CATLIN ON THE NORTH AMERICAN INDIANS.
Tins volume completes Mr. CATLIN'S work ; and differs in form from its predecessor by the greater number and extent of the author's excursions. Amid all the different accounts of different tribes of Indians, however, it does not contain so complete a de- scription of any one tribe as his first volume presented of the Mandans, among whom he sojourned many months. His condensed accounts, too, want the vividness and markings of his more minute descriptions, without gaining any particular largeness or strength ; and the substance of some of his adventures, being set in a fictitious framework, seem unreal. Two of his excursions, however, are interesting and life-like—the one involving a solitary journey of five hundred miles across the Prairies ; the other a military expedition to the Camanchees and their allies, by a regi- ment of dragoons. As any thing in the shape of American warfare is curious in itself, and has just now unhappily a further interest, we will give a few particulars of this military expedition. The object of the campaign was to open up a communication with a remote and powerful tribe of Indians, as well as to reclaim a child which had been carried off after the murder of its father. The expected number of the regiment was eight hundred men ; but only four hundred and fifty "organized" at Fort Gibson, their rendezvous : whether Mr. CATLIN means that the strength of the regiment was only about half its muster-roll, or that the men took the liberty of not attending, or whether this was the force the authorities at last determined to despatch, we do not know. This deficiency was of no consequence as it turned out ; but Mr. CATLIN had strong misgivings as to the result if the Indians had been hostilely disposed. Before the march began, be wrote this sketch of
PERILS OF CAMPAIGNING IN THE PRAIRIE.
To penetrate their country with the other view, that of chastising them, even with five times the number that are now going, would be entirely futile, and perhaps disastrous in the extreme. It is a pretty thing (and perhaps an easy one, in the estimation of the world) for an army of mounted men to be gaily prancingover the boundless green fields of the West ; and it is so for a little distance: but it would be well that the world should be apprized of some of the actual difficulties that oppose themselves to the success of such a campaign, that they may not censure too severely in case this command should fail to ac- complish the objects for which they were organized. In the first place, from the great difficulty of organizing and equipping, these troops are starting too late in the season for their summer's campaign by two months. The journey which they have to perform is a very long one; and al- though the first part of it will be picturesque and pleasing, the after part of it will be tiresome and fatiguing in the extreme. As they advance to the West, the grass (and consequently the game) will be gradually diminishing, and water in many parts of the county not to be found. As the troops will be obliged to subsist themselves a great part of the way, it will be extremely difficult to do it under such circumstances, and at the same time hold themselves in readiness, with half-famished horses and men nearly exhausted, to contend with a numerous enemy who are at home, on the ground on which they were born with horses fresh and ready for action. It is not probable, however, that the Indians will venture to take advantage of such cir- cumstances: but I am inclined to think that the expedition will be more likely to fail from another source—it is my opinion that the appearance of so large a military force in their country will alarm the Indians to that degree that they will fly with their families to their hiding-places among those barren deserts, which they themselves can reach only by great fatigue and extreme privation, and to which our half-exhausted troops cannot possibly follow them. From these haunts their warriors would advance and annoy the regiment as much as they could, by striking at their hunting-parties and cutting off their supplies. To attempt to pursue them, if they cannot be called to a council, would be as useless as to follow the wind ; for our troops, in such a case, are in a country where they are obliged to subsist themselves ; and the Indians being on fresh horses, with a supply of provisions, would easily drive all the buffaloes ahead of them, and endeavour, as far as possible, to decoy our troops into the barren parts of the country, where they could not find the means of subsistence.
These predictions were more than verified, in one sense. At the American frontier nearly half the men, including the col:a- mender, fell sick of a bilious fever, attributed by Mr. CATLIN to the season. After waiting some time in the hope of their res- toration, the commander determined to send on his second with the disposable force ; and 250 out of 450 started, and effected their purpose of negotiating with the Indians and recovering the child. But they returned from their campaign in such a plight as fully to justify our author's misgivings as to the result had they met with resistance. This is Mr. CATLIN'S description of their return march from the Canaanchee village towards their own frontier. "Many are now sick and unable to ride, and are carried on litters between two horses. Nearly every tent belonging to the officers has been converted to hospitals for the sick; and sighs and groaning are heard in all directions. From the Camanchee village to this place, the country has been entirely prairie; and most of the way high and dry ground, without water, for which we sometimes suffered very much. From day to day we have dragged along, exposed to the hot and burning rays of the sun, without a cloud to relieve its intensity or a bush to shade us, or any thing to cast a shadow except the bodies of our horses. The grass for a great part of the way was very much
dried up, scarcely affording a bite for our horses; and sometimes for the dis-
tance of many miles the only water we could find was in stagnant pools, lying on the highest ground, in which the buffaloes have been lying and wallowing like hogs in a mud-puddle. We frequently came to these dirty lavers; from which we drove the herds of wallowing buffaloes, and into which our poor and almost dying horses irresistibly ran and plunged their noses, sucking up the dirty and poisonous draught, until, in some instances, they fell dead in their tracks: the men also (and oftentimes, among the number, the writer of these lines) sprang from their horses, and laded up and drank to almost fatal excess, the disgusting and tepid draught ; and with it filled their canteens, which were slung to their sides, and from which they were sucking the bilious contents during the day. " In our march we found many deep ravines, in the bottoms of which there were the marks of wild and powerful streams; but in this season of drought they were all dried up, except an occasional one, where we found them dashing along in the coolest and clearest manner, and on trial, to our great agony, so salt that even our horses could not drink from them ; so we had occasionally the tantalizing pleasure of hearing the roar of and looking into the clearest and most sparkling streams ; and after that the dire necessity of drinking from stagnant pools which lay from month to month exposed to therays of the sun, till their waters become so poisonous and heavy, from the loss of their vital principle, that they are neither diminished by absorption or taken into the at- mosphere by evaporation. " This poisonous and indigestible water, with the intense rays of the sun in the hottest part of the summer, is the cause of the unexampled sickness of the horses and men. Both appear to be suffering and dying with the same disease, a slow and distressing bilious fever ; which seems to terminate in a most fright- ful and fatal affection of the liver."
