Long's Expedition.An important expedition was sent up the Missouri river in 1819 under Maj. Stephen H. Long of the topographical engineers by order of the war department for the purpose of thoroughly examining the country, conciliating the Indians and otherwise benefiting the government. A steamboat built near Pittsburgh, called the Western Engineer, was well loaded with supplies of provisions and presents for the Indians and despatched down the Ohio, reaching the Mississippi about June 1. After a few days at St. Louis the expedition started up the Missouri. On July 5 the village of Cote Sans Dessieu was reached, on the 13th Franklin, on the 22nd Chariton, and on Aug. 1 Fort Osage, where a detachment under Thomas Say left the boat, and entering what is now the State of Kansas about 3 miles south of the Kansas river, marched across the country to the Kansas villages. On Aug. 16 they camped where Topeka now stands, and on the 19th arrived at the Kansas village at the mouth of the Big Blue at Manhattan. Say's intention was to visit the Pawnee villages, but being robbed of his horses and camp equipage he was forced to return to the Kansas village, from which point he struck across the country, northeast, and caught the boat near the mouth of Wolf river.
On the "Western Engineer" was Maj. Benjamin O'Fallon, the Indian agent for the government, on his way up the river to hold peace treaties with the various Indian tribes and punish them for their many misdemeanors of the recent past. On the Missouri, a short distance above the mouth of the Kansas, was an encampment of white hunters, a number of whom had fled from the vengeance of the law farther to the east. They were little less wild than the savages themselves, and were shunned by the honest trappers. Near Diamond island, about 5 miles above the mouth of the Little Platte, was noticed the ruin of an old French fortification or stockade. Below Independence creek were the old Kansas villages on the west side of the Missouri. At this place they found Capt. Martin with three companies of riflemen, who had left St. Louis in Sept., 1818, and arrived in October at Isle au Vache, where he had since remained, nearly all the time without provisions, his men subsisting almost wholly on the game which they killed. They were given a plentiful supply of provisions from the boat.
It was decided to hold a council here with the various Indian tribes, and accordingly messengers were sent to their villages inviting them to send delegates to the meeting to be held at Isle au Vache on Aug. 24. There came 161 members of the Kansas tribe and 13 of the Osage. They were sharply taken to task for their many offenses against the whites by Maj. O'Fallon, but they promised in the most abject manner possible to be "good Indians" ever afterward, and thereupon were given valuable presents of cloth, tools, trinkets, weapons and ammunition. As the steamboat was short of men Lieut. Fields and 15 men were taken on here to assist in going up the stream. On Sept. 1 they were near the mouth of Wolf river, and here they were overtaken by the party under Say, which had been driven hack by the Pawnees, as before related. On Oct. 3 a council was held with the Otoes and Iowas, all of whom promised submission to the government and were given valuable presents.
Then in succession came councils with the Osages, Kansas, Pawnee Loups, Republican Pawnees, Grand Pawnees, Poncas, Omahas, Sioux, Padoucas, Bald Heads, Ietans or Comanches, Sauks, Foxes and Iowas. The ceremony was usually introduced by the "beggar's dance," where all the Indians gathered around a post and in turn advanced and struck it, at the same time recounting their most notable achievements as warriors. Maj. Long had returned to Washington in October and the proceedings were conducted by Maj. O'Fallon.
The party wintered near Council Bluffs, and on June 6 of the following year Maj. Long, having returned from Washington, sent the boat back to St. Louis and started at the head of a party to explore the valleys of the Platte, Arkansas and Red rivers. Following the course of the south fork of the Platte to near its source in the Rocky mountains, and having pursued his discoveries there as far as his instructions warranted, Maj. Long separated his command into two divisions, one of 15 men under Capt. Bell to descend the Arkansas, and the other of about 10 men under Long himself, to go south to the Red river and descend that stream. Both parties started July 24, 1820, from near Wharf creek, one of the upper branches of the Arkansas. That under Long struck nearly due south, expecting to reach the upper branches of the Red before turning to the east, but struck the Canadian fork of the Arkansas on the 28th, and, mistaking it for a branch of the Red, descended it until on Sept. 10 the party reached the mouth of the Arkansas, where for the first time Long learned of his mistake.
After various stirring experiences with Indians, and after suffering severely for want of food, the party under Capt. Bell arrived in due time at Fort Smith, where it was joined by that under Maj. Long a few days later. An expedition to the village of the Osages was then projected. At that time the Osage tribe was divided into three branches, one on the Verdigris, another on the Osage and a third on the Neosho. The expedition left on Sept. 21, and, visiting these bands, arrived in due season at their predetermined destinationSt. Genevieve, Mo. Capt. Kearney and two other persons passed by way of Hot Springs, Ark.Pages 185-186 from volume II 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 July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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