From the Wide Missouri to the Pacific Shore: Rufus Ingall's Report of the Steptoe Expedition

In 1854-55, an expedition of dragoon and artillery recruits, under the command of Major Steptoe, left Fort Leavenworth for the Pacific Coast. Steptoe carried with him orders to spend the winter in Salt Lake City and, while there, investigate the murder of Captain John Gunnison and his party. Capt. and Assistant Quartermaster Rufus Ingalls, a former 1st Dragoon, submitted a following report of the expedition.

Report of the Secretary of War- Message from the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress at the Commencement of the First (1st) Session of the Thirty Fourth Congress, Senate Ex. Do. No. 1, December 31, 1855 (Beverly Tucker, Washington, 1855) Vol. 2, 153

Washington City, D. C,

November 22, 1855.

General: I have the honor to submit the following summary of the principal events and useful information contained in my communication* to you in relation to the march of Colonel Steptoe’s command into the Great Basin of Utah, last year, and referred to in the second paragraph of my report of the 25th of last August. I beg this may be substituted for the letters, as they contain many repetitions almost necessarily, and touch on various business matters which do not belong to a report of the march.
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Soldier’s Story of Those Who Deserted Ft. Tejon For Gold

From the journal of soldier William Antes:

Arrived at Fort Tejon California on the 25th of June, 1855-we reached our destination-For Tejon, California. Here we encamped near company”A” first US Dragoons which we had come to join. In a few days we were joined to that company making it members 126 men. Our horses were taken care of and we had no duty to perform for three weeks. Lieut Sylvester Mowry and Lieut. Chandler left us to join their own proper commands. The officers at this post were Lieut. Col.Benjamin Beall, Captain John W.J Gardiner, Lieut Thomas Castor and B Second Lieut. John Pegram: Captain Kirkham, quartermaster and Doctor Tenbrock surgeon.Here the were building a large military post and most of the men were on extra duty. John Barry was put in the guard house upon on arrival here for pointing his gun at Lieut. Mowry. At this place desertions began in earnest.I have known as many as half a dozen to take French leave in a single night. The boys all seemed to have taken the gold fever. Some of the deserters were recaptured but many of them we never saw again. Those captured were generally punished by an imprisonment of a few days in the guard house. Our colonel did not want any prisoners and was once on the point of burning the guard house down. Our captain dissuaded him from this step.

RECRUITMENT ADVERTISEMENT

The Army maintained recruiting stations through out the Midwest, South and East. The New York Sun for March 13, 1855, featured the following advertisement seeking troops for mounted and infantry regiments: