Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

Infantry, was the officer who broke up Fort Dakota. He had no experience in such business; hence the result.

This post, like Fort Rice, is upon the wrong side of the river, necessitating the constant want of a ferry—a boat or a rope, or both.

There is a contract for 500 cords of wood at $6 94 per cord. There is considerable hay on band at this time, and also a large quantity of excellent dry wood. Forts Shaw, Stevenson, and Randall were the only posts where much dry wood has been left over.

There are Indian reservations near Fort Randall, but the settlers are pouring in so rapidly on the Missouri below that the post will not be needed, in any event, five years. It seems a pity to build to any great extent on this site, for the Indians about this reservation are of the TRA friendly, subdued kind, that form a sort of defense against the wild, treacherous, and warlike Sioux toward the Yellowstone, where all the force of the Government will need to be concentrated before many years. At this place the following civilians are allowed : 1 interpreter and guide, at $50; 1 blacksmith, at $75.

There are abundant stores of all kinds, and a supply of pine lumber, shingles, &c. If a storehouse is built, I would recommend pine shingles. A guard house and prison-room is much needed here.

Having looked pretty well over this Missouri country, some opinions which I have naturally formed may not be out of place. First, troops that garrison the Upper Missouri country have the worst stations now occupied by the Army, always excepting the Yuma Desert and Alaska. They need good housing, clothing, feeding, and medical supplies; and as they are in an expensive and difficult country, they require good discipline and good officers, with careful supervision. Abundant fuel is required in winter, and the animals need to be well sheltered and fed.

The line of supply from Chicago, Sioux City, and the Missouri River, the has great advantages, such as celerity, certainty, and a longer season. When the steamer line is broken into two classes, mountain boats or lighters from Buford up, and heavier boats from there down, the business will be much inore complete. A landing about the Muscleshell, and a road into Montana, will dispose of the most difficult navigation of the Upper Missouri.

A great change has been effected in two years. Wood yards are now abundant and increasing, and the trips are proportionally shortened. The transportation has thus been reduced about half.

The river is very well spaced off by posts, and serious losses of boats are not likely to occur from Indians. Troops and officers can be thrown into Montana, via the Union Pacific Railroad and Corinne, at almost any season of the year, except mid winter. This is not, however, now as economical a route as that by the Missouri River.

To prevent animals from being overdriven and destroyed, all officers, especially paymasters, ought to report their trips by land, giving the con distance traveled, the time taken, &c. The animals are not kept properly branded, por is the public property duly marked. There is a great looseness in forage issues and returns, and in its accountability, especially of hay. Surplus property is not taken up and accounted for. There is no accurate measure for the civilian and other labor no record of the results are kept. Articles manufactured, &c., are not taken up and accounted for. The reports of alterations in buildings, &c., are not made, or are mostly inaccurate. Exaggerated estimates of property are made often from a vanity to have every article on hand known to the vocabulary of the mechanic. The estimates and requisitions are not entirely trustworthy, and a vast and unnecessary amount of property

[ocr errors]

has accumulated at the several posts. Especially is this the case in regard to all kinds of materials used for repairs. Generally, repairs of everything, except buildings that cannot be made by enlisted labor, ought to cease at these posts. As I have often recommended, no building should love erected except upon an approved plan, and no commanding officer should order :iny labor hired or property purchased unless he have the money to pay for it, or it be authorized on proper estimates made in advance.

The military communication with the posts is most uncertain and miserable in winter. Troops buried in snow, afflicted with scurvy, have the misfortune to be cut off from their fellow-men about half the year, as at Fort Buford. The amount that would keep such an express possible seems enormous for such a purpose; but were it expended in the stupil transfer of worthless property from one point to another, it would probably pass unchallenged.

The morals of the troops at Fort Buford have never been good; much of it has no doubt arisen from neglect and the great isolation of the post.

Atter an interval of one month, upon September 2 I started under the annexed order upon a tour of inspection of the remaining posts in the department. The road from St. Cloud to Fort Abercrombie, over which we transport our stores, extends along the Sauk Valley fully half of the way, and in a wet season it is a wretched one, especially about thirty iniles through the Alexandria woods, where little has ever been done to put it in serviceable condition. It will be of great advantage another pear to change this line to the other branch of the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, which during another season will reach Breckinridge, some twelve miles from Fort Abercrombie, thus getting rid of one hundred and seventy miles of hauling from St. Cloud to that post.

FORT ABERCROMBIE

routes.

is built in a bend of the Red River of the North, upon the west or Dakota side, in a very fertile but low and overflowed district of country. In the past ten years this post, advanced as it was beyond the settlements, and, being the starting point for expeditions to the Missouri, possessed some offensive and defensive importance. All that is now passed away, and the only obvious use of the post now is to serve as a depot whence to supply Forts Totten, Ransom, and posts in the prolongation of their

Fort Ransom is but seventy-five miles from this post, and Fort Totten one hunded and sixty-five miles.

Hospital. The hospital accommodations are deemed sufficient for the present wants of the post, although the entire expenditure has been made upon the administration building. A ward may be added at any time when required.

Barracks and quarters. There are not sufficient quarters for the offeers since a chaplain and assistant quartermaster have been ordered to the post; both these officers have to be provided with quarters. The sulliers' quarters require some repairs. They are ample for all the force really needed at this point, namely, one company to guard the stores.

A suitable double wooden building for surgeon and chaplain, or chaplain and assistant quartermaster, will cost $8,000.

A saw-mill at or near the post can furnish the lumber, (pine,) at $ 10 per thousand.

Storehouses.-A storehouse was built about one year ago by contract,

[ocr errors]

the commanding officer (General Sidell) superintending it. From de fective drainage it is tumbling down. A deep cellar, dug in clay, was placed under it, which was allowed to fill with water; this softened the clay, so that the brick cellar-wall and foundation caved in, and let the building down. This building is used for subsistence stores; it shows in evidence of very great neglect on the part of the post authorities at some time. The quartermaster's storehouse is even in a worse condition, from similar causes. An examination of the ground showed that these buildings could readily be drained into the river. The stable is large and in good condition, but not constructed in accordance with the plan, and for this reason it is extremely inconvenient. It will answer, however, present purposes, as it is proposed to bring the public train to Fort Snelling to winter.

The ferry at this post is owned and kept in order by the post trader, who charges a nominal ferriage to the Government to cover his expenses.

Settlers have now approached this post, so that grain for forage, and perhaps another year enough flour, may be purchased for the use of the garrison, deliverable at the post and raised in its vicinity.

Grass exists in the alluvial bottoms of the river in the greatest abundance, and there is no reason why the post should not be supplied with the best of prairie hay. This season the rains and the ignorance or neglect of the post quartermaster, Brevet Lieutenant Colonel William Hawley, has led to loss and confusion in this respect. The hay was put up green and wet, and all, or nearly all, lost in consequence. The application of some salt might have remedied this; but even this well-known expedient was neglected or not understood.

The grain on hand was in bad condition, and a vile compound of dirtsweepings and rat-chaff was issued to the animals of our train by the post quartermaster when we left the post, greatly to their injury.

Wood is furnished by contract, and is not abundant on the reserva. tion.

Water is hauled in wagons by the troops. The post has no reservoirs, cisterns, or tanks, nor any provisions against fire. Some arrangements are required if this is to be made a depot of stores.

This post is at present garrisoned by two skeleton 'companies of the Twentieth United States Infantry, and commanded by the lieutenant colonel of the regiment. There is a detachment of horses for mounted infantry and scouts. Were due preparations made this would be the proper post for regimental headquarters and for the supply train, which are two hundred and fifty miles out of place at Fort Snelling.

FORT WADSWORTH.

Seventy-six miles west of south from Fort Abercrombie, and some thirty miles from the western boundary of Minnesota, is placed Fort Wadsworth, nearly surrounded by small lakes, and twenty miles within the hill country known as the coteau of the Missouri. It is about thirty miles from the valley of the James River, an old and favorite resort of the Indians west.

This post is west of and near the head of the route of the Minnesota River. Fort Ransom, sixty-five miles north of this post, is upon the same route, and at its point of departure from the great western bend of the Chene (Cheyenne) for Fort Rice or Fort Stevenson. These posts were fixed when that was regarded as the best route to the Missouri; but more recently ideas have changed. The railroad from St. Paul to

the northwest has deprived the Minnesota River route of any significance whatever, and the greatest facilities for reaching the Missouri River are found to be higher up toward Fort Totten or Minni-Wakan Lake.

Fort Wadsworth is situated on the borders of an Indian reservation, and has importance as a police station, besides being west of the settlements and defensively situated with respect to a protection of them from hostile Indians from the west.

Hospital.-A good brick building, in fine order generally, is used as a hospital.

Storehouses.-Ample, of stone; in tolerable order.

Barracks and quarters.—The soldiers' barracks are of stone; require repairs to floor and lathing and plastering overhead; iron bedsteads needed.

Officers' quarters.-Ample, of brick. One building needs some attention and repairs.

Guard-house. --Too large for the garrison, and needs a floor; built of brick. Magazine.--A very fine one of brick, in good order.

