Nelson Bowman Sweitzer
From a typescript apparently prepared by C. McG. Sweitzer, nephew of N. B. Sweitzer, circa 1943. The first eleven pages relate to Sweitzer's early years and his journey from Santa Fe, New Mexico to San Francisco in the fall of 1854 and have not been transcribed.
SAN FRANCISCO TO FT. LANE, OREGON
I left San Francisco on a steamboat up the Sacramento River for Red Bluffs near Shasta. The river was very high and we low, but finally got to Red Bluff, where had a stage to Shasta a few miles distant.
Shasta was then a flourishing mining town. From Shasta I went on a mule with the express man, and my trunk was turned over to the pack train.
From Shasta over to the mountains, I went to Ft. Jones, near Yreka. There I found Crook and Hood 4th Infantry, Lts. I stayed there several days. Hood asked me if I was going to transfer to one of the new cavalry regiments then being organized to which I had been offered a transfer as 2nd Lt. I told him I was not. He asked me not to send on my declination until I got to Ft. Lane, as he would apply for my place in the new regiment. I did so and Hood got into the cavalry as 2nd Lt.
Ft. Jones was a collection of log cabins, not plastered, but only chinked in between the logs, daubed with mud. Each officer had one room. The houses were generally what is called "2 pairs and a passage."
From Ft. Jones I went by mule to Yreka. At Yreka I saw the sign, "Yreka Bakery"--the sign spells the name backward or forward.
From Yreka I went by mule to Ft. Lane near Jacksonville in the southern part of Oregon. There were no wagon roads at this time from Shasta or Yreka to Jacksonville over the mountains, and no wagon roads from Jacksonville to the coast. All the transportation was on pack mules.
At Ft. Lane I found Capt. A. J. Smith, Lt. C. Ogle, and Dr. C. H. Crane. They were glad to see me, as coming from the States, and I had seen Capt. Smith's wife in St. Louis and had letters from her, but they were old by this time.
They had told me at Ft. Jones that Capt. Smith was going to pitch into me for taking so long to come, as it was now April and I had been from about October getting to my post, but when I told Smith about his wife and little children and about the East and his old friends, I said maybe he thought I was long in getting to my post. He said if it had been him, he would have taken twice as long.
I found all the officers very nice gentlemen. Capt. Smith offered me his horse to ride to town. Ogle, who had told me also that Smith was going to give me thunder for staying so long, said, "I must have captured the Capt., as he never allowed anyone to ride his horse."
Ft. Lane was a log hut place for two companies. Single-room huts with no ceiling and clapboard roof.
"C" and "E" troops 1st Dragoons garrisoned the place. The fort was near Rogue River, opposite Table Rock, a big bluff, and nine miles from Jacksonville, north to Willamette Valley [sic].
Rogue River was a fine, fertile valley, and the post got the grain and beef from this valley. The other supplies were brought on pack mules from Port Orford and Crescent City, on the coast.
I was made post adjutant, "post quartermaster" and post commissary or officer and attended to company duty also.
Our only transportation in the field was by pack mules. I found the men very green at packing; we had no hired packers in the quartermaster's dept.
Having to guard the pack train bringing supplies from Crescent City--the only route to the coast, a route to Port Orford not yet having been opened--the escort from Ft. Lane went out on the trail towards Crescent City and met the train about Illinois Valley at Kerbyville, and escorted them through the mountains to Rogue River Valley and Ft. Lane. I took advantage of the packers and detailed my men to assist the packers in packing up in the morning. In this manner my men soon learned to be expert packers. There was great excitement among the citizens about the Indians. The Rogue River Indians and the Shasta Indians lived in small parties.
The game was getting scarce, and the valleys where they had gathered the roots, corns and camas, etc., were occupied by the whites.
There were complaints that the Indians stole, etc. I was frequently sent out on scouts to look after complaints and see what the Indians were doing.
A report came to the post that a small party of Indians, living in Illinois Valley, were committing depredations, and I was sent to bring in a party of Indians down on the lower part of Rogue River Valley.
I took a couple of Shasta Indians with me and got to their camp, but they had disappeared. I set the Indians to hunting them up. After some time they found them scattered in the mountains and brought them in. The whole country towards Illinois Valley was alarmed, and a large party of miners were out hunting Indians. A miner from the party of miners came to me and said the miners were about having a fight with some Indians over towards Illinois Valley. I started the Indians towards the reservation and went with my command--some 30 men--and the Indian agent to see what the miners were doing arming.
Where the miners were I found a large party, some 100 men. They were halted and scattered about under the trees. They said they had followed a trail, but had lost it. I asked them in what direction; they pointed towards a canyon leading into the mountains. I took my command over to the canyon and found a plain trail leading into the mountains.
It was apparent the men did not like following the trail into the mountains. I put my Indians on the trail and followed them. We came to a valley in the mountains. I halted and went into camp and sent the Indian Adam, a Shasta, out to look around and see if he could find anything.
While in camp, we heard several shots and went out to see if we could see anything--it was getting late. The Indian agent and Adam was with me. We could not find out anything, so we came to camp, intending in the morning to take up the search.
In the morning we started and came to a trail leading to Vannoy's ferry on Rogue River and found a red blanket--such as miners use--lying in the trail. Going up the trail, where it crossed a little brushy ravine, we found two white men lying murdered, shot. We concluded they were killed by the shots we heard the evening before and done by the Indians.
The Indian agent and I held a council and told Adam to go and find the Indians and tell them to come in before night and surrender or we would hunt them up and kill them all if it took a year to do it.
Adam started out and about noon we saw him coming in with a small party of Indians. Some 10 or 12--they said it was all there was out. They had their women and children--only 3 or 4 men. I put them under guard and in a secluded spot, some distance from my Indian camp, as I was afraid if the miners should see them there would be trouble about them. I intended to start at daylight for the post. Later in the afternoon a party of miners came to us and asked if we had seen any Indians. We told them we were waiting for them and sent out to get them in.
They found out we had them and then wanted to get them, but I would not give them up. One man was particularly insulting and talked a great deal.
One of my men said he knew this man and that he was a deserter from the Rifles when that regiment was in Oregon several years before. I inquired of several men who knew him, so I told the sergeant of the guard to arrest him and put him under guard. He did so, and this put a stop to their talk and the rest went off.
We started early in the morning and took a route across the country, avoiding the traveled route, as we were afraid the miners would waylay us and give trouble, as they were very mad and I had told them I would defend the prisoners.
We arrived at Ft. Lane without trouble and turned over the prisoners to Capt. Smith. There was so much excitement that the Indians were gathered in on the reservation on the opposite side of Rogue River near the post.
Previous to their being brought in, the Shastas were camped some miles down Rogue River from the post. The Indian agent had given 3 young Indians a pass to go over to the Klamath Reservation [in California] to see the Klamath Indians, who were related to the Shastas.
While down there trouble broke out between the Klamaths and whites and several whites were killed and the Indians went to the mountains. These 3 young men came home along the public trail and told the whites the Klamath Indians were on the war path. A number of whites knew these three Indians.
They were accused of being with the Klamath Indians in killing whites. A requisition was made by the Governor of California on the Governor of Oregon for the arrest and trial of these Indians. Their names were Sam, Dick & George, sons or nephews of old Sam, the chief of the Shastas. The requisition was made on Capt. Smith to arrest and deliver over these Indians to the civil authorities. I was sent with a party to the Shasta camp, to camp there and watch them some time before.
One afternoon Bvt. Maj. Fitzgerald--capt. of "E" Troop--who had joined some time before, came to my camp with a small party and asked me if I knew the Indians. I said I did. He gave the order to arrest them.
The three young men happened to come to my tent. They had been hunting and had brought me some venison. I gave the order to arrest them. I had an Indian interpreter by the name of Swill; he explained to the Indians what it was about.
