Antoine of Oregon - James Otis

John Mitchell's Outfit

There was one thing in favor of John Mitchell, as I looked at the matter, which was that his outfit was most complete. He had five well-made carts with straight bodies, and sideboards from fourteen to sixteen inches wide running outward four or five itches; in other words, what are called "Mormon wagons," and to three of these he counted on putting four Yoke of cattle apiece. I was not so well satisfied with this, for the beasts had been raised in Indiana, and therefore were not accustomed to eating prairie grass, which would be the greater portion of their food during the journey.

[Illustration] from Antoine of Oregon by James Otis

I had always heard it said that Illinois or Missouri cattle could stand the journey to the Oregon country better than any others, although then I did not know it from my own experience.

The ten mules were to be used for the hauling of the two remaining wagons. To one of these would be harnessed six of the animals, and the other, in which many of the women and children were to ride, was to be drawn by four. The horses were to be used under the saddle.

I was forced to admit that Mitchell had not been niggardly in outfitting his company.

He had no less than five sheet-iron stoves with boilers, one being carried on a small platform at the rear end of each wagon. There were tents in abundance for all the company, while for cooking utensils, there were plates and cups and basins of tin-ware, half a dozen or more churns, an ample supply of water kegs, and farming tools almost without number.

[Illustration] from Antoine of Oregon by James Otis

I had little or no interest in this part of the outfit, but took good care to make certain there were ropes and hobble straps in plenty for tying up the horses and fettering those that were likely to stray, because I knew from experience how much of such supplies might be lost or stolen during the long journey.

The weapons carried by the men were of heavier caliber than I would have suggested, unless they counted on using them wholly for buffalo shooting. John Mitchell took no little pride in showing me his rifled gun which carried thirty-two bullets to the pound, when to my mind fifty-six would have served him better for general work; but that was really no concern of mine.