Exploration of the Red River of Louisiana, in the year 1852 / by Randolph B. Marcy ; assisted by George B. McClellan. Page: 18 of 368
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EARLY EXPLORATION OF RED RIVER.
and unknown, no white man having ever ascended the stream to its
sources. The only information we had upon the subject was derived
from Indians and semi-civilized Indian traders, and was of course very
unreliable, indefinite, and unsatisfactory; in a word. the country embraced
within the basin of Upper Red river had always been to us a
"terra incognita." Several enterprising and experienced travellers had
at different periods attempted the examination of this river, but, as yet,
none had succeeded in reaching its sources.
At a very early period, officers were sent out by the French government
to explore Red river, but their examinations appear to have extended
no further than the country occupied by the Natchitoches and
Caddoes in the vicinity of the present town of Natchitoches, Louisiana.
Subsequent examinations had extended our acquaintance with its upper
tributaries, but we were still utterly in the dark in regard to the true
geographical position of its sources.
Three years after the cession to the United States, by the First Consul
of the French republic, of that vast territory then known as Louisiana,
a small party, called the "Exploring expedition of. Red river," consisting
of Capt. Sparks, Mr. Freeman, Lieut. Humphry, and Dr. Custis, with
seventeen private soldiers, two non-commissioned officers, and a black
servant, embarked from Saint Catherine's landing near Natchez, Mississippi,
with instructions to ascend Red river to its sources. They descended
the Mississippi, and on the 3d of May, 1806, entered Red river,
expecting to be able to ascend in their boats to the country of the
Pawnee (Pique) Indians. Here it was their intention to leave their
boats, and, after packing provisions on horses, which they were to purchase
from the Pawnees, to proceed (as expressed in their orders) to the
top of the mountains, the distance being, as they conjectured, about
three hundred miles.
It is evident from the foregoing that Red river was supposed to issue
from a mountainous country, and the preparations for this expedition
were made accordingly. This party encountered many difficulties and
obstructions in the navigation of the river among the numerous bayous
in the vicinity of the great raft, but finally overcame them all, and
found themselves uton the river above this formidable obstacle. They
were, however, soon met by a large force of Spanish troops, the commander
of which' ordered them to proceed no further; and as their
numbers were too small for a thought of resistance, they were forced to
turn back and abandon the enterprise.
Another expedition was fitted out in 1806 by our government, and
placed under the command of that enterprising young traveller, Lieut.
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Marcy, Randolph Barnes. Exploration of the Red River of Louisiana, in the year 1852 / by Randolph B. Marcy ; assisted by George B. McClellan., book, 1854; Washington, DC. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth6105/m1/18/: accessed April 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .