Copyright 1999 - 2003 - Janine M. Bork
This page is part of the Union County, OR AHGP
(1859 - 1889.)
Oregon as a State in the Federal Union - Formal Admission of the State - Senators Lane and Smith, and Representative Grover Sworn In - Federal Appointments for State - Lansing Stout Elected to Congress - Delegates to the Charleston Democratic National Convention Instructed to Vote for General Lane for President - election of George K. Shiel - Exciting Elections of 186- - Edward D. Baker and James W. Nesmith elected United States Senators - Presidential Election - Special Election Ordered for Congressman - Andrew J. Thayer Receives Majority - Republican Appointees for State - Colonel Edward d. Baker Killed at Ball's Bluff - Governor Whiteaker Appoints Benjamin Stark United States Senator - General Harney Appointed Commander of the Department of Oregon - The Wallen Wagon Road Expedition - Protection to Immigrants - Expeditions of Major Steen and Captain A.J. Smith in the Snake Country - Superintendent Geary Seeks the Bannack Chiefs to Hold a Council, but Returns Without Success from the Hostile Country - Attack on Captain Smith, and His Retreat - Colonel Wright Succeeds General Harney - Relief and Reinforcements Sent to Major Steen - He Follows the Indians Up Steen's Mountain and Down the Other Side - Troops Leave the Country and Go Into Winter Quarters - Massacre of Immigrants at Salmon Falls - Captain Dent Sent to the Rescue of the Survivors - Oregon Steam Navigation Company - Military Operations in the Snake Country - Fort Boise Established and Garrisoned - Shoshone War - Political Legislative and Current Résumé.
IN THE previous volume has been detailed the gradual growth
and transition of Oregon from a territorial condition to a state within,
and a component part of, the American Union. The admission had been consummated
by President James Buchanan, on the 14th day of February, 1859, approving
the act of Congress admitting Oregon as a state, which had passed February
12, 1859. Upon the 14th of February, Oregon's
first United States senators, Joseph Lane and Delazon Smith, presented their certificates of election by the Oregon state legislature (which had taken place on the 5th of July, 1858), and were sworn in. Senator Lane drew the term ending March 3, 1861. Senator Smith's term expired March 3, 1859. Lafayette Grover, member-elect of the United States House of Representatives, took his seat as member of the Thirty-fifth Congress
on the fifteenth day of February.
The officers constituting the
state government who had been elected in June, 1858, had been duly inaugurated
July 8, 1858, as required by the state constitution. That instrument also
rendered necessary a meeting of the state legislature (the members of which
had been elected at the same time as the state officers), to perform all
necessary acts and pass all necessary laws to perfect the state organization.
But little legislation
was attempted; and the understanding was that the session was held simply to comply
with a requirement of the constitution, and that all laws passed, and all acts and proceedings, should not take effect until the formal and complete admission of the state into the Union.
The constitution had designated
the commencement of the first regular session of the state legislature
to be in September; and sessions were to be held biennially thereafter.
That time had been allowed to pass without the meeting, as it had become
definitely known that the first session of the Thirty-fifth Congress had
adjourned without passing the Admission Bill. It will also be remembered
that, at the annual election in
June, 1858, members of the territorial legislative assembly had also been elected. At the time fixed by the territorial law, the territorial assembly convened as usual. Governor George L. Curry, territorial governor, sent in his message, as though no change had been attempted. In 1858, George H. Williams had been reappointed chief justice of the supreme court of Oregon Territory, and Reuben P. Boise, associate justice. Walter
Forward had been appointed marshal of Oregon Territory, to succeed Colonel John McCraken. Later and subsequent to admission, Matthew P. Deady, who had been elected one of the judges of the state supreme court under the state constitution, was appointed judge of the United States district court of the State of Oregon. The vacancy on the state supreme bench, made by Justice Deady becoming United States
district judge, was filled by the appointment of P.P. Prim. the state having been admitted, Andrew J. Thayer was appointed United States district attorney; and Dolphus B. Hannah received the appointment of first United States marshal for the State of Oregon.
At the ensuing election, held June 27,1859, Lansing Stout, the Democratic candidate, beat David Logan, his Republican competitor, by sixteen votes. The Republican state convention which nominated Logan also elected three delegates to the Republican national convention to be held in 1860, to nominate a candidate for President of the United States, and instructed such delegates to vote for the nomination of William H. Seward. At that election Lafayette Grover and Governor George L. Curry, both Democrats, canvassed the state for the United States senatorship, made vacant by the expiration of the term of Delazon Smith.
The Democratic party had become divided on the question
of slavery in the territories, upon the Douglas issue; added to which,
General Joseph Lane was an aspirant for nomi- nation to the Presidency.
Matters of partisan usage also occasioned increased difference of feeling.
The precedent in the apportionment of delegate representation to former
Democratic territorial or state conventions had been the congressional
vote. Adopting such precedent, the state central committee had called a
state convention to nominate delegates to the Democratic national convention
of 1860, basing the number of delegates upon the vote of Lansing Stout
in the Logan-Stout election. This allowed Marion county
four votes. An earnest protest was made to such apportionment. Several counties disregarded the call, and sent larger delegations. Marion county sent ten. The call was adhered to by the state convention; and four only of the returned Marion delegates were admitted. Thereupon the delegations of Marion, Clatsop, Coos, Curry, Umpqua, Wasco and Washington counties withdrew from the Eugene convention. After the withdrawal, Joseph Lane, Lansing Stout and Matthew P. Deady were elected delegates to the Democratic convention to assemble at Charleston in 1860, with instructions to use their influence to secure the nomination of General Joseph Lane as Democratic candidate for the Presidency.
The Oregon State constitution had fixed 1858 as the year in which the first
election was to be held, and had provided for elections to be held biennially
thereafter. The first election (1858) had been held; and Grover's term
of office expired March 3, 1859. The state legislature passed a law providing
for a special election, at which Lansing Stout, as before stated, had been
elected, and had been duly admitted as a member of the Thirty-sixth Congress
for the term expiring March 3, 1861. The Democratic state committee called
a state convention to meet at Eugene in April, 1860, to nominate a candidate
for Congress to be voted for at the biennial election to be held in 1860.
The Democrats of the counties
of Clatsop, Curry, Marion, Polk, Tillamook and Washington refused to elect delegates. George K. Shiel was nominated. Again the Republicans nominated David Logan as their candidate. Shiel was elected by a majority of one hundred and four votes. That summer canvass preliminary to the Presidential election was intensely earnest. Edward D. Baker came from California and made speeches advocating the election of the
Republican candidate. James W. Nesmith (I) opposed the election of George K. Shiel. The chief Democratic canvassers were James K. Kelly, Delazon Smith and George K. Shiel.
Abraham Lincoln had been nominated
at Chicago. John C. Breckenridge and Joseph Lane were the candidates
presented by the Charleston convention. Stephen A. Douglas and Herschell
V. Johnson were nominated by a Democratic convention which assembled at
Baltimore. The American party had also candidates in the distinguished
personages of John Bell of Tennessee and Edward Everett of Massachusetts.
Such were the nominees of the respective political organizations in the
great presidential struggle of 1860. The state Democratic central committee
indorsed Breckenridge and Lane. The Douglas Democrats held a state convention
in September, and nominated a full ticket of presidential
electors. They cordially indorsed the platform of the Baltimore convention, and its candidates, Douglas and Johnson, denounced secession, and in unmistakable language put the Douglas Democracy of Oregon on record as loyal to the Union.
On the 10th of September, the
state legislature convened. It consisted of ten Republicans, twenty-four
Douglas Democrats and sixteen Breckenridge Democrats. The great question
of the hour was the election of United States senators. Sufficient of the
Douglas Democrats had allied themselves with the Republicans to assure
an anti-Breckenridge majority of six in the House. In the Senate the vote
was a tie, the
anti-Breckenridge Democrats supporting William Tichenor, of Coos, for president of the senate, and the Breckenridge senators voting for Luther Elkins of Linn. It was at first the programme of the Breckenridge party to elect Delazon Smith and another Breckenridge Democrat senators, or to defeat any election, even should it become necessary to leave the
(1) James W. Nesmith was born July 23, 1820 in Washington county, Maine. He removed to New Hampshire while quite young, and remained there until his eighteenth year, when he went to Ohio. From there he found his way to Missouri, and from thence, in the great migration of 1843, he came to Oregon. Forty years later at the annual reunion of the Oregon pioneers (1883), he performed the part of historian of that memorable train, and placed his comrades high on the roll of fame as avant couriers in the Americanization of the region west of the Rocky Mountains. He distinguished himself for his frontier characteristics in the great overland journey, and became well known to the large element now infused into Oregon settlement. By his popular manners, his ever ready and spontaneous humor, and his strongly marked character, he at once became prominent as a leading man in affairs. He took an active part in the formation of the Provisional government, and though of youthful age, was appointed its judge in 1845. In 1847 and 1848 he represented Polk county in the legislative assembly of that government. When the news came of the perfidious massacre of the Whitmans at Waiilatpu, no one rallied the men more than he, nor so encouraged the authorities to prompt measures against the perfidious Cayuses. In the war which followed, he performed efficient services. His early educational advantages had been extremely limited; but he had made the best use of his meager opportunities. To the brightest natural gifts he had added application and ambition; and his great individuality and keen knowledge of human nature made him a natural leader. A successful orator, frank, fearless and independent, he was a man among men. Self-made, self-taught, self-reliant, he took his place at the bar in 1849. With all the elements to make a successful advocate, yet he preferred the freedom of the farm and the independence of farm life. In 1853, on the Indian outbreak in Southern Oregon, he raised a company of volunteers, and served as captain in the Rogue river war, and acquired a great reputation as an Indian campaigner. On his return, he was appointed marshall for the territory, which office he resigned in October, 1855, to accept the colonelcy of the Oregon mounted volunteers in the great Oregon-Washington Indian war of 1855. He conducted one campaign in the Yakima country, the details of which are fully narrated in the previous volume. In 1857, he received the appointment of superintendent of Indian affairs for Oregon and Washington Territories, which he held for two years.
the state of Oregon as a candidate for Presidential elector on the Douglas
ticket in 1860. He was elected United States senator to succeed Delazon
Smith, by a fusion of Republicans and Douglas Democrats. As a senator,
through the great struggle for national endurance, his votes were always
in favor of the Union, and for an unlimited supply of men and money to
support the army and navy who were in the front to preserve it. In 1873,
he was elected a member of the United States House of Representatives to
serve out the remainder of the term of Joseph G. Wilson, deceased. He was
stricken with paralysis in 1884, from which he never recovered. He lingered
till June 17, 1885, when his brilliant, useful and patriotic life was ended.
4 HISTORY OF PACIFIC NORTHWEST - OREGON AND WASHINGTON.
legislature without a quorum. This became manifest the second day of the session. During the night six senators had left the seat of government. Without a quorum being present, the senate elected Mr. Elkins President, and then issued process for the arrest of the absentees. The fugitive senators avoided arrest for nine days. During that time the two houses had met in joint convention; and an unsuccessful ballot had been taken. The Republicans had voted for Edward D. Baker and Amory Holbrook. The Douglas Democrats supported James W. Nesmith and George H. Williams. The Breckenridge Democrats had voted for Joseph Lane and Delazon Smith.
The Legislature on the tenth
day adjourned sine die. Governor Whiteaker called them together
again on the twenty-fourth. On that day they assembled; but no voting for
senator took place until October 1st. The candidates in the meantime had
become more numerous. Jesse Applegate and David Logan, Republicans, Judge
Deady, Governor Curry and Lafayette Grover were now among those prominently
spoken of in connection with the office. There was a long and bitter strife
between the two Democratic houses. Many offers and combinations were proposed
and rejected. The Breckenridge men remained inexorable in their demand
that Delazon Smith should be one of the senators.
The Douglas Democrats as earnestly protested and refused to entertain the proposition. The Breckenridge men agreed to support a Douglas man if enough votes were given to elect Smith; but the Douglas men would not accept him on any terms. After seventeen unsuccessful ballots had been taken, the Douglas Democrats abandoned the hope of electing two Democrats, without one of them should be Delazon Smith. A coalition with the Republicans followed which resulted in the election of James W. Nesmith for the long term, and Edward D. Baker for the short term (I).
With the change of National administration came also a change in the federal officers of the State of Oregon. B.J. Pengra had been appointed surveyor-general. William H. Rector became superintendent of Indian affairs for Oregon (the territory of Washington had again been erected into a separate superintendency). Thomas J. Dryar, the veteran journalist, and founder of the Oregonian, received the appointment of commissioner to the Sandwich Islands. William L. Adams was appointed collector of customs at Astoria.
Upon the death of Senator Edward
D. Baker, in October, 1861, Governor Whiteaker appointed Benjamin Stark
(2) to fill the vacancy until the regular session of the state legislature.
Charges of disloyal sentiments were preferred against Mr. Stark; and for
several months the United States Senate denied him a seat in that body.
Finally, in February, 1862, by a vote of twenty-six to nineteen, he was
admitted, his colleague,
Senator James W. Nesmith, voting for his admission.
On the 13th of September, 1858, the Military Department of the Pacific had been divided into the two Departments of California and Oregon. To the latter had been assigned Major-General William S. Harney, U.S. Army, with headquarter at Fort Vancouver. He arrived at his headquarters October 29th, and immediately issued an order revoking the Wool interdict against white settlement in Walla Walla valley. The Oregon
(I) Edward D. baker, the brilliant
orator and soldier, was born in England in 1811. He came to Philadelphia
when but five years old, where he was soon left an orphan. He learned a
trade, and, although struggling with great difficulties, obtained that
thorough classic education which distinguished all his speeches. In his
nineteenth year he migrated to Carrollton, Illinois, where he studied law,
was admitted to practice and early became famous as an advocate. He served
in the Black Hawk War as captain. He was a member of the Illinois legislature
for ten years and was elected to Congress in 1845. He resigned in 1846
to take part in the Mexican War as colonel of an Illinois volunteer regiment.
He distinguished himself at Cerro Gordo. After the war he was re-elected
to Congress, and served till 1851, when he went to Panama and engaged in
building the railroad. He settled in San Francisco in 1852, where he successfully
practiced law till he came to Oregon in 1860, and secured an election to
the United States senate from March 4, 1861. At the outbreak of the Rebellion
he raised, in Philadelphia, a regiment named the
California, of which he became the colonel. He was killed at Ball's Bluff, Virginia, October 21, 1861.
(2) Benjamin Stark, one of the
pioneer proprietors of the city of Portland, was born in New Orleans, June
26, 1820. He received a good academic education in New London, Connecticut,
and a thorough mercantile education in the city of New York. He settled
at Portland, Oregon, and established commercial relations with the Sandwich
Islands, and with California while yet a province of Mexico. In 1850, he
abandoned commercial pursuits, read law, and was admitted in 1851. He served
as a member of the territorial and state legislatures of Oregon, and was
appointed a senator by the governor of Oregon, serving a part of the Thirty-seventh
Congress. He has not permanently resided in Oregon since that date.
THE WALLEN WAGON ROAD EXPEDITION 5
state legislature, then in session, passed a joint resolution
requesting of the major-general commanding the Department of Oregon, the
presence of sufficient troops on the line of the immigrant routes
in the Snake country to protect immigration and urging the establishment
of a military post at Fort Boise. On April 27, 1859, special orders were
issued at Fort Vancouver, as follows (1) "To increase the facilities of
between the Columbia river and the valley of Great Salt Lake, in connection with the overland route to the frontiers of the Western states, the following command will be organized at Fort Dalles, to move from that point by the 1st of June next, for the purpose of opening a good wagon road to the Snake river, in the vicinity of the mouth of Malheur river, and from thence to a point called City Rock,' at the junction of the road from Forts Laramie and Bridger with the road from Fort Hall to Salt Lake City, viz." Companies E and H of the First Dragoons; Company H, Fourth Infantry; a detachment of engineers, Company A; Captain Henry D. Wallen, Fourth Infantry, commanding."
In the letter of instructions accompanying the orders will be found: "The portion of the road from the Dalles to the Snake river remains to be explored. You are therefore directed to ascertain if a wagon road cannot be made up to the John Day river, and thence over the headwaters of the Malheur, following down that route to the Snake river."
That expedition started from
Fort Dalles June 4th, and reached Camp Floyd, Utah, August 10th, reported
to General a. Sidney Johnston, and remained there till August 20th. Returning
to Fort Boise, the command moved slowly to allow the immigrants to keep
up, and to afford protection while their trains journeyed through the Snake
river region. Of the Bannack Snakes infesting this region, Captain Wallen
said: "These Bannack Snakes are numerous and formidable, roving about in
bands of sixty or seventy, and, not having been impressed with the powers
of the white man, are constantly annoying small parties of emigrants passing
through their country. They extend from Fort Boise,
on Snake river, for several hundred miles along the river, both on the north and south side of it, committing their depredations as far south as the road leading from Salt Lake to California. The emigrants destined for that part of the country were much harassed by these marauding bands during the past summer."
