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cies of prolific unproductiveness. The of War) "are confined to the more elevated grass is of sickly growth, and almost branches of military science." It must parched to a cinder; amid which, how- be confessed that our friends of the shovel ever, several new varieties of plants made and pick-axe did, in their first experitheir appearance. The wild sage may be ment, very forcibly illustrate their familmentioned as found here, and the abolo, iarity with the "elevated branches," and or buffalo herb. The latter derives its have acted with becoming regard to all name from the resemblance of its odor to the requirements of science," particuthat of a herd of buffaloes. A variety of larly in reference to the Cæsarean maxim the mimosa sensitiva has also been no festina lente. Fording a river is doubtticed, but, like other occupants of this less a serious business, and the resources region, not very sensitive. About a mile of science ought, of course, to be made east of the stream stood a stately elm, available in its accomplishment. Should and as the largest tree yet seen in Texas , any of the streams ahead of us, however, and strikingly conspicuous from its isola- require bridging, the problem was sugtion, this passing notice seems to be due gested whether it would be necessary to to the legitimate monarch of the prairies. make drawings and specifications, and adLike Napoleon, according to orator Phil- vertise for “sealed proposals"-as that is lips, it stands "grand, gloomy, and pecu- the usual method—which, under the cirliar;” and as no well-bred man ought to cumstances, would be exceedingly inconpass under the shadow of a full-grown venient. survivor of a forest that has passed away, It has been asserted on the authority without doffing his hat, so few were dis- of “Deaf Smith”-the celebrated Texan posed to withhold proper homage and re- spy—that eighteen years since, there was spect in presence of its venerable and ma- no water in the channel of the Leona, and jestic form.
that he had frequently slept upon it—then The approach to the Rio Frio was dry ground. According to this tradition, by a gradual slope, with a natural pave- it burst forth at once with a depth of ment of snow-white gravel. The water three or four feet, which it very nearly is clear, cool, and delicious, and flows preserves throughout the year. Others over a bed rivalling the whiteness of affirm that it consisted at that time of a Parian marble. The fish sporting in series of basins, subterraneously connected, such a medium would have driven old and that the rotten limestone has since Izaak Walton into ecstacies, and the fine crumbled away from above, and united practical and praticable stone which lines the whole into a running stream. the shores so abundantly, would have The pure water and shaded borders of made Mr. McAdam sigh that nature had this little river, seduced many into the here made her own turnpikes.
luxury of a thorough ablution this evenAt this point a portion of the dragoons ing, and while enjoying a solitary bath and infantry were halted, while the Gen- just before tattoo, two huge owls perched eral with the remaining detachments and upon a tree overhanging the water, gave artillery, pushed on to the Leona, where several most unmistakable hints, in the they arrived about noon. Nearly the en- way of unearthly and unmusical sounds, tire distance between the Rio Frio and that I was an intruder on forbidden regions. the Leona, the road passes over a lime- The artillery and dragoons resumed stone formation, with a very superficial their march at sunrise, but owing to the covering of soil. The growth of timber problem to be solved, to wit, whether or is scattering and scraggy. The pioneers not the principal wagon train could cross who, from bringing up the rear, have the Leona without a bridge, the commandfinally foundered into their appropriate ing general remained until the arrival of position, reached here in the morning. the troops in rear, which was about eight Owing, however, it is said, to a difference o'clock. After felling a couple of trees of opinion as to the best method of arran- across the stream, the men were all enabled ging the approaches so as to be able ford to pass over dryshod, but the wagons the stream with the train, nothing had were not so easily disposed of. It was been done on our arrival, and it therefore found necessary to cut down the banks became necessary for the troops themselves still more, throwing the gravel into the to cut down the banks on either side so as river, so as to form slopes of easy declivity, to fit them for the passage of the artillery before the crossing could be commenced. and baggage-wagons. This operation was Very precise instructions touching the conducted under the immediate super- mode of locking wheels; the proper method vision of Captain Corps of Engineers, of addressing the mules; the number of whose :- functions” (vide the 63d Article "gees," "haws," "ups," " zips," &c., &c., to be given in a minute; how to hold the reins; Texas, poor as we have found it thus far, when to start and when to stop, and other becomes worse as it approaches Mexico. details, to be thoroughly comprehended One may travel from Dan to Beersheba, only by those vehicular quadrupeds and or from the Sabine to the Nueces, and their drivers, in the service of Uncle Sam, exclaim with a great deal of truth as well were next given with great energy and as sorrow, All is barren. The country is effect, after which the whole body moved a great thorn in the side of the body poliforward. As soon as the immediate valley tic, and nearly every vine, or shrub, or of the river is left behind, the country bush, or plant, that draws its nourishagain becomes prairie, and continues to ment from the soil is a subdued image of the Nueces, of the same sterile, stony its mother; and at the same time almost texture, with the exception of a narrow every insect, reptile, or animal, that is belt of red clay, indicating the probable found within its borders, is venomous and proximity of iron ore.
