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: On arriving at the mouth of the Catahoola, they landed to procure infor. mation from a Frenchman settled there. Having a grant from the Spanish government, he has made a small settlement, and kecps a ferry-boat for carrying over men and horses travelling to and from Natchez, and the settlements on Red river and on the Washita river. The country here is all alluvial. In process of time, the rivers shutting up ancient passages and elevating the banks over which their waters pass, no longer communicate with the same facility as formerly ; the consequence is, that mitny larget tracts formerly subject to inundation, are now entirely exempt from tha inconvenience. Such is the situation of a most valuable tract upon which this Frenchman is settled. His house stands on an Indian mount, with several others in view. There is also a species of rampart surrounding this place, and one very elevated mount, a view and description of which is postponed till they return ; their present situation not allowing of the re. quisite delay. The soil is equal to the best Mississippi bottoms.*
They obtained from the French settler the following list of distances be. tween the mouth of the Red river and the post on the Washita, called fort Miro.
From the mouth of Red river to the mouth of Black river 10 leagues.
• • • •
Leagues, 91 From this place they proceeded to the mouth of Washita, in lat. 35° 37! 7" N. and encamped on the evening of the 23d.
This river derives its appellation from the name of an Indian tribe for. merly resident on its banks ; the remnant of which, it is said, went into the great plains to the westward, and either compose a small tribe themselves, or are incorporated into another nation, The Black river loses its name at the junction of the Washita, Cataboola, and Tenza, although our maps represent it as taken place of the Washita. The Tenza and Catahoola are al. so named from Indian tribes now extinct. The latter is a creek twelve leagues long, which is the issue of a lake of the same name, eight leagues in length and about two leagues in breadth. It lies west from the mouth of the Catahoola, and communicates with the Red river during the great an, nual inundation. At the west or north-west angle of the lake, a creek call, ed Little river, enters, which preserves a channel with running water at all seasons, meandering along the bed of the lake ; but in all other parts its
# There is an cmbankment running from the Catahoola to Black river (inclosing about two hundred acres of rich land), at present about ten feet high, and ten feet broad. This surrounds four large moueds of earth at the dittance of a bow.shot from each other : each of which may be twenty feet high, one hundred feet broad, and three hundred feet long at the top, besides a ftupendous turret fituate on the back part of the whole, or fartheft from the water, whose bale covers about an acre of ground, rifing by two ftepe or ftories tapering in the ascent, the whole surmounted by a great cone with its top cut off. This tower of earth on adaicasurement was found to be cighty feet perpendicular.
superfices, during the dry season from July to November, and often later, is completely drained, and becomes covered with the most luxurious ber. bage; the bed of the lake then becomes the residence of immense bends of deer, of turkeys, geese, crane, &c. which feed on the grass and grain. Bayau Tenza serres only to drain off a part of the waters of the inunds. tion irom the low lands of the Mississippi, which here communicate with the Back river during the season of high water.
Between the mouth of the Washita and Villemont's prairie on the right, the current of the river is gentle, and the banks favourable for towing. The lands on both sides have the appearance of being above the inundation ; the timber generally such as high lands produce, being chiefly red, white and black oaks interspersed with a variety of other trees. The magno. lia grandiflora, that intallible sign of the land not being subject to inunda. tion, is not, however, among them. Along the banks a stratum of solid clay, or marle, is observable, apparently of an ancient deposition. It lies in oblique positions, making an angle of nearly thirty degrees with the horizon, and generally inclined with the descent of the river, although in a few cases the position was contrary, Timber is seen projecting from under the solid bank, which seems indurated, and unquestionably very ancient, presenting a very different appearance from recently formed soil. The ri. ver is about 80 yards wide. A league above the mouth of the Washita the bavau Ha-ha comes in unexpectedly from the right, and is one of the many passages through which the waters of the great inundation penetrate and permade all the low countries, annihilating, for a time, the currents of the lesser rivers in the neighbourhood of the Mississippi. The vegetation is remarkably vigorous along the alluvial banks which are covered with a thick shrabbery, and innumerable plants in full blossom at this late season.
