Rogue River Indian Wars
Below are two of the earliest known attempts at a history of the Rogue River Indian Wars. The first, never published, consists of the incomplete, uncompleted, minimally edited notes of J. M. Sutton, written in 1863.
The second was begun by Sutton (he died before it was concluded) and published serially 1878-79 in the Ashland Tidings under the title "Scraps of Southern Oregon and Northern California History." While both accounts are far from complete--major battles are omitted entirely--they are important additions to Indian war scholarship.
Written less than twenty-five years after the events, the accounts provide valuable insight into day-to-day life as well as the tales of battle. Sadly, the narratives also ooze hatred for the Indians and contempt for those who saw both sides of the conflict--such as the officers of the U.S. Army. They are not a balanced account, but there's sufficient detail that they make it possible to reconstruct the Indians' point of view for those willing to read between the lines. See this page for accounts more sympathetic to the Indians.
Fort Vancouver W.T.Sir
July 16th 1863.
Your note of the 29th May was duly received.
From enquiries made the following are all the particulars I can glean here concerning the expedition to Rogue River Valley to which you refer.
Early in June 1851 Brevet Major Philip Kearny of the 1st Dragoons marched for Benicia Cal. in command of two companies of that regiment. The only officers with the command of whom I hear anything were Brevet Captain James Stuart and Capt. John G. Walker, both of the Rifle Regiment, but temporarily doing duty with 1 Dragoons.
The fight occurred on the 17th June a few miles above Table Rock on the east side of Rogue River. Lindsay Applegate of your valley pointed out the spot to me in August '53.
Jesse Applegate of Yoncalla was the guide to the expedition from the Umpqua.
Capt. Stuart was wounded on the 17th June & died on the 18th June.
I understand that his remains were forwarded to this fort & sent to the East to his friends, but did not learn the dates.
Jesse Applegate can no doubt give you more particulars of the fight & campaign than any person in this country.
Mjr. Philip Kearny was the same officer afterwards Major General of U.S. volunteers in the present war & killed on the 1st September 1862 near Chantilly.
His line of travel from the Umpqua was on the route east of the Umpqua Cañon. I went nearly over the same trail in August & September 1853 to explore the best route for the military road which I located "from the north of Myrtle Creek to Camp Stuart."
The name is spelled Stuart & not Stewart as your letter gives it. Capt. S. was a native of S. Car.
I am, very respectfully,J. M. Sutton Esq.
Your obt svt
When we look over Rogue River Valley now and see the advanced state of civilization it presents, we can scarcely realize that in the brief space of twelve years all this has been accomplished. Nearly every foot of our arable soil had been brought to cultivation. The school-house, the giver of civilization, has taken the place of the hut of the savage. Towns, churches, farmhouses and extensive grain fields surrounded by their many miles of fencing have completed the picture on the canvas that twelve years ago stood untouched on the easel of civilization. I shall commence my sketch in the year 1851. Although much of interest transpired prior to that time during the great exit from Oregon to California on the discovery of gold in that region, it comes down to us in an unsatisfactory and traditionary [sic] manner. Here a place is pointed out where a whole company of men were massacred by the savages; there where one one man heroically put to flight a dozen warriors and many other adventures and hair-breadth [escapes], which some unknown persons have made among the wily Rogue Rivers. All of which would be better adapted to the pen of the novelist than one who wished to deal in plain authenticated facts.
During the spring of 1851 packers and miners while passing through the Rogue River country had frequent encounters with the Indians, in some cases terminating in the murder of some of their number. In one instance two packers, loaded [illegible] of flour, who had camped somewhere in the vicinity of the present site of Phoenix, was visited by an Indian whom they supposed to be a spy. They therefore determined to detain him overnight as a hostage of safety, each of the men taking his turn on guard. Before morning, however, the guard fell asleep, and the Indian took his advantage and with their own weapons succeeded in murdering one of the men.
The other man escaped and succeeded in reaching Yreka. Having obtained assistance, he returned and found that the Indians had emptied all the sacks on the ground, they not as yet having learned the use of the flour. They found the most of his mules in the vicinity. History is made fast &c
Early in 1855 it became evident to citizens of Southern Oregon, and Northern California, that an Indian war was inevitable. The Indians became more defiant, and murders were becoming of more frequent occurrence. Everyone felt deep forebodings of the terrible conflict which hung like a muttering cloud over their heads. Fully conscious that the bolt must strike ere long, they awaited patiently the result.
Meanwhile, the military authorities seemed to ignore all evidences of the approaching crisis. Murders were becoming of almost daily occurrence; yet, the only step taken by the military was to occasionally send a small detachment of troops to escort the murderers safely back to the reservation, where behind the guns of the forts they could bid defiance to an outraged public.
On the 28th of July ten men were massacred on Buckeye Bar on the Klamath River in California, about fourteen miles from Ft. Jones. A party of citizens organized themselves into a company and pursued the murderers over the mountains to the Table Rock Reservation. On learning of this a company also organized at Sterlingville, eight miles south of Jacksonville, and proceeded to the latter place. But on arriving there they learned that Capt. Smith, in command at Ft. Lane, had refused to give up the murderers, and had threatened to turn his guns on the volunteers should they attempt to arrest the fugitives. All that was left for the volunteers was for
The people now became satisfied that there was no longer time to delay, and if anything could be done to meet the savage blow which was about falling upon them it must be done independent of the military authorities at Fort Lane. For weeks the ominous Indian signal fires had been blazing from every mountaintop visible; from those surrounding Jacksonville to the summits of the Cascade and Siskiyou mountains. If there had been no other reason on which to base the prediction of a general Indian outbreak, these signal fires alone would have been sufficient.
Accordingly on the 4th of Oct. a move was made to organize two companies of volunteers, one at Sterlingville, the other at Butte Creek. Although these companies began to organize on the same day, there had been no previous concert in the matter. Arrangements were soon made, however, by which the two companies could act together if necessary. It was agreed that as soon as an organization could be completed the first movement should be against the band near the mouth of [illegible--Reese?] of some fifty or sixty warriors who were encamped off the reservation at a point on Rogue River between Upper and Lower Table Rock. To this camp had been traced the perpetrators of almost every murder and robbery committed for months past. When traced this far the band of outlaws would flee to the reservation, only a few hundred yards distance, where they could bid defiance from behind the protecting guns of Ft. Lane, and when the excitement consequent upon these depredations had subsided they would return to their camps.
The organization of the two companies having been completed by the election of T. J. Harris captain of the company at Sterlingville and ____ Hay at Butte Creek, it was determined to chastise the Indians while they were off the reservation in their camps on Rogue River. The time set for the attack was early on the morning of the 8th day of Nov. [sic].
The two companies rendezvoused at the residence of Major Lupton on the east side of Bear Creek during the night of the 7th and moved as near to the Indian camps as was possible without discovery. The Indians were encamped at different places along both banks of the river, so it was necessary to divide the men into four detachments. Sixteen men were sent to the upper camps a few hundred yards above Thompson's ferry (now known as Harlys [sic--Bybee's?]). On the north side of the river 12 men were sent against a camp a short distance above the mouth of Bear Creek, and 20 men were sent to a camp still lower down where was supposed to be the main body of Indians.
The detachment of 12 men were discovered by the Indians before they got in position before the camp, being a little too late.
unsuspectingly awaited their sacrifice.
"Old George" and "Limpy," who had taken position in the lower country by this time, had their plan well matured to commence the work of extermination, and while they took command of the main body of Indians which were stationed at different points on the road so as to cut off all travelers, the bloody work of massacring the families was left to the direction of such of the warriors as had been in the employ of, or had been suffered to loiter about the premises of their intended victims until they had learned where and how to strike the surest and most fatal blow. The lower settlements on Rogue River were simultaneously attacked by these Indians on the morning of the 9th.
Those who were foremost in the attack of each house were they that had the confidence of the inmates, and had often received favors at their hands. In the attack on Jones' house [illegible--large corner of page torn off] killed at the outset and Mr. Jones [illegible] though not disabled for the time. [illegible] husband dead and the Indians [illegible] places, she fled toward a clump of [illegible] was nearby, whither she was immediately followed [illegible] who had been in the employ of [illegible] whom she had placed the greatest [illegible]. Seeing none but this [illegible] thinking that perhaps he [illegible] she awaited his approach [illegible]. After replying in the [illegible] he drew his [illegible] took effect only in [illegible]. He supposing the [illegible] turned to his companions [illegible] after and was conveyed [illegible] died on the following day. [illegible] The attack on Wagoner's [illegible] same time as that on Jones [illegible]. At Wagoner's no one was at [illegible] and her little girl, a young Indian [illegible] in their employ having left on the [illegible] and Mr. Wagoner from some cause being absent. The Indians surrounding the [illegible] on fire and compelled the inmates to perish in the flames. Mr. Wagoner returned in time to see his house in flames and surrounded by the savages.
William Hamilton and another gentleman passed the [Wagoner] house who had the morning before fled from below the mouth of Jump-off Joe, being warned by a friendly Indian who had told them that on that day the Indians [were] going to commence a war of extermination. After passing the house a few hundred yards they were met [by] three or four warriors on the way to the attack. Hamilton, at once discerning their intentions and being acquainted with their leader, slipped to the side of the road and brought his gun to position for immediate action, saluted them in a friendly manner. These Indians, knowing well the steady aim of his rifle and his reputation for deeds of daring, returned his friendly greeting, halted a moment and passed on, Hamilton remaining in his position until they had gone some fifty yards. At this time he discovered a heavy smoke arising from Wagoner's house and heard the yells of the savages who had fired it, which was distant only some two hundred and fifty yards. On looking [he] saw the house surrounded by Indians dancing and hooting in the most frantic manner. He and his companion hustled on and overtook two drovers who were a few hundred yards ahead of them, to whom they communicated the danger at hand. They immediately unharnessed four mules [to] which they had attached their wagon, mounted them and made their escape along the public road, passing the burning ruins of houses and the dead bodies of the slain.
At Haines' there was no one left to tell the tale; the fire and tomahawk completed its work. At Harrises, however, they were not so successful. Being suspected before they could get possession of the house, their plans were positively frustrated and consequently [the Indians] succeeded in killing only three of the five they intended. Mr. Harris received a fatal wound at the first fire, but falling partly in the door his wife and daughter, the latter severely wounded, succeeded in drawing him inside and barring the door so effectively as to keep the Indians without. While in a dying state Mr. Harris instructed his wife how to load and use his rifle and requested her with his last breath to defend herself to the last, and nobly and heroically was this request complied with during the balance of the day and the following night. In the morning, their besiegers having retired, Mrs. Harris thought it prudent to leave the house and secrete themselves in the brush, where they removed until relieved by Bob Williams' company of volunteers from Jacksonville. Mr. Reed and a son of Mr. Harris were in the field close by when the attack was made, and both fell a prey to the [illegible].
The other victims of this massacre were mostly travelers (Oct. 9th Hudson and Wilson killed [illegible]). On the morning of Oct. 9th, the same day of the massacre of the lower settlement, a company was raised and organized in Jacksonville, under Capt. Bob Williams. Hearing of the affair of the lower settlement they set out on the morning of the 10th for that place, where they found and buried the bodies of Mrs. Wagoner and her daughter, Mr. Jones, Mr. and Mrs. Haines and two children, Mr. Harris and son and Mr. Reed, Wm. Gwin, Jas. W. Cartwright, ____ Powell, ____ Burch, ____ Fox, ____ Hamilton and White.
Notwithstanding the threatening aspect of the times and the actual hostilities of the Indians, the military authorities at Ft. Lane as yet took no move to protect even the settlement in the immediate vicinity of that post. On the contrary, they acted as the special friend and ally of the Indians, while the blood of white women and children was yet dripping from their tomahawks. It was about this time that they promulgated that famous report which to those acquainted with the facts in the case will ever mark its author as a man devoid of honor or one entirely incompetent to support with credit the lowest badge of a U.S. officer. It was in reference to the affair with the Butte Creeks on the morning of the 8th of Oct. and read as follows:
"A party of armed and lawless men have slaughtered without regard to age or sex a band of friendly Indians on their reservation in despite of the authority of the Indian Agent and the U.S. troops stationed there."
Such an infamous statement as this, coming from a U.S. officer, was heralded all over the country, and as the [illegible--paper torn away] doubled the duration of the war in Oregon.
Notwithstanding the frequent [illegible] of the Indian Agent for the T.R. Res. to the people of [illegible] that no [illegible] could be apprehended from the Indians, sometime in September [illegible] to some of his friends in Illinois Valley that as general war with the Indians was inevitable and that they had better lose no time in preparing for it. Acting upon the intimation and in view of the hostile attitude the Indians generally had assumed, a messenger was sent from that valley to Crescent City, Cal. for arms, some 8 days before the battle of the Butte Creeks. Some 20 rifles belonging to the state of Cal. was by this means procured, just as hostilities became general and arms of this kind so much needed.
By the timely precaution of the citizens of Illinois Valley and vicinity their settlement, although more exposed than many other parts of the country, were saved, though their loss in stock was considerable.
That it was known by the authorities at Fort Lane that a war of extermination was determined on by the Indians of Southern Oregon and Northern Cal., there can be no doubt in view of the facts already stated--the declaration of the agent to friends in Illinois Valley and the utter insubordination of the Indians and the daily increasing lists of their murders and robberies.
History will ever hold these authorities responsible for the blood of the victims of the lower settlements on the day previous to the massacre (Oct. 9th). Mrs. Wagoner, one of the unfortunate victims of that affair, left Jacksonville for her home, against the earnest protestations of her friends at that place, who held up to her the critical conditions of affairs, the insubordination of the Indians and the unprotected condition of her neighborhood. She replied that the Indian Agent had informed her that there was no danger, and that she had all confidence in an Indian boy whom she had in the service of the family who she was certain would [warn] her of any approaching danger. On her way home she called at Fort Lane to inquire whether in fact any cause existed for the premises [sic] of her friends. On being assured by the commanding officer that such apprehensions were utterly groundless she returned home. At this very time a severe battle was being fought within two miles of that post.
On the following day, but too late, she learned that she had been doubly deceived. First--by the authorities of the post and secondly by the Indian in the employ of the family and who had the entire confidence of the family and by whose hand she and her little girl that day perished.
During the time intervening between the 8th and 19th of Oct. the Sterlingville and Butte Creek companies were guarding the settlements in the north and northwestern portion of the valley. Moving daily themselves with the Indians in the vicinity of the Table Rocks, Capt. Bob Williams and his co. were operating down Rogue River, and "home guards" were organized in every part of the country. News having reached Jacksonville of the murders on the 9th of Hudson and Wilson, packers on the road between Crescent City and Indian Creek, and of the general hostile moves of the Indians, Col. Ross on the 19th of Oct., by virtue of his commission and pursuant to a resolution of a meeting of the citizens of Jackson County convened at Jacksonville on that day, assumed command in his district and commenced the organization of a regiment of mounted volunteers for the defense of the settlements of Southern Oregon against the hordes of hostile Indians by which they were menaced on every side.
On the 14th he had 9 companies consisting of 500 men rank & file mustered into service under his command and on duty in the most exposed portion of his district including the settlements of Rogue River and Illinois Valley and those of Applegate, Deer Creek, Butte Creek, Galice Creek, Grave Creek, Sterlingville and Cow Creek in the adjoining county of Douglas. Two of these companies, however, had been on duty since the battle of the 8th and several others since [the] massacre of the lower settlements.
This regiment between the 19th of Oct. and the 25th of Oct. was increased to 15 companies consisting rank and file of 750 men.
The almost instantaneous appearance of so large a force in the field disconcerted the plans of the Indians, and a large portion of them, under command of "John," their principal leader, fled to the mountains to await a more favorable opportunity to carry out their cherished designs. From their mountain fastness they made frequent raids on the outskirts of the settlements, destroying considerable amount of stock. The regular forces, now seeing they could no longer deny the necessity of action, took the field and acted in conjunction with the volunteers. Capt. Judah of the 4th U.S. Infantry, who arrived in Rogue River Valley from Fort Jones soon after general hostilities commenced, took an active part and cordially operated with the volunteers. His men were mounted on pack mules. (Brevet) Major Fitzgerald and his Co. 1st Dragoons U.S.A., who was at Fort Jones before general hostilities had commenced and expressed his opinion that a general war with the Indians was unavoidable and expressed a desire to take some step to be prepared for it. Had it not have been for the orders of Capt. Smith he would cordially have joined the citizen companies who attacked the Butte Creeks on the morning of the 8th of Oct. Indeed, the volunteers expected his assistance in the attack on the 10th of Oct.; however, this excellent officer received orders to report with his company at Vancouver immediately about the 10 of Nov. [sic], thus depriving Southern Oregon of an officer who would have been of the greatest service to them. The situation of the Indians being now unknown, Capt. Judah with his company of regulars and a detachment of 1st Dragoons under Lieutenant Sweitzer and Capt. Harris' and Bruce's companies of volunteers, numbering about 250 men, accompanied by two Indian guides, started to scour the mountains between the heads of Applegate and Deer Creek. After a campaign of 5 days finding no traces of the Indians they returned to the settlements. Many other expeditions in search of the Indians were on foot in various parts of the country. In the meantime information was received that Old George and Limpy were menacing the settlement at the mouth of Galice, some 45 miles below Rock Point.
Capt. Lewis was immediately ordered to that place with a company of about 40 men. Scarcely had he established himself, on the morning of Oct. 17th he was attacked by George and Limpy's band.
(Inquire for further particulars)
Oct. 22nd Capt. Rinearson fought on Cow Creek
(Inquire for further particulars)
J. M. Sutton papers
The following transcription was compiled from microfilm and bound copies of the Ashland Tidings in the collection of the Southern Oregon Historical Society, supplemented by the W. W. Fidler scrapbook, SOHS MS208.
Massacre at Port Orford in 1851.
In the beautiful harbor of Port Orford stand many picturesque rocks projecting high above the water, in towers and domes, of nature's own building. One of these rocks, standing so near the shore that it may be reached on foot during low tide, is possessed of much historical interest, being the scene of one of the earliest of those bloody adventures with Indians for which Southern Oregon is so preeminently noted. It is known by the name of Battle Rock. It is near sixty feet above the level of the sea, and its summit can only be reached by one narrow pass. When the top is reached there is room for twenty or thirty men to stand. This rock, like all the rest in the harbor, is continually covered with innumerable flocks of sea fowls, of every description, that frequent the Pacific coast. The air at times is literally full with them. The flapping of their wings, their wild and varied screams, added to the husky crash of the waves as they beat against the rocks, go to make up a scene truly grand and wild in the extreme.Massacre by Coquille Indians in 1851.
But upon the summit of this rock was once a scene of terror enacted, of which the following account has been preserved, and will give some idea of the suffering of that brave crew who fell victims to the heartless savages.
Early in the summer of 1851, when the spirit of adventure prevailed to the remotest corner of the United States, and especially the Pacific coast, consequent on the discovery of gold, expeditions of discovery were fitted out, both by sea and land. No undertaking was too perilous which promised wild adventure and a search for new lands or gold.
About this time, a party of bold adventurers, numbering thirteen including the captain and cabin boy, chartered a sloop and set out on an exploring voyage up the Oregon coast. When they arrived at the place now known as Port Orford they were attracted by the beauty of the harbor and its surroundings, and at once entered the bay, let go the anchor, and their gallant little craft turned its prow to meet the ebbing tide. Soon the whole party, except the master and cabin boy, embarked on a small boat and set out for land. A short run brought them to shore. After securing their boat, they made their way to the high ground some distance from the beach and stopped to admire the great beauty of their new-found land. Gradually ascending back from the coast, the land was covered with dense forests of gigantic firs. In the near foreground sprang from a soil unsurpassed in richness an exuberance of flowering shrubs and plants, excelled only in the tropics. They had scarcely time to realize the grand beauties of their surroundings when, to their consternation, a savage yell from their rear broke on their ears. On looking back, they discovered their boat in possession of the Indians, and that they were completely surrounded and cut off from all retreat by a horde of savages outnumbering their little band ten to one. Nor were they kept long in doubt as to their hostile intentions, for a shower of arrows greeted them from all sides. They immediately returned their shots from their pistols, but the Indians being so much superior in numbers pressed on them and continued to send forth showers of their flint-pointed arrows. The heroic adventurers continued to defend themselves, while they retreated to the very water's edge, directly under the walls of Battle Rock, and thereby had one side protected from attack. The whites saw at a glance that their only hope of escape consisted in gaining the summit of this rock, and they immediately made the effort. Amid a shower of arrows they succeeded in reaching the top, and for the time being stood in safety, completely sheltered from the Indians' arrows. The Indians, however, were not disposed to give up the attack. Led by their bravest chiefs they repeatedly attempted to scale the citadel, but were as often driven back by the unerring bullets of its defenders. When the savages learned that it was certain death to every brave who made the attempt to scale the rock, they drew back. By this time the incoming tide began to extend its friendly waters farther out from the base of the rock, which gave the heroic little band a respite for a season. They were now able to turn their attention toward the schooner, but to their horror they beheld it leaving the harbor under full sail. The captain, who had closely watched the proceedings of the Indians, and seeing the utter hopelessness of rendering any assistance to the besieged party, slipped his anchor, and with the assistance of the cabin boy set sail for San Francisco, a distance of 375 miles, to procure aid and return to the rescue of the unfortunate band.
The number of the Indians on the shore increased hourly, and after each succeeding ebb tide the attack was renewed with increased vigor. Thus for three days and nights without bread or water did they defend the rock almost without hope of ultimate success. The excessive heat of the sun, as it poured down its torrid rays on the rock, and the chilly winds of the night had well nigh overcome them, especially those who had been wounded. On the eve of the last night their ammunition being well nigh exhausted, they determined, on the return of low tide, under the cover of darkness to make a desperate effort to abandon the rock, and each for himself to break through the enemy's lines and gain the shelter of the dense fir forest in their rear.
At the dead hour of night, when the tide was at a little more than half ebb, they bade each other farewell and followed one after another down the dangerous proclivities of Battle Rock and made one last desperate effort for life and liberty. One alone of this gallant little band was left to tell the tale. He, after many months of hardships and suffering, was found a prisoner among the Coquille Indians, and ransomed.
The captain of the schooner, after a voyage to San Francisco and back which took ten days, returned with a strong force to relieve his friends. But they found the rock again in possession of the sea fowls, and not an echo left to tell the fate of the heroic little band of adventurers.
The murder of the party of explorers at Port Orford, and the subsequent search of their fellow comrades, attracted attention to this point as an available place for a settlement and a point from whence goods and provisions could be transported to Umpqua Valley and the mines. To this end, in June 1851 a party of ten men from Oregon landed at Port Orford and took possession of a low promontory. They erected temporary fortifications to protect themselves against the hostile Indians that inhabited that portion of the coast. These men were all well armed with guns; and in addition had a small cannon, a four-pounder, which they planted in a commanding position. The promontory was accessible only from one side, and that by a very narrow pass. In this position they were attacked by a large body of Indians that came in from every direction. Repeated charges were made by the savages, but were as often repulsed by the gallant little band, the cannon doing the most effective service. Day after day, for two weeks, the Indians closely besieged the little garrison. At length, finding that it was only a matter of time when they would either have to surrender or make their escape, they determined to make an effort to reach the settlements on the Umpqua River, some 75 miles distant. After much fatigue and exposure, they reached the settlements in safety.The Indian War of 1853
This unsuccessful attempt at forming a settlement was immediately followed by another expedition, containing about seventy-five men from San Francisco, Cal. The new expedition landed at the point so recently abandoned by the Oregon party, on the 14th day of July, 1851. The object of this party, like the first, was to establish a settlement, or post, at Port Orford, and open a road through the Coast Range to what was then known as the Shasta country (now Siskiyou Co., Cal.), extensive mines having already been developed where now stands the town of Yreka. The latter place was then called Shasta Butte City, and contained some 2,000 inhabitants.
When the expedition first landed, they found the Indians very shy, but they soon appeared in considerable numbers, and the party being very strong and well armed, became exceedingly friendly.
After a few days, an expedition was fitted out to explore the country and ascertain the practicability of the proposed road through the Coast Range. After penetrating the dense forests and tangled underwood for some twenty miles, they became discouraged and returned to camp. In the course of two or three weeks, another expedition of twenty picked men was organized for the same purpose. In the meantime a guide had been sent for, and the services of Mr. W. G. T'Vault, who was represented as being a good mountaineer and Indian fighter, were secured. The party set out in good spirits, and in full faith that the trip could be made to Shasta (Yreka) in ten days, as represented by their guide. From Port Orford they proceeded down the coast as far as the mouth of Rogue River, a distance of 30 miles, finding Indians numerous, and of a very thievish disposition. It was a part of their plan to follow up the north side of Rogue River, if practicable. They traveled within a few miles of the river, over a very rough country, to a point now known as the Big Bend, their general course so far being about northeast. They had then been out some ten days, their provisions well nigh exhausted, with very little prospect of soon reaching their destination. At this stage of affairs one-half the men, seeing little prospect of success, determined to return to camp. The remainder, ten in number, being more resolute, resolved to push forward and, if possible, reach the mines. The names of those who decided to brave the perils of a savage and hostile people, and almost at the mercy of chance for food, plunged again in the illimitable forest, were W. G. T'Vault, of Oregon; Cyrus Hedden, of New Jersey; Gilbert Brush and Cornelius Doherty, of Texas; Thomas Davenport, of Massachusetts; Jeremiah Ryan, of Maryland; John P. Pepper and Patrick Murphy, of New York; John Holland, of New Hampshire and L. L. Williams, of Michigan. From the Big Bend the party proceeded two days' travel up the river, when they fell upon a plain Indian trail leading from the river into the mountains, in nearly a due north course. Their guide, who had already expressed his belief that they were fast approaching the settlements near Winchester, on the Umpqua River, now assured them that this trail led from Rogue River to Fort Umpqua, an old Hudson Bay post, thirty miles below Winchester, near a place now known as Elkton. He further assured them that, by following this trail, they would reach the post in one or two days. They, therefore, abandoned their southern trip and set out for that point. They were now on very short rations, depending almost entirely on game for subsistence.
After traveling for three days over a very rough mountainous country, they came upon a stream thirty or forty yards wide, since known to be the South Fork of the Coquille. Here they found plenty of Indian sign. Following down this stream some twenty miles, they found an occasional Indian ranch, the occupants fleeing on their approach. Believing this to be Coos River, they again set out north, guided by only a pocket compass, for the Umpqua River, being assured by their guide that it could not possibly be far distant. Following this course, they struck what is now known to be Middle Fork of the Coquille, where they again found much Indian sign. Traveling down this stream to near the junction of the Middle and North Forks, they again struck off in a north direction and soon found themselves on the North Fork. They followed up this stream some 500 yards, endeavoring to find a crossing. This stream was nearly thirty yards wide and quite deep, and exhibited signs of some eighteen inches tidewater. At this point, Mr. Williams succeeded in killing a pheasant, and Mr. Doherty a gray squirrel. Here Mr. Ryan declared his inability to go farther, and their guide, Mr. T'Vault, lay down and told the men that if they proceeded farther they must leave him. This was in the forenoon of Sept. 13th. While deliberating on what course to pursue, two canoe loads of Indians were observed ascending the stream. After a hasty consultation, it was decided to hail the Indians and enter into negotiations for food and a passage down the river, their guide expressing a belief that they could reach civilization by no other means. They succeeded after a time in getting a talk with the Indians, and found that they were willing either to take the party down the river, or sell them a canoe. A difference of opinion now arose among the men. Some were in favor of buying a canoe, others of hiring the Indians to take them to the mouth of the river in their canoes, and from there to make their way to Port Orford along the beach. The latter course was decided on, and the services of the Indians with two canoes were obtained by giving them all their blankets. They experienced much relief by their new mode of traveling.
[Concluded next week.]
Ashland Tidings, July 19, 1878, page 1
Massacre by Coquille Indians in 1851.
The Indians told them that it would take but two days to reach the mouth of the river. On their way down the river they passed large Indian villages at short intervals, and often tried without success to obtain something to eat. In one instance they prepared some broiled elk skin, which they ate with avidity. Distrust of the Indians along the shore, which had prevailed among the men at the onset of their journey down the river, soon wore away as they glided down the beautiful water amidst the grand forests and towering mountain scenery. But for their hunger, their voyage during the day would have been one of uninterrupted pleasure. Towards night, the tide set in so strong that they were compelled to land and wait for it to return. When it began to ebb, they set out and traveled until ten o'clock p.m., and landed and camped for the night. During the day the Indians had been very numerous and well armed with bows and arrows, and long hoop-iron knives. A strict guard was kept up during the night, the Indians seeming little at ease, either from a fear of their white associates or from an expected hostile visit from the other Indians, but nothing of note occurred during the night.
The morning of Sept. 14th was ushered in, bright and beautiful. Glimpses of a clear sky occasionally broke through the dense forests of fir and vine maple that embowered the graceful little stream on which the adventurers so easily floated toward the ocean. Little thought they of the sad fate that awaited them ere the sun should sink beneath the western forest. As they moved down the river, the number of Indians seemed to increase. It was noticed, too, that the squaws and children were no longer seen along the shore and that every Indian was armed with his bow and a full quiver of arrows, and for the most part with long hoop-iron knives. About noon, they came to a place which was recognized by Cyrus Hedden as the point where the party of ten men had crossed the Coquille River in June in their efforts to reach the Umpqua settlements, he being one of their number. They now knew themselves to be about ten miles from the mouth of the river, and among hostile Indians. It was therefore determined before reaching the mouth of the river to leave the canoes and return to Port Orford along the beach, a distance of about thirty miles. The continual assurance of their guide overcame their fears and they continued in the canoes to a point three and a half miles from the mouth of the river. Here, upon the right bank, was a large rancherie of Indians, with fresh salmon displayed as an inducement for them to land. As they were suffering for food, and well nigh exhausted, under the assurance of their guide that all was safe, they determined to land. The bank of the river above and below the village was lined with canoes and there were Indians enough on the shore to annihilate their band and a score more sitting in their canoes near where they landed. After parleying for some time, trying to purchase salmon, at a preconcerted signal the Indians rushed on the party, killing on the spot Byron, Pepper, Holland and Murphy, and disarming Brush, Hedden, Davenport and Dougherty. By this time, one hundred and fifty Indians were on the ground and had succeeded in killing or disarming all of the party excepting L. L. Williams (now of Douglas County). He, having suspected that all was not right with the savages, had kept on his guard. When they attempted to seize his gun he dealt them such blows right and left as kept them back. Williams being a man in the prime of life, of great physical endurance and strength, rushed on the enemy, who stood around him so thick that they did not dare to use their bows lest that they might shoot some of their own number. Every stroke of his gun barrel, the stock being broken off at the first blow, felled one of their number. The desperation with which he fought seemed to strike the Indians with terror and they would retreat before him, until he would be compelled to turn and defend his rear. At length he made a desperate charge, and the enemy's lines opened on the side next to a heavy skirt of timber about four hundred yards distant, through which Williams sprang from the crowd of savages and started to run for his life. This was so unexpected by the Indians that he had considerable start before pursuit was commenced. But two stalwart savages were soon on his track, each armed with bow and arrows, one having also a gun taken from one of their fellow victims. As he ran, he received one arrow just above the left hip [which], ranging forward, went through the abdomen. He stopped long enough to pull out the shaft, leaving the barbed head and about three inches of the detached portion of the arrow in his body. Again he started to run, and on his way across the dry marsh, over which he had to make his way to the timber, he saw two of his companions, Dougherty and Hedden, fleeing for their lives; Dougherty, however, was soon brought down by his pursuers. Williams kept up his flight, his pursuers fast gaining on him. He was frequently struck by arrows in different parts of his body, but none save the first inflicting a dangerous wound. At length, stepping into a miry spot, he fell down. The Indian having his comrade's gun dropped his bow and arrows, rushed up, placed it against his prostrate body and snapped it. Williams sprang to his feet and charged on his antagonist with his gun barrel, and was met by the savage with the gun. A desperate encounter ensued, which resulted in a victory for Williams, he having crushed the Indian's head by a lucky blow from his gun barrel. He immediately snatched the gun from the hands of the dying warrior, presented it at the other Indian, who was now deliberately drawing his bow, at some distance off, and to his surprise and delight the gun went off and the second savage fell heavily to the ground, with a bullet through his head. There being no more Indians in pursuit, Hedden, who had stopped when he entered the timber, and witnessed his comrade's last victory, called out to him and they came together and from there started on their flight.
While the exciting scene just narrated was going on, two others of the party were making their escape under less exciting circumstances. T'Vault and Brush, who had not left the canoes when the attack was made, were knocked out into the water. A young Indian, probably one who had come down the river with them, pushed a canoe into the water and helped the two men into it and then jumped overboard, and they paddled across the river and made their escape without pursuit. They arrived safe at Port Orford some days after. Brush had received a painful wound on his head from a canoe paddle.
Davenport had made his escape by flight while the exciting fight was going on between Williams and the Indians. He arrived in Umpqua settlements some days afterwards, unharmed.
Williams, in his flight from the Indians, had disencumbered himself of his boots and all clothing except his shirt. In this condition he was compelled to seek his way out of the mountains. The two men, Williams and Hedden, set out together in a northeast direction and soon struck the sand hills upon the coast near the place where the town of Randolph now stands. For six days and nights, over a rough and trackless country, did these two men make their way, the one so severely wounded that he could go but a few rods at a time without having to lie down to rest, and then could not arise without the assistance of his comrade. With no food to eat, or clothing or blankets to protect them from the chilling winds and fogs of the nights, the suffering of these men, and especially the wounded one, was beyond description. In the afternoon of September 20th, when forty miles from the place of attack they fortunately hailed a boat from up the river and were conveyed to Gardiner, about six miles up the river.
Ashland Tidings, July 26, 1878, page 1
Capt. Ben. Wright's Expedition into the Modoc Country
in 1852--Indian Murders etc.
In writing a history of Southern Oregon, it becomes necessary, in many instances, to give with it that of Northern California. The close relations existing between the various tribes of Indians that inhabited the two sections when the country was first settled, as well as the intimacy that prevailed among the hardy miners, so blended their history that to make it intelligible they must both be included in the narration of almost every incident of any note that occurred between the whites and Indians.
In March 1851, gold was discovered on the Yreka flats and contiguous points, and the fame of their wonderful richness soon spread throughout the northern mines and brought thousands of men to that place. About the same time, in the spring of 1852, the rich deposits on Rich Gulch were discovered within the present corporate limits of Jacksonville.
Prior to the discovery of gold at Yreka, and at a time too prior to any settlement having been made in the country, the Rogue River, Shasta and adjacent tribes of Indians had shown their hostilities to the whites at different times by overt acts committed on travelers through the country. As far back as 1834, a party of thirty persons under the control of one Capt. Smith were massacred near the mouth of Umpqua River. They were exploring the country in the interest of the Hudson Bay Company, who about that time or soon afterwards established a post above on the Umpqua River and called it Fort Umpqua.
In June 1835, George Gay, Daniel Miller, Edward Barnes, Dr. Barley, Mr. Sanders, John Turner, John Woodworth and a man whose name is only remembered as "Irish Tom" were attacked near the mouth of Foots Creek, on Rogue River, and Messrs. Miller, Barnes, Sanders and Tom were killed. The other four, all badly wounded, made their escape.
In the summer of 1838, a number of Oregonians joined together and went to California for the purpose of getting stock cattle to drive into Oregon. They succeeded in getting their drove, and on their return were attacked at the same place where the party of 1835 was (Foots Creek) and Mr. Gay was again wounded, he being one of the latter party.
In August 1850, two packers by the name of ------ Prink and Cushing were murdered on Klamath River, near where the ferry was afterwards established. Their train was taken and their cargo destroyed by Shasta Indians.
In January 1851, at Blackburn's ferry, on the Klamath River, an attack was made, probably by the same Indians, and James Sloan, ------ Jenalshan, ------ Bender and ------ Blackburn, the owner of the ferry, were killed. The place was defended by a few survivors until the arrival of assistance, when the Indians withdrew, but not until much property had been destroyed.
During the month of May 1851 four miners traveling on the road between Grave Creek and Rogue River were killed. These men were killed at different times, two each time, by Rogue River Indians. The names of these men are unknown. In the same month, Wm. Mosier and a man by the name of Reaver, or Reavis, were murdered by a party of Rogue River and Shasta Indians combined, not far from Yreka. About the same date, probably in June, a packer by the name of ------ Dilley, while encamped near the present site of Phoenix, was killed by some Rogue River Indians, whom he had fed and lodged overnight. His cargo consisted principally of flour. The Indians, at that time not knowing the value of flour, emptied it out to get the sacks. A comrade who was with Dilley escaped. About the first of October of the same year, some drovers were attacked by Indians not far from Willow Springs, and a man by the name of Moffett was mortally wounded.
Shortly after the last-named affair, Maj. Kearney U.S.A. paid a visit to Rogue River Valley, and after several engagements with the Indians, in one of which Capt. Stuart was killed, he succeeded in extracting from them a promise, that in the future they would be very good Indians and kill no more white men.
Sometime in the fall of 1851, a party of Modoc Indians made a raid into Shasta Valley and drove off some 200 head of horses belonging to miners, and were being herded on the range by men who made it a business, there being no enclosed pastures in the country at that time. Capt. Ben. Wright, W. T. Kershaw and other citizens organized a party and went in pursuit. They went as far as Lost River and succeeded in recovering only thirty-four of their horses. On this expedition they were attacked several times and five of their party severely wounded.
In August 1852 a party of emigrants arrived in Yreka, via the Lost River route, being the first of the season, and reported the Modocs hostile, and advised that a party be organized at once to go to the relief of the emigrants yet to arrive. Immediately after the arrival of this train, a man came into Yreka from the Modoc country, and represented that his party, consisting of nine men, who had packed across the plains, had been attacked by Modocs, and that he was the only survivor. He had saved himself by cutting the pack from one of the horses and charging through the hostile ranks. On the reception of this news, a volunteer company was immediately raised. Ben. Wright was elected Captain, W. T. Kersham First Lieutenant. Capt. Wright's command left Yreka on the 29th day of August, making forced marches for one hundred miles, until they arrived at Tule Lake, where they found the first emigrant train of sixteen wagons, having sixty persons, men, women and children. This party was completely surrounded by the savages, having no possible chance of escape. They had been fighting several hours and had it not been for the opportune arrival of Capt. Wright they certainly would all have been massacred. They were well nigh exhausted, and could not have held out much longer. They had but few guns, and were becoming short of ammunition. One of their men, Freeman Hawthorn, was severely wounded. When the savages discovered the volunteers approaching, they withdrew. This was near the place where the eight packers, referred to before, were murdered, and is now known as Bloody Point. The lake at that time was shallow* and filled with dense tules. Many small low islands skirted the margin of the lake or swamp, which being covered with tall reed grass and tules made an excellent hiding place for the Indians. It was on these islands that the Indians took refuge when the Yreka company came in sight. Capt. Wright, seeing the Indians pushing out in their canoes, ordered a charge, which was gallantly responded to by his company. The men dismounted; many of them waded into the lake up to their waists to get within gunshot of the enemy. After three hours' hard fighting night came on, and this closed the 2nd day of September. According to the Indians' reports, there fell on that day twenty of their warriors. The volunteers camped that night with the emigrants near the scene of action. When morning came, detachments went out and found the bodies of a party of emigrants, who had been massacred; also, the bodies of Coats, Ormsby and Long, who had left Yreka about three weeks before to meet friends by this route. They also found the body of a packer, who had been dispatched to the settlements by a destitute train. During this and the next day they found and buried twenty-one bodies. On the previous day, prior to their engagement with the Indians, they had found the body of a man in the tules, which had evidently been there several days, as it was badly mutilated by birds and coyotes. They also found various articles of women's and children's apparel, indicating that entire families had been cut off. As they found the body of only one woman, it was painfully evident that a number more had been taken captives. In one of the Indian ranches they found the hair of a white woman, which had been shaved close to her head.
Capt. Wright remained among the hostiles, rendering aid to the incoming emigration for near three months. Frequent skirmishes occurred between detachments of his company and the Indians. Shortly after Capt. Wright's company left Yreka, another company under the command of Capt. Charles McDermitt was formed in Yreka, and one at Jacksonville, under the command of Capt. (now Gen.) Ross, and went into the hostile territory. About the same time, Maj. Fitzgerald, U.S.A., with a small detachment of dragoons, also went into the hostile country--of the latter three companies, more hereafter. The Indians were kept in check, and further depredations were prevented for that year.
Capt. Wright remained some time after the other companies returned, to make sure that no straggling emigrants were left behind.
The Indians now seeing that the emigrants had passed, sent word to Capt. Wright by a squaw that they wanted to treat for peace. The Captain sent word that he was ready to hear what they had to say. Accordingly, they appointed next morning as a time to have their talk. The Indians requested that some thirty or forty of their number should be permitted to come in and camp overnight with the volunteers. Although the request raised a suspicion that foul play was meant by the wily savages, the request was granted. The company at that time consisted of only about thirty men, rank and file, and should the Indians get the least advantage of them they would crush them at a blow. The intentions of the Indians soon became evident, and a strict watch was kept up, every man sleeping on his arms. Capt. Wright understood something of their language, and by morning had learned their plans and had arranged to meet them. It was meditated to make a sudden attack in the morning, when the time arrived for their talk. The volunteers were ready; before the treacherous savages had time to carry out their designs, forty of their number bit the dust. In this engagement, two men, Poland and Sanbauch, were severely wounded. The company returned to Yreka, carrying their two wounded men on litters, and were discharged on the 29th day of November, having been in active service just three months, and had been the means of saving many lives.
*A great change has occurred in this lake since that time. Where the emigrant road ran at that time is now some miles out in the lake. The tules have entirely disappeared. What was little more than a swamp is now a magnificent sheet of navigable water, surrounded by some fifty miles of beautiful smooth shore. Lost River pours its waters into it; and by some means, the subterranean outlet has become stopped up, which accounts for the change.
Ashland Tidings, August 2, 1878, page 1
Discovery of Gold at Scott's Bar and Yreka--Murder on Indian Creek--
Steele's Expedition in Pursuit of Murderers--Fight at Big Bar, etc.
In the spring of 1850 prospecting parties went out in search of gold on the upper Klamath River and its tributaries. In the month of June in that year, diggings were discovered by a Mr. Dollarhide and his party on Beaver Creek, now known as Scott's Bar, on Scott's River; but they found these diggings very deep and difficult to work, and the Indians so troublesome that they were compelled to abandon them. Soon after, another party under the leadership of one Scott, hearing of the discovery, visited the place and discovered extensive placers. They at once circulated the report of their rich discovery to induce an influx of miners into that locality as a precautionary measure against the depredations of the Indians, whom they found to be very troublesome, stealing stock in the daytime and attacking their camps at night.
[The following account is taken from a letter written by Elijah Steele, which survives, and is transcribed here.]
Early in February 1851, Gen. Joe Lane, assisted by Elijah Steele Esq., both of whom are still living and well known throughout this coast, raised a company of prospectors to go to the new diggings on Scott's River, at which place they arrived at about the last of February of that year. Upon their arrival on the upper waters of Scott's River, the Indians, who had heard of Gen. Lane through the Rogue Rivers, learning that he was the leader of the company, came into camp and expressed a desire that all hostilities between them and the whites should close, and that Gen. Lane should be tyee (chief) over both parties. This proposition was a great relief to the miners, for up to this time they had to keep a strict guard over their horses and camp day and night. It was therefore agreed that their head men should come in and have a talk. Among the Indians that came in according to the agreement was the chief of the Scott Rivers, or Ot-ti-tie-was, as they called themselves, whom they christened John and his three brothers, Tolo, afterwards "Old Man," chief of the band that occupied the country where Yreka is now located, and the chief of the Canyon Indians, inhabiting the canyon and mountains on the lower part of Scott's River, including the Bar. The last-mentioned chief, was afterwards known as "Charley," and has at no time since been implicated in any violation of treaty stipulations, though previous to that time he was the most formidable enemy the whites had to encounter. A general treaty of amity was agreed to, and both parties expressed themselves highly gratified with the result.
On the discovery of gold in the Yreka flats, in March of that year, Gen. Lane and Mr. Steele left Scott River and located at the new diggings; this transferred the impromptu Indian department to that point. The great number of people who were attracted from other sections, in consequence of the exceedingly rich discoveries here, caused a city of some thousands of inhabitants to spring up as if by magic. Many of the miners, on their arrival, being so excited by the prospect of sudden wealth so lavishly spread out before them, would turn out their animals on the Shasta plains bordering on the diggings, and pay no more heed to them, until, with their pockets filled with the precious metal they were ready to start home, or disgusted with ill luck, determined to seek other diggings. The hills and flats and the town were filled with men in a perfect whirl of excitement. Each man seemed to be perfectly independent of all others. Few knew or cared to know any man's business but his own. Gambling seemed to be thought by many as the high road to fortune, and thousands of dollars passed each day into the hands of the wily "sharps," who made it their business. Everything sold at fabulous prices, and men never found time to niggle over a few dollars in the price of the most trivial article. Notwithstanding all this great rush for wealth, this seething sea of excitement, this conglomerate mass of humanity coming from every quarter of the globe, high crime was comparatively unknown, especially that of robbery and theft. This can be accounted for in the fact that the mines offered a surer channel to wealth than any dishonest course.
The Indians, of whom a small remnant known as the Shastas yet remain, were then very numerous, including Tolo's band, and those inhabiting Shasta Valley and the contiguous mountains, under chief "Bill" and another called "Scarface." When Gen. Lane arrived in Yreka the Indians who were congregated on the flats received them in the most friendly manner. These Indians spoke a language in common with the Rogue River and Scott's River tribes, and were formerly under the control of one chief, but each had their subordinate chief, who controlled them in their domestic relations. This head chief, who was the father of "John" of Scott's Valley, had accidentally been killed some years previous, and John being young, a strife for the supremacy had been carried on for some time between him and "Old Joe" and "Sam" of Rogue River and "Scarface" of Shasta, "Old Tolo" remaining neutral in this contest. When the whites came among them, their strife ceased, each assuming supreme control over his own people. At that time, the Indians had no stock, and knew no use for horses or mules except for food, only as they had seen them used by the whites as they passed through their country, or when war parties of "strange people" (Modocs) came among them. These Indians (the Shastas) were naked during the warm season, and lived an indolent life, living on roots and fish, which were abundant and easily obtained.
As a consequence of the inattention of the miners to their animals, they frequently strayed off a long distance, and when wanted could not be found by their owners; and had it not been for the good offices of Gen. Lane much trouble might have resulted. While the General commanded the highest respect from his fellow miners, he had won the most implicit confidence of the Indians, and at a word from him old "Tolo" would send his young men to "look up" any lost animals desired. Upon bringing them in, he would award to the Indians a shirt, a pair of pants, of drawers, or some trinket according to the value of the animal or the trouble of bringing them in. This duty, which by common consent was awarded to him, was a heavy draw both upon his time and means, but he performed it with a cheerfulness which endeared the name of Gen. Joe Lane to all the miners.
After General Lane left his home in Oregon, the Indians, having so frequently seen Mr. E. Steele in the General's company, named him "Tyee Joe Lane's codawa," meaning chief Joe Lane's brother, and would go to him for advice and to relate their troubles. Since then to the present time Mr. Steele has been an important actor in the Indian affairs in this part of the country.
On the 2nd day of June 1852, Calvin Woodman was killed by Indians on what is now known as Indian Creek, a small stream flowing into Scott's River. This raised a general alarm among the whites, and a company of volunteers was immediately raised at Johnson's ranch at the lower part of Scott's Valley. Three days after the murder, a collision occurred between the volunteers and the Indians which resulted in killing several horses and severely wounding Mr. S. G. Whipple, then acting sheriff of Siskiyou County. On the next day after the fight, Mr. Steele, who was just returning from a business trip to Sacramento City, hearing of the trouble through some Indians he met moving their squaws and children into the mountains for safety, hurried forward to Johnson's ranch. That night, June 7th, a large party of citizens from Scott's Bar, having heard of the trouble at Johnson's ranch, came over under command of Maj. Rowe as Captain and proceeded to Yreka. On the next day after their arrival there, however, most of them returned to Scott's Bar. On Monday, the 10th, Mr. Steele had a talk with the Indians. He induced old "Tolo," who was over in Scott's Valley on a gambling visit, and his son, chief "John" and the three brothers, to come into the stockade, which had been erected around Johnson's house. They informed Mr. Steele that the murder had been committed by an Indian from Rogue River and one from Shasta Valley; that they had no desire for war. They proposed to go with him, and deliver up the guilty parties, if found in the camp of the Shastas, and if not, to follow them as long as he would go with them. Whereupon Mr. Steele obtained the services of a small company, consisting of John McNeal, James Bruce (afterward Maj. Bruce during the Rogue River war of '55 and '56), James White, Peter Snellback, John Galvin and a young man whose name is only remembered as "Harry." These men took with them old "Tolo" and his son, whom they christened "Phillip," and one of old "John's" brothers, whom they called "Jim," and started for the canyon on Shasta River.
[To be continued.]
Ashland Tidings, August 9, 1878, page 1
Discovery of Gold at Scott's Bar and Yreka--Murder on Indian Creek--From the W. W. Fidler scrapbook, SOHS MS208
Steele's Expedition in Pursuit of Murderers--Fight at Big Bar, etc.
When Steele and his party arrived at Yreka, great excitement was prevailing on account of suspicious movements of the Indians of that vicinity, who had moved with their families into the mountains. Some of the more excitable among the citizens, on learning that some Indians had been brought into town, called a public meeting for the purpose of taking them away and hanging them. Mr. Steele addressed the meeting and explained his arrangement with the Indians, which restored order and saved the Indians. Judge Wm. A. Robertson, the first judge of Siskiyou County, and associate judges James Strowbridge and Patterson, on the morning of the next day officially authorized Mr. Steele to obtain and deliver up the murderers, and agreed to pay the expenses out of the county treasury, supposing that the murderers would be found within the county. Mr. Steele's party was joined by Dr. L. S. Thompson (late of Jackson County, Ogn.), F. W. Merritt and Capt. Ben Wright, the latter being employed as interpreter, he speaking the Indian language well. The Indians having fled to the mountains, two days were spent in hunting them up and getting them together, when it was learned that the two they were in pursuit of had fled to Rogue River to join "Tipsu Tyee"* inhabiting the Siskiyou Mountains and upper portion of the Rogue River Valley, and the Rogue Rivers, whom they said were in arms and intended to kill all the whites if Dr. Ambrose would not give his little daughter to Sam's son for a wife. Before starting in pursuit of the fugitives, old Tolo and his son and Jim proposed to substitute two others in their stead--two active young warriors, who were better acquainted with the country, proffered to obtain and deliver up the murderers, or suffer punishment in their stead. Steele and Cook then returned and consulted with Judge Strowbridge, the other two judges being absent. He advised pursuit, and Mr. Steele set out to join his party.