In concluding his report, he said: "I would respectfully state to the general commanding that the expedition intrusted to my command has served a double purpose. The resources of a country heretofore unknown have been developed. All the country on both sides of the Blue, Owyhee and Goose creek Mountains has been traveled over, carefully measured and mapped; and the troops have been among the various tribes of Indians along the several routes over which the weary and defenseless emigrants were to pass, and have furnished them the required protection to reach their new homes in peace and safety. Much suffering has also been alleviated by our movements, in the timely assistance of transportation and provisions to destitute families."
On the 28th of July, Captain Wallen met Major Reynolds,
Third Artillery, with his battery en route from Camp Floyd to Fort
Vancouver. The two commands camped together on that night. The advance
of the immigration came up at that time; and from that time forward Captain
Wallen was passing small parties traveling towards Oregon. Thus Major Reynolds,
with his force of one hundred artillerymen and eight pieces, escorted the
advance of the immigration. Captain Wallen later did philanthropic service
in bringing up their rear. His presence on the road served as an efficient protection to the
(1) See report Captain H.D. Wallen,
wagon road expedition from Columbia river to Great Salt Lake. House Executive
Documents, first session Thirty-sixth congress, Vo. IX, page 209.
6 HISTORY OF PACIFIC NORTHWEST - OREGON AND WASHINGTON
immigrants of that year. He reported: "My return trip
was slow, halting several times to allow the emigrants to keep up with
the command. On the Owyhee river, I waited nine days, sending back Lieutenant
Sweitzer with a mounted command and several animals to assist several families
who were behind us, in distress. These families consisting of seven men,
three women and fifteen children were found in a very destitute
condition, without food or the means of transportation. They were supplied with both; and but for this timely assistance they must all have inevitably perished. Much suffering has been spared those crossing the plains by the presence of my command on Snake river, by protecting them form the hostile Indians, and in supplying provisions and transportation to those families who were destitute."
Captain Wallen's expedition reached Fort Dalles, on their return, on the 17th day of October.
In the spring of
1860, General Harney sent two expeditions into the Snake country, both
under the command of Major E. Steen. With the troops under his immediate
command, Major Steen was to march west from Crooked river, whilst Captain
Andrew J. Smith, with his force, was to march south and east to "City Rocks."
Rev. Edward R. Geary, Superintendent of Indian Affairs of Oregon, George
H. Abbott, Indian Agent at
Warm Springs, with an escort of four white men and five Warm Springs Indians (who were endeavoring to find some Bannack chiefs or prominent men to confer with as to holding a council with those Indians, and if possible effect a treaty), came into Major Steen's camp. While they were there, on the 15th of July, two white men, belonging to a party who had been prospecting, appeared and reported the wounding
of one of their number and the breaking up of their party, who had scattered and fled to Harney Lake after a second attack by the hostile. This discouraged Superintendent Geary from his further peace efforts; and he and his escort returned to The Dalles. An express communicating these facts was sent by Major Steen to Captain Smith, who had been two days on his march towards "City Rocks." Major Steen then
moved his camp to Harney Lake so as to be in communicating distance with Captain Smith.
He occupied several days in unsuccessfully hunting Indians in the vicinity. When Captain Smith had marched within twenty miles of Owyhee, the Indians attacked him in large numbers; and, as he was only able to protect the government property in his charge, he deemed it wisest to fall back on Harney Lake. He notified Major Steen, who returned and joined him at the headwaters of the Crooked river.
In the meantime, Colonel Wright
had succeeded General Harney in the command of the Military Department
of Oregon. On being advised of these acts of the hostile Bannacks, Major
George P. Andrews, with three companies of artillery, was sent to relive
Major Steen's expedition. Major Grier with one hundred dragoons was ordered
to Fort Boise, and to march along and guard the immigrant road from there,
and to be within communicating distance of Major Steen's command. The artillery
under Major Andrews having joined Major Steen, on the 4th of August Major
Steen, with a force of one hundred dragoons and sixty-five artillery,
marched southeastward from Harney Lake towards a range of snowcapped mountains.
Major Andrews with the remainder of the force moved to the Owyhee, went
into camp and awaited orders. On the 8th of August, Major Steen's Warm
Spring scouts discovered a small band of Snakes on the north side of the
butte which since has born the name of Steen Mountain. Major Steen's troops
pursued the Indians to the summit, and followed them through a narrow gorge
EXPEDITIONS OF UNITED STATES TROOPS IN THE SNAKE COUNTRY 7
other side, an abrupt descent of six thousand feet, losing one mule, but not killing a single Indian. For three days following, the command remained there and thoroughly searched the base of the mountains and the adjacent country; but no Indians were to be found. While there the scouts brought in three Indians, and several squaws and children. On the sixteenth, Major Steen returned to camp with his command. Captain Smith, with his dragoons, scouted the country, following a supposed Indian trail a hundred miles without finding a trace of the Indians. Major Steen then determined to discontinue any effort to make road surveys that season, and to return to The Dalles.
In three parties, their respective
lines of march being twenty miles apart, Major Steen, captain Smith and
Majors Andrews, with their commands, marched back to Fort Dalles, neither
column meeting an Indian on that return march. Major Grier had marched
from Fort Walla Walla July 18th for Fort Boise (1) with a squadron of dragoons
consisting of one hundred men and two company officers, with sixty days
orders were to march along the Fort Boise or immigrant road, to co-operate in the hostile movement of Major Steen, if necessary, with the additional and special purpose of guarding the road. At Burnt river, July 28th, he had met and passed a party of immigrants pursuing their journey towards Grand Ronde. His command reached the Owyhee river at a point opposite Fort Boise on the thirty-first. He there established camp and remained until August 4th. While there two immigrant trains came up. They reported no casualties, nor any signs of Indians west of the Rocky Mountains; neither had they seen nor heard of Major Steen's command. They also claimed or asserted their belief that most probably they were the last train of that year's immigration bound for Oregon. They referred to one train which had been three or four days behind; but it was their belief that it had taken the road for California.
On August 3d, Major Grier's scouts brought in the intelligence of the presence of Indians, fifteen or twenty miles distant, in the mountains on both sides of Snake river. Judging that those Indians were watching his movements, and that their purpose was either to attack him or the immigrants who had a few days before gone ahead, after having waited several days since the information received from the immigrants for the coming up of the train reported as back, he accepted as true the statement that the last train had passed. Major Grier marched on the 4th of August. Having advanced twelve miles, he divided his command. He sent one party ahead to overtake and warn the immigrants of the proximity of Indians, and to give escort if necessary. The other he sent back to the camping ground just left, thinking possibly that, with his departure, the Indians might have visited it. The party sent ahead returned, reporting no signs of Indians. Again Major Grier returned to the Owyhee river and there waited for several days without seeing or hearing of either immigrants or Indians. He then (fearing that the Indians might have passed him and were hovering near the immigrant trains) by rapid marches overtook those immigrants, and followed them within protecting distance until close to Fort Walla Walla. With his rations about exhausted, with no guide beyond or off the traveled route to Fort Boise, with every reason to believe that the immigration was through, and that no Indians were in war parties in the country so lately traversed, he, with his command, marched to Fort Walla Walla.
No sooner, however, had the troops retired from the Snake river country or hostile region, than the Bannacks, Snakes or Shoshones (for the hostile tribe or nation is called
Fort Boise referred to is the site of the old Hudson's Bay Company's trading
post, and must not be confounded with the military post
established later, called by that name.
8 HISTORY OF PACIFIC NORTHWEST - OREGON AND WASHINGTON.
by each of these names) attacked the Warm Spring Indian
reservation, and entirely depleted it of its stock. That successful raid
prompted the detail to that reservation of Lieutenant Gregg with a detachment
of twenty dragoons for its future protection. Immediately following that
successful raid upon the Warm Spring reservation came the tidings of that
soul-sickening horror, known in history as the "Salmon Falls
Massacre." Much censure at that time was heaped upon the military for having abandoned the hostile country so early in the season. But justice to those concerned warrants that statement that that calamity is in nowise attributable to culpable negligence of duty, or to unwise action. Proper precautions sufficient for every conceivable exigency seem to have been taken to afford protection to the incoming immigration of 1860. The information given to Major Grier, his careful and patient waiting more than the time required for that last train to have come, had they not reasonably been supposed to have gone to California, his thorough scouting of the country, his right to believe that the
advance trains might need his presence, abundantly justify his course and approve his judgment. Sad as was that occurrence, it must be regarded as a concomitant of frontier life, - an occurrence most likely to happen when least anticipated. When appearances justify confidence, then just such a massacre is most likely to occur. The Indian thus has always acted. That massacre is only one more of the true illustrations
of the natural characteristics of the North American Indian, - his cruelty and perfidy, his crafty cunning to avoid danger and strike down the unarmed and helpless.
