In treating of the equipment, supplies, and the method of traveling, I shall confine my remarks, entirely, to the over land route, which lies through the great southern pass; as the chief emigration, to those countries, is, at this time, by that route, which from present indications, is destined to become the great thoroughfare, between the States, and both Oregon and California. All persons, designing to travel by this route, should, invariably, equip themselves with a good gun; at least, five pounds of powder, and twenty pounds of lead; in addition to which, it might be advisable, also, for each to provide himself with a holster of good pistols, which would, always, be found of very great service, yet they are not indispensable. If pistols are taken, an additional supply of ammunition should, also, be taken; for, it almost necessarily follows, that the more firearms you have, the more ammunition you will require, whether assailed by the Indians, or assailing the buffalo. If you come in contact with the latter, you will find the pistols of the greatest importance; for you may gollop your horse, side by side, with them, and having pistols, you may shoot them down at your pleasure; but should you come in mortal conflict with the former, the rifle will be found to be much more effective, and terrific; the very presence of which, always, affords ample security. Being provided with arms and ammunition, as above suggested, the emigrant may consider himself, as far as his equipment is concerned, prepared, for any warlike emergency, especially, if nature has, also, equipped him with the requisite energy and courage.
In procuring supplies for this journey, the emigrant should provide himself with, at least, two hundred pounds of flour, or meal; one hundred and fifty pounds of bacon; ten pounds of coffee; twenty pounds of sugar; and ten pounds of salt, with such other provisions as he may prefer, and can conveniently take; yet the provisions, above enumerated, are considered, ample, both as to quantity, and variety. It would, perhaps, be advisable for emigrants, not to encumber themselves with any other, than those just enumerated; as it is impracticable for them, to take all the luxuries, to which they have been accustomed; and as it is found, by experience, that, when upon this kind of expedition, they are not desired, even by the most devoted epicurean. The above remarks, in reference to the quantity of provisions, are designed to apply only to adults; but taking the above as the data, parents will find no difficulty, in determining as to the necessary quantum for children; in doing which, however, it should always be observed, that children as well as adults, require, about twice the quantity of provisions, which they would, at home, for the same length of time. This is attributable to their being deprived of vegetables, and other sauce, and their being confined to meat and bread alone; as well as the fact, of their being subjected to continued and regular exercise, in the open air, which gives additional vigor and strength, which, greatly improves the health, and therefore, gives an additional demand for food. I am aware, that an opinion prevails among many, that when arriving in that region in which the buffalo abound, meat can be very readily obtained, and hence, much less meat need be taken; but this is in error, which, unless cautiously guarded against, will be very, apt to prove fatal: for to be found in that wild and remote region, depending upon the buffalo for meat, would, in nine cases out of ten, result in immediate or ultimate starvation, especially, if there should be large body of persons together. It is true, that immense herds of buffalo, are found in that region; but it would be impossible, to kill them in sufficient numbers, to sustain a large party, unless many, persons should devote their entire attention to the business of hunting; and, even then, it could not be done, unless the company should delay for that purpose, which would, in all probability, produce consequences, equally as fatal as starvation; for, unless you pass over the mountains early in the fall, you are very liable to be detained, by impassable mountains of snow, until the next spring, or, perhaps, forever. Then it would seem, that, although the buffalo are vastly numerous, they cannot be relied upon; yet to avoid encumbering himself with the very large quantities of meat which his family would require, the emigrant can drive cattle, which will afford him a very good substitute, not only for the beef of the buffalo, but, also, for bacon; and what is more important, is, that they can be relied upon, under all circumstances.