There was great excitement among the Indians. I told them they would be examined or tried, and as they were innocent they would not be hurt. So they gave up and I tied them on horses and started for Ft. Lane. Swill told me I had better be careful, as they would try to get away, but I got them to the post and they were put in the guard house.
In the meantime, the Shasta Indians were much up to the camp of the Rogue River Indians, opposite the fort a couple of miles, near Table Rock across Rogue River. The three Indians were in the guard house a couple of days when one night about 10 o'clock a shot was fired from the guard house. I ran out of my house in my drawers and slippers, with a shotgun, thinking the Indians had attacked the guard house to liberate the prisoners.
The guard was running across the parade towards the river. I ran with them and they said the three Indian prisoners had escaped. We chased them into a thicket of brush and blackberry bushes. I crawled in to see if I could find them. One of the men called to me to look out, as one of the Indians had a knife, but one of the men shouted they were out and running towards the river.
We followed after, but lost them, and returned to the post. Next morning, Ogle and I was sent over to the Indian camp to demand the three Indians. We got over in sight of the camp and found it in great excitement. They had all gotten together. We expected the Rogue River Indians to assist us, but they were afraid. Ogle and I thought we had better send word to Capt. Smith as to the state of affairs. So I started for the post and reported to Smith that we ought to overtake the Indians and if they would fight, we could get around them better.
Capt. Smith came himself with a company and the mountain howitzer. As soon as the Indians saw him coming with his party, the Shasta Indians broke and ran for the mountains, along a brushy creek.
Capt. Smith started after, with his company, and Ogle and I with our party, one on each side of the creek, to head them off before they got to the hills. We ran our horses as fast as we could and finally got ahead of the Indians, who disappeared in the brush. We put a party across the creek above them and surrounded their position, keeping in the shelter of the trees.
We sent a Rogue River Indian to tell them to come out, as we did not want to hurt them, but only wanted the three Indians who had escaped from the guard house. I heard a noise as if quarreling down in the brush. A young Indian of the Rogue Rivers was near me and told me to get behind a tree quickly as Dick, one of the Indians I had arrested, wanted to shoot me, and Fanny, his sister, and the other Indians were trying to prevent him.
I jumped behind a tree, the noise continued and the Rogue River boy said the Indians were going to break out on the other side of opposite where Capt. Smith was and wanted the Rogue Rivers to assist them. The Rogue River Indians had followed us and were scattered among our party and said they would help us, but we were not certain of this. So I ran around to where Capt. Smith was and told him what we heard. He warned his men to look out.
Presently Adam and Dick came out of the brush with their guns in hand across their bodies and bullets in their mouths and painted red and black in bands around their bodies from head to foot and no clothes on except a breech-clout, and their hair tied back off their faces.
Capt. Smith asked me if I knew any of those coming, as several men were following some distance behind. I said I did; he said, "Just arrest them." I said "just" but kept behind my tree, looking at them coming as if I had gone towards them. They would have shot me.
I called to them and asked in Chinook where they were going. Dick said where he "damned pleased." I said, "No you are not." He said, "You arrested me yesterday." I said, "Yes, and we would arrest them today." They were getting close and I told Adam to make Dick give up, as if there was any shooting their women and children would get killed in the fight. They came on and as Dick came near my tree I jumped out and caught his gun. I was pretty strong and after a little struggle Dick gave up. Sam, who was following behind ready to fight, then came up and surrendered.
The other one they said had gone somewhere else and was not with them. We tied the two and put them in a wagon and took them to the post. They were surrendered to the California authorities and acquitted and turned loose, but a party of citizens waylaid and killed them.
A large party of miners had collected in Jacksonville and sent a deputation to Capt. Smith saying they would attack the Indians on the reservation. Capt. Smith told them he would advise them not to, as the soldiers would protect the Indians as they were placed under the guard of the military by the Indian Department. They said they would whip the soldiers too, if they interfered. Smith said to bring it on.
After looking around, they concluded not to. I was on the reservation with a party of soldiers to watch the Indians and keep the whites off. Several parties of whites came to my camp and found everything in readiness for a fight if necessary.
I told them it was foolish as it would not pay, as we were bound to protect the Indians, and the Indians were armed and would fight as they well knew. The volunteers, principally from California, went home.
A company was raised at Jacksonville under Maj. Lupton, a candidate for delegate to Congress from Oregon. [He was actually a representative-elect to the territorial legislature.] A great excitement was in the country. It was reported the Indians at the head of Rogue River Valley were stealing and intimidating the people. I was sent up with a small party to scout and see what was the trouble.
I could not find anything definite. There was a small camp of Indians and I went to it on my way back to camp and inquired about the report. They said their men were out in the mountains hunting.
I told them to pack up and go with me to the reservation near the post, as the whites were excited and reported them stealing and killing cattle. They said a white man had accidentally killed a steer. I went to the white man's house and inquired. He said it was so, and he had not heard of any other being killed.
I told the Indians to pack up and go to the post with me, but they said they would in a few days when their men came in. There were no one but old men and women and children in the camp. I told them the whites might do them harm, but they said they were not afraid, as they had done the whites no harm and had lived on good terms with them and had agreed to keep a watch out and let the whites know if any strange Indians were seen in the neighborhood.
So I went on to the post. I heard from two whites that Lupton's company was anxious to kill some Indians somewhere, and I was afraid they would attack the camp of friendly Indians. Just at daylight next morning [October 8, 1855] while in bed at the post I heard some rifle shots in the distance, in the direction of the camp I had left the evening before.
I felt certain Lupton's company had attacked the camp. I jumped out of bed and ran into Capt. Smith's house and waked him up and said the "ball has opened"; they are killing the Indians up in the valley. He said to call out "C" Troop and go up and see what was the matter. I gave the orders to the 1st sgt. to get the troop ready as soon as possible.
Dr. Crane got ready and went along. We hurried off as soon as the troop was mounted--it was only a few miles. We got to the camp and sure enough there was the camp Indians lying around killed or wounded, about 17 or 20 mostly women and children and several old men, no fighting men.
At a house we found Maj. Lupton and a couple of men. The others had all run off when they saw the soldiers coming. Lupton was wounded with an arrow in his breast. Dr. Crane did all he could for him, but he died soon after.
I ordered a pit dug to bury the Indians in. One very pretty girl was among the killed. She had been a great favorite among the Indians; they made a great lamentation over her. She seemed to have had a great influence over the Indians and was known by the whites in the neighborhood. After burying the dead, I gathered together the rest and took them to the post.
Among the saved was a boy about 14 years old who was in the camp on a visit. When we got to the post, he came next day and said he was afraid to live with the Indians and asked if he could not live with me. I said yes, and made him useful about my quarters and to run errands etc. [This is apparently the boy Sweitzer named "Bob."]
When the whites were firing into the Indians in the brush, he saw a white man he knew and ran to him and clung to his legs and begged [him] not to kill him. The man took pity on him and saved his life. When Old John of the Shastas heard of the murder of his young men after they had been acquitted in California and the murder of his party, he took to the mountains.
Before this affair Old John was camped down on Rogue River. He left with his tribe for the mountains. I went after him with Swill the Indian interpreter, found them in the mountains and persuaded him to bring his party back on the reservation. They had not decided on hostilities, or they would have killed me. Old John said he would have a hundred white people's lives for the two boys killed.
They murdered a number and burnt houses along the road and waylaid people on the trails from one part of the country to another. About this time, Lt. Kautz, 4th Infantry, was with a party looking out a trail from Port Orford to Rogue River Valley. They happened to run into the camp of the hostiles in the mountains [on October 25, 1855]. The Indians attacked them and killed and wounded several [two were killed, Kautz slightly wounded] of his party and shot Kautz in the side, but he happened to have a thick memorandum book, which caught the bullet. It bruised a large spot as big as your hand, all black and blue, but he got away with the men and came in to Ft. Lane.
Capt. Judah came up to Ft. Lane with his company of infantry mounted on mules. He went down the river with some volunteers and got into a fight with some Indians and sent back to the post for help. Capt. Smith started to his assistance. It was rainy and sleety. We went mounted, but the trail was so bad and dangerous for the animals that Capt. Smith sent me back with the horses.
I went out to Applegate Creek with a company of dragoons with Quady [sic--Qualey?] and his company and some volunteers and hunted for hostiles. We had a great hunt, but found none. We scrambled up a high mountain and someone said there was a camp of Indians over in a valley in the direction from which we came. We could see smoke in several places and someone said they saw Indians. I could not see any, but Judah ordered the whole command back over the mountain.
On reaching the valley we scattered out to hunt Indians. I went to where the smoke was seen and found the woods had been on fire and old logs scattered through the woods were smoldering and causing the smoke.
There was no sign of any Indians having been anywhere about. The hunt was recalled. We camped in the valley; that night it rained and we lay in camp next day and sent out scouts to hunt signs.
We were to keep quiet and not let the Indians near where we were. Towards afternoon the volunteers complained of their guns being wet and said they were afraid they would not go off. So some got permission to fire off their guns. The number increased until the whole camp was firing off their guns. It sounded like a battle. I was disgusted.
Just then I got word a party from the post was attacked down on Rogue River and to go to their assistance. So I left the party under Judah and struck out.
I met the party next morning coming back. They had fortunately not lost anyone. I went back to the post. An alarm next night was some men had been killed near Jacksonville and the people were afraid the Indians would attack the town. I was sent with a company to the town and stayed there until morning. I then went out to scout the country. I found signs of a small party and followed it and found where they had killed one man and saw the tracks where another had come down through an open wood after his companion had been killed. He had evidently made good time and been a good jumper, as his tracks were wide apart 8 or 10 feet from one track to anther. He got away.
Capt. Underwood, 4th Infantry, who had joined the post with his company and Lt. W. B. Hazen, had been sent over to Applegate Creek, where hostile Indians were reported in some log cabins where some miners had corralled them [around January 1, 1856]. He had taken a mountain howitzer and ammunition for it. A messenger came saying that a mule carrying the ammunition had fallen over a precipice and lost the ammunition.
On my getting back to the post late at night I was ordered to take some pack mules and carry some howitzer ammunition to Underwood. I packed up and started with a party of men. Walter Davis and Dr. Brooks--citizens--went along with me. We rode all night and the next day in the afternoon, before we reached the camp, several of the horses of my party had given out and were left to go back to the post, when they rested.
We found Underwood and his company had a large number of volunteers watching the cabins waiting for howitzer ammunition. I suggested we could wait until next morning so we could have all day before letting the Indians know we had a howitzer, but Hazen said we could shell them out in a few minutes. I had little confidence in the howitzer.
So we took the howitzer on a hill overlooking the cabins. Hazen took charge of the firing. He loaded up and aimed and fired. The shell went directly into one of the cabins and burst inside. Everyone supposed the Indians would run out or be killed, but no signs. The guards surrounding the cabins ran towards the cabins but several shots from them made them take to their trees, where they were afraid to move for fear of being shot. One miner was shot through the head and another wounded.
Hazen got the howitzer ready and gave another shot, but it did not come near the cabins. While getting ready to fire another shot, ping, ping, ping, came several shots from the cabins at the party loading the howitzer, striking a citizen standing near. We all took to shelter. They dragged the howitzer under shelter and loaded again, but did no execution except [the shot] bounding over into the line of guards. It was as I expected; it was getting too dark.
Nearly the whole camp was on guard, posted in a circle around the cabins. My party of 5 or 6 men were not put on guard, as we were very tired, having had no sleep for two nights and having ridden two days.
Walter Davis and I opened our blankets near a fire some distance behind a ridge outside of the line of guards. In the middle of the night we were aroused by a shot, then a yell and hundreds of shots. Yelling and shooting. Then it would cease, then a yell "Here they come" and shooting again. I told Davis to lie still or someone would shoot us in the dark, but presently a yell from the camp in our direction of "Here they come" made us get our pistols ready and put on our boots. Then someone yelled, "Put out the fire." Lt. Brooks, who was near us, jumped up and in his stocking feet went to kicking out the fire, burning his feet and legs. He jumped and yelled as if he was shot.
The fuss and noise would break out every once in a while and commotion kept up until daylight.
It was expected that several must have been shot from the fuss they made, but looking over the ground no one was discovered hurt. Some blood was on the snow but no bodies. The Indians had broken out and run around and then threw themselves on the ground.
The line occupied by Underwood's company had turned them several times, but when they came opposite the miners they had broken the line and let them out.
He examined the cabins and found they had cellars with a thick layer of earth on top so the shells that went inside burst without hurting anyone. One little sick Indian was found.
A party followed the trail of the Indians some distance but gave it up. We all returned to our station. The Indians free again.
About this time a fight called "Hungry Hill" took place. There was a large number of volunteers, our Ft. Lane command and Lt. Gibson and Kautz. Lt. Allston had joined "E" Troop Dragoons at Ft. Lane. Quite a number of whites were killed and wounded. The Indians on Rogue River had also broken out and killed a number of miners up at the mining camp, at [the] mouth of Rogue River.
ROGUE RIVER EXPEDITIONAn expedition was ordered with Colonel Buchanan in command to make a campaign against the Indians on Lower Rogue River. Capt. Smith was to go from Ft. Lane with "E" Co. 4th Infantry and "C" Troop 1st Dragoons dismounted.
We expected to meet a party from the coast at [the] mouth of Illinois River. Capt. Ord and Capt. Reynolds with two companies of artillery as infantry, Capt. Augur and Jones, two companies 4th Inf. were to concentrate at [the] mouth of Rogue River. Port Orford was our base of supplies.
We were told that after 1st April it did not rain on [the] west side of the Coast Range. I was quartermaster and commissary. Ben Drew, a citizen, was in charge of [the] pack train. Walter Davis, a ranchman, who furnished beef for the post, sent some cattle on the hoof. We carried no tents, but a large pauline [tarpaulin] to cover the commissary store at night.
Our general direction was to cross the mountains to Port Orford. There were no roads or trails. We had three citizen guides who knew the general lay of the country. It was one mass of mountains and canyons. We had to climb the mountains and keep along the ranges, as the creeks ran through rocky gorges with no practicable traveling bottom lands along the streams.
Lt. G. Crook, 4th Inf. brought "E" Company 4th Inf. Judah's Company "F" were to go on the expedition, but Crook was taken with inflammatory rheumatism and could not go. There being no officer with the company, I was put in command of the company. Capt. Smith commanded the expedition, and "C" Troop 1st Dragoons were to be dismounted and Dr. C. H. Crane assigned as medical officer.
The officers had mules to ride. We had a pack train to carry our supplies. No tents were carried, as they told us it did not rain after the 1st of April. We started so as to get on the west side of the Coast Range about 1st April, so as to escape the rains.
At a camp before we left the settlement, a ranchman came into camp and told Capt. Smith one of his men had killed one of his hogs. The men were paraded and the man picked out one of "C" Troop as the one who killed the hog. Capt. Smith asked him if he had killed a hog. He said he had killed a wild animal in the woods; he thought it was a bear. Smith told him he would have to pay for it. He said he was willing. The owner said it was worth $30. The soldier then said he had no money, but would give the man his note. The man looked vacantly at the soldier for awhile and said, "Have you no money?" The soldier said no. The citizen gave an exclamation of disgust and turned on his heel and left. He had no idea of ever seeing the soldier again, and he was the subject of a ludicrous joke.