The close of the campaign was equally disastrous.
"We drew off from that slaughtering ground a few days after my last letter was written, with a great number sick, carried upon litters—with horses giving out and dying by the way, which much impeded our progress over the long and tedious route that laid between us and Fort Gibson. Fifteen days, however, of constant toil and fatigue brought us here, but in a most crippled condition. Many of the sick were left by the way, with attendants to take care of them; others were buried from their litters on which they breathed their last while travelling ; and many others were brought in to this place merely to die and get the privilege of a decent burial.
"Since the very day of our start into that country, the men have been con- stantly falling sick ; and on their return, of those who are alive, there are not
well ones enough to take care of the sick. Many are yet left out upon the Prairies; and of those that have been brought in and quartered in the hospital, with the soldiers of the infantry regiment stationed here, four or five are buried daily; and as an equal number from the Ninth Regiment are falling by the same disease, I have the monnful sound of Roslin Castle,' with muffled drams, passing six or eight times a day under my window to the burying-ground, which is but a little distance in front of my room, where I can lie in my bed and see every poor fellow lowered down into his silent and peaceful habitation. During the day before yesterday, no less than eight solemn processions visited
that insatiable ground ; and among them was carried the corpse of my intimate and much-loved friend Lieutenant West, who was aide-de-camp to General
Leavenworth on this disastrous campaign. * *
"Of the four hundred and fifty fine fellows who started from this place four months since, about one-third have already died; and I believe many more there are whose fates are sealed, and will yet fall victims to the deadly diseases contracted in that fatal country. About this post it seems to he almost equally unhealthy, and generally so during this season all over this region ; which is probably owing to an unusual drought which has been visited on the country, and unknown heretofore to the oldest inhabitants."
This took place in the South, near the confines of Texas, in about latitude 35 longitude 100, and in a region not generally ac- counted deadly, so far as it is known. A campaign in the more settled parts of the country would furnish more supplies of pro- visions and water; but no one, we suppose, will go a-campaigning in America with less than a hundred times four hundred and fifty men ; so that the mouths would multiply as well as the sup- plies, if not in a greater ratio. A foreign force, too, would not be so well adapted to the climate or mode of life as these dragoons,
who we suppose were picked men. So that it appears the Duke of WELLINGTON hit the nail on the head in 1814, when the then Ministry wrote to him on the American war—"You may go to a certain extent, so far as a navigable river or your means of transport will enable you to subsist."
The present volume contains some facts and remarks on the civilization of the Indians ; which have a more reasonable, though
not a very much more practical character, than those in the former volume. Mr. CATLIN attributes the degradation of the Indian and the consequent destruction of his race to the intercourse with the
trappers and traders; who ply him with liquor, incite him to destroy
the game for the sake of the skins, which they buy of him at an enormous profit, selling him goods at an equally high rate, and
getting him involved in debt. In the mean time, cultivation ad- vances; the White people occupy his frontiers ; the state buys his lands, (we do not see the agency of the trader in all this); and the demoralized and drunken Indian becomes an object of contempt,
so that those who associate with him despise him and make no effort to civilize him. The remedy Mr. CATLIN proposes is for the
state to forbid the trappers and traders having any communication with the remoter tribes, but to establish fairs at the different forts, whither the Indians could resort with their furs and the traders with their goods. This might preserve the races longer and more
intact ; but could the American Government carry or enforce such a measure ? And if it could, it would not meet the main evil—
which is the occupation or rather the fraudulent purchase of the
Indian territory at most inadequate prices, and the incapability-of the hunter to live upon what is allotted to him. The only possible
mode of benefiting the Indians, is by securing them an annuity proportionable to the sum which the state receives for their lands. Even then, they would only be an object for fraud and cupidity of another kind to sponge upon their incomes. The childlike mind of the savage seems incapable of existing among civilization on terms of equality—and we are not using equality in the sense of French
Republicans, but in the sense of equal social and mental powers. The only mode of saving the Red Indian is by civilizing him if it can be done ; and one fact advanced by Mr. CATLIN is the most hopeful of any we have seen. Those Indians, he says, which have
received missionaries, refrain from drinking, though they may not altogether have embraced Christianity ; obeying a moral law and ot a spiritual injunction.