do. I marched with great care, with an advance-guard and flankers ; the train in two lines sixty paces apart; the troops on each side; in front and centre myself, with one company and the battery; all the loose stock was kept between the lines of wagons. In this way I lost no animals on the campaign, except some


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