News from our Immigration.

250 Miles East of Fort Laramie,
Near the junction of North and South Forks of Platte river, August 8th, 1854.

President Brigham Young:–

Dear Brother:

You will no doubt be surprised to learn that the Church Train is so far from Utah, but unavoidable circumstances have detained us.  It was found, after proceeding 10 miles upon our journey from Fort Leavenworth, and the scattering fragments of our camp had been collected together, that we lacked some 12 or 15 yoke of cattle for leaders, before we could move all the wagons at once.  Capt. James Brown and H.S. Eldredge went back to Jackson Co., bout 75 miles, to procure the required number.  In the meantime brs. Pratt and Kesler continued to roll forward the train as fast as they could.  They succeeded, by traveling the ground three times over, in getting out one hundred miles from Fort Leavenworth by the time the brethren returned with the additional cattle, with the loss of only a few axle-trees and wagon tongues, which were soon supplied.

After this we were enabled to move forward all the wagons at once, at the usual rate of traveling.  Thus we were detained until after the middle of July, with 1150 miles still before us.  We continued to be prospered after this so that the last week of our traveling we averaged about 19 miles per day, and the cattle felt well, and we were full of hope, and cheerful with the expectation of still reaching the Valley by the 1st of October.

But alas! our expectations vanished in a moment.  On the morning of the 5th inst., we turned out our cattle at 3 o’clock as usual to feed.  They had scarcely arrived at their feeding place, some 40 rods from camp, when they became frightened, and a stampede ensued.  The guard instead of alarming the camp as they had been previously and frequently instructed ran after them on foot and succeeded in recovering a part of the herd, only about three miles from camp.  It was about 5 o’clock before they returned and notified the camp, when brs. Eldredge, Capt. Russell, and others immediately pursued on horse and foot.  After going about ten miles into the bluffs, they overtook 2 yoke of oxen which had given out; these were so frightened that it took them some tow of three persons to drive them back.  The balance of the horseman continuing on some five miles further, on one branch of the trail, overtook nine head  more, which they bro’t into camp.

After getting some refreshments, five men started on horses and mules, with three or four days provisions, to follow the trail.  These were all the horses and mules that were in the least bit to be rode.

On the evening of the same day, brs. E.T. Benson, Ira Eldredge, Erastus Snow, Orson Spencer and company, arrived in our camp in good health and spirits.  The next morning the two brs. Eldredge and some others went back on the road, with the intention of going some 25 or 30 miles in search.  The same day, (being Sabbath) brs. Benson and Ira Eldredge were acknowledged in their appointment as the leaders, and presidents of the camp by the unanimous vote of all.  A short time before sundown one of the horseman returned, being sent back with seven head of cattle which were overtaken in the bluffs, some 30 or 40 miles from the camp.

We found by counting the cattle which remained, that about 120 head were still missing.  On the morning of the 7th we sent two men on horseback, with a fresh supply of provisions, and instructed to go and meet those still on the search.  About 11 o’clock two more of the hunters returned, driving br. Pratt’s carriage horses before them; they had become so broken down in running over the bluffs and sand knolls that they could scarcely be got into camp.  They reported that they had followed up the trail till it became so scattered and defaced that they could follow it no further, and that the men and animals were nearly famished for want of water; that after riding some 15 miles beyond where they lost the trail in the direction that the cattle had before traveled, and after a diligent search upon the highest hills, and in different directions, and could find no trace, they concluded to strike for the road some few miles to the east of our camp.  After reaching the road they met the two men with provisions, and four of the company started east, and came into camp.  About sundown br. Eldredge returned with his carriage, having met the company, and directed five of them to bear off into the bluffs in a south west direction, in hopes to intersect the trail.

About 11 o’clock Capt. Russell and Ira Eldredge returned and reported that the five persons traversed the bluffs in different directions for some 18 miles back from the road, until they intersected the trail which had already been traveled by the horsemen, when three were directed to camp for the night, and they returned, striking the road out eight miles east of the camp.

It is now 10 o’clock a.m.  We are yoking the cattle we have left in hopes to move our camp a few miles today.

Brs. Benson and Horace S. Eldredge expect to take a carriage and go ahead some two or three hundred miles to overtake six emigration companies, and if possible, procure from each a few yoke of cattle and return with them to help our camp.  There is supposed to be about two or three Perpetual Fund companies still behind, and also br. William’s merchandise train, from all of which we shall try to get some cattle; and by these exertions we are in hopes to work up our train Zionward until we meet a fresh supply from the valley, and if possible, land the train in the valley this season.

We have instructed brs. Snow, Spencer, and company to keep a good look out for our cattle throughout their journey to the States; and also to inform the companies still behind; and if all, or a part of the lost herd is found, to instruct them to send them to us.

Aug. 8th, 6 o’clock p.m.—We have been able to move our train about 12 miles today, but our teams are altogether too light for hills and sandy places.  We consider it best to keep moving, if we do not average more than six or eight miles per day.

Tomorrow morning, we expect to send back two men who will go to Fort Kearney, if they do not obtain intelligence of the cattle sooner.  We shall send letters to brs. Farr, Williams, Empy, and others, authorizing them to procure the cattle for us, should they by any providence, fall into the hands of the garrison, or any other individuals; also a request to the commanding officer of the Fort to use all diligence to recover them for us.

August 9th, 7 o’clock, a.m.—Br. Kesler is about starting with brs. Benson and H.S. Eldredge; also our two messengers which we send back to Fort Kearney are about ready to start with the letters, &c.

The meat in our camp will soon be gone.  We have flour enough to do us until we reach the South Pass.  We do not need many wagons sent from the valley, but we want a plenty of teams.  A very few horses and mules to assist in looking out camp grounds, feed, and water, and to run after stray cattle, should there by any, would not be amiss, as we are now very destitute.  Our camp is generally in good health, only a few sick.  No deaths since we wrote by the last mail.

We remain your brethren in Christ:

Orson Pratt,
E.T. Benson,
H.S. Eldredge,
Ira Eldredge.
F. Kesler

[Deseret News, Aug. 31, 1854]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Aug. 2006]

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