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COUNTRY BETWEEN THE COLORADO RIVER AND PACIFIC OCEAN.
ground thus irrigated is occupied by another branch of the Yumas tribe for cultivation ; the chief productions being maize, beans, pumpkins, and melons.
At the time of our arrival, in the month of October, it was the harvest season. The river overflows usually occur in the month of July. During the early part of the month of October the
weather was oppressively sultry; the thermometer at mid-day frequently rising to 1000 in the shade. The sky was remarkably clear, and the atmosphere extremely dry. During the month of November the air became sensibly cooler, especially at night; the thermometer sinking below 50° Fahrenheit. Heavy dews and fog at times, with cloudy weather and occasional showers, rendered the atmosphere more moist. Strong winds were frequent from the north, raising immense clouds of dust along the course of the river.
The water in the river channel varied but little during our stay, occasionally rising several inches, in consequence of heavy rains, and again sinking to the ordinary low-water level. Along the sides of the cañon, through which the river passes, below the junction of the Gila, there is plainly seen a line of high-water mark, showing an elevation of twelve feet or more above the usual level.
The character of the soil adjoining the river banks, derived from the sediment of river overflows and the light material borne by winds from the adjoining desert plateaux, causes along the bed of the stream the frequent formation of shifting sand-bars. These are perpetually changing with the variable river current. The process of deposition and removal is thus continually going on, rendering the river bed exceedingly variable and unequal in its depth and permanence.
The view of the adjoining country from any high elevation discloses a scene of unqualified barrenness and bleak sterility. The horizon is everywhere bounded by the bare outline of distant mountains, forming jagged and serrated ridges, or rising into various-shaped domes and chimney peaks. Intermediate, stretches the broad and desolate table-land, with it's dead-brown aspect; while the more attractive river bottoms are seen clothed with a straggling growth of mezquite, or reflecting from turbid waters the overhanging willow and the lofty cotton-wood.
On the 1st of December, having completed our observations, we struck camp for our return to San Diego. The frequent rains of the previous month caused an abundance of water at convenient points along our road. In the bottoms of New river our teams were compelled to
drag over muddy tracks. The opportune supply of deVol. 1- 17
sert grama grass, which made this locality the recruiting station for our animals during our stay on the Colorado, was now entirely exhausted.
Leaving the wagon trains to follow out the ordinary road across the mountains, our advance party, under Lieutenant Coutts, left the wagon route at Cariso creek, to mount the height of the range, by a direct ascent, to the west. Following out at first a gradual slope by which we advanced towards a re-entering angle in the steep rocky range, we accomplished with ease nearly half the height of the mountain ridge. The rest of the ascent was literally climbing up steep rocky slopes, or winding along rude ravines ; the height was finally gained, and was some 2,500 feet above the desert plain below. Thence our route led by a gentle slope towards the west, passing along beautifully shaded valleys, watered by clear flowing streams, and brought us to the coast near the initial point of boundary on the Pacific.
Major Emory's Report Resumed.
In 1846, I made a report of a rapid reconnoissance of the country here described by Dr. Parry. I preferred giving this description, taken from a different point of view, to reproducing my own sketch.
Dr. Parry accompanied me under the first organization as physician to the boundary commission, and also undertook the duties of zoologist and botanist. In the summer of 1854, when the second commission was organized under the new treaty with Mexico, the same position was offered him, but was declined. The appointment was then conferred on Dr. C. B. R. Kennerly.
In the list of officers of the expedition, (given on page 24,) the name of Dr. Kennerly is inadvertently omitted.
I cannot conclude the account of this part of the country, relating to the boundary, without some reference to a sad affair which occurred at the crossing of the Colorado, while the parties under my orders were engaged at that point, and which, at the time, excited much interest in the army and elsewhere. I refer to the death of the brave and accomplished Captain Thorn, of the army.
In the fall of 1849, Captain Thorn was detailed to escort, with his command, from the frontier of Missouri to California, the collector of the port of San Francisco. As may be supposed, the march was full of difficulties. When between Santa Fé and the Gila, the party was attacked by a force of Indians, which was gallantly repulsed by Captain Thorn and his command. Arrived at the Colorado, most of the party fagged out and dispirited, Captain Thorn was
iged to use extraordinary exertion in crossing it. There was but one boat; and with that zeal and hardihood which characterized this officer in the discharge of all his duties, he stripped off his uniform, and took the personal direction of the boat. After having crossed and recrossed repeatedly, in ferrying over his command, and the party he escorted, the boat sank. The captain, although a good swimmer, became entangled with a Mexican who was in the boat, probably in the chivalrous attempt to save him, went down, and was swept away by the current.
I was at the time in my camp, distant one hundred and fifty miles, where a soldier came in and reported the circumstance, stating that the body had not been found when he left. I immediately despatched an Indian runner to Lieutenant Coutts, who commanded a
company of dragoons engaged in escorting a surveying party of the boundary commission, to turn out his whole force, and search the river to its mouth for the recovery of the captain's body. He succeeded in obtaining it some miles below the crossing, where it was found by the Indians, and had it carefully placed in a coffiin, with the intention of bringing it to my camp; but in passing through San Diego, the officers of the 2d infantry, to which regiment Captain Thorn then belonged, who were stationed there, claimed the body, and took possession of it.
Previous to setting out on the expedition to California, I applied to have Captain Thorn assigned to duty with my command. This and other considerations made me desirous of recovering his body and sending it to his friends; but I could interpose no claim over that of the officers of his own regiment. I close this brief account of the circumstances attending the loss of a valued friend and brave brother officer by giving the letter of Lieutenant Coutts, which accompanied his remains :
CAMP CALHOUN, CALIFORNIA, November 11, 1849. MAJOR: I have succeeded in making a box that will probably carry the remains of the lamented Captain Thorn to San Diego. In the absence of all materi effecting this desired object properly, my carpenters have done better than I expected of them. I send the whole under the charge of Mr. Wiatt, a citizen, with one of my teamsters and a dragoon. They will procure a fresh team at Salvation camp, and should reach San Diego by the 23d instant. It will not, of course, be necessary for the teamster and dragoon to return.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
CAVE J. COUTTS,
Lieutenant 1st Dragoons, commanding Escort, Maj. W. H. EMORY,
Commanding Escort to Boundary Commission, Camp Riley, California.
Tatulated distances of routes along and in the neighborhood of the boundary line between the United
States and Mexico, from the Pacific ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, measured by viameters, by Lieut. N. Michler, Lieut. Parke, and Assistant Chandler.
2. 63 4.86 20.88 14. 79
Rowlett's Rancho... Camp No. 4. ----Camp No. 5.--Camp No. 6.---Los Metates.Camp No. 7.---Camp No. 8. -----Lomas Negras, Cam Camp No. 10.--Camp No. 11. Camp No. 12-----Camp No. 13.-----Camp No. 14, at Tezotal.--Camp No. 15, Maricopa Wells. Camp No. 16, Pimo village of Cola
Azul. Camp No. 17, last point of the Gila.
14. 84 11.50 16. 72 13
Camp No. 16, Pimo village of Cola
Azul. Camp No. 17, last point of Gila..-Pichaco on the Jornada.com
The distances from San Xavier to Franklin were furnished by Lieut. J. G. Parke, Top. Engineers, U. S. A.