After remaining in the East a short time [Haskel Amy] returned to the Willamette Valley over the old Emigrant Trail, driving an ox team across the Plains. After recuperating his team, he loaded it with apples and came to Rogue River Valley and sold his apples out at one dollar per pound. Always having an eye to business, he with Major Lupton took a tract of land on what is known as Big Sticky. He sold his ranch there and bought what was then called the Charley Drew farm on Bear Creek in this county.
James Lupton's Donation Land Claim is circled; an "X" marks the approximate location of the Indian village at the mouth of Little Butte Creek. Lupton's property was centered between today's Crater Lake Highway, McLoughlin Drive, Vilas Road and Gregory Road, south of White City.
Camp on Rickreall CreekMy Dear Friend
Dec 25 of 51
Sir I avail myself of this opportunity of writing you before I leave this place. The gold fever has broke out afresh in this country, which I presume you have had some account of. The new discovery made last winter is on the Klamath River, the dividing line between Oregon and California. The gold is said to be found in great abundance. I have seen some of the gold, which is very coarse, and the prospect is so flattering I have been induced to embark in the enterprise. I raised a company to proceed immediately to the mines, and I am happy indeed to have the honor to inform you that I have been selected by the unanimous consent of the company to conduct while prosecuting the journey. I expect to arrive at the place of our destination about [the] middle of March. The intermediate country through which we have to pass is infested by hostile Indians, who attack the emigrant at every point. It appears that they are determined never to allow any emigrants to pass unmolested, but we are fully prepared at [all] points. This is the first time that I have had the opportunity of seeing the great Willamette Valley. I assure you that it is a very rich and fertile country. It fully meets my expectation. It is well watered, has plenty of prairies, and for all farming purposes I have never in all my travels have seen a country better adapted for agriculture than this.
With your permission, I will inform you of what I have been doing. Last spring I re-engaged in the government service at Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River as an assistant in the construction of the barracks. I was afterwards appointed by the chief quartermaster of this department as his agent to conduct the transporting of goods and all necessary supplies for a fort at the Dalles of the Columbia River. In this capacity I have been acting until recently, the pay being tolerable good, two hundred and fifty dollars per month. I have left this situation for uncertainty in the gold mines; whether I shall make anything by the operation or not remains for the future to decide.
I have made a great many good and influential friends since I came into this country. I have not, among all the officers composing the Rifle Regiment, one enemy.
I was very glad to hear from your family by the letter which I received from Mrs. Holmes. You will receive for yourself and family the assurance of my most distinguished consideration.
I am, sir, very respectfullySouthern Oregon Historical Society MS 377
Your obdnt. servt.
Jas. A. Lupton
Camp on RickreallDear Sister
I have at last returned from the mines, but have not brought much of the oro with me. I still have [a] small share of it. I am about returning to the mines, and in fact I will leave tomorrow to try my luck once more. I done pretty well when I was in the mines; I made about seven hundred dollars in about two months; that is what I call doing tolerably well. The gold mines has been very rich, and it is reported that new diggings has been discovered on Rogue River which is said to be very extensive. This place is in Oregon near its southern boundary. The miners have had several battles with Indians in that section of country in which several persons on both sides has been killed. It is necessary for persons traveling through that country to go in large parties to ensure safety. A majority of those who were engaged in the mines at [the] time I was there made a considerable of money. The average was about ten dollars per day, but some made twice as much and even three times as much. I have seen men take out a hundred and fifty dollars in one day. All the money that I made was made in speculation and not by digging. I built the first house in Shasta Valley. Since that time there has been a large city built, the name of which is Shasta City, and when I tell you this town of fifty houses or more, and a thousand tents, was built in less than two months from the time I put up the first house, which was only a few days after the discovery of Shasta mines.
Give my compliments to Mr. Holmes and say to Gen. Lane as elected delegate to Congress from this Territory.
You spoke to me about going home, but I cannot go as long as I can make a living here so easily. I can make as much here in [a] week as I could in the States in two months. Last summer I made in five months fourteen hundred and fifty dollars doing nothing, and that clear of all expenses. This you may think is an exaggeration, but it is not. It is the fact. But that it takes a good deal to support a person here is also a fact.
Please send me some newspapers and oblige yours
Very respectfully yourTo
J. A. Lupton
Southern Oregon Historical Society MS 377
On the morning of the first Sunday in June 1853, Major James A. Lupton and myself, while on our way to Jacksonville, via the Table Rock trail, leading over the mountains from Umpqua Valley, with a drove of hogs which we were taking to the Rogue River Valley to feed on camas, the feed for hogs at that season of the year--we were also looking for a place to cut hay--and having camped the night before on Trail Creek, a tributary of Rogue River, rode into an Indian ambush on the north side of the river, a short distance above Thompson's Ferry [later Bybee Ferry--where Table Rock Road crosses the Rogue River]. We had taken a trail leading to the river about two or three miles above the ferry, instead of the right one leading direct to it. On entering a clump of willows on the river's bank we found ourselves confronted by a band of about 40 Indians in war paint, armed in part with guns and pistols, others having bows and arrows, which in close quarters are more effective weapons in a fight than the guns used at that time.
Major Lupton, as he was generally called, was not an army officer, but came to Oregon in 1849 as wagon master for the rifle regiment. He was at that time engaged in the business of packing. We were partners, and a more honorable, upright and energetic man it has never been my fortune to know. He was brave to rashness. He was just ahead of me on the trail, and as he halted I noticed he reached for his pistol in the holster of his saddle. I spurred my horse to his side, and putting my hand on his arm told him not to shoot, immediately addressing the chief, who was standing in front of us a few paces off, in Chinook, asking him what was the matter, and how far it was to the ferry. This, of course, after saying to him, "How do you do?"
To none of these inquiries did he reply, but stood sullen and motionless. Lupton still held his revolver in hand, ready for action, but not raising it, awaiting the outcome of my talk with the chief, who proved to be "Cutface Jack," chief of a wild band of Upper Rogue River Indians. Knowing enough of Indians to feel certain that they were lying in wait for a larger party than two persons, and having heard that a raid was contemplated by a company of white men to their country to rescue a white woman who was supposed to be held a prisoner among them, I immediately decided that the proper thing to do was to assume that it was that party, not us, they desired to intercept.
I kept close watch of the chief as he proceeded to question me in turn, knowing it was of the utmost importance to understand every word he uttered, as well as to make him understand me, which was a task not easily performed, as neither of us were proficient linguists in the Chinook jargon. He asked who we were, what we wanted, and where we were going. I told him we were from the Willamette Valley, had come across the mountains the day before and had camped for the night a few miles back, giving him the exact spot, which I divined that he well knew, as I did not think that we could approach so near a party of hostile Indians without their knowledge. He was satisfied with my answers, and immediately came forward and gave me his hand to shake. He did not offer it to the Major, as he regarded me as chief, for I had done the talking. This was well, as the Major told me afterwards that he would have refused it, as he expected at any moment to have use for his right hand in handling his pistol. Upon a sign made by the chief, the warriors all disappeared into the bushes, and we passed on to the ferry without further molestation.
My companion, irritated by the occurrence, proposed going back and taking a few shots at them, as he said, just to teach them better than to interfere with white men. When we arrived at the ferry, Thompson informed us that ''Cutface Jack" and his party were looking for a company of volunteers under Captain Lamerick, who a couple of days before had captured four of their party, and while holding them prisoners as hostages for the release of the supposed white woman, who was believed to be held a prisoner by their tribe, two of them in trying to escape in the night had been shot and killed, the other two escaping to the Indian camp with the news. "Cutface Jack" had rallied his band of warriors and was on the warpath, and he was trying to intercept Lamerick's party on their return from their trip up the river. Instead of this, he informed us, they had returned to Jacksonville by a more southerly route, and thus had eluded the ambush of "Cutface Jack" which we fell into.
We arranged with Thompson to send a man with some trusty Indians back to move our camp to his ferry. As he had a squaw for a wife and was on good terms with the Indians we felt that the camp would be safe under his care.
The next day was election day, Jacksonville polling a very large vote. Having cut and stacked a lot of hay and built a cabin across Bear Creek from Jacksonville, about 12 miles distant, in what was conceded to be exclusively Indian country, as no settlers had located across the creek in that vicinity, Lupton had gone on the plains to buy cattle from the immigrants, and after I had completed the preparations he desired me to make, I started on horseback for Marysville, on what was to me most important business, seeing the person who later became the partner of my life. . . .
[After the 1853 Rogue River Indian War] Lupton came in from the plains with a lot of stock and was surprised to find even the arrangements at the camp were not disturbed. Half a dozen pack covers, half a dozen lash ropes, a hatchet and some nails were taken, but were brought back by order of little Chief John. When locating on the place I made a treaty with this Indian, paying him for the use of the land from which to cut hay and for the stock to range, naming specifically that the hogs were to have right to camas and acorns. The hay was hauled to Jacksonville the following summer and sold; as the winter was mild and it was not needed for the stock.
Lupton later became sole owner of this property, and, after living there two years, was killed by the Indians in a battle at the mouth of Butte Creek. He was leading a company of volunteers, and while charging in the brush was pierced through the body by an arrow from an Indian bow. The Indian was lying on his back and sprang his bow with his feet--a very effectual way, as great force can thus be given to the bow to speed the arrow.
George E. Cole, Early Oregon: Jottings of Personal Recollections of a Pioneer of 1850, 1905, pages 48-63
Southern Oregon Pioneer Association Records, Resolution on Deaths of Members, volume 2, page 4, 1892, Southern Oregon Historical Society MS 517
James A. Lupton, 28
1854 Jackson County census
Jackson Co. O.T.Dear Sister,
July 3rd of 54
I received your [letter] a few days ago, and was glad to hear from you. You told me that you had heard from sister Elizabeth but did not tell me where abouts in New Jersey she was. If I knowed where she was I should write her.
I have received four or five letters from you since last fall, and have answered them partly--I am living on a farm and have been for the last year. I am making a living, and that is about all. I had in a fair crop this year, but it will not be more than half a crop at last.
I had thought of coming (I was going to say home!!) to St. Charles this coming year, but I shall not be able.
Times have been very hard in this section of country the last year, but I think will improve in a short time. This is the first year there has been any wheat raised for market. There will be considerable for sale this fall. There is a great deal of money taken out of the mines in this vicinity, [but] at the same time it has been taken out of the country. Consequently, not much of it [is] in circulation in this valley. Next year we'll be able to raise as much wheat as will be consumed at home and be able to keep a large amount of money in circulation, which we now send off in exchange for flour--
This valley is rich in soil and the hills and mountains around it is rich in mineral wealth--new diggins in several places have been discovered in the vicinity of this valley within the last month, which are said to be very rich. The country in this vicinity is not half prospected as yet, and I am inclined to believe there will be new diggins discovered for many years to come. This is truly a golden country--still there is here [nothing] but the glittering dust to keep me. Society is very poor indeed. Families that were not second-rate in the States are here set up as the bong tong, and are considered the upper "Ten." You can see young ladies put on all the airs (which they are by no means master of) which would lead a person to believe they were accomplished and polished ladies, but when examined they are of the very coarsest texture. Their manners are coarse and blunt, and all they can say is yes or no. The young men are of a better class. This country is one of the best places in [the] world for ascertaining what a man is. A man who has been in this country for the term of three years and has not made anything, you can put him down as not fit for anything. There may be exceptions, but very few. Industry and economy, with a tolerable share of good health and a moderate share of good luck in the course of three years will place a man in very easy circumstances.
I amSouthern Oregon Historical Society MS 377
Your affectionate brother
J. A. Lupton
Jackson Co. O.T.Dear Sister
Febr. 30 of 55
I received your letter a few days ago, the date of which I have now forgot. I was very glad to hear from you and shall be happy to hear often of you and your family. I am a very poor hand to write. I would much rather receive than write letters; at the same time I will endeavor to write oftener. I receive occasionally a newspaper, for which I am very much obliged to you for, and shall send some in exchange.
I was very sorry to hear of the situation [of] Sister Elizabeth. She is certainly an object of pity. I feel sorry from the very bottom of my heart for her. I should be very glad to have her with me, and if I could find out where she lives I would write her, and if she desired to come and live with me I would assist her in getting to this place. I am very sorry to hear that your patience is exhausted with her. You should remember that she has not been so fortunate as ourselves. She is a poor, unfortunate woman and deserves our sympathy. She has not the knowledge that will enable her to overcome and bear with patience the many trials and difficulties which she has to encounter. She may have got a worthless husband, and if so he will not provide for her as abundantly as he should. To be neglected by a husband is something very trying; to be alone in this world without anyone to advise with or protect us is very bad, but to have one whom we depend upon and placed all our affections with the expectation of meeting with a reciprocal feeling and then to be neglected and disappointed is something truly trying and mortifying. Such a one truly deserves our sympathy. I hope you will bear with patience the trouble she may give you. I have not had a letter from her at all, but would be very glad to have a communication from her so that I might know where to write to her. I would do so often, and shall write her at Washington City. I hope you will write her often and console her as much as possible. I should like very much to have John here with me. As to poor Father, I presume he is dead. It cannot be possible he is alive at this time. It would give me a great deal of pleasure to have seen him once more, but it cannot be possible in the ordinary course of events that he is alive at this present time, and [I] therefore will never enjoy the pleasure of seeing him again. When I think how we all have been separated from one another almost from infancy, I cannot help shedding tears. I am so completely overcome that I am compelled to stop--I could weep for days if it would alter the matter any. There are persons in the house [i.e., he is not alone as he writes] and I feel ashamed. I could not control my feelings. But when in imagination I contemplate a family reared among strangers, without anyone to guide, direct and assist them, depending altogether upon the kindness of strangers [against] "the cold mercy of the world," I seem to contemplate one which should excite the sympathy of all kind and generous hearts. I cannot think about it without being so overcome as to feel my heart ready to burst. You that is blessed with a family, remember the great responsibility that rests upon you; raise your children in the fear and love of God, and they will love and respect you. Be careful of their education. Give them an early education and give them a good one. It will be a passport for them through life, an introduction to society; it will be a source of consolation in the hour of adversity, a solace in trouble; with a good education they will be able to wend their way through life in a manner that will do honor to their parents and credit to themselves. Their careers in after days depend wholly upon the principles you instill into their youthful minds. Therefore you cannot be too careful. Treat them kindly; you do not know how soon you may be taken from them, and they left to battle with the storms and difficulties that beset their path through life. God grant that you and your husband may live long to enjoy the happiness which your children will afford you, a blessing which I most sincerely wish both of you. I do not belong to that fortunate portion of the human family who has a companion who can cheer him in the hour of adversity or share his prosperity. I have no one to disclose my secrets to, no one to cheer me in the hour of despondency, no one to smooth my fevered brow on the couch of sickness, no one to lament my absence, or to smile at my return, no one to give me those heaven-born smiles which should make a man feel his greatness and cheer him on in the paths of rectitude and moral worth. This is a blessing which I do not enjoy. You spoke to me of one Miss Powell, or at least of a lady you thought would suit me. I am afraid you do not know what my ideas are of a lady or what constitutes a lady. My notion about women has changed considerable since I came to this country. I find but few ladies in this country but what are destitute of those qualities which I think are requisite to make a lady, and I am beginning to think that ladies are scarce in every country.
I do not think I shall be able to go and see you for a year or two. I intend to leave just as soon as I can get my business in a condition so that I can do so.
Times are very hard at present in this country, as well as in the States, owing to a dry winter. The miners have been in want of water all winter. Times would be very good if we had plenty of water. There is hardly enough of money in the country for common business purposes. They still continue to discover new mines. The late discoveries are very rich.
I forgot to tell you what kind of a lady would suit me. I want an intelligent, well-polished, refined in manners, fine education, a fine signer, plays well on the piano and other instruments, a good, amiable disposition, kind and affectionate, one who would make a home happy, one who would appear well in society. This is the kind I want, none other will suit.
Write soon, and if you can find out any about Father, John or Elizabeth let me know it all. Give Mr. Holmes my best regards.
I am very respectfullyTo Mrs. M. Holmes
Your affectionate brother
J. A. Lupton
Southern Oregon Historical Society MS 377
1855 Apr 25 Wednesday. We plowed for corn. Mr Rockfellow's Mule took sick and he brought it up for Father to cure. It is some better this evening. Major Lupton came to visit us this evening he is going to stay all night.
1855 Apr 26 Thursday. the Major stayed all night. We plowed for corn. It has been a fine day
Diary of Welborn Beeson
I received your letter of August 6 inst. I am very glad to hear from you, and also from Elizabeth. At the same time, I am very sorry to hear of her misfortune. You informed me that she was in Potts [sic] County, Pennsylvania, but I am at a loss to know at what particular place. I will write her immediately but when you write me again, you will please inform me at what place in Potts County, so that I may be enabled to send directly to her. I am pleased to hear that your family are all well, but you discourage me very much when you say that you know quite a number of polished ladies, and that I cannot get any of them. I sent Mr. Holmes a number of newspapers. If you have seen them, and have examined them closely you will perceive the position I occupy before my countrymen, and if the position I [omission] is worth nothing, then I am not entitled to a polished lady. You will perceive by examining those papers that I am a member of the Legislature of this Territory, and when we consider that there is as much talent in this county as there is in the county of St. Charles, and having it arrayed against me in my election, there is a strong probability that I occupy an honorable position before my fellow countrymen. And if so am I not entitled to an accomplished companion. If I am not, then there is no use in one spending half of the nights in endeavoring to acquire knowledge or of acting honorably with my fellow man--one thing certain, when I marry, I shall marry none but her who I think will be intelligent enough to appreciate true worth. I do not think any the less of a person because they are not accomplished, or because they do not suit me--but I do not place my affection on them. I have seen many a lady who would make a man an affectionate wife, and who were worthy of a man who possesses those qualities which go to make a great and good man. Yet they did not suit me.