That shocking barbarity is best narrated by one of the survivors: "There were forty-four persons in the company. Colonel Howe sent an escort of twenty-two dragoons with our company from Portneuf river, seven miles this side of Fort Hall. The escort were furnished with only twelve days' rations, and were to escort us six days and return, which they did. We desired Colonel Howe to give us an escort farther; but he said there would be no trouble; that the immigrants were in no danger if they would keep the Indians away from their camp and not allow them to come too near. He said there were troops on the roads beyond Salmon Falls. Colonel Howe had furnished an escort for the California train, but for what distance I do not know.
"After the escort left the company,
two weeks transpired before the attack. The attack was made between nine
and ten o'clock on the morning of the 8th of September. There were about
one hundred Indians, most of them on foot. They first came around
the train whooping and yelling, probably to stampede the cattle. We then
corralled and defended ourselves. The Indians then desisted and made signs
of friendship, signifying that they wished something to eat. As many as
came were fed. They made signs to us that we might pass on to the river.
In doing this, when we reached an eminence which exposed us and furnished
the Indians the covert of sagebrush, they commenced a general firing upon
us with arrows and rifles. We again corralled as soon as we could. Before
he had fully done this and got our oxen secure, three of our men were shot
down, viz., Lewis Lawson, William Ottley and Mr. Kishnell, a German. We
defended ourselves as well as we could, the fighting continuing through
the day. During the day we saw several of the Indians fall. It was believed
that twenty or more of them were killed the first day. The Indians kept
shooting at the train through the night, mostly with arrows, but occasionally
with rifles. Their random shots did not do much harm, except to wound and
irritate the cattle and horses, which were without grass and water all
the day and night. The fight was renewed in the morning, and continued
nearly through the entire day, one of our men, Judson Cressey, being killed.
MASSACRE OF EMIGRANTS AT SALMON FALLS 9
"About an hour before sundown, the train agreed to leave four wagons and their contents as booty for the Indians, and to start on, hoping this would satisfy them, and that, while they were ravaging these, the company might escape with the remainder. This plan was attempted without success. The Indians paid no attention to the deserted prey, but swarmed about the train like bees, attacking it with renewed activity. The company drove on as fast as they could; but the cattle were so ravenous after sagebrush that they could not be got along; and, in the meantime, the firing of arrows and rifle balls by the Indians was actively continued. Before we started the last time from the corral, four young men were detailed, mounted and armed, to go in the van of the train and open the way for the wagons. They were discharged soldiers form the post at Portneuf. They were well armed with rifles and revolvers, which, with the horses, belonged to the train. Instead of assiting the immigrants, they immediately fled. Their names were Snider, Murdock, Shaumberg, and Chaffee. Snider, it is said, reported two as killed by the Indians. He and Chaffee are living. With these horsemen two left on foot, viz., Jacob and Joseph Reith. These were the two men who brought word into the settlements of the condition of the immigrants; and Jacob Reith, returned with Captain Dent's command for their relief. At about dusk we left our cattle and wagons, as we found that we could do nothing with the Indians. After driving out of the corral, my brother was shot down by my side. The Indian who shot him was not more than ten rods off, in the sagebrush. I saw him as he was drawing upon us and shot him, but not until he had fatally wounded my brother. I saw the Indian roll over dead. When we were finally leaving the wagons, I helped Miss Otter out of the wagon and was setting her down, when a rifle ball passed through my coat and two shirts, grazed my body and killed her. She spoke some after being shot; - said that she had got her death blow; that she was killed.
"Mr. Otter made signs of surrendering to the Indians, proposing a treaty, and while doing so was killed. Mrs. Otter refused to leave her husband; and three of her children remained with her. One of them, a boy of five years, was immediately seen to fall, shot, upon the dead body of his father; and then Mrs. Otter and the two girls were seen to fall. Mr. Vanorman and his family, Mr. Chase and his family, and myself and mine, left the wagons and cattle and hastened on foot. After we had left our wagons, the Indians fell back; and we traveled on all night until about daylight. All the provisions saved from the wagons was a loaf of bread, secured by Mr. Chase. At morning, we camped under the bank of the river, and stayed there all day. Some of us had fish-hooks in our pockets; and the ladies made lines with spool-thread they had. We caught some fish. The Indians had dogged our path, and were howling about our camp. We supposed they saw us. We traveled at nights and lay by day, until we had traveled some sixty or seventy miles, when we became too weak to carry the children farther, and were obliged to build wigwams, which we did as well as we could, with willows. Here we lay by entirely. This was on the Owyhee river, about three miles from Fort Boise, then deserted.
"Before reaching our final camp,
we killed and ate two dogs which followed us; and, when within about six
miles of that camp, a very poor emigrant cow met us, which we killed and
ate. By mixing the beef with rosebuds and parsley, we made it last us two
weeks. We made two wigwams. Mr. Vanorman and family, and a young man, two
of Mrs. Otter's children, Miss Trimble and her brother, and two sons of
Mr. Otter and an infant child of Mrs. Otter, were in one wigwam. Mrs. Chase's
family and mine were in the other. A few days after we camped, we saw Indians
camped on Snake river some
10 HISTORY OF PACIFIC NORTHWEST - OREGON AND WASHINGTON.
three miles from us. They were fishing. They brought us
salmon, for which we exchanged some of our clothing and ammunition. This
was the only way we could obtain it. At first they would come thus and
exchange us salmon every three or four days. They called themselves Shoshones.
We found herbs, frogs and mussels along the river, which we gathered or
caught and ate. About two or three weeks after we camped, Mr. Chase died,
probably from over-eating salmon. Ten days after this, Elizabeth Trimble
died from starvation. Four or five days afterwards, Susan Trimble, her
sister, died. The next day, Daniel Chase died; and two days after him,
his brother Albert, all from the same
cause. The living were compelled to eat the dead to preserve their own lives. It was a subject of much and anxious consultation, and even of prayer, before the eating of the dead was finally determined upon. This determination was unanimous.
"The flesh of the dead was carefully husbanded and sparingly eaten to make it go as far as possible. Thus the bodies of four children were disposed of. The body of Mr. Chase was exhumed, and the first meal from it cooked and about to be eaten, when relief came. The Indians had come and carried away our guns, - two from Mr. Vanorman, one from Mr. Chase and one from me. They also took Mr. Vanorman's blanket from him; and they did it somewhat roughly. At this time, we had already traded off some of our clothing for salmon. After the Indians left, MR. Vanorman said he was going to take his family and leave; 'for,' said he, 'if we do not, the Indians will come to-morrow and strip and kill us.' He and his family left our camp that day about noon. They traveled on to Burnt river, as it afterwards appeared. When the command reached there, they found six of the bodies killed by the Indians. Four of the children were not found. It is supposed they are now captives among the Indians. The six bodies found were those of Alexis Vanorman and wife (the latter was scalped), their son Mark, Samuel Gleason, and Charles and Henry Otter. The last was about twelve years old; the others were adults. Besides Mr. Myers' family, consisting of himself, wife and five children (the oldest ten years and the youngest one year old), Mrs. Chase and daughter and Miss Trimble were rescued, also, between the camps, in a very emaciated condition, Chaffee and Munson, - twelve in all.
"When within six miles of our
final camp, Mr. Munson and Christopher Trimble (the latter a boy of eleven
years) were sent forward as an express to the settlements. They went on
to Burnt river, where they saw Jacob and Joseph Reith, who had taken a
wrong road, and were now getting back to the right one. The Reith boys
and Chaffee and Munson went on, and sent back Christopher Trimble to inform
us of their having
gone forward for relief. Chaffee and Munson gave out, and were afterwards rescued. After getting back, Trimble volunteered and went with the Indians to their camp, when we traded with them for salmon. While he was with us, I inquired of him how far it was to their camp. He said about three miles. I asked him how far it was after crossing the river before their trail was struck. He said but a short distance, and that the trail was
plain. He inquired why I asked him. I told him that if the soldiers came to our relief, we would want to go to him. The word 'soldier,' which the Indians seemed to understand, excited their curiosity; and they soon left our camp, and never returned. After waiting loudly for her brother, without getting any response or seeing him. The next day, Mrs. Chase and Mr. Myers went to the river to find the Indians and trade for more salmon. They could not find them. The next day, Mr. Myers went again, alone, and fired several shots across the river towards their camp, and hallooed loudly, but could not obtain any
CAPTAIN DENT SENT TO THE RESCUE OF THE SURIVIVORS 11
answer. He concluded they had gone. On returning to camp, he discovered a track where the wolves had dragged a body. Supposing it might be that of a deer, and that he could thus get food, he followed the track a short distance, and found two locks of human hair, which resembled Christopher Trimble's. He took them to camp; and Miss Trimble recognized them as her brother's. When the soldiers came, they were shown this track; ad, pursuing it, they found the body of Trimble. From the first attack until relief came was forty-four or forty-five days. The saved were not, as has been represented, entirely without clothes; but they were but scantily dressed. Mr. Myers' loss is over two thousand dollars. He is, of course, entirely destitute. Mrs. Chase and child and Miss Trimble are at Walla Walla."
