Wisconsin Volunteers, relative to the selection of a site for Fort Wadsworth at Kettle Lakes, on the Coteau de Prairie, and near its head, after the examination by Captain Burton of the valley of the James River for a distance of sixty or seventy miles had demonstrated that no timber for a military post could be found on that stream. This result, as you will recollect, was anticipated by me, as my own knowledge and that of others well acquainted with the country had led me to the conclusion that no sufficient body of timber was to be found on any part of the upper James River for even a small station, far less for a post of the magnitude and importance of Fort Wadsworth. The selection made by Major Clowney is, I have no doubt, a judicious and excellent one, being in a direct line from Big Stone Lake to the crossing of the Missouri on the Idaho route. The distance made by the odometer measurement is 183 1/2 miles from Fort Ridgely, direction northwest, and I estimate that to Fort Abercrombie at between eighty to eighty-five miles. The latter post is northeast from Fort Wadsworth. In my judgment there is no more commanding military position in the northwest than that of Fort Wadsworth.
I have advices from Fort Rice as late as 18th ultimo from Colonel Thomas. The whole command was under marching orders for the succeeding day. It was General Sully's intention to strike toward Rainy Butte, where he expected to find a camp of 400 lodges, and thence march to Powder Horn River, where it was supposed the main camp of the western Teton Sioux would be encountered. The column was supplied with rations for forty days.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. H. SIBLEY,
HEADQUARTERS FORT WADSWORTH, DAK. TER.,
August 3, 1864.
Captain R. C. OLIN,
Assistant Adjutant-General, District of Minnesota:
SIR: On the 26th, after the departure of Captain L. S. Burton to examine James River, in company with Captain J. E. McKusick, assistant quartermaster, accompanied by a proper guard, I visited and examined all of the points of land inclosed by the chain of lakes called Kettle Lakes. All the land around and inclosed by the Kettle Lakes is covered with excellent grass for feed, and if the old grass had been burned off in the spring would have produced plenty of hay within seven or eight miles of the fort. The general shape of the lakes is like a horse-shoe, and a ditch or fence across the entrance half a mile would inclose several thousand acres of good land and many of the points running into the lakes covered with good timber. The land is rolling, but not broken.
On the 27th, in company with Captain J. E. McKusick, assistant quartermaster, I examined the country on the outside of the chain of lakes. It occupied about eight hours to travel around the lakes. I found the country rather more broken on the outside ride, but covered with grass for feed, and many groves of oak timber. I have found but two places where the lakes can be forded, and but one place ten rods wide that it connected by land excepting the main entrance, which is the only place for loaded wagons to approach the fort. The point I have selected for the fort is on a ridge running to the northwest, with but a few trees near