Very few cooking utensils, should be taken, as they very, much increase the load, to avoid which, is always a consideration of paramount importance. A baking-kettle, frying-pan, tea-kettle, tea-pot, and coffee-pot, are all the furniture of this kind, that is essential, which, together with tin plates, tin cups, ordinary knives, forks, spoons, and a coffee-mill, should constitute the entire kitchen apparatus. Bedding should consist of nothing more than blankets, sheets, coverlets and pillows, which, being spread upon a buffalo robe, an oiled cloth, or some other impervious substance, should constitute the beds, which are found much preferable, because of their being much less bulky, and weighty. Feather-beds are sometimes taken by the families, but in many instances, they find them, not only burthensome and inconvenient, but entirely useless, consequently, they leave them by the way, and pursue the course above suggested. Our common horses are preferable for the saddle, but it becomes necessary to take such numbers of them, that they may be occasionally changed; for it is found by experience, that no American horse can be taken entirely through, being daily used, either under the saddle, or in the harness. Many prefer mules for the saddle, but they are objectionable, because of their extreme intractability, and their inflexible inertness, in which they appear to indulge, to a much greater extent than usual, upon this kind of expedition. For the harness, mules are preferable to horses; for, notwithstanding their extreme inertness and slowness, they are found to endure the fatigue and to subsist upon vegetation alone, much better than horses; but oxen are considered preferable to either. If mules are taken, it is advisable to take more of them, than are required for ordinary teams, in order that they maybe changed as occasion may require; for they, even, frequently become so fatigued, and exhausted, that they, like the horses, are left by the way, to be taken or killed, by the Indians. Oxen endure the fatigue and heat, much better than either horses or mules; and they also, subsist much better, upon vegetation alone, as all herds are, of course, required to do, upon all portions of the route. There is no instance, within my knowledge, of any emigrants being required to leave his oxen by the way, because of excessive fatigue, or extreme poverty; for, as a general thing, they continue to thrive, during the entire journey. But there are other considerations, which give them a decided preference, among which is the fact, that they are not liable to be stolen by the Indians, who are aware, that they travel so extremely slowly, that it would be impossible for them, to drive them so far, during the night, that they could not be retaken, during the next day; hence, they will not hazard the attempt, especially as they would be serviceable to them, only as food; and as the country abounds with buffalo, and other game, the meat of which they very much prefer. Another consideration, which gives cattle the preference, is that they do not ramble far from the encampment, as do horses and mules; nor are they necessarily tied, or otherwise confined, but are permitted to range about uncontrolled, both by day and night; and, yet they are always to be found, within sight or hearing of the encampment. In selecting horses, mules and oxen, for this expedition, none should be taken, which are under five, or over ten years of age; nor should calves or colts, under one year of age, be taken; for, from the tenderness of their hoofs, and their inability otherwise to endure fatigue , they are invariably left by the way. The hoofs of older cattle, even, are frequently worn to such an extent, that, at times, it appears almost impossible, for them to continue the journey, but being driven on, from day to day, their hoofs soon become again so indurated, as to obviate all further inconvenience. Some urge the propriety of working cows, instead of oxen, both the advantage and propriety of which, are very questionable; for, it will be admitted, that they are much inferior to oxen, in point of physical strength, and, hence, cannot be as serviceable for the draught; but it is urged, that, although they are more feeble, and, hence, less serviceable for the yoke, yet they are preferable, because they answer the double purpose draught animals, and milk-cows; but the force of this reason is lost, when we take into consideration, the unwholesomeness of the milk of animals, whose systems are, thus, enfevered by exposure to excessive heat, and extreme physical exertion.
