Rogue River Indian War 1853
See also 1853 Jackson County News.
MORE TROUBLE WITH THE SHASTA INDIANS.--The Shasta Courier of Saturday is informed by a correspondent at Jacksonville that much excitement still exists in that vicinity against the Indians. There has been lately, he says, much interest manifested by the citizens of Jacksonville relative to the white woman supposed to be a prisoner among the Indians. It is believe that she has been detained among them since 1851. A party of 25 men some days since started out with the intention of recovering her if possible. They arrived at the Indian camp on Butte Creek, some 40 miles from Jacksonville, and on demanding the woman were shown an old squaw. The party then removed to the opposite side of the creek and camped for the night. On the morning following they were visited by eight or ten Indians, who were informed that unless they delivered up the woman at once they would be killed. At this the Indians became frightened and attempted to make their escape, when six or them were shot down and the others wounded. The party then returned to Rogue River for provisions. Some fifteen of them have again gone on the search, determined to risk their lives to rescue her from her horrible situation. These are the words of the writer. Whether there was sufficient in the conduct of the Indians who visited the camp to justify the shooting of the six who were slain, judging from this statement, we leave the reader to determine.
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, June 14, 1853, page 2 No captive white woman was ever recovered, or even identified. This vague rumor circulated for years.
An Indian called old Taylor, of Rogue River Valley, was hung lately for assisting in the murder of several white men.
"From Sacramento," Daily Dispatch, Richmond, Virginia, July 27, 1853, page 3
From Yreka--Fight with the Indians.
We learn from the Mountain Herald of the 30th ult. that the party that started from Yreka on the 20th ult., for the purpose of recovering stock stolen by the Indians, overhauled the thieves in a large and beautiful valley watered either by McCloud's or Pitt's river, about one hundred miles from Yreka. When the party first discovered the Indians they were trying the speed of their newly acquired property. The whites attacked them just at daylight, each man picking an Indian with his rifle, and then pitching into them promiscuously with their revolvers. About twenty or twenty-five were killed, only five of the band having escaped. The following are the names of the gentlemen composing the pursuing party, viz: Wm. Brown, Hiram Millett, John Campbell, James Mettlen, John Gephard, Henry Pierce, William White, William G. Hall, John Neilson and Zachariah Gibbs.
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, August 9, 1853, page 2
More Indian Depredations--Two Whites Murdered and One Wounded.
The Herald says: Mr. Luckey, who arrived in this place on Wednesday last, informs us that two white men were murdered by the lower Rogue River Indians, about four miles on this side of the Canyon. It appears that they attacked the house, leaving the dead bodies to be consumed by the flames. The Indians then proceeded to Mr. Evans' trading post at the mouth of [Evans] Creek, on Rogue River, attacked and drove the gentleman in charge of the same away, after wounding him, and destroying the whole property.
We understand that some excitement prevailed about the affair at Jacksonville and throughout that country, and that measures are being taken to chastise these savages.
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, August 9, 1853, page 2
The Mountain Herald of the 30th ult. has reached us through Adams & Co.'s Express. . . .
Two white men were murdered by the Lower Rogue River Indians. They first shot the men, then set fire to the house and left their bodies to be consumed by the flames.
"Siskiyou," Sacramento Daily Union, August 9, 1853, page 2
Indian Massacre--Further from the North.
The purser of the steamer Thomas Hunt, arrived yesterday from Crescent City, gives us the following additional intelligence and confirmation of the late Indian outrages in the North:
The Indians and whites have had an engagement in Rogue River Valley, near Jacksonville, and after fighting for over three hours the whites were compelled to retreat. Both parties suffered much loss.
Amongst those that were taken prisoners was Asa Colburn, of Jacksonville, who was butchered in a most horrible manner, his legs being cut off, his entrails taken out, and his body shockingly mutilated.
Reinforcements from all quarters have been sent to the aid of the whites. A company of some thirty left Crescent City on Sunday, the 21st inst., and the citizens are forming another to leave as soon as possible.
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, August 28, 1853, page 2
Within the last fortnight, difficulties of a serious nature have been fomented between the whites and the Indians of Rogue River Valley. The Indians of this territory appear to be capable of some organization and strategy, and, on the two occasions of the surprise of an advanced party in Elk Valley, and of the late engagement near Jacksonville, have repulsed the whites with considerable loss. Any alliance which they might effect with the Klamath and Shasta tribes would render them really formidable, in view of the evidences of their exasperation and our ignorance of their interior country and force. About three or four hundred whites are already in the field, are constantly receiving reinforcements from the settlements, and appear to be actuated by the most excited sentiments of revenge, on account of the ruthless massacres and depredations of these Indians.
With the particular facts that have originally called out this expedition of war we are not acquainted, and we should be mortified to have any proof of the surmise which we have heard, that its origin is a mere speculative and heartless attempt to repeat those politico-Indian wars which have been a burden to our treasury, and a disgrace to the literal humanity of our government. But, apart from any particular facts, we are well convinced that wars must be the continued moral relation between the white and the Indian, and that this is but the succession of the evidence of the incorrigible antipathy of the two races. Occasions of war, we admit, are most frequently taken by the whites without justification and by virtue of their own violence, while the Indians are sometimes the party to be exclusively blamed. The nomadic habits and idle necessities of the aborigines not unfrequently induce them to the outrages of our frontier, while the settler, with a base and cowardly sense of their unprotection, and in the malice of antipathy, often gives them cause for revenge and reprisal.
We sincerely trust that the present hostilities are not of that class where a few particular troubles, that would doubtless have soon subsided, or certainly would have been avenged with more discrimination and quietness, have been made occasions of warlike expeditions. We are, however, persuaded that the generality of the Indian depredations do not justify that indiscriminate and excessive punishment which attains no other end than the gratification of passion, and tends eventually to multiply and enlarge our Indian troubles.
The present difficulties in the North were considered so exigent that Gen. Hitchcock, we learn, has seen proper, without any official information of the state of affairs, but from the reports in the newspapers, and from having seen in a letter from Crescent City, published yesterday, notice of official dispatches having been forwarded to him, requiring assistance, to order sixty men from the Benicia Barracks to be held in readiness to embark for Fort Reading and reinforce the command at that post. These are all the available men at present to be had from the U.S. troops in this territory, though if troubles should continue, other posts will doubtless contribute a few men each to the force in the field. The above detachment will take with them all the arms to be spared, and about two hundred extra rounds of ammunition. They will be conveyed to the seat of difficulty in a day or two.
We cannot suppress a suspicion that, although there may be an inception of a serious war on the Rogue River, that the accounts from the North are to be received with some grains of allowance. Some of the Indians of that region, whom we know to be the most abjectly spiritless and cowardly of the human form, are represented to be uniting in coalitions which we know they do not dare even to contemplate. It can easily be imagined that the situation of affairs is naturally liable to the exaggeration of fear and misconception.
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, August 29, 1853, page 2
Letter from Rogue River ValleyWe published a day or two ago an account of the outbreak of the Indians in Rogue River Valley, derived from an extra of the Mountain Herald dated the 7th inst. We find in the Shasta Courier additional particulars of the outbreak from a second extra of the Herald, dated at 5 o'clock a.m. of the 9th inst. The following petition was brought by Mr. Wilson, who resides near Willow Springs:
Three More Persons Killed--March of the U.S. Soldiers and Volunteers to the Valley.
Fort Wagner, Aug. 8, 5 p.m.The citizens of Rogue River Valley ask the citizens of Yreka, in the name of humanity, to assist in subjugating the Indians of this valley, who are daily and nightly murdering our citizens and killing our stock. Between 400 and 500 Indians are in the vicinity of Table Rock. The citizens are not sufficient in numbers to guard the different points at which the families have collected, and go to fight them. We are poorly armed, and ask your assistance in men and arms.
Three men, Messrs. Dunn, Griffin and Overbeck, were killed on the 7th, near Willow Springs, besides Messrs. Nolan and Wills, whose deaths had been previously reported.
On the 8th, at 2 o'clock, the Indians had attacked two houses--Mr. Miller's and Mr. Stone's. Mr. Wilson had not heard the consequences when he left. All the inhabitants were gathering together at Wagner's and were about building a block fort for protection. Most of the families in the neighborhood were at Wagner's, Hoxie's and McCall's, ten miles south of Jacksonville. The main body of the Indians were encamped at and about Table Rock. Their chief had sworn to have the valley back or die in the attempt.
A company consisting of about 15 U.S. soldiers from Fort Jones, and twenty or thirty volunteers from Yreka and Greenhorn, well supplied with arms and ammunition, left Yreka on the 8th for the scene of action, and another company of much greater numbers was to have left on the 9th. The whole country was in a state of excitement. The people have gathered together at various points for protection. The Herald says: "Let this be our last difficulty with the Indians in this part of the country. They have commenced the work of their own accord, and without just cause. Let our motto be extermination, and death to all opposition, white men or Indians."
Herald of Freedom, Wilmington, Ohio, September 23, 1853, page 2
We have received, through Adams & Co.'s Express, another extra from the office of the Yreka Herald, dated August 9th, detailing further murders by the Indians.
Mr. Wilson arrived, bringing a petition from citizens of Rogue River Valley, calling upon the people of Yreka for aid.
Mr. Wilson says five men, Messrs. Dunn, Griffin, Wills, Overbeck and Noland, were killed on the 7th, near Willow Springs. Mr. Noland was shot dead while eating breakfast.
Yesterday at 2 o'clock the Indians had attacked two houses, Mr. Miller's and Mr. Stone's. Mr. Wilson had not heard the consequences when he left. . . .
The main body of the Indians are encamped at and about Table Rock. Many mules, horses and stock of all descriptions have been killed about Jacksonville and Willow Springs.
Mr. Wilson got 11 revolvers, navy size, and ammunition, and left this morning at 4 o'clock; he says that he has two mules at every station on the road for changes, and will reach home in five hours.
He met the company that left here yesterday evening, on the other side of the Klamath; they will not stop until they reach the scene of action.
The company consists of about 15 soldiers from Fort Jones and twenty or thirty volunteers from this place and Greenhorn, with a good supply of muskets, ammunition &c.
Another large company of volunteers will leave this place today.
Esquire Steele has an order to hire all the horses and mules he can procure, for which will be paid $4 per day by Uncle Sam.
The Herald concludes its article as follows:
It behooves every person to be on their guard throughout the valley. We do not know what moment they will commence here. No person should travel alone without being well armed. We learn from Messrs. Morton and Garland, who arrived here from Shasta Butte this morning at half past two o'clock, that last night they saw the signal fires of the Indians high upon the side of the Butte, which is no doubt their signals to the Pit Rivers and Modocs to join them and commence in this valley.
"Siskiyou," Sacramento Daily Union, August 15, 1853, page 3
The Rogue River Indians have commenced war upon the whites. The Mountain Herald says:
"It is believed beyond a doubt that the Rogue River, Cow Creek, Grave Creek, Applegate Creek, Umpqua, Shasta and Klamath Indians, and probably the Pit Rivers and also the Indians about the Klamath and other lakes, have united and declared an open and general war against the whites."
The Indians have killed ten or twelve whites. Among them are Thos. Wills, R. Nolan and Messrs. Overbeck, Dunn, Griffin [B. B. Griffin survived] and Edwards. These were killed on the 7th inst. near Willow Springs.
The Indians attacked the houses of Messrs. Miller and Stone on the 8th, but the result was not known.
The old chief declares that he will fight to the death for the valley.
Twenty or thirty volunteers and fifteen soldiers left Yreka on the 8th, for the valley.
The Herald and the Courier both demand a war of extermination, "death to all opposition, white men or Indians."
"Shasta News," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, August 15, 1853, page 2
The Indian outbreaks in the Rogue River Valley, in the north, are becoming serious and threatening. It is not improbable that general hostilities will be the consequence in that part of the state and the southern part of Oregon. The existing troubles, like those that have arisen from time to time in other sections of the state, most probably had their origin in the outrages which some of the more reckless and unprincipled of the white population take so much pleasure in inflicting upon the weak and defenseless, whether civilized or savage. The peaceable and industrious citizens have now to bear the vindictive hostility of the savages, who recognize no distinction between friend and foe among the "pale faces." We fear that a bloody and protracted war will ensue, the frontier citizens defending their lives and their homes, while the unprincipled wretches who kindled the flame are in safety in the less exposed districts. The parties who made such a handsome speculation by the El Dorado and Mariposa wars a few years since, and who came so near making a similar speculation on the pretended war in the south, are on the alert to make something out of the Rogue River troubles. Arrangements are in process of formation for the creation of a debt to be assumed by the state to the amount of between one million and fifteen hundred thousand dollars, of which, of course, the projectors will receive about three-fourths. But as there is a reality in the hostilities, and some actual fighting to be done, the speculators will be a little chary of embarking in the enterprise. In the meantime, Gen. Hitchcock is taking measures for rendering all the protection to the northern frontier that the disposable force under his command will allow.
"From California," The Commercial, Buffalo, New York, September 27, 1853, page 2
Indian Hostilities at Rogue River.
Hon. J. R. Hardin and Dr. Rose Killed!
DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY!
INDIANS WELL SUPPLIED.
The Whites Unprepared!!
From Mr. Ettlinger, formerly of this place, who arrived four days from Jacksonville, we learn that several tribes of Indians have united--determined to exterminate the whites. Some 15 or 20 men had been killed--principally waylaid, and shot--among which we lament to learn were our friends Hon John R. Hardin and Dr. Rose. They were both killed at the same time--having been waylaid in the evening. Our informant was but a short distance from them when they were shot. Dr. Rose was killed instantly--Hardin was shot through the groins, and lived twelve hours after. Thos. Wills, a merchant at Jacksonville, was killed. The greatest alarm prevailed--families were moving into Jacksonville for safety, and the Indians were burning and otherwise destroying all they could find.More Whites Killed by the Indians in Rogue River Valley!
The Indians are well supplied with arms--the whites having unguardedly sold them a large supply of arms and ammunition, and are short of supplies. The Rogue River, Smith River, Klamath, Shasta and Snake Indians have all combined--and have been threatening for some time--though nothing serious was at the time thought.
The Indians are strongly fortified at Table Rock, with a force of 300 warriors, and have a year's supply of provisions. Mr. Ettlinger procured one field piece, and some 150 stand of arms, at Fort Vancouver. Capt. Lamerick has a company of 50 men in the field, and Capt. Ben Wright, who chastised the Indians last fall in California, was expected in with a company from Yreka. The whites are now determined to exterminate the Indians in that vicinity, and they shoot all that they see.
Judge McF. Patton, formerly of Salem, was shot at by the Indians--one ball went through his hat, one through his coat, and another grazed his nose. He was not hurt. Nothing was being done in the mines.
Mr. Ettlinger called on Gen. Lane in the night--and in less than an hour the "Marion of the Mexican War" was on his way to the scene of trouble. He thought he would be able to raise a company to go with him. He is capable of doing Oregon good service, and his services are given for her good. Mr. Curry, Acting Governor, acted very promptly in the matter, by making requisitions for munitions of war on Fort Vancouver.
P.S.--Since the above was set in type a rumor has reached us that Judge Skinner has been killed by the Indians. [He was not.]
Oregon Weekly Times, Portland, August 27, 1853, page 2
A General Outbreak!
Again it is our painful duty to record the cold-blooded murder of our fellow citizens in Rogue River Valley. On Thursday last a young man by the name of Edwards was brutally murdered within three miles of the Indian agency. After the red assassins had shot him, they mutilated his body in a horrible manner with an ax. On Friday night, Mr. Thomas Wills, a highly respected merchant of Jacksonville, while returning from Mr. Wagoner's ranch, half a mile north of the town, was shot by an Indian from behind a tree, about ten yards from the road. Mr. Wills' wound is considered mortal. The sudden manner in which the Indians pounced upon him did not allow him time for defense. On the same evening, Mr. Davis' house, about two miles from town, was robbed of a gun &c. Mr. Davis and Mr. Griffin, his neighbor, attempted to recover the stolen property from the rancheria. Mr. Griffin was shot through the point of the shoulder, and Mr. Davis through the thigh, both arrow wounds. They burned several haystacks the same day, and several men were shot at different places throughout the valley.
Several men are missing at different places--not known whether they are killed or not.
On Saturday morning, August 6.--Mr. R. Noland, a miner, being about one mile from Jacksonville, was shot through the body and killed by some Indians who crept up near his cabin in the bushes. Several other whites were in the cabin at the same time.
Business in the valley has ceased. The miners are farmers are collecting together at different points in the valley for protection.
It is believed beyond a doubt that Rogue River, Cow Creek, Grave Creek, Applegate Creek, Umpqua, Shasta and Klamath Indians, and probably the Pit Rivers and also the Indians about the Klamath and other lakes, have united and declared an open and general war against the whites.
We are indebted for the above information to Mr. Ish and Mr. Davis, who arrived here this morning. They bring a petition to the officer in command at Fort Jones in Scott Valley, signed by a majority of the most respectable citizens of Rogue River Valley, for such aid, either in troops or arms, as can be procured. We understand there are but few troops at the fort, but that they will be able to procure arms and ammunition.
As our informants came up the valley they learned that a battle had just come off near the Mountain House. They killed, they supposed, five or six Indians. Mr. Carter had his arm fractured by a rifle ball, and also received an arrow wound in the shoulder. Mr. Dunn was wounded in the shoulder by an arrow.
Now that general Indian hostilities have commenced, we hope that the government will render such aid as will enable the citizens of the North to carry on a war of extermination until the last redskin of these tribes has been killed. Then, and not till then, is our lives and property safe. Extermination is no longer even a question of time--the time has already arrived, and work commenced, and let the first white man who says treaty or peace be regarded as a traitor and coward.--Yreka Herald, August 7, 1853.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, August 30, 1853, page 2
Indian War in Rogue River
Threatened Extermination of the Whites in that Quarter--
Several Hundred Indians in Arms--John R. Hardin, Dr. Rose and Several Others Killed--
Dwellings Burned, Stock Killed, and Property Destroyed.
Mr. S. Ettlinger arrived in this place Friday night, four days from Jacksonville, bringing accounts of the general uprising of the Indians of that quarter with the avowed determination to exterminate the whites and regain possession of the country. Several persons have been killed, and others wounded, many dwellings burned, a large quantity of stock killed, and other property destroyed. Among the persons killed are John R. Hardin, last year Representative from Jackson County, and Dr. Rose, generally known to the citizens of this valley. Mr. Ettlinger was formerly engaged in business in Portland, and is well known to the people of this part of Oregon as an entirely reliable gentleman.
He was sent through for aid and has now gone to Fort Vancouver for arms and ammunition. He expects to be here today with two field pieces and such small arms and ammunition as he can procure. He brings letters from Capt. Alden, of Fort Jones, Scotts Valley, now commanding the volunteer forces in Rogue River, Gen. Lane, and others. From Mr. Ettlinger we obtain the following full particulars:
On the 8th inst., Mr. Edwards was murdered in his cabin, four miles from Jacksonville, by the Indians, and this act was followed by general demonstrations of hostility. On the 12th, a small party of men, commanded by Capt. Griffin, were attacked on Applegate Creek by 200 or 300 Indians lying in ambush. After endeavoring for a short time to maintain the unequal contest, Capt. Griffin and his party retreated, with the loss of one man killed and two wounded. They fired upon the Indians in their hiding places, but were unable to see whether with effect or not.
A dispatch was immediately sent to Capt. Alden, commanding at Fort Jones, Scotts Valley, for aid. He hastened to their relief with ten men (U.S. troops), 50 stand of arms, and 600 rounds of cartridges. A considerable number of volunteers have been raised, and placed under the command of Capt. Alden. They are at present encamped near Willow Springs.
The miners who can raise arms and ammunition have gone out hunting Indians. Capt. Lamerick, distinguished informer difficulties, has a company of 10 men.
The Indians are well armed, and have plenty of ammunition. They have long been trading with the miners and emigrants for rifles, muskets, pistols, powder, lead &c. Some 300 or 400 of them are at Table Rock, where young Stuart was killed two years since. They have good natural fortification there, and besides have dug a ditch and constructed a wall of earth and rock. They are headed by "Sam," "Joe" and "Jim," who declare they will fight there till the last Indian is dead, if they are not victorious.
Arms and ammunition are wanted to drive them from this place, and to scour the whole country. The people there now demand an extermination of the hostile Indians, and are resolved not to stop short of it. Indians are shot down wherever they are found. Martin Angel, late of Oregon City, shot one from his door the day Mr. E. left. He says he saw not less than ten or twelve bodies of Indians lying by the side of the road leading from Jacksonville north.
The Indians keep themselves secreted as much as possible, and are never seen in large parties. They lie in ambush, and issue out to attack and murder small parties of whites, burn undefended dwellings, kill stock, destroy crops and other property. It is said the Klamath, Snake, Shasta, Rogue River and Smith River Indians have united for the avowed purpose of exterminating the whites.
The whites stand greatly in need of arms and ammunition. Many of their muskets are required to defend dwellings and families. As soon as a dwelling is left unprotected it is burned and its inmates, if any, murdered. Ten houses were burned between Jacksonville and the Fort [Fort Dardanelles], a distance of ten miles, the night before Mr. Ettlinger left. Many of the families have moved in to Jacksonville.
From 15 to 20 whites had been killed and wounded when Mr. E. left. Mr. Thomas Wills, of the firm of Wills, Kyle & Co., merchants of Jacksonville, was shot just in the edge of the town. A miner by the name of Noland was killed. These, with Jno. R. Hardin and Dr. Rose, are the only names of the killed we can learn.
Hardin and Rose were killed as follows: They belonged to a company of volunteers which had been camped at Willow Springs; towards evening about a dozen of them started for the Fort. Hardin, Rose and one other man were riding by themselves, while T'Vault and the rest of the party had taken another road. About a mile from the Fort, the three were fired on by Indians in ambush, and Rose instantly killed and Hardin shot through the hips with a rifle ball. The third man was not wounded. Hardin kept his horse until the rest of the party, who heard the crack of the rifles, come up, and lived 11 hours, suffering the most intense agony. No Indians were seen by him. The party come in for help, and returning found Dr. Rose's body stripped, his throat cut in two places, one eye gouged out and his person horribly disfigured. He had about 600 dollars, which with his horse was stolen.
Mr. Ettlinger and others went to the camp for assistance the night Hardin and Rose were killed. He says the timber for eight or nine miles was fired along the road, so that it was as light as day. The Indians were secreted behind the burning timber, and occasionally discharged a shower of arrows at them, but hit no one.
Mr. Ettlinger has an order from Capt. Alden for two field pieces, and such small arms and ammunition as can be spared from Fort Vancouver. He says they have men enough, but want arms. Mining is entirely suspended.
A white man named Brown fired on one of "Jim's" Indians (supposed to be a son of that chief), whom he found upon the road alone, and scalped him. The Indian underwent the operation of scalping without flinching or exhibiting signs of life, and was left for dead. But Brown had not got out of sight with his scalp before Mr. Indian jumped up and traveled, having been stunned or playing possum--it was supposed the latter.
T. McF. Patton, late of Salem, was hit in the hat and lapel of his coat, by balls, but not hurt.
Three white men were arrested on Applegate Creek and brought into headquarters charged with furnishing the Indians arms and ammunition for the purpose of attack upon the whites. Three men living with squaws were also brought in charged with furnishing the Indians arms and instructions. They were to be tried soon after Mr. Ettlinger left.
Upon being informed of the difficulties by Mr. E., Gen. Lane instantly resolved to go, and in five minutes was making preparation. He raised a company of about 50 men, and is probably now in Rogue River.
James Clugage came as far as Umpqua with Mr. E. for the purpose of getting the Klickitat Indians to go out and fight the others. It was not decided whether they would go or not.
Mr. E. left the Calapooia Mountains Friday morning, and rode one horse to Salem, a distance of 80 miles, arriving here a little after 5 o'clock the same day. He complains that the people along the road would not furnish him a fresh horse.
The following letter was addressed to acting Gov. Curry:
Headquarters, Commissioners' Office,To his excellency, the Governor of Oregon:
Jacksonville, Aug. 14, 1853.
At a meeting of the board of commissioners, I am instructed to inform you that war exists between us and the Indians of this valley, who are (as we are informed) in league with the Indians of Klamath Lake, Snake River and Shasta Indians, for the purpose, as they affirm, of the extermination of the whites of the Rogue River Valley. They have already killed and wounded several of our citizens, killed our cattle and destroyed our dwellings.
Capt. B. R. Alden, of the 4th U.S. Infantry, from Fort Jones, Scotts Valley, with a small detachment is here by request. Enrolled two companies of volunteers, and in obedience to the wish of our citizens he takes the command. And now a considerable division is encamped on Applegate Creek, where we daily expect an engagement. Another division to reconnoiter and hold in check a large party of the Indians in a camp near Table Rock, with a small party to protect our town. We would request your excellency to procure from Fort Vancouver one small howitzer, together with some small arms, and enroll a sufficient detachment of men to guard them through. These requisitions we hope you will send at once to Capt. B. R. Alden, who is in command with 200 volunteers.
With the greatest respect, yours,
Sec., Board of Commissioners.
EDWARD SHEIL, President.
On the back of the letter was the following:
"I would consider it very requisite that a howitzer with ammunition, fifty muskets and some 3000 rounds of ammunition be sent to the valley.
"B. R. ALDEN,
"Capt. 4th Infantry."
By Mr. Ettlinger we receive the following note from Gen. Lane:
Winchester, Aug. 17, 1853.Oregon Statesman, Salem, August 23, 1853, page 2
Dear Bush:--At 1 o'clock this morning I received by express per Mt. Ettlinger a letter from Rogue River, confirming the news which recently reached us of war with the Indians in that vicinity, of a more serious character than any heretofore with the tribes of that quarter. Dr. Rose, Jno. R. Hardin and several others have been killed, and a large amount of property destroyed.
It is believed that the Klamath, Shasta and Rogue River tribes have united, determined to destroy the settlements, Jacksonville and all. They are, it seems, well armed, having purchased many good rifles from the miners; they have also a good supply of ammunition, consequently they are formidable. The whites on the contrary are scarce of arms and ammunition. I shall be off for the scene of troubles in a few minutes.
In great haste, your ob't. serv't.
Latest from the Seat of War
Table Rock Abandoned by the Indians;
Pursuit of Them by a Large Party of Whites, and Probable Battle.
A Mr. Romaine arrived here Friday evening, eight days from Jacksonville. He states that the Indians were still engaged in active hostilities, murdering citizens, burning dwellings and destroying property. But two houses are standing between Jacksonville and Rogue River--T'Vault's and one other, the last of which was approached by the Indians the night before he passed. But its inmates were too well armed, and they made no assault.
He says about three days before he left the chief "Sam" came out into the valley with his men, from Table Rock, and challenged the whites to give him battle. A considerable party under Capt. Alden was out from camp to meet him, but he was not on hand, according to agreement. Table Rock had been entirely abandoned, not an Indian being found there. Their trail showed that a large force had been collected there. Capt. Alden was of opinion that it was useless to follow them, and prepared to return to camp. A Mr. Goodall thought otherwise, and was anxious to give them a chase. He said he would pursue them if 25 men would join him; some 60 stepped out of the ranks, from which he selected 25, and immediately started out upon the trail. A few miles out they came up with the Indians, and were suddenly surrounded by 600 or 800 of them. The whites took refuge in a patch of timber and bushes, around which were the Indians in open field, but beyond the reach of rifle shot. Capt. Goodall's party having the advantage of the cover afforded by the timber and brush, the Indians were afraid to attack them, but kept them surrounded, with the intention, as was supposed, of starving them out. Two of the party of whites made their way through the Indian lines without being observed and came into Jacksonville for reinforcements, and the day before Mr. Romaine left, Capt. Alden, with 250 volunteers, went in pursuit of the Indians, and [it] was supposed an engagement took place.
A white man who has a squaw wife, and lived among the Indians, says he has seen the chief "Sam" parade 100 men armed with first-class rifles and Colt's revolvers.
Mr. R. discredits the report of Skinner's and O'Reilly's death, as he heard nothing of it at Jacksonville.
Oregon Statesman, Salem, August 30, 1853, page 2
Jacksonville, Aug. 6, 1853.
Friend Bush:--I presume some intelligence from the south at the present time would be read with interest. You have already chronicled the outrages lately committed south of the canyon, but those which have been committed within the past few days have no parallel in the history of Oregon (in the southern portion at least). On Thursday night, at a late hour, Dr. A. B. Overbeck, coroner of this county, was called upon to hold an inquest over the body of Richard Edwards, who was found dead at his own door, about five miles from this place. A jury of twelve men was duly summoned and upon investigation found that he had been shot near the center of the spine, and that his head was nearly severed in twain with an ax, also an attempt was made to cut his throat with a dull knife.
The verdict of the jury was that he came to death by violence, and that violence was used by Indians.
Resolutions were then passed expressing their feeling towards the outrage, and calling for a meeting of the citizens of the valley at the "Robinson House," the proceedings of which accompanies this communication. Upon looking around a yoke of cattle were discovered dead in the vicinity, belonging to Mr. Miller. On the same day the house of Wm. Kahler was entered and rifled of its contents. On the following morning, the cabin of Mr. Davis was broken open and robbed, and in the evening of the same day, Burrell B. Griffin (our senior county commissioner) and Mr. Davis were fired upon by the Indians and wounded with arrows. The former in the shoulder and the latter in the thigh. About 9 o'clock in the night of the same day a report of a gun was heard and the cry of murder accompanying. Several of our citizens armed themselves and ran to the rescue. Upon arriving at the spot, Thomas J. Wills, merchant of this place, was found shot through the lower part of the body with an ounce ball. Mr. Wills had been out in the country and was returning when attacked and wounded. A guard was chosen and stationed around the town and since that time has been guarded well. On Saturday, Mr. Rhodes Noland was shot dead in his cabin door within a mile of town. The citizens who had been previously preparing for a skirmish, upon receiving intelligence of his murder, immediately started out and in a short time returned with a captive "siwash tyee" ["Indian chief"], who was mustered to an oak tree and there "strung up." During the day three others were hung beside the tyee.
On Sunday morning at a very early hour, intelligence was received from the upper end of the valley that the settlers had had a skirmish with the Indians and that Andrew B. Carter (formerly of Salem) and Patrick Dunn had been wounded. The former had his right arm broken below the elbow, and the latter was maimed in the left shoulder. This news created greater excitement still, and skirmishing parties started out in all directions.
Having a desire to visit my friends, Carter and Dunn, and to make arrangements to have them brought to town for surgical treatment, I started out with the party that intended to skirmish that portion of the valley. By some means or other Dr. A. B. Overbeck and myself became separated from the main party and continued traveling by ourselves until we arrived at the residence of Mr. Carter. As soon as possible we started on our return, and after traveling until within a mile and a half of town without meeting any opposition, we came to an open prairie, and when least expecting an attack were fired upon by three Indians concealed in the grass, within fifty feet of the roadside. The first shot fired by the red devils grazed my "smeller" about one-eighth of an inch below my "peepers." I felt the sting as well as the shock, and placing my hand on that very prominent feature of my phiz, and finding it actually thar, I thought a "miss was as good as a mile," and "a fool for luck the world over." After firing a random shot we made for town at no snail's gait, and in a short time was hailed by the guard and allowed to pass.
After examining my person, I found that one of the balls had passed through my hat crown within half an inch of my head, and the third remaining ball had passed through the lapel of my flannel overshirt.
This convinced me more and more of the old saying "that luck was everything."
I can now speak of my escape rather lightly, but I will frankly confess that I considered it rather scary times, and times when it was absolutely necessary to make myself scarce, provided he considered his scalp worth saving. Now, in regard to the justification of the settlers in killing these Indians wherever they may be found, I will say but one word. There are some who have some doubts as to whether the Rogue River Indians have committed any of the depredations already mentioned. Tyee "Sam" and his Bro. "Joe" have fortified themselves back of Table Rock, and collected upwards of three hundred Indians. Indians have been pursued directly to the camp of these tyees, in the rear of Table Rock, and if they will harbor Indians, who have been through the valley murdering and plundering everything in their course, they must suffer the consequences. If we do not make a clean sweep of them and exterminate every one capable of bearing arms, we will be molested every summer until either the whites or "siwashes" are conquered. They have commenced hostilities--have been preparing for an attack for the last six weeks and are bound to murder every white settler in the valley, provided they can. Some say a treaty had better be made! Well, I am in for a treaty too, but I propose making a treaty with them by means of powder and ball, and I am confident that this is the opinion of almost every citizen in Rogue River Valley. The families throughout the valley have all been collected, and a great many came to town. Those families on lower Rogue River have congregated at Fort Dardanelles (Wm. T'Vault's), also at N. C. Dean's, Willow Springs, at Martin Angel's and Jacob Wagner's. Each of these places are well guarded. A petition was drawn up and signed by over a hundred citizens, requesting Capt. William Alden, commander of Fort Jones, in Scotts Valley, California, to furnish such arms and ammunition as could be spared. This petition was forwarded to Capt. Alden, by a special express, and the prayer of that petition has been granted, and the presence of Capt. Alden himself, together with twelve regulars.
Our express carriers (Messrs. Ish and Davis) report that over a hundred citizens of Yreka and vicinity, well mounted and armed, volunteered and may be expected this evening. This reinforcement will help us considerable.
A company has been duly organized and following officers duly elected and commissioned in accordance with the resolution passed at the mass meeting. John E. Ross, Esq., was unanimously elected commander of all the forces:
Company A.--Benj. Armstrong, Capt.; John F. Miller, 1st Lieutenant; B. B. Griffin, 2nd Lieutenant; A. George, 3rd Lieutenant; T. McF. Patton, Orderly Sergeant; C. S. Drew, Quartermaster.
Other companies have been duly organized and will proceed at once to stir "Injuns up," and "memaloose ["kill"] him." I will inform you, or cause it to be done by every opportunity.
Yours in haste.
T. McF. Patton.
Oregon Statesman, Salem, August 30, 1853, page 2
Indian Massacres in Rogue River Valley--
A War of Extermination Begun.
The following dispatch from the office of the Mountain Herald, Downieville, was received among our Sacramento exchanges by Adams & Co. last evening:
To Mr. J. Rogers, of Cram, Rogers & Co.'s Express, we are indebted for the following letter from our friend C. S. Drew, which we publish for the benefit of our readers:
On the evening of the 11th inst., Dr. William R. Rose and John R. Hardin, while on their way to Dr. Ambrose's, from Capt. Alden's encampment on Stuart Creek [Bear Creek], were waylaid by the Indians, and the former instantly killed and the latter dangerously, if not mortally, wounded. Dr. Rose was horribly mutilated, being found the next morning with his eyes dug out and nose cut off. The Indians captured his rifle, revolver and clothing, together with six hundred dollars in cash. On the same day George Anderson was badly wounded on upper Applegate in a skirmish with about thirty Indians. The company were under command of Lt. B. B. Griffin. On the 12th Lt. Griffin made an attack upon the Indians on lower Applegate but was compelled to retreat, with the loss of one man (Frank Garrett) and himself shot in the leg. In the afternoon a reinforcement was sent from Capt. Alden's command, and at two o'clock this morning, upon receipt of the news of Lt. Griffin's defeat, another detachment was sent, and at this present moment a portion of the Humbug volunteers are mounted, awaiting orders to march to the scene of battle.
The Indian chief John, on lower Applegate, says that he is backed by the Shasta tribe, and it is known that a large number of the Klamaths are also with him, together with a certain Dr. Osmond, professing to be a white man. He is known to have furnished the Indians with ammunition since hostilities have commenced.
Too much praise cannot be awarded to Col. Alden, and the Yreka volunteers under Capt. J. P. Goodall, and to the Humbug volunteers under Capt. Rhodes, for their promptness and perseverance in this emergency.
We make the following extracts from a letter received by Mr. F. Rogers, from R. Dugan, Esq., dated Jacksonville, Aug. 13th:
"There is now over 300 men mustered into the service under the command of Capt. Alden of the U.S.A., who is appointed colonel commanding, assisted by Col. John Ross. The captains are J. K. Lamerick, Mr. Miller and Capt. Goodall from Yreka. Capt. S. Drew is quartermaster; commissioners on military affairs are Dr. Ed Sheil, Geo. Dart, Mr. Davis and myself.
