Dodge's Expedition.A squadron of dragoons, consisting of 37 men under Capt. Ford, 40 men under Capt. Duncan, and 40 men under Lieut. Lupton, all commanded by Col. Henry Dodge, was sent to the Rocky mountains in 1835 to hold councils with the Indian tribes and to look after the interests of the United States on what was then the Mexican border. A large supply train of wagons was taken along, and in addition two swivels with which to impress the savages. Capt. Gantt was guide to the expedition. They left Fort Leavenworth on May 29, 1835, accompanied by Maj. Dougherty, Indian agent to the Pawnees, and marched up the valley of the Missouri. The route through Kansas can best be described by quoting from Col. Dodge's journal of the expedition:
"Commenced the march in a direction N. W. over a high rolling prairie, with frequent ravines, skirted with timber. Marched 15 miles, and encamped on a small creek. Commenced raining during the night, and continued during the whole of the next day, so as to prevent our marching. May 31Commenced the march in a direction N. 20 degrees W. over a rough, broken country; crossed several small creeks skirted with timber, with flats or bottoms of considerable extent, the soil of which was very fertile. March 17 miles and encamped on Independence creek. June 1Marched 25 miles, and June 2d, 12 miles, in a direction N. 30 degrees W. and arrived at the Big Nemahaw. The general face of the country passed over was that of a high rolling prairie, in some places rough and hilly, with numerous small creeks and ravines, most of which were skirted with timber of a low growth; the soil generally fertile, especially in the valleys of the small creeks. . . . The country between Fort Leavenworth and the Big Nemahaw belongs to the Kickapoo Indians; it is sufficiently large and well adapted to afford them all the necessities, and many of the luxuries of life. There is a sufficient quantity of timber for fuel and for building purposes. The soil is fertile, and will produce all sorts of grain; the pasturage good, and large numbers of cattle could be raised with but little labor. As the game is becoming very scarce they will necessarily be obliged to depend upon the cultivation of the soil for their future sustenance."
The expedition reached a point a few miles from the mouth of the Platte river of Nebraska on June 9. A march of 7 or 8 miles further brought the party to the Otoe Indian village, where, on June 11, was held a council with the Otoes, of whom Ju-tan, or I-e-tan, was head chief. Here, also, the Omahas were brought by messengers, and a council was held with them on the 17th, Big Elk being the principal chief present. At all the councils presents were distributed. The expedition then marched up the Platte to the Pawnee villages about 80 miles distant, where another council was held the 23d, Angry Man being principal chief of the Grand Pawnees, Axe of the Pawnee Loups, Little Chief of the Pawnee Tappeiges, and Mole on the Face of the Republican Pawnees. Departing on the 24th, the expedition reached the lower extremity of Grand Island the following day. When well up the Platte a council was held on July with the Arickarees, the chiefs present being Bloody Hand, Two Bulls and Star or Big Head. This council was held near the falls of the Platte. At this time, immense herds of Buffalo surrounded the expedition.
On the 15th the Rocky mountains were seen for the first time by the expedition, which was now well up the south fork. On the 18th they passed the mouth of Cache de Ia Poudre river, and on the 24th reached the point where the Platte emerges from the mountatins.[sic] After this date the expedition marched southeast, and on July 26, arrived at the divide between the Platte and the Arkansas. Passing down Boiling Springs creek and the Arkansas, they reached Bent's fort on Aug. 6. Near this noted place, councils were held with the Arapahoes, Cheyennes, Blackfeet, Gros Ventres and others. Leaving Bent's fort on Aug. 12, they moved down the Arkansas, holding councils with the Comanches, Kiowas and others, arriving on the 17th at Chouteau's island. On the 23d they arrived at the point where the Santa Fe trail crossed the Arkansas river, and upon the following day they took up their line of march along this trail.
Quoting again from the journal of the expedition: "On the 11th [of September] a man of Company 'A' died, the first death that has occurred on our whole march, and the only severe sickness. The colonel directed him to be buried on a high prairie ridge, and a stone placed at the head of the grave, with his name and regiment engraved thereon. Continued the march; crossed the Hundred-and-ten-mile creek, and entered upon the dividing ridge between the Kansas and Osage rivers; passed Round and Elm groves, and arrived at the crossing of the Kanzas, at Dunlap's ferry, on the 15th; crossed the river, and, on the 16th, arrived at Fort Leavenworth. Since leaving the fort, the command had marched upwards of 1,600 miles, over an interesting country; had visited all the Indians between the Arkansas and Platte, as far west as the mountains; had made peace between several tribes, and established friendly relations with them all, and returned to Fort Leavenworth in a perfect state of health, with the loss of but one man. Our provisions lasted until the day of our arrival; and our horses, most of them, returned in good order. The expedition had exceeded, in interest and success, the most sanguine anticipations."Pages 525-526 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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