Upon arriving at camp, he learned from the Indians that at the time the fugitives left they were undecided whether it would be best for them to flee to the upper Klamath or to Rogue River. The Indians offered to raise a band of their own and go to the lake with Ben Wright. After consultation it was agreed to accept their services and for Steele to take his company, numbering nine white men, two Shasta Indians and a Klickitat called "Bill," who had come into the country with Gen. Lane. They traveled much in the night through unfrequented routes, led by their two young Indian guides, whom they christened "Tom" and "Jack." In crossing the Siskiyou Mountains, they met a Rogue River Indian, with his bowstring and arrows ready for immediate use, and surrounded him before he was aware of their presence. The guides talked to him awhile, and learned that the Indians they were after had gone to Sam's band on Rogue River, and this Indian was a runner, going over to induce the Shastas and Scott Rivers to join Sam and Topsie against the whites. Orders were given to disarm him, and the Indians were instructed to explain to him the state of affairs and tell him he must go back with them to the agent of Rogue River Valley, Judge Skinner. When they attempted to disarm him, he snatched a large Colt's six-shooter from Mr. Galvin and commenced firing at the men in quick succession, but fortunately doing no damage. He then broke loose and fled up the mountains. He was pursued by the men, but it was found he could travel faster than men on horseback. Therefore, Bill was ordered to dismount and follow him on foot, and if he could not overtake and detain him until the rest of the party came up, to shoot him. Bill followed him for a half a mile, and seeing that he was about to make his escape, shot him.
After passing the summit of the Siskiyous, they fell in with a son of Tipsu, who was out reconnoitering, and took him prisoner. After descending into Rogue River Valley, they were met by Dr. C. Hillman and another gentleman, who informed them that large numbers of old Joe's tribe were gathered in arms on Big Bar, near Table Rock, and that the citizens under Capt. Lamerick were also under arms on the opposite side of the river, and wished them to hasten on to render their assistance. Dr. Hillman and companion proceeded to Yreka to procure ammunition, and Steele and party pushed forward with all possible speed for the scene of trouble. On their march from the mountains they had fallen in with and captured another young warrior, mounted on a good horse and well armed with revolver and gun. About one mile from the Bar, they met Judge A. A. Skinner, who urged them forward, as he said "matters looked desperate." He requested them to camp near the Bar during the night and keep a good lookout till morning, at which time he would join them. Mr. Steele made known the object of his visit and asked him, in case an arrangement was made with the Indians, that provisions be made for the return of the murderers of whom they were in pursuit. The Agent agreed to this and they arrived about sundown and camped for the night. On the following morning Judge Skinner arrived, and after a short consultation they sent Tom, their young Indian guide, across the river, who after a short time succeeded in inducing Sam, Joe and a number of their warriors to come over and have a talk. While over there, Tom saw and talked with the fugitives. After these Indians had been with them a short time, others began to come over, all well armed, and many with guns and revolvers, until there were near two hundred mixed with the men. Sam then demanded that the two prisoners captured on the mountain be set at liberty as a preliminary step to a "talk." Whereupon Judge Skinner ordered Mr. Steele to restore their guns and pistols and let them go. Steele knowing full well the bad policy of such a course, and the advantage the retention of these prisoners would be to him, not only as a protection for themselves but as a means of procuring the fugitives, refused to comply with the demand unless the murderers be given up in their place. The Agent then notified Mr. Steele that he was in his jurisdiction, and peremptorily ordered their release. This demand was met with a positive refusal on any terms except those already proposed. The Agent then went to the prisoners and told them that he was chief of the whites and that they could go. Mr. Steele then told the Agent in the language of the Indians that they must not go, and if they made the least move, that he would shoot them down.
*Many of the early settlers of Rogue River will remember Tipsu Tyee, or chief with the beard, whose headquarters were originally located on Ashland Creek, in and above the present site of Ashland. He was a bold, treacherous Indian, and many deeds of blood was directly due to him and his band.
Discovery of Gold at Scott's Bar and Yreka--Murder on Indian Creek--
Steele's Expedition in Pursuit of Murderers--Fight at Big Bar, etc.
The Agent threatened to arrest the whole party and send them to Oregon City for trial unless the Indians were discharged. The order was still refused and the two Indians placed under guard, with instructions to shoot them on the least attempt at escape or rescue. Mr. Steele then placed his other six men behind trees, separated within supporting distance of each other, so as to prevent the Indians from getting in their rear and cutting off their retreat, and then with his Indian guides Tom, Jack and Bill took his place in the council with Joe, Sam and the other Indians. Sam then informed the Agent that before he would talk, the white men must stack their arms some fifty yards back, indicating the place. The Agent, who was evidently afraid to refuse anything to the Indians, ordered the whites to do so, without consulting the engineers. Capt. Lamerick, being under his jurisdiction, felt under obligations of duty to do so and ordered his men to comply with the order. Mr. Steele refused to comply and entered a protest against such a hazardous move unless the Indians, who were as well armed as the whites, should also be required to dispose of their arms in a like manner. Judge Skinner refused to require the Indians to stack their guns, and the council commenced, Steele's men and the Indians retaining their arms.
Sam, evidently feeling that he was master of the situation, refused to give up the refugees. But he proposed to cross back and have a talk among themselves and return in a short time. On reaching the opposite side, however, he halloed back saying he would not return, and defied the volunteers. Capt. Lamerick immediately ordered his men to resume their arms. He divided them into two detachments, sending one under his Lieutenant to a ford about a half a mile below, and took the other under his own command about the same distance above, and gave orders in the case of any difficulty arising between Steele's company, which remained at the Bar, and the Indians, to immediately cross over. The Agent asked time to go over and make one more effort to effect a compromise, which was agreed to. He went and was gone about half an hour, when the Indians which were this side of the river, near Steele's position, began quietly crossing back one by one, and in a short time there were not over fifty left. Steele placed two of his men, McLeod and Galvin, to guard the river and permit no one to cross until the Agent should return, and sent the Indian boy Tom over to notify him what was transpiring. He soon returned, accompanied by the Judge, who still refused to permit Tom to point out the murderers.
While Steele was urgently insisting that the Agent should use his influence to procure the guilty Indians, the keen eyes of Jack observed two Indians at a distance, going over the hills in the direction of Klamath Lake. These Indians were followed shortly by another, who proved to be Scarface. The first two were soon identified by Jack as the two they were in pursuit of. The Indians remaining on this side, seeing that the fugitives were discovered in their flight, began immediately to prepare for battle by endeavoring to hide behind trees. Steele ordered his men to intercept them in the move, as he had the advantage of the timber. At this juncture, Martin Angel, a citizen of Rogue River Valley, interceded, and the Indians that were left on this side of the river (the chiefs had all crossed over) agreed to deliver up their arms to him and go into a log house and remain prisoners until they should send after and bring back the fugitives. Mr. Angel undertook to get them into the house, but as soon as they had passed Steele's men they ran to gain shelter behind some large pine trees hard by, and had they succeeded, the little party of whites would have been exposed to fire without any show of shelter. The orders were given to fire on them, which was promptly responded to by the men, and the fight immediately became general. The Indians soon retreated, and the volunteers followed them to the water's edge, killing thirteen of their number. Steele soon discovered that Lamerick's men had not crossed the river, and the Indians, who were securely sheltered by the underbrush on the opposite side, were pouring in a heavy fire on his men, ordered a halt. He also discovered Lamerick and his men marching in the direction of the settlements for the purpose of protecting exposed families against the threatened outbreak of the Indians. Steele immediately returned to where he left his two prisoners and learned from the guard that the Indians had made a charge for the purpose of releasing them, and that they had shot one after he had run about fifty paces, and they were shooting at the other in the river. He was brought down by a shot from Mr. Steele's pistol just as he came out on the bank on the opposite side of the river.
The Indians on the opposite bank, discovering so few men left to meet them, made an effort to cut them off by throwing a body of warriors into a chaparral thicket through which they had to pass. Their plans in this were thwarted by the timely arrival of Mr. J. Lackey, who was hastening forward to render assistance. He met the Indians as they were entering the thicket and shot and killed the foremost one, which so disconcerted them that they immediately retreated and left the way of retreat open.
News reached them that evening that, during the council, a party of Indians had gone down the river [and] surprised and killed a party of miners. Arrangements were made that on the following night Lamerick should cross and take possession of the lower side of Lower Table Rock and hold the pass and Steele go up the river with his company some twenty-five miles and commence scouring the underbrush along the river and drive the Indians down to Lamerick's company. This movement was a successful one, and before next night they had them all surrounded. They then called for quarter and offered to make peace. Judge Skinner, the Agent, was then sent for, and peace was concluded with old Joe and Sam, which was adhered to until the Galice Creek massacre in December following. Tipsu Tyee, however, remained in the mountains and continued the conflict. Several travelers were killed by him during the operations at Big Bar.
After the treaty was concluded, old Sam informed the volunteers that if the Shasta and Scott River tribes had broken out as he expected, he would not have treated with them, that he had sent a man, asking them to break out, and that he had only talked to give his messenger time to get over and arrange for a general uprising. If he had succeeded, he said he would have killed all the white men and kept the women and horses to themselves. He further said that the Modocs and Klamaths had agreed to kill off all who came into their country, and that it was determined to prevent any more whites from coming in. But the Shastas and Scott Rivers had failed to join them, and they had to give up that important enterprise for a time. Upon inquiry, it was learned that the Indian killed by Bill was the messenger sent over by Sam to arouse the Shastas and Scott Rivers. Very little doubt is entertained that, if he had escaped, a general outbreak would have ensued including all the tribes of Northern California and Southern Oregon.
After the close of the treaty, Steele and his company returned to Yreka. On their arrival they found Capt. Ben. Wright and his company of Indians. He had met the refugees on the Klamath after their escape from Big Bar, captured and taken them to Yreka. In the meantime, the citizens of Yreka had obtained traces of Scarface, who, though not an active participant of the outrages, was known to be the principal instigator in the bloody work. A movement was set on foot and he was intercepted and captured on his way to Salmon River and hanged.
As there was no legal tribunal to try the prisoners captured by Capt. Wright, they were taken over to the mouth of Indian Creek, near where the murder was committed, to be tried by a citizens' jury. In order to give effect to the proceedings and impress the Indians with the fact that only the guilty would be punished, the Shastas were called together to witness the trial and its results. Upon the prisoners being examined, it appeared from their confessions that one only was directly guilty. As it was hard to make the Indians understand why an accessory should be punished, it was decided to hang the principal and set the other free. The sentence was executed in accordance with the decision. The Indians expressed themselves satisfied and peace was restored.
Ashland Tidings, August 23, 1878, page 1
A Bloody List, or the Sacrifice That Brought Peace
to Southern Oregon and Northern California.
We give below the list of murders so far as we have any account of them, giving names and dates where we have them. It will be seen that many murders are referred to without names or dates. Persons knowing particulars in references to any name or names, or dates or circumstances attending any of these murders or any murders not herein enumerated, would confer a favor by forwarding an account of the same to this office, where they will be put in a shape for permanent preservation.
In 1834, Capt. Smith's party of thirty men, killed near the mouth of Umpqua River.
In June 1835, Geo. Gay, Dan'l. Miller, Ed. Barns, Dr. Baily, Mr. Sanders, John Turner, John Woodworth and "Irish Tom" were attacked near the mouth of Foots Creek, on Rogue River, and Miller, Barns, Sanders and "Tom" were killed, and the other four wounded.
In August 1838, a party of "Oregonians" driving cattle from California were attacked on the same place above named, and Mr. Gay was wounded.
In the fall of 1846, a sick immigrant was killed near Lost River.
In the summer of 1850, eleven men were attacked at Port Orford and ten of their number killed. A brief account of this affair has already been given in the Tidings.
In August 1850, Sprink and Cashing were murdered on Klamath River.
In January 1851, James Sloan, ------ Janalshan, ------ Bender, and Blackburn were killed at Blackburn's ferry, Klamath River. The death of the latter has been disputed.
In May 1851, four miners, names unknown, were murdered at different times between Rogue River and Grave Creek, and Wm. Mosier and ------ Reaver or Reavis were killed near Yreka.
On June 13th, 1851, ------ Dilley, a packer, was killed near the present site of Phoenix. His companion, Virgil Quivy, made his escape.
In August 1851, Cornelius Doherty, Jeremiah Ryan, John Holland, J. P. Pepper and P. Murphy were murdered near the mouth of the Coquille River. A graphic account of this affair has already been given in the Tidings, from the diary of Capt. L. L. Williams, one of the survivors.
In October 1851, ------ Moffit, a drover, was killed near Willow Springs.
On June 2nd, 1852, Calvin Woodman was killed in Scott's Valley, an account of which has recently been given in the Tidings.
In the same month, Col. James. Q. Freaner ("Mustang" of Mexican War notoriety), John Brando, ------ Jackson, ------ Warren and a Mexican known as "Adobe John" were murdered in Pitt River Valley.
About the same time, a man supposed to be one Lockwood, and three Mexicans, all packers, were killed near Sugar Loaf Mountain, on the old trail between Yreka and Shasta City. A German was murdered at the same place, two days after, and his partner escaped to Yreka.
In August 1852, ------ Coats, John Ormsby, James Long, Felix Martin, ------ Wood, and thirty-four others, whose names are unknown to the writer, were murdered on the Southern Oregon immigrant road by Modoc Indians.
In December 1852, Wm. Grendage, Peter Hunter, ------ Bruner, ------Palmer, Wm. Allen, two brothers Bacon, and one other, whose name is unknown, were murdered near the mouth of Galice Creek.
In May or June 1853, an American and a Mexican, miners, names unknown to the writer, were murdered near Cow Creek.
On Aug. 4th, 1853, Edward Edwards, a farmer living within six miles of Jacksonville, was killed.
On Aug. 5th, 1853, Thos. Willis was murdered just as he was entering Jacksonville.
On Aug. 6th, 1853, Richard Nolan and another man, whose name is unknown to the writer, were killed on Jackson Creek.
On Aug. 17th, 1853, John Gibbs, Wm. Hodgings, Brice Whitmore and Hugh Smith were killed by Rogue River Indians. This affair occurred within the farm of Judge Tolman, four miles above Ashland.
On Oct. 6th, 1853, Jas. Kyle was murdered within two miles of Fort Lane.
In June 1854, Hiram Hulon, J. Clark, J. Oldfield and Westly Maden were murdered in the Siskiyou Mountains.
On April 15th, 1854, Edward Phillips was murdered on Applegate.
On June 15th, 1854, Dan'l. Gage was murdered in the Siskiyou Mountains.
On June 24, 1854, ------ McAmy was killed near DeWitt's ferry, on Klamath River.
Thos. O'Neal was killed about the same time as McAmy.
Sometime in June, or the first of July, John Crittenden, John Badger, Alexander Sawyer and ------ Wood were killed at Gravely Ford, on the Southern Oregon immigrant road.
In September 1854, ------ Stewart, of Corvallis, was murdered on the middle immigrant road.
On Nov. 2nd, 1854, Alfred French was murdered near Crescent City. Mr. French was at one time connected with the Chronicle at Independence, Mo.
On May 8th, 1855, ------ Hill, a miner on Indian Creek, Siskiyou County, Cal. was killed.
On June 1st, 1855, Jerome Dyar and Daniel McKaw were murdered on the road between Jacksonville and Illinois Valley.
On June 27th, 1855, ------ Philpot was murdered near the place last mentioned.
On July 28th, 1855, ------ Peters, a miner, was killed near Yreka.
On July 28th, 1855, Wm. Hennessey, Edward Parrish, Austin W. Gay, Peter Hignight, John Pollock, four Frenchmen and two Mexicans, names unknown, were killed on Buckeye Bar, Klamath River.
On Sept. 2nd, 1855, Granville M. Keene was killed near the head of Rogue River Valley. About this time, Mrs. Clark and her son, of Yamhill County, were killed by Tillamook Indians.
On September 24, 1855, Calvin Fields and John Cunningham were killed on the road between Jacksonville and Yreka.
On Sept. 25th, 1855, Samuel Warner was killed not far from where Fields and Cunningham were.
On Oct. 9th, 1855, the bloodiest day in the history of Rogue River Valley, Mrs. J. Wagoner, Mary Wagoner, Mr. and Mrs. K. Jones, Mr. and Mrs. Hines, their two children, Geo. W. Harris, Frank A. Freed, Wm. Givin, Jas. W. Cartwright, ------ Powell, Bunch, ------ Fox, ------ Hamilton, ------ White and probably several others were killed between the mouth of Evans ferry and Grave Creek. On the same day, Hudson and Wilson, packers, were killed between Crescent City and Indian Creek.
On Oct. 16th, 1855, Holland Baily was killed on Cow Creek.
On Nov. 16th, 1855, Chas. Scott and Theodore Snow, miners, were killed on the road between Yreka and Scott's Bar.
On Feb. 23d, 1856, Indian Agent Ben. Wright, John Poland, H. Brown, E. W. Howe, ------ Wagoner, Barney Castle, Geo. McClosky, ------ Lara, W. R. Tulus, Jas. Seroc and two sons, ------ Smith, ------- Warner, John Geisel and three children, S. Heidrich, Pat McCullough and four others whose names are unknown to the writer were murdered near the month of Rogue River.
On March 21st, 1856, Whiting and Bell, traders, were murdered near Port Orford.
In June 1856, Chas. Green and Thos. Stewart were murdered on McKenzie Creek, near Fort Jones.
In Jan. 1857, Harry Lockheart, Z. Rogers, Adam Boles, D. Bryant and a German called "John" were murdered in Pitt River Valley.
That the foregoing is but a partial list is evident when it is known that only a few persons have ever interested themselves in procuring it.
Ashland Tidings, August 30, 1878, page 1
Attempt to Outrage a White Woman by Indian Joe--
Pursuit of Lieut. Bonnycastle of Fort Jones--
Murder on the Siskiyou Mountains--
Death of Tipsu Tyee--Fight at Klamath Ferry etc.
On the 12th day of May, 1854, an outrage was attempted on a white woman in the absence of her husband by an Indian called "Joe," of the Shastas. His fiendish design was prevented by the heroic defense made by the woman, which kept back the villain until the approach of some white men, when he fled. Information was at once dispatched by an Indian to Lieut. Bonnycastle, who was in command at Fort Jones. Lieut. Hood was immediately ordered to take a small detachment of troops and demand of the Shasta chief, Bill, the unconditional surrender of "Joe," that he might be punished.
Lieut. Hood, in company with A. M. Roseburg, Indian Agent, met the chief and made known the demand. Bill expressed great indignation at "Joe" for the crime he had committed, but made a determined effort to extract a promise that in case he should give him up that he should not be hanged. But as Lieut. Hood's orders required an unconditional surrender, Bill was constrained after much hesitation to agree to give up the culprit in two days.
Three days having passed without a surrender, Lieut. Bonnycastle left Ft. Jones on the 16th of May with all his force for the purpose of compelling the surrender of Joe. On reaching Yreka, the command was visited by two of the principal Indians of the Scott's Valley band, who expressed themselves very anxious that Joe should be surrendered, and at the same time renewing their endeavor to obtain assurance that Joe should not be hanged. Bonnycastle still refused, giving as his reason, in the usual contemptuous style of the military officers of that day, that he intended to turn him over to the civil authorities, and that he did not expect that they would be punished according to law. The Lieutenant then informed the chief that if he was given up before he arrived at Klamath River, that he would return to the fort satisfied, but if he was compelled to cross the river he would hold the tribe responsible, and would engage the services of a large band of Des Chutes Indians to aid him in pursuing and punishing the tribe.
Early on the morning of the next day, the forces moved forward without holding further communications with the Indians, although solicited to do so. When they had proceeded about ten miles, they were overtaken by Tolo, then known as "Old Man," an ex-chief of the Shastas, who was very anxious that Lieut. Bonnycastle should go and see that the woman had not been hurt. It was with some difficulty that they were made to understand that the attempt at crime was to be punished as well as successful perpetration.
"Old Man," despairing of procuring a promise of immunity for old Joe, procured a promise that the troops would await his return the next day, promising in turn that they would go to the camp of the Shastas, in the mountains, and obtain and deliver up the fugitive. The troops camped that night at Willow Springs, as agreed on with "Old Man," and proposed to remain at that place until the evening of the next day, so as to give the Indians ample time to fulfill their promise. But just at dark, however, a messenger arrived from Cottonwood with information that a pack train had been attacked at noon that day, and one of two men had been killed, and the other barely escaping. This was known to be the country infested by Tipsu Tyee, and no doubts were entertained of its being his work.
Lieut. Bonnycastle's promise to "Old Man" to await his return on the next day, and the necessary preparation it required for a campaign in the mountains, delayed him until noon the next day. The Shastas not arriving up to that hour, the troops started, leaving their pack train under guard. Each man carried one blanket and ten days' rations of bread and pork. In the meantime, Lieut. Hood was dispatched with a small escort to inform Sam-testis, the chief of the Des Chutes, of the murder on the mountain, and obtain his assistance.
On the morning of the 18th, Lieut. Hood overtook his command at the point where the murder had been committed, with thirty-eight well-armed and well-mounted Des Chutes Indians, anxious to aid in the capture of Tipsu. These Indians having made a long and rapid march, it was deemed advisable to lay by that day and let them rest and their horses graze.
At daylight on the 19th the command set out on the trail of Tipsu, marching that day a distance of twenty-five miles over a very rough country. The Des Chutes, being mounted on their hardy ponies, could ride where American horses dared not venture, and the practiced eye of these Indians could detect retreating Indian footmarks that a white man could not have seen. From these signs they discovered that six Indians had been engaged in the murder.
Late in the afternoon they reached a point where the signs indicated that the Indians had recently encamped. The command immediately halted and sent out their Indian spies who, after being gone a short time, returned and reported that two Indians had gone off to the northward, up the valley, with the mules taken from the packers, and the other four, with seven horses stolen from some drovers, two nights before had gone in the direction of the cave on the Klamath River, and that one Indian had been traced going up the valley quite recently, apparently following those with the mules. This Indian they believed to be from some adjacent tribe, who had come to visit the camp where the troop were halted, and finding it deserted was making his way home.
The direction taken by the Indians induced Lieut. Bonnycastle to believe that the Shastas had participated in the murder, and he determined to pursue and chastise them. Pursuing their trail until nightfall they encamped, and at daylight next morning they took up their line of march toward the Cave. About ten o'clock, the Des Chutes scouts discovered the Shasta camp and returned with the information. The troops at once pushed forward in the hope of engaging them before they reached their stronghold.
On reaching the brink of a tall bluff opposite a similar bluff on which the Shastas were camped, the troops were hailed by an American who informed them that Capt. Goodall was with the Shastas and desired to speak with Lieut. Bonnycastle. Capt. Goodall and three other men, who were with him, crossed over to the troops and informed them that the Shastas were very anxious to remain at peace, and that the Indian Joe had been brought into the camp at Willow Creek two hours after the troops left that point. Capt. Goodall further informed them that Tipsu had come into the Shasta camp about thirty-six hours before and informed them of his murder on the mountain and proposed that they should join them in a war of extermination on the whites. The Shastas, knowing well the state of feeling already existing among the citizens, and having already had some experience with the volunteers, declined to accept their offer, and for the purpose of courting the good will of the whites set on Tipsu and his men, killing him, his son and his son-in-law, the fourth making his escape, and was, doubtless, the Indian whose footmarks were discovered following the two Indians with the mules.
When Joe was brought into Willow Springs and finding the troops gone, he was taken to Yreka, where he was kept two days, at the end of which time two Indians made their appearance bearing the scalps of Tipsu and his son, and soliciting Capt. Goodall's interference to prevent the troops from attacking their band, as they had no doubt that they would be led to their camp by the tracks of Tipsu and his men. Capt. Goodall immediately procured the authority of the Indian agent and went to the Shasta camp, taking Joe with him.
After hearing the statement of Capt. Goodall, Lieut. Bonnycastle sent Lieut. Hood to camp, and he proceeded to the Shasta camp, accompanied by Capt. Goodall and his men, chief Sem-tes-tie and two or three others. They were received by the Shastas with demonstrations of friendship and confidence.
After the talk with the Shasta Indians the Lieut. left Joe in charge of Capt. Goodall to take him to Yreka, and taking with him the horses the Shastas had taken from Tipsu, he joined his command and set out on his return, camping that night at the Klamath and next day moving on beyond Yreka. Capt. Goodall also returned to Yreka on the same day but for some cause had left Joe behind.
In the meantime the citizens, seeing that Joe was not with the troops, and failing to get any satisfactory explanation from the military authorities, who seemed to think it beneath their dignity to communicate with a citizen, determined to take the matter into their own hands and avenge the atrocity committed by Joe.
Capt. Goodall, however, was sent back, accompanied by Chief Bill under authority of the agent to bring in Joe, and after arriving at the Shasta camp persuaded all the Indians in camp to accompany him to Yreka, as he was aware that the agent was desirous of having them return to Scott's Valley. On the morning of the 24th, the Indians, numbering in all, including women and children, some sixty, started out with Capt. Goodall for Yreka. On the first day they reached Klamath ferry and encamped some two hundred yards above. By this time, a company of volunteers, under the command of Capt. E. M. Geiger and the Deschutes chief with his men, arrived at the ferry, and seeing the Indians and recognizing among them Indian Joe, they at once attacked them and a lively fight ensued, wherein Chief Bill was severely wounded and two Indians killed. The loss on the side of the whites was one man by the name of McKaney killed. The Indians escaped to the chaparral and secreted themselves and kept up an occasional firing toward the camp of the volunteers. Before dark that evening the Indians came opposite the ferry house and opened a fire on it; fortunately, however, they did no damage.
Had it not been for the arrogance of the military authorities who declined to communicate with civilians because, as they supposed, they wore blue shirts, or could they have known the course that was being pursued by the authorities, this unfortunate affair could never have occurred.
Ashland Tidings, September 6, 1878, page 1
The hamlet of Galice, Oregon, circa 1930
Rogue River War of 1853--Fort Jones
Established in 1852--Murder on Galice Creek.
Murder of Edwards, Wells, Nolan and Others--Organization
of the Volunteer Forces Under Capt. Alden of the U.S. Army.
FIGHT ON TRAIL CREEK--LIST OF KILLED AND WOUNDED, ETC., ETC.
In the autumn of 1852, after Major Fitzgerald had returned from his Modoc campaign, he established the post at Fort Jones, in Scott's Valley. This post, had it been properly garrisoned, would have been the means of saving many lives and much valuable property. As it was, it could do little more than hold the position and excite among the Indians a contempt for the military. At no time could more than twenty men be sent out, and the Indians were not slow to discover its inefficiency, and matters from day to day continued to grow worse. Stock was driven off, cattle shot down whenever they chanced to stray beyond the settlements, and murder was by no means uncommon. In December 1852, eight men, viz.: Wm. Grendage, Peter Hunter, ------ Bruner, ------ Palmer, Wm. Allen, two brothers by the name of Bacon, and one other whose name is unknown to the writer, who were mining near the mouth of Galice Creek, on lower Rogue River, were missed from their claims, and suspicions of foul play were entertained. Some weeks afterwards, "Taylor," chief of the Galice band of Indians, came to Vannoy's ferry on Rogue River, accompanied by a number of his men, for the purpose of trading. They, exhibiting a larger amount of gold dust than it was usual for Indians to have, were suspicioned of obtaining it by some foul means. They were questioned as to the whereabouts of these men. They stated in reply that they were washed off of an island where they were camped by high water, and all drowned. Their explanation and manner led to a strong belief that these Indians had murdered the lost miners. An investigation led to the discovery that Taylor and his band had murdered the entire party. He and some of his head men were arrested by the citizens, and as there were no courts yet organized in that part of the territory they were brought before a citizens' jury, tried, convicted and sentenced to be hanged. Finding that the decree of the court was about to be executed, and meeting no possible chance of escape, they related the particulars of the case themselves, and boasted of the part they had taken in the murder and robbery. They gave a minute account of the manner in which they tortured their victims after they had taken [them] captive. Stabbing them in numerous places with knives and burning them with firebrands, they said, "just to see them jump."
This summary justice dealt out to "Taylor" had the effect to somewhat check for the time being depredations of the Indians north of the Siskiyou Mountains, and they became more profuse in their professions of friendship to the whites. These professions, however, proved only a blind under which these same Indians matured plans and collected munitions of war for a renewal of hostilities on a larger scale. By resorting to this ruse, they were enabled to augment their forces from neighboring tribes and form alliances unsuspected by the whites. In the meantime, being allowed access to the premises of the settlers, they procured more or less guns and pistols by theft and otherwise; and also to accumulate considerable ammunition. In those days, all the tea brought into the country was put up in lead caddies, which, when emptied, were thrown out with the rubbish, and from this source the Indians collected a very abundant supply of lead, and through a few unprincipled dealers they procured a large amount of powder.
A few of the more experienced frontiersmen, who had closely watched the movements of the Indians, saw many things in those movements to arouse their distrust. Signal fires were frequently seen in the distant mountains; the numbers in each camp were continually being increased, strange Indians, evidently from other tribes, were frequently seen at the camps, and occasionally in town and in the settlements, accompanied by some of the head men of the Rogue Rivers. For the most part, however, the people resisted under a feeling of security, relying on the good promises of the Indians, who were lavish in their declarations of friendship.
Towards the latter part of the spring of 1853, the Indians began to show a more aggressive disposition. They frequently visited houses in the absence of the men and demanded food and other articles of the women, and by their threatening manner frequently succeeded in procuring their demands. War dances were frequently heard in their camps at a late hour in the night, and their whole intercourse with the whites was assuming a haughty attitude, which foreshadowed evil. Many of the leading citizens, however, still placed implicit confidence in a continuation of their friendship.
In June, a band of Indians, probably belonging to the Galice Creek tribe, attacked a miner's cabin in the vicinity of Cow Creek, and two men, an American and a Mexican, were murdered and all their valuables carried away. These murders, being so remote from the settlements, created but little alarm amongst the majority of settlers, who argued that it was no indication of a general hostility but was a mere robbery and murder for the sake of gain, and was to be looked on as having no more bearing on the Indian question than would a like offense committed by white men.
On the 4th day of August, a thrill of alarm was occasioned by the murder of Edward Edwards, a farmer, living about two and a half miles below Phoenix on the east side of Bear Creek. While he was absent, a party of Indians secreted themselves in some underbrush near his house, and on his return at noon they shot and killed him, and after pillaging his house fled to the mountains.
After this murder there were those yet who claimed that it was only the work of a few desperadoes intent on spoils and was not from any general understanding among the Indians. These suppositions, however, were soon dissipated. On a day following, Aug. 5th, Thos. Wills, of the firm of Wills & Kyle, engaged in the merchandising business in Jacksonville, was shot and mortally wounded just as he was entering that town. This murder was followed on the next day, Aug. 6th, by the murder of two miners on Jackson Creek, one mile from Jacksonville, one by the name of Richard Nolan and one whose name is unknown.
In the meantime, the Indians under chief "Sam" were rapidly concentrating in a strong position north of upper Table Rock, and the country had become thoroughly alarmed and several volunteer companies raised to keep the Indians in check until military aid could be procured at Fort Jones, that being the only military post in the country. To this end, messengers were dispatched who arrived at the post at noon on the 8th, two days after the last murder. Six hours after the arrival of the messengers, Capt. B. R. Alden, 4th U.S. Infantry, with a detachment of twenty men, all his available force, was on the march for the scene of difficulty, where he arrived on the 10th.
The time up to the arrival of Capt. Alden was occupied in defensive preparations, the volunteers guarding the outskirts of the settlements and escorting exposed families to places of greater security. Stockades were constructed in various parts of the valley, wherein families were taken for safety.
On the arrival of Capt. Alden with only twenty men, it was found necessary to organize the forces and increase the number of volunteers. Accordingly, headquarters were established at a point now known as Camp Stuart, near the present site of Manzanita [Camp Stuart was originally in "Manzanita"--the original name of the Central Point area--before being moved to the present site of Phoenix], where those of the volunteers who could be spared from guarding the settlements organized into a regiment and elected Capt. Alden Col. of the volunteers, and were formally mustered into the United States service during the war.
The regiment consisted of six companies of volunteers, commanded respectively by Captains J. Rhodes, J. P. Goodall, J. K. Lamerick, John S. Miller, Robert L. William and Owen, and the detachment of regulars, under Capt. Alden. When the forces were organized, scouts were sent out in every direction for the double purpose of protecting the settlements and observing the movements of the Indians. On the 16th of August the companies of Lamerick, Goodall and Miller were sent out to guard the passes back of the Table Rocks, while Capt. Rhodes and a detachment of Capt. Goodall's company, under Lieut. Ely, were sent above to scour the country and drive the Indians down where they would fall into the hands of the forces stationed back of the Rocks. Captain Rhodes went immediately to the point where "Sam's" forces had been encamped a few days before, but discovered that they had all gone. On the 17th of August, Lieut. Ely's command, consisting of 22 men, proceeded up the river until they struck Trail Creek near the mouth, and following this stream up a short distance, halted for dinner. They picketed their horses in a small grassy cove nearby and placed a guard in position to watch them and the camp. The guard, concluding that they could safely leave their post for a short time, joined the rest of the men at dinner. They had not, however, been long in camp before the whole party was fired on from a dense body of willows that skirted the creek, killing six of their number and wounding four. Recovering their guns, they immediately fled to the brow of a hill nearby, where they found a more tenable position, and where they were able to hold the enemy in check. In this position, they were soon surrounded by the Indians, rendering retreat impossible. One of their number managed to pass the lines unobserved, under cover of timber and underbrush, and made his way to headquarters for reinforcements.
Meanwhile, the Indians on horseback, some of them mounted on horses belonging to the volunteers, kept up a steady fire, charging and retreating alternately for the purpose of reloading. In time, however, assistance came and the Indians fled. The volunteers lost no men after they had gained their position on the hill.
The killed in this engagement were Ishem P. Keath, Frank Ferry, Asa Colborn, Alfred Douglas, L. Stockting and Win [Wm.?] Neff. The wounded were Lieut. Simeon Ely, Zebulon Sheets, John Alban and James Carrol.
Ashland Tidings, September 13, 1878, page 1
Discovery of Diggings on Josephine Creek in 1852--
Prospectors Besieged by Indians--First Settlement of Illinois Valley.
Early in the spring of 1852, five men whose names, save that of James Coy, are unknown to the writer, left Jacksonville on a prospecting expedition over toward the coast. They crossed over to Applegate, followed down that stream for some distance, and then crossed the mountains into Illinois Valley. They discovered some good diggings on one of the forks of the Illinois River, known as Josephine Creek. They followed this stream up until they struck the right-hand fork, now known as Canyon Creek, which subsequently proved to be very rich. Three miles above this junction, they found the remains of two white men, who had evidently been murdered. No clue could be found as to who these murdered men were, or by whom they were killed. There could be but little doubt, however, that they met their fate like many others in those days, by the hands of the savages. The party becoming short of provisions and knowing that they were in constant danger of attack from the Indians, determined to return and report their discovery and thereby induce a number of miners to return with them, to protect themselves against the savages. Their first camp on their return was near the mouth of Josephine Creek. While in this camp, they were attacked by a large force of Indians, but as their camp had been chosen for this probable emergency, they immediately took shelter between three large logs nearby, which lay in such a manner as to protect them from every side. They strengthened their position by every means at hand, and were enabled to keep the savages at bay by the direct fire from their rifles, the Indians being armed only with bows and arrows.
When night came on, one of the party crawled through the enemy's lines and set out for Jacksonville to procure reinforcements. During the entire night, the little band stood by their arms, not daring to relax their vigilance for a moment. Morning came and revealed an increased force of the enemy, who never tired in renewing their efforts to surprise or storm the little citadel, but was as surely beaten back by the unerring rifles of the miners. Thus for three days and nights they kept back the continually increasing numbers of the foe. Early in the second day it was found that their bullets were liable to run short. For the purpose of economizing their lead, Mr. Coy laid aside his gun, which was of very large calibre, and ran up the bullets for the smallest gun they had. By this means, they considerably increased their number of shots.
The Indians seemed never to grow weary or discouraged in their efforts to capture the little band. Crawling up within 60 or 100 yards, they would send in a cloud of arrows, when a few well-directed shots from the rifles would send them howling back, only to renew the attack from some other direction.
About ten o'clock on the third day, the Indians suddenly withdrew, and as they departed shouted that they wanted to be friends. It was not long before the sudden change in their tactics was explained. Thirty-five mounted men came dashing down the mountain to the relief of the heroic little band. The messenger had managed to reach Jacksonville and make his report, and a company was immediately raised to come to the rescue, and the four weary miners once more stood erect, without the fear of being shot down. Their supply of ammunition was well nigh exhausted. Mr. Coy had only eleven balls out of 116 he had before the fight, all the rest of the party being in about the same situation.
These thirty-five men, finding the mines abundant and rich, located and went to work, sending back to Jacksonville for provisions and tools. This was the first permanent settlement of the Illinois Valley.
Ashland Tidings, September 20, 1878, page 1
Murder at Alberding & Dunn's--
Affair of Lieut. B. B. Griffin on Applegate.
On receipt of the news of the murder of Edward Edwards, on the 4th of August, a volunteer company was found in the upper part of Rogue River Valley, consisting [of] all of twelve men under the leadership of Isaac Hill with headquarters at the home of Alberding & Dunn (Fred. Alberding and Pat Dunn), owned at present by Gen. J. C. Tolman.
In order to ascertain the intention of the Indians, Capt. Hill on the 6th of Aug. proceeded with his command to the Indian camp situated on Bear Creek, about five and a half miles from the present site of Ashland. It was intended by the volunteers, if possible, to have a friendly talk with the Indians, but if they showed signs of hostility to attack them, as they were [a] standing menace to the upper settlement, and were, without doubt, interested in the murder of Edwards on the 4th of August. The volunteers divided therefore into three parties, one going down the creek, one up, and the other going directly across in the direction of the Indian camp. The object of this move was to prevent their escape in case they attempted to do so. The party going up the creek, consisting of Pat Dunn, Capt. Thos. Smith, Wm. Taylor and Andrew B. Carter, arrived at the Indian camp a little in advance of the others, and first attracted the attention of the Indians. The latter immediately began stringing their bows, and making other preparations for battle. The other parties, coming up and seeing their movements, immediately fired on the Indians, and a general fight ensued. In the first fire by the Indians Pat Dunn and Andrew B. Carter were severely wounded. The wounded men were conveyed to Alberding & Dunn's house and the fighting kept up for some time, killing six Indians and taking two or three warriors and a number of squaws prisoners, who were taken to headquarters and put under guard, to be kept as hostages for the future good conduct of the Indians.
In the meantime, a number of settlers, consisting of Fred. Heber and wife, Robert Wright and wife, Saml. Grabb, wife and five children, Wm. Taylor, R. B. Hargadine, John Gibbs, M. B. Morris, R. Tungate and Morris Howell, had collected at the house of Alberding & Dunn for mutual protection against the Indians. On the 13th of August they were reinforced by a company of emigrants, consisting of A. G. Fordice, wife and three children, J. Kennedy, Hugh Smith, Brice Whitmore, Ira Arrowsmith, Wm. Hodgins wife and the children, all of Iowa, and Geo. Barnett of Illinois.
The house not being large enough to accommodate all, most of the families camped outside and slept in wagons and tents. Early on the morning of Aug. 17th before these people were up, the Indians, having crawled up within a short distance of the house unobserved by the guard, fired on the sleeping camp, instantly killing Hugh Smith and mortally wounded John Gibbs, Wm. Hodgins and Brice Whitmore, and slightly wounding A. G. Fordice and M. B. Morris, the former in two places. The object of this attack was evidently the rescue of the prisoners, and was so understood by them beforehand. The hostiles fled accompanied by the prisoners, who broke away in the first fire. Before leaving, however, they set fire to a lot of barley belonging to Alberding & Dunn, which was thereby totally destroyed. During the fight several horses and mules were wounded.
After this affair, the families and wounded men were removed for safety to the residence of Jacob Wagner on Wagner's Creek, the place now owned by Mr. Horace Root. At this place a stockade was erected, where the settlers were able to protect themselves against any force of hostiles that could be brought against them.
By this time the families of the settlers in the various parts of the country were forted up, and companies organized for the purpose of home guard, and the companies that had been raised and mustered into the service of the United States under Capt. Alden, as Colonel of Volunteers, were disposed of so as to render all the protection possible.
AFFAIR OF LIEUT. B. B. GRIFFIN ON APPLEGATE.
Prior to the fight on Trail Creek by Lieut. Ely, an account of which has already been given, a detachment of 20 men from Capt. John [F.] Miller's company, under command of Lieut. B. B. Griffin, was dispatched to the Applegate country to protect the settlers and watch the movements of the Indians in that vicinity. The detachment struck main Applegate Creek at the mouth of Little Applegate on the 8th day of Aug. and, proceeding up that stream to the mouth of Sterling Creek, came on an encampment of Indians, who were evidently hostile and prepared for battle. An attack was at once made, and after a sharp engagement they were routed and their camp and equipage destroyed. In this fight George Anderson received a severe wound in the hip, from the effect of which he never entirely recovered.
Lieut. Griffin then returned down the creek to a place then known as Spencer's ranch, three miles below the mouth of Little Applegate, and camped for the night. On the morning of the 9th, he took up his line of march down main Applegate, as far as the mouth of Williams Creek, and turned his course up that stream and soon discovered an abundance of fresh Indian sign. The Indians were moving up the creek, and the volunteers followed their trail single file, expecting to be attacked. When they had arrived at a point about opposite the present site of Williamsburg, they were fired on by the Indians, who were ambushed in the thick underbrush that lined the old Indian trail which they were following. The only damage done by the first fire was wounding some of their horses. On the second fire, which followed quickly, Frank Garnett was killed, and Lieut. Griffin severely wounded in the right leg. This engagement lasted three-quarters of an hour; the volunteers, having scarcely a tree to protect them, stood their ground against four or five to one, the enemy being sheltered by the thick timber, and almost hid by the heavy undergrowth in which they had chosen their position. At length the Indians began to flank the volunteers, and several of the men were left afoot, their horses having been shot from under them; it was deemed advisable to withdraw. The Indians afterwards reported three of their number killed and two or three wounded. Among their wounded was one of old John's Indians, called "Bill," whom, it is said, Gen. Lane at one time complimented for being as brave a man as he ever met under any circumstances.
Ashland Tidings, September 27, 1878, page 1
Arrival of Gen. Lane--Vigorous Movements of Volunteers--From the time of the outbreak until a thorough organization of the volunteers and home guards, frequent collisions occurred between the Indians and small detachments of the volunteers. On August 14th, a detachment of five men, consisting of W. G. T'Vault, David Birdseye, S. W. Wall, Wm. R. Rose and John R. Harden, were attacked by Indians about one mile north of Willow Springs, in which Rose was killed and Hardin received a wound, of which he died August 18th.
Pursuit of Chief Sam--Preliminaries of a Treaty.
HARDIN AND ROSE KILLED.
GEN. LANE ARRIVES AND TAKES THE FIELD.
On the 21st of August, Gen. Lane arrived in Rogue River Valley, having been commissioned commander of the volunteer forces by Acting Governor Geo. L. Curry. He superseded R. B. Alden 4th U.S. Infantry, who had been elected Colonel of the volunteers. On the 22nd, he took formal command, and after a consultation with Col. Alden and other officers it was determined to make an aggressive movement on the Indians. Accordingly, Gen. Lane divided his available forces into two battalions, sending one, under the command of Col. Alden, up the river to where Lieut. Ely met with his defeat, for the purpose of striking their trail and overtaking them in the mountains, as it was known that they had gone across in the direction of Evans Creek. The other battalion was sent down the river to the mouth of Evans Creek, thence to proceed up that stream to form a junction with Col. Alden, on its upper waters, and to prevent the Indians from returning to the settlements from that direction. The General accompanied Col. Alden's command.
By this movement, the volunteers could safely have their settlements guarded by a few small detachments, as the main body of the Indians were thus cut off from a probability of a return.
Col. Alden's command left Camp Stuart on the 22nd of August, moving up the river to Trail Creek, and following the direction of this stream he struck the Indian trail and encamped for the night.
The Indians, having fired the mountains in their rear, made the advance of the volunteers on the 23d very difficult. The fire in many places had obliterated the Indian trail, and the smoke made traveling very disagreeable. They crossed the mountain, and late in the afternoon of that day struck a branch of Evans Creek. Their horses being very much exhausted, they camped for the night. Early on the morning of the 24th, after they had taken up their line of march, a rifle was heard in advance, which indicated that the Indians were near. Gen. Lane, who was in advance of his command, rode forward, and soon discovered by his ear the hostile camp in a dense forest, and so thick with underbrush as to entirely hide them from view.
The General, now being considerably in advance of his command, halted until they came up and then announced his plan of battle.
A detachment of Capt. Rhode's company, consisting of ten picked men under the command of Lieut. Charles Blair, was sent to turn the enemy's left flank. Col. Alden, with the main force, proceeded to attack them in front. So quiet were their movements, and so utterly unexpected by the Indians was the attack, that their well-directed fire was the first intimation the Indians had of their approach. From the peculiar structure of the ground and the dense underbrush, it was found impracticable to turn the enemy's left, and the flanking party proceeded to engage them on the right. The men were now deployed, taking cover behind trees, and the fight became general.
Gen. Lane was delayed for a short time for the arrival of the rear guards. On their arrival, fifteen men were detailed to guard the horses and camp equipage, and the General took command in person of the remainder, and pushed forward to join his other men. On arriving at the front, he found Col. Alden, who had been shot down early in the fight, dangerously wounded, surrounded by a few of his men.
After examining the ground and finding that the enemy were securely posted behind trees and logs and concealed by underbrush, Gen. Lane immediately passed the order to charge them, and led forward in the movement. When he had reached within thirty yards of their lines, he received a severe wound. Believing the shot to come from the flank, he gave orders to have the line extended so as to prevent the enemy from turning it, and the men were again ordered to cover behind trees. This position they held for three or four hours. Notwithstanding the close proximity of the Indians, occupying as they did an almost impregnable position and greatly outnumbering them, the men acted in the most cool and determined manner.
Gen. Lane, finding himself growing weak from loss of blood, retired to the rear to have his wound examined and dressed. In his absence, the Indians called to the volunteers that they were anxious to have a talk; that they wished to fight no longer; that they desired peace, and expressed a desire to see Gen. Lane. On the return of the General a consultation was held, and the matter of a talk discussed. It was evident they far outnumbered the whites, that they were well armed, and that they held a position that it would be very difficult if not impossible to dislodge them. It was therefore determined to leave it to a vote of all the men present whether to listen to them or make another effort to dislodge them. It was evident that the Indians could have but one or two objects in view; they were either sincere in their desire for peace, as they had no immediate cause to fear defeat, or they were seeking to obtain an advantage. On a vote being taken, less than half the men voted in favor of a talk; but as none voted against it, it was decided in the affirmative.
In accordance with the vote of the men, Gen. Lane, in company with Capt. Goodale and four or five of his men, went to their camp and made a preliminary treaty with the Indians, they agreeing to go on a reservation lying north of Rogue River subsequently known as the Table Rock Reservation.
In this fight John Scarborough was killed and Henry Flesher, Thos. Hay and C. C. Abbott wounded. The latter died of his wounds on the 2nd of Sept. Brig. Gen. J. Lane and Capt. B. R. Alden were also wounded. Capt. Alden died of his wounds two years afterwards.
This was virtually the end of the war of 1853, although in a fight which occurred four days afterwards at Long's ferry, ten miles below the mouth of Evans Creek, between a foraging band of Indians and a detachment of Capt. Owens company, Lieut. Frizzell, who commanded the detachment, and private James Mango were killed.
Shortly after the battle of Evans Creek Capt. A. J. Smith, 1st C. S. Dragoons, arrived with his troops from Port Orford. The negotiations for peace were then concluded, and the metes and bounds of the Table Rock Reservation established. Fort Lane was established on the south side of Rogue River, opposite the lower end of Lower Table Rock, and Capt. Smith put in command. The settlers could now "breathe easy" once more. They could retire at night with some assurance that when they arose in the morning they would not be confronted by a band of howling fiends. They congratulated themselves that the Indian question, so far as Southern Oregon was concerned, was virtually settled. They had implicit confidence in the power of the troops to keep the Indians in check on the reservation, and that power would be wielded by Capt. Smith for the general protection of the country. How sadly these hopes were blasted the sequel will show.
Ashland Tidings, October 4, 1878, page 1 The Evans Creek battle and Table Rock Treaty are also described in the May 16, 1879 entry, below.
Murder of James C. Kyle--Murder on the Lower Rogue River--
Murder of Hulan and Party Near Cottonwood--
Fight at the Cave, etc.
MURDER OF KYLE.
After the establishment of Fort Lane and the close of the war of 1853, the settlers, who had forted up in various parts of the valley, returned to their deserted homes and commenced again their regular avocations. A feeling of great relief prevailed throughout the country, and business soon began to assume its regular channel. Nevertheless, the war had been a serious setback to the whole country. A not inconsiderable amount of stock had been killed or driven off; houses and fences destroyed, and much property stolen. Worst of all, homes had been made desolate and children fatherless.
This feeling of security did not last long; soon another cloud began to lower, and it became evident to the more observant that the storm was not yet over. The Indians were insolent to a degree that indicated that they yet premeditated mischief. On the 6th of October, James C. Kyle was murdered within two miles of Fort Lane by Rogue River Indians belonging to the reservation. Kyle was a merchant doing business in Jacksonville, and was a partner of Thos. Wills, before referred to, who was murdered by the same Indians on the 5th of August of that year. About this time the startling news came that the Indians had commenced depredations on lower Rogue River, and a man by the name of Bell and his partner and a miner called "Jack" was murdered. Robberies and petty depredations became more frequent, and a general uneasiness was felt by the settlers, especially those in the more exposed portions of the country.
MURDER OF HULAN AND PARTY.
About the first of January, 1854, the Indians in the vicinity of Cottonwood, now known as Henley, became very troublesome to the settlers and miners. Besides showing a very insolent disposition, they committed many petty thefts and not infrequently stole stock and drove them to the mountains. On representing the conditions of things to the authorities at Fort Jones, they furnished a small supply of guns and ammunition to the settlers, to be used in home defense.
On or about the 18th of January, a part of Rogue River, Shasta and Modoc Indians stole some horses from the miners on Cottonwood [Creek], and drove them to the mountains. A company was organized to go in pursuit, and if possible recover the stolen stock. While following the trail of the Indians they fell in an ambuscade and Hiram Hulan, J. Clark, J. Oldfield and Wesley Mayden were killed.
A messenger was at once dispatched to Fort Jones to procure assistance from the military. Capt. Judah at once set out for the scene of trouble, with twenty mounted infantry, being all his available force. On arriving at Cottonwood, he immediately set out in pursuit of the Indians. He struck their trail near where the men had been killed, and followed them in the direction of the Klamath River, and soon came onto them fortified in a cave, now well known to mountain men and hunters.