vindictive. At noon we came in sight of the Nueces, Another innovation upon the constituits winding course beautifully outlined by tion and habits of man, horse and mule, the mass of foliage with which its western was perpetrated the ensuing morning, by bank is embroidered. Beyond it, the rousing the camp from its slumbers at ground rises, so that the towering elms three o'clock. There is no surety for along the shore are overtopped by the nocturnal rest in the vicinity of Major less ambitious growth of the distant As we marched from camp the fires prairie. In the foreground of the lovely were still blazing; a smoky vapor from landscape were the white tents of the the Nueces, hung like a veil over the troops, the horses and mules grazing plain; many tents were not yet struck; lazily around, the men engaged in their ap- mule drivers were running about, yelling propriate duties, and a solitary sentinel at and cursing, in pursuit of lost animals; his post, and just life enough visible in all, teams half harnessed and but half made to relieve the repose of inanimate nature. up, on account of the strays, were standing Behind us a cloud of dust distinctly in confusion along the path, and a perfect marked the sinuous road-way we had Babel of sounds and kaleidoscope of sights, just passed over, beneath which the re- assailed us at every point. The scene at mainder of the troops then " dragged their the ford was fertile in materials of the slow length along," while the distant bill- grotesque and ridiculous. The regular tops before us were shaded with a misty infantry passed into the water with the curtain, so clear, and soft, and ethereal, it counterfeit presentment of a grin, and went seemed as if torn from the azure drapery over without much hesitation. The volunof heaven with which its hues were ming- teers, however, though ainiable enough in ling. The scene might well remind one of the abstract, did not take it so kindly. A Byron's beautiful and inimitable descrip- very few of them seemed to think a cold tion, in that sad and sombrous picture- bath by starlight a most felicitous congallery of the “Dream."
ception, but the larger portion entered the “There was a mass of many images
stream with as much suspicious reluctance Crowded like waves upon me.
as if about to take passage with old Charon Reposing from the noontide sultriness
across the impalpable Styx.
A German captain, not satisfied with Stood camels grazing, and some goodly steeds
his observations upon the depth of the Were fastened near a fountain; and a man Clad in a flowing garb did watch the while,
water, after seeing two or three companies While many of his tribe slumbered around, effect a crossing, began his own perilous And they were canopied by the blue sky, passage, by probing or sounding with his So cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful,
This idea had probably been That God alone was to be seen in Heavon."
suggested by hearing many of those who The different corps and detachments were had preceded him, and who had doubtless in camp by four o'clock, except the strag- been Mississippi "deckers" before they glers, who, as usual, kept coming until became soldiers, singing with the genuine sunset.
