The Forty-Day Scout

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August 9th, 1872 —Our Cooks (Kind hearted fellows) thought they would treat us to some soft bread. So last night they baked. At breakfast this morning I was handed something which from its color and weight I presumed must be part of a brick, but was told by the cook that it was my ration of bread. Now I believe my digestive organs are about as strong as the majority of the white race and I would no more attempt their powers on that piece of bread, than I would on a 12 Ib. solid shot. I politely thanked our gentlemanly cook, but declined eating any of his fresh bread, preferring “hard tack” which had been baked in some mechanical bakery in the first year of the late Rebellion. We brought some beef cattle from Bascom with us, during the night they became frightened and stampeded, half the men of our troop was sent after them returned with the cattle about 9 A.M. The Command (excepting our troop) left Camp at 7 o-clock. We soon caught up with them after our men came in with the Cattle. After a short march of 6 miles went into Camp, near the old Fort Smith road. …

August 10th, 1872 —B.L. and M. Troops, left Camp at 8 A.M. leaving “D” Troop behind to search for the Cattle, which had again stampeded during the night. …

During the day saw numbers of antelope, first game had seen since leaving Bascom. They were very wild and it was impossible to get a shot at them. It rained some during the past night, also a little this morning. The General rode horseback from the time we left Camp this morning until 2 o’clock P.M. when he returned to his Ambulance. Don’t think he is much of a horseman. … Something resembling a drove of cattle was seen at a distance. The command was halted until the General examined it through his field glasses and pronounced it dust which had been raised by the wind. Marched thirty miles when found water sufficient for the Command, but no wood. Had prepared ourselves before leaving our previous Camp for such an emergency by putting plenty of wood on the wagons. “D” Troop has not come up yet, but will perhaps before dark.

August llth, 1872 —Still in Camp, “D” Troop failed to arrive last night. Our wood has run out. All hands took sacks and scattered over the prairie picking up “buffalo chips” (buffalo manure) to cook by. These chips make a very good fire, but the odor arising after they burn sometimes does not smell as sweet as “new mown hay.” But then soldiers are not particular about the smell, something to appease their appetites is more in their minds than anything else. … “D” Troop came in at 10 o’clock. …

We are now in splendid hunting ground. Antelope are as plentiful as flies in harvest time, but are much harder to Kill, they are very wild. More so than a person would expect, as they seldom see a hunter. One of our troop succeeded in Killing one a little while ago. Their meat is very nice eating. Soldiers prefer it to Army bacon.

August 12th, 1872 —Broke Camp at 6Vfe A.M. found plenty of cedar wood, loaded our wagons, for this will be the last wood we will find for some days. We ascended a high hill when found ourselves on the “famous staked Plains” of Texas. Famous for wild game of all kinds including Kiowa and Comanche Indians. …

What a great pity some poor man could not own about forty miles of this land in some Eastern City. It would then be worth something, but as it is, it is not worth one cent an acre at the present time. And it never will be worth any more. The first buffalo was killed by one of “D” Troop today, from the quantity of meat I saw in the wagon which brought it in, I would judge they must weigh about one thousand pounds. One quarter of the animal was given to us and will be cooked for breakfast tomorrow. I just saw another buffalo, about one mile away, too far to go after. Am feeling confident that I will be able to send you the tip of my first buffalo’s tail. …

August 13th, 1872 —Left Camp at 6 A.M. marching almost due east, in fact have been marching nearly in that direction since left Bascom. During the morning we saw at least five hundred Antelope, but nary buffalo, or red man. The former am anxious to see, but no particular desire to meet the latter. …

August 14th, 1872 —We all woke up this morning rather early from sound slumber by the patter of rain in our faces. We had not sufficient transportation leaving Bascom to carry tents for the men, and would not have brought them if had.… We had two alternatives, one to lie and take the wetting in our blankets or get up and put on our boots (the only part of our clothing which is taken off upon retiring when scouting), roll up the blankets and stand the storm. We chose the latter, standing out taking the rain with mutterings of “hard times.” Eat our breakfast in the rain. Saddled up and left Camp at 6 A.M. in the rain. For four or five hours we rode in a cold and chilling rain, however it cleared up at last, when Old Sol came out in all its glory, making many a heart glad. …