Capt. Judah, in connection with a company of volunteers under command of Capt. Greiger, proceeded to reconnoiter the cave, and found it so strongly fortified that it would be at great expense of life to attempt to dislodge them without artillery. He accordingly withdrew and dispatched Lieut. Crook, accompanied by Mr. D. Sorrel, to Fort Lane for a mountain howitzer. They arrived at the post on the 22nd of Jan., and on the morning of the 23d, Capt. A. J. Smith, accompanied by Lieut. Ogle, set out for Capt. Judah's camp on the Klamath River, some five miles below the cave where the Indians were fortified. Although the distance from Fort Lane did not exceed 45 miles, Capt. Smith occupied three days in making the trip. On the arrival of Capt. Smith, the forces in camp consisted of Capt. Judah's twenty mounted infantry, Capt. Smith's fifteen dragoons and some forty-five volunteers under the command of Capt. Greiger. These forces set out for the cave on the 27th, leaving Capt. Judah sick in camp, with eight regulars and a few volunteers.
The cave is in the side of a perpendicular rock, or palisade of mountain, about three hundred feet above the valley. It is very steep and difficult of access. The approach is from directly in front, so that twenty-five men within the barricade could defend it against the charge of one hundred. Capt. Greiger with seventeen men took position on top of the cave, and Lieut. Bonnycastle, with his command and the remainder of the volunteers, covered the front. The howitzer was placed in the only eligible position and a number of shots fired, which had no other effect than to frighten the Indians into making some overtures for peace. The conditions offered not suiting the volunteers, they objected, and Capt. Smith, although anxious to treat with them, was compelled either to leave the Indians to the mercy of the volunteers or remain and take part in the fight, as they were determined to punish the murderers. He then moved the howitzer to another position, for what purpose was not quite plain, for the elevation was so great that according to his own report "a trench had to be dug to lower the tail of the cannon." From this range it was impossible to throw a shell into the cave. He fired several times, but only two shells struck near the mouth of the cave, and these did no damage whatever.
While the firing was going on Capt. Greiger, who was stationed above the cave, while endeavoring to obtain a position where he could see the effect of the shells was shot and killed by the Indians from the cave. Capt. Greiger was an estimable man and good citizen, and his loss was heavily felt by the community. Night coming on, the firing ceased and the forces camped before the cave. Soon after they had struck camp, Chief Bill, who was in command of the Indians, sent in three squaws to ask for a "talk." The following is the report of the talk as given by Capt. Smith in House Ex. Doc. No. 88, 2nd Session, 35 Cong. Being characteristic of the Indians and also showing the spirit of the military especially so, as to Capt. Smith, it is not deemed out of place in this connection to give it entire.
"Early next morning I went up to the cave, accompanied by a citizen, Mr. Eddy, residing in the vicinity, and heard what the chief had to say; all of which corroborated previous information, and, in addition, his great desire of peace with the whites. He said he had been living on friendly terms with the whites both at Yreka and Cottonwood, but had left the latter place on account of ill treatment of his women. I found only a small band of Shastas in the cave numbering in all not over fifty, and one boy on a visit from some other tribe. They had previously occupied caves higher up the river, but this, being more commodious, furnished them comfortable and secure winter quarters. I directed the chief to remain in the cave for the present, as the ill-disposed portion of the community (the volunteers) would massacre men, women and children if brought out."
He adds: "What justice can be expected of a community (referring to the community of Cottonwood) that will furnish poison and approve of it being administered wholesale to the Indians? Just such characters were the instigators of this affair."
The volunteers, seeing that they could no longer rely on this military, and that a further attempt on their part to bring the murderers to justice would bring on a collision with the regular officers; and as the weather was extremely cold, decided to abandon the undertaking and return home. Before leaving, however, they gathered up nine Indian ponies, and notwithstanding Capt. Smith's threatening protest brought them away, leaving on the 28th of Jan.
Note.--It is not the province of these sketches to enter into a general defense of the citizens against the fanaticism of Gen. Scott and his subordinates during his command on this coast. This will however, occupy a separate chapter at some future time.
Ashland Tidings, October 11, 1878, page 1
Continuation of Hostilities in 1854.
Grand Indian Council on Klamath River, Illinois River, Rogue River
and Modoc Tribes Decide on a War on Extermination--
Volunteers Under Capt. Jesse Walker.
Correction--We learn from B. F. Dowell Esq., who was one of Lieut. Ely's party that we described as being defeated on Trail Creek in 1853, that the location of that fight was at the Little Meadows, ten miles north of Sams Valley; and that it was John F. Miller, and not John S. Miller, who was Capt. of a company in that war.
Persons at any time discovering errors in our sketches would confer a favor by calling our attention to them. But a few years hence and it will be impossible to correct them.
EFFECT OF CAPT. SMITH'S VISIT.
After Capt. A. J. Smith's expedition to the Klamath cave, in January, the Indians remained in their fortified position, according to his instructions, during the cold weather. In February they made their appearance in the settlements, in small bands, and pretended to be exceedingly penitent for past aggressions, and were lavish of their declarations of friendship. This was but a ruse to again obtain the confidence of the whites, the better to enable them to carry out their future programme. In the meantime they were very assiduous in their efforts to procure arms and ammunition, and to this end would scruple at nothing. From their experience with Capt. Smith they felt assured that in case of any collision between them and the whites, it would only be necessary for them to accuse the whites of being the first aggressors, renew their promises, and declare their ardent desire for peace, to procure the protection of the military.
EDWARD PHILLIPS WAS MURDERED
on the 15th of April on Applegate in his own house and his gun and ammunition taken, which was evidently the sole object of this foul deed. A detachment of 16 troops was sent from Fort Lane a distance of 15 miles, and the Indians were compelled to return to their reservation and renew their promise of doing better in the future.
On the 15th day of June Gage & Claymer's pack train was attacked on the Siskiyou Mountain, on the road leading from Jacksonville to Yreka, by a band of Indians, supposed to be Modocs, and Mr. Daniel Gage was killed and the pack train and a valuable lot of merchandise destroyed. In this affair the Indians procured a considerable amount of ammunition. When the news of the murder reached Fort Lane, Lieut. Sweitzer was dispatched with sixteen men to where the murder was committed. After camping one night at the place, he returned and reported "No Indians found."
Shortly after the murder of Gage, nearly all the tribes of Southern Oregon and Northern California met in grand council at a place on Klamath River, some sixteen miles from Fort Jones. This council was convened clandestinely for the purpose of arranging a programme between the various tribes for the purpose of commencing and prosecution [of] a war of extermination against the whites. Had it not been for the influence of E. Steele over the Scott's Valley Indians, the meeting of this council would probably [have] never been known to the whites, at any rate not until the plans had been fully matured and put into execution. Certain of the Scott's Valley chiefs made known to Mr. Steele the fact that the council was to convene, and he immediately communicated it to Judge A. M. Rosborough, at that time Indian Agent for Northern California. Judge Rosborough immediately set about to discover the object of the council. He learned from the Scott's Valley chiefs that runners had been sent to induce them to join the council at a place on Klamath River, called Horse Creek. The Judge, after obtaining all the information possible from the Scott Rivers touching the proposed council, held a consultation with Lieut. Bonnycastle, U.S.A., commanding at Fort Jones, who concurred with him that it would be best to advise the friendly chiefs to attend the council and report the result.
When these chiefs returned from the council they reported the tribes of Illinois River, Rogue River and Upper Klamath River, and their tributaries, represented in the council, and all but themselves were for combining and commencing in concert and indiscriminate slaughter of the whites. They were first importuned to join the war parties, and when they refused positively, they were threatened with extermination by the other tribes, whereupon they withdrew.
The result of this council was that the Scott's Valley and Shasta tribes remained friendly, while the Illinois Valley, Rogue River and Upper Klamath River tribes, with the exception of La Lake's tribe [also spelled Leylek or Lalek], commenced the depredations, which continued until the end of the war of "'55 and '6" in June of the next year.
This state of affairs especially in the Upper Klamath and Modoc country was more alarming in consequence of the incoming immigration, known to be on their way through that country.
The attention of Gov. Davis was called to the impending danger on this route, and he immediately issued orders to Col. John E. Ross, under the date of July 18th, 1854, authorizing him at his discretion to enlist a company of volunteers for the protection of the incoming immigration on the Southern Oregon route.
Under the same date, Quartermaster General C. S. Drew was instructed by the Governor to render all assistance in his power in arming, equipping and subsisting such command. "I am aware," says the Governor in his order to Col. Ross, "of the many embarrassments under which you will labor in raising such a command without a dollar to defray expenses; you will be compelled to rely on the liberality and patriotism of our fellow citizens, who in turn will be compelled to rely on the justness of the general government for their compensation." True to the instinct of the early pioneers, the needed aid was no sooner asked than received, and a company was at once enlisted, and Jesse Walker elected to the command.
Three days after the order to enlist a company was promulgated [and] 75 men rank and file were enlisted, armed and equipped ready for the field. On the 8th of August the commanding Col. issued his orders to Capt. Walker to proceed at once with his company along the Southern Oregon immigrant trail to some suitable place near Clear Lake, or on Lost River in the vicinity of the place where the immigration of 1852 were massacred, where he would establish his headquarters. From this encampment to send out detachments of such numbers as he might deem effective as far as Humboldt River, giving them instructions to collect the immigrants together in as large numbers as convenient, the better to withstand the attacks of the Indians. Capt. Walker was also instructed as far as possible to cultivate the friendship of the Indians, but if necessary for the safety of the immigration to whip and drive them from the road.
Pursuant to the last orders and on even date therewith, Capt. Walker marched with his company from the head of Rogue River Valley, and on the 18th of the same month arrived at the crossing of Lost River. Just ahead of this company on its advance into the hostile country were a party of thirteen citizens from Yreka, who were going to meet some friends and warn them of impending danger. But on their arrival at the place of the massacre of August 1852, they found the Indians in force along the sides of the road, well prepared to resume the bloody work of former years upon the first of the immigration that should come within their reach. This party was attacked by some 200 Indians on the north of Tule Lake, at what was then the sink of Lost River, and compelled to retreat and fall back on the volunteers for protection; several shots were exchanged without any damage to the whites.
When the Yreka party came in, Capt. Walker with sixty men set out for the purpose of charging the hostiles at once, but on arriving in sight of their villages they found it impossible to get their horses within 400 yards of where they were located, on account of the intervening marsh.
The volunteers immediately dismounted and charged on them on foot. Whereupon the Indians immediately fled in great confusion to their canoes, which lined the bank of the lake near their camp, and paddled out on the lake far beyond the reach of a rifle shot, leaving behind them the whole of their camp equipage and provisions which they had in large quantities collected and carefully stored away for winter. One squaw was captured, but was released on the promise that she would tell her people that the volunteers wanted to be friendly and live in peace with them.
Ashland Tidings, October 18, 1878, page 1
The Beginning of the Rogue River War--
The Murder of the Indian Boy, Etc., Etc.
The 5th and 6th days of August, 1853, will long be remembered by the people of Southern Oregon as dark days in their early history. On the 4th, Edward Edwards had been murdered at his home on Stuart's Creek (Bear Creek), and on the 5th, Thomas Wills was killed. The next day, August 6th, Noland was killed in his cabin among the miners on Jackson Creek.
Thos. Wills was killed near the spot where the residence of Hon. A. M. Berry now stands, just at dark. The inmates of the Robinson house, including the writer [apparently J. W. Nesmith], heard the firing followed by the cries and groans of Mr. Wills distinctly. This murder, followed so close after the other, spread consternation throughout the country. The news rapidly spread far and wide, and the miners from Applegate, Foots Creek and the other various mining camps flocked to Jacksonville for safety.
On the 7th of August, the miners captured two Shasta Indians, one on Jackson Creek, and the other on Applegate. These Indians were both in their war paint when caught. They were brought to Jacksonville and on examination it was found that the bullets belonging to one of their guns were the same size of the one with which Noland was killed. There were other facts and circumstances which tendered to identify them as the guilty parties. They were tried by a miners jury and hanged before 2 o'clock the same day. In my opinion they were justly punished.
[In justice to the military authority at Fort Lane, we will add that they assisted in bringing these Indians to justice, and endorsed the action of the citizens in the matter.--Ed. Tidings]
One of the saddest and most inhuman acts of the whole war remains to be told. Late in the evening of the day those Indians were executed, a small innocent boy about nine years old was brought to Jacksonville by three men from Butte Creek, with whom the boy had been living. The poor little boy on being discovered by the miners [was] taken to a place near where David Linn’s cabinet shop is now standing, and near where the scaffold where the two Indians were still hanging. I mounted a log near by, and called the attention of the vast crowd to the solemnity of the act they were about to perpetrate. I called on them to punish the guilty, but to spare the life of the innocent child. While pleading at the top of my voice the crowd gathered around the hangman's tree. Someone called out "what will you do with the boy." I replied, I will take him to a hotel and feed him. I went to him and took him by the hand and started up California Street when Martin Angel came up on horseback and without alighting commenced to harangue the mob against the murderous Indians. He said: "The war was raging all over Rogue River Valley, we have been fighting Indians all day; hang him, hang him; he will make a murderer when he is grown , and would hang you if he had a chance." The mob at once seized the boy and threw a rope around his neck, which I succeeded in cutting twice. I was violently thrown back by an Irishman, of the firm of Miller, Rogers & Co., of the left-hand fork of Jackson Creek. The excitement was so great that I found that my own life was in danger, and I had to withdraw. In a moment more the boy was swinging to a limb. I turned away with a sad heart at this inhuman conduct towards the innocent child, against whom no crime was charged. No mob ever committed a more heartless murder than this. It is only equaled by the murder of two Indian women, and a child two months old, by a private of Capt. Wilkinson's company on Slate Creek on the 7th day of November 1855. The women and child had been taken prisoners and entrusted to this man and one other to guard in the rear of the company as they marched toward Illinois Valley. He wantonly shot them and left them lying by the side of the road; I will add also the murder of "Dick" Johnson and his family in Douglas County.
[There were several other heartless murders committed during the war of '55 and '6 of which we will speak in the course of our sketches.--Ed. Tidings.]
Had Martin Angel remained quiet, I would have saved the boy. As it was he was responsible for his death. Martin Angel was a good neighbor, a kind husband and father and an influential citizen, but an implacable enemy to the whole Indian race. But poor unfortunate man! he at last came to his death at the hands of the Indians. On the 2nd day of January, 1856, during the war of '55 and '6, he was in search of Indians between Jacksonville and Applegate, and while riding down Poorman's Creek, he was shot by Indians and instantly killed.
The murderers of Edwards and Kyle were tried in the district court at Jacksonville on the 7th and 8th of January, 1854. They were found guilty and hanged on the following Friday, being the 10th day of January.
The following particulars of the trial of those murderers are gleaned from the records of the court.
The officers of the court were Hon. O. B. McFadden, Judge; C. Sims, Prosecuting Attorney; Matthew G. Kennedy, Sheriff; and Lycurgus Jackson, Clerk.
The grand jury presented indictments against Indian Tom and George for the murder of James C. Kyle.
They were brought into court and arraigned, and having no counsel, the court appointed D. B. Braunan and P. P. Prim to defend them; these attorneys being their choice. Louis Dennis was appointed, in connection with Mr. Culver, to act as interpreters to the court and jury. Indian George was first put on trial, and the following jury was empaneled to try the case: S. D. Vandyke, Edward McCartie, T. Gregard, A. Davis, Robt. Hargadine, A. D. Lake, James Hamlin, Sam'l. Hall, Frederick Alberding, F. Heber and R. Henderson. After hearing the evidence in the case, arguments of counsels and charge of the judge, they rendered a verdict of murder in the first degree. On motion of the prosecuting attorney the court proceeded to pronounce the following sentence as the judgment of the court.
You, Indian George, have been indicted and tried for one of the highest offenses known to the law, to wit: The crime of murder. You have had a fair and impartial trial, as much so as if you had belonged to our own race; you have had the benefit of counsel who did everything for you that was possible. But an intellectual and upright jury, upon a fair and dispassionate examination of the evidence given against you, not only by those whom you suppose to be unfriendly toward your people, but by the chiefs of your own tribe, have found you, Indian George, guilty in manner and form as you stand indicted, of having on the night of the 7th of Oct., 1853, deliberately, and without premeditation and malice, shot Jas. C. Kyle, and as there was no provocation on the part of Mr. Kyle which could justify you in the use of violence toward him, they have said that you are guilty of murder in first degree, an offense which by our laws is punishable by death. It, therefore, becomes my duty to pass on you the sentence approved by our laws.
The sentence of the court is, that you, Indian George, be taken hence by the Sheriff of the county of Jackson, and be by him, the said Sheriff, kept and detained in safe and secure custody until Friday, the 19th day of February, A. D., 1854, and between the hours of 10 o'clock a.m., and 12 a.m., of said day; and that you, Indian George, be taken by the said Sheriff or his lawful deputy of successor in office, on the day and between the hours in that he has last aforesaid, from the place of confinement to a gallows, to be by said Sheriff for that purpose erected at Jacksonville, in the county of Jackson, and there to be hanged by the neck, until you, Indian George, be dead and may God have mercy on your soul.
[Continued.]Ashland Tidings, October 25, 1878, page 1
It is further hoped and requested that those who have hitherto helped, by sending in contributions of news items &c., will not now withhold their aid [since the recent death of Tidings editor J. M. Sutton]. Especially is this plea urged in behalf of the "Scraps of Oregon History." Pioneers of Oregon, use your pens while you may in this important matter! Soon those pens will be left to other hands; but not so the knowledge you possess, unless you save that knowledge from oblivion by committing it to writing. It is not enough that you can remember and recount thrilling incidents connected with the early settlement of our lovely sunset land; you may leave the same accounts as a rich legacy to generations following. Neglect it and your own posterity will pass by your graves with scarce a tithe of that feeling of interest and gratitude that would grow out of reading accounts of exciting adventures in which your name appears as an actor. Already much has been done in this direction, but much remains. Let none wait, nor hesitate because he has not enough to fill a column. Send us a single incident, if you have one worth preserving. Be careful to have all dates, places and names correct, and send your work along; be sure it will be welcomed in the Tidings office and subsequently in a thousand home circles.
Indian Hostilities in the Early Part of the Year 1856.
COMPANY E SECOND REGIMENT O.M.V.
In January 1856 the work of organizing the 2nd regiment Oregon mounted volunteers was completed. Company B of the old regiment was known as Company E in the new arrangement. As Company B it has been commanded by Robert Williams, the noted Indian fighter. In the new organization Williams was elected Col. of the regiment, and his favorite company was officered in part as follows: Captain, Hugh O'Neil; 1st Lieut., Ben. Armstrong; and Lieut., Jeff. Howell; Orderly Sergt., ------ Stanton; 1st Sergt., J. Mathews.
In obedience to orders from Colonel Williams, Company E broke camp near Althouse Creek and marched to Vannoy's Ferry on Rogue River, where Williams had established his headquarters. There it arrived in due time, but was, two days after, ordered to return as far back as Hay's Ranch--twelve miles from headquarters--and there establish camp. A few days after, it was ordered to proceed four miles farther and establish a permanent camp at the foot of Eight Dollar Mountain, half a mile south of Deer Creek and three miles north of the present town of Kerbyville, on the trail leading from Sailor Diggings to Vannoy's Ferry, on Rogue River.
Camp was established, messes arranged with six men in a mess, orders for the regulation and government of the camp issued by Capt. O'Neil, so that in any possible emergency each and every man would know his place and duty; camp guards were arranged, horses and mules under a strong detail were turned out to graze upon the luxuriant grass growing around the foot, and nearly to the summit of the mountain.
The company being now in a pleasant camp with subsistence--other than meat for the men and grain for their horses--for a month, the days bright and warm, the nights only cool enough for the men to enjoy their grassy couches in the open air (for tents they had none) wrapped in a single pair of blankets--we will leave them for a few days and give the reader a glance of the condition of the surrounding country at the time.
During the autumn of 1855, the volunteers had had several skirmishes with the Indians at Hungry Hill and other places, which had not been more advantageous to them than to the Indians. The volunteers returned to Illinois Valley, and the Indians retreated, as was supposed, to the big meadows on Rogue River. A force of volunteers, with as many regular troops as could be spared from Fort Lane, was then dispatched against the enemy on the big meadows. The Indians occupied a strong position, and a few attempts were made to dislodge them, which, in the main, were not decisive of any beneficial result. As winter was close at hand, the great difficulty of transporting supplies for the maintenance of the troops was realized, and as no boats could be obtained to cross the river to more effectually attack the Indians it was decided in a council of war to desist from the enterprise. But at the same time, a determination was expressed to return in force in the spring and put an end to the war.
Accordingly, the troops returned to upper Rogue River and to Illinois Valley, and convenient places for the winter. The winter proved to be a mild one, so that travel through the mountains was not interrupted, and the result was the Indians, being destitute of food and clothing, returned also during the winter to Illinois Valley. They came, not to retire to winter quarters, however, but on the contrary to be in continual motion in quest of prizes to replenish their exhausted commissary, and to stir up the inhabitants of Illinois Valley and surrounding country to a proper understanding of their perilous situation. Their close proximity was not known or even surmised until in January, when they attacked some travelers on Slate Creek and captured a few head of horses, mules and cattle at various points of the settlements and then suddenly disappeared from the valley.
We will now return to the camp of Company E. The 12th of February was an unusually bright and warm day; the grass was green [as was] all the surrounding country; the horses and mules belonging to the company were lazily lying down or standing in the friendly shade of the numerous pine trees that grew in the immediate vicinity of the camp; the sun was shining behind the mountains, and the lengthening shadows of the trees gave the usual warning to the guard to bring up the horses. While they were being driven to camp, and as they came careering, dashing and snorting down the mountain to the place where they were usually picketed for the night, a neighboring farmer came riding briskly into camp, calling out cheerily to the guard, "That's right, boys, bring them in camp if you want to save them, the Indians are around again. Bill Hyde says he saw signs on the Mooney Trail." As that trail was not far from camp, it was evident that Company E might be called upon at any moment to turn out for a brush with the enemy, and if they were in full force it might be a serious affair, as the Indians ha, heretofore shown sufficient pluck to hold their own in an unexpected manner. Darkness soon closed around. The guards were posted on their accustomed beats. Here and there groups of men were gathered around small fires discussing the probabilities of an attack on camp or on some isolated farmhouse, when suddenly all were startled by the rapid pattering of a horse's feet coming up the hard road from the direction of Deer Creek. Out go the fires. All stand silently listening. Those who have turned in for the night sit upright and listen to the rapidly approaching footfalls. All is dark and still in camp. The horses stand quietly listening as though they, too, felt that such rapid riding was a sure indication that something serious was about to be developed. No one who has traveled with horses in a wild country can have failed to notice with what breathless anxiety horses will stand and listen to strange sounds with so much apparent knowledge of the situation of their riders, and how kindly they will return the caresses of their master when the danger has passed. Nearer and nearer approaches the horseman; the labored breathing of his horse is plainly audible, when the rider suddenly pulls up and calls "Hallo!" "Hallo yourself," was answered from the camp. "Is this O'Neil's camp?" "Yes." "Is he here?" "Yes, that is my name," and the robust Captain walked towards the expectant horseman, who proved to be Philip Weaver, a farmer living three miles from camp and who told his story in hurried words: "I expect that Jack Guess is killed. He yoked up his oxen this morning and said that he was going up to his field about half a mile from the house, to plow some ground for a garden. He took his gun along, and when he started he called back to his wife and told her not to be uneasy on his account, as there was no danger of Indians around there. About an hour before sundown we heard two or three shots up at the field, but did not think it was Indians. We thought that some of your boys were up there and that they were shooting at a mark; but when it began to grow dark and Jack did not come home, we felt alarmed. I would have come after you sooner, but I did not want to leave Mrs. Guess and the children alone, for if the Indians were around, they would come out and take them in, but two of my neighbors come just in the nick of time and are at the house now." By this time all the men were gathered around to the recital. The Captain turned to his men, saying: "Boys, we must look into this; who will volunteer to go with me." "I will." "I'll go," and "I," and "I" were the answers, as each man clamored to secure a place among the favored ones. "Can't all go, boys, some of you must stay in camp. If there is any fighting to do, you will have as much here in camp as you would if you went with me. Jack," turning to Sergeant Mathews, "detail fifteen men to go with me, and have them mounted as soon as possible." The camp was now full of life and bustle, each man thinking that the sergeant would detail him, of course, for who was more daring and reliable than himself. Soon the detail was written out and the sergeant began calling the names. As each name was called the lucky owner immediately set to work examining his arms and equipments, which he did by the sense of feeling, for no lights were allowed to be used. Horses were soon saddled and led into line, ready for the order to mount. They had not long to wait before the order came. Springing into their saddles, and by twos, forming company, they set out in the darkness, guided by Weaver, for the solution of their midnight problem.
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, November 29, 1878, page 1 Attributed by W. W. Fidler to "Olney"
Indian Hostilities in the Early Part of the Year 1856.Cautiously the detail moved out into the darkness, which was intense, as the heavy forest through which the trail wound its way made the night still darker. Phil. Weaver, as he was usually called, knew the way well, as he had lived in the vicinity for several years; and there was not a place where an ambush could be successful that he did not give warning to Capt. O'Neil, who would ride forward and through, accompanied by two or three men, and thoroughly examined it before the remainder of the men ventured to advance. Proceeding cautiously through the darkness for a little more than a mile, they neared a small deep brushy gulch where the trail descended to the bottom through a narrow defile, flanked on each side by large granite boulders, thickly set between with scrubby manzanita and chaparral, while on the right and left, a little further off, pine and oak trees were standing thickly on the banks; in front, and across the gulch, the trail ran down and diagonally along the bank until it reached the level bench, which was almost entirely devoid of timber, with only an occasional cluster of the ever-present manzanita. "I think," said Weaver, who was riding on the Captain's left, "we had better stop here while I ride forward and take a look at that gulch, for if there are any Indians around they are sure to know that we are coming, and if they ambush us at all it will be here, for this is the worst and most dangerous place to cross, day or night, on this side of Deer Creek, and even where we cross the creek itself, half a mile from here, we will have a better chance for defense than we have here."
"Is there no other crossing nearby," asked the Captain, "that is less difficult and dangerous than this."
"Yes," answered Weaver, "about one hundred yards above is a very good crossing, more open than this and another below equally as clear, but the horses must jump the gulch, which is about four feet wide and about as deep, and in the darkness they could not be forced to jump it."
"That is easy enough to do," said the Captain, and, turning to Sergeant Stannis, continued, "Sergeant, take four men and go down to the lower crossing and cross over and come up slowly towards the trail across the gulch opposite to us; and you, Ray," speaking to Corporal Ray Geddes, "take four men and go above and cross and come down towards the trail, and when I think you are both about to cross I will cross in front of us."
The officers thus instructed proceeded each to his objective point, while the remainder of the men stood silently awaiting the order to advance. The detail had halted about one hundred yards before reaching the gulch, when the Captain made the foregoing dispositions. Cautiously but rapidly each officer advanced to his allotted place for crossing. When the Captain had allowed them sufficient time to cross, he gave the order to advance. They had advanced about halfway to where the trail descended to the bottom of the gulch when their horses began to give unmistakable signs that Indians were in the vicinity, for horses will detect the scent of Indians long before their riders will surmise that there are any in the vicinity. The Captain gave the order in a hurried undertone to trot; the men urged their horses forward in a fast trot, and when the leading files had descended into the gulch a crash of rifle shots from the front and flanks broke the comparative stillness of the scene and lighted up for a moment the heavy darkness surrounding the action. "Forward, boys!" shouted the Captain, "let's cross the gulch and then we'll give them fits." Urging their horses forward with difficulty, for at first they had recoiled, they dove into the gulch and black darkness and made a blind breakneck rush for the opposite bank, each man for himself. The first fire of the Indians was delivered in a volley, accompanied by their well-known yells, which, as soon as the detail were all of them well out of the gulch, was returned, shot for shot and yell for yell. Sergt. Stannis and Corporal Geddes soon joined the main command, and all dismounting and leaving their horses with four men, began in solid earnest to pepper the gulch in which the Indians were secreted. As for taking aim at any particular object, it was impossible, only when the savages let their hiding places be known by the flash of their guns. Each party shifted his position, fired and yelled for twenty minutes, when the Indians suddenly ceased firing and all was soon quiet in the gulch, save now and then a slight crackling of dry twigs which seemed to be retreating up the gulch, when the men would send a few shots in the direction of the sounds. The Indians were retreating or changing their position for a more advantageous one. Firing on both sides soon ceased. The silence was ominous, and as the soldier delights more in nervous activity and noise than in suspense and silence, the order was given to mount and move forward to Weaver's ranch. Before mounting the roll was called and each man answered cheerily to his name; none killed or wounded.
Moving as rapidly as the uneven trail and the darkness would permit, the command soon reached the ranch, where all was quiet, and, under the circumstances, lonely enough. The two neighbors were on the lookout for the volunteers, having stationed themselves under the old shed between the dwelling house and the barn and corral, to more effectually keep guard over both places, while Mrs. Guess and her children were safely seated by a warm fire inside of the bulletproof walls of the dwelling house. The mother sat cowering before the fire with a child two or three years old in her lap, while beside her were her other and older children wondering why Father did not come, for he never stayed away from home so late. The grieving and lonely parent could only tell her tearful children that their father would probably be at home soon, but when they plied her with the dreaded question, "What keeps Father away so late?" she broke down, and the flood of scalding tears from the mother was a sad token for the fatherless little ones, and they mingled their hot tears with their mother's as they leaned their childish heads upon her aching shoulders--thus were they when the command rode up to the house.
Dismounting and turning their horses into the corral, still saddled and bridled, ready to be mounted at a moment's notice, and leaving a sufficient guard, the command, still under the guidance of Weaver, began their march, by file, to the field where they supposed that the dead body of Guess would be found. As they neared the field they heard the oxen with which Guess had been plowing--still hitched to the plow--running and surging around the field in great terror. When the command had reached the end of the field nearest to the house, the Captain divided his men into two squads and sent one to the left with orders to go up on the left-hand side of the field (on the outside) to the middle of the field, there leave all but two who were to climb the fence and cross over to the middle of the plowed ground and there await further orders; while he would, with the other squad, perform a similar service on the right-hand side. Cautiously each party filed up the sides of the fence to the place where they were to cross over and meet in the middle of the field.
Not a sound could be heard save the dull measured tread of the men and an occasional rush, and quick spasmodic snorts of the oxen. Soon the men were heard to climb the fence; while those outside stood conversing in low undertones regarding the midnight adventure. Crossing the field to the furrow where it was supposed Guess had been plowing, the four men met, but still no sign of the murdered man. The "land' on which Guess had been plowing was only about fifteen rods wide, so two men went up toward the upper end of the field and two went down. Soon was heard the long-expected word, "Here he is!" and all was hushed and still. The oxen seemed to know that friends were near, for they were now standing quietly near the fence and did not move when Weaver went to them; but when they heard his voice, with which they were familiar, they answered with low plaintive lowing, while to make their recognition more complete, they tried to touch him with their noses as he passed before him.
By this time two men had taken up the dead body and carried it to the fence where it was received by others on the opposite side and gently placed on the ground. Contrary to their usual custom, the Indians had neither scalped nor stripped the body, neither had they mutilated it in the least; the only articles missing were the hat, coat and gun. Two small rails were procured and each man having a handkerchief, produced it; a sufficient number being obtained, the rails were tied together, enough spars being left between them to contain the body, which was then placed upon this rudely constructed stretcher. When all was ready, four men took up the body and preceded by an advance guard set out for the ranch, while the rear was brought up by the remainder of the command.
In a short time they reached the house. Taking the body into a small room it was hurriedly prepared for burial that day, for it was now nearly dawn. Four bullets were found to have penetrated the body from the front, one through the heart and one through the left shoulder, the other two through the breast. While the body was being prepared for burial, Weaver, who had called upon Mrs. Guess, came into the room and said that she had asked him if her husband was dead, but that he had evaded the question, as he could not tell her; he wanted someone else to go and inform her of the truth. No one could be found to perform that disagreeable office, so it devolved upon Captain O'Neil, who, as all will recollect who knew him, was no coward in the field, yet he shrank from this. But time was pressing, and he must perform the sad duty. How well he performed it is not known, but that he told her the sad truth was soon plain to all, for the mingled sobs of the bereaved wife and fatherless children were soon heard and felt by all who stood around that dead body on that February morning in 1856.
Ashland Tidings, December 6, 1878, page 1 Attributed by W. W. Fidler to "Olney" Confirmed by a similar account found transcribed in the Olney Family Papers, also ascribed to an otherwise unidentified Olney.
Indian Hostilities in the Early Part of the Year 1856.Early in March 1856 an election of regimental officers of the 2nd Regiment Oregon Mountain Volunteers was held in all of the company camps, which resulted in the election of John Kelsey, Col.; W. W. Chapman, Lieut. Col.; James Bruce and ------ Latshaw, Majors. Brigadier General Lamerick then issued orders to the Southern Battalion, Major Bruce, to rendezvous at, and in the near vicinity of, Vannoy's ferry, on Rogue River, the Northern Battalion, Major Latshaw, to establish camp at Grave Creek and vicinity, preparatory to a march down Rogue River to the Big Meadows, where it was believed the Indians were encamped, waiting an attack by the volunteers. Major Bruce's battalion were scattered around Vannoy's ferry, up and down Rogue River for five or six miles, and one company was encamped at the foot of Eight Dollar Mountain, fifteen [sic] miles from Vannoy's ferry. Each company remained inactive in camp until the memorable 23d of March, 1856. The Northern Battalion remained encamped at various places in the Umpqua Valley until early in the following April, when they began their march by the way of Grave Creek to the Big Meadows, under the immediate command of John Kelsey.
Scouting parties were sent out from time to time by each company to ascertain if any Indians were in its vicinity; occasionally a few signs would be discovered, but in all but one instance the signs were not deemed sufficiently encouraging for the volunteers to pursue. In the instance mentioned above, Capt. Mike Bushey, a noted scout and captain of one of the companies encamped at Grave Creek, had been for several days scouting down Illinois River with a part of his command and succeeded, after a careful scrutiny of Evans Creek, in discovering, in his view, sufficient evidence of the near proximity of Indians to warrant a general alarm. Accordingly he dispatched a messenger with the important tidings to Major Bruce, at Vannoy's ferry, who immediately issued orders to several companies to march without a moment's delay to Grave Creek, from whence an expedition would start the next day to attack the Indians.
Marching all night, the companies reported to Major Bruce the next morning at Grave Creek. In the meantime Capt. Bushey had returned to the locality where he had at first discovered the hostile signs. On his return to Grave Creek he informed the Major that the Indians had retreated down towards the Big Meadows, and that he did not think it advisable to pursue them, consequently the companies returned to their respective camps.
All was now quiet in the Umpqua, Rogue River and Illinois Valleys until about 2 o'clock on the morning of the 24th of March a messenger arrived at Vannoy's ferry with the word that the Indians had ambushed a small party of travelers on Slate Creek and killed two of the party, ------ Wright, a partner in Vannoy's ferry, and [Orville] Olney, a member of Capt. O'Neil's company, which was encamped at the foot of Eight Dollar Mountain; that after killing the two men and dispersing the remainder of the travelers, they had pushed on towards Hay's ranch (now Thornton's); that just before they reached the ranch they were met by five of Olney's messengers who had come out to rescue his dead body, and the Indians had killed one of them, John Davis, and forced the others to retreat back to the ranch; that the Indians had then pushed on and surrounded the ranch, and that when they (the messengers) left, the firing was brisk and determined on both sides. Orders were at once sent to all the companies belonging to the Southern Battalion to repair immediately to Hay's ranch; and at about 10 o'clock the same day the companies began to assemble at Vannoy's ferry for a start to the scene of the conflict.
It now becomes necessary to change the scene. To better understand what follows, and to have a clear view of the situation, we will return to the morning of the 23rd of March. On this morning, ------ Olney, a member of Company "E," which was encamped at Eight Dollar Mountain, and who had been on a special mission to the camp of Capt. Abel George, five miles below Vannoy's, was on his return to camp. Being of a cautious temperament, he concluded to go by the headquarters, which was a little off of the most direct trail, and see if he could not procure company, as it was considered dangerous to travel along Slate Creek, up which the trail wound its crooked and brushy way to Hay's ranch. In answer to his inquiries if anyone was intending to go from there to Hay's, he was informed that a party of five persons had, but a short half-hour before, started to the ranch, and if he would move briskly along he would be likely to soon overtake them. This was good news, and off he went at a smart pace to overtake the party. It was a long chase, but he was soon rewarded by a sight of the men slowly making the ascent of the hill, up which the trail ran before it reached the open flat just below the forks of the creek. The pattering of his horse's feet arrested the progress of the party, and caused them to stop and await his approach; for at that time all rapid riding seemed to savor of something unusual. The party was composed of [Elias] Wright, Willie Hay, ------ Cox, Greenville Blake and ------ Thompson. As Olney rode up to within thirty paces of the party he was saluted with:
"Hallo! Any news? Have you seen any Indians? Where have you come from this morning?" To all of which he answered, "No; wanted to overtake you; afraid to go through alone; horse nearly done for."
"Come along, then, we've got one more gun and revolver in the party; think we'll have some fun before we reach the ranch. Willie (Hay) says he thinks he smells Ind----" Bang! bang! bang!! followed instantaneously by a heavy volley of rifle shots on the left flank, front and rear; brush and trees filled with smoke and Indian yells; horses plunge and snort; but in a few seconds the party regain their self-command; the Indians show themselves--half a dozen, ten, fifty, a hundred--no use to show fight, better run--and run they did; horses and men, all willing. So off they turned to the right, through the woods, scampering away for dear life; sure enough life was at stake, and they were making good time, all of them but Olney, whose horse would only plunge up and down making no headway, and he saw only one course to save his life, and that was not a certainty, nor did it seem even to approach a possibility, yet it was the only chance. It was to dismount and try his own legs, for had he not read how Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett and a host of other renowned Indian fighters had outrun, outshot, outwitted smarter Indians than these after him. So dropping the bridle on his horse's neck he sprang to the ground, and in doing so he saw his horse's neck covered with blood, and blood oozing out of several holes in his side. All was taken in at a glance, and with gun in hand he started to run, but on each foot was strapped a large, heavy Mexican spur. He could make no headway with such gear on his heels, they must come off, but it would not do to stop, sit down and calmly displace them; he had not enough nerve for that. But he took a zigzag course and would throw his right heel in front of his left toe and give a pull as he jumped, for he must keep his body in motion so that the Indians could not draw a bead on him, and he must keep on going ahead, and, if possible, increase the distance between himself and his pursuers. The right spur, boot and all, came easily off, and when he put the left spur under his right toes and pulled, the rowels of the spur cut through his stocking, penetrated flesh, and caused him to stumble and fall--The reader must bear in mind that all that has been described did not occupy more than a few seconds, and that the others of the party were not more than fifty yards distant, and the Indians only just starting from their hiding places--As he fell, Willie Hay called out, "See! he is killed." At the same moment Olney sprang to his feet, freed from his boot and spur, which he had kicked off while down. Wright, the noble, big-hearted and brave man, called out to the others--"Boys, it won't do to leave that man; come, let's stay with him," at the same time turning his mule toward the fleeing man and facing the swarming, yelling savages.
"Let me take hold of your horse's tail and I can get away," called out Olney, and Willie Hay--only fourteen years of age--turned back with Wright and they both rode towards him, right into the blaze and smoke of the hostile guns. As they met Olney, Wright turned his mule sideways and said in a husky voice--"Jump on." On he jumped behind the noble Wright, Willie turned, and away they went, the Indians firing as rapidly as possible. Still neither of the three men were touched, but the bullets tore up the ground and knocked the bark from the trees into the faces of the fleeing men. Willie Hay and the others were soon out of sight, leaving Wright and Olney alone. While crossing a shallow gulch a bullet pierced the flank of the mule and caused it to drop its hinder parts upon the ground, which threw Olney over backwards upon his head and shoulders. The mule immediately righted itself, with Wright still in the saddle. Olney jumped to his feet instantly, and Wright asked him if he was wounded, to which he replied that if he was wounded at all, it was in his shoulder, as he felt more pain there than in any other part of his body, for the fall was a rude one, and he was jarred all over. The noble Wright seemed to have no care for himself, but thought how he could save his companion, and urged him to try to mount the mule again, seeming to think that was the only chance; but Olney refused and told Wright to go on and leave him to his fate. The noble man saw that he had done all he could do to save his companion, who was to him a total stranger until only a few minutes before, and with a sorrowful "Oh!" he dashed down the gulch as fast as the wounded mule could go, and left Olney to his apparently early death.
The Indians were by this time close up to them, and seemed by their exultant yells to feel certain of both of their intended victims. Olney ran over ridge and gulch, aiming to get into the brushy bottom of the creek about a quarter of a mile above the forks. Many a time he thought to get behind a tree and stand his ground, if only for a short time, for he felt that death was certain. The Indians seemed to know his thoughts, for every time he made for a tree the savages fired furiously at it, thinking that when he passed behind it some one of the many bullets would certainly hit him; while he, seeing their object, gave up the idea but would turn occasionally and aim his gun at them but with no intent to fire, only intending to make them take to trees for shelter, which they did in every instance, thus giving him, as he thought, a little advantage of them in the race. But this kind of running would not do, for back behind him a few hundred yards he saw a squad of mounted Indians coming at full speed towards him. He had distanced the footmen, but he had no hopes of escaping from those who were mounted. Wright was out of sight. He was all alone save his pursuers. Suddenly stopping, he took deliberate aim at an Indian who had stopped to load his gun and fired, with a splendid result; the savage fell sprawling on the ground. But there could be no more loading and firing, and the gun was a burden; besides, he expected to fall any moment, and then the Indians would get a splendid gun. So, cocking the gun, he struck it against a tree as he ran and broke the lock and then dropped it upon the ground; his bullets he scattered broadcast; his box of caps were cast into a pool of water in the bed of the gulch.
As he descended into the creek flat, he came near Wright, who was still in his saddle, but was holding on by the pommel of the saddle apparently to steady himself, and seemed to sway from side to side. To Olney's inquiry if he was wounded, he answered with a groan. His gun, a double-barreled shotgun, was gone; the mule was still running, but slowly, no faster at least than Olney was, so they ran side by side up the creek bottom for near a quarter of a mile, the mounted Indians slowly gaining on them. The Indians on foot were left far behind, and seemed to have given up the race, but still they sent their bullets after the fleeing men, in showers; the deathly ping! ping! zip! of the bullets gave a continuous and urgent stimulus to the pursued.
Across the creek bottom ran a line of thick, stunted crabapple and chaparral. As they neared it Wright called out to his companion, as if to give him a fresh stimulus: "Run, now!" At the sound of his voice--for it was the first time he had spoken since the first separation--Olney looked towards him only to see him fall from his saddle to the ground with a dull thud and gurgle. Life had fled, and the noble Wright lay on his back, his limbs quivering in the last agonies, while the Indians yelled louder and more hideously than before. Olney was alone now in the flesh, but still the spirit of his murdered companion hovered around him and completed in the invisible what was begun in the visible body. Diving into the thick brush he made his way as fast as possible up the dry creek for a quarter of a mile, and then, exhausted almost to death's door, with a bullet through one foot, a sharp, dry stick run into the flesh between the toes of the other, the bottoms of both frightfully lacerated by the sharp stones over which he had been running, he cast himself under a pile of driftwood and listened, with no hope of escape, to the approaching footsteps and yells of his savage pursuers.
Let us now go up to the top of that low, sparsely timbered hill on the left, near the trail, and we shall soon see five men of Company "E," Olney's messmates--John Davis, Shellback Smith, John Gould, Charley Abrams and J. Sargent, who had been stopping at Hay's ranch as a guard, and who had been told by Willie Hay and the others who had succeeded in reaching the ranch, that Wright and Olney were killed--come running up the hill as fast as their horses could be made [to] go, in the direction of Slate Creek. They have come to recover the body of their murdered messmate. They raise the hill and descend at a rapid race the steep ridge down which the trail ran towards the forks of the creek. Halfway down, and they are saluted by a hundred rifle shots from front and both flanks, accompanied by the too-well-known Indian yell.
"We're in for it now, boys," shouted John Davis, the leader of the party; "jump off and take a tree and we'll give them a fight if they are on it."
Dismounting and tying their horses to the brush, with the bullets and yells growing thicker and louder, the brave little party boldly went into the fight. Taking each a tree, they loaded and fired with good effect, as was plainly indicated next day when the battleground was visited. Louder and fiercer grew the uproar; the Indians, numbering near two hundred, soon gained the rear of the little party, and poured upon them a hail of rifle and pistol shots. The horses tied to the brush were soon plunging and trying to break loose.
"We must get out of this," shouted Gould. "They've got us in a tight place; come on." He ran to his horse and all followed but Davis who, seeing a number of Indians running towards them, shouted to his companions: "Hurry up, boys, and mount. I'll keep those devils away until you are ready to start. Charley, untie my horse and hold him until I come," and almost in the same breath he added: "Go ahead, boys, I'm shot right through the tum tum (heart)."
Ashland Tidings, December 13, 1878, page 1
Indian Hostilities in the Early Part of the Year 1856.
As Davis spoke he dropped his gun from his hands and fell forward, upon his face. Shellback Smith and Charley Abrams ran to him, but he was fast stiffening in death, and they left him lying on his face, for they could do him no good. And to take away his dead body was not possible, for the Indians were pressing around them and retreat would soon be impossible. As it was, it was extremely difficult. They were on a narrow ridge which was quite steep on both sides, and as they mounted their horses, that of Charley Abrams was shot through the body and rolled down the steep side of the ridge, rider and all some twenty yards, until it struck the bottom of the gulch. Luckily Abrams was on top, and easily extricated himself. The animal regained his feet and Abrams again mounted him and turned his head up the hill to regain his companions, who had again dismounted and were bravely fighting back the Indians until they would ascertain the result of Abrams' tumble down the hill.
In the sudden change of affairs, Gould, who had secured Davis' horse, let him go so that he would be better able to take care of his own, and use his gun in the fight. John Sargent had Davis' gun, and in the retreat carried it safely to the ranch. As soon as Gould loosened his hold on the bridle, Davis' horse ran wildly down the hill into the midst of the Indians.
Abrams had no sooner mounted his horse than it fell again, riddled with bullets. Abrams escaped unhurt and clambered wildly up the hill, where his companions awaited him, urging him to renewed exertions by repeated calls of "Hurry up, Charley, they're all around us," and hurry up he did. His escape was seemingly miraculous, but the most miraculous of all was--a large brown mule, saddled and bridled, all ready to be mounted, came running up the road towards the little party from the direction of the Indians, and reached them at precisely the same moment as Abrams did. He ran gently towards the mule calling coaxingly "Whoa! whoa!" which the mule well understood, and stopped until Abrams had secured and mounted him. Then away all scampered through a line of smoke and fire on each flank and forced [their way through the savages who had formed] a line in front. Holding their guns in the bridle hand, with revolver in the right, discharging rapid shots at the Indians, they streaked it up the hill and down the trail to the ranch, closely followed by the yelling and disappointed Indians, who were but a few rods in their rear, when they reached the gate of the palisades surrounding the ranch.
We will now return to Olney in his hiding place under the driftwood on Slate Creek. A half dozen Indians come on in hot pursuit. He can hear them parting the brush and snapping the dry twigs under their feet as they swiftly surge through the dense thicket of brush. On they come, but they have lost the scent. They stop and listen a moment, then rush on again; but off to the right of him, about fifty yards from where he lay. If they had struck his trail they could easily have found him. In crossing a wide pool of water he had entangled his foot in some vines and fallen headlong into the shallow water, striking his head against the round stones which thickly paved the bottom of the pool. His clothing was completely saturated and as he ran he left a plain, wet trail, which the Indians could have easily followed to his hiding place. But, luckily for him, they missed it, and thereby missed their game. The Indians ran up the mountainside, and were soon to Olney's intense relief out of hearing. He had remained in his hiding place about an hour after this, when he heard rapid firing off to his left on the trail, which continued for a short time and then suddenly ceased; and all around him was hushed in silence, save now and then the rustling, rattling sounds made by the squirrels as they ran from tree to tree, or the occasional loud rapping of the woodpecker as he thumped the hollow trees and sent the echoes reverberating through the woods, as if calling to the Indians to return and be shown the hiding place of the hated fugitive. Thus he lay, listening to the many and varied sounds, vainly trying to discover signs of his pursuers, but in each instance happily disappointed, until nearly dark, when he crawled out from his place of concealment and, tearing his shirt into strips, bound up his bleeding, swollen feet, and thus began, slowly and painfully, to ascend the mountain lying between him and Hay's ranch. It was his intention to follow the ridge which led toward Deer Creek and Sailor Diggings, and to try and reach the latter place, for he had no doubt that the Indians has gone on to Hay's ranch, and from their number he felt certain that they would make short work of it, and follow on to Reaves' ranch (if not stopped by Company E, which was encamped at Eight Dollar Mountain) and easily capture that, for there were only two or three men to guard it, and the attack would be unexpected.
Slowly he ascended the mountain, and when it had become quite dark he reached the summit. As he came upon the level ground his ears were saluted with rapid firing, accompanied by the usual yells, down at Hay's, which was only about two miles distant. Following along the ridge parallel with the trail from Vannoy's to Hay's, he stopped nearly opposite to the ranch and about a mile distant, to hold a council with himself as to the best means of securing his safety, for his feet were on the point of open rebellion against the harsh treatment to which they were subjected. From the time he reached the summit of the ridge the firing and yelling had been uninterrupted, but now and then varied by a yell of jubilant exultation over some lucky shot by one party or the other. Knowing that from the long time the fight had been raging at the ranch, he felt sure enough that the defenders could hold their own and at least drive the Indians away, and he thought of going down to the ranch and trying to get in; but he soon saw that the project must abandoned, as in the darkness he might be shot by friend and foe alike. The condition of his feet would not allow him to make the long distance to Sailor Diggings, so he concluded to hunt some place where he would be sheltered from the cold breeze that was blowing over the ridge, and there await the issue of the fight going on below him, and for daylight. Searching around in the darkness, he found a hollow pine tree standing on the backbone of the ridge, which had been burned out by some fire in time past. Crawling or rather backing himself into it, he readjusted the torn rags upon his bleeding feet and sat down to await the coming of daylight, so that he could better plan out his course for the morrow. Sinking with exhaustion, hunger, thirst and pain into a waking sleep, we will leave him and go to another part of the field, or, in other words, we must take up another stitch in our narrative.
I had better in this place make an explanation to the reader and tell him why I have so many parts to so simple a story as I am endeavoring to tell. The reason is this: They are all so intimately connected that to go through with one part to the end, I must tell part of the incidents or parts, and thus the reader would say that I am repeating when I come to tell of something else that belongs to the story, or he would get them mixed up in his mind and thus take little or no interest in the narration. Everything detailed, every incident, however small, that I have or shall mention is strictly true and had an actual occurrence. The names of parties to the scenes I have taken pains to reproduce as accurately as I am able to do. I have written their names as they were spoken at the times mentioned, and have tried to bring the facts before the reader so that he can see them as I saw them. There are a number of persons now living in Jackson, Josephine and adjoining counties who were actors in or had a knowledge of all or many of the scenes which I have, or shall describe, and I call upon them to come forward if I misrepresent or interpolate. But I will say also that in one instance I have been guided by the reports current at the time.
When Willie Hay and his companions made their appearance at the ranch with the news of the Indians' attack upon them and the killing of Wright and Olney, a courier was at once sent with the intelligence of Capt. O'Neil's camp at the foot of Eight Dollar Mountain. As soon as the news was received, O'Neil ordered the horses and pack mules to be immediately brought up and saddled and packed, and at once set out for the ranch, endeavoring to reach it before the Indians did. But in this he failed, as I shall now relate.
Calling the roll, he found he had but fifty men fit for duty, and with a pack train of fifteen heavily laden mules, he must spare three or four men for the special duty of attending to the packs. Forming a vanguard of fifteen men, he sent them forward under Lieut. Armstrong. The mules followed and the rear was brought up by the remainder of the company under his immediate command.
Away they went at a sharp trot until they had crossed Deer Creek and had entered the heavy timber within two miles of the ranch, when they overtook a pack train belonging to ------, passing which, with some difficulty they kept on their way, with the loss of two or three mules which had run into the other train and could not be easily extricated, so were allowed to remain and come along with the train, which was put to its utmost speed when the packers had been told that the Indians were ahead. On they go through the heavy pine woods, the bell on the "bell mare" tinkling out hasty music to the loaded train mules behind, while the "Rappah Mulah!" "Caramba!" and the everlasting string of Mexican epithets calculated to urge forward the train, were being bellowed and hissed in a hasty and excited way. They have reached within half a mile of the ranch and they hear an occasional rifle shot. Soon comes a crash of reports, succeeded by the usual rattling reverberations through the timber of each separate but continuous report and the near yells of the Indians. On they go, the vanguard at a gallop, pack mules ditto; they are too slow. "Forward, faster!" Another train in the road--Jimmy Lowery and Billy Sutherland's train--Billy on the "bell mare," Jimmy driving up the train; trains at this time on the keen jump. "Damn the train," says the Captain, but it doesn't make matters any better. The train behind is making good time, and its "bell mare" has overtaken the rear guard, so there they are, two pack trains and a company of volunteers surging together along the road through the woods towards the ranch. They are now within two hundred and fifty yards of the ranch. Volunteers have left their pack mules behind and gone pell mell through the line of Indians which have encircled the ranch and are firing from behind every tree and bunch of brush into the very faces of the men. Each man with revolver in hand yelled defiance and sent shot after shot at the Indians, who in a few minutes turned their attention to the pack trains.
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, December 20, 1878, page 1 Omission repaired with text from the version in the Olney Family Papers.
Indian Hostilities in the Early Part of the Year 1856.Ashland Tidings, January 3, 1879, page 1
When the Captain gave the order to his men to leave the pack mules and make the best time they could towards the ranch, some of the men so far disobeyed him as to continue to hurry forward some of the mules that were loaded with their own individual effects and succeeded, by loud yelling and rough whipping, in driving them in the palisades surrounding the ranch; while the remainder of the mules stampeded helter skelter in all directions through the woods. As soon as the Indians saw the volunteers abandon their mules and flee towards the ranch, they left their coverts and made a rush in [to]wards Lowery and Sutherland's train, firing rapidly at men and mules alike. Sutherland, being in advance on the bell mare, increased her speed by a vigorous application of whip and spur, and made a bee line for the ranch, calling lustily to his partner: "Let the mules go to ------, Jimmy, and come along, they're bound to get them anyhow, save your scalp!" and with a "go it old hoss" and an additional slap with his tapojo, away he went closely followed by a pair of the mules, while the others went scudding through the woods in all directions, except towards the ranch. Jimmy, seeing that he could not reach the friendly protection of the house, turned his mule off to the left and was soon out of sight and immediate danger.
On came the other train at full speed, some of the mules with packs askew, some with packs turned; drivers yelling, swearing and whipping; the bell on the bell mare jingling and clattering, Indians firing and yelling, and all in a wild stampede. Such an uproar, such excitement, such reckless riding, will never again be seen on that road between Hay's and Deer Creek. The packers scattered and rode towards the ranch, each on his own hook; over logs, through brush and mire and smoke and whistling bullets; now mixed up in a jam of crazy mules, again almost unseated by the crashing impetus of one that is running crosscuts and strikes the fugitive horse amidships. At last all have reached the palisades. Leaping from their foaming horses and setting them adrift, they dart through the gate that has been opened for their reception, and are once more in safety.
Safe indeed are they, but their horses, their friendly, noble preservers, are huddling and jamming one another outside the gate, whinnying as if calling their faithless riders to open the gate and take them in, for the Indians were sending showers of bullets into the surging mass of horses and mules and dropping them one by one. The volunteers had taken as many of their riding horses into the stockade as possible, for the enclosure was small and many were necessarily left outside.
All are now inside of the enclosure and are returning the enemy's fire with vehemence, and successfully beating back the swarming savages who had twice rushed forward in a solid circle around the house with the apparent intention of taking it by storm, but in each attempt met with such vigorous resistance that they at last gave up the design of assaulting it and retired to a distance of two hundred yards and settled down to a steady exchange of shots and yells with its defenders.
"Where is Alex Caldwell, has anyone seen him inside? He was with us just as we crossed the creek." And thus inquiries were going the round when--"What is that lying yonder in the road, partially concealed by a log?" "See, he raises his head and looks this way, as though asking for help." "How the bullets are knocking up the dust all around him." "Hear the devils yell." "See those two Indians running down towards him; they're going to finish him, poor fellow." Such were the various remarks of the men as they stood inside of the stockade watching their wounded companion lying in the road, silently appealing for assistance.
"He must be brought in. Who are the brave men that will go?" said the Captain. He was answered in a body by a dozen or more of the men, for they were more than willing to go upon the desperate undertaking. Desperate it was, but they felt that they were cowards to let their comrade lie so exposed to death without making an effort for his rescue.
"Remember, boys," continued the Captain, "that I do not order you to go, but I want volunteers to go with me, for Alex shall not be there alive five minutes longer, as sure as my name is Hugh O'Neil." "I'll go for one," said John Gould, stepping forward, "and so will I," was repeated by many more, and John Macklin, Samuel Cowels and John Sargent stepped out from the crowd first and were of course the ones to go upon the errand. The four brave men then stripped off their clothing, save shirt and pants. Hay's boys brought out moccasins for their feet, and forming in a line, about four feet apart, they stood before the gate, and when it was opened for them they darted out and ran at their utmost speed--keeping in line and about four feet apart--towards their wounded comrade, who, seeing them coming, attempted to rise but fell back exhausted from the shock of his wound.
The Indians saw the brave men leave the gate and immediately divined their object. Rushing out from their coverts, behind trees, stumps and logs, they came, firing and yelling, against the little squad of heroes, intending to capture them, and would, no doubt, have succeeded had not the men inside rushed out to the assistance of their companions. Now all is in a terrific uproar outside; from a siege it has turned to a battle. The Indians took to shelter and the volunteers fired from behind logs, stumps, horses and mules that were dead or alive. Some of the combatants on both sides took the open field and fired in true military style. During the melee, the four men ran up to Caldwell, and, taking him up in their arms--two under his shoulders and two under his thighs--they carried him safely inside of the stockade, where they were received with demonstrations of gratitude and praise by all, and especially by the wounded man. Unable to speak, for he was shot through the throat and lungs, he looked his gratitude. As soon as the wounded man was carried inside, the Indians began to withdraw to a safer distance, for the volunteers had killed and wounded a large number of them, without receiving any other damage than a few slight flesh wounds. The volunteers retired inside of the stockade and all then settles down to its former stage of siege, with the exchange of shots and yells.
Mrs. Hay, well advanced in years, but still spry and courageous, went around amongst the "boys," as she called them, patting them familiarly on the back and saying, "Give it to them, boys." "That's the way to fetch them," as she would see an Indian fall, and carrying bread and coffee to each (The boys said she put a big horn of whiskey in each cup of coffee), which they gladly received as they had had no food since morning, and it was now sundown. Instead of being a burden to the men she proved to be a blessing, for many of the boys said if it had not been for "Mammy Hay" their courage would, in some stages of the fight, have slipped out at the heels of their boots. Not only "Mammy Hay" but her daughter, likewise, was an active assistant during the whole time. Elizabeth Hay, or "Big Sis," as she was commonly known during that time of slack politeness and rough manners, was going around among the men chatting pleasantly with them and telling them that she knew every man was a brave, that if she had only a half dozen of such fellows she could whip the whole of the Indians.
No messengers had yet been sent out to give notice of the attack. It would have been certain death to have tried to leave the ranch by daylight, and the Captain had prudently waited until night had settled down, so that under cover of the darkness the couriers would have a better chance to get safely through the line of Indians. Darkness was fast settling down, and the landscape was becoming more obscure as the minutes passed, but yet the battle raged as loud and fierce as ever. Indians could be dimly seen as they ran from tree to tree, and occasionally a sprightly young buck would stop in some open space that could be seen from the house and go through with his hideous distortions and emit peculiar yells from his (so it sounded) tin-lined throat, thus drawing upon himself the fire of all the besieged who were on his side of the circle. Thus the time passed until objects could no longer be distinguished outside of the stockade. Then a call was made for two men to run the gantlet and take the news to Vannoy's ferry. Two were soon selected, and, mounted upon the swiftest and best-bottomed horses, were placed in front of the gate, one six paces behind the other, each man grasping a freshly capped revolver in his right hand; thus they stood when the order was given to open the gate. As the gate swung open the plucky riders dashed out at full speed, and away they went, faster, faster, faster still. What an uproar! The Indians have scented the game, and send a hurried line of fire after the rapidly retreating horsemen. The boys rush out and advance on the Indians, bantering them to come and take the ranch. "Plenty of whisky and tobacco, come and get it, you greasy cowards!" thinking to draw the attention of the Indians from the pursuit. The Indians replied in equally bantering terms. "Miserable Boston man, afraid to fight. What did you run so for today; we have got your mules and goods. Going to live high for a long time." And thus the night was passing away, when suddenly the Indians ceased firing and all became quiet, for the boys had been guided in their firing by the flash of the Indians' guns, and as soon as the Indians ceased the boys ceased also.
Time passed on--ten minutes, twenty, half an hour, and still no hostile sounds. Have the red devils abandoned the siege? Another half-hour has passed, and the suspense must be relieved, so volunteers were called for to go out and endeavor to fathom the mystery; anything will be better than this ominous silence. Carefully the gate is opened and half a dozen men step out into the outer darkness, soon followed by as many more. Cautiously and slowly they file around the stockade, intending to go and examine an old stable and other outhouses standing about sixty yards from the house, which the Indians had occupied as soon as it had become dark, and from which they had since been firing some damaging shots into the ranch.
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, December 27, 1878, page 1
Fort Hay, August 17, 1930 Oregonian
Indian Hostilities in the Early Part of the Year 1856.
They had advanced about halfway to the outhouses when one of the party proposed that two of them go in advance to the buildings and prospect them for the enemy, and if none could be found then all would go beyond to where there was a brushy fence which had been used by the Indians as a breastwork; and if no Indians were to be found there, then they had undoubtedly raised the siege, and the party could return to the house with the good news. Dick, a very quiet but attentive Irishman, and another of the party volunteered to go on the forlorn hope.
The two had advanced to within about ten paces of the old stable when Dick, who was in the lead, said softly, "Whist! pard, the divil take me if I don't belave that I schmell 'em!"
They had both stopped and were listening attentively when Dick continued, "And what is that now, a-leanin' up agin the house?"
"That is a stump. You're afraid, Dick," replied his companion, "let me go ahead," and made a step forward when Dick pulled him back with the remark, "Don't now, be eazey, there is another shtump for yez. Begorra, pard, jist howld me hat, and I'll give them two divilish shtumps a blizzard with me ould soger (musketoon)."
His companion looked, and sure enough there were two now, where there was but one before. Believing them to be Indians who were only waiting for a good chance to fire at them, he told Dick to blaze away, while he would watch and see what the result might be. Dick put the lock of his musket under his coat to deaden its click, and, cocking it, he raised it to his shoulder and fired. The whole scene was lighted up by the blaze of the musketoon. Dick went over backwards like a wheel rocket, emitting from his throat a noise between a screech and a howl, while a terrific fire was poured into them from the old stable and from each flank, accompanied by yells no less horrible than the one given by Dick. Now was heard rapid tramping and cracking of dry twigs, and all seemed to be rushing toward the old stable, which for the once was to be made the center of the conflict.
Dick jumped to his feet yelling like a madman, "Come on, b'ys! Divil of a shtable shall they have to shoot from! Come on, and we'll bate 'em out in a sicond."
The men who were behind waiting for developments were by this time up to Dick and his companion, and were all yelling and firing away like wild men, and rushed headlong for the stable, where there seemed to be the most Indians.
A line of fire now encircles the ranch; the battle has begun again in deadly earnest; the besieged are keeping up a continued blaze of light from every crack and porthole in the palisades; while at the stable there seems to be a struggle hand to hand. Now the boys have the advantage and push the savages back, then they fall back towards the house and the Indians are masters, until [Reader, pardon the expression, for it was a hot time] one of the men called out to the others, "g--d d----n it, boys, we must take the stable and keep it, and all who are not d----d cowards come on," and again they made a rush for the stable. Pistol in hand they rushed along, keeping up an incessant pop! pop! pop! and their own peculiar yell, which was promptly and sharply answered by the hoarse guttural yells of the Indians and the clear crack of their rifles. Now the struggle is harder than ever, the Indians have the advantage, for they are inside behind the logs and do not intend to yield. The boys crowd them away from the end of the stable and from behind some stumps. Both parties put their guns between the logs and fired into each other's faces. A reinforcement comes to both sides and they meet before the door--the blaze of their guns gives sufficient light to see each other's position, and at last the boys give an exultant yell and are masters of the field, for the Indians are scampering away and have ceased to fire.
When the uproar ceased at the stable the boys become aware that a fierce encounter was in progress on the opposite side of the ranch; and soon they heard a call from the house, "Come here, boys, they are trying to get in on this side! Hurry along, for they are making it hot for us!"
Off they go to the house to try to drive back the hordes of Indians who had concentrated there while the garrison was weak, to try and gain an entrance while the fight was going on at the stable.
In front of the gate and on the south side were a number of large pine logs, behind which the Indians had taken shelter while trying to fight away the boys from the palisades, before making their anticipated rush into the stockade. As the men came running at full speed to the gate they were met in front by a fierce fusillade from behind the logs. But it did not last long--the Indians ran, after delivering their fire, to the south side of the stockade, while the men ran inside. After a short time the Indians retreated to a greater distance and settled down to a monotonous firing and yelling.
It was now about 1 o'clock and the boys were wolfishly hungry, so Mrs. Hay and her daughter Elizabeth, with help from some of the boys, began to prepare them some food. In a short time the stove and fireplace were in full blast, loaded with kettles and coffee pots, frying pans and Dutch ovens, and the savory odor of frying bacon and beefsteak, mingled with the sulphurous vapor of burnt powder, was wafted out upon the night air--an incongruous perfume for the savage warriors outside, which seemingly cooled them off, for in a short time they built a large fire out in the woods a safe distance from the house and set their cooks to preparing a meal for themselves.
The fury of the conflict was perceptibly abated while these culinary preparations were in progress on both sides and while the contending warriors were satisfying their ravenous appetites. During the cooking of the meal inside the stockade, one of the boys, who was assisting and who was not noted for his bravery in anything else, was standing before the fire with his face in close proximity to a ten-pound sack of fine salt which was standing on the mantel, when a bullet from outside came ripping through a crack of the house and striking the salt sent it flying full in the face of the warrior cook. Think that he had been mortally wounded, and would soon be called before the Great Judge, he fell back on the floor, and set up a roaring prayer which would have done credit to any lying Pharisee--calling upon friend and foe to forgive him his many transgressions, and asking in a pleading whine that the Captain would communicate the news of his horrible fate to his dear disconsolate parents; while his comrades, knowing that he had only been well salted, greeted his disjointed moanings and requests with uproarious laughter and jeers. Presently he arose to his feet and vanished to an inner room, and was seen no more that night.
When the meal was ready and set out upon some boards, the men went to work by relays, some eating, some yelling at the Indians, who seemed to be doing the very same thing themselves. When at last all were satisfied war again broke out in stout earnest and continued after the same old plan, shooting and yelling, until about 1 o'clock, when the fire of the Indians began to slacken, and at last was only maintained by an occasional shot, and then after a short time it ceased entirely. The besieged did not believe that the Indians had abandoned the attack, but thought they were only trying a ruse similar to the one they had tried in the forepart of the night; so, keeping a diligent watch, the men stood at their posts ready at any moment to begin the fray again.
Let us now take the track of Jimmy Lowery, who was forced to leave his train and take to flight.
When his partner, Billy Sutherland, called to him to "Come on and let the mules go to -----," Jimmy struck his spurs deep into his mule, and with vigorous strokes of his tapojo forced the animal into a run. Bearing off to the left, he endeavored to pass the train and get to the ranch, but he had only started when a gang of yelling Indians rushed in ahead of him and compelled a rapid flight towards the mountain on the left followed by some distance by the speed-increasing zip! zip! zip! ping! ping! ping! of the bullets, as he dashed through the brush towards a safer place. Ascending the mountain to the ridge, he stationed himself in a place where he could command a clear view for some distance around him, and there he sat on his mule listening to the fury and uproar below, and conjecturing how it would end, and if he could ever again get a start in business, as he was sure, beyond a doubt, that the Indians had taken all the mules and merchandise. And Billy, was he safe? The last he saw of him, he was bobbing up and down along the road like a cask on rough water, making railroad speed towards the ranch. And so the day and night passed.
And now, reader, do you recollect that we left Olney, some time ago, backed into the hollow of an old pine tree to protect himself from the cold wind which was blowing over the ridge on which he was? It is now the time in our narration to return to him and recount his adventures. Sitting in his hollow tree until his feet became unbearably painful, and his body so benumbed with cold that exercise was absolutely necessary, he crawled out, after tearing off the lower parts of the legs of his pants and binding them on the bottoms of his feet, and started at a snail's pace along the backbone of the ridge, which was very sharp and rocky, with an occasional tree and shrub of manzanita. Locomotion was painful, but soon the blood began to circulate, and that, with the excitement of the situation, put him into a more comfortable state. The uproar at the ranch was still in full blast, with no signs of abatement, and it would not do to go down there in the darkness, so he must while away the time to the best advantage. Being very thirsty, he went down the side of the ridge nearest the ranch to where he heard the gentle rippling of water, and there, after removing the wet leaves and moldy bark and sticks from the very small and shallow stream, he slaked his thirst with an equal quantity of mud and water. It was not the best of water, nor mud either, but it was better than to suffer with such feverish thirst. The water was cold, and when he arose from drinking it he was seized with a shivering chill which made his teeth chatter and his bones ache. Locomotion was again necessary. Ascending the ridge again he advanced a short distance, when he was aroused from his pensive thoughts by the sharp cracking of a dry stick about one hundred yards ahead of him; stopping and listening, he was soon aware that he heard low muffled footsteps and occasionally a word spoken. Was it friend or foe? In doubt as to who it was, he thought best to get out of the way and await developments. During his walk along the ridge in the darkness he had frequently startled deer from their sleep or standing places, when they would give several successive jumps down the hill and then stand and listen. So, imitating the deer, he gave several vigorous jumps down the side of the ridge and landed in a clump of manzanita, where he remained listening. All was still save occasional rifle reports which would come echoing up from below, accompanied by the yells of the combatants. After listening a few minutes the footsteps advanced along the ridge, and now and then he could hear a muffled, guttural sound as of Indians talking. Presently he saw, for the moon was now shining, the forms of several Indians marching in file along over the place where he had but a few minutes before been standing. On they came, a long line of them. How he wished that he could blow them up, he would be willing to suffer death at the same time if he only could be able to touch a match to a train of powder that would send them to some other and hotter locality. They passed on, but it seemed an age before the last one had departed out of hearing. But at last they had all passed by and, after waiting to be sure of it a sufficient length of time, he came out of his hiding place and once more stood on the summit of the ridge.
The firing below had now almost ceased, and he was now so near the ranch that he fancied that he saw a cloud of smoke, as of a burning building, hanging over the house. The Indians have probably taken it and have set it on fire, or, if they have been driven away, what does that straggling fusillade mean.
Passing down the hill towards the ranch, and about half a mile from it, he sat down under a large log and pulled some pieces of bark over him to exclude the cold night air and wind, and there he determined to remain until daylight, which he knew was near at hand by the usual signs in the east. He fell into a sleep, but such a sleep--Indians with hideous gleaming eyes and painted faces were peeping under the log, under the bark which covered him, poking their knives into his face. Old hags with lighted pine slivers were, with great gusto, sticking them into his body, while the little imps of darkness were jumping gaily and in regular Christmas glee around him, and slashing his legs with their little holiday knives. The dream was too real and he awoke. Lizards, those little copper-bellied things, were playing hide and seek in his hair and ears, and streaked it up and down his back on his bare flesh, while those beautiful little tree worms, which it makes the blood curdle to look at, had been and were prospecting his sore and aching feet, putting their long feelers into every wound, and probing them in regular surgical style.
But daylight had come at last. Now for the ranch and see what its doom might be. Leaving his resting place, he passed through some brush and came out into an open space, and there to his surprise and delight he saw a large number of mules and horses, not near enough, however, to distinguish if they were Indian horses. He went up a little higher on the side of the mountain where there was a long line of brush running parallel with the open space. Passing along through the brush he came near enough to see, with the aid of the fast-increasing daylight, that some of the mules were packed, some with packs turned on their sides, others with packs or aparejos under them; horses, too, had bridles and saddles on; some horses and mules were lying on the ground, some were limping. What could it all mean? But strangest of all there were horses which he knew belonged to the company, and to Lowery and Sutherland. Sure enough there has been quite a rumpus kicked up, and what can the result be. Going from horse to horse and vainly endeavoring to catch one, he started at last to go down to the ranch. A heavy canopy of smoke hung over it, and all was still save the tinkle of the bells on the bell mares and an occasional and loud defiant bray by some stalwart mule, still in his glory.
Examining the mules and horses that were lying down he saw that they were dead--shot--some of them with guns, some with arrows, while not a few were wounded; and some had arrows sticking in them and were yet alive. Some were almost covered with arrows sticking in all parts of their bodies. Passing on he soon came into Hay's field back of the ranch, which was still standing. A motley crowd of beings, some with hats, and some without, were moving around. He stopped in the field to satisfy himself all was right, when he saw those at the ranch bring out their guns and come towards him, and a well-known voice exclaimed, "Hold on, boys, that's Olney!" and at the same time Jimmy Lowery came galloping down through the field.
[To be continued.]From the W. W. Fidler scrapbook, SOHS MS208 Evidently this installment was printed in an extra edition, now lost, sometime between December 27, 1878 and January 3, 1879.
Indian Hostilities in the Early Part of the Year 1856.
As stated before, the Indians ceased firing about 1 o'clock and retired from the attack and took up their line of march for some other field in which to operate, but it was not till the morning light had become sufficiently clear to distinguish objects far out in the wood that the besieged became satisfied that the Indians had actually departed. Then they came out and began an inspection of the ground surrounding the house. Here, one declared he saw an Indian fall, there, another had shot an Indian who was just poking his head up above the log when he gave him a deadly shot, because, "See here! Ain't that blood on the ground right here, and look at this, ain't this the mark of a bullet right here in this bark? There is just where his head was."
"I say, Pony, didn't that feller jump when I shot him in the shoulder as he was standing behind that tree?"
"You bet. How that chap right there in that brush give an awful howl when I sent a bullet into his paunch."
"Be me sowl, an what are yiz makin' so much noise about," exclaimed Dick, holding up a bloody breech cloth, "What d'yez call this?"
"Hurrah for Dick! First scalp for Dick," and like expressions, as the boys came running towards him to examine his trophy. Sure enough, it was a veritable bloody rag, a large hole and two smaller ones, and over them was the imprint of a hand with the thumb and fingers extended, as though clapped there instantly after the charge had penetrated the hips over which the rag had been worn. Dick claimed the shot, as he was the only one armed with a musketoon, the charge of which was an ounce ball and two buckshot.
Behind trees, logs, stumps and brush blood was found, plainly indicating that the Indians had suffered. And at the stable, where Dick had picked up the bloody rag, many marks were found showing that the Indians had suffered more than the boys, who, with the exception of some slight bruises, had escaped unhurt. As soon as breakfast had been served a strong guard had been sent out to recover the lost horses and pack mules, which were scattered for a mile around. A detachment under command of Capt. O'Neil was soon in readiness to go and care for the bodies of Davis and Wright; and when Olney's feet had been properly dressed by Mrs. Hay, who was kind and attentive to all, he mounted a horse and accompanied the command to point out the place where Wright had been killed.
They were delayed a short time to ascertain the final result of Alex Cardwell's wound. He was carefully attended to by Mrs. Hay and her daughter, but his wound proved fatal; he died about 8 o'clock. He left a wife and one child in Franklin County, Missouri. His body was buried near the house, where for a day and a night his grave was the only one, but there were soon four more beside it, the story of which will be told in subsequent chapters of this narrative.
The detachment was soon on the march, where [we] will leave them for a short time and follow the course of the two messengers who started out from the ranch to take the news of the attack to headquarters. I am sorry that I cannot give their names, as they were heroes, in a military sense, and in general men who risk their lives for the benefit of others who are not bad men. Place them in any situation in which their honor, intelligence and abilities are called upon, and disappointment will seldom follow. Men placed in a wild, unreclaimed country will inhale the wild, conventional air to a greater or less degree, and become encrusted with the roughness of their surroundings, and although many of them are very rough in this speech, yet we must consider their circumstances before judging them; and, after all, profanity is much more to be excused than the loud, canting prayers of lying hypocrites uttered in irreproachable language. I am led to make these remarks by the thought of the many slanders circulated by the army officers, before and after this time, calling the volunteers murderers, robbers, thieves and accusing them of inciting the Indians to war for the purpose of plundering them and the government. Lieutenant Bonnycastle of the 4th Infantry, at the time commanding at Fort Jones, says in his report to Gen. Wool respecting his expedition after some Indians who had maltreated a settler's wife on Shasta River: "An Indian from behind a bush fortunately shot and killed a white man named McKaney." Because McKaney was a volunteer, Lieut. Bonnycastle exulted in his being fortunately shot and killed. And Thomas Jefferson Cran, Captain Topographical Engineers, in his report to Maj. Gen. Wool, speaking of the discovery of Port Orford in 1851, and the brutal massacre of the party of discoverers, flippantly tells the story, calling it "Town Lots for Sale--Speculators," and goes on to rehearse a batch of falsehoods respecting the operations of the settlers and volunteers of Oregon, up to 1857, which General Wool endorses in part as follows: "I have the honor to transmit . . . a very able, interesting and truthful memoir and report," etc., etc. But enough at this time, for shortly I am to tell the discovery of Port Orford, and also of the operations of the citizen soldiers of Oregon, all of which will be found to be substantiated by the records of the state. But I have digressed and will now return to the hurrying messengers.
As the two men sallied forth, the Indians, without doubt, divined their mission and determined, if possible, to prevent them from executing it. The men took the road leading to Vannoy's, intending to ride down all opposition and make their way through the line of Indians, thinking that by keeping the road they could get there sooner than by any other way. But the savages ran from all points to frustrate them, and poured in such a hot fire that the men were compelled to change their course, so they ran down the creek a short distance, with a line of fire behind and in front, and on their left flank, over logs and stumps, through brush and scattering timber, expecting at every moment to be unhorsed, if not shot dead by the many and rapidly increasing bullets. With set teeth, and every nerve at its fullest tension, they scud along at a speed that would, even in daylight, have been imprudent, but cut loose from all hopes of succor, depending on their own knowledge of the route and the good bottom and speed of their noble horses, and filled with that daredevil and almost unconscious desperation which all feel in time of extreme peril, they knew that it was too late to recede, if they had so chosen, and the only course was, to use a vulgar but very applicable expression, "to let her rip!" and so they did. Off goes a hat--no time to pick it up. A bullet has cut the bridle rein of the hindmost man--can't help it now, the horse will follow the others. "Hurrah!" and they yell defiance, with a cold creeping of flesh along the backbone. Keeping down the creek a half mile or so, they turn to the left and make their way, with less speed, towards the head of Deer Creek. Coming out into the open space they stop for repairs. Mending the bridle rein and readjusting their cinches, they once more set out on their way, and at about 2 o'clock in the morning they made their appearance at Vannoy's. Orders were at once sent off by Major Bruce, who was in command at that place, to all the companies nearby to repair immediately to headquarters, and from thence to Hay's. A courier was dispatched to Jacksonville, also one to Grave Creek where some of the volunteer companies were encamped, with orders to hurry to the scene of conflict. By sunrise several companies reported to Major Bruce, who at once began his march to Hay's, leaving orders for the other companies to come on in haste. This was the morning of the 24th of March.
We now return to Capt. O'Neil, who, with a detachment, started towards Vannoy's ferry on the Slate Creek road to pick up the bodies of Davis and Wright. Proceeding to the spot where the body of Davis lay they found it at the roots of a large pine tree, entirely nude, for the Indians had appropriated the clothing. A bullet had, sure enough, penetrated the heart. The head was scalped down to the ears and then literally sawed from the body, the knees and elbows were unjointed, that is, cut off at the joints, and hung together only by a small strip of flesh which had been left for that purpose; deep ugly gashes were cut lengthwise in the thighs and fleshy parts of the arms, while knives had been plunged into the various parts of the body--a ghastly sight to look upon. Wrapping the body in a blanket, it was securely lashed on a pack mule, and on the party went to find the body of Wright. Half a mile above the forks of the creek, near the dense chaparral which crossed the narrow bottom of the creek, lay the body, stripped, but not mutilated, only so far as being scalped and a knife gash down through the heart. One thigh bone had been broken by a bullet, while a bullet had hit the back of the neck and come out at the throat, breaking the neck bone and cutting the windpipe in two. The body was covered with a blanket and packed similarly to Davis' body, and the command was again on the march for Vannoy's. Soon they met company after company on their way to Hay's ranch; each company must be told the particulars of the fight, and it took time to do it, so they did not arrive at Vannoy's until nightfall. Graves were soon dug and the bodies were buried side by side with military honors.
The company secured quarters for the night and by daylight of the morning of the 25th they were on their return to Hay's. When about halfway they were met by four men at full speed. "Hurry along, Captain!" they exclaimed, as soon as they came within speaking distance, "more fighting for you. The Indians have taken Coyote Evans' train and killed one of the packers; Evans and Big Dave, themselves, barely escaped." On they go, and O'Neil quickens his pace. A few miles further and another squad of fast riders come tearing down the hill. "Hurry on faster, Captain, Bruce is anxious for your company to come up as soon as you can. A big fight is going on at Eight Dollar Mountain, right on your old camp ground." And they vanished down the hill, while the company pushes its pace into a gallop. They "raise" the top of the hill a mile from Hay's and stop only a moment to "cinch up," and then away down the hill at a headlong gait till they reached the ranch. It was about 11 o'clock a.m. The men and horses were exhausted and as there were at least sixty men loitering around the ranch seemingly in a somewhat demoralized state, who ought to be in the fight, O'Neil determined to rest his men and horses before going to Eight Dollar Mountain.
On the morning of the 25th of March, as Coyote Evans' pack train, composed of about thirty mules loaded with merchandise for himself, was slowly ascending the trail leading from Reaves' ranch over a low ridge of the Eight Dollar Mountain, and then on towards Rogue River, they were startled by a solitary rifle shot from the direction of the mountain on their left. The "bell boy" called back to Evans and Dave, who were driving the train, that he saw somebody up on the mountain and believed it to be Indians, but they paid no more attention to him than to tell him to go on as there were no Indians in the country. So on he went, but with many misgivings, as the very air was solemn and dull as though death was lurking in it. The tinkle, tinkle, tinkle of the bell sounded with apprehensive and warning tones; the mules even stopped their usual monotone grunting and silently climbed the hill, as though fearful of arousing some undefined danger.
"I don't like the appearance of things, Dave," said Evans, "It's so still and awful. "What did that shot mean, anyway?
"Didn't mean anything. Some of the volunteers are out hunting. There are no Indians around here, because they've all gone down to the Big Meadows, but--Good God, what is that? Indians as sure as you live."
"That's so," replied Evans, "We must drive like h-ll to get by them. Pedro, whip up and go by that crowd of Indians!" And he and Dave began to urge along the mules as fast as whip and Mexican oaths would do it, while down the hill on the left came a gang of yelling savages on the run.
[To be continued.]
Indian Hostilities in the Early Part of the Year 1856.Away goes Pedro on the run, and the mules are getting a start too, while the two drivers are yelling and whipping them up. Just ahead of Pedro is a thicket of scrubby white oak and chaparral on the right, while on the left the little creek has cut away the bank until the trail is narrow, and still further to the left across the creek the country is open and slopes up to the foot of the mountain. The Indians coming down the hill have turned abruptly to the right, and are running down past the train on the left, as though intending to get to the rear. They have not yet fired on the train--a strange proceeding for Indians to attack such a weak train in that way; they must be afraid, and Evans and Davis are encouraged. If the Indians should have confronted them, things would have looked a little more squally. "Hurray! boys," shouted Dave, "we can save ourselves and the train yet," and the two men renewed their flagellations and Mexican profanity. Pedro has reached the thicket and the mules are close up to him; some have even passed him and are scampering ahead, for they as well as their drivers know that legs only will count in the unequal game. "Go ahead, Pedro! What do you stop for? Go on, you"--crack! crack! crack! and Pedro falls to the ground. From the thicket Indians dart out in crowds, mules wheel off to the left and fall headlong down the bank in wild confusion. Indians ahead, Indians behind, Indians all around, while yells and rifle shots drown the voice of the two men, who are still trying to urge forward the mules. "It won't do, Dave, save yourself," and Evans, who was in the rear, turned and went, as he afterwards expressed it, down the trail, through the Indians, "as though the devil was after him with a pitchfork, tines foremost," and did not stop till he had safely ensconced himself inside of Reeves' farm. Dave thought the best plan for him was to jump his riding mule down the bank and take a tack to the left and try to get on the safe side of the Indians by making headway to Hay's. Turning his mule to the left, he tumbled down the bank like a stone rolling from a wall, and went off in a beautiful style until his eyes (which were by this time the size of soup plates) espied a friendly face on an Indian body peer longingly at him from out [of] a cluster on his left.
"Hello, Sam! Is that you? Glad to see you; you're a good fellow, Sam. You don't want to kill me, do you?" "Hello, Dave! That you, eh? Me no want killee you. Me likee you. Injun there, no good. You hold on, Dave, me come you." And the loving smile did not relax as he advanced towards his friend Dave, who, childlike, had stopped and was awaiting the approach of the good Indian. Ah, Dave, how little do you know the thoughts of that blandly smiling child of nature, "whose untutored mind sees God in the clouds or hears him in the wind." "Hold on, Dave, me come." He wants you to get off your mule, Dave, and sit quietly down on the ground and let him, with a flourish, lift your topknot, and he would say to you, still smiling blandly as you squirm under his tender caresses, "Sit still, Dave, me cut your throat too," and suiting his actions to his tender words he'd split your wizzer as lovingly as he once ate your bread and sugar. Dave begins to think it a quien sabe case, as the peculiar and fauny glitter of Sam's eyes fall athwart his own optics, and jamming his bloody spurs into his mule's flanks he gathered headway for a fresh start towards a more friendly neighborhood, while Sam, believing that circumstances sometimes annul obligations, innocently changed his adopted programme and said in an altered tone, while his fascinating smile fell down around his neck like a withered wreath, "You d-----d son 'a ------ I kill." But Dave had gone. The beautiful change was lost to him, but the words last spoken had the effect to cause him to jam the rowels a little deeper into the mule's flanks. He was making fine headway, but not fast enough to escape Sam's bullet, which was sent after him as a parting gift. What is the matter, Dave? A bullet more or less which singes the cuticle of your side is nothing to speak of. Go on down the road now, the coast is clear. On he went to Hay's and told the story of the attack to Lieut. Col. W. W. Chapman, who immediately sent Major Bruce to ascertain the position of the Indians and engage them.
The Major called out the companies and immediately began his march. A few men more anxious than the others galloped on ahead to have the first shot at the enemy, who were not seen until the venturesome men had begun to climb the sharp backbone of the ridge; when out from the brush on all sides a rattling fire was directed at them that caused the men to hastily dismount and take cover. But Finley Collins, a fiery, hotheaded man, dashed at full speed up to the summit of the ridge, thereby drawing upon himself the fire of nearly the whole of the Indians, and the result was that he was completely riddled with bullets and fell to the road, while his horse ran madly over the ridge and away down over the uneven and stony ground and was never seen again by anyone but the Indians. John McCarty took cover in a small thicket from whence he did good execution. Being a good shot, and cool, he is reported to have tumbled several of the enemy in rapid succession, when the Indians concentrated their fire upon him and soon the cry rang out, "John is killed, boys, we must get out of this!" and soon one near him ran to where he lay and secured his gun, and away they went on foot down the hill, for to attempt to mount their horses would have been almost certain death.
At this juncture the volunteers, who are two hundred yards behind, are becoming hotly engaged with the Indians, who are strung along the base of the mountain, parallel with the road. About twenty men dismounted at an old field, and tying their horses to the fence climbed the side of the mountain next to Deer Creek, thinking to flank the Indians, while Captain Williams with his company engaged them in front. Major Bruce kept on the road, with about fifty men, to where Collins and McCarty had been killed.
Now the battle of Eight Dollar Mountain has begun in mortal earnest. No broadside volleys were delivered, but a continuous, rattling pop! pop! pop! of rifles and revolvers. The volunteers pressed the Indians slowly up the mountain, and for half a mile the smoke, at first in isolated puffs, gradually assumed a continuous line, and slowly ascended to and lingered among the tops of the pine trees and appearing like an immense conflagration. The volunteers were compelled to uncover as they advanced up the mountain, while the Indians could retire from rock to rock and from thicket to thicket, with but little exposure. For half an hour the battle rages, the boys advancing, the Indians retiring, until all are near halfway to the top. The party of twenty who had intended to flank the Indians had been themselves flanked, and soon a shout was heard, "See there, boys, the Indians are running down towards our horses; come on, we must get to them first!" And each man turns, and away they go down the side of the mountain--they and the Indians on a steeple chase down the rough and rocky decline, one to save, the other to gain some horses. The Indians had a little the start--but don't say that an Indian can outrun a white man--down they plunged, both parties, not firing, but yelling "for all that was out." The battle was still raging far up on the mountain, and this little side game was not seen by the other combatants. They had it all to themselves, and were making it quite lively for each other. They were now within a hundred yards of the horses when --"See there, boys!" And four horses began to vanish, each with a yelling savage on his back urging him along in the most approved Indian style. "Keep the others off while we give those devils a parting salute," and half a dozen rifles ring out sharp and clear. Hurrah! one saddle is empty, and away goes the horse down, away down yonder into that heavy timber, but one good Indian is left to fill the aching void. His scalp will be a legal tender for the horse. The boys have secured the remainder of the horses and the Indians have vamoosed; but not till they had given the boys a farewell salute, which was politely and promptly returned. The boys mount the remaining horses and, as the noise of the battle on the side of the mountain has not abated, but on the contrary has become louder and more clamorous, they turn their horses' heads and dash away at full speed--Where to? Hay's ranch. They do not intend to run away, not at all, but it is now noon, and they have only gone to get their dinner; they will be back soon--quien sabe.
Let us now go up the mountain to see what Captain Williams is doing. Williams is a Scotchman, impetuous, brave, stubborn. The Indians are now coming down on him, for he is all alone with his little squad of fifteen men; but they stand their ground. The captain is reckless, and calls continually on his men to give it to the enemy. His broad accent is heard loud and clear, and now and then he attempts to join in the mutual yells, which attempts, the boys said, had a surprising effect, as it sounded as though there had been a double broadside fired at the Indians, and they invariably became mute whenever the captain let off one of his blood-curdling yells.
"Jock! where are you?" shouts the captain to Jake Rhodes, one of his best men, "Now as I think o'ut we'd better git oot o' this," and Jake thought so too, and so did they all. "But what shall I do with Phillips?" asked Jake, "He's not dead yet. I've put him behind a big rock." "Bring him aloong, mon, bring him aloong, he'd better die wie us, mon, than to be finished by them dirty hathen."
Jake and another man seized Phillips, one taking hold of each arm, and started down the mountain, while Williams and the remainder brought up the rear. The Indians saw indications of retreat on the part of the volunteers and began to press down closer and closer, and it soon became apparent to all that it was necessary to make better time in order to escape being surrounded by the Indians and entirely cut to pieces.
Ashland Tidings, January 17, 1879, page 1
Indian Hostilities in the Early Part of the Year 1856.
They had no time to loiter, for the Indians seemed to be getting more numerous every moment. The firing at the farther end of the line where Maj. Bruce was in command had ceased, and his men came down the road as if in retreat, while the Indians began pouring the bullets into them faster than ever. They quickened their pace, and soon the falling back movement became a little more exciting.
"Phillips is dead, Jake," said his companion as they were at the full run, dragging the wounded man after them. "Let's leave him; we've done all we can, and there's no use in losing our scalps to save his dead body."
"Not if I know myself," said Jake. "How would you like it to be left for the Indians to mangle your body."
"'Twouldn't hurt me any, I reckon," said he, "and I'll be blamed if I am agoing to drag him any further."
"I'll take him down myself if I can't get help," replied Jake. "Here, Captain, I want someone to help me pull Phillips along; he's too heavy for me, he's stone dead, but I don't intend to let go of him till I get him to the ranch."
"That's right, mon, that's right," blurted out the Captain. "We must take him along. Come boys, someone of you help Jake, and we'll put back them davels. Come on noo."
And they began again, the few that were left, to descend the mountain at an improvement on the double quick. When they had reached the road, the Indians were far behind. They found a horse tied nearby, and putting the body of Phillips on it they set out for the ranch as a rear guard, for they were the last to leave the field. It was four miles to the ranch from the battleground, and it was not till quite late that the last man had reached the ranch.
Captain O'Neil rested his men and horses an hour or so, and then, reinforced by about forty men from other companies, started for Eight Dollar Mountain. They had not gone far when they met Bruce and his men on their return. It was too late, the Major said, to continue the affair that day, but on the next day they could take an early start and perhaps could recover the train and clean out the Indians. O'Neil pushed on and was soon overtaken by Captains Alcorn and ------ with their companies, and thus formed a detachment sufficient if properly handled to whip the Indians. Instead of taking the main trail on which the fight had begun in the morning, they deflected to the left and turned the point of a hill which lay east of and opposite the battleground, and about a quarter of a mile distant. At the foot of the hill a line of battle was formed, about one hundred yards long, and they began to ascend to the top of the ridge, from which point it seemed evident that they could spy out the position of the enemy. Reaching the summit, the line of battle was halted and the surroundings inspected. Failing to discover any visible signs of the Indians the detachment slowly and cautiously descended the hill towards the point where Collins and McCarty had been killed. The remains of Collins were lying in the road on the summit of the ridge, stripped, and the head horribly mutilated, flattened between two stones. That of McCarty was found lying in the small thicket where he had sought shelter when the Indians first fired upon them. The body of Pedro was lying where he fell, stripped and brutally mutilated. The bodies were sent to Hay's under a strong guard, and there buried by the side of Alex Caldwell. Captains O'Neil and Alcorn with their companies then proceeded to Reeves' ranch, about ten miles away, and there encamped awaiting further orders.
The next day, O'Neil was ordered on to Briggs', and on the day following that returned to Hay's, where a permanent camp was established, composed of the companies of Captains Alcorn, George, O'Neil, Williams and Wilkinson, with Lieut. Col. W. W. Chapman, Maj. Bruce and Regimental Surgeon D. W. Douthitt.
The day was drawing nigh when the people were to vote on the adoption of the constitution of the new state of Oregon, and of course all field operations must be delayed until that task was accomplished. [Oregon voters approved the state constitution on November 9, 1857; the events of this chapter took place late March of 1856, when Oregon was preparing to vote on whether to hold a constitutional convention.] The Indians cared nothing for the constitution, but on the contrary their care was on the main chance, that is, to secure Evans' train with all the ammunition and other things with which it was laden; besides picking up a few more horses, mules and cattle to add to their commissary which they were establishing at the Big Meadows. Scouting parties were often sent out to ascertain, if possible, the locality of the Indians, but in each instance reported that no enemy was to be found.
Politicians, great and small, principally the latter class, began to arrive in camp, to influence the vote of the boys, and speeches for and against the constitution were rehearsed to the few of the boys who cared to listen. Day and night was heard the speaker on constitutions and political economy, howling away on his pet theme, as though there was not an enemy within the state. The speaking was dry food for the boys, and it was no wonder that they longed for something more to the point. Neither were they to be blamed if they began to look around for something that would add a little fun to the otherwise dry life they were leading in camp. No shooting allowed, for ammunition was scarce, and the boys were in dire distress till the word went slyly out that, amongst a lot of goods belonging to a packer who had taken refuge at the ranch, were a few cases of brandy peaches. The packer, having complete faith in the honesty of the boys, had covered up his pile of boxes with a large canvas cover and turned his attention elsewhere. Solomon missed a note when he said that there were but three things that could not be found out--the track of a ship in the seas, the track of a snake on a rock and the ways of a maid--He might have added the tricks whereby a soldier gets whiskey. It was soon perceived that there was something unusual going on amongst the boys, for in a short time the gait of some of them became a little unsteady, and an occasional "Whoopee!" was heard to echo through the woods. Mage, an attache of Col. Chapman's staff, began to show unmistakable evidence that he thought the whole responsibility of the campaign after the Indians rested on his shoulders alone. The boys must be drilled in the mysteries of military tactics, and he prevailed upon Col. Chapman to issue orders to the captains to drill their companies to make them more efficient in the field. Captain Williams, having one evening partaken of the boys' brandy peaches, ordered his company to fall in and go through the manual. Knowing nothing more of military drill than he had picked up in Scotland while a boy watching the Scottish train bands, he called on his men to, "Coom along ye; stond oop in a row now, straight oop mon. What the de'il ye stoop so for? I can drull ya. Thar noo, put your right hond on the hup, and when I gie the word whirl around soo," and the doughty captain performed a pirouette and continued, "thar noo, that's about face," and he put his company through the "about face" till one of them, Jake Rhodes, stepped out of the line and sat down on a log. The captain stopped. "What noo mon? Fall in, I say," and he glared savagely. "Fall in, ------," broke in Jake. "Do you suppose that I'm ------ fool enough to stand up there and go through that ------ fool performance?" A roar of laughter followed, and company drill was indefinitely postponed.
"Oh! ow! let go! won't ye--doggone, it ain't me stole the peaches. Ow! that hurts now ------." The remainder of the pleading lamentation was drowned by the rush of the boys to the house to ascertain who was in such distress, and the cause of it, and they found Mrs. Hay holding onto the ear of Silky and pouring denunciations loud and fast upon his devoted head. "Didn't steal 'em, eh! Who did then, I'd like to know? You're the one who stole my pies; I've suspicioned you a long time," and giving Silky's ear an extra twitch, she went in and closed the door amid a loud hurrah from the boys, who enjoyed it hugely, and Silky was thereupon christened "Brandy Peaches."
It was decided that Hay's ranch should be made impregnable to Indians, by being surrounded by a new and larger row of palisades, and some of the men were set to work in gangs, under corporals and sergeants, cutting logs and hauling them to the ground; others were set to work digging the trench and filling in the dirt. A bastion was erected at each of the four corners, well supplied with portholes, as were the entire sides of the square. When it was completed it was called "Fort Elizabeth," in honor of Elizabeth Hay, the undisputed heroine of the siege of Hay's ranch.
The voting on the constitution passed off with an almost unanimous vote for it [actually, the April 1856 vote failed, with 4186 for the constitutional convention and 4435 against], for there were not many who had read the instrument, but they relied entirely on the declamatory statements of its supporters, whose reasoning was, on some points, quite crooked, as, for instance, should the constitution be defeated, Oregon, of course, would remain a territory, and would have to pay the expense of the Indian war. The United States did not pay any war claims of a territory, and, as a matter of course the volunteers must look to the impoverished Territory of Oregon for their pay; but vote for the constitution, make Oregon a state, and the general government must, and would, pay them for their honorable services at the rate of one hundred dollars per month, besides (and the speaker said that he would see to it) each man would be given a land warrant. And the loud hurrahs for the constitution showed plainly from which point the wind was blowing.
No news of the Indians had been received since the battle of Eight Dollar Mountain, and as General Lamerick had issued a general order rendezvousing the Southern Battalion, 2nd Reg. O.M.V., at the mouth of Applegate on the 10th day of April, which was not far distant, the companies, one by one, left the general camp and marched to the designated rendezvous. Co. E was the last to leave Hay's, because some of its members were out scouting, and the captain concluded to wait their return. On their arrival in camp they reported Indian signs making in the direction of the Slate Creek trail. Men enough were left at Fort Elizabeth to hold it, and Company E began the march to Applegate, Captain O'Neil in advance with thirty men and the 1st Lieut. bringing up the rear. While descending the hill to Slate Creek the rear guard was aroused by a succession of rifle shots in advance. "Forward, boys!" and down the hill they went, while the firing increased.
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, January 24, 1879, page 1
Indian Hostilities in the Early Part of the Year 1856.
"Here, Sergeant! Take six men and occupy that ridge out there. Corporal, keep ten men with you and don't let the pack mules stampede, and stay here till you get orders to move. Come on, boys!" And down the hill they charged. "This way, boys, we must secure that ridge to our left," and the bold Lieutenant dashed down the gulch followed by his men, when they were arrested by the voice of the Captain. "Hello, Lieut.! there's nothing wrong, the boys are only excited over a deer, I told one of the boys to shoot, and every d----d one in the company blazed away." "Darn it, Captain, that is a ------ queer way of setting us up," and the Lieutenant foamed and fizzed, while the men haw-hawed and climbed up the hill again to the trail. The Lieutenant was in a bad humor. The Captain came down the hill, looking cautiously around, and pulled something out of his breast pocket, while a doubtful grimace overspread his fat face. "Here, Lieutenant, smell of this bottle, we're even now; you fooled me the other day with that big yarn you told. Now let's call it quits." The Lieutenant was instantly pacified at sight of the bottle, and taking it in his hand he sniffed a long time, then smiled again, and he and the Captain were friends once more.