Good and substantial wagons should always be selected, and however firm and staunch they may appear, they should, invariably, be particularly examined, and repaired, before leaving the States; for, otherwise, the emigrant may set out, with a very good wagon to all appearances, the defects of which, when he shall have traveled a few hundred miles, will have become very obvious; the consequence of which, is, that he is left without a wagon, and thrown upon the kindness of his friends, for the conveyance of his family and provisions. Whether wagons are new or old, it is perhaps, preferable, always to have the tires re-set, previous to leaving Independence; otherwise, before traveling one thousand miles, into that vastly elevated region, from the intense heat of those extensive, sandy plains, and the extreme aridity of the atmosphere, the tires become so expanded, and the wooden portions of the wheels, so contracted, that it will be very difficult to keep them together, in which, however, by the constant and regular application of water, you may possibly succeed. Those who go to Oregon, if they design to perform the journey in the ordinary time, of 120 days, should take their wagons, with a view of leaving them at Fort Hall, and performing the residue of the journey, on horseback; otherwise, the repeated interruptions, below that point, will, most likely, present an insuperable barrier, to the accomplishment of their object. Horses, which have been accustomed to wearing shoes, should also be shod for this journey, but others should not, as to shoe the latter, only imposes an unncessary expense, and spoils the hoof, by cutting away that horny substance, which, hardened by the intensely heated sand, would answer all the purposes of shoes. Mules, like horses, if they have not been previously shod, ought not to be, for the same reason, as that above stated; and oxen and cows, ought never to be shod; yet many pursue a different course, and thereby, incur much useless expense, and inconvenience. Those horses and mules, which it becomes necessary to shoe, should be shod, previous to leaving the States; and one or two pairs of extra shoes, should be taken for each, which may be set by the blacksmiths on the way; as there are, always, several mechanics of that kind, belonging to each company. Besides the foregoing supplies, emigrants should also, provide themselves with good wagon covers and tents, tent poles, axes, spades, and hoes, as well as strong ropes, of about sixty feet in length, for each horse or mule, with a supply of stakes, to which they are to be tied; in addition to which, every wagon should be supplied with extra axletrees, chains, hammers, and the like; and the different mechanics should also take a small portion of their tools, as they are, always, needed by the way. Should there be physicians and surgeons, attached to the company, as there most usually are, they should supply themselves with a small assortment of medicine, and a few surgical instruments. In addition to all the foregoing, perhaps, it would also be advisable for each emigrant, to provide himself with some such goods, as are adapted to the Indian trade, such, for instance, as beads, tobacco, handkerchiefs, blankets, ready made clothing, such as cheap, summer coats, pantaloons, vests and course, cheap shirts, butcher knives, fishhooks, and powder and lead. Being equipped and supplied, as here suggested, the emigrant may set out upon this wild, yet interesting excursion, with high prospects of enjoying many extraordinary and pleasing scenes; and of safely arriving at his desired place of destination, without suffering any of that extraordinary toil, unheard of hardship, or eminent danger, which his own fruitful imagination, or the kind regard of his numerous friends, may have devised.
Nothing now remains to be done, but to notice the method of traveling, which I shall proceed to do, with as much brevity, as is consistent with the importance of the subject. Emigrants should, invariably, arrive at Independence, Mo., on, or before, the fifteenth day of April, so as to be in readiness, to enter upon their journey, on or before, the first day of May; after which time, they should never start if it can, possibly, be avoided. The advantages to be derived, from setting out at as early a day as that above suggested, are those of having an abundance of good pasturage, in passing over those desolate and thirsty plains; and being enabled to cross the mountains, before the falling of mountains of snow, or floods of rain, which usually occurs, in that region, early in October. Before leaving the rendezvous, emigrants should, always, organize, by dividing into such companies, and electing such officers, as shall be deemed necessary. Having organized, they commence their onward, westward march, under the direction of their officers, and moving merrily on, they soon arrive at their mid-day encampment, when the wagons are driven up, so as to form a large elliptical enclosure, into which the horses may be driven, in case of an incursion, or an attack by the Indians. This enclosure is called a "caral," and is formed, by dividing the whole number of wagons, into equal divisions, each of which, is under the control of an officer, who is designated for that purpose, and who moves on, in advance of his particular division, to the place pointed out, by the principal officer, as the encampment where one of the wagons of each division, is placed at the head of the encampment, side by side, about ten feet distant from each other. By the side of each of these, and about half the length of the wagon, to the rear of each, is another wagon driven; at the side, and half to the rear, of the latter wagons, are two others driven, and so on continually, until the rear of the enclosure, is as nearly, closed as the front. The cattle and horses, are now turned loose, upon the plains, where they are guarded and herded, by a guard, consisting of several persons, who are designated for that purpose; and who remain upon the plains, beyond the herds, until all have dined, and until the command is given to prepare to march, when they, immediately commence to drive the herds from all directions, toward the camp. Each now proceeds to catch, harness and saddle his horses, and yoke his oxen; and soon the caravan is again in motion; and moving onward, with increased speed, it arrives, in a few hours, at the nocturnal encampment. At this encampment, as at the former, the wagons are again divided, into two equal divisions, which now move, side by side, following their respective officers, until they arrive at the place designated, as the encampment. Here one of the officers, followed by his division, falls off to the right, and the other, to the left, forming right angles; and moving in opposite directions, to designated points, when the former division wheels to the left, and the latter, to the right, forming right angles, as before; when moving on, to another designated point, the former division again wheels to the left and the latter, to the right forming right angles, and continuing the same direction, until the two divisions, meet, and thus form large square "caral " or enclosure. Horses are now unharnessed; cattle are unyoked and all are turned together, upon the unbounded plains, where they are permitted to graze, under the watchful care of a vigilant guard, until nightfall; when after all have supped, and the cloths are removed, the command is given, and the vast herds are crowded together, into the enclosure, before described; which is, now, everywhere surrounded, with erected tents and blazing fires. Within this "caral" or enclosure, stakes are thickly driven, to which the horses and mules, are firmly tied; when sufficient guards are sent out and stationed, at designated posts, where they remain for about two hours; when they are relieved by others, who, after the lapse of two hours, are also relieved, in a similar manner, and so on, during the night. In the morning, upon the signal's being given, other guards are sent into the plains, in the vicinity of the camp, in order to receive and guard the horses and mules, as they are turned out of the "caral," and until the command is given to march, when the tumultuous caravan is again in motion, amid the deafening confusion of the loquacious, noisy thousands.
