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a charge against Confederate forces at the battle of Chantilly,
September 1, 1862.

However, as soon as Stevens' appointment as head of the north-
ern survey was confirmed, he started with characteristic thorough-
ness and vigor to make his plans for the survey. His chief assistant
was Capt. George B. McClellan, who achieved greater prominence
than his chief in the Civil War, and who was directed to start the
survey from the Pacific coast side. Stevens organized his own
party to begin the survey at the eastern terminus of St. Paul and
on May 9, 1853, left Washington for the West. His companion as
he left Washington was John M. Stanley whom Stevens with good
judgment had selected as the artist for the expedition.

How extensive Stevens had made his plans and carried them
through since he received his appointment on April 8, can be
judged by the comment of the St. Paul correspondent to the New
York Tribune. Writing on May 25, two days before Stevens and
Stanley arrived in the frontier town, he stated:

Gov. Stevens is said to be a regular go-ahead man and so far the work shows
for itself. His men, baggage, and about 150 mules have already arrived, and
the work has been going on for over a week. How he has managed so to
expedite his affairs is a problem.

The shipments of merchandise and emigration to St. Paul this spring have
been enormous; so that many of our merchants, who purchased even in the
winter, have not yet received their supplies. The Governor has crowded them
off and hurried his effects along. It is not easy to define how much the people
of the West admire such a character. Ten years is a lifetime here, and twenty,
time out of memory. 25

24. In the above discussion I have followed Hazard Stevens, The Life of Isaac Ingalls
Stevens (Boston, 1900), v. 1, ch. 15. For his appointment as survey head, see v. 12 of the
Reports, p. 31.

25. New York Tribune, June 3, 1853, p. 5.


Stevens and Stanley arrived in St. Paul on the evening of May
27. The camp established by Stevens' vanguard was about an
hour's ride from St. Paul. Some idea of the drive and intensity of
the survey's commanding officer is revealed when he recorded in
his official diary: "Starting from St. Paul at 3& a. m. on the 28th, I
reached our camp in about an hour, and had the pleasure of rousing
the gentlemen of the expedition from their sleep." 26

Completion of organization for the start of the survey required
over a week and in that interval Stanley was busy. A sketch of
St. Paul (reproduced between pp. 16, 17) and one of the celebrated
"Minne-ha-ha, or the Laughing Water" made immortal by Long-
fellow are among Stanley's efforts which have survived as illus-
trations in the official report.

At St. Paul, too, an assistant artist, Max Strobel, was employed to
aid Stanley. Before the expedition started, a St. Paul reporter saw
some of Strobel's efforts and wrote: "I have already seen some of
the Artist's work, and can promise the public when Gov. Steven's
Report is made up and given to the world, there will be something
as pleasing to the eye as to the mind." 27 Strobel, however, could
not stand the intense pace and effort upon which Stevens insisted
and turned back from the expedition before it was long on its way
westward. 28 Little else is known about Strobel, although one of his
sketches ( a view of St. Paul ) is known in lithograph. A comment,
"Mr. Strobel is a very accomplished artist and on his return [from
the Stevens survey] has rendered valuable service to Minnesota by
his sketches of the Minnesota river from Lac qui Parle to Traverse
des Sioux," shows that he is worthy of inclusion in our group of
Western artists. In the fall of 1853, he joined Fremont's expedition
at Westport and apparently withstood the hardships of that winter
overland journey. None of his work on this expedition, or that made
subsequently, is known at present. 29

Stevens had his organization of the survey completed by June 6
and his command started the westward journey in various groups.
The general route of the expedition was that made famous by their

26. Reports, v. 12, p. 36.

27. New York Tribune, June 3, 1853, p. 5. This account lists Stanley and Strobel
as artists and although in the quotation above the plural artists' is employed, it must apply
to Strobel's work as it was written before Stanley reached St. Paul.

28. Ibid., August 3, 1853, p. 5. Strobel was not the only one who turned back as a
result of Stevens' drive and insistence upon his way of doing things. This same account
stated that there were over 25 who had returned and Stevens' official account also de-
scribed his difference of opinion with members of the survey resulting in withdrawal from
the expedition. Stevens mentions Strobel's discharge because he was "inefficient," Reports,
v. 12, p. 55.