"The Indians have burned down the houses of Mr. Patrick, Capt. Jones, and also that of Mr. Anderson, together with his hay and oats. Night before last they burned Mr. Griffin's house and some haystacks; they also shot some of Mr. Griffin's fine American horses. Mr. Bruce had four of his mules shot. There is a great deal of stock killed and driven off.
"It is reported that Griffin was attacked by 150 Indians. It is believed that there is white men engaged with them. Griffin took two white men prisoners, and several more are suspected.
"Citizens are arming in all directions to march against the Indians and scatter them or exterminate them wherever they can be found."
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, August 21, 1853, page 2
Jacksonville, Oregon, August 20th, 1853To the Adjt. Genl. of the Army, Washington, D.C.
Sir: I have to report that on the 7th inst. I recd. at Fort Jones, Scotts Valley, a petition from the principal inhabitants of Rogue River Valley, Oregon, representing that an Indian war had broken out in the valley--several houses burnt, and six citizens shot by the Indians--that the whole valley was in alarm--that the Rogue River and other tribes had combined, numbering over 200 warriors. This petition declared that there were more than fifty citizens in the valley without arms and urged me to furnish a supply of muskets and soldiers. The next day I enrolled for the war a company of 80 mounted volunteers in Yreka and with 9 men and 30 muskets of my company reached Jacksonville the 9th, where I enrolled three companies of mounted volunteers, number 120 men. Perceiving that the petition did not exaggerate the dangerous state of affairs, I took command of the volunteers and prepared to attack a large body of Indians posted near Table Rock. This movement was frustrated by a report of the approach of the enemy into the valley. The troops scattered to protect their homes. When gathered to make the 2nd attack, the enemy had left their position. A scouting party of 20 met some sixty Applegate Indians the 12th and were obliged to return. When reinforcements arrived, these Indians had retreated. On the 17th a scouting party of 25 men met the main body of the Rogue River Indians on Evans Creek, 15 miles from Table Rock. They stood their ground for three hours, when reinforcements arrived to their rescue.
This scouting party had three men wounded and five killed and lost 20 mules. The loss of the Indians is supposed to be six killed. This affair resulted only in the rescue of the scouting party. The enemy does not now appear in the valley and unfortunately have retired to the mountains.
Many men are quitting the valley. Fifty men with arms left the valley yesterday. Many of the volunteers have also gone to their homes. Under these circumstances I have sent to Columbia Bks. for a howitzer and fifty muskets. The Board of Military Commissioners have called on the the Governor of Oregon for the enrollment of 100 Klickitat Indians. The road leading here might easily be waylaid by a band of Indians to cut off supplies. I have communicated with the Governor of Oregon and with Headquarters, Pac. Div., Cal., through Col. G. Wright, 4th Infy. comdg. North Dis., Cal.
I am sir very respectfullyJack Sutton, Indian Wars of the Rogue River, 1969, pages 84-85
Yr. obt. servt.
B. R. Alden
Capt. 4th Infy. Commanding
An Indian Battle Fought!
To Mr. G. C. Lusk, the prompt and indefatigable express rider for Adams & Co., we are indebted for the Yreka Herald, of Saturday (20th inst.), which he obtained from the express office of Cram, Rogers & Co. at Shasta. Mr. Lusk brought us the Herald at 4 o'clock this morning. We have only space for the subjoined letter from Mr. Tyler, in which the particulars of the first earnest battle of the campaign are given with graphic effect. This affair is but the number one of a long series which will have to be recorded hereafter. The whites are determined on a war of extermination:
From Rogue River.Both expresses, Messrs. Cram, Rogers & Co.'s and Rhodes & Lusk's, arrived simultaneously yesterday evening, both bringing us letters from the seat of war. The following mournful news we extract from a letter from our fellow citizen. Geo. W. Tyler, who was in the battle:
Another Battle with the Indians!--Five Men Killed, and Five Wounded!!
Jacksonville, Aug. 18th.Editors Herald:--I have sad news to communicate to you and the citizens of Yreka. Last Tuesday noon, a party of 22 men from Capt. Goodall's company started under Lt. Ely to hunt up Sam's tribe of Indians. We traveled about 12 miles on Tuesday and camped in Elk Valley, on Evans Creek. Yesterday morning we started up the creek, and had not proceeded more than two or three miles when we came on Sam and all of his tribe, about 150 warriors! Not being strong enough to attack them, we retreated and at the same time sent an express back to Capt. Goodall to send forward the rest of his command. We then camped in the best place we could find, convenient to water, and at five minutes before eleven the Indians commenced an attack upon us, taking us by surprise, our guard not discovering them until they made the attack.
Two of our men were shot dead the first fire, and two more wounded! Finding the place we occupied too warm, we retreated to a point of timber 200 yards in our rear. We reached the point in safety, leaving our horses, saddles and baggage behind. The Indians then renewed their attack with great fury, but they soon found that they were a little too near and retreated to a respectful distance. They continued shooting at us until about 12 M. [noon], when they all retreated and held a consultation. Previous to this time they had not entirely surrounded us, but as soon as the consultation was ended--which lasted about 20 minutes--they commenced with greater fury than ever and surrounded us entirely. About 100 of the Indians had rifles. The battle lasted with unabated fury until ten minutes past 2 o'clock p.m., making three hours and fifteen minutes! I should judge that there were at least one thousand shots fired at us during the engagement. It was one of the most terrible battles ever fought with Indians in this northern country.
Five of our men were killed dead on the field and three badly, though not dangerously, and two slightly, wounded. Those killed are as follows: Isham P. Keith, of our city; a German by the name of L. Stockling; Albert Douglass, from Ohio; J. C. Coleman, from Jacksonville; and Francis Perry, from St. Louis, Mo. They were all buried today, with the honors of war.
Those badly wounded are: Lt. Ely, shot through the hand; James Carroll, shot through the thigh; and a man known by the name of Greasy John, of Humbug, shot through the hip. Two others were slightly wounded. There were six Indians killed and several wounded. We are now encamped near the battle ground, waiting for provisions and animals to follow the enemy.
P.S.--The arrival of John D. Cosby, with six or eight men, in advance of the rest caused the Indians to retreat, which saved our lives. We could not have held our position a half hour longer, and I must say if ever any party of men were glad to see their friends, it was us poor devils at that moment.
Yours, G. W. TYLER.
Daily Evening Herald, Marysville, California, August 26, 1853, page 2
The Indian War.
A war between the whites and Indians is now raging on the borders of California and Oregon. Both parties seem determined to make it a war of extermination. Through the Yreka Herald of the 20th, it appears that the whites have a force of 250 men encamped on the 15th, six miles northeast of Jacksonville, a town in the Rogue River Valley in Oregon. It consists of the following companies: Capt. Goodall, 90 men; Capt. Miller, 70; Capt. Lamerick, 40; Capt. Elliff, 25; and Capt. Rhodes, 30. These men are all volunteers and belong to both California and Oregon. The chief in command, as we gather from the Yreka Herald, is Capt. Alden, of the U.S. Army, who is appointed colonel commanding, assisted by Col. John Ross.
The plan of operations is to harass the Indians incessantly and compel them to call in their small parties in order to concentrate. This will, to some extent, check the murderous depredations which have heretofore been carried on by these parties, and when the Indians become concentrated it will be in the power of Capt. Alden to attack them at his leisure and at advantage. Another very wise precaution has been adopted--placing the women and children in secure and well-guarded places, thus relieving the troops from the embarrassing duty of defending single and isolated families, and permitting all the men to remain in one body instead of being constantly engaged in detached service.
In another part of this paper [below] is given the particulars of one battle, in which five gallant fellows perished. Another, and a severe one, may be looked for daily. From the spirit which animates the whites, it need not be expected that they will treat their enemies with any show of mercy. Every Indian, wherever met, will be destroyed, and no propositions of peace will receive any attention.
It is a matter of much regret--though it seems to be an authenticated fact--that several Americans are leagued with the Indians. They are renegade scoundrels, who are actuated by the hope of plunder; perhaps, by a worse passion--revenge!
Daily Evening Herald, Marysville, California, August 26, 1853, page 2
The howitzer from Fort Vancouver, accompanied by Lieutenant Kautz and six men, arrived here Friday evening, en route for Rogue River. It is a brass twelve-pounder, and calculated for the throwing of shell. They have also grape and cannister.
Oregon Statesman, Salem, August 30, 1853, page 2
The Indian Insurrection in Rogue River Valley--
Consternation Among the Inhabitants--War of Extermination Begun.
The Portland (Oregon) Commercial of the 25th gives the following particulars of the Indian troubles:
Late on Saturday evening last Mr. Ettlinger arrived here direct from Jacksonville, bringing a dispatch announcing that a general outbreak had taken place among the Indian tribes in the vicinity of Rogue River. It appears that for some time past the various tribes in the vicinity of the above-named river have made great complaints and become generally dissatisfied at the number of Bostons who were congregating on their former hunting grounds, and this dissatisfaction has sprung into a burning desire to exterminate the whites from the region of Rogue River Valley and regain their former footing, and reserve that entire valley for their own use. In order the more effectually to carry out these designs, several tribes have joined, among which are the Klamath, Rogue River, Smith River and Shasta, and it is supposed that a large portion of the Snakes had also agreed to cooperate with them.
A portion of each of those tribes, to the number of about three hundred, have established their headquarters and stronghold at a point called Table Rock, said to be one of the most impregnable fortresses in the territory, and about eight miles distant from Jacksonville. If, therefore, any engagements should take place, we may presume that this fortress will be the scene of action.
At the time Mr. E. left Jacksonville nearly twenty persons had been butchered by the Indians; among them are Dr. Rose, J. R. Hardin, Thos. Wells, R. Nolan and Messrs. Overbeck, Dunn, Griffin, Smith and Edwards. The Indians had burned upwards of a dozen dwellings.
Like many tribes, the Rogue River Indians derive their name from their propensity for stealing, and their well-known predatory talents have acquired for them the unenviable title of Rogue.
We learn from the gentleman who brought the news that the Indians, during the past few weeks, killed no less than twenty miners and settlers, and that great excitement exists in Jacksonville, in consequence of the citizens not having ammunition enough to warrant them in commencing hostilities.
We learn that Gen. Lane, at the head of seventy-five volunteers, proceeded to the scene of action immediately upon learning of the outbreak, and great praise is due to the citizens of the surrounding country for the prompt manner in which they responded to [the] call of their fellow citizens in Rogue River Valley.
The States and Union, Ashland, Ohio, October 5, 1853, page 2
J. R. Hardin:--"Over forty-seven years ago, my father, together with a companion, were murdered by Indians at a spot near where the Braden mine is located. Together with his companion he was buried where now stands the orchard in the old Dardanelles place, just across the river from Gold Hill. This week I received a notice from the present owner of this place to come down there and remove his remains, which I suppose I will have to do, though how I am going to identify them from the remains of his companion is a question too deep for me. I would like to have his remains buried in a regular cemetery and the grave properly cared for--but, well, you can see how matters stand. My father was the first representative from Jackson County to the legislature of this state, and at the time of his death he was being prominently mentioned as a candidate for congressman from Oregon. He was a lawyer by profession and stood high with the bar of the state."
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, March 22, 1901, page 7
The Portland Commercial of the 25th gives the following particulars of the Indian troubles:
The Indian Insurrection in Rogue River Valley--
Consternation Among the Inhabitants!
Late on Saturday evening last, Mr. Ettlinger arrived here direct from Jacksonville, bringing a dispatch announcing that a general outbreak had taken place among the Indian tribes in the vicinity of Rogue River. It appears that for some time past the various tribes in the vicinity of the above-named river have made great complaints, and become generally dissatisfied with the number of Bostons who were congregating on their former hunting grounds, and this dissatisfaction has sprung into a burning desire to exterminate the whites from the region of Rogue River Valley and regain their former footing and reserve that entire valley for their own use. In order the more effectually to carry out these designs, several tribes have joined, among which are the Klamath, Rogue River, Smith River and Shasta, and it is supposed that a large portion of the Snakes had also agreed to cooperate with them.
A portion of each of those tribes, to the number of about three hundred, have established their headquarters and stronghold at a point called Table Rock, said to be one of the most impregnable fortresses in the territory, and about eight miles distant from Jacksonville. If, therefore, any engagement should take place, we may presume that this fortress will be the scene of action. [The battle of Table Rock, so called, was actually fought several miles away on Evans Creek.]
At the time Mr. E. left Jacksonville, nearly twenty persons had been butchered by the Indians. Among them are Dr. Rose, J. R. Hardin, Mr. Wills, Mr. Nolan, and Mr. Smith, and the Indians had burned upwards of a dozen dwellings.
Heretofore the Snake and Rogue River Indians have never amalgamated for the purpose of acting against the whites, and if the report is true that they now have joined, it is a certain evidence that they have determined to carry on hostilities on an extensive scale, and the only effectual mode of putting a stop to their depredations is to apply a desperate remedy and teach them a similar lesson like unto that which the Cayuses have heretofore been taught by the old settlers in this valley.
Like many other tribes, the Rogue River Indians derive their name from their propensity for stealing, and their well-known predatory talents have acquired for them the unenviable title of Rogues.
We learn from the gentleman who brought the news that the Indians, during the past few weeks, killed no less than 20 miners and settlers, and that great excitement exists around and in Jacksonville, in consequence of the citizens not having ammunition enough to warrant them in commencing hostilities. Immediately on the first symptoms of a disturbance, an express was dispatched to Crescent City to procure aid and ammunition, but unfortunately there was but a small amount of the latter on hand, but that was freely given.
Upon the return of the messenger from Crescent City, a dispatch was immediately sent to the Acting Governor, G. L. Curry, praying that one hundred stand of arms and 4,000 rounds of ball cartridge be sent to the relief of the citizens. The steamer Eagle was then chartered and proceeded to Vancouver, where, through the kindness and exertion of Mr. T. J. Eckerson, the keeper of ordnance and stores, the required supplies were obtained and were landed at Oregon City on last Sunday evening. On Monday they were placed on board the Fenix and forwarded to their destination.
We learn that General Lane, at the head of seventy-five volunteers, proceeded to the scene of action immediately upon learning of the outbreak, and great praise is due to the citizens of the surrounding country for the prompt manner in which they responded to the call of their fellow citizens in Rogue River Valley.
The foregoing is all we can learn upon this subject up to the present, and our readers may rest assured that we shall keep them "posted up" in all circumstances attendant upon this outbreak, which will prove disastrous to both the whites and Indians, as it will tend to stop the trade of one party and will stop the breath of many of those engaged with the other.
SECOND DISPATCH.--Since the above was in type we learn that the Indians have added to the aggressions by brutally murdering Judge Skinner, Indian agent in that district. [Judge Alonzo A. Skinner was not murdered, nor, to my knowledge, even attacked.]
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, August 30, 1853, page 2
(From the San Francisco Herald.)
THE CALIFORNIA NEWS.
A General Indian War on the Frontiers--Great Excitement--
Terrible Massacres--A Call for Volunteers.
It would appear, from the news in regard to the Indian difficulties on Rogue River, that the war has begun in earnest. Great excitement naturally exists in that quarter, and the war will probably be one of extermination, or resulting in the expulsion of the Indians from the valleys east of the mountains. It is folly to talk about sympathy for the savage under such circumstances. The hardy settlers have long enough asked, but asked in vain, for protection from the inroads of the barbarians, and worse than nothing has been done by the general government in responding to their appeals. A crisis has arrived, however, which must settle the question whether the white or the red man must in future hold exclusive sway in that quarter.
The Mountain Herald of August 26th says:--
The families have been driven from their homes and compelled to fortify themselves in numbers for protection. The farmers have been forced to leave the harvest field for the security of life. The flourishing crops that gave the greatest assurance of an abundant harvest now present a houseless scene of devastation.
It must cause the utter ruin of numerous families, since many of them are emigrants of last year, who came with limited means, and who have expended all they had in order to raise a crop for the support of their families through the coming winter. Their situation is now deplorable. Their crops are destroyed, their stock killed or driven off, and in many instances they are without the means to purchase bread. Still, after all this privation and distress, there are persons who are in favor of making treaties with the Indians--to pay them muleloads of beads, blankets, guns and ammunition, for murdering our fellow men and destroying our property. It would be a most consummate folly to treat with them now, after sustaining such a loss of life and destruction of property, without any provocation or aggression on the part of the whites.
We have every confidence in all of our citizens who left here, and they will avenge these outrages and never quit the field while the color of an Indian is seen.
* * *A battle came off on the 7th, near the Mountain House, in which Messrs. Davis, Overbeck and a number of others were killed and one or two wounded. It is supposed that four or five Indians were killed.
Believe me, the Applegate, Cow, Grave Creek, Rogue River, Umpqua, Klamath, Shasta and Pit River Indians have united and declared an open and general war against the whites. On the 8th of August, a messenger from Rogue River Valley arrived with a petition signed by many persons residing near Willow Springs:
Fort Wagner, Aug. 8, 1853The citizens of Rogue River Valley ask the citizens of Yreka city and vicinity, in the name of humanity, to assist in subjugating the Indians of this valley, who are daily and nightly murdering our citizens and killing our stock.
Between four and five hundred Indians are in the vicinity of Table Rock. The citizens are not sufficient in number to guard the different points at which the families have collected, and go out to fight them. We are poorly armed, and ask your assistance in men, arms and ammunition.
On the 8th, the Indians attacked two houses, Mr. Miller's and Mr. Stone's. Most of the families are at Wagner's ranch, ten miles this side of Jacksonville, and are about erecting a block fort for protection. The main body of Indians are encamped at or about Table Rock.
Many mules, horses and stock of all descriptions have been killed about Jacksonville and Willow Springs. The old chief (Sam) says he will fight until he dies, or have the valley back again. He told his brother, who is a peace chief, that he would kill him if he did not help to exterminate the whites from Rogue River Valley. [Apparently the quotation ends here.]
Capt. Alden, of Fort Jones, in this valley, left with fifteen soldiers for the scene of action.
Esquire Steele, of this place, has an order to hire all the horses and mules he can procure, for which he will pay $4 per day, by Uncle Sam. Two large companies of volunteers from Yreka, Greenhorn, Humbug and Scott Valley have left for Rogue River Valley with a good supply of muskets and ammunition. A large number of Shasta Indians were encamped near my hacienda last week, and Esq. Steele was about to make a demand from the chief for all their arms and ammunition, but a white Indian, Ned Wicks, who has a squaw for a wife, informed them, and they vamoosed before the next morning for Shasta Valley. There, on their arrival, they made an attempt to capture George W. Herd, of Scott Valley, while herding his stock, before he could get to Mr. Leonard's ranch, but they did not succeed.
A messenger was sent to Yreka, and a party of men came out immediately to the ranch, some six miles, and made an attempt to capture the Indians, but they were hid in ambush, and one shot Mr. Millet through the breast. This party of Indians succeeded in getting away, except one old tar-headed squaw who was shot and scalped. Now that general hostilities have commenced, I hope that the government will render such aid as will enable the citizens of the north to carry on a war of extermination until the last redskin of these tribes have been killed. Then, and not until then, are our lives and property safe against these grass-eating desperadoes.
Daily Courier, Louisville, Kentucky, September 30, 1853, page 2
The steamer Thomas Hunt arrived on Saturday, from Crescent City. The news brought by the Hunt confirms that already received as to the warlike character of the Rogue River and other Indians.
The Indians and whites have had an engagement in Rogue River Valley, near Jacksonville, and after fighting for over three hours the whites were compelled to retreat. Both parties suffered much loss.
Amongst those that were taken prisoners was Asa Colburn, of Jacksonville, who was butchered in a most horrible manner, his legs being cut off, his entrails taken out, and his body shockingly mutilated.
Reinforcements from all quarters are being sent to the aid of the whites. A company of some thirty left Crescent City on Sunday, the 21st inst., and the citizens are forming another to leave as soon as possible.--Sun.
Sacramento Daily Union, August 30, 1853, page 2
THE INDIANS.--The Commanding General of the Pacific Division has ordered a force of sixty U.S. troops to Fort Redding to be employed under the direction of Col. Wright against the Rogue River Indians. The latest accounts from the north represent the Indians in all the region along the line between California and Oregon as hostile to the white settlers and united in their efforts to annihilate them. Mr. James McMahon, a citizen of Klamath County, and who represented that county in the last Legislature, has made a call in San Francisco for sixty volunteers, each to be armed, if possible, with a rifle and a Colt's revolver, to accompany him to the seat of war. He says that the Indians have now concentrated their forces, and are determined to expel the whites from that portion of the country.
Daily Evening Herald, Marysville, California, September 1, 1853, page 2
The Indian War.
A war between the whites and Indians is now raging on the borders of California and Oregon. Both parties seem determined to make it a war of extermination. Through the Yreka Herald of the 20th, it appears that the whites have a force of 250 men encamped on the 15th, six miles northeast of Jacksonville, a town in the Rogue River Valley, in Oregon. It consists of the following companies: Capt. Goodall, 90 men; Capt. Miller, 70; Capt. Lamerick, 40; Capt. Elliff, 25; and Capt. Rhodes, 30. These men are all volunteers and belong to both California and Oregon. The chief in command, as we gather from the Yreka Herald, is Capt. Alden, of the U.S. army, who is appointed colonel commanding, assisted by Col. John Ross.
The plan of operations is to harass the Indians incessantly and compel them to call in their small parties in order to concentrate. This will, to some extent, check the murderous depredations which have heretofore been carried on by these parties, and when the Indians become concentrated it will be in the power of Capt. Alden to attack them at his leisure and at advantage. Another very wise precaution has been adopted, placing the women and children in secure and well-guarded places, thus relieving the troops from the embarrassing duty of defending single and isolated families and permitting all the men to remain in one body instead of being constantly engaged in detached service.
In another part of this paper is given the particulars of one battle, in which five gallant fellows perished. Another, and a severe one, may be looked for daily. From the spirit which animates the whites, it need not be expected that they will treat their enemies with any show of mercy. Every Indian, wherever met, will be destroyed, and no propositions of peace will receive any attention.
It is a matter of much regret--though it seems to be an authenticated fact--that several Americans are leagued with the Indians. They are renegade scoundrels, who are actuated by the hope of plunder, perhaps by a worse passion--revenge!
Daily Evening Herald, Marysville, California, September 1, 1853, page 2
(From the Yreka Herald.)The following letter we received by Cram, Rogers & Co.'s Express from Mr. Dugan.
ANOTHER BATTLE WITH THE INDIANS
Jacksonville, Aug. 25, 1853.Another battle was fought with the Indians yesterday. There were 10 Indians killed, and 30 wounded. The whites had lost three men killed and 8 wounded. Among the killed was Capt. Armstrong of Yamhill; the other two men are from Yreka, but I have not learned their names; the messenger, Mr. Angel, does not know their names. Col. B. R. Alden is said to be mortally wounded; the ball entered his neck and came out under his arm. Gen. Lane was also wounded in the shoulder slightly. The battle lasted four hours, at the end of which time Chief Sam proposed an armistice which was granted, and both armies agreed to meet at Table Rock tomorrow and have a wawa.
The Indians numbered 250 men, and the whites 96. The battle came off at the head of Evans Creek, in a canyon, about 55 miles from here; the whites surprised them. Gen. Lane and Col. Alden were wounded while making a charge. It is generally supposed here that it is the intention of the whites to make a treaty with the Indians on account of their agreeing to meet them at Table Rock, but for myself I have no such idea, and I think there is some other object in view, as the people of this country would not submit to it for a moment.
Three Spaniards were shot this morning 8 miles from here, near Applegate Creek. One mule was shot and cargo carried off by the Indians; the Spaniards were on their way in from Crescent City with a pack train.
Robert L. Williams arrived here yesterday from Althouse Creek for the purpose of getting a commission to raise a company of rangers, which was granted him. Capt. W. J. Terry arrived last night from Crescent City with a part of his company, the balance being behind with their provisions, ammunition &c. His company numbers 30 men, well armed and mounted.
Daily Evening Herald, Marysville, California, September 2, 1853, page 2
One Man Shot Dead and Five Wounded.The following items we gather from a letter received from Mr. Dugan, by Mr. F. Rogers, of Cram, Rogers & Co.'s Express, and from Dr. Sulte of this city, who visited the wounded persons mentioned below:
It appears that Capt. Smith, Mr. John Gibbs and others a short time ago had a fight with the Indians, when Dunn and some others were wounded. They killed 4 or 5 Indians and took 7 or 8 of them prisoners, and kept them under guard for the purpose of inducing the remainder of the tribe to come in, and were under the impression that they were good Indians.
On the 21st the Indians crawled in upon them, charged on the guard, and rescued the prisoners. They then burned some haystacks. John Gibbs, of the Mountain House, was standing guard at the time, and had his arm fractured by a rifle ball and [was] shot in the groin. Mr. Carroll of Yreka was one of the other men wounded.
An emigrant who had just come across the plains, by the name of Smith, while lying under his wagon asleep, was shot dead with ten rifle balls. Another emigrant who had just arrived with his wife and several children from some place near Burlington, Iowa, was shot. He died on Tuesday last. At the time he was shot the Indians had seized his wife, and he was trying to rescue her. She escaped unhurt. Mr. Gibbs received two wounds, one breaking his left arm and one ball passing through his groin. Dr. Shulte thinks he will not recover. One man had his thigh broken by a rifle ball, and another wounded in the thigh by a ball; another wounded by arrows, the names of whom we have been unable to learn. None of the Indians were killed or wounded. They drove off one American mare and shot two oxen and one mule belonging to the ranch.
We have just received news from Captain Smith, who is on his way in from Port Orford with a company of forty dragoons. They came in on the new road east of the canyon. They fell in with a party of Indians at the canyon near Table Rock--had a fight with them--killed ten Indians, but lost one man.
General Joe Lane arrived last Saturday night, at headquarters, with fifteen men to participate in the existing war with the Indians. Col. Alden prevailed on him to take command of the forces, which he has done, and marched in pursuit of the Indians at 5 o'clock this morning. The people here have great confidence in the General's knowledge of Indian fighting.
We look for sixty or seventy Klickitat Indians and half-breeds in from Oregon in a few days, who have been anxious to come here to fight these Indians for a long time.
A white man was killed on Applegate night before last by another white man who was standing guard. The guard heard him in the bushes and hailed him three times--the only answer he made was "nika" ["me"]. He was shot dead.
The following items reached Yreka too late for publication in the Herald--and were reported verbally, in Shasta, by Mr. J. A. Horsley, express messenger of Messrs. Cram, Rogers & Co.
While the battle was still raging, Chief Sam advanced to the front and bid them cease firing, that he wished to speak with Gen. Lane. The firing instantly ceased, and Gen. Lane met Sam half way. After some conversation, a meeting, or as they call it in their lingo, a wawa, was agreed upon for Sunday following.
The Indians occupied the ground between the whites and the river, which rendered it impossible for the latter to obtain water. As soon as the firing and the war cry ceased, the squaws seized their baskets, ran to the river and carried water to the Americans. This is a circumstance worthy of note, an act of charitableness worthy to be copied by more enlightened races.
Gen. Lane, with a party of 8 or 10 men, visited the Indian encampment on Sunday. They found 250 able-bodied warriors--150 sick and disabled--111 rifle and 86 pistols, Colts, Allen's and single barrel. The Indians say that some time since the whites ceded to them one half of the valley, on condition of their releasing all claim to the remaining half--that the whites are now settling the whole valley, without remunerating them--that if the Americans will pay them for their lands, they will surrender their arms and allow to be retained out of the money a sufficient amount to pay all damages they have done to private property. A final wawa was fixed for Wednesday, the 31st.
There are those, and they are numerous too, who hold up both hands for extermination, and will listen to nothing else. But to exterminate them would take time, perhaps years, and would lead to a thousand petty broils and skirmishes, and much bloodshed. It would turn the "plowshare and pruning hook," the spade, the pick and the crowbar to implements of war, shut up the avenues of trade, stagnate all branches of business, cause much privation and suffering, and finally depopulate that portion of the country.
To exterminate them would be next to impossible. The Indian, in his mountain fastnesses, is a wily and powerful foe. He knows every bush and brake, every rock and crevice, every trail and decoy--where to flee, where to hide, where to attack--and like following a will-o-the-wisp, his adversary, before he is aware, is lost in the fog.
To exterminate them would border on cruelty. One act of wrong does not make another wrong right. One act of cruelty does not make another act of cruelty an act of humanity--because two or three savages are cruel enough to murder two or three white men, it might be some justification, but it is no good reason why we should rise in arms and exterminate the whole of the race, who feel they have some rights left, who are taught from infancy to believe they have an inheritance in land, and that the Great Spirit will teach them craft and nerve their arms for its defense.
Then let us treat with them. A treaty may bind them only for a time--a year, or perhaps a few months only--but it will serve its time--"a half loaf is better than no bread" and a year, or even a few months of peace, tranquility and prosperity are more valuable to the people of northern California and Oregon than a battlefield covered all over with the dead bodies of Indians.
Let us treat with them for their lands and arms and retain a sufficiency to meet all demands against them on account of damage done to private property.
Daily Evening Herald, Marysville, California, September 3, 1853, page 2
Canyonville, Douglas Co.,Dear Bush:--The company under Major Alvord and Capt. Applegate are just passing through the Canyon. This is the third company that has gone to the seat of war from this vicinity, viz., Gen. Lane's of 18 men (by Table Rock Road), Capt. Martin's of 10 men, via Canyon, and Capt. Applegate's of 20 men. There are now in the field from 350 to 400 men. I have just heard of an engagement which Gen. Lane had with the Indians a few days since near Table Rock. The Indians number about 300 and the whites 200. The Indians were defeated but with what loss the rumors differ. No lives lost upon the part of the whites; a few were slightly wounded. About 6 or 8 days since a company of 21 men from Yreka were surprised upon Evans Creek by the Indians, and lost 5 men in killed and 4 wounded, 18 animals and many revolvers and other arms. On the 24th a company which has been stationed at Bates' on Grave Creek surprised a party of Indians in the mountains and killed 6 of their number. These are all the reliable rumors that I have time to relate at present. The particulars of the different engagements I will give you as soon as I can obtain reliable information.
Aug. 26th, 1853.
There are a thousand rumors afloat, the majority of which are unfounded. The Indians did not attack nor burn Jacksonville. Nor did Gen. Lane shoot or hang any friendly Indians in South Umpqua Valley as has been maliciously reported. There are no two opinions alike in regard to the duration of the war. I think that the Indians will divide into small parties and fight whenever a good opportunity presents until they are exterminated.
Timon.Oregon Statesman, Salem, September 6, 1853, page 2
Latest from the Indian War.
Severe Battles of Several Hours Duration--Nine Men Killed--
Nine Wounded, Two Dangerously--Gen. Lane and Col. Alden Among the Wounded--Pleasant Armstrong, of Yamhill County Shot Through the Heart--Armistice Agreed Upon--Letters from Gens. Palmer and Lane, Esq., T'Vault and Capt. Nesmith.
A messenger, dispatched by Capt. Nesmith, arrived here Friday night, bringing important news from Rogue River. Two severe engagements have taken place between the Indians and the whites, in which nine of the latter were killed, and nine wounded--some of them dangerously. Among the wounded are Gen. Lane and Col. Alden, U.S. Army. Among the killed we notice the name of Capt. Armstrong, of Yamhill County. A full account of the battles, and the subsequent action of parties, will be found in the letters which we publish below:
Yoncalla, August 31st, 1853.Oregon Statesman, Salem, September 6, 1853, page 2
Dear Bush:--Enclosed find a letter to your address and one to me from General Lane, which you are at liberty to publish if you deem it proper to do so. Mr. Nicholas brought the express to this place where he met Agent Culver, and after depositing letters in the post office returned this morning. I arrived here at 12, and have taken the letters from the post office, and send by Mr. Jacobs as messenger.
Capt. Nesmith with a part of his command are encamped for the night awaiting the arrival of Lieut. Kautz with field piece. Lieut. Grover has been ordered to proceed without delay to Jacksonville with ammunition.
I shall start in half an hour and endeavor to reach Table Rock by the expiration of the seven days mentioned in Gen. Lane's letter.
In haste, yours,
JOEL PALMER, Superintendent.
Mountain Camp, Aug. 25, 1853.
Gen. Joel Palmer, Super't. Ind. Affairs
Sir:--Yesterday myself and the men under my command had a fight of four hours with the Rogue River Indians, in the most dense forest in this part of the country. Our loss was three killed and four wounded. Those dead are Capt. Armstrong of your county, a Mr. ---- and Francis Bradley. Those wounded are Col. Alden, dangerously, Charles Abbe, do., and Wm. Fisher, badly, Thos. Hays, shot through the arm, and myself, shot through the shoulder. There were 8 Indians killed and about 20 wounded.
In the afternoon a proposition came from the enemy for a parley, which was granted, they being in such a position that they could not be dislodged without the loss of a great many men.
Today we have arranged terms with them, and have agreed to meet them at Table Rock in seven days from today, to make a general treaty, and your presence is imperatively required as soon as possible. You must not delay one moment in coming, as it is perfectly safe traveling now, and I wish you to bring a sub-agent to remain here, as the presence of an agent is absolutely necessary for the maintenance of friendly relations with the Indians.
I will remain here until you arrive.
Your ob't. servant,
Mountain Camp, Aug. 26, 1853.Mr. Bush--Dear Sir:--I have to inform you of the melancholy news which at this time pervades the entire settlements of Rogue River; that is war with all its horrors, between the whites and the combined Indian tribes of Southern Oregon and Northern California. You have, no doubt, ere this been informed of the Indian depredations up to the murder of Dr. Rose and John R. Hardin. Since that time many of the first men of our country have fallen either by assassination or in open battle. Time and opportunity will not permit me to enter into detail of the many smaller depredations committed by these savages--suffice it to say that for craftiness and bravery, they are equal to the Florida Indians, and their mode of war very similar, using the canyons in the mountains instead of the Florida hammocks.
Sam, the great war chief, with Joe, the civil chief, and Jim, a chief of smaller grade, took a position five or six miles north of Table Rock, in a canyon of dense brush. There they reported that they intended to give battle to our forces under the command of Col. John Ross and Capt. Alden, of the U.S.A. About the 15th August, the forces proceeded to the Indian camp to give them battle, sending an independent detachment under Capt. H. Elliff in their rear to bring on the attack while the main force was to charge them in front. But when they arrived, the Indians were nowhere to be found, having moved their camp several days before. 1st. Lieut. Ely of Capt. Goodall's company, from Yreka, was sent in search of the Indian camp, and the main force returned to headquarters on Stuart's Creek, for the purpose of obtaining supplies to pursue the Indians into the mountains. On the morning of the 17th Lieut. Ely, with 22 men, discovered the Indian camp, some 10 miles north of their former camp, upon the right-hand creek called Evans Creek. We immediately fell back some two or three miles to an open prairie interspersed with small washed gullies and branches of willows and sent two men as an express to headquarters, remaining with 20 men to await the arrival of a sufficient force to attack the Indians; the Indians in the meantime, availing themselves of the advantages of the gullies and brush, crawled up and commenced an attack at a distance of a few yards, say 20 or 30, killing two men at their first fire and causing the small force to make a precipitate retreat to a ridge covered with pine trees, a distance of 250 yards, when they took a position covered in the rear by elevated ground and prairie in front. The Indians flanked and very near if not quite surrounded them. The men were brave and most valiantly sustained their position for three hours and fifteen minutes, when J. D. Carly, Esq., of Yreka, arrived with five other men, in advance of the main force. The Indians, seeing this new arrival, immediately took to flight, carrying off 18 horses and mules with their caparisons together with blankets and camp equipage. The loss on our side was, killed, J. Shane, P. Keath, Frank Perry, A. Douglass, A. C. Colburn, and L. Lockting. Wounded--1st Lieut. Ely, shot through the wrist, John Albin, James Carrol, and Zebulon Shutz, all slightly. The entire forces in the field again returned to headquarters on Stuart's Creek, to complete their supplies.
On the morning of the 21st inst., Gen. Jo Lane arrived at headquarters and joined the army under the command of brevet Col. Alden and Col. Ross, and on Monday morning by sunrise the whole force was en route, the battalion under Col. Ross, consisting of Capts. Miller and Lamerick's company, going down Rogue River and then up Evans Creek till they found the trail of Sam and Joe, or until they met with the battalion of Col. Alden, consisting of the companies of Capts. Goodall and Rhodes, which marched in the direction of the battleground of Lieut. Ely. The orders were that which attachment found the main Indian trail was to pursue it, and the other follow on when they came up, if they did not meet before finding the trail. Gen. Lane and myself joined Col. Alden's command, and late in the evening we found that the Indian trail had taken to the mountains in a north direction from Evans Creek. Tuesday morning we made an early start, pursued the trail all day, passing over the most difficult mountains, as they were barely "passable, not practicable" to pass. Tuesday night we tied our animals to brush with grass, and Wednesday morning was in early march on the Indian trail, ascending a high mountain. Passing along the summit four or five miles, we heard the Indians a short distance ahead in a ravine, at a distance of about six hundred yards.
The order was instantly given to dismount, and Col. Alden, with Capt. Goodall and about thirty of his company, proceeded down the Indian trail to attack them in front. Capt. Rhodes, with some fifteen or twenty men, was sent down a ridge to the left, to attack them on the left and prevent an escape down the canyon. In a few minutes the Indians fired on Col. Alden when within some 30 yards of the camp, and the battle commenced, raging with much fury. Col. Alden was badly wounded the first fire, also Pleasant Armstrong, of Yamhill, was shot through the breast, exclaiming as he fell--"a dead center shot." The battle continued raging with great fury, the yells of the Indians, the howling of dogs and the sharp continuous crack of the rifles lasted about one hour, when our pack train arrived and furnishing ten men more, Gen. Lane at the head of those ten, followed down the trail to the battleground, and with brave determination, ordered a charge, leading himself. When he arrived near the camp he received a wound through the right arm. The battle continued for about four hours, and the Indians called for quarter, or a parley. When finding that Gen. Lane was there, they insisted on his coming into their camp. The old hero, although pretty badly wounded, and suffering much, immediately went into the Indian camp (or fortifications, for it was represented to be a stronger place to charge than "Chapultepec") and had a talk with Sam, Joe and Jim. An armistice was agreed upon for a short time. We buried our dead, and in a short time Col. Ross with his command arrived, and a general treaty was talked of, and an armistice with Joe and Sam was agreed upon for seven days, at which time they were to meet Gen. Lane and give up their rifles.
Our loss in battle was three killed on the ground--Pleasant Armstrong, F. Bradley, one name not known. Wounded, Col. Alden, Gen. Lane, ---- Hays and two names not known.
The Indians say 12 killed dead, and 20 wounded--most all mortally. Much talk of a continuous war, and many are anxious for peace. If there is not peace Rogue River will be the grave and resting place of many a brave and good man. The best men generally are the first to fall, and the most clamorous for extermination are not the most interested, yet many good men go for a war of extermination.
On the 25th, I am informed that the Indians attacked Wm. Dunn's house, in the south part of the valley, killed three men, wounded two or three, robbed the house, burnt the hay and grain. On the same day they attacked a pack train, killed 2 men, wounded 2, and captured 2 animals and cargo. This was on Applegate Creek.
I will have to give you more anon.
W. G. T'VAULT.
Camp at Applegate's,To His Excellency G. L. Curry, Gov. of Oregon.
August 31st, 1853.
Dear sir:--I arrived here this evening, and am now waiting for Lieut. Kautz to come up with the howitzer and ammunition. Owing to a heavy rain which fell last night and this morning, the roads are so slippery over the mountain that travel is difficult.
I found that the detention would be so great in escorting the Lieut. and party that I concluded to send a party with the pack trains, loaded with ammunition in advance, and accordingly dispatched Lieut. Grover with 20 men yesterday morning. They will proceed with dispatch to Jacksonville. I have 40 volunteers with me. From the tenor of Gen. Lane's letter to Gen. Palmer I am inclined to think that the difficulties will be settled before we can arrive at the seat of war with the howitzer and ammunition. In that event I shall order back the most of my company, and proceed myself with a few men sufficient to get the munitions through.
Present indications would not warrant the sending of a larger force to the scene of war.
I will write again from Winchester or the Kenyon.
In haste, very truly yours,
J. W. NESMITH
Capt. Comm'd'g. detachment volunteers.
P.S. At the request of Gen. Palmer I send Mr. Goff express.
From the South.
THE INDIAN HOSTILITIES.
Through Messrs. Burget and Rhinehart, who have just arrived from the seat of war, we are in possession of the following information. They left Jacksonville on Sunday, August 21st, at 12 o'clock.
They report that there had been some 12 or 15 white men killed, and some 8 or 10 wounded. There were about 100 Rogue River Indians well armed. They had abandoned their position at Table Rock--and had retired some fifteen miles from that point to Evans Creek, at which point they had a battle with the whites which lasted over three hours, in which five whites were killed and five wounded. The Indians left the ground.
Gen. Lane arrived at Jacksonville with 25 men on Saturday evening, the 20th of August, without any opposition in passing the Kanyon. He immediately proceeded to Capt. Alden's encampment near Table Rock.
Judge Skinner had not been killed at the time our informants left--so the thousand rumors of his being killed is as false as those about Gen. Lane being killed.
It was the general opinion that the Indians would be soon exterminated. There were supposed to be about three hundred hostile Indians. There was but few Indians near Jacksonville, and they were lurking among the hills. They think that the war will be terminated soon. The general cry is extermination to the Indians.
They met the volunteer company under Capt. Nesmith in charge of the munitions of war about fifteen miles the other side of Marysville, on Monday last.
There was no scarcity of provisions at Jacksonville. Maj. Mosher had been shot through the knee by the accidental discharge of his pistol.
P.S.--Mr. Backus from Marysville informs us that he saw the mail carrier from Jacksonville on Tuesday night. He reports that Gen. Lane with 100 men gave the Indians a fight, but their ammunition giving out, they retired to Jacksonville with the loss of one man. Capt. Nesmith's company was near the Kanyon with the supplies. The Indians he reports in good heart, and it is thought that a fair field fight could be got out of them.
Oregon Weekly Times, Portland, September 3, 1853, page 2
Later from the Indian War!
GEN. LANE WOUNDED IN THE SHOULDER.
CAPT. ALDEN DANGEROUSLY WOUNDED!!
INDIANS BEATEN IN TWO BATTLES!
PROSPECT OF A PEACE!!
Correspondence of the Oregon Weekly Times.
Jacksonville, Aug. 26
Friend Waterman:--I take advantage of a private express to send you a hasty account of the Indian difficulties in this valley, which were much more serious than I anticipated when I wrote you last. The rising of the Indians was general, and it was intended, no doubt, to make a simultaneous attack upon the inhabitants of this and the surrounding valleys, and massacre them all before they could prepare for their defense. The murders of Edwards on the 4th, Wills on the 5th, and Nolan on the 6th, in the immediate vicinity of this place, together with the fact that all the Indians left the town after the first murder was committed, aroused the people to a sense of their danger. A dispatch was immediately sent to Fort Jones in Scotts Valley for arms, of which there was a great deficiency, many having been sold no doubt to the Indians, who were found to be well armed and supplied with ammunition. The commanding officer (Capt. Alden, 4th U.S. Infantry) immediately came with ten soldiers, all that were able for duty, and thirty stand of arms. He proceeded at once to appoint a commission of Indian affairs for southern Oregon. The commissioners are L. A. Davis, George Dart, Richard Dugan and Dr. Ed Sheil. He then proceeded to muster into service the volunteers. They were composed of Capt. Miller's company of Oregon volunteers--80 men, Capt. Goodall's company of Yreka volunteers--90 men, Capt. Lamerick's company of this place--40 men, Capt. Elliff's--25 men, and Capt. Rhodes' company from Humbug--30 men, under command of Col. John Ross of this place.
The commissioners at once entered upon the discharge of their duty. Charles S. Drew was appointed quartermaster, and measures [were] promptly taken for a vigorous prosecution of the war. On the 11th Lt. Griffin of Capt. Miller's company, with 25 men attacked a body of Indians on the east fork of Applegate Creek, and forced them to retreat. The whites had one man (Geo. Anderson) severely wounded. In the evening of the same day, John R. Hardin and Dr. W. R. Rose were shot as they were riding along the road in the Rogue River Valley. Rose was instantly killed, and Hardin died a few days after. The next day Lt. Griffin went down Applegate Creek to look for the Indians, and fell into an ambuscade and was forced to retreat with the loss of one man (Frank Garrett) killed, and Lt. Griffin wounded in the leg. Reinforcements having arrived, the Indians were pursued on the following day but had made their escape. The troops then returned to their headquarters about nine miles from here in the Rogue River Valley, from which place they were sent out in small parties towards and beyond Rogue River. It was supposed that the Indians were divided into small parties, and news of their depredations reached us from all quarters daily. The farmers were compelled to come into town for security, or collect a number in one house which they turned into a fort, and keep constantly on their guard, leaving their crops, the fruit of their whole year's labor, at the mercy of the Indians. A large amount of grain and many houses have been burned, and stock killed or driven away. The damage done by them cannot be less than a hundred thousand dollars. The miners have been compelled to quit work, and many of them were without means to support themselves beyond a short time. After the troops were withdrawn from Applegate the Indians surprised a camp of the miners, and fired one volley and ran. They killed two men (John N. Davis and Asa Prickett) and wounded one other, not dangerously.
On the 17th, Lt. Ely of Capt. Goodall's company, with 20 men, came upon the Indians, about 150 in number, on Evans Creek on the north side of Rogue River; the Indians surrounded them, but they fought nobly for more than three hours, until the arrival of reinforcements forced the Indians to retire. They lost five men killed and three wounded; the killed were Isham P. Keith, Albert Douglass of Ohio, Asa Colburn, Frank Perry and L. Stockling. The Indians retired and the troops were compelled to return to headquarters for provisions.
On the evening of the 20th, Gen. Lane arrived at headquarters with 18 men. The news reached him at his farm on the Umpqua at 12 o'clock at night. With his usual promptness he was in the saddle at daylight, and with what men he could collect on the moment he hastened to the scene of action. At the request of Capt. Alden the General assumed the command, and on the 22nd at two o'clock a.m. the whole force started to the mountains in pursuit of the Indians. At daylight on the 22nd the Indians attacked a house on the road to Yreka, killed three men and wounded three. Two of the killed were immigrants who had crossed the plains this year, whose names I could not learn, the other was [John] Gibbs, who kept the Mountain House. On yesterday the Indians fired into a Mexican mule train coming from Crescent City, on Applegate, wounded three men slightly and killed two mules.
Today we have just heard from Gen. Lane. He came upon the main body of the Indians, about 250 in number, under the command of the chiefs Joe, Sam and Jim, far up in the mountains, where they thought themselves safe from pursuit. They surprised the Indians and fought for two or three hours until they cried for a talk; they ceased firing and the Indians agreed to give up their arms and all the captured property and cease hostilities. A truce was agreed to, and the Indians are to come to Table Rock in six days and conclude a treaty of peace. If this is done the war is at an end. There are men here who are not satisfied with the result, but insist upon extermination. I think however that this would be more difficult than anticipated, and that all will coincide in the good policy of a treaty that secures the immediate safety of the valley. The whites lost three men killed, [Pleasant] Armstrong of Yamhill, Frank Bradley and [John] Scarborough of Yreka, and five wounded. Gen. Lane was shot through the right arm just below the shoulder joint, a severe but not a dangerous wound. Capt. Alden is dangerously wounded, a bullet entering on the side of his neck and passing out below his shoulder blade. The Indians had 12 killed and about 30 wounded in the last fight, and eight killed, 12 wounded, on Evans Creek. I hope in my next to be able to assure you that the war is finally disposed of and labor resumed. My wound is nearly well, and I shall be able to walk without crutches in a few days.
Yours truly,P.S.--Capt. Owens has just come in and reports having killed six Indians and wounded two more, without loss on his part. M.
L. F. MOSHER.
Oregon Weekly Times, Portland, September 10, 1853, page 2
From the Seat of War.
From Mr. Avery of Marysville, we learn later news from the Indian difficulties. He had seen and conversed with Mr. Foster, who arrived from there in seven days. The chiefs, Sam and Joe, were disposed to make peace, but nothing definite had been concluded upon when he left. The Superintendent, Gen. Palmer, was there and also Gen. Lane. Joe has always been favorable to a peace.
The tribe of Indians on Lower Rogue River, led by their chief, Taylor, are yet hostile--and there are circumstances existing at present which precludes a prospect of any immediate treaty with them. They had recently fallen upon a party of whites and killed three of them.
Capt. Alden it was thought would recover from his wound--though he was not yet out of danger.
Oregon Weekly Times, Portland, September 17, 1853, page 2
To Wells, Fargo & Co. we are indebted for an early delivery of the Mountain Herald. From it we take the following matters of news.
TREATY.--PROBABLE CONCLUSION OF PEACE WITH THE ROGUE RIVER INDIANS.--To Mr. Joseph Rogers, of the Express, we are indebted for the following information from Rogue River, up to Wednesday last, the 6th inst. On Sunday last the chiefs Joe, Sam and Jim, agreed that their respective tribes should give up all their arms and ammunition, with the exception of a few guns, which were to be retained for hunting purposes--to remove out of the valley, to sell their lands to government, and pay all damages done the whites out of the proceeds thereof; and to give over to the whites the Indians of their respective tribes who committed depredations before the war. The whites, on their part, agreed to conclude the treaty of peace as soon as the stipulations on the part of the Indians were complied with. Up to the time our informant left, but few arms had been brought in.
The chiefs, then at the headquarters, said that they had no control over the Applegates and old Tipsey's tribe, and consequently could not be answerable for their conduct. It was thought that the Applegate Indians would treat.
Daily Evening Herald, Marysville, California, September 17, 1853, page 2
The Oregonian speaks thus of the Rogue River war, not having received the news of its termination:
"If, however, it should turn out that our surmisings are incorrect, and that the many reports which have been in circulation are not exaggerated, it is easy to foretell the end of this war. The whole Indian race in Southern Oregon will be exterminated. Indeed, this seems to be the only alternative left. Self-styled philanthropists at a distance may prate about the cruelty and wickedness of such a course, but were they in the situation of our citizens--subjected to the ruthless band of savages--they too, would be in favor of exterminating the race. Treaty stipulations amount to nothing with these Indians; their most solemn pledges are disregarded whenever the opportunity to plunder presents itself. Therefore, one course only is left to the whites, and that course will inevitably be adopted. We shall endeavor to keep our readers well posted up with the acts, connected with the war as it progresses."
Extermination of the Grave Creek Indians."Messrs. Adams and McCormick, who arrived here a day or two since, gave us the following information relative to the Grave Creek Indians. They state that two weeks last Wednesday four Indians were got into Mr. Bates' house, but as yet the women and three others had not yet come in. The whites waited till the rest of the Indians came up. Mr. Owens was there with a guard to protect the United States mail. When the other Indians came in Mr. J. H. McCormick was ordered to take charge of the armed white men, four in number, outside. It was ordered that no firing be done till near enough to make sure shots. The chief and three others were in Bates' house, in charge of Mr. Charles Adams. Mr. McCormick's attack was to be the signal for Adams inside. When the outside signal was given Adams shot a noted Indian named John. Mr. Thos. Frizzell shot at the chief, wounding him. The chief sprang at him with a shovel, aiming at his head, but was warded off, giving a dangerous wound in the hand. The chief then gathered in and threw him, when Adams put two balls through him and he expired. Capt. Owens came in, when an Indian sprang upon and threw him. While down Mr. Adams put two balls through him and he expired. In the melee Owens received two balls through his hat.
The question then arose whether the squaws and children should be put to death. Through Messrs. Adams and McCormick's exertions they were unharmed. The only one left of the male race of this tribe is a young lad some eight or ten years old, a very bright and intelligent boy, whom they brought to this place with them.--Oregonian.
"From Oregon," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, September 19, 1853, page 2
The ladies of Yreka have presented a beautiful banner to the Yreka and Humbug volunteers. Gen. Joe Lane presented it on behalf of the ladies, accompanied with appropriate remarks.
On Wednesday last the Indians destroyed a house, haystack and other property, four miles from Jacksonville, near Griffith's [probably Griffin's] ranch, belonging to a Mr. Moserett, a Frenchman.
The whites went out on the day appointed to meet the Indians and conclude the treaty, but three wild Indians made their appearance, who said that the following day was the one appointed--that the whites had made a mistake of one day.
So says report--nothing official is yet received from headquarters.
Two companies (Capts. Owens' and Terry's) were sent on Wednesday evening to Applegate Creek.
It is rumored that Capt. Bob Williams and his rangers had a fight with the Applegate Indians a few days since and killed about twenty, with a loss of but one man wounded.
"Later from the Scene of Indian Disturbances at the North!" Sacramento Daily Union, September 19, 1853, page 2
News from the War.
Below will be found an extract from a letter from Gen. Lane to Gov. Curry, under date of Sept. 5, 1853. It will be seen that a conference with the Indians had taken place, and that Gen. Lane was confident that a treaty of peace would be concluded.
From Mr. J. A. Barrett, who left Jacksonville on the 7th, two days later, we learn that the various tribes of Indians were coming in for the purpose of treating, and that a large number of them had collected. Taylor's band, up to that time, had refused to come in in consequence of the exhibition of bad faith which had been shown them by some whites, referred to in another column [below]. They said they were afraid to come in, believing it was but a second device to get them together for the purpose of slaughter.
Mr. Burnett informs us that it was understood that the conditions upon which Gen. Lane was willing to assent to a treaty were that the Indians should give up their arms, all stolen property, and all murderers among them, and consent as soon as practicable to leave the valley; and also to pay the expenses of the war from any annuities which should hereafter be given them by the U.S. government.
Gen. Lane was fast recovering from the effects of his wound, though we notice that he is still compelled to employ an amanuensis. Subjoined is the extract referred to:
"I shall not attempt to give you a detailed account of all the incidents of the war, as you will have heard them from reliable sources before this will reach you. The "talk" has been commenced, and I have no doubt of a treaty being made which will ensure a permanent peace with the main body of the Indians, who are subject to the chiefs Joe, Sam and Jim. No further action is therefore necessary on your part. Gen. Palmer and Mr. Culver arrived yesterday. With many thanks for your kind assistance,
"I am yours respectfully,
LATER.--Terms of Treaty Agreed Upon.--T. McF. Patton, of Jacksonville, arrived here Saturday evening. He left on the 11th. He reports that a treaty had been agreed upon, but not formally entered into, in consequence of which Gen. Lane had dismissed most of the volunteers under his command. He states that the Indians did not give up their arms; that they were to be paid $50,000 for their lands, from which sum was to be deducted $15,000 to pay for property destroyed.
From a letter from S. H. Culver, Indian agent, we learn that it was expected that the Indians would sell off their lands but a small tract upon which they were to be located, and an agent situated among them in which way it was thought further difficulty could be prevented.
If the Indians adhered to their agreement, it is probable that a treaty has ere this been entered into. But if they did not it is possible that hostilities have already been renewed.
LATER YET.--Capt. Nesmith's company has been disbanded, and some of them arrived here on Monday. A treaty has been concluded.
Oregon Statesman, Salem, September 20, 1853, page 2
BAD FAITH.--We regret to learn that a number of "Taylor's" Indians were collected together by a party of whites in Rogue River Valley a short time since, under professions of friendship and pretense of making a treaty, and while engaged in eating a roasted ox, which had been prepared for them, were, by preconcert, fired upon by the whites, and eighteen killed. The remainder, but two in number, succeeded in effecting an escape.
Six or eight of the Grave Creek Indians, we are also informed, were enticed into a house under professions of friendship by some whites, induced to give up their arms, and, thus rendered defenseless, tied and deliberately shot.
Such instances of bad faith and barbarity should be left to the savages, and we are sorry to hear that any of our people have been engaged in them. We hope the reports are but correct, and that the facts will show, at least, some mitigating circumstances. If they shall prove to be true, however, we do not believe the people south will justify such conduct, or should, in a body, be held responsible for it.
Oregon Statesman, Salem, September 20, 1853, page 2
MORE INDIAN NEWS.--A gentleman just in from Rogue River Valley informs us that since the agreement to cease hostilities for seven days, a party of Indians murdered eight white men at or near Long's ferry, and killed forty head of stock. He also informs us that if the Indians come together at Table Rock, the whites will make a treaty of peace with them that will be lasting.
Sacramento Daily Union, September 20, 1853, page 2
The Jacksonville correspondent of the Herald, writing under date of 12th inst., says:
"Well, at last the treaty is made, and the Indians are to be paid $60,000 for the land on this side of Rogue River, and $15,000 of the same is to be withheld and appropriated as an indemnification to some of the citizens of this valley. This treaty, as you are probably aware, has in its present form been pending some four or five days, and as your readers know the particulars of this so-called Rogue River war as well as your humble servant, I shall not attempt to revive the past, for it is neither pleasant nor flattering.
"A treaty has been made, and that it was absolutely necessary under existing circumstances no one will attempt to deny. But the general policy pursued previous to its final consummation is very unsatisfactory, and almost universally condemned.
"After the last battle, in which Gen. Lane and Capt. Alden were wounded, the Indians were allowed an armistice of several days, at the end of which time they were to come in and make peace. If they did not do so, they were threatened with the most dreadful consequences. Instead of their coming in at the time appointed, it was on the 22nd or 23rd day before a sufficient number of them could be prevailed on to come in. But they have come at last, and have agreed to remain on the other side of the river, except when permitted to cross by the Indian agent, who is to reside with them. Tipsey's band is still at large and have thus far refused all overtures. They are still committing their depredations with impunity.
"As yet but a few guns have been brought in, and some $200 in money. They have made no stipulations, however, for the surrender of any prisoners, and common justice cannot otherwise be satisfied for the murder of some of our most valuable citizens! Five hundred men lay idle and inactive for twelve or fourteen days after the armistice had expired, and it was for this reason that the volunteers of your own city, as also the Humbug and Crescent City companies, became dissatisfied and asked or demanded their discharge. . . .
"Capt. Terry and company asked for and received their discharge before the ratification of the treaty. They left in high dudgeon [and] declared their unanimous disapprobation of everything.
"The hospital is still crowded with the sick and wounded. Through the streets may be seen men carrying their arms in splints and bandages, while others seem to be materially assisted in locomotion by the use of crutches.
"Two deaths in private families, from consumption, have transpired with an interval of only two days.
"To say that the town is dull, money scarce, and business nearly stagnant, is only to convey a feeble idea of its general appearance. Merchants, farmers, mechanics and miners have no better employment as yet than to contest the point as to who have suffered the most by the Rogue River war. In a day or two I leave for the coast, and hope to be with you again in the course of three or four weeks and enjoy the rights and privileges of a Yreka citizen."
Sacramento Daily Union, September 26, 1853, page 2
U.S. TROOPS.--The troops under command of Col. Wright have arrived at Fort Jones. They were too late to participate in the Rogue River war.
Sacramento Daily Union, September 26, 1853, page 2
Wells, Fargo & Co. were a little ahead in the delivery of a Yreka Herald this morning. From it we extract the following interesting correspondence from Rogue River country:
Jacksonville, Sept. 14, 1853.Messrs. Editors: Having just returned from an expedition that set out to fight the Indians on Applegate, commanded by Capt. Bob Williams, Rifle Rangers, on Sept. 14th, I have thought proper to give you the details of the expedition.
Arriving on Applegate, we proceeded to obtain information relative to the whereabouts of the Indians. We scouted on different creeks and tributaries emptying on the west side of Applegate, and on the morning of the 7th struck their trail and fresh signs crossing Applegate twelve or fourteen miles below the fort, at the junction of [the] Jacksonville trail with Applegate. At noon we came upon the Indians, but they were so far up the mountainside, among brush, that it was impossible to attack them with success. However, in maneuvering and dispatching small parties in different directions to keep concealed, we succeeded in capturing a prisoner in the evening who proved to be a chief, "Jim Taylor," notorious as a leader in many murders and depredations committed against our fellow citizens. The Indians were careful to keep on the mountainsides, and on the morning of the 8th, finding it impracticable to drive the enemy from their position with success, we concluded to take our prisoner to Halstead's ferry to obtain conclusive evidence of his implication in various murders &c. perpetrated in that vicinity. On his trial he pointedly admitted his guilt, whereon he was executed by a detail of six men on Sept. 9th.
THE FIGHT.--About 3½ or 4 p.m. yesterday, [the] 13th, we came upon them--they firing upon us, concealed in the brush (probably an ambush). Our men spread out as skirmishers, taking refuge behind trees &c. After a pretty hot fire of thirty minutes one of our men, named Thomas Phillips, fell mortally wounded, being shot through the groin. Capt. Williams attempted to outflank them with a party of ten men, but did not succeed, from the density of the thicket and the danger of being shot by his own men if he attempted to charge the thicket. The firing gradually ceased on the part of the enemy at about an hour of sunset, but our men remained at their posts, firing at intervals where an Indian was seen until dark, when the enemy ceased firing entirely. The captain called us from our posts, placing pickets a considerable distance from our "caballada" of horses, to consult whether to charge them at daylight or march for the fort to obtain provisions--the latter was thought best, as the enemy had undoubtedly moved off from the fact of a cessation of firing.
Our wounded comrade being dead, we conveyed his body to the fort and there buried him with honors of war. Thos. Phillips was a native of Chester Co. Pa., Rennett Square township.
The loss of the Indians, as near as could be ascertained, was twelve killed and wounded--probably much more, as the men are excellent shots and behaved with great coolness and decision.
Yours truly,Daily Evening Herald, Marysville, California, September 23, 1853, page 2
WM. S. MENDENHALL.
Affairs in the South.
In other columns of this issue of the Statesman will be found an extended account of transactions in Rogue River, subsequent to former advices, including one of the treaties in full, and an explicit synopsis of the other.
From what we have been able to gather from Capt. Nesmith and his company of volunteers, who have returned to this place, it appears that the public have been under some misapprehension in relation to the true condition of things in that region, and that so far from any general combination or well-organized plans on the part of the Indians to exterminate the whites, or drive them from the country, appearances are quite to the contrary. If they have entertained such purpose they have not exhibited the usual art of the savage in their operations.
The condition of the Indians of Rogue River is anomalous; they have suddenly found themselves surrounded by a white population largely exceeding their own in numbers, engaged in the acquisition of gold, with which the country abounds. Some of the whites, to say the least, are imprudent and reckless men, who expected passive submission from the Indians, under any treatment, while the latter have never had any correct idea of the practice and policy of our government in relation to their race, and consequently have regarded all the whites in their country as lawless intruders, endeavoring to despoil them of their property and rights in an irregular manner. With such impressions it is but natural the even slight provocations should have driven the Indians to retaliatory acts and indiscriminate hostilities.
The immediate cause of the recent outbreak does not appear to be well understood. The Indians allege that the principal reason was the abduction of one of their women by a Mexican by the name of Debusha, who threatened violence to the chief "Jim," because he sought to reclaim her, and that they commenced burning houses without discrimination, by way of retort. One act of aggression brought on another, until the two races found themselves in arms.
Thus existed things when Capt. Alden and Gen. Lane arrived at the scene of difficulties, and with praiseworthy patriotism exerted themselves to defend the country and chastise the Indians, and in prosecution of their purpose followed them into the mountains and fought the battle of the 24th, in which both of those officers, together with several others, were severely wounded and three of their party killed. One of the wounded men has since died. The Indian loss was eight killed, and fifteen wounded, seven of whom have since died. It is said that Capt. Alden led on the attack with great gallantry, and had just shot down an Indian as he himself fell badly, as was then supposed mortally, wounded. Gen. Lane, in leading a charge, received a shot through the right arm just below the shoulder, knocking his gun from his hand. After the fight seven bullet holes were found in his coat. The contest lasted three or four hours without either party gaining any advantage from position; neither flank of the enemy could be turned, owing to the natural obstacles presented by fallen timber which extended from the right to the left from their front, affording the most complete protection, and leaving no alternative to the whites but to charge them in front, and in the teeth of a deadly enfilading fire of large-bored rifles and yagers from the right and left.
The Indians finally called to the whites and inquired who their "tyee" was, and upon being told that it was "Jo Lane," asked for a parley, requesting Lane to come into their camp and talk; which he finally did, at the urgent solicitation of all his men; but protesting all the while that he would rather fight than talk, as he had not come for that purpose. The result of this talk was an agreement upon the terms of the treaty which has since been made.
The proposition for a treaty was submitted to all the men present, and unanimously accepted; the terms of the treaty were likewise submitted to them, and sanctioned without dissent. Since that time Gen. Palmer and Mr. Culver have concluded the treaty and purchased the lands of the Indians. What results will follow remain for time to develop. The most substantial settlers of Rogue River Valley, and those who have the greatest interest at stake, we are assured, manifest satisfaction with the treaty, and express a determination to see that its provisions are faithfully executed; while it is said there is another class who have not participated in the battles, but declare themselves "exterminators," and declare that no treaty shall stand, holding themselves in readiness to shoot down the first Indian they see; that this class are clamorous about the Indians giving up their guns in conformity to the terms agreed upon on the battleground. While the Indians on the contrary evince a disposition to hold on to them, until they have some assurance that they will be safe without them.
The "exterminators" attach great odium to Gen. Lane, on account of the treaty, some of the trifling portion of them denouncing him as a coward and old granny, but these have been careful to keep themselves beyond the range of the Indian rifles.
Judging from the results of the war so far, we are forced to conclude that this matter of "extermination" is easier talked of than executed. In the only two battles that have been fought, the loss on each side has been nearly equal. The Indians are no longer armed with "sharp sticks," but on the contrary have the best rifles in the country, and are active and expert in the use of them, and, taking the battles fought as a criterion, we may calculate, in prosecuting the war, on losing nearly as many lives as the Indians do, and those of our best men, an exchange we should not consider desirable, while peace can be obtained and perpetuated upon honorable terms.
We understand that in addition to the men who were engaged in the two battles referred to, several companies have been constantly in pursuit of Indians in different directions. These companies are composed of brave and experienced mountaineers, good Indian fighters, and generally well officered; but their success in finding and killing Indians presents another argument against the clamor for extermination. We learn that Capts. Miller and Lamerick (of whose conduct all speak in the highest terms of praise), and other officers, with good companies, have been constantly in the saddle since the commencement of the war, but have failed to find the enemy and consequently have killed none.
Capt. Owen, with a company, succeeded in decoying five Indians into Bates' house, on Grave Creek, under the pretense of having a talk, and, after disarming and tying, shot them. This act, together with the killing of a defenseless Indian at the "rancherie" on Grave Creek, are believed to be all accomplished by that company during the war. Capt. Williams, who commanded a company of about thirty men, and has been vigilant in search of the enemy during the war, succeeded in decoying "Jim," the young chief of what is known as "Taylor's Indians," into his camp near Applegate Creek, after the treaty had been agreed upon, and tied him to a tree and shot him. This act of Capt. Williams came very near breaking up the treaty, as an Indian runner arrived on the treaty ground on Monday morning, and detailed the outrage to his tribe in the presence of the seven unarmed whites, who came on the ground for the purpose of making the treaty. The Indians complained of it as an act of bad faith, and said they might retaliate by butchering the seven white men then in their power, but were too honorable to kill unarmed men who had come voluntarily into their camp.
If the "exterminators" are to continue the war they cannot safely calculate upon any such successes as those of Capts. Owen and Williams, as the Indians will hereafter probably object to being disarmed or tied.
After a careful examination of the facts, we are satisfied that the general provisions of the treaty are good, and we are told that the Indians manifest a determination to abide by it. If so, it remains for the whites in Rogue River Valley to determine between the observance of the treaty, or the renewal of the war.
Oregon Statesman, Salem, September 27, 1853, page 2
Incidents of the War.
When Capt. Alden was shot in the battle of the 24th, he fell senseless and was supposed to be dead. While he lay upon the ground the Indians attempted to approach him, probably with the intention of mutilating his body, but the few regulars he had with him protected him and kept them off; one of the soldiers, a sturdy son of Erin, exclaiming to his comrades, "Boys, don't let the bloody redskins have his scalp."
After the armistice was agreed upon the whites and Indians turned their horses loose in a band, and camped together the two succeeding nights upon the battleground, each party having confidence in the other. The Indians, as soon as the firing ceased, carried out water to our wounded men, and furnished a party to assist in conveying the litters with our wounded for 25 miles, through the mountains. This appears to be a new feature in Indian warfare.
Our dead were buried with the honors of war, and when the platoons commenced discharging their rifles over the grave of their fallen comrades, the Indians supposed the armistice broken, and sprang to their rifles, but were quieted upon its being explained that it was our usual custom.
The Indians had news of the approach of the howitzer several days before it reached Rogue River. They said it was a "hyas rifle which required a hat full of powder for a load, and would shoot down a tree." It was an object of great terror to the Indians, and they begged "Jo Lane," as they all call him, not to have it fired!
Oregon Statesman, Salem, September 27, 1853, page 2
Jacksonville, Sept. 13, 1853.Mr. Editor:--The attempt of a few persons who were dissatisfied with Gen. Lane's course in relation to the treaty, to get up an indignation meeting here on last evening, proved an entire failure, consequently some of our valiant men in talk were disappointed in not finding an opportunity to let off steam.
A drunken loafer who never saw powder burnt rode through our streets yesterday, bawling at the top of his voice, "Ten dollars reward to the ladies of Jacksonville if they will present Jo Lane with a petticoat." All observers pitied the poor creature and regarded him as a hero who had purchased his patriotism for a quarter at the neighborhood doggery.
The people are becoming satisfied with the treaty and are returning to their homes. There are some suspicions that the Indians have more credit for house burning than they are entitled to. The Indians say that a "Boston" was in their camp a few nights before the battle and furnished them with ammunition and advised them what course to pursue. They refuse to give his name. It will not be healthy for him if he is found out.
Capt. Alden and others who were wounded are fast recovering. Mining business has been entirely suspended, but is beginning to be resumed.
Never having seen Gen. Lane, my curiosity prompted me to visit his camp day before yesterday. Having seen generals in the States togged out in epaulets, gold lace, cocked hats and long, shining swords, I expected to find something of the kind at "headquarters." But fancy my surprise on being introduced to a robust, good-looking middle-aged man, with his right arm in a sling, the shirt sleeve slit open and dangling bloody from his shoulder, his nether extremities cased in an old pair of grey breeches that looked as though they were the identical ones worn by Gen. Scott when he was "exposed to the fire in the rear." One end of them was supported by a buckskin strap in the place of a suspender, while one of the legs rested upon the top of the remains of an old boot. His hair so twisted, tangled and matted that it would have frightened the teeth out of a currycomb, and set all tonsorial expectations at defiance, was surmounted by the remains of an old forage cap, which, judging from its appearance, might have been worn at Braddock's defeat. This composed the uniform of the old hero who never surrendered.
The "quarters" were in keeping with the garb of the occupant, it being a rough log cabin about 16 feet square with a hole in one side, called a door, and destitute of floor or chimney. In one corner lay a pile of sacks filled with provisions for the troops, in another a stack of guns of all sizes, sorts and caliber, from the old French musket down to the fancy silver-mounted sporting rifle, while in the third sat an old camp kettle, a frying pan, a coffee pot minus a spout, four pack saddles, a dirty shirt, one old shoe, and a moccasin. The fourth corner occupied by a pair of blankets said to be the Genl.'s bed, and on a projecting puncheon just over it lay some articles said to be ammunition for the stomach in the shape of a chunk of raw beef and a wad of dirty dough. In the center of the "quarters" was a space about four feet square for the accommodation of guests. Such being the luxuries of a general's quarters, you may judge something how privates have fared in the war.
"SOCKS."Oregon Statesman, Salem, September 27, 1853, page 2
Headquarters, Camp Alden,Dear Bush.--In my last dispatches I gave you a detailed account of the different engagements which were had with the Indians up to the time the armistice was granted. The armistice has been generally respected in this vicinity by both parties, but the Indians at a distance still continue to commit depredations.
September 2, 1853.
Three Mexicans were shot a few days since and a pack mule captured on Applegate Creek.
Mongo, a half-breed, and Thos. Prewell, were killed and a third man wounded by the Indians near Long's ferry, on Rogue River, on Sunday last, while upon the same day the house of Mr. Raymond, near Jumpoff Joe, was burnt to the ground, consuming with it a great quantity of flour and groceries. Two other houses in the same neighborhood were also burnt.
These outrages were in retaliation for the killing of seven Indians in the house of Mr. Bates, on Grave Creek. A report has just arrived from below that 20 Indians were killed by the whites after they had come in and laid down their arms to treat. Many other rumors are afoot in regard to the acts of the Indians, with which I will not occupy your columns in relating until I ascertain their truth. A few nights ago the people of Jacksonville were greatly alarmed by seeing fires and moving lights quite close to the town. It was supposed that the Indians were about to attack the place and burn it. A strong guard was stationed around the town with orders to fire upon any approaching object. This measure saved the town but--sad to relate--in the morning a white pig was found dead, and a friendly calf seriously wounded, whilst many an unoffending stump gave evidence of the vigilance of the guard and the accuracy of the aim. The sole cause of the consternation was an effort made by parties unknown, to liberate four squaws who were held prisoners in the town. On the following day the squaws were removed to Gen. Lane's headquarters.
A deputation arrived yesterday, with two flags, presented from the ladies of Yreka, to the two companies of volunteers formed in their vicinity, viz: Capt. Goodall's, of Yreka, and Capt. Rhodes', of Humbug. The flags are alike and each bears the name of the company to which it was presented.
They were wrought by the delicate fingers of the fair lady donors themselves. Dr. Gatliff, of the deputation, delivered the flags to Gen. Lane for presentation.
The ceremony of presentation commenced at 2 o'clock, and was conducted throughout by a spirit of intelligence and patriotism well worthy of the occasion, and which is ever found in any assemblage of Americans.
The companies above named accompanied by the Crescent City Guards--as a guard of honor--having paraded a short time, were formed in line in front of the General's headquarters. Gen. Lane, accompanied by his staff, and Col. Ross, Major Alvord, U.S.A., and the other officers upon the ground, and the deputation from Yreka, advanced and took a position in the center of the line. The General, receiving one of the flags from Dr. Gatliff, advanced and presented it to Capt. Goodall, in a brief but very appropriate address. He complimented the company upon their gallant conduct in the field, and their good behavior on all occasions. He said that the alacrity and zeal manifested by the company in leaving their homes and rushing to the protection of the women and children of this valley were properly appreciated by the ladies of Yreka, and that present was as well deserved by the recipients as it was honorable to the donors.
Capt. Goodall received his colors and replied that the honor conferred was duly appreciated--that gallantry in the field was a soldier's first duty, and was always accompanied by gallantry to the ladies, and that his company would carry their flag untarnished--that the eulogy conferred by the General was in itself a high honor, coming as it did from an old veteran, distinguished in many a well-fought field--that his words should be inscribed upon our hearts, as our own American eagle was upon our banner--that he regretted that sickness and the battlefield had decimated one-third of the company, who, could they be here, would know no greater honor than that conferred upon us this day by our General. On behalf of the company, he returned their heartfelt thanks to the ladies of Yreka.
Capt. Goodall's remarks were received with enthusiastic cheers. His delivery was truly eloquent and impressive.
The General next proceeded to present the flag to the Humbug volunteers. He complimented them also upon their gallant conduct, and said that braver troops he never led to victory.
Mr. Van Wyke, on behalf of Capt. Rhodes and the company, replied, returning thanks for the honor conferred upon them by the ladies of Yreka.
The ceremony being concluded, the troops were formed into a hollow square, when Gen. Lane being in the center, proceeded to address the citizens and soldiers upon the events of the war. He commenced by explaining the disposition of the troops and the arrangements made by Capt. Alden, U.S.A., at the time of his arrival at Jacksonville. At the request of Capt. Alden, and by unanimous consent, he undertook the command in chief. Organizing two battalions, he appointed Capt. Alden in the command of one, and at the same time requested him to act as his adjutant general, which the Capt. complied with, and continued to act in this double capacity until, seriously wounded, he was borne from the field of battle. The General here paid a glowing tribute of admiration to the character and services of Capt. Alden. He said: "His heroic conduct, his unflinching devotion, his ready expedients, and animating presence upon the field of battle, and his untiring zeal and unwearied exertions forming out of the plastic material before him a respectable army, are worthy of the highest admiration, and will be cherished in the grateful remembrance of the people as well as of the soldiers who participated in his toil." The General next proceeded to narrate the prominent events of the campaign. He spoke with much feeling of his interview with the chiefs upon the battleground. When he was seen within their breastworks every lip pronounced his name--Jo Lane, Jo Lane--and every swarthy cheek was bathed in tears. The wounded ceased their groaning and the wild Indian of the mountains slank behind a bush or log in fear and awe. He appeared to them as a savior--in him alone could they confide--only Jo Lane could they trust. Old Joe (tyee) advanced to meet him and tell his story of the war. He said his tribe did not commence the war, on the contrary, when they refused to join the Shastas in their war with the whites, they notified the settlers of their danger; that the murders were committed by the Shastas; that it was not until the whites had shot or hung 11 of his tribe, many of whom were pet servants of the town, who were guilty of no offense, did he consent to the war. He said that he was not able to fight with the whites; that he desired peace and would consent to any terms to obtain it. After consulting with his entire force the General told Old Joe that the whites were disposed to give them peace if they would comply with their conditions. An armistice of eight days was the result of the conference, at the expiration of which time both parties were to meet at Table Rock. Now, said the General, this is the day upon which we were to meet, but a message from the Indians informs us that on account of their wounded they cannot arrive until tomorrow. The General next proceeded to remark upon the threats many were making to kill the Indians, whether a treaty was made or not. He hoped none would be so base as to put that threat into execution. If the Indian would not agree to the strictest terms--give up the murderers, and their arms, &c.--then he would give them war--war to the knife, and that to the hilt; but until these negotiations were finished he implored everyone within the reach of his words to have sufficient respect for himself, his country and his race to restrain him from any act of treachery.
The General concluded by thanking the companies of volunteers from Umpqua and Douglas counties for the promptness with which they came to the aid of the people of this valley.
Major Alvord, being introduced by the General, made a few appropriate remarks, but as I fear I have already trespassed too much upon your space I must defer his speech, together with many other interesting matters, until my next.
Oregon Statesman, Salem, September 27, 1853, page 2
The following narrative will be reliable as to fact, and will give the world for the first time the true story of those times. It will be seen that the natives were sinned against as well as sinning, and in some instances were the victims of unwarranted outrage and aggression. Mr. [James C.] Tolman was a settler in 1852. When he had been in the valley about two weeks, and had made his settlement at the north end of Oak Grove, three miles east of Jacksonville, emigrants began to arrive over the Applegate route to Southern Oregon. They made haste to take up land claims and prepare for winter. Four men who crossed with him, who had no families, were anxious to take up mining ground, so he went with them to give the benefit of his experience, gained in California from '49 to '51. He selected a high bar on Applegate Creek, five or six miles above the forks of that stream, where they worked through the winter with moderate success. At the forks of Applegate Creek--where Uniontown now is--Elijah, the Indian chief, lived with his band. As Tolman had agreed to furnish these miners with supplies, he had to pass through this Indian camp on each trip to the mines, which was every ten or twelve days through the winter. In February and March a terrible sickness fell on these Indians, and a lamentable howling was kept up by their doctors for several weeks. As time passed they became cross and impatient, and it was not thought safe to go near them. The cause of this sickness was not divulged until the close of the war of 1853, when it was known that this band of Indians had been in the habit of stealing provisions from the cabin of a man named Davis, who lived southeast of Jacksonville. To avenge himself Davis put poison in a sack containing twelve to fifteen pounds of flour and left it exposed in this cabin. They took and ate the flour, and the mysterious illness was the result.
ONE INDIAN'S VENGEANCE.Making up his mind that war was an inevitable result of existing circumstances, and judging by the conduct of these Indians, Tolman took his good brood mares and mules to California and sold them all there at a fair price, saving only one for the young man with him to ride, and buying a saddle mule for his own use. He had enclosed ten acres of land and planted it in potatoes, corn and oats, leaving a portion for hay that was set thickly in wild clover. About the first of July he went to Coos Bay with an expedition and was gone about a month. Soon after returning, about August 4, 1853, he was summoned on a coroner's jury over a man named Edwards, who was found murdered at his own cabin door, on Bear Creek, about seven miles east of Jacksonville. They found Edwards shot dead, and his face chopped with an [illegible--a fold obscures two lines of type] concluded it was the work of Indians, but saw only signs that one was engaged in the deed.
The coroner's jury returned with a conviction that the horrors of Indian warfare were in the near future. When he reached home Mr. Tolman was informed that Bill Davis, a neighbor, had borrowed his fine riding mule to pursue some Indians, who had robbed his cabin. An hour later Mr. Tenbrook, a neighbor, came in, much excited, and said that Davis and B. Griffin had followed the Indians up Griffin Creek and the Indians "had cleaned them out," wounding the two men and killing Tolman's fine mule. This induced him to prepare for an emergency, and as he was scarce of ammunition he rode to Jacksonville to procure a supply. The news caused excitement there, and a meeting was called for that evening to discuss the situation. Tolman went home to mold bullets, but he learned that towards evening a shot was fired close to town, on the Yreka trail, and cries for help heard. There was a rush to the rescue, and they found that a Jacksonville merchant named Wills had been shot from his horse by an Indian sheltered behind a tree. The meeting was held "with blood in every eye." So much had occurred that very day that the public mind was wrought up to a fierce excitement. A resolution was adopted, among other matters, to exterminate the Indians--every man was to kill his Indian wherever he could be found. In the excitement of the hour no man recollected the strength of the Indians and how poorly the whites were prepared to enter on an Indian war.
EXTERMINATING THE INDIANS.Scouting for Indians began the next day, but people had gradually taken a second, sober thought over the proposition to exterminate the Indian race. One unsophisticated man was an exception, for he seemed not to have cooled off. This Brown understood the resolution to be unanimously carried and accepted it as law. He supposed men in convention meant what they said, and coming across a tame Indian who was living with a farmer down the valley, he "drew a bead" on him and fired. The Indian dropped and with possum-like forbearance lay quiet while his victor tore his scalp off--it might be termed Spartan-like by some writers--for the possum lies still and plays death under the greatest difficulties. When the victor was gone the Indian also rose and found his way to his friends. It may be well enough to say here that he recovered to be a wiser if not a better man.
It was soon found that the thing most necessary to be done was to provide for the defense of women and children, to shelter the families during the war that was inevitable. Tolman went to work to provide a safe place of refuge for his own family and some of his neighbors. For this purpose he put up a blockhouse, sixteen feet square on the ground, with loopholes for the riflemen. The families were safely housed in the upper part, which was a projection all round and was nearly twenty feet square. He had a rick of perhaps fifty tons of hay; to guard this he put up a small house not over fifty yards from the blockhouse. So all his premises were well guarded. There were four men there besides himself. Two were miners who were waiting [for] safe travel to get out of the country. The others were Tenbrook and Coffin, whose families were housed above. Mrs. Abel George and children were also there, while her husband was with the volunteers. One night before the blockhouse was up he saw at one time five homes burning down the valley and thought the Indians were making a raid its whole length. Four men watched from the roof of a cabin. One of them slipped off and came where they were sleeping and said in a stage whisper: "Get ready; the grove is full of Indians," meaning a grove of trees nearby. He hurried back to the shed, and all hands in the cabin went to work to prepare for war. The families were stowed aloft. They fixed a place in the corner, covered by a blanket, for Coffin to load (no cartridges in those days), while Tolman should fire, as they only had two guns. The cabin they were in only had one small window. Petrie got sick and lay down on a rude lounge there was [sic]. Then followed an hour of deathly silence, but no Indians came to [that] time.
Ball's companions finally learned the fact of his false alarm and explained that he could only have heard cattle in the grove and the sticks breaking under their tread caused him his fright. Afterwards they put out fires in the grove as a precaution. These incidents show how matters are managed in Indian wars.
JACKSONVILLE IN 1853.Jacksonville was then a village of 1000 inhabitants who lived in board houses of flimsy build. The only safe place in town was a cellar. Sometimes those on guard would get up a false alarm and shoot at stumps or a black hog, in a dark night. Women and children would then be jammed into the cellar in a hurry. At first hostilities were scattering, and many natives preferred peace who were afterwards forced into the war by circumstances. There was a class of irresponsible Indians, as of reckless and irresponsible whites, while the majority of each race would have preferred peace by all means. Reckless whites, who had nothing to lose, either as to property or family, could perpetrate some act of cowardly butchery and leave families of settlers to suffer massacre for their crimes. Then again, and in the case of Gibbs (to be told), an Indian would rob and murder his best friend at times. If the best white men and Indians could have managed matters there would have been no war on Rogue River at any time.
When the blockhouse was up Tolman felt safe. He went to Jacksonville, where people remonstrated with him for his recklessness, but he could not appreciate their interest in his behalf. One gentleman (since then resident of Salem) was indignant because he refused to be taken in--to Jacksonville. He said: "Bring your family here or we won't protect you." He thought they would need his assistance as soon as he theirs. There was a fact that explains Tolman's security at a time when others were burned out and robbed. He had never permitted the Indians about his place. Whilst he was kind he was never familiar; all through the troubles he never saw an Indian sign within half a mile of his house. His blockhouse sheltered four families all through the war of 1853.
AN INDIAN WITH A GRIEVANCE.The immediate cause of the outbreak of 1853 has only been partially explained. The Indian who killed Edwards and who shot Wills had a grievance. He laid claim to a woman who lived with a Frenchman. He went to this man and claimed his squaw, but met with a rebuff from the man and a friend who was with him. Then he went to Judge Skinner, who was Indian agent, who explained to him that he had no military force at hand to enforce claims, however, just, and could not help him. He condoled with him, but that did not give him a woman to pack his firewood and do the small chores about his camp. The irate siwash went away breathing threatenings and slaughter, but no one put much faith in his threats until they learned of their fulfillment. One would think he would have haunted the ways of the Frenchman, the woman and the friend who helped to bluff him. The woman could have gone with him if it suited her to do so, but would not. Instead of lying in ambush for the Frenchman and woman, he started off up Bear Creek, cursing the white race. The first victim was a fat ox. This he killed and left. The next was Edwards, who set at evening with his chair leaning against the cabin wall. The next evening he shot Wills. It was finally proven that this savage killed ten men before the end of the war, and no Frenchman or squaw was included in his bloody reprisals. He watched the trails and hid himself in ambush to slay and kill. Here was an instance where the vices of a white man, not an American, brought on war and fearful loss of property and life.
HAULING IN THE WOUNDED.Having about the only spring wagon in the valley, Tolman undertook to haul the wounded to the hospital at Jacksonville. Learning of the massacre at the Alberding ranch, where Indians, who had voluntarily surrendered, rose and massacred some and wounded a number, and knowing that doctors were afraid to venture there, he went up to bring down the wounded, among whom was P. Dunn, his personal friend. Henry Overbeck also went with his wagon. They found a log house, 20x22 feet square, and the floor literally covered with blood that had dried hard. The wounded men lay all over the floor, in the corners and the middle. Several of these were emigrants that were lately arrived off the plains. They gathered the wounded; the emigrants did the same with their wagons and started for Fort Wagner, towards Jacksonville [near Wagner Creek in Talent]. When halfway there they discovered that one of the wounded had died. He had a wife and two children; they and Overbeck's aunt were in the same wagon, and their "plunder." Going down a steep place one of the horses threw himself off the grade. The wagon was upset and its freight of living, dead and wounded were piled into the gulch and the wagon tongue broken off. It was a hard task to get everything back in place again. Each looked for his own, and they were widely scattered. They all the time expected to be attacked by Indians, but that trouble was saved them.
AN UNGRATEFUL SAVAGE.They reached the fort a little after night, and Mr. Gibbs died before they could get him out. The only word he uttered was the name of the brute who killed him. This Indian had [illegible--a fold obscures a line of type] had only recently interfered, at great risk, to protect his life when white men would have hanged him. This was a case of the grossest ingratitude. This base scoundrel had betrayed and slain his best friend. He snatched the gun Gibbs carried out of his hand and shot him with it, he not having the least suspicion of his intention, while the Indians at the Alberding rendezvous were rising to massacre those they [had] surrendered to. The mistake made there was holding the squaws as hostages. They were allowed to talk to people of their tribes who came near on the mountain, and thus made arrangements for their rescue and the massacre of the whites. Indians never assault a place of which they have no knowledge of the inside and of the character of the defenses. In his experience with Iowa Sioux Tolman learned something of Indian character. It taught him to always hold them as strangers, never to allow them to enter the camp, nor see the inside of his cabin, and he did not even let them enter his dooryard all the time he had lived in Rogue River Valley. The consequence was that no Indian tracks were seen near his premises during the war. After burying the dead, the next day they took their remaining wounded in to Jacksonville. [For other accounts of the Alberding affair, see here and here.]
TOLMAN TRIES TO LEAVE OREGON.
Mr. Tolman only tells of matters that came under his personal observation, or that were approved and accepted as facts at the time. Many versions have been published of that war, but not the entire truth given. He declines to give many interesting incidents because he does not believe they were perfectly substantiated. Like the war against slavery, it had to come. The claims of Indians and whites conflicted, and fiery natures and reckless characters on both sides precipitated events. The war seemingly closed by treaty, but it had more the appearance of an armistice for an indefinite time. Being desirous to commence stock raising, without being interrupted by Indian outbreaks, he concluded to wind up business and go to California by way of Coos Bay, and while there to clear up an investment made there for the interest of two young men. He had two land claims in Rogue River Valley, for one of which he paid $400 and for the other $500. These he sold for $5500, and the growing crop of potatoes, hay and oats brought $2100 more. He left for Coos Bay in the fall of 1853. During the eleven months he was there only one vessel entered the bay, [and] at a time when Tolman was not able to leave on her, and not knowing when another was expected to come in, he returned with his family to Rogue River Valley in the fall of 1854. In October he bought the Alberding ranch, stock, grain and everything the bachelor had for $8500. Falling in with the prevailing opinion that there would be no more Indian trouble, he ventured $3000 in cattle and a team to run the ranch. He put in a large crop that winter and had a profitable harvest."Pioneer Days," Morning Oregonian, March 28, 1886, page 2
One episode out here against the American flag is worthy of our notice. The flag was threatened with an indignity that would have been one of the unfortunate mistakes of our history--but a tall cliff loomed up against the storm and caught the tempest and hurled it back.
Our little army of seven or eight hundred men was drawn up in a hollow square one afternoon at headquarters on the north branch of Rogue River upon a day appointed for the presentation of flags. I was standing then in the ranks there as a soldier in the service of the United States and deeply interested in the proceedings. At the conclusion of a sweep of thrilling martial music an officer stepped out in front of a company, unfolding to the breeze a beautiful flag. Standing beneath its waving stars and stripes he spoke substantially as follows:
Fellow Soldiers: --I have the honor, upon this important occasion of presenting to you this magnificent American flag. Upon its proud folds you will behold a beautiful and impressive inscription. Those silken letters were embroidered there by the delicate fingers of lovely women--God bless them! That inscription expresses their sentiments--we shall accept them and make them ours and bravely bear them aloft before the world until there is not a red devil in human form to be found in all this land. These fiends that we have fed at our doors have repaid our kindness with ingratitude, treachery and murder. They have swept out settlements all along the road stretching between Oregon and California, from the Umpqua canyon to Rock Point, a distance of more than fifty miles. At one fell swoop, in the dead hours of the night, they murdered all these people--men, women and children--and left their homes and property in ashes. Their blood calls to us from the ground. We mean to avenge this awful, ghastly outrage. Nothing short of the sentiment emblazoned upon this flag will answer the requirements of the case. Our situation here is well calculated to try the hearts of brave men. Here we are with our little army less than a thousand strong--we stand here on the banks of this beautiful river. With its clear waters shaded with beautiful trees it winds its way between the homes of civilized people and the war camps of savages. We are on guard. We send our boys up the river and down the river and they are on the alert night and day to keep these savages from crossing above or below us and falling upon and exterminating the settlements in a single night. We hold the enemy at bay. Like a crouching tiger he is ready to spring past us, to the right or the left of us and bathe his jaws in the blood of his victims, or, else boldly charge us upon the front. There is no flinching. We are ready--let him come! As near as we can be certain by our scouts there are in front of us, just back of this Table Rock--this grand landmark that majestically looks down up on us to-day--there are no less than three thousand painted warriors, thirsting for our blood, armed as well as we are and ready to descend upon us, like an overwhelming avalanche at any hour. If the worst comes to the worst we expect no quarter. We shall give none! Read our motto on this flag! It reads Extermination! This is a war of races--a war of extermination. If they can they will exterminate us. If they could they would. But thank God they cannot. The wild man must pass away before the white man. Extermination is the final end and that motto we shall carry upon our banner until this great work is finished! Therefore, brothers in arms, here is your flag.
Three or four of these presentations took place, and the presentation speeches, though made by different orators, were all of about the same general style. When these exercises had concluded and the fierce and wild cheering had subsided and all became quiet, I saw some of the officers take hold of Gen. Lane, who had all this time been sitting in a chair towards one corner of the square surrounded by a group of officers and quietly observing the proceedings as they took place before him. They assisted him to his feet, and in a loud, clear and smooth voice he began to address the army. He looked uncommonly tall to me that day, and venerable and commanding. He was pale from the loss of blood, for he had received a severe wound in his shoulder but a few days before, so he had therefore but one arm to wave in emphasis of his impressive remarks. He substantially said:
Fellow Soldiers: --First of all we should never forget, under any circumstances or on any occasion, that we are citizens of the United States of America. Whatever public occasion we participate in, whether in the crowded cities or on the borders of civilization or far out among the savages--wherever we may be, first of all we are under obligations as American citizens to maintain the dignity, the justice and honor, the mercy and humanity of the most civilized people on the face of the earth.
Much has been said about the American flag. I say that the American flag is the most glorious banner ever unfolded to the light of heaven or gazed upon by the eyes of man. It represents protection. It represents decency. It represents light and knowledge and honor and courage and civilization, and every good and great aspiration of the human soul. It is the badge of our nationality and of the Union. If we make war under the American flag it is for the defense of the rights of man and the protection of our people. This flag knows no race, no tribe, no creed, no particular order of men--it stands for all our people, here and everywhere. Our glorious flag represents no war of races--no extermination of any people! That declaration is against the doctrine of the American flag. We as American citizens cannot accept any such a principle. That is the doctrine of savages, not of civilization. Any man who accepts any such a motto as that does dishonor to the Christian mother that gave him suck! It is with great pain--it is with humiliation and shame that I behold any such inscription emblazoned upon our American flag!
It is a mistake--a great mistake. The ladies--God bless the ladies--they have made a mistake. We owe it to them, we owe it to everybody, we owe it to the civilized races and nations of all mankind--we owe it fellow citizens of the United States of America--we owe it to ourselves, right here and now, to correct this great mistake and most painful blunder.
We simply have our duty to do here; but I am proud to know that I address brave men. Behind us are the women and children of these settlements, before us are collected the fierce warriors of all this surrounding country. If they assault us we shall repulse them with great loss. In the meantime reinforcements are on the way, and from hour to hour the Indian's mind is grappling with a greater fact--that his attempt to eradicate the white man is hopeless and futile. In less than fifteen days he will realize it. Then we will reach an understanding with him; he will make a treaty of peace. Stop the effusion of blood and the accumulation of expenses against the government. This secures the happiness and the prosperity of the settlements. This is a success. This is what the people of the nation have a right to expect of us. This we can proudly and gloriously do in the carrying out of those great and humane principles of which the immortal stars and stripes are the imperishable emblem. So my fellow soldiers--companions in arms--we have camped together, we have fought and bled together, now take the advance of as good a friend as you possess on the face of this earth. Take those flags that are marred and spoiled by a grievous mistake--take them quietly and fold them up, lay them silently away and let them be forever forgotten as deeply buried in the bottom of oblivion!
We silently bowed our heads. We were deeply touched--subdued. One man had subdued an army! He presented a splendid picture as he stood there surrounded by his officers and men, his iron gray hair drifting about his head in the passing breeze. I thought of the giant oak that lifts itself above the common trees of the forest. I thought of the "--Tall cliff that lifts its awful form / Swells from the vale and midway leaves the storm."
Always after this circumstance I regarded Gen. Lane as a great man. This was the end of the furor of extermination. The plan of the general was carried out, and according to his request the flags seemed to be forgotten. I never heard a man from that day on mention them. But I had occasion in 1878 to call the circumstances up. It occurred in this wise:
During the political campaign of the spring of 1878 the Democrats of Lane County invited Gen. Lane to come and deliver a speech at the court house in Eugene City; I was invited by the Republicans to meet him there. The general made a great speech upon this occasion, occupying some three hours; and, I think, this was the last political speech he ever made. In answer to his strictures on the Republican Party in regard to its national Indian policy I called up this flag affair of 1853. I recalled in his presence this simple speech upon the presentation of the flags of extermination; I also recalled his speech upon that occasion asking him if he would verify my statements. He got up before that great audience and said that every word I had stated was true and that "what the general says I said upon that occasion I said."
Ladies and gentlemen, I believe this settles a precedent in regard to the American flag and flags generally in this country, and suggests a proper disposition of those that express an antagonistic principle to that of the American flag. They should not be deceived. If this had been observed there had been no rebel flags to be taken on the field.
E. L. Applegate, Fourth of July oration, Ashland Tidings, July 15, 1887, page 1
Headquarters, Camp Alden,Dear Bush:--On Saturday last Old Joe and Sam (tyees), accompanied by the wise woman of their tribe, arrived at headquarters and held a "wawa" with Gen. Lane, in which the preliminaries of the treaty were concluded. There were present at the council Major Alvord and Capt. Smith, U.S.A., Colonel Ross, Captain Mosher, Capts. Miller, Goodall, Martin, Rhodes and Applegate. Besides those above named the Indians were represented by Ben, the heir apparent and son of Old Joe, four young squaws--hostages--and three warriors.
September 7, 1853.
The General and others, through Mr. Metcalfe, interpreter, closely interrogated the chiefs as to the cause of their hostility. They replied that they were entirely ignorant of the cause of war. That the first news they heard was that the whites were hanging and shooting every Indian who fell into their hands; that if whites were murdered in the first instance, they were innocent of the crime, and it must have been a party of Shastas who were the guilty party. They said they heard that the whites wished to kill them all, and they then thought that their only recourse was to take up arms and fight. They said that before taking up arms they applied to Skinner for protection, but he told them he was tyee no more; that they were glad Jo Lane was here, that they had known him before, and that he had never lied to them, and therefore they would trust in him and make a treaty in good faith.
Not a syllable was elicited implicating either Old Joe or Sam, or any of the Indians under their immediate control, with any of [the] acts which led to the war.
On Sunday Gen. Lane, accompanied by several officers, and Capt. Smith's company of U.S. dragoons, visited Joe's camp some six miles distant, for the purpose of concluding the treaty; but as all the warriors were not yet assembled, three days more were allowed Joe, for the purpose of visiting his people and gathering them in, but he was informed that if at the expiration of that time he was not ready to treat hostilities would recommence.
Nothing of great importance has transpired since my last. The excitement is fast cooling down, and a desire for peace is gradually succeeding the desire for blood. The whites are suffering severely; their homes are deserted, their stock scattered abroad and entire ruin staring them in the face. They see but one alternative--peace, whilst many of those who have come to their assistance from a distance see another alternative--extermination, and in one instance have inscribed it upon their banner, and were they not restrained by the only man in Oregon who possesses the ability, their acts would be in accordance with their motto. There are some respectable men who advocate extermination, but they will live to repent it.
When the excitement shall have passed, I will write you a chapter upon "The Heroes of the War." I will see their acts to the end and should they not receive their due it will not be for the want of candor on the part of
Oregon Statesman, Salem, September 27, 1853, page 2
Camp Alden, Rogue River, O.T.Sir:--I have the honor to report to you of my safe arrival at this camp today, with the greater part of the ammunition and the gun, and take great pleasure in acknowledging the obligation I am under for the assistance you have afforded me through Capt. Nesmith and his company, without which it would have been utterly impossible for me to have gone through in the comparatively short time that I did, and had I been left entirely to my own limited resources, I do not think that I could have got through at all. The Captain was necessarily much detained by his instructions to remain with the gun, and the detention was increased by the bad weather. Had it not have rained, we would have reached our destination in ten days from Salem. It was an arduous task to get the carriages along, and frequently required the twelve mules and all the men that could get round to get one of the wagons up the hills. The men did exceeding good service, and for four days were constantly at the wheel. In the Canyon, they were for the greater part of two days in mud and water, and quite a number of the men were afterwards taken sick in consequence of the exposure thus incurred. Captain Nesmith himself was foremost at the wheel, and his example did much toward contenting the men with their hardships, and everything toward getting the gun through. Nothing has occurred since we started requiring the use of the gun here, except perhaps the moral effect of its presence upon the Indians, in which Gen. Lane seems to have great confidence, and he has expressed himself exceedingly well pleased with its arrival. With many thanks for your kindness and renewed acknowledgment of my obligations, I remain with great respect,
Sept. 9th, 1853.
Your obedient servant,To Hon. George L. Curry,
AUGUST V. KAUTZ,
2nd Lt., 4th Infantry
Acting Governor, O.T., Salem, O.T.
Oregon Statesman, Salem, September 27, 1853, page 1
LETTER FROM FORT JONES.
"Fort Jones, Cal., Sept. 19th, 1853."I avail myself of the express passing this morning to write you a few lines. We left Benicia on the 29th ult., with so little notice that I had no time to write you, and of course have heard nothing from you, but have on your account looked occasionally at the prices current for the price of flour, and in finding the price coming down, have wondered whether you had got rid of your stock at the high rates or were still holding on for higher rates. The amount of wheat raised in California this year no doubt sensibly diminishes the demand for importations. Even up here on the Oregon line, I find some dependence placed on home productions, and another year's growth will nearly furnish this country, without depending upon San Francisco. At present, however, this region and nearly all remote points are as yet poorly supplied, and as purchases must soon be made, I would not be surprised to see the article of flour take another rise, though this must no doubt depend upon the supply. You have no doubt heard more or less of the Indian troubles, on account of which we came here. There have been several fights, in only one of which were any government troops, and that was the one in which Capt. Alden received his wound. It seems he had joined and taken command of about 200 volunteers to make war upon the Indians upon Rogue River and the Chief Sam, who held himself in readiness for a fight, and in attacking him he was so situated that it was desirable to make a charge upon his party and dislodge them before being able to fight them upon fair terms. The charge was ordered, and Alden and Gen. Lane headed it, and were followed by only six men, all of whom (with one exception, I believe) were U.S. soldiers of Alden's company, eight of whom he had taken with him from this post, being all that were then well enough to go. These eight who made the charge were soon overpowered and driven back, Alden receiving a serious wound. He is getting well, and we have just learned is on his way to this post on a litter. A treaty has been made with Sam, and we are here waiting further intelligence upon the necessity of going on to Rogue River. Several other little fights have taken place between the Indians and volunteers, in which the Indians came off best, and some movements of this sort are still going on at a number of points above here, and have grown out of some thefts committed, or alleged to have been committed, by the Indians. Whether we are to inquire into these matters and attempt to punish guilty Indians, or tribes not actually hostile, depends upon the high functionaries who are supposed to possess a wisdom corresponding to their position and responsibilities, but a display of which I fear we are to look for in vain. Col. Wright, of the 4th Infantry, is our immediate commander, and will direct our movements. We reached here day before yesterday. If we do not go on further, it is probable we shall return before long and again take station at Benicia.
Yours truly, N. LYON.Daily Alta California, San Francisco, October 1, 1853, page 1
FROM ROGUE RIVER--INDIAN TREATY.--The latest accounts from Jacksonville state that the miners had resumed work, and were making $8 and $10 per day. A treaty with the Indians had been concluded, and no further difficulties were apprehended. Capt. Nesmith's company was disbanded.
"Thirteen Days Later from Oregon," Sacramento Daily Union, October 4, 1853, page 4
THE ROGUE RIVER COUNTRY.--The Mountain Herald, of the 1st inst., in an article on the treaty lately perfected with the Indians in the Rogue River country, says:
"The Rogue River war, for the present, at least, is over--the hatchet has been buried--peace has been concluded, and the inhabitants of the valley have returned to their peaceful homes, once more to resume their respective industrial avocations. But we fear, from a knowledge of the character of the Indians of this part of the country, that peace will be of but short duration. These Indians cannot, nor will they, observe a treaty, until they are more severely flogged. They are yet saucy, and this and their thieving propensities, together with the natural animosity which always has existed, and which has been soured by the recent war, will not let them rest quiet one year. All experience has taught us that the whites and Indians in this quarter cannot live harmoniously together. Indians will steal, and no white man will have his property stolen with impunity.
"The last breakout was a premeditated affair with them--an attack upon the whites which they had been preparing for months before, and one in which they were all combined and agreed; and, in our humble estimation, they do not intend to give up but a very small portion of their guns and ammunition, according to promise. They have been very tardy in fulfilling their promises so far, at least.
"As to the promises of an Indian, they are but empty words--the best of them will not tell the truth when an untruth will answer their purpose better. As one instance of this, old Joe tells Gen. Lane that old Tipsey had persuaded his men into this war, &c. Old Tipsey tells Gen. Lane that he never has done the whites any harm, but is in the mountains armed for his own protection--when every man who knows anything of the affair knows that they were combined, and that they had a mutual understanding."
Sacramento Daily Union, October 6, 1853, page 3
Gen. Lane's Report.
Jacksonville, Sept. 20, 1853.
George L. Curry, Governor of Oregon, Sir:--I have the honor herewith to enclose a copy of a communication to Gen. Hitchcock, Commanding Military Department, Pacific Coast, detailing operations of forces under my command in the late difficulties with the Rogue River Indians.
I am, sir, with great respect,
Your ob't. serv't.,
Headquarters, Camp Alden,Gen. Hitchcock, Military Dept.
Rogue River, Oregon, Sept. 16, '53.
San Francisco, California.
Sir:--On the 17th of August, I received information at my residence in Umpqua Valley that the Rogue River Indians, assisted by the Klamaths, Shastas, the bands living on Applegate and Grave creeks, had united and attacked the settlements in Rogue River Valley, near Jacksonville--that a number of persons had been killed, a large amount of stock killed or driven off, and houses and grain burned; and that companies were being formed for the defense of the settlements, and for the purpose of a general war upon the Indians. I promptly notified the citizens of the neighborhood, and advised with Maj. Alvord, who was then present engaged in the location of the road from Myrtle Creek to Camp Stuart, and immediately proceeded, accompanied by Capt. Armstrong, Messrs. Clugage, Nichol and some ten others, to the scene of hostilities. On the 21st, I arrived at the headquarters of our forces, on Stuart Creek, where I found Captain Alden, 4th Inf., who had promptly, upon the first information being received by him, at Fort Jones, on Scotts River, repaired to Jacksonville with ten men of his command (all who were fit for duty) and forthwith proceeded to take energetic measures for an active and effective campaign, by appointing four Commissioners of Military Affairs, and mustering into service all the volunteers for whom arms could be procured. His force, on my arrival, consisted of companies under captains Goodall, Miller, Lamerick and Rhodes, commanded by Col. John Ross, the whole under the command of Col. Alden. These troops had been actively engaged in scouring the country in all directions, and had succeeded in driving the main body of the Indians to their strongholds in the mountains; pack trains were being collected in view of an extended pursuit of the Indians, and all other preparations were being made with the utmost dispatch.
