Rogue River Indian War 1855-56
See also Jackson County News, 1855.
FOR SOLDIERS WHO SERVED
In the Rogue River or Cayuse Wars
The undersigned will attend to the procuring of bounty lands, under the new act of Congress, for persons who have been regularly mustered into the United States service for the term of fourteen days or more. Persons who were engaged in either of the Indian wars in this country, and all widows and orphans of such persons, are entitled to 160 acres of land, and by forwarding the necessary proof of their service to the undersigned, the official forms will be made out and forwarded to the proper department at Washington, which will ensure the return of a
LAND WARRANTFor the applicant.
Having a competent agent at Washington, it enables me to transact this kind of business with great efficiency and dispatch. Charges moderate.
G. D. R. BOYD,Umpqua Weekly Gazette, Scottsburg, May 12, 1855, page 3
There are apprehensions of serious Indian difficulties on Rogue River.
Umpqua Gazette, Scottsburg, June 2, 1855, page 2
ILLINOIS VALLEY, O.T.--The Indian troubles in that section are far from being settled. The Indian agent, Dr. Ambrose, we are informed is using every exertion to concentrate them on the reservation on Rogue River. Tuesday before last, some of them drove away Reef's cattle, and a party of volunteers in pursuit of them surprised, on Tuesday, four Indians supposed to be their scouts. Firing, they killed one Indian and wounded the others, who retreated into the bushes.
Crescent City Herald, June 6, 1855, page 2
From Illinois Valley.
SIX MEN KILLED BY THE INDIANS
IN ILLINOIS VALLEY.
As we finish writing the above, we learn from packers just arrived that on Saturday last, the Indians killed four white men (travelers, as far as we could ascertain) and two Chinese, in Illinois Valley, O.T. (some 50 miles distant from here). Wm. Shelly is reported to have been severely wounded.
Crescent City Herald, June 6, 1855, page 2
ILLINOIS VALLEY, O.T.--Our correspondent from Sailor Diggings, whose letter will be found in another column, gives a succinct account of the situation of Indian affairs in that section. By later advices we learn that the Indians are congregated in the neighborhood of Deer and Slate creeks, that the volunteers have been within sight of them, but found their own number too small to attack them with success. On Saturday last the Indians robbed the house of Mr. Chapman.
Crescent City Herald, June 13, 1855, page 2
Indian Affairs in Illinois Valley.Up to the time of our last issue the Indian difficulties in that section had progressed to an alarming extent. Volunteer companies were in search of the Indians, who had all left the reservation on Rogue River. Judge Peters, Mr. Rosborough and others on their way to this city were induced to return to Jacksonville. Mr. T. A. Jackson came through accompanied by a guard a short distance of the route, and two days after his arrival a letter was received, written by Mr. Shoudy, and dated Applegate, June 10th, from which, by permission, we make the following extract:
"Yesterday Mr. Jackson got Mr. J. Dyer and Mr. D. McHues to guard him over to Mooney's ranch. On returning home they were waylaid by the Indians and both killed, one having received seven balls and the other ten through the body in various places. Some soldiers who passed along this morning found the bodies and buried them. This of course causes considerable excitement, and families are obliged to move to places of safety. Travel has for the moment almost ceased, and there is but little doing in the diggings here or at Jacksonville. It has rained all this afternoon and two or three trains have just come through without experiencing any trouble."
These statements are fully corroborated by Mr. Cornwall, the expressman, who came in a few days after.
THE INDIAN DIFFICULTIES IN ILLINOIS VALLEY SETTLED.--From G. S. Rice, of Sailor Diggings, we learn that news had been brought in of the adjustment of the Indian troubles, it being reported that the Indians returned to the reservation after having given up six of their number concerned in the murder of J. B. Hill on Indian Creek and also in the murder of Dyer and McHues on Applegate.
P.S.--Mr. B. F. Dorris of this city returned last evening from Yreka; he passed through Illinois Valley on Sunday, reports everything quiet and confirms the statement that the murderers of Hills, Dyer and McHues were given up to the Indian agent. Some soldiers and volunteers, however, are still out.
Crescent City Herald, June 20, 1855, page 2
INDIAN DISTURBANCES ON THE UPPER KLAMATH.--The accounts we receive from Rogue River Valley and the Upper Klamath are so confused and contradictory that it is very difficult to arrive at correct conclusion as to the condition of Indian affairs in that region. It appears, however, only too certain that some twenty whites have fallen a sacrifice to Indian cruelty, and amongst those were Edward Parrish, Thomas Gray, Wm. Hennessy, and others whose names are not known.
On the 30th ult., two Indians were hung by the mob at Yreka, four Indians had been made prisoners and shot on Humbug Creek, and one shot on Scott's Bar.
From an article we publish today from the Yreka Union of the 11th, it would appear that a war of extermination against the Indians has been resolved upon. Later advices, however, state that some six Indians have been given up to the Yreka volunteers, that the Indians have left the cave and returned to the reservation, in consequence of which the volunteer forces have been disbanded.
Crescent City Herald, August 22, 1855, page 2
MORE INDIAN ATROCITIES AT YREKA.
Hanging of Two Indians--
A General Attack Upon the Whites Threatened.
We are indebted to the Pacific Express for the following particulars of additional murders committed by the Indians in Yreka, the news of which reached Shasta on the evening of August 2. On Friday afternoon two white men, working at Humbug Bar, on Scotts River, were attacked and murdered by the Indians. On the afternoon of the day following, two Indian spies came into Yreka. They were immediately taken into custody and subsequently executed. It is reported that two packers were murdered by the Indians near Applegate Creek, while on their way to Yreka. The chief of the Rogue River Indians declares that he will have vengeance for the hanging of two of his tribe, and it is anticipated that there will be a general attack very soon. In that event there will not be an Indian left alive in the vicinity of Yreka.
"Doings in California," The Tennesseean, Nashville, Tennessee, September 15, 1855, page 2
Indian Troubles in the North.
From the Yreka Union of the 18th inst., we copy the following:
The Indian excitement has subsided. A large party of mountain rangers returned on Wednesday last, and report that they did not succeed in killing a single Indian. They traced the murderers over the Siskiyou into the Indian reserve at Rogue River Valley, at which place were found several horses belonging to those who were killed. The guilty Indians placed themselves under the protection of the Indian agent at that place and Capt. Smith, who stated that they were compelled to prevent their being molested until legal authority should be produced for their arrest.
The legal authority required is, of course, a regularly executed requisition from the Governor. The Indians, we should think, after this must be very strongly impressed with the forbearing disposition manifested by the white man.
Now, we would ask, what security have our citizens against a repetition of the shocking tragedy lately enacted, if the perpetrators can, at any time, be shielded from justice by United States troops? For what purpose were these troops stationed on this frontier? Was it to secure the citizens against the depredations of Indians, or to protect the Indians from molestation by the whites for any enormity they might see fit to indulge in--a wholesale slaughter not excepted? We know not the exact character of Captain Smith's orders, but we do know that a different course of procedure on his part would, in this instance, have been more subservient to the ends of justice, and have avoided the unavoidable condemnation of many. The party on their return proceeded to the cave on the Klamath, above Cottonwood, but found no Indians. They destroyed, in a measure, the fortifications at this place, which they represent as being strong and well built.
Sonoma County Journal, Petaluma, California, August 25, 1855, page 2
INDIAN TROUBLES IN THE INTERIOR.--It appears that as yet none of the Indians, who lately committed such horrible outrages on the Upper Klamath, have been punished. It was useless that hundreds of miners had left their business and went out in pursuit of them. The Indians, when closely pressed, took shelter with the U.S. officers on the Rogue River Reservation from where, it seems, they can only be got by due process of law, commencing with a requisition from the Governor of California. The officers in their course of action probably do but their duty; still it is not to be expected that the unprovoked murder of some fifteen white men will be propitiated by a tedious and expensive legal prosecution of the guilty Indians, and it is not surprising to hear that the miners express their dissatisfaction with the course the officers at the reservation deemed it their duty to pursue.
On Althouse Creek, we learn, the Indians have lately amused themselves by pilfering from the miners' cabins provisions, tools, clothing &c.; in one instance they stole pot and beans from the fire. The diversion left the miners minus about one thousand pounds of provisions.
All these depredations are charged to the Indians belonging to the Rogue River Reservation, who thus accumulate upon themselves a cloud of guilt, which sooner or later will burst upon their devoted heads.
Crescent City Herald, September 5, 1855, page 2
INDIAN TROUBLES IN ROGUE RIVER VALLEY.--One Man Killed and Two Wounded.--From Mr. D. W. McComb, the agent of Wells, Fargo & Co., who returned from a tour through the interior on Wednesday last, we learn that on Sunday, the 2nd inst., a party of whites were in pursuit of some Indians who had stolen cattle on the Emigrant Trail, Jackson County, O.T. A little this side of Russell's Mountain House, the party came upon an Indian camp, from which the squaws had just been retreating. Proceeding further on in their search, they were fired upon by the Indians who had concealed themselves in the bushes. A man by the name of Stein was killed; Fred Armitage was shot through the head, and another man had his arm broken.
Crescent City Herald, September 12, 1855, page 2
THE INDIANS AT THE NORTH.--The Indians at the north, it appears, are still troublesome. Mr. Galbraith informs the Crescent City Herald that a short time ago, while on his way to Jacksonville, and about a mile and a half above Applegate crossing, O.T., he was shot at four times by the Indians, who, it would appear, are still prowling through the country, bent on mischief.
Weekly Butte Record, Oroville, California, September 15, 1855, page 2
Notice!BY DIRECTION OF THOS. J. HENLEY, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the State of California, all that tract of country from a point one mile above the May-Reep Rapids to the mouth of the Klamath River, and extending on each side four miles, is set apart for an INDIAN RESERVATION, under the law of Congress regulating Indian reservations in the state of California.
S. G. WHIPPLECapell, June 16, 1855.
Special Indian Agent, Klamath Reservation
Weekly Humboldt Times, Eureka, California, October 6, 1855
THREE WHITE MEN MURDERED BY INDIANS.--An extra from the office of the Yreka Union details the killing of three men and the wounding of two others by the Indians, near the summit of the Siskiyou Mountain on 24th Sept. One of the men was named Samuel Warner, and other Fields, and the third unknown. The Indians numbered twelve and were all well armed.
Petaluma Weekly Journal and Sonoma County Advertiser, Petaluma, California, October 6, 1855, page 3
FIGHT WITH THE INDIANS.--A volunteer force of about 125 men proceeded on Sunday evening the 7th inst. to the mouth of Butte Creek, in the vicinity of Fort Lane. Early on Monday morning they approached the rancherias and were fired upon by the Indians. The fight then became general, and 40 of the Indians were killed. Maj. Lupton was killed and 12 of the volunteers wounded.
It was reported in Jacksonville on Tuesday that the house of a Mr. Jones was burned, himself killed and wife wounded.
Messrs. Wagoner, Evans and Hoff are supposed to have been killed and their houses destroyed.
It was also reported that a man named Hamilton had been killed, and another named Westfall had been wounded by the Indians, at Jewett's Ferry.
A baker named Hudson was killed by the Indians on the Siskiyou, and 15 volunteers started in pursuit of them.
"News from the North," Oregonian, Portland, October 16, 1855, page 1
Office Supt. Ind. AffairsSir
Dayton O.T. Oct. 16th 1855
I herewith enclose a copy of regulations for the direction of Indian agents in the Oregon Indian Superintendency, which I have regarded under the present exigencies as absolutely demanded. The large number of men and arms withdrawn from this Territory to act against the hostile tribes in Washington renders the settlers residing in remote districts apprehensive of danger from the bands scattered among us. These Indians are scattered over a wide extent of country, and many of them have been in the habit of mingling with a portion of the hostile bands and in some instances are suspected of sympathizing with them. In the event of a repulse of our troops, these might be induced to operate against us. In their present locations great opportunities are afforded for securing spies that may be sent among them from the hostile bands. The plan adopted is designed to lessen these opportunities and restore confidence among our citizens. Wrought up by excitement as the minds of the settlers now are, the least offense on the part of an Indian would most likely result in unwarranted excesses, leading to a rupture with these bands.
The expense will undoubtedly exceed the appropriation for adjusting difficulties and preventing outbreaks, and it is hoped that funds may be remitted from other appropriations to meet these exigencies.
Since writing the above, a messenger has arrived from Rogue River Valley with information that those Indians have taken arms and have already murdered twenty-five or thirty families, and are burning houses and laying waste the whole country. The messenger bearing this intelligence to the Governor, now at Portland, passed a family from this point and sent a verbal message. His report is that the communication between the Umpqua Valley and Jacksonville is cut off. The accounts may be much exaggerated, yet I put much confidence in them, as the letters of Agent Ambrose heretofore transmitted indicate a restlessness among the Indians and a strong probability of hostilities.
A portion of our own people seem to desire war, and it is greatly to be feared that it has been forced upon us, much against the wish of a large portion of the Indians of that district. But if commenced, whatever may have caused it, I apprehend nothing short of annihilation of these bands will terminate hostilities.
We may be able to save a portion of the Indians of Umpqua and this valley, and perhaps portions of the bands along the coast with a few of those east of the Cascade Mountains, but the race is doomed on this coast unless a strong military force be thrown in as a shield. They must at all events be humbled and taught the folly of attempting to redress their own wrongs. This will require a great sacrifice of the lives and property of our citizens, and whole neighborhoods of our scattered population will be cut off. An army of ten thousand men will not be more than adequate to meet the requirement of the service in this and Washington territories, if, as there is now good reason to believe, a general concert of action has been agreed upon among the Indians north and south.
Enclosed is an extra Statesman just placed in my hands. I regard the reports as lacking confirmation and as based to a great extent on conjecture. The great excitement causes a trifling incident related at one point to increase as it proceeds to an alarming magnitude. On the receipt of more reliable information your office will be duly advised.
The amount of labor connected with negotiations and the suppression of hostilities in this Superintendency has placed it beyond my power to prepare and transmit an annual report. Estimates for the next fiscal year will be submitted at an early day. The reports of agents Thompson and Ambrose and the various communications from this office will it is believed supply in a great measure and supersede the necessity of a regular annual report.
Enclosed herewith is a letter from Agent Thompson containing an account of the repulse and retreat of Major Haller and command.
Very respectfullyHon. Geo. W. Manypenny
Your obt. servant
Commissioner Ind. Affairs
Washington City D.C.
NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 608 Oregon Superintendency 1853-1855, frames 1190-1194. The undated "extra" of the Oregon Statesman, probably from October 15, 1855, is transcribed below.
Indian Outbreak in Southern Oregon--
Dwellings Burned and Families Murdered.
Corvallis, Sunday, Oct. 14.At noon today Mr. S. B. Hadley arrived at this place, express messenger, bearing a petition to Gov. Curry for 500 volunteers to repel the hostilities of the Shasta and Rogue River Indians, who are represented to be in a state of war towards the whites. The petition is signed by about 150 of the citizens of Umpqua Valley. Among the names we recognize a number of prominent settlers there. The petition represents that some 20 or 30 families have been murdered, and dwellings burned, and that an attack upon the Umpqua settlements is feared. The houses burned and families murdered, thus far, resided between Grave Creek and Rogue River. Mr. Hadley recollected the following names among the number:
Evans (at the ferry), Wagoner, Vannoy, widow Niday (she escaped) and Harris. [Evans, Vannoy and Niday were unharmed.]
It was supposed that Miss Pellet, the temperance lecturess, was at Wagoner's, and murdered. [She and Mr. Wagoner left the house an hour or two before the rest of the family was killed.] All communication with Jacksonville was cut off, and we hear nothing from the citizens there. It is conjectured, however, that the town is fortified. The mail carrier was shot at and driven back. The families between Grave Creek and the Canyon have been brought into Umpqua for safety. There is no communication beyond the Canyon now.
Mr. Hadley says that Judge Deady, who had been holding court in Jackson County with Dr. Drew, deputy marshal, confirm the intelligence, and say from the mountains they could see the burning dwellings south of them.
An express of Maj. Rains', we are informed, passed upon on the other side of the river with a requisition for U.S. soldiers, arms and ammunition from Ft. Lane. He'll not be able to get through, probably.
Upon the reception of the intelligence at Eugene City last night a meeting was held, a report of which we give below:
To His Excellency, George L. Curry, Governor of Oregon:At a meeting of the citizens of Lane Co., O.T., held at Eugene City, Oct. 13th, 1855, they were informed of Indian difficulties in the Rogue River Valley by S. B. Hadley, authenticated by a petition of over one hundred and fifty names subscribed and sworn to, therefore
Resolved, That the citizens of Lane Co., pursuant to said information, do heartily concur in the prayer of said petition in recommending to his honor, the Governor of Oregon, the expediency and propriety of ordering out forces for the protection of the citizens of Umpqua and Rogue River valleys, and would respectfully recommend [to] the Governor that Lane County be permitted to raise at least one company of volunteers to repair immediately to the seat of war.
Jos. Teal, Chairman
D. C. Dade, Sec'y.
Just as we were putting our Extra to press, we received the following letters by the southern mail. They are from gentlemen well known in the country as wholly reliable:
Laurel, Douglas Co., Oct. 11th, '55.Ed. Statesman--Dear Sir: I hasten to inform you that there is trouble with the Indians on Rogue River. I have reliable information from Hon. M. P. Deady, Dr. Drew, my son Thomas, and others. Judge Deady left Wagoner's, on Louse Creek, after breakfast, and the house was on fire some three hours after and all the family killed, besides a lady stopping overnight, traveling to California lecturing on temperance, and some others whose names I do not remember. The people expect much trouble. The mail carrier got in sight of the house, saw the smoking ruins, when he was fired upon by the Indians and had to return to Jacksonville. You shall have more news as soon as I can get it correct.
Willis Jenkins, Postmaster
Deer Creek, Oct. 11, 1855.Friend Bush: There is quite an excitement here about the Rogue River Indians, who have broken out and are killing and murdering men, women and children. The mail carrier from here south was shot at twice just beyond Wagoner's and reports the latter house, as well as Mr. Harris', in flames, and the Indians shouting and yelling around them like a parcel of demons.
It is supposed Miss Pellet was at Wagoner's, as Judge Deady reports leaving her there the morning the house was burned. Wagoner and his family have not been seen, and it is but a natural conclusion to suppose all have perished. There is no communication between Jacksonville and Evans Creek, and it is thought every house between those points is burned. [Apparently only the houses on the north side of Rogue River between the Table Rocks and Evans Creek were burned.] Dr. Drew stopped at Cow Creek to assist in guarding Mr. Turner's house. The Indians are reported 300 strong, well armed, and riding American horses. If anything more transpires I will inform you.
R. H. Dearborn
Deer Creek, Oct. 11, 12 M. [i.e., noon]Dear Bush--I have rode all night to get here and send news of the outbreak in Rogue River. No one has come through from Jacksonville since I left. We have certain news that four houses between Grave Creek and Rogue River are burned. It is presumed the families are all murdered. There is other intelligence, pretty reliable, that the families and houses between Wagoner's and Rogue River are all destroyed, and also the houses from Evans' to Vannoy's on Rogue river.
On Tuesday night the Indians attacked the miners low down on Grave Creek (12 miles below the road) and killed three men.
The mail is already closed. Dearborn tells me he has given you the items, and the mail boy will not wait any longer. I left Dr. Henry, of Yamhill, at Turner's, on Cow Creek, about 45 miles from here, last night. A party of about 20 men had collected there. I shall return as soon as a party can be raised. Lieut. Gibson, who has been surveying a route for a railroad, is at Winchester with about 90 men. Their animals are worn out and the men are footsore, but I hope to get some of them to start immediately. Our citizens between this place and the canyon are preparing to go out.
Yours, in hasteNARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 608 Oregon Superintendency 1853-1855, frame 1195.
J. W. Drew
Exciting News from the Interior
DEPREDATIONS OF THE INDIANS ON THE SISKIYOU MOUNTAINS.
INDIAN WAR IN ROGUE VALLEY.
SCOTT'S BAR IN ASHES.
A Train Attacked on the Siskiyou by the Indians!
ONE MAN KILLED.
PROPERTY DESTROYED, &c.
(By Jackson's Inland Express.)
Mr. Jackson, who arrived in town on Wednesday, informs us that on Monday on his way hither, when but two or three miles from Indian Creek [presumably the one near Kerby], and ascending the Siskiyou Mountain, he met Mr. Riley, Hart, Work & Co.'s Express messenger, carrying a hat which he had found on the road, perforated with a rifle ball, and having evidently belonged to a man but recently killed. Mr. Jackson returned with the party to Indian Creek, where a small company was got up for the purpose of examining into this matter. They arrived on the ground about six miles from Indian Creek on the same afternoon, and soon found the body of Mr. Hudson, a packer, who had started the week previous, in company with his partner, Mr. Wilson, with a train of thirteen mules from Crescent City. He was shot in the temple with a rifle ball, and had besides some seven or eight arrows in his body. One of the mules was found lying dead, and not far off were scattered the contents of sundry packages of merchandise, together with the old rags which the murderers had exchanged for better clothing found amongst the packs. According to appearances the attack must have been made on the day previous, on Sunday afternoon. The party camped during the night in the neighborhood and the next morning Mr. Jackson left. No clue had as yet been found as to the whereabouts of Mr. Wilson, the partner of Mr. Hudson and at the time undoubtedly in his company. The mules were probably driven off to the mountains by the Indians.
Crescent City Herald, October 17, 1855, page 2
An Indian War in Rogue River Valley.
FIGHT OF THE VOLUNTEERS WITH THE INDIANS.
30 Indians Killed.
MAJOR LUPTON MORTALLY WOUNDED, &c., &c.
(By the Crescent City Express.)
We are indebted to Mr. Galbraith of the Crescent City Express, for the following particulars of the opening of an Indian war in Rogue River Valley.
As to the leading causes of this outbreak, the massacre of the miners on the Upper Klamath in the latter part of July, the murder of several packers, teamsters and travelers on the different routes near the Oregon boundary line, and more recently the killing of two wagoners and their ox teams near Cottonwood by the Indians--all these must still be fresh in the recollection of our readers. The military at Fort Lane, O.T., seemed to be powerless in either restraining or punishing the marauders, and the goaded population were at last compelled to rise for their own protection. Mr. Galbraith left Jacksonville on Tuesday, the 9th inst., and the following are the main events which happened up to that time:
A volunteer force of one hundred or one hundred and twenty-five men had been formed, and after having completed their arrangements they proceeded on Sunday evening, the 7th inst., to the mouth of Butte Creek, in the vicinity of Fort Lane, in several parties, according to the number of rancherias [Indian villages], and commanded respectively by Major Lupton, 36 men; Capt. Williams, 14; Messrs. Bruce, Miller and Hays, 11 each; Mr. Harris, 18; and Mr. Newcomb, 17 men. Early on Monday morning the volunteers approached the rancherias, and the Indians first fired upon Harris' command. The fight then became general and ended in the total defeat of the Indians, 30 of whom, left dead on the ground, were afterwards buried by the military from Fort Lane.
Of the volunteers, 12 men were wounded: one of their number, Major Lupton, who had received an arrow in the left breast, died on Monday night; and another, named Sheppard, wounded in the abdomen, it is thought will not recover.
Mr. Galbraith also states that on Tuesday it was reported at Jacksonville that the Indians burnt the house of Mr. Jones, while the owner himself was killed, and his wife severely wounded. Dr. Barkwell was called to attend on the lady, but it is thought she cannot recover. Messrs. Wagoner, Evans and Tuff are also supposed to have been killed and their houses and property destroyed.
Dr. Crane, U.S.A., and Dr. Barkwell were indefatigable in their exertions to assist and relieve the wounded.
ONE MAN KILLED AND ANOTHER WOUNDED AT JEWETT'S FERRY.Crescent City Herald, October 17, 1855, page 2 Galbraith's account had previously been printed in an extra of the Herald on October 12.
On Tuesday noon intelligence was received at Jacksonville of Mr. Hamilton being killed and a Mr. Westfall wounded by the Indians at Jewett's ferry, about 16 miles further down the river.
Fifteen volunteers started in pursuit of the Indians who killed Hudson on the Siskiyou as above reported by Mr. Jackson.
It is hardly necessary to add that the country is represented to be in a general commotion, and that volunteers are called from every section to assist in the extermination of the Indians. As a consequence of this, business and trade is very dull, nor can we look for any material improvement until the Indians are entirely subdued, and the lives and property of the people secured against the ever recurring depredations of these savages.
Mr. W. W. Fowler, in a letter to Mr. J. R. Hale, of the firm of Hale & Co. in this city, gives the following details of the events above mentioned.
Jacksonville, Oct. 9th 1855.
Dear Friend:--On my way here I heard of nothing but Indian difficulties. I arrived on Saturday and found they were making up companies to attack the Indians by surprise. On Sunday a company from the valley went reconnoitering on Butte Creek and found out their position. The same evening a company of twenty-five men came over from Sterlingville and joined the former, with whom on Monday morning just at daylight they cut loose. There were three different lodges or rancherias to attack but within hearing of a gun shot. The first gun fired was the signal for a general attack, and short work they made of it, killing about thirty Indians, mostly men. Ten volunteers were wounded but only two of them dangerously. Maj. Lupton died last night about ten o'clock; he was was shot with an arrow in the left breast. Another one whose name I have forgotten (Sheppard?) was shot in the abdomen with an arrow and it is thought will not live through the day. A report has just come in that the Indians have killed two teamsters at Mr. Jewett's ferry, about sixteen miles down Rogue River. We have now a war on hand, but guns and ammunition are scarce. I have been creditably informed that Capt. Smith, of Fort Lane, has refused to let any of his guns go into the hands of the volunteers.
Yours,The following letter, which we are permitted to copy, was addressed to a gentleman on Althouse Creek and as will be perceived is of one day later date than previous advices.
W. W. Fowler
Applegate Valley, Oct. 10th, 1855.
My Dear Friend:--I have but time to inform you that the Indians have turned out, and so have the whites. About forty Indians have been killed and two or three whites in a battle on Butte Creek. Maj. Lupton among the latter. Twelve white men were wounded. I was Vannoy's this morning to visit Mrs. Jones who was wounded in the arm and back yesterday by the Indians who attacked their house, killed Mr. Jones, set fire to the house and left, believing Mrs. Jones dead; think she will die shortly. Vannoy seems anxious as does everybody on Applegate and Rogue River to see a volunteer company from Althouse. I should like to see the boys out. I believe now is the time to subdue the Indians and do some service. My compliments to all; tell them to turn out; there is earnest war certain!
Yours, M. C. Barkwell.
Headquarters Department of the Pacific,SIR: The Yakima and Klickitat Indians in Oregon and Washington territories, being dissatisfied, it is said, with the treaty made with Governor Stevens, have assumed a warlike attitude, and have killed a number of white inhabitants going to and returning from the mines near Fort Colville. To punish these Indians, and to check their murderous intentions, Major Haller moved against them with about 100 men. He met them on the banks of the Pisko River [sic], Simcoe Valley, but finding them too strong, he retired to the heights and sent for a reinforcement. Major Rains, with all the forces under his command, marched to his relief. I have ordered two detachments, one from Benicia and the other from the Presidio, composed of one captain, two lieutenants, and seventy rank and file, to proceed in the steamer Columbia to reinforce Major Rains. I have no doubt the Major will be able to chastise the Indians and bring them to terms.
Benicia, California, October 19, 1855.
The whites and Indians keep up a predatory warfare near Forts Jones and Lane. The whites have determined to exterminate the Indians in that region; hence they kill indiscriminately the innocent as well as the guilty.
I ordered Major Fitzgerald, with his company of dragoons, some two months since, to the Dalles, but owing to difficulties between the whites and Indians in Southern Oregon and Northern California, I suspended the order until his services could be dispensed with. It is rumored that he has recently had a brush with the Indians, when he killed and wounded forty of them.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servantLieut. Col. L. Thomas
John E. Wool
A. A. General, Headquarters of the Army, New York City.
Message of the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress, Washington 1855, page 80
Great Indian Fight at the South!
Over 100 Indians Killed--Escape of Miss Pellet.
We stop the press to say that by Wells, Fargo & Co.'s express we learn that the citizens and miners of Jackson County have taken the field. They have already killed one hundred and six Indians. They spare neither age nor sex, but are determined to make a clean sweep as they go. They say that they want no assistance or interference from government officers, that they are determined to treat all protectors or sympathizers with the Indians as common foes.
Maj. Lupton, member-elect to the Legislature from Jackson County, was killed. Miss Pellet escaped a few minutes before Wagoner's house was attacked. Great excitement existed against the regulars, and others who had sheltered and protected the Indians.
Oregonian, Portland, October 20, 1855, page 2
Exciting News from the Interior!We are indebted to the Crescent city Herald, Extra, of October 12, for the following particulars relative to the depredations of the Indians on the Siskiyou Mountains, and their attack upon a pack train, in which one man was killed. We also learn that the Indians in Rogue River Valley have again commenced hostilities, and have had a severe fight with a company of volunteers, under the command of Major Lupton, and others, in which forty Indians were killed and Major Lupton mortally wounded:
Mr. Jackson, who arrived in town on Wednesday, informs us that on Monday, on his way hither, when but two or three miles from Indian Creek, and ascending the Siskiyou Mountain, he met Mr. Riley Hart, Work & Co.'s Express messenger, carrying a hat which he had found on the road, perforated with a rifle ball, and having evidently belonged to a man but recently killed. Mr. Jackson returned with the party to Indian Creek, where a small company was gotten up for the purpose of examining into the matter. They arrived on the ground about six miles from Indian Creek, on the same afternoon, and soon found the body of Mr. Hudson, a packer, who had started the week previous in company with his partner, Mr. Wilson, and a train of thirteen mules from Crescent City. He was shot in the temple with a rifle ball, and had besides some seven or eight arrows in his body. One of his mules was found lying dead, and not far off were scattered the contents of sundry packages of merchandise, together with the old rags which the murderers had exchanged for better clothing found amongst the packs. According to appearances the attack must have been made on the day previous, Sunday afternoon. The party camped during the night in the neighborhood, and the next morning Mr. Jackson left. No clue has as yet been found as to the whereabouts of Mr. Wilson, the partner of Mr. Hudson, who at the time was undoubtedly in his company. The mules were probably driven off to the mountains by the Indians.
We are indebted to Mr. Galbraith, of the Crescent City Express, for the following particulars of the opening of an Indian war in Rogue River Valley.
As to the leading causes of this outbreak, the massacre of the miners on the Upper Klamath in the latter part of July, the murder of several packers, teamsters and travelers on the different routes near the Oregon boundary line, and more recently the killing of two wagoners and their ox teams near Cottonwood by the Indians--all of these must still be fresh in the recollection of our readers. The military at Fort Lane, O.T. seemed to be powerless in either restraining or punishing these marauders, and the goaded population were at last compelled to rise for their own protection. Mr. Galbraith left Jacksonville on Tuesday, the 9th inst., and the following are the main events which happened up to that time:
A volunteer force of one hundred or one hundred and twenty-five men had been formed, and after having completed their arrangements they proceeded on Sunday evening, the 7th inst., to the mouth of [Little] Butte Creek, in the vicinity of Fort Lane, in several parties, according to the number of rancherias, and commanded respectively by Maj. Lupton, 36 men; Capt. Williams, 14; Messrs. Bruce, Miller and Hay, 11 each; Mr. Harris, 18, and Mr. Newcomb, 17 men. Early on Monday morning the volunteers approached the rancherias, and the Indians first fired upon Harris' command. The fight then became general and ended in the total defeat of the Indians, 40 of whom, left dead on the ground, were afterwards buried by the military from Fort Lane.
Of the volunteers, 12 men were wounded; one of their number, Major Lupton, who had received an arrow in the left breast, died on Monday night and another named Sheppard, wounded in the abdomen, it is thought will not recover.
Mr. Galbraith also states that on Tuesday it was reported at Jacksonville that the Indians burned the house of Mr. Jones, while the owner himself was killed and his wife severely wounded. Dr. Barkwell was called to attend on the lady, but it is thought she cannot recover. Messrs. Wagoner, Evans and Tuff are also supposed to have been killed and their houses and property destroyed. Dr. Crane, U.S.A., and Dr. Barkwell were indefatigable in their exertions to assist and relieve the wounded.
On Tuesday noon intelligence was received at Jacksonville of Mr. Hamilton being killed and a Mr. Westfall wounded by the Indians at Jewett's Ferry, about 16 miles further down the river.
Fifteen volunteers have started in pursuit of the Indians who killed Hudson on the Siskiyou, as above reported.
It is hardly necessary to add that the country is represented to be in a general commotion and that volunteers are called from every section to assist in the extermination of the Indians. As a consequence of this, business and trade is very dull, nor can we look for any material improvement until the Indians are entirely subdued and the lives and property of the people secured against the ever-recurring depredations of these savages.
Messrs. Hale & Co. obliged us with the perusal of a letter from W. W. Fowler, Esq., dated Jacksonville, O.T., Oct. 9, which in its main features confirms entirely the information above given. The inactivity of the U.S. forces at Fort Lane is commented upon with some severity.
Weekly Humboldt Times, Eureka, California, October 20, 1855, page 2
THE ROGUE RIVER MASSACRE.
Story of the Killing of Nineteen Persons on October 9, 1855.
A Prominent Episode in the History of Southern Oregon--
Dangers Incident to Frontier Life--Narrow Escape of Judge Deady.
(Written for the Sunday Oregonian.)
"The Indians have broken loose and are killing everybody!" shouted a mud-bespattered and excited horseman as he dashed into the busy town of Jacksonville, in southern Oregon, on the 9th of October, 1855.
Dismounting from his foam-flecked and panting steed, he repeated to the crowd which had gathered about him, "The red devils broke out of the reservation last night and killed every man along Rogue River. Yes, and the women and children too. They've burned all the houses and run off the cattle, and God knows what they haven't done. I just came from Jewett's ferry."
Thus saying, he staggered to a seat, while the excited crowd plied him with questions.
"I was asleep in the old log house (built in 1851 by Perkins, then owner of the ferry, and made bulletproof as a defense against the Indians) at Jewett's ferry, and several others were there. Just before day, or maybe at 3 or 4 o'clock, 'whish' went a bullet through the shingles. Then there was a fearful howl and a lot more guns were fired. We got down on the floor at first, but when lights were got we found we were all right and we began to fire back. We saw through the dark a dozen Indians firing at the house. In about half an hour they left and we waited till daybreak and looked out and saw a man dead on the ground near the house. His name is Hamilton and he was camped close to the ferry. We looked for his partner and found him in the bushes, where his groaning drew us. He is terrible bad off--shot four times."
"Is that the Hamilton that's bringing the iron for the new mill?" interrupted a bystander. "Yes, I expect it is, for that's what his train was loaded with," responded the messenger. "Then we looked around, keeping an eye out for Indians until about 10 o'clock. We didn't leave the house before nine, for fear on 'em--and found nothing more, only Robbins come tearin' from Evans' and says 'the whole country is murdered. Jones and his wife are shot; Wagoner and his family are killed and the Indians have beat Haines' brains out. I want you fellows to go back with me just as soon as you can and look and see who's left alive.' "
As these disjointed words were repeated about the town, great excitement ensued. Jacksonville was full of people, mainly refugees from the surrounding mining camps and farming settlements, for the whole surrounding country was, and had been for many days, in anticipation of trouble with the Indians, although of less serious nature than that which now cast such a chill over the stoutest hearts. A large number of the inhabitants of Jackson and Josephine counties were "forted up," that is, had collected in strong buildings, bulletproof and large enough to contain several families. A large number of men were required to defend these detached posts, and even in Jacksonville itself some apprehensions of danger to the town were felt, although the number of men there capable of bearing arms was several hundred. Very quickly, however, a volunteer force of about twenty active and fearless men were in the saddle and set off a at a swift gallop for the north side of the Rogue River, where the atrocities had been committed. While they ride to succor the helpless victims of savagery, let us examine the route which they followed and the region toward which they directed their headlong steps.
THE COUNTRY AT THAT PERIOD.The railway which in 1885 connects the valley of the Rogue with that of the Willamette passes for nearly eighty miles of its way along the route formerly known as the old California trail, and later as the California and Oregon road. In 1855 and thereabouts, the era of extensive mining in northern California and southern Oregon, this trail, then broadened and graded to the actuality of a fair wagon road, was the sole communication between such important mining centers as Jacksonville and Yreka, and was in fact the only means of land communication between the state (then territory) of Oregon and California. Along it at various convenient localities were scattered, as the fashion of the times then was, no small number of eating and lodging houses and drinking saloons, where the wayfarer might refresh himself and his horse. A vast traffic passed over this road, vast if it is considered that the sole means of transportation were heavy wagons and trains of pack mules. By such means the miners were supplied with the necessaries of life and the implements of their trade, from such distant a shipping port as Scottsburg, and even from Portland. The traveler who has the good fortune to pass by daylight over that portion of the Oregon & California railway which lies between the South Umpqua and Rogue rivers will see a deal of most charming and interesting, and even sublime scenery, and he will find, if he seeks opportunity to question the older inhabitants of the stations, that these localities are fruitful in traditionary lore.
Parallel to the railway and not far to the eastward lay the old California trail, where were enacted the scenes which are about to be described. Along the Rogue, from the point where Grants Pass now stands, up as far as the upper Table Rock, every mentionable locality bears its tale of Indian occupancy and Indian cruelty, or of white man's tyranny and overpowering mastership. In the sands of the Rogue River gold was found worth a king's ransom. The crest of yonder symmetrical hill--Gold Hill, it is fittingly called--bears a vein of quartz, the story of whose wealth rivals the wondrous tales of Aladdin and his lamp. Not far from the track and half-concealed in the brush which kindly nature has sent to heal the scars of man's occupancy, the remains of a military stronghold [Fort Lane] are to be seen--a stronghold whose use was temporary and whose site is half-forgotten, but whose name is destined to endure, honoring Oregon's first governor and first senator. Not far away, in fact only a score of miles to the northwest, beyond the sandstone-capped [sic] summit of the lower Table Rock, Gen. Lane fought a severe battle with the Indians and compelled them to a peace with white men--a peace which some of them observed until the day of their death.
At Fort Lane, which was then garrisoned by a few companies of regular troops under Capt. Smith, the volunteer relief party hastening down from Jacksonville were reinforced by fifty-five mounted dragoons, under command of the dashing Major Fitzgerald, a beau sabreur [gallant soldier--literally "handsome swordsman"] of the old regime, a man held in due remembrance by many a rollicking soldier or mirth-loving civilian. "Fitz" was educated in war, and was a worthy comrade of Phil Kearny, the hero of Chantilly, who also was a major of dragoons and served for a time in Oregon. Guided by John F. Miller, the combined party swept onward and never drew rein until Evans Ferry was reached, where they were told of the death of Isaac Shelton, a Willamette Valley man, who, while on his way to Yreka, was shot by the Indians near the ferry while preparing his breakfast. He received four wounds, poor fellow, and lingered twenty hours. From there the raging savages, traveling rapidly away from the reservation, had proceeded along the road, butchering whomever they met and burning every house they came to, as they passed through the thinly settled region. Two men driving a wagon loaded with apples were next met with whom they pursued and killed, one at a distance of a mile and a quarter from the ferry, the other a mile further.
THE NEXT VICTIM FOUNDwas a man named Jones, one of the few settlers along the road. He had been shot near his house, and his body was partially eaten by hogs before it was found. His wife, fleeing toward the brush when the attack began, was shot at by an Indian and her spinal column fractured by the bullet. Falling to the ground, the poor creature had dragged herself to cover but was searched for and found by the bloody miscreants, one of whom presented his revolver and in spite of her prayers shot her again, the second bullet passing through her arm. She fell senseless, and the Indian doubtless imagining her dead, hastily left. She recovered her senses late in the day and being found was taken to Tuft's place near the river and died, for she lived a day only. O. P. Robbins, Jones' partner, happened to be away from home at the time hunting the cows. He saw the house on fire and heard the yelling of the Indians, and surmising the trouble went to Tuft's place for assistance. The Indians had been before him, however, and had fired at the house and wounded Mrs. Tuft, who recovered.
Trooping in disorder along the road, the savages next attacked two men who were transporting provisions to the mines. Killing them both, they took the horses from the wagon and turned them loose in the woods, where the relief party found them. The harness they piled upon the wagon and set the whole on fire, and it was consumed. Coming next to J. B. Wagoner's place, they found only Mrs. Wagoner with her little girl Mary at home, several persons having left but a very short time previous. This house they set on fire and barbarously murdered the lady and dragged her child away a captive to their bestial abodes.
The relief party found the body of Mrs. Wagoner lying, charred and almost unrecognizable, amid the ruins of the house. The little girl was taken by the Indians to the Meadows, on lower Rogue River, according to their accounts, but died some weeks after. According to tradition, Mrs. Wagoner was compelled to remain in her dwelling while it burned, and was last seen by the savages standing before her glass arranging her hair!
As Fitzgerald's force came in sight of the scene of the Wagoner tragedy some half-dozen men who were in advance caught a view of the burned domicile, with the corpse of the unfortunate woman, and simultaneously became aware of a number of Indians partly concealed in the brush. Seeing the smallness of the force opposed to them, and not being aware of the regulars' proximity, the insolent murderers shouted a challenge to the whites to come and fight them. At the next instant the military burst into view, and giving the astonished redskins no chance to hide, charged them with the utmost vigor and kept them on the jump for two miles, killing six. Then the party returned to the road and proceeded northward to Haines' house, where lay the corpses of the owner and his little son, the latter's brains dashed out and the body perforated by bullets. Haines, lying sick in bed, attended by his wife and their two children, had been surprised by the savages, who shot him and his son, and taking the wife and her daughter with them, passed on to Harris' house, the next settlement north. What they did here appears in the following:
THE MURDER OF HARRIS.As the relief party approached Harris' house, no signs of human occupancy were visible, and an air of desolation lay upon the scene. The outbuildings had been burned, and wreaths of smoke rose slowly from the ruins. Dismounting, some of the party passed within the house. The spectacle that met their eyes was a terrible one. In the room lay the body of the ill-fated owner, pierced by a bullet. The signs of a determined attack and resistance were visible in the bullet-marked doors and walls. Whatever the termination of the contest [was] could not be ascertained, and as the party felt that it would be a waste of time to remain, the order was given to mount and push on. As the cavalcade passed a willow thicket not far from the now-abandoned homestead, a cry was heard and a woman, begrimed and disheveled, rushed out, leading a wounded child by the hand, and implored the aid of the troops. It was Mrs. Harris, who, having with the courage of a lioness defended her hearth and her family from the attacks of a large party of murderous Indians, had after their withdrawal taken refuge in the willow copse and there awaited the arrival of succor. When the troops gathered about her house she had watched with anxious eyes, too far off to distinguish whether they were whites sent to relieve or red men bent to complete their horrible work. Her story is one of the most extraordinary in the whole range of frontier narrative, and forms the leading episode of the terrible massacre which is now being recounted. The story of Mrs. Harris has been finely told at great length by Mr. Turner in the Overland Monthly. These details are gathered from the accounts preserved in the recollection of contemporaries.
In the Harris domicile resided five persons--Mr. and Mrs. Harris, their two children, [Sophia], a girl of twelve, and David, somewhat younger. The fifth was Frank A. Reed, a lame man, partner or employee of Harris. When the first alarm of Indians was given, the latter attempted to escape to the woods, but was pursued and killed. His skeleton was found a year afterward. The boy David, who was at some distance from the house, was last seen running across a field. Subsequent trace of him was never found, but it is supposed that he was murdered and his body concealed. Mr. Harris was a few rods from the house when the redskins appeared, and in attempting to retreat to its shelter was fired at and mortally wounded as he stood upon the threshold of his own door. His wife drew him into the house and closed and barred the door, and obedient to her husband's advice, brought the firearms--a rifle, double-barreled shotgun and revolver--and loading them, began to return the fire of the miscreants, who remained close to the house. Her husband was dying in agony the while, and of the two children, one, the boy, was she knew not where, but supposed with reason that he had already met the cruel fate which impended over them all. The child [Sophia] had been painfully wounded in the arm, and the terrified sufferer climbed the ladder which led to the attic and there remained for several hours, the mute witness of the, to her, terrible conflict. While the Indians remained in the vicinity--a length of time that Mrs. Harris could never after form an approximation to, owing to her state of mind--they kept beyond reach of danger from her fire, but repeatedly attempted to cast burning brands upon the roof over her head, intending thereby to cremate all that the house contained. In an hour, more or less, the husband and father breathed his last, and his bloody corpse with its wide-staring eyes and the expression of agony into which its features were molded added tenfold to the terrific nature of the surroundings which confronted the poor and despairing woman. Through the scene of horror she kept up such an effective resistance in such directions and at such intervals as served to intimidate the savages, but probably not succeeding in any case in hitting any of them. Unfortunately this poor woman, who was suffering so much from
THE CRUELTY OF HER ASSAILANTS,was not able to revenge herself effectually upon them, for never having even fired a gun before and gaining her knowledge even of how to load one by the instructions of her wounded husband, given in the first few minutes of the attack, it was as much as she could do to load and fire, hoping that the show of resistance might, as it did, keep her foes at a distance. She steadily loaded her weapons and discharged them through the crevices of the logs of which the house was built, and the Indians, though numerous, dared not attack the building. They burned the outbuildings, however, first removing the horses from their stable. In the afternoon they decamped, leaving the dauntless woman mistress of the field and the savior of her own and her daughter's life. As soon as she was assured of their departure, she called her daughter down from the loft and with her took refuge in the willow copse, and remained there until the arrival of the relief party, as before said. By them she was removed to a place of safety. The heroism of the Puritan women of New England is matched in the account of Mrs. Harris.
The relief party went on to Harkness & Twogood's tavern, at Grave Creek, finding there a company of about twenty armed men from Cow Creek, who had been hastily gathered and led to the scene of hostilities by Capt. Jacob S. Rinearson. On the next day they returned to Jacksonville, as the savages had quite disappeared and the whites who lived in exposed localities had taken refuge in strongholds.
It happened that on the morning of the 9th, Judge Deady, who was returning from holding court at Jacksonville, in company with Dr. J. W. Drew, setting out early on their northward journey, took breakfast at the Wagoner house a few hours before the arrival of the murderous savages. A Miss Pellet, well known in Oregon at that time as a temperance lecturer, was also at Wagoner's, awaiting a conveyance which was to take her on her way to Crescent City. Judge Deady and his fellow traveler left first, and soon after the lecturer set out for Vannoy's ferry, escorted by Mr. Wagoner. Very soon after their departure the house was infested, and Mrs. Wagoner, who with her daughter were the sole tenants, fell easy victims to savage brutality. The three travelers escaped narrowly indeed, for so close had been the call that Messrs. Deady and Drew, looking back from the summit of a hill near Grave Creek, saw the smoke of burning buildings, but did not know the cause until overtaken by the news of the fire catastrophe.
The victims numbered nineteen. The first that fell was Wm. Going, or Goin, a Missourian, who was employed by the government as teamster on the Table Rock reservation. At 2 o'clock on the fateful morning, while it was yet dark, and before the Indians had left the reservation on their way down the river, this man in conversation with Charles Schieffelin in a little house on the reserve, stood, or rather leaned, with his elbow upon the rude mantle of a fireplace, and while in the act of speaking, a bullet fired from without the house entered his heart. In the darkness Mr. Schieffelin escaped, and crossing the river to his claim on the south side, found in the morning that the savages had stolen several of his horses, as well as some of his neighbor's, Mr. Birdseye. Poor Schieffelin, who, by the way, gave to the writer a great part of the facts included in this account, went this year to join the silent majority. Of his sons, two were the lucky discoverers of the Tombstone mines in Arizona, and the invincible explorers of the inner wilds, the terra incognita, of Alaska. Another son lives philosophically on a farm in Washington County, not twenty miles from Portland--a worthy citizen, sensibly preferring the quiet of agricultural pursuits to the perils and hardships which had characterized his brothers' lives.
The following list, which differs somewhat from others published, shows the names of the victims: Wm. Going, Wm. Hamilton, J. E. Powell, James White, Isaac Shelton, ---- Fox, Burris and son, Frank A. Reed, Haines, Mrs. Haines and two children, Mrs. J. B. Wagoner and daughter Mary, Jones and wife, and Bunch. Total, nineteen.
