Journal of Thomas Boyz
of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
journal detailing life on an early expedition of the Royal Canadian
Mounted Police into Western Canada, was found on the property of Deb
and Mike Thronson, Babb, Montana, in the summer of 2012. It was written
in a small book supplied to all the RCMP soldiers in very small writing
completely filling every page. Lorraine Tauer of Morgan, Minnesota,
Deb's mother, transcribed it. The book has been donated to the
museum at Fort Whoop Up, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. The fort is
mentioned in the journal. This article about the book and its discovery appeared in the Lethbridge Herald July 22, 2015.
The author of the journal is identified only by some difficult to read initials. Doran Degenstein, curator at Fort Whoop Up, discovered the author's name--Thomas Boyz. The journal includes a poem, "Riders of the Plains," of which Boyz apparently is the author. A sung version of this poem is well-known in Canada.
It is not known how the journal came to Babb, Montana, or how or where Thomas Boyz ended his days.
following rendition of the journal, following Tauer's transcription, is
imperfect because of the difficulty of reading Boyz's writing.
June 23. Jarvis horse race – white cane – Great storm of wind, barracks greatly shaken – drew the last Registration number in this system – The General lively –
Sat. 24 June. Very warm, had a hard day’s work. Dinner consisted of dismally cooked pemmican and dill pickles. All the afternoon I took a gloomy view of things.
While at stables a short but very sharp prairie storm came over us. The march barracks became an undisciplined race. Lightning very vivid(?) and apparently close as one of the swallows on the eaves(?) was struck down. The storm of rain seems to create great havoc among their mud built nests, softening the nests and causing them to fall. They are our best friends, keeping the barracks clear of mosquitoes, which outside their range are terrible, large. Smudges have to be kept going night and day to protect the horses and cattle.
The band begins to play remarkably well but are a perfect nuisance as they practice over room No. 3, where I rest my bones.
Sunday 25. After retiring last night and silence had
fallen, ? us, the distinct unmistakable creaking of
Cost 130 bullets for my rifle. A very idle day barring an excellent sermon from Rev. ? Stuart on intercessory prayer.
Mon 26 June. Herder(?) today, and had a glorious ride after the hourse(?). Fortunately the wind was high and the mosquitoes less in consequence. Retired very tired.
Tues. 27. Very cold -- all the morning, making drafts
of the monthly returns. Rumors as to the movement of the two troops,
conflicting and unsatisfactory. Busy day – felt bilious. Put on a thick coat.
It was cold. After tea Angus McLay, an Indian, came from White Horse. Train
arrived here. In the language of our barracks this evening was very “lonesome.”
A half-breed currier arrived from
Wed. 28 June. Harding had a glorious ride in the morning.
Thurs. 29. On guard
Fri. 30 June. Muster day. Kit inspection.
Sat 1 June. Hard day. A holiday and a dull one.
July 1876, Sun. 2. English service by the Co. Went out for a walk with the gun. Shot two Killdeer doves. Very much taken with the following ____? ____? Lucille.
Poem (hard to read)
Mark your ship far away
Asleep in the wave, in the last light of day
With all its brushed thunders__________ Would you know
A _________ which came to me a few days ago
Whilst watching those ships? When the great ship of life
Surviving, though shattered, the tumult and strife
Of earth’s angry _________ masts broken short
Decks drenched, bulwarks beaten – drives safe into port.
When the pilot of
Stretches over the water a welcoming hand.
When heeding no longer the sea’s baffled roar
The evening is stormy and rainy. Saved our old crusts
and made a pudding. A great many carts arrived today with supplies from
Mon 3 July. Made up the last monthly returns for June under the present system. Thank heaven. Middle of the day, showery. Parade dismissed.
Tues 4th. Made up my books. More carts arrived with supplies. Weather unsettled.
Wed. 5 July. Our missing detachment came in at last
reporting that the roads were in fearful state due to all the rains. Great
Thurs. 6. On guard all day. No mail. Mosquitoes bad.
Weather by no means warm. Buts of bread and received an issue of rare pemmican,
which I could not eat. I saw a great many flocks of pigeons flying west, very
high up. A train with flour came at midday, unexpected, to our greet relief.
Word from the fort that Capt. Walker left
Fri. 7. Orderly man. Mail arrived. No news as to our
movements. Orders from
Sept. 8, July. Raining all day and time found very _____ as we could do nothing.
Sun. 9 July. Usual church service parade. Service by Stewart rather far fetched. Took the gun for a long walk. After getting gloriously bitten by mosquitoes, I saw nothing. Stormed and rained most of night.
Mon 10. Nothing to do all day [big ink blot, can’t read it]. Weather very dull. Spent the time in reading. Capt. Murry’s “Amy Life.”
Sat 21. Have been too busy [to keep] up my diary (?)
Today Capt. French with a detachment of seven men left for the Fort at
Mon 23 July. E troop left for
Tues 24. And following days, too busy to keep up diary.
Aug 2. Tremendous storm – hail.
Thurs 3, Hard work. Presentation to the
Fri. 4. Feel unwell. Storm at night.
Sat 5 Aug. Hard work. Minister left. Pontius Pilate – the psalm strikes. I got _____ heard whereabouts of two coveys of prairie chickens.
Sun 6 No entry
Tues. 8. This morning awakened at ½ past one (? Seven)) and ordered to march at 11:00. Rode with advanced guard. We were 47 all told, 33 horses. Band went with us. Took 3 hours to arrive at the fort.
Wed. 9. Marched 15 miles to Stony Creek. Rained all day. No tents.
Thurs.10. Started at 6. Fine day. Crossed the
Fri 11. Same – Taddy played out. Met a chief with 20 wives.
Sat 12. Miserable day. Rained incessantly. Began amount of _____ wood, hills, reached plateau at ½ past five. Met half breeds. Went on guard. Tired. Met with McDaugle (?) and made teepee. Very comfortable. No rain.
Sun 13. Camped out ____ and ___ purchased dried
buffalo. Crossed ____ 12 miles miserably. Monotonous, no water, day ine(?). 3
miles further struck
Mon 14. Had a very excellent sleep. Mare better.
Passed through some of the most picturesque hills, valleys and small lakes. Beautiful
country and well wooded. Stopped for dinner at commencement of a great plain –
very level, full of old buffalo trails. Saw one with a small ___. Saw numbers
of buffalo ___ terrible. Neared hill of ½ - 5 hr. men and horses (?) Suffered for want of water. Men went out
hunting. The day warm, a gentle breeze. Reached water at last. Horrible stuff
but how good. Marched over 35 miles – too much. Back very tired. Met many
Tues. 15. Started the normal hour. Saw two large cranes. Country very inhospitable and scarce of water. Horses and men suffered much all the afternoon. A train was spied ahead. All at once the Col. Who had been in one of the wagons ordered his men and set off at a gallop. after the train followed by the officers and us. He left us and before we could get _________ he had turned to meet us with orders to stop. Now we were near a perfect sag(?) hole for there was no water within 4 hours’ march. The less said about the tea this evening – the better. The water itself was not drinkable – suffered – The band played. Made an excellent teepee with dry blankets. All hands much exhausted from want of sufficient sleep. Mare went nobly today.
Wed. 16. ¼ in. frost on blankets – all morning through
a diversified country. Saw a large wolf, fired at it – ordered back to quit and
_________? Terrible! Snowed after dinner. Without water. What miserable
country. Saw a __________ _________.
Thur. 17. Very bad – a laborious march. (could not read this paragraph. He seemed stressed out – writing bad)
Col. Lectured us to be careful with Indians – loaded our guns (?)
Fri. 18. Began to rain. Off we started. Cherokee
________ as we approached. Smith Barracks (?) saw a great number of ducks. We
armed to the teeth. 3 hours to ferry. (Could not read this sentence) ________
_______ _______ _______ Took dinner on the other bank. From afternoon a great
number of Indians. Lodges along the road.