At the request of Col. Alden and the troops I assumed the command of the forces, and on the 22nd, at 4 o'clock, a.m., left camp for the mountains, having divided the command into two battalions in order better to scour the whole country. One battalion composed of captains Miller's and Lamerick's companies, under the command of Col. Ross, were directed to proceed up Evans Creek (which empties into Rogue River from the north) and continue on, if no traces of the Indians were found, until the two detachments should meet at a point designated, but if the trail was found, to follow it, and bring the Indians to battle. At the head of the other battalion, composed of captains Goodall's and Rhodes' companies, commanded by Col. Alden, I proceeded by the way of Table Rock in the direction of the point designated on Evans Creek. After advancing about fifteen miles beyond Table Rock, I discovered the trail of the Indians, and encamped upon it. I took up the line of march early the next morning, and followed the trail with great difficulty, the Indians having used every precaution to conceal it; the country was exceedingly mountainous and almost impossible for animals, and as the Indians had fired the country behind them, the falling of the burning timber and the heat delayed our progress, while the dense smoke prevented us from ascertaining with certainty the face of the country. About noon we came to the place at which they had encamped a few nights before, by the side of a stream in a dense forest; here they had killed a mule and a horse they had captured in a battle some days previous, and used them for provisions. From this point we had more difficulty in finding their trail, it having been very carefully concealed and the mountains lately fired, but after some delay we again struck it. Late in the evening we came to the main fork of Evans Creek (now called Battle Creek) where we came to a spot at which the Indians had again encamped. Beyond this all trace of the Indians seemed to be lost; and, after searching in vain for the trail until dark, we were forced to encamp. The valley was very narrow and almost entirely covered with an impenetrable thicket of maple vines, leaving scarcely room for the men to lie down on the bank of the creek. The animals were closely tied to the bushes, there being no grass or forage of any kind. The command was ready to move by daylight; a party on foot early discovered the trail, and after cutting out the brush for nearly a quarter of a mile, we succeeded in reaching it with the animals. About a mile farther up we crossed Battle Creek and ascended a high, steep mountain which forms the dividing ridge of the numerous branches running into Rogue River. This part of the country had not been fired. About 9 o'clock, a.m., we arrived at another Indian camp on the ridge, at a spring, very difficult of access, on the side of a mountain. On leaving this camp, we found that the woods had been recently fired, which induced me to believe that the Indians were not far in advance of us. About a half a mile from the spring, as I was riding slowly in front, I heard the crack of a rifle in the direction of the enemy--without halting I proceeded to a point commanding the rapid descent of the trail from the mountain, and halting, could hear persons talking in their camp about four hundred yards distant, in a dense forest thick with underbrush, which entirely obstructed the view. As the troops came up, they were ordered in a low voice to dismount, tie their animals and prepare for battle. Col. Alden, at the head of Captain Goodall's company, was directed to proceed on the trail, and attack the enemy in front, while a portion of Capt. Rhodes' company were directed to follow a ridge running to the left of their trail, and turn their flank. Col. Alden proceeded to engage them in the most gallant manner, his well-directed fire being the first intimation of our approach. It being found impracticable to turn their flank, Capt. Rhodes proceeded at once engaged them on their right. The men were deployed, taking cover behind the trees, and the fight became general. I was delayed a few minutes on the hill for the arrival of the rear guard; these were dismounted, and all except fifteen men I immediately led into action. On arriving on the ground, I found Col. Alden, who had been shot down early in the fight, dangerously wounded, in the arms of his faithful sergeant, and surrounded by a few of his own men. The battle was now raging with great fierceness, our men coolly pouring in their fire, unshaken by the hideous yells and war whoops of the Indians, or by their rapid and more destructive fire. After examining the ground and finding that the enemy were securely posted behind trees and logs and concealed by underbrush, and that it was impossible to reach them except when they carelessly exposed their persons in their anxiety to get a shot at our men, I determined to charge them. I passed the order, led forward in the movement, and within thirty yards of their position received a wound from a rifle ball, which struck my right arm near the shoulder joint, and, passing entirely through, came out near the point of the shoulder. Believing at the time that the shot came from the flank, I immediately ordered our line to be extended to prevent the enemy from turning our flank, and the men again to cover themselves behind trees. This position was held for three or four hours, during which time I talked frequently with the officers and men, and found them cool and determined on conquering the enemy. Finding myself weak from loss of blood, I retired to the rear to have my wounds examined and dressed. While here the Indians cried out to our men, many of whom understood their language, that they wished for a talk; that they desired to fight no longer; that they were frightened and desired peace. Mr. Tyler was dispatched by Capt. Goodall to inform me of the desire of the Indians to cease firing and make peace. By this time, Robert Metcalfe and James Bruce had been sent into their lines to talk, and having informed them that I was in command, they expressed a great desire to see me. Finding that they were much superior in numbers, being about two hundred warriors, well armed with rifles and muskets, well supplied with ammunition, and knowing that they could fight as long as they saw fit and then safely retreat into a country exceedingly difficult of access, and being desirous of examining their position, I concluded to go among them.
On entering their lines, I met the principal chief, Joe, and the subordinate chiefs, Sam and Jim, who told me that their hearts were sick of war, and that they would meet me at Table Rock in seven days, when they would give up their arms, make a treaty and place themselves under our protection. The preliminaries having been arranged, the command returned to the place where they had been dismounted--the dead were buried and the wounded cared for. By this time Col. Ross with his battalion arrived, having followed our trail for some distance. This gallant command were anxious to renew the attack upon the Indians, who still remained in their position, but as the negotiations had proceeded so far, I could not consent. That night was spent within four hundred yards of the Indians, and good faith was observed on both sides. At the dawn of day, I discovered that the Indians were moving and sent to stop them until a further talk had been held. Accompanied by Colonel Ross and other officers, I went among them and became satisfied that they would faithfully observe the agreements already made. By the advice of the surgeon, we remained that day and night upon the battle ground, and then returned to Table Rock.
Too much praise cannot be awarded to Col. Alden. The country is greatly indebted to him for the rapid organization of the forces, when it was entirely without defense. His gallantry is sufficiently attested by his being dangerously wounded while charging at the head of his command, almost at the enemy's lines. Captains Goodall and Rhodes, with their companies, distinguished themselves from the beginning to the end of the action; for their cool and determined bravery--no troops could have done better. The command of Col. Ross, under Captains Miller and Lamerick, although too late to participate in the action, made a severe march through the mountains and arrived on the ground one day sooner than I expected them--their presence was of great assistance to us.
Our loss in the battle was three killed--Pleasant Armstrong, John Scarborough and Isaac Bradley--and five badly wounded--Col. Alden, myself, and privates Chas. C. Abbe (since dead), Henry Flesher and Thomas Hays. The Indians lost eight killed and twenty wounded, seven of whom we know to have since died.
Soon after my return from the mountains, Capt. A. J. Smith, 1st Dragoons, arrived at camp with his troop from Port Orford--his arrival was most opportune; his presence during the negotiations for a peace was of great assistance, while his troops served to overawe the Indians.
The Governor of the Territory, upon the first information being received by him, promptly ordered out a company under Capt. Nesmith, and sent them as an escort for a large quantity of arms and ammunition which were procured from Ft. Vancouver and purchased elsewhere. Capt. Nesmith arrived after the negotiations had been commenced, but was of great service to me from his intimate knowledge of the Indians and their language. Lieutenant Kautz, 4th Inf., accompanied Capt. Nesmith, and had in charge a twelve-pound howitzer and caisson, which he brought safely into camp, although the road is a very difficult one and seldom traveled by wagons.
A treaty of peace has been made with the Indians, and I have no doubt that with proper care it can be strictly maintained. The tribe is a very large one, and to a great extent controls the tribes in this part of the country--a peace with them is a peace with all. This, in my opinion, can only be perfectly secured by the presence of a considerable military force in this valley. I would therefore most earnestly recommend the establishment of a military post in the Rogue River Valley without delay.
To Robert Metcalfe, who acted for me as scout and guide, I am indebted for the faithful discharge of his duty. John Cosby, James Bruce and George W. Tyler did good service in the same capacity.
On the expedition to the mountains, from the 22nd to the 26th, W. G. T'Vault, Esq., acted as my volunteer aide. At that time, Capt. C. Sims joined the command and handsomely performed the duties of assistant adjutant general until the 29th, when compelled by sickness to resign. Since that time, Captain Mosher, late of the 4th Ohio Vols., has performed the duties of that office.
Dr. Ed. Sheil, Geo. Dart, Richard Dugan and L. A. Davis, the commissioners appointed by Col. Alden, were most active in the discharge of their duties, and kept the command supplied with provisions, transportation and other necessaries for carrying on the war.
Maj. Chas. S. Drew, assistant quartermaster, with his assistants performed their duties with promptness and accuracy.
Dr. E. H. Cleveland, surgeon general, and his assistants were unremitting in their attention to the sick and wounded.
I have the honor to be,
Your obedient servant,
Oregon Statesman, Salem, October 11, 1853, pages 1-2
From the Mountain Herald.
Jacksonville, Oregon,Messrs. Editors:--I have to say that Gen. Jo Lane has just returned from a trip to the mountains, having gone out with the guide, Metcalfe, on the 17th, to hold a "talk" with the Indians, in the direction of the Siskiyou Mountains. He informed me (and I hasten to give you the information as [illegible]) that he met Tipsey Tyee, or the bearded chief, and held a talk with him, who represents himself as entirely friendly to the whites, "that he does not wish for war--that he has not committed a single depredation--and that he is afraid of being killed by the whites," which is the reason he has taken his position in the mountains. He further states that "the depredations laid to his charge have been committed by Indians not of his tribe and over whom he has no control." He also states "that when the Rogue River difficulties broke out an Indian came to him and informed him of it, and that he remained at or near a white man's [house] near Cottonwood or Klamath River, and fear of the whites killing him induced him to leave." Gen. Lane found him and his [illegible] excessively timid and afraid of treachery, and it was with the utmost caution that he allowed Gen. Lane, who had only two men with him, to approach. The country in the vicinity is very difficult of access.
Sept. 19, 1853, 9 o'clock p.m.
It is the General's intention to go out again in a day or two to hold another talk with him, and to take Capt. Robert L. Williams' company of thirty rifles with him, in which case, if necessary, Capt. Bob will give a good account of himself, for there are no better mountain men than his company, which is the only one not in service.
The muster rolls and other papers of the companies recently engaged in this war are now being made out and arranged for transmission to Washington, the General's desire being to have all such matters settled by the next Congress.
Tomorrow the General goes down to the agency to see Joe, the principal, and Sam and Jim, the subordinate chiefs. It is but justice to say that since Gen. Lane assumed command of the forces, on the 21st ult., every exertion has been used by him (even after a severe wound received on the 24th August) to settle these Indian difficulties, which had stopped nearly all the business of the country. Within eleven days after the action of 24th August a treaty was made, which, if adhered to by both parties, will greatly aid the prosperity of the country. Troops kept in the field at an enormous expense to the country, and who were consuming the subsistence of the settlements, were sent home, and all the necessary steps are taken to protect the valley by keeping in the field a small force to awe the Indians, who cannot always be relied on, the country will settle rapidly and our Indian troubles will cease.
Capt. A. J. Smith, 1st dragoons, with thirty-five men, is at the agency, and Col. Wright, from Fort Redding, is expected soon to take post in this valley with an infantry force.
Col. Alden has so far recovered from his wound that he started from this place for Yreka on the 18th inst., in a carriage accompanied by Doct. [illegible], to whose care and attention the Colonel is perhaps indebted for his life.
Lieut. Ely is convalescent from a very painful and severe wound, and but two of the Yreka company are now in the hospital--James Carroll and Henry Flesher, who acted so gallantly in our fights with the Indians.
Yours, &c.,Oregon Statesman, Salem, October 11, 1853, page 2
J. P. GOODALL.
Return of Gen. Lane--Matters South.
Gen. Lane very unexpectedly returned to this place on Tuesday, and on Thursday proceeded down the valley on his way to Washington. He will leave on the first steamer.
His return through the Willamette was unexpected to himself, expecting to be detained in Rogue River too late to permit him to pass this way, and so advising his friends in the valley. But the arrival of Col. Wright with four companies of U.S. infantry of twenty men each, earlier than was anticipated, induced him to gratify his anxious wish to visit his family and his friends in this part of the Territory. His wound has nearly healed, though he has not yet recovered the use of his arm. In other respects he is in excellent health and spirits.
Col. Wright is preparing winter quarters for his men, and will remain in the country for the present. These forces will do much towards preventing aggressions, and preserving peace. Three of the companies are from Benicia, in command of Maj. Patten, the poet and soldier; the other is from Fort Redding, the whole under command of Col. Wright, an experienced and efficient officer.
Gen. Lane had with him, and will take to Washington, a sprightly Indian lad of sixteen or seventeen years, an only son of "Joe," the head chief of the Rogue River tribes. He was given to him by his father as a hostage and a guarantee that his people should observe the treaty. He said "as proof that I have confidence in you, and that I intend to observe the treaty in good faith, I give you my only son, who is dearer to me than life, to take with you to the States, and if I violate the treaty you have permission to hang him." He will be brought back by Gen. Lane when he returns, and restored to his people, and his visit to Washington and return among the Indians must have a great moral effect upon them.
Before leaving Gen. Lane, accompanied by two men, went into the mountains to have a "talk" with "Tipsey," the chief of the Klamaths, who is supposed to have done much towards inciting the recent hostilities. After much difficulty they found him, among the mountains and in the heart of a dense forest, with forty or fifty warriors of his tribe. They sent a messenger to him, telling him that they had come to hold a "talk" and make peace. He informed them that he would meet them the next day at a place named, and still more strongly guarded against surprise and attack, he fearing that was meditated. After a hard day's ride on the following day they reached the spot designated, and the General and his men approached "Tipsey's" camp. The General asked him if his heart was good, and disposed to peace? He replied that he didn't know, that that depended on their hearts; if their hearts were good, his was good; if theirs were bad, his was bad. The General camped with him during the night, and remained the next day having a talk with him, returning, a day or two after he went back, and a permanent peace was agreed upon. "Tipsey" was very timid, and afraid of being betrayed.
Everything was quiet when Gen. Lane left; the people were fast returning to their employments, and the country resuming its wonted business appearance.
Oregon Statesman, Salem, October 11, 1853, page 2
MORE BAD FAITH.--A few days before Gen. Lane left, a number of Capt. Williams' men commenced firing upon a party of Joe's Indians, men, women and children, who were fishing in Rogue River. They did not return the fire, but sheltered themselves from it by lying upon the ground behind a shelter they had erected. Some ten or twelve rounds were fired without effect. Joe immediately made his way to Gen. Lane's quarters and complained that the whites had violated the treaty. The General explained to him that the act was committed by some irresponsible, bad men and that the white people were not accountable for it. The presence of Col. Wright's command will be likely to put a stop to such conduct.
Oregon Statesman, Salem, October 11, 1853, page 2
Public Meeting in Rogue River.
At a meeting of the citizens of Rogue River Valley, held at the Robinson House, in Jacksonville, on the 24th September, A.D. 1853, for the purpose of adopting such measures as to prevent the trafficking of arms and ammunition with the Indians, the following proceedings were had:
On motion of C. Sims, Col. John E. Ross was called to the chair, and on motion of Dr. Ambrose, C. Sims was chosen secretary of the meeting.
The chairman then proceeded to state the object of the meeting.
On motion of Dr. Ambrose, to appoint a committee of three to draft resolutions expressive of the voice of the meeting, Dr. Ambrose, Capt. John K. Lamerick, and C. S. Drew were accordingly appointed.
During the absence of the committee, the meeting was addressed by Gen. Lane and Col. T'Vault, in an eloquent and forcible manner.
The committee reported the following preamble and resolutions:
Whereas, we the citizens of Jackson County view with pleasure and delight the restoration of safety and quietude to our valley; and whereas, we confidently believe that our present security and tranquility are the offspring of the vigilant and energetic action of our citizens and California brethren, and of the happy conclusion of the late treaty with the Indians; therefore, be it resolved by the citizens of Rogue River Valley--
1. That we the citizens of Jackson Co. view the late treaty made with the Indians of this valley as the only effectual mode of resuming friendly relations between the white settlers and the Indians.
2. That it is our sincere desire that the said treaty should remain permanent, and that the rights of the Indians under that treaty should be faithfully observed and respected by the citizens of this valley.
3. That we look upon any person who would attempt to violate any of the provisions of this treaty as unworthy of the esteem of his fellow man, and undeserving [of] the rights and privileges of citizenship.
4. That we deem the trading of arms, powder or lead or caps to the Indians as highly improper and injurious; and any person who shall be found trading such articles shall be deemed guilty of improper conduct and upon conviction thereof shall be punished with one hundred and fifty lashes, and be made to leave the valley in the space of 24 hours thereafter.
5. That proper steps be taken by the citizens of this valley to form a vigilance committee, whose duty it shall be to carry into execution the punishment mentioned in the 4th resolution, and that the names of said vigilance committee shall never be made public.
6. That we mutually pledge ourselves to sustain the vigilance committee in the performance of their duties.
7. That we tender our heartfelt thanks to Gen. Lane and Capt. B. R. Alden for their valuable services rendered in the late Indian war, and for the deep interest manifested by them for our future welfare and security.
8. That we also tender our thanks to Capts. Lamerick, Miller, Goodall and Rhodes, of Yreka, and Capt. Terry, of Crescent City, and Williams, also Capts. Applegate and Martin, of Umpqua, and Capt. Nesmith of Willamette.
9. That our best feelings are tendered to our citizen, Col. John E. Ross, who so ably conducted his battalion in the late war.
On motion of Dr. Sheil, it was ordered that the proceedings of this meeting be published in the Oregon Statesman.
On motion, the meeting adjourned.
JOHN E. ROSS, President.
C. Sims, Secretary.
Oregon Statesman, Salem, October 11, 1853, page 2
The Indians in Southern Oregon are again becoming troublesome. Mr. James Kyle, an estimable citizen of Jackson County, and partner of Thomas Wills, who was killed in the war, was recently murdered by some Indians near Willow Springs. Col. Wright immediately demanded the murderers of the Chief Joe, and they were promptly brought in and delivered up, even before Mr. Kyle died, he not having been instantly killed. The Indians will be tried and punished. This act shows a disposition on the part of Joe, who is the head chief, to observe the requirements of the treaty.
The government troops established in the Rogue River Valley went out to capture some stock and other stolen property. They surprised the Indians and killed and wounded several. They fled to the mountains. When the troops turned homeward, the Indians followed stealthily and fired upon them, killing two soldiers and wounding three more. The succeeding night they came to the soldiers' camp and stole all their flour and provisions.
"From Oregon," Daily Republic, Buffalo, New York, December 28, 1853, page 2
INTERESTING FROM OREGON TERRITORY.
Our Fort Lane Correspondence.
Fort Lane (O.T.), Sept. 29, 1853.
Termination of the Rogue River War--History of the Campaign--Origin of the Strife--Character of the Rogue River Indians--Defeats of the Whites--Arrival of General Lane--Battle of Evans Creek--Massacre of the "Grave Creeks"--Their History--The Taylor Slaughters--Last Battle Since the Treaty--Its Stipulations--The Bearded Chief--Departure of General Lane for Washington.The Rogue River War having, like all other wars heretofore, come to an end, it becomes the part of an impartial historian like myself to transmit to posterity a true record of the glorious deeds performed in the short but brilliant campaign so nobly begun. I doubt whether anyone has had the generosity to give honor to whom honor is due, and it is to rectify any partial statement that may have gone abroad of the heroisms enacted in this valley that I send you this brief but impartial synopsis.
It taxes the ingenuity of the inhabitants of this valley to the utmost to assign a cause and a commencement to the sanguinary conflict. Each individual has his own story of how and where the war first began, and though all aim to, none succeed in fixing the commencement of hostilities upon the Indians.
Last winter seven successful miners down on Rogue River, near Galice Creek, were murdered by the Indians, it is supposed, and a large amount of gold dust is thought to have fallen into the hands of the murderers. There is no positive proof that the deed was committed by the Indians, but they were immediately charged with it, and the desire to recover the captured treasure, rather than to revenge the murder, set on foot many desperate expeditions composed of reckless and abandoned men. John Taylor was the chief of the Taylor Indians in that vicinity. He was caught last spring, tried and shot. Before his death he is said to have confessed to the massacre, and to have implicated quite a number of his own people, and two of the Grave Creek Indians also. The latter, as well as quite a number of the former, were brought to death, but no outbreak followed these troubles.
For some years a rumor has existed that a white woman had been captured and her husband killed by the Indians of this valley, about seven years ago, and that she had been kept in bondage by them ever since, in the mountains, out of sight of the whites. Last summer an Indian came to Jacksonville and gave a fresh impulse to the rumor. He stated that the woman had long persuaded him to go and report her bondage to the whites, and that he had finally consented to do so, and if the whites would go with him he would show them to the Indian camp where she was a prisoner. A party of eight or ten white men joined in the expedition, and, guided by the Indian, after some trouble came upon the Indian camp in the mountains where she was said to be kept a prisoner. They positively denied the story of the white woman, but admitted a similar one with regard to a foreign squaw captured from a half-breed Spaniard. She was brought, and proved to be a Klamath Indian woman. The white men considered this a subterfuge, and insisted on having the white woman given up, or they would kill them all. The Indians became alarmed and endeavored to make their escape; the white men fired upon them and killed six of them. No outbreak followed this affair, though it is said to have had a serious influence upon the war.
The following having preceded the outbreak but a very short time--one or two days only--is most generally regarded as the immediate commencement of hostilities. Last summer a Spaniard and gambler in Jacksonville, by the name of De Bushay, bought a squaw of Jim, one of the chiefs of this valley. The squaw was the widow of a Shasta Indian, and had returned to her people. Her husband's brother claimed her as his property. De Bushay having failed to comply with the purchase, Jim stole her away from him. De Bushay raised a party, and by threats and arms recaptured her. The Shasta Indians, who had come for her, were witnesses to her forcible abduction, and were highly incensed. They went away threatening vengeance on the whites. In a short time afterwards Edwards, Gibbs and others were killed under circumstances that struck terror into the hearts of the people of Jacksonville. A perfect stampede followed. The inhabitants, without reflection, concluded that a league had been formed against them by all the Indians in the country, and the war commenced. The whites began the campaign by killing all the pet Indians about town--a term applied to Indians engaged in families in a domestic capacity, and necessarily perfectly innocent of any part whatever in these murders. They then extended operations against the Indians employed in families in the country, and any master who protested against the hanging of his servant was threatened with a similar fate, and thus these brave men went scouring about the country, killing and hanging these inoffensive creatures, instead of following the real perpetrators into their mountain haunts. A little boy, practicing with his bow and arrow on the plain, was thus disposed of. An old man and woman have met with similar fates. No matter how peaceably disposed the Indian might be, he was either killed or driven to the mountains in self-defense.
The Rogue River Indian is brave, and will resist when imposed upon or mistreated, and will endure no maltreatment submissively. These Indians have never been friendly to the whites, from the earliest traveling by them through this country. Up to 1850 scarcely a party passed through the valley without experiencing some depredation from them. They have ever been jealous of the encroachments of the white men, and never were at peace with them until Gen. Lane concluded a treaty with them in 1850, which they faithfully adhered to until broken by the whites. They are noted for their truthfulness. Joe, Sam and Jim are the principal men amongst them. Until the inconsiderate and base retaliation of the whites, neither these chiefs nor their people took any part in the outbreak, nor had they done anything to justify the mean attack upon their people. But, driven by these acts to self-defense they fought with desperation, for the whites threatened them with extermination. They went to war with a magnanimity unknown among savages. It is true they waylaid the roads, burnt houses and grain, and carried their depredations almost into the streets of Jacksonville. But there was no scalping, no killing of women and children. The whites were terror-stricken at the boldness of their acts. The fact immediately forced itself upon their minds that the Indians had by an illicit and abandoned trade on the part of the whites obtained possession of nearly all the arms in the country; the whole country flocked to Jacksonville, and the town was thronged with unarmed and helpless men. Expresses were sent off to every direction for aid, but before it could arrive much damage had been done, the farms and dwellings of industrious farmers had been laid waste, and many valuable lives were lost by a war brought on by desperate and unprincipled miners, gamblers and outlaws.
The whites for some time were driven in on every quarter. About the 15th of August Griffin's party of twenty men was driven in with the loss of a man. On the 17th Lieutenant Ely lost nine men killed and wounded, and though reinforced did not think it prudent to pursue the enemy, though they had withdrawn. It was not until the arrival of Gen. Lane that the whites began to triumph. On the 24th he brought the Indians to terms. Of this fight much has been said and published that is calculated to convey a wrong impression.
A party of ninety men under Gen. Lane, Capt. Alden, U.S.A., and Capt. Armstrong of Yamhill surprised the Indians on the headwaters of Evans Creek. The position of the Indians was very strong, at the head of a defile or bayou, behind a belt of fallen timber that extended across the defile. In the early part of the action Gen. Lane ordered a charge, in order to drive the Indians out of the brush. To this order Capt. Alden and his ten regular soldiers, Capt. Armstrong and a few others alone responded. Capt. Armstrong was killed instantly--shot through the right breast. Capt. Alden received a dangerous and remarkable wound; the ball entered the neck, and passing between the jugular vein and windpipe, came out under the right shoulder. Gen. Lane was shot through the right arm, near the shoulder joint. Thus all the officers who led the charge were shot down in the early part of the action, in consequence of not being supported. For three or four hours the firing was kept up from behind the trees, Indian fashion, and finally the Indians proposed to "wawa" (talk). General Lane opposed it, and wished to continue the fight, but the men urged an armistice--a vote was taken, and nearly all decided for a parley. The armistice was barely entered into when Colonel Ross arrived with a reinforcement of one hundred and twenty men. This reinforcement raised the valor of some of the men, and they wished to renew the fight. The General consented, but said that he must send Joe and Sam word to say that the parley was ended. To this they would not consent, and the General then said they must abide by the treaty, and so they did. Twenty minutes after the firing ceased, whites and Indians were mixed up in the same camp in the most admirable confusion. The squaws carried water for the whites, who were suffering from thirst, and the Indians offered to carry in the wounded to where they could be attended. The Indians were to come in in seven days to enter upon a treaty of peace and the sale of their land. But before the treaty could be entered into, other circumstances occurred that deterred the Indians from coming in at the appointed time. If they did not come in, the war was to be renewed. Gen. Lane thought the Indians were excusable in not coming in; some of his men thought otherwise, and were for renewing the war. The reader may form his own opinion from the following facts, unprecedented in the history of American wars:
The emigration of '46 was the first that ever passed by the southern route into the Willamette Valley. An account of the origin of this route may be found in Thornton's Notes on Oregon and California. A small party of that emigration encamped on a clear, beautiful little trout stream, about forty miles from where Jacksonville now stands, down Rogue River. Miss Crowley, a member of this party--a young and interesting girl--had, in spite of her frailty and the hardship of emigration, succeeded in getting thus far on her way in search of a home in the Far West. But, a victim to consumption, here, amid the bold hills that are the almost unerring characteristic of this mountainous country, she breathed her last, and under the shade of an oak, not fifty yards from where Bates and Twogood now keep, they buried her, and called the creek that flows nearby Grave Creek. Her remains were dug up by the Indians as soon as her friends left the grave, and though passing strangers buried them again and again, yet they were as often removed, and no one has ever passed by and found the grave closed until the affair I am going to relate closed it up forever.
A party of Indians, formerly thirty or forty in number, but since reduced to ten or eleven, have owned and claimed this valley from the time it was first known to the whites, and have, since the naming of the creek, been called the Grave Creek Indians. They were an outcast band, made up of the outlaws of all the other tribes in this country. In early times, when the country was only visited by trappers, they were a great annoyance to the people sent out in that capacity by the Hudson Bay Company. When the emigration took this direction they were a terror to all small parties, killing and stealing the cattle where they feared to attack the men, and this constant war so reduced their numbers that they had but eleven warriors previous to this outbreak. Tyee Bill and another of their party were implicated by the confession of John Taylor. Bates raised a party of whites, and, guided by his pet Indian--also a Grave Creek--he came upon them in the mountains and succeeded in capturing all of them except Tyee Bill. The implicated Indian was hung, and the others released on condition that Tyee Bill should be given up. His head was brought in soon after. A treaty was then entered into by Bates with these Indians: he was to protect them, and they were to disturb the whites no more. They came and settled near him, and were quietly and peaceably disposed, when a man by the name of Owens infringed upon the treaty by wantonly shooting one of them one day as he was passing, having occasion to discharge his gun. Owens is a miner, but has had sufficient influence among a set of his own stamp to raise a company of thirty men. In the interval between the death of this Indian and the outbreak at Jacksonville, a house on Louse Creek was burnt, and the bodies of its two inhabitants were found in the smoldering ruins. As the Grave Creeks had moved away from Bates, they were charged with this affair, as it occurred only twelve miles from Bates' stand. Either they were not guilty, or to lull suspicion perhaps they returned and encamped near Bates again. Bates and his party, under pledges of friendship and protection, succeeded in taking four of the remaining eight Grave Creeks prisoners. Owens raised his company of thirty men immediately on the alarm at Jacksonville, and came down to Grave Creek on the same day, and soon after Bates had taken these four prisoners. He immediately took the matter into his own hands. He sent his men up, surrounded the Indian camp, and shot the only Indian in it--the other three were out hunting. Their return was patiently awaited, and as they came in with their game upon their backs they were fired upon; one was killed, and the other two ran away, though supposed to be wounded. They uttered the war cry as they escaped, and then communicated the state of affairs to the prisoners in Bates' house. One of them burst his bonds, and, seizing a shovel, attacked the guard, and severely injured a man by the name of Frizzell on the hand. Frizzell finally shot him through the body with a revolver. The other three were shot, tied as they were, among them Bates' pet, who had been in his employ all summer. The six dead Indians were then thrown into the open grave where Miss Crowley was buried, and covered up, and as they were undoubtedly the desecrators of her tomb, it is closed forever, and they have had the satisfaction that is allowed to few--of digging their own graves. A man by the name of Adams, one of the participators, bought a little boy of ten years, for $50, from one of Owens' men, and has taken him into Willamette Valley. The women made their escape that night, and they, as well as the two Indians who escaped, have not been heard of since. This is the story of the Grave Creeks, as I heard it from Bates and Twogood, and others.
Whilst I stopped at Bates' a man by the name of Johnson was pointed out to me as the leader in this affair. He was a very unprepossessing person, slovenly dressed in an old hickory shirt and ragged pantaloons, and shoes without socks. His old slouched hat concealed the principal part of his unshaven countenance; either his eyebrows protruded very much, or his cold gray eyes were sunk very deep in his head--I could not tell which. Without passion, without expression in his dark features, he stood with his hands in his pockets and his back braced against the wall, and told his story:
News of the outbreak at Jacksonville reached the mines on Illinois River, twenty or thirty miles below Bates', and they immediately "forted up" at Johnson's house, on Rogue River. About thirty white men were collected there, and, directed by Johnson, they convened about twenty-five warriors of the Taylor Indians at their fort, under pretense of making a treaty with them. They gave them plenty to eat, and, to lull suspicion, the whites had concealed their arms under the beds in the fort. When they were all busily eating about the fires between the fort and the river, they fell upon them, and eighteen out of the twenty-five were killed. These are the simple facts, as related by Johnson. He did not enter into particulars. I asked him if they had done damage below, and it appeared that they had not participated in the outbreak at all, but it was feared they would, so they killed them.
John Taylor had a son named Jim, who separated himself from his father's people, and had joined the Indians on Applegate Creek, headed by Old Man John. Previous to the conclusion of the treaty Capt. Bob Williams with his company was sent to hunt up the Indians on this creek and bring them to an engagement. Williams is a man very much after Capt. Owens' stamp, but has also the reputation of being a great Indian fighter. As soon as the treaty was concluded General Lane sent an order to Capt. W. to report himself at headquarters. For some reason the order never reached him. A second order was sent, but the bearer was bribed by the opponents of the treaty not to deliver it. Williams continued in the mountains notwithstanding that the treaty was concluded, a fact that he knew, though he may not have known it officially, for he was in daily communication with Halstead's ferry, where the disbanded troops were every day passing with the news. Meanwhile the Indians were making every effort to get on the north side of Rogue River, to General Lane's headquarters, to be present at the treaty. Finally the Indians brought the news that Williams had killed Jim Taylor. Their account made it an infamous affair.
Williams had an interpreter and guide, who passed by the sobriquet of Elick, who knows the country and the Indians, and is conversant with their tongue--he is a half-breed. With his assistance they found the Indians, but could not get at them; they were high up on a mountainside, and Williams was in the valley. Elick represented the party as miners, that they come from General Lane with power to treat with them, that they wanted them to come down and do so, so that they could go to work, and they might carry on the war with all other whites if they chose. They offered them plenty to eat, but the Indians were cautious and would not come down; they knew the fate of the Grave Creeks. For many hours they parleyed, but finding they could not be induced to come down, they desired that a part might come, and then they asked that three should come, and finally they entreated that one man might be sent to treat with them. Their entreaties were so earnest and kept up for so long a time that at the length Jim Taylor yielded. He came down and was instantly seized and carried off to Halstead's ferry, where they went through the form of a trial and tried to convict him of some of the injuries done to the whites, but nothing could be proved against him. He was then threatened with death if he did not confess to the part he had taken in the war. He admitted nothing, and was condemned to be shot. They took him into the woods below the ferry and tied a rope about his neck and fastened it to the limb of a tree above his head. Five men were selected who fired upon him, two balls passed through his head and the others entered his back. His body was left dangling to the limb. An old man from the Willamette by the name of Yates was at the ferry, but would not go down to witness the deed, but after they came back he proposed to burying him, but no one would volunteer to assist him until finally two men went with him and dug a grave for the dead Indian, and placing his scalp--which some white man had taken off in the meantime and hung upon the bushes--on his head again, they buried him.
Finally Old Man John succeeded in dodging Williams; he got across the river and was present at the signing of the treaty, and received his first payment. He reported all his warriors present but five, though quite a number of his women and children were still about. On the 15th of September Williams returned and reported that he had had a desperate battle on the 13th. He had found the Indians in the bush and attacked them, and after four hours fighting night came on and interrupted the conflict. He had killed and wounded twelve Indians and had but one man killed. The news of the fight reached camp through the whites before the Indians knew it. It was told to John, and he was asked if they were his people; he said no, they could not be his, as they were all present but five, that it must have been Tipsu Tyee's band. On the evening of the 15th John's five men presented themselves to Gov. Lane and told their story. They had been attacked by Williams as they were endeavoring to get across the river on to the reserve, with the women and children. They had but three guns, and with these they kept them at bay until night, when they made their escape. They lost one woman and two children killed. This is the last battle with the Rogue River Indians fought by Capt. Williams.
Owing to these contradictory transactions, the treaty was pending about three weeks before it could be concluded. In the meantime, many volunteers had flocked in, eager for the contest. Disappointed with no prospect for a fight, much dissatisfaction was expressed at the state of affairs. Gov. Lane, having full confidence in the good will of the Indians, discharged all the men that had been called into service as fast as possible. He went into the fight in which he was wounded without knowing anything about the cause of the war, or any knowledge of the state of affairs; he took it for granted that the Indians were to blame. When he came to treat the true state of things presented themselves piecemeal, and finally all the facts threw the blame on the whites. That he was much disgusted with their conduct is proven by the way he carried out the treaty, in spite of all opposition. The good people of the valley are much in favor of Lane's measures, but they are in the minority. The majority is made up of miners, gamblers and outlaws that have fled beyond the restraints of the law, and they cry against the treaty because they would lose nothing by its renewal, and they care nothing for the wives and children of the good settlers, who must be the sufferers in the main. These men do not hesitate to threaten to break the treaty whenever an opportunity may offer. Though they dare not openly resist the General's authority, yet he has been detained here, though all operations are at an end, because he fears that the moment his back is turned the war would begin again; he has been waiting the arrival of regular troops that the treaty may be enforced and these vagabonds held in check.
According to the conditions of the treaty the Indians are to receive sixty thousand dollars, to be paid in sixteen annual payments, for their land in Rogue River Valley. Fifteen thousand of this, however, is to be retained to reimburse the settlers for the property destroyed. A small reserve has been set aside unto which they have retired, included between Rogue River and Evans Creek, and a line running north from Table Mountain to it, intersecting with Evans Creek. For this reserve they are to receive fifteen thousand dollars when the whites are fit to remove them.
During the entire pending of the treaty the Indians have shown a patience and forbearance and a desire for peace that would hardly be expected from them, in consideration of their success and their independent character. The medium of communication was the jargon in common use in Oregon and Washington territories, and consequently explanation was slow and imperfect. All the Indians concerned in the war were present at the treaty, except the Taylor Indians and Tipsu Tyee's band. The former have only been warred upon in the manner related--they have not retaliated. The latter are Shasta Indians, and they were the ones who committed the first depredations.
Gen. Lane, having finally concluded this treaty, set out in search of Tipsu Tyee. Confiding in the honesty and truth of these Indians, he set out with only an interpreter and a guide. High up in the mountains, on the head of Applegate Creek, he found them, near the summit of a lofty peak, beyond the reach of white men, living on the manzanita berry. They were in an impenetrable jungle, only thirty warriors in all, with their women. They had but fourteen guns.
Tipsu Tyee is superior to any of the chiefs in this valley. He commands his men like a tactician, and they obey him implicitly, and without dissent. He reigns in these mountains like brigand chieftain. He is a small, heavy-set man, with little eyes, piercing and dark, and quite a growth of hair on his chin, from which he takes his name. The General found him disposed to peace. He said he himself had taken no part in the war, but that one of his tribe, a bad man, had persuaded a few of his men away, and they were the ones who committed the first outrages on the whites. As soon as he had learned the state of affairs he had gathered his people together and moved them into the mountains, where he had remained ever since. He promised to deliver up the leader of his party and such property as he had in his possession that had been captured from the whites. He lays no claim to Rogue River Valley and said he would return to Klamath River Valley, where he belongs. The present of a few clothes were offered him, which has concluded the last act of the treaty of peace, and it only requires that the whites adhere to it, and peace will be established and maintained.
Col. Wright, with three companies of the Second Infantry, arrived here on the 25th. The evening before his arrival Jim came in and reported that a party of whites, passing down the river the day before, had fired upon his people fishing in the river, and also into their camps at different points--that the bullets had passed through the clothes of some of their people, but no one had been killed. The Indians had formed an ambuscade through which these white men had to pass, and that they would all have been killed, had not Joe got wind of the affair and, mounting a horse, reached the ambuscade before the whites and dispersed his men. On the 26th, Col. Wright, with Capt. Smith's company of First Dragoons, accompanied by Gen. Lane, made an appointment with Joe and his other chiefs and met them at the mouth of Evans Creek to talk the matter over. Col. Wright says that he was much impressed by Joe's bearing and dignity, and, like Gen. Lane, is fully impressed with his integrity. Joe said that he was fully convinced that the white men who had fired into his people were cultus tillicum--good-for-nothing people--and that he had for that reason prohibited the people from firing on them, because it would have been an excuse if they had killed them to renew the war, and he wanted peace. He seemed to comprehend the state of society in that region well. It appears that the outrage was committed by a party of Bob Williams' men, who had been discharged and were going back to Althouse Creek to work. Measures will be taken by the Indian agent to bring them to justice.
This outrage decided Col. Wright to establish a fort here. He approved of the point selected by Capt. Smith, and called it Fort Lane, in honor of "distinguished services rendered by Gen. Lane in the recent disturbances." It is situated about three miles west of Table Rock, on a beautiful spot, with sufficient trees, oak and pine, for shade trees, and about half a mile from the river. Its plan will be about eighty yards square, with the buildings on three sides, and the side toward Table Rock and fronting the river open. The buildings will be temporary log cabins. The post is to be commanded by Capt. Smith, and garrisoned by three companies of the First Dragoons and one of the Second Infantry.
The troops having arrived, and a prospect of the peace remaining unbroken, Gen. Lane took his departure for home. He expects to be in San Francisco on the 15th, in time for the steamers for the States. He takes with him to Washington one of Joe's sons, named Ben, an interesting boy of fifteen or sixteen. He will create a sensation equal to his own astonishment at the Bostons (Americans).
U.S.New York Herald, November 14, 1853, page 3
MILITARY OPERATIONS--FROM NORTHERN CALIFORNIA.--The Yreka Herald places us in possession of interesting news from the upper portion of the state.
A battalion of the Second Infantry under the command of Major Patten passed through Yreka on the 6th inst., on their return from Rogue River Valley.
Three companies of dragoons, under Capt. Smith, together with Capt. Lyon's company from Benicia, remain in Rogue River Valley, and will form the permanent garrison of Fort Lane, a post recently established in the immediate vicinity of Table Rock. Major Patten, with two companies of infantry, will be stationed for the winter in Scotts Valley, at Fort Jones, twenty miles from Yreka.
A train of immigrant wagons from the plains entered Rogue River Valley on the 3rd, through the pass immediately below the Siskiyou Mountain. Capt. Miller, with a detachment of volunteers from Jacksonville, accompanied the train, and immediately proceeded to Jacksonville to procure provisions for a large number of immigrants whom unfortunate obstacles had detained on the plains, and who were reported to be in a destitute condition.
A correspondence between Capt. Lamerick's Rangers and Gen. Lane is published in the Herald.
Gen. Lane has expressed himself in favor of a continuation of the military road from Myrtle Creek to Scottsburg.
Sacramento Daily Union, October 15, 1853, page 2
FROM YREKA.--The Shasta Courier furnishes us with the following summary of news, for which it was indebted to Cram, Rogers & Co.'s Express.
The Herald contains but little news of interest. We extract the following items:
A battalion of the 2nd Infantry, under the command of Major Patten, passed through this place on the 1th [sic] inst., on their return from Rogue River Valley.
Three companies of dragoons, under Capt. Smith, together with Capt. Lyon's company from Benicia, remain in Rogue River Valley, and will form the permanent garrison of Fort Lane, a post recently established in the immediate vicinity of Table Rock.
Major Patten, with two companies of infantry, will be stationed for the winter in Scotts Valley, at Fort Jones, twenty miles from Yreka.
Sacramento Daily Union, October 17, 1853, page 2
The Quincy papers state that Chas. Abbe, only son of Mr. John Abbe of that place, was killed in the engagement which took place on the 24th of August last between the party under the command of Gov. Lane and the Rogue River Indians at the head of Evans Creek in the southern part of Oregon Territory. The deceased was a worthy young man and fell by the side of his commander while gallantly charging the enemy.
Daily Alton Telegraph, Alton, Illinois, October 25, 1853, page 2
MORE BAD FAITH.--A few days before Gen. Lane left, a number of Capt. Williams' men commenced firing upon a party of Joe's Indians, men, women and children, who were fishing in Rogue River. They did not return the fire, but sheltered themselves from it by lying upon the ground behind a shelter they had erected. Some 10 or 12 rounds were fired without effect. Joe immediately made his way to Gen. Lane's quarters, and complained that the whites had violated the treaty. The General explained to him that the act was committed by some irresponsible, bad men, and that the white people were not accountable for it. The presence of Col. Wright's command will be likely to put a stop to such conduct.--Commercial.
New York Daily Tribune, November 30, 1853, page 3
The treaty with the Rogue River Indians has been published. After the formation of the treaty some of the whites, who disliked the treaty and desired with extermination of the red men, fired upon the Indians.
The cost of the Rogue River war was about $250,000.
"Oregon," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, November 11, 1853, page 1
STILL LIVING.--Some time ago we announced the death of Judge Alonzo A. Skinner, formerly of this place, but for a number of years past a resident of Oregon. The account stated that he was brutally murdered by the Indians, in the Rogue River difficulty. We are happy to learn that his relations here have received, within the past week, a letter from him, bearing date of 10th of September last, which was mailed on the 16th of the same month, contradicting the report, saying that he had suffered nothing at the hands of the Indians, and that for the coming two year he designed to devote himself to agricultural pursuits.
Portage Sentinel, Ravenna, Ohio, December 7, 1853, page 2
INDIANS ABOUT JACKSONVILLE, O.T.--Every movement of the Indians in this whole country, including those on the coast, shows feelings of hostility towards the whites. In the vicinity of Port Orford they are arming themselves with firearms, and if daylight is not made to shine through them between this and spring we may expect trouble of the most serious nature from these enemies of the human family. We can never rest in security until the redskins are treated like the other wild beasts of the forest.--Yreka Herald.
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, December 26, 1853, page 2
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Siskiyou County, CaliforniaDear Brother,
February the 7, 1854
I take this opportunity to inform Father and Mother that I am sound and hearty as an Indian. As I am getting very anxious to hear from home, I write the second time without answer. . . .
Times is very dull, duller than I ever saw it in this country before. Miners has been laying idle for seven months, spending what they made [last season] for the want of water.
Last summer I done very well a-mining; two of us made six hundred dollars a week regular. When the Rogue River War broke out, we sold out for fourteen hundred dollars, and I off to the wars. And that is what played thunder and broke up the hen's nest.
Rogue River is about sixty-five miles from here across the Siskiyou Mountains, and the country on this side of the mountains is claimed by the Shasta tribe, a much smaller tribe. The citizens of Rogue River Valley called on us for help, while our Indians of this place left the country, excepting a few old squaws. We raised a company of Humbug volunteers under Capt. Rhoades and Lieutenant Charles Blair, well-armed with rifles and Colt's revolvers and horses and mules to ride and each man a pair of blankets to sleep under.
We started for [the] Rogue River Wars, every man anxious to kill the first Indian.
Well, we got to Jacksonville, Rogue River Valley, where the Indians was just a-plain thunder charging through the valley, burning houses, barns and wheat stacks and hay stacks, while some families was forting up, others running for Jacksonville.
It would put you in mind of a thundering big hurricane much, with thunder and lightning from the houses' own fire and a flash of blaze running through the prairies. And thousands of cattle and horses running before that made a perfect hurricane. I haven't got time to give you any particulars of the war excepting in the last fight, which wasn't quite so hard as some skirmishes we had, that is, [the] bullets didn't fly quite so hard.
Capt. Alden, captain of the dragoons, as he wasn't experienced in Indian fighting, after General Lane came in from Oregon gave him charge of one battalion and Colonel Ross the other. Then we started out, all volunteers that had good horses, for a great many had given out from hard traveling and starvation.
We started on the direction of old Joe and Sam's tribe, which amounted to about seventy-five men in each battalion besides the packers which pack our grub. We took two different routes. We went with General Lane, and whichever struck the trail of the Indians first was to send an express to the other. But luckily we struck the trail first, but so anxious to take them didn't send no express, but traveled on up into the mountains, across creeks, up ravines, following their trail like hellhounds. Every once in a while we would come to a deep gulch growed up full of bushes, where we expected certainly to find them full of Indians. We would all dismount, leave a guard with the horses [and] take it afoot through the bushes and come out on the other side disappointed, with our faces scratched and our clothing torn with briers. Finally night came on, [and] we made our camp on a creek where the Indians had camped about three days before us. We unsaddled our horses, cut them some brush with our butcher knives, for there was no sign of grass in that country, built our fires, roasted some meat and stowed it away as fast as possible, for they was pretty wolfish after traveling all day and bushwhacking. I felt considerably so myself, and I was unlucky enough [to] become officer of the guard that night and came very near breaking my neck. The brush was very thick; one could scarcely walk through in the daytime, let alone that dark night. As I was a little suspicious of Indians that night I got up five or six times and went around to see if the guard was all awake. On one of my rounds I got [on] a big log that fell in my direction and had smashed the bushes down. I walked some hundred feet along that log and about that time my foot struck a knot and away I went, fourteen feet [down and] struck into a hole about six feet and bounced out. I felt whether I was India rubber or not and found I was, then I knew I was all right.
Next morning we saddled up our brass, fed horses by daylight and started on our trail, which was getting fresher. We traveled about three miles and came to a well-fortified camp ground. There they [had] killed a mule that they had taken in a fight before this for to eat. We had some trouble to find their trail leading out from this. Finally we struck it, followed it up a steep mountain for about six miles, which was very steep and growed so thick with brush that the Indians cut their road through these bushes in order to pack their litters of wounded men up. We followed over that mountain and up another not quite so large onto a backbone or ridge. We [followed] the ridge about three miles, came to another defensive camp ground. There they had killed an elk, horns and skull were reared up in the trail, looked like some scraggy bush with the bark peeled off. Here the sign was very fresh. We traveled two or three miles further and came to a thick underbrush. here the Indians had got it afire; the whole mountain was in a perfect uproar, underbrush cracking and snapping, trees falling in every direction, which made it very dangerous traveling.
However, we worked our way along without anything very exciting until we came to [a] kind of shoulder or an offset where it broke off into a hollow which had a heavy growth [of] pine and fir timber, beside a dry branch that headed up in the hollow that was growed up full of bushes. But when we came to this shoulder or jumpoff we had an Indian boy about thirteen years old; he pointed down in the hollow and says "Hiyou siwash" [many Indians]. From that it appeared as though there was a thousand devils had come in combat with that many bloodhounds mixed up with that many coyotes. The old General [Lane] motioned to the men to be as quick as possible and as still as possible; hitch their horses, examine your guns, put on fresh caps [on your firearms]. We wasn't more than a minute about it when all was ready. The General told me to take ten men, go down on the left. I took ten and started, while he with about fifty started on the right. Some few was left to take care of the pack animals. We charged down onto them at the same time the main party charged up. The first fire from the Indians killed two men, shot one [Pleasant Armstrong] through the breast; he threw his gun and spat, said "That is a center shot," died; the other was shot through the brains. [So began the Battle of Evans Creek--often called the Battle of Table Rock--of August 24, 1853.]
We came up within twenty yards, took [to] trees and logs, but the Indians was about one hundred and fifty strong, all well armed, and had a kind of a breastworks of logs, wouldn't give an inch, whilst the chief old Joe roared like a lion, and says in the Chinook tongue, "This is my land, my country, and we are a-going to fight till we die for it; come on, come on." It was nine o'clock when we commenced, and about three when we quit. The Indians wanted to have a talk; after some strong orders they all stop firing. By this time General Lane and Colonel Alden, several more, was packed off wounded. They wanted to talk in the morning. We agreed to, for we was nearly choked for the want of water. The Indians had all the springs there was close by; the Indians had their camp around the spring [and] wouldn't allow us to come up, but if we would lay our guns down we might come up close, and the squaws packed water to us. They went to packing in baskets and kettles until dry.
After we got our thirst quenched we gathered our guns and went back to camp or to the pack animals, which was about a quarter of a mile off. We had not been there more than fifteen minutes before here came Colonel Ross with his battalion, come a-rushing as hard as they could come. They had struck our trail and followed on until they heard our guns; then they come a-tearing. But the fun was over, if you could call it fun, for we had agreed to have a talk in the morning.
So we went to rigging things in camp order and fixing the wounded as comfortable as possible, which was seven, one mortally wounded had a gash cut with a bullet in his skull, left his brains exposed. General Lane was shot through the arm, didn't hinder him from riding. Morning came [and we] sent the Indians word that we was a-coming to have the talk. General Lane, Colonel Ross, some three or four others with myself left our arms and went into the camp. As they had moved their camp some two hundred yards from their old one, we had to pass right through their battle [field]. Here was a sight to see, the old squaws burning their dead, twelve or fourteen fires, a dead Indian in each one and the old women a-crying, throwing on sticks. We passed on up to the camp. It wasn't a minute until we was completely surrounded by them bloody-looking savages; each man had his gun in his hand and his bow and quiver on his back. Here you could see a fair specimen wild savage warrior wearing his full rig, and that was nothing more than his breech cloth and his rifle, shot patch, butcher knife and quiver full of arrows. We and the three chiefs, Tyee Joe, Tyee Sam, Tyee Jim, curled down on our haunches and had a talk for three hours. Didn't come to any conclusion, but they agreed to come down to Table Rock in Rogue River Valley in eight days, for he said he wanted to have a long talk, that the Indians clear from the Calapooya Mountains, Oregon to Sacramento River had declared war with the whites.
So we came back to camp that evening; we fixed our litters out of poles and blankets. Next morning early we started, four men at a litter at a time; five men we had to pack, back the same trail we came, over hills and dales and over a mountain, near six miles to the top. But we worried it through, with our horses nearly starved to death. Made headquarters down on Rogue River. Carried the wounded into the hospital at Jacksonville. Howsomever we laid at headquarters about twelve days. Some of the boys got the chills and fever [malaria]. We finally got our discharges and came back to Yreka and Humbug, and some with the calculation of never going Indian fighting again.
Write oftener and more of them; [they] can't come too fast. Direct your letters to Yreka City, Siskiyou County, California. Then I will be more apt to get your letters.
Charles Blair"An Ohioan's Role in Oregon History," Oregon Historical Quarterly, September 1965, pages 219-225. Extensively edited for clarity and searchability. For explanatory notes and original misspellings, click on the link.
The next bill upon the Calendar which came up for consideration in order was House bill (No. 339) to authorize the Secretary of War to settle and adjust the expenses of the Rogue River Indian War.
The bill was read in extenso.
The Clerk then read the first section.
Mr. LANE, of Oregon. Mr. Chairman, the duty devolves upon me, I imagine, to give an explanation of the object of this bill, and of the circumstances which make its passage necessary. If I knew that it would pass without anything being said by me, I would say nothing; and it would gratify me very much. But, for fear that it might not be so, I avail myself of the opportunity to make a brief statement.
In the Rogue River Valley there are two great tribes of Indians, the Umpquas and Shastas, all known as the Rogue River Indians. These Indians, for the last twelve months, have been preparing for war. They were enabled to provide themselves with the implements of war, and with everything necessary to commence a deadly hostility, and to make every arrangement necessary for carrying out their purpose, by means of appearing friendly to the whites, in hunting for them, and selling the proceeds of the chase for guns, powder, balls &c.
In that vicinity there are rich mines, and many American citizens had rushed in there for the purpose of digging for gold. Many persons from the States who had no intention of becoming citizens of that Territory, and who did not become citizens, went there in search of gold. It is the habit of miners, and it is the habit of American citizens who are in search of gold, to take with them a rifle and other weapons which they regard as necessary for their personal safety and protection.
The Indians in that valley, who are a superior race, remarkable for their intelligence, availed themselves of the great number of miners, who purchased of them the game that they could kill, and which was very plenty in that portion of Oregon, to realize a considerable sum of money, which they took care to invest in rifles, pistols, powder, lead and percussion caps, and everything else necessary to commence a war of extermination; in this way all they had received in twelve months past had been invested. At that time the white people in the vicinity, among whom were many families, believed they were as safe as the people of the city in Washington now consider themselves.
The massacre commenced the first day by a scattering band of Indians; and Edwards, Willis and Nolen, all of them American citizens, were massacred. Only these three were murdered the first day. This was, however, only a beginning of the execution of a scheme which had been matured for sweeping off every white man, woman and child in that country. This tribe had formed an alliance with other tribes. The Klamath Indians, numbering some five hundred warriors, within seventy-five miles, and Tipsoe Tyee's band, within twenty-five miles, had agreed to join them in the massacre; and, as soon as the war commenced, they were all to rush in, and sweep from the face of the earth every man, woman and child. And, Mr. Chairman, their designs would have been accomplished, but for the prompt and efficient aid of Captain Alden, who is now in this city, crippled for life, in consequence of a wound he received in that war. I say that but for his aid they would have been swept from the country, every man, woman and child. The Indians were well armed; and it is a fact, strange as it may seem, that the white people were mostly without arms. They had no apprehensions from these Indians. They had lived with them for many months in peace. They had sold their arms to the Indians, and believed them to be perfectly harmless in their intentions.
When the massacre commenced Captain Alden was one hundred miles off. The intelligence was received, and he, with a company of ten men, his whole available force, immediately started in the night and rushed to the rescue. They succeeded in checking the Indians for the time being. In the meantime two companies of Californians, under Captains Goodall and Rhodes, turned out and joined Captain
Alden. All the people, or nearly all in Rogue River Valley, capable of bearing arms, were organized into companies, two under Captains Miller and Lamerick for active service, and one under Captain Fowler, for the protection of the town of Jacksonville. The two companies under Captains Miller and Lamerick were organized into a battalion, and placed under the command of Colonel Ross. I take occasion here to say that too much praise cannot be given to Captain Alden for his prompt organization of these troops, or to the troops themselves for their gallantry and good conduct.
Soon after the battle with the Indians, Captain Nesmith, who had been ordered out by the Governor, joined me with a large company of volunteers; also, Captain Smith, with a company of United States dragoons; Captains Martin, Applegate and Terry, each with a small company, promptly repaired to the theater of hostilities. To all these officers, and the men under their command, I take pleasure in saying that great praise is due for their gallant and soldier-like bearing. I also take pleasure in saying that I am indebted to Major Alvord, of the United States Army, for much valuable assistance in negotiating a treaty with the Indians, as well as Superintendent Palmer. Mr. Culver, Indian agent, threw down the shovel, the pick and other mining implements, and rushed to the rescue. By this timely movement the progress of the massacre was checked, and but for it every white inhabitant of that country must have been stricken down. He divided his forces at night, so as to prevent the Indians from coming upon the settlements, and in that way managed to hold them in check. Many skirmishes, however, ensued, and John R. Hardin, Dr. Rose and others were killed. On the morning of the 16th of August, I received notice at my residence, which is one hundred miles north of that point, that the Indians had commenced a general slaughter of the white people of that country. This intelligence was brought to me by Mr. Etlinger and Mr. Nichol, who had ridden the whole distance in a day and night. In a few minutes after its arrival, I was on the road to the Rogue River Valley.
I mention these facts to show the committee my knowledge of the transactions there. It is necessary that I should allude to them.
On the 15th day of August, Captain Armstrong, a valued and respected citizen of Oregon, passed my house on his way to California, through the Rogue River Valley. Then the rumor was indefinite--that there was trouble in that quarter--but we did not know to what extent. It had been my lot to have been thrown into the company of Captain Armstrong in 1851, during a war with the same Indians. I found him a gallant and valuable gentleman. I mentioned that I was unwilling to see him go in the direction in which he was going without a rifle. He had none with him. "What," he replied, "was the matter?" I told him the rumor had reached me that there was trouble of some kind in the valley; that his life was too valuable to be incautiously trusted there; and that he had better take my rifle. He did so. In the course of that night he met the express going for me, and waited until I overtook him, when we traveled together. We arrived in Rogue River Valley [the] 19th of August. We found Captain Alden, with his usual gallantry and efficiency, in command, and affording protection to our citizens. His force, in my judgment, was sufficient to make a movement against the enemy, which he had already contemplated. A few days before, a portion of his command under Lieutenant Ely had been sent to make a reconnaissance. He fell into an ambuscade, and nearly half his command were killed. The other half would have shared the same fate but for the timely arrival of a reinforcement. Although I came as a volunteer, Captain Alden insisted that I should take the command of the troops. At his urgent request I did so. Sunday afternoon order was given to be ready to move on Monday morning at four o'clock. At the appointed time every foot was in the stirrup. Wednesday morning we overtook the Indians, and brought them to battle. Captain Alden was shot down. Captain Armstrong received a shot at about the same moment, and just had time to say that they had given him a dead center shot. The conflict led to a peace. Notwithstanding the screams, yells and war-whoops of the Indians for four hours, and notwithstanding we had failed to dislodge them, they agreed to make peace. They asked for peace. They wanted to know who commanded the troops. I heard them. I know their language well, having had a good deal to do with them, and knew most of them personally. They called out for me to come in, as they wanted a talk. They were tired of fighting, and desired peace. Well, I had been a little hurt myself, and I said to them and to the command that I would rather fight forty battles than talk about one peace. But after a good deal of time had been lost, and after a great deal of persuasion, I went among them. The preliminaries of a peace were made on the battleground. We camped on the battleground for two nights. The Indians were so well satisfied that there would be a peace that they assisted in removing our wounded men on litters across the country, which, by the by, is the worst country I ever traveled over. Well, a peace was made, and it has been maintained until this time, and I think it always will be maintained, for the government has purchased their lands. A treaty was made with them directly after the war for their territory, and that treaty has been ratified.
I have given this history of the war from its commencement to its termination, for the purpose of satisfying the committee that the volunteers who turned out on that occasion ought to be paid for their services. I ask that the Secretary of War may be authorized to pay them. Many lost their lives. The Indians killed nearly as many of us as we killed of them. We only ask that those volunteers who turned out and assisted in putting down an Indian war that would otherwise have lasted for years, and cost the government millions of dollars, and hundreds of lives--and, as it was, did cost us the lives of many valuable citizens--may be paid for their services. The troops were disbanded as soon as it was thought safe to do so. I kept them with me but a few days after the peace was made, and remained near the Indians for several weeks myself for two reasons; one was that I was not very well able to get away from them, and the other was that I knew that by remaining there until the hot blood had somewhat cooled I could prevent a renewal of hostilities between the Indians and the whites. We only ask that the volunteers shall be paid for the time which they actually served, and the necessary expenses of subsistence, ammunition, forage and so forth. The accounts were all carefully kept. Captain Alden had appointed quartermasters and commissaries, and the accounts were as accurate and correct as I have ever seen them in the Army. I hope this explanation will satisfy the committee that the bill ought to pass.
Mr. WASHBURN, of Maine. I should like to ask the gentleman from Oregon a question. Will the gentleman state about how much the expenditures will amount to?
Mr. LANE. My opinion is that they will amount to about $150,000; perhaps a little over or a little under. I cannot, however, say exactly.
Mr. WASHBURN. The language of the bill is rather wide. It provides for appropriating money for the expenditures for all necessary and proper supplies. Now, would it not be well enough to have some limitation as to the full amount?
Mr. LANE. I am very willing to say that it shall not exceed $175,000, if the committee desire that there shall be a restriction. But I have confidence in the Secretary of War. I have confidence in his ability, integrity and honesty, and in his capacity to judge from the papers what allowances are reasonable. He will allow nothing wrong, and we ask nothing but what is right. Let me say here that, so far as I was concerned, I settled my accounts on the spot. I went out as a volunteer, but I received while there a commission as brigadier general from the acting Governor of the Territory. As soon as I could ride down from the portion of the country where the war took place, I returned the commission with a note on it that I charged nothing for my services; that I would not receive anything for them then, or at any future time, nor will I.
But that was not the case with others. Many persons left their business and hurried to the rescue of the people there, when the Indians were about to tomahawk men, women and children; and this would have been done, had it not been for the noble conduct of Captain Alden and those brave men who volunteered in their defense. All I ask is that these men shall be paid, and that the actual and necessary expenses of the war shall also be paid. I hope no further explanations will be necessary.
"Thirty-Third Congress," Daily Globe, Washington, D.C., May 6, 1854, page 4
ATTENTION! VOLUNTEERS OF '53,
IN THE ROGUE RIVER WAR.
D. M. KENNEY, Attorney at Law, Jacksonville, O.T., having formed a copartnership with JOHN S. EDWARDS, Esq., Attorney at Law, at Washington City, D.C., for the prosecution of claims against the general government, for this section of country, is prepared to attend to the collection of back pay of volunteers, extra pay, pensions or land warrants, under the Bounty Act--back pay of those who served in hospitals, and all other kinds of business with the government at Washington.
Mr. Edwards' universally admitted ability, known energy and promptness in the discharge of business committed to his care, is a sufficient guarantee to claimants to place their business in the hands of the firm.
D. M. KENNEY, Jacksonville,Charges moderate.
JOHN S. EDWARDS, Washington, D.C.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, May 24, 1856
An Indian Campaign.
During the summer of 1853, the Indian tribes along the Siskiyou Mountains and the Rogue River in Oregon became excessively annoying to both settlers and miners. They had succeeded in procuring such a supply of firearms as made them bold and, probably exasperated by various outrages perpetrated by the thoughtless miners, finally broke out in open rebellion. Whole settlements were laid in ruins, the citizens burned in their own houses or making their escape from the flames only to be scalped by the remorseless foe. [No Southern Oregon towns were ever burned or even attacked by the Indians, and in 1853 no one was burned alive and no known whites scalped.] Miners were driven from their labors, and a general panic pervaded in the whole territory. Assistance was called for and readily supplied by the northern portion of California and from the Willamette Valley, and a company of cavalry in the regular service was also sent to the scene of conflict. [Captain Alden with around a dozen dragoons arrived, but no cavalry.] A large number of inhabitants about Jacksonville volunteered to assist in (as they said) wiping out the redskins. Yreka, Klamath Lake and other towns in the vicinity [there were no white inhabitants east of the Cascades in Southern Oregon in 1853] furnished recruits, and the assembled motley soldiery were under the immediate command of Gen. Joseph Lane, then a representative in Congress from that Territory. There very soon assembled about six hundred of the hardiest of the hardy pioneers and miners, and there was a large prospect of a big Indian hunt and lots of fun. But it was discovered at length that all the ammunition in the vicinity was inadequate for a half day's battle. Arms & ammunition were accordingly ordered up from Fort Vancouver. Lieut. Kautz and a half score of regulars were dispatched with these articles and after leaving Salem were escorted by about eighty volunteers under the command of Capt. J. W. Nesmith, now U.S. Senator from Oregon. A more laughable collection of humans never marched out in battle array. Horses of all sizes and colors, halt, lame and blind, ridden by men in every conceivable style of dress, from the fig leaf of Adam to the beau monde of Broadway and armed with guns and pistols of every pattern extant. There were idlers who went for the pay, boys who went for the excitement, loafers who went for the glory, and timid persons who thought there was no danger and that they would have a history thereafter to relate and a few who decided to maintain law and order and punish the faithless Indians.
Capt. Nesmith had seen similar service upon former occasions, and was not disposed to attach any more importance to the event than naturally belonged there, and after getting fairly started on the journey made a spirited address to his command in which he laid down the duty that was before them. "First of all, boys," said he, "you are about to march through a wild, unsettled country filled with hostile Indians. If you see one, don't wait for orders, but shoot him and don't waste ammunition. Second, we shall pass, at different points of the route, stations where the traveler can find shelter and food, and at all of these places I am grieved to learn that whiskey is kept and sold to the miners and perhaps to the Indians also. After having subdued the Indians, our next duty must be to those rumholes. If we should have a battle and our ranks should be decimated, the survivors will have the more to do. But as for leaving this country without accomplishing our mission, we must not, we will not. We must save this country from the sin of intemperance. The most effective plan for us to pursue will be to drink every drop of ardent spirit in the country. Boys, I will do my share, and I hope you will do your duty."
At this burst of patriotism, the command shouted, and every man avowed himself ready for the enterprise.
There was much of the way no other road than a path used by pack trains in carrying the supplies for the mines from the seaboard to the mines, and our progress was necessarily very slow, and the labor of dragging the six-pounder brass howitzer and its caisson was laborious, especially after reaching the Umpqua Mountains, and the first flush of the undertaking wore off long before getting beyond the bounds of the settled country. There were very many who would gladly have escaped from the balance of the job but for their pride, while others became more and more fascinated with this wild adventure as it began to grow irksome to others. The ludicrous appearance of the party did not become less striking but went from bad to worse in geometrical progression until every dullard in the command laughed, not only at his own figure, but at the appearance of everybody else. The buckskin pants, then very generally worn, were assuming such shape as accident gave them in their series of wettings and dryings to which almost every day exposed them. Some that were at first too long for the tallest man in the party were now too short for the shortest, so that there was a universal appearance of the whole company's having made a raid on some boy's clothing emporium and cleaned it out. But the uniform was not the most amusing part of this adventure, as those will discover who read the subsequent chapter of this veritable history.
East Saginaw Courier, Michigan, March 16, 1864, page 1
An Indian Campaign.The march from Fort Vancouver to Jacksonville traversed the most beautiful portion of Oregon and displayed scenery of landscapes that the pen of Scott or the pencil of Landseer never could have fitly described or portrayed. The scenery of the Alps may be more awe-inspiring; Switzerland may show glaciers full of wonder and terror, but no land from its every outlook shows such complete beauty of landscape as Oregon. The pencil of the painter never traced such magic lines of graceful sweep, such sublime aerial prospect, such broad prairies and lofty mountains, such broad and rapid streams and such deep groves, over which hangs the silent beauty of dreamland. How few, even in these days of travel and enterprise, understand the extent and fertility of the states beyond the Rocky Mountains, and what eyes of wonder they open upon the relater of travels in those distant states.
Fort Vancouver stands upon the north bank of the Columbia River, five miles above the mouth of the Willamette, and is nothing more than an old trading post established by the Hudson Bay Fur Company soon after their headquarters were established at Astoria.
Starting from this point we passed up the Willamette River past Portland, Oregon City and the beautiful falls--a miniature resemblance of the Niagara--and as far as Champoeg were disembarked from our steamboat and began our journey overland. At this point the broad tableland known as French Prairie comes down to the riverbank in a bold bluff and sweeps away toward the south for many miles, and spreads itself from the Willamette River to the Cascade Mountains in one unbroken field of green.
Here the first farmers in Oregon began their labors, and being unable to obtain white housekeepers consoled themselves with the best article of squaws to be secured, and in consequence this settlement is comprised almost entirely of half-breeds.
Approaching the southern boundary of this prairie we fall into a narrow belt of woodland, which is the only boundary dividing it from the great valley of the Willamette.
This valley extends from Salem to the Umpqua Mountains, and from the Coast Range to the Cascade, including many hundred square miles of the most fertile lands, with little belts of timber along the streams that here and there meander through the broad expanse of meadows. Standing at any point upon this open country you see the ever-snowcapped peaks of Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson and the Twin Sisters glistening in the sunshine and overhung by clouds of mist, or cold and bleak standing out against the dark horizon like specters of terror and destruction. Great gulfs and chasms yawn in their rocky sides, and now and then Mr. Jefferson lights up the dark night with fitful gleams from its seething crater and vomits out great streams of red-hot lava that leave their blackened track upon the snowfields like huge rivers of ink. [Mt. Jefferson has not erupted for over a thousand years.] The southern boundary of this valley is the Umpqua Range of mountains which run parallel with the river of the same name, and though having no towering peaks are very rocky and precipitous.
The only passage over them was made by gradual ascents until we reached a great elevation, and then the descent was rapid, winding along between the river and the mountains where in many places the only footing for man or beast was a path of only a few inches' breadth made by great effort in the side of the rocks. Above towered the mountains, and below rushed the rapid river.
One of our mules, swerving slightly from this narrow way, lost his footing and went over the declivity with a wild scream. We waited but an instant to know his fate, for falling with his load sheer into the deep stream he sank from our sight without a struggle. For nearly a mile we followed this wild and dangerous way, seemingly suspended in the air by a thread which a single word would sever and plunge us over the precipice beyond the reach of human hands, then reached the level country beyond called the Umpqua Valley and extending to the highlands along the Rogue River. This valley presents the primest grazing country we have ever seen, and is rapidly settling up. Here Gen. Jo Lane has made his home upon a broad tract of land which labor will soon make as fine a farm as the sun shines upon. Here upon the last declivity of the mountains at the ford of the river we met the first Indian we had seen while on our march.
Upon his head he wore the horns and head of a deer for a cap, and was rigged out in the most distressing guise we have ever seen.
We tried to learn from him whether prowling bands of savages were about the country, whether any battle had been fought, what tribe he belonged to, and where he lived, but his only reply was "nika [illegible]," "I do not know."
[illegible] his too innocent reliance upon our favor awoke in the minds of some of the party apprehensions of an ambush or a surprise, and an adventure was the result, which being the first thought [to have] occurred upon the march we reserve for our next chapter.
East Saginaw Courier, Michigan, March 23, 1864, page 1
An Indian Campaign.Our first camp in the Umpqua Valley was beautifully located on the south bank of the river upon a broad stretch of prairie dotted here and there by abrupt bluffs, crowned with a heavy growth of timber. Just at the foot of one of those hill forests lay our camp, and spread over the ground with no protection or covering save a blanket these rough pioneers and adventurers lay in as much ease and enjoyment as if in a palace, and upon the best of beds. Our frugal evening meal was scarcely over when darkness almost impenetrable closed around us and rain began to fall in torrents. Well habituated to all such annoyances, the larger portion of the company were soon soundly sleeping indifferent to rain, Indian wars or other trifles. But two of the party had imagined something terrible about to happen, and their fears drove sleep from their eyes and sense from their heads. They lay only a few feet away from Captain Nesmith, and when they supposed him sleeping indulged in sundry strictures upon his carelessness in conducting a force of so much importance and so little strength through an enemy's country. Both were lieutenants, elected by vote of the volunteers before leaving Salem, and both felt the responsibility of their stations. Darus was the more valiant of the two, but Jones was not much his inferior, and after having fully canvassed the carelessness of allowing the whole company to go to sleep without a single sentry on duty, their fears went back to the Indian we had seen in the morning in such outlandish guise. From the Indian they came rapidly to the hard night and favorable opportunity, and as they turned the subject over in their minds their apprehensions almost became realities, and they pictured the whole neighborhood in ruins, the inhabitants and our little band all slaughtered, and the triumphant savages dancing over our scalpless heads, while our little "locks of hair" ornamented the belts of our sanguinary foes. To such wild extremes did their vagaries run that they soon sat up and began peering out into the bleak night with the evident expectation of discovering a lurking foe somewhere in the vicinity. The wooded hill standing out against the sky, like a huge mountain, became a special object of attention and was selected by them as the point from which the attack would surely come. Talking made them thirsty, and they relieved that by frequent applications administered internally from a pocket flask, reported to contain whiskey. Their fears or the whiskey at last raised their imaginary terrors to such a pitch that they proposed to set out and make the circuit of the camp to see that all was quiet. Jones proposed that they should first drink, and then as a dutiful soldier he proposed to wake the captain and inform him of the danger likely to befall his command. Darus overruled this counsel, and proposed to drink and set out upon their own responsibility, which they accordingly done. It had now been raising in torrents for two hours, and every hollow in the earth was full of water, into which these vigilant sentinels splashed headlong. After a long circuit, they came back to the wooded hill and dived into its hidden terrors fearlessly. The clouds began to brighten up, and objects could be distinguished at short distances. This circumstance was another terror to our heroes, as great as the darkness had been before. Here they were, outside of camp, without the knowledge of anyone, and if in returning by misfortune they should awake some light sleeper and he should in the darkness mistake them for foes, a murder would surely follow.
He proposed to drink and then hail the camp, to prevent accidents, but fearing the ridicule of the whole command, they concluded to effect their return stealthily. They at last succeeded in getting into camp without any accident and sat down on a log somewhat broken and decayed to arrange a plan for presenting this matter of sleeping without sentry to the captain. They occasionally got over a knotty point in their discussion by appeal to the flask, and by the time that was empty [they] had become so tolerably happy that they did not care whether they were surprised by Indians or not. They still retained their seats on the old log, and were valiant in their determinations, when Darus started up wildly, flung his arms frantically about him and shouted at the top of his Stentor lungs, "Snakes in the camp, boys! Snakes."
There was confusion in the camp. Some, who had been witnesses to their actions from the first, roared with laughter; others screamed to know what was the matter, and others swore at this heedless interruption of their rainy dreams. Capt. Nesmith was the first to address the valiant Darus, which he did in these words: "Lieut., the censures you have heaped upon my head are of no consequence. The imaginary foes you have conjured up are not ferocious. The whiskey you have drunk is vile stuff, or it would not have affected you so severely. The arousing of this camp from slumber is of no consequence--none of these offenses are worthy of mention--but for a lieutenant in the dead of night to attack a rotten log and turn the pismires out into this rain is damnable, and I advise you to shake them out of your breeches legs and go to bed."
Everybody shouted, and Lieutenant Pismire is still hailed by his friends with "Snakes in the camp, boys! Snakes." He looks ferocious when thus accosted, but he is not disposed to be quarrelsome.
East Saginaw Courier, Michigan, March 30, 1864, page 1
An Indian Campaign.The Umpqua Valley, as we have already said, abounds in broad, rolling prairies, intersected in every direction with ridges and islands of timber, with beautiful streams of pure spring water meandering in all directions and adding a beauty to the landscape and an untold value to these unequaled ranges of pasture land. In years to come, when that state shall no longer be considered the last point this side of sundown, when farmers shall have settled down to their proper work, that portion lying between the Umpqua River and the range of high and rugged hills that separate it from Rogue River Valley will be the finest dairy country beyond the Rocky Mountains. It was until as late as 1862 the grazing field of vast herds of wild cattle, but the lasso of the Mexican and rifle of the miner soon diminished the number and finally drove away the last hoof in [to?] the now rapidly settling boundaries of Idaho. In crossing these lands we met with no adventures of importance, and our only life was the song and jest of the thoughtless, or the careful performance of our captain's first injunction relative to the reckless retailers of bad whiskey that here and there had erected their earthly tenements away from neighbors and away from civilization. To them the Ho! mula! of the train driver and the tinkle of the leader's bell was a bit of music and a sure indication that their station was about to be patronized, and in those days loaded trains were going down, or empty ones returning, almost daily. But the effect of our appearance upon the owners of these "dens" in the wilderness was anything but inspiring, and the result of a call was the cleaning out of the entire stock of provisions and drink, and however much they might beg and entreat or swear and threaten, the same fate awaited them all. These little episodes alone served to awaken laughter and arouse us from monotony until we came to the base of the mountains that form the northern boundary of the Rogue River Valley and where we again had a slight adventure.
The only means of crossing this range is secured by taking up the bed of a stream that has its source exactly at the summit, and within a few feet of where another stream forms and makes it way down the opposite declivity. This stream at times is full and turbulent, and for many days places an effectual barrier upon travel; at others its bed is almost dry. Fortunately the latter was the case when we passed up its rocky and uneven way. Its course is tortuous in the extreme, and the rocks on either side are precipitous and wild. It fell to the fortune of our valiant Lieut. Pismire to have command of the rear guard. As we ascended this canyon several of the boys in the advance deemed this a proper place for an ambush, and the Lieutenant a proper person to capture and scalp. They accordingly secreted themselves in the thick, hanging brushwood that grew everywhere in abundance and waited the approach of the little party that brought up the rear.
On they came, wholly unconscious of a lurking foe, until of a sudden up sprang the ambuscade, fired a pistol or two, shouted wildly, and made a dash for the brave lieutenant. He only fancied a surprise, and proposing to make his lines of retreat perfect wheeled his horse and fled down that precipitous way as fast as the conditions of the road would permit, but not fast enough to elude one of the assailers, who, bounding over a point of rocks, struck the stream below him and commanded him to halt! So frightened was the poor dupe that he mistook the man for an Indian and proposed not only to surrender, but to pay ransom for his life in the property of his clothing, his arms and his horse. The conditions were accepted and possession given before he so far became sensible enough to see the joke, and he was obliged for the balance of the day to plod his way on foot, up and down mountains and through mud, his captor refusing to restore the price of his ransom without securing his scalp.
His tormentor pursued him with such restless mockery that he at last reported the matter to Captain Nesmith, and he at once removed the Lieutenant from the command of the rear guard and detailed him to ride forward, select a place for a camping ground and clear it of snakes, and cautioned him to be also on the alert for an ambuscade.
The lieutenant still wears his hair, but his captor claims it under mortgage and does at times declare forfeiture, but always is persuaded to allow his victim to escape the penalty, but whether one's scalp under such circumstances is worth the wearing is a question never decided by the courts, and as we are not a witness, and not under oath, and if we were could not testify to the facts, we submit it without further argument to the man, begging him to remember that
He who fights and runs awayEast Saginaw Courier, Michigan, April 6, 1864, page 1
May live to fight another day
An Indian Campaign.The first day of our march in the Rogue River Valley was signalized by a word of caution from our captain, assuring us that we were now in the country of the enemy and ought to be on our guard against surprises and ambuscades. The appearance of an Indian in the morning, lurking about our rear, added to the tremor occasioned by the Captain's caution, and later in the day we came upon the charred remains of three houses, and nearby the mangled bodies of two men and three women were visible.
We committed their "dust to dust" and advanced very cautiously to our camping ground. The night closed around us dark as Egypt, and as rainy as at any time during the flood. Our sentinels were posted, our fires quenched and silence, the most unbroken, reigned over us, when the sudden "Halt! Who comes there?" of the watchful sentinel, and the discharge of his musket a moment later disturbed the sleeping camp, and such shouting, bustling and running and falling down and getting up again in the black darkness were never before heard since Babel. The sentinel shouted "Indians! Indians!" and the camp responded "Indians! Indians!" Attempts were made to light torches, but the matches were all wet, and that was abandoned. At last there was a lull in the hubbub, and Captain Nesmith commanded silence.
As soon as there was an opportunity to make himself understood he hailed the sentinel who gave the alarm and inquired what he had seen or heard. The reply came short and decided.
"A d----d Indian creeping in to steal the horses and mules, and I have shot him dead."
Upon examination the latter part of the story proved entirely true, for spread out on the ground lay a poor half-starved wolf of the coyote species dead as a herring. There was a general shout at the discovery; everybody drank to the success of the sentry and went to grass again and were soon asleep. About midnight Lieutenant Pismire, as officer of the guard, went out on a round of exploration, and in the darkness strayed beyond our lines, and on attempting to get back again was hailed by the sentry, and being somewhat thick in the tongue, was taken for an Indian trying to speak English, and was at once fired at. He shouted "Murder! Murder! Murder!" and rolled upon the grass in the last agonies of a dying man. The corporal of the guard rushed out and with the aid of the sentinel brought him in, while the sentinel who fired the fatal shot prayed for forgiveness and professed the deepest contrition and remorse.
After a deal of puffing and blowing a light was raised among the embers of the evening fire, torches were lighted and the Lieutenant carefully examined to discover his hurt. He begged to be left alone, to die and not be put to pain by being moved, and at every movement he screamed in agony. After a careful examination it was discovered that the Lieutenant's wound was only fear; not a scratch could be discovered, and when informed that he was uninjured he declared that he felt the blood trickling down his back. On examination it proved that he lay in a small stream of water, and it was only upon the solemn assertion of the Captain that he could be induced to believe that he was not a dead man.
He at last ended himself up and went to the guard room, and to his whiskey, in anger and grief. It was daylight before silence was again restored, and many days before the question was forgotten to be propounded whenever the Lieutenant was in sight. "How are the wounded?"
On the following day it being our fortune to be thrown forward as scout we discovered a specimen of frontier coolness that was amusing and characteristic. After a long and tedious ride over rough and uneven ground and through dense forests, we came down to the Rogue River, a broad, deep stream, at a point where the ferry crosses, and where the solitary house of the ferryman was the only white man's house we had seen in this valley that the Indians had not burned to ashes.
As we came in sight of the ferry, we observed the ferryman making a series of dodges from tree to tree, and heard the sound of a rifle at no great distance. Almost at the same instant the ferryman raised his rifle and fired. He then raised himself very deliberately from his cover and, walking down to the river, began to bathe his face and head. So intent was he on this occupation that he did not discover our approach until we asked him what was the matter.
He looked up, his face all covered with blood, and after staring at us a moment, said:
"Stranger, nothing is the matter with me; only a d----d redskin has clipped my ear a trifle, but if ever he does it again it will be after I am dug under and am food for worms. Just now he lies yonder with his headpiece cut clean open and his scalplock spoke for."
It was indeed true, and as our new acquaintance was disposed to be hospitable we tied up our horse to a peck of corn and went in and smiled.
East Saginaw Courier, Michigan, April 13, 1864, page 1
An Indian Campaign.After crossing the Rogue River we at once came upon the settlement surrounding the stirring little city of Jacksonville, which was then so densely inhabited as to make the Indians very timid of approach, and we accordingly advanced without further fear of molestation. On arriving at Jacksonville we learned that General Lane's headquarters were at Table Rock, some twelve miles distant, and as our entire mission was to supply ammunition and arms for his command we at once drank a ration of bad whiskey at the expense of the city and marched out in all the "pride, pomp and circumstance of glorious war."
At nightfall we fell in with the outposts, and still having a rough and rugged way before us we went to grass in a torrent of rain and six inches of mud, with the blue vault of Heaven over us, beyond our vision, and intense darkness wrapped around us; there we lay, within a few miles of the enemy, without sentry, and almost without a thought of danger, so thoroughly had all the frights of other nights convinced us that our greatest enemy was imagination and coyotes. The morning dragged herself up through the rain in a miserable condition, and after a hasty meal we again got the command, "Column forward!" About noon we found ourselves upon the southern bank of the Rogue River again, while on the opposite rested the command of Gen. Lane and about eight thousand Indians in the most friendly manner conceivable. Some of the wild fellows of our company vented their wrath upon this condition of affairs and vowed to shoot the first Indian caught outside the camp. In fact, an old muleteer, who had suffered not a little from the Indians in his various trips from the mines to the valley for supplies, swore roundly to have full satisfaction for the past, indemnity for the future.
Of course there were enough of the wild and reckless in the two camps ready for any undertaking, and on the following night "crazy Bob Wilson," as he was generally called, collected a party of eighteen and started without the knowledge of any officer to make good his threats of vengeance.
Being well acquainted with the country and having discovered from scouts about the camp that an Indian chief, known among the whites as Taylor Jim, with about twenty Snake Indians were camped about ten miles away, they went out and under cover of the night surrounded their camp and with the first streak of morning light rushed in upon their unsuspecting foes, and before any ineffectual resistance was made they killed or captured the whole party. The old chief was among the prisoners, and being personally acquainted with Wilson pled for his life, but his captor was relentless as fate. One after the other of the prisoners were set up like turkeys at a shooting match and shot down without the slightest regard to law, human or divine, "Old Bob" crying out at each shot, "Go in, boys! Kill the d----d diggers and make treaty afterward." Old Taylor Jim preserved his stoical indifference, and when he alone was left, raised upon his feet and marched out to the allotted spot with arms folded and steady step, and there awaited his death. The order was given and every man in the party fired, and the old chief fell forward upon his face pierced by eighteen bullets. The party then returned to camp, fully satisfied with the exploit, and as they were warm friends with many of the officers their breach of law was overlooked and charged to the casualties of war.
The misfortune which led to this brutal outrage lay solely in the fact that on the day before our arrival General Lane had attacked the enemy, and after a sharp skirmish of two hours duration, in which a large number of Indians were killed, and several whites wounded, the enemy begged for a "talk" and before nightfall a treaty was effected, and the two forces rested side by side upon the prairie that lies between Table Rock and the river. In this skirmish Gen. Lane received a shot through the flesh of his right arm,just below the shoulder, and the gallant Major Alden, that years ago was stationed at Detroit, was shot in a frightful manner. The ball entered just beside the main artery on the left side of the neck, and passed out below the shoulder blade, and yet in a few months afterward we saw him looking as well as ever. Nothing of any further importance resulted, and the several commands scattered to their respective homes and had hardly settled down again to their usual avocation before the depredations of the Indians became as bad as ever. But having once "fought and bled and died and laid under the fence for our country," we abjured Indian campaigns and settled back to the peaceful habits of civil life.
East Saginaw Courier, Michigan, April 27, 1864, page 1
On our arrival at Humbug, we found the miners "up in arms," and organizing a company of volunteers to go to Jacksonville, in the Rogue River Valley, Oregon, seventy-five miles north, a courier having brought in word that the Rogue River, Shasta and Klamath Indians had "broke out," and were killing, pillaging, and burning everything before them; and it was believed that the Indians who had just escorted us had killed eight or ten men at the mouth of Humbug a few days before.
We afterward learned that William's band of Klamaths joined "Old Sam's" and "John's" band of Rogue River Indians, and fought with them throughout the "Rogue River War" of 1853.
I joined Captain Rhodes' company of "Humbug boys," as also did John Scarbrough, one of my former partners; and we proceeded to Jacksonville, as did Captain Goodall's company of "Yreka boys" and seven or eight soldiers from Fort Jones, under Colonel Aldrich (if my memory don't fail me as regards the name). Reaching Jacksonville without adventure, we went into camp near Table Rock on Rogue River.
From here, twenty-one men, including Crosbie and myself, John Melvin (Greasy John), "Grizzly," and others, whose names I have forgotten, were sent out as scouts. We were each armed with a "muzzle-loading" rifle, a brace of Colt's "navy" revolvers, and a knife--except Crosbie, who had a patent gun with two cylinders, which he could fire sixteen times without reloading. We crossed the mountain to Evans Creek, twenty miles distant, where we "struck the trails" of Indians.
We followed these trails up the creek some miles, until we were satisfied that the Indians had very recently passed up into the mountains.
We knew their fighting qualities, Old John's and Sam's bands of "Rogue Rivers" being said to be the bravest Indians and the most stubborn fighters in the Northwest. That the reader may form some idea of their bravery, I will here relate that when one of these renowned chiefs was being taken to the military prison at Alcatraz, near San Francisco, on an ocean steamer, he actually captured the vessel, having no other weapon than a capstan bar; and held the deck for some time before he was overpowered, then as he lay on the deck in irons, he said, grating his teeth, that if he had had one of his warriors to assist him, he would have kept the "hyas kanim" (big canoe). Then many of the brave white men on board wanted to hang him, but the captain told them that an Indian who could do what that one had was too brave a man to suffer such an ignominious death. This is told as a fact, and I have no doubt of its truthfulness.
But to my story: we returned down the creek a few miles and being hungry made a stop, to let our horses graze awhile, and to partake of such provisions as we had with us.
Some of us picketed our horses and others "hobbled" theirs on the creek bottom, which was covered with luxuriant grass. We then fell to work in our own interest, and after satisfying our appetites, stretched ourselves on the grass under a few pine trees that grew in the bend of the creek, to rest, while our horses fed. The bottom here was three or four hundred yards wide and the creek running through it was fringed on each side with willows and other brush. From the willows to the foot of the hills, or mountain spurs, was level prairie. The foothills were studded with sugar and "bull pine" trees, and were clear of underbrush. The bend in the creek where we rested was in something the shape of a horseshoe, and our shade trees stood near the center of this bend.
While resting here, some lying down, others sitting up talking, our horses quietly grazing, none of us suspecting any danger, or that there was an Indian within miles of us, we were suddenly saluted with a volley, and the unearthly yells of hundreds of Indians from the bushes which almost surrounded us. Our horses stampeded and scattered excepting one that was being held by one of the boys. This he immediately mounted, and "struck out," for our camp on Rogue River. The first glance showed us that we must retreat to the foothills; this we did as fast as we could, assisting our wounded along, leaving our dead as they lay.
Reaching the timber, we found that seven of our comrades had been killed and that seven more were so badly wounded that they could not stand up after we got them there.
The one on the horse we believed--and it was soon proved--had escaped and gone after the rest of the company. Our wounded had retained their arms and ammunition.
The Indians first proceeded to mutilate our dead after their most inhuman fashion, cutting, stabbing and gashing, all the while yelling in the most fiendish manner that the mind of man could conceive. Then, after securing our animals, they swung around on to the mountain above us, so as to work down on us from tree to tree. A few well-directed shots had convinced them that it would not be a healthy undertaking to follow us across the bottom. These movements on their part gave us sufficient time to select our fighting-ground. This we made on the first high ground out of gunshot of the bushes along the creek. As good fortune would have it, a log lay across the narrow ridge. Behind this log we laid our wounded, among whom was "Greasy John," severely wounded in the hip. "Grizzly" had fallen and was one of the dead; Crosbie fell by the log with the wounded, being, as I supposed at the time, more dangerously wounded than any of the others.
The Indians gave us but a short time to prepare for them. We all realized upon reaching the friendly trees that we must stop here and fight it out, or leave our wounded comrades to the tender mercies of these inhuman fiends, and even then, in all likelihood, be overtaken and killed in detail ourselves.
Our only thought was to stand by our comrades, and fight for them and ourselves to the bitter end.
Those that were able to fight could command two rifles and four revolvers each, as we could use those of our wounded as well as our own. Some of our wounded comrades could load our revolvers when emptied, as a ball that fitted one, would fit all.
Our respite was short. The Indians, armed with guns, bows and arrows--few of them had revolvers at the time--soon came down on us, jumping from tree to tree for cover, all the time firing and making the mountains re-echo their bloodcurdling war-whoop. They seemed determined to "finish us up" there and then, at all hazards. They charged down to within a few yards of our log and trees, but here they met such a withering fire from our Colt revolvers, that those who were able were only too anxious to retreat to a more respectful distance, and for awhile contented themselves with firing on us from trees behind which they had taken cover. On this first charge there were but five of us on our feet--Crosbie lying by the wounded as dead. "Greasy John" and one or two others would from time to time raise on their elbows or to a sitting position, and over their log fire a few well-aimed shots, then sink back faint and exhausted, soon revive, reload, struggle to a position and blaze away until their strength failed. This they repeated during the entire fight. The wounded would load our revolvers and pitch them to us as fast as we emptied them, when we were being pressed by these charges. About this time Crosbie raised to his feet, having got over his "scare" (as he afterwards acknowledged for he had lain unhurt all the time). There he stood, his face flushed, his eyes flashing with daring and his repeating rifle firmly grasped, and as his glance took in the position of the five who were stationed around the wounded, under such cover as was most convenient, and our poor and wounded comrades, who in different positions were either engaged in reloading pistols, or helping one another dress their wounds, using pieces of torn shirts or drawers for bandages; then at the few "good Indians," that had fallen so near our log that their friends dare not attempt to remove them, all this time standing in open view amid the firing, and while friendly voices were calling to him to "take cover," his voice rang out clear as a bell and above all other sounds, as he started up the comical song, "Jordan is a hard road to travel." In all my life, I have heard but few voices that could equal his for power and sweetness, and as he leisurely walked to a tree he sang:
"I looked to the east, and I looked to the west,Then his gun sprang to his shoulder, there was a flash, a report, and an Indian's "heel flew up." Again his joyous voice rang out clear and sweet:
And I saw a chariot coming
With four bay horses running their best,
To tote you to the other side of Jordan."
"Haul off your jacket,to the accompaniment of cracking rifles and pistols, our defiant shouts, and the hellish yells of the infuriated Indians; then flash, bang!--another Indian called for. Then, as
Roll up your sleeves,
For Jordan is a hard road to travel I believe ;"
" Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden,Bang!--
Viewing the beauties of nater"--
"The devil stuck his headAnd again the trusty rifle would speak its warning, notifying the Indians that we had been reinforced by a giant. [The song parodied was first published in 1853; Hunter may be remembering the song composed at Hungry Hill.]
Through a gooseberry bush,
And I hit 'im a whack with a tater."
To try to describe this man, as he jumped from tree to tree, firing, singing, and by turns calling to us to fire "slow and sure," that our friend would soon come back with the rest of the company, would be a difficult undertaking. "Save your bullets, boys," he would say, "till you have a dead thing, then sling 'em in."
As the Indians would at intervals attempt, in various ways, to get to us under cover, Crosbie's voice would again ring out: "Haul off your jacket," etc. This song he continued to sing, from time to time, for hours, to the strange accompaniments described. The "chords were jarring," but they beat none at all.
Some time after he had come up to the fighting point, and while resting a moment, one of the fingers of his left hand was shot clean off at the second joint. Coming to the tree that I stood behind, he pulled the handkerchief from his neck and one from his pocket, and said, as he looked at the blood spurting from the artery, "Buckeye, tie that up," and again commenced his song, "Jordan is a hard road to travel."
Suffice it to say, that for some four or five long, weary hours (long they certainly were to us six surrounded men), we struggled to save ourselves and wounded comrades from these inhuman fiends. It would require a more able pen than an old-timer's to portray the scene. At every respite we would gaze at our wounded, then across the flat at the dead, and wonder how much longer we could hold out; then, at the warning of Crosbie or some other watchful comrade, we would turn to repulse another attack. "Greasy John" would load a revolver, then grit his teeth and say: "I wouldn't care a d--n if they hadn't shot me" (where it will make riding uncomfortable).
At last we heard a cheering far above the Indians on the mountain, which assured us that the long looked for help was at hand. The ground was not to the liking of the Indians for a general fight. So they at once decamped being warned by the shouts of our advancing friends or by their own lookouts. In a few moments there came dashing among us some dozen or so old miners who had rode their horses till they fell dead or gave out in climbing the mountain, then outstripping the rest on foot, rushed over and down the mountain, the sweat streaming from every pore. In all my life I never saw a more completely given out lot of men than these, the first to reach us, were on their arrival. They cried, hugged, and patted us on the back by turns. But few words were said until the rest of the command arrived. Then after examining the ground fought over, looking at our dead and caring as best we could for the wounded, came questions from all quarters regarding the fight. All wished to know how the boy "Buckeye" stood fire. I was accorded the praise of having saved the party in the first and most desperate charge. The others saying that I stood uncovered, shooting right and left, apparently as cool as though I was shooting at pigeons. But all agreed that it was Crosbie's cool fighting, cheering words, and above all his joyous song during all the other desperate charges, that saved the devoted few from despair and final destruction.
I mention these facts to show how a scare will act on different persons.
Crosbie always said, that when we retreated across the flat to the timber and fell by the log, he was frightened to death, and only recovered after the first charge was repulsed, while all agreed that I had fought like a lion at bay, and probably saved the outfit at first. But I myself was proudly conscious (?) that if I fought at all, it was from instinct, and as a scared boy--for I certainly was as badly, and probably worse scared than Crosbie--and had no recollection of helping "Greasy John" across the flat, as they all said I did, nor anything else during the first charge, or until Crosbie raised and commenced his song. The facts in the case are, that I was scared into a man, while Crosbie came out of his scare and coolly fought and sung into one.
We afterward learned that our friend who got away had rode as fast as he could to Table Rock and given the alarm, telling our boys that we were all killed, or soon would be, but to hurry to our assistance. This was all-sufficient to call forth their utmost energies, and as soon as a man caught a horse, he galloped away regardless of orders or command, using his own judgment, and straining every nerve to reach us first, regardless of danger; and here a struggle commenced, which lasted for twenty-odd miles, each striving to be the first to the rescue.
After all of the company came in, we encamped where we were for the night, putting out our guards. Next morning we took up our march to our former camp on Rogue River, carrying with us our dead and wounded. The dead we buried upon our arrival with the honors of war, our wounded we left in the care of the hospitable citizens of Jacksonville, where nearly all the settlers of the valley had assembled for mutual protection.
We remained in camp here for several days, collecting and killing beeves, and "jerking" the meat. This latter is done by cutting beef into thin slices or strips, it is then salted a little and the strips hung on sticks over a slow fire to dry. When thoroughly dried, it was put up in convenient packages for transportation. This required several days, as we thought best to prepare for a long trail, knowing that the Indians would fight only on their chosen ground.
While collecting and preparing provisions for the expedition, we amused ourselves by running foot-races, jumping and wrestling. We had a man with us by the name of Lout Price, from Cottonwood, California, who outran everyone that tested his speed, as I had all that had been pitted against me.
About this time, General Joseph Lane, accompanied by a Mr. Armstrong, a wealthy gentleman from the Willamette Valley, came to the command. The former took command of the volunteers.
It is hardly necessary for me to say that General Lane commanded the Indiana volunteers in the Mexican War, and the Oregon volunteers in 1850, against these same Indians (Rogue Rivers). He was then delegate to congress from Oregon Territory, afterward Senator, on the admission of Oregon, and, finally, a candidate for the Vice Presidency on the ticket with John C. Breckinridge.
He was a brave and generous frontiersman, self-made, full of resources, and always equal to an emergency. It is said of him that he saved his command in Mexico with his cigar. His command, being encamped, were surprised by a large force of Mexican cavalry. His cannon were ready loaded with grapeshot, but there was no fire with which ‘to "touch them off." Lane saw that these guns must be used to hold the Mexicans in check till his men could form to repulse the charge, or the whole command would be captured. So, as fast as the guns were trained, General Lane would "touch them off " with his lighted cigar, and in this way he saved his command.
General Lane was Oregon's best friend, wielded more influence in Congress than any other man in his day, and it was indeed a "cold day" for the Pacific states and territories when they lost the strength and influence of this noble old veteran.
Our officers concluded to send scouts to Evans Creek, to ascertain what route the Indians had taken after our fight. Past experience having taught us that horses were of no use in scouting these mountains, Lout Price was selected to perform this dangerous duty, as he was believed to have more mountain experience, and to be the fleetest of foot of any. (Many thought I could "hold him level" in a long race, but up to this we had never tested our speed, and I guess each of us feared to test the matter.) When I learned that Price had been selected to perform this mission, I requested the privilege of accompanying him, and he gladly seconded my request. After some opposition from older men, my request was granted, for they all knew I was endowed with great endurance.
Having received our instructions and provided ourselves with a little of the "jerked" beef, we shook hands with our most intimate acquaintances and were set across the river, when we pushed out, up and over the mountain to the scene of our former battle.
Thence slowly and cautiously we made our way up Evans Creek, keeping near to or within the bushes that fringed its banks, using every precaution possible to prevent being ambushed or surprised. We could discern no "sign" indicating that Indians had been there since our fight. Toward evening we found it necessary to cross a bald ridge to another small creek that emptied into the one we had been following up.
After a short rest, we started up a long gentle slope to cross this low elevation. Arriving at the summit to our surprise we discovered the Indian lodges not more than three hundred yards distant on the other creek. As we took in this sight we were made aware that the Indians had discovered us, about the same time we saw them!
They "raised the yell," and started for us. We didn't think it necessary to stop to "count noses," but whirled, and struck for Evans Creek and the brush at our best pace. Now was the time to test our speed. But we did not think it wise to stop to arrange a wager--rather run for glory, Evans Creek and the brush; knowing that our only hope of safety was in reaching the friendly bushes before the Indians could get within rifle shot. We dropped our pouches of "jerked" beef, and as we only carried our revolvers and knives, we were in "light running order." Then commenced a race to save our hair, and a more equal one of five or six hundred yards was scarcely ever made, as we strained every nerve. We ran side by side, and as I looked at Price, I thought "You are a good one for not leaving me." Price afterward said he thought the same of me--as we approached the brush Price "panted out" to me, "Go up the creek, and hide in the thick underbrush, I'll go downstream. Lay low until dark, then take for the mountains and for camp."
It being nearly dark and as I didn't think we would be long separated, I acted on Price's orders, believing we could better elude our pursuers.
On getting well into the brush I crawled up the creek a short distance making as little noise as possible, and "cached" myself. I could hear Price crashing down through the brush, making as much noise as would a yoke of stampeded oxen, and at once divined his motive, it was to draw the Indians after him and give me an opportunity to escape, as he had confidence in his own ability to outwit and elude his pursuers. I could hear the Indians yelling on his trail, the sounds growing fainter as they passed from my place of concealment.
At dark I could not hear anything of Price, or the Indians, so I worked my way slowly and cautiously across the creek and toward the mountains, creeping and stopping every few feet to listen, at every crack of a twig, or flutter of a disturbed bird. I would grasp my revolver in one hand and with the other feel if my hair was in any way loose. After what seemed to me an interminable time, I came to the edge of the brush, on the opposite side of the creek, then I had to cross a flat some two hundred yards wide to reach the timber at the foot of the mountain. This flat I crossed by crawling in the most cautious manner possible; feeling before me to see that there were no obstructions that might cause me to make sufficient noise to attract the attention of any hostile who might be prowling around, or left near on the watch.
Upon gaining the timber and mountain I felt comparatively safe, and if Price had only been with me I should have been as happy as a clam at high tide, but as he was not I must do the best I could.
I studied the lay of the mountains, and the course of the creek, being far above where I had ever crossed before. I knew I would have many spurs and gulches to cross, as I dared not venture down Evans Creek for fear of running on to the Indians. So I slowly pursued my lonesome way, striving to keep parallel with the creek, till I reached the place we had before crossed at, or still better find Price, being satisfied he had eluded his pursuers as I had mine.
On I went in total darkness for hour after hour. Finally, becoming tired out (as I was continually falling over logs and brush, and getting scratched and bruised), I found a large tree and sat down at its foot to await the rising of the moon, or till daylight. It was dreary and lonely waiting, "but the longest night must come to a close," and this, like all others, at last came to an end. The moon came up toward morning, and shed sufficient light for me to discern my way across the mountains and back to camp, where I arrived about 10 o'clock in the morning, to find the camp in commotion. Price had got in the night before, and, relating our adventures, was severely censured for (as they would have it) "forsaking the boy." He assured them that I would "turn up all hunky"; saying, "he was as 'cool as a cucumber'; and while we were running he could have left me easily, but would not. I left him in the brush near night, and he wouldn't dare cross the mountains, from where he was, it was so dark; but after daylight he will come in, you can bet your lives."
He wouldn't tell them that he had left me in order to decoy the Indians after himself, and thus secure my safety. I verily believe they would have hung this brave and generous man if I hadn't put in an appearance during the day. But, upon my appearing on the bank of the river and hailing for a canoe, there went up a glad shout, and I assure you I didn't have to wait long for a boat. Once in camp, I was fed and questioned; and, when I gave my version of our adventure and Price's generous action, all were ready to "shake," and beg his pardon for the naughty things they had said.
Afterward, at different times, many of our friends strove to have us pitted against each other in a race, but each of us preferred to let the question rest, and remained of the opinion that the other ran that day to keep up, and was too brave to leave a comrade in peril.
The command now being well supplied with "jerked beef," and everything being in readiness, we removed across Rogue River and on to Evans Creek, where we camped that night. Next morning we followed the trails of the Indians, which led us high up into the mountains. These trails we followed for some days, when Bob Metcalfe, Lout Price, and myself, who had been acting as scouts, upon gaining the summit of a high ridge, heard the barking of coyote dogs in the canyon below. This assured us that we had at last brought these wily savages to bay, and closer inspection satisfied us that they had selected their position for a struggle.
General Lane was notified, and was soon on the ridge overlooking the canyon. The command coming up, the order was given to dismount, then leaving the horses in care of a guard, General Lane ordered a charge down the mountain, himself leading, swinging his hat and hurrahing for the man who fired the first shot.
The Indians had set fire to the dead pitch pine trees and dry brush surrounding their camp, so we had literally to fight in fire and smoke. We reached them in a few moments and there ensued a hand-to-hand struggle which lasted a few minutes.
General Lane was wounded in the same arm in which he had before received a Mexican ball. His friend, Mr. Armstrong, was killed (shot through the head). My partner, John Scarbrough, while fighting by my side, was shot through the heart. He fell, then umping to his feet said "I'm killed, write!" then fell dead without a struggle (he had a wife and six children in Indiana). The Colonel in command of the seven or eight "regulars" was shot through the shoulder and several others fell dead or badly wounded. I broke off my gun stock in striking an Indian, but this made it all the more handy while in close quarters.
The Indians soon learned that close quarters wouldn't do for them, so they scattered and fought from behind trees in the midst of the smoke and fire. As my gun was broken and the boys were playing on them at long range in Indian fashion, I went back a short distance and found General Lane sitting on a log with his arm undressed and bleeding. As I approached he asked why I was not down with the "boys?" I showed him my gun barrel, and as he knew how it got broken he gave me his shotgun and ammunition saying "break that in the same way if you get the chance." I took it, and our men having formed a skirmish line across the canyon below them and were working up on either side from tree to tree and slowly crowding the enemy from their cover, I advanced up the left side of the canyon till I reached a large sugar pine tree, where I found Tom Hayes (an old soldier of the Mexican War) behind it. He told me he thought we were the farthest up on the left flank so I stopped with him, and was peering into the dense smoke which hovered over the little flat that the Indians occupied. I was able to see but a short distance. Hayes would load his rifle, aim, fire, take a hasty look, and load and fire again. I couldn't see what he was shooting at, finally he remarked that he must have got the sights of his fine target gun moved, and said try my gun and see what ails it. I said that he couldn't see an Indian from where we were.
He said "Yes I do! Come on this side of the tree, and look over that big log in front of the big tree," pointing as he spoke. "Watch close and you'll see an Indian come up after he has reloaded, he is shooting at the boys below, and hasn't discovered us." (The continuous firing by whites and Indians, accompanied by their shouts and yells and the barking of the coyote dogs created such a din, that one could scarcely hear the other's voice, much less could you tell by the report what direction a shot was fired from.)
I gave Tom my shotgun and taking his rifle closely watched the tree he had pointed out to me. I soon saw something rising from behind the log and close to the tree Tom had pointed out, and as it continued to rise I could see through the smoke that it was an Indian, I waited till he raised his gun to shoot, then taking a quick aim at his shoulder I fired, at the crack of the gun he uttered a fierce yell and jumping high in the air (his gun going off as he went up) he fell over the log toward us alighting on his head and shoulders, someone had made a " good Indian" of that fellow sure. This was too much for Hayes, he sprang out from the tree swinging his hat and shouting at the top of his voice, but he came back faster than he went and with a different cry. The Indians had now discovered our position and a stream of bullets poured at our tree, one of the first passing through Hayes' wrist breaking both bones. Seeing that it was getting too hot for us where we were, and that Hayes had got a "furlough" and was ready for the pension rolls of his country, we beat a hasty retreat to our comrades below. Fighting continued for some hours when the Indians called to Metcalfe (who had a squaw for a wife) for quarter. After a while General Lane instructed Metcalfe to tell them to come into camp on the ridge where our horses were left and he would treat with them, this they did, giving up their arms. There were two or three hundred warriors alive, but scarcely a dozen of them were without wounds of a more or less serious nature received in one or the other of our two skirmishes.
We all noted throughout the fighting above all other sounds the shoutings of old Chief John, giving his orders and "medicine cries."
We encamped for the night on the ridge, the Indians bringing us water from the canyon.
The next morning we buried our dead on the battlefield, then constructed litters on which to carry our wounded out of the mountains. This we did by lashing poles to the sides of horses, one horse in front of the other, then stretching a blanket from one pole to the other between the horses, thus forming a cot or litter, upon which we laid those of our wounded who were not able to ride on horseback. All being ready we took up our line of march over the rough route we had come, much of the way we had to clear a trail of brush and trees with our hatchets to enable the horses carrying the litters to pass, we were several days in reaching Jacksonville where some of our wounded died soon after. The Indians soon came in and made a treaty of peace with General Lane. We were discharged and returned to our several homes and occupations.
General Lane afterward secured the passage through Congress of a bill allowing each of the volunteers one dollar per day for the time served, and a 160-acre land-warrant. I gave my land warrant to Mother, when I next saw her.
I returned to Humbug and joined my partner, Study, in mining, for some months.
George Hunter, Reminiscences of an Old Timer, 1889, pages 62-86
[B. F. Dowell] was in the quartermaster's department in 1853, when a detachment of soldiers, under the command of Lieutenant Ely, was detailed to discover the camp of the Indians. Though not called upon to engage in active hostilities, he volunteered to join the expedition. They found the savages on Evans Creek, and then went down to a place about five miles distant, where wood, water, and grass were easily procurable. The commanding officer, lacking experience, failed to post sentinels around the temporary camp. The result was that the Indians surprised and fired upon the detachment, killing one-fourth of the command and wounding as many more at the first fusillade. All the animals, except one, were captured by the enemy. The beast that escaped was ridden by a man who made for headquarters, distant about thirty-five miles. Meanwhile, the soldiers took to the timber, and from early morning until late in the evening gallantly contended against five hundred ferocious savages. Mr. Dowell was in the thick of the fight, and to this day asserts that it was about the hottest position he was ever placed in during his life. Finally reinforcements arrived, and the Indians were driven back.
Julian Hawthorne, The Story of Oregon, vol. II, 1892, pages 217-223
After the memorable battle with the Rogue River Indians, on Evans Creek, Captain [John F.] Miller, together with General Joseph Lane, Colonel Ross, interpreter Metcalfe and other volunteer captains, held a preliminary council with the Indians inside the enemy's lines. The meeting place was on a butte near Evans Creek. The whites were supposed to deposit their arms with a detachment of Indians. Captain Miller, suspicious of Indian treachery, crossed the line with a revolver beneath his coat. At the council lodge the whites were assigned places, and the Indian chiefs were surrounded by their armed warriors. During the progress of the council Chief Limpy, less inclined to peace than the rest, delivered an impassioned appeal to his people against the whites. The effect on the Indians was perceptible, and, knowing Captain Miller was armed, one of his companions whispered to him, "Keep your eye on that d--n scoundrel!" General Lane had, however, taken the precaution to secure a son of Chief Jo as hostage, and the party came safely out of a trap similar to the one into which General Canby and his men were led and butchered by the Modocs 20 [sic] years later.
A living picture in Captain Miller's mind is of a scene witnessed on his way to the council lodge. As he crossed the battlefield Indian women were engaged in burning the slain. Captain Miller's attention was attracted by the writhing of Indian bodies on brush-heaps. This he took to be Indians undergoing cremation alive. It was found upon closer investigation, however, that the contortions were due to the heat, and that only dead Indians were being burned.
"Captain John F. Miller," Oregonian, Portland, January 25, 1899, page 10
On the morning of the first Sunday in June, 1853, Major James A. Lupton and myself, while on our way to Jacksonville via the Table Rock trail, leading over the mountains from Umpqua Valley, having camped the night before on Trail Creek, a tributary of Rogue River, rode into an Indian ambush on the north side of the river, a short distance above Thompson's Ferry. We had taken a trail leading to the river about two or three miles above the ferry, instead of the right one leading direct to it. On entering a clump of willows on the river's bank we found themselves confronted by a band of about 40 Indians in war paint, armed in part with guns and pistols, others having bows and arrows, which in close quarters are more effective weapons in a fight than the guns used at that time.
Major Lupton, as he was generally called, was not an Army officer, but came to Oregon in 1840 as wagon master for the rifle regiment. He was at this time engaged in the business of packing. We were partners, and a more honorable, upright and energetic man it has never been my fortune to know. He was brave to rashness. He was just ahead of me on the trail, and as he halted I noticed he reached for his pistol in the holster of his saddle. I spurred my horse to his side, and putting my hand on his arm told him not to shoot, immediately addressing the chief, who was standing in front of us but a few paces off, in Chinook, asking him what was the matter, and how far it was to the ferry. This, of course, after saying to him, "How do you do?"
To none of these inquiries did he reply, but stood sullen and motionless. Lupton still held his revolver in hand, ready for action, but not raising it, awaiting the outcome of my talk with the chief, who proved to be "Cutface Jack," chief of a wild band of upper Rogue River Indians. Knowing enough of Indians to feel certain that they were lying in wait for a larger party than two persons, and having heard that a raid was contemplated by a company of white men to their country to rescue a white woman who was supposed to be held a prisoner among them, I immediately decided that the proper thing to do was to assume that it was that party, not us, they desired to intercept. I kept close watch of the chief as he proceeded to question me in turn, knowing it was of the utmost importance to understand every word he uttered, as well as to make him understand me, which was a task not easily performed, as neither of us were proficient linguists in the Chinook jargon. He asked who we were, what we wanted, and where we were going. I told him we were from the Willamette Valley, had come across the mountains the day before, and had camped for the night a few miles back, giving him the exact spot, which I divined that he well knew, as I did not think that we could approach so near a party of hostile Indians without their knowledge. He was satisfied with my answers, and immediately came forward and gave me his hand to shake. He did not offer it to the Major, as he regarded me as chief, for I had done the talking. This was well, as the Major told me afterwards that he would have refused it, as he expected at any moment to have use for his right hand in handling his pistol. From a sign made by the chief the warriors all dispersed into the bushes, and we passed on to the ferry without further molestation. My companion, initiated by the occurrence, proposed going back and taking a few shots at them, as he said, just to teach them better than interfere with white men. When we arrived at the ferry, Thompson informed us that "Cutface Jack" and his party were looking for a company of volunteers under Captain Lamerick, who a couple of days before had captured four of their party, and while holding them prisoners as hostages for the release of the supposed white woman, who was believed to be held a prisoner by their tribe, two of them in trying to escape in the night had been shot and killed, the other two escaping to the Indian camp with the news. Cutface Jack had rallied his band of warriors and was on the warpath, and he was trying to intercept Lamerick's party on their return from their trip up the river. Instead of this, he informed us, they had returned to Jacksonville by a more southerly route, and thus had eluded the ambush of Cutface Jack which we fell into.
We arranged with Thompson to send a man with some trusty Indians back to move our camp to his ferry, as he had a squaw for a wife, and was on good terms with the Indians. We felt that the camp would be safe under his care.
The next day was election day, Jacksonville polling a very large vote. Having cut and stacked a lot of hay and built a cabin across Bear Creek from Jacksonville, about 12 miles distant, in what was conceded to be exclusively Indian country, as no settlers had located across the creek in that vicinity, Lupton had gone on the plains to buy cattle from the immigrants, and after I had completed the preparations he desired me to make, I started on horseback for Marysville, on what was to me most important business, seeing the person who later became the partner of my life. On arriving at Patrick's ranch, some eight or nine miles north of Jacksonville, I found him gathering up his horses to start for the Willamette Valley, as he had just heard that Thomas Wills, a merchant of Jacksonville, had been killed by the Indians [on August 5th], and as he intended going soon after supplies, he thought it prudent to go at once. After feeding my horse and eating dinner we started and made Rock Creek, then Dr. Rose's ranch, at night. Early the following morning we started on, and arriving at Grave Creek found the people "forted up." They urged us to remain, saying that the Indians were uneasy, and had done some stealing, and they feared trouble. We, however, were deaf to their entreaties, and moving rapidly on to the crossing of Cow Creek, some 10 miles distant, we found the cabin on the north bank of the creek burned down and discovered parts of the bodies of two men still burning in the ashes. We pushed on up the creek about four miles and found the people "forted up" as at Grave Creek. We were again urged to stop and remain with them.
Making camp and cooking a meal, we seriously considered the situation. Large numbers of Indians were on the hills to the left of our road, yelling and howling like demons and loudly calling out and daring the whites to come up and fight them, generally talking Chinook, but some of them using broken English. We were but a short distance from Hardy Elliff's at the south end of the canyon. Fearing the loss of his horses if we remained, Patrick was anxious to go on. I was equally, perhaps more, anxious than he. We started about sundown. I was mounted on a strong, spirited horse and, taking the bell from the bell mare, put it on him and started ahead. Patrick, mounting his fastest horse, brought up the rear. On seeing us start the Indians started in the same direction we were going, expecting, no doubt, that they would be able to head us off by the time we reached the divide in the canyon, which was about three miles distant from the south end. Many of the Indians were on foot, some were mounted on ponies, but we were confident that we could beat them to the divide, as our path was free from brush and good, while theirs was through the brush. We made as fast time as good, strong horses could carry us, the loose horses following closely after the bell.
A Flight for Life.George E. Cole, "A Pioneer's Recollections," Oregonian, Portland, February 3, 1901, page 23
On reaching the summit we felt sure that we had beaten them, but as it was dark in the timber, were not certain. Going down the steep and tortuous trail to the bed of the creek, in which now lay our way, we followed it for two miles. It was walled in by perpendicular bluffs on both sides. The ride was a rough one, as the creek was filled with boulders, many of them of considerable size. I called back to Patrick, and he answered, "All right." At this moment the Indians had arrived at the summit and set up a hair-lifting yell of rage and disappointment. We lost no time, but pushed on at full speed, and emerged from the creek. The road there crosses it 68 times, the crossings being usually made on a walk, and came out at the north end of the canyon (Canyonville) and warned the settlers, who until now knew nothing of the outbreak. They hastily "forted up," and put out a strong guard up the canyon.
Shortly after reaching Marysville, the news came of a general outbreak. The first man through after us brought news of the killing [on August 10] of John R. Hardin, Dr. [William R.] Rose and others. Hardin and Rose we knew well, and had seen them just before, having said goodbye to Hardin at Patrick's ranch, and having stopped with Rose our first night out. Before reaching Roseburg I met James Kyle, a partner of Wills, with his pack train of goods from Scottsburg. Telling him of his partner's death, he at once gave orders to his trainmen where to camp with the train and remain until further orders. He immediately started for Jacksonville, but was shot and killed by an Indian in ambush on Rogue River, about 20 miles before reaching his destination.
I borrowed a good rifle of B. R. Riddle and, having supplied myself with ammunition, retraced my steps toward the scene of hostilities, packing one horse lightly and riding another. On arriving at Myrtle Creek, three or four well-armed young men accompanied me. I arrived at Grave Creek the first night the news that an armistice with the Indians had been made reached there. The next day we went on to headquarters at Thompson's Ferry and reported to General Lane, who at the time of our arrival was lying down with his arm in a sling, having received a wound in his right shoulder during the battle at Evans Creek.
As there were rumors among the volunteers that some of them were not standing by the armistice they had agreed to with the Indians, General Lane requested me to go among the camps and see what I could learn. Many new companies had arrived since the battle of Evans Creek, and they, having had no part of it, were "spoiling for a fight" and chaffed those who were in the fight for agreeing to an armistice and declaring they would not abide by the agreement. This sentiment seemed to preponderate. I reported to General Lane the information I had gathered up. He called the volunteers together and gave them a strong talk, couched in the plainest English. He told them that the armistice had been agreed to on the part of the volunteers by their united vote, distinctly stating that the had exercised no influence in bringing about the decision, but that he would see that it was carried out in good faith, and that if others deserted him, he knew that his own Douglas County company and the regulars--Captain A. J. Smith, with 14 soldiers--would stand by him, and that all honorable men among all the companies would be found arrayed on his side.
General Lane's Iron Will.There never was a mutinous set of soldiers so completely silenced and squelched. The sight of that gray-haired commander, with one arm in a sling, still painful from the wound of a bullet, with courage not only sufficient to fight a savage foe, but also sufficient to meet boldly and resolutely an attempt to sully the character of his own command, and was an inspiring spectacle.
Supposing that my cabin and hay stocks were burned, and the hogs that were left there to feed upon the Indian camas had been killed or run off, as there had been destruction of property all over the valley, I was greatly surprised on being accosted by the little chief near my camp, who informed me that I would find everything safe. Thereupon I rode on to the camp, a distance of about eight miles, and found the Indian's information was correct. I returned to headquarters, and as there were grave doubts whether or not a treaty would be made with the Indians, I asked General Lane's advice. He told me to move the stock. A treaty was made and peace prevailed. Lupton came in from the plains with a lot of stock, and was surprised to find even the arrangements he had left at the camp were not disturbed. Half a dozen pack covers, a hatchet and some nails were taken, but were brought back by order of little Chief John.When locating on the place, I made a treaty with this Indian, paying him for the use of the land from which to cut hay, and for the stock to range, naming specifically that the hogs were to have right to camas and acorns. The hay was hauled to Jacksonville the following summer and sold, as the winter was mild and it was not needed for the stock.
Lupton later became sole owner of this property, and after living there two years was killed by the Indians in a battle at the mouth of Butte Creek. He was leading a company of volunteers, and while charging in the brush was pierced through the body by an arrow from an Indian bow. The Indian was lying on his back and sprung his bow with his feet--a very effectual way, as great force can thus be given to the bow to speed the arrow.
At the treaty the facts about the white women [that Lamerick was hunting] were ascertained from the Indians, which were as follows:
No White Women Captured.During a war between the Rogue River and Umpqua tribes, the latter had captured some prisoners. Among them was a young squaw, whom the Umpquas sold to one Ben Allen, a white man, who was a courier riding between the Hudson Bay posts of Vancouver and Umpqua. He made her his wife, and took her to Vancouver. While making a trip through the Rogue River Valley with this squaw and her child, she, finding herself in her native country, escaped to her people and remained with them, so that, instead of there being a white woman and half-breed child, the fact was that it was an Indian woman and a half-breed child, living among her own people. Several raids had been projected for the purpose of rescuing a white woman held prisoner among the Indians, one of whom, it was said, compelled her to become his wife and slave. Much valorous talk had, from time to time, been indulged in by the young white braves. Many other myths were explained, and a better understanding was had between the red and white races. A true history of the difficulties would disclose the fact that most of them could have been avoided. The first knowledge Indians obtain of white men they come in contact with is not calculated to inspire them with much respect for, or confidence in, the white race. Better people, bringing families with them, came among them later, but the Indian judgment is made up, and it is hard to eradicate their first impressions. They change the statement that "all men are liars" by inserting the word "white," but further acquaintance causes them to qualify this view, so as to admit that some white men tell the truth; and when they find such an one they trust him implicitly, and will take his word for any amount. In contrast with our management of Indians, instance the success of the Hudson Bay Company's management.
OREGON INDIAN WAR.
Adventures of a Pioneer in the Early '50s
Editor National Tribune: When the Indian war broke out in the Rogue River Valley, Southern Oregon, in the fall of 1853, a call was sent to Northern California, and I joined a company of volunteer mounted riflemen from Yreka, Siskiyou County. Our company was commanded by Capt. Goodall, and numbered over 100 men. Capt. Rhodes' company, from Humbug Creek, numbered about 40 men. Including seven regulars, under Capt. Alden, of Fort Jones, Scott Valley, Cal., we had in all about 150 men. After about a month's race, we trailed the Indians into the mountains, our guide being [Robert B.] Metcalfe, a big Kentuckian, and cousin of ex-Governor Metcalfe, of that state. We had followed the trail through the mountains half a day, and were near the Indian camp before they were aware of our approach, their scouts being busy watching the Oregon volunteers, who were acting independently of our command. We marched down the mountain trail single file with Capt. Alden in front, accompanied by the regulars, and Capt. Armstrong, a wealthy citizen of Yamhill County, Ore., and an old Indian fighter. Following this party came Capt. Goodall, and next behind him came the writer. I occupied this position not because of any great courage, but from the fact that I did not realize the danger, and desired to see the whole show. The Indian camp was in the woods. On turning a sharp angle in the trail we were in full view of the Indians, some hundred yards in the distance. We were discovered, and the fight was then on.
We pressed forward, until Capt. Armstrong suddenly dropped his gun, placed his hand on his breast, and turning toward me, said, "I am struck here." He fell on his right side and was dead. Sergt. Barbor, standing near me, with his shirt sleeves rolled up, had a narrow escape. The bullet perforated the sleeve and just grazed the skin. I sought shelter behind a small tree, near which Armstrong's head lay, resting my rifle between his head and the tree. About three rods to my right, and a little in front, I saw Capt. Alden. He was behind a large tree. He was armed with a double-barrel shotgun, and had fired one barrel into the camp, when he was shot through the lungs. To my left was young Bradley, a preacher's son, shot through the head, and a few rods to the rear, behind a large tree, was the body of Scarboro, a soldier of the Mexican War, and one of our best men.
Our men soon fell back to a position some distance in the rear. Perceiving this, the Indians advanced, and one of them stood beside a big tree about 50 yards from my position. I fired, and he disappeared. I had too much regard for my life to raise up to see what had become of him. I attempted to reload my gun, but found I could not, without exposing myself to a fire from the camp, so I beat a hasty retreat, finally getting behind a small tree 50 or 60 yards in rear of the position I had formerly occupied. I now noticed Mr. H. Flesher, an old acquaintance, standing behind a big tree, and called him to me, as I had lost my ramrod and wanted to get his to load with. Flesher watched while I was loading, and seeing a redskin rise up from behind a log, shot him. Flesher returned to his former position. Soon after, he was wounded and went to the rear. I crawled to his tree and there found Chas. Abbe, a young lawyer, mortally wounded. Wm. Lewis told me afterwards that the Indian who had shot Abbe and Flesher from a position on the flank sprang up and pointed his gun at me while I was going back, but he (Lewis), who had seen him fire from that place before, was watching with his gun resting over a branch of a scrub oak, and brought the redskin down before he could pull the trigger.
After leaving the tree, I joined a few men in a depression some distance in the rear. We had been there an hour and a half when we heard a noise in Abbe's direction, and on standing up saw him trying to rise. I went to his assistance and brought him to the position occupied by our party. Soon after Capt. Alden came in, severely wounded. We took Capt. Alden to the surgeon. There we found Flesher with a broken arm. Gen. Lane was there, slightly wounded. I called for a handkerchief to make a sling for Flesher's arm. The General took from his neck a black silk handkerchief and handed it to me, at the same time urging me to return to the front.
* * *Gen. Lane made a treaty with the Indians on that battlefield, which closed the fight.
That night we camped on the trail a short distance in rear of our advanced position, and the following day returned to the valley. The night was frosty. While walking around the camp, I found Gen. Lane lying on the ground without blankets. He complained of being cold, and also that some of the men had stepped over him, dragging their heavy spurs across his body. I built a slight barrier of sticks beside him to prevent repetition of those accidents, and covered him with my blankets, thinking I could get some horse blankets, but I could find none, as all were in use. That night I lay on the ground, half frozen.--E. Crockett, 1st U.S. Chasseurs and 65th N.Y., Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
National Tribune, Washington, D.C., December 25, 1902, page 2
On the morning of the first Sunday in June 1853, Major James A. Lupton and myself, while on our way to Jacksonville, via the Table Rock trail, leading over the mountains from Umpqua Valley, with a drove of hogs which we were taking to the Rogue River Valley to feed on camas, the feed for hogs at that season of the year--we were also looking for a place to cut hay--and having camped the night before on Trail Creek, a tributary of Rogue River, rode into an Indian ambush on the north side of the river, a short distance above Thompson's Ferry [later Bybee Ferry--where Table Rock Road crosses the Rogue River]. We had taken a trail leading to the river about two or three miles above the ferry, instead of the right one leading direct to it. On entering a clump of willows on the river's bank we found ourselves confronted by a band of about 40 Indians in war paint, armed in part with guns and pistols, others having bows and arrows, which in close quarters are more effective weapons in a fight than the guns used at that time.
Major Lupton, as he was generally called, was not an army officer, but came to Oregon in 1849 as wagon master for the rifle regiment. He was at that time engaged in the business of packing. We were partners, and a more honorable, upright and energetic man it has never been my fortune to know. He was brave to rashness. He was just ahead of me on the trail, and as he halted I noticed he reached for his pistol in the holster of his saddle. I spurred my horse to his side, and putting my hand on his arm told him not to shoot, immediately addressing the chief, who was standing in front of us a few paces off, in Chinook, asking him what was the matter, and how far it was to the ferry. This, of course, after saying to him, "How do you do?"
To none of these inquiries did he reply, but stood sullen and motionless. Lupton still held his revolver in hand, ready for action, but not raising it, awaiting the outcome of my talk with the chief, who proved to be "Cutface Jack," chief of a wild band of Upper Rogue River Indians. Knowing enough of Indians to feel certain that they were lying in wait for a larger party than two persons, and having heard that a raid was contemplated by a company of white men to their country to rescue a white woman who was supposed to be held a prisoner among them, I immediately decided that the proper thing to do was to assume that it was that party, not us, they desired to intercept.
I kept close watch of the chief as he proceeded to question me in turn, knowing it was of the utmost importance to understand every word he uttered, as well as to make him understand me, which was a task not easily performed, as neither of us were proficient linguists in the Chinook jargon. He asked who we were, what we wanted, and where we were going. I told him we were from the Willamette Valley, had come across the mountains the day before and had camped for the night a few miles back, giving him the exact spot, which I divined that he well knew, as I did not think that we could approach so near a party of hostile Indians without their knowledge. He was satisfied with my answers, and immediately came forward and gave me his hand to shake. He did not offer it to the Major, as he regarded me as chief, for I had done the talking. This was well, as the Major told me afterwards that he would have refused it, as he expected at any moment to have use for his right hand in handling his pistol. Upon a sign made by the chief, the warriors all disappeared into the bushes, and we passed on to the ferry without further molestation.
My companion, irritated by the occurrence, proposed going back and taking a few shots at them, as he said, just to teach them better than to interfere with white men. When we arrived at the ferry, Thompson informed us that ''Cutface Jack" and his party were looking for a company of volunteers under Captain Lamerick, who a couple of days before had captured four of their party, and while holding them prisoners as hostages for the release of the supposed white woman, who was believed to be held a prisoner by their tribe, two of them in trying to escape in the night had been shot and killed, the other two escaping to the Indian camp with the news. "Cutface Jack" had rallied his band of warriors and was on the warpath, and he was trying to intercept Lamerick's party on their return from their trip up the river. Instead of this, he informed us, they had returned to Jacksonville by a more southerly route, and thus had eluded the ambush of "Cutface Jack" which we fell into.
We arranged with Thompson to send a man with some trusty Indians back to move our camp to his ferry. As he had a squaw for a wife and was on good terms with the Indians we felt that the camp would be safe under his care.
The next day was election day, Jacksonville polling a very large vote. I had cut and stacked a lot of hay and built a cabin across Bear Creek from Jacksonville, about 12 miles distant, in what was conceded to be exclusively Indian country, as no settlers had located across the creek in that vicinity. Lupton had gone on the plains to buy cattle from the immigrants, and after I had completed the preparations he desired me to make, I started on horseback for Marysville, on what was to me most important business, seeing the person who later became the partner of my life.
On arriving at Patrick's ranch, some eight or nine miles north of Jacksonville, I found him gathering up his horses to start for the Willamette Valley, as he had just heard that Thomas Wills, a merchant of Jacksonville, had been killed by the Indians, and as he intended going soon after supplies, he thought it prudent to go at once. After feeding my horse and eating dinner, we started and made Rock Creek, then Dr. Rose's ranch, at night.
Early the following morning we started on, and arriving at Grave Creek, found the people "forted up." They urged us to remain, saying that the Indians were uneasy and had done some stealing, and they feared trouble. We, however, were deaf to their entreaties, and moving rapidly on to the crossing of Cow Creek, some 10 miles distant, we found the cabin on the north side of the creek burned down and discovered parts of the bodies of two men still burning in the ashes. We pushed on up the creek about four miles and found the people "forted up" as at Grave Creek. We were again urged to stop and remain with them.
Making camp and cooking a meal, we seriously considered the situation. Large numbers of Indians were on the hills to the left of our road, yelling and howling like demons, and loudly calling out and daring the whites to come up and fight them, generally talking Chinook, but some of them using broken English. We were but a short distance from Hardy Elliff's at the south end of the Canyon. Fearing the loss of his horses if we remained, Patrick was anxious to go on. I was equally, perhaps more, anxious than he. We started about sundown. I was mounted on a strong, spirited horse, and, taking the bell from the bell mare, put it on him, and started ahead. Patrick, mounting his fastest horse, brought up the rear. On seeing us start the Indians started in the same direction we were going, expecting, no doubt, that they would be able to head us off by the time we reached the divide in the Canyon, which was about three miles distant from the south end. Many of the Indians were on foot, some were mounted on ponies, but we were confident that we could beat them to the divide, as our path was free from brush and good, while theirs was through the brush. We made as fast time as good, strong horses could carry us, the loose horses following closely after the bell.
On reaching the summit we felt sure that we had beaten them, but, as it was dark in the timber, were not certain. Going down the steep and tortuous trail to the bed of the creek, in which now lay our way, we followed it for two miles. It was walled in by perpendicular bluffs on both sides. The ride was a rough one, as the creek was filled with boulders, many of them of considerable size. I called out to Patrick, and he answered, "All right" At this moment the Indians had arrived at the summit and set up a hair-lifting yell of rage and disappointment. We lost no time, but pushed on at full speed and emerged from the creek. The road there crosses it 68 times, the crossings being usually made on a walk, but we slackened not our pace, and came out at the north end of the Canyon (Canyonville) and warned the settlers, who until now knew nothing of the outbreak. They hastily "forted up" and put out a strong guard up the Canyon.
Shortly after reaching Marysville, the news came of a general outbreak. The first man through after us brought news of the killing of John R. Hardin, Dr. Rose and others. Hardin and Rose we knew well, and had seen them just before, having said goodbye to Hardin at Patrick's ranch, and having stopped with Rose our first night out. Before reaching Roseburg, I met James Kyle, a partner of Wills, with his pack train of goods from Scottsburg. Learning of his partner's death, he at once gave orders to his train men where to camp with the train and remain until further orders. He immediately started for Jacksonville, but was shot and killed by an Indian in ambush on Rogue River, about 20 miles before reaching his destination.
I borrowed a good rifle of B. R. Biddle, and, having supplied myself with ammunition, retraced my steps toward the scene of hostilities, packing one horse lightly and riding another. On arriving at Myrtle Creek, three or four well-armed young men accompanied me. We arrived at Grave Creek the first night the news that an armistice with the Indians had been made reached there. The next day I went on to headquarters at Thompson's Ferry and reported to General Lane, who at the time of my arrival was lying down with his arm in a sling, having received a wound in his right shoulder during the battle at Evans Creek with Indians.
As there were rumors among the volunteers that some of them were not standing by the armistice they had agreed to with the Indians, General Lane requested me to go among the camps and see what I could learn. Many new companies had arrived since the battle of Evans Creek, and they, having had no part in it, were "spoiling for a fight" and chaffed those who were in the fight for agreeing to an armistice, and declaring they would not abide by the agreement. This sentiment seemed to predominate. I reported to General Lane the information I had gathered. He called the volunteers together and gave them a strong talk, couched in the plainest English. He told them that the armistice had been agreed to on the part of the volunteers by their united vote, distinctly stating that he had exercised no influence in bringing about the decision, but that he would see that it was carried out in good faith, and that if others deserted him, he knew that his own Douglas County company, and the regulars--Captain A. J. Smith with his dragoons----would stand by him, and that all honest men among all the companies would be found arrayed on his side.
There never was a mutinous set of soldiers so completely silenced and squelched. The sight of that gray-haired commander, with one arm in a sling, still painful from the wound of a bullet, with courage not only sufficient to fight a savage foe but also sufficient to meet boldly and resolutely an attempt to sully the character of his own command, was an inspiring spectacle.
Supposing that my cabin and haystacks were burned, and the hogs that were left there to feed upon the Indian camas had been killed or run off, as there had been destruction of property all over the valley, I was greatly surprised on being accosted by the little chief near my camp, who informed me that I would find everything safe. Thereupon I rode on to the camp, a distance of about eight miles, and found the Indian's information was correct. I returned to headquarters, and, as there were grave doubts whether or not a treaty would be made with the Indians, I asked General Lane's advice. He told me to move the stock. I thereupon did so. A treaty was made and peace prevailed until 1855, when a general outbreak
occurred. . . .
[After the signing of the Table Rock Treaty] Lupton came in from the plains with a lot of stock and was surprised to find even the arrangements at the camp were not disturbed. Half a dozen pack covers, half a dozen lash ropes, a hatchet and some nails were taken, but were brought back by order of little Chief John. When locating on the place I made a treaty with this Indian, paying him for the use of the land from which to cut hay and for the stock to range, naming specifically that the hogs were to have right to camas and acorns. The hay was hauled to Jacksonville the following summer and sold; as the winter was mild and it was not needed for the stock.
Lupton later became sole owner of this property, and, after living there two years, was killed by the Indians in a battle at the mouth of Butte Creek. He was leading a company of volunteers, and while charging in the brush was pierced through the body by an arrow from an Indian bow. The Indian was lying on his back and sprang his bow with his feet--a very effectual way, as great force can thus be given to the bow to speed the arrow.
At the treaty the facts about the white woman were ascertained from the Indians, which were as follows: During a war between the Rogue River and Umpqua tribes the latter had captured some prisoners. Among them was a young squaw, whom the Umpquas sold to one Ben Allen, a white man, who was a courier riding between the Hudson Bay posts of Vancouver and Umpqua. He made her his wife, and took her to Vancouver. While making a trip through the Rogue River Valley with this squaw and her child she, finding herself in her native country, escaped to her people and remained with them, so that, instead of there being a white woman and half-breed child, the fact was that it was an Indian woman and a half-breed child, living among her own people. Several raids had been projected for the purpose of rescuing a white woman, held prisoner among the Indians, one of whom, it was said, compelled her to become his wife and slave. Much valorous talk had, from time to time, been indulged in by the young white braves. Many other myths were explained, and a better understanding was had between the red and white races.
A true history of the difficulties would disclose the fact that most of them could have been avoided. The first knowledge Indians obtain of white men with whom they come in contact is not calculated to inspire them with much respect for, or confidence in, the white race. Better people, bringing families with them, came among them later, but the Indian judgment is made up, and it is hard to eradicate their first impressions. They change the statement that "all men are liars" by inserting the word white, but further acquaintance causes them to qualify this view, so as to admit that some white men tell the truth, and when they find such an one they trust him implicitly, and will take his word for any amount. In contrast with our management of Indians, instance the success of the Hudson Bay Company's management.
George E. Cole, Early Oregon: Jottings of Personal Recollections of a Pioneer of 1850, 1905, pages 48-65
In the summer of 1853 the Rogue River Indians swept down upon the straggling settlements in Southern Oregon, murdering the inhabitants, burning homes and carrying away captives. There was a call for volunteers, and Father organized a company or detachment known as "Captain Lindsay Applegate's company of mounted volunteers." Brother Elisha was then twenty-one years of age, I was seventeen, and we both enlisted for the war. The tribe inhabiting the Rogue River Valley was small and has been estimated at eight hundred people; less than half were warriors. This tribe was divided into small bands or tribes under sub-chiefs. Chief John, as he was called by the whites, was head chief of all these tribes, their great war chief. A treaty was made with these Indians in September, 1853, at our encampment, which was between the upper Table Rock and Rogue River. After the treaty had been made Chief John and his son visited our camp. The son was about my age, only a boy. We had many interesting talks together, and I liked and admired the young chief.
Jesse A. Applegate, Recollections of My Boyhood, Review Publishing, Roseburg, 1914, page 98
". . . on August 4, 1853--Richard Edwards, who lived five miles from Jacksonville, was killed by Indians. The next day a public meeting was held at the Robinson hotel in Jacksonville and a company of volunteers was formed to punish the Indians. On the day following the killing of Edwards, Burrel B. Griffin and a man named Davis were both attacked by the Indians, Mr. Griffin having shot through the shoulder with an arrow and Mr. Davis in the thigh.
"That same night Thomas J. Wells, a Jacksonville merchant, was shot and killed. The following day Rhodes Nolan was killed as he entered his cabin on Jackson Creek. The citizens in scouting around the outskirts of Jacksonville found an Indian chief, and he was at once hung from the limb of an oak tree. During the day three other Indians were captured and hung. The citizens were very much excited and didn't take time to find out if the Indians captured were guilty. They were guilty of being Indians, and that was enough.
"Within a few days, six companies of volunteers were raised, commanded by J. K. Lamerick, John F. Miller, R. L. Williams, E. A. Owens and W. W. Fowler.
"S. Ettinger, I. B. Nichols and James Clugage started for Salem and reached the home of General Joseph Lane at 1 o'clock in the morning of August 17, and told him that the Indians were on the warpath. General Lane had just been elected to Congress and was preparing to leave for Washington, but instead he started for the Rogue River Valley, gathering volunteers as he went southward. Meanwhile, Lieutenant B. B. Griffin of Company A and Captain J. F. Miller, with 25 men, had some time prior to this time attacked Chief Elijah, who with his people was camped on Sterling Creek.
"The next day they met the Indians under Chief John and in the ensuing skirmish Francis Garnett was killed and Lieutenant B. B. Griffin was shot through the leg. Two of Lieutenant Griffin's sons, William and Joseph, had volunteered for service against the Indians and took part in a number of skirmishes, serving until the hostilities were over."
John B. Griffin, quoted by Fred Lockley of the Oregon Journal, Medford Mail Tribune, December 16, 1930, page 8
Writing from Yreka, Calif., October 18, to the adjutant general, Colonel Alden reported in part:
"I regret that I have suffered so much from debility, consequent upon my wound, that I have been unable to make a detailed report of my participation in the late military operations. As some official communication from me may be of importance in showing the necessity of furnishing more regular troops of the defense of this frontier, and also to prove the necessity of the call I made upon the volunteers, I made an effort today to communicate a brief statement.
"On August 7 last I received at my post, Fort Jones, Calif., a petition from principal citizens of Jacksonville, Ore., representing that the settlers were threatened by a combination of several tribes. They earnestly requested me to furnish them with all the men and arms at my disposal for their defense.
"Of the 22 men of my company present, 11 were on sick report and unable to march. I packed 25 muskets, 5 carbines and 600 rounds of ammunition on mules and with all my disposal force, amounting to 11 men, marched for the scene. Passing through Yreka I enrolled 80 volunteers. I enrolled two companies of volunteers at Jacksonville and on the 11th instant mustered the companies at Camp Stuart, seven miles from town. A company of 20 independent volunteers joined me there, making the whole force, including my own men, about 200.
"I learned that the Rogue River Indians had taken a strong position near Table Rock, about 10 miles distant from Camp Stuart. Their force was estimated at 250 warriors. I planned to attack them that night when suddenly a man rode into camp at full speed, announcing in the hearing of all the troops that the Indians had appeared in force in the valley, killed two white men and burned a house and several haystacks and that families in the north of the valley were in imminent danger of massacre.
"At this announcement, 20 men of the independent volunteers darted off on horseback in the direction of the burning house, light of which was distinctly visible at the camp. I was compelled to suspend the attack and permit the companies raised in the valley to mount and hasten to the defense of the houses and homes. This disconnected the movement and it was not until the 16th instant that I had force enough present to organize another plan of attack."
Colonel Alden busied himself with organizing his supplies and believing the valley would be endangered if he continued to carry the burden of the details of all subordinate departments, "did not hesitate to request General Lane to relieve me from the command of the volunteers. On August 20 General Lane assumed the command and on the 22nd marched in pursuit of the Indians."
Colonel Alden added that he hoped to be able by next mail to forward a report in detail, including two skirmishes of Lieut. Griffin's scouting party with a large body of Applegate Indians, the scattering of the troops from the 11th to the 16th, the gallant defense of Lieut. Ely's scouting party of 25 men against a band of 100 Indians, and the prompt movement of Captain Goodall with his company of volunteers preceded by a small detachment led by J. D. Cosby and Elijah Heard to the rescue of Lieut. Ely.
"Colonel Alden in Report on Rogue Valley Fighting Urges Larger Force," Medford Mail Tribune, September 4, 1947, page 6
Last revised May 12, 2017