twang as they strided through the river, The position of our camp, though highly "quarter less twain ;” “ no bottom; creditable to the artistic eye of
" by the mark three,” &c., &c. The caphad little to recommend it practically. tain made the first plunge with admirable The grazing was scanty and burnt up, coolness and perfect military caution. He the fuel not abundant, and the water, had evidently determined to "feel his though good and plenty of it, when reach- way," and had resolved not to put himself ed, was rather too far from our tents, to knowingly in the power of the enemy. please the cooks. Indeed, it appears that His legs were as bare—though perhaps not
quite so accurately outlined as those of the the wild cry of Waterloo, sauve qui peut, À pollo Belvidere. The swallow-tail skirts was tame compared with that which at of his coat were carefully “tucked up; that moment filled the breast of the hero no fancy ornament was suffered to come of the Nueces. And as the great achievewithin reach of the treacherous element; ment was completed, a shout burst forth and thus "accoutred as he was, he plunged from the admiring crowd; the laughter in." His trusty sword he grasps with a that had hitherto been oozing out in broken nervous clutch in his right hand, and with doses and half-suppressed spasms could his left, like a performer on the rope, he no longer be restrained, and both banks strives to preserve the centre of gravity gave forth a tempest of acclamations. in such position as will enable him to We crossed the river, and entered upon maintain a stable equilibrium. As he the disputed territory about rix o'clock. creeps over the stones, the hand flies up There was about thirty inches of water and down, right and left, and by its rapid at the deepest point of the ford, and a and irregular gyrations, you are almost hard, gravelly bottom. On leaving the able to take the soundings of the ford, to river, the road passes at once into an trace its tortuous course, and discover its extremely barren prairie, poor in soil, but ups and downs. With tremulous motions rich in the diversity of stunted and noxious he thrusts the sword into the stream, and specimens of mezquit and chaparral. The follows on with tottering and unsteady growth is very dense, and where the step. He falters, his pace slackens, he ground is not cumbered with these cxcreshalts, and looks wildly and anxiously cences, the prickly pear rears its horrid around. The shores are lined with spec- front, to the annoyance and terror of man tators watching his precarious progress.
and beast. He turns his eyes from one side to the The Mina, or as it is sometimes called, other; he meets no sympathy, and the the Espantosa, of which the Mina is prowaters roll fiercely and pitilessly on: he perly a tributary, is about nine miles from looks forward, and the ripples are rising
the Nueces. The banks at the ford were higher before him, yet there is no retreat. steep and rugged, and the labors of the Again he nerves himself to renew his task, pioneers were again in requisition. The still stealthily advancing like a man grop
General remained here to observe the pasing his way in the dark. The march of sage of the train, while the advance troops those in the rear is suspended to mark his pushed on. The same barren and desoprogress. Again he pauses; and shouts late waste presented itself, through which from front and rear assail his ears. “For- we threaded our weary way as we best ward!” says one ; " right face!” shrieks could. The guide had reported water another; "go it while you're young!” nine miles from the Mina, and we were says a third ; " to the rear open order!" on the visual stretch to discover it. At exclaims a fourth; "halt!” roars a fifth; length a line of darker green rose before “mark time!" shouts a sixth. The poor us, and we fancied the end attained ; but man is in agony. Big drops of perspira- on our arrival, it proved to be nothing tion start from his brow, and trickle down but foliage which owed its growth to his face. Unconscious of any distinct the water that once flowed through the direction, his actions indicate a desire to bed below. Now there was not a drop obey them all. He trembles; he waves remaining, to wet the parched lips of to and fro; he is not so much a bubble hundreds almost famished. This was the on the stream, as something between a channel of the Esquipula-a name cersnag and a sawyer. He makes another tainly pretentious enough to belong to a effort, as if to concentrate his energies for river—but alas! the "pitcher was broken a final struggle. But the waters are at the fountain, and the bowl broken at around him, and he reels like a drunken the cistern.” Our hearts well-nigh sank
The stones appear to glide from within us-after a march of so many under him as easily as the ripples float miles beneath a burning sun-at the before him ; he sinks, he groans, he strug- grievous disappointment; but there was gles; he throws out his right arm in fran- no alternative, and the word was still on. tic strokes, and with his left he brandishes Every blade of grass, every drooping twig,
-a grasp of vapor. Once more he heaves was parched to crisp. Mile after mile of himself like Samson among the columns the thorny chaparral we traversed, and of the Philistines, and with headlong des- at length again emerged upon an open, peration plants his foot upon dry land. sandy prairie. The dragoons were in adThe joy of Columbus when he beheld for vance of us, but were nowhere visible. We the first time the shores of the New quickened our pace : a group of towering World, or of Wellington when he heard and aged oaks crowned the summit of an
