York - By Dennis Langston

After that band of gypsy coyotes quietly walked by, the mood of our group became melancholic.  We had been at it for 3 months and we knew that what we just saw was not a sign of good times ahead.  Quite the contrary.  That was the third such sighting in a fortnight.  We knew it was going to be a long mission, and we planned for it.  But to say it is one thing.  To live it day after day, week after week until there seems to be no end in sight, is quite another.  And as gawd is my witness this is surely the other.  I tried to prepare myself, in my mind, but how was I to know what to expect having never been further than town for my entire life.  I didn’t even have a proper time to say good-bye to my woman, and child before we were fixin’ to leave.  I may never see them again.  I see the others writin’, especially the captain.  He more so, day and night.  Now I wish I had brung something to write on even if they wouldn’t let me send it back. It still woulda felt good to put it down on paper for my family to read later, just lettin ‘em know what we seed, and done on this trip.  I aint talked to William about what I desire, but surely as long as he knowd me, specially since I’m a family man too how can he not know?  Even though I was forced to come with him now that I’m here, and doing my share like all the other men I’ve earned to be a free man.  I was the one that nursed Sgt. Floyd, and did all I could until his poor ol body just gave out. 

Lawd knows how much longer this here trip gonna take, but the beauty of this untraveled land is a site to see.  Some days we walk amoung the heards of buffalo, a sea of brown thundering hooves, and horns eatin, and a grazin whit no care in the world.  Sometimes I wish I was one of them being able to roam to and fro, to and fro lawd knows I’m ready.  They are a smelly bunch, but they will provide for us after we set up our huntin party to bring down enough of them for food and other things we are aneedin.   I also like to watch the deer so preety and fast.  They are difficult to hunt ‘cause they hear and smell pretty good, and our muskette rounds only go so far.  The first shot must be true.  A second shot is a movin target harder to hit. 

We been up against death on four paws too.  Them bears aint nothin to mess with ‘cause it takes so many shots to bring em down.  The other day the captain had to be rescued from one who wanted what the captain had kilt a nice size deer.  The captain shoots then out anowhere a grizzly as big as a horse making deep grunting sounds with each stride taking aim for the captain.  Sgt. Ordway and three other men took aim on that there beast hitting it with all four shots that only made it run off not kill it.  We were all a bit shaken to see such a big animal filled with such fury be so nimble, and run so fast, and our muskette rounds havin little effect to bringing it down at such close range.  That day made us watchfull for more chance meetings with sudden death like the captain almost had.  It surely made me home sick and added to why William should let me go my way.  I will continue to do my share of what needs to be done for we must work together to stay alive so we can get back home where I will be a free man.

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