Villemont's prairie is so named in consequence of its being included vitt. in a grant under the French government to a gentleman of that name. Many other parts on the Washita are named after their early proprietors. The French people projected and began extensive settlements on this river, but the general massacre planned, and in part executed by the Indians against them, and the consequent destruction of the Natchez tribe by the French, broke up all these undertakings and they were not recommenced under that government. Those pairies are plains, or savannas, without timber ; generally very fertile, and producing an exuberance of strong, thick and coarse herbage. When a piece of ground has once got into this state, in an indian country, it can have no opportunity of re-producing tinher, it being an invariable practice to set fire to the dry grass in the fall or winter, to obtain the advantage of attracting game when the young tender grass begins to spring : this destroys the young timber, and the prairie annually gains upon the wood-land. It is probable that the immense plains known to exist in America, may owe their origin to this custom. "The plains of the Washita lie chietiy on the east side, and being generally formed like the Mississippi land, sloping from the bank of the river to the great river, they are more or less subject to inundation in the rear ; and in cer. tain great foods the water has advanced so far as to be ready to pour over the margin into the Washita. This has now become a try rare thing, and it may he estimated that from a quarter of a mile to a mile in depth, will remain free from inundation during high floods. This is pretty much the case with those lands nearly as high as the post of the Washita, with the exception of crtain ridges of primitive high-land ; the rest being elidently alluvial, although not now subject to be inundated by the Washita river in consequence of the great depth which the bed of the river bas *.
quired by abrasion. On approaching toward the bayau Louis, which 'empties its waters into the Washita on the right, a little below the rapiris Here is a great deal of high land on both sides, which produces pine and
other timber not the growth of inundated lands. At the foot of the rapids' the navigation of the river is impeded by beds of gravel formed in it. The first rapids lie in latitude 31°. 48.57". 5 N. a little above which there is a high ridge of primitive earth, studded with abundance of fragments of rocks, or stone, which appears to have been thrown up to the surface in a very irregular manner. The stone is of a friable nature, some of it having the appearance of indurated clay ; the outside is blackish from exposure to the air, within it is a greyish white; it is said that in the hill the strata are regular and that good grindstones may be here obtained. The last of the ra. pids, which is formed by a ledge of rocks crossing the entire bed of the ri. ver, was passed in the evening of the 27th ; above it the water became again like a mill pond and about one hundred yards wide. The whole of these first shoals, or rapids, en;braced an extent of about a mile and a half ; the obstruction was not continued, but feit at short intervals in this dis. tance. On the right, about four leagues from the rapids, they passed the “ Bayau Aux Boeufs,” a little above a rocky hill : high lands and saranna is seen on the right. On sounding the river they found three fathoms water on a bottom of mud and sand. The banks of the river, above the bayau seem to retain very little alluvial soil ; the highland earth, which is a sandy loam of a light grey colour, with streaks of red sand and clay, is seen on the left bank ; the soil not rich, bearing pinęs, interspersed with red oak, hickory and dogwood. The river is from sixty to one hundred yards wide bere, but decreases as you advance. The next rapid is raade by a ledge of Qcks traversing the river, and narrowing the water channel to about thirty yards. The width between the high banks cannot be less than one hundred yards, and the banks from thirty to forty feet high. In latitude 30. 104. 13". rapids and shoals again occurred, and the channel was very narrow ; the sand bars at every point extended so far into the bend as to leave little more than the breadth of the boat of water sufficiently deep for her pas. sage, although it spreads over a width of seventy or eighty yards upon tho shoal.
