Charley and I kept batch on my stock ranch, near Spencer's Butte, close to where Eugene is now located, for two years. One day I left the ranch, to be gone a couple of days, and when I returned, I found the place vacated. Charley had previously learned about his people, and where they were, and he had packed his goods and hotfooted it to his people. I never saw him afterwards, but his name was connected with the Modoc War.
I remained on my ranch near the present site of Eugene for six years, and kept myself busy raising stock. I had accumulated 559 head of cattle, and forty head of horses during the time.
On the 19th of October, all the Indians in that part of the country where I lived, and in all directions for many miles, began hostilities. The Indians that went on the warpath, included the Rogue Rivers, Klamaths, Modocs, Dalles, Walla Wallas, Cayuse, Snake and Shoshones.
These tribes had held a council of war the summer before, and voted to wage a war to exterminate the white people. During their powwow, they were represented by some of the noblest chiefs from all the tribes, and they debated the exterminating project long and loud.
Some held that the palefaces had benefited the Indians by bringing them the true word of God, and that the palefaces were teaching them wisdom, and how to build good houses, and how to provide themselves with better food and clothing; on the other hand, those that opposed the whites argued that the palefaces were becoming more numerous, and that they kept coming and coming, and were crowding the Indians farther and farther back; and they would keep coming and coming, till they would take their lands from them, and that they were ruining their hunting grounds, plowing up their camas beds, & running the game away. After awhile, the Indians would be without a place to live.
It seemed that this argument prevailed, for they voted by a large majority to go on the warpath. Now the whites were getting the results of that decision, for at that time, the Indians were waging a merciless butchering of the whites. Just how many fell before their weapons, no one ever knew, for men, women and children were shown no mercy.
In all the country west of the Cascade Mountains, the Rogue River section suffered the most, for the Indians didn't overlook anything that could be destroyed by bullet or fire; except where the settlers flocked to protect themselves against the Indians.
When the news of the outbreak reached Eugene City, the settlers got together and organized a company of volunteers to go to the assistance of the Rogue River settlers. The first day after the call was made, nineteen volunteered, and the second day, seventy-four more answered the call. They then elected their officers, and Mr. Joseph Bailey was elected captain, and I was elected lieutenant.
We had no mode of transportation, only what we could furnish ourselves, and we would be late to offer any assistance if we waited for government transportation, so we got our saddle horses, rolled our blankets, got our guns, and were off to render succor to the settlers of Rogue River.
The Indians had already committed their atrocious crimes, and were gone when we reached the Rogue River country. The smoldering buildings, grain stacks and blackened fields, and slain stock of all kinds, spoke only too plainly of the damage that had been done. Poultry of all kinds were scattered through the woods, and in a distance of fifteen miles, there was only one house that escaped the torch, and that one belonged to a Mr. Wagoner. All that could, assembled here, to protect themselves against the Indians.
We went on to Wolf Creek, a distance of 160 miles from Eugene City. There we found Captain Smith, from Southern Oregon. These companies combined made up a little army of 400 men. When we reached Wolf Creek, we learned that about 500 Indians were camped 50 miles from Wolf Creek, on the high mountains, between Rogue River and Cow Creek. This was the report of scouts that had located them three days before, and every one of us, to the man, was in favor of punishing the marauders as quickly as possible.
Major Ross, who had taken command, got the officers together and held a council of war. It was decided to make a forced march by night, on foot, as it was impossible to use horses in such a rough, ragged country. Everyone was excited, and anxious, to get into a fight with the Indians, and it was overenthusiasm that caused our downfall.
We stayed in camp till after dark, and then started for the Indians. Our progress was slow, on account of steep mountains, and we didn't reach the place where the Indians had been camped till about eight o'clock the next morning; instead of reaching it in the early morning hours. When we did reach the place, to our chagrin, the birds had flown, and as we read the signs they had left about two days before. Now we were puzzled--we didn't know which way the Indians had gone, and we failed to take the precaution we should have.
The men, as a whole, were ignorant of Indian ways, and their only thought was to follow the Indians. They started out, going in all directions, and there wasn't an officer that had ten men with him.
During all the confusion, I looked the country over, and decided which way the Indians were the most likely to go. I knew that they wouldn't all leave their camp together, that they would scatter and come together at some certain point. I had fixed the I designated point on a ridge, between two deep canyons, and on reaching the ridge we found the trail.
I had six of my men with me, and we were at least a quarter of a mile in advance of the main army. I looked across the canyon to my left, and saw some Indians on the next ridge. We passed the word back to the main army, and it soon came up to where we were.
It was about three quarters of a mile, air line, across to where the Indians were, but we had to go about three miles to get where they were. When the main army found out the location of the Indians, they threw caution to the winds, and started for them.
My men were in advance of the main army, and we saw about 40 Indians come out on a little open place, out of gunshot from us, and dance the war dance. The temptation was too great, and we opened fire, of course, without any effect, and they gave us the horse laugh and disappeared over a little knoll.
Now take it from me, those redskins knew their music, for we naturally thought we had those fellows on the run, and we had an idea that we could outrun 'em. We started after them, on the double quick, but they had just outsmarted us. We ran right into their trap, for the first thing we knew, we were right up against their fortification, located in the thick brush at the foot of the mountain. As soon as we were in range of their guns, they gave us the best they had. Two of our men fell, one mortally wounded, and the other lived to get well.
As soon as the firing began, our men were thrown in a worse state of confusion than they were before, if it were possible. We moved the wounded men to the rear, and then began one of the most disgraceful imitations of a battle that was ever witnessed.
The regular soldiers and the volunteers were shouting, "Where are the Indians," and the Indians answered their question for them, by pouring another volley into their ranks. Several men fell, and then it was every man for himself. They rushed into the brush, and shot at random, sometimes shooting at one another, with the assumption that wherever they saw the brush move, there was an Indian.
During the confusion, I took advantage of the occasion to do some reconnoitering. I was hidden in the brush and timber, about 600 feet above the battleground, and could tell from the report of the guns what was going on. Occasionally I would see one of our men, and sometimes an Indian. There wasn't any chance of getting a clear view of the battle on account of the thickness of the brush.
I moved along the entire length of the battle line, and could get a fairly good idea of what was happening to our men, from one and of the battle line to the other--end what I saw could hardly be described as a battle, for it was every fellow for himself, and the Indians take the hindmost, for the Indians were securely fortified behind their breastworks.
After taking in the situation as well as I could, I returned to where our dead and wounded were, and I found nineteen dead and wounded. While I was reconnoitering, I could plainly see what should be done, but it was impossible, for I didn't know where any of the officers were, except that they were in the brush, and had no control over their men. It was evident that the only key to win the battle was to form the men in a line and charge the Indians, but the steepness of the mountain, and the brush, made that impossible.
I decided to scout around the mountainside and examine the lay of the country, and find out if there was any advantage to be gained by shifting our army to another position.
On coming to the Rogue River side of the mountain, I descended the mountain and came to a little creek, near the Indians' fortifications. I crawled along the bank of the creek till I was within three hundred yards of their stronghold. I could see a good many Indians, and got a good view of the squaw, Sally Lane, daughter of Chief Joseph Lane, council chief of the Rogue River Indians.
Sally was located six or seven hundred yards up their mountainside, out of range of our old muzzle-loading rifles. She was sitting on a horse, directing the Indians, as she could see the movement of our soldiers (as well as the brush would permit), shouting her orders with a voice equal to the sound of a foghorn. She was no amateur directing her warriors.
This lady got the name Sally Lane in 1850, when General Joseph Lane made a treaty with the Rogue River Indians, and in honor of General Lane, her father was named Chief Joseph, and she Sally Lane. I watched lady Sally giving directions to her soldiers long enough to get the location of her warriors, and then worked my way back to where our men were located.
When I got back, the number of wounded and dead had increased to thirty. At this time Captain came out of the brush, with eighteen men he had succeeded in getting together, and proposed to me that we go down below, where the Indians were, on the creek. We were to follow up the creek, to where the Indians were fortified, end I told him that I had investigated that part of the battleground very carefully, and how I found the Indians located. I told him that it looked to be impossible to accomplish anything from that source, and that we would surely lose more men; but he insisted.
We tried out his plan, and when we got within gunshot of the Indians that were secreted in the brush, all of a sudden--BANG! went the Indians' guns, and three of our men fell, badly wounded. We caught up the wounded and carried them to where the other wounded men were.
By this time it was growing late, and the men were coming from the battlefield. They brought the news that three of Captain Smith's men were dead, out on the field, and the Captain detailed a corporal, with six men, to do and bring them in.
The Indians paid no attention to them till they went to lift the dead, and then they opened fire upon them, and two fell, wounded, and the lucky ones picked up the wounded, and carried them back to where the army was.
When Captain Smith detailed twelve men to go and get the bodies, and they were met with the same result as the first, only worse, for three were wounded, and one killed. Then the Captain gave up the idea of getting the dead, and we had to retreat about one-half mile downhill to a little creek, where we could get water. Besides the three soldiers we left four dead volunteers on the battlefield.
The next morning at daylight, the Indians attacked us in our camp, and fought us till noon, but this time we had the advantage of them, for we were concealed in the brush, and they were more or less in the open, and had to do the moving.
During this last fight, there were no casualties on our side, and we never knew whether or not there were any Indians killed during the two fights. Our loss was twenty-three dead, and forty wounded. After the Indians retired, we buried our dead, and made litters on which to carry our wounded, and went to Wolf Creek, where we left our supplies. We called the battle we had fought with the Indians the Battle of Hungry Hill, for we didn't have a mouthful of anything to eat from the time we left our supplies on Wolf Creek, till we got back.
Eight days after the Battle of Hungry Hill, Captain Bailey and I went to the battleground and buried those that were left on the battlefield, in one grave. Of those that were wounded, four of them succumbed to their wounds.
I have never seen a detailed account of the Battle of Hungry Hill, although it is mentioned in the history of Indian wars as the Battle of Hungry Hill. It seems that all the officers that were engaged in the battle were, like myself, ashamed to give the details of the battle.
From Wolf Creek, we volunteers disbanded to our several homes with the stigma of defeat written all over our physiognomies. After resting up for a few days, eighteen of us volunteers were detailed to patrol the Oregon and California road, from one road station to another. I continued this patrol duty well into late December, and then answered a call from the quartermaster, I. N. Smith, to come to Corvallis and serve as purchasing agent for the southern division of the War Department.
I served as purchasing agent in the quartermaster's department till the war closed in June, when the Indians were moved to the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation, in Yamhill County. At that time, I returned to my ranch and remained on it until 1859, and continued to raise cattle.
Cyrenius Mulkey, "One of the Bravest," unpublished typescript, Oregon Historical Society Research Library Mss. 981, pages 79-87
STEAMBOAT MINEThe discovery of the Steamboat mine, at the head of Williams Creek, Josephine County, Oregon, was purely accidental. The discovery was made the same way Gold Hill was discovered, during the fall of 1859.
It so happened that a party of prospectors was digging around in the mountains, near where the Steamboat mine was discovered, and they made a discovery of placer ground that would pay about $8 per day to the man. After taking out quite a lot of gold, they went to Jacksonville to lay in supplies for the winter.
While at Jacksonville, one of the men got hold of a rich piece of rock that came from the Hicks mine, and carried it in his pocket. Quite often for pastime, and to create a little excitement, he would show it, but would never tell where he got it; remarking that they had all the gold they wanted.
The people naturally thought they had made a rich discovery, and when they started to return to their mines, they stopped at a road house on Applegate Creek. While there, the fellow with the specimen of quartz thought he would tease the road house fellows a little, and he took the rock out of his pocket and made a great display of it. He remarked, "We have plenty of this stuff," and left the men to lean on their curiosity.
But the next spring when the fellows started for their mine, some of the fellows trailed them, keeping far enough behind to be out of sight. When they got to within a mile of the miners' diggings, they ran up against a steep mountain. But there was a low pass in the mountain, and they decided to take the pass, rather than go over the mountain the shortest way.
When they got to the top of the pass, about one-half mile from the miners' camp, they walked right on top of a quartz ledge, the richest yet. Right there they staked their claim. When they began to work their claim, it contained such an abundance of wire gold that, when blasting, the rock would hang together.
The ledge formed a pocket that was about 400 feet long, 30 feet on top, and in places, went down 30 feet and then disappeared. There has never been a sign of the ledge found since, although thousands of dollars have been spent trying to locate it. They called this mine the Steamboat mine, and it produced about $800,000.
THE DISCOVERY OF GOLD HILLThe discovery of Gold Hill, in Southern Oregon, was really made by Jerome Alexander, and he discovered it purely by accident.
Alexander was what they called a cigarette gambler. He went broke in Jacksonville, but he had two good saddle horses, and he turned them over to a Mr. Chavner, a higher-class gambler, for a loan of $100. After loaning Alexander the money, Chavner went to Portland on a gambling trip, expecting to be gone for some time.
They both lived in Jacksonville, and when Chavner left for Portland, Alexander decided that he had been in Jacksonville long enough. He borrowed a saddle horse of a Mr. Ish, to ride out on the range, where the horses he had given to Mr. Chavner as security for the hundred dollars were running. He got them, and then beat it for California before Chavner returned.
His search took him out over the mountain that was afterwards called Gold Hill. He knew that his mortgaged horses, with a lot of others, were running in that territory, and he located them where he expected to find them.
When he started to separate them from the band to drive them in, they had another notion. While he was endeavoring to get them going right, the horse he was riding stumbled and fell, and threw Alexander, and the horse galloped off with the others.
While Alexander was following the riding horse, he noticed some quartz rock lying loose on the ground that was highly mineralized. He was curious enough to pick some of it up and put it in his pocket, and then he continued on after the horse. The horse happened to get tangled in the bridle reins and was easy to catch. He finally got the horses back to the Ish ranch, and immediately left for California.
While getting ready to start, there was talk about Hicks' mine that was causing a lot of excitement. This reminded Alexander of the rock he got on the mountain. He took a piece out of his pocket and showed it to Ish, remarking that there might be gold in it, and told Ish where he got it.
Then he told Ish goodbye, and was off for California with Chavner's horses. But he sure did Ish a good turn, even if he did beat Chavner out of a hundred dollars. In a few days Ish found out that the rock contained gold, and he and five other men went to the mountain top and found the whole top of the mountain covered with gold-bearing quartz. It yielded them thousands of dollars.
Cyrenius Mulkey, "One of the Bravest," unpublished typescript, Oregon Historical Society Research Library Mss. 981, pages 170-173 Mulkey's Gold Hill story is considerably different from all other known versions. The Gold Hill pocket was discovered by James Willis Hay. Mulkey spells Chavner "Cavenno."
THE HIGH COST OF LIVING IN EARLY MINING DAYS
In the years 1848, '49 and '50, in the remote mining regions of California, the high cost of living undoubtedly broke all previous records. Whether it was according to the rules of supply and demand, or a whim of those who were at the head of the selling game, who had a chance to enlarge their fortunes to their satisfaction, never worried the miners. They always seemed to have the gold to pay the price.
Why should they worry if flour was $3 per pound, bacon $3, beans $2, coffee $3, cane sugar made in the Hawaiian Islands $2, tobacco $16, rice $2, and all other provisions on the same scale?
The flour came from Chile, and the most of it was the movable kind. Those who couldn't stand the movable part could remove it by running it through a tin with the bottom punched full of fine holes. But generally, the miners trusted to their fingers to remove what part that was moving. What they didn't remove was never worried over, for it seemed to all go with the bread.
Down in the Sacramento Valley at Ft. Sutter, where they didn't have to pay such high freight rates, things came cheaper. Flour was $1 per pound by the sack, bacon $1, coffee $1, tea $6, sugar $1, tobacco $8, and so on down the line.
Cyrenius Mulkey, "One of the Bravest," unpublished typescript, Oregon Historical Society Research Library Mss. 981, page 181
I was born in Tabbo Grove, Lafayette County, Missouri, February 26, 1832, and lived there with my parents until April, 1835, when my father moved to Johnson County. At that time there were very few settlers in Johnson County. Our neighbors were from two to six miles apart.
My father located on a fine tract of land and lived there for nine years, during which time he improved the place quite extensively, fenced the farm, built a good house and barn, also a saw and grist mill. Father had also put out the first orchard within twenty miles of us, and we had a great plenty of fruit. When we left the farm I was twelve years old, and if I do say it myself, I was quite an industrious boy. I did all kinds of men's work, plowing, teaming, handling stock of all kinds, and in fact I was doing a man's work at everything on the farm.
In April of this year my father sold the farm and moved into what was then called Van Buren County, near Lone Jack, in Jackson County [Missouri]. This was also a new country, three or four miles from one neighbor to another. We went to work and built and fenced as much as we could in two years. At the expiration of that time, Father took the "Oregon fever," sold his farm and commenced getting ready to come across the plains to Oregon.
Cyrenius Mulkey, "Eighty-One Years of Frontier Life," unpublished typescript written circa 1913, Oregon Historical Society Research Library Mss. 981, page 1
I packed up as quickly as I could and started on my eight-hundred-mile journey across the mountains to California [in the summer of 1848]. The country on from where Mr. Turpin lived was entirely unsettled, so I was practically alone. I traveled that day until about nine o'clock at night, staked and hobbled my horses, and went to sleep.
On the third day, late in the afternoon, I came up to my people; they were right at the mouth [of] the canyon where Canyonville now is. The next day we went through [the] canyon into the Rogue River country. Everything went well until the third day. On that we had to pass what was known as the "point of rock," a place that the Indians never allowed a white man to pass without a fight, and this was no exception, for they were laying in the road waiting for us. They held us up about two hours before we could drive them back so we could pass. We got through without losing a man or anyone getting wounded. From this time on there was nothing of importance occurred until we reached General Sutter's Fort in the Sacramento Valley.
Cyrenius Mulkey, "Eighty-One Years of Frontier Life," unpublished typescript written circa 1913, Oregon Historical Society Research Library Mss. 981, page 17
THE RETURN TRIP TO OREGON HOME.We now made up our minds that we had money enough, and to return to Oregon. We struck out for Sacramento Valley, and the first place that we made a halt was at Potter's Ranch, near where Chico now is. They had a store there and I fitted myself out in fine Spanish style--fine silver-mounted saddle, bridle and spurs, very fine Spanish chaparejos at one hundred dollars apiece, a half dozen red silk sashes and two of the best horses on the ranch, also a big Mexican hat that they call a "sombrero." Right here was one of the finest dressed boys that you would find in a month's travel. We remained at Potter's Ranch about two weeks. I had something of the same idea as Clara Baldwin, that money was of no use except to buy what you wanted, so I spent it freely, but still had a nice little bunch to take home with me.
We struck out for Oregon. I felt very anxious to see any dear old mother, who had tried so hard to keep me from going to California. We went to Major Redding's in the Sacramento Valley, near where the town of Redding is, and stayed there a few days, expecting someone would come along and strengthen our party so that we could go on to Oregon.
We were only three in number, myself, McCullough and "Struttin'" Bill White. By the way, this man White afterwards settled in the Umpqua Valley at some place near Roseburg. I think we remained in this camp about ten days, but no one came along. White and McCullough proposed that if I would keep camp that they would go up about twenty miles to a mining camp called Shasta, and see if there was anyone there who wanted to go to Oregon. We were not safe to make the trip with less than twenty well-armed men, as the Rogue River Indians were a bad lot, and had held up forty of us the year before. The Indians where we camped were hostile, and I did not like the idea of keeping camp all alone, but I told them all right, and they struck out. They were gone about eight days. They did not find any company, but the same evening that they returned to camp there came along five men on their way to Oregon. This made eight in all, so we held a consultation as to what we should do. The five men were very anxious to go on. As for my part I did not like the look of things, but I was between two fires. I had taken the mountain fever three or four days before while the boys were away, and I was afraid to go back to that hot Sacramento Valley on account of my fever, and afraid to go on on account of the hostile Indians.