29. For the comment on Strobel see New York Tribune, August 3, 1853, p. 5; for a
reproduction of Strobel's view of St. Paul, see I. N. Phelps Stokes and Daniel C. Haskell,
American Historical Prints . . . (New York, 1933), plate 85a with comment on

jge 111; for Strobel with Fremont, see S. N. Carvalho, Incidents of Travel and Adventure
' Far West (New York, 1859), p. 29.


predecessors 50-years earlier, Lewis and Clark; a route which has
been concisely summarized as "up the Missouri and down the
Columbia." It is true that little of the journey was by water as
of necessity it could not be from the nature of the survey and the
starting point, St. Paul, was some distance from the Missouri river. 30
The expedition, however, headed westward across Minnesota terri-
tory and into present North Dakota where the route of the expedi-
tion roughly paralleled the Missouri.

Much of the country traversed was mapped for the first time and
even after Lewis and Clark's trail was actually picked up, the only
guide to the region were the notes of those classic early explorers.
Fort Union, the famous frontier outpost on the Missouri, and 715
miles distant from St. Paul, was reached on August 1.

Stanley has left us some notable illustrations of a number of the
incidents in the seven or eight weeks of this part of their Western
journey, some 13 plates in the official report representing his work.
Three of these illustrations are of particular interest: "Herd of
Bison, Near Lake Jessie" (reproduced between pp. 16, 17), "Camp
Red River Hunters," "Distribution of Goods to the Assiniboines" (re-
produced between pp. 16, 17 ) .

The first of these illustrations is particularly important as it is one
of the few pictures still extant made by an actual observer of the
enormous number of buffalo on the Western plains before the day of
the railroad. A writer to whom Stanley talked concerning this pic-
ture recorded Stanley's comments in this paragraph:

The artist in sketching this scene, stood on an elevation in advance of the
foreground, whence, with a spy-glass, he could see fifteen miles in any direction,
and yet he saw not the limit of the herd.

Who can count the multitude? You may only look and wonder! Or, if you
seek to estimate the "numbers without number," what sum will you name, ex-
cept "hundreds of thousands?"

And Stevens who, unlike Stanley, had never seen the buffalo in
their natural range, was also greatly impressed.

About five miles from camp [he wrote] we ascended to the top of a high hill,
and for a great distance ahead every square mile seemed to have a herd of
buffalo upon it. Their number was variously estimated by the members of the
party some as high as half a million. I do not think it is any exaggeration to

30. Actually Stevens instructed one group of his expedition to ascend the Missouri
from St. Louis to Fort Union and to make meteorological, astronomical and topographical
observations above St. Joseph, Mo. Nine of the survey made the river trip, see Reports,
v. 12, pp. 79-82. The general course of the Stevens party through present North Dakota
was such, as one of the party stated, "to turn the Great Bend of the Missouri, and to
cross its tributaries, where the least water was to be found." New York Tribune, Sep-
tember 13, 1853, p. 5. Roughly it would correspond to a route that would follow north
of U. S. 52 from Fargo to Minot and then U. S. 52 westward. Jessie lake (Griggs county),
for example, which is mentioned later in the text was on the Stevens route as was the
Butte de Morale, of which Stanley made a sketch which was reproduced in the Reports.
The Butte de Morale is some seven miles from Harvey, N. D., almost in the center of the


set it down at 200,000. I had heard of the myriads of these animals inhabiting
these plains, but I could not realize the truth of these accounts till to-day, when
they surpassed anything I could have imagined from the accounts which I had
received. The reader will form a better idea of this scene from the accompany-
ing sketch taken by Mr. Stanley on the ground, than from any description. 31

The party at the time these vast herds of buffalo were first
encountered was traveling westward through present east-central
North Dakota (Griggs county) and were approaching the Mis-
souri river country proper.

A few days after Stanley sketched the buffalo (July 10), the
survey encountered a large train of Red river hunters who were
coming southward on a hunting and trading expedition from their
settlement, Pembina, almost on the Canadian border. The Red
river hunters were Europeans: Scotch, Irish, English, Germans,
with Indian wives and their half-breed children. Over thirteen
hundred persons were in the train and they carried their belongings
in the well-known Pembina carts, two-wheeled affairs, and housed
themselves at night in over a hundred skin lodges.