The march was resumed, and towards night the company reached the rendezvous of the Southern Battalion, where in a few days several hundred men, rank and file, were assembled. It can be truly said of raw volunteers, as well as of idiots, that they don't know everything. Officers as well as men were put to their trumps to understand the military terms used by some of the more learned officers. "General," inquired a certain Captain, "how many men have you here?" "Seven hundred, rank and file," replied the General. The Captain went his way with a puzzled expression on his countenance, repeating to himself "rank and file, rank and file, well, lemme see," and he brightened up as he saw a brother Captain bearing down upon him. Going up to him he asked, in an undertone, fearing he might be heard by some of the wicked boys, "What is the meaning of rank and file, Captain?"
"Rank and file?"
"Yes, what is the meaning of the term?"
"Why, Captain, I thought you understood military terms.:
"Well, I do, generally, but you see, I never heard that term before till Lamerick said there were seven hundred men here, rank and file."
"That is easily enough explained. He means there are seven hundred men to fall in rank and answer to their names at roll call, and then, you see, when we get ready to start to the Big Meadows he'll file them off into companies."
"Ah, yes, I see," and the Captains separated.
The volunteers had been in the service, under the new arrangement, for near three months, and they were some of them quite destitute of clothing, and Quartermaster Peters was hailed with delight when he arrived in camp with supplies of clothing for them. The goods were opened and distributed to those who chose to call for them, and in a few days the boys were strutting around in new suits, and songs and stories became the order of the day as soon as their bodies had been properly clothed, and the tobacco users had been supplied with that precious poison.
During their stay in camp, the news of the massacre of the settlers at the Cascades was received with particulars. How the settlers were driven into a blockhouse and were compelled to be on the fight day and night, until relieved by volunteers and regular troops. Bill Moore listened attentively to the recital, and when he had heard it all he said in his usual quiet tone, "That's pretty tough, but nothing like the attack on Galice Creek last fall."
"Tell us all about it, Bill, come, you're a good hand at spinning yarns."
"There's no yarn about it, it's as true as anything you ever heard, but I'm not going to tell it out here in the cold. I don't care about telling it anyway, for it's a long story."
"Why you don't you write it out and send it to Harper's Magazine, 'twould be a splendid yarn--I mean story."
"Write it out! If you'll set up a mark I'll bet my old Hawkins that I can beat any man in camp shooting at it or at an Indian either, but when you talk about writing anything out, you needn't count me in."
"Come up to the fire," said the Lieut. Colonel, who had overheard the conversation, "and then you can tell us all about it. There is plenty of room, boys, come on all of you; and I think, Bill, that you'll find something in there," pointing to his tent, "that will help you along." Bill's eyes sparkled; he thought he knew what that something was, so, getting up, he limped off towards the fire with his eyes fixed on the tent that covered that mysterious something.
"What makes him limp so?" inquired someone of the anxious crowd that followed him.
"Never mind, he'll tell all about it. It was mighty tight times for him, but wait and you'll hear it all."
They were again at the fire, and Bill went inside of the tent, but what happened there could only be conjectured, for like all other secret conclaves nothing is known by outsiders but its effects, and as the effects on Bill seemed to improve him, no questions were asked.
"Give me a chaw of tobacco, somebody," said he, as he sat down on the block of wood which had been procured for his seat. Taking a large quid he began. "You know, boys, that Galice Creek is about forty miles below here, and empties into Rogue River from the south side. The diggings on the creek have been worked for a number of years, and have paid about as well as any other diggings in this section of the country. In the summer of 1855 the miners on the creek became aware that there was something up amongst the Indians, and all signs showed plainly that we were going to have trouble. We knew that the Indians were slyly on the war path higher up the river, and had killed in the month of June four or five men in the Illinois Valley; but did not expect that they would come down there. There were so many miners on the creek, and all well armed, that we thought the Indians would be afraid to tackle us. Reports came at short intervals that the Indians had killed a person here and there, on the upper part of the river, and in Illinois Valley, but the chiefs, Limpy, John, Sam, George and others were, to all appearances, friendly and told the regular officers in command of U.S. troops that there were only a few bad Indians, that they and the great majority were friendly, and that there was no real danger to be apprehended; that the few murders that had been committed were to be laid to the charge of a few very bad Indians that the chiefs could not control, and that they, the chiefs, had been doing, and would continue to do, all in their power to apprehend and bring them to trial.
"Things went on in this way until the 9th of October, 1855, when the Indians threw off the mask and fell upon the most exposed parts of the settlements, and began an indiscriminate massacre of the inhabitants. As soon as we got the news at Galice Creek of the massacre at Evans' ferry on Rogue River, and of the murder of the Wagoner family on Applegate, and that of Jones and Harris, we began to keep our eyes open, expecting that the Indians would come down upon us in a body some night and clean the creek out from end to end. The miners held a meeting and agreed to 'lay their claims over,' that is, they passed a law that if anyone owning a claim on the creek or within the limits of Galice Creek mining district should choose to leave his diggings and volunteer, or for other reasons, it should not be lawful for anyone to enter upon said claim during the absence of the proper owner. Thereupon the miners stacked up their sluiceboxes, and taking their other effects on their backs, or on the backs of horses or mules, they scattered in all directions, some for parts unknown, some went up the river and joined various volunteer companies, while others, myself among them, stayed on the creek and organized a company with the determination of holding our ground and taking care of our property, which we had brought together at the mouth of the creek. There were only about forty of us, but we knew that we could defend ourselves against as many Indians as could be brought against us, as the volunteer companies above would keep the most of the Indians busy up there. We elected Billy Lewis Captain and your humble servant was elected 1st Lieut. As soon as we had got our company in working order we began looking about for a suitable place for a blockhouse. We picked upon a large log house on a wide bar on the river, and soon repaired it and made some additions which we thought might be necessary in case of an attack, although we did not indulge much apprehension of such an event. But we had several women and children with us, and as they looked to us for protection we thought best to have everything safe. We moved all our traps and supplies into our headquarters and soon had everything snug and in order, ready at any time for an attack. In a few days after we had got everything ready, we received news that everybody was forted up in the settlement above us, and that the Indians were getting the best of some of the regular troops in the skirmishes they were having; that it was believed that the Indians had divided their warriors; that George and Limpy had gone down Rogue River, and would probably pay us a visit in a short time, and by reason of their successful raid upon the settlements around Evans' ferry they would pitch into us with great expectations of cleaning us out. But we had no fears on that score, for we were well armed and on the lookout for them, while the settlers above had been taken by surprise, and each family was alone without means for defense. In their attack on Harris' house, Mrs. Harris kept them away until some volunteers came to her assistance."
"Tell us about that, Bill," said someone in the crowd of listeners. "Well, it will interfere with my own story some, but then I'll tell you all I know about it."
THE ATTACK ON HARRIS' HOUSE.
"Sometime prior to the 6th day of Oct. 1855, the Indians had all left the Table Rock reserve. The military authorities at Fort Lane were applied to for assistance to induce them to return, but the efforts of the officers proved fruitless, and they returned to the fort, leaving the Indians in the field in a hostile attitude. On the following day, the 7th, Agent Ambrose, accompanied by Major Lupton, went to the Indians' camp and again endeavored to induce them to abandon their hostile intentions and return to the reservation. The Indians told him plainly that they would not; that they intended to kill all the settlers; that they were determined to go to war and that there was no use in talking any more. It was then apparent to all but the military commandant at Fort Lane that force must be used to protect the settlers of Rogue River Valley from being massacred.
"Major Lupton took the result of Agent Ambrose's interview with the Indians to the volunteers, who were encamped on Butte Creek. It was decided to delay no longer, so the company was put in motion, and in the evening of the same day, the 7th, arrangements were perfected for an attack on the Indians' camp the next morning before daylight. As soon as it was sufficiently dark to hide their movements, the volunteers surrounded the Indian camp, far enough away to prevent their being observed by them. The necessary instructions were given, a guard stationed at proper places, and all then lay down to await daylight and the order to move to the attack."
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, January 31, 1879, page 1
Indian Hostilities in the Early Part of the Year 1856.
"As the first faint glimmer of daylight began to make its appearance in the east, the men were aroused, and the order given to close up around the camp. When they had approached to within a hundred yards the Indian dogs gave the alarm, and the Indians came rushing out of the camp. The volunteers, with a shout, charged into the very midst of them, and the fight was truly a hand-to-hand fight in the dark, for it was scarcely yet light enough to distinguish friend from foe. It did not last long, but it was hot while it did last. The Indians scattered and the volunteers were victorious. Major Lupton and ------ Sheppard were killed, and seven others more or less severely wounded. Several Indian bodies were found, and many more were seen by the volunteers, to be carried off. [See here for less biased versions of the Lupton Massacre.]
"This was on the morning of the 8th, and on the following morning the Indians were again gathered together and made an attack on Evans' ferry and surrounding settlements. Among the settlers attacked was Mr. Harris. The family was composed of Mr. Harris and wife, son and daughter and a Mr. Reed. The family were watchful, and the surprise was not complete. Mr. Reed and young Harris were in a field near the house and did not see the Indians approaching the house, as there were some patches of brush which screened them from sight. Four Indians were sent to watch the two men in the field, and were to shoot them down as soon as those at the house were attacked. Mr. Harris was out in the dooryard and saw the Indians coming creeping cautiously along and shying around the stable as though trying to hide. As soon as he discovered them he called to his wife that Indians were coming, and started to run into the house. The Indians, finding that they were discovered, began firing at Harris as he ran, and just as he reached the door a bullet struck him, and he plunged headlong into the door, mortally wounded. His wife and daughter pulled him into the house. The daughter, too, was wounded, but heroically assisted her mother to draw her father out of range of the Indian rifles. When the firing began at the house, the Indians who had been sent to watch Reed and young Harris were not yet ready to perform their part of the tragedy, and the two men had passed over a part of the ground between them and the house before the Indians fired on them, but the savages took deliberate aim from their rests on the fence, and as the men were running in a direct line from them, succeeded in bringing them both to the ground--shot dead. The Indians then ran to the house to assist, as they anticipated, in plundering it, but they were to be disappointed. The heroic Harris, though mortally wounded, told his wife to hurry and bar the door, which she had only succeeded in doing when the Indians rushed against it with great force, thinking to break it in, but the door was built of thick plank and defied their efforts for the time, but they might have eventually succeeded had not Harris, although suffering fearful agony, instructed his wife how to load and handle the gun; instructions which she was quick to understand and put into practical use. Assisted by her daughter, who was only nine years old and severely wounded, she soon succeeded in driving the Indians from the house. Harris soon died, and the mother and the daughter were left alone to defend themselves against the yelling savages. As Mrs. Harris would load the gun and be ready for a shot, the heroic child would peep through the cracks of the house, regardless of the many bullets that came tearing through, and tell her mother where to get a good shot. 'Here, Mother,' she would say, 'come here, you can hit that one, he is standing still.' And the clear report of the mother's rifle would be heard, and generally with good effect. 'You hit him, Mother. Now hurry and shoot that one who is running this way. I think he has got Brother's hat and coat on. Do, Mother, hurry. I know he has killed my brother,' and the wounded child redoubled her sobs as she continued. 'They've killed Father and Brother, and won't they kill us too, Mother?' 'I don't know, dear,' answered the heartbroken mother, 'I think we can keep them away until somebody comes to help us. Sit down, my child, you are too badly hurt to be up any longer.' 'May I close Papa's eyes, Mother; that is the way they do to dead persons. But is he really dead, Mother? Maybe he will get well and then we'll go away from here. Oh! Mother, do you think Brother is dead too? Maybe he has got away, and that ugly Indian found his coat in the field.' The mother had little comfort to give her child, for she had heard the firing in the field and knew too well what the result must necessarily be. But she consoled the child as well as she could, while still loading and firing at the Indians, who had retired a short distance from the house but did not show any disposition to leave. All day the two bereaved ones were on the alert, lest by some chance the Indians should get the advantage of them. Night came at last, and Mrs. Harris determined to make her escape if possible. To leave the body of her husband was a sad necessity, but the life of her child and herself might only be saved by getting out of the house and trying to escape. As soon as it was dark she took her child, who by this time was suffering greatly, and gently opening the door stepped out into the darkness and started, where she did not just then know, but she hoped that the darkness would cover her flight and allow her to make her way to a place of safety. Her gun was of no further use, for the bullets were all used up, but she had a revolver, and a few bullets for that, so, stepping out of the door, with the child in her arms, holding the revolver ready for use in defense, she began her doubtful and dangerous flight. She had gone but a few steps when she was discovered by the Indians, who began to fire at her from all directions. There was a large treetop near the house which would, in the darkness, afford some shelter, to which she ran as fast as she was able. Crawling in, regardless of the bullets, which cut the brush all around her, she made her way to the center and there sat down, resolved to defend herself as long as possible. As soon as she stopped, she heard some one, or more, of the Indians following her. Raising her pistol, she fired in the direction of the sound, and was relieved to hear a startled groan and a hurried retreat in the opposite direction. She felt tolerably secure now from attack in that way, but she greatly feared that some of the many bullets would find her out, and so disable her as to prevent further resistance. As soon as the Indians discovered her flight they rushed into the house, and in a few minutes had appropriated all that was desirable and then set the house on fire. They danced and yelled around the blazing building during the forepart of the night, then suddenly left. Mrs. Harris was not certain that they had gone, but thought that some of them might still remain in the vicinity to watch her movements. She remained in the treetop during the long, weary hours, weak for the lack of food and water, while her wounded child suffered greatly for lack of water and proper treatment of her wound. The child had been very restless, of course, during the night, and when the sun was up sufficiently to warm the air the heroic little sufferer fell asleep, and her mother laid her upon the ground with her head pillowed on part of the blanket with which she had provided herself before she had left the house. Soundly the child slept, and the weary mother with great difficulty kept awake, but her faculties were dulled by exhaustion, and she sat half asleep and half awake, but yet alert enough to catch any sounds of danger. The child soon became restless again. Presently she seemed to be listening; raising herself upon her elbow as well as she could, she pointed down the road, saying:
" 'Mother, I hear a great noise down that way. It sounds like a band of horses or cattle coming. Do you think any more Indians will come?'
" 'I can't tell, my child; it may be Indians coming, but are you sure you hear a noise?'
" 'I heard it when I had my ear near the ground and--I hear it now, don't you?'
" 'Yes, hush, child, do not say anything more, they may hear us. Oh, God, send us help in our great trouble,' and the mother's fortitude gave way, and for the first time during her great trial she found relief in tears.
" 'Look, Mother! I see them coming, look through there, can't you see them? They are running, can't you see them yet?'
" 'Yes, my dear. I see them, but I am trying to see if they are white men or Indians.'
" 'O, they are white men, Mother, don't you see how they ride? Indians don't ride that way. Don't you recollect how Father used to say that he could tell an Indian as far as he could see him by the way he kept kicking his feet in and out when his horse was running? They don't ride that way.'
" 'You are right, my dear, they are white men and we are safe, but your poor Papa and brother,' and the widow and orphan mingled their tears in anguish, for now all danger was over and the pent-up fountains of their grief that had been only partially assuaged now found full vent, and for a few moments they lay there in that friendly treetop clasped in each other's arms, as a full realization of their bereavement and desolation came upon them. The volunteers came up to the burning house and sat on their horses surveying the ruins, and were greatly surprised when Mrs. Harris and her child appeared before them. With three loud, hearty cheers they welcomed the widow and orphaned child to the friendly protection of the company."
As Bill thus drew his narrative to a close, the listeners testified their appreciation of it by three cheers and a vote of thanks, and Bill was again invited to visit the inside of the tent, which invitation he accepted with alacrity, and as he came out with a smile on his always pleasant face it was a good sign that he would continue his story about the "Siege of Galice Creek," which he promised to do on the following evening. It was now time for roll call, and the voices of the orderly sergeants were heard in a loud key giving the order to "fall in," which was quietly and rapidly obeyed by the men. Soon was heard the sergeants calling the names in monotonous tones and the discordant answer of the men. Fires were put out, all lights extinguished and quiet reigned in camp, save the dull, measured tramp, tramp, tramp of the sentry, as he walked his lonely beat.
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, February 7, 1879, page 1
Indian Hostilities in the Early Part of the Year 1856.
At an early hour in the evening a large crowd of the boys were gathered around the Lieut. Col.'s campfire, eager for Bill to begin his story about the siege of Galice Creek. Bill presently made his appearance and, after going into the tent upon invitation, he took his seat at the fire and made ready to begin his story by placing his lame foot in a comfortable position and getting a new quid of tobacco between his molars. Looking around in rather a puzzled manner, he said, "I don't exactly know where I left off when I began to tell you about the attack on Harris' house."
"It was where you had got everything into a blockhouse and had yourselves ready for an attack."
"Well, as I was saying we had no fears of being cleaned out even if we should be attacked, which we all doubted. We did not have much provisions, and for meat we had to depend on our rifles. Someday it came my turn to go out after game. I don't mean to say I went alone, but that I was one of the six who were detailed for that duty. We went out in three squads, two men together. One party went up the river, one down, and another back in the hills and up the creek. It was my fortune to go up the creek, so my pard and I set out before daybreak, and by the time it was light we were five miles from the house. The country, in spots, is open and well grassed; many fine springs of water issue from the sides of the hills, and the depressions, or 'wallows' as we called them, were to be found at short intervals on the gentle rolls of the hills and occasionally on the summit of a ridge.
"We had killed two deer and were sitting down by a small fire, which we had kindled, and broiling each a piece of steak, for we were hungry and camp was too far off for us to go to it before satisfying our hunger.
" 'I say, Bill,' said my pard, 'Don't you believe Old Limpy is around in these hills watching for a chance to pounce upon our blockhouse?'
" 'Very likely,' I answered, 'I had begun to think that somebody has been hunting in these hills since we were up here two weeks ago. The game is scarce today and everything seems to wear a strange look; the squirrels don't seem lively at all. I've had a strange feeling all day. I believe that we'll have trouble before long.'
" 'Well, let's start up and go down to the house,' replied my pard. 'It is late and we must hurry along, because, hurry as we will, we'll make slow time carrying these heavy deer--Hark!'
A rifle report--two--three--then all was still. The reports came from the hills up the river above our blockhouse; we knew but two of our boys went up there in the morning and they could fire but two shots in such rapid succession. It could not be them. The very stillness seemed to prognosticate a coming fray. We gathered up our game--each one slinging a deer over his shoulders--and started for the blockhouse. My pard, who was ahead about ten steps, said to me, 'Bill, you must keep your ears open from behind and I'll do the same from the front--horse fashion. You know when horses are traveling those in the rear keep their ears turned back, while those in front keep their ears well forward, so that they can better catch sounds in either direction.' 'All right,' said I, 'go ahead, but I don't believe that we'll see any Indians today. If they are meditating an attack on us they will make it at daylight some morning for----.'
" 'Down, Bill! Down! Do you see that?' And throwing himself down behind a cluster of brush he pointed down the hill directly in our front to a dozen or more mounted Indians and about fifty on foot who were rapidly crossing our track and heading down the river. All of them were armed and from their rapid movements seemed to be intent on accomplishing some already arranged plan. Fortunately we were so far away they did not discover us. Remaining in our hiding place after the last one had passed out of sight, at least fifteen minutes, we again set out for the blockhouse with no fear of running across the Indians, as they in all probability intended to go below us and leave their horses and traps and come upon us early some morning. Arriving at the house with our game, we found that the two who had gone up the river had returned without any game. When they started out in the morning they went up the river about four miles and then turned to the right into the hills. Seeing no game worthy of shot, they slowly wandered up and along the ridge and through the open and level grassy benches until about 1 o'clock in the afternoon, when they sat down by a small spring that burst from the side of the hill, intending to remain there until towards night, when they would return to the house. They had been by the spring about two hours, engaged in talking over Indian matters--for that was the all-engrossing topic--and venturing guesses whether they would see any 'sign' (that was the term they used to designate signs of Indians) when they became aware that they were to have an accession to their company. Through the open woods they saw two persons coming in an oblique direction, towards them. They could not make out to which party they belonged, for the Indians in almost all cases were clothed in the white man's costume, but to be on the safe side they quietly sank back into some brush which was growing below the spring, and from which they could see the newcomers slowly moving toward them. It was not long before the boys distinctly saw that they were Indians who had, perhaps, been sent out to secure meat for a larger number, for it was very evident they could be but temporarily alone. The boys had not succeeded in finding any deer, but they now began to congratulate themselves that they had found game of another kind. Each man had chosen his mark and had prepared to shoot as soon as the Indians should come out of a small ravine which they were crossing. As the Indians began to show themselves above the bank our two men were startled almost out of their wits at the sudden apparition of a large band of Indians mounted and on foot, advancing directly towards the spring which they had just left. No time was to be lost now; things had taken a very sudden and disagreeable turn. Down the little gulch they plunged headlong through the brush at a galloping pace. The Indians saw them, but only for a moment, still, long enough to send three shots after them. But the boys were good on the run and jump, and in less than half a minute they were far down in a dark, deep canyon putting into Rogue River, following down which they soon made their way to the river and down that to the blockhouse.
"About an hour after dark the other men came in with two deer; a third one they left to be brought in on the following day, but we never got it, for the next morning just at daybreak the Indians came upon us with a tremendous rush, thinking to take us by surprise. But we had worked all night getting things in readiness for them, and of course were not much surprised at the attack.
Every man in our fort, except the guards, had worked all night throwing up breastworks in a square in front of the house. At each of the outer corners we had erected a bastion, and our limited military knowledge assured us that we could defend ourselves against all the Indians that might come against us. Just before daybreak Capt. Lewis had sent me with a squad of men to inspect the entrenchments from the outside and if there should be anything more needed to tell these in the trench inside how and where to perform the needed work. I had been around several times and had at last finished all necessary work and was standing at one of the bastions with my men all in a huddle when the Indians, who had come up under cover of the darkness, poured a broadside into us and into the fort.
" 'Get inside, boys!' I yelled, to make myself heard above the din, but it was not necessary to tell the biggest fool in the squad to get inside; they would have climbed inside like a band of sheep jumping over a fence, even if I had told them to stand their ground. The Indians had taken possession of the bar above and below our fort--every tree had one or more behind it, while some were down behind large boulders which covered the bar in some places sufficiently to give good hiding places for large numbers. Across the river opposite us the timber and brush were thick, affording still better shelter for them, while back of us, and within thirty feet of the house, ran a ridge as high as the roof of the house, covered with trees. All of the shelter just mentioned was occupied by Indians at the time of the attack, except the ridge close to the house. On that ridge we had always kept a guard, and the savages were smart enough not to try to occupy that place at first.
"It was not quite light enough when the attack began to distinguish objects with any certainty, and as our ammunition was scarce we withheld our fire till we could see to hit an Indian every time. As we did not return the first fire they began to believe that we would make no fight and that they would have a splendid time taking off our scalps and eating our bread and sugar. Acting in this belief, they came flocking along the ridge from both directions expecting to find us in no condition to resist an attack from that place. By this time it was light enough and Captain Lewis told us to begin our part of the performance. 'Now, boys, give those fellows a full dose,' said the captain, pointing to the Indians coming along the ridge. And we did, I assure you. It was not a long nor a hard job to clear the ridge. The other boys in the trenches had been for a few minutes firing stray shots at the Indians whenever they could catch sight of them in the semi-darkness. In a few minutes the light was sufficient for all purposes and the fun began in good earnest. The Indians were thought to be several hundred strong, as they fired from far and near and over each other's heads. We could return yell for yell, we had enough of that commodity, but our ammunition must be carefully used. Every shot on our part told on the enemy. Our breastworks enclosed a square of perhaps forty feet, and all along the side and from out [of] the house we poured a determined and destructive fire upon our assailants, but they would not yield an inch. Contrary to their usual custom, they left their dead lying where they fell, and advanced slowly but steadily upon us. Old Limpy backed around from place to place encouraging his men to advance closer by setting the example. Old John was there too, running from point to point yelling out his orders, equal to any civilized colonel or major. No cessation, the Indians crowded closer upon our defenses, all hands hoarse with yelling, the bullets zipping through our house and knocking the dirt from our breastworks into our eyes; two men killed, seven more wounded, two mortally, the others severely; yet it was early in the day. Our defenses were not so strong as we thought, or the Indians never evinced such dogged determination. The Indians across the river sent bullets in showers over our breastworks and it soon began to get too hot for us, exposed as we were to a fire we could not return, as the Indians were hid in the brush on the hillside and we were compelled to shoot at random in that quarter. But we did good execution among the Indians on the bar. Thus things were until noon. We suffered by the fusillade from across the river, while we paid it back upon the Indians around our works. They climbed into the tops of trees on the bar and sent many a damaging shot from their perch among the branches, but one by one they were picked out and dropped to the ground by our boys until that kind of elevated warfare entirely ceased, and no shots came over and into our trenches except from across the river."
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, February 14, 1879, page 1
Indian Hostilities in the Early Part of the Year 1856.Early on the following evening the boys again gathered at the Lieut. Col.'s camp fire, and Bill began as follows:
"About 9 o'clock the Indians ceased firing and, as far as we knew, left for another field of operation. Not sure of anything except our deplorable condition, we concluded to occupy the night in strengthening our position, which we could only do by digging rifle pits inside of our breastworks. Mustering all the able-bodied men, we divided into two parties. One was set to work digging the pits, while the other guarded the house and cared for the wounded, who by this time were enduring great suffering. Relieving each other every two hours, the work progressed very rapidly, and by an hour before daylight we had four splendid pits dug and covered with a foot or more of earth, from which we could command the ridge back of the house and the country across the river and be, ourselves, completely out of sight."
"But how could you get to your pits from the house without exposing yourselves to the Indians' fire," asked some one of the listeners.
"Easy enough. Our first step was to run a ditch from the house four feet deep to the first pit, and similar ditches connected this with the others. The ditches were covered, as were the pits, with anything in the shape of boards, or anything else we could find suitable for the purpose, and over them we put the dirt dug from the trenches. So, you see, we had a covered way from the inside of the house to our pits outside, so that there was not the slightest danger from the enemy."
"Why didn't you do this before the Indians attacked you? If you had, you wouldn't have suffered so much," ventured another of the audience.
"Go on, Bill, don't mind him," said someone.
"I don't mind an interruption when it gives me a chance to explain. In the first place, I'll say that I've always observed that there are numerous strategists who do their work best while sitting before snug warm fires, criticizing the operations of those leading in the field who have to contend against all the rapidly shifting circumstances of a campaign or battle. In our case we were all young, inexperienced, knew nothing about the art of fortification, and very little of battle in the open field. But a short time from the States, and having been occupied most of the time in mining, critics must be lenient when overhauling our acts. In a few days we are to start down to the Big Meadows, and there attack the Indians in their stronghold, and we will, if at all observing, gain a clearer idea of Indian warfare and strategy.
"But to begin again. We had our works in a better condition than ever for defense, but the walls of our breastworks prevented our seeing the enemy on the bar above or below us, should they again renew the attack. Daylight came, but no Indians. The boys who occupied the rifle pits were eager to have a few shots from their snug quarters, but if the savages did not return they would be happily disappointed.
"We had laid our dead with due care and respect on the ground in one corner of the house. The wounded were placed in bunks along the sides. Our morning meal was spread upon a long table in the center, and running lengthwise of the building. The boys had been called from the pits and there, in presence of the dead, in hearing of the groans and labored breathing of the mortally wounded, sat down, with drooping spirits, to a meal of bread and coffee. There was no one keeping watch; we could not be taken by surprise. We could be under cover all the time and did not care a fig if we did not see them begin the attack again, if indeed they intended to do so. The boys had about half finished their meal when our ears, which by that time were accustomed to it, were again saluted by the rising and falling yells of the returning savages, and the pattering of bullets against the house. 'Come, boys! No time to eat now,' said the Captain, 'Out to the pits and give 'em h--l.' The most of them jumped to their feet, dived down into the ditch and went on the run, rifles in hand, and began another day's fighting. One of the boys who was sitting at the table, a specimen Yankee, whom the boys had christened 'Nutmegs,' and who had gained our respect and confidence by his coolness and bravery and was one of the strong props of our little company, drawled out, as the Captain gave the order to man the pits, 'I d-o-n't s-e-e, Cap'n, as there's any use in h-u-r-r-ying matters,' at the same time raising his cup of coffee to his lips, but as he was on the point of taking the meditated drink, a bullet come snapping through the house and knocked the cup from his hand and sent it flying in fragments about the room. 'Wall!' he coolly ejaculated, and without another word rose from the table and with gun in hand stepped into the ditch, and was soon at work in the pits dealing out his bullets to the enemy.
"The Indians rushed up to the breastworks, but found none of us in sight. Instead, they found the boys shooting at them from under the ground, a defense that was new and unapproachable. They tried their old dodge of firing from across the river, and some few climbed into the treetops, but they shortly saw that the only impression they could make on us was by firing at the house. In an hour they had abandoned all their positions except the ridge back of the house, and from there they sent a hotter fire than ever before, which lasted about half an hour. The damage was greater to them than it was to us. In fact, we received no damage at all, while on their side we killed several and wounded a number more.
"About ten o'clock it became evident that they were weakening and intended to abandon the attack; and I assure you we felt as proud as one can imagine when we found that we were to be the victors. Outnumbering us more than seven to one, and with as good defenses as we had, and as good arms, we thought we had not done so bad after all.
"By 11 o'clock the firing had become desultory on both sides and continued so until nearly 1 o'clock, when all was still. The Indians had withdrawn and the siege of Galice Creek had ended. But we were left in a crippled condition. No news from the upper settlements, not knowing if we would be able to get there without another attack, and we hesitated as to the course to pursue. Vannoy's ferry being the nearest point, we decided at last to try and go there. We buried the dead inside of our trenches, carefully dressed the wounds of those who needed it and then began making stretchers upon which to convey such wounded as could not travel alone. We had but one horse, and we packed him with our camp equipage and the little flour and coffee we had left.
"An hour or so after dark we had all in readiness and set out upon our hazardous journey. After taking up our wounded there was but twelve men left for duty, that is, to guard the front and rear. If the Indians should have attacked us, hampered as we were with our wounded, I don't believe that many of us would have been alive today.
"We traveled about eight miles that night. We were all so worn out, and the wounded were suffering so much, that we concluded to camp and get a little rest that night and be in a better condition for traveling the next day. We had some bread baked, and well and wounded alike partook sparingly of it. It would not do to build a fire to make coffee, so we ate the cold, tough bread and washed it down with cold water. Guards were posted and in a little while nothing could be heard but an occasional hoot of an owl, the incessant rippling of the water in the little brook on which we were encamped, and now and then a suppressed groan of some one of our seriously wounded boys. We were all greatly fatigued, and the well ones and those who were not seriously hurt were soon sound asleep. Those whose wounds were serious passed a long and sleepless night, except one; he, poor fellow, passed away silently, giving no notice of his dissolution. He was observed in the morning lying as he had been placed in the evening. With open eyes he lay there as though alive, with his gaze fixed upon the winking stars above. The boys buried him as best they could, and we took up our slow and painful march, leaving him alone in his shallow grave near the bank of Rogue River.
"We were compelled to stop often to rest the wounded and pour cold water on the wounds to allay the continually rising fever. I won't speak of my own sufferings, but there are some of you here who may recollect seeing me on my hands and knees crawling along the uneven trail, which I was often compelled to do, as my left foot might as well have been at the bottom of the river for all the good it did me in getting along.
"At noon we stopped to make a pot of coffee, for we had had none since we left Galice Creek. The coffee was boiling on the fire, and its rich odor was floating to our willing olfactories, when all were thrown into a state of consternation by the sight of a large band of Indians or volunteers slowly filing down the trail directly ahead and about a mile distant. That they were coming to our camp there was not much doubt, and of our inability to defend ourselves successfully if they were Indians there was none.
"The only alternative instantly suggested itself. It was for the major part of our little band to go forward and engage them, while those who remained should carry off and secrete the wounded while the Indians were kept back. Without tasting the coffee, the boys seized their guns and started forward on the run, leaving six to carry off and hide the wounded. Our view of the newcomers had been only for an instant, and then they had descended into a bushy canyon.
"Our boys were soon out of sight, and we were all in a stir and bustle to get ourselves out of the way in time. I clung to old 'Hawkins,' and when it come to the worst I knew that I was good for one or half a dozen of the infernal savages. We have got most of the wounded up the creek inside of a dense thicket of brush around which was almost a corral of old logs blown down during some bygone storm. I was just on the point of starting to "cache," as the boys afterwards called it, when we were startled by an uproarious and long-continued shouting, followed by renewed shouts.
"No firing. They could not be Indians. Of course they were friends. We waited a few minutes, and one of our boys came running back with the glad news, yelling at the top of his voice, 'Volunteers! Volunteers!' We were safe now and for myself I can say that I actually felt a weakness in my knees and all over my body. We were soon joined by our boys who were accompanied by fifty volunteers from the upper settlements who had started down to assist the people of Galice Creek. They had not heard of the attack on us, but that Old George and Limpy had gone down the river they were certain, and knowing that ours was the only company down there, they thought it best to come down and look into matters.
"Our wounded were brought out from their hiding place; their wounds were dressed afresh, and partaking of the universal hilarity they were greatly improved in health. Our friends brought out their stores and soon a splendid meal of bacon, bread, potatoes, onions, rice, coffee and sugar was dispatched with a keen relish.
"The next evening we arrived at Vannoy's, where the wounded men were well cared for, while those of the company who were still able for duty made a camp a little up the river and--Boys, my story is done."
Three cheers for Bill were given with a vim, and the boys began to separate when a medium-sized, gentle, manly person who had been an attentive listener remarked, "Boys, have you ever heard the particulars of the massacre of Agent Ben Wright, and a large number of others last February, at the mouth of Rogue River?"
"No, no, tell it to us," was the answer from several at once.
"Well, as it will be four or five days before you start for the Big Meadows, and as I've got to stay three more days in your camp, I'll do it. Come tomorrow evening, and as I am staying with the Lieut. Col. for the present, I'll give you all the information I can in regard to it."
As the boys began to disperse the inquiry was made who the gentleman was. "Why," replied one who knew, "that is Con Hillman, an old '49er; lived [in] Yreka from '51 till '53 or '4. He practiced law in Crescent City in '55, and is now up here on business for the regular officers at the mouth of Rogue River."
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, February 21, 1879, page 1
The Indian Hostilities of 1853, in Josephine County.Ashland Tidings, February 28, 1879, page 1 Attributed by W. W. Fidler to "Aleck Watts"
During the Indian war in Rogue River Valley in the year 1853 the Indians of Illinois Valley were to all appearances friendly and peaceable, until Capt. Williams raised a company and went to the assistance of the people of Rogue River. The news of the departure of his company was quickly spread among the Indians, and the mask of peace was soon torn off and the hideous war-painted visage of the savage revealed. About the 12th of September the Indians made a night attack upon the miners at Deer Creek Bar, on Illinois River. The men were sleeping on the ground in the open air, and circumstances seemed to favor the designs of the murderous savages. They were preparing for a general massacre, each choosing his victim with the intention of sending a bullet through his brain at a prearranged signal, when the impending tragedy was averted by the warning of a humble but faithful friend of the imperiled men. Joe Lord's dog awakened his master with a low growl, and Lord, taking in the situation in an instant, raised his gun and fired, just as the Indians, who found they were discovered, fired a volley at the sleeping men. The Indians immediately retreated, firing as they went, but the miners were not long finding shelter from bullets. Pursuit was out of the question, for in the whole camp with eleven men there was but one rifle--so great was the sense of their security. It was found that the only injuries were received by a Mr. Hurlburt, who was wounded in the head and ankle by a bullet that evidently had been fired within a few feet of his head.
In the excitement which followed the other men, down the river, were forgotten until daylight, when Dick Truesdale and Dave Pickett volunteered to go down and give the alarm to John Makin and Alex Watts, who were prospecting on the river about six miles below. Upon learning of their danger, Makin and Watts cached their tools and provisions, and the four returned at once to Deer Creek Bar. They found the camp deserted, the men having gone to Derby's ranch, near the present site of Kerby. Here it was learned that two men named Rouse and Tedford were still further down the river prospecting, and a party of six immediately started down the river to give them warning. When they had reached the old camp of Pickett and Watts all refused to go further, except these two men. Pickett had no gun and tried to get one from one of the partners of the imperiled men, who was in the party, but the gun was refused and Pickett, of course, would not go on without it. This terminated the project, as Watts would not go alone into a country with which he was unacquainted and where there were no trails to guide him, and the party returned to the ranch the same night, arriving there about 10 o'clock.
The next day about noon, Mr. Hart arrived at the ranch from down the river, where he had been mining in company with Bill Brown and a man named Hopkins, unknown to those who lived on the same stream above them. Hart brought the intelligence that Rouse and Tedford had been attacked that morning. Rouse was cut in the face with an axe and Tedford's left arm was broken by a bullet. They had been prospecting at the place where Smith's copper works now are, and had an Indian named John working with them. The evening before this Indian had gone to the Indian ranch, not far distant. Returning just at daybreak, he proceeded to play his part in the bloody drama that had been planned by the savages. He found the two asleep, and seizing an axe struck Rouse in the face, and then snatched a rifle and shot Tedford, when he ran off without waiting to determine whether he had accomplished his intended double murder. The wounded men were able to make their way up the river about four miles to the camp of Hart & Co., and Mr. Hart had started out alone and unarmed to bring the news to Derby's ranch and obtain assistance, if possible, while Brown and Hopkins waited all day in the bushes with their rifles cocked, expecting the Indians every moment, but resolved to defend the wounded men and die with them if necessary.
When the men at the ranch had heard Hart's story, they at once formed a party to go to the relief of the wounded men. The party was composed of ------ Allen, Mike Bour, John Miter, Dave Pickett, Malachi Boughman, and Alex Watts--as many as could obtain weapons (the rifles having all been taken to Rogue River). They reached the camp where the wounded men and their guard were anxiously looking for them. Here they passed the remainder of the night, camping on the sand without blankets or fire. When daylight appeared in a hasty examination of the condition of the wounded men it was found that Tedford would have to be carried by hand, while Rouse was able to ride a mule which had fortunately been provided. In a very short time a litter was prepared and the march back to the ranch was begun. Allen took charge of the mule on which Rouse was placed, and the rest took turns in carrying Tedford, as the trail was so narrow that only two could take hold at once. There was no shirking, all vying with each other as to who should do most, and the whole party were nearly exhausted before they had reached the ranch. While they had yet about two miles to go, they were met by Capt. O. T. Root, who had traveled forty miles that day, but upon reaching the ranch and learning the news, he at once set out to give what assistance he could to the unfortunate men. Never was help more welcome. The whole party were so tired as to be scarcely able to walk without a load, and we were almost ready to stop in despair. But the Captain took hold with a will, and besides doing the work of at least three such tired men as we were, inspired the whole party with renewed endurance by his cheering example and generous aid. The ranch was reached about dark, and the wounded men were given the best care and attention that could be rendered.
Mr. Rouse, who was cut with the axe, recovered in a short time, but Tedford, after having his arm amputated, lived only about a week, when the dark-winged angel relieved him of his sufferings.
The Indian Hostilities of 1853, in Josephine County.
For a few days after the events recorded in the chapter published last week nothing was done toward combating the savages, as the arms were few, and the Indians kept themselves out of the way, remaining in concealment down the Illinois River.
In about two weeks our men returned from Rogue River and at once reoccupied their old camps, hoping that the Indians would not molest them. They supposed that the Indians were only persuaded to make their recent break because of the absence of the greater portion of the [white] men and the unprotected and indefensible condition of those remaining, and now having returned in full force they felt assured that the Indians would not attack them. But they were soon taught that it is not wise to calculate upon anything but danger, deviltry and trouble in deciding upon questions in which the Indian character is one of the factors affecting results. On the second night after the men had returned, the Indians attacked the camp, and after firing into one of the cabins made off with five mule loads of provisions belonging to the Hunter brothers and fifteen or twenty mules and horses.
When the Hunter boys' cabin was fired into, William Murphy, known as "Dirty Bill," was sleeping on the ground. Two bullets struck the log just above his head, but he lay perfectly still. Of course the firing produced considerable excitement, and someone said, "Get up, Bill; the Indians are shooting at you!" Bill turned over with the cool remark, "Oh, d---n the Indians; there ain't but two." But in spite of his stoicism he loaded his musket with fifteen buckshot and went with a party of seventeen men who started out immediately upon the track of the Indians, under command of John Makin. After we had started we were joined by Samuel Mooney and eight others of whom I can remember the names of only two, Dr. Osborn and John Nicholls, now of Crescent City.
The Indians tried to throw us off their track by scattering, doubling and going over the worst mountains they could, and we found much difficulty in tracking them, but about 6 o'clock on the morning of the third day, as we reached the top of a prominent hill, we saw their camp on the Illinois River at Oak Flat, above the mouth of Riggs Creek. Instantly our party was fired with that eagerness for the fray which welcomes a command to charge on the double quick. It was a race to see who could reach the camp first. Notwithstanding our recklessness, the Indians did not seem to be aware of our approach, as they were sitting around in the genuine Siwash style until the bullets were among them. Three were killed outright, and how many were wounded we never knew. The attack was a success, but there were other camps that we had not seen, one much larger being under the bank on the same side of the stream that we were (the camp that we fired into was on the opposite side), and instead of being the assailants [we] were soon compelled to assume the defensive, finding ourselves attacked by the main body of the hostile Indians, who soon came to the rescue of their brethren. By accident rather than design, Giles Hunter, Joe Dickinson and Alex Watts happened to be about 200 yards down the river from the main party, and unknown to the Indians, who were met with a volley from these three at about thirty paces, and were so astonished that they turned and fled without firing a gun. The fight then degenerated into a game of ball at long range, which was kept up for some hours until Alex Watts received a slight wound in the leg, when it was deemed best to retreat and secure more force.
Three days after this the regulars under the pilotage of two pet Indians surprised the same camp. They killed a number, ran the rest off and captured all the spare ammunition of the Indians and a few horses, with no loss to themselves. But on their return the Indians followed them and about four miles from the battleground killed two brave soldiers, one of whom was the orderly sergeant.
Two days after the soldiers' fight our boys again started, but about thirty-five strong, for another attack on the camp. But with the exception of one good shot, and that obtained after a half-mile foot race, they had no opportunity to use their rifles, seeing none of the foe. An incident will show, however, that the foe saw them.
The boys had made camp, and all had their horses staked out and had come on, except Bill Hunter, who had a stiff knee. Bill laid his gun down, took his mule and started out, when Mike Bushey called to him:
"Better take your gun, Bill!"
"Guess I'm old enough to take care of myself," was the answer, and Bill went out beyond all the other animals and was in the act of driving his picket pin when he heard a click, and looking up he saw four or five muzzles pointing at him. Quick as thought he sprang to take leave of the too-familiar visitors. Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! went the guns, and the bullets were well aimed. One cut his coat collar and singed his cheek; one struck just below the shoulder blade, and two where it interfered with his sitting easily. But Bill came into camp faster than a scared mule, singing out at the top of his voice, "------ ------ Siwashes, shooting tin wads at me!"
On examination of Bill's wounds, they were found to be not serious, as none of the balls striking him had powder enough behind them to send them more than an inch into the flesh.
Our boys returned to their respective camps without any further adventure, and soon after this, through the mediation of Mike Bushey and an Indian named Henry, who is said to have been always friendly, a treaty was made which, with the exception of one or two breaks, lasted until the war of '55. Those breaks will be the subject of my next chapter, which may be looked for before a great while.
Ashland Tidings, March 7, 1879, page 1 Attributed by W. W. Fidler to "Aleck Watts"
Indian Hostilities in Josephine County--Events Succeeding the
Truce of 1853--Indian Camp Attacked by Settlers--Temporary Quiet--
Illinois Indians Start on a Raid Upon Klamath
and Make for Slate Creek Hills.
The treaty of peace between the miners in Illinois Valley and the Illinois Indians in the fall of 1853 stipulated that the Indians were to stay down the river, or the miners would not be responsible for any attacks that might be made upon them by white men. We (the miners) told them that so far as we were concerned the peace would not be broken if they were careful to comply with the conditions of the treaty, but we could not control the feelings or actions of our neighbors in the valley or at Althouse and Sailor Diggings, and could not vouch for their being or continuing friendly. We were anxious, of course, to avoid any trouble in the future, and knowing that a very slight spark of provocation would be sufficient to arouse the slumbering fires of hate and hostility in the breasts of many of our white neighbors who had suffered by the Indians, we endeavored to impress upon the Indians the advisability of keeping out of the valley. They remained down the river but a short time, however, notwithstanding our impressive wah wah [Chinook jargon for "talk"], and it was soon discovered that they had moved up to Bear Creek and settled, apparently permanently, at the lower end of the valley, where Mr. Fistu [sic] now lives. The news of their arrival spread, of course, all over the settlement, and again a feeling of uneasiness and dread of impending trouble took possession of the whites. All were watchful and anxious, and the few miners up the river kept themselves in readiness for any emergency.
The Indians molested no one, however, and no disturbance occurred until a party of whites made an attack on the Indian camp.
The winter of '53-4 was very cold. One long, heavy snow storm lasted about ten days. During this time Mr. Rouse, who was suffering from his own injuries, which we described in a previous chapter, and craving revenge for the death of his partner, collected a party of twenty at Sailor Diggings, and without giving any warning to the whites down the river started out to surprise and slaughter the Indians at their ranch. Their expedition was well planned, and they had no doubt of its success. They expected to entirely "clean out" the camp and put an end to all trouble from this band of Indians, but their project, like many other military schemes, was not so nobly executed as calculated upon. They lost their way and traveled all night in the snow, at one time floundering about in a swamp, where two of the men became very wet and were almost frozen. They came upon the camp in the morning, but too late to make the attack a success, and after a short fight they were compelled to give up the attack and retire with two men wounded.
Thus the peace was again broken, and the effect of this attack upon the Indians was a condition of vigilant defense upon both sides. On the day after the attack Mike Bushey and Alex. Watts went to the Indians, accompanied by a friendly Indian named Jim, and patched up a truce, helping on the spirit of amicability among the Indians by killing five deer for them before going home in the evening. The truce--a sort of armed neutrality, with both parties suspiciously watching each other--continued without any events of moment to break the monotony until the spring of '55, when a party of Illinois Indians went over to Klamath [River], above Happy Camp, and robbed a party of white men, then killed a man on Indian Creek, from thence came to Hay's ranch (now Thornton's) and stole some cattle and carried off their booty into the Slate Creek hills. A party started at once in pursuit of them, and of this we shall write next week.
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, March 21, 1879, page 1 Attributed by W. W. Fidler to "Aleck Watts"
Indian Hostilities in Josephine County in the Spring of '53.
At daylight on the morning of the next day after the Illinois Indians had made their raid mentioned last week, a party of nine men under command of Capt. Sam Frye started out from Hay's to follow them into the Slate Creek hills. By rapid traveling the party came up with the Indians about ten o'clock a.m., and surprised and shot their rear guard of three men. One of the three was killed outright, and the other two were fatally wounded, as was learned subsequently. The sacrifice of their rear guard saved the main party of the Indians. As soon as our shots were heard they chose their ground and fired a volley upon us at short range, but did no injury. They then took shelter in a thicket, and as it would have been equal to insanity to attempt to follow them into such an ambush with the small force present, we returned to Hay's ranch for more help.
From Hay's Capt. Frye and a few others started the same evening for Kerby to get more men for the next day's attack. Having succeeded in obtaining several more men the Captain was returning to Hay's with a party of seven in all--Capt. Sam Frye, John Frye, James Harnbuckle. Jack Cutbirth, Gus Sloan, Jack Guess and Alex. Watts. Just as we were entering the Deer Creek bottom the stillness of the forest was broken by a succession of rifle shots directly ahead of us. We all halted upon the impulse of the moment, and before we had time to form in our minds any idea of what the firing could mean James Mills appeared, coming forward [to] us from a thicket in the direction whence the firing had been heard. He had received two wounds in his side from which the blood was running, and as he came up to us he told us that the Indians had attacked his camp, and his partner, a Mr. Philpot, was killed. Capt. Frye immediately ordered Jack Guess to go with the wounded man back to Kerby, and then told the rest of us that our duty was to recover the dead body and then go to the rescue of another Mr. Philpot and his boy, a little fellow about four years old, who lived on the opposite side of the brush, about a quarter of a mile from where we then were. The trail through the thick undergrowth was very narrow, and it seemed like inviting death from the bullets of some hidden foe to venture upon the trail, but we thought of the man and boy in danger, and not one faltered. Stopping but an instant to see that our rifles were ready for use, we raised a yell and then followed the Captain as he dashed into the thicket, saying, "Come on, boys, we'll save the boy!" Just as we started we heard three gunshots at the creek where James Mills and his partner had been attacked, only a short distance ahead. Perhaps our faces blanched and our breath came harder, but we kept on at full speed, expecting to be fired on at every jump, until we reached the crossing of the creek, where we came to a halt. There, lying upon the bank of the stream, was the body of Mr. Philpot, with the brains oozing from three bullet holes in his head and eight other wounds in the body and limbs. We took but a glance at the shocking sight then rushed through the brush to the house, where we found Mr. Philpot with his boy behind him on his horse, just starting away. We called him back, yoked his oxen to a wagon, loaded his household effects upon it, then went down to the creek and brought up the body of his brother and moved all up the creek a short distance to a fort or stockade build by Mr. Yarnell. Leaving Mr. Philpot and his boy here in tolerable security, we returned to Hay's ranch, reaching there about ten o'clock in the morning.
Resting but two hours at Hay's we started with a party of twenty-one in pursuit of the band of Indians who had given us the slip the day before. We found them at the head of Round Prairie Creek, and they immediately began a retreat, going down the creek and up Applegate River to Cheyenne Creek. We followed them until nearly dark and then camped where Mrs. Stevens now lives. After it was dark enough several of us started out to look for campfires, hoping to discover the Indians in that way. Our search was soon rewarded by the sight of a blazing fire, not far from our camp, and creeping stealthily toward it we found, instead of Indians, a party of soldiers under command of Lieut. Sweitzer, who had come down from Fort Lane. The Lieutenant told us he was very glad to see us, as he had but twelve men and two Indian scouts or guides. He told us that the Indians had killed Jerome Dyar and Dan McCue on Applegate, and that as he was out of rations he would not be able to follow the Indians and would have to return to the fort next day, but would let us have his guides to help us in our pursuit of the hostiles, who, he said, had started toward Klamath. We returned to our camp well pleased with the polite Lieut. and the next morning early went over to the camping ground of the regulars to take our guides and start after the Indians, when, behold! the Lieutenant, soldiers and guides had all disappeared. We were considerably astonished, of course, but their trail being plain, Capt. Frye, taking four men, who were best mounted, set out at once to learn the cause of the "skedaddle." By hard riding, he overtook the detachment near Rock Point, and found that the Indians had surrendered to them, and the Lieutenant was marching to the fort as prisoners nine bucks and seven squaws, the bucks carrying their arms and ammunition. Upon being asked by Capt. Frye the meaning of his strange actions, the redoubtable officer merely replied that the Indians were his prisoners; they had killed three white men and we had killed three Indians. It was an even thing, and we could go home satisfied. I do not say we were satisfied, but we thought it best to go home, as there were nine buck Indians, twelve soldiers and one U.S. Lieutenant of Dragoons against five of us.
Ashland Tidings, March 28, 1879, page 1 Attributed by W. W. Fidler to "Aleck Watts"
Indian Hostilities in the Early Part of the Year 1856.
STORY OF THE MASSACRE AT THE MOUTH OF ROGUE RIVER.
Our readers will remember that this narrative was broken off at the point where the Southern Oregon Volunteers were in camp, passing the time as best they could, and that on a certain evening Con Hillman had promised to tell them about the massacre at the mouth of Rogue River, if they would come next morning to the tent of the Lieut. Colonel. The narrative continues as follows:
As the news of the massacre at the mouth of Rogue River was meager, the gathering of a large crowd at the Lieut. Col.'s tent to hear a more particularized account by Con Hillman was the result of that gentleman's promise to relate, as far as he was able, a detailed account of that fiendish tragedy. Presently Hillman emerged from the tent and, seating himself on a pile of wood at the door, began as follows:
"I met Agent Wright in Crescent City about the first of February, 1856, and had a long confidential conversation with him in relation to Indian affairs, and the most feasible and speedy way of bringing the difficulty to a close. He detailed at length his views of the situation and gave his method of keeping, as he thought, a close watch of the Indians and their movements in his department. But it has proven to be the old story--he placed too much trust in a friendly Indian. Instead of having an eye on the real intentions of the savages, he was gulled by [a] friendly savage, who told the Indians all that Wright himself intended to do. Thus the Indians kept a strict watch over him, while he knew nothing whatever of the real doings of his savage charge.
"Wright returned to Rogue River about the 18th of the month, and went on with his plans for surrounding, with the aid of volunteers and regulars, the Indians, and bringing them all down to the mouth of the river and keeping them prisoners there until the close of the war. Wright's confidants kept the Indians well posted in regard to the proposed movement, while he as candidly told Wright a fictitious story of the good intentions of the Indians. Another of Wright's confidants was a Canadian Indian called Enos, who spoke good English and knew all the phases of American and Indian life. This Indian lived mostly with Wright [R. W. Dunbar's letter of February 24, 1856 says Wright was on his way to arrest the "notorious Eneas" when he was killed.], but spent a portion of his time with the Indians. Having a wife belonging to the Tututni tribe, which lived at the mouth of the river and within a mile of Wright's house and office, he could thus be at both places daily, and in undisturbed intercourse with both parties. He was a smooth-tongued and smiling Indian, to all appearances an innocent and kind individual, but really deep, crafty and dangerous. He had obtained a partial control of the Indians in the immediate neighborhood and was looked to by them as a chief and guide when the proper time for an outbreak should occur.
"There were but two or three white families at or near the mouth of the river, while there were many miners living in rude cabins from the mouth several miles up the river, and on the beach both above and below the mouth. The Indians would lie around these cabins in the daytime, doing little jobs for the miners, and in some cases even working for wages in the mines; while the few families employed them in cutting wood and other light work, paying them in old clothes and food. The Indians were vigilant and had an eye to all that was said and done by the whites. Their wits were quickened by the reports that they received by runners from up the river. The Indians in Rogue River Valley, and, indeed, all the then-hostile tribes, were sending messages to those on the coast, urging them to begin hostilities, to aid in clearing the country of the hated white man. But the coast Indians were shy of their inland neighbors. They had learned in times past their treacherous character, and were backward in entering into league with them for any purpose. Enos, who had lived in Rogue River Valley and at Yreka, bent his energies toward forming a coalition between the coast and up-country tribes. His success was soon perceptible in the actions of the Indians around the mouth of the river. They became bolder, in some instances quite saucy, and Enos himself, all placidity and affability, soon changed in a great measure; his demeanor once calm and smiling, he now became nervous and sour.
"Still, Agent Ben Wright supposed that he knew the secret thoughts of the Indians, that whichever way they would turn he had a remedy to apply. He questioned his confidant as to the perceptible change in the Indians, and their answer was, 'They are afraid the Indians up the river will come down and kill us. We like you and the other white men, but are afraid Old Limpy and John will come and burn our houses and take away our women and children as they used to do.' Such were the evasions used to pacify and quiet the inquiries of Wright. The miners had confidence in him, and if he was satisfied, they were satisfied too.
"It was the 20th of February, and Wright was anxiously looking for a company of volunteers from Crescent City with the aid of which he expected to accomplish his long-meditated coup d'etat. The Indians, too, were looking for them and knew for what purpose they were coming; but they had determined on a counter coup de main. The 22nd would soon be on hand, and the settlers and miners were busy in preparing for a grand dance in honor of the day. Enos knew that was the time, if ever, to strike the blow. Anxiously he watched the trail along the beach leading from Crescent City to the mouth of the river. He knew that if the expected company should arrive before the 22nd he would be compelled to wait, or strike the blow with a great many chances against him, and if he should fail he must leave for other parts, as both the whites and his Indian followers would kill him wherever found. He had assured the Indians that success was certain under his leadership, and if he failed to lead them to victory they might kill him if they chose to do so.
"The 20th passed. The 21st wore slowly along. Both whites and Indians scanning the trail along the beach for the expected volunteers. The day drew to a close. The Indians were jubilant. Wright was anxious, but had he known the true situation he would have been in a far more discouraged mood, and more watchful. He did not dream that his cherished plans were known to the Indians. He did not know that he was totally in the dark regarding the true intentions of his savage wards. He had been on this coast since 1848, and had lived amongst, and warred with, nearly all the tribes of note from the Dalles of the Columbia in Oregon, to Shasta City in California, and had always been successful. But he had a more crafty and deep opponent in the despised Enos than he had yet met in all his warpaths, a chieftain equaling him in resources and excelling him in duplicity. While his knowledge of the whites and their manner of fighting was equal to Wright's, his intimate knowledge of his Indian allies and their intentions was superior.
"The 22nd dawned, but still the volunteers had not arrived. Preparations went on for the ball in the evening, and the Indians were also preparing their programme. Evening came, but no company of volunteers. The Indians were armed as usual, doing errands for anyone who asked, but it was noticed that they seemed to be immensely pleased about something. To inquiries as to their gleeful mood, the answer was 'Wake icta, cultus nica he-he.'
"Three miles above the mouth of the river is a large open flat. On this flat was a large log house, in which the ball was to be given. At dusk all the people of the neighborhood who wished to attend the dance were gathered at this house. Agent Ben Wright and a few others stayed at their houses, not caring to join in the festivity. Among these were Mr. Geisel and his family, composed of his wife, a daughter thirteen years of age and an infant daughter. Mr. Geisel was a German who had been drawn to the mines at the mouth of the river by the alluring reports of their great richness. Soon after coming to the mines he sent to San Francisco for his family, and on their arrival opened a restaurant. To Mrs. Geisel the Indians were a novelty, and, being of a brave temperament, she was not frightened at their paint and scant clothing, but employed them around the house in the capacity of cutters of wood and carriers of water. She was prompt [to] pay in the line of cold meat and bread, so they became her friends (for the time). Whenever any news of the war would reach her from the upper country she would question the Indians regarding their feelings toward the whites. They, of course, protested their great love and admiration for the settlers and miners. She often asked them if they would kill her and her children if they should go to war with the whites, to which they replied that they would not, but would take her to cook for them, for she was a fine cook, could beat all the squaws in the village. They assured her again and again that they would not go on the war path, and if they should she need not fear, for they were all agreed that she and her children should not suffer.
"On the eve of the 22nd an Indian to whom the Geisels had shown particular favor told Mr. Geisel that the Indians intended to begin a massacre of the whites that night, and that she and her family had better leave the place. To this she paid no particular attention, thinking the Indian only intended to frighten her. Mr. Geisel told Agent Wright about it, who said it was all bosh, that if anything of the kind were intended he, Wright, would have known it long ago. This settled the matter, of course, but even Wright must have had some misgivings. He kept back his fears, however, and put a good face on the suspicious circumstances of the few days past.
"Eight o'clock had struck, and the merry dancers were whirling to the music of a quick waltz--One--two--three! 'Did you hear that?'
" 'Who can be shooting at this time of night down at the mouth of the river?'
"The waltz suddenly ends. All rush to the doors to listen.
" 'Was that a voice calling?'
" 'No. It's only your imagination.'
"All is still.
" 'Come, everybody, let's begin the dance again. Strike up there, fiddler, give us a lively waltz.'
"At dusk all the houses on the beach and along the river are closed. Here and there streaks of light shine out through the cracks of some cabin, but the most of them are deserted for the ballroom up on Big Flat. Agent Ben Wright is sitting at his desk writing to Superintendent Palmer, while his Indian confidant is lounging upon the bed at one side of the office. Mrs. Geisel sits alone with her children in their large front room. The clock has just struck seven, and Mrs. Geisel looks toward the door, for she hears a step. Of course it is her husband, for he should have been at home before this time, he had only gone down the beach a mile or so to put some sluice boxes out of reach of the surf. The step is heard again, but no one opens the door. Going to the door, she opens it and is confronted by the Indian who had warned her only a few hours before. The situation flashed upon her mind at once, and she made haste to close the door, accomplishing it just as a chorus of hideous yells burst upon her ears. She seized her infant daughter in her arms and, calling to Mary to follow, fled into the kitchen, intending to go from thence to the brush behind the house. As she opened the outside door of the kitchen, she saw her husband running toward her, hotly pursued by Indians. He rushed up to the door and fell headlong to the ground at her side, saying, 'I'm killed.' Before she could move she was surrounded by savages, forced into the house and there tied, she and her daughter Mary, to the logs of the wall. The Indians then left them there, and went out to keep up the murder and pillage." [This account of the Geisel killings varies significantly from other accounts.]
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, April 4, 1879, page 1
Indian Hostilities in the Early Part of the Year 1856.
STORY OF THE MASSACRE AT THE MOUTH OF ROGUE RIVER.
"About 6 o'clock the Indians had gathered together under the bluffy bank on the beach and, covered by the increasing darkness, separated into several squads and set out to begin their work of rapine and murder. Geisel's restaurant and Wright's office were about a half-mile apart, and while the first part of the massacre, which appeared in a former part of this narrative, was being enacted, a squad of savages headed by Enos had approached Wright's house and surrounded it without creating any alarm. When they had completed their circle around the house Enos went to the door and in his usual conciliatory tone called to Mr. Wright to come out, as he wanted to talk to him. Wright hesitated, but the confidant urged him to go out, asked if he was a coward, and when that word was used Wright sprang to his feet, and opening the door stepped out. Enos had purposely stepped to one side after calling to Wright to come out, the better to hide his movements. When Wright stepped out he was blinded by the darkness, and seeing no one, he asked, 'What do you want?' At that moment Enos stepped out from the darkness and answered:
" 'I want you,' adding a string of oaths, and struck him a blow on the head with an axe with which he had provided himself for that purpose. Wright was partially stunned by the blow, but received only a slight cut, and turning towards the door he made a step forward, when Enos dealt him another and fatal blow with the edge of the axe, which cleft his skull, and he fell to the ground with a groan, while his confidant leisurely stepped out and joined the band of murderers. Wright's body was brutally mutilated and left on the spot where he fell.
"The other squads of Indians were, at the same time, industriously engaged in performing their allotted share of the tragedy. Going from cabin to cabin, killing the inmates, rifling and then setting them on fire. All was accomplished in a short half-hour, and the savages then turned their footsteps toward the Big Flat, where the ball was going on at its height of enjoyment.
"About three-quarters of a mile above the mouth of the river, and on the trail to Big Flat, lived a miner of a recluse nature who did not attend the ball. Engaged in poring over some old dusty volume, oblivious of the turmoil of death and destruction going on at the mouth of the river, he was suddenly brought to a state of wakefulness by the sudden rushing of footsteps and a tremendous push and thump at his door, which shook the frail tenement from floor to roof. Dropping his volume of ancient lore, he seized his double-barreled shotgun, and had scarcely time to raise the locks when the door gave way and a crowd of savages rushed forward to effect an entrance. He let off one barrel and then the other, and two Indians fell on the threshold and several more reeled and staggered back into the darkness, while our recluse drew his revolver, which, according to the custom of the times, he carried in his belt, and began a brisk fusillade out into the dark mass of scurrying Indians. Taken by surprise at the sudden and determined resistance of the lonely inmate of the cabin, the savages, after firing a few random shots at the brave man, fled en masse towards the Big Flat, intending to attack the dancers and there continue the work of death. Do you recollect I told you that about 8 o'clock the dancers at Big Flat thought they heard three shots in succession down towards the mouth of the river, and that they also heard, as they thought, a cry or call for help; that some thought nothing of it, and they began dancing again?"
"Yes, yes, we remember, but what of it?"
"Well, some of the dancers recalled the few words of warning given to Mrs. Geisel by the Indian, and five of them, forsaking the pleasure of the gay dance and the charming company and conversation of the exquisite belles (nine-tenths of them rusty miners, who for the time were called Lizzie, Jennie, Polly, Kate, etc., etc., all for the sake of a jolly dance, you know) who graced the puncheon floor of the ball, seized the rifles and in Indian file started down the trail towards the mouth of the river, to discover the cause of the shots and call which they supposed they had heard. It was dark, very dark, and the trail led through heavy timber and dense thickets of brush, and it soon became very difficult to keep or follow [the trail]. Carefully groping their way through a grove of wide-spreading myrtle timber about half a mile below their starting point, they suddenly became aware of a large number of persons in front coming directly toward them. Halting and stepping carefully to one side and behind some of the thickly growing trees that lined the trail, they awaited developments. It was only a moment and they were convinced that the moving mass were Indians. The men had some knowledge of the Indian language, sufficient at least to understand that the Indians were excited and belligerent, and by the sounds they knew that they carried bows, arrows and guns. It did not require much conjecture to convince the men that the Indians were on the warpath, and that the shots heard a short time before were the result of an attack on the people below. That the Indians had been successful was evinced by their coming up towards Big Flat, apparently for the purpose of putting a finishing stroke on the affair by killing those who were engaged at the ball. There was no opportunity for the men to talk with one another, but they were tacitly under the leadership of Jim ------, and all the others waited to hear from him. He dare not speak for fear of endangering a plan which he was maturing for killing as many as possible of the Indians and stampeding the balance. At last silence became intolerable and Jim called out in a loud, husky voice, 'Every man kill an Injun and run like hell for the mouth of the river!' followed by the crack of his rifle, and almost instantaneously by the shots of his companions. The Indians had not yet recovered from their defeat and disappointment by the recluse miner mentioned above, and this sudden unlooked-for and damaging assault by our five brave men completely upset their plans for the attack on the dancers above and sent them scattering through the woods, brush and rocks for a safer place. As soon as the men delivered their fire they trailed arms and started down through the timber towards the mouth of the river. Some of the Indians, too, went pell mell down in the same direction. Now was to be seen (if light enough) whites and Indians running from one another, side by side and in the same direction. Like riding on a railroad one has death often sitting by his side, and in this instance each had for a companion in his flight one who, if he had known who was his companion, would have turned and dealt a death blow before many steps had been taken. Everybody on the Oregon coast knows Yates--'Hell Honey,' as he is usually known--Yates was one of those five fugitives, and while running at a full head of steam he ran afoul of his nearest neighbor, and in the intense darkness could not distinguish who his neighbor was. But having a good nose for smelling, he thought his neighbor smelled rather strong of a rancherie. Not having the least suspicion that his companion could be any other than one of the five men who started with him from the Big Flat, he ventured in an undertone to banter the unknown regarding his strong Indian smell. No sooner had he spoken a word than he was startled by that mystical 'Ugh!' and felt a sharp sting in his right arm while he heard the dull twang of a bowstring. Brought suddenly to a realizing sense of his danger, he ejaculated his usual formula of speech, 'Hell, honey, hurray for Yates!' and instantly fired one barrel of his double gun into the body of his Indian companion, who fell to the ground with a dull gurgle, and curled up in the last struggle. When Yates and his neighbor made the mutual discovery and brought their companionship to a sudden termination, similar discoveries were made at other points of the race course, and not many minutes elapsed before a regular powwow ensued, mingled with the oaths and execrations of the five white men, while occasional shots were interchanged between the parties. In a very short time the parties separated by mutual consent. The five men kept on down the river, while the Indians took to the hills.
"Reaching the cabin of the brave recluse, the five men were delighted with his defense, and urged him to go on down to the mouth of the river, but he declined to accompany them. He did not want to leave his cabin to be destroyed by the savages. At last he prevailed on the men to stay with him until daylight.
"Early next morning the men started for the mouth. In a short time they came in sight of the smoldering ruins of the many cabins which had been set on fire by the Indians. Here and there a dead body was found, in all cases brutally mangled. Some seemed to have been tortured. One of their number was sent up to Big Flat to carry the news of the massacre to those who had remained there and danced all night while the Indians were killing their friends at the mouth of the river. While standing over the dead body of a miner who had been ruthlessly hacked and mangled, they were joined by a man named Charley Foster, who proceeded to narrate his experience during the night when the murdering was going on.
" 'I was,' said he, 'sitting in that cabin there with that man when the Indians came to the door and called to me to come out. I did not want to go, as I have made it a rule never to go out at night when called upon to do so, for I believe that there is always more or less danger in doing so; but this man, who had come to spend the night with me, said that he would go out and see what the Indians wanted. I remonstrated, but he was bent on going at all hazards, so I told him to go, if he must. The Indians, thinking that it was me, said to him when he stepped out, "How do, Charley. You good man, come here," and the man stepped out still further into the darkness. I had neither knife, pistol nor gun, or I would have gone out too, to see what was wanted. I had barely time to think when I heard a heavy blow struck, and the man said, "Oh! Don't kill me." The door was shut and the Indians could not see me in the house, and as soon as I heard the blow and exclamation I knew what was up, for I had been of the opinion for a long time that we would have trouble before many months, and that was the main reason I would not go out. I instantly pulled the latch string inside, and tearing on the cloth that served for a window, I crept through the aperture and made one or two long jumps and dropped into a bunch of brush which was very thick and tangled. The Indians did not hear me, as they thought they had me on the ground before them, knowing that I lived alone. As I lay there not thirty feet from them I could hear them hacking away on the poor fellow and saying in Chinook jargon, "How do you like that, Charley? You are a good man, Charley, but I'll make you better," and the brutes would strike that poor man's body with an axe or with their big knives. I lay there, unable, in my unarmed state, to render my friend any assistance. It would have been sure death for me to have attempted to offer help or to run for a more distant hiding place. All around me I could hear sounds of murder, and many a time I heard cries for help, but was powerless. For hours, I thought, the work of murder went on, while I lay there in that small patch of brush. If they had set fire to my house I would have been roasted out of my hiding place, but it seems that Providence was on my side, for the Indians only took my blankets and what grub they could find and left, congratulating themselves that they had killed Charley Foster.'
"During the night the Indians had returned to the place where they had bound Mrs. Geisel and her daughter Mary. After brutally maltreating them, and tearing their clothes almost entirely from their bodies, they drove them out into the cold night air of the ocean beach, keeping them there until the work of murder was completed. They then drove them back into the hills where the squaws and children had been sent as soon as the attack began."
At this point of the recital the voices of the orderly sergeants were heard to give the order, "Fall in, fall in for roll call!" And the crowd of listeners dispersed.
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, April 11, 1879, page 1
Indian Hostilities in the Early Part of the Year 1856.
STORY OF THE MASSACRE AT THE MOUTH OF ROGUE RIVER.
Early the following evening the men gathered at the tent to hear a continuation of Hillman's narrative. Quite a large number of settlers and quartermaster's employees were noticed among the gathered throng. Hillman was soon astride of the pile of wood which the Lieut. Col.'s cook always kept on hand for cooking the morning meal.
"Tell us first," said some of the many gathered around, "if the expected company of volunteers ever made their appearance at the mouth of the river."
"I intended to tell you about that shortly," said Hillman. "I must first detail as near as I can what happened at the river, and how the few settlers that were left defended themselves against the Indians until the volunteers and regulars came to their assistance."
"I did not know there were any regular troops that far down. I supposed that those with Capt. A. I. Smith at Big Bend were all the troops in that section of the country," continued the first speaker.
"You were mistaken then," continued Hillman; "Captain Jones was stationed at Crescent City in Cal., 65 miles below, with a part of his company. Agent Wright had made arrangements with him to come up to the mouth of the river as soon as he could obtain orders to do so from the commanding officer of the department. But it was not till the first day of the following month (March) that he received orders to move. Capt. Ord was at the same time ordered to repair to Crescent City and join Capt. Jones in the march to the mouth of the river to chastise the Indians. Mr. Geo. H. Abbott was busy, during the stay of Wright in Crescent City, in trying to organize a company of volunteers to accompany Wright to Rogue River, but was delayed in getting arms and horses for the men, and Wright started up alone, while Abbott was to follow as soon as he could do so.
It was not till the first of March that Abbott was able to move from Chetco River, 40 miles below Rogue River. Captains Jones and Ord, of the regulars, did not leave Crescent City till the 8th of March, and did not arrive at Rogue River until the 20th. Thus it was nearly a month after the massacre before assistance came, in men or food, for they were in extreme want for both.
"We must now go back to the time when the five men sent one of their number up to the Big Flat with the news of the outbreak. It was not necessary to send him, for those at that place had become painfully aware that the Indians had been at deadly work at the mouth, but to what lengths they had gone they did not know. The dancers stopped as they heard the firing by the five men into the mass of Indians on their way to the Big Flat to massacre the dancers. Gathering together outside the building in which they had, such a short time before, been so merry, and with rifles ready they stood guard till dawn of day. Then starting three men ahead as scouts, they began a slow but determined march towards the devastated settlements at the mouth of the river. They were not molested, nor did they see signs of Indians, until halfway down, when they received a half dozen shots from high up on the side of the hill, which did no damage, but had a tendency to stimulate a more rapid movement towards their destination. They soon stood beside those who had gone before, and those who had escaped the massacre, amidst the yet-smoldering ruins of many cabins, and over the mangled bodies of those who had been so ruthlessly butchered. Gathering together all the dead bodies that could be found, they dug separate graves and buried them side by side in a small grove of alders that grew by the side of a running brook, which a little further on dashes over a precipitous bank, and again gathering headway sweeps gaily along curling and rippling over the pebbly beach, washing and hurrying the golden sands swiftly along toward the rumbling breakers where at last it is swallowed up in the mighty, fathomless ocean."
"Why, Hillman, you're of a poetic turn of mind--didn't know that before," ventured Major Bruce.
"I was not exactly thinking of what I was saying, but my mind was down there in that alder grove, listening to that energetic, earnest prayer offered up over the graves of those dead pioneers, and taking in those lofty, soul-mellowing strains of that old impressive hymn, sung when the prayer was ended:
Why should we mourn departed friends,"While the graves were being filled, a shower of bullets came snapping through the branches of the alder trees, but doing no damage. Those standing around the graves rushed out in the direction from whence the bullets came, but no enemy was to be found, as they fled as soon as they had fired to the dense timber and hills which surrounded us. When the graves had been filled, each proceeded to do his part in picking up and bringing to a designated spot all provisions, bedding, tools and all kinds of useful articles that had not been destroyed by the Indians. Putting all these into a log house which they had fixed upon as their place of residence until relief came, or until they should leave for the lower settlements, they proceeded to build additions to it, and had a place of defense which the Indians could not, should they attempt it, carry by assault or regular siege. When their fort was completed they began to look around them for the enemy, but in all but a few cases were disappointed. The Indians lurked around in the hills above the mouth, and along the trail leading down to the coast; but were quite shy in showing themselves to those who were looking for them. It was not long before the diet of bacon, bread and tea and coffee began to show its effects on the occupants of the fort. Fresh meat was only to be had by killing deer, and to kill them it was necessary to go out in force to save themselves from being killed by the Indians. So one morning a number of the best shots in the fort were detailed to make an attempt to get some fresh meat.
Or shake at death's alarms?
'Tis but the voice that Jesus sends.
To call us to his arms.
"Coming down a long slope of the Coast Range, they could see the Big Flat above and the mouth of the river below. Heavily loaded with venison, they had sat down on a bare, rocky ridge to rest themselves. Busily intent on looking at the fine landscape spread out before them, and especially at the Big Flat, where they could see persons standing and walking here and there, they were not aware that they themselves were being watched. Suddenly a heavy volley of bullets was fired amongst them. Springing to their feet and looking around, it was some minutes before they learned from what quarter they were assailed. From the brush through which they had just passed, which formed a saddle over the sharp rocky backbone of the ridge, the Indians were pouring both bullets and arrows into the little squad of eight men. Being in open view and sitting down when the Indians fired at them, it would be supposed that they would all have been killed or wounded, but they escaped with only five of them being slightly wounded, none so badly but that he could still use his rifle, which each did with good effect. There was no way of retreat. The ridge was bare of brush, trees or rocks ahead of them for half a mile; the sides were also bare for a hundred yards down each way, and so steep that one could neither run nor walk down. When the men had taken in the situation, which they were but a few seconds in doing, one of them said in a loud tone, 'Charge them, boys, it's our only chance.' And with a loud and defiant yell the boys charged sixty yards in open ground, up to and into the brush. It took but a few seconds for the brave and determined men to reach the brush and begin to deal death amongst their enemies. Jumping into the brush at random, firing and striking with their revolvers at the Indians wherever found, and in almost every instance with deadly effect, they soon cleared the thicket of the enemy and received themselves no further injury than that received at the first fire. The Indians, not accustomed to, nor expecting, such heroic resistance, and having suffered the loss of a third of their number in killed, fled with their wounded back along the ridge and then down the mountain towards Big Flat on the river, leaving our brave men to gather up the spoils of the fray, such as guns, pistols, knives, bows and arrows and ------"
"Didn't they scalp the dead Indians?" asked someone.
"I can't tell you, I never heard that they said they did," replied Hillman, "but if they did do it, they were not be blamed much."
"They now had no more fear of being attacked while on their way home. So bandaging their wounds as well as they could with the limited means at hand, they gathered their spoils and game and made their way down to the fort. A staggering set they were. Two of them were wounded in the calf of the leg, and by the time they arrived at the fort they were limping equal to Old Limpy himself, while those who were not wounded were carrying more than their share of the game and were drooping under their accumulated burden. After they had reached the fort and told their experience, the deer were soon dressed, and as the hunters were very hungry, and the others were anxious to have a taste of fresh meat, it was not long until the welcome odor of broiling venison was working a salutary effect on the minds of all in the fort. Gaiety soon took the place of the dark, somber thoughts which had filled for a week past the minds of the anxious persons. Their confidence and hope seemed to grow stronger as the cheerfulness became universal. When some learned doctor shall have said that gaiety is the bud and blossom of health, he will have said that which is as true as that gaiety promotes confidence, elevates courage and sharpens the wit. In a brief half hour all bodily ailment was forgotten and evil forebodings were cast aside. Even the brave recluse who so nobly defended his cabin against a horde of savages ventured a skeleton joke.
" 'Hi! exclaimed a Johnny Ball, 'wouldn't some potatoes go nice with this treat.'
" 'That is it, boys,' chimed in the Rev. M. B. Gregory, who was not an inch behind the bravest of the men in an affray with the Indians, 'we'll have some, too; there is a lot of them up the river, and we can have them if we have got the courage to go after them.'
" 'All right, parson, if you'll go along and point them out we'll get them tomorrow.'
" 'I'll go. Ever since we buried those poor mangled bodies under those alder trees I've felt that I'd just as soon as not have a shot at the murderous rascals of Indians.'
" 'You'll have a chance for that tomorrow, for we saw Indians by the dozens on Big Flat,' said one of the eight hunters. 'They seemed to be busy at something; probably they are carrying the potatoes away.'
" 'Then we must be off by daylight tomorrow morning and get our share if they are not all gone by that time, and I'll take the lead,' and the parson elevated himself to his full height--six foot three.
" 'We can get the vegetables without bloodshed,' said the recluse. 'If the parson takes the lead, it is only necessary for the Indians to get a glimpse of that flaming red head of his coming up the flat so early in the morning to think the sun is rising in the west, and every one of them will take to the hills and leave the potatoes for us to bring away.' There were broad grins all around, and on the parson's face as well.
"There was an old horse belonging to someone, which was the only means of transportation they had, so fixing up an old cart which lay on the beach and harnessing the old horse to it, they started, ten men strong, up the river to bring down the potatoes. It was a doubtful undertaking, but they must have food."
The hour for roll call had now arrived, and Hillman was again interrupted.
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, April 18, 1879, page 1 The story was continued with the July 25 issue, below.
A Scout in '56.
As the Southern Battalion of Oregon volunteers were on their march to the Meadows on Rogue River in the spring of '56, we (the writer was one of them) camped at Peavine on the mountain, about eight miles below Galice Creek. Captain Lewis with his scouts was sent out to find the enemy, but after scouring the neighborhood for three days they reported "No Indians." We all knew there were Indians around, however, and attributed the failure of Lewis and his scouts to discover them to the simple fact that they had not looked in the right place. So Capt. Mike Bushey was ordered to take fifteen men and see if he could find the enemy. He declared that it would be easy to do, but the trouble would be to bring back the news. He demurred against starting out with so few men in open daylight, as this would give the Indians the advantage, and proposed if they would allow him to wait until dark to report the position of the redskins in two days. But the orders were imperative to start in an hour. I was chosen as one of the party, and about 10 o'clock a.m. we started out in a drenching rain varied with intervals of snowing. I cannot remember the names of all the party, but they were the picked men of he company, all willing to go anywhere that Mike would lead, having all confidence in their captain and in each other.
Their route led down the mountain to the river, and down the left bank of the river. After they had gone some distance down the river, each on the sharp lookout for anything that might aid them in the errand upon which they were sent, Alex. Watts called to Capt. Bushey and pointed out to him some signs in the sand which convinced them beyond a doubt that there were Indians only a short distance ahead, carrying the news of our expedition to the Indian camp. Mike laughed and said, "Just as I expected; we'll find the Indians, and they'll find us about the same time. But that's what we are here for, and we'll find them if Old John and all the rest are in the bunch." So we paddled along, making as good time as we could, occasionally seeing the trail of the two Indian runners, but unable to catch a glimpse of them until after dark. Keeping on in the darkness, we came to the large bar above the Little Meadows, which contains about eighty acres of level land. Here we found a large Indian camp, with a few horses scattered about, but no Indians. About two miles back one of our men had become separated from the rest of the party and had failed to rejoin us. Near the place we last saw him a bright fire was blazing in full view of all the surrounding country. Mike expressed astonishment that Tennessee should build a fire there, of all places; but Hank Jones, Cabe Williams and Alex. Watts, all old hands at the business, said "signal fire," with which opinion the Capt. was inclined to agree. As he was very tired, he requested Alex. Watts, Seth Smith and Jake Miller to go up the river toward the fire and find the lost man if they could, but to be governed by the greatest caution, while he and the rest would go into a small gulch near and await their return.
The three men struck out in the darkness and in due time reached the spot indicated, but found no fire, no man nor anything else that they were looking for. They called for Tennessee several times, but received no answer, so they returned to the bar. Just as they were descending the last side hill above the bar Watts, who was ahead, noticed someone abreast of him about ten paces distant on the side of the hill. Thinking it to be Smith who was next to him, he said: "This way, Smith, the trail turns down here," when to his surprise Smith answered from behind him.
"All right, I'm coming."
"Who the ------ is that on the side hill?" said Watts.
"Why, that must be Tennessee," answered Smith, and called to him twice--but no answer was returned.
"Come along quick, or we'll hear something drop," said Watts, and they made good time until they rejoined the command. They took time, however, to notice two signal fires on the mountain about a mile away, and between them and the camp they had left in the morning.
They found that the Captain's party had built two small fires in the brush; as they were badly chilled by the cold rain, the Captain thought it best to risk danger from the Indians rather than have the boys suffer. As they came into camp Watts said, "Mike, we are surrounded and came near running over an Indian not more than two hundred yards above here, and there are two fires blazing on the mountain."
"Put out the fires, boys!" said the Captain, giving the nearest a kick, when--Pop! Pop! Pop! came about a dozen bullets.
"This way, boys! this way!" and we fell in and made good time down the river about a quarter of a mile. Coming to a halt we called the roll and found Hank Jones, Henry Ammons and Jack Winningham missing. Smith and Watts went back at once to find them, and after creeping cautiously all around the fires and seeing nothing of them they called loudly several times, but no answer came back to them save the faint echoes and the sighing of the night wind, and as they perceived unmistakable evidences of the presence of lurking foes in numbers too great for their safety, they rejoined the party and compared notes. It was found that all the men had been seen after the firing, so it was certain that they had not been killed.
The captain was reluctant to start without finding the missing men, but there was no alternative, so he gave orders to march up the hill, taking the lead himself and placing Alex. Watts at the extreme rear with instructions to let no one fall behind him. Soon the word was passed back, "Down!" and we heard the tramp of the enemy, not more than fifteen paces distant. We counted sixty-two as they passed, and could hear them shouting to one another all over the mountainside. We started on again, moving cautiously and silently, but had gone only a short distance when the word was whispered again, and we dropped and waited while seventeen more went by, almost as close as the others. Then we continued our march up the hill to the top and turning towards Peavine, we found ourselves at daybreak on the mountain above the bar. We had been about half the night going around a deep gulch which it was not safe to cross.
About daybreak the Indians fired a few shots down on the bar and yelled as if they had found a prize, and we feared that the missing men had stayed there and been discovered. We had much confidence in Jones, as he was one of the coolest and bravest men I ever knew, still we could not help feeling anxious for the men. We had our hands full, however, in looking out for ourselves, as we were far from safe. We had twenty miles to go to reach camp, and the savages were watching every trail, so we had to cross the canyons. At one place we frightened a party of redskins outnumbering us considerably.
Wearily we urged ourselves forward until we came to the foot of the last hill. To climb this in our exhausted condition seemed almost impossible, but we managed to crawl upward for about half a mile, when the men began to give out, and by the time the foremost had reached camp some were three or four miles in the rear. Bill Lane and Seth Smith, who got in first, started a party back with horses for the tired men, and all came in by sundown except the missing ones spoken of before.
The three who were separated from us on the bar came in about two o'clock next morning, and Tennessee had come in about eight o'clock the morning before. So we all arrived safe from one of the hardest tramps of the whole war.
Ashland Tidings, May 9, 1879, page 1 These events fit into the narrative related in the August 29, 1879 issue, below.
A Reminiscence of the Indian War, 1853.
(J. W. Nesmith in Western Star.)
During the month of August, 1853, the different tribes of Indians inhabiting the Rogue River Valley in Southern Oregon suddenly assumed a hostile attitude. They murdered many settlers and miners and burned nearly all of the buildings for over a hundred miles along the main traveled route, extending from Cow Creek, on the north, in a southerly direction to the Siskiyou Mountains. General Lane, at the request of citizens, assumed control of a body of militia suddenly called for the defense of the settlers.
Captain Alden of the regular army and Col. John E. Ross of Jackson County joined General Lewis and served under his command. Old Joe, John and Sam were the principal leaders of the Indians, aided by such young and vigorous warriors as George and Limpy.
The Indians collected in a large body and retreated northward in the direction of the Umpqua. Gen. Lane made a vigorous pursuit and on the 24th of August overtook and attacked the foe in a rough mountainous and heavily timbered region upon Evans Creek. The Indians had fortified their encampment by fallen timber, and being well supplied with arms and ammunition made vigorous resistance. In an attempt to charge through the brush Gen. Lane was shot through the arm, and Capt. Alden received a wound from which he never fully recovered. Several others of the attacking party were wounded, some of whom subsequently died of their injuries. Capt. Pleasant Armstrong, an old and respected citizen of Yamhill County, was shot through the heart and died instantly.
The Indians and whites were so close together that they could easily converse. The most of them knew Gen. Lane, and when they found that he was in command of the troops they called out to "Joe Lane" and asked him to come into their camp to arrange some terms for a cessation of hostilities. The General, with more courage than discretion, in his wounded condition ordered a cessation of hostilities and fearlessly walked into the hostile camp, where he saw many wounded Indians together with several who were dead and being burned to keep them from falling into the hands of the enemy, which clearly demonstrated that the Indians had gotten the worst of the fight. After a long conference it was finally agreed that there should be a cessation of hostilities and that both parties should return to the neighborhood of Table Rock, on the north side of the Rogue River Valley, and that an armistice should exist until Gen. Joel Palmer, then Superintendent of Indian Affairs of Oregon, could be sent for, and that a treaty should be negotiated with the United States authorities, in which all grievances should be adjusted between the parties. Both whites and Indians marched back slowly over the small trail, encumbered with their wounded, each party keeping a vigilant watch on the other. General Lane encamped on Rogue River, while the Indians selected a strong and almost inaccessible position, high up and just under the perpendicular cliffs of Table Rock, to await the arrival of Superintendent Palmer and Agent Culver.
At the commencement of hostilities the people of Rogue River Valley were sadly deficient in arms and ammunition, many of the settlers and miners having traded their arms to the Indians, who were much better armed and equipped for war than their white neighbors. The rifle and revolver had displaced the bow and arrow and the war club with which the native was armed when the writer of this knew and fought them in 1848.
General Lane and Capt. Alden at the commencement of the outbreak had sent an express to Governor George L. Curry, then secretary and acting governor. Major Rains of the 24th U.S. Infantry, commanding the district with headquarters at Fort Vancouver, was called upon to supply the threatened settlers with arms and ammunition.
Major Rains responded to the call for arms and ammunition, but was deficient in troops to escort them to their destination at the seat of war. Governor Curry at once authorized the writer to raise seventy-five men and escort the arms to the threatened settlements. The escort was soon raised in the town of Salem and marched to Albany where it waited a couple of days for the arrival of Second Lieutenant August V. Kautz, in charge of the wagons with rifles and cartridges, together with a twelve-pound howitzer and a good supply of fixed ammunition. Kautz was then fresh from West Point, and this was his first campaign. He subsequently achieved the rank of Major-General and rendered good service during the "late unpleasantness" with the South and is now Colonel of the 8th U.S. Infantry.
After a toilsome march, dragging the howitzer and other materials of war through the Umpqua canyon, and up and down the mountain trails made slippery by recent rains, we arrived at Gen. Lane's encampment on Rogue River near the subsequent site of Fort Lane on the 8th day of September. On the same day Capt. A. J. Smith of the Union army arrived at headquarters with Company C First Dragoons. The accession of Capt. Smith's company and my own gave Gen. Lane a force sufficient to cope with the enemy, then supposed to be about 700 strong. The encampment of the Indians was still on the side of the mountains of which Table Rock forms the summit, and at night we could plainly see their camp fire, while they could look directly down upon us. The whole command was anxious and willing to fight, but General Lane had pledged the Indians that an effort should be made to treat for peace. Superintendent Palmer and Agent Culver were upon the ground. The armistice had not yet expired, and the 10th was fixed for the time of the council. On the morning of that day Gen. Lane sent for me and desired me to go with him to the council ground, inside the Indian encampment, to act as interpreter, as I was master of the Chinook jargon. I asked the General upon what terms and where we were to meet the Indians. He replied that the agreement was that the meeting should take place within the encampment of the enemy, and that he should be accompanied by ten other men of his own selection, unarmed. Against those terms I protested, and told the General that I had traversed the country five years before and fought those same Indians; that they were notoriously treacherous, and in early times had earned the designation of "Rogues" by never permitting a white man to escape with his scalp when once within their power; that I knew them better than he did, and that it was criminal folly for eleven unarmed white men to place themselves voluntarily within the power of seven hundred well-armed hostile Indians in their own secure encampment. I reminded him that I was a soldier in command of a company of cavalry and was ready to obey his order to lead my men into action or to discharge any soldierly duty, no part of which was to go into the enemy's camp as an unarmed interpreter. The General listened to my protest and replied that he had fixed upon the terms of meeting the Indians and should keep his word, and if I was afraid to go, I could remain behind. When he put it upon that ground I responded that I thought I was as little acquainted with fear as he was, and that I would accompany him to what I believed would be our slaughter.
Early on the morning of the 10th of September, 1853, we mounted our horses and rode out in the direction of the Indian encampment. Our party consisted of the following named persons: General Joseph Lane; Joel Palmer, Superintendent of Indian Affairs; Samuel H. Culver, Indian Agent; Capt. A. J. Smith, 1st Dragoons; Capt. L. F. Mosher, Adjutant; Col. John E. Ross; Capt. J. W. Nesmith; Lieut. A. V. Kautz, R. B. Metcalf; J. D. Mason; T. P. Tierney. By reference in the U.S. Statutes at Large, v. 10, p. 1020, the most of the above names will be found appended to the treaty that day executed. After riding a couple of miles across the level valley we came to the foot of the mountain where it was too steep for horses to ascend. We dismounted and hitched our horses and scrambled up for half a mile over huge rocks and through brush, and then found ourselves in the Indians' stronghold, just under the perpendicular cliff of Table Rock, and surrounded by 700 fierce and well-armed hostile savages in all their gorgeous war paint and feathers. Capt. Smith had drawn out his company of dragoons and left them in line on the plain below. It was a bright beautiful morning and the Rogue River Valley lay like a panorama at our feet; the exact line of dragoons sitting statue-like upon their horses, with their white belts and burnished scabbards and carbines, looked like they were engraved upon a picture, while a few paces in our rear the huge perpendicular wall of Table Rock towered, frowningly, many hundred feet above us. The business of the treaty commenced at once. Long speeches were made by General Lane and Superintendent Palmer; they had to be translated twice. When an Indian spoke in the Rogue River tongue, it was translated by an Indian interpreter into Chinook or jargon to me, when I translated it into English; when Lane or Palmer spoke, the process was reversed. I give the speech to the Indian interpreter in Chinook, and he translating it to the Indians in their own tongue. This double translation of long speeches made the labor tedious, and it was not until late in the afternoon that the treaty was completed and signed. In the meantime an episode occurred which came near terminating the treaty as well as the representation of one of the "high contracting parties" in a sudden and tragic manner. About the middle of the afternoon a young Indian came running into camp stark naked with the perspiration streaming from every pore. His speech had created a great tumult among his tribe. Gen. Lane told me to inquire of the Indian interpreter the cause of the commotion; the Indian responded that a company of white men down on Applegate Creek and under the command of Capt. Owen had that morning captured an Indian known as Jim Taylor, and had tied him up to a tree and shot him to death. The hubbub and confusion among the Indians at once became intense, and murder glared from each savage visage. The Indian interpreter told me that the Indians were threatening to tie us up to trees and serve us as Owen's men had served Jim Taylor. I saw some Indians gathering up lasso ropes, while others drew the skin covers from their guns and the wiping sticks from their muzzles. There appeared a strong probability of our party being subjected to a sudden volley. I explained as briefly as I could what the interpreter had communicated to me, and in order to keep our people from huddling together and thus make a better target for the savages I used a few English words, not likely to be understood by the Indian interpreter, such as "disperse" and "segregate." In fact, we kept so close to the savages and separated from one another that any general firing must have been nearly as fatal to the Indians as to the whites. While I admit that I thought my time had come, and hurriedly thought of wife and children, I noticed nothing but coolness among my companions. Gen. Lane sat upon a log with his arm bandaged in a sling, the lines about his mouth rigidly compressing his lips, while his eyes flashed fire. He asked brief questions and gave me sententious answers to what little the Indians said to us. Capt. A. J. Smith, who was prematurely gray-haired and was afflicted with a nervous snapping of the eyes, leaned upon his cavalry saber and looked anxiously down upon his well-formed line of dragoons in the valley below. His eyes snapped more vigorously than usual and muttered words escaped from under the old dragoon's white mustache that did not sound like prayers. His squadron looked beautiful but alas! they could render us no service. I sat down on a log close to old chief Joe and, having a sharp hunting knife under my hunting shirt, kept one hand near its handle, determined that there would be one Indian made "good" about the time the firing commenced. In a few moments Gen. Lane stood up and commenced to speak slowly but very distinctly. He said, "Owens, who has violated the armistice and killed Jim Taylor, is a bad man. He is not one of my soldiers. When I catch him he shall be punished. I promised in good faith to come into your camp, with ten other unarmed men, to secure peace. Myself and men are placed in your power. I do not believe that you are such cowardly dogs as to take advantages of our unarmed condition. I know that you have the power to murder us and can do so as quickly as you please, but what good will our blood do you? Our murder will exasperate our friends, and your tribe will be hunted from the face of the earth. Let us proceed with the treaty, and in place of war have a lasting peace." Much more was said in this strain by the General all rather defiant, and nothing of a begging character. The excitement gradually subsided after Lane promised to give a fair compensation for the defunct Jim Taylor in shirts and blankets.
The treaty of the 10th of September 1853 was completed and signed and peace restored for the next two years. Our party wended their way among the rocks down to where our horses were tied and mounted. Old A. J. Smith galloped up to his squadron and gave a brief order. The bugle sounded a note or two, and the squadron wheeled and trotted off to camp. As Gen. Lane and party rode back across the valley we looked up and saw the rays of the setting sun gilding the summit of Table Rock. I drew a long breath and remarked to the old General that the next time he wanted to go unarmed into a hostile camp, he must hunt up someone besides myself to act as interpreter. With a benignant smile he responded, "God bless you, luck is better than science."
I never hear the fate of Gen. Canby, at the Modoc camp, referred to, that I do not think of our narrow escape of a similar fate at Table Rock.
Ashland Tidings, May 16, 1879, page 1 The Evans Creek battle and Table Rock Treaty are also described in the October 4, 1878 entry, above.
Murders by the Indians in Josephine County in 1856.
KILLING OF TOM FRIZZELL AND MUNGO.
In 1853 there were two ferries across the Rogue River--Vannoy's, about two miles above the mouth of Applegate, and Frizzell's, a short distance below. When the Indians broke out in hostility Frizzell left his ferry and, with several others, forted at Vannoy's, but after a few days of tranquility they concluded that the war was only a raid by a few young bucks and that it was all over. Acting upon this view, Tom Frizzell and a man nicknamed Mungo went down to Frizzell's ferry to see if all was right there. They reached the ferry without encountering any Indians and were returning when, about two miles below Vannoy's, they were fired upon by a large party of Indians, and Frizzell was instantly killed. Mungo miraculously escaped instant death from the murderous volley of bullets and sprang down the bank into a willow thicket. The Indians surrounded him, and began a siege which was varied with attacks at long range. They were afraid to approach near enough for him to see them often, but tried to drive him out by setting fire to the brush. Failing in this, they stood off and fired volley after volley into the part of the thicket where he lay concealed, but he was too well protected to be reached by their bullets. Undaunted in his peril, he cursed them as cowards and shouted invitations to them to come in and take him; but they did not want him at the price they would have to pay, for they well knew that his rifle would make good Indians of some of them before he could be killed or captured by an open assault.
As the time for the return of the two men passed, and several hours went by without bringing any explanation of their absence, those at Vannoy's fort became alarmed, and Vannoy, Courser, Jack Van Orman and three or four others started down the river to hunt for the missing men. The redskins, seeing them approach, fled without offering any chance for a fight, and the boys soon found Mungo. Finding him wounded, they took him back to the fort at once, but he only lived to get there. He had received a mortal wound at the first fire by the Indians, but his fortitude and courage kept him alive and able to hold the red devils at bay until relief came to him with his friends, and then, the excitement over, his freed spirit was relieved from the fetters of clay, and the brave heart ceased its beating.
MURDER OF A PARTY ON AN ISLAND--HANGING OF OLD TAYLOR.Ashland Tidings, June 20, 1879, page 1
Early in the spring of '53 a party of five or seven men went down Rogue River, below Galice Creek, and camped on an island. Time passed, and they did not come out from the island. The Indians were questioned about their failure to appear, and they said the river had risen and drowned the entire party. This was at the time believed by the whites to be true, but by and by various articles known to have belonged to the missing men were seen among the Indians, and searching inquiry among the squaws developed the alarming fact that the men had all been murdered by the Indians. Under professions of friendship the redskins had gone into their camp, and springing upon them without warning had butchered them with knives and then divided the camp equipage, clothing, etc. among themselves in regular Indian fashion. Further inquiry made known the fact that the party of murdering Indians were led by the head chief of the Rogue Rivers, named Old Taylor. Holding in contempt the danger to himself from the few whites, this murderous old rascal went openly to Vannoy's, as though his conscience were as clean as the driven snow, unstained by the heart's blood of the men he had so treacherously killed. He reckoned without his host, however, in this instance, and with another Indian was captured by Vannoy, Bill Shelley, Jack Van Orman, and a few others. The two redskins were given a formal trial, and Old Taylor protested his innocence at first, but after a while broke down and confessed his guilt. He described how the murdering was done, reproducing the details of the tragedy minutely. The Indians had gone into the camp with friendly words in their mouths, and without arousing the least suspicion managed to get each white man between two Indians, and then at a prearranged signal they attacked and killed the defenseless men. He endeavored to excuse or palliate his crime by saying that he only used a little knife, while the others all had big knives. This was not considered by the court as a justification of the crime of murder, and Old Taylor and his companion were sentenced to be hanged. When he heard the verdict he tried to buy his life. At first he offered one horse for his partner and two for himself, but as that proposition was not accepted he kept raising his bid until the price was five horses for himself, two for his partner and one hundred dollars in cash, "and not a d---n cent more"--still the scales of the white man's justice showed two ropes in the lower side of the balance and the seven horses and the hundred dollars against the beam. The limbs of a large white oak furnished support for the ropes, and Old Taylor and his partner were sent where they would cut no more white men, even with "little knives."