Sat. 19. Found knife. First cleaning up to go to treaty. At 9 o’clock troop came to go with us. Parade before the governor. We led the governor’s carriage. Then e troop. Went 2 miles to where the Crees were. Marched through flags (?) Waited an hour. Then the chiefs came on foot and followed by a large number as they entered our lines. The band played “God Save the Queen.” All uncovered after shaking hands with Governor. Sat down. Looked on/in blue blankets like mourners at a funeral. Eagle feathers and wolf skins. Numerous were very old men, gray miserable specimens of ________? Governor made them a plain speech and the chiefs began replying when our troop were ordered to camp. 3 horses and men fell from badger holes. Powwow broke afternoon. Nothing in afternoon. Great singing at night ____ _____ _________ Loosing my voice.
Sun. 20. Church parade. Service in Fort. Te Deum (?) ___ Sleep in afternoon. Fresh meat. Ticket duty 1 ½ miles from camp. Stayed at # troop fire. Splendid sleep. Entertained two chiefs.
Mon. 21. No parade. Indians wanted a day to consider. Ticket until twelve. Sleep in afternoon. Built a new teepee. Very comfortable. Chum McDougle and I alone. Nice of the boys to _______ Indian skin wigwam. Very comfortable. At peace with the world.
Tues. 22. Beautiful morning after ablutions (?) in
Wed. 23. Morning tolerably fine. Escorted Gov. to the treaty. A very motley assembly of Indians. The older ones hideous, all remarkable for the largeness of their heads. An abundance of black hair. Most of them very tall and apparently athletic men. Very few types of the traditional Indian form. Medicine man with staff, with bunches of green leaves. One with a ______ cap, one with a blazing sun in tinsel. Many speeches with much actions. A good many horses, some splendid and remarkably swift. Gov. very short with the meeting. Treaty accepted by show of hands. (can’t read this sentence) Troops ordered to camp. Dinner at a terrible dust(?) River rising, becoming more swift. Crossing on Friday. My teepee blown down by the wind. Erect it again. Did not try to learn names of chiefs. There were too many. All we could _______
Thurs 24. Wind very cold and raw. Went to treaty. A
good deal of speech nothings – presents. (could not read this sentence)
Fri. 25. Horrible cold night. Got little sleep. Cleaned up all morning. In the afternoon detached on guard to Capt. Cristie, who paid the Indians. A good many half-breeds managed to get the money. The Band seemed very few in each. Always 2 or 5 ? widows. All bound (?) off very jolly. Tired tonight. Cross the river at 8 tomorrow morning. Indians mostly inclined to put their money in (?) 3. Christie very generous.
Sat. 26. _________ the passage of the river at 8 ½ . Sand bar. All went right in the morning. All wrong in afternoon. Swimming the horses, swimming the Indian horses. All across at 6 p.m. but deserted none. Got another teepee. Very comfortable, good sleep.
Sun. 27. splendid morning, quite calm. E troop crossing ? Fatigue !!
Tues. 29. Broke up camp for ______. Marching 31 miles.
Wed. 30. Marched 35 miles. Miserable weather. Great quantity of ________ and loons. Crossed plain. 25 desolate __________ expanse. Salty tea for dinner. Camped at 6 o’clock – stayed at pretty lake – fresh water. Wood scarce – beat E troop.
Thurs. 31. Marched 29 miles, cold, raw wind all day.
Sun came out in afternoon. Country all scorched by fire in every direction. Saw
antelope and wolf. I saw about a dozen chickens (?). Men shot four. Water very
scarce. A dreary march. Dogs fought with a badger who proved victorious. E
troop met its supply train 12 miles from
Sept. Fri. 1. Lat start, following the road. An incident in the forenoon (difficult to read a complete sentence here) The advance guard was ordered to dismount and walk for about 20 minutes to their great disgust. About four o’clock a cry of “buffalo” was heard through the lines. (This page is unreadable. They evidently tried to shoot some buffalo.) Crossed Turtle Creek, a fine stream, and we camped on other side. Black flies very bad all day. After supper Col. Jarvis (?) overtook us and road into camp with 3 troop ____. Bayles cut his foot badly with an axe and is completely disabled. Splendid weather all day.
Sat. 2. Reveille at 7/ - a race to get off before 8. E
troop did so but put no? (us?) to great inconvenience (?) Country rather
picturesque. Wind raw and cold. Saw a great many ducks and geese. Men shot
some. Had D? dismount and walk again. Men more cheerful than since we left
Sun. 3. Reveille at 7/6, which was a blessing. After
breakfast went out with Brown shooting—who shot two. After ½ an hour walk we
came upon a splendid river with extensive sand bars and islands. The banks are
extraordinary, much higher than 200 feet. Very steep. It went down 2/3 of the
way to a pool that had some ducks in it. I got two shots, missed both. The
climbing back was the most ______ thing of the ______ I ever had, and on
gaining the top found myself exhausted. Looking down upon the splendid river
from so great a height gave a splendid review and the scenery was ? gave
animation? To the scene. It was the
Mon. 4. Started out at ____. Bad country, mostly
plains, very uninteresting. Black flies very annoying. Marched 22 miles to
was a very picturesque bald(?) looking old hill in the distance, but it had no
name. Of course, all this was hard on the horses. Passing through, the trail
lay through ______. You could hardly help them (?). There was an artificial
_______ of _________ well grown poplars on high land, whence one could see the
broad stream of the
hills previously spoken of were mostly gravel and terraced all down their sides
with all buffalo bones. They prefer walking there to walking in the valley.
Weather very pleasant – sunlit. So far not cold though rather gloomy. Black mare’s
shoes worn so smooth and slippery that she nearly fell with me several times on
the descent. Go to bed tonight to a concert of wolves and coyotes from the
neighboring hills. We were led to expect trouble with the Wood Crees at Pit but
received news today that they had determined to make the treaty peaceably – no
further news of our future destination. One man sick, a few have colds. A troop
supposed to leave due through? A mistake in the telegraph to a place 200 miles
away, which will (be) unfortunate if true – For? Bacon and hard bread don’t
agree with me. Heard all the crops at
Tues. 5. Gov. came about 7 as
we were ordered to march at 12. Had at 10% (?) and got off. Black flies awful.
Wed. 6. The natives seemed to
have a jollification. But magnificent. Beat their tom tom incessantly and sang
during the night for three days. Managed to get at our provisions. The eat
about 40 lbs of pork today rations for the troops. (?) A lot of wild ducks and
all the officers and sergeants fresh buffalo meat. They carried off sarg’s
sugar, which was strewn all over the prairie. Great lamentations (?). No parade
this morning ____ _______ ______. Took a wash in the
Thurs. 7. Both troops and band escorted Gov. to meeting. Indians kept us long. At last they came. Forty or fifty horsemen skirmished in their Indian fashion, backwards and forwards up to our front while a mass of men on foot with two bands of tom-toms and a tambourine and two bands of singers came in behind. When they bolted, they gave several dances in their Indian style. Riders were almost naked and all were brightly decorated with paint. They are a fine race, tall and thoroughly ugly. They were by no means a cruel looking people. The medicine man still in front and made an address to the Deity, thinking him for the fine day he had given. _______ with their white brothers and asking a continuance of his blessings to their people and the whites. Then a little man about 3 feet or 4 feet high dressed in a buffalo smock covered with tassels and _______ leggings with a white moose (?) skin beard, looked like a jester’s cap, advanced and shook hands with the Governor. The whole assembly came up close and the Gov. made a terrible long speech. (Some of this does not make sense. Seems to be some Indian ritual) More singing and band played. Then four chiefs of the tribe came forward, each with a long ______ knife with 12 yards of _______ trimmed totally with colored streamers and placing the bowl (?) to the heart, placed the ____ in the Gov. hand. Also stroked (?) it from the chief towards himself. Then he pointed it to the un and then taking it (can’t read this sentence) taking the Gov’s hand held it up for a while, then down toward the ground. This was done by each and seemed to be an important act. They then retired with their column and advanced to the Governor, who took a few ______ out of each. Retiring, they took the bowls (?) off the ________ (can’t read the rest)
Band played “God Save the
Queen.” What a strange sight. To see them, relics of a past world meeting the
modern white man, each appealing in his own way to his own Deity, to virtues of
their good will. It seems doubtful if these red men understood the meaning of
this (word probably means ritual) to which they attach so much importance. The
little man is chief of all the Cree bands, about 70 years old, the ______ of
the _____ and _____ of the Cree Nation. Unwilling to fight but when it must be
fore most of all. We shook hands with nearly all. Hawks and Eagle feathers
adorned them all, some wearing the whole array and one a great orator that sang
of the white crane (?) They wore blankets of all colors, and many had their
hair, which is single, abundant, and long, strung with beads. Some were
tattooed, but not many. Red and white paint running general. They were not very
well armed. A great many flintlocks. Some double barreled guns and some Smith
and Wesson revolvers and some
Fri. 8. Tiquit (his spelling, don’t know what the word means) – all day. Placed under arrest. Clarke, with his usual disregard of the welfare of the men, forced a double guard upon the Gov. An orderly ordered a mounted parade for tomorrow at 9:15. Too late for us to clean up. Great dissatisfaction among the men. Fine day and not cold tonight. No meeting with the Indians today – rather tired.
Sat. 9. Went to treaty. Horses very unruly. One man placed under arrest. Came back for dinner. Not much today for the rest of the day. Received a cheque for $12.48, July pay. Got it cashed by a trader. Bought a couple of ______ 25 cents ea. – Sash 50 cents – a pipe 75 cents and a little tobacco. Weather good. Treaty signed today and presents distributed.
Sun. 10. Church service by McCoy guard at the Governor. A good one. Dogs howled at skunk. Gov would let us turn out.
Mon 11. Guard dismissed at 11
for D troop. Troop had commenced the passage of the
Tues. 12. No duty in the
morning so we cleaned up and washed in the
Wed. 13. The march this
morning lay through a very broken and barren country – all up hill and down
again. A wilderness of hills. The weather was very warm and hard upon the
horses. After dinner we are ordered to parade in order. Gov. Marris’s
eulogistic (?) letter might be read to us praising the police (?) for their
good conduct and the escort. In the afternoon the ground was not so much broken
but still hilly. Made 31 miles in all and camped at Willow Hills. Very little
water and quite poor. All very tired but no spells of fatigue. Graham and
Sutterland got up a pretty good argument on the respective merits of faming in
the old country and not
Came through a beautiful country in the morning – no doubt but the mist was so thick we could not see it. All we could do was follow the trail blindly. Mac D is set tonight – he is for Piquet (possibly a game) and Graham is going to bed with his breeches on. Forgot my ____ at dinner time and fear I have not heard the last of it. All’s well at 9 o’clock.
Thurs. 14. Found the mare all right. The ground last night was unkind and hard and that (?) and had a poor sleep. Broke up camp at 6-1/2 hr – usual and marched right in front. Our course lay straight what is called here a truberek (?) country. That is full of clumps of poplar bushes running from 3 ft. high to 12. The frost appeared to have nipt the foliage badly for there was a plentiful appearance of yellow leaves intermixed with the green, making the scene very pretty. The badger holes were very bad.
Dissertation of the Badger
The badger is a queer fellow who always enters his hold tail first, thus keeping his face to the outside. His color is grey brown with a little more grey head; has a very _____ appearance, and his legs short but he is very powerful in his shoulders and arms and makes a formidable antagonist for dogs. Ours have had a tumble or two with them, but the badger has always got off free. He has a most sufficient way of getting tiered of his hole and digging another. There’s a few badgers and in a little while honeycomb quite a deal of ground. When a horse gets nervous from slipping with one and begins to plunge amongst them, no skill can prevent the inevitable fall. They are the great nuisance of the western prairie for without great watchfulness you may get a bad fall at any moment.
The sticks of poplar were not much bigger than fishing
poles but their white bark amongst the evergreen foliage looks very pretty.
When we went through the line of telegraph poles we left the regular trail and
struck out over the prairie along their direction, thus endeavoring to make
Fri. 15. Broke up camp at
6-1/2. Marched left in front – all through a picturesque and rolling country.
Water scarce and not very good. Long tonight for a glass of spring water. Day
very sultry and long. Struck the old tram (?) to
Sat. 16. Started at the usual
hour under the impression that we had but 5 miles to travel, but we did not
reach the place till 10-1/2, when both troops camped. Was in good (?) fatique
and so it rained slightly. It was very unpleasant out. Got sadly wet and cold.
After dinner did a little more work and then took a walk with Mac. Went by the
newly made barracks and then around
Sun. 17. Church parade. The Col. Reading the service. After dinner, water fatigue. Bought a box of sardines for medicinal purposes. Warned for guard. Pleasant weather and beautiful sunset. Harry Langenam became an inmate of the teepee and went sick today. So did Sutterland. All busy at something today. Wish we were on the march again. Fresh meat and potatoes for grub. 10:40 till 2:20, little sleep (guard duty).
Mon. 18. Had a better watch
last night. Thanks to the baker who had to be up late and about one o’clock he
and I sat down by the blazing fire to a good plate of cold meat and warm bread.
Nothing to do till morning so crossed B.B. and purchased a much wanted pair of
woolen mitts for 75 cents and two pair of red woolen socks of excellent
quality, 75 cents a pair, a pipe, $1.00. Tried to snatch a little sleep in
vain. Purchased a pound of cheese and dined luxuriantly. Got some sleep in the
afternoon and again cheese for tea. An easy day to all. After tea there was a
concert of voices and band instruments in the next teepee that would waken the
dead. I feel sleepy and tired but cheerful for there is some chance of getting
some clothes ________ to us which is sorely needed, especially boots. We hear
that every available man must march to
Tues 19. Kit inspection at 9:30 and dress parade ordered for 11:00 but the ____ was delayed to 1-1/2 dismount. After inspection the parade was turned into a drill.
After going through warring maneuvers the troop was thrown out as skirmishes with E as support. (?) Skirmished for close to ¾ of an hour and when quite tired, E troop came up extended at the double. Relieved no one asked for formal support. Then to conclude we extended again and formed one line with E and did great __________. Nothing else to do the rest of day so smoked and thought upon my sins;. Feel tired and sleepy so retire early.
Wed. 20. 22nd anniversary of the Battle of Al??? Had a field day in the morning and as ever horses were rather fresh from their five day rest. We had a bad time of it. Sub. Inspt. Wilkins was thrown in front of the line but not hurt. Hall in mounting got his leg between his carbine and his horse and the horse ran away. My black mare got perfectly wild and I had a desperate job as she got beyond control and bolted off with head between her legs. – away we soared over the plain. Came round the line, nearly went head over heels over a badger hole and at last pulled up among the tents. After soothing her a bit, I rode back; but she continued as wild as ever; but the show was soon over and I dismounted with the greatest pleasure. Dinner refreshed us. A comrade gave us a share of some preserved cocoa with sugar which was first rate. Bought a little cheese for supper. After tea some promotions took place. Clarke and Wood made sergeants – well deserved. Great feast ______ tonight in the next wigwam and ________ signed pay sheets tonight for August. Wrote home today and sent my letter written from Pitt. Lots of reports as to our movements.
Thurs. 21. Water fatigue.