Those five men had decided to take the chances for Oregon. Mat McCullough said to me, "Cy, are you going with these men? If I was you, I would not go, for the Indians will kill you all sure." I replied, "If I stay in this country I will die with the fever, and I might get through with the Indians all right." So I decided to take my chances for Oregon, while Mat went back to Grass Valley. White and I joined the Oregon party, making seven in all, and only three rifles and very little ammunition to protect ourselves with. We knew if the Indians found us it meant death, but our idea was that, there being so few of us together, we could steal through the country and that the Indians would not see us. This was our only chance of escape. We kept a sharp lookout for Indians all the time. For a long distance we did not see any Indians, but would often see fresh signs. Everything went well until we were on the Siskiyou Mountain near the Oregon line. The mountains were all on fire, and the smoke was densely thick so that we could not see a man more than fifty yards, and the first thing we knew we were right onto an Indian camp. We had surprised them as much as they had us. There was only a few of them. We had got off from our road on to an Indian trail and did not know it, but we knew which direction it was to our road, so we soon found it again and came out at or near where Ashland now is.
We went on and made camp that night on the opposite side of Rogue River about a half a mile from Gold Hill station on the railroad. All this time I was growing very weak from my fever, and was barely able to ride horseback. Had I been where I could have stopped, I would have done so, but it was ride or die at this time. I had grown very weak, and was doing no work whatever. The men took care of my horses and stood guard for me.
I will tell you how I used to doctor for my fever. When we would get into camp I would strip my clothing down, and lay down on [the] dampest place I could find, with my naked abdomen on the ground or in the water as it happened to be. This gave me great relief, and I got the fever almost broken in this way. Now here is where my trouble commenced. As I have told you, we went into camp near Gold Hill station. The next morning [August 31, 1849], just as the first sign of day made its appearance there were about one hundred Indians raised out of a little dry gulch not more than one hundred yards away from us. As they made their appearance they made a charge, shooting and whooping the war whoop. They came running as fast as possible toward our camp. The owners of the guns fired at them when they made their appearance, so you can see that there was no time to load before they would be onto us. We stood facing and looking at them until they were within twenty-five yards of us. An old man by the name of [John] Meldrum, who used to live near Salem, Oregon, broke and run. When he started he halloed, "RUN, boys, run!"
During the fight there were at least twenty arrows shot through the clothing of different ones, but none of them drawing the blood. Struttin' Bill White had five arrows shot through his hat; I had eight holes shot through the legs of my trousers. A poisoned arrow that entered my thigh was one of the first which was fired by the Indians, and struck me when I was in bed asleep. I jumped up and saw the arrow sticking in me and pulled it out, broke [it] in two and threw it down. You see in my case of having so many arrows through my trousers it was this way. I was only a small boy, in my seventeenth year, and small of my age, and at that time there was no clothing to be had in the country, so I had to buy the smallest man's suit that I could get and cut the sleeves of my coat off so that I could wear it, and also had to do the same with the trousers. So the trousers were very large for me, and hung very loose around my legs, something like the old style of the Chinaman dress, and you can see that there was plenty of room to hit the trousers and miss me. If any one of these arrows had hit me from six to eighteen inches higher up they would have killed me, but in this case as in a great many others I was extremely lucky.
We were camped in the edge of the prairie and ran farther back into the prairie. The Indians ran into our camp and grabbed up all our effects, and then went back into the timber. There we were without horses, provisions or anything else, and I was badly wounded. I was shot in the thigh with a poisoned arrow and bled very freely. Now the only thing to do was to get out of that country. The first place that we could get any relief was on the North Umpqua River, where Winchester now stands, so we struck out. I was weak from my fever and was bleeding very much from the wound. We did not travel many miles until I gave out entirely, and two men would walk along, one on each side of me. I would lean an arm on each man's shoulder. With that assistance I was only able to go two or three hundred yards at a time. I would get so weak that I would let all holts go and fall to the ground, but I traveled as fast as I possibly could, for the Indians were following up and shooting at us all the time. When I would fall down the men would beg me to get up and go on, and just as soon as I possibly could get up I would go on again.
As I had forgotten to state, about two weeks before the Indians robbed us, a small schooner [the W. L. Hackstaff] was wrecked at the mouth of Rogue River; it had come from Vancouver, the Hudson Bay fort, near where Portland now stands; it was loaded with merchandise purchased from the Hudson Bay Company for the California mining trade. Her cargo was all lost, but the men aboard all got ashore and made their escape.
Aboard of this ship they had besides other goods a lot of domestic calicoes, sheeting and flannels of all colors. The ocean tide naturally floated the ship and cargo and the Indians got all of the goods. This had happened about two weeks before they robbed us. After the Indians robbed us they disappeared for some time, I should think for about two hours. The first we saw of them after the robbery the whole band of about one hundred came running down the river on the opposite side from us, at what is now known as Long Prairie. Each Indian carried a flag made of goods that they had got off the ship; they were coming in the shape of a charge, whooping the war whoop as loud as they could. Each Indian carried a flag of five or six yards on a pole about ten feet long, and they were running just fast enough to straighten the flags to full size. I don't think that I ever saw anything that would have looked so romantic in a picture. Just think, one hundred Indians under a general charge, each carrying a large flag of different color and all halloing at the top of their voices. They passed on ahead of us, and when out of sight, and at a point where our trail came near the bank of he river, they hid themselves in the brush, and when we came along they shot across the river at us, but before the arrows got to us we could see them and dodge away from them. They went on ahead of us again, and when they came to another suitable place they did the same thing. They kept on in this way for a number of times, and finally came to the conclusion that we had no ammunition, as all this time we had not fired a shot at them. So at length they went on ahead of us out of sight and swam over to our side of the river, and hid in the brush until we came along, and when we came near they made a general charge on us. Our men had the three rifles, and all told only fourteen loads of ammunition. They held their fire until the Indians were within about thirty steps of us, and then all fired into the bunch, about one hundred of them. At the report of the rifles, two Indians fell to the ground; the other Indians grabbed the wounded Indians and ran back into the brush, and that was the last we saw of Indians.
All the forenoon the Indians had given us a number of good chances to shoot at them, but we dared not shoot away our ammunition. We had to keep our powder in case of a charge, which finally came. The Indians thought as they had given us so many good opportunities to shoot at them that we had no ammunition, and that they had us at their mercy, and could kill us at their leisure. Our trouble was not yet over. This was just below the point of rocks and we had to get across the Rogue River, and we were afraid that the Indians would waylay and kill us while we were in the river. The men held a council and decided to leave the road and take to the mountainside. By going down to the mouth of Jump Off Joe Creek to cross the river, a little-used route, we would miss the regular ford and fool the Indians. [Mulkey is either mistaken about the name of the creek where they crossed, or he's here describing a plan that didn't come to pass. The mouth of Jumpoff Joe Creek is about 30 miles from Rock Point as the crow flies.] We left the road and got quite a way up on the side of the mountain. This was very rough traveling and made it much harder on me than the road, and I fell down as usual.
We stopped at this place quite awhile, as we had seen no Indians after leaving the road. All the time I was lying there I was studying what to do. I finally made up my mind that it was impossible for me to get through on that route and decided to go back to the road. I thought I might meet someone or that someone might overtake me, and that I would get assistance in that way, and that if I was off the road I would not see anyone and they would not see me. I concluded to go to the road and take my chances alone. So I got up and started for the road by myself.
The men composing the party were William Gage, William Wilkinson, "Stutterin'" [sic] Bill White, Kellis Grigsby, a man by the name of [Arthur] Saltmarsh and quite an old man by the name of [John] Meldrum, who at that time lived near Salem, Oregon; in fact they all belonged to Oregon. Here was where my friend Gage came to my relief. When I started away from my party Gage said, "Cy, where are you going?" I explained to him that I had decided to go to the road and stay there. He said, "I will go too. You shall not go alone." We struck out for the road, and Wilkinson, Saltmarsh and Mr. Meldrum followed. White and Grigsby took the mountain route.
We traveled along as best we could, two men helping me all the time. White and Grigsby soon got tired of the mountains and returned to the road and overtook us. Soon after they joined us I fell down to rest, and all at once I found that I was all alone. I looked around and saw my party all together solemnly holding a council. Sure enough there was White and Grigsby. They were scared almost to death all the time from the first, and at this council they proposed to the other men to kill me, saying that it was impossible to ever get me through, and that they would all lose their lives trying to save mine. Here is where Gage came to my assistance again. He swore to them that if they killed that boy he would kill them, saying at the same time that if that boy had to die in that country, that he would die with him. How was that for a friend? You now see that I owe sixty-four years of my life to my friend William Gage. He traveled on down the river, wondering all the time how we were going to get across. We were afraid to go to the regular ford, as we expected that the Indians would be there and kill us while we were in the river. We kept on trusting to Providence until we got within about eight miles of what is now Grants Pass. Here we discovered a small island in the river, and the water being very clear we could see the bottom all the way across to the island. We decided to try and get to the island. Now here was more trouble for the boy. I could not swim a stroke, and the river was very swift and deep. Here my would-be murderer came to my assistance. Mr. Grigsby took me across that river safely. He was a large man, about six feet one inch in height, weighing 185 pounds. When we got to the island we had no trouble in reaching the next bank.
Now that we were off from the road that we traveled on down the river through the timber until we came to the open prairie just above Grants Pass. Out in the prairie we noticed a small bunch of willow brush and supposed that there was water there, which there was.
We went out and hid in the brush until dark. When we got to the spring, as usual I stripped my clothes down and lay down in the mud and water for about five hours I think. After crossing the river I stopped bleeding, and it was wonderful how fast I gained my strength. By this time it was dark, so we started out. We knew which direction the road was and went to it. By this time I had recovered my strength so that I could walk alone, and did so. We traveled slowly. The nights were quite cold, and occasionally when we came to a deep gulch, where the Indians could not see us, we would make a fire and warm and rest a while. We never made any regular camp. We traveled on in this way for four days and three nights without anything to eat except what grows and what one of the men killed [with] a rock. We could have killed a lot of game but did not dare to use our ammunition until we got out of the hostile Indian country. At that time the country was entirely unsettled. The farthest house south was a ferry house on the North Umpqua River where Winchester stands now. A Mr. Scott had built a ferry there to ferry the Oregon and California travel across the river. We made the distance from Gold Hill to North Umpqua, about 150 miles [it's about 80], in four days and three nights.
We found plenty of "grub" at Mr. Scott's. We were out of the hostile Indian country and everyone could travel to suit themselves. After breakfast a gentleman who was sick with the mountain fever and was lying over at Mr. Scott's said to me, "Little one, do not be in a hurry; there are some Klickitat Indians camped down on the river, and they come up here every day. When they come I will buy you a horse to ride home."
It was about 150 miles to Yamhill County, where my mother lived at the same cabin where she and I had the scuffle when I started for California the year before. I accepted his proposition. Sure enough, the Indians came and he bought me a horse, saddle and bridle. I remained at Mr. Scott's that day. The next morning I saddled up my horse to go and the same gentleman, Mr. Woods, said to me, "Boy, how much money will it take to pay your expenses home?" I told him that I thought about $25.00. He gave me the money and I struck out to see my dear old mother, minus two fine horses and one not so good, a silver-mounted saddle, bridle and spurs, my fine clothing and thirty-six hundred dollars in gold dust.
I was awfully anxious to see Mother, but I dreaded the meeting, for she had called the turn on the windup of my trip. She argued with me that the Indians would kill me, and that I would starve to death and all that kind of thing, but nevertheless I was bound to see her. When I arrived at home Mother met me at the gate. I said to her, "Mother, I am not dead, nor starved to death, though I have been very close to both starvation and death."
I found Mother getting along pretty well with those six little children. I remained at home that winter, shaking with the ague all the time. I had got over the ague by the springtime, and was ready to go to work. I heard that Mr. William Martin, who was afterwards appointed receiver in the first land office that was established at Winchester in the Umpqua Valley, wanted a man. I went to see Mr. Martin and learned that he wanted a man to do some plowing, so I made a bargain with him at $75.00 a month. When my month was up I asked Mr. Martin what his price was on a very nice little pony, with blue eyes, which he had at that time. He told me $75.00, and I said, "All right. I will take him." He said, "Are you going to quit?" And I said, "Yes, farming is too slow for me." I took the pony and went to my mother's. In a few days General Lane came along. He was following some soldiers who had deserted and wanted a few citizens to go with them. He proposed to give the citizens a reward of $30.00 for each deserter whom they captured. The soldiers had belonged with the seven hundred mounted dragoons who had come across the plains the year before, 1849, and a good many of them were under General Lane's command during the Mexican War. When on muster at Oregon City about three hundred of them deserted in order to go to California to dig gold. This was a trip of eight hundred miles, through a country that was entirely unsettled, and these men had no way to taking supplies except what they could carry on their backs.
General Lane knew this, and knew that more or less of them would come to suffering and want, so it was more as a charitable act that he followed them than for anything else. We followed them as far as Grave Creek in the Rogue River Valley, at which place we succeeded in overtaking eighty-three of them, including what we had arrested at other places. The greater number of these men were almost naked and without provisions, so you can see that we had very little trouble in making arrests. He returned the deserters to Oregon City, and there General Lane paid us the reward.
A TREATY WITH THE ROGUE RIVER INDIANS.At that time General Lane told me that he was going to California about the first of June , and intended to try and get the Rogue River Indians together when he got into their country. He wanted to make a treaty with them, and he wished me to go with him as interpreter. He also said that we might be able to recover some of my property, which the Indians had robbed me of the year before. I told him I would go, and did so.
The Rogue River Indians at this time had four or five hundred head of horses, which they had stolen from people traveling through their country. At that time the Klickitat Indians inhabited the Willamette Valley, and their chief, Quatley, was very anxious to make a raid on the Rogue Rivers and get their horses, so he proposed to the General that he take about forty of the warriors and go along. In case General Lane did not succeed in making a treaty, he proposed that he, Quatley, would make the raid and get the horses. General Lane agreed to the proposition, and Quatley with his Indians, and about forty white men, made up our company. We had about five hundred head of beef cattle with us which belonged to General Lane, Martin Angel and Phil Thompson. They were driving the cattle to California. We got along all right with camp and stock until we reached the South Umpqua River, near what is now Canyonville, where we made camp for two days. During this time the General had Quatley and his Indians out hunting for the Rogue Rivers. He found a small band away up near the head of the South Umpqua, and got them to come to camp. With him there was a boy about fifteen years old whom the Rogue Rivers had captured from the Calapooia Indians. This boy could talk very good Chinook and so could I. Between the two of us the General held a council, and it was agreed that the Rogue Rivers should all get together and meet us on what is known as Big Bar on the south side of Rogue River, and just above what is now Gold Hill station on the railroad.
According to their promise they met us and after a council which lasted two days they made and signed a treaty. Chief Joseph, as we named him for General Joseph Lane, made General Lane a present of a small Indian boy, whom the Rogue Rivers had captured from the Calapooia Indians, as his part of good faith. General Lane killed two beeves and gave the Indians a big potlatch feast, which made everybody happy. During the treaty an Indian rode my best horse, which they had robbed me of the year before, into camp. This horse was returned to me, as was also one hundred in gold dust which an old Indian had saved. The balance of the gold dust, they said, they had thrown into a deep hole in the river, so this was all that I recovered. The Indians got about twenty thousand dollars from us the year before. The General, of course, was going on to California with his stock. After thinking the matter over the General got afraid that as soon as he separated from Quatley and his Indians that they would make a raid on the Rogue Rivers to get their horses, and in that way break the treaty. The General finally asked me to bring Quatley and his Indians back to the Willamette Valley, which I did, and I remained in Oregon the remainder of that season.
MY SECOND TRIP TO CALIFORNIA.The next February we got a party of twenty-seven men together and started for the Salmon and Scotts rivers in the northern part of California, where we intended to prospect for gold. We had to pass through the [region] inhabited by the same band of Indians with whom we had made the treaty the year before. We found them friendly and all right.
We traveled on until we came to the Big Shasta River in Shasta Valley, from which place we had to cross a high mountain range in order to get into the country we were headed for. We found the snow was so deep that we could not get over, and we had to remain where we were until the snow melted away.
We had been in camp about three weeks when we accidentally discovered Yreka on Saint Patrick's Day. There had been a very heavy thunder shower, and afterward one of the men went down to the little well which we had sunk to get water from. He happened to notice a small piece of gold which the rain had beaten the dirt from, so he went back to camp and got his tools and sunk a hole about four feet deep. He found bedrock at that depth and then it was three or four dollars to the pan as fast as he could wash them out. This all happened on the seventeenth day of March, 1851, and it turned out to be one of the best camps ever found in Northern California. We never would have found the gold except by accident. The country where this discovery was made was smooth and comparatively level and looked more like a farming country than like a gold mine.
General Lane and party had gone on to California and sold out their cattle. That same fall Scotts River was discovered, and there was a great stampede to that place. The General came back to Scotts River and wintered there, and when the snow went off from the range he came over to Yreka. This was the first time we had met since making the treaty with the Rogue River Indians. We were, of course, glad to see each other, and spent several days very pleasantly.
After a few days the General said to me, "Cy, I am going home to Oregon and run for Congress, and I cannot get away from here in time to announce my dates when I will meet the people of Oregon, and at what different places I will address them. I intend starting in the Umpqua Valley and will wind up at Oregon City. I want you to take my announcements and go on ahead of me. I wish you to deliver my papers to Col. Ford, Mr. Marion Goff, Henry Owens and Nesmith. Get them all together and then make the delivery."
I said, "General, you are foolish. There is not a man of the Pacific Coast who can beat Mr. Thurston for the office." Mr. Thurston was our first Congressman, and he was the man who got the bill through Congress donating to the settlers of Oregon three hundred and twenty acres of land each up to 1854. "Besides, you know that the Indians have broken the treaty and are very hostile, making it a very dangerous trip for one man all alone." He replied, "That is just the reason why I want you to go. You understand the Indians so well that you can go [where] others could not."
I finally told him, "All right. Get your papers ready, I will take them." I set out on my journey all alone. I did a good deal of my traveling at night and would never take any chances of making a regular camp. I went over the worst part of the road at night, and got through all right, and delivered the papers as directed.
It so happened that Mr. Thurston, who was on his return to Oregon, took the fever at Panama and died. This gave General Lane a clear field, and he was elected.
After I had delivered the papers for the General, I bought some pack mules and fitted up a small pack train, loaded it with bacon, flour, butter and green apples and went back to Yreka. I sold everything at a nice profit except the green apples. I only got two dollars and a half a pound for them. I went from Yreka to Scotts Bar and bought a claim from Judge Snelling, paying him one thousand dollars for it. After buying the claim I took Abel George in as a partner. We worked all summer and until late in the fall, stripping the ground twenty feet deep and did not get a cent. I then decided to go back to the Willamette Valley to spend the winter and persuaded a Mr. Abraham Way, who was from New York City, to accompany me. It was now late in October and the weather was very cold. The night we camped on what is known as Emigrant Creek near where Ashland is, the snow fell to a depth of about thirty inches, making it very difficult to travel. The snow was about the same depth all the way down through the Rogue River Valley, Umpqua and Willamette valleys, and all the way through to Portland. On the Calapooia Mountains the snow was about four feet deep. Mr. Way stayed in Portland all winter, and I spent the winter in Yamhill County.
Cyrenius Mulkey, "Eighty-One Years of Frontier Life," unpublished typescript written circa 1913, Oregon Historical Society Research Library Mss. 981, pages 32-45. Mulkey's 1849 account conforms to Meldrum's.
STOCK RAISING FOR SIX YEARS--AN INDIAN WAR.I lived on my ranch for six years, being engaged in the stock business, raising horses and cattle. During the six years I accumulated about five hundred and fifty head of cattle and about forty head of horses.
On the ninth day of October, 1855, all the Indians in that part of the country where I lived, and for a distance of about nine hundred miles, commenced hostilities on the same day. The different tribes which took part in the hostilities were the Rogue Rivers, Klamaths, Modocs, Dalles, Walla Walla, Cayuses, Snakes and the Shoshones. These tribes had all held a council of war during in the summer before and had decided to join all of their forces together and commence hostilities on the same day, which they did. They had discussed the matter at the time of the council, and had decided that if they all worked together in this way they could drive all the settlers out of the country and in that way keep it for themselves again. This war of the North and East, meaning the country east of the Cascade Mountains, was very unexpected by the settlers, and worked a great hardship on them, but the people of Southern Oregon suffered the worst. The Rogue River Indians killed a great many of the settlers--men, women and children. They also killed a great deal of the stock which belonged to the settlers, and then burned all of the houses except a few where the people had fortified themselves. The Indians also burned all of the grain and hay which the settlers had raised.
When the news of this outbreak was received at Eugene City, I proposed to my neighbor, a Mr. Joseph Bailey, that we get together a company of volunteers and go to the assistance of the settlers in the Rogue River Valley. Mr. Bailey agreed to do this, and the next day we went to Eugene City and announced our intention, and made a call for volunteers. We secured nineteen names that day, and on the third day we had increased the list to ninety-three men. We held an election and selected our officers, making Mr. Bailey captain and myself lieutenant. We had no transportation, so we did not wait to get any. We took our chances on getting something to eat with the settlers along the way, and when they did not have enough to feed us we killed anything we found from a chicken up to a steer. We did not make any regular camp until we reached Wolf Creek in the Rogue River Valley. All the way down through Cow Creek Canyon, before coming to Wolf Creek, we found houses, barns, hay and grain stacks still burning, and also found a great number of dead stock which had been killed by the Indians. Poultry of all kinds was scattered all through the woods. In a distance of fifteen miles we only found one residence that had escaped the fire. This place was Mr. Wagoner's home, where the neighbors had fortified themselves against the Indians. [Wagoner's house was burned and his family killed.] We went to Wolf Creek, which was a distance of about one hundred and sixty miles from Eugene, where we had started. This trip was made in four and a half days. When we arrived at Wolf Creek we found Captain Smith of the regular army in camp with about one hundred and fifty men. There were also two companies of volunteers from Southern Oregon. With these three companies and our company, which was Company A, we were about four hundred strong. When we reached Wolf Creek we learned that about five hundred Indians were encamped in a body about twenty miles from Wolf Creek on the high mountain range between Rogue River and Cow Creek. The scouts had located them three days before.
Major Bruce, who had taken command, called all the officers together, and after talking the matter over it was decided to make a forced march on foot, as the country was so rough that it was almost impossible to get a horse through it. We stayed in camp until after dark and then made a start for the Indians, going over about as rough and mountainous a country as there is in Oregon. We expected to make the Indians' camp before daylight, but the country was so rough that we did not reach their camping ground until about eight o'clock in the morning. On arriving at the place where we expected to find the Indians, we found that they were all gone, and the signs showed that they had been gone about two days. The next thing to find out was the direction in which they had started.
THE BATTLE OF HUNGRY HILL.Right there was where the officers made their great mistake. It was like this: When we arrived on the ground where we had expected to find the Indians, we all mixed up and went to hunting for the trail. There was not an officer who had ten men of his company under command. We all scattered in every direction, looking for the Indian trail. I took a look at the country and made up my mind which way they were the most likely to have gone, and then started in that direction, hunting for their trail. The whole army finally followed after me. I had six of my men with me, and were about a quarter of a mile in the lead of the main army. I was traveling up a sharp ridge between the deep canyons and had found the Indian trail where they had all come together.
Indians, in such cases as this, never leave their camp in a body, but scatter so as not to make any more signs than they can help. They know the country and have a certain place for all to get together again. I looked across the canyon to my left and saw the Indians on the next ridge. On an air line the ridge was about three-quarters of a mile distant, but we had to travel about three miles to get across the canyon. We passed the word back to the men and showed them where the Indians were. Then all hands made a run for the Indians, myself and party being in the lead. We were the first to reach them, and we opened the battle before we got within gunshot of their fortifications. There were about forty young bucks came out from their fortification and danced a war dance; as we advanced nearer to them they retreated just over a little "sugarloaf" mound and disappeared. This was done to deceive us, which it did. We went direct to where we had seen them last, which was within gunshot of their fortifications. The fortification was located in a very steep, heavily brushed canyon. The timber and brush were so thick you could not see an Indian or anything else in it.
At this place there was a kind of bench formed on the "backbone" of the mountain, and there were two creeks heading in this flat, one of which flowed in a southerly direction into Grave Creek and the other north into Cow Creek. The main fortification was right at the foot of the steep mountain and at the edge of the little flat, and a little way down the creek, which flowed north. When we got to where we had last seen the Indians, we, of course, looked around to see what had become of them. In less than a minute there was about twenty shots fired at us, and two of my men fell badly wounded. (One of them, John Gillespie, died in a few minutes. The other man got well.) In an instant after the shooting I told my men to take the wounded men out of sight of the Indians, and they only had to move them about twenty steps until they were entirely hidden from the Indians.
At this time up came the whole army, and they were in about the greatest state of confusion that I have ever seen a company of men in my whole life. Everybody for himself, and everybody howling, "Where are the Indians?" I showed them, and over into the brush and timber they went. However, they called a halt very soon after passing this little knoll, for the Indians opened fire on them as fast as they came in sight. There were between four and five hundred of the warriors behind their fortification. Our men soon found out how the Indians were situated, but it was impossible for a few men to run them out of their fortification. Then our men were so badly scattered that it was impossible to get enough of them together to charge the fortification. So the fight went on all day in the same way. Just as soon as I got my wounded men taken care of, I returned to the battleground. My other four men had already returned, so I went alone, but did not get right into the hard fighting. I could see from the smoke and the report from the Indians' guns about how they were located. I was hid in the brush and timber on a raise which was about five or six hundred feet above the battleground [Mulkey must mean five or six hundred feet away and higher in elevation] and could tell from the report of both the Indians' and our men's guns about what was going on. Occasionally I would see a man, but the brush and timber was so thick that I saw very few of either. I kept moving along until I had traveled the whole length of the battle line. I was taking observations and I do not think that anyone ever saw a battle fought at such a disadvantage as this one was. Here was four hundred of our men scattered all over the battleground in this thick woods, and every man for himself in the brush where they could not see each other, in many cases not more than twenty feet distant. What made it worse, they were shooting at every bush that happened to move by either Indian or white man, so you can see that in many cases our men were shooting at each other.
After taking in the situation as well as I could, I returned to where our dead and wounded were located. I found nineteen dead and wounded who had been carried off the battlefield while I had been away. I knew what should be done, but it was impossible for me to do it. You see that I did not know where a single one of the officers were except that they were on the battlefield, but there was not a one of them who had any control over his men. It was a singlehanded and everybody-for-himself fight. I could see that there was but one possible way to win the fight, and that was to call all of our forces off and collect them together as best we could, then make a general charge. Even then it [was] almost impossible to get them all together. The mountain was so steep, and the brush and timber so thick, that it was impossible to line the men up in shape to make a charge. I decided to make a trip to the opposite side of the mountain, which was the Rogue River side. As I have told you there were two small creeks heading near the Indians' fortification, one flowing north into Cow Creek and the other flowing south into Grave Creek, which was a tributary of the Rogue River. I took the Rogue River side and came to the creek, I should think, about two hundred and fifty yards below the Indians' fortification. I then crawled along up the creek through the brush until I was within a distance of about one hundred and fifty yards of where the Indians were. I was near enough so that I stole two of their horses. I could see a good many Indians and got a good view of the squaw, Sally Lane, who was commanding the battle. She was located upon the mountainside about six or seven hundred yards and out of range of our muzzle-loading rifles, and at an elevation of six or eight hundred feet above the battleground, and had the fortification between us and her. The place where she was stationed, on the mountainside, was not very busy, there being quite a space of open ground. The squaw was on horseback, and was giving directions to the Indians. Her position was such that she had a full view of both Indians and volunteers. I have never seen but one other person who had as powerful [a voice] as had Sally Lane, and that was her father, Chief Joseph Lane, who was the main council chief of the Rogue River Indians, the same people we were fighting. I could hear her at that distance just as clear and distinct as though we were very near her.
This is how she got the name of Sally Lane: In 1850 when General Joseph Lane made the first treaty with the Rogue River Indian tribe, in honor of General Lane, we christened her father "Joe Lane," and herself "Sally Lane." She was a large, stout woman, and had a voice like a man, only more so. I remained in hiding where I was for about one hour, I think, watching Sally and her warriors. While I was lying there hid in the brush, I discovered two horses near me. They had long ropes on, so I decided to take them to camp with me. I crawled up until I got hold of their ropes. I went out to the end of the ropes and pulled, moving the horses very slowly until they came close to me. I would then go out to the end of the rope and proceed as before. In this way I got out of danger. I then got one of the horses and led the other until I reached the place where our dead and wounded were. When I got there I found about thirty dead and wounded, who had been carried off from the battlefield.
About this time Captain Bailey came out of the brush with eighteen of our men who had got together, and he proposed to me that we go down below where the Indians were located on the Cow Creek side, and then follow up the creek to where they were, which would partially place us on the Indians' side of their fortification. I told Mr. Bailey that I had investigated that part of the battleground very carefully, and told him as nearly as I could just how the situation was. I also told him at this time that I did not think we could accomplish anything in that way, and that I felt sure we would lose some more of our men. However, he insisted and we went. We got within gunshot of the Indians without seeing them until they opened fire on us, and three of our men fell badly wounded. We grabbed up the wounded men and retreated back the way we had come, to where our dead and wounded were.
By this time it was growing late in the evening, and our men were all leaving the battleground and coming where we had left the dead and wounded. We had to retreat about a half mile into a very steep canyon where we could get water. About the time we were getting ready to start, some of the men who had come in from the battlefield told Captain Smith that there were three of his men who had been killed and were lying at a certain place yet uncared for, so Captain Smith detailed a corporal with six men to go and get them. The Indians did not pay any attention to them until they went to move the dead bodies, at which time they opened fire on the soldiers and wounded two of them. The other soldiers then grabbed up the wounded men and retreated back where we were. Captain Smith then detailed twelve men and sent them to get the bodies. They met with [the] same defeat, only they had three men wounded and one killed. The Captain then gave up trying to get his men and went into camp, leaving the dead on the battleground. Besides the three soldiers we left four volunteers dead on the battlefield. These seven men were left on that battleground for eight days before they were buried. I and Captain Bailey went back eight days afterwards and buried them all in one grave.
We went into camp with twenty-three dead and forty-odd wounded. The next morning at daylight the Indians attacked us in our camp and fought us until noon, but they soon found out that we had the best of it as we were hid in the brush and they were doing the moving, which gave us a great advantage over them. About noon they withdrew to their fortification where we had fought them the day before. We then buried our dead, made litters on which to carry our wounded and went to Wolf Creek, where we had left our supplies.
We buried twenty-seven men who were killed in this battle of "Hungry Hill." We named it Hungry Hill for the reason that we did not have a mouthful of food all the time we were there. Besides the twenty-seven men who were killed, we carried to our camp on Wolf Creek some forty-odd who had been wounded on the battlefield. There were five of these wounded men who died afterwards.
I have never seen a detailed account of this battle in print. Not even in the history of the Indian wars of Oregon, which only speak of it as the battle of Hungry Hill. I think that all of the officers were like myself ashamed to give the battle in detail. After resting up for two or three days I took eighteen of my men and patrolled the road from Wolf Creek to Hardy Elliff's road house, which was situated at the head of Cow Creek, a distance of eighteen miles. This patrol was to guard the Oregon and California travel from one stage station to another. I continued this until in December, at which time I got a dispatch from the quartermaster, I. N. Smith, asking me to come to Corvallis. Mr. Smith sent word that he wanted me in his office to act as purchasing agent for his department.
I left my command and went to Corvallis, and worked in the Quartermaster's Department until the war was closed in June. After the war was closed the Indians were all moved from this country to Grand Ronde Reservation in Yamhill County. I then returned to my ranch and remained on it until the summer of 1859. The cattle business got rather dull in Oregon, so I concluded to drive my cattle to California, close them out and quit the business.
ANOTHER TRIP TO CALIFORNIA.I drove the cattle to the Applegate River in the Rogue River Valley that summer, and went on to California the next spring. When I got to California I found that cattle had depreciated in value very much in that country as well as in Oregon. I then decided to hold my cattle until the next year, which was much worse. I held them two years and they got cheaper all the time, so finally I closed them out at about $5.00 per head. This broke me up in the cattle business. So I left the country. During that heavy drought there was no feed, and the stock was dying all over the country and cattle could not be sold for any price.
Cyrenius Mulkey, "Eighty-One Years of Frontier Life," unpublished typescript written circa 1913, Oregon Historical Society Research Library Mss. 981, pages 66-74
I want to tell you what it cost us to live in California during the early gold digging days in 1848, '49 and '50. I will give you our highest prices first. In some of the remote mountain camps we paid, during the winter months, as high as $3.00 a pound for flour, $3.00 for bacon, $3.00 for beans, $2.00 for rice, $3.00 for coffee, $2.00 for sugar cane (made at the Sandwich Islands), $16.00 for tobacco. Tea and all other provisions cost at the same rate, but this was in the camps which were located away back in the mountains, where they were snowed in for a great length of time each winter.
At that time we got all of our flour from Chile, and a great deal of it was full of weevils. These were different from grain weevils. They were a white worm about one inch in length with a body about the size of a small pencil, and having red or black heads. For this flour we paid at Fort Sutter in the Sacramento Valley a dollar a pound by the sack. For bacon one dollar, sugar one dollar, coffee one dollar, tea eight dollars, tobacco eight dollars, rice one dollar and all other provisions at the same rate. In order to get the weevils out of the flour, we made a sieve by punching holes in a tin pan, but sometimes we would just run our hands through the flour and pick the weevils out, but we could not get them all, and what we did not get out was cooked in the bread. When the bread was baked it put me in mind of the crackling bread that Mother used.
Cyrenius Mulkey, "Eighty-One Years of Frontier Life," unpublished typescript written circa 1913, Oregon Historical Society Research Library Mss. 981, page 122
Last revised September 14, 2017