If you could see some letters which I have received from a lady in St. Louis, you would think I am not forgotten and also that I know some who possess the elements of a refined and polished lady--if you think that I would suit the Polish lady which you speak of, you may say to her that I intend returning in a short time if not sooner, and if she cannot do any better, she had better wait and try her luck. I am rather partial to the Poles, and especially for those Polanders who endeavored to cast off the yoke of oppression and elevate themselves and their country to that proud position which the God of nature intended they should occupy--my heart beats with love for that country which adopted those glorious principles of human rights that we find in the Polish constitution--
I am your affectionate brotherSouthern Oregon Historical Society MS 377 Written shortly before Lupton's death on October 8, 1855. He had been elected to the Legislature on June 4.
J. A. Lupton
From Southern Oregon.
Forest Dale, Jackson County,Editor of the Oregonian:--I have but little news to send you this week. The trial of Oldham for the murder of Dr. Alexander is over, and has resulted in an acquittal. There has been another stampede of Indians from the reserve, and the troops are in the field endeavoring to persuade their naughty pets to return to their friends, in order that the "fatted calf" may be killed, and that there may be much rejoicing thereat.
Southern Oregon, Aug. 25, 1855.
The Indians engaged in the late bloody tragedy on the Klamath are still at large, and the probability is that they will be suffered to go unpunished, unless the citizens of northern California shall rise in their might and with their own hands inflict the punishment these "red devils" so richly deserve. Thousands of dollars have already been expended by her citizens in an honest endeavor to avenge the death of so many of their friends and comrades; they traced the perpetrators of these foul deeds through the mountains to the reserve in this valley, whither the guilty had fled for protection, which was immediately offered them by the military at Fort Lane, and, as a matter of course, the pursuing party was compelled to return without having accomplished their designs.
In the event, however, that the Indians are not soon given up, the volunteers who enlisted in this cause at the commencement will return with the requisite reinforcement, and will, with renewed vigor, prosecute the object of their mission to the bitter end, and, if necessary, assistance will be rendered them by citizens of this valley, notwithstanding we are compelled in a measure to obey the mandates of "a secret political organization" known as "Durhams," whose chief has proclaimed to the world that no expedition against their particular favorites--the Indians--shall receive the sanction of his office, or, in other words, the sanction of the executive of this Territory.
Those of our citizens who are so often compelled to act on the defensive, and to make the rifle their constant companion, who have lost relatives and friends, and perhaps the fruits of years of toil, can best judge of the position in which we are placed by such manifestations on the part of those in power in Oregon.
The same line of policy should be adopted here with regard to Indians that is pursued by our companions on the other side of the Siskiyou--viz.: to commence a war of extermination, which would at once compel the military to keep the Indians garrisoned, and if the government is particularly desirous of propagating the species, would also compel them to furnish the Indians such nourishment as in such cases is required.
Oregonian, Portland, September 8, 1855, page 2
I approve [of] your course in not consenting to surrender those Indians into the hands of the "volunteers." The laws of the country clearly indicate a different mode of disposing of such cases. Besides, some of those suspected may not be guilty, and their delivery into the hands of a mob (and such I apprehend the "volunteers" were in the view of the law) would have been equivalent to shooting them down. If the perpetrators of the atrocious deed, they deserve death, but an excited and enraged population are illy qualified to discriminate between the innocent and the guilty, and however deserved the punishment, all experience proves that executions without the forms of law are not only without salutary effect, but of [a] positively injurious tendency.
It cannot be too strongly impressed upon the Indians that their only security against violence and wrong from reckless whites is to remain quietly on the reservation, that if they leave it and mingle with the vagabond Indians infesting the region adjacent to the boundary between Oregon and California, or at any time give countenance and protection to any fleeing to the reservation to escape detection and punishment, and that their security, happiness and prosperity as individuals and as a people rests upon their upright and peaceful deportment and prompt surrender of all among them guilty of violence, robbery or theft.
Prescient letter of Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs Joel Palmer to Rogue River Indian agent George H. Ambrose, September 19, 1855; Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1872, Reel 5; Letter Book D, pages 289-292.
It is true Indian difficulties may occur, but in this valley it is not likely without some of us are very anxious for it. During the past six months peace has not been interrupted for one hour in the upper R.R. Valley. One or two men have been killed in the valleys or mountains towards the coast. As many have been killed or wounded in the same time in drunken brawls between whites. Yet during all this time you have labored over the signature of "Clarendon" and otherwise to make the impression that there has been continual skirmishing and fighting with the Indians in Rogue River Valley and "Forest Dale." This is unjustifiable; persons at a distance are deterred from coming to the mines; emigration is turned away in some other direction, and the settlers are kept in a continual alarm and uneasiness.
"Anti-Humbug," letter dated September 22, 1855, Oregon Statesman, Corvallis, October 13, 1855, page 1
Letter from the South.About the middle of the week Major L. came into town and addressed the citizens, informing them that it was determined to organize several companies and attack the Indians at different points, so that none should escape. He also said that the Indians were in great commotion at seeing the settlers driving their cattle and moving their families away from their encampments. "I have been among them," added the Major, "and pacified them with the assurance that we were not going to war with them," and he then coolly proposed to massacre them while off their guard. . . .
Forest Dale, Jackson Co., O.T.Friend Dyer:--I have but little news to send you this week. Business is somewhat dull, though apparently improving. Farmers are busily engaged marketing their wheat and other products, and our merchants are laying in their winter supply of goods. The miners in this vicinity are preparing for a good winter's work--an abundance of water being anticipated.
Sept. 28th, 1855.
Three excellent flouring mills are in active operation in this valley, and a large portion of the flour manufactured is being sent to Yreka and sold or placed in storage. The past has proved an exceedingly prolific harvest, paying but a small remuneration however to the farmer, on account of the low prices for which he is compelled to sell his produce.
A young man by the name of Thomas Low, some few days since, caught his foot in the gearing of a threshing machine and so fractured the leg as to render amputation necessary. The operation was performed by Dr. C. B. Brooks of Jacksonville, under whose judicious treatment the patient is doing well.
A zealous opposition to the chastisement of Indians who have, and still are, committing depredations upon the citizens of this section of country in the settlements and on the highway is manifest on the part of several official dignitaries residing south of the California mountains, all of whom belong to the Durham herd. It is the opinion here that every one of the correspondents of the Oregon Statesman, and its echo the Umpqua Gazette, aside from the conductors of those sheets, are office holders. Such being the case, it seems to be a candid observer that no other evidence is required to establish the fact that a mutual sympathy does exist between the Indians here and the so-called Democracy of this Territory, especially as these communications have been freely endorsed by the leading stars of that secret political organization, known as the Salem clique. To the impartial reader, however, let these matters be submitted; one thing is certain, that the depredations which the Indians are constantly committing has created a violent antipathy against the entire Indian race in the minds of the majority of the citizens of both Southern Oregon and Northern California which cannot easily be eradicated, and these feelings are kept alive by the Indians visiting, whenever their own safety will admit it, the relatives of those who have suffered from their hostilities, and boasting of the tortures they have inflicted on their relatives and friends.
Notwithstanding the oft-repeated declarations made by the Indian sympathizers, as heralded forth to the world through their hireling presses, that the utmost harmony exists between the two races, a system of warfare has been carried on by the Indians here that has within the last five months in this section of country alone brought no lesser number than twenty-two of our citizens to an untimely grave. To make up this number I am compelled to note the massacres which have occurred during the present week.
On Tuesday last, as a small party of men with teams were crossing the Siskiyou Mountain on the road to Yreka, they were attacked by Indians, and two of their number, Calvin Field and John Cunningham, killed. The Indians also killed thirteen head of oxen on the spot, drove off several more, and carried away a considerable quantity of merchandise. This was not enough, however, to satisfy their savage thirst for blood, for on the following day they succeeded in killing another citizen, making the third [death], and wounding the fourth. Who is to be the next victim time alone can tell; occurrences of this kind have become so numerous within the past few months that I cannot but believe that the extirpation of every Indian tribe infesting this section of country particularly is a sacrifice due to the glory of God and the security of the lives and property of our citizens.
CLARENDON.Oregonian, Portland, October 13, 1855, page 2
For the Oregonian.
Letter from the South.
Forest Dale, Jackson Co., O.T.Editor Oregonian.--Rogue River Valley is again reaping the benefit arising from imported sympathy for the "poor Indian."
October 6th, 1855.
The entire community here has become alarmed, and if coming events ever cast their shadows before them, then we are to have a second edition of the war of '53 and the predictions of many of our citizens fully realized. Many of the residents here are removing their families to places of safety, and are shouldering their rifles in defense of their inalienable rights--the peaceful possession of homes and firesides; even men who have heretofore sustained the policy pursued by those having authority in this Territory, with regard to Indian affairs in Southern Oregon particularly--and who have ever been on the alert to mislead the public mind relative to the many expeditions and engagements of which the Indians here have been productive--and who have even come so far as to prefer false charges against men who have taken an active part in such expeditions and engagements, have signified a willingness to espouse the cause of the white man by taking up arms against the very beings (if beings they are) whose virtue, honor, integrity and loving kindness have ever been the burden of their songs--the objects of their happiest dreams.
Since the massacre of Fields, Cunningham and Warner on the 25th of September just past, I have received no positive information of the loss of any more lives, although report says that fifteen men have just been killed on Beaver Creek, on the opposite side of the Siskiyou Mountains. This does not seem incredible, as it is known that a large number of Indians are prowling about in that vicinity. On Thursday last, a party of Indians fired upon Mr. Myers and Mr. Fisk, near the residence of the former and but a short distance from the Eagle Mills, but fortunately missed both of their intended victims. On the same day another party killed several head of cattle at Vannoy's ferry on Rogue River, below the reserve, and on the following day a party of about forty miners proceeded from the Reserve to the residence of Mr. Decker, near the mouth of Butte Creek, and drove the family from the house; this I think is the third time within the last two months that Mr. Decker and family have been compelled to leave home and seek the more populous section of the settlement for protection against those government pets. On Applegate some stock has been taken, but of the amount I am not advised. Capt. Bob Williams is in that vicinity, and I expect soon to hear of the effects of his unerring rifle.
A company of volunteers, under the command of Capt. A. G. Fordyce, is already in pursuit of Indians in the vicinity of Mr. McLaughlin's, and if there is anything in the general appearance of men, this company is bound to render a good account of its stewardship.
The supplies for the volunteers already in the field have been raised by contributions; I predict, however, that in the event of a general war, as now seems inevitable, that the procurement of supplies will be almost an impossibility, for the coffers of our citizens have already been drained to such an extent, for like purposes, that they are wholly unable to furnish supplies without a fair remuneration, and it is generally thought that the Governor of Oregon, with his best of advisers, will report against such prices being paid, as they have done in other instances, where volunteer service has been rendered under similar circumstances. In the event that my prediction proves correct, or perhaps if otherwise we might with seeming propriety address the executive of this Territory, in the language of Jefferson to the British king, "open thy breast, sire, to liberal and extended thought." The great principles of right and wrong are legible to every reader, to peruse which requires not the aid of many councilors.
If however we are to judge of the future by the past, quotations from their favorite authors will be of no avail. Political supremacy instead of principles of justice has too long been the basis of a great part of the policy pursued by the champions of Durhamism relative to Indian affairs in Southern Oregon.
Respectfully yours,Oregonian, Portland, October 20, 1855, page 2
I found that Mr. Jones was disposed to the shooting plan, for he had been with the Major, and had agreed to go down the Valley and help muster a company to act in concert for a general massacre.
I felt impelled to remonstrate against such injustice, and pointed out the probability of himself and some of his neighbors falling in such an encounter. I reminded him that the Indians were not only more numerous than ourselves, but that they occupied vantage ground, that when attacked above, they would naturally run down the valley and kill all before them. I begged him to remember that it is not Indian nature, but human nature, to make a desperate struggle, rather than give up life and home. But Mr. Jones mounted his horse and rode away, apparently fixed in his determination for slaughter. . . .
I did not know what further measures had been taken until Sunday morning, when I was informed that a meeting of citizens had been held, that two Methodist preachers, and other leading men, had made speeches, and that the unanimous feeling was in favor of the measures which have already been set forth. Monday morning, October 8th, 1855, was the time agreed on to commence the work.
As there was a Methodist quarterly meeting to assemble that day, within two hours' ride of the scene of the intended massacre, I hoped there would be heard in that religious assembly some expression of brotherly kindness and charity for the poor doomed outcasts in their immediate vicinity. Full of this hope I attended the meeting, but the services progressed with the rehearsal of "experiences" common on such occasions, until speakers became scarce, and the presiding elder exhorted all who had anything to say for the Lord to improve the time.
I arose, and spoke with all the feeling, and all the power I had, in the behalf of the poor Indians. I entreated that assembly, who had gathered themselves together in the name of Christ, whose whole life and ministry was a living Gospel of Love, to put on the spirit and the power of Christ. I begged them, by every principle of humanity and justice, to inflict no wrong upon the helpless. I drew in strong colors the scenes that would inevitably follow such an attack as was meditated. I thought if there was a soul, or a heart in them, I would find it, even if it could be reached through nothing but their own selfishness. I pictured our burning houses, our murdered wives and children, our silent and desolated homes, and all the wrongs that would inevitably flow into that crimson: torrent they were about to open. In conclusion, I strongly urged them, as citizens and Christians, to raise a voice of remonstrance, or to call on the authorities for the administration of justice, and thus avert the impending calamity.
No voice responded to the appeal, and. the meeting closed, for no one had independence enough to speak his thoughts. But I afterward learned that there were members of that assembly who silently acknowledged its force, but the pressure of public opinion prevented open expression. I cannot resist the conviction that if the presiding elder, with his brethren of the ministry, and leading members of the Church, had taken a firm, manly, and Christian position, as advocates of the Gospel of Peace, the horrors of that week, and of the subsequent war, might have been prevented. I am confirmed in this opinion by one who became penitent for the part he had taken in those atrocities. He solemnly declared that he was led into it by the preachers. . . .
During the following week all was intense excitement through the length and breadth of the valley, but the prevailing hope was, that, as the work had commenced, it would be effectual, and soon accomplished. Numerous were the reports as to individual cases, as well as the general progress of the enterprise, and it was difficult to obtain the exact details. The following is as near the truth as I could ascertain.
During the night of Sunday, the main body of the assailants approached as near to the Indians, on or near the Reserve, as they could without being perceived. They were found in several ranches on the banks of the river. Three companies crept on their hands and knees through the chaparral, so as to obtain advantageous positions. With the first early dawn of morning they poured the deadly contents of their rifles through the frail tenements, under which were sleeping helpless men and women, little children, and nursing infants. Let fathers and mothers fancy themselves and their sleeping babes thus assailed, and they will realize better than I can describe the horrors of that occasion.
Being thus unprepared for war, and taken by surprise, the Indians fled for shelter to the surrounding chaparral, while their assailants continued, with their revolvers, to dispatch all they could reach. They captured two or three Indian women alive, and when no man was in sight, it being something of a risk to creep after them in the brush, these women were compelled, under threats of instant death, to force out their husbands and sons and brothers, that they might be shot without danger to their destroyers. It was while thus employed that Major L., already spoken of, received an arrow from an unseen hand, which penetrated his lungs, and he fell. One of his companions was also mortally wounded by an arrow, and both of them died in the course of two or three days. Several others were slightly wounded, and thus their cowardly and outrageous proceedings were, for the time, suspended, if we except the amusement of stabbing and target-shooting at the bodies of the dead that were left on the ground.
I never ascertained how it was that on this occasion the Indians used only bows and arrows. It must have been that some strategy had been used to get possession of their guns, or else they had not time to load them, for in the various reports of this affair, firearms were not mentioned in my hearing.
Fort Lane, commanded by Captain Smith, was within a short distance. I cannot think of this officer but with feelings of profound respect. His proximity to the Indians, and frequent intercourse with their chiefs, afforded him facilities for knowing the nature and extent of their grievances. With the heroism of a soldier, and the magnanimity of a true man, he steadily, and to the utmost of the means at his command, resisted the popular torrent, and nobly pledged his life in protection of the weak and the defenseless.
A detachment was sent from the fort to bury the dead. They reported having found twenty-eight bodies, fourteen being those of women and children. But as many dead were undoubtedly left in the thickets, and no account was taken of the wounded, many of whom would die, or of the bodies that were afterward seen floating in the river, the above must be far short of the number actually killed.
Of those that escaped, eighty were received into the fort, and had there been provision, and men enough for defense, more would have been admitted. For thus leaning favorably toward the poor fugitives from slaughter, the most bitter denunciations were poured upon the head of the Captain, and for many months his name was often coupled with the most ignominious and degrading epithets.
John Beeson, A Plea for the Indians, 1857, pages 46-48, 50-51. According to Beeson, Jones was killed the next day at Bloody Run (page 51).
There are near thirty or forty volunteers camped on Butte Creek, in search of the Indians that killed those men on the Siskiyou. They are under the impression that the Indians on the reservation are connected with that transaction, which I do not believe. I have seen no cause to alter my mind as to who committed that act. I believe it to have been done by that remnant of "Tipsu Tyee's" people, who are yet living in connection with some Shastas.
When this war excitement shall have subsided a little, which I trust will be the case shortly, I will furnish you statements of what is transpiring by my mail.
Letter of G. H. Ambrose to Joel Palmer, October 8, 1855; Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 13; Letters Received, 1855, No. 89
A correspondent writing from Lower Rogue River, under date of Oct. 8th, informs us that he had received news of the massacre of two white men near Wait's mill by the Indians. They also set fire to a house on Butte Creek, which was entirely consumed. Let these inhuman wretches beware of the speedy punishment which is sure to follow their fiendish depredations. The people of Southern Oregon have remained quiet under these outrages until forbearance has ceased to be a virtue, and they are now arming themselves for the purpose of giving the perpetrators the chastisement they so richly deserve.
Oregonian, Portland, October 20, 1855, page 2
A battle was fought at the Buttes by the Jacksonville volunteers, in which 41 Indians were killed, and two of our men killed and nine more wounded. This was on Monday.
A. G. Henry, letter of October 12, Oregon Statesman, Corvallis, October 20, 1855, page 2
Before leaving Willamette Valley old residents of the country remarked the smokiness of the atmosphere, telling us it was less smoky in 1853, when the Rogue River war was in progress. They said the mountain atmosphere was very clear when there were no fires in the mountains, and that these fires were kindled by the Indians as war signals, and they feared a general outbreak. But all seemed quiet as we passed on through the Umpqua and out by the cañon--which would be a terrible place to encounter a band of desperate red men, it being the worst pass for a wagon road I ever saw--and on through Rogue River Valley. Yet the people were apprehensive of danger as we neared Jacksonville, for the report of the attack on wagoners in California, near the Oregon line, had reached the valley, and the memory of 1853 revived.
At Jacksonville the excitement was intense. The report was believed that Gen. Wool had come up from California for the purpose of prosecuting the war; that he had recommended the organization of volunteer companies, and given the soldiers at Fort Lane permission to volunteer, which they had immediately done to the number of sixty, under command of Col. Alston. At Sterling, the same day, Sunday, Oct. 7, a volunteer company was made up under command of Smiley Harris, and I came to Jacksonville toward evening. They were to meet a company from Bear River, and another from Butte Creek, and before morning attack on Butte Creek some of John's Indians--about twelve in number--who, with others to the number of twenty-five, had been stopping several days in the same place, and could be easily surrounded and cut off. John's men had long been lawless, and it was hoped they would now be destroyed. We breakfasted on Monday at Fort Lane, after a ten miles' morning ride from Jacksonville, and then learned that General Wool was not there, nor was he expected; that the volunteer companies were not authorized by the officers at the fort, and the soldiers were all there--two companies, one hundred and fourteen each. Capt. Smith, our host, pointed to eight or ten Indian women and children, who had come to the fort for protection about daybreak. The men at the fort had heard firing a little while before, and soon learned that the volunteer companies had not found the company of John's tribe, as they expected, for John's men had heard of the intended attack and gone off upon the reservation. The volunteers then went to a rancheria, containing at the time two men, and women and children to make up a dozen, fired into it, killing one old woman and slightly wounding another. [The actual toll of the Lupton massacre was much higher.] The woman killed was Sam's mother, and the company were Sam's Indians. This Sam was chief of perhaps a hundred men, whom the Shasta Indians had long tried to induce to join them against the whites, but Sam had hitherto refused. Whether this outrage would induce him to turn, Capt. Smith did not know. He thought whatever lawlessness the Indians committed, the whites were the aggressors, as in this instance. He said if John's men had been cut off it would have been unjust, for they had been peaceably fishing and drying salmon for several days, and he did not think they had hostile intentions.
Sarah Pellet, letter of October 15, 1855, in New York Daily Tribune, November 14, 1855, page 6
Office Indian Agent,Sir--Whilst engaged in writing you a few lines yesterday morning, I received a message from Capt. Smith, informing me that the volunteers had made a descent upon a small band of Indians, camped about two miles from Fort Lane, in which several Indians were killed. I immediately repaired to the scene of action and found that Sambo's band of Indians had been attacked just at the break of day, simultaneous with an attack upon Jake's people, who were camped about one-half mile above Thompson's ferry (better known to you by the name of Camp Alden), on the bank of the river. Capt. Smith sent a detachment of dragoons to inform themselves of the nature of the difficulties, and to see what had been done; upon arriving at Sambo's camp were found two dead women; one had died a natural death, and one had recently been shot. I learned from Sambo that one woman was slightly wounded, and that two boys had been wounded, each shot in the arm. They were all taken to Fort Lane and provided for.
Rogue River Valley, O.T.
October 9th, 1855.
We then proceeded to Jake's camp, where we found twenty-three dead bodies, and a boy who escaped said he saw two women floating down the river, and it is quite probable several more were killed whose bodies were not found. I had apprehended danger, and had so informed the Indians several days previous, and Capt. Smith had notified the Indians that if they wanted protection they had to come onto the reserve or to Fort Lane. It seems from their statements that they had concluded to go on the reserve, and had accordingly started on Sunday evening, leaving the old men and women behind to follow on Monday. In the meantime this attack was made quite early in the morning, which resulted as above stated. There were found killed eight men, four of whom were very aged, and fifteen women and children, all belonging to Jake's band. The attack was so early in the morning, it is more than probable that the women were indistinguishable from the men.
Upon the part of the whites, James Lupton, the captain of the company, received a mortal wound, from the effects of which he has since died, and a young man by the name of Shepherd is supposed to be mortally wounded. Several others slightly.
The night following this affair, the Indians rallied together, killed some cattle on Butte Creek, and it is supposed have since joined old man John, who I suppose had been waiting some time for a pretext to commence hostilities, only desiring the assistance of some other Indians, which this unfortunate occurrence secured to him--that of the Butte Creek at any rate--and I apprehend many disaffected Indians will join. On Monday night a young man by the name of Wm. Gwin, in the employ of the Agency, who was engaged at work on the west end of the reserve in company with some Indians, near old John's house, was killed and his body was horribly mutilated, cut across the forehead and face with an ax, apparently as he lay asleep; they then destroyed or took off what provisions and tools that were at camp. They then repaired to Mr. Jewett's ferry, killed one man who was camped at the ferry, and wounded two others. Next I heard of them at Evans' ferry, where they fired at the inmates of the house as they passed, wounding one man, supposed to be mortally. They had with them, at the time they passed, several American horses and mules which they had doubtless stolen the night previous. Mr. Birdseye lost three or four, and Dr. Miller several, Mr. Schieffelin one; they were seen by Mr. Birdseye running some mules off that morning.
Old Chief Sam gathered his and Elijah's people together and protected the hands who were employed to work on that part of the reserve, as also the cattle and other property belonging to the Agency. Neither he nor his people want war, nor do I believe they can be made to fight except in self-defense.
The whole populace of the country have become enraged, and intense excitement prevails everywhere, and I apprehend it will be useless to try to restrain those Indians in any way, other than to kill them off. Nor do I believe it will be safe for Sam and his people to remain here, if any other disposition can be made of them; it should by all means be attended to immediately. I doubt very much if the military will be able to afford them the requisite protection.
Sam entertains the opinion that Jake's people will fight till they are all killed off; John will doubtless do the same.
I hardly believe that either Limpy or George desire a war, but have no doubt many of their people will engage with those that do, and possibly they may too. Neither of them or their people are upon the reservation, nor have not been for some weeks, and should either of them be caught sight of, they will most certainly be shot.
Taking all circumstances into consideration, I think it hardly possible to avert the most disastrous and terrible war that this country has ever been threatened with.
Oct. 10th. Whilst waiting an opportunity to send my former communication, additional news has come to hand. After the wounding of those men at Evans' ferry, the Indians pursued the main traveled road towards the Canyon, where I learned from a company of packers who have just arrived that they saw seven dead men lying in the road in different places between Mr. Evans' ferry and Mr. Wagoner's--several trains had been robbed--and several wagons had been plundered, and I suspect every person who passed the road has been killed. I expect to have to record still sadder news before the week closes. A greater destruction of life will probably never be caused by the same number of people, or more horrid atrocities be perpetrated, than by those Shasta Indians. They are well provided with arms, both guns and revolvers, and skillful in the use of them. I do not believe more desperate or reckless men ever lived upon the earth, and I have no doubt but that they have made up their minds to fight till they die.
Very respectfully yours, &c.,Gen. Palmer, Sup't. Ind. Affairs,
G. H. AMBROSE,
"Rogue River War," Pioneer and Democrat, Olympia, Washington, October 26, 1855, pages 2-3
The original letter can be found on NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 13; Letters Received, 1855, No. 93. A transcription can be found in NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1872, Reel 5; Letter Book D, pages 323-326.
On the morning of the 8th, about thirty Indians, principally old men, squaws and children, were killed while sleeping in their ranches. This preceded the outbreak of the Indians (about 30 hours) and was the immediate cause of it. Lupton was shot in the breast by an arrow in the attack on the ranches on the morning of the 8th. He died of the wound in about two days. He has lately been one of the principal Indian agitators.
Letter of October 11, Oregon Statesman, Corvallis, October 27, 1855, page 1
FIGHT WITH THE INDIANS.--A volunteer force of about 125 men proceeded on Sunday evening the 7th inst. to the mouth of Butte Creek, in the vicinity of Fort Lane. Early on Monday morning they approached the rancherias and were fired upon by the Indians. The fight then became general, and 40 of the Indians were killed. Maj. Lupton was killed and 12 of the volunteers wounded.
"News from the North," Oregonian, Portland, October 16, 1855, page 1
An Indian War in Rogue River Valley.We are indebted to Mr. Galbraith of the Crescent City Express, for the following particulars of the opening of an Indian war in Rogue River Valley.
FIGHT OF THE VOLUNTEERS WITH THE INDIANS.
30 Indians Killed.
MAJOR LUPTON MORTALLY WOUNDED, &c., &c.
(By the Crescent City Express.)
As to the leading causes of this outbreak, the massacre of the miners on the Upper Klamath in the latter part of July, the murder of several packers, teamsters and travelers on the different routes near the Oregon boundary line, and more recently the killing of two wagoners and their ox teams near Cottonwood by the Indians--all these must still be fresh in the recollection of our readers. The military at Fort Lane, O.T., seemed to be powerless in either restraining or punishing the marauders, and the goaded population were at last compelled to rise for their own protection. Mr. Galbraith left Jacksonville on Tuesday, the 9th inst., and the following are the main events which happened up to that time:
A volunteer force of one hundred or one hundred and twenty-five men had been formed, and after having completed their arrangements they proceeded on Sunday evening, the 7th inst., to the mouth of Butte Creek, in the vicinity of Fort Lane, in several parties, according to the number of rancherias [Indian villages], and commanded respectively by Major Lupton, 36 men; Capt. Williams, 14; Messrs. Bruce, Miller and Hays, 11 each; Mr. [Smiley] Harris, 18; and Mr. Newcomb, 17 men. Early on Monday morning the volunteers approached the rancherias, and the Indians first fired upon Harris' command. The fight then became general and ended in the total defeat of the Indians, 30 of whom, left dead on the ground, were afterwards buried by the military from Fort Lane.
Of the volunteers, 12 men were wounded: one of their number, Major Lupton, who had received an arrow in the left breast, died on Monday night; and another, named Sheppard, wounded in the abdomen, it is thought will not recover. Mr. Galbraith also states that on Tuesday it was reported at Jacksonville that the Indians burnt the house of Mr. Jones, while the owner himself was killed and his wife severely wounded.
Crescent City Herald, October 17, 1855, page 2 Galbraith's account had previously been printed in an extra of the Herald on October 12.
Jacksonville, Oct. 9th 1855."An Indian War in the Rogue River Valley," Crescent City Herald, October 17, 1855, page 2
Dear Friend:--On my way here I heard of nothing but Indian difficulties. I arrived on Saturday and found they were making up companies to attack the Indians by surprise. On Sunday a company from the valley went reconnoitering on Butte Creek and found out their position. The same evening a company of twenty-five men came over from Sterlingville and joined the former, with whom on Monday morning just at daylight they cut loose. There were three different lodges or rancherias to attack but within hearing of a gun shot. The first gun fired was the signal for a general attack, and short work they made of it, killing about thirty Indians, mostly men. Ten volunteers were wounded but only two of them dangerously. Maj. Lupton died last night about ten o'clock; he was was shot with an arrow in the left breast. Another one whose name I have forgotten (Sheppard?) was shot in the abdomen with an arrow and it is thought will not live through the day. A report has just come in that the Indians have killed two teamsters at Mr. Jewett's ferry, about sixteen miles down Rogue River. We have now a war on hand, but guns and ammunition are scarce. I have been creditably informed that Capt. Smith, of Fort Lane, has refused to let any of his guns go into the hands of the volunteers.
W. W. Fowler
Sir--Whilst engaged in writing you a few lines yesterday morning, I received a message from Capt. Smith, informing me that the volunteers had made a descent upon a small band of Indians, camped about two miles from Fort Lane, in which several Indians were killed. I immediately repaired to the scene of action and found that Sambo's band of Indians had been attacked just at the break of day, simultaneous with an attack upon Jake's people, who were camped about one-half mile above Thompson's ferry (better known to you by the name of Camp Alden), on the bank of the river. Capt. Smith sent a detachment of dragoons to inform themselves of the nature of the difficulties, and to see what had been done; upon arriving at Sambo's camp were found two dead women; one had died a natural death, and one had recently been shot. I learned from Sambo that one woman was slightly wounded, and that two boys had been wounded, each shot in the arm. They were all taken to Fort Lane and provided for.
We then proceeded to Jake's camp, where we found twenty-three dead bodies, and a boy who escaped said he saw two women floating down the river, and it is quite probable several more were killed whose bodies were not found. I had apprehended danger, and had so informed the Indians several days previous, and Capt. Smith had notified the Indians that if they wanted protection they had to come onto the reserve or to Fort Lane. It seems from their statements that they had concluded to go on the reserve, and had accordingly started on Sunday evening, leaving the old men and women behind to follow on Monday. In the meantime this attack was made quite early in the morning, which resulted as above stated. There were found killed eight men, four of whom were very aged, and fifteen women and children, all belonging to Jake's band. The attack was so early in the morning, it is more than probable that the women were indistinguishable from the men.
Upon the part of the whites, James Lupton, the captain of the company, received a mortal wound, from the effects of which he has since died, and a young man by the name of Shepherd is supposed to be mortally wounded. Several others slightly.
The night following this affair, the Indians rallied together, killed some cattle on Butte Creek, and it is supposed have since joined old man John, who I suppose had been waiting some time for a pretext to commence hostilities, only desiring the assistance of some other Indians, which this unfortunate occurrence secured to him--that of the Butte Creek at any rate--and I apprehend many disaffected Indians will join.
Letter of Indian agent George H. Ambrose to Superintendent of Indian Affairs Joel Palmer dated October 9, 1855, in "Rogue River War," Pioneer and Democrat, Olympia, Washington, October 26, 1855, page 2. Complete letter here.
Territory of OregonInformation having been received that armed parties have taken the field in Southern Oregon with the avowed purpose of waging a war of extermination against the Indians in that section of the Territory, and have slaughtered without respect to age or sex a band of friendly Indians upon their reservation, in despite of the authority of the Indian agent and the commanding officer of the United States troops stationed there, and contrary to the peace of the Territory, it is therefore ordered that the commanding officers of the battalions authorized by the proclamation of the Governor of the 15th day of October instant will enforce the disbanding of all armed parties not duly enrolled into the service of the Territory by virtue of said proclamation.
Portland, October 20th, 1855.
The force called into service for the suppression of Indian hostilities in the Rogue River and Umpqua valleys and chastisement of the hostile party of Shasta, Rogue River and other Indians now menacing the settlements in Southern Oregon, is deemed entirely adequate to achieve the object of the campaign, and the utmost confidence is reposed in the citizens of that part of the Territory that they will support and maintain the authority of the executive by cordially cooperating with the commanding officers of the territorial force, the commanding officer of the United States troops, and the special agents of the Indian Department in Oregon.
A partisan warfare against any bands of Indians within our borders, or on our frontiers, is pregnant only with mischief, and will be viewed with distrust and disapprobation by every citizen who values the peace and good order of the settlements. It will receive no countenance or support from the executive authority of the Territory.
By the Governor.E. M. Barnum,,
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 608 Oregon Superintendency 1853-1855, frame 1206.
Our correspondent, "Nottarts" [presumably Riley E. Stratton], mentions [in the Oregon Statesman, October 27, 1855, page 1] an attack upon a party of thirty-five Indians near Table Rock. We learn from Mr. Swick--who was also our correspondent's informant--the particulars of that attack to be as follows: The Indians were encamped there, and consisted of men, women and children. In the night, a party of eighteen men (two others being stationed on the opposite bank of the river to pick off any who might chance to escape and attempt to swim across it) crept up near the camp and selected a place where they could fire into the camp, and step back a few steps and be out of sight of the Indians, until they were ready to fire again, when they could step up and fire and again retire from sight. As soon as it was light enough to discern the Indians, the attack commenced--being an indiscriminate slaughter of men, women and children. The Indians were surprised, and able to make little resistance, and were soon all killed but one, who escaped. They had but two or three guns, and hit nobody with those. The only man killed, Major Lupton, representative-elect, was shot through the breast with an arrow by an Indian who was down and supposed to be lifeless or disabled. Another of the attacking party was badly, and it was feared mortally, wounded. None others were wounded. Mr. Swick informs us that this was done in revenge for the killing of Fields and Cunningham; that these Indians were not known to have had anything to do with any of the murders, or to be hostile, but that it was the purpose to make an indiscriminate slaughter of Indians. He says about 150 men were organized when he left for the purpose of making war upon and exterminating Indians; that there were plenty of men and horses in the valley for the purpose, and that they wanted nothing but arms.
We once heard Ben. McCullough, an old Texas Ranger and Indian fighter, and now marshal of Texas, upon the subject of "exterminating Indians." He declared that the thing was impossible in an Indian country, and never talked about by men who knew anything about Indians and had ever been engaged in wars with them. "You might as well," said he, "talk about killing all the wolves as all the Indians." He said they would secrete in the mountains and swamps, where white men couldn't find them.
There are experienced men here who look upon the project of exterminating the southern Indians as chimerical and impossible. They hold that portions of them will flee where they can't be pursued, and secrete where they can be neither found nor approached. If such is the case, we fear for the result of such occurrences as that near Table Rock, detailed above, if the version above shall prove to be strictly correct. If the Indians cannot be exterminated, those who survive such indiscriminate attacks will be doubly exasperated, and certain, when pursuit shall cease, to descend from their hiding places and devastate isolated settlements and massacre unprotected settlers--to carry on a sort of guerrilla warfare, making the country far more unsafe than ever before. We hope that this may not be the case in Rogue River Valley, but we fear that it will, and we are informed that such apprehensions are entertained by a great portion of the permanent settlers there.
Mr. Swick says he thinks there is no combination of tribes south, and no general outbreak among the Indians. The Chief Sam was on the Reserve, and disposed to peace. He says a party of Indians numbering about thirty were encamped near the volunteers' headquarters, and had sent in a request for peace, but that it was the intention of the volunteers when he left to attack and destroy them the next morning.
He came by the mountain trail, and says it was not considered safe to travel the wagon road. Therefore he knows nothing concerning the burning of Wagoner's and other dwellings.
It will be seen by our correspondence that Miss Pellet had left Wagoner's, and it was thought escaped, though it was not known what befell her subsequently.
LATER.--After the above was written, we received dispatches by Dr. Kane, a messenger sent in by the Indian agent to the superintendent. The intelligence will all be found in other columns. It will be seen that twelve men were wounded in the attack near Table Rock, at which Maj. Lupton was killed, instead of two, as first reported. Dr. Kane says the Indians killed there proved to be only a party of women and children and a few very old men. [Kane later revised his report; see December 1, 1855, below.] The warriors were all absent. A different account is given of those Indians than we had received when we wrote the first portion of this article. Although not directly implicated in or suspected of any murders, they seem to have been vicious Indians, and to have made previous trouble, and not to be wholly undeserving of the fate intended for the warriors of the band.
They prove not to have had a gun in the camp, and to have fought with nothing but bows and arrows. They fought well, considering that they were but squaws and a few superannuated old men.
The massacre and burning in Wagoner's settlement occurred the day after the killing of the Indians near Table Rock (when Lupton was killed), and Mr. Swick says it was expected that the Indian who escaped fled and told his story, and that the burning and slaughter of whites was in revenge for that.
Dr. Kane says the report of an engagement near Wagoner's, in which twenty-five Indians were killed, is incorrect, as also the reported attack upon the Grave Creek House. He says but about forty Indians altogether had been killed when he left. The report of 106 killed was an exaggeration, as we supposed; for it did not appear where they were killed.
Dr. Kane came through on the wagon road, accompanied by Judge Deady, who came in to hold his court in Douglas County. Upon his return from Jackson County, he shouldered his rifle and repaired to the scene of trouble. Dr. Drew is at the ferry again. The mail carrier has now gone through.
The report of the Table Rock engagement given by "A Miner" [transcribed below] was written on the ground, and is well founded. The letter of Dr. Henry (of Yamhill) was written some distance from there, and he was compelled to depend upon report for many of his facts. He evidently wrote under the influence of great mental excitement, and was too much excited for healthy judgment or counsel. He seems to be acting as commissary and quartermaster general.
Oregon Statesman, Corvallis, October 20, 1855, page 2
JACKSONVILLE, O.T., Oct. 11, 1855.Sir--We are again in the midst of the most terrible Indian war ever known to this country. I doubt not but you may search the annals of history in vain to find anything that exceeds, in savage barbarity, the deeds of these soulless miscreants, and I doubt much if there ever lived a more formidable savage foe to the white man than this band of Shasta Indians. No pains have been spared to endeavor to civilize them, but without avail. It is consummate folly to endeavor to anything with them but kill them off. On Monday morning last a company of volunteers attacked a band of Indians camped on the bank of the river, about one-half mile above Thompson's ferry on Rogue River, who had been annoying the settlers of Butte Creek all summer by their repeated petty thefts and depredations of various kinds. These Indians had been removed several times during the summer onto the reserve, but after staying a short time would uniformly return to their old camp ground, near the mouth of Butte Creek. The settlers' patience had become exhausted, and they were determined to teach them a lesson that they would not soon forget, and induce them to remain on the reserve. Accordingly they made preparation and marched down to Old Jake's camp at daybreak and commenced the attack. The troops from Fort Lane visited the ground immediately after the fight and found twenty-three dead bodies, eight grown men, four of whom were very aged, and fifteen women and children. An Indian boy, whose life was saved, says he saw two women more than were found, floating down the river. It appears from the statement of the Indian that all the principal men were absent, not apprehending danger, hence such a destruction of life of the women. The principal cause of that I infer to have been the fact that the women were not distinguishable from the men. The Hon. James A. Lupton received a mortal wound, from the effects of which he has since died. A young man by the name of ------ Shepard, also, was seriously wounded, probably fatally--several others slightly. The night following the difficulty, the Indians started down Rogue River, killing every person whom they met, stealing what stock they could find, taking some very fine American mares from Mr. Birdseye. Dr. Miller and Mr. Schieffelin, also, lost some fine horses and mules. At Mr. Jewett's ferry, as they passed, they killed one man and wounded two others. At Mr. Evans' they wounded two; one has since died. From there to Jump-Off Joe Creek every house was attacked and the inmates killed, though some escaped wounded. The most horrible act of all was the inhuman massacre of Mrs. Wagoner and infant daughter. Her husband was absent from home, and when he returned what an appalling sight met his eyes; some thirty or forty drunken Indians were dancing and reveling over some plunder they had taken from some wagons; his barn and grain and stock yard had been consumed by fire; his dwelling was yet standing, but before assistance could reach him it was also burned. Major Fitzgerald came upon the Indians there as they were leaving and saw ten on horseback, five of whom he killed under full jump for the mountains. A Mr. Jones was killed in his yard and his home burned; his lady and child made their escape. Mrs. Jones was seriously wounded. A Mr. Harris was killed at his home, his little girl wounded in the arm; his wife escaped. The troops reached there just in time to save her life. There were ten men found dead that day, and in all probability many more have been killed before this time; and before the close of the week I expect to hear still sadder news, for more desperate, reckless, daring, savage demons exist nowhere upon the face of the earth, and in all that constitutes savage maliciousness I doubt if they ever had an equal. Old Sam, chief of the Rogue Rivers, was solicited, coaxed and finally threatened with war against all his people if he did not join, but without avail. He took his men up into the mountains, where the hands were at work on the reserve, and protected them and the stock that belonged to the reserve. The young man employed to conduct the work on the west end of the reserve--the part that was set apart for the Shasta Indians--was murdered, his body horribly mutilated, cut across the forehead and face with an ax, from appearance while sleeping. The provisions and tools belonging to that part of the reserve were destroyed or taken off, and they left with a determination to fight as long as one was living and able to bear arms. As in the war of 1853, the Indians have all the guns in the country. Those Indians have each a good rifle and revolver, and are skillful in the use of them. They will, without doubt, unite with the Klamaths and all the disaffected Indians in the surrounding country; in fact, this little band of Shastas are the terror of all surrounding tribes, and many will join, believing them invincible; they never have been whipped, nor do they believe that white men can do it; hence the necessity of a war, although many valuable lives must be lost in consequence of it.
There will be, without a doubt, one hundred Indians, exclusive of the Klamaths, to contend with; and the Klamaths I know to be under the control of Old John, but I do not know how numerous they are. Sam and his people came into Fort Lane and claimed protection--were willing to give up their guns, and do anything, they say, to have peace.
Very respectfully,Oregon Statesman, Corvallis, October 20, 1855, page 4
At Home October 8th 1855Friend Berry
A battle was fought this morning with a portion of the Indians of this valley in which about twenty-five Indians were killed and a large number wounded, many of them mortally. On the part of the whites, ten or twelve were wounded;
B. F. Dowell Papers, Bancroft Library Mss. P-A 137 Unsigned draft letter, apparently by B. F. Dowell. On the back of the letter is written "My letter to J. Berry of Oct. 8th 1855."
Forest DaleEditor Oregonian:
Jackson County O.T.
October 12th 1855
I am under the painful necessity of informing you that our predictions relative to another Indian war have been more than realized.
For the present,
Since my last communication, this entire section of country has been the scene of the most heart-rending massacres that has ever befallen the lot of man to
At daybreak on Monday last (October 8th) the volunteer forces
The plan of operations was
On the following morning
Mr. Jones, living three miles south of Wagoner's, was killed and his wife mortally wounded--has since died. Along the road to Evans' Ferry, several men were found dead in the road, teams killed and goods destroyed. On returning
Mr. Haines and family, living in that vicinity, are also murdered and other families are yet to be heard from. It is more than probable, however, that all the families living in that vicinity
The policy pursued by parties to whom I have heretofore referred, relative to the official acts of those who have who have
[C. S. Drew]B. F. Dowell Papers, Bancroft Library Mss. P-A 137
A part of that same party of men who commenced the attack on Rogue River of the 8th ultimo followed up their plan of extermination by passing through the Cañon, and waging an indiscriminate war on every Indian whom they chanced to meet. In Lookingglass Prairie, distant thirty miles from the Cañon, they found a ranch of Indians who were friendly disposed and had claimed protection of the citizens, and had moved down among them. This band of Indians numbered some thirty or more persons, and were attacked by this volunteer force early in the morning of the 24th of October. Eight of their number were killed; the remainder made their escape into the mountains. I am informed all the Indians in that section of the country are run into the mountains, whether with hostile intentions or not I am not able to say. My informant, Mr. Barnes, was in that part of the country at the time of the occurrence, and he is a gentleman in whom I have every confidence. I have not been able to learn that these Indians were charged with any crime. In fact, the volunteers alleged nothing more than that it afforded a harbor for some vicious and ill-disposed Indians, and they were determined to break it up.
Letter of Indian agent George H. Ambrose to Superintendent of Indian Affairs Joel Palmer dated November 4, 1855. Complete letter here.
Jacksonville, Nov. 15, 1855.Mr. Bush--Sir: The statement made by me (and published in your paper of October 20th) I have since learned was incorrect, and have been informed by responsible men that a number of warriors were killed who were armed with rifles, bows and arrows.
Please publish this statement, in justice to the citizens of this valley, and oblige
A. J. KANEWe certify that the above statement is correct.
B. B. Griffin
We cheerfully give place to the above. Correspondents in the south differ somewhat as to the effect of the attack upon the Indians near Table Rock, referred to in the above letter of Mr. Kane. Some regard it as the cause of the outbreak on the succeeding morning, while others think that an attack by the Indians had before been contemplated, and that the attack upon them at Table Rock was the occasion of the hostilities following, and not the cause. This latter, we think, is the most general belief in the southern country. . . .
Oregon Statesman, Corvallis, December 1, 1855, page 2
Major Lupton killed
George Shepherd mortally wounded
Wounded in battle Sept. 30th [sic] on Butte Creek:
M. M. Williams
R. R. Gates
E. C. Pelton
J. S. Miller
[blank] Cotes [Jerome B. Coates?]
Memorandum book vol. 20, B. F. Dowell papers, University of Oregon Special Collections Ax 031
Nov. 3rd, Gen. Wool writes officially from Benicia, as follows:
"SIR: I have the honor to report that since my last letter the Indian troubles in this department have very much increased. In Rogue River Valley, the threats of the whites to commence a war of extermination against the friendly Indians on the reserve, and in the vicinity of Fort Lane, have been put into execution, despite the efforts of the officers at that post to prevent it. Capt. Smith reports that a party of whites who had organized themselves into a company, with the avowed purpose of assisting the regular troops in pursuing and chastising the Shasta Indians for recent murders, attacked, the 8th ultimo, two camps of friendly Indians in the immediate vicinity of the reserve, and killed twenty-five (four very old men, four young men, and seventeen squaws and children). Exasperated by these brutal outrages, some of the Indians on the reserve and in the valley, heretofore friendly, proceeded to murder the whites indiscriminately, burning their houses and destroying everything in their way.
"Capt. Smith immediately sent a detachment, under Maj. Fitzgerald, to the scene of the outrages, for the protection of the settlers, and to punish the murderers.
"The troops are now actively employed in trying to suppress the troubles, but with what prospect of success, while there is an Indian left for whites to destroy, may be easily conjectured."
Oregon Statesman, Salem, May 27, 1856, page 1
The whites, volunteers, led by J. W. Miller, attacked a large band of Indians on Butte Creek and killed 41--25 "bucks." Major Lupton was killed on the field, and nine of the whites were wounded, one of them mortally.
Albany Argus, Albany, New York, December 1, 1855, page 2
INDIAN TROUBLES IN OREGON.--A letter from a reliable source to the editor of the National Intelligencer alludes as follows to the commencement of the Indian difficulties in Oregon Territory:
"In October last twenty-five Indians, of whom eighteen were women and children, were met by Major Lupton and his party of volunteers, and all were barbarously murdered. These were friendly Indians going to the military reservation for protection. In December last two similar massacres by volunteers were committed on the north and south side of Rogue River, near Butte Creek, about fifteen miles from Fort Lane. Such conduct causes all the difficulties which General Wool has to contend with."
Daily Dispatch, Richmond, Virginia, April 3, 1856, page 1
With the additional force which recently arrived at Vancouver and at the Dalles, I think I shall be able to bring the war to a close in a few months, provided the extermination of the Indians, which I do not approve of, is not determined on, and private war prevented, and the volunteers withdrawn from the Walla Walla country.
Whilst I was in Oregon, it was reported to me that many citizens, with a due proportion of volunteers and two newspapers, advocated the extermination of the Indians. This principle has been acted on in several instances without discriminating between enemies and friends, which has been the cause, in Southern Oregon, of sacrificing many innocent and worthy citizens, as in the case of Maj. Lupton and his party (volunteers), who killed 25 Indians, eighteen of whom were women and children. These were friendly Indians on their way to their reservation, where they expected protection from the whites. This barbarous act is the cause of the present war in the Rogue River country, and as Capt. Judah, U.S.A., reports, is retaliatory of the conduct of Maj. Lupton.
Major General John E. Wool, letter of February 12, 1856 to Washington Governor Isaac I. Stevens, Oregonian, Portland, April 12, 1856, page 1
Whilst I was in Oregon, it was reported to me that many citizens, with a due proportion of volunteers and two newspapers, advocated the extermination of the Indians. This principle has been acted on in several instances without discriminating between enemies and friends, which has been the cause in Southern Oregon of sacrificing many innocent and worthy citizens, as in the case of Maj. Lupton and his party (volunteers), who killed 25 Indians, eighteen of whom were women and children. These were friendly Indians on their way to their reservation, where they expected protection from the whites. This barbarous act is the cause of the present war in the Rogue River country, and as Capt. Judah, U.S.A., reports, is retaliatory of the conduct of Maj. Lupton.
Major-General John E. Wool, letter to Washington Governor Isaac I. Stevens, February 12, 1856, in The Oregon Argus, Oregon City, April 12, 1856, page 1
Umpqua Correspondents of the Statesman.
Deer Creek, April 28, 1856.Dear Bush.--A word in defense of the dead, and a few lines of truth for the living. I have just read the correspondence of Gen. Wool and Gov. Stevens, and the letter of Gov. Curry on the subject of this war, and the result is that I regard the letter of Gen. Wool as a miserable confession of several humbugs, and the able reply of Gov. Stevens strikes me as being a withering rebuke, offered to the General for throwing aside letters from reputable persons, and fully authenticated reports of the cause and existence of this war, and upon which he should have acted in the onset, and receiving in their stead floating, false and embittered statements concerning the war, which had their birth in the disaffection of revengeful gossipers, and which for existence have depended upon the same spleen with which the General has fed them and warmed them into active life.
The letter of Gov. Stevens shows the Governor to be a general who is moving towards a determined foe, and who at every step vanquishes his enemy by bringing to bear on every point an array of incontrovertible evidence of his enemy's guilt. This force he carries with him--he does not move without it, and with its potency he will be able to destroy his civilized foe. In this official battle Governors Stevens and Curry have the field, and I will predict that there are friends at Washington who will see that they maintain it.
Gen. Wool has done service enough for his country to receive the approbation of her people--he has won for himself that regard and esteem which should excuse a thousand faults, and he has lived long enough to have chosen a sensible view of every action, but when he disregards the appeal of the suffering people of two Territories, and treats their supplications for aid as the whining of groveling curs at his feet, I say that he intentionally insults the heart that would have previously done him homage--he destroys the respect which his age and his past acts call for--and at once, by such conduct, degrades the apologist who would dare rise up to equivocate in his defense. But can we stop here.
I once knew a sheriff who refused in every case to serve an execution until after he had retried the case, in order to ascertain whether the court had arrived at a proper adjudication of the premises.
Gen. Wool, I supposed, came to Oregon with his men and muskets to fight, but like the sheriff he is found deferring action, until the cause of the war is disposed of--the motives of the dead are accused and stamped with infamy; the conduct of "Gov Curry's volunteers" is held up as sin against heaven, and would be such against men if the General was permitted to consider Indians men--and finally to charge the cause of the war south as resulting from the barbarous conduct of Major Lupton and party of Jackson County, who killed 18 women and children &c. Let us try at least and defend the motives of the unfortunate dead from this foul aspersion. Before the attack made by Maj. Lupton, in October last, two men were found murdered by Indians on the Siskiyou Mountains. A company of citizens pursued them, but did not get near enough to them for battle. Maj. Fitzgerald went out in search of them, and on one occasion came upon their camp ground immediately after the Indians had fled. The result of this search was sufficiently satisfactory to raise a suspicion of the whereabouts of these Indians, consequently a company of volunteers, under Maj. Lupton, very early on the morning of, I think, the 8th of October, surrounded the camp of what he supposed to be the murderers, and at daybreak made an attack. The result is well known; Major Lupton was killed. In July and August preceding, a war feeling was in the breast of those Indians--the whites were menaced by old John's band, and by a scouting party of thieving Klamath or Shasta Indians, who resorted to every means to engage the friendly Indians with them, and thereby make their object at once a public one--a general war. Limpy stated in August that war was inevitable--other Indians stated the same at different points of the valley. The attack of Major Lupton drove them (except what he killed) away from the friendly Indians to the mountains and to the full accomplishment of their design. Gen. Wool says that these Indians, when so barbarously murdered, were going to the reserve for protection. The truth is they were going nowhere at the time, but if Gen. Wool desires to have it as he has stated it, I will ask him if he knows the statement to be true? If yes, then I ask what business had these Indians away from the reserve at that time, and when they were being hunted by both regulars and volunteers as hostile Indians? If Gen. Wool knows anything about the truth of it, which I very much doubt, he can answer this question. I will say to him here that the whites do not protect hostile Indians on the reserve, notwithstanding Gen. Wool may think it just to do so. For a bit of information too he is informed that Fort Lane reserve and the Indian reserve are contiguous, and no body of Indians can leave the reserve without the command knowing it at once. These Indians were no doubt hostile Indians--thieves and murderers in heart, design and in deed. Therefore I affirm that the act of Major Lupton was not the cause of the war, but merely an incident of it. He, with other good citizens, honestly endeavored to punish the murderers of those men found on Siskiyou.
But Gen. Wool does not stop here. He says "that Capt. Judah reports that the present war in Rogue River country is retaliatory of Maj. Lupton's conduct." I have not seen Capt. Judah's report, but I am satisfied that Capt. Judah conveys no such impression. Capt. Judah is a gentleman of sense and discrimination, and would make no statement unless he conscientiously believed it true. The means of knowledge were at hand when Capt. Judah wrote his report. The hostile Indians were those Maj. Lupton pursued. The next day or day after the attack was made by Maj. Lupton, the Indians, less than 10 in number, began their massacres at Mr. Wagoner's house. [The outbreak began on the reservation with William Gwin's murder.] This act of those Indians at Mr. W.'s, when on their way to Cow Creek and the mountains west, may have been considered by Capt. Judah as having been retaliatory or occasioned by the attack of Major Lupton, but to say the war, in which there is nearly a thousand Indians engaged, is retaliatory of that attack implies an absurdity. Retaliation to an Indian is to get "even," nothing more. If those Indians who were killed had been friendly, the friendly Indians would have demanded retribution or war, but have they done this? No, sir. The friendly Indians have had nothing to do with this matter at all. It is well understood that old John and the Shastas will not have peace on any terms, and it is to those tribes that we charge the cause of all this trouble. The Indians who were friendly before the war are friendly now, except Limpy and George, and they desire peace; at least it is so said of them. We may say that one act is retaliatory of another; for instance, Maj. Lupton killed a portion of the murderers of the men who were killed on the Siskiyou Mountains, and the Indians, to avenge themselves, murdered Mrs. Wagoner &c., and to punish the Indians by way of retaliation Maj. Fitzgerald and company and some citizens killed several of the Indians at Mr. Wagoner's the next day &c., and further, the Indians for the murder of the Ward family repeated murders since at the north, and for the acts of murder and rapine of the Indians south, Gen. Wool has been expected to [come to] Oregon to retaliate a little upon them, but he has not done it. Retaliation implies the existence of a cause; for instance, Maj. Lupton's act was retaliatory of a murder. But I inquire if the burning of Illinois Valley and the destruction and robbery of pack trains and the numerous murders committed on the Crescent City road were retaliatory of Maj. Lupton's conduct? If the burning of houses in Ten Mile Prairie, and the burning, rapine and murder in Cow Creek Valley were retaliatory of Maj. Lupton's conduct? If the massacre at Whalesburg [sic] was retaliatory of Maj. Lupton's conduct? We will say nothing of the numerous murders committed before and since Mr. Wagoner's house was burnt. Many of the above places are hundreds of miles apart, and the Indians at them know as much about Gen. Wool as they do of Maj. Lupton, no more. Therefore I state that the war south is not retaliatory of the conduct of Maj. Lupton, but its cause and existence is attributable to the acts of hostile Indians which were committed prior to the death of Maj. Lupton, whose acts, sufferings and death, as also those of our citizens who have fallen by the hands of those savages, deserve other and better treatment than that of calumny from the officer who should have speedily avenged their deaths.
Gen. Wool says that Maj. Lupton killed a large number of women and children. This is a humbug. I am well informed that no squaw was intentionally shot, neither were any shot after they were discovered by the whites. And here let me add that nearly all of these poor unfortunate female devils that Maj. Lupton did not kill, with heads resembling pitch mops, and each of whom has dangling at the nose brass buttons, spur rowels, or clamshells, strut about the mountains like grizzlies, thirsting for the blood of the white. Deeds of the blackest atrocity are most acceptable to them--the brains of innocent babes they bleach in the sun with the delight and exultation of savage triumph. They can feast and fatten upon the putrid remains of a fallen foe and can exclaim, with Uncas, when he said that the flesh of his victim was the sweetest morsel he ever ate. Yet Gen. Wool affectionately calls these things women. There is one thing about them, unlike the General, that is they fight with great desperation for their kind without a murmur, and have rendered far more service to Indians in this war than the General has to the people of Oregon. Quite an example, this.
This charge of "barbarous" conduct comes with unpardonable grace from the General, who holds up to scorn the conduct of the volunteers and accuses "Gov. Curry's volunteers" of driving friendly Indians into the ranks of hostile bands, and gives them no credit for anything else--who disbanded volunteers raised for the relief of Gov. Stevens, upon whose head Peu-peu-mox-mox had sworn vengeance and death--who has shown mercy for that chief, and none for his own people--who refused aid to the volunteers of Oregon, and disregarded the appeals of her people--who holds the timely and righteous death of Peu-peu-mox-mox to have been a barbarous act--who overlooks the circumstances which called Maj. Lupton into the field, and can say no less of him than he fell when perpetrating a deed of barbarous atrocity--who has defended the savage, and traduced his own people, who, when in want and suffering were by him deprived of aid and protection.
He is a good general, indeed, who will defend his countrymen when in battle, if he knows they are wrong; how much better he must be who will assist, when he knows they are right. I can say, with truth, that the people of Southern Oregon are an order-abiding people--they have a knowledge of what is right, and do not violate in groups and mobs both the law of God and man--and to Gen. Wool I can say that they have feelings in their breasts equally as sensitive as those in his, however barbarous he may consider them. Let the honest motives of the dead be respected. But I desire the General no harm; my hope is evidently his determination, which is that the Indians shall not get his scalp, but that he may yet live to be useful, if not to his fellow men, he may be to children. How striking would be the picture, yet how becoming to see him at the head of a procession of little boys, with a complacent smile on his face and an umbrella in his hand, leading them with happy strides to a picnic in some beautiful grove. In this his conscience would be easy.
The General, with his prejudices, can do no good. It is not natural that he should go into battle and pursue the enemy with vigor and death, because he has arraigned the volunteers for barbarous conduct in so doing--with his sympathizing defense of the savage, he cannot destroy him. To conclude, I have erroneously supposed he had lived long enough to give the devil his due without attempting to play his part.
Yours, &c. [unsigned]Oregon Statesman, Salem, May 13, 1856, page 1
INDIAN WARS IN THE PACIFIC TERRITORIES.
The publication in the Intelligencer of the letters of Major General Wool and Governor Stevens, in reference to the Indian wars in Oregon and Washington and our military operations in those Territories, makes it proper that we should insert the annexed remarks on the subject made in the House of Representatives on the 7th instant.
Mr. LANE, of Oregon, said: I desire to occupy the floor for a few minutes. I do not want to discuss the deficiency bill. I only want to notice some remarks that have been made in the course of the debate upon it. It is the army part of the bill that I intend to notice, and particularly the remarks of the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Stanton). The gentleman made a statement which is obviously correct, and that is that either the commander of the American forces upon the Pacific or the governors of the Territories of Oregon and Washington had fallen into a great error. He introduced a letter of Gen. Wool to sustain the charges he himself had made, that the governors of these two Territories had fallen into a great error, and had made an unnecessary war upon the Indians, thereby greatly increasing the army expenses of that department and rendering the appropriations now asked for as a deficiency necessary.
Mr. Speaker, in what I have to say of General Wool I wish it to be understood that I would not pluck one laurel from his brow. He has done gallant service. I have seen him in trying positions, and it has been my fortune to serve under him. My gallant friend from Kentucky (Mr. H. Marshall) has also served under him, and I can bear testimony that upon great occasions he has borne himself most nobly. But, sir, he writes his letter from San Francisco, bearing date of the 2nd of April. It is published in the columns of the National Intelligencer, and fills nearly two columns and a half of that paper. And, sir, the whole of that letter is a tissue of abuse and invective against the people of Oregon Territory. He charges the Governor of that Territory with making an unnecessary war upon the friendly Indians for the sake of plundering the national treasury.
Now, sir, how humiliated should I be if I could believe one word of that letter, or if I believed this House could credit the charges there made by that gallant old man against the people of Oregon Territory as having made war upon the Indians for the sake of plunder! I should not now ask the attention of the House to any remarks of mine in reply to the gentleman from Ohio but for the fact that this letter of Gen. Wool will be published with that gentleman's speech, and going to the country in that connection might produce a prejudice in the minds of the people of the country against the Governor and the people of Oregon. Sir, the people of Oregon are an honest, industrious people, and to charge that they could be capable of making war against the Indians for the sake of plunder is a slander upon chivalrous, high-spirited and gallant men who have periled the lives and bared their bosoms to the weapons of a skulking and treacherous foe in protecting the defenseless women and children who have been forced to fly from their beautiful dwellings, which have, in many instances, been fired by the torch of the savage before they were out of sight of their once-peaceful homes.
Far be it from me to cast any imputation upon the army. We have many gallant spirits in the army, and deeply do I regret that an officer whose career has heretofore been so brilliant, honorable and useful, who has won imperishable laurels upon many a hard-fought field, who now stands before us "full of years and full of honors"--deeply do I regret that such a one, instead of adding new luster to his well-earned fame, should have committed errors in the conduct of the war in Oregon which, to say the least, will throw a cloud--I hope evanescent--around the departure from the theater of his renown of a hero who otherwise would have sunk peacefully to rest, like the setting sun in a serene and cloudless sky. I regret, sir--and I will say that impartial history will decide that it was unfortunate for the reputation of this honored veteran--that the conduct of this Indian war was assigned to him. Trained to arms according to the tactics of West Point, a tactician after the fashion of the military fogeys of Europe, he has become thoroughly imbued with the faults of the old system, so far as its utter inadaptation to Indian warfare is concerned. We are told "it is never too late to learn," and perhaps General Wool might learn, if his life should be spared some years, all the wiles and stratagems of the savage and the other peculiarities of Indian warfare, but to expect him to acquire such knowledge immediately, or to possess it by intuition, is unreasonable to the last degree. Posterity will decide, in charity to the old soldier, whose blunders and mismanagement in Oregon otherwise admit of no palliation or excuse, that it were better for him had he been left to repose upon his laurels already won. Like a good old ship which has braved the storms of ocean, and borne the flag of the country in triumph on every sea, and is then laid up in dock, after being pronounced by the naval inspectors "unseaworthy," he should not now be sent to meet the perils and endure the privations and hardships in conducting a warfare for which he has--and I hope it is no disparagement to say so--no qualifications whatever.
Now, sir, this letter bears date of the 2nd of April. On the night of the 25th of March--seven days previous--the Indians, by stratagem (showing generalship of a far higher order than has yet been evinced by General Wool in prosecuting the war), fell into the rear of the volunteers and of the regular troops in the field and possessed themselves of the only pass leading from the settlements into the Indian country, and which is the only pass by which our troops can be supplied or reinforced. On that day--the 25th of March--they boarded and took possession of the steamer Mary, which had on board a guard of fifteen men, all of whom, with the entire crew, fell under the tomahawk of the savage, and the steamer was burnt to the water's edge. [The Mary and her crew survived.] Only two steamboats have been placed on the Columbia above the Cascade falls; they have been used for the transportation of troops and supplies, and also for the use of settlers who have located east of the Cascade Mountains. One of them, with all on board, has been destroyed by the Indians. And they did not stop there; they took one of the most beautiful little towns that the eye of man ever rested upon--Cascade City--murdered the people, and burnt every house in the town. [Most of the residents took shelter in Bradford's store, and survived.] Yet, sir, on the 2nd of April, General Wool writes this letter--at a time when the news of these Indian outrages had reached him--and he does not say one word of the taking of the steamer Mary and the murder of her entire crew; he does not mention the burning of that beautiful town, Cascade City; he never mentions the sufferings of the people of Oregon, but he devotes the whole of his letter to denunciation of the people of that Territory.
The Indians of Oregon are too cunning and vigilant to let General Wool or anybody else attack them where they do not want to fight. Before I take my seat I shall ask, as General Wool's letter has been read, that the Clerk shall read Governor Stevens' answer to a letter of his written some time since. I shall now call the attention of the House to some extracts from a letter which I received a day or two since from a gentleman now in Philadelphia, but who has for several years past lived in Rogue River Valley. I know him well. He is not my political friend, and has never supported me for office. He is an honest man, and he can and does tell the truth. The letter bears date Philadelphia, April 28th. He says:
"I have just returned from Rogue River, Oregon Territory. I lived there during two years, and have felt as much interest in the welfare and good name of Southern Oregon as any man could feel for his adopted country. I yet hope to be proud of the name of one of its earliest settlers. I was there before the war commenced, when it commenced, and for four months afterwards, and I am familiar with the causes which led to it. And I cannot hide the anguish and feelings of disgust with which I have read the reports in the newspapers which have been sent on by Palmer and Governor Curry. Indeed I would not, I think, be doing justice to myself or my fellow citizens of Southern Oregon if I did not refute these slanders. It may be deemed the height of assumption for a citizen without the cloak of power to wield the pen against them, but when I reflect that I am an American, and that my fellow citizens are unjustly branded with infamy, I know that it is my right and my duty to deny that there is any truth in the charges against that people. Palmer says that 'the war was forced on these people against their will.' He cannot point out a single instance to sustain him in his assertion. The Indians wanted to fight long before the war commenced, but they could not agree among themselves as to the time."
This, Mr. Speaker, is the language of a citizen of Oregon. He feels deep mortification when he reads Governor Curry's proclamation for maintaining the friendly disposition of the Indians. He censures Governor Curry because he is too humane to the Indians, while Gen. Wool holds him up as a robber and a murderer, and who makes war for the purpose of depleting the treasury.
It is due to Governor Curry that I should here state, in vindication of his good name both from the aspersions of Gen. Wool and the censures of my correspondent, that when certain Indians were killed by Major Lupton's party the intelligence was brought to him that these Indians were friendly and inoffensive--information which proved afterwards to be incorrect. It was upon the false account given to him of the character and disposition of these Indians that he issued his proclamation exhorting the whites to maintain friendly relations with the Indians, and denouncing the severest punishment against any person who should commit outrages on such as were friendly and inoffensive. Those killed by Major Lupton Governor Curry afterwards ascertained to be murderers, and deserving the fate that befell them. This statement I have deemed necessary and proper to explain what might otherwise seem inconsistency in the conduct of Governor Curry. The agent, Dr. Ambrose, who is also censured, was misled in the same manner as Governor Curry, and is a worthy and humane man.
