Rogue River Indian War 1854
Also see that year's news from Southern Oregon and correspondence from the Office of Indian Affairs..
Correspondence of the Chronicle.
Letter from Oregon.
Jacksonville, O.T., Jan. 17, '54.Dear Sir--I write to advise you of the occurrence of a new and probably a serious difficulty with the Indians. On the 13th inst. a force of about 30 whites, near the Cottonwood, about 40 miles from here, on the road south to California, in the Shasta Valley, went out in pursuit of Indians who had for some weeks been engaged in the theft of cattle. They had traced them into the mountains to a cave, when they were attacked by about 100 Indians from an ambush, and dispersed with the loss of their rations and ammunition--having four men killed and four seriously wounded. The attack was well sustained by the whites, in a fight continuing in one form or another, all day. The loss of the enemy is unknown.
The Indians are of the Shasta and Rogue River tribes--a portion from a band located but about nine miles from here. It is generally treated as a prelude to certain war. A Capt. Wright, a famous Indian hunter, of this valley, has gone to the scene of the affair, and at Yreka and Cottonwood is raising a volunteer company to pursue them. It was intended to have 200 regular troops stationed in this valley before this time--but they are not here, and no one knows when they may be. But regulars or no regulars, should these tribes renew hostilities, the citizens will make short work with them. I will advise you of the progress of the affair.
Yours, &c. S. H. TAYLOR.Watertown Chronicle, Watertown, Wisconsin, April 5, 1854, page 2
PROTECTION AFFORDED BY VOLUNTEERS OF OREGON AND WASHINGTON TERRITORIES TO OVERLAND IMMIGRANTS IN 1854.
THE SECRETARY OF OREGON TERRITORY,
The protection afforded by the volunteers of Oregon and Washington Territories to overland immigrants in 1854.
December 9, 1858.--Referred to the Committee on Military Affairs.
February 3, 1859.--Ordered to be printed.
----List of papers from the secretary of the Territory of Oregon, relative to the protection rendered by volunteers to overland immigrants in the year A.D. 1854, forwarded for the action of Congress thereon, in pursuance of a joint resolution of the legislative assembly of said Territory adopted February 3, A.D. 1858.
Governor Curry's message to the president of the council, transmitting documents relative to the hostility of Indians and the protection of immigrants in 1854, dated December 18, 1857.
Quartermaster General C. S. Drew's dispatch to Governor Davis, dated July 7, 1854.
Governor Davis' orders to Quartermaster General C. S. Drew, dated July 17, 1854.
Governor Davis' orders to Colonel John E. Ross, dated July 17, 1854.
Colonel J. E. Ross' call for one company of mounted volunteers, dated August 5, 1854.
Governor Curry's letter to General Lane, dated September 18, 1854.
Governor Curry's letter to General Lane, dated September 20, 1854.
Governor Curry's letter to the President of the United States, dated September 25, 1854.
Captain Jesse Walker's report to Colonel J. E. Ross, dated November 6, 1854.
Colonel J. E. Ross' report to Governor Curry, dated November 10, 1854.
Quartermaster General C. S. Drew's report to Governor Curry, dated December 30, 1854.
Joint resolution of the legislative assembly of Oregon, relative to to the service of Captain Olney's company of mounted volunteers, adopted December 11, 1854.
Joint resolution of the legislative assembly of Oregon, relative to the service of Captain Jesse Walker's company of mounted volunteers, adopted January 26, 1855.
Memorial of the legislative assembly of Oregon, relative to the service of Captain Olney's company of mounted volunteers, passed January 23, 1856.
Memorial of the legislative assembly of Oregon, relative to the Oregon Indian war of 1855-'56, passed January 31, 1856.
Memorial of the legislative assembly of Oregon, relative to the service of Captain Jesse Walker's company of mounted volunteers, passed January 31, 1856.
Memorial of the legislative assembly of Oregon, relative to the service of Captain Olney's company of mounted volunteers, passed January 13, 1857.
Late Quartermaster General C. S. Drew's letter to Governor Curry, transmitting correspondence, depositions &c., relative to the service of Captain Jesse Walker's company, dated December 14, 1857.
Deposition of the principal merchants and traders of Jacksonville, Oregon Territory, relative to the hostility of Indians in Southern Oregon, prices of supplies &c., dated November 12, 1857.
Verified statement of D. R. Calhoon, relative to the necessity of the service rendered by Captain Jesse Walker's company of mounted volunteers, dated November 13, 1857.
Verified statement of E. W. Conner on the same subject next above referred to, dated November 18, 1857.
Verified statement of W. T. Kershaw, relative to the disposition of the Indians on the southern Oregon immigrant road since 1851, and to the necessity of the service rendered by Captain Walker's company of mounted volunteers, dated November 21, 1857.
Letter of E. Steele, Esq., relative to the general disposition of the Indians of Northern California and Southern Oregon, from the year A.D. 1850 to 1854, and the necessity for the service of Captain Jesse Walker's company of mounted volunteers, dated November 23, 1857.
Letter of Hon. A. M. Rosborough, relative to Indian affairs within his agency in 1854, dated November 23, 1857.
Letter of Joel Palmer, late superintendent of Indian affairs for Oregon, relative to the service of Captain Jesse Walker's company of mounted volunteers, dated December 17, 1857.
Joint resolution of the legislative assembly of Oregon, with the report of the committee on military affairs pertaining thereto, relative to the service of Captain Jesse Walker's company of mounted volunteers, adopted February 3, 1858.
Executive Office,Sir: In reply to the resolution of the council requesting me "to furnish the council with the official correspondence, resolutions, and memorials of the legislative assembly, and any other information relative to the prices of supplies, the hostilities of the Indians, and protection of the immigrants in 1854," I transmit the accompanying documents.
Salem, December 18, 1857.
GEO. L. CURRY,The President of the Council.
Jacksonville, Oregon, July 7, 1854.Sir: As the time is fast approaching for the arrival of the annual emigration from the Atlantic States, via the plains, and as the country through which it is destined to pass is now, as heretofore, occupied by tribes of hostile Indians who have for several years past committed many depredations upon the immigration en route to this portion of Oregon and the adjacent counties of Northern California, and possessing the knowledge of the massacre of several entire families in the year 1852 in the immediate vicinity of Goose Lake, together with the positive proof of their having committed many depredations, though perhaps of a less criminal nature, during the past season, and of the manifestation of hostile intentions at the present time, I deem it advisable to state to you the present position of affairs here relative to Indian matters and the coming immigration.
The recent Indian difficulty in Siskiyou County, California, resulted in the death of several Indians belonging to the different tribes of the northern section of California and to Southern Oregon, two of whom are supposed to have belonged to the Modocs, located in the vicinity of Goose and Klamath lakes, directly on the immigrant road to this valley. The Applegate, Klamath, Shasta and Scott Valley tribes have left their usual haunts and gone into the mountains in the direction of the Modoc country, with the avowed determination of joining with the several tribes in that vicinity for the purpose of getting redress for real or imaginary wrongs from any or all citizens who may fall within their grasp.
Through the prompt and vigorous action of General Lane the immigration of last season met with comparative few losses. This indefatigable officer, though suffering severely from the effects of a wound received in an action with Indians only a few days previous, saw at once the perilous situation of the incoming immigration and, with the promptitude characteristic of this estimable officer, immediately ordered a company of about sixty mounted volunteers, in command of Captain John F. Miller, to proceed with all possible dispatch to the section of country in which were enacted the horrid massacres of the year previous. To this act a large portion of the immigration of that year are indebted for the safety of their property, and in many instances, no doubt, their lives. Though a detachment of dragoons had been previously dispatched from Fort Jones to the same point and for the same purpose, yet, as is the case now, their force was wholly inadequate for the protection of the immigration through a country infested by numerous bands of hostile Indians of perhaps one hundred and sixty miles in extent.
No preparations are being made by traders, either of this or the adjoining counties of California, for an adventure on the plains this season, as has usually been the custom; consequently much suffering among the poorer class of immigrants must inevitably be the result.
A small detachment of dragoons will probably be dispatched from Fort Lane and will no doubt render all the assistance in their power to the immigration at large, but the entire force stationed at that post being small, numbering scarcely seventy men, it cannot be expected that more than thirty can be dispatched on this service.
This number, you will readily perceive, is insufficient to perform the service necessary to be rendered in emergencies of this kind.
The present financial condition of the citizens of this section of the Territory renders it impossible to raise the means for the relief of such as may stand in need, owing to the fact that none have recovered from the disastrous consequences of the late war. Supplies could not be procured here sufficient to provision thirty men as many days without the probability of an immediate remuneration therefor. The merchants here are, many of them, paying five percent a month for money, with which they furnished supplies for the volunteer service in the late Rogue River war, while others have been compelled to relinquish their former avocations altogether, not being able to effect loans even at the above ruinous rates of usury.
In view of these facts, I most respectfully beg leave to inquire whether it is in your power to render any aid whatever in this emergency? The militia law of this Territory, section 15, provides that volunteer companies may be formed within the bounds of any regiment, under such rules and regulations as may be prescribed by the colonel thereof and approved by the brigadier general. My opinion is, however, that the law referred to has no bearing in the present instance, and I merely call your attention to this section in order that you may be pleased to correct me if I am in error in my construction of it. Many suppose and even contend that the governor, as commander-in-chief of the militia, has power to call into service volunteer companies to suppress Indian hostilities in any portion of the Territory should there be an insufficiency of United States troops to effect the same purpose. Be that as it may, if you are invested with authority to grant aid in the present instance, or if in the alternative you should deem it prudent to assume in a measure the responsibility of rendering aid and protection to the incoming immigration, I am confident that a great saving of life and property will be the happy result, and should it be necessary for the next legislature to take any action in the matter, by way of memorializing Congress to defray the expenses necessary to be incurred in carrying into effect this desired object, I am free to pledge the hearty cooperation of the five members from this county in support of such a measure.
The state of California has authorized the raising of a company of mounted rangers in the adjoining county of Klamath (the officers of which have already been duly commissioned) for the sole purpose of affording ample protection to her citizens from the incursions of hostile Indians. If such an act is necessary there, where there are comparatively few Indians, and those mostly ignorant of the use of firearms, it must be doubly so here, where there is probably three times the number of Indians, well armed with firearms of the best quality, and who have been taught by experience the most effectual mode of warfare.
I could cite other precedents, but fearing that I have already overtaxed your patience, I subscribe myself your obedient servant,
C. S. DREW,His Excellency Jno. W. Davis,
Quartermaster General of Militia.
Governor and Commander-in-chief of the Militia of O.T.
We freely endorse the above facts as set forth by C. S. Drew.
E. H. CLEVELAND, councilman elect.
ALEX. McINTYRE, legislative member elect.
O. B. McFADDEN.
JOHN E. ROSS.
Executive Office, Oregon Territory,Sir: Your communication of the 7th instant is before me, and I avail myself of the earliest opportunity to reply. Judging from your representations, and such other information as I have been able to obtain in relation to the state of the Indians in Southern Oregon and Northern California, I have no doubt but what a military force would be of great service in affording protection to the coming immigration, but, unfortunately, while the necessity of such a force is obvious, I am, in the absence of the funds necessary to carry out such a design, utterly precluded from rendering that prompt and efficient aid which the circumstances of the case seem to demand.
Salem, July 11, 1854.
The attention of the general government has frequently, within the last few years, been called to the necessity of affording protection to persons immigrating to this coast, yet no appropriation of means has been taken for the accomplishment of that object. There is not a single dollar in my hands which could possibly be applied to the outfitting or paying such an expedition, and the only alternative which presents itself to my mind is to authorize Colonel John E. Ross, of your regimental district, to enlist and muster into service a volunteer company for that purpose, should an evident necessity arise for so doing; they, as a matter of course, will be compelled to await the action of Congress for their pay.
There are many reasons why it would be preferable to raise such a company in your district to taking them from this part of the Territory. A company raised here would be compelled to perform a long march before arriving at a point where assistance or protection could be afforded to the immigrants, and their animals would then be in a condition which would render them ineffectual for such service. Colonel John E. Ross is near the point where such command would be serviceable, and having opportunities of being conversant with the necessity of the case; besides, he is the officer whose duty it is, under the orders of the commander-in-chief, to call out and superintend the organization of troops in such contingencies.
I have, therefore, given him discretionary orders, the exercise of which, as a matter of course, resulting from the condition of things, must be controlled by his own good judgment. In the event of such command being raised, all that I can say is, to request you, as quartermaster general, to render them every assistance in your power in the way of equipment and subsistence, and, so far as any expenditures of this kind are made under an evident necessity for such expenditures, every proper effort will be made by this department to obtain compensation from the general government for such outlay.
It is true that by the organic law of this Territory the governor is constituted commander-in-chief of the militia--a mere authority vested without the necessary means to render it effective. It is certainly, as you suggest, within my power to order out the militia in cases of emergency, yet it is beyond my power, in the absence of any means for that purpose, to pay them for such service, equip or subsist them in the field, much less, however desirable it might be, to render pecuniary assistance to persons immigrating to this Territory.
In view of all these facts, our only resource is to rely upon the voluntary aid and patriotism of our fellow citizens. I shall by this mail enclose a copy of your letter to General Wool, commander of this military district, with an urgent request that he order up troops for the protection of the immigrants. You may rest assured that in the event of hostilities being commenced in your region by the Indians, under circumstances which may render it necessary, that every exertion will be made to forward arms, ammunition and men for the protection of your settlers. It will afford me pleasure at all times to receive intelligence from you in relation to the condition of Indian affairs in your region.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JNO. W. DAVIS, Governor.C. S. Drew,
Quartermaster General, Oregon Militia.
Executive Office, Oregon Territory.Sir: It having been represented at this office that it might be desirable or necessary for a detachment of volunteers to proceed out upon what is known as the southern route to Oregon for the protection of the coming immigration against hostile Indians, you are hereby authorized to enlist a company of volunteers and order them upon that service, if, in your judgment, it should be deemed expedient and necessary. The number of volunteers and time of service will be regulated by your own knowledge of the necessity of the case, and organized under such rules and regulations as you may see proper to adopt, not inconsistent with the militia law of this Territory. Quartermaster General Drew is authorized to render you any assistance in his power in arming, equipping and subsisting of such command. I am aware of the many embarrassments under which you will labor if it should be considered necessary to raise such a command without a single dollar to defray expenses; you will be compelled to rely upon the liberality and patriotism of our fellow citizens, who in turn will be compelled to rely upon the justness of the general government for their compensation.
Salem, July 17, 1854.
For further information, I ask to refer you to my communication to Quartermaster General Drew of even date herewith, and remain, very respectfully, yours,
JOHN W. DAVIS, Governor.Colonel John E. Ross,
Ninth Regiment of Oregon Militia.
Jacksonville, O.T., August 5, 1854.Whereas, having received orders from his excellency John W. Davis, Governor of Oregon Territory, dated Salem, July 17, 1854, authorizing me to call into service any number of volunteers I may deem necessary for the protection of the immigration on the southern route to Oregon, and the Piute, Modoc and a part of the Shasta tribes of Indians having never entered into a treaty of peace with the whites, but, on the contrary, have plundered, robbed and murdered a part of every immigration that has passed through the country which they inhabit, a large immigration being now on their way to Southern Oregon, and recently the Indians on this route having stolen four horses at the head of Stuart's Creek and waylaid the road leading from here to Yreka, murdering Daniel Gage and taking his loaded pack train, and having killed another citizen in the immediate neighborhood and in the vicinity of the immigrant trail, and the regular army stationed at Fort Lane and Fort Jones being too small to send a force to protect the immigration, being wholly inadequate to prevent the Indians from committing depredations on the settlements: therefore, I deem it absolutely necessary, from my personal knowledge of the many depredations heretofore committed on this southern route, to call into service one company of mounted volunteers, to consist of seventy or seventy-five men rank and file, for the protection of the immigration on the Southern Oregon immigrant trail. As soon as seventy men have enrolled for this service they will elect from their number one captain, one first and one second lieutenant, and the captain will appoint the sergeants and corporals, or cause them to be elected by the company, at his discretion. As far as practicable, each officer and private will mount, arm and equip himself. The quartermaster general, C. S. Drew, will mount, arm and equip those who are unable to provide tor themselves. The company will remain in service for three months, or until the entire immigration has passed through the country of the hostiles, unless they are relieved by United States troops; in which event they will immediately repair to headquarters, and be discharged from the service.
JOHN E. BOSS,
Colonel Commanding, Ninth Regiment Oregon Militia.
Headquarters 9th Regiment, O.M.,Sir: You will immediately proceed with your company, along the Southern Oregon immigrant trail, to some suitable point near Clear Lake or on Lost River, in the vicinity of the place where the immigration of 1852 was massacred by the Indians, where you will establish your headquarters. From this encampment you will send out detachments of such numbers as you may deem effective as far as the Humboldt River, giving them instructions to collect the immigrants together in as large companies as convenient, the better to withstand the attacks of the Indians. Each train will be strictly guarded through the entire hostile country.
Jacksonville, O.T., August 8, 1854.
It is to be hoped that your company, in the heart of their country, will deter the Indians from committing their annual depredations upon the immigrants coming in by this route. Your treatment of the Indians must in a great measure be left to your own judgment and discretion. If possible, however, cultivate their friendship, but if necessary for the safety of the lives and property of the immigration, whip and drive them from the road.
JOHN E. ROSS,Captain Walker.
Col. Commanding, 9th Regiment, O.M.
Territory of Oregon,Dear Sir: I enclose herewith a "slip" containing an authentic account of the massacre of a portion of the immigration to this country, in the vicinity of Fort Boise, by a band of Snake Indians. The writer, Mr. Orlando Humason, whom you well know, is a gentleman of the highest integrity, and his statement may be relied upon implicitly.
Executive Office, Salem, September 18, 1854.
The news of this distressing occurrence has occasioned deep feelings in the hearts of the community. A United States force, under the command of Major Haller, of the 4th infantry, and one company of volunteers, commanded by Nathan Olney, Esq., are now in pursuit of the murderers, having engaged in the expedition, upon the reception of the news at the "Dalles," with a promptitude the most gratifying and commendable. It is very much to be hoped that it may be in the power of the authorities to inflict upon the perpetrators of this great outrage the punishment they so richly merit.
You will do me a personal favor, and your constituents a great service, by calling the attention of the Department of War to the fact of the necessity of the establishment of a garrison or military post at or near "Fort Boise." Were it only kept up during the summer and fall months, while the immigrants are on the road, it would be of incalculable benefit in keeping in check the propensities of the Indians to robbery and violence. Indeed, I conceive it to be a matter of the chiefest importance that our government should give more attention to this matter of protection and defense of the annual immigration towards the Pacific. If it be not practicable to afford protection over the entire route, let sufficient forces from the posts at the extremes of the Territory be directed to make summer and fall excursions into the heart of the Indian country, and in the vicinity of the immigrant routes. Are there not posts within the settlements in this and Washington Territories, the location of which might be changed with advantage to the frontier?
My dear sir, with every confidence in your spirit and energy, I leave this matter in your hands; press it with all earnestness and force upon the department, and if need be upon Congress. The lives of our people must not be sacrificed when it is in the power of the government to avert it.
Yours always, sincerely,
GEO. L. CURRY,Gen. Joseph Lane,
Acting Governor of Oregon.
Delegate to Congress from Oregon
Territory of Oregon,Dear Sir: Since my letter to you of the morning of the 18th instant I have received information of an official character that the force already in the field is quite inadequate for the apprehension or punishment of the perpetrators of the unprecedented outrage in the vicinity of Fort Boise. I have therefore issued a proclamation calling for an additional force of two companies of mounted volunteers. I hope to have this reinforcement in motion for the theater of action by the 25th instant.
Executive Office, Salem, September 20, 1854.
Other acts of violence have been committed by the Indians on other trails into this Territory. A company of volunteers, by order of Governor Davis, made an excursion on the south route to meet the immigration and protect it from apprehended danger. A small detachment of this command was attacked by a large body of Indians (in ambush on both sides of the road) near the sink of Lost River. On the middle or new route, coming in, as you remember, from Malheur into Lane County, a Mr. Turner's party was attacked and one man was killed--young Stewart, of Corvallis. I cannot but deplore the necessity that demands the enforcement of measures involving such an expenditure of money. But I beg to assure you that the greatest care will be exercised, and the most rigid economy practiced, in the contracting of liabilities. So long as the people of Oregon are left to protect themselves, to punish Indian depredations and repel Indian hostilities, the expenses incident thereto ought cheerfully to be paid by Congress, as I have no doubt but that they will be.
In haste, yours always, sincerely,
GEO. L. CURRY,Gen. Joseph Lane,
Acting Governor of Oregon.
Delegate in Congress from Oregon.
Territory of Oregon,Sir: I have the honor to state that on the 28th ultimo, in the vicinity of Fort Boise, a post of the Hudson Bay Company, situated some six hundred and fifty miles from this place, and four hundred and fifty from the Dalles of the Columbia River, a party of the immigration, numbering between twenty and thirty souls, were massacred by the We-net [Wihinasht?] Indians, one of the numerous bands of the Shoshones, or Snake tribe. The women, after suffering the most revolting treatment, were killed by torture, and the little children of the party burned to death. The first version received of this melancholy news was, in substance, that the men of the company had been shot down while engaged in driving their teams, unarmed and unsuspicious of danger.
Executive Office, Salem, September 25, 1854.
The receipt of such news at Fort Dalles caused the officer in charge of that post to dispatch a small force of regular troops, with a company of immigrants and citizens of that vicinity, commanded by Nathan Olney, Esq., consisting of thirty-seven men, who volunteered for the service, in pursuit of the Indians. Almost simultaneous I received the intelligence of the massacre of the women and children and information from Mr. Olney, desiring assistance. I therefore issued a proclamation on the 18th instant calling for the enrollment of two companies of volunteers
Public feeling had been so intensely excited by this most unprecedented outrage that I should have been deemed indifferent to the interests of the Territory and the discharge of my duty had I taken no official action towards the apprehension or punishment of the perpetrators of the outrage, and I should have felt myself derelict to the responsibilities resting upon me.
Understanding that there was an abundance of subsistence, munitions of war, camp equipage and all the requisites for the outfit of such an expedition at Fort Dalles, it was my hope that through these means I would be enabled to facilitate the undertaking, so that the force could have gone forward with all possible dispatch and accomplished effective service before the setting in of winter. I regret to state, however, that the chief in command at Vancouver declined the cooperation I had so certainly expected, even to the supplying the munitions of war so essential to the equipment of the expedition, alleging, among other reasons, that it was not an emergency that warranted such an enterprise, that the force already out was thought to be quite adequate for the occasion &c.
No doubt the supplies necessary--subsistence, ammunition, means of transportation &c.--could have been obtained in time from the settlements at large, though not soon enough, I was apprehensive, to get the expedition, in an efficient condition, across the Blue Mountains before the period would have elapsed beyond which travel over these mountains would be extremely hazardous, if not utterly impracticable. Under these circumstances I was constrained to abandon the undertaking, and the enrollment, which had been responded to in the most gallant manner, was countermanded on the 23rd instant by proclamation.
I feel it my duty to observe that Indian depredation upon life and property has also been committed the present season upon the other two immigrant trails conducting into this valley, and respectfully submit whether the melancholy occurrences that have befallen the immigration of the present year do not demonstrate the absolute necessity of the establishment of a military post at some point near Fort Boise, were it only to be kept up during the clement seasons of the year. If this is judged to be inadvisable, it would be well to have detachments from the posts at the northern extremes of the Territory make excursions into the interior, along the immigrant road, as far as Fort Hall at least, while the immigrants are en route, which would have a most salutary effect upon the Indians and a very great tendency to check their disposition to acts of violence and depredation.
It is very sincerely to be regretted that the troops at forts Vancouver and Dalles, instead of the inactive life they have been accustomed to, had not made such excursions the present year, which, it is quite probable, would have saved us from the appalling calamity which has so shocked our whole community.
I beg to remark that the people of this Territory do not appear to be satisfied that the military force now in the field is by any means adequate to the emergency, nor calculated to inflict a punishment upon our Indian enemies commensurate with the magnitude of their crime. Its character, at least, does not suggest such a gratifying belief. With the exception of the few volunteers with it, the detachment is composed of men unacquainted with equestrian exercises, altogether unsuited to the service in which they are engaged, as are the entire forces of forts Vancouver and Dalles, unadapted to efficient operations against Indians, consisting, as they do, of artillery and infantry detachments, troops of a character more proper to protect a commercial seaboard than an extensive Indian frontier.
If furnished with the requisite munitions of war the people of Oregon are competent to protect themselves from Indian aggression; nor do they wish the general government to maintain military posts within their settlements rather than on the frontier or in the interior of the Indian country, where such establishments are eminently needed, where incalculable benefit would be sure to result from the moral effect alone of their existence.
I have the honor to enclose herewith copies of the proclamations alluded to, and such correspondence as properly pertain to this communication.
I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEO. L. CURRY,The President of the United States.
Acting Governor of Oregon.
Headquarters 9th Regiment O.M.,Sir: Having been in active service with my company for upwards of three months on the Southern Oregon immigrant trail, and being about to be discharged from the public service, I have the honor of submitting the following report of the expedition:
Jacksonville, O.T., November 6, 1854.
In pursuance to your orders of the 3rd of August last I marched with my company from the head of Rogue River Valley on the 8th of that month, and arrived at the crossing of Lost River on the 18th of the same month. Soon after our arrival at this place we saw a party of 13 men from Yreka, California, returning, who had gone out to meet their friends that were expected to come this road from the states this season. They informed me that they had just been fired upon by a large body of the Modoc Indians, of not less than 150 or 200 warriors, who had collected on both sides of the immigrant trail, on the north side of Tule Lake, at the sink of Lost River. Several shots had been fired on both sides, but the Yreka party, being so small, was compelled to flee and seek protection from my company, which they knew was close behind them. As soon as I received this information I set out with sixty men for the purpose of making a charge upon the ranch. On arriving near to the Indian ranches we found it impossible to get our horses within 400 yards of the Indian encampment. We then immediately dismounted and took after them on foot, when they fled in great confusion to their boats and canoes (which lined the bank of the lake near the ranches) and rowed out on the lake far beyond the reach of our rifle balls, leaving behind them the whole of their camp equipage and provisions, which they had carefully collected and piled away in large quantities to subsist upon during the winter. After a careful reconnoiter we found an Indian horse and two squaws in the tules. After burning the ranches and provisions I released the squaws, upon their promising to use their influence to persuade the Indians to become friends to the whites. From the 18th of August to the 4th of September we had several skirmishes with these Indians, killing several and taking a few prisoners; among the number was a half-breed Indian girl, about three years old. In all of these skirmishes the Indians would (when hard pushed by us) retreat to their boats, where it was impossible to follow them, although we made the attempt several times, wading in water up to our armpits. A few small boats were much needed for the company to attack the enemy successfully. On the 4th of September the Indians, being entirely out of provisions, were compelled to beg for quarters, which were granted them upon their faithfully promising to be friendly and never to kill or rob another white person. These Indians have always been more hostile than any others on this road, but they seem now to desire to live on friendly terms with the whites, and by a small force being stationed in the vicinity of Goose Lake I think they can be easily controlled.
Having made peace with the Modocs, and learning that the Piute Indians were very hostile, and were stealing stock from immigrants in the vicinity of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, on the 1st of October I moved my headquarters to Goose Lake, and on the 3rd of October took with me 16 men and proceeded along the immigrant trail to the east side of the Sierra Nevada, and there discovered a large Indian trail, running in a northeasterly direction. I followed this trail about eight miles, when I came in sight of a large band of Indians encamped at the head of what I shall now call Hot Spring Valley, which lies on the east side of these mountains. The Indians saw us crossing the mountains and immediately fled in all directions. We pursued a large band of them north about forty miles, and on the second day came in sight of them, strongly fortified at the south end of Piute Valley. This fortification is a natural one, it being an immense rock of from thirty to one hundred feet in height. We named it Warner's Rock, in honor of the late gallant Captain Warner, of the United States army, who was massacred, with three of his company, at or near this rock, by the Piute Indians in 1849. The rock somewhat resembles Table Rock in Rogue River Valley. The top can only be approached on one side. On the south side there is a narrow ridge, about thirty feet wide and half a mile long. On the top there is a three-square breastwork, partly natural and partly artificial, of stone. It is five or six feet in height, and large enough for one or two hundred men to lie entirely concealed behind it. We approached this place at sunrise on the morning of the 6th of October, and commenced an attack upon the Indians. The action lasted about six hours, the men taking shelter during the whole time behind the rocks in the rear of the fortification occupied by the Indians. In this action John Low received a slight wound, and we had one horse killed. However, we captured a horse from the enemy, and killed some eight or ten Indians during the action. The precise number of the enemy is not known, but there must have been, from appearances, not less than one hundred warriors. I was at last compelled to retreat, being entirely unable to route them with my little force.
The next day we traveled up Piute Valley fifty miles, and discovered several large ranches that had just been abandoned by the Indians, leaving behind them large quantities of fish and the finest grass seed, which they use for food.
From Piute Valley I crossed the Sierra Nevada Mountains, about fifty miles north of the immigrant road, and surprised an Indian ranch on the west side of the mountains, in Goose Lake Valley, killed two Indians and took one prisoner.
On the 11th of October, with twenty-five men, I again attacked the Indians near Warner's Rock, and surprised them just at daybreak, after a forced march of forty miles during the night. The action only lasted a few minutes. We took one fine American mare and one prisoner, and killed eight of the enemy. The victory was complete. The enemy were panic-stricken and fled in all directions. In this action Sergeant Hill was dangerously wounded by a rifle ball passing through his arm, jaw and tongue, breaking his jawbone and cutting off a portion of his tongue, which was the only damage we sustained in the battle.
The Piutes in the vicinity of the Sierra Nevada Mountains are hostile, brave and very numerous. It will take a large force to conquer them. They are connected with the Snake Indians, and they own one of the finest countries in Oregon. There are beautiful, rich and productive valleys on both sides of the mountains, immediately north of the immigrant trail, abounding in the finest grasses, and also a great variety of wild herbs, upon which the Indians subsist. These valleys are about one hundred miles in length, running north and south, and from twenty to twenty-five miles in width, and are surrounded by high and rugged mountains on both sides, to which those Indians flee for safety when pursued by the whites.
During the time I was engaged in these expeditions I kept from twenty-five to thirty men on the immigrant trail, guarding trains, under command of Lieutenant Westfeldt, who, I am happy to say, proved himself to be an able and efficient officer. He traveled as far out on the immigrant trail as the Humboldt River, and found the Indians in that vicinity to be very hostile and unfriendly to the whites. I am informed that among the last of the trains that came down the Humboldt, the Indians near "Gravelly Ford" attacked one of the trains, and took four men and two women prisoners, and after robbing them of everything they had made signal for the immigrants to leave, and as soon as their backs were turned fired upon them, killing two of the men and one woman, and wounding the others. It is therefore indispensably necessary that a strong and efficient force be sent out early next summer to drive the Indians from the immigrant road and conquer them if possible.
I have the honor to be, your most respectful and obedient servant,
JESSE WALKER,Colonel John E. Ross,
Captain, Commanding Company A, 9th Regiment Oregon Militia.
9th Regiment Oregon Militia.
Jacksonville, O.T., November 10, 1854.Dear Sir: I have the pleasure of presenting copies of my call for volunteers on the 3rd of August last, my order to Captain Walker on the 8th of the same month, and Captain Walker's report of the expedition, dated November 8, 1854.
Captain Walker, with his whole command, arrived here on the 6th instant. The officers and privates were all generally well, and were immediately discharged. The muster rolls are not yet made out, but I will send them to General Barnum by one of our members, who will go down to Salem at the meeting of the legislative assembly. The expenses have been high, and more than I anticipated at the time the company was organized. But the evident necessity for the company, and the happy result of the expedition, it is confidently hoped, will induce Congress immediately to assume the expenses.
It may be interesting to mention the previous character of the Piute, Modoc and disaffected roaming Shasta Indians who inhabit the country east of the settlements of Rogue River Valley, and along the immigrant road to Southern Oregon and Northern California. The Modoc and Shasta Indians, who refused to make any treaty with the United States, occupy the country near the California line, between the spurs of the Cascade Mountains and the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the Piutes occupy the country between the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Shoshones, or Snakes, on Humboldt River. "Old Lalakes," the chief of the Klamath Lake tribe, has tried to control the Modocs and Piutes, but they dispute his authority and have confederated with the Shoshones, who inhabit the country along the Humboldt River, and have always been inveterate enemies to the whites.
I am informed that, in the fall of 1846, Jesse Applegate and others acted as guides for the first immigration that passed through the country of the Piutes and Modoc Indians, and they annoyed the immigrants very much by stealing their stock, and murdered one of the immigrants on Lost River.
Owing to the distance to Northern Oregon and Middle California by this route, and the hostility of the Shoshones, Piutes and Modocs, and the many difficulties which the first immigration encountered on this route, but few traveled it from 1846 until the fall of 1852, after the settling of Shasta and Rogue River valleys. In the fall of 1852 there was a large immigration came this route to California and Oregon, and about the 11th September news reached this valley that whole trains of immigrants had been massacred on Lost River. A company of twenty-two volunteers were immediately raised in Jacksonville, and they elected me their captain. The whole company left here on the 13th of September, made forced marches, and in a few days arrived at Lost River. We found the bodies of fourteen immigrants and buried them. Several of them were women and children; they were much mutilated. On our arrival at Clear Lake, about twenty-two miles beyond this, we found Captain Ben. Wright's company, from Yreka, California, stationed at the lake. He informed me that his men had found and buried eighteen bodies in the vicinity of Bloody Point, at Tule Lake and among the number were Captain Coats and Mr. Orvensby [Ornsby/Ormsby], two respectable citizens of Yreka, California, who went out to assist the immigration.
Captain Wright's company remained out some time after the immigrants had all passed through this country. He found several more bodies of those who had been massacred by these Indians. The precise number that were massacred in a single season by these Indians, between Klamath Lake and the Sierra Nevada Mountains, probably will never be known to the whites. Some of these Indians have been killed in battle since these massacres, but not a single murderer has yet been given up by the tribes and brought to justice.
The California legislature, at its next session thereafter, paid all expenses of Captain Wright's company, and liberally rewarded the officers and privates for their services. My company did arduous service, was out some thirty-odd days, returned with the last of the immigration, and received for our services the compliments of the Oregon legislative assembly. The last immigration was protected along this route by a detachment of dragoons and Captain John F. Miller's company (mounted volunteers), who were stationed on Lost River by General Lane, yet, notwithstanding this partial protection, they stole during the season a large amount of stock from the last immigration. Having a personal knowledge of these Indians, and knowing their deadly hostility and natural propensity to rob, plunder and murder the whites, it is truly gratifying to know that the whole of this year's immigration for Southern Oregon and Northern California have passed through the Piute and Modoc countries without a single immigrant being killed by these Indians, and comparatively with but little loss of property. Much credit is due to Captain Walker, and to the officers and men belonging to his command, for their kindness to the immigrants, and for their vigilance, energy and untiring industry in the prosecution of their mission. The animals belonging to the expedition bear unmistakable evidence of the arduous service which they have performed. The transportation and riding animals were all in fine condition at the time they entered the service, but the most of them have returned poor, emaciated and scarcely able to travel.
In relation to the massacre near "Gravelly Ford," on the Humboldt, the report is confirmed by the immigrants and the California papers. These Indians, too, will have to be taught the power of American arms.
I have the honor to be your most respectful and obedient servant,
JOHN E. ROSS,Geo. L. Curry,
Colonel 2th Regiment O.M.
Acting Governor and Commander-in-chief.
Quartermaster General's Office,Sir: I have the honor to submit, in obedience to the instructions directed to this office by his excellency John W. Davis, late governor of Oregon, bearing date July 17, 1854, the muster rolls pertaining to this department, together with the accounts and vouchers relating to the expedition sent upon the southern Oregon immigrant road, under instructions from the same source, and of even date, directed to Colonel John E. Ross, of the 9th regiment Oregon militia, authorizing (if deemed necessary) the enrollment of a mounted volunteer force to suppress Indian hostilities known to exist in that portion of Oregon contiguous to Rogue River Valley, and through which the annual overland immigration passes en route to. Southern Oregon and Northern California.
Salem, O.T., December 30, 1854.
The abstracts and corresponding papers connected therewith relate to army supplies purchased, transportation of the same, issues, sales of captured and other property.
Monthly returns of the issues of both subsistence and forage have been made, with the exception of a small amount of subsistence issued to such of the immigration as were destitute of food. The returns for subsistence issued under this head may be seen by referring to the abstract of issues marked "H."
The whole amount of supplies furnished the expedition have been, in most instances, procured at a less price than were those of the Rogue River war of 1853. The small amount of funds placed at my disposal has enabled me to procure a portion of them at their actual cash value, immediate payments having been made therefor. Owing to the limited amount of means, however, which could be obtained for this purpose, ready payments have only been made when the state of the market has precluded the possibility of procuring the requisite supplies on any other than cash terms.
No effort has been wanting or action left untried by this department that would tend in any degree to further the design for which the command was called into service. To the officers and others connected with the expedition I am under many obligations for the prompt, efficient and constant aid they have rendered me throughout the entire campaign in the discharge of the duties of this office; the varied and complicated duties of which require strict attention and an intimate acquaintance with all its various branches.
A rigid accountability is in all cases enjoined by the government in the execution of vouchers and returns, requiring care and method, and a thorough knowledge on the part of the officers in the discharge of these functions of the duties of the soldier in and out of the field. Without these requisites a perfect system of retrenchment cannot be successfully carried out in the midst of active operations.
Profiting by the practical knowledge (though limited) of the modus operandi of the quartermaster and commissary departments, gained, however, in the volunteer service only of the preceding years on this coast, I have been enabled in no small degree to curtail the expenses incident to service of this character.
The issue of forage has been exceedingly small, being less than one-third the amount allowed in regular service, and the prices specified in the forage accounts, herewith transmitted, correspond with the present cash value of that commodity in the section of country in which it was absolutely necessary to procure forage for the campaign.
The amount of the quartermaster accounts proper, hospital accounts, and those of miscellaneous expenditures, is altogether less than could be expected, taking into consideration the length and nature of the service rendered. The heavy expenditure connected with the quartermaster's department in the volunteer service of 1853 (Rogue River war) has to a great extent been avoided. The blacksmithing accounts particularly of that year's service amounted to a not inconsiderable sum, while such accounts in the present instance furnish but a small item of expense.
The transportation accounts of the expedition form an important item of the sum total of its cost.
The price per diem specified is the least amount for which transportation animals could possibly be procured. Such persons, however, as are least acquainted with the country, and the nature of the service required, with all its peculiarities, may deem such prices as being exorbitantly high, but a thorough investigation of the subject, and a familiarity with all its details, cannot fail to banish such erroneous opinions, should any be found to exist.
A glance at the history of the country proves conclusively that Indian hostilities usually commence during the spring and summer months, and, in either case, rarely cease till autumn. Consequently the seasons of the year in which our citizens are the most profitably employed in their various vocations are irretrievably lost whenever and wherever such a state of things exists. It is the season, in fact, in which the agriculturist, on whom the country depends for its subsistence, is compelled to plant and to harvest; the miner to prospect his winter diggins; the mechanic to procure the necessaries of life for himself and family for the balance of the year; the merchant to lay in his semi-annual supply of goods, thereby employing what means of transportation the country affords, and paying remunerative prices therefor.
It may be truly said that the spring and summer months to the pioneers of the West is what the depot and magazine is to a military force. It not only enables them to procure the common necessaries of life, but also furnishes them the means actually necessary for the prosecution of their journey on the road to wealth and happiness.
Thus it may be seen that persons placing their transportation trains in the service of the government, as did those in the present instance, are compelled to abandon their legitimate and lucrative employment, an act, of course, which nothing but an anticipation of a fair remuneration would authorize them to commit. And I may add that animals used in service of this kind are seldom for a longer period at any one time than from one to three months, and in either case are generally unfit for further service when discharged; consequently, the owners not only lose the profits arising from their business during the only portion of the year which is valuable to them, but are compelled to procure forage at a heavy cost before they can resume their former vocation. Such has been the case heretofore, and such is the case in the present instance.
Those who have rendered service, or from whom supplies have been procured for the command, look for remuneration to the same source as do those placed in similar circumstances by the war of 1853, before alluded to. And a just appreciation of the service rendered, a candid and impartial consideration of the circumstances under which the command was called into the field, and a proper regard for the present and future welfare of Oregon, demands early attention and an immediate response on the part of the general government.
Owing to the disastrous results of the war of the preceding year, which unfortunately prostrated the larger portion of the mercantile community of Southern Oregon, I was wholly unable to procure in that vicinity the amount of supplies requisite to keep the command in the field for the length of time necessary to accomplish the design for which it was called into service. This difficulty, however, I was enabled to overcome through the generosity of the citizens of Yreka, California, without whose assistance the command must have abandoned its mission, and much suffering and loss of life and property would have been the unhappy result.
I regret my inability to express, in an appropriate manner, the gratitude I owe to the merchants and others of that city for the cheerfulness and promptitude with which they placed at my disposal the amount of supplies required. I speak not in the language of idle compliment, however, when I assure you that their patriotism knows no bounds, their means of rendering aid no limit, whenever the welfare of the country requires either their personal services or pecuniary assistance.
No relief or provision trains accompanied the expedition, as has usually been the custom in such cases, particularly in California, consequently the provisions issued to persons found in indigent circumstances were taken from the rations of the command.
The class of persons who annually made their trips to the plains for the purpose of trading in stock &c. have abandoned the practice of taking provisions with them for purposes of speculation. This change is, no doubt, owing to the fact that a majority of those who are found destitute of the actual necessaries of life are also minus the means necessary to procure them, and the trader, with his capital thus invested, is compelled in many instances to render aid without receiving any remuneration therefor, and his adventure of course proves an entire failure.
I mention these facts in order to show the necessity of being prepared to grant immediate aid in such emergencies, and of devising some method by which persons who intend emigrating via the overland route to this coast may be warned against the dangerous policy of leaving the eastern frontier with a short allowance of provisions, anticipating an opportunity to purchase on the road. Such a course has proved wholly impolitic, and fraught in many instances with direful consequences.
Many of the immigration, to whom the command had the good fortune to lend a helping hand, found themselves destitute of provisions on their arrival at the Sierra Nevada Mountains, an event which would not have occurred had not the rumor been prevalent at their points of embarkation that provisions in abundance could be purchased at Humboldt River, which, unfortunately, was not the case.
I should do injustice to my own feelings did I neglect to improve the opportunity which the present occasion affords to pay at least a passing tribute, however feeble it may be, to the officers and men composing the expedition. Their zeal in the cause of humanity, the devoted patriotism with which they rallied to protect the defenseless, the promptitude, correctness and ability exercised in the discharge of their several duties, the cheerfulness with which they shared their scanty subsistence with the needy, and their untiring efforts to facilitate the journey of those who, from unforeseen events, required special attention, merits the warmest approbation of the general government, and higher encomiums of praise than is in the power of my feeble pen to bestow.
But one circumstance only connected with the management of the expedition has occurred to mar the happy results of the campaign, or that may tend to create prejudices unfavorable to those at whose suggestions the command was called into service. I refer to the sale of provisions to immigrants, which, through a misconstruction of orders, actually took place. None can regret the occurrence of this act more than myself. The sum received, however, from this source was small, all of which has been judiciously appropriated for purposes connected with the service, as the accompanying accounts and vouchers plainly set forth.
The quartermaster and commissary stores remaining on hand at the close of the service, together with the small amount of property captured, were sold, after due notice had been given, and the proceeds expended as above stated, proper vouchers in all cases being taken.
I may have gone beyond the limits of my legitimate duty in this instance by procuring the sale of property which may be considered as belonging to the general government, in the absence of specific instructions authorizing me to do so. But, as may be seen by reference to the abstracts of sales, the greater portion of the property then on hand consisted of a few horses and cattle only, for which it was necessary to procure forage, the scarcity of which, and the consequent high price demanded, precluded the possibility of keeping them for any length of time with the view of deriving any benefit from the proceeds of sale.
A knowledge on the part of many of the citizens of the section of country in which it has been my fortune to reside for a few years past of the means within my reach of becoming familiar with matters pertaining to Indian affairs, may require at my hands a simple statement of the views I entertain relative to that subject, and in complying I am confident that I shall not only express my own views upon the subject, but shall speak the sentiments of all who are in any degree conversant with the Indian character.
I am aware, however, that acting in the official capacity in which I am placed it is not my duty to comment (were I able to do so) upon the policy of the government, but to carry it out in accordance with instructions which I may from time to time receive as occasion may require. I have, in every instance, endeavored to do so, but the lessons which I have been taught by the experience of a few years' residence in an Indian country, and the knowledge I have gained, from actual observation, of their treacherous character, prompts me to give the subject a passing notice.
The prospects of living on amicable terms with the numerous and formidable tribes of Indians infesting our frontier borders, in fact, occupying the whole extent of country from the British possessions in the north to Mexico in the south, and from beyond the Rocky Mountains on the east to the Pacific Ocean on the west, is certainly anything but flattering. And my humble opinion is that the coming season will furnish the data of the commencement of a war equal in magnitude and direful results to that of Florida, or perhaps second to none that has ever occurred on the continent. And the experience of the past brings with it the painful conviction that, in view of the scarcity of troops on the Pacific Coast, prompt and efficient means must be adopted by the citizens of this Territory to prevent, if possible, the reenactment of the atrocious massacres of the preceding years on our western frontier.
Among the many incidents of this character I will only refer to the massacre of upwards of thirty men, women and children, in the summer of 1852, on the Southern Oregon emigrant trail, and that of seven men on Rogue River during the following winter, the various murders perpetrated by them during the summers of 1853 and 1854, in Southern Oregon particularly, together with the horrid massacre so recently committed near Fort Boise, to substantiate the fact that Indians are in no case to be relied upon.
I could cite other instances of Indian atrocities, though perhaps of less magnitude (save those of Cayuse notoriety), were not the facts too well known to require a repetition of their revolting recitals. The treacherous conduct of the Indian has at all times, and on all occasions, since the organization of the first American settlements in this Territory, been such as is calculated to deprive them of the sympathy of every true man having the cause of humanity at heart, and to convince the most peaceable of the necessity of their subjugation. The history of the country since the landing of the Pilgrims to the present time proves them wholly unworthy of confidence, and consequent subjects of governmental policy. The most humane cannot but acknowledge that it is time for vigorous action, and that sickly sentimentality should cease. "Lo! the poor Indian," is the exclamation of our modern philanthropists and love-sick novel writers. "Lo! the defenseless men, women and children, who have fallen victims and suffered even more than death itself at their hands," is the immediate response of the surviving witnesses of the inhuman butcheries perpetrated by this God-accursed race.
The strenuous efforts put forth on the part of the general government to live on amicable terms with the numerous tribes of Indians infesting both the Atlantic and Pacific seaboard has often led to disastrous results. Treaties, in many instances, have proved disadvantageous to the welfare of the communities in the vicinity of which they have been effected, and the country at large derived little or no benefit from them, except in cases where a thorough subjugation has occurred. Treaties effected under any other circumstances ought not to be relied upon, inasmuch as they are of no validity with the Indian, and they secure to the enemy the privilege of striking the first and oftentimes the fatal blow. It frequently occurs that many who cherish a generous feeling towards those whom they please to term "the last of a fallen race" fall themselves a sacrifice to their confidence in the good faith and fair promises of the Indian, and are as often murdered with all the circumstances of cruelty and treachery characteristic of the race. To illustrate this fact, we have only to refer to the history of the Eastern and Florida wars, and to that of the subsequent wars of this Territory, particularly to the Rogue River war of 1853, the particulars of which are no doubt familiar to every citizen of Oregon.
Since the capitulation entered into at the close of the war especially alluded to, by which the confidence of the public was again restored, several of the most prominent citizens of the section of country in which the war occurred have been waylaid and most barbarously murdered by parties of the identical tribes with whom the stipulations had been entered into but a short time previous.
Among those who have thus fallen victims to the plighted faith of the Indians are the names of Kyle, a highly esteemed merchant, of Jacksonville, Edwards, a miner of the same locality, and Gage, a merchant of an adjoining county. All were murdered at different times, and against whom the Indians could have entertained no hostile feelings other than those manifested by the entire race towards mankind in general, when fear or a hope of gain do not dictate otherwise. Nor is the committal of murder the only manner in which they have expressed an almost entire disregard of the solemn compact entered into, to which I have before alluded. A not inconsiderable amount of property has also been stolen by them during the past year, under circumstances, too, which renders the theft doubly criminal in its nature, for a majority of those whom they have thus robbed were heavy losers by the war of the year previous, thus practically rendering the white man to the Indian what the African is to the white man--a slave. A statement of the grievances of this character has been properly brought to the notice of the government agent, whose duty should be to guard with zealous care the public welfare, and to aid in the adjustment of any difficulties which may exist between citizens and savages, yet, for reasons best known to himself, he has neglected or refused to render justice to whom justice is due, either by word, deed or action.
It is obvious that this state of things cannot much longer exist. A change either for better or worse must take place. Forbearance has, certainly, in this ceased to be a virtue, and citizens who are thus to be robbed of the proceeds of the toil, care and anxiety of years by a common enemy must resort to their rifles as the only alternative left them for the protection of their property and of their lives.
A candid and impartial view of the already existing hostilities on the part of the various tribes of Indians occupying the country through which the yearly overland immigration is compelled to pass en route to Oregon and California, which is so often manifested by an indiscriminate slaughter of men, women and children, opens a wide field for consideration and remark--a field which I acknowledge my inability to enter with the expectation of rendering so important a subject the justice which its merits require.
The absence of any provision whatever in the organic law of the Territory, which can be so construed as to meet our wants in the present emergency, requires that a generous confidence be reposed in the general government. That she will endeavor to protect her citizens whom she has encouraged to seek homes in the Far West, by granting liberal donations of land, is a matter of too much importance to be even doubted, should she fully realize the many perils they are compelled to encounter while journeying hither to accept the proffered boon, and the insecurity, in many instances, of their lives and property after having arrived at their point of destination.
It is a matter of more than ordinary interest to the citizens of Oregon and vicinity that the attention of the general government be especially directed to the proofs already in its possession, and others which may be adduced, relative to the existence of Indian hostilities on our frontier and elsewhere of long standing. I doubt not that the executive of the Territory has rendered to the proper department a true and concise statement of each particular hostile act in the order in which it occurred, and that the representatives of the interests of Oregon have as often brought the subject to the notice of the powers that be. Yet, owing to the false statements of persons whose sympathy is wholly enlisted in behalf of the Indians, and who are ready and eager whenever an Indian outrage is committed, however criminal or heartrending it may be, to proclaim to the world the borrowed and oft-repeated phrase "the whites are the first aggressors," legislators have been led no doubt to believe that the perpetrators of these foul deeds are, in fact, the injured party. But a calm, dispassionate investigation of the subject, and an unbiased perusal of a compiled history of the various massacres of unoffending citizens, with all their attendant circumstances, that have occurred during the few years past, cannot fail to convince those who entertain such views of the error into which they have fallen, and to satisfy the federal government that unless active and rigorous measures are taken to prevent it a general war is inevitable. The sooner justice is meted out to the aggressor the less will be the cost, and the smaller the number of lives sacrificed. Procrastination, in this emergency, is dangerous in the extreme, for the Indians not only become more deeply impressed with the idea that they can plunder and murder our citizens with impunity, but become familiar with the use of firearms and our mode of warfare.
Owing to the limited number of troops stationed on the Pacific Coast, which can be made available when the season arrives for the resumption of hostilities, and the urgent demand for troops in other portions of the Union, it seems obvious that the enrollment of a mounted volunteer force will become absolutely necessary.
The Snake River country will, no doubt, require the attention of the government as soon as spring opens, and a concentration at that point of the entire military force now stationed in this vicinity. Unfortunately, however, the military force now stationed here consists principally of infantry, which experience has proved to be inefficient for service in an Indian country; not that they lack the energy, courage and a hearty good will to render effectual service under any and all circumstances, but for obvious reasons, beyond their control, they are unable to do so; consequently, a volunteer force, even for that section of the country, will, no doubt, be required.
Nor is the Snake River country the only point from which danger need be apprehended during the coming summer, for, aside from the Indians against whom the expedition was sent in August last, are the Pit Rivers, a most formidable tribe, who have ever been noted for their unrelenting hostility to the whites, and for the adroitness and skill manifested in their frequent depredations in the settlements and on the highway. But little fear has been entertained of this tribe heretofore in this Territory, yet, owing to the fact that they are constantly being driven further into the interior by the miners and mountaineers of California, until they are now close upon our borders, at a point, too, in the vicinity of which the annual overland emigration passes en route to Southern Oregon, renders it a subject worthy of notice. They, like the Modocs, Piutes, Klamaths and other tribes in that section of country, have never evinced a desire for peace unless compelled through fear to do so. Towards this section of country, which has been converted into a battlefield for three successive summers past, and in which the most unheard of cruelties and barbarities have been perpetrated upon defenseless citizens, regardless of age, sex or condition, I most respectfully beg leave to call your early attention, lest it becomes the theater of the tragical scenes so recently enacted near Fort Boise.
The policy pursued by the federal government in the prosecution of the Florida and other wars of a kindred nature is the only alternative upon which we can safely rely.
Let the requisite number of mounted volunteers be called into the field, dragoons instead of infantry transferred to the Territory, ample funds placed at the disposal of the proper department, and it seems obvious that the impending conflict would soon be ended, and our desire for peace, the security of the lives and property of our citizens, and the promotion of the welfare of the country more than fully realized.
These suggestions, I am aware, will meet opposition on the part of the pseudo-philanthropists, a few of whom have, unluckily, found their way to Oregon, where their presence is so little needed. However, as I have before alluded to this class of fanatics, I now respectfully leave them to their own reflections, with a faint hope that they may soon see themselves as others see them.
There may be those, however, who honestly entertain the belief that volunteer service draws too heavily upon the treasury of the country. Be that as it may, certain it is that volunteers have never been sufficiently compensated to remunerate them for the sacrifices they are compelled to make on leaving home and employment, aside from the dangers and privations they are compelled to encounter while absent.
Whenever a disparity exists in the expense of the two forces (regulars and volunteers) it is caused by the expense of traveling to and from the place where volunteer service is required, and in some instances by furnishing them a full supply of clothing as a bounty, without regard to the length of service.
Traveling expenses in this case would, as a matter of course, be avoided, but a disbursement of clothing [is] indispensably necessary.
Persons least acquainted with volunteer service, particularly in this section of country, may deem such a disbursement of trivial importance, but such as have a knowledge of the many privations and consequent sickness to which men are liable when in mountain service and poorly clad, will duly appreciate the suggestion.
It is not my purpose to say aught in disparagement of the operations of the officers and others connected with the regular service, whether stationed on this coast or elsewhere. On the contrary, none can entertain a more exalted opinion of the character, ability and zeal of the officers of the army than I do. And if I have said aught, either verbally or in writing, officially or unofficially, now that I can justly appreciate, from an intimate acquaintance with the nature and requirements of the service of this country, from which the inference can be drawn, that they, in any instance, have been found wanting in any of the characteristics of the "American soldier," I acknowledge myself in duty bound solemnly to retract it.
In the present emergency every expedient which can be devised and resorted to, of whatever nature, will be required during the coming season to prevent the wanton murders so often perpetrated upon our citizens by the various tribes of Indians occupying the greater portion of the country adjacent to the north Pacific Coast.
The prosperity of the country requires that a course of policy be adopted by the government that will at once teach the Indians to feel the power of Americans, and to dread their punishment. If the treasury of the country will not warrant it, or the prejudices of legislators will not sanction the measures necessary to carry into effect such a policy, whatever it may be, it should be abandoned, at least for a time, or until the period arrives when the proper feelings and motives actuate those to whom our rights are confided. The adoption of the latter policy, though tinctured strongly with anti-progressive Americanism, would throw the citizens of Oregon and vicinity upon their own resources, the effect of which would be the adoption by her citizens of a mode of warfare inconsistent, perhaps, in some instances, with the articles of war governing nations, yet altogether more effectual. The tactics of armies are but shackles and fetters in the prosecution of an Indian war. "Fire must be fought with fire," and the soldier, to be successful, must, in a great measure, adopt the mode of warfare pursued by the savage.
I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
C. S. DREW,His Excellency George L. Curry,
Quartermaster General O.M.
Governor of Oregon Territory.
----Resolved by the legislative assembly of the Territory of Oregon, That our delegate in Congress be, and he is hereby, requested to use his influence with the Congress of the United States to secure the payment, by the quartermaster or paymaster at Fort Dalles, of the debts incurred in mounting and equipping volunteers engaged in the expedition against the Winnas [Wihinasht?] or Snake Indians, and also for the speedy payment of the volunteers for services rendered in this expedition.
Passed December 11, 1854.
L. F. CARTEE,
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
J. K. KELLY,
President of the Council.
----Relative to the remuneration of Company A and others of the 9th regiment of Oregon militia, for services rendered and supplies furnished to suppress Indian hostilities on the Southern Oregon emigrant trail, 1854.
Resolved by the legislative assembly of the Territory of Oregon, That our delegate in Congress be, and is hereby, requested to urge a speedy appropriation for the payment for supplies furnished and other expenses incurred on account of and for the remuneration of the officers and men of Company "A" and others of the 9th regiment of Oregon militia, called into service in August, 1854, to suppress Indian hostilities on the Southern Oregon emigrant trail by order of his excellency John W. Davis, late governor of Oregon.
Passed January 26, 1855.
L. F. CARTEE,
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
J. K. KELLY,
President of the Council.
To the honorable the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled:Your memorialists, the legislative assembly of the Territory of Oregon, would respectfully represent to your honorable body that an amount of money is justly due and owing to certain citizens of this Territory, for services rendered to the United States in an expedition to punish the Winnas [Wihinasht?] or Snake tribe of Indians for the outrageous and inhuman massacre of the Ward families and other immigrants in the year 1854, which said expedition was conducted by a United States army officer, commanding at Fort Dalles, in this Territory, and that the services were called for by Major G. J. Rains, and were, by his order, conducted for nearly two months in said expedition, when those citizens who entered said service were discharged by him without having received any remuneration whatever.
And your memorialists would further represent that certain other citizens did furnish valuable property for the use and benefit of said expedition, such as horses, saddles, guns &c., and said property was used by, and turned over to, and kept, and still remains in possession of the United States, under control of the proper officers at Fort Dalles, and that said citizens have not yet been paid for either services or property, as above described, and as the commander at that post has refused and still continues to refuse to pay the above-named just demand, therefore we, your petitioners, would respectfully ask your honorable body to provide means and direct the payment of such sums as shall be found justly due, and, in duty bound, will ever pray.
Passed the house January 22, 1856, and the council January 23, 1856.
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
A. P. DENNISON,
President of the Council.
----Your memorialists, the legislative assembly of the Territory of Oregon, respectfully represent that for many years the relation between the white settlers and natives in Oregon have not been of a peaceful character; although treaties have been often made with the Indians here, these treaties have been as often broken. When our people have believed themselves the most secure in their homes and the most free from danger in their migrations, they have been beset and murdered by the stealthy savage, or overwhelmed and slaughtered by the more open and ruthless hordes.
MEMORIAL ASKING CONGRESS TO ASSUME THE EXPENSES OF THE EXISTING INDIAN WAR.
To the honorable the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled:
In Southern Oregon, since the treaty of the 10th September, 1853, outlawed bands of Indians have continually hovered on the borders of the settlements and near unprotected trails and roads, cutting off trains of mules and wagons loaded with the goods of our merchants and the produce of our farmers. From time to time our citizens have found it necessary to muster together and drive these robbers and murderers from the settlements, but only to be followed back ere the dust had settled upon their line of march.
Early in October last nearly all of the young warriors of the tribes heretofore friendly with the whites in that part of our Territory withdrew to the mountains, and, with the collected strength of many scattered tribes, suddenly, without provocation, fell upon the dwellings of the inhabitants and indiscriminately butchered whole families, pillaged and burnt farm houses and granaries, so that for sixty miles south of the Umpqua Mountains, in the midst of the settled portions of our Territory, not a home was spared; the whole was made one blank desolation. From the Rogue River Valley hostilities extended in a rapid succession of untold cruelties and savage barbarities into the Umpqua Valley north and northward to the east. At the same time, on the northern frontiers, five powerful and warlike tribes, numbering no less than four thousand warriors, declared for war.
Although these tribes had, within a few weeks from the opening of hostilities, entered into solemn treaties of peace and land purchase with agents of the United States, and received in part their pay, they killed an Indian agent and defeated and drove the United States troops sent among them to enforce those treaties. They attacked one settlement in the valley of Walla Walla, destroyed the property and menaced the lives of the settlers, who, to the number of more than one hundred and fifty, retreated to the Dalles of the Columbia for safety. In the meantime Indian hostilities became general throughout middle and western Oregon and Washington Territories, and in the northern portion of California.
The forces of the United States on this coast being inadequate to the exigencies of the moment, Major Rains, in command of the Puget's Sound and Columbia River districts, called for volunteer assistance from Oregon and Washington Territories, which call was promptly responded to by both Territories.
The governor of Oregon called out two regiments of mounted volunteers, one to operate in the north and one in the south, amounting to nearly two thousand men. They were promptly mustered into the service of the Territory, and cooperated with the regular forces endeavoring to quell the hostile outbreaks and to restore peace within our borders. They took the field on the eve of winter, in many cases illy clad and wholly without tents. They have crossed mountains covered with snows, traversed plains, penetrated dense forests and deep thickets, seeking and conquering the enemy. They have driven the tribes of the south into the mountain fastnesses, the Yakimas and Klickitats to their winter retreats, the Walla Walla and Snakes from their country, while much of the enemy's field is not yet approached.
The service rendered by our volunteers in dead of winter, while the regular forces have been in garrison, are deemed of the greatest importance to the protection of the country, and their continuance in the field, until relieved by regular troops, will be found necessary, to follow up the successes which they have achieved.
In conducting this war of self-preservation, the people of Oregon have labored under numerous and almost insurmountable embarrassments; nevertheless, every obstacle has been overcome and important victories have crowned the movements of our citizen soldiery everywhere.
Therefore your memorialists most urgently ask Congress to recognize this war as of national importance and provide for its prosecution to a speedy and successful termination, and your memorialists further urge that Congress assume the expenses of the Territory in conducting this war, which has. thus far, been a successful struggle of the citizens of Oregon against the combined forces of nearly all the savage tribes west of the Rocky Mountains, and as in duty bound will ever pray &c.
Passed January 31, 1856.
Speaker of the Souse of Representatives.
A. P. DENNISON,
President of the Council.
----Your memorialists, the legislative assembly of the Territory of Oregon, most respectfully represent to your honorable body that in compliance with an order and instructions issued by his excellency John W. Davis, late governor of Oregon Territory, dated July 17, 1854, and directed to John E. Ross, then acting colonel of the 9th regiment of Oregon militia, to call into service, for the public good, any amount of volunteers he might deem necessary for the protection of the emigrants upon the southern route to the Territory of Oregon, and that in pursuance of said order and instructions, he, the said Ross, issued, in his official capacity, a general order, dated August 3, 1854, calling into service one company of volunteers from the county of Jackson for the above service, and that a volunteer force, chiefly composed of the citizens of Jackson County, immediately responded to the above call and proceeded to the election of their officers; whereupon Jesse Walker was elected captain of said company, and after said company being duly mustered into service by said Ross, proceeded on the 8th day of August, 1854, to the above-mentioned emigrant trail, and your memorialists would further represent to your honorable body that the said company, under the command of the aforesaid captain, Jesse Walker, were in actual service upon the aforesaid route ninety-six days, and that they furnished a great amount of the provisions, forage, horses, clothing and munitions of war necessary for the carrying on of the above expedition, and that they had several battles with the different tribes of Indians, among which were the Modocs and Piutes, rescuing many emigrant trains from the hands of the relentless savage, and killing some thirty or forty of their number. For further particulars in relation to the service rendered the emigrants on the way to our coast, we would refer your honorable body to the correspondence which took place in the year 1854 between his excellency John W. Davis, the then-acting governor of this Territory, and Adjutant C. S. Drew, Colonel John E. Ross and Captain Jesse Walker; all of which have been transmitted to the War Department.
MEMORIAL ASKING CONGRESS TO PAY CERTAIN SOLDIERS AND OTHER PERSONS FOR SERVICES RENDERED AND SUPPLIES FURNISHED IN THE ROGUE RIVER WAR OF 1854.
To the honorable the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled:
Your memorialist would further represent that said company, together with those who furnished means for the use of said company, have not as yet received anything as compensation for their services or for the amount of necessary supplies furnished by them, nor have those who did not belong to, but who furnished means for the use of, said company, received any pay for the same. And your memorialists would also say, that the service of said company was highly necessary, and resulted in the doing of much good, both to the emigrants and the citizens of this coast.
We therefore ask your honorable body that a law be passed granting to the officers and privates who composed said company, and also all those who furnished necessary supplies for the use of said company, such compensation as may be provided by law for similar service performed and like supplies furnished in the year 1855, and as in duty bound will ever pray.
Passed January 31, 1856.
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
A. P. DENNISON,
President of the Council.
----Your memorialists, the legislative assembly of the Territory of Oregon, respectfully represent that the Indians on the northern and southern Oregon emigrant roads have been at various times very hostile for years; that on the 20th of August, 1854, the Weness [Wihinasht?] or Snake Indians committed an outrageous and inhuman massacre of upwards of twenty immigrants at or near Fort Boise, on the northern Oregon emigrant road, and the United States forces at Fort Dalles, in that vicinity, being wholly inadequate to protect the immigrants and punish the offenders, a volunteer force of one company, commanded by Captain Nathan Olney, was called into the service of the United States by Major G. J. Rains, of the United States army, commanding the Columbia and Puget's Sound district, and that said company were in active service of the United States, under orders of Major Rains, for nearly two months, and were honorably discharged by his orders at Fort Dalles.
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in
And your memorialists would further represent that a part of the Shasta, Modoc and Piute Indians, allies of the Snake Indians, who reside on the southern Oregon emigrant road, stole stock, plundered and robbed the first immigration that passed through their country, in 1846; that even at that early day they brutally murdered a sick, weak and helpless immigrant near Lost River, and they have been very hostile to the whites from that day to this; that in the summer of 1852 they barbarously massacred, in the vicinity of this road, thirty-two persons immigrating to Southern Oregon and Northern California, without regard to sex, age and condition--old gray-headed fathers and mothers and their helpless little children all shared the same fate; that in July, 1854, these Indians took a pack train loaded with provisions and supplies for the miners, killed one man on the Siskiyou Mountains, close to the settlements, and soon afterwards three or four horses were stolen by them at the "forks" of the emigrant and Yreka road, within the settlements of Rogue River Valley; that large bodies of these Indians were at this time collecting on the southern Oregon emigrant road, and threatened the immigrants who were then on their way to Southern Oregon and Northern California, and the United States regular forces in that vicinity, stationed at Fort Jones and Fort Lane, being scarcely sufficient to protect the settlements in the immediate vicinity of the forts, company A, commanded by Captain Jesse Walker, of the 9th regiment of Oregon militia, was called into active service by orders of his excellency John W. Davis, governor of Oregon Territory, for the purpose of protecting the immigrants on this route; that this company traversed the plains, drove the Indians from the road, and penetrated the enemy's country along the emigrant road for upwards of five hundred miles, and gave ample protection to the immigrants on the route, so that not a single person was killed during the time Captain Walker and his company remained in the field.
Your memorialists would further represent that various citizens of Oregon furnished supplies, transportation and valuable property, such as saddles, bridles, ammunition, guns &c., for the use and benefit of these two companies; that a portion of said property was turned over to, and still remains in the possession of, the United States, under the control of the proper officer at Fort Dalles; that our citizens have not been paid for either services or property; therefore we, your memorialists, would respectfully ask Congress to make an appropriation to pay the officers and privates belonging to said companies for their services, and other persons for supplies furnished, and for all other expenses necessarily incurred for the use and benefit of said companies while in active service protecting the lives and property of American citizens in 1854.
Passed January 13, 1857.
L. F. GROVER,Territory of Oregon, ss.
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
JAMES K. KELLY,
President of the Council.
I certify that the foregoing is a true and perfect copy of the original joint resolution concerning Captain Olney's company, passed December 11, 1854, and the joint resolution concerning Captain Walker's company, passed January 26, 1855; a memorial of the legislative assembly concerning Captain Olney's company, passed January 23,1856; a memorial concerning Captain Walker's company, passed January 31, 1856; a memorial concerning the war of 1855-'6, passed January 31, 1856, and a memorial concerning Captains Walker and Olney's companies, passed January 13, 1857, now on file in my office.
Given under my hand and the seal of the Territory at Salem, this, the 29th day of September, A.D. 1857.
Salem, O.T., December 14, 1857.Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith the deposition of John W. McCully, D. M. Kenney, W. W. Fowler, Sigismund Ettlinger, Jacob A. Brunner, William Hesse, John Anderson and Benjamin T. Davis, the oldest and most prominent merchants and traders of Jacksonville, Oregon, and also the statements of Hon. A. M. Rosborough, E. Steele, D. R. Calhoon, E. W. Conner and W. T. Kershaw, of Siskiyou County, California, in relation to Indian hostilities and prices of supplies in Southern Oregon.