Captain Frederick T. Dent, a brother-in-law of Ulysses
S. Grant, commanded the expedition that carried relief to and rescued the
survivors. His official report bears date November 8, 1860. He received
orders at Fort Dalles, October 4, 1860, to take command of the expedition,
to recover or rescue any survivors there might be of the massacre of emigrants
which took place on the 9th and 10th of September, 1860, in the vicinity
Salmon Falls, on Snake river. The command, consisting of sixty dragoons and forty infantry, with four company officers, march on the fifth. The report, which is of great interest proceeds:
"The infantry were mounted on mules; and our stores, ammunition and camp equipage were transported on pack-mules. Our march was slow, the command moving together until we reached Powder river, on the 17th of October. Not being satisfied with the speed we were making, I determined to scout the country forward with strong parties unencumbered, and accordingly ordered Lieutenant Reno, with forty men, First Dragoons, and two guides, with ten mules lightly packed, to scout thoroughly the Burnt river and its vicinity, the main command following him as fast as it could. On the evening of the nineteenth, Lieutenant Reno discovered, on a small branch of Burnt river, two emigrants almost naked, without fire, and starving. The names of these two, as given me by themselves, are Civilian G. Munson and Charles M. Chaffee.
"Lieutenant Reno clothed them
and supplied them with food; and, leaving a corporal and ten men with them,
he proceeded rapidly to the front. On arriving at the place on Burnt river
where the road leaves it, and having found no trace of the remainder of
the emigrants, Lieutenant Reno put in camp twenty-five of his party, and,
with five men and Mr. Craigie, the guide, proceeded riding day and night
to the Malheur. Having made no discoveries on the Malheur, Lieutenant Reno
returned towards Burnt river. At some points on the road he found tracks
of women and children, their trail passing over rocky ground; but rain
having fallen on it since, it was hard to follow until he came to where
the emigrant road between Malheur and Burnt river touches on Snake river. There the trail was fresh; and his hopes were aroused of speedily finding them. The daylight was nearly gone, but the search continued; and, when he had proceeded to within two miles of the camp he had left on Burnt river, he came upon, at a short distance from the road, and in the sagebrush, a scene of murder and mutilation only to be found where the warwhoop had signaled the scalping-knife's deadly work. Gleaming in the moonlight, dead, stripped and mutilated, lay the bodies of six persons. They were identified by Mr. Reith as Mr. Alexis Vanorman, his wife Abigail Vanorman, and son Marcus Vanorman, Charles Otter,
Henry Otter and Samuel Gleason. Mrs. Vanorman had been whipped, scalped and otherwise abused by her murderers. The boys, Charles and Henry Otter, were killed with arrows. Mr. Vanorman, Marcus Vanorman and Samuel Gleason had their throats cut,
12 HISTORY OF PACIFIC NORTHWEST - OREGON AND WASHINGTON.
and besides were pierced by numerous arrows. They appeared to have been dead from four to six days. The wolves had not yet molested them. Decomposition was going on, however; and Lieutenant Reno buried them.
"I arrived immediately afterwards
at Lieutenant Reno's camp, and found him absent on a scout with a guide
and ten men, he having found, in the vicinity of the place where the Vanormans
were killed, a trail of Indians with whom he supposed might be some of
the Vanorman family; this he supposed from finding a small barefoot track
among the moccasin tracks. He followed the trail to where it went into
the Salmon river
Mountains, first crossing the Snake river at their bases. Having no means of crossing the Snake river, which is here very rapid and deep, he returned to camp and reported to me. I deemed it best not to pursue the trail at that time, as I had learned from Mr. Munson during that day that on Snake river, some fifteen miles beyond Owyhee, he had parted with the Vanormans, Chase, Myers, and some of the Trimble and Otter families. A long time had elapsed since he left them; yet I had hopes of finding some of them alive, as the Vanormans, who had evidently parted from the others, had been so recently killed. I therefore determined to push forward with all haste.
"Lieutenant Anderson, Ninth Infantry,
with thirty-five men and light packs, moved forward with orders to make
a thorough search of the Malheur and Owyhee, the main command moving on
the same route. On the morning of the 25th of October, while en route
to the Owyhee from the Malheur, I received an express from Lieutenant Anderson
informing me that, the evening before, he had found on the Owyhee twelve
emigrants alive and five dead; that those still alive were keeping life
in them by eating those who had died. I will not attempt to describe the
scene of horror this camp presented, even when I reached it at twelve o'clock
that day. Those who were still alive were skeletons with
life in them. Their frantic cries for food rang in our ears incessantly. Food was given them every hour in small quantities; but for days the cry was still kept up by the children.
"Those found and relieved by Lieutenant Anderson were: Mr. Joseph Meyers, Mary E. Myers, his wife, and their five children, Isabella, Margaret, Eugene, Harriet and Carrie; Mrs. Elizabeth Chase and her daughter, Mary Chase; and Miss Emeline Trimble.
"The dead in the camp (consumed) were: Mr. Daniel Chase and his two sons, Daniel and Albert; Elizabeth Trimble; and an infant of Mrs. Otter, half sister of Miss Trimble.
"An hour or two before my arrival at Lieutenant Anderson's camp, he found the remains of Christopher Trimble, who had been murdered by the Indians. His body had been much disturbed by the wolves; but sufficient remained to identify it. These remains were found a short distance beyond the Owyhee. This boy, eleven years of age, deserves special mention. He had killed several Indians in the fight. He left the fugitives and went forward to the Malheur, where he obtained of Chaffee some horse flesh, which he took back to the women and children. He then became a prisoner voluntarily with the Indians, in order that he might obtain salmon to take to the camp, and did succeed in so doing and in going with the Indians there. Two weeks had elapsed since his last visit. It must have been at that time that he was killed. Lieutenant Anderson's party buried the remains found in this camp, and also the remains of young Trimble.
"The 26th of October we remained
in camp on the Owyhee, constructing litters and panniers for transporting
the women and children. In conversation with Mr. Meyers, I
OFFICIAL REPORT OF CAPTAIN DENT 13
learned that, when Vanorman left the Owyhee, his party
consisted of ten persons. Besides those mentioned above as killed, there
were four children, - Eliza, Minerva, Reuben and Lucinda Vanorman, the
eldest being fourteen years of age. We now felt assured that our conjecture
was correct, - that they were captives with the Indians whose trail Lieutenant
Reno followed to where they crossed Snake river. I determined
to follow that trail on my return to the vicinity of Burnt river, and recover them or learn their fate. We also learned that all who had left the wagons were with us on, or had passed, the Owyhee, and that all who remained at the train were dead before the fugitives left. To save the lives of those we had recovered now became our paramount duty. Officers and men gave them the larger portion of the clothing and blankets they had brought for their own use; yet I feared we should lose some of them from cold. The snow was all around us on the hills. I therefore determined to return to Burnt river; and, on Saturday the twenty-seventh, in a heavy storm of rain and sleet, we commenced our march. Four of the children were in narrow hampers, on pack mules, and two with their mothers in a mule litter. One of the women was carried in a hand litter; this I abandoned, and had her placed on a mule with a man on each side to hold her. It was a weary and painful march to them. On the twenty-seventh, we arrived on Burnt river; and, to my regret, I was forced to abandon all idea of a pursuit of the murderers of the Vanorman family, as the snow had fallen heavily in the mountains and obliterated their trail. This being the case, and the snow still falling on us and around us, I determined to push homeward and cross the Blue Mountains before the snow became too deep for marching over those mountains. At Grand Ronde river we met the ambulances sent out from Walla Walla by Major Steen, with an abundance of clothing, blankets,
provisions, etc., sent to the emigrants by the officers, ladies, laundresses and men of the post. Captain Kirkham greatly facilitated our arrival by sending forage to feed our wornout animals and wagons to relieve them of their burdens. We arrived at Fort Walla Walla at eleven a.m. on the 7th of November, 1860.
