The Expedition of the Donner Party and Its Tragic Fate

By Eliza P. Donner Houghton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
SUFFERINGS OF THE "FORLORN HOPE"-- RESORT TO HUMAN FLESH -- "CAMP OF DEATH" -- BOOTS CRISPED AND EATEN -- DEER KILLED -- INDIAN Rancheria -- THE "WHITE MAN'S HOME" AT LAST.

ALTHOUGH we were so meagrely informed, it is well that my readers should, at this point, become familiar with the experiences of the expedition known as the Forlorn Hope,* and also the various measures taken for our relief when our precarious condition was made known to the good people of California. It will be remembered that the Forlorn Hope was the party of fifteen which, as John Baptiste reported to us, made the last unaided attempt to cross the mountains.

Words cannot picture, nor mind conceive, more torturing hardships and privations than were endured by that little band on its way to the settlement. It left the camp on the sixteenth of December, with scant rations for six days, hoping in that time to force its way to Bear Valley and there find game. But the storms

____________________
*
The experiences of the Donner Party, to which he refers in a footnote, suggested to Bret Harte the opening chapters of "Gabriel Conroy"; but he has followed the sensational accounts circulated by the newspapers, and the survivors find his work a more travesty of the facts. The narrative, however, does not purport to set forth the truth, but is confessedly imaginative.

-77-

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