Mr. Rosborough was formerly special Indian agent for Northern California, and exercised, as he yet does, a great influence over the Indians of that section of country. He is now county judge of Siskiyou County, in that state. E. Steele is of the same place, a lawyer by profession, and the minuteness of his statement shows him to be entirely conversant with the subject of which he writes. D. R. Calhoon is a farmer, of Scott's Valley. E. W. Conner is a stock-grower, of Shasta Valley. W. T. Kershaw has served for a long time as constable of Yreka. These gentlemen are men of strict veracity, sound judgment and well acquainted with Indian character.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
C. S. DREW,His Excellency Geo. L. Corry,
Late Quartermaster General, Oregon Territory.
Governor of Oregon.
----Deposition taken before William Hoffman, a notary public within and for the county of Jackson and Territory of Oregon, at his office in Jacksonville, in said county.
John W. McCully, aged 36 years; Daniel Kenney, aged 35 years; W. W. Fowler, aged 44 years; Sigismund Ettlinger, aged 30 years; Jacob A. Brunner, aged 35 years; William Hesse, aged 37 years; John Anderson, aged 34 years; Benjamin T. Davis, aged 36 years; all merchants or traders, and residents of Jacksonville, Oregon, after being duly sworn, state that Rogue River Valley is situated in Southern Oregon, and Shasta Valley in Northern California; that these valleys are surrounded with rough and rugged mountains, which make them very difficult of access; that these valleys are bounded on the west by the Coast Range of mountains, on the east by the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges; that the Grave Creek Hills, Umpqua and Calapooia mountains separate Rogue River Valley from steamboat navigation on the Willamette River, and Mount Shasta and the Trinity Mountains separate Shasta Valley from steamboat navigation on the Sacramento River, and Shasta and Rogue River valleys are divided by the Siskiyou Mountain, which runs near due east and west, and close to the dividing line between Oregon and California. The principal towns in these valleys are Jacksonville, in Oregon, and Yreka, in California. These towns are noted for their rapid increase in population, the frequent changes and fluctuations in their markets, rich gold mines, frequent Indian wars and high prices, but it will be seen by the following prices that the government has not been asked to pay as high prices to prosecute these wars as individuals have frequently paid in time of peace for the necessaries of life, while pursuing their common avocations. Yreka was settled in 1851, and Jacksonville in 1852.
The price of flour in Yreka, in 1851, varied from sixteen cents to a dollar per pound, and sugar, coffee and salt from forty cents to a dollar and twenty-five cents per pound. Since the settlement of Jacksonville prices have generally been higher in Yreka than in Jacksonville, and for the last five years these affiants have been merchandising or trading in the latter place, and the following are some of the prices which they, or some of them, have, at different times, sold bacon, flour, sugar, coffee and salt, and the price of beef is the price they have paid for their own use.
January 15, 1852, flour 16 cents per lb.; March, flour 20 cents per lb.; April, flour 25 cents per lb.; May, flour 20 cents per lb.; June, flour 20 cents per lb.; July, bacon 70 cents, flour 20 cents, sugar 40 cents per lb.; August, flour 25 cents per lb.; August 29, bacon 70 cents, flour 35 cents, sugar 50 cents, coffee 70 cents, and salt 40 cents per lb.; September 27, bacon 75 cents, flour 31 cents, sugar 30 cents, coffee 60 cents, salt 35 cents, and beef 25 to 30 cents per lb.; October 10, bacon 50 cents, flour 45 cents, sugar 50 cents, coffee 75 cents, salt 50 cents, and beef 30 to 35 cents per lb.; November 16, bacon 50 cents, flour 30 to 35 cents, sugar 40 cents, coffee 40 cents, salt $1.85, beef 25 to 30 cents per lb.; December 20, flour $1.25, salt $4, beef 30 to 35 cents per lb.
January 8, 1853, flour $1.25, sugar $1, coffee $1, salt $3, beef 25 to 30 cents per lb.; February 9, flour 60 cents, sugar 50 cents, coffee 50 cents, beef 25 to 30 cents per lb.; March 12, bacon 40 cents, flour 48 cents, sugar 50 cents, coffee 75 cents, salt 33⅓ cents, beef 25 to 30 cents per lb.; April 12, flour 25 to 30 cents, sugar 38 cents, coffee 40 cents, salt 38 cents, beef 25 to 30 cents per lb.; May 12, bacon 75 cents, flour 23 cents, sugar 38 cents, coffee 45 cents, salt 25 cents, beef 25 to 30 cents per lb.; June 7, bacon 50 cents, flour 18 cents, sugar 33⅓ cents, coffee 50 cents, salt 20 cents, beef 20 to 25 cents per lb.; July 1, bacon 50 cents, flour 16 cents, sugar 25 cents, coffee 35 cents, salt 35 cents, beef 20 to 25 cents per lb.; August 20, bacon 75 cents, flour 35 to 40 cents, sugar 50 cents, coffee 75 cents, salt 40 to 50 cents, beef 20 to 30 cents per lb.; September 10, bacon 75 cents, flour 40 cents, sugar 50 cents, coffee 75 cents, salt 50 cents, beef 25 to 30 cents per lb.; October 10, bacon 75 cents, flour 40 cents, sugar 50 cents, coffee 75 cents, salt 40 cents, beef 20 to 25 cents per lb.; November 7, bacon 50 cents, flour 20 cents, sugar 33⅓ cents, coffee 40 cents, salt 25 cents, beef 20 to 25 cents per lb.; December 3, bacon 50 cents, flour 25 cents, sugar 30 cents, coffee 40 cents, salt 30 cents, beef 20 to 25 cents per lb.
The above prices have been taken from the books and accounts of these affiants, and from them it will be seen that in 1852 and 1853 flour raised in Jacksonville from sixteen cents to one dollar and twenty-five cents per pound; bacon from forty to seventy-five cents per pound; coffee from forty cents to one dollar; sugar from thirty cents to one dollar; salt from thirty-five cents to four dollars, and beef from twenty-five to thirty-five cents per pound.
These affiants are informed and verily believe that during the same time, in Yreka, a distance of sixty miles, flour sold from sixteen cents to two dollars per pound, and coffee and sugar from forty and fifty cents to a dollar and fifty cents and two dollars per pound; salt and tobacco from one dollar to fourteen dollars per pound, and that thousands of persons, during the winter of 1852 and 1853, lived in Jacksonville and Yreka for upwards of six months upon beef straight; that as late as March, 1853, thousands of pounds of flour were sold in Yreka for cash at one dollar per pound.
In 1854 the roads and pack trails were better and the prices lower and more uniform--flour varying from fourteen cents to forty cents per pound; bacon from thirty-five cents to seventy-five cents per pound; sugar from twenty to forty cents per pound; coffee from thirty to seventy-five cents per pound, and salt from fifteen cents to forty cents per pound, and everything else in proportion.
In the latter part of the summer and first of the fall of 1854 the quartermaster general of Oregon was wholly unable to get flour at forty cents, sugar at fifty cents, bacon and coffee at seventy-five cents, enough in Jacksonville to supply Captain Jesse Walker's company of mounted volunteers ninety-six days, while in active service, on the credit of the Territory and the faith of the United States, but was compelled to apply to the merchants of Yreka, California, for the necessary supplies for the use of this company and the indigent immigrants who were then on their way to Southern Oregon and Northern California. We know this of our own knowledge, for we were applied to and urged to furnish the necessary supplies at the above prices. As late as December, 1854, flour sold at sixteen cents per pound at Jacksonville, and as high, at the same time, as twenty and twenty-three cents at Yreka, but in the spring of 1855 it fell to twelve and thirteen cents, and this article has never been above thirteen cents since in this market, and now these affiants are selling an excellent article of flour at five cents per pound, bacon at thirty-five cents, sugar and coffee at thirty-three cents, and salt as low as twelve cents per pound. However, flour has declined more in price than any other article, owing to large and fine crops of wheat being raised in Rogue River, Shasta and Scott's valleys, in the immediate vicinity of, probably, the best gold mines on the Pacific Coast, while sugar, coffee, salt and dry goods are still transported here from San Francisco, California. Since the first settlement of these towns to the present the great body of merchandise which has been sold in Jacksonville and Yreka has been transported on the backs of pack mules, either from the head of steamboat navigation on the Sacramento River, a distance of two hundred and fifty miles, or from the head of steamboat navigation on the Willamette River, a distance of two hundred miles, or across the Coast Range of mountains from Crescent City, a distance of one hundred and twenty miles. Freights upon whole stocks of goods and groceries have frequently been from fifteen to twenty and thirty cents per pound from these places to Jacksonville, and sometimes as high as fifty cents on unhandy articles to pack.
As late as November, 1854, the said Fowler was compelled to pay fifty cents per pound for packing some billiard tables from Crescent City to Jacksonville, a distance of one hundred and twenty miles, and as late as the fall of 1855 many of the merchants of Jacksonville paid upwards of sixteen cents per pound freight on whole cargoes of their goods from San Francisco to Jacksonville, and as late as April, 1856, they paid upwards of thirteen cents, but during the last summer it only cost them from five to six cents. This great change so recently in the price of transportation doubtlessly may be attributed to the removal of the hostile Indians to the Coast Reservation from the immediate vicinity of the roads and pack trails over which the Jacksonville merchandise had to pass. Now there is less danger of Indians, the pack animals are more constantly employed, and more pack animals have come on the route from Lower California, which has caused greater competition between the packers. From the first settlement of Shasta and Rogue River valleys to the time of the removal of the Indians to the coast reservations in 1856, the roads and trails leading to and through these valleys have been considered more or less dangerous, and many transportation animals that would have been employed on these trails, owing to the hostility of the Indians, have been kept employed on other roads and trails where the Indians were considered less dangerous.
These numerous fluctuations and high prices have been caused by a variety of facts and circumstances, such as the hostility of Indians, scarcity of capital, high price of interest, muddy and snowy roads, rough and rugged mountains over which the merchandise had to pass, the scarcity of transportation animals, and the high price of labor. Interest, from the first discovery of gold mines in Shasta Valley to the present time, has been from three to five percent per month; hence the merchants could only buy or sell on very short credits, and the miners have made from nothing to one hundred dollars per day to the hand. Under these circumstances, common laborers, who have no claims, will not work for less than from two to six dollars per day.
Witnesses further state that they are acquainted, from common reputation, with the general character of the Shasta, Modoc and Piute Indians, and know something of the dangers, difficulties, trials and hardships that many of the overland immigrants have to encounter, and the hostilities of these Indians in the summer of 1854, at the time Captain Jesse Walker's company was called into active service, and they believe the company was actually necessary for the safety of the lives and property of the immigrants; that the regular army, stationed in the vicinity of the emigrant road, was small and wholly failed to keep the peace within the settlements between the whites and Indians.
These witnesses have no interest in these claims for supplies &c. furnished to Captain Jesse Walker's company, but make this affidavit, at the request of the claimants, that justice may be done.
J. W. McCULLY,Territory of Oregon, Jackson County, ss.
D. M. KENNEY,
W. W. FOWLER,
J. A. BRUNNER,
JOHN ANDERSON, and
BENJAMIN T. DAVIS.
I, William Hoffman, notary public within and for the said county, do hereby certify that the above and foregoing affidavit was taken before me, and reduced to writing by myself, on the 12th day of November, A.D. 1857, at my office, in Jacksonville, and that the said affidavit was carefully read to said witnesses, and then subscribed and sworn to by them. I further certify that the said affiants are credible persons, and that I have no interest in this claim.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my notarial seal, at Jacksonville, this twelfth day of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty-seven
----I came over the plains the second time in the summer of 1854, and came to Yreka, California, by way of the Southern Oregon and Northern California emigrant route, passing through the country of the Piute, Modoc and Klamath Lake tribes of Indians. I emigrated that year, with my family, from Winchester, Iowa, and came to this place as a captain or foreman of a small train consisting of about fourteen persons, with about sixty head of stock.
Statement of D. R. Calhoon.
We saw no indications of hostile Indians on our trip until we arrived in the vicinity of "Gravelly Ford," on the Humboldt River. Just before arriving at this point large numbers of Indians began to show themselves, armed and painted, and exhibiting other signs of hostile intentions, such as the war dance &c., always resorted to by them in time of war.
From the time we left Fort Hall it was our invariable custom to guard at night, and even with this precaution the Indians succeeded in stealing from me a fine American mare.
Shortly after the Indians had made their first hostile demonstrations, and after we had arrived at the Humboldt, two Indians were discovered by the guard crawling over the bank of the river where we had camped for the night, and were making directly towards our tents. The guard fired upon them, but unfortunately, it being dark, they made their escape, probably unhurt.
From the Humboldt River, across the Sierra Nevada Mountains, to Goose Lake, where it was our good fortune to meet the first detachment of Captain Jesse Walker's company of Oregon mounted volunteers, under command of Lieutenant Westfeldt, we were in constant expectation of an Indian attack. We saw an abundance of Indian "sign" every day, and it was evident that the Indians were collecting together along our route and making for "Bloody Point," between Clear Lake and Lost River, where, in 1852 and at other times, they had killed scores of emigrants and destroyed a large amount of property.
Upon meeting Lieutenant Westfeldt, we were immediately furnished by that officer with an escort to Captain Walker's headquarters, on Clear Lake. Here we stayed overnight, and next morning, with an escort of ten men, under Lieutenant Miller, we proceeded on our journey, passing "Bloody Point" unmolested, and arrived at Lost River just before dark. Here, however, we soon discovered a large body of Indians across the river and immediately opposite our camp. Judging from the number we saw, and other indications, that they were too numerous for our small party to cope with successfully, in case of an attack, which it was evident they were preparing to make, Lieutenant Miller dispatched a messenger to Captain Walker for a reinforcement which arrived at our camp some time before daylight next morning.
On the arrival of additional troops the Indians left the ground they had occupied during the night, and we were left to pursue our journey without further molestation. Our escort remained with us until our arrival at Klamath Lake, where it left and returned, as we were then past all danger from Indians.
It was at Lost River that the party of thirteen men from Yreka, referred to in Captain Walker's report, were attacked a few days before and compelled to retreat, and I have no hesitancy in saying that the timely arrival of Captain Walker and command in the hostile Indian country saved our property from destruction, and no doubt our lives.
In 1852, when the emigration was excessively large, and consequently much better able to protect itself against the Indians than was the emigration of 1854, very many were killed by the Piutes and Modocs along the same part of the route over which we were so fortunate as to receive armed protection.
In 1853 the emigration by this route was much less than that of the previous year, but it was amply protected by the order of General Lane, then commanding in the Rogue River Indian war, and consequently was saved any very material loss. A detachment of United States dragoons were also on duty in 1853, but no United States force was there in 1854.
It is also due to truth to say that many of the emigration of 1854 were wholly destitute of subsistence at the crossing of the Sierra Nevadas, nearly or quite three hundred miles from any settlement, and none had provisions that they could possibly spare. No traders were on the route to furnish the destitute with supplies, and had not aid in this particular been rendered by Captain Walker, much suffering from hunger, and in many instances starvation itself, must have been the result.
From a thorough knowledge of the Indian character, particularly of the region of country alluded to, I do not hesitate to affirm that an armed force is absolutely necessary for the protection of every emigration passing that way.
I furthermore add, that I have no claims nor interest in any claim or claims against the government of the United States, arising from the service of Captain Walker's company thus rendered, nor have I any interest whatever, in a pecuniary point of view, in such service being paid, but I make this statement freely and voluntarily, as an act of justice to those who so generously performed service or furnished necessary supplies on that occasion.
D. R. CALHOON.Subscribed and sworn to before me, this 13th day of November, A.D. 1857.
G. W. PIERSON,State of California, ) ss.
Justice of the Peace.
County of Siskiyou, )
I, F. A. Rogers, clerk of the county court in and for said county and state aforesaid, hereby certify that G. W. Pierson, before whom the foregoing statement was subscribed and sworn to, and whose genuine signature is thereto affixed, was, at the time of signing the same, a justice of the peace in and for the aforesaid county, duly authorized by law to administer oaths and to take the acknowledgment of deeds, and that full faith and credit are due to all his official acts as such.
I further certify that for the past six years I have been personally acquainted with D. R. Calhoon, the person who subscribed the foregoing statement, and know him to be of good moral character, and that full credit should be given to his statement.
Given under my hand and the seal of said court, this thirteenth day of November, A.D. one thousand eight hundred and fifty-seven.
F. A. ROGERS,
Clerk of the County Court of Siskiyou County.
----In the spring of 1854, in company with James Chapel and others, I left Arkansas for my second trip to California across the plains, passing Fort Bridger and Bent's Fort, and coming into Yreka, California, over the southern Oregon immigrant route. There were several other trains that came in company with us as far as the Humboldt River, where the greater portion left, taking the Carson Valley and Truckee routes, leading further south than we desired to go. It was our invariable custom to guard at night, and up to the time of our arrival at the Humboldt we had lost but a few head of stock, and I do not know whether these were taken by the Indians or the Mormons.
Statement of E. W. Conner.