In the afternoon of the 31st, they passed a little plantation or settlement on the right, and at night arrived at three others adjoining each other. These settlements are on a plain or prairie, the soil of which we may be assured is alluvial from the regular slope which the land has from the river. The bed of the river is now sufficiently deep to free them from the inconvenience of its inundation ; vet in the rear the waters of the Mississippi approach, and sometimes leave dry but a narrow stripe along the bank of the river. It is however now more common, that the extent of the fields cultivated (from to mile) remains dry during the season of inundation ; the soil here is very good, but not equal to the Mississippi bottoms ; it may be esteemed second rate. At a small distance to the east are extensive 'cypress swamps, over which the waters of the inundation always stand to the depth of from fifteen to twenty-five feet. On the west side, after passing over the valley of the river wbose breadth varies from a quarter of a mile to two miles, or more, the land assumes a considerable elevation, from one hundred to three hundred feet, and extends all along *o the settlements of the Red river. These high lands are reported to be poor, and badly watered, being chiefly what is termed pine barren. There is here a ferry and road of communication betwcen the post of the Washita, and the Natchez, and a fork of this road passes on to the settlement called the rapids, on Red river, distant from this place by computation one hundred and fifty miles.
On this part of the river lies a considerable tract of land granted by the Spanish government to the marquis of Maison Rouge, a French emigrant, who bequeathed it with all his property to M. Bouligny, son of the late colonel of the Louisiana regiment, and by lvim sold to Daniel Clarke. It is said to extend from the post of Washita with a breadth of two leagues, including the river, down to the bayau Calumet; the computed distance of
which along the river is called thirty leagues, but supposed not more than twelve in a direct line.
On the 6th of November, in the afternoon, the party arrived at the post of the Washita, in lat. 3.° 29' 37". 25 N. where they were politely received by lieut. Bowmar, who immediately offered the hospitality of his dwelling with all the services in his power.
From the ferry to this place the navigation of the river is, at this season, interrupted by many shoals and rapids. The general width is from eighty to a hundred yards. The water is extremely agreeable to drink, and much elearer than that of the Ohio. In this respect it is very unlike its two. heighbours, the Arkansa and Red rivers, wiose waters are loaded with earthy matters of a reddish brown color, giving to them a chocolate-like appearance ; and, when those waters are low, are not potable, being brackish from the great number of salt springs which flow into them, and probably from the beds of rock salt over which they may pass. The banks of the river presented very little appearance of alluvial land, but furnished an infinitude of beautiful landscapes, heightened by the vivid coloring they de. rive from the autumnal changes of the leaf. Mr. Dunbar observes, that the change of colour in the leaves of vegetables, which is probably accasion. ed by the oxygen of the atmosphere acting on the vegetable matter, deprived of the protecting power of the vital principle, may serve as an excellent guide to the naturalist who directs his attention to the discovery of new objects for the use of the dyer. For he has always remarked that the leaves of those trees whose bark or wood are known to produce a dye, are changed in autumn to the same color which is extracted in the dyers rat from the woods ; more especially by the use of mordants, as allum, &c. which yields oxygen : thus the foliage of the hickory, and oak, which produces the quercitron bark, is changed before its fall into a beautiful yellow; other oaks assume a fawn color, a liver color, or a blood color, and are known to yield dyes of the same complexion.
In lat. 32° 1& N. doct. Hunter discovered along the river side a substance nearly resembling mineral coal : its appearance was that of the carbonated wood described by Kirwan. It does not easily burn ; but on being applied to the flame of a candle, it sensibly increased it, and yielded a faint smell, resembling in a slight degree, that of the gum lac of common sealing wax.
Soft friable stone is common, and great quantities of gravel and sand, upon the beaches in this part of the river. A reddish clay appears in the strata, much indurated and blackened by exposure to the light and air.
The position called fort Miro being the property of a private person, who was formerly civil commandant here, the lieutenant has taken post about four hundred yards lower ; has built himself some log houses, and inclosed them with a slight stockade. Upon viewing the country cast of the river, it is evidently alluvial ; the surface has a gentle slope from the river to the rear of the plantations. The land is of excellent quality, being a rich black mould to the depth of a foot, under which there is a friable loam of a brownish liver colour.
At the post of the Washita, they procured a boat of less draught of wa. ter than the one in which they ascended the river thus far ; at noon, on the 11th of November, they proceeded on the voyage, and in the evening en. camped at the plantation of Baron Bastrop.
This small settlement on the Washita, and some of the creeks falling into it, contains not more than five hundred persons, of all ages and sexes. It is reported, however, that there is a great quantity of excellent land upon these creeks, and that the settlement is capable of great extension, and may be expected, with an accession of population, to become very flourishing. Theie are three merchants settled at the post, who supply, at very exorbitant prices, the inhabitants with their necessaries ; these, with the garrison, two small planters, and a tradesman or two, constitute the present village. A great proportion of the inhabitants continue the old practice of hunting, during the winter season, and they exchange their peltry for necessaries, with the merchants, at a low rate. During the summer these people content themselves with raising corn, barely sufficient for bread during the year. In this manner they always remain extremely poor , some few who have conquered that habit of indolence, which is always the consequence of the Indian mode of life, and attend to agriculture, live more comfortably, and taste a little the sweets of civilized life.
The lands along the river above the post, are not very inviting, being a thin poor soil, and covered with pine wood. To the right, the settlements on the bayau Barthelemi and Siard, are said to be rich land.
On the morning of the 13th, they passed an island and a strong rapid, and arrived at a little settlement below a chain of rocks, which cross the channel between an island and the main land, called Roque Raw. The Spaniard and his family, settled here, appear, from their indolence, to live miserably. The river acquires here a more spacious appearance, being about one hundred and fifty yards wide. In the afternoon they passed the bayau Barthelemi on the right, above the last settlements, and about twelve computed leagues from the post. Here commences Baron Bastrop's great grant of land from the Spanish government, being a square of twelve leagues on each side, a little exceeding a million of French acres. The banks of the river continue about thirty feet high, of which eighteen feet from the water are a clayey loam of a pale ash colour, upon which the water has deposited twelve feet of light sandy soil, apparently fertile, and of a dark brown color. This description of land is of small breadth, not exceeding half a mile on each side of the river, and may be called the valley of the Washita, beyond which there is high land covered with pines.
The soil of the “ Bayau des Buttes,” continues thin with a growth of small timber. This creek is named from a number of Indian mounts discovered by the hunters along its course. The margin of the river begins to be covered with such timber as usually grows on inundated land, particularly a species of white oak, vulgarly called the over-cup oak; its timber is remarkably hard, solid, ponderous and durable, and it produces a large acorn in great abundance, upon which the bear feeds, and which is very fattening to hogs.
In lat. 320 50 E" N. they passed a long and narrow island. The face of the country begins to change ; the banks are low and steep; the river deep. er and more contracted, from thirty to fifty yards in width. The soil in the neighborhood of the river is a very sandy loam, and covered with such ve. getables as are found on the inundated lands of the Mississippi. The tract presents the appearance of a new soil, very different from what they passed below. This alluvial tract may be supposed the site of a great lake, drained by a natural channel, from the abrasion of the waters : since which period the annual inundations have deposited the superior soil ; eighteen or twen. ty feet is wanting to render it habitable for man. It appears, nevertheless, well stocked with the beasts of the forest, several of which were seen.
Quantities of water fowl are beginning to make their appearance, which are not very numerous here until the cold rains and frost compel them to leave a more northern climate. Fish is not so abundant as might be expected, owing, it is said, to the inondation of the Mississippi, in the year 1799, which dammed up the Washita, some distance above the post, and produc. ed a stagnation and consequent corruption of the waters that destroyed all the fish within its influence.
At noon on the 15th November, they passed the island of Mallet, and at ninety yards north-east from the upper point of the island, by a good observation ascertained their latitude to be 32° 55' 27". 5 N. or two seconds and a balf of latitude south of the dividing line between the territories of Or.