"Correspondence: Captain A. O. Smoot's Company," Deseret News, 11 June 1856, 106.
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CAPT. A. O. SMOOT'S COMPANY.
NOON HALT 424 1/2 miles East of G.S.L. City, May 15, 1856
EDITOR DESERET NEWS:—
Sir:—The grass has been almost entirely wanting, from East Kanyon Creek to the Platt Ferry. When we arrived aT the upper crossing of Sweet Water we took a right hand road denominated 'Hank's Cut-off,' traveled five miles and camped on the evening of May 3d, near an alkali pond.
At 10 p.m. a dreadful storm commenced from the northeast and continued to increase until morning; the men turned out of their beds and tied blankets upon the animals, and thus preserved them from perishing. They were driven in the teeth of the storm to a patch of willows in a bend of the Sweet Water, about three miles distant, where they could get a little shelter and some brush to eat. The storm continued with unabated fury for fifty-six hours.
The snow was drifted to a considerable depth. Most of the men got no sleep during the storm, but kept their bedding tied upon their animals, also fed them flour, biscuits etc., and all but two were saved, though the whole were greatly weakened.
On the 6th we left our stormy camp, and regained the road with considerable difficulty, which we could not follow as the snow was drifted in all the hollows, in many places five or six feet deep. Most of the day was cloudy, but in the afternoon the sun came out for a few hours, and all our faces were severely sunburnt. Elder Orson Pratt, Thos. King. O. P. [Orrin Porter] Rockwell and several other were struck blind, and suffered the most excruciating torture for several days. Most of the camp were also afflicted with inflammation of the eyes.
While on Greasewood creek, on the night of the 10th, we encountered another severe storm, which lasted most of the next day.
While at Willow Creek, snow covered the ground nearly one foot deep.
On the 13th we crossed Richard's bridge over the Platte, paying $3 per wagon, and 50 cts. each for horsemen—Capt. Heath is stationed there with 65 men. He has a Shian [Cheyenne] chief in irons, and intends to keep him until his nation delivers up some Indians who murdered a white man near that post, about two weeks since.
Capt. Smoot exerts every energy in his power to facilitate the movements of the company, which have been retarded beyond all our expectations by the storms and the want of feed. Our animals are however improving, and the feed in the Black hills promises well. All in camp are enjoying usual health.
BRANCH OF LABONTA, 443 miles from G. S. L. City, May 16.
We camped hurriedly last night, seven miles back, in consequence of a heavy rain; the storm king pelted us merrily all night, rendering the ground very soft. We seem to be blessed with storms of great severity.
The grass since we struck the Platte, has been continually improving, and promises a greater abundance than we have heretofore seen on the plains, if the grasshoppers which seem to be hatching out in millions do not devour it all.
SMALL CREEK, 401 miles from G. S. L. City, May 17, 7 a.m.
Br. Benson found a ford, which with considerable difficulty, was crossed. The crossing of the Labonte was also troublesome, as in both cases we had to drive from the main road and cross the creeks in very rough places.
Our hunters brought in an antelope; which was the third since we left home. Game very scarce. Camp ready to start,
Yours truly, GEO. A. SMITH.