[The Murder of Taylor and Wilson.]Early in the spring of '55 the old settlers of Josephine County were alarmed by the talk of the Indian boys and young squaws, who kept telling their white friends that there would be a war by and by. When asked the reason for a war their reply was that the blankets and clothing given to them to make peace in '53 were about worn out, so they would just make a "little war." Then they would have a good talk and the Boston man would give them "heap blanket, heap shirt, heap pant, heap powder," and heaps of everything else they wanted, in order to make peace again. They said the "Boston men" liked gold and did not want to fight, and would pay them liberally to keep the peace, so they would fight just a little--just enough for "intimidating" purposes. In vain we endeavored to convince them of the fallacy of their logic. The experience of two years before was fresh in their minds, and they wanted a big potlatch and thought they knew just how to get it. They felt themselves quite safe, for they had the reservation for a refuge when hard pressed by the whites after some stealing or murdering expedition. They could live in any part of the country they chose and go about unquestioned, and when they committed any depredations they had but to retreat to the reserve, where they were sure of the protection of Indian Agent Ambrose and the regular soldiers. As examples of this there are the circumstances attending and following the murder of Philpot, Dyar and McCue; the murder of the two white men who were hunting horses on Wagner Creek, the murder of the teamsters on the Siskiyou. The party of Indians who murdered the eleven men at the mouth of Scott River were followed by an avenging party of whites as far as the Reserve, where they were taken under the protection of the Indian agent, while the whites were insulted and laughed at by the agent and some of the officers. This was followed by the massacre of most of the whites between Rock Point and the Canyon, and the attack by Major Lupton upon the rancheria, whither some of the marauding parties had been traced. [The Lupton Massacre preceded the Indian attacks of October 9, 1855.] Before the attack by Lupton two men were murdered on the Siskiyou. These men, named Taylor and Wilson, were engaged in packing between Sailor Diggings and Happy Camp and were waylaid and killed on the mountain by the Indians, who captured their animals and merchandise. As soon as the murder was discovered a party numbering about twenty started from Sailor Diggings in pursuit of the Indians. The party was joined the first day by about fifteen more white men from Indian Creek. The pursuit was one that will long be remembered by those who composed the little party of thirty-five. It was almost impossible to follow the trail. The Indians would scatter and cover a strip several miles wide in their march, then they would come together again at some point agreed upon and after consultation scatter again. But we kept after them through the pathless wilderness--through forests and thickets almost impenetrable, up hill and down, across canyons and streams, over sharp rocks that cut our shoes from our feet, through bush and briers that tore our clothing and our flesh--for three days. On the third day we came upon them in camp on a spur of the Siskiyou between the forks of Applegate Creek. We found them there, as I said, but they discovered us as soon as we did them and had the advantage of the first fire. None of us were struck, although there were some "close calls," and several of us "felt the breath" of the leaden messengers of death. We answered their fire with an immediate charge, which put them to flight at once. We followed them for about two miles, when we discovered that we had lost all traces of their route, so we returned to their camp and captured eleven head of horses and mules, and found considerable of the plunder they had secured from the pack train of the men they had murdered. As we could not carry this back with us, we destroyed it and, without having killed a single Indian, we took up our weary march homeward almost naked over some of the roughest country that the Indians could have picked out in Southern Oregon to lead us through.
Ashland Tidings, July 4, 1879, page 3
A Bit of History.
The following interesting sketch appeared a short time ago in the Western Star. It was written by a Canyonville gentleman:
The sound of the ax, the lowing of herds, and the busy hum of civilization is heard all over the green valleys of Southern Oregon. A few years ago different sounds and sights met the ear and eye. Where now stands the farmhouse and varied panorama of field and moving herds once dwelt the Indian in savage barbarism. He has taken his flight from our midst to other lands, but many are the stories told by the early settler of his contact with them, and many spots still bear record of his existence by reason of the tragic events which have been there enacted.
A short time ago your correspondent had occasion to visit a locality in Cow Creek known as Council Creek Valley, a place noted as being the former home of a considerable tribe of Indians. On this spot Indians used to meet the whites in council, also settle disputes among different tribes. Sometimes questions were settled by debate and sometimes by the stern arbitrament of war.
In 1850 a tribe of Indians frequented this locality and made it their home under the chieftainship of an Indian named Quenti Ousi [also spelled Quentiousa]. He was chief of the Cow Creeks and South Umpqua and was aided in governing these tribes by his son Tom. Old settlers remember them as brave, haughty and tyrannical in the extreme. Old Quenti Ousi had a quarrel with our fellow citizen, Mr. I. B. Nichols, which he never forgot and which he tried hard to avenge. Nichols gave one of the chief's sons a cow-hiding for some mischief one day, and Quenti Ousi was about to make it a three-handed fight when William Russell (better known as Long Bill) knocked the chief down with a club. The chief went to Council Creek, vowing vengeance on Nichols, Russell and the white race. He called a war council, and for a long time he and his people refused to allow the whites to come to their camp or speak to them. Russell was afterwards waylaid and shot; four balls struck him, but by fast riding he escaped.
Remick Cowles (a pioneer who has passed away), in company with Nichols, G. W. Riddle and some others, armed themselves and went to Council Creek to interview to the Indians and, if possible, to arrest Tipsu Bill, a renegade Indian, who had murdered a man on Grave Creek. They met old Quenti Ousi and seven warriors, all well armed, near the creek. Quenti Ousi and his braves at once drew their guns on Nichols and others and but for the cool bravery of Captain Cowles and party there would have been a bloody conflict. The whites drew their guns on the chief and warriors and for some time a war of words between Cowles and Quenti Ousi was waged while all hands were looking at each other along the barrel of their guns. Not a muscle moved in fear, not a hand shook with fright, but each watched the other with that intensity which the panther exhibits when crouched for a spring at its prey. Had the least symptom of emotion or physical sign of fear been visible on the part of any of the whites, that look would have been the last; but they stood their ground as cool and collected as possible and the Indians concluded it was too tough a job for them. At last Cowles was informed that Tipsu Bill was not in their camp but that he would be produced, as the Cow Creeks did not wish to longer bear the responsibility of his lawless acts. In a few weeks his head was brought to Council Creek by Quenti Ousi, by whom he had been killed. Tipsu Bill was as desperate and brave an Indian as Captain Jack or any of the Modocs. He was tall and powerful and wore a mustache, which is very rare among Indians. He had a squaw wife, who was the mother of a child almost as white as the purest Castillian. Sometime previous to the date some settlers, seeing the child, concluded that it was a captive and accordingly a company of Myrtle Creek men armed themselves and went to Council Creek to effect a rescue. They found Bill and made their demand; he stepped into his wigwam and presented his wife and child and a cocked revolver, telling the whites to look but be sure and not attempt to lay hands on the child, as he would shoot the man who did it. They examined closely, but concluded it was not a white child [and] left.
In 1856 these Indians had been fighting the whites on Rogue River and on their return to Council Creek did not stay long but again commenced their lawless depredations on the neighborhood. One day while foraging around they surprised a settler, John Yell by name, in the Pine Mountains, west of Cow Creek, and caused him to make a desperate ride. He was out looking after stock and while slowly riding up the mountain came on Indian sign and on turning the ridge caught sight of old Quenti Ousi and his warriors, all painted and armed. He thought he had not been observed by the reds but he was soon disabused of this, for the painted demons came flying over the ridge like hornets, making the earth tremble with their keen war whoops. Down the mountain he went, driving the rowels into his horse for dear life; over rocks, fallen timber and brush--nothing could stop him in his flight, for he knew the slightest delay would cost his life. His saddle became so loose he was in danger of going over his horse's head and there being no chance to tighten it he got on behind the saddle and by one of the most reckless and dangerous rides known reached Cow Creek Valley in safety.
The whites then armed and pursued the Indians into Olillie Valley, where a battle was fought resulting in considerable loss to the Indians. Tom, the subchief, was among the slain. Thus ended the Council Creek Indians--the few returning being sent to a reservation. The land on which these tragic scenes were enacted is now the property of Mr. M. Dean and at the mouth of Council Creek; beneath the outstretching arms of the giant oaks that witnessed these events of long ago stands his dwelling. A more quiet and lovely spot cannot be found.
DOUGLAS.Ashland Tidings, July 11, 1879, page 3
Continuation of the Story of the Massacre at the Mouth of Rogue River
in the Early Part of the Year 1856.
It is due to the readers of the Tidings that the writer apologize for the break in the narrative which was so abruptly interrupted about three months ago. Circumstances beyond his control prevented the continuance of the story, but hereafter the running narrative of the events and incidents of the Indian hostilities in this section will be published as fast as the available space in the Tidings will allow, without a break, until the end of war is reached.
I shall take you from the camp at the mouth of Applegate down to the Big Meadows, thence to the Big Bend, further down Rogue River, where we shall see the closing scenes of the war. A war that thrust aside forever the last and most formidable barrier that stood in the path of the pioneers who opened the door of the fertile valleys of Rogue River and its tributaries, which today are flourishing, rising, teeming with all the progressive improvements and enlightened ideas of the Anglo-Saxon race. Where today stand the telegraph poles and stretch the singing wires--where today winds in and out among the foothills, or stretches away off yonder over the fertile level of the valleys, the smooth, hard road--where today can be seen the extensive fields of grain, the orchards of fruit trees laden with their annual tributes of healthful food, holding out their full hands and nodding a polite and cheerful welcome to the passerby--where today the truss bridges span the wildly rushing torrents, and nearby stands the stately church with its tall spire pointing heavenward--where today is reared the school house, the academy, the college, in which is trained the youthful mind in all that ennobles the nature and elevates to a sphere of greatness and prosperity each successive generation, and where stands the showy mansion with all its artificial surroundings, and the beautiful lowly cottage, perched on the brow of a commanding hill, or nestled at the base of a wooded mountain--then (but a quarter of a century ago) a wild waste, unexplored, unknown and unappreciated. News was carried in and out by the slow express on muleback. Trails only were known; flour and fruit were packed in to the mines on horses and mules. Rivers and creeks were forded over rocky bottoms and through swift, foaming water. There were no houses of worship and no schools nor children. Log cabins on the open plains or on river bars were all the dwellings in use, save now and then a tent or canvas house. Mining was the ultimate object of all, but now and then a feeble attempt was made to cultivate the ground with success far in the future.
It is to lay before the rising youth of Southern Oregon a view of the events as they occurred, which signalized the departure of the Indian inhabitants and the triumphs of the whites, that these sketches are written.
. When the narrative broke off last the Southern Oregon volunteers were in camp, and Con. Hillman was telling the boys about the massacre at the mouth of Rogue River and the siege which followed. A crowd had gathered again in front of the tent, and Hillman continued:
"I believe I left off where a party of our men with an old horse and cart started up to Big Flat after a load of potatoes. With the parson in the lead they struck off up the river, keeping a sharp lookout in every direction, for every thicket was the possible hiding place of the lurking foe. They were unmolested, however, on the way, and soon found themselves at the old cabin where the potatoes were stored. Tying the old horse to one corner of the house some of the men disposed themselves around a hundred yards or so from the building as sentinels, while others went into the cabin and began to load up the cart with the potatoes which were in a small cellar under the house, the opening to which was through the cabin floor. They had as yet seen no Indians, although their tracks were to be seen in all directions. The parson stationed himself on an eminence back of and considerably up the hill above the house, that he might obtain a better and more extended view of the surrounding country. Everything was quiet, too quiet for safety. The silence was depressing; a little stir, a noise, anything--an attack even--would be better than this depressing silence. Where there is noise of shouting, of firing, of rushing to and fro, a continued motion, danger is forgotten; the spirit, the courage rises. Suddenly a line of smoke was seen to issue from brush and timber skirting the flat about a hundred and fifty yards distant from the house. All hands rushed to the house for protection behind its walls, while the bullets came flying after and around them. The parson stood his ground, or rather sat his ground, for he was ensconced in and behind a ledge of rocks, but at last when he saw that all of his companions had safely arrived at the house, and were calling to him to join them, he darted from his hiding place and strode with hasty strides--"
"Bah! We don't want any of that style of sensational nonsense. Strode! You've been reading Cooper's Leatherstockings, or Deerslayer, or the Prairie Flower, or--"
"No," broke in someone else, "he's been reading the Pirates of the Gulf."
"Nothing of the kind lately," continued Hillman. "I've been reading Blackstone's Commentaries on Common Law and Parsons on pleading, but I couldn't compare it to anything else but that he strode, etc., but I'll say he ran like fury towards the house when a spent ball hit him in the back, just as he was raising one foot from the ground, and sent him forward with his hands and coattails extended after the fashion of a flying squirrel, which he imitated admirably as he went sailing down the hill to the house, where he was welcomed with a shout and a hurrah.
"Shots were exchanged at random between the hostile parties without doing any damage, until it became apparent to the men that they must start for the mouth of the river and fight their way through if necessary, for it would not do to be cooped up in the old house all night, or for any length of time, as the Indians might be only keeping them there with the object of attacking those at the fort below, and after killing them come back and finish the little party in short order.
"Regardless of the Indians' scattering fire, they started back down the river driving the old horse along, with as many potatoes in the cart as the old, broken-down animal could pull. Pushing the cart from the rear, and lifting on the wheels whenever the horse stalled, they entered the friendly palisades of the fort a little before sundown without the loss of a man, and with a good supply of potatoes."
Ashland Tidings, July 25, 1879, page 3
Continuation of the Story of the Massacre at the Mouth of Rogue River
in the Early Part of the Year 1856.
"Tell us," said someone, "all you know of the adventures of Captains Ord, Jones and Abbott while on their way from Crescent City to relieve those forted up at the mouth of the river."
"As I told you a few evenings ago," continued Hillman, "Capt. Abbott moved from Chetco River about the first of March to relieve those at Rogue River. Pursuing his way up the trail he met with no obstacles until near the mouth of Pistol River, fifteen miles below Rogue River. As his command descended the trail from the mountain to the beach they saw ahead of them a few Indians, who retreated as he advanced. Cautiously continuing along the sandy trail till near night, he became aware that the Indians were gathering in force in his front with the apparent purpose of disputing his further progress. Pushing on, the command arrived within a mile or so of Pistol River, when they found themselves confronted with a large band of Indians, who began an attack in their usual way--firing and giving that disgusting yell which is usually termed a war whoop. Without water for themselves or their horses the soldiers were compelled to stop and fight. Corralling their pack mules and riding horses they settled themselves to the fray with real earnestness. The horses and mules, unused to such noise, became almost unmanageable, while a few escaped and were captured by the Indians. Soon the Indians increased in number and their attack became more furious and determined; they were sheltered behind driftwood which lined the beach, and by the dense, scrubby brush which grows at the edge of the sand at the foot of the hills. Darkness was coming on and no hopes of water or assistance. The men had hitherto been only partially sheltered by the edge of the driftwood next to the surf. Their situation was becoming each moment more critical, the Indians pressing from the land side and in front and rear, while the surf would soon rise with the tide and engulf the whole command unless they shifted their ground. It became apparent that his life hung by a single hair.
"Capt. Abbott was a true soldier, and taking in the situation clearly, he gave his orders loud and clear above the din of rifle shots and the booming surf, which was by this time surging up and washing their feet as a warning to them to leave their ground and seek a higher one. A ridge about one hundred yards away, although occupied by the Indians, offered the only safe retreat from the surf, and as the Indians were all around, it mattered little which way they went--death seemed to stare at them from all sides.
"As soon as the captain had made up his mind as to the best course to be pursued, he shouted loud enough to be heard by all: 'Boys, do you see that ridge yonder? We must go to it or die in our tracks. Follow me and let the animals go to ------! Come on!'
"Clambering over the dense driftwood and logs, the men charged right into the nest of yelling savages, who were as thick as ants in their way and on the ridge. The Indians had the advantage in numbers and position, but the men must have shelter from both surf and bullets; some had been wounded at the beginning of the fray but none killed. Only one was wounded so badly as to need help, and many there were to help him, and soon all were safely on the ridge, busily engaged in piling up breastworks of the small logs and sticks with which they were surrounded. As soon as they were driven from the ridge the Indians became demoralized and ceased fighting; they had not expected to meet such stubborn resistance. Most of the animals fell into the hands of the Indians, but a few, packed with ammunition and some provisions, were secured. Working hard in the darkness, the men soon surrounded themselves with defenses which made them secure from any sudden attack, and then turned their attention to making themselves as comfortable as possible for the night. They had no water and after a little while the thirst became unbearable, especially to the wounded. Water must be had at all hazards, and finally three men volunteered to go after it to a little brook about a hundred yards distant. Laying aside their guns and taking such vessels as they could carry, the three men went out into the darkness upon their perilous errand. Orders were given not to fire until the men returned, or else had been discovered by the Indians. A deep silence followed, broken only by an occasional shot from an Indian, and the occasional sighing of the breeze through the treetops. Five minutes, ten, twenty--half an hour passed, and the waiting men peered anxiously into the darkness, hoping to catch a glimpse of their brave comrades returning. Suddenly the crash of many rifle shots came from the direction the men had taken, and faintly the rush of hurrying footsteps could be heard. A few straggling bullets came pattering into the logs of the barricade, and then all was quiet again but the morning wind and the roaring surf, and the breathless suspense in the camp was painful as the men watched with rifles cocked, ready to welcome friend or foe. An hour passed and the three men did not come. Hope had almost died when a well-known voice was heard with the news that they had returned safe, and with water. They had a narrow escape, and after the burning thirst of the wounded had been assuaged and the others had each been allowed to drink a little, the men recounted their adventures to eager listeners."
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, August 1, 1879, page 3
Continuation of the Story of the Massacre at the Mouth of Rogue River
in the Early Part of the Year 1856.
"The men recounted how they had safely and unobserved by the Indians made their way to the little stream and were just beginning to fill their vessels when a lot of Indians came towards them, carrying one of their number who had been wounded. They only had time to slip gently under a huge log which was partially covered with smaller timber and sticks, and sit quietly until the savages thought proper to leave. They had not yet tasted any water, being in too much haste to get back to their friends, and were compelled to crouch under the log and listen to the Indians drinking their fill, not more than ten feet away from them, while the water invitingly rippled past. Laying the wounded red down near the water, the Indians, after satisfying their own thirst, went away and left him alone. Not daring to speak to each other as they crouched under the log, the three men each knew what the others were thinking of--the wounded Indian must be dispatched, and so quietly as not to alarm the rest. Nudging each other, and with a perfect understanding, the men drew their knives in preparation for the sickening work, and as soon as the retreating Indians were out of close earshot, they pounced upon the helpless savage, and soon made a "good Indian" of him. But in the death struggle he had given a shout loud enough to reach the ears of some of his comrades, and by the time the three men had filled their vessels with water and had started off for the barricade a number of Indians had reached the spot. The Indians saw at once what had happened and started in pursuit of the men, but the darkness was too great to give them any hope of capture, so in sheer desperation they sent a volley after the retreating men. The men had hidden themselves in the driftwood to escape their pursuers, and when all was again quiet they ventured out and made their way safely into the barricade.
"The night passed without any more damage than they had suffered in the forepart of the attack. An occasional shot would vary the monotonous moaning of the wind and roaring of the surf. Morning dawned and the Indians were as numerous and determined as at first, and when daylight gave them a view of the situation they opened upon the command with renewed vigor. The men were now fairly protected by their improvised breastworks, and did not show any signs of weakening. Now and then--as at other and similar encounters--the firing would slacken and the hostile parties would engage in reciprocal badinage. In this case the Indians had the best of it, for they taunted the men with being hungry, while they themselves had fared sumptuously on the captured flour and sugar. In this manner the fight continued for some hours, when one of the command, the bravest of them all, and an officer of the company, Buck Miller, was shot through the head and instantly killed. His body was dragged out of the reach of the bullets and placed under a large log. Several more of the men had been wounded, and the Indians were pressing closer and closer, as if determined to annihilate the command. The situation was now becoming more desperate than ever. Want of water and food had begun to tell on some of the men, and all were more or less demoralized. Consulting with his men, Capt. Abbott was about to order an advance towards the river, to cut his way through the Indians if possible, and thence on to Rogue River, when the Indians were seen to hastily leave their coverts on the lower end of the trail and scamper wildly into the brush and up the hill. In a few minutes three horsemen were seen to descend in a gallop to the beach, closely followed by a straggling band of blue-coated men. On they came, the officers, who were mounted, waving their swords and urging the men forward; onward along the beach until they reached to within two hundred yards of the battleground, when the Indians began pouring into them a heavy volley from the brush and timber on the right.
"At this junction the volunteers raised a loud shout and swinging their hats high in the air as a sign and welcome to their rescuers, who proved to be the commands of Captains Ord and Jones, and who came rushing pell-mell into the barricade. For a few minutes the hostile parties peppered each other, when the order was given to charge the Indians in the direction of the river, which lay but a short distance away. A guard, composed of soldiers and volunteers, was detailed to take care of the pack animals, while the remainder of the consolidated commands prepared to charge the enemy. It was necessary to charge in three parties, one obliquely to the left, one obliquely to the right and one forward in the center. Capt. Abbott took the left, Jones the right, and Ord commanded the center, while the wounded men, with the body of Buck Miller packed on a mule, and the pack train followed closely in the rear of the center. While the dispositions for the forward movement were being made, the firing continued as brisk as ever. The Indians saw the intention of the soldiers and seemed determined to frustrate it if possible. They gathered in [the] front and flanks more dense than before, and with renewed vigor poured in their shots upon the equally defiant troops."
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, August 8, 1879, page 3
Continuation of the Story of the Massacre at the Mouth of Rogue River
in the Early Part of the Year 1856.
"Presently a clear, ringing bugle blast was heard, the loud, hoarse commands were given to 'Forward!' and the movement began.
"Springing over the breastworks of logs, they yelled and fired, each man on his own account, now behind a log taking aim at an Indian, then up and forward, the officers doing equal duty with the men in all respects. The Indians slowly gave way as the troops pressed upon them, their chiefs giving their orders in a peculiar and loud voice. Soon the river was reached." [At the place where now stands the dwelling house of Mr. Asa Crook.--Ed. Tidings.] "From across the river in front, from the hill and brush on the right, and from the dense thickets in the rear a harassing fire was kept up upon the small band of troops.
"While the wounded were being cared for by the surgeon and his assistants and the almost famished volunteers were slaking their thirst at the river, the soldiers kept back the Indians, who yet seemed determined to capture the combined force, or at all hazards prevent their progress towards the mouth of Rogue River.
"Suddenly the Indians abandoned their positions on the right and rear, crossed over the river and confronted the troops with the evident determination to dispute further progress. As both the troops and volunteers were considerably exhausted, and as there was fine grazing for their animals it was deemed best to camp and recruit, as from present appearances they must first whip the Indians thoroughly or they would not be able to continue their march toward Rogue River.
"Captain Ord, who was the superior officer, then detailed a guard to protect the animals as they grazed around the camp, and, leaving fifteen men in camp as a reserve and to care for the baggage, crossed over the river and drove the Indians out of their hiding places. Having only about sixty men to contend against two or three hundred Indians, he had a hard task, but it must be performed; they must depend upon their own powers, and to show any signs of weakening would be a glad token to the Indians and would encourage them to press their advantage in numbers and superior knowledge of the country. Knowing that courage and activity would alone save them, Ord, after having cleared the brush on the edge of the river, pushed on and drove the Indians further back over a low hill and sent them scurrying down its declivity into a small valley." [Now owned and cultivated by George Lawrence.--ed. Tidings.] "By this time a large party of Indians had placed themselves between the troop and the camp, and the captain was forced to turn his attention to them. In obedience to orders, the men faced about, and charged down the hill toward camp, plunging through the tall, tangled fern, yelling and firing whenever an Indian was seen. The Indians gave way readily before the charge, and although those who had been driven over the hill returned and began a fusillade at long range upon their rear, the troops soon reached camp again with not a single man missing. Those in camp had not been disturbed, except by an occasional shot from some stray Indian, or possibly a sentinel stationed at some commanding spot to overlook the camp.
"Night was now near at hand. The shifting clouds and dark banks of vapor which overhung the ocean horizon portended a stormy night. Early in the evening the camp was organized, patrols sent out, camp guards placed, horses brought up and picketed, and by dusk all was in readiness for the night. A rude hut of driftwood and brush was constructed to shield as much as possible the wounded men, some of whom were now suffering severely, but there was no shelter for the others should the threatened storm come.
"About midnight one of the patrols saw an object approaching stealthily the place where he was for the moment standing. Presently another joined the first and both came directly towards him. The patrol was a regular soldier, and he necessarily followed the military rules and challenged with the regulation challenge:
" 'Who goes there?'
" 'Friends,' was answered, 'and who are you?'
" 'Dick Turpin, member of Co. --- U.S. Infantry, Capt. Jones, camped two hundred yards from here. March to camp. Forward in advance!'
"Marching to camp they proved to be Charley Brown [now living near Crescent City] and another, whose name I do not recollect, sent out to look for the troops and volunteers who had been waited for so long. Remaining in camp all the next day they were sent back, accompanied by four others, to Rogue River with the intelligence that succor would reach them in a few days--as soon as the Indians on Pistol River could be dispersed.
"A week passed and still the camp remained at Pistol River. Scouting parties were sent out daily but did no more than exchange a few shots now and then with some straggling band of Indians or perchance stumble upon some deserted Indian camp, which they invariably fired.
"A large Indian village which had formerly stood on a slight eminence near where the soldiers were camped had been burned down the autumn before. In front of the village and nearer the river was their burying ground. Some of the soldiers had accidentally found some Indian money (alaqua chick), hanging on a pole over one of the Indian graves, and the curiosity or cupidity of others was aroused, and those of a sacrilegious turn of mind began to overhaul the graves for more of the same kind of money. They were rewarded in one instance by finding nearly three hundred dollars in U.S. gold and silver coin in the grave of some celebrated chieftain who had been slain in battle or had quietly given up the ghost in his native village.
"Eight or ten days were spent in camp, and the Indians had apparently all gone away--scarcely a straggler could be seen. It was thought by some of the men that the Indians had only left Pistol River to gain the advantage of a more favorable position to attack the troops a few miles further on their way, at Myer's or Hunter's Creek, at the former of which was a natural ambush just suited to the purposes of the savages. Here the trail runs along the beach under a high rocky bluff which it ascends in one place by a steep, narrow and difficult way. It was very probable that the Indians were only trying to draw the troops into ambush, but it was determined to move forward and test the situation."
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, August 15, 1879, page 3
Conclusion of the Story of the Massacre at the Mouth of Rogue River
in the Early Part of the Year 1856.
"Leaving camp early in the morning, the commanding officer sent Capt. Abbott with his company in advance with orders to move slowly, and carefully scout the adjacent hills and gulches for signs of the Indians. They had only crossed the river and penetrated a half mile or so through the thick undergrowth that overspreads the river bottom when they were attacked on each flank and in front. Ord and Jones came quickly up and another fight as desperate as the first again commenced. It was a moving battle. The troops kept the trail and slowly pressed forward, while the Indians lurked in the thickets and timber on all sides, and kept up a straggling fire at long range. As they neared Myer's Creek, they descended again to the beach" [at the place where now is located the dwelling house and mining claim of Tommy Dolan--ed. Tidings.] "along which they must travel for a mile, until they reached Myer's Creek, exposed all the while to the fire of the Indians from the hill on the right. The bullets mostly flew over their heads, but occasionally one would knock the sand into their faces, or do some other erratic trick, but no damage to man or pack animal.
"Nearing the rocky bluff which overhangs the trail at Myer's Creek, they saw upon its sides and summit a large number of Indians, ready to pour a destructive fire down upon them. Undaunted, though watchful, the command steadily pursued their course towards the creek, and under the ominous rocky bluff. When within one hundred and fifty yards of it Capt. Ord ordered some of the best shots to halt and try to pick off the Indians who were the most exposed, while the remainder would hug the bluff as close as possible and get the pack train through safely, and then a detachment would return to their assistance. Ten men were detailed who had good rifles, and under the command of Tom Sharp" [now residing on Chetco River, Curry County, Oregon] "took their station among some large rocks, which are numerous in that locality, and began to pick off the Indians so effectually that they found it advisable to change quarters, and in ten minutes the bluff was clear.
"This was the last stand taken by the Indians, and the troops continued on their way unmolested, and at night encamped at Hunters Cove. A dispatch was sent to Rogue River that as the grass as good at the cove, and as there was no pressing need of further progress just then, the troops would remain in camp for a few days to recruit.
"Now, boys, I believe I've told you all I know about the massacre at the mouth of Rogue River--Adios!"
The listeners dispersed and silence soon took the place of bustle and stir around the camp fires. The next morning at eight o'clock Sergeant Major Dawes read to the assembled battalion the following:
GENERAL ORDER NO. 19,
Headquarters of Second Reg., O.M.V.
Camp at mouth of Applegate,
April 12th, 1856.
Major Bruce of Southern Battalion, O.M.V., will see that captains of companies parade their respective commands on the parade ground at 2 o'clock p.m. this day, that they may be inspected by the commanding officer, and that they receive such ammunition and other supplies as may be deemed necessary. Captains will see to it that their companies shall turn out in full, and that every man shall be present unless absent by special order. By order of
Brig. Gen. J. K. Lamerick,
At the appointed hour the companies were in line ready for inspection. Gen. Lamerick, followed closely by Sergeant Major Dawes, came out from his tent and going to the left of the battalion, instead of the right, stood for a few seconds as though wishing to give the boys a fair chance to cheer. Now, while he stands expectant, let me describe the valiant General. Probably some of those who read this have been honored by the acquaintance of this same General, and to them I appeal as vouchers for the correctness of the likeness. The General is, or was, an undersized man with a small head, forehead of ordinary size and somewhat sloping backward, which slope continued until it reached the bump of self-esteem, features somewhat on the Grecian style, dark and commonplace, eyes dark gray with, when in good humor, an inclination to twinkle, but which, when the General's body was in danger from the too-close proximity of the Indians' bullets, seemed to sink away off, as though revolving some deep and mighty plan for the speedy termination of the war. The General wore, at the time of which I speak, as the only insignia of his rank, a black felt hat which covered at the time a part of his face, and around his neck was wrapped a large red, white and gray comforter, the red largely predominating. As to his courage, I know but little. I only was near him in, or during, one engagement, and I assure all who wish for the assurance that at that time he was where the bullets were the thickest. I stood by his side part of the time and know whereof I speak; for I, as 1st Lieut. of Company E, was detailed with thirty men of my company to guard the train, at the battle of the Big Meadows, on which was packed all the spare ammunition belonging to the regiment. The General and I were, during most of the time, standing side by side, and I did not see him flinch; but, on the contrary, he expressed fervent hopes that the boys would whip the Indians.
The inspection went off with such eclat as the unkempt volunteers could command, and the day closed without further incident. At 4 o'clock the Sergt. Major stepped into the parade ground and read in a loud voice an order from the Commanding General that the battalion would start to the Big Meadows on the morning of the 14th. That morning having arrived, the tents were struck and a vanguard of one hundred men under the immediate command of Lieut. Col. Chapman with three scouts ahead under Capt. Billy Lewis took an early start, an hour or so ahead of the pack train, which next followed, while the rear was brought up by Maj. Bruce. This pack train was a long one whenever the trail became too narrow for the mules to go abreast. The long line of mules bearing heavy packs of short-handled shovels seemed to indicate that our commanders intended to go into the mining business, and many were the curses invoked upon their heads by the green ones of the command when told that the war was only a speculation of Gov. Curry and General Lamerick to get the boys down Rogue River and set them to work wing-damming the river in search of gold.
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, August 22, 1879, page 3
Conclusion of the Story of the Massacre at the Mouth of Rogue River
in the Early Part of the Year 1856.
The march was a quiet one, no firing allowed, and even the muleteers refrained from raising their usual loud and coarse Mexican epithets with which they at other times caressed their mules into a speedier gait. The march was through heavy timber the first few days, across deep, dark canyons and up long ridges, continually cheered by the monotonous ooh! ooh! ooh! of the grouse in the tops of the tall fir trees that covered the hills in all directions.
Now and then an unruly steer would break out of the band of beef cattle which was driven along for our subsistence, and come tearing along through the timber, followed by one or more of the men having them in charge, when it would be a race, neck and neck, till the steer would suddenly turn and [go] out of sight, and we never knew whether we had the pleasure afterwards of eating a choice steak cut from his shinbone or not. How many cattle started with the command only the quartermaster and his assistants knew, but one thing was certain, we got but very little beef to eat.
There seemed to be a new regulation adopted in regard to roll call. It was required of all commissioned officers as well as of privates to "fall in" and answer to their names when called by the orderly sergeants, thus premising that commissioned officers were liable to desert, thereby making it necessary to place them under the surveillance of the orderly sergeants who would not desert or be absent from their posts.
First camp was made on a small creek emptying into Rogue River. It was early and the Lieut. Col. called the officers to his bivouac and enjoined upon them the necessity of care in executing the duty each would be called upon to perform. The General had left us on the 13th to join Col. Kelsey at Grave Creek, therefore Lieut. Col. Chapman was anxious that nothing should befall us which might bring censure upon him, or disaster upon his command.
Lieut. O. listened attentively, and being at the time officer of the guard, felt that it was necessary for him to be on the alert, and see that the guards were equally vigilant. Stalking around in all the dignity of a master of the situation and of the guard, he approached one of the camp guards and asked him if he knew how to challenge. The sentinel straightened himself up and in an irritated and bullying tone of voice replied;
"Challenge, reckon I do, and if yer want ter fight jest say the word an' I'm yer man."
"You don't understand me, sir," and the last word was slightly emphasized. "I mean if, when you are on guard, any person approaches you after night do you know how to stop him and ascertain who he may be."
"Well," replied the guard, "what business is it of yourn whether I know or not, if you come foolin' around after dark I'll let you know how I'll stop yer."
This was too much for the promising young Lieut., and he began to rise a little higher when he told the belligerent guard that,
"I'm an officer of the guard, sir, and I'll punish you if you make any more such replies and threats."
"Officer of the guard, are yer, why didn't yer say so, then, not come like any fool would and begin to ask such questions."
The scene was enjoyed by the few who heard the conversation, but the Lieut. had enough of drilling a raw volunteer with such limited authority as the officers had over their men; for every man felt himself capable and willing to advise on any strategic points, and was pointedly averse to strict obedience to his officers unless he was first informed of the object of the order and it agreed with his own views.
The march was uninterrupted by any notable incidents until camp was made on Peavine Mountain, where the battalion lay in camp for several days awaiting orders from Col. Kelsey, and to recruit men and animals.
Capt. Mike Bushey was sent down Rogue River on a scout to discover signs of the Indians. He discovered signs, plenty of them, the story of which some pleasant writer for the Tidings told among its columns a few weeks ago. [See the issue of May 9, 1879, above.] The said writer owes me an apology for taking that nice little incident away from me; I wanted it to help fill up. I wanted to tell it myself. But there is another quite as satisfactory that he didn't tell, and I shall proceed to incorporate it for fear he takes that also away from me.
Col. Kelsey had started from Grave Creek with the Northern Battalion on the 14th and, by reason of the shortness of the distance between his point of departure and the Little Meadows on Rogue River, had reached that point by the time the Southern Battalion pitched camp at Peavine Mountain. Kelsey's scouts reported to him that the enemy was encamped in force on a large bar on Rogue River opposite the upper end of the Big Meadows, three miles below the Little Meadows. The Col., wishing to crush the power of the Indians at one blow, deemed that the best plan to accomplish that end would be to order Lieut. Col. Chapman to join him at the Little Meadows with his command, so as to make a combined and irresistible attack upon the enemy's stronghold. But how to get the order to Col. Chapman was a difficult problem to solve. The distance was only twelve miles, but the country, and more especially the trail between the two camps, was patrolled by the ever-vigilant enemy. He could not spare men from his command sufficient to fight their way through, as it was by no means certain that forces divided he would not fall an easy prey to the Indians who seemed to be well up to all of the movements of the volunteers, while their own were ever obscured from view. The turbulent river lay between the two camps, with no means of crossing it. Col. Chapman had two canvas boats, to be sure, but his camp was three or four miles from the river on the top of Peavine Mountain, and any attempt to call to him would bring down a swarm of savages upon the unlucky caller. The dispatch must be taken by one person, and that person must be well versed in the science of dodging Indians. After a short search for such a man the Col. had the satisfaction to find him in the person of Tom Moore, a young man who had spent the first years of his majority on the Pacific coast in search of gold and grizzly bear and fighting Indians.
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, August 29, 1879, page 3
What would Mr. Moore take to carry a dispatch to the camp of the Southern Battalion, queried the kindly disposed Colonel.
"Nothing but the dispatch and my revolver," replied the ready scout. A merry smile lurked in the eyes of the facetious Colonel (subsequently the respected judge of the 2nd Judicial District of Oregon). "I mean, how much must I pay you to carry the dispatch?"
"Not less than five hundred dollars. I would not risk my life for that amount of money, but I will take that as a bonus and risk my life for the public benefit."
"Say three hundred and you may consider yourself engaged."
"All right, when shall I start?"
"Tonight, or now, just as you please, but if you start in daylight you'll not get through."
"I'll start tonight then, as soon as it is dark and put the dispatch in Lieut. Col. Chapman's hands by 8 o'clock tomorrow morning."
CAMP AT LITTLE MEADOWS,
April 20, 1856.
Lieut. Col. W. W. Chapman,
You will break camp immediately upon receipt of this and repair with the Southern Battalion to the Little Meadows, where I am encamped. You will cross the river at the mouth of Whiskey Creek, keeping scouts ahead so that you can obtain as much knowledge of the enemy as will serve your purpose and aid in a general movement now in contemplation so soon as you reach these headquarters. You will not engage the enemy unless attacked, but will move with as much rapidity as possible.
John Kelsey,As soon as it became dark enough to conceal his movements Tom Moore left camp on foot, and as the wind had begun to blow and the clouds indicated rain, he took an oilcloth coat across his arm for better protection from the storm. Pulling his boots over the lower extremities of his pants and drawing his belt a little tighter, and adjusting his revolver, he left the Col.'s tent with the dispatch.
Col. Com'd'g 2nd Reg. O.M.V.
Instead of following the trail, he descended the steep mountainside until he reached the river, and followed up the bank of the stream as far as he could, or as [far as] the banks were clear of brush.
The clouds became more dense and threatening till at last rain began to descend, light at first but soon becoming a deluge which rendered the ground slippery and matted the already tangled thickets of brush so that locomotion was made more slow and painful. He must grope his way, sometimes on hands and knees, and seldom found an opportunity to walk in an unconstrained, upright position. Canyons, deep, dark as blackness, lined with brush and rocky declivities, descended from the ridge on his left, filled with foaming torrents, fed by the stream, which emptied into the river with a loud and continuous roar. For five or six miles he was compelled to climb ridge after ridge and then descend and ford, sometimes waist deep in the chilly torrents.
Before he had accomplished half the distance he felt himself weakening, but he struggled on. To return was more dangerous, and equally as difficult as to advance. He had not yet heard or seen any signs of Indians. Not thinking they would be out in such a night, he had cared but little to listen. But having heard what he thought was the parting of brush, and the quick, grating displacement of the sharp stones lying all over the ground, he stopped by the side of an overhanging tree and listened. No mistake, a number of persons [were] coming down the canyon from above him. Indians, of course, they must be, for none of the volunteers would be out in such a night. Standing by the side of the tree he could not be discovered, even at the distance of ten feet; neither could he discern the passersby, who seemed to him to be but little farther off. He was soon made aware of their identity by the few guttural words that he caught as they passed. They were Indian scouts returning to their companions and had come down the canyon from the trail, where they had no doubt been watching for some luckless traveler. He did not leave his position till the Indians were far out of hearing, and when he did begin his march it was with as much celerity as was possible in the pitchy darkness and wildly descending rain. About midnight he was relieved by coming unexpectedly to Whiskey Creek, the point where he intended to attempt the crossing of Rogue River. He knew that a few weeks before there was an old canoe lying on the bank of the river just below the mouth of the creek, which had been made out of a pine tree years before by a party of prospectors, and been used by succeeding ones, or anyone who chanced to pass that way. For hours he groped up and down the bank of the river in the darkness, in search of the canoe, but was at last forced to give it up. He must get across the river before daylight if possible, as after that time he might at any moment become the target of some lurking band of Indians. His only chance now was to make a raft, and he had no axe or hatchet, nothing but his sheath knife with which to cut timbers for it. Luckily, while searching for the canoe he had seen some small drift logs lying in the water's edge some distance below. The rain had now ceased and it was very cold, and ice had begun to thicken on brush and trees. Laying his oilcloth coat aside, he groped his way down in search of the coveted logs which were to construct his raft. Soon reaching the spot where they lay, he carried them one by one up to near the mouth of the creek, at a point on the river which he knew was the safest for his meditated crossing. The water at this spot was less swift than above or below, but a large rock raised its head near the middle of the channel. This rock was his only fear, as he had crossed the same river in other times on a poorer raft than he could construct with the material on hand. Cutting some small poles with his knife he proceeded to twist them into withes with which he succeeded, after some difficulty, in binding the logs together. Then cutting a long stout pole with which to both steer and propel his unsteady craft, he launched it upon the water and a vigorous shove with the pole sent it out into the stream. The current was swift and strong, and the raft rolled uneasily as it shot rapidly down the river. By the faint gleams of daylight he saw immediately below him, and upon which he deemed destined to strike, the huge rock, with the water foaming and leaping around its jagged and ominous head. Vigorously he plied his pole, but to no purpose. With headlong speed the raft struck endwise upon the rock and Tom went headlong over the raft; keeping his presence of mind he seized the rock with one hand and climbed to the top, which was only about eighteen inches above the water, and with exertion held the raft until he could step on it again. Launching it again on the current, he was carried a half mile downstream before he could make a landing.
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, September 5, 1879, page 3
Wrapping his coat close around and over his dripping clothes, Moore made the ascent of the mountain to the camp of the Southern Battalion, which he reached about 6 o'clock that morning, before the hour he had promised to have the dispatch in the hand of Lieut. Col. Chapman.
As soon as the dispatch had been read and its news spread throughout the camp, all was stir and activity. The herders and packers were sent out to drive in the stock preparatory to making the start for the Little Meadows. But [as] Capt. Bushey's men had not all arrived yet from their notable scout, it would not do to leave camp without making an effort for their relief. But where they scattered, no one knew whither. The order to bring up the stock was countermanded, and the commander determined not to move until the next morning, thus giving the missing ones one more day in which to make their appearance. Before night they all came in.
On the following morning tents were struck, a vanguard started ahead, and soon a long line of pack mules set out to descend the steep mountain to the river's bank opposite the only feasible crossing--at Whiskey Creek. The two canvas boats were unpacked and speedily put together. Let me, reader, describe these peculiar boats; there may be a large number of the readers of the Tidings who never saw nor before heard of a canvas boat. They are of frontier origin and, I believe, originated in the brain of some army officer stationed on the Oregon coast. They are not in use now; they as suddenly disappeared from field operations as they entered it. They were not the thing to cross a river in in the face of the enemy, for two or three ordinary bullets would let in enough water in ten seconds to swamp one, while if by chance one of them should pass over a sharp pointed rock its doom as well as that of the inmates would be sealed. They are good enough in smooth water and where there are no bullets or other missiles to penetrate them. A framework of wood composed of a long piece to extend along the top of each side, with similar ones on the ends, put together at the corners with screws; these pieces hold the top of the canoes in place. Around the bottom, 24 inches below the top pieces, extend similar ones. These are fastened to the upper pieces by means of uprights 36 inches apart, gained or halved into the upper and lower ones and fastened with screws. Across the bottom, 36 inches apart, connected with the uprights where they join the strip around the bottom, extend 2x3-inch thwarts, over which are placed light boards to stand upon. Around the outside of this frame is stretched thick canvas so tightly that water does not enter except a little that only moistens the cloth very slightly. Both ends, sides and bottom are square.
It was 11 o'clock in the forenoon when the boats were made ready for use. From five to seven men were all that could safely stand in each boat, and before all the men and packs were across it was dark--and the nights at that time were extremely dark.
That day the writer was detailed with thirty men of his company to guard the rear of the pack train, and of course brought up the rear of the command. Camp was to be made three or four miles up on the level of the ridge, and the vanguard were there early in the day, but when the last mule and man left the bank of the river and began the ascent of the mountain darkness was so intense that we were often out of the trail, and could only follow it by feeling. After ascending the rocky backbone of the ridge for a mile or so, thick brush began to be encountered on each hand, through which the trail had been cut in former years. The rear guard plodded up slowly and with difficulty, enlivened occasionally by some Sancho Panza-like voice calling out: "Oh! Boys, where are ye?" and then the lost one could be heard rattling amongst the loose stones, or wriggling among the brush in his efforts to move in the direction of the answering call, "Here! Come along!"
Suddenly the blaze of a hundred camp fires burst upon the view as the guard raised the top of the last eminence; a hundred axes were busy chopping at the pine trees, felling them for wood, and every mule, it seemed, in the long train raised his voice in gladness when he found that his day's travel and toil was over. The effect was indescribably encouraging. A weird scene, but viewed for the first time it would make an abiding impression on even an unimaginative mind.
"Where is our company camped? Where is the camp of Company E?" were the questions asked of all whom the light of the numerous camp fires revealed to the anxious view of the hungry men--nothing to eat since morning, and not accustomed to such fasting, their eyes glared hungrily at the pile of flapjacks occasionally seen before the fire of some lucky one who had been in camp long enough to have advanced that far in his culinary duties. At last the company's camp was found and all trouble was soon drowned in the delights of a cup of strong coffee and a feast upon that old-fashioned kind of miner's bread, made of flour, cold water and salt.
After satisfying a prodigious appetite, the writer in wandering around camp until the headquarters tent was reached learned that on that day at about the time the first boatload of men crossed the river they were met on the bank by a man named Wagner, who had started the day before from Grave Creek accompanied by a Mr. Harkness, intending to go to Col. Kelsey's camp at Little Meadows. While moving along the trail about six miles below Whiskey Creek they were fired upon by the Indians, and Harkness fell from his horse shot dead. Wagner received a slight wound but, turning back, succeeded in reaching a point in the trail on the ridge above the creek where he was gratified to see Chapman's command marching down the hill to the crossing of the river. Hiding himself so that he might not be observed by any of the numerous parties of Indians that were known to be traversing the country, he awaited the crossing of the first load of men and then came out and made himself known.
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, September 12, 1879, page 3
The next morning the command was in motion at an early hour, but with such a large following of pack trains and beef cattle it was ten o'clock before the last man left camp. A few miles from camp the vanguard came upon the body of Harkness lying on the side of the trail. A light snow had fallen and covered it with a shroud of purest white. The Indians had not only scalped the head but had perpetrated the most horrid butchery that one could conceive of. Their fiendish work was horrible to contemplate. The body had been cut and slashed in every part, as though the devilish savages could not satisfy their vengeance and hate with torturing the clay while the spirit remained. Carefully the mutilated form was taken up and carried upon a mule to the Little Meadows, where it was buried with military honors. After the grave had been filled a large log heap was made upon it and burned to ashes, as though a camp fire had been made on the spot, that the Indians might not suspect it was a grave and dig up the body, as was their usual custom.
At an early hour of the day the Southern Battalion had joined the Northern in camp at the Little Meadows. The camp was on an upper bench of the Meadows, overlooking the river, two miles away and one thousand feet below. Before the first camp was made, large pine trees formed a beautiful grove over the whole bench and for a distance below towards the driver. Relays of men were set to work felling the trees and forming a breastwork around a space of ground sufficiently extensive to contain the encampment of seven hundred men. The limbs served as fuel, while the trunks made an impenetrable barrier against bullets or a sudden attack by the Indians. Water and grass were abundant and of the best quality. A finer place for a military camp was not to be found in that section of country, and it was decided to make the camp permanent until such time as a final move should be made. The Indians were encamped on a large flat or bar three miles below on the opposite side of the river, and daily a scout would start out, to return at almost the same hour in the afternoon, which gave grounds for the suspicion that they only went far enough from camp to avoid observation, and there remained the rest of the day, and at or near the same hour would return with the stereotyped report: "Indians on the bar three miles below, some sign on this side but can't tell which way they intend to move. Think we'll find out more next time."
Thus days passed and no advance was made against the enemy. Leisure in camp was becoming irksome, and complaints soon were heard of the inactivity.
It now became necessary to begin to kindle the patriotic fires that should have been burning, but were thought by the commanders to have become extinct in the breasts of the grayback-covered volunteers. For that purpose word went out one fine afternoon that Gen. Lamerick would address them at a certain hour, and close attention was invited to the stirring and highly elevating remarks which were promised. The hour arrived and an object was seen to climb the bark of a huge pine stump and presently balance itself on the top. It was the General, no mistaking the flaming red comforter which fluttered and swayed around the laurel-crowned brow of that thrice-gallant commander. For a few minutes he held the attention of the motley crowd of volunteers who found it convenient to listen to the harangue, when he was followed by the genial and respected Colonel, who was loudly cheered by the boys for his somewhat extravagant but kindly remarks.
"I will lead you, my brave boys, to the fastnesses of the enemy and by the grace of God and our own strong arms we'll subdue the savage horde who are devastating our frontier. I will stand in the bow of the first boat when we cross the river to attack the enemy. I will stand upright as a figurehead in the first boat, and if my frail body shall be capable of shielding my brave followers from the enemy's fire that shield stall stand up as a mark for the enemy's bullets as freely as I now stand on the top of this stump." Cheer followed cheer for the brave Colonel, and he stepped from the stump to give place to Lieut. Col. W. W. Chapman, who soon vacated the now well-scratched platform to give place to Maj. Bruce and others who chose to follow.
Two or three days were spent in similar exercises, when a detachment under Major Bruce of one hundred and fifty men was sent out to feel of, but not to engage, the enemy unless attacked. The detachment was composed of the companies of Captains Wilkinson, O'Neil and W. W. Williams.
The morning was quite warm, and the rays of the sun, reflected by the many rocks, admonished the boys that the day would be still warmer; in consequence most of the boys stripped themselves of all superfluous clothing. In shirt and pants, with the ever-necessary bullet pouch and powder horn, with rifles trailed, the detachment slowly ascended the long slope of the hill which rose in rear of the camp till they reached the ridge. A line of oak and pine timber indicated the beginning of the descent, which was into a deep, dark canyon, thickly set with large boulders and stiff, scraggy brush. As soon as the irregular mass of men had reached the ridge they formed in line, the three companies abreast and with Major Bruce in the center, began the abrupt descent.
It was the intention to cross this deep gulch, and from the level plateau on the other side they expected to obtain a clear view of the Indian camp on the opposite side of the river. Slowly the descent was made. Swinging from shrub to shrub, the men let themselves down. Occasionally a hold would break, when an unfortunate volunteer would be seen to shoot quickly out of sight down the declivity, to bring suddenly up against a sharp boulder, or lodge in the branches of a tree.
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, September 19, 1879, page 3
A fierce storm of sleet and hail now came on, which lasted a half-hour then dwindled to a snowstorm, which soon covered the ground and treetops. The boys, who had left their coats in camp, were in a sorry fix, and would have been glad of an opportunity to engage in a skirmish with the Indians to keep the blood in circulation.
They did not wait long before an opportunity was offered. Directly in front of the command and a half-mile away ran a deep, burly creek, on each side of which was an open, grassy ground. On the opposite side of this creek, and in plain view of the volunteers, a band of Indians were seen to collect and form a line similar to, and parallel with them, and about equal in numbers.