"Before the Indian was molested by the whites the Indians killed two white men on Applegate. A few days afterwards they killed two more on Slate Creek. The Indians who committed these murders were pointed out to the agent, Dr. Ambrose. He conducted them to the reserve, and there protected them against the friends of the victim, who could not help [but] feel indignant. The agent refused to arrest the murderers and give them a trial. While the whites were not allowed to go on the reserve the Indians were at liberty to go where they pleased. But a short time after those murders a party of Indians from Rogue River Valley went over to Klamath, killed seventeen white men, plundered their bodies, and then returned to the reserve, claiming the agent's protection. They were seen, tracked back, and known to be the murderers, and yet the sympathetic agent would not allow them to be molested. They next attacked two teams (loaded with flour for Yreka) on the Siskiyou Mountain. Two men and a boy and thirteen oxen were killed. Two men at about the same time were shot at near Wait's mill, in the upper part of the valley. A great deal of stock was also driven from various parts of the valley. All these outrages were committed without the least provocation on the part of the whites. Indians rushed into the dwellings of the whites and behaved in the most insolent and threatening manner to women and children. This and greater cause was given to the whites before an Indian was molested, and it was only after so many murders following thick and fast one on another, and positive proof that they were committed by the Rogue River Indians, that the whites felt themselves forced to the alternative to fight or leave the country. Yet Mr. Palmer says that the Indians were driven to desperation. If so, what were the whites driven to?--death or defense."
I know that the seventeen men referred to were murdered as stated. I was at home [in Douglas County] at the time. Among them was a young man by the name of Fickas, son of an old and much-esteemed friend, who was bred up near my old plantation in Indiana. This young man assisted in building the house in which I live in Oregon.
The letter is signed by Oliver J. Evans. It was only when all the outrages enumerated were committed that Major Lupton raised his company. He tracked the Indians and found in their possession property taken from those whose bodies had been found mutilated on the mountains. It was proof positive that they were the murderers. They had tried to get to the reserve, but did not succeed before the Major overtook and attacked them. [The murderers were not present.] He himself was killed and also some fifteen or twenty of the Indians, among them some squaws.
General Wool has charged that this battle was the origin and cause of all the subsequent hostilities. The squaws that Major Lupton killed were escorted by the warriors who killed the men and boy upon the mountains, from which place he tracked them to Butte Creek, where he attacked them. However, the agent was notified by these Indians that they had nothing to do with the murder--that they were going to the reserve. The Governor was notified, and he issued his proclamation as before stated. Evans certainly had not seen General Wool's letter or he would have turned the war in that direction.
Now, sir, I do not want to say more about Gen. Wool, and will only say that his letter is full of injustice to the people of Oregon. I would never raise my voice in behalf of these people if I believed them capable of such an enormity as that charged upon them by Gen. Wool--the enormity, startling and revolting to every right-minded man, of deliberately making war upon an innocent and unoffending people for the purpose of enriching themselves by robbery of the public treasury. I know that to avoid war they would submit, and have submitted, to many wrongs for the purpose of maintaining peace and saving the lives of their families. This war has brought devastation and destruction to every portion of the two Territories, and the last letter from my own home stated that everybody there is terror-stricken, that dismay has taken possession of everybody, and that the settlers are now building blockhouses for the purpose of protecting their families and friends, and that they are determined to fight to the last. And yet Gen. Wool charges, and his letter is read as authority upon this floor, that the people of Oregon are guilty of bringing on this war with the Indians, bringing to their dwellings the torch, and to the hearts and the heads of their wives and their children the tomahawk and scalping knife of the savage, whose soul, inflamed with passion and thirsting for revenge, revels with demoniac delight in scenes of carnage, and draws the greatest pleasure of which such depraved natures are capable from the agony of his tortured and writhing victim.
The Indians are literally breaking up the whole country, and I am not certain but that a large portion of the Territory will fall into their hands. I am in continual dread--though I think I am not easily frightened--lest by the very next arrival I shall hear something more terrible than anything which has yet reached us. They have burnt our steamboats; they have destroyed numerous farms and dwellings in Oregon, and a beautiful town in the southern part of Washington Territory, on the banks of the Columbia River, and have now access to the valleys, and I have great fear that they will dash into the valley of the Willamette and do much damage. In this state of the facts Gen. Wool's letter is introduced upon this floor for the purpose of criminating the people I represent and excusing his blunders.
Mr. STANTON. I quoted Gen. Wool for the purpose of showing that there was a disagreement amongst the authorities there, and that the President ought to remove one of them.
Mr. LANE. I say that the cause of this disagreement is so manifest that I have nothing to say upon the subject. Our people are, for their own defense, struggling and risking their lives, and a large portion of Gen. Wool's letter is devoted to denunciation of the volunteers who are operating east of the Cascade Mountains, in which he charges that they are operating in Washington Territory. The General is mistaken in his information. He has not examined the geography of the country. He has been grossly deceived. . . .
National Intelligencer, Washington, D.C., May 13, 1856, page 2
In process of time, the evils to which I have above alluded produced their legitimate results. Mutual outrages and retaliatory murders between the races became frequent, and as the Indians were well supplied with ammunition and arms (the price of crime), excitement and panic seized the public mind, and what seemed to me the climax of wrong was meditated and finally determined, instead of a civil or legal process for mutual redress, it was assumed that the Indians were the only sinners, and they alone should suffer. Kill the savages, exterminate the race, became the one idea, the ruling sentiment. Accordingly, the arrangements being made, the work was to be begun on Monday at early dawn of October 8th, 1855. During the previous week an earnest appeal had been made to the Grand Jury to present the state of affairs before the Court, which was then sitting, for investigation, but they decided it was not in their place. On Sabbath, the 7th, there being a Methodist quarterly meeting within two hours' ride of the intended scene of massacre, I attended, and improved a general invitation to speak by expressing myself somewhat as follows:
"My friends, is it enough that we should be content with mere feelings of present comfort and hopes of future heaven, "to read our" (own) "title clear," then "wipe our weeping eyes"? Are there not those in our vicinity children of the same Father, heirs of the same immortality, entitled to the same enjoyments as ourselves, but doomed by our community to deprivation and death? Have we no sympathy, no fears, no effort in behalf of these our brethren? Could we not in some manner invoke the civil power, and prevent this contemplated wrong? My friends, if we allow these proceedings retribution will follow. As yet, our homes have not been molested, or our wives and children destroyed, but commence this wholesale slaughter, and some of us will become homeless, and some of our families be made desolate."
But no one making response, the meeting concluded as though there was nothing unusually wrong.
John Beeson, "Address to the Citizens of Rogue River Valley," Oregon Argus, Oregon City, June 28, 1856, page 1
MASS MEETING AT ROSEBURG.Agreeably to a previous call, a very large assemblage of the citizens of Douglas County met in the courthouse on Monday, the 16th ult., for the purpose of taking into consideration the erroneous and false statements which have gone abroad officially and otherwise, in regard to the people of Oregon and the war now in our midst. Capt. Samuel Gordon, being called to the chair, introduced the subject of the meeting in a very neat, elegant and happy address. J. W. Galbraith was chosen Secretary.
The following persons were then appointed a committee to draft resolutions expressive of the sentiments of the meeting, via: L. D. Kent, Phillip Peters, Rob't. J. Ladd, Wm. J. Beggs and James M. Pyle.
Col. Chapman, then being called upon, delivered one of the most eloquent, sensible and impressive addresses which it has been our good fortune to listen to in many a day.
The resolutions were then read by Mr. Pyle, and unanimously adopted, after which speeches were delivered by Col. J. W. Martin, Hon. R. J. Ladd and James M. Pyle, Esq., all [of] which were received with much applause. The meeting was conducted throughout with propriety and decorum.
SAMUEL GORDON, Ch'n.J. W. Galbraith, Sec'y.
Whereas, Gen. Wool and Gen. Palmer, in their official reports to the Congress of the United States, have represented the existing Indian war in this Territory as being a war of cruelty and oppression upon the poor, defenseless and unsuspecting children of the forest, as being a catalogue of crimes and cruelties upon the part of the whites unheard of in the annals of Christian warfare, and provoked and brought upon us by the maltreatment of the Indians by many of whites, and particularly by the attack made by Major Lupton, on the 8th of October, upon a small body of friendly Indians, whose hands are represented as being free from the stain of blood; in which affray the brave and noble Lupton, who fell on that ever-memorable day, nobly fighting to avenge the wrongs of our murdered countrymen, who fell, fighting for the preservation of American soil, and for the honor and integrity of the American flag, and Maj. Bruce, and many more of our best citizens who participated in that affair, are represented as a band of unprincipled vagabonds, making war upon the innocent, and sacrificing, without discrimination, the aged father, just tottering upon the grave, the unsuspecting mother, and the little infant at her breast, therefore;
Resolved, That we, the citizens of Douglas County, living as we do in the vicinity of the seat of war, and, as a consequence, being fully acquainted with the origin of the war, and the causes that led to it, feel it to be our duty, as American citizens, to set forth to the world, and especially to our friends in the Atlantic States, the facts in the case, in vindication of the honor, the honesty and the patriotism of the people of Oregon Territory;
Resolved, That the war now existing in Oregon was not brought upon us by the maltreatment of the Indians by unprincipled white men, but on the contrary, that the whites have always observed strictly the terms of the treaty of 1853, made by Joel Palmer, and their only fault has been in treating these ungrateful wretches with too much kindness and Christian forbearance, thereby familiarizing them with our social condition, our exposed situation, and with the use of our weapons of warfare, that the Indians never did observe the terms of the treaty, but violated it first by murdering one of our citizens near Jacksonville within three days after the treaty was consummated, and continually, by leaving the reserve without permission, and many of them by never going on it, as the terms of the treaty required, by robbing many travelers who were passing through our country, by their destruction of our stock, by a continued system of petty theft, by their going into our houses and insulting our women in the absence of their husbands, and finally by murdering about forty of our citizens in cold blood;
Resolved, That the war did exist long before the attack made by Maj. Lupton, by the acts of the Indians, and the only thing that kept us from sooner resenting our wrongs was the fact that our fields, ripe for the harvest, were so much exposed to the ravages of fire, the burning of which we well knew was contemplated by the Indians, that we all thought it best to wait until our crops were secured in the barns, and in the meantime to keep that feeling of revenge, which by those outrages was engendered in every American's heart, imprisoned within our bosoms;
Resolved, That when the Governor called for volunteers to quell the disturbances and punish the savages for murdering men and defenseless women and children and devastating all the unsettled portions of Cow Creek and Rogue River valleys, destroying the grain and laying all the houses in ashes that but a few weeks before had adorned and beautified those peaceful valleys, it was by the repeated solicitation of our citizens, by petition and otherwise, who felt that their property and their lives were in danger, and we felt assured that the Governor and the people were actuated by no other motives than those of self-protection, self-preservation and pure patriotism;
Resolved, That although the reports and communications of General Wool represent us in a very unfair light, we do not impute it to any wrong motives in him, but would rather attribute it to the bad hands into which he fell on arriving in Oregon, and from whom he received his information, especially the official report of Joel Palmer to Gen. Wool, which, coming as it did from an officer of the United States, appointed by the President, was well calculated to deceive the old General, and which was false in conception, false in fact, and without the shadow of foundation in truth;
Resolved, That the charge that "The people of Oregon regard the treasury of the United States as a legitimate object of plunder," is a base and villainous calumny upon us, come from whom it may, and could have been instigated by no other motive than the reckless determination of a guilty culprit to shuffle upon another the guilt that lies within his own bosom;
Resolved, That we have full confidence in the wisdom and justice of Congress, and feel assured that all that is needed to assure us our just dues, foremost in which is an acknowledgment of the integrity of our motives and the justice of our cause, is to have the naked truth set forth in contradiction of the falsehoods and perversions of truth with which we have been maligned;
Resolved, That we approve of the course pursued by our delegate, Gen. Lane, and by our worthy Governor, Geo. L. Curry, to whom the thanks of our citizens are due--to the former for his able and eloquent defense of us in Congress, against the misrepresentations of Gen. Wool and Joel Palmer, and to the latter for his firm and manly conduct throughout the war;
Resolved, That the Secretary send a copy of the proceedings and resolutions of this meeting to the principal newspapers in the Territory, requesting their publication.
Oregon Statesman, Salem, July 1, 1856, page 2"J.R.L.," "The War in Oregon," Evening Star, Washington, D.C., February 5, 1857, page 1
Port Orford, June 17, 1856.Friend Bush--As there has been so much said against the southern volunteers, and the citizens generally of that portion of Oregon, in some sweeping remarks which I have seen going the round in the newspapers, I feel it a duty incumbent upon me as a citizen of Southern Oregon to say a word in behalf of those people, and to show, if possible, how far they have been instrumental in bringing about the war in Southern Oregon, who has been the aggressor, or whether they are entitled to the distinguished appellation of "lawless vagabonds."
I arrived at Big Bend, on Rogue River, June 8th, and found George, Limpy and some of the lower river chiefs, with all of their bands, encamped with the regulars, where they had gone for protection, being closely pursued by the volunteers under Maj. Latshaw. I requested all the chiefs to make a statement, separately, whey they went to war with the whites. After comparing their statements, which so far agreed as to verify each other, I was enabled to glean the following facts:
Early in the spring, '55, Old John sent a party of his warriors over to Indian Creek, to kill and rob the whites, and to purchase all the arms and ammunition they could get. They killed and robbed several of our citizens, and returned to the Illinois Valley and reported that the Klamath Indians had murdered some of our people on Indian Creek, declaring that they had not participated in the murder, and claimed the protection guaranteed them by the treaty, which was granted, and the agent, with a detachment of U.S. troops, went over to Illinois Valley to maintain peace, and to take the Indians to the Reserve. Now, this murder, fairly [sic] saddled upon the Klamath Indians, and the whites lulled into comparative safety under this impression, resumed their different vocations, never supposing for a moment that the murderers were around their firesides every day, and sharing their hospitality.
Old John, now finding the public quieted, and himself entirely free from suspicion, sent another party up Applegate Creek about the first of July, to murder and rob the whites of arms and ammunition, thus preparing for a general outbreak. This party killed and robbed two white men, and charged the same to the Klamath Indians, which the whites did not hesitate to believe. Now, to prove that the Klamath Indians did commit these murders, and to make his story plausible, Old John sent a party of warriors over to the Klamath and Humbug, there to murder and rob our citizens in the vicinity of a Klamath village, which they did, joined by a few of those Indians, killing and robbing a number of our citizens, and returning with their spoils, horses, clothing and money, went on the Reserve and claimed protection, saying that they had purchased them from the Klamath Indians. An armed force was then stationed on the Reserve to protect them and others from the enraged citizens, who came over in a body from Yreka and demanded a surrender of the murderers. There being at that time no positive proof that these Indians were engaged in that murder, they were not surrendered; however, there were two of John's party arrested on suspicion, by Capt. Smith, and held in custody and demanded by the proper authorities from California, when they were taken to Yreka and there given a fair and impartial trial. There being no evidence of their guilt, they were acquitted and told to return to their homes, when they were pursued by some persons who had witnessed the trial and killed on the road near Yreka. One of these Indians (John's son) aided in the massacre of those white men on Humbug; the other did not, but shared the spoils with them.
Now, here is a secret war carried on for months, in which twenty-odd of our best citizens have been massacred before a hand is raised to retaliate or redress our wrongs. Soon after the massacre on Humbug, Maj. Lupton, of Jackson, with a small party, discovered a trail leading from that direction towards Butte Creek, and supposing it to be the trail of the murderers, pursued and attacked a ranch near the mouth of Butte Creek, where there were a number of men, women and children killed.
Here our citizens are branded as barbarians for killing women and children, but those who are acquainted with Indian warfare know that when attacked, the men, women and children crowd together, and there is seldom, if ever, a battle fought in which there are not more or less women and children killed. I cannot, for a moment, think there is a white man in southern, or any other portion of Oregon, so base as to willfully shoot a woman or child. If we have any such men, I should not hesitate to say they were not only lawless, but heartless vagabonds, and destitute of all those noble traits which constitute the high-toned gentleman. I learned from a volunteer that the scalp of a white man was found in the ranch after the battle on Butte Creek, which shows that they were not so innocent as is represented. The day following the battle, Old John's party murdered those families on the road between Rogue River and Grave Creek, consequently Lupton's battle is the alleged cause of the war in Southern Oregon, but we find old John, several days previous, using his utmost endeavors, by offering large rewards, and finally by threats, to induce Sam's party to join them in hostilities against the whites, and there is no reasonable ground to suppose he would not have committed those murders if there had never been a gun fired upon Butte Creek, particularly as there was no relation existing between John's party and those on Butte Creek more than [that] they were all Indians.
Now, I would ask whether the acts of John's party for several months previous to their outbreak do not indicate hostilities in Southern Oregon, or whether there is a man in the Territory who would desire any further demonstration of their hostile intention than the cold-blooded murder of twenty-odd of our best citizens; if there is, I am frank to say he is not an American at heart, and destitute of those philanthropic feelings which should unite us as a band of brothers in this isolated portion of the world. More anon.
Your obdt. servant,Oregon Statesman, Salem, July 8, 1856, page 2
R. B. METCALFE.
Jacksonville, August 18, 1856Mrs. Margaret Holmes, and Mrs. Elizabeth McLaughlin
I lifted yours directed to J. A. Lupton dated May the 1, 1856, which I hasten to answer, but shall be brief, as you have no doubt before this time recd. the intelligence of the death of your brother who on the 9th day of last October was shot by the Indians, the particulars of which I have given heretofore.
If you have not recd. my letters written heretofore you will please to answer this which I will notice immediately after it comes to hand and give you the particulars.
