Rogue River Indian War 1851
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SMITH'S RIVER, OREGON, June 8, 1851.We arrived here on the 4th inst. from Scott's River Bar via the Klamath River. We were on our way down to Trinidad to follow the Klamath River down as far as Capt. Tompkin's ferry, about 35 miles from its mouth, where we accidentally discovered a creek emptying into the Klamath and a good trail running alongside the banks of it. We followed the trail for about 5 miles, when we overtook a party of 39 men with 50 packed mules and horses bound up the creek. They were under the command of a Mr. Hardy, and had just come across the Siskiyou Mountains near Rogues River. They had an Indian guide with them whom they had picked up on a ranch near the Klamath River, who informed them that there was a party of men digging on a river or creek about three days travel from where they then were, and that if they wished it, he would show them where the place was. The party agreed to pay him well for it, and provided to protect him on the way and send him back with a safe escort whenever he wished to return to his ranch. He seemed to be quite an intelligent Indian, spoke a few words of English and said that he understood the language of the various tribes on the Klamath River, and also the language of the Rogue River tribe. Capt. Hardy's party finally agreed to take him and were on their way to this place when we overtook them. After leaving the creek, which we called Indian Creek, we traveled a short distance over a very rocky and broken country with a gradual ascent. This finally brought us to a very high mountain which we commenced ascending about the middle of the day; it took us about 3 hours steady traveling to reach the summit of this mountain which was partly covered with snow and large rocks. We had a fine view of the surrounding country from the top of this mountain. We saw several rivers and creeks rushing in different directions; the hills and mountain adjacent were covered with snow, while below us was a beautiful valley apparently 10 miles distant, covered with a coat of grass as green as an emerald. We also saw the ocean in the distance with a thick cloud of fog hanging over it. We remained on the summit for a few moments to enjoy the beauty of the scene, which was truly magnificent. We commenced descending the mountain about 2 p.m., and towards dark we encamped on a small plateau covered with beautiful grass and a growth of small oak timber, where we encamped for the night. There is a small creek, which we named Evans' Creek, running along the edge of this spot, which empties into Smith's River. We traveled along the banks of this creek for about two miles through a forest of small oak trees and thick brush, when the valley which we had seen from the top of the mountain, broke full upon our view. This is one of the finest valleys that I have ever seen. It is about 20 miles long, with an average width of one mile. It was completely covered with beautiful grass and flowers of every variety, and completely shut in by a belt of fine timber. The snow-capped mountains in the distance contrasted with the color of the ground beneath us, reminded us of the lines of our postal friend Theo. Wright Titus, Esq., in his description of the scenery in the vicinity of Terra del Fuego:
"------ 'tis strange to seeWe traveled on through the valley for some time, and passed several places where there had been Indian ranches, but we could see no Indians about, although we saw a great many signs which led us to believe that there must be a great many in the vicinity of the road we were traveling. In this particular we were not entirely mistaken, for a few miles further on, after crossing Evans' Creek, we found nine ranches, and about fifty Indians, of both sexes. Many of the men were armed with government rifles and Hudson's Bay guns, pistols, &c., and the balance of them with bows and arrows. Those who had guns were parading up and down in front of their houses, with their guns on their shoulders, apparently much at home in the use of them. One or two of them seemed to be keeping guard when our party rode up and dismounted. We looked at one or two of their rifles, which were well loaded and capped, and every owner of a gun had his shot pouch and powder horn well filled. There was one fellow who had a very handsome Mississippi rifle, which we tried to get hold of to examine, but he held on to it pretty tightly, and we could not get a fair look at it. It turned out afterwards that this gun, together with three mules, a lot of blankets, &c., hail been stolen from a party of miners, who had passed that village but a few days before. When our party, consisting of six persons, arrived at this village, we found Capt. Hardy's party (39 men), examining the Indians' guns, and apparently trying to trade with them for skins, &c., for which the Indians demanded powder and shot, and which we were told, some of the whites very foolishly gave them in exchange for some deer skins. Our party held a consultation among ourselves, as to whether it would not be good policy to take the arms away from the Indians, but after consulting with a few men of Capt. Hardy's party, who expressed their dissatisfaction as to the course, we finally decided to let them keep them for the present, but if, on our return from the Klamath River, they should show them, and act as saucily as they do this day, we intended to try and take their guns away from them. After remaining at the ranch a few minutes, we started off down the valley. We found that a large number of Indians from the village were following us; they had guns, bows and arrows, &c., and a few of them were on horseback. About fifteen miles from the ranch we saw a lot of wagons, &c., and a lot of men, apparently encamped. Just before reaching them, a half-breed Indian rode out to us on horseback, and told the Indian guide of Capt. Hardy's party that he must go back with the Indians who had followed us from the village, or else they would all be shot. Shortly after this, three or four white men came charging out on us, with their rifles ready, cocked and primed. At first we thought they were going to commence war on us immediately, but we found out after a while that they were Captain J. B. Long, Commandant, and three privates of the Shasta volunteers, which were raised to chastise the Rogue River Indians. They wanted to take the guns away from the Indians, but Captain Hardy's patty objected to this; said they were friendly Indians, and that they would be responsible for any offenses the Indians might commit during their stay in camp. After a long parley, the Indians were allowed to come into camp, on consideration that their guns should be taken away from them and held by the whites until the next morning, when they were to be given back to the Indians, provided they would promise to return to the villages immediately thereafter. They finally consented to do so, and they were brought into camp, and placed under guard for the night. During the night we learned that one of the Indians who stole the rifle from the party of miners mentioned above was in camp, and it was agreed among the white men that none of the guns should be given back to the Indians in the morning until the stolen rifle was returned. The Indians promised to go and get the rifle, and left the camp apparently for that purpose. He did not return again, and of course the rifle was not forthcoming. The guns, however, had been delivered to the Indians by Capt. Hardy's party. The next morning Major Pearsall, the owner of the rifle, together with Captain Long, of the Shasta volunteers, and two or three others, without arms, went over to the other side of the gulch, where the Indians were encamped, for the purpose of trying to get back the rifle. The Indians, seeing that the white men had no guns with them, became very saucy, and, encouraged by the treatment of Captain Hardy's party towards them, whom they thought no doubt would protect them, began to shout and flourish their guns about, and finally seized hold of Capt. Long, and tried to get him off from the others, which was for the purpose of shooting him. The whites, seeing this, crowded around Capt. Long, and a few of them went after their guns so as to be prepared in case of an attack. On their return to where Captain Long and the Indians were, one of the white men discovered an Indian in the bushes, with his rifle cocked, taking deliberate aim at Capt. L. He informed Capt. L. of this, who immediately changed his position, and the Indian lowered his gun. A few minutes after this, another Indian sneaked off in the bushes and fired his rifle, the ball passing over the heads of the white men standing in a crowd around Capt. Long. The rest of the Indians then retired. The whites then commenced firing, and the Indians kept backing out and firing from behind trees, pursued by the whites. Both parties kept up a running fire in this way, for about half an hour, until the whites found that it was impossible to catch the Indians, so they gave up the chase. They found four dead Indians on their way back, and it is supposed several were wounded, but managed to get off before the others could reach them. None of the whites were hurt. There were about thirty Indians and ten white men engaged in this fight.
The grass so near de snow,"
P.S.--We have discovered good diggings on a creek emptying into this river which yields on an average about fifty cents per pan. We have named the creek after the Hon. E. Gilbert, your confrere. Capt. Long left here this morning with twenty-seven recruits for his company, on Rogue's River Ferry. T.J.R.
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, July 2, 1851, page 2
The Governor of Oregon to the President.
Oregon City, O.T., June 13, 1851.Sir: I look the liberty of addressing you on the 10th of April last upon the subject of the removal of troops from this Territory, and as I am now compelled to revert to the same subject, I beg leave to quote some passages from that communication. I therein stated that the Indians inhabiting the mountain ranges dividing Oregon from California have been long and notoriously among the most treacherous and untamed of the West, and the number of emigrants and miners robbed and murdered by them has been and continues to be great. The establishment of a permanent and strong military post, either upon the Umpqua, the Klamath or Rogue River, which it was hoped would this year be effected, is an object of great importance to the Territory at all times, and is rendered doubly so now that a great part of our small population has again departed for the mines upon the Klamath. The report, which will be known by those Indians before it even reaches the whites, that the troops have been recalled from the territory, may produce the most disastrous effects--disastrous not merely in their immediate results, but as creating an idea of want of purpose or a want of power in the American government.
"Again, in regard to the incoming emigration, the presence of these troops was calculated to keep in check all the tribes upon Snake River and Upper Columbia, some of whom are of very uncertain temper and well disposed to theft and insolence, and their withdrawal so soon following their arrival here will very certainly create unfavorable surmises."
I regret now, sir, to be compelled to inform you that in both respects these anticipations have proved well-founded. Some parties of emigrants who arrived here a few days since, having wintered at the Salt Lake, have been followed and fixed upon by the Snake Indians, and although they met with no actual loss, have ascertained a spirit to exist which may create much trouble and difficulty later in the season when broken and exhausted trains shall arrive from the States.
But upon the southern border a far more serious state of things has already manifested itself. Before this time, the attacks of the Indians have been confined for the most part to single individuals wandering from their parties, now, however, these have been not only renewed, and more frequent solitary murders, but one small party has been robbed, an armed band of thirty-five men has been driven off the field after a fight of four hours, and it is finally reported that another party of six has been cut off and killed to a man. A number of persons, citizens of intelligence and credit, have come in bringing intelligence of these affairs, they report that great excitement and a general feeling of alarm exists in the country, and the general impression is that a combination of the Indians among the mountains has taken place, for the purpose of driving the whites out of the district.
A letter from General Lane, a copy of which I enclose, conveys his sentiments upon the subject, which are the more worthy of regard from his thorough knowledge of that country and its inhabitants.
I have also received a communication from Mr. Tharp, a member of the late legislature, to the same effect, and urging the raising of a company of mounted rangers to be dispatched thither immediately.'
Under these circumstances, I believe that the government will recognize the impolicy of having stripped the country of troops at this time. There are in the whole territory of Oregon but the skeletons of two companies of artillery, and those are divided between four posts: one at Steilacoom on Puget's Sound, one at the Dalles, one at Fort Vancouver, and one at Astoria, and these are no more than sufficient to take care of the public property at those places. Neither are there any horses belonging to the government that could be obtained for the purpose.
On receiving intelligence of the Indian difficulties, I dispatched a messenger to Fort Vancouver to confer with Lieutenant Talbot and Captain Ingalls, the quartermaster, but although both these officers manifested every disposition to assist me, they were not able to leave their posts, or possessed of men or animals which could be placed at my disposition.
The late legislative assembly, although urged thereto, failed to pass any act for organizing the militia of the Territory, and no provision exists for an emergency of this nature. To call the recently elected legislature together would take up too much time at a moment when very speedy and decisive measures may be required. I shall therefore immediately proceed to the scene of disturbance, and if I find that it is necessary to organize a force to put an end to it, I shall assume the responsibility of doing so.
In the management of this business some expense will unavoidably be incurred, but I will take care that this shall be as small as possible, collecting the men as near the spot as can be done, and keeping them in service no longer than is absolutely necessary. In this step, I trust that my action will be approved by the government. I should be glad if at the earliest practicable moment funds sufficient to meet the probable expenditures should be placed at my command, with instructions how to account for the same.
I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,
JNO. P. GAINES.To the President of the United States.
Executive Documents of the Senate, First Session of the Thirty-Second Congress, 1852, vol. 1, pages 144-145
Nesmith's Mills, June 13, 1851.Dear Sir: I have met a number of persons just in from the mines, all of whom concur in saying that the Rogue River Indians have commenced war upon our people, that they have in open daylight attacked several parties, one of them thirty-five strong, and handled them roughly for four hours, and succeeded in carrying off considerable property. One other smaller party was attacked the next morning and robbed of their all, and that the Indians are collecting and organizing their forces, for the purpose of prosecuting a destructive war upon all persons who may travel in the direction of the mines.
I can say from my acquaintance with the Indians on and near Rogue River that they are numerous and warlike, and that they can, and I am fearful will, do much harm. They will cut off our trade with the mines, kill many of the whites traveling in that direction, and seriously injure the prospects and interests of the people of this Territory.
Now, sir, I feel.much inclined to the opinion that prompt measures should be taken to chastise these Indians. They will have to be punished severely before we can have security or peace in that quarter. Our people will go to the mines and they must have protection. I now think of raising a small party, say twenty or thirty men, and await in Umpqua for instructions from you, provided they could reach me in a few days. There is much feeling among the people on this subject.
I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant and friend,
JOSEPH LANE.His Excellency John P. Gaines.
Executive Documents of the Senate, First Session of the Thirty-Second Congress, 1852, vol. 1, pages 145-146
Governor Gaines to the Secretary of War.
Nesmith's Mills, Polk Co., O.T., June 19, 1851.Sir:--A few days ago I addressed the President in relation to difficulties with the Indians near the line between this territory and the state of California.
On my way to the scene of the disturbances, I have received an account of the skirmish to which I have before alluded, from Doctor McBride, who commanded the whites, and also a strong petition from a great many inhabitants urging me to afford them protection.
The Doctor's account represents the attack of the Indians as without the least provocation--their numbers from fifty to one hundred and fifty armed with guns and bows and arrows--his party about thirty men, with fifty or sixty horses, and with about fifteen guns. The conflict lasted about four hours and terminated in the whites withdrawing from the field. The attitude assumed by the Indians, and the high excitement in the public mind, will require at my hands the embodying a small force to protect the highly lucrative trade now being carried on between the territory and the miners, and save our citizens from being murdered while prosecuting their lawful pursuits. If, however, in my progress up the country I shall become satisfied that this step can be dispensed with without compromising the safety of the lives and property of our people, it will not be resorted to, but from all that I have yet learned, some steps would seem to be necessary. A company of rangers to serve six months I think would effectually put a stop to the depredations of the Indians, until some permanent arrangement can be made. In my letters to the President I have alluded to the establishment of a military post on Rogue River, and I cannot too earnestly urge the immediate adoption of these suggestions.
I hope the steps I find it necessary to take will meet the approval of the government, and that full instructions will be forwarded at your earliest convenience.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JNO. P. GAINESHon. Secretary of War, Washington City.
Executive Documents of the Senate, First Session of the Thirty-Second Congress, 1852, vol. 1, pages 146-147
War with the Indians.
Returning miners attacked by the Rogue River Indians--Dr. McBride's company--34 persons in imminent peril--5 or 6 Indians killed and as many more wounded--One white man wounded--the Indians finally repulsed--Eternal hostility declared by the Indians--Gen. Lane and Gov. Gaines gone to the scene of action.
On the first of May, Sunday, 20 miles beyond Rogue River, at the Green Willow Spring, 26 men returning to the Willamette Valley from the mines were attacked about noon by a band of Indians numbering from 150 to 300 warriors. The whites left the ground without sustaining any injury. The next day, a party of four persons were attacked, and their mules, together with their baggage and packs, were carried off by the Indians. They were recovered by a troop of soldiers, from the Shasta, on the following day--mules, baggage and packs.
On Tuesday, Dr. McBride's company, 32 persons, men and boys, were attacked; the company had only 17 guns, and the Indians had from 15 to 25. The Indians commenced firing--a brisk engagement ensued, which was kept up nearly the whole time for about four hours. During the encounter some 5 or 6 Indians were killed and as many more wounded, several of whose wounds were considered mortal. Among the killed was a chief, Chuckle Head, considered by them a great warrior. The Indians were finally repulsed, leaving their dead upon the field of action. During the fight they were beaten back several times--they would rally again and drive back the whites; but their spirits flagged when their chief fell--he was several times seen urging them on to combat with the utmost zeal and ardor, himself leading the van.
The whites had but one man, James Barlow of this city, wounded; he was struck below the hip in one of his legs by an arrow which penetrated the flesh to the bone. The arrow was immediately extracted, not, however, without considerable force. (It caused some pain for several days, but is now nearly well.) The Indians succeeded in driving off the stock and capturing the booty. The Indians have sworn eternal vengeance upon the whites--the forces are being concentrated at different points along the road. The ferry, we learn, on Rogue River, has been abandoned--the owner was unable to employ a force sufficient to protect it. It is thought that a company of less than 25 men would peril their lives in attempting to pass the road, whilst the present excitement lasts. They are implacably hostile to all white persons. A species of guerrilla warfare will doubtless be practiced upon all parties not strong enough to intimidate them.
Gen. Lane went out on Friday morning last to the scene of the hostilities, with the view of preventing the commission of further depredations upon the whites. The General is favorably known among them, and it is hoped his influence will be acknowledged by them, and the whole matter so adjusted between the whites and Indians as to prevent all similar disturbances in future. It is deemed unsafe to travel the road to the mines in small companies. Notwithstanding the late encounters, Mr. Evans and several others started from this place on Monday for the mines.
Governor Gaines has repaired to the scene of war. Permission has been asked, we learn, of the Governor, to march into their country and slay the savages wherever they can be found. The prejudice against the Indians is very strong in the mines, and is daily increasing. This permission is asked of the Governor, no doubt, to get his sanction so that another claim may be set up against the government for services in another Indian war. There are many we suppose, who, disappointed in the mines, would prefer warring to mining, if they could draw pay for their time, or obtain a grant of land. The troops have all been ordered out of the country, and we are left without proper protection. There will be great need of assistance in the East--we fear the Snake Indians are going to be troublesome to the coming immigration.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, June 19, 1851, page 2
Foul Indian Murder.
Jacob Parsons, formerly of Quincy, Ill., was killed by the Indians beyond Rogue River, in Oregon. Mr. Parsons had for some months worked at his trade, blacksmithing, in this city. Early in the spring, he started to the Klamath mines, where, by trading, he had made some money. About a month ago he returned to this city. In a conversation we had with him, we learned that it was his intention to return immediately to the mines with provisions and stores of various kinds; having procured his outfit and some eight or nine mules packed, he started again some three weeks since for the mines. He had gone along safely up to the time of the murder, and it was thought by the company generally that they were beyond the reach of danger. They had crossed the Rogue River. He and two other persons of the train proceeded in advance. In the evening they encamped, shortly after which four Indians appeared in their camp, apparently quite friendly. They had their suppers given them, and asked permission to remain with them overnight. This being granted, they all lay down on their blankets to repose for the night, one of the whites sitting up to keep guard. Weary with the fatigues of the day, the guard went to sleep. The Indians, discovering this, rose from their blankets, and seizing the loaded guns of the whites, discharged two of them, one only, however, taking effect. The two remaining white persons immediately sprang to their feet, and jumping astride of their horses, tied near at hand, made their way back to the train and related the horrid tragedy that had occurred.
When the train arrived they found two of the horses hitched nearby the camp, saddled and bridled. Parsons was lying dead--upon examination it was discovered that the ball had entered his forehead and came out above his left ear--he was almost entirely covered over with flour--the Indians having reappeared in the camp, ripped open the bags of flour, some 2500 lbs., and poured it over the body of Parsons, carrying with them the sacks, doubtless to be converted into shirts to cover their nakedness. It was supposed that the Indians were lying in ambush hard by, and that it was their intention to shoot the other two whilst in the act of untying the horses. It was thought, too, that they were frightened from their purpose by the largeness of the company. (They are wonderful cowardly--15 men could travel anywhere without molestation.)
Thus Parsons was shot with his own gun. We learn that he has left a wife and several children at Quincy. It was his intention to have returned to the States the coming fall, and in the spring following to remove his family to Oregon.--Vengeance has been declared upon the Indians for this outrage. An engagement took place a few days afterward, a report of which will be found in another column.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, June 19, 1851, page 2
INDIAN MURDER.--We learn that Mr. Jacob Parsons, blacksmith, formerly of Quincy, Illinois, was lately murdered by the Indians in the vicinity of Rogue River. Some pretended friendly Indians obtained permission to camp with him and his two comrades, for the night. When the party fell asleep they arose, stole the guns and shot Mr. Parsons. The other two escaped. The Indians opened the flour sacks and emptied the contents upon the body of Mr. P., completely covering it.
P.S. A later report states that Mr. Parsons is living, and that another man was murdered. Mr. S. H. L. Meek informs us that he saw Mr. Parsons a few miles this side of the Shasta mines, several days after the murder above referred to was committed. The man murdered was probably Dilley, referred to in another column.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, June 20, 1851
Correspondence of the Statesman.
Arrival of Gov. Gaines--Gen. Lane--the Exploring Expedition--
Army--Indian Difficulties, and the Country Generally.
MT. YONCALLA, Umpqua Co., June 23, '51.MR. BUSH, SIR:--Beside the expiring camp fire of Uncle Billy, the undersigned sits quietly upon chips while engaged in the act of penning the memorable scenes through which he passed during his journey through this portion of the heritage. His debut into this country has been recorded with very few of the remarkable escapes--from accidents, grizzlys' jaws--rattlesnakes, &c., which attend the nervous and the timid. He lost his appetite--often did the sun at midday wink at his anxiety for his "fodder"--and that too in a land flowing richly with temporal blessings. But all has passed and forgetfulness is creeping upon him.
The fact that Umpqua excels in fertility is so well known, and has been published so often, that it is unnecessary to make mention of it again; but a word of the condition of things may not be amiss. Our county is organized--the machinery is up, and soon it will start with great power. We need internal improvements very much, and it is expected that the new machinery will accomplish every desired attainment. The undersigned trust that the people do not expect too much.
The roads leading to Scottsburg (which, as yet, are trails) must be made into something which will afford aid and comfort to both man and horse.
Time cannot be spared to dwell upon their condition--sufficient to say that the undersigned has long since refrained from conversing with those who have traveled over them, because their varied descriptions of the roads were universally prefaced with violent oaths--and horrid imprecations.
Elkton, which at present has but a potential existence, is named as the site for a county town. It is on the main Umpqua, opposite Fort Umpqua. From this point to the (and including the) sand spit at the mouth of the river, claims are taken. Those east of Scottsburg teem with luxuriant grass--those west are overhung with vivid speculative theories respecting the future. The former will harvest an enduring reputation in wapatos and stock, while the latter will eat them up. From the mouth of the river up to Winchester, claims are being improved. Quite all are taken; twelve months since, but two or three were taken. Scottsburg, or Myrtle City, is at the head of tide water; vessels drawing seven feet of water can ascend to that point--those of deeper tonnage cannot ascend farther than ten miles from the mouth, where they will be obliged to discharge; within that space there are many new towns, beautifully pictured on paper showing rival advantages, and abundant reasons why one point is far more preferable than the other for that purpose; all of which, however, possess merit. At no distant day a discriminating public will determine the extent of the merit of each.
The entrance of the river is considered no more dangerous than that of the Columbia River. Those who know pronounce it perfectly safe and a good harbor. There are two ferries on the Umpqua within three miles of each other--and connect a road from Winchester to Scottsburg. A railroad can be made to connect those important points.
The claims along the road, which for excellence as stock ranges or for agricultural purposes have not betters anywhere, to my knowledge. When the undersigned passed through Green Valley (a part of the road will run through this valley) the grass was quite over his horse's back. This valley for richness is all that a person can desire--an attempt to describe it only seems to tease the fullness of an indescribable experience. It must be seen to be well appreciated.
Winchester is located on both sides of Umpqua River--about five miles above the forks--the town proper lies on the southern border of the river, and is a portion of land eminently qualified for a town. It is level and thinly timbered--lying at the head of an immense valley, which for natural beauty few if any surpass. The claim of Gen. Lane adjoins it on the south. The city plot has been laid in lots, and is fast improving as a mart. There are but few claims near Winchester which are not taken--all of them in south Umpqua in a few months will smile upon a lord and master--who no doubt in return will reflect the same in a broad grin. Upon the highest peak, near this point, the undersigned waded for deer, through grass waist high, from which he saw below one vast prairie, which Col. Loring had reserved for a military post; but which he abandoned because it is contiguous to the mines. There are "good diggings" within twenty miles of Winchester--yes, within the town limits, gold has been found. The main road to the canon passes through this place, at which there is a good ferry. Explorations are being made for a road east of the canon by a portion of Major Kearny's command--under the guidance of Jesse Applegate, Esq. Levi Scott, Esq., is also with them. The result of which will be laid before you, when it is made known here. The army have passed the canon, and the party exploring were, from last accounts, near Table Rock on Rogue River.
No better evidence can be given of the prolific tendency of this country than to mention the fact that during the before-mentioned ride through it, the undersigned found that three good mothers had presented to (he sincerely hopes) their deserving husbands, three babies each; in the aggregate nine. He was told that they were doing well. Notwithstanding his own great diffidence--in an unguarded moment and in the presence of several--a hearty "God bless each and every one of them," was forced from him. It is unnecessary perhaps to remark that no time was lost by the neighbors in adding to the imperfect preparation which had been made for a smaller number.
The genius of the country is an item of some considerable moment. Among the many useful inventions of one of the "oldest inhabitants," two only were found which can be mentioned this time. One a "submarine battery"*--used for the purpose of bringing to the surface salmon and the "lesser fry," and which works to a charm; the mu-luc chuck [Elk River] roars with pride in its possession. The particulars respecting it will be laid before the people at an early day. The other is a machine (or as I am forced to term it "a case independent") for making butter. It has a cylinder large enough to hold a barrel full of the "raw material"--and works much upon the principle of the machinery of the Lot Whitcomb. It is most assuredly of the high pressure class. It must be gratifying to the ladies to learn that it is to be patented exclusively for the ladies of Oregon, and is designed to supersede the piano, seraphine, &c. If the ladies devote too much time and attention to it, they will find it rather anti-cosmetic--quite as much so as the piano.
Gen. Lane passed here last week en route to the mines. During his absence from the mines, one of his Indian miners has been murdered, and others driven off. The unfortunate Indian was shot by--it is supposed Oregon men (after being frightened so that he was speechless), simply because he would not speak. There are several reports of the matter in circulation--all of which agree that it was an unprovoked attack on the Indian.
Gov. Gaines arrived here on Sunday last. He is engaged in raising men for the purpose of visiting the chief of the hostile Indians. He will leave during this week.--The army have passed Rogue River.--Several companies are organized for the purpose of giving battle to the Indians. As yet, no battle of much importance has been fought.
Yours, &c.,Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, July 4, 1851, page 2 *This most likely refers to explosives.
More Indian Difficulty.Oregonian, Portland, July 5, 1851, page 2
Information has been received concerning a fight between a party of the Rifle Regiment, bound for California, and the Rogue River Indians. We are informed that a detachment of thirty men, under command of Bvt. Captain Stewart, were attacked by a large party of Indians, and seventeen Indians were killed and three of the troops; one of whom was Captain Stewart. He received an arrow in the breast, and lived about twenty-four hours after receiving the wound. Just before he expired he is said to have uttered these words, which were the last--"It is too bad, after fighting six battles in Mexico, to be killed here by an Indian."
Capt. Stewart was a brave officer, of unexceptionable habits, and was much respected by all who knew him. His death will be much regretted by his friends and acquaintances, and the service has lost one of its most promising soldiers.
It is said the Indians are well armed, and manifest a courage unusual for the race.
Gov. Gaines was met on his way to the seat of war. He will probably take efficient measures to ensure safety to the whites, as far as his faculties will allow him. It appears to us that some prompt measures should at once be adopted to prevent if possible the destruction of our citizens by these merciless Indians.
The following correct version of the events that then transpired have been most kindly placed at our disposal by Hon. Jesse Applegate, than whom no higher authority on matters pertaining to the history of Oregon exists:
"When the Oregon Rifle Regiment was disbanded at Vancouver in the year 1851, Major Philip Kearny was permitted to draft of the rank and file of that corps into his regiment of dragoons two companies, one under the command of Captain Stuart, a native of South Carolina; the other, under the command of Captain Walker, a native of Missouri. These companies belonged to the same regiment, and were in all respects similarly armed and equipped with saber, revolver and carbine. Lieut. R. Williamson of the Corps of Engineers accompanied these troops on their march from Vancouver to Benicia, having in view to make an exploration of the country from Southern Oregon, east of the Sierra Nevada, down the valley of the Pit River, and as far south as where Reno now stands. Capt. Levi Scott and Jesse Applegate, two of the explorers of the Southern Emigrant Route of 1846, were engaged as guides to the expedition. At the Canyon of the Umpqua Mountain the Major found several hundred miners, packers, etc., awaiting his arrival to place themselves under his protection, as an Indian war was raging in all the country south.
"Being limited in his supplies to what was deemed sufficient for his march, and on that account unprepared to go into an Indian war, and yet desirous to strike a blow at these troublesome enemies, the Major consulted his guides in regard to penetrating the Rogue River country by a route that would bring his command in the rear of the hostiles, and thereby enable him to cut them off from their mountain fastnesses to which they usually retired when pursued by a force strong enough to chastise them. After due consideration, the guides undertook the service, Mr. Nichols, the packer frequently mentioned in this history, being engaged to transport the necessary baggage, the command took up their line of march up the South Umpqua River. It being June of a late spring, the necessity of making ferries wherever a stream of any size was to be crossed much retarded the march. The Umpqua River itself was crossed about twenty miles south of the canyon. When the usual canoe was dug and the ferry prepared, the guides with a pioneer party crossed over and took up a southerly fork of the Umpqua, now known as Elk Creek, and after making a road about eight miles through its open valley, bivouacked at a spring never seen by white men before. Elk Creek forks about ten miles from its mouth, and a trail which seemed to have been much used in former years led up the mountain between the forks; along this trail a pack trail was opened, crossing the summit, from whence an extended view of the Rogue River Valley may be had with the great Pilot Rock on the Siskiyou in full view at least seventy miles to the southward. The trail descends to the south between the forks of Trail Creek, and into the open country of Rogue River Valley--the Major's camp being selected on the creek about three miles from its mouth. The troops, having effected a crossing the previous evening, were early on the trail in the morning, and overtook the pioneers at the camp on Trail Creek about 5 o'clock in the evening, having made a march of about 25 miles. The camp on Trail Creek was one of profound silence, noise of no kind was permitted, and to make the march down the valley as noiseless as possible, next morning the troopers were required to strap their sabers to their saddles to prevent their clank from being heard by the enemy. It was at an early hour on the twenty-sixth or twenty-seventh day of June that the command commenced its march from Trail Creek, the guide, Applegate, about 100 yards in advance with orders closely to examine the ground for signs of the enemy; the fighting force came next; Capt. Walker's company, with the Major in front; Stuart next, the baggage and rear guard following. Not long after reaching the path running near the bank of the river, the guide in front discovered fresh moccasin tracks in a newly thrown-up gopher mound, and beyond, the tracks of a single man evidently making his best time along the path. The fact was immediately reported, and the whole command put upon the charge. Notwithstanding this tremendous pace over the smooth valley, the nimble savage was not brought in sight for about three miles, when he was seen for a moment at the edge of the hummock that lined the bank of the river, into which he plunged. Capt. Walker was commanded to follow, but before he could effect a crossing, Capt. Stuart swept ahead with the rest of the command, the Indians keeping nearly even pace with it on the opposite bank of the river, hallooing at every leap he gave at the top of his voice to give notice to his friends below that the avenger was coming. For about a mile further, this exciting race to save life and to inflict death was kept up, when upon turning a point of brush on the river, a body of Indians, all warriors of about equal numbers, stood in front of the dashing and excited cavalry.
"The spot where this memorable fight took place is about ten miles above Table Rock on the right or west bank of Rogue River. A lagoon runs into the river just where it makes a short bend to the west. There is an almost impenetrable thicket of brush spreading along the ravine, which, tending upwards toward the river, leaves only the narrow entry to this peninsula of open ground through which the whites entered, while the river on its side sweeps around this almost island, with a deep and rapid current, with abrupt and brushy banks. It was a most admirably chosen battlefield, and could the Indian runner have succeeded in giving his friends notice only of a few minutes, the daring charge of the Major into this stronghold might have resulted in a terrible tragedy and defeat. But the highest ground in the peninsula being along the bank of the river, it seems the whole body of Indians had rushed there to ascertain what was going on up the river; the charging cavalry had cut them off from the lagoon almost as soon as they were seen; they were not prepared to fight a whirlwind or thunderbolt, and seemed only intent on escape, and by the river was their only chance. But the troubles of the savages were not ended. As the sabers of Capt. Stuart's company were strapped to their saddles in such a way that they could not get at them, they used their firearms only, but the flying Indians had barely reached the opposite bank of the river when Capt. Walker was upon them, his troops sword in hand. Here many were slaughtered; the writer of this saw Capt. Walker cut down two of these helpless wretches with his own hand.
"No time was wasted on the battlefield. Walker was ordered to continue down the left or east side of the river. The Major with Capt. Stuart's co., guided by Capt. Scott, marched down the right. Applegate, assisted by the packers and four soldiers, was directed to select a suitable place to camp, remove the baggage and wounded to it, and act as a kind of ex-officio until the Major's return. All which was done, the camp being about one mile west. In looking for a suitable camp a canoe was found concealed in the bushes, which was of great value to the command in ferrying the wounded and baggage to the opposite bank of the river the day following. In the fight a sergeant and one private were slightly wounded, and Capt. Stuart mortally. He was in the act of charging an Indian (still on his feet and making resistance) with a clubbed revolver, the chambers of which had been exhausted. The Indian, before receiving the blow of the revolver, shot the Captain just above the pelvis, the arrow severing the connections between the bladder and the kidneys, lodging against the backbone. In the course of the evening a smoke was seen to arise from near the body of the Indian who wounded Stuart. As the place could be approached by means of the lagoon, Applegate, Nichols and some of the packers cautiously approached the spot, where they found seven or eight Indians standing around their dead comrade. The whites from a distance of about 150 yards took deliberate aim at these unsuspecting mourners and fired at the word three. The whole party of the assailed fell down at the report of the rifles. When the whites, after loading their rifles, reached the place, the Indian killed in the morning alone remained on the ground. Some robes, bows and quivers remained, and a bloody trail led to the river, but no scalps. Meantime Capt. Walker continued down the valley on the southeast side, but was forced to leave the vicinity of the river on account of brush and streams, until he reached the west bank of Bear Creek, where the town of Phoenix now stands. Here he encamped until joined by the rest of the force next evening.
"Major Kearny pressed forward with his force down the northwest side of the river until in the vicinity of Table Rock he found so large an Indian force in his front that he deemed it prudent to take post in a grove of trees which happened to be convenient for that purpose. It was the opinion of the Major and Capt. Scott that the Indians numbered near 500; were drawn up with considerable skill, cavalry on the wings, infantry in the center, and something like front and rear guards covering them. They made one movement by their right flank, as if to cut off the Major from the stream and apparently to get into his rear, but when promptly met in this movement they desisted, and did not again place themselves in reach of his carbines.
"Finding the Indian not disposed to attack, and having no hope of effecting a junction with Capt. Walker in that direction, the Major fell back to his own camp, to which the Indians did not presume to follow. Having crossed the river a short distance above our camp, with the assistance of the canoe before named, and providing a horse litter for Capt. Stuart (the rest of the wounded being able to ride), we took up the line of march on the trail of Capt. Walker, made the previous day. Near the deep rapid stream of the Little Butte we came upon a large horse trail going up the broad valley of that stream so fresh as to indicate that it was but a few hours old. From explorations since made in that part of the country I think this trail was made by mounted Indians going to the Lake country, east by that favorable pass; for after their display of force to Major Kearny they seem to have scattered in all directions--even small parties were seldom seen. About sundown of that day we reached Capt. Walker's camp where Capt. Stuart died and was buried under a large oak tree until his friends sent for his remains two years after. After being joined by a volunteer force Major Kearny remained a few days longer and assisted with his command in searching for the enemy, but becoming satisfied they had put themselves beyond his reach he continued his journey to California."
"JESSE APPLEGATE."David D. Fagan, History of Benton County, Oregon, A. G. Walling publisher, Portland 1885. These paragraphs were "tipped in" to the volume after printing, pasted after page 196.
Umpqua County, O.T., 11th June, 1851.To Major Kearny, Commanding Detachment U. S. Army,
Sir: The undersigned, citizens of the United States and residents of Oregon, beg leave respectfully to inform you that the savages in this vicinity and along the southern frontier of this territory are now in a state of actual hostility to the white inhabitants.
They have recently attacked and robbed several parties, and murdered a number of citizens pursuing their peaceful avocations. Those engaged in mining operations have, by the determined hostility of the natives, been forced to embody themselves in large parties and maintain a military organization for their common safety, which draws heavily on the time of each individual, and greatly diminishes the profits of labor. Besides which, many persons who have formed settlements for agricultural and commercial purposes have been forced to abandon their homes and flee to a place of safety. All of these facts we are, if desired, able to establish by the most positive evidence.
We will further state that if you consider the case one justifying you in attempting the fortification and safety of the southern frontier, we pledge ourselves, so long as you may be detained in the performance of this, to us, highly important service, to supply your troops with ammunition and subsistence at prices as low to the government as such articles can be obtained and transported to the seat of your operations.
Earnestly soliciting a reply, we remain, with the highest respects,
Your most obedient servants,
Joseph Knott, W. Patterson, Wm. Harris, A. B. Florence, Wesley Carroll, John W. Lancaster, J. C. Gouldin, H. P. McGee, W. H. Bolander, D. Evans, Philander Gilbert, M. M. Foote, Samuel Hoffman, George B. Cullen, Franklin Kittredge, Daniel Grewell, J. D. Jewett, Jack Powell, Geo. C. Brown, William Judd, James F. Gazley, W. D. Eakin, Albert H. Hakes, Sam'l. McCullum, David Avery, Charles Perkins, Hearon Noble, Wm. T. Patton, John Sweet, Samuel Neill, David White, James Williams, N. P. Newton, David G. Boyd, Thomas N. Aubrey, J. M. Jesse, Gilbert Reynolds, Waldo Jewett, Sewell Johnson, Edward Griffin, R. Ferrel, John Dickens, John Fullerton, J. W. Corkins, A. Tyrrell, Wm. Burget, Reuben F. Burget, David Powell, Geo. T. Easterbrook, Leonard J. Powell, James G. McLealner, J. M. Stewart, C. G. Belknap, G. W. Bethards, H. A. Belknap, M. G. St. John, Reuben Dickens, Joseph A. Watt, James Watt, R. S. Jewett, Wm. Densmore, Wm. N. Wells, Jesse Hawley, Chisholm Griffith, Allen Nixon.
Elwood Evans, History of the Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washington, 1889, page 382
Hdqrs. Detachment First Dragoons,The Adjutant General, U.S. Army,
Camp on Branch of Rogue River, June 19, 1851.
Sir: I have the honor to report in detail that I left Columbia Barracks, Vancouver, on the 29th ultimo, pursuant to instructions from division headquarters, with the squadron of First Dragoons, late transferred from the Mounted Rifles, en route for California.
The first part of our march was the ordinary routine, passing through a thinly settled, but uncommonly fertile and beautiful, country. On nearing the extreme settlements, rumors of Indian hostilities met us. At Knotts, at the entrance of the Umpqua cañon, the truth of these was confirmed beyond a doubt; and I was waited on by a deputation of citizens with a petition requesting the protection of my command.
A post is required in this vicinity more than at any other point in Oregon. This point is the key to the road to California, and is the best entrance for emigrants to Oregon; and the Rogue River Indians are proverbially the tribe of all others to be dreaded as fierce and treacherous in the extreme. At this moment, not only is the "road" infested by them, but all the settlements throughout the Umpqua are in danger.
As, under my orders, it was not in my power to delay more than a limited period, I deemed it advisable to surprise these Indians, if possible. Consequently, having detached my train under Lieutenant, by the regular road, with as strong a force as I could spare, guided by Messrs. Jesse Applegate and Levi Scott, I penetrated by a new route, placing myself in rear of the presumed situation of the Rogue River villages; and thus I hoped, with even the limited force of sixty-seven men, to break them up before they could combine or disperse. We left Knotts on the 14th instant, following up the South Umpqua, crossed the Divide on the 16th, and reached the Rogue River on the following day.
Our difficulty was the uncertainty of the distance to, and the situation of, the villages. They were supposed to be from five to ten miles off. My plan was rapidly to sweep both sides of the river; but it was found for miles unfordable and dangerous in swimming from the swiftness of the current and nature of the banks.
We pushed on at a trot on discovering a fresh trail; but signals and cries soon convinced us that we had been discovered and our movements watched. The column took the gallop, trusting to anticipate the Indian scouts, Captain [Courtney M.] Walker leading with orders to seize cañons or passes when he could, and Captain Stuart following in supporting distance, but destined under my command to act on the right bank, the provisions and baggage following with a small guard.
A party of Indians being observed in a hammock, Captain Walker dismounted and cleared it, the Indians escaping by the river. Captain Stuart was ordered to cover this movement. Shortly after this period, Captain Walker most gallantly pushed across the river in defiance of all obstacles, and some Indians opposite, fortunately without accident. I then overtook and joined Captain Stuart's half squadron just in time to see it, in a brisk skirmish, charge and destroy a party of the enemy, who fought desperately--a charge brilliant in itself, but costly to us, as it resulted in the death of its most distinguished leader, who fell mortally wounded whilst leading his men. Two others were badly wounded. The train had now to be waited for, and the camp of the wounded established.
This occasioned a delay of some three-quarters of an hour, and left me but seventeen disposable men, with whom, accompanied by Lieutenant Williamson of the Topographical Engineers, whom I assigned to line duty, I pushed on again rapidly, hoping at least to make a diversion for Captain Walker. After passing on some miles, a smoke at a distance, which proved to be a signal fire, led me to suppose that Captain Walker had destroyed some villages.
I consequently disposed my men so as to intercept the fugitives. This brought me unexpectedly on a powerful war party of two hundred and fifty or three hundred Indians. Fortunately, an isolated clump of trees gave me a strong position and concealed my numbers. I maintained this position as long as I dared, without being cut off from my camp, and retired without loss.
The next day, fearing for Lieutenant 's and Captain Walker's detachments, especially from our previous ignorance of a strong war party, and greatly hampered by hospital litters, I crossed to the left bank to avoid an action amidst the ravines and passes.
The 19th June, Captain Walker and Lieutenant joined me, from a camp at the foot of the Siskiyou Mountains. I enclose Captain Walker's report of his movements.
My position is such as to leave the enemy in doubt as to my future moves; and they are likely to remain deceived. In the meanwhile, I have sent Messrs. Applegate and Scott, with an address to the citizens in the several adjoining mining districts, calling on them to turn out in force, in which case our dragoons will do their duty in the main attack; and the volunteer companies will cut the Indians off from their villages, or pursue them to the mountains. I trust in this manner to afford relief from the Indian attacks until a post can be permanently established, which I now recommend as necessary. The post would in a short time be of little expense, as the Rogue River bottoms are very fertile.
In detailing those operations, I must mention that Messrs. Levi Scott, Jesse Applegate and W. G. T'Vault, gentlemen of high standing as pioneers in Oregon, have rendered me as much service, by their courage and coolness before the enemy, as by their knowledge as guides in this new region.
I have the honor again to report the satisfactory conduct of every man of my detachment, and of the gallant and efficient manner in which I have been supported by Captain Walker and Lieutenant Williamson. Brevet Captain Stuart's brilliant career raises him beyond the commendation of the individual commander. It can only be uttered by the united voice of the Army of Mexico.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Bvt. Major, First Dragoons.
Elwood Evans, History of the Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washington, 1889, page 383
Camp on Branch of Rogue RiverFellow Citizens:
June 19, 1851
On my route to California, I found myself amidst an unexpected excitement. The road is rendered impassable to small parties, murders being daily committed. The Indians are embodied in a stronger war party than hitherto known, and it is within their power to sweep away the detached settlements on the Umpqua. My orders contemplated my marching directly through to California. At the Canon, on the representations and petitions of American citizens as to Indian outrages, I determined on an inroad of the Rogue River country. I have done so, and entering by a new route to their rear, I have already, in skirmishes, inflicted upon them a severe loss, but it is necessary to humble this tribe & teach them our power. I now offer the services of my command, and call upon my fellow citizens (Oregonians particularly) to rise in the emergency, and in concert with me, so to act as to prevent insult and injury in future.
Very respectfully,Oregon Historical Society Research Library Mss. 1500, folder 3/80
Brvt. Major 1st Dragoons
Another Indian War!
From a private letter received in this place by a friend, we gather the following particulars of a battle that took place on or about the 17th ult., between the Rogue River Indians and a part of the Mounted Rifles, 28 in number, under Major Kearny's command (the Major being with them in the engagement), at a place called Table Rock, on Rogue River, some 12 or 13 miles east of the usually traveled road.
The Indians had assembled at this place in considerable force--they were lying in ambush from which they commenced firing upon the Riflemen. A conflict ensued in which some 11 Indians were killed and many more wounded. Of the whites, Lieut. Stewart was killed and another officer, not named, is said to have been mortally wounded. Lieut. Stewart is represented to have been a noble officer--his loss will be greatly deplored.
Major Kearny has expressed a determination not to leave the country until the savages are punished, or all prospects of further difficulties are removed. The Indians are said to have evinced great boldness.
We have been favored with the subjoined account of the fight from Lieut. C. E. Irvine:
ROGUE RIVER, June 20, 1851.DEAR SIR--On the 17th inst., Major Kearny's command fought the Rogue River Indians. Captains James Stewart and Peck were severely wounded; Capt. Stewart survived until the next day, the 18th. There was one other man slightly wounded. Among the Indians there were some 20 or 25 killed--number of wounded unknown. All well. In haste.
Yours, &c.,Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, July 3, 1851, page 2
C. E. IRVINE,
Lt. R. M. Rifles, U.S.A.
The Oregon Spectator has the particulars of the engagement which occurred on or about the 17th June, between the Rogue River Indians and a part of the Mounted Rifles, 28 in number, under Maj. Kearny's command (the Major being with them in the engagement), at a place called Table Rock, on Rogue River, some 12 or 15 miles east of the usual traveled road.
"The Indians had assembled at this place in considerable force--they were lying in ambush from which they commenced firing upon the riflemen. A conflict ensued in which some 11 Indians were killed and many more wounded. Of the whites, Lieut. Stuart was killed, and another officer, not named, is said to have been mortally wounded. Lieut. Stuart is represented to have been a noble officer--his loss will be greatly deplored.
"Major Kearny has expressed a determination not to leave the country until the savages are punished, or all prospect of further difficulties are removed. The Indians are said to have evinced great boldness.
"We have been favored with the subjoined account of the fight from Lieut. C. E. Irvine.
"Rogue River, June 20.
"Dear Sir--On the 17th inst., Maj. Kearny's command fought the Rogue River Indians. Captains James Stuart and Peck were severely wounded; Captain Stuart survived until the next day, the 18th. There was one other man slightly wounded. Among the Indians there were some 20 or 25 killed--number of wounded unknown. All well. In haste. Yours, &c.,
"C. E. Irvine, Lt. R. M. Rifles, U.S.A."
Capt. Stuart is reported to have said before he expired, "It is too bad, after fighting six battles in Mexico, to be killed here by an Indian."
Savannah Republican, Georgia, August 28, 1851, page 2
MORE INDIAN HOSTILITIES ON ROGUE RIVER.We have received intelligence that an encounter was had with the Rogue River Indians by a detachment of 30 U.S. troops, on the 18th of June, in Rogue River Valley, near Table Rock. Capt. Stuart was shot through with an arrow, and lived 24 hours after recovering [sic] the wound. His dying words to his comrades were: "It is too hard, after fighting six hard battles in Mexico, to be killed by an Indian." Two Americans were slightly wounded. There were 100 Indians in the battle, and 17 were left dead on the field.
It is said that there are more than 1000 warriors there who are hostile. Five hundred volunteers are expected from the mines to fight them. Gov. Gaines has a party of 12 men, and Gen. Lane another one of 30, pushing on to the scene of danger. The Indian chief is reported to be very intelligent, and told the Americans that he could keep the air filled with 1000 arrows if he chose. We apprehend serious difficulty before the affair is settled. The best mode, in our opinion, is to subdue them, and the quicker the better. The Rogue River Indians are hostile the whole length of that river, and it is not safe to travel among them. The miners are represented as doing tolerably well--though few large strikes are made.
Oregon Weekly Times, Portland, July 3, 1851, page 2
FROM ROGUE RIVER--DEATH OF CAPT. STUART OF THE RIFLE REGIMENT.--Mr. Edward Gallagher, who left the Klamath two weeks ago, arrived in this city yesterday, and brings much later advices from that part of the country than have been received by the way of Oregon. He informs us that two weeks from last Tuesday Capt. Stuart, of the rifle regiment, was shot in the side by an arrow, and died the next day. Mayor Kearny, in command of a company of 80 men, with 25 pack mules, had just arrived at Rogue River. While the forces were coming round the mountain in two detachments, Capt. Stuart, with a party of thirty men, were fired upon near Long's Ferry. Three or four of his men besides himself were wounded, but not fatally. A large number of volunteers would be raised immediately from the Shasta mines and vicinity, to act against the Indians in the neighborhood of Rogue River.--Times and Transcript.
San Joaquin Republican, Stockton, California, July 16, 1851, page 3
Camp on Branch of Rogue River,Dear Sir:--Frequently, since I left Portland, have I thought of your request that I should keep you informed of any events of interest that might occur during our march to California; and though until very recently everything has passed off very quietly, I have desired to send you descriptions of the different parts of the country we passed over, not only on account of their beauty and resources, but because the information might have been valuable to such of your acquaintances as were about starting for the mines in this vicinity. Up to this time, however, my duties have occupied so much of my time that I have had no leisure for letter writing.
June 20th, 1851.
We left Portland, as you remember, on the 29th ult., with about 80 soldiers of the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, who were going to California to fill up the Dragoon companies stationed there. Maj. Kearny of the 1st Dragoons was in command, and Capts. Walker and Stuart and Lieut. Irvine of the Rifles. Dr. Edgar of the Medical Department and Lieut. Williamson of the Topographical Engineers were the officers accompanying him. The recent rains has made the road exceedingly bad, and it was with the greatest difficulty our wagons passed over them. However, we made our way through the beautiful valley of the Willamette; crossed Calapooia Mountains, and reached Applegate's, on Elk Creek, on the 7th June. From all the trains coming from the southward that we had passed we had heard very discouraging accounts of the difficulty of passing "the canyon," as it is called--a pass through the Umpqua Mountains. Our guide being of the opinion that the canyon might be avoided by crossing the mountains some 20 miles to the eastward, Major Kearny was inclined to follow this route, and sent a party in advance to examine. Messrs. Applegate and Scott, prominent citizens of this section of the country, influenced by a desire of finding a route preferable to the one usually followed, consented to accompany us. The road from Applegate's passes to the southward about 50 miles, when it crosses the south branch of the Umpqua River and enters the canyon, the distance through which is called twelve miles, then following a tortuous course over steep hills forty miles, it strikes Rogue River, which it follows up, inclining to the eastward. The plan was to pass eastward of the South Umpqua, and then crossing the mountains in a southeasterly direction, to get into a large plain, the valley of Rogue River, striking that river high up. As Rogue River and the Umpqua were known to approach each other near their sources, it was hoped the distance over the mountain range between them would not be great, and if a good pass were found, the road to California would not only be greatly improved, but shortened. As we passed towards the canyon, we began to hear reports of Indian outrages having been recently committed, and upon arriving at Knott's settlement, at the south of the canyon, we found considerable excitement prevailing. The ferryman at Rogue River had been obliged to desert the ferry, and many Americans were waiting at Knott's to accumulate a sufficient force to pass onward in safety. Hearing of the approach of the troops, three men in conjunction with the residents drew up a petition which they presented to Major K., asking him to use his command to quiet the country. In this new state of affairs, the major determined to follow the new route at all hazards, hoping by this means to get, undiscovered, in rear of the Indians. Therefore, sending the main provision train through the canyon in charge of Lt. Irvine, we followed up the Umpqua about 20 miles, and crossing the mountains by a route which would be found tolerably good for pack animals, and far preferable to the route through the canyon, we struck Rogue River on the morning of the 17th, a few miles above where it enters the valley. The plan now was for half of the command to follow down on each side of the river, in hopes of surprising and cutting off the Indians. We had not proceeded more than three or four miles before a few straggling Indians discovered us, and run yelling down the river. Capt. Walker, being detached with his company, swam the river within the face of a small party, and charging them, killed five, and wounding others; while Maj. K., with Capt. Stuart and his company proceeded down the right bank at a gallop, and soon ran upon a party of about twenty, with whom he had a brisk engagement, killing a large proportion. Nine of them are known to have been killed, and it is probable very few if any escaped. But our victory was a very dear one, for the gallant captain fell mortally wounded at the head of his men. His surely was a very hard lot--after passing through five of the great battles in Mexico, and gaining a reputation of which anyone might be proud, to fall at last by the arrow of a savage. He lived but 30 hours after receiving the wound. Corporals Peck and Day were also wounded, the former severely.
After our pack came up, Maj. K., leaving a sufficient guard with them and the wounded, proceeded with the remainder of the men, some 15 in number, down the river. After passing down some 5 miles, he discovered a large body of Indians, mostly mounted, and having many rifles with them, proceeding up towards him. At this time he had left half his small party in ambush, and had but 8 men with him. He reached a grove of oaks, and then waited till the others came up. In the meantime the Indians, who had also halted, had been continually reinforced by horsemen and men on foot from down the river, till their numbers amounted to from two to three hundred. After holding his strong position for an hour waiting in vain for an attack, and fearing to compromise the safety of his wounded by acting on the offensive against such great odds, he retired to camp, reaching it about sunset.
Nothing was heard of Capt. Walker that night, and the next morning we passed the river in hopes of rejoining him; and passing to the southward 20 miles, we struck the road at this place, and found he was still in advance. He had scoured the left bank of the river--passed the night without provisions, and not knowing where to find Maj. Kearny, had passed on to overtake Mr. Irvine. The next morning both he and Mr. Irvine rejoined us.
The fact of meeting so large a body of Indians assembled in a war party, and the numerous outrages recently committed, show conclusively that the Indians have assembled for no usual purpose. The detached settlements in the Umpqua may be swept away in a moment, the necessity of striking a decisive blow is apparent. Maj. Kearny has sent to the Shasta and Rogue River mines to raise a party of citizens; and in two or three days we hope to destroy the large band we met with--the citizens preventing them from retreating to the mountains, while the dragoons attack them in front.
Since I commenced writing the above, a small party of citizens came into camp and reported that they had just been attacked by Indians some three miles above and had lost two packs, and had some animals killed. We immediately started for the place, and searching about in the thick timber and underbrush of the banks of a small creek, came upon the party quietly cooking some of the flour they had just stolen. We fired into them, upon which they started across the creek and into the bushes beyond, which were so thick as to prevent pursuit. We recaptured the stolen packs and found also a rifle they in their haste had left behind. None were killed on the spot, but the blood on the ground showed our bullets had done some execution. The audacity of these fellows stopping within a half mile of where they made their attack, to eat their stolen provisions, is enough to show the necessity of active operations against them at once.
If I have time, I will send you an account of our future operations. At present I must close.
Yours truly, R.S.W. [likely Lt. Robert S. Williamson]Oregonian, Portland, July 26, 1851, page 2
Camp First Dragoon Detachment,Lieutenant C. E. Irvine,
Rogue River Plains, O.T., June 22, 1851.
Adjutant First Dragoon Detachment,
Sir: I have the honor to communicate for the information of Brevet Major First Dragoons, Commanding, that, agreeably to his orders, I crossed Rogue River on the morning of the 17th instant, with detachment Company E, First Dragoons, at a point about twenty miles north of this place, Major Kearny, with detachment Company A, under the late Brevet Captain Stuart, remaining on the right bank, the object being to sweep down both banks of the river and to chastise or destroy any bands of hostile Indians that might be encountered, and for me to act in concert with the command on the opposite shore as far as circumstances would allow. At the same time, each party was thought to be of sufficient strength to be successful against any force of hostile Indians that might be encountered, and also that the two companies would form a junction with each other at some point below, which in our ignorance of the country could not be designated.
In obeying these instructions, I pursued the course of the stream some ten or twelve miles, encountering and partly destroying several bands of hostile Indians. Before proceeding further down, I considered it important to gain, if possible, information of Major Kearny's position and route. For this purpose, I dispatched a noncommissioned officer with four men to return on my trail and ascertain, if possible, where Major Kearny then was, and to receive his orders. After several hours' absence, the party returned without bringing any information relative to Major Kearny's command, although the noncommissioned officer reported that he had gone almost to the point of our crossing in the morning, and was prevented from going to that point by encountering a large band of hostile Indians, which he supposed had been driven across by Major Kearny's command passing down on the opposite shore.
At the point I had then reached, the river formed a semicircle, my line of march being on the outer circumference, while the company under Major Kearny, by taking the chord of the arc, would arrive much sooner than I could at the point below, where a large force of hostile Indians were said to be assembled.
This line of march I supposed he had pursued; and in order to co-operate with the other company in the main attack, which I was now aware would be more serious than I had previously supposed, I pushed forward along the bank of the Rogue River for fifteen miles as rapidly as possible, endeavoring without success, at every point that looked fordable, to recross the river.
From an elevated point, I now obtained a good view of the country on the opposite side of the river, and saw to my surprise several hundred Indians (mounted and dismounted) on a plain at the base of what is known as Table Mountain. I then became still more desirous of recrossing and forming a junction with the command on the opposite side, wherever they might be, as I knew they were unprepared to encounter so formidable a force as the Indians had here assembled. Crossing here, however, was utterly impossible, as by the junction of several large tributaries the stream was here very deep and of great rapidity of current, assuming more the character of a torrent rushing between high banks of volcanic rock.
My anxiety to join Major Kearny was not lessened by remembering that my company was entirely unprovided with subsistence. To have countermarched twenty-five or thirty miles to the point where I left Major Kearny in the morning would have occupied all of next day; and on arriving there I might not find him, and during which time my company would be without food. Under these circumstances, I determined to endeavor to find the main road leading from Oregon to California, in hope of falling in with Lieutenant 's subsistence train, or with some emigrant or mining party from whom subsistence might be procured.
I accordingly left the river, and, pursuing a southeastern direction for about five miles, had the satisfaction of finding the road, and, after traveling about six miles further, encamped for the night, having marched that day over forty miles.
The next morning, at daylight, I pursued my course, and before going far had the satisfaction of learning from a party of miners that Lieutenant was in advance of me; and, pushing on rapidly, I overtook him about noon on the 18th. I should have set out to rejoin Major Kearny's command immediately on getting supplies; but, from the exhaustion of both men and horses after two days of rapid marching, and the men without food, I considered it advisable not to set out on my return before the next morning. In the afternoon, however, I received orders from Major Kearny to follow back my route and join him here, with which I complied, joining him at this camp on the 19th instant.
I am, very respectfully, etc.,
J. G. Walker,
Bvt. Capt., Comdg. Det. First Dragoons.
Elwood Evans, History of the Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washington, 1889, page 385
Applegate's Umpqua June 24 1851Sir
I arrived at this place two days ago and have been engaged organizing a party to accompany me to Rogue River--I expect to be ready to leave tomorrow or the next day, and shall proceed with all practicable speed to the scene of Indian disturbances. In addition to rumors which I have no doubt has reached you I have just learned that a small part of Major Kearny's command, twenty-eight in number (the Major himself being with them), met the Indians in considerable force at a place called Table Rock on Rogue some twelve or fifteen miles east of the usually traveled route, and after a short conflict killed eleven Indians, many wounded on their part, and Lieut. Stuart killed, and one other officer not named wounded (said to be mortal) on our part. The account of this affair comes in such a shape as to render its truth extremely probable--I believe it--Stuart was a fine officer and accomplished gentleman. His loss will be greatly deplored. Kearny has acted precisely as I told you I knew he would, and I understand he has expressed his determination not to leave the country until the savages are punished, or all prospects of it is at an end. I shall be with him in a very few days unless he prosecutes his march sooner than I expect.
The affair at Table Rock is said to have taken place on the 17th inst., and the Indians are reported to have evinced great boldness. No other results than as above stated has come to my knowledge.
Yours respectfullyGenl. E. Hamilton
Jno. P. Gaines
Cayuse, Yakima and Rogue River Wars Papers, University of Oregon Special Collections Bx47, Box 1, Folder 34
INDIANS ON ROGUE RIVER.Oregon Weekly Times, Portland, July 24, 1851, page 2
Indian hostilities on Rogue River appear to be brought nearly to a close. From the miners who are just in, we learn that Governor Gaines was at Rogue River Ferry, awaiting the action of the Indians, who were gathering their scattered remnants to prepare for making a treaty with Gov. Gaines. The general impression is now that a military post at Rogue River will ensure peace and safety to those in that region.
Articles of agreement and treaty stipulations made and entered into this fourteenth day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty-one, by and between John P. Gaines, Governor of Oregon, for and in behalf of the government of the United States on the one part, and we, the undersigned chiefs of the Rogue River tribe of Indians on the other part, witnesseth that we, the undersigned respective parties, doth covenant and agree to the following articles, to wit:
Article first. That on this day hostilities heretofore carried on between the parties shall cease, and that a lasting peace is hereby established.
Article second. That we, the chiefs of the said tribe of Rogue River Indians, for ourselves and our nation, do agree to put ourselves under the exclusive care, guardianship and protection of the government of the United States, and we further agree that in all further disputes between ourselves and any citizen or citizens of the United States, that we will submit the same to the government of the United States, or to such officer as may by said government be appointed.
Article third. And we, the said chiefs, do agree to submit to said government of the United States, or its agents, all and singular, any article or articles by us taken or captured from any American citizen or citizens, or prisoners captured at any time by any of our tribes. And the government of the United States doth agree to return and restore to said nation of Indians all property and prisoners that may have been captured from them by the American people.
In witness whereof, we the parties hereto affix our names and seals the day and date above written.
Jno. P. GainesSigned, sealed and acknowledged in the presence of the undersigned witnesses:
Che-he-quash (his X mark)
Hah-maloh (his X mark)
Lanahawetah (his X mark)
Apas (his X mark)
Te-com-tomt (his X mark)
Te-ke-lah-weah (his X mark) [Toquahear--Tyee Sam]
Teclomeah (his X mark)
Temewahoseah (his X mark)
Yew-ah-kno-seah (his X mark)
Tcheant-kah-wah (his X mark)
Hala-le-wahke (his X mark)
C. M. Walker
H. H. Spalding
Wm. H. Rector
J. W. Perit Huntington
D. D. Bailey
Joe Lane's Treaty Tree.It is a matter for regret that the landmarks of early Oregon history have not been better preserved. Features whose interest would increase with the years have been suffered to be destroyed through ignorance or indifference. In 1853 [sic] there was some trouble with the Rogue River Indians, though the war did not occur until two years later. In 1853 General "Joe" Lane, whose name is inseparably connected with the history of Oregon, made a treaty with the Rogue River Indians on a spot which is now included within the present city limits of Grants Pass. He met the Indians under a black oak tree on Rogue River, just above the "White Rocks." Oldtimers are still able to point out the stump of this tree, but the tree itself has been cut down and sawed into stove wood in these latter years, probably by some man who never heard of Joe Lane.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, July 15, 1903, page 1
Further Indian Hostilities.
A detachment of the U.S. troops, numbering twenty-eight men, under command of Major Kearny, was attacked by a party of Indians at Table Rock, on the north side of Rogue River, about twelve miles east of the usual traveled route, on the 17th ult., and an engagement ensued, in which Capt. Stuart was killed, and a lieutenant (name not mentioned), mortally wounded. Eleven Indians were killed, and a considerable number wounded. Major Kearny's party fell back to reinforce. He sent to the mines for volunteers, and declared his purpose to subdue or exterminate them. The troops, under the direction of Jesse Applegate and Capt. Scott, were exploring the country, endeavoring to find a new pass, avoiding the canon. The Indians are numerous, and well armed. Hard fighting is anticipated. Our correspondent says Major Kearny had resolved to fight them to the last.
A later account states that some twenty Indians were killed, and that in addition to the above killed and wounded on the part of the troops, a sergeant was severely wounded, and that Gov. Gaines was about to proceed with a dozen men to effect a treaty of peace with the Indians if possible. It was also stated that Gen. Lane was preparing to fight them, and had already raised forty Oregonians for that purpose.
The Indians are said to be brave, and well armed, and boast of being able to rally fifteen hundred warriors.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, July 4, 1851, page 2
Camp Stuart, Rogue River, June 28 '51
Editor of the Statesman, Dear Sir:--When I left Oregon City, I promised to write often, but up to this moment I have not had an opportunity to write you. Active operations have ceased, and an occasion is offered for me to redeem the promise which I made, and I proceed to give in brief an account of the various battles which have just been terminated with the Indians on Rogue River by a detachment of the First Dragoons and a number of volunteers, under the command of Brevet Major Kearny, a portion of which battles I had the pleasure of witnessing. On Saturday the 21st inst., while passing through the canon, I was met by a party of men, who informed me that war had commenced in good earnest, and that a severe battle had taken place between Major Kearny and the Indians; that Capt. Stuart had been killed; that others were wounded, and that the Indians were gathering from every quarter. I at once pushed forward, and on Sunday night reached Rogue River Valley, a distance (from the camp) of about 30 miles.Soon after picketing our animals an express arrived at our camp on his way to the ferry on Rogue River, who informed me that the Major had by that time set out with his command, dragoons and volunteers, for the purpose of making a forced march during the night in order to attack the Indians at daybreak the next morning. Early on Monday morning I set out with the hope of falling in with the Major or the Indians retreating from his command, and made a hard day's ride but failed to find the Major or the Indians. On Tuesday I proceeded to Camp Stuart with the hope of hearing of the command, but as yet no tidings had been received of their whereabouts. Late in the evening Capt. Scott and T'Vault, with a small party, came in for supplies and reinforcements. They informed me that two battles had been fought, one early on Monday morning, and one in the afternoon. In the last fight the Indians posted themselves in a dense hammock, where they defended themselves for four hours and until the darkness of the night enabled them to make their escape. In both fights the Indians suffered severely. Several of our party were wounded, but none mortally. T'Vault received an arrow through his hat, just grazing his head. By nine o'clock at night we were on the march, and joined the Major at 2 o'clock Wednesday morning, when I had the pleasure of meeting my friends Applegate, Freaner and others.
Early in the morning we set out to carry into effect the plan of operations which had been agreed upon, and proceeded down the river and on Thursday morning crossed about seven miles from the ferry. We soon found an Indian trail leading up a large creek, and in a short time overtook and charged upon a party of Indians, killing one. The rest made their escape in a dense chaparral. We again pushed forward as rapidly as possible until late in the evening, when we gave battle to another party of Indians, few of whom escaped. Twelve women and children were taken prisoners; several of those who escaped were wounded.
At this point we camped, and next morning took up the line of march and scoured the country to Rogue River, recrossing at the Table Mountains, and reached camp at dark on the evening of the 27th.
The Indians had been completely whipped in every fight. Some fifty of them were killed, many wounded, and thirty taken prisoners. It has, however, cost us dearly. We have lost Capt. Stuart, one of the bravest of the brave. A more gentlemanly man never lived; a more daring soldier never fell in battle. Too much cannot be said for Major Kearny. For more than ten days he was in the saddle at the head of his command scouring the country and pouncing upon the Indians wherever they could be found. He has done much to humble the Rogue River Indians, and taught them to know that they can be hunted down and destroyed. Capt. Walker of the Rifles deserves the highest praise for gallant conduct. Lt. Williamson of the Topographical Corps and Lt. Irvin and command also deserve high praise for gallant conduct. The volunteers behaved well--nobly. Applegate, Scott, T'Vault for good conduct as guides and courage in battle are entitled to great credit. Capt. Armstrong, Blanchard, Boone and all of our Oregon men deserve credit for their good conduct and bravery. Col. Freaner from California with a party of volunteers from the mines promptly tendered their services and behaved nobly.
Never has an Indian country been invaded with better success, nor at a better time. The Indians had organized in great numbers for the purpose of killing and plundering our people passing to and from the mines. The establishment of a garrison in this district will be necessary for the maintenance of peace. That done, and a good agent located here, and we shall have no more trouble in this quarter.
This morning the question arose what must be done with the prisoners. The Major was anxious to turn them over to the citizens of Oregon to be delivered to the Superintendent of Indian Affairs. The citizens were generally bound to the mines, and none could be found to take charge of them. The Major was determined not to release them, holding that it would be wrong to give them up before a peace could be made. Consequently he determined to take them to San Francisco and then send them by sea to Oregon.
With great respect I am, sirThe bulk of this letter was transcribed from a typescript on the microfilm of the Joseph Lane Letters, "copied from original letters in possession of Asahel Bush, Salem, Oregon.". The first page, missing from the typescript, is copied from the Oregon Statesman of July 22, 1851, page 2.
Yr. obt. srvt.
Camp on branch of Rogue River,Dear Sir: I have but a very few minutes to spare to tell you of our operations during the last week, and must be brief. At noon on the 22nd our express from the Rogue River mines returned, and reported that a small party of citizens were at the ferry, ready to cooperate with us; but that, as a general rule, the citizens could not be made to turn out. So much delay for nothing was rather discouraging, and it was determined to commence our operations at once, without preference to parties of citizens to operate in other directions. It was deemed expedient to obtain a position upon the other side of the river, without, if possible, the knowledge of the Indians. Therefore, as soon as it was dark, we saddled up, and at 9½ o'clock quietly crossed the creek, and went up the valley for 20 miles, when we forded the river near where it emerges from the mountains. Then, sweeping down the right bank, we reached "Table Rock," where we supposed the Indians were assembled. But much to our regret we found the main body had dispersed. We had a little skirmish in the bushes, in which one of our men was wounded in the arm. In the afternoon of this day we found a ranchero which we destroyed, killing several males, and capturing 8 squaws with some children. I forgot to mention that some 20 or 30 citizens, joining our packers before leaving camp, formed with a party of about 50 which accompanied us, and rendered us much assistance. The Indians being dispersed, we had to give up all hopes of a regular fight and all we could do was to scour the country ,and destroy any small parties we might find. On the 23rd inst. we were joined by a party from the Shasta diggings, among whom was Maj. Freaner, the "Mustang" of Mexico and Texas notoriety. During the night of the 24th, Gen. Lane, with a small party of citizens, also joined us, and we had now quite a formidable party. From that time we have been searching about in the mountains, destroying villages, killing all the males we could find, and capturing women and children. We have killed about 30 altogether, and have 28 prisoners now in camp. The prisoners we will take with us and probably send them from California by sea to the Superintendent of Indian Affairs in Oregon. He having them in his possession will probably be able to bring the tribe to terms.
June 28th, 1851.
I regret I have so little time that I can give you none of the details of our operation. We are all well in camp, and tomorrow we recommence our march towards California, which I hope will not again be interrupted.
Yours very truly, R.S.W. [likely Lt. Robert S. Williamson]Oregonian, Portland, August 2, 1851, page 2
Permanent Camp, Rogue RiverTo Brevt. Maj. Kearny
June 28th, 1851.
1st Dragoons, U.S.A.
Sir: Allow me for myself and my fellow citizens of Oregon to express our sincere gratitude to you and the officers and soldiers under your command for the prompt, able and efficient manner you have conducted your military operations against the Indians of this valley.
Be assured, sir, that for the bravery and patriotism you have displayed in their defense the people of Oregon will ever and gratefully join your names to the list of those of her dearest friends.
Though we are aware that [for] an officer like yourself already known to fame and highly appreciated by his country no new laurels can be gathered in a field like this, yet allow us to assure you that should your love of duty prevail so far over your private interests as to cause your return to Oregon, be assured, sir, that to no other officer of the army would the people of this Territory more confidently entrust their interests and safety.
I am, sir, with great[Kearny's handwriting]
Respect your sincere
This was consequent on my saving the settlements by attacking and beating the Rogue River Indians. Joseph Lane, Esq., had been a successful general in Mexico--recently governor of Oregon--and was a candidate (& elected) for Congress.
Joseph Lane Papers, OHS Mss 1146, Oregon Historical Society Research Library. From a typescript transcription on OHS letterhead, misdated June 28th, 1852.
Camp Stuart, Saturday, June 29, 1851,
Branch of Rogue River.Sir: I have the honor to continue the report of my late movements against the Rogue River Indians. My desire had been, by assembling a large force of volunteers, to simultaneously occupy the principal passes of the mountains, so that the Indians, retiring before our main party, might be intercepted in their retreat to the inner villages--our difficulty being a want of knowledge of the country and their system of detecting our movements by spies on the most elevated peaks.
The position of my camp enabled me, while awaiting volunteers, to cover the road, and to afford a safe resting spot to parties from the mines. I recaptured the only packs robbed within miles of me.
Sunday, the 22nd, at noon, Mr. Levi Scott returned from the Rogue River mines, and in the evening Mr. Jesse Applegate, accompanied by Colonel Freaner (of New Orleans), from Shasta plains. The desultory bonds of a mining community caused a comparatively small number to volunteer. Those who did, however, rendered much service, and were extremely active. They amounted, with Captain Humphrey's party (a volunteer force organized at my camp), to near one hundred.
As soon as it became dark, that same night, by a rapid march, I placed myself again near and above the point where I expected to find the rendezvous of the Indian war party. The shortness of the night caused it to be daylight before we could reach it; and our efforts to secure their horses were without avail. The 23rd and 24th were spent in breaking up the Indian ranches, and in destroying such war parties as we could meet.
On the afternoon of the 23rd, there was something of a brisk skirmish, in a dense hammock, with a party, which had been first intercepted by Colonel Freaner's spies. This gentleman deserves to be particularly noticed for the zealous manner with which he left important interests at the Shasta mines to volunteer in this quarter.
The night of the 24th, General Lane, who, on learning of the troubles, had raised a party and had been acting in the vicinity, joined our camp. As General Lane was present in a private capacity, it was not possible to yield (as I would have desired), as due to his position and distinguished reputation, the command of my detachment; but I had the honor, from that time, of acting in cooperation with him.
Accompanying General Lane with part of my dragoons (Captain Walker, Captain Humphreys and Colonel Freaner scouring the country at opposite points), we forded Rogue River from the left bank, at a point about ten miles above the ferry; and following up a creek, over a country hitherto unexplored, we spent the next three days in making a circuit around the stronghold near Table Rock. We returned to Camp Stuart (our permanent camp) on the evening of the 27th instant.
Whilst on this detour, General Lane's party succeeded in capturing the family of the head chief.
The occupations of the citizens are such, that in thus spiritedly turning out, they have done everything that could be expected. I declined assuming any direct command over them, although they have cheerfully acted on such points as I assigned to them. Governor Lane, of course, would have been chosen to that command had they acted in one body.
We have taken many prisoners from among the women and children--above thirty. They will prove useful in effecting a treaty, or holding the Indians in check. It was impossible to spare the men, as they combat with desperation to the last, meeting any advances with treachery. In these late affairs, there have been a number of wounded, but none seriously.
The volunteers broke up on the 28th instant. This morning, the 29th, I will resume my march to California. The lateness of the rainy season, the temporary nature of my outfit for the detachment, this late delay of more than a fortnight's operations, which counts from my leaving Knotts, on the South Umpqua, imperatively demand that I lose no time (according to division orders) in organizing the Dragoons in California with the Rifle transfers, those present with us and those who went by sea; and I consequently must content myself with these rapid operations, which, as the enemy has been dispersed and many severe blows inflicted on him by the loss of life, capture of families and destruction of property, have had all and more success than I could have hoped. Still a post is instantly demanded to maintain quiet; nor have I any faith in a treaty with these people.
Whilst again recounting the efficiency of Brevet Captain Walker and Lieutenant Williamson, it gives me pleasure to state that Lieutenant , who has commanded detachment Company A, has proved himself as valuable a line officer as he has been indefatigable as acting Quartermaster and Commissary.
Assistant Surgeon Edgar has been untiring in the discharge of his duties to the sick and wounded. I am, sir, very respectfully, etc.,
Brevet Major First Dragoons, Comdg.Elwood Evans, History of the Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washington, 1889, page 386
THE INDIAN DIFFICULTIES
The latest intelligence from the scene of Indian warfare appears to be that the U.S. troops, with a company of volunteers under General Lane, have had several fights with the Indians, in which a large number of the Indians had been killed, while no losses had been sustained by the whites, and but three wounded. The Indians have been dispersed, and Major Kearny had gone on to California with his U.S. troops, taking along some thirty or forty squaws and children as prisoners. The Indians had been so badly beaten that they showed but little disposition to fight the troops but were hovering on the track of Maj. Kearny, to see what was to become of their squaws and children.
Governor Gaines was at Rogue River endeavoring to effect a treaty with the Indians. We learn also that dispatches have been received from him, wishing to ascertain if any of the government troops under Maj. Hathaway at Astoria could be spared, and containing information that Maj. Thorp had offered himself and a company of volunteers. The Governor making inquiries of the proper government officer as to the means in his hands for paying volunteers, in case he should accept the services of the same.
General Lane had gone to the mines, but would return shortly. Although the Indians show no disposition to fight a strong force, it is not safe to travel among them only in considerable numbers. They evidently need a sound thrashing--and the sooner it is given them the better it will be for all concerned.
Oregon Weekly Times, Portland, July 17, 1851, page 2
Fort Long, Rogue River Ferry
June 29, 1851.
I arrived at this place on the 25th; our company from the north side of the Kanyon consisted of fourteen persons, but at this time it is not considered safe for so small a party to travel.
The government troops who have been on the river above here hunting Indians have left for California with over thirty prisoners; all women and children. In one of the battles we had seven men wounded, and in the first engagement Capt. Stuart was killed and two men wounded.
The volunteers who have been with the regulars commenced arriving here this morning in small parties, en route for the Willamette Valley. In the several battles they have had it is reported that only three Indians have been known to be killed. Some of the Indian women taken prisoners have been most brutally treated.
In order to effect anything here the Governor will have to permit volunteer companies to organize under his sanction and form a volunteer army. Not much doing in the mines at present. A man by the name of Geo. Sanderson was shot through the arm last night by a man named Jesse while on guard. The bearer is ready to leave and I must close.
Yours in haste,
Oregonian, Portland, July 19, 1851, page 2
. . . [Dr. William Willis Oglesby] was  years of age when he captained the band of 55 volunteers who at the now historic battle of Willow Springs for 12 hours held at bay some 1000 bloodthirsty redskins. He can still tell, as if it had happened but yesterday, of how, with his trusty needle gun (a weapon now long out of style) he brought down at the first shot Chief Buffalo Horn [Chucklehead?], who was chasing one of the pickets of the volunteer band down the mountainside.
A sheep corral was the only fortification the white men had, but with butcher knives and other crude entrenching tools they "dug in" and set a style of warfare that has since been imitated on European battlefields.
The captain seemed to bear a charmed life and though constantly exposing himself in passing back and forth directing his men, he was not touched by a bullet until the party was discovered at daybreak the next day while trying to make their escape. His [Barlow's?] knee was seriously crippled, but none of his men knew of that fact until after they were saved by the arrival of a regiment of regulars.
"After 81 Years of Eventful Life Is Still an Active Practitioner," Cottage Grove Sentinel, April 19, 1918, page 1 The Sentinel printed that Oglesby was "40" years old at the time of the battle; I'm assuming the age was misheard or misprinted--and Oglesby inflated his role in the skirmish, as he did other details. Other writers do mention the corral at Willow Springs in 1851, but no regulars were in the Rogue Valley until weeks later.
From Oregon.The Oregon papers are filled with accounts of the war between the whites and Indians on the Rogue River. The immediate causes which led to this outbreak was the attack by the Indians upon a party of Oregon miners who were returning home, and were attacked near the crossing of Rogue's River, on the 1st of June. The party of whites numbered twenty-six men, and the Indians from two hundred to three hundred. The whites retreated without sustaining any injury. The next day a party of four persons were attacked, and their mules and baggage taken away. On the next day Mr. McBride's company of thirty-two men and seventeen boys were attacked. The engagement lasted several hours, some five or six Indians being killed, and none of the whites being injured, except one, Mr. Barlow, of Oregon City, who was severely wounded in the thigh by an arrow. Gen. Lane and Gov. Gaines have both gone to the scene of disturbances, in hopes of settling the difficulty amicably, but it was supposed that their efforts would be unsuccessful. The Indians have declared eternal warfare against the whites, and nothing short of an exterminating war will put a stop to their outrages.
A short time since the San Francisco papers published a full account of the discovery of a new bay on the coast, in Southern Oregon, and the location of a town named Port Orford. It is feared that the pioneers who were left there have since been massacred by the Indians.
Louisville Courier, Louisville, Kentucky, August 11, 1851, page 3
The prominent topics of interest in the Oregon papers relate to the hostility of the Indians. Of late, repeated skirmishes have taken place between small parties of whites and larger parties of Indians, in which the Indians have shown great courage. They are the Rogue River Indians, and are said to have sworn eternal hostility against the whites. The Snake Indians, also, give signs of restlessness. Gov. Lane, who has great influence with the Oregon Indians, has gone to the seat of hostilities, on Rogue River, with the hope of being able to compose the disturbances.
"From Oregon," Franklin Democrat, Greenfield, Massachusetts, August 11, 1851, page 2
It was also reported that a young man named David Dilley, while on his way from Oregon City to this place, was killed by the Rogue River Indians. Mr. Dilley was about 22 years of age; his native place was Illinois.
T.J.R., "Trinidad Correspondence," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, July 2, 1851, page 2
ANOTHER INDIAN WAR.--The accounts from Rogue River are such as to have induced the Executive of this State to authorize General Miles of Marysville to repair to the seat of difficulties, and if it be required to call out the state militia and organize a campaign, with the express understanding that the troops must look to the general government for their pay, as the state cannot become responsible for a further outlay.
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, July 8, 1851, page 2
From the Indian Country.There are numerous and contradictory reports from the Rogue River country. But according to the most reliable information we have been able to obtain, the troops, together with about forty volunteers under command of Gen. Lane, have had several engagements with the Indians, and finally succeeded in routing them and driving them into the mountains, with a loss of about fifty killed and a large number wounded. None of the whites were killed, and but three or four were wounded. About thirty Indians, mostly women, were taken prisoners. None of the parties coming in were willing to become responsible for the return of the prisoners to the settlements, and Major Kearny proceeded with them to California. The Indians would not fight again, and Gen. Lane had therefore gone to the mines. He expected to return in the course of a few weeks. Gov. Gaines had not overtaken the party when the news of the defeat of the Indians was received, and he returned to the ferry on Rogue River, with a view of endeavoring to form a treaty with the hostile tribes.
It is said to be still unsafe to pass through their country unless in parties of from fifteen to twenty. That though so far defeated as to prevent them from engaging in anything like an open, organized fight, they will embrace every opportunity to cut off small parties and to rob and murder. And that they will continue to do it until thoroughly subdued or exterminated, notwithstanding any treaty they may enter into.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, July 15, 1851, page 2
The Indians still continue troublesome on the borders of Oregon. . . .
Very unpleasant tidings have been received from Rogue River Valley, concerning an encounter which was had with the Indians by the U.S. dragoons,on the 18th June, in which Captain Stuart, an officer highly respected and esteemed, was killed.
The following account of the affair is given by the Times:
"We have received intelligence that an encounter was had with the Rogue River Indians by a detachment of thirty U.S. troops on the 18th of June, in Rogue River Valley, near Table Rock. Capt. Stuart was shot through with an arrow, and lived 24 hours after receiving the wound. His dying words to his comrades were: 'It is too hard, after fighting six hard battles in Mexico, to be killed by an Indian.' Two Americans were slightly wounded. There were 100 Indians in the battle, and 17 were left dead on the field.
"It is said that there are more than 1000 warriors there who are hostile. Five hundred volunteers are expected from the mines to fight them. Gov. Gaines has a party of twelve men, and Gen. Lane another one of thirty, pushing on to the scene of danger. The Indian chief is reported to be very intelligent, and told the Americans that he could keep the air filled with 1000 arrows if he chose. We apprehend serious difficulty before the affair is settled. The best mode, in our opinion, is to subdue them, and the quicker the better. The Rogue River Indians are hostile the whole length of the river, and it is not safe to travel among them. The miners are represented as doing tolerably well, though few large strikes are made."
"Oregon Intelligence," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, July 16, 1851, page 2
The Governor's "Treaty."
An intelligent Umpqua friend, writing under date of July 23rd, says: "The treaty is pronounced a perfect farce. Gov. Gaines was in the Indian country for some time and talked with a few Rogue River Indians. The hostile savages refused to meet him. They are the Grave Creek and Siskiyou Mountain Indians. The tribe with which he treated are now, and, as I understand, ever have been friendly. In fact they are abused by neighboring tribes for being so. The treaty is not only insufficient, but every act of the Governor is, also."
The general opinion entertained of this "treaty" in the southern part of the Territory may be gathered from the allusion made to it by our regular Umpqua correspondent, "Ewald," whose interesting letter will be found in another column. The unmistakable murmurings of the people of that section at the inefficient, do-nothing course pursued by the Governor seem to have changed to ridicule of the farcical manner of its close.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, August 5, 1851, page 2
Indian hostilities on Rogue River appear to be brought nearly to a close. From the miners who are just in we learn that Governor Gaines was at Rogue River Ferry, awaiting the action of the Indians, who were gathering their scattered remnants to prepare for making a treaty with Gov. Gaines. The general impression is now that a military post at Rogue River will ensure peace and safety to those in that region.
"Later from Oregon," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, August 5, 1851, page 2
Our files of the Oregonian and Spectator, via California, reach to the 21st of June.
The most important news to be noticed is the existence of general and preconcerted Indian hostilities on Rogue River, in which several parties of whites have been attacked, and several persons robbed and killed.
On the 1st of May, Sunday, 20 miles beyond Rogue River, at the Green Willow Spring, 26 men, returning to the Willamette Valley from the mines, were attacked about noon by a band of Indians numbering from 150 to 300 warriors. The whites left the ground without sustaining any injury. The next day, a party of four persons was attacked, and their mules, together with their baggage and packs, were carried off by the Indians. They were recovered by a troop of soldiers, from the Shasta, on the following day--mules, baggage and packs.
On Tuesday, Dr. McBride's company, 32 persons, men and boys, was attacked; the company had only 17 guns, and the Indians had from 15 to 25. The Indians commenced firing; a brisk engagement ensued, which was kept up nearly the whole time for about four hours. During the encounter, some five or six Indians were killed and as many more wounded, several of whose wounds were considered mortal. Among the killed was a chief, Chuckle-Head, considered by them a great warrior. The Indians were finally repulsed, leaving their dead upon the field of action.
On the day before, four men were attacked at this place and robbed of several animals and their packs, and one of the party wounded in the heel with a musket ball. The provision stolen was lying about the ground untouched. They eat nothing they steal from the whites, for fear of being poisoned. It is said that a Mr. Turner, of St. Louis, destroyed a portion of this same tribe, sixteen or seventeen years since, by poisoning them to rob him of a quantity of poisoned provisions.
We copy from the Statesman the following particulars of the origin of the war:
"About two weeks previous to the happening of the above difficulties, a party of three white men and two supposed friendly Indians on the way to the mines camped about 12 miles beyond. During the night the Indians arose, and taking the only gun in the party, shot one of them, a young man named David Dilley, and fled to the mountains, taking with them the mules and packs. The other two escaped and returned to a company two miles further back, who immediately went and buried the body of the murdered man. Upon hearing of this, a party of thirty left the Shasta mines under the command of Capt. Long, of Portland, to revenge young Dilley's death. At the Rogue River crossing they came upon a party of Indians and killed a second chief and one other Indian, and took two of the head chief's daughters and two men prisoners. The chief demanded the prisoners, but the captors refused to release them until the murderers of Dilley were given up and the stolen property restored. He refused to yield to this demand and left, saying he should return with his warriors and destroy the party.
"It is said he can rally several hundred warriors. Capt. Long's company were at the crossing when our informant left, awaiting the threatened attack.
"The Umpqua Indians report that the Rogue River tribes have taken their women and children to Cow Creek, between the Rogue River and Umpqua country, preparatory to a formal declaration of hostilities against the whites.
"A messenger arrived here on Sunday, bringing petitions from citizens of Umpqua to Gov. Gaines, for authority to raise a volunteer company to fight the Indians. The Governor left this city on Tuesday to visit the scene of difficulties and learn what measures are necessary to restore peace.
"Gen. Lane started last week for the mines, and it is reported that he intended to take a party with him to chastise the Indians."
. . . New diggings had been discovered on Rogue River before hostilities broke out, which yield as well as the Shasta mines.
. . . Jacob Parsons, formerly of Quincy, Ill., was killed by the Indians beyond Rogue River, in Oregon. Mr. Parsons had for some months worked at his trade, blacksmithing, in Oregon City.
. . . New gold mines have been discovered in the south of Oregon, which yield remarkably well.
New York Daily Tribune, August 7, 1851, page 7
For the Spectator.
Umpqua, July 5, 1851.
Having recently returned from Rogue River, late the field of Maj. Kearny's military operations, I may perhaps be able to give some information interesting to your readers.
Though not eyewitness to most of the skirmishes between the whites and Indians, as they have been the themes for abler pens, it is not my purpose to detail them, but to attempt a description of the various routes by which Maj. Kearny invested and scoured the Rogue River country. Ascertaining at Mr. Knott's house (at the mouth of the Canyon) that the Rogue River Indians were in actual hostilities with the white, and that they had embodied in the neighborhood of the Table Rock, Maj. Kearny determined to attack them at that point.
Table Rock is a noted landmark in the Rogue River Valley, on the north side of the river, which washes its base, about five miles north of the [Willow] Springs, and twenty miles above the crossing; it is by nature a strong military position, and from it marauding parties could by a few hours' march make their descents upon the unwary from the crossing of the river to the Siskiyou Mountains. Using the rock as a watchtower, the Indians in perfect security themselves have a large extent of the valley and a long line of the road under their eyes--which enables them to determine the strength of each passing party and the place of their encampment. To penetrate the Rogue River Valley by a route entirely new, which would enable him to attack and perhaps surprise the enemy in the rear of this stronghold, was the grand plan of Maj. Kearny's campaign, and the defeat and desperation of the Indians followed as a consequence of its successful executive.
This movement at a favorable time would have been easily effected, but owing to rainy weather and high water at the commencement of the march, it was not to be achieved without labor and perseverance.
Following the course of the South Umpqua, Major Kearny, by making ferries at some crossings and opening roads over mountains to avoid others, was three laborious days in reaching a point on that river only about 20 miles east of the canyon, which as the road is good when the river is fordable, may be traveled with pack animals in five or six hours.
From this point the line of march crosses the South Umpqua (which here comes from a northeasterly direction) and takes up a large creek which heads southerly, following the course of this stream sometimes through fir timber, but most generally through prairie in the bottom, or over grassy oak hills along the westerly face of the mountain. In about 15 miles the creek forks and the route still keeping a south course takes up the ridge between them, which it follows to the summit of the mountain dividing the valleys of Rogue River and Umpqua, and descends to the latter valley between the branches of a tributary of and about 5 miles from the main Rogue River.
The route chosen by Maj. Kearny was an old Indian trail which evidently from time immemorial served as the line of communication between the valleys; like all Indian roads, it seeks the open rather than the direct way between the points, besides many steep and rocky places, which might be easily avoided; it passes over the highest peak of the mountain dividing the valleys, while it is evident that on both sides there are chasms (perhaps canyons) where a road might be opened many hundreds of feet lower than the path.
Lieut. Williamson, of the Corps of Engineers, estimates the length of the march as follows:
From Knott's (mouth of canyon) to the leaving of South Umpqua,
I have therefore no hesitation in saying that by taking a route more easterly than the present one through the Umpqua Valley, so as to strike the headwaters of Myrtle Creek, and from thence to cross over to the South Umpqua at or near the point where Maj. Kearny's route leaves it, persons with horses bound to Shasta or other parts of California from Willamette, will save a day's travel and have as good a road as the present one, and further, that half the amount of labor bestowed upon the present road will make of Maj. Kearny's route a shorter and in all respects a better wagon road.
I must so far notice the military results of Maj. Kearny's plan as to say that aside from the death of the gallant Capt. Stuart, I consider the first collision with the Indians as very unfortunate, because had not this smaller body of Indians supervened, I have no doubt the Maj. with unimpaired forces would have surprised their main body, in which event their power to do mischief would have been destroyed, and his judicious plan completely successful.
A GUIDE.Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, July 22, 1851, page 2
Rumor says there have been several engagements between the soldiery under the command of Major Kearny and the Rogue River Indians. The former are said to have come off every time victorious. We give it as a rumor only. We have nothing reliable since our last from the seat of difficulties.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, July 10, 1851, page 3
Governor's Camp, Rogue River, July 8th.Dear Bush:--I wrote you from Camp Stuart a brief account of Major Kearny's operations in the Rogue River country, and that he had very properly determined to take the prisoners with him. I arrived at the Shasta diggings on the morning of the 30th ult., which is within ten miles of the road leading to California, on which the Major would pass. By Wednesday noon I had my business settled up and was ready to return to Oregon. Lieut. Irvine came in and reported that the Major had passed and would camp near the Shasta Butte, distant 25 miles. I told Irvin that if I could get the prisoners I would take them to Oregon and deliver them to the Governor or Superintendent of Indian Affairs. He immediately dispatched a courier to Major Kearny bearing my letter, proposing to take charge of the prisoners, which reached him by 7 o'clock in the evening. The Major promptly dispatched Capt. Walker with them, who arrived at my camp just before daylight on Thursday morning, where a party of Oregonians, numbering some twenty, among whom was Dan. Waldo, and Hunter and Rust, of Kentucky, and Simonson of Indian bound to Oregon, kindly offered to assist in bringing them in. We immediately set out, and arrived here safe with all the prisoners yesterday noon, where I had the pleasure of finding Gov. Gaines with some fifteen men. To him I delivered the prisoners. His intention is to see the Indians and if possible make peace.
My son Jo. will remain here with the Governor. By noon today I shall set out for the city, but shall be compelled to travel quite slow, as I have to give protection to some wagoners who had the kindness to haul in some of the prisoners who were worn out traveling.
Yours truly,P.S. I omitted to mention that, on my way down to Rogue River with the prisoners, I had a conversation with a considerable number of Indians, across the river, who gave me a terrible account of the invasion of their country by our people--that they had come on horses, in great numbers, invading every portion of it--that they now were afraid to lie down to sleep, for fear the white people would be upon them before they could wake--that they were tired of war, and now wanted peace. I told them that the Governor was at the crossing of the river--that I would leave the prisoners with him, and that they must go and talk with him, and make their propositions of peace to him, who would be glad to see and talk and make peace with them. J.L.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, July 22, 1851, page 2
Correspondence of the Statesman.
Arrival of Messrs. Applegate and Scott--
Road East of the Canon--Gov. Gaines--
Capt. Stuart's Death--Major Kearny--Prisoners &c.
Yoncalla, Umpqua Co., July 2, 1851.
Dear Bush--Messrs. Applegate and Scott have just returned, and report favorably of a road being constructed east of the Canon, and with the necessary improvements being made thirty miles will be saved between Umpqua and Rogue River by pursuing the proposed route. Gov. Gaines was met near Rogue River, urging on with the determination to overtake Major Kearny. His force was small. Should he miss the Major it is supposed that he will return if it is possible for him to do so. The exploring expedition, with Lieut. Williamson, disbanded near the Canon. Major Kearny at once pursued the search himself, retaining the services of those composing the first expedition. They arrived at Rogue River before any Indians were seen. The command were looking out a point at which to ford it when fresh tracks were seen. They followed until a party of Indians were overtaken. One party under Capt. Walker crossed the river, and a party under Capt. Stuart remained on this side. Capt. Stuart and suit dismounted and rushed upon the Indians--a desperate fight ensued. To prevent noise the sabers had been tied to their saddles. They did not stop to free them, but left them. Capt. Stuart engaged himself with one of the wildest warriors, who, until death, devised means of attack upon him. He had been shot repeatedly, apparently without effect. Capt. Stuart approached to dispatch him with his revolver, when he received an arrow which passed into his abdomen, the point lodging in one of his kidneys. After battle--which was over in a few moments--before those in the rear could come up, he was removed to camp, where every attention was shown him which the circumstances offered. He was sensible to the last that he could not live. He spoke of his mother--it was all that troubled him. That mother who looked upon him as a part of her own existence would soon hear of his death. He had escaped seven battles, at a time when the country was losing the best and bravest, and now to throw himself away upon a miserable Indian seemed to weigh him down with grief. His father is dead. He spoke continually of his mother, and gave directions concerning his matters. On the evening of the second day after his misfortune he died with as much resignation as if he was to take but an hour's sleep. His example, considered with his amiable disposition and unblemished character, softened the stoutest hearts.
The Indians at last gathered to three times the number of Major Kearny's command (including volunteers). Among the Indians several white men were seen, aiding them and instructing them. It is believed that the Indians were led on by whites. * * * Fifty Indians were killed. Major Kearny has 40 prisoners which the Governor will bring in if he can. The chief's squaws are among them. One or two talks were had without effecting anything. The chief requested the Major to fight, and refused to make peace. The Indians are determined to fight. Too much credit cannot be given to Major Kearny. He manifested the same indefatigable spirit which has rendered him eminently popular on former occasions. He is decidedly an accomplished soldier.
Yours, &c.Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, July 22, 1851, page 2
Camp in Shasta Valley, July 7.
Dear Sir: When last I wrote to you, from Rogue River Valley, I had but time to pen you a few hurried lines. I suppose, however, that you have received from other sources full accounts of our operations there.
The command left our depot camp in Rogue River Valley on the 29th ult. to pursue its march to California, and making short marches, our animals having suffered much from the fatigues of the preceding ten days, arrived here on the evening of the 2nd inst. Here we remained the next day to allow the Quartermaster time to procure provisions, &c., from the mining town, some 15 miles distance. Lieut. Irvine, the quartermaster, proceeded to town and procured the necessary supplies, which he sent forward, proposing to follow in an hour and overtake the train before it reached camp. About 3 o'clock p.m. he left town, and having ridden about two miles, dismounted, tied his horse to some bushes, and walked off a few paces for a private purpose. While leisurely arranging his dress, he was suddenly seized from behind by two Indians and a Frenchman, and his hands bound to his back. He was then put on his horse, tied fast to him, and rapidly led a short distance to a retired spot, where he was kept till sunset. He was then taken across very rough hills, in a northwardly direction, till they came to the Klamath River, which they struck some miles below the usual crossing. Here the party stopped, and Lieut. Irvine was bound to a tree, where he was kept some seven or eight hours. In the meantime, the Frenchman held some conversation with one of the Indians in the Wallah-Wallah language [Chinook jargon] about some horses, when the Indians left. Some time after, the other Indian, with whom the Frenchman conversed in what Lieut. Irvine supposed to be the Rogue River tongue, was also sent away. The Frenchman addressed Lieut. Irvine in French, Spanish and jargon, all of which he pretended not to understand, when finally he spoke out in plain English. Sometimes he spoke fluently and sometimes in broken English, but in such a manner as to induce the supposition that his inability to speak well was all pretense. He told Lieut. I. that he was going to turn him over to the Rogue River chief, laughed at him for the manner in which some of our operations had been conducted, and made no hesitation in confessing that he had been with, and advised, the Indians all the time we were in the valley. He was a man over six feet high, about 30 years old, well made, black twinkling eyes, black hair, and wore military whiskers and an imperial--his chin and upper lip being shaved.
About noon the Frenchman commenced molding bullets. The fire was near the tree to which Lieut. I. was tied, and the smoke blowing from him, the Frenchman placed himself between the Lieut. and the fire. About this time Lieut. I. discovered that the cord about his wrist was slightly loose, and after some trouble succeeded in getting one hand free. Then taking his knife from his pocket, he cut the cord from the other. In front of him, and within reach, lay a lead, such as is used in sounding at sea. This he cautiously reached, and having carefully twisted the cord attached to it around his wrist to prevent his dropping it in a scuffle, he stepped forward and with one blow buried the lead in the Frenchman's brains so deep that it stuck fast. Leaving the man for dead, he immediately went to get his arms and horse, but accidentally turning, saw the Frenchman had raised himself on his knee and was in the act of discharging an arrow at him. The arrow passed through the cloth of his pantaloons without inflicting any injury, and the man immediately after fell back dead. At this time, an Indian was heard to halloo some distance off, and another answered from a hill opposite. Lieut. I. mounted immediately and about 10 o'clock that night reached the mining town, after having spent a very uncomfortable 4th of July.
This is the most daring piece of kidnapping I think I ever heard of--perpetrated in the daytime, in the heart of a densely populated mining district, and but a couple of miles from a town of 500 inhabitants. We supposed, while in Rogue River Valley, we saw some whites among the Indians, but the extreme improbability of men accustomed to a civilized state of society adopting this mode of life, and waging a war of murder and robbery against their fellow citizens, inclined us to doubt the evidence of our senses. The fact is now placed beyond doubt, and it should have an important influence when a treaty is made with this tribe. Who this Frenchman was, it is impossible for us to say. The circumstances that occurred may be the means of ascertaining this point. Just before we left Portland, Lieut. Irvine procured a watch from Mr. Couch, a merchant of your city. After capturing him the Frenchman examined his pockets, and upon looking at the watch said, "I must have seen this watch before." Upon more careful examination he remarked, "I remember now, I saw it at Couch's in Portland."
It is probably that these men had followed the command on account of the prisoners we had with us. On the night of the 2nd the prisoners were sent to town, and turned over to Gen. Lane, who had agreed to take them to the proper authority in Oregon. Accident threw Mr. Irvine in their way and they seized him. He certainly had a most remarkable escape.
I mentioned in my first letter to you that Maj. Kearny had a strong desire to make this march beneficial to the country by gaining such information with regard to the route as would enable the citizens to open other roads, avoiding the most difficult places, and the information he gained on the route he took to avoid the canyon was of much importance. Up to this point, the road from Oregon is traveled by wagons, but beyond it is only passable by packs--the only wagon road at present known passing far to the eastward by Goose Lake, and being some 200 miles farther than this route. From information which the Major has obtained, he is led to hope that a route passing east of Mt. Shasta may be found, which will be a good wagon route; and he has detached Lieut. Williamson, topographical engineer, with a party of twenty men to examine that country. Maj. Freaner, who traveled over a portion of the route last year with the command of Capt. Lyons, 2nd Infantry, has kindly volunteered to accompany Lieut. W., and with his knowledge of the country and his remarkable backwoods instinct, you may feel pretty confident that if such a route exists it will be found. The road will enter the Sacramento Valley shortly above Redding's house, coming down Cow Creek. The only difficulty exists between this point and Pit River. A wagon road which could be traveled in seven days from here to Redding's would be an immense advantage to this section of the country, and a great thing for both Oregon and California, as it would shorten the route from 10 to 15 days. Still there are some who hope the party will be unsuccessful. There is quite a large town at "Redding's Springs," 25 mils north of Redding's house, and if the new route is opened all the travel now passing through this town will be taken in another direction. I am told that the citizens of this town offer a reward of $3000 to anyone who will find a wagon route west of the present traveled route.
I will write you from California, telling you the rest of Lieut. Williamson's exploration, and speaking more fully of the different parts of the present route, showing how it may be improved, for I believe this will be a subject upon which much interest is felt by many of your fellow citizens in Oregon.
Yours, very truly, R.S.W. [likely Lt. Robert S. Williamson]Oregonian, Portland, August 9, 1851, page 2
Second Lieutenant Caleb E. Irvine, Mounted Riflemen, June 30, 1851.
"Resignations," United Service Journal, February 21, 1852, page 75 The Montana Historical Society says he resigned in September 1851.
Governors Camp, Rogue River
July 8th 1851Dear Bush
I write you from Camp Stuart a brief account of Major Kearny's operations in the Rogue River country, and that he had very properly determined to take the prisoners with him. I arrived at the Shasta diggings on the morning of the 30th ult, which is within ten miles of the road leading to California on which the Major would pass by Wednesday noon. I had my business settled up and was ready to return to Oregon. Lt Irwin [Irvine?] came in and reported that the Major had passed and would camp near the Shasta Butte, distant 25 miles. I told Irwin that if I could get the prisoners I would take them to Oregon and deliver them to the Governor or Supt of Indian Affairs.
He immediately dispatched a courier to Major Kearny bearing my letter, proposing to take charge of the prisoners, which reached him by seven o'clock in the evening. The Major promptly dispatched Capt Walker with them, who arrived at my camp just before daylight on Thursday morning. When a party of Oregonians, numbering some twenty, among whom was Dan, Waldo [Dan. Waldo?] and Hunter and Rust of Kentucky and Simonson of Ia. bound to Oregon, kindly offered to assist in bringing them in. We immediately set out and arrived here safe with all the prisoners, yesterday noon, when I had the pleasure of finding Gov Gaines with some fifteen men. To him I delivered the prisoners. His intention is to see the Indians and if possible make peace.
My son Jo will remain here with the Governor. By noon today I shall set out for the City but shall be compelled to travel quite slow, as I have to give protection to some wagoners who had the kindness to haul in some of the prisoners who were worn out traveling.
P.S. I omitted to mention that on my way down Rogue River with the prisoners I had a conversation with a considerable number of Indians across the river, who gave me a terrible account of the invasion of their country by our people. That they had come on horses in great numbers invading every portion of their country, that they now were afraid to lay down to sleep for fear the white people would be upon them before they could wake, that they were tired of war and now wanted peace. I told them that the Governor was at the crossing of the river, that I would leave the prisoners with him, and that they must go and talk with him and make their propositions of peace to him, who would be glad to see and talk and make peace with them.
"Copied from original letters in possession of Asahel Bush, Salem, Oregon." This particular letter was mistranscribed as being from 1857. The image of the original can be found on the second microfilm reel of the Jo Lane Papers.
The Indian Difficulties.
The latest intelligence from the Rogue River country, reported by Gen. Lane within ten miles of Table Rock, the place where the recent engagement between the troops and Indians took place. He had about 30 men and was hurrying on with all possible dispatch to give the Indians battle. The latter were collected in considerable force nearby, and were expecting a renewal of the attack. They said they were ready for war and would fight until every white man was driven from their country.
The report that a lieutenant was mortally wounded appears to have been a mistake. No lieutenant was wounded, but two privates were, and one mortally, it was supposed.
The brave Capt. Stuart was shot through the breast with an arrow. He survived about twenty-four hours. His last words are said to have been "It is too bad that I should have fought through half the battles of Mexico unharmed, to be killed here by an Indian."
The general impression seems to be that much hard fighting must be done before the Indians can be subdued. They are reported to be numerous and warlike, and deadly hostile to the white race. It is said to be useless to treat with them--that they are treacherous and faithless, and would not hesitate to violate their treaty obligations whenever an opportunity to rob or murder presented itself. We understand that Gen. Lane formed a treaty with these same tribes about one year since, but that it has, from that time to this, been violated with impunity on the part of the Indians. If, then, all peaceable means have failed of securing redress and safety, severe measures should be resorted to and vigorously prosecuted until the Indians are taught to respect the lives and property of the whites.
The Washington Union, in commenting upon the former policy of our government with reference to the hostile Indian tribes, remarks that the true method of war with them is as plain as that two and two make four. It is not to wait for them to strike and fly, but to follow them into their mountain haunts, seize their horses and property, break up their camps and deposits of stolen goods, and scatter their warriors to the winds. Those who are familiar with their habits and pursuits can easily direct the course to be adopted. They are fond of their families, and after getting them together in some fine, secluded valley, abounding with grass, wood, water and game, they pass their time in numerous assemblages with real savage comfort and independence. This is the "day and the hour" to assail them. Two or three well-mounted regiments could easily hunt them out, surround and capture or destroy them. This course would annihilate them, or subdue their daring spirit. They would then see and feel our power, and, finding their mountain homes, always deemed impregnable, exposed to our arms, they would yield or be at our mercy. This is the course the government should at once adopt, and it is the only one that can ever be effectual. Embody a few battalions of Texas and Arkansas rangers for this service, push on with vigor and skill, and we believe that we would soon see these Indian depredations checked for all time to come. We are indebted to a very intelligent gentleman, who has resided for many years in that section of country, for these suggestions, and they are so palpably reasonable and practicable that we have deemed it our duty to lay them before the public. We hope the vacillating, temporizing policy that has hitherto prevailed will be abandoned for this, or some other not unworthy of our national character.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, July 8, 1851, page 2
FROM SHASTA VALLEY.--We see it stated in the Sacramento Union of the 14th that tidings of the death of Capt. Stuart, who was killed in an engagement with the Rogue River Indians, were received from Shasta Valley. That paper further says:
Lieut. Irvine was also captured by a Frenchman and two Indians. The lieutenant subsequently made his escape by killing the Frenchman with a bar of lead, with which they were casting bullets.
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, July 17, 1851, page 2
Latest from the Indian War.
On the 27th ult., Major Kearny ceased operations against the Rogue River Indians, having spent some twelve days in securing the Indian country. Many battles or skirmishes were fought and some fifty Indians were killed and many wounded, thirty prisoners taken, their villages burned and provisions (consisting of salmon, roots, berries and grass seed) destroyed. They were no longer to be found in force; broken up, they had fled for safety in small parties to the mountains, inaccessible for a mounted force, men and horses, regulars and volunteers worn out by almost constant hard service during the whole time. The major concluded to rest his command a day or two, and then in obedience to his orders proceed on his way to California. On the 28th the volunteers disbanded and most of them started for the diggings; but few were bound to Oregon, consequently not in sufficient force to safely conduct the prisoners to the settlements. Major Kearny was determined not to release them until peace could be made with their people. Concluding to take them to California and send them up by sea to the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, he proceeded with them to near the Shasta Butte, where he was overtaken by an express with a proposition from Gen. Lane (who had gone to Shasta diggings after active operations had ceased), to take the prisoners back to Oregon. The Major promptly complied and sent them back to the diggings by Capt. Walker, who traveled all night to get them to the diggings, where he delivered them to Gen. Lane, who had formed a party of some fifteen Oregonians, who promptly offered to assist in conducting the prisoners safely to the settlements, or until they could meet the Governor, who had been reported to be on his way to the scene of hostilities. The party arrived at the crossing of Rogue River on the 7th inst., where they found Gov. Gaines with some fifteen or twenty men, and to him they delivered the prisoners. On their way in, Gen. Lane had a talk with some fifty or sixty of the Indians; they manifested a desire for peace. The Gov. sent out his interpreter on the 8th inst. to invite the chiefs to come in for the purpose of talking with them about the difficulties, and if possible to make peace.
On the same day General Lane's party left for the settlements. The Gov. and his party were all well and in good spirits.
These Indians have for the first time been severely handled and well punished for their villainous conduct; they had collected a strong force for the purpose of killing and robbing our people while on their way to and from the mines, had committed many robberies, besides killing Dilley and one another man.
Major Kearny and command, regulars and volunteers, deserve the highest praise for their good conduct during the whole affair.
How exceedingly unfortunate it is for Oregon that the remnant of the Rifle Regiment should be ordered from the Territory at this time. Our interests are greatly paralyzed, the entire Territory left unprotected at the time when everyone must see the absolute necessity of a garrison in the Rogue River Valley.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, July 22, 1851, page 2
The Indian Difficulties.
Gov. Gaines has returned from Rogue River. We learn from a gentleman who was with him at the ferry that he made a "treaty" with all but one tribe of the hostile Indians, by which they are to deliver up all stolen property, and to permit the whites to pass through their country unmolested. The whites are also to restore all property taken from the Indians. The Governor presented the Indians with fifteen or twenty blankets, a keg of tobacco and a quantity of pipes.
The prisoners left by Gen. Lane were given up before the so-called treaty was made. It was signed by Gov. Gaines and by eleven Indian chiefs.
We trust this proceeding will prove instrumental in securing peace, but we understand it to be entirely informal, and without binding force. If we mistake not, when the office of Superintendent of Indian Affairs in Oregon was created that officer was invested with this authority; if so, the Governor has no power whatever to make such a treaty.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, July 29, 1851, page 2
We had the pleasure of seeing Gov. Gaines the other day, who has just returned from the late scene of hostilities on Rogue River. He arrived at the ferry on Rogue River with some ten men, whom he employed on the road as he hurriedly traveled along. He found, very much to his regret, that Major Kearny had left for California with the women and children captured by him in his late operations there. Being thus left without any military force, as above indicated, the Gov. increased his force as best he could from among the returning miners, and by means of an interpreter, whom he procured in the Umpqua Valley with difficulty, he tendered to the Indians peace or war, as best suited their taste. They gladly embraced the former and came to his camp in considerable numbers, say one hundred, amongst whom were eleven chiefs.
The Governor succeeded in concluding a treaty, which he thinks will be kept by them, provided an efficient Indian agent, aided by a small military force, are stationed there, both of which he hopes will be shortly forthcoming. The Indians place themselves under the exclusive jurisdiction and protection of the government of the United States, and bind themselves to restore all property at any time stolen from the whites.
The timely castigation given them by Major Kearny has impressed them favorably with the ability of our government to punish them, which the Governor is of opinion will incline them to observe the treaty. He thinks, however, that travelers will be safe only by caution and vigilance, on account of their (the Indians') thievish disposition, which being tempted, they could with difficulty resist.
The trade now being carried on between this Territory and California is found to be highly advantageous to our people, and the miners and traders who are honestly engaged in their lawful business generally ascribe the late difficulties to the indiscreet acts of a few unprincipled white men, and are, naturally enough, anxious to be relieved from the effect of such misconduct in the future.
In a former number of the Spectator we stated, on the authority of a miner, that a number of persons had offered their services to the Governor to overrun their country and slay the savages wherever they might be found. The Governor informed us that no such offer or tender of services was made by any person for such purposes. We willingly make this correction in order to set the matter before the public in its true light.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, July 29, 1851, page 2
Indian hostilities on Rogue River appear to be brought nearly to a close. From the miners who are just in we learn that Governor Gaines was at Rogue River Ferry, awaiting the action of the Indians, who were gathering their scattered remnants to prepare for making a treaty with Gov. Gaines. The general impression is now that a military post at Rogue River will ensure peace and safety to those in that region.
"Later from Oregon," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, August 5, 1851, page 2
For the Spectator.
My Dear Sir--I am happy to inform the citizens of Oregon that an amicable peace has been concluded with the Rogue River Indians by Governor Gaines. I am sorry to see any reflections cast upon our Governor for this step. The perseverance with which he met and overcame difficulties to accomplish this most desirable end is worthy of all praise. By reason of protracted and severe sickness, there was no [Indian] Agent in that field when the Governor, at the risk of his life, resorted to the theatre of war and carnage. By his prudence and good management, he finally collected the Indians, and they were in peaceful council when I arrived. The next day the treaty was concluded, to all appearances, greatly to the satisfaction of the Indians. I believe the Indians on their part will respect the treaty if they are not molested by the whites. All white persons, therefore, who may have occasion to travel or abide in that country, are respectfully, but most earnestly requested to aid the officers of government in maintaining peace and a good understanding with these tribes. The conditions of the treaty are to give up prisoners and property on both sides. The whites are to give up all property they have taken from the Indians; the Indians are to restore the property they have taken from the whites. For this end those persons who have taken horses from the Rogue River country are requested to restore such horses or mules, or an equivalent, to the Agent without delay. Persons who refuse to do so make it necessary for the law to double the amount, besides meeting all cost. Of course the government will redeem its own pledge. All persons who have lost property by the Rogue River Indians are requested to send in bills, with the prices of such property at the time and place of the loss. Sufficient testimony should accompany such bills to satisfy the government that the property was really taken or caused to be taken, or destroyed, or lost by the Indians. Such bills may be directed to me at Oregon City, or Calapooya, Linn Co., or Yoncalla, Umpqua Co. Persons who take this step, make our their bills properly, accompany them with sufficient testimony, may rest assured that their property will be restored to them, or an equivalent will be retained out of the monies to be paid to the Indians for their lands. Persons who have sustained great losses are respectfully requested to use forbearance. We may not be in a situation to make all their damages good at once. It will not be prudent to retain so much of the monies as to irritate the Indians, until we have an efficient force in that country, either of troops or settlers, to keep them in awe. The commissioners have appointed the 15th of Sept. to meet the Rogue River Indians, and to treat for their lands; and let me again most earnestly entreat my fellow citizens traveling among those Indians, to use every possible method to maintain peace and a good understanding. A little rashness on the part of a single white man may prevent our purchasing the country this season and involve the government in great expense. From testimony on all hands, the great loss of life and property were brought about by the brutal act of a single individual.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, August 5, 1851, page 2
The Governor's "Treaty."
An intelligent Umpqua friend, writing under date of July 23rd, says: "The treaty is pronounced a perfect farce. Gov. Gaines was in the Indian country for some time and talked with a few Rogue River Indians. The hostile savages refused to meet him. They are the Grave Creek and Siskiyou Mountain Indians. The tribe with which he treated are now, and, as I understand, ever have been friendly. In fact they are abused by neighboring tribes for being so. The treaty is not only insufficient, but every act of the Governor is, also."
The general opinion entertained of this "treaty" in the southern part of the Territory may be gathered from the allusion made to it by our regular Umpqua correspondent, "Ewald," whose interesting letter will be found in another column. The unmistakable murmurings of the people in that section at the inefficient, do-nothing course pursued by the Governor seem to have changed to ridicule of the farcical manner of its close.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, August 5, 1851, page 2
August 8th, 1851.
Mr. Dryer:--I notice in the Statesman of this week a letter from its "interesting correspondent," Ewald, in Umpqua, also an editorial originating therefrom. As the "facts" of the one and inferences of the other are alike false, I beg to hand you another version.
I heard the story of Lieut. Irvine in Shasta more than forty days since--two weeks at least before the treaty was made--and the people in that region intend to have it included in the next edition of "Aesop's Fables." I was at the Governor's camp during the negotiations for peace, and the treaty was made with the thirteen head chiefs of Rogue River nation. It is absurd to pretend, as they have, that these things have occurred since. The evident intention is to ridicule Gov. Gaines by any means whatever.
S. A. Clark.Oregonian, Portland, August 9, 1851, page 2
(No confidence need be placed in the statements of fictitious correspondents, and the editor of the Statesman cannot make a statement in relation to a government officer without making a barefaced and deliberation "variation." "As the twig is bent the tree is inclined."--Ed.)
Threatened Renewal of Indian Hostilities.
We have been permitted to make the following extract from a letter of one of the most intelligent citizens of Lafayette, dated
Winchester, Umpqua Co., Aug. 12, '51.Dear Sir:--Reports are here that the Indians between this and Rogue River are becoming very troublesome, having committed several depredations upon persons passing between here and Rogue River. It is also said that the Indians about the Canon are the most troublesome. We intend to be ready up here should any difficulties arise.
Other reports state that a party of Indians surrounded the cabin of a white man and robbed him of everything valuable in his possession and threatened to murder him in case he offered any resistance. This looks as though the effect of the Governor's ill-advised and unauthorized "treaty" will be to cause the robbery and murder of those who have sufficient confidence in it to venture into the Indian country without the numbers and arms necessary for their protection.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, September 2, 1851, page 2
Winchester, Umpqua, O.T.To the Editor of the Oregonian:
Aug. 15, 1851.
Sir--The various incorrect reports which are current in the newspapers of the country in relation to the operations of Gov. Gaines, among the hostile Indians on Rogue River, render it important that a correct account of what he actually did and did not do should be laid before the public.
As I was a member of Gov. Gaines' party, I had an opportunity of knowing what was done, and propose, with your consent, to lay before your readers the following statement:
Gov. Gaines arrived in the Umpqua [Valley] on the 22nd of June last, and announced his intention of at once proceeding to Rogue River. Delaying a few days to raise a small escort, on the 26th he left Winchester, accompanied by ten of the citizens of this valley, en route for the seat of war. By rapid traveling he reached Rogue River about noon of the 28th, and there met a large party of returning miners and volunteers, among them Messrs. Applegate and Scott from this valley. They informed him that the detachment of troops under the command of Brevet Maj. Kearny was encamped at the northern base of the Siskiyou Mountains, intending to cross the next day. Selecting the best animals in his company he dispatched four men on express to Maj. Kearny's camp, bearing a request to him to delay his march one day that he might overtake him. The express reached the camp the same night, having traveled about sixty-five miles that day, but Maj. Kearny, for reasons best known to himself, declined acceding to the request, and the next morning soon after daylight took up the line of march for California.
Upon hearing of the departure of Maj. Kearny, the Governor returned to the crossing of Rogue River and there encamped for the double purpose of recruiting his much exhausted animals and learning, if possible, the whereabouts of the Indians. Hearing that a large body of the enemy were encamped on the north side of the river, about thirty miles below his camp, he proposed to several large parties of returning miners to accompany him as volunteers, for the purpose of attacking them. They however declined so doing, and he was left with his force of only ten men, barely strong enough to act on the defensive.
I mention this in order to correct a false impression which may have arisen from an article (editorial) which appeared in the Spectator, stating that a party had offered their services to the Governor to attack the Indians. To my certain knowledge, no such offer was made; on the contrary, every effort to induce them to do so was declined.
About the 8th of July, Gen. Lane arrived from Shasta having in charge the prisoners, twenty-eight in number, which had been taken during the war. He informed the Governor that on his way down the day previous, he held a conversation with the Indians across the river, about twenty miles above the ford, who expressed to him their great desire for peace, that they were in a starving condition, and that they were unable even to sleep for fear of the "Bostons." To this the General replied that he was informed that the Governor was below at the ferry, and that if they would go down and see him; if they wanted peace in good faith, he had no doubt it would be granted; and on the following morning one of the party, with an interpreter and one of the prisoners, was sent up on the north side of the river to endeavor to communicate with the Indians and acquaint them with our willingness to grant them peace. They proceeded up some distance without seeing any of the enemy, but when opposite the "Point of Rocks" they were fired upon with arrows from the heights above. The interpreter, by addressing them in their own language, made them understand that they were not there for the purpose of molesting them in any way, and made known the Governor's wishes and intentions.
With this new assurance, in addition to what Gen'l. Lane had said to them, they concluded to come to a parley, naming the next day for the interview. On the tenth two Indians (one a minor chief) came to the camp very cautiously, as though fearing treachery, but by a few small presents they were restored to confidence, and expressed a desire for peace. The Governor told them that he wished to see all the chiefs and principal men of the tribe, that he would grant them peace but it must be peace with the whole nation, and appointed a day (the 13th) for a general interview. The Indians left, promising to return, and on the appointed day, soon after sunrise, Indians began to flock in from all quarters, and before noon nearly or quite a hundred had collected. Provisions and a few presents of tobacco &c. were distributed among them, after which they were invited to a council.
They expressed an ardent desire for a cessation of hostilities--said that the whites were everywhere through their country--had killed their men and taken their women and children prisoners--driven them from their fisheries and prairies into the mountains, where they could not obtain the means of subsistence, and that they were in a state of starvation. They seemed to have quite a correct idea of the utter folly of offering any resistance to the power of the whites.
The terms upon which our government was willing to make peace were known to them, and they declared themselves willing to accede to them. The council was then adjourned till next day, and the prisoners, though not permitted to leave the ground, were suffered to intermingle with their friends. They were not, as stated in the Statesman, "given up before the treaty was concluded," nor were they permitted to hold any intercourse with their people until they had signified their willingness to agree to the terms proposed.
On the morning of the 14th, a treaty was drawn up and signed by the Governor on the part of the U. States, and by eleven chiefs on the part of the Indians.
The chiefs who entered into the compact represented the whole of the Indians on Rogue River and its tributaries, with the exception of a small band known as the "Grave Creek Indians" (about thirty men), who were not on friendly terms with either the South Umpqua or Rogue River tribes. Several efforts were made with both these tribes to induce them to send a messenger to this band (the Grave Creek), but they uniformly refused, saying: "that they were on bad terms with them, and that any message by their means would be unavailing."
The Grave Creeks had in fact left the Rogue River Valley and sought refuge on a branch of the South Umpqua to avoid taking a part in the hostilities then going on, as we were informed.
I know not who the "intelligent Umpqua friend" of the editor of the Statesman is, who writes to him as follows: "The hostile savages refused to meet him. They are the Grave Creek and Siskiyou Mountain Indians. The tribes with which he treated are now, and as I understand ever have been, friendly." He must be grossly misinformed, or he willfully misrepresents. The Indians who were included in the treaty were the same who fought the battle where Capt. Stuart was killed--the same who fought the "Hammock Fight"--the same who fought every battle with the troops--the same who murdered Dilly at the foot of the Siskiyou Mountain--the same who attacked McBride's party--the same who robbed Messrs. Scott and Nichols, and the same of whom the prisoners were captured, and to whom delivered. They were in fact, the only Indians (save the Grave Creek band, who were not seen at all, and therefore could not have refused) north of the California line with whom the whites have had any difficulty.
The Statesman also says: "The general opinion entertained of this treaty in the southern part of the Territory may be gathered from the allusion made to it by our regular Umpqua correspondent. 'Ewald,' whose interesting letter will be found in another column. The unmistakable murmurings of the people of that section at the inefficient, do-nothing course pursued by the Governor seem to have changed to ridicule at the farcical manner of its close."
I have conversed with various persons in all parts of this county on the subject of the treaty, and with the single exception of our recent Yankee importation "Ewald," whom the editor of the Statesman assumed to be the organ of the sentiments of the people of this section. I have never found a man who has not heartily approved of the Governor's course. One sentiment seems to prevail among the whole community, and that is: unqualified approbation of the treaty, and the manner in which it was concluded.
"Ewald" in speaking of the reported capture and escape of Lieut. Irvine, says: "This is a fine comment upon the treaty which was made a few days since."
Comments are commonly understood to follow the thing commented on, but here the order of the two appears to be reversed; as the affair between Lieut. Irvine and the Frenchman occurred (if it occurred at all) on the 4th of July, ten days before the treaty was concluded, and several days before the Indians were informed of our willingness to make peace.
The treaty was, as nearly as I recollect, in substance as follows:
"Hostilities to cease, and peace faithfully to be observed. The Indians hereafter to be under the exclusive superintendence and protection of the American government and to be bound by the decision of its agents in all disputes that may arise hereafter. All prisoners taken or property stolen by either party to be delivered up, and the whites are at liberty to pass and repass unmolested through the country, and the Indians to be held to a strict accountability for all depredations."
The conduct of the Indians since the treaty was concluded has been such as to give confidence to the belief that they will continue to observe its terms, if they are observed on our part.
They are now very friendly, and have not been guilty of a single overt act, not even a theft--since the compact was entered into. Travelers in passing through the country go in small companies, and have universally found it unnecessary to stand guard; and suffer their animals to run loose, unhampered. Several instances have occurred of single persons passing through the whole country alone.
I have deemed it no more than justice to Gov. Gaines to give this statement publicly, and trust you will pardon the length to which it is necessarily extended.
Yours respectfully, &c. S. [likely James Sinclair]Oregonian, Portland, September 6, 1851, page 2
Adjutant-General's Report on Governor Gaines' Letter.
Adjutant General's Office,Sir: Agreeably to your instructions, I have examined the communication of Governor Gaines, of the l3th of June, relative to the military service in Oregon. The withdrawal of the rifle regiment was a measure determined upon for two reasons: First, their services were deemed to be more needed for the protection of the frontiers of Texas and Mexico, and second, that the representative of the Territory assured the Department that its presence was not necessary, and that the regular force might be dispensed with without detriment to the public interest in that quarter.
Washington, September 1, 1851.
The suggestion of the Governor to establish a new post, either upon the Umpqua, Klamath or Rogue River, is fully concurred in. About twenty miles above the mouth of the first-mentioned river the Hudson Bay Company have an establishment called Fort Umpqua, to which point, from the ocean, it is said there is twelve feet draft of water. But how distant from any navigable stream the site for the new post proposed by the Governor would be fixed, would depend upon circumstances; if far in the interior, the expenditures for its maintenance would be great. The Klamath River is some distance to the south of this, and in its course to the ocean a part of it runs through California, and it is somewhere in this region where the people from Oregon, it is said, are profitably engaged in the digging of gold. It is on this route of travel, from Oregon City south to the Klamath and California, where the miners and other travelers need protection, and as it is said that the Indians near Rogue River are numerous and warlike, will cut off the trade with the mines, and do much harm to the interests of the people of the Territory, it would seem to be proper to give immediate instructions to the commanding officer in California to reconnoiter the country with a view to the selection of a proper site, and establish a post without loss of time.
There are no troops disposable, nor any that can now be sent to Oregon, nor could any force be put en route at this time, which could reach that distant region in season to meet the then-existing state of affairs mentioned in the Governor's letter.
The Governor states that, should he find it necessary to organize a force, he shall assume the responsibility of doing so. As the expense of establishing many posts, and maintaining their garrisons in the interior of Oregon, to give protection and hold the Indians in check, must be at great cost, it may be well to consider whether a portion of the necessary force might not consist of militia companies, occasionally mustered into service for short periods, and which, under a proper system, might be sent with a portion of regulars in pursuit of the Indians, whenever the exigences of the service would require such expeditions.
In the general arrangement of the troops pursuant to general orders, No. 49, of 1848, it appears that four posts have been established in Oregon, but at this time but two are occupied, each with a garrison of one skeleton company of artillery.
I am, sir, very respectfully your obedient servant,
R. JONESHon. C. M. Conrad,
Secretary of War
Executive Documents of the Senate, First Session of the Thirty-Second Congress, 1852, vol. 1, pages 147-148
REAL SKETCHES FROM THE ROGUE RIVER WAR.
OF MOVING ACCIDENTS BY FLOOD AND FIELD.
The sun was sinking beneath the western hills, and its last rays were lingering upon the Coast Range ere it sank to rest beneath the waves of the Pacific.
The river was beautiful--one of the finest to be found upon the whole Pacific Coast. As we stand upon the hillside, and gaze towards the south, we see the broad valley of Rogue River stretching for twenty miles between us and yon mountain--the far-famed Siskiyou eastward, and westward the broad prairie extends, and the whole is surrounded by an amphitheater of hills, while towards the east is seen Table Rock. This is the favorite hunting ground of the Indian, and all his superstition clusters around this grand monument of nature, and his courage rallies around it, to die if needs be within sight of its sacred summit. Within sight of this mountain Maj. Kearny encountered them, and here the lamented Stuart received his death wound.
But stay! across yon prairie there are travelers, [illegible] hitherward. From the Klamath they have journeyed, have crossed the Siskiyou, and traversed the broad prairie since the morn. 'Tis many a weary mile from the last watering place, and they hasten to drink from the cool spring which bubbles out at their feet and trickles down the hill.
The Willow Spring is a favorite camping ground, and more than once has the writer had occasion to test its delicious qualities. This is the Indian's favorite place of attack. But to our travelers. They had camped not far from the spring in fancied security, for the treaty-making power had been at work, and even the truly named "Rogue River" Indians seemed disposed to be peaceful, tired at last with warfare with the whites.
The hasty meal has been cooked, and having sat awhile around the camp fire to while away an hour in conversation, anecdote, or song, they have all sunk to rest except the guard who for precaution's sake keeps a watchful eye upon the animals, the sleepers, and yon shadowy belt of woods. Clouds have obscured the sky, and the night has become rainy and uncomfortable. The hour is slowly passing, and he listens to what seems the howl of coyotes on the hill. The sounds of night come upon his ear, and his startled fancy suggests flitting forms on every side, and yet the watcher is no youth to fear at shadows, nor coward to fly them.
Zip! Zip! What is it whistles by his startled ear? The frightened animals are snorting and rearing in their terror. Zip! Zip! it comes again, an Indian arrow from yon bush. They have camped too near the spring. The camp is roused. The sleepers start from their dreams of home to grapple in the savage conflict. Many a mother's and sister's heart has breathed a prayer for them this night--those prayers are needed now. Roused from slumber, they hastily grasp their weapons, most of which have become almost useless in the rain, and renders their attempts at defense almost futile.
Imagine yourself thus situated, my dear reader, and you can realize its unpleasantness and its danger. Fortunately the rain proved embarrassing to the foe, and the arrows whistled past with little injury. It was an exciting hour, and while some kept up the conflict, others gathered the animals nearest at hand and, leaving their "plunder," they retreated some half mile into the prairie, where for an hour they maintained the conflict unremittingly. The Captain, an old Virginian, animates them with every word until many a one falls to earth exhausted with fatigue (or fear). At length they retreat some three miles further on the prairie, contesting every step of the way, when a few maintain the defense while some lay themselves down in the pelting storm and almost resign the hope of life in their despair. Then were thoughts turned homewards, and many a heart recalled the recollections of the past and many an eye was turned towards Heaven in prayer.
And thus the hours passed by until the break of day. Weary, dispirited, wet and cold, that handful of men met the morning light. With haggard looks they gazed around but no foe was in sight, and after serious consultation their horses' heads were once more turned towards the Willow Spring to see if any trace could be found of their missing plunder. Cautiously they approach the spring. Their missing animals were quietly browsing on the prairie, much to their surprise, and at the camp all lay in disordered confusion as when they left. They hesitated to approach, for fear that Indian cupidity had given way to stratagem to entice them to destruction. But their fears are disappointed. They examine closely the neighboring wood, and gathered at the camp once more they silently gaze upon each other with a feeling of thankfulness that they have been so miraculously preserved from their own fears. For twelve hours on foot and on horseback they had fought against an imaginary foe--there was no Indian track for miles around, nor had there been for many a day.
COPER NICAH. [Chinook jargon for "mine," as in "This is mine."]
Oregon Weekly Times, Portland, September 4, 1851, page 2
Captain Stuart, of the rifle regiment, has been killed in an encounter with the Indians in California. Major Kearny, in command of a company of eighty men, with twenty-five pack mules, had just arrived at Rogue River. While the forces were coming round the mountain in two detachments, Captain Stuart, with a party of thirty men, was fired upon near Long's ferry. Captain Stuart was wounded in the side with an arrow, from the effects of which he died next day. Three or four of his men besides himself were wounded.
Athens Post, Athens, Tennessee, September 12, 1851, page 3
Latest News Direct from Rogue River Country.Mr. James Sinclair, who is a gentleman of intelligence and character, arrived last night direct from Shasta and Rogue River, having passed through the entire Indian country on his way here. He informs us that the Indians are quiet, well disposed to the whites, and are anxious to maintain peace. Mr. Sinclair came through accompanied with his servant only.--He saw and conversed with several Indians, among whom was the principal chief that commanded the tribes during the recent difficulties. Mr. S. met several small parties of whites (in some cases only two persons, and they unarmed) in the midst of the Indian country, who were passing and re-passing with feelings of the most perfect safety. This gentleman was with Maj. Kearny's command during their entire journey from Umpqua Valley through; and, consequently, is fully competent to judge of the difference in the relations and feelings existing between the whites and Indians before the treaty made by Gov. Gaines, and at this time.
He says the treaty is respected by all citizens who desire peace, and is looked upon as an important matter to the safety and welfare of the people in that section of the Territory.
Our readers will now see what reliance should be placed upon the false statements put forth by the Statesman designed to injure the effect of the treaty, merely to bring its author into disrepute for party purposes.
The aiders and abetters in such principles will be sunk so low in their party slime and filth that no political resurrection will ever find them; or we have overestimated the sentiments which have always characterized honorable political opponents.
Oregonian, Portland, September 13, 1851, page 2
J. M. Shively, Esq., of Astoria, arrived in this city on Thursday, from Rogue River country. He states that the Indians were becoming troublesome, and a revival of difficulties was feared. A short distance this side of the Cañon the settlers had caught an Indian in the act of breaking open and robbing a house, and were making preparations to try and punish him. They had sent for the chiefs of the tribe to which he belonged--the Grave Creek. The feeling was strong in favor of hanging or shooting him. The house had before been broken open and robbed, and some persons were consequently set to watch it, and thus the offender was detected and caught.
Some miners who arrived here Saturday evening report that the Rogue River Indians are very troublesome. They were attacked by about forty Indians, but escaped without injury. They also met a party on their way to the mines who were fired upon by a large body of Indians in ambush. They returned the fire, but were unable to learn whether with effect or not. Several horses have been stolen from the miners. The Indians declare their purpose to drive the whites from the country. It is said they complain that the "Boston Tyee" did not perform his promises to them.
"From Oregon," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, September 18, 1851, page 2 The first paragraph was copied from the Oregon Statesman of September 16, page 1.
The best condensation of the news that we can find appears in the Oregon Statesman. . . .The following intelligence is set down as the latest from the Indian country:
"J. M. Shively, Esq., of Astoria, arrived in this city on Thursday, from Rogue River country. He states that the Indians were becoming troublesome, and a revival of difficulties was feared. A short distance this side of the Cañon the settlers had caught an Indian in the act of breaking open and robbing a house, and were making preparations to try and punish him. They had sent for the chiefs of the tribe to which he belonged--the Grave Creek. The feeling was strong in favor of hanging or shooting him. The house had before been broken open and robbed, and some persons were consequently set to watch it, and thus the offender was detected and caught."
Also the following account of Indian hostilities:
"Some miners who arrived here Saturday evening report that the Rogue River Indians are very troublesome. They were attacked by about forty Indians, but escaped without injury. They also met a party on their way to the mines who were fired upon by a large body of Indians in ambush. They returned the fire, but were unable to learn whether with effect or not. Several horses have been stolen from miners. The Indians declare their purpose to drive the whites from the country. It is said they complain that the 'Bostons' tyee' did not perform his promises to them."
"From Oregon," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, September 28, 1851, page 2
ROGUE RIVER MATTERS.--Dr. Dart and suite have left for Port Orford on the Pacific, to purchase of the Indians their land in that vicinity and about the mouth of Rogue River. This band of Indians is small and is separate and distinct from any of the tribes generally denominated Rogue River Indians. [Spectator.
"From Oregon," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, September 28, 1851, page 2
Oregon CityHon. Joseph Lane
1st Oct 1851
The treaty with the Rogue River Indians was concluded on the 14th July last. On the 15th July Gov. Gaines left for Oregon City and I was left in charge of a party of 12 men on Rogue River at the request of the Indian agent H. H. Spalding to remain in the country with the Indians until the superintendent or himself should return and make a purchase of the Indian lands. The object of leaving me in the country was to see that the terms of the treaty were observed and to visit all the Indians. This was done thoroughly. And I returned to Oregon City on the 10th Sept. last and on presenting my account to the superintendent, Dr. Dart, he said he had not authorized Mr. Spalding to have a parley etc., consequently would not pay anything etc. Now Dr. Dart was at Oregon City when Govr. Gaines and Mr. Spalding returned this way on the 22nd July. Mr .Spalding made his report to Dr. Dart. And Mr. Spalding wrote me on the 28th day July stating that "Dr. Dart had resolved to meet the Indians about the 15th Sept. at the ferry on Rogue River or at Table Rock and requested I should retain what men I had and notify the Indians of his intention" etc. I done so--visiting all the Indians from the Kenyon on Umpqua to Table Rock on Rogue River, to which proposition the Indians consented.
On the 14th day of August Dr. Dart dictated a letter to D. D. Bayley stating "if he would go into the Rogue River country and get the Indians to meet him at Port Orford he would pay him $5 per day and make the Indians a present" etc. Mr. Bayley reached Rogue River on the day I had concluded the arrangements with the Indians according to advice of Mr. Spalding. Upon the arrival of Bayley I hastened to Oregon City to see Dr. Dart before he should leave for Port Orford. I succeeded by making the trip in seven days and convinced Dr. D. of the impossibility of taking the Indians on the Coast, they never having been there and knowing nothing of it--besides it is almost an impossible chain of mountains etc. etc. Dr. D. again resolves to meet them in their own country and authorizes Mr. Cary (who is trading there) to say as much to the Indians.
This, sir, is a brief account of this matter. My object in writing you is to get the use of your kindness and influence to see that the debt credited there (in all only $21.00) to be paid.
Inasmuch as you are aware the importance of holding a treaty of peace with the Indians at the time Govr. Gaines made it and also the necessity of having a parley with the Indians to see that the terms of the treaty be observed.
I refer you to Govr. Gaines and Dr. Dart to satisfy you that I done the part assigned me faithfully and satisfactorily to both parties. I was with the Grave Creek Indians near a week and passed amongst them several times they were left perfectly friendly and expressed a disposition to remain so.
And no well-disposed person can reasonably find fault with living upon terms of peace with those Indians knowing that their country abounds in gold mines and our people spreading over it daily. Long before I left many of the young Indian men had engaged and were working for the miners and were giving satisfaction. And I truly believe a better step could not have been taken than this one by Govr. Gaines.
Indulging a hope you will honor my present request with your consideration,
C. M. Walker
N.B. I am quite unwell, which I hope will serve as an excuse for this scrawl. C.M.W.
Joseph Lane Letters
Report of General Hitchcock.
Headquarters Pacific DivisionSir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your instructions of the 3rd ultimo, accompanied by a copy of a communication of the 13th of June last from Governor Gaines, and addressed to his Excellency the President of the United States, in which communication Governor Gaines urged the necessity of establishing a military post on the Umpqua, Klamath or Rogue rivers, and I beg to refer in the first place to my letter of the 29th of August to the Adjutant-General, reporting my having ordered a post to be established at Port Orford, with an express view to the country referred to by Governor Gaines.
Benicia, October 25, 1851.
Port Orford has been recently ascertained to be one of the very best harbors on the Pacific Coast, accessible to the largest class of vessels and situated at a convenient intermediate point between the outlets of the Umpqua and Rogue rivers. It is a point from which that whole range of country may be readily commanded.
I have now to report that on hearing a few days since of the murder of several Americans on the Coquille River, some forty miles north of Port Orford, I immediately ordered an expedition to that country, instructing the commander to punish and subdue the Indians on that river, or any other hostile Indians within reach, and to open a communication to the "trail'' from Oregon to California, the results of which expedition will be communicated as soon as reported at these headquarters.
I am convinced that the measures adopted in view of the country in question are the best practicable at this time. Port Orford being the most available harbor (for supplies) on that coast, it being central and the Oregon [trail] not being it is supposed over sixty miles east of the harbor, whereas access to the country from the north or the south by the interior requires a march of some three hundred miles.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. A. HITCHCOCKHon. C. M. Conrad
Col. 2nd Infantry, Brevet Brigadier-General Commanding.
Secretary of War.
Executive Documents of the Senate, First Session of the Thirty-Second Congress, 1852, vol. 1, pages 148-149
The Governor of Oregon to the Secretary of War.
Oregon City, O.T.Sir: After much delay caused in collecting the vouchers for my expenditures in quelling the hostilities of the Rogue River Indians, I have succeeded in getting them all together except one, which is due in the account for subsistence (marked in the abstract) to a Mr. Grier of $360, which I will forward as soon as obtained. Vouchers for the balance of the amount, with the different abstracts, and also some papers relating to the matter in the parcel marked "A," I have the honor herewith to transmit.
September 28, 1851.
I have the honor to forward also the correspondence with Major Hathaway, commanding at Astoria, urging him to send a small military force to Rogue River. I regret that my efforts were unsuccessful. (In parcel marked "B.")
I arrived at Rogue River on the 29th of June, just as Major Kearny was leaving with the troops under his command, and thirty prisoners captured by his command from the Indians. Having but ten men with me, I immediately dispatched an express to him which overtook him at the foot of the Siskiyou Mountain, by which I requested him to suspend his march until I could see him, which very much to my regret he declined, finding myself thus left in the heart of the enemy's country with so few men, I increased the number from returning miners to fifteen, and sent into the Umpqua Valley to procure an interpreter, and busied myself in endeavors to learn the whereabouts and disposition of the enemy.
It being understood that Major Kearny intended to take the prisoners (all of whom were women and children) to San Francisco and return them by water to Oregon, the Indians were said to be highly exasperated, and that any attempt to terminate hostilities with them would be unavailing. Most fortunately General Lane, who was about returning to this place from the mines, meeting with Major Kearny, tendered his services to conduct the prisoners back to Rogue River, and arrived with them at my camp on the 8th day of July. Up to this lime the Indians had evinced no disposition whatever to come to terms. Indeed, I was informed that they rejected with scorn Major Kearny's tender of peace, but when they saw their women and children returning, and received an assurance from General Lane that they would be kindly received at our camp, and that peace would be granted them if they would come in and give assurances of a friendly disposition, they promised to do so and acknowledged their condition to be wretched, and their utter inability to prosecute a war with the whites. Being thus in possession of the prisoners, I found it necessary further to increase my force, which I did, to twenty-five men or thereabouts, and having in the meantime procured an interpreter, I sent him with a half-breed and one of the prisoners to the Indians, by which means they were induced to come in, and the result was a treaty of peace, herewith enclosed in the parcel marked "A."
The correspondence with the military commandant in this Territory, and my letters to Mr. Dart, Superintendent of Indian Affairs from Rogue River of date July 8, 1851, all herewith enclosed, will show the steps taken by me to procure a small military force and an efficient Indian agency in this part of the Territory, and I can but deeply regret my failure in both particulars. My great reliance in the efficacy of the treaty was based upon my firm conviction that both would have been readily furnished. Had I believed at the time that both or either would have failed, I should have had but little confidence that peace would have been preserved. But contrary to my expectations, the Indians have, up to this time, shown a disposition to observe the treaty and keep peace, notwithstanding their naturally thieving disposition, being sorely tempted by the numerous opportunities offered for them to commit depredations by persons going and coming from the mines, when they are well aware of the distance it is to where troops are stationed, and the respite they would have before they could be punished for the thefts. This temptation would be removed, I apprehend, if there were a small number of troops stationed somewhere in either the valley of Umpqua or Rogue River, on the route from this valley to the mining district. They would then be restrained from committing any depredation for fear of the immediate punishment. A slight immediate punishment with an Indian is much more effectual than a terrible punishment long delayed.
I cannot but express my regret that the small force which has lately been sent to that quarter of the Territory should have been sent to a place where they will be entirely useless, except to the very small district of country they are in, where there are no white settlers except at the point where the troops are stationed. The trade between this valley and the mines in the vicinity of Rogue River is the most lucrative and extensive that there is in the Territory, and the whole of it must of necessity, at present, pass through or near the territory of these Indians. The troops that have been sent are to be stationed at a point on the coast called Port Orford--unknown until a month or two since--which is separated from the valleys of Rogue and Umpqua rivers by the Coast Range of mountains, and as yet no practicable route has been found--nor do I suppose, from the information I have upon the subject, one can be found or made without much trouble and expense between this point and the valleys above mentioned. The troops therefore can be of no more use to the mining and trading interests of the Territory, nor to the settlement of that portion of the country by the whites, nor to the preservation of peace among the late hostile Indians, than they were at Astoria, whereas the same number stationed in the valley would have kept peace and have conduced to the settlement of that country, which is most desirable, and have effectually, with the aid of the Indian agent, guarded the interests of the traders and miners.
I cannot, therefore, but repeat my belief that, without a military post in either the Umpqua or Rogue River Valley, I apprehend great trouble and expense from the hostilities and depredations of these Indians. The other papers in the parcel marked "A" are communications received from men of influence, and upon whose account of the matter I based my actions until I arrived at the scene of hostilities myself. They will tend to show the views of the state of things anticipated by some of the most influential settlers in that part of the Territory.
One of the papers of this parcel is a report of Doctor McBride, whose party while returning from the mines were, without provocation on their part, attacked by the Indians. In a communication I had the honor to address [to] his Excellency the President of the United States, dated from this place, June 13, 1851, speaking of the attack Doctor McBride and his party sustained, I stated that the party, after a fight of four hours, were driven off the field, and in a communication addressed to yourself, dated at Nesmith Mills, June 19, 1851, written while on my way to Rogue River, I stated in relation to the same matter, "that the conflict lasted about four hours, and ended in the whites withdrawing from the field." The first of these statements was based upon rumors, the second from information received from Doctor McBride. In neither of these statements do I mean in the least to imply any want of bravery in the party under Doctor McBride, nor to censure the manner of conducting the fight. I think the explanation is due to Doctor McBride and his party, as my not stating the manner of their withdrawing may have been construed that I questioned their bravery and ability to sustain the attack. The party, after sustaining the attack for four hours, the firing having ceased, withdrew in good order.
I have received no answer to any of the communications I have addressed to yourself or to his Excellency the President upon this subject. I would therefore be pleased to be informed of the reception of this, and the safe arrival of the enclosed accounts, as is convenient.
I am, sir, very respectfully your obedient servant,
JOHN P. GAINESTo the Hon. C. M. Conrad
Governor of Oregon Territory
Secretary of War
Executive Documents of the Senate, First Session of the Thirty-Second Congress, 1852, vol. 1, pages 151-153
A. A. Skinner, Indian Agent, left for the Rogue River country on Tuesday last, the place assigned for him for future operations. He has gone prepared to make the Indians presents, which, when distributed, will no doubt have a tendency to render permanent the good feeling that now prevails.--[Spectator.
"Arrival of the Columbia--Two Weeks Later from Oregon!" Daily Alta California, San Francisco, October 28, 1851, page 2
Meeting in Umpqua County.At a public meeting held at the Main Street House in Scottsburg, March 20th, 1852, pursuant to a previous call, for the purpose of taking into consideration the act of the Executive and other officials of this Territory, and the course pursued by the Legislative Assembly convened at Salem, Judge Hudson was called to the chair and E. R. Fiske appointed Secretary. After an animated discussion by several gentlemen with regard to the present position of affairs in Oregon, it was moved and voted that Messrs. Geo. L. Snelling, A. C. Gibbs and Jeb Hatfield be appointed a committee to draft and present resolutions expressive of the sense of this meeting. The committee through their chairman subsequently reported the following resolutions:
Whereas, the present Territorial system of government in Oregon is repugnant to the spirit of Republicanism, and exercises a depressing influence upon all our interests being at best but poorly adapted to the desires and necessities of a free people, subjecting us to the maladministration of strangers and sojourners, who are ignorant of our wants, and destitute of sympathy for us inasmuch as they are not responsible to the people of Oregon for their acts, therefore,
Resolved, That we are ready to cooperate with the citizens of other counties in Oregon in order to obtain a restoration of our political privileges, either through a thorough and radical modification of the existing territorial system, or by exchanging it for an independent and truly republican state organization.
Resolved, That the irregular course pursued by the Governor of this Territory in organizing this county, by which its citizens have for the past year been deprived of the privilege of maintaining and enforcing their rights, meet the entire disapprobation of this meeting.
Resolved, That the extraofficial and illegal acts of the Governor in making the so-called "Rogue River Treaty," which allowed the Indians to keep over one hundred head of horses, the stolen property of the people of this Territory, and the neglect of the Superintendent of Indian Affairs to make any treaty with the Indians in this valley while he has visited and purchased the land of those in every direction around us, and the general neglect manifested on the part of the government officers to forward the interest of the southern portion of Oregon, begets in us anything but feelings of approbation and confidence.
Resolved, That we approve the course pursued by the members of the late Legislative Assembly in meeting at Salem, and consider the attack made upon them by the federal officers of this Territory, as a direct infringement on the rights of the people, and that the effort on their part to nullify the acts of the representatives of the people should be treated with contempt.
Voted, that a copy of our proceedings be forwarded to each of the papers in Oregon.
Voted, to adjourn.
J. JUDSON, Chairman.Oregon Weekly Times, Portland, April 3, 1852, page 2
E. R. FISKE, Sec'y.
It happened to be just at the time the troubles broke out among the Rogue River Indians, when our people were being murdered by them, when [the soldiers] were thus transferred from the rifles to the dragoon service. The troops thus transferred consisted of two companies, one commanded by Captain Walker, the other by the gallant and lamented Stuart, who, after covering himself with unfading laurels in Mexico, unfortunately fell in that distant land, in defense of his exposed countrymen. The people of Oregon will cherish his memory, and I hope and believe they will, as they ought, erect a monument to perpetuate it.
Those troops, the whole being under the command of Major Kearny, moved in the direction of the Indian troubles; and it was my fortune, with a few gallant Oregonians, to fall in with them then, also including some brave volunteer Californians, and witness and participate in the service which followed. But for those troops, who remained only two weeks in the country, and at the seat of Indian troubles, the whole outside settlements would have been crushed. But they gave the Indians a severe flogging and a severe chastisement, such a one as has kept them, up to the present time, in that quarter, apparently friendly, though they have killed a few whites since; but that is so frequent an occurrence that we hardly think of asking this government to avenge it. The killing of one or two men is no unusual thing there; but we take care of these comparatively small disturbances ourselves. But when it is evident that there is a general hostility, as there is now, it is the imperative duty of the government to interpose and give us aid.
Now, while I am speaking of the Indian war in which Captain Stuart fell, I would like to say that South Carolinians, of which State he was a native, that he was an ornament to that gallant State; that he was the best officer of his age in the American Army, and more familiar with duties of an officer than any young man in the Army. He had distinguished himself in every battle he was in in Mexico--and he was in nearly all of them--and fell fighting for the people of Oregon. I learned, about the time of his death, that a portion of his salary was annually or quarterly devoted to the benefit of his mother, now, I learn, living in this District. I hope that some friend of that man will take care to propose that a pension be granted to that mother; a mother who bore such a noble son is entitled, in my opinion, to the benefit of a pension.
"Speech of Hon. Joseph Lane," Oregon Weekly Times, Portland, April 17, 1852, page 2
Sir, I take the liberty to address a note to your excellency. I was a resident of Milwaukie O.T. for fourteen months and worked on the steamer Lot Whitcomb built at that place and named after our much lamented friend. Getting the gold fever I took an ox team and started for Scotts River, upon the way we had trouble with the Rogue River Indians, then hostile to the whites. A body of United States mounted men under Col. Kearny followed in our rear, we a party numbering 40 escaped but the troops were attacked and Col. Kearny called for volunteers. Your excellency and Col. Applegate raised a party of volunteers to aid the troops and defeated [the] Indians, taking 33 prisoners with the loss of the brave and noble. Capt. John Stuart. The prisoners were delivered over to your excellency's charge and returned to Rogue River Ferry where a treaty was formed with the Indians and set free. I being a volunteer under your excellency and knowing your noble spirit wish to address you to see if I cannot like many others obtain a section of land for services rendered the U.States government under your command. The fever and ague caused me to leave the territory and return to the States but I have often regretted that necessity. I was happy to see your own excellency's name on the list of candidates for the Presidency and hoped there would be no choice by the people that you might stand a chance of election by the House. No such good luck however and they have caught up a man whose only merit seems to be that he has split rails, while the brave old general who has fought battle after battle covering himself with glory and never sheathing his sword except in victory should be voted down, is outrageous.
If your excellency will answer this letter recognizing my services you will confer a great favor upon your humble servant
John S. LearnardJo Lane Papers.
Jan 12th 1861
Fort Vancouver, W.T.Sir
July 16, 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 1 Dragoon 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 Dragoon.
The fight occurred on the 17 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 and 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 and campaign than any person in this country.
Major Philip Kearny was the same officer afterwards Major General of U.S. volunteers in the present war & killed on the 1 September 1862 near [Chantilly].
His line of travel from the Umpqua was on the route east of the Umpqua Canyon--I went mostly over the same trail in August and September 1853 in exploring 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
University of Oregon Special Collections CA1863July16
HOW TO MANAGE THE INDIANS.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE HERALD.
New York, Feb. 1, 1867.I read your remarks in last Sunday's Herald on the subject of Indian affairs and the propriety of giving the care of the Indians to the War Department. I am sure you expressed in that article the opinion of the majority of the people. But, sir, my experience, which is not very limited on this subject, is opposed to giving the army control over the Indians. In explanation, I am sorry to be obliged to speak of my own acts. In 1850 I was sent to Oregon as the first Superintendent of Indian Affairs west of the Rocky Mountains. But before I accepted of that office I asked the removal of all the United States troops from Oregon, then located at six military posts. This request was granted, and in 1851 they were all removed. And during my three years' care over the Indians of that great country, which then included Washington Territory, not the slightest disturbance or difficulty occurred between the white people and the Indians, except in one case, which was as follows: The United States officer [Kearny] having charge of the last of the troops leaving Oregon, while on his way to California, was requested to chastise the Indians of the Rogue River country for some alleged depredations. This chastisement resulted in killing seventeen of the Indians. Upon a thorough investigation of that affair I ascertained that the depredations complained of had been committed by white men, and the Indians in that case were entirely innocent.
It was often remarked by Mr. Catlin, when I was traveling with him this side of the Rocky Mountains, that as we were far away from military posts there was no fear from Indians. The military posts should (in my opinion) be removed from all parts of the Indian country, then keep whiskey away from the Indians, and place a few honest and tried men that are friendly to the Indians to have care over them. This course would save millions every year to the government, and hundreds, if not thousands, of lives besides.
The troops were returned to Oregon soon after President Pierce removed me, and the next three years an Indian war debt was created of more than $6,000,000 in Oregon.
ANSON DART, late Superintendent.New York Herald, February 3, 1867, page 8
Major Philip Kearny had scarcely been transferred from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast when he demonstrated the truth of what has so often been claimed for him, that he seemed destined to shine in whatever he undertook. His summer campaign of 1851, against the Rogue River Indians, was one of the most telling blows ever delivered by our army in this harassing warfare. These savages at that period were the most wicked, most warlike, and most difficult to subdue of all the tribes on our Pacific coast. What rendered them more formidable was the fact that they occupied a district which intercepted all intercourse between Oregon and California; scattered along and across the direct road, north and south, on the banks of the Rogue River, which drains a rugged, mountainous wilderness, and flows as a general thing west and perpendicular to the coast, emptying into the Pacific, twenty miles south of Port Orford, and fifty miles north of Crescent City.
Much information in regard to this expedition is derived from Major-General Rufus Ingalls, Chief Quartermaster for so many campaigns of the Army of the Potomac. At that time he was stationed at Fort Vancouver, on the Washington shore of the Columbia River, where he fitted out Major Kearny. To use his language, "this handsome campaign opened that country." It has often been commented upon with surprise how Kearny, one-armed as he was, kept his saddle on all occasions, even when the march lay along mountain tracks most dangerous, and often seemingly impracticable for a soldier on horseback ; tracks difficult enough for the sure-footed mules. The principal engagement was that of the Table Rock, laid down on the maps as Fort Lane, about midway between Roseburg, north, and Crescent City, south. The former (Roseburg) is the residence of Joe Lane, as he was familiarly styled, then Governor of the Territory, who wrote to Kearny one of the most flattering letters which can reward an officer who has succeeded in solving a difficult and dangerous problem. He gave him the greatest credit for the ability with which he had planned, and the resolution with which he had executed his operations. The fight at the Table Rock was a complete triumph. It awed the savages, pacified the district, and accomplished the great object in view, making the route safe between our farthest northwestern territory and California. On this occasion a very gallant officer fell, Captain Stuart, who passed through the whole Mexican War with distinction, unscathed, to die at the hands of a miserable Indian, shot through the body with an arrow by that savage whom he had rushed forward to save from the just fury of our troops. The torture which preceded his decease must have been terrific, as was testified by his reply to Major Kearny's question, "Stuart, are you suffering much'?" "Suffering! I feel as if a red-hot bar of iron was thrust through my bowels."
Major Kearny took the greatest pride in the letter which he received from Governor Lane of Oregon in relation to these engagements and their happy results. This letter he exhibited to the writer when next they met with an honest exultation, such as he seldom displayed, as an acknowledgment of his able and brilliant soldiership. This letter, like all the rest of the testimonials which Kearny received from time to time, is no longer to be found. As soon as the present work was projected, a letter was addressed to Governor Lane in the hope that a copy of it might have been preserved by him. The following is the Governor's reply, but it cannot approach the concise elegance with which he expressed his commendation in the original document :
Roseburg, Oregon, April 27th, 1868.General de Peyster:
Sir:--I regret my inability to furnish you a copy of the letter you mention in yours of the 21st January, but it affords me pleasure to supply, as well as I can from memory, a brief statement of the conduct, in Oregon, of the late General Kearny, the important results of which induced from myself the merited compliment to which you allude.
During the summer of 1851 Major Phil Kearny received orders to proceed with two companies of United States Dragoons, Captains Stuart and Walker from Oregon to some point in California. En route, he was informed of a recent attack of the Rogue River Indians, in which they succeeded in killing quite a number of miners, and doing other mischief.
These Indians were at that time the most warlike and formidable tribe on the Pacific coast. Never having known defeat, they were exceedingly bold in their depredations upon the miners and settlers, and were the terror of all. Major Kearny determined, if possible, to give them battle, and finally found them, three hundred braves strong, in the occupation of an excellent position. He ordered an attack, and, after a sharp engagement, succeeded in dislodging them, killing, wounding, and capturing fifty or more. It was here that the lamented, brave, and brilliant Stuart fell. The Indians retreated across Rogue River, and feeling that they had not been sufficiently chastised, the Major concluded to pursue them, and, whilst in the prosecution of this purpose, I joined him. He followed until the Indians made a stand quite favorable to themselves on Evans Creek, about thirty miles distant from the scene of their late disaster. Here he again attacked them, killed and wounded a few, and captured about forty, among the latter a very important prisoner in the person of the Great Chief's favorite wife. By means of this capture, and these successes an advantageous peace was obtained. Being an eyewitness, in part, of Kearny's movements and action, I can, with great truth, and do with no less pleasure, bear testimony to his gallantry as a soldier and his ability as an officer. I was then, and still am, sensible of the great good secured to Oregon by his achievements at that particular tune.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
(Signed) Joseph Lane.
John Watts de Peyster, Personal and Military History of Philip Kearny, 1870, page 155
Yoncalla, Ogn Feb. 23rd '84
Dear Sir, Your note of 21st inst. received. I have already given a brief account of the main facts of the Rogue River War of  to Mr. Lang at Jacksonville.
As the Rogue River Indians had dispersed and their allies returned home before the volunteers under Gen. Lane arrived, no event of historical importance occurred after [omission]. At the time Kearny had his fight Gen. Lane was mining on Althouse Creek, Jo junior being with him. He responded promptly to Kearny's call for help bringing some two hundred or three hundred miners with him. From that time forward in military phrase he was commander in chief to the close of the campaign.
The country was pretty thoroughly secured and no enemy offering resistance was found. The volunteers surprised a small camp on Evans Creek 20 miles up it, another on Little Butte near its mouth. Of the few men with these camps one or two were killed the rest escaped. Some 20 or 30 women were captured to be held as hostages for the good behavior of the tribe.
No one to my knowledge engaged in this affair ever claimed compensation for his services. Gen. Lane and his fellow miners returned to their work. Major Kearny resumed his march to California, taking the prisoners with him to Fort Jones there to be held subject to the Oregon Indian authorities. This is all, except a few anecdotes illustrative of personal character, which Mr. Walling I presume would regard as valueless. Best respects to Mrs. Mosher.
Truly YoursJo Lane Papers, Reel 8
T'Vault himself sometime achieved a soldierly title, but how I know not. He was a colonel but not a military colonel. His life was one of the most extraordinary that was ever lived by any Oregonian. I have not the full details of his life in Oregon, and not a word of his previous existence, but subsequent to his coming here in 1845 it was full of adventures and experiences. We find him admitted to the bar at Oregon City, along with Nathan Olney, and appearing as attorney in miscellaneous cases, divorces and such, for there were marriages and dissolutions of marriages in those days. He continued to act as postmaster general and prosecuting attorney for Oregon, but his specialty seems to have consisted in procuring divorces for people. In 1851 T'Vault guided Major Phil Kearny (the hero who fell at Chantilly in the late war), and his command of U.S. troops from Vancouver southward on their way to Benicia, California. This was in the time of the earliest placer gold discoveries in southern Oregon, and the Indians were hostile and trying to kill every white man that entered their country. Captain Stuart was of this force, and was killed in a battle, or, more properly, a skirmish, on the Rogue River near the mouth of Bear Creek. T'Vault next joined Captain Tichenor's expedition to found a city at Port Orford, in Curry County, and within a few days after landing there he set out with eight others, all well armed, to explore a route for travel between the coast and the old Oregon and California trail, some thirty miles inland. The party were out about a week and had a terrible time. They got out of provisions, and although game abounded and still abound in that region, they nearly starved. Getting down on the navigable part of the Coquille River, a long distance off their proper route, they got an Indian to take them in his boat to the mouth of the river. Landing at a native village to procure food, they were set upon by the redskins, and five of them were slain. L. L. Williams and Cyrus Hedden escaped northward, the former with a dreadful wound, and getting to Scottsburg, Williams lay there for several years--seven, I think--before he recovered sufficiently to be removed. Redden took care of and supported him throughout. They were good samples of the hardy adventurer of that period. T'Vault with a companion made his escape, naked and despairingly, and got to Port Orford by the aid of friendly Indians.
"The Spectator," Oregonian, Portland, August 6, 1885, page 4
A LETTER FROM B. F. DOWELL
Washington City, D.C.There has been an oral tradition in Southern Oregon about the hostilities of the Indians, and the death and burial under an oak tree at Phoenix, Jackson County Oregon [of Lieutenant Stuart] for many years; but its true history has never been published. With the assistance of Hon. Binger Hermann, our vigilant, active and able representative who has received the official reports from the Adjutant General office of the United States. Major Kearny in 1851 was ordered to march overland from Oregon City to Benicia, California. While in Umpqua he received a petition from the citizens requesting the protection of the troops and offering to supply them with ammunition etc. transported to the seat of action at very low prices, which petition was signed by the following citizens, namely:
March 25, 1887.
Headquarters Department 1st Regt.The Adjutant Gen., U.S. Army,
Dragoons, Camp on Rogue
River, June 19, 1851
Sir.--I have the honor to report that on reaching the Umpqua Canyon (the 13th inst.), finding the settlements exposed to, and roads infested by, hostile parties of Rogue River Indians, I took measure to attack them. We had several skirmishes on the 17th inst., in one of which I regret to state that Bvt. Captain Stuart was mortally wounded, while heading a charge of cavalry. Two others were wounded on the same occasion. We have killed some fifteen or more of the enemy. In these affairs the behavior of the command has been most satisfactory, and I have been very efficiently supported by Bvt. Captain Walker, M. Rs. [Mounted Rifles], and Lieut. Williamson, Top. Eng. [Topographical Engineers], on duty with my command. The Indians are combined in a war party, some 300 strong. We discovered several whites among them. I enclose a detailed account of our late movements.
I am, sir, very respectfully,Major General R. Jones
Your obedient servant,
Bvt. Major 1st Dragoons, Commanding.
Adjutant General, U.S.A.
Headquarters, Department, 1st DragoonsThe Adjutant General U.S. Army
Camp on Branch of Rogue River
June 19th, 1851.
Sir.--I have the honor to report in detail that I left Columbia barracks, Vancouver, on the 29th ult., pursuant to instructions from division headquarters, with the squadron of 1st Dragoons, late transfers from the Mounted Riflemen, en route for California.
The first part of our march was the ordinary routine, passing through a thinly settled but uncommonly beautiful and fertile country. On nearing the extreme settlements, rumors of Indian hostilities met us. At Knott's, at the entrance of the Umpqua canyon, the truth of these was confirmed beyond a doubt, and I was waited on by a deputation of citizens, with a petition requesting the protection of my command.
A post is required in this vicinity more than any other point in Oregon. This point is the key to the road to California, is the best entrance for immigrants to Oregon, and the Rogue River Indians are proverbially the tribe of all others most to be dreaded, as fierce and treacherous in the extreme. At this moment not only is the road infested by them, but all the settlements throughout the Umpqua are in danger. As under my orders it was not in my power to delay more than a limited period, I deemed it advisable to surprise these Indians, if possible. Consequently having dispatched my train under Lt. Irvine by the regular road, with as strong a force as I could spare--guided by Messrs. Applegate and Scott--I penetrated by a new route, placing myself in rear of the presumed situation of the Rogue River villages, and thus I hoped with even the limited force of 67 men to break them up before they could combine, or disperse. We left Knotts on the 14th inst., followed up the South Umpqua, crossing the divide on the 16th, and reached the Rogue River on the following day. One difficulty was the uncertainty of the distance to and the situation of the villages. They were supposed to be from five to ten miles off. My plan was to rapidly sweep both sides of the river, but it was found for miles unfordable and dangerous in swimming from the swiftness of the current and nature of the banks. We pushed on at trot on discovering a fresh trail. Signals and cries soon convinced us that we had been discovered and our movements watched. The column took the gallop, trusting to anticipate the Indian scouts, Captain Walker leading with orders to seize canoes, or pass where he could, Captain Stuart following in supporting distance but destined under my command to act on the right bank, the provision and baggage following with a small guard. A party of Indians being observed in a hammock, Captain Walker dismounted and cleared it; the Indians escaped by the river. Captain Stuart was ordered to cover this movement. Shortly after this period, Captain Walker most gallantly pushed across the river in defiance of all obstacles and some Indians opposite--fortunately without accident. I then overtook and joined Captain Stuart's half squadron just in time to see it in a brisk skirmish, charged and destroyed a part of the enemy, who fought desperately--a charge brilliant in itself; but most costly to us, as it resulted in the death of its most distinguished leader, who fell mortally wounded while leading his men. Two others were badly wounded. The train had now to be waited for, and the camp of the wounded to be established. This occasioned a delay of three-fourths of an hour, and left but seventeen disposable men, with which, accompanied by Lt. W. Williamson of the Top. Engr. (whom I had assigned to line duty) I pushed on again rapidly hoping at least to make a diversion for Captain Walker. After passing on some miles a smoke at a distance, which proved to be a signal fire, led me to suppose that Captain Walker had destroyed some village.
I consequently disposed of my men so as to intercept the fugitives. This brought me unexpectedly on a powerful war party of 250 or 300 Indians. Fortunately a small isolated clump of trees gave me a strong position, and concealed my numbers. I maintained this position as long as I dared, without being cut off from my camp, and retired without loss.
The next day fearing both for Lieut. Irvine's and Capt. Walker's detachments especially from our previous ignorance of a strong war party, and greatly hampered by my hospital litters, I crossed the left bank to avoid an action amidst the ravines and passes.
The 19th of June Captain Walker and Lt. Irvine joined me from a camp at the foot of the Siskiyou Mtns. I enclose Captain Walker's report of his movements.
My position is such as to leave the enemy in doubt as to my future moves, and they are likely to remain embodied. In the meantime I have sent Messrs. Applegate and Scott with an address to the citizens in the several adjoining districts, calling them to turn out in force, in which case our dragoons will do their duty in the main attack, and the volunteer companies will cut the Indians off from, or pursue them to the mountains. I trust in this matter to afford relief from the Indians' attack, until a post can be permanently established, which I now recommend as necessary. (The post would in a short time be of little expense, as the Rogue River bottoms are very fertile.) In detailing these operations, I must mention Messrs. Scott, Applegate and T'Vault, gentlemen of high standing as pioneers in Oregon, have rendered me as much by their courage and coolness before the enemy as by their knowledge as guides in this new region.
I have the honor again to repeat, as in my first report, the satisfactory conduct of every man of my detachment and of the gallant and efficient manner in which I have been supported by Capt. Walker and Lt. Williamson. Bvt. Captain Stuart's brilliant career raises him beyond the common station of the individual commander--it can only be uttered by the united voice of the army of Mexico.
I am, sir, very respectfully
Your obedient servant,
P. Kearny, Brevet Major
1st Dragoons, Com.
Camp Stuart, Rogue River Valley,Sir:--I have the honor to communicate for the information of Major Kearny, commanding, that agreeably to his order I crossed Rogue River with detachment Company E, 1st Dragoon, on the morning of the 17th inst., with instructions to pass down the left bank of river and to destroy or disperse any forces of hostile Indians that I might encounter. While with detachment Company [A], commanded by Capt. Stuart, the major commanding was to proceed down the opposite shore and by our joint movements to destroy or disperse any band of hostile Indians that might be collected together for the purpose of depredations on the inhabitants or travelers. My instructions were to cooperate with Maj. Kearny as far as practicable; at the same time it was believed that either company would be of sufficient strength to operate successfully against any force of hostile Indians in the country. Agreeably to these instructions, after crossing Rogue River I proceeded rapidly down the left bank about ten miles, falling in with and partly destroying several small bands of Rogue River Indians. At this point, hearing nothing of Major Kearny's command, I determined to halt and communicate with him for further orders. For this purpose I dispatched a noncommissioned officer with a small party to learn from Maj. Kearny his wishes to my further movements. After some hours absence the noncommissioned officer returned with his party and reported that he had proceeded nearly to the point on the river where we had crossed in the morning without seeing or hearing anything of Maj. Kearny's command, and that he was prevented going quite to this point by encountering a band of armed Indians, too numerous to be attacked by his small party. I would remark that from the information we had received we were led to believe that there was a large Indian village near us, but on which side of the river it was situated we were ignorant, and as I knew it was Maj. Kearny's object to reach this village and destroy it, I determined to proceed down the river and carry out his design. At the point I had then reached, the river forms almost a semicircle, my company being on the outer circumference, and thinking it probable that Maj. Kearny had taken the chord of the arc I pushed forward rapidly for nearly fifteen miles without seeing or hearing anything from the command on the opposite shore, but was able to see several miles distance, and saw a large Indian force, mounted, of several hundred. Some apprehensions were felt for the safety of Maj. Kearny, and I made several attempts to cross the river and cooperate with him, but it was impossible. I was without rations and determined to fall into the main road between Oregon and California, hoping to overtake Lieut. Irvine's supply train which had been dispatched by this route, and to procure rations from him and to return in the direction I supposed Maj. Kearny to be in or in the event of not meeting Lt. Irvine to procure, if possible, rations from some party of miners on the road, I overtook Lt. Irvine about noon on the 18th, and received orders from Maj. Kearny to join him at this camp, which I did at noon on the 19th inst.
Oregon, June 20th, 1851
I am, very respectfully,
Your obd't. servant,
Sig: J. G. Walker
1st Lt. R.M.R. and Bvt. Captain U.S.A.
Camp Stuart, Saturday, June 28, 1851Sir:--I have the honor to continue the report of my late movements against the Rogue River Indians.
Branch of Rogue River [Bear Creek]
The position of my camp enabled me, whilst awaiting volunteers, to cover the road, and to afford a safe resting place to parties from the mines. I captured the only packs robbed within miles of me.
The desultory bonds of mining community caused comparatively a small number to volunteer; those who did, however, rendered much service and were extremely active. They amounted to near one hundred.
The 23rd and 24th were spent in breaking up the Indian ranches [i.e., villages] and in destroying such war parties as we could meet. On the afternoon of the 23rd there was something of a brisk skirmish in a dense hammock with a party which had been intercepted by Col. Freaner's "spies."
The night of the 24th, General Lane, who learning [of] the troubles had raised a party, and had been acting in the vicinity, joined our camp. (As General Lane was present in a private capacity, it was not possible to yield, as I would have desired, as due to his position and distinguished reputation, the command of my detachment, but I had the honor from that time of acting in cooperation with him.)
Whilst on this detour, Gen. Lane's party succeeded in capturing the family of the head chief.
We have taken many prisoners among the women and children, above thirty. They will prove useful in effecting a treaty or holding the Indians in check.
Still, a post is instantly demanded to maintain quiet--nor have I faith in a treaty with these people.
I am, sir, very respectfully,
Your obdt. servt.
Sig: P. Kearny,
Bvt. Maj. 1st Dragoons Cmdg.
Head Qr. Det. Drg.Sir:--I have the honor to enclose a report of my late movements against the Rogue River Indians, together with the statement (and signatures) of the citizens of that frontier on which my action was founded.
Benicia Bks., Cal.
July 18th, 1851
I also enclose Gov. Lane's receipt for the prisoners, whom he is to deliver to Gov. Gaines or Mr. Dart, Supt. of Indian Affairs in Oregon.
I understood indirectly that it was Gov. Gaines' object by means of these captives to effect a treaty with the head chief.
Your obt. servant
Mr. Kearny also states that the Indians were combined in a war party of some 300 strong. He discovered several whites among them.
Roseburg Plaindealer, April 8, 1887, pages 1-2
The papers are filled with accounts of the war between the whites and Indians on the Rogue River. The immediate causes which led to this outbreak was the attack by the Indians upon a party of Oregon miners who were returning home, and were attacked near the crossing of Rogue River, on the 1st of June. The party of whites numbered twenty-six men, and the Indians from two hundred to three hundred. The whites retreated without sustaining any injury. The next day a part of four persons were attacked, and their mules and baggage taken away. On the next day Dr. McBride's company of thirty-two men and seventeen boys were attacked. The engagement lasted several hours, some five or six Indians being killed, and none of the whites being injured, except one, Mr. Barlow, of Oregon City, who was severely wounded in the thigh by an arrow. Gen. Lane and Gov. Gaines have both gone to the scene of disturbances, in hopes of settling the difficulty amicably, but it was supposed that their efforts would be unsuccessful. The Indians have declared eternal warfare against the whites, and nothing short of an exterminating war will put a stop to their outrages.
Daily Picayune, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 2, 1851, page 2
FIGHT WITH THE INDIANS AT PORT ORFORDWe take the following extract from a letter which appears in the California Courier of December 4th giving an account of a fight between the U.S. troops and the Indians in that vicinity
"Col. Casey's attention was immediately directed to the Coquille River with the intention of subduing that tribe and bringing them to terms of peace and quietude. On the arrival of the military at the Coquille the Indians, learning of the force with which they had to contend, retreated up the river. An express was immediately sent to this place for boats for the purpose of ascending the river. As soon as the boats arrived, an expedition was fitted out, comprising some sixty men, which pursued them up the river. They found the Indians had collected their whole force at the forks of the river some thirty or forty miles from the mouth, at a large village apparently the headquarters of the tribe. The position was first discovered by Lieutenant Stoneman who was a little in advance of the main force and seeing their force and believing that they were determined to defend their post, retreated down the river to join the main force and agree upon a plan of attack. On the following morning the command was divided into three divisions, one up the north branch and the second up the south branch and the third retaining the boats. Unfortunately, the Indians succeeded in making their escape, and only a few of them were killed. All their houses were destroyed together with a large amount of provisions which they had collected for winter's supply.
"Among the things captured were some twelve or fourteen canoes, which comprise their whole line of commercial and battle ships. The destruction of their houses, canoes and provisions will render their situation at this season of the year extremely difficult and must cause great suffering among them during the coming winter. Perhaps it will convince them of the danger into which they bring themselves by murdering and robbing every white man who may chance to pass among them or through their country."
Oregon Weekly Times, Portland, December 20, 1851, page 2
Mrs. Elizabeth Kenney, now living in Jacksonville, came to the Rogue River Valley May 12, 1852--fifty years ago. Her father, Col. W. G. T'Vault, who had been through here before, came through the valley in the spring of '51 as guide to the dragoons, en route from Vancouver to Benicia, Calif., and was present when Capt. Stuart was killed, a short distance above Phoenix. In order to obliterate the place of burial the cavalry horses were corralled about the grave, and next morning the ground was so cut up by the fresh-shod horses that no trace of the grave could be seen. Col. T'Vault, however, took bearings from the adjacent trees, so in case it was desirable to find the grave he could do so. Sometime in '53 Capt. Stuart's mother, who lived in the East, sent for the body of her son to have it shipped home. Col. T'Vault was called upon and pointed out the place of burial, and the remains were exhumed and sent east. But for this foresight and critical marking by the colonel the remains could never have been found.
W. J. Plymale, "Scraps of Early History," Medford Mail, May 16, 1902, page 2
The Indians came that night onto the point of a hill across the river from our camp and built up fires and made the night hideous with their yells and dancing, expecting to have a good time when the light came, taking in that train.
But just at daylight General Joseph Lane came to us with a small detachment of cavalry. He had been hunting for the Indians to get them in to make a treaty and was attracted to this point by their fires and yells. By request of General Lane Abel George went to the bank of the river and through friendly signs induced the Indians to come to the opposite bank and there through signs and a few words of jargon, which they understood but very little of, got them to collect their people together and go to Governor Gaines' camp for the purpose of making a treaty which was, I believe, the first treaty ever made with the Rogue River Indians.
This treaty held good until in the fall of 1851 when the Indians killed a packer and Capt. Stuart on Stuart's Creek, Rogue River Valley. [George's timeline is confused. Stuart was mortally wounded on June 17, 1851. Lane did negotiate a treaty in 1850 as Governor, but Gaines was not present.] At the time this occurred Alexander Burns, J. P. Long, Sam Tillard, A. George and two Indians were on the headwaters of Applegate Creek prospecting and came out of the mountains near where these men were killed. They soon discovered there was something wrong and concluded to leave the trail and take a travel through the hills for the lower valley. [We] had gone about two miles when we discovered the Indians trying to head us off. We called a council and decided to separate and come together down the valley. Long & Tillard and the Indians turned back; George & Burns went on and ran the gantlet under fire for about ½ a mile [and] came out at the Willow Springs before day in the morning and found Long and his party there all safe.
Abel George, unpublished, undated manuscript, Oregon Historical Society Research Library Mss. 1192
The road to California, traveled continually to the gold rush, became more and more unsafe through all the region roamed over by the Shasta, Rogue River tribes and their allies. Notwithstanding the treaty entered into between Governor Joseph Lane of Oregon Territory and the Chief of the Rogue River Indians the previous year, great caution was necessary in selecting and guarding camping places and crossing streams.
If a party wishing to cross a river constructed a ferry boat and left it tied up for a party in the rear, the latter on arriving found it gone. While making another, guard had to be maintained, in spite of which their horses and pack animals were likely to be stampeded. When a part of their outfit was ferried over, guard had to be maintained on both sides of the stream, which divided their forces and increased their peril.
These annoyances and occasional conflicts led to irritation on the part of the miners, who, as they grew stronger, were less careful of their conduct towards the Indians, who were only too ready to find provocation in their contempt of the white man.
Finally, in May of 1851, contempt was turned into desire for vengeance by the treacherous murder of David Dilley, one of a party of three white men, and two professedly friendly Rogue River Indians. While encamped for the night the Indians stealthily arose, seized Dilley's gun, and shot him dead, as he slept.
The other two white men, who were unarmed, escaped back to a party in the rear, and the news was sent to Shasta, where a company of volunteers was formed, headed by a Captain Long, who crossed the Siskiyous, killed two Indians, one a sub-chief, and took several prisoners as hostages for the delivery of the murderers.
Demanding the surrender of the murderers was well enough, but the demand being accompanied or preceded by revenge gave the head chief a plausible ground for refusing to give up the guilty parties. Further, he threatened to destroy Long's company of volunteers, which remained at the crossing of the Rogue River, awaiting turn of events.
He was not molested, but at a ferry south of this one several skirmishes occurred. One party of twenty-six men was attacked 1 June 1851 and one Indian was killed in the encounter. On the day following, at the same place, three different parties were set upon and robbed, one of which lost four men in the skirmish.
On 3 June, Dr. James McBride and thirty-one men, returning from the gold mines, were attacked in a camp south of the Rogue River. There were but seventeen guns in the party, while the Indians were two hundred strong, and had in addition to bows and arrows about as many firearms. They were led by a chief known as "Chucklehead," the battle commencing at daybreak and lasting for four hours and a half until "Chucklehead" was killed, when the Indians withdrew.
No loss of life or serious wounds were sustained by the white men, but about sixteen hundred dollars' property and gold dust were carried off by the Indians.
This series of incidents resulted in the dispatch of Major Philip Kearny and two companies of the 1st U. S. Dragoons. These troops, augmented by volunteers of General Lane, engaged in a skirmish with the Indians on 17 June near the Rogue River. On the 2nd, another engagement took place at Table Rock. An all-out attack was planned for [the] 25th, but upon arrival at the Indian camp they found all the Indians had disappeared.
Taking up their trail, Kearny's regulars managed to bring back some 30 Indian prisoners to Camp Stuart, which had been named in honor of Captain James Stuart, who was mortally wounded in the engagement of 17 June and died the following day. The prisoners were turned over to General Lane of the volunteers for delivery to Governor Gaines at Oregon City.
By means of these prisoners, Governor Gaines induced eleven of the head men and about 100 followers to consent to a treaty by which the Indians agreed to submit to the jurisdiction and accept the protection of the United States and to restore the property stolen from white people. Upon agreement, the captive families were returned.
Virgil Field, "Militia in the Rogue River War," The Official History of the Washington National Guard, 1959, Volume I
But I may here be permitted to pay my tribute to one destined to fall on another and far distant field; who always, in battle, attracted the admiration of soldiers and the affection of those who knew him, everywhere; and who was one of the first Americans to enter Mexico that day. Jemmy Stuart, as we all called him, was the son of a brilliant editor of the Charleston Mercury, grand-nephew of the Conqueror of Maida, and descendant of the last royal family of Scotland. He entered the Rifles from West Point, a stripling of twenty years. In person and manner he was refined and attractive, with an almost feminine beauty of countenance, he was [as] diffident in the presence of strangers as a young girl. And his brown, silky hair, pearly teeth, and sweet expression of mouth gave, to a casual observer, no indication of the high spirit and dashing courage which made him prompt to resent insult, and foremost in battle.
He passed unwounded through all of our Mexican battles; and perhaps no officer of his rank gained a reputation more enviable than his was when peace was made. We all loved and respected him, while our officers seemed to regard him as their Bayard.
Several years after, when the Rifles were ordered out of Oregon, he and Captain Walker of Missouri were sent down into California to turn over to the dragoons our men and horses. The two were intimate friends, and on this march occupied the same tent. The duty on which they were engaged was a sort of indulgence to them; and no idea of actual service, or danger, had been connected with it. When, one night, or rather morning, about 2 o'clock, Walker awakened, and Stuart said to him, "I have been lying awake at night. I have upon me a conviction, which I cannot shake off, that my death is at hand; and I wish you to receive and promise to execute, in that event, certain requests, which I now shall make."
Walker endeavored in vain to disabuse him of the sad forebodings, which seemed to oppress him. For while he was ready to acknowledge their absurdity, he could not shake off their influence, and insisted on a promise of fulfilling his last requests.
Next evening, to the surprise of us all, the command found signs of hostile Indians being near, and made preparations to hunt them up and attack them next day.
At breakfast next morning, Captain Stuart related to the other officers a vivid dream he had the night before, in which a Rogue River Indian had seemed to come to the door of his tent, and after aiming first at Walker, then at him, to discharge his arrow through his (Stuart's) body. Before 10 o'clock that morning the command under Stuart found and attacked and routed the Indians. Stuart, as usual, led the attack, and was shot through the body by an arrow, from the bow of a Rogue River Indian. He was the only one of our men hurt in the fight.
He lingered in great agony for near two days. We buried him at the root of a large tree near the road. His remains have since been removed, and now rest in his beloved South Carolina.
His was a pure and beautiful character. He lived and died without fear and without reproach.
"Recollections of the Rifles," Southern Literary Messenger, November 1861, page 375
PHIL, KEARNY, THE BRAVE.Next upon the scene came the chevalier sans peur, Phil. Kearny, the dashing soldier, who loved war as men love fame. He was the Custer of his generation, the Chevalier Bayard of American history. Up from the fields of Mexico he rode, flushed with the triumphs of two wars, and feeling himself, while yet in the vigor of young manhood, a veteran in the stern occupation of slaughter. For Phil. Kearny, raised in affluence, had early devoted himself to the study of the military art, and at the age of twenty-two had acquired a second lieutenancy in the regiment commanded by his relative, Gen. Stephen W. Kearny, and so distinguished himself by his proficiency in military exercises that he was selected by the government to proceed to France and examine and report upon the tactics of the French cavalry, the exponents of the best system then in vogue. To France he went, and enrolling himself among the pupils of the Saumur école militaire, spent the time with profit until the breaking out of the war in Algiers, which offered him opportunities for the acquisition of the knowledge he sought in actual fighting. He enlisted as a private in the Chasseurs d'Afrique, a celebrated mounted organization, and taking part in the active campaigns carried on by Marshal Bugeaud, won the admiration of the whole army by his daring exploits. The cross of the Legion of Honor was conferred upon him, and his name was mentioned in many bulletins. Leaving the French service, he returned to America and, reentering the United States army, became aide-de-camp in succession to Generals Macomb and Scott, and in 1816 was promoted to the captaincy of a company in the regiment of mounted rifles, which company he provided with horses and equipment from his own purse, and led them to Mexico. For gallantry at Contreras and Churubusco he was brevetted major, and in a fiery charge at the San Antonio gate of the City of Mexico, his left arm was
SHOT AWAY BY A CANNON BALL.After the war his regiment was sent to California and Oregon, and for a time the Captain Kearny was stationed at Fort Vancouver. In 1851, he led a detachment consisting of two companies of troops overland to California, fighting a battle with the Indians on the way, and in October of that year he resigned from the army and went abroad to pursue his military studies. In 1859, being in Paris, he offered his services to the French government, which was engaged in the war with Austria, and was made aide to General Morris, and conducted himself with such bravery as to win for the second time the cross of the Legion of Honor. When the rebels fired on Sumter in 1861, Phil. Kearny hurried home and offered his services to President Lincoln. They were gratefully accepted, for his reputation as a mater of the art of war was not inferior to that of any soldier in the western hemisphere. In May, 1861, he received his commission as brigadier general of volunteers, and entering upon active service with the troops in Virginia, he distinguished himself greatly for his skill, and particularly for his valor. At Yorktown, Williamsburg, Fair Oaks and Malvern Hill, he set the example of a cool and perfectly fearless soldier. In July, 1862, he became major general, and by many was thought to be on the way to the chief commander of the army.
This great soldier, whose patriotism was as pure and whose example was as influential as his bravery was unquestioned, met the fate appropriate to such a being; he was killed in the battle of Chantilly on the first of September, 1862, falling lamented by the whole army, whose admired hero he was.
LIEUT. STUART.The only officer of the United States army who fell in the discharge of his duty while in Oregon was James Stuart, second lieutenant of Phil. Kearny's company of mounted rifles, who was killed by an Indian arrow at the fight which took place between Kearny's force and the natives, on the Rogue River.
The most intelligible accounts which can be procured run thus:
Orders were received in June, 1851, by two companies at Fort Vancouver to proceed overland to Benicia, Cala., and Capt. Kearny was put in their charge. The route not being well understood, a guide was procured in the person of W. G. T'Vault, a well-known Oregonian, and the expedition set out. It happened that at this time disturbances were occurring in Southern Oregon between the Indians along the Rogue River and the few whites--all miners--who had arrived in the country. The most serious results of the threatened war were averted by the prompt action of the commander, who attacked and dispersed the Indian hordes without delay. He had approached to within a short distance of Rogue River when a messenger met him desiring his aid. He found the natives gathered upon the right bank of the river, about ten miles above Table Rock, and opposite the mouth of a small stream which enters the river above Butte Creek [Constance Creek?]. There were two companies of troops, the one of mounted rifles under Lieut. Stuart, the other of infantry under Capt. Walker. The latter officer crossed the river with a design of cutting off the savages' retreat, while Stuart and his men charged upon a rancheria. The conflict was very short, the Indians fleeing almost immediately. A wounded savage lay upon the ground, and as Stuart approached him on foot, revolver in hand, the native fixed an arrow to his bow, discharged it at close range and pierced the officer's breast. The pursuit of the Indians was kept up for a short time, and at its end the wounded man was taken to the halting place of the detachment, which was then named, and for several years afterwards was
KNOWN AS CAMP STUART.He was mortally wounded, but lived a day, and dying said: "It is too bad to have fought through half the battles of the Mexican War to be killed here by an Indian." He died on June 18, and was buried with military honors in a grave [where is] now the present site of Phoenix, nearly at the place where the ditch crosses the road, and not far from Samuel Colver's old house. In late years his remains were taken up and removed to the East to be interred beside those of his mother. He was a very promising young officer, and Gen. Lane, who also had a part in suppressing the disturbances, said of him: "We have lost Captain Stuart, one of the bravest of the brave. A more gentlemanly man never lived; a more daring soldier never fell in battle." The people of Rogue River named a creek in his honor, the same which flowing through the most fertile part of their country falls into the Rogue not far from the place where he received his death wound. The stream is now called Bear Creek--a sad relapse from taste and fitness. Should the original and highly proper name be restored, it should be recollected that the name is spelled Stuart and not Stewart.
"Army Officers in Oregon," Sunday Oregonian, Portland, January 3, 1886, page 2
Jesse Bounds, an Indian war veteran, was found lying dead on the trail June 20, a short distance from his cabin, near Olalla, in Douglas County, the place being a temporary abode where he was engaged in raising stock, his regular home being in Umpqua Valley. He was a volunteer of 1851, and aided in the defense of Willow Springs, Jackson County, when the inmates of the fort, comprised of both sexes, were besieged by the Rogue River Indians. He helped to save the white settlers from torture and massacre.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, July 15, 1892, page 3
AN INTERESTING CHAPTER IN THE EARLY HISTORY OFThe discovery of rich mines on Scott River in Northern California by Captain Scott and others in the winter of 1851, and a little later of the placers on Yreka Flats by the late Dr. Hearn, caused numbers of the hardy pioneers of the Willamette Valley to leave their homes and hazard a trip over the Calapooia Mountains through the famous Umpqua Canyon, along the rocky banks of Rogue River, and make their way over the then almost trackless Siskiyou Mountains. Among the adventurers was an old gentleman who had been a resident of Lane County five years.
THE ROGUE RIVER VALLEY.
BY WELBORN BEESON
He started with two yoke of oxen and a wagon that he had traveled across the plains from Iowa with in 1846. He had with him his two sons, George and Charles, also three or four young men that he had known in Iowa. They made their way through all the difficulties; sometimes all united to lift the wagon over the immense rocks in the Canyon and to push the wagon to aid the weary cattle over the steep, rough mountain. When they arrived at Yreka they were disappointed, for as yet but a small portion of the afterwards immense diggings was known, but hearing of a fine prospect on Illinois River, a tributary of Rogue River, they started back over the Siskiyous. When they arrived on Rogue River, near where Grants Pass now is, they met a number of prospectors returning from the Illinois River, with discouraging news. Here they held a council and it was decided that the old gentleman and his son George should return home, while Charles and his three companions should take the only pony, with blankets, provisions and tools that they could pack and again return to the Yreka diggings.
The four young men, three of whom are now prosperous and respected citizens of our community, toiled their weary way up Rogue River and Bear Creek to the place where Phoenix is now located.
There, much to their surprise, they found a company of U. S. dragoons encamped under command of Major Phil Kearny, afterwards a noted general. He was marching from Fort Vancouver on the Columbia to Fort Benicia on San Francisco Bay, and had come over from the Umpqua on what is now known as the Elk and Trail Creek trail. On arriving at Rogue River opposite the mouth of Indian Creek he was attacked by the Indians, and Lieutenant Stuart had received a mortal wound. The major made camp where Phoenix now is and Stuart there died of his wound and was buried under the oak tree that now serves as a gatepost to the gate leading from Colver's across Bear Creek. His remains were afterwards taken up and sent back east at his mothers request. Major Kearny named this place Camp Stuart, and Bear Creek was called Stuart's Creek for several years afterwards.
Our four young adventurers arrived at the camp just as the major had performed the last rites of burial to his young officer and, wishing to avenge his death, called for volunteers from among the traveling gold seekers, as there were several others besides our particular four. Charles, being the only one of the four that was armed, volunteered, the major furnishing him a government mule to ride. Just at dusk in the early days of June, 1851, the little company of dragoons, accompanied by perhaps a dozen volunteer gold seekers, crossed Bear Creek near the present ford and, traveling all night, came to Rogue River at Indian Creek, the scene of the attack a short time before, but no Indians could be found. The troops crossed the river and followed down, skirting the brush. When they came to the place where lower Table Rock approaches the river, making a very narrow passage between the rock and river, on what is now known as the Billy Wilson donation claim, suddenly a shower of arrows came whizzing among the company, slightly wounding several. A retreat to open ground was ordered, and after a consultation it was decided to make charge on foot, which was contrary to the idea of Indian warfare entertained by our Charles, who had had some experience in the Nez Perce campaign, in 1847. But being a volunteer, he decided to obey orders without a word, so on the order to charge being given, he started for the brush, expecting all to come. On arriving at the edge of the brush amid a shower of arrows he found shelter behind a friendly tree and on looking back found not one of the others had obeyed the command, but were farther away. Every time a portion of his person was exposed from the tree, zip would come an arrow, and still he could not see an Indian. He concluded that he had better charge back to the company.
As luck would have it he got back with but a few arrows sticking in his flannel shirt just pricking him enough to make him run all the faster and mad enough to whip the whole company.
The dragoons were like some of the tramps hunting work nowadays--when they find it they don't want it. So an order was given to mount and forward march through the prairie now known as Sams Valley, where eight or ten squaws were espied digging roots. These were captured and carried hack to Camp Stuart in triumph. This was a long ride, being out on the trip all night and day and nearly all the next night without rest. Major Kearny carried the squaws to Yreka.
General Jo Lane was there mining and Kearny delivered the prisoners to his care to be brought back and turned loose on Rogue River where they had, without a doubt, a tale to tell their tribe of their sufferings while prisoners of war.
Talent News, March 15, 1893, page 2
We missed actual war by a hair's breadth, as it were, kept up discipline and were always ready, but the speck of war under the base of Umpqua Mountain never became more than a threatening cloud. Armstrong had 60 head of fat cattle he was driving to the mines. We found a long string of teams, wagons, carts, pack and saddle animals and of teams, and the savages could have had us at disadvantage had they attacked us among the chaparral and pine forests of those interminable hills. They were a brave set of savages, for we heard of a battle that preceded our coming but a few days and hardly reached Yreka when word came of a fight with regulars near where Phoenix now stands. They were too proud to ambush common travel, but sought battle with the regulars whenever they could find them.
Volunteers were called for, and Armstrong and the Bailey boys raised a company of 100 men, who took the war path. They were gone but a few days and came back covered with glory. It is pitiful to read the story of battle between those red men, who fought in their native heath, armed only with bows and arrows, and whites, who hunted them with arms of precision loaded with powder and ball. The Indians began it, no doubt of that, but they labored under a foolish prejudice that the land was theirs and that these white men were trespassers. When Armstrong's volunteers came up they found the Indians corralled under the bluff of Table Mountain, close to which the river run. They were in the heavy woods that filled the river bottom, while the regulars were drawn up in military array, firing volleys into the woods. Captain Armstrong told the commander that they were not fighting as he would advise. The answer was: "Go in and fight your own way, then." Armstrong said he wouldn't like to be between two fires, so the regulars were drawn off and the volunteers went at it. They were dismounted and formed in line and charged right through the heavy timber. Neither Armstrong nor the Bailey boys were capable of fear; they crowded the Indians so that they ran, and pursued by regulars as well as volunteers, they plunged into the river, where many of them were killed. The river ran red with blood that day. We cannot but feel compassion for these sons of the forest, fighting for their homes, but they had attacked the troops and killed Lieutenant Stuart and two privates, and Armstrong remembered that on every trading trip he made to California they had fought him for years past, so all were animated by a feeling to avenge these wrongs. Zeke found an arrow hole through his hat, but no white man was wounded. Hartin remembers that Armstrong told his story after their return, as they gathered around the evening camp fires. I remember that all the time we traveled together it was interesting to listen those evenings when varied experience was told by these campaigners in the wilderness, especially interesting to one whose life had been spent in great cities.
S. A. Clarke, "In Southern Oregon," Sunday Oregonian, February 10, 1895, page 6
VETERAN DEFENDS GAINESPORTLAND, Feb. 20.--(To the Editor.)--The Oregonian has always been fair and even generous in its treatment of questions relating to the early settlement of the country, and pioneers have always been able to have its aid when needed to secure justice to them or their cause; and so it is with some confidence that I ask you to hear and consider the wail of an unrecognized veteran who did some service in the Indian War of 1851. And I want also to say a word in defense of Governor Gaines, whose efforts in that affair failed, for political reasons, to receive proper recognition.
OLD INDIAN FIGHTER SAYS GOVERNOR'S WORK WAS GOOD.
Captain F. H. West, Possibly the Only Survivor of War of 1851, Tells of the Fighting.
After the murder of Dilley and the attack on the McBride party the Rogue River Indians became bold and rendered it very dangerous to immigrants or other persons to pass over the California road in small parties.
This was the condition of the valley in the month of June. On the 17th a small detachment of the United States Rifles, under orders to Benicia, Cal., were passing through and had a fight at Table Mountain, in which 18 Indians were reported killed and a large number wounded. At this place the gallant Lieutenant Stuart was killed.
During the next few days Major Kearny followed in pursuit of the demoralized Indians, who fled to the mountains, leaving about 35 women and children, who were made prisoners. The command then continued on its journey to California.
It will be readily seen that the settlements in the Umpqua and Rogue River valleys were in great danger. Doubly so when a large proportion of the men were in the California mines.
The Indians were in a wild state of excitement and burning for revenge. Had it not been for the prisoners held by Major Kearny a horrible massacre might have followed.
An express was sent to the Governor at Oregon City asking for protection against the Indians who were on the warpath. There being no United States troops available, he wrote the President respecting the needs and dangers of the settlers, and with haste proceeded to the Umpqua Valley, where he issued a call for volunteers.
Only Ten Men with Him.With an escort of only ten men he proceeded to the Rogue River Ferry, on the California trail. Here he was joined by about 35 men who had been driven from their mining claims on the upper river and who were assembled at this point for mutual protection.
A few days later, about July 6, General Lane arrived here with the Indian prisoners, above mentioned, and a company of 20 men, and formally transferred the prisoners to Governor Gaines, who had with him a company of 45 volunteers. After this Lane and his men pushed on to their homes in the Umpqua Valley.
Under the command of the Governor, who was a veteran of the Mexican War, we did guard, picket and patrol duty, expecting an attack to release our prisoners, as every few days rumors came into camp to that effect. We of 1851 went in an irregular way to be sure, but the duty was nonetheless effective, arduous or dangerous.
With General Joe Lane, a host in himself on the Umpqua; General Gaines with a company of 45 volunteers well armed with Colts and rifles, some of which were repeaters, on the Rogue River; and prisoners under close guard, the settlers and travelers were made perfectly safe from any attack from the redskins.
After much delay and much lying as to the whereabouts of Chief Joe, that person came into camp in company with five or six other Indians and sued for peace, saying they would be good and never more trouble the Bostons. With the usual formalities a treaty was made, and the prisoners, who had been held for more than two weeks, were than released.
By this time rumor of the danger to their families had reached the California miners, and men began to return to their homes. There being no further fear from the Indians, unless attacked, to avert any mistake men were sent in every direction to notify all persons that a treaty had been made which the whites were required to respect as well as the redskins. On this duty I was with the party that patrolled the California road over the mountains and beyond the California line.
Indians Were Numerous.I wish to say here that the Indians referred to were supposed to have over 300 fighting men and were the name band who in '55 and '56 were finally subdued by four or live companies of well-organized volunteers commanded by experienced officers, and three companies of United States regulars commanded by Captains Ord, Judah and A. J. Smith.
The prompt action of Governor Gaines in going to the post of danger when he received the call for help and protection for the women and children; the organization of a company of well-armed men, which he was ready to lead and they to follow to any point their services were needed, gave a feeling of security to the settlements and held the red devils in awe, as their very recent experience with Colts and repeating rifles they did not care to repeat.
By the courtesy of George Himes, of the Oregon Historical Society, I was shown copies of the Oregon Statesman published in the summer and fall of '51, which was at that time the leading journal. I was surprised at the contemptuous manner in which it referred to every action of Governor Gaines during this period of excitement. Speaking of the treaty it says: "Gaines made a treaty with all headmen, and it was no good; none of the chiefs had anything to do with it; and the Indians were as bad afterwards as before." This is proved untrue by its own columns, for a correspondent of the paper, writing in October from the mouth of the Rogue River says: "The Indians here are very quiet and give no trouble; it is evident that the treaty made on the upper river has had a good effect." In no place does it mention that the Governor had any men with him. Reference is made in a warning way to what it terms the young correspondent of the Oregonian, who took a different view of the situation. I have been unable to find any Oregonians of '51.
While I do not believe there is anyone who has read this article will deny that the men who served under Governor Gaines are entitled to the same recognition by the government and the state of Oregon as the volunteers of '55 and '56, namely, pay for service, pension and land warrant, we are ruled out on account of no muster roll being on file at Washington and no record showing that Governor Gaines had volunteers with him on the Rogue River.
Records Apparently Lost.I am sure that there was at one time some record relating to the events referred to, and a list of the men who served under Governor Gaines from the fact that all provisions from the store at the ferry were furnished on the requisition of the Governor, as were also some horses, although most of us furnished our own, and several years later while in San Francisco I received a power-of-attorney for my signature from a resident of Salem, which gave him power to present my claim for pay, etc., for services against the Rogue River Indians in the summer of '51. This shows that there was evidently some record, now lost.
Should the veterans of '51, if any other than myself, be living, which I think doubtful, never be able to prove our claim under the present rule of evidence adopted by the Pension Bureau, I shall at least have the satisfaction of having added a page to Oregon history and done justice to the memory of that gallant soldier, General John P. Gaines.
If this should reach the eye of anyone who can throw light on the subject, that person would confer a favor by addressing
CAPTAIN F. H. WEST,Oregonian, Portland, February 22, 1904, page 12
132 East Twelfth Street.
Jacksonville, OregonMr. Geo. H. Parker
September 12, 1908
Grants Pass, Josephine co., Oregon
Replying to yours of yesterday relative to the origin of the name Josephine for your county, I can't state positively that I know. I was at Yreka, California at the time the gold diggings were found there. Myself and two brothers by name of Garfield from Mass. concluded that we would go overland to Scottsburg and load our animals with provisions for the miners at Yreka. We started on that journey the 1st day of April, 1851. We crossed the Siskiyou Mountains on the anniversary of my birthday April 3rd. I was 25 years old that day. To show you how we traveled, on that day and the day following we made the distance from Cole's on the south side of the Siskiyou Mountains and landed at what is now Canyonville in Douglas County in two days' and one night's travel. We were not hunting for Indians either. We passed the Grave Creek location about 2 or 3 o'clock of the second day. We had been told about an emigrant girl dying and was buried; as near as I could guess now, she had been buried at the root or near it of a white oak tree about ⅓ of the distance from the Twogood and Harkness house to where the stage stable for the overland train stood when we traveled by stage. Afterwards, sometime in June of that year, there was great excitement about rich gold diggings being found on Canyon Creek, a tributary of Illinois River. That news spread through the camp at Yreka like wildfire. Every man in the camp owned at least one horse. These animals were kept in charge of herders during the day and corralled at night. Nearly every man in Yreka went on that expedition. I was one of the lot, and when we got near to where Kerbyville now is, at the crossing of the Illinois River close to where Hon. John Seyferth afterwards built a flouring mill, there was camped [at] that ford a man who was reported to be a widower. He had a daughter. I judged her to be about 15 or 16 years of age, and her name was Josephine, and we were informed that she was the first white woman that ever came to Josephine County. As to whether those parties' names were Rollins I am not able to say, but I saw the girl and the father near that ford of the Illinois River. Like other wild goose chases, the larger portion of our gang started back to Yreka, and when we got to where Medford is now located we came upon Major Kearny with about 40 dragoons. He was on his way to Benicia in California carrying dispatches of some kind from Vancouver to Brigadier General Riley, who was the military governor of California at that time. They did not go through Cow Creek Canyon but went up the south fork of the Umpqua River and came across the divide between Umpqua and Rogue River, and the command got into a skirmish with the Indians, and in that fight Captain Stuart was killed. When we struck Major Kearny's camp he said he wanted volunteers. He wanted to give those Indians a thrashing; there was quite a number of our men, as many as 50, all mounted and well armed, and the expedition cleaned out about all the males that were in sight. They were 2 or 3 weeks doing the job up, but it was a good job done. Those 40 dragoons took each of them a squaw upon his horse and came through Yreka in the night and went down to Strawberry Valley and struck camp there. Gen. Joseph Lane at that time was mining on a bar of Scott River, had a lot of Klickitat Indians, peaceable fellows, in his employ. Major Kearny sent a messenger with an extra horse and a guide to Gen. Lane's camp, and Gen. Lane went to Major Kearny's camp. They had a hyas close wawa about the propriety of taking those Indian squaws down to Benicia in California, and Gen. Lane counseled that the squaws be taken back to Rogue River, and as Gen. Lane started for his home in Douglas County with his Klickitat braves with him, he took charge of those squaws and brought them to the T'Vault ranch, known as such after the settlement of the country, just opposite where Gold Hill is now. I have been working, writing hard all day, and it is getting dark. I will have to stop now. I have stated what I know to be facts, and that I suppose is all you wanted to know.
Respectfully yours,George Riddle Papers, Oregon Historical Society Research Library MS 1388. Transcribed from typescript.
Silas J. Day.
General Joe Lane was then in Oregon, and with the United States regular army that was stationed there, together with volunteers, he secured peace. But a large number of the white inhabitants lost their lives during the outbreak. It happened very fortunate for our surveying party that it did not occur a month later, when we should probably have been surveying in that valley, and probably some of us would have lost our scalps.
The war was said to have been caused by the abuse of the daughter of the chief by some gold miners who were at work on Rogue River, and as the perpetrators of the foul deed immediately left the place, so that the chief could not punish the guilty parties, he made preparations to exterminate all the white people then in the valley. Nothing was known in relation to his intentions by the whites until his arrangements were completed.
One day when all was in readiness, as he supposed, the Indians commenced shooting down the whites indiscriminately in Jacksonville, the principal village of the Rogue River settlement. In this instance, as in one or two other Indian outbreaks that I knew something about while I was in the Indian country, the trouble was caused by ill treatment of the Indians by the whites, and I firmly believe the same, or similar causes, have produced similar results in the great majority of Indian wars and massacres since the discovery of America by Columbus. It is my opinion that the poor Indian--naturally a noble race of men--have been most shamefully and wickedly abused and mistreated.
Kimball Webster, The Gold Seekers of '49, 1917, pages 215-216
This attack was made on the 23rd of June. The Indians, who fought behind stone fortifications, were under the command of Chief John, the great war chief of the Rogue Rivers. The attack was renewed on the 24th. This fight was a desperate one, and the Indians suffered severely. Major Kearny offered to treat with them, but they scorned his offer. He prepared to attack early on the morning of the 25th, but the Indians fled from their stronghold during the night. Although they were pursued, they escaped to the timbered hills, and only thirty women with their children were captured. These were held as hostages. Indian war veterans have told a thrilling tale of an Indian woman who during this fight stood high on a ledge of rock and gave commands to the Indian warriors in clarion tones which could be heard above the din of battle. This woman was known to the whites as Princess Mary. She was the wife of "Tyee Jim," a brother of Chief John. Unfortunately the Indian names of the savages prominent in the war in this valley have been lost to history.
"Battle of Table Rock Told by Mrs. Sargent," Medford Mail Tribune, January 3, 1932, page 3 Mrs. Sargent has confabulated to some degree the conflicts of 1851. 1853 and 1855.
"My uncle, Legrand H. Hill, told me of the death of Captain Stuart.
"He said that it was an Indian boy that had been wounded, and when Stuart approached near enough the boy shot him. I think that Uncle was in that battle, although I'm not positive."
State Senator George W. Dunn to Robert J. Hendricks, "Bits for Breakfast," Oregon Statesman, Salem, November 13, 1937, page 4
Last revised December 26, 2021