Exploration of the Red River of Louisiana, in the year 1852 / by Randolph B. Marcy ; assisted by George B. McClellan. Page: 28 of 368
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SUDDEN RISE OF WATER.
May 18.-At 6 o'clock this morning we resumed our march, taking
a course leading to the crest of the "divide," as we thereby avoided many
ravines which extended off upon each side towards the stream, and were
always sure of a good road for our wagons. This ridge runs very nearly
on our course, but occasionally takes us some distance from Red river;
as, for example, our encampment of last night was about nine miles
from the river, and we only came in sight of it once in the course of our
As soon as the train was under way this morning, Capt McClellan
and myself crossed over the dividing ridge and rode to Red river. We
found the bed of the stream about seven hundred yards wide; the valley
enclosed with high bluffs upon each side; the soil in the bottom
arenaceous, supporting a very spare herbage; and the water very turbid,
and spread over a large surface of sand. The general course of the
river at this point is a few degrees north of west.
We are all in eager expectation of soon falling in with the buffalo,
as we have seen the fresh tracks of quite a large herd to-day. As we
advance, the country away from the borders of the water-courses becomes
more barren, and woodlands are less frequently met with; indeed, upon
the river there is no other timber but cotton wood (Populus angulata,)
and elm (Ulmus Americana,) and these in very small quantities;
for the most part the valley of the river along where we pased to-day is
entirely destitute of trees.
We have seen near here several varieties of birds, among which I observed
the meadow lark (Sturnella ludoviciana,).the pinnated grouse or
prairie hen (Tetrao cupido,) the Virginia partridge (Ortyx Virginianus,)
the killdeer (Charadrius vociferous,) and several varieties of small birds.
We encamped upon a small affluent of Cache creek, where on our arrival
we found no water except in occasional pools along the bed; however,
in the course of an hour some of the men who had gone a short distance
up the creek came running back into camp and crying, at the top of
their voices, "Here comes a plenty of water for us, boys!" And, indeed,
in a few minutes, much to our astonishment and delight, (as we were
doubtful about having a supply,) a perfect torrent came rushing down
the dry bed of the rivulet, filling it to the top of the banks, and continued
running, turbid and covered with froth, as long as we remained. Our
Delawares regarded this as a special favor from the Great Spirit, and
looked upon it as a favorable augury to the success of our enterprise.
To us it was a most inexplicable phenomenon, as the weather for the
last three days had been perfectly dry, with the sky cloudless. If the
t. eam had been of much magnitude we should have supposed that the
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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/m1/28/: accessed November 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .