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The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised


Chief John
Tecumtum (Chief John) ?-1864, May 1862
   
Tecumtum (Chief John) ?-1864, May 1862

Jacksonville Sept 15th 1853               
Dear Genl [Joseph Lane]
    Since listening to the recital by Capt. Williams, in your presence, of the fight between his command and the Indians on Applegate Creek, I have heard and believe that it was an unprovoked attack on the family of Indian John by order of Capt. Williams, and in direct violation of your positive instructions to not interfere or do anything to interrupt the friendly relations then about to be and now fully consummated between the whites and Jo, Sam, Jim, John and Limpy's bands of Indians.
    It appears to me that Capt. Williams could not have been ignorant of the fact that this party of John's was a portion of those included among 200 people who were awaiting the return of John and his sons from the treaty ground preparatory to their removal to the reserve assigned them. John's uniformly good conduct towards the whites and the assurance he and his people gave us of their good and friendly intentions, and the circumstances by which we are now surrounded, I think demand an investigation of the conduct of Capt. Williams and his command, and as an act of justice to those people and to the end that peace may be preserved, I ask that Capt. Williams may be arrested and dealt with according to the rules and regulations of the army. It is at this time impossible to foresee the result of this unfortunate transaction, but as I have great confidence in the forbearance of those Indians and their great desire to preserve peace by carrying out on their part the stipulations of the treaty just concluded, I do not despair of being able to conciliate and to convince them of the sincerity of our intentions towards them.
    Your long acquaintance with these Indians and your better judgment will enable you to determine whether this act be such as to require the interference on your part for the arrest of those implicated.
    I have the honor to be
        dear sir your obedient
            servant
                Joel Palmer
                    Supt Indian Affairs
                        O T

    . . . ten persons were killed on the river near the Klamath camp. Six Indians belonging to Old John were recognized in the assault. The assaulting party were seen going to the camp where those white men were murdered about fifteen minutes previous to the commencement of the firing. The firing commenced in the evening about half an hour before sunset and immediately upon the return of the Indians who were taken in the morning as witnesses, but [they] had made their escape and returned.
    Those Shasta Indians from the agency still deny any participation in those outrages, but from the fact of their being there, going in violation of orders to the contrary, their returning with the property taken from those murdered men, their horses and some articles of clothing, and of their being in possession of an amount of money that cannot be reasonably accounted for in any other way, and their previous bad character, all tend to induce me to believe they are guilty and accordingly with that impression I have thought it advisable to have them arrested for trial. The Indians belong to Old John, but neither he nor any other chief has any control over them. About fifteen of the different bands, but mostly of Old John's people, have banded together and without doubt are the worst Indians I ever saw. Their kindred feeling no doubt associates them together, and consequently but little good can ever be expected of them. Aside from this band I believe the others could be got along with without difficulty, but those above alluded to are so desperate and reckless that the whole tribe fear them.
Letter from Indian agent G. H. Ambrose to Joseph Lane, August 31, 1855, Jo Lane Papers


    I saw old man John yesterday, and he says he is determined to abide [by] the treaty and will give up to be hung the last son ["Bill"] he may have if he is guilty of killing a white man. He affirms his belief in the innocence of those persons who are accused of murder on the Klamath River, and does not [want] to give them up to be hung for acts they have never committed. . . . "Tyee Bill" has heretofore as you are well aware sustained a pretty good reputation, and though he was there and with that party of Indians, it does not necessarily follow that he was guilty.
    Capt. Smith entertains the opinion that Bill is not guilty, than whom I know of no person better qualified to form a correct opinion. I have heard it intimated that they would apply to the Governor for a requisition with no evidence of their guilt more than suspicion.
Letter of G. H. Ambrose to Joel Palmer, September 8, 1855;
Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 13; Letters Received, 1855, No. 77


    Grievances . . . are constantly pouring in upon me from every side, and in all these numerous instances not an Indian can be found who is guilty of any of the above acts; one band lays the charge to some other band and they in return charge it on to some other band, and so it goes from one to another and all go unpunished, the loss sustained by any one individual being quite small, he does not care to spend time to feint it out and if he did I know of no way by which he could do so. All this mischief you will observe was done in the neighborhood of Mr. Vannoy's and in the country occupied by George and Limpy's people, but in justice to them I do not believe they knew anything of the matter, yet they have all the blame to bear. From what I can learn I believe it to have been done by some of Old John's people, and some Scotans of whom I informed you some time since of their leaving the reserve. John's people are constantly passing to and fro from the reserve to the Scotans, who are camped somewhere in the Coast Range of mountains and the lower Rogue River Indians about Galice Creek.
Letter from Indian agent G. H. Ambrose to Joseph Lane, September 31, 1855, Jo Lane Papers


    Since I informed you of existing hostilities in this valley, no important event has occurred not contained in that communication. I have learned reliably that the Shasta Scotans, Grave Creeks, and many of the Umpqua and Cow Creeks, are concerned in those hostile misunderstandings and measures, the Shastas are beyond doubt the leading spirit of the whole expedition, Old chief John has managed to secure the assistance of all the above named tribes, together with the Klamaths, and all the surrounding tribes are concerned in this war.
Indian agent George H. Ambrose to Superintendent of Indian Affairs Joel Palmer, Office of Indian Affairs, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-1880, October 10, 1855


    Old Chief John killed the man employed to build him a house, declaring that he "wanted no house, but was going to fight till he died," and the massacre of women and children in the most brutal and fiendish manner show a determination to carry into execution their threat.
Indian agent George H. Ambrose October 20, 1855, letter to Superintendent of Indian Affairs Joel Palmer, Office of Indian Affairs, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1872, Reel 5; Letter Book D, pages 329-331.


    It appears now, although it was not known at the time of the outbreak, that ever since these two Indians of Old John's band were arrested by Capt. Smith for participation in the Klamath murders, he (John) has been trying to induce Sam and the other Indians to fight. In this he was for a long time unsuccessful. . . .
    The night that the attack was made the Indians held a talk, Old John insisting that they should go to war, as the whites were evidently bent on extermination. Sam refused and Mary (Jim's wife) made a long speech for peace. Just before day John with six men started down Rogue River, killing and burning as they went from Jewett's Ferry to Wagner's.
Letter from L. F. Mosher to Joseph Lane, November 22, 1855, Jo Lane Papers


    On the first inst. I sent two Indians in whom I had confidence to the camp of the hostile party to endeavor if possible to get a correct statement in regard to the massacres of the 9th of Oct. last, and more especially to learn if they held in bondage any white women & if so to try to redeem them.
    They returned on the 11th inst. in company with two other Indians belonging to George's band with the following statement, that Old John & eight others [of] his own people did all the mischief that day until their arrival at Wagoner's ranch and at that place they killed Mrs. Wagoner & fired the house before they were observed by the other Indians. Chief George was camped within four hundred yards of the house, but was not at home himself; he had left the day previous to go to Cow Creek .Mrs. Wagoner's daughter, a little girl about eight years of age, was at George's camp and was saved by his woman concealing her. After John had killed these people, captured the teams & burned the houses, he was joined by some other Indians, among whom he divided the cargo that he had captured belonging to Peters & co.; about two thirds of George's people agreed to join him and all the Cow Creeks that were there did the same. The new force was then sent on the road to continue the work of pillage and death begun by Old John.
    He and his men here left for Illinois Valley. The house of Mr. Harris was then attacked by this new party. Mrs. Harris, who was rescued by Major Fitzgerald, recognized some Cow Creek Indians & talked to them before they killed her husband, which in a measure corroborates the statement made by the Indians. They both agree as to who shot Mr. Harris. I am not aware that the Indians knew anything of Mrs. Harris' statement previous to making their own. They also remarked they could have killed her but did not wish to kill women. They strove to take her prisoner, hoping her powder would soon become exhausted, when they would be enabled to capture her, from which they were prevented by the timely arrival of Major Fitzgerald. From here they proceeded to the house of Mr. Haines, where he and his son were killed, his wife and daughter taken prisoners. No clue has been had of the fate of Mrs. Haines and daughter except this, and this, being partially corroborated by the evidence of white persons, leaves but little more to doubt its correctness. The Indians aver that Mrs. Haines' daughter lived but three days, when she died with the flux. That her life was despaired of from that disease on the morning of the massacre I know to be a fact. Mrs. Haines lived six days and died of the same disease; she also was sick at the time of her captivity & had lost wo children the week previous of the same disease, so I conclude there is no cause  to doubt the statement of the Indians on this matter. Mrs. Wagoner's daughter lived near two months and was killed by some of John's boys, who had been sent from Mr. Wagoner's ranch to the Klamath on a recruiting service. Immediately upon their rejoining the Indians at the meadows they shot the little girl & a little half breed girl belonging to an Indian woman, averring at the same time they done it in revenge for some Indian women who had been killed by the whites. These Indians declare they have not killed any women nor did they intend it should be done, that none but John's people were guilty of such atrocious acts. They also state there are a great many Indians at the meadows, some from the coast below the mouth of Rogue River. These are not armed. The entire Klamath tribe & many disaffected Indians from northern California have joined them, numbering in all near three hundred efficient warriors, that they are strongly fortified, have made excavations underground & arched them over with large rock & will stand a general fight, although their desire is for peace.
    Bill, son to Old John, refuses to fight & says he never will. These Indians say he invariably mounts his horse & leaves at the first approach of the whites, and is now living several miles from the main body of the Indians with none but his own family. This is the same Bill spoken of last summer, who was with that party on the Klamath at the time of the massacre there, of which you were informed at the time, and subsequently of the surrender of two of the worst of that party into the hands of the civil authorities of California & of their acquittal and subsequent murder by the populace. He says he still desires peace & that he will do anything, or go anywhere, to obtain it, that he never will war with the whites. I give you his statement from which  you can form your own conclusions.
    Old John says he desires peace provided the whites are really penitent & want it. Such a peace as he had from the former treaty, which only served to turn his people into a belief of security, on which they were killed for amusement by the whites, he does not want. He considers he has avenged his injuries, for which he was fighting, & has not lost a single man in doing it, and if the whites are willing to make & observe a peace he will do the same. If the whites wish to fight it is all right. He prefers war to a dishonorable peace, that he would rather die fighting for his rights than to have peace for himself & have his people killed for nothing whenever it suited the caprice of some man to do so. Limpy is exceedingly anxious for peace, says he never joined the war party nor never intends to. He was at Fort Lane at the time of the massacre and remained there until after its occurrence, and left to get his family away from danger. He said when he left he would return with them if it was possible for him to do so & if it was not he would go to the coast mountains and spend the winter there, that he would only fight in defense of his life or family, how true he has kept his word. We have no means of knowing more than the statement of the Indians who were sent out as scouts, & one of them being his brother would probably present the fairest side to view. Limpy is the Indian who caused a gun and some other stolen articles to be returned to their owner a short time previous to the war, of which I gave you an account at the time [see Ambrose's letter of Oct. 8, 1855], though without knowing who had done it. The theft was committed by John's people, the articles taken from them & returned to the owner by Limpy.
*  *  *
    I have given you the substance of the interview and as near in their own language as it could be got. I have no doubt it is the desire of a large portion of them to have peace. They are tired of war, but a peace with John's people and the Klamaths would be of short duration, at least until they are well chastised. It does seem to me to be fallacy to talk of peace. I was well satisfied all the while that they were the leading spirit of the whole war & but for them we might still have had peace. It also strikes me very forcibly that it could not be regarded as either very visionary or foolish to make some disposition of about two third of the war party who desire peace, other than trying to exterminate them. I agree with the Indians in that particular that the whites never can do it.
George H. Ambrose to Joel Palmer, February 18, 1856, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 14; Letters Received, 1856, No. 98.


    The known hostility of Old John and a part of his band and the fact that they were the first to take up arms against our people--though they may have cause of complaint--requires an unconditional surrender of that chief and of such of his men as were engaged in the first outbreak on Rogue River and Jump-off Joe Creek. The whole tribe must be required to give up their arms and go and remain at such place as may be required. The chief and parties accused may be guaranteed a fair trial by a court martial of U.S. officers, or by the civil authorities as may be determined upon.
Correspondence, Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs Joel Palmer to Robert B.Metcalfe, May 13, 1856. Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 6; Letter Books E:10, pages 1380-140.


    OLD JOHN.--An impression has been extant that Old John acted separate and apart from George, Limpy and their warriors--that they were not friendly. This, however, is hardly the case, as considerable of the property and some of the horses that was taken by John near Hay's, on the day D. Evans' pack train [omission] was found at the Meadows;, also where quite a number of mules had been butchered for food. If this is the case, there is but little doubt of the entire Indian forces in Southern Oregon acting in unison.

Crescent City Herald, May 21, 1856, page 2


    Wednesday, June 11. I suggested to send notice of John's vicinity to Reynolds but Col. flew off the handle and seemed to think I meant to insinuate he'd forgotten him--as he had--said volunteers were between John and Indians & it so happened John came down the river that day passing volunteers and regulars and if he chooses can attack later at great advantage--
    Monday, June 23. Col. sanguine that John will be in tomorrow at Rinehardt's & I am to go meet him.

    Friday, June 27. Pleasant A.M. though foggy--sent Capt. & five men to top of hill ½ mile who at M. [noon] reported two Inds. on horseback--These came in & were Jim (Bill's cousins) & a boy of John's band named "Samson." Say John's people had begun to cross R. R. yesterday at M. & they came on to let us know it--that all are coming--but 1 man is wounded and many women & children sick so they are slow, may be in tomorrow or next day--Sent express to Orford--Whitman with letters and papers &c.

    Sunday, June 29. 5 P.M. Indians reported coming over distant hill--sent Dobson & Jim to meet 'em--Dobson came in with Bill Jim & two youths--says the rest are slow & somewhat tired--he reports squaws & all are behind & the men had a talk on hill top as to what was expected of them--presently calls for Dobson--who went short way up the hill & here comes a long file of fierce looking fellows--in paint & feathers each with a fine rifle--& at their head steps Sternly & erect & hard faced grisly thin old man--in shirt sleeves & a small rimmed old hat on top of his head--it's "old John--I know at sight"--I advanced a short distance up hill from camp alone and shook hands with him & led the file to my tent in center of my camp--where one by one as they came up, they laid down their rifles--some rather with a look of defiance--took John into my tent after having the arms delivered up and gave him a drink--then issued bread &c. and the Indians were sent to their camp which I pointed out. Still out a dozen or so of John's men
    Monday, June 30. John to stay here or not going in till Wednesday shall be off & go half way tomorrow--Indians this P.M. are getting more sociable--old John still stern & unsociable went to their camp & looked at sick man--this band has but few old & infirmed--their guns have been much used--are good.

    Sunday, July 6. had old John to lunch & dinner Smith came in & was rather surprised to find him there--quite windy &c. Mc. & Doctr. G. dined with us bad night's rest nightmares &c.
Diary of Captain Edward O. C. Ord, quoted in "The Rogue River Indian Expedition of 1856," master's thesis of Ellen Francis Ord, 1921


    June 13th, 1856.--An express from Colonel Buchanan's camp reached here yesterday morning, with the news that the coast Indians are gradually coming in and giving up their arms, with the view of going on the reservation.
    Colonel Buchanan's whole command is on the north side of Rogue River, at three different points, and the volunteers (about three hundred), under General Lamerick, on the south side. The Indians seem to be pretty well intimidated. Just as the expressman was leaving, Old John, of the upper Rogue River Indians, sent in word that he thought his band would come in also; but the old rascal is so treacherous that it is exceedingly difficult to judge of his sincerity. He may have another scheme in view. [page 343]
* * *
    June 14th, 1856.--. . . It is very doubtful whether Old John will come in. Personally, he is for war; but since a young Indian, who has been with Old Sam's band on the Indian Reservation for a short time was sent by the Colonel to talk with John's band, many of the latter seem anxious to quit fighting and come in also. On Old John's hearing this he burst out crying and said if all his people left him, he might be compelled to come in also. [page 345]
* * *
    June 20th, 1856.--. . . Three of Old John's sons came in yesterday and stated that their father's band is at the mouth of the Illinois, and that he is willing to come in. One of them was dispatched to him today with the request that he should come to a designated point some twelve miles from here and surrender to Captain Ord, who is ordered to proceed from the mouth of Rogue River with his and Major Reynolds' companies to that place.
    June 28th, 1856.--Captain Ord, with his and Major Reynolds' companies, arrived here on the twenty-third, and left again with the same command on the following day for the "field." His orders were to proceed to a point on the Big Bend trail, some twelve miles from here, and await the arrival of Old John, who is expected to surrender to him.
    Yesterday an express came in from the Captain with the information that Old John, with his whole band, would probably reach his camp in three days from day before yesterday. When the latter and the Chetcoes shall have come in, the Rogue River war may be considered closed.
    July 2nd, 1856.--This morning Captain Ord's command arrived, bringing in the famous Old John and his band--the terror of Southern Oregon. Ord went some twelve miles from here, and sent for Old John to come in--the latter reached his camp on the twenty-ninth ultimo, and gave up twenty-five guns--all good and in excellent order. It is supposed that he has retained a good many pistols--if so, these also will probably be taken away from him. He brings with him thirty-five men, capable of bearing arms, ninety women and ninety children. He is about fifty-five years old--not at all prepossessing in appearance--has a resolute, discontented, and unhappy appearance. The disparity between the number of women and men is partially owing to the fact that more of the latter have been killed in battle, but in a measure also to the habit of the men of this band marrying squaws belonging to other tribes. Being the most warlike tribe in the country they enjoy this privilege more than any other band. [page 347+]
Dr. Rodney Glisan, Journal of Army Life, 1874


Port Orford, June 17, 1856.
    Friend Bush--As there has been so much said against the southern volunteers, and the citizens generally of that portion of Oregon, in some sweeping remarks which I have seen going the round in the newspapers, I feel it a duty incumbent upon me as a citizen of Southern Oregon to say a word in behalf of those people, and to show, if possible, how far they have been instrumental in bringing about the war in Southern Oregon, who has been the aggressor, or whether they are entitled to the distinguished appellation of "lawless vagabonds."
    I arrived at Big Bend, on Rogue River, June 8th, and found George, Limpy and some of the lower river chiefs, with all of their bands, encamped with the regulars, where they had gone for protection, being closely pursued by the volunteers under Maj. Latshaw. I requested all the chiefs to make a statement, separately, whey they went to war with the whites. After comparing their statements, which so far agreed as to verify each other, I was enabled to glean the following facts:
    Early in the spring, '55, Old John sent a party of his warriors over to Indian Creek, to kill and rob the whites, and to purchase all the arms and ammunition they could get. They killed and robbed several of our citizens, and returned to the Illinois Valley and reported that the Klamath Indians had murdered some of our people on Indian Creek, declaring that they had not participated in the murder, and claimed the protection guaranteed them by the treaty, which was granted, and the agent, with a detachment of U.S. troops, went over to Illinois Valley to maintain peace, and to take the Indians to the Reserve. Now, this murder, fairly [sic] saddled upon the Klamath Indians, and the whites lulled into comparative safety under this impression, resumed their different vocations, never supposing for a moment that the murderers were around their firesides every day, and sharing their hospitality.
    Old John, now finding the public quieted, and himself entirely free from suspicion, sent another party up Applegate Creek about the first of July, to murder and rob the whites of arms and ammunition, thus preparing for a general outbreak. This party killed and robbed two white men, and charged the same to the Klamath Indians, which the whites did not hesitate to believe. Now, to prove that the Klamath Indians did commit these murders, and to make his story plausible, Old John sent a party of warriors over to the Klamath and Humbug, there to murder and rob our citizens in the vicinity of a Klamath village, which they did, joined by a few of those Indians, killing and robbing a number of our citizens, and returning with their spoils, horses, clothing and money, went on the Reserve and claimed protection, saying that they had purchased them from the Klamath Indians. An armed force was then stationed on the Reserve to protect them and others from the enraged citizens, who came over in a body from Yreka and demanded a surrender of the murderers. There being at that time no positive proof that these Indians were engaged in that murder, they were not surrendered; however, there were two of John's party arrested on suspicion, by Capt. Smith, and held in custody and demanded by the proper authorities from California, when they were taken to Yreka and there given a fair and impartial trial. There being no evidence of their guilt, they were acquitted and told to return to their homes, when they were pursued by some persons who had witnessed the trial and killed on the road near Yreka. One of these Indians (John's son) aided in the massacre of those white men on Humbug; the other did not, but shared the spoils with them.
    Now, here is a secret war carried on for months, in which twenty-odd of our best citizens have been massacred before a hand is raised to retaliate or redress our wrongs. Soon after the massacre on Humbug, Maj. Lupton, of Jackson, with a small party, discovered a trail leading from that direction towards Butte Creek, and supposing it to be the trail of the murderers, pursued and attacked a ranch near the mouth of Butte Creek, where there were a number of men, women and children killed.
    Here our citizens are branded as barbarians for killing women and children, but those who are acquainted with Indian warfare know that when attacked, the men, women and children crowd together, and there is seldom, if ever, a battle fought in which there are not more or less women and children killed. I cannot, for a moment, think there is a white man in southern, or any other portion of Oregon, so base as to willfully shoot a woman or child. If we have any such men, I should not hesitate to say they were not only lawless, but heartless vagabonds, and destitute of all those noble traits which constitute the high-toned gentleman. I learned from a volunteer that the scalp of a white man was found in the ranch after the battle on Butte Creek, which shows that they were not so innocent as is represented. The day following the battle, Old John's party murdered those families on the road between Rogue River and Grave Creek, consequently Lupton's battle is the alleged cause of the war in Southern Oregon, but we find old John, several days previous, using his utmost endeavors, by offering large rewards, and finally by threats, to induce Sam's party to join them in hostilities against the whites, and there is no reasonable ground to suppose he would not have committed those murders if there had never been a gun fired upon Butte Creek, particularly as there was no relation existing between John's party and those on Butte Creek more than [that] they were all Indians.
    Now, I would ask whether the acts of John's party for several months previous to their outbreak do not indicate hostilities in Southern Oregon, or whether there is a man in the Territory who would desire any further demonstration of their hostile intention than the cold-blooded murder of twenty-odd of our best citizens; if there is, I am frank to say he is not an American at heart, and destitute of those philanthropic feelings which should unite us as a band of brothers in this isolated portion of the world. More anon.
Your obdt. servant,
    R. B. METCALFE.
Oregon Statesman, Salem, July 8, 1856, page 2


    . . . old John has not made a treaty. Neither will he treat, so long as he succeeds as he has with the aid of other tribes. . . .
    Old John attacked Capt. Smith, surrounded him for two days, without water, until Col. Buchanan came to his relief.--when lo, old John to save his ammunition had placed ropes over the limbs of the trees, and informed Capt. Smith that he wished him to "marmuck" rope--he was going to hang the regulars. Under Col. Buchanan, Palmer was obliged to take a gun and defend himself. A report of this affair you will see in the Statesman. The Indians are not afraid of regulars, and will fight them at any time, but it is not so with volunteers; they will not stand their ground with them. The result was no treaty with the Indians, and no prospect for any. The Indians are determined to fight as much so now as they ever were. Old John and Enos will make no treaty with Palmer, but will as soon as they can take his scalp. . . .
    Gen. Wool, in his letters in order to show the people here to be barbarous, says that extermination of the Indians has been advocated and practiced; this is true, and the cause he has overlooked. Old John and Enos both refused to talk, refused to treat, but declare that they are determined to fight until every last Boston is defeated. It is these bands that we are now fighting, and it is necessary to exterminate them, because according to their own declaration they will cease fighting only with death.
Letter from S. F. Chadwick to Joseph Lane, June 20, 1856, Jo Lane Papers


    June 20th, five of Old John's Indians came into Col. Buchanan's camp, at Port Orford, with a message from John, stating that he wished to come in provided he could be received on the same terms that Limpy and George had. He also requested that Col. Buchanan, if he saw proper to receive him, to send out 25 pack animals with provisions for his use, and enough regular troops to protect him from the "Bostons," as he feared to travel, under the circumstances, without an escort. Accordingly on the 24th Col. Buchanan sent out a command of 110 men, under Maj. Reynolds, to meet him with the required supplies; however, previous to this he had sent two of the Indians back to John to tell him to come in, and that he would meet him at or near the bark shanty, the other three of which were held in durance vile, one of John's sons being included in the number. They stated that John was encamped on Illinois River, two or three miles above its mouth, and that he would leave Rogue River on the 23rd, and take up his line of march towards Port Orford. I think the probability is that John was acting in good faith, but we heard nothing more of him before we left Port Orford. His messengers stated that Enos was with them, but would not come in, and that they could not bring him in alive, as he exercised the utmost caution, going to the woods to sleep alone at night, and keeping his gun continuously by his side.
"Volunteer," letter of June 30, 1856, Oregon Statesman, Salem, July 8, 1856, page 2


    The origin of this war can be all traced back to a "Shasta Chief" called "Old John." He is the beginning, and until he is captured there will be no end to Indian hostilities in Southern Oregon. The general massacre that occurred in this valley on the 9th day of October 1855 was not as many suppose the impulse of the moment, but the continuation of a long-concocted and deep-laid plot. The spring of 1855 in the month of May, I think, the Indians had a general meeting at J. B. Wagner's ranch on Inapoo [Louse] Creek. The tribes of Old Sam, George, Limpy, John and lower Rogue Rivers, Grave Creeks, Cow Creeks and in fact all the Indians in the whole surrounding country met there, as they said, to have a great gambling spin, when in fact the real object of the meeting was to lay plans and schemes for a general outbreak, as soon as they could agree on the time of commencement. . . .
    But a war was inevitable, and it had to come, although it could all have been prevented in time by taking out Old John and five or six of his men and hanging them. But no, the poor Indian must not suffer in that way, before him and his followers had taken the lives of two or three hundred whites. I do not think that the tribes of Rogue River and Cow Creek wished for war, but were rather forced into it by Old John. All of the different tribes were afraid of him as they were of the devil himself. And then he pictured to them in such glowing colors the result of such a glorious campaign, such fine times as they would have killing the "Bostons." Then they would take possession of the country. And even went so far as to make a calculation on the net proceeds of the spoils and the manner of distributing them. At the time of the breakout Old George and his tillicums were camped at Wagner's place. Some of Old John's band commenced the thing early on the morning of the 9th October, sweeping everything before them until they came to Wagner's place.
Letter from James H. Twogood to Joseph Lane, June 20, 1856, Jo Lane Papers


    All the hostile bands, with the exception of "John's"--who has about thirty warriors--and the Chetco and Pistol River Indians, numbering, perhaps, fifty warriors, have come in, and unconditionally surrendered themselves as prisoners of war. The two bands last named have sent word they will surrender, and come in, when word is sent them where to go. The old chief "John" has sent in two of his sons asking the retention of other bands at Port Orford until he can get there with his people--that he is tired of war, and has resolved to seek for peace and will submit to go on the Reservation.
Letter of June 23, 1856 from Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs to Commissioner of Indian Affairs George W. Manypenny, frames 773-776, National Archives Microfilm Publications Microcopy No. 234 Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs 1824-81, Reel 609 Oregon Superintendency, 1856.


    We have at length full confirmation of the fact that a battle was fought on Rogue River, between Captain Smith's command and the Indians, in which Captain Smith lost eleven killed and twenty-one wounded. The report heretofore published is, in the main, correct. We obtain this news from the Yreka Union extra, of the 18th June. It is made up from the extra of the Jacksonville Sentinel of the 14th. There had been a consultation with the savages about the 1st of June, which resulted in nothing. The report proceeds:
    About the 5th of June, Captain Smith, in command of some eighty regulars, advanced about fifteen miles above Col. Buchanan's command, and encamped near the Big Bend of Rogue River. In the evening, old George informed the Captain that the movements of the Indians looked suspicious. Captain Smith, after dark, moved his camp further up the mountainside, and posted double guards.
    During the night the Indians, under old John and Enos, surrounded the camp, and about sunrise in the morning fired on the guard, killing eleven men and wounding twenty-one. The battle continued until next day about noon--thirty-six hours. During the battle two Rogue River Indians were with Captain Smith, and stated that they understood the conversation that was going on between John and Enos. They heard John say, "Enos, you have always told me that you could whip the soldiers; now, if you can, why don't you charge on them with your knives and kill them, and save your powder and balls?" He accordingly made the charge, but did not effect anything. During the battle old John was seen swinging ropes, and was heard to say that he intended to hang Captain Smith. The Indians obtained the body of one of the dead soldiers and hung it up, and tied a stick on the shoulder to represent a gun.
"Indian Hostilities on Rogue River," Sacramento Daily Union, June 24, 1856, page 1


    Whilst at Capt. Augur's camp, two sons of old chief John came in to ascertain the condition upon which his band would be received. By them I sent a message reiterating the conditions offered by Col. Buchanan, and explaining to them the advantage likely to accrue to the tribe by yielding to the terms, which were to come and go to the Coast Reservation under an escort of U.S. troops. The young men (John's sons) agreed to use their influence to induce this band to come in, and to give the chief the benefit of a full knowledge of the treatment extended to the Rogue River Indians on the Grand Ronde Reservation. One of the messengers who came with Mr. Metcalfe from the Grand Ronde, and with whom the old chief was intimately acquainted, was sent to have an interview with him. The impression of this messenger was that John and his entire band would come in, and a day was fixed for them to repair to the mouth of Rogue River, a point to which Major Reynolds, Capt. Jones, and Lieut. Drysdale with their respective companies were respectively directed to repair and meet them and the Chetcos, Pistol River band, and a few of those residing along Rogue River, below the Cosotoul village. These bands with those already surrendered comprise the entire hostile parties in southern Oregon. The encampment of John's party was said to be in the forks below Illinois and Rogue rivers a distance, owing to the nature of the country requiring from 4 to 6 days to go and return with their people to the point indicated. Having adjusted these matters, I returned with my party to Port Orford, where I found the people, Ind. agt. and Indians equally jealous and suspicious of each other.
Letter, Superintendent of Indian Affairs Joel Palmer to Commissioner of Indian Affairs, July 3, 1856. Frames 782-804, National Archives Microfilm Publications Microcopy No. 234 Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs 1824-81, Reel 609 Oregon Superintendency, 1856.


    INDIAN WAR AT THE SOUTH.--It is said, and we suppose believed by many, that the Indian war south is at an end. The steamer Columbia brought up from Port Orford, on her last trip, about six hundred Indians, the most of them squaws and children. They were accompanied by the war chiefs George and Limpy, and constituted their bands. They are the most miserable-looking set of Indians we have yet seen. It is stated that chief John has also come in with his band and is now en route for the reservation overland. These Indians were taken up by the steamer Jennie Clark, and will, we learn, be taken immediately on to the reservation in Yamhill County. They are under escort and protection of a company of regulars under the command of Captain Jones.
Weekly Oregonian, Portland, July 12, 1856, page 2


    The Indian war in Southern Oregon is just closed by Col Buchanan and Gen Palmer fairly begging Old John out of his boots.
Letter from William J. Martin to Joseph Lane, July 15, 1856, Jo Lane Papers


(From an extra to the Jacksonville Sentinel)
JACKSONVILLE, June 9, 1856.   
    A report was received here yesterday evening that Capt. Smith, with 80 or 90 regulars, had been attacked by the Indians in the vicinity of the Meadows, and had suffered severe loss.
    Report says that the bands of Limpy, George and John came to Capt. Smith's camp a few days since, for the purpose of making a treaty. Capt. Smith informed them that the only terms on which he would treat was that they should give up their arms and leave the river, and go to the Yamhill reserve. Limpy and George consented to these terms, but John refused, saying this was his land and he intended to remain here. Smith said to him that the country would be filled with soldiers, and all his tribe hunted down and killed. John and his band then left Smith's camp.
    The next day, thirty of his warriors, unarmed, returned to Smith's camp, ostensibly to have another talk; but having been warned by friendly Indians that they intended to steal guns from the soldiers, he would not permit them to come into his camp. They went away, and soon after John's entire band attacked Smith's command. A company of volunteers soon came to Smith's assistance, when the enemy was routed and driven into the river, and it is said quite a number were killed and wounded, and nine taken prisoner.
    It is said that Capt. Smith received three flesh wounds. Twelve of his men are reported killed, and twenty-five wounded.
New York Herald, July 15, 1856, page 3



   
INDIANS IN SOUTHERN OREGON.--The notorious chief "Old John," as appears from a recent letter written from Port Orford to the Oregon Statesman, will accept of any terms except those of a belligerent character, and he has associated himself and band with a few other bands occupying the coast south of Rogue River, with the determination to fight until they are "cleaned out."
Sacramento Daily Union, July 18, 1856, page 1


     . . . for months previous to the open outbreak, the chiefs had complained again and again of their grievances. They asked most piteously, "Why do the Bostons want to shoot us? We do not want war, but peace and protection." On one occasion, when assembled at Fort Lane, they desired the document upon which the treaty was written might be read aloud, and, as sentence after sentence was uttered, they appealed to those present, and repeatedly asked, Have we not kept that--have we not kept that? and so on to the end of every article. At the same time, whites were shooting them with impunity whenever they had an opportunity. So many were cut off in this way, that old Chief John refused to make treaty, because (said he,) "I had more men killed during peace than war," and yet, when in retaliation, a white man was killed, it was published abroad as savage outrage, for which they ought to be exterminated.
John Beeson, letter to the editor of the True Californian, August 12, 1856, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-1880, National Archives Microcopy 234, Reel 609, NADP Document D40


    It appears that Old John, when he came in to treat, was induced to do so on account of presents given him and his warriors; that all his best rifles and all his six-shooters were cached in the mountains, and that a part of his band, of about twelve or fifteen warriors, are still on Illinois River with their squaws and children, committing depredations, robbing houses, killing stock, and watching their cached guns. There is but little doubt of a telegraphic line being established between the Indians on the reserve and those hostile Indians in the mountains.
"Later from Southern Oregon," Sacramento Daily Union, August 23, 1856, page 2


     Mr. Editor: In a late Oregon Statesman [above], there is a letter from R. B. Metcalfe, whom the editor in a note informs us is a "gentleman of character and honor, kinsman of ex-Governor Metcalfe, of Kentucky, and Indian Agent for Southern Oregon."
      The letter purports to be written in defense of the people against certain statements going the rounds to their prejudice, and is mainly occupied with proof to show that the Indians under Old Chief "John," were aggressors in the war.
      I am somewhat acquainted with the circumstances, and believing that the Indians as well as the worthy citizens of Southern Oregon have been greatly injured by such a perversion of facts as Mr. Metcalfe's letter contains. I am induced to offer the following by way of correction.
      I will not charge Mr. Metcalfe with falsehood, but for argument's sake, admit, all that he has said about the chiefs urging the tribes to combine for war. Yet I must observe, and I believe every high-minded citizen will agree with me, how unfair to give such a one-sided account against a venerable chief, and against a people who could not write a refutation of falsehood.
      Why did not Mr. Metcalfe, in his account of the origin of the war, tell of the doings of both parties--how a white wretch shot the husband of the chief's daughter, because he would not give her up to his lust? How his own son was kept in irons for weeks on a charge believed to be false, and, after a fair trial, was dismissed by the authorities, but taken by the lawless and cruelly put to death, and how that numbers of men made it a point for months previous to open war to shoot Indians wherever they could do it with safety to themselves; and that the chiefs made complaints again and again, but could get neither redress or protection; that not a house was burned, or a woman or child injured by Indians until after their homes were burnt and their families destroyed.

John Beeson, letter to the editor of the Oregon Statesman, October 8, 1856, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-1880, National Archives Microcopy 234, Reel 609, NADP Document D45


    . . . it has been notorious that for one white person killed a whole tribe has been put to death. And there are scores of men in Oregon who have made their boast of shooting Indians, not because of crime, but merely because they were Indians.
    The old chief John objected to make treaty with the authorities, unless they could assure him of more thorough protection, for, said he, "I had more men shot in the same time during peace than in war; then we were off our guard, but now we look out for enemies."
"B" (John Beeson), "The Indians and the Murdered Missionary Whitman," New York Daily Tribune, October 10, 1856, page 6



    ASPECT OF INDIAN AFFAIRS.--Reports are daily reaching us, says the Standard, from the reserves along the coast, that much disaffection reigns among those located there under agents. Old John and his band are becoming very restless and impatient of restraint. He has declared that he was not satisfied, and that he would disarm Capt. Smith and his men, and then make his way through the Willamette Valley to his old stamping ground in the Rogue River Valley. Although we do not fear his threats, yet his language is indicative of anything but a permanent peace. Several bands have run away from the reserve; some have been pursued and induced to come back, while others are still left to go as they list.
"Additional from the North," Sacramento Daily Union, November 3, 1856, page 1


    TROUBLE WITH THE INDIANS IN OREGON.--We find the following in the Jacksonville Sentinel, of August 15th :
    We learn that a portion of Old John's band and the Shastas have left the Yamhill Reserve. It is said that they stole all the Clickitats' horses, and left for parts unknown. It is thought, however, that they have come south, as they have been heard to declare that they would yet have revenge on the whites in Rogue River Valley. A house was robbed in Umpqua Valley, recently. The proprietor of the house was absent, and arrived home in the night, before they had completed their work. They had carried almost everything outside, when they were surprised by his return. They made off with a gun or two and a lot of ammunition.
    We would not willingly raise a false alarm, but we have our information from a source which seems reliable. The report is in a measure confirmed by the few Indians seen and the signs of much larger parties on Galice Creek and lower Rogue River. It will be well for persons in exposed localities to be on their guard. It is said that these Indians have procured considerable quantities of ammunition from the regulars on the Reserve, and they no doubt have plenty of arms cached in their old range, for it is well known that they did not deliver up all their arms when they surrendered. It is to be hoped that we will not again be troubled with the presence of our old red foes, but they may yet make us much difficulty.
Sacramento Daily Union,
August 21, 1857, page 3


Siletz Agency
    Oct. 13th 1857
Dear Sir
    About ten days since Old John and two of his boys started out with the declaration that their hearts were sick and that they were not going to stay here and die with sickness, that they had rather die by
bullets and were evidently going down below where I had two or three men sowing wheat, to murder them, when they met two Siletz Indians, drew their revolvers and fired upon them, killing one of them on the ground, and when I called upon Old John to know why he did so he said that it was none of my business; that they would kill who they pleased, and when I asked Cultus Jim (Old John's son) for his revolver John sprang to his feet perfectly wild with rage, drew his revolver half out and told Jim to keep his revolver and fight with it. I then saw that he was determined on another outbreak, and that nothing would prevent it, but rigid and prompt measures on my part. I therefore sent an express to Capt. Augur for a force sufficient to disarm all the Indians on the reservation. When the troops arrived I called upon John for his arms, but he refused to give them up. I then requested Lt. Garber to accompany me with his detachment of twenty-five men with the view of arresting John and Cultus Jim and taking their arms from them, but when we arrived in sight of John's house he and his boys ran to the brush, and we were only able to get two small revolvers, which were given up by those who remained at the house. We then returned to our quarters disgusted with our success. The following day Cultus Jim came down to a camp near the agency, when Lt. Garber and myself went down to arrest him. He refused to be arrested and after making a desperate resistance drew a concealed revolver, ran on the opposite side of his horse from me and fired at me the ball passed near my head at which moment Sgt. Clark arrived, and he, Lt. Garber and myself fired upon him almost at the same instant, all three of the balls taking effect, killing him on the spot. Since that time the excitement has died away and the Indians have given up nearly all of their arms, say twenty guns, eight revolvers and seven other pistols. The Indians have promised to give up all of their arms which I think will be done in a few days.
Very respectfully
    Yr. obt. servt.
        R. B. Metcalfe
            Ind. Agent
Col. J. W. Nesmith
    Supt. Ind. Affrs.
        Salem O.T.
Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 15; Letters Received, 1857, No. 261.


Portland O.T. Oct 28th 1857       
    Dear General
        A short time after you left my agency where you found everything quiet, Old John started out with the declaration that his heart was sick seeing so many of his people die, and that he intended to kill some person--that he wanted to die by bullets and was not going to stay on the reserve and die with sickness. They were evidently going down to the lower prairie to murder some white men who I had sowing wheat, but on the road they met with a Siletz Indian, drew their revolvers and killed him on the spot, then returned. I called upon John to know why he had murdered the Siletz Indian, and he gave me to understand that it was none of my business, that he would kill who he pleased. I then told them they must give up their arms, when John told his boy (Cultus Jim) to keep his arms and fight with them. I then called upon the military to assist me in disarming them, but when we went to John's house he and his boys left for the brush, leaving word that they would give up their arms, which they did the following day; but Cultus Jim, who had been the principal man in the murder of the Siletz Indian, had to be arrested and punished. Lt. Garber and myself attempted to arrest him when he drew a concealed revolver and fired at me. The ball passed near my head but did no harm. I then returned the fire, shot him three times and killed him dead on the ground. Since that, all is quiet and they have given up twenty-five rifles, eight revolvers and nine single-bore pistols; notwithstanding Lt. Sheridan said they had but two or three guns. Peace must and shall be maintained in my agency if the military will cooperate with me. The [state] constitution will carry and a free state in spite of our efforts for a slave constitution. If there are any more appointments to be made in the Ind Dept please have Geo H Abbott appointed agent or subagent, and I will be responsible for his faithful performance of duty. He is a good Democrat, and one whose past services entitle him to the situation.
    No news of interest except I learn our friend Hibben is about to make a small investment in dry goods, which we will of course deny, but I am inclined to believe the report from the history he gave me of the old lady. (On a horn! Hibben)
                    Very Respectfully
                        Your friend
                            & Obt Servt
                                R. B. Metcalfe
Hon Jos Lane
Washington
    D.C.
The parenthetical line above was added in a different hand--presumably Hibben's. Jo Lane Papers


    October 30th, 1857.-- . . . There has lately been a little excitement among the Indians on the Coast Reservation, growing out of the killing of two Siletz Indians by Cultus Jim, of Old John's band. There being much sickness among the latter tribe, they superstitiously believed that these two men, who were medicine men or doctors, were causing it by their witchcraft. Cultus Jim accordingly waylaid and killed them--or, at least, killed one and wounded the other. A row being the consequence, the Indian Agent, Bob Metcalfe, requested all the Indians who had firearms to surrender them. Old John's band at first refused to comply, but subsequently promised to obey. A reinforcement of thirty troops having in the meantime arrived from Fort Hoskins, making, with those previously at the Siletz, fifty men, under the command of Lieutenant H. H. Garber. About the time that half the arms were given up by Old John, the murderer, Cultus Jim (the chief's son), was found by the Agent, who, in company with Lieutenant Garber and a sergeant, attempted his arrest, Jim resisting and firing a pistol at Metcalfe, was instantly shot by the latter and Lieutenant Garber. John subsequently threatened an attack on the troops, but things in that section seem quiet at present.
Dr. Rodney Glisan, Journal of Army Life, 1874, pages 391+


    Among the scattering tribes that were known to be on the mountains was a small band, supposed to consist of fifty or sixty persons, who had not been seen or heard of for months. The chief was known as Old John, an aged, but at the same time a very sagacious and energetic man. He was greatly esteemed by his people, and under ordinary circumstances would have commanded respect in any community. Numerous were the reports concerning his great age and wonderful exploits. Some supposed he was nearly a hundred years of age.
    On a certain occasion, during the first war, he, with another Indian, had been taken by a fraudulent offer of friendship; but on finding themselves entrapped they broke from their captors; and though thirty rifles were fired after them, the venerable man made his escape, while his companion fell, mortally wounded. For months afterward he never slept in his tent, but always retired to some secret spot in the distance. He was faithful in the observance of the treaty, and often has lamented the necessity his people were under of retaliating upon the whites.
    The circumstances that caused him to leave the main body and fly to the mountains are peculiarly afflictive and aggravating. One of his daughters was taken possession of by a Squatter Sovereign; and when her husband went to the cabin to obtain her restoration, he was shot dead at the door. This occurred long before the war was thought of; and on account of the venerable age and noble bearing of the chief, to whose tribe and family the murdered man belonged, considerable notice was taken of the circumstance; and some of the citizens proposed to subscribe ten dollars each, and raise a sufficient sum to indemnify the sheriff against any loss he might incur by arresting the murderer. Upon hearing of this, a still greater number set the law at defiance, and declared he should not be punished; and afterward the murderer himself was elected as a captain of the volunteers.
    As the chief perceived that this outrage was not approved by those holding authority, and as several of the most respectable citizens expressed sympathy, he rose above the brutishness that wronged him; and in the spirit of a true philosopher, sought to become reconciled to what he could not help.
    But another circumstance, if possible still more outrageous, soon followed in the track of the first. His son, and another young man of his tribe, were accused of a murder committed in California, and a number of miners came over to the reserve to demand them for execution. Their relatives, as well as the officers of the fort, having good reasons for believing them innocent, refused to give them up. Another party, of greater numbers, and well armed, next appeared, threatening to storm the fort and kill the officers, rather than not have the accused; and it was fully believed that there would be a collision. Of all the numerous statements in reference to this matter, I did not hear one openly expressed but what was condemnatory of Captain Smith. He was denounced as a traitor--as one who was in league with the Indians, and who ought to be shot. I know that there were many who thought otherwise; but owing to the danger of opposing popular sentiment, they yielded their right and freedom of speech, and left the captain and the accused to whatever might befall them.
    Nevertheless the brave commander knew his duty; and nobly he discharged it, telling that infuriated and lawless band that they should not take those two accused Indians but over his own dead body. The firmness of Captain Smith on this occasion deserves commendation; for it was evidence of magnanimity and true heroism of the highest order. This truly grand position was not assumed in the midst of applauding multitudes, and under circumstances that would gratify his ambition and add to his fame. But it was taken in behalf of the poor and the despised, and in the presence of contempt and threatening from those who had usurped an almost irresponsible power. It was at the risk of life, with no prospect of future honor, or the world's applause; and but for this humble record, the noble deed might never have met the public eye until the great day when all secrets shall be made known, and all actions meet their reward.
    It was finally arranged that the accused should be given up to the authorities of California, on a requisition from the governor of that state; that they should have a just trial, and be fairly dealt with, Captain Smith engaging to keep them in custody until the requisition could be obtained. The chief and his people were assured that the young men should be duly cared for, and, if acquitted, should be returned to their families.
    In the course of six or eight weeks the requisition arrived; and by an escort of troops the prisoners were guarded seventy miles to the place of trial. They were acquitted, and duly dismissed. The soldiers took them in charge for their homeward journey, when they were set upon by their accusers, and cruelly put to death.
    There is reason to believe that this charge of murder was only a pretense to gratify a cruel propensity. Against this dominating spirit neither innocence nor the laws could furnish a more efficient protection than a spider's web against the winter's storm.
    When the aged chief became acquainted with the fate of his son and his companion, he was astonished and outraged beyond the power of language to describe; for he had had full confidence in the sincerity and power of the military to secure their present protection and ultimate justice. He had been impressed with the idea that our Great Father, the President, and all his men, the soldiers, were the red man's friends; but, in the bitterness of grief, he saw that they were either unable or unwilling to save them from their enemies. He had long foreseen the gradual but certain destruction of his people; but he now saw that the great train of extermination was in rapid progress. Another conviction was also forced upon him. He saw that the "bad Bostons" were no more under the control of the Great Father than bad Indians were under his own. And, doubtless, the many cases of insult and wrong which he had borne and witnessed, and from a repetition of which he had no guaranty, crowded on his memory, inciting him to vengeance, and strengthening his resolution to be his own defender. Will anyone who believes that man has a right to defend himself, say that the chief had not the strongest and truest reason for war? Compared with his wrongs, the petty infringements of which our fathers complained sink into insignificance, and become trivial.
    Accordingly, he took his people and fled to the mountains. He knew the power and number of the whites too well to think of sustaining a war with them; and, therefore, his chief object was to keep out of the way. But this was extremely difficult; for, during several months in the year, the mountains, being extremely bleak and covered with snow, offered nothing for subsistence. All the principal valleys, and many of the smaller ones, and even the mountain gulches, were occupied by miners or farmers; and he could not go far in any direction without danger of being seen; and, moreover, such a number of persons, without stores of provision, could not long subsist in any given place away from their fishing grounds; for game was not plenty, and berries were scarce.
    The fact that Old John and his men were still at large filled the settlers with constant terror, for they were among the most skillful and courageous of all the tribes. No one felt safe in traveling from home, while many were anticipating that at some evening twilight, or early dawn, the startling war whoop would be heard in the valley, and the people would wake to be massacred in the light of their own burning dwellings; and they best knew what good reason they had to expect such treatment.
    Numerous companies had been out in pursuit of Old John; and although no one knew that either he or his men had done a single hostile act during the several months of war, he was marked for destruction. No thought was taken of the wrongs he had suffered, or of the reason of his absence; but he was commonly spoken of as an implacable savage, and the most dreaded of all the enemy. It was often said: "If we could but kill Old John, all would be safe."
    The following incident will show how near a considerable portion of his tribe were to being taken. In the early part of January 1856, a company of men went up the mountains in search of the Old Chief. They had made their encampment in a convenient place; and for several days sent out scouts, two or three in a company, in all directions. On one occasion, two of these scouts fell in with a fresh trail; and following it up, came to a cabin. Gladly would they have concealed themselves; but they were perceived by the occupants, and had no alternative but to assume courage, and make the best of their discovery. They found the tenement in the occupation of several Indian women and children. Therefore they pretended to be miners in search of gold; and to ensure the confidence of the women, they made them an offer of the two mules, with their provisions. This liberality was induced by the fear that the warriors, who could not be far off, might suddenly return and kill them. They persuaded the women to go with them to camp, promising to make a treaty of peace. They were soon met by the returning warriors, and their lives were only spared through the intercessions of the women.
    They found that this cabin consisted of logs, and was also covered with the same, upon which were brush and earth. It was guarded by a deep ditch, with slanting cuts for the rifles, so that they could defend themselves, and be in tolerable safety from the shots of an enemy.
    On the report of the scouts at their camp, it was resolved to get a reinforcement, and take the place by storm. This was, undoubtedly, for some special object rather than necessity, since the Indians were anxious for peace, and had spared those whom they had in power, on promise of a treaty being made. Accordingly, "a battalion of the army," "with a great number of spirited citizens from Jacksonville" --I quote from the papers of the day-- "marched to the attack."
    But upon approach, it was found that they could not get within the range of rifles, without danger; for you must know that these refined warriors had an especial daintiness in regard to the manner of their being killed; and they themselves particularly disliked to be shot. This, in connection with their common treatment of the Indians, shows what respect they had for the Golden Rule, and why so many high clerical and canonical functionaries should have patronized them.
    But to return to the battle. As one of the besiegers fell dead, and others were wounded, without making any impression on the besieged, it was resolved to send to Fort Lane for a cannon, and blow them up with bombshells. Pursuant to this resolution, on the afternoon of the following day, the cannon was duly poised; and its awful echoes boomed over the mountains and ravines, rousing the terrified Indians, who had never heard the like before. But although the firing was continued until the curtain of night fell and closed the scene, only one shell entered the cabin, killing two, and wounding others. The roar of battle then ceased, but only to be resumed, with greater vigor, in the morning; and the weary troops, some of whom had been on guard more or less for four days, once more slept upon their arms.
    The number of the besiegers was variously estimated at from 200 to 400, including the "spirited citizens"; that of the besieged was about 30, including women and children.
    The morning sun arose; and, lo! it was soon discovered that the Indians had retreated beyond the reach of bombshells, carrying along all their arms and ammunition, leaving only the deserted logs, instead of human bodies, for the balls and bombs to fall upon and scatter. This is conclusive proof of one thing, if not two. It shows either that the white soldier-men slept very soundly, or that they winked at their escape.
    As might be expected, there was a strong reaction among the "spirited citizens" at this general explosion of their brilliant achievements, past and prospective. They put a bombshell in their cannon, and it came out a bubble; and, to their dismay, they found that even women and little children were too wide awake for them. In short, they were quite mistaken when they thought that Indians had no more sagacity or self-respect than to lie still and sleep in the night, only to be bombarded and blown up in the morning. This state of things was particularly annoying, in view of the fact that the snow was melting from the mountains, and the Indians, who had been long confined in the meadows, would soon be at large.
    And what was still more alarming, the Indians had gained caution by suffering, skill by practice, and courage by success; and they were, in the beginning of 1856, after months of continuous war, better prepared for its prosecution than when it first commenced. They had intercepted several pack trains, from which they had obtained plentiful supplies of arms and ammunition. But what tended more than all other things to give them power was a sense of right. While, on the other hand, there was a great lack of the moral element, as a basis for the volunteers to act upon. Many of them were far from being assured of the righteousness of their cause, and not a few who had at first sanctioned the war, and aided in its operations, became convinced that the Indians were in the right; and rather than stand in the wrong against them, they had left the ranks, and thereby forfeited their claims for previous service. It was owing to causes of this kind that so little was done during the winter, for notwithstanding the newspaper accounts of "victories gained and battles won," it was notorious that the enemy were, in reality, the victors, and that the rifles' crack from a few Indians in ambush would cause large bodies of well-armed and mounted men to fly for safety.

John Beeson, A Plea for the Indians, 1858, page 63



Siletz Agency April 19, 1858.
Dear Sir,
    Lt. Gentry succeeded in arresting Old John & his son Adam, which I consider the most fortunate event which has occurred on the reservation, and I beg leave to state here that I am highly gratified with your prompt action in the matter. I have given permission to Kit and her child, Fan and two of Adam's wives with one child to accompany John & Adam to Vancouver, and earnestly hope you will not allow any more to leave the reservation.
Very respectfully
    Your obdt. servt.
        R. B. Metcalfe
            Ind. Agent
To
    Capt. C. C. Augur
        Comd. Fort Hoskins
            O.T.
Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 16; Letters Received, 1857, No. 119, enclosure to No. 117.



Headquarters Fort Hoskins O.T.
    April 20, 1858.
Colonel,
    Not being certain if Agent Metcalfe has as yet reported to you the circumstances of Old John's arrest, I enclose you a copy of a letter received from him last night in relation to it.
    Deeming it essential to have John out of the way, I have sent him to Vancouver, to await a final disposition of him. I have recommended that he with his immediate family be sent to Benicia, or some other military post in California, and should you concur in this perhaps you had better so inform the General. John seems very anxious to see you, and I have taken it upon myself to promise him that he should do so at a very early day.
    Lt. Gentry will give you this and afford you such information as you may desire.
Very respectfully, Colonel
    Your obdt. servt.
        C. C. Augur
            Capt. 4th Infy.
                Comdg.
Colonel J. W. Nesmith
    Supt. Ind. Affairs
        Salem O.T.
Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 16; Letters Received, 1857, No. 117.



Siletz Agency O.T.
    April 21st 1858
Dear Sir
    I sign all the vouchers except that for the horse which I have never seen nor heard of before. I have no use for him, and will send him out the first opportunity. I fear I will not be able to go out by the first of May. I want to take out my quarterly returns with me and cannot complete them until sometime in May. There is some excitement here in consequence of the arrest of Old John & his son Adam, whom I had put in irons and sent to Vancouver. I am certain that the timely arrest of John prevented an outbreak. There were some Inds. here from the Grand Ronde sent by Sam to effect a combination with all the coast tribes and John's people. This I have ascertained to a certainty, and if Miller does not keep a strict watch over Sam they will effect it yet.
    The Indians may deny this but my information is from a reliable source. I will write you more fully on this subject soon.
Very respectfully
    Yr. friend
        R. B. Metcalfe
            Ind. Agent
To
    Col. J. W. Nesmith
        Supt. Ind. Affrs.
            Salem O.T.
Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 16; Letters Received, 1857, No. 118.



Office Supt. Ind. Affairs
    Salem, Oregon, April 23rd 1858
Capt.,
    Your letter of the 20th instant enclosing a copy of Agent Metcalfe's letter of the 17th instant reached me last evening. I am highly gratified at your success in capturing Old John, and fully concur with you in the opinion that he had better be taken to some military post in California and will so advise Genl. Clarke by next mail. I did not have the pleasure of seeing Lt. Gentry, as the boat upon which he went down only stopped a few moments at the landing. The person who delivered the letter stated that the lieut. had not time to come up to the office, and the boat left before I could get down. I expect to be at Portland in the course of a month or six weeks, and will go to Vancouver to see John if he still remains there.
Respectfully
    Your obt. svt.
        J. W. Nesmith
            Supt. Ind. Affrs.
Capt. C. C. Augur USA
    4th Infty. Fort Hoskins O.T.
Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 7; Letter Books F:10, page 201.


Office Supt. Ind. Affairs
    Salem, Oregon, April 23rd 1858
Sir
    Your letter of the 13th instant enclosing a copy of a letter to Capt. C. C. Augur 4th Infty. commanding Fort Hoskins reached me on yesterday.
    In relation to the contemplated arrest of Indians upon the Siletz Reservation charged with crime I had an interview with the sheriff and dissuaded him from making the attempt. His authority was from a justice of the peace of Curry County, in which the crimes are alleged to have been committed.
    The sheriff assured me that he would make no further efforts to arrest them until they were indicted and he was armed with a warrant for that purpose issued by one of the judges of the U.S. courts. I told him in that event this office could interpose no obstacle to the arrest. I also expressed to him my disapprobation of any attempt to take a posse of citizens upon the reserve, and that if aid was required it must be invoked from the military. The indictment cannot be procured for some time. I have communicated the substance of the above to Capt. Augur.
    Last evening I received a letter from Capt. Augur communicating the fact that he had at the request of Agent Metcalfe arrested "Old John," the principal chief who was engaged in the late war in Southern Oregon. I am highly gratified with Capt. Augur's act in this particular, and fully concur with him in the opinion that John should be sent to Benicia or some other military post in California for safekeeping. He is a daring, restless man, possessed of great sagacity and courage, and likely at any moment to head a war party.
    Doubtless Capt. Augur has communicated all the facts in relation to the arrest and its necessity to headquarters.
I am very respectfully
    Your obt. servant
        J. W. Nesmith
            Supt. Ind. Affrs. O.&W.T.
To
    Maj. W. W. Mackall
        A. Adj. Genl. U.S.A.
            San Francisco
                Cal.
Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 7; Letter Books F:10, page 202.


Office Supt. Ind. Affairs
    Salem, Oregon, April 25th 1858
Sir,
    Yours of the 21st instant enclosing the vouchers reached me this morning.
    Your act with reference to the arrest of "Old John" and his son has my hearty approval.
    Capt. Augur had communicated the fact to me previous to the receipt of your letter.
    I shall communicate your suspicions relative to the intentions of Sam to Agent Miller, and direct him to keep a close watch upon his conduct.
Respectfully
    Your obt. servant
        J. W. Nesmith
            Supt. Ind. Affrs. O.&W.T.
To
    R. B. Metcalfe Esq.
        Ind. Agent
            Siletz O.T.
Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 7; Letter Books F:10, page 203.


Office Supt. Ind. Affairs
    Salem, Oregon, April 26th 1858
Sir,
    Owing to the turbulent disposition manifested by "Old John" it has been found necessary to arrest him and his son. They have been sent in irons to the guard house at Vancouver for safekeeping, and will probably be sent to Benicia, California.
    Agent Metcalfe reports that he has reliable information to the effect that Sam had sent emissaries to the Siletz for the purpose of consulting with John in relation to a general outbreak, and I have no doubt of the fact. I have therefore to direct that you keep a vigilant watch of Sam's movements, and the moment he gives evidence of an intention to incite an insurrection, or to leave the reservation, you will put him in irons at once, and turn him over to the military for safekeeping. While I desire to deal justly by those people, I am satisfied there is nothing to be gained by a temporizing policy.
    They must and shall be controlled, or fare worse.
Respectfully
    Your obt. servant
        J. W. Nesmith
            Supt. Ind. Affrs. O.&W.T.
To
    John F. Miller Esq.
        Indian Agent
            Grand Ronde Res. O.T.
Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 7; Letter Books F:10, page 203.


    On Wednesday last, the steamer Surprise had on board old "John," chief of the Rogue River Indians, and his son, en route for the guardhouse at Vancouver. The old man has long been known as the implacable foe of the white man, and declared that he "would go to his home where his fathers were buried," but desired before he went to have the blood of Agent Metcalfe. We are informed that he has repeatedly incited the Indians at the Siletz Agency to rebel and leave the place. He is sent to Vancouver by order of Capt. Augur, commanding Fort Hoskins.
Oregon Statesman, Salem, April 27, 1858, page 2


    April 29th, 1858.-- . . . The celebrated chief, John, seemed to be the prime mover in the ferment at the Siletz. Himself and son were arrested about eight days ago, shackled, and taken to Fort Vancouver. The immediate cause of his arrest is said to be a threat to take Agent Metcalfe's life. The Agent's brother, who is living with him, was wounded not long since by an Indian. [page 399]
* * *
    June 29, 1858.-- . . . Mr. W. informs us that Old John, the celebrated Rogue River chief, and son got into a row on their passage to California, in the steamer before the last. It seems that the Sergeant in charge had occasion to take them to the lower deck, when they grappled him and succeeded in securing his pistol, with which they commenced firing, both at the Sergeant and the persons who attempted to come to his rescue, whereupon one of the officers shot Old John through the nose and his son in the leg, which had to be amputated on his reaching San Francisco. It is thought that Old John and son supposed they were being taken to the lower deck to be hung--hence their conduct. It is a very unfortunate affair, and will greatly impair the confidence of the Indians in the whites. [page 405]
Dr. Rodney Glisan, Journal of Army Life, 1874


From the North.
    THE INDIANS.--The famous Indian, "Old John," who has caused Oregonians so much trouble, and his son, were brought into town on Wednesday last, handcuffed, and placed on board the steamer Surprise, to be conveyed to Fort Vancouver, where, we believe, it is designed to have them imprisoned in the fort at that place. John is a bad Indian, and all efforts heretofore used to quell his turbulent disposition or subdue him have proved unavailing. Ever since Mr. Robt. Metcalfe found it necessary to shoot one of his tribe he has been seeking to retaliate on Metcalfe in like manner and to stir up rebellion among the Indians on the reservation. It is to be hoped that this wily son of the forest, now that he is caught, will be taken care of. The fate of the Indian seems to be a hard one, but the too-sympathetic on such subjects should recollect that the earth was designed for the occupancy of those who will make the best use of it. The inexorable law of fate is against them, and it is decreed that they shall disappear before the march of the white man. The feminine portion of John's family accompanied him.--Occidental Messenger [Corvallis], April 24th.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, May 15, 1858, page 2


The Indian "Old John."
    We clip the following from the San Francisco Herald [of June 14]:
    AN INDIAN WAR AT SEA.--Among the passengers from Oregon, by the steamer Columbia, W. L. Dall, commander, was an Indian chief of great celebrity, named John, and his son, a young warrior. They belong to the Upper Rogue River Indians, and are men of the first consequence in the tribe. About four years ago John gathered a hundred of his warriors and ravaged the whole country as far as Fort Walla Walla [John hasn't been reported fighting any farther north than Grave Creek], conquering all who opposed him and wielding undisputed sway. He subsequently defeated Capt. Smith, of the United States dragoons, at the head of a considerable force, and was the hyas skookum tyee of that whole region. Despite, however, his warlike renown, his gallant feats in arms, his personal prowess and his gigantic strength, John was at length compelled to yield, and located on the reservation. It can be very well supposed that his proud spirit chafed at the unaccustomed bondage, and he was lately discovered inciting the other Indians on the reserve to revolt against their conquerors. In order to get rid of so dangerous a firebrand, John was placed on board the steamer Columbia, to be delivered to the military authorities at this place, as a prisoner of war--in company with his son, a "chip of the old block," and an ambitious young warrior, anxious to adorn his girdle with the scalps of his "Boston" enemies. At first the two warriors appeared to take matters in a very phlegmatic and resigned manner, but the sequel showed that they were only bottling up their wrath for a good opportunity. Accordingly, when the Columbia was at anchor off the Humboldt Bay, the chief thought the chance too good to be lost, and about one o'clock in the morning commenced operations by blowing out all the lights in the steerage. They next attempted to steal the revolver of the sergeant, under whose charge they were, but he woke up and caught them in the act. Then commenced the struggle, the old chief throttling the sergeant, who was lying in his berth, and the young warrior striving to assist his father. At this juncture John gave his ear-piercing war whoop, which seemed to have acted with galvanic effect on the passengers, who incontinently quitted their berths and ran as fast as their legs would carry them up the hatchways into the cabin, where each one declared that the Indians had taken the ship, and were slaughtering all the passengers. They had all forgotten to take their revolvers with them in their hasty flight, and supposed that the warriors had possessed themselves of those weapons.
     In the meantime the struggle between the sergeant and the two Indian warriors was fiercely carried on, and during it the pistol they were contending for was discharged, the ball passing just underneath the sergeant's throat and cutting his whiskers. The pistol was broken to pieces in the contest. Capt. Dall, with his first officer, Mr. Nolan, the second mate, and some of the passengers, then formed themselves into two bodies, four men in each, and, after closing the hatches, armed and provided themselves with lights, ready at a given signal to jump down both hatchways and secure the two warriors. This plan was executed, and as soon as they landed on the steerage deck shooting and cutting commenced in lively style on both sides. John, the old chief, made at Mr. Nolan, the first officer, with an iron bar and, aiming a blow at his head, struck him violently on the shoulder. Mr. Nolan returned the compliment, cutting at John with a saber (he should have used the point), but the chief caught the blade of the weapon in his hand. Mr. Nolan, however, succeeded in drawing it away, and gave him another cut over the head. The second mate was also busy with a revolver and fired at John three times, one ball passing through his leg. [The ball passed through his son Adam's leg.] By this time the other assailants had gathered in and the two tyees were overpowered after a most desperate struggle--not, however, until they had shot one man in the breast and wounded three others, besides a woman. The latter had a little girl, at whom the young chief aimed a blow; but she threw up her arm and received a severe cut upon that limb. The little girl exhibited much presence of mind, for she instantly concealed herself under a mattress, and remained quiet until the affray was over. The sergeant, whose bravery cannot be too much lauded, escaped with but little damage, besides a serious choking. It was probably owing to his desperate and determined resistance that several lives were not sacrificed by the infuriated savages. After being subdued, the warriors were conveyed to the quarter deck, weltering in blood, and for some time [they] pretended to be dead, hoping that their bodies would be thrown overboard, when they could easily swim ashore and effect their escape. The ruse, however, was detected. It is with pain that we are compelled to add that some of the passengers were anxious to disgrace themselves by immediately hanging the two chiefs at the yardarm, and would undoubtedly have accomplished their unmanly revenge, had it not been for the determination of Capt. Dall and his brave officers. They [the passengers] ran away at the first sound of the war whoop, but proved themselves exceedingly sanguinary after all the danger had been dispelled by Capt. Dall and his men. John afterwards declared that if he had had two or three of his warriors with him, he would have captured the steamer, and there is but little doubt that such would have been the result. They also declared themselves ready for another battle, if set at liberty. The bravery and gallantry of those savages, surrounded as they were by a formidable array of enemies, unarmed and on an element to which they were totally unaccustomed, should excite admiration and respect rather than dastardly revenge. The prowess of our countrymen in recapturing vessels from the British, on board of which they are held as prisoners of war, has been lauded to the echo, and transmitted with honorable pride through the pages of history; and why should we frown with anger and hatred upon similar deeds of gallantry, although enacted by savages?
     Both of these Indians bear upon their bodies the scars of many a hard-fought contest. The young warrior has a bullet [wound] near his spine, into which one may thrust his finger to some depth. Old John glories in being the possessor of many a scalp, among which those that once decorated the heads of white men are plentiful; however, "all is fair in war." John and his son were duly landed, and yesterday sent to the Presidio as prisoners of war.
    "Old John" is about seventy years old, and the most desperate and dangerous Indian on the Pacific. His hatred of the white race is implacable. He was sent down to California for endeavoring to excite the Indians on the reserve to revolt and massacre. After his capture upon the ship, both he and his son were placed on deck and their bodies stripped to examine the wounds. A passenger who saw them says their bodies were literally covered with scars of arrow, bullet and knife wounds. The Indians affected death, with a hope of being thrown overboard, so that they might swim ashore. But the trick didn't work--they were put in irons instead of the water! Old John's son, Adam, was so badly wounded that his leg was amputated at San Francisco. Old John's head had a frightful saber cut, given him by the mate. The son also had a rifle stock broken over his caput.
    The sergeant had his jaw broken and head badly bruised by Old John's bar of iron. He is at Fort Vancouver. If Old John is taken to Benicia, we apprehend he will soon make his way back to Oregon.
Oregon Statesman, Salem, June 29, 1858, page 3


    ROGUE RIVER JOHN.--It is stated that the wound in the leg of the son of old John has taken a malignant turn, and amputation will be necessary to save his life. The cause of the conduct of John on board the Columbia, it is said, was a remark from a steerage passenger that he was to be hung on the arrival of the steamer at Humboldt Bay. John, supposing it to be the destination of the vessel, attempted to escape.
Sacramento Daily Union, June 16, 1858, page 2


ALMOST A MASSACRE.
    Editor Journal.--On Friday, the 11th inst., about 1 o'clock a.m., while the P.M.S.S. Columbia was lying off Humboldt Bay, two Indians--prisoners--attacked the steerage passengers with bars of iron, sticks of wood, [and] a revolver, which they took from the sergeant while he was asleep, and during the after part of the assault, a knife is said to have been used by one of them.
    These two desperadoes wounded, more or less severely, not less than twelve persons. The sergeant having charge of them was cut in several places about the face and neck, besides being badly choked. The guard sergeant was asleep in the beginning of the assault, and allowed the Indians to run at large and to remain unmanacled from the time of their going to sea until after their capture! which was effected in about eight minutes subsequent to the attack.
    Mrs. Lockwood was among the most seriously wounded, or injured. She received a heavy blow from a stick of wood over the left eye and cheek, breaking out some of her teeth, and discoloring the flesh in the vicinity of the eye. Also, a blow from a bar of iron, which fractured the smaller bone of the forearm about midway from extremities. The subscriber, her husband, received a blow over the side of the face and corner of the forehead, which rendered him unconscious for a few moments. Mrs. L. saved the life of our youngest child by throwing up her arm. The oldest child escaped by concealing himself under the bed. The names of the other injured persons are unknown to the writer, but are mostly Californians. Probably the complement of persons aboard was not less than ninety, perhaps one hundred, about thirty of whom were steerage passengers. Two men, a fore and aft watch, were the only persons awake (if they were) at the time of the attack. So said some of the seamen.
    These two Indians, Chief John and his son, are of the Rogue River tribe, or Shasta stamp. They have murdered over 100 whites, men, women and children, according to their own admission, but are not yet satisfied. "More blood! More blood!" they cry. The citizens of California with one voice inquire, "Why are these murderous demons brought here?" In order that they may be well fed and clothed, until the Indian war in Oregon is terminated, and to prevent the Oregonians from killing the innocent creatures!
    They were captured on the "Grand Ronde" reserve, for attempting to organize a hostile party, by which they contemplated massacring the entire white population in the vicinity of the reserve, and then the Rogue River inhabitants. Whether the citizens of California will quietly permit the military authorities to bring such blood-stained villains among them, to be protected, not for virtues, but for crimes, remains to be seen.
R. T. LOCKWOOD.
Petaluma, June 14, 1858.
Sonoma County Journal, Petaluma, California, June 18, 1858, page 2


A Very Tragical Joke.
    Quizzing, says the Mobile Tribune, has sometimes awkward results. Every good thing has some attendant evil, and so of this. There are dangers accompanying it, that they who aspire to enjoy the unspeakable pleasure of enjoying the frightening, deceiving, or disappointing of their fellow creatures, instead of more old-fashioned and more humble jokes, must make up their minds to do so at some risk. A case of this sort, which occurred of late on the Pacific Coast, is thus related by a California paper:
    "Two of the Rogue River Indian chiefs, a father and son, were sent down from Fort Vancouver, W.T., to San Francisco, by the steamer Columbia. On their passage down, these Indians were informed by some of the foolish passengers that they were going to be hung. The savages resolved to sell their lives dearly, so, in the dead of night on the 11th of June, while the passengers were all asleep, these Indians stealthily rose, and stealing from some of the slumbering guards revolvers and knives, suddenly commenced an indiscriminate shooting and cutting among the people around them. The passengers, startled from sleep by the sound of pistol shots and the shrieking of the wounded, became panic struck. The lights were put out, and an indescribable scene followed. One passenger was shot in the breast, three others were cut, one woman being badly injured. The officers of the boat finally armed themselves, and, after a desperate struggle, succeeded in wounding and overpowering the savages. They were both wounded, one of them very severely.
Altoona Tribune, Altoona, Pennsylvania, September 2, 1858, page 2


    John F. Miller--Indian Agent for Grand Ronde Reservation, Oregon Territory, 1858. To Doctor Edward Sheil, Sept. 27th and 28th, &c.--To Reducing Fore Arm and Medical Attendance & Medicine for Indian John's wife: $50.00
   

Corvallis, Benton County, O.T.,
    Nov. 10th 1858
        Edward Sheil
   

Territory of Oregon    )
County of Linn            )  ss.
    Personally appeared before the undersigned, a Notary Public within and for said County and Territory, William C. Clemmens, William Miller, who being duly sworn according to law depose and say that they were personally present and know and know of their personal knowledge that the above and foregoing services were rendered by Edward Sheil, M.D. as above stated and that the same according to the ordinary charges of the country was reasonably worth fifty dollars.
   

Sworn and subscribed to
before me this 22nd day of
February, A.D. 1859
   

Wm. Clemmens
William Miller
Isaac N. Smith
    Notary Public
Joseph Lane Papers


    . . . the Indians of Oregon and Washington are not inferior even to the Indians whom our fathers fought in Kentucky and the West. They are able in war. They are as brave as any people on the face of the earth. I have never met men of more courage than the warriors of that country. They are rich in property. Many of the Indians engaged in this war owned a thousand horses apiece, and many cattle. They are men of character; men of much knowledge, and of great treachery. They are bold in war. . . .
    These Indians are famous in war. They have always been at war. They have been at war with one another for centuries, and they are the most artful and skillful people that I ever had anything to do with. I learned a little of war in Mexico; but I am willing to confess to the Senator from Kentucky and to the Senate that I knew but little of the stratagems and arts of Indian warfare until I participated in it. I recollect in one battle, fought by a portion of my command with the Indians, in 1853, we lost just one-half the command killed dead on the ground; and the balance were very glad to be rescued. Upon another occasion, at another battle subsequent to that day [Battle Mountain, near Evans Creek], every officer in the command but one was killed or wounded; I received a severe wound, and then we were not able to defeat them. I tried everything I understood, every plan that I had learned in war, and everything I could think of to drive the Indians from their position, but we were not able to do it. However, they asked a parley in the evening, when the battle had raged for four or five hours, which resulted in a talk; and there, upon the battlefield, we made a peace, and we were very glad to get off that way, for it was the hardest day's work I ever saw, save the battle of Buena Vista.
    Well, sir, the chief
[Chief John] who managed to bring about this war, and formed this alliance with all the tribes, for he had been two years engaged in bringing about peace between tribes that had been at war with one another, in order that he might make this organizations with a view of destroying the entire settlements--the great leader, the great chief that conducted that affair, and brought about the organization and managed the whole plan of attack, and had much to do in fighting the battles--met Captain Smith, as gallant an officer as there is in the Army, or in the world, upon one occasion, and surrounded him upon a mountain top, where he had no water, and for three days he besieged him there, and shot his men down in spite of all the energy and all the skill of that gallant officer. Captain Smith caused his men to dig holes for themselves in the ground, as deep as their own height, and to stand in the holes with their heads just out of them so that they could see, and in that position the Indians managed to kill a large number of his command. For three days they had not one drop of water, until the arrival of some volunteers who were passing through the country seeking these Indians. I will say, before I mention the good fortune of the arrival of the volunteers, that the chief approached the captain every day near enough to speak to him. The captain understood his language well; was personally well acquainted with him. The captain had entertained him at his quarters many times, giving him dinners and treating him kindly; and, in this action, he would come up near enough to speak to the captain, and hold up a rope, and, in the Indian tongue, tell him, "Look here; see this rope; tomorrow I intend to take you and hang you under a limb; I will kill the last man of your command; but you shall not be dignified with a shot; you shall be hung to the limb of a tree." The old chief told me afterwards that if the volunteers had not arrived the captain would soon have been in his power. Such was his opinion. There was no more gallant man than Captain Smith. In that extremity, however, the volunteers arrived, raised the siege, and saved that gallant officer and his command.
    Such is the character of the Indians we have had this trouble with. I will mention another fact. I will extend the history of this great chief a little further. He agreed finally, after twelve months' struggle, and when the northern tribes dropped off and would not longer prosecute the war--he did not come in, but sent a messenger to the colonel commanding, and proposed to him that if he could be taken and treated as he suggested, and placed upon a reservation, a house built for him, and fields cleared, and men hired to work them, and many other things that he proposed--that he would quit the struggle, and go to a reservation. We were very glad to get him in upon any terms; and I believe everything was promised him that he required, and he was taken on a reservation, the most beautiful spot that I know of, in as fertile a valley as there is in the world, where the agent last year succeeded in raising eighty thousand bushels of potatoes, and wheat enough to bread them for a year. This chief took it into his head, after being on the reservation two years, that he would not stay away from his old hunting grounds any longer; that he would kill all the whites, and commence another war. So skillfully did he lay his plans that but for the disclosures of a young squaw, who thought the agent ought not to be slaughtered, he would have executed them. The agent was at that time in the Willamette Valley purchasing supplies for the Indians, thirty miles from the reservation, and there were very high, almost impassable, mountains between the reservation and the settlements. He made his plans to waylay and kill Metcalfe, the agent, on his return, and then kill all the white men employed there, take their arms, and rush into the mountains; and in those mountains it would be almost impossible to find a man. The brush and chaparral are so thick that you could not see a man in many places ten feet to save your life; and in such a place the Indians have great advantage.
    Metcalfe was informed of it, through the kindness of a young squaw, who sent a runner across the mountains, that met him and notified him of the danger. A lieutenant was sent with some twenty men on the trail with him, and on their way they passed by the place where the Indians were to ambush for the purpose of waylaying and murdering him. The Indians, seeing him accompanied by troops, did not show themselves till the command had gone on some distance, when they fell into the trail behind them, and, coming up, expressed great pleasure in seeing them. On arriving at the reservation, the Indians were invited to go to the council house, to receive some presents, and when there the guard rushed in and seized John and his son.
    They took them to Fort Vancouver. They were kept in prison, or as prisoners, for the safety of the settlers, and for the purpose of maintaining peace.
    Finally, the commander of the post concluded that it would be better to send him to California, and accordingly he and his son were put on board a steamer, with a guard of twelve men, and on their way to California they arose in the night, when everybody was asleep, and possessed themselves of all the six-shooters and arms of the twelve men who were guarding them, for they were asleep, and never dreamed of the Indians rising, two hundred miles from the mouth of the Columbia. They seized the arms of the guard and took possession of the ship and held possession of it for two hours, in spite of the captain, who is as brave a man as any in our country, though he had a full crew and many passengers.
    That is his history, and it is absolutely true. He had possession of the ship for two hours, and they could not retake her, for he had the arms; and if the captain or any of the people attempted to go down the hatch into the cabin he would fire and drive them back. He killed or wounded several persons, men and women, for he commenced with the view of an indiscriminate slaughter. They succeeded, at last, in breaking the leg of the young one, and knocking down the old man. The captain said he was too brave a man to be killed, and he should not be. He took him to San Francisco, and had the leg of the young one amputated, and they are both there now. I conversed with them on my way here. I shall call and see him on my return. I intend to propose to him, as I believe now we have satisfied him that it would not do to go to war, to come home and live with me, so that we can talk over the struggles we have passed through in Oregon.
Senator Joe Lane, May 30, 1860, The Congressional Globe, First Session of the Thirty-Sixth Congress, May 31, 1860, pages 2470-2471    Archaeological excavations at the Big Bend battle site have revealed that the fighting holes were no more than 12 inches deep--not "as deep as their own height."


Office Supt. Ind. Affairs
    Portland Ogn. Oct. 24th 1859
R. B. Metcalfe Esq.
    Dear Sir,
        As it is your intention to visit old Chief John and his son Adam while at San Francisco, I have to request that you will endeavor to ascertain the state of their feelings towards the whites in Oregon, if practicable, and write this office a full account of your interview, and your impressions as to the propriety of their return to their friends on the reservation. If after sounding Adam you regard it safe to have him return you are hereby authorized to procure his passage on the steamer to this place. Any necessary expenses you may incur will be cheerfully met, and the amount remitted to your order.
    I would not at present hazard the return of Old John, as I fear his indomitable spirit might impel him to some deed of violence or to spread discontent among the Indians at the Siletz.
Very respectfully
    Your obt. servant
        Edward R. Geary
            Supt. Indian Affairs
Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 8; Letter Books F:10, page 22.


Office Supt. Indian Affairs
    Portland Oregon May 7th 1862
General,
    In April 1858 the Indian chief John was taken in charge by the military and conveyed to the headquarters of the Department of the Pacific, then at Benicia, I think, where he has since remained. Three of his daughters have recently called on me and made very earnest appeals for him to be returned in order that he might live with them the few remaining days of his life. His tribe are now nearly all dead, and I am of the opinion that it would not be detrimental to the public good to return him to his family while perhaps the knowledge he has obtained during his exile of the power of the whites he may turn to good account by imparting it to his brethren, who have not had the like opportunity to derive such information. Should you concur in this opinion, I would be glad if you will take measures to have him and his son returned to the Superintendency consigned to me. I have the honor, General, to be
    Very respectfully
        Your obt. servt.
            W. H. Rector
                Supt. Indian Affairs Oregon
Brig. General Wright
    Commanding Dept.
        of the Pacific
            San Francisco Cal.
Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 9; Letter Books H:10, page 129.


Headquarters Department of the Pacific
    San Francisco May 12th 1862
W. H. Rector Esq.
    Supt. of Indian Affairs
        For State of Oregon
            Portland, O.
                Sir,
                    I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your two communications of the 7th inst.
    The Indian chief John & son will be sent to you by the first opportunity.
    I have given orders for one company of Oregon cavalry to remain at Jacksonville.
    I have had several appeals made to me by the citizens of Jacksonville to have a command there, but I decline to do so, as I was anxious to send Col. Cornelius with his entire command to the eastern frontier of the States. I assured the people of Jacksonville that should any danger threaten them, I would promptly send troops there.
    I do not believe there is any real danger from Indians at Jacksonville, yet as there have been so many men withdrawn from that section of country I deem it proper to have a company of cavalry there to give a feeling of security to the women and children, whose natural protectors are serving their country.
With great respect
    Your obt. servt.
        G. Wright
            Brig. Genl. Infantry
                Army
Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 20; Letters Received, 1862, No. 97


Hd. Qtrs. Dept. of the Pacific
    San Francisco Cal.
        May 13, 1862.
Sir,
    Your letters of the 7th inst. with General commanding the department requesting the Indian chief John and his son be returned to his tribe and family has been received, and the General has ordered John and his son sent up on the steamer Oregon, which leaves this day for Portland. I have given him a letter to the purser of the ship, who will retain him on board subject to your orders.
I am respectfully
    Your most obdt. srvt.
        R. W. Kirkham
            Capt. & Asst. Q.M.
                A.A.A. Genl.
W. H. Rector Esq.
    Superintendent Indian Affairs
        Portland Oregon
Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 20; Letters Received, 1862, No. 96.



Office Supt. Ind. Affairs
    Portland Oregon May 22nd [1862]
Sir
    Gen. Wright has complied with the Supt.'s request and sent "Old John" and his son Adam up. As his children are under your charge at Grand Ronde Agency, I send them to you for care & protection. I have directed Mr. Brown to go up to Dayton with them. I would request and advise that you take some pains to gratify the old man; give him as good quarters as the circumstances will permit if his children have no house for him.
Yours
    T. McF. Patton
P.S. Mr. Rector is at Siletz.
NARA Series M2, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 30; Miscellaneous Loose Papers 1850-1873.



    DISTINGUISHED ARRIVAL.--Among the passengers by the steamer came two celebrated individuals, both well known to the citizens of Oregon--Skookum John and his son, Adam, chiefs of the Rogue River tribe of Indians. It will be remembered that John was a bitter foe of the whites during the Rogue River war, and after his capture he tried to instigate a revolt among his warriors at the Grand Ronde Reservation in 1858--for which he and his son were arrested and put on board the steamship Columbia, bound for San Francisco. On the passage down John and his son made a desperate attempt to take the vessel, and nearly succeeded; they assaulted the officers with knives, but were finally overpowered and heavily ironed. During the fight, Adam had one of his legs cut off by a cleaver in the hands of one of the crew. Since that time they have been held as prisoners of war at Fort Flint, San Francisco, but in consideration of their good behavior during their confinement and the petitions of Adam's daughters to the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, they have been permitted to return to their families. They express themselves perfectly satisfied with the power of the "Boston man," and promise to live in peace with them hereafter.
Weekly Oregonian, Portland, May 24, 1862, page 3



Office Supt. Indian Affairs
    Salem Oregon Oct. 24th 1862
Sir
    I have this day transmitted to your address a small package, containing a map of Grand Ronde Agency prepared by James B. Condon, agent in chge., also the photographs of "Old John," chief of the Rogue River Indians, and his son "Adam," of whom mention was made in Superintendent Rector's annual report. This was taken immediately after their release from prison in California, in May last, and inasmuch as they are Indians of notoriety in this state and will occupy a prominent page in its history, I forward them to your Department with the compliments of this office.
    Very respectfully
        Your obt. servt.
            T. McF. Patton
                Clerk to Supt. Ind. Affrs.
Hon. Chs. E. Mix
    Acting Commr.
        Ind. Affairs
Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 9; Letter Books H:10, page 245.


    In connection with this agency I would here speak of a responsibility which I have assumed in releasing from captivity the Indian chief named "John," who figured so conspicuously in the Rogue River wars of 1853 & 1855. This chief was a brave and daring leader, and, although of better principle than most of his race, he exerted such a powerful influence over his people that Agent Metcalfe deemed it advisable to cause him and his son "Adam" to be arrested and placed in confinement. In order that they should be securely confined, they were placed in charge of the military authorities, and by them sent to California, where they have remained prisoners for five years.
    During my visit to the agency his daughters made a very strong appeal for their release and return to their families. They desired that the remnant of their days might be spent with them. I made application to Genl. Wright, commanding this military department, for their release, which was granted. They returned in due time and were at once sent to Grand Ronde Agency. I have not seen them but once since their return, but learn from Agent Condon that their conduct is unexceptionable, and that they exert a very salutary influence over other Indians in inducing them to remain at home and live like white people. The old man is now far advanced in years, but his son is in the prime of life, and, although he has lost a leg in battling for life and liberty, he is of great service to the agent. Thus far my act has resulted in good, and I have but little fear that any harm will result from restoring them to liberty.
William H. Rector, Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Annual Report for 1862, Microcopy of Records of the Oregon Superintendency of Indian Affairs 1848-1873, Reel 9; Letter Books H:10, pages 199-200.


    June 15, 1864--John, the war chief of the Klamath and Rogue River Indians, known and dreaded for several years on account of his desperate hate of the whites, died of old age at Fort Yamhill on June 6, within an hour or two of Stock Whilty, the head chief of the Nez Perces.
"Half a Century Ago," Oregonian, Portland, June 15, 1914, page 6


    Old John, the great chief of the Rogue River Indians, and as brave a warrior as ever sped ball or arrow, lately died at Fort Yamhill--Eugene City Review.
Oregon Sentinel,
Jacksonville, July 23, 1864, page 2



    A few years afterward Chief John made a difficulty, and he was transported down here to Benicia one time. He was kept there some time. You recollect he tried to take a steamer coming down. He and his son attempted to capture the steamer. That was quite an episode.
    Chief John after making his war in 1854-5 [sic] was captured and taken to Fort Vancouver. I was over there a day or two after he arrived. He was sitting there and had chains on. He looked up to me and said in his jargon, "A few days ago I was a great chief; now I am a dog." That is all he said.

La Fayette Grover, Notable Things in a Public Life in Oregon, 1878


    Old Limpy backed around from place to place [during the Siege of Galice Creek] encouraging his men to advance closer by setting the example. Old John was there too, running from point to point yelling out his orders, equal to any civilized colonel or major.
"Indian Hostilities in the Early Part of the Year 1856," Ashland Tidings, February 14, 1879, page 1


    INDIAN ADAM.--There is a noted character residing on Jackson Creek, in the person of a son of the famous Indian chief John, who was once the terror of Southern Oregon. This relic of primitive royalty is named Adam. He is of medium stature of rather light complexion for a full-blooded Indian. He was with his father when that chieftain was a prisoner and placed on board of an ocean steamer to be taken to Alcatraz. Many old settlers will remember that John and his son captured the ship, passengers, officers and crew on the way from Portland to San Francisco. They succeeded in securing the hatchway and had full command of the vessel until they became convinced that they could not navigate it alone. They were finally forced to yield the fruits of their victory to those whom they had made prisoners and were taken to their military prison where they remained until hostilities were suspended. Adam has been shot in the right leg and walks very lame. He is [illegible] in the common definition of the term.

Oregon Sentinel,
Jacksonville, July 23, 1879, page 2


    It was not long before his camp was visited by a few old Indian hags for the ostensible purpose of begging something to eat, but really, though Capt. [Andrew Jackson] Smith was slow to see it, for no other purpose than to spy out his camp and find the number of his troops preliminary to their attacking him and securing his extensive stock of supplies, which they felt confident of doing unless he was accompanied by a force of volunteers. . . . Pitching camp on the bottom overlooked by the ridge, and close to the dense undergrowth, the captain gave the old squaws presents and food and sent them away to the Indian camp with nice words of love to the old chief and his band--that the chief of the soldiers wished to talk with them, and if the said old chief would come to camp he would be well treated and fed.
    The next day Old John and some others came to Smith's camp to engage in the promised pow-wow, and learn what chance of success there would be for an attack.
    Much as the Captain desired a peaceful adjustment of the difficulties, and he would sacrifice much except his personal honor, he soon saw that nothing but blood would satisfy the savage and reckless old chief, and did not offer as much as he had at first intended. The piratical Old John was indifferent as to whether or not he made friends with the soldiers. He did not hate them much, because he could whip them easily and as often as he wanted to, but the "Boston men" he detested, and would not without an immense payment make friends with them. If the "Bostons" would leave the country the soldiers and Chinamen might stay, and as long as they gave food and clothing to the Indians they would not be molested. This was his ultimatum given much in the style that one boy uses toward another when about to finish a war of words--"Take that and if you say another word I'll lick you."
    The Captain saw nothing in it but the impulsive bravery of a much-abused Indian, and mildly told him that he would do all that was his right, and all that lay in his power, to satisfy him and relieve the Indian from the encroachments of the whites, but disclaimed all protection of the Chinamen. Old John was indifferent, while his companions grunted their approval of all that he said. Vainly the Captain endeavored to make a friendly impression on the much-abused chief, but it was of no use. The white man must leave, or Old John and his band would never leave the field till the last man of them had offered himself up on the altar of his country.
Ashland Tidings, October 24 and 31, 1879, page 3


    Immediately after the terrible massacre of the 9th of October, 1855, the marauding Indians, sated with bloodshed and plunder, and justly apprehensive of the white man's vengeance, withdrew into the rugged and precipitous mountain region on the confines of Douglas and Josephine counties, west of the Oregon Trail, and there awaited the attack of the pursuing whites. Their position was well chosen. The country about their encampment was covered with trees and the densest and most impenetrable underbrush, and was intersected by numerous canyons, whose depth and steepness made travel nearly impossible to most human beings, but not so to the wily red man, whose exceptional knowledge of hidden paths and whose consummate knowledge of woodcraft enabled him to traverse these solitudes where even yet the foot of the Caucasian has scarcely ever trod. But a few miles west of the line of the present Oregon and California Railway the savages were located, and on the very range of mountains through which the enterprise of the railroad company has of late driven the well-known Grave Creek tunnel. Here the redoubtable bands of Applegate John, Limpy and George had gathered, comprising a powerful force of hardy and skilled warriors, equal in fighting ability and endurance to any other nations of the continent, as the incidents of the long and closely contested war of 1855-6 sufficiently prove. Their principal leader was John, chief of the small but hardy and daring band of Applegate Indians. Probably no Indian of this country--or, for that matter, of any time--has ever evinced in greater degree the possession of commanding talents. Old John was the central figure of the war, and stands forth as an individual of unintermitting courage and resolution, of ample strategic skill and extensive resources. He has been epigrammatically termed the Tecumseh of the war--a title that his characteristics rendered appropriate, and his final misfortunes still more closely befitted. Nor were the other chiefs despicable in comparison; Old Limpy, the lame chieftain of the Illinois [River] band, had achieved a foremost name as a cutthroat of renown, and from his habits of cruelty and malignity was perhaps the most dreaded of all the savages. The lesser tyees were active in emulating their bold leaders, and the unknown and undistinguished braves--Indians of the various branches of the great Rogue River tribe and neighboring allies--were worthy of such leaders. 
*    *    *
   Being now fully advised of the savages' whereabouts, and having resolved upon offensive measures, the three contingents of the army, uniting at the Six-Bit House, set out on the 30th of October [1855] to the Indians' camp, and by daybreak of the next morning halted not far away from it. Smith, preferring the traditions and customs of regular and civilized warfare to the rough and ready methods of frontier Indian fighters, had proposed a plan of action wherein the enemy was to be attacked by artillery fire from a howitzer in his command, and the various detachments were to complete the work by small-arms practice whenever the Indians approached sufficiently close. This plan, agreed to by Ross and Martin, was rendered negatory by the precipitancy of the Jackson County volunteers, who moved directly toward the enemy before the regulars were able to take up their position, whereby Chief John was warned in time to remove his braves to a location wherein they were secure from Smith's shells. The red warriors were now concealed within the thick underbrush which covers the flanks of Hungry Hill, and were protected on the right and left flanks by precipitous gorges filled with brush and quite impassable. The only practicable mode of access to them was over the bare and unprotected top of the hill, swept as it was by their bullets, and offering no shelter to the attacking party. Here a dozen men quickly fell, and the advance was checked. Smith, leaving his first position, marched to the brow of the hill and ordered a charge. Simultaneously John, with his warriors, stepped forth into the open space and went through a variety of mock military evolutions in derision of the dragoons. Retiring then to the protection of the trees and brush, they kept up a steady and accurate fire whose effect was so severe as to compel the whites to withdraw to shelter. From that moment the fight degenerated into target practice, and when Smith ordered a charge and advanced almost to the enemy's line he found no followers. . . . The strategy of John and Limpy, with the skill and bravery of their followers, foiled all attempts to dispossess them, and the troops, tired with their steady exertions, withdrew at nightfall and went into camp a short distance down the mountain slope, leaving scouts to watch the enemy's movements.
"Oregon's Greatest Battle," Sunday Oregonian, April 20, 1884, page 1    No reliable accounts place John at the battle of Hungry Hill. The account of above seems to be confabulated with the Battle of Big Bend.



OLD JOHN OF ROGUE RIVER, OREGON
    This Indian chief, if not as famous or as widely known as Pontiac, Black Hawk, Osceola, or even the more recent Seminole warrior, Billy Bowlegs, was remarkable for the courage, skill, fortitude and determination displayed by him in his contest with the whites in the Rogue River country of Oregon in 1855-56, and he deserves to be placed in the same category with these and other distinguished savage war chiefs who bravely resisted the advances of the white man's track--ever onward and ever marked with the gory locks and damned spots (that will not out) of the crime of an hundred--yea, four hundred years.
    The story of the outbreak, in which John of Rogue River was the central figure, and of his exploits in the fastnesses of his native hills, is well worthy of relation. Under assurances of full protection from the commander of Fort Lane, he, in the fall of 1855, surrendered to the civil authorities of Yreka, California, two or more of his tribe charged with depredation and murder. They were tried and acquitted and discharged without notice to this officer, who was thus prevented from keeping faith with them. An enraged mob seized and hanged them, and aroused to fury by this apparent breach of faith, Old John took measures of dire and speedy vengeance, entering upon the warpath, stripped, painted and equipped for the encounter. Gathering his people he fled to the mountains, after spreading death and destruction by fire and missile throughout the whole of the country of Rogue River, and waged for nearly a year a flagrant war on unequal terms with such consummate skill, intrepidity and fertility of resources as to extort the admiration and wonder of his antagonists.
    The intelligence of the outbreak reached the editor on his return march from escorting Lieutenant Williamson on his railroad survey of 1855(1). Whilst halting a few days in the Umpqua Valley with an old friend and comrade of Puebla, in Mexico, La Fayette Mosher, the alarming news was brought by Judge Deady, of the United States Court, who had come from Jacksonville. The next morning the editor, with his command,(2) pushed on rapidly toward Fort Lane--the nearest military post to the scene of hostilities--and on arriving there reported to its commander, Capt. A. J. Smith, 1st Dragoons.(3) On the evening of the 30th of October, the editor, accompanied by Lieut. A. V. Kautz, 4th Infantry, and their united commands,(4) marched from Fort Lane to join Captain Smith, who had preceded them to the Grave Creek House on the California and Oregon trail, with his dragoons.(5) The editor there also found a force of volunteers, which had been hastily organized from the settlers, under Colonel Ross. At midnight the troops moved, in two divisions by different routes, towards the Indian camp, the location of which had been ascertained by our scouts. The ascent of the mountains was steep and fatiguing, and delays and detentions occurred, to both the regulars and volunteers; and owing to the latter, in the dark and thick forest
, taking the wrong trail, both the divisions of the forces came upon the same side, instead of, as intended, opposite sides of the enemy's camp. Detained as the regulars had been, they were further delayed by the execution of the attack by the failure of their allies to come to time and place, and thus it was that the anticipated surprise came to naught, and that daylight broke upon the hills before we struck the Indians--only to find them on the alert and ready for the combat. The first onset of the troops drove the Indians from the crest of the ridge into the cover and shelter of the trees and chaparral of the descending slope. Concealed in this excellent covert and stripped for the fight, they quickly checked our progress by their telling fire, which laid hors de combat a large number of the troops. Shelter and cover was speedily sought in the chaparral, and the fight was continued with ill success to the troops throughout the day. The fire of the Indians told with great effect; wherever a man exposed himself he was dropped with unerring accuracy by an Indian rifle--hitting wherever was seen a head. The regulars and a portion of the volunteers held to their ground and fought as well as was possible against an almost "sight unseen" enemy, and hampered by an enforced resort to Indian methods or tactics, but the far greater portion of our redoubtable allies abandoned the field and left us alone in our glory of action. Just before nightfall the command withdrew to the base of the hill, where there was a fine spring of water, and after a scanty repast sought rest and slumber on the cold, hard ground. We had scarcely partaken of our meager breakfast early the next morning (November 1) when the Indians, whilst their women and children were seeking safety by moving to another rancheria, made a descent upon us, and were received by our pickets with a desultory fire. The camp thus aroused, the editor moved from the campfire and deployed his detachment for the fight; and whilst under the partial cover of a low bush, he saw the smoke of a rifle emerge from the crotch of a tree a little higher up the ascent, and felt something with a dull thud penetrate his right leg. Springing to his feet from the ground on which he sat, the editor limped to the campfire where our amateur surgeon was kindly caring for the wounded, and presented himself for examination. The surgeon quickly ripped the clothing apart, examined and dressed the wound, which was found to be through the right thigh, barely escaping the femoral artery. The conflict lasted several hours, and the Indians, towards noon, withdrew to join their women and children. In the two days of conflict the Indian loss was small, but the whites suffered heavily; the writer does not remember the total loss, but that in his own detachment was five (or more) killed and wounded--out of thirty-five. Late in the afternoon, the troops moved towards the settlements, the wounded being carried on horses and mules, and made as comfortable as possible. The steep, rough descent of the trail of fifteen miles--ofttimes a narrow path along an abrupt hillside, or lined with a tangled chaparral, with which the wounded came constantly in contact--made the march a very painful one to all, as some of the wounded could not restrain the outcries provoked by their sufferings from this cause and from their wounds. After midnight we reached the Grave Creek House, where we found the surgeon from Fort Lane, Dr. Charles H. Crane(6), who took charge of the wounded, and to his kind and skillful care (then and later on) the editor is indebted for his speedy recovery from the effects of his wound. The wounded were carried in wagons to Fort Lane or to their homes in the vicinity.
    Besides worsting or baffling the whites in this engagement, Old John with but twenty-nine warriors surrounded about sixty armed settlers in a log cabin [Fort Miner?] in the mountains for days, and they were saved from massacre only by the timely arrival of some regular troops. [Chief John was not at Fort Miner.] In the spring of 1856, General Wool organized a force from the troops in the Department of the Pacific--1st Dragoons (Capt. A. J. Smith), 3rd Artillery (Capt. E. O. C. Ord)(7), 4th Infantry (Lieut.-Col. R. C. Buchanan(8) and Capt. C. C. Augur(9))--who entered upon vigorous operations against these Indians. A cordon was thrown around them, but though thus hemmed in, harassed and suffering--no respite, help or rescue possible--Old John never lost tum-tum (heart), but maintained a bold front and kept his people to the unequal struggle, long baffling his foes and striking a blow that told when and where it seemed good in his eyes. But the struggle was hopeless, and great as were John's mental powers and resources of character and command, the result could not be averted. He was compelled to succumb to the prowess and numbers of his relentless foe--but himself bold and defiant to the last. During the campaign, he forced into a cul-de-sac a body of regulars not inferior to his own(10)--surrounded them in their rifle pits, without access to water and with scant rations, whilst the ropes [i.e., nooses] impending from the trees around, and the shouts of the Indians in the Chinook jargon revealed the cheering prospect of their impending fate. But he was foiled of his purpose, and they were rescued from their grave peril by the fortunate arrival of Captain Augur with his command, with whose assistance they were enabled to charge and disperse the Indians. On the surrender of the tribe, they were sent to Fort Hoskins, and soon becoming restive under restraint--his tum-tum still bad--Old John and his son, Adam, sought to stir up their people to revolt. But the good (not dead) Indians betrayed them, and they were arrested and sent under custody to the Presidio of San Francisco. There they were kept for a time under close guard, but were soon released therefrom, quartered in a tent and allowed to roam over the reservation (which, from seeing "water, water everywhere" around them they believed to be an island) occasionally visiting the city--the chief attraction of which to them lay in the Chinese quarter. In 1861, at the request of Captain Augur, they were permitted to return to their people. During the last few months of their captivity at the Presidio, troops were organizing there under President Lincoln's first call for volunteers. Old John was observed one day to be watching them with an interest rather unusual for a stoic of the woods and was asked the cause of it. Like the last great Seminole chieftain that warred against the whites in Florida, when shown the portraits of "Scott and Worth, and all the old heroes" in the Governor's room in the City Hall of New York, he grimly smiled and replied: "I used to lick them in--Oregon," and he might also have added--the regulars, too.
    While en route to San Francisco on board the steamer Columbia, some evil-disposed persons told John and Adam that as soon as they reached Humboldt the passengers were going to hang them. Believing and rendered desperate by these idle tales, they determined to sell their lives as dearly as possible, and at night, when every soul on board save the officers and men of the ship's watch were buried in profound slumber, they rose from their berths in the steerage, seized the revolver from under the head of Sergeant Davidson of Company B, 3rd Artillery, in whose custody they were, and stunned him by a blow with it. They then fired at random among the sleeping passengers, who, startled from their slumbers, fled in consternation to the deck. For some time they held possession of the steerage, no one of the passengers daring to venture below. Capt. Christopher C. Dall and his mate Nolan came to the rescue with the crew, and Nolan, at his own suggestion, was lowered into the steerage with a revolver and handspike--a lantern let down with him. He felled Old John with a blow from the handspike and shot Adam through the leg with his revolver, whereupon they were seized and put in irons and thus delivered to the commander of the Presidio, where Adam's leg had to be amputated. On their capture and restraint being effected, the enraged and alarmed passengers became clamorous for their blood, but Captain Dall, knowing how much they were to blame, and brave himself, appreciated the bold courage of the excited Indians, manfully refused to accede to these demands, and none were permitted to hurt or molest these red men of the [Rogue] River of Oregon.
(1) See Note (m).
(2) Detachments of Company D, 3rd Artillery, and of Companies D and E, 4th Infantry; the detachment of Troop E, 1st Dragoons, under Lieut. P. H. Sheridan, 4th Infantry; left with Lieut. R. S. Williamson, T.E.
(3) Afterwards Major-general in the war of the rebellion, and Col. 7th Cavalry, and Brevet Major-General, (resigned) and appointed postmaster St. Louis, Mo.
(4) Detachment of Company H, 3rd Artillery, under this officer, which had just arrived from Fort Orford; en route it had been attacked by these Indians just after they started on the warpath, and Kautz, in the engagement was struck in the breast by a Minie ball [sic] and escaped injury or death by its hitting his memorandum book, in which he kept his daily journal or diary--a habit of many years, if not of his life. Kautz was afterward a Brigadier-General in the late war, and is now Colonel 8th Infantry, and Brevet Major-General.
(5) Troops C and E, 1st Dragoons--the garrison of Fort Lane; the latter commanded by Lieut. Benj. Allston, its captain, Brevet Major E. H. Fitzgerald, being left sick at Fort Lane.
(6) Afterwards Surgeon-General in the Army, and now deceased [1825-1883].
(7) Afterwards Major-General in the Army, and now deceased.
(8) Afterwards Colonel 1st Infantry and Brevet Major-General; nominated to be Brigadier-General of the Army in 1867.
(9) Afterwards Major-General in the war, and now Brigadier and Brevet Major-General in the Army.
(10) Officered by Capt. A. J. Smith, 1st Lieut. N. B. Sweitzer, 1st Dragoons, now Lieut.-Colonel 8th Cavalry and Brevet Brigadier-General, and Asst. Surgeon C. H. Crane.
   
Horatio Gates Gibson, transcribed from a reprint in the collections of the U.S. Military Academy Library, West Point. Serialized in the Medford Mail Tribune April 13 (page B1), April 27 (page B1) and May 4, 1930 (page B5). The end of the article can be found transcribed here.


    "Old John" had but sixteen warriors left at the final surrender, and then, on the way to Alcatraz Island, he and his son actually took possession of the steamer's steerage, and he was only finally conquered after being wounded in several places. This last display of ferocity was brought about by some unscrupulous passengers, who aroused the superstition and fears of the savages.
The Overland Monthly, April 1885, pages 420-422. The index credits the article to "J.G.T.", the text to "I.G.T." Attributed to Joel Graham Trimble.


SHASTA JOHN AND SON.
    From B. F. Dowell's petition and others asking pay for the depredations of the Indians.
    IV. John, the chief of the Shasta, and subchief of the Rogue River Indians, and his son Adam, deserve a passing notice in this petition.
    John and Adam were both natives of Shasta Valley, California.
    Early in the spring of 1852 B. F. Dowell formed the acquaintance of John in Yreka. As he entered the town he met John with nine other Indians coming out of Yreka. Three of the Indians were drunk, and one of them was raving like a madman, and John bought a rope from our attorney to tie this boisterous, drunken Indian, so his companions could take him out of town. John was doing a good deed, and our attorney was favorably impressed with his features and general demeanor. He always thought his features, height and shape resembled Gen. Andrew Jackson.
    The Indians bought and sold whisky in Yreka and Jacksonville at their will and pleasure until after the soldiers were stationed at Fort Jones in the spring of 1853, and at Jacksonville until after close of the Rogue River war in the fall of 1853. They early learned all the vices of the whites, and many fights took place between the Indians and whites while both were under the influence of whisky. Indians are mere brutes when drunk, and bad whites under such circumstances showed them but little mercy.
    Whisky, war, pestilence and famine drove John and a few of his nation to the headwaters of Applegate and Stewart's Creek [i.e., Bear Creek] in Oregon, where they were soon joined by some of the most bloodthirsty of the Rogue River Indians.
    John was not present at the time this Table Rock treaty was first signed by the head chiefs Joe, Sam and Jim. He fled to the upper waters of Applegate Creek, but was followed into the mountains by Gen. Lane, with a few men, and with the general's and Superintendent Palmer's promises to feed and clothe him and his warriors, John signed the treaty, and he and his people went upon the Table Rock Indian Reservation to live, and, according to his story, in place of living he stayed there until he and his band nearly starved. He always, when a pretext offered, was on the war path. After the war was over and after he had been on the new reservation in Northern Oregon, he tried to stir up sedition and get the Indians again to go on the war path. For this offense Superintendent J. W. Nesmith (late senator) had him and his son, Adam, arrested by the military and sent to Alcatraz, California.
    On the steamer between Portland and San Francisco John and his son rebelled at the idea of their imprisonment, and they made a desperate fight to capture the steamer, or for freedom. Adam was shot in the leg, and they were finally subdued and imprisoned at Alcatraz. Adam's leg was cut off, and he has worn a cork leg ever since. After the Republicans came into power and William Rector was appointed superintendent, he petitioned Mrs. Rector to allow him to come home to die among his people. His request was granted. Soon after his return to the reservation General Palmer and the writer of this petition were walking along the road on the reservation when we met Tyee John. He cordially shook hands with the writer and said in plain English: "How do you do, Dowell?" But he only nodded his head to the late superintendent. His manner and style was so cool that the writer of this article inquired: "Oh, John, don't you remember General Palmer?" John vindictively replied, "Nika hias cumtux Palmer." Palmer waka close tum tum hias clun-a-nawhit wake potlach hiyou icters, wake potlach hiyou mucmuc sia Logue Liber; meaning the superintendent was a bad man, that he had willfully lied to the Indians at Rogue River, to get them on the reservation, by falsely promising them blankets, horses and farming implements and plenty of as good food to eat as the whites.
    The writer earnestly and truthfully represented [to] the great Indian tyee that Gen. Palmer was a good and truthful man, and that it was not Palmer, but Congress who was to blame for Palmer's apparent falsehoods for not furnishing the Indians with tools, blankets and houses and plenty of good things to eat. But it was no use, the great "siwash tyee" lived and died believing Gen. Palmer a great liar and treacherous public official. John was a brave, proud and haughty Indian, and self-willed, but he was not the only brave Indian who heard Superintendent Palmer talk at the council ground that thought Mr. Palmer false to them and wholly unworthy of credit. George, Limpy and Tipsy, the three great war chiefs, all expressed the same idea. It is not strange that brave, wild, uneducated Indians like George, John, Limpy and Tipsy, who believed for upwards of two years that the government had lied, cheated and defrauded them, that they should plot the destruction of property and form alliances to exterminate the whole white race.
    The regular army was so small they could have easily whipped it out if the volunteers had not come to the rescue of the settlers and the United States troops.
    Recently Adam had a falling out with the Indian agent, and he has gone back to the land of fish, fruit and flowers, on his one good leg and with the aid of his cork or wooden leg. No doubt he still detests white civilization and the Table Rock treaty.
    He is the last hereditary king of a once-powerful nation, and the most warlike of any tribe in California or Oregon. He is a general without a soldier, a king without a subject, a deserter from civilization and a solitary wanderer over the land and graves of his forefathers.
Sunday Oregonian, Portland, August 1, 1886, page 4


    John, the chief of the Shastas, and sub-chief of the Rogue River Indians, and his son Adam, deserve a passing notice.
    John and Adam were both natives of Shasta Valley, California.
    Early in the spring of 1851 B. F. Dowell formed the acquaintance of John in Yreka. As he entered the town he met John with nine other Indians coming out of Yreka. Three of the Indians were drunk, and one of them was raving like a madman, and John bought a rope from the senior attorney [Dowell] to tie this boisterous, drunken Indian, so his companions could take him out of town. John was doing a good deed, and said attorney was favorably impressed with his features and general demeanor. He always thought his features, height and shape resembled General Andrew Jackson.
    The Indians bought and sold whiskey in Yreka and Jacksonville at their will and pleasure until after the soldiers were stationed at Fort Jones in the spring of 1853, and at Jacksonville until after the close of the Rogue River war in the fall of 1853. They early learned all the vices of the whites, and many fights took place between the Indians and the whites while both were under the influence of whiskey. Indians are mere brutes when drunk, and bad whites under such circumstances showed them but little mercy. Whiskey, war, pestilence and famine drove John and a few of his nation to the headwaters of Applegate and Stuart's Creek in Oregon, where they were soon joined by some of the most bloodthirsty of the Rogue River Indians.
    John was not present at the time the Table Rock treaty was first signed by the head chiefs Joe, Sam and Jim. He fled to the upper waters of Applegate Creek, but was followed into the mountains by General Lane with a few men, and with the General's and Superintendent Palmer's promise to feed and clothe him and his warriors, John signed the treaty, and he and his people went upon the Table Rock Indian reservation to live, and, according to his story, in place of living there he stayed there until he and his band nearly starved. He always, when a pretext offered, was on the war-path. After the war was over, and after he had been on the new reservation in northern Oregon, he tried to stir up sedition and get the Indians again to go on the war-path. For this office Superintendent J. W. Nesmith (late Senator) had him and his son Adam arrested by the military and sent to Alcatraz, California.
    On the steamer between Portland and San Francisco, John and his son rebelled at the idea of their imprisonment, and they made a desperate fight to capture the steamer, or for freedom. Adam was shot in the leg, and they were finally subdued and imprisoned at Alcatraz. Adam's leg was cut off, and he has worn an artificial leg ever since. After Wm. Rector was appointed Superintendent, John petitioned Mr. Rector to allow him to come home to die among his people. His request was granted.
    Soon after his return to the reservation General Palmer and the writer of this article were walking along the road on the reservation and we met Tyee John. He cordially shook hands with the writer and said in plain English: "How do you do, Mr. Dowell?" But he only nodded his head to the late Superintendent. His manner and style was so cool that the attorney inquired: "Oh, John, don't you remember General Palmer?" The chief replied, "Nika hyas cumtux Palmer. Palmer wake close tumtum hyas clun-a-nawhit, wake potlach hiyou ictas, wake potlach hiyou muckamuck sia Logue Liber," meaning the superintendent was a bad man; that he had willfully lied to the Indians at Rogue River, to get them on the reservation, by falsely promising them blankets, horses and farming implements, and plenty of as good food to eat as the whites.
    The writer earnestly represented to the great Indian tyee that it was not Palmer, but Congress, who was to blame for Palmer's apparent falsehoods for not furnishing the Indians with tools, blankets and houses, and plenty of good things to eat. But it was no use; the great siwash tyee lived and died believing General Palmer a great liar, and a treacherous public official. John was a brave, proud and haughty Indian, and self-willed, but he was not the only brave Indian who heard Superintendent Palmer talk at the council ground that thought Mr. Palmer false to them and wholly unworthy of credit. George, Limpy, John, the three great war chiefs, all frequently expressed the same idea. It is not strange that brave, wild, uneducated Indians like George, Limpy and John, who believed for upwards of two years, yea, five years, that the government had lied, cheated and defrauded them, should plot the destruction of property and form alliances to exterminate the whole white race.
    The regular army was so small they could easily have whipped it out, if the volunteers had not come to the rescue of the settlers and the United States troops.
    Recently Adam had a falling out with the Indian agent, and he has gone back to the land of fish, fruit and flowers, on his one good leg and with the aid of his artificial one. No doubt he still detests white civilization and the Table Rock treaty.
    He is the last hereditary king of a once-powerful nation, the most warlike of any tribe in California and Oregon. He is a general without a soldier, a king without a subject, a deserter from civilization and a solitary wanderer over the land and graves of his forefathers.
B. F. Dowell, The Heirs of George W. Harris, 1888, pages 27-30


     Old Chief John, the most indomitable and cruel of all the savages, as well as the best general, and who was the last to surrender, was taken with his two sons to the Siletz reservation. His youngest son died in 1857, in return for which the old chief killed one or two Indian doctors, a custom of the Indians. He was afterwards detected in inciting the other southern Indians to revolt and return to their former homes. Captain Augur, in command of Fort Hoskins, thereupon sent him and his son Adam to Fort Vancouver in April, 1858, from which place they were ordered to San Francisco. They were shipped on the steamer Columbia. While the vessel was at anchor off Humboldt Bay, the old chief, knowing that this was his last chance, determined to escape. They were in the steerage under the charge of a sergeant. About one o'clock in the morning, they commenced operations by blowing out all the lights in the steerage. They next attempted to steal the revolver from the sergeant, but he awoke and caught them in the act. Then commenced the struggle, the old chief throttling the sergeant, who was lying in his berth, and Adam beating him on the head with an iron bar. At this juncture John gave his ear-piercing war whoop, which seems to have acted with galvanic effect on the passengers, who incontinently quitted their berths, ran up the hatchways and into the cabin, where they declared the Indians had taken the ship and were slaughtering the passengers. They had all forgotten to take their revolvers with them in their hasty flight, and supposed the warriors had obtained possession of them.
     In the meantime the struggle between the sergeant and the two Indians was fiercely carried on, during which the pistol they were contending for was discharged, the ball passing just underneath the sergeant's throat and cutting his whiskers. The pistol was broken into pieces in the contest. Captain Dall, with his first officer, Mr. Nolan, the second mate, and some of the passengers, then formed themselves into two bodies, four men in each, and, after closing the hatches, armed and provided themselves with lights, ready at a given signal to jump down both hatchways and secure the two warriors. This plan was executed; and, as soon as they landed on the steerage deck, shooting and cutting commenced in lively style on both sides. John, the old chief, made at Mr. Nolan with an iron bar and aimed a blow at his head, but struck him violently on the shoulder. Mr. Noland returned the compliment by a cut with a saber; but the chief caught the blade in his hand. Mr. Nolan succeeded in drawing it away, and gave him another cut over the head. The second mate was also busy with a revolver, and shot Adam through the leg. By this time the rest of the party gathered in; and the two chiefs were overpowered after a desperate struggle, not, however, until they had shot one man in the breast and wounded three others, besides a woman. The latter had a little girl, at whom Adam aimed a blow; but she threw up her arm and received a severe cut upon it. After being subdued, the warriors were conveyed to the quarter deck, weltering in blood. For some time they pretended to be dead, hoping that their bodies would be thrown overboard, when they could easily swim ashore and effect their escape; but the trick did not work, and they were put in irons instead of water.
     Old John was about seventy years old, and declared that, if he had two or three of his warriors with him, he would have captured the ship. Old John had a frightful saber cut on his head. Adam was so badly shot that his leg had to be amputated at San Francisco. A rifle stock had also been broken over his head. The brave sergeant had his jaw broken and his head badly bruised with the iron bar. Adam died not long after at Benicia. The death of  the old chief is not recorded; but he never returned to Oregon.
Elwood Evans, ed., History of the Pacific Northwest, Oregon and Washington, volume 1, 1889, page 643


    We all noted throughout the fighting [on Evans Creek in 1853] above all other sounds the shoutings of old chief John, giving his orders and "medicine cries."
George Hunter, Reminiscences of an Old Timer, 1889, page 85


    The Shasta and Rogue River Indians were one nation, divided under several chiefs, whose followers ranged certain districts. For instance, Tolo was the head of the band living in the country about Yreka; Scarface and Bill in Shasta Valley; John in Scott Valley, and Sam and Jo in Rogue River Valley, John's father having once been head chief over all. There were besides these, two chiefs living at the foot of the Siskiyous, on the north side, namely, Tipsu, or the "hairy," from his having a heavily bearded face, and Sullix, the "bad-tempered." Both of these chiefs were very hostile to white men, and even fought other bands of their own nation. [Page 292]
    . . . the chiefs finally came together on the twenty-first of May [1856] at the place appointed, no restraint being put upon them--John of Scott Valley, and his son; Rogue River George; Limpy, and other chiefs both of the Rogue River and Cow Creek bands--to listen to what the agents of the United States had to say which they might be pleased to accept.
    The council was not a friendly one, notwithstanding every effort had been made by the white chiefs to have it appear so. It was evident that if the Indians surrendered it would only be because they were weary of the present state of warfare, and wanted time to recuperate, not that they were convinced that it was for their good or even that they might not eventually conquer.
    "You are a great chief," said John to Colonel Buchanan. "So am I. This is my country; I was in it when those large trees were very small, not higher than my head. My heart is sick with fighting, but I want to live in my country. If the white people are willing, I will go back to Deer Creek and live among them as I used to do. They can visit my camp, and I will visit theirs, but I will not lay down my arms and go with you on the reserve. I will fight. Goodbye." Whereupon he took his departure unrestrained, as had been agreed upon.
    The other chiefs, however, after much argument, consented to give up their arms on the twenty-sixth near the Meadows, and allowed themselves to be escorted, a part by Captain Smith to the coast reservation, by the way of Fort Lane, and the remainder to be escorted by other military officers to Port Orford, thence to be conveyed by sea to the reservation. [Page 406]
    Captain Smith had told John at the council ground in answer to his defiant utterances: "We will catch and hang you, sir; but if you go on the reservation, you can live in peace. Do you see those wagons, blankets, clothes, horses? You will have everything good, plenty to eat, peace. If you do not come, do you see that rope, sir?" So, John, when he had the captain at a disadvantage, retaliated: "Hello, Captain Smith! You go on the reservation? Hiyu chick chick (a great many wagons, good traveling); hiyu icta (many things); hiyu muck-a-muck (plenty to eat); hiyu clothes (plenty to wear); wake clatawa reservation (If you do no go to the reservation); take lope, Captain Smith; do you see this lope, Captain Smith?" {Page 409]
    Chief John was a bolder, firmer, and stronger man mentally than any chief west of the Cascade Mountains. When dressed in civilized costume, he presented an appearance not very different from that of many a hard-working farmer of Pennsylvania or Ohio of fifty years of age. His features were marked by that expression of grief, which is a common characteristic of savage countenances after youth is past, intensified in his case, no doubt, by disappointment at the result of the war. In strong contrast to him was his son, who possessed no indications of strength of any sort, and who had a lumpish, stolid face, devoid of any expression. Yet like his father, or in imitation of him, he on occasions displayed a desperate courage worthy of the admiration of the United States military officers. [Page 411]
    [After the Indian defeat at Big Meadows,] instead of coming in as invited, John sent the volunteers a challenge to engage in battle with them, which was the more cheerfully accepted as the hundred men left behind at Fort Smith had come up. At the hour appointed by John for the contest, the Indian warriors issued from the cover of the woods in two lines, advancing directly towards the volunteers until within one hundred and fifty yards of their lines, when they halted, and at the word of command from the chief, fired a volley, which, being aimed too high, whistled harmlessly over the heads of the white men, who returned the fire with a more sure aim and deadlier result. The Indians' front line then took to flight.
    The second line stood until several volleys had been fired, when panic seized them and they also retreated. In vain the iron chief commanded in thunder tones; they paid no heed to him, but ran until beyond the reach of the guns of their white conquerors, when they squatted on the ground in a circle, in the hot sunshine, and wailed piteously for two hours in sorrow for a young chief who had been killed, and over their own misfortunes. Once more John endeavored to rally them, but the heart had gone out of them. It was the old pathetic story, "By the waters of Babylon they sat down and wept."
    After a few hours spent in this manner, John sent word by a woman to Captain Smith that he wished to surrender if his people could be allowed to retain their guns. The proposal was refused. He then sent his son to ask leave to retain half their guns, which was also refused. Another proposition to keep one-third of their arms was in like manner negatived, and the Indians ordered to stack their arms against a rock, or return with them and fight. John himself at last came to entreat permission for his people to keep some arms, and when he was denied walked away with a malediction on the hard tum-tum (heart) of the white conqueror.
    Towards night forty warriors laid their guns against the rock, and small squads kept coming in until darkness settled down over the camp, when, to prevent any treacherous movement, they were ordered to remain without camp, at the peril of their lives, during the night. When morning came the surrender was completed, John coming in last. He set his gun against the rock, then suddenly grasped it, but before he could raise it to his shoulder fifty rifles were aimed at his heart. He again relinquished it, and sullenly, with a defiant manner, took his place among the prisoners. [Page 413]
    John said to Ross Browne, appointed by the government in 1857 to examine into the affairs of the Indian reservations: "For my own part my heart is sick. Many of my people have died since they came here; many are still dying. There will soon be none left of us. Here the mountains are covered with great forests; it is hard to get through them. We have no game; we are sick at heart; we are sad when we look on the graves of our families. A long time ago we made a treaty with Palmer. There was a piece of land at Table Rock that was ours. He said it should remain ours, but that for the sake of peace, as the white settlers were bad, we should leave it for a while. When we signed the paper that was our understanding. We now want to go back to our country. During the war my heart was bad. Last winter, when the rain came and we were all starving, it was still bad. Now it is good. 1 will consent to live here one year more; after that I must go home." [Page 417]
Frances Fuller Victor, Indian Wars of Oregon, 1894


    . . . Mr. [P. F.] Castleman . . . spoke with considerable respect of the Rogue Rivers, and especially Old John, their war chief, who, as I stated in a late sketch, was taken to Benicia to be out of reach, so his influence could not work on his people. I told how Old John captured the steamer on the way to San Francisco and held the deck, leaving the wheelman at the helm unharmed until they brought so many gleaming barrels to bear on him from surrounding points of vantage that resistance was useless, so he surrendered. The story proves to be that Old John and his son--a chip of the old block--acted together. They had roamed the wilds and hunted and fished mountains and streams from the summits of the Cascade Range to the very ocean shore. As the steamer was passing the father and son recognized the headlands of their native shore, and the impulse of patriotism was too much for ordinary prudence. There sprang up a hope in their hearts that they might succeed once more in reaching that native Illihee ["land"] and again roam that mountain wilderness. In the affray the son's leg was shot, and amputation became necessary. Years after, the longing for return became so great that he was allowed to go back to see the Rogue River hills once more. He stumped about there with his wooden leg for awhile; finally crossed the Cascades with the Klamaths, and the last known of him was making his home, in a wooden-legged way, with them. Old John, too, returned to his people after many days, when wars and rumors of Indian wars were over. It is to be hoped they had some happy years as the windup of their fitful lives. Whatever may be said of the savages of that early time it should never be forgotten that the Indians who lived among these romantic scenes suffered and endured much at the hands of human fiends as white men, and that they fought like brave men, long and well, and were fighting for their native land!
    The vales they loved so well are full of homes; villages nestle through them, churches and schools adorn them, the very mountaintops are becoming homelike and fruitful; the records and memories of half a century ago, when the red men lived and loved--when they hunted those mountains and fished these streams, and their women dug the camas and gathered the fruits of the valley and mountain--seem as evanescent as the mists that today shroud these valleys and curl about these grand old hills, but to me there remains the romance and fragrance of a past we did not know, and of a people who were driven forth by a civilization they could not understand--whose dregs stifled them and whose outcasts violated their rights as well as desolated their homes. What we call progress has the trail of a serpent too often as its residuum. The whole story of Indian life and early history is made up of such episodes as we read here, as well as of lofty ideals accomplished and civilization achieved. It is a pity we cannot do better grace to the patriotism and worth of a race that produced such heroes and sages as we know in history and such hard-fighting patriots as old Chief John.
S. A. Clarke, "In Southern Oregon," Sunday Oregonian, February 10, 1895, page 6


    The instigator and leader of the Indians, Chief John, was acknowledged by the white officers to be a warrior indeed, a crafty tactician, who tried to the uttermost the military skill of his white adversaries. Besides employing the usual signal fires resorted to by all savages, he invented a unique and effective human telephone system. Knowing that the women of his tribe would be safer than men from the guns of the soldiers, he stationed young squaws at intervals of 300 yards from one point to another between which he desired communications to pass. Thus the message was called from mouth to mouth with rapidity and authenticity.
    When Colonel Buchanan came to the relief of the disheartened soldiers he requested John's presence at camp, sending men as hostages, and endeavoring to treat with his red foe, but the warrior listened to his propositions disdainfully. He desired no treaty, and, looking the officer steadily in the eye, declared that he preferred to fight him man to man--a statement which the angry general could not resent, and he felt inclined to do, owing to the dangerous position of the three soldiers held by the Indians until the return of their chief. . . .

    When the Indians, some 1500 in number, took their departure [for the Grand Ronde reservation] they passed through the lines of the soldiers stationed at Port Orford. They formed a procession which was the personification of wretchedness, poverty and despair. Old men and women were led in their blindness by younger members of their tribe or family. Women weak from sickness bore heavy burdens or children upon their backs. Wolf-eyed warriors stepped with an air of haughty nonchalance and a look of baffled hatred upon their dark faces. Troops of children crept along, ragged, dirty,  pitiful; and leading his people was Chief John, mounted upon a sorry mule, a look of indifference on his face, his eyes, which seemed to observe nothing, fixed straight before him.

George W. Miller, quoted by Clara Iza Price, "The Rogue River Outbreak," San Francisco Call, April 11, 1897, page 19


    For three days and nights the Indians continued to harass the troops, who suffered greatly for water, and were on a scant allowance of rations. During the fight, the stentorian tones of John's voice could be heard by all the soldiers, urging his braves to charge upon the hated whites. The Indians frequently taunted the troops by asking them in "jargon" if they were thirsty, well knowing their inability to get water. John, himself, often shouted to the whites, "Come out and fight like men," calling them "squaws and cowards."
H. G. Guild, "Hungry Hill Fight,"
Sunday Oregonian, Portland, April 24, 1898, page 24


    In 1856 President Pierce appointed Captain [John F.] Miller Indian agent for the Grand Ronde Reservation, bringing him into association with the Rogue River Indians with whom he had fought and treated. He held this position six years, resigning when President Lincoln was elected. The winter Captain Miller took charge of the agency was very rainy. Sickness prevailed, and many Indians died. Chiefs Sam, John, Limpy and George went before him and implored him to allow their people to return to their native haunts. "I shall never forget John's remarks on that occasion," said Captain Miller. "The eloquence of earnestness marked very word of the appeal. 'It is not your wars, but your peace, that kills off my people,' John said." Agent Miller could only answer that he had no authority to grant the request. A plot for an uprising was afterward formed among the Indians. Mary, a daughter of Chief Sam, who never liked the Applegate tribe, told the agent of the Indians' intentions. John and his son Adam were arrested and deported to Merced, Cal. When the steamer on which they were carried reached the mouth of the Rogue River
[it was at Humboldt Bay], looking over the forests of their old home, they made an attempt to take the ship and escape. A sailor put a stop to the effort by shooting Adam in the leg. John and his son were afterward returned to the Grand Ronde Reservation, Adam being short one leg, as the effect of the gunshot sound received at the hands of the sailor.
"Captain John F. Miller," Oregonian, Portland, January 25, 1899, page 10


    In closing, I wish to state that in my opinion the Rogue Rivers were the most warlike Indians on this coast. Chief John, who outranked Sam in 1855-56, was a general; in fact, he never risked a battle unless it was upon grounds of his own selection; he contended against an odds of four to one, and with all these handicaps was able to keep up the esprit of his followers and worst the Bostons over half the time.

Henry Klippel, "Reminiscence of Early Days," Medford Enquirer, February 16, 1901, page 4


    The 2nd day after going into camp at the Meadows the regiment moved by companies to the battlefield. In anticipation of an attack from the volunteers, John disposed of his people after this manner. First he sent his old men and his women and children back into the brush and thick timber that bordered his village on the south. Next he stationed his braves up and down the [Rogue] river for two miles with orders to get as close to the water as they could find places of concealment. Then he climbed a high rock point 2 or 3 hundred yards in the rear of his camp, from which he had a commanding view of both sides of the river for 2 miles [and] awaited coming events.
    The river was swollen to madness by melting snows above. He had no fears of our crossing the river on a log raft, as we had tried to the fall before. He hoped, however, we would try again. By 10 a.m. the battle commenced. By 2 p.m. 1000 old-fashioned muzzle-loading rifles, shotguns and muskets were engaged in hurling shot and ball at an unseen foe. On the other side of the river 350 firearms, such as the Indians had, were barking murderous defiance. Above the incessant roar of battle Chief John's voice was plainly heard cursing his enemies and encouraging and directing his braves.
J. J. Blevans, "Bill Wilkins," Wallowa Chieftain, Joseph, Oregon, August 7, 1902, page 5


    I have not the time to enter into the details of the battle that was fought on the 27th of May, 1855, near Big Meadows, on Rogue River. Capt. Smith was in command of his eighty regulars. Old "John" led the Indians. The operations covered a period of two days, John using all the tactics of military science in handling his 400 braves during the battle.
William M. Colvig, "Indian Wars of Southern Oregon," Medford Mail, August 8, 1902, page 2


    Chief John had 130 fierce braves, all resolute fighters, when he went on his raids against the white settlers, burning homes and murdering women and children. When he surrendered finally he had but 19 men, and several of these were young boys, not in their teens. More remarkable still, each survivor in the little band was able to display from three to five bullet wounds received during the months of fighting, marching and hiding.
    Chief John, whose name in those days was a terror throughout Oregon, though he surrendered was never conquered. He was brought by Metcalfe and Bledsoe by steamer from Port Orford to Siletz and made a part of the original reservation Indians. The Rogue River tribesmen were divided, some going to Siletz and others to Grand Ronde. Old Chief John disdained the insipid life on the reserve, and constantly pleaded with his followers to rise in rebellion. More than once he nearly succeeded and at last he had to be arrested. This was accomplished, and John and his son Adam were taken by steamer to Alcatraz prison, in San Francisco Bay, where the old chief died a prisoner. His fierce spirit led him and his son on the passage down the coast into a desperate effort to seize the vessel, and attempt which nearly succeeded, until John's son received a wound that resulted on arrival at San Francisco in the removal of his leg.
"Some Indian Tales: Captain Bledsoe Tells Some Interesting History of Early Days," Daily Capital Journal, Salem, June 26, 1905, page 6


    In the summer of 1853 the Rogue River Indians swept down upon the straggling settlements in Southern Oregon, murdering the inhabitants, burning homes and carrying away captives. There was a call for volunteers, and Father organized a company or detachment known as "Captain Lindsay Applegate's company of mounted volunteers." Brother Elisha was then twenty-one years of age, I was seventeen, and we both enlisted for the war. The tribe inhabiting the Rogue River Valley was small and has been estimated at eight hundred people; less than half were warriors. This tribe was divided into small bands or tribes under sub-chiefs. Chief John, as he was called by the whites, was head chief of all these tribes, their great war chief. A treaty was made with these Indians in September, 1853, at our encampment, which was between the upper Table Rock and Rogue River. After the treaty had been made Chief John and his son visited our camp. The son was about my age, only a boy. We had many interesting talks together, and I liked and admired the young chief.

Jesse A. Applegate, Recollections of My Boyhood, Review Publishing, Roseburg, 1914, page 98


    "In the spring of 1851 we went prospecting in Southern Oregon. Occasional trappers had been through the country around the Illinois River, but it had not been prospected. I took the first wagon through from the Rogue River country to the Illinois River. There were five in our party. Miners were scattered all through the hills of Northern California and Southern Oregon, prospecting on the tributaries of the Trinity, Shasta, Pit, Sacramento, Umpqua and Rogue rivers. While we were on Applegate Creek, Chief John, who had about 50 warriors of the Ech-ka-taw-a tribe, came to us and told us he knew where a creek was where there was much coarse gold. We offered him a pair of blankets to show us the place. He took two of our men there. They came back and reported the creek rich, so we went there. This was on a tributary of the Illinois, where Limpy and his band of Haw-quo-e-hav-took Indians were very troublesome."
John W. Althouse, quoted by Fred Lockley, "Oregon: In Early Days," Oregon Journal, Portland, May 18, 1915, page 4



    After furious battles and bloodshed, old Chief John was fought at bay. "You are a great chief; so am I," said John to Colonel Buchanan. "This is my country. I was in it when these trees were very small, not higher than my head. My heart is sick fighting Bostons, but I want to live in my country."
"Days of Gold in Oregon Recall Sudden Wealth,"
Sunday Oregonian, Portland, January 7, 1917, page 65


    [Lieut. Phil] Sheridan arrived [at Grand Ronde] in April, 1856. The Rogue Rivers, with Old Chief John, had just arrived. . . . Very soon Chief John, over on the Siletz, got up a rebellion and Sheridan and his troopers were sent to quell it. Sheridan found that on account of some failure of the commissariat the Indians were out of food and in danger of starvation. Blaming the agent for this they had besieged him for days in a log hut, and Sheridan arrived just in time for rescue.
    Sheridan had driven with him over the mountains a few head of beef cattle, and ordered them killed at a little distance from his camp. The Indians rushed up like wild men and drew their knives. Immediately Chief John leaped to Sheridan's side and bade the Indians "Back," and in his rude eloquence held that hunger-crazed crowd at bay until Sheridan's company could hasten up from camp.
    Sheridan always felt grateful to Chief John for his loyalty on that occasion, and often secretly aided his family with gifts of coffee and sugar.
    The winter was very rainy, the Indians were homesick, and many of them died. "It is not your wars, but your peace that kills my people," said Chief John solemnly. Soon after, a plot was discovered among the Indians to run away from the reservation and get back to their old home in Southern Oregon. Chief John and his son, the leaders, were arrested and put on a steamer to be sent to California. When the steamer arrived off Rogue River, old Chief John and his son nearly captured the vessel in their efforts to escape and swim to the shore they loved so well.
"Oregon Has Many Notable Names on Roll of Heroes Who Aided in Crushing Rebellion," Sunday Oregonian, Portland, January 14, 1917, page 49


    Shasta John was the most feared of all Pacific coast Indians, and for him was named Shasta Mountain.
    Shasta John directed every man personally in battle with the whites, for his voice could be heard a mile, and he told each man when to attack, lie down or retreat. Finally captured, he was brought to Siletz, but there raised so much trouble he was sentenced to the government penitentiary in San Francisco Bay.
"Indians Deplore Paying Taxes on Land," Sunday Oregonian, Portland, June 1, 1919, page 12


INDIAN ATTACK RECALLED
CHIEF JOHN NOT KILLED, SAYS MRS. MARY LOCKWOOD.
Woman, Passenger on Steamer Columbia, Tells How Red Men Attempted to Escape.
    Further light upon the thrilling episode of Oregon pioneer days when Chief John of the Rogue River Indians attempted to escape from the steamer Columbia, in which he was being taken to California following the murder of 20 white families by the Indians under his leadership, is given by Mrs. Mary C. Lockwood, who lives near Kendall station on 83d Street Southeast. Mrs. Lockwood is a pioneer resident of Oregon and was on the steamer Columbia when Chief John attempted his escape. She was 89 years of age.
    In a recent account of the episode it was said that following the attempt at escape Chief John was put to death. This, according to Mrs. Lockwood, is erroneous, the Indian chief having been taken to California, where he was confined in the federal prison for many years.
    "I was a passenger on the steamer Columbia at the time the Rogue River Chief John and his son were taken to California as prisoners in charge of Sergeant Davis from Vancouver," said Mrs. Lockwood. "This was in 1858, the Indians having been captured following an uprising under their leadership in which 20 families of settlers were massacred.
    "The Indians were in irons until we crossed the Columbia River bar, and then the irons were taken off and they were allowed some liberty, and walked about on the deck. When we arrived at Humboldt Bay, the ocean was very rough, so the ship was anchored for the night. We all went to bed and slept soundly until late in the night. At that time I was aroused by heavy blows upon my head. The room was dark and I couldn't see what was going on, but I knew that my husband had also received a heavy blow upon the head.
    "The watch on deck had heard a noise below and had given the alarm of fire. Rising and looking about me I soon made out the dark figure of Chief John. He had first struck me and others in the room with a piece of fire wood, but now he had wrenched a piece of iron from one of the tables. Taking my 14-month-old baby in my arms, I made for the stairway. All the other passengers were excited and were running and pushing in the same direction. Chief John aimed a blow at my baby, but I thrust my arm up in time and received the blow, which broke my arm. A man then came to my rescue and grappled with the Indian while I made my way up the stairs."
    After a struggle the Indians were made captive again and were taken on down to San Francisco, where, according to Mrs. Lockwood, they were confined in a federal prison.
Sunday Oregonian, Portland, June 22, 1919, page 11


    A series of quarrels, Dr. [Franklin M.] Carter said, started the wars between the reds and whites. Tyee John, a Shasta chief, whose followers occupied the region from Klamath Falls to Mount Shasta, felt that they were abused by the white settlers who invaded their section soon after 1850. The feud started in the murder of Tyee John's son by a white man. Reprisals were made and several whites were killed. Eventually two of John's sons were hanged at Yreka.
"Private Feuds Real Cause of Old Oregon Indian Wars," Oregonian, Portland, June 6, 1932, page 16


    A great amount of space might be given to Head Chief John of the Rogues. He was one of the most indomitable and cruel of all savages, as well as being outstanding among red generals on the North American continent. An authentic note that did not get into any general Oregon or other history reads:
    "This morning Capt. Ord's command arrived, bringing in the famous John and his band, the terror of southern Oregon." The date was July 2, 1856, and the place Port Orford. Another note of the same kind, same place, date July 10, 1856, reads:
    "Old John's band got off [from Port Orford], escorted by Major Reynolds' company and a detachment of Co. E, 4th Infantry. The troops took with them over 200 splendid mules, 160 of which were used for pack animals."
    Major Reynolds, several days later, delivered old John and his family and his band to Capt. D. A. Russell and Second Lieutenant Philip H. Sheridan at the newly established Fort Yamhill, commanding the United States troops which guarded the Coast Reservation.
Robert J. Hendricks, "Bits for Breakfast," Oregon Statesman, Salem, June 3, 1937, page 4


Military Prowess of Rogue Indian Chief John Is Recalled
By WAYNE MILLER
Mail Tribune Correspondent
    Major James Bruce, one of the finest volunteer officers the Rogue River Indian Wars produced, had grievous personal reasons to know the military prowess of Chief John because of a battle fought in the Applegate River country.
    John, with a few warriors and their women, fortified three abandoned miner's cabins there, almost under the noses of Fort Lane's regulars. Bruce and captains Alcorn and Rice fought them there for three days without success until 40 regulars arrived from Fort Lane with a howitzer.
    The Indians had dug a tunnel underground leading to open country and rifle pits in the corners of the cabins, with loopholes in the logs. They fought the U.S. troops until nightfall. After dark the Indian men and women filtered through the 130 encircling troops. They escaped.
Strategist
    Chief John was the man the settlers aroused to action in 1851. General Joseph Lane noted before the U.S. Senate that John once very nearly annihilated the command of Captain A. J. Smith, whom he termed "one of the most gallant officers in the world."
    Nationally known for his exceptional Mexican War record, Lane stated that he himself "knew little about the arts and stratagems of Indian warfare" until he fought John. In one battle, half his men were killed. In another, all but one, including Lane, were wounded or killed. He considered himself fortunate that John really wanted a treaty rather than a battle.
    "The Indians never were really whipped," he reported. "They retreated. John himself was beaten in the field but only after the other bands had deserted him for peaceful ways." [These last two paragraphs paraphrase Lane's 1860 address to Congress.]
    Few American Indians ever displayed the military ability that marked John. Hopelessly doomed, he did not know that: he knew that the Rogues were lost unless he fought. His response to that challenge ranks him with the greatest Indian leaders.
Had Small Area
    Chiefs such as Kamiakin, Sitting Bull and Geronimo had almost limitless areas in which to maneuver and avoid capture. John had but 600 square miles.
    The combined talents of the finest American soldiers and 3,000 troops were necessary to capture him, an effort equal to that required for Sitting Bull's 7,000 men and Joseph's handful. His warfare sharpened the claws of some of the best Civil War generals. Prussian military genius studying those campaigns later produced the most fearsome armies in Europe.
    John not only spread terror to the overwhelming number of settlers but struck chiefs Jo and Sam because of what he regarded as treason for concluding and observing treaties negotiated with the whites.
    Outnumbered more than 15 to one, he utilized his wilderness and high mobility to move and protect his noncombatants in an area highly fortified. He seized ammunition, rifles, food and blankets, kept troops in hazardous pursuit, occasionally defeated them and rendered the whole area highly dangerous to the enemy.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 15, 1965, page C7


Last revised May 16, 2017