Ballantyne, Richard. "Dear President Snow," St. Louis Luminary, 18 August 1855, 155.
Head of the Little Blue, 20 miles from the Platte River, July 23, 1855.
DEAR PRESIDENT SNOW:—I again take my pen to resume my correspondence with you, to inform you of our continued prosperity, and of the grace of God, our Eternal Father, that has attended this journeying camp of His people.
It has been a subject of astonishment to most of us that so few accidents have occurred during our journey, when the inexperience of the men and wildness of the cattle are taken into consideration. We have not been hindered a day since we started, but have travelled on slowly and steadily, Sundays excepted. On Sabbaths we have had meetings, and administered the sacrament to the Saints.
Owing to the fatigues of the journey and the frustration and excitement produced by unruly cattle, some unwillingness was at first manifested on the part of a few to stand up like men in the discharge of camp duty; but this spirit and feeling is gradually disappearing, and when we assemble together to pray, and impart instruction, the good spirit of our God rests upon us to comfort and encourage the journeying Saints of God.
The Bell is rung around the coral and tents at 4 o'clock each morning for all the people to get out of bed. In a quarter of an hour after the roll is called, and each man is required to be on the ground with his gun to answer when his name is called. A short time is then generally spent in military duty. When the brethren are released to eat breakfast, grease the wagons, or to do anything that may be needed preparatory to starting. About 7 o'clock the cattle are usually yoked up and when all are ready the Bugle is blown and the whole camp of the Saints assemble before the Lord to call down His blessings upon us previous to starting.
The spirit of hurrying has not yet troubled us, yet we have felt to use all diligence as the season is somewhat advanced, our provisions are very limited, and the crops in the Valley seem to be rather scant. We intend being as judicious as possible with our provisions, yet we shall need some supplies before reaching the Valley as we only had in flour to serve us to Green River.
But to return to the order of our camp. When the journey of the day is over, our cattle are turned out in care of well armed guard till dark, when they are either corralled or strongly guarded during the night. We could not carry out your instructions relative to tying the cattle during the night, as we could not obtain a sufficient quantity of rope before we left the Grove.
In the evening about 8 o'clock the Captains of tens assemble those under their care to worship the Lord and impart instruction to each other, and when necessary we call the camp together in a collective capacity, and impart general counsel and instruction. In this way we move on harmoniously, and a cheerful happy spirit animates the bosoms of the brethren and sisters, and as they travel along, the songs of the daughters of Zion, as they pioneer the way, causes every evil and dissatisfied spirit to leave the track or hide its head in shame.
Brother Thirsting's [Moses Thurston's] train travelled with us several days but yesterday they took a new road that is called a "cut off," and they may reach the Platte before we do. The water on the "cut off" is bad, and scarce, and we thought best to continue up the Blue by the usual track. Yours in much love and regard for your welfare. R. Ballantyne.
SUNDAY, July 22d.—We are on the Platte River three miles below Fort Kearney. We have killed and secured the beef of two Buffaloes. Great multitudes of them around us.