Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Sheridan part 3 Wilderness

In November, 1854, I received my promotion to a second lieutenancy in the Fourth Infantry, which was stationed in California and Oregon. In order to join my company at Fort Reading, California, I had to go to New York as a starting point, and on arrival there, was placed on duty, in May, 1855, in command of a detachment of recruits at Bedloe's Island, above fixed bayonet us cavalry 1850 .on sale unpaintedintended for assignment to the regiments on the Pacific coast. I think there were on the island (now occupied by the statue of Liberty Enlightening the World) about three hundred recruits. For a time I was the only officer with them, but shortly before we started for California, Lieutenant Francis H. Bates, of the Fourth Infantry, was placed in command. We embarked for the Pacific coast in July, 1855, and made the journey without incident via the Isthmus of Panama, in due time landing our men at Benecia Barracks, above San Francisco.
From this point I proceeded to join my company at Fort Reading, and on reaching that post, found orders directing me to relieve Lieutenant John B. Hood—afterward well known as a distinguished general in the Confederate service. Lieutenant Hood was in command of the personal mounted escort of Lieutenant R. S. Williamson, who was charged with the duty of making such explorations and surveys as would determine the practicability of connecting, by railroad, the Sacramento Valley in California with the Columbia River in Oregon Territory, either through the Willamette Valley, or (if this route should prove to be impracticable) by the valley of the Des Chutes River near the foot-slopes of the Cascade chain. The survey was being made in accordance with an act of Congress, which provided both for ascertaining the must practicable and economical route for a railroad between the Mississippi River and the Pacific Ocean, and for military and geographical surveys west of the Mississippi River.
Fort Reading was the starting-point for this exploring expedition, All that's left is a monument telling us where and what it was beside McArthur Road near Soldier Mountain Road in Glenburn. It was built in 1857 when Fort Reading was abandoned and dismantled and all the military equipment and supplies were taken from Fort Reading to Fort Crook. It was named for Lt. George Crook who helped establish it, was stationed at it, and who later became a legendary general famous for capturing Geronimo. It was established to control hostile Indians, and to protect freighters, settlers, emigrants and travelers on the nearby Emigrant Road. The fort boundaries were..The fort boundaries were one mile in all directions from a living pine tree flagpole located inside the fort walls whose branches were cut off close to the trunk and used as a ladder to get to the flag that flew in the breeze on top. The fort contained 28 structures and/or small log buildings used as officers' quarters, a hospital, mess hall, blacksmith shop, store, guardhouse, library, bowling alley, and a stable for 200 horses and mules. Between 50 and 150 soldiers lived at the fort. The fort was officially abandoned in 1869 and all the soldiers were withdrawn and sent to Surprise Valley. Only one log building survives and is now located at Fort Crook Museum in nearby Fall River Mills. Nearby Fort Mountain and Soldier Mountain were named for the fort and the soldiers. 

and there I arrived some four or five days after the party under Lieutenant Williamson had begun its march. His personal escort numbered about sixty mounted men, made up of detachments from companies of the First Dragoons, under command of Lieutenant Hood, together with about one hundred men belonging to the Fourth Infantry and Third Artillery, commanded by Lieutenant Horatio Gates Gibson, the present colonel of the Third United States Artillery. Lieutenant George Crook—now major-general—was the quartermaster and commissary of subsistence of the expedition.
The commanding officer at Fort Reading seemed reluctant to let me go on to relieve Lieutenant Hood, as the country to be passed over was infested by the Pit River Indians, known to be hostile to white people and especially to small parties. I was very anxious to proceed, however, and willing to take the chances; so, consent being finally obtained, I started with a corporal and two mounted men, through a wild and uninhabited region, to overtake if possible Lieutenant Williamson. Being on horseback, and unencumbered by luggage of any kind except blankets and a little hard bread, coffee and smoking-tobacco, which were all carried on our riding animals, we were sanguine of succeeding, for we traversed in one day fully the distance made in three by Lieutenant Williamson's party on foot.
The first day we reached the base of eLassan's Butt, where I determined to spend the night near an isolated cabin, or dugout, that had been recently constructed by a hardy pioneer. The wind was blowing a disagreeable gale, which had begun early in the day. This made it desirable to locate our camp under the best cover we could find, and I spent some little time in looking about for a satisfactory place, but nothing better offered than a large fallen tree, which lay in such a direction that by encamping on its lee side we would be protected from the fury of the storm. This spot was therefore fixed upon, and preparation made for spending the night as comfortably as the circumstances would permit.

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