eminence we were approaching, and the to a penitentiary or nunnery. It is worthy sight restored our hopes. We reached the alone of the country which has emblazoned topmost point, not doubting that the pro- it upon its coat of arms, as the national mised stream would be in full view before plant. To cultivate such a monster, with us. Nothing was to be seen except the too hot-house delicacy and attention, is worse familiar burning expanse of barrenness. even than fondling a lap-dog, or making Still advancing, we swept the horizon with a pet of a snarling grimalkin. All who our eyes, and far ahead we could once participate in the preservation or propagamore distinctly trace the winding outline tion of such a species, ought to be conof a greener foliage, in broad contrast with sidered as voluntary accessories to a crime the parched vegetation of the prairie. of the first magnitude, against the laws Our last hope wis now before us, and we of taste and propriety, and ought to be continued our march. A few miles further condemned to a three days' march, barebrought us to the trees, but we found no foot, between the Nueces and Rio Grande. water. After beating about among the At eight o'clock we reached the Salidito. bushes for a while, we discovered the camp This stream, as its name indicates, was of the 1st Dragoons, and continued search- represented as brackish; but travellers ing revealed a few ponds of water green
have libelled it, as the water is as good and slimy upon the surface; but,
as any on the route. The engineers were
called upon here to make such an applica"As springs in deserts found seem sweet, all brackish
tion of the more elevated branches,” to though they be,"
wit, spades and pick-axes, as would enit was yet potable, after so long and able the wagons to cross with facility. 80 hot à march. Its foulness, however, We then passed on through the dust, was relieved somewhat by a brilliant bound, as we supposed, to a halting-place display of lilies, resting on its bosom, ten miles distant, which, we understood, like the iris athwart the clouds. It
the topographical party ahead had reported was now late in the afternoon. Steeds
as abounding in wood, water, and grazing. were unsaddled, and turned loose upon We had not gone many miles, however, the prairie, knapsacks tumbled to the before an irregular clatter or hollow rumground, with no great regard to their con- bling was heard behind us, which was tents, and each man strove to get into a soon explained by the appearance of comfortable place, with as little delay as mounted upon a black charger very practicable, as a compensation for a day's much addicted to falling upon his knees march of twenty-two miles.
at inopportune moments, and hence pretty It was determined late at night to pro- generally known throughout camp as the ceed with the troops then in camp to the camel,” or “ hoofs.">
From him (the Picoso, distant about fifteen miles. The rider, not the horse) we learned that the bugles of the dragoons sounded to horse order of march had been changed. that at half-past six o'clock the next morning, new information had been communicated and the squadron filed out of camp in to the commanding general, the effect of rear of the infantry. We left the banks which was to prolong the march several of the bitter Chaparrosa without regret, miles. This was of course gratifying inhoping to find an improvement in the telligence to those already wearied with fluids at our next stopping-place. The the day's labors, and whose imaginations General remained behind to await the had been prematurely excited by visions arrival of Colonel Harney's command, of a not far distant cup of coffee and a while we pushed along, at first over a blanket. The night's work, however, of very bad specimen of the “hog-wallow" Lieutenants Franklin and Bryan, was efspecies, and then through the thorny fectually extinguished, not unlike the snufpath to which we had been so long accus- fing out of a candle; and we passed the Pitomed, over a flat, sandy prairie, productive coso, then, like so many other streams in of nothing but noxious plants, the prickly, the country, a broken chain, of which a few pear being pre-eminent. This plant has stagnant pools were the separated links. now become such a nuisance, that it may The sun's rays came down with the with safety be affirined, that no member of
power of a steam engine, as we halted this army-however amiable or sentimental about three o'clock. Not a tree nor shrub his temperament-can hereafter bestow a was visible, as large as a rose-bush, beneath thought of admiration upon any woman, which one could crawl for protection. who to his knowledge shall cultivate a single With the exception of a successful effort variety of the cactus. The prickly pear on the part of a topographical messenger has sins enough to answer for, to damn to the commanding general, to make night the whole family and consign its patrons hideous by rudely severing a nap ap
proaching to maturity, the interval of ment in camp during the morning, from a darkness passed quietly into the wallet of report that we were already realizing our oblivion. The column passed out of camp proximity to the enemy, as the Mexicans at half-past seven o'clock. The aspect of had driven off our beef cattle during the nature was any thing but cheerful. There night, thus leaving us to the uninterrupted was a dull, heavy, ague-and-feverish sort
mercy of pork and bacon.
This was a of fog hanging over us, and when the sun matter appealing directly to the stomlifted this curtain, in which for a few ach, in and through which every emotion miles we were enveloped, we were able to of chivalry has its origin, and was thereperceive only a vast waste, presenting, at fore of the most absorbing interest for the distant intervals, slight and irregular cle- time. vations and depressions. A barren, desert, Barren, sterile, desolate, and destitute sterile prairie was again before and around as this position was, in reference to every
The prickly pear and the dwarf sun- species of vegetation, the noxious qualities flower, worthy of their distinction, held of the soil vindicated themselves in the almost unaccompanied possession of the sustenance afforded to the venomous rep soil, a single new and insignificant plant tiles, which are there indigenous. А being assigned to the intervals, the name black, bloated, hairy tarantula, of gigantic of which I could not learn. Like its pre- dimensions, was discovered near one of decessors and associates, it possessed a the tents, almost realizing the description thorn wherever there was room, and the in the Apocalypse of the monster with process of laceration lost nothing in its seven heads and ten horns." This vicinity.
poisonous and disgusting object had a It having been determined to unite the small head, lighted up with two fiery troops of Colonel Harney's command little eyes, and from the mouth a pair of with those under General Wool, before forked fangs projecter, more deadly in reaching the Rio Grande, the encampment their assault than the bite of the rattlesurvived the rising of the sun on the 7th snake. Ten legs radiated from an odious of October.
and revolting body, covered with long The flag of the United States, or a very black hair, the entire creature as unsightly uncertain number of stars and stripes on and loathsome in all its parts, as any a cotton ground, was, for the first time on combination of animal life well can be. the march, given to the breeze this morn- But this was not the only specimen of ing, from a staff erected in front of the native society to which we were introduced. tent of the commanding general. Not a The centipedes were scattering their footsingle cheer greeted it as it rose, not a prints wherever flesh and blood would let gun was fired; and the only remark them ; rattlesnakes were making their which the incident appeared to call forth music in the grass; and the scorpions was from one of the soldiers, who-prob- playing antics with their tails, and probably glad that the job was over-very ing every surface on which they could patriotically, and with an enthusiasm cor- fasten themselves. responding to the sentiment, exclaimed, The day was one of uncompromising “There goes the star-spangled blanket !" do-nothingness. At five o'clock P. M., This, though not strictly true, was re- camp might have been thus daguerreoceived with a due measure of applause, typed: Most of the men are engaged in which in some sort atoned for the absence idle and doubtless agreeable relaxation. of a volley from the battery. The fact is, The notes of a violin, not very tastefully there was not a government flag in the extracted, are gushing forth from several entire command. The one just hoisted tents, round which divers groups are was the property of a volunteer company gathered, eagerly absorbing the exhala--whose members appeared not to think tions of catgut. Songs—or rather their that our national flag ought not to be fragments—are being emitted in parenprostituted to such an expedition-and, . thetical snatches from a hundred sources, though resembling a "blanket” in size the intervals supplied with the hearty if not in material, was quite as far from joke, the “rough and ready" repartee, “bunting." It bore the emblems never- and boisterous laughter. The anvil of theless, and though they were apportioned the artillery battery is ringing with the according to the taste of the maker, rather heavy strokes of some military Cyclops, than in reference to the statute, and put who has doubtless taken a day of rest together on very primitive principles, it not for him—to repair the wear and tear was “a good enough" flag for our present of the march. Tents are flapping softly purposes.
in the wind; officers are in groups in There was also a pleasant little excite- search of, or fancying they have found,