Benicia Barracks, Cal.
December 18th 1855
My dear Sister,
On reaching here in October last I wrote to you a few lines. Since that time I have been on a cruise to Oregon & Washington Territories and the North Pacific in general.
On the 6th of November last we sailed in the Pacific mail steamship “California” for Ft. “Vancouver,” having on board Gen’l [Wool?] & staff, Comp. No. 3rd Art’y, Cap’t Keyes, and a large number of animals, stores, &c. for the Indian War in those territories. I intended to board at Fort Orford, my fort, on the way up, but the steamer was unable to make the landing, in fact we had rather rough weather while out and she made but this fort & then only to ______ passengers. On entering the Columbia River & when just on the bar one of the boilers gave way, and for a few moments rendered the _____ unmanageable, at the same time setting her on fire but by almost a miracle, we did not strike and in few minutes sufficient steam was got up in the other boiler & the fire subdued, so that we crossed the bar and got inside the heads, where a strong tide & current obliged us to anchor. Finally after narrowly escaping the breakers a second time by drifting at night, we reached Vancouver.
Here the vessel was chartered to take the Comp. of Capt Keyes to Steilacoom on Puget Sound, and I continued on board in the expectation of being landed at Ft. Orford. The trip up the Sound was very pleasant indeed, but in coming out we came into a strong headwind from the S.E. which about the time we got off the mouth of the Columbia River again increased to a horrible gale, and after blowing about 60 hours, disabled one engine. The steam____ _______, so that we were forced to resort to the sails and after various vexations, difficulties and escapes of one kind & another, we finally were enabled to get near enough to San Francisco to steam in, having patched up the engine, being there 21 days ___ from the Sound.
On my arrival here I found an order putting me on the board for the examination of the recent appointments from civil life in the Reg’t, which will [delay?] me here until after the new year.
Give my love to all at home, and believe me ever, with a Merry Christmas & New Year to all.
Your affectionate Brother,
John F. Reynolds
Miss Ellie Reynolds