SET out from S^ Catherine's landing in ri8o4 the afternoon. The Latitude of this \ October le^** place is 31° 26' 30" North; and Longi- "^^ ^^ tude 6^ 5' 56" —west of Greenwich. A little below are the white cliffs 5 leagues below the Natchez the face of the cliffs is chiefly white sand surmounted by pine; the cliffs are from 100 to 200 feet high ; when the waters are low the basis of the cliffs are uncovered consisting of clay of different colours and some beds of ochre covered here and there by a thin lamina of iron ore; small springs possessing a petrifying property flow over the clay and ochre; numberless logs and pieces of timber converted into stone are strewed about the beach. Fine pure argil of various colours chiefly white and red is found here. Encamped at night upon an Island 7 miles below the place of departure.
Set off; passed Fort Adams, and six miles > farther the line of demarcation, and arrived at the mouth of red river about nine miles below the line of demarcation ; encamped just w^ithin its mouth; the waters of this river have a red appearance from a rich fat earth or marl of that colour born down by the floods from which it derives its name; the mouth of the river is about five hundred and fifty yards wide: here we commenced taking the meanders of the river by course and time depending upon the log to inform us of our rate of going as well as the velocity of the Current; there is however no sensible Current at the mouth : the banks on both sides are here clothed with willows, the land is low and subject to inundation to the height of 30 or more feet above the present level of the waters, the mouth of the red river is accounted to be 75 leagues from New-orleans and 3 miles above the exit of the Chafalaya or Opelousa river which was probably the continuation of the red river, when perhaps its waters did not unite with those of the Missisippi excepting during the inundation. M de Ferrer has settled the Latitude and Longitude of this place; the first at 31° i' 15" N. and the last at 6^ 7' 11" west of Greenwich.
Thursday i8^? Set off up the river, remarked vegetation to be surprisingly luxuriant along the banks owing
no doubt to the rich red marie yearly deposited ri8o4 by the floods of the river — willows grow to a l^^^o^^'' good size, but other forest trees are much smaller than those seen upon the banks of the Missisippi, which may be owing to the newly formed soil or its excessive richness. The river narrows gradually as we advance: at noon it was about 200 yards wide. Got out the instruments, which requiring a good deal of adjustment we were unable to make perfect observations. The Latitude 31°. 8'. 54". 6, perhaps accurate enough to correct the traverse of the river.* The banks of the river are luxuriantly clothed with pea-vine and several kinds of grasses yielding seed, of which geese and ducks are very greedy: got our log line prepared and divided into perches — hove the log and found we went at the rate of 4 perches in half a minute, i. e. 1% mile per hour — very slow—Soldiers do not exert themselves at the oar; came to, for the night having made nearly 13 miles — hove the lead in the middle of the river and found 11 fathoms. There are generally willows growing on one side of the river, and on the other the same small growth of forest trees continues, consisting chiefly of black oak, packawn, hickory, elm &c. The Trees are so exceedingly grand & lofty upon the banks of the Missisippi, that by
* The place of observation was at the extremity of the Course N 32° E 17' to a p! on the left.
1804 1 comparison those bordering on this river seem Octoberj (j^arfish, and appear to bear a kind of proportion to the magnitude of their own river. The extremes of temperature were from 46° to 48° of Farhenheits thermometer. Made this day I2 5S/60 niiles.
Friday 19'.^ Continued our rout up the river ; having given the Soldiers this morning a few words of advice and encouragement, they improved considerably in activity and cheerfulness, hove the log and found we went 7 perches per half minute, the Current yet continues so moderate as to offer no impediment to our rowing along shore therefore not worth estimating: landed before 12 to observe and for dinner. Latitude 31° 14' 50".!. After dinner caught a runaway negro; proceeded on to the confluence of red and black river in Latitude 31° 15' 48" which by our reckoning appears to be 26^ miles from the Mis-sisippi, the Contrast of the two rivers is great, the red river being charged with red marly earth and the other a clear river gives it by comparison a dark appearance, hence the name of black river — Each river is about 150 yards and when united about 200 yards wide. Sounded in the black river and found 20 feet black sand, little or no current. Took specimens of the red marl of red river bank. The water of the black river is rather clearer than that of the Ohio and of a
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warm temperature, probably owing to the waters f 1804 which flow into it from the valley of the Mis- 1 October sisippi particularly from the Catahoola. Made 15 miles 102 perches.
Continue ascending the river ; Thermometer Saturday 20 47° Temperature of the water 73- a spring issuing from the river bank 662 Forest trees on the banks chiefly red and black oak interspersed with ash, paccawn, hickory, some elms, pirsimon &c; several kinds of grass and many humble plants in flower, so that even at this season our country aflx)rds employment for the Botanist. Great luxuriance of vegetation along the shore, grass very rank, and a thick curtain of shrubberry of a deep green; the soil black marl mixed with a moderate proportion of sand, resembling much the soil on the Missisippi banks, yet the forest trees are not lofty like to those on the margin of the great river, but resembling the growth on the red river. I omitted mentioning in its proper place, that the last single inundation of the red river appears to have deposited on the high bank a stratum of red marl above % inch thick now dry; some specimens were taken. Took a meridian altitude of the Sun, from which the Latitude deduced was 31° 22'46".6—observed Canes growing on several parts of the right bank, a proof that the land is not deeply overflowed, perhaps from i to 3 feet: the banks have the
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1804 ") appearance of stability, very little willow or other October J productions of a newly formed soil being seen on either side: the solid high bank being deeply shaded by vegetation from the humble creeping plant to the spreading oak. Encamped at sun-set. Sounded; 5 fathoms — black sand — Extremes of the Thermometer 47°—80? Made this day 13 miles 40 perches.
Sunday 2i'.» Thermometer before sun-rise 60° Continue ascending; no current to imped us, for altho' there be a feeble current along the principal thread of the stream, yet as this is deflected from bend to bend, we easily avoid its influence by directing our course from point to point or rather passing a little under the points, and in fact where there is any current, a compensation is found by the counter current or eddy under the points. The river is now only 80 yards wide; the timber becomes larger, the banks in some places 40 feet high, yet liable to inundation, not from the floods of this small river, but from the intrusion of its more powerful neighbour the Missisippi: The lands decline rapidly (as in all alluvial countries) from the margin to the Cypress swamps, where more or less water stagnates all the year round. The current of the river is still so insensible even in the thread of stream, that we take no account of it: at 8^ a.m. we arrived at an Island, small but elevated, said
to be the only one in this river for more than ("1804 100 leagues ascending. On the left bank near I^^^^^^'^ the Island is a small settlement commenced by a man and his wife: a covered frame of rough poles without walls serves for a house, and a Couple of acres of indian corn had been cultivated, which suffices to stock their little magazine with bread for the year; the forest supplies Venison, Bear, turkey &c, the river fowl and fish ; the skins of the wild animals and an abundance of the finest honey being carried to market enables the new settler to supply himself largely with all other necessary articles; in a year or two he arrives at a state of independence, he purchases horses, cows & other domestic animals, perhaps a slave also who shares with him the labours and the productions of his fields & of the adjoining forests. How happy the contrast, when we compare the fortune of the new settler in the U. S. with the misery of the half starving, oppressed and degraded Peasant of Europe ! ! — The banks here are not less than 40 feet above the present level of the river water and but rarely overflowed; the nearest road to the high lands at the Rapid-settlement on the red river, nearly west is said to be 40 miles thro' an inundated alluvial country ; it is probable the direct distance does not much exceed one half, the numerous lakes in the overflowed lands rendering the road very circuitous: both banks are clothed
1804 1 with rich Cane-brake, pierced by many creeks October J £j ^q carry boats during the inundation: saw-many Cormorants and the stately Hooping Crane: Geese and Ducks not yet abundant; they arrive in myriads with the rains & winter cold: Landed before noon to observe: we had been disappointed at the hour of breakfast by clouds in making observations for the magnetic variation and for regulating the time & rate of going of the watch, preparatory to the lunar observation, & now apprehended the same disappointment, the heavens being loaded with flying clouds : just before the Sun was expected on the meridian, a dense cloud concealed him from view, when he reappeared he was already dipped a little; the latitude deduced is undoubtedly too far North 31° 37' 52'.5 the sun had therefore not attained his meridian altitude.
This afternoon found the shore favorable for tracking, (i, e.) running along shore & towing the boat; rate of going by log a little improved 5 perches p! 5^ minute. At 3^ p. m. thermf 83°. — The banks have a regular shelving slope from the top to the water's edge & are totally covered with the most luxuriant herbage consisting chiefly of 5 or 6 kinds of strong grass yielding vast crops of seed nearly mature, upon which Geese and Ducks get surprisingly fat: we shot some water fowl of the Duck kind, whose web-foot was partially divided, the body
covered with a bluish or lead coloured plumage; ri8o4 they were extremely fat and excellent, resem- \ October bling in taste the Canvass-back, The teal of these rivers is also very fat and fine. Wind S.S.E. and cloudy. Encamped. Extremes of the thermometer 60°—83''. Made this day 14 miles 59 perches.
Thermometer before sun-rise 65? Wind S.S.E. Monday 22? cloudy. A few drops of rain before day: set off as soon as we could get the men ready & on board. — Soldiers slow in their movements — continues cloudy & threatens rain. Green matter floating on the river, supposed to come from the Catahoola and other lakes and bayoos of stagnant water, which when raised a little by rain flow into the black river. Saw also many patches of an aquatic plant resembling little Islands, some floating on the surface of the river, and others adhering to or resting on the shore and logs; examined the plant & found it to be a hollow jointed stem with roots of the same form; extremely light with very narrow willow shaped leaves projecting from the joint, embracing however the whole of the tube extending to the next inferior joint or knot; the extremity of each branch is terminated by a spike of very slender and narrow seminal leaves from one to two inches in length and Xo o^ ^^ss in breadth, producing its seed on the under side
1804 1 of the leaf in a double row, almost in contact, Octoberj ^j^g grains alternately placed in perfect regularity: I have not been able to detect the flower, so as to be able to determine the class and order to which the plant belongs, it is not probably new; I at first supposed it might be the same which is described by Mf Bartram as occupying large portions of the surfaces of rivers in East Florida, but upon examination I found it to be entirely different.
The day continued cloudy; at noon it rained, we had consequently no observation for the Latitude. At 3*1 p. m. therm' at 79° — the afternoon continued cloudy. The current is yet insensible as to any opposition made to our progress. Sounded in the evening, found 3 yi fathoms, the river being now considered very low. Extremes of thethermy 65°-79° Wind S.S.E. Cloudy — made i 3 miles 76 perches.
Tuesday 23? Thermometer 68°—the riverfor several nights past has fallen about 3 inches perpendicular each night: observed a great number of muscles and periwincles along shore: the muscle is of the kind commonly called pearl-muscle, & by means of its long tongue makes considerable progress along the bottom & upon the beaches of the river when under water: our people had a quantity of them dressed and found them to be agreeable food: to me they were tough and
unpalatable. The wind altho' a head but not f 1804 strong, we got along pretty well; but towards I^^^°^^'' 11^ a. m. it became much stronger, and we made little way. Notwithstanding the cloudy state of the atmosphere we were fortunate in getting a good meridian observation, by which it appears we were in Lat: 30° 36' 29" nearly 3 miles higher than the town of Natchez : after dinner proceeded to the mouth of the Catahoola on the left and landed to get information from a french man settled here : he has a grant of land from the Spanish government, has made a small settlement and keeps a ferry-boat for crossing men & horses traveling to or from Natchez and the settlements on red river and on the Washita river: the Country here is all alluvial; in process of time the rivers shutting up ancient passages & elevating the banks over which their waters pass, no longer communicate with the same facility as formerly; the consequence of which naturally is that many large tracts formerly subject to annual inundation are now entirely exempt from that inconvenience: such is the situation of a most valuable tract upon which this french man is settled: his house is placed upon an Indian mount with several others in view: there is also a species of rampart surrounding this place & one very elevated mount; all of which I propose to view and describe on my return, our situation not now
1804 'I admitting delay: the soil here is equal to the October j ^^^g^ Missisippi bottoms ; the proprietor says the high mount is not less than 80 feet perpendicular, of this we shall form some estimate at our return. We obtained from him the following list of distances from the mouth of the red river to the Post on the Washita called Fort Miro.
From the mouth of Red river to the mouth of black river . . . . .
To the mouths of Catahoola, Washita & Tenza ......
To the River Ha-ha on the right
To the Prairie de Villemont on the same
To Bayoo Louis on the same — rapids here
To Bayoo Boeufs on the same
To the Prairie Noyee (drowned Savannah)
To Pine point on the left .
To the Bayoo Calumet
To the Coal mine on the right & Gypsum on the opposite shore ....
To the I'! Settlement
To Fort Miro
The accounts of the low state of the river we receive here are rather discouraging, as it appears, that on the first rapids, seven leagues distant there are only 22 inches of water, and we now draw at the stern 30 inches or more.— Went on and encamped within the mouth of the river Washita. This river derives its appellation from the name of an indian tribe formerly
merly resident on its banks, but now no more f 1804 to be found; it is said that the remnant of the 1^^^°^^'' nation went into the great planes to the westward & either compose a small tribe themselves, or are incorporated into another nation. The Junction of the Washita with the Tenza and the Catahoola a little below, all together form the black river, which last here, loses its name, altho' our maps represent it as taking place of the Washita : the Tenza and Catahoola are also names of ancient tribes now extinct: the latter is now the name of a Creek or bayoo i 2 leagues long, which is the issue of a lake of the same name 8 leagues in length & 2 leagues generally in breadth, it lies west of this place & communicates with the Red river during the time of the great annual inundation; it receives at the West or N.W. angle a Creek called little river, which preserves a channel with running water at all seasons, meandering along the bed of the lake; but all other parts of its superficies during the dry season from July to november & often latter, are completely drained & become clothed in the most luxuriant herbage: the bed of the Lake then becomes the residence of immense herds of Deer, of Turkeys, Geese, Ducks, Cranes &c &c feeding upon the grass and grain; the Duck species being generally found on or near the little river. The Bayoo Tenza serves only to drain off a part of the waters of the
1804 1 inundation from the Missisippi low lands which Octoberj ]^gj.g communicate with the black river during the season of high waters. By reference to our Latitude at Noon we find the mouth of the Washita to be in Lat: 31° 37' sy" — Extremes of the thermometer 68°-73°. Sounded — found 6 fathoms — muddy bottom. Made this day 9 miles '/y}4 perches.
Wednesday 24.^ Thermometer before sun-rise 54° — Wind North — Cloudy — Temperature of the river water 71? No current to impede our progress worth estimating. Made slow advancement as usual with our oars; found the shore favorable for tracking or towing, which mode we continued nearly all day making at the rate of five perches pf }4 minute, which is about half a perch more than by rowing: a boat properly constructed for an expedition of this nature ought to advance with more than double our velocity. The wind was contrary all day otherwise we might have gone at the rate of 6 perches which is equal to 2^ miles per hour, more might be performed, but our Soldiers seem at certain times to be without vigour & now and then throw out hints that they can work only as they are paid.
The high lands on both sides have now the appearance of being above the inundation ; the timber is such as is generally produced upon
high lands chiefly Oaks, red, white & black; J1804 interspersed with a variety of others; the mag- 1^^^°^^'' nolio grandiflora is absent; its presence is an infallible sign of lands not subject to inundation. We observed to day along the banks the strata of solid clay or marl (not recent but apparently ancient) to lie in very oblique positions, some making an angle of nearly 30° with the horizon & generally inclined with the descent of the river, altho' in a few cases the position was contrary; timber was also seen projecting from under the solid bank, which last seems to be in some measure indurated; it is unquestionably very ancient presenting a very different appearance from the recently formed soil: the river is here about 80 yards wide. The Bayoo Ha-ha comes in unexpectedly from the right about a league above the mouth of the Washita, and is one of the many passages or issues thro' which the waters of the great inundation penetrate & pervade all the low countries, annihilating for a time the currents of the lesser rivers in the neighbourhood of the missisippi. Vegetation is extremely vigourous along the alluvial banks; the twining vines entangle the branches of the trees & expand themselves along the margin of the river, in the richest and most luxuriant festoons, and often present for a great extent a species of impenetrable Curtain varigated and spangled with all possible gradations of Color
i8o4 \ from the splendid orange to the enlivening green October J Jown to the purple & blue and interwoven with bright red and russet brown. A carpet of the finest shrubbery overspreads the elevated margin, composed of a variety of elegant vegetables, to many of which probably no names have yet been assigned by the Botanist; and in positions where the shade is not too deep, the surface is enameled with thousands of humbler plants in full blossom at this late season.
The day has continued cloudy but begins to clear away about 11^ a.m. we therefore landed before noon to observe & found our Latitude to be 31° 42' 30^.5—The timber of the higher grounds is still remarked to be inferior in size and height to that on the Missisippi; but here it may be accounted for by a less fertile soil, not apparently (at most rarely) subject to inundation. The wind still continues in the N. or N.N.W. but the clouds are disipating and tomorrow we expect fair weather, for making observations. Extremes of the thermometer 54°—68°. Encamped after completing a poor days voyage of 14 miles 48 perches. Thermr at 8^ p.m.
Thursday 25'? Thermf in air 49° — in river water 68? Wind north. Cloudy. Continued & passed Villemont's prairie on the right & pine point opposite : the prairie obtained its name in consequence of its
being included within a grant under the french ("1804 Government to a gentleman of that name; some 1 October of the family & name yet remain at New Orleans but I have not heard of any claim for this land; many other parts of the Washita are named after their early proprietors: the french people projected & began extensive settlements upon this river, but the general massacre planned & in part executed by the Indians against the french, and the consequent massacre of the Natchez tribe by the french, broke up all those undertakings & they were not re-commenced under the french government. Those prairies are planes or savannahs without timber, generally very fertile, producing an exuberance of strong thick and coarse herbage. When a piece of ground is once got into this state in an indian country, it can have no opportunity of re-producing timber; it being an invariable rule to fire the dry grass in the Fall or winter, to obtain the advantage of attracting game when the young tender grass begins to spring; & thus the young timber is destroyed, & annually the prairie gains upon the wood land ; it is probable that the immense planes known to exist in America may owe their origin to this practize. The planes of the Washita lie chiefly on the East side, & being generally formed like the Missisippi lands sloping from the bank of the river towards the great river, they are more or less liable to the influence of
i8o4 1 inundation in the rear, which has been known Octoberj ^^ advance so far in certain great floods, as to be ready to pour over the margin into the Washita river ; this however has now become a very rare case & it may generally be estimated that from ^ mile to a whole mile in depth will remain exempt from inundation during high floods : and this is pretty much the Case with those lands nearly as high as the Post of the Washita, with the exception of certain ridges of primitive high land ; the rest being evidently alluvial, altho' not now subject to be inundated by the Washita river, (which has originally caused their formation), in consequence of the great depth, which the bed of the river has acquired by abrasion.
We saw a good deal of high land to day on either bank producing pine and other timber not the growth of inundated lands. About a league beyond Pine point we arrived at Bayoo Louis on the right, being the commencement of the rapids or rather shallows: Sent people into the water to search the best channel, and after being frequently aground and dragging the boat we got up into a situation about a mile higher, where we were in a manner embayed, being shut in by a gravel-bar upon which there was scarsely in the deepest part a foot of water : finding the men fatigued by being so much in the water at hard labor, we thought it best to
rest for the remainder of the day and consuh ri8o4 upon what was best to be done.—The bar be- \ October ing of inconsiderable breadth & no rock in the bottom as we had been taught to expect, it was thought best to cut a channel sufficient for the passage of the boat, which we supposed would take less time than unloading, transporting & reloading at a considerable distance from our present station.—The weather continued damp and disagreeably cold all day : we had no observation at noon. Extremes of the Therm' 49°-6o? Wind at North. Clearing up — many stars to be seen in the evening: made 3 miles 120 perches.
Thermom' in air 40° in river water 65° — Friday 26'!" Wind N.W. light clouds. The morning being very cool, it was thought best for the people to take an early breakfast before going into the water to work. After breakfast commenced digging the cannal which was required to be about an hundred feet long: this business went on heavily & slowly as usual, and it was not untill noon that it was made barely of the depth which it was supposed might pass the boat.
The day being fine made some observations for the regulation of the watch & for the magnetic variation, and at noon had a fine observation, from which the Latitude of this remarkable place was ascertained to be 31° 48'. 57". 5 — a
i8o4 1 little way up the river ^^ of a mile there is a October j high ridge of primitive earth studded with an abundance of fragments of rock or stone, which appears to have been thrown up to the surface in a very irregular manner, the stone is of a friable nature, & some of it has the appearance of indurated clay; without it is blackish from being exposed to the air, and within of a greyish white: it is said that within the hill, the strata are regular, & that good grind-stones may be obtained. After dinner the boat was moved into the channel, where she stuck fast. Cables, ropes and pulies were got across and fixed to trees: handspokes were used to raise & push her along and we made some way thro' the bar, but evening coming on we were obliged to desist in hopes of being able to get over in the morning. Extremes of the thermom' 40°—70°. Wind N.W. Clear star light. Discovered a barge coming up behind us ; she also grounded & sent her people out to search for the channel.
Saturday if^ Thermometer in air 32° in river water 64° Wind N. Clear above. A fog upon the river, occasioned by the condensation of vapor arising from the surface of the river: the morning being very cold with a hoar-frost, the people were directed to get their breakfasts and prepare to use their exertions in getting the boat over the shoal; the day proved very fine with an agreeable
able warm sunshine, but it was i^ p.m. before f 1804 we got entirely over into floating water on the I October opposite shore, the men having upon this occasion exerted themselves to my entire satisfaction. The occupation of this day prevented us from making any astronomical observations. — After dinner we pushed on and arrived at the last of the rapids at this place; here we found a ledge of rocks across the entire bed of the river, but having previously sounded and discovered the best channel, we got over into deep water after grounding and rubbing two or three times : The river became again like a mill-pond without current, excepting a motion barely perceptible along the concave shore, the velocity was nevertheless very considerable upon the shoals where the depth of water was small. The whole of those first shoals or rapids embraced an extent of 15^ miles; that is, the obstruction was not continual, but felt at short intervals along this space : Encamped about i yi mile above the last rapid. Extremes of the therm! 3 2°-/3° The evening proves fine & mild. Therm! at 8^ p.m. 62° Wind North. High pine land on the right
— breadth of the river 100 yards.
Thermometer in air 40° — in river water 63? Sunday 28'.''
— Wind N.W. Clear—fog on the river. Continued our voyage & made some observations for the Longitude & magnetic variation at the hour
i8o4 1 of breakfast. High lands and a large Savannah October J g^^j^ ^j^ ^.j^g right in the morning passed a rocky hill soon after and * Bayou aux boeufs' on the right about 4 leagues from the rapids. At noon got a good observation, Latitude deduced 31 ° 5 3' 35". 5 — at 3^ p.m. the thermom' was at 78° in the shade; the day was warm and the sun powerful : observed some more planes to the left: the river made several returning courses to day, to the southward of west. Thermom!: at 8^ p.m. 56°
— Extremes 40°—73? Sounded—3 fathoms — mud & sand. Made this day 12 miles 116 perches.
Monday 29'!" Thermom^ in air 41° in river water 62° Wind N.W. Fog on the river. Continued our voyage
— The banks of the river seem to retain very little alluvial soil; on the opposite shores we see frequently to the water's edge the high land earth, which is a sandy loam of a greyish light color with streaks of red sand & clay; the soil is not rich, bearing great numbers of pines, interspersed with red oak, hickory and dog-wood. The river is now from 60 to 100 yards wide. At the hour of breakfast made three lunar observations, and one sun's altitude to regulate the watch, which with the observations of yesterday will give the rate of going of the watch proportioning for change of Latitude and departure as we advance in the progress of our voyage; I do not however think it of much
importance to regard those observations untill ri8o4 we arrive at the post of Washita, which I sup- I October pose to be nearly the most easterly point of the river; there and at the hot-springs (the most westerly point we shall visit) we shall take time to make correct observations; all other points of the river will be ascertained with sufficient precision from our geometrical survey so frequently corrected by the Latitude. At Noon we found our Latitude to be 31° 58' 2". Having made some advantageous alterations in the arrangement of our benches and oars, we advanced with a little better speed; about 6 perches p' ^ minute which however does not exceed 2%. miles pf hour in water without any sensible opposition from the Current. The wind came about to S.W. in the evening; Therm' at 8^ p.m. 62° Extremes 41°—85°. Soundings — 3 fathoms mud & sand — made this day 14 miles 65 perches.
Thermom' in air 47° in river water 60° Wind Tuesday 30'.'* W.N.W. Fog on the river. Clear above. — Continued our voyage: the land on either bank seems to be from 30 to 40 feet high and does not improve in quality: pine-trees seen in most situations — nothing remarkable occurred except a rapid we passed in the afternoon, formed by a ledge of rocks which traversed the river, narrowing the water channel to about 30 yards, but the extent between the high banks was not
1804 1 less than a hundred. At noon found the Latitude October] ^^ ^^ ^^o ^, ^^,^ j^ would appear from the distances run by our Log and time, when compared with the estimated distances by the french inhabitants and hunters, that their league scarcely exceeds two miles. Encamped near a sand beach favorable for hauling the sene & catched a sufficiency of fish to serve all the people for supper and breakfast. Thermf at 8!* p.m. 60? Extremes 47°-83? Made this day 15 miles, 150 perches.
Wednesday 31'.* Thermom! in air 44° in river water 62° Wind N.N.W. Clear — fog on the river — Continued our voyage. This morning met with shallow water & strong currents, our rate of going, deducting the velocity of the stream was reduced to 2 perches : got upon shoals about 8!" a.m. which detained us greatly, and impeded us more or less untill the afternoon ; at noon we had a good observation ; Lat: found 32° 10' i 3" — at q}" p.m. got over the last shoal for this day & went on in good water untill the evening, the channel was very narrow, the sand bars at every point extending so far into the bend as to leave little more than the breadth of the boat of water sufficiently deep for her passage, altho' the water often covered a breadth of 70 to 80 yards upon the shoal: in the afternoon passed a little plantation or settlement on the right and at night came up with three others joining each other :
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here is a plane or prairie upon which those set- f 1804 tlements are placed; from the regular slope of tOctober the land from the river bank towards the eastward, we may be assured the soil is alluvial, yet the bed of the river is now so deep that it is no longer subject to that inconvenience, but in the rear the Missisippi advances & sometimes leaves dry but a narrow stripe along the banks, it is however now more common that the extent of the fields cultivated (from ^ to ^ mile) remain dry during the season of the inundation : the soil here is very good but not equal to missisippi bottoms; it may be esteemed second rate. At a small distance to the East are extensive Cypress swamps, over which the waters of the inundation always stand to the depth of 15, 20 & 25 feet. On the west side after passing over the Valley of the river, whose breadth is various from ^ to 2 miles or more, the Land assumes a considerable elevation from 100 to 300 feet and extends all along to the settlements on the Red river; those high lands from report are poor & badly watered, being chiefly what is termed a pine-barren : there is here a ferry & a road of Communication between the Post of the Washita and the Natchez & a fork of this road passes on to the Settlement called the rapids on Red river, it is distant from this place by computation 150 miles.
From the experience we have had of this
i8o4 1 river and the information obtained, it appears October J ^.j^^^ ^.j^g present is the least favorable season for ascending this river with a boat of so considerable a draught of water as ours; the spring of the year is the most advantageous, the Missisippi then flows up into the beds of the inferior rivers, raising their waters sometimes within a few feet of the top of the banks; the small current is then often in favor of the ascending boat: this objection would vanish if light boats were used drawing only 6 or 8 inches of water & if well constructed might make with ease i2 leagues or even 40 miles p! day; such ought to be the kind of boats for an expedition fitted out to explore; as little time as possible ought to be lost in moving, that more may be left for observation and research: in our actual situation our dayly progress seldom equals 14 or 15 miles, which is a sad drawback upon the accomplishment of the objects of an exploring expedition. On this part of the river lies a considerable grant of Land conceded by the Spanish Government to the Marquis of Maison rouge a french emigrant, who bequeathed it with all his property to M. Bouligny son of the late Colonel of the Louisiana regiment & by him sold to Daniel Clark; it is said to extend from the post of the Washita with a breadth of two leagues including the river down to the bayou Calumet, the computed distance of which along the river is
called 30 leagues, but said to be not more than ri8o4 12 in a direct line. Extremes of the thermom^ [October 44°-84? Made this day 6 miles 165 perches.
Thermom! in air 48? in river water 62°— fNovembcr Calm—clear above, a little fog on the river. i^^"''^'^^>' ^ Having sounded last evening a shoal upon which there is 18 inches water in the deepest place, we prepared, by unloading part of our Cargo, to cross it : we obtained the use of two Canoes, which with a good deal of trouble enabled us to get over about noon : finding a Canoe so useful & being informed of other rapids and shoals before us, we bartered away a smaller canoe with a little cash for the larger of the two we had borrowed, proposing to put two of our best hunters into the empty Canoe by which they might keep a head & procure some game, & be ready on all emergencies to assist the Barge. Dined & continued our voyage; met with several retardments from shoals. Made only 4 miles 115 perches. Extremes of the thermom! 48°-85° at 8^ p.m. 64° Weather extremely fine & agreeable, the slow progress of our boat being the only circumstance of regret, as tending to disappoint our prospects.
Thermom' in air 48° in river water 62° light Friday 2^. clouds—Wind S.S.E. a little fog on the river.— Continued our voyage with immense sand bars
1804 1 in view at every point: the utmost care in steer-Novemberj -j^g ^^g necessary to keep clear of shoals and sunken logs, vv^hich latter were frequently very embarrassing : we suffered much detention this day from those causes, being twice fast upon a sunken log under water, and our boat being so unwieldy & heavy, there was no getting her off by any exertion of poles &c which could be made on board, a rope was carried ashore from the stern, & by that means she was hove backwards & cleared of the log: we lost i ^ hour each time by two such accidents, & several times got upon shoals which delayed us greatly: light flat boats proper for the navigation of shallow waters would pass over all such obstacles without touching, & when they do touch, being light, they are easily pushed back ; external keels are very improper for any boat upon the missisippi or any river where logs are to be encountered: our boat to her other in-conveniencies was provided with a keel, which added to her draught of water, made her much more difficult to get over a log or shoal, it being impossible to clear her by pushing latterally. Therm! at 8^ p.m. 78° Extremes 48°-84° Made this day 8 miles 104 perches.
Saturday 3^ Therm! in air 52° in river water 64° Some light clouds. Continued our voyage with very little variety, a great sameness appears as to the
[ 3S ]
river and its banks. Altho' we got several times ri8o4 aground we were not so unfortunate as yester- 1^°^^"*^'' day; immense sand bars or beaches with steep banks on the opposite shore continued to be the objects of our view, very Uttle alluvial land except at some points opposed to Cliffs, was to be seen: along the margin of the river, many humble plants are to be seen in flower at this late season, altho' the leaf falls from the trees of the forest: the great variety of tints which the foliage assumes before it separates finally from the parent stock, presents to the Eye an infinitude of beautiful landscapes, and if critically examined is perhaps not without its use: it will be found that the leaves of the same tree are all changed to the same Color, which is probably occasioned by the oxigen of the atmosphere acting upon vegetable matter deprived of the protecting power of its vital principle, & thereby calls forth its latent colorific properties : I have always remarked that the leaves of such trees whose barks and woods are known to produce a dye, are changed in autumn to the same Colour, which is extracted in the Dyer's vat from the woods more especially by the use of alumn or other mordant; whose predominant principle yields oxigen : thus the foliage of the hickory & the oak yielding the quercitron bark is changed before its fall to a beautiful yellow; other oaks assume a fawn colour, a liver or blood colour,
i8o4 1 and are also known to yield dyes of the same NovemberJ complexion : I am persuaded from the few observations I have made that this rule will be found general, and may therefore serve as an excellent guide to the Naturalist who directs his researches to the discovery of new objects for the use of the Dyer.
At noon we found ourselves in Latitude 32^* 17' 17" — nothing remarkable occurred in the afternoon, except a discovery made by D' Hunter (walking along the river side) of a substance resembling mineral Coal: I suppose from its appearance, that it is the Carbonated wood described by Kirwan and other Chemists: some specimens were preserved; it does not easily burn, but on being applied to the flame of a candle, it seemed to encrease it & yielded a faint smell resembling, in a slight degree that of the gum-lack of common sealing wax. In the evening passed over some rapids and shoals ; bottom stone & gravel. Thermom! at 8^ p.m. 72° Extremes 52°-86° Made this day 11 miles 140 perches.
Sunday 4'.'' Thermom' in air 54° in river water 64° Clear. This has been an unfortunate day; the morning and afternoon were spent upon shoals and rapids with stoney & gravelly bottoms, the Men having been a great part of the time in the water. Got a good observation at noon; Latitude found
32° 2i' lo". Made only 4 miles 233 perches, f 1804 Thermom! at S^ p.m. 63° Extremes 54-83. iNovember
Therms in air 52° in river water 62° heavy Monday 5'^ fog & damp air. We were obliged this morning to take out part of our loading to enable us to pass over a shoal carrying only 18 inches w^ater, which detained us untill near 10^ a.m. — In the course of the day got upon several shoals of inferior note, but upon the whole we were more fortunate than usual, the water being generally deeper and with little current. We remarked a greater appearance of fertility as we approached the Settlement; the trees are of larger dimensions, & there is a due proportion of shrub or underwood, which was absent in the poorer lands; some fields of Cane began to appear, which is a sure indication of a fertile soil: we had also leisure to admire the beautiful tints assumed by the foliage of the vegitable world: it was apparent that the external leaves most exposed to the light & to a freer circulation of air, exhibited the first changes of Color, while those of the same plant under a thick shade still retained their deep verdure. The Willow tree pendent over the water, presents a fine deep yellow along the outline of the plant, from whence may be traced a regular gradation, thro' the admired lemon color down to the soft and delicate summer's green, which last in the shade, retains
i8o4 1 its full verdure: on other trees may be seen a November J jjggp blood color inclining to black, descending by regular shades to the palest pink mingled with green & from thence by similar gradation to the usual summer verdure of the plant: Leaves plucked from the tree at this season & preserved in the shade w^ill retain their beautiful colors for a great length of time.
The river continues of the same general breadth, i. e. from 80 to 100 yards, but the water channel is often confined to 30 yards. The Atmosphere had this day a smokey or misty appearance; the Sun broke forth a little in the afternoon, but shone with diminished lusture. This smokey or misty appearance which in our Country is common in the months of november and december is attributed to a common practize of the Indians and Hunters, of firing the woods, planes or savannahs; the flames often extending themselves some hundred of miles, before the fire is extinguished; it is observed that rain always follows those conflagrations; sometimes the condensation of the smoke occasions a fine rain resembling a fog or thick dew, but at other times the rain is impetuous accompanied by thunder & lightening & immediately after it clears up fine, but not always without a continuation of the blue misty appearance of the Atmosphere.
Soft friable stone is frequently seen and great
loads of gravel and sand upon the beaches; red- ri8o4 dish Clay appears in strata much indurated and 1^°^^"^°^'' blackened by exposure to light and air. — The water of this river is extremely agreeable to drink and much clearer than that of the Ohio; in this respect it is very unlike its two neighbours the arcansa and red rivers; whose waters are extremely charged with earthy matter of a reddish brown color, giving to the water a chocolate-like appearance; & when those rivers are low their waters are not potable, being extremely brakish, from the great number of salt springs flowing into them & very probably from the beds of rock-salt over which, (it has been reported) they flow: the inconvenience from this cause, to voyagers, is not so great as might be apprehended, as it appears that brooks & springs of fine water falling into those rivers, particularly the arcansa, are very frequent, and may be met with often in the course of a days progress. — Altho' the water of the Washita river does not exhibit any saline impregnation, yet from report there are many situations in its neighbourhood where salt may be procured by digging pits in the places called salt-licks, where water is found equally strong with sea-water; we expect to examine some of those on our way upwards. Thermom' at 8^ p.m. 58° Extremes 52°-68° Wind at N.W. Made this day 11 miles 276 perches.
Thermom' 45° in air — in river water 64° — PJovemDer 1 j^g^yy fQg Wind W. Continued our voyage w^ith 6tb J better fortune; that is, we escaped any consid-
erable obstructions from rapids and sand bars. No variety was to be seen in the appearance of the Country on either side the river. At noon got a fine observation about a league below the Post of Washita; Latitude deduced 32° 28'58"; by the sinuosities of the river it appears we are not more than a mile to the south of it: arrived there about 3^^ p.m. and were very politely received by Lieu* Bowmar, who immediately offered us the hospitality of his Dwelling with all the services in his power. The Position called Fort Miro being the property of a private person, who was formerly civil commandant here, the Lieutenant has taken post about 400 yards lower and has built himself some log-houses and enclosed them with a slight stockade: this young officer exclusive of the manners of a polite Gentleman, appears to possess talents ; he has formed a tollerably good chart of the river from its mouth to the Post, being the result of his own labors on the way up to take possession of the Post, this he has continued upwards from the best information he has been able to obtain; the whole gives a satisfactory idea of the river & part of the Country; we have also obtained some further information from the former Commandant a french man, and other persons here,
of all which we have made notes & shall avail ri8o4 ourselves in the prosecution of our voyage. [November
Thermom^at 8^ p.m. Extremes 45°-79? Made this day 9 miles 257 perches; amounting in the whole to 196 miles 256 perches from the mouth of the red river to the Post of the Washita ; and by the old computation 90 leagues.
Thermometer in air 52° in river water 64° Wednesday 7*^ Clear. Finding from past experience that the boat in which we have come up, would be improper for the continuation of our voyage, we made enquiry this morning for other craft, but it appears there is no great choice of boats at this place ; prepared also for astronomical observation : being greatly interrupted by visitants who came to offer services &c we were prevented from making any useful observation un-till noon & even then we were incommoded: the Sun's meridian altitude gave the Lat: 32° 29' 52".5 but I was not perfectly satisfied with this observation ; from the Causes mentioned I suspect the altitude was taken a little too late, & shall hope to correct if necessary by future observations. Therm' at 8^ p.m. 67? Extremes 52°-8o?
Thermomr in air 53° in river water 58° Thursday Si*" Cloudy. This was a disagreeable, damp and cold day : made further enquiry for small boats with
i8o4 1 little success; found only one, which with an-Novemberj Q^i^gj- ^f ^he same burthen might answer our purpose: no observation made this day. Upon viewing the Country on the East of the river, it is evidently alluvial; the surface is equal with a gentle slope from the river towards the rear of the plantations ; the land here is of excellent quality, being a rich black mold to the depth of a foot, under which there is a friable loam of a brownish liver color, which very probably will itself become a good soil when broken up & exposed to the influences of the elements. Therm! at 8^ p.m. 56° Extremes 53°-6i°
Friday 9'^ Thermom' in air 42° in river water 61° Cloudy, damp & cold. Continued our search for proper vessels and heard of a flat-bottomed barge, which we expect will be very suitable, with the reduced loading we intend to carry with us, the boat will probably draw only i 2 inches water: no observation, it being dark, cloudy & disagreeable all day. Extremes of the thermometer ^2°-y2°
Saturday 10'^ Thermom^ in air 40° in river water 58° Clear—calm—this day having the appearance of being fine & serene, prepared for observation ; and in the course of the day took altitudes of the Sun for the regulation of the watch and the magnetic variation : at noon found the Latitude
by a fine observation to be 32° 29' 35", this dif- [1804 fers from that of the y^ by 17"; I give the pre- "^ °^^"^ ^^ ference to the result of this day, for reasons already mentioned; In the afternoon took distances of the moon from the Sun to the w^est of her and in the evening took distances of the moon from a Arietis to the east of her, which may be considered as a complete series for the determination of the Longitude.
Having hired the barge and agreed to give I % dollar p' day for the use of her, we had her brought along side: She is upwards of 50 feet long &c Sj4 feet in breadth built tollerably flat, her bottom being still a little convex & being pretty well formed for running. This boat with some improvements is probably the best form for penetrating up shallow rivers, she is undoubtedly too long, as we shall certainly meet with short turns among logs & perhaps rocks, the passage of which might be facilitated by a shorter boat: got her loaded before the evening with a view to set off early next morning. She made some water—found about bed time, that she had made a great deal of water ; kept her baled all night. Thermom! at 8^ p.m. 34? Extremes 4o°-72°
Thermometer in air 24° in river water 53° Sunday u? Clear — calm.— Got the Barge hauled ashore and caulked, which detained us untill the afternoon :
i8o4 1 noon ; got another good observation at noon, November] ^2iich gives the latitude 32° 29' 30".5 that is 43^ " less than yesterday, and as those two observations were both very good, the mean of the tw^o results may be taken for the truth, the latitude of the place of observation will therefore be 32° 29' 32".75 and as the post or Garrison lies 4^ " north of the place of observation, we may consider its latitude as fixed at 32° 29' 37". 25. Set out after dinner and made 3 miles. Encamped at the plantation of Baron Bastrop. It appears that this small settlement on the Washita & some of the Creeks falling into it contains only 500 persons of all ages & sexes ; it is reported that there is a great deal of excellent land upon several considerable Creeks falling into the Washita & that consequently the Settlement is capable of great extension, & may be expected, with an accession of population to become very flourishing : there are three merchants settled at the post, who supply the inhabitants at very exorbitant prices with their necessaries; those with the garrison & two small planters and a tradesman or two constitute the present village: a great part of the inhabitants still continue the old practize of hunting during the winter season ; their peltries go to the Merchant at a low rate in exchange for necessaries ; in the summer these people content themselves with making corn barely sufficient for bread during the year;
in this manner they always remain extremely f 1804 poor; some few who have conquered their habits [November of indolence (which are always a consequence of the indian mode of life) and addicted themselves to agriculture, live more comfortably & taste a little the sweets of civilized life.
Thermom! in air 36° —in river water 54° — Monday the 12' Clear — Calm — Got on board some fresh beef and other provisions this morning, which detained us a little. Continued our voyage with a pilot on board hired at the rate of 30 dollars p!! month. Met with several shoals, but passed over them with ease, our Barge not drawing half the water of our own boat, & being also very light both in her timbers & planks; the appearance of the lands along the river is not very inviting, much pine woods upon a thin poor soil: to the right the settlements on the Bayou Barthelmi and Siard are said to be rich lands. At noon got an observation; Latitude 32° 34' 47 ". Made this day 16 miles 32 perches. Therm! at 8^ p.m. 54° — This Evening a little Cloudy.
Thermom! in air 33° in river water 55° Fog Tuesday 13*?' on the river. Calm. Continued our voyage without change in the appearance of the Country: passed an Island and strong rapid at 8!* a.m. & arrived at a little settlement where we halted to breakfast a little below a chain of rocks crossing
i8o4 \ ing the channel between an Island & the main-Novemberj j^j^j called Roquerau — great misery depicted in the Countenances of the Spaniard & his family inhabiting this little settlement, arising as it appears from extreme indolence: the wind at south indicates rain, with a dark cloudy sky : we find our situation greatly improved in our new barge, being able to go about 3 miles pi; hour when the Men use a little exertion : we pass without difficulty over shoals of 11 or 12 inches water. The river acquires a more spacious appearance, being in most places about 150 yards wide. Lost some time on the shoals and at half an hour past noon arrived at the last settlements. Began to rain — put ashore to dine—cleared up — set out and passed the mouth of Bayou Bar-thelmi on the right at 4*? p.m. being 12 computed leagues from the post. Here commences Baron Bastrop's great grant of land from the Spanish Government, being a square of twelve leagues to each side ; a little exceeding one million of french acres, which I presume is more than double of what that Government granted to all persons within the Missisippi territory.— At 11^ a.m. passed Otter Bayou on the left. The Banks of the river continue to be about 30 feet high, of which 18 feet from the water are a clayey loam of a pale ash colour, upon which the river has deposited an alluvion of i 2 feet of light sandy soil, which appears in most places
to be fertile, being of a brownish dark color. J'1804 It seems that this species of land is here of small \ November breadth, not exceeding half a mile on each side, & may be called the valley of the river Washita, beyond which there is high land clothed chiefly with pines.—The Evening is cloudy & dark. Made this day 16 miles 312 perches — Ther-mom' at 8^ p.m. 62° — Extremes 33°-66?
Thermometer in air 44° in river water ^^° —Wednesday i^^ Clear — calm. Continued our voyage, the soil seems to be thin; the growth of the timber is small. We made small progress, being opposed by a head wind. Passed the * Bayou des buttes' in the forenoon ; this Creek derives its name from a vast number of Indian mounts discovered by the hunters along its course: we were detained an hour extraordinary at breakfast, from the necessity of repairing the rudder irons damaged going over a rocky flat. The margin of the river is clothed with such timber as generally grows on inundated lands, particularly a species of the white oak called vulgarly the overcup-oak; its timber is remarkably hard, solid, ponderous and durable, and it produces a large acorn in very great abundance upon which the Bear feeds; it is also very fattening for Hogs.
At noon got a good observation & found the latitude to be 32° 50' 8".5 — after dinner passed a long narrow Island. The face of the Country
i8o4 1 begins to change; the banks are low and steep, November J ^j^^ ^j^^ river generally deeper and much contracted, being from 30 to 50 yards wide; this low Country is 2 or 3 leagues wide on each side of the river, liable to overflow 12 or 15 feet above the level of the land, the soil is a very sandy loam in the neighbourhood of the river, & covered by such vegetables as are found on the inundated lands of the Missisippi; in short this tract presents every appearance of a newly created soil, very different from what we passed below: it may be supposed that there existed a great Lake within the space now occupied by this alluvial tract, which may have been drained off by a natural Canal worn out by the abrasion of the waters, and that since that period, the annual inundations have been replenishing this space with the alluvion of its waters; 18 or 20 feet of soil perpendicular is yet wanting to render it a fit habitation for man; it appears never the less to be well peopled by the beasts of the forest, several of which presented themselves to view, but they must all retire to the high lands during the season of the inundation. We now begin to see quantities of water fowl which are not generally very numerous untill the cold rains and frost drive them to us from the northward. Fish is not so abundant in this river as might be expected ; at the post we were informed that the river had been extremely full of fish untill the
year 1799, when the waters of the inundation f 1804 of the Missisippi dammed up the Washita river [November some distance above the Post and produced a stagnation and consequent corruption of the waters, which destroyed all the fish within the influence of this cause. The river continues to be contracted, seldom exceeding 60 yards and generally deep ; no current is felt excepting in places a little shallower than the rest. — Thermometer at 8*? p.m. 44° Extremes 44^-58° Clear.
Thermometer in air 38° in river water 54°— Thursday 15'?' Clouds — Calm. Continued our voyage thro' a Country of the same appearance as yesterday. Passed some rapids without difficulty — the banks still continue low; from ten to 15 feet above the present level of the river; the water marks on the trees from 15 to 20 feet. Landed to observe about 90 yards higher than the upper point of the Island of Mallet, judging that we were not far from Lat. 33° the division line between the territories of Orleans and Louisiana ; we found the Latitude by a very good observation to be 32° 59'27",5. The Island of Mallet is on the right of the main channel, and the place of observation being 90 yards N 45° E from the upper point of the Island. Making allowance for the breadth of the river (50 yards). Latitude 33° may be found from the above data when the Jurisdiction of the territories may
1804 1 require it, this Island of Mallet being very well Novemberj jj^^own to the Hunters. Should time and circumstances permit on our return, a 2** meridian altitude of the Sun may be taken and a proper mark set up in Lat: 33?—In general the bed of the river along this alluvial country is fully covered by water from bank to bank & the navigation good, but to day at 3^ p.m. we passed 3 contiguous sand-bars or beaches called * les trois bat-tures'; & at three & a half hours p.m. the * bayou des grand Marais' (great Marsh Creek) on the right: passed also in the evening on the same side * la Cypriere Chattelrau' : a point of high land approaches within half a mile of the river on the right. Thermom' at 8^ p.m. 50° — Extremes 33°—60°. Made this day 16 miles 42 perches. This days voyage was shortened by an indisposition which confined me to the tent un-till the hour of breakfast.
Friday 16'f' Thermomf in air 38? in river water 54° — Cloudy—Calm. Set out at 6^ 58' and continued our voyage, the wind rises northerly against us, nevertheless we make 7^ perches p^ yi min: whereas with our former boat we should not have exceeded 4 per: still however our improved progress is short of the velocity which a boat for our purpose ought to attain; it should not fall short of i 2 per: p' ^ min : which would be about 4)^ miles p' hour. No observation to
day the weather being cloudy, damp and dis-J'1804 agreeable. Between 11 & 12 o'clock passed on \November the right the * marais de la Saline * (Salt-lick marsh) There is here a small marshy lake, but it is not intended by its name to convey any idea of a property of brackishness in the lake or marsh, but merely that it is contiguous to some of the licks, which are sometimes termed * Saline' & sometimes * glaise,' being generally found in compact clay which might serve for potter's ware; the bayou de la Tulipe forms a communication between the lake and the river: there is opposite to this place a point of high land forming a promontory and advancing within a mile of the river, to which boats resort when the low grounds are under water: a short league after, we came to the mouth of the grand bayou de la Saline (Salt-lick Creek) on the right; this is a creek of considerable length & tollerably good navigation for small boats, the Hunters ascend it to an extent of a hundred of their leagues in pursuing their game. They all agree that none of the springs which feed this Creek are salt; it has obtained its name from many buffalo salt licks which have been discovered near to the Creek. Altho' most of those licks by digging will furnish water holding in solution more or less marine salt, yet we have reason to believe that many of them would produce Nitre. We now begin to observe a stratum of a
1804 1 dirty white colored clay under the alluvial soil;
November j j.jjjg ^j^y jg similar to what we observed before we entered the alluvial tract; we have therefore reason to expect, that we are gradually emerging from this sunken tract & shall soon ascend into the high land country. Made this day 17 miles 185 perches. In the evening it began to rain. Thermom^ at S^ p.m. 42? Extremes 38°-
Saturday if} Thermom' in air 40? in river water 54° — fog on the river—calm — river risen 2}^ inches during the night.
Continued our voyage; the low lands are still alluvial, at least to a certain depth; an under stratum of clay appears in many places, where the banks have been undermined & broken down: we remarked that since we entered the alluvial country about 32° 52' Lat: we have seen no long moss (Tilandsia) altho' this low damp country seems in all respects well adapted to favor its production; upon enquiry of our Pilot, he informs us, we shall see no more of it; probably its limit of vegetation northerly may be fixed by nature near to 33° Lat: Saw a great quantity of the long-leaf pine, which is frequently found in rich & even inundated lands as is the case here; the short leaf or pitch pine on the contrary is always found upon arid lands & generally in sandy & lofty situations; but
our Country furnishes it in a hard meagre clay. J'1804 In the forenoon saw the first swan which was 1 November shot by one of our hunters; it was a soUtary one whose mate had probably been killed: this is the season when the poor inhabitants of the settlement of the Washita turn out to make their annual hunt; they carry no provision with them but a little Indian corn, depending on their guns and ammunition for the rest. The Deer is now fat & their skins in perfection; the Bear also is now in his prime with regard to the quality of his fur and the quantity of fat or oil which he yields, he has been feeding luxuriously for some time upon the autumnal fruits of the forest, such as pirsimmons, grapes, pawpaws, walnuts, packawns, hickory-nuts, chinquapins, beech-mast, a great variety of acorns &c &c; it is however well known (notwithstanding the fancies of some writers) that the Bear does not confine himself to vegetable food; the planters have ample experience of his carnivorous disposition. He is particularly fond of Hog's flesh, but no animal escapes him that he is able to conquer : Sheep & Calves are frequently his prey and he often destroys the fawn when he stumbles upon it; he cannot however discover it by the sense of smelling notwithstanding the excellence of his scent; Nature has protected the helpless young by denying it the property of leaving any effluvium upon its tract, which property
i8o4 \ perty is so powerful in the old Deer: perhaps Novemberj ^^ ^^^ ^^^ 1^^ generally known to Naturalists,
that between the hoofs of Deer &c is found a sac with its mouth inclining upwards; this sac always contains more or less musk, which by escaping over the opening in proportion as it is secreted, gives to the foot the property of leaving on the ground a scent wherever it passes: during the rutting season the musk is most abundant particularly in old males, which may often be smelt at a considerable distance by the hunters. The Bear unlike to most other beasts of pray does not kill the animal immediately he has seized upon, but regardless of its strugles, cries and lamentations, fastens upon it and (if the expression may be allowed) devours it alive: the taste of Mr Bruce & his Abyssinians may have been formed upon this excellent model. —The hunters count much of their profits from the oil drawn from the Bear's fat, which at New-Orleans is always of ready sale, and is much esteemed for its wholesomeness in cooking, being preferred to butter or hog's lard ; it is found to keep longer than any other oil of the same nature, without turning rancid: they have a method of boiling it from time to time upon sweet-bay leaves which restores it or facilitates its conservation. At noon found our Latitude to be 33° 13' 16".5. In the afternoon saw a small Aligator, which we did not expect in so northern
ern a situation; passed a few rapids & saw cane J'1804 brakes on both sides, the canes of a small size, \ November which demonstrates that the water does not surmount the bank above a few feet: the river widens & a number of sand-beaches are seen. Thermf at 8^ p.m. 44° — Extremes 40° —41°. Made this day 15 miles 308 perches.
Therm! in air 32° — in river water 52° — Sunday iS'}' Serene—Calm—river seems rather on the rise. Set out at7!" 20'and continued our voyage; passed along a narrow passage this morning, about 70 feet wide; the whole of the water of the river runs thro' this passage ; on the left the old channel of the usual breadth leaves an interval which becomes an Island when the water passes along the old bed of the river during freshes: Came up to a place at the hour of breakfast where there is an appearance of some clearing called * Cache la Tulipe' (Tulip's hiding place) this is the name of a french hunter who concealed his property in this place. It continues to be a practize of both white and red hunters, to deposit their skins &c. often suspended to poles or laid over a pole placed upon two forked posts in sight of the river, untill their return from hunting; these deposits are considered as sacred and few examples exist of their being plundered.
The banks of the river have now the appearance of the high land soil, with a stratum of 3
i8o4 1 or 4 feet of alluvion deposited thereon by the November] j-jygj.^ ^.j^jg superstratum is greyish and very sandy with a small admixture of loam, which indicates the poverty of the mountains and uplands where the sources of the river take their rise. At noon we found our Latitude to be 33° 17'13" — In the afternoon passed on the right, the entrance of a bay, which within must form a great lake during the inundation. We now see a considerable number of the long-leaf pine tree; the canes along the bank have a better appearance being much larger in size, this indicates a better or more elevated soil: Canes subject to be inundated, i. e. the land to be inundated 3,4 or 5 feet, are always small and tough; they grow much finer where there is little or no inundation, provided the soil be rich & loose. Passed a high hill (300 feet) on the left clothed with lofty pine trees. Thermom' at S^ p.m. ^y° cloudy weather threatens rain. Made this day 18 miles 75 perches. Having been much indisposed for some days past, the number of remarks are probably fewer than might have been made—I still remain in the same situation.
Monday 19^1" Therm! in air 54°—in river water 54° — Cloudy—Calm — river at a stand. Set out at 6!" 56' and continued our voyage. The banks present still more the appearance of the high land soil, the under stratum being a pale yellowish
clay and the alluvial soil of a dirty white sur- [1804 mounted by a thin covering of a brownish veg- t^®^^"^^^"^ etable earth: the trees begin to have a better appearance, growing to a considerable size and height, tho' much inferior to those of the alluvial banks of the Missisippi: passed the * bayou de hachis * on the left this morning; points of high land not subject to be overflowed frequently touch the river, the valley is said to be league or more in breadth on each side of the river : passed some pine hills on the left called * Cote deCham-pignole', the river has been narrow during the course of this day's voyage, not exceeding on the average from 50 to 60 yards. Thermometer at 8!* p.m. 62° Extremes 54°-67? Made this day 18 miles 120 perches.
Thermf in air 59° in river water 54° — Cloudy Tuesday 20"* — Calm. No change in the river. Set off at 6^ 48' — The banks of the river appear to be higher and the river wider, we meet with a number of sand beaches and some rapids but good deep water between them. At jyi^ a.m. passed a creek which forms a deep ravine in the high lands and has been called * Chemin Convert' — a little past 8!* we ascended a rapid where the water was confined to a breadth of 40 yards, a little farther we had to quit the great channel on account of its shallowness and rapidity, & passed along a narrow channel 60 feet wide : without a
1804 'I guide a Stranger would have taken this passage November j £q^2. Creek. Between 11 and 12^ saw analigator, which surprised us much at this late season & so far north. The Banks (exclusive of the large timber) are covered by cane or thick underbrush, frequently so interwoven with thorns and briars, as to be impenetrable, untill the way is cut with an edge tool: we see also some species of timber not common below, such as Birch, Maple, holly & two kinds of timber to which no other name has yet been given but * Bois du bord de I'eau* (water side wood). Pirsimmons and small black grapes are plenty in some situations ; the first are often very large and excellent, the last a mixture of sweet and tart; those are also common on the Missisippi. The weather being cloudy we did not land to observe. In the afternoon observed some feruginous earth on the right: the margin is frequently fringed with a variety of plants & vines, of the latter several species of the convolvulus, which no doubt in their season ornament this river with their elegant flowers. Thermom' at 8^ p.m. 54° Extremes 54°-62? Made this day 18 miles 308 perches.
Wednesday 21V Therm! in air 43° in river water 54° — a little fog— calm. Set out & passed a hill and cliff I GO feet perpendicular crowned with lofty pines called * Cote de Finn * (Finn's hill) a chain of
high land continues some distance on the left; ri8o4 the cliff presents the appearance of an ash col- 1 November ored clay; passed a strong rapid, and a little farther a Creek on the right called Bayou d'Acassia (Locust Creek): The river varies here from 80 to 100 yards wide; we frequently see indications of iron along the banks and some thin strata of ore from ^ inch to 3 inches thick, but no other metalic appearance, nor indeed any thing uncommon in the fossil kingdom ; a little cloudy this morning, but cleared up before noon & got ashore hastily at a steep inconvenient place among trees and brush, and had a tollera-bly good observation notwithstanding : Latitude found 33° 29' 29". The day proves mild, warm and agreeable, which acted as a restorative to myself and others who had been indisposed for some days past: Thermy at 3^p.m. 72° Altho' Ducks, Geese and Turkeys are often seen, yet we cannot say they are in that abundance which from report we expected, and they are so shy, that we seldom can get a shot from our large boat; but by sending the canoe a head some game is procured; it is probable that higher up, we shall be more successful. Therm!; at 8^ p.m. 58° — Extremes 43^-72° Made this day 18 miles 36 perches.
Therm! in air 40? in river water 53° — Light Thursday 22I clouds — calm. — No change this morning in
1804 "1 the general appearance of the country, the tim-Novemberj j^gj. gu^h as has been mentioned, with an increasing proportion of holly, birch, maple and beautiful pine-trees; at io>^^ a.m. came to the road of the Cadadoquis Indian Nation leading to the Arcansa Nation; a little beyond this is the Ecor a Fabri (Fabri's Cliffs) 80 to 100 feet high : it is reported that a line of demarkation run between the french and Spanish provinces, when the former possessed Louisiana, crossed the river at this place; and it is said that Fabri a french-man & perhaps the supposed Engineer deposited lead near the cliff in the direction of the line: we could not however obtain any authenticated account of this matter, and it is not generally believed: a little farther is a smaller cliff called *le petite cor a Fabri' (the little cliff of Fabri) ; those cliffs appear to be composed chiefly of ash-colored sand with a stratum of clay at the base, such as reigns all along under the banks of this river. The day being hazy and cloudy we made no observation for the Latitude at noon. In the afternoon we encountered a great many difficult rapids, the current of the river being frequently confined to a very small space, where the depth of water is but barely sufficient for the passage of the boat; the additional rapidity of the current indicates that we are ascending into a higher country. The water of the river now becomes extremely clear and
is equal to any in its very agreeable taste as a ri8o4 drinking water. The general breadth of the [November river to day has been about 80 yards, altho' in certain places not above one half of this quantity. We now find immense beaches of gravel and sand, over which the river passes, in the season of its floods with the rapidity of a torrent, carrying with it vast quantities of drift wood which are in many places piled up in prodigious masses, lying 20 feet above the present level of the water, and points out to us already the danger of ascending or descending this river in certain degrees of its floods: accidents nevertheless are rare with the canoes of the Country ; ours is the first barge of so large a size that ever ascended this river: passed a very intricate rapid in the evening, which we could not get up untill we had carried a rope ashore. Encamped upon an elevated gravel beach : Therm! at S^ p.m. 54° Extremes 40°—68° Made this day 14 miles 317 perches.*
This day an unlucky accident happened, which was very nigh being extremely serious. Doctor Hunter was employed in the cabin of the boat loading one of his pistols; he held it between his legs upon a bench with his head almost
* It must be expected that imperfections in our reckoning must arise from the retardments and difficulties met with on the rapids and shoals ; compensations for lost time and rate of going are made at the moment when the best judgement can be formed.
i8o4 1 over the muzzel: while in the act of ramming Novemberj ^q^^ the ball, the pommel slipt from the bench & the cock of the lock came with force against it, which giving way discharged the pistol, the rammer and ball passed thro' the fingers & thumb of the right hand & also thro' the brim of the hat within little more than an inch of the Doctor's forehead ; his thumb & fingers were much torn, but no bone was broken, the concussion of the head was most severely felt: the bottom of a new powder horn (not well secured) which lay upon the table was forced outwards & the powder partly spilt upon the table, which providentially did not take fire altho' the wadding was found smoking upon the table: the circumstance of the bottom of the powder-horn being forced outwards, points out a curious efl^ect of the elastic power of the air, viz after sustaining a considerable compression the returning vibration causes a partial rarefaction, & at the same instant the common air confined within bodies involved by the sphere of rarefaction, exerting its spring to restore the equilibrium, forces outwards all obstacles not sufficiently secured to resist its action. The Doctor's wounds were dressed ; he sufl^ered great pain and debility, but after some repose felt better in the evening.
