Interesting From Fort Laramie

Source citation
“Interesting From Fort Laramie,” New York Times, 28 October 1857, p. 4.
Newspaper: Publication
New York Times
Newspaper: Headline
Interesting From Fort Laramie
Newspaper: Page(s)
Date Certainty
Don Sailer
Transcription date
The following text is presented here in complete form, as true to the original written document as possible. Spelling and other typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

Progress of the Utah Expedition – Supplies on the Road – Magraw’s Wagon-Road Expedition – The Affair with the Cheyenne Indians at Ash Hollow, &c.

From our own Correspondent.
Fort Laramie, N. T., Saturday, Sept. 19, 1857.

The Utah expedition is making fine progress, the advance being by this time within 300 miles of Salt Lake City. The following items concerning its movements will, no doubt, be found interesting:
On the 5th of September the advance, consisting of eight companies of the 10th Infantry, numbering some 600 men, in command of Col. ALEXANDER, left this Fort, having rested here three days. Capt. PHELPS’ battery of artillery, 6 pieces of cannon, and about 60 men, followed after on the 6th instant. The 5th Regiment of Infantry, 10 companies, numbering some 400 men, under Col. WAITE, left on the 8th instant, and Capt. RENO’S battery, 6 pieces of cannon and about 50 men, started on the 10th instant.
Besides these companies which have already passed, two companies of the 10th Infantry, numbering some 75 men each, under Lieut. Col. C. F. SMITH, left Fort Kearney on the 8th inst, to join and complete their regiment, and the whole of Col. SUMNER’S command, consisting of four companies of the 6th Infantry and four of the 1st Cavalry are now under orders to join forces for Utah.
It is, however, too late for these last-named companies, which have been out all Summer on a campaign against the Cheyenne Indians, to recruit and refit for a start before Spring.
The 2d Regiment of Dragoons is also ordered to Utah, but it is generally believed that their presence will be required in Kansas Territory, and they will remain there next Winter.
The whole military force, therefore, which may be expected to pass the coming Winter in Utah Territory will probably not exceed 1,500 men.
The troops are to concentrate on Green River, 168 miles east of Salt Lake City, and there wait the arrival of the General in command of the Expedition before crossing the mountains. The supply trains will also stop at this point and allow the troops to pass on in advance.
Messrs. RUSSELL and WADDELL, contractors for transporting the Government supplies, have now on the road to Salt Lake City, 338 ox wagons, drawn by six yoke of cattle, and containing 6,000 lbs. each; of these nine trains, or 234 wagons, have passed this post since Aug. 7.
Capt. VAN VLIET, Quartermaster for the Expedition, left here on the 23d of August with intention of going immediately to Salt Lake City to prepare quarters for the troops. He took with him 9 wagons and an escort of 40 men, and if he met with no opposition is probably there long ere this.
C. A. PARRY & Co., suttlers for the 10th Infantry, have now on the road three trains; the first, numbering 17 wagons loaded 4,000 to 4,500 lbs. each – H. C. BRANCH wagon-master – passed here yesterday evening; the second, numbering 23 wagons, 3,000 lbs. each, THOS. PITT wagon-master, is expected here tomorrow; the third, numbering 16 wagons, 4,000 lbs. each, Mr. KITCHEN wagon-master, is yet some 60 miles back. Messrs. RADFORD and CABOT, suttlers for the 5th Infantry, have a train on the road, numbering 33 wagons, laded with some 5,500 lbs. each. It passed the Cottonwood Spring, 80 miles west of Fort Kearney, on the 8th inst.
The train of Messrs. LIVINGSTON, KINREAD & Co., Salt Lake merchants, numbering fifty wagons, 4,000 lbs. each, J. INWIN wagon-master, passed here on the 15th inst., and Messrs. GILBERT & GERRISH, also old-established Salt Lake merchants, have a train on the road of 23 wagons, 5,000 lbs. each, P. H. James, wagon-master, which is yet below this point.
Late advices received here from above state that the trains between here and Salt Lake City are seriously embarrassed by a disease among the cattle, reported to be the bloody murrain. The cattle in some of the trains are dying very rapidly. In consequence of the drouth last Summer, the grass is very poor and scarce above, and these causes may prevent some of the trains from reaching Salt Lake Valley this Fall.
The main body of MAGRAW’S Wagon Road Expedition passed here on the 5th inst., and is making rapid progress. The party will probably winter at Fort Hall, in Oregon.
Mr. GOODWIN arrived here yesterday evening in charge of one of RUSSELL and WADDELL’S freight trains. Mr. G. gives the following account of the attack made upon his train by the Cheyenne Indians at Ash Hollow:
On Saturday, the 5th inst., the train, numbering twenty-six wagons, was attacked by a band of from 150 to 200 Indians on the ridge near Ash Hollow, between the North and South Platte Rivers. A feint was first made by them on the front of the train, and whilst the men were preparing for an attack from this quarter, the Indians suddenly fell upon the rear, cutting off five of the wagons, and killing three of the men. The remainder of the train was immediately “corralled,” thus forming a rude fortress. The Indians in the meantime commenced plundering the wagons, but the teamsters, armed with United States rifles, carrying Minnie balls, which formed a part of the loading of the train, fired upon them from their “corral,” and after killing one Indian and wounding two others, succeeded in putting the rest to fight. As soon as the Indians had retreated, four of the wagons were recovered, but the tongue of the remaining one being broken, it was abandoned. The names of the men who were killed are GEO. JOHNSON, GEO. NICHOLLAS and JOHN BURKE. The Indians carried off one case and a half of United States rifles, and a large quantity of ammunition. Fifty head of cattle were lost, and several wounded in the encounter.
The next day the train was compelled by the Indians to “corral” three times, but no attack was made. On the 6th inst., Mr. PERRY’S train, BRANCH wagon-master, reached the spot where the fight took place, and found the dead bodies of the three men horribly mutilated – one being scalped; the others with their noses and ears cut off. They buried the bodies, and not deeming it prudent to proceed further, returned to the crossing of the South Platte, to await the arrival of a train behind them for company.
Mr. DUSTIN, an expressman from Fort Kearney who reached here last Wednesday, reports having been chased by a party of Indians on the 5th inst., near Plum Creek. He, however, succeeded in reaching Messrs. RADFORD and CABOT’S train, with which he spent the night. The next day he started on, and was again surrounded by a party of Indians, who succeeded in stopping him, and robbed him of everything. While they were dividing the plunder, he jumped on his horse and made his escape from them.
Mr. MORELL, Postmaster for Salt Lake City, and Mr. BURE, Agent for the late Surveyor-General of Utah, reached here yesterday, on their way to Salt Lake City. They saw no Indians on the road, but, having mule teams, passed the more dangerous points in the night.
Chief-Justice ECXLES passed Fort Kearney, en route for Utah, on the 3d inst.
There are at present stationed here two companies, E and H, of the 2d Dragoons, and companies B and C of the 6th Infantry. Company C reached here the 17th inst. from the head waters of the Arkansas River, having been out on the expedition against the Cheyennes.