Nothing different from the foregoing, worthy of remark, occurs, from day to day, in reference to the method of traveling, until the company arrives in the territory of the hostile Indians, which commences at the Kansas river, and extends throughout the residue of the journey. Throughout all portions of the country, beyond the Kansas, emigrants are required to proceed with much more caution, especially, in the country of the Pawnees, Sioux, Shyanes, Eutaws, and Black-feet. Wherever there are evidences of hostile Indians' being in the vicinity of the company, it is advisable, always, to enjoin upon all, to avoid a separation from the main body of the company, and, at the same time, to keep an advance and rear-guard out, as the company is on the march. Should the guards discover an approaching enemy, the safest course is, to throw the caravan, at once, into a defensive attitude, which is very readily done, by forming a "caral," in a manner, quite similar to that first described; the only difference being, that the teams of both cattle and horses, occupy the interior, instead of the exterior, of the "caral," without being detached from the wagons. Being thus formed, the entire caravan assumes an impregnable attitude; the wagons affording complete protection to the women and children, as well as the teams, and at the same time, affording a secure breast-work for the men, should they be driven to the necessity of using them for that purpose. Upon the approach of the Indians, and their friendly designs, timidity or cowardice being discovered, the company is soon enabled to continue its march, as though no interruption had occurred. Upon many portions of the route, it becomes necessary thus to form the wagons, several times each day, in order to dispose of various marauding and war parties, with whom emigrants, frequently come in contact. In many portions of this country, it is found to be unsafe, to turn the horses or mules loose, upon the plains, either at night or during the day; instead of which course, they should be tied with long ropes to stakes, which are driven for that purpose, being well guarded, and moved from time to time, as circumstances may require. Whether this course should be pursued, is, of course, determined by the officers, in view of all the surrounding circumstances, which if adopted, is found to answer every purpose, of turning the horses and mules loose upon the plains; and it is much more convenient, as they are much more readily taken, when the company is in readiness to march. A sufficient and vigilant guard, should, always, be kept out, whenever the company is encamped, whether during the day or night. These guards maybe distinguished, as day, and night guards, the former of which, should always be sent out, whether in the morning or at noon, before the horses and mules are turned out, in order to receive them, and the more effectually, to prevent their rambling far from the encampment, as well as the more readily to drive them in to the "caral," in case of an incursion by the Indians. The night guard should, always, be sent out previous to nightfall; when the fires should, invariably, be extinguished, in order to prevent being discovered by the Indians, from the surrounding hills and mountains. The day guards should not generally, be permitted to discharge a gun, only in case of an attack, as the discharge of firearms by the guard, is considered, as an indication of the hostile movements of the enemy; nor are the night guards ever permitted to discharge their firearms, unless human beings are descried, endeavoring to effect either a clandestine, or forcible approach.
The Indians, being aware of this arrangement among mountaineers, have, in many instances availed themselves of the preference, which the above arrangements, give animals, in quadruped form, to those in human form. Being aware that, in human form, it would be very dangerous to approach the encampment of white men, in the night, they change their forms, and approach in the form of an elk, or some other familiar animal; but they usually prefer the form of the elk, as it is the most common animal in those regions. In order to effect the requisite metamorphosis, to enable them to enter the camp of the whites, they prepare the hide of an elk, entire, retaining his ponderous horns, which being thus prepared, is placed upon one of the most daring "braves," who proceeds to the encampment; and, upon all fours, moves about the camp, apparently feeding as he goes, until he observes the greatest space between the sentinels, when he passes on, elk like, among the horses. He now goes on, from horse to horse, cutting the ropes with which they are tied, until he has loosed a greater part of them, when he throws off his disguise, mounts a horse, and, with most hideous whoops and yells, unlike an elk; he soon puts the horses to flight, and the guard to a nonplus; and leaving all in the utmost confusion, gallops swiftly away closely pursuing his numerous, frightened prey, when, soon, he is joined by hundreds of his villainous comrades. With the precaution, however, of securing the horses properly, within the "caral," as before suggested, no danger whatever is; to be apprehended from the elk, in human form. Another method, by which the Indians effect an entrance into the encampment by deceptive means is by drawing near to the camp, in various directions and commencing a most tremendous howling, in precise imitation of wolves; and so perfect is the mimicry, that it is almost impossible to distinguish their howl, from that of the real wolf. By this deceptive course, the sentinels are thrown off their guard; for as they hear what they suppose to be wolves, in almost every direction from the encampment, and that too, very near, they are naturally led to the conclusion, that there are no Indians their vicinity, as wolves and Indians seldom occupy the same country together in harmony. In order to avoid the misfortunes which so frequently befall emigrants from the accidental discharge of firearms, guns should never be carried capped or primed; yet they should, always, be carried loaded, and otherwise in order for action, upon a moment's warning. More danger is to be apprehended, from your own guns, without the observance of the above precaution, than from those of the enemy; for we very frequently, hear of emigrants' being killed from the accidental discharge of firearms; but we very seldom hear of their being killed by Indians. The importance of observing the above regulation, cannot be too strongly urged; for as the entire company, of hundreds or thousands as the case may be, is frequently thrown together, and confined within a very small compass, the accidental discharge of a gun, is likely to be attended with serious and fatal consequences. A practice prevails among the emigrants, of disbanding, and disposing of their arms to the Indians and others, upon arriving at Green river, or Fort Hall, and pursuing the residue of the journey, in detached and unarmed companies. This practice should, by all means, be invariably avoided, as it is beyond those points that the Black-feet, the most hostile tribe in all that region, are met, if they are at all seen; and as all the Indians, who inhabit that portion of the country, although they are said to be friendly, as before remarked, avail themselves of every opportunity, of insulting, and even robbing, every small party, with whom, they may chance to meet. Both numbers and arms, sufficient for self-protection, are as indispensably necessary, upon this, as upon any other portion of the route; although an adverse opinion, is prevalent, among all the mountaineers, of that region, yet experience, amply sustains the opinion, just advanced.
