Exploration of the Red River of Louisiana, in the year 1852 / by Randolph B. Marcy ; assisted by George B. McClellan. Page: 54 of 368
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June 16.-Striking our tents at three o'clock this morning, we followed
up the south bank of the river, which runs in a westerly course
for eight miles, when it suddenly turns to the southwest, and here the
elevated bluffs which we have had in view for several days past approach
the river upon each side, until there is but a narrow gorge or cation for
the passage of the stream. These bluffs are composed of calcareous sandstone
and clay, rising precipitously from the banks of the stream to the
height of three hundred feet, when they suddenly terminate in the
almost perfectly level plain of the "Llano estacado." Here the river
branches out into numerous ramifications, all running into the deep
gorges of the plain. Taking the largest, we continued up it, riding
directly in the bed of the stream for about five miles, when we reached
the source of this branch of the river; and by ascending upon the tablelands
above, we could see the heads of the other branches which we had
passed a few miles below.
The latitude at this place as determined by several observations of
Polaris, is 35 35' 3", and the longitude 101 55'. These results
make our position only about twenty-five miles from the Canadian river;
and as I am anxious to determine how our observations conform to those
we made in ascending that stream in 1849, I propose taking ten men,
and leaving the main body of the command to guard our oxen and
stores, to make a trip in a due north course to the Canadian. This will
serve to show the connexion between that stream and a certain known
point upon the head of the north branch of Red river; and is, in my
opinion, a geographical item which it is important to establish and confirm
by actual observation, particularly as the Canadian has by several
travellers been mistaken for Red river.
At our encampment of this evening is the last running-water we
have found in ascending this branch of Red river. We are near the
junction of the last branch of any magnitude that enters the river from
the north, and about three miles from the point where it debouches
from the plains, in a grove of large cotton-wood trees upon the south
bank of the river. Under the roots of one of the largest of these trees,
which stands near the river, and below all others in the grove, I have
buried a bottle, containing the following memorandum: "On the 16th
day of June, 1852, an exploring expedition, composed of Captain R. B.
Marcy, Captain G. B. McClellan, Lieutenant J. Updegraff, and Doctor
G. C. Shumard, with fifty-five men of company D, fifth infantry, encamped
here, having this day traced the north branch of Red river to
its sources. Accompanying the expedition were Captain J. H. Strain,
of Fort Washita, and Mr. J. RL Suydam, of New York city." This
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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/m1/54/: accessed December 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .