Exploration of the Red River of Louisiana, in the year 1852 / by Randolph B. Marcy ; assisted by George B. McClellan. Page: 69 of 368
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FORKS OF THE RIVER.
trees, except a species of red cedar, Juniperus Virginiana, and a few
The soil is sandy upon the ridges, with blue and red clay in the valleys,
and gypsum rocks predominate throughout the formation. The
high bluffs to the south of us have gradually approached the river until,
near our encampment, they are only about two hundred yards distant.
June 30.-At daylight this morning we were in the saddle, and,
taking the bed of the river, set out at a brisk pace, hoping to find some
good water during the day. Our course was very circuitous, from
being obliged to follow the windings made by the numerous detours
in the river. The lofty escarpments which bounded the valley upon
each side, rose precipitously from the banks of the river to the enormous
height of from five to eight hundred feet; and in many places there
was not room for a man to pass between the foot of the acclivities and
the river. It was altogether impossible to travel upon either side of the
river, so much broken and cut up was the ground; and the only place
where a passage for a horse can be found is directly along the defile of
the river bed. We found frequent small rivulets flowing into the river
through the deep glens upon each side; but, most unfortunately for us,
the water in them all was acid and nauseating. We made our noon halt
at one of these streams, after travelling fifteen miles over the burning
sands of the river bed.
At this time we had become so much affected by the frequent and
irresistible use of the water, that most of us experienced a constant
burning pain in the stomach, attended with loss of appetite, and the
most vehement and feverish thirst. We endeavored to disguise the
taste of the water by making coffee with it, but it retained the same
disagreeable properties in that form that it had in the natural state.
At four in the evening, we again pushed forward .up the river, praying
most devoutly that we might reach the termination of the gypsum
formation before night, and that the river, which was still of very considerable
magnitude, would branch out and soon come to a termination.
Four miles from our halting-place we passed a large affluent coming
in from the north, above which there was a very perceptible diminution
in the main stream; and in going a few miles further, we passed several
more, causing a still greater contraction in its dimensions. All these
affluents were similar in character to the parent stream, bordered with
lofty and precipitous bluffs, with gypsum veins running through them
similar to those upon the main river.
Towards evening we arrived at a point where the river divided into
two forks, of about equal dimensions. We followed the left, which
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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/m1/69/: accessed March 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .