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November 1, 1861: Suscol

November 1, 2011

Camp 63

[Today], I sent Averill and Hoffmann to a point we failed to reach the day before, while I visited some points nearer camp, collected and packed specimens, observed barometer. The day was very clear, after a cloudy morning, and they had an all-day’s ride of it, getting back after dark. They reached the point, 2,200 feet high, and got good bearings and had a most extensive view, reaching to San Francisco and Stockton on the southwest and southeast and far into the mountains in the opposite direction.

The swamps bordering all the rivers, bays, or lakes, are covered with a tall rush, ten or twelve feet high, called “tule” (tú-lee), which dries up where it joins arable land. On the plain below camp, fire was in the tules and in the stubble grounds at several places every night, and in the night air the sight was most grand—great sheets of flame, extending over acres, now a broad lurid sheet, then a line of fire sweeping across stubble fields. The glare of the fire, reflected from the pillar of smoke which rose from each spot—a pillar of fire it seemed—was magnificent. Every evening we would go out and sit on a fence on the ridge and watch this beautiful sight, some nights finer than others.

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