In hunting the buffalo, the greatest precaution should be observed, as the hunters are not, unfrequently, attacked and robbed, of both their meat and horses; hence, it is advisable, that they should, always go out, in sufficient numbers, to insure their protection. The method of taking the buffalo, is either by approaching them unobserved, or by giving them chase, on horseback, and shooting them down as you pass them: the latter of which methods is, perhaps, preferable; and, hence, it is most generally adopted. In hunting the buffalo, emigrants are very liable to loose their fleet horses, which, after having been used a few times in the chase, with whatever timidity, they may have, at first, approached the buffalo, will, the moment buffalo are seen, evince the greatest anxiety to commence the chase; and, if restrained, in the least, they prance to and fro, under the steady restraint of the rider, or standing, they gnash the bit, and stamp and paw the ground, with all the wild ferocity, of those trained for the race course, or the battle field; and, unless perfectly secured, by being permanently tied or held, they dart away, and commence the chase without a rider. There have been numerous instances, upon the appearance of the buffalo, of their having broken loose in this manner, although saddled and permanently tied; and having commenced the chase at the top of their speed, until they arrived in the midst of the buffalo, when horses and buffalo together, leaped away over the vast plains, and were never seen or heard of afterwards. Companies should never consist of more than five hundred persons; for, as they are enlarged, the inconvenience, difficulties and dangers, are increased. The inconvenience of encamping a large company upon the very small encampments, to which emigrants are frequently necessarily confined, the difficulty of obtaining a sufficiency of pasturage, for such extensive herds; and the increased danger, arising from accidents, where large bodies of armed men, are thrown together, without the aid of military discipline; as well as the inconvenience and difficulty, arising from the protracted marches of large caravans, and the danger arising from the extreme tardiness, with which large companies, are thrown into a defensive attitude, in case of an attack, must be obvious to all, even the most inexperienced, in this method of traveling. By the careful observance, of the foregoing directions and suggestions, as well as a close adherence to their own experience, emigrants will avoid all those hardships and dangers, which they would; otherwise necessarily experience. It is true, that emigrants in traveling, through these wild regions are cut off in a measure, from society, deprived of many of the luxuries of civilized life; and it is also true, that their way is not studded, with magnificent churches, and spacious houses of public entertainment; but they have enough of the enjoyments of society, for their present purposes, and as many of the luxuries of life, as are conducive to health and happiness: and although they have not the benefits of churches, yet every camp of the emigrants is truly, a camp-meeting, and presents many of the exciting and interesting scenes, exhibited upon those important occasions; and, although they have not all the conveniences, of commodious public-houses, yet nature's great inn, is always in readiness for their reception; and they experience the continual manifestations of the peculiar care and protection, of its great Proprietor, whether high upon the eternal mountains above, or deep, in the untrodden vales below.
The task assigned me at the outset, I have now, faithfully, though briefly, and imperfectly, performed; yet, notwithstanding its brevity and imperfection, it is hoped that it will afford some valuable and practical information, in reference to both those highly important countries. Nothing, however, has been attempted, but an extremely brief, though practical description of those countries, which was designed, to enable the reader, to draw tolerably correct conclusions, in reference to their extent, mountains, rivers, lakes, islands, harbors, soil, climate, health, productions, governments, society, trade and commerce; and to give the emigrant, such practical information, relative to the routes, the equipment, supplies, and the method of traveling, as is thought to be essential, to his success and safety: all of which, I have now done, as far as consisent with the extent of this little work, and my original design. In leaving this subject it is natural for us, not only to review what we have just seen, in reference to those countries, and to contemplate their present, prosperous condition, but also, to anticipate their condition, in reference to the progressive future. In view of their increasing population, accumulating wealth, and growing prosperity, I can not but believe, that the time is not distant, when those wild forests, trackless plains, untrodden valleys, and the unbounded ocean, will present one grand scene, of continuous improvements, and unparalleled commerce: when those vast forests, shall have disappeared, before the hardy pioneer; those extensive plains, shall abound with innumerable herds, of domestic animals; those fertile valleys, shall groan under the immense weight of their abundant products: when those numerous rivers, shall team with countless steamboats, steam-ships, ships, barques and brigs; when the entire country, be everywhere intersected, with turnpike roads, railroads and canals; and when, all the vastly numerous, and rich resources, of that now, almost unknown region, will be fully and advantageously developed. To complete this picture, we may fancy to ourselves, a Boston, a New York, a Philadelphia and a Baltimore growing up in a day, as it were, both in Oregon and California, crowded with a vast population, and affording all the enjoyments and luxuries, of civilized life. And to this we may add, numerous churches, magnificent edifices, spacious colleges, and stupendous monuments and observatories, all of Grecian architecture, rearing their majestic heads, high in the aerial region, amid those towering pyramids of perpetual snow, looking down upon all the busy, bustling scenes, of tumultuous civilization, amid the eternal verdure of perennial spring. And in fine, we are also led to contemplate the time, as fast approaching, when the supreme darkness of ignorance, superstition, and despotism, which now, so entirely pervade many portions of those remote regions, will have fled forever, before the march of civilization, and the blazing light, of civil and religious liberty; when genuine republicanism, and unsophisticated democracy, shall be reared up, and tower aloft, even upon the now wild shores, of the great Pacific; where they shall forever stand forth, as enduring monuments, to the increasing wisdom of man, and the infinite kindness and protection, of an all-wise, and overruling Providence.