Muster parade of horses. Married men, Sutterland, McDougall ______ Burke return
Fri. 22. Orders to prepare to march. Went across (/) and cashed a $16 cheque. Fell asleep and only wakened for dinner. Did not eat much. Mounted “John,” his stallion, the roughest one in the force. Otherwise an excellent horse, large and strong. The command – forded ? – is without much difficulty in spite of the steep bank on the other side. A halt and long delay when on top of the hill. I began to get cold. Marched again through a very mountainous country but without a shrub. A most clean scene. Got very cold with a terrible wind. Found no wood and water till 7 o’clock at the ______ of a lofty range of hills. All suffered a great deal and could hardly unsaddle. Hurriedly fed the horses and ourselves and to bed smoking. 12 of us in a bell(?) tent. This afternoon is probably only a mild specimen of what we have to expect. Besides a rear guard, a guard to prevent prairie fires – no one allowed to smoke. Saw geese but no ducks. Traces of buffalo and expect to see them in a day or two. All tired and out of temper and by no means comfortable.
Sat. 23. Broke up our miserable tromak (?) teepee (?) of last night at 5-1/4 to 5 (?). Got two cups hot coffee and felt better. Got off 6/4(?) Wretched day, cold and rain. The mitts purchased did yeoman’s service. At nine o’clock came a message to take on wood here as there was none any further on. Almost immediately afterward we entered the great plains, where there is not a vestige of wood and we got no water from 2 o’clock till 9 p.m. and treat slightly alkaline (?)
We are now about 25 miles into buffalo country. The plains are laced with buffalo trails, some were so fresh as to have crossed our trains _________ which we are following. Skull and buffalo remains are scattered everywhere, but a more scary, desolate country and hilly I never saw. Came 33 miles today by the instrument, but I think it was more like 40; but very tired and very cold feet—by no means warm anywhere. The place of water was in a valley and its place ___________ by a heap of stones. On the hill expect to see buffalo any time. Wood is only collected for tomorrow. Prairie fire sprang up before us, this just after the Col. Had passed the spot. Advance galloped up and tried in vain to beat it out. It beat us and swept down on the train which was in some danger. They got round it. I sprang through the wall of fire without burns. It followed and chased us. After dinner – but we got off, the smoke filled the heavens. Saw an antelope and several cranes.
Sun. 24. So cold, hardly slept at all. Another miserable day, cold and rain and windy. We had not gone far when we entered a region burnt over by fire, a most desolate scene and almost a plain. Strange to say, in the absence of pasture we saw a good many single antelope, which afforded some chases for the dogs and some E troop who were in front. None were killed so might have been expected, for nothing runs swifter on the prairie than the antelope. Some geese passed over us very near. Struck no water till about a quarter to two when we camped for the day. Plenty of buffalo tracks but none seen alive. Skeleton of them were very thickly strewn about, glistening white amid the ground. There were dead buffalo not yet decayed, many killed recently with their hide and mare (?) ________ 5 were in sight at our ________. Curious flock of doves. 2 cute gophers came quite near camp and were just shot at and ________. Went hunting for buffalo chips and brought in a cartload. Shots were fired from revolvers at a flock of geese and brought down. First supper cooked with chips. Made a hot coal fire. Horse has a sore and puffy back.
Mon. 25. Pretty fine day. Most desolate country, partly ____ ______ ________. Saw good many antelope, fresh buffalo dung and a good many ducks. All the same after dinner camped dry except ¾ of a pail of tea for each troop, which was measured as if it were gold. Lost our guide who came into camp late. Water 3 miles out. Camp 7 o’clock. Camp very gloomy, for the absence of tea is very serious on the prairie. Being main cook I got a little more than the rest. Horses nearly played out.
Tues. 26. Started out from
our dry camp without breakfast. For the men a beast (?) and marched 4o-1/2
miles to water, where we had breakfast. Marched on then through burnt and
desolate country, some places unburned. Saw a tremendous fire ahead or rather a
smoke. Saw our advance about half a mile ahead when the guide came to a halt.
When we came up to the rise they were on, a scene met our eyes unable to
describe. A considerable valley with two alkali lakes in it full of fire and
smoke from between shores and around two dense white smoke rolled up in clouds
amid which the trail could be distinguished, but unburnt. The dark guide waved
his hand like a black magician over this infernal pit and we commenced our
descent into it. By the edge of one of the lakes we saw the first buffalo, so
officer ____ Capt. Clarke and the Doctor borrowing the men’s
We reached water about the middle of the valley and camped for the night at 4 o’clock. Were ducks and geese aplenty and a good many of both – just difficulty in getting chips. We had dinner and supper all in one and a good fresh ducks _______. No time to yourself. Relieved from cooking. Weather splendid. First looked magnificent and smoke not troublesome. Riding in the wagon tired me very much, especially my back. Hope I shall have a horse tomorrow. Tent too crowded with 12 men.
We have wandered 70 miles from our true course but expect
to reach the
Fine morning – rode in back
of wagon. Very good road but the guide led us to all points of the compass. Saw
a great number of antelope – spied one good-sized herd. Saw a great number of
buffalo and the officers and men chased several. Add to yesterday Christen’s
name – who killed the first bull. But it turned upon him. Just missed.
Thurs. 28. Last night was devoted to the music. We agreed to put away the comic and absurd and sing nothing but classic music. “The Wreath,” “Would I Were There (?)” “Cherry Ripe.” I cannot sing the old song and a lot of others all requiring a good cultivated voice, good taste. Then were all to the fore(?) and many of them singing these songs of home which remind them of a more cultivated life which they once enjoyed but which is a past and hurried existence which most of us would not resurrect even if we could. At eleven o’clock the cook put his head in the door and told us that all the lights in the camp were out long ago so we turned in and most of us were soon sound asleep. I lay with only my nose out and the bowl of my pipe out and meditated for another half hour. I did not sleep much because of the cold.
Started early as usual. Soon saw buffalo ____ ran one
herd with the guide which resulted in the death of the second bull. The guide
soon came up with them and singling out a young bull he wounded him and turned
him to the train. After 2 or 3 shots the bull turned to bay and charged the
guide and when the first horseman came up the guide had all he could do to
avoid the bull. Others rapidly came up and I arrived just as the bull made his
last stand and fell. No sooner was he down than the two guides fell upon him
with their knives and skinned and cut him up – in no time. We loaded up the
meat with joy and went on our way rejoicing. But we had an awful march before
it was cooked. First miles – no water and no halt for food – ever a desolate
camp except for the buffalo and antelope. Closest we found water –10 miles from
Fri. 29. Lay over this
morning till 3 p.m. waiting for the guides to go ahead and find a crossing.
Then we traveled on and camped at the
We learn that the ford we are at is too deep and tomorrow we start for another 3-mile swim. Have not felt well all day. Perhaps the hearty meal of fresh buffalo, which was excellent eating, had something to do with it. Horses standing it well and men in very good health. Cold all day. Came down on very long and deep ravine to the river. Country very hilly, no falls, our whole road was strange or successions of ravines. Lots of buffalo tracks and quite fresh. 3 cranes, too late in the season, and they have south.(?) sent a man (?) back to meet the train to get permission. (?)
Sat. 30. Made raft of wagon boxes – none of logs. Went ________?
Sun. 1 (Oct.) _________ not till noon. Crossing in afternoon ________ __________ _________
Mon. 2. Detailed for crossing. A very windy cold day. Suffered all this very much from wet and cold. A look at wagon, boxes almost wrecked. Crossing open. Terrible camping ground, clouds (?) of sand. No sleep from cold. Medical comforts _______ to the men. 1 wine glass of Port.