INCIDENTS.Dr. Drew stopped on his way north at Turner's, where ten men were gathered, and offered to assist in the defense of the place. This was on the evening of the 9th. The next night he spent on horseback, pursuing his way to the Umpqua Valley to give the alarm and to write and forward a letter to the papers describing the difficulty and asking help from the people of the Willamette Valley. As soon as the facts became known, the inhabitants of Douglas and Umpqua counties felt the greatest consternation, and like those of the Rogue River Valley, "forted up." Some of the old log houses used in that day as forts still may be seen, ruinous indeed, but thrilling mementos of a time of danger. The best preserved building of the sort which has come under the writer's notice stands in Flournoy Valley, an offshoot of the Lookingglass Valley, west of Roseburg. Its thick walls are loopholed for musketry, its second and highest story overhangs the lower, and its roof, easily accessible from within, could have resisted the efforts of savage besiegers to fire it.
The first tidings of the calamity which had overtaken the devoted settlers on the beautiful banks of the Rogue were exaggerated in their travel to the Willamette Valley newspaper office. "Clarendon" [C. S. Drew] writing to his friend Dryer, set the number of slain at thirty-one. Capt. Sheffield, of Cow Creek, one of the first to go to the assistance of the helpless inhabitants of the northern Josephine, gave a list of thirty, of whom the names of only half were known. Subsequent investigations have reduced these natural exaggerations to the number given herein. Sheffield spoke of two brothers named Arnett being murdered in Illinois Valley, but of this there is no confirmatory evidence, unless, indeed, the publication of this article may serve to elicit such.
Wagoner, the bereaved father and husband, returning from Vannoy's, whither he had conducted Miss Pellet, when he approached his home found it on fire and encircled by howling savages. By them he was not observed, and feeling his inability to cope with them, unarmed as he was, he rushed in the utmost haste toward Evans' ferry, to obtain help to rescue his beloved ones. Reaching the Jones place he saw the owner's dead body, and in the road below lay the murdered travelers. Returning as soon as he could obtain even one man to accompany him, he flew rather than ran to his home, only to find his wife's body smoldering among the ruins and his child gone, he knew not whither.
The mail carrier had that morning got as far as Wagoner's, where he was joined by two men. A little way beyond, on the way to Evans' ferry, they met a band of ten or fifteen Indians, armed and stripped as for war. Getting past these they met a second band, a few hundred yards or so beyond, when the two bands began howling and firing on them, they being in the middle. The whites had to take to the woods, and making a detour, got back to Wagoner's only to find the house in flames and Indians surrounding it, yelling and dancing. Taking again to the woods, they traveled northward for some time, passing near Harris', where five or six shots were heard and flames were seen arising. Regaining the road where they adjudged it safe they kept on toward the north, giving the alarm and causing the settlers and travelers on that part of the road to seek safety at the Grave Creek House, where no disturbance had occurred. No murderers were perpetrated on that day by the Indians on the remaining portion of the road, but all the inhabitants left their homes as far north as the Canyon, and the vacant tenements were mostly burned. Only two or three buildings were left between Evans' ferry and Turner's station, near the northern boundary of Josephine County. At Turner's a number of men stood guard, while all those who could be spared joined Rinearson and Sheffield, and effectually patrolled the dangerous space on the road. The savages came no further north, but plunged into the rough, mountainous country to the west, and secluded themselves from the whites and for a time delayed the vengeance which was destined to fall upon them eventually. Their hiding place was well chosen. It is a country of craggy mountains, of precipices and steep gorges, of impenetrable jungles and baffling thickets. It contains as many mountains as can find room to stand. The streams, which are numerous, icy cold and crystal clear, flow in narrow canyons, leaving the bases of frowning hills. The sun never penetrates to the bottoms of these wild gorges, which are as wild, gloomy and silent today as they were in the times when red and white men began to glut their immortal hates upon each other. How they fared in these noisome solitudes, and how they felt the approach of famine as their natural enemies encircled their haunts, and how desperation animated them to other and yet other deeds, no historian has ever told. But the account of their subjugation may yet be seen in print.
Sunday Oregonian, Portland, December 20, 1885, page 3
(Correspondence of the Crescent City Herald.)
Sailor Diggings, Oct. 16th, 1855.
Messrs. Editors of Crescent [City] Herald.--I send you by the messenger of Hart & Co.'s Express an account of the proceedings of the Sailor Diggings and Indian Creek companies, that started in pursuit of the Indian murderers of Messrs. Hudson and Wilson.
The above-named companies met on the summit of the Siskiyou Mountains on the evening of the 10th inst., near the place where the murder and robbery was committed; neither company being apprised of the fact that they were to be joined by the other. On the morning of the 11th we started on the trail which had been made by the murderers and animals of the deceased.
The marauders apparently had designedly taken precaution to travel through such places as would render their trail difficult to be followed, being through brush and over precipices, which seemed to be almost impassable.
On the 12th we arrived at a camp near the headwaters of Sucker Creek which had been occupied apparently not more than twenty-four hours before.
Our provisions becoming scarce we did not stop for dinner, but continued our march until about 2 o'clock p.m., when we arrived at a spur of the mountain in the immediate vicinity of the Applegate. As we were descending this spur where there was an opening of about seventy-five yards width, Mr. Wood, the leader of the Indian Creek company, discovered a mule a few yards in front of us, upon which was an Indian saddle; he paused to mention the fact to those of the companies who had reached the opening, when a brisk fire was commenced upon us from the brush on our left. We retreated a few yards down the hill to the right, when Mr. Joseph Scott, the leader of the Sailor Diggings company and an old and skillful Indian fighter, discovered a rancheria about 150 yards in advance, in the edge of a piece of heavy timber. He fired at some Indians that were in that vicinity and ordered us to charge upon them. We hastened to the timber, when we were fired upon from the brush in front and [on] each side of us. A retreat was disastrous, and there was no alternative but to charge upon them in these several directions. By so doing, after a fight of some ten or fifteen minutes, the Indians were dispelled and had collected in a body in advance. We pursued them about a half mile when a gun was heard near where our men were left with the animals, and supposing that an attack had been made upon them, we hastened to their relief, at which time the Indians took flight down a bluff of the mountain.
One of our men, Mr. Madison, was wounded in the hand, but not seriously.
Several Indians were in appearance severely wounded, but it is not certain that any were killed.
Having no provisions except flour left, and finding none in the rancheria, it became necessary for us to return to a settlement as soon as possible. We therefore sacked the rancheria and collected the animals, thirteen in number, some of which belonged to Hudson and Wilson, and started on our return.
We reached Sailor Diggings last evening without having met with any serious accident.
Crescent City Herald, October 17, 1855, page 2
Office Indian Agent,Sir--Whilst engaged in writing you a few lines yesterday morning, I received a message from Capt. Smith, informing me that the volunteers had made a descent upon a small band of Indians, camped about two miles from Fort Lane, in which several Indians were killed. I immediately repaired to the scene of action and found that Sambo's band of Indians had been attacked just at the break of day, simultaneous with an attack upon Jake's people, who were camped about one-half mile above Thompson's ferry (better known to you by the name of Camp Alden), on the bank of the river. Capt. Smith sent a detachment of dragoons to inform themselves of the nature of the difficulties, and to see what had been done; upon arriving at Sambo's camp were found two dead women; one had died a natural death, and one had recently been shot. I learned from Sambo that one woman was slightly wounded, and that two boys had been wounded, each shot in the arm. They were all taken to Fort Lane and provided for.
Rogue River Valley, O.T.
October 9th, 1855.
We then proceeded to Jake's camp, where we found twenty-three dead bodies, and a boy who escaped said he saw two women floating down the river, and it is quite probable several more were killed whose bodies were not found. I had apprehended danger, and had so informed the Indians several days previous, and Capt. Smith had notified the Indians that if they wanted protection they had to come onto the reserve or to Fort Lane. It seems from their statements that they had concluded to go on the reserve, and had accordingly started on Sunday evening, leaving the old men and women behind to follow on Monday. In the meantime this attack was made quite early in the morning, which resulted as above stated. There were found killed eight men, four of whom were very aged, and fifteen women and children, all belonging to Jake's band. The attack was so early in the morning, it is more than probable that the women were indistinguishable from the men.
Upon the part of the whites, James Lupton, the captain of the company, received a mortal wound, from the effects of which he has since died, and a young man by the name of Shepherd is supposed to be mortally wounded. Several others slightly.
The night following this affair, the Indians rallied together, killed some cattle on Butte Creek, and it is supposed have since joined old man John, who I suppose had been waiting some time for a pretext to commence hostilities, only desiring the assistance of some other Indians, which this unfortunate occurrence secured to him--that of the Butte Creek at any rate--and I apprehend many disaffected Indians will join. On Monday night a young man by the name of Wm. Gwin, in the employ of the Agency, who was engaged at work on the west end of the reserve in company with some Indians, near old John's house, was killed and his body was horribly mutilated, cut across the forehead and face with an ax, apparently as he lay asleep; they then destroyed or took off what provisions and tools that were at camp. They then repaired to Mr. Jewett's ferry, killed one man who was camped at the ferry, and wounded two others. Next I heard of them at Evans' ferry, where they fired at the inmates of the house as they passed, wounding one man, supposed to be mortally. They had with them, at the time they passed, several American horses and mules which they had doubtless stolen the night previous. Mr. Birdseye lost three or four, and Dr. Miller several, Mr. Schieffelin one; they were seen by Mr. Birdseye running some mules off that morning.
Old Chief Sam gathered his and Elijah's people together and protected the hands who were employed to work on that part of the reserve, as also the cattle and other property belonging to the Agency. Neither he nor his people want war, nor do I believe they can be made to fight except in self-defense.
The whole populace of the country have become enraged, and intense excitement prevails everywhere, and I apprehend it will be useless to try to restrain those Indians in any way, other than to kill them off. Nor do I believe it will be safe for Sam and his people to remain here, if any other disposition can be made of them; it should by all means be attended to immediately. I doubt very much if the military will be able to afford them the requisite protection.
Sam entertains the opinion that Jake's people will fight till they are all killed off; John will doubtless do the same.
I hardly believe that either Limpy or George desire a war, but have no doubt many of their people will engage with those that do, and possibly they may too. Neither of them or their people are upon the reservation, nor have not been for some weeks, and should either of them be caught sight of, they will most certainly be shot.
Taking all circumstances into consideration, I think it hardly possible to avert the most disastrous and terrible war that this country has ever been threatened with.
Oct. 10th. Whilst waiting an opportunity to send my former communication, additional news has come to hand. After the wounding of those men at Evans' ferry, the Indians pursued the main traveled road towards the Canyon, where I learned from a company of packers who have just arrived that they saw seven dead men lying in the road in different places between Mr. Evans' ferry and Mr. Wagoner's--several trains had been robbed--and several wagons had been plundered, and I suspect every person who passed the road has been killed. I expect to have to record still sadder news before the week closes. A greater destruction of life will probably never be caused by the same number of people, or more horrid atrocities be perpetrated, than by those Shasta Indians. They are well provided with arms, both guns and revolvers, and skillful in the use of them. I do not believe more desperate or reckless men ever lived upon the earth, and I have no doubt but that they have made up their minds to fight till they die.
Very respectfully yours, &c.,Gen. Palmer, Sup't. Ind. Affairs,
G. H. AMBROSE,
----Oct. 11. Today a dispatch arrived from Major Fitzgerald, who was in pursuit of the Indians. From his statement, it appears that all the houses between Evans' ferry and Jump-off Jo Creek were destroyed by fire. Mrs. Jones escaped wounded, with her little girl, to Mr. Vannoy's. [She had no little girl; Mrs. Jones died soon after.] Mrs. Wagoner and little daughter were both burned in their house--probably massacred first. Her husband was away from home at the time. Mrs. Harris escaped. Her husband was killed and her little girl wounded in the arm. I am unable to give you the names of the killed. The Major discovered ten Indians on horseback--pursuit was immediately made and five of them killed under full jump. The others got into the mountains and escaped. Sam and his people are camped at Fort Lane, where they will have to be provided for. They are willing to submit to anything for the sake of peace. From Maj. Fitzgerald's note, I learn it is quite probable that George and all his people will join with old John, and I am satisfied nearly or quite all of Limpy's and the Applegates will unite with them, with probably one or two exceptions. The Scotans are in for a free fight, and have been for two months past. I have but little doubt of eighty-five or one hundred Indians uniting, exclusive of a number of disaffected Indians belonging to surrounding bands. G.H.A.
----Evans' ferry, Oct. 12. I learn from Major Fitzgerald that he found two more dead bodies yesterday, and no doubt any longer exists but that George and all his people will take part with the Shastas. If it is possible for you to come out here, you had better come, or give me specific instructions.
G. H. Ambrose.
"Rogue River War," Pioneer and Democrat, Olympia, Washington, October 26, 1855, pages 2-3
The Yreka Union of the 13th contains the following additional intelligence:
On Tuesday morning, 9th inst., a large party of Indians collected and started down Rogue River, killing every white man who happened to fall in their way. At Evans' Ferry they found two or three men whom they murdered, and then left the river for Wagoner's on Louse Creek. Just before they reached W.'s they were met by a party of packers with a large train, who saw from their appearance that there was something wrong with them. Frequently the packers looked back and saw Wagoner's barn on fire and heard the screams of women and children in the house; they then cut loose their packs and ran for their lives--the Indians pursued them closely, killing one of their mules.
They counted in their flight the bodies of seventeen white men who had been murdered along the road. Many of these were teamsters, and their loads had been scattered in every direction by the Indians in searching for ammunition and liquor. From Wagoner's it appears that the Indians, now nearly all drunk, again started down Rogue River, burning and murdering as they went. On Wednesday they were overtaken by Maj. Fitzgerald with eighty men and a battle fought, in which thirty Indians and ten soldiers are reported to have been killed.
Mrs. Wagoner and child were murdered, and five other families along the route pursued by the Indians are said to have shared the same fate. The whole number of whites who have already fallen, from the best accounts, is between 30 and 50.
New Orleans Daily Crescent, November 20, 1855, page 1
ROGUE RIVER WAR.
Correspondence of the N.Y. Tribune
San Francisco, Monday, Oct. 15, 1855.
Having passed through Oregon, from Portland to Jacksonville and out to Crescent City, within the last eighteen days--leaving Jacksonville and Fort Lane a week ago this morning--I may give you as authentic intelligence as you will receive from any source. Before leaving Willamette Valley old residents of the country remarked the smokiness of the atmosphere, telling us it was less smoky in 1853, when the Rogue River war was in progress. They said the mountain atmosphere was very clear when there were no fires in the mountains, and that these fires were kindled by the Indians as war signals, and they feared a general outbreak. But all seemed quiet as we passed on through the Umpqua and out by the cañon--which would be a terrible place to encounter a band of desperate red men, it being the worst pass for a wagon road I ever saw--and on through Rogue River Valley. Yet the people were apprehensive of danger as we neared Jacksonville, for the report of the attack on wagoners in California, near the Oregon line, had reached the valley, and the memory of 1853 revived.
At Jacksonville the excitement was intense. The report was believed that Gen. Wool had come up from California for the purpose of prosecuting the war; that he had recommended the organization of volunteer companies, and given the soldiers at Fort Lane permission to volunteer, which they had immediately done to the number of sixty, under command of Col. Alston. At Sterling, the same day, Sunday, Oct. 7, a volunteer company was made up under command of Smiley Harris, and I came to Jacksonville toward evening. They were to meet a company from Bear River, and another from Butte Creek, and before morning attack on Butte Creek some of John's Indians--about twelve in number--who, with others to the number of twenty-five, had been stopping several days in the same place, and could be easily surrounded and cut off. John's men had long been lawless, and it was hoped they would now be destroyed. We breakfasted on Monday at Fort Lane, after a ten miles' morning ride from Jacksonville, and then learned that General Wool was not there, nor was he expected; that the volunteer companies were not authorized by the officers at the fort, and the soldiers were all there--two companies, one hundred and fourteen each. Capt. Smith, our host, pointed to eight or ten Indian women and children, who had come to the fort for protection about daybreak. The men at the fort had heard firing a little while before, and soon learned that the volunteer companies had not found the company of John's tribe, as they expected, for John's men had heard of the intended attack and gone off upon the reservation. The volunteers then went to a rancheria, containing at the time two men, and women and children to make up a dozen, fired into it, killing one old woman and slightly wounding another. [The actual toll of the Lupton massacre was much higher.] The woman killed was Sam's mother, and the company were Sam's Indians. This Sam was chief of perhaps a hundred men, whom the Shasta Indians had long tried to induce to join them against the whites, but Sam had hitherto refused. Whether this outrage would induce him to turn, Capt. Smith did not know. He thought whatever lawlessness the Indians committed, the whites were the aggressors, as in this instance. He said if John's men had been cut off it would have been unjust, for they had been peaceably fishing and drying salmon for several days, and he did not think they had hostile intentions. I left the fort in company with Mrs. Wagoner, from whose house, thirty miles from Jacksonville, she had attended me on Saturday. [Mrs. Wagoner would be killed the next day.] Mr. Rosenstock, our escort, and Dr. Drew of Jacksonville, and Judge Deady, also joined us at the fort, and were going to the Willamette Valley, and the latter to his home. He had been holding court as district judge at Jacksonville. It was his opinion that the movements of the volunteers might arouse the Indians to desperation, and that a general attack was to be feared. We called at the house of Dr. Ambrose, the Indian agent, who had an engagement with the judge to attend him to the Willamette; but when we called he had just received a summons from the fort to go there directly. Judge Deady bid him good morning, and told him to come on to Mr. Wagoner's, where he would spend the night, and go on with him in the morning. As we proceeded we heard a report that one or two hundred Indians, armed and mostly mounted, were on the road down the valley, the way we were going; also that a horse and a keg of whiskey had been stolen on Saturday night from the premises of Mr. Wagoner, and that he had sent after and recovered them by some of George's Indians, whose encampment was near his house. On reaching our destination, and indeed all along the road, we found at every house renewed fear of the Indians. But George's tribe were about Mr. Wagoner's house, nor did he seem to feel in danger. One of these friendly Indians came to him in the night and told him that a keg of whiskey had been stolen, and he hired him to bring it back. Sunday morning he found that a fine horse belonging to a Dr. Carpenter of Sacramento, who was traveling for pleasure through the country, had been taken from the house. One of George's men was hired to go after it, and succeeded in bringing it back, but its shoulders were swollen with hard riding. All was quiet here, however. At 8 next day Dr. Drew and Judge Deady went on. I waited for attendance toward Crescent City, taking my horse, which I had left here to recruit. At 10½ o'clock, Mr. Wagoner could go with me. I had tried to obtain a little Indian girl for guide, but her mother was afraid to let her go, she said. When we left the house, Mr. Wagoner and her little girl, six years of age, were the only whites; but a half dozen of George's Indians were there round the door. They had breakfasted at Mr. W.'s table, which they often did. Mrs. W. could talk the Chinook with them as well as any of them, and did not fear to be left. When we were a half mile or more from the house I heard a musket report, and asked Mr. W. what it meant. He said it was one of George's men shooting game--said they were good shots. I heard another report, but thought no more of it. We rode by a blind trail to Vannoy's ferry, where I was to take a good wagon road and could go alone. We found Mr. Vannoy much excited. A man came past an hour and a half before, saying that he took breakfast at Mr. Jones', four miles from Mr. Wagoner's, on the Jacksonville road, and after breakfast had occasion to go off the track on an errand, and returning in sight of the house it was in flames and the haystacks also, and he heard reports of guns and the cries of women. Mr. Vannoy had sent the half dozen men he had with him to alarm the neighbors and put them on guard. Mr. Wagoner, of course, was in fear lest his house was attacked, but I think did not recall the musket report that we heard. He hastened back. I came on my way. Reaching Sailors Diggings I found that there had been a mule train attacked near there and three Indians had been shot, and all though Illinois Valley the people were preparing to resist. Indeed, the general sentiment was that the Indians must be destroyed. This position they say seems hard, but there is no other way; if an Indian is fed and cared for ninety-nine days and on the hundredth he gets any inattention, he will resent it, and it is those who have been best treated that often do the injury, and there is no trusting any of them. There is considerable bitterness toward the officers at Fort Lane on account of the want of interest manifested, it is charged, in suppressing the robbers and stopping their depredations. The report came by expressman when I was at Crescent City, confirming what I feared, that Mrs. Wagoner and child were killed and the house and barn fired in a few minutes after Mr. Wagoner and myself left. The Indians were a company of Shastas, who had been joined perhaps by John's and Sam's tribes after the Sunday night's work of the volunteers on Butte Creek--for the volunteers had attacked three encampments and killed twenty-four Indians, which Captain Waite and his soldiers buried on Monday, and enough more to make forty. It was supposed after this the Indians had come down Rogue River, burning and murdering all the way. They had attacked wagons, killed the men, and taken horses and whiskey and guns, and whatever else they could appropriate; and a mule train near Mr. Wagoner was left by the men when they saw the Indians firing the house and murdering the inmates. These men, in going to Jacksonville, had seen dead bodies all along the road. The house at Evans' ferry, eight miles from Wagoner's, Jones' house, four miles, and Wagoner's, and two further down toward the Willamette were reported and destroyed. With the scattered position of the people in Rogue River and Illinois valleys there can be no protection on the property, and the only safety of the people is in meeting and placing themselves in condition to defend their lives. The war is one of extermination, designed on both sides; but the Indians will of course be defeated. The government troops were immediately dispatched in chase down Rogue River Valley, under Major Fitzgerald. The Governor of California has ordered three companies sent up to Northern California, and yesterday the Columbia carried up troops to the Oregon.
There is a general combination of the Indians in Washington and Oregon territories, and the war will be a very bloody one, not equaled for atrocity in the annals of the past, perhaps.
Rogue River Correspondence of the Statesman.On the 9th inst., an express arrived at Jacksonville bringing information of an attack of the Indians upon the settlers on Rogue River at or below the ferries, and desiring immediate assistance. Accordingly 15 or 20 men immediately left. Another express having been sent to Ft. Lane, Capt. Smith dispatched a detachment of 55 mounted men under the command of Maj. Fitzgerald. The volunteers and regulars joined forces, numbering in all about 85 men. Upon their arrival at the residence of J. B. Wagoner, his house, barns and outbuildings were burned to the ground and the charred remains of Mrs. Wagoner and her child, 4 years old, were found in the ruins. Some five or six of the volunteers being in advance of the main body discovered about 30 of the Indians in the chaparral back of the house, who immediately bantered them for a fight, when the major came up with the main body of his men and charged upon them, killing 6. The Indians fled to the mountains, being well mounted, and were pursued about 2 miles; but from the exhausted condition of the command from the 25 miles march already made, it was found impossible to overtake them. The pursuit was accordingly given up that they might proceed along the road for the protection of travelers and settlers upon it. Arriving at the residence of Geo. W. Harris, which was to appearances deserted, he was found dead within, shot through the breast with a jaeger rifle. Suddenly their attention was directed to Mrs. Harris and her daughter, 11 years of age, rushing from the chaparral near the house to them, blackened with powder and stained with blood. And here we have to report one of the most remarkable instances of female heroism and courage upon record, an account of which should be handed down to posterity as an instance of bravery in woman under the most trying and heart-rending circumstances. I will give the account in Mrs. Harris' own language, as nearly as possible:
EVANS' FERRY, Oct. 11, 1855.
At almost 8 or 9 o'clock of the morning of the 9th of October, 1855, as her husband was engaged in making shingles near the house and she was washing at the back of the house, he suddenly entered with the axe in his hand much alarmed, the house being surrounded by Indians, whose countenances and manner indicated that their intentions were not good. He seized his rifle, but in endeavoring to close the door was fired upon by them, the ball taking effect as before stated. Mechanically he discharged the gun twice at them, as she believes with no effect, and passing across the room fell upon the floor. The daughter in the excitement of the moment rushed out the front door, where she was shot through the right arm between the shoulder and elbow. The husband, reviving, encouraged his wife to bar the doors and load the guns of which there were a rifle, a shotgun and two pistols and revolver and holster pistol. She replied that she never loaded a gun in her life. He then proposed to give them presents to induce them to leave; she replied it would not answer, upon which he instructed her in the manner of loading the guns, and shortly after expired. She now was left entirely dependent upon her own efforts--her husband dead--her daughter severely wounded. Not discouraged, she commenced a vigorous discharge upon the savages, who were endeavoring to fire the house, having already burned the outbuildings. She then continued to defend herself and daughter, she watching at one end of the house and the child at the other, for eight hours, and until about sundown, when the savages, being attracted by a firing on the flats about a mile below the house, left to discover from whence it proceeded. She embraced the opportunity and fled to a small, isolated thicket or chaparral near the house, taking with them only the holster pistol. Having barely secreted themselves before the Indians again approached the house, but finding it abandoned, they commenced scouring the thicket, about 18 in number, all armed with rifles. Upon their close approach she discharged the pistol, which produced a general stampede. This was repeated several times and always with the same result until finally surrounding the thicket they remained till daylight. Her ammunition was now exhausted. She heard the approach of horsemen, at which the Indians became alarmed and concealed themselves in the rear of the thicket. She discovering the horsemen to be whites rushed out towards them, but they had advanced so far beyond that they did not discover her. They were the advance of the volunteers. Concealing herself again with the empty pistol in hand, the main body soon approached, when the savages precipitously fled.
Mrs. Harris having sent her little son, 10 years of age, to a neighboring house the evening previous, has not since heard from him, but he is supposed to be murdered. Also Frank Reed, the partner of Mr. Harris, is supposed to have been killed.
This party of Indians escaped to the mountains. The company proceeded as far as Grave Creek, where all was quiet, and it was deemed unnecessary to remain, and they accordingly returned this morning, both men and animals completely exhausted.
Capt. J. F. Miller takes charge of the volunteers tomorrow, to pursue the Indians, by request of Maj. Fitzgerald and the unanimous desire of the volunteers. He has just returned from Table Rock, at which place was fought a desperate battle at daybreak on the 8th. The Indians were completely routed, leaving 31 of their number on the ground. Of the whites, 12 were wounded, two mortally--Maj. J. A. Lupton and one Mr. Shepherd. Maj. L. was shot with an arrow in the left lung and lingered till 10 o'clock of the same day. His obsequies were celebrated at Jacksonville yesterday.
A sufficient force cannot possibly be brought into action on account of the great scarcity of arms [and] ammunition. The greatest patriotism is exhibited generally, and all the necessary resources are afforded most cheerfully by the inhabitants, as far as it is in their power to do so.
Following is the number killed as far as can be learned, and their names in the order in which they were killed. The Indians proceeded directly down the river. The first attacked were at or near Jewett's Ferry, a train loaded with mill irons. Mr. Hamilton was killed, and another, name unknown, wounded in four places. After firing upon Jewett's house, they proceeded to this place, which they reached about daybreak. Here they shot one Isaac Shelton of Willamette, en route for Yreka, who lingering for 20 hours, died this morning, Oct. 10. They next attacked the house of Mr. Jones, who was killed as before stated. From there to Wagoner's, shooting the 4 persons found upon the way, and from thence to Harris'.
Nos. 3 and 4: The men driving the apple wagon were found about 6 miles from the ferry, in the middle of the road; the first lay some 50 yards from the wagon, and the second about 100 yards from the same--wagon and loading burned; harness cut in pieces. Two of the horses supposed to belong to the wagon were recovered today by the volunteers, one a grey and the other a bay mare. A receipt drawn by Mark Abrams & Co. of Deer Creek is now in my possession and can be obtained at the Jacksonville P.O. of S. H. Taylor. A book was found in possession of one of the Indians, which purported to belong to one Geo. B. Miller. Orders, receipt &c. show him to have been a packer. Whether he was one of the deceased interred here we cannot learn. The book can be obtained at the Jacksonville P.O.
No. 3: 6 feet in height, tall, spare built, dark complexion, also dark hair, hazel eyes, large, prominent front teeth; deep blue undershirt, a mixed grey outside of it. Tweed pants with black buttons. Stockings with white feet and mixed grey legs--woolen.
No. 4: Supposed to be a brother of the preceding, also 6 feet in height; description same. Dressed in hickory shirt; mixed satinet coat, red lining, with figures of white. Fish hook and line were found in his pocket.
The two last individuals are supposed to be from Franklin nursery, Marion Co., O.T., as they were connected with teams freighted with apples, and near them was found a contract signed by one George Suttlemire, in favor of Sam Belshaw, the supposed name of the deceased.
No. 2: A middle-aged man, 35 or 40 years of age, 6 feet in height, light complexion, dark auburn hair, thick, heavy whiskers and mustache, large blue eyes, deep blue woolen shirt or frock, grey woolen pants with metal buttons. One shoe, no stockings. One wound just above the heart, passing out at the right of [the] backbone. Not recognized, particularly, but supposed to be a Mr. Cooper, of Albany, O.T.
(The above answers the description of an insane man named Hoag, who has been in Corvallis all summer, and started to the mines about a month ago. It was probably him.)
No. 1 was found about one mile and a quarter from Evans' ferry, fifty feet from road; was identified as being passed in the canyon on the 4th or 5th of this month; was riding a roan cayuse horse, driving ten or twelve head of beef cattle. Supposed to have been killed about 6 o'clock, a.m., Oct. 9.
No. 2 was found about two miles and a quarter from Evans' ferry. Evidently belonged to same party. A hat and whip were found about midway between the last two.
Mr. Jones was found at his residence, about four miles from the ferry, his house burned to the ground, and he nearly devoured by hogs. From appearances his skull was broken, as but a part of it was found. His wife received two wounds at the same time; is now at Illinois Valley, still alive.
Description of persons found killed upon the road between Evans' ferry and Mr. Wagoner's, and brought in and buried at said ferry Oct. 10, 1855:
No. 1: A young man, apparently about 25 years of age, 5 feet 10 inches in height, light complexion, sandy whiskers and mustache, blue eyes; dressed in a grey woolen undershirt, with linen bosom and collar, blue worsted and satin vest, figured, dark blue satinet coat, black horn buttons, blue neck handkerchief bordered with white, red and black in stripes, cotton socks, much worn, a buckskin glove upon the right hand, a huge scar upon the inside of right leg, just above the ankle, a small ivory-handled knife, with pipe and tobacco, found in his pockets. Supposed to be -------- Abbott, of Sterling.
The following persons vouch for the correctness of the given description of the deceased, and were present at their interment:
Lycurgus Jackson,Yours respectfully,
John F. Miller,
and 6 others.
J. G. WOODS.
Oregon Statesman, Corvallis, October 20, 1855, page 4 In 1858 B. F. Dowell listed the white casualties of October 9, 1855 as "Mrs. J. B. Wagoner; Mary Wagoner, a little girl; Mr. & Mrs. Jones; Mr. & Mrs. Haines; George W. Harris; David W. Harris; Frank A. Reed, Wm. Gwin, James W. Cartwright, Mr. Powell, Mr. Burch, Mr. Fox & Mr. Hill."
JACKSONVILLE, O.T., Oct. 11, 1855.Sir--We are again in the midst of the most terrible Indian war ever known to this country. I doubt not but you may search the annals of history in vain to find anything that exceeds, in savage barbarity, the deeds of these soulless miscreants, and I doubt much if there ever lived a more formidable savage foe to the white man than this band of Shasta Indians. No pains have been spared to endeavor to civilize them, but without avail. It is consummate folly to endeavor to anything with them but kill them off. On Monday morning last a company of volunteers attacked a band of Indians camped on the bank of the river, about one-half mile above Thompson's ferry on Rogue River, who had been annoying the settlers of Butte Creek all summer by their repeated petty thefts and depredations of various kinds. These Indians had been removed several times during the summer onto the reserve, but after staying a short time would uniformly return to their old camp ground, near the mouth of Butte Creek. The settlers' patience had become exhausted, and they were determined to teach them a lesson that they would not soon forget, and induce them to remain on the reserve. Accordingly they made preparation and marched down to Old Jake's camp at daybreak and commenced the attack. The troops from Fort Lane visited the ground immediately after the fight and found twenty-three dead bodies, eight grown men, four of whom were very aged, and fifteen women and children. An Indian boy, whose life was saved, says he saw two women more than were found, floating down the river. It appears from the statement of the Indian that all the principal men were absent, not apprehending danger, hence such a destruction of life of the women. The principal cause of that I infer to have been the fact that the women were not distinguishable from the men. The Hon. James A. Lupton received a mortal wound, from the effects of which he has since died. A young man by the name of ------ Shepard, also, was seriously wounded, probably fatally--several others slightly. The night following the difficulty, the Indians started down Rogue River, killing every person whom they met, stealing what stock they could find, taking some very fine American mares from Mr. Birdseye. Dr. Miller and Mr. Schreflien, also, lost some fine horses and mules. At Mr. Jewett's ferry, as they passed, they killed one man and wounded two others. At Mr. Evans' they wounded two; one has since died. From there to Jump-Off Joe Creek every house was attacked and the inmates killed, though some escaped wounded. The most horrible act of all was the inhuman massacre of Mrs. Wagoner and infant daughter. Her husband was absent from home, and when he returned what an appalling sight met his eyes; some thirty or forty drunken Indians were dancing and reveling over some plunder they had taken from some wagons; his barn and grain and stock yard had been consumed by fire; his dwelling was yet standing, but before assistance could reach him it was also burned. Major Fitzgerald came upon the Indians there as they were leaving and saw ten on horseback, five of whom he killed under full jump for the mountains. A Mr. Jones was killed in his yard and his home burned; his lady and child made their escape. Mrs. Jones was seriously wounded. A Mr. Harris was killed at his home, his little girl wounded in the arm; his wife escaped. The troops reached there just in time to save her life. There were ten men found dead that day, and in all probability many more have been killed before this time; and before the close of the week I expect to hear still sadder news, for more desperate, reckless, daring, savage demons exist nowhere upon the face of the earth, and in all that constitutes savage maliciousness I doubt if they ever had an equal. Old Sam, chief of the Rogue Rivers, was solicited, coaxed and finally threatened with war against all his people if he did not join, but without avail. He took his men up into the mountains, where the hands were at work on the reserve, and protected them and the stock that belonged to the reserve. The young man employed to conduct the work on the west end of the reserve--the part that was set apart for the Shasta Indians--was murdered, his body horribly mutilated, cut across the forehead and face with an axe, from appearance while sleeping. The provisions and tools belonging to that part of the reserve were destroyed or taken off, and they left with a determination to fight as long as one was living and able to bear arms. As in the war of 1853, the Indians have all the guns in the country. Those Indians have each a good rifle and revolver, and are skillful in the use of them. They will, without doubt, unite with the Klamaths and all the disaffected Indians in the surrounding country; in fact, this little band of Shastas are the terror of all surrounding tribes, and many will join, believing them invincible; they never have been whipped, nor do they believe that white men can do it; hence the necessity of a war, although many valuable lives must be lost in consequence of it.
There will be, without a doubt, one hundred Indians, exclusive of the Klamaths, to contend with; and the Klamaths I know to be under the control of Old John, but I do not know how numerous they are. Sam and his people came into Fort Lane and claimed protection--were willing to give up their guns, and do anything, they say, to have peace.
Very respectfully,Oregon Statesman, Corvallis, October 20, 1855, page 4
Rogue River Correspondence of the Statesman.
Rogue River, Oct. 21, 1855.
The Indians have not made any attack in the settlements above this place; their attacks have been on the road between here and Grave Creek, and down Rogue River. On Thursday last, 17th inst., report says about 80 Indians made an attack on a party of men in a house at Galice Creek, about 30 miles below here. There were some 20 men in the house, but not well armed, say only about 15 shots. The Indians made a desperate assault, being armed with 6-shooters and rifles, and gaining possession of a ditch some few yards from the house, which protected them, they kept up an incessant fire for near 20 hours, killing two men and wounding some 12 others. An old resident out here by the name of Pickett was killed. The number of Indians killed is not known, as they carried off their dead in the night, except six which they left on the ground when they retreated. Maj. Fitzgerald passed down on yesterday. He will probably go to Galice Creek, where the attack was made, but it is feared that the Indians will be missing when he gets there. An express came in for a surgeon to dress the wounds of the wounded. I did not see him, and get my report second-handed.
Col. Ross and his aide, C. S. Drew, are organizing the volunteer companies. They do it by talking, writing, and, as old man Clinton says (when speaking of his sheep having ewe lambs), all done by management. We have not heard of brigadier general qr. master-commissary Dr. Henry since we last wrote, but suppose that he and his Know-Nothing orderly are doing it "all by management"--organizing the militia, buying supplies, issuing orders, making reports and keeping Gov. Curry incidentally advised of matters and things in general. The appearance of Gen. Nesmith would soon send these gentlemen all to the position assigned them by their country for their country's good.
Oregon Statesman, Corvallis, November 3, 1855, page 1
Roseburg Oct. 29th / 55To Genl. E. M. Barnum
Respt. Sir--Enclosed you will find a letter from Capt. Gordon, the commander of the Douglas County volunteers. By the politeness of his orderly I am enabled to forward to you this copy. You will perceive from this the condition of this country; you will also see I am unable to muster some of the companies into the service before they take the field. For this reason I am unable to forward to you the muster rolls at present. Last night there was considerable excitement--some of the citizens from below Winchester came to this place with the news thus--some forty to fifty Indians encamped on the reserve 15 miles below Winchester were about to break out. By request of the citizens I took the responsibility to order thirty men from the Linn County company to proceed immediately to this place to protect the families and if possible bring the Indians to this place. I am happy to inform you they have acted promptly & well. They returned about three o'clock this evening bringing with them ten warriors, leaving all the old men, children & w. at that camp. Those prisoners were promptly turned over to Capt. Martin, the Indian agent at this place, who has taken proper care of them, & they are now under guard in the courthouse of this place. Both the Lane County companies as well as the Linn County company have arrived at this place. Capt. Bailey's company are now at the Canyon or perhaps on the other side. The Douglas County company was at the Canyon this morning. You will see by the enclosed communication the condition of things on the other side. At daylight tomorrow one hundred men well armed will start from this place to the relief of Major Fitzgerald. The troops here are short of ammunition. Genl. McCarver is making every exertion to procure a sufficient to supply all the troops possible. He is a very energetic officer. I am most anx. to receive more blank muster rolls; at present I have only one for each company called out by the Governor's proclamation. I also am informed there is at this time nine companies in the service in Jackson County. What is to be done with more than four of them I do not know. Please give me information on this subject.
The Umpqua County company have not reported themselves yet, but are to do it tomorrow or next day. The citizens down on the Umpqua River say that the Indians down as far as Scottsburg are showing signs of war & that the company will be required to protect the citizens in that part of Oregon. From appearances the war is likely to be a longer one than a good many think for, and I think it would be well enough to post the officers up as to the extent of their duties as I am Damned Sure some of them would not be set back any by a few general rules by way of enlightening them in their duties.
Very respty. yourOregon State Archives, Yakima and Rogue River War, Document File B, Reel 2, Document 526.
John K. Lamerick
INDIAN DEPREDATIONS--TRAINS ATTACKED--
FORTIFICATIONS TO BE ERECTED.
Mr. Skillman, of the Shasta Courier, writing from Yreka on the 29th ult., gives the following latest advices in regard to the movements of the United States troops, now on the war path against the Rogue River Indians:
Major Fitzgerald and Capt. Smith are both in the field hunting the hostile Indians of Rogue River Valley. There are also some volunteers on the road which leads from Rogue River through the Canon into Umpqua Valley.
The last attack by the Indians, of which reliable accounts have been received, was made upon Lieut. Kautz and ten men under his command, while exploring for a trail or road from some point on the coast (perhaps Port Orford) to the Rogue River Valley. They were attacked about forty miles from Fort Lane. An express was sent in to the Fort from Kautz, saying that two of his men had been killed and himself shot, the ball striking a memorandum book in his breast pocket, doing no serious injury.
When Mr. K. fell, the remaining eight men took to flight, and the Indians drove off all his animals, with provisions &c.
It is reported (doubtful) that a pack train bringing the goods of Messrs. Maury & Davis, of Jacksonville, to that place, was attacked, and two men with the train were killed and about seventy-five mules, and as many or more loads, captured by the Indians. [It was true.]
From the last Yreka Union we have news of startling interest, in regard to Major Haller. His troops, after being surrounded in the Yakima Indian country, fought for fifty hours against an overwhelming body of savages. They then charged through the savage horde and retreated to the Dalles, with the loss of all the animals, provisions and camp equipage belonging to the expedition. One cannon was spiked and left behind.
In the battle and retreat, nearly one-fifth of Maj. Haller's force was either killed or wounded.
The Indians are represented to be well armed, brave and resolute, and far more numerous than had been supposed.
Lieut. K. says many of the Indians were mounted. They had previously murdered three men on Cow Creek.
Leland, Jackson Co., O.T., Oct. 18, 1855.Albany Argus, Albany, New York, December 1, 1855, page 2
A party of 14 men left the Canon on Thursday, Oct. 11, for the Rogue River Valley. Saturday, arrived at the Grave Creek House. No news from the south. Organized a scouting party of fourteen and started south. Passed Mrs. Niday's, but little damage. Mr. Bowdin's house was in ashes; searched for Harris' little boy (in my last I stated that Haines' boy was seen running through a field toward the woods--it was Harris' boy); could not find anything that could give us any clue of him. Passed on to Harris'; the floor and casing of the door were bedaubed with blood; Mr. Harris' pants were hanging against the wall, completely covered with clotted blood. The Indians attacked Harris' house on Tuesday morning, Oct. 9; Mr. H. was shot directly at his back door; as he was falling Mrs. H. caught him, and pulled him into the house and barred the door. A girl of Mr. H., 14 years of age, was shot in the arm by a pet Indian, who had been living about Turner's called Umpqua Jack. There are two bullet holes in the door where Harris was shot. Mrs. H. and the little girl defended the house all day, and at night hid themselves in the bushes; they were taken to Jacksonville by the soldiers. Mr. Harris' old house, in which there was a quantity of grain, was burned down.
Mr. Wagoner's house was burned, with Mrs. Wagoner and a child in it; their bones have been found in the ashes. Mr. Wagoner had started off that morning with Miss Pellet, and consequently escaped the horrid death of poor Mrs. W. and child. But who can imagine the grief of that poor man, and what on earth can atone for his loss? We passed on to Haines'. The sight there was the most horrible I ever beheld. The house was thrown open, and bedclothes covered with blood were scattered all over the room. What the Indians did not take, they destroyed. There were two bullet holes in the door, shot from the outside, and one from the inside. Haines and his little boy were found dead in the house, their bodies terribly mangled; a part of the boy's brains were found near the house. Mrs. Haines, who was sick, it is supposed escaped from the house that night, with her little girl, and a man by the name of Frank Reed, who was lame. It is nearly a week since they were attacked, and neither of them could be found. It is supposed that they were found by the Indians and killed. Mrs. H. may be with the Indians, alive.
Among the hills along Jumpoff Jo [Creek], we found goods carelessly thrown down, as if left by the Indians. There were a great number of hogs in this section, and they were wandering in every direction through the woods. The attack appears to have been almost a simultaneous one. The Indians had stolen some liquor from a wagon at Wagoner's and what of fiendishness their hellish natures lacked before was made up by the liquor.
Mr. Jones, who lives near Evans' ferry, was killed by a band of pet Indians. [The Jones house was near Bloody Run and Jones Creek, within today's Grants Pass.] Mrs. Jones was wounded and crept into a thicket, but was found by one of the straggling Indians and shot again. Her back was broken at first, and then she received a wound in the arm. She begged of the Indian to kill her to end her sufferings, and the fiend picked up a rock, and as he threw it at her said, "G--d d--n you, I can kill you!" She sank down exhausted. The Indians supposing her dead, left her; she was finally taken to Vannoy's, and there died.
The whites, volunteers, led by J. W. Miller, attacked a large band of Indians on Butte Creek and killed 41--25 "bucks." Major Lupton was killed on the field, and nine of the whites were wounded, one of them mortally. At Wagoner's six Indians were killed by the "regulars," and one was killed by Mr. Harris, and 30 Indians were killed at Table Rock--making 38 in all.
The following is a list of the whites that are killed and missing:
Harris and boys; Mr. Haines, wife and two children; Mr. Jones and wife; Mrs. Wagoner and child; Frank Reed; Wm. Hamilton; Messrs. Powell, Bunch, Fox, White; six on Evans Creek; one on Till Bar; Mr. Cartwright; two in road near Wagoner's; two at Jewett's ferry; and two men by the name of Annett were killed in Illinois Valley--31 in all.
LETTER FROM ROGUE RIVER.
Fight with the Indians on Galice Creek; Two Whites Killed and Ten Wounded--
500 Men at Vannoy's Ranch on the 23rd inst.--
Strong Position of the Indians in a Gorge on Galice Creek--Expected Siege.
Since the attacks of the 8th, 9th and 10th inst., as reported in our former issues, no further collision seems to have taken place between the whites and the Indians until the 18th inst., when the latter boldly attacked a company of 18 men on Galice Creek, some fifty miles below Jacksonville and besieged them in a house during the space of 24 hours, killed two men and wounded ten; amongst the latter was Wm. Moore; he was shot in three places; a fourth shot struck the bullet molds slung over his back.
The Chinese were employed in cutting trenches and otherwise fortifying the position of the whites. From the nature of the surrounding country, which is broken and covered with brush and bushes, it was impossible to ascertain the number of Indians--supposed to have been upwards of one hundred. Amongst them were recognized some of the Shastas which are represented as having been the last to retreat.
For the sake of connecting properly the events of the day we prefix to the letter of our attentive correspondent from the camp his note of the 17th previously published.
Jacksonville, Oct. 17th, 1855.Ed. Herald:--There are now at this place near 300 men preparing for war. Reports well substantiated say that 35 white persons have been killed by the Indians during the last 10 days. The company to which I belong starts from this place on the 19th. The Indians all around are well armed and equipped for fighting.
E. B. Stone, 1st Lieut. Co. D.
Vannoy's Ranch, Oct. 23rd, 1855.Ed. Herald:--By first opportunity I send you notice of the movements of the force now in the field. Capt. Judah, with company of 60 regulars and 75 volunteers, has ranged over the company of Williams Creek, Sucker Creek and Applegate, but found no Indians. On the 18th the Indians attacked 18 men who had convened at a trading post on Galice Creek. The fight lasted 8 hours; the whites had two killed and ten wounded. It is supposed that some 20 Indians were killed. On the morning following, the Indians resumed the attack for an hour, and then hauled off. Since this war commenced there have been killed, according to reliable reports, 18 men, 3 women and 2 children; one woman is missing, supposed to have been taken prisoner.
The Indians are bold and still commit their depredations. They are in this vicinity and it is intended to march for their whereabouts tomorrow. They occupy a gorge on Galice Creek, made by nature a very strong position, and from which it is said, by those acquainted with the locality, it will be difficult to dislodge them.
There are about 500 soldiers now ready for action.
I will send you the news of our siege by first opportunity.
We start tomorrow for the gorge on Galice Creek.
Yours respectfully,Crescent City Herald, October 31, 1855, page 2
E. B. Stone, 1st Lieut. Co. D.
Several Trains Attacked and Scattered in Deer Creek Valley Between
Sailor Diggings and Jackson [County]--One Man Killed, One Wounded--Others Missing.
ARMS AND AMMUNITION WANTED. FORTIFICATIONS ABOUT TO BE ERECTED.
Messrs. Thomas and McDowell, the messengers of Jackson's, and Mr. Thompson, of Hart & Co.'s Express, left Sailor Diggings yesterday at 11 a.m. and arrived in Crescent City this afternoon. They bring tidings of fresh Indian depredations; the following is an account furnished through Hart & Co.'s Express by Mr. George Sam Rice, who had just returned from a visit to Illinois Valley.
Wednesday, Oct. 24th.Three trains started from Illinois Valley with an escort of seven men, and on the afternoon of the same day, while on the mountain behind Mooney's Ranch, they were attacked by the Indians. Two Mexicans came to Mooney's Ranch and reported these facts; one Mexican has been found dead on the trail, also one wounded; John Dorman and John Dickey are supposed to have been killed, and several other whites, but nothing certain is known as to the number of whites killed or their number. Sam Fry's company of volunteers have started in pursuit, and will undoubtedly overtake the band that committed these murders. Seven of the mules of these trains were found shot dead on the trail.
A new company has been formed in this valley today, who will remain here at some central point for the protection of the families. There is, however, a great want of arms here, and another call will have to be made on Crescent City for arms and assistance.
We are verbally informed that rumor gives fuller details of the catastrophe mentioned, but that the facts above narrated may be relied on as true.
At Althouse and in Illinois Valley they are busily engaged erecting fortifications.
The express messengers met Mr. Mann on the mountains on his way home with ten guns and six revolvers, all the arms he could procure in this city on the previous day.
Sailor Diggings, Oct. 26.Crescent City Herald, October 31, 1855, page 2
The news from the Indians purports another descent on some trains, said to have consisted of about one hundred mules. One Mexican killed and one severely wounded; two men, Ed. Dorman and John Dickey, missing. The news is startling and fills all with fear. The Indians killed 7 mules, took two kegs of whiskey and drove the balance off. Jackson crossed the mountains yesterday going to the Klamath.
The man that kept the house at the foot of the Siskiyou has deserted it and is now here at this place. Several trains bound for Indian Creek are lying here, afraid to venture on the road, which is said to be covered with Indian tracks. Large forts are built and building at Althouse and through the valley. The want of arms makes apprehension doubly painful. The arms have been sent away with the companies who range through the mountains.
Sam Fry and his company consisting of about thirty-nine men have left in pursuit of the last marauders. Another company was formed this day at Derby's Ranch, called the Valley Rangers, to protect and scour the valley. The captain-elect has gone to headquarters (Jacksonville) for proper enrollment.
PORT ORFORD.--From a correspondence we find in the Oregon Times and dated Port Orford, Oct. 17th, we make the following extracts:
"Lieut. Kautz, of Port Orford station, left nine or ten days ago for the purpose of opening a road from this place to Jacksonville. He took a due east line, which brought him to the 'Big Bend' of Rogue River, 30 miles from here. On his arrival there he found the settlers in great alarm; leaving for assistance and protection from a threatened attack from a large body of hostile Indians from Applegate Creek Valley.
"It appears that some friendly Indians had brought the news of an Indian war raging farther up the river to the settlers below, and upon ascending a hill they could see Dr. Reeves' store in flames, and some 50 or 60 Indians dancing around it. Satisfied of the truth of the report, they left at once, came down the river and accidentally met Lieut. Kautz and his party of ten men and a guide at 'Big Bend,' who put his men in position in a good log house, with nine guns and all the ammunition and store he had, and left in company with a guide for the fort here, which he reached at 1 o'clock on the morning of the 16th inst. He left the settlers with the troops and came for arms &c., to be prepared to resist their further approach--or if necessary make a demonstration upon the hostile party. He left the same day, intending to reach camp that night.
"Our Sub-Indian Agent Ben. Wright, with his known energy and cool bravery, is on the ground."
"Southern Oregon--Rogue River Valley," Crescent City Herald, October 31, 1855, page 2
On the 15th inst. Gov. Curry of Oregon issued his proclamation, calling for nine companies of mounted volunteers, five of whom to constitute the Northern Battalion are to rendezvous at Eugene City; and four, expected to be furnished by Jackson County, to constitute the Southern Battalion, are to rendezvous at Jacksonville.
"Southern Oregon--Rogue River Valley," Crescent City Herald, October 31, 1855, page 2
Umpqua Correspondence of the Statesman.
Douglas County, Oct. 24, 1855.
Friend Bush:--There is nothing reliable from the seat of war since last mail, but as usual a great many rumors and flying reports of depredations committed are in circulation; what amount of credit is to be attached to them is a difficult matter to determine. Among the best authenticated is one of a battle taking place on Galice Creek in which one white man and 15 Indians were killed.
At sundown last evening an express arrived at Deer Creek for men to go through the canyon, the Indians having attacked a train of wagons a short distance this side of Cow Creek. The messenger, it seems, belonged to the train, but being the hindmost of the party was dispatched for help, and could give no particulars as to the result. He thinks, from the reports of the guns, that there must have been twenty-five Indians engaged in the attack. Another messenger arrived about 10 o'clock of the same evening, from Mr. Elliff--dispatched by the latter for men and arms--and a company of twenty men are to start through tomorrow morning, and we may expect some sharp shooting in a day or two.
This morning, at daylight, a company of twenty or twenty-five men fell upon a rancheria near Mr. Arrington's, in Lookingglass Prairie, and succeeded in killing four warriors and wounding a superannuated squaw in the abdomen. The Indians numbered about 20, men, women and children, and had placed themselves under the protection of the whites, having but three guns among them, two of which could not be fired. It was supposed some of the Rogue River tribe was among them, but there is no evidence of the fact. Such affairs are to be regretted as inflaming the Indians, who we think are disposed to be friendly if the whites will only allow them to be; yet a few such outbreaks as this and we may expect a general outbreak in this valley.
Oct. 25, 1855.Mr. [B. B. Jackson] also states that about 300 Indians with their families, stock and plunder have taken a position on a mountain six miles below the Grave Creek house, fortified it, and are awaiting an attack. They are determined to fight, and have selected this as a favorable position. Capt. Smith was at the Grave Creek House, with about 150 regulars, laying his plans and awaiting reinforcements. Two companies of volunteers from this valley arrived at headquarters just as Mr. J. was leaving. They expected to attack the Indians on Thursday. Capt. Smith had sent to the fort for a howitzer, intending to first drive them from their position with shells, and then attack them with small arms.
Further intelligence has just arrived from the attacked train before spoken of. It seems the wagons were in advance of a drove of hogs owned by the Messrs. Bailey, of Lane County, and the moment the last hog was over Cow Creek, the Indians fired, killing Mr. H. Bailey instantly, and wounding Mr. Z. Bailey and three others. They retreated, followed by the Indians, who kept up a running fire until 9 o'clock p.m., when having done no further damage they disappeared.
There was a general fight on Cow Creek the same day, both up and down it from the road. The house and barn of Mr. Turner are burned, also Mr. Bray's, Fortune's, Redfield's and one other unoccupied. So many rumors and contradictory reports are in circulation here, it is impossible to arrive at the truth. Such as I have given you are the best authenticated, and I think are true.
Mr. Redfield--who lives a short distance below the crossing of Cow Creek--hearing the reports from the train, had placed his family in a wagon and started for a place of safety. He had proceeded but a short distance when both horses were shot down. Taking his wife on his back (she having been previously wounded) they both escaped. The mail is waiting, so I must close. The volunteers are organizing at Deer Creek today; also expecting company from Lane County.
Yours, &c., VERITAS.
Deer Creek, O.T., Oct. 29, 1855.
Friend Bush:--I presume you are so burdened with correspondence from this portion of the Territory concerning the war, rumors of war, &c., that you are heartily sick of the subject, and could say with all sincerity "the Lord deliver us from our friends." However I have no time for speculation and will proceed with something of more interest to your readers if not yourself.
Our little village presents a most bustling appearance, with the volunteers encamped in the grove. The smith's shop, clanging from morn to eve, expressmen arriving and departing, and in fact all the noise, confusion and hubbub consequent up on "great and glorious war." The Douglas County company of volunteers organized on Saturday, by electing Samuel Gordon captain, S. B. Hadley, 1st lieut.; T. W. Prather, 2nd do.; Jas. J. Patton, 1st sergt.; Jos. Embree, 2nd do.; S. J. Buntin, 3rd do.; John S. Party, 4th do.; S. H. Martin, 1st corporal; E. Buntin, 2nd do.; L. B. Gilliland, 3rd do.; W. A. Wallace, 4th do.; and Sunday morning took up the line of march for the seat of war. They are a fine-looking body of men, and if fighting is to be done will be found in the thickest the fray.
One company of the Lane Co. volunteers, under command of Capt. Bailey, reached this place on Saturday noon, en route for Rogue River. They are a fine-looking company, well armed and mounted, and we miss our prediction if they do not deal well-merited chastisement upon the murderers of their friends and kinsmen. Early on Sunday morning they struck their tents and in high spirits started for the south; success attend them.
Gen. McCarver and suite are quartered in the courthouse and find plenty of employment in fitting out the different commands, sending expresses for ammunition &c., &c. There is but little ammunition in the valley, and it was with difficulty the troops sent forward could be supplied.
Some little stir was made in town last evening by the arrival of a messenger from the citizens of Cole's Valley, asking for aid; the Indians threatening that if the "Bostons" who attacked the rancheria on Lookingglass Creek a few days since were not punished they would take the matter in their own hands and attack the settlers. Adjutant General Lamerick immediately dispatched an orderly to the Linn and Lane volunteers, encamped on Calapooia Creek, for a party of twenty men to repair to the spot and disarm the Indians. The requisite number were detailed and returned today with twelve of their braves--all that were on the ground--who are now under guard at this place. Great credit is due the command for their prompt action, as well as their orderly and humane conduct in the affair. Not a drop of blood was spilled, yet all danger at least from that tribe is averted. The Indians are much frightened, and with good reason we think, at the dark and ominous countenances around them. It was with great difficulty, and only by a superior force, that the bystanders could be withheld from swinging them to the nearest tree.
At present there are two companies of volunteers here, one hundred of which will tomorrow morning be sent forward--providing ammunition can be procured. An express has just arrived with the intelligence that Major Fitzgerald has surrounded a large party (supposed to be three hundred) of Indians on Grave Creek, but not having sufficient force to attack them, is awaiting reinforcements from this direction. Capts. Bailey and Gordon have gone to his assistance, which, with those leaving here tomorrow, will increase his force two hundred and fifty men. With that number we think he can successfully attack, and we hope clean out any number of Indians that can be started in Rogue River Valley.
Yours truly, A TRAVELER.
October 30th.--W. J. Martin was this morning elected major of the battalion, who have rendezvoused at Deer Creek. J. W. Drew is appointed adjutant. The larger portion of the battalion will be immediately ordered south to Cow Creek and Grave Creek.
Oregon Statesman, Corvallis, November 3, 1855, page 2
Volunteers were coming in from both north and south, and before the attack was to be made it was thought there would be over 500 men on the ground.
"Latest from the South," Oregon Statesman, Corvallis, November 3, 1855, page 2
The Rogue River War.
The following account of the opening scenes in the present Rogue River war has been sent us for publication. As an unadorned statement of facts it is designed to contradict or correct erroneous and exaggerated reports which have found their way into some of the public prints:
"On Monday evening, the 8th of October, the Indians were attacked by a company of volunteers on Butte Creek, when a desperate fight ensued. Although the attack was unexpected, the Indians stood their ground with a firmness heretofore unknown amongst the Rogue River Indians. Thirty-five Indians were killed and ten white men wounded; amongst the latter was Major Lupton, who since died. The cause of such a sudden attack was this:
"The Indians but a short time previous had killed three men and thirteen oxen on the Siskiyou Mountains, and scarcely a day passed but some new depredations were committed by them. The citizens forbore as long as forbearance could be considered a virtue. Let no one say hereafter that the whites are to blame for bringing on this war: for only those who have been compelled to live amongst the Indians can have any idea of the abuse and the wrongs to be endured from them; it is the result of their own actions.
"On Tuesday morning (the 9th) the Indians came down the river and killed one man who was employed by the agent in making rails on the Reserve, opposite Schieffelin and Walker's house; from there they went on down and attacked two men camped opposite Jewett's ferry, killed one and wounded the other.
At sunrise on the same day a party of Indians appeared at Evans ferry (on Rogue River), stationed themselves behind the trees and fired upon some men encamped near the house. Those in the house rushed out intending to have a brush with them, but as they kept behind the trees it was impossible to get at them, and after firing continually for about ten minutes they took to the mountains pursued by a party from the house for a short distance. One man by the name of Shelton was killed; he with five others had been in camp near the house. From here the Indians went on down the road and killed two men between Evans' ferry and Jones'. At Jones' they went in and spoke friendly as usual, but after remaining a few moments one of them shot at Mr. Jones, killing him instantly, upon which Mrs. Jones attempted to escape and was shot at twice; she succeeded, however, in escaping from the house to which the Indians immediately set fire; the barn also and a stack of oats were burnt to the ground. The Indians then proceeded down the road, killing two men with a team on their way to Wagoner's where several shots were fired and the house burnt down. Mrs. Wagoner and child are supposed to have been shot at and then burnt with the house, as they have not been heard of since, and a few bones found amongst the ruins would seem to indicate this sad fate. Mr. Wagoner had been absent, accompanying Miss Pellet on her way to Crescent City as far as Vannoy's. Peters' & Padd's trains escaped by cutting the packs of their animals, leaving the cargoes on the trail to the mercy of the Indians (who showed it none) and coming with their animals up to Evans' where they left them, then proceeded to Jacksonville and spread the news of the destruction below.
"A company was immediately formed and on the way to the scene of murder and desolation. On Wednesday morning (the 10th) by daylight, about 50 volunteers, and as many dragoons from Fort Lane, arrived at Wagoner's, where they found a party of Indians whom they put to flight after killing eight of their number and taking from them three stolen horses. The company proceeded to Harris', found Mr. Harris killed and Mrs. Harris and her little daughter in the bushes, where she had been for 24 hours, keeping the Indians at bay with a revolver; her daughter was wounded in the arm. A boy and a man were also found dead at Haines', about three miles from Wagoner's. Mrs. Haines and child have not been heard from, and a son of Mrs. Harris is also missing. Mrs. Jones as taken to Vannoy's but has since died. A large number of volunteers and some regular troops are now scouring the country in pursuit of the redskins.
"On Thursday, the 18th inst., another battle was fought on Galice Creek, which lasted twenty hours and resulted in the loss of Picket and Saunders killed, and ten men wounded; eight squaws and four boys were taken prisoners. The most of these squaws had been living with white men or, as those might more properly be called, white Indians, who are the worst we have in this country. In the intermixture of races the Indian never rises to an equality with the whites, but the whites are brought down to a level with the Indian.
"This is a true account, as far as it goes, of the Indian outbreak, and I should not have troubled you with this if there had not been so many exaggerated and contradictory reports published, stating that certain persons had been killed or their property destroyed, who fortunately were entirely uninjured. Such reports have not only a tendency to injure the credit and business relations of those concerned, but might keep many from coming to this part of the country who intended to do so for mining and other purposes. By publishing the true state of the case you will at least confer a favor on those who, although reported dead, are still amongst the living.
"O.J.E."Crescent City Herald, November 7, 1855, page 1
The Indian War!!
Depredations on Althouse, Sucker Creek and Democratic Gulch--
One Man Killed--Another Wounded--The Cabins Burnt.
From several parties, who arrived in town on last Friday, the 2nd ins., from Althouse and Sailor Diggings, we gather the following items of interest:
The Indian war in Rogue River Valley has drawn off a great portion of the mining population from Illinois Valley. On Sucker Creek, when there were only about a dozen left, nearly destitute of arms, they all retreated for the sake of safety to Rhodes' ranch in the hills between Althouse and Sucker Creek diggings. On Sunday last, the 28th inst., one of them known by the name of Chuck returned to bring away some blankets and other necessaries left behind. When in the neighborhood of Reeves' trading post he perceived the house on fire, and saw the smoke rise from other cabins. He was suddenly fired upon by some Indians, but made good his escape without receiving any injury.
On Tuesday, the 30th inst., in the afternoon between 3 and 4 o'clock, three miners on Althouse, while at work on their claim, were suddenly attacked by half a dozen Indians. So sudden was the attack, and from so unexpected a quarter, that they had not even time to seize their guns which they had deposited but a few paces distant. In the endeavor to escape one of them named Wiley was killed by a rifle ball, and another, E. Johnson, was wounded in the right side and arm.
The brother of the former reached some neighboring camp, from whence the news was sent to Brownsville, about two miles distant. A party immediately went to the scene of the attack, where they found four or five cabins on fire, but were too weak in numbers and arms to think of pursuing the marauders. Miners not far distant remember to have heard six shots fired, and think the yell of the Indians was answered from the heights by their confederates, who are supposed to be concealed round the neighborhood. The Indians gained two guns in this affray, besides some twenty-six ounces of gold dust, which the shot pouch of Mr. Wiley is supposed to have contained.
Through Hart & Co.'s Express we learn that Dr. Watkins, who has the care of Mr. Johnson, the wounded man, says he is doing as well as could be expected. He received two shots, one through the arm and the other through the back in the vicinity of the kidneys.
Fortified camps have been erected in different sections of Illinois Valley. The people everywhere are sadly deficient in arms, not one-half of the citizens being provided with either guns or pistols. Mining and other business, of course, is at a perfect standstill.
Crescent City Herald, November 7, 1855, page 2
Correspondence from the Camp.
Through the kindness of Mr. Daniel Rickner, we were put in possession of the following lines, thrown off in haste and even without a date, from our correspondent in Rogue River Valley. Mr. Rickner received them at Jacksonville on the 30th ult., and allowing for the distance from camp in the vicinity of Cow Creek (some 50 or 60 miles) they were probably written on the 27th October:
Eds. Herald:--I regret to inform you of the probable massacre of many families in Cow Creek Valley, south. We were stationed on Rogue River when news came that several murders had been committed on the road. I started immediately to the relief of families residing in the neighborhood, but fortunately they had concentrated and fortified themselves in two places. The Indians attacked them, but kept at too respectful a distance for those in the forts to effect anything. It is most deplorable to see cattle, hogs, horses, fowls &c. in great quantities killed upon the ranches. But yesterday there were five ranches fired and plundered. The Indians are well mounted, and from the manner they use ammunition, they must have an abundance of it. There were two men killed and brutally treated yesterday. As far as I have been, the Indians have laid everything waste, and it would appear that they are more numerous than at first supposed.
The situation of families, even in fortified places, is critical in the extreme, and additional forces are baldy wanted. Can't Crescent City send up 100 men?
E. B. Stone, 1st Lieut.Crescent City Herald, November 7, 1855, page 2
Comp. D, 9th Reg't.
October 31[, 1855].--This morning the road lay through a nearly level and very fertile valley to Roseburg, where I saw Major Martin, the elected commanding officer of the volunteers. He informed me that the troops were now fighting with the Indians near the Umpqua cañon and that he intended to join them on the following morning, with two more companies at present in camp at Canyonville. He kindly proposed to escort my party through the cañon, and I accepted his offer.
We continued our course up the valley of the South Umpqua River and encamped with the volunteers near the northern entrance of the Umpqua Cañon, at Canyonville, which consists only of one house and a barn. The road followed the stream for the greater part of the way, and the valley, although narrow, was settled and much of it apparently very fertile. The hills on each side were lightly timbered with oak and fir. Several specimens of a hard variety of talcose slate were found during the day. The distance traveled was about twenty-six miles. In the evening a dispatch was received from the battlefield, stating that the troops were greatly in want of food and powder and urging on the reinforcements. In the night it rained.
November 1.--This morning we followed the volunteers through the cañon, a difficult pass through the Umpqua Mountains. Two small creeks head near the divide and flow, one towards the north to the south fork of the South Umpqua and the other towards the south to Cow Creek. The bottom of the gorge is exceedingly narrow, and the precipitous sides, covered with a thick growth of trees, rise at least 1,000 feet above the water. We found in the cañon a species of yew tree which we did not notice elsewhere west of the Cascade Mountains. The ascent from the camp to the divide was 1,450 feet, and we were compelled, after crossing the creek about thirty times, to travel part of the way in its bed. A few resolute men might hold this defile against an army, and it is wonderful that the Rogue River Indians, who are intelligent, brave and well armed with rifles, have never, in their numerous wars, seized upon it and thus prevented the approach of troops from the Umpqua Valley. This pass is about eleven miles in length, and communication through it is sometimes interrupted by freshets. The road over which we traveled was constructed in 1853, by Brevet Major B. Alvord, United States army, and it is the best route known through the Umpqua Mountains.
We had hardly left the cañon when we began to see traces of the Indian devastations. Blackened and smoking ruins, surrounded by the carcasses of domestic animals, marked the places where, but a few days before, the settlers had lived. We passed a team on the road; the oxen lay shot in the yoke, and the dark blood stains upon the seat of the wagon told the fate of the driver. Even the stacks of hay and grain in the fields had been burned. After leaving the cañon, we followed the narrow but fertile valley of' Cow Creek for a few miles and then crossing a steep divide between it and Wolf Creek, encamped on the latter stream. Major Martin intended to proceed, in the morning, to join in the battle which was going on among the mountains, at a distance from the road variously estimated to be from five to twelve miles. As he could not spare us an escort, we determined to press forward as rapidly as possible towards Fort Lane, trusting that the Indians would be too busy to attack our party. In the evening, however, stragglers from the fight began to come in. They reported that the provisions were entirely exhausted and the powder nearly gone; that the Indians were numerous and very strongly posted; that several while men had been killed and many wounded and that it had been thought best to fall back for the present and wait for supplies. The regular troops were on their way to Grave Creek, and the volunteers were coming to our camp as fast as they could transport their wounded. The Indians did not follow them, and they all arrived before morning. The forage on the route had been burned, and our animals suffered much from want of food tonight.
November 2.--This morning Major Martin, escorted by a volunteer company, went to Grave Creek to see Captain A. J. Smith, 1st Dragoons, commanding the United States troops in the valley. He offered us the benefit of his escort, and we accompanied him accordingly. This gentleman, together with Captain Mosher and other volunteer officers, assisted us in every way in their power, and without this accidental aid our party would have found it very difficult to cross the valley.
Wolf and Grave creeks are separated by high and steep hills, covered with thick timber and underbrush. On reaching Wolf Creek we found Captain Smith in camp, near a house surrounded by a small stockade. His supply of forage had failed, and he was forced, on this account, to prepare to return to Fort Lane as soon as a few men, who had died of their wounds, could be buried. Lieut. Gibson, formerly in command of the escort of our party, was among the wounded. Being compelled by want of forage to press forward as fast as possible, I applied to Capt. Smith for an escort. He gave me one so promptly that in less than fifteen minutes we were again on our way.
Between Grave and Jumpoff Joe creeks the road passed over a steep and heavily timbered divide. The Indians had killed two men in charge of a pack train on this hill, and the half-burned remains of their wagon and packs were still to be seen. Near this place Major Fitzgerald, 1st Dragoons, had overtaken with a scouting party and killed several of the savages. At Jumpoff Joe Creek, a man driving swine had been murdered, and a large number of his animals lay dead in the road. On leaving this creek, we passed through an undulating and fertile country, sometimes open and sometimes thinly covered with a growth of oak, sugar maple and a little pine and hemlock. After traveling until nearly sundown, we encamped at a building which had been preserved from the general ruin by the heroism of a woman named Harris. After her husband had been murdered and her daughter wounded, she had made a desperate and successful defense by shooting at the savages from between the crevices of the log house. The traces of her bullets upon the trees, which had shielded the Indians, and the marks of the tragedy within the dwelling, were plainly visible. Soon after dark a small party under the command of Lieut. Allston, 1st Cavalry, arrived with the wounded and encamped. Captain Smith, with a few men, passed us on his way to Fort Lane. The length of our day's march was about fourteen miles.
November 3.--Today we traveled about twenty-five miles to Fort Lane, crossing Rogue River at Evans' ferry. His house, and others south of the river, were now protected by a few soldiers. The disturbance had been confined to the northern side of the valley, and a few murders had been committed on the Siskiyou Mountains, and the settlers were in great alarm. The road was gently undulating until we arrived at the ferry, and from that point it followed the level bank of the river nearly the whole distance to Fort Lane. The land appeared to be rich and valuable. The hills were thinly covered with oak, pine and other kinds of trees. A short time before reaching the fort we passed\a salt spring, at which the animals drank eagerly.
November 4.--Today we remained in camp to recruit the animals, which had suffered very much from fatigue and hunger during the last few days. We were treated with every possible kindness and attention by the officers stationed at the post.
Fort Lane, at present a cavalry station, is pleasantly situated on the side of a low hill, near the junction of Stuart Creek with Rogue River. The barracks and officers' quarters are built of logs plastered with clay. Much of the surrounding country is fertile and settled, but destructive Indian outbreaks are not unfrequent. On the opposite bank of Stuart Creek there are some peculiar basaltic hills, with flat tops and precipitous sides, somewhat resembling those of the Deschutes Valley. The principal one, which is about five hundred feet high, is called Table Rock. Good observations were obtained at the fort, by which the altitude above the sea was found to be 1,202 feet and the latitude 42° 25' 56".
November 5.--This morning we continued our journey without an escort, as no Indian outrages of importance had been recently perpetrated on the route. We found many houses deserted, however, and great alarm prevailing among the settlers. After traveling about 26 miles up the valley of Stuart Creek, we encamped at the house of Mr. Smith, near the foot of the Siskiyou Mountains. The road was level, and the general appearance of the country was similar to that near the source of the Willamette River. The rolling hills that shut in the valley were sometimes bare and sometimes thinly covered with trees. We passed, on the way, a hot spring, the temperature of which was about 100° Fahr. A continual escape of gas through the water gave it the appearance of boiling.
Lieutenant Henry L. Abbott, Reports of Explorations and Surveys, to Ascertain the Most Practicable and Economical Route for a Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, Washington 1857, pages 107-109
INDIAN CRUELTY.--Amongst other evidences of cruel barbarities perpetrated by the Indians on the Mooney mountain, on the 24th ult., we are told that the body of a Mexican was found with both eyes dug out and stones placed in their sockets.
Crescent City Herald, November 7, 1855, page 2
Headquarters, Six Bit House,Friend Bush--Being exceedingly hard up for stationery, I will appropriate the last remaining half sheet to you. Nothing of importance has transpired since my last. We are stationed about in little squads, protecting the most defenseless portions of the country, keeping the road open between the Willamette and Rogue River valleys, and with.all possible dispatch getting in supplies preparatory to another expedition against the Indians.
November 6th, 1855.
Judging from present appearances, we may expect a long and serious war; this thing of exterminating Indians in a country like this is almost among the impossibilities. We will, I think by taking matters patiently and prudently, be able to reduce their numbers so as to make them less formidable, and perhaps put a stop to their deviltry entirely, but this is not to be accomplished in a day; we have men enough to whip all the Indians in the country in five minutes, if we can get at them, but they must be caught first, and it takes a vast amount of men to hem them in. It is now raining, and should it continue so, it will make a very disagreeable time of it.
I send you, enclosed in this, a notice for the benefit of those desirous of sending letters to the army; you will confer a favor upon me by publishing the same.
Our boys generally are in good health and spirits, and only want a chance to pitch in. If we should be lucky enough to get the redskins corralled, we will make a clean breast of the work. It is barely possible from the encouragement they received in the last battle they will stand and give us fight; if so, we can soon settle matters with them.
I have no doubt, however, that before matters are brought to a close, it will be necessary to send more men into the field; we have not a sufficient force at this time to direct the campaign so effectively as we could desire; there are so many defenseless settlements to be protected, the roads between the various depots to be kept open, &c.; all this takes men to do it. I will be agreeably disappointed if the present war is brought to an end with six months. I will endeavor to keep you posted with reference to our movements from time to time.
I am yours truly,Oregon Statesman, Corvallis, November 17, 1855, page 2
Scottsburg Nov 7 1855Dear Friend Rich
You have probably before this received news of the murder of your sister & child by the Indians but I will try to give you the particulars as I got it from my teamster & others. I had a team of 4 yoke of oxen & wagon on the way out to Jacksonville. They camped 3 miles this side of Wagoner's with 2 other teams & a pack train. They did not suspect any danger, the teams started first, the train overtook & passed them at Wagoner's, about the same time they saw Wagoner & Miss Pellet start down the creek. They stopped a moment at the house. Mrs. W. was alone except an Indian that was washing dishes. They started on, my team was behind. When we had got about a hundred yards from the house a man overtook him & said he saw 7 Indians go in the house all well armed & at the same time they heard 3 guns fire & nearly the same time they saw the flame of the burning barn. About the same time the pack train met them, having come across 2 red men in the road and turned back. All the time the barn was burning & the Indians kept up their accursed war whoop. They were 7 in number, was without arms. So the packers cut their packs off & the teamsters unyoked their oxen as quick as possible & all got on mules & started for Evans' as fast as possible with the Indians after them. The next day when they returned with the soldiers & volunteers the house was burned, wagons & goods, their cattle killed with all the cattle in the neighborhood. But you will see by the papers I send you that they had the satisfaction of killing 5 of the red devils, the further particulars of this truly melancholy affair you will learn from the papers I will send you. You will see that we are in the midst of a bloody Indian war, but I hope it will be an effectual one. They appear to be determined to exterminate the race this time, but so far they have not been able to do much with the Indians. We have just received news of an attack where with about 400 whites, regulars & volunteers where 7 whites was killed & twenty wounded without killing an Indian that they knowed of & was compelled to retreat. But they was taken rather by surprise & was not very well prepared to fight. But they are making preparation for a regular winter campaign. There will soon be 6 or 7 hundred men in the field. I regret that I am so situated that I can't go out, for I would like to have the satisfaction of killing a few of them. I am doing considerable of a business here now, that requires all my time. My property destroyed by the Indians amounts to about twelve hundred dollars, which I will probably get pay for from government sometime, but Uncle Sam can't restore lives that has been lost by the negligence of his agent & officers.
Your FriendTyped transcription dated 1964 on file at the Southern Oregon Historical Society research library.
The Indian War in Rogue R. Valley.
The outbreak of hostilities on the 8th, 9th and 10th of October, the attack of the Indians upon a company of 18 men on Galice Creek on the 18th; the discovery of the Indian camp at the headwaters of Poorman's Creek (a tributary of Grave Creek which our former reports erroneously confounded with Cow Creek) by Lieut. Kautz and party from Port Orford on the 25th, and the unsuccessful attempts on the 31st October and 1st November to dislodge the Indians by a force of 300 regulars and volunteers, under the command of Capt. Smith, U.S.A., and Col. Ross of the volunteers, respectively--form still the principal features of the drama now being enacted near the boundary line, to which the Indian depredations committed by detached parties on the Mooney Mountain Oct. 24th and about Althouse and Sucker Creek on the 28th and 30th of the same month, serve as sad episodes, of which we have given the details in our former issues.
Through the valleys in the interior, business of every kind has been suspended, and the inhabitants for purposes of defense have all formed themselves into companies, some in actual service and in pursuit of the Indians; others gathered in temporarily constructed forts for the protection of families and property. Hart & Co.'s and Jackson's Inland Expresses, who left Sailor Diggings on Saturday and Sunday last, report no changes in this state of things up to that time. Reports were, however, current that the Indians continued to hold their ground boldly on the headwaters of Grave Creek, and that the regular and volunteer forces contemplated to attack them again on Saturday or Sunday (11th inst.).
By the arrival of Lieut. Kautz at this place the report of the massacre at Big Bend, 30 miles above the mouth of Rogue River, is proved to have been premature and without foundation. The subsequent information received here, of signs of hostility amongst the Indians between this and Gold Beach, turns out to be equally groundless. Persons traveling up and down the beach noticed, without exception, only a friendly disposition amongst the Indians.
The Indians on the South Fork of Smith River, a few days ago gave warning to the white settlers of a band of armed Indians skulking through that section of country, and a movement was set on foot to send out a party to look after them. We would not in the least discourage a proper vigilance on the part of the citizens and settlers in the neighborhood, but in these reports derived from friendly Indians we may expect to be often misled by apprehensions and exaggerations suggested by their own fears.
The hostile Indians throughout Illinois and Rogue River Valley are, without exception, provided with firearms, and it becomes less and less probable that any of our coast tribes intend to join them with their bows and arrows.
Crescent City Herald, November 14, 1855, page 2
(From our Extra of Saturday, Nov. 17th.)
The Indian War in Rogue R. Valley.
According to the latest advices from the interior, it appears that the Indians at the headwaters of Grave Creek have declined awaiting a second attack of the military forces in Rogue River Valley, and consequently have abandoned that position for some other yet to be found out. The regulars have returned to Fort Lane, and the militia are at Vannoy's, busy with their transformation into a regiment of Oregon Mounted Volunteers, authorized to be raised by proclamations of the governor of Oregon. This change is to take place on the 21st inst., Major James Bruce commanding the volunteer force.
Major W. W. Fowler from Jacksonville, chief agent for the purchase of supplies for the Commissary's and Quartermaster's Departments, arrived in town last evening with over a hundred pack mules. 200 pairs of blankets form one item in the orders to be filled.
The route from here to Sailor Diggings is considered safe; from there to Jacksonville armed parties accompany the trains. We have not heard that there is any danger farther up towards the Klamath River and Yreka.
The following letter, received yesterday, would seem to give some clue to the present whereabouts of the hostile Indians:
Port Orford, Nov. 10th, 1855.Crescent City Herald, November 21, 1855, page 2
Editors Herald:--I am requested to use my efforts to get word through to Illinois and Rogue River Valleys and inform the regulars and volunteers that part of a company are now at Big Bend of Rogue River, and the balance will be there by the 15th inst., and that the largest body of the hostile Indians are at the mouth of John Mule Creek, 30 miles below Galice Creek. Should the troops above act in concert with those at Big Bend, the Indian troubles will be of short duration.
Please forward this information with dispatch and oblige
Nov. 10th 1855Capt. Bailey
Will move with his command except so many as may be necessary to protect this place to Camas Prairie 20 miles southwest of Deer Creek upon the headwaters of Coquille River and there remain until further orders.
You will furnish the unprotected families in the vicinity of your post with a sufficient force from time to time as to render them safe.
In chastising the enemy you will use your own discretion provided you take no prisoners. You will erect such winter quarters as you deem necessary. You will allow two dollars per day as extra compensation to each soldier you may employ in erecting the same.
Upon Thursday next [the] 15th day of Nov. you will hold an election in your company for Major of the Northern Battalion of the Southern Division of the Oregon Mounted Volunteers. You will send the result by a special messenger under seal to the adjutant of said battalion at Fort Gordon near Mr. Riddle's on Cow Creek.
W. J. MartinOregon State Archives, Yakima and Rogue River War, Document File B, Reel 2, Document 679.
N. Bat. S. Div. O.M.V.
By I. N. Smith Acting Adjutant
Headquarters Fort BaileyCapt. Buoy
Nov. 10th 1855
Will move with his entire command as soon as practicable for Camp Elliff near the south end of the Canyon and there remain until further orders. You will leave a sufficient force at this place until relieved by Capt. Keeney.
You will use your best exertions in keeping open the road from the crossing of Cow Creek to the northern end of the Canyon.
You will furnish the families that are unprotected en route from Cow Creek to the northern end of the Canyon with a sufficient number of men to render them safe. In chastising the enemy all is left to your discretion provided you take no prisoners.
You will erect such winter quarters as you may deem necessary. You will allow two dollars per day each as extra compensation to soldiers in your company that you may employ in erecting the same.
Upon Thursday next [the] 15th day of Nov. you will hold an election in your company for Major of the Northern Battalion of the Southern Division of the Oregon Mounted Volunteers. You will send the result of said election under seal by a special messenger addressed to the adjutant [remainder not filmed]
Oregon State Archives, Yakima and Rogue River War, Document File B, Reel 2, Document 679.
Indian Agent's No. 11th 55To E. M. Barnum
Rogue River Valley
Respected sir yesterday I mustered into the service of Oregon at Vannoy's ferry the four companies from Jackson County called for by the proclamation of the Governor of the date of Oct. 15th 1855. As soon as mustered they went into an election for major which resulted in the election of Captain James Bruce.
The troops had been commanded by Col. John E. Ross, C. S. Drew acting as his aide, both of them endeavoring to prevent the men from organizing under the proclamation. I never saw as much cold calculation & open blackheartedness, in fact, open rebellion against the laws, as was manifested on this occasion. Had it not been for the influence of Doct. Ambrose, Mr. Hughes & some of the other good citizens, the troop would have went home and not have formed into mounted volunteers, as the proclamation called for. Much credit is due to Capt. James Bruce for his noble conduct on this occasion. Col. Ross ordered him to disband his men or to come under his (Col. Ross') orders. Capt. Bruce told him that he and his men were mustered under the proclamation & would not obey him any longer, at least when he would be going against the Governor's orders. Ross then ordered the commissary to not issue rations to any but those companies under the 9th Regiment of Oregon Militia, commanded by him (Ross). Capt. Smiley Harris, being one of Ross' & Drew's party got an order from Ross to draw all the ammunition and ten days' rations & sent his men out under pretense of guarding a pack train on the Crescent City trail. This was done for the purpose of preventing many of his men from joining the volunteers under the proclamation as many of them wished to do so. I met [Quartermaster] Genl. John F. Miller at Evans Ferry last night on his way to headquarters. He & Bruce will soon straighten things. I write in haste as the mail will soon go out. It has rained here incessantly the last three days. I will inform you more particularly soon as possible.
Respt. yoursTo Genl.
John K. Lamerick
E. M. Barnum
Oregon State Archives, Yakima and Rogue River War, Document File B, Reel 3, Document 708.
Headquarters Southern BattalionInformation having been received that armed parties are still in the field with the avowed purpose of waging a war independent of the executive of this Territory and in violation of law and General Order No. 11 issued by the Governor October 20th, 1855 to wit,
Vannoy's Ferry Nov. 11th 1855
It is therefore ordered that the commanding officers of the battalions authorized by the proclamation of the Governor of the 15th day of October instant will enforce the disbanding of all armed parties not duly enrolled in the service of the Territory by virtue of said proclamation.
As the peace and happiness of our country depends upon order and law-abiding persons, it is therefore expected and required that all persons not duly enrolled into the service of the Territory by virtue of the proclamation of the Governor of the Territory of Oregon will disband in accordance with General Order No. 10. it is also expected and required that all persons belonging to the Southern Battalion who have been regularly enrolled into the service of the Territory will assist in carrying out this order.
Men under persons assuming authority are hereby notified that they are at liberty to enroll themselves under the proclamation and according to law.
It is confidently expressed that persistence in violation of law will cease from and after this date and that all good citizens will see the necessity of cheerfully acquiescing in and strictly conforming to the laws of our country.
James Bruce MajorOregon State Archives, Yakima and Rogue River War, Document File B, Reel 2, Document 582.
Commanding Southern Battalion
Oregon Mounted Volunteers
Rogue River Correspondence of the Statesman.
HEADQUARTERS, SIX BIT HOUSEDear Bush--A detachment of Capt. Bailey's company has returned from a scouting expedition through the mountains after the Indians, who were halo ["absent"]. As matters have turned, it is perhaps quite as well that these scouts failed to find the siwashes, for Capt. Smith and Col. Ross both were unable to keep their engagements with Major Martin. On the 2nd of November, the day after the battle, Ross and Smith agreed to be at the Grave Creek House with their respective commands as early as the 9th inst., prepared to pursue the Indians into the mountains and make another attack upon them. Martin sent out a party of scouts to ascertain the position of the Indians, in order that he might report it to Capt. Smith and Col. Ross, on their arrival at Grave Creek, and be ready to proceed immediately into the mountains. But at last accounts, the Jackson Co. battalion was not organized, nor likely to be. Charlie Drew was endeavoring to induce the companies who were engaged in the late battle in the Grave Creek Hills, to disband, and not organize under the Governor's proclamation. At the time of the outbreak in Rogue River, Col. Ross, Drew and some others of that clique wrote to Curry requesting that Col. Ross be authorized to call out the militia of Jackson County. The messenger who was dispatched with the letters, on his arrival in Umpqua Valley, met Curry's proclamation calling for four companies of volunteers from Jackson County, who were to organize a battalion, and elect their own major. In the meantime, some twelve or thirteen companies had been formed in Jackson Co., of who Ross assumed command, by virtue of his office as colonel of the militia of Jackson County. Capt. Lamerick, who has been appointed Asst. Adjutant General to muster the companies into their respective battalions, did not arrive in Jackson Co. till after the late battle. Some twelve or thirteen companies of from 20 to 80 men each offered to muster in--Lamerick told them he was authorized to muster in four companies of sixty men each, under the proclamation--that he was willing to muster four companies into a battalion, according to the proclamation, and then would muster as many as offered into one or more other battalions, who could also organize and elect their major, and ask to be received into service. This fair proposition was not acceptable to Drew, and he declared that no company should be mustered in, unless all the companies that offered could be received into the same battalion, or rather, regiment. It is said that if four companies should be mustered in, that Jim Bruce would be elected major over either Drew or Ross.
November 12th, 1855.
Major Fitzgerald from Fort Lane is now on his way to the Dalles, with about ninety dragoons. He will be at Winchester tomorrow. Capt. Smith will not pursue the Indians until Capt. Judah arrives from Fort Jones.
Col. Ross sent a request or invitation to Capt. Bailey of Martin's battalion to come on to Rogue River and join his command! He also sent over Dr. Henry, of Yamhill, to take charge of the hospital at Martin's headquarters!! Martin had previously placed the hospital in charge of Drs. Fiske and Danforth. Martin employed Danforth out of courtesy to Gov. Curry, who had given D. an appointment as surgeon of the So. Division. While Martin was absent from headquarters, Henry arrived with an appointment from Ross and took charge of Martin's hospital--employed Danforth as assistant, and gave Fiske notice that his services were no longer needed! Henry also posted up "regulations" in the hospital signed by himself as Chief Surgeon of the Volunteers, and Danforth as assistant. When Martin returned, Fiske informed him of Henry's doings--immediately a scene ensued--Martin went in and tearing down "then d-----d regulations" he stuck them.in Henry's face--told "Henry that "dod rot him" he would "give him just five minutes to leave his hospital"--that he would learn him not to insult a commander of a battalion by any interference with his hospital or his men. The boys all hurrahed for Warnick, and Henry sneaked off, telling Martin that he would meet him some other time, when he was not surrounded by his battalion.
Martin gained considerably eclat by his little affair with Henry. Martin's letter to Ross is also a choice thing. He writes Ross that the No. Bat. So. Div. O. M. Vols. is commanded by Major W. J. Martin, and that any interference with any of his men or any of the officers of his battalion will be taken as an insult, and treated accordingly.
When Martin was elected major, only two companies were at the rendezvous. Drew and Henry and their emissaries have been endeavoring to create the impression that the election was not legal, and that it was not a fair expression of the sentiment of the battalion. Accordingly, now that the battalion is full, Martin has ordered a new election, which takes place tomorrow, and unless everybody is deceived, he will be re-chosen.
There seems to have been strange work in making appointments all round. There was no necessity whatever for the appointment of any such trash.
Sam May says he has a letter from ------ to ------, in which ------ recommends ------ to employ May, if he can get him!! May has not sense enough to keep his mouth closed; he is continually boasting of the good thing he has got; says Bush is "not in the ring," that "we have got the control of these war matters," that "Curry has closed down on politics," &c. &c. The others are more politic.
Oregon Statesman, Corvallis, November 24, 1855, page 2
LATEST FROM THE INTERIOR.
(THROUGH HART & CO.'S EXPRESS.)
Disturbances in Deer Creek and Illinois Valley--Fight with a Party
of Indians at "Jumpoff Joe" Creek--Rogue River--Five Indians Killed--
One Volunteer Supposed to be Mortally Wounded.
From Mr. Thompson, of Hart & Co.'s Express, who left Sailor Diggings on Monday afternoon, and arrived in town yesterday evening, we learn the Indians drove off all the cattle from Dr. Smith's ranch in Deer Creek Valley, on the 17th inst. On the night of he same day their fires were seen in different directions from the dwelling house of Geo. Briggs, Esq., in Illinois Valley. These occurrences have reawakened the excitement, and created fears, which through a momentarily quiet had been suffered to sleep.
Of the affairs in Rogue River Valley the following letters contains the latest information from that quarter:
Sailor Diggings, Nov. 19, 1855.Eds. Herald:--On the 17th inst., Geo. W. Edd, J. L. Fry, P. Shellbeck, Voorhies, Mullen and 15 others, belonging to Captain Williams' company and commanded by Lieut. Mike Bushey, being out on a scout, came upon a party of Indians near the mouth of "Jumpoff Joe" Creek early in the morning and succeeded in killing 5 of them and wounding a good many others. The Indians had some 30 pack mules loaded with provisions and merchandise, and were making their way to the "Big Meadows" down Rogue River. They showed much boldness in the encounter, telling the volunteers if they wanted a fight to come to their "Big House," where they had two white women, whom the "Bostons" might endeavor to retake if they were good men, etc. The volunteers took from them a quantity of provisions and destroyed their canoes, which were loaded with plunder. They also captured a horse with saddle and bridle and packed with goods supposed to have been taken from Peters & Lad's train.
The Indians were finally getting to be too many for the scouting party, and they withdrew to headquarters with one of their number, Amass Morse, of Althouse, dangerously wounded. He is now in the care of Drs. Barkwell and Bremen, who entertain but slight hopes of his recovery. The pursuit of the Indians will be resumed as soon as possible.
The country is in a deplorable condition. The houses are either burnt down or deserted, and what stock is left is running wild, everybody in dread of the merciless savages.
There are some 300 Indians on the reserve at Fort Lane, belonging to the Sam, Elijah and Sambo tribes. They are provided with a special guard and under the charge of the Indian agent. They express unreservedly their disapprobation of the course pursued by the hostile Indians, and say the "Bostons" ought to kill them.
Capt. Smith and Capt. Judah, U.S.A., are both at Fort Lane, and will start out in pursuit of the Indians as soon as the volunteers are ready.
A reorganization of the volunteer companies took place in obedience to the proclamation of Gov. Curry. The Adjutant Gen., J. K. Lamerick, mustered them into service on the 11th inst. The captains of the four companies from Jackson County are--Rob. Williams, Rice, Wilkinson and Alcorn.
Capt. Smith has delivered the Indian prisoners Sam and Dick to the civil authorities of California.
The united forces of volunteers and regulars are to march down Rogue River to the "Big Meadow" in about three days or about as soon as they can get ready.
Yours respectfully,Crescent City Herald, November 21, 1855, page 2
Mr. Northcutt has furnished us with the following particulars of the Indian attack on his premises in Deer Creek Valley, October 24th.
On the night of the 23rd (the day of the affray on the Mooney Mountain in which two Spaniards and a considerable number of mules were killed):
I was on guard at my house--I heard a movement among my cattle near the house, and shortly after a single shot. In a few moments more I saw the smoke of a fire about three-fourths of a mile from the house, and suspected at once that there were Indians about me, and sent a runner immediately to Capt. Fry's company.
In the morning (24th) six men of Fry's company, who were staying at my house, left me to go to the Mooney Mountain, in search of the bodies of the men who were murdered the day before. They were hardly out of the sound of gunshot before five Indians were seen driving my horses from the field, the Indians being all mounted. They drove the animals in a direction towards the house to a thicket, behind which, as we afterwards found, were stationed other Indians to guard those with the animals in case of an attack from the house. Two men from my house ran out towards the thicket in order to head off the Indians with the animals, but when within about seventy-five yards of it the Indians opened a fire on them, firing five shots.
The men then retreated towards the house. One of them looking back saw an Indian step from behind a tree to shoot; he immediately drew his own gun and fired and the Indian fell. The other man was also shot at, and on the report of the gun, he happened to stumble, when the Indian hallowed out, "That was a d--n good shot, I gave him h-ll!" But when he saw the man was not killed, he said, "Don't run, d--n you, but come out and fight." This was the Indian (Jim) who has been a good deal employed in pack trains; we all recognized him, and I shot at him from the house.
I had five men at my house this time, besides myself; we all then took our stations in the house, prepared for an attack, but none was made. At about noon of the same day Capt. Fry arrived with his company.
I told him the direction in which the Indians probably were, and he started in pursuit. At about three-fourths of a mile from the house they found where an ox had been killed and eaten; a mile farther they found eight more of my cattle just killed and fires prepared for drying the meat. They could see no Indians, but were shot at while in this camp.
They returned to my house in the evening and Capt. Williams with a part of his company came there also, and camped in my yard.
During the night of the 24th, they heard an Indian hallow on the side hill near the house. One of the men called and asked him what he wanted. He answered by asking what he wanted. The volunteer said, "Come down and make a treaty." He had hardly spoken before two shots were fired. The next day I left my house with my family. If I do not lose my house I have already nine head of cattle killed and one wounded, one horse killed and one driven off, with fourteen head of hogs.
By inserting the foregoing in your paper or so much of it as shall correct the statement that I lost "but seven head" of cattle,
You will oblige,Crescent City Herald, November 28, 1855, page 2
Your obd't. servt.,
E. J. Northcutt.
For the Statesman.
Gardiner, O.T., Nov. 26, 1855.Editor of the Statesman:--The Indians in this vicinity have been collected at the mouth of the Umpqua River by Agent Drew, and are being fed by his order. Drew is now at Coos Bay collecting the friendly Indians at Empire City.
Two Rogue River Indians recently came up the coast and visited the Umpquas.--"Old Jim," a friendly Indian, says that the Siuslaw Indians have recently had a war dance. What all this means is not known. The settlers are not generally much alarmed.
Five soldiers are now stationed at this point, and it is understood that the number will soon be increased to twenty, and others stationed at Scottsburg. Probably there is more property and fewer men comparatively, to protect the same, in Scottsburg, than at any other point in the Territory.
Three vessels are lying at this port ready for sea.
Very respectfully yours, &c.Oregon Statesman, Salem, January 8, 1856, page 2
A. C. GIBBS.
More Indian Depredations at the South.
Fight at the Little Meadows.
The Indians in the Rogue River and Umpqua valleys are still committing their depredations on the defenseless settlements, pillaging and burning houses and property of the settlers and, growing bolder by their success, have approached nearer the towns. The following letter was received on Thursday by Thos. J. McCarver, assistant Com. Gen., to whom we are indebted for a copy:
Roseburg Commissary Office,Dear Son--Since you left this place this morning, information of a reliable character reached here that Mr. Rice and family--with the exception of a small boy--had been murdered this morning at daylight, about fifteen miles of this place, and the house set on fire, the smoke of which has been seen by several persons now in town. [See the contradicting report, a few paragraphs below.] The boy reports about 100 Indians in the attacking party. Great consternation has been produced in this place and neighborhood.
Dec. 1st, 1855.
Adjutant Stratton, of Major Martin's battalion, is here and is now engaged in making out orders for the remnants of Capts. Bailey, Gordon and Chapman's companies now in the neighborhood to repair without delay to the scene of hostilities, and we are preparing to give them a hearty reception at this place if their object is commissary and quartermaster's stores.
I send this by the messenger who follows Capt. Bailey, who left with you this morning. We have sent a messenger to the scene of difficulty. When he returns, if necessary, I will dispatch another without delay to the Governor. In the meantime, show this to the different newspaper editors in the Willamette Valley.
I am, &c.,Thos. J. McCarver,
M. M. McCarver,
Commissary Genl. Oregon Militia.
Asst. Com. Genl. Oregon Militia.
We are also informed by Mr. McCarver that an express arrived at Roseburg on the 30th ult. from Little Meadows, on Rogue River, bringing news that a fight had taken place a day or two before at that point. Part of Maj. Martin's battalion was engaged in crossing Rogue River by means of a raft. On placing the third log in the water, they were fired upon from the brush on the opposite side by a superior number, and not being prepared for fighting were compelled to lie behind the rocks, or anything which would shelter them from the enemy's fire, till night covered their retreat. A Mr. Lewis of Capt. Kinney's company was killed; one of Capt. Kinney's, two of Capt. Williams' and one of Capt. Rice's companies were wounded; one other was wounded, but of whose company was not learned. It is not known that any Indians were killed in this engagement.
During the day, a beef belonging to the volunteers was killed, and at night the Indians crossed and carried it off, together with a quantity of arms, ammunition and provisions.
Since the above reached us, a letter has been received by the Governor from Gen. McCarver, who is at Roseburg, which states that instead of one hundred Indians attacking Mr. Rice's house, as reported, the number did not exceed twenty or thirty, who were repulsed by the men in the house, though not until Mr. Rice was wounded in the arm, fracturing the bone. His outbuildings were burned, and several unsuccessful attempts made to set fire to his house. Up to the date of his letter (Dec. 2nd), Gen. McCarver had received reliable information that about ten houses had been burned in the vicinity of Roseburg. All, however, had been vacated or were outbuildings. The inhabitants had received intelligence of the approach of the hostile band from a friendly Indian and fled, leaving their houses and property to the mercy of the savages, who burned and destroyed them. A small party of volunteers was hastily made up at Roseburg on the 1st inst., which together with a part of Capt. Bailey's company and the citizens in the vicinity of the attack, numbering in all thirty or forty men, immediately started in pursuit of the Indians. A party under J. P. Day discovered the camp of the enemy, about sixteen miles from Roseburg, on Olilly Creek, attacked them on the morning of the 2nd, at daylight, killing two on the spot and effectually routing the band. They captured twenty-three head of horses, all their bedclothing, provisions &c., and three rifles. Many of the balance of their guns were lost in swimming the creek. Only one man was wounded in the fight--Assistant Quartermaster General Castleman. The wound is in the abdomen and is thought not to be dangerous. Information had been received that part of Capt. Gordon's company, which had started through the Canyon in compliance with Maj. Martin's orders, had returned to the Cow Creek settlements, where the Indians were killing cattle &c. It was also said that they, together with the neighboring citizens, were fighting with another band of Indians about ten or eleven o'clock on the 2nd inst., as they were in hot pursuit, and persons who had arrived from the Canyon reported much firing in that direction.
From this it would appear that the scene of hostilities has changed, and that while the citizens were preparing to pursue them in Rogue River Valley, the enemy have made their appearance in the Umpqua and commenced their depredations in that quarter.
Adjutant Stratton was to leave for the Little Meadows on the 3rd. Owing to the condition of things in the Umpqua he has countermanded Maj. Martin's orders, directing all the forces to the Little Meadows, and will leave 100 men to protect the settlements.
This force is deemed inadequate, and if Maj. Martin's battalion remains long in the Rogue River Valley it is feared they will suffer much from the savages, unless more companies are organized and more arms and ammunition distributed among the citizens of the Umpqua Valley. Arms are very scarce and calls are made on the Commissary Department continually, which is entirely destitute, the last having been given out during the last alarm.
The end of this war will only be when the last redskin, who has spread terror among the peaceable citizens of these two valleys, shall have bit the dust.
Weekly Oregonian, December 8, 1855, page 2
Rogue River Correspondence of the Statesman.
Grave Creek, Nov. 29, 1855.Dear Bush: An express from the west reached here this evening, bringing the latest news from the seat of war. Major Bruce, Major Martin and Capt. Judah, of Fort Jones, with their respective commands, left Grave Creek, headquarters of the northern battalion, on the morning of the 20th inst., for the lower Rogue River, where, from the best information, the Indians were in force. Near the close of the first day's march their scouts were discovered, and on the next the army encamped at the mouth of Whisky Creek, where Capt. Bowie and Capt. Kinney with two companies of the northern battalion had encamped on the day previous. Evident traces of very recent departure of a considerable body of Indians were found at this point, and no doubt was entertained that they had discovered the movements of our forces and proceeded down the river, about eight miles, when our scouts discovered them in strong force on Rogue River, about six miles above the Little Meadows. Our forces had left Camp Vannoy with ten days' rations, and half of this was consumed before the enemy was discovered. No time could therefore be lost, and an attack was at once determined upon, notwithstanding the almost inaccessible position of the enemy. For this purpose Major Bruce, with his command and one company of Maj. Martin's battalion, Capt. Kinney's, on the morning of the 27th, attempted to throw his division across the river, about four or five miles below the Indian village. While engaged in constructing flats [sic--"rafts"] for this purpose, he was fired upon by the Indians from the opposite bank of the river. So dense was the forest and undergrowth of brush that no enemy could be seen--not even the smoke or flash of their rifles for some time. During the day, however, our boys had opportunity of drawing a bead on some of the redskins, and two or three we know to have been killed. We lost one killed, Wm. Lewis, of Capt. Kinney's company, one wounded from the same; two of Capt. Williams', one of Capt. Rice's, and another of whose company or name I am not informed, in all five wounded. A sharp fire was kept up from both sides of the river all day, but no further attempt was made to cross. Major Bruce very wisely concluded that it must involve a loss of life which the circumstances did not and could not justify. In the meantime Capt. Judah, with his howitzer, which had been brought over the mountains with great difficulty, accompanied by Maj. Martin and two small companies of volunteers, had gone around on a high mountain ridge to gain a position for the howitzer immediately in front of the Indians' encampment. They had nearly gained the point of the mountain some twelve miles from camp when an express arrived, notifying them that Major Bruce could not gain his position as anticipated, to act in concert. Major Martin and Capt. Judah were therefore, reluctantly, compelled to return to camp. Owing to the want of provision, and the difficulty of getting supplies across the mountains, operations were suspended until a new supply could be brought forward. A few days will therefore elapse before any new movement is made.
In great haste, yours, X.
Oregon Statesman, Corvallis, December 8, 1855, page 3
Umpqua Correspondence of the Statesman.
Deer Creek, December 3, 1855.Dear Bush: The din of preparation, the dashing of armed horsemen through our streets, the animated, excited faces and the nervous movements of our usually staid citizens, assures us of the presence of a subject of more than ordinary importance.
Yesterday we were startled with the report that the family of Mr. Rice, living near the mouth of Lookingglass Creek, about eight miles from this place, had been attacked by a body of Indians one hundred strong. Several persons from the vicinity came to this place, in quick succession, for assistance, all having heard the firing and saw the smoke of the burning buildings. A small company was immediately raised and proceeded to the point of attack. This morning fourteen persons, citizen volunteers, from this place and the neighborhood of the outbreak, under the lead of James P. Day, discovered the camp of the Indians. Mr. Day had made a thorough reconnoiter of their position during the night, and at daybreak the signal was given for the attack. The Indians were completely surprised, but owing to the thickness of the brush they had time to seize their arms, and for a few moments fought with great desperation, but it was no use, "Pat" and his little band made the place entirely too hot for a comfortable stay in that quarter. The redskins fled, leaving 3 dead on the ground, and several supposed to have thrown themselves in the creek, who were mortally wounded. 23 head of fine horses, 3 rifles and a large amount of stolen property were found in the camp. They escaped with only 3 rifles, losing their arms in crossing the creek. Mr. Day estimates their number at 25 or 30, supposed to be Cow Creeks and Rogue River Indians.
Mr. Castleman, assistant quartermaster general, was the only man wounded, and he but slightly. Dr. L. S. Thompson, surgeon, has gone to his assistance.
Mr. Day, Mr. Castleman, Mr. James Bennett, Mr. Hanley and the others engaged in the affair deserve certainly great praise for their prompt and gallant conduct, and will undoubtedly receive the thanks and gratitude of our citizens. I had neglected to say that a small portion of Capt. Bailey's company, Lane Co. volunteers, were in the neighborhood and immediately proceeded to take up a position to cut off the retreat of the Indians, but unfortunately only 2 or 3 reached their position in time to fire upon the retreating foe. A few such checks as this will do much to relieve this valley from the incursions of the Rogue Rivers. Upon the whole, it is thus far the most brilliant affair of the war. Mr. Rice, whose house was first attacked, was wounded in the arm in defending his premises. His outbuildings, a schoolhouse in the vicinity, and eight others, all of them having been vacated by the inhabitants, were burned.
A letter from Capt. Gordon, received this evening, announces that after having proceeded through the Canyon according to the order of Major Martin, he received a message from one of the Cow Creek scouts that the Indians were killing and driving off stock in that quarter. He immediately returned, and it is reported that he has been fighting them today, but I cannot vouch for the truth of it.
Z.Oregon Statesman, Corvallis, December 8, 1855, page 3
Umpqua Correspondence of the Statesman.
Winchester, Dec. 6, 1855.Dear Bush:--Today I have to report the return of the army from the Meadows. The snow and cold weather, together with the scarcity of clothing and provisions, have checked further pursuit of the enemy for the present. The Indians commenced on Ten Mile Prairie, in this county, on Saturday morning last, and as reports have it, have burnt eleven houses and shot a Mr. Rice in the arm. An attack was made on Mr. Rice's house, when he fought them until relief came. The Indians were afterwards driven into the mountains near Cow Creek. Pat Day and party made an attack upon them, and took 23 head of horses, seven pounds of powder, one gun and three beef cattle. The Indians threw some of their guns into the river. Of the number killed, no two reports agree--one says one, another three. The above statement is given as I have received it from those just in the vicinity of the prairie. Very few reports agree nowadays of the same transactions in this war.
A rumor came here on Tuesday last that a large body of Indians had collected near Atkins' mill, on or near the Umpqua, five miles below Winchester, and an attack was expected on the settlement, but it proved a humbug. The individual who circulated this crazy report is of the Parkinson school of philosophers.
News from Scottsburg states that the coast Indians have gone up Coos Bay, to parts unknown. They are seeking winter quarters or the valley for the purpose of making depredations. Nothing very excellent can be expected of them. One thing is now a fact, that the war is a sure and certain calamity, and when it will end or in what manner the future alone can determine. That all the Indians that can will unite together in this war no one will disbelieve who is familiar at all with the condition of things in this valley. There are 705 warriors on the coast between Siuslaw and the California line--400 of those are on Rogue River and between that river and California. There was another rumor here that the Indians had left the reserves in this valley, which turns out to be a hoax. Rumor has it now that they are going down to Yamhill, to be fed awhile on the reserve there. The appointment of Dr. Drew, quartermaster-general, is an excellent one, and your position regarding the Know Nothings meets the approbation of every true and firm Democrat in this valley. A great many misgivings are entertained about the conduct of some of your contemporaries in this Know Nothing affair. I have thought that they said rather more than they intended to say on the subject, because I did not believe that a journal professing to be Democratic could be guilty of such a gross departure from the principles of the Democracy, as to justify the appointment and existing of Know Nothing officials under a Democratic administration. Your position is the only correct one, and those who differ are not with the Democracy. Capt. Mosher is south and is, I learn, a candidate for col. of the regiment, so is Maj. Martin--some talk of Capt. Judah for the same office. R. J. Ladd, Esq., is talked of for lieut. col. The election takes place today.
Oregon Statesman, Salem, January 1, 1856, pages 2-3
THE INDIAN WAR IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA [sic].
From the Yreka Union we gather the following additional particulars in relation to the Indian war in the North:
"By government express we learn that a force of some thirty Indians, about one-half of them Umpquas, and the remainder from Rogue River, and probably the ringleaders, made a descent upon the settlement of Ten-Mile Prairie, in the Umpqua, burnt fifteen houses, killed some cattle and drove off some, and stole thirty horses, and that they were pursued and the property retaken; three Indians killed; only three white men killed. Great excitement prevails. This point is only about a day and a half from the Indian camp on the Rogue River. The troops, we learn, after having been reduced to half rations at the Meadows, have been compelled to retire for want of provisions. We do not know by whose fault this disastrous condition of things is suffered to occur, but we know there must be criminal neglect somewhere. We are aware that there is a class of men in Oregon who are using their influence to embarrass the efforts of the proper officers to obtain supplies for the army, but we are assured that an abundance of provisions and clothing has been secured in spite of this obstacle. And where is it? Why must the volunteers, in addition to the severe hardships incident to the campaign, be obliged to suffer with hunger? A great fault must lie somewhere."
Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, February 3, 1856, page 1
Expedition to the Meadows--Col. Martin's Report.
Headquarters, Camp Leland,E. M. Barnum, Adj. Gen. O.T.:
Dec. 10, 1855.
Sir:--Herewith I have the honor to submit to you a detailed account of the operations of the Northern Battalion, Southern Division, Oregon Mounted Volunteers under my command since my report of Nov. 3rd.
After the battle of the Grave Creek Hills, in which a small portion of my command participated, a want of supplies compelled Col. Ross, commanding the ninth regiment Oregon militia, and Capt. Smith, of the regulars, to withdraw their forces from this point. Whilst making every preparation to renew the attack upon the Indians in their recent stronghold, it was ascertained that they had abandoned their position, and from the best information that could be obtained, I was led to believe had removed further to the westward and probably taken up a position somewhere on the headwaters of the Coquille, in the big bend of Cow Creek, or possibly in the lower Rogue River country. In either event their proximity to the thickly settled districts on the south side of the South Umpqua River, and the great exposure of this portion of Umpqua Valley, determined me to install a sufficient force from the several companies under my command to occupy positions to check any demonstrations of the enemy in this quarter. For this purpose, Capt. Bailey, company A, of Lane County, was ordered to proceed to Camas Prairie, on the waters of the Coquille, a point easily accessible to the Umpqua Valley, and commanding the nearest and best trails from the coast as well as that leading across the Umpqua Mountains to lower Rogue River. Capt. Gordon, of the Douglas company, was ordered to occupy a position on Cow Creek, about eight miles above the mouth of that stream, in order to protect the settlements in that quarter from the incursions of the Cow Creek Indians, who had so recently committed such outrages between the Canyon and Grave Creek. Lieut. T. W. Prather, with a detachment of the same company, was ordered for the present to proceed up the North Umpqua, to keep an eye upon a small band of Indians who were reported to be in that area.
Under the proclamation of the Governor, authorizing the organization of two southern battalions, one cardinal object was to keep open a line of communication from the valleys of the Willamette and Umpqua south to the California line. For this purpose, Capt. Keener's company, of Linn County, was stationed at Camp Bailey, about five miles south of the crossing of Cow Creek, with orders to protect the road from the latter point to Grave Creek. For a similar object, Capt. Buoy's company B, of Lane County, was stationed at the south end of the Canyon--[Camp Elliff]--with orders to keep open the communication from [his post] to the [Cow] Creek crossing. Such was the disposition of my force on the 10th of November, with headquarters at Camp Bailey. No immediate movement could be made against the Indians, as it was quite uncertain where they were to be found since their departure from the Grave Creek Hills. Had I even been in possession of this information, there was not ten days' rations on the line from Roseburg to headquarters. My first object was therefore to bring up supplies for a winter campaign if necessary.
On the 17th of November, I received an express dispatch from Major Bruce, commanding the Southern Battalion, Southern Division, O.M. Vols., informing me that the Indians had made their appearance on Jumpoff Joe, and were supposed to be in force somewhere on the waters of that stream, and requesting me to cooperate with him with all my available force. I immediately ordered up a detachment of thirty-five men from Capt. Bailey's company, and forty from Capt. Chapman's company of Umpqua County, having been notified that this company was now in the field and ready to move. With Capt. Bailey's detachment, I proceeded to Camp Vannoy, headquarters of the Southern Battalion. In the meantime, Capt. Williams, commanding a company in Maj. Bruce's command, had fallen in with and routed a small [force] of Indians near the mouth of Jumpoff Joe, supposed to be the force which had given the alarm a few days before, and to which Maj. Bruce referred in his dispatch of [the] 17th. In a conference with Major Bruce and Capt. Judah of Fort Jones, Cal., it was determined to move our whole available force down Rogue River, under a clear conviction that the enemy had proceeded in that direction. Whilst I fully concurred in this as the most advisable course to pursue, I was fully aware of the difficulties and hazards of a campaign at this season, across the mountains covered with snow, and liable within a few hours at any time during the rainy season to be blocked up to an extent to bar the transit either of men or supplies. But no alternative was left but to do this, or go into winter quarters. The latter course could not be entertained for a moment, until one attempt had been made to strike an effectual blow against the enemy. To embarrass the movements of the battalion under my immediate command still further, notwithstanding my own exertions and those of the quartermaster's department, supplies had come forward barely fast enough to subsist the men and animals from day to day. I was therefore compelled to draw upon the quartermaster of the Southern Battalion for ten days' rations. Arrangements being completed for our march, on the morning of the 20th of November, two companies of the Southern Battalion, Capts. Williams' and Alcorn's, were ordered to proceed down the south side of Rogue River, crossing the mountains which separate that stream from Illinois Valley, and join the main body of our forces somewhere in the vicinity of Little Meadows. Two companies of the Northern Battalion, under Capts. Keeney and Buoy, had already proceeded down Grave Creek in advance of the main force. On the 21st, the residue of our force, consisting of Capts. Rice's and Wilkinson's companies, under Major Bruce, one company of regulars, under Capt. Judah, and [
Our second day's march, across a very elevated ridge from Grave Creek to the mouth of Whiskey Creek, on Rogue River, was one of great difficulty, and attended with much fatigue, both to the men and their animals. Capts. Buoy and Keeney had reached here the day before. From the reports of the scouts, as well as from the appearance of a recent encampment at this place, I was no longer in doubt that the Indians were either retiring before our forces, or concentrating their strength at some point in the vicinity of the Meadows. We therefore determined to push forward to that point, notwithstanding the shortness of our supplies, for two reasons: the hope of soon falling in with the enemy, and the assurance of our guides that [an abundance of] grass would be found there for our animals. Accordingly, early on Saturday, the 24th of November, our forces were toiling to the summit of the narrow divide which leads from the mouth of Whiskey Creek to the Little Meadows, a distance of 12 or 14 miles. Our progress was much impeded by the thick growth of low brushwood which covers the summit of the mountain, and the fallen timber across the trail. In descending the mountain, just before reaching camp, the attention of Capt. Judah, who led the advance, was arrested by the appearance of a camp on the river to his left, some five or six miles. Upon consultation with the guides, Capt. Judah was informed that it was the point where Capt. Williams' [detachment] (before referred to) would strike the river in crossing the mountain from Illinois Valley. The number and character of the tents confirmed the impression of the guides that this detachment had reached the river in advance of us. About sundown we encamped upon a small tableland or jog in the mountains, which here, and for many miles below, sweeps down the river with a gentle declivity, and covered with a luxuriant growth of grass denominated the Meadows. It was determined to remain here until the location of the Indians could be certainly ascertained. Accordingly, early on the following morning scouts were dispatched up and down the river to discover their whereabouts, or any recent traces of their movements. Much to our surprise, about 10 o'clock the detachment of Capts. Williams and Alcorn was discovered descending the mountain on our trail of yesterday, having crossed Rogue River at the mouth of Whiskey Creek, some three hours after the main body left camp at that point. The doubt as to the character of our neighbors in the canyon above was at once cleared up. Thos. East, the scout who had been dispatched down the river, returned early in the afternoon, bringing no information except having discovered a few moccasin tracks, all leading up the stream. On a consultation with Major Bruce, Capt. Judah, of the regulars, and the captains of the several companies, a plan of attack was arranged for the following morning, Nov. 26th, subject in the meantime to be modified by the report of R. S. Belknap and James P. Barns, the spies who had ascended the river. It was near daylight of the next day after their departure, before their return, in consequence of which I felt some little apprehension for their safety. They had succeeded in approaching closely upon the Indians, by descending a sharp spur of the mountains fronting directly upon their encampment, on the opposite side of the river. As this point could only be gained safely after dark, the number of the Indians, or the character of the fortifications on which they were evidently [at work], could not be determined. That they were fully apprised of our presence, and making every preparation for defense, was not doubted. The position of the Indians was one of great natural strength. From the mouth of Whiskey Creek to the Meadows, the river threads its way at the bottom of a deep and uninterrupted canyon, formed on the south side of the river by a mountain running parallel to its course, very precipitous, and for the most part covered with a heavy growth of fir and pine, so thickly set with undergrowth as scarcely to be penetrated. On the north side the river is lined with a succession of serrated points or spurs, thrown off at right angles to the river from the ridge which our forces had traversed in reaching the Meadows. To reach the river in the neighborhood of the Indians, from the north, by descending along the bottom of one of the intervening gorges, was impossible; to do so by descending the spur fronting the hostile camp, before referred to, our scouts pronounced a work of extreme difficulty, and barely practicable.
Capt. Judah had brought forward from Fort Lane, with great difficulty, a mountain howitzer with twenty rounds of shot and shell, which, in the hands of this experienced officer, could not fail to be very effective if a position could be gained to bring the Indians' works within range of the gun. In this particular, Capt. Judah was left to the guidance of his own judgment, with the assurance on the part of Major Bruce and myself of any support which he might need in addition to his force of regulars. Our first intention was to move under cover of night, but the guides were of the opinion that it would be impossible for the men to work their way in darkness across the gorges and through the dense undergrowth which covered the mountains for five or six miles--the distance to be traversed from a point opposite to our camp to the bar on which the Indians had fortified themselves. Our plan of attack was therefore to be put in execution as at first arranged. Maj. Bruce, with a force of about three hundred men, composed of the four companies of his own battalion, and one company--Capt. Keener's--of the Northern Battalion, was to cross the river at the most practicable point nearly opposite the camp--once across, to extend his line as far up the mountain as possible, his left, Keener's company [resting on the river], and Capt. Williams' formed the right.
In this order he was to proceed up the river, and if successful in reaching the neighborhood of the Indians by a flank movement of his right to enclose their camp. At the same time myself with the residue of my battalion, about one hundred men, companies A and B, Capts. Bailey and Buoy, accompanied by Capt. Judah, with the howitzer and fifty regulars, were to retrace our last day's march, about six miles, at that point making a sharp turn to the right along the ridge which would lead us to the spur overlooking the village before referred to. We were informed that the mules used to transport the howitzer could travel within a half or three-quarters of a mile of the break of the ridge overlooking the river. At this place the summit of the mountain became so narrow and irregular as to admit of the passage of the men only by hewing steps in the shelving cliffs and broken [crown] of the ridge, and where a misstep would send the unfortunate footman to certain destruction. The point once reached, the descent was almost equally difficult. Capt. Judah, in the face of all these obstacles, was determined nevertheless to make the attempt to reach the only position where his piece would command the entire encampment of the Indians; and if found practicable, I had determined to throw a part of my force across the river under cover of the howitzer and thus in conjunction with Maj. Bruce to attack them in front and rear. The two divisions left camp early on the morning of the 26th and proceeded as rapidly as possible to their respective points of operation. About 2 o'clock in the afternoon, having reached a position that commanded a view of the river and canyon where Maj. Bruce was to cross, I was first [apprised] by the report of firearms at short intervals, of the opposition which his division had met with in attempting to cross the river. My first impression was that he had gained the timber on the opposite bank and [was] pushing skirmishing parties of the Indians before him towards the bar. It was near sundown when Capt. Judah and myself reached the point where we were to leave the transport mules. In the meantime the firing below had much increased and the appearance of small detachments of Bruce's command still on the north bank and a body of Indians swarming around a signal fire in plain view of us on a small open ridge that led down [to] the river on the south side about a mile below the ranches gave me pretty sure intimation that Maj. Bruce had been attacked in attempting to cross. Just at dark an express arrived from him confirming our worst fears, by informing us that he had been attacked in attempting to cross, and requested that Capt. Judah might return with the gun and cover a second attempt. It is due to Maj. Bruce here to say that the expressman totally misapprehended his message; that his object was only to notify myself and Capt. Judah; that he had been unable to proceed as anticipated; that no request was sent either for the gun or reinforcements.
As any attempt to descend the mountain and make an attack from this side would be hazardous and fruitless without a cooperation on the other, I was reluctantly compelled to return to camp, as many of the men were much fatigued from the day's march. I left Capts. Bailey and Buoy encamped on the mountains. Capt. Judah and myself reached camp some hours after midnight, where we found Major Bruce, who had reached camp with his wounded soon after dark. For a detailed account of the operations of his division at the river, you will please see his report. Capt. Keeney, of my battalion, lost one man killed and one wounded. The remainder of the Northern Battalion reached camp early on the following day. Our field operations had now reached a crisis. Some movement was to be made and made quickly, either to make another attempt to dislodge the enemy or to retire to some point in reach of supplies.
There were but three days' rations in camp on the 27th of Nov., and every appearance of an approaching storm. In the haste with which my command had been brought from the different posts on the call of Maj. Bruce, most of the tents and camp equipage had been left behind, the men, in active service since the date of their being called into the field, [had been] performing hard marches across mountains through rain and snow, and throwing themselves down at night without shelter or covering but their blankets, and poorly provided with those. [
To pursue the first course, under the most favorable circumstances and with the greatest possible success that we could anticipate, would in any event throw upon our hands from 50 to 75 wounded men. To transport these across the mountains was impossible; to provide for such a contingency, by bringing up supplies to subsist a post at the Meadows during the winter season, was therefore a first and paramount object.
Maj. Bruce and Capt. Judah, in view of these considerations, had already, on the 25th inst., sent an express to Fort Lane and [Camp Vannoy on the morning of the 25th to hasten forward supplies. With a similar] object, on the 28th [I] dispatched Adjutant R. E. Stratton, with an escort of forty men under Capt. Bailey, the escort upon reaching Grave Creek, to return with such trains as might be in readiness at that point. It was therefore determined to remain in our present position until the last moment. Mr. Stratton bore orders to Capts. Gordon and Chapman to repair with their respective companies immediately to the Meadows. Under an apprehension that the Indians, who were known to be somewhere on the waters of the Coquille or Cow Creek, might make a descent upon the settlements of the Umpqua, Mr. Stratton was left with discretionary orders for those companies, to retain them in the Umpqua if [necessary]. The precaution was found not unnecessary. On the 3rd day of December, a small party of the Cow Creeks attacked the settlements on the west of the South Umpqua, near Lookingglass Prairie, burning fifteen houses which had been abandoned by the inhabitants, killing a large amount of stock and destroying other property. On the morning of the 4th, they were attacked by a small party of citizen volunteers supported by a detachment of company A, under Sergeant Holland, and completely routed them with two of their number killed and [quite a number] known to have been wounded. One Mr. Price was wounded in defense of his house from the Indians, on the 3rd; Assistant Quartermaster General Cattleman, severely, in the attack upon the Indians on the 4th. My order to Capt. Chapman reached him at [Grave Creek. He immediately pushed on to] the Meadows, escorting the only supply train (Mr. [Fortner's]) in readiness at that point. I may here say that my battalion was much indebted for supplies to this active and efficient trainmaster. Capt. Chapman arrived at the Meadows on the 31st, bringing the intelligence to Capt. Judah that Capt. Smith, of Fort Lane, to whom he had sent for supplies, had come as far as the foot of the first mountain on the trail from Camp Leland, from which point, owing to the lateness of the season, the inclemency of the weather, and with a thorough knowledge of the country he had to traverse, he deemed it too hazardous to proceed further. Upon the receipt of this intelligence, Capt. Judah reluctantly announced his intention to return to Grave Creek.
The snow was now falling rapidly, and the supplies which the last train brought were barely sufficient to provision the men to Camp Leland. Much as we regretted the course, necessity compelled Maj. Bruce and myself also to return to our respective headquarters. Owing to a doubt as to seniority of commission, neither Maj. Bruce nor myself felt authorized to assume the command of the regiment; yet, our intercourse with each other and with Capt. Judah, of the regulars, also, has been cordial and satisfactory. Since my last report, Adjutant J. W. Drew has resigned, and R. E. Stratton was appointed to fill the place on the 20th of Nov. I. N. Smith, Esq., and Mr. W. G. Hill have rendered me much assistance from time to time, as my aides. No important movement has taken place since my arrival at headquarters. My only object being to make such a disposition of my command as best to protect the road and settlements until such time as the Colonel of the regiment shall be elected under order of the Governor, of the ----- day of November.
W. J. MARTINBy R. E. Stratton, Adjutant.
Maj. Com'd'g. North Bat.
South. Div. Oregon M. Vols.
Table Rock Sentinel, Jacksonville, March 22, 1856, page 1 Corrections in brackets made from an original letter found in the Oregon State Archives, Yakima and Rogue River War, Document File B, Reel 3, Document 690.
Gen. Wool, U.S.A., is now, as we learn, engaged in arranging preliminaries for a campaign against the Indians at an early day. We are informed that Gen. Wool will take the field as soon as he can concentrate a sufficient force, obtain the necessary supplies for his troops, and the weather will permit of a successful campaign.
The Indian war has extended quite to Rogue River, where the inhabitants are in a state of the greatest alarm. A party of Indians from the Coos River had arrived at the ferry of the Coquille River, where, after taking possession of the boat, they killed several cattle, and the ferrymen were only saved by the intercession of a friendly Indian.
The Indians around Port Orford were in subjection, owing to the presence of a considerable number of armed Americans residing there.
From Coos Bay the news was equally exciting. The miners had organized themselves to repel an expected attack.
The brigs Glencoe, Quadratus and Jackson were at anchor off the spit, awaiting a fair wind.
The brig Cohansey, Higgins, reported ashore in the bay, had discharged her coals, and it was expected would be got off without damage.
The Indians have been troublesome on the Umpqua River, where three vessels at anchor in the river had proceeded up to the town, expecting an attack from a fleet of canoes.
At present the entire country, from Cape Blanco up to the Umpqua, is in a defenseless state. Arms and ammunition are scarce.
It was feared that in case of an attack upon Empire City, Coos Bay, the Indians would burn the vessels at anchor there.
The Indians at the Umpqua, Coos and Rogue rivers are well informed as to the movements of the northern tribes on the Columbia and in Washington Territory, which would indicate that they had constant communication with each other.
"Important from Oregon," Louisville Courier, Louisville, Kentucky, January 18, 1856, page 2
Jackson County, Nov. 16, 1855.* * * You will excuse me for taking notice of the following, but it is too good to lose. T. McF. Patton was with the detachment moving to Cow Creek. T. says he ran a narrow risk. I was with him or near him all the way from Grave Creek to Smith's, and I am sure he never saw four Indians, and they shot at some hogs in an opposite direction to that of T. McF., but not at him or any man. Nothing of less caliber than a six-pounder could have reached him from the point where the Indians were and the point which Tom occupied momentarily. No more concerning small fry.
The detachment stopped in Cow Creek Valley for three days, and were ordered to Grave Creek; there they joined Capt. Smith and Ross. A force of three hundred and seventy-eight men moved against the Indians in Grave Creek Hills, and on the 31st Oct. the Indians were discovered and attacked. Capt. Smith ordered a charge, which was faintly complied with. The fight became general, and every man was his own captain and fought on his own hook. We hauled off near dark and took quarters in the head of a ravine. On the morning of 1st Nov. the Indians attacked us. We fought them about two hours, and I think they found us as good in the brush as they were. While we were fighting in the morning. Dr. Henry assumed command and ordered a man to leave his position and take another, when the cub drew his rifle upon Henry and ordered him to leave there d----d quick, which order H. complied with in double-quick time.
The whole force left the field and repaired to the Six Bit House, where features of various kinds presented themselves, such as Henry's retreat from the Six Bit House, &c.
Capts. Buoy's and Bailey's companies were stationed here in the meantime; there were some aspiring lieutenants, who no doubt earnestly desired promotion, and true to Know-Nothing instincts were willing to sacrifice their best best friends to promote their own selfish purposes; they solicited Major Martin to order a new election, urging as a reason that the organization at the time Martin was elected was incomplete &c. The Major not desiring to command men who were unwilling to be commanded by him, and to use his own phrase, hoping a better man would be found, ordered a new election. A deputation was sent from Bailey's company to Buoy's, a caucus was held (nothing political, of course), and the result was that Capt. Bailey was selected to oppose Maj. Martin; not that the least objection could be found to Martin, but, as was said by "Sam," because "Bailey was a good Whig." In justice to Capt. Bailey, it might be said that he had nothing to do with this arrangement, yet at the same time, being present when the vote of his company was taken, he took good care not to decline, neither did he vote for Martin as it was understood he would.
Now I for one can discern but little difference between honest morality and moral honesty, and I like to see the fair thing in politics as in everything else, and I must confess that as an unsuspecting Democrat I must say that I was inclined in the incipient stage of affairs to discard anything like political distinctions, and went in heartily voting for Know-Nothing and everything else, supposing all right. It did not occur to me that these Know-Nothings had adopted this stop-thief cry for the purpose of avoiding suspicion, but imagine my chagrin and disappointment in finding all the places of importance filled with the most obnoxious Know-Nothings in the land, with nothing to recommend them in the service save their liberality--bigotry, and well-known unpopularity with the people. It would seem that these very generous, liberal and anti-party gentlemen have well played their games, and have succeeded by a kind of hocus pocus management in getting all the offices.
I learn that petitions are out for the removal of all Know-Nothings from office, holding any appointments from and under the Executive. I heartily concur in the principle.
I have written before, but owing to some shenanigan in the commissary's department you have not received my communications. I will write again whenever I can interest you.
Yours, &c. EDGAR.Oregon Statesman, Corvallis, December 1, 1855, page 1
For the Oregonian.
"Mose" on the Southern War.
Southern Oregon, Dec. 18, '55.MISTER DRYER--Sir--I see all the fellows are a-writing to you, so I don't see why I can't write some too, for I live out here and know about what's a-going on as well as any of them. I have been threatening to write you for some time, because I see some of the fellows that write for the Bush (I mean the Statesman) tell things that aren't altogether so. Well, in the first place, I see Bush knowing all about our country, better than we do that have lived out our 4 years here in the hills. Well, to begin back, I see Bush printed a piece written Oct. 20th by one of the fellows calling himself "Sober Sense," but they call him "Doc [Andrew Jackson] Kane" out here. [I] think if he had signed his name "damn fool" he'd have hit it. Well, he goes on to tell how the men pitched into the Indians on the reserve in the first place, murdering the women and children, and that's the cause of the Indians commencing to kill the white women and children. Well, if folks are fools enough to believe all Bush's writers, it's all right, but I think there's some that have got "common sense." I notice "Angus Brown" make "young Doc" take water one day up in Jackson. Some of Bush's writers say that after the whites killed the women up Rogue River, as soon as the Indians heard it below they commenced doing the same thing, and that was what made them do it. Now, this is all a mistake--in other words, it is false as hell. I think I ought to know, for I've been here all the time. As for its being a contrived plan of the settlers of Rogue River to have the pesky Indians break out and kill them all, that looks reasonable, too. So I'll go on since I began and tell you all about it. Well, it was a contrived plan of the Indians to break out, and they had the thing all set for weeks, yes, for months, beforehand; in the first place, the Indians had it fixed to break out on Monday night (the same day the poor Indians were murdered up Rogue River). They were to begin their hellish work on Rogue River and Evans' ferry and kill all the Bostons and burn all the houses, barns and grain between there and the south end of the canyon, and then run into the mountains, taking plenty of muckamuck ["food"] with them to do for a long time &c. But to commence with, on Monday they stole a keg of whisky, got so tight that they weren't able for service, so they had to delay their business till morning. The thing was all understood from one end of the country to the other. The Grave Creek and Cow Creek Indians all understood it, and were told that if they did not turn out and help, they would all be killed by the Rogue Rivers and Shastas, so just as quick as the Grave Creeks got the wawa ["word"] they broke right down the creek too and commenced killing the miners. All this, Mister Editor, can--be--proved--and sworn to, if necessary.
I see Bush has a piece printed in his paper of [December] the one, written in Jackson County; the fellow calls his name "Edgar." He begins writing with a lot of stars [ellipsis asterisks]. I cumtux ["understand"] jargon, but that beats me. He says "You will excuse me for taking notice of the following, but it is too good to lose. T. McF. Patton was with the detachment moving [to] Cow Creek. T. says he ran a narrow risk" &c., no more concerning small fry &c. Wonder if he, Edgar, doesn't consider himself a salmon; if he doesn't, others do. Wonder if "detachment" ain't a new name he has got for the mail. Bill Abbott is the boy's name that was carrying the mail through, and Mr. Patton and 2 or 3 other gentlemen were traveling down to the valley in company with him. [I] think if Edgar had been with or near Mr. P. at the crossing of Cow Creek, he'd have smelled Indians, and perhaps powder. Edgar says they shot at some hogs in an opposite direction, and not at Mr. P. or any other man. We all know the Indians just now are most damned careless, and would just as leave shoot a fellow right in the face as anywhere. And Bill Abbott tells altogether a different story. He then goes on with a lingo about the battle. Wonder who hired him to take items and write; [he] has a good deal to say about Doc. Henry, but from all accounts Mr. H. did as much service as any one of them, and I think he will stand fire better than a whole "detachment" of Edgars.
I ain't got time to write any more now, but if some of Bush's writers don't dry up their infernal lying, I'll kind of come down on some of them, and so on. If anyone asks you who wrote this, tell him it was one of the Jackson County boys, and an old residenter; a Know-Nothing took it from my forefathers the natural way and it stuck in.
Yours till death, MOSE.Weekly Oregonian, January 5, 1856, page 1 The letter was printed in illiterate "dialect," which has been regularized for clarity and searchability.
OUR CHRISTMAS .
(Written for the Santa Cruz Sentinel.)
We had just returned from Grave Creek to recruit our worn-out men and horses and on the 20th of December had pitched our tents on the south branch of Rogue River at the mouth of Eagle Creek. After a full three months' campaign against the Rogue River Indians, we had taken possession of a deserted farmhouse and some hay sheds, and although the snow fell in almost solid sheets, the cheerful faces of the volunteers as they sat around the campfires showed that they cared but little for the storm without--as we had been ordered into winter quarters. The wind blew a perfect hurricane; so fierce was the storm that for the first time since the war began we had not mounted guard. At ¼ past 11 o'clock p.m. a fierce thumping was heard at the door of the officers' headquarters; with a suppressed curse, Capt. Bob Williams admitted the individual--when a universal exclamation of "Good God, Tim, where did you come from?" For there stood Tim Collins, rifle in hand, looking more like a worn-out specter than the robust soldier that he was. Tim's look showed that there was work to be done, for about four weeks before he had been appointed as a guide for Capt. Smith's battalion of regulars, which had marched for the coast below Port Orford to break up an Indian camp at that place. We were not kept long in suspense. Tim brought a dispatch from Capt. Smith asking for immediate reinforcements, as his command was surrounded by the entire Indian tribe with Old John, the big war chief of the tribe. Before midnight, I had received orders to take command of thirty men, to be detailed from our company, with orders to report to Capt. Martin at 6 o'clock next morning. On the morning of the 21st, we left camp with a hundred and twenty picked men to march to the relief of Capt. Smith's command. The snow was so deep on the mountains that animals could not be used--thus forcing each man to carry six days' rations, besides his gun and blankets. At noon we had reached the foot of the Grave Creek Mountains where we left the road and turned down Rogue River, breaking our trail through three feet of snow across big Rogue [sic] and heavy-timbered mountains. The first night camping on the side of the mountains--our only shelter being large fir trees which to some extent broke the fierceness of the storm.
On the morning of the 23rd we resumed our march again, reached the river at the big bend, fording the river by wading waist deep, guiding ourselves as best we could from float ice and snow. Struck camp on the south side of the river. On the morning of the 24th, after breakfasting on a fat elk, killed by one of the pathbreakers, just as we were going into camp. We left camp, following down the river for ten or twelve miles, when the sharp ring of the rifles of the advanced guard told, but too plainly, that an Indian camp had been surprised. We were soon to the front--with my men I was ordered to cross on the north side of the river and attack the Indians from the rear. This order was obeyed by wading across. Reaching the rear of the camp, we found it entrenched with fallen timber and brush piles along the steep banks, but the darkness closed the battle. The Indians and our worn-out men resting without fire or supper, as best we could; the snow falling rapidly added to the darkness of the night, with the occasional yell of defiance from the Indians adding but little to the horrors of that night. During the night I had found a brush covering for my men, so as to command the camp with our long-range rifles, and at the coming of dawn we were ready for the conflict. In the meantime Capt. Martin had closed in upon the Indian camp by taking possession of a deep gully hedged in by willows. With daylight began one of the most closely contested battles of the war. The Indians, knowing their only hope was in holding their camp, and we ours in conquering it. The strong, near fire, the wind blowing a perfect hurricane, the snow falling as it can only fall in the Siskiyou Mountains--by 11 o'clock we had driven the Indians from their shelter. And now commenced one of those running fights where the horrors of Indian warfare in all its atrocity is exhibited. The hoarse howls of the savages, mingled with the defiant yells of the pursuing volunteers, and the sharp ring of the rifles, and the groans of the wounded and dying, all go to complete the horrors of our Christmas fight on the big meadows. For over seven miles this running fight continued, darkness closing the work of death. With the setting of the sun the storm abated, leaving the night clear and cold, and our worn-our soldiery, scattered for almost the entire distance, bivouacked under the shelter of friendly firs, wherever sufficient wood could be found to build fires to keep from freezing. Thus passed our Christmas of 1855, without food or shelter, and to my comrades and fellow soldiers of that day, I wish a happy Christmas of 1871.
Santa Cruz Sentinel, December 30, 1871, page 1 The author is confabulating the battle of the Meadows, in late November, with the battle of Big Bend, May 27-28, 1856.
The army now returned to headquarters at Fort Vannoy to recruit and get ready for the next expedition, when our scouts, chief of whom is now again our late Colonel Williams (now only Colonel Bob), again located them in a heavy wooded country opposite the upper end of the Big Meadows on Rogue River. All ready now for the renewal of the conflict at the Meadows with our gallant Colonel Williams still at the head of the army, though just now fresh from the scenes of the scout. We now move in warlike style for the scenes of the coming fray opposite the Big Meadows, hopeful of success this time. Arrived at the Meadows, we made camp for the night in the middle of that open and extensive meadow, with a strong guard all round us to prevent any attempt of the cowardly foe, who, not now more than a mile distant from us, did not dare to attack us, but under cover of their heavily wooded and brush-environed camp lay quietly during the night, wondering, I suppose, how we were on the morrow to cross the river and meet them face to face, and the sequel shows how vainly we strove to cross the river in the face of their well-selected place of defense.
On the morrow, at the sound of the bugle call, all hands were up and preparing the morning meal, with a noonday lunch, while engaged in an almost hand-to-hand encounter with the Indians in their stronghold. During the night, on our side of the river, the movements for the morrow were all arranged. Fully equipped for a day of hard work, the army, with the exception of a few campkeepers, were to march down to the river and of the drift logs that lay on the bank of the stream were to construct a raft on which the army could be rafted over into the timber, where it would have an equal fight with the redskins, and while the axmen were at work on the raft the balance were sitting on the high ground overlooking them. Very unexpectedly to all hands, a report as of the exploding of a gun cap was heard as if from across the river, and immediately followed by the loud report of a gun from the same direction. At once the whole force of the men on the side of the hill were on the run for the river, where they might find shelter among the rocks and logs and trees abounding there, a few of us stopping on the hillside to take advantage of the rocks and small trees there for shelter. Here myself and another young man took our chance for safety behind a tree whose body was not more than half as large as our bodies, and soon the rifle and yager balls came whizzing past us and some lighting in rather ominous proximity to our faulty retreat, my partner left me and ran for a better shelter among the rocks and trees at the river. When about halfway down, his arms flying high above his head, a yager ball struck and broke one of them, when he tumbled over and lay there for a moment only. On seeing the man fall the reds on the opposite side of the river were made jubilant with the glad shouts of the happy Indians hidden among the trees over the river. Well, now I was left alone, sheltered only by that little tree. As long as I stayed there I was a standing target for the bullets of the enemy, and if I run I may get shot as my comrade did, or I may be killed, and I said I will run. And asking the protection of my Heavenly Father, which was my everyday rule from childhood, I ran, not with Indians behind me, but with scores of them in front of me, all anxious to take my life, and I came out of the difficulty unscathed.
A few hours later myself and another comrade were sent as an escort with the broken-armed man to camp. And still a few hours later the whole command returned to camp. And why not? Does any reasonable person suppose that under the conditions just now brought to light, the army could have crossed the river on an open raft with that band of Indians in front of them and perfectly concealed from view? It could not have done any such thing, for supposing that in its sheltered position, out of sight of the Indians, it could have completed the raft and, loading it with men, sent it afloat on the water, where it now floats out in full view of the Indians, before it could be landed on the Indian side of the river every man on it would be killed and the raft would become the property of the Indians, to be used in the defense of themselves. Such, doubtless, it seemed to the command of the army, and it returned to headquarters to think of the difficulties of waging an Indian war in a mountainous and heavily timbered and brush-covered country, and in studying how best to keep the enemy quiet until peace could be brought about in some successful way.
Albert G. Rockfellow, "Old Indian Wars," Ashland Tidings, October 7, 1912, page 4
The Yreka Union of December 22 gives the following extract from the Table Rock Sentinel. No date of the last-named paper is stated, but probably the news refers to a week or ten days earlier than the date of the Union itself:
"Since our last issue no material change has occurred in the condition of things. The mountains by which the position of the Indians is fortified are covered by a depth of snow which, for the present, precludes the idea of reaching them, and until the obstacle is removed by natural causes, it is difficult to conceive what movements can be made against them. Their position is probably the best that could be chosen in this region--about forty miles from the Grave Creek House, on a flat or bar, on the south side of Rogue River. In the rear of their camp rises a precipitous mountain divide, along the flanks of which descend to the river ravines of heavy fir timber and thick undergrowth, to which they can retreat when attacked, or from which they can effectively assail a column of men descending upon their camp along the divide.
"Opposite, on the south side of the river, is the point of a steep, narrow, rocky spur of the mountain, which they evidently suppose could not be traversed at all by the troops, and would be, by most men, pronounced inaccessible. The divide of this spur is the ground over which Captain Judah was to take the howitzer, and much of the distance of which he did actually overcome when executing the late plan of attack. The movement was prosecuted so far as to demonstrate its practicability, though that is admitted to be due more to the characteristic energy of that officer and his men than anything favorable in the nature of the ground. Below and above the camp the mountains close in and abut upon the stream in high, steep walls, forming what are known as the "Canyons," while the whole south bank is covered by a dense growth of timber. They are thus surrounded by barriers which it is almost impossible to pass in the face of a wily and desperate foe, and in a time of storms and deep snows, like the present, effectually shelter them from any force that can be brought against them. The plan of attack upon which the crossing of the river was attempted was undoubtedly the best which the circumstances admitted, and might have been successful, but could only have been made so by hard fighting.
"The troops had but two or three days' provisions, and were three days from the depot on Grave Creek, and to have followed up the effort to cross the river against the guns of several hundred warriors, whom they found occupying the forest on the opposite bank, then to find themselves in a situation in which the enemy would enjoy every advantage, and the plans could not possibly be carried out, would have been the extreme of folly. In retiring they met a provision train trying to reach them, but found the snow on the mountain in some places very deep, and decided it would be impracticable to return to the river or to operate when there, and so were compelled to abandon the enterprise until circumstances were more favorable for its prosecution.
"The troops are now in quarters and stationed to cover the settlements and roads. Captain Rice's company is on the reserve, Captain Alcorn's on Butte Creek, Captain Wilkinson's at Jacksonville, and Captain Bushey's on Applegate and Illinois, and a few from different companies remain at Vannoy's, while Major Martin's battalion are stationed at other points further down."
"From Oregon," Cincinnati Enquirer, February 3, 1856, page 1
PROGRESS OF THE INDIAN WAR IN ROGUE RIVER VALLEY.--Some packers with a train of twenty-five mules came safely over the mountain during the storm last week. They inform us that, according to a report circulated in Illinois Valley about a week since, 350 volunteers had descended on the southern bank of Rogue River, a distance of 60 miles below Vannoy's, and when opposite the encampment of the hostile Indians at the "Big Meadows" commenced the construction of rafts with a view of crossing the river. The Indians opened a fire upon them, killing one of their men and wounding six others.
Crescent City Herald, December 12, 1855, page 2
Headquarters, Southern BattalionTo E. M. Barnum
O. M. Vols. Camp Vannoy Dec. 12th 1855
On the 10th day of Novr. 1855 four companies of the Oregon Militia under Colonel Ross, to wit: Capt. James Bruce's, Capt. R. L. Williams', Capt. W. A. Wilkinson's and Capt. M. F. Alcorn's came forward and were mustered into the service of the Territory by J. K. Lamerick, mustering officer, under the Governor's proclamation of Oct. 15th 1855 to constitute the Southern Battalion of Oregon Mounted Volunteers.
An election was thereupon held. Capt. James Bruce was elected major of the battalion.
Major Bruce proceeded immediately to send out scouts and spies, making ready for a campaign into the mountains. On the 17th Novr. scouts fell in with a small party of the enemy, had a fight and killed five or six Indians. Not one man mortally wounded.
On the 19th Novr. Major Bruce with a part of his battalion marched up Applegate in company with Capt. Judah & his company from Fort Jones U.S. regulars, but finding no signs of Indians they returned to headquarters on the 20th Novr. On the
On the 24th Novr. arrived at the "Meadows" and at daylight of the 25th sent out spies both up and down the river. Late in the night the spies returned and reported the Indians (200 or 300 strong) six miles above, camped on a bar on Rogue River and very difficult of access.
On the morning of the 26th, the plan of attack having been already made, Capt. Judah with 46 regulars and Major Martin with 100 volunteers marched round on a ridge, up the river, to take a position opposite the Indian camp. While Major Bruce with 286 volunteers, Capt. Williams & Alcorn having joined him, were to cross the river on a raft, surround if possible the Indian camp, and give a signal agreed upon, when Capt. Judah was to open a fire upon the enemy from his howitzer.
At 20 minutes past 12 o'clock, Major Bruce was fired upon while putting the raft into the water on which to cross, the Indians being concealed in thick fir timber and underbrush on the opposite side of the river. No appearance of them could be seen for some time.
The men sought shelter and continued to defend themselves until dark. On the next day all the forces returned to camp without accomplishing anything.
It was then decided to send out an express for supplies and a reinforcement of volunteers. Regulars from Fort Lane were also sent for.
On the 1st Decr. an express from Capt. Smith of Fort Lane to Captain Judah arrived, informing the latter officer that he (Capt. Smith) had reached a point 12 miles below the Grave Creek House, and could get no further up on the mountains by reason of rain & snow, and that in a few days more the mountains would be impassable.
A council of war was then held and decided to march early in the morning to headquarters. On the 4th Decr. all the forces arrived at the Grave Creek House, where the Governor's proclamation uniting the two battalions in a regiment and ordering an election of col. & lt. col.was received.
On the 5th Major Bruce with his command returned to headquarters, Vannoy's, and on the 6th held an election. On the 7th the several companies were ordered to different points in the valley where grass could be obtained for animals, it being impossible to procure hay, as well as for protection to the settlements in different parts of the valley.
O. D. Hoxie, AdjutantOregon State Archives, Yakima and Rogue River War, Document File B, Reel 2, Document 579.
O. M. Vols.
A copy is listed under Document 581.
Rogue River Correspondence of the Statesman.
Jacksonville, Dec. 27, 1855.
Editor Statesman--Dear Sir:--The intensely cold weather of the past few days has not wholly checked the current of events, though I am seriously afraid that my very ideas are in danger of freezing at the pen's point. The old frost king has locked up in his icy embrace everything but the energies of our brave volunteers. Since the withdrawal of our forces from the Meadows, the several companies composing Major Bruce's battalion have been posted at different points of the valley to afford the greatest protection, and also to act afterwards upon such bands of the savages as could be reached at this season of the year.
On the night of the 24th inst., Captain Alcorn attacked a camp of Indians on the North Fork of the Little Butte Creek, completely routing them, killing eight bucks and capturing a considerable amount of stock and property heretofore stolen from the settlers. About the same time Captain Rice, having received information of a band on the north side of the river, crossed with a force of about thirty men, attacked the camp in the night, and after six hours fighting killed or captured the last man of them. These two fights have blotted out "Jack's" band, whose depredations and thieving propensities in war or peace have made its members a pest and eyesore to the valley since its settlement. There is a rumor in circulation that Capt. Bushey is on the trail of Applegate "John," and if so we hope to hear a good account of him also. Now, as for months past, every other subject is swallowed up in the war and its prosecution to a successful termination. It has already consumed every resource of the country, both labor and capital, and little is left us but the uncertain vouchers of the War Departments. Embarrassments in every branch of industry ruinous and unavoidable must follow, unless the means of temporary or permanent relief come soon. We anxiously hope that the Legislature may devise some partial remedy for these pressing misfortunes.
The defeat of Gen. Miller for the Council from this county is much to be regretted, and a misfortune too that is not difficult to be accounted for, and one which the people of Jackson will ere long understand and remedy, to the shame and confusion of the unscrupulous demagogues who have left no means of detraction, misrepresentation and falsehood untried to accomplish their purpose.
Col. Ross, the member-elect, is doubtless a clever gentleman, but I think would be more at ease in discussing a "bill of fare" than a "council bill." Dr. Barkwell I understand was detained by his army duties until after the meeting of the Legislature. Mr. Hale, elected to supply the vacancy occasioned by the death of the lamented Lupton, has also been connected with the service, and went down with the Dr. They may reach their posts late, but in time to prove themselves unflinching Democrats, able and ready to discharge the duties incumbent upon them as Democratic representatives.
It is not likely that Col. Williams will make any move in force before the breaking up of winter. The utter exhaustion of supplies in the valley, the difficulties of transportation below, or coastwise, render it quite impossible to meet the wants of the army for many weeks in advance, at this season of the year. Too much, however, cannot be said for the activity and efficiency of the Quartermaster's Department, under the direction of Gen. Drew and his appointees. Mr. Peters here has done, and is doing, all that can be done to meet the wants of the volunteers.
The Yreka Union has again taken open ground in favor of a new state between the Calapooia and Trinity mountains, and you may expect the Sentinel, of this place, to follow in its wake soon, or any other wake that it considers flowing in the direction of the popular stream for the time being. I may have something to say upon this subject hereafter, should it become a question of importance to warrant an answer.
Oregon Statesman, Salem, January 15, 1856, page 2
A MAN SHOT BY THE INDIANS.--Mr. Murray handed us the following communication from Mr. W. J. Carson, packers, camped on Smith River, being detained by the late unfavorable weather.
Black & Thompson's Ferry"Mr. Editor--Mr. Harris Case, one of the many packers camped here on account of the late storm, was out looking for his animals on the ridge north of Thompson and Black's ferry. He was fired upon by the Indians, one shot passing through his left hand, and one through his pantaloons near the knee. The remaining shots missing him--he immediately fled, but the Indians following him, he turned and fired on them--they then gave up the chase. They are supposed to be the same Indians that escaped from the head of Myrtle Creek some time since."
Dec. 22, 1855.
Our readers will recollect that in the first days of November last, the old Indian chief on Smith River warned the whites of a small band of hostile Indians hid about the headwaters of Myrtle Creek. A party led by Dr. C. A. Hillman with the chief for their guide went out, surprised and killed two of them. The balance fled, and it is to these fugitives that the above communication alludes. Inquiries about the matter have been set on foot. It is, however, surprising that nothing of their whereabouts should have been discovered before this as some twenty packers are encamped in the neighborhood, passing through the hills daily, either in search of their animals or in quest of game.--Crescent City Herald.
Table Rock Sentinel, Jacksonville, January 5, 1856, page 2
THE ROGUE RIVER INDIAN WAR--
TWO INDIAN CAMPS DESTROYED--ANOTHER FIGHT AT ROGUE RIVER--EIGHTEEN INDIANS KILLED.
From the Jacksonville, O.T. Sentinel, of the 29th December, received by Shasta, we extract the following:
Here at the South the campaign goes effectively on. When it became apparent that the force of Indians at the Meadows could not be reached during the deep snows, Maj. Bruce's battalion was disposed with a view of covering the exposed localities, and operating, if possible, against some interior bodies of the enemy. As soon as the different companies reach their positions, scouts were sent into the mountains in every direction, and the situation of several bands ascertained, and the immediate result has been the discovery of three corps, two of which have been destroyed by the troops; the other is being watched until a reinforcement can be obtained, when it will probably share the fate of the others.
Information having been received of a camp of Indians on the north side of Rogue River, just below the mouth of the Big Butte, and four miles from the river, a detachment of thirty-four men from Capt. Rice's company made a night movement upon them, attacking them at daybreak, when off their guard, and, after fighting about six hours, killed eighteen and wounded two others, took about twenty squaws and several children prisoners, burned their camp and obtained one horse. One warrior escaped unhurt. Lieut. John S. Miller and John Tenan were so seriously frozen as to be compelled to leave the field for a short time. The camp was well supplied with provisions, principally plunder. No call for quarter was heard from the Indians during the fight. When they found their retreat was cut off, the only motive seemed to be to fight to the last. Not a female was injured, except one who received a shot from an Indian, and not a male too small to bear arms.
Chicago Tribune, February 18, 1856, page 2
Deer Creek, January 2, 1856.Dear Bush:--From the south we have a report here that a fight took place on Christmas Day between Capt. Rice's company of Scott Valley volunteers and the Indians on Butte Creek, Jackson County, in which 18 Indians were killed and three wounded, and some taken prisoners. No whites were killed or wounded as I can learn.
The weather has been very cold here. The thermometer has ranged from zero to 18 degrees below it for several days--and nights. There is now a prospect for a thaw. In fact for a day or two I really imagined that I should from the effect of the cold become the serviceable discoverer of Sir John Franklin.
Yours resp. [unsigned]
Oregon Statesman, Salem, January 15, 1856, page 3
THE WAR.--We had expected to be able, by the close of this week, to give an account of the destruction of the band of Indians on the upper Applegate. Capt. Rice's command, with a large citizen force from Sterling, reached their position and surrounded them on Tuesday night, and Capt. Bushey's company were on the way. The party from Fort Lane, with the howitzer, were endeavoring to join them on Wednesday night, and the prospects were for an attack on Thursday. In consequence of an accident, however, the measure was defeated for two or three days. A mule belonging to the howitzer train, and loaded with ammunition for the piece, lost its footing and fell down a steep bank into the river, and thus the ammunition was lost, and a necessity produced for obtaining another supply from the fort. The Indians are in possession of three miners' cabins--one stockaded--a few miles above Star Gulch, on the south side of Applegate. The houses are put in such a condition that a force of thirty men may defend them against almost any number of riflemen. With shells they can be readily driven out. They are well known as a desperate and terrible band of Indians. It is supposed that in times of peace, since the settlement of this country, they have murdered more than their own number of whites, and generally have subsisted upon plunder. They are such marksmen that on Wednesdays at a distance of over two hundred yards they had wounded four men, one very seriously if not fatally.
On Friday morning a company of citizens, generally miners, supplied with such arms as they could get, set out over the mountains to the northwest, in search of the Indians who on Wednesday killed Mr. Hull and Mr. Angel. The intention is to follow them up until they are found. Capt. Wilkinson, stationed at Wagner Creek, was to cooperate by sending a detachment of his command up Foots Creek. The location of the camp is unknown. From the depredations committed during the winter, they are supposed to be within twelve miles of this place.
We learn that Capt. Alcorn, with his command, is on the scent of an Indian camp, high up the Butte Creek, and that an Indian had been killed and another wounded by his men when following up their trails.
Table Rock Sentinel, Jacksonville, January 5, 1856, page 2
ANOTHER INDIAN MURDER.--Last Wednesday the body of Mr. Chas. W. Hull was found on the divide between Jackass Creek and the left-hand fork of Jackson. A company of men hunting had struck the trail of Indians and were following it when they came upon the body. He had been out with a hunting party and was separated from his comrades when the Indians discovered and shot him. The deceased was about twenty-two years of age, had formerly resided in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and had relatives living here. The Indians were undoubtedly the band that afterwards, and on the same day, killed Mr. Angel.
Table Rock Sentinel, Jacksonville, January 5, 1856, page 2
OF SICK AND WOUNDED AT FORT VANNOY, DEC. 21, 1855.
Capt. Wm. B. Lewis, wounded at Galice Creek, Oct. 17; wounds have healed and are nearly well.
Milton Blackledge, of Capt. Lewis' company, wounded Oct. 17; well.
John Ersicson, of Lewis' company, wounded Oct. 17; well.
Joseph Umpqua, of Lewis' company, wounded Oct. 17; wound healed.
Amasa Morse, of Capt. Williams' company, wounded on Rogue River, 3 miles below the mouth of Jumpoff Joe, Oct. 16; died on the 18 following.
J. T. Calwell, Capt. Alcorn's company, acute rheumatism; transferred to the hospital at Jacksonville.
David Saxton, of Williams' co., wounded Nov. 27, at the Meadows; transferred to Jacksonville.
Robert Gammill, of Williams' co., wounded Nov. 27, at the Meadows; transferred to Jacksonville.
Jacob Long, of Capt. Rice's co., wounded Nov. 27, at the Meadows; transferred to Jacksonville.
James Sanders, of Capt. Wilkinson's co., inflammation arising from an injured nerve resulting in ulceration.
Elias Musser, of Wilkinson's co., intermitting fever; well.
Samuel C. Nicholson, of Alcorn's co., chronic ophthalmia; well.
Joseph Carter, of Rice's co., rheumatism.
Timoleon Love, of Qr. Master Department, sick; convalescent.
M. Conroy, of Alcorn's co., catarrh and fever; well.
Edward Smith, of Hospital Department, intermitting fever.
Zacheus Van Orman, of Williams' co., flux.
CASES OUTSIDE.Intermitting fever, 9; remitting fever, 5; catarrh and fever, 14; rheumatism, 7; flux, 5; diarrhea, 9; chronic constipation, 2; nervous affections, 4; ophthalmia, 4; thrown and injured by horses and mules, 2; hemorrhoids, 3.
J. Braman, Asst. SurgeonTable Rock Sentinel, Jacksonville, January 5, 1856, page 2
R. S. Belknap, Steward.
Benj. Burruss, Asst. "
Headquarters Dec. 25 1855G. L. Curry
Gov. of Oregon
I hasten to write you a few lines. I send to you by Capt. Buoy of Lane County three Indian men as prisoners of war. I hope you will approve my course. I am quite worn down from fatigue, as you may suppose. I have not as yet had any tent but have taken all the rain and snow out in the camp and find no fault now. Of all the service that I ever saw this is the hardest. It is almost death on men and horses. Still, strange to say, the men don't complain but they are cheerful under all circumstances. I can't seen any end to this war before next spring. We are compelled to keep the field or allow the Indians lay waste all the frontier settlements. Still I hope to be able to find some of the red devils soon. I would like to have for the use of the five companies of the regiment comprising the first battalion about two hundred stand of United States rifles and muskets, as I intend to push the war as early as possible into the heart of their country at the Big Meadows. First we must get rid of the Cow Creeks and Coquilles. I leave in a few minutes for the head of Coquille.
Yours trulyOregon State Archives, Yakima and Rogue River War, Document File B, Reel 3, Document 860.
Wm. J. Martin
There will naturally be many inquiries as to who Col. Bob Williams is. Well, as he is one of the right stripe (a good Whig), I want you to do something for him. There are but few who know his sentiments, for he never meddles with politics; it's a wonder how they came to elect him, for bad luck to me if it ain't mighty few Whigs that got office here. I will give you a brief outline of Bob Williams' history.
Col. R. T. Williams was born in Kentucky, in the year 1826. His parents emigrated to Texas in 1837. Since that time he has traveled all over the Red River country--been amongst all the different tribes of Indians there. Has traveled all over the interior of Texas and Mexico, was in the Mexican War and all along the coast. Emigrated to California in '49, via Mexico, was leader of many a gallant little band to disperse the Diggers in California. Came to Rogue River Valley in June '51 and has made Jackson and Siskiyou counties his home ever since. Was out on several scouting expeditions in '51 and '52. Was elected captain of the Althouse mounted volunteers in 1853 and has ever been ready at a moment's warning to fly to the rescue, and protect the inhabitants from the inhuman barbarity of the treacherous red devils that have been permitted to remain on top of the ground. Williams is a heavy, thick-set man, medium height, and weighs 180, has a cast-iron constitution, big as the United States; tumtum ["heart"] like a beef, doesn't think of taking cold from lying out of doors overnight, and ain't afraid to fight Indians.
"Outsider," "State of the War--the Elections," Weekly Oregonian, January 5, 1856, page 1
Jacksonville Jan 6, 1856
It is with feelings of the deepest regret that I have to communicate to you the death of Roana and little Mary they were killed by the Indians last October while I was from home. I left in the morning in company with Miss Pellet the temperance lecturer she and Roana had just come home from Jacksonville the evening before. She had been to lecture and I went to show her the trail to the ferry on Rogue River some seven miles from home and when I arrived at the ferry I learned that the Indians had broken out. I started back but had not gone far when I met one of our neighboring women her husband had been shot and she had also been wounded and from her I learned that my house had been burned but did not know [the] fate of Roana and Mary. I then hastened with all speed back home, if home it could be called, but when I got on top of a bluff that overlooked my house my worst fears was confirmed. There I saw that house and burned barn had been burned and in the valley where my house stood was some hundred Indians whooping and halloing. They had killed some teamsters that was hauling goods from Scottsburg and was plundering the wagons. I then started for the nearest house some eight miles and all along the road I found dead men and horses and cattle, wagons burned up and the goods were scattered on the ground. The next day I went in company with Major Fitzgerald with eighty soldiers to our neighborhood and the scene beggars all description. They had burned up Roana and Mary with the house and nothing remained of them [but] smoldering ashes. We then went to the next neighbor's and found the man shot and dead in the house. The woman had fled to brush and on remaining some time she came out and [also] her little girl; her boy some 13 years old had been killed. We then went to the next house and found the whole family was destroyed and soon I could give you till I could fill the whole sheet but my soul sickens to think of it. We had been making money very fast for the last two years and most likely would have come home next year with money to live comfortably. Roana never appeared to be in better spirits than she was at the time of her death. The property they destroyed for us was worth eight thousand dollars. We was keeping a public house on the road from Jacksonville to Oregon and had built one of the finest in this part of the country. The house and barn had cost three thousand dollars, besides what good we had in them we had 400 bushels of oats and barley was worth 4 dollars, ten tons hay worth $100 a ton besides horses and cattle that they either stole [or] killed [to] the amount of two thousand more but that is a small loss compared to the other. The country is all desolated, families are either forted up or in town. All kinds of business is stopped; there is not a day but you can hear of someone being killed and pack trains robbed, men have been shot within one mile of town and when this will [end] I cannot tell--the Governor has called out militia; there has been one regiment of one thousand men raised in Jackson County. I am at present employed in [the] Quartermaster Department and will from time to time keep you posted on the progress of the war.
Yours with respectP.S. I have written a number of times before. J.B.W.
J. B. Wagoner
Typed transcription from 1964 on file at the Southern Oregon Historical Society research library.
Progress of the War in R.R. Valley.
It may be still in the recollection of our readers that in the latter part of November the troops, after abandoning the idea of attacking the Indians at the "Big Meadows," went into winter quarters, stationing themselves in different portions of Illinois, Applegate and Rogue River valleys. Since that time, it would appear, the unusually severe weather has compelled some of the hostile bands to creep back to their old haunts and rancherias. The Table Rock Sentinel of the 29th ult. says:
"Information having been received of a camp of Indians on the north side of Rogue River, just below the mouth of the Big Butte, and four miles from the river, a detachment of 34 men from Capt. Rice's company made a night movement upon them--attacking them at daybreak, when not on their guard--and after about six hours fighting killed eighteen and wounded three others, took about twenty squaws and several children prisoners, burnt their rancheria and obtained one horse. One warrior since died. The Indians had horses not far from the camp, but circumstances would admit of no search for them, and they were left. No injury was sustained by the whites, except that some hands and feet were frozen."
Again "Captain Alcorn's company on the night of the 24th December proceeded up Butte Creek, and encamped within a mile of the Indian ranches, and early in the morning proceeded to attack them, and at daybreak the firing from our side commenced, having completely surrounded them, eight bucks were killed and the balance more or less wounded, one squaw was accidentally wounded in the lower jaw, two squaws with their children were taken prisoners--no ammunition was found, and but four guns--about 30 bushels of wheat, some salmon and four horses. Old Jake is missing; the squaws say Jake was killed by the Shastas."
Also, Capt. Bushey with seven men came upon an Indian camp on Thompson's Creek, December 27th, opened a fire upon them, completely routing them, killing three and wounding several. We captured all their camp equipage, comprising two horses, bridles, saddles, canteens, several blankets and smaller articles, and set the ranch on fire.
The Sentinel adds that our volunteers, to succeed, only require a possibility that may be accomplished by bravery, energy and endurance.
We further learn from Mr. Thomas, the express messenger, who arrived on Saturday, that a band of hostile Indians on Deer Creek were being surrounded and attacked by the volunteers.
This is encouraging news indeed, and if the campaign during the balance of the winter should prove equally successful, the spring will find the interior cleared of the prowling enemy.
Crescent City Herald, January 9, 1856, page 2
Umpqua Correspondence of the Statesman.
Deer Creek, Jan. 7, 1856.
Dear Bush:--The express from the south this evening confirms the report of the death of Martin Angel, surrounding of the Indians on Applegate, &c., which have been in circulation for a day or two. Martin Angel and a man by the name of Hull were killed by the Indians within three miles of Jacksonville. It is also reported that two Chinamen were killed by the same band of Indians on Applegate, and robbed of three or four hundred dollars in dust.
The Indians, twenty-five or thirty in number, were corralled in three log cabins on Applegate by the volunteers and regulars, who had a howitzer along with them to make, as it was hoped, an effectual attack upon the Indians, but it did not work as it was anticipated it would, and after dark the Indians broke through the guards and made their escape certain. Three Indians were killed and some are supposed to have been wounded. Doctor Myers, of Sterling, was killed and some three or four whites were wounded. They were shot from three to four hundred yards. The Indians evidently have good marksmen and good rifles.
By this you will see that the work of death continues, and that too within the confines of the town of Jacksonville, and upon every trail and road south. All business has stopped and almost closed, except that on the part of the [Military and Indian] Departments. Communication has stopped between different points, except that which is performed on the main road by expressmen, and the army, in short the country generally, has been desolated by the existence and continuance of this war. The army south is without supplies, without clothing, without ammunition, and almost, if not quite entirely without the faintest prospect of receiving for a long time to come, the actual and necessary supplies which the army ought to have at this moment. The office at Jacksonville is without supplies, at Deer Creek it is the same, and almost every office is destitute of the means necessary to carry on the war. Yet what is to be done? Every effort has been made by the officers of the Departments to obtain these things from merchants in this section, and have succeeded well, but this source has now dried up.
There is nothing of importance from any other source, except that the Indians on the reserve on Calapooia, bound to the Willamette (Polk and Yamhill counties), will start on Friday or Saturday of this week, if the weather will permit.
Yours, &c. [unsigned]
Oregon Statesman, Salem, January 1, 1856, page 2
Progress of the War in the Interior.
MOVEMENT TOWARDS APPLEGATE--THREE WHITES KILLED--
ESCAPE OF THE INDIANS.
About New Year's Day a small party of whites discovered a band of Indians on Applegate Creek, some twenty-five or thirty miles from Jacksonville. Pretending to be miners on a prospecting tour, they managed to remain on the creek, unsuspected by the Indians, until they could send word to the nearest settlements. These Indians appeared to belong to the band that committed the depredations on the Upper Klamath, as they pretended to entertain hostile feelings against the whites in that region only, and did not care to fight the "Bostons" about Jacksonville.
As soon as information of their whereabouts was received in the valley, about 150 of the troops, and many citizen volunteers, took up the line of march for Applegate on the 2nd of January, carrying one of the mountain howitzers along. When about two miles from Jacksonville, Mr. Martin Angel and John McLaughlin passed ahead of a troop of thirty soldiers, and within a distance of only 40 yards of them were shot at by Indians. Mr. Angel's horse took fright, and while cantering off the trail the Indians succeeded with several more shots to kill horse and rider, and then stripping them, taking Mr. Angel's two revolvers and rifle. Angel's companion, McLaughlin, succeeded in rejoining the soldiers, who immediately loaded their guns and then advanced toward the spot where Angel fell. They came soon enough to make the Indians hasten their escape and drop some of the plunder, but Angel was already dead. Mr. Henry H. Hutchins, our informant, learned that on the same morning Mr. Hull was out hunting with his son when the latter was killed by the Indians, and it is thought this was done by the same scout which killed Angel.
On the 3rd of January, pursuing the march towards Applegate, the soldiers had the misfortune to lose one of their mules, loaded with ammunition for the howitzer, and consequently had to send back for a new supply, which came only upon the 5th. Meanwhile a portion of the force of the whites had got up to the Indian camp, which consisted of several log cabins formerly occupied by miners, but now changed into forts with numerous apertures, through which they fired in such a manner that several whites were wounded at a distance of 300 yards. Their camp was, however, surrounded, and the success of the whites depended upon their ability to keep the Indians in position.
Late in the afternoon of the 5th the howitzer was got ready, fired, and the shot fell directly upon one of the cabins, killing three Indians. Several more shots were fired before night, but without effect. During the night the Indians, judging discretion to be the better part of valor, broke through the guards of the whites and escaped. We learn with great regret that in this untoward affair our friend, Dr. Wm. Myers, of this city, was killed, and several others wounded. [See correction below; it was a different Myers.]
The disappointment of the public, in hearing of the inglorious issue of this movement, is the more acutely felt, as from the previous successes on Butte Creek it was confidently expected that the troops at length had made up their mind to go at it with a will. The escape of the Indians remains to many inexplicable. Five weeks earlier from 4 to 500 troops withdrew from before 150 Indians at the "Big Meadows"; now thirty-three Indians eluded the vigilance of eight times their number of whites. We are too remote from the scene of action to judge correctly of the merits of the case, but this much we might infer from the past: that it takes a long time to whip 200 hostile Indians.
Crescent City Herald, January 16, 1856, page 2
From the South.
The mail from Jacksonville reached here on last Wednesday, for the first time in five weeks. From the Table Rock Sentinel, and from our correspondence, we condense the following news:
On the 21st January, Maj. Bruce and Capt. Alcorn fell in with a band of 75 to 100 Indians on Murphy's branch of Applegate Creek. A desperate encounter took place, but for the aid of Lieut. Armstrong, who came to their relief. After hard fighting, the Indians fell back, with considerable loss. Of the whites, Wiley Cash was killed, and Daniel Richardson severely wounded in the arm. Dr. Danforth's horse was shot in the fight. The whites drew off a short distance to await reinforcements. Col. Williams left January 23rd with 200 men to join them. The Indians have taken shelter in a heavily wooded gulch, where they can either make a desperate defense or a safe retreat.
Butte Creek Valley is again menaced with Indians. A band of Indians from the Meadows has probably gone over to Rogue River, about ten miles above Thompson's ferry. Fourteen were counted prowling around in one band. Capts. Bailey and Buoy, it is said, have found a company of Indians in the Cow Creek Mountains so large and so well posted that they have sent for reinforcements before they dare attack them.
Our letters from Jacksonville give a gloomy picture of affairs in the South. The Indians are scattered in every direction, hid up in mountain gorges, with from 20 to 100 in a squad. Notwithstanding the representations of the Indian agent and Gen. Wool, there must be not less than 500 savages in the Rogue River mountains. A correspondent writing from Jacksonville, January 27th, says there are not over a dozen guns in the place, and the town could be taken and totally destroyed by the Indians without losing hardly a man, if the Indians only knew it. The people are in constant fear of an attack, and alarmed at even the firing of a gun.
The Shasta Indians, it seems, have come over to help the Rogue Rivers. Many people talk of leaving in the spring for the Willamette Valley, if things get no better. Much complaint is made of the inactivity of the regulars. The forces there, now, of regulars and volunteers together, is represented to be barely sufficient to defend the country, to say nothing about subduing the Indians. The savages are said to be gaining, rather than losing, ground. They have the best of guns and five years' of ammunition laid by. The Indians at the Meadows say they have two captive white women. If this be a fact, shame on Oregon!
Can not we raise a force sufficient to wipe out these Indians at once? What say you? Where are Gen. Wool's 1500 troops? Our defenseless citizens are being butchered in the South, and our friends in San Francisco are Wooled into the belief that an ample force is in the field for the protection of the settlements. Alas! Alas! for these degenerate days.
The Oregon Argus, Oregon City, February 2, 1856, page 3
LETTER FROM AN OREGONIAN.
The Indian War.
San Francisco, Jan. 27, 1856.
In the Herald of this morning, the editor spasmodically launches off--perhaps at the suggestion of some of the heroes late from the scene of hostilities--and devotes nearly a column to the monstrous Oregonians, in which he intimates that in the absence of any very flattering prospects of reaping large fortunes out of the salmon and lumber trade, they have trumped up a war with the Indians, and are now playing upon their harp to the tune of several millions of Uncle Sam's money, and if his information be correct--which we would not for a moment question--contracts have been made with parties there for oats, hay, horses &c., at alarmingly high prices. According to his showing, if those poor benighted people had any prospect of ever getting what they claim, the contracts would seem a little extravagant. But for the Herald's acceptation of the term, the Oregonians are not "smart"; they are unrefined and unskilled in villainy, fraud and sharp practice, shrewd financiering., etc., which have given California that unenviable reputation, in which she stands "solitary and alone," among the sisterhood of states--into which she prematurely "emerged" from the "embryo" in which 'twere better she still remained, so far as the people are concerned. Yes, had you, Mr. Herald, performed faithfully your duty as guardian, instead of lending your aid to her seducers, she might now occupy that proud position her natural resources demanded for her.
Whose business was it to speak out, when some of the most atrocious wholesale swindles and political robberies were being committed that ever cursed a state or blackened the pages of history? And yet, while the Herald can see so outrageous a swindle in a small contract for supplies in Oregon, what a profound silence, or ignorance, it maintains in regard to the hire of vessels for the transportation of troops? Should not the paying of $70,000 for the hire of an old, unseaworthy vessel, upon which so many lives were hazarded--admitting they have so far proven valueless to government--should this not receive, at least, a passing notice? Oh! thou who seest so fearful a mote in thy brother's eye, is not the beam which is in thine own eye troublesome? whose post it is to stand on the watchtower. If you had been half so vigilant in looking after the interests of your much-abused state, as you seem in exposing imaginary evils beyond your legitimate jurisdiction, your paper would have enjoyed a reputation far beyond what it can ever presume to claim. Where were you when the multitude of demagogues, political and financial swindlers, hung like a black cloud over your devoted state and city? Echo answers where?
But after doing the Oregonians up, no doubt, to his satisfaction, the editor comes to the very wise conclusion that this is a matter with which he has very little to do, and offers no very strong point in extenuation of the course pursued by the veteran who was so profuse in his promises of a vigorous prosecution of the war--making his headquarters in his saddle (!)--but who, after a considerable flourish, and granting some fat contracts to somebody, takes the steamer and brings his--quarters back to San Francisco, heartily tired of the rude accommodations and amusements of the north--somewhat surprised, and heartily disgusted, at the Indian mode of warfare--leaving the troops comfortably quartered, whilst the half-clad, miserably equipped volunteers are in the mountains, battling with the enemy. And now, I suppose, his valuable time and talents will be employed in negotiating for the transport of those troops back to Benicia--another fat job. To whom the spoils go, perhaps the Herald can tell.
It may all seem very well for the editor of the Herald and those gallant officers, who are not overanxious to place themselves within the range of he rifle of the redskin, to say that there is no combination amongst the Indians, and that if there was, there is sufficient force quartered there to protect the settlers. Yes they are quartered, and there seems to be the grand difficulty--they are likely to remain so. They are able to afford protection, but they never do it. What has this division of the army ever done since they have been on this coast? I believe there is not a solitary instance where they have accomplished anything, nor are they likely to, and the sooner they are disbanded the better. It is a well-known fact the volunteers have done the fighting, whilst the U.S. troops were getting ready to move. If we can't have a more efficient army here, better have none at all.
I hope the Herald will keep us posted in this matter, and tell us who makes the most out of it. For his information I will just say to him that the accounts against Uncle Sam are all subject to curtailment, and many a poor Oregonian will have to submit to razees [sic] which might call forth even the Herald's sympathies.
Daily Alta California, San Francisco, January 28, 1856. The letter was reprinted in the Oregon Statesman of March 18. "Razee" is apparently a reference to the "unseaworthy vessel" referred to in the second paragraph, likely the elderly frigate Independence.
The Indian War in R.R. Valley.
We call the recollection of our readers to the affair on the upper Applegate on the 5th inst. for the purpose of correcting an error we committed in mentioning Dr. Wm. Myers, of this city, as amongst the killed. The name of the deceased was Anderson Myers (from the state of Indiana, we believe).
It has been before stated that after the escape of the Indians from their fortified camp on the upper Applegate, a vigorous search was being made after the fugitives, and late reports from Illinois Valley inform us that on the 21st inst., a company of the pursuers, on the headwaters of a creek opposite Barkwell's, was decoyed into an ambush and found themselves suddenly fired upon from the right and left. Hastily dismounting and seeking shelter in the timber, they eventually left 15 or 16 of their animals, but were themselves happily relieved by another small company coming up and attacking one wing of the Indians. But two men were wounded in the engagement; one of them, however, we are sorry to say, being wounded in the thigh, fell ultimately into the hands of the Indians and was killed. Of the losses the Indians may have sustained, it is only said that they were seen carrying off some of their wounded.
The same band of Indians probably then crossed over the Mooney Mountain, and we hear next of their appearance on Slate Creek. The following letter received by a business house in this city tells its own story:
Hay's Ranch, Green Valley,Dear Sir:--Six trains of mules left here this morning for Jacksonville with an escort of 20 regulars, under command of Sergeant Blase. After crossing Slate Creek, and traveling on about one mile without trouble, we met a party of ten men under command of Sergeant Moore, escorting Mr. and Mrs. Benedict, Mr. Melvin and three others. They had been attacked by the Indians about 300 yards from us. The Indians had fired several shots, no one hurt; one ball passed through Mrs. Benedict's veil, another through Melvin's horse's neck and still another grazed slightly one of [the] troop's horses. The trains then halted, the soldiers dismounted and marched to the place, where again several shots were fired without doing any damage. The Indians being in the brush, there was no other chance for getting at them than by charging through an open space of about one hundred yards. The force was not sufficient to undertake this and at the same time guard the trains. Thus we were obliged to retreat here for safety, and shall probably stay until more troops come. The Indians captured four mules and some baggage, part of which belonged to Mr. and Mrs. Benedict, who were on their way to Crescent City.
January 24th, 1856.
The volunteers are still out in search of the Indians and had passed this very place this morning at 3 o'clock.
Yours,This news was brought the same afternoon a distance of some 15 miles to Turner's ranch in Illinois Valley, where Lieut. Sweitzer had just halted with 20 dragoons. His command saddled immediately again and started to the place where the attack had occurred.
B. F. Blodgett.
Crescent City Herald, January 30, 1856, page 2
From the War South.
We have letters from Jackson County, with dates to January 30. The Indians attacked the camp of a scouting party, under the command of Capt. Bailey, on the night of the 21st, on Grave Creek and killed ------ Gardiner, of Lane County, and Thomas Gage, of Douglas. Two others were wounded. Several scouting parties were out in pursuit of the Indians in various parts of our southern borders. No serious battles have taken place recently. The Indians are in the mountains and cannot be found by the volunteers. There seems to be some dissatisfaction among the volunteers at the south, in relation to the manner of conducting the war. There is evidently a great scarcity of supplies, arms, ammunition &c., as well as a lukewarmness and neglect on the part of the Democratic officials. The resident citizens of Jackson, Coos, Josephine, Douglas and Umpqua counties must recollect that the Oregon Democracy have some "axes to grind." Therefore you must wait until your leaders who hold on [to] the "axes" are ready, then you will be ORDERED to take your place at the crank, and turn the party stone (not the "doctor") but the DEMOCRATIC STONE.
Suppose your families are butchered occasionally, your houses burned, homes desolated, crops destroyed, and STARVATION or ABANDONMENT of your firesides the last resort--what has that to do with Oregon Democracy? Don't you know that it has been ordained by those who reign and rule that this must be a "Democratic war"; that none but "Oregon Democrats," of the scrawny Bush kind, must have any position in it unless that of "camp scavenger"? Don't you know that by the ordeal of the late legislative dynasty, you must have your backs to the party lash and go in for a state government in April? Delazon Smith, Teddy O'Rourke, Bush and the rest of the true Democratic Party have decided this to be the only legitimate rule of your faith. The Statesman has published it, and the Times, Stand-h-ard, Pacific Christian Advocate [and] Table Rock Sentinel will echo the ordeal in their next, or Bush will box the ears of his subs and read them out of THE PARTY.
Oregonian, Portland, February 9, 1856, page 2
Sam'l. Dowell, Esq.
Stony Point P.O.
Salem, O.T.Dear Brother,
Jan. 31st, 1856.
The only subjects of conversation at the capital of Oregon are Gen'l. Wool, Palmer and the present Indian war. General Wool charges the whites with commencing the war for the purpose of plundering the treasury of the U.S., that the govts. of Oregon & Washington territories have called out volunteers unnecessarily, that the Oregonians barbarously murdered Pu-pu-mox-mox, the head chief of the Walla-Walla Indians. Every newspaper in these territories and the citizens generally denounce Gen'l. Wool and he in return calls the Oregonians little dogs barking at his heels. Gen'l. Wool has not condescended to visit the scene of hostilities, and the whole of the regular army under his command are now safely housed in their winter quarters at the military post, within the settlement, while the volunteers are occupying Walla Walla Valley, poorly clad and almost without tents and destitute of bread, upwards of 150 miles from the white settlements. He either has bad advisors or he is wholly ignorant of the tact, intelligence and deadly hostility of our enemy, or he is a great Indian sympathizer and wholly regardless of the interest of Oregon and Washington territories. I have resided in Southern Oregon in the midst of the Indians for the last five years, and since my arrival in Oregon I have frequently traveled from one end of the settlements to the other, so I have had a good opportunity to know the causes of the war, and the strength of our enemies. I would be the last man to aid and assist to prosecute an unjust war, but I have been from the commencement and am now actively engaged in this war. I verily believe that it is absolutely necessary it should be vigorously prosecuted to a successful termination. In Southern Oregon alone, upwards of [omission] our citizens were waylaid and barbarously murdered before the Oregonians organized a single company to chastise the Indians. A friend from Jackson Co. gave me a copy of a letter written by the Indian agent Ambrose to the Superintendent of Indian Affairs which I enclose to you. This letter was written only eight days before the commencement of the war, from which you can form some idea how an Indian war is commenced and you will see that the whites are not wholly to blame for our present difficulties. The most of the facts and circumstances detailed in this letter I know to be true, but I am of the opinion Limpy and George deceived the agent, and that they were hostile at the time his letter was written, for they refused to reside in the Indian reservation, and eight days later they joined the Scotans and Shastas in open hostilities against the whites. I am as much opposed to extermination of the red race as Gen'l. Palmer or Gen'l. Wool, but the war is now being waged by our enemy against friend and foe, against innocent men, women and children. These Indians must be taught the power of the Americans, and the utter folly for them to take up arms against us, and it is the imperative duty of Gen'l. Wool and every good citizen to aid and assist in doing it, and to close the war. The Legislative Assembly yesterday passed unanimously a joint memorial condemning Gen'l. Wool for his inactivity and for trying to destroy the credit of Oregon, and the memorial politely asks the President of the U.S. to remove him from the command of the Pacific Division. In every war in which we have ever been engaged, from the Revolutionary War to the present time, there has always been a party, a small, narrow, contracted, contemptible party, against each war, and Gen'l. Wool has always opposed the volunteer force, but I believe this is the first time he or any other commander has kept the regular army inactive and out of the Indian country during the winter in time of an Indian war. A timid woman would have done better, for she is always patriotic and for her country, right or wrong.
It is also said that Gen'l. Palmer, the Supt. of Indian Affairs, has taken sides with Gen'l. Wool and our enemies, and the members of the Legislative Assembly have politely asked the President to remove him from office. How Gen'l. Palmer could report against the war I am at a loss to know, for the letter of Agent Ambrose was directed to him, and was doubtless in his possession when the war commenced, and he to my knowledge was present and advised Gov. Curry to call out 1000 volunteers to march up the Columbia River to the relief of our citizens in the vicinity of The Dalles, and before the volunteers left the Willamette Valley he subscribed $100 to assist [to] arm and equip the volunteers; he even advised his own son to join the Oregon volunteers, and seemed deeply to regret the insufficiency of the available transportation animals belonging to the volunteer command; yet I am credibly informed he has reported to Gen'l. Wool that the war was commenced by the citizens of Oregon, and that they consider the treasury as a legitimate subject of public plunder, and that Gen'l. Wool has reiterated the charge publicly again and again. We have a few vagabonds, not citizens, that are outlaws and refugees from justice, but probably in proportion to population there are as few here as there are in Washington City, the metropolis of the nation. The great body of resident citizens of Oregon are as true, honest and as law-abiding citizens as any in America, who are now engaged in the war, and who believe the war to be a great national calamity, and who look upon Gen'l. Wool and Gen'l. Palmer as base slanderers and calumniators of their good name. Did the Supt. expect to plunder the Treasury of the U.S. himself by advising a volunteer force to be called out, and by furnishing money to prosecute the war? Did he expect his own son to join the army and divide the plunder? Or did he do all this from a sense of duty, for the purpose of suppressing Indian hostilities, and to restore peace and happiness to his adopted country? If Gen'l. Palmer and Gen'l. Wool had been in the late battle of Walla Walla and seen with their own eyes the gallantry of the Oregon volunteers, we surely never should have heard of their traducing the good name of the Oregon volunteers. The truth is the good citizens of Oregon not only in this war, but in all our own Indian wars have risen en masse from a sense of justice, against the Indians for self-protection, without inquiring who should or would pay them, and they are truly unfortunate in having the commander of the U.S. forces taking sides with the enemy and refusing to prosecute the war. The sooner he is removed and the sooner the regular army takes the field the better for California, Oregon, Washington territories, and the better for the U.S. Treasury.
I was present at the commencement of the Rogue River War in 1853, and not one, at the commencement, expected a dollar for his services, nor did they expect to ask for pay, until after the arrival of the U.S. officers who advised over 200 men that were then in the field bearing arms in defense of their own lives and property, to be mustered into U.S. service and apply for pay. Their whole and sole object was to protect the settlements and punish a treacherous, perfidious and common enemy to the white race.
The Cayuse War was long before my arrival in the territory and before the U.S. had organized our territorial government, and a variety of opinions exist here as to the cause of that war. Some contend the Indians killed Dr. Whitman & his whole family because he was unsuccessful as a physician among them, others that it was caused by undue influence of the Catholic missionaries and their deadly hostility to the Protestant religion, while the great body of the old settlers believe the war was caused by the great emigration across the plains to Oregon and by the officers and servants of the Hudson's Bay Co. teaching the Indians that the Americans were intruders upon the rights of the English and Indians, that the Americans would occupy their lands without remunerating them for the homes of their fathers, the Indians thus foreseeing the natural encroachments of the white determined to meet the crisis and decide their fate by the force of arms. Our government did wrongly to encourage our citizens to emigrate to Oregon before purchasing the land of the natives. But this was done as far back as 1842 not for the purpose of doing injustice to the Indians but to extinguish the pretended claim of England to Oregon. England, at the same time, was alive to her interests, and was giving her citizens great encouragement to settle and occupy the same country, and at the time of the first American emigration across the plains to Oregon there was a large Hudson's Bay settlement on the Willamette and Columbia rivers. Soon after our emigrants arrived here, there was a great rivalry between the English and Americans. The Cayuse War served to increase the natural antipathy of the Oregonians against the Hudson's Bay Co. and against the Indians. Dr. Whitman, a pious American Protestant missionary, his wife and children and a large party of emigrants camped at his house were barbarously murdered, without cause or provocation. He had done more to Christianize and civilize the Indians than any other man in Oregon. He had taught them to plant, cultivate, reap and use corn, wheat and potatoes, which the Indians continued to raise in abundance up to the time of the commencement of the present war. He had taught some of them to read and write and several, from the fruits of his labor, are now better writers than I am. He and Mr. Spalding had translated the New Testament into the Nez Perce language, and many can read it to this day. In truth and in fact Dr. Whitman was one of the best of missionaries and the "poor Indians'" best friend and greatest benefactor; yet he was the first white man that fell a victim to their treachery and barbarity. The emigrant men shared the same fate, but some of the women were taken prisoners and forced to become the unwilling wives of their bloodthirsty captors. The facts stand out in bold relief; the emigrants were not to blame; Dr. Whitman and his family were not to blame, yet the Americans had war, the English had peace, and notwithstanding the American settlements were very weak and needed assistance the Hudson's Bay Co. was then opposed to the war, like Gen'l. Wool is now, and this powerful company then refused to assist the Oregonians and to prosecute the war.
Gen. Wool has reported to the Secty. of War again and again that the regular army under his command was wholly inadequate to protect the settlements, yet he has always reported against the volunteers. He reported long ago that the company called out by orders of Gov. Davis in 1854, was unnecessary, and that it was done for speculation. Yet the same time he urges the department to send more forces to the Pacific, and beautifully describes his district as extensive and "an empire within itself"; but now in the midst of the most destructive war that has ever scourged Oregon he says there are plenty of regulars, no war, no necessity for his command to leave their good comfortable houses and take the field.
It is true the enemy has not recently done any great damage, and they have been driven beyond the settlements by the volunteers, but unless they are pursued and whipped they will return to the frontier settlements, and again massacre whole families.
Gen'l. Palmer's & Wool's opposition will tend to prolong the war, increase the high prices, and present the speedy settlement and payment of the expenses of the war, but notwithstanding all this, the legislatures of Oregon and Washington have both determined to continue to bark like dogs at the heels of Wool, and vigorously prosecute the war to a successful termination.
Washington is sparsely populated but Oregon has wealth, resources, [and a] vigorous, hardy and large population. She has the very best material in America to prosecute an Indian war successfully. Civilization has always trampled over savage barbarity. So, in this instance, notwithstanding Wool's and Palmer's opposition, and notwithstanding at present the plow has to be abandoned for the rifle and gloom and lowering clouds hang over the future destiny of Washington and Oregon, yet finally the savages will be compelled to sue for peace and the clouds of darkness will disappear and peace and happiness will be restored to the Pacific Coast.
In relation to Pu-pu-mox-mox, I wrote for the full particulars of his death on the 25th of last month. At the time he was killed I was untying a rope to tie him with to prevent him from making his escape. I saw it all with my own eyes, and I was within three ft. of him when he breathed his last. He certainly was not murdered but was killed by one of the guard while he was trying to take the gun of the other. According to the most rigid rules of civilized warfare, the guard was not to blame. Officers and soldiers have frequently been complimented for killing prisoners under similar circumstances. Doubtless it was the intention of Pu-pu-mox-mox and his comrades to get the guns of the guard and then make their escape. Even Gen. Wool himself commends Major Haller and his men for killing an Indian prisoner at Fort Boise in 1854 trying to make his escape from the regulars of the U.S. Army. The acts of the regulars, in the estimation of Gen'l. Wool, deserve commendation, but the same act performed by volunteers only twelve months afterwards is severely and bitterly condemned as murder in the first degree. Pu-pu-mox-mox was a rich, proud, haughty, cunning, treacherous, bitter and dangerous enemy and those who think the whites are wholly responsible for this war and that Indians can do no wrong may truly sympathize with the Indians and deeply regret his death. To those who prefer Negroes and Indians to whites, and a vast, howling wilderness inhabited only by coyotes, wolves, panthers and living beings in human shape more savage still, to beautiful cultivated fields, and large, flourishing commercial cities inhabited by intelligent, civilized man, have great cause to grieve over the loss of Pu-pu-mox-mox. But if the cultivation of the soil, and the cultivation of the arts and sciences, be the will of the maker of the heavens and earth, it may be just cause for the Oregonians to rejoice that this daring chief and champion of the savages attempted to escape and drew down destruction upon his own head. As for scalping and cutting of Peu-peu-mox-mox' ears, this is a relic of barbarism which the Americans learned from the savages, and the practice is very common among the whites and Indians. I have no taste for such barbarity. The whites sometimes scalp the Indians before they are scarcely dead, and the Indians scalp all who fall into their hands. There are a few whites back in the volunteer and regular army who pride themselves upon showing such worthless trophies. The only excuse is offered is the Indians would scalp you, and the Indian will never bury, burn or touch an Indian that has his hair mutilated. If an Indian is killed and not scalped and the Indians get a chance they will remove the body as quick as a white man would, but if he is scalped you can always find the body afterward. The Indians are superstitious and will not touch the mutilated dead body.
I have just brought from the First Regiment of volunteers on the Columbia River an express to the Gov. of Oregon. I came the whole route with only one man with me. Since my arrival in Oregon my life has frequently been exposed, and the road before me is beset by hostile bands of roving reckless savages, yet I am not afraid to go wherever duty calls me, regardless of consequences.
B. F. Dowell.Bancroft Library MSS P-A 25
Correspondence of the Hornellsville Tribune.
I have been so preoccupied with the cares of a family, providing defense and protection against hostile Indians in this vicinity, that until this moment I could get no time to give you an account of the state of things as they exist in this Territory at the present time. I presume anything connected with the present war in Oregon will be read with interest.
INDIAN WAR IN OREGON.In August 1853, a treaty of peace was concluded between the Rogue River Indians and the people of Oregon (or the United States) in which it was stipulated that the Indians should cede to the United States all the lands lying on the waters of Rogue River, with the exception of a tract some 30 miles square in the vicinity of Table Rock, respect the laws of the United States &c. The consideration was $75,000, to be paid in yearly installments. The Chief Sam, with a part of his tribe, still remain peaceable on the river or at Ft. Lane, in Jackson County. Inhabiting the lower Rogue River country is several small bands numbering some 240 men besides women and children, occupying the mountains between the Klamath and Umpqua rivers, on the north and south and east and west. The Indians along the coast number some 2,000. The Cow Creek band and the Umpquas number near 100 warriors. Numbers of each of these bands, with the dissolute, lazy and reckless from other tribes, north and south, and many who have lived with the whites and are called pet Indians, have united, and altogether compose a very formidable array. They are armed with rifles and pistols (Colt's revolvers) and are better shots than the whites.
There seems to have been a general understanding between these merciless land pirates, and the Indians of Washington Territory and the Upper Columbia. Oct. 13th, 15th, the Indians attacked the settlement on Cow Creek and burned some 20 houses, besides outbuildings and thousands of bushels of grain; in fact, but two houses were left in the distance of nine miles, and they were riddled with bullets. A Mr. Harris was killed, and a Mrs. Wagoner is missing, also a Mrs. Haines and daughter supposed to be in possession of the Indians. On receipt of this intelligence Gov. Curry issued a proclamation calling for mounted volunteers, which was promptly responded to, and two battalions (nine companies) were organized t operate in the southern division of the Territory. One thousand mounted volunteers were ordered to the Upper Columbia, to form a junction with the forces of Gov. Stevens, of Washington Territory. About the 15th of October, a company of hog drovers were proceeding along the great military road from Scottsburg to Jacksonville, and on ascending the Grave Creek Hills were attacked by superior numbers, and a man by the name of Holland Bailey was shot dead in the road. A running fight of three miles ensued, until the whites found shelter in a log house. A few days afterwards the Indians were discovered in force, and Maj. Martin's battalion (300), with a company of regulars under Col. Ross, marched to the attack. The Indians had chosen a position on a high mountain and were in two ravines, separated by a narrow ridge. The volunteers rushed recklessly into the angle of their position, when a crossfire was opened on them, telling with deadly effect. At night the troops withdrew from the field with a loss of 15 killed and 20 wounded. It was a perfect failure. The next morning the Indians attacked them in their camp, but were repulsed by a short contest. A general retreat was ordered and the Indians remained in undisputed possession of the mountains.
In consequence of this shameful mismanagement on the part of the officers, the citizens were subjected to the necessity of fortifying their houses and depending on themselves for protection. Farming and mining operations are almost entirely suspended, and no one is safe a moment outside of a fortification. Wednesday, November 21st, the forces in the field took up the line of march from headquarters, at Vannoy's ferry on Rogue River, for the Big Meadows 50 miles below Capt. Judah, of the U.S. service, Capt. Rice and Wilkinson of Maj. Bruce's battalion, and Maj. Martin with his battalion arrived at the Meadows on the 26th and began the construction of a raft, when the crack of a rifle from the brush on the opposite side instantaneously set 286 men flying in as many directions for shelter behind trees and rocks. A firing was kept up till dark, and the next morning another shameful retreat was ordered, and 432 men were in full flight from half their number of Indians. One man in Capt. Rice's company had his left arm broken, and three men in Capt. Williams' company were wounded, one by the name of Wm. M. Louis so badly he died. Thus the just expectations of the citizens have been disappointed, and the brand of cowardice stamped upon the officers of the expedition.
November 30th, a man by the name of Yell was shot at by some Cow Creek Indians in the vicinity of this place. Intelligence was communicated to Capt. S. Gordon of Co. D. that the Indians were within five miles of his camp. The gallant Capt. got on their trail after having accomplished a ten-mile march (five miles the wrong way and then back) in the short space of thirty-eight or forty hours--quick time for mounted volunteers truly. But in the meantime fourteen citizens had followed the Indians (twenty-five in number) thirty miles on foot, and surprised them in their camp on the Olilly Creek and routed them completely, capturing twenty-three horses and all their camp equipage, killing several Indians and having but one man wounded, leaving the aforesaid gallant Capt. to yelp on a cold trail. This last is the only action up to this date, Dec. 1st, in which the Indians have not been victorious.
Jan. 10th, by express from Jacksonville, we learn that 40 Indians in a log house were attacked by 150 whites with a piece of artillery (on Applegate Creek) when the Indians rushed out, broke the line, killed four and wounded five, and escaped without the loss of a man. All the hostile Indians in Southern Oregon may number 350 or 400. They are not so much an alliance of bands as a combination of individuals from every locality, have been always and everywhere exhibiting the most implacable hatred to the whites, and who, to gratify a passion for blood and plunder, have constantly sought to involve the races in war.
This region has been chosen for their operations because it contains the most inaccessible mountain fastnesses and afford the most complete shelter and the best advantages for their peculiar mode of warfare. There must be an extermination of the Indians who compose this war party, or there can be no security for life or property in this country. The quartermaster's and commissary stores are obtained on a credit at great prices, and it is a fair estimate to say that every Indian killed in this war will cost the United States government $6,000. We may add to this another item. In times of peace and quiet $175,000 per month in gold dust passes through Crescent City. New mining is suspended, trade has fallen to one-third of the usual amount, and should the war end today, the country will not recover from its effects in three years to come. But little grain has been sowed his fall, and the price of breadstuffs has an upward tendency. The weather has been cold, snow 10 inches deep, grass scarce, beef poor-whiskey $1.50 a bottle and bad at that.
I have sent my wife and her sister to the Willamette Valley, to get them out of the way of these Indians, and I am keeping bachelor's hall. To give you some idea of the uneasiness to which we are subjected, I will say that while writing this I have been to my door some half dozen times to look out for Indians. Sunday has disappeared from the days of the week, and soldiers are riding in all directions. I have not heard of a religious meeting in three months, and a Rev. Mr. Miller said he had come to the conclusion that an Indian had no soul worth saving anyhow.
In great haste.
Isaac A. Flint.
South Oregon, Feb. 3rd, 1856.A temporary release from pressing duties enables me to drop you a line from the seat of war in this territory. As an old Oregonian I confess I am ashamed to state even the truth. But as "murder will come out," so also will truth, sooner or later. The aspect of affairs at this moment is truly discouraging. The interests, hopes, expectations and general safety and protection of the citizens of Southern Oregon were entrusted to two battalions of mounted volunteers, and a company of regulars stationed at Ft. Lane in Jackson County So strong a mounted corps (900) was expected to make a "perfect smash" of the Indians in this quarter, but four months has elapsed and the "critical period of the war" has just arrived. The whites were completely defeated in the first general engagement (the battle of Hungry Hill) and subsequently at the great meadows on Lower Rogue River. Nothing like a general action has occurred since that disgraceful retreat. Some little marching and countermarching of the officers (principally to the grog shops and back again), until some eight days since, when the Lieut. Col. Martin concentrated his battalion at the falls of this (Cow Creek) on receiving intelligence that an eight-gallon keg of monongahela had duly arrived. Four companies, Chapman's, Buoy's, Bailey's and Gordon's, headed by their respective officers, instantly charged, on the run, and the unfortunate monongahela was literally swallowed alive. A drunken spree of a day and night followed, and the next day eighty picked men proceeded in quest of Indians. After a march of some 20 miles Capt. Chapman and Gordon, with their commands, on arriving in the neighborhood of the redskins suddenly recollected they had but four days' rations and no whiskey. So they took the backtrack, leaving Capt. Bailey and his command to stand it alone. In the evening as the command, 67 men, were in camp, one man bantered the crowd for a wrestle. A ring was soon formed, and while they were scuffling before a large fire they had just replenished in order to see the fun--the fun commenced in earnest. A party of five Indians watching their movements could not forgo the opportunity of learning them a small lesson, and so just pitched a few bullets right into the crowd, killing a dog--one man (of the two who were wrestling), mortally wounding one more, and another severely.
On leaving their camp in the morning the five Indians took instant possession, dancing, yelling and firing their pistols in derision. The company is now discharged. In short, the conduct of the officers in this battalion has been so cowardly and disgraceful that the Governor has issued a proclamation authorizing the discharge of all who want to quit the service. The soldiers feel themselves disgraced by their officers and have no confidence in them. There is now no available force in the field, and the citizens of Douglas County are exposed to attacks from all points and at all times, day and night. Last Thursday, January 31st, the Indians (supposed about 30) made a descent upon an old man by the name of Russel, two miles from where I am now writing, killed two of his oxen and some cows, steers &c. and drove off his pony and a few cattle. They fired several shots at him, but he gave good leg-bail and escaped. One bullet hit his rifle, glanced off and fell into his hand without injury. He has it in his possession yet.
Col. Williams in Jackson County is about the only officer in the southern division who appears to be worthy of the trust reposed in him. In the northern department things here have been managed better, and the credit of the volunteers has been sustained.
Yours,Hornellsville Weekly Tribune, New York, April 24, 1856, page 2
Isaac A. Flint
Deer Creek, Feb. 1856.
Editor Statesman--About two weeks ago Dr. Ambrose Ambrose sent two Indians of Sam's band to the Meadows, to learn the fate of the prisoners. Their report is that Mrs. Wagoner was killed in the house, Mrs. Haines and child were made prisoners; the former died within two weeks subsequent to their capture; they kept the latter for some two months but upon hearing of the capture and murder of two squaws by the whites, they subjected the child to massacre, also a half breed. The force at the Meadows has been reinforced by 300 Klamaths, making the present force at the Meadows 650. They are well fortified and are ready to fight. They have lost 18 warriors, 6 at Hungry Hill, 9 at Wagoner's ranch, and 3 at Jumpoff Joe.
They are willing to make a treaty, but it must be upon their own terms.
Some 17 mules, with sundry pack saddles and packing fixtures, have been found dead near the Crescent City trail, at the foot of the mountain post at Mooney's ranch. Supposition is that the packers were all killed, as no further information can be obtained of any of them. This was doubtless the work of Old John's band of the Applegate tribe. They number about fifty warriors, and have constantly committed depredations in the vicinity of Applegate Creek and Clover Valley since the war commenced. In a few days as large a force will be ready for action as has lately been mustered out of service.
"Douglas," in "Umpqua Correspondence of the Statesman," Oregon Statesman, Salem, February 26, 1856, page 2
THE WAR IN THE INTERIOR.--We have not a word of news from the seat of war. The Jacksonville Sentinel, of the 19th ult., says:
"It is reported that a force of regular troops, sufficient for the purposes of the war, is expected at Fort Lane within a very short time. We hope it will prove true."
Later.--Mr. Baldridge arrived from the interior yesterday and furnished us just before going to press with the Sentinel of the 26th ult. It says:
"We learn that Capt. Bailey and Capt. Buoy, with their companies, trailing Indians in the Cow Creek Mountains, came upon a force so large and so well posted that it was found necessary to send for more men.
"The old volunteer companies have been disbanded. New companies have been disbanded. New companies are being formed, but recruit slowly. Another movement towards the 'Big Meadows' is contemplated."
The Latest.--It was reported late last evening that Mr. Winslow, the expressman from Gold Beach, had been shot at by the Indians above Chetco on his way hither.
Another report states that the volunteers on Cow Creek have been defeated by the Indians.
Crescent City Herald, February 6, 1856, page 2
E. M. Barnum
Territory of Oregon
2nd Regt. O.M.V.
Roseburg Feb. 3rd 1856
Sir in compliance with your directions allow me to transmit this to you as my monthly report covering Jany. 3rd ending February 3rd 1856.
I left for Captain Bailey's camp near the head of Coquille River, Coos County, Jany. 3rd in pursuit of a band of Indians reported to be in that section of the country. Sent out Jas. Barnes with ten men to the west fork of Cow Creek, found five feet of snow on the mountains and could not reach it.
Mr. Barnes was confident that there was Indians on Big Bend, Cow Creek. Sent him out with his men; he arrived at the above-mentioned place early in the morning but owing to a dense fog was unable to see Indians or their houses, but found plenty fresh [sign] of Indians & horses Friday not deeming it safe to remain longer returned to camp and reported. On receipt of the above I ordered out detachments of twenty men from companies B., D., I. and fifteen from company A. numbering seventy-five men under the command of Capt. Bailey to concentrate at Fort Gordon. The company marched from there in the night, arrived at Moolah [Chinook for "mill"] Creek before daylight and camped. Sent out scouting parties to the bend and the divide between camp and Cow Creek. The last mentioned returned reporting to have heard the report of seven guns in the direction of Cow Creek. Next night the other scouts returned reporting the Indians to have left. Marched that night to Cow Creek two miles above the Indian rancheria and camped. Next morning went to the rancheria, found twelve large houses sufficiently large to contain one hundred Indians and found their trail leading in the direction of the Meadows on Rogue River. Followed the trail some twelve miles over the divide between Cow Creek and Rogue River. Remained in camp two days. Detachment of Co. B. & I. returned to Fort Gordon leading Co. A. & B. At the camp on the night of Jany. 23rd they was fired into by the Indians, killing two and wounding one. Our men held their ground and slept on their arms that night. Next morning the Indians was seen on the mountains and [I] judged from their actions that they was trying to draw us into a canyon. Not knowing the number of Indians which might be concealed and not having sufficient forces to send out the wounded and attack the enemy, Capt. Bailey concluded to make his retreat to Fort Gordon.
It is reported to me that the men acted with great courage and presence of mind, returning their fire by the blue [smoke] of the Indians' guns.
I have kept open communication between this point and Rogue River as much as in my power under the present state of affairs. General Order No. 22 discharging all volunteers has crippled me in my movements very much and I am compelled to keep what disposable forces I have to protect the govt. stores at the several different stations. I am expecting to have another company in the field in a few days then I think I can manage to keep the Indians out of the valley until forces can be raised sufficient to follow them into the mountains. There is about one hundred and twenty-five men in service at this time.
The Indians have shot at several men in the upper portion of the valley and robbed one house & killed a number of cattle. Something must be done soon or we are gone to the races.
I have urged upon the captains of the different companies the necessity of sending in their reports. It appears that in the grand confusion that they have not been able to do it.
RespectfullyOregon State Archives, Yakima and Rogue River War, Document File B, Reel 3, Document 680.
Your obt. servant
W. J. Martin
Lt. Col. Commanding
2nd Regt. O.M.V.
Per A. J. Kane Adjt.
Jacksonville O.T.To his excellence
February 8th 1856.
Gov. G. L. Curry
In the discharge of my official duties it becomes incumbent upon me to prefer charges against Col. R. L. Williamson 2nd Regt. O.M.V. which upon examination you will find to be correct. Since he has had command of the forces, the interests of the country have greatly suffered in consequence of inactivity of the troops and their being scattered and dispersed over a large scope of country, without the slightest exertion upon his part to endeavor to collect them together, or adopt any plan for a successful prosecution of the war, to the great injury of this portion of Oregon. The interest of the country and the reputation of the volunteers alike require an investigation. The order informing the captains to fill up their companies was received by him before many of the men had received their discharge, and retained in his possession until those men were discharged and dispersed to the mines or their homes, and many of them to Yreka. It was done as I believe, and I have no doubt, to prevent the filling up of companies, thereby breaking up some companies in order to get capts. more subservient to his wishes. Again while in pursuit of the Indians on Applegate with Capt. Rice's company, a requisition was made for rations in order to enable us to continue the pursuit, which was refused, and Capt. Rice ordered to headquarters from under my command without my knowledge; in fact, no orders have been issued to me, nor have I had any assurance that I would be permitted to have either men or supplies to accomplish anything after it had been begun.
I learn from Col. T'Vault that no official reports have reached your office from this regiment. The captains of companies have reported regularly to the Col.
Very respectfullyGov. Geo. L. Curry
Your obt. servt.
Major 2nd Regt. O.M.V.
Oregon State Archives, Yakima and Rogue River War, Document File B, Reel 2, Document 649.
Headquarters Dept. of the PacificTo his
Benicia California 12th February 1856.
Excellence Isaac I. Stevens
Governor of Washington Territory
I received your communication of the 23rd of December and 29th January 1856 on the 6th instant, but too late to reply to it by the return steamer. For the information which it imparts you have my thanks. When you know my instructions to Colonel Wright of the 9th Infantry at Vancouver, you will discover that many of your suggestions have been anticipated. In presenting, however, your plan of the campaign, which is a very extended one, you should have recollected that I have neither the resources of a Territory, nor the Treasury of the United States at my command. Still you may be assured that the war against the Indians will be prosecuted with all the vigor, promptness and efficiency I am master of, at the same time without wasting unnecessarily the means and resources at my disposal by untimely and unproductive expeditions. With the additional force which recently arrived at Vancouver and at the Dalles, I think I shall be able to bring the war to a close in a few months, provided the extermination of the Indians, which I do not approve of, is not determined on, and private war prevented, and the volunteers withdrawn from the Walla Walla country.
Whilst I was in Oregon it was reported to me that many citizens, with a due proportion of volunteers and two newspapers, advocated the extermination of the Indians. This principle has been voted on in several instances, without discriminating between enemies and friends, which has been the cause in Southern Oregon of sacrificing many innocent and worthy citizens. As in the case of Major Lupton and his party of (volunteers) [sic] who killed twenty-five Indians, eighteen of whom were women and children. These were friendly Indians on their way to the Indian reservation, where they expected protection from the whites. This barbarous act is the cause of the present contest in the Rogue River country and, as Captain Judah U.S.A. reports, as retaliatory of the conduct of Major Lupton.
By the same mail which brought me your communication, I received one, now before me, from a person who I think incapable of misrepresentation, which informs me that the friendly Cayuses are every day menaced with death by Governor Curry's volunteers. The writer says they have despoiled these Indians--who have so nobly followed the advice of Palmer to remain faithful friends to the Americans--of their provisions. Today he says these same volunteers without discipline and without orders are not yet satisfied with rapine and injustice, and wish to take away the small remnant of animals and provisions left. Every day they run off the horses and cattle of the friendly Indians. These have been indignant and will not be much longer restrained from resisting conduct so unworthy of the whites, who have made them so many promises to respect and protect them if they remained faithful friends. The writer further says if the volunteers are not arrested in their brigand actions the Indians will save themselves by flying to the homes of their relations, the Nez Perces, who have promised them help, and then all the Indians of Oregon and Washington would join in the common defense. This information is in a great measure confirmed by a person who I am assured enjoys your respect and confidence.
I need not say, although I had previously instructed Colonel Wright to take possession of the Walla Walla country at the earliest moment practicable, that I directed him to give protection as soon as he could to the friendly Cayuses from the depredations of the volunteers. It is such conduct as here complained of that irritated and greatly increased the ranks of the hostile tribes, and if the Nez Perces join in the war against us, which I hope to prevent, we shall require a much larger force than we now have in Washington and Oregon Territories to resist savage barbarities and to protect the whites.
I have recently sent to Puget Sound two companies of the 9th Infantry. These with the three companies there will give a force of nearly or quite four hundred regulars, commanded by Lieut. Colonel Casey. This force, with several ships of war in the Sound, to which will be added in a few days the United States steamer Massachusetts, it seems to me, if rightly directed, ought to be sufficient to bring to terms two hundred Indian warriors. Captain Keyes in his last report received says there are not quite two hundred in arms in that region. Lieut. Colonel Casey has been directed to prosecute the war with the greatest vigilance and activity. The gallant Captain Swartout, who goes in the Massachusetts, commander in chief of the naval forces in the sound, will, I am assured, zealously, efficiently, and I trust successfully cooperate with Colonel Casey to bring the war to a close.
In regard to the operations east of the Cascade Mountains, if Governor Curry's volunteers have not driven the friendly Cayuses and the Nez Perces into the ranks of the hostile tribes, and they should be withdrawn from the Walla Walla country, I have great hopes that I shall be able to bring the Indians in that region to terms, notwithstanding the volunteers killed the chief Peu-peu-mox-mox, scalped him, cut off his ears and hands, as reported by the volunteers, and sent them to their friends in Oregon. All this, too, after he met them under a flag of truce, declaring he "was for peace, that he did not wish to fight, that his people did not wish to fight," and that if any of his young men had done wrong he would make restitution. While he at the same time offered the volunteers cattle for food. Such conduct may have caused feelings difficult to overcome. I trust, however, I will be able to do it.
As soon as the war is terminated east of the Cascade Mountains, I will be able to send all my disposable forces against the Indians on Rogue River and Puget Sound. It is, however, due to truth to say that at no time were volunteers required, or in any sense of the term necessary, for the defense of the inhabitants of Oregon from the depredations or barbarities of Indians occupying the country east of the Cascade Mountains. Nor was there any circumstance to justify Governor Curry in sending his troops from Oregon to Washington Territory to make war on the Walla Wallas, from whom the Oregonians had no danger whatever to apprehend. On this subject, I would refer you to the report of the Secretary of War, dated the 3rd of December, relating to the affairs of the army, in which he says, "The Department at this distance, and ii the absence of more definite information, especially in regard to the extent of the combination among the hostile tribes, cannot judge that volunteer reinforcements to the regular troops may be necessary. This is a matter which must be necessarily left to the military commander in the Department of the Pacific."
At the conclusion of your communication you say, "It is due to frankness that I should state that I have determined to submit to the Department the course taken by the military authorities in disbanding the troops raised in the Territory of Washington for my relief. No effort was made, although the facts were presented both to Major General Wool and Major Rains, to send me assistance. The regular troops were all withdrawn into garrison, and I was left to make my way the best I could, through tribes known to be hostile. It remains to be seen whether the commissioner selected by the President to make treaties with Indians in the interior of the continent is to be ignored, and his safety left to chance."
In your "frankness" and determination to represent me to the Department, I trust you will be governed by truth, and truth only. Perhaps it is equally due to frankness on my part to say that your communication is the first that I have received in relation to yourself, or on any subject whatever touching the Indian war, from any civil functionary either in Washington or Oregon Territories; and I have received but one from the military, and that was from Colonel Nesmith, who requested me to furnish him with two howitzers, which I refused. I have only to add that I disbanded no troops raised for your relief, and your communication gave me the first intelligence that any were raised for such a purpose.
I am very respectfullyBeinecke Library
Your obedient servant
John E. Wool
The War South.
The following letters to the Times are lengthy, but of striking interest:
Roseburg, Feb. 12th, 1856.Friend Waterman: Through the columns of the [Portland Weekly] Times, I desire, briefly, to investigate the war south. We have an area of country, north and south, of three hundred miles--east and west, five hundred--in which we find Indians in arms against us. The country in which the Indians choose to fight is exceedingly mountainous, and almost opposes access to a white man. In this mountainous country, however, there are many valleys that are productive and are generally settled by an industrious people. They have accumulated herds of stock, and in fact their wealth entirely consists of animals.
On or about the 1st of October last, we found ourselves south participating in an Indian war. Families were massacred, from the aged grandmother to the newly born babe. Wives and mothers are captured and taken into the recesses of the mountains to meet and contend with such treatment as the rude mercy of an enraged savage would bestow upon them--and the fact has been recently established beyond cavil that the unfortunate prisoners Mrs. Wagoner and child and Mrs. Haines are yet alive and with them!
In the beginning, I admit the forces [Indian] to contend against were not large, but the advantages they held of country, and the citizens being dispersed so remote from the assistance of each other, rendered it impossible to defend their lives and property--hence depredations of no comparative character ensued.
The condition of the South is more to be deplored at the present than it has been heretofore--for while our forces have been disbanded, our foe has increased, and it is the universal opinion south that the number of Indians to contend with now are five times greater than they were on the 1st of October.
It will require I believe a force of no less than two thousand strong to subdue the southern Indians--and they will do well if they effect it in twelve months from this time. Force is required, wanted and expected. The greatest force ordered into the field will be found inadequate to prosecute anything like an active campaign.
Edgar A. Stone.On the above letter the Times of the 19th remarks as follows:
We learn that the volunteers have all left the field south--that there are about 200 regulars at Fort Lane, commanded by Capts. Judah and Smith. The Kanyon is blocked up, and government stores in large quantities are now lying on this side of the entrance.
The number of persons known to have been killed by the Indians at the south, since the breaking out of hostilities, amounts to 128! Eighty-odd buildings have been burned, thousands of stock has been killed and driven off, and an immense amount of other property destroyed and stolen by the Indians! Matters are represented as being gloomy in the extreme at the south--and yet Gen. Wool would represent that there is no war! No cause for alarm! That the people of Oregon have got up a pretended war to make money out of! Shame on such unmanly statements--they are unbecoming any man who wears the human form.
The Times of March 1st contains the following letter from the same party who gives the above particulars, giving eight days later news from the South:
Roseburg, Feb. 20, 1856.Friend Waterman:--I avail the present hasty moment to inform you that through the agency of Dr. Ambrose (Indian agent) two of Sam's tribe were sent to the Meadows for the purpose of ascertaining the probable fate of the unfortunate women who were taken prisoners; they have returned, and report that Mrs. Wagoner was killed at her residence. The Indians carried away her child, five years old. Mrs. Haines and child they kept some two weeks, and they died. They seemed desirous of keeping Mrs. Wagoner's child, but upon learning that the soldiers had taken two squaws, they massacred the child, also a half-breed of their own. Such is the certain fate of those mothers and children for whom so much anxiety has been entertained.
There are 650 Indians at the Meadows, the original party having been reinforced by 300 Klamaths. They are well fortified, having constructed walls and barricades of heavy timber and stones. They are ready to fight and seem to desire the combat. They say they will treat only upon terms of their own dictation. What they are I don't know, and, as one man, don't care. I am opposed to a treaty, for I consider if, under the circumstances,we condescend to treat with the devils, after they have spilt the blood of mothers and infants so savagely, Oregon would ever have to blush for the bravery of her citizens, but I apprehend no fears upon that point. A Mr. Turner reports 17 pack mules lying dead near Mooney's Mountain, together with sundry packing fixtures. The supposition is that the entire party was killed, as no further information has been obtained relative to the catastrophe.
The Indians report the loss of seventeen men killed--though I know they have sustained a far greater loss than that. Their report is six at Wagoner's, eight at Hungry Hill, and three at Jumpoff Joe. I can count more than that myself. There will soon be as many forces in the field--ready for active service--as were lately abandoned. Through the good management and industry of Quartermaster J. W. Drew, he has afforded us an abundance of quartermaster stores, which may be found at every accessible point between the Calapooia and Jacksonville. Unfortunately, however, there are many points where supplies are that are only protected by assistant quartermasters with half-worn-out steel pens--no good thing I admit.
I will write you whenever I can interest you.
Edgar B. Stone.Daily Alta California, San Francisco, March 13, 1856, page 2
Surgeon, Southern O.M.V.
State of Affairs South.
Douglas County, O.T., Feb. 14, '56.
Ed. Oregonian--I wish to put a few lines in your columns if you think them worthy of a space. We have Indians in and throughout our vicinity in great numbers, though little efforts are made to drive them from our land at present. It is probable that they will be routed in a short time, as we have a new company in the field commanded by Edward Sheffield, and also several independent companies, ready to start in a few days to give battle to the Indians. I learn that Col. Martin has given orders that no man shall be allowed to proceed with these companies who is not under his command. Now, I will tell you the reason why he does not wish them to go. It is not on account of provocation or for the want of ammunition, but the idea is this, he knows that the rangers will whip the Indians which will bring the war to a close, while he can keep the men under his command in check by his orders, and keep the war in progress through the summer and probably next winter, during which time he knows that he can make a fortune. I don't mean to say that the volunteers won't fight, for they will if they get a chance, and they are very anxious to battle with the Indians. Col. Martin is the cause of the Indians not being whipped at the Meadows and divers other places that can be mentioned; for instance, in the bend of Cow Creek. No sir, Col. Bills from his own representation shows the country that the war will be continued on till he [Martin] sees fit to resign, and then we may get an officer that will clean the field. Why, it can be proven that he said this was the first time he ever got a chance to bleed the treasury of Uncle Sam, and he intended to make good use of it. "By Sam Hill, boys, Uncle Sam is rich; don't be in a hurry, and don't whip the Indians too quick, for let us get some money before the war is ended." Now, is this a pretty way for an officer of the United States Army to speak? Why, if the Governor does not turn him out, the citizens ought to do it. Who is Col. Martin? Why, he is a traitor to our country and is a man that would build up a few on the ruins of many. He does not study our interests or our country's welfare, nothing but his own and a few of his soft mutton-headed house sweepers. Two-thirds of the people in the south and nearly the whole army are against him, and have sent petitions to the Governor for his removal. I hope the Governor will remove him, so that the war will be brought to some kind of a termination. Either give the Indians the country or drive them away. I consider that they have it now, for the progress of farming is stopped almost entirely. Hundreds of farmers are depending on second crops for their bread next season, which would not have been the case if the Indians were followed up. As it is, we have to trust to Providence. Hundreds of families are leaving their homes for safety, in order that their husbands may go into the field of Indian warfare. Such is the state of affairs here in the south, caused mostly by the glorious inactivity of the Colonel.
G. GREENWOOD, JR.
Oregonian, Portland, March 8, 1856, page 3
Canyonville Douglas Co. O.T.
Feb. 16th 1856
Your letter of Aug. 1855 came to hand a few days since, by which I was glad to learn of the good health of all the folks, and of your success in your business transactions. My health has been uniformly good. The spring is now rapidly approaching & it is important that we be up & doing as early in the season as possible. You have no doubt written me letters that I have not recd. & I have written you letters that you had not recd. when yours of Aug. was written. You have doubtless recd. them since. . . . You are perhaps hardly aware that business matters here are unusually dull owing to the existing Indian war, of which you have learned ere this, & sales in Oregon the coming season will have to be urged considerably. In California I have more hopes of doing well than here. The war news you get by the papers, I suppose, & I have not space to give you many items. I am now writing you from the Umpqua Canyon, a deep pass 10 miles in length through a high range of mountains. The other side of the Canyon the Indians are now assembled in strong force to plunder all trains that attempt to pass the road. A train is not safe without an escort of 100 men. There is not at this time that number in this section. Night before last six Indians passed within 20 rods of this house; there were but 2 of us here. One week ago last night some Indians came to the door probably with a view to fire the house but did not succeed. I should not be surprised to hear the report of Indian rifles before I finish writing. About ten days since, the Indians attacked a house, drove off the men, 4 in No., & plundered it about 4 miles from here. People here sleep with one eye open, and every house [has] portholes to shoot through. Unless there is something more done for the Indians than has been done, there will [be] more of them to fight when spring opens. The probability is that there be but little crop raised the coming season in this & Rogue River valleys; many settlers have left their homes already & more are daily leaving, deeming it unsafe to remain. Hence we may look for high prices this season coming. Since the war began prices have raised about three hundred percent. If the government would make an appropriation & buy as they go they might save one-half the aggregate cost of the war. I have had chances to engage in the commissary & quartermaster's departments, & might have done well, but have declined, wishing to be at liberty in the spring to meet you. Were it not for your coming here I think I should engage in the north & remain in the Colville neighborhood when the war was over. It may however prove to be a long & bloody one, as I believe more Indians will enter the lists in the spring. To give you an idea of what kind of a country the war is conducted in, in this southern department, I will cite you to you the most mountainous & heavy-timbered sections of New Hampshire that you have seen. Such is the character of the country the Indians occupy. For the most part they go into more open country in squads, and if pursued retreat to the roughest mountains on earth. I must now close by promising to write again soon & I wish you to do likewise. Write to Sacramento City, California. Please accept the best wishes of your brother
John C. Danford
P.S. I saw Ross yesterday, all well.
John C. Danford, letter to his brother Jarvis S. Danford. "Letters of John C. Danford, Oregon Territory 1847-1856," transcribed by Frank Richard Sondeen June 1961. Fremont Area District Library, Fremont, Michigan.
From the South.Sunday, March 23 --Whilst preparing to start an escort with pack train to Fort Vannoy, an express came in camp reporting 2 men killed by Indians on Slate Creek and a large band of Indians making their way to Mr. Hay's house. Lieut. Armstrong with his command numbering about 50 men immediately started and on arriving within 300 yards of the house a heavy fire was opened on all sides by the Indians, who had completely surrounded Mr. Hay's house, and numbered near 200 warriors. Orders were immediately given to go through and reach Mr. Hay's house, which was promptly obeyed. On arriving at the house and finding the family secure the men immediately returned to the place of their first attack. Discovered 2 men killed (John Davis and Alexander Caldwell) and one man (a packer) severely wounded. The dead men were carried off by six men during a heavy fire from the enemy; had they done any good shooting many a life must have been sacrificed. The fight then became general, which lasted until dark, when the Indians after making a great number of fires and as we supposed burning their dead, which must have been five killed, several wounded, drew off. An express was immediately dispatched to Major Bruce, and likewise to the inhabitants of Illinois Valley. Major Bruce, with all the available forces under his command, arrived on the following morning. On Tuesday whilst preparing the whole command to march in pursuit of the enemy, an express arrived reporting a pack train robbed by Indians on Deer Creek. 25 men well armed and mounted started direct for the place. Major Bruce, with the remainder flanking out in different directions, on arriving at a low divide, a heavy crossfire was opened by the enemy who were lying in ambush. Another engagement commenced. On the first fire, 2 of Capt. George's company were killed and two of Capt. O'Neil's company slightly wounded. The men took their stations, killing 3 Indians, sure, Major James Bruce on the point of outflanking them. They scattered over the whole country, and not having sufficient force to make a successful fight. Major Bruce, with a portion of each company, returned to Illinois Valley to get the families together for their own safety. The remainder of the force returned to Camp Hay. Major Bruce with men from each company started today with three pack trains to Fort Vannoy, and to get sufficient provisions as well as men to make a more successful attack, as the Indians are in great force, and will require a strong number to make anything like a decisive blow.
Latest accounts represent matters to be in a horrible condition in Rogue River and Umpqua valleys. The Indians are said to have blockaded the road leading through the Canyon, and thus cut off all means of communication with Jacksonville. The express is said to have been driven back by a large body of Indians, although it was escorted by ten men. The Indians stopped the express just beyond the Canyon. Even in Umpqua Valley the Indians are said to have penetrated as far as Cow Creek, and are now burning the settlers' houses and laying waste the country with firebrands and tomahawks.
The newly elected Brig. Gen. J. K. Lamerick has made the call for four new companies, to be raised in Linn, Benton, Douglas and Linn counties, to supply the places of the companies already in the southern field, whose term of service is about to expire. What the southern regiment has been about the past winter is more than we can divine. There is great complaint made of those who have the command, but they may have done the best they could under the circumstances. The Indians at all events have had the best of it so far, and if Col. "Bill Martin" had belonged to any other than that of the Sham Democracy, every locofoco press in Oregon would have been denouncing his course in the most unqualified terms.
It is positively a disgrace to Oregon that our southern friends are not relieved, and that immediately. These Indians could have been subdued in 1849 in half the time we have been tinkering with them, although they were then much more numerous than at present, and we were much weaker. The Statesman's correspondent is puffing Lamerick as just the man for the emergency. This, together with his past history, gives us rather a poor opinion of him, but we will give him a chance to do something before we either praise or blame. If he earns any laurels, we shall be the last one to object to his wearing them.
The Oregon Argus, Oregon City, February 16, 1856, page 2
From the South.
We copy the following account of the fight at Applegate Creek from the Jacksonville Sentinel.
Major Bruce started into the mountains with Capt. O'Neil in search of the Indians that had made their escape from the cabins on Applegate. Capt. Alcorn went up Applegate with the intention of following the Indians, and to join Bruce in the mountains.
On the 18th [of January?] signs were discovered in various directions on Williams Creek, by Maj. Bruce and Capt. O'Neil. After several days' and nights' hard search, it was found that the Indians had left that part of the mountains and made down Applegate. On the 20th Capt. Alcorn joined the Major, and on the 21st, with about 25 men, partly of both companies, they started on the trail, which appeared to be about two days old. Lieut. Armstrong, with 15 or 20 men, was to join the Major, and Capt. O'Neil to bring the train, and on the march the Maj. came unexpectedly in sight of two Indians on horseback which he chased so closely that one had to leave his horse and take to the brush. The other made straight for camp.
The Major pursued him, and soon found himself in their camp, and immediately sent an express to the place which he had designated as camping ground in the morning, to Capt. O'Neil. He then took possession of the north side of the creek, and Capt. Alcorn of their encampment, about two and a half hours before sundown, and remained there until two of the men were wounded, when the Major ordered the Captain back to assist him on the hill, when they all started for their horses, but found it very difficult to get along, as the Indians were firing at them on all sides, while they had to assist the wounded along.
They were compelled, however, to abandon their horses and one of the wounded men, who was dying, and take to [a] ravine for shelter. There they all remained, firing at the Indians when it was possible to see one, till about eight o'clock in the night, when they started to camp, not knowing to a certainty that Capt. O'Neil had arrived, although the firing indicated that he had.
The Indians fired a perfect volley at us when we started, and we were compelled to leave the dead man. The Indians had taken twelve of our horses and killed two more. On the arrival of Capt. O'Neil, a man came running down the creek and said that the Major was surrounded. The Capt. immediately ordered Lieut. Armstrong to take 20 men and proceed up the mountain, while he started with the remainder up the creek to assist the Major; but as the Indians were firing from all directions he could not find the Major till late, when they all started for camp, with the intention of returning before daylight next morning. But as the men were worn down they did not succeed in getting them started in time to assist the Lieutenant.
The next morning when Lieut. Armstrong arrived on the mountain he was met by a band of some fifteen or twenty Indians, who fought bravely, but it appeared [they] were not marksmen, as they had some very good chances and missed them. All the Indians soon fell back as the men advanced on them. A boy about 18 years of age by the name of R. Gaddis deserves great credit, as he advanced in among the first, and was perfectly cool and composed. The Indians were concealed in the brush when night came on, and we had to take our posts and look out for them. The night was long, cold and wet. The men under Lieut. Armstrong all got together on the morning of the 22nd, and advanced on the ridge where the Indians were when seen last, but they had left. We continued on down the mountain and came in full view of the Indians, and not knowing that Maj. Bruce had left, thought it was part of his command. J. Matthews, being nearer than the rest, saw a small boy; that convinced [him] they were Indians, and shot twice and wounded one of them, and then they all ran across the creek and went up on the mountain opposite us, where a brisk firing was kept up for some [time], but to no effect. The Indians appeared to have plenty of ammunition. There appeared to be from forty to fifty warriors. The trail did not look as if there were more than twenty. The supposition is that there was an old camp where probably John had been for some time. From the burning, during the night, there must have been three or four killed, as we could see the smoke rise at different times from the canyon where the camp was.
Yours, &c. G. W. KEELER.
The Oregon Argus, Oregon City, February 23, 1856, page 3
THE WAR IN ROGUE RIVER VALLEY.--From verbal reports we gather that but little hope is entertained of conquering a peace from the hostile Indians. Negotiations may be more successful. On the occasion of Limpy's and George's visit to Fort Lane, the excitement is represented to have exceeded all bounds, and if the people had been let into the fort, nothing could have saved the lives of these chiefs. They declare themselves satisfied with the revenge upon the "Bostons," will make peace if such is the pleasure of the whites and move on the reserve north of Umpqua. They say that but twenty-five of their warriors are for peace, but they hope to persuade the balance. The band were escorted back towards the Big Meadows, and left under the impression that they would have to fight it out. Sam, the chief in the former war, has left Fort Lane with his band for the northern reserve.
The people of Rogue River Valley, it is said, have forwarded a petition to Gen. Wool for 500 troops. It becomes daily more evident that with the few troops now in the field the Indians cannot be whipped.
Crescent City Herald, March 5, 1856, page 2
BIG BEND OF ROGUE RIVER.--This station is situate on the north side of the river, about twenty miles below where the whites were repulsed by the Indians last fall (Big Meadows) while attempting to cross the river. There is a trail down to the station on the same side, keeping the bluffs and crossing the mouth of what is called the John Mule Creek, which is within fourteen miles of said station. The trail is not a very good one, and mules should not be packed with more than 150 pounds to go over it. It is thought that the hostile band of Indians are about to leave their winter quarters and go to some of the valleys on the Illinois River, or someplace else, as they say that the whites from the valleys can whip them.--Correspondent, Table Rock Sentinel.
Crescent City Herald, March 5, 1856, page 2
The P.M. steamship Republic, Isham, comd'g., left San Francisco Feb. 23rd; at 5½ p.m., on the night of the 24th, experienced a heavy gale from N.N.W., which lasted 36 hours; on the 27th, off Port Orford, the ship was discovered to be on fire over the boiler, but through the exertions of the officers, assisted by the passengers and crew, it was soon extinguished, and the ship's course altered for Port Orford, where we arrived in safety; upon examination the ship was found to be but slightly damaged; at midnight left Port Orford, shaping out course for Columbia River, the bar of which we crossed on the morning of the 29th, and arrived at Astoria at 10½ a.m.,; landed mail, freight and passengers, but owing to the ebb tide, we were detained about four hours; touched at St. Helens, and arrived at Fort Vancouver at noon on March 1st; left again on the 4th inst., at 11 a.m., with Company G, 4th Infantry, composed of 80 men, under the command of Capt. C. C. Augur and Lieut. Macfeely; arrived at Astoria at 1:20 p.m., on 5th inst., but owing to the state of the bar, we were detained three days; left at 11 a.m. on the 8th, and crossed the bar at 2 p.m.; arrived at Port Orford at 6½ p.m. on the 9th inst., landed the troops and left at 11½ p.m. for Crescent City, where we arrived on the morning of the 10th, at 10½; left at 2½ p.m. and arrived at Trinidad at 8 p.m.; left at 11½ p.m. and arrived off the Heads at 4 p.m. on the 12th.
"Two Weeks Later from Oregon," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, March 13, 1856, page 2
Roseburg O.T. March 3rd 1856Dear Sir
I arrived here yesterday and found the volunteers en route for south of the Canyon, one company starting today. Genl. Lamerick has been busy in stationing the forces at several important points, keeping open the roads, and preparing for a fight. The volunteers express a great desire for fight and seem more sanguine of success than ever before.
Capt. Chapman's command is now in the street and has just given three lion-voiced cheers for Genl. Lamerick, to which the Genl. responded in a brief though appropriate manner. I find my department in a tolerable condition. I was fortunate in obtaining such supplies in Corvallis as was required.
The Whigs and KN's south are making some objections to Lamerick and myself.
It is said that Belt is still claims [sic] and is Surgeon Genl. and you do not intend to remove Belt. This babble I do not regard but intend to discharge my duties impartially to the best of my abilities, consulting economy and general comfort and employing men of known capacity.
In making appointments in all cases party friends will be regarded first if competent, but as yet few such men have been found. In fact I have found but two Democratic surgeons in the Territory. There is a rumor that Sam, chief of the Rogue River Indians, has been attacked on his way to the Grand Ronde Reservation, before reaching the Canyon, but the reports need confirmation. Sam was escorted by 100 regulars.
I shall leave for Fort Leland tomorrow to establish a hospital at that point, as it will be more contiguous to the field of battle, should there be a battle where it is anticipated.
With high consideration I haveHis Excellency
The honor to be very resp.
Your obt. servt.
M. C. Barkwell
Surgeon Genl. O.T.
Geo. L. Curry
Oregon State Archives, Yakima and Rogue River War, Document File B, Reel 3, Document 856.
Headquarters, Crescent City Cala.Special Order
Dist. Southn. Oregon & Northn. Cal.
March 8th 1856.
Capt. A. J. Smith, 1st Dragoons, will move with all the disposable force under his command, on Wednesday, the 11th inst., to the Big Bend of Rogue River, taking with him a mountain howitzer and 50 rounds of ammunition for it. His dragoons will be dismounted, and his command will be provided with 60 rounds of cartridges and 20 days rations for each man. It is expected that his command will be at the Big Bend by the 11th inst., when he can communicate with the troops from this place, who will then be at the mouth of the Illinois River.
(signed) Robt. C. BuchananNARA M689, Letters Received by the Office of the Adjutant General 1881-1889, Roll 567, Papers Relating to the Death of Mary Wagoner.
Bvt. Lt. Col. Major 4th Infy.
LETTER FROM PORT ORFORD.
CONTINUED INDIAN DEPREDATIONS--BURNING OF ANOTHER BUILDING--
GENERAL DEVASTATION--NUMBER OF KILLED.
Port Orford, March 9, 1856.By the steamer Columbia, which passed up last evening, we forwarded full particulars of the Indian massacre, which you will receive by the return of said steamer, and if she touches at this place on her return, we will report whatever may transpire.
The Indians are continuing their depredations, and today we have witnessed the burning of another building on the coast, south, towards the mouth of Rogue River. Nearly every building in the vicinity of Rogue River is now burned, and in fact every mark of civilization is destroyed. There has been something over thirty men killed, among whom is the Indian Agent Benj. Wright, and John Poland, captain of the volunteers. It is impossible to tell how many Indians have been killed--probably some thirty in all since the outbreak, which occurred on the 22nd ultimo. Mr. E. A. Wilson of San Francisco, who was reported killed, was only slightly sounded, and is now at the fort at Rogue River. The steamer is now ready to sail, consequently we are compelled to delay a full account of our situation.
Yours &c.,Daily Alta California, San Francisco, March 13, 1856, page 2
From the Mouth of Rogue River.
BOAT CAPSIZED AND SIX MEN DROWNED--RELEASE OF MRS. GEISEL AND CHILDREN--PARTY OF FIVE FROM THE FORT AT MOUTH CUT OFF--MILITARY FORCE NOW IN THAT VICINITY--FURTHER PARTICULARS OF THE MASSACRE ON THE NIGHT OF THE 22ND-23RD AND SUBSEQUENT MOVEMENTS OF THE INDIANS.
Through the politeness of Dr. Holton, who arrived on the Republic from the fort at the mouth of Rogue River via Port Orford, we learn that in attempting to open a communication between Port Orford and that place by sea, a whaleboat was capsized, containing eight men from Port Orford, six of whom were drowned; the other two succeeded in getting into the fort.
At the time the Doctor left (last Thursday) they had succeeded in redeeming Mrs. Geisel, daughter and infant about five weeks old, her husband three sons having been killed in the attack of the 22nd February.
On the 2nd inst. five white men and one negro left the fort for the purpose of securing some potatoes that were not destroyed by the fire at the mouth of the river, and although well armed were cut off and every man killed, since which time no persons have ventured to leave the fort, forty men being kept on guard day and night. The whole number of persons in the fort being 96 men (5 wounded), 7 women and 12 children.
Old Enos is the leader of the savages, who boasts with others that they have plenty of ammunition and arms, and only sold Mrs. Geisel and her family to the whites from the fact that they soon expected to take the fort with all its inmates and establish an Indian town upon its ruins.
Only about 60 guns are in the fort, and the supplies are reduced to about six days' rations. The Indians have made three attacks but were repulsed each time, losing some few of their number, but they have not, as yet, made a general charge, and for lack of numbers no sally has been made from the fort.
As no communication is kept up between the parties, they learned from Mrs. Geisel (who was a prisoner with the Indians for nine days) all further particulars respecting their views and intentions. She states that the Indians are very sanguine that they will entirely overcome the whites and secure immediate possession of the fort, as it is supplied by a small running stream, which the Indians threatened to cut off, but which, as yet, has not been done. A communication is kept open with the beach, a distance of some 14 yards, from which place they secure their firewood. The Doctor left the fort as messenger to Port Orford by means of the whaleboat sent from that place.
The Republic on her return trip landed at Port Orford some 72 regular troops, which added to the 42 landed by the Columbia as she went up, and those already stationed there amounts to 175. These troops are under the command of Major Reynolds, who sent a dispatch to Col. Buchanan for the purpose of securing his cooperation.
Mrs. Geisel and her infant were received in exchange for two squaws, who were prisoners in the hands of the whites. Her daughter was purchased at something of a cost. At the time of capturing Mrs. Geisel on the night of the 22nd inst., her hands were tied behind her, and she was compelled to witness the murder of her husband and children, as well as the most savage mutilation of their bodies after death, when she was conducted to like horrible scenes upon the persons of many of her friends and neighbors.
A house containing six of the volunteers was attacked at daylight, and not until the afternoon were all the inmates slain.
Five of the volunteers got into the fort, some of them having their feet frozen and existing without food for five days.
The whole loss of the whites is about 20 killed and five wounded. The names of the wounded are James Hunt, Edwin Wilson, N. B. Gregory, George Basset and one man unknown.
Crescent City Herald, March 12, 1856, page 2
The war was declared Oct. 1st [sic], 1855, or about that time massacre ensued. Gov. Curry ordered out 17 companies mounted volunteers, composing about 1400 men, rank and file. They entered the field promptly and have done some good fighting. Have killed about 150 Indians and sustained a loss in action and otherwise, including massacres, about 250. Have lost about fifteen thousand head of stock. The number of Indians to contend against is more than double the number found on the first of Oct. The Indians are closer upon us now than ever. The expense incurred is about two and a half million; actual expenses, one million and a half; politics one million. We will whip them pretty soon.
Dr. Edgar B. Stone, "Progress of the War," Crescent City Herald, March 12, 1856, page 2
The Indians at the Meadows, on Rogue River, report the death of the three captive white women they took at the outbreak of hostilities. Two of them died of disease, and the third was killed to avenge the death of a squaw they had heard had fallen at the hands of the whites. The poor creatures are sleeping where "the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest." Better a thousand times be dead than exposed to the mercy of the savages. We shall always think that Oregon is disgraced and ought to suffer punishment for permitting those women to remain, suffer and die among the Indians, without making greater efforts to rescue them.
The Oregon Argus, Oregon City, March 15, 1856, page 2
Headquarters, Crescent City, Cal.Sir,
Dist. Southern Oregon & Northern Cal.
March 15th 1856
I have the honor to report for the information of the Commanding General of the Department that the two companies from this post, "B" 3rd Arty. Capt. Ord, and "F" 4th Inf. Capt. Floyd-Jones, under the immediate command of Capt. Ord, left here this morning for the mouth of Rogue River, from which point my operations will for the present be directed. I shall follow tomorrow and overtake the command at the Chetco River, as I wish to be here on the arrival of the two steamers, the Goliah from San Francisco and Columbia from Portland, now looked for every hour.
I am sorry to say that I have found it out of my power to carry out the plan of cooperation of the troops, contemplated by the General when he left here, as the proposed route from this to the mouth of the Illinois is impracticable. In consequence of the information obtained from several different persons well acquainted with that part of the country together with what I learned from Maj. Reynolds in a report received from him on Monday last, I determined to wait for the return of my express to Fort Lane before taking the field. I have heard from Capt. Smith, and he reports that the proposed route for him will be very rough and will take him 10 days to accomplish. This will leave him with but rations for 10 days longer, and I shall therefore be compelled to establish a depot at the mouth of Rogue River. In order to do this I had contemplated sending the supplies now at this point to that place by the Goliah, had she arrived before my departure, but under existing circumstances I shall be compelled to send back my train for a supply, which will necessarily retard my operations, I am afraid. I expect to reach the mouth of Rogue River by next Thursday, at which time I hope to hear of Capt. Smith's command at the Big Bend, and to meet Major Reynolds. With regard to the whereabouts of the hostiles I can learn nothing new, but from all the information that I can collect, think I shall find them about the Big Meadows, when if they will only give us battle I trust to be able to bring them to reason. I shall be better able to report something of interest, after uniting my forces.
Finding myself compelled to take Lieut. Ihrie with me into the field as A.A.C.S. & Q.M. to Ord's battalion, I stopped Lt. Allston as he was passing down in the Republic and have placed him on duty in charge of the detachment left at this place, to remain here until the arrival of Lt. Garber.
I am sirTo:
Your obt. servt.
Robt. C. Buchanan
Bvt. Lt. Col. Major 4th Inf.
1st Lt. J. C. Bonnycastle
Aide de Camp
NARA M689, Letters Received by the Office of the Adjutant General 1881-1889, Roll 567, Papers Relating to the Death of Mary Wagoner.
Since the opening of the war some six months ago, the public have learned some lessons on the merits of Indian fighting in a mountainous, broken country. It is here, as at common law, the thief has to be caught before he can be hung, and the catching proves to be the most difficult part of the business. Hitherto the Indians have got the better in almost every engagement between them and the whites, and to account for these humiliating results we cannot do better than describe the general character of these engagements in the words of our occasional correspondent, Dr. E. B. Stone:
"Small detachments have sallied out into the mountains to engage the Indians. But what is the consequence when we find them:
"A few men, wearied and worn down from fatigue in ascending and descending mountains, find the foe. The Indians choose an almost impenetrable jungle or mountain fastness, skulking under cover. The fight commences. In order to get a shot at an Indian, it is necessary to approach very near them, rendering a large white man a conspicuous target for the unerring aim of the Indian. The report of an Indian's gun is heard, the smoke ascends, and the bullet pierces, either killing or wounding. We shoot at the smoke. It is not prudent to charge a jungle, and it is thought prudent to retreat in order to take care for the wounded and the dead. We look around and find that we have sustained a loss, dead or wounded, of about one-tenth of our number, our supplies are scant, and we are from 30 to 50 miles, as the case has been, distant for reinforcements. Policy dictates our return to the fort. Litters are prepared and the wounded and dead are packed in upon the shoulders of their brothers. We arrive at the fort--the dead find a resting place, the wounded cared for, and the soldier damns the luck."
The movement now being carried out under the command of Col. Buchanan we should look upon as being sure of success if instead of four hundred he had at his disposal 2000 men. His object must obviously be to encompass the Indians in the Rogue River country, probably at Big Meadows. To surround an enemy in a country difficult of access, covered with brushwood and timber, broken by deep cañons and streams, four hundred men will form but a weak enclosure, which the Indians may break at some point or other, as soon as they find that they cannot resist the besiegers to advantage. Once outside of the besieging line, the whole country is again open to them and exposed to their tender mercies.
It has been apparent, however, that the Indians are not desirous of fighting the regulars. Their quarrel is with the Bostons (settlers) and not with the government. When they see the troops of the latter taking up in earnest the cause of the settlers, it is not at all improbable but that they will show some inclination to treat. Provided such a treaty should contemplate the removal of the hostile bands from this section of country, it would be hailed with pleasure by all classes of the community, and no matter how much it would cost the government to feed them on the reserve, it will at all events prove a great deal more economical than fighting them.
Crescent City Herald, March 19, 1856, page 2
For the Statesman.
Roseburg, March 18, 1856Editor Statesman--For want of time and opportunity I have not written to you as often as I desired, but now as a citizen I will commence unfolding a few of the many mysteries which seem.to arrest the consideration of political enemies, and I want my enemies to understand, once [and] for all, I hold myself responsible for any assertion found over my signature, and can be found, ready, able and willing to be consulted either at this place or Winchester. It will be remembered that the highest position I have held in the army has been Lt. Col. subservient to a Col. prejudiced and persuaded by a clique of uncompromising Know Nothings. However, in justice to Col. Williams, I will say, had he discharged his duties unpersuaded, the condition of affairs would have been different. I have obeyed his orders on all occasions, which his report will show, but for political aggrandizement it appears that G. Greenwood, Jr. has made a public endeavor to saddle me with all deference of military actions.
I hope the Statesman will pardon me, likewise its numerous readers, for even briefly replying to the Oregonian communicant, headed Douglas County, O.T. Feb. 14, 1856.
It may appear, and I admit it is unqualified fallacy for me to notice such epithets; still I intend to investigate some things that may not eventually prove conducive to K.N. interests.
Mr. Greenwood, allow me, sir, to brand you as a liar whose tarnished veracity is only equalled by your cowardice. "Col. Martin is the cause why the Indians were not whipped at the Meadows." Subject to counsel, Capt. Judah of the regular forces presided, and it was agreed to withdraw for want of supplies from the Meadows by Majs. Bruce and Martin, Capts. Williams, Buoy, Alcorn, Rice, Wilkinson and Keeney. Still I was the cause why the Indians were not whipped. "I learn that Col. M. has given an order that no man should proceed with their companies who was not under his command." Such is false, as a public exposition of my orders will show in future.
I, too, was the cause of the Indians not being whipped at the Big Bend of Cow Creek. I was not there myself, but the command of Capts. Chapman, Bailey and Gordon and Lieut. Noland were, and by counsel the affair terminated as it did.
"Why it can be proven that he said this was the first time he ever got a chance to bleed Uncle Sam, and he intended to make good use of it." I dare him upon halfway ground, if he is anything in the shape of a gentleman, to prove it, or to make the statement in my presence.
"Who is Col. Martin? Why he is a traitor to our country and is a man that would build up a few on the ruins of many." My former life, as my present, has been a public one, to some extent. Let my neighbors and my constituents answer.
"Two-thirds of the people in the south and nearly the whole army are against him, and have sent petitions to the Governor for his removal." If two-thirds of them are Know Nothings of the Drewed order, I don't doubt it, nor would I desire it otherwise.
"It is probable that they will be routed in a short time, as we have a new company in the field commanded by Edward Sheffield, and also several independent companies, ready to start in a few days to give battle to the Indians." There never have been any independent companies numbering over ten fireside fighters who wanted to be supported by the government and stay at home. Capt. Sheffield has a company from Douglas. I hope he may, as a military man, gain for himself laurels
that he will never find in K.N. associations.
W. J. MARTIN.Oregon Statesman, Salem, April 8, 1856, page 1
THE REGULAR FORCES NOW IN THE FIELD IN SOUTHERN OREGON--Opening of the Campaign.
The battalion of U.S. troops, composed of Company "B," 3rd Artillery, and Company "F," 4th Infantry, left this place on the 15th inst. for Rogue River Valley.
Company "B," 3rd Artillery, seventy strong, arrived here by the Columbia, and is commanded by Capt. Ord of the same regiment.
Company "F," 4th Infantry, seventy-six strong, has been stationed here for some time and is commanded by Capt. DeLancey Floyd-Jones, of the same regiment.
A detachment of twenty men, to be strengthened by nine more from Fort Humboldt, is left here, under the command of Lieut. Allston, 1st Dragoons.
Col. Buchanan, 4th Infantry, who arrived on the Columbia, is assigned to the command of a district, and is in immediate command of this battalion. Lieut. Ihrie, 3rd Artillery, who also arrived on the Columbia, is acting as Assistant Adjutant General of the District and Assistant Quartermaster and Commissary to the battalion.
What the plan of Col. Buchanan is we do not know, but judging from the fact of express riders being sent to forts Lane and Orford, immediately on his arrival, we think he contemplates effecting a junction, the same day, of the forces from each of these posts which will give him a command of about four hundred regulars, with three mountain howitzers, as each force is provided with one of these miniature cannon.
If the enemy will only stand, we expect to hear of "hot work," and we sincerely hope a salutary lesson will be taught them, which may be "the beginning of the end" of this ignoble war.
Crescent City Herald, March 19, 1856, page 2
Copy of Lieut. Abbott's Official Report of 19th March
Camp at Pistol Creek O.T.Capt. Relf Bledsoe
March 20th [sic] 1856
The detachment of volunteers under my command left Fort Johnson, Chetco Valley, O.T. March 13th en route to Gold Beach but were compelled to delay three days at our camp six miles north of Chetco River to enable the regular force under command of Brevt. Lieutenant Col. Buchanan to get in supporting distance of us. On the evening of the 16th they crossed Chetco and encamped about five miles in rear of us. Early the following morning we started to Pistol River, distant 16 miles. We unpacked about noon to allow the men and animals time to rest and refresh themselves--packed up again at dark, resumed our march and reached Pistol River about 2 o'clock, unpacked and prepared to attack the village at daylight. Accordingly at daylight we moved upon the village in two bodies but found it abandoned. We fired the huts and while they were burning we discovered two horses feeding on a hill about ½ mile distant and saw the Indians going toward them as if to herd them. I took 13 men with me to drive back the Indians and get the animals. When within three hundred yards of the animals we discovered about fifty Indians on the ridge near them and as many were crossing down the hillside toward us. Considering our force too light to attack the enemy in his position, we retired to the beach, the Indians following and firing at us without effect. We retreated toward camp in tolerable good order, returning the fire of the enemy found behind the drift logs on the beach. When we got in supporting distance of camp we in turn attacked the Indians with spirit and drove them back. I sent a messenger back to Col. Buchanan for support. In a short time the Indians had surrounded our camp but kept at [a] respectable distance. Our sharpshooters made them careful. We selected a position naturally strong and raised a defense of logs and sand about fifty feet square and four feet high--got in our provisions and water for three days and determined to hold it until the arrival of the regular force.
About 4 o'clock p.m. reinforcements of Indians arrived from Rogue River mounted and on foot, and it was evident they meditated an attack upon our position. All our animals were picketed within thirty paces of our little fort in a low place clear from any cover for the Indians and [which] could be completely covered by our fire. At sunset the main body of the enemy began to approach from the mouth of Pistol River along the beach, rolling logs in advance for a cover. At the same time small parties approached from the south along the sand hills bordering on the beach and from the east on a grassy flat.
I sent a party of skirmishers along cover of a sand hill to oppose the enemy in the grassy flat. The fort defended the approach from the south while I with seven men took cover among the drift logs and sand hills to oppose the main body.
At dark the action commenced in earnest. The first shots fired by the enemy were from the sand hills south of the fort without effect. The main body of the enemy charged our little party of skirmishers with the greatest bravery and confidence, but from behind the cover we thinned their ranks fast. At close work Colt's revolvers done the work.
The enemy faltered and became more careful. One of our men, Kirby Miller, being mortally wounded and Mr. Sloan, an independent volunteer, slightly, we returned with them to the fort and called in all of the skirmishers and prepared to defend ourselves and animals.
The Indians turned their attention to the capture of the animals. We poured in a sharp fire upon them, mostly with double-barreled shotguns, which were more effective in the night. Although the Indians lost several of their braves they succeeded in capturing 10 horses, 20 mules and equipments.
The fight continued with intermissions throughout the night and until 2 o'clock the 19th, when the regular force arrived and the Indians drew off, taking our animals with them. Col. Buchanan made no effort to draw the Indians into a fight, saying he did not wish to fight them at Pistol Creek.
Mr. T. J. Sharp, independent volunteer, was wounded in the feet on the 19th. Kirby Miller died about an hour after being carried to the fort, making our loss 1 killed, 2 wounded. Indian loss 12 killed, wounded unknown. Our strength was 34 all told, while the Indians must have numbered over 200.
I would say that the men under my command were as brave as ever met an enemy.
With great respectOregon State Archives, Yakima and Rogue River War, Document File B, Reel 2, Document 570. There was a full moon March 21, 1856.
G. H. Abbott
Headquarters Camp VannoyE. M. Barnum
March 18th A.D. 1856
Adjutant General O.T.
I have recently learned that no reports of the campaigns of the southern division of the 2nd Reg. O.M.V. have been made at your office by Col. R. L. Williams. I therefore now proceed to give you a detailed report of the force which was under my immediate command.
Immediately after the election in December I marched up Rogue River with Capt. Rice's company and camped near Table Rock and sent Capt. Alcorn to camp up Little Butte Creek.
I had ordered Capt. Rice and Capt. Alcorn to send out scouts to look for Indian sign. On the 23 day of December 1855 signs of the enemy were found. On following up the trails an Indian encampment was discovered about 15 miles above Upper Table Rock, containing the warriors with their women & children. I then gave orders to prepare for a march. On the night of the 24th after dark I marched with Capt. Rice & 33 men, surrounded their camp and waited for daylight and then commenced the attack. With some of my men much frostbitten, the battle lasted but a short time. After the battle was over 21 Indian warriors were found dead on the ground; some made their escape wounded. The women and children were taken prisoners and delivered up to Capt. Smith at Fort Lane. On the following day Capt. Alcorn, having previously discovered an Indian camp or ranch about 20 miles up Butte Creek above his camp, on the night of 25th December he surrounded it and commenced the attack at daylight. Eight Indians were killed and some were wounded. The prisoners were turned over to Capt. Smith at Fort Lane.
On the 28th a scouting party of 3 privates from Alcorn's company found in the snow fresh trails of Indians, followed in close pursuit and overtook them, had a fight, killed three Indians, got 2 horses and 3 rifles. Since then no Indian signs have been seen in that part of the country. Dec. 26th I ordered Capt. Rice to move his company up Bear Creek to Camp Lindley, where he remained until January the first 1856. Having the day before received an express from Capt. Wright of an independent company of citizens from Sterling, informing me that a band of Indians were in possession of some deserted log cabins up Applegate Creek, I immediately ordered Capt. Rice & Alcorn to repair for a campaign in the mountains, while I proceeded to Fort Lane to ask the assistance of Capt. Smith with his howitzer. Early on the first Jany. I made a forced march up to the forks of Applegate Creek with Capt. Rice's company of 40 men. On the 2nd I marched up Applegate 20 miles and there found Capt. Wright with his camp of 50 citizens surrounding the cabins.
We then kept a continual watch day and night waiting for the regulars from Fort Lane with the howitzer. Whenever an Indian showed himself he was fired at by some of our men [a couple words illegible due to fold in paper] enemy were wounded and three killed. Three of the citizens of Capt. Wright's camp were wounded and one man in Capt. Rice's camp was killed. The weather being very cold, and snow from 6 to 12 inches deep, much suffering was experienced by us all. On the 4th day at 3 p.m. Lieutenant Underwood with 40 regulars & the howitzer arrived. I immediately consulted with the Lieut. as to the propriety of an immediate assault. He thought he could finish the job before sundown. The first shell fell into one of the cabins, wounding one Indian & two children; 8 of the warriors then retreated to a rather fortified cabin a few yards distant. Six or seven shells were thrown without doing any damage. It being near dark we drew off, intending to renew the assault in the morning at a closer distance. Our men were under arms all night. The regulars were stationed up the creek in a line across back to the hill a distance of 50 yards. Capt. Rice's men were stationed along the creek opposite the fortification. Capt. Wright's comp. were stationed below from the creek round to the hillside. Our men thus posted, we thought we had them secure till morning. About 11 o'clock in the night the Indians crept up to the line of the regulars, fired their guns and then commenced yelling & a portion of them broke through the lines [a couple words illegible due to fold in paper] had opened a fire on them and turned a portion of them down towards the creek it being very thick and brushy, they succeeded in breaking through the line of sentinels, crossing the creek and making their escape, although many of them were wounded, by the blood seen in the snow next morning in their trails. Immediately after the Indians made their escape the regulars left their posts and returned to their camp, a distance of 600 yards, but the Lieut. ordered them back to their posts again, but while the soldiers were absent the women with their children & baggage passed out leading a horse with them, as was seen by their tracks in the morning.
After daylight I called the men from their posts and examined the cabins, found there an Indian boy wounded, the dead having been burned. We were surprised to see with what skill [the] wily foe had fortified those cabins. They had a passage dug underground by which they could gain ingress & egress, also deep pits in each corner of the cabins and loopholes under the bottom logs, so that they could stand in the pits and shoot out without being exposed. After examining the cabins I proposed to Lieut. Underwood to take the enemy's trail and follow it up, but he declined on the ground that his men were not accustomed to traveling in the mountains, and Capt. Wright's men were not prepared to go forth & returned back to Sterling. The force under my command, 32 men, much fatigued with three days & nights watching in the snow & cold, I deemed it most prudent to return down Applegate to Camp Spencer, where we could get grass for our horses and recruit the men a little.
I remained at Camp Spencer until the 18th of Jany. I was then joined by Capt. O'Neil & Alcorn with a part of their companies, then my available force able to march was 73 men rank & file. I ordered Capt. Alcorn to go up Applegate with 38 men, take the trail of the Indians and follow it up, while I marched with Capt. O'Neil & his company of 37 men up Williams Creek to try to find the enemy. On the 21st a detachment of Capt. O'Neil's men fell in with the Indians' trail. The same evening Capt. Alcorn came up following the same trail. We all camped on Williams Creek together the same night, and sent out a scouting party which returned in the morning without making any new discoveries. On the 22nd a detachment of Capt. O'Neil's men under Lieut. Armstrong discovered fresh Indian signs going over the low hills and down Applegate. On the morning of the 23rd I marched with 21 men rank & file and gave orders for the rest to follow. I followed the trail until 3 p.m., when we met 2 Indian spies and run them up about 12 miles to their camp in [a] canyon. By this time the sun was very low. I sent one man back with an express to Capt. O'Neil to hasten froward. We then dismounted and tied our horses, leaving two men to guard them. I sent Capt. Alcorn to take a position on the left of the canyon with 11 men, while I accompanied the right side with 9 men. We were fired upon by the Indians, 60 or 70 strong, hid in the brush in all directions, and the firing soon became general on both sides. Soon after Daniel Richardson was badly wounded and Wiley Cash was killed, reducing our numbers to 18 men. Soon after 8 men were cut off from us. I then collected our remaining 10 men and with Capt. Alcorn's charged on the enemy in the canyon, drove them out and got a favorable position there. By this time the Indians had completely surrounded our little band and cut us off from our horses. It being nearly dark I retreated back to where we left our horses, fighting our way through the enemy and carrying our wounded man along with us. I am sorry to have to state that the men were compelled to leave the body of Wiley Cash after bringing it part of the way from where he died. We succeeded in getting part of our horses; 12 or 14 had been driven off and captured by the enemy. Here I met Capt. O'Neil, who informed me that he had sent Lieut. Armstrong an hour before dark with 23 men up on the right to engage the enemy while himself with 20 men had crossed over and flanked the enemy on the left and engaged them until dark, when he retired and met me as above stated. It was now very dark & cold; our wounded man was suffering much from his wounds. I gave orders to return to camp, a distance of 9 miles, and I subsequently learned that Lieut. Armstrong had not returned to camp and I gave orders to the capts. to be prepared to start back by 2 o'clock in the morning to renew the attack at daylight. Lieut. Armstrong remained on the ground all night with his men and renewed the attack before our arrival in the morning, when the Indians broke loose and made good their retreat, having burned their dead in the night so that we could not tell how many was killed.
Lieut. Armstrong then returned to camp and did not meet us, and when we arrived on the battleground we found neither whites nor Indians and returned back to camp again; found Lieut. A. had arrived there before us.
For particulars of losses sustained in horses, arms & equipments in the different engagements I refer you to the monthly reports of the capts.
On this day January 24th Colonel R. L. Williams arrived in camp and took the command.
I will here state that much credit is due to the captains and lieutenants for their coolness and determined bravery displayed in the several engagements with the savage foe.
I am very respectfully your humble servantBy O. C. Hoxie Adjutant
Major South. Battalion
2nd Reg. O.M.V.
Oregon State Archives, Yakima and Rogue River War, Document File B, Reel 2, Document 584.
Jacksonville, March 22, 1856.
Dear Adams--There is nothing doing here worthy of note in the way of fighting, and it seems of God's mercy only that the Indians have not devastated the country. They are playing the mischief with the inhabitants on the coast. Barkwell, who was made Surgeon General by your Walla Walla legislature, has been here for several days. The poor fellow looks as chop-fallen as though he had had nothing to drink for two or three days. He started down to Walla Walla Valley this evening. We have pretty strong evidence here that Barkwell will be removed, and McSteeny appointed in his place. When the news came here that the Legislature had appointed Barkwell the surgeons all resigned, except that tool Stone, alias "Edgar."
Barkwell couldn't get surgeons to serve under him. He denied with tears in his eyes that he had even pledged himself at Salem to remove Dr. Greer, but expressed great anxiety to have him act as assistant surgeon. This Dr. Greer positively refused to do, but agreed to act as physician and surgeon to the hospital at this place, after Barkwell had signed a personal written agreement promising Dr. Greer a stipulated sum per month for his services. Matters are beautifully managed by the clique, and the "muss" threatens to last as long as the war does, at least.
The Oregon Argus, Oregon City, April 5, 1856, page 2
Headquarters, Mouth of Rogue RiverSir,
Dist. Southn. Oregon & Northn. Cal.
March 22nd 1856
I have the honor to report my arrival at this point on the evening of the 20th inst. without having encountered any obstacle and with no other casualty than the loss of a mule packed with part of the howitzer ammunition, and those other animals broken down on the route. On the afternoon of our arrival many Indians appeared in the vicinity of the camp--in a mining ditch--from whence they fired upon two individuals strolling a short distance away, which led to a slight skirmish without loss on either side, as far as I am aware. I regret to report that in the course of that night, the corporal of the guard, Corporal Hubert of "F" Comp. 4th Inf., while visiting his sentinels, was mortally wounded by one of a picket, a recruit, who mistook him for an Indian.
Yesterday I caused the ferry boat formerly belonging to the mouth of the river, which had been nearly destroyed, to be repaired, and crossed my command to the north side of the river on which I am at present encamped.
I shall make a combined movement on Tuesday with the force from forts Orford and Lane, now believed to be in position at the mouth of the Illinois and Big Bend of this river, against the main body of the enemy distant from this point about 8 miles, where I think they are prepared to make a stand, and hope to be able to report, in a few days, the successful result of my expedition.
I am sirTo:
Your obt. servt.
Robt. C. Buchanan
Bvt. Lt. Col. Major 4th Inf.
1st Lt. J. C. Bonnycastle
Aide de Camp
NARA M689, Letters Received by the Office of the Adjutant General 1881-1889, Roll 567, Papers Relating to the Death of Mary Wagoner.
Port Orford Correspondence of the Statesman.
Port Orford, March 23, 1856.Editor Statesman--The steamer is now due from San Francisco, and we avail ourselves of this opportunity of communicating such intelligence as we have received from the seat of war, and such other matter which may be of interest to the readers of the Statesman.
On the 13th inst., a detachment of U.S. soldiers, 150 strong, under command of Col. Buchanan, together with some forty volunteers under command of Capt. George Abbott, left Crescent City for the scene of hostilities on Rogue River, and on the same day another detachment of U.S. soldiers, numbering something over one hundred, under command of Capt. Augur, left this place to meet Col. Buchanan at a designated point on Rogue River, for the purpose of commencing active operations against the Indians.
In addition to this force we have heard from reliable sources that orders have been forwarded to Capt. Smith, commanding at Fort Lane, to march immediately with two companies of U.S. soldiers to cooperate with those from this place and Crescent City.
On the evening of the 21st inst., Mr. Chas. Foster arrived here with advices from Capt. Augur. As yet no regular engagements had taken place, but on their arrival at the designated point on Rogue River (which was at the mouth of Illinois River), they discovered some ten or twelve Indians, and strange to say on being fired upon they stood their ground and promptly returned the fire of the troops. Five Indians were killed, and no loss occurred to the whites, either in killed or wounded.
On account of the roughness of the country south of Rogue River, Col. Buchanan was unable to meet Capt. Augur at the point designated, consequently he was compelled to march direct to the mouth of Rogue River, and Capt. Augur on his arrival at the point agreed upon, finding that the Colonel had not arrived, and after waiting some little time, took up the line of march for the mouth of Rogue River, some twenty or twenty-five miles distant from the Illinois River. After leaving camp, and yet in full view, a company of some five or six Indians came into camp and threw powder into the fire, discharged their rifles and made several other demonstrations of victory, and not being satisfied with this proceeding, followed the command one day, and on the following morning after the soldiers had left camp repeated the same proceeding as at the previous camp. This occurred on the 21st inst., since which we have received no intelligence.
As soon as the intelligence of the massacre of the 22nd ult. at Rogue River reached the commanding officer at this post, an effort was at once made to collect all the friendly Indians north of this place, reaching as far as the Coquille River, which effort proved unusually successful, and they remained quiet and peaceable until last evening, when the Coquille Indians left for parts unknown.
On inquiry of those remaining in camp, we are informed that a white man came to their lodge during the early part of the night and informed them that the whites were coming to kill them early in the morning, and a regular stampede was as a matter of course the result. What action may be taken by the commanding officer I am unable to say, but we suppose that something will be done to ascertain whether any white men have been the means of the Indians leaving, and if so, proceedings will be commenced against any person so vile and treacherous as to commit so base a wrong.
Yours &c., J. C. F.Oregon Statesman, Salem, April 29, 1856, page 1
During the two engagements the following losses occurred
On the engagement of March 23rd.
Charles Abrahams--Lost 1 mule killed in action; equipments
Orville Olney--1 horse killed in action, equipments 1 rifle, 1 revolver
John Davis--killed in action, lost 1 rifle
Alexander Caldwell--killed in action, horse severely wounded
Samuel Mooney--horse severely wounded
James Dugdale--1 horse lost in action; equipments 1 revolver
Samuel Cowell--1 horse killed in action
Capt. Hugh O'Neil--1 mule killed in action
March 25th, 1856
Henry W. Stanton--1 horse killed in action, lost equipments 1 rifle
Ray Geddes--1 horse killed in action
Eli McCoin--1 mule killed in action
John Driscoll--horse killed in action
William Clements--rifle injured
The men lost considerable in blankets &c.
Henry W. StantonHenry W. Stanton, Cayuse, Yakima and Rogue River Wars Papers, University of Oregon
Orderly Sergeant, Company E
For Capt. Hugh O'Neil
War News of the Week--Southern Battalion.
On Sunday the 23rd inst., the Indians attacked five or six men of Capt. O'Neil's company, killing two and wounding two more. The two wounded men, with the other men, succeeded in reaching Hay's, where in a short time one of the wounded men died. The Indians immediately commenced an attack on Hay's house, and great fears were entertained that they would succeed in taking the place, as there were but a few men there. An express was started to Maj. Bruce, at Vannoy's. Dashing through the Indians' fire, the express reached the Major on Sunday night. Immediately Capt. Miller and his company were in their saddles en route for the scene of action. The Indians continuing their attack during the night, just before morning it was thought advisable to send another express, as it was probable the first had been killed. The last express met Capt. Miller within about three miles of Hay's, but when the Captain reached there the Indians had left. No doubt they were warned of his near approach by their vigilant spies. The last express sent out continued on to Maj. Bruce, who early on Monday morning, with Capts. George and Williams and their companies, and a part of Capts. Wilkinson's, Alcorn's and O'Neil's companies, started for the scene of action.
On Tuesday, between Reeves' and Hay's, about two miles from Hay's, the Indians attacked D. Evans' pack train, killing one Spaniard and wounding Evans slightly in two places, and capturing twenty-eight mules with their cargo, in which was 25 lbs. of powder. Mr. Evans' riding mule was shot through the neck, yet he made his escape and reached Hay's, where Maj. Bruce's command was. A charge was immediately ordered, Capt. George taking the road and Maj. Bruce with the remainder taking to the left for the purpose of attacking the Indians, as was supposed, in the rear.
The number of Indians was not known, but supposed to be from two to three hundred, who occupied the rocks and brush on each side of the road on the hillside for some distance, their line crossing the road near the summit of the divide between Illinois and Deer Creek. Their position was circular, or near the shape of a horseshoe. Capt. George's company advanced, keeping the road until near the summit, when a deadly fire was poured in from the hillsides, killing two of Capt. George's and one of Capt. Williams' company. The position of the enemy was so protected that it was out of the question to get our rifles to bear upon them. The horses, which were left a short distance in the rear without a horse guard, were surrounded by the Indians and forty of them captured, together with saddles, bridles &c. It was not known how many Indians were killed. Six are reported to have been killed at Hay's.
Table Rock Sentinel, Jacksonville, March 29, 1856, page 2
Headquarters, Mouth Rogue River, O.T.Sir,
Dist. Southn. Oregon & Northn. Cal.
March 25th 1856.
Shortly after closing my last dispatch, my express returned from Capt. Augur's camp which had been removed from the mouth of the Illinois about 15 miles down the river, in consequence of his not having heard from me before, and his apprehending that I might have met with some obstacles on my way here from Crescent City. He joined me at this point on Sunday night, and I have therefore been compelled to modify my plan in order to meet a new state of affairs. I have heard nothing from Capt. Smith since he was to leave Fort Lane, and cannot obtain the service of anyone to carry an express to him. I shall move from this to a point 6 miles above tomorrow morning, and then having beaten up the quarters of the Indians supposed to be at the Tututni village, I shall be compelled to send my train to Fort Orford for supplies. Fort Orford will be considered as the depot for my supplies for some time to come, and I therefore require the proper instructions be at once given to the chiefs of the staff corps in the Department. I request that at least 50 mules be purchased and sent to this point, as the scarcity of transportation in this part of the Territory is such as to render it impossible to procure pack trains when wanted.
I am sirTo:
Your obt. servt.
Robt. C. Buchanan
Bvt. Lt. Col. Major 4th Inf.
1st Lt. J. C. Bonnycastle
Aide de Camp
NARA M689, Letters Received by the Office of the Adjutant General 1881-1889, Roll 567, Papers Relating to the Death of Mary Wagoner.
Northern Battalion--A Battle with Indians.
Information reached here two or three days ago that Maj. Latshaw was in pursuit of the Indians, near the big bend of Cow Creek; had sent after more men and supplies; that Col. Kelsey had gone out with the Benton Co. company to his assistance; that they had come up with the Indians and had two or three days' skirmishing; lost one man killed and one wounded, and killed six Indians. Report says that 1st Lieut. Coombs, of the Benton Co. company, was by some means a little in the rear of his company when an attack was made, and jumped off his mule to get a shot at an Indian, when lo! and behold! what should he see in a few minutes, but an Indian snugly mounted on his mule, riding up the hill. The Lieut. became quite enraged at the sight, assumed the command and ordered a charge, leading the forlorn hope himself, retook his mule and three or four Indian horses, killing three Indians without losing a man.
It would be a good thing if the same success should attend the recapturing of all the animals the red devils have taken.
We understand that they have sent to Gen. Lamerick for supplies, stating that "if they can get them they will follow the Indians to h---." The General had sent out supplies and directed them to continue until the Indians are disposed of in some way.
Table Rock Sentinel, Jacksonville, March 29, 1856, page 2
LATE FROM THE INTERIOR.While the forces commanded by Col. Buchanan, U.S.A., which marched by the middle of the present month, and amount to about 400 regular troops, comprising [the] detachment from this place, Port Orford and Fort Lane, must before this have effected the contemplated junction somewhere in the neighborhood of Big Meadows on Rogue River, the place where it was said the Indians boldly awaited and invited an attack on the part of the whites, and while in hourly expectation of news from that quarter, the report of a sudden invasion of Illinois Valley by bands of hostile Indians unexpectedly awakens again, with the deepest sympathies towards the sufferers, the gloomiest forebodings for the future.
Indian Hostilities in Illinois and Deer Creek Valley--
Four White Men Killed and 120 Animals Taken by the Indians.
Mr. Cobert, who arrived here on Thursday, left Althouse on Tuesday (25th) and as near as he could ascertain, the following were the reports then current there: That on Sunday (23rd inst.) Mr. Wright, a partner of Vannoy, in company with six or seven men, left Hay's place at the head of Deer Creek Valley for Vannoy's ranch, and after traveling some six miles they found themselves suddenly surrounded by Indians. Mr. Wright was killed, but his companions escaped and returned to Hay's, where it appears some 75 volunteers were encamped.
A second party then went out to ascertain more of the whereabouts of the enemy, when they were also attacked not far from the house, Alex. Caldwell being killed.
Towards evening, four pack trains, consisting of some 80 mules, were encamped in the vicinity, and are reported to have been captured. One of the packers had his animal shot from under him, and one man, John Davis, was killed. Information of these occurrences was the same night sent to the neighboring localities, Althouse, Sucker Creek, Cañon Creek, etc., and the number of Indians reported to be considerable, perhaps not short of 200.
Later in the evening on Thursday, Mr. Dodson arrived here from Sailor Diggings bringing with him a copy of the following note by Mr. Sprague:
Briggs', March 26th, 1856.To Mr. Geo. Sam Rice:--I am requested by Maj. Bruce and Mr. Briggs to warn the people of Sailor Diggings that they are in imminent danger of being attacked by a band of from two to three hundred Indians within the next 24 hours.
You must get together within this day and do the best you can to prepare for a vigorous defense.
Tell the merchants to secure their ammunition.
Yours in haste,P.S.--If you are attacked let us know immediately, and all assistance possible will be rendered.
C. P. Sprague
C.P.S.Thus it would appear that the Indians had it all their own way in Illinois Valley from Sunday to Wednesday, by which time it was thought not improbable that they were already in possession of the settlement on Cañon Creek, some 14 miles this side of Hay's.
There are but few volunteers now in the service, at any rate not a sufficient force to rout 300 Indians. To hold and defend certain posts or fortified places, bring the families under shelter, and endeavor to relieve such localities as may be attacked by the Indians will be the most they can accomplish.
The Indians are evidently well posted as to the movements of the regular troops, and while Capt. Smith, with about 150 soldiers from Fort Lane, marched down Illinois River to effect a junction with Col. Buchanan near the Big Meadows, the wily Indians passed him in an opposite direction and made a descent upon the settlements and mining districts just beyond the Coast Range, about 60 or 70 miles from Crescent City, but along the line of communication between it and Rogue River Valley.
Unhappily there exists neither concert of action nor any degree of confidence between the regular and volunteer forces, and of this the Indians have a keen perception, avoiding sedulously any collision with the U.S. troops, but revenging themselves upon the "Bostons" (settlers).
LATER.By later advices from the interior, the news in its main features is confirmed. Maj. W. W. Fowler left Jacksonville on the 25th inst. and arrived on Saturday last, having in company of a party of thirty-five men traveled directly through the vicinity which was the scene of the depredations, and where the alarm still continues.
In the attack on Sunday, near Hay's, three white men were killed and a number of animals taken, which the evening being far advanced, had already been unloaded by the packers and turned out. The number of Indians, as near as could be ascertained by the assailed parties in Hay's house, was at least 150. It is supposed that six Indians were killed.
On Tuesday, Mr. Evans, although advised of the danger, undertook to drive an empty train through from Cañon Creek. The Indians captured all his animals, killed his Mexican arriero, while he himself barely escaped with his life. Fortunately, no packs or merchandise had fallen into the hands of the Indians, with the exception of a keg of molasses, a few coils of rope, and twenty-two pounds of powder, which they took from Mr. Evans.
The present is a gloomy period in Southern Oregon. While admitting that the regular forces are actively engaged in pursuing the Indians, it is no less evident that the latter successfully endeavor to elude their grasp, pouncing meanwhile here and there upon the packers, the traders, the farmers and breaking up every kind of business. Under the sudden threat of an attack by the savage foe, the community look for immediate assistance and relief to the volunteer companies, who in return are ignored by the commander of the regular forces.
The Indians on the California side of the boundary line have hitherto continued at peace with the whites. But if this war near the frontiers is suffered to continue, complications may arise which will involve them also in the struggle.
Crescent City Herald, April 2, 1856, page 2
Correspondence of the Sentinel.
Jacksonville, March 27, 1856.
Messrs. Editors:--As our town is at this time totally unprotected, I came to the conclusion that a few ideas expressed through the medium of your valuable paper (the Sentinel) would be both in time and place.
From the reports which we have received today it appears that the great American people are getting whipped, and badly too. Our volunteer forces are becoming weaker every day, and the Indians are getting stronger, and does it not stand to reason that after the Indians have totally defeated the volunteers (of which there is a likelihood at the present crisis) that they will commence upon the towns and villages, and no doubt Jacksonville will be the first to fall under the brand and scalping knife. In conversation with Capt. Abel George this morning, he said it was his opinion that there were three chances to one against Jacksonville being the next place of attack.
And what seems most strange, Mr. Editors, is that the inhabitants of our town seem to go to bed and rise in the morning as if there was nothing going on, as if there was no war, and go about their daily occupations with that nonchalance which seems to say "we are not afraid, the Indians do not know that we are perfectly unguarded, that we are at their mercy."
Why, Mr. Editors, if fifty Indians were to attack the place, they could destroy the whole town and butcher every person in it, excepting those who are in good running condition.
It is necessary then that we should build a fort, and to accomplish this the citizens must unite together, with both heart and hand immediately, for in a few weeks if things continue as they are at present we may all be murdered, and Jacksonville be among the things that were. Some persons have an idea that our brick stores would offer ample protection; but such is not the case, for if the Indians were to set the town on fire (which no doubt would be the first act they would do), the persons who would have taken refuge in the brick stores would either be smothered or be crushed to death by the falling in of the walls, from the effects of the intense heat occasioned by the burning of other houses. I would not advise any person in case of an attack to go into any of the brick stores; as for myself I should prefer a log house.
We see that they have erected a fort at Sterling and one below on the flat, and also at several places in the valley, to which in case of an attack they can go for protection. Where would the people of Jacksonville go, were the Indians to attack the town? I am afraid that those not having families would never light up running, until they made Fort Lane, where, no doubt, they would receive the kind attention of the U.S. Medical Officer, but those having families would no doubt be mercilessly murdered; whereas, if we had a fort of our own, we would not have so far to run, and the weak as well as the strong would have a chance to save their lives.
The only way to effect the building of a fort is for the older citizens to call a meeting, to adopt such plans as they see fit, then to call upon the Young Americans to give them a hand, and I'll warrant that we will have a fort built in three days, large enough to contain all the inhabitants of Jacksonville and persons living in the vicinity.
This is a subject of grave importance and I hope that our city fathers will look to it.
HUNGRY HILL.Table Rock Sentinel, Jacksonville, March 29, 1856, page 2
From the South.
Roseburg, March 26, 1856.
Gen. M. M. McCarver--Sir: Messengers from the south have just arrived, bringing intelligence of the most stirring and exciting character; several battles have been fought within the last few days, and a number of our soldiers killed and wounded. The first dispatches brought intelligence of a battle fought on Cow Creek, south of the Canyon, on the 24th inst., by Sheffield's and Latshaw's companies, with a band of the Rogue River Indians commanded by Old George and Limpy; the volunteers lost one man killed and two wounded; the loss of the Indians, as well as could be ascertained, was three killed, the number of wounded not known. On the same day in Camas Valley, about 20 miles west of this place, the Indians made an attack upon the settlers of that prairie and drove away quite a number of cattle and horses. They were pursued by a detachment of Capt. Buoy's company, and made a running fight for several hours. The volunteers gained a complete victory; killed one Indian and wounded several others, and had the good fortune not to receive a wound or a scratch in the whole engagement. The Indians, however, very early in the morning saluted the inmates of the fort by firing upon them before they had recovered from their morning's slumber, and then retreated to the lower end of the valley, fired the vacated houses and the barns, collected what stock they wanted, and rushed for the mountains south. We have also intelligence of battles being recently fought further south. In the Illinois Valley on Rogue River a pack train consisting of forty mules, as I understand, was surrounded and taken by the Indians belonging to Old John's band; three or four white men were killed and one wounded in that engagement; no statements in relation to the killed and wounded among the Indians. It is further stated that Maj. Bruce and his command are now in that section actually engaged in a warm and vigorous contest with Old John and his entire band.
A few hours ago I received a letter from Scottsburg, written by Samuel S. Mann, quartermaster and acting commissary for the coast district. He states that it is utterly impossible to make any purchases in that place, under present circumstances, and has consequently made a requisition upon this department for supplies for Coos Bay. I am not able to satisfy his demand, as there are none here. Mr. Abrahams has just arrived from Scottsburg and brings the information that the citizens of Coos Bay are in the utmost state of distress for the want of provisions. A few men came up to Scottsburg by the way of the beach for provisions, but could not procure more than 100 pounds of flour for the number of 110 persons who are forted up at that place. Immediate relief for them I am afraid cannot be had in time, from accounts.
Tomorrow I will start a pack train for Corvallis, with instruction to go and return with the utmost dispatch. I hope you will have groceries and other supplies ready by the time they arrive, and that they may be able to return without delay.
I am, sir, your most ob't. serv't., &c.,
P. O. REILLEY,
Ass't. Com. Gen.
The Oregon Argus, Oregon City, April 5, 1856, page 2, also in the Oregon Weekly Times, Portland, April 5, 1856, page 2 A slightly different version was printed in the Oregon Weekly Times of April 5, preserved on NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 609 Oregon Superintendency 1856, frame 662.
Headquarters, Mouth Rogue RiverSir,
Dist. Southn. Or. & Northn. Cal.
March 27th 1856
I have the honor to continue the report of my operations to the present dates. After my last dispatch was written, the captain of the volunteers, who had been so long cooped up in their fort near this point, requested permission to go out into the neighborhood with his men and bury the bodies of those who had been murdered after the massacre of Capt. Poland, Ben Wright and others. I authorized him to do so, and on his return that night I learned that his party had been as far as the Tututni village, and finding it deserted and the houses empty, had set fire to and burnt it. From the fact that it was empty I inferred that the Indians were moving further up, either to the Illinois or to Indigo Creek, which empties into that stream a few miles above its mouth, and therefore determined to send a detachment under Capt. Ord on the north side of this river to destroy the Mikonotunne village, and another under Capt. Augur on the south side to a point opposite that village to support Capt. O., in case it should happen to be necessary. Each command took with it 2 days' rations in its haversacks. From the enclosed report of Capt. Ord, it will be seen that the duty to which he was assigned was handsomely performed, though not without resistance on the part of the enemy, resulting in a skirmish in which we had 1 sergeant and 1 private of Comp. B. 3rd Arty. wounded, and the enemy lost 8 men killed, and perhaps as many were wounded. The village, consisting of 13 houses, hastily evacuated and filled with quantities of provisions such as acorns, dried fish and the usual furniture of Indian houses, was totally destroyed. Capt. Augur marched with his command, but owing to inaccurate information furnished me in relation to the distance he was ordered to go from this camp, did not reach there in time to participate in the engagement. Not anticipating that a force of the size that met Capt. Ord would be found there, I ordered both commands to return to camp as soon as possible after the burning of the village, and accordingly both got back this morning, very much fatigued and requiring rest. As I shall be compelled to send my train to Fort Orford tomorrow, in order to obtain supplies for a further movement, I shall not move my force from this camp until after its return, by which time I hope to hear from Capt. Smith's command.
I cannot close this communication without expressing my satisfaction in the manner in which Capt. Ord performed the duty assigned him, and my approbation of the conduct of the officers and men of his command. The officers under him were Capt. D. Floyd-Jones, 4th Inf., 2nd Lieut. J. Drysdale, 3rd Arty. & Actg. Asst. Surgeon C. A. Hillman--all of whom were active and energetic on the occasion.
I am, sir,To
Your obt. servt.
Robt. C. Buchanan
Bvt. Lt. Col. Major 4th Inf.
Capt. D. R. Jones
Asst. Adjt. Genl.
Dept. of the Pac.
NARA M689, Letters Received by the Office of the Adjutant General 1881-1889, Roll 567, Papers Relating to the Death of Mary Wagoner.
Camp at the mouth of Rogue River, March 27th 1856To Col. R. C. Buchanan, commd. Dist of Southern Oregon & North. Cal.
Sir: In obedience to your orders I started from here yesterday at 8 a.m. to destroy the Mikonotunne village, about 11 miles from here. My command consisted of my company--1 2nd Lieut. temporarily assigned (2nd Lieut. Drysdale) and Capt. DeL. Floyd-Jones Co. 4th Infantry--without subalterns--in all one hundred and thirteen men. Acting Asst. Surgeon C. A. Hillman and a guide Mr. Walker accompanied the party. Mr. Walker took us over a very rough country and by circuitous Indian trails or bridle paths to the village which we reached after a hard march (especially on the recruits) at about 2½ o'clock p.m. the houses, thirteen in number, were composed of substantial walls and roofing, mainly thatch, over the large and deep excavations peculiar to the people of the Rogues. They were built in a row on a pretty little river bottom and appeared as if just evacuated. Some of them contained fires still burning, and the usual Indian stores and furniture. The river bottom was about two hundred yards long by one hundred broad and was bordered on the west by a willow coppice, on the north, or back from the river, by the steep slopes of the mountains, thickly timbered, and at the eastern or upper end (at which end the trail entered) some bare slopes, coming down for a hundred yards or so from a rocky and wooded ridge. On entering this secluded and well-sheltered bottom I found eight or ten Indian horses loose and noticed some of the owners on a steep mountain about a quarter of a mile above the village and on the opposite side of the river, and I thought from appearances that the inhabitants upon whom we had intruded would not look quietly on while their town was burning. I therefore before I marched onto the meadow occupied with part of the command the willow coppice at the lower end and the timber ridge or slope in its rear, depositing the officers' riding mules, the men's blankets and haversacks on a bare slope. Capt. Jones' co. I sent into the willows, and Lieut. Drysdale with most of Comp. "B" 3rd Arty. into the timbered ridge in the rear of [the] village, leaving a guard of twelve men with the blankets and mules and 2 men on the wooded knoll. The advanced guard were directed to lie down in rear of the houses, all these detachments in open order and under the best cover that offered. The river is at the village about eighty yards across, and the advanced guard were posted to return any fire from the opposite banks, which are high and steep. I directed two of the advance guard to fire the houses while I watched the motions of the Indians on the opposite mountain up the river. I soon saw their game was to cross above the village and come down upon me while my men might be busy burning houses or racing horses [sic], but I kept my men with their companies, and seeing that if the Indians got possession of the timbered ridges and spurs to the east and north I should be hemmed in and surrounded. I ordered Capt. Jones in double quick over the steep bare slope into the woods which crowned them. He had some two hundred and fifty yards to run, and the Indians got possession of these first. Lieut. Drysdale I ordered by a flank movement to keep in the timber and run to the rear and above where the blankets and provisions were left. He got up to the flat just as the Indians charged down on the guard there, and drove it [sic] back toward the village, but the Indians fell back before Lieut. Drysdale's force, which they did not expect to find there. I took the advance guard and led it up a bare slope into the wooded knoll at east end of village, turning the retreating guard which I met as they fell back from the blankets, and with these drove out a few of the Indians who had occupied this knoll. These latter fled across the open ground to the blankets, where they had just left their companions, but fell into the hands of Lieut. Drysdale's men and were mostly killed by the crossfire to which they had intended to subject me. The high spur east of the knoll and which had a steep bare ascent from the side of the village was still in the hands of the Indians. Capt. Jones had succeeded in urging his men into the timber which I directed him to occupy, and the Indians were falling back. I pushed the advance guard and a small party of "B" Compy. down from the knoll and rushed them up the opposite slope into the timber that crowned this spur, and as this commanded the Indians crossing where their canoes were, they fled on all sides to their canoes and crossed over to the side where they had come. In all the attacking party was about sixty strong, but their position more than doubled their strength. They left five dead men on my side of the river, and three more were killed in crossing. I fear some squaws were also unfortunately shot by the guide, who fired across the river into groups. I think the Indians wounded amount to as many as were killed. I had but one man (private "B" Co. 3rd Arty.) wounded here. After the Indians were driven back to the opposite bank I called in my men, and as they had been marching, burning houses or fighting for a long eight hours they were very much in need of water and rest. I could not camp on the village bottom; it was too exposed to attack, too difficult to defend. There was no other water nearer than two and a half miles up the mountains in rear of the village, so I started up this as fast as I could urge my weary men, but the Indians after I left recovered, followed my rear, and fired a parting volley some three-fourths of a mile from camp and severely wounded my first sergeant in charge of rear guard. The trail was so rough he could not be packed or carried in a litter, and part of the route I had to take him on my saddle in front of me. The officers and men behaved exceedingly well, and considering that a large number of my party never had had a musket in their hands before leaving Crescent City their success is quite satisfactory. The wound of 1st Sergt. Nash was excessively painful, paralyzing his legs, so to give him relief I tested the endurance of the whole party by a forced march back to camp, marching back by 9 o'clock this a.m.
Very respectfully your obdt. servt.NARA M689, Letters Received by the Office of the Adjutant General 1881-1889, Roll 567, Papers Relating to the Death of Mary Wagoner.
E. O. C. Ord, Capt. 3rd Arty.
INDIAN WARS IN THE NORTHWEST.
Gen. Wool has addressed a letter to the editors of the National Intelligencer, at Washington City, in defense of his military conduct as commanding general of the Pacific Department of the army, and giving a statement of facts in regard to the Indian wars now waged in the Territories of Oregon and Washington.
This is a very unusual proceeding in an officer of the army of the United States and, if we mistake not, in opposition to the rules of the service. We believe officers of the army are forbidden to write letters to newspapers on military subjects while on service. Whether the rule applies in this case we are unable to decide. Gen. Wool's avowed motive for writing is that he has been denounced, without cause or justification, in print and on the stump, by Gov. Stevens (of Washington Territory) and Gov. Curry and his legislature (of Oregon Territory), who have demanded his removal from the President. It does not appear that they have succeeded in this demand, probably because the General's defense, made to the President, has been deemed satisfactory. The publication which he makes is, however, a very interesting public document, as a narrative of the origin and progress of these wars, and as an indignant retaliation upon his enemies. If what he charges be true, the President is bound to consider well whether he ought not to remove governors Curry and Stevens. Gen. Wool's statement is a very severe arraignment of both for incompetency and maladministration. He is particularly direct in his charges against Gov. Curry, whom he accuses of calling out the troops unnecessarily, using them improvidently, and getting up unwise, unnecessary and extravagant expeditions, of which the only objects were "to plunder the United States Treasury, and to make political capital for somebody." The late campaign against the Walla Wallas is particularly described as useless, wanton and mischievous. The General sarcastically says that "a fight with the Indians--no matter whether friends or foes--was indispensable to excite the sympathy of the nation, and especially Congress, or the propriety of paying contributions so profusely levied on the people of Oregon might be questionable. The expedition, he contends, found no enemies of any consequence that it did not make by its own conduct willfully, and by the injustice and cruelties which it practiced towards the natives. The design was to create a long war, in order to enrich the country by the large expenditures of the federal government. All this, too, Gen. Wool alleges was done without communicating with him at all upon the military wants or military operations within the Territory. He says:
My information is derived from citizens and regular officers under my command, and not from any of the civil or military functionaries of the Territory of Oregon. I have never been informed by anyone, not even by the Governor, of the military wants of the Territory. He has never called on me for troops to defend it, or to protect the inhabitants from savage barbarity, although he has, as it would appear, purposely avoided all communication with me on the subject. I have not been unmindful of the conditions and wants of the Territory. I have not failed, as far as it was in my power, to defend and protect such parts as were exposed and assailed by the Indians, and I have no doubt but for the indiscriminate warfare carried on against them, and the massacre of several parties of friendly Indians by the troops of Gov. Curry, the war would have long since been brought to a close in Oregon. Although the Indians are retaliating with fearful vengeance on innocent citizens for the murder in October last, by Major Lupton and his party, of twenty-five friendly Indians, eighteen of whom were women and children, all going to the military reservation at Fort Lane for protection, and notwithstanding the massacres on the 23rd and 24th December last, when volunteers murdered about forty unarmed, friendly Indians belonging to the band of the chief Jake, who was among the killed, I think if the volunteers, who expect to be paid largely for their services, were withdrawn and private war prevented, I could soon end the war in Rogue River Valley, and indeed throughout Oregon and Washington, but the determination of the Oregonians to exterminate the Indians, which I am wholly opposed to, if not discountenanced by the United States government, may prolong the war almost indefinitely.His own opinion is that by abandoning the project of the Oregon people, which is to exterminate the Indians, at a cost from fifty to one hundred millions of dollars, and pursuing a judicious course, the war may be brought to a close and the Indians made to be tractable and peaceable. The great obstacle is in the disposition of the citizens, whose conduct is encouraged by persons holding high offices under the government of the United States, which the General denounces as "inhuman and barbarous," and designed for "the wholesale plundering of the Treasury of the United States." Gen. Wool says it is for his opposition to these men and their schemes that his removal from the command of the Pacific Department is demanded.
The General says there are U.S. troops enough in the department to terminate the war in all parts of the two Territories, and to prevent the recurrence of former troubles, but it can be done only in the withdrawal of the volunteer system and the preventing of private war. But, he adds:
As long as governors of Territories make war and exercise powers, as I believe, unknown to the President of the United States, and individuals raise volunteers and make war on the Indians whenever they please, and Congress will pay the expense, so long we will have war in Washington and Oregon Territories. It is said by intelligent men that the expense of Gov. Curry's army will amount in scrip from two to four millions of dollars. If Congress should foot the bill, some governor of another Territory will make a bill of ten millions of dollars. I do not know how the question will be considered. One thing, however, is certain, that it is an example which, if countenanced by the United States government, may, when least expected, lead to no less embarrassing than disastrous results.These are bold avowals and startling facts. Coming from such a source, and made in a tone of such defiant confidence, they will have a strong effect upon Congress, at least, and lead to a very thorough scrutiny of the conduct of officials in Oregon, before extravagant appropriations are voted to them for making an unnecessary war.
The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, May 10, 1856, page 4
News from Oregon.
THE INDIAN WAR IN THE SOUTH.
The following letter, says the Standard, contains the late authentic news from the south. Rumor says that in addition to the engagements alluded to in this letter, a battle has been fought by the regulars with the Indians near the mouth of Rogue River, in which twenty-five regulars were killed, and the Indians completely victorious. But this rumor needs confirmation:
Headquarters Southern Army,His Excellency George L. Curry, Governor of Oregon Territory, Salem, O.T.:
Fort Leland, March 31, 1856.
I have the honor to make the following report of the troops under my command. On the 22nd ult. I gave orders to Major Bruce to move with his command to Illinois Valley, to scour that part of the country, and, if possible, to find "Old John's" band of Indians. Bruce immediately repaired to the headquarters of the southern battalion and gave the necessary order for a march. His men moved on the 22nd inst. As they were about starting news came into camp of "John's" band being on the trail to Crescent City, and that they had that day killed three men, and that they were then attacking the house of Mr. Hay. Captain O'Neil's company hastened to the assistance of Mr. Hay, and in getting there had to run through the whole of the enemy's line, some 200 strong. As soon as Bruce came up the Indians retreated from the house and took to the mountains. Major Bruce then, with his command, commenced getting the families in that section of country in a condition to protect themselves. In the meantime the enemy were endeavoring to kill all the mules and horses they could find on their retreat. Major Bruce pursued the Indians some five miles, fighting all the way. Three of his men were killed, and some ten or twelve Indians killed. Night coming on, the men drew off, the Indians still retreating towards the meadows.
On the 22nd ult. also, I ordered a detachment consisting of 100 men of the northern battalion, under the command of Major Latshaw, to go down Cow Creek. On the 23rd they fell in with from 75 to 80 Indians, six miles below Fort Smith. The fight here commenced, the men pressing forward and the enemy retreating. Some thirty Indians were collected on a hill to the right of the battle ground at this time, and one of the spies looking through a glass discovered a white man amongst the Indians on the hill. First Lieut. Coombs, of the Benton County company, was ordered to take thirty men and charge the enemy on the hill, which he did gallantly, killing one Indian and capturing a mule, saddle, blankets and a pair of boots.
The volunteers drove the enemy right and left, scattering them in all directions. The enemy lost four killed, certain, and had many wounded. Four mules and two horses were captured. One white man killed of Sheffield's company, and one of the spy company wounded.
Great credit is due to these brave volunteers who have driven the Indians from the trail and are still in pursuit of them.
Capt. Laban Buoy's command had a fight with some seventy-five Indians six miles south of Camas Valley. The enemy came into the valley, it appears, to sweep the settlements. Upon hearing it, Capt. Buoy, with thirty-five men, started in pursuit, and came up with the enemy on the mountain leading to the meadows from the north. As soon as Capt. Buoy came up with the Indians, he immediately divided his command and charged them right and left, and completely routed and defeated them, killing three Indians, which they found on the ground, one with a navy-sized pistol still tightly grasped in his hand, though dead. The command followed the Indians about a mile, until the men were completely exhausted for want of water. They were then ordered to return to camp. This company, both officers and men, behaved in such a manner as to entitle them to the highest praise of every citizen of our country. Allow me to mention the obligations we are under to Major Bruce and the men under him, Major Latshaw and the brave boys from the north, as well as Capt. Buoy and Lieut. Moore, both of whom have been in the service all winter.
I have ordered sixty men from Capt. Buoy's company to follow the Indians and if possible to fall in with Col. Kelsey and Major Latshaw at the Big Bend of Cow Creek. Col. Kelsey bids fair to be a very active officer, and my confidence is unlimited in Lieut. Col. W. W. Chapman, all of whom are very sanguine of success.
JOHN LAMERICK, Brigadier General, O.T.
The following is copied from the Statesman: "By a letter from Dr. Richardson we are advised that the United States troops had a fight at the mouth of Rogue River with the Indians, in which from twenty-five to twenty-eight of the soldiers were killed, and that the troops were defeated. No particulars."
THE INDIAN WAR ON ROGUE RIVER.New York Weekly Herald, May 17, 1856, page 1
We have been permitted to inspect a letter received by a gentleman in this city, from an officer of the United States Army, operating against the hostile Indians in the Rogue River country. It is dated April 12, from the camp at the mouth of Rogue River, and gives some interesting information with regard to the war which has not yet been published:
Port Orford has been made the depot of supplies for the army, as it is much nearer the field of operations in the valley of Rogue River than any other point, and at the same time most accessible. The condition of affairs is said to be more serious than is generally supposed. Col. Buchanan has been assigned to the command of all the troops in Southern Oregon and Northern California, including those of Fort Humboldt. He was ordered by Gen. Wool to make a combined movement with the troops from Crescent City, Fort Lane and Fort Orford. Col. Buchanan started with two companies of regulars from Crescent City, on the 15th of March. Their route lay along the sea coast toward the mouth of Rogue River, and on the 19th the command reached Pistol River, where a small party of volunteers was found surrounded by Indians, who had killed one of their number during the previous night, and captured all their horses, thirty in number, from the place where they were picketed, within twenty yards of their position. The appearance of the regulars relieved the whites from their unpleasant predicament.
The next day the command arrived on the south bank of the mouth of Rogue River, and for want of means to cross, encamped there. In the course of the afternoon the Indians made a hostile demonstration, but a few shots drove them off, without loss on either side. The regulars burnt several of their huts, and destroyed a large quantity of provisions that were stored in them. The arrival of the troops relieved the volunteers and citizens of the neighborhood, who had been cooped up in their fort about a mile above the mouth of the river ever since the murder of Ben. Wright and others on the 22nd of February. They were, it may be imagined, delighted at their release. A few days afterward, Col. Buchanan's command was joined by Capt. Augur with his and Capt. Reynolds' companies, from Fort Orford. On the 26th March, information having been received that the Indians had a large quantity of provisions stored in a village about eight miles above the mouth of the river, Captain Ord was dispatched with two companies to destroy it. When Captain Ord reached the village, he found it recently and hastily abandoned and saw from various signs that he would not be permitted to destroy it unopposed. He went to work cautiously, therefore, and placed his men in position, whilst a small party fired the houses. He was immediately attacked by the Indians, who attempted to surround him, and after a sharp skirmish of some two hours drove them entirely across the river, killing eight, and wounding perhaps as many more. As soon as the Indians opened fire, the troops charged and drove them from point to point until they forced them across the river, over which they were ferried by their squaws in canoes. The command returned to camp the next day, with a loss of two men wounded, both severely. This is regarded by the people of Rogue River as the first regular defeat of the Indians since the beginning of the war. It is the first time the whites have charged the Indians after having been attacked by them. After the fight, parties were sent out in different directions in the neighborhood and destroyed a very large amount of the Indians' provisions, so that they will soon be pressed by hunger, and without the means of replenishing their stores. This, with a little more powder and ball, is expected to bring them to terms. Capt. Smith, with his command, arrived at Port Orford on the 5th of April, after a hard march of twenty-three days from Fort Lane. The troops were to make another excursion from the mouth of Rogue River about the middle of April. The writer states that a speedy conclusion to this war need not be expected. It will be, he says, a long and expensive war, and he will consider it fortunate if it is concluded by November, after the rainy season sets in. In conclusion, the writer avers that this Rogue River war has not received one-half the attention it deserves, and he reiterates that, from its locality, it is likely to be long, difficult and expensive, notwithstanding an energetic use of all the means at the disposal of the officer commanding.
Headquarters, Fort Orford, O.T.Sir--
Dist. Southn. Oregon & Northn. Cal.
April 1st 1856
I have the honor to report my arrival at this post on the 29th ult., having accompanied the supply train under the escort of Bvt. Maj. Reynolds, in order to make arrangements for establishing my depot and general hospital here.
In the performance of the duties assigned me, I regret to say that I find myself embarrassed by the hurried manner in which I have been compelled to take the field, to a degree that I could not have anticipated, and therefore earnestly request the Commanding General to turn his especial attention to this quarter. This war has hardly received the consideration that its importance deserves, and I am in duty bound to report the difficulties under which I labor in the hope that they may be removed.
To commence with the matter of supplies--the quantity of any kind now on hand within reach is not sufficient for 350 men for more than 30 days, and if Capt. Smith, from whom I have not yet heard, should bring with him as he expects 120 men, I shall have 362, besides the necessary guides, interpreters and other employees entitled to rations. There are, it is true, some 20,000 rations at Crescent City, but in order to obtain them I shall have to detach one company of not less than 50 men, and the trip will occupy 10 days, during which time I shall be compelled to remain idle for want of transportation.
If the steamer Columbia were required to touch at this point both on her upward and downward trips, I might calculate on some means of corresponding with the General and making known my wants, but as it is I do not see what can be done, since reliable expresses cannot be procured to carry communication through by land. I could therefore respectfully urge the propriety of some arrangement being made by contract, which will secure me a certain and speedy intercourse by steam, with San Francisco and Vancouver.
This point from its proximity to the present locality of the hostile Indians must necessarily be my depot for the supplies for my field operations, and hence a quartermaster of some experience is absolutely required here. I have been compelled to order Lieut. Macfeely out of the field on account of his health, and have directed him to relieve Lieut. Chandler in the command of the post and the various staff duties of A.A.C.S., A.A.Q.M., &c., which duties are too numerous and important to be entrusted permanently to any one officer. I therefore request that if no senior can be spared, Lieut. Withers, Regtl. Qr. Mr., 4th Inft., be ordered to report to me for duty here. The quartermaster dept. at this post is absolutely unprovided with anything necessary for field service, nor can the commonest articles of any kind be purchased in the village.
No steamer has touched at Port Orford since the 9th March when the Republic went down, and the town is therefore exhausted of supplies, so that the inhabitants, increased by those citizens who were relieved by my commands from their confinement in their fort near the mouth of Rogue River, are nearly in a starving condition. There are 252 friendly Indians on the Reserve who are being fed from the provisions of the post, and if a supply be not sent up within 30 days, neither troops nor Indians will have anything to eat. I have endeavored to procure potatoes for the Indians, but there are none to be found in the neighborhood, and they are therefore supplied with flour and fresh beef, of which latter the supply is not equal to their wants for more than 4 weeks. I brought up with me 23 days' rations for the command from Crescent City, but Capt. Augur for want of transportation would only take 18 for his, so that my supply which would have carried me to the 6th of this month is now being shared with him, and will only last until the 4th. I return to camp with 15 days' rations for 350 men, and shall have to send at once to Crescent City for an increase to my train to bring up with it, if possible, 30 days more. This will take at least 10 days, will require a detachment to guard it, and after the return of the provisions will compel me to establish a permanent camp at some point on this river. For all these things I require troops, and earnestly request that more be sent to me. With 4 more companies I should be able to have escorts for my supplies and guards for my permanent camp whilst my active operations might be conducted with some reasonable hope of success within a limited time. Without this increase, I will not undertake to say when this war, by far the most important from its locality of any on the coast, can be expected to be closed.
With it, after the forces, means of transportation and the furnishing of supplies shall be properly organized, I think that a few months will suffice.
I am sadly deficient in medical officers and subalterns, and must urge the General to order more to report to me. There being no army surgeon at Crescent City I was obliged to engage the services of the only graduate of medicine in the place to accompany my command to the field, and since I have concluded to establish my general hospital at this point, have been compelled to place him on duty here until the arrival of an army medical officer, when his contract will expire. Asst. Surgeon Glisan is the only one in camp, and hence I cannot send out two parties at any one time for a combined operation, in a country where such operations are likely to be most successful. It is true that there are medical officers in this district, whose services I could require by depriving their posts of them if I could but communicate with them, but that can only be done by expresses, and these cannot be procured, nor could they reach me unless escorted by troops which I have not to spare for the purpose. As there are several now in the Puget Sound District, I request that two be sent me for field service with my present command, and that a third, a man of experience, bet at once ordered to take charge of the general hospital.
As to subalterns, I shall have but one not on staff duty or command of a company, with my entire force in the field, a condition of affairs as extraordinary as it is embarrassing. As Capt. Burton's company is at San Diego I would suggest that one of his subalterns be placed in charge of the comd. depot at that place, and that Lieut. Kellogg be ordered to join his company in the field. Had I not detained Lieut. Allston at Crescent City I should not have had an officer to discharge the duties of a Qr. Mr. without assigning them to the captain of a company. If the General can remedy this state of affairs I hope that he will interpose his authority to do so, and cause those whose services are not absolutely needed elsewhere to join their companies at once.
In conclusion I will only say I do not wish to be understood as making a complaint, for it is not my habit to do so, but is my imperative duty to place the General in possession of facts which have so important a bearing on the operations of the campaign, and to assure him that a change in the situation of affairs is essential to its success. There are 400 Indians to be whipped and 450 square miles of country, high, rugged and densely timbered, to hunt them in. The war is just begun.
I am sirTo
Your obt. servt.
Robt. C. Buchanan
Bvt. Lt. Col. Major 4th Inf.
Capt. D. R. Jones
Asst. Adjt. Genl.
Dept. of the Pacific
NARA M689, Letters Received by the Office of the Adjutant General 1881-1889, Roll 567, Papers Relating to the Death of Mary Wagoner.
Rogue River Correspondence of the Statesman.
Fort Leland, April 1st, 1856.
Friend Bush--On the 25th March, the Southern Battalion, under command of Maj. Bruce, was attacked by a strong body of Indians while on their way to relieve a pack train which had been attacked the morning of the same day by the Indians. A small party of men, of which I was one, were in advance of the main body when fired upon. Several horses were shot down, and two men killed. We immediately took positions and returned the fire. This small party fought for a half hour or more, but no assistance being rendered, and there being some 100 or more Indians pressing us, we were compelled to retire. My horse was shot and captured by the enemy, together with all my instruments and medicines then with me. When the main body got up, the Indians retired, and our men took possession of the field. I may add that I never witnessed worse shooting than was done by the Indians. Hundreds of shots were fired, and but three men killed in the action; none wounded. And they were not exceeding sixty or seventy yards from us, and part of the time a less distance. The number of Indians killed has not been ascertained; it is thought their loss was not less than ours, and some think it was much greater.
I was informed that some of the men belonging to the pack train before alluded to were badly wounded, and I was endeavoring to reach them as quickly as possible, that I might render them all the medical service in my power.
M. C. BARKWELL.Oregon Statesman, Salem, April 8, 1856, page 2
Jacksonville, March 31st, 1856.
The volunteers have had a fight with the Indians in Illinois Valley, four whites killed, don't know of any Indians, they stood their ground, while the volunteers had to draw off, losing some forty horses and saddles. The Indians took Evans' entire train of 28 mules and cargo, some ammunition.
The volunteers have so little success that I am getting tired of it, would like to see regulars enough to take the field.
Port Orford Correspondence of the Statesman.
Port Orford, O.T. April 2, 1856.
Editor Statesman:--In consequence of the uncertainty of the steamer calling at this place, Col. Buchanan has deemed it important to send an overland express to Vancouver, for military purposes, and by the same medium I send this communication.
A skirmish was had on the 27th ult. with a portion of the Rogue River Indians. One company of regulars started up the river from the mouth for the purpose of burning some lodges, and after they had accomplished their design, and on their return, they were attacked by a band of Indians who were concealed in the brush, numbering some sixty or eighty. The Indians were driven from the position at the point of the bayonet. They fought bravely and desperately. Only eight or ten were found dead on the ground, but evidences [were] that a much larger number had been packed away during the engagement. Not a white man was killed and but two were wounded.
On the first inst., another engagement took place at the mouth of the Coquille River, between a company of volunteers and the Indians at that place, and all the whole band, except two, were killed. How many shared the sad fate we are unable to say, as we have not yet received a full statement of facts. One of the Indians who succeeded in getting away came to the commanding officer at this post for protection.
This same band of Indians, at the time of the outbreak, were sent for by Major Reynolds, then commander of the post, to come in and give up their arms and place themselves under his protection and support. After a short parley they complied and remained upon the site allotted them until a few days since, when a few citizens assumed the responsibility to give them other and deleterious service, and the result was a forfeiture of the right of protection and at the same time subjected themselves to an attack and its fatal results. The upper Coquille Indians followed the same vicious advice, and the volunteers are to follow them also with similar intention, and I have no doubt but what that intention will be carried out to the letter.
When this and all the other Indian bands came in and complied with the requirement of the Indian Department, they were informed that so long as they remained upon the place assigned them they should not be harmed, but if they ran away or passed over the expressed bounds, they should be shot, every one of them. But some two or three citizens, wishing as it seems to interfere with the Indian Department, took the responsibility to tell the Indians that they had been collected there for the purpose of killing them. This, as a matter of course, kindled the fire of discontent and alarm, and one night last week a regular stampede occurred.
The Indians that formerly lived here or in this vicinity still comply with the requirements of the Department. More soon.
J. C. F.
Oregon Statesman, Salem, April 15, 1856, page 2
SIX WHITES KILLED ON THE KLAMATH RIVER BY INDIANS.
The Yreka Union says that early on the 3rd of April a train of thirty-six mules were on their way from Crescent City to the Klamath River, accompanied with six packers, and were attacked by a party of about three hundred Indians, well armed and equipped for the war. The packers were instantly killed, and the mules, cargoes &c. taken possession of and driven off. The informant of the Union was unaware of the nature of the cargo, but it was presumed to contain more or less ammunition. The attack was made at Gates' ranch, between Sailor Diggings and Crescent City.
The excitement at Sailor Diggings was very great, and most persons had left. It is said that there are not more than twenty-five whites remaining, and that they are together in a fortification. The Rogue River and Klamath Indians seem to have located themselves in the roads leading from Yreka and Klamath River to Crescent City--their main object being to waylay and cut off trains, more for the purpose of obtaining any powder that they may contain, perhaps, than anything else.
Daily Tribune, Chicago, Illinois, May 20, 1856, page 2
Headquarters, Fort Orford, O.T.Sir--
Dist. Southn. Oregon & Northn. Cal.
April 3rd 1856
I have the honor to report my arrival at this post on the 29th ult., having accompanied the supply train under the escort of Bvt. Maj. Reynolds, in order to make arrangements for establishing my depot and general hospital here.
In the performance of the duties assigned me, I regret to say that I find myself embarrassed by the hurried manner in which I have been compelled to take the field, to a degree that I could not have anticipated, and therefore earnestly request the Commanding General to turn his especial attention to this quarter. This war has hardly received the consideration that its importance deserves, and I am in duty bound to report the difficulties under which I labor in the hope that they may be removed.
To commence with the matter of supplies--the quantity of any kind now on hand within reach is not sufficient for 350 men for more than 30 days, and if Capt. Smith, from whom I have not yet heard, should bring with him as he expected 120 men, I shall have 362, besides the necessary guides, interpreters and other employees entitled to rations. There are, it is true, some 20,000 rations at Crescent City, but in order to obtain them I shall have to detach one company of not less than 50 men, and the trip will occupy 10 days, during which time I shall be compelled to remain idle for want of transportation.
If the steamer Columbia were required to touch at this point both on her upward and downward trips, I might calculate on some means of corresponding with the General and making known my wants, but as it is I do not see what can be done, since reliable expresses cannot be procured to carry communications through by land. I could therefore respectfully urge the propriety of some arrangement being made by contract, which will secure me a certain and speedy intercourse by steam, with San Francisco and Vancouver.
This point from its proximity to the present locality of the hostile Indians must necessarily be my depot for the supplies for my field operations, and hence a quartermaster of some experience is absolutely required here. I have been compelled to order Lieut. Macfeely out of the field on account of his health, and have directed him to relieve Lieut. Chandler in the command of the post and the various staff duties of A.A.C.S., A.A.Q.M., &c., which duties are too numerous and important to be entrusted permanently to any one officer. I therefore request that if no senior can be spared, Lieut. Withers, Regtl. Qr. Mr., 4th Inft., be ordered to report to me for duty here. The Qr. Mr. department at this post is absolutely unprovided with anything necessary for field service, nor can the commonest articles of any kind be purchased in the village.
No steamer has touched at Port Orford since the 9th March when the Republic went down, and the town is therefore exhausted of supplies, so that the inhabitants, increased by those citizens who were relieved by my commands from their confinement in their fort near the mouth of Rogue River, are nearly in a starving condition. There are 252 friendly Indians on the Reserve who are being fed from the provisions of the post, and if a supply be not sent up within 30 days, neither troops nor Indians will have anything to eat. I have endeavored to procure potatoes for the Indians, but there are none to be found in the neighborhood, and they are therefore supplied with flour and fresh beef, of which latter the supply is not equal to their wants for more than 4 weeks. I brought up with me 23 days' rations for the command from Crescent City, but Capt. Augur for want of transportation would only take 18 for his, so that my supply which would have carried me to the 6th of this month is now being shared with him, and will only last until the 4th.
I return to camp with 15 days' rations for 350 men, and shall have to send at once to Crescent City for an increase to my train to bring up with it, if possible, 30 days more. This will take at least 10 days, will require a detachment to guard it, and after the return of the provisions will compel me to establish a permanent camp at some point on the river. For all these things I require troops, and earnestly request that more be sent to me. With 4 more companies I should be able to have escorts for my supplies and guards for my permanent camp whilst my active operations might be conducted with some reasonable hope of success within a limited time. Without this increase, I will not undertake to say when this war, by far the most important, from its locality, of any on the coast, can be expected to be closed.
With it, after the forces, means of transportation and the furnishing of supplies shall be properly organized, I think that a few months will suffice.
I am sadly deficient in medical officers and subalterns, and must urge the General to order more to report to me. There being no army surgeon at Crescent City I was obliged to engage the services of the only graduate of medicine in the place to accompany my command to the field, and since I have concluded to establish my general hospital at this point, have been compelled to place him on duty here until the arrival of an army medical officer, when his contract will expire. Asst. Surgeon Glisan is the only one in camp, and hence I cannot send out two parties at any one time for a combined operation, in a country where such operations are likely to be most successful. It is true that there are medical officers within this district, whose services I could require by depriving their posts of them (if I could but communicate with them), but that can only be done by expresses, and these cannot be procured, nor could they reach me unless escorted by troops which I have not to spare for the purpose. As there are several now in the Puget Sound District, I request that two be sent me for field service with my present command, and that a third, a man of experience, bet at once ordered to take charge of the general hospital.
As to subalterns, I shall have but one not on staff duty or in command of a company, with my entire force in the field, a condition of affairs as extraordinary as it is embarrassing. As Capt. Burton's company is at San Diego I would suggest that one of his subalterns be placed in charge of the comd. depot at that place, and that Lieut. Kellogg be ordered to join his company in the field. Had I not detained Lieut. Allston at Crescent City I should not have had an officer to discharge the duties of A. Qr. Mr. without assigning them to the captain of a company. If the General can remedy this state of affairs I hope that he will interpose his authority to do so, and cause those whose services are not absolutely needed elsewhere to join their companies at once.
In conclusion I will only say I do not wish to be understood as making a complaint, for it is not my habit to do so, but is my imperative duty to place the General in possession of facts which have so important a bearing on the operations of the campaign, and to assure him that a change in the situation of affairs is essential to its success. There are 400 Indians to be whipped and 450 square miles of country, high, rugged and densely timbered, to hunt them in. The war is just begun.
I am sirTo
Your obt. servt.
Robt. C. Buchanan
Bvt. Lt. Col. Major 4th Inf.
Capt. D. R. Jones
Asst. Adjt. Genl.
Dept. of the Pac.
P.S. I have inadvertently omitted to mention that there is a great scarcity of clothing here, especially of boots, as will be seen by the enclosed report from the A.A.Qr. Master of the post.
R.C.B.NARA M689, Letters Received by the Office of the Adjutant General 1881-1889, Roll 567, Papers Relating to the Death of Mary Wagoner. Buchanan had sent a nearly identical letter, minus the postscript, on April 1.
OREGON MOUNTED VOLUNTEERS.--The following extracts, which we are permitted to make from a letter dated Camp Vannoy, April 2nd, and addressed to L. D. Gilmore, Esq., at this place, by Major James Bruce, O.M.V., will be deemed interesting:
"The Southern Battalion number about 300 or a little over, and in two days will be on the track of the Indians under Old John of Applegate, whose number is supposed to be augmented to about 200 or more, by accessions from the Klamath and the Meadows [sic--Modocs?]. Their position is being spied out this moment by Captain O'Neil's company and is supposed to be on the Crescent City trail on the south side of Illinois River.
"The Northern Battalion will number between 300 and 400 men, and the greater part of them are now on the track of George and Limpy, who combined will, it is supposed, number about 160 or 200; they are in the mountains west of Rogue River.
"The intention is to chastise the Indians and the orders to the men are 'follow the Indians and defeat them.' I consider that at present we are at the commencement of a bloody campaign, the length of which may not be foretold.
"The Governor is expected in this region shortly, may arrive perhaps in a week.
"I have not heard anything of the whereabouts of Capt. Smith, but I suppose that he was safe; Lieut. Crook is at present commanding at Fort Lane; the latest news that I had from Capt. Judah was to the effect that he was yet sick."
Crescent City Herald, April 9, 1856, page 2
Hay's Ranch Apl. 8 & 9 1856Nothing of [illegible]
Hay's Ranch Apl. 10th 1856Still at Hay's Ranch. Spies return from the mountains & report no Indians.
Apl. 11th 1856Marched from Hay's & camped on Rogue River 1 miles below the mouth of Applegate & 18 miles from Hay's Ranch. Preparing to go to the Meadows.
Apl. 12 & 13th 1856Still camped on Rogue River. Nothing going on of importance.
Apl. 14th 1856Still lying in camp on Rogue River. Sent all the horses to Vannoy's to herd. Preparing to start to the Meadows on foot.
Apl. 15 1856Still camped on Rogue River. Northing going on of importance.
Apl. 16th 1856Started for the Meadows. Marched about 8 miles. Weather wet.
Apl. 17th 1856Marched about 8 miles & camped on Taylor's Creek. No fresh Indian sign.
Apl. 18th 1856Marched about 10 miles & camped on the mountain at Peavine Camp. Spies returned to the company about 10 o'clock while on the march & reported that they heard firing of cannon & guns to the left of the Meadows.
Apl. 19th 1856Still camped at Peavine Camp. Saw smoke in the direction of the Meadows. Capt. Bushey with 16 men started for the Meadows on a scouting expedition & expect him to return tomorrow.
Apl. 20th 1856Still camped at Peavine Camp. Capt. Bushey returned & reported the Indians scattered all through the mountains. Indians fired on them several times during the night.
Apl. 21st 1856Still camped at Peavine Camp. Northern Bat. arrived at the mouth of Whisky Creek. Expect to start to the Meadows tomorrow.
Apl. 22nd 1856Recd. an express from Gen. Lamerick that the Indians were on a bar a short distance below the Upper Meadows & ordered us to cross to the north side of Rogue River & hasten to the Meadows. We accordingly started from camp about 9 o'clock but was until dark crossing the river. While crossing Asa Wagner came [illegible] & stated that he & Mc. Harkness [McDonough Harkness] were carrying an express from Grave Creek to Gen. Lamerick & when within 1½ miles [illegible] camp was fired upon by the Indians [illegible]. Mc. [Harkness] was killed & he (Wagner) saved his life [illegible] but was shot through the back of the [illegible]. We camped on the mountain at a spring about 2 miles from Whisky Creek.
Apl. 23rd 1856Marched on to the Meadows & found the Northern Bat. a distance of 8 miles. Found Harkness lying by the side of the road. Plenty of Indians in sight of camp.
Apl. 24th 1856Started in company with three other companies to the lower Meadows to see what was going on but did not make the trip on a/c of the long distance. When we arrived opposite the Indians' camp a number of them crossed the river onto our side, but we did not deem it advisable to go into a fight as we had neither grub nor blankets.
Apl. 25th 1856Still camped at the upper Meadows. Plenty of Indians crossing & recrossing the river. We expect to make a move against them tomorrow.
Apl. 26th 1856Still camped at the upper Meadows. Plenty of Indians in sight. Men disappointed in getting off after the Indians today. Expect to start tomorrow.
Apl. 27th 1856Started about daybreak in company with about two hundred men for the Indians' camp. Stationed our company at the top of the mountain to keep the trail open for the pack train & remainder of the several companies to pass. Col. Kelsey with 150 men went around opposite the Indians' camp & fired upon them. In a short time the most of the men were opposite the Indians' camp & a brisk firing was kept [up] nearly all day. The Indians retreated to the mountain back of the bar where they were out of reach of our guns. Number of Indians killed not known. One man wounded of Wilkinson's co. Indians supposed to number 70 or 80. At dark all the men drew off but 10 men from each co. who stayed on the ground until the balance of the men got their supper & there was 100 men detailed to go down to the river & stay until morning, but they all returned about 10 o'clock on a/c of there being no officer appointed to take charge of the men.
Apl. 28th 1856Returned to the battle ground, but the Indians had returned during the night & got all their plunder & were on the move. Col. Kelsey with a detachment of men started down to the river below the battle ground & had a skirmish with the Indians & had one man wounded.
Apl. 29th 1856Spent the day in crossing the river. Intend following the Indians.
Apl. 30th 1856Still camped on the Indians' bar. The day spent in hunting some animals that has strayed [illegible].
May 1st 1856Crossed back to the north side of the river. Traveled about 5 miles & camped on the Lower Meadows.
May 2nd 1856Started in company with a portion of the Northern & Southern Battalions. Traveled about 8 miles & camped on the divide leading to Hungry Hill.
May 3rd 1856Started about 7 o'clock & marched about 8 miles & camped at the spring about 2 miles S.W. of the mouth of Whisky Creek.
May 4th 1856Marched about 20 miles & camped on Grave Creek 1 mile from the Grave Creek House. Sent out to Vannoy's for our horses.
May 5th 1856Still camped on Grave Creek. Horses got in about 2 o'clock.
May 6thMarched from Grave Creek to Vannoy's, a distance of 6 miles.
Unidentified diary (transcription), Silas J. Day Papers, Lilly Library, Indiana University.
Fort Orford O.T.Sir:
April 8th 1856
I have the honor to report that at the date of the receipt of Bvt. Lt. Col. Buchanan's order for me to proceed to the Big Bend of Rogue River with all the disposable force under my command at Fort Lane, the garrison of that post was reduced to a portion of my company, with a few sick belonging to comps. "D" & "E" 4th Infy. Compy. "D" 4th Infy. with a detachment of Compy. "E" of the same regiment from Fort Jones, Cal. formed the escort of Chief Sam's band of 400 friendly Indians, then on their way to the Coast Reservation.
Lt. Crook, in command of the detcht. of Compy. "E," returned to Fort Lane on the 11th of March, and informed me that Lieut. Underwood with Compy. "D," who had orders not to go beyond Winchester, would continue with the Indians to the reserve if necessary, in compliance with verbal instructions from Genl. Wool, received through a sub-Indian agent.
I then immediately organized a detachment of 100 men from companies "C" 1st Drags. & "E" 4th Infy. with Asst. Surgeon Crane and Lieut. Sweitzer, and left Fort Lane on the 14th of March and proceeded to Vannoy's Ferry on Rogue River, where I was to procure guides. It was my intention to follow from this point the trail I made from the coast to Rogue River Valley in the summer of 1853, but was assured by my guides and many persons of experience in the mountains of the impracticability of that route so early in the season. I could find no person that would consent to guide us through on the north side of Rogue River, and from my own knowledge of that country believe it to be an impracticable trail for a command with any considerable number of animals.
On the morning of the 16th we left Rogue River and crossed over to the waters of [the] Illinois, and followed that stream down to its mouth; during the whole distance we found quite a good trail, with an abundance of grass and water at intervals from three to ten miles. I believe this will be found the most, if not the only, practicable trail from this vicinity to the upper Rogue River Valley.
As we were descending a ridge near the mouth of Illinois River on the 24th of March, where we expected to find the headquarters of the district, Indians were discovered on the flat below. Leaving the pack train in charge of Lt. Sweitzer with Compy. "E," I moved rapidly forward with the advance guard and my company, through thick brush and timber, to the point that makes out at the junction of the river, and found from the appearance of their ranches that the Indians had made a precipitate retreat. Some canoes with Indians were seen moving rapidly down the stream; we opened a brisk fire upon them, which caused many to take the water and others to gain the bank, with the canoes, as soon as possible; judging from their actions several of the Indians may have been hit; they were distant some three hundred yards. While we were occupying this exposed point several shots were fired at us from across Illinois River by Indians concealed in the thick brush and timber on the side of a mountain, wounding one private of Compy. "E" [David Kennedy] in the neck. We instantly returned the fire and maintained the point, when the howitzer was ordered down and two shells fired at points the Indians were supposed to occupy. In their ranches we found a variety of articles of which we took possession, and a large supply of eels and other fish, which were burnt with the ranches. The rapidity of the current, depth of the stream and want of proper means precluded the possibility of our gaining the opposite bank; one or more Indians were killed on the mountainside. On returning to the pack train, then in camp, I was informed that Indians had been seen above the camp on the same side of the river. I immediately ordered out Lt. Sweitzer with Compy. "E," who soon met the Indians within a short distance of camp, charged them and drove them back; it was not known positively that any were killed or wounded. One private of Compy. "E" 4th Inf. [William Garry was] wounded in the left cheek. I remained in camp during the 25th & 26th, hoping to hear from Col. Buchanan, and moved on the 27th to Oak Flat, some four miles above the mouth of Illinois River, in order to send back on our trail to search for some stores that had been lost. Left Oak Flat camp on the 29th and proceeded to opposite the lower end of Big Bend, where we failed in effecting a crossing and then proceeded to the upper end of the Bend, where we constructed a canvas boat and attempted to cross it with ropes but found the current so rapid that we were foiled, with the loss of some twenty lash ropes. I then had oars made and we succeeded in crossing everything in about five hours on the 1st of April. On the afternoon of the 31st three Indians were seen on the north side of the river, and [they] succeeded in making their way down a brushy ravine to within about two hundred yards of where we were at work constructing the boat, and fired at us, but did no harm. One Indian was shot; a shell was fired across the river and several men sent over. The Indians disappeared. Several Indians made their appearance near camp as the rear guard were about leaving it, but kept at a respectful distance until all had been crossed. The boat [was] stripped of its covering and the baggage removed some two hundred yards from the river; while we were packing up the Indians approached the bank and fired several shots, wounding slightly one mule. On the night of the 1st of April we encamped at the Big Bend, on the north side of Rogue River. Having no provisions on hand except a little fresh beef, I deemed it prudent to march towards the coast and left camp on the morning of the 2nd, with the expectation of taking the trail that comes in at the end of Brushy Creek, but was taken over the Iron Spring and Bald Mountain, impracticable for the want of grass, and arrived at this post late on the evening of the 5th of April. We had four days hard rain and dense fog in the mountains. Left two mules between this place and Iron Spring--given out.
I am sirLt. J. G. Chandler
Your obt. servt.
A. J. Smith
Capt. 1st Drags.
A.A. Adjt. Genl.
Dist. of South Oregon & Northn. Cal.
NARA M689, Letters Received by the Office of the Adjutant General 1881-1889, Roll 567, Papers Relating to the Death of Mary Wagoner.
At my residence April 10th / 56E. M. Barnum Esqr.
Adjutant General O.T.
Your kind letter of the 29th is before me, for which I am under many obligations and return you my sincere thanks for your kindness in releasing me from procuring those missing monthly reports &c. The action of the Governor on the petition of our citizens relative to Dr. Barkwell is waited for with much anxiety. Knowing Barkwell as I did I very much regretted at the time. The unfortunate action of the Legislature in displacing one already properly appointed by the commander in chief of the Territory and appointing one so illy justified to give general satisfaction, it has done more injury to the party south than any other act during the session. It gives our opponents a chance to throw it in our teeth, and we have no good way to get round it. I am told that a remonstrance to the petition has been sent to the Governor and signed by a few men to whom Dr. Barkwell had appointed to some offices connected with the department.
Dear sir my health has been very poor for some weeks past so that I have not been able to join the expedition and march into the mountains with Major Bruce. I therefore sent the Major my resignation to take effect on the 31st of March last.
The Governor's proclamation calling for three new cos. and recommending citizens in exposed localities to form themselves into companies of minute men, for the protection of their immediate settlements. Agreeable to that recommendation the citizens on Stuart's Creek [Bear Creek] near Wait's flour mill have organized themselves into a company & elected their officers, O. D. Hoxie Capt., Milton Lindley First Lieut., G. T. Vining 2nd Lieut., four sergeants, four corporals, with 51 privates to act as minute men.
The volunteers have all been withdrawn from the valley and we know not how soon the Indians may make a descent on the valley. Many of the families have forted up. They have three forts built and well filled with families who have left their houses, farms & much property liable to be destroyed by the Indians at any time if not protected, and we deem it necessary to keep a scouting party constantly out in the edges of the mountains so as to learn if the enemy approach the valley and prevent being taken by surprise, which will give us time to collect our forces, march out and drive the Indians back and thus protect our property as well as our family.
I should like to have some instructions from his excellency the Governor in regard to keeping 3 or 4 men of my company constantly on duty as scouts or spies for the safety of our citizens and property in this valley &c.
The force stationed on the Siskiyou Mt. to keep open the road between this valley and Yreka Cal. has recently been withdrawn, and teamers & packers are now compelled to stop and wait for protection to travel. Petition has been forwarded to General Lamerick asking him to order a force there to keep the road open. There has not been time for his reply yet.
With sentiments of esteem to yourself, his excellency the Governor & General Drew I remain
Yours trulyOregon State Archives, Yakima and Rogue River War, Document File B, Reel 2, Document 630.
O. D. Hoxie
Capt. Company B Minute Men
R. R. Valley