Two hundred vast miles stretching west of Fort Laramie--this was a country!??No wonder the Indians were prepared to fight for it. Ferociously, with massacre and fire they swept down on yet another wagon train. One wagon mysteriously escaped.
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August 01, 1984
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Excerpt from Under the Sweetwater Rim by Louis L'Amour
They had ridden twenty miles since daylight, and at the end of their day had come upon disaster.
Two hundred feet below and half a mile away the wagon train lay scattered on the freshening green of the April grass. Death had come quickly and struck hard, leaving the burned wagons, the stripped and naked bodies, unnaturally white beneath the sun.
The man in the ill-smelling buckskins brought his mount alongside Major Devereaux. "There was fifteen wagons. You can even count 'em from here. The way they're strung out they must've been hit without warnin'. Looks like a few tried to pull out of line, like to form a circle, but they hadn't no time."
"One wagon missing, then."
Plunkett's head swung sharply around. "Now that ain't likely, Major, ain't likely a-tall. No Injun is goin' to haul a wagon away, an' nothin' that big is goin' to slip off unseen. Like you can see, they was caught in the open."
Major Devereaux did not explain. They were drawing nearer as they talked and he was studying the charred wagons, forcing himself to consider only the problems his duty imposed. If Mary was down there he would know soon enough, and the decision he must make would affect the lives of the entire command.
Aside from Lieutenant Tom Cahill, Sergeant Gogarty, and Plunkett, sixty men made up the patrol, forty-two of them raw recruits. They were two hundred miles west of Fort Laramie, carrying rations for the return and for two days extra, in case of emergencies.
Throughout the severe winter of 1863 and 1864, the Cheyennes and Arapahoes had remained quiet, but there had been persistent rumors of Sioux agents in their lodges. Undoubtedly they would be riding the war trail with first grass.
Major Devereaux, with twenty-seven years of service, was aware that the lives of men are dictated to an extent far greater than most men wish to admit, by events beyond their control. Man rides the ocean of history and does what he can to weather its storms.