For Lane biographies, see here.
Joseph Lane campaign ferrotype, 1860
Gen’l. Joseph Lane’s Narratives.
Time and Place--In the parlor of the Clarenden House, Portland, Or., Friday, June 21st 1878
Present--Lane, Bancroft, and the writer, A.B.
Personale--See at the end
Mr. Lane said: I was born in North Carolina on the 14th of December, 1801, in Buncombe County, right up in the mountains.
I was raised, or partly raised, in Henderson County, Kentucky; then went over to Indiana and took a berth in a clerk’s office and served a time there. At the age of 20 or between 20 and 21 I was taken up by the people and put in the Legislature. That fastened me to Indiana.
My father located on the other side. I was permitted to go out early and served a regular apprenticeship in a clerk’s office. I did recording and everything a person can do to make out complete records.
I served in the Legislature from 1822 to 1846 and then went into the army to assist in fighting the war with Mexico and continued till the close of it. Directly afterwards I was appointed by Mr. Polk, and at his earnest request I undertook to organize the territorial government here under his administration.
Then it was quite a trip overland. I arrived at home from Mexico in August. In August  I received Pres. Polk’s letter and commission by a special courier requesting me to accept the commission and go to Oregon and organize the government before the 4th of March following. "Do this," said he, "and you will oblige me more than you can conceive."
It was that letter, not the commission, that led me to accept. It was, say, the 27th of August; I think I am not mistaken in the day. I had arrived home and was mustered out about the middle of August; returned home and received this commission from the hands of the courier and made up my mind to go. That was on the 28th. On the morning of the 29th I got on a steamboat for St. Louis. There I had an interview with Gen. [Stephen W.] Kearny, commanding Jefferson Barracks--a splendid man, a splendid soldier, and an elegant gentleman. Took breakfast with him and his wife. He died directly afterwards--he was sick then. He told me, "General, it is utterly impossible for you to go to Oregon now; no man has ever crossed the plains in winter; you cannot get away from Leavenworth for a number of days yet; you cannot go." "Well," said I, "General, I did not come to consult you about the trip but about an escort; will you give me an escort?" He said I could have it. Said I, "I do not want a company; we could not subsist them. I want a lieutenant and 20 men subject to my orders." "That you can have," said he. "You can have Roberts; you know Roberts, he served with you in Mexico." So I took 20 men, and on the 20th of September left and on the 2nd day of March I arrived here in a canoe--arrived at Oregon City and published a little proclamation making known to the people that the laws of Congress had been extended over the Territory since the 18th of August, and that I had arrived as Governor.
I sent a copy of the proclamation to Polk and felt proud that I had succeeded just within his term in accomplishing his wishes.
The reason why he desired this matter consummated within his term was because the organizing of the Territory was a favorite measure with him. He had urged on Congress the passage of the bill extending the laws of the United States over Oregon in order to afford the inhabitants protection. The Cayuse War a short time before had given them a great deal of trouble, and a few of our best men had been killed. The Waiilatpu massacre of Whitman and others, had taken place.
I was appointed Governor and ex officio Superintendent of Indian Affairs. Everything was placed in my hands.
I left there the 10th of September and arrived here in this very town, now a great city, when there were only two or three houses in it; paddled the canoe with my own hands, proceeded to Oregon City without delay and then issued the proclamation at Oregon City. Mr. Curry, afterwards Gov. Curry, had a little press, and I had the proclamation in type and a number of copies distributed around the country.
I then attended to other duties--taking the census, making an apportionment for representatives, and called an election. As soon as I could I convened the Legislature, and in the meantime between the issuing of the proclamation fixing the day of election and then between the day of election and the time for the meeting of the Legislature I was engaged in the Indian country all the time, looking after Indian affairs and making the relations between the whites and the Indians as good as they could be for the protection of the settlements.
Gov. Curry is as pure a man and discharged every duty entrusted to his hands as faithfully as could be. Recollect that he is worthy of being remembered. He was at that time here a very quiet citizen, publishing a little bit of a paper, the Free Press. I do not know whether any copies of it are in existence now or not. I could not use him further than as private secretary, or assistant, to aid me in writing. He was doing nothing but publishing that paper. He had just come across two years before, in 1846, I think. I came in 1848-9.
He aided and assisted me in every way that he could. It was necessary to have his services, as the private secretary appointed by the government had not reached here, and he did not reach here until about the time of the meeting of the Legislature. He came by the first steamer, I think. When he got here I had no further use for Curry, only to advise with me and get his opinion about the whereabouts and disposition of the Indians, and I acted a good deal upon his advice so far as finding them was concerned. In treating with the Indians, I must say I exercised my own judgment, and in regard to war questions I did not consult anybody. I had only recently come from the battlefield, and I understood bringing troops into position, for I was with Taylor at Buena Vista and with Scott--who gave me a carte blanche and selected me from many of his generals--I beg pardon now for saying it--but besides I fought a good many battles on my own hook. I fought for him the last battle and gained the last victories in Mexico.
The last gun fired and the last beautiful victory was brought on under his orders, but at a great distance from his quarters, for I was sent out specially.
The history of my part in the Mexican War, where there were so many others more deserving, was still a brilliant one; and some writers have said a more brilliant one than that of any other man in any other country, or in any age--but I do not want that kind of thing to be said.
I would not have gone back to that only in connection with my ability to deal with the Indians.
Mr. Bancroft--I would like to have you give me an account of your services in Mexico.
Mr. Lane--My first year was under Taylor. I entered as a private and came out as a major general by brevet, for meritorious conduct.
After the battle of Buena Vista--I was the fighting general in that battle--Gen. Wool was there, but he was a staff officer; his command was left in the rear; part was in the battle, but not under his immediate orders--a gallant old man, and a good soldier, and I loved him. He was my kind, good friend. But that was my first battle. They said I did my duty. I carried good receipts for it. Was twice shot. I remained there with Taylor’s command.
Scott was on the other line. Taylor concluded that he would make no advance from Buena Vista. Consequently he fell back himself on Monterrey and marched down to Tampico and made a kind of reconnaissance, examined the condition of the enemy, not with a view of fighting battles, and he did not fight any. But I remained in my encampment at Buena Vista until the time of service of that brigade expired. I was ordered then to proceed with them to New Orleans, and did so.
From Washington I received orders to return to the line very much against my wishes. But they had ordered it, and I obeyed quick.
Returned to Taylor’s line, and the brigade assigned to me had been coming out while I was going in. So I found a large command made up of Indiana, Ohio, and a variety of troops, some from Georgia and the Hayes [John Coffee "Jack" Hays] regiment, the Texas Rangers. That gave me a fine brigade.
When I left New Orleans after receiving the order to proceed again in Taylor’s line, I found the troops stationed all along just as they had been directed by the commanding officer; some at schools of instruction at Camp Mier, others at Matamoros, and along the country; all had some post, doing some necessary duty.
Well, it was the time of instruction, of drill. I passed along examining the troops. Reviewed them at different points; and when I got to Camp Mier, mark you, I found an independent company of horse commanded by Capt. Duncan which had been sent out at the special request of Hawkins, a senator from Indiana--a splendid man at that time. Duncan had been favored with the command, and a capital fellow he was too. He was at Camp Mier. When I arrived there he was sick. I found a company of friends there. Went to Duncan; he was lying under his marquee under the care of a physician. I asked him, "Duncan, have you received any orders from headquarters in relation to duty? You are not attached to any brigade or battalion now. What are you doing?" "Well, nothing," said he; "you see, I am not able to do anything." Said I, "I want a portion of your company, about 40 men, to escort me up to Taylor’s headquarters at Monterrey." He said, "It would afford me a great deal of pleasure. I only regret I cannot go." Said I, "You can, and it is necessary you should. I shall order an ambulance, an easy one, and an army surgeon, and the trip will restore you; if you lie in this low country the chances are against you."
I took Lieut. Mitchell and 40 of his horse and set out. When I got up to Marin, a little town, I found unfortunately for the fellow a man by the name of Minard from New York, agent and supercargo for a large stock of goods sent from New York to be delivered at Monterrey by the merchants in New York. The Mexicans were to furnish transportation, but Minard had the supervision and care, and was to receive the pay. He told me, "General, you know ________ ["Macaches" lightly penciled into a place left blank in the transcription] is in our front, and we have no means of reaching Monterrey without your protection; now will you escort us up?" I told him, "No, I will not; I did not set out to escort private property," and I had a duty to perform, Scott on the other line and Taylor in a great hurry. But he insisted on account of the large amount of money involved, and his duty in relation to it, that everything depended upon his getting up safely, his owners would be broken up if they lost this cargo of goods. So after listening to it all I told him I would escort him up. I said, "There must be an understanding between you and me. These Mexicans must load up their cargo at 4 o’clock and start at any rate at 6 o’clock in the morning." The muleteers were all ordered up and agreed to obey, and the head packers gave their word it should be done. So we set out. We did not get started as early as I expected. It worried me the first morning, but before I went 30 miles I found it was the intention of the enemy to have that train. Consequently, I placed myself under the strictest vigilance and left nothing unobserved, noticed every horseback [sic--horse track?] and every foot track. And became more and more satisfied that the force was a strong one. I had but 40 men. I placed 25 in front and 15 in the rear, under Mitchell; those in front under my own eye. I told Mitchell to fight to the death if they attacked, and not to give up a single mule; we had undertaken to take them up and we must do it.
There was evidence of their being in ambuscade, but they did not attack us. We passed on to Ramos [apparently Ramos Arizpe] and then got into an open country where I had no fear for four miles. I let the whole train pass while I was there; looked into everything connected with our equipments to the minutest details, and told Mitchell there was but one chance for the enemy to strike us between there and Marin--Seramo is the name of the place I meant before. At Marin the enemy had been very careful not to involve themselves for fear of losing their very pretty little town. "Now," said I, when we got near to the point where Col. Barbour was cut off, "in this ravine there is a great danger of an attack. You must be very vigilant, move slow and cautiously." There was dense shrubbery about half a mile from there, and about a mile and a half from Marin, but the shrubbery lasted only half a mile. As you got out of that it was the prettiest little valley you could imagine, lovely as a paradise.
Canales had, I think the aid of the town; he had everybody apprised of the purpose he was going to accomplish. He had determined in having that train, and the superintendent of the muleteers was concerned in it too. That I had no doubt of afterwards, for when we got out of this shrubbery into that beautiful little prairie, he rode up to me and said, "General, I congratulate you; you are safe now to go into the town and take some pulque. "I told him, "No, sir, I am going to see this train out." The rear was a mile back then. It was very hot, the 14th day of August--the sun beaming down. Finally I got to believe there was no danger myself. I did not think then of any attack, and after we had got along half a mile into the open little prairie I raised a gallop and said to Capt. Duncan, "I will ride into town and get myself washed by the time you get in and get good quarters for you." So I dashed up to the house where I had always stopped, taking a boy with me, and rode right into the court and gave my horse to a servant, a Mexican. He led it in. I noticed where he led it, and I asked for water to wash. I took off my holsters, containing a pair of fine dueling pistols, and I had a pair of six-shooters in the holsters, which were laid down beside me. My horse was a mare, a fine animal, fleet as the wind, a full-blooded Kentucky-bred mare. And just as I had washed my hands a little, the dust six inches thick all over me, I had thrown off my uniform and had commenced to throw two or three handfuls of water over my head and face. The boy came in and said, "General, you never heard such a firing as there is back there." It took me all unawares. I had allowed myself to be deceived.
I ordered the Mexican to saddle my horse. The whole court was full of people; I noticed that and thought that had not been usual before. He hesitated, and I said, "Bring my horse immediately." I jerked out my pistols and said, "Get my horse or I will blow your brains out." I cinched the saddle myself and jumped on it. But the gateway was all full of people. The horse was spirited and I had not taken my spurs off. When I straightened up on the horse with a pistol in my hand, I gave him the spurs, and by George everybody had to get out of the way! And in an instant I was off like a streak of lightning.
Said I, when I got back to the party, "Duncan, what is the matter?" He said the firing was all in the brush, and there was a hollering and shouting. So I dashed on and directly I found Minard lying in the road shot all to pieces.
It was their intention to kill him and get the goods. They had gotten about half the train. Mitchell had been driven from the road. They had perhaps only one-third of the train--40 or 50 mules.
I called out to Mitchell and he answered the second or third time I called. I said, "Come up here; how has this happened?" He said the first thing he knew on both sides of the road he was fired on, and two of his men were killed. He took refuge in the brush. He could see the enemy had cut the train in two and started back the road. I said, "We will have to get them back." He said, "The idea, General! There are only 15 of us in the first place." By that time some of the Texans--cutthroats and everything--had joined us and there was half a dozen. They said, "General, we are with you." "Well," said I, "all right; we can go and get the train back."
There was no trouble in following the mule tracks. About a mile from there I found they had left the road. I pursued as fast as possible on a little trail and directly I found a little mule tied to a bush. Said I, "We are all right, boys," and we kept on at a gentle trot. Directly I found another mule fastened. "There is no mistake, boys," said I, "we will have the balance directly." I kept them in good spirits. Those Texans--gamblers and whatnot--were anxious for a fight, and Mitchell was getting over his bad luck, and was anxious to recapture the train.
I happened to see them, being in front some little distance, making across a little valley leading right up San Juan River. Their intention was to cross and then to fight us when we were in the river. The moment I saw them I stopped a moment and ordered the men up and said, "Now follow me; keep up at my speed, and strike for the center. Just follow me: That is the signal. And when we strike that line we will separate a portion to the right and left, and you must shoot and use the sabers; shoot and holler all you can, and we will bring that train back."
The Mexicans thought, I suppose, when our men began to shoot and to holler that some large cavalry force was on them, for I never heard such unearthly shouts. We dashed right in, and sure enough they scattered right and left. I led and took a route past the mules and began to turn them back; they were anxious themselves to get back because they had been separated from their leaders. They took the trail. The Mexicans, 200 or 300 of them, meantime, got on the hills, but they did not attack us after that.
The same night, before night, we had got the train back to Marin including every mule and every cargo of goods. And then I sent out men and brought in Minard, and we gave him a nice burial that night--a night burial. And I told the alcalde I was vexed a little with him and that I had some thoughts of taking revenge upon the town. Said I, "You knew this thing was going to happen; I know it from the number of strangers I found here. You had no right to know it without sending notice to me." He declared he was innocent and pled off just as a Mexican can. I said to him, "Now raise me an escort of 20 men, well armed, subject to my orders, and I will let it pass." After I got ready the next morning I placed half under Mitchell and took the balance of the force in front. I took ten of the volunteer Mexicans and left ten or fourteen with the Texans. I made the Texans swear in case of attack if they did not behave handsomely to shoot down the ten in the rear and I would do the same in front.
In two days I took the goods through to Monterrey. But there was no supercargo [i.e., officer in charge of the cargo--Minard’s former title]. Now said I, "General, these are all the circumstances; these goods are all subject to your order. I have had the mules all unloaded here. These Mexicans cannot be trusted. Mexicans generally cannot be trusted. Here are the papers I took from the body of Minard; I have not examined them. Now give me a mounted force and I will clear the country of all this kind of enemies." I said I was ready to start in two minutes.
Says he, "Don’t hurry; you cannot get off for a month, and Gen. Cushing is ahead of you--he is encamped on the Rio Grande and has made a requisition for transportation so you need not start off without your dinner at least."
My horse had a little rest, and Duncan was feeling better, and after dinner I received an order and started right back on the road and kept up a quick, active march, as fast as the horses could stand it, until I got down to the camp of instruction. There I picked up the traps, struck tents and ordered the men to march to the mouth of the Rio Grande. There were plenty of little steamers, but the river was navigable only a short distance. We could not get to Camargo. I hurried all down to Cushing’s encampment and directed the little steamers as they came along to go right down to the mouth of the Rio Grande and to join the troops on that sand beach.
I stopped to see what Cushing had to say. He said, "There is no use for you to go. It is not possible to get off. You must stay here and take care of the health of your men." I told him I had camped on the beach and understood it and would run the risk of getting transport. Said I, "General, we must go; Scott needs assistance; he is without supplies, and as you say, Taylor says he cannot get them and is waiting now for some troops to come up."
We got to the mouth of the river at dusk. I rode up the beach nine miles, and from the quartermaster demanded transport for my command. Said he, "General, what do you mean? Do you know Cushing is ahead of you, and that I have sent for transport?" Says he, "Here is a fine little steamer--but you had better go back to the camp, where your men will be comfortable."
Said I, "That don’t suit me. I am on my way to Vera Cruz."
There were 30 little schooners and brigs and condemned vessels lying in the bay dismantled, etc., the sails rolled up, and put away in the quartermaster's sheds and about 50 sea captains under pay waiting for orders and ready to do any duty in their line and a great many sailors drawing rations and under pay. Said I, "Cannot I go on these little vessels?" He said, "They will sink before you are out [of] sight." Said I, "That is my business. You put men on these boats; I will crowd them."
I asked the captains if they were willing to run the risk. They said they were subject to orders, and they did not care much if they did risk it, they were tired of doing nothing.
Said I, "I will give you a chance. This night I shall have to assign a number of captains to duty. Each one of you take your vessels; the first aboard can have the vessel he boards, and if there [is] any choice the next can take it, and the next; but go aboard immediately. Bring in your sailors. The quartermaster will send you 25 men for each vessel. Have them bailed out and the sails rigged by tomorrow noon. And don’t fail to do it. Have a false bottom put in of dry boards and take 10 days’ rations for as many men as the captain says the vessel will carry." Next day the vessels began to look like going to sea: masts up, sails on, water on board. Before dark I had a line of vessels outside the harbor, and I jumped on board the little steamer that was going to New Orleans to bring other transport, and we went out in the rear of the command. That was the 13th of September 1847.
Just as we got out to sea, as God would have it, a norther must come--and only as it can come down on that coast--you are aware. It was dark, but the captains had their compasses. Well, down we went right before it, and on the 16th I had every man landed in Vera Cruz, and every horse on shore, with [an] abundance of provisions and water left and everything safe except one vessel, which struck the beach nine miles above the city. Every wave took it up higher, however, so that when the storm was over she lay further than that house from the water.
Col. [Charles H.] Brough was himself on that vessel--a splendid man--a good lawyer, an elegant gentleman, and a fine soldier. Next day he marched his men down. Then I went to Col. Wilson, an old regular army officer who had a high notion of the manner of conducting business, and who did not like the volunteers or citizen soldiers very much. I liked him nevertheless. I ran over to the palace--down on the wharf just out in front on the shore from the castle of San Juan de Ulloa. There was that beautiful city and the palace that Wilson was occupying. I went in quickly and reported. Said I, "Colonel, I want your aid quick; I want your assistance to get away from here and to get to Scott as soon as possible." He said, "I am aware, General, that Scott is there and that he has got to fight his way back, the enemy occupying all the roads, the supplies exhausted; the country cannot furnish him anything because every man is shot down as a traitor that undertakes to bring him any cattle, sheep or goats. You know how it is." "Well," said I, "assist me, Colonel, I want mules for 100 wagons; I want provisions of ammunition for my own command, and 50 ["tons?" penciled into space left blank in ms.] for Scott's command. Let there go on each wagon a ton of provisions." "Well," says he, "you make a requisition for any amount of provisions. We have enough here for Scott’s army for three years." And so I found out. "But," he says, "we cannot get any mules."
Just then it happened that Capt. Lewis came along with a fine company of cavalry. I asked, "What is the reason I cannot have this company of horse?" He said, "They belong to me; they are my escort; that can’t be."
"Well, then," said I, "you may consider yourself relieved of your command. You will be governor of the city; the military orders you will receive from me."
That was a hard knock, but he was proud of it afterwards. I called in Capt. Lewis and received of him about [omission] mules. He said he thought he knew where he could get them. I said, "Proceed at once and make sure you have no misfortune and purchase 600 mules, 700 if you can get them. Buy them at as low a price as you can and assure the owner when he delivers them here he shall have his money."
Says he, "We have the money subject to your orders, and wagons there are by the dozen and corn for feed and blacksmiths to shoe the animals."
They brought in that evening 600 mules. We paid $18 apiece for them; they were paid for the next morning.
That evening they shoed them--no matter how well, but in the shortest possible time. We had the 600 mules shod that night. The quartermasters were busy laying out harness and getting the wagons oiled for the next day.
Next day we made a detail and hitched six mules to each wagon and then detailed men to push at the wagons. That day we loaded up and camped about three miles outside of the city.
Wilson forgave me. Said he, "I did not know you had this kind of force about you, but I understand it now." He said he was proud of my energy.
The first day out we were attacked, and harassed--fired on, and we could not get to the enemy. They were in the chaparral. They knew every little inequality [of the terrain] and dodged under the thorns. Our infantry could not overtake them. Then they would leave and concentrate at another point ahead. They worried me terribly.
That was the occasion for the side movements I made by night--in order to break them up. And I did pretty well.
I kept up the march; lost a few men and a few officers, necessarily so. But we kept in the march and did the best we could to scout and drive them off.
But they had such an advantage that it was an impossibility to keep them away entirely. We met Santa Anna at Huamantla, where he had fixed a trap for me, but I got him out of it and gave him a terrible whipping. I forced him to fight outside of his strong position and gave him such a terrible thrashing that he retired entirely. I lost 80 men. That was the battle of Huamantla.
Well, now, I ought to explain a little the position at Huamantla, and the advantage that Santa Anna thought he had. He believed it was in his power to cut off and defeat any expedition that would undertake to relieve Scott, and here is the reason: When I arrived within about 12 hours of Pass Pinelle [Pinel Pass] I knew Santa Anna was in my front, and that we had to meet him at some point--I did not know where--and that he had a strong command, a larger force than I had, so that it would be necessary to make a reconnaissance. So I encamped at this point where we afterwards buried our dead, and in the night I sent out scouts up here (on an imaginary diagram) [parentheses in original]. Mark you, Pass Pinal is a long pass through a mountain otherwise impassable. Just to the right of the road there was a ravine 30 feet deep for four miles; then there were 30 miles along the road where the stream ran parallel with the road and with the base of the mountain. And here all along this ravine it was covered with brush and chaparral, so that no man could get through without using an ax first to cut away the brush. He had cut away a track for his artillery--for the balls to play upon us--very narrow, but it was massed. Each opening had been massed, and his artillery was strung along here.
The mountain turned suddenly from the left to the right and opened out into a beautiful pine wood. There he had thrown up heavy and strong earthworks, and his artillery bristled every 10 feet right in front. He intended to let us come in where it was impossible to fight, where we could not bring up anybody, because there was not to exceed 30 or 40 feet to do it on. There he intended to sweep us, where we could not get out of his range.
Across this ravine he would be on our flank all the way, you see. He could destroy us there before we could get back out of the way.
It was a well-laid plan. Santa Anna had plenty of generalship and strategy and understood well his duty.
I sent out one scout--indeed there were two Mexicans that I had out with me on Taylor’s line; they were employed as interpreters; although they did not speak a word of English, I found I could use them. They were hired as interpreters.
From this point where he expected to receive us and to commence the fight it was about six miles to Huamantla. Huamantla was near the base of a mountain that ran across here and a very pretty city. From my encampment it was only nine miles to Huamantla, and it was 12 to this point (indicating).
The scout that went out in this direction reported when he came back that Santa Anna had his headquarters there at Huamantla where he was every day and that he would pass here finally to inspect his troops and works, which he still kept strengthening; that he knew my force and was waiting for me.
As soon as I got the information from the scout that stated all about the strength of this position I determined at once to march upon Huamantla and take the base of the mountain and get on his rear, between him and the mountain and force him to fight in the pine woods instead of coming up in front of his batteries.
But he saw my movement; the country was perfectly open; there was no timber at all. I started a little before day, and by the time I had marched half way, say four or five miles, it had got light and he saw with his glass the movement of troops here. And then he left with the main portion of his command, about 3000 lancers and a large infantry force, and started quick for Huamantla.
We saw him before he had got halfway. But he was going very rapidly, and we saw it was a race for the city. So our men were put at double quick and hurried the horses every jump to do all they could to get to the city first if possible.
Santa Anna succeeded, however, in reaching the city first and in getting his artillery in various plazas and streets that we would have to enter and that we were obliged to enter to meet him, and then his scouts took their positions in corn fields on each side of the main road that led into the city from my direction so as to harass us on the flank while he would be opening from the street I would enter.
Walker had, in his impetuosity, with his company of mounted rifles, entered the city a little before I got in unfortunately and fell at once and had his men driven into the cathedral or everyone would have been killed.
But we entered directly, and we had to carry those batteries--two guns, one in each street. A charge was made, and they were carried instantly--otherwise they would have been very hurtful. And finally at the main plaza we met Santa Anna in force, and there the main battle was fought. They were in the streets right and left and in the house tops; they had that advantage, and they killed more of our men than would have fallen if it had been an open field fight.
It did not last long. He carried everything at the point of the bayonet and by charges of cavalry--all in active motion under good officers, and all of us had seen battle.
So Santa Anna was whipped completely, and his staff were all captured; Iturbide, La Vega, and a number of others; I do not recollect all their names. La Vega was their main artillery officer, and Iturbide was at the head of the staff--the same old Iturbide who afterwards lost his head.
That occupied that day. We left the city, got our wounded in condition to put them in ambulances, and sent back to camp to bring up the ambulances. The next morning we were back at our encampment, and had Santa Anna so humbled that he never tried again to obstruct our movements.
Then it was a day and part of a day to the city of Puebla. We got into the city, relieved Col. Childs, as gallant an officer as ever lived. He had been forced to shut himself up in the black fort. He had been without rations and was starving. We relieved him and then I received orders, directly I announced my arrival, to remain and open the country.
So in a few weeks--it did not take long--a few days, we had fought the battle of Jalisco and other battles. We fought the country over in detail so as to ensure the reception of supplies from every quarter and get free access to the country, and to enable every one of the haciendas and the peons to bring in their supplies and surplus. The city was supplied and the army was supplied.
Then a train was sent on to Scott. The supplies reached him and he felt secure. The country was open. He was furnished with everything he needed, and he could have had ten times the amount he required for the maintenance of his forces.
It was subsequent to that and after this success that I in person was ordered to the city of Mexico to take command of the expedition contemplated against Querétaro. But it was abandoned, and then I was sent on other duty.
It would take a long history to give all the movements and contemplated movements made from the city of Mexico.
An incident of my reception at the city of Mexico was of interest to me, though not of any particular consequence in history. I was ordered to report in person to Scott. I received his order in the afternoon, and it was 75 or 80 miles from Puebla to the city of Mexico. We called it 75 miles. As soon as I received the order I went and had the regiment turned out and announced to them that I had been ordered to report to headquarters. I told the men that I was very sorry to be separated from them, reviewed the troops, and bid them an affectionate goodbye; took a mounted escort and set out at dark. The next morning at 10 o’clock I reported to Scott at headquarters.
I walked up and said, "General, here I am in obedience to your order." He looked at me a moment and extended both his hands. I had not met him before; I was not in his battles around the city. Said he, "When did you receive my order?"
I told him yesterday afternoon at 3 o’clock.
"And reported this morning," said he. "How did you do it? Haven’t you any regard for horses?"
I said, "Not when it is necessary to use them. I rode along."
"Well, well," said he, and after a brief conversation, I answering his questions, he said, "Well, you are without any exception ahead of any man, in the amount of service you have been performing, that I have known in my life, or perhaps in the world. You are the Marion of this war. Don't forget it--the Marion of the war," repeating it--half a dozen of his generals standing all around. They had been summoned out and I was introduced in that way.
We got through with that--and I was glad of it; you know how formal he was.
"Now," said he, "the first thing is to provide you with good quarters. You have been living most of the time in the saddle."
I said if there is nothing for me to do I would prefer to go back to my command.
Said he, "You must await my orders. Quartermaster, select good quarters."
Said I, "General, do not select for me such as these. It will be wrong for the people, and it will not be a favor to me."
But after dinner--I had to dine, of course, and to receive an introduction to everybody as "the Marion," and so on. And then the quartermaster reported that he had secured quarters, and I was requested to go and look at them, and if they were not satisfactory to have others procured.
He had selected quarters fine enough for a Wellington, or a Napoleon and all his staff, all very unnecessary, and I went back to the General and begged that I should not be urged to occupy them. I had no recourse but to go to the owner of the block--it was a whole block enclosed with a great building and having a great court with carriages and horses and a parlor 100 feet long and finer furniture than I had ever seen in my life, as well as finer than I have ever seen since; marble tops and mirrors full size. I could not turn around but I saw myself in everything, and I was disgusted. I told the owner, "The General orders me to take quarters here, and I have to obey orders, but I do not want this stuff, this furniture, here. You must remove it, sir."
He held up his hands in horror at first. He spoke English.
"Carry out all these lounges save one, and take out all these marble-top stands. I will have to receive officers, and orders--your fine carpets can remain. But these fine chairs must go out."
I had him busy with his servants half a day, stripping the parlor.
Scott did not like it very well, but I insisted on it. The first thing I knew, here came an order to me to act as general officer of the day, and that order offended me, for I had been general commanding where I had been for a long time. That was an evidence to me that I would be required to do military duty in the city.
I did not complain, but mounted my horse and was on duty all night posting sentinels and pickets and everything, and reported next day. Then in four or five days I received another order, and finally I went over to the General to know whether this expedition to Querétaro was to be brought about.
Said he, "General, I had selected a fine command for you to go there, but I trust we will do all this by negotiations. Do not be impatient. You see, Judge Clifford is here," and another man with a short name--Triste. Says he, "They are fixing it up. Do not say anything. Be quiet and wait."
I told him we desired peace. Said I, "General, if we can have peace without fighting that will be the best thing, but if you have anything to do I would be pleased to have the opportunity."
While I was at Puebla I must explain: I made the acquaintance of an old Englishman, Mr. Hilliard, a splendid business man who had charge of certain British mercantile interests there for many years. He was then in charge of the English cotton factories outside of the city. He called at my office. I studied him quickly, but I could not see through everything; in other words the acquaintance did not please me with the man. He was anxious to get at my plans and movements. I let him know directly that my own troops never learned those from me until I had a close use for them. I was as reticent as a man could be, and never let a human being know until I started, and it was necessary that they should [know].
Hilliard rode up in his carriage one day, very pompously, and said, "I am going over to Jalisco; have you any communication to make it to Gen. Rea?"
I said, "Mr. Hilliard, you are very kind, and just in time. I find the roads between here and Jalisco are obstructed. You will present my regards to him and beg him to open the roads and permit his countrymen to bring their cattle here. Otherwise I shall be obliged to pay my respects in person. He will oblige his people and himself too." It was a drive of 18 miles. After a while he returned in his pompous way--dressed up--and said, "I had the pleasure, sir, of delivering your message, and he said, after thanking you, that he would be very happy and would welcome you; that he would see you were brought in in safety."
Said I, "Mr. Hilliard, you have done your duty; I am much obliged."
Said he, "When will you pay your respects to him?"
I said, "In a week or two, and that is a matter that concerns me." Before Rea was aware of what I was going to do I had annihilated half his army, cut down 290 of them, and opened communication without any trouble in the world, and I brought up artillery to bombard him. They had fought very well, but Lord, they were whaled terribly. Finally they cried out for quarter and the artillery was ordered to desist firing. Rea went off.
I went back to the city and had nothing to do for a few days, and was studying about Rea. I was out at 10 o’clock at night, walking back and forth and studying about things and where Rea could [omission]. While I was meditating entirely alone--the staff had retired, my adjutant was in his room asleep--I heard Hilliard come walking up the road; I knew his walk. He had a heavy, solid stamp. But I was not sure.
The sentinel at the door ordered him to halt. Hiliard spoke to him. I knew his voice, and said, "I want to see the General; I am in a great hurry."
I stooped over the veranda and said, "Sentinel, pass Mr. Hillard in."
He opened the door and let him come in stamping up to me.
Said he, "General, what do you think?"--in a great rage.
Says he, "That d----d rascal Rea has captured our whole train and gone off in the direction of Querétaro."
"That large train of British goods that I had ordered and sent out from here three days ago. It had been shut up here all through the war, and the first opportunity when I thought it was safe to send them. They are captured, and they are now in the possession of the Mexican army."
"Well," said I, "You did not notify me that you were going to send a train out of the city. If you had done so I would have given you an escort. You did not even hint such a thing, and I did not know it had gone."
I said to him, "Now explain it to me. What was the amount of goods and the number of wagons."
He named the numbers, and said he, "The cargoes are worth more than the mules and wagons. Can’t you assist us in getting them back?"
I said, "You did not notify us about sending them off. You have no right to require it, and I suspect your interests are on the other side. You had [better] let them recover your goods, if you please, or let them go. It is none of my business."
He walked down the steps stamping harder than any man I ever heard.
The moment he was out of hearing I had got all the information I wanted and knew how to head Rea off. I knew he would have to pass [Tlaxcala] ["Clanmal" is penciled into a blank space left in the transcription]. There was a crosscut that I could take to that point in one day while on the ordinary route it would take three. They had immense wagons, and cargoes as high as this ceiling, an immense quantity of goods. [The rescue of the wagon train is covered beginning on page 167, General Lane’s Brigade in Central Mexico.]
As soon as that man was well out of reach I told an orderly to wake the adjutant quick and in a minute I had him off on his horse summoning up the troops I wanted to take with me. It was 11 o’clock. The troops were all the mounted force we had and 2 regiments of infantry and immediately ready for a night march, and full of fight.
Just as the bell struck 12 I set out in the direction of Clanmal. We had 18 miles to go. I had been on the road four times and knew it well. I hurried the men and coaxed them. I wanted to get him before he passed Cholula, otherwise I would have to meet him in his rear, and it would not be a surprise.
I would halt myself in front of the command and let the men pass and would talk to the soldiers, every man. Said I, "Boys, this is the time to strike."
We got out, and the sun was up a little. On that beautiful river I saw the train passing, and I ordered the infantry regiments to move rapidly.
The Mexicans had nothing but a cavalry force. I did not want to kill them badly, but I wanted to rescue that train. I wanted to surprise Rea, and old Hilliard too.
We saved every wagon except nine, and on them half of the goods were so burned that we could not save them before we could reach the rear. They were fired maliciously. A few wagons were lost entirely. But before night we had the wagon train all in good order and the mules headed into the road we went out, a narrow road, but wide enough for artillery.
Brough got very much hurt helping out some wagons that were stalled.
As soon as I saw everything safe I went on ahead to Puebla. I had not been in long when Hilliard had got news from the Mexicans of the whole thing.
He came to the quarters and said he, "General, I knew you were not going to let Rea capture that train."
I told him, "You did not know that, and I did not capture that train for you."
In two days I had the old man receipt to the Colonel for the return of the goods.
Then after that I got the order to go on to the city of Mexico.
I served on post duty until I got very tired of it.
When I went up the British minister met me and gave me a thousand thanks for that gallant recapture of English goods. "Oh," said I, "my Lord, I did it out of a frolic. I did not care much about the goods, but I wanted to whip that fellow Rea; I don’t want your thanks."
"Oh, no," said he, "you are entitled to my thanks."
I said, "I am tired of that. Let your thanks go to my troops."
Said he, "I must always consider myself your friend."
Said I, "That is all right." We had met and were acquainted at least.
One day I met [British minister Percy W.] Doyle on the street in Mexico. I turned so that he should not meet me; I was afraid he would be talking over the same thing. Said he, "General!" I halted, and he came bolting across the street in a great hurry. Said he, "I have a great deal of news to tell you. We have started our own carrier down to Vera Cruz with my dispatches in regard to mercantile and other matters, and he was seized by a bandit and whipped nearly to death and robbed of his dispatches. I want you to go and bring this man Heralta [Padre Celedonio Dómeco de Jarauta] to terms."
I said, "Not at your request. If Gen. Scott says so I will do it with great pleasure."
He says, "Oh, just leave that with me."
So we went off to Scott, and Scott took an hour to hear and then an hour to consider, and then he loved to talk so much, and he wanted things done right. He did not want anything done in a hurry. All that I did in that kind of warfare had not been in his line.
After a while Doyle came and said, "It is all right. Go over to headquarters quick; the General is just in the humor. Some of his dispatches were taken at the same time, and he is as angry as he can be."
I stopped into the General’s office. "Glad to see you, General," said he; "I have a job for you. You must go out"--and I had to be bored with the whole history again, and in his particular way, in that elegant way; no offhand about it. It was inflicted upon me, and I was so impatient, I wanted to go out, but I listened. Now, he concluded, will you go and bring this man to battle?