The men dress usually in woollens of various colors [wrote Stevens]. The
coat generally worn, called the Hudson Bay coat, has a capot attached to it.
The belts are finely knit, of differently colored wool or worsted yarn, and
are worn after the manner of sashes. Their powder horn and shot bag, at-
tached to bands finely embroidered with beads or worked with porcupine quills,
are worn across each shoulder, making an X before and behind. Many also
have a tobacco pouch strung to their sashes, in which is tobacco mixed with
kini-kinick, (dried bark of the osier willow scraped fine,) a fire steel, punk,
and several flints. Add to these paraphernalia a gun, and a good idea will be
formed of the costume of the Red river hunter.

The women are industrious, dress in gaudy calicoes, are fond of beads
and finery, and are remarkably apt at making bead work, moccasins, sewing


Stanley's sketch shows their camp but only a few of the hunters
and one of their carts although Stevens noted that there were over
800 of the carts in their train. The camp was visited with interest
by the members of the survey and at evening when the two expedi-
tions camped together a band of Chippewa Indians who were
traveling with the hunters entertained the whites with a prairie
dance. The caravans passed on, the survey forging northwestward,
the hunters, in part at least, going on to St. Paul for trade. 33

81. The first quotation on the buffalo is from Stanley's Western Wilds (see Footnote
46), p. 8; Stevens' comment from Reports, v. 12, p. 59.

32. The date was July 16; Stevens in ibid., pp. 65, 66.

33. The St. Paul correspondent of the New York Tribune reported the arrival of 133
carts of the hunters in that frontier town on July 20, see New York Tribune, August 3,
1853, p. 5. Mention is made of their meeting with the Stevens party.

An excellent description of the Pembina carts and of the Red river colonists may be
found in a letter to the New York Tribune, July 27, 1857, p. 5.


The survey was now nearing Fort Union and four days before
their arrival at the post, they reached an encampment of some
1,200 Assiniboines. Stevens, in his role of Indian commissioner,
met them in council, heard their speechs and complaints and dis-
tributed to them supplies from his store of goods carried for such
purpose. Stanley was one of the group selected by Stevens to the
council and he took the opportunity to add to his store of sketches. 34

As the survey neared the famous frontier outpost of Fort Union,
Stevens ordered a dress parade of his forces as they marched upon
the fort. A Philadelphia Quaker, who was a member of the survey,
wrote home the day after their arrival (August 2). Unfortunately
Stanley made no sketch of the event but the Quaker's lively account
still conveys after nearly a hundred years, some of the color and
interest of the grand entry.

We arrived here yesterday afternoon [he wrote] and were received with
a salute of 13 guns. During the march in, the Governor took his horse, the
first time in several days, and rode at the head of the column. An American
flag, made on the way, to the manufacture of which I contributed a red flannel,
was carried in the forward rank, and flags, with appropriate devices, represent-
ing the parties carrying them, were respectively carried by the various corps.
The Engineer party, a large locomotive running down a buffalo, with the
motto "Westward Ho!" Our meteorological party the Rocky Mountain,
with a barometer mounted, indicating the purpose to measure by that simple
instrument, the hight of those vast peaks, with inscription "Excelsior/' The
astronomical party had a device representing the azure field dotted with
stars, the half -moon and a telescope so placed as to indicate that by it could
these objects be entirely comprehended. Teamsters, packman, hunters, &c,
also carried their insignia, and thy brother acted as "aid" to the Governor
in the carrying of orders. 35

The survey remained at Fort Union for over a week while ani-
mals were rested, supplies added, and plans made for the weeks
ahead. Stevens offered any member of his party an honorable dis-
charge at this post and a return to St. Louis but so interested had
they become and so accustomed to Stevens intensity, that not a man
took up the offer. Here at Fort Union, too, we have the first direct
statement of Stanley's activities with the daguerreotype. "Mr.
Stanley, the artist," wrote Stevens, "was busily occupied during our

34. Stevens, Reports, v. 12, pp. 73-76. Included in the panorama of Stanley's Western
Wilds (see Footnote 46), p. 10, was a painting of the Assiniboine council; the illustration
in the text depicts the distribution of goods. Another member of Stevens' party also wrote
an interesting account of the Assiniboine council, see New York Tribune, September 13,
1853, p. 5.

