Report of the Secretary of War
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WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington, July 3, 1850.
I have the honor to transmit herewith copies of reports from Lieutenant J. H. Simpson, of the Corps of Topographical Engineers, and Captain S. G. French, of the Quartermaster's Department, with accompanying maps and sketches, in compliance with a resolution of the Senate of the 8th altimo, requesting "copies of the journals of all reconnaissances returned to the Topographical Bureau by officers of the United States making such surveys within the last year, and not heretofore communicated together with copies of the maps and sketches belonging to said reconnaissances; also, the report of Captain French, of the Quartermaster's Department, designating a route for a military road from San Antonio to El Paso."
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
BUREAU of TOPOGRAPHICAL ENGINEERS,
Washington, July 2, 1850.
Sir:Under a resolution of the Senate of the 8th June, I have the honor to transmit the report and map of Lieutenant J. H. Simpson, Corps Topographical Engineers, of an expedition into the Navajo country in 1849. The resolution calls for all sketches and drawings belonging to reports.
It is very interesting to see the picket-guard, composed entirely of Pueblos, gathered around the commanding officer's tent every evening, to receive from him their instructions for the night. Habited as they are, with their blankets thrown around them, their white turbans (assumed to distinguish them from the enemy, who generally wear red) encircling their heads, their rifles lying in their arms, or their bows and quivers slung to their backs, their attitude that of respectful attention: they present a group of a very interesting character. These people posess a great deal of native ease and dignity, and in their calm, reflective countenances, I think I can perceive a latent energy and power, which it requires only a proper political and social condition to develop and make useful.
Some more Navajos (uninfluential men) have had a talk this afternoon with Sandoval, outside the line of sentinals. The word is, as usual, that they want peace; but the official persons, the chiefs, not presenting themselves to obtain it, the colonel commanding is determined to push on to Chelly, the heart of their country, and dictate the terms there. Besides, according to his original design, he is anxious to meet Captain Ker, who, with his command, from information obtained from a chief at the last council, he is disposed to think must have pushed on to that place.
Eighteenth camp, September 5.--This morning, a party, composed of Colonel Washington, Mr. Calhoun, Mr. Collins, Major Kendrick, Lieutenant Dickerson, the two brothers Kern, and myself, visited the head of the renowned Cañon of Cheily, lying southwest about five miles distant from our last camp. This cañon has been for a long time of distinguished reputation among the Mexicans, on account of its great depth and impregnability--the latter being not more due to its inaccessibility that to the fort which it is said to contain. This fort, according to Carravahal, is so high as to require fifteen ladders to scale it, seven of which, as he says, on one occasion, he ascended, but, not being permitted to go higher, he did not see the top of it.
Upon reaching the cañon, we found it to more than meet our expectations--so deep did it appear, so precipitous its rocks, and so beautiful and regular the stratification. Its probable depth I estimate at about eight hundred feet. At its bottom a stream of water could be seen winding its way along it, the great depth causing it to appear like a mere riband. (See sketch in plate 48.)
As far as time would permit an examination, for a depth of about three hundred feet--I could descend no further, on account of the wall becoming vertical--the formation appeared to be sandstone, horizontally stratified with drift conglomerate. At this depth I found protruding horizontally from the wall, its end only sticking out, a petrified tree of about a foot in diameter, a fragment of which I broke off as a specimen. How did this tree get there? I also picked up at this point, upon the shelf on which I was standing, a species of iron ore, probably red hemalite. The colonel commanding returning to camp, after a cursory look at the canñon, in order to put the troops in motion for the day's march, I had not the time necessary to make full examination which I would have liked. I saw, however, enough to assure me that this canñon is not more worthy of the attention of the lover of nature than it is for the mineralogist and geologist. THe whole party returned to camp greatly pleased with this offset excursion, and promise themselves still greater delight when, on their reaching the mouth of the cañon, they will have more time to examine it.
In consequence of the excursion this morning, the troops did not move till about 9. Our course for the day was generally west of north. Two and a half miles from our last camp, we passed on our right a cylindrical mass of trap rock protruding from the summit of the mountain ridge, the outcrop being probably as much as one hundred and fifty feet high. This singular landmark was seen yesterday before reaching camp. Two and a half miles further can be seen, also, immediately on the right of the road, a dike of trap rock ranging very nearly east and west, its eastern terminus of the form of a semi-conical abutment, about five hundred feet in protrusion from the plain below. A portion of this dike is perfectly columnar in its details.
Five and a half miles on our route, we reached the brow of a valley running generally north and south, it being apparently hemmed in at the north, nearest to us, by a range of secondary mountains, and further off by m"é"sa heights. The former are of rounded form, and, on account of their white ground being sprinkled with the evergreen cedar, have a motley aspect. The latter present a beautiful facade-like appearance, and are of a deep red color. The intervening valley, on account of like caracter of its sylva, in contrast with the barren wastes which we traversed on the east side of the Tumecha ridge, was very refreshing to us.
Having marched 7.39 miles, we came to the creek upon which we are encamped. This creek is a clear stream of good water, ten feet wide by half a foot deep, coursing west of south, over a clean and pebbly bottom, and presenting here and there rapids and cascades as delightful to the eye as they are rare in the country. Upon its margin we find a sufficiency of grass for our animals.
