Commerce of the Prairies; Or, the Journal of a Santa Fe Trader, During Eight Expeditions Across the Great Western Prairies, and a Residence of Nearly


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CHAPTER III. The 'Catch up'â?”Breaking up of the Encampmentâ?”Perversity of Mulesâ?”Under wayâ?”The Diamond Springâ?”Eccentricities of Oxen-â?”First Glance of the Antelopeâ?”Buffalo Herds and Prairie Novicesâ?”A John Gilpin ...
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Purchase of this book includes free trial access to where you can read more than a million books for free.
This is an OCR edition with typos.
Excerpt from book:
CHAPTER III. The 'Catch up'â?”Breaking up of the Encampmentâ?”Perversity of Mulesâ?”Under wayâ?”The Diamond Springâ?”Eccentricities of Oxen-â?”First Glance of the Antelopeâ?”Buffalo Herds and Prairie Novicesâ?”A John Gilpin Raceâ?”Culinary Preparations â?”A Buffalo Feastâ?”Appetite of Prairie Travellersâ?”Troubles in Fording Streamsâ?”Fresh Alarms and their Causesâ?”A Wolfish Frolicâ?”Arkansas Riverâ?”Pleasing Sceneryâ?”Character of the Countryâ?”Extraordinary Surgical Operationâ?” The ' Pawnee Rock 'â?”Salutary Effects of Alarmsâ?”New Order of Marchâ?”Prairie Encampment and ' Upholstery 'â?”Hoppling and Tethering of the ' Stock'â?”Crossing the Arkansasâ?” Great Battle with Rattlesnakesâ?”A Mustang Colt and a Mule Fracas â?” 'The Caches' â?” Origin and Signification of the Term. Owing to the delays of organizing and other preparations, we did not leave the Council Grove camp till May 27th. Although the usual hour of starting with the prairie caravans is after an early breakfast, yet, on this occasion, we were hindered till in the afternoon. The familiar note of preparation, " Catch up! catch up!" was now sounded from the captain's camp, and re-echoed from every division and scattered group along the valley. On such occasions, a scene of confusion ensues, which must be seen to be appreciated. The woods and dales resound with the gleeful yells of the light-hearted wagon 'catch Up.' 51 ers, who, weary of inaction, and filled with joy at the prospect of getting under way, become clamorous in the extreme. Scarcely does the jockey on the race-course ply his whip more promptly at that magic word ' Go,' than do .these emulous wagoners fly to har- nessing their mules at the spirit-stirring sound of ' Catch up.' Each teamster vies with his fellows who shall be soonest ready; and it is a matter of boastful pride to be the first to cry...
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781154189568
  • Publisher: General Books LLC
  • Publication date: 10/12/2012
  • Pages: 78
  • Product dimensions: 7.44 (w) x 9.69 (h) x 0.16 (d)

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Josiah Gregg was a sickly intellectual who decided to travel the Santa Fe Trail in order to restore his health. He ended up journeying back and forth along the trail four times in the next nine years, and he compiled Commerce of the Prairies from the experiences of these years as an explorer and trader. It is considered one of the most valuable and interesting chronicles of early American history, and covers a wide range of topics, from buffalo hunting and Indian fighting to gold mining and Mexican agriculture. While this book is used for reference by historians of the old West, it is highly entertaining as an adventure story as well:

"...imagine our consternation and dismay, when, upon descending into the valley of the Cimarron, on the morning of the 19th of June, there suddenly appeared before us an imposing array of death dealing savages! There was no merriment in this! It was a genuine alarm - a tangible reality! These warriors, however, as we soon discovered, were only the vanguard of a 'countless host,' who were by this time pouring over the opposite ridge, and galloping directly towards us..."

Along with his own adventures, Gregg relates historical information he has gathered, as well as stories he has heard about other groups of travellers, some of which are quite horrifying:

"The forlorn band were at last reduced to the cruel necessity of killing their dogs, and cutting off the ears of their mules, in the vain hope of assuaging their burning thirst with the hot blood. This only served to irritate the parched palates, and madden the senses of the sufferers. Frantic with despair, in prospect of the horrible death which now stared them in the face, they scattered in every direction in search of that element which they had left behind them in such abundance, but without success...[they] would undoubtedly have perished in those arid regions, had not a buffalo, fresh from the river's side, and with a stomach distended with water, been discovered by some of the party, just as the rays of hope were receding from their vision. The hapless intruder was immediately dispatched, and an invigorating draught procured from its stomach."

When not in the midst of some exciting exploit, the author is very conscientious about recording the details of custom and costume in the lands he travels through, some of which can be quite entertaining as well as informative:

"As we were proceeding on our march, we observed a horseman approaching, who excited at first considerable curiosity. His picturesque costume, and peculiarity of deportment, however, soon showed him to be a Mexican Cibolero or buffalo-hunter. These hardy devotees of the chase usually wear leathern trousers and jackets, and flat straw hats; while, swung upon the shoulder of each hangs his carcage or quiver of bow and arrows. The long handle of their lance being set in a case, and suspended by the side with a strap from the pommel of the saddle, leaves the point waving high over the head, with a tassel of gay parti-colored stuffs dangling at the tip of the scabbard. Their fusil, if they happen to have one, is suspended in like manner at the other side, with a stopper in the muzzle fantastically tasselled."

While the author's observant nature is beneficial to historians and to us as readers, it was not so well appreciated by the members of his expeditions. It is purported that Gregg drove everyone nuts by constantly stopping to take measurements and record observations. The members of one of his parties considered murdering him and depositing his body and his instruments in the river so they could make it to their destination before they ran out of supplies. However, he survived and continued to lead groups of emigrants until he died in 1850 guiding a prospecting party across the Coast Range in winter.

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Table of Contents

Volume I
Preface 1
Chapter 19
Chapter 219
Chapter 331
Chapter 445
Chapter 557
Chapter 676
Chapter 791
Chapter 8108
Chapter 9119
Chapter 10132
Chapter 11142
Chapter 12151
Chapter 13165
Chapter 14179
Chapter 15189
Chapter 16205
Volume II
Chapter 1219
Chapter 2231
Chapter 3244
Chapter 4256
Chapter 5270
Chapter 6285
Chapter 7296
Chapter 8306
Chapter 9321
Chapter 10333
Chapter 11352
Chapter 12371
Chapter 13384
Chapter 14400
Chapter 15416
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