35. Ibid. Stevens, Reports, v. 12, p. 78, also makes brief comment on the entry to
Fort Union. The writer of this letter was probably Elwood Evans, as he was a native of
Philadelphia and accompanied Stevens' expedition. See Hubert H. Bancroft's Works, v. 31
p. 54.


stay at Fort Union with his daguerreotype apparatus, and the In-
dians were greatly pleased with their daguerreotypes/' 36

Doubtless he made daguerreotype views of the fort itself but no
record of these or of his original sketches is now available. The
fort itself appears in the background of one of Stanley's illustrations
of the official report and is among the few views of this famed out-
post now extant (reproduced between pp. 16, 17).

Fort Benton, also on the Missouri, the next stopping place on the
route of the survey, was reached on September 1, some three weeks
being required to make the trip from Fort Union. Stanley's activi-
ties in this interval are represented by nine illustrations, including
several Indian councils, and a view of Fort Benton. The last view
shows the general character of the country around Fort Benton.
Indian tepees beyond the fort, however, are drawn taller than the
fort itself possibly an error of the lithographer so that the fort
suffers by comparison. (A much more interesting view of Fort
Benton itself was made by Gustav Sohon (reproduced between
pp. 16, 17), who also contributed to the Stevens report, but whose
work we shall discuss later. )

It was at Fort Benton, however, that Stanley's most interesting
experience of the entire trip was begun. Stevens continually stressed
the importance of satisfactory relations with the Indians through
whose country the railroad might pass. To this end, the many coun-
cils and distribution of goods with the tribes encountered had been
made. At St. Louis he had induced Alexander Culbertson who had
lived in the Indian country for 20 years, to accompany him and had
appointed him special agent to the Blackfoot Indians. 37 The move
was an exceedingly fortunate one in several ways, for Culbertson's
experience and the fact that his wife was a Blackfoot saved the
survey several times from difficulties with the Indians. Stevens,
Stanley, Culbertson and others left the main command at Fort Ben-
ton to visit the Piegans, one of the tribes of the Blackfoot confed-
eracy, who were reported encamped some 150 miles north of the
fort. They had not gone far when a messenger from the fort over-
took them to announce that an advance party from the Pacific coast
detachment had arrived from the west. Stevens and Culbertson
turned back to arrange further plans for the survey but Stanley

36. Reports, v. 12, p. 87. Another comment on Stanley's use of the daguerreotype will
be found in this same volume, p. 103.

37. Letter of Stevens dated "Fort Benton, Upper Missouri, September 17, 1853,"
and published originally in the Washington Union for November 23; see, also, New York
Tribune, November 24, 1853, p. 6.




A pencil sketch by H. K. Bush-Brown, 1858.
Courtesy Library of Congress.

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volunteered to proceed to the Piegan village as Stevens was intent
on inviting all the Blackfeet to a grand council at Fort Benton.

With an interpreter, three voyageurs, and a Blackfoot guide ob-
tained at the fort, Stanley pressed further north in search of the
Indian camp. On the third day after leaving Stevens, Stanley wrote
in his report:

The first rays of the sun found us in the saddle, prepared for a long march.
But one day more remained for me to find the Piegan camp. The night had
been clear and cold, silvering the scanty herbage with a light frost; and while
packing up, the men would stop to warm their fingers over a feeble fire of
buffalo-chips and skulls. After a short march of twelve miles, we reached the
divide between Milk and Bow rivers.

At 1 o'clock I descended to a deep valley, in which flows an affluent of
Beaver river. Here was the Piegan camp, of ninety lodges, under their chief
Low Horn, one hundred and sixty-triree miles north, 20 west, of Fort Benton.

Little Dog conducted me, with my party, to his lodge, and immediately the
chiefs and braves collected in the "Council Lodge," to receive my message.
The arrival of a "pale face" was an unlocked for event, and hundreds followed
me to the council, consisting of sixty of their principal men.

The usual ceremony of smoking being concluded, I delivered my "talk,"
which was responded to by their chief saying, "the whole camp would move at
an early hour the following morning to council with the chief sent by their
Great Father." The day was spent in feasting with the several chiefs, all seem-
ing anxious to extend their hospitality; and while feasting with one chief,
another had his messenger at the door of the lodge to conduct me to another. 38

Early the next morning, the Piegans broke camp and "in less than
one hour the whole encampment was drawn out in two parallel
lines on the plains, forming one of the most picturesque scenes I
have ever witnessed/' wrote Stanley. Stanley reported, too, that he
had been able to secure a number of sketches while on the northern
trip, the most interesting of those surviving being "Blackfeet Indians
[hunting buffalo] Three Buttes." 39

38. Reports, v. 1, Stevens report, pp. 447-449. The portion quoted has been con-
densed somewhat. Stevens also described Stanley's excursion, see ibid., v. 12, pp. 107, 114,
115. The location of the Piegan camp given by Stanley would indicate that he went well
north of the U. S. -Canadian border into present Alberta.