The road to-day has been generally good, there have been but two steep hills, which detained the artillery but a short while. The soil has been of an argillaceous character, and in the valleys always appeared to be fertile; the timber, which has been pine and cedar, of a large growth; a few large oaks were also seen. The artemisia, as usual, has been the chief, and almost the only, plant, especially upon the uplands.
Twenty-five Mexicans were sent out this afternoon to examine, with Carravahal, the river ahead for a few miles. They had not proceeded, however, more than a mile, when, seeing three or four of the enemy, their hearts failed them, and they returned to camp. Some Pueblos were then added to the party, and the whole put under charge of Lieutenant Tores. The party returned at about dusk; and report the road good for eight miles, excepting one steep hill, which, however, Lieutenant T. thinks practicable.
Nineteenth camp, Chelly, September 6.--The troops decamped at 6 this morning--an hour earlier than usual, on account of an anticipated long march without water. Our route, though curving considerably towards the north, has been generally a little south of west.
At the respective distance of six and a half, twelve, thirteen, thirteen and a half, sixteen and a half, sixteen and three quarters, and eighteen miles, we crossed some deep rocky arroyos, the first detaining the artillery three-quarters of an hour, the fourth three-quarters of an hour, and the last an hour. The artillery to-day have been obliged to work harder than they have done any other day since they started the expedition. They, however, appear to be equal to any emergency, and, though detained, at times, necessarily, on account of difficulties, they are always sure to be getting along in due time. The infantry, under Captain Sykes, from the commencement of the march, have constantly preserved a compact, effective form, and have ever appeared as a unit, to be wielded by their leaders with precision and power.
The country to-day has been rolling--almost, indeed, broken--belts and clusters of trees, and sometimes solitary ones, diversifying its face. Piñon, yellow pine, and cedar have been the sylva--acres of the latter occasionally being dead; the cause not obvious. The artemisia has been the chief flora. The cactus, which hitherto has been but seldom, to-day was more prevalent.
When two miles on our route, looking back, a fine view presented itself, made up of mountains, beautifully variant in outline, prominent peaks here and there in the background, and, intermediate between them and myself, the troops--horsemen, footmen, and artillery--their arms glittering under the glancing rays of a morning sun, and a cloud of dust betokening their approach.
A mile and a half further, some beautiful red bastion-like rocks appeared, two miles distant, on our right, capped with a whitish amorphous formation. Fifteen miles from our last camp, on our right, we noticed two very singular mesa formations, on of them looking like a high square fort, and discovering, by the daylight which could be seen through it, the appearance of a tunnel running horizontally through and through.
Though not expecting to find water along the way, thirteen and a half miles from our last camp we met some, in deep pools, in a rocky arroyo which we crossed. Here may have been some singular-shaped basins and arches, all the effect of the erosive influence of water upon sandstone formation.
One of the pack animals to-day falling too far in rear of the main body of the command, the soldier in charge, seeing a Navajo near, and at the same time a dust in rear, as if made by a host of the enemy approaching, thought that discretion was the better part of valor, and, leaving his pack, fled. The force in rear, however, proving to be the Mexican cavalry, and Lieutenant Dickerson happening at the time to be with them, he directed a chase after the Navajo, who by this time had got posession of the pack animal, and was appropriating the contents of its pack to himself. Lieutenant Dickerson informs me that he got five distinct shots at the fellow with his revolver, and, though he was not able to bring him to a surrender, was, nevertheless, successful in causing him to leave the animal and his pack.
Just after dark, after crossing an extensive down or sand drift, we reached our camping ground, in the valley of Chelly; and, much to our disappointment, after a hard day's march of 26.45 miles, we are obliged to spend the night without water. The cornfields among which we are encamped furninsh, however, an abundance of forage for the animals, and fine roasting ears for the men; but the great beverage of the soldier in his marches--coffee--will, in most instances, have to be dispensed with.
Nineteenth camp, Chelly, September 7.--The fires of our camp were all, yesterday, at dark, from motives of military expediency, extinguished--a phenomenon which doubtless was not without its moral effect upon the enemy, who are hovering around us.
This morning, a couple of Navajos--one of them a chief--were brought into camp by Sandoval, both of them embracing Colonel Washington and Mr. Calhoun, apparently, with a great deal of good will. The chief, whose name is Mariano Martinez--habited as he was in a sky-blue blanket greatcoat, apparently of American manufacture, and not unlike my own; a tarpaulin hat, of rather narrow brim, and semispherical crown; buckskin leggins and moccasins; bow and quiver slung about him; a pouch and knife at his side; and posessing a sombre cast of countenance, which seemed to indicate energy and perserverance combined--appeared like a man who had naturally risen up by virtue of the energy of his character, and, from the effects of a mauranding life upon a civilized community, had become impressed with the jacobin look which he at the time discovered. (See a sketch of this chief in plate 49.) The conversation which passed between these chiefs and the colonel commanding was as follows:
Colonel Washington. Tell him, when a chief wishes to talk with me, by making known his intentions by a white flag, he will be conducted safely into camp; but that everybody else must keep a mile off, or else be liable to be shot. Are he and his people desirous of peace?
Colonel Washington. Tell them, if they are, they can easily obtain it by complying with the terms of the treaty which they have made, and that the sooner they do comply with them the better it will be for them, as less of their property will be wasted and destroyed.
Colonel Washington. Tell him that will do; and that, when the treaty is made with them, all the property the troops have taken, they will be compensated for. And there was one more thing he would say: that, if they now entered into a treaty with him in good faith, it would result in blessings upon him and his people; but if they did not, it would result in their destruction.
Nineteenth camp, Chelly, September 8.--Early this morning, a Mexican captive, of about 30 years of age, came into camp to see the colonel commanding. He represented that he was stolen by the Navajos seventeen years ago, and that he did not now wish to be restored to his people again. Indeed, he did not as much ask about his friends, who, I am informed, are now living at Santa Fe--from the vicinity of which he was stolen, whilst tending sheep. He is a very active, intelligent-looking fellow, and speaks like a native born Navajo--having all of their characteristics, in dress, conversation, and manners.
Agreeably to the orders of the colonel commanding, I left camp at 7 1/2 o'clock this morning to make a reconnaissance of the renowned Cañon of Chelly. In addition to my assistants, the two Kerns and Mr. Champlin, there were in company an escort of about 60 men--Brevet Major Keudrick being in command, assisted by Captain Dodge. Lieutenants Ward, Dickerson, Jackson, and Brown, as also Assistant Surgeon Hammond and Mr. Collins, accompanied the party. Our course for nearly two miles, as far as the mouth of the cañon, was east of south, and up the valley of Chelly. THe soil of this valley, which is generally very sandy, is in spots quite fertile--on an average, a belt of probably half a mile in breadth being planted in corn. The cane, also, I noticed growing very luxuriantly in places. The whole breadth of this valley is about three miles.
Reaching the mouth of the Cañon of Chelly, we turned to the left to go up it. Its escarpment walls at the mouth we found low. Its bottom, which in places is as little as one hundred and fifty feet wide, though generally as wide as three or four hundred feet, is a heavy sand. The escarpment walls, which are a red amorphous sandstone, are rather friable, and show imperfect seams of stratification--the dip being slight, and towards the west.
Proceeding up the cañon, the walls gradually attain a higher altitude, till, at about three miles from the north, they begin to assume a stupendous appearance. Almost perfectly vertical, they look as if they had been chiselled by the hand of art; and occasionally cizous marks, apparently the effect of the rotary attrition of contiguous masses, could be seen on their faces.
At the point mentioned, we followed up a left-hand branch of the cañon--this branch being from one hundred and fifty to two hundred yards wide, and the enclosing walls continuing stupendous. Two or three patches of corn, intermingled with melons, pumpkins, and squashes, were met with on the way.
Half a mile up this branch, we turned to the right, up a secondary branch, the width of which was rather narrow. This branch shows rocks, probably as high as three hundred feet, almost perfectly vertical, and in some instances not discovering a seam in their faces from top to bottom. About half a mile up this branch, in the right-hand escarpment wall, is a hemispherical cave, canopied by some stupendous rocks, a small, cool, acceptable spring being sheltered by it. A few yards further, this branch terminates in an almost vertical wall, affording no pathway for the ascent or descent of troops. At the head of this branch I noticed two or three hackberry trees, and also the stramonium, the first plant of the kind we have seen.
Retracing our steps to the primary branch we had left, we followed it up to its head, which we found but two or three hundred yards above the fork--the side walls still continuing stupendous, and some fine caves being visible here and there within them. I also noticed here some small habitations, made up of natural overhanging rock, and artificial walls, laid in stone and mortar--the latter forming the front portion of the dwelling.
Having got as far up the lateral branches as we could go, and not yet having seen the famous fort, we began to believe that, in all probablility, it would turn out to be a fable. But still we did not know what the main cañon might yet unfold, and so we returned to explore it above the point or fork at which we had left it. Starting from this point, our general course lay about southeast by east. Half a mile further, or three and a half miles from the mouth of the cañon, on its left escarpment, I noticed a shelving place where troops (but not pack animals) could ascend and descend. Less than a mile further, I observed, upon a shelf in the left-hand wall, some fifty feet above the bottom of the cañon--unapproachable except by ladders, by the wall below being very nearly vertical--a small pueblo ruin, of a style of structure similar, to all appearances, to that found in the ruins on the Chaco. I also noticed in it a circular wall, which, in all probablility, has been an estuffa. The width of the cañon at this point is probably from two to three hundred yards wide, the bottom continuing sandy and level. And, what appears to be singular, the sides of the lateral walls are not only as vertical as natural walls can well be conceived to be, but they are perfectly free from a talus of debris, the usual concominant of rocks of this description. Does not this point to a crack or natural fissure as having given origin to the cañon, rather than to aqueous agents, which, at least at the present period, show an utter inadequacy as a producing cause?
About five miles from the mouth, we passed another collection of uninhabited houses, perched on a shelf in the left-hand wall. Near this place, in the bed of the cañon, I noticed the ordinary Navajo hut, (a conical lodge,) and close by it a peach orchard. A mile further, observing several Navajos, high above us, on the verge of the north wall, shouting and gesticulating as if they were very glad to see us, what was our astonishment when they commenced tripping down the almost vertical wall before them as nimbly and dexterously as minuet dancers! Indeed, the force of gravity, and their descent upon a steep inclined plane, made such a kind of performance absolutely necessary to insure their equilibrium. All seemed to allow that this was one of the most wonderful feats they had ever witnessed.