From the St. Louis Democrat, Oct. 26.

The steamer Minnehaha arrived last evening from the Missouri, having a large number of passengers bound to various eastern and southern points. Among the number we noticed Messrs. H. K. NICKOLLS and E. G. REHRER, who are direct from Utah. They were the engineers of MAGRAW’S wagon train, which they accompanied to Pacific Springs, in Utah Territory. Messrs. NICKOLLS and REHRER turned their faces towards the States on the 7th day of September. They believe that the train will pass the winter at Fort Laramie.
They state that the cattle of the Government trains, en route for Utah, were dying fast, and it is believed the trains will encounter great suffering through the Winter.
Col. JOHNSTON, head officer of the transport service, with nineteen light wagons, was met. He was traveling rapidly, at the rate of sixty miles per day. The mules were breaking down. Numbers of them were dropping on the way, worn down and rendered useless by the extraordinary labor they had been compelled to undergo.
Grass was very scarce on the Plains.
Col. BOFFMAN, commanding officer at Fort Laramie, denies emphatically a report published in some paper that he had stopped, and caused to be overhauled and rudely treated a Mormon train. He denounces the report as utterly false.

Late and Important from Utah.
From the St. Louis Republican.

Captain VAN VLIET, Assistant Quarter-Master United States army, arrived in this city last evening, direct from the Territory of Utah, having left Great Salt Lake City on the 14th alt.
We understand that the Mormons are determined not to allow the United States troops to enter Salt Lake Valley, and will use force to prevent them if necessary. They look upon the present movement of the Government as only the renewal of the persecutions which they complain of having endured in this State and Illinois, and are determined to resist it at the outset. Captain VAN VLIET met the troops the 22d of September, on the Sweet Water, some two hundred and thirty miles beyond Fort Laramie. They were all well and in good spirits. Some of the supply trains were at Harris Fork, one hundred and forty-three miles this side of the Valley, while others were far behind, and it is very doubtful if they can enter the Salt Lake Valley this season.
Col. JOHNSON, with his escort, was met on the 1st of October, ninety miles this side of Fort Laramie, and determined to enter the Valley of Salt Lake this Fall. Gov. CUMMING and Secretary HARTNETT were met on the 6th of this month ninety miles beyond fort Kearny, all well. A heavy snow fell at Fort Bridger on the 15th of September.
Capt. VAN VLIET has made an extraordinary trip, having traveled over 2,400 miles by land since the 1st of August. He leaves for Washington to-day.
We hear that Capt. VAN VLIET passed a week in Great Salt Lake City. He was treated with much consideration and invited to partake of the hospitalities of the leading men of the city. But on all occasions, and from every quarter, he heard only one expression of opinion–and that was, that they never would permit United States troops or the officers appointed by the United States Government to get a foothold in their dominions. In all their public declarations and in their private conversations this sentiment is boldly avowed:–they will never suffer the troops to enter the city, and if they do it will be after the town has been committed to the flames, the Territory around it laid waste, and all the inhabitants have fled to the mountains. Their fanaticism knows no bounds; they believe BRIGHAM YOUNG to be the appointed agent of the Lord, and whatever he com-commands them to do they will perform with alacrity. They say that they have provisions sufficient to last them for three or four years, and that persecuted as they have been and are, by the Americans, they will resist to the last extremity.

These statements being true, as they undoubtedly are, the Government will have to make levies of new men, and to dispatch heavy reinforcements to the army in Utah next Spring.
Dr. BERNHIEEL , Delegate from Congress to Utah, arrived in Company with Capt. VAN VLIET.

How to Cite This Page: "Interesting From Fort Laramie," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,