Very respectfully yoursTo Mrs. Margaret Holmes
N. D. Smith
To Mrs. Elizabeth McLaughlin
Southern Oregon Historical Society MS 377
Thus things passed on until about the first of October, 1855, when the Indians murdered the men on the Siskiyou Mountain, whereupon Capt. Hays, with a company of volunteers, followed on the trail of the murderers to a point near their ranch, when they were attacked, the Indians opening the fire. [The whites attacked the village at dawn.] A battle ensued and Major Lupton fell. Our forces found that the Indians were fully prepared for them, and, also, that they fought desperately. [More than thirty Indians were killed; two whites died.] After routing the Indians they went into the ranch and found various articles which had been stolen from the whites and also the scalp of a white man, which had been taken off only a few days before. I should have stated, however, that before coming to the camp of the Indians they found where they had butchered several head of cattle which they had stolen and driven off from the whites.
This is the affair that was so disgracefully represented as being a cold-blooded butchery of peaceable and inoffensive Indians.
After these Indians went to Fort Lane (which they did immediately followed by the volunteers) and called on Capt. Smith, of the United States army, he refused to receive them as friendly Indians, and drove them away. [This is not known to have happened.]
This is the nature of the first demonstration on the part of the whites for redress, and we leave it with a candid people to say whether this was justifiable on our part, or whether we had the right to resist the foe when he was continually waging a war with our citizens, plundering their houses and driving off their stock. For evidence that this state of things did exist I will refer you to the letter of Dr. Ambrose, Indian agent, bearing date September 30, 1855.
"J.R.L.," "The War in Oregon," Evening Star, Washington, D.C., February 4, 1857, page 1
Gen. Wool and Gen. Palmer say that the Indians attacked by a party under Maj. Lupton were friendly and on their way to the reserve. Such is not the fact. They were on their way to the reserve, I have no doubt, but were they peaceable? They had been trailed from the murders on the Siskiyou Mountain, committed about a week previous, and the scalp of a white man was found in their ranchos. Look at the conflicting statements of Wool and Palmer, and also of Agent Ambrose, who was on the ground. Wool and Palmer were from three hundred to three thousand miles distant. Palmer says "thirty persons--men, women and children." Wool says "twenty-five in all, nineteen being women and children." Agent Ambrose says "thirty-two in all, eight of them men," and further says, "the attack was made so early in the morning that the women were indistinguishable from the men." It seems very singular that such discrepancy should occur in official documents.
This war had its origin in Southern Oregon, where the principal difficulties and duties of the regular troops were to protect the Indians from a set of unprincipled and irresponsible white men. For two years previous, reports and complaints were forwarded to the Headquarters, Department of Pacific, commanded by Gen'l. Wool, by the regular officers on duty in that region, setting forth the acts of these white men, many of them quite as brutal and savage as any ever perpetrated by Indians. A petty theft or personal quarrel was deemed a sufficient excuse for killing an Indian on the spot, or making a night attack on an unsuspecting camp. These things fixed the idea in the mind of Gen. Wool that all the difficulties in the two Territories had the same common origin, viz.: the whites themselves.
Finally the wholesale slaughter of women and children by Major Lupton's party drove the Indians of that section to desperation. This party was organized under the false report that the Indians were killing the stock on Butte Creek--a report founded on the fact that a farmer of that section had an ox that died, and he gave the meat to the Indians, and some passersby saw them cutting it up and bore the false report to Jacksonville. This was Jake's band of Indians, who were on a pass from the reservation to procure provisions, and the same day that this intelligence went into Jacksonville they were recalled by the Indian agent. The warriors returned immediately, leaving the women and children to follow the next day. But at daylight Lupton was upon them and killed twenty-seven of them; of this entire party but 3 were capable of bearing arms; the others were old men, women and children. This occurred on the morning of the 8th of October, 1855. The news was immediately borne to the reservation, after killing a young man who was making shingles for the Indians. They proceeded down the Rogue River, killing a man at Evans' ferry early on the morning of the 9th; two miles further on they killed Jones and his wife; a few miles farther several travelers, and finally united with George's band of about thirty, and the war in Southern Oregon was fairly commenced. The causes of these outbreaks in the north and south, though separate and distinct, were confounded both by Gen. Wool and the people of Oregon, each holding their own opinions. The people said it was a combination of all the tribes against the whites, and cited as proof the coincidence of their occurring nearly at the same time. Though, in reality, the first acts of the north were committed in August and September. Gen. Wool said it was the aggressions of the whites themselves. The one making the real cause in the north, the excuse for the outbreak in the south, and the other, the real cause of the outbreak in the south, the supposed cause for hostilities in the north.
"A Page in Military History by an Officer of the Army," Truth Teller, Steilacoom, Washington Territory, February 25, 1858, page 1
Now, it is certainly not to be denied that some of the Indians, especially in the upper part of the Rogue River Valley, may have objected to the treaty, and evinced some reluctance to comply; but they had two years' time allowed in which they were to make preparations and go, and it is believed that had the whites shown patience and forborne to interfere the superintendent would have had them all removed within the time specified, and Oregon would have been saved the shame reflected upon her by the commission of those most outrageous deeds that followed; such, for example, as that perpetrated by one Lupton and his party, "who killed 25 friendly Indians, 18 of whom were women and children;" and that perpetrated by one Hank Brown and party, at Looking Glass Prairie, "in killing from 8 to 10 friendly Indians, invited there by the settlers for protection and safety."
From such acts of cruelty can it be at all surprising that a retaliatory spirit was manifested on the part of the Indians? . . .
[Hank] Brown who was concerned in the massacre by Lupton, during which an Indian boy, twelve years of age, who could speak some English, ran to him and said "I have done you no harm, my heart is good towards you, you will not kill me." Brown replied "Damn your Indian heart," and seized him by the hair and with his bowie knife severed his head from his body. . .
"The topographical memoir and report of Captain T. J. Cram, relative to the Territories of Oregon and Washington, in the military department of the Pacific," Topographical Memoir of the Department of the Pacific, March 3, 1859, House Documents, session of 1858-59
All the victims of the bloody 9th of October, 1855, were of this class, and only the day before [they] were assured by Captain Smith that there was no danger. Then forbearance could no longer be endured; the citizens arose, and on the morning of the 8th of October, 1855, attacked a band of Rogue River Indians, the same band that had committed the murders on Klamath River, at the head of the valley, and after a hard-fought battle of eight hours, and the loss of two men killed and twelve wounded, succeeded in making a total rout of the Indians. This band was composed of the most desperate and murderous Indians in Southern Oregon, who despite the feeble efforts of the Agent could not be induced to go on the reservation, and were, at the time of the attack, outside the limits of the reservation. The volunteers who attacked them were for the most part the most respectable citizens of the country.
I mention this to show the official indignity and misrepresentation the people of Southern Oregon had to endure even at that early date, as will appear from what follows. The commander of the United States troops, at Fort Lane, seeing his mistake, undertook to shield himself by making it appear that all the trouble was caused by the volunteers, and at the time, not knowing that on the day there had been a general outbreak of the Indians from Northern California to the British Possessions, he made the following infamous report, which I give in his own language as near as memory serves me, to wit:
"On the 8th day of October a band of armed and lawless men went on the reservation and attacked a band of friendly Indians, consisting of a few squaws and decrepit old men, killing them without regard to age or sex." The italics are my own and intended to show at a glance the amount of willful falsehood in the report.
J. M. Sutton, "The Modoc Lambs," Portland Bulletin, February 15, 1873, page 4
Few have passed the stage station on Grave Creek, on the O.&C. stage road, who have not noticed a row of mounds in an open pasture on the west of the road, just north of the stage buildings. Beneath those mounds lay all that is left for earth of J. W. Miller, James Pearcy, Henry Pearl, John Winters and Jonathan A. Pedigo, a part of those who fell during the two fearful days of the battle of Hungry Hill, sixteen miles distant from that point.
Jonathan Pedigo was a young man who had but just passed his majority. During an acquaintance of six months in the mines, I did not learn anything of his former history in reference to his place of birth, parentage or relatives. My only intimacy with him was during our service in the war of 1855, from the 7th day of October to the time of his death, less than one month. Yet, during this short period, all his comrades had learned to love the name of Jonathan A. Pedigo for the great benevolent heart that beat within his bosom. Brave to a fault, ever ready to do his duty, and more. The old men of our company, of whom we had several, were relieved by his ever-ready hand from much of the rigor of Indian warfare. He would attend to their horses, and occasionally take their place on guard on a cold or rainy night. Being large and robust, his greatest pleasure seemed to be in relieving the hardships of those possessing in a smaller degree the power of endurance. . . .
Some two summers since, while passing the little cemetery referred to in the earlier part of this essay, I halted for the purpose of visiting the grave of my old comrade. I stood beside the little row of graves that I found blended in one, although the mounds are yet plainly visible, and will remain so yet a little longer; no board or stone at head or foot is found; not one can tell these graves apart. In unity they met a common foe; in unity they fell; in unity they lay beneath these sods, and ere long in unity they'll be forgotten.
In vain I sought to determine the grave in which reposed the mortality of my old friend; it was lost, lost among its comrades. After a short search among the weeds and grass that grew over these graves, I found a small fragment of half-decayed wood on which I could plainly trace the following inscription, which my own hands had carved full twenty years before,
JONATHAN A. PEDIGOPoor boy, poor boy, were the only thoughts iterated and reiterated through my mind for some moments, as I gazed on the sacred relic. A retrospective train of thoughts took possession of my mind, which occupied the entire term at my disposal by the side of the unknown grave of my friend. Vivid memories crowded past in panoramic regularity, and memories of the distant past, such as we love to contemplate in the solitude where we can indulge the silent tear. Ah, yes, and weep as in the days of our childhood to relieve the pangs of grief and make sorrow a pleasure for a season.
Killed by Indians at the Battle of Hungry Hill
Oct. 31st, 1855.
J. M. Sutton, "Jonathan A. Pedigo," Ashland Tidings, October 19, 1877, page 1
Capt. Lupton surrounded the Indians at the mouth of Little Butte Creek on the north side of Rogue River. Just at daybreak they opened fire on the Indians, killing nearly all the braves and many squaws and papooses. Some of the braves escaped by plunging into the river and swimming to the opposite shore. At the close of the battle Lupton remarked to his companions that an old tree which had fallen near and was half covered with vines was the very place an Indian would seek to hide in. He stepped forward, parted the vines with the muzzle of his rifle, and as he did so a concealed brave shot him with a poisoned arrow. He lived but a few days.
Rowena Nichols, "Notes on Indian Affairs in Oregon," 1879, Bancroft Library MS P-A 54, page 20
The 30th day of Aug. 1880 was the 27th anniversary of the arrival in Rogue River Valley of a very large train of emigrants. That train, composed of 43 wagons, 300 souls, 1,000 cattle and 200 horses, was in charge of Major Lupton (afterward killed by the Indians). The families of Giles Wells, John S. Herrin, Beesons, Robisons, and many others whose representatives are scattered, were in this train. Won't someone at the Pioneer Reunion next week give a full account of Major Lupton's train and the present whereabouts of the missing members of that train? We mention the circumstance that among the 200 head of horses in his train were some of the celebrated Rifleman horses of Kentucky, owned by John S. Wells. From these spring some of the finest stock of racers now on this coast.--[Sentinel.
Willamette Farmer, Salem, September 17, 1880, page 4
On the seventh of October, 1855, a party of men, principally miners and men-about-town, in Jacksonville, organized and armed themselves to the number of about forty (accounts disagree as to number) and, under the nominal leadership of Captain Hays and Major James A. Lupton, representative-elect to the territorial legislature, proceeded to attack a small band of Indians encamped on the north side of Rogue River near the mouth of Little Butte Creek a few miles above Table Rock. Lupton, it appears, was a man of no experience in bush fighting, but was rash and headstrong. His military title, says Colonel Ross, was unearned in war and was probably gratuitous. It is the prevailing opinion that he was led into the affair through a wish to court popularity, which is almost the only incentive that could have occurred to him. [Lupton's motivation was likely the fact that his land claim was one of the nearest the village; he likely bore much of its petty thievery and other annoyances.] Certainly it could not have been plunder, and the mere love of fighting which probably drew the greater part of the force together was perhaps absent in his case. The reason why the particular band at Butte Creek was selected as victims also appears a mystery, although the circumstances of their location being accessible, their numbers small, and their reputation as fighters very slight possibly were the ruling considerations. This band of Indians appear to have behaved themselves tolerably; they were pretty fair Indians, but beggars, and on occasion thieves. They had been concerned in no considerable outrages that are distinctly specified. The attacking party arrived at the river on the evening of the seventh, and selecting a hiding place, remained therein until daylight, the appointed time for the attack. The essential particulars of the fight which followed are, when separated from a tangle of contradictory minutiae, that Lupton and his party fired a volley into the crowded encampment, following up the sudden and totally unexpected attack by a close encounter with knives, revolvers and whatever weapon they were possessed of, and the Indians were driven away or killed without making much resistance. These facts are matters of evidence, as are also the killing of several squaws, one or more old decrepit men, and a number, probably small, of children. The unessential particulars very greatly. For instance, Captain Smith reported to government that eighty Indians were slaughtered. Other observers, perhaps less prejudiced, placed the number at thirty. Certain accounts, notably that contributed to the Statesman by A. J. Kane, denied that there were any "bucks" present at the fight, the whole number of Indians being women, old men and children. It is worthwhile to note that Mr. A. J. Kane promptly retracted this supposed injurious statement, and in a card to the Sentinel said he believed there were some bucks present. Certain "Indian fighters" also appended their names to the card.
The exact condition of things at the fight, or massacre, as some have characterized it, is difficult to determine. Accounts vary so widely that by some it has been termed a heroic attack, worthy of Leonidas or Alexander; others have called it an indiscriminate butchery of defenseless and peaceful natives, the earliest possessors of the soil. To temporize with such occurrences does not become those who week the truth only, and the world would be better could such deeds meet at once the proper penalty and be known by their proper name. Whether or not Indian men were present does not concern the degree of criminality attached to it. The attack was indiscriminately against all. The Indians were at peace with the whites and therefore unprepared. To fitly characterize the whole proceeding is to say that it was Indian-like.
The results of the matter were the death of Lupton, who was mortally wounded by an arrow which penetrated his lungs, the wounding of a young man, Shepherd by name, the killing of at least a score of Indians, mainly old men, and the revengeful outbreak on the part of the Indians, whose account forms the most important part of this history.
The first two paragraphs are from A. G. Walling, History of Southern Oregon, 1884, page 243. They were copied, and the last paragraph added, by David C. Fagan in History of Benton County, 1885, pages 243-244
The Rogue River War in the years above given began in this wise: The Indians were supposed to be located on a reservation, near which was established a small military post called Fort Lane. A party of professional scouts, styling themselves volunteers, and numbering about thirty men, made frequent visits to the neighborhood of the reserve, ostensibly for the purpose of watching marauders from the same, but judging from the characters that composed the company, several of them deserters from the army, I should judge they were bent on plunder themselves. At all events, one fine morning in June, as we troopers who composed the garrison were enjoying our bivouac under the pines--where bunks were improvised, owing to the insect-infested condition of the cabins--we were suddenly awakened by the discharge of firearms nearby. Several volleys and numerous single shots were heard. This alarm turned out on investigation to be an attack by the volunteers on "Old Jake's Camp." The Indians of this were the least formidable of the tribe, and were, at the time of the attack, quietly slumbering in peace, if not in innocence. Thus a massacre of twenty old men, women, and children took place."Indian Troubles in Oregon, 1854-5" [sic], The Overland Monthly, April 1885, pages 420-422. The index credits the article to "J.G.T.", the text to "I.G.T." Attributed to Joel Graham Trimble.
The soldiers, by orders, buried the victims, and were almost immediately called upon to take the field against the vengeful remainder. The party of volunteer scouts who had committed this first attack had failed to warn the settlers in the vicinity after it, and the excited Indians, taking the main route to the Willamette Valley, avenged themselves by an indiscriminate slaughter in that direction. As soon as the uprising became known, the troops followed rapidly and engaged the Indians in several slight skirmishes, one of which resulted in the killing of several men and one warlike squaw.
The following relation of events which transpired in the upper part of Bear Creek Valley is dictated by Captain Thomas Smith, now of Ashland, who wishes to disprove the account set forth in the History of Southern Oregon, and to present a more acceptable theory of the cause of the Indian war of 1855 than is advanced in that work. . . .
We will now pass on to the 25th of the same month, when the Indians ambushed some teamsters on the Siskiyou route, some thirteen miles from Ashland, on this side of the mountain, and killed a man named Fields and a boy, Cunningham. H. B. Oatman, now of Portland, and Dan Brittain of Phoenix ran a narrow escape. The Indians shot the oxen dead, leaving them all chained together. A messenger was instantly sent to Fort Lane bearing the news, who returned with information that forty soldiers would be sent up next day, and I prepared to join them with thirty-odd men. On arriving at the Mountain House we met Major Fitzgerald, a well-known and dashing dragoon, with whom I entered into conversation. I offered the services of our volunteer corps, but the major objected, saying that we should proceed, taking charge, and his men should act a secondary part. He gave us directions to proceed, and said, "We are at your command."
We proceeded onto the mountains, intersected the trail of the enemy, and trailed them to Keene Creek. Before seeing any Indians we struck the fresh trail of a running horse and concluded that it must have been that of a scout, who had probably warned the enemy of our whereabouts. We came soon to an Indian camp, where the embers were still smoking. Fitzgerald examined the situation of things and sent out a reconnoitering party, who soon reported that the Indians were gone. We found their departing trail, followed it to Jenny Creek and across the emigrant road [the Southern Route of the Oregon Trail--the "Applegate Trail"] and a considerable distance up in the mountains toward Butte Creek. A steep and rough mountain prevented our advance on horseback, and Fitzgerald's men being dragoons could go no further. The regulars, therefore, guarded our horses while we trailed the enemy to where they left Jenny Creek and turned off in the direction of Fort Lane reservation, their trail disappearing from our view in the craggy rocks. We scouted to see if the trail went on, and found that it did. We followed it as far as we could during the day, and found it to keep the general direction toward Butte Creek or the reservation. We returned to Fitzgerald and reported as above. He professed himself as certain that the malcontents were Indians of the reservation, and thought it best for his force to go to the fort and intercept them as they returned. But about that time the major was ordered to Vancouver, and he was lost to this section henceforth.
Lupton raised volunteers and sent to intercept them west and found Indians camped on Butte Creek. Lieutenant Sweitzer came out at the same time with his 40 men and pretended that it was all right, that those Indians might and ought to be chastised.
Lupton wanted to attack the night they got there while they were on Butte; Sweitzer persuaded them not to, but wait for him next day to assist. That night the Indians drew off and crossed Rogue River to [the] reservation, and Sweitzer didn't come. Lupton then ordered his men to lay by all day and cross at night, and made attack on the Indians at daylight, so he was killed. Sheppard died some days after. Fitzgerald started for Vancouver, and the Indians who were not killed slaughtered 25 people. Fitzgerald overtook and killed some at House Creek. He was a man. Lupton is a perfect gentleman, mild, unassuming, etc.
These Indians had returned toward the reservation, as I believe, following the ordinary plan of running away, committing murders and outrages and returning to military protection before the settlers could punish them. Some men in and around Jacksonville, including some of the best citizens of the place, collected together and resolved to attack those redskins, who had gone down to the mouth of Butte Creek so as to be handy to the reservation. Lieutenant Sweitzer, of Fort Lane, had a conversation with Major Lupton, who was one of the party, and was asked to join in an attack on the natives, but refused to do so at once, but acknowledged that they ought to be chastised. During this time the Indians crossed the Rogue River and camped on the bank, in the reservation. [The village site was actually outside the reservation boundaries; later apologists would use this fact as one justification for the attack.] Lupton and his party crossed in the evening of October 7, and getting in the brush around the camp, waited for the morning to break, when the attack was made. In it Major Lupton was killed and another man, Sheppard, wounded, and a number of Indians killed. It is not true that no buck Indians were there, as the regular army officers declared. The fight was a hard one, and lasted quite a while. Those Indians who were not killed broke out the next morning--October 9, 1855--and massacred twenty-five people. Fitzgerald, with his dragoons, who were on the road to Vancouver, overtook and killed some of the red devils, and the war of 1855-6 followed. Lupton was a good man, mild and gentlemanly, and did not, as has been said, join the expedition to Butte Creek for any improper motive.
"Origin of an Indian War," Oregonian, Portland, May 28, 1885, page 2
THE LUPTON-HAYES FIASCO.The next blunder, and the greatest of all, was the night attack, on Oct. 7, 1855, on the Indians who lived on Rogue River. Many more innocent lives were lost in that fiasco, and in the events that came in consequence of it, than by all that had preceded it. This expedition was organized by one Col. Hayes, and by Maj. Lupton, whose military titles were probably picked up on the road to Oregon. Hayes was an unreliable blowhard who wound up his career in Oregon by a sudden disappearance. Without any reason or excuse for such a slaughter they attacked this band we have spoken of at the mouth of Butte Creek. They raised a company of forty or more reckless men, took their time to approach and surround the place, and at daybreak commenced a grand slaughter. They killed many old men and some women, as the warriors seem to have been absent. The number of Indians killed is estimated at twenty to eighty. Two whites were killed and seven wounded. Lupton was one of the killed, so his account was properly closed. After perpetrating this cowardly butchery these brave men separated and quietly returned to their several homes, letting no news of the slaughter they had perpetrated get to the world; leaving the wives and children of peaceful settlers, who took no part in the massacre, to reap the harvest of vengeance that was certain to follow it. They could not help but know that the settlers of the valley would feel the vengeance of the Indians descend upon them.
S. A. Clarke, "Pioneer Days," Oregonian, Portland, March 28, 1886, page 2
Mr. [James Firman] Anderson was well known to all of the early settlers of this valley, having settled on Wagner Creek in 1851 or '52 with his brother, E. K. Anderson, who still resides on the same place. He was at one time owner of an interest in the Ashland flouring mills, and afterwards lived for a time on the Barron place at the head of the valley. He was lieutenant in one of the companies engaged in the Rogue River war, being in the battle in which Maj. Lupton was killed.
Ashland Tidings, January 7, 1887
Says the Roseburg Review: Jasper Hall has presented Mrs. Judge Mosher of this city with the arrowhead with which the Indian killed Major Lupton in the Rogue River War of 1855. Mrs. Mosher has a very interesting cabinet of relics and curiosities.
"State and Territory," Oregon Statesman, Salem, July 14, 1887, page 1
An affray across the Californian border, resulting in the killing of eleven miners and several Indians, whose comrades were pursued into Oregon, fiercely inflamed local public sentiment, and as the officers of the regular army stationed there were too much inclined to a temporizing policy, based upon the insoluble query "Who began it?" the citizens developed a growing disposition to make requitals when and upon whom they could, without asking too curiously whether the particular red men who happened to get where they were going to shoot were actual murderers or only potential ones.
Thus it happened that on October 7th, 1855, forty armed men met together under the leadership of a representative-elect of the Territorial Legislature, Major James A. Lupton, and a Captain Hays.
Julian Hawthorne, The Story of Oregon, vol. II, 1892, page 152
Col. J. N. T. Miller, on being interviewed, said in regard to the early Indian wars and the battles around Table Rock: "I first saw the Rogue River Valley in June 1849, while on my way to the gold fields of California. While our party was passing Rock Point we were attacked by Indians in ambush, but no one was injured. Passed through the valley again in August 1850 on my way to Sauvies Island; we were not molested by the Rogue River Indians, but had trouble with the Pitt River and Cow Creek Indians; was in the fight which occurred at Big [Bar] under Table Rock in the year 1852, and acted as interpreter for Agent Skinner before the battle began. After the skirmish, in which several Indians were killed, I went with Lamerick's company and took part in the fight at Evans' place on Rogue River and at Chief Joe's place on Evans Creek. Returned with Capt. Lamerick's party, and was present when the Indians surrendered at the base of Table Rock. I was in the fight which occurred at the mouth of Little Butte Creek, and the one at Hailey's ferry during the fall of 1855. Major Lupton was fatally wounded at the latter place. [Other sources place Hailey's ferry on the Rogue River at the Bybee place, site of today's TouVelle State Park. Lupton was killed at the former place.]
"Table Rock Legend," Ashland Tidings, April 22, 1892, page 1
LIVELY TIMES IN '55.
During the summer and fall of 1855 the Indians of Rogue River country committed many depredations on the whites of the valley and vicinity by waylaying and killing the white settlers and killing their cattle. They said the cattle ate their grass and they were going to eat the cattle. They got so bad that we petitioned the government for help, but got none.
The Indians were preparing for war all the time. We laid our case before Indian Agent Ambrose, who promised to settle with the Indians and stop all the trouble, but the Indians got worse all the time.
After the war broke out, he said he knew all summer that they were bound to break out and "all h--l couldn't prevent it." The citizens held a meeting at Phoenix in October and resolved to organize a company of volunteers. Many speeches were made by leading citizens, to the effect that something should be done before the Indians destroyed everything, for it was not safe for the settlers anywhere. We organized a company of 47 men at Phoenix with Asa Fordyce as capt. and set out for the mouth of Little Butte Creek at three o'clock the next morning. The women baked bread for us. We had all kinds of guns--muzzle-loaders, of course. When we reached Butte the citizens were greatly alarmed, for the redskins had been very bold in their depredations in that vicinity. The Indians were camped on the north side of Rogue River, above Table Rock. They said they were ready for us. The Indians on the reservation said those depredations were not committed by them, but by some "bad Indians." The citizens wanted us to wait until they could get their families forted up for safety and they would help us. So we camped two days, in the meantime sending reconnoitering parties out to see what the Indians were doing. At this time a company of government soldiers came down Rogue River and volunteered to go with us, but said the Indians were too many for us.
They marched to Ft. Lane, sent a message to the Indians advising them to go on the reservation, that the volunteers were coming and would kill the last one of them. The Indians didn't go, but defiantly informed the messenger that they were ready for us. At this the people became more excited, and still more so as they saw that the Indians were getting ready for war. Several citizens came from Jacksonville to join us, increasing our number to about sixty. We then reorganized with Hays, of Phoenix, capt., and Williams first lieutenant. We advanced on the Indians in the night. At daylight the battle commenced. The Indians fought bravely with bows and arrows and guns. The volunteers determined to kill as many of the Indians as possible. We had thirteen wounded.
Major Lupton, shot in the breast with an arrow, died the same evening. Geo. Shepherd, shot in the hips, died the next day. M. Williams was also shot in the shoulder. My memory fails to recall the names of the others that were wounded.
Thirty-nine Indians were killed, though Capt. Smith of Ft. Lane placed the number at eighty.
A VolunteerTalent News, December 15, 1892, page 1
AN OREGON PIONEER OF 1845 AND PROMINENT INDIAN WAR VETERAN.
JACKSONVILLE, Sept. 28.--Colonel J. N. T. Miller, who died at his home near here September 18, 1900, was born in Hardin County, Kentucky, October 10, 1826. In 1845, with his parents, he crossed the plains to Oregon with a train of about 80 wagons, arriving by Meek's Cutoff in the fall, and settled on Sauvie's Island. In 1849 he piloted a company from the Willamette through Umpqua and Rogue River valleys to California. The party had trouble with the Indians at Rock Point, and again at Pit River, but all got through safely. He arrived in Jackson County in 1854 [sic], and took up a donation claim, on a part of which the town of Jacksonville is located. [His resume below places him in the valley in 1852 and 1853.]
Colonel Miller, though not a volunteer, was prominent in the Indian wars of '52-3 and '55-6. He was in all the serious engagements, and was present when Major Lupton was killed, and later, when Captain Lamerick was wounded. He was at the battle of Little Butte and Table Rocks, and was one of the relief party who rescued Captain Smith and his command near the Big Bend, on Rogue River, when the company was surrounded by John and Limpy's band, and John was swinging the rope with which he intended to hang Captain Smith. He acted as interpreter for Indian Agent Skinner, at the Big Bar conference. He was elected a member of the Lower House of the Legislature from Jackson County in 1862, and a member of the Senate in 1866. He started the Democratic Times, of Jacksonville, in 1871, but later disposed of the paper. He was the first president of the Southern Oregon District Agricultural Society, and president of the Southern Oregon Pioneer Society.
Deceased was married in 1853 to Miss Elizabeth Ann Awbry. Eight children were born to them, three of whom, with his wife, survive him--Colonel R. A. Miller, of Oregon City; Mrs. Anna Beach, of San Francisco, and W. L. Miller, of this city.
Oregonian, Portland, September 30, 1900, page 5
George Ross, brother of the late Col. John E. Ross, a Jackson County pioneer of '52, died at the home of his daughter in Washington on the 26th of February. . . . Mr. Ross participated in the Indian wars of '52 and '53, also of '55 and '56, and was in all the important battles. He was in the battle of the Table Rocks, Big Meadows, mouth of Butte Creek, at Battle Creek on Evans Creek, Hungry Hill, the siege of the cabins on Applegate and was one of the party that rescued Capt. Smith at the Big Bend on Rogue River, when old John was swinging the rope with which he intended to hang Capt. Smith. He was also one of the party that rescued Mrs. Harris and her daughter after the massacre of twenty persons between Grave and Louse creeks.
"Death of a Southern Oregon Pioneer," Medford Mail, March 14, 1902, page 2 It seems unlikely that Ross could have been present at every single major battle of the Rogue Indian wars. If the "battle of the Table Rocks" refers to Kearny's 1851 expedition, that took place before Ross' arrival. Henry Klippel doesn't list him as one of the party that rescued Mrs. Harris in 1856.
On the last day of August, in , the largest emigrant train that had come to Rogue River Valley at that time finished the long journey across the plains and halted their wagons at Fort Wagner, the present site of the town of Talent.
In that train were families since then prominent in the affairs of the county and the state. Major Lupton, who was afterward killed in a battle with the Indians near Table Rock, was the leader of the train, and among those with him were John Beeson, Giles Wells, John Robinson, Asa Fordyce, John Harris, H. B. Oatman, and many others whose descendants have perhaps heard the incidents of the journey told and retold by the fireside. . . .
"Reminiscences of 1853," Medford Mail, July 3, 1903, page 2
About [1854, Isaac Constant] came to know Major [Lupton], of Indian war fame, and when that enthusiastic fighter sought to enlist his aid in fighting peaceful Indians, he stoutly maintained an attitude of friendliness towards the despoiled red men, all of whom had responded to his overtures of peace, and treated him with all fairness and consideration. He even went so far as express the hope that if the fighting major persisted in his determination to annoy the Indians, he would meet with his just deserts. The prophecy was fulfilled as history narrates, and the Indians lost an implacable foe in the death of the obstinate warrior.
"William Constant Leever," Portrait and Biographical Record of Western Oregon, Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904, pages 764-765
NEHALEM PIONEER DEAD
James William Walker Resident of Oregon Ever Since 1845.
ASTORIA, Or., Sept. 15.--(Special.)--James William Walker, of Jewell, an Oregon pioneer of 1845, a veteran of the Rogue River Indian War of 1855-6 and one of the first residents of the Nehalem Valley, died at the hospital here today, after intermittent illness of several years. Mr. Walker was born in Howard County, Missouri, and was 74 years old. He came across the plains to Oregon with his parents in 1845, and the family settled in Jackson County, where Mr. Walker received his education. He married Mary Elizabeth Harrell in Forest Grove in 1866 and three years later moved to the farm in the Nehalem Valley where he had lived ever since.
In company with R. M. Wooden, another pioneer resident of the Nehalem Valley, Mr. Walker participated in the Rogue River Indian War in 1855-6 under command of Major Lupton and was in the battle in which Major Lupton was killed.
Mr. Walker left a widow and three daughters, Mrs. Timothy Corcoran and Mrs. James Jamieson, of Jewell, and Mrs. Edward Jamieson, of this city. The body will be taken to Jewell on Saturday, and the funeral will be held from the family residence on Sunday afternoon.
Oregonian, Portland, September 16, 1910, page 7
. . . Major James Lupton, whose farm was called "Mound Ranch" on account of an isolated hill standing thereon. . . .
Venita Daley, "Medford Bore Nickname 'Chaparral City' in Early Day, Valley History Reveals," Medford Mail Tribune, November 2, 1948, page 3
Memorandum of J. A. Lupton's Life
Arrived in Oregon in Nov. 1849. Met Maj. Belger of the U.S.A. Qr. Master Dept., accompanied him across the plains. Was engaged by him as wagonmaster, worked in Oregon City. Served in the U.S.A. at Ft. Kearny, I. Ty. in Mar. 1847 & 1848, also at F. Shiles, Neb. Ty. In July 1847 served at Ft. Leavenworth in the Mo. Mounted Volunteers, Capt. Sublette. Served in the Legislature of Oregon (no date to his letter). [Lupton was killed before he could assume office.] Was in Milwaukie, Or. Feb. 3rd, 1850. Had a claim on the Columbia River. He had a lot of ground in the city of Milwaukie. Was engaged in the carpenter business in Oregon City in Sept. 1850. Sleeper and Nelson [were] friends of his. Owned or rented a farm in Jackson Co., which he worked July 1854-Feb. 30, 1855. Organized a company to hunt for gold on the Klamath River, was chosen captain. Started from Rickreall Creek, Oregon Ty. Was engaged in the government service at Ft. Vancouver on the Columbia River as assistant in building the barracks, was afterwards appt. by the Chief Qr. Master as his agent to superintend the transportation of supplies to Dalles on the Columbia River in the spring of 1851. Had influential friends at Ft. Vancouver.
Southern Oregon Historical Society MS 377. Unattributed manuscript, written on letterhead of Thomas R. Burch, agent of the Western and Southern Department of the Phenix Insurance Company of Brooklyn, 160 La Salle St., Chicago. Burch was their agent from 1876 until his death in 1892.
In the meantime the Indians in the Rogue River Valley, under Chiefs Joe and Sam, had been committing depredations, robbing and killing white men. About October 3 the citizens of Jacksonville commenced to talk of the matter of retaliation. About October 8 they raised a company of volunteers and started for the Indian headquarters at Table Rock, near Fort Lane, which was established by General Joe Lane during the Indian war of 1853. This volunteer company was under command of Major Lupton.
They attacked the Indians Sunday morning, October 9. [The attack was on Monday, October 8, 1855.] Quite a number of the whites were wounded, and Major Lupton was shot through with an arrow that proved fatal. Hon. John Hailey, one of our most honored pioneers of this city, helped extract the arrow.
James H. Twogood, "Alexander Rossi Builds Early Sawmill in Boise," Idaho Statesman, clipping circa April 1937, James H. Twogood papers, Newberry Library
Last revised May 1, 2019