Seven miles from the mouth, we fell in with some considerable pueblo ruins. These ruins are on the left or north side of the cañon, a portion of them being situated at the foot of the escarpment wall, and the other portion upon a shelf in the wall immediately back of the other portion, some fifty feet above the bed of the cañon. The wall in front of this latter portion being vertical, access to it could only have been obtained by means of ladders. The front of these ruins measures one hundred and forty five feet, and their depth forty five. The style of structure is similar to that of the pueblos found on the Chaco--the building material being of small, thin sandstones, from two to four inches thick, imbedded in mud mortar, and chinked in the facade with smaller stones. The present height of its walls is about eighteen feet. Its rooms are exceedingly small, and the windows only a foot square. One circular estuffa was all that was visible. For a sketch of these ruins, with the stupendous rocks in rear and overhanging them, see plate 53, and for a sketch of the pottery picked up about them, see plate 54.
Half a mile above these ruins, in a re-entering angle of the cañon, on its left side, are a peach orchard and some Navajo lodges. Proceeding still further up the cañon, the walls, which yet preserve their red sandstone character, but which have increased in the magnificance of their proportions, at intervals present facades hundreds of feet in length, and three or four hundred in height, and which are beautifully smooth and vertical. These walls look as if they had been erected by the hand of art--the blocks of stone composing them not unfrequently discovering a length in the wall of hundreds of feet, and a thickness of as much as ten feet, and laid with as much precision, and showing as handsome and well-pointed and regular horizontal joints, as can be seen in the custom-house of the city of New York.
About eight miles from the mouth of the cañon, a small rill, which below this point had lost itself in the sandy bottom of the cañon, appears above ground; and about five hundred yards further, on the right-hand side, is a lateral cañon, in which we saw another peach orchard.
Having ascended the cañon nine and a half miles, the horses of the Pueblos in company with us not being strong enough for a further exploration, there being no prospect of our seeing the much-talked-of presidio or fort of the Navajos, which had all along been represented to us as being near the mouth of the cañon, and the reconnaissance having already been conducted further than Colonel Washington had anticipated would be found necessary, the expedition returned to camp, highly delighted with what they had seen. We found, however, the further we ascended it, the greater became the altitude of its enclosing walls--this altitude, at our point of returning, being (as I ascertained by an indirect measurement) five hundred and two feet. The length of this cañon is probably about twenty-five miles. Its average width, as far as we ascended it, may be estimated at two hundred yards. For a view of the cañon, as seen from the lateral branch eight miles above its mouth, see plate 55.
Both in going up and returning through the cañon, groups of Navajos and single persons were seen by us, high above our heads, gazing upon us from its walls. A fellow upon horseback, relieved as he was sharply against the sky, and scanning us from his elevation, appeared particularly picturesque. Whenever we met them in the cañon, they appeared very friendly--the principal chief, Martinez, joining and accompanying us in our exploration, and the proprietors of the peach orchards bringing out blanket-loads of fruit (at best but of ordinary quality) for distribution among the troops. Indeed, the chief admonished his people, as they stood gazing upon us from the heights above, to go to there homes and give us no trouble.
Should it ever be necessary to send troops up this cañ on, no obstruction would be found to prevent the passage of artillery along its bottom. And a force should skirt the heights above to drive off assailants from that quarter, the south bank should be preferred, because less interrupted by lateral branch cañons.
The mystery of the Cañon of Chelly is now, in all probability, solved. This cañon is, indeed, a wonderful exhibition of nature, and will always command the admiration of its votaries, as it will the attention of geologists. But the hitherto-entertained notion that it contained a high insulated plateau fort near its mouth, to which the Navajos resorted in times of danger, is exploded. That they may have had heights upon the side walls of the cañon, to scale which would require a series of fourteen ladders, is indeed probable; for it would require more than this number to surmount the height we measured.
I did expect, in ascending the cañon, to find that the Navajos had other and better habitations that the conical pole, brush, and mud lodge which, up to this time, we had only seen. But none other than these, excepting ruined ones, the origin of which they say they know nothing about, did we notice. Indeed, a Mexican who is a member of the command, and who was a captive among them, says they have no other habitation. In the summer, he informs us, they live wherever the cornfields and stock are. In the winter, they take to the mountains, where they can get plenty of wood. As yet, we have not met a single village of them--it appearing to be their habit to live scatteringly, wherever they can find a spot to plant corn or raise stock. The necessity of living more densely, probably, has not heretofore existed, from feeling which they doubtless have had up to this period that the inaccessibility of their country was a sufficient barrier to the intrusion of an enemy.