Friday 23? Therms in air 48° in river water 54°—light clouds — calm. River upon the fall. Set ofl^ and
continued our navigation thro' difficult passages; J1804 the river is broken into a number of small streams [November by Islands, short turning rapids, sunken logs, shoals, bars, and every impediment to be expected in our situation, and this continued at short intervals during the whole of the day, so that our courses and distances cannot be expected to be perfect; every allowance which could be judged necessary at the moment was made: I fortunately obtained a good observation of the Sun's mer: altitude in the interval of some shifting clouds : Latitude deduced 33° 41' 35'. The banks of the river as we ascend are less elevated, being now only from 9 to 12 feet, and probably the freshes surmount them some feet; we passed a great number of high & low gravel and sand-beaches; on those were to be seen fragments of stone of all forms & of a great variety of colors ; some highly polished and rounded by friction, and may have belonged to the mountains, rivers and oceans of a World, from the ruins of which the Globe we inhabit may have been formed. The banks of the river in this upper Country suffer greatly from abrasion, one side and sometimes both being broken down by every flood. We saw nothing to day worth noticing, no change being observable in the appearance of the lands and timber along the hills and banks of the river: we found on a gravel beach some fragments of the same kind of matter we found
1804 1 lower down resembling pit-coal; it burns with-Novemberj q^^ ^Jaze to a white ash, but will not consume (in common temperature) without other fuel: under the burning glass, it emits smoke & consumes, yielding a faint smell of sealing wax; it is light and friable, & affords very little evidence of being penetrated by bituminous matter. Therm! at S^ p.m. 54° Extremes 48°-/2° Made 13 miles 28 perches.
Saturday 24'.*^ Therm! in air 48° in river water 54° — light clouds — calm—river at a stand. Set off & continued our voyage thro' a country in all respects similar to that thro' which we passed yesterday, excepting that our obstacles from strong rapids are considerably augmented: at a place on the left called * Auges d'Arclon' (Arclon's troughs) we observed some laminated iron ore, and a stratum of tenacious black sand shining with minute chrystals. The general breadth of the river is now 80 yards, tho' in many places greatly enlarged by Islands & shallows, and at other places contracted to 80 or 100 feet. The river is now in many places rocky of a greyish color & rather friable. Observed some willow very different from what is found below and on the banks of the Missisippi, the last is very brittle, this on the contrary is extremely pliant & resembles the osier, of which it is probably a species, I propose on our return to take some plants along with us;
its foliage is now of a golden yellow & falling: [1804 we also found some of the larger Whortle-berry \ November in fruit, the berry is of a Sub-acid agreeable taste, the leaves not yet fallen of a beautiful crimson. The weather being cloudy we had no observation at noon & went on to dine at the forks of the Washita and Missouri the lesser; the latter comes in from the left hand and is a considerable branch, perhaps about ^ of the Washita: Hunters often ascend the little missouri, but they are not inclined to penetrate far up, because this branch reaches near to the great planes or prairies upon the red river, which are often visited by the lesser Osage Tribe settled on the river Arcansa: These last frequently carry war into the Cadadoquis tribe who are settled on the red river about W.S.W. from this place, and indeed they are reported not to spare any nation or people. They do not come upon the head waters of the Washita, because they are surrounded by a number of mountains or steep hills rising behind each other, and so extremely difficult to travel over, that those savages perceiving no desireable object, do not attempt to penetrate to the river, & it is supposed to be unknown to the nation: The Cadadoquis (or Cadaux as the french who are fond of abbreviations generally pronounce the word) may be considered as Spanish Indians; They boast, I am told with truth, that they never have imbrued their hands in the blood of a white
i8o4 \ Man: it is reported (perhaps falsely) that they
November] ^^^ excited to enmity by the Spanish officers at
Nacocdoches against the Americans.
We are told there is a mine up the little Missouri, it is said that the stream runs over a bright splendid bed of mineral of a yellowish and whitish color, it is most probably martial pyrites: some 30 years ago, several of the inhabitants hunters worked upon this mine and sent a quantity of the ore to the Government at New Orleans, but they were prohibited from working any more. Therm'f at 3^ p.m. 59° Extremes 48°-72° Made this day by a very uncertain reckoning 11 miles 152 Perches.
Sunday 25')^ This morning proved very rainy, having commenced raining before day, we were therefore constrained to continue encamped: a cessation took place after breakfast, which gave us some hopes of being able to proceed, but this was not of long duration; the rain recommenced and we remained all day in our tents. We have the consolation however to expect that the river will rise a little in consequence of the rain, which will facilitate our ascent over the shoals that are to be expected above. ThermV at 8^ p.m. 62° Extremes 54°- 70°
Monday 26'^ Therm^f 50°— river water 57°— clear above. Calm— river risen 3 }4 inches in the night. Contrary
trary to expectation the morning proved not f 1804 only fine and serene, but of a mild, agreeable [November temperature. In general after the winter season sets in, the changes in the weather are made by extremes. A day or two of rain is commonly succeeded by a cold and blowing north wester, and the day following a frost of some severity, which has not been the course upon this last occasion, it appears also that the rain has raised the temperature of the river 3? The water is now remarkably clear and fine, and it does not seem to have been discoloured by the last rain. There is still a great sameness in the appearance of the river banks, the Islands are skirted with osier, and immediately within on the bank grows a range of birch trees & some willows ; the more elevated banks of the River are clothed by a thick growth of Cane & the timber which rises above the Cane is such as has been already mentioned Viz. oak, white, black, and red ; many species of each: black Maple, white maple,Sycamore,Elm several species. Ash, hicory many species. Dog wood, Holly, Iron wood &c —
Saw a number of yellow butterflies fluttering about the banks of the River. We continue to encounter the same obstacles from the shoals & rapids ; the valley of the river, in its present low state is filled with Islands, which dividing the current reduces the depth of the Channel; We find no great difliculty where the water is collected
i8o4 1 lected into a single channel. Our Pilot informs November J ug ^]^^^ there is a body of excellent land upon the little Missouri & more especially on the Creek called the * Bayou a terre noire,' which falls into the little Missouri; this land reaches within a few miles of the Washita, and is said to extend to the Red River being connected with the great prairies above the Cadaux nation & in the proximity of the red River: this rich tract of Country is said to be of very considerable extent perhaps a square of 30 miles & is connected with the great prairies which are the hunting grounds of the Cadaux Nation, consisting of about 200 warriors, they are warlike, but frequently unable to defend themselves against the tribe of Osages who are settled upon the Arcansa river, who passing round the mountains which give birth to the Washita, along the prairies which enclose those mountains on the West and seperate them from the main Chain of mountains which furnish the waters of the red & arcansa river, pass down in the Cadaux Country & rob & plunder them of their horses and other effects, & not unfrequently take a few scalps; for it seems that this detached tribe of the Osages is a lawless gang of robbers, making war with the whole world.
Therm^ at 8*^ p.m. 62°—Extremes 5o°-68° Made 12 miles 21 Perches.
Tuesday 27''' Therm^' 54°—river water 58°—Cloudy —
River risen above the mark which was 12 inches J1804 out of water: set off at 7^ i'. and continued our [November Voyage with the same obstacles from rapids, which were very violent at particular points from the encreased body of water descending from the higher position; but we obtained at the same time the advantage of approaching the willows & even passing thro' them, to avoid the most difficult passes. During the hour of breakfast the river rose i^ inches perpendicular. The general height of the main banks is now from 6 to 12 feet above the level of the water, and the land is rather of a better quality, the Canes &c shewing a more luxuriant vegetation: the superficial soil subject to inundation is of brownish appearance greatly mixed with Sand; At noon arrived at * cache a Ma^on* (Masons hiding place) on the right, stopped here for dinner. Having been informed of some pit coal reported to be in the neighbourhood, we determined to explore its position. Doctor Hunter with the Pilot set out for this purpose, & at about i ^ mile N.W. of the Boat found in the bed of a Creek a substance similar to what we had formerly seen under the name of coal; some pieces of it were very black, solid, & of a homogenous appearance greatly resembling pit Coal, but it was deficient in ponderosity, & did not seem to be penetrated by bituminous matter in a sufficient degree to constitute Coal; We may perhaps therefore be permitted
i8o4 1 mitted to consider it as vegitable matter in a November J certain stage of its progress of transmutation into Coal, we were the more confirmed in this opinion by discovering other fragments, which still retained very evidently the fibrous texture of wood, one peice in particular seemed to have been a large chip taken out by the felling ax. Those last pieces were not so far advanced in the transmuting progress as the first mentioned; although black it was not so perfect, being rather a very dark brown black, retaining the exact form & shape of the wood as it had been separated from the log: as this incipient or imperfect Coal was found imbedded among clay & gravel, which appeared to have been washed down by the torrent, no clue could be found to lead to a discovery of the process by which nature effects so extraordinary a change, an ingenious enquirer placed in favorable circumstances, will probably have the good fortune to make this discovery: The time may arrive when the Planter who shall be clearing his Plantation or farm of useless timber, will be enabled from the instructions of the Chemist to place the whole in a situation to be transmuted into an usefull article capable of long preservation. This is no doubt the Carbonated wood described by Kirwan & other Chemists. We found along the banks a species of the white thorn loaded with abundance of ripe fruit, being a small oval berry of a cornelian