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Subject: On my way to Santa Fe! rss

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Kevin Whitmore
United States
New Mexico
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June, 1834

Independence, Missouri - We are bound for Santa Fe! A party of 163 people with 40 wagons have placed their trust in me. The open plains lay before us. I intend to follow the river beds as best I can, aiming to Bent's Fort. From there I will lead the party over the mountains into the Taos valley and on to Santa Fe. May God blaze our trail with his grace!

1st week of June: Clear weather beckoned us forward, but shortly after departing Independence we encountered braves from the Omaha tribe. These bucks demanded some of our livestock, but I flatly told them "NO", and they slunk off. Later in the week, these bucks raided us in the night, running off a few head of our horses. I led some of our men after them and made them aware of our displeasure!

2nd week of June: We continued across the prairie at our steady pace under sunny skies. Unbelievably, those Omaha bucks are still trailing us. We had a palaver, and I told them to veer off - that I wouldn't give them any more horses. They weren't too happy, but that was the last I saw of them.

3rd week of June: Under sunny skies I cut south leading us to the river valley leading to Bent's Fort. In the middle of the week we encountered a huge herd of buffalo! The men could not be contained, and we were bound to hunt these mighty beasts. But God saw fit to spook the herd directly into our wagon train. Two good men were killed, and we buried them right there on the prairie. We also had one wagon completely destroyed, and two others were severely damaged. We spent 3 days repairing these two wagons. Several folks are clearly unhappy with me, blaming me for this trouble.

4th week of June: I fear God has turned his face from our endeavor. Spirits are low from the horrible buffalo stampede. And now, when we are finally ready to move, the skies have opened up. I've never seen such rain. The streams are gorged and I hope I need not cross them anytime soon. No sooner did we begin slogging through the mud, then we encountered a huge prairie dog town. This is too much! I turned us away, as I feared we might lose livestock or even wagons to this spongy ground. Some of the men are muttering about the troubles I have led them to.

1st week of July: At last! The skies have cleared, and I decided to have our wagon train pick up our pace. We made good time this week, and other than a minor parlay with a few Oto bucks, we had no travails.

2nd week of July: I sensed we were finally about to arrive at Bent's Fort, so we cut back our speed. But, oh I wish I had not brought us this way! We arrived at the fort, just to find that they were suffering from pestilence. Fortunately our livestock did not die. But three men from our party contracted this sickness and quickly died. After the funerals, a meeting of the wagon train was called. Some men wanted to blame me for all the trouble I had led them to - but finaly folks agreed I had done the best I could, and it was God's will that these poor souls had died. we finally left Bent's Fort, sorry we had ever come this way.

3rd week of July: As we reached the base of the mountains, I came across sign of an Arapaho party of warriors. These are some fierce men, and I veered off leading us away from those bucks. God be praised - we reached the hills and avoided those SOB's!

4th week of July: We crossed over the mountain pass and down into the Taos valley. We picked up the pace, sensing we were coming to the end of our journey. We splashed through a small river, and encountered a small herd of buffalo. Recalling our previous troubles, and with plenty of rations on hand, we gave the herd a wide berth. Then, just as we were approaching Taos, we cut across sign of some Indians. For the life of me, I couldn't piece out which tribe. I was stunned to have a band of Kiowa approach us and demand a parlay! The Kiowa are some of the fierest warriors of the frontier. I was damn glad they wanted to talk, as they might have just as happily ambushed us! I gave them some livestock, and brooked no commets from my men. We talked a long while, but those braves decided they were happy with my gift. I thank God for his mercy!

1st week of August: We splashed through a small stream and finally arrived in Santa Fe! What a journey! We lost five good men: two to buffalo and three to disease. We also lost one wagon to the buffalo stampede, and a few head of livestock to the Omaha and the Kiowa. But I am pleased, and view this endeavor as a success. Now - I'm walking across the square to that cantina I see under the portal...

Jedediah Smith
Santa Fe

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