Tues. 3. Drew out about 11
a.m. and marched 20 miles. Suffered from want of water. Day cold and raw and
then came on to snow slightly. Miserable camp and might extraordinary define
where we are (?) ___ the horses in scarce for want of water, although along
Wed. 4. Fine morning. Death
of another bull by Sergt. Major with shot through the heart. He had an enormous
swelling on the neck and the Doctor would not let us eat the liver. Halted at a
pool for dinner. Miserable water. Soon after sighted a herd of 25 buffalo and
the Col. Organized a hunting party. The chase was splendid. 3 cows were shot
and one calf, and when we camped we sent out two carts for the meat, which came
back loaded. All of us sickish and bilious from eating so much pork. Saw a
great many buffalo and antelope. Put on night guard over the camp as well as
the __________. All arrived to help to cut up the bull. Very good camp and
weather warm. I am down and out from lack of sleep. Sudden inspection of arms
and Ammo. Right boot almost gone. Hope to reach
Thurs. 5. Horrible storms of wind last night and all troops had to getup and refix the teepees. (?) I got up feeling well enough but had a nasty dysentery all day owing to the pork. Walked two hours with Serg’t Woods. Halted for dinner at a miserable supply of water. Wind rather cool and high – smoking a dilemma (?). Saw plenty of buffalo and antelope but no hunting. About 3 sighted a grizzly and good sized cub. Release (Chase?) was immediately given by eight riders and the Indian guide on our best pony. It was not long but the Indian at last shot her. We soon after struck a pool of water and camped and sent off a cart for the bear, which reached camp about 7-1/4 and created quite a sensation. It was very large and was guessed at 1200 lbs. It is not often that a white man sees a grizzly killed. Great feed of buffalo meat – was excellent. It is interesting how much one can eat without inconvenience. Some are supposed to have eaten two lbs. Great many geese passed over camp, which accounted for much waste of powder but did not do much destruction.
Fri. 6. Started at 5. Cold morning but afternoon very fine day. Some mountains desolate country. Water scarce. Saw numbers of buffalo in small herds, some 4 to 50. Chased none. Saw some Jack Rabbits and a great number of antelope. After dinner entered a very deep and difficult ravine, which descended to a valley about a mile and ¼ long. At one place the cook wagon unhooked and spilt the apple juice. After that we reached water and camped. Scarcity of buffalo chips. Went on picquet [don’t know meaning of this word, he’s used it before.]
Sat. 7. started at 5 –
splendid day. Followed the valley and got out of thye guide’s knowledge. Did
not know where we are. Saw a camp?? And thought _______. Met an armed party,
found them to be Plains Cree. One came with us, crossed a dry river with steep
banks. Found we were going about right. Met another party who came with us and
took dinner. Capital level road. Saw a camp with a great quantity of meat
drying, which looked like a hedge. Further on saw the first shrubs since
crossing. Descended into a deep picturesque valley on the edge of which stood
the camp. Soon met the Indians returning from a successful run. Met dead
buffalo all along where the run had gone. Did not see many live buffalo.
Country cut up wonderfully with deep valleys. Water scarce. Camp at spring in
valley with good water but very little of it. We are now ½ day march to
Sun 8. Very sharp night but fortunately I had an extra great coat over me. Felt quite refreshed. No meat for breakfast. Walked 2 hours over hill and dale. Very picturesque valley with streams and half breed horses. Much crossed streams (?) and had a desperate hill on the other side, 1-1/2 miles long and the road hard with water and gravel stones. Most unfortunate. It was the first day I had put on moccasins to walk in. Suffered. Horses hade a very hard time of it, getting to the top and were played out. Beautiful road on top so smooth as if it were planned. Extraordinary broken aspect of the country. Immense ravines or rather valleys, very deep and full of islands so to speak. A little spruce here and there, no other woods, high cliffs and high mountains, long descent to the fort. Arrived there at about 1o-1/2. Quite a little settlement. Some good stores. The fort is only a stockade about 10 ft. high – protected by wooden bastions. Houses built in the square and all whitewashed as well as the walls inside, which makes the place look very clean.
B. troop is stationed here, which has only lately been reconstructed so that the faces are all fair and fresh looking. They greeted us with great pleasure. Dinner at 5—pork. Stores with capital stock and very reasonable prices. Bought a pound of ginger snaps. 30 cents. Lent Hall and Alison $2 each. Land is sandy. Think very little of the place. No timber apparently, not even prairie timber except at a distance and in the valley. The fort is so situated as to be commanded by the highland on either side. No games of any sort all day long. March disappointed in this place in every way, which seems isolated like every place in this country and a miserable place to be stationed. It is about 100 miles to the boundary. B troop has all Bronko horses – a cross between the mustang and Californian horses. Very wild. They are not breaking them and having great fun. The horses have a very fine appearance but are not very large. Weather excellent if not unpleasantly warm.
Mon 9. Day of rest in camp. Purchased 1 pr. Gloves $1.25, 4 # ginger snaps also cheese 75 cents. Miscellany (/) to pay 25 cents. Dined on grizzly, which was excellent, especially with a little fat of pork. Bought p. moccasin 50 cents, too small. Powers presented me with a pair. Feed and concert in our tent, which was a nuisance. Had a camp kettle of coffee was the redeeming front (?) The stack (?) held by the stove here is very great. Band played in the fort. The men had not heard a band for _________ years. Terrible cold night. Water fatigue .[evidently means he had to get water for the camp.]
Thurs. 10. Inspection of arms and saddlery at 11:00. Busy cleaning up all morning. Rifle hardly got through. Nothing to do all day. Eat a lb of sweet cakes and did not feel extra well. Spent the time walking about town. Bought dishes towel 75 cents, Turkish $1.00, Handker 50 cents. Went as ______ on Brooks case who was fined $2. Tired of this and wish to be on the march again. Lent Hall $2.40, Alison 50 cents. Very fine day. Splendid drinking water. Men and horses are well. This is a promising place. The only one where building is just progressing. Saw one stone house packed full of pemmican and dried meat and some very fine robes. Night getting cold again. Rumors state that Sitting Bull threatens to pay us a visit here.
Wed 11. Arrested 2 men for bringing in whiskey. B. troop on the jump. Went out with Alison with a couple carbines for a ramble. Climbed various hills and one peak. 9,200?—a thousand feet above the level of the valley. Splendid view of broken country. Spruce trees on the top.
Orderly man paid today, full
pay $22-1/2. Bought a pound of butter 75 cents. Easy day and plenty to eat.
Ginger snaps again. Hall paid me $4. Alison $2-1/2, making us square. Have now
$105. It is understood we march again tomorrow. 12 men intended for
Thurs 12. Went for a walk this morning and climbed another high peak _____ with sandstone, on the face of which were several names engraved. A pair of elk antlers ornamented the top. Bought more ginger snaps. Felt well fed all day. Had a slight sleep and a good dinner. 4-1/2 minutes parade for the troops for Serg. Major Francis came. He had lost himself from the coming train by hunting buffalo and been 2 days without food. Our ammunition – All well! Weather singularly fine for this time of year. No word of starting yet. Just bring my amount of ginger snaps. Cook brought in sausage meat in cakes – glorious!!
Fri 13. Very cold morning –
not on duty. Took a walk and climbed another peak. Pretty look of the cattle
(?) in the little valleys on the hills. Fed well – perhaps too well. Lay on our
backs in the tent smoking cigars and _________. Mail arrived about 2 with the 2
Sat 14. Nothing to do till 4 o’clock p.m. but climb a peak. Rec. orders for marching tomorrow at 6-1/4 to all our joy. Worked hard packing up valises and wagons and retired early.
Sun. 15. Started 6-1/2, which was near enough. All uphill for 3 miles and such hills as you don’t often see. Doubled 3 teams in one case that went straight up. 22 men for our wagon, 11 to walk one hour and ride one hour. Walked my horse and then rest all day. A splendid day. _____ the broken country all through good land but neither wood nor water. Got our first site of the Buttes, almost 75 (?) miles distant. Looked much like a solitary old buffalo came out and _______ gave chase and had great fun. The old ______ got off but saved ________ hunters. Picquet at night. Devil of a time.