The citizens thought when our command headed for the mountains that no one of the party would ever come out of the wilderness. We were entering what was thought to be filled with savage, hostile Indians, and our command of about 100 men was [thought] too small to do any good.
It was up one mountain, along the broken crest, down and up continually. The mules would fall and roll down the sides of the mountains--singularly enough, very seldom hurt. The packers would go down after them and straighten them up, fix their pack and hit them with a cut [i.e., with a slicing blow] and start them up to join the rest of the train.
We made first for the mouth of Illinois River. We expected to meet a command there, as we had been told a party would be sent from Col. Buchanan's command and to camp there. When we got to the mouth of the Illinois River, the advance guard saw a couple of Indians cutting a pole for a fish trap; as soon as the Indians saw them they ran. The advance guard followed them and came to an Indian camp at the mouth of Illinois River. The whole camp jumped into the river and swam across. From the opposite side they commenced firing on us. We returned the fire.
We did not know what to make of it, as we expected to meet a command here and get supplies, as we were out of flour and had nothing but our beef cattle on foot.
We found the huts of the Indians full of everything, flour, sugar, coffee, and such supplies as a trader's store on the frontier had. Our guide explained it by saying the Indians had plundered the miners' camp after driving off the miners as they had heard from the north of Rogue River. One or two of our men were wounded.
I was on rear guard and did not see the entrance to the camp, but they came to the pack train for the howitzer, which was packed on mules.
I took this opportunity to go to where they were firing. We shot the howitzer at the opposite side of the river and came back a short distance from the river bank and camped. The men found plenty of supplies in the Indian camp. It was not a large camp, but [had] plenty of salmon and eels drying in smoke huts, and flour and sugar and coffee and clothing, apparently the whole contents of trading stores.
The men had no flour or coffee, so these things came in. The citizen guides said they had heard that the miners had poisoned their flour before they had abandoned it to the Indians. Smith told the men not to use the flour, but one of the men had cooked and eaten some. He was taking a sleep under a tree near my rear guard where I could see him. The men would come and rouse him up and ask him how he felt. He said all right. This they did several times. He got tired of being waked up and finally said the next man who waked him up would get hit with a stick.
He finally woke up and felt no bad effects from the flour he had used. The rest of the men paid no more regard to the report of poisoned flour.
We had men posted around camp some distance outside. An Indian on a hill overlooking camp shouted to a sentinel that he wanted to talk to Capt. Smith. I went out to the sentinel, who was sheltered behind some rocks, and asked the Indian what he wanted. He shouted that he wanted to talk with Capt. Smith. I told him to come into camp. He said he wanted Capt. Smith to meet him outside of camp by himself. I told him Capt. Smith would not go, but if he wanted to see Capt. Smith he would have to come to camp. He replied "Go to hell" and fired at me, but I was sheltered by a tree. I fired back at him. This ended the interview. He wanted to get Smith out and shoot him.
Some of the packers were down at the river a little way above camp and said they saw some Indians. Capt. Smith told me to take my Company "E" 4th Inf. and go and see what was the matter. He said to try and communicate with the Indians and try and see if they knew anything of any other command in this neighborhood. Dr. Crane went with me.
I deployed some skirmishers and went myself a little in advance to see if I could see the Indians and call to them and get them to talk. Just out of camp was a little ravine then an even rolling bottom and at a short distance another brushy ravine. As we raised the open space [i.e., came to the top of the rise], in front of me about 30 yds. up rose an Indian with his gun. He was looking to his left and front. He had on a very dirty shirt hanging loose and a very long gun.
When I called to him he brought his gun around to fire at me. I threw myself on the ground, and his shot went over me. I went to jump up and another shot whizzed over me from another Indian. I rolled over under cover of the ridge and jumped up and called to the men to charge.
Our skirmishers had commenced firing and we rushed forward, but we saw no more Indians and did not see these again. The sentinel on the hill to our right said there were but two or three Indians. One of my men was slightly wounded, I guess by one of the shots fired at me. We got a supply of flour and smoked fish and other things out of the Indian camp, but we had no other supplies except some beef cattle.
Capt. Smith concluded no command had been sent up Rogue River and [that he] must put into Port Orford to communicate with Col. Buchanan's command and get supplies. We moved up Rogue River a short distance to where the banks were favorable for ferrying across. We had no boats and concluded to try and raft. We built a raft and put it in, but the current was swift and when they attempted to check the raft against the current it would go under and the water would wash you off the raft. It was raining, as it did almost every day. Capt. Smith, Crane and I were under a shelter made by the pauline I had brought along to cover the commissary store. I had also brought along as quartermaster some tools, augers, drawing knives and hatchets and axes.
Capt. Smith was talking about getting across the river the next day and said we must cross if we had to go over in a tent. I noticed the pauline we were under was bagging above us and held a quantity of water, and did not leak though. It struck me at once we could make a frame of a boat and cover it with the pauline. I said we would cross the river in the tent we were under. Smith thought I was making fun of him, but I said the pauline would hold water and it would keep water out, stretched over a frame.
I called up the citizen guides, who were handy men, and a couple of soldiers who were also somewhat accustomed to handle carpenter tools, and explained to them what was wanted and drew the form of a frame of a flat-bottomed boat about 12 feet long and 8 feet wide and 2 feet deep, the ends slanting so as to give less resistance in pushing the boat through the water.
The men worked all night, and early next morning the frame was ready to stretch the canvas on. The canvas was then stretched and lashed tight.
We put the boat in the water and it was light and buoyant and would carry as many as could comfortably get into it. Smith was delighted. While we were working about the boat in the morning, they saw an Indian across the river some distance below. While we were at work, a shot came across the river and made quite a stampede. I immediately opened fire and launched our boat and sent some men across.
The Indians ran off. No one was hurt. A line was stretched across and the boat pulled from one side to the other with our stores and men. I stayed with a guard on the east side to guard that bank until all was over. I gradually drew in the men until only a small load was left. Then I drew into the bank and hurried down and into the boat and over the river.
We soon saw some Indians up the river watching and shortly after they commenced firing at us, but our men were already posted so as to observe the opposite side and kept them back in the bushes.
We fired the howitzer into the bushes--I was in charge of the howitzer--and several shots came very close, but fortunately did no harm, as our men kept them back from the bank, so they could not get a good shot.
We packed up and left the river and saw no more of the Indians. It had been told us it would not rain after April 1 on the west side of the Coast Range, but it rained every day for six weeks.
After we got over the range, we were all wet all the time. One day it was drizzling and snowing, so foggy we could not see the lay of the country and did not know how to travel, so Smith concluded to camp. We were in a rage [sic] and had to go over a mile to get a space large enough to camp on. The ground was covered with wet, slippery snow. It was a disagreeable job to get down a steep hill with dead brush. One would slip on a stick and his feet would slip from under him along the wet stick under the snow and go flat on his back.
We found at last a space large enough to crowd a camp on. Everyone was wet and cold and grumbling. Crane and I were under the pauline, thrown over a limb of a fallen tree, trying to start a fire with some dry pieces of wood we got in a hollow log. The matches were hard to strike. We had secured a piece of dry paper out of the medicine [blank], and finally got a little fire to burn.
All at once, a voice sang out as bright and cheery as at a concert. "I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls" etc. I looked out and saw one of the soldiers mounted on a log. He sang as joyfully as if he was happy. The whole camp burst out in a shout of laughter, and all gloom and wretchedness seemed to vanish, and laughter and jokes filled the camp. Soon the fires were started and the camp kettles were at work and the men built shelters and seemed as happy as larks.
After several days we came in sight of the ocean. The question was, where were we--above or below Port Orford. One day after leaving Rogue River, we came on some pieces of camp equipage, tent poles, pans, etc. There were no trails or any signs of the country ever having been traveled. One of the men of the command said the things were abandoned by Lt. Stoneman 1st Dragoons who was sent out to find a route to Rogue River, but had got lost and abandoned part of his packs, as his mules had gotten worn out, some years before.
Finally after coming in sight of the ocean the guides recognized the coast, as there were three rocky peaks on the coast known as the "Three Sisters" some miles below Port Orford. We went down to the coast and struck a trail running along the shore from Port Orford to [the] mouth of Rogue River. We finally reached Port Orford and found that Col. Buchanan and his command were at the mouth of Rogue River.
Lt. Macfeely was commissary officer and Dr. Glisan, surgeon at Port Orford, as depot for the expedition. We got supplies, read the latest news and started for the mouth of Rogue River.
There was only a pack mule trail along the river and along a small creek for some distance, which we had to cross some 16 or 18 times, the men having to wade.
We finally reached the camp at Rogue River, wet and disgusted with the weather especially, as we had been promised good weather on the coast.
We found Col. Buchanan, Capt. Ord, Capt. Reynolds--Artillery--and Capt. Augur 4th Inf. Lt. Chandler of my class was Act. Adj. Genl.
An expedition of Capt. Reynolds and his company was sent up the river as a reconnaissance. I went along and slept in Reynolds' tent. We were only gone two or three days. We got news of a pack train and Capt. DeLancey Floyd [DeLancey Floyd-Jones], who had started from Crescent City. He had to cross several streams, especially the Chetco--quite a stream--about 30 miles from the mouth of Rogue River.
Capt. Ord and company was ordered to Chetco to guard the crossing from the north side, as it was apprehended the Indians would oppose his crossing. We started and reached Chetco, and sure enough there was quite a large party of Indians waiting on the north side for Jones' party. We took after them and they fled up the river. They had some canoes and a large whaleboat. We chased them and ran the canoes ashore and we got some shots at them. Hunting them up in the brush, several were shot. They fought with guns and bows and arrows.
Just in front of me in the bushes, behind a log, an Indian in a red blanket started up, and one of the men fired. The Indian fell. I ran up and pulled the blanket off and found it was a woman shot through the body and killed. We were very sorry it was a woman, but I saw the shot and knew the man could not tell, as she was in the line when the shots came from the Indians. An artillery sergt. gave the man a scolding, but I told him the man was not to blame and not to take too many chances.
This sergeant was hunting through the brush near the river and came on an Indian concealed; he hesitated to shoot till he got up close. The Indian let go an arrow and shot the sergeant in the body. The brush was in his way and he could not get his gun in position to fire. He jumped and grappled the Indian; each tried to get out their knives and in struggling got into the river, which was very shallow, not over their knees.
He called for help and several men ran up; one took a stone in his hand and not letting it go struck the Indian on the head and stunned him. They killed him, but the sergeant was mortally wounded and died soon after.
I was with the pack train when Ord in front discovered the Indians. He was down by the river and I saw the Indians making [their way] up the river. I took my party and struck across this, made them abandon the river, and the party was caught in the brush [and] could not get across. Capt. Jones came up on the opposite side of the river, and the Indians scattered in the mountains.
The Indian the sergeant killed had on a very valuable belt made of woodpecker heads and bills (very valuable among the Indians) and shells, cowrie and cellingnel [sic--dentalium?] which go as money among the Indians. He was a fine-looking fellow and must have been a chief.
We buried the sergeant by the side of a little creek where we camped and corralled the mules, so the grass was in the corral, in order to let the mules tramp the grass and the ground around and conceal the grave, to prevent the Indians from digging him up.
We got the canoes and whaleboat and fixed it up, as the Indians had knocked a hole in it, and then ferried Capt. Jones and his party with packs over the river. The mules swam over.
We came back to Rogue River and joined the command. I made another expedition with my company 4th Inf. down the coast, but saw no Indians.
I had as my guard a Cant. Fisher, an old sailor who lived at Port Orford. As we went down the coast we crossed Pistol River and forded it, the men taking off their pants, the water being about waist deep.
When we came back, before we got to Pistol River, a little distance [away], Fisher took off his pants and was walking alone ahead of the command. I was riding a mule and could see over the crest of the sand, along the shore towards the land. When we got to where the river was, I saw the late storm which we had after we had crossed Pistol River going south had washed in the sand and blocked up the river.
It had very little current and was like a bayou for some distance back. The sand had been washed into the mouth so as to block up the bayou, and it looked to one walking along the shore as any other part of the beach. After we had passed the river, or where it had entered the ocean, I asked Fisher what he had taken off his pants for. He said, "You will see directly." I said, "What will we see? It isn't decent traveling along before the column almost naked." He said we would all have to undress to ford Pistol River. I told him we had passed Pistol River. He looked at me in a dazed, foolish kind of way. I told him to run up on the crest of the sand toward the land and look back, and he could see the river on the other side of the beach, towards the land. He went and looked, and saw he was fooled. The men ran him almost to death about undressing to ford Pistol River.
We came back to camp and got up our supplies from Port Orford, and the rains having stopped, we set off up Rogue River. Capt. Ord with his company came in sight of a camp of Indians and saw a house on the edge of a little prairie. Some men started for the house, but as they came near they were fired on from the brush. Ord charged the brush and drove the Indians into the river and across. They were met on the other side by a company of volunteer citizens who killed several. Ord's men killed several and broke up their camp.
We reached a point on the river a short distance below the mouth of Illinois, where we made a camp. Here we heard the Upper Rogue River Indians (the Shastas) under Old John were not far above, also that a large party of volunteer citizens were up the river. Word was sent to the Indians to come in and have a council.
Old John and his party, Limpy and other chiefs of the Upper Rogue River came and camped near us in the hills.
Col. Buchanan called a council, built a large awning of boughs on a bench of land above the camp. He had all the officers present and the Indian chiefs, some 8 or 10. He had a long talk, told them they must give up and go on a reservation at Grand Ronde Valley up in the Willamette Valley, that these were the terms, or we would fight them until we would make them go. They did not come to any terms the first day of the council.
Next morning we were to have another council. I saw the Indians were not in a good humor when they met. They had had a council among themselves the night before. I also saw there were no women or children about camp, as there always were when peacefully disposed. I was sitting next to Limpy, one of the chiefs; he had a knife and kept throwing it into the ground. I also saw the other Indians coming around the council with their arms. I asked Limpy in Chinook what was the matter with the Indians. He said they were "sullix"--mad. I did not like the situation, no officers in camp, all at the council, the Indians mad and gathering around.
I got up, went down to my company and told the 1st sergeant to look out, as I thought we were going to have trouble, all the officers were at the council and the Indians were mad and told him to warn the other 1st sergeant and be ready in case of trouble.
While talking with him an orderly came and said Col. Buchanan wanted to see me. I went up and he asked me by whose authority I had left the council. I told him I went down to warn the companies to be ready for trouble with the Indians. He said, "What do you mean?" I said the Indians were mad and were collecting around armed, and no women or children were seen around in camp or the council grounds, and I expected they would fall on the officers and massacre them, that I was perfectly sure they intended to do so. He had been talking very sternly to them, and they had been sulky and impudent in their replies. He looked around and seemed to take in the situation. He asked who was officer of the day. One of the officers said he was. He said, "Go and get your guard and bring them to the council grounds." He went out and brought the guard.
When the Indians saw we were suspicious of them and saw their game, they gradually walked off until there were none left. We heard a great noise in the woods above the camp on a still higher bench of land behind the council grounds. My Indian boy who could understand and our interpreter said it was the Indians quarreling among themselves about attacking us. Old John and his party wanted to attack and the others opposed [it], as their plan of a surprise had failed.
