Today in History:

136 Series I Volume XLI-I Serial 83 - Price's Missouri Expedition Part I


toward the southwest, Sully returned to his train at the head of Heart River, and resumed his march westward through an unknown and unexplored region toward the Yellowstone, which he expected to reach near Fort Alexander, at which point it had been proposed to establish a military post. On the 5th of August he came in sight of the Bad Lands, which border the Little Missouri on both sides. The country was exceedingly rugged and difficult, and so cut up with deep perpendicular ravines that it was with the utmost labor and loss of time that a narrow, winding way between the ravines in places barely ten feet wide was found for his wagons. I cannot convey a better idea of the country than is contained in the following extract from Sully's report, which will be full of interest to the scientific world:

I have not sufficient power of language to describe the country in front of us. It was grand, dismal, and majestic. You can imagine a basin, 600 feet deep and twenty-five miles in width, filled with a number of cones and oven-shaped knolls of all sizes, from twenty-five to several hundred feet high, sometimes by themselves, sometimes piled up into large heaps on top of each other, in all conceivable shapes and confusion. Most of these hills were of a gray clay, but many of a light brick color, of brunt clay; little or no vegetation. Some of the sides of the hills, however, were covered with a few a scrub cedars. Viewed in the distance at sunset it looked exactly like the ruins of an ancient city. I regret very much that some gentleman well acquainted with geology and mineralogy did not accompany the expedition, for we marched through a most wonderful and interesting country. It was covered with pieces of petrified wood, and on the tops of some of the hills we found petrified teen to eighteen feet in diameter. Large quantities of iron ore, lava, and impressions of leaves in the rocks of a size not known to any of us.

I this difficult and almost impassable region a portion of the Indians whom Sully had defeated on the 28th of July attempted to offer resistance, but were badly defeated, leaving over 100 dead on the field. After this hopeless effort, in which General Sully reports that they exhibited none of the spirit and audacity which characterized the fight on the 28th of July, the Indians scattered and broke up their combination entirely. The Tetons separated into small fragments, fled toward the southwest; the Yanktonais, with other confederated tribes from the north and east sides of the Missouri, crossed the Missouri River, and retreated rapidly into the British possessions by way of Mouse River. General Sully followed them nearly to the British line. Finding the country west of Fort Rice in the direction of the Yellowstone impracticable for wagon roads, Sully decided not to establish a post so high up on that river, but placed a garrison at mouth of Yellowstone and another at the trading post of Fort Berthold, lower down on the Missouri River. These posts, in connection with Fort Rice, will keep open the Missouri River, tender travel along the valley secure, and separate the Indian tribes, so that another concentrating will be impracticable, even should the Indians seek it. Sully returned slowly by way of the Missouri River valley to Fort Rice. After leaving that post well garrisoned and in good condition, and sending the Thirtieth Wisconsin Volunteers to the Mississippi to go south to Sherman's army, Sully came slowly down to Sioux City, where his last dispatches are dated. To Fort Randall and also to Fort Pierre chiefs of the combined Sioux tribes which he had defeated came in and asked for peace acknowledging that they could not fight against the whites, that they had lost everything, robes, lodges, provisions, &c., and would be in a starving condition. They were informed by the commanding officers of those posts that the only conditions of peace required from them were that they would behave themselves and not molest the whites. The Indians were both surprised and gratified that peace on such easy terms was to