till we reached here. The soil improves very much after crossing the James River. Some places even looked as if they might be cultivated, which is a rare thing for Dakota, taking the Territory generally. The country was very hilly and broken till we reached the James; after that it became more level. We found on our march large herds of buffalo and antelope, and the lakes filled with ducks and geese, but no Indians, though the country was well adapted for them to subsist and hide in. During the march I sent out scouts to ascertain if there were any recent signs of Indians. At our camp the first day out some tanks were discovered one day old of three Indians moving north. These were followed three days and then lost in the hills, a heavy rain-storm washing out all signs. On my third day out we crossed several trails of lodges about a week old, coming from the Missouri and going southeast. These were made without doubt by a band of friendly Yanktonnais, who left the hostile camp, crossed the Missouri forty miles above Rice, and went to join the rest of the friendly Indians between the Missouri and James. We also came upon a very heavy trail of half-breed carts, coming from the north and going toward the Missouri. Thinking that they might be a party going to trade with the Indians, I ordered Major Brackett, with 300 picked men, to follow the trail up. He followed it fifteen miles to their old camp; found they had left a week before, and had turned north in the direction we were going. So he joined me that evening.
The next day we again struck their trails and followed till I thought (it being late) we might reach them at night. I encamped and gave orders for a very early start. We reached their camp ten miles off very early and took them completely by surprise. We found 1,500 of their carts corralled, and they were all busy drying buffalo meat. They had with them their women and children and even their priest. There was also traveling with them a French nobleman lately from Paris. I had the camp thoroughly searched, but could find nothing contraband or anything whatever to trade with; nor did they have any robes or from the British Possessions and had been out about two months. They had been the President's order about trading, and assured me they only came to get meat. In conversation with the priest and head men I told them about the trouble their people gave us in furnishing ammunition to the Indians. They admitted there were people living in their section of country who were guilty of this, but it was done without the knowledge of the people generally (smuggled), and they were anxious to stop it. I told them that their coming into our country to hunt in large parties would have to be stopped, as they were killing all our game. From their own report they had killed 600 buffalo in one day. They answered me they knew no line or frontier. The half-breeds on the north and on the south of the line were all one family; they were intermarried, and that in their camp were many who live in the United States, while they lived in the British Possessions. They all spoke the same language (French); that they paid no taxes, had no laws; but that each colony or camp made their own laws, appointed a chief and two councillors, a police, &c. They handed me a written copy of their laws, among which I saw it was a fine of 5 pounds to sell ammunition to Indians.
They admitted that perhaps it was true that they had no right to hunt in our country without permission, but if they could not do so would starve, and added that the half-breeds living on our side of the