Harry Young.

Hard knocks : a life story of the vanishing West online

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"enough." Burke arose, walked over to where his coat

The great mountaineer and guide in the Black Hills, S. D. (Sketch)


and cap were; the soldier being unable to rise, two or
three men stepped forward and helped him to his
feet, and I assure you he was a sight. Burke was
also very much disfigured. Captain Burke facing the
soldier, then said: "Now go back to your quarters
and behave yourself and always remember that there
is one man at this post you cannot whip." He then
marched the company back to their quarters, and in
the future this soldier was a "good dog."

The news of this fight soon spread around the
country, and I assure you that Burke raised a great
many notches in the estimation of all who knew him.

We arrived at Fort Laramie in due time, nothing
of particular interest occurring on the trip. We re-
mained in Fort Laramie about a week, having our
harnesses repaired, mules shod and wagons loaded.
One beautiful morning orders were given for us to
return to Jenny's camp, Burke still being in command.

At this time a lieutenant arrived at Fort Laramie
from Arizona. His name was Ray. He had served
under General Crook in the Apache War. He was
a "West Pointer" as we termed those who had grad-
uated there and had a very exalted opinion of him-
self, and hated a citizen and especially a teamster.
He was appointed quartermaster on this return trip.
To have the reader understand the authority invested
in a quartermaster, I must explain that they have
entire charge of the transportation and are held re-
sponsible to the commanding officer for anything
occurring. The first day out this quartermaster began
abusing the teamsters for any trifling thing they
might do, and was very profane in his remarks, often
calling them very vile names. We teamsters knew we
had struck a tartar and tried our best to keep out
of trouble with him.

About the third day out this fellow issued an
order to the effect that all teamsters, after unhitching



their mules, after arrival in camp, should put their
halters on them and lead them fifty paces from the
camp. His reason for doing this was that the mules,
in being turned loose at the wagon, might stumble
against the guy ropes of the officers* tents and annoy
them. When unharnessing the mules, as soon as the
teamster has released the hames from the collars,
unbuckled the belly bands and unbuckled the collar,
the mules are gone with half the harness, if the
teamster is not very quick. The mules to some extent
are trained this way and to break them in to waiting
until they were completely unharnessed would be a
difficult job, as they were always very anxious to get
out to feed, since we did not carry feed for them on
these expeditions, not having room; the mules living
entirely on grass. As soon as they were released,
two or three teamsters were detailed each day to
herd them. Consequently, we paid no attention to the
order. The quartermaster did not notice this for a
couple of days.

We had a teamster in the outfit named Phillips.
He was a Missourian ; very long and gangling, and the
butt of all our jokes. The quartermaster happened to
come along when Phillips was unhitching. He drove
four mules attached to an ambulance. He had just
turned two of his mules loose, when Ray called him
a vile name, saying, "Don't you know that I issued

an order that you d teamsters were to halter and

lead your mules fifty paces out of camp ?"

Phillips did not answer him but proceeded to
unharness another mule. The quartermaster rushed
up to him and kicked him. Quicker than lightning,
Phillips shot out that great, large fist of his, hitting
the quartermaster between the eyes, knocking him
down. Ray had a six-shooter in a scabbard, which was
covered by a flap and buttoned, the same being at-
tached to his belt. Reaching around he attempted to


unbutton this flap to draw his six-shooter. Phillips
rushed to the front box of the ambulance where he
carried his gun, getting it and throwing it down on
Ray, telling him not to draw that six-shooter or he
would kill him.

Ray exclaimed, "Don't shoot, teamster, don't
shoot." Then, getting up, walked away, Phillips re-
suming the unhitching.

In about thirty minutes a corporal and three men
put Phillips under arrest, and escorted him up to
Captain Burke's tent, where Ray had already gone.
The first question Burke asked the teamster was, "In
what post are you employed?"

He replied, "Fort Laramie."

Burke then said, "The quartermaster informs me
that you disobeyed his orders and also struck him.
Is this a fact?"

Phillips replied, "Yes, sir."

"Why did you do so?"

Phillips then explained to Captain Burke the whole
circumstances, also telling him that it would be almost
impossible for a teamster to obey this order, and that
he was very sorry it led up to any trouble. Burke
then turned to the quartermaster, saying, "Lieutenant,
I think you are too severe on our teamsters. This
mode of treatment of them might do in Arizona but
not in this country, and unless you change your ways,
some of these Fort Laramie teamsters will severely
injure you, for I know many of them and they are a
hard set."

This was a good lesson to Ray and before the
expedition was over we had very little trouble getting
along with him.

With this same expedition was another young
lieutenant; I can't remember his name, but he had
recently arrived from West Point. One day, my team


being in the lead, I saw sitting on the prairie by the
side of a river, Captain Burke and three officers. Burke
motioned me to drive in toward them. Then I knew
we were going to camp there for the night. When I
got up to where they were, I said, "Captain, where do
you want this wagon to stand?"

He replied, "Unhitch where you are, teamster."

I had unhitched four of the mules, when this
blustering, little lieutenant came along, and in a loud
voice asked me why I was unhitching there. I told
him, by orders of Captain Burke. He fumed around,
finally ordering me to pull the wagon up ten paces
further. I paid no attention to him and kept on un-
hitching the other team of mules. I thought the
fellow would go crazy. Finally a mild voice said,
"Lieutenant, what seems to be the trouble with you
and that gentleman?" with emphasis on the gentle-
man, for it was very, very seldom a teamster was
called a gentleman by an army officer.

However, the lieutenant saluted and replied, "I
wish this wagon moved ten paces."

Burke then said : "No, no, lieutenant, I ordered the
gentleman to unhitch there." I will ask the reader
how could any teamster dislike this Captain Burke.

I had been around government long enough to
know that this lieutenant, if he stayed with the ex-
pedition long enough, and having it in for me, would
make it unpleasant for me if the opportunity pre-
sented itself, and sure enough it was but a few days
before he supposedly got his revenge.

The quartermaster had issued an order that all
teamsters should continuously ride their near saddle
mule while in motion. On all government wagons
teamsters would construct what we called a lazy
board. This was pushed under the wagon-bed between


the fore and hind wheels on the near or left-hand side
of the wagon, and when we got tired riding the saddle
mule, we would pull out this lazy board and sit on it.
This order was just, as a teamster sitting on the lazy
board could not see all of his team. However, I was
sitting on this lazy board when along came my friend,
the lieutenant, and said, "Get up on that saddle mule."
I did so. He rode by my side, he being mounted, for
a half hour in hopes that I might say something to
him, but not one word from me. When we arrived in
camp and unhitched, a corporal walked down to our
mess and informed me that the commanding officer
wanted to see me. I went up there, and found,
standing in the tent, the lieutenant. Captain Burke
informed me that the lieutenant had reported me for
disobeying orders by riding on my lazy board. I
admitted the fact. Burke then turned to the lieuten-
ant and said : "I am going to give this teamster a very
severe sentence." This rather startled me. However,
turning to me, Captain Burke said: "Teamster, go
down to your mess, get an axe and immediately
destroy that lazy board. After you have done so,
bring the pieces and lay them at the door of this
lieutenant's tent." I thanked him and backed out of
the tent. I have no recollection of that lazy board
being destroyed by me.

In due time we arrived at Jenny Camp and found
that Professor Jenny had satisfied himself that gold
was in paying quantities in that portion of the Black
Hills. I will here mention why this portion of the
country was called the Black Hills. On the outskirts
of these hills and visible from the plains were a great
many pine trees, very black, but upon getting close to
them, they were a pronounced dark green. Thus the
name "Black Hills."

It was from here that Professor Jenny and Pro-
fessor McGillacuty sent their first report to the


authorities in Washington. This report was trans-
ported by carrier to Fort Laramie and from there
mailed to Washington. We remained in camp there
awaiting orders, which came after the authorities
had received this report. They ordered Jenny to
further explore these hills. This order was imparted
to Colonel Dodge and in three days we were again
on the move.