Mon 17. Started 6-1/4.
Splendid morning. About five miles out we saw a hill, and a hill as no one has
yet dreamed of—one upset and one broken axel. No one hurt. Crossed a valley and
dined. Then up the other side. Man and horses united had to bring the wagons
up. When we were up it continued up and down all the way. Never saw such a
broken country. There being no stones on the road helped us, no water of any
_______ and that’s bad – no wood. Splendid land, a little _____ buffalo and
more buffalo – and antelope – no hunting. Towards eve got our first sight of
Tues 17. Started at 6-1/2.
Took a long walk of 2 hours and felt splendid. Pretty broken country, very
little water and no sign of wood. Soil a sandy claying gravel. Down into
ravines and up other side being the rule. Saw a good-sized herd who appeared
very fearless (buffalo) No hunting allowed. Camped after a short march at water
covered thick with wary geese.
Suffered a good deal from want of water. Got a drink last night from a friend who had a private keg. Good deal of wind.
Wed 18. Splendid sleep but felt dull and languid. Tried walking but have not the usual vigor and only managed one hour. Got with the _____ of buffalo. Counted 13 herds of from 20 to 100 in a herd. Again saw innumerable buffalo – probably 15 or 18,000. Old hands guessed at 50,000 and traveled to catch up with buffalo on all sides – great numbers and very fearless. I was myself within a hundred yards of one herd. But all very fearless. Guide shot a 2 year old bull and we stopped the train to get the meat to our great frig(?—joy?). Thus to get rid of the park. While at dinner in an ______ the guide brought down a cow on the hill and after dinner we went up with bags and broke it up, getting nearly left by the train we _______. Just before camping saw a cow lying down very near us. Set the dogs on and she did not rise. We concluded she was wounded and rushed at her. She was wounded and Alison stabbed her in the heart and took the tongue. After camp some went back and got the humps, heart, and liver and brought it in. Camp full of meat and great feast for supper. Saw a bull fight. Col. Gave general permission to hunt provided we killed no cows. 4 extra men put on guard for fear the buffalo coming to water might stampede the horses. Rained a little in the evening. Good weather all day, rather cool. Nearly all the watches of the troops are out of order ______ Very broken country with tremendous coolies and hills. Found water and good camping ground.
Thurs 19. Found 4 horses lost this morning and delayed train an hour. Really surrounded by mistakes. 3-1/2 got up and cooked steak for tent. Splendid walk. Any amount of buffalo. Got into the middle of Indian hunt. Buffalo charging in all directions. Went through the advance guard. Some of the men were on foot and horseback joined the hunt. We shot five and got one antelope and shot a white Texas (?) steer. Marched till
_________ __________ till we met water. Great feast of tongue, heart, liver and antelope steak. 2 feast(?) in fact. Smiles on everyone’s faces though we were tired enough. Narrow escape of Ward and Boyle – Fight in tent.
Weather fine until after camp
when it came on to rain a little. Soil very poor and absolutely no wood. Wild
horses among the buffalo and
Robes (?) all wasted though
Fri 20. Miserable night, rained hard for this country. Did not start till 9:00 o’clock. March cold and wretched. A good many buffalo seen at a distance. One Jack Rabbit shot. Went 10 miles to a very deep coolly where we dined. Terrible hill to ascend. Water very bad. Went almost 8 miles and camped without water. Chips all wet, great difficulty in boiling the tea. All feeling a little ill, mostly headache. Wretched camping, ground cold and damp. Dry bread and tea and great grumbling. Quarreling all round about the beds. Filled a __________ pipe and let things rip. Very tired. Walked too much today.
Sat 21. Severe frost last night and froze over tent. The inside glistened. All felt miserable and looked for some promised hot coffee. When it came the cooks by mistake had put salt in it instead of sugar and all were bitterly disappointed as there was no time to make more and to fuel to boil water. So we started on a forced march of 31 miles on dry bread and water.
All very grumpy for the first 5 or 6 miles. Then the
gloom wore off. We went faster than we had ever gone on this march over a
splendid level prairie, which gradually rose as we went west. 1. 2. 3 troops
(?) had the first real view of the
Sun. 22. Splendid sleep.
Breakfast dry bread and tea. Terrible hill to ascend but the top is a splendid
view of the
I defer my opinion of McLeod till I see more of it. A number of cannon shot irregularly fired were let off in honor of McLeod. Wretched building to sleep in and beds scattered all over the floor of earth if it is only a make shift. The room is overcrowded. Went down street to a store. Lemonade 25 cents, gloves, D. (?) cigars. My money does not go in that way. – Amen.
Mon. 23. Very good picquet,
though a bad sleep. Lodged (?) ninety-five dollars as a deposit in the hands of
I.S bathes &
Wed. 25. Nothing to do. All
the horses sent off 8 miles to troop A. Good thing. Brought 1 lb cheese 50
cents, 1 lb ginger snaps 25 cents. Witnessed the moving of bronco horses from a
herd. Fresh beef steak for dinner and potatoes. Took a walk with Derald and
__________ had brought with us with carbine and made a couple of good shots at
chickens. Could have killed a lot more with shot gun. Got out my glasses and
had a very good view of he
Weather very fine and mild. Took another new (?) walk after tea and dropped in to see the billiards play and the gambling, which is openly permitted here; so is ____________, a young boy of 18 being conspicuous by his good play success. Bluff is the game. Went back to barracks at 7-1/2. Had tedious dysentery for two days and don’t feel very spry. The boys are endeavoring to raise $1000 to build a theatre by means of shares. It seems a mad enterprise, but it may pay. Don’t like the entire state of inaction. It is too much of a good thing. Mail due today but did not come.
Thurs 26. Inspection of arms
and saddlery ordered for 2 o’clock. Cleaning up all the time till then. Show
very creditable under the circumstances. Took a walk and a wash in the
Fri 27. General fatigue all
morning. Job 1 – water fatigue in the afternoon – weighing coal (?). Got water
after tea. Full train in from
Sat 28. A store train came in
last night. Nothing to do in the morning so we all began making bunks to sleep
in. After dinner I and 7 others were told off to unload some of ten wagons.
Major Morris was my partner and we worked very hard indeed. These wagons carry
three tons and generally three wagons are hooked (linked) together with 12 yoke
of oxen. I never saw such large oxen as these. Today while we were on fatigue,
the rest of the men continued on bunk building and at tea time they were
completed – 2-tier after ship fashion. Mine is very comfortable and an upper one, on which I am lying at present.
A party started off this morning for the Fort at Bear (?) River. Wrote home
today. Fresh meat, roast beef, and taters for dinner, which was excellent and
done full justice too. A great deal of gambling for smaller sums with our men
every evening; but the men have no other way of amusing themselves.
Sun 29. Rather windy and
cooler than usual. Orderly man. Church parade at 11:00. Had no time until after
dinner. Went for a walk with Trnyne (?)down the river to see some high bluffs.
Got one chicken but saw many. Got to the bluffs and found a slew of water (?)
20 yards wide at their bases. The bluffs were almost perpendicular of claying
sand. We got back at 5 o’clock and smoked the everlasting pipe – Took an
observation of the
Mon 30. 2 inches of snow on
the ground and coming down. Have now half rain. Barracks square (?) and
everything in a dreadful mess. We made a table and ate our first dinner like
Christmas since leaving
Tues 31. Very muddy still, though there was no snow fall. Muster Parade at 11-1/2. Afternoon went to work at the mill with increased pay, so say Corpl. McDonald, who warned me. We piled lumber till 5 p.m. and felt a little tired. Struck off all duty, I suppose, which is a great consideration.