"Certainly, if you say so."
"Well, how large a force do you require?"
"You will leave that to me?"
"I have a cavalry force--"
"If I had that I could not do any good. You must allow me to have my way."
"You will be off tomorrow anyway?"
I was off in 20 minutes. And we pursued Heralta by night marches. It was about 140 miles from the city to Sequaltepan [Zacualtipan], where his headquarters were, and dashed in upon him at daylight. It was in the timbered portion of Mexico--the first regular shingle roof houses I had seen in Mexico.
After a very hard march and without going over the incidents of the march, or showing how I could possibly approach him without his knowledge, I will say that I arrived in view of his quarters at daybreak.
I rode in front, and ordered the staff to halt. I rode out a little just as it began to dawn to take a view of the city and try to get some idea of the enemy’s position and fortifications. While I sat on my horse there alone I noticed a gate thrown open on the main road leading right into the city. I saw the barracks door thrown open and horses led out. A man led three or four horses down to a little river, say, 100 yards from the little garrison. I knew at once that they were cavalry horses. I watched a little while and then motioned the adjutant to come up and ordered him to proceed back quick in the rear and order the cavalry to close up.
By the time they closed up it began to get quite light, and they were still bringing the horses out to the river. It was a pretty little stream. I said, "Follow me; we do not know how to act until we get into the town, and we must take these quarters first."
We started down the hill at full speed, and I rode a fleet animal. They had no arms and were ordered in the rear--those that we encountered first--and they were not struck nor harmed at all.
Others rushed back into that fort, and as they did so we followed them in. And we were mixed up together there for 15 minutes, until every man of them was killed. There was not a man left in the place. Then I saw the troops rush in two other directions, but I sat on my horse; I did not rush. I saw the lancers coming down the street leading to the place, and then I took it for granted there were camps in two places. So I told Hayes [Lt. Alexander Hays] to go this way and I went the other.
He engaged the lancers and had a very busy fight for half an hour. He took the quarters and took possession of the public property. He came then to report to me--we had carried the other fortification with Capt. ["Mantini?" penciled into a blank left in the transcription] and 50 prisoners. They begged for life and I would not shoot them. I told him my orders were to spare none.
In the barracks where the first fight was, the close firing with six-shooters communicated fire to the straw, and directly to the building, and it was all I could do for three hours to stop the fire. At last we had to surround it and strip the buildings of their roofs, and then use water--the troops and Mexicans helping.
We only burnt one block. But there were some buildings I would have been very happy to save, some stores.
And that is the way that battle came about--through Doyle’s friendship to me.
I suppose that is about as far as I can talk over the war in Mexico at this time.
----Oregon Matters Continued (in reply to Mr. Bancroft’s questions)
I was the Governor of the Territory for a time. I entered upon my duties here the 2nd of March. All these things had been accomplished that I mentioned--the organizing of the territorial government, the taking of the census, the making of an apportionment, dividing the counties into representative districts, the election of members and the convening of the legislature.
That was all done promptly because I wanted the action of the territorial legislature here. While they were in session I had no business to do, for the Governor had no veto nor approval. The laws had to be submitted to Congress for their approval.
In the meantime, my foremost purpose was the management of Indian affairs, to prevail upon the Cayuses to surrender up as prisoners the murderers of Whitman and others at his station.
I sent several couriers to the Dalles and went myself. They were finally prevailed on to give up Tilokite [Tiloukaikt] and four other principal murderers, and I brought them here under promise to give them a fair trial by a jury, entitled to counsel, and to a defense, and all the witnesses they could produce in justification of the murder, and I invited the chiefs to attend the trial.
I brought them down the Columbia River in a boat. I had Lieut. Addison of the Rifles, and half a dozen men, a small guard, say, eight or ten men with me.
We received them up there and brought them down the Columbia and paddled along the river by here and took them to Oregon City, where they were held as prisoners until the court could meet.
The Indians were tried fairly, and five of them were hung. Peace was made, which lasted for some time.
My efforts had commenced in 1849 to bring it to this conclusion in order to avoid war, but I did not succeed in getting possession of the murderers until 1850. Then I made the trip in purpose to get them, and they were brought down and hung as stated.
Gaines succeeded me under Taylor’s administration. The pressure was so hard on him for a place for his many friends that he was prevailed upon to remove me and appoint Gen. Gaines--Col. Gaines. You recollect Gaines’ and Cassius Clay’s surrender at Encarnacion? He was a prisoner of war during the whole balance of the war. He succeeded me by appointment. I went out about August 1850.
In the meantime I had very much to do in placing our Indian relations on a good footing, but had had no fighting.
I was elected to Congress afterwards. I went off mining after I was relieved of duty as Governor. Went down to California to digging gold, and felt very comfortable and happy while at it--fully satisfied I would reach a fortune every day. And I think I would have done so if I had held on long enough.
Thurston was elected to Congress and acted very handsomely. He got his donation law passed. He made himself so popular that neither I nor anyone else could have beaten him. While I was mining in 1851, about April or May, the news reached here of Thurston’s death at Acapulco. They sent a messenger to me. At first I was determined not to go, but then I began to think about home--I had been three years from home--and I concluded the trip to Washington would bring me in company with my wife and children. So I tore myself away from the gold mines.
Pierce came in in 1853 and I took care to have Mr. Gaines removed as a kind of compliment to me. "For your benefit I had been removed; now for my benefit you shall be removed." Pierce was a friend to me, and Curry was made Governor.
In 1853 I got a commission from Gov. Curry as a brigadier commander of volunteers against the Indians. I accepted the commission and started out, as I am in the habit of doing, without a moment’s reflection. After the battles of Rogue River and Battle Creek I had humbled the Indians so as to make a permanent peace with them, and I settled them down here on these reservations where the old chiefs all died, and where the balance of them still are.
Curry was governor of the Territory until the state government was organized. I left Washington while Curry was in office. But they had there some influence and procured the appointment of Davis, once Speaker of the House from Indiana--John W. Davis. I did not see him while he was here. We did not let him stay any longer than we could help; but we had to bear with him. Gov. Curry was kept in office as Secretary of the Territory.
We did not remove Davis but persuaded him to leave, and after a year or two he resigned and returned home, where he died. Curry then was made the governor and served as such until the state government was organized.
He was the governor in 1853, because I was commissioned by him brigadier, and fought those battles under that commission. But subsequently he was made to give place to Davis. And then Davis gave way to Curry again.
Mr. Bancroft--What is your idea as to the intentions of the government in regard to Dr. [Elijah] White, when he was sent out here?
Mr. Lane--I am not well enough acquainted with all the circumstances to know what was their intention. They sent him out here away back in 1846, or before that, as a kind of special agent with authority to transact business, but to what extent I do not know, for I never saw a document in relation to him, not one. I do not know whether he exceeded his authority or not. I made his acquaintance here, but it was only a short acquaintance. He was then a portion of the time east of the mountains, and I think a portion of the time directly after I came to California. I recollect the Doctor well, recollect conversations with him, recollect his idea of the cause of the massacre up there, but I do not recollect the nature of the conversations.
Mr. Bancroft--You never kept any journal?
Mr. Lane--Not an accurate one. I commenced it half a dozen times, but had so much duty and was so anxious to discharge my whole duty that I did not keep a steady journal. I have made some papers relating to Indian affairs here, that would be interesting, but they are scattered.
For ten years I have been living on a ranch alone--twelve years--but for ten years entirely alone. I had a little colored boy with me, and that was the only human being I had for company, unless one of the friends would drop in; it was inconvenient for them to do it too.
I lived as a hermit, and enjoyed my own society, with my books. I read constantly when not at hard work; I raised cattle, sheep, hogs, etc. Made a comfortable, a good living, and improved my ranch. I am now building a snug little house--where I would be happy to see you--just for my own use, in Roseburg, but open to my friends always. It has a small inside but a great deal of house outside with large porches, well finished and not too neat for an old hermit.
I was elected to Congress by the Democrats, and was run in the ticket for Vice [President]. When I returned home we had no railroad. I had to go by San Francisco and around by Panama and to New York. So the trip was not a desirable one every year, and I remained one Congress there; that is, would go in the fall, be there during the first session, and remain until the next year, spending my time up in New England or down in the mountains of Virginia somewhere, among the springs, seeing friends, and enjoying life.
The Indian trouble that I got into here was after 1851. In 1851 we had one very considerable trouble that caused a good deal of bloodshed--the time Lieut. [Stuart] was killed. That was just after I was elected and before I started for Washington the first time--in 1851.
When I returned in 1851 and brought out my family I had determined to locate at Umpqua Valley on account of the scenery, the grass and the water. It just suited my taste, so I went out there, instead of investing here and making my fortune. I wanted to please my fancy.
Before I had a house built, before I had my family comfortable, I had to go to the Rogue River War and fight the battles of 1853. That was done successfully under Curry's commission. Then I returned that fall, but carried one arm in a sling all the way to Washington, for they gave me a very ugly sore shot, and none but such a man as old Scott took me to be could have lived through it. For instance, I received one shot in the breast. It passed out behind and knocked the point of the shoulder blade to atoms. It barely missed shattering the backbone. I got well of that in a week and have been all right since. Another time I got shot in the right shoulder; how I got over that you will have to inquire of the doctor. I rode next day in the saddle 20 miles. The last shot was in August 1853 at the battle on Battle Creek, a branch of [Evans] Creek in Jackson Co. There we settled up the thing.
I made an expedition afterwards to old Atoc, one of the Tipsy band. I went into their quarters with one man in the night. We surprised them and we came pretty near being killed by them. I did not intend to go into their encampment. We were hunting them and crossed through some thick brush, not knowing that they were there at all. At that particular time we were hunting a place to camp. Just as our horses raised a bank, on the other side of it were the Indians. I called for Tipsy and told him I wanted to see him; that I did not come to fight him but to have a talk; that I wanted something to eat and to sleep with him. He said he had nothing to eat and nothing for his people, because we had been killing his hunters. They did give me something after a while, and I slept that night with them. I submitted to their pleasure so far as lying down was concerned, slept as much as I could, expecting to live or die just as it happened. The young squaws shouted and cried over the dead that fell a week before in the very battle where I was shot. It was a mistake I made. But they did not hurt me.
In the morning I persuaded him to meet me at a place where I said I would bring him some presents. There we made arrangements for him to deliver up the men who brought on the war. It was done, and they were tried and hung afterwards.
Then I started for home and for Washington.
They were known as the Shasta Indians. All of them belonged to the Shasta tribe, Tipsy's being only a branch of the Rogue River or Shasta Indians.
Joe, the great chief, and John, who subsequently had a war in 1855 or 1856, belonged to them. They were all relatives. There was John and Joe, and some other named brother.
Ralph Lane, secretary of the province of North Carolina, was the ancestor of our family. When they colonized the country he was engaged in some fracas in which a number of persons were killed. Ralph was blamed for it. He went back to Europe and married, and there is the origin of our stock. Bancroft in his History of the United States makes mention of Ralph. I went back to North Carolina in 1860 and found there plenty of persons who understood the family history like a book.
[Personale--Stature, about 5 ft. 8 in., rather sparely built, though not lacking in solidity; a "wiry constitution." Hair turned gray and thinned a very little over his forehead. Chin beard gray, upper and lower lips and cheeks shaven. Complexion "sanguine," cheeks rounded and of healthy color. A clear-cut, firm-looking countenance, with pleasing expression and a bright and twinkling eye.]
The following biographical article was transcribed from a magazine and bound along with the Lane interview and his subsequent letters. It was taken from the United States Democratic Review of May 1858, pages 379-388.
From a magazine dated May 1858.
Joseph Lane was born in North Carolina on the 14th of Dec., 1801. In 1804 his father migrated to the West and settled in Henderson Co., Kentucky. Thence, in the year 1816, his son went into Warwick Co., Ind., where he became a clerk in a mercantile house, a position in which he remained some years. Having married and fixed his abode, as he thought, for life, in Vanderberg Co., young Lane soon gained the confidence and esteem of the people, and at the election of 1822 was chosen by the voters of that county and Warwick a member of the Indiana Legislature. He was barely eligible when he took his seat, and though at that early age a "man of family," he seems from the accounts of his contemporaries to have presented at his entrance into public life the appearance of quite a juvenile legislator. Hon. Oliver H. Smith, for several years a U.S. Senator and a political opponent of Gen. Lane, in a work recently published, thus described his appearance at the opening of the legislature of which body he himself was also a new member. "The roll call progressing as I stood by the side of the clerk, 'The County of Warwick and Vanderberg,' said the clerk, I saw advancing a slender, freckle-faced boy, in appearance 18 or 20 years of age. I marked his step as he came up to my side, and have often noticed his air since; it was Gen. Joseph Lane of Mexican and Oregon fame in after years."
The youthful representative of Vanderberg and Warwick was subsequently reelected by the voters of those counties, and continued to serve them, at intervals of one or two years, in one or the other branch of the legislature from the year 1822 to 1846, a period of 24 years. To anyone who knows the fidelity of Gen. Lane to the high and responsible public trusts confided to him during the last 12 years, it is needless to say that as a member of the Indiana Legislature he was vigilant, active and efficient. Tenacious of the right and zealous to promote the interests of his constituents, he was at the same time just and liberal in his views on all questions affecting the rights and interests of other portions of the state. At a time when it was thought that Indiana, overburdened with debt, would be compelled to repudiate, he labored untiringly to save the state from this deep disgrace, and had the satisfaction at last of seeing his efforts crowned with success. Always capable of expressing his views clearly and forcibly on every subject of legislation, Gen. Lane justly thought that too much of the time of all legislative bodies was consumed in idle and unprofitable debate. He accordingly did not obtrude his opinions on the body of which he was a member, on all occasions whether suitable or unsuitable, but strove to discharge his legislative duties in a way which if not quite so ostentatious he well knew was far more creditable to himself and useful to his constituents.
An ardent supporter of the administration of Gen. Jackson and Martin Van Buren, as long as the latter followed in the footsteps of his illustrious predecessor, Gen. Lane took an active part in the struggles between the Democratic and old Whig parties, and by his great weight of character and frequent and laborious canvassing, he infused a spirit like his own into the Democracy of the state.
In the spring of 1846, the war commenced between the U.S. and Mexico, and a call was made upon Indiana for volunteers. Among the first to respond to this call was Joseph Lane. Without waiting for a commission from the President, regardless of every consideration of self-interest or self-aggrandizement, looking only to the fact that the country required his services, he enlisted as private in Capt. Walker's Co., 2nd Regiment Indiana Volunteers. His fellow soldiers, however, had no idea of permitting to remain in the ranks one whom nature had so obviously endowed with the qualifies of a commander. He was accordingly, on the completion of the regiment, unanimously elected Colonel soon after on the recommendation of the Indiana Legislature to Congress, and without any solicitation on his part, President Polk sent him a commission of Brigadier General.
The first service, if service it can be called, required of Gen. Lane after his arrival in Mexico, was extremely irksome and disagreeable. Stationed by order of the commanding general with his brigade in a swamp on the banks of the Rio Grande, he was compelled to remain inactive for several months. Here, under the sweltering heat of a tropical sun, his troops were decimated by the diseases peculiar to that pestilential climate. He, himself, was almost the only man belonging to the brigade who was not prostrated at some period during their long confinement on this fatal spot. At length the welcome order came to advance to Saltillo, of which place, on his arrival, he was appointed by Gen. Butler civil and military governor. Here, indeed, he was not long permitted to remain, being ordered with his command, after the battle of Monterrey, to join Gen. Taylor.
On the 22nd and 23rd of February, 1847, was fought the great battle of Buena Vista, which in nothing save the number of the combatants falls short of the most famous of modern times. The disposition of the American troops by the commanding general was such that during the engagement the brigade of Gen. Lane was in the hottest of the fight from beginning to end. The hostile operations of the opposing armies, resulting in the great battle of the 23rd, commenced on the heights around Buena Vista on the 22nd. On the afternoon of that day, the Mexican lines being sufficiently advanced, a shell thrown from a howitzer, by order of Santa Anna, was the signal for the attack. Immediately a heavy fire, in continued rolling volleys, was opened by the Mexican light troops under Ampudia, upon the American skirmishers on the opposite ridge of the mountain. The Americans replied with spirit, and the firing was kept up with much animation on both sides, but without any definite result, until darkness put an end to the combat, and both parties retired to await a renewal of the strife on a more extended scale on the following day.
On the morning of the 23rd the battle was renewed, and raged with the greatest fury throughout the day. The first movement of Santa Anna was to turn the left flank of the Americans. Four companies, under Maj. Gorman, were dispatched by Gen. Lane to intercept this movement. Soon after, three companies of the 2nd Illinois and three of Marshall's Kentucky regiment were sent to Gorman's assistance. While these troops were engaged with the enemy on the brow of the mountain, a large body of Mexicans, 6000 strong, advanced to the plain toward the position held by Gen. Lane. He immediately formed his little band, now reduced to 400 men, into line to receive the onset of this immense force. Hardly was the movement completed when the Mexicans opened a tremendous fire from their entire line, which was returned by the Americans with promptness and good effect. "Nothing," says an eyewitness, "could exceed the imposing and fearful appearance of the torrent of assailants which at this moment swept along toward the little band of Lane. The long line of infantry presented a continuous and unbroken sheet of fire. But their opponents, though few in number, were undismayed and defended their position with a gallantry worthy of the highest praise. Several times I observed the Mexican lines, galled by the American musketry and shattered by the fearful discharges from O'Brien's battery, break and fall back, but their successive formation beyond the ridge enabled them to force the men back to their position, and quickly replace those who were slain."
Thus commenced the battle on the plain of Buena Vista, on the morning of the 23rd, and continued to rage with unabated fury and varying success to the close of that memorable and eventful day. In proportion to the violence and impetuosity of the assaults of the Mexicans on the American lines, was the steady and unshaken firmness with which these assaults were received. If at any time a regiment, overcome by superior numbers, was compelled to give way, another quickly advanced to the rescue, drove back the enemy, and enabled it to regain its former position. In this way the Mexican general was kept at bay, his strength defied, his most skillful combinations and maneuvers baffled and defeated by his vigilant and active foe. Late in the afternoon, finding stratagem and force alike unavailing, the day drawing to a close and no chasm yet opened for his legions in the ranks of the enemy, Santa Anna determined, by assailing the weakest part of the American line with an overwhelming force, to make a last desperate effort to win the day. Collecting all his infantry, he ordered them to charge the Illinois and Kentucky regiments. These brave troops made a gallant resistance against the fearful odds opposed to them, but seeing their leaders fall, and overpowered by vastly superior numbers, they gave way and began to fall back. Gen. Lane at this critical moment hastened forward with his brigade and opened a destructive fire upon the Mexicans, checked their advance, and enabled the retreating regiments to form and return to the contest. This was Santa Anna's last struggle on that hotly contested and bloody field. Night spread her mantle over the scene of conflict. The weary Americans sank to repose on a gory bed, expecting a renewal of the strife on the following day. Morning came--but no enemy appeared. Silently during the night Santa Anna with his shattered legions had retired, leaving the victorious Americans masters of the field.
Gen. Lane, having been transferred in the summer of 1847 to the line of Gen. Scott's operations, reached Vera Cruz in the early part of September. On the 20th of that month he set out towards the City of Mexico, with a force of about 2500 men, consisting of one regiment of Indiana and one of Ohio volunteers, two battalions of recruits, five small companies of volunteer horse and two pieces of artillery. This force was subsequently augmented at Jalapa by a junction with Maj. [Folliot Thornton] Lally's column of 1000 men and at Perote its strength was further increased by a company of mounted riflemen and two of volunteer infantry, besides two pieces of artillery. Several small guerrilla parties appeared at different times on the route and attacked the advance and rear guards, but were quickly repulsed, and the column continued its advance unmolested along the great road leading through the Puebla to the city of Mexico.
At this time Col. Childs of the regular army, with a garrison of five hundred effective troops, and one thousand eight hundred invalids, was besieged in Puebla by a large force of Mexicans commanded by Santa Anna in person. This general, notwithstanding his many defeats, with a spirit unbroken by misfortune, and an energy that deserves our highest admiration, however much we may reprobate the cause in which he was engaged, had collected the remnant of his beaten army, determined, if possible, to wrest Puebla from the grasp of the American general, Scott, and thus cut off his communications with the seacoast. The gallant Childs well understood that the maintenance of his post was of the utmost importance to the success of the campaign. Every officer and soldier under his command seemed also to comprehend the immensity of the stake; and both officers and soldiers exhibited the loftiest heroism, and the most unyielding fortitude, in meeting the dangers and enduring the fatigues and privations of a protracted siege. Aware that a strong column, under Gen. Lane, was marching from Vera Cruz to their relief, the great object to be gained by the garrison was time. Santa Anna, also aware of Gen. Lane’s approach, redoubled his exertions to carry the place by storm, superintending the operations of the troops in person, directing the guns to such parts of the defenses as appeared most vulnerable, and watching with intense anxiety the effect of every shot. Convinced at length by the obstinate resistance of the besieged, and the lessening distance between him and his advancing and dreaded foe, that he must abandon his position and encounter the “Marion of the war” in an open field, he silently and cautiously withdrew, and with the main body of his troops moved in the direction of Huamantla, intending, when Gen. Lane had passed that point, to make an attack upon his rear, while another strong force should assail him at the same time from the direction of Puebla. Gen. Lane, being informed of Santa Anna’s movements, at once penetrated his designs. With the promptness of decision displayed in all his military operations, he divided his force, leaving the Ohio volunteers and a battalion of recruits, with two field guns, to guard the wagon trains. With the remainder of his column he marched, by a route diverging from the main road, directly towards Huamantla.
On the morning of the 9th of October the people of Huamantla were startled and dismayed to behold the formidable and glittering array spread out over the neighboring hills. White flags were immediately hung out in token of submission, and the place seemed to have surrendered without a blow from its panic-stricken inhabitants. But suddenly the advanced guard, under Capt. Walker, having entered the town, was assailed on every side by volleys of musketry. He immediately ordered a charge upon a body of 500 lancers, stationed with two pieces of artillery in the plaza. A furious and deadly combat ensued. Gen. Lane, advancing at the head of his column, encountered the heavy reinforcement ordered up by Santa Anna, who had now arrived with his whole force. Soon the roar of battle resounded through every street, and street and plaza were reddened with blood and covered with heaps of the slain. The Mexicans, for a short time, combated their assailants with the energy and fury of despair. But the steady and well-directed valor of the soldiers of the “republic of the north” bore down all opposition. The Mexican ranks were broken and thrown into disorder; the order to retreat was given, and the American flag waved in triumph over the treacherous city of Huamantla.
This was the last field on which Santa Anna appeared in arms against the United States. This remarkable man, universally acknowledged to be an able and active, was never a successful commander. Whether this want of success is to be ascribed to the superior generalship of the leaders, and prowess of the troops opposed to him, or to his own instability of purpose in the very crisis of battle, when vigor and decision are most required, we will not stop to inquire. Having, during the progress of the war, collected several large armies, and led them to defeat, he had determined with that which remained to him to make a last effort to retrieve his fortunes, and Huamantla was chosen as the Waterloo where his waning star should shine out in cloudless effulgence, or sink to rise no more. If he did not encounter a Wellington on that field, he encountered one who, with Wellington’s courage, united many of the higher qualities of a military commander. Perhaps he relied upon Gen. Lane’s want of experience, but the courage and conduct of the latter at Buena Vista should have admonished him of the hopelessness of a contest in an open and equal field with such an officer, at the head of troops comparatively fresh, in high spirits, with full confidence in the skill and courage of their leader, and burning to rival the heroic deeds of their countrymen at Chapultepec and Cerro Gordo. Although Santa Anna from this time withdrew from an active participation in the contest between the belligerent nations, the bloody drama in which he had played so conspicuous a part was not yet closed. Much remained to be done to complete the conquest so auspiciously begun on the banks of the Rio Grande, and prosecuted with such vigor by Scott in the valley of Mexico. Many bloody fields were yet to be won; many desperate bands of guerrillas yet to be defeated and dispersed to render the subjugation of the country complete.
Defeated at Huamantla, the remnant of the Mexican force fell back on Atlixco, where, on the 18th of October, a large body, with munitions and supplies, and two pieces of artillery, were collected, under the orders of Gen. Rea. General Lane, hearing of the concentration of the enemy’s troops at that point, hastened with the small force at his disposal to attack them. After a long and fatiguing march on a hot and sultry day, he encountered the enemy strongly posted on a hillside, within 1½ miles from Atlixco. The Mexicans made a show of desperate resistance, but being vigorously assaulted by the cavalry, closely followed by the entire column, they gave way and fled in confusion towards the town. It was not until after nightfall that the whole command of Gen. Lane reached Atlixco, having marched ten Spanish leagues since eleven o’clock in the forenoon. Disposing his troops in such manner as to command the approaches by the main roads, he opened a vigorous cannonade from a height which commanded the town. The guerrillas, however, had fled, and the authorities having soon after surrendered the place into his hands, his wearied troops entered the town and sought the repose they so much needed.
It is impossible, within the limited space allotted to this sketch, to present a detailed account of all Gen. Lane’s military operations at this period. In authentic histories of the war and official documents filed in the archives of government, the reader will find the record of his achievements--his long and toilsome marches by night and by day over a wild and rugged country, full of narrow defiles and dangerous passes; his frequent surprises of the enemy; his sudden incursions far away into remote valley and plain; his fierce combats and glorious victories. At Tlaxcala, Matamoros, Galaxa, Tulaucingo, Zacualtipan, as at Huamantla and Atlixco, Mexican valor yielded to the force of his impetuous and well-directed assaults. On every field the ranks of the enemy went down before the thundering charge of his cavalry, the fierce onset of his resistless infantry. The fame of his achievements soon spread through Mexico, and the terror with which the enemy was inspired by his death-dealing blows and almost ubiquitous presence was equaled only by the unbounded confidence and enthusiasm infused into his followers by his gallant bearing, and the prestige of a name ever relied on by them as the sure guarantee of victory. For one quality as much as any other, perhaps more than even his dauntless courage, Gen. Lane was distinguished throughout the war--humanity to the vanquished. His bright fame was unsullied, his escutcheon untarnished by a single act of wanton outrage or cruelty during the whole time he bore a commission in the American army. When the fight was over, and the victory won, the field of carnage where a short time before foeman had met foeman in deadly conflict, presented the spectacle of stern and swarthy warriors, imbued with the humane spirit of their leader, bending over the heaps of the dying and the dead, selecting now a friend, and now a foe, from whom the vital spark had not yet fled, staunching his wounds, and if the sufferer had not yet passed beyond the power of human aid to save, restoring him by their kind ministrations to life and health, family, home and friends. An officer thus distinguished for courage and humanity; unyielding fortitude under the severest privations; an originality and promptness in the formation of his plans, surpassed only by the boldness and rapidity of their execution; a celerity of movement which annihilated time and distance; with a power of endurance that defied hunger and thirst, heat and cold--such an officer, never for a moment relaxing his exertions, and daily adding some new name to the list of his conquests, could not fail to attract the attention and excite the admiration of the army, and win the approbation and applause of his countrymen in all parts of the United States. There was a tinge of romance in his exploits, which possessed an irresistible attraction, and captivated the imagination of all classes of admirers. But imagination has had little to do with the final judgment which his countrymen have pronounced upon his conduct. The parallel placed at the time between his deeds and character, and those of an illustrious hero of the Revolution, suggested to his countrymen a suitable way of testifying their appreciation of his services and admiration of his character; and they have, with a unanimity which shows that the parallel is not altogether imaginary, bestowed upon him a title, prouder than any ever conferred by a patent of nobility from prince or potentate--the title of “The Marion of the Mexican War.”
On the 10th of March, 1848, the treaty of peace between the United States and Mexico was ratified by the Senate. General Lane remained some months in Mexico after peace was concluded, directing the movements, and superintending the embarkation of troops returning home.
Returning to the United States in July, a few days after he reached home, he was appointed by President Polk Governor of the Territory of Oregon. This appointment, entirely unsolicited, Gen. Lane, against the wishes of many of his friends, concluded to accept; and, having made the necessary preparations, started across the plains in September, with an escort of twenty men. After a journey across the plains and mountains, full of peril and hardship, he arrived in Oregon in March, 1849, and immediately organized the territorial government.
Of the ability with which he performed the duties of Governor, no better testimony could be given than is furnished by the fact that, when superseded by Gov. Gaines on the accession of Gen. Taylor to the Presidency, he was elected by the people of Oregon delegate in Congress, a position in which he has remained to the present time.
The military career of Gen. Lane did not close with the termination of hostilities between the United States and Mexico. In Oregon he was destined to add other laurels to those already won. The Indians of that territory gave the whites much trouble, destroying lives and property, and thereby greatly impeding the progress, and retarding the settlement of the country. In 1853 occurred a formidable outbreak on Rogue River in the southern part of Oregon. Gen. Lane immediately collected a force, composed of settlers, miners, and a few officers and soldiers of the regular army, attacked the Indians near Table Rock, and after a desperate conflict in which he was severely wounded, drove them from their position. Following up this success with great vigor, he administered such chastisement that they soon gave up the contest, and were glad to accede to any terms of peace.
An extended biography of Gen. Lane, if ever written, will present many interesting incidents in his career, necessarily excluded from this brief sketch. But enough is here narrated to serve the purpose with which we set out, which was to present him as an exemplification of the simplicity and vigor of our democratic institutions.
To Oregon we extend our congratulations that she has in the national councils a guardian of her interests so watchful and faithful and true to [this] high and honorable trust. We congratulate her that though so remote, there are many ties that bind her to the rest of the Republic, not the least of which is the pure character and well-earned fame of her honored delegate.
H. H. Bancroft Esqr.
My Dear Sir
Enclosed you will find some notes, written by myself. You can rely upon their accuracy. They are not as full as they might be, but as far as they go they are true. I hate writing; my fingers cramp, and I have not been able to get anyone to write for me. My boy, L. F., is all the time busy in court. I will, however, try to write some further notes and send in manuscript.
Kind regards to Mrs. Bancroft and yourself. No one that has heretofore written of the subject seems to know how my brigade managed to get to Scott's line.
You will recollect that in my note of the last trouble that we had with the Rogue River Indians, the war of 1853, I said that I had neither time nor inclination then to go back and give a history of the trouble we had with these Indians in 1850. The facts are as follows.
In the spring of 1850 some miners, who had been to the gold fields in California, and after many months of hard work had concluded to return to their families in Oregon; they had had good success and each one of them had quite a considerable amount of dust with them; all went well with them until they reached Rogue River. Night set in about the time they reached Rock Point, where they camped for the night, and though they were acquainted with the very treacherous and thievish habits of the Indians, failed to keep out as sharp a watch as they ought to. The consequence was that the Indians made a sudden attack, drove the party who seized their arms and run to the brush where they would have some show of defending themselves. The Indians wanted the plunder more than they did the lives of the party, so they rushed into the camp, gathered up the plunder including the sacks containing the gold dust of the whole party, except one man. He had his sack tied around him and brought it safe to his home in the Willamette Valley. The Indians left the camp as suddenly as they had made the attack, but took with them everything that was valuable. Well, very soon after the party reached their homes they called to see me, made known the facts and requested that I would take such steps as I thought best to recover their lost treasure; at the time it was impossible for me to leave my office, but told them that as soon as I could I would go and see the Indians and try and recover the gold. In the month of June I made up a party of some twelve or fifteen white men and as many Klickitat Indians under their great chief Quatley who had all his life been the enemy of the Rogue River Indians. I told him that my object was to invite the chiefs and their warriors to a talk for the purpose of making a treaty and in the meantime to get them to give up the gold dust taken from the miners above mentioned. Well, said he, you will have to be very cautious, for the Rogue River Indians are very bad and would take advantage of our small party if they could.
Our party were well mounted and took along several pack animals loaded with supplies and some cheap presents for the Indians. We got along slowly but did not stop to hunt for fresh meat till we arrived at Grave Creek; there we took a day to hunt and make meat for the balance of the trip. Quatley and some 8 or ten of his Indians, myself and some of my party set out early in the morning. I had the good fortune to kill two very fine deer within a mile of our camp; and soon brought them in and had them cut up and placed on a scaffold over a brisk fire for the purpose of drying or, as hunters say, making jerked venison. In the course of the day the hunters come in bringing some thirty deer and some elk meat and one or two bears; by the evening of the next day we had the meat all jerked and sacked, ready to go the next morning, and in a few days reached a point on Rogue River near the Indian villages. I got to see their head chief, told him that I wished to have a talk with him and his subordinate chiefs and make a treaty of peace, so that we could be friends and not enemies as heretofore. The next day he told me that in two days he would come and bring all his people that all could see and hear all that was said and all that should be agreed upon. But I made him understand that his warriors must not bring their arms, that I come to talk and make peace with them, not to fight. On the morning of the day appointed they began to come in; they had the river to cross, but they had canoes. We were on the south bank, having crossed the river some fifteen miles below, and the Indians crossed from the bank opposite to the place agreed upon to hold the treaty. Some seventy-five or a hundred of them, with the two principal chiefs, had arrived and were told to be seated and listen to the talk I was about to have with their chiefs. They accordingly sat down in a half circle; the other half was occupied by our own people. The two chiefs were standing near me. Just then a party of about seventy-five warriors come marching down on our side of the river all armed with bows and arrows except some twenty, who carried guns in their hands. I spoke to Quatley to come with two or three of his men inside the ring and stand near the great chief, known as Captain Jo or Chief Jo, and by that name was known in peace and war and in council and in signing treaties. Old Chief Jo figured largely for three years after the incidents of this memorable day. Well, as the party of treacherous scoundrels came up they were ordered to lay down their arms and be seated. I took a good look at the newcomers and then looked quick at Quatley; he caught my eye and motioned his head. I saw that he understood me, and then I gave a look at my men, saw that they were all right and commenced my talk and had every sentence interpreted, took care to travel all over the ground, told them of all the outrages perpetrated on our people, that they must give up all property stolen, since the laws of the U.S. had been extended over the Territory, and especially the sacks of gold taken from the party of miners only six weeks ago, that then we would protect them in all their rights, as long as they would keep good faith, that our people must pass and repass through their country in peace and safety. All this was made known to the chiefs and warriors. Then Jo spoke slowly and in a loud voice, stepped forward a step or two, and so did Quatley. The other chief, since known as Chief Sam, had taken a seat among his people. Jo did not talk long, and just as he concluded his wawa ["talk"], as quick as thought the whole of his party sprang to their feet [and] gave a keen yell. Jo made a quick jump towards his people, but Quatley caught him; his men laid hold also, but every Indian that had arms had them at aim in an instant. I called to Quatley to hold the chief and to our men not to fire till ordered, and with six-shooter in hand I sprung into their line, knocked up their guns and ordered them to be seated. They hesitated. One fellow was still at aim when I struck down his gun and ordered him to sit down. They saw their great chief was a prisoner and that Quatley held a big knife at his throat, and Jo ordered his warriors to quick lay down their arms. They did so promptly, but after a very short consultation they raised to their feet. Jo told them to go and come back in a good humor in two days. They moved off and left their great chief a prisoner in our hands, and we took good care to secure him so that he could not get away.
We treated our prisoner with much kindness, and I had a full and free talk with him in regard to the welfare of himself and his people; made him understand that outrages upon our people would lead to a war that would leave him no country, no warriors, and that the only hope for him was to agree with us upon a treaty of peace that would secure to our people the right to pass to and from unmolested, and the right to mine and settle in the Rogue River Valley. That their rights should be secured to him and an Agent would be located among them, and annually they should receive presents to the amount agreed upon. By the time the tribe again assembled, Chief Jo was prepared to advise his people to listen to the terms offered and to accept them and live in peace.
I should have mentioned before this of a striking evidence of conjugal affection manifested the morning after Jo had been made a prisoner; his old squaw, his first wife (he had several others, but as he said only loved his first wife), come very cautiously to the bank on the opposite side of the river, and asked if she might come over and stay with the chief; that she did not want to be free while he was a prisoner. She was told to come and stay, that she would be well and kindly treated. She come and remained till a peace was concluded and was well rewarded in the way of presents and kind treatment. She was a squaw of more than ordinary intelligence and exercised considerable influence among her people. A little more than one year after this time she and 36 other women and children fell into our hands as prisoners at an attack made upon their camp by Maj. Kearny of the U.S. army and myself with a few volunteers soon after Lt. Stuart had been killed. That was in the summer of 1851. But her old husband Chief [Jo] did not come to stay with her, and Maj. Kearny concluded to take them to California but did not, an account of which you will find in printed notes now in your possession.
The following is the history of the names given to the old chief and others of his tribe. Soon after the wife of the old chief had voluntarily joined him in captivity, he asked our interpreter the name of the white chief and requested me to come to him. He wanted to talk. As I walked up to him, he said in Chinook, which I understood, "Mika name Jo Lane." I told him "Now witka," meaning "yes," and he said, "I want you to give me your name for," said he, "I have seen no man like you." The interpreter made known this request. I told him to say to the chief that I would give him half my name but not all, that he should be named Jo. He was much pleased, and from that day till the day of his death he was known by that name. At his request I named his wife, gave her the name of Sally. She was naturally a good Indian and did all she could to prevent war. It was her that at the battle of August '53 and after I had received a very severe wound and at the request of the Indians had gone alone among them to hold a talk, said to me in their tongue, "You are badly hurt. You want water?" And with a small kettle in her hand ran to the spring and brought it full of cold water, for which I felt very thankful, for never before had I felt so thirsty, and I was very much benefited by it. They had a son and daughter, a lad of 14 and girl of about sixteen. She was quite a young queen in her manner and bearing, and for an Indian very pretty. The boy was by me at the chief's request named Ben, and [the] girl was named Mary. I shall have hereafter occasion to speak of Mary in connection with the war and treaty of 1853 not given in the notes forwarded to me some time ago.
The Indians under the head of Chief Sam come in as directed by Jo when they left two days ago, and a treaty [of] peace and good will was entered into and some property of little value stolen by them from our people was given up. But of the gold dust none was returned, nor could we learn from [them] anything certain. They, however, said that they did not know that the dust was of any value, that they had emptied the sacks on a point of rocks that lay at the opposite bank of the river, out of water only at low water mark. Our failure to recover the gold was a great disappointment to the parties concerned and worried me. But we did all we could and failed. This treaty was observed for nearly one year. When the war broke out by outrages upon our people perpetrated by Jo's tribe, in which was Major Kearny figured.
Here ended my official services as governor and ex-officio superintendent of Indian affairs. I had been removed by the President to make room for Major Gaines of Ky., who was now expected soon to arrive and enter upon the duties of the office. Before leaving Oregon City, then the seat of the territorial government, I had arranged my office, books, papers and everything in proper order and directed the Secretary of the Territory upon the arrival of Gov. Gaines to turn them over and take a receipt for them.
The treaty the best we [could?] get having been completed and having no further use for Quatley and his small band of Klickitats, they were directed to return to their home. I took leave of them, and they set out on their return, and I made preparations to go to California and try my fortune in the gold mines. Before leaving the Rogue River Indians Chief Jo said that he wanted to give to me a small boy, a captive taken in war with the Modoc Indians, that the boy was a Modoc and could take care of camp and drive up my horses when required. [The boy's story is retold in an account at the bottom of this page.] I told him that I had no horse for him to ride. "Well," said he, "I will give the boy a horse to ride if you will take him." Well, I told him to bring up the boy and horse. The boy was brought. I judged him to be about eleven or twelve years old and was the most pitiable object that I ever saw. He was as naked as he was at his birth and had been beaten and nearly starved to death. I at once said that I would take and clothe and feed him and save him from torture that was worse than death. I had him go to the river and take a bath. He could swim like a duck. He washed himself thoroughly, but I had no clothes to fit him but had plenty of woolen shirts, and the weather was quite warm. I put a new clean shirt on him and a handkerchief to tie on his head and then gave him something to eat; bread, meat and coffee. I noticed that he was very much pleased and proud of his shirt and handkerchief and noticed that he could hear well and quick and understood by signs and was very ready to go or come as one would indicate by signs or motions but I had not the slightest idea that he could not, nor never had talked or said a word, but such proved to be the fact. I had an Indian boy with me as cook and waiter; he could speak English in a few weeks. He found out that my pet boy could not speak or talk or would not. I had named my pet boy John. The first night out from our way to California after supper, and I took good care to see that John had a good supper, I gave to him two blankets, and when I lay down he placed his blankets at my feet and slept soundly, and from that day forward he kept always near me and every night slept at my feet, and after he got flesh on him he become strong and was very active and could run like a streak, fleeter than any boy I ever saw and was as faithful a servant as ever any man had, or saw. In my next notes I will tell you how this dumb boy saved the life of a Mr. Driscoll and how he without any kind of question saved the life of your friend,
To H. H. Bancroft, Esqr.
In two days after we left our Rogue River encampment we reached Shasta River, and on a rocky bar on the south bank not far from the spot where the town of Yreka now stands we found gold in paying quantity, and I believe that we were the first discoverers of gold in that region of country, but the Indians were numerous and warlike. [James A. Cardwell's party rediscovered the Yreka diggings on March 12, 1851.] Our party was small, and we were in constant danger of losing our stock. It was now in July 1850, so we concluded to go on to Redding's diggings at and near where the town of Shasta now stands. John Kelley, now Collector of Customs at Portland, and Thomas Brown, now a good farmer of this Douglas County, and Martin Angel, [later] killed by Indians, who owned between them a band of cattle that they were driving to the mines in that locality, were with us and had been from the Willamette Valley. In some ten days or two weeks we arrived at the diggings, and I with a party of three white men and my Indian boy John, including Sam. Simondson, son of Genl. Simondson, U.S. Army, a very good young man, brave as anyone, commenced our mining operations and while working at the mouth of Clear Creek and near the Sacramento River and not finding gold as fast as we desired and though we had found that the Pit River Indians were great thieves and murderers. There were several other parties at work near us, all together fifteen or twenty men, quite enough with proper organization to have made the camp quite secure, yet these sly, thieving Indians crawled into camp one night and actually stole the blankets off some of the miners and though I kept a guard of one man on duty all the time, regularly relieved so as to give all a fair share of duty, stole our best horse tied at the head of my bed made on the ground, by spreading down a blanket or two and placing my saddle at the head for a pillow, and not fifty yards from us an Indian sent an arrow into a miner because he happened to be rolled in his blanket so that he could not pull it from him. The miner received a very bad and dangerous wound, but got over it after long suffering. The party had a good canoe that was kept fastened to the bank. I had several times crossed to the east bank to prospect for gold. I always went well armed and took my pet John with me at all times wherever I went. He was now well clothed, and I found him very smart, quick to hear, and would see anything that moved or leaf that stirred, or would even where the ground was covered with leaves detect the track of an Indian or any other animal that had disturbed a leaf on the ground and motion to me until he would follow the trail, directly he would motion to come. He had found the print of the foot on the ground where leaves ceased to cover it, a moccasin track, a bear, or deer as the case might be. This day we found a rich gulch about three hundred yards from the river. The day following I crossed and took with Mr. Driscoll and John, and some sacks to pack our rich dirt to the river, where we would wash it in a rocker, then the common mode of washing gold. We commenced in the gulch with our picks, and after filling about as much dirt in each sack as a man could pack, while digging we found many pieces of gold from fifty cents up to two- or three-dollar lumps. Driscoll was delighted, and with his pick and tin cup in which he had put all that he had picked, said he would [go] further up the gulch if I would let John go with him and prospect. "Well," I said, "go, but not too far, nor stay long." The brush was very thick, and they were soon out of sight. I was tired and I took up my six-shooter and hunting knife and belted them round me, took my rifle in hand and set down on the bank of the gulch to wait their return. I had set perhaps a half hour when John come running like lightning, motioning me to go, go, quick. Indians had Driscoll, and by me he went like a streak. I took up the gulch as fast as I could run, and then I was strong and active and I thought equal to ever so many Indians. About two hundred yards up the gulch I found Driscoll in the hands of a dozen of the Pit River Indians, and they were as bad-looking [a] set of savage cutthroats as I had met anywhere. They had sprung upon Driscoll before he knew of their presence, had tied his hands hard behind him and were trying to drag him through the thick brush, but the poor fellow was so frightened he couldn't go or step or move. Never before or since have I seen anyone so sadly frightened. He was scared so that he could not speak or move. The moment that I saw them I called out to them in Chinook to clatawa (to go), and before they recovered from their surprise at my coming I had jerked out my big knife and cut the cord that bound Driscoll and told him to take my knife and fight for life, but he could not move but fell down in a swoon. Then I dropped my rifle to my shoulder ready to fire and held my six-shooter in my hand, rifle resting on it and in a loud voice ordered them to leave. They moved back and commenced a flank movement intending to get in my rear. They had bows and arrows, and intended to shoot me in the back. Then I was determined to commence the battle. With my gun to my face I again in a strong voice ordered them as the last warning to leave, then I intend to drop one of them and with my six-shooter fight my way out, but thanks to my boy John he had jumped into the canoe, crossed the narrow stream and was near me as I ordered them off for the last time, and the whole party yelled out "Help at hand!" and in one minute the Indians were gone. I think I could have shot one as they darted into the thick brush but did not, and I have been sorry for it ever since, but it was all as quick as thought. John had run on at full speed after motioning me on to Driscoll and no doubt the little party were crossing the river to my support by the time I had reached Driscoll. Well, we took to the river and to camp before I could realize that he was safe. John's quick and prompt action had brought help just in time to save Driscoll. I think that I could have fought my way out, but would have been compelled to [abandon] poor Driscoll, and these Indians were barbarous and generally burned their prisoners. Driscoll never crossed the river to mine after that day.
Not long after this, in company with Martin Angel and some others, we encamped in the Sacramento Valley some four miles from our mining camp. The grass was two or three feet high. We staked our horses, spread down our blankets, posted out a trusty sentinel and lay down to sleep. In two hours, Angel was to be waked up and go on duty. By that time the moon had got up, an hour high. I got up to look and listen. I saw Angel go towards the river and sit down in the grass, and noticed that he was completely hid by the grass. I lay down; all was quiet and I had dropped into a nice sleep. When the crack of Angel's rifle woke all [of] the party and every man had his rifle in his hand in an instant when Angel called out, "I have got him," and sure enough he had. He saw 3 of them rise up out of the grass and then drop down. He had his gun ready at cock. The next time they raised up [with]in twenty yards of him and he fired, and down come the Indian. He gave him a dead center shot. He was as dead as a hammer when we got to him. At the crack of the rifle the other two took to the river and were on the other bank in very short time. Angel was lucky in killing Indians. In our wars with the Rogue River Indians he killed several of them, but in the war of 1855-6 he was killed by them near Jacksonville. He was leading a party to where the Indians were supposed to be. They knew him and were determined to kill him; consequently had placed themselves on each side of the trail, and as was Angel's custom he was well in front. From both sides of the road they fired. As he fell from his horse, they caught and scalped him before the party got to where he fell. Thus fell one of Oregon's early and useful citizens. Republics are not always ungrateful. Angel left a widow and a son, then quite young. He is now an educated, clever young gentleman, resides at Albany, and this year ('78) was elected by the state's Senate Assistant Sgt. at Arms of that very respectable body.
In September of this year, 1850, I concluded to take a trip up the Sacramento and prospect for gold with my little party; set out. On the way and not far above the mouth of the Pit River fell in with or rather came across a marauding party of Indians, had a skirmish, killed one of the Pit River scoundrels dead on the spot and had one man wounded, but not dangerously. This was the last trouble we had with these bad Indians.
Finding no gold in paying quantity, we returned to the Redding diggings where we mined on Olney and Tadpole and Spring creeks with varied success until February 1851.
I will here give an incident indicative of Indian character that occurred while I was mining in the Redding diggings. I had come in from work to our dinner and found an Indian known as Umpqua Jim. Some one of the traders located there had let him have a chunk bottle full of whiskey--he was naturally a vicious bad Indian, and he come to my camp and set down. His bottle was then about half full and he was half drunk and was threatening to kill anyone that disturbed him. He could speak some English and was very abusive. I noticed his bottle sitting at the corner of the tent. I picked it up and held it by the neck, bottom up, and let the whiskey run out. Jim noticed it and jerked from the scabbard his long butcher knife and dashed at me. There was no chance of escape. I changed the bottle in my hand and held it firmly by the neck and as he made a lunge that would have driven through anyone, I stepped aside and with my whole strength struck him on the head. He threw up his left hand on his head to catch the blow. The stroke mashed the ends of his middle fingers and knock[ed] him apparently as dead as a hammer. I looked at him. He appeared to be dead. We eat our dinner and I said we will bury Jim and go to work. John come in and motioned that Jim was breathing and he was. The next day I saw him and told him to leave, or I would shoot him, and he did. I met him five years after, but he was shy to talk.
Then we set out for Scott River, where as report had it, gold was being found in fabulous quantity and in fact the Scott River diggings had been and were then very rich. As soon as we arrived we located claims and commenced work. Before we left Redding's diggins I had met with a couple of old Indians, an old man and his squaw, who lived at Oregon City and with whom I was acquainted. They were very inoffensive and had been taken to these mines by Mr. Ingle of Oregon City, a very energetic miner and good man, long since dead. The old couple had got tired of the mines and come to me to see if I would take them back with me when I returned. The old squaw was a neat and good cook and good laundress, and I agreed to take them and pay them sixty dollars a month, the squaw to cook and wash, the man to take care of our horses and get wood and assist about camp. Not many days after we had pitched our tents and got fairly to work, and by this time my boy John had become a very successful miner. His eyes were very sharp; he was able to pick up at least half the gold that was in the dirt that he picked up. When I worked he worked constantly and hard, but at all times when I quit to go to attend to any business, I had John quit and go with me. Thus one day I said to the men who were tired and wanting dinner that I would go to camp, distant about four hundred yards, and see what it was that delayed dinner. The horn was blowed promptly every day at half past 12. When we arrived at the camp, we found that a party of fifteen Shasta Indians had taken possession of our tent, dinner and all, and had butchered a deer that they had killed nearby at the door of the tent and were trying to make old Emma bake more bread and cook the deer for them.
Well, you know that I was not in a good humor at the state of things as presented to my view. Without taking time to consider what was best to do, I walked into the tent and with rifle cocked I ordered them to leave. But they were inclined to stay, and I undertook to force them and with the rifle punched several of them as hard as I could drive the muzzle of the gun against them, holding my hand firmly on the hammer of the lock that the gun could not by the jar go off but ready to fire if forced to. The whole band sprung out and picked up their guns and surrounded the tent, three of them in front with guns at aim. I was at aim and determined to kill one at least. But the old squaw rushed among them and begged and kept up such pleading and catching their guns and crying that neither party could flee without hitting old Emma. John, on seeing the state of things, had slipped out at the back of the tent and at the speed of an antelope had reached the diggings and now come John and the men with six-shooters in hand and raised the yell. The Indians saw their hope of murder had gone by, and they walked off. They had three to our one; consequently, we let them go. This was the second time John brought help when I very much needed it. A few minutes later and the faithful old squaw would [have] witnessed a very unequal fight in which your humble servt. would perhaps come out second best. I still feel grateful to John and poor old Emma, both of them long since dead. Poor John, if I could have stayed with him and lived in the woods he perhaps would be living now. He was as faithful and devoted to me as ever was boy to man. He never talked, never spoke, but he learned to know every word I said and was always ready to obey my every command or wish.
In May 1851 I returned to Oregon City, my John and old Indians with me. In June I was elected to Congress. In July I left for the East via San Francisco, Panama, New Orleans and then by river steamer to my door on [the] bank of the beautiful Ohio River, where I joined my family after an absence of more than three years. Our good steamer stopped at Cuba, Havana to coal. It was on Saturday. On Sunday morning while we were still coaling Lopez was garroted; no other incident of interest on my home voyage, and that was a painful sight.
But to return to poor Indian boy John. I left him in the care of my son Nat H. Lane, who then had charge of the Island Mills, Oregon City (then we owned them). John was not willing to go with me by sea, could not persuade him, so I left him with Nat H., who took deep interest in him. He was dressed, lodged and boarded like the finest gentleman. But soon after I left he began to fail in health, and in a few months after took down sick. Doctors and kindness could not save him; poor boy lies buried near Oregon City.
I will here give you an account of his notion of truth and friendship as related to me by my son. John took a fancy to the head miller and felt strong friendship for him. This man was in the habit of spending one or two evenings a week in the city, would drink freely and gamble for liquor. The boy observed it, and every time the miller would go John would follow. There was a long bridge from the Island Mills to the main shore, and John it seems was afraid that when the man was drunk he might stagger and fall off into the river and be drowned. Well, the boy would follow and wait patiently until the miller would get through drinking and then keep close to him, till safe on the island, then John would go to his room and to his bed. One night the miller thought he would play a joke on John. He left the saloon apparently very drunk, staggered and nearly fell very often, and on the bridge it was all John could do to hold him from falling over and John thought into certain death, as it would have been had he fell over or off the bridge. John was delighted when he saw the miller safe over. The miller, however, was determined to have his joke on the poor boy, straightened himself up, walked straight off and turned to John, broke out in a big laugh and said, "What a fool you are to think me drunk."
From [no] time as my son told me to to the day of the boy's death would he go near that man, or in any way have anything to do with, or for him. The man often tried to hire him to forgive him, offered him presents, but the boy would turn from and would not look at him, nor did he ever notice him again. Poor boy, I thought very much of him, and was very sorry when I heard of his death.
The next notes will give an account of information given by the young squaw Mary and the good results of the information. Do you want such notes? If not, say so. I am very tired writing.
The notes furnished are poorly given, but true. To make good history will require much labor. Mrs. Victor will have a hard task if she writes [it] up.
Nov. 12 1878.
H. H. Bancroft Esqr.
Your note of the 4th inst. was received on Saturday the 9th. Today I mail to your address twelve pages giving a truthful account of our troubles with the Rogue River Indians in the year 1850, written by myself. The incidents are given in a clumsy and awkward way, without regard to correct spelling, grammar, punctuation or anything else but the facts of incidents as they occurred. It is impossible to obtain help; my son is very busy and besides takes, or rather feels, but very little interest in the matter, and my old crippled arm and lame fingers work slowly and with some pain. But now I have started at the work I intend to go ahead until I have finished up my mining tour and show how my dumb Indian boy saved the life of Driscoll and after how he saved the life of your humble srvt. and then I will complete the incidents of the treaty of 1853 and other incidents in which Mary disclosed important information which led to the punishment of a guilty party and the happy effect upon both whites and Indians, and my very hazardous action in the matter. You must let me know how much of these incidents you wish me to furnish, and whether you wish my kind of history of organizing the territorial govt., starting all the machinery in operation of the easy and quiet, but prompt, manner of doing and success in starting and carrying on &c.
Kind regards to your wife and to Mrs. Victor,
I have just recd. a note from Mrs. Victor and have answered and told her I was indebted to her for the enquiry I make of you in the latter part of this note as above. Now tell me, did I or not give the information in our reported talk in Portland? See if you have it not.
To H. H. Bancroft Esqr.
San Francisco California
The following notes relate to affairs that took place after our treaty with Rogue River Indians in the year 1853.
Partly on account of the severe wound received in battle and partly for the purpose of watching and taking care of the Indians to the end that no further new trouble should take place, I remained in camp on the bank of Rogue River some two or three weeks longer than otherwise I would have done. Old Jo had given up to my care his only son, "Ben," as a hostage for their good behavior. In order to be near his son, of whom he was very fond, the old chief obtained our permission to bring his family inside our lines, that he at times could see and talk to his boy. The sentinel at all times on duty was instructed to allow him or anyone of his family to come to my quarters, which were in a log cabin where Ben was kept and where he slept of nights. Myself and staff also had our beds [there]. I slept on some blankets spread on the ground, there being no floor in the cabin. About the middle of one night, and while lying awake, suffering with my wounded shoulder, I felt something touch my feet and directly I felt again the touch and raised myself to a sitting position and saw in the dark an object drawn down in a kneeling position, and asked who was there. I found it was Mary. She spoke low and told me that she had come to talk to me and did not want to be heard by anyone but myself. She spoke in Chinook and I understood it quite well. She wanted to tell me, she said, how the late bloody war broke out, and who it was that caused all the trouble, and who it was that commenced the massacre of families in the valley and how her people became involved in the war. "Well," I told her, "go on"; I would listen and try and remember all she would tell me. Then she inquired if I was acquainted with the great war chief Tipsy of the Shasta Indians. I told her yes; I had met him once and had had a friendly talk with him and his warriors. "Well," said she, "do you know Pe-ous-icut, one of his braves?" I said, "No," I did not know any Indian by that name. She replied quickly, "Miker tickie miker comtix Peousicut." That is, "I want you to know him," and went on to say that he is a very bad Indian and it was him and his chief that made all the late trouble. Peousicut commenced it and got his chief and people to join him.
Just at this point of her narrative one of the officers wakened and asked the time of night, and Mary, who was as timid as a fawn, slipped out and I saw no more of her till the next night, but I thought of what she had said and had the name Peousicut in my mind nearly all the time. But said not a word to anyone on that subject. Late in the night I again felt the touch upon my feet, raised up and there crouched down at my feet was Mary. She commenced her story where she had left off the night before and told me all about the beginning of the murders perpetrated on our people then living at and near where Jacksonville now stands. Indeed, Jacksonville was then a village of several families, and several families were then living in the valley and felt quite secure. Mary went on to tell me that this Peousicut had had a falling out with a Mexican, a gambler, then hanging about the camps of the miners in the day and dealing monte at night. Peousicut had sold a squaw to this worthless wretch and afterwards he refused to pay the price agreed upon, whereupon they come near having a row that would in all probability have ended in the death of the worthless Mexican, and but for the interference of some miners would so have ended. The Mexican put out and Peousicut was left unpaid. He regarded the Mexican as one of our people and was naturally [a] very bad Indian. Consequently [he] hurried off to his band, then camped nearby, where they had come, as Mary said, to trade with her people for deer skins and furs and ponies, and told his chief Tipsy that he had been badly treated by one of the Boston people, as all Americans were then called by the Indians, and that he must have satisfaction, and succeeded in persuading the chief to lead his band against the scattered and defenseless families.
[Of] this, as Mary said, her chief and his people knew nothing. If Peousicut's chief had made the attack as advised by this bad Indian, the settlement would have been swept out of existence, but their treacherous plan was discovered before very many of our people had been murdered, but as soon as the outbreak had been discovered and the brave few who had their arms always ready joined to protect the families, Tipsy rushed with his band to Jo's camp and said the whites had commenced war and all of the Indians would be killed if they did not band together and fight for their lives and their homes. Old Jo could not understand this and said that he had done nothing to make the white people mad and could not see why he should fight and proposed to go to Jacksonville and have a talk with the whites, but his young men and old Tipsy opposed the proposition and in the meantime from his camp he could see mounted men scouring the valley below, so he concluded to take Tipsy's advice and fall back to their mountain fastnesses and wait and see how affairs would terminate and, said Mary, Tipsy and his band was with our people when the battle was fought where you got the wound that hurts you so much now and would have shot you when you come to us to hold a talk. But our chiefs would not let them and they slipped off in the brush, not one of them come out and surrendered themselves as prisoners, as did our people, and now, said she, they are somewhere in the Siskiyou Mountains safe from harm while our people have been prisoners and have agreed to give up our country that was dear to us and I tell you, we did not commence this war. Peousicut did it. Now can't you go and destroy Peousicut and all Tipsy's band? I told her that I was not in a very good condition to lead an expedition and besides that the most of my men had been mustered out of service and had gone to their homes. But I told her to consult with her father (the old chief) about sending out one of his trusty young men to find out where Tipsy and his band were encamped and what route I would have to go to find them. In the meantime I had a talk with one of our captains, told him I thought that there was a chance for him to strike a blow that would if successful result in much good. "Well," said he, "who shall I strike and what direction will I have to go?" I said perhaps Tipsy could be found. He discussed the chances and finally said, "Well, I would rather not undertake the job until you are able to lead, then with pleasure," said he, "I will go." The subject was then dropped, and I at once resolved on the course I would pursue. The second night after I had last had a talk with Mary, she again come to my quarters quietly as before and told me that the young brave [that chief Jo had sent] had come, had seen and talked with Tipsy and Peousicut, that they were then at a place designated by him, at the foot of a spur of the Siskiyou Mountains, some twenty-five miles from our camp.
Now I had with me a Mr. Robert B. Metcalfe, an intelligent young man, brave and truthful, who had for several years lived with a portion of Tipsy's tribe, was well acquainted with them and spoke their tongue or language as well as they did. I consulted him and proposed that we would go and find Tipsy and make a treaty with him, but did not say a word about Peousicut, and said, "Are you willing to go?" "Well," said he, "if you are willing for us two to go, I will go and risk it. But," said he, "it is indeed a risk. We can find them, but," said he, "to get away from them is in my mind a matter of doubt." "Well," said I, "get the man that takes care of our horses; we will take him along." I have forgotten his name. He was a brave. "Be ready and we will start early tomorrow morning." I was still suffering much from my wound and had to carry my arm in a sling. In the morning we mounted and set out to look for Tipsy and his band. Not a soul about camp knew anything of my purpose. We had to pass through Jacksonville, where we stopped, got our late breakfast. I had to ride slow. Every step the horse took jarred and hurt. I purchased some presents for Indians and again set out on our way. We failed to find Tipsy where we expected, and night come on us as we started up one prong of Applegate Creek, and about a half mile up it we found that we had to cross a very ugly branch, steep banks and very brushy on both sides. We made out to get across. It was as dark as night could well be, but we pressed ahead and directly we got out of the thick brush we found ourselves right in the Indian camp.
The Indians were completely taken by surprise, and so were we. They sprang to their feet, raised the war whoop and in an instant were ready to fire. Bob Metcalfe called out, "Don't fire, we are friends and come to talk and make peace," and give them money and other presents. We had hurried our horses forward and dismounted at one of their camp fires. I told them who I was and why I come, that I was tired of fighting and come to talk with them, to eat, sleep and smoke with them, that if I had wanted to fight I would have brought my men with me, but I did not want to fight, consequently, the three of us had come and no more. Now put down your guns and let us talk. They knew Bob and knew that he would not deceive them. Bob was busy talking and shaking hands, and after an hour or more got them quieted and they gave us something to eat and there we slept that night with them, and I needed it, for I was sore and tired, but my rest was suddenly disturbed. Late in the night all at once they broke into the most melancholy cry that I had ever heard. I asked Bob what that meant. "Well," said he, "I don't know, and I like it not." He had hired an Indian boy that knew him well to sleep near him and we were all near to each other and Bob asked the boy what was the matter. The boy jumped up, listened a little while and said to Bob that it was a young squaw crying about her brother, who had been killed in a battle with the whites on Battle Creek. "Well," said I, "Bob, I come near being killed there myself, and now send this boy to the squaw with one of these new blankets and a handkerchief and tell her to take them as presents, and stop crying," that I could not sleep while she was crying. After some parleying with the boy she took the blanket and kerchief and quieted down. I soon fell asleep, and the next time I wakened it was broad daylight and I was glad that I found my hair on all right. Now for breakfast and a talk. After a long talk Tipsy agreed to meet me at an old cabin in Applegate Valley and bring all his warriors and make a treaty. That I would bring a shirt, pantaloons, coat and shoes for him, and shirt and pantaloons for each one of his braves. In two days we would meet at the cabin. All this time I had not once spoken of Pe-ous-icut, neither to Bob or the Indians.
This agreement having been made, we took leave of Tipsy and his people and set out for Jacksonville, where we had a good rest and good fare and purchased the goods that I had agreed to give to the Indians, had them packed or baled and a peace stipulation drawn up and with the addition of two men to our party set out to meet Tipsy at the cabin as per agreement. We reached the cabin some time before the Indians, but after some little time we saw them coming. They moved in single file, Tipsy in front. I looked at them with care as they come up, and noticed that they all carried rifles at trail, and when they had got near me, I noticed one young buck take his gun, it was a Mississippi rifle, quick to his left hand and with his right hand bring back the hammer to a cock. I at once ordered them to halt and told Tipsy to direct that fellow to let down the hammer and then move forward and stack their arms in the cabin and we would talk about peace. They did so, and we agreed on terms of peace. All, everything, was explained to them by Metcalfe. They were satisfied and Tipsy signed the article. Then the goods were unpacked and the chief received his suit of clothes and seemed well pleased. Then I told Tipsy to tell his men to come up one at a time, give his name, that I wanted Bob to write in my book the name of each one of his people and that when the name was written each of them would receive his present. Accordingly they come and each one give his name and received his present. By and by the last one come and gave his name, then I turned quick to the chief and asked him, "Where is Peousicut?" He started very perceptibly at the name being mentioned, looked steadily at me, and asked if I knew Peousicut and why I asked for him. Well, I told him that I wanted to see him and give him the same kind of present that I had given to the others. Said he, "I will take them to him." That Peousicut and two others were hunting for meat for the women and children. "No," I told him that I would leave the presents at Jacksonville for him, that now they could all or any of them go to Jacksonville and that Peousicut could go and get the clothes that would be left for him. We parted with our new-made friends. We returned to Jacksonville and to camp not long after. Peousicut was arrested, tried for murder, found guilty and hung and not very long after that Tipsy and his band got into a war with the miners on Cottonwood and Tipsy and his entire band were killed, and then were quite out of the way of our people, and old Jo's entire tribe were placed on [a] reservation.
Most of the old Indians, those that figured in the wars above mentioned, are now dead. Mary, as I have been informed, become the mother of children by one of the distinguished gentlemen of our country. But of this I know nothing. I believe that I have heard that Mary is dead, but I am not certain about it. It is now twenty-three years since I saw her or any of her people. After the events above mentioned, the people of southern Oregon had peace and prosperity and did prosper as people seldom do in new countries, until 1855-6, when the great war chief John and his band of warriors commenced an indiscriminate war upon our people in nearly all of southern Oregon. It was fierce and bloody. But I was not at the time in the Territory, consequently, did not participate in the war, and cannot give a correct account of the origin or conduct of the war of 1855-6. I was in Washington on other duty. Some three years after I had the good fortune to procure the passage through Congress of an appropriation to pay the troops who fought the battles and all expenses incurred by the war.
The next notes will relate to the organization of the territorial government. Very brief. Then I have done.
Roseburg Nov 30 /78
Mrs. F. F. Victor
Your letter of the 18th inst. has just been recd. Yesterday I wrote to you and told you that I had enclosed to Mr. Bancroft eight pages of manuscript. In these notes you will find an account of my arrival in Oregon and [a] brief and correct account as far as it goes of the organizing of the territorial govt. and I think quite full enough. Soon after I was appointed governor, the President appointed three judges, all good lawyers, to wit, O. C . Pratt, now of San Francisco, Wm. Bryant and Olney. Both the latter-named gentlemen are dead. Pratt was much the ablest of the three judges, though they were all able men. These three judges constituted the supreme court of the Territory, with circuit duties. By them, until the legislature acted, the Territory was divided into judicial districts. Courts were held in each district as agreed by the judges, and an appeal from any one of the districts was taken to the supreme court, composed of the judges above named, and that court decided with the right of appeal to the Supreme Court of the U.S.
The judges arrived some months after I did, Bryant by Panama, Pratt overland and was first of the three to arrive. Our judicial system was good, good as ever had been established in any territory, prompt, able and efficient. During the time of my governorship I was ex-officio supt. of Indian affairs. The next Congress, however, established the office of Superintendent of Indian Affairs, so that the governor was relieved of that duty. One Dr. Dart was sent out as the first Superintendent of Indian Affairs. He was after money and on the side of the Indians generally. Next to him Joel Palmer was also on the Indian side of all questions or troubles. Their reports are not reliable, nor are the reports of such officials generally. Gov. I. I. Stevens of Washington Territory was an exception. His reports were truthful, strictly, so see his reports and letters of 1855-6-7; there you will find truthful, reliable and important information.
As I have in notes lately forwarded informed you, in the summer of 1850 I ceased to be Governor and went off mining.
In 1851 I was elected delegate to Congress, and was reelected in 1853, in 1855 and in 1857, and then elected to the U.S. Senate and as delegate and Senator. I did my duty. The very heavy expenses incurred in our many Indian wars made it necessary that I should obtain large appropriations. All this I did procure besides 160 acres land to each soldier, as well as in the Cayuse War, which occurred before I come, as also all wars that took place after. More money was appropriated during my ten years service in Congress for the use and benefit of Oregon than was before or since given to any other Territory or perhaps ever will be. I did my duty faithfully, honestly, conscientiously and intelligently. See Congressional Globe from 1851 to 1861, or if convenient have a talk with ex-Senator Gwin or Judge Pratt. Either of them can tell you more of myself than I can or am willing to do or say. Now remember that the notes forwarded yesterday was the 4th package for Mr. Bancroft within the last 3 or 4 weeks. I ask you to take them up as forwarded and carefully read them through. Please don't fail.
Now after carefully reading said notes and [if] Mr. Bancroft and yourself are not pleased with them and other notes forwarded before then, then and in that case you will say to Mr. Bancroft that he will very much oblige your humble servt. by packing them neatly and forwarding the last one of them to me at this place and at my expense.
Your Obt. Servt.
I shall write nothing more till then from you. Show this to Mr. Bancroft that he also may write to me. Prompt attention is requested.
At the close of the war with Mexico in the summer of 1848 I was directed by the general to remain in the city of Mexico with a portion of my brigade including the Texas Rangers commanded by the gallant Col. Jack Hays and Capt. Lewis' company of cavalry and see that the rear of the army in leaving the city and country should strictly observe treaty stipulations. General William O. Butler of Kentucky was then the commanding general, as brave a man and as thorough a gentleman as lives anywhere on God's footstool, and wished in abandoning the country to have the troops take good care to commit no wrong but to leave a favorable impression on the people of a conquered country. (General Scott had been ordered to Washington.)
Well, I performed the duty in bringing out the rear of the army with strict fidelity. The instructions accorded with my own judgment. I saw the last of the troop embarked and off from Vera Cruz for New Orleans. Then I stepped on board of an old Mississippi towboat with my staff and put out for New Orleans. Our boat had no sails and though we had to lose four hours in every 24 to clean out boilers, during which time we amused ourselves shooting sharks. Each day, as soon as the boat would heave to, these monsters would come round the boat, and many of them got their death by so doing. We reached New Orleans in good time, and in August '48 I landed at my home on the bank of the Ohio River, where in the arms of my beloved family I expected to spend the balance of my days. But it was not to be.
On the 27th of this month I received from the hand of messenger direct from Washington a very kind letter from President Polk and the commission of Governor of Oregon Territory. I was urged by Mr. Polk to accept and go without delay and if possible organize the territorial government within his administration, which would terminate on the 3rd of March 1849. Well, this letter took me [sic] and I set out at 2 o'clock on the morning of the 29th and on the 10th day of September left Fort Leavenworth overland and arrived at Oregon City on the 2nd day of March 1849 in the evening, where I was very kindly received. On this night I issued a very short proclamation, making known that by act of Congress the laws of the United States had been extended over the Territory (then embracing all of Washington Territory), that I had been appointed governor of the Territory and taken the oath of office and entered upon the discharge of the duties thereof. I was gratified that by much labor, trouble and privation I had succeeded in accomplishing the wishes of the President, who had during his administration taken a deep interest in Oregon affairs. I then consulted with some of the early settlers about taking the census of the Territory. Names of suitable and willing persons were obtained in different portions of the settlements, who were appointed deputy marshals, all of them good and prompt men. Marshal Meek at the head of this branch of the service did his duty and in a very short time we had returns from them giving the number of families and number of voters. An apportionment was soon made, Representative and Senate or council districts fixed and a proclamation issued appointing the day of election for the purpose of electing a delegate to Congress, and members of the Assembly. This done and I set out on a visit to different tribes of Indians with a view of placing relations with them on as good footing as possible. (Then I was ex-officio Superintendent of Indian Affairs.)
The election took place on the day appointed. Mr. Thurston, a man of good ability, was elected delegate to Congress--a proclamation fixing a day for the meeting of the Assembly and again I busied myself looking after Indian affairs. On the meeting of our first Territorial Legislature I submitted my first message and very soon thereafter visited some Indians living on the coast. Everything went on smoothly. The members of the Assembly acquitted themselves handsomely, enacted such laws as they deemed right and proper, and closed the session in good and kind feeling toward myself and themselves. I had now made the acquaintance of many or I may so most of [the] citizens of the Territory, had seen and talked with many of the Indians, and had over and over listened to the history given by various of our citizens of the massacre of Dr. Whitman by the Cayuse Indians and had determined that the guilty Indians should be punished. I consulted with Dr. McLoughlin and Bishop Blanchet, who were willing to assist in any way they could to induce the Cayuses to give up the murderers. They both had influence with the Indians and did render valuable assistance in prevailing upon the nation to give up the murderers. One or the other of these good old men would send a halfbreed or faithful Indian with my letter to be read by someone that could read and interpreted to the chiefs urging as the only means of preventing war was to give up one of their chiefs, Tilokite [Tiloukaikt] and the four warriors that assisted him in the murder for trial and punishment if found guilty, and I with the above-named assistance kept up this kind of demand upon them, and in the meantime the Rifle Regiment arrived at Oregon City. Then I made my last demand upon the chiefs and gave them the final alternative, give up Tilokite and the four, or war, as they please. Well, in the spring of 1850 they agreed to meet me at The Dalles. At Fort Vancouver of the Hudson Bay Company I procured a boat and crew to take me and my escort, Lt. Adison and a few men, up the Columbia River to The Dalles, where we met all the chiefs and many of the braves of the Cayuse nation, had a long talk, camped two nights, made them understand that Tilokite and the four other Indians equally guilty must be given up to me, as prisoners to be taken to Oregon City and tried before our court for murder, that they should have a fair trial and have a good lawyer to defend them and be treated exactly as white men charged with like offense and further I told them if found guilty they would be hung, and further I invited the chiefs and leading men of the tribe to attend the trial and they would see that the prisoners would have a fair and just trial according to the laws of our country. Finally, they give up the five as prisoners. Then I told the interpreter to tell their friends to come and bid them goodbye, that I did not think that they would ever see them again. Then I again asked the chiefs to come and witness the trial, that they might know how trials in our courts were conducted. Then I took leave of all the tribe and with our prisoners stepped into one boat and pulled down the Columbia River. The prisoners gave us no trouble. We made two camps on our return, and on the third day we arrived at Oregon City all safe and well.
At that time we owned the Island Mills. The island was reached by a long bridge from the upper end of the city to the mills. We had several small houses on the island. Across this bridge we took our prisoners and put them in one of the houses, and there they were kept and were as well fed and as kindly treated as ever were five prisoners of any color. They had the liberty of the island. It was utterly impossible to get off of it, only by the bridge, and there sentinels were posted and on duty all the time, and after a few days Lt. Lane of the Rifles, a very efficient and reliable young officer, with a sufficient number of men. At our request [he] was assigned to duty on the island where he had charge of the Indians during the balance of their lives. At that time there was not a jail in the Territory. Judge O. C. Pratt, then one of the justices of the supreme court for the Territory of Oregon, held an extra session of court for the trial of the prisoners. Grand and petit jurors were empaneled. The Indians were by the grand jury regularly indicted and in court pleaded not guilty and were defended by as able counsel as was then in the Territory. Good interpreters were by the court appointed and sworn to truly and faithfully interpret all and every word of the testimony to the Indians on trial that they and all the Indians in attendance (and there were many) might know not only what the evidence was, but also [that] those present might know the mode and manner of conducting trials in our courts. Judge Pratt acquitted himself nobly in the trial. His patient and just bearing, his rulings and kind but dignified bearing throughout this long and tedious trial, made an impression on the Indians who witnessed the whole proceeding that was lasting and of great benefit to them and us. Worth very much more to the whites than would have been a great and bloody victory gained on the battle field. The five prisoners were found guilty and on the day designated by the court were hung until the whole five were dead.
This ends all that I have to say about the organizing the government. Much more might be said. I had no trouble, did quietly my duty. That alone made many friends.
Roseburg December 11 1878
H. H. Bancroft Esqr.
Your note of the 3rd inst. is before me. In this communication I propose to give you all the notes that will in my judgment be sufficient to enable you to give me a passing notice in your forthcoming book and indeed I am not sure that there is sufficient of interest in this and all that has preceded it from my pen, or the pen of others who have wished to perpetuate my name, to justify you in arranging them in order and publishing them, and further I know that unless the compiler shall feel and take an interest in rewriting and carefully compiling and arranging in their proper order all the notes, incidents and facts, it would be better for my fame, however small it may be, that they should be left out entirely, altogether out.
In order that you may properly comprehend and fully understand the difficulties that I had to encounter while a delegate in Congress and while in the Senate in procuring favorable action upon appropriations sufficient to pay all the expenses incurred in our many Indian wars, and especially the war of 1855-6, I have forwarded to you a volume on Indian affairs containing letters and reports of superintendents of Indian Affairs of Oregon and Washington territories, also the official letters of Govs. Curry and Stevens, also a memorial of the legislative assembly of Oregon, and also letters and reports of Genl. Wool, then commanding the Department of the Pacific. Genl. Wool was a soldier of the War of 1812-15 and had done good service. I had served under him for a time in the war with Mexico and had formed a strong attachment for him. But in the Indian war of 1855-6 when the Indians north and south in Oregon and Washington had agreed upon a simultaneous attack and an indiscriminate slaughter of the inhabitants of both territories and who did fall upon women and children and men and butchered and burnt alive all, every one who fell in their way, travelers, teamsters, drovers, on and off the main roads, all without notice or without anyone having the least idea of danger, under such circumstances it was fortunate that Oregon had her Curry and Washington her Stevens. Curry acted promptly, called out volunteers, dispatched them north, south and east, checked the Indians and enabled the gallant Stevens to make good his return from the Blackfeet council. And here I may be allowed to say that in my judgment Gov. I. I. Stevens was one of the finest, brightest intellects of the Pacific Coast, as good and as true a soldier as ever unsheathed a sword, of strict integrity and unblemished honor. He was most undoubtedly the right man, in the right place, at the right time.
Well, at this juncture when Gov. Curry had acted with skill and ability in discharge of his duty and with such good results, Genl. Wool arrived and soon took occasion to fall out with Curry and Stevens, volunteers and all, raised a howl about money, the expense of the war, that it was regarded by the people as a godsend to have such an opportunity to plunder the U.S. treasury, took the side of the Indians and joined in slandering our people. Maj. Lupton and others talked about Pu-pu-maux-maux [Peu-peu-mox-mox] and other weak and foolish things, while the smoke was still ascending from the piles where the charred remains of the comely and sprightly Mrs. Wagner and other unfortunates, the Misses Gates or the Gates sisters, were calling to heaven for revenge. [Lupton died at the Lupton massacre, which preceded Mrs. Wagner's killing.] At such a time Genl. Wool was found as an apologist for the Indians and the slander of our people. It pains me to write this of Wool, and it must not be printed. You will find all the facts in the volume I send you. It must be returned when you have compiled all from it that you may think proper. My object in sending it is that you may understand the obstacles I had to encounter in getting the appropriations through Congress to pay the large expenses necessarily incurred in the war of '55-6. But I did it, notwithstanding the old general went to Washington and did everything in his power to defeat my efforts. I triumphed and was proud of it. I was on the side of the people, laboring for right, and justice and truth and civilization, and Congress sustained my efforts. I. I. Stevens was then in Congress, and nobly, gallantly and ably did he discharge his duty. I loved him much; he was a pure and great man. In his fall our country sustained a great loss.
I have been asked what I did in Congress. Well, that is a matter of history. The Congressional Globe from '51 to '61 will tell the whole story. By examination you will find much that your judgment will approve and some things you will perhaps disapprove. I was opposed to a war upon the States and said so in my speech of the 2nd of March '61. Many Senators agreed with my views and many dissented. I believed then and believe now that the whole matter, the whole trouble, could have been settled without the shedding of blood or a dollar of expense. Be that, however, as it may, the war did take place, much blood was shed and yet we have to foot the bill. No living man loves his country and her Constitution and the rights of the states as reserved by the Constitution [more] than myself. I want to see the government faithfully, honestly and economically administered and the states left free to manage their own domestic polity in their own way, without any interference from any other state or the general good. These principles must be maintained or liberty will leave our great land, or country if you will.
I may say that the introduction of the Signal Service into our army was a pet measure of mine. Out of it has grown the Weather Signal Service. (Ask Gen. [Albert James] Myer, then and now at the head of the Signal Service.)
You must see the Congressional Globe for my action in the Senate. Place yourself at my standpoint and carefully read my speech of March 2, '61 and ask yourself who has or can answer this speech.
I am for my country, my whole country, and for paying her entire debt, and for the purity of the ballot box and clearly in favor of any man who has been or hereafter may be fairly elected to any office to have, hold, enjoy and discharge the duties of that office.
(So say you.) Return the volume. Yours,
Appended to the autobiography is the following page, in a different hand.
Island Milling Co.Judge Bryant purchased the island the mills and all belonging thereto--a good flouring mill and a first-class sawmill. Soon after this purchase he sold the property to Gov. Lane for $100,000, notes of hand. Lumber was then worth $100 per [thousand board feet], and the mills would saw about $10,000 per day. Expenses, including logs, were about $40 per day. Bryant received $50,000 before he left Oregon early in 1850. The mills were running to their full capacity, and vessels [were] waiting for lumber. Before the last payment of $50,000, a freshet came which washed away all of the logs, a good deal of sawed lumber, and badly damaged the mills. As soon as the water subsided the governor went to work to repair the damage, but before that was accomplished lumber began falling in price and continued to go down. Nat Lane was put in charge to do the best he could with the property, but it cost the general his homestead on the banks of the Ohio to finish the payment to Bryant.
Autobiography of Joseph Lane
In the last, "miscellaneous" reel of the Joseph Lane Papers microfilm is the following autobiographical account. Though it's written in the third person, the handwriting is General Lane's. The first page is missing:
fully inspired President Polk and the cry of "fifty-four forty or fight" met much favor generally in the West and South. An overt act upon the part of Mexico and war was immediately declared, and though the preparations were hastily made, every plan was efficient. There was no desire for international intervention, with diplomatic nonsense, and no time was given for any. Both campaigns, that of "invasion" and that of "occupation" were "short, sharp and decisive" and in every respect successful. This, as has been remarked by somebody, I don't know who, quite doubtful that there ever was a war more humanely conducted by an invading force or that in its results proved more beneficial. Your youngest reader may live to realize all the good that time has disclosed and may yet disclose--but as for those in middle life, the value of that future is beyond vision or estimate. However, war soon ceased and the soldiers, who have so long remained without recognition from the government, returned to the paths and labors and victories of Peace. Meantime, Polk's administration was rapidly approaching its conclusion--he was proud of his labor, especially on the boundary line matter, but still he was restless--feverishly so. Oregon--Oregon, she must be organized pending his term. How to do so was the subject of his discontent. Around the "Horn"--absurd--across the Plains with an unbroken trail--an impending winter beneath which to confront the Rocky Mountains--impractical--suicide. He called to his aid his Cabinet, personal friends both in and out of Congress, and finally a conclusion was reached. About the first of September 1848 at midnight a steamboat landed on the Indiana side of the Ohio River in front of a large, plain farmer-like house. A messenger jumped ashore, awoke Genl. Joe Lane, who was then and since known as the "Marion of the Mexican War," handed him a commission as Governor of Oregon and a personal letter from the President urging him to the perilous task and render unto history the fact that Oregon was organized under Polk. In half an hour the bell of the boat rang, the line was cast off, the prow turned downstream and Genl. Lane was gliding his way to Oregon fully knowing of the dangers ahead and determined to overcome them. Aut via aut facit [sic]--to find a way or make it. He was then in the zenith of life, being less than forty-seven years of age, strong, vigorous, discreet and vigilant. He selected his escort at Fort Leavenworth--about twenty men, Lieut. Hawkins commanding, and left there on the 10th of September. It is not the purpose of this
In passing I may say there is something worthy [of] remark concerning those two men--Polk and Lane. They never met, they never saw each other. Yet the former took the latter from the ranks and made him Brigadier General, and upon the first opportunity promoted him. He appointed him Governor, also without his knowledge and solicitation, deeming, perhaps, the post of danger that of most honor. Governor Gaines succeeded Lane, as soon after his nomination and confirmation as he possibly could. I never heard that he crossed the plains. The territorial government was then in good working order and nothing to be done except to pursue the regular monotonous routine. The foregoing was, as lawyers would say, stated by way of inducement--not interesting, but necessary. Now then to my narrative, illustrating the character of a very peculiar good little Indian.
After being relieved, ex-Gov. Lane immediately proceeded to the mines in Northern California and Southern Oregon. Gold was abundant in those days, and many dollars could be realized daily with simply a miner's spoon and pan with which to wash out the loose dirt or in other words to "clean up." General Lane was very fortunate.
One day "old Joe," chief of the Rogue River tribe of Indians--and by the way the name was given him by the General, he was his namesake--came and inquired if he would accept a gift from an Indian. To this a gracious and favorable answer was given. "Well, then I want to give you this boy"--a little Indian about ten years old. Lane extended his hand to the little fellow, who grasped it with his brown little fingers, and a smile came over his face, he seeming to realize that his days of slavery were over, for slave he had been, but he never spoke a word. It appears that in a battle between the Rogue Rivers and the Modocs, for it was a happy custom of these red devils, when they could not kill and rob the whites, the different tribes would kill and pillage each other, this boy's parents had been killed and he taken into captivity and bondage. This was about a year before this gift-making, and with Indians as well as with the Greeks it is well to remember dona ferentes--there is always very much expected in return. In this instance the boy had not spoken since his captivity, and it was a superstition with these Indians that the deaf and mute were under the direct protection of the Sohe Tyee--The Almighty--and must not be injured, and therefore this little Indian was of no manner of use to Chief Joseph, hence he wanted to give him away. Be that as it may, the boy was cheerfully accepted and immediately conceived a love for his new master and maintained a hate of horror for those who had slain his father and mother, but he never spoke nor even moved his lips as if attempting to do so. Often he would become uneasy lest some conspiracy was brewing among the treacherous Indians around to massacre his newfound friend and would move his little couch to the door of the tent and listen to every surrounding movement and sound. His eyesight and sense of hearing were exquisitely acute.
Every white man in the mining camps was working upon "his own hook," and there was no white labor to be obtained. Indian labor, which of course was unsatisfactory but far better than none, was utilized. Genl. Lane had quite a number of them in employment who were attached to him, except two mean-looking stalwart bucks.
I will interrupt the thread right here to say that as [in] all new gold diggings the first thing to be seen is a doggery where the vilest compounds in the shape of alcohol are eagerly sought and willingly sold. They come as by magic and go as if by the same mystic power, carrying away the miners' money and leaving behind drunkards and shattered constitutions. There may be a lack of flour and bacon, but somehow or other there is always plenty of this death-dealing stuff. Upon a particular Sunday Genl. Lane had forbidden the two Indians mentioned to visit the grocery only a mile distant, but they were incorrigible. After he and his charge had partaken of their frugal dinner of bread, bacon and beans, the little fellow discovered the approach of the two mischievous fellows and indicated by "staggering" motions of his body that they were drunk. They came to the tent, each having a heavy quart bottle of whiskey. They were invited to eat, but with sullen grunts refused. The General immediately arose, took the two bottles to the door of the tent, uncorked them and deliberately poured out their contents, whereupon both Indians rushed toward him--one with a desperate-looking knife in his hand. The General held the bottles in his hands and as the foremost, thus armed, approached, he stepped quickly aside and dealt a heavy blow just above the right temple, knocking him apparently dead. Instantly he turned upon the other, who upon seeing the impending blow threw up his right hand to protect his forehead. The blow dealt him severed all the fingers of the right hand below the second joint. A big quart bottle held by the neck in the strong right hand of a powerful, cool man is a dangerous weapon, wherein I make no doubt these two Indians would concur. Being dead, orders were given that graves be dug to receive their bodies, a coroner's inquest being deemed very unnecessary.
Meanwhile the little Indian kept watch and ward for nearly two hours, [when he] came to his master and by pointing to his nostrils and by other signs gave him to know that they were reviving. The General then buckled on his dragoons, and his trusty held his rifle by his side. As soon as the miserable wretches were able to stand upon their feet they were told to leave camp and never return. They stood not upon the order of their going but unlike Lot's wife never stopped to look back. The charms of the big black bottle had vanished--for a moment at least, Full of whiskey it was "cloas"--good--but in the hands of a brave man well used over their heads it was "wake cloas"--not good. A few days after this event a neighboring miner suggested that Lane and he cross the river and prospect a gulch immediately opposite, and accordingly, accompanied by the little man "Friday," they entered the canoe and in a few minutes reached the foot of the gulch. They proceeded but a short distance when Lane stopped and the neighbor continued on, followed by the boy. As the former made quite a gratifying "strike," he became absorbed in the use of his knife and crevice spoon and did not note the flight of time. Finally his shoulder was rudely touched; he turned around and there stood the boy greatly excited, pointed his hands up the hill with demonstrations of distress, bounded on and dove into the river and swam across--it was all like a flash. But Lane comprehended the situation, grabbed his pistols, which he had lain aside whilst working, and hurried up the gulch only to find his comrade tied to a tree and surrounded by a dozen or so of wild, ferocious fiends of the forest. He shouted so as to attract the attention of the Indians and the miners across the river. Instantly a dozen bows were strung and arrows placed in position, and at the same moment a pair of dragoon pistols were cocked and in readiness. One was pointed at the Indian who was nearest, and the other was held to meet the first menace. In clear, calm voice, speaking in "Chinook," Lane commanded the one who seemed to be the leader to cut the cords of the man they had bound or he would certainly make short work of him and that he would make good use of the remaining eleven bullets before their arrows could affect him. The Indians exchanged words in their tribal tongue, which was unknown to the whites. A brief moment elapsed--an awful one for that Indian and perhaps for the daring man that stood before them. Lane had got over the tremor incident to his run up the hill; his nerves were steady and quiet and his aim most accurate, and besides he was getting real mad. The Indian yielded, took out his sheath knife, cut a few of the binding withes, when a yell was heard at the foot [of the gulch] and in a brief space the little hero was by the side of his father, followed shortly by a score of as brave, true-hearted adventurers as ever lived. It is needless to say the Indians beat a hasty retreat. The boy had given the alarm as by electricity, and one shout went up: "To your guns and canoes, boys, our General is in danger." The boy did not take time to jump into a boat but returned as he went. What a picture! There the little child stood; he was dripping with water, his eyes were brilliant with excitement, he drew close to his friend and looking into his face as much as said Thank God I did my duty, but he did not speak. The rescued captive was too scared to say very much. Shortly after this General Lane moved camp into Shasta and Siskiyou counties in Northern California, where the mines were even richer than in Southern Oregon. [In the telling of this incident previously on this page, Lane places the incident in California.] He always had his trusty silent companion with him, and their attachment for each other seemed to grow stronger. Finally a delegation headed by the brave and distinguished Genl. James W. Nesmith, afterwards U.S. Senator, waited upon Lane and apprised him that he had been nominated by the people of Oregon as delegate to Congress, and they would not take "no" for an answer. The committee was inflexible and in addition to his love for them and the great interest he felt for the people of Oregon, he was also influenced by a high sense of duty generally. He accepted, returned to Oregon City, left the boy there in charge of his oldest son, Nat. H. Lane, who was then part owner with him in the saw and grist mill upon what is known as the Island. Lane was elected, and when he made known to the little boy that he was compelled to leave him for two years, the boy held onto his hands, tears welled in his eyes--he did not cry nor did he speak. That was their last parting.
Between the City and the Island mentioned were narrow gorges and passages where the water flowed deep and swift. To fall into any of them was almost certain death. These chasms were bridged with slabs, sometimes two and occasionally four feet wide. The bridge over the most dangerous one was of the latter width, but had no railings. The little boy took a strange fancy for the foreman of the sawmill. It was the habit of the latter at the end of each week to spend Saturday evening in the saloons. The boy would follow him, remain outside until his friend chose to return, then he would follow him noiselessly to see to it that no harm befell him. This continued for several months, the foreman meanwhile knowing all about it. One night in a spirit of fun he remained at his cups later than usual, the boy shivering outside. Finally, feigning to be quite drunk, he started for the Island, the boy following close behind. When they arrived at the most perilous place and the dark, death-sounding waters could be heard from below and when about midway [along] the bridge he staggered as if to fall into the gulf, the boy sprang forward and caught him by the shoulders and cried out "No, no no"--the only words a white man ever heard him utter. When they got across this white man . . . laughed derisively--at the joke--his victory over our "very peculiar good little Indian," who, as the noble little fellow should have done, turned upon his heels and never looked at the ingrate again--no, never.
Shortly after he fell sick. He had the services of excellent physicians; even Dr. Barclay, the eminent physician of the Hudson Bay Company, contributed his great skill and aid, but all in vain. At the age of about eleven years he died of brain fever, and his gentle spirit, faithful and true, departed for the happy hunting ground to rest perhaps with those of his parents so cruelly taken from him. His ashes rest in a grave upon the hill that overlooks Oregon City, the Lowell of our young state.
Now, Mr. Editor, one word--was that boy born dumb? The mute usually make some little sound.
Was there a paralysis of the organs of speech occasioned by the sight of the massacre of his parents? Did the momentary shock at the sight of impending danger to a friend temporarily restore the power of speech! Or was he a stoic of most remarkable character? I confess I cannot divine.
Joseph Lane Papers, Reel 8
Roseburg, Oregon.My Dear Madam:
July 17, 1878
Your letter of the 21st inst. has been received. I thank you for it, and would have answered ere this but for a press of business that could not be delayed.
I am the grandson of Jesse Lane, one of the three brothers mentioned in your letter, who lived near where Raleigh now stands. The three brothers were born near where they lived, away back in colonial times, and were clever, intelligent, old-style gentlemen and did good service in the War of the Revolution. My father, John Lane, entered the army while quite young, just in time to be in the Battle of King's Mountain, and remained in the army until the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. He voted for George Washington the second term, North Carolina having adopted the Constitution after his first election. He then voted for John Adams first and only term, then for Jefferson two terms, then for Madison, for Monroe and for Jackson etc. My father and my uncle Charles Lane settled in Buncombe in 1795, where they spent money, time and much labor in an effort to establish iron works not far from where Asheville now stands, but failed to accomplish their object.
In 1798 my father, then about forty years old, married my mother, Elizabeth Street. I am the second son and was born in Buncombe within four miles of Asheville on the 14th of December 1801. In 1804 Father left old Buncombe for Henderson County, Kentucky, where I was raised. I married young, raised ten children, six sons and four daughters, all now living but one, a son who died of cholera in New Orleans in December 1848; he left a widow and one child, a boy. The others, sons and daughters, are living in this state, all married but one, to wit: Col. John Lane, a graduate of West Point, who resigned at the commencement of the late Civil War, joined the Southern army, came out at the [end of the] war badly whipped, returned to Oregon and remains unmarried. My life has been an eventful one; elected to the legislature of Indiana in 1822 from the counties of Vanderburgh and Warwick, where I had settled some years before, and continued to serve in the state legislature off and on, one branch or the other until '46, when I resigned a seat in the Senate and entered the army then being organized for the war with Mexico, soon raised from the position of private to that of brigadier and came out of service at the end of the war a major general. My first battle, Buena Vista, was under Taylor, then transferred to Scott's line and saw and helped to fight as many if not more battles than any officer of the war. Very soon after peace was made with Mexico I was by Mr. Polk, then President, appointed Governor of Oregon Territory and ex-officio superintendent of Indian affairs. The trip to reach my post of duty had to be made across the plains in the winter, a feat that had not before then been accomplished. But I had at the request of Mr. Polk undertaken the performance of the duty and with hurried preparations [and] an escort of twenty men under Sgt. Hawkins left Fort Leavenworth on the 10th day of September '48 and after a hard struggle arrived at Oregon City on the 2nd day of March 1849 and on that day issued a proclamation making known that the laws of the United States by act of Congress had been extended over the Territory of Oregon, that I had been duly appointed Governor, had taken the oath of office and had entered upon the duties thereof. Well, I continued in office, attended to the interest and welfare of the good people and also to Indian affairs, brought the murderers of our people, Chief Tilokite and four of his braves, to trial and to the gallows, had several fights with different tribes, came near being killed, was very badly wounded, placed relations on a good footing with all the tribes and in '51 was elected delegate to Congress, was four times elected delegate to and then elected one of Oregon's first United States Senators, retired from the Senate in '61. In 1870 on the 16th day of August, my good and beloved wife died, since then I have lived on my ranch in the mountains twelve miles from this place until now. I have just finished a very neat little home where I think I shall spend my days unto the end.
I am in a quiet part of our pretty little town near some of my children, with whom I shall take my meals, and still live alone in my pleasant little home. My son LaFayette, who represented this state in the 44th Congress, lives quite near my house; he is the youngest of my ten children, a good lawyer and kind son.
And now returning to the old family, in 1860 I visited North Carolina and my father's birthplace, the old home of my grandfather four miles from Raleigh. In Raleigh [I] visited the house in which Joel lived at the time he deeded as a present to the state 640 acres of land on which the city now stands. Called at the courthouse, or state house rather, where such records are preserved, to look at the deed of conveyance, saw many of my relatives and spent several days with my cousin David L. Swain at Chapel Hill and learned much of and about our family and intended to go to old Buncombe but did not. Had I carried out my programme I might have enjoyed the pleasure of seeing you.
Of my grandfather's family, there were eight brothers and eight sisters. My aunts married gentlemen named respectively as follows. Rhoda was married to Rakestraw, Patience to John Hart, Rebecca to Lucky, Sally and Polly to brothers named Kirkpatrick, Winnifred to Rogers, Elizabeth to Parson Montgomery, and your grandmother Carrie married David Lowry. My father and uncle John Hart, Matt Barber and one other gentleman whose name I forget and Uncle Lowry, a party of five, were in pursuit of Indians who had been stealing and robbing the outside settlers, and all five were good Indian fighters, venturing too far were attacked by a large party of warriors. Barber, Lowry and the other, after hard fighting, were killed; my father and Hart made good their escape. Some time after Aunt Carrie married Swain, whose son David L. Swain I had corresponded with for many years before I made his acquaintance at Chapel Hill as above mentioned. All the eight sisters were noble, good and true women. I was raised in Henderson County, Kentucky near my aunt Hart, and a splendid woman she was. My aunts Kirkpatrick, who lived in Illinois, visited us in the year 1820. In 1821 I visited Parson Montgomery, then living in Mississippi about twenty miles from Natchez, and heard him preach. I found him a pleasant gentleman in manner and rich in this world's goods. My good proud old aunt was not happy. It was not her fault. The parson was not a true man. She died many years after. Her sons were clever and did well. I often saw your grandmother but was too young to remember her. Governor Swain often spoke of her with much love and respect and esteemed her one of the best of mothers and most lovable of women.
The above I had copied from what I had written. My hand trembles, and I was fearful you would have trouble to read or make out what I had written. But will now finish all that I had contemplated saying. The eight sons of my grandfather's family were named as follows: Charles, Joel, Jonathan, Simon, John, Richard, Joseph and Jesse. Gov. Colquitt of Georgia is the son of the daughter of my uncle Jo Lane. I met him in Mexico and served with him in Congress. My grandfather moved with the Kirkpatricks from Georgia to Illinois when he was eighty-four years of age (84) and killed many buffaloes in that then-new and uninhabited country. Died at 88.
I know but little of the whereabouts of many of my cousins. They are scattered over the southern states.
Very truly your friend and relative,
Mrs. L. A. E. Stikeleather
Olin, Iredell County, North Carolina
Transcribed from typescript, Joseph Lane Papers
THE LAST OF THE UMPQUAS.The West Shore, August 1879, page 6
BY GEN. JOSEPH LANE.
In 1849, while Governor and ex-officio Superintendent of Indian Affairs, I made a trip through the Umpqua Valley for the purpose of seeing the various tribes of the Umpquas, to find out their numbers and disposition and capacity for war, arms and implements, and if possible their temper and feelings towards the whites, who would very soon begin to make settlements in their beautiful valley; and to make known to them that they must not in any way interfere with, or attempt to hurt or harm American citizens in passing or repassing through or settling in the Umpqua Valley. One other object I had in view and very much at heart; that was to find and bring to justice one of the Umpqua Indians, who had in a most treacherous and willful manner murdered one of the immigrants of 1846, a Mr. Newton, who, with his wife, separated from all others of the party, had camped within a mile and a half of where the city of Roseburg now stands. Mrs. Newton was not disturbed but left entirely alone in a savage country for a time, but before many days was found and cared for, and brought to the settlements by a party of that immigration. I had the pleasure in '49 of an acquaintance with Mrs. Newton, and found her to be an estimable lady. Subsequently she was married to Mr. Powers, now of Astoria.
I searched faithfully and diligently for the murderer, but could get no information from the Indians as to where he could he found; they seemed to know nothing of or about the bad Indian and I had to give up the search and return without him. This I did very reluctantly. My conclusions about the Umpquas were that they were not a warlike or dangerous people, that we need not expect much, if any, trouble from them. Well, we did not until '55 and '56, when a general war was begun by all the Indians north and south of the Columbia River, the Umpquas joining in and doing much harm. At that time I was in Washington City; however, Col. James K. Kelley, Col. James W. Nesmith, Col. Lamerick, Ross Miller, James D. Burnett, and other gallant spirits, did brave and good service, and made many "good Indians" by killing them in battle. Govs. Curry and I. I. Stevens acted with much energy and good sense, and succeeded admirably, notwithstanding the opposition of the commander of the department. In 1856, the war was brought to a successful termination, peace was concluded with all the tribes, and the Umpquas were taken to the Grand Ronde Reservation. Now commences a brief history of my experience with the last of the Umpquas that made trouble in this valley. Soon after my re-election to Congress in the year 1857, I mounted my horse and with my rifle on my shoulder set out for a hunt on the spurs of the Cascade Range of mountains. My wife accompanied me on her riding pony. We stopped at the house of Thomas Ledgerwood, who had married our widowed daughter-in-law, Mrs. Jane Lane. This house was ten miles east of Roseburg, then the outside settlement in this direction. In a day or two I killed some four fine bucks, and was about to start out for more game, when word came that a party of Indians, supposed to be Umpquas, had shot and killed two fine American mares, then worth $250 each, belonging to Mr. Gilmore, an old man and very worthy citizen. I hurried off to see the dead animals, and to satisfy myself whether or not they had been killed by Indians. On close examination I found moccasin tracks, some twigs broken and dropped in a way that satisfied me that the mischief had been perpetrated by Indians. This was the first evidence that I had of any Indians living in the valley; but directly we learned of other outrages: houses west of the South Umpqua had been robbed and burned, horses and cattle had been killed and one man shot and wounded, and yet the Indians had not been seen at that time. Many men had farms, but no wife or family: the Indians, all the time on the watch, would rob and fire the houses while the owner was absent at work or looking after his cattle, or engaged at other outdoor employment, and in that way had done, and were doing, a great harm to our people. I at once determined to hunt out these Indians, if it took all summer. We readily made up a party, consisting of David Gilmore, son of the old gentleman whose mares had been killed, Tom Ledgerwood, Jesse Barker, Capt. Wm. Martin and myself, all woodsmen, and who knew how to track an Indian or buck or other animal, and set out on the track, which we found was not easily followed. In a day or two we found that they had crossed the South Umpqua and were heading west, evidently aiming for the Coast Range of mountains. The hills and mountains we found covered with dense forest, and in fact all the country was covered with brush and heavy foliage. We had lost the trail, and to find the Indians was about as difficult apparently as finding a needle in a haystack. I very soon discovered that some of the party had work at home that could not be neglected, consequently I proposed that we return to the settlements, and I would make a new start. There were at that time a small band of Klamath Indians living on the North Umpqua, who had never taken part in any war against our people. Their chief was known by the name of Samson, a strong and very active Indian. My party were disbanded, but I did not go home, but went to Samson's village, told him my business, and agreed to give him and two of his best warriors two dollars each per day during the time that we would be engaged hunting out the bad Indians; and without delay we set out. Now my party consisted of Capt. Martin, John Fitzhugh, Gilmore, Jack Burnett and the three Klamaths. After two camps, and on the third day of our search, Samson found signs, stopped and said, "We will find them on this creek," a branch of the Coquille River. The track was followed on with great care by Samson, his two warriors, and Gilmore and Burnett, all swift on foot. Before dark they came on them in camp; our party, however, were discovered, and the enemy broke for the dense brush. Samson and his two warriors dropped their guns, and with their tomahawks in hand darted into the brush at almost lightning speed, and directly returned with two prisoners--one was an active middle-aged man, the other a young squaw--the balance succeeded in making their escape, closely pursued by our young men. They proved to be Umpqua, a party of seven men and two squaws, who had stolen away from the reservation and returned to their old hunting grounds for the avowed purpose of destroying the property of our people, who were now occupying their old homes. The party was led by Umpqua Jim, a bold, active fellow, who had been with me, and worked in the mines in California, near my camp, and not far from my claim, in the year 1850. He divided his time between mining, hunting and drinking bad whisky. He was a fine shot, and killed many deer, which he readily sold to the miners for quite as much gold as he could have mined in the time that he was occupied in hunting. Then, as now, wherever there was a successful mining camp bad whisky was found in abundance. The consequence was that most of Jim's gold was invested in whisky, and when drinking he was a dangerous, bad Indian. I had frequently told him not to come to my camp when drinking; but a half-drunk Indian is a hard being to govern. So it happened, that one day at noon, when I came to camp for dinner, I was met near our tent by the cook, also an Indian, who said, "Stop; Jim is in the tent with his big knife in his hand, and says he will kill you when you come in; and see, here is his bottle of whisky." The bottle was a thick, heavy chunk bottle. I took it from the cook and turned it up to let the whisky run out, but Jim heard the whisky escaping from the bottle, and with knife in hand darted out of the tent and at me like a tiger. I can never forget the vicious, murderous expression of his eyes when he sprang at me with his long knife. All, as I well knew, depended on the next second. Consequently I gripped the neck of the heavy chunk bottle firmly in my hand, watched his eye, and as he made a lunge, by a quick movement I evaded the blow, and with all the force and strength of my good right arm struck him full and fair on the side of his head. The heavy end of the bottle had cut the scalp to the bone, and he fell apparently as dead as if shot through the head. I looked at him, he bled freely, but lay still. I thought he was dead. I washed, ate my dinner, and again looked at him. There he lay, still as dead as a hammer, as I thought. I sent for some of the miners to come and help dig a grave nearby to bury him in, and at it we went, but before we had got two feet deep, the cook came running, and said, "Jim no dead." We hurried back and found Jim breathing.
We sat by until life fully returned, and helped him sit up. He was now recovering his senses, and soon after I placed a guard over him and kept him prisoner until noon the next day. Then I found him duly sober and released him, with a full and fair understanding that if after that day I found him in the mines, or anywhere near the mines, I would shoot him, and this he might depend upon. Then I had his head dressed, and told him to go; and I did not see him again until I met him several years after in this Umpqua Valley. Such was the man that was at the head of the party that we were in search of, and whose camp we had surprised and taken the two prisoners before mentioned. Jim was now badly scared, and he, with his followers, set out for their cache away deep in the Coast Range of mountains, almost inaccessible to whites or Indians. Soon after this we were joined by Wm. P. Miller (now First Warden of the state prison) and two or three Indians, sent out from the reservation by Col. John F. Miller, Indian Agent, accompanied by my son, La Fayette, then a lad of fourteen, but hardy and active, who endured fatigue and camp life as though it was a pleasure. Miller was also young, active, hardy and willing. We sent the squaw to Winchester for safekeeping, where she was well cared for by my good wife and her kind neighbors.
Our prisoner took suddenly quite sick, which for a day or two detained us, as now he was our best guide. He knew the country, and had agreed to show us their retreat. We could not afford to lose much time, so we mounted our prisoner on one of our ponies, and set out. This day he suffered very much, but we kept him going until an hour before sunset, though he had not tasted food for several days. While we were making camp, Miller stepped off with his rifle, and within two hundred yards killed a deer and dragged it to camp, where it was hung up and neatly butchered. Of this deer our sick Indian ate that night more than I ever saw any human being eat in one day or night. Then he spread himself face down on the ground and asked one of the party to walk back and forth on his back. This was performed for some time, and cured him. Soon after he fell asleep, and next morning got up quite well and able to start off on foot at as lively a pace as he did before. A few days' search after Jim and his party satisfied our prisoner and myself and party that Jim had broken up his camp, destroyed his plunder and had set out on his return to the reservation. He struck the settlements near the village where I lived, and left word for me that he and his party had been so closely pursued that they had broke up their camp and set out for the reservation, telling the man for him to say: "Goodbye, Joe Lane, and goodbye, Umpqua Valley, forever!"
Last revised May 30, 2016