Buchanan ordered all the officers to form their companies and be prepared for an attack. The wrangling among the Indians grew fainter as they moved farther off from camp.
In a day or two, the Indians said they wanted another talk. This time more precautions were taken against a surprise. They said if Col. Buchanan would send Capt. Smith and the companies (90 men) from Ft. Lane up [to] the Big Bend of Rogue River, the Upper Rogue River Indians would come on and surrender. This was agreed to.
The Big Bend of Rogue River was a few miles above our camp. Our command was wanting supplies, and a pack train was sent to Port Orford under a company and another was sent out to guard against an attack from the Lower Rogue River Indians. These two companies were under Reynolds and Capt. Smith's command of "C" 1st Drag., and "E" 4th Inf. started for the Big Bend. This left Augur's and Jones' two cos. 4th Inf. in camp.
After the last council, my Indian boy came to me and asked if a couple of cousins of his--Indian boys--could stay with him until the Indians came in. Their friends were not with the hostiles. I said yes, as I wanted them to get information what the feelings of the hostile Indians were.
BATTLE OF BIG BENDSmith's command went up to Big Bend, taking along a citizen guide. We had very few mules as packs; all the available mules had been sent to Port Orford for supplies with Capt. Ord's company.
It was raining when we got to Big Bend. The Indians did not come in as promised, said they were collecting their people. The Lower Rogue River Indians were told to keep below the camp until after the surrender of the Upper Rogue Rivers.
While we were waiting at Big Bend, I told the two Indian boys to go to the camp of the Upper Rogue Rivers and see what was the matter and come and tell me. They went off and next day came back and said the Indians had had a big council and would not surrender. The boys also told me the Indians had been waiting for the Lower [Rogue] River Indians to join them, that they were coming to their camp, and it had been decided to attack us next morning, pretending to come in to surrender.
Two Indian women came to our camp from the Shastas. I asked my boy Bob what they wanted, if they might not be spies. He said they were his sisters and were tired of running about in the mountains and wanted to go to their parents, who were with the peaceable Indians at Ft. Lane. He said, "Do you think my sisters would try to have you killed, who saved my life from the massacre last spring?"
This convinced me the Indians had determined to fight before surrendering. I told Capt. Smith what I had found out. We were camped in a grove by the river. The opposite bank commanded our camp. The hills were in rifle range and a bad place for defense.
Smith told me to hunt a place where we could make a good defense. I looked around and selected the top of the ridge, which was narrow, with a depression and very steep at the end, and on the west and east side it was open to the river, with no cover for the Indians.
The ridge was narrow on the north end of the position and was not commanded by any ground in the neighborhood. We had sent our pack mules back to camp. We had a mountain howitzer. It was decided to move camp in the night. Everything was packed up, so the men could carry the provisions, blankets, etc. and draw the howitzer after dark.
We started. I was ahead to guide the command. It was very dark, and we had to keep close to each other in single file. I could see the outline of the crest of the hill and had kept in mind a large tree on the summit that stood alone near the spot I had selected. I had watched the outline as it grew dark and had taken the bearings.
A path ran up the bottom land, and when I got opposite the tree on the hill I turned to the left, direct for the tree. This made a sharp turn in our route.
We had decided to make as little noise as possible. After going on up the hill for some time, I heard someone calling out; they had lost the way. I passed the word back, and the men in [the] rear called out where we were. The column had parted at the turn of our route to the left. The party in rear had gone on straight ahead. After considerable delay and noise, we got our party closed up.
The howitzer caused considerable delay, as it was hard work dragging it along. Finally we all reached the top of the hill and all lay down to sleep.
The top of the range was the most level of the ground, so it was the most occupied. We had sentinels out on the ridge. At daylight we got breakfast. There was a spring a little way down the side of the ridge, next [to] the river. We got water there.
After daylight some Indians came into camp. I told Smith they were Lower Rogue River Indians, except two who were Illinois that I had taken prisoners the spring before, where they had killed the miners on the trail to Applegate.
I asked the Indians who they belonged to; they said "Limpy's party." Limpy the chief was lame and hence called Limpy. I told them they did not, but were Lower Rogue River Indians.
Smith told me to send them out of camp and tell them no Indians were allowed in except the chiefs. I put sentinels on the ridge to the north, the only approach to our position. I also put the Indian boys near the sentinels to tell the Indians who came that only the chiefs would be allowed to come into camp.
The Indians continued to collect on the ridge in the woods beyond the camp. Our citizen guide was out with the guards.
The Indians got noisy and talked in a loud, angry tone. At last a shot was fired and shooting commenced. The guide was shot in the chin and his jaw crushed. He was just in front of me; he turned around, holding his chin up with his hand and tried to say something, but I could not understand him.
The Indians ran back and took shelter; our men fell back and lay down behind the ridge. The Indians had a loud harangue, and [were] shouting and firing at our position, the men firing back.
The Indians collected in a depression a short distance from our line and came on with a yell, expecting that we would run, I presume, but as they came in sight, out of the ravine, our men rose up and fired and they [the regulars] charged.
The Indians ran back to the ridge that commanded a slight ravine between us. At the ridge they poured in a volley, and our men fled back under cover of our ridge. This was kept up during the day, the Indians yelling and charging into the ravine in our front to get us to charge back and shoot our men from the ridge beyond the ravine.
We found we were losing too many men, and as they were too numerous and would scatter in the brush and rocks, from which to try to dislodge them would be impossible with our small command, so we stopped charging them and only fired when they exposed themselves.
When night came on the firing ceased and the body of the Indians drew off, but a large number kept around the position. The men had left a number of their blankets on the ridge, and our Indian boys crept out and got some. My boy Bob with another was after some blankets and were fired on by the Indians. The other boy ran in and said Bob was killed. The boys had armed themselves with the arms and cartridge boxes of killed men.
We had some 25 killed and wounded the first day. The boys fought as bravely as any of the party. I and Crane consulted about our situation and concluded we could not hold all our postilion the next day, [so] we went to Smith and talked with him. He said to do what we thought best and fix up.
There was a log and we got a fatigue party and moved the log across the crest of the hill, rolled up the blankets in a roll and put them in line. We had a spade the men had brought along to dig a trench for their cook fire. The cook was found and he said the spade was on the ridge where Bob had been killed. Two men had used the spade at two cook fires, and they were not certain which one it was at. They were a little timorous about going after the spade, so Crane and I said we would go with them. We crawled towards the places. We had hold of the men's legs, with our pistols ready to fire at any Indian we might come across, creeping up to our position.
My man got to the place where he had cooked breakfast and felt around for some time. At last he got hold of the spade. The face of the hill just over the ridge was very steep; anyone coming up had to climb by holding onto roots and brush.
The Indians would crawl up and try to get the blankets on the crest of the ridge. They would reach over with sticks and try to pull them over, and throw stones over the ridge into our position on the opposite side that was not so steep. When our men heard one he would fire, so each party had to keep under cover.
When we got the spade, we started to spade up the ground in rear of the line of blankets and log and throw it over and on top of the breastwork, so as to lower the ground in rear and raise it in front.
I divided the working party into reliefs, as many as could use the tools. We had one spade and as many cups and plates as could keep the spade busy. I had noncommissioned officers in charge of each relief, so that those who were not working could sleep. I gave directions what was to to be done and lay down and was soon fast asleep. When I woke, day was breaking. I was delighted with the work they had done. Dr. Crane had superintended the work part of the night.
When you stood up, the work did not look as [of] much account, but when you lay down you found it protected all the ground in [the] rear, as the ground sloped from the breastwork, and it did not require much to protect the ground in rear from the front, so that standing 50 or 75 yards [away] you could see nothing beyond the breastworks.