Nov. Very find day. Something wrong with the saw and almost nothing to do all morning. After dinner we cut some 12 cotton wood logs, which were soaked with some water and made the work very hard. Troop changed its cook. Took the roof off the stables in order to put on a better one. Signed pay sheet.
Thurs 2. Went to work as usual at the mill. A very easy day all through. The saw very conveniently requires a great deal of filing. Ice now every morning though it thawed in the middle of the day. It gets quite cold towards evening. The kitchen being next to me keeps my bunk quite warm till night late. The grub is the best I have had in the Force. The beef is truly excellent. I feel stronger and better for my now ___________.
Fri 3. At work as usual today – very cold and the saw worked badly so that there was not enough work to keep us warm. Tried moccasins to keep my feet warm, but they failed for some reason, much to my astonishment, and I had to put on my boots. Good dinner. In the evening it shows 20 degrees below freezing. I saw the first team of drawing three large wagons of hay. Mules are better than horses where the ground is hard. When it is so soft and marshy they loose heart and lie down. Life rather dreary and have taken to _________. Very unsatisfactory resort. Great demand for lumber. Time opening for a shingle and planning machine.
Sat 4. Work as usual. Thawing
out and saw filing all morning. Did some work in afternoon. Weather cold and
windy. Had o put on moccasins after dinner. Saw an Indian bring down some
chickens with a
Sun 5. Had to go to the mill this morning to prevent it freezing up. Saw some slabs for firing. Good dinner. Went to mill again and had a splendid wash in the engine room with warm water, which was also a laundry. Left at 4 o’clock and put my bed in order. After tea felt solitary and, tho the night was very stormy, went down to see the billiard playing. Saw a very good game. Came back and wrote music notes (?)
Mon 6. A Chinook wind from
Mill ran well today and made work lively. Very glad when 5 o’clock came round. Some of my boys shot some chickens and we are stuffed ________ on stewed Morris’s prairie chicken curried (???) “North of the White Swan”
Last Sunday afternoon, being tired of barracks, I sought out Pranyne (?), who is capital companion, being full of anecdotes and stories, which he normally comes for the occasion. (?) We were about 2 miles in search of the remains of an old fort, from the ruins about which fearful things were done about ten years ago. Captain Wyrike (?) and his spaniel going through the alders. High cliff on other side of the ______. Glorious moment when taking aim, shot the swan. Put on show outside the officers’ quarters.
After tea I ascended my lofty couch and lit a pipe.
Tues 7. The Chinook blew all night and things were pretty dry.
Wed 8. Worked very hard today and as the weather was very fine the perspiration flowed freely. I feel getting much stronger than I have been or some time, thanks to the outdoor work and the pure air. After ten went to the mill and took a glorious wash in the warm engine room, and felt much refreshed. The towel I washed last Sunday turned out a perfect success and has inspired me with the intention of saving the $2.00 a month and doing my own washing. At least I shall try. But the luxury of the present pipe lolling on my couch is well worth the walk to the mill and the wash. Feel pleasantly drowsy.
Thurs 9. Work at mill severe this morning. Great wind still, the usual Chinook. Detachment sent after a horse stolen not returned – yet our stables are progressing rapidly. Logs drawn by six mules like the hay with two of the three wagons linked. Sold a pair of moccasins as my evening commenced and shaved. Gambling going on in the room as usual. Weather splendid.
Fri 10. Chinook changed and had a snow storm, which made it very unpleasant to work and cold. Made various purchases of needle and thread and wool for darning. Such is life. There was a _________ today among the fatigue party. Saw would not try cutting crooked lumber.
Sat 11. So stormy and cold that we did nothing all morning. On the afternoon we ran till 3-1/2 and then went to barracks. Darned all my stockings very substantially.
Sun 12. Church parade and church sermon. Choir sang well and lead a good instrument. In the afternoon – washed 3 pr. Socks, 10 drawers and shirts. Very cold all day. Said to be 16 degrees below zero [Celsius?] . Dried clothes, hung around my bunk. Read ____________.
Mon 13. Very cold and frosty today. Fortunately no logs at the mill so we stayed in the warm engine room Indians __________ and party arrived today. Don’t know what to do for warm clothing as mine is all at Swan River Barracks room. Not so cold as one would think it. Nothing eventful.
Tues 14. Cold in the morning – no logs, no work. Worked well in the afternoon. Applied for a cap, refused. This is a mean force. Had a great mind not to go out at all but received the present of a cap from one of C troop. Heard rent for a single room was $9. Bought a pound of candles 50 cents. Feel I am being cheated by A.J. Baker and Co. Asked for volunteers to cut fire wood at 50 cents per cord. Couldn’t see it. Studied Farney(?) on the engine.
Wed. 15. The balmy breezes of
the Chinook began blowing last night and today. Has been beautiful. The snow
thawing towards evening. Hard days work. Sent lumber up to the barracks for the
purpose of flooring our rooms so I suppose we will soon be a little more
comfortable. A constant succession of Indian visitors come to see us at the
mill and start gazing at the saw and engine by the hour. There are a great
number of lodges erected outside the fort and still they come. Mail goes out
tomorrow but I have no con____________ for writing anybody. The
Thurs 16. A splendid morning and the mill worked very rapidly, making the work severe. A herd of buffalo came very near the mill and were quite a sight. We cut about 1000 ft. in 34 hours. In the afternoon it turned very cold and the men worked unwillingly, consequently we did not do well. About 4-1/2 it became so stormy that we gave up. It has again become mild at night. The sentry’s rifle went off in the guard room tonight. Fortunately no one was hurt. The rifle was impaired before and unsafe. Intended to do some sewing tonight but Clarke came in and talked away the time. We ran the engine today for a time at 105 lb. steam, making things lively and dangerous. Not as tired as I expected to feel.
Fri 17. Morning bright but very cold out – frosty. Did a very fair day’s work. Great argument between two Indian chiefs – C. Crossfoot and Red Feather as to which produced [sound of] the steam whistle. Red Feather asserted it was the whistle but old Crossfoot with the __________ of age pointed out how small the whistle was to make so much noise and gravely pointed out the great smoke stack was the instrument. One old squaw who had watched the hauling on of a great log saw in silence the big slab taken off, but when she saw the broad rough edge, then board sheered away, she threw up her hands in astonishment and cried lu! Lu! Lu! Very cold in the afternoon and very nearly had two or three accidents to the men – but escaped. A detachment went out today to cut cord wood at 50 cents a cord. They will earn their money.
Sat 18. The Chinook melted
the snow and made things wet. Worked hard. A great many Indians and children at
the mill tonight. All the snow was gone. Washed some clothes after tea and took
a scrub myself and felt splendid. Our detachment, out in search of whiskey
traders, returned. They found the suspected man but no whiskey. A half breed
found frozen to death at
Sun 19. Church parade. Chinook blew all day and took all the snow and keeping the weather very mild. Took a walk with the engineer. There appears every likelihood of a considerate [considerable?] Indian war. The Cree have encroached on the Blackfoot hunting grounds and the _________ on the Kootenais and the injured parties have appealed to McLeod for redress, which if not granted, they are going to redress themselves. There are a great number of Indians here now and 100 lodges of cress(?) expected tomorrow. Beaver skins selling at $1.50 a pound. The cook treated our men to ½ a pie per man.
Mon 20. Beautiful mild morning. Worked hard at the mill all day. Too hard! And feel stiff and strained in the arms and back. However, the hard part was voluntary. The Irishman and Scotsman making each other out to be nearly caught, which results in this story!!
A highland man came to town and wanted to appear civilized. He put on breeches and went to get shaved. In the barber room was a large mirror, to which he went and addressed the apparition, “Are you the man that shaves the people?”
To polish furs use mahogany sawdust as bran(?)
Two skunks went for two empty cans of _________ salmon.