Wood.-Obtained with difficulty by contract. The orders in regard to wood at this post are not carried out. The post trader had been allowed to cut some two hundred cords, while the garrison obtains wood with difficulty.

Hay.-Hay is obtained by contract. It was of fair quality, but not properly stacked, nor was the fence around the stacks put up. The butchers' berd and other cattle had access to the stacks. The quartermaster, Lieutenant Allanson, had receipted for some three hundred tons of worthless stack bottoms and refuse, trampled-down and rotten hay, to Lieutenant J. D. Geobegan, of the Tenth United States Infantry. Lieutenant Geobegan failed to transfer the money which he received (some $900) from the Indian agent, for 14,040 pounds of corn of the Quartermaster's Department, sold to the Indian agent, Dr. Daniels. He took Lieutenant Allanson's receipt for the corn sold, but has since corrected it by receipting for that amount, but not by transferring the money and dropping the grain. Lieutenant Geohegan transfers the grain to Fort McIntosh, Texas, where he is serving.

The land around Fort Wadsworth is good ; grass is abundant; wood scarce; water poor. An excellent bed of suitable clay, for making a fine quality of cream-colored bricks, underlies the post. Limestone, in the form of boulders, is scattered over the surrounding country. A good lime-kiln exists at the post, brick-machines for making brick, &c. There are sixteen mules in the Quartermaster's Department, and thirtyfire horses with the mounted force. There are also twelve oxen worked at various kinds of hauling.

It will be observed that Forts Abercrombie, Ransom, and Wadsworth, being joined by straight lines, form a triangle of about seventy miles to the side, (or two days apart,) that possesses considerable strength from the mutual assistance that may be given, and this triangle covers the opening, as it were, between the Minnesota and Red River of the North. The roads connecting these posts are across the prairies, now properly staked and marked, so that they may be traversed in winter without the risk of loss of life that, unhappily, has occurred in times past.

It may be well to suggest that an intermediate station would be an advantage between Ransom and Wadsworth, at Spring Creek, two miles

S. Ex. Doc. 8

RIS

[ocr errors]

24

great

linni.Wakan
abong the Missouri
to of any signific

17

[ocr errors]

the wille

trwapsation,

[ocr errors]

the commanding officer (General Si The crossing of th
fective drainage it is tumbling dov
placed under it, which was allowe,

"er, at $75 pe
clay, so that the brick cellar-wal
building down. This building
evidence of very great neglec
some time. The quartermaste
from similar causes. An es
buildings could readily bed
in good condition, but not

all for this reason it is ext

Totten by present purposes, as it

gone hundred and l. Snelling to winter. The ferry at this p

1867, and has been constructed who charges a non

Aajor General A. H. Terry desig. penses.

.an, Tenth United States Infantry, Settlers have no

did not occupy the place indicated by perhaps another garrison, delive

importance at present. It is on the CheyGrass exists

K, (Bears' Den Hillock,) about twenty-five dance, and the ne direct road from Fort Totten to Fort Aber. the best of

„rtially to cover that road. neglect of

ters. There are sufficient quarters for the officers; Hawley,

or, needing a new roof upon one side; quarters for up green ent. There is a good hospital, magazine, and storecation of ter was in superior order. Some lathing and plastering expedi' o finish the post. At this post the public laths were used Thr

uicken yards, and good lumber and pine shingles had been

cover new houses. There is a steam saw-mill at this post, er pos

to the weather, except some old canvas was thrown over the t the wood delivered upon contract was good and well piled. The concractor had, however, been put to many inconveniences. He was made to get his wood clear of the reservation, and to graze and herd his stock at a distance from the post. He stated that, in conversation, he was told by the commanding officer that the chief quartermaster had no authority to draw the contract so that vouchers might be given for any part until the whole was delivered, &c. Since my inspection, Mr. Myrick informs me that he (the commanding officer) has ordered his (Myrick's) agent, who is getting wood, off the post. The embarrassments to supplying wood, with an officer who is so difficult to suit, are so great that it is recommended that the wood, from this date, be cut at this post and hauled by the troops. The company has been filled up: there is no other labor required, and it is believed to be for the interest of the service that this course be pursued.

Water is about 1,500 feet distant, and is hauled by the troops. Wood is abundant and convenient, and grazing and hay all that is desired.

Civilians authorized: 1 blacksmith, at $75 per month; 1 guide and interpreter, at $75 per month.

swer

ne.

FORT TOTTEN.

This post is on Minni-Wakan Lake, one hundred and twenty-six miles north of Fort Ransom, one hundred and twenty-six miles a little north of east from Fort Stevenson, on the Missouri River, and about seventy miles east of Mouse River. This post is well situated in a tract of roll

« PředchozíPokračovat »