As mentioned previously, I stated that California
Joe was our guide. To give the reader some idea of
the task that this man was attempting in an unknown
country, I will explain that there were one hundred
six-mule teams and ten companies of soldiers, part
of which were cavalry. The mules and cavalry horses
had to have grass and water to subsist on. The men
also had to have water, and the commissaries that
sustained these men, had to be transported with them.
Bear in mind that there were no roads in this
country and suitable ground had to be selected by
the guide in order that the teams and soldiers could
get through. Not once on the whole trip did this man
make a mistake, and never one dry camp did we have
to make.

After entering the hills, California Joe traveled
entirely on foot, accompanied by a large black hound.
Wearing an old cavalry overcoat, cavalry pants tucked
in his boot tops, his gun in hand, and on his head an
old black, broad-brimmed slouch hat, he would start
out about the break of day, and before the command
was ready to move, Joe would ascend to a hilltop and
with his hands shading his eyes, would scan the
country in all directions. He would then return to
camp and report to Colonel Dodge, telling him the
direction he wanted the teams to travel that day and
that at times he would intercept us, if he wanted the
route changed. This much accomplished, California
Joe would then fill a buckskin sack with food enough


to last twenty-four hours for both himself and the
dog, carrying the sack himself.

We usually followed the ridges, sometimes descend-
ing to the river bed, and a few times it would be
necessary to rough-lock with chains, the wagon wheels,
and with a rope attached to the hind axle, then taking
a turn with the rope around a tree; in this way se-
curing the wagon, as otherwise it would have been
impossible to have gotten down to the river bed. We
never, at any time, turned back. Joe would appear
on an average of twice a day to see how we were
getting along.

I remember one afternoon, after having had a
pretty hard time of it all the morning, Colonel Dodge
stopped the command to rest, when Joe happened to
come along. Being driver of the headquarter wagon,
I was always close to Colonel Dodge and his officers,
and overheard Dodge ask Joe where we were going
to camp that night.

Joe replied, "Colonel, do you see those two
mountains off to the west? There we will find the
headwaters of some river."

"How do you know this, Joe? You say you have
never been in here before."

All the reply Joe would make was: "I can tell by
the lay of the country."

Dodge smiled and said: "Joe, where is due north
and south?"

Immediately Joe broke off a piece of dry grass
and holding it between his thumb and finger, said:
"Colonel, take out your store compass and if this
piece is not pointing due north, I will eat my old hat."

Sure enough it was. The colonel looked at Joe a
moment, and then said: "Joe, I would follow you
through the wilds of Africa."


"Well," said Joe, shrugging his shoulders, "I could
take you and the outfit through there."

To which Dodge replied: "I believe you." Then
turning to the bugler, he ordered him to blow the
march. We then moved on and in three hours we
found the headwaters of Red River, and a beautiful
spot it was. Surrounding it was a small, open valley,
with plenty of grass, and to the astonishment of
Professor Jenny, he found timothy hay growing there
three feet high. How the seed ever got there was
always a mystery.

Poor Joe was killed in 1878 by a teamster named
Graham. They had been imbibing pretty freely at
Cuney & Coffee's ranch, six miles above Fort Laramie
on the Laramie River, and got into a dispute regard-
ing our trip through the Black Hills, Graham having
been a teamster at the time. They finally agreed to go
out back of this ranch, put their backs together and
walk fifteen steps in opposite directions, then turn
and fire. Graham's nerve deserting him, friends
interfered and stopped the quarrel. About two months
later some teams were camped near Red Cloud Agency,
Graham being one of the teamsters. Joe, who was
living in that section of the country and seeing the
teams camped, walked toward them; Graham seeing
him, seized his gun and resting it on the wagon wheel,
shot poor old Joe, killing him instantly. Graham
immediately took to the hills, but was followed by a
posse and captured three days later and was hanged
to a tree. Thus ended one of the greatest mountain-
eers the west ever produced, and also ended the
career of a black-hearted murderer.

Professor Jenny prospected these hills thoroughly.
We often made camp and remained there for ten or
fifteen days while he was doing so. Finally we got
through the hills, coming out on the northwest side


to the plains. We then skirted the hills on the north
and east side on our way back to Fort Laramie, from
where we had been gone five months.