"To the officers and men of my command, the employés of the quartermaster's department, and our guides, my thanks are due for the zeal, skill, energy and humanity which they displayed. To their zeal, skill and energy I attribute our success; and to their humanity the fact that we have brought into this post, alive and safe, the wrecks of fellow-beings we found on the banks of the Owyhee and Burnt rivers.
"List of emigrants who were with
the train: Killed in the fight at the corral: Lewis Lawson, William Ottley,
Charles Kishnell, Judson Cressey, John W. Myers, Mr. Otter, Mrs. Otter,
Mary Otter, Emma Otter, Abbey Otter, Wesley Otter. Killed near Burnt river
by the Indians: Alexis Vanorman, Abigail Vanorman, Marcus Vanorman, Charles
Otter, Henry Otter, Samuel Gleason. Killed by the Indians on the Owyhee:
Christopher Trimble. Killed or captured near Burnt river: Eliza Vanorman,
Minerva Vanorman, Reuben Vanorman, Lucinda Vanorman. Died on the
Owyhee of starvation: Daniel Chase, senior, Daniel Chase, junior, Albert
Chase, Elizabeth Trimble, an infant (Otter's). Reported, by Snider, as
killed by Indians on Wallen's road: Shaumberg, Murdock. Came in,
and was relieved by the Indian department: Henry Snider. Came into the
Umatilla agency: Joseph Reith, Jacob Reith. Found by the command and brought
to Walla Walla: Civilian G. Munson, Charles M. Chaffee, Joseph Myers, Mary
E. Myers, Isabella Myers, Margaret Myers, Eugene Myers, Harriet Myers,
Carrie Myers, Emeline Trimble, Elizabeth
Chase, Mary Chase.
14 HISTORY OF PACIFIC NORTHWEST - OREGON AND WASHINGTON.
It will have been observed in
the previous volume that the settlers, both of Oregon and Washington, grounded
their hopes for future accession to the population for the ultimate growth
and development of the respective territories, upon the discovery of paying
or silver mines within them, or either of them, or in such close proximity thereto that they would feel the benefit of an influx of miners or prospectors, and the incident activity. Since the California gold discovery of 1848, there had been almost a continuous series of gold-mining excitements, each accompanied by a greater or less stampede to the newly advertised gold fields or diggings alleged to have been discovered. The greatest of those stampedes was the Fraser river excitement, which had not at his period subsided, and which was still giving an impetus to gold prospecting in Eastern Oregon and Washington. Extensive gold prospecting of intelligent, practical gold seekers, and miners who had
examined the whole country had abundantly demonstrated that, from Southern Oregon to the line of Alaska, gold existed in large areas, in numerous localities, and frequently in remunerative quantities.
About that time (the history
of which is about to occupy attention), the travel into the interior, and
by way of The Dalles and the Upper Columbia into the British Columbia gold
fields, as also to numerous points in Eastern and Southern Oregon, had
greatly increased the population and trade of Portland and The Dalles,
and had attached commercial importance to certain inland points as centers
of trade. The problem of transportation to, and trade-connection with,
such growing points, those developing mining camps, had already invited
attention. Indeed it had suggested the inauguration of that enterprise
which revolutionized the character of the whole region, and vastly extended
settlements. The origin, growth and mission of the Oregon Steam Navigation Company for years were practically the growth and development of Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington. Its presence enabled miners and immigrants to establish themselves in the upper country, which soon became the great inland empire. It afforded the means of communication which so speedily led to the establishment of the territories of Idaho and Montana. It made known the capacity and wealth of the country. It carried thither the miner and farmer to prospect and develop it; and in turn, as its legitimate reward, returned to its headquarters in Portland the wealth it has absorbed; and it made upon the northwest coast, in the State of Oregon, a metropolis second only to San Francisco.
Through its agency Portland became
the great center of travel and the point of distribution for the North
Pacific. It caused to be aggregated there its wealth, and at the same time,
from that favored spot as its base, hastened to open new fields to population
and to increase its trade. For a score of years it continued to be the
great missionary to dedicate new regions to settlement, and to transform
the wilderness into growing
communities. It reached out year after year, making new paths into the wilderness and bringing new and remote sections within the sphere of civilization. It was, from its earliest history until it went out of existence, an active contributor to the population of new territories. It necessitated the building of towns. It caused the aggregation of communities. While legitimately pursuing its business of making money, claiming no credit whatever for philanthropy, it widely contributed to the comforts of self-denying pioneers; and to them it early assured those advantages which are only attained by comfortable means of communication with the rest of the world. The Oregon Steam Navigation Company was made up exclusively of old settlers, - pioneers of Oregon and Washington.
THE OREGON STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY 15
"In April, 1859, the owners of
the steamboats Carrie Ladd, Senorita and Belle, which had
been plying between Portland and the Cascades, represented by Captain J.C.
Ainsworth, agent, the Mountain Buck, by Colonel J.S. Ruckel, its
agent, the Bradford horse railroad between the Middle and Upper Cascades,
by its owners, Bradford & Co., who also had a small steamboat plying
between the Cascades and The Dalles, entered into a mutual arrangement
to form a transportation line between The Dalles and Portland, under the
name and style of the Union Transportation Company. There were some other
boats running on that route, the Independence and Wasco,
in the control of Alexander
Ankeny and George W. Vaughn; also the Flint and Fashion, owned by Captain J.W. Van Bergen. As soon as practicable, these interests were harmonized or purchased. At this time freights were not large between Portland and the Upper Columbia; and the charges were high. There was no uniform rule; the practice was to charge according to the exigency of the case. Freights had been carried in sail boats from Portland to the
Cascades at $20 per ton.
"On the 19th day of December, 1860, there being no law under which a corporation could be established in Oregon, the proprietors of the Union Transportation Line procured from the Washington Territory legislature an act incorporating J.C. Ainsworth, D.F. Bradford, J.S. Ruckel, R.R. Thompson, and their associates under the name and style of the Oregon Steam Navigation Company. R.R. Thompson and Lawrence Coe, who then first became interested with the other parties, had built a small steamboat called the Colonel Wright, above The Dalles, which went into the line and made up their shares of the capital stock. This was the second boat they had built at that point. The first, when partially completed, was carried over the falls and down the river at high water. There the hull was sold, fitted up and taken to Fraser river on the breaking out of the gold-mining excitement in British Columbia, and, much to the credit of its builders, made the highest point ever reached by a steamboat on that river.
"Of the Oregon Steam Navigation
Company, or S.N. Co., as it has been more generally called and known since
organized under the act, J.C. Ainsworth was the first president, and with
the exception of a single year, when J.S. Ruckel held the position, has
been its president ever since. Its principal office was located at Vancouver;
and its property formed no inconsiderable addition to the taxable property
Territory. By unfriendly legislation, the company was driven from that territory; and in October, 1862, it incorporated under the general act of Oregon, where it has ever since existed an Oregon corporation in fact, as it has always been in ownership and name. Its railroads, steamboats, warehouses, wharf-boats and wharves have all been built and established by the company without public aid, except the patronage by the
public after they were completed.
"All its founders started poor. They have accomplished nothing that has not been equally within the powers of others, by the exercise of equal foresight, labor and perseverance. They had no exclusive rights" (1).
During 1861, the United States troops on duty in Oregon and Washington had been gradually withdrawn to serve in the Civil War. That necessarily suspended operations against the hostile Indians of the interior, prevented the assignment of troops for the protection of immigrant routes, deterred, for the time, the chastisement of the murderous Snakes or Shoshones, and delayed the establishment of a military post in the hostile
of the late Judge William Strong, deceased, before the Oregon Pioneers'
reunion, 1878. Judge Strong was for many years the counsel of the Oregon
Steam Navigation Company.
16 HISTORY OF PACIFIC NORTHWEST - OREGON AND WASHINGTON.
country. Lieutenant-Colonel Albemarle Cady of the Fourth
Infantry had succeeded to the command of the Oregon military district,
with headquarters at Fort Vancouver. Colonel Wright, who had for some time
been commander of the Department of California, was transferred to the
Department of Oregon (1). But, on September 28th, Colonel Wright was appointed
brigadier-general, U.S. Army, and assigned to the command of the Department
of the Pacific. Garrisons for the posts in Oregon and Washington, which
had been depleted by the departure to the East of the regulars, were to
be supplied with California volunteers. In October, three hundred and fifty
California volunteers arrived at Fort Vancouver; and they were respectively
stationed at Forts Steilacoom and Yamhill. In November came five additional
companies, Major Curtis
commanding. Of those, two companies were sent to Fort Colville, two to Fort Walla Walla, and one to Fort Dalles.
As the State of Oregon had failed to raise any volunteer companies, in response to the proclamation of the governor of Oregon, the Secretary of War had appointed Thomas R. Cornelius colonel of the First Regiment of Oregon Cavalry, with authority to raise ten companies of cavalry for three years' service. R.F. Maury was appointed lieutenant-colonel, Benjamin F. Harding, quartermaster, Charles S. Drew and J.S. Rinearson, majors. Camps were established in the counties of Clackamas, Jackson and Marion. Company A was raised in Jackson county; and Thomas S. Harris was made its captain; Company B, Captain Edward J. Harding, Marion county; Company C, Captain William Kelly, Vancouver, Clark county, Washington Territory; Company D, Captain Sewall Truax, Jackson county; Company E, Captain George B. Currey, Wasco county; Company F, Captain William J. Matthews, from the Southern Oregon counties, but principally Josephine. Those six companies, having been fully organized, assembled at Fort Vancouver in the latter part of May, 1862, and were furnished with clothing and arms, and proceeded to Fort Dalles. Under that call, at a later date, companies were raised by Captains David P. Thompson and Remick Cowles, the former in Clackamas county, the latter in Umpqua.
On the 3d of June, Colonel Cornelius
assumed command at Fort Walla Walla, with Companies B and E. Shortly subsequent,
his command was increased by the arrival of Companies A,D, and F. The Oregon
Cavalry for several months remained in garrison, inactive. Colonel Cornelius
resigned, July 28th, and was succeeded in command at Fort Walla Walla by
Colonel Justus Steinberger of the Washington Territory infantry.
That officer, a native of Pennsylvania, but who had long been a resident of Portland (where he had been in charge of the express business of Adams & Co., and afterwards of Wells, Fargo & Co.), had been appointed by Simon Cameron, Secretary of War, colonel of the Washington Territory regiment of infantry, with authority to raise such regiment. In California, he had raised four full companies, with whom he arrived May
4th at Fort Vancouver. He relieved Lieutenant-Colonel Cady of the command of the district. Early in July, Major Benjamin Alvord, Fourth Infantry, Brigadier-General U.S. volunteers, arrived at Fort Vancouver and assumed command of the Department of Oregon. Colonel Steinberger then proceeded to Fort Walla Walla, and succeeded Colonel Cornelius as above stated.
The overland immigration of 1862 numbered at least twenty-six thousand, of whom eight thousand stopped in Utah, eight thousand turned off for California, and ten
time the Department of Oregon and California had been merged into the Division
or Department of the Pacific. As such the Pacific Division had been commanded
by General E.V. Summer, U.S. Army, Colonel Wright, in the meantime, continuing
in command of the Department of California.
FORT BOISE ESTABISHED AND GARRISONED 17
thousand continued on towards Oregon (1). A large proportion
stopped in the Idaho mining sections, others at Grand Ronde, Powder river
and John Day river, whilst Walla Walla valley also received a large accession.
Those immigrants were protected in their travel by a volunteer company
under the command of Captain Medorem Crawford, which had been raised in
the Eastern states, the expenses of which were met by congressional appropriation.
In the fall, General Alvord fitted out an expedition consisting of Companies
A,B and D, First Oregon Cavalry, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Maury,
to march on the line of the immigrant road for the purpose of protecting
the immigration of 1862.
Colonel Maury was also instructed to chastise any of the participants in the Salmon Falls Massacre of 1860 that he should find or meet with. That regiment, or part of it, subsequently was continuously engaged during the whole term of its enlistment in scouting, fighting and hunting hostile bands, affording protection to small settlements, beating off predatory Indians, guarding roads, and escorting trains of traveling miners or immigrants.
In the early part of May, 1863, a requisition was made upon the governor of Oregon for six companies of volunteers to recruit the First Regiment. Governor Gibbs issued a proclamation; but one company alone was raised in response to the call. The War Department at last had authorized the erection of military posts, - one on Boise river, the other near the southern emigrant road, between Klamath and Goose Lakes. An expedition had been projected against the Bannacks or Shoshones. Company C, First Cavalry, Captain William Kelly, was sent to build and garrison Fort Klamath. The other five companies were all required to keep order in the Walla Walla and Nez Perce country.
On the 10th of June, 1863, Major
Lugenbeel, U.S. Army, left Fort Walla Walla to locate and establish the
post on the Boise. On the fifteenth, Lieutenant-Colonel Maury, With Companies
A, D and E, and with a pack-train of one hundred and fifty mules, set out
from Lapwai, via the trail to the Salmon river mines, for Boise,
to join Major Lugenbeel. That officer had, on the 1st of July, located
the new Fort Boise on the river
of that name forty miles above the old Hudson's Bay Company's trading establishment. Lieutenant-Colonel Maury's command joined him on the 2d of July. The main command had, on its way out, at Salmon Falls creek, detached expeditions of twenty men each, under Captain Currey and Lieutenant Waymire, to reconnoiter the country, and marched on to Bruneau river, where they were rejoined by Captain Currey and Lieutenant Waymire. Lieutenant Waymire had gone up the Bruneau river; and Captain Currey had traveled across an unexplored region four hundred miles from Snake river to the Goose creek Mountains. He thus speaks of his company: "With two exceptions, near the summit of the Goose creek Mountains, we were in fissures in the earth so deep that neither the pole-star nor the seven pointers could be seen."
In the spring of 1864, Lieutenant-Colonel Maury had been promoted to the colonelcy. C.S. Drew succeeded him as lieutenant-colonel. Captain Truax had become major. Captain Harris of Company A had resigned, and Rhinehart was his successor. Major Rinearson was left at Fort Boise to complete the buildings and take command. Richard
(1) At the
commencement of hostile acts by the Shoshones or Bannacks or Snakes, the
field embraced the eastern part of the State of Oregon, and that portion
of the former Oregon Territory which had been added to Washington Territory
by the act admitting Oregon into the Union. It extended eastward to the
Rocky Mountains, and was south of the forty-sixth parallel. The opening
of the Walla Walla valley to settlement, the rapid development which immediately
followed the discovery of the Oro Fino gold mines, and the great influx
of population to
the Oro Fino, Boise, Salmon river, Powder river and Owyhee mines, had induced Congress, March 2, 1863, to set off the territory of Idaho, which absorbed that region. It would be alike impossible as unnecessary to attempt to segregate the histories of the military campaigns which followed, both in Eastern Oregon and Idaho, - to assign a part as Idaho, a part as Oregon. Oregon volunteers were present in Idaho Territory to chastise Indian murderers. The campaigns are quite as much the history of Oregon as that of Idaho. Perhaps the writer, in justice to himself, should add that he has omitted the campaigns of the gallant General Crook in the Klamath country. That was outside of the geographic limits of the writer in this work; and he fears that, were he to have entered that field, he might unintentionally have repeated the record being compiled by Colonel Mosher.
18 HISTORY OF PACIFIC NORTHWEST - OREGON AND WASHINGTON.
Caldwell, Drake and Small had become captains. Lieutenant
Waymire (promoted from the ranks), with twenty-six men, started on an expedition
for the immigrant road. On the seventeenth, he established a camp on the
south fork of the John Day river, and called it Camp Lincoln. From this
camp he pursued a band of Indian horse-thieves to Harney Lake, where he
overtook Charles H. (alias Joaquin) Miller, leading a party of miners.
The parties joined, and continued the pursuit for three days, overtaking a band of two hundred Indians, with whom they had a fight. They killed several, but gained no material advantage.
In June, District Commander Alvord
made a requisition upon Governor Gibbs for forty mounted volunteers to
serve for four months, or until the return of the Oregon Cavalry to the
posts, and to act as a detachment of the First Oregon Cavalry while in
service. The designed service was to patrol and guard the Cañon
City road. Nathan Olney, with the rank of second lieutenant, recruited
and commanded the detachment.
They left Fort Dalles July 19th, with orders to guard the road between The Dalles and the settlements on the south fork of the John Day river, from which point it was guarded by Captain Caldwell's company.
An expedition consisting of Companies
D and G and a detachment of Company B, Captain Drake commanding, left Fort
Dalles April 20th for Crooked river. On their arrival at the Warm Spring
Indian reservation, they were reinforced by Captain Small's company (Vancouver)
and twenty-five Warm Spring Indian scouts, Donald McKay commanding. Captain
Drake's command arrived, May 17th at the old camp of Major
Steen, U.S. army, near Crooked river, and there established a depot, which they named Camp Maury. On the same day, fourteen miles east, the Indian scouts discovered a camp of hostiles with a large band of horses. Accompanied by fifteen of the scouts, Lieutenants McCall and Watson, with thirty-five men, set out at ten o'clock that night to surround and surprise the Snakes. At daylight, the Indians were found to be strongly intrenched behind rocks. Lieutenant McCall directed Lieutenant Watson to advance upon the front, while he and Lieutenant McKay were to assail on both flanks. Lieutenant Watson moved promptly. Lieutenant McCall was diverted from the attack by the capture of a band of
horses. Hearing the firing in Lieutenant Watson's assault, he hastened forward; but being in range of the Indians' fire, the necessary detour added to the delay. The Indians had concentrate their whole fire upon Lieutenant Watson's advance. While cheering on his men, that officer was shot. Two men beside him were also killed, and five others wounded. The Indians then fled. On the 7th of June, the companies which had
concentrated at Camp Maury marched for Harney Lake valley, where it was designed to establish a depot. But the lake water being brackish, and the grass poor, the scheme was abandoned. It was in this vicinity that Captain Drake anticipated a junction with Captain
Currey's expedition, which had left Fort Walla Walla April 28th for the Owyhee, by way of the Fort Boise road.
That expedition, consisting of
Companies A and E, ten Cayuse scouts under Um-howlitz, in command of Captain
George B. Currey, Colonel Maury accompanying, on reaching old Fort Boise
had been reinforced by twenty-five men of Captain Barry's company of the
Washington Territory infantry. A temporary depot had been established on
the Owyhee, eight miles above the old trading post, and placed in charge
of Captain Barry. Captain Currey, with his cavalry, moved up the river
about one hundred miles to Martin creek, thence west eight miles, where
he established camp, on what he named Gibbs creek. He built a stone bridge
and fortifications, to which he gave the name
MILITARY OPERATIONS IN THE SNAKE COUNTRY. 19
of Camp Henderson, in honor of Oregon's representative
in Congress at that date. Captain Rhinehart then brought up the supplies
from Captain Barry's temporary depot. Captain Currey in the meantime thoroughly
explored the country to the southwest. At the base of the Steen Mountains
a valley was discovered, which he nominated Alvord valley. Captain Curry
became satisfied that he was in the heart of the Snake or hostile region;
and he resolved that this was the proper place to which to remove the main
command, and selected the site for a permanent camp. He then fortified
a little post, which he called Camp Alvord, stationed there Captain Barry's
company of infantry, the disabled cavalry horses and their dismounted riders,
and upon the 22d of June, with his main body, set out to join Captain Drake.
This he accomplished July 1st, on Rattlesnake creek in Harney Lake valley.
Captains Currey and Drake acted in conjunction. Having been reinforced
by forty Warm Springs Indian scouts commanded by Lieutenant Noble, the
entire region was thoroughly scouted in search of hostile Indians. While
under Lieutenant-Colonel Drew was patrolling and guarding the southern immigrant route, the joint expeditions of Captains Currey and Drake kept small parties constantly moving along the base of the Blue Mountains, on the headwaters of the John Day and across to Crooked river to within communicating distance with Colonel Drew. Despite that vigilance, Indian depredations on mining camps, immigrant parties and remote weak settlements continued. From Antelope valley, a settlement but sixty-five miles east of The Dalles, all the stock had been driven off. The troops were ever on the alert, and yet the hostiles elude them; and but a few of their number were captured and killed.
On the 1st of August the commands
separated; and Captain Currey set out for Camp Alvord. An express from
Fort Boise, which met him upon his march, communicated the information
of the murder of a farmer at Jordan creek, a tributary of the Owyhee, and
the driving off of the stock of the murdered victim; that twenty-one Owyhee
miners had organized and pursued the murderers in a southwesterly direction
for eighty miles to a deep cañon where they had overtaken
a large camp, attacked it, and had been repulsed with a loss of one killed
and two wounded; that a second company of one hundred and sixty was being
organized; and that Colonel Maury, with twenty-five troops from Fort Boise,
had taken the field. Captain Currey, however, continued his march to Camp
Alvord, where he arrived on the twelfth, his horses, which had had no rest
since June 22d, were sick and disabled with dysentery. From his own observations,
confirmed by the reports brought in by the scouts, Captain Currey had reached
the conclusion that the hostiles had crossed into Nevada. On the
2d of September, he moved southward, following
their trail. Having passed through, and some forty miles beyond, the Puebla mining district, he captured five Indians, and was about to hang them for their participancy in the murder upon Jordan creek. The Puebla miners, who claimed that the captives were Pah-utes,
interceded for them; and Captain Currey let them off. That ill-timed interference with Captain Currey's administration of justice to those murderers was shortly afterwards repaid in the Indian fashion. Those who had saved the murderers from the gibbet were shortly afterwards barbarously murdered by those whom they had rescued (1).
Captain Currey, having advanced as far as Mud Lake, returned to Camp Alvord, which he reached on the 16th of September. Ten days later he struck camp; and, having sent the baggage wagons and infantry to Fort Boise, he with his cavalry marched towards Fort Walla Walla. Captain Currey had marched down the Malheur river to the immigrant
(1)See Captain Currey's official
narrative in report, 1866, of adjutant-general of Oregon, page 46.
20 HISTORY OF PACIFIC NORTHWEST - OREGON AND WASHINGTON.
road; continuing along that road, on the 14th of October
he was met by an express from General Alvord, Department Commander, directing
him, with his Company E., to report at Fort Dalles before the day of the
Presidential election, to defeat any possibility of outbreak, as to which
fears had been expressed. Captain Currey's command had reached Fort Walla
Walla upon the 26th of October. Company A went into garrison at that post.
The detachment of F Company went to Fort Lapwai; and E Company (the Wasco
Company), Captain George B. Currey, proceeded to The Dalles, where they
were present on the day of the Presidential election, A.D. 1864, and good
order reigned. Captain Drake's command, who had made Camp Dahlgreen, near
the head of Crooked river, their base of operations, continued in the field
till late in the fall. Detached parties under
Lieutenants Noble, Waymire and other officers scouted and reconnoitered the country between the Cascade and Blue Mountain ranges.
The terms of enlistment of the first six companies of the First Oregon Cavalry had expired with the close of the campaigns of 1864. Those volunteers had patriotically and patiently performed perilous public service, widely variant from that for which they had enlisted. Many had expected that they would have the opportunity "to go to the front" to do battle in the grand struggle for national life and endurance. That hope had not been realized; yet they have the assurance that their presence in Oregon upheld the stability of the Union, guaranteed the peace of that portion of the national domain, and repressed any possibility of successful effort, by those who sympathized with the Confederate cause, to alienate the state from its loyalty. Besides, those troops, improvised to relieve the government while it performed its superhuman duty at the front, obviated the necessity of any diversion to prosecute operations against hostile Indians, and enabled it to perform its duties of protecting the routes of immigration and the remote and defenseless settlements. The volunteers of Oregon and Washington (1861-64) contributed vastly to both those territories and humanity. The "Inland Empire" was filled up and developed greatly through their presence in the hostile country, and in their efforts to punish and subdue the hostiles of the Snake, Bannack or Shoshone nation.
In 1864, the Oregon state legislature passed two laws to encourage the enlistment of volunteers. One was an act to secure to volunteers who should hereafter enlist for three years or during the war, as part of the state's quota under the acts of Congress, $150 in addition to other bounties and pay, payable in three installments at the beginning and end of the first year, at the end of the term of service, and, if he died, then to his heirs. A tax of one mill was levied to raise the bounty fund. The other made an appropriation of $100,000 to raise a fund to pay five dollars per month additional compensation to those already in the service (1). General Alvord, commanding the district of Oregon, made a requisition on Governor Gibbs for a regiment of infantry, in addition to the volunteers then in the service of the United States, "to aid in the enforcement of the laws, to suppress insurrection and invasion, and to chastise hostile Indians within the military district of Oregon." Governor Gibbs issued a proclamation calling for ten companies, to be known as the First Infantry, Oregon Volunteers. Recruiting officers were appointed in the several counties, and commissioned as first lieutenants, with the express understanding that the officer who raised a company within the prescribed time was to be appointed captain. Six companies were made up and reported to the governor within the time designated in the proclamation, the Polk county company being the first. Two more companies were ready April 1, 1865.
(1) Oregon Laws, 1866, pages 90 and 110.