39. Ibid. Evidently this sketch was also used in the Stanley panorama (Stanley's
Western Wilds, p. 15), and Stanley had also apparently planned to use it in his projected
portfolio (letter press of portfolio p. 8, see Footnote 7). Other views included in the
panorama which belong to the same group of sketches were a view of Fort Benton, "Cutting
Up a Buffalo," and "A Traveling Party [of Blackfeet]."

Stevens, in a letter dated "Sept. 16, 1853, Fort Benton, Upper Missouri" (reprinted
from the Boston Post in the National Intelligencer, November 26, 1853, p. 2), wrote a
friend that Stanley was at the time of writing in the midst of the Blackfeet and went on
to say: "We have traversed the region of the terrible Blackfeet, have met them in the
war parties and their camps, and have received nothing but kindness and hospitality."
Stanley, too, reported concerning the Blackfeet: "During my sojourn among them I was
treated with the greatest kindness and hospitality, my property guarded with vigilance,
so that I did not lose the most trifling article." Reports, v. 1, p. 449.

Evidently Stevens' employment of Culbertson and his Blackfoot wife was a master
stroke, for the Blackfeet usually gave trouble to whites entering their territory. The
liberal distribution of goods and presents, in one case amounting to a value of $600, to
Indians encountered, was also no doubt a contributing factor to amicable relations.



Stanley was gone for 11 days on this side excursion, and shortly
after his return to Fort Benton the survey again started westward.
The detailed description of the remaining journey becomes com-
plex, as there were many side excursions and a number of divi-
sions made of the party. Stevens, too, was anxious to assume his
territorial duties, so with several of his party, including Stanley,
he left the main command and pressed on to Fort Vancouver ( pres-
ent Vancouver, Wash.) which was reached on November 16. As
they left Fort Benton on September 22, the last thousand miles of
the journey were covered in about seven weeks. Their route in
general from Benton was southwest to Fort Owen ( present Stevens-
ville, Ravalli county, western Montana), northwestward to the
Coeur D'Alene Mission (present Cataldo, Idaho, on U. S. 10),
northward to Fort Colville (near present Colville, Wash.) and
then down the Columbia to Fort Vancouver, Stevens and Stanley
descending the Columbia in a canoe from Fort Walla- Walla ( some
25 miles west of the present city of Walla- Walla) to Vancouver.
Captain McClellan's party working eastward was met on October
18 at Fort Colville where Stevens remained several days discussing
and planning with McClellan the future work of the survey. Sev-
eral days had also been spent at the Coeur D'Alene Mission just
before McClellan was met. One of the most attractive of the many
illustrations in the official reports is Stanley's sketch of the mission. 40

The last stage of the survey is illustrated by some 30 Stanley
sketches in addition to the sketch of the mission. 41 Among the more
interesting of these views are"Fort Owen," "Fort Okinakane," "Hud-
son Bay Mill," "Chemakane Mission," "Old Fort Walla Walla" and
"Mount Baker."

Very shortly after the arrival of Stevens and Stanley at Fort

40. The site of the Coeur D'Alene Mission was established by Father De Smet about
1845; it was designed and built by Father Anthony Ravelli, S. J., and opened for services
in 1852 or 1853; its use was discontinued in 1877 but the old mission was restored in 1928.
It is known locally at present as the Cataldo Mission. See the Rev. E. R. Cody, History
of the Coeur D'Alene Mission (Caldwell, Idaho, J930). I am also indebted to the public
library of Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, for information about the mission.

41. The number varies depending upon whether one is using the 1859 or 1860 print-
ing of the final Stevens' report. Some of the differences to be noted are: ( 1 ) the lithography
in the 1859 printing (Supplement to v. 1) was by Julius Bien of New York in the two
copies I have seen; in the 1860 printing (v. 12, pt. 1), the lithography was by Sarony,

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