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Billy Bowlegs and the Everglades of Florida

Watervliet Arsenal, near Troy, New York, is one of the places where Uncle Sam keeps his guns and powder, and as I was an ordnance officer, that is, an officer whose duty it is especially to look after the things to shoot with, I was on duty at that post when word came to me from Washington that the Indian chief, Billy Bowlegs, had broken out from the Everglades of Florida to go on the war-path, and that Uncle Sam wanted me to stop looking after guns in Watervliet, and to look after them in the South. Little John McCarty, the son of our housekeeper, brought the news in a big envelope to the stone house where we lived, and although it was not long before Christmas, 1856, I had to leave the family, including a little thick-necked, long-maned, hard-bitted Morgan pony, of which we all were very fond, for he had taken us up and down many a long hill. Saying good-by to my little boy, I told his mother, his grandmother, and my brother, Charles to be sure and remind Santa Claus not to forget him on December 25th, and started for the South. It took eight days by train to reach Savannah, Georgia, seven days by boat to Pilatka, and two days and nights in an old-fashioned stage-coach through palmetto roots and over sandy roads to Tampa Bay, Florida, where Fort Brooke, one of Uncle Sam’s Army posts, was situated near the sea-shore. Here I was told that I must go farther, for General Harney was down the coast at Fort Meyers and he wanted to...

Captain Jack of the Modoc Indians

It was a queer country where the Modoc lived. Their land stretched along for sixty-five miles, measured on the straight line that separates Oregon from California, and it was thirty miles wide, some in Oregon and some in California. Parts were fairly good for cattle and horses where the earth was rich, but most of it was in hillocks and knolls all stony and so much alike that it was not much easier, than on the water, to find the way without a compass. This land was called the “lava bed country,” and it was well named. I suppose many thousands of years ago some volcano must have covered the ground with the volcanic stones and lava which left it so rough and bare. Lost River, which is from thirty to one hundred yards wide, flows in and out among the lava beds till it joins the Klamath River and flows with it to the great Pacific Ocean. The banks of the Lost River are of great shelving rocks rising a hundred feet in air and beneath which are immense caves with openings leading to each other. In some parts there are a few small trees but no large timber, and to our way of thinking it is a desolate country indeed, but the Modocs liked it, especially the clear lake, Lost River, and bushy parts where quail, partridge, and wild turkey were found, for these Indians did not like to raise corn as white men do. They dug up wild onions, lily bulbs, and camas plants to eat, and found plenty of wild duck in the clear lake...

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