Their leader stepped to the front of his men and harangued them in true Indian style. His style was of the active kind, one foot high in the air, then as it descended the other went up. As the boys stood looking at the edifying spectacle, some facetious one asked the Major if he would give them an imitation. The Major gravely declined, but said he would like to lead the boys against the Indians, but his orders would not permit it.
This was received with a murmur of dissatisfaction, as all were priming themselves on having a shot at them. Open remonstrance was of no avail. The Major would obey orders, and the men were constrained to submit. But it was with an ill grace, and many ungraceful epithets were bestowed on the Major, but in tones that he probably did not hear. Some time was consumed in studying the position of the Indian encampment on the river bar. A large spyglass passed from eye to eye, and universal knowledge was thus obtained of the situation. The Major reluctantly gave the order to return, the Indians still in front in battle array and sending loud, jeering banters to the volunteers, yet orders in time of war must be obeyed, and the Major was a good soldier.
Amidst the still-falling snow the column turned towards camp. Slinking and crouching to avoid the falling snow, which seemed to fall with unerring precision from the trees and brush down the back of their necks, the men returned dissatisfied to camp, and it required several speeches by the Colonel and others to bring them back to a due respect for the military genius of their commanders.
A council of war was held, from which all officers below the rank of Captain were excluded. The main point to be decided was whether to cross the river in a body in face of the bar on which the Indians were encamped, or to send a force over the river three miles above them, who should come down upon the Indians when the attacking party were ready for an assault in the front. The conclusion was reached that it would be just the thing to cross a force opposite them, who should come down upon the Indians when the attacking party were ready for an assault in the front. The conclusion was reached that it would be just the thing to cross a force opposite camp, and consummate the attack as stated above. Which battalion should cross above? The Southern, because its men and leaders were more familiar with the ground, and were possessed of the boats. The Northern, because it was the post of honor, the most dangerous. At last the smiling and courteous Colonel designated the Southern Battalion as the one [to] cross. The Major was averse, and so were most of his officers to undertaking the crossing in the canvas boats, and the men actually declared openly that they would not undertake it. Why did they not continue down the river from Peavine Mountain and thus act in conjunction with Col. Kelsey?
To attempt to cross the deep, wide and rapid river in two canvas boats that two or three Indians could sink by a few shots was, to the stupid men, actually dangerous. They even said that in case a boatload or two of men should cross unmolested, and the Indians should find them out and by a very few well-directed shots sink the boats or render them useless, that the few men who had crossed would be in extreme danger of utter destruction. And as for the Colonel standing in the prow of the leading boat as a figurehead, they didn't believe he'd do it. So the plan was abandoned, when the Major, after consulting with his officers, and hearing the reasoning of the men, said emphatically, "I'll be d----d if I will cross."
Indians were occasionally seen in the neighborhood of camp, and it might be possible that they intended an attack. Picket guards were strengthened, and at night those at the camp were doubled and enjoined to be ever vigilant.
One day at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon a rapid firing was heard on the hill near the trail leading from Grave Creek. It was the pickets, for the answering shots extended nearly around the circle. The boys seized their arms and darted off, some of them without orders or officers. The more cautious ones remained to be called out. But little stir was noticed in camp among the commanders, although a shot was now and then heard at different points. The few energetic men who had sallied out to ascertain the cause of the alarm were informed by a picket they met that Indians were prowling around, and he thought an attack was intended. After searching through the timber and examining the many patches of brush without finding anything of the enemy except numerous tracks, they returned to camp, and did not fail in many instances to inform the dilatory ones in camp that in case of an actual attack, "We must do all the fighting."
For a few days and nights storm after storm swept over the country, rendering scouting and traveling extremely difficult, while the Indians made it dangerous. Consequently nothing could be done but remain in camp.
One day, the storm blew louder and fiercer than usual. The night came on with no abatement. The clouds circled and wreathed closely overhead with that portentous humming sound which goes before all hurricanes. For a brief space the rain would descend in huge torrents, deluging the ground several inches deep with water in a few minutes, which, luckily, would rapidly run off down the hill, leaving deep tracks in all parts of the camp ground. Hail descended at intervals with tremendous force and in huge quantities.
The compact rows of tents were, in most instances, made to hug the ground, while the loose parts and ropes of the more exposed would whip and crack in mad frenzy. The inmates were lying in continued apprehension while the storm raged without, the lightning illuminating the scene and the thunder echoing and reverberating among the high hills and deep canyons of the neighborhood. A lull in the war of the elements was followed by the rapid firing of the camp guards, while some of the picket guards, thinking that they ought to give information from their edge of the circle, fired in concert. No mistake this time, the enemy were about to charge the camp. All hands must now man the breastworks. The voices of the captains and lieutenants were heard calling their men from their tents to form behind the defenses and repel the attacking Indians. Success in bringing the men from their comparatively snug quarters under the tents was only partial, still enough were aroused to answer the purpose until the enemy became more numerous and were pressing closer.
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, September 26, 1879, page 3
For a short time all was confusion, men and officers were mixed up in very unmilitary style. In one particular instance an officer left his own line of tents and ran to that of a brother Captain and began rallying his own men; when told that he was in the wrong locality he good-humoredly inquired, "Where are my tents then?" When informed, he departed, saying, "'tis extremely dark. Thought I was in the right place." Major ------, who had lost his reckoning, came plowing through the lines of tents calling in a loud, tremulous key for Capt. O'-----. When that officer answered him and lured him to his line of tents, the doughty Major felt himself an equal match for all the Indians in the country.
But no enemy appeared. The wet, shivering, and gladly disappointed boys crawled back under the cover of their unsteady tents to snore away the few remaining hours of the night, and dream, perhaps, of bloody scalps and whizzing tomahawks, and in their troubled sleep listen to that terrible, though never heard, "war whoop."
The next morning dawned, dark, cold and blustery. No one stirred out but the grim and reluctant guard. In the afternoon a little sunshine, and the snow and sleet which slightly covered the ground soon melted away, and mud and running water prevented any outdoor exercise. The little city of white tents, in exact and extended rows, seemed deserted and silent, save now and then an anxious cook could be seen vainly endeavoring to kindle a refractory fire, and pouring, in his choice vocabulary, a string of hot blessings on the unconscious and dripping logs.
At 12 o'clock at night Col. Kelsey was up and went to many of the tents in the Northern Battalion, and awakened the inmates and hurried them out, all except the mess cooks, and giving them only time to eat a little cold bread and meat, or such other cooked food as they might have provided in the evening, he hurried them out and on to the trail leading down the river and across a very deep and brushy canyon.
Leaving all in camp except their guns and a supply of ammunition, some with shovels, some with axes, they began their march. Preceded by Captains Lewis and ------, with their scouts, they slowly and silently in the darkness wound along the trail in single file. Coming out, about half a mile from camp, on to a level piece of ground overlooking the river below and from which could, in daylight be seen the encampment of Indians, and from which for several days the boys had watched the Indians and listened to their defiant yells, the Col. halted his men and stationed sufficient guards to prevent surprise.
A detail of men with axes and shovels were set at work cutting a trail down the steep side of the gulch which ran along on the west side of the flat mentioned above, to the bottom, or bed of the gulch, sufficiently wide to drive down the pack train and beef cattle. As soon as a hundred yards or so had been completed, the Colonel started his men down, keeping them after that close up to them to prevent their being attacked by the Indians should there be any stirring around so early. Slowly they worked in the dark, and many were the mishaps befalling the men while working in the darkness. The Col. was up and down the line of workingmen, taking a hand often to encourage the men to renewed exertions. Dark--no talking, no noise but the steady chipping of the axes, or the dull scraping of the shovels, as they dug the trail where necessary. The descent was at last accomplished and the escort begun. Should the Indians have known it and improved their opportunity, they could have hurled that band of road makers from their steep zigzag trail to the bottom of the gulch and sustained themselves no damage.
Nearing the summit of the gulch bank, daylight began to send its tokens of gray to hurry up the now greatly fatigued men. They must be in front of the Indian encampment before daylight so as to be able to secure a good position for an assault. The river lay between them, the attacked and the attacking party, but what of that, two hundred yards is a safe distance to stand from an enemy armed with old-fashioned guns.
The summit is reached at last. Some of the scouts have returned and reported all quiet below at the enemy's camp.
"Come, boys, hurry up, our road is clear now, we must travel fast, we must strike the enemy unaware and avenge our slaughtered friends," and the Col hurried to the front, and by twos the men began their march, divested of shovels and axes which they piled by the side of the trail to be picked up by the pack train when it should come after.
A mile and a half and they were in front of the enemy. The Indians' tents began to show plainly across the river two hundred yards away. The Col. ordered his men to withhold their fire till he gave the signal. He placed his men, three hundred strong, in a line fronting the encampment of the Indians; each man placing himself behind a tree, of which there were plenty, awaited anxiously for the signal from their leader.
About fifty men had slid down the bank and secreted themselves in the brush and behind the large boulders that lined the bank of the river at the water's edge. It was now broad daylight. A few men, wishing to change their positions, hurried from their coverts and rushed further down the river. Their movements were seen by the old story, the Indian dogs, who gave loud and angry barks and snarls.
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, October 3, 1879, page 3
[The Attack at Battle Bar.]
An Indian came out and looked across where the volunteers were secreted. Intently gazing for a moment, he set up a howl, or ki-yi, and instantly the bar in front of the tents was covered with a mass of Indians, who came out to see what was to be seen. The boys could wait no longer--why did not the Col. give the signal? At last a rifle rang out clear on the still morning air, and three hundred more followed instantaneously and the dark mass of Indians reeled and swayed. Those in front vainly endeavored to retrace their steps, but the augmenting numbers from the tents and brush shanties crowded them still further towards the now-incessant and deadly shower of bullets poured into the writhing mass of unfortunates.
Screams, cries, shouts and yells gave token that the accursed "Bostons" were doing splendid work with their rifles. Those in the rear soon took a backward turn and the living current soon poured from the bar back into the brush, past the tents, beyond the brush houses, up the hill and lodged behind the tall pine and fir trees which lined the bluff back of the bar.
Still the deadly rifles continued the deadly fusillade. Shortly the Indians began to return the fire with vigor, and now we will leave the brave Kelsey and his equally eager men exchanging rapid and continued shots with the Indians, and return to the Southern Battalion in camp.
Two hours before daylight--the guards aroused the camp, and in a few minutes the camp fires were sending their long bright flashes far out into the gloom. As soon as the men were out of their blankets they rolled them up, took down the tents and by the time the cook had the morning meal of bread, coffee and meat the tents were ready for the packers. Hastily eating their breakfast, the men fell into companies and by the time daylight had fairly spread over the landscape were far down on the trail towards the Indian encampment, and were listening to the noise of battle while they hurried along, eager to join in the excitement of the melee.
A little after daylight the pack trains left camp on their way to the scene of the conflict and to another camp. The way was steep, and some of the mules and packs would go on rolling and tumbling down the steep descent until they brought up against a tree or huge boulder and then gather a fresh start and perhaps repeat the same performance. A struggling, sliding, rolling mass [until] they reached the bottom of the canyon. Several horses were seriously injured and one killed. The General remained with the rear guard, and taking a seat on a large stone by the side of the trail had a clear view of the battlefield which with his long spyglass he constantly viewed, from his lofty station, five hundred feet above and a mile away from the battlefield. His men he saw constantly moving from point to point. The continuous rattle of firearms made his eyes light up with grand military frenzy, his eyes showed the burning fires of strategic genius as they glanced through that well-worn spyglass. Words of chagrin would now and then find vent from between his clenched teeth, "If I only were there. If I could only pass this cursedly slow train, Lieutenant, why don't the train move faster? Give it to 'em, boys, you can lick 'em; Lieutenant, do you think I can pass the train soon?"
The train at last makes the crossing of the canyon, and the General's way is clear. He advances to the high ground a half mile from the still-raging storm of battle and surveys again the smoky scene. It was now about 9 o'clock and the fire was slackening, but from across the river defiant yells, more numerous than rifle shots, still came from the hostile band of Indians. At 10 o'clock, the bloody battle was ended and before 11 o'clock, the pack trains and beef cattle were all brought up and were feeding on the luxuriant grass growing amongst the timber, while the men spread upon the ground or stood leaning against the trees recounting to each other how "I drawd a bead on a Injun that was running right over there--do you see that tree--and I whaled away just as he got to that 'air--do you see that rock over there by that 'air bunch of brush--and he keeled over like a shot deer." Thus an hour passed in conversation among the men, in friendly rivalry as to which one of them had done the most execution. Officers, too, were not lacking in that quality of self-adulation; they as individual combatants had done much slaughter.
The volunteers remained on the ground until about 2 o'clock, p.m., when the General ordered a forward movement to form camp about two miles away, over the ridge and out of sight of the Indian encampment, where yet remained the tents, and where remained all the property in their possession.
"Why don't we camp here? What is the use of going over the hill and leaving those tents and things over there? The Indians will come back and get 'em; they'll think we're a set of doggoned cowards. Wish I was general; I'd clean out the doggoned things 'fore I left 'ere."
The whole command was averse to leaving such a splendid camp ground, and where they could watch the Indians besides. They thought that by going away and making a camp out of reach of the bar that they would thus throw away all fruits of their hard-fought battle. As there was but one General, his commands were final, and the little army began its march up the side of the long, gentle slope, among grass a knee high, and past clear, cold, running brooks.
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, October 10, 1879, page 3
The sky was overcast, portentous of a bad night. Before the van had passed over half the distance a heavy snowstorm set in with great violence. Still the tired and hungry men were compelled to trudge on up the hill, which now became more abrupt and obstructed. Many would have camped, but their camp equipage, tents, etc. were on the train, and that was by this time near the selected camp, far ahead. The snow continued to fall and darkness came on before all the men came into camp. Long after it was quite dark, straggling bands of men would come in, after having for hours vainly sought for their comrades and for the camp to which they had been directed by the commanding officer, but that officer had changed his mind after reaching the camp grounds first indicated and had ordered a move to another spot still further on, hence the delay and confusion attending the march for the camp.
Lieut. C------ had been left with thirty men on the bank of the river opposite the Indians' tents to watch them and prevent their being taken away by night by the Indians. He remained, but reluctantly. He could get no nearer than one hundred and fifty yards to the bar, and the deep, rapid river intervening, the night dark, and a heavy snowstorm raging, what could he do? The Indians could take their property, and Lieut. C------ could not see them. The men chafed at the situation, but there was no help for them, they must stay through the night. So they seated themselves as comfortably as possible behind trees, rocks and brush to wear away the hours till midnight, when a relief and lunch would come. About 11 o'clock, when the darkness was intense, the men heard someone stealthily approaching. Lieut. C-----, who was on the lower side of the guard, and in a line with the approaching footsteps, raised up suddenly when the sounds had approached to within ten feet of where he had been sitting, and was on the point of challenging the unknown one, when he as well as his men were startled by the challenge coming from the other party in the Indian dialect. Darkness and silence has a tendency to increase nervous anxiety, and the men, upon hearing the Indian challenge, felt at first like flight, but the next instant rushed in the direction of the intruder and called out to one another, "Kill him! Who is he? Take him alive! Shoot him!" But the Indian did not remain long enough for them to put any of their wishes into execution. He fled swiftly down the hill to the bar where the Indian boats were seen, during the day, to be tied. Calling to his friends in a voice peculiar to them, as soon as he had approached the water's edge, he turned toward where the men were stationed and fired a shot in that direction, as in defiance, while he kept up a peculiar yell, apparently telling his friends of his situation and calling on them to come to his rescue. Their paddles were plainly heard as they came swiftly across after their companion, and at the same time shots were fired from the canoes towards Lieut. C------ and his men, who were rushing down the bank toward the spot where they thought that the canoes would be landed. In the darkness and through the brush, the boys made little headway, and before they reached the river the stray Indian had jumped into the foremost canoe and was making good time across the river and out of danger. The men fired a farewell salute in the direction of the canoes and returned disappointed to their station. The venturesome Indian was supposed to be one who had come in from a tramp, and had got the two camps mixed in his mind.
No relief party being sent to them, Lieut. C------, thinking that there would be none, and also believing that if he should become engaged with the Indians he could not receive aid, no matter how badly he might need it, he determined to abandon his post and climb the mountain in the direction in which he supposed the camp to be. When about halfway up the hill they were met by six men who had been sent with orders to Lieut. C------ to abandon the watch and come to camp.
For two days the men remained in camp, with an occasional scout down the river toward Jackass Creek, and one back to the battleground of the day before, when the Indians were seen to depart from their camp and climb the mountain back of the bar and disappear in the brush and timber. No other signs of Indians were seen, and on the third day the entire command was moved back to the battleground where they were formed in double lines on the bank of the river bluff and ordered to be in readiness to fire on the enemy if they should make an appearance. As soon as all was ready the two canvas boats were unpacked, put together, and launched on the river.
Capt. Billy Lewis and his company of scouts composed of, besides himself, 1st Lieut. Allen Evans and 2nd Lieut. ------ Evans, brother of Allen Evans, embarked, and cautiously and slowly rowed across the river. Disembarking on the lower bank of the river, they hesitatingly and slowly climbed up onto the bar. No Indians, no noise, no sign whatever; the valorous company of three scouts began circulating around the bar, going from place to place like three overgrown calves in a strange barnyard. The boats were soon plying across the river and in a few hours men and supplies were safely ferried over, and the field was won.
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, October 17, 1879, page 3
The men started off, each on his own account, on an exploring tour around the bar. Seven scalps of white men were found, some of them were hanging on a tree, some on the ground. There were plenty of persons who knew from what unfortunate individual each scalp had been taken. A few pieces of alaqua chick (Indian money) and some pieces of Chinese money, besides buttons, shells and some other useless articles were picked up. A good rifle was found standing against a tree, at the end of a track which seemed to have been trod by a sentinel, who had set down his gun and forgotten to pick it up again. The front and greater part of the bar was clear of brush, but the back and lower end was thickly covered with matted brush and slender young trees, interspersed with a few large fir and pine trees. Paths had been cut through this brushy undergrowth, and huts had been built of fir boughs, in which the Indians had been living. Bunks, or beds, somewhat after the style of those of the whites, had been made in these huts, on some of which food was found, while a few, and one in particular, was completely drenched with blood, as though the wounded had been carried from the bar while the volunteers were firing on them in the morning, and placed on these couches, and one or two had evidently died there on the floor, and bunks were strewn with the hair cut from their heads. This is always done by some Indians when any one of their friends or relatives die.
While camped here on the bar the term of enlistment of several companies (three months) expired and, accompanied by the Colonel, they returned to Grave Creek and were discharged. The Colonel did not return to the Big Meadows, but kept on, after leaving Grave Creek, till he arrived at Roseburg, where, it is to be presumed, he did good service for the military in good old-fashioned electioneering for a civil office, as the constitution of Oregon had just gone into effect and there was a general state election the following June. [On April 7, 1856 Oregonians voted to hold a constitutional convention and form a state government.]
The General took immediate command of the regiment and in a few days started down the river in search of hostiles, who, it was well known, were at the Big Bend, forty miles below. While the General is on his march down there, we will go back and bring up Captains Ord and Jones, whom we left in camp between Chetco River and the mouth of Rogue River.
We will also, in the first place, follow Captain A. J. Smith, with a company of dragoons from Fort Lane, near Jacksonville, down Rogue River to the Big Bend, which will be preliminary to the march of Ord and Jones up the river and of Lamerick down. The meeting of all these forces culminates in the defeat of the Indians, and puts an end to the Rogue River war of 1856, and forever.
Early in March 1856, Captain Smith, with his dragoons, left Fort Lane and proceeded down Rogue River in search of hostiles. It was not his intention to bring the war to a close by fighting the Indians, but he intended, as did all the other army officers who figured on this coast in the various Indian wars, to accomplish that much-desired end by making a treaty with the Indians, whereby it would become the duty of the United States to feed and clothe them until such time as they should become sufficiently recruited to again begin the usual murder and pillage of the white settlers. This thing had been done again and again, until the Indians of Oregon thought and had boastingly said that the soldiers were here for them to scare, and then get paid for it.
"Soldiers! They are nothing; we'll shoot and kill a few, then the others will run away. Presently their chief will send someone to us with good talk, telling us that the soldiers like us, and that they did not come here to fight us, but to make the whites behave themselves, and that if we will be good again and not kill any more of them the big chief away off towards the rising sun will call us his good children and will give us a great many good things--guns and ammunition, blankets, food, beads, paint, and a great many other nice things. So, we'll be good and laugh and talk with the soldiers and white men until our things get old, then we'll talk angry again; if the soldiers come to us we'll make them run away again and presently they'll send us a great many icta ["things"] again."
The Indians thought and believed that the soldiers were a different people from the settlers and miners. The latter they respected as good fighters and as good men generally, while the soldiers only excited their scorn and laughter. A soldier was of such little force and bravery in their estimation that the name "soldier" was applied to one another as an epithet of reproach and contempt.
Engaging Jimmy Dobson with his large pack train to transport his supplies, the Captain left Fort Lane and began his march for the lower Rogue River. Instead of going directly down the river from the mouth of Applegate, he kept on up Slate Creek to Hay's ranch (now Thornton's) from thence to Illinois River. Down this he marched to its confluence with Rogue, and down Rogue River for a few miles, when he encamped at the mouth of a small creek.
It was not long before his camp was visited by a few old Indian hags for the ostensible purpose of begging something to eat, but really, though Capt. Smith was slow to see it, for no other purpose than to spy out his camp and find the number of his troops preliminary to their attacking him and securing his extensive stock of supplies, which they felt confident of doing unless he was accompanied by a force of volunteers. Lieut. Sweitzer and Quartermaster Fowler, who were of his force, urged the Captain to retain the old squaws until he had moved his camp to a more defensible locality. Reluctantly he agreed to the proposition, and next morning moved to the Big Bend a few miles farther down the river. Here he encamped on the wide bottom of a creek which close by emptied into Rogue River.
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, October 24, 1879, page 3
On one side of the camp was a ridge, heavily timbered and destitute of water; on the other side was a dense mass of small trees and undergrowth. Pitching camp on the bottom overlooked by the ridge, and close to the dense undergrowth, the captain gave the old squaws presents and food and sent them away to the Indian camp with nice words of love to the old chief and his band--that the chief of the soldiers wished to talk with them, and if the said old chief would come to camp he would be well treated and fed.
The next day Old John and some others came to Smith's camp to engage in the promised pow-wow, and learn what chance of success there would be for an attack.
Much as the Captain desired a peaceful adjustment of the difficulties, and he would sacrifice much except his personal honor, he soon saw that nothing but blood would satisfy the savage and reckless old chief, and did not offer as much as he had at first intended. The piratical Old John was indifferent as to whether or not he made friends with the soldiers. He did not hate them much, because he could whip them easily and as often as he wanted to, but the "Boston men" he detested, and would not without an immense payment make friends with them. If the "Bostons" would leave the country the soldiers and Chinamen might stay, and as long as they gave food and clothing to the Indians they would not be molested. This was his ultimatum given much in the style that one boy uses toward another when about to finish a war of words--"Take that and if you say another word I'll lick you."
The Captain saw nothing in it but the impulsive bravery of a much-abused Indian, and mildly told him that he would do all that was his right, and all that lay in his power, to satisfy him and relieve the Indian from the encroachments of the whites, but disclaimed all protection of the Chinamen. Old John was indifferent, while his companions grunted their approval of all that he said. Vainly the Captain endeavored to make a friendly impression on the much-abused chief, but it was of no use. The white man must leave, or Old John and his band would never leave the field till the last man of them had offered himself up on the altar of his country. The Indians departed, and to the suggestions of the officers to prepare for another attack, the Captain only replied that he would move to the ridge and there await the arrival of Captains Ord and Jones.
That evening camp was pitched upon the ridge, but no defenses begun, as the Captain did not believe an attack would be made. Lieut. Sweitzer was of a different opinion and believed that the Indians meant to attack them, but being a good soldier was willing to be guided by the superior authority of the Captain. The night passed without any alarm. At noon the next day a few Indians made their appearance on the ridge above camp and called for Capt. Smith to come out and talk with them. The Captain saw the point and would not go. A few minutes after his emphatic refusal to go out the woods was filled with yelling Indians rushing towards the camp.
We must now go back to Captains Ord and Jones and bring them up to the scene of the attack by the Indians on Capt. Smith at the Big Bend. Those officers had remained in their camp between Pistol River and Rogue River to recruit their animals and to further chastise the Indians if any could be found.
The volunteers under Captain Abbott had been for some time at the mouth of Rogue River, whither they had been sent by Captain Ord to strengthen the forces at the mouth of the river. Scouting parties had been sent out by Abbott, who was now chief officer at the mouth of the river, to ascertain the locality of the Indians and if possible find traces of Mrs. Geisel, the capture of whom and her children has been detailed in the story of the massacre of the settlers at the mouth of the river.
Charley Foster, an old miner and mountaineer, was, with four others, sent up the river towards Big Bend, where it was supposed the Indians were mostly congregated. They traveled after night slowly and noiselessly along the only trail. During the day they lay close in some secluded place off from the trail, yet near enough to hear anyone who might pass.
Late one afternoon, while lying concealed under some dense undergrowth, they heard Indians. One of the men, a Russian by birth named Charles Brown, now living near Crescent City, began to crawl out from his hiding place, saying at the same time that he intended to see who it was, for that was what they were out for. To the remonstrance of his friends he paid no heed, but crawled out and straightened himself up, when to his dismay he found himself in plain view of eight or ten bucks and as many squaws who were drinking and bathing themselves at a little stream of water about seventy-five yards distant. Dropping suddenly down from sight, he told his companions of his discovery, and crawling a few feet he reached a position from which he could watch the Indians and be himself unseen. Sitting there thinking how he would be pleased to pick off one of them after another with his good rifle, he saw one of the smaller females turn her face full in his direction, and in spite of her torn and filthy condition he recognized Mary Geisel.
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, October 31, 1879, page 3
[Battle of Big Bend.]
As soon as he saw Mary Geisel, Brown crawled back to his companions and told them of his discovery. He wanted to attack the Indians at once, but they were not willing to fight with such odds against them in numbers, and while they were debating the matter they heard loud talking among the Indians. Listening intently, one of the scouts, who understood something of the Indian language, discovered that the main camp of the Indians was but three miles down the river. Upon learning this the scouts concluded that the best thing they could do was to return at once to the command and advise an attack upon the Indian camp for the rescue of Mrs. Geisel and her daughter.
After a delay of a day or two, Captains Ord and Abbott made an attack upon the Indians at their camp and killed a number of bucks and captured several squaws, but the Geisels had been taken off to another camp.
About this time a dispatch was received from Capt. Augur, who was further up the river, telling Ord to hurry up as it was probable the Indians were concentrating to attack Smith's camp, still higher up the river. Gen. Lamerick was now coming down the river, driving the Indians ahead of him, toward Smith, and there was great danger that a sufficient force of the savages would gather to overpower Smith's command. Quickened by the dispatch, Ord hastened to join Augur, and the two commands proceeded as fast as possible up toward the camp of Smith at Big Bend.
On his march down the river Lamerick came upon a large party of Indians and attacked them as they were attempting to cross the river. The Indians were routed and scattered. Several Indians were killed, the dead bodies of three being left where they fell. A few squaws and children were captured, from whom the General learned that the party to which they belonged were only waiting for those below to capture Capt. Smith's company, when they intended to come on up the river, after being reinforced by those from below, take in the General's command and then make a clean sweep of the valleys above. They told him that the Indians were then engaged with Smith at the Big Bend and had probably killed all of his company before that time.
We must now return to the attack by the Indians on Smith's command. Before the attack began the Indians fawningly invited the Captain to come out and have a good talk, and they would make a permanent peace. The Captain was at first inclined to go, but by the advice of his officers he declined and immediately ordered his men to begin to erect defenses. Packs and all articles were seized upon and placed on the narrow ridge to afford some protection. His station was on the end of the ridge where it descended in three directions. The only place where he could be attacked with any show of success was from above on the backbone of the ridge.
As soon as Smith refused to go out, and the Indians saw the soldiers beginning to pile up breastworks, they, as before stated, made a rush at the camp as though intending to take it by storm. The coolness exhibited by the officers and men, who met the Indians with a deadly volley, seemed for an instant to disconcert them, and they began to fall back. But their leaders rallied them and they returned the attack. Several times they were repulsed with loss when at last they desisted and began trying to pick off the men at a little longer range. Smith set men at work digging rifle pits in front of his camp, but they were soon driven from their work by the deadly onslaught of the Indians. Eight had been already killed, and more wounded.
The day was drawing to a close and still the murderous assault was kept up. No relaxation, but on the contrary, pushed with more vigor each moment. The supply of water had been exhausted, and one-third of the command had been killed and disabled as night shut down on the desperate encounter. No water could be obtained, for the enemy controlled all the ground between camp and the creek, and the wounded suffered extreme torture from their burning thirst. The men lay down in relays to rest while their companions kept up an answering fire, as the enemy still continued to pour their bullets in showers upon the apparently doomed command. During the night the men again began on the rifle pits, and before dawn had completed a sufficient number. Some of them several rods in advance of the outer line of breastworks had been strengthened as best they could be by felling some trees on the outskirts of camp, and by break of day the pits were occupied and the breastworks manned in readiness for a more desperate assault.
During the night several attempts had been made to get some water, but without success. The Indians knew that the soldiers were without water, and left no avenue for them to get it. They had completely surrounded the camp and were determined to take it at all risks. They had suffered too, in killed and wounded, but not to the extent of the loss of the soldiers. Besides outnumbering the soldiers five to one, they were fighting for their hunting grounds and for the supplies in the camp of the soldiers, and they were in all respects eager and determined.
Smith's ammunition was becoming exhausted and the men were ordered to reserve their fire until the game was sure. Every bullet thrown away was a serious loss. As soon as daylight was sufficiently clear to distinguish objects plainly, the Indians made another rush for camp. They were met at the rifle pits with a fire from the whole camp more deadly than ever before, for the men had now become desperately in earnest, and every shot took effect. The fire from the pits was a surprise to the savages who came swarming up to them. Not exactly comprehending the turn the defense had taken, they showed symptoms of falling back. Now was the opportunity for carrying out the plan the Captain had formed of charging the Indians. The bugle sounded the charge, but the men did not obey. No use; out of ammunition and outnumbered, a charge would be disastrous. Better remain in the rifle pits and behind the breastworks.
The morning advanced and the sun was high above the eastern horizon. Thirst was consuming the men, while several of the wounded had expired.
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, November 7, 1879, page 3
Rescue of Smith's Command--
Closing Scenes of Rogue River War.
About 10 o'clock the Indians seemed to have been reinforced and made another desperate charge. They did not attempt to scale the breastworks, but rushed up to within short range and, sheltering themselves behind trees, poured in a heavy fire upon the troops. For an hour, a long, desperate, deadly hour, the fight continued at close quarters, and two-thirds of the soldiers were killed and wounded. Many of the wounded, however, were not disabled, but continued to do good work with their rifles.
After a time many of the Indians retreated toward the river, leaving a few to do the fighting with the intention, no doubt, of inducing the troops to leave their defenses and charge the few Indians left. But the soldiers were not to be decoyed from their position; it was a desperate one, but less dangerous than outside of their breastworks, and they were hoping and praying that they could hold out till help should come.
Suddenly loud shouts and furious firing are heard below, and the beleaguered troops are aware that friends are coming to the rescue. In a few minutes the retreating Indians began to reappear, coming back from the river. At the rear and right flank of the Indians blue coats are seen, and a long line of gray-shirted men come charging up the hill, in front of the enemy. Ord and Augur swept down the ridge upon the Indians, while Abbott charged them in front and flank, and, finding themselves thus in danger of being surrounded, the savages fled precipitously by the only avenue of escape down the left side of the ridge, and were soon beyond the reach of danger from the troops. The newcomers flocked into Smith's camp, and were greeted with rejoicing by the rescued men. Water was speedily brought, and the wounded were cared for.
Firing was now heard a few miles further up the river, and within an hour all who were able were on the march for the scene of conflict.
Gen. Lamerick, having been informed by his scouts that a battle was in progress, was hurrying down the river, and while halted for a short time was encountered by the retreating Indians and a sharp battle ensued, which resulted, however, in little damage to either side. The Indians soon crossed the river and began to retreat, and by the time the troops from below reached the ground they had all disappeared. As the Indians had scattered, and it was impossible to know where they would rendezvous, it was deemed best to camp and send out scouting parties to find their next camp. Lamerick returned up the river about two miles and camped, while the regulars camped a mile or two further down. Late in the evening of the same day Lamerick's scouts brought to camp the news that the Indians were gathering a few miles back from the river opposite a point about midway between the two camps, where they appeared to be expecting an attack.
Lamerick sent orders to Capt. Smith, who was the senior officer of the regular troops, to march at daylight with his command up to a designated point on the river and there await further orders, while he, the General, would cross over the river above the Indian camp and attack them; and should they cross the river Smith was to pitch into them wherever seen.
Before daylight the volunteers began crossing in their two canvas boats, and a little after dawn were all over and on a rapid march down towards the Indian camp, and before the sun was high above the horizon began the attack. The Indians were behind their last works, in their last ditch and for a while kept the volunteers at a respectful distance.
Smith's scouts had by some means captured some canoes, and that officer had crossed some of his men below the Indian camp, and soon after the attack above attacked the camp from below. When the Indians became aware that the troops were below them they seemed completely nonplussed, while the volunteers from above and the regulars from below were steadily closing in upon them. After a short resistance they broke and fled wherever they could. Some plunged into the river and swam across, only to be shot by the soldiers as they emerged from the water; others were shot while swimming over. Some were killed outright and floated down the current until they sank; others were only wounded and managed to keep afloat by continually ducking their heads under water whenever they thought that a shot was fired at them.
[To be continued.]Ashland Tidings, November 14, 1879, page 3
Rescue of Smith's Command--The whole camp was soon surrounded. The greater part of the squaws and children were made captive, together with all the effects of the Indians. For an hour the killing continued whenever an Indian could be seen. Old scores were now being settled, as was plainly denoted by the continued rattling of musketry and the sharper reports of the more deadly rifles of the volunteers. At last all was over, and the troops gathered at the now-bloody Indian camp. A few Indians were captured and brought into the camp, and it required all the authority that the officers could exert to prevent them from being immediately killed by the enraged men, who remembered the treacherous murders of their friends and would not have spared a single one of the heartless savages. General Lamerick knew the temper of his men, knew that many of them had had relatives killed by the Indians, and for the nonce was utterly incapable of seeing or knowing all that his men did. It was not possible for him to watch them or to know the meaning and effect of every stray rifle shot that was heard on the outskirts of the Indian camp. Captain Smith was a noted Indian protector and bitterly complained to the general of the waywardness of the volunteers. But how could the general watch all of his men?
Closing Scenes of Rogue River War.
No signs yet of Mrs. Geisel and her children, nor of Mrs. Wagoner. To the inquiries where they were, the captive Indians would answer by pointing down the river. At last one young squaw said that she did not know where Mrs. Wagoner was, but thought she was dead, had not seen her since they left the Big Meadows, a month before. Mrs. Geisel and her children were down the river with a small band of Indians on a creek on the same side of the river as that on which the troops now were. She did not know as they were yet alive, but they were a few days before.
The Indians were now scattered, and their tribe utterly broken up. All that remained to do was to hunt them up and gather them together on a reservation. The combined force of volunteers and regulars now encamped together. Some of the squaws were sent out to induce the Indians to come in and make peace, and to deliver up their prisoners, and account for those whom they had murdered, if any such there were.
At 10 o'clock the next day the squaws had not returned, but the ever-vigilant spies reported a squad of Indians four miles below, having in their possession Mrs. Geisel and her children. One hundred men under Captains Augur and Abbott started down to attack them, but were met on the way by the returning squaws and several of the lesser chiefs who had been commissioned to talk for Old John and the other big ones. With them an arrangement was made for the Indians to surrender and deliver up their prisoners. Upon this being reported to Old John he objected vehemently, but was overruled by the other chiefs and by the threats of the troops to massacre them all immediately if they did not at once surrender.
Having nearly all the squaws and children as hostages, Charley Brown volunteered to go to the Indian camp and endeavor to effect the release of the prisoners and the surrender of the Indians. After a long talk with the chiefs, who refused at first to either surrender or deliver up the captives, Brown at last told them that all the prisoners in the hands of the troops would be killed if they harmed Mrs. Geisel and her children and did not deliver them up the next day. At this point they agreed to the terms offered, but said that they could not deliver up Mary Geisel, as she belonged to a young chief who had said that he would die before he would part with her. The next day Mrs. Geisel and her little daughter Anna were brought into camp. To the demands that Mary be given up, they steadily refused without a heavy ransom. Charley Brown made several ineffectual trips to the hostile camp to induce the young chief to surrender Mary, and not till he told the Indians for the last time that they would all be killed by the enraged troops unless they surrendered her did he succeed in escorting her into the camp of the volunteers and uniting her with her mother and sister under the protection of her friends. [Click here for a contemporary account of the Geisels' captivity.]
A vote of thanks was tendered to Charley Brown, and a written certificate to that effect given him by the assembled troops for the heroism exhibited by him in his efforts to secure the liberation of Mrs. Geisel and her children.
Of Mrs. Wagoner nothing has ever been definitely known, except that she is dead.
The Indians surrendered and were placed on reservations, and the Rogue River War was ended.
Ashland Tidings, November 21, 1879, page 3
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BATTLE WITH REDSKINS
How the Indians Attempted to Clean Up All "Boston Men" in Two States.
The Wives of the Old Settlers Showed as Much Heroism as the Men Themselves.
Thrilling Narrative of E. J. Northcott, Now a Resident of Pullman, This State.
From June, 1853, until the summer of 1855, there was no trouble of any note with the Indians between the southern boundary of Oregon and the British line. But during this time of seeming inactivity they were making arrangements for a general outbreak. They were collecting arms and ammunition and perfecting plans by which, at a stated time, they would make a general "cleanup" of all the "Boston men" in Oregon and Washington. In October, 1855, when the country was as dry as powder and ready for the match, there was a simultaneous move of all the coast Indians. They were so well organized that their movements were almost as perfect as clockwork.
The Rogue River Indians were on the Table Rock reservation, in charge of Captain A. J. Smith of the United States army. They numbered about 1000 warriors, commanded by Old John, Sam and Limpy.
About the 20th [sic] of October, when the roads were lined with travelers and the mountains filled with small prospecting parties, and the grain had all been harvested, and when those thus diversely engaged least expected a disturbance, Indians were placed in small companies on all roads leading into the Rogue River Valley, and seemingly, almost at a given signal, the entire country from Umpqua Canyon to the Siskiyou Mountains, fifty miles in width and 100 in length, was aflame. The air was filled with the sound of the voices of the people engaged in their different occupations who were affected by the conflagration, and was echoed and re-echoed until it lost itself forever among the reverberating hills.
We heard the wild war-whoop, the screams of frightened women and children, the keen crack of the rifle, the clatter of horses' feet, and saw men flying in all directions endeavoring to do something for self-protection or for the protection of others, using their utmost efforts to collect the residents of the scattered settlements together. It was a scene which time, with all its ups and downs, with all its real and imaginary pleasures, and to this may be added its three score years and ten, can never blot from the memory of one who knows from bitter experience what such heart-rending scenes are. While those scenes linger with me in my declining days, and are a part of my life and makeup, yet for the love and regard I have for my fellow man I trust those days with their darkness and bloodshed are of the past, and that they will never be repeated.
I was on my way from Crescent City to Jacksonville with a train of mules loaded with merchandise, and was camped, with several other parties, at the foot of Mooney Mountain the night of the outbreak. We had about 150 mules in our train, and they carried merchandise valued at $15,000.
On the morning of the 21st of October, at an early hour, we were winding our way, single file, up the side of the mountain. To our surprise before we reached the summit we were attacked by the Indians. There were eighteen men in the party. Our mules were drawn in four trains, a man armed with two Colt's revolvers and a rifle, mounted on a bell horse, riding in front of each train. The road was lined with heavy timber. When the Indians made the attack the man in front turned his bell horse back on the run. The rattle of the bell, the braying of the mules, the whiz of the arrows, the six-shooter's clear crack and war-whoop of the savages made times quite lively for a while. Three of our men were killed and six wounded. We also lost 100 of our mules and our goods. We killed seven Indians. "When Makin's rifle cracked down went an Indian." We made a hard fight, and did all in our power to take with us our wounded and to save our two mules on which was loaded our ammunition, but in spite of all our efforts we lost one of them. Our greatest sorrow was to leave our wounded comrades to the hands of the heartless foe, and it was augmented by not being permitted to bury our dead boys who had helped us so unflinchingly.
The news of this outbreak spread like wildfire and soon Althouse Creek, Sucker Creek and Canyon Creek were aware of what the Indians had been doing and what they were expected to do. The above named places were all important mining camps. They were soon in arms and ready for the conflict. In less than ten hours there were companies formed, under the leadership of Captains Frye, Hornbuckle and O'Neil and were in hot pursuit of the savages. They were well mounted and otherwise prepared for any emergency.
While the distance intervening between us and the hostiles was being shortened we retreated to open ground, and begun making breastworks, utilizing our merchandise and mules as best we could. We then made a charge on the Indians and drove them back. We hastily collected our scattered articles and turned our faces toward my ranch, about ten miles distant, situated in Josephine County, Oregon.
While on our way we added to our company eight women and children whom we found by the wayside without protection. When we reached the ranch we found everything about as we left it, much to our surprise. We buried out dead and then held a council to decide whether to leave the place or make preparations for fight. Our number was not large, and what to do for the best was the all-absorbing question. Our company consisted of twelve men and fourteen women and children. We had twelve revolvers and twelve rifles. After consulting about the matter very carefully and taking the surroundings into consideration, we decided that if we were to go out and should come in contact with the Indians the chances would be against us, but thought if we remained situated as we were that we could withstand a hundred of the enemies.
We had at that time 200 head of cattle, fifty head of hogs and sixteen head of horses, which we could not collect for at least three days, and we were sure of an attack by the Indians before we could possibly collect our stock, so we decided to place guards on the outskirts to prevent the Indians from getting too near to us without our knowledge.
We brought in our work cattle, staked off a line for a ditch around the house sixty feet from the buildings, put four men to cutting and dragging [logs] with the cattle, also a like number digging the ditch. As fast as the timber was prepared it was placed in the ditch on end, thus making a very safe wall for our defense, and so we worked day and night until our job was completed.
The 23rd and 24th of October found everything ready excepting our gates. At midnight of the 24th we saw the signal fire of the Indians on the mountain. We knew then that our time was drawing to a close, or, at least, that a mighty struggle for life was near. We held a second council and came to the conclusion that the Indians were badly scattered and, in order to avoid the three companies of miners who were in pursuit, assumed that they would not get together to make an attack before daylight. I dispatched six men, in twos. Jack Whiteside and Page were to follow Captain Frye's trail of sixty men, who had pursued the Indians from their recent attack on us at Mooney Mountain; our party was to follow Ute Valley as far as "Salal Diggings," a mining camp about twenty miles from the settlement, all to secure all the help they could and return by 12 o'clock. Tyler and Joul were to act as messengers and would return at any time.
The Indians found themselves hard pressed by Captains Frye, Hornbuckle and O'Neil, whose forces numbered about two hundred men.
The remaining five men and myself now went to work in earnest. We took up the puncheon floor and pinned them on the inside of the doors and windows, and cut openings from one room to the other so we might pass through to any part of the house without being exposed to the aim of the savages. I then filled all the vessels we could find with water and placed them overhead in case of fire, for we well knew we would be burned out if the Indians made an attack. The building was "L" shaped, and two men were placed at each door to guard and defend in case the Indians came upon them. The men were all well armed and each woman had a revolver. The women were to guard and defend the house, and the six men, including myself, were to take our stand about one hundred yards from the building. We were to secrete ourselves and await the coming of the Indians. We remained in this position until sunrise. On the morning of the 24th everything was as still as "Egypt's Triple Night," and in this fearful position, or crisis, we noticed much to our discomfort four mounted Indians driving off several head of my stock. James Thompson and W. H. Hornbuckle charged the Indians and they returned the fire, and the fight was really on. To our surprise we found that we were surrounded by a band of 150 "braves" who were anxious for our scalps. In view of the unfavorable surroundings, we thought it best for ourselves to retreat to the house, and did so. Meantime we were fired on by the Indians. After we reached the house there was a lull until about 8 o'clock a.m. We could see old Chief John on the hill above the house in a northerly direction, but well out of reach of the range of our guns. He was so situated that he could see all that was going on below. We could hear him giving orders to his men, and he advised them to crowd down a small ravine south of the house, and to get as near as they possibly could to the house. When he gave command for them to charge and fire the building, seemingly to encourage his men he told them that there were only six of us and it would be an easy matter to take us on the first charge. In view of the charge we expected them to make, I gave orders to withhold fire until the Indians came inside the stockade. There were two openings through which they could enter. Meantime I went to each man and tried to encourage them by saying that if each man would do his duty and stand firmly to his task and be as solid as a rock, that the Indians could not take us. I impressed on them the responsibility of the fourteen women and children which we must protect at all hazards, even though we had to risk our lives, and further warned them that if the Indians were victorious there would be no hope for any of us, and that we would then all die at the hands of the savages. To my great satisfaction there was not a dissenting voice, but with a steady nerve and tightly pressed lips they all nodded assent. I further encouraged them by telling them that we had eighty-four shots without loading, and that the women would load the guns as fast as we could use them.
I again returned to my post, gave instructions to the women, such as I deemed necessary under the existing circumstances. About 8 o'clock old John gave the order to charge. The Indians came toward us, all of them stripped to the waist, at a keen run, led by Fiery Bill, old John's son. I had three men at each door ready to meet them as they came. With them they had a log with which to burst our door and also carried a torch with which to fire the building. As they came through the gates we opened fire, and with deadly effect. They hesitated for a moment, seeming to dread what seemed to be sure death. They soon closed up, however, and on they came with a yell, and such a one as only Indians gave give under such circumstances. By this time we had killed several and wounded a great many more. They set fire to the house and endeavored to break in the door, and the prospect seemed to indicate, at the time, that a hand-to-hand struggle was awaiting us, but a continued stream of hot lead from our guns caused them to decide that to retreat was the wisest thing for them to do, so they left us, taking their dead with them. Those who were wounded had managed to crawl outside the stockade.
At this juncture a voice was heard calling that the building was on fire. My mother took my place and kept up the firing while I made a hole through the roof from the inside and by using the water previously collected for the purpose soon put out the fire. The result of the encounter was fourteen Indians killed and about twenty wounded. We did not lose one, but the walls of our house were almost filled with lead.
Everything was as quiet and still as death, save now and then the hard shrill voice of old John, until about 12 o'clock. Not an Indian was to be seen. They were, in the meantime, reinforced by about forty braves. Old John then ordered a second charge, which was obeyed with all the vim and energy they could command, but they met a shower of lead which proved too much for them and they fell back with heavy loss,
Fiery Bill having fallen at the first fire. His sudden disappearance threw them into confusion, from which it seemed impossible for them to recover. The yard was filled with dead and wounded.
In a conversation with old John afterward he said they would not have but the second and third charges but for the whisky they had obtained from one of the packs on one of the mules captured at the attack on Mooney Mountain. "And," he added, " my men were wild and reckless, and had we been the victors we would have burned you all at the stake."
In the second charge they again fired the building, but we succeeded in extinguishing the flames as we had done before. Old John now advised his men to drink no more firewater, sober up and get themselves in shape to fight, as the miners were after them. He said they would make one more effort, and if they failed he would retreat.
From early morning until 3 p.m. a few Indians could be seen moving about through the timber. About 4 o'clock they made the third charge. A rifle ball from one of their guns came through the porthole where I was located, giving me a flesh wound and knocking me senseless for a few moments, though it seemed to me an age. During this time my wife sprang to the rescue, seized my gun and shot one of the leaders just as he was in the act of bursting in the door. By the time I gained consciousness the house was again on fire, and the fire was fast getting a good start. The house burning and surrounded by the Indians, our chances for life looked pretty slim, and to add to the gloomy surroundings, we had in our guns our last round of powder.
Almost forced by circumstances to give up, no trace of help, we turned our attention to the all-absorbing question of what seemed the best to do. Just then I heard a noise; I listened with almost breathless suspense. It was the noise of horses' feet, but was it the approach of friend or foe--of more enemies coming to hasten our doom? Who could answer? To our delight and great satisfaction it was Captain Frye. He was coming at breakneck speed to our rescue, Jack Whitesell in the lead. They had heard our fighting at a distance of two miles, which proved an incentive to double their efforts to reach us in the shortest time possible. The old adage, "The darkest hour is just before dawn," proved true for us, for just as all resources and hope was gone help came.
The Indians retreated, and we kept up our firing for two miles. Reaching the Indian camp we found they had killed eighty head of our cattle. We routed all the Indians from their camp, the women and children retreating under cover of the brush and timber.
Captain Frye, seeing that to follow them further would be hazardous withdrew his men, having lost one man killed and two wounded.
At sundown Captain O'Neil arrived with sixty men, and about dark Captain Hornbuckle came in with eighty men, making in all about 200 men. They complimented us for holding the fort when the chances seemed against us, but when they heard of the bravery of the women they gave vent to cheer upon cheer. As an individual compliment the name of "Old Chief" was bestowed upon me, and the name I bore, gracefully as I could, until my departure from that part of the country.
A short time after dark Old John formed his men on the hill above the house. The sergeant of the chief asked if Jim Hornbuckle was in our company, and said if he was they wanted to see him. Hornbuckle was a dead shot, could speak the Indian language, and was well versed in Indian tactics. Hornbuckle himself answered the sergeant, and invited him to come down. At the sound of his voice the Indians fired a volley, but the shot passed above our heads and no one was hurt. Hornbuckle shouted to his men to charge, which they did in double-quick, he being in the lead. He had with him about 150 men. They ascended the hill yelling and shouting, and the Indians fled in all directions.
On the following morning not an Indian was to be seen. I was advised to move out to Fort Briggs, which was situated at the mouth of Sucker Creek, where other families were collected. Early that morning we started with a guard of about thirty men. Soon after our arrival here I learned that the Indians had ambushed Tyler and Joul at the old crossing of Deer Creek. We never heard more of Tyler. About three months afterward we found the remains of a man, supposed to be Tyler, which we collected and interred, giving it all the honors of a Christian burial, trusting that his soul was at rest.
Of the 200 who came to my relief only two are now living to tell the tale. They are Greenville Blake of Laramie post office, Lincoln County, and Jack Cuthbert of Salem, Or. I am solemnly impressed that ere long there will be no one left to tell of these adventures, and there will be no record of the trials, hardships and deprivations of the early settler on the Pacific coast except that now being written for the public press, which we hope is interesting to all.
E. J. NORTHCOTT,The Weekly Ledger, Tacoma, Washington, July 7, 1893, Beinecke Library Some details and names are questionable.
Last revised September 13, 2017