Letter to Mrs. Olive K. Dixon
November 9, 1922
Trip From Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas to Salt Lake City
By Dick Bussell
I was a bull whacker for A. Colwell and Co. at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in 1866. This company hauled all kinds of supplies—anything that was used by the people and the government soldiers—for the government. We left Ft. Leavenworth the first day of May 1865. We struck the Platte River at Ft. Kearney and went up the river about tow hundred miles to Julesburg, Colorado.
We had started to Denver, Colorado, but when we got to Julesburg we received orders to cross the river and go to Ft. Laramie, which was about seven hundred and fifty miles from Ft. Leavenworth. We got to Ft. Lamarie the fourth of July. While there I heard that they kept enough supplies there to last them seven years. When we got to Julesburg the Platte River was up and we were held here for five or six days and the river did not go down. A bunch of Pawnee Indian Soldiers, they were regular government soldiers, came along and staked us out a road, across the river.
As an escort we had a regiment of Infantry and also one of Cavalry. The Infantry composed of Confederate soldiers who had been captured by the Yankees and had been given the choice of staying in prison or going with trains as escort.
We unloaded at Salt Lake City the twenty-fifth day of October, and turned right around and started back to Ft. Laramie. Then we reached Ft. Laramie we received orders for all the men, excepting five or six, to come on to Ft. Leavenworth. And the ones that remained were to take the cattle up the Laramie River into Wyoming and winter them in the canyons. I stayed with five other men and we took the cattle up the canyons and turned them loose. We took two wagons along and camped in the mouth of the canyon, we cooked and ate out of doors and slept in the wagons. The canyons were broad and had very fine grass and streams of water in them. The Indians did not bother us for it was too cold for them. However, the wolves were so bad and plentiful that we could hardly sleep at night. There were many other kinds of animals, but the others were not as bothersome as the wolves. They killed several of the big steers.
Towards spring they sent a man from Ft. Laramie to tell us to come in, when we got there we were ordered to Ft. Leavenworth. We trailed the wagons that had been left there and drove the cattle and we got to Ft. Leavenworth about the first day of April after being gone almost a year. The outfit started to some other point, but I quit them at this time.