"They (the Navajos) reside in the main range of the Cordilleras, one hundred and fifty to two hundred miles west of Santa Fe, on the waters of Rio Colorado of California, not far from the region, according to historians, from whence the Aztecs emigrated to Mexico; and there are many reasons to suppose them direct descendants from the remnant, which remained in the north, of this celebrated nation of antiquity. Although they live in jacales, somewhat resembling the wigwams of the Pawnees, yet, from time immemorial, they have excelled all others in their original manufactures; and, as well as the Meqnies, they are still distinguished for some exquisite styles of cotton textures, and display considerable ingenuity in embroidering with feathers, the skins of animals, according to their primitive practice. They now, also, manufacture a singular species of blanket, known as the Sarape Navajo, which is of so close and dense a texture that is will frequently hold water almost as equal to gum-elastic cloth. It is therefore highly prized for protection against the rains. Some of the finer qualities are often sold among the Mexicans as high as fifty or sixty dollars each."33
As regards to the hypothesis which Gregg advances in the above, that the Navajos are the direct descendants of the Aztecs, it is possible they may be. But if, as is likely, and as Gregg also supposes, this ancient people once inhabited the pueblos, now the ruins, on the Chaco, how is it that they have retrograded in civilization in respect to their habitations, when they have preserved it in their manufactures?
I know of but two ways to account for it. Either the Navajos are descended from a cognate stock, prior to that which built the Chaco pueblos, which stock lived, as the Navajos do now, in lodges, and this agrees with the tradition given by Sandoval34-- or, in process of time, the cultivable and pastoral portion of the country becoming more and more reduced in the area, and scattered in locality, the people of necessity became correspondingly scattered and locomotive, and thus gradually adopted the habitation most suitable for such a state of things--the lodge they now inhabit.
In regard to the manufacture of cotton fabrics, in which, according to Gregg, they excel, we observed no evidences at all of this species of manufacture among them, nor any signs of the domestic culture of the plant from which, rather that from a foreign source, they would be most likely to draw the raw material.35
In regard to the manufacture of plumage, or feather-work, they certainly display a greater fondness for decorations of this sort than any Indians we have seen; but, though they exhibit taste in the selection and disposition of this kind of ornament about their persons, I saw no exhibition of it in the way of embroidery.
In respect to the population of the Navajo nation, it has been impossible for me to arrive at anything like an approximation of it. Indeed, if the few we have seen bear a proper proportion to the whole number contained in the country, the extent of this population has been greatly exaggerated. But I prefer to believe that, as a nation, they live much scattered, and that those through whose precincts we have passed have studiously avoided us. All things considered, then, I would estimate the population from eight thousand to ten thousand souls: this last number is Gregg's estimate.
As regards to their stock, so far as I could observe, and from what the reclaimed Mexican captive before referred to has told me, I should say that it consisted mainly of sheep and horses--mules and cattle forming but an
inconsiderate portion of it. We have as yet, however, not fallen upon a drove of either of these animals--which the Mexican explains by saying that they have, the better to conceal them from the troops, been driven to the mountains. Innumberable signs of sheep, however, have been seen by us. Their horses, though generally better than those to be seen among the New Mexicans, and capable of long and rapid journeys under the saddle, are not, in my judgement, near as fine as what I have seen among the Comanches; and in all these cases they are far inferior to our own, in point of bulk and power.
Nineteenth camp. Chelly, September 9.--To-day, the two chiefs, Mariano Martinez and Chapaton, the latter the chief of the San Juan Navajos (see his portrait in plate 50,) have been in, on the part of the nation, to deliver up some of the captives, stock, and other property required to be delivered according to the treaty made by Colonel Nuby, and also to enter into a more comprehensive and complete treaty. A large portion of this property not being immediately available, as they said, on account of the distance whence it had to be brought, the colonel commanding, with their consent, appointed a limited period--thirty days--in which all that yet remained outstanding was to be delivered up at Jemez. The murderer of a citizen of Jemez was, as soon as he could be apprehended, to be turned over to the governor at Santa Fe.
The parties there entered into a treaty, by which the government of the United States assumed the paternal control it has been in the habit of excercising over the tribes of Indians within or bordering upon its domain; and the Navajo nation, on its part, through its head chiefs, Martinez and Chapaton, who represented that what they did was binding on the whole nation, gave their full and unequivocal assent to all its terms. Particular care was taken, both by the colonel commanding and the Indian commissioner, to make the chiefs comprehend the full import of the treaty to which they were invited to give their assent. And, to be certain that all was done that could be done to insure this, each and every officer present was appealed to know whether he considered the treaty had been sufficiently explained; to which they all, without exception, responded in the affirmative.
All that could be accomplished by the expedition, then, may be considered as having been accomplished. A full and complete treaty has been made with the Navajos, by which they have put themselves under the jurisdiction and control of the government of the United States, in the same manner and to the same extent as the trives bordering the United States. The portion of the captives and stolen property near enough to be made available have been given up, and the remainder has been promised to be restored within a determinate period. Added to this, what is of no inconsiderable value, the troops have been enabled to penetrate into the very heart of their country, and thus a geographical knowledge has been obtained which cannot but be of the highest value in any future military demonstration it may be necessary to make.
It is true that the Navajos may fail to comply with the terms of the treaty. But whether they comply or not, the fact still remains the same, that a treaty covering the whole ground of their fealty, (the former covered but a few points,) as well in the general as the particular, was necessary, in order to satisfy the public mind, as well as testify to the whole world that, should any future coercion become necessary, it would be a just retribution, and, in a manner, their own act.
In the afternoon, after the treaty was concluded, quite a number of Navajo warriors, at least a hundred, came within the vicinity of the camp to trade with the troops, seemingly happy that so peaceful a termination had been given to affairs. They were generally armed with bows and lances, and carried also shields. Very few of them had rifles. In some instances they were very handsomely dressed, an appendage of eagle feathers to their helmet-shaped cap adding not a little to the picturesqueness of their appearance. (For a sketch of a Navajo in costume, see plate 52.)
The blankets, though not purchasable with money, as it is not used as a tender among them, were sold, in some instances, for the most trifling article of ornament or clothing--it being their manner, if they saw anything about your dress which they fancied, and wanted to buy, to point to it, and then to the article for which they were willing to barter it.
There was a Moqui Indian present at the council this morning as a spectator; and a more intelligent, frank-hearted looking fellow, I have seldom beheld. (See a sketch of him in plate 51.) Indeed, it occurred to me that he had all the air and mannner of a well-bred, vivacious American gentleman, and the only thing Indian in his appearance was his complexion. His people, whom he represents as living three days' travel from this place, have the reputation of being quite intelligent and orderly--it being one of the articles of their political as well as religious creed, that they are at liberty under no circumstances to take human life; and in regard to infidelity on the part of their women, their laws are said to be very stringent. These people, I am informed, herd stock, grow corn, and live in pueblos, of which there are, according to the Moqui present at this time, but three. It is reported that originally they had a greater number of towns; but, one or more of them becoming guilty of shedding human blood, they were on that account exscinded. Does not this article of their creed, if true, point to a civilized origin? At all events, there is nothing in the features, manners, and general appearance of the Moqui I have seen to belie such an hypothesis, but on the contrary, a great deal to make it probable.36
Martinez, the principal Navajo chief, brought in a beautiful mule this morning to present to the colonel commanding. The colonel, however, with the remark that it was neither customary nor proper on the part of public officers to receive such presents, graciously declined it.
There having been various contradictory reports among us relative to other American troops having visited Celly besides Colonel Washington's command, I to-day inquired of Martinez whether such was the fact. His reply was, that the first American troops that had visited Celly were those at present there.
Twentieth camp, September 10.--Colonel Washington learning yesterday from Chapaton that Captain Ker was not on his way to meet him at this place, as he was in Tumecha, through information from a chief, to believe might be the case, and a report having been received that the Apaches had within a few days made an attack upon the friendly Pueblo Indians of Zuñi, and killed a number of them, the programme of operations has accordingly been altered, and our destination is now Santa Fe, by the way of Zuñi--the object being to afford this people all the necessary aid which their reported situation demands.
The troops accordingly took up their line of march from Chelly at 7 a. m., the general course for the day being southeast. For the first two miles our route lay up the valley of Chelly, and then turned more eastwardly, it at this point commencing the ascent of a species of mésa, or rather upland. Three miles further, the road approximates within a few yards of the Cañon of Chelly. To this point the road is exceedingly rocky and hilly; but these hills can in all probability be avoided by continuing up the valley of Chelly as far as the opposite point mentioned, and then turning to the left up the mésa. (See map.) The country at the point referred to begins to be rolling--scrub pine and a species of spruce, thickly interspersed, constituting the sylva. Four miles further, a protrusion of trap rock, looking for all the world like the square tower of a church, with windows, could be seen, bearing northeaset, some twelve miles off. Eighteen miles from our last camp, we commenced the ascent of the Sierra de Laguna, the slope of which wagons would find some difficulty in overcoming, unless one more easy could be found--a thing not all improbable--or some labor be expended. The ascent we found to be two miles long--which accomplished, we were on a plateau; a mile more bringing us to our camp-ground for the night, where we find an abundance of wood, a sufficiency of pasturage, but no water.
The soil to-day has been principally of an arid, agrillaceous character--the scrub pine and cedar characterizing this portion of the route. Since commencing the ascent of the Sierra de Laguna, scrub oak and yellow pine of a large growth have been the sylva. Cacti have been frequently seen. We crossed a number of heavy Navajo trails; and signs of large droves of sheep were observable. The day's march has been 20.50 miles.
Twenty first camp, September 11.--The troops raised camp at a quarter after 6 a. m., and followed, as yesterday, a well beaten trail--the general course for the day continuing about southeast. Having proceeded two and a half miles, one of the guards sent in advance yesterday to find water returning and informing the colonel commanding that there was come in a cañon to the left, about five miles off, a detourto the northeast was made by the troops to reach it. This cañon is said to be a branch of the Cañon de Chelly; and its banks were so steep as to make it necessary for the animals to be disburdened of their packs to enable them to reach the water at its bottom. The supply was found to be ample, and it doubtless is constant.
For the first fourteen and a half miles the country is a pine barren, resembling very much in appearance, and in the arenaceous character of its soil, the pine barrens of Florida, excepting that the former is more compact. For the remaining portion of the route, it is a rolling prairie, variegated with copses of piñon--the soil being of a reddish color, argillaceous in character, and doubtless fertile, if sufficiently watered. Five miles before reaching our present camp, a mésa escarpment comes in from the left, and skirts the road on that side for the balance of the way. The walls of this mésa are probably from three to four hundred feet in height. Just before reaching camp, a most singular-looking column appears on the left of the road--resembling, when viewed near by, a vase; when remotely, a statue. It is of sandstone formation, and has an altitude of from thirty to forty feet. (See sketch in plate 56.)
Our camp for the night is more pleasant than usual--a small pond or lake, bordered by a margin of green luxuriant grass, being directly in front of us, to gladden our sight; and the beautiful stratified walls of the Cañoncito Bonito, down which we are to turn to-morrow, adding its beauty to the scene. Some ducks, I notice, are constantly hovering around this spot.
Twenty-second camp, September 12.--Failing, on account of a hazy atmosphere, to get my usual astronomical observations last evening, I succeeded, after the excercise of a great deal of patience, to get a few barely tolerable ones after midnight.
The command left this excellent camp-ground at seven a. m.--its general course for the day being a trifle west of south. Immediately on resuming the march, we turned short to the left, or eastwardly, to thread the Cañoncito Bonito, (Beautiful Little Cañon.) This cañon, which is about a quarter of a mile in length, is, on account of its high enclosing walls, and the well-defined character of their stratification, beautiful. The walls, which are nearly vertical, are probably from three to four hundred feet high. Their formation is a red friable sandstone--the stratification, which discloses a dip of about ten degrees toward the east, as also the line of clearage, being very distinctly marked. The width of the cañon is about one hundred feet, a small stream finding its way through its bottom. This cañon differs from that of Chelly, in the face of its walls not being so smooth, in not presenting as large unstratified masses, and in having a talus of debris at the foot of the walls.
This cañon passed through, the route turned almost due south--following, for the remaining portion of the day, a succession of wide, shallow, fertile valleys, which are generally bordered on their eastern side by escarpment walls of a white and red sandstone formation.
Just after we debouched from the Cañoncito Bonito, a most singular prospect of detached turret-like rocks appeared skirting the valley just referred to on its eastern side. And down the valley, in a more southerly direction, a trap dike of a striking character presented itself, a short distance to our front. For a sketch of this view, see plate 37. This dyke, on examination, I found to present a most interesting exhibition of igneous action and vertical protrusion. Its height above the plain is some three or four hundred feet; its breadth, one hundred and fifty; and its length, about two hundred yards. Its strike is nearly due east. Here can be seen, in the same formation, rocks that have been once perfectly fused, and then cooled under pressure, the effect being to make them more dense; rocks that have been fused, and then cooled under the pressure only of the atmosphere, the effect being to make them scoriaceous, and rocks that look as if they had not been fused, but merely baked. I noticed also here, in a sort of cave, a large mass of some kind of black, agglutinated, pitchy substance I have already described as having seen, August 24, in the rocks of the Cañon de la Copa. It was here, as there, intermingled with bits of straw, &c. These are the only trap rocks we have seen near our route since we left our eighteenth camp.
About nine miles from our last camp, on the route, is Sieneguilla de Maria, where we found some very cold water, and grass of an excellent quality. The supply of water here is probably perennial. Three miles further, some very singular whitish abutment rocks, probably of sandstone, are to be seen on the left, jutting out from among rocks of a sandstone character and red color. The difference in the complexion and shape of the former of these rocks indicates a superior hardness, in the formation of which there are prominences. Four miles further, just to the right of the road, appears a beautiful exhibition of horizontal stratification, terminating in one of a bent, semicircular character--the strata (red stone) in the last case being concentric, like the coatings of an onion, and disclosing themselves both by a side and end view. Eighteen miles from our last camp, we crossed a rough, bad place, where some little labor would be required to make it practicable for wagons. Two miles further, immediately on the left of the road, are two enormous hemispherical masses of solid sandstone rock, the radius of one of them being about one hundred feet.
After a north march of 23.02 miles, reaching a babbling streamlet of excellent water, which heads in a spring not far distant, and the vicinity affording fine pasturage and plenty of fuel, we encamped.
The soil to-day along the route has been of an argillaceous character, and looks as if it might produce well. As usual, pine and cedar, of rather a scrub growth, have constituted the timber. A deer was killed by a soldier this morning, after running the gauntlet of numerous shots from the command--myself, among the number, throwing away a pistol shot. This is the first deer which has been killed by any of the party. The scarcity of this kind of game may therefore readily be inferred. Indeed, a more wretched country for game of every kind I have never seen than that we have been traversing since we left Santa Fe. A rattlesnake was also killed to-day, and a wildcat is reported to have been seen. I noticed to-day, for the first time on the march, a flock of blackbirds. I have also seen along the route a species of swallow different from anything of the kind I have ever before met with. It is peculiar in being, a large portion of it, both on its back and belly, white. It probably is a bank swallow.
It is reported that there is a wagon-route from Cañoncito Bonito to the Pueblo of Jemez; but, as I have no certain knowledge of its existence, and none at all of its location, I cannot even trace it generally on my map.
Twenty-third camp, September 13.--In consequence of a settled, steady rain, nearly all last night--a thing uncommon in this country--the troops did not raise camp to-day till about noon. Our route to-day has been a little east of south, through a narrow valley, skirted on the left by a red sandstone escarpment, and on the right by a height, sloping greatly towards the valley.
Two miles on the way, to the right of the road, a cañon comes in from the southwest, exhibiting some red sandstone rocks, beautifully stratified in curves, very similar to those of the cycloid reversed.
Just before reaching camp, we noticed to the left of the road a singular combination of swelling buttresses, vertical piers, and caves, and surmounting the whold a natural sandstone formation, having very much the appearance of a tankard. The cover, as well as the handle, was perfect in outline--the latter appearing not a little like the imbodiment of William Penn. (See sketch in plate 58.)
A few hundred yards from this, in the direction of our progress, a beautiful view opened upon us, made up of finely stratified and variegated rocks, and a refreshing green valley, interspersed with copses of cedar.
The soil to-day has been argillaceous, and looks productive. The sylva has been large yellow pine, cedar of a medium size, and a few scruboaks. The artemisia has been very common. Limestone boulders have been seen to-day for the first time since we left the valley of the Rio de Jemez. Fragments of pottery are found about our present encampment, as they have been about others; and, what seems strange, and has occurred at other points, is, that you not unfrequently find it in locations where you would not suppose anybody would ever think of having a habitation.
Our encampment to-night appears peculiarly beautiful. The heavens are deeply blue; the stars shine resplendently bright; the bivouae fires mark well the form and extent of the camp; and peacefully ascending can be seen the blue smoke--the whole forming, in combination with the general cheerfulness which pervades all nature, both animate and inanimate, a most pleasing picture. Indeed, this cheerfulness has been a general characteristic of our encampments ever since we began the march.
Twenty-fourth camp, September 14.--The march was resumed at 7 o'clock a. m., the course for the day being about southeast. Two miles on the route, we crossed an arroyo, coming in from the north, and coursing through a valley half a mile wide, this valley being skirted on either side by mésa heights of red sandstone. The arroyo, I noticed, had a few cotton trees bordering it. Five miles more brought us to a steep hill, about eighty feet high--ascending which, we got out of the valley we had been traversing since we left camp. Wagons, to overcome this hill, would require a slope of easier ascent than the one we followed; and this could be attained by making a road, half excavation and half embankment, along the side of the hill, or, what is very probable, by finding a natural grade at some other locality. Three miles further, another very steep hill, of about one hundred feet in altitude, was surmounted. Here, as at the other hill, a better locality could doubtless be found for a wagon road, or this one be made practicable, as suggested in relation to the other. The ascent of this hill accomplished, we again descended and crossed another valley, and then a succession of shallow ones, until we reached a cane-brake pond, where, finding a bare sufficiency of water and some good grass, we encamped. The taste of the water, as well as its discoloring effect upon the soil through which it oozes, shows it to be decidedly of a chalybeate character.
The soil, for the first two-thirds of the route, has been argillaceous and fertile; the last third was arenaccous and arid. The sylva has been piñon, yellow pine, and cedar. Artemisia, as usual, has been very common. Nodules of compact limestone are found on the road eight miles from our last camp, in an argillaceous soil. More labor would be required on the route to-day to make it practicable for wagons than upon any portion since we left Chelly; but still it can be done without a very considerable expenditure of labor.
Twenty fifth camp, September 15.--The troops decamped at 7 o'clock a. m.--the general course for the day being, as yesterday, about southeast. They immediately commenced ascending a hill, which would require a little labor to make it practicable for wagons. Having proceeded four and a half miles, we reached the brow of a long gradual slope, whence an extended prospect of distant mountains, mountain peaks, mésas, and valleys burst upon us, some of these peaks probably being as much as one hundred miles off. Three and a half miles further, we crossed an arroyo, which would require some little labor to make it traversible by wagons. Half a mile further, an old rubble stone wall, without mortar, of an inferior character, was passed on our left. Two miles further, a couple of mésa mounds, with a very singular-looking pinnacle standing isolated between them, were also seen on the left.
Thirteen miles from our last camp, we entered the valley of the Rio del Pescado, (or, as some call the stream, the Rio de Zuñi,) which we find extensively cultivated in corn. There are indications of there having been an abundant harvest of wheat. The Pueblo of Zuñi, when first seen, about three miles off, appeared like a low ridge of brownish rocks--not a tree being visible (a general characteristic of Mexican and pueblo towns) to relieve the nakedness of its appearance. We had not more than begun to get sight of the pueblo, when we noticed a body of Indians approaching us from it. This party purported to be a deputation, headed by the governor (cacique) and alcalde, which had come out for the purpose of escorting the governor of New Mexico (Colonel Washington) into town. Their reception of the governor and his suite was very cordial. The alcalde, I noticed, was habited in the undress frock of the officers of the army, garnished with the white metallic button.
33. Commerce of the Prairies, vol I, pages 285 and 286
34. Ante, August 28--Discussion of the origin of the Chaco ruins.
35. Since writing the above, on inquiry, I learn from Señor Vigal, secretary of the province, that the Navajo (he has been in their country) formerly manufactured a few cotton fabrics from the raw material, which they were in the habit of importing from Santa Fe and other places; but this species of manufacture has now almost, if not entirely, ceased.
36. It is proper, however, to state, that Señor Vigil, who has twice visited these people, says he knows nothing of this particular article of their faith. He knows, however, that, though they are a docile people, they once were in a defensive war with the Navajos, against whom they used the bow and arrow. I suspect, when the exact truth is known with regard to these people, it will be found that, though inclined to a state of peace, they are not so disinclined to war as not, under coercive circumstances, to stand up, even at the risk of bloodshed, to defend their lives and property.
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