"Home Items: Travel on the Plains," Deseret News, 6 September 1865, 389.
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TRAVEL ON THE PLAINS.—In a conversation with Gen. H. B. Clawson, since his return, we have gleaned numerous items of interest relative to travel on the plains, and the danger from Indians. Many persons traveling with trains, through not seeing Indians are apt to get careless, relax their vigilance and sometimes stray off a short distance from the train, when the ever-watchful, cunning and sanguinary redmen suddenly appear, butcher them, and another item is added to the list of massacres by the savages. There are Indians, numbers of them, on the route, but they keep out of sight until they see a sure chance for plunder and blood; then they show themselves, murder and rob, and are out of sight immediately. In this way all or nearly all the massacres that have taken place on the plains this summer have occurred. Individuals would straggle off from their trains, or very small parties would get careless and neglect to be watchful, and the Indians would be upon them without intimation from any quarter of their being near. Various parties and persons have been thus murdered within sight of the trains with which they were traveling. A moderate sized train or party of determined, vigilant and well armed men might travel across the plains in comparative safety. Soldiers are scattered along the road in considerable numbers; yet the difficulty is not to fight the Indians but to find them.
Many of the incidents on the plains during the past season are calculated to awaken admiration at manifested courage and provoke contempt for pusillanimous cowardice. Illustrative of the former, a number of Indians attacked eleven soldiers and two government wagons in the neighborhood of the Laramies, some short time ago. Some of the soldiers escaped and the rest were killed. One of the teamsters, a powerful, muscular man, fired his revolver till all the chambers were discharged, and then remaining by his wagon, he fought the savages with his fists until he was over powered. His death was horrible: they chained him to the wagon wheel, piled bacon around him, and burned him to death. The following incident shows the reckless daring and audacity of the Indians. Two days previous to Gen. C. reaching Virginia Dale in the stage, a body of Indians made a demonstration against that place and in the face of 250 Kansas and Colorado cavalry, under the command of Col. Plum, who had just arrived there, ran off six head of cows without one of the Indians being injured.
The troubles like principally between Sulphur Springs and Virginia Dale 200 miles west of it; and all along the line of road between those two places, parties of Indians appear when they feel disposed, and commit their depredations. Some forty-six individuals are reported to have been massacred by them during the past month, and it is not known that a single Indian has been killed in the time.
The General speaks in high terms of Mr. Holliday's exertions to run the stage; and just as soon as a proper escort can be got the mail will be run daily as before. All the agents on the line seem to be doing their best to have the mail put through. Mr. David Street, General Superintendent of the line, is untiring in his efforts to have mails and passengers carried with certainty and safety; and Mr. Spotswood, Division Agent from Denver to North Platte, in whose division the greatest amount of trouble exists, goes with the stage regularly every week himself, at all personal risk, sees it through his division and returns. He is spoken of as brave as a lion and of gentlemanly demeanor. The stage is rarely attacked by the Indians. They know the passengers are all well armed, and do not seem to think the booty would be worth the risk.
Our readers can arrive at their own conclusions as to the efficiency of the protection afforded to the route, and can easily comprehend that with parties traveling across the plains at present, the old adage is fully verified,—" Eternal vigilance is the price of safety."