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found the country all prairie, except small copses of wood, cedar, cotton wood, or musketo, amongst which a stick six inches in diameter could not be found ; the surface becoming more and more light, sandy and hilly, with hedges of clifts of a greyish sandy rock, but every where covered with her. bage. We found many small streams falling into the river, but none of any considerable size, or that discharged much water in dry seasons, but many deep gullies formed by the rain water. After travelling for several days over a country of this description, the country became more broken, the hills rising into mountains, amongst which we saw a great deal of rock salt, and an ore the Indians said was my (meaning the white people's) treasure, waich I afterwards learned was silver. And that amongst these mountains of mines, we often heard a noise like the explosion of a cannon, or distant thunder, which the Indians said was the spirit of the white people working in their treasure, which, I afterwards was informed, was the blowing of the inines, as it is called, which is common in all parts of Spanish America where mines exist. The main branch of the river becoming smaller, till it divided into almost innumerable strcams that issued out of the vallies amongst these mountains; the soil very light and sandy, of a reddish grey colour. We travelled on from the top of one mountain to the top of another, in hopes the one we were ascending was always the last, till the small streams we met with ran the contrary way, towards the setting sun, and the lands declining that way. We continued on till the streams enlarged into a river of considerable size, and the country became level, well timbered, the soil a rich black loam ; the waters were all clear and well tasted. Here we found a great many different tribes of the Hietan, Appaches and Concee Indians ; we likewise fell in with them frequently from the time we had been a few days out from the Panis tuwas, and were always treated kindly by them. I believe the distance from the Panis old towns to where we saw the last of Red river water, is at least one hundred leagues ; and in crossing over the ridge, we saw no animals that were not common in all the country of Louisiana, except the spotted tyger, and a few witte bears. After spending some days on the western waters, we sat off for the settlements of St. a Fé ; steering nearly a south east course, and in a few days were out of the timbered country into prairie; the country became broken and hilly; the waters all running westwardly; the country cioathed with a luxuriant herbage, and frequently passing mines of silver ore. We arrived, at length, at a sinall, meanly built town in the St. a Fé settlement, containing about one hundred houses, round which were some small, cultivated fields, fenced round with small celer and musketo brush, wattled in stakes. This little town was on a small streun of water that ran westwardly, and in a dry season scarcely run at all, and, that the inhabitants were obliged to water their cattle from walls. And I understood that the bayau upon which this town is situated, was no part of Rio Grancli, but fell into the western ocean ; but of that I might have been inistaken. I understood that similar small towns, or missions, were within certain distances of each other for a great extent southwardly, towards Mexico; and that the inhabitants were mostly christianised Indians and Matifts. That the mines in that settlement afforded very rich ore, which was taken away in large quantities, packed on mules, and had the same appearance of what we met with about the head branches of Red river. After furnishing ourselves with horses at this place, we sat oft' again for the Panis towns, from whence we started, steering at first southwardly, in order to avoid a high, mountainous country that is difficult to cross, that lies be. tween St. a Fe and Red river. After travelling some distance south, we turned our course northeastwardly, and arrived at the Panis towns in eighteen days from the day we left St. a Fe settlements; and three months and twentv days from the time we started.”
He is of the opinion that from the Panis towns to St, a Fe, in a right line, is nearly three hundred miles, and all the country prairie, a few scattering cedar knobs excepted. After he had finished his narrative, I asked him how
far Red river was boatable. He said, not much above the Panis old towns ; not that he knew of any particular falls or obstructions, but that the head branches of the river came from steep mountains, on which the rain often poured down in torrents, and runs into the river with such velocity, sweeping along with it large quantities of loose earth, of which these hills and mountains are composed: that it rolls like a swell in the sea, and would either sink or carry along with it any boat that it might meet in the river. But, he observed at the same time, that his opinion was founded on no experiment that he had ever known made. I asked him if the Indians bad no perogues high up in the river. He told me, that the Indians there knew nothing of the use of them, for instead of there being for hundreds of miles a tree large enough for a canoe, one could scarcely be found large enough to make a fowl trough. I asked him what animals were found in the Great prairies. He told me, from Blue river, upwards, on both sides of Red river. there were innumerable quantities of wild horses, buffaloe, bears, wolves, elk, deer, foxes, sangliers or wild hogs, antelope, white hares, rabbits, &c. and on the mountains the spotted tyger, panther, and wild cat. He farther told me, that about 23 years ago, he was employed by the governour of St. Antoine, to go from that place into some of the Indian nations that lived towards St. a Fe, who were at war with the Spaniards, to try to make a peace with them, and bring in some of the chiefs to St. Antoine. He sat off from that place with a party of soldiers, and was to have gone to St. a Fe ; they passed on a north westwardly course for about 200 miles, but after getting into the Great Prairie, being a dry season, they were forced to turn back for want of water for themselves and horses, and that he does not know how near he went to St. a Fe, but believes he might have been half way.
The accounts given by Mr. Brevel, Mr. Grappe, and all other hunters with whom I have conversed, of the immense droves of animals that, at the beginning of winter, descend from the mountains down southwardly, into the timbered country, is almost incredible. They say the buffaloe and bear par. ticularly, are in droves of many thousands together, that blacken the whole surface of the earth, and continue passing, without intermission, for weeks together, so that the whole surface of the country is, for many miles in breadth, trodden like a large road.
I am, sir, &c. &c. (Signed)
JOHN SIBLEY. Natchitoches, 10th April, 1805.
Distances up Red river, by the course of the river.
From the mouth of Red river to Black river,
to Baker's landing, lower end Avoyal
. . . . .
pine bluff, right side,
To which may be added for so much the distance being shortened by
going through lake Bistino, than the course of the river,
1,831 Computed length of Red river from where it falls into the Mississippi,
to which add the distance from the mouth of Red river to the ocean, by either the Mississippi, or the Cheffeli, which was once probably the mouth of Red river, · · · · · ·
Total length of Red river, . . . . . miles 2,151
OBSERVATIONS Made in a voyage commencing at St. Catharine's landing, on the east
bank of the Mississippi, proceeding downwards to the mouth of Red river, and from thence ascending that river, the Black river, and the Washita river, as high as the hot springs in the proximity of the last mentioned river; extracted from the Journals of William Dunbar, Esq. and Doctor Hunter.
MR. DUNBAR, Doctor Hunter, and the party emploved by the United States to make a survey of, and explore the country traversed by the Washita river, left St. Catharine's landing, on the Mississippi, in latitude 31°. 26'. 30". N. and longitude 6h. 51. 56". W. froin the meridian of Greenwich, on Tuesday the 16th of October, 1804. A little distance below St. Catharine's creek, and 5 leagues from Natches, they passed the White Cliffs, composed chiefly of sand, surmounted by pine, and from 100 to 200 feet higir. When thie waters of the Mississippi are low, the base of the cliff is uncovered, which consists of different coloured clays, and some beds of ochre, over which there lies, in some places, a thin lamina of iron ore. Small springs possess. ing a petrifying quality flow over the clay and ochre, and numerous lugs and pieces of timber, converted into stone, are strewed about the beach. Fine pure argil of various colours, chiefly white and red, is found here.
On the 17th they arrived at the mouth of Red river, the confluence of which with the Mississippi, agreeably to the observations of Mr. de Ferrer, lies in latitude 31o. 1. 151. N. and longitude Ch.71.11". W of Greenwich. Red river is here about 500 yards wide, and without any sensible current. The banks of the river are clothed with willow; the land low and subject to inundation, to the height of 30 feet or more above the level of the water at this time. The mouth of the Red river is accounted to be 75 leagues from New-Orleans, and 3 milesdigher up than the Chafalava, or Opelousa river, which was probably a continuation of the Red river when its waters did not unite with those of the Mississippi but during the inunciation.
On the 18th the survey of the Red river was commenced, and on the evening of the 19th the party arrived at the mouth of the Black river, in latitude 31o. 154. 48". N. and about 26 miles from the Mississippi. The Red river derives its name from the rich fat earth, or marle, of that colour, borne down by the floods; the last of which appeared to have deposited on the high bank a stratum of upwards of half an inch in thickness. The vegetation on its banks is surprisingly luxuriant ; no doubt owing to the deposition of marle during its annual foods. The willows grow to a good size ; but other forest trees are much smaller than those seen on the banks of the Mississippi. As you advance up the river, it gradually narrows ; in latitude 310. 08. N. it is about 200 yards wide, which width is continued to the mouth of Black river, where each of them appears 150 yards across. The banks of the river are covered with pea vine and several sorts of grass, bearing seed, which geese and ducks eat very greedily ; and there are generally seen willows growing on one side, and on the other a small growth of black oak, packawn, hickory, elm, &c. The current in the Red river is so moderate as scarcely to afford an impediment to its ascent.
