May 4, 1847
Summary: Reminded of saftey measures, letters home, traders on the trail, and military drills.
Journal entry: TUESDAY: The morning fine but cool, wind about southwest. Two horses ran east as much as six or eight miles and were pursued by the brethren and brought back. William Smoot was thrown from a horse and his senses knocked out of him by the fall. He soon recovered and appears to have sustained no injury.
At seven - thirty the camp was called and received instructions from President Young, especially in regard to leaving the wagons and scattering off hunting without counsel. He strongly urged the brethren not to do it any more and said if they did, some of them would be caught by the Indians and if not killed would be severely abused.
The instructions and regulations given April 17th were read and enjoined upon the camp to be observed more strictly. It was decided that the cannon wagon should be unloaded, the box put on another wagon so that the cannon can be always ready for action. An addition of ten volunteers was made to the standing guard and ordered that all horses and mules should be tied inside the circle at night, and the cattle and cows outside within a few rods of the wagons. A guard to be placed around the cattle when turned out to graze. It is thought best to travel with the wagons four abreast and the cannon to go in the rear.
At nine o'clock the wagons commenced moving and passed over the lake near its junction with the river, at which place, it is about ten or twelve feet wide. After traveling about a half a mile the camp stopped some time, waiting for some wagons behind.
While stopping, three wagons were discovered on the opposite bank of the river, considered to be traders going back to Council Bluffs. The river is about two miles wide and no person here acquainted with it, consequently no one attempted to go over, which many desired.
About eleven o'clock we proceeded, five wagons abreast so as to be better prepared for defense should the Indians attack us. After traveling about two miles, one of the men from the wagons on the other side the river overtook us and we halted to see him. He said there are only nine of them. They have been to Fort Laramie for furs and are going to Council Bluffs.
This is the sixteenth day since they left the fort with ox teams. He says the road is good on the other side and the river easily forded, being not more than knee deep in the deepest place and a good bottom. He cheerfully agreed to carry letters back for us but could not wait long. I wrote one to my family and in about half an hour a pretty large mail was made up to send back to Winter Quarters, and may the Lord grant that it may arrive safely.
Brother Johnson bought a buffalo robe of the man for about a pound and a half of coffee, and another brother bought one for a pound of sugar and a little pork. I feel my mind relieved by this unexpected privilege of writing back to my dear family and hope they will have the pleasure of perusing the contents.
At twenty minutes after one the bugle sounded for a march, and the messenger is returning with the letters and a bag of provisions on his shoulder which the brethren have given him for carrying the letters. We traveled about four miles farther and at three-thirty, stopped to let the teams feed on a small spot where the fire has not touched, the rest having all been burned off within a few days.
We have traveled today only about six miles, having stopped much. The country is still very level and nice traveling only for the dust. The wind south and our course nearly west. When the trader went back over the river, Thomas Woolsey, John Brown and John Pack accompanied him on horses to speak with a person whom Brother Woolsey is acquainted with. They returned soon after we stopped to feed and say that the river is very good to cross, not being more than two feet deep in the deepest place, and the bottom good. The horses broke through but very little.
The traders say furthermore, that if we continue on this side, we shall have to cross the river twice where the water is much deeper and cannot be crossed only in a ferry. There is a good traveled road also, which would be an advantage we have not got on this side.
During the time we stopped to feed, a guard was placed around the cattle and horses to keep them from straying far from the wagons. Then men were called out and drilled with their loaded guns in the circle formed by the wagons. Some objects are seen grazing about four miles west of us thought to be buffalo. Thirteen in number. Some of the hunters are going out to give them a chase, and try to kill some of them.
At a quarter after five o'clock, the camp was called together and Brother Brown reported what the traders said about the route, etc., as above. The subject was then talked over and when it was considered that we are making a road for thousands of saints to follow, and they cannot ford the river when the snow melts from the mountains, it was unanimously voted to keep on this side as far as Fort Laramie at least.
Soon after this we started on again. Saw a lone buffalo but a short distance from us but it galloped across the river. Saw also a number of antelope and some deer.
About seven o'clock we passed a spot where the Indians have camped and must have been many of them. A while after sundown we arrived at a creek of good water and camped for the night, having traveled about nine miles today. The prairie level but all the grass burned off, except in small patches. We have camped on a small spot which has escaped the fire. Elder Kimball, who was one of the hunters who started out at four o'clock, said the objects seen from camp were antelope, but he had seen a herd of buffalo about a mile ahead of where we now are. He named this creek, Buffalo creek.
Source: William Clayton's Journal
Published by the Clayton Family Association, and edited by Lawrence Clayton. To the best of our research, this contents of this book are no longer under copyright.