The day before we arrived at Fort Laramie, my
friend Botsford rode up to me and said, "Young, I
don't know how to thank you for all you have done
for me. This has been a glorious trip through a
wonderful country and never in my life have I felt
better and never in my life have I thought more of
myself. With your assistance I have fought the fight
of my life, and some day in the near future I will
repay you ten-fold for what you have done for me."
Taking me by the hand, he bowed his head and cried
like a child.

I said to him, "Botsford, when we arrive at the
post, don't forget that there is a sutler store there
and in that sutler store they sell vile whiskey."

He replied, "Don't fear! never again! California
Joe and I, when we receive our pay, are going to fit
ourselves out and go back into the hills. I have
selected a place there, and if it comes up to my ex-
pectation, you, Joe and myself, will have all the money
we want for the balance of our lives. You need not
come back with us, but if successful, I will find you
if you are on earth." They remained at Laramie for
only five days, then returning to the hills. I will ex-
plain to the readers later on how this man kept his

At this time, the true story of Calamity Jane's
history will not be amiss. She was born at Fort
Laramie in 1860. She was the daughter of a soldier
named Dalton. Dalton was discharged from the army
in 1861, and with his wife and daughter settled on a
hay ranch on a stream called the La Bontie, 120 miles
from Fort Laramie. In the early fall of that year a
large body of Sioux Indians raided that country, kill-


ing all white persons that happened in their path.
Among those killed was Dalton. Mrs. Dalton was shot
in the eye with an arrow, destroying the sight, and
with her own hand extracted the arrow and quickly
bandaging the eye, placed her one-year old daughter
on her back and managed to escape. Traveling nights
and hiding by day, subsisting on weeds and roots, she
finally managed to reach Fort Lararnie in eight days,
a mere skeleton of her former self, her clothing torn
to shreds. Before medical aid could be procured, she
expired. Sergeant Bassett, of company I, 14th in-
fantry, and his wife adopted the child and prefixed to
her name, Jane Dalton, the word "Calamity," so hence-
forth she was known as Calamity Jane. She was the
pet of the fort and lived there until the spring of
1875. Jane was then about fifteen years of age, quite
good looking, dark complexioned, black eyes and black
hair, which she wore short. She had no particular use
for a citizen, but anybody with a blue coat and brass
buttons, could catch Calamity.

At this time Calamity Jane was enamored with
Sergeant Shaw, of company E, 3rd cavalry. His com-
pany having been detailed on the Jenny expedition,
and she wanting to accompany him, he suggested that
she wear cavalry clothes. He then secretly took her
to the company's tailor and fitted her out with a com-
plete uniform. One not knowing her would never have
taken her for a female. She spent her time entirely
with this company and up to the time that we reached
our first permanent camp, none but Shaw, and pos-
sibly a few other soldiers, knew that she was with the

In constructing this first permanent camp, they
arranged the officers' tents in a square, covering them
with bows cut from trees. This left a large space
which was termed the parade ground. One of the
tents was used as a sutler store, where was sold


whiskey, tobacco, etc. One morning Calamity had
occasion to cross this square. Unfortunately, she met
an officer, who was a German and a great disciplin-
arian, and having no chance to get by him, saluted him
in true soldierly style. He saluted in return. Quite
a number of officers were standing in front of the
sutler tent, one of them knowing Calamity and seeing
an opportunity for a joke on this officer, when the
latter approached them he laughed at him. He asked
him what he was laughing at. He made no reply, but
laughed louder. The officer then demanded to know
why they were laughing at him. They finally told
him that the soldier he had just saluted was Calamity
Jane. His dignity was hurt and he immediately made
an investigation and found that it was true, and also
found that Calamity was consorting with Ist-officer
Shaw, which caused Shaw to be severely reprimanded,
and also had an order issued expelling Calamity from
the camp. Poor Calamity was in a quandary what to
do. She could not go back to Fort Laramie alone, as
the Indians were bad, etc.

As a final resort, Calamity Jane came up on the
hill to where we teamsters were camped, and knowing
me well, asked if she could go along with us. If so,
she would do the cooking for our mess. I finally got
permission from the wagonmaster to allow her to
travel and camp with us. This compelled her to change
her soldiers' clothes for citizen clothes, which we fur-
nished her. She remained with us the balance of the
way and naturally I saw much of her. When we
moved camp, Calamity rode in my wagon whenever she
got tired of walking.