On sounding the Black river a little above its mouth, there was found 20 feet of water, with a bottom of black sand. The water of Black river is rather clearer than that of the Ohio, and of a warm temperature, which it may receive from the water flowing into it from the valley of the Mississippi, particularly by the Catahoola. At noon on the 23d, by a good meridian ob
Vol. III. Appendix.
servation, they ascertained their latitude to be 360 36'. 29. N. and were thies a little below the mouths of the Catahoola, Washita and Bayau Tenza, tha united waters of which form the Black river. The current is very gentle the whole length of the Black river, which in many places does not exceed 80 yards in width. The banks on the lower part of the river present a greä luxuriance of vegetation and rank grass, with red and black oak, esh, packu Wai, hickory, and some elms.* The soil is black marle, mixed with a moderate proportion of sand, resembling much the soil on the Mississipp banks ; yet the forest trees are not lofty, like those on the margin of the great river, but resembling the growth on the Red river. In latitude 310 2.'. 4C". N. they observed that canes grew on several parts of the right bank, a proof that the land is not deeply overflowed; perhaps from one to three feet : the banks have the appearance of stability ; very little willow, or other productions of a newly formed soil being seen on either side. On advancing up the river, the timber becomes larger, in some places rising to the heigtit of 49 feet; yet the land is liable to be inundated, not from the waters of this small river, but from the intrusion of its more powerful neighbour the Mississippi. The lands decline rapidly, as in all alluvial countries, from the margin to the Cypress swamps, where more or less water stagnates all the year round. On the 21st they passed a small, but elevated island, said to be the only one in this river for more than 100 leagues ascending. On the left bank, near this island, a small settlement of a couple of acres has been begun by a man and his wife. The banks are not less than 40 feet above the present level of the water in the river, and are but rarely overflowed : on both sides they are clothed with rich cane brake, pierced by creeks fit to carry boats during the inundation.
They saw many cormorants, and the hooping crane ; geese and ducks an not yet abundant, but are said to arrive in myriads with the rains and winter's cold. They shot a fowl of the duck kind, whose foot was partially divided, and the body covered with a bluish or lead coloured plumage. On the morning of the twenty-second, they observed green matter floating on the river, supposed to come from the Catahoola and other lakes and bayaus of stagnant water, which, when raised a little by rain, flow into the Black river ; and also many patches of an aquatic plant, resembling small islands, some floating on the surface of the river, and others adhering to, or resting on the shore and logs. On examining this plant, it was found a hollow, jointed stem, with roots of the same form, extremely light, with very nar. row willow shaped leaves projecting from the joint, embracing however, the whole of the tube, and extending to the next inferior joint or knot. The extremity of each branch is terminated by a spike of very slender, narrow seminal leaves from one to two inches in length, and one tenth, or less, in breadth, producing its seed on the underside of the leaf, in a double row almost in contact : the grains alternately placed in perfect regularity: not be ing able to find the flower, its class and order could not be detertainer, al. though it is not probably new. Towards the upper part of the Black river, the shore abounded with muscles and periwinkles. The muscles were of the kind called pearl muscles. The men dressed a quantity of them, considering them as an agreeable food ; but Mr. D. found them tough and unpalatable.
• Among the plants growing on the margin of the river is the cheria root, used in medicine. and the cantac, occasionally used by the hunters for food; the last has a bulbous root, ten times the size of a man's fist. In preparing it, they first wash it clean from the earth, thea pound it well, and add water to the inass and stir it up; after a moment's settlement the water and fecula is poured off: this operation is repeated until it yields no more fecola, the fibrous part only being left, which is thrown away as useless : the water is then poured from the scdiment, which is dried in the sun, and will keep a long time. It is reduced into powder and mixed with Indian meal or flour, and makes wholesome and agreeable food. The labour's perforined by the women whilst they are keeping the camp, and their husbands are in the woods hunting.