I went to Capt. Smith and told him we were ready with our defense. He told the men to come and get behind the work. He had not seen it and came to where it was. He had not critically examined the work and [said] it looked like it was [of] no account and said it was no good.
The men, however, lay down in rear and saw it was a perfect protection. He said he would occupy his old position and ordered his men back. The men went back, but did not like to remain out, as they were more or less exposed, especially as we had had no many men hurt that they had more ground to guard per man.
Smith heard the men talking and came to take another look. I explained to him what we tried to do, asked him to go in rear and lie down or kneel in rear of the work. He tried it and said it was better than it looked standing up in front and said it would do some good. He went and ordered his men behind the work.
We all lay down or sat up a little farther back, as the ground sloped back. Several men were in the rifle pits in front. We were getting out of water, as it took a good deal for the wounded. It was death for our men to go down the side of the hill, as there was no shelter. The two Indian women said they would go. They took a camp kettle apiece and started off. The Indians yelled at them, but could not come after them, and the friends of the women would not let them shoot at them. We had an exciting time, our men shooting at any Indians who showed themselves.
The girls ran down to the spring, filled the camp kettles, and as they were big and heavy, came slowly back into our position. The Indians were evidently taken by surprise, as they could not see us, and finally crawled up to our old position but on showing themselves over the old crest we let them have some shots.
They climbed up in the trees, but the trees were not big enough to protect the whole of their bodies. We soon stopped that business. They collected in the old ravine in front of our old position and came on with a yell, but as soon as they showed themselves our fire sent them back.
They would be quiet for a long time. We could hear them shouting, and they would call out to us to come on, that they would hang us and [asked] if we didn't want water. We would call to them and say they were cowards and afraid to come and fight us. The day before, when we were charged, there would be great shouting on both sides. Our men would shout, "Why don't you stand up and fight." There would on the second day be long intervals without any shouting.
One of our men, a sergeant, was shot in the rifle pits in front, and one was wounded who was standing in rear, down the hill a little ways, but slightly. We thought it was from an Indian a long way off in the trees.
During the night, we could see the Indians who had drawn off to the river, where they built a fire and had a war dance. They made a great noise, shouting and beating their drums and dancing--getting ready for their next day's fight.
The men had a big bulldog that when the fight commenced and there was yelling and charging, the Indians [yelling and charging] back--when they made their rushes, he would run out with the men and bark and be very brave. Finally one of the Indians shot and wounded him. He came yelling back but did not stop in camp, but kept on down the hill, limping along. When the firing would cease, he would go slow and put up his tail; when the firing and yelling would commence, down went his tail and he would give a yelp and try to run. Finally he disappeared in the brush.
We had sent our citizen guide to report to Col. Buchanan on the morning we came on the hill that the Indians had not come in and we had word they were going to attack us. He was to come back and join us in the evening .We did not know whether he had gotten through or not.
But about 4 o'clock the second day we were talking about what we might expect. I asked one of the Indian boys whether the Indians were not getting tired. He said he did not think so, as the sun in the west was the best time for the Indians, as they had it on their backs and he expected they would soon commence again.
Just then I saw in the woods to our right and rear, towards the river, a crowd of men and every now and then a gleam of sun reflecting from a gun barrel. I supposed it was a party of Indians, maybe Lower Rogue Rivers, on a party to try and attack us from the south side. I called Smith's attention to them. Soon we saw more men come out into the prairie and we saw they were soldiers. We knew then our guide had gotten through to Buchanan's camp and he had sent a command to see what was going on.
Our men sent up a cheer. Smith ordered the bugler to sound to the "right" to show them where we were. We also saw some Indians who had been concealed along the river, running away from them. Then we saw a line of skirmishers come out of the woods into the prairie between him and the river, and hurry along after the Indians.
Firing commenced by the skirmishers and Indians. When the skirmishers got abreast of us on the plain below, Smith ordered me to take the infantrymen and charge the Indians on the ridge in front of us. I jumped out and called to my men to follow. They jumped out and we started with a yell, along the crest of the hill. The Indians did not wait for us, but broke and ran. We followed for about a mile or so, shooting at anything that would indicate an Indian, a shot or rustling of brush.
We were joined by the skirmishers of Capt. Augur's company, who had come up. The Indians kept going. We could not tell how much injury we had done the Indians, but Augur's company had two men killed and several wounded.
Augur finally sounded the recall. I picked up the killed. It was a difficult thing to carry a dead man, not yet stiffened. I had finally to have a man take a dead man on his back and take his arm across his shoulders and carry him a short distance and then another man take him. If four men attempted to carry a dead man, they could not lift him high enough to keep his body off the ground.
While we were fighting the 1st day one of my sergeants insisted on standing up behind a tree. They could see him on the ridge when he exposed any part of his body. I told him to lie down and keep his watch along the crest and if an Indian exposed himself trying to get a shot to fire at him. He thought he had the best position. Finally an Indian crept to a position on his right along the ridge and shot him in the side.
I was watching the ridge and saw something moving. I got ready to fire when all at once a shot from the Indians made the object give a bound, and I saw it was a dog. I was sure I had an Indian and had my finger on the trigger. I was disgusted with my luck.
After drawing in our skirmishers we all went into camp on the bottom. We had, counting Augur's two men killed, some thirty men killed and wounded. I picked up several of our men who had been killed when we charged the Indians the 1st day. The Indians had hung one dead body--a young Virginian--in a tree and had mutilated him frightfully. The men were horrified and did not like to touch him, but I took hold of him and raised him up so the men could cut the rope that was tied to his neck and suspended him to a limb. We buried our dead on the ridge and carried the wounded down to our camp in the bottom near the ravine. The dog that had been wounded in the 1st day's fight came out of the brush near the river. He was wounded in one of his forelegs, near the shoulder. He was glad to see us and find the fight was over, had kept hidden in the brush, not wishing to have any more fighting.
While we were in camp a couple of days after, a woman came to camp and said Old John sent her to say the Shastas and Upper Rogue Rivers wanted to surrender. They were sent word they would be given another chance, but would have no delay. The Indians are always demoralized after the cooldown after a fight. They thought the whites would be mad for revenge, and as there was a large force of whites above them on the river and we below them, they would be hunted through the mountains. Their women and children were tired and hungry and crying.
They concluded as they could not whip our small party, they would be harassed to death with the mountains full of men hunting them. Next day they commenced coming in, and in a few days all the Upper [Rogue River] Indians were in. The Lower Rogue Rivers were told to surrender. They agreed to do so and go to Port Orford and be sent to the reservation up in northern Oregon.
TRANSPORTING WOUNDED TO PORT ORFORDThe question was how to get our wounded to Port Orford. It was finally concluded to send them down Rogue River to the mouth in canoes. I was detailed with my company 4th Inf. I was sent with a party of Indians down the river to get canoes. A large number had been brought to Buchanan's camp by the Lower Rogue River Indians.
I took a party of Indians and went on foot, about 9 miles. Was expected to take two days, but the Indians thought they would tire me out and started off on a dog-trot, but I started in the lead and kept it up and gave them a run. They concluded I was "heap good Indian--run heap--no squaw."
We got to Buchanan's and got the canoes. I put the Indians in the canoes and with a party kept along the shore to protect them from any hostile Indians in the brush. We got back to our camp the same day, much to the surprise of the command, who thought it would take us two days.
We broke up our camp. I was detailed to take the wounded in canoes to [the] mouth of Rogue River. The rest of the command went across the mountains with the rest of the Indians. The Rogue River was full of rapids and rocks, and ran in canyons with high, rocky mountains on each side.
The wounded were laid in the canoes or sat up if able, and an Indian at each end to direct the canoes. The guard was in others, with Indians to manage the canoes. We had quite a fleet. At first the guard went along the shore on a train leading down the river, but we found other canoes, and the stream was so rapid that the guard could not keep up. So as we went along we found canoes and at various points were Indians, with their families, who had surrendered and they joined us, so by the time we got to Rogue River we had a large fleet of canoes. There was one wounded volunteer, with some of his comrades to take care of him.