One day when crossing Spring Creek, my wagon
turned over as I was making a turn, which threw the
rear end of the wagon into quite deep water. Calamity
being under the wagon sheet, was compelled to crawl
out of the hind end, and in doing so, fell into the


water up to her neck. My ! how she did swear at me ;
and she always seemed to have the idea that I did it
purposely, but such was not the case, as it was con-
sidered a disgrace for a teamster to capsize his wagon
and was also a great trouble to him. This girl be-
came a very notorious character and I will later on
speak of her further.

Before arriving at the Platte River, where Fort
Laramie was situated, there was a high divide and
when my team reached the pinacle of this divide,
which gave them a view of the post and three very
large hay stacks, they were about half starved and
very, very thin and were also very much skinned up
by the friction of the harness which they wore. Con-
sequently, when my lead team saw this post, they
began to bray, the balance of the hundred teams
taking it up, making a horrible noise which was
deafening. We had made this trip by long, severe
drives and had not given the mules much chance to
graze. However, the poor animals were now in sight
of something good to eat, which accounted for the
deafening noise they made,

On arriving at the river, we found a rudely con-
structed ferry boat or raft. This would only carry one
team at a time. It being now^ about four o'clock in
the afternoon, and by using this ferry, it would have
taken all night to have ferried us across. The river
in the channel for about fifty feet was deep enough
to compel a team to swim. The wagons were about
empty, as all the commissaries were about used up.
I suggested to the wagonmaster, Jim Duncan, that we
swim the outfit over. After some talk he consented
to do so. Being mounted on a sorrel mule, he waded
out in the river to the edge of the channel, with a
whip in his hand, and, as we drove out to where he
stood, he headed the teams upstream. This was a
wonderful and exciting experience, as some mules were


good swimmers; others would not swim, but as the
channel was not wide, by the time the wheelers were
compelled to swim, the leaders were far enough across
to touch the bottom.

We succeeded in crossing the outfit in about two
hours without losing a mule or having any serious
accident. Jim then corraled the outfit, the mules
braying all the time, when suddenly there loomed up,
coming from the post, two large loads of hay. At the
sight of this hay, the starved mules became almost
unmanageable, jumping over the wagon tongue to
which they were tied three on a side, getting tangled
up in their halter shanks; some breaking away from
the tongue and running toward the loads of hay, tear-
ing into it, grasping great mouthfuls and devouring
it. After feeding the teams, giving them all they
could eat, two more wagons arrived loaded with sacks
of oats. We then attached our feed box to the wagon
tongue and fed them all they could eat. We remained
in this camp for five days, and it is wonderful how
these mules picked up flesh and, mule-like, they would
kick one's head off if he were not very careful while
wandering among them. Such is mule gratitude.

I have mentioned a great deal the expression "six-
mule team" and for the benefit of the readers, I will
describe a six-mule team, then in use by the gov-

Starting in at the wagon, the two mules hitched,
one on each side of the tongue, were termed wheelers
or wheel-mules. Attached to the end of this tongue
was what was termed a gooseneck, and attached to
this gooseneck was what were called spreaders, which
consisted of a straight bar, and on each end of this
bar were single-trees, and to these were attached
what was called the swing team. Also from the end
of this tongue was attached a chain about twelve


feet long, called a fifth chain, running between the
swing mules. Suspended from the inside hame of each
swing-mule was a small chain with a ring in the
center, through which the fifth chain ran. This ap-
pliance was to keep the chain from sagging on the
ground. To the end of this chain was another pair
of spreaders, lighter in construction than the' one at
the end of the tongue, and to this was attached the
lead mules. To the near lead mule or left-hand mule,
from a small chain suspended from the lower part* of
the bit of the bridle was attached a strap made of
leather about an inch and a half wide on that end, in-
creasing in width and reaching back to the wheel-
mule. This was called a lead line. The driver of the
team sat in a saddle on the near wheel-mule, holding
this strap in his hand when guiding the team. To the
outer hame of the outside lead-mule was attached
what was known as a jockey stick, which was about

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Online LibraryHarry YoungHard knocks : a life story of the vanishing West → online text (page 12 of 17)