They got their heads in but could not get them out and were killed by our dogs
in the morning, the consequence of which was awful. Looks very stormy about the
Tues 21. Beautiful sunrise. Worked very hard indeed and quite tired out. Nothing took place [worth] writing about.
Wed. 22. Fine day – but a tremendous wind. Built a carral(?) way over the sawdust pit. All our bunks were taken down and the room floored, which caused great confusion. Worked hard all day and played three games of chess in the evening, in which I came out conquer. Feel very nervous or rather bilious. Wind blew hard all day. Got things settled in the barracks room by night. All pleasures in the recreation room is spoilt by the blowing of wind. Very tired.
Thurs. 23. Fine weather
still. Mill as usual. A dispatch was sent from Cypress Hills to say that they
were building another fort in a more sensible place, which is the place where
the cook wagon broke its axel and
Fri 24. Good weather still continues. Worked hard. Filled my bed tic, which is the(?) cause to sore bones.
Mail came in and received a letter from Bet posted 19 Sept. Quite an event. Went over to recreation room to try and have a game but there was no one there. Smoked a pipe instead. The men keep our room much too hot and it is very unpleasant. Mill in great danger from a burning log, which I discovered. Not quite so tired tonight – but of candles(?)
Sat 25. A very good day. Mill shut down for the making of preparations for the winter. Work hard and smash my thumb with a hammer. Played part of a game of chess with Boyle and took a walk down town. Came home to bed.
Sun 26. Beautiful day all day. Orderly man, quiet day. Played Buttes 4 games of chess and won them all. Wound up the watch and the day.
Mon 27. Very frosty and cold all day. After tea helped to line our room with cotton. Wrote Betsy an account of our march here. Went to recreation room and read the papers.
Tues 28. Cold enough but not as cold as yesterday. Hard work at the mill. After tea R. Room. Red Farringan’s Adventures (?) [or Encounters]
Wed 29. A fairish kind of day. Work at the mill easy. Band practiced at R. Room. Spoilt all chance of a chess game. Barracks room kept altogether too hot.
Thurs 30. Chinook raged today
and blew great guns. Muster at Parade at 1-1/2. Went back to mill. Hardly any
work done. Got Frankie(?)
Fri 1. Beautiful day but already hardest day’s work at mill we have had. Cut 40 logs a good deal of trouble today with what appear rheumatism in the left hip joint. Dialogue between a visitor and our engineer V – “Do not the boilers wear out?” E – “Yes.” V – “You then get new ones?” E – “No we don’t.” V – “What on earth do you do then?” E – “Always run them till they burst.” V – “The devil you do.”
Nothing unusual today. Chinook blew all day and carried
away all the snow from the plain as well as from the
Sat 2. Beautiful day like summer, but the Chinook was a little boisterous. We hear all the troops have refused to re-enlist. Did not feel well today. Went down to the mill after ten and had a glorious wash in warm water. Blowing like blazes tonight. General cleaning up of the room, which now looks very clean and neat. Work at the mill was easy today.
Sun 3. Beautiful warm day
like summertime. Church parade at the usual hour. Singing during service was
very bad as most of choir had been at one of the numerous half breed Indian
dances till late. These are very low affairs and generally end in a row. After
dinner I walked out on the prairie and came back along the river bank. The
river is covered with bearable ice, which must come from its source in the snow
and ice of the
The tobacco here is very bad. After tea I commenced writing out the diary of the March here.
Tues 4. The chief event of
today was the violence of the Chinook, which increased almost to a hurricane at
five o’clock and blew hard till bed time. At night there was a perfect drunk
all around and many fights. How it was that none of the men were placed under
arrest is strange. Read extracts from
Wed 5. Chinook is unpleasantly violent. This wind seems to go down entirely through the night and begin in the morning, increasing with strength till 5 o’clock. At 6 it begins to taper off. All the men sitting. All the men suffering on the __________ of repentance. One man is ill as to be taken to the hospital. We all seem to suffer from biliousness. My work in the open air keeps off disagreeable feelings and seems to agree with me in spite of the hard labor; but those confined to barracks are never well. We sleep too many in a room and all seem to get up in bad temper. My left hip joint is still a little troublesome.
Thurs 6. As beautiful a day as you can get in summer. Wind strong this afternoon as usual and turned cold. After tea the water barrel was found frozen over nearly half an inch thick. A light fall of snow at night. Played Major Morris a game of chess and beat him after a hard fight.
Fri 7. Pleasant morning. Chinook quickly took away the snow. Pleasant day. Hard work today but felt splendid. Morris on guard tonight – no chess. Did mending.
Sat 8. Finished sewing Conrad’s legs. Half holiday for washing purposes. Took a thorough wash. Chess with Morris in evening.
Sun 9. Fine day – church parade – afternoon a walk. Read Sunday paper – windy.
Mon 10. Repairing mill and machinery. Terrible wind but another warming. After dinner the wind amounted to a hurricane so that we could not work. Boards were hurled off the kilns and scattered over the yard. All went back to barracks without leave. Adopted a little boy. Read geography till bed time.
Tues 11. First snow of any consequence thus writers(?) been about 4 inches deep. Bt after breakfast our friendly Chinook began to blow softly and warmly and away took it all away. The boy was very pleasant. Sent off all Conrad’s lumber this morning. Hard work in the afternoon. Our adopted boy is a singularly smart, active little fellow. He speaks Blackfoot and Cree as well as English and seems to know a little of everything. He is a very good boy and has no bad ways, only he smokes so much like a man. The troop was paid today but only for one month. Great grumbling. Great settlement among ten gamblers and with the __________ man $29 for fees. Wrote up diary.
Thurs 21 [should be 20 if previous dates are right]. Too tired or otherwise engaged to keep up diary. Have had something resembling _______ last four days.
There was a little snow, a terrible wind and very little cold. In fact barring the wind, which was most annoying, it was excellent weather. Routine life has been the order of the day and chess the order of the night. Whiskey very prevalent. Very tired tonight. Meeting to consider Christmas dinner.
Jan 2. The less said about
the time fro 21st till today the better. Except there has been no
weather at all resembling winter.
Poem or marching song. There are two versions with slight differences:
Another song in his book: Silver Threads Among the Gold
Riders of the Plains
Hard by the
Where the freshest breezes blow,
Five grassy mounds lie side by side;
Five riders sleep below.
Neat _________ class their burial ground.
No ________ foot profane
The deep repose of those who were
These riders of the Plains.
As marble column decks the spot,
There is no graven stone
To blazon to a curious world
The deeds they may have done.
But the prairie flowers bloom lightly there,
The creeping wild rose
Its wafting of summer perfume air,
These riders of the plains.
Sleep on, sleep on, bold slumberers
Who lie this far west.
No braying steed shall feel your hand,
No bugle break your rest.
Sleep on till the great
Shall burst death’s mortal claim,
And ye hear the great reveille,
Ye Riders of the Plains.
[There is more to this poem or song that is unreadable.]
Christmas List Names:
Keltes Hall Sullivan
Brooks Kenny Ward
McDonald Bryle Graham
Boyd, E troop Robinson
Willstead, E troop
Capt. Walker Hall
A poem about Riders of the Plains, too difficult to read.
Packing Saddle in Marching Order
Near side of valise – 1 pr. Overhauls or breeches, 1 shirt, 1 towel, 1 pr. Gloves, clothes brush, 2 shoe brushes on top of roll.
Flag – 1 serge
Casks – hold all complete
Off side – 1 pair drawers, 2 U-shirt, 1 towel, 2 pair socks, hair brush, 1 button brush on top of roll
Near wallet – curry comb, brushes, _____ blacking
Centre baggage strap – 1 hobble
Off wallet – 2 horse _________ stable book
Horse bag near baggage strap
Cloak rolled 40 inches