Oregon and Washington Volunteers/11
|←Walker to Ross||Oregon and Washington Volunteers by
Ross to Curry, 10 November 1854
|Drew to Curry→|
|House Misc. Doc. No. 47, 35th Congress, 2nd Session, pp. 14-16|
[Colonel J. E. Ross’ report to Governor Curry, dated November 10, 1854.]
Jacksonville, O.T., November 10, 1854.
Dear Sir: I have the pleasure of presenting copies of my call for volunteers on the 3d of August last, my order to Captain Walker on the 8th of the same month, and Captain Walker’s report of the expedition, dated November 8, 1854. Captain Walker, with his whole command, arrived here on the 6th instant. The officers and privates were all generally well, and were immediately discharged. The muster-rolls are not yet made out, but I will send them to General Barnum by one of our members, who will go down to Salem at the meeting of the legislative assembly. The expenses have been high, and more than I anticipated at the time the company was organized. But the evident necessity for the company, and the happy result of the expedition, it is confidently hoped, will induce Congress immediately to assume the expenses.
It may be interesting to mention the previous character of the Pi-ute, Modoc, and disaffecting roaming Shasta Indians who inhabit the country east of the settlements of Rogue River valley, and along the immigrant road to southern Oregon and northern California. The Modoc and Shasta Indians, who refused to make any treaty with the United States, occupy the country near the California line, between the spurs of the Cascade mountains and the Sierra Nevada mountains, and the Pi-utes occupy the country between the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Sho-shones, or Snakes, on Humboldt river. “Old La Lakes,” the chief of the Klamath Lake tribe, has tried to control the Modocs and Pi-utes, but they dispute his authority, and have confederated with the Sho-shones, who inhabit the country along the Humboldt river, and have always been inveterate enemies to the whites.
I am informed that, in the fall of 1846, Jesse Applegate and others acted as guides for the first immigration that passed through the country of the Pi-utes and Modoc Indians, and they annoyed the immigrants very much by stealing their stock, and murdered one of the immigrants on Lost river.
Owing to the distance to northern Oregon and middle California by this route, and the hostility of the Sho-shones, Pi-utes, and Modocs, and the many difficulties which the first immigration encountered on this route, but few travelled it from 1846 until the fall of 1852, after the settling of Shasta and Rogue River valleys. In the fall of 1852 there was a large immigration came this route to California and Oregon, and about the 11th September news reached this valley that whole trains of immigrants had been massacred on Lost river. A company of twenty-two volunteers were immediately raised in Jacksonville, and they elected me their captain. The whole company left here on the 13th of September, made forced marches, and in a few days arrived at Lost river. We found the bodies of fourteen immigrants and buried them. Several of them were women and children; they were much mutilated. On our arrival at Clear lake, about twenty-two miles beyond this, we found Ben. Wright’s company, from Yreka, California, stationed at the lake. He informed me that his men had found and buried eighteen bodies in the vicinity of Bloody Point, at Tulé lake, and among the number were Captain Coats and Mr. Orvensby, two respectable citizens of Yreka, California, who went out to assist the immigration.
Captain Wright’s company remained out some time after the immigrants had all passed through this country. He found several more bodies of those who had been massacred by these Indians. The precise number that were massacred in a single season by these Indians, between Klamath lake and the Sierra Nevada mountains, probably will never be known to the whites. Some of these Indians have been killed in battle since these massacres, but not a single murderer has yet been given up by the tribes and brought to justice.
The California legislature, at its next session thereafter, paid all expenses of Captain Wright’s company, and liberally rewarded the officers and privates for their services. My company did arduous service, was out some thirty-odd days, returned with the last of the immigration, and received for our services the compliments of the Oregon legislative assembly. The last immigration was protected along this route by a detachment of dragoons and Captain John T. Miller’s company, (mounted volunteers,) who were stationed on Lost river by General Lane; yet, notwithstanding this partial protection, they stole during the season a large amount of stock from the last immigration. Having a personal knowledge of these Indians, and knowing their deadly hostility and natural propensity to rob, plunder, and murder the whites, it is truly gratifying to know that the whole of this year’s immigration for southern Oregon and northern California have passed through the Pi-ute and Modoc countries without a single immigrant being killed by these Indians, and comparatively with but little loss of property. Much credit is due to Captain Walker, and to the officers and men belonging to his command, for their kindness to the immigrants, and for their vigilance, energy, and untiring industry in the prosecution of their mission. The animals belonging to the expedition bear unmistakable evidence of the arduous service which they have performed. The transportation and riding animals were all in fine condition at the time they entered the service, but most of them have returned poor, emaciated, and scarcely able to travel.
In relation to the massacre near “Gravelly Ford,” on the Humboldt, the report is confirmed by the immigrants and the papers. These Indians, too, will have to be taught the power of American arms.
I have the honor to be your most respectful and obedient servant,
JOHN E. ROSS,
Colonel 9th Regiment O. M.
GEO. L. CURRY,
Acting Governor and Commander-in-chief.