On arriving at the Humboldt, however, we discovered that the Indians became more numerous than we had before seen them, and they began to show signs of open hostility. Here, too, many of the immigration had used the last of their supplies, and were compelled to seek aid from their more provident neighbors. Having been accustomed to traveling in this manner, I had laid in a good supply of provisions at our starting point. I issued all I possibly could spare, keeping only enough to last me to where I anticipated we should meet with friends from the settlements. Mr. Chapel also divided his stock of supplies, taking the chances of again supplying himself on the route. We were shortly afterwards met by the advance detachment of Captain Jesse Walker's company of mounted volunteers, and provided with an escort, of which we were beginning to stand very much in need, and also with a scanty supply of provision, the detachment sharing their own rations with such as were destitute.
At the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, on the east side, we overtook a train of about sixty persons, mostly families, who were out of provisions, and could proceed no further until relieved. Their teams had nearly given out, and none could possibly be spared for subsistence, and they had no other stock. Our escort being on short allowance, Mr. Chapel and myself again divided our supplies, giving sufficient to last them to Captain Walker's headquarters, on Clear Lake, where the train could get further assistance, and where we could be reimbursed in kind for that which we had furnished. I was reimbursed in full for what I issued. Mr. Chapel was not, as he only drew from Captain Walker such an amount as he required to reach the settlements. I also furnished this train with additional teams from my drove, to bring them over the mountain and to Shasta Valley, free of cost.
From the Humboldt River to Klamath Lake, a distance of about four hundred miles, the Indians were constantly on our trail and closely watching our movements, with the evident intention to attack us as soon as a favorable opportunity offered to ensure success. Through the vigilance of Captain Walker, however, who had made such a disposition of his command as to render the greatest possible protection to the entire immigration, by merging as many small trains into one as found convenient, and providing them strong escorts through the hostile country, the Indians were kept completely at bay, and the whole immigration passed through without loss of life, and with only a comparative small loss of stock or other property.
I was one of the party who opened this road from Yreka to Humboldt River in 1852, and I have a personal knowledge of the character of the Indians along this route. The Piutes, on the east, and the Modocs and their immediate allies, on the west side of the Sierra Nevadas, have ever been hostile to the whites since they first saw white man's flesh, and have ever sought, and never lost, an opportunity to commit murders and depredations upon every emigration that has ever passed through that section of country since 1846 up to the present time, 1857. In 1852 many bodies of immigrants were reported to have been found and buried by Captain John E. Ross, afterwards a colonel in the Rogue River Indian war of 1853, and late colonel of the 9th regiment Oregon militia, which rendered service in the Oregon Indian war of 1855-'56; Ben Wright, afterwards Indian agent, Port Orford district, Oregon Territory, and killed by Rogue River Indians in the late Indian war while on duty as agent; Charles McDermit, then sheriff of Siskiyou County, California, and D. D. Colton, afterwards sheriff of Siskiyou County, and at present holding the office of brigadier general, 2nd brigade, 6th division, California militia. And I believe the Indians themselves boasted, in 1854, to Joel Palmer, then superintendent of Indian affairs for Oregon, that they had killed numbers of the immigrations of the previous years.
I am confident that the opportune arrival of Captain Walker and his command in the Klamath Lake country saved many if not all the lives of the immigration of 1854, and saved their entire stock and such other property as they had with them from total destruction. Besides this, had there been no aid given to the emigration in the shape of subsistence, much suffering from hunger, and no doubt starvation itself, must have been the consequence.
From my own personal knowledge of the disposition of these Indians, I freely affirm that a military force is absolutely necessary on this route every summer, or at least whenever an emigration passes over it.
I crossed the plains to California again in 1856, making my third trip, but not knowing, on my arrival at the Humboldt, that Major General Cosby, 6th division California militia, with a suitable command, was on duty in the Klamath Lake and Modoc country, which I afterwards found to be the case, I took the Honey Lake route to Pit River, several hundred miles out of my way, and even then was extremely fortunate in getting through safely.
No United States force whatever was on duty in the Klamath Lake country in 1854.
I further affirm that I have no claim or claims, nor any interest in any claim or claims, growing out of or arising from the service of Captain Walker's company as aforesaid, nor do I expect to be benefited in any manner whatsoever by such service being recognized and paid by the United States, but I make this statement freely and voluntarily, in the hope that simple justice may be rendered to those who performed such service or who furnished the necessary supplies.
I would further add that, in my judgment, the necessity for the service rendered by Major General Cosby in 1856 on the southern Oregon emigrant road was as great as it was in 1854, or as was the service under Captain Walker.
E. W. CONNER.Sworn and subscribed to before me, at my office, in Yreka City, California, this 18th day of November, A.D. 1857.
GEORGE W. PIERSON,State of California, ) ss.
Justice of the Peace.
County of Siskiyou, )
I, F. A. Rogers, clerk of the district court in and for said county and state aforesaid, hereby certify that G. W. Pierson, before whom the foregoing statement was subscribed and sworn to, and whose genuine signature is thereto affixed, was, at the time of signing the same, a justice of the peace in and for the aforesaid county, duly authorized by law to administer oaths and to take acknowledgments of deeds, and that full faith and credit are due to all his official acts.
I further certify that I am personally acquainted with E. W. Conner, who subscribed the foregoing statement, and know him to be a truthful and reliable man.
Given under my hand, and the seal of said court, this the 18th day of November, A.D. 1857.
F. A. ROGERS, Clerk.
----My knowledge of the character and disposition of the Modoc Indians dates back to the autumn of 1851, when, with Captain Ben Wright and other citizens of Yreka (then called Shasta Butte City), I went into the Klamath Lake or Modoc country, in pursuit of some two hundred head of stock which had been driven off from Shasta Valley by the Modoc Indians.
Statement of W. T. Kershaw.
We went as far as Lost River, one hundred miles from Yreka, and succeeded in getting only about thirty-four head; the balance the Indians had either killed or got them off the trail, where we could not track them. Our party had several skirmishes with the Indians as we passed along our route, killing about thirty of their number. Two of our company were severely wounded, but finally recovered.
In August, A.D. 1852, immediately after the first train of emigrants had arrived at Yreka, over nearly the same route we had traveled after the stock the year previous, a man came into Yreka from the country of the Modocs, stating that the Indians there were very hostile, and that he was the only one out of a party of eight or nine who had packed across the plains that had escaped the Indians, and that he saved himself only by cutting the pack from one of his horses, mounting him without saddle or equipments, and charging through the Indian forces. This occurred at a place called "Bloody Point," on the east side of Tule Lake, and in the immediate neighborhood of Lost River.
Immediately upon the reception of these tidings at Yreka, Captain Ben Wright, since murdered by Indians near the mouth of Rogue River, enrolled a company of volunteers, of which I was chosen first lieutenant. We left Yreka on the 29th day of August, and, making forced marches, soon arrived in the heart of the hostile country.
On our arrival at Tule Lake we met a train of sixteen wagons and somewhere between forty and sixty persons. This party had been attacked by the Indians, and had fought them for several hours near the place where the party of packers were killed, of which we had heard the news at Yreka. The Indians had them completely surrounded, leaving no possible chance for escape.
As soon, however, as our company had got within about a quarter of a mile from where they were then fighting, the Indians withdrew into the lake, which is shallow, full of small islands, its borders and islands thickly covered with tule, affording secure hiding places for them, either when lying in ambush or when pursued.
Captain Wright, seeing the Indians taking to their canoes and pushing out into the lake, ordered a charge, which order was promptly executed. We fought them for about three hours, when, night coming on, we retired. Many of us fought in water to our armpits. In this engagement we must have killed as many as thirty or thirty-five of the enemy. The Indians themselves say we killed twenty. Our company sustained no loss whatever.
On our way to where the train was attacked, and where it still remained, we found the body of a man in the tule, which had evidently been there several days. The coyotes and birds had torn off much of the flesh. We gave it as decent a burial as was in our power to do, and then proceeded on to the train. Here we found the emigrants nearly exhausted from the effects of their recent engagement, and that they could not possibly have held out much longer, as they had but few guns, and were withal becoming short of ammunition. A man by the name of Freeman Hathorne was severely wounded. I believe there was but one woman with the train. We camped at this place overnight, and next morning found the bodies, as we supposed, of the first party of emigrants killed, and also the bodies of Coats, Orvenby [Ornsby/Ormsby], and Long, who had left Yreka about three weeks before to meet some friends whom they expected to arrive by this route. With these bodies there was also the body of a packer, who had been dispatched to the settlements to procure supplies for a train that were becoming destitute.
During this and the next day we found and buried twenty-one bodies, making, with the one found in the tule the day previous, twenty-two. We also found various articles of women and children's clothing &c., indicating that entire families had been massacred. We found the body of but one female, however, but we were all of the opinion that more had been killed or taken captives. In one of the Indian rancherias we found the hair from a woman's head, shorn close. A detachment of our company saw an immigrant wagon belonging to some of the murdered party some distance off the road. I saw the tracks of two wagons going in opposite directions, one to the northward and the other to the south, towards the country of the Pit River Indians.
Our company remained in the hostile country about three months, traversing the road between Klamath and Clear lakes, furnishing each train with a sufficient escort over the most dangerous part of the road until all had passed through safely. We saw the Indians daily watching our movements, but they generally kept a respectful distance from the road, and I am glad to say did not get another opportunity to slake their thirst with the blood of any of that portion of the emigration that passed through their country during our term of service.
We had only light and occasional skirmishes with the Indians after we relieved the train at "Bloody Point," until the morning we left the Indian country for home, when we had a smart engagement, in which we killed about forty of them, impressing upon the minds of the balance, no doubt, the opinion that we had avenged the wrongs their tribes had committed towards the whites, at least during that season. In this affair we had two men, Poland and Saubanch, severely wounded.
We returned to Yreka, bringing our wounded on litters, rudely constructed, and were there discharged on the 29th day of November, having been in active service just three months. The state of California has long since recognized and provided for this service, so that I have no claim whatever on this score, nor have I any claim or claims, or interest in any claim or claims growing out of any volunteer service subsequently rendered, either in Northern California or Southern Oregon, or on any of the immigrant routes leading to this coast.
I served in the Rogue River war of 1853, but that service has been paid by the United States.
From my own personal knowledge of the treacherous character of the Modoc and other Indians in their vicinity, and their hostile disposition towards the whites, I freely affirm that a military force has been actually necessary in their region of country for the protection of life and property whenever an immigration from the eastward has passed through it. There is at the present time, I believe, a sort of pledge of honor given by the Modocs that they will neither kill nor molest any more whites, but unless they are carefully and judiciously dealt with, and a competent agent sent among them and located there who can command their confidence and respect, I can have no faith that a peaceful relationship between them and the whites can long exist.
What is true, too, of the Modocs, in this respect is also true of the Pit Rivers and the Piutes.
I make this statement at the solicitation of parties who hold just claims growing out of the service rendered under Captain Jesse Walker, of the Oregon volunteers in 1854, on the southern Oregon immigrant road.
W. T. KERSHAW.State of California, ) ss.
County of Siskiyou, )
Be it remembered, that on this twenty-first day of November, A.D., one thousand eight hundred and fifty-seven, personally appeared before me, the undersigned, William T. Kershaw, to me personally known to be the person who subscribed the foregoing statement, and to me known to be the person he therein represents himself to be, and made oath that such "statement" is true, according to his best knowledge and understanding. I further certify that I have had a personal acquaintance with the said W. T. Kershaw for several years, and believe him to be a reliable and credible person.
In testimony whereof, I have hereto subscribed my name officially, and impressed the seal of the county court of the county aforesaid, at my office, in Yreka City, the day and year first above written.
F. A. ROGERS,
Clerk County Court, Siskiyou County, California.
Hermitage, Scott's Valley, November 23, 1857.Dear Sir: In answer to your questions regarding my knowledge and recollection of the history and settlement of Northern California and Southern Oregon, and particularly the relations existing between the settlers and Indians occupying the country, I cheerfully give you a history of events as they have transpired under my personal observation, prefacing my history with that of miners with whom I have become acquainted on my arrival here, and who had preceded me some ten months, and who were the first white men that had made a settlement in this section of country. From them I learned that prospecting parties, of which they were members, set out in the spring of 1850 in search of gold on the Upper Klamath and its tributaries, and that the placers of Scott's Bar, on Scott's River, were discovered in the month of June of that year by one Mr. Dollarhide and his party, but that the Indians were very troublesome and the diggings heavy, and, as they supposed the mines limited, they soon left. The river was then called Beaver Creek. Soon after another party, under one Scott, hearing of their success, came upon the river for further explorations, found the placers extensive, and circulated the report of their success to induce the influx of miners sufficient to afford protection against the Indians, whom, as did their predecessors, they found to be very troublesome, both in stealing stock in the daytime and attacking camp by night.
Up to February, 1851, after my arrival in California, I was a resident near Shasta, in Shasta County, in this state. Whilst there, in the fall of 1850, I made the acquaintance of General Joseph Lane, now delegate in Congress from Oregon. General Lane, being quite a favorite with our frontier men, was early informed of the prospects of Scott's River and vicinity, and as early in the season of 1851 (and I think February) as the weather would permit, set out for the new diggings, and invited me to accompany him, which I did. We arrived on Scott's River in the last of February of that year. Upon our arrival on the upper waters of Scott's River, the Indians, who had heard of General Lane through the Oregon Indians, learning that the general was leader of the company, came into camp and expressed a wish that all hostilities between them and the whites should cease, and that General Lane should be "tyee," or chief, over both parties. Up to this time during our journey, which had been protracted to eighteen days, we had been under the necessity of standing guard, both over animals and camp, day and night. This proposition of the Indians was a great relief to us. Among the Indians who came in at that time were the chief of the Scott's River Indians (calling themselves Ot-te-tie-was), whom we christened John, and his three brothers. Tolo, now called "Old Man," chief of the band inhabiting that part of the country upon which Yreka is now located, and the chief of the Cañon Indians, as they are called, inhabiting the cañon and mountains on the lower part of Scott's River, including the bar. He is now called "Charley," and has not been in any way implicated in any of the difficulties since that time, though previous thereto he was the most formidable enemy that the whites had to encounter.
In March of that year diggings were struck on what is now called the Yreka flats, and on Greenhorn. In company with General Lane I then moved from Scott's River to those diggings, where a little town was established, called Shasta Butte City. The news of the new discovery was soon spread by the traders, and the exceeding richness of the district caused a heavy and sudden influx of miners, who, excited by the prospect of suddenly realizing their fondest anticipations of wealth and competency, would turn out their horses and mules on the Shasta plains, and pay no further heed to them until they had either realized their anticipations or had met with disappointment from not "striking it," and were again in want of them, either to start for their far distant homes, or in search of other, and to them, more lucky diggings.
The Indians now called the Shastas were then quite numerous, including the band occupying the Yreka flats, under the chief Tolo, and those inhabiting the valley of the Shasta River and the contiguous mountains, under the chief "Bill," and another called "Scarface" (the latter so denominated from a deep scar on his cheek, caused by a cut received at the time he killed the chief of the band and usurped his authority).
These Indians were all congregated on what is called Yreka flats when we moved over, and received us in a very friendly manner. They, with those of Scott's River and Rogue River, all talk the same language, and were formerly under the control of one chief, but each of these bands being under the control of a subordinate chief. This head chief, who was the father of "John," of Scott's Valley, had been killed accidentally a few years previous, and "John" being young, a strife for the supremacy had been carried on for some time by "Sam" and "Joe," of Rogue River, and "Scarface," of Shasta, and "John," of Scott's Valley, old Tolo remaining neutral in the contest. The whites coming in among them, their difficulties ceased, and each chief took supreme control of his separate band. At this time they had no stock among them, and knew nothing of the use of horses and mules except for food, except what they had seen of their use when white people had passed through their country in transit from Oregon to California, or when the Modocs (a word signifying with them strange Indians) came in among them in war parties.
The Indians were naked and lived an indolent life, game, fish and roots, upon which they subsisted, being then very abundant and easily obtained. As a consequence of the inattention of the miners to their horses and mules, they frequently strayed off a long distance, and when wanted could not be found by their owners, and but for the influence of General Lane much irritation and difficulty would have grown out of that source, which would have involved us in a fatal Indian war. General Lane commanded the respect of the whites and had won the confidence and affection of the Indians, and at a word from him old Tolo would send out his young men to look up any lost animals desired, upon bringing the which in and delivery to him, he would award to the Indians a shirt, pair of pants, or drawers, or some little trinket, according to the value of the animal and the trouble in finding. This duty, which by common consent was awarded to him, was a heavy draw upon both his time and his means, but was performed with a cheerfulness which has endeared him to all the old settlers here. Many times the owner of the animal had nothing with which to reimburse the general, and his horse was his only means of exit, in which cases he never allowed the owner to go out on foot, but bid him take his animal and ride.
After the General left for his home in Oregon, the Indians, from having seen me frequently in his company and at his tent, came to me with their troubles, and I had to take his place with them, they styling me for sometime "Tyee," Jo Lane's codawa, meaning General Lane's brother. Everything passed off in this friendly way until the summer of 1852, and our citizens were safe in passing singly anywhere in the mountains. But in the June of that year, whilst I was absent to Sacramento City on business, Calvin Woodman was killed by an Indian on what is now termed Indian Creek, a small stream emptying into Scott's River through the valley from the north. About four days after this murder I arrived in the valley, and in passing down the valley I met some of the Indians moving their squaws and children into the mountains towards Salmon River, and from them I learned that Woodman had been killed; that the white men were in arms at Johnson's ranch at the lower end of the valley; that there had been a fight the day before, and they were making preparations for a general war, and although I was traveling alone they did not offer to molest me. I then proceeded to Johnson's ranch, where the information was confirmed, and also that Mr. S. G. Whipple, then acting sheriff of this county, was seriously wounded, and a few horses killed. That night a large number of citizens came out from Scott's bar, under Major Rowe as captain, having heard of the skirmish at Johnson's, and proceeded to Yreka (late Shasta Butte City, but now Y-e-ka, intending the Indian name of Shasta Butte, Y-re-ka, and which had acquired considerable importance as a mining town), in search of the hostile Indians. The next day most of them returned to Scott's Bar. I went that day to Scott's Bar and back, a distance of ten miles, over a high mountain, alone, and was not molested by the Indians. This was on Sunday. On Monday I held a talk with the Indians, at the request of Mr. Johnson, who had a wife and children there, and was under much anxiety about the state of affairs. Old Tolo was over in Scott's Valley on a gambling visit. I induced him and his son, chief John, and his three brothers, into the fort which had been erected around Johnson's house. They informed me that the murder had been committed by an Indian from Rogue River, in company with one from Shasta Valley; that they did not desire war, but if I would go with them they would deliver up the guilty parties if found in the camp of the Shastas, and if not, that they would follow them as long as I would go with them. I asked for a small company of five or six men from the citizens there, and obtained six, namely, John McLeod, James Bruce (now Major Bruce, of the Oregon militia), James White, Peter Snellback, John Galvin and a young man called Harry. With them and old Tolo and his son, whom we christened Philip, and one of John's brothers, whom we called Jim, we started for the cañon on Shasta River.
On arriving at Yreka we found the people under a great excitement on account of the Indians having moved up into the mountains, and learning that I had brought some into town, a public meeting was called in the evening for the purpose of taking them away from me and hanging them. I addressed the meeting, explained my proceedings so far, and my intentions for the future, when quiet was restored. Judge William A. Robertson, the first judge of the county, proverbial for his sympathy for the Indian, and his associates, Judges James Strawbridge and Patterson, on the morning of the next day officially authorized me to obtain and deliver up the murderers, and agreed to pay the costs out of the county treasury, supposing I would have to go only to Shasta Cañon (a further distance of two miles) to obtain them. Here I was joined by J. D. Cook, Esq., Dr. L. S. Thompson, Mr. F. W. Merritt, and Ben Wright, the last named being employed as an interpreter, he talking the Indian language well. The Indians having fled to the mountains we were two days in hunting them up and getting them together, when we learned that the two we were in pursuit of had fled to Rogue River to join Tipsu Tyee (in English, the chief with the beard), inhabiting the Siskiyou Mountains and Upper Rogue River, and old Sam, the chief of the Rogue Rivers, whom they said were in arms, and intending to kill the whites, if a Doctor Ambrose would not give his little daughter to Sam's son for a wife. Here old Tolo and his son and Jim proposed to substitute two others in their stead--young, active warriors, who were better acquainted with the country, and who proffered to go and either obtain and deliver up the murderers or suffer their punishment. I then, in company with Esquire Cook, returned to Yreka and consulted with Judge Strawbridge, the other judges having left, one for Scott's Valley, and the other for Scott's Bar. Judge Strawbridge (who now resides in New Orleans, his former residence, and a lawyer by profession) advised pursuit, and it according with my own opinion, I set out--Esquire Cook not returning with me, business preventing.
Upon arriving at camp, I learned from the Indians that, from further information gathered among them, that the fugitives were undetermined, when they left, as to whether it would be best for them to flee to the Upper Klamath or to Rogue River. The Indians proffered to raise a band of their own men to go out to the lake with Ben Wright, and I to go to Rogue River with my company, now numbering, myself included, nine white men, two Shasta Indians, and one Klickitat, called Bill, who had come into the country with General Lane. We adopted this course: traveled much in the night through unfrequented paths, as led by the young Indians, whom we christened "Tom" and "Jack." In crossing the Siskiyou Mountains we met a Rogue River Indian with his bow strung and arrow set, and three more in his teeth for immediate use, his quiver well filled, and surrounded him before he discovered us. Our guides talked with him a short time, and then informed me that the Indians we were after had gone to Sam's band, and that this Indian was going over to induce their people and the Scott Rivers to join Tipsu and Sam against the whites. I then ordered Mr. Galvin to take his bow and arrows away from him, and told the Indians to explain to him the state of affairs, which they did, and that he must go back with us to the Indian agent of Rogue River Valley, Judge Skinner. On attempting to disarm him, he resisted, and snatching Mr. Galvin's pistol (a six-shooting Colt's revolver of large size), commenced firing at us in quick succession, doing, however, no material damage, grazing my horse with one ball only. He then broke loose from Mr. Galvin, and fled up the mountain. I ordered pursuit, but finding he could climb the mountain faster than our horses, I ordered Indian "Bill" to dismount and pursue him on foot, and if he could not overtake him and detain him until the rest should come up, to shoot him. He pursued about half a mile, when, the Indian being likely to get away, Bill killed him.
After passing the summit of the mountain we fell in with Tipsu Tyee's son, who was out reconnoitering, and took him prisoner. Upon descending into Rogue River Valley we were met by Doctor Con Hillman and another gentleman, who informed us that the Indians of Sam's and Joe's tribes were gathered in arms near Table Rock, on Big Bar, on Rogue River, in large numbers, and that the citizens, under Captain Lamerick, were under arms on the opposite side of the river, and wished us to hasten on to render them help. The cause of the trouble was as reported by the Indian messenger. Dr. Hillman and companion proceeded to Yreka for ammunition. We immediately, by a forced march, proceeded to the place designated, where we arrived about sundown, taking on our way another prisoner, who was well mounted and fully armed with revolver and gun.
About a mile from the bar we met the Indian agent, Judge A. A. Skinner, who informed us that matters looked desperate, and asked us to go down to the bar and camp, and to keep a good lookout till morning, when he would join us. We made known to him our business, and asked him, in case of an arrangement, to add to the terms a delivery of the fugitives, which he promised to do. On the following morning he came to the bar, when we had some further consultation. After a short time, by sending our young Indian, Tom, across the river, we induced Sam and some of his warriors to come over and hold a talk. Tom then saw and talked with the Indians we were in pursuit of. After Sam and Joe, and a few others, had been with us a short time, others commenced coming over, all armed, and many with guns and revolvers, until there were between one and two hundred mixed around among our men.
Sam seeing our prisoners, demanded that they should be set free as a preliminary step. Judge Skinner ordered me to restore them their guns and pistols, and let them go, which I declined doing unless Sam would bring over and deliver up, as an exchange, the Indians we were after, which he refused to do. Judge Skinner then made a peremptory order for me to deliver up and set them free, with notice that I was within his jurisdiction. I refused; told him that the Indians I was in pursuit of were there, and that I was determined to hold these until I obtained the others. Judge Skinner then went up to the Indians and told them to go; that he was chief of the whites, and that they might go. I told him in their language they must not go, and told them if they moved a foot I would shoot them. Judge Skinner threatened my arrest, and to send me to Oregon City for trial, unless I let them go; yet I refused, unless upon a compliance with my terms--to deliver up the refugees. I then placed the prisoners under charge of two of my men, with instructions, that if any attempt was made to rescue them, or raise a disturbance with a view of giving them an opportunity to escape, and they should break away, to shoot them, but if they remained quiet, not to injure them, or allow them to be injured, and told the Indians what my orders were. I then told the other six of my men to place themselves at proper distances from each other, and by trees, so that each should be a guard to the other, and prevent the Indians from getting in their rear and surprising us. I then, with the Indians, Tom, Jack, and Bill, took my place in the council with Sam, Joe and other Indians. Sam then informed Judge Skinner that before he would talk the white men must go and stack their arms at some fifty paces back, indicating the place. Judge Skinner immediately, and without any consultations, ordered the whites so to do. Captain Lamerick, being under his jurisdiction, felt under obligations, and did cause his men to comply with the order. I refused and remonstrated, that unless the Indians should do likewise with their guns (they being as fully armed as we were), we would all be massacred without being able to make a show of defense. Judge Skinner refused to require them to stack their guns. We then commenced the talk--my company and the Indians retaining their arms.
Sam refused to give up the refugees, but finally proposed to cross the river and talk with the Indians over there, and would soon return. After crossing the river he halloed back that he should not return, but defied us. I then ordered my men to keep themselves ready for immediate action. Captain Lamerick ordered his men to resume their arms, and divide off--half to go below a half a mile to a ford, under his lieutenant, and the residue to go with him about the same distance above to another ford, and both to cross the river as soon as any difficulty should occur where we were. Judge Skinner asked time to go over and make one more effort at pacification; which we consented to. He went, and was absent about half an hour, when the Indians that were on our side of the river commenced crossing, one by one, and in a short time there were but about fifty of them left with us. I then placed a guard of two men, McLeod and Galvin, and ordered them to allow no one to pass until Judge Skinner should return, and sent the Indian boy Tom over after him, who soon returned, accompanied by the judge. Judge Skinner refused to allow Tom to point out the murderers.
Whilst I was urging Judge Skinner to use his influence to deliver up the Indians, and offering to deliver up my prisoners and leave for our homes, the Indian Jack observed two Indians going over the hills at a distance, escaping towards the Upper Klamath Lake, and presently another, who proved to be Scarface. The others he identified as the ones we were in pursuit of. The Indians on our side commenced hiding themselves behind trees, and making evident demonstrations of a disposition to commence a fight. In this move I ordered my men to intercept them, as we had the advantage of the timber. Mr. Angel then interfered, and the Indians that were on our side of the river (all their chiefs having gone over to the other side) agreed to deliver up their arms to him and go into a log house, and remain prisoners until they should send for and bring back the Indians we were in pursuit of. This was agreed to, and Mr. Angel undertook to get them into the house, but as soon as they got past us they ran away from him, and commenced hiding behind large pine trees. If they had succeeded in getting shelter we should have been exposed to their fire without any chance for shelter. I then ordered my men to fire upon them, which they did, and the firing immediately became general. We killed thirteen, and followed the others to the water's edge, where, discovering that Lamerick's men had not crossed, and the Indians on the other side, sheltered by the underwood, were pouring in a rapid fire upon us, I ordered a halt, and soon discovered Lamerick and his men marching up the valley towards the settlements to prevent the Indians from making an attack upon the families who were unprotected. In this engagement the Indian boy Jack killed three of the enemy. I immediately ran to the place where I had left the prisoners, and learned from the guard that the Indians made a rush to release them, when one was killed after running about fifty paces, and one of the guard was then shooting at the other in the river. I shot him with my revolver as he came out on the opposite bank.
The Indians on the opposite bank discovering that there were but few of us left, made a movement to surround us, and to do so, threw a body of warriors into a chaparral bush or thicket, through which we would have to pass. In this they were surprised by a Mr. J. Lackey, who was hastening down to render assistance, and met and killed the foremost, which so disconcerted them that they immediately retreated and left our road clear. That evening, news was brought up Rogue River that during our council a party of Indians had passed some distance down the river, and surprised and killed a company of miners. We then arranged that during the following night Captain Lamerick should cross the river and take possession of the western side of Table Rock, and then pass between it and the river, and that I should move up the river with my company about twenty-five or thirty miles, and in the morning to commence scouring the underwood along the river, and drive the Indians down to Lamerick's company, which was done, and before night we had them all surrounded. They then called for quarter, and wanted to make peace. Judge Skinner was sent for, find a peace was concluded with Sam's tribe, which was adhered to by them the residue of that season. Tipsu Tyee remained out in the mountains and continued the warfare. He had killed several travelers whilst we were at Big Bar, the Siskiyou Mountains being his field of action.
After a treaty was concluded, Sam told us that if the Shasta and Scott's Rivers tribes had broke out, as he had sent to them to do, so that the people of Rogue River could not get help from the whites there, he would not have had a good talk, but that he would have killed all of the men and kept the women and horses for themselves. We then asked him by whom he sent, and his answer proved it to be the one we had killed. Sam said he had held the talk on Big Bar only to give him an opportunity to arrange an outbreak with those Indians, so that they could kill off all the white population in this part of the country, and that the Indians in the Klamath Lake country had agreed to kill off all that might come in that way; that they did not intend to let any more whites come into their country.
After the close of the treaty we returned to Yreka and found Ben Wright there. He, with his Indians, had met the refugees on the Klamath, as they were escaping from us, and had brought them into town.
In the meantime the citizens of Yreka had obtained traces of Scarface and learned what he was up to, and intercepting him as he was passing towards Salmon River, took him prisoner and hung him. There being no legal tribunal to try a charge of murder, we took the two prisoners over to Scott's Valley, at the mouth of Indian Creek, gathered the Scott's Valley and Shasta Indians together, and then had a citizens' meeting. It appearing from the confessions of both that only one was guilty, the other trying to dissuade him from the act, the guilty one was hung and the other set at liberty. The Indians were satisfied and peace restored.
A few days afterwards news was brought in that the Klamath Lake Indians had attacked a train of emigrants and murdered men, women and children. Captain McDermit raised a company and went out to protect others coming in, and after a fall campaign succeeded in passing the residue of the immigrants, but lost some of his men. My expenses on the trip were over twenty-two hundred dollars, which has never been reimbursed from any source.
In 1853 a new outbreak occurred, originating in the bad conduct of a Mexican who was living with the Indians. The Indians retaliated upon the citizens by murdering them before they heard of the aggression, and the citizens of the valley were drawn into a war upon short notice. This war has been recognized by Congress and the history generally understood. The Shasta Indians from that time continued, with the exception of a few that adhered to Tolo, to be troublesome, living in the mountains, stealing stock and murdering travelers whenever opportunity presented. The Scott's River Indians, and Tolo with a few of his Indians, remained in Scott's Valley and were generally peaceable.
In 1854 the Scott's Valley Indians informed the whites that the Modocs intended to murder all of the immigration that season and steal their stock, and that they were desirous of a council, and unite all the Indians together in these aggressions. A meeting was appointed in Klamath, and they attended as advised to do by Judge A. M. Rosborough, then Indian agent, and after hearing their proposition broke up the council and came in and reported to the agent. Like information was conveyed by friendly Indians to the citizens of Rogue River, and there being many who expected friends in that way that season, the panic spread, and Governor Davis was petitioned for an order to raise volunteers to send out to their assistance, which was granted and a company of volunteers raised, furnished and sent out into the Modoc country to preserve peace.
At the time of raising the company I was informed that the duty devolving upon you of obtaining supplies without money was very arduous, and that the hesitancy with which the traders advanced the necessary outfit at the price offered, came near rendering the expedition a failure; that your untiring and unceasing efforts and the urgent necessity of the case finally induced the outfit. Shortly after it became necessary to send out further supplies, inasmuch as many of the immigrants were destitute and had to be subsisted, thereby making the consumption greater than contemplated, and many of the weak trains were yet behind on their way in, and to withdraw the troops would have been certain death to them. The people of Rogue River had stood as much tax as they could; application was then made to the traders of Yreka and Scott's Valley for assistance. We met you at Yreka, and after several days consultation we very reluctantly agreed to furnish you, which we did. The price offered was no inducement, as it would not pay first cost and the lowest usual rates of interest to the earliest possible day of recognition and payment. Government had been so backward in the settlement of these war claims, as also in the protection against the Indian aggressions, and the constant demands upon us for means which could not with safety to the community be refused had taxed our energies to the utmost, and in fact many men in good business standing had been entirely ruined by these drains, even at the prices allowed, which prices, in a country where everything is abundant and easily obtained, seem enormous.
I am fully satisfied, from my knowledge at the time, from information afterwards from those that came through that year, that had it not been for this timely aid and protection many lives and much property would have been sacrificed to the savages during that fall; that the immigrants owe to your exertions and interest their lives and property.
During my acquaintance with the affairs of this country I have noticed that as soon as warm weather sets in many of the young warriors of the different tribes would disappear, and upon inquiry of the old men would receive information that they were sick or dead, but cold weather would invariably bring most of them back again; that soon after their disappearance in the spring horses and cattle would disappear from time to time, and the Indians that remained in sight would commence accumulating property quite fast, which they would represent as having been stolen from the Modocs. I have no doubt but that they have a regularly organized system of stealing from citizens and exchanging with the Modocs.
The government having appointed Judge A. M. Rosborough an agent for this part of the state, and he having made himself acquainted with the Indians, their character and habits, and having acquired a supremacy over those within reach of his influence from the year 1854 to the present time, I have paid but little attention to the Indians or their affairs. The duty required of me, by both whites and Indians, previous to his arrival, in maintaining peace and keeping advised of the movements and intentions of the Indians being both expensive and troublesome, I was happy to throw off the honor attaching to the position. During the time of Judge Rosborough's administration those Indians within his jurisdiction were well restrained, and his duty promptly attended to. I have no doubt but that the judge would cheerfully convey to you much valuable information touching the matters of your inquiry.
I remain yours, very respectfully,
E. STEELE.Gen. C. S. Drew.
Yreka, November 23, 1857.Dear Sir: Elijah Steele, Esq., has conveyed to me your request to state any facts within my knowledge tending to show a combined movement of the Indians of this region of the Pacific coast, towards a general outbreak against the whites in the year 1854.
I was special Indian agent for Northern California at that time, having been appointed by Lieutenant Beale, superintendent of Indian affairs, and continued by Colonel Henley (the present superintendent of Indian affairs for the state of California) until 1855.
In June, 1854, I was informed by several chiefs of the Scott's and Shasta valley tribes that runners had been sent to their tribes to summon them to a general war council, to be held at a point on the Klamath called Horse Creek. I consulted with Lieutenant J. C. Bonnycastle, United States army, then stationed at Fort Jones. He and myself concurred in the propriety of advising the chiefs who had reported the movement to attend the war council and report to us the whole proceedings.
The chiefs returned from the council and reported the tribes of Illinois River, Rogue River and the Upper Klamath River and their tributaries represented in the council, and all but themselves (the chiefs that had reported the movement to me) were for combining and commencing in concert an indiscriminate slaughter of the whites. They reported that they were first importuned to join in the attack, and when they refused again and again they were threatened by the other tribes with extermination; upon which they withdrew, and the council broke up in a row.
The Scott's and Shasta valley tribes remained friendly, while the Illinois, Rogue and Upper Klamath River tribes commenced depredations and continued (at least a portion of them) until the latter part of the spring of 1856. I am not certain of the date at which hostilities ceased. However, you know more about what transpired on Rogue River and Illinois River, in Oregon, than I do, as it is out of my jurisdiction as Indian agent.
The Upper Klamath or Klamath Lake Indians (with the exception of the tribe of which Lalakes is chief) commenced their depredations by killing whites and stealing stock, and a report was current among the friendly Indians, that those hostile intended to destroy the emigrants as fast as they came from the valley of the Humboldt.
The first I heard that there was a company of troops from Oregon out in the Klamath Lake country, on the emigrant road between this place and the Humboldt River, was a report brought me of the fact by the friendly chief, Lalakes, before mentioned.
Lalakes informed me that the hostile Modoc chiefs were willing to cease hostilities, and wished to make a treaty of friendship. He said that the Modocs were willing to pledge themselves to cease their attack upon the emigrants, if the company from Oregon would make a treaty with them. I wrote a few lines by Lalakes to the commander of the Oregon company, stating the proposition the hostile chiefs had made through Lalakes. I am not acquainted with the captain of the Oregon company, but Lalakes informed me that his name was Walker, and I so addressed him. Whether he got my letter or not I have never learned.
I told Lalakes to inform the hostile Indians to keep away from the emigrant road, and let the emigrants and their stock alone, and if they would do so, it would be some evidence of their sincerity in desiring peace.
I also wrote to the superintendent of Indian affairs, informing him of the desire of the Indians to make a treaty. He replied to me that he had no power to make a treaty, that his authority was limited to removing Indians upon reservations, and subsisting them there until they could help to provide for themselves.
In the winter of 1854, my duties called me to the vicinity of the mouth of the Klamath River, one hundred and fifty miles west of this, where the large tribes had commenced hostilities by killing seven or eight whites; where I was detained about three months before the difficulty was completely settled. For this period I cannot speak, of my own knowledge, as to what occurred on Rogue River or the Upper Klamath. You can get information as to what transpired from those in the vicinity during that period. I believe I have answered as to events you inquire about during 1854.
A. M. ROSBOROUGH.C. S. Drew, Esq.
Dayton, O.T., December 17, 1857.Dear Sir: I acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 8th instant, upon the subject of the expedition sent out in 1854 to protect the emigrants coming to Oregon by the southern route. You request me to give you a brief history of the lawless bands of Indians that have infested that road since I have been acquainted with them. It is, perhaps, enough for me to say, in reply to this, that that portion of the southern emigrant road between the headwaters of Humboldt River, to the crossing of the Siskiyou Mountains, has ever been infested by Indians who seldom allow an opportunity to pass without stealing, plundering and killing emigrants, if they had the power to do so, and perhaps I cannot give you a more general idea of the estimation in which I hold those Indians than by taking a few extracts of my official letters and reports to the Indian Department at Washington City.
In my report under date of 11th September, 1854, in speaking of the Indians who inhabit the eastern portion of Mr. Thompson's district, along Lewis' Fork of the Columbia, on Snake River and its tributaries, and urging the necessity of establishing military stations in the interior, I use the following language, which is equally applicable to the country and Indians along the southern emigrant road:
"So long as these Indians remain occupants of that district, unrestrained by the military arm, we may expect robbery and bloodshed, as they increase yearly in skill and boldness, and are more abundantly supplied with arms and ammunition by improvident emigrants and reckless traders. Should it, nevertheless, be considered inadvisable to establish permanent posts so far inland, it would appear absolutely necessary to detail a company of mounted men each year to scour the country between Grand Ronde and Fort Hall, during the transit of the emigration."
"East of the Cascade Mountains, and south of the 44th parallel, is a country not attached particularly to any agency. That portion at the eastern base of this range, extending twenty-five or thirty miles east, and south on the California line, is the country of the Klamath Indians. East of this tribe, along our southern boundary, and extending some distance into California, is the tribe known as the Modocs. They speak the same language as the Klamaths. East of these again, but extending further south, are the Mo-e-twas (sometimes called Piutes). These two last named tribes have always evinced a deadly hostility to the whites, and have probably committed more outrages than any other interior tribe. The Modocs boast, the Klamaths told me, of having, within the last four years, murdered thirty-six whites.
"East of these tribes, and extending to our eastern limits, are the Shoshones, Snakes or Diggers. Little is known of their number or history. They are cowardly, but often attack weaker parties, and never fail to avail themselves of a favorable opportunity to plunder. Their country is a desert, with an occasional spot of verdure on the margin of lakes, or in deep ravines or chasms."
In August, 1854, I visited the Indians inhabiting the country about Klamath Lake. That visit and the presents distributed, the sending messengers to the Modocs, Mo-e-twas and Shoshones, together with the presence of a mounted and well-armed volunteer force in their country, contributed to restrain those lawless bands from committing their usual depredations.
It was in 1846, that the first emigrating party came into Oregon, by the southern road. And as far as I have been able to ascertain, but one person was murdered that year by the Indians. But in 1852, their depredations had become unendurable. A party was fitted out by the citizens of Yreka, under the command of Capt. Benjamin Wright, and sent to the relief of the emigrants. Another party, under the command of Captain Ross, was fitted out and dispatched for the same object by the citizens of Jackson County, Southern Oregon, but before these parties could reach the emigrants, many of them had been murdered and robbed by these Indians. The company under Captain Wright, found and buried eighteen or twenty bodies, men, women and children, who were generally horribly mutilated. The company under Captain Boss found and buried some dozen bodies in like condition, and it is presumed many others were murdered, whose remains were left to bleach upon the plains.
Lalakes, the head chief of the Klamaths, as indicated in the extract, stated that the Modocs boasted of having killed, in the last four years, thirty-six persons. The Mo-e-twas, or Piutes, are equally numerous and hostile, and the Shoshones are known to have murdered several persons.
I have never visited these tribes officially, as until recently it was supposed the country occupied by the Modocs and Mo-e-twas was wholly within the limits of California.
In the year 1853, the Indians along this route were kept in check by the presence of a detachment of United States dragoons from Fort Jones, and a volunteer force under Captain Miller, who was detailed for that service by General Lane at the close of the Rogue River war.
Previous to my expedition to the Klamath country, I had expected that a detachment of United States dragoons would be directed to scour the country between Fort Lane and Fort Boise, on Snake River, crossing the mountains on the emigrant road, and passing through the country of the Modocs and Shoshones, but from some cause this was not done, and I presume the main one was the limited number of troops in that country, and the frequent difficulties occurring between the miners and numerous Indians, requiring the presence of their entire force.
There can be no doubt but that the presence of the volunteer force under Captain Walker, referred to in your letter, tended materially to render a safe conduct of the emigrants through the country occupied by these lawless tribes in 1854.
If what I have said will be of any advantage to you, I shall be more than gratified.
I am, sir, very respectfully yours,
JOEL PALMER.B. F. Dowell, Esq.,
Salem, Oregon Territory.
Territory of Oregon:
I, B. F. Harding, secretary of the Territory of Oregon, do hereby certify that the foregoing are true and perfect copies of the originals now on file in my office.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto signed my name and affixed the seal of the Territory this 30th day of March, A.D. 1858.
B. F. HARDING,
Secretary of Oregon.
----Your committee, to whom were referred the governor's message and resolution No. --, relative to the protection of immigrants in 1854, with instructions to report, as far as practicable, the number, date, places and names of persons killed by Oregon Indians and their allies in times of peace, and those killed in times of war by Indians supposed to be friendly, submit the following report:
The deadly hostility of the Indians inhabiting the extreme northern and southern portions of our Territory may be traced back to a very early period. As far back as 1834, a party of about thirty persons, under the control of Captain Smith, were massacred near the mouth of the Umpqua River.
In June, 1835, George Gay, Daniel Miller, Edward Barnes, Dr. Bailey, Mr. Sanders, John Turner, John Woodworth, and an Irishman called Tom were attacked by Rogue River Indians near where Mr. Birdseye now lives in Rogue River Valley, and Mr. Miller, Mr. Barnes, Mr. Sanders and Tom were killed. The other four were badly wounded, but made their escape.
In August, 1838, as a party of citizens of Oregon were driving the first cattle from California to this Territory, they were attacked near the same spot where the party were attacked in 1835, by the same Indians, and Mr. Gay, who was of the party of 1835, was again wounded.
In the fall of 1846, a sick immigrant was killed on the southern Oregon immigrant road, near Lost River, by Modoc Indians.
On the 29th November, 1847, Dr. Whitman, a Protestant missionary, his wife, two orphan children, a Frenchman, and about eleven immigrants, were massacred at and near the mission in Walla Walla Valley by Cayuse Indians. This was the commencement of the Cayuse war.
In 1851, an exploring party of eight or ten men were attacked near the mouth of Coquille River, in Southern Oregon, and six of the number killed.
In 1851, two men were killed on Grave Creek, and one or two more on Rogue River, by Rogue River Indians, for which they were chastised by Major Kearny, United States army. It was in some of Major Kearny's engagements with these Indians that Captain Stuart, United States army, was killed.
In May, 1851, Mr. Dilley was killed near Camp Stuart, in Rogue River Valley, by Rogue River Indians, and
In October, 1851, Mr. Moffitt was killed near the same place by the same Indians.
In June, 1852, Calvin Woodman was killed in Scott's Valley, California, by Rogue River Indians.
In June, 1852, James L. Treaner, John Brando, "Cayuse" Jackson, and "Adobe" John, a Mexican, were killed by Pit River Indians, in the valley of that name, while viewing a wagon road from Sacramento Valley to the southern boundary line of Oregon.
In August, 1852, Mr. Coats, John Ornsby, James Long, and thirty-three immigrants were murdered by the Modoc Indians on the southern Oregon emigrant road.
In December, 1852, William Grundage, Peter Hunter, James Bacon and brother, Mr. Bruner, William Allen and Mr. Palmer, were massacred by Rogue River Indians on Rogue River, near the mouth of Galice Creek.
In 1853, August 4, Edward Edwards was killed, by Rogue River Indians, in his own house, on Stuart's Creek.
August 5, 1853, Thomas Wills was mortally wounded by Rogue River Indians within three hundred yards of the town of Jacksonville.
August 6, 1853, Richard Nolan was killed by Rogue River Indians on Jackson Creek, one mile from the town of Jacksonville.
August 17, 1853, John Gibbs, William Hudgins and three others whose names are not known, were killed in Rogue River Valley by Rogue River Indians.
October 6, 1853, James C. Kyle was killed by Rogue River Indians two miles from Fort Lane and about six from Jacksonville. The actual murderer of Mr. Kyle, and those who murdered Edwards and Wills, were subsequently arrested, and were tried for their offenses before the Hon. O. B. McFadden, in the spring of 1854, and were convicted and hung. These three Indians, with those chastised by Major Kearny in 1851, are the only ones ever punished for crime by either the civil or military authorities in Southern Oregon.
In January, 1854, Hiram Hulen, John Clark, John Oldfield and Wesley May den, were killed between Jacksonville and Yreka by Rogue River, Shasta and Modoc Indians.
April 15, 1854, Edward Phillips was killed on Applegate Creek, near Fort Lane, by Rogue River Indians.
June 15, 1854, Daniel Gage was killed while crossing the Siskiyou Mountains, between Jacksonville and Yreka.
June 24, 1854, Captain McAmy was killed at DeWitt's ferry, on Klamath River, by Shasta and Rogue River Indians.
August 20, 1854, Alexander Ward, his wife and seven children, Mrs. White and child, Samuel Mulligan, Dr. Adams and brother, William Babcock, John Frederick, and Rudolph Shultz, Mr. Ames and a Frenchman, name unknown, were massacred by Snake Indians on the northern Oregon emigrant road, near Fort Boise.
In September, 1854, Mr. Stuart was killed by Indians on the middle route to Oregon, via the plains.
May 8, 1855, Mr. Hill was killed on Indian Creek by Rogue River Indians.
June 1, 1855, Jerome Dyer and Daniel McKero [McKew/McKaw] were killed by Rogue River Indians, on the road between Jacksonville and Illinois Valley.
June 2, 1855, Mr. Philpot was killed in Deer Creek Valley by the same Indians next above mentioned.
July 27, 1855, Mr. Peters was killed on Humbug Creek by Klamath, Shasta, and Rogue River Indians.
July 28, 1855, William Hennessey, Edward Parish, Thomas Grey, Peter Hignight, John Pollock, four Frenchmen and two Mexicans, names unknown, were killed by the Indians next before referred to, at Buckeye Bar, on Klamath River.
September 2, 1855, Mr. Keene was killed by Modoc Indians, on the southern emigrant road, near Rogue River Valley.
In September, 1855, Mrs. Clark and a young man were killed in Yamhill County, by Coast Indians.
In September, 1855, Elisha Plummer and four others, names unknown, were killed at Grand Ronde, east of the Blue Mountains, by Cayuse and Walla Walla Indians.
In September, 1855, Indian Agent A. J. Bolon, Matteese and two others were killed by the Yakima Indians, east of the Cascade Mountains.
September 24, 1855, Fields and Cunningham were killed by Rogue River Indians, on the Siskiyou Mountains, between Jacksonville and Yreka.
September 25, 1855, Samuel Warren, killed by the same Indians next above referred to.
October 9, 1855, Mrs. J. B. Wagoner, Mary Wagoner, Mr. and Mrs. Jones, Mr. and Mrs. Haines and two children, George W. Harris, David W. Harris, F. A. Reed, William Gwin, James W. Cartwright, Mr. Powell, Bunch, Fox, Hamilton and White, were killed by Umpqua and Rogue River Indians, near Evans' ferry, on Rogue River. This is known as "the Wagoner massacre."
October 10,1855, Misses Hudson and Wilson, killed by Rogue River and Klamath Indians, on the road between Crescent City and Indian Creek.
October 16, 1855, Holland Bailey was killed by Umpqua and Cow Creek Indians, in Cow Creek Valley.
November 6, 1855, Charles Scott and Theodore Snow, killed on the road between Yreka and Scott's Bar, by messengers from the Rogue River to the Klamath Indians.
February 23, 1856, Captain Ben Wright, Captain John Poland, H. Braun, E. W. Howe, Mr. Wagoner, Barney Castle, George McClusky, Mr. Lara, W. B. Tullus, James Seroc and two sons, Mr. Smith, Mr. Warner, John Geisel and three children, S. Heidrick, Patrick McCollough and four others, whose names are unknown, were killed by Indians in charge of agent Captain Ben Wright, near the mouth of Rogue River.
March 26, 1856, George Griswold, Norman Palmer, Mrs. and Mr. Brown, Mr. Watkins, James St. Clair and eleven others, names unknown, were killed by Cascade Indians. This is known as "the Cascade massacre."
June, 1856, Charles Green and Thomas Stewart, killed on McKinney's Creek, near Fort Jones, by Shasta Indians.
January or February, 1857, Harry Lockhart, Z. Rogers, Adam Boles, D. Bryant and "John," a German, killed in Pit River Valley, by Pit River Indians.
It will be seen by the foregoing list that prior to 1851, upwards of fifty citizens were murdered by Oregon Indians. Since 1851, upwards of one hundred and forty citizens have been murdered by the Indians of Southern Oregon and their immediate allies, and about fifty by the Indians of Northern Oregon and their allies, since 1851. Many more names could be obtained from papers and living witnesses, but your committee have not time to investigate any further.
RECAPITULATION.All of which is respectfully submitted.
Your committee report the resolution back without amendment, and recommend that it be adopted.
NATHANIEL TODD,February 3, 1858.
Chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs.
Endorsed, the report of the Committee on Military Affairs.
Adopted by the council, February 3, 1858.
JOINT RESOLUTION relative to the payment of the volunteers called into service for the protection of emigrants in 1854.Resolved by the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Oregon, That the Secretary of the Territory be, and he is hereby, requested to transmit copies of his excellency's the governor's communication of the 18th of December last, and the accompanying documents, and copies of this resolution to his excellency James Buchanan, President of the United States, and to the Hon. James B. Floyd, Secretary of War; also, to send copies of the same to Hon. Joseph Lane, delegate in Congress from Oregon, and that he be requested to present the same to Congress and urge an appropriation to pay the Oregon volunteers who were called into service for the protection of the emigrants in 1854, and all just and necessary expenses.
Adopted in the Council, February 3, 1858.
H. D. O'BRYANT,Adopted by the House, February 3, 1858.
President of the Council.
IRA F. M. BUTLER.Territory of Oregon:
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
I, B. F. Harding, Secretary of the Territory of Oregon, do hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and perfect copy of the original now on file in my office.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto signed my name and affixed the seal of the Territory this thirtieth day of March, A.D. 1858.
B. F. HARDING,
Secretary of Oregon Territory.
Last revised October 27, 2016