The Conservative (Nebraska City, Neb.) 1898-1902, August 16, 1900, Page 9, Image 9

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    'Che Conservative.
howling down the road. I looked aloug
the line. It was wonderful what small
places men could get into. One follow
was shaking as if he had just takeu the
"Deploy as skirmishers" came the
order , and away they went tearing
through the cauo fields. Then there
arose a mighty yell. I cannot tell you
what it sounds like , only that it makes a
man go mad. I forgot that I was not a
soldier ; that I carried no gun ; that men
must die that day. My blood seemed on
fire ; I could see nothing but that ridge
of yellow eaud and snapping tubes be
hind ; I only thought , "They are trying
to kill us , wo have a right to kill them. "
This kept going ever and over iii iny
mind. It is excitement that takes one's
reason away. Most of the enemy's
bullets were Hying high , but hero and
there some poor fellow dropped his gun ,
tossed both arms in the air as if trying
to stop some fleeting shadow , then fell
into a tangled mass.
On and on they wont and I managed
to keep up. I remember being very
near ouo follow with a red face who
kept shooting and yelling all the time ,
but still trembling like a leaf. All at
once there went up a great "hurrah. "
Across the open hundreds of Mttle
brown bodies were running over the
fields in wild confusion. The boys fell
upon their knees , a long line of khaki
brown turned to a thundering cloud of
whito. "Cease firing , " the bugle blew.
Wo stood upon the ridge of yellow sand
and out upon the open wo could count
the dead by ones and twos and threes.
I felt something in my hand and for the
first time became conscious that I had
drawn my revolver. I opened the
breech ; not a shell had been discharged.
In the rear several ambulance wagons
were picking up the wounded. The sun
peeped over miles of waving green and
the boys went tramping down the long
wet road to Maudaloug. With the
quartermaster I still found my place in
the rear.
Shortly after we crossed a small river ;
the water was up to our shoulders. On
the other side wo came upon one of the
wounded enemy ; his knees had been
shattered by a ball and the blood slowly
dripped from the bamboo poles he rest
ed upon. Two days later I passed the
same place. He was still there , but his
chin lay upon his breast and the blood
no longer dripped. Overhead a vulture ,
with its long naked neck , flew round
and round , with each circle getting
nearer , while a myriad of blue flies
hovered near the bloated face.
All day long we marched northward.
By a great rock I saw a man and child.
The latter was nude , while the former
had nothing except a torn sack tied
around his loins. Near by them on the
ground lay a long bow of cocoa wood.
I went over and picked it up. The man
shrank back with fear. One of the
r * *
officers gave the child a quarter and it
ran and hid behind the rock.
In our front they were undoubtedly
laving Eome heavy fighting for we could
hear volley firing with now and then the
roar of field artillery. Towards even
ing it began te rain. We passed an old
Spanish monastery , with ibs cloister ;
a Filipino ran from the cane brake and
entered the cloister. Several of the
boys gave chase. He soou came out of
; ho opposite door still carrying his gun.
Pour shots rang out in quick succession ;
dropping the rifle he ran across the
plaza , jumped high in the air and fell
The wind blow , the rain foil in tor
rents and with it came darkness. Some-
[ iow in the jumble and flying sheets of
water I got separated from the com
mand. For an hour or more I wandered
about trying to find them , but in vain.
Then I could not help thinking of
the battles and marches I had read
about ; they often spoke of the missing
ones , that could never be accounted for.
Thou I realized that I was lost , hope
lessly lost , and , sitting down in the black
jungle , I awaited for the dawn.
Looking through the publications of
the State Historical Society for some
thing to find fault with , I have come
upon the following passage in the remin
iscences of the Reverend Samuel Allis :
"Left St. Louis on the sixth of April ,
1837 was fourteen days going to
Bellevue got the varioloid from a Jim
Beckwith , who resides with the Black-
feet Indians. This Beckwith was a
negro. He gave the smallpox to several
on the boat , three of whom died on
their way up the river. Several of the
Indian tribes above caught the small
pox. Beckwith and some 20,000 died of
it. "
Then there is an editorial note at the
foot of the page , saying , with reference
to the last statement , "this estimate is ,
of course , ail exaggeration ; but it has"
nert seemed best to omit the passage. "
The figures on the mortality among
the Indians are indeed somewhat large.
It is likely that the authorities in Hades
had heard of the capture of Fort Mack
inaw , and would have been too wary to
admit 20,000 redskins within their
sfcockade at one time. But there is a
certain amount of inaccuracy through
out the whole paragraph quoted. Jim
Beckwourth was not a negro. Up to
1837 he had hardly been among the
Blackfeet save in the way of scalping.
And he makes no mention in his auto
biography of having died in 1887 , but
claims on the contrary to have been still
living in the year when ho put forth
that amazing work , which was 1855.
Mr. Beckwourth's own testimony may
beheld not'to bo conclusive on these
points. Truthfulness seems not to have
his strongest point. A contem
porary manuscript note in the Mercan-
; ilo Library in St. Louis characterizes
lim as a "noted old Her. " Captain
Logan Eiiyart owns a ranch in a section
of New Mexico where Beckwourth's
memory is still kept green , and , being
asked whether ho is remembered there
as a truthful man , ho informs mo that
iio never heard him accused of any
thing of the kind. But as to his having
died in 1887 , there is testimony available
from unprejudiced sources.
The above-mentioned iioto in the
St. Louis library states further that
Beckwourth took part , in Noveuibnr ,
1804 , in a fight with the Ohoyeuues at a
place called Sand Creek , and that some
time after that ho was living on a ranch
of his near Denver. Albert D. liiohard-
sou said he saw him in Denver in 1800 ,
and called him "a well-formed elderly
man with a devil-may-care expression. "
Colonel Imnan mentions him as dis
charging a mission to the Crows in con
nection with the famous Peace Com
mission of 1800 , snying , too , that ho died
at that time. And oven the great Fre
mont says he met the man on July 9th ,
1843 , about the mouth of Beaver Fork ,
while on his first trip outward.
It is , therefore , safe to assume that
the report of his death in 1837 was as
much "exaggerated" as anything in Mr.
Allis' statement.
While Beckwourth was certainly not
a negro , he had negro blood in his veins.
Some of the old-timers who mention
him say that his mother was a negress ,
others make her no more than a quad
roon. Beckwonrth himself says that
his father was a planter , who had been
a major in the revolutionary war , but is
silent as to his mother. Most writers
speak of him as a half-breed ; Fremont
called him a mulatto. He must have
had some dark-colored blood , or he
could never have been taken by the
Crow Indians for a lost child of their
own tribe ; but ho could not have been
a pure negro , for the very same reason.
As to his living among the Blackfeet ,
the only stay he ever made among that
nation seems to have been a trading-
visit of twenty dayt in the spring of
1824. That brief term was , however ,
according to his own narrative ( which
is anything but monotonous ) sufficient
for him to marry two wives and toma
hawk one of them. She went to a dance
when he had told her to stay at home.
.The sojourn among Indians which has
really made Beobwourth a conspicuous
figure , was made with the Crows.
The chronology of his book is some
what obscure , but a rather careful sur
vey of it gives mo the impression that
ho lived among the Crows , and was , to
all intents and purposes , a Crow , from
the fall of 1824 until the summer of
1880. Ho was taken prisoner by a war-
party of three Indians while on a trap
ping expedition , but was recognized by
an old squaw as a long-lost son , and