20 November 2008

A Storm To Remember

"The storm king..., with a loud, ear-piercing crash of thunder, and a hissing flash of white lightning, gave the signal to the elements to begin the attack. We cowered helplessly under the shock, sensible that human strength was insignificant in comparison with the power of the blast which roared and yelled and shrieked about us.
"For hours the rain poured down - either as heavy drops which stung by their momentum; as little pellets which drizzled through canvas and blankets, chilling our blood as they soaked into clothing; or alternating with hail which in great, globular crystals, crackled against the miserable shelter, whitened the ground, and froze the air. The reverberation of the thunder was incessant; one shock has barely begun to echo around the sky, when peal after peal, each stronger, louder, and more terrifying than its predecessors, blotted from our minds the sounds and flashes which had awakened our first astonishment, and made us forget in new frights our old alarms. The lightning darted from zenith to horizon, appeared in all quarters, played around all objects. In its glare the smallest bushes, stones, and shrubs stood out as plainly as under the noon sun of a bright summer's day; when it subsided, our spirits were oppressed with the weight of darkness. No stringing together of words can complete a description of what we saw, suffered, and feared during that awful tempest. The stoutest hearts, the oldest soldiers, quailed."

This was written in 1891 by John G. Bourke in his book "On the Border with Crook" about a storm a group of soldiers encountered near the Yellowstone River. I highly recommend the book to anyone interested in the history of General Crook's campaign to bring the western tribes onto reservations peacefully.

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