enemy occupied one, if one both, of these points, it was necessary that transportation should be made entirely independent of them. The greatest difficulty appeared to be in subsisting animals. Unless this could be done rations could not be furnished the troops, and the expedition would necessarily fall to the ground.
With the commencement of preparations came unlooked-for difficulties. Not for twenty years had a winter of such severity occurred in California. The whole country was flooded; hundreds of horses and cattle mired down in the open plains and were lost. For weeks it was almost impossible to move a vehicle of any kind, and the movement of baggage trains was out of the question.
In the mean time commissary stores and forage were sent by sea to Fort Yuma, making this point a general depot and base of operations.
The troops during this terrible winter lived in tents. As the rain subsided and the ground became more settled the troops were gradually moved toward Fort Yuma by companies of twos and threes. A sub-depot was formed at Oak Grove, near the edge of the Yuma desert, 120 miles from Los Angeles, called Camp Wright. From this point to Forty Yuma, 180 miles, it is a continuous desert, entirely destitute of vegetation; water very scarce, and generally of bad quality. Before moving the troops on this desert Colonel Carleton sent out parties and had the wells cleaned out and new ones dug, in order that every drop of water might be available. Forage for the animals was deposited at different points between Camp Wright and Fort Yuma. The troops were marched across by companies, one day apart. At some of the wells there was no little water that it was necessary to dip it out in a pint cup, thus consuming nearly a whole night in watering 100 animals.
In order that this desert may be more thoroughly understood I quote from the notes of Lieutenant-Colonel West, of the First Infantry, California Volunteers, who marched the first three companies over.
The description of the route commences at Oak Grove, Camp Wright, near the edge of the desert:
Left Camp Wright, near Warner's Ranch, at 7. 30 a.m.; marched 5 miles over pleasant rolling roads and well-wooded country to La Puerta, at which place found mountain stream, but no place for a camp ground; thence by fair road, without water, to San Felipe, 8 miles; pasturage good, but no wood; water neither overabundant not good; camp ground inferior.
Left San Felipe at 3. 30 a. m. heavy, hilly roads to Vallecito. Road sandy through bottom land to first hill, 7 miles; thence broken road, 6 miles, a great portion of which is a cannon, with but one wagon track, winding between cliffs. A very small force could oppose an enemy of far superior numbers. The latter part of the road more level. On the left side and about half a mile from the road is a spring, that affords water enough for 50 men; thence a small rugged hill is surmounted and a valley reached, 5 miles in length, by sandy road to Vallecito; water in fair supply; no wood but mesquite bushes; pasturage fair.
Left Vallecito at 3. 30 a. m.; marched 9 miles by heavy, sandy road to Palm Springs; water in limited supply, and required to be prepared for a command. The locality can be used for a camp. Thence by a heavy sandy road to Cariso Creek; no pasturage. The country has now become a complete desert of most forbidding aspect. The creek is a small stream, affording an abundant supply of water of an inferior quality. The bottom land is filled with a stunted growth of mesquite and arrow bushes.
Left Cariso Creek at 11.30 a. m.; following the stream and constantly crossing it; road heavy and sandy; thence over a level road, with somewhat improved traveling, 4 miles, to a short, steep hill; thence to a level plain, with desert brush, to Sackett's Wells. Last part of the road fair traveling; the desert complete; water good, but uncertain; in dry weather it certainly disappears.
Left Sackett's Wells at 5. 45 p. m., through a continuous desert; first 5 miles sandy; thence better traveling to Indian Well.
Indian Well is some 30 feet deep; water good, but in small quantities. Signal