We finally arrived at the mouth of Rogue River and camped. We had thought we might go by sea with the canoes, but it was too rough and there was no place along the coast we could land a canoe for the surf and rocks. We concluded to make litters and carry the wounded by hand. There was a large number of cattle running at large, among them cows belonging to ranchmen and settlers who had been driven out of the country.
Wild strawberries were plentiful and delicious. Quite a number of squaws and Indian children had joined us coming down the river. I had a corral built of rails and had a number of cows driven in and milked and sent the squaws and children to gather strawberries. We had plenty of strawberries and cream.
Our camp was on the beach of the ocean. Nice, clean, white sand. An amusing accident occurred while Col. Buchanan's command was camped at this place. A short distance from the camp on the beach lay a large piece of driftwood. An old tree had been thrown up. A picket of three men was stationed at night at this point. Two would sleep while the other man watched. One of the men was lying in his blanket behind this drift. The tide ordinarily would not reach this drift, which had been thrown up in a storm, but this night there was a very high tide. The drift was lying perpendicular to the line of the shore, and as the tide came up it lifted up one end of the drift. The man's leg slipped under the log, and when the water receded, in one of the swashes of the tide [it] let the log down on his leg.
He woke up with alarm, thought the Indians had caught him. He yelled bloody murder. The sentinel fired off his gun, and the whole camp was in an uproar. It was soon found out what was the matter and the log lifted off the man's leg.
It was a terrible job to carry the wounded along the narrow trails, very steep and crooked and rocky in places. Brush Creek had to be crossed 16 or 18 times. It was about thirty miles to Port Orford. It took us several days.
Before we reached Port Orford we met a party sent out to see what had become of us, as a report had reached camp we had been attacked by hostile Indians, but they found us all right, never dreaming of danger. We finally reached camp, and our wounded were put in the hospital. Several died and were buried in the cemetery.
There were all sorts of reports about revolts among the Indians we had in camp going to break out, etc., etc., but nothing happened. It was finally determined to send the Indians up to the Grand Ronde Reservation, and the Ft. Lane party [of soldiers] would go to Crescent City and take the Crescent City trail to the Rogue River Valley.
We marched to Crescent City and had a good time there. They gave us a ball and we returned to Ft. Lane by the trail; there was no wagon road. On reaching Ft. Lane we found orders to break up Ft. Lane, and "C" Troop would go to Grand Ronde to build a post. Capt. Underwood and company 4th Inf. had remained at Ft. Lane and would stay and dismantle the post.
The company of the 4th Inf. I had commanded on the expedition was turned over to Lt. Chandler of the Artillery at Port Orford, and went up the country with the Indians. One of the men got off a joke on Chandler. One of the packers asked one of the company how they were getting along. He said they were thrown around like an old shoe, first one had them and then another, and now they were turned over to a damned "soop biler," meaning Chandler.
I was quartermaster and commissary officer at Ft. Lane and had to turn over my property to Lt. Hazen. I had been in the field and had not been able to make out my papers that year, 1855 [the fiscal year; the events of this memoir take place in 1856]. We had started in the 1st quarter and it was now in the 3rd quarter. Our commissary sergeant had deserted while we were gone, and my quartermaster sergeant had to go with Company "C" 1st Drag. Capt. Underwood gave me a man who understood the papers, and I went to work and took an inventory of all property on hand and accounted for all that had been used up. Had boards of survey for worn-out property and had them condemned. I got everything straightened. None of my papers were returned with "statements of deficiencies" from Washington. When I got through I left all my household effects standing in my room, mounted a mule and started to join my Company "E" 1st Dragoons at Ft. Walla Walla, Washington Territory, to which company I had been promoted 1st Lieutenant.
The remaining ten pages cover Sweitzer's journey to Fort Walla Walla, his service there, his leave to the East Coast in 1858 and return, and an 1859 wagon road expedition scouting a route from The Dalles to Salt Lake. There the typed transcription ends, with a comment that the original continues to the "Civil War days."
Southern Oregon Historical Society, MS 981.
A CANVAS BOAT.
The "waterside" citizens of Georgetown were on Tuesday last a good deal gratified by witnessing the performances of a canvas boat, recently patented by an officer of the army, Col. R. C. Buchanan. When the singular craft was first presented to our view it had the appearance of a huge canvas bag inflated; on being opened, the only thing it contained were a jointed framework, a few pieces of thin board, and an additional piece of canvas. In less than fifteen minutes, these things being properly put together, we saw a safe and convenient little boat afloat upon the river, in which some half-dozen gentlemen crossed and re-crossed the Potomac. The novelty and usefulness of this invention made a decided impression upon all the spectators present, and our inquiries resulted in obtaining the following particulars:
When, in the early part of 1856, General Wool sent a military force from California to quell the Indian disturbances on Rogue River, in Oregon, he assigned to Col. Buchanan the command of the expedition. The difficulties encountered by the troops in those wild countries were very trying, and for awhile, on account of the many rivers that had to be crossed, the Indians with their light canoes had a great advantage. To remedy this, Col. Buchanan set his wits to work, and resorting for the chief material to one of his tents, and assisted by a carpenter and two sailor-soldiers, he produced a portable boat, to which may be attributed the speedy close of the Rogue River Indian War. And what is still more remarkable, the section of country which the boat was virtually the means of subduing is at this moment settled by several thousand industrious and intelligent white men.
The canvas boats invented and employed by Col. Buchanan have been made of various dimensions, but it is said that a specimen eighteen feet long, eight feet wide and eighteen inches deep can convey with safety over a rapid river no less than thirty men with all their arms and equipage, and the total weight of a boat of this size is not greater than can be carried over plains or mountains upon the backs of two mules. Officers of high rank in the army have pronounced this invention one of vast importance as a military ponton, while men of experience in the navy have expressed the opinion that it might be employed with advantage as a kind of lifeboat at sea. To emigrating and pioneering companies it would be extremely convenient, and greatly enhance the pleasures of a journey into the wilderness, and as to the brotherhood of sportsmen, both of the rod and the gun, their interest in it is such that they might well hold a convention to thank Col. Buchanan for the benefit he has conferred on them.
Richmond Whig, Richmond, Virginia, June 2, 1857, page 4 Buchanan later patented a knapsack.
LAUNCH OF THE NEW LIFE-BOAT.--There was quite a crowd present yesterday morning to witness the launch of this aquatic lifesaving invention, projected by Commandant Buchanan while in pursuit of the Indians in Oregon last year, when he was compelled continually to cross the Rogue River. The experiment yesterday was of a most satisfactory character; the boat glided gracefully into the water, upon which it rode like a duck. Sergeant Johnson officiated as coxswain, and there was a crew of fifteen soldiers, although she can easily carry forty-five persons. She was rowed across the Ohio River and back, and her seaworthiness otherwise tested, to the satisfaction of all on board. She is, as we stated yesterday, 18 feet in length by 8 in width, and drew, with her human freight, only 2½ inches. Her weight is 385 pounds. The Commandant has already procured a patent for his craft.--Cin. Com.
Daily Nashville Patriot, September 30, 1857, page 1
HONORS CARRIED OFF.--Capt. Tichenor, of this state, in the Indian war on Rogue River in 1856, invented a portable boat. Its frame was light, and the covering was canvas. It could all be carried by a mule, and would sustain ten men in crossing rivers. Col. R. C. Buchanan, of the U.S. Army, went on to Washington and took out a patent for it. Capt. Tichenor was left out in the cold. That boat is now deemed of great value in the military service.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, December 4, 1861, page 2
Last revised May 6, 2017