History of Oregon (Bancroft)/Volume 2/Chapter 12

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3277121History of Oregon, Volume 2 — Chapter 12Frances Fuller Victor




Impositions and Retaliations—Outrages by White Men and Indians—The Military Called upon—War Declared—Suspension of Business—Roads Blockaded—Firing from Ambush—Alden at Table Rock—Lane in Command—Battle—The Savages Sue for Peace—Armistice—Preliminary Agreement—Hostages Given—Another Treaty with the Rogue River People—Stipulations—Other Treaties—Cost of the War.

Notwithstanding the treaty entered into, as I have related, by certain chiefs of Rogue River in the summer of 1852, hostilities had not altogether ceased, although conducted less openly than before. With such a rough element in their country as these miners and settlers, many of them bloody-minded and unprincipled men, and most of them holding the opinion that it was right and altogether proper that the natives should be killed, it was impossible to have peace. The white men, many of them, did not want peace. The quicker the country was rid of the red-skin vermin the better, they said. And in carrying out their determination, they often outdid the savage in savagery.

There was a sub-chief, called Taylor by white men, who ranged the country about Grave Creek, a northern tributary of Rogue River, who was specially hated, having killed a party of seven during a winter storm and reported them drowned. He committed other depredations upon small parties passing over the road.[1] It was believed, also, that white women were prisoners among the Indians near Table Rock, a rumor arising probably from the vague reports of the captivity of two white girls near Klamath Lake.

Excited by what they knew and what they imagined, about the 1st of June, 1853, a party from Jacksonville and vicinity took Taylor with three others and hanged them. Then they went to Table Rock to rescue the alleged captive white women, and finding none, they fired into a village of natives, killing six, then went their way to get drunk and boast of their brave deeds.[2]

There was present neither Indian agent nor military officer to prevent the outrages on either side. The new superintendent, Palmer, was hardly installed in office, and had at his command but one agent,[3] whom he despatched with the company raised to open the middle route over the Cascade Mountains. As to troops, the 4th infantry had been sent to the north west coast in the preceding September, but were so distributed that no companies were within reach of Rogue River.[4] As might have been expected, a few weeks after the exploits of the Jacksonville company, the settlements were suddenly attacked, and a bloody carnival followed.[5] Volunteer companies quickly gathered up the isolated families and patrolled the country, occasionally being fired at by the concealed foe.[6] A petition was addressed to Captain Alden, in command of Fort Jones in Scott Valley, asking for arms and ammunition. Alden immediately came forward with twelve men. Isaac Hill, with a small company, kept guard at Ashland.[7]

On the 7th of June, Hill attacked some Indians five miles from Ashland, and killed six of them. In return, the Indians on the 17th surprised an immigrant camp and killed and wounded several.[8] The houses everywhere were now fortified; business was suspended, and every available man started out to hunt Indians.[9]

On the 15th S. Ettinger was sent to Salem with a request to Governor Curry for a requisition on Colonel Bonneville, in command at Vancouver, for a howitzer, rifles, and ammunition, which was granted. With the howitzer went Lieutenant Kautz and six artillerymen; and as escort forty volunteers, officered by J. W. Nesmith captain, L. F. Grover 1st lieutenant, W. K. Beale 2d lieutenant, J. D. McCurdy surgeon, J. M. Crooks orderly sergeant.[10] Over two hundred volunteers were enrolled in two companies, and the chief command was given to Alden. From Yreka there were also eighty volunteers, under Captain Goodall. By the 9th of August, both Nesmith and the Indian superintendent were at Yoncalla.

Fighters were plenty, but they were without subsistence. Alden appointed a board of military commissioners to constitute a general department of supply.[11] Learning that the Indians were in force near Table Rock, Alden planned an attack for the night of the 11th; but in the mean time information came that the Indians were in the valley killing and burning right and left. Without waiting for officers or orders, away rushed the volunteers to the defence of their homes, and for several days the white men scoured the country in small bands in pursuit of the foe. Sam, the war chief of Rogue River, now approached the volunteer camp and offered battle. Alden, having once more collected his forces, made a movement on the 15th to dislodge the enemy, supposed to be encamped in a bushy cañon five miles north of Table Rock, but whom he found to have changed their position to some unknown place of concealment. Following their trail was exceedingly difficult, as the savages had fired the woods behind them, which obliterated it, filled the atmosphere with smoke and heat, and made progress dangerous. It was not until the morning of the 17th that Lieutenant Ely of the Yreka company discovered the Indians on Evans Creek, ten miles north of their last encampment. Having but twenty-five men, and the main force having returned to Camp Stuart for supplies, Ely fell back to an open piece of ground, crossed by creek channels lined with bunches of willows, where, after sending a messenger to headquarters for reënforcements, he halted. But before the other companies could come up, he was discovered by Sam, who hastened to attack him.

Advancing along the gullies and behind the willows, the Indians opened fire, killing two men at the first discharge. The company retreated for shelter, as rapidly as possible, to a pine ridge a quarter of a mile away, but the savages soon flanked and surrounded them. The fight continued for three and a half hours, Ely having four more men killed and four wounded.[12] Goodall with the remainder of his company then came up, and the Indians retreated.

On the 21st, and before Alden was ready to move, Lane arrived with a small force from Roseburg.[13] The command was tendered to Lane, who accepted it.[14]

A battalion under Ross was now directed to proceed up Evans Creek to a designated rendezvous, while two companies, captains Goodall and Rhodes, under Alden with Lane at their head, marched by the way of Table Rock. The first day brought Alden's command fifteen miles beyond Table Rock without having discovered the enemy; the second day they passed over a broken country enveloped in clouds of smoke; the third day they made camp at the eastern base of a rocky ridge between Evans Creek and a small stream farther up Rogue River. On the morning of the fourth day scouts reported the Indian trail, and a road to it was made by cutting a passage for the horses through a thicket.

Between nine and ten o'clock, Lane, riding in advance along the trail which here was quite broad, heard a gun fired and distinguished voices. The troops were halted on the summit of the ridge, and ordered to dismount in silence and tie their horses. When all were ready, Alden with Goodall's company was directed to proceed on foot along the trail and attack the Indians in front, while Rhodes with his men took a ride to the left to turn the enemy's flank, Lane waiting for the rear guard to come up, whom he intended to lead into action.[15]

The first intimation the Indians had that they were discovered was when Alden's command fired into their camp. Although completely surprised, they made a vigorous resistance, their camp being fortified with logs, and well supplied with ammunition. To get at them it was necessary to charge through dense thickets, an operation both difficult and dangerous from the opportunities offered of an ambush. Before Lane brought up the rear, Alden had been severely wounded, the general finding him lying in the arms of a sergeant. Lane then led a charge in person, and when within thirty yards of the enemy, was struck by a rifle-ball in his right arm near the shoulder.

In the afternoon, the Indians called out for a parley, and desired peace; whereupon Lane ordered a suspension of firing, and sent Robert B. Metcalfe and James Bruce into their lines to learn what they had to say. Being told that their former friend, Lane, was in command, they desired an interview, which was granted.

On going into their camp, Lane found many wounded; and they were burning their dead, as if fearful they would fall into the hands of the enemy. He was met by chief Jo, his namesake, and his brothers Sam and Jim, who told him their hearts were sick of war, and that they would meet him seven days thereafter at Table Rock, when they would give up their arms,[16] make a treaty of peace, and place themselves under the protection of the Indian superintendent, who should be sent for to be present at the council. To this Lane agreed, taking a son of Jo as hostage, and returning to the volunteer encampment at the place of dismounting in the morning, where the wounded were being cared for and the dead being buried.[17]

The Ross battalion arrived too late for the fight, and having had a toilsome inarch were disappointed, and would have renewed the battle, but were restrained by Lane. Although for two days the camps were within four hundred yards of each other, the truce remained unbroken. During this interval the Indian women brought water for the wounded white men; and when the white men moved to camp, the red men furnished bearers for their litters.[18] I find no mention made of any such humane or Christian conduct on the part of the superior race.

On the 29th, both the white and red battalions moved slowly toward the valley, each wearing the appearance of confidence, though a strict watch was covertly kept on both sides.[19] The Indians established themselves for the time on a high piece of ground directly opposite the perpendicular cliffs of Table Rock, while Lane made his camp in the valley, in plain view from the Indian position, and about one mile distant, on the spot where Fort Lane was afterward located.

The armistice continued inviolate so far as concerned the volunteer army under Lane, and the Indians under Sam, Jo, and Jim. But hostilities were not suspended between independent companies ranging the country and the Grave Creek and Applegate Creek Indians, and a band of Shastas under Tipso, whose haunts were in the Siskiyou Mountains.[20]

A council, preliminary to a treaty, was held the 4th of September, when more hostages were given, and the next day Lane, with Smith, Palmer, Grover, and others, visited the Rogue River camp. The 8th was set for the treaty-making. On that day the white men presented themselves at the Indian encampment in good force and well armed. There had arrived, besides, the company from the Willamette, with Kautz and his howitzer,[21] all of which had its effect to obtain their consent to terms which, although hard, the condition of the white settlers made imperative,[22] placing the conquered wholly in the power of the conquerors, and in return for which they were to receive quasi benefits which they did not want, could not understand, and were better off without. A treaty was also made with the Cow Creek band of Umpquas, usually a quiet people, but affected by contact with the Grave Creek band of the Rogue River nation.[23]

On the whole, the people of Rogue River behaved very well after the treaty. The settlers and miners in the Illinois Valley about the middle of October being troubled by incursions of the coast tribes, who had fled into the interior to escape the penalty of their depreciations on the beach miners about Crescent City, Lieutenant R. C. W. Radford was sent from Port Lane with a small detachment to chastise them. Finding them more numerous than was expected, Radford was compelled to send for reënforcements, which arriving under Lieutenant Caster on the 22d, a three days' chase over a mountainous country brought them up with the marauders, when the troops had a skirmish with them, killing ten or more, and capturing a considerable amount of property which had been stolen, but losing two men killed and four wounded.

After this the miners hereabout took care of themselves, and made a treaty with that part of the Rogue River tribe, which was observed until January 1854, when a party of miners from Sailor Diggings, in their pursuit of an unknown band of robbers attacked the treaty Indians, some being killed on both sides; but the Indian agent being sent for, an explanation ensued, and peace was temporarily restored.

The Indian disturbances of 1853 in this part of Oregon, according to the report of the secretary of war,[24] cost the lives of more than a hundred white persons and several hundred Indians. The expense was estimated at $7,000 a day, or a total of $258,000, though the war lasted for little more than a month, and there had been in the field only from 200 to 500 men.

In addition to the actual direct expense of the war was the loss by settlers, computed by a commission consisting of L. F. Grover, A. C. Gibbs, and G. H. Ambrose[25] to be little less than $46,000. Of this amount $17,800, including payment for the improvements on the reserved lands, was deducted from the sum paid to the Indians for their lands, which left only $29,000 to be paid by congress, which claims, together with those of the volunteers, were finally settled on that basis.[26]

  1. Drew, in Or. Jour. Council, 1857–8, app. 26; Or. Statesman, June 28, 1853; Jacksonville Sentinel, May 25, 1867; Dowell's Nar., MS., 5–6.
  2. 'Let our motto be extermination,' cries the editor of the Yreka Herald, 'and death to all opposers.' See also S. F. Alta, June 14, 1853; Jacksonville Sentinel, May 25, 1867. The leaders of the company were Bates and Twogood.
  3. This was J. M. Garrison. Other appointments arrived soon after, designating Samuel H. Culver and R. R. Thompson. J. L. Parrish was retained as sub-agent. Rept of Supt Palmer, in U. S. H. Ex. Doc., i. vol. i. pt i. 448, 33d cong. 1st sess.
  4. Five companies were stationed at Columbia barracks, Fort Vancouver, one at Fort Steilacoom, one at the mouth of Umpqua River, two at Port Orford, and one at Humboldt Bay. Cal. Mil. Aff. Scraps, 13–14; Or. Statesman, Sept. 4, 1852.
  5. August 4th, Richard Edwards was killed. August 5th, next night, Thomas J. Mills and Rhodes Noland were killed, and one Davis and Burril F. Griffin were wounded. Ten houses were burned between Jacksonville and W. G. T'Vault's place, known as the Dardanelles, a distance of ten miles.
  6. Thus were killed John R. Hardin and Dr Rose, both prominent citizens of Jackson county. Or. Statesman, Aug. 23, 1853.
  7. The men were quartered at the houses of Frederick Alberding and Patrick Dunn. Their names, so far as I know, besides Alberding and Dunn, were Thomas Smith, William Taylor, and Andrew B. Carter. The names of settlers who were gathered in at this place were Frederick Heber and wife; Robert Wright and wife; Samuel Grubb, wife and five children; William Taylor, R. B. Hagardine, John Gibbs, M. B. Morris, R. Tungate, Morris Howell. On the 13th of Aug. they were joined by an immigrant party just arrived, consisting of A. G. Fordyce, wife and three children, J. Kennedy, Hugh Smith, Brice Whitmore, Ira Arrowsmith, William Hodgkins, wife and three children, all of Iowa, and George Barnett of Illinois. Scraps of Southern Or. Hist., in Ashland Tidings, Sept. 27, 1878.
  8. Hugh Smith and John Gibbs were killed; William Hodgkins, Brice Whitman, A. G. Fordyce, and M. B. Morris wounded.
  9. Duncan's Southern Or., MS., 8, says: 'The enraged populace began to slaughter right and left.' Martin Angell, from his own door, shot an Indian. Or. Statesman, Aug. 23, 1853.
  10. Grover's Pub. Life in Or., MS., 29; Or. Statesman, Aug. 23, 30, 1853.
  11. George Dart, Edward Sheil, L. A. Loomis, and Richard Dugan constituted the commission.
  12. J. Shane, F. Keath, Frank Perry, A. Douglas, A. C. Colburn, and L. Locktirg were killed, and Lieut Ely, John Albin, James Carrol, and Z. Shutz wounded. Or. Statesman, Sept. 6, 1853; S. F. Alta, Aug. 28, 1853.
  13. Accompanying Lane were Pleasant Armstrong of Yamhill county, James Cluggage, who had been to the Umpqua Valley to enlist if possible the Klickitat Indians against the Rogue Rivers, but without success, and eleven others. See Lane's Autobiography, MS., 63.
  14. Curry had commissioned Lane brigadier-general, and Nesmith, who had not yet arrived, was bearer of the commission, but this was unknown to either Alden or Lane at the time. Besides, Lane was a more experienced field-officer than Alden; but Capt. Cram, of the topographical engineers, subsequently blamed Alden, as well as the volunteers, because the command was given to Lane, 'while Alden, an army officer, was there to take it.' U. S. H. Ex. Doc., 114, p. 41, 35th cong. 2d sess.; H. Ex. Doc., i., pt ii. 42, 33d cong. 1st sess.
  15. In this expedition, W. G. T'Vault acted as aid to Gen. Lane, C. Lewis, a volunteer captain, as asst adjutant-gen., but falling ill on the 29th, Capt. L. F. Mosher, who afterward married one of Lane's daughters, took his place. Mosher had belonged to the 4th Ohio volunteers. Lane's Rept in U. S. H. Ex. Doc. i., pt ii. 40, 33d cong. 1st sess.
  16. They had 111 rifles and 86 pistols. S. F. Alta, Sept. 4, 1853.
  17. See Or. Statesman, Nov. 15, 1853. Among the slain was Pleasant Armstrong, brother of the author of Oregon, a descriptive work from which I have sometimes quoted. The latter says that as soon as the troops were away the remains of his brother were exhumed, and being cut to pieces were left to the wolves. Armstrong's Or., 52–3. John Scarborough and Isaac Bradley were also killed. The wounded were 5 in number, one of whom, Charles C. Abbe, afterward died of his wounds. The Indian loss was 8 killed and 20 wounded.
  18. Lane's Autobiography, MS., 96–7.
  19. Siskiyou County Affairs, MS., 2, 4–5; Minto's Early Days, MS., 46; Grover's Pub. Life, MS., 28–51; Brown's Salem Dir., 1871, 33–5; Yreka Mountain Herald, Sept. 24, 1853; Or. Statesman, Oct. 11, 1853; U. S. H. Ex. Doc., 114, p. 41–2, 35th cong. 2d sess.; Jacksonville Sentinel, July 1, 1867; Meteorol. Reg., 1853–4, 594; Nesmith's Reminiscences, in Trans. Or. Pioneer Asso., 1879, p. 44; Or. Statesman, Sept. 27, 1853.
  20. R. Williams killed 12 Indians and lost one man, Thomas Philips. Owens, on Grave Creek, under pledge of peace, got the Indians into his camp and shot them all. U. S. H. Ex. Doc., 99, p. 4, 33d cong. 1st sess. Again Williams surprised a party of Indians on Applegate Creek, and after inducing them to lay down their arms shot 18 of them, etc.
  21. The Indians had news of the approach of the howitzer several days before it reached Rogue River. They said it was a hyas rifle, which took a hatful of powder for a load, and would shoot down a tree. It was an object of great terror to the Indians, and they begged not to have it fired. Or. Statesman, Sept. 27, 1853.
  22. The treaty bound the Indians to reside permanently in a place to be set aside for them; to give up their fire-arms to the agent put over them, except a few for hunting purposes, 17 guns in all; to pay out of the sum received for their lands indemnity for property destroyed by them; to forfeit all their annuities should they go to war again against the settlers; to notify the agent of other tribes entering the valley with warlike intent, and assist in expelling them; to apply to the agent for redress whenever they suffered any grievances at the hands of the white people; to give up, in short, their entire independence and become the wards of a government of which they knew nothing.

    The treaty of sale of their lands, concluded on the 10th, conveyed all the country claimed by them, which was bounded by a line beginning at a point near the mouth of Applegate Creek, running southerly to the summit of the Siskiyou Mountains, and along the summits of the Siskiyou and Cascade mountains to the head waters of Rogue River, and down that stream to Jump Off Joe Creek, thence down said creek to a point due north of, and thence to, the place of beginning—a temporary reservation being made of about 100 square miles on the north side of Rogue River, between Table and Evans Creek, embracing but ten or twelve square miles of arable land, the remainder being rough and mountainous, abounding in game, while the vicinity of Table Rock furnished their favorite edible roots.

    The United States agreed to pay for the whole Rogue River Valley thus sold the sum of $60,000, after deducting $15,000 for indemnity for losses of property by settlers; $5,000 of the remaining $45,000 to be expended in agricultural implements, blankets, clothing, and other goods deemed by the sup. most conducive to the welfare of the Indians, on or before the 1st day of September 1854, and for the payment of such permanent improvements as had been made on the land reserved by white claimants, the value of which should be ascertained by three persons appointed by the sup. to appraise them. The remaining $40,000 was to be paid in 16 equal annual instalments of $2,500 each, commencing on or about the 1st of September, 1854, in clothing, blankets, farming utensils, stock, and such other articles as would best meet the needs of the Indians. It was further agreed to erect at the expense of the government a dwelling-house for each of three principal chiefs, the cost of which should not exceed $500 each, which buildings should be put up as soon as practicable after the ratification of the treaty. When the Indians should be removed to another permanent reserve, buildings of equal value should be erected for the chiefs, and $15,000 additional should be paid to the tribe in five annual instalments, commencing at the expiration of the previous instalments.

    Other articles were added to the treaty, by which the Indians were bound to protect the agents or other persons sent by the U. S. to reside among them, and to refrain from molesting any white person passing through their reserves. It was agreed that no private revenges or retaliations should be indulged in on either side; that the chiefs should, on complaint being made to the Indian agent, deliver up the offender to be tried and punished, conformably to the laws of the U. S.; and also that on complaint of the Indians for any violation of law by white men against them, the latter should suffer the penalty of the law.

    The sacredness of property was equally secured on either side, the Indians promising to assist in recovering horses that had been or might be stolen by their people, and the United States promising indemnification for property taken from them by the white men. And to prevent mischief being made by evil-disposed persons, the Indians were required to deliver up on the requisition of the U. S. authorities or the agents or sup. any white person residing among them. The names appended to the treaty were Joel Palmer, superintendent of Indian affairs; Samuel H. Culver, Indian agent; Apserkahar (Jo), Toquahear (Sam), Anachaharah (Jim), John, and Lympe. The witnesses were Joseph Lane, Augustus V. Kautz, J. W. Nesmith, R. B. Metcalf, John (interpreter), J. D. Mason, and T. T. Tierney. Or. Statesman, Sept. 27, 1853; Nesmith's Reminiscences, in Trans. Or. Pioneer Asso., 1879, 46; Portland West Shore, May, 1879, 154–5; S. F. Alta, Sept. 24, 1853; Palmer's Wagon Trains, MS., 50; Ind. Aff. Rept, 1856, 265–7; and 1865, 469–71.

  23. The land purchased from the Cow Creek band was in extent about 800 square miles, nearly one half of which was excellent farming land, and the remainder mountainous, with a good soil and fine timber. The price agreed upon was $12,000, two small houses, costing about $200, fencing and plowing a field of five acres, and furnishing the seed to sow it; the purchase money to be paid in annual instalments of goods. This sum was insignificant compared to the value of the land, but bargains of this kind were graded by the number of persons in the band, the Cow Creeks being but few. Besides, Indian agents who intend to have their treaties ratified must get the best bargains that can be extorted from ignorance and need.
  24. U. S. H. Ex. Doc., i., pt ii. 43, 33d cong. 1st sess.
  25. Portland Oregonian, Dec. 30, 1854; U. S. H. Ex. Doc., 65, 43d cong. 2s sess.
  26. The names of the claimants on account of property destroyed, on which the Indian department paid a pro rata of 34.77 per cent out of the $15,000 retained from the treaty appropriation for that purpose, were as follows, showing who were doing business, had settled, or were mining in the Rogue River Valley at this period: Daniel and Ephraim Raymond, Clinton Barney, David Evans, Martin Angell, Michael Brennan, Albert B. Jennison, William J. Newton, Wm Thompson, Henry Rowland, John W. Patrick, John R. Hardin, Pleasant W. Stone, Jeremiah Yarnel, Wm S. King, Cram, Rogers & Co., Edith M. Neckel, John Benjamin, David N. Birdseye, Lewis Rotherend, Mary Ann Hodgkins, George H. C. Taylor, John Markley, Sigmond Eulinger, James C. Tolman, Henry Ham, William M. Elliott, Silas and Edward Day, James Triplett, Nathan B. Lane, John Agy, James Bruce, James B. Fryer, Wm G. F. Vank, Hall & Burpee, John Penneger, John E. Ross, John S. Miller, D. Irwin, Burrell B. Griffin, Traveena McComb, Wm N. Ballard, Freeman Smith, Nicholas Kohenstein, Daniel F. Fisher, Thomas D. Jewett, Sylvester Pease, David Hayhart, McGreer, Drury & Runnels, James Mooney, John Gheen, Theodosia Cameron, James Abrahams, Francis Nasarett, Galley & Oliver, T. B. Sanderson, Frederick Rosenstock, Dunn & Alluding, Asa G. Fordyce, Obadiah D. Harris, James L. London, Samuel Grubb, Win Kahler, Samuel Williams, Hiram Niday, John Anderson, Elias Huntington, Shertack Abrahams, Thomas Frazell, Weller & Rose, Robert B. Metcalf, Charles Williams, John Swinden, James R. Davis, Isaac Woolen, Wm M. Hughs. Of the settlers on the reservation lands who brought claims were these: David Evans, Matthew G. Kennedy, John G. Cook, William Hutchinson, Charles Grey, Robert B. Metcalf, Jacob Gall, George H. C. Taylor, John M. Silcott, James Lesly. Report of Supt Palmer, in U. S. H. Ex. Doc., 52, p. 3–5, 38th cong. 2d sess.