On the morning of the 5th of May, John was appointed one of a committee to examine the wagons, and see that they conformed to the rule. There were 21 wagons in the company, and the committee were at work until one o’clock P. M., examining the wagons, weighting the load, etc. John came in very tired, and our party had just sat down to dinner in our tent at one o’clock, when a young man came in and said to John: “Mr. Holliday, you will report for duty at two o’clock to guard the mules.” John said, “I will not do it.” The young man replied that it was the captain’s order. John said he wouldn’t report, and the young man went off and soon came back and said, “Mr. Holliday, you are ordered to appear in the corral for trial before the Court-Martial at four o’clock.” Well, John got a man named Lightner, a tall fellow, a fluent speaker, and very popular with the company, to represent him. Brolaski had spread it abroad that if John were not convicted he would disband the company and resign. Lightner made a very good speech for John, and he was triumphantly acquitted. Brolaski immediately came forward and announced the dissolution of the “St. Louis Telegraph Train.” They immediately set about organizing another company, with the intention of freezing out our mess. We did not apply for admission nor did another mess from Pike County, composed of 13 men. They united with us, as did also another party having a two-horse team, and also a six mule team of the Davis Brothers & Odell, who had just caught up to our company that evening.
These seven wagons and twenty-one men immediately organized a separate company, calling themselves the Advance Guard of the St. Louis Telegraph Train. We left the others and started the next morning by ourselves. We traveled up the Big Platte River until May 18th. On the 19th, 20th, and 21st we went up the south Platte, crossing it on the 21st. On the 22nd we crossed the bluffs, about 20 miles to the North Fork of the Platte. On the 30th we arrived at Fort Laramie; June 13th, at South Pass; June 26th at Fort Hall; July 27th the Canyon of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. On August 3rd we arrived at the gold diggings, and on the 5th at Sutter’s Mills, California, where gold was first discovered by Marshall. Here we unloaded our wagons. We arrived several days before the “Rear Guard” of the St. Louis Telegraph Train, after having been passed by them several time on the way.
The trip was monotonous, interspersed with here and there pleasant or exciting episodes.
Our usual rate of travel was 25 miles a day, frequently more or less. When we found good stopping places, with grass and water, we halted to “condition” our stock, occasionally resting a day or two.
Our most exciting adventure was with the Indians. One day we met three Pawnee braves afoot. About an hour after, 150 Cheyenne Indians, in their war paint, rode up to us. I had a fine riding horse which had been foundered a few days before and I traded with one of the braves, he getting the best of the bargain. This was probably about ten o’clock A. M. About twelve o’clock, we drove down a slight hill to water our horses and to cook dinner. We turned loose our animals with long lariats attached to iron pins for safety. Suddenly a body of about fifty mounted Indians came sweeping down the hill, whooping and howling like mad. Supposing they intended to stampede our animals, we hurriedly staked the lariats to the ground and then got out our shooting irons, ready to welcome the Indians with bloody hands to hospital graves. At this moment, Marcy ran from behind one of our wagons exclaiming, “By God! I will kill them.” I grabbed his gun, telling him he had better not shoot. By this time we saw another band, about the same number, coming over the hill in the same boisterous manner. The first band was going on, we motioned to the second part to go around us, which they did. Then we saw a third band more hilarious than the others. We stopped the later band, as we did not fear them, and to our astonishment, found they had the scalps of the three Pawnees we had met, attached to long poles. All this fuss of the three bands was in celebration of their wonderful (?) victory over three lone braves on foot.