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Reminiscences of a Pioneer by Colonel William Thompson

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crowd the river bank, leaving a space of not more than thirty feet
between the almost precipitous bluff and the roaring, foaming river.
From an overhanging rock a spring of ice-cold water, rivaling the
Hypocrene in purity, bursts forth and plunges into the river. The space
had grown up with young maples, and the underbrush being cleaned out,
formed an ideal camping place for hunters and berry pickers. I was
congratulating myself on not meeting a solitary individual when I
reached "Rock House" and found it blocked with wagons and tents. I cast
one look at the foaming river and another at the bluff. I had passed
through some scenes of danger, but never before had I been half so
frightened. It was too late to retreat, the bluff could not be scaled
and the river was out of the question. Nerving myself, I determined to
go ahead, come what might. In front of one of the wagons stood a lady
with whom I was well acquainted. I asked her how I could get through.
She replied without recognizing me that I would have to go through camp.
As I passed around the wagon I came face to face with Judge Lemley's
wife. Her home had been my home for years and next to my mother and
sisters I reverenced her above all women of earth. She looked at me. I
bowed and she nodded her head and I passed on. No sooner had I passed
out of sight than Mrs. McDaniels, the first lady I met, ran to Mrs.
Lemley and said: "Did you see that man?" "O," replied Mrs. Lemley, "it
was only some old lousy hunter." I had made my escape and no one had
recognized me. I was jubilant, happy. But horror of horrors! At a turn
of the road I came full on a whole bevy, flock, troop or herd of young
girls, and at their head was my "best girl." I here submit and affirm,
that had I foreseen this, rivers, mountains, grizzly bears, Indians, all
the dangers of the wild would have had no terrors for me at that moment.
My dogs closed round me and the girls at sight of that "old man of the
woods," that awful apparition, ceased their laughter. With sobered faces
they shied around me as I strode past, and when fairly safe broke into a
run for camp. I heard them running, and in imagination could see their
scared faces. But I was safe--no one had recognized me and I was again

Arriving at Mr. Allen's, I related to him the story of my misfortunes.
He trimmed my hair, gave me a shave and after changing my "clothes," I
once more assumed the semblance, as Mrs. Allen expressed it, "of a
Christian man."

That evening I saddled a horse and rode back to the camp. I began then
to see the full humor of the whole affair, but it required an hour to
convince them that I was really the strange apparition that passed
through camp that morning.

Chapter VII.

Colonel Thompson's First Newspaper Venture.

I remained at the home of Mr. Allen a few days, making frequent visits,
you may be sure, to the camp of my friends. I then returned to our camp
at the hot springs. My brother had become quite strong and my other
brother then decided to return to the valley. Left alone, we indulged in
long rambles in the mountains. Taking a pair of blankets each, and
baking up a lot of bread, we would strike out. We never knew where we
were going, but wandered wherever fancy led. These tramps often lasted a
week or ten days. If our bread gave out we simply went without bread
until our return to camp. During one of these trips we ascended one of
the Three Sisters, snow mountains standing together and reaching to the
realms of the clouds. Like mighty sentinels, white as the driven snow,
they constitute one of the grandest sights to be seen on this or any
other continent. To the north of these mountains and in a valley formed
by the angle of the three mountains, we explored the largest glacier to
be found in the United States. In this manner the months wore away until
the approach of the fall storms admonished us that our wandering life
must come to a close, but we had found that which we sought, perfect
health. When we went to the mountains in the spring my brother weighed
84 pounds, and when we reached Eugene City on our return he weighed 165,
nearly doubling his weight. I had also gained heavily, in fact, nearly
50 pounds. I mention this that others seeking that most precious of all
blessings, perfect health, may know how and where to find it--by simply
going back to nature.

Soon after my return to civilization I embarked in my first newspaper
venture. I was employed in the office as compositor and foreman and at
the expiration of the first month had to take the "plant, fixtures and
good will," for my pay. In fact, I was given the office on a promise to
run the paper and keep it alive. I so far succeeded that after a year
and a half I sold out, clearing $1200. The paper, the Eugene City Guard,
is still in existence.

From there I went to Roseburg and started the Plaindealer. In this I had
the moral support and hearty good will of General Joseph Lane, as well
as other citizens of the county. My success was phenomenal, my
subscription list running up to 1200 in two years. But as in all else in
this world, success was not attained without gaining the enmity and
bitter hatred of my would-be rivals in business. Theirs was an old
established paper, conducted by two brothers, Henry and Thomas Gale.
They soon saw their business slipping away and sought to regain it by
indulging in abuse of the coarsest character. I paid no further
attention to their attacks than to occasionally poke fun at them. One
Saturday evening I met one of the brothers in the post office. He began
an abusive harangue and attempted to draw a pistol. I quickly caught his
hand and struck him in the face. Bystanders separated us and he left. I
was repeatedly warned that evening to be on my guard, but gave the
matter little concern. The next morning, Sunday, June 11, 1871, I went
to my office as was my custom, to write my letters and attend to some
other matters before going to church. On leaving the office I was joined
by a young friend, Mr. Virgil Conn. As we proceeded down the street
towards the post office I saw the brothers standing talking on the
street. One looked up and saw me, evidently spoke to his brother, and
they then started toward me. I saw at once that it was to be a fight and
that I must defend myself. Some said I could have avoided a meeting by
turning in a different direction. Probably I could, at least for a time,
but I had started to the post office and there I intended to go. As we
approached the young men, one of them dropped behind, and as I passed
the first one he dealt me a blow with a heavy cane. At the same instant
the other drew a pistol and fired, the bullet taking effect in my side
and passing partly through. Stunned by the blow on my cheek, I reeled
and drawing my pistol fired point blank at the breast of the one who had
shot me. I was then between the men, and turning on the one with the
cane, he threw up his hands, as if to say "I am unarmed." As I again
turned he quickly drew his revolver and shot me in the back of the head,
and followed it up with another shot which was aimed at the butt of my
ear. I felt the muzzle of the revolver pressed against my ear, and
throwing up my head the bullet entered my neck and passed up through my
mouth and tongue and lodged back of my left eye. As I rushed at him he
fired again, the bullet entering the point of my shoulder while another
entered my body. That was his last shot.

I was taken to my home in a blanket and few thought that I would live to
reach it. I was not, however, done for yet, and the next Thursday was
out riding with one of my physicians. The affair created the wildest
excitement, a noted surgeon, Dr. Sharples, coming from Eugene City to
attend me. Throughout the Eastern States there was various comment by
various publications, referring to the affair as "The Oregon Style." I
refer to the matter here because of the many distorted and unfair
stories that have appeared from time to time. It is in no spirit of
braggadocio, but simply to give the facts. That I deplored the affair,
and deeply, too, I freely confess, but only for the necessity which
compelled me to defend my life.

On the following February 1 received an offer to take charge of the
Salem Mercury. Leaders of the party, among them three ex-Senators, the
Governor of the State and many others prominent in the affairs of
Oregon, purchased the paper and plant and tendered me a bill of sale for
the same. Ex-Senator Nesmith, ex-Senator Harding, Governor Grover,
ex-Governor Whitaker, General Joseph Lane and many others urged me to
the step. They argued that I could unite all the factions of the party
in support of a party paper at the capital of the State. To a young man
scarcely twenty-three this was a tempting and flattering offer. I sold
my paper, therefore, at Roseburg and with $4000 in money and good paper,
and a bill of sale of an office costing $2500, started to Salem. My
success there as a newspaper man was all that could be desired. A large
circulation was rapidly built up, and a daily as well as weekly started.

In November of the same year occurred the first outbreak of the Modoc
Indians and a score of settlers and a few soldiers had been killed.
Governor Grover had ordered out two companies of volunteers under
General John E. Ross, a veteran of the Rogue River war, to assist the
regular army in quelling the insurrection. The outbreak, only for the
butchery of the citizens along the Lost river and Tule lake, was not
regarded as at all serious, as a few weeks would suffice to crush or
destroy the savages. But as weeks rolled on and still no surrender, nor
even a fight, the Governor became uneasy, since he could not understand
the delay. Finally, early in January, Judge Prim arrived from Jackson
county and had a conference with the Governor. It was scarcely 9 o'clock
in the morning when Mr. Gilfrey, private secretary to the Governor, came
to my office with a message that Governor Grover wished to see me at his
office at once. When I arrived there I found the Governor, Judge Prim
and General John F. Miller in consultation. The Governor explained to me
that there were stories of needless waste of time, that the Indians had
not been attacked, though there were 450 men within a few miles of their
camp, that hints of graft were afloat. Would I go in company with
General Miller and when could I start? I replied that I would go and by
the eleven o'clock train if General Miller was ready.

Perhaps here is a proper place for a short history of the Modoc Indians;
their long series of murders and massacres--a series of appalling
crimes that have given to their country the name of "the dark and bloody
ground of the Pacific." Of all the aboriginal races of the continent the
Modocs stand pre-eminent as the most fierce, remorseless, cunning and
treacherous. From the day the white man first set foot upon his soil the
Modoc has been a merciless foe with whom there could be no peace. The
travelers through his country were forced to battle for their lives from
the day his country was entered until the boundary was passed. Trains of
immigrants, consisting of men, women and children, worn and weary with
the trials and hardships of the plains, were trapped and butchered. The
number of these victims mount up into the hundreds and constitute one of
the saddest chapters in the annals of American pioneers.

Chapter VIII.

History of the Modoc Indians.

Voltaire describes his countrymen as "half devil and half monkey," and
this description applies with equal force to the Modoc tribe of Indians.
In general appearance they are far below the tribes of the northern
country. They did not possess the steady courage of the Nez Perces, nor
the wild dash of the Sioux, but in cunning, and savage ferocity they
were not excelled even by the Apaches. In war they relied mainly on
cunning and treachery, and the character of their country was eminently
suited for the display of these tactics.

Our first knowledge of the Modocs was when they stole upon the camp of
Fremont in 1845 at a spring not far from the present site of the now
prosperous and thriving village of Dorris. It was here that Fremont
suffered the loss of some of his men, including two Delaware Indians, in
a daylight attack, and it was here that he was overtaken by a courier
and turned back to assist in the conquest of California. From that day
to the day when Ben Wright, with a handful of Yreka miners, broke their
war power in the so-called "Ben Wright massacre" the Modocs were ever
the cruel, relentless foe of the white man, murdering and pillaging
without other pretext and without mercy. It has been estimated, by those
best capable of giving an opinion, that from first to last not less than
three hundred men, women and children had been relentlessly murdered by
their hands, up to the beginning of the last war.

The shores of their beautiful lakes and tributary streams are scattered
over with the graves and bleaching bones of their victims. Even among
neighboring tribes they were known and dreaded for their cunning
duplicity and savage ferocity. They are yet known among the Klamaths,
Pits, and Piutes as a foe to be dreaded in the days of their power, and
these people often speak of them in fear, not because they were brave in
open field, but because of their skulking and sudden attacks upon
unsuspecting foes.

During the early 50's many immigrants, bound for Southern Oregon and
Northern California, passed through their country, traveling the road
that passed round the north end of Rett, or Tule Lake, and crossed Lost
river at the then mouth of that stream on a natural bridge of lava. A
short distance from where the road comes down from the hills to the lake
is the ever-memorable "Bloody point." This place has been appropriately
named and was the scene of some of the most sickening tragedies that
blacken the annals of this or any other country. At this point the rim
rock comes down to the edge of the waters of the lake, and receding in
the form of a half wheel, again approaches the water at a distance of
several hundred yards, forming a complete corral. Secreted among the
rocks, the Indians awaited until the hapless immigrants were well within
the corral, and then poured a shower of arrows and bullets among them.
The victims, all unconscious of danger, taken by surprise, and
surrounded on all sides, with but the meager shelter of their wagons,
were at the mercy of their savage foes.

In 1850, an immigrant train was caught in this trap, and of the eighty
odd men, women and children, but one escaped to tell the awful tale. On
the arrival of the news at Jacksonville, Colonel John E. Ross raised a
company of volunteers among the miners and hastened to the scene of
butchery. Arriving at Bloody Point, the scene was such as to make even
that stern old veteran turn sick. The men had died fighting, and their
naked bodies lay where they fell. Those of the women not killed during
the fight were reserved for a fate ten thousand times worse. The
mutilated remains scattered about the ground were fearfully swollen and
distorted and partly devoured by wolves and vultures, little children,
innocent and tender babes, torn from their mothers' arms, had been taken
by the heels and their brains dashed out against the wagon wheels,
killed like so many blind puppies. One young woman had escaped out of
the corral but had been pursued and butchered in a most inhuman manner.
Her throat was cut from ear to ear, her breasts cut off, and otherwise
mutilated. Her body was found a mile and a half from the wrecked and
half-burned train, and was discovered by her tracks and those of her

Again in 1851 Captain John F. Miller raised a company of volunteers at
Jacksonville and went out to meet and escort the immigrant trains
through the country of the Modocs. Arriving at Bloody point at daylight
one morning and finding a train surrounded, he at once vigorously
attacked the savages and drove them away, with the loss of several of
their warriors. His timely arrival prevented a repetition of the
previous year's horror. The savages were followed into the lava beds,
but here he was compelled to give up the pursuit, as further advance
into this wilderness was to court disaster. The train had been
surrounded several days and a number of its members killed and wounded.
An escort was sent with the train beyond Lost river and then returned to
guard the pass until all the immigrants should have passed through.

During Captain Miller's stay here his scouts discovered smoke coming out
of the tules several miles north and west of the peninsula. Tule Lake at
that time was a mere tule swamp and not the magnificent body of water we
see today. Taking a number of canoes captured from the Indians to lead
the way, and mounting his men on their horses, the spot was surrounded
at daylight and a large number of women and children captured.
Notwithstanding many were dressed in bloody garments, they were all well
treated. They were held prisoners until the company was ready to leave,
when they were turned loose.

Another company of immigrants was murdered on Crooked creek not far from
the ranch of Van Bremer Bros. on the west and south side of lower
Klamath lake. Who they were, where they came from, how many in the
train, will ever remain an impenetrable mystery. Waiting friends "back
in the States" have probably waited long for some tidings of them, but
tidings, alas, that never came. We only know that the ill-fated train
was destroyed, the members murdered and their wagons burned. Scarface
Charley told John Fairchilds that when he was a little boy the Indians
killed a great many white people at this point. The charred remains of
the wagons and moldering bones of the owners were yet visible when I
visited the spot during the Modoc war. Charley said that two white girls
were held captives and that one morning while encamped at Hot creek the
Indians got into a dispute over the ownership of one of them and to end
matters the chief caught her by the hair and cut her throat. Her body,
Charley said, was thrown into the rim rock above the Dorris house.
Hearing the story in February, 1873, while we were encamped at Van
Bremer's ranch, Colonel C. B. Bellinger and I made a search for the body
of the ill-fated girl. We found the skull and some bones but nothing
more. Enough, however, to verify the story told by Charley. What became
of the other Charley did not know, but her fate can better be imagined
than described.

Chapter IX.

The Ben Wright Massacre.

This so-called massacre has been the source of endless controversy, and
during the progress of the Modoc war afforded Eastern sentimentalists
grounds for shedding crocodile tears in profusion. They found in this
story ample grounds for justification of the foul butchery of General
Canby and the Peace Commission. According to their view, these "poor
persecuted people" were merely paying the white man back in his own
coin, and a lot more such rot.

According to this story, Ben Wright had proposed a treaty and while the
Indians were feasting, all unconscious of intended harm, were set upon
and ninety of their warriors murdered in cold blood. Captain Jack's
father, they said, was among the victims, and it was to avenge this
wrong that Canby and the Peace Commission were murdered under a flag of
truce. The story was without other foundation than the bloody battle
fought by Ben Wright and his Yreka volunteers with the Modoc tribe
during the fall of 1852. I will here give the true story as detailed to
me by Frank Riddle, one of Ben Wright's men, and which I believe is
absolutely true.

In the fall of 1852 Ben Wright raised a company of thirty-six men around
Yreka and went out to guard the immigrants through the country of the
Modocs. The company arrived in time and safely escorted all trains past
the danger point. The lesson taught the year before by Captain Miller
had instilled into the savage heart a wholesome fear of the white man's
rifle and revolver. They dared not attack the ever-watchful white men
openly, but determined to effect by strategy what they dared not attempt
in the open field. Accordingly they sent a messenger to Wright proposing
a treaty. The messenger, among other things, told Wright that they held
two captive white girls, which they wished to surrender as an evidence
of good faith. Ben Wright was anxious to rescue the girls and readily
consented to a treaty, and promised to kill a beef and have a feast. The
Indians in considerable numbers came to the camp, headed by the chief.
Wright was then camped on the peninsula, a place admirably adapted to
guard against surprise. A feast was had and all went well. The white
girls were to be surrendered three days later at the mouth of Lost
river, to which place the white men moved, followed by the Indians. The
latter were very friendly and exerted themselves to win the confidence
of the white men. Three days passed but no white girls showed up. The
chief assured Wright that they were coming, that they were a long way
off and would be on hand two days later. In the meantime the watchful
white men observed that the numbers of the Indians had more than doubled
and more and more were coming with each succeeding day. They became
suspicious and their suspicions ripened into a certainty that treachery
was meditated. At the expiration of the two days Ben Wright informed his
men of his plans. He was satisfied that the girls would never be
surrendered, but that the Indians, now outnumbering them five to one,
intended a massacre. Accordingly he told his men to quietly make ready;
that he was going to the chief and if he refused to surrender the girls
he would kill him then and there. He warned his men to pay no attention
to him, that he would make his way out as best he could; that they must
open fire at the instant his pistol rang out; that they were in a
desperate situation and must resort to desperate measures or all would
be butchered then and there.

The morning was cool, Riddle said, and Ben Wright covered himself with a
blanket, his head passing through a hole in the middle, as was the
custom of the time, the blanket answering the place of an overcoat.
Underneath the blanket he carried a revolver in each hand. He went
directly to the chief and demanded that he make his promises good. The
chief told him plainly, insolently, that he would not do so, and never
intended to do so; that he had men enough to kill the white men and that
they were now in his power. But the wily old chief little dreamed of the
desperate valor of the man before him, for no sooner had the chief's
defy passed his lips than Ben Wright shot him dead. Then firing right
and left as he ran, he made his escape out of the Indian camp.
Meanwhile, as the first shot rang out from Wright's pistol his men
opened a deadly fire with their rifles. For an instant, Riddle said, the
savages formed a line and sent a shower of arrows over their heads, but
they aimed too high and only one or two were slightly wounded. Dropping
their rifles, Wright's men charged, revolvers in hand. This was too much
for savage valor and what were left fled in terror. It was now no longer
a battle. The savages were searched out from among the sage brush and
shot like rabbits. Long poles were taken from the wickiups and those
taking refuge in the river were poked out and shot as they struggled in
the water. To avoid the bullets the Indians would dive and swim beneath
the water, but watching the bubbles rise as they swam, the men shot them
when they came up for air.

This is the true story of the "Ben Wright Massacre." It was a massacre
all right, but did not terminate as the Indians intended. Riddle told me
that about ninety Indians were killed in this fight. It broke the war
power of the Modoc Indians as a tribe for all time, and from that day
the white man could pass unvexed through the country of the Modocs.
There were probably isolated cases of murder, but nothing approaching
war ever again existed in the minds of the Modocs.

Chapter X.

Treaty With the Modocs is Made.

On the 14th day of October, 1864, the Modocs entered into a treaty with
the Federal government by which they ceded all rights to the Lost river
and Tule lake country for a consideration of $320,000. In addition to
this they were to receive a body of land on the Klamath reservation of
768,000 acres, or a little more than 420 acres for each man, woman and
child. Immediately after the ratification of the treaty all the Modoc
Indians moved to the lands allotted to them, where the tribe remained,
and yet remains. This may be news to most of my readers, but it is a
fact that the Modoc Indians as a tribe continued to keep faith with the
government. The band under Captain Jack were merely renegades who,
dissatisfied with their new home, left the reservation and went back to
Lost river and Tule Lake. Jack himself was wanted for murder, and sought
an asylum in the lava beds, or the country adjacent thereto, where he
gathered around him renegades from other tribes--renegades outlawed by
Indians and whites alike. Some of the Indians in Jack's band were from
the Columbia river region, others from coast tribes, and all were
outlaws. One of the leaders, Bogus Charley, was an Umpqua Indian and was
raised by a white man named Bill Phips. He spoke good English and asked
me about many of the old timers.

In securing his ascendancy over this band of outlaws Jack was assisted
by his sister, "Queen Mary," so-called, who lived many years with a
white man near Yreka. In the opinion of Captain I. D. Applegate. Mary
was the brains of the murderous crew who gathered in the "hole in the
wall," under her brother. She was the go-between for the Indians with
the whites about Yreka, where they did their trading and where they
supplied themselves with arms and ammunition, and it was through her
that Judge Steele, a lawyer of Yreka, was interested in getting a
reservation for them. Steele made a trip to Washington to plead their
cause, and received a fee of $1000. He failed, but held out hope to his
clients and urged them under no circumstances to go back to their lands
at Klamath, advising them as counsel to take up lands in severalty under
the pre-emption laws of the United States. It is charitable to suppose
that Judge Steele did not foresee the disastrous consequences of his
counsel, yet he knew that Jack was wanted at the Klamath agency for
murder. In furtherance of his advice he wrote the following
self-explanatory letter to Henry Miller, afterwards murdered in a most
barbarous manner by the very men whom he had befriended:

Yreka, Sept. 19, 1872.

Mr. Henry F. Miller--Dear Sir: You will have to give me a description
of the lands the Indians want. If it has been surveyed, give me the
township, range, section and quarter-section. If not, give me a rude
plat of it by representing the line of the lake and the line of the
river, so that I can describe it . . . Mr. Warmmer, the County Surveyor,
will not go out there, so I will have to send to Sacramento to get one
appointed. Send an answer by an Indian, so that I can make out their
papers soon. I did not have them pay taxes yet, as I did not know
whether the land is surveyed and open for pre-emption.

Respectfully yours,
E. Steele.

Other letters were written by Judge Steele to the Indians. One which was
taken to Mrs. Body to read for them advised them not to go to Klamath,
but to "remain on their Yreka farm," as he termed the Tule Lake and Lost
river country, and told them they had as good a right to the lands as
any one. He further told them to go to the settlers and compel them to
give them written certificates of good character to show to the agents
of the government, which they did, the settlers fearing to refuse.
Shortly after this, Mr. T. B. Odeneal, Superintendent of Indian Affairs,
attempted to have a conference with Jack, who flatly refused, saying he
was tired of talking; he wanted no white man to tell him what to do;
that his friends and counselors at Yreka had told them to stay where
they were.

Under these circumstances the settlers became alarmed and made the
Superintendent promise that they should be notified before any attempt
to use force was made. How that promise was carried out will appear
later on. Early in November, after repeated attempts to induce the
Indians under Jack to go peaceably back to the reservation,
Superintendent Odeneal determined to turn the matter over to the
military. The Commissioner of Indian Affairs directed him to put the
Indians back, peaceably if he could, by force if he must. He then
referred the whole matter to Major Jackson, then in command at Fort
Klamath, who had at his disposal thirty-six men of Company B, First
cavalry, and proceeded with his command to Linkville, where he was met
by Captain I. D. Applegate, at that time connected with the Indian
department and stationed at the Yainax reservation. Captain Jackson was
warned by Applegate of the desperate character of the Indians, but
informed him the force was sufficient in his opinion if proper
precautions were taken. In the meantime Mr. Odeneal had sent his
messenger, O. A. Brown, to notify the settlers. Instead he proceeded to
the Bybee ranch, carefully concealing from all the proposed movements of
the troops under Jackson. Afterwards when reproached by Mrs. Schira,
whose husband, father and brothers had been murdered, he gave the
heartless answer that he "was not paid to run after the settlers." After
realizing the full extent of his conduct--conduct that could not be
defended any other way--Brown attempted to cast the odium upon his
superior, Mr. Odeneal. However, the latter had a copy of his letter of
instructions, hence Brown lapsed into sullen silence.

Major Jackson started for the Indian encampment on Lost river on the
28th of November, leaving Linkville, now Klamath Falls, after dark. He
was accompanied by Captain Applegate, and he had supplied his men with
twenty rounds of ammunition. Before reaching the encampment he halted
his men, saddle girths were tightened, overcoats tied behind saddles and
carbines loaded. It was then nearly daylight and proceeding with caution
he reached the encampment just at daylight. It was understood that the
command was to be divided so as to strike the camp on two sides, thus
commanding the river bank and the brush back of the camp at one and the
same time. Instead of this, Captain Jackson galloped his troop in
between the river and the camp and dismounted, his men forming a line
with horses in the rear.

While all this was going on another force, consisting of a dozen
settlers, had come down from the Bybee ranch to capture the Hot Creek
band on the opposite side of the river from Jack's camp. O. A. Brown had
arrived there in the evening but said nothing to any one until 2 o'clock
in the morning, when he roused them up and told them that the soldiers
would attack the Indians at daylight. They arrived just as Jackson lined
his men up on the opposite side. Jud Small, a stock man, was riding a
young horse and at the crack of the first gun his horse began bucking.
Everything was confusion, the men retreating to a small cabin a hundred
yards away, except Small, who was holding on to his horse for dear life
all this time. Over wickiups, squaws, bucks and children the frightened
beast leaped. Just how he got out safe among his companions Small never
knew, but he escaped, only to be desperately wounded in the first fight
in the lava beds, and later finding a watery grave in Klamath river
while sailing a pleasure boat.

After dismounting his men, Major Jackson requested Captain Applegate to
go forward among the Indians and tell them they must surrender and go
back to the reservation. But scarcely had Captain Applegate reached the
center of the village, when he saw the women running and throwing
themselves face downward in a low place between the two lines. He at
once called to Lieutenant Boutelle to "look out, they are going to
fire." Scarcely had the words escaped his lips when the Indians,
concealed under their wickiups, opened a galling fire on the line of
troops. Applegate made his way back to the line as best he could and as
he reached the line he picked up a carbine that had fallen from the hand
of a wounded soldier. The poor fellow had just strength enough to
unbuckle his belt and hand it to Captain Applegate, who now called to
Lieutenant Boutelle that "if we don't drive them out of their camp they
will kill us all." Boutelle then ordered a charge, and drove the Indians
out of their camp, through the brush and out into the open hills beyond.
But this was accomplished by the loss of several men killed and wounded.
One Indian had been killed, a Columbia, one of the most desperate of the
renegade band. When Applegate got back to where Jackson was standing he
had all the women and children gathered around him and while several men
had been killed or wounded, he deemed the trouble at an end.

While the above events were transpiring, Dave Hill, a Klamath Indian,
swam the river and drove in all the Modocs' horses. With the women,
children and horses in their possession all that remained for Captain
Jackson to do to insure the surrender of the men, was to take them to
the reservation and hold them. What was the surprise of Captain
Applegate, therefore, when Jackson announced his intention of turning
them all loose. In vain he and Dave Hill protested, but to no purpose.
Jackson declared he was short of ammunition; besides, must care for his
wounded men. He then told the squaws to pack up their horses and go to
the men and tell them to come to the reservation. No more mad, idiotic
piece of folly was ever perpetrated by a man than this move of Captain

While they were talking two travelers were seen riding along the road
some hundreds of yards away. In vain the men on both sides of the river
attempted to warn them of danger. The Indians were seen to ride up to
them and deliberately shoot them down. This of itself should have warned
Jackson of the desperate character of the outlaws. But no, he was either
too cowardly to act intelligently or too indifferent of the consequences
to act as he was advised. In fact, there is a certain class of army
officers who deem it a disgrace to accept advice from a civilian. At any
rate he crossed his wounded men over the river in canoes to the cabin
held by the party of stock men, and mounting his men went six miles up
the river to the ford and put the river between himself and command and

As soon as the squaws and children reached the men, a party headed by
"Black Jim" mounted and started down the shores of the lake butchering
the settlers. They came first to the Body ranch, where the men were
getting wood from the hills and heartlessly butchered them in cold
blood. The manner is best told in Mrs. Body's own words in a letter to
me in which she says:

"I reside three miles from the Indian camp on Lost river. The Indians
had told us time and again that if the soldiers came to put them on the
reservation they would kill every white settler. Through hearing of
these threats, we requested the messengers never to come with soldiers
without first giving the settlers warning. This they failed to do. . . .
The male portion of my family, not being aware of any disturbance, were
out procuring firewood, and were suddenly attacked within a mile and a
half of the house and butchered in cold blood. About a quarter to twelve
my daughter saw her husband's team approaching the house at a rapid
gait, and as the team reached the house she noticed that the wagon was
covered with blood. Thinking the team had run away she ran up the road
to find him. About a quarter of a mile from the house she discovered
him. I hastened after her with water, and as I arrived at the spot my
daughter was stooping over the body of her husband. Six Indians then
dashed out of the brush on horseback. Two of them rode up to me and
asked if there were any white men at the house. Not dreaming that there
was anything wrong with the Indians, I told them that the team had run
away and killed white man. They then gave a warwhoop and rode off
towards the house. On examining my son-in-law, we found that he had been
shot through the head. We then knew that the redskins were on the
warpath, and determined to find the other men. Going a short distance we
found my eldest son killed and stripped naked. The four horses were
gone. About a quarter of a mile further on we saw more Indians in the
timber where my husband was chopping wood, so we concluded we had better
not go any further in that direction, and made our way to the hills. My
youngest son, a boy of thirteen years of age, was herding sheep about a
mile from the house when he was killed. They shot him and then cut his
throat. We continued to travel until it became too dark to discern our
way, and then sat down at the foot of a tree and stayed until daylight.
We then started again, not knowing where we were going, but hoping to
strike some house. There was two feet of snow on the ground and our
progress was slow and tedious. Finally we arrived at Lost river bridge
about 2 o'clock Saturday afternoon. Here we learned for the first time
that there had been a fight between the soldiers and Indians. If the
settlers had been warned in time not one white person would have been
killed, as we all had arms and ammunition sufficient to defend
themselves successfully."

The Brotherton Family was not killed until the next day. They lived
eight miles south of the Bodys, and like the latter were attending to
their duties about the ranch. A twelve-year-old boy, Charley Brotherton,
while the Indians were killing the hired man, cut one of the horses
loose from the wagon and escaped to the house, where he built a pen of
sacks of flour in the center of the floor to protect his mother and the
little children and with a rifle held the savages at bay for three days,
or until relieved by volunteers. The house, a two-story box affair, was
literally riddled with bullets and how the boy escaped being shot is a
mystery. The other settlers, seventeen in all, were similarly murdered.
Henry Miller, who had befriended the Indians, was murdered under
conditions of peculiar atrocity, for the reason, it was supposed, that
he had failed to notify the Indians of the movements of the soldiers as
he had promised.

During all these three days of murder and horror, Captain Jackson made
no attempt to protect the settlers, but remained forted up at the cabin
on Lost river. As soon as the news reached Linkville, now Klamath Falls,
Captain O. C. Applegate organized a company of settlers and friendly
Indians to protect what was left of the settlement. Captain Ivan D.
Applegate also exerted himself in saving the settlers, and did brave
work, but there were women and children to protect and days elapsed
before an effective force could be gathered to meet the Indians.
Meantime news had reached Jackson county and Captain Kelley hastily
organized a force of a hundred men and by riding night and day reached
the scene of the massacre. It was his company that relieved the besieged
Brothertons, defended by the brave boy.

In the meantime the Indians had retreated to the lava beds and bade
defiance to the soldiers. General Wheaton, commanding the district of
the Lakes, ordered the concentration of troops from Camps Warner and
Bidwell, while General Canby sent the forces under Colonel John Green
and Major Mason from Ft. Vancouver to join the command under General
Wheaton. As soon as the settlers could fort up for mutual protection,
the entire forces of regulars and volunteers were concentrated at Van
Bremer's ranch west of the lava beds under General Wheaton and at Land's
ranch on the east side of Tule Lake and directly north of the
stronghold. Such was the disposition of the forces when I arrived at
headquarters at Van Bremer's ranch. By orders of Governor Grover of
Oregon the volunteers under Captains O. C. Applegate and Kelley were
placed under the command of General Wheaton. The two companies numbered
about 225 men, and were commanded by General John E. Ross, a veteran
Indian fighter, but too old to withstand the hardships of a winter
campaign against Indians. The men were all poorly provided with clothing
and bedding, most all having taken only what they could strap behind
their saddles, but in spite of this and a temperature often below zero,
no murmur was heard, and all anxiously, eagerly looked forward to a
meeting with the brutal savage murderers of their fellow citizens. Such
were the conditions when I arrived at headquarters.

Chapter XI.

Battle in the Lava Beds.

On Sunday, January 12, 1873, a strong reconnoitering force was sent out
under Colonel Perry of the regulars and Captain O. C. Applegate of the
volunteers. On the bluff overlooking the lava beds they found the
Indians and found them full of fight. A picket was surprised and a gun
captured, but they were unable to say whether any of them had been
wounded in the skirmish. The Indians, however, came out in force and a
brisk skirmish was kept up for some time when the troops, having
accomplished the object of their mission, retired.

All the reinforcements having now arrived it was determined to attack
the savages on the following Friday. The plans of General Wheaton were
submitted to the volunteer officers and fully approved. General Frank
Wheaton was an officer of experience and unquestioned ability. He was a
veteran of the Civil war, and commanded 20,000 troops at the battle of
the Wilderness, besides having the confidence and esteem of officers and
men. Every contingency was guarded against, at least as far as it was
possible to foresee it. The troops organized for the attack were
Bernard's and Perry's troops of cavalry, and Green's and Mason's
infantry, numbering 250 men; Captain Applegate's and Captain Kelley's
volunteers, numbering 225 men, Donald McKay's Indian scouts numbering
fifty and the California volunteers under John Fairchilds and Presley

By general field order, Bernard was to move down from Land's ranch on
Wednesday, January 1 16th, and occupy a position not less than two miles
from the stronghold. At the same time Colonel Perry was to push across
the trail to the bluff with his dismounted troop, while General Wheaton
with the infantry and volunteers, ambulances, three howitzers, reserve
ammunition, etc., was to go around by Little Klamath Lake and join the
command of Colonel Perry under cover of darkness. This was regarded
advisable as it was feared that the Indians, discovering our numbers,
would leave the lava beds and scatter. Every soldier and volunteer had
been ordered to prepare four days' rations, cooked. There was no
question in our minds as to whipping the Indians, but we wanted to
surround and capture them.

On the morning of the 16th all was astir and as day began to break the
troops were all drawn up in line. I had determined to cross the trail
with Perry and was sitting on my horse when I heard a man hallo "O," and
as I turned my head heard the report of his gun. The fellow, a recruit
in Mason's battalion of regulars, had deliberately shot off his great
toe to keep from going into the fight. He pulled the trigger of his gun
and halloed, before the gun was discharged. I mention this to show the
difference in men. Here was a poor weak devil who would rather maim
himself for life than to face danger where he might be killed, but it is
safe to say that nine-tenths of the rest would have gone even after the
loss of the toe.

We arrived in sight of the rim of the bluff about 2 o'clock and saw the
Indian pickets. Colonel Perry threw out a skirmish line and the advance
was ordered. Before getting within rifle range the pickets disappeared
and we took possession. I now got my first view of the lava beds, as
they stretched black and forbidding nearly a thousand feet below. A fog
rested over the lake, but we could soon see through the rifts along the
lake shore the Indians on horseback coming out to attack us. They
appeared like phantom horsemen, and our Indian guide told us they were
coming out to attack us, as there were "only a few and they are afoot."
A few had reached the bluff and had begun a scattering fire, when we
heard several shots that appeared to come directly from the stronghold.
The Indian guide told us he thought they were killing some Indians that
did not want to fight. As he had relatives among them the poor fellow
showed the distress he felt. A few minutes later we heard several more
shots, and I told Colonel Perry I heard Bernard's bugle. A few minutes
later the clear notes of the bugle rang out clear and distinct, though
it was fully five miles away. Yet in that clear, cold, dry atmosphere
every note sounded as clear and distinct as though but a mile away.
Bernard's column had followed the lake, and under cover of the fog
enveloping the shore, had approached much nearer than his orders
contemplated. He was at once savagely attacked and all evening the
rattle of the guns sounded like many bunches of fire crackers.
Repeatedly we heard him sound the charge and we all fretted that we
could not descend and join in the battle. Perry's men were desperately
afraid that "the Apache boys," as Bernard's men were called, would clean
out the Indians and leave them nothing to do on the morrow. But our
orders forbade and we contented ourselves with listening to the fight
from a distance without being able to take a hand. Toward night the fog
cleared away and we had an unobstructed view of the stronghold.

I have often been asked to describe the lava beds. That is beyond the
power of language. In a letter to the Army and Navy journal, written at
the suggestion of General Wheaton, I compared the Indians in the lava
beds to "ants in a sponge." In the language of another it is a "black
ocean tumbled into a thousand fantastic shapes, a wild chaos of ruin,
desolation, barrenness--a wilderness of billowy upheavals, of furious
whirlpools, of miniature mountains rent asunder, of gnarled and knotted,
wrinkled and twisted masses of blackness, and all these weird shapes,
all this turbulent panorama, all this far-stretching waste of blackness,
with its thrilling suggestiveness of life, of action, of boiling,
surging, furious motion was petrified--all stricken dead and cold in
the instant of its maddest rioting fettered, paralyzed and left to
glower at heaven in impotent rage for evermore."

Towards night the rattle of the guns gradually died away and the yell of
the savages was hushed for the day. Leaving a strong guard on the bluff
we joined General Wheaton a few hundred yards in the rear, anxiously
awaited the coming of another day, little dreaming what that day was to
bring forth. There was little sleep that night. The frozen ground with a
pair of blankets is not a bed of roses, and is little conducive to sleep
and rest. Most of the night was spent around the fires until 2 o'clock
when all were ordered to "fall in." The order of march and battle was as
follows: The command of Fairchilds and Dorris occupied the extreme left
along the lake shore; Mason's infantry battalion, with mountain
howitzers packed, joined Fairchild's right; Captain Kelley's command
occupied the center with his left resting on Mason's right; Captain
Applegate connected with Kelley's right and Perry's left, who occupied
the extreme left wing; while Donald McKay's Indians formed a skirmish
line in advance. The whole line stretched out a mile or more. As the
line filed out of camp, their arms glittering in the bright moonlight,
they formed a beautiful and inspiring sight. The command, "Forward on
the line" was now given and we moved forward at a brisk walk. I galloped
down the line and watched it as it descended the steep bluff. Low down
and stretching over the lava beds lay a dense fog, and as the head of
the line disappeared it looked as if it were going into the sea. As I
sat there General Wheaton came up and insisted that I should leave my
horse. On my consenting reluctantly, he detailed a soldier who took the
animal back to camp.

As we reached the bottom of the bluff the entire line was deployed in
the form of a half wheel, the intention being to surround the savages by
connecting with Bernard's left and capture the entire band. Daylight now
began to peep through the fog and night, and "forward on the line" was
given and taken up by subalterns and repeated until it died away in the
distance. There were no skirmishers now. McKay and his Indians fell back
and remained in the rear for the rest of the day. Slowly the line moved
forward, stumbling along over rocks, but keeping in perfect order of
battle. Soon several shots were heard on the extreme right. It was
daylight, and someone called that the Indians were escaping around
Perry's right. Up to this time I had been with General Wheaton in the
rear, but ran out to the line in time to see the Indians in our front
leaping from rock to rock about five hundred yards away. The fog had
lifted and a clear day was promised. I jumped upon a lava wave and
waited for them to stop to get a shot. Instantly a bullet sang over my
head, but thinking they were shooting at me from that distance paid no
attention, but continued watching the leaping red devils. In about the
time that is required to throw in a cartridge and take aim, another
bullet went by, but it hissed this time and raised the hair on one side
of my head. Still thinking that they were shooting at me from a long
distance, I dropped on my knee with rifle to shoulder. Instantly the red
devil, with sage brush tied round his head raised up about ninety yards
from me and again fired. I only caught a glimpse of him as he made a few
zig zag leaps among the rocks and disappeared. I fired at random but
failed to wing my game. That taught a rash, presumptuous young fool a
lesson, and he contented himself for the balance of the day imitating
the men in the line, and keeping well under cover.

"Forward on the line" was ever the command and by 12 o'clock we had
driven the Indians through the rocks several miles. Presently word came
down the line that the volunteers could not be found. I started up the
line when General Wheaton called to me to come back. Returning he
directed me to give that order to Donald McKay. It was fortunate for me
that I was called back, otherwise I should have gone in behind the
"juniper fort," a strong fort built around a stunted juniper tree, and
standing on a high point of lava. I gave the order to McKay who was
riding a small pony, and he had proceeded but a short distance when the
Indians opened on him from the fort and killed his pony. Some one
remarked that "the volunteers are firing on McKay," as the shooting was
considerably in the rear and to the right. We all ran up on a point when
half a dozen bullets came singing around us. For once in my life I was
glad as I distinctly saw Col. John Green dodge. He was an old soldier
and had probably been in more battles than any man in the army and to
see him dodge from bullets was salve to my pride.

A few minutes later we heard a yell to the right and rear as Kelley's
and Applegate's men found the fort and charged it on the run. It
transpired that it was Mason's line that had given way and the
volunteers, feeling their way, had found the fort and taken it. But they
lost two men, Frank Trimble and a man named Brown of Kelley's command.
Lieutenant Evan Ream of Kelley's company, was also wounded, but he,
refused to leave the line after his knee had been bandaged. A large
caliber bullet had hit a rock and glancing had struck him on the knee
with the flat side, cutting through his clothing and burying itself in
the flesh. He was knocked down and we all thought for a time he was
killed. He is now a merchant-banker at Klamath Falls. To give the reader
a slight idea of the difficulties under which we labored, I will relate
one incident occurring near where I was standing. A soldier was crawling
up an upheaval, pushing his rifle before him, when he was shot through
the body from underneath.

At about 2 o'clock Col. Perry came down the line and told Gen. Wheaton
that he could go no further. A deep chasm, he said, in his front could
not be crossed. "By gad," replied the General, "Col. Perry, you must
cross it." "I can cross it, General, but it will cost me half my
command. Every man attempting to cross it has been killed, and two
litter bearers going to the relief of a wounded man were killed." Word
now reached us from Fairchilds that Bernard was calling for help. He had
called across an arm of the lake that ran up into the lava beds that he
had more wounded men that he could take care of. Gen. Wheaton was now
thoroughly distressed, saying "when Bernard hallows he is badly hurt."
We then determined to try shelling the Indians with the howitzers and I
started back to find the pack mules. Reader, if you ever tried to appear
as if you were'nt scared, with bullets screaming around you, and with
your back to the enemy, you will know something of my feelings. Those
big fellows, striking in the rocks would glance and scream with an
unearthly noise. My legs wanted to run, but pride held them in check.
And right here I want to say, that bravery is only pride and a good
control over your legs. I finally found the pack mules and started back,
but it wasn't half as hard facing it and we came bravely up to the line.
The guns were planted and opened with shells timed to three hundred
yards. Two burst and a call came from Bernard's men that we were
shelling their rear guard.

Firing with the howitzers ceased as it was clearly a failure, and a
consultation was held. We knew our loss was heavy, Gen. Ross declaring
it "is worse than Hungry Hill." It was finally determined to send a
column to relieve Col. Bernard. Accordingly Fairchild's California
volunteers, Mason's battalion and Perry's dismounted cavalry were
ordered to cut their way around the lake shore and join Bernard.
Fairchild's men passed over the point without loss, but several of
Mason's men were killed in plain sight. The soldiers balked and refused
to advance. Col. Green ran down the line and leaping upon the point
turned his back to the Indians and with a gauntlet in his hand used
language that was scarcely fit for a parlor. Gen. Wheaton also joined
and with a sword taken from a bugler boy, ran down the line urging the
men to move forward. They soon began the advance and passed over the
point and out of sight. Meantime I was moving the volunteers down
towards the lake to take the places in our front vacated by the relief
column. The battle now became desperate, the Indians concentrating all
their forces against the column going round the lake. In this situation
the volunteers pressed forward and soon we could hear the women and
children crying. Applegate's men were almost on top of them and were
getting into camp. We were within 50 yards of the scalp pole over Jack's
cave which was the center of the stronghold. The volunteers were anxious
to charge. I went back to where Gen. Wheaton was standing and explaining
the situation asked permission to charge with all the volunteers. The
fog had raised and Capt. Adams of the signal staff was signaling to
Bernard. I told Gen. Wheaton if he would have Bernard cease firing I
would charge and close the Indians out in twenty minutes, that our men
were on top of them.

The General walked rapidly back and forth, snapping his fingers for a
few moments, and then turning to me exclaimed: "You can go, but not with
my consent. We have lost too many men already--five times more than
Jackson lost at New Orleans. The country will not justify this sacrifice
of human life. You have taken these young men and boys off the farms and
from stores, schools and shops and their lives are worth something to
their families and to their country. You can go but not with my
consent." Then turning to Gen. Ross, who had scarcely spoken a word
during the day, he said: "General, what had we better, do?" "We had
better get out of here, by God," exclaimed the bluff old veteran. "All
right, Capt. Adams, tell Bernard that as soon as the relief column
reaches him to hold his position until dark and then withdraw,"
exclaimed Wheaton in rapid succession. Then turning to me he said:
"Colonel, we will have to depend on the volunteers to protect our
wounded and mule train in getting out of this place." It was soon
arranged that the men were to keep firing until dark and then begin the
retreat. Just after sundown Bernard signaled that the relief column had
reached him, but there is not a question of doubt had not the volunteers
pressed the Indians so hard at a critical time Fairchild's, Mason's and
Perry's command would have been annihilated. Jud Small was badly wounded
in the shoulder and afterwards told me that he was shot by an Indian not
twenty feet away. At one point the men lay in the water and rolled over
and over with only their heads exposed.

Night finally closed in and with the gathering darkness the fog rolled
in from the lake, increasing its intensity. Kelley's company was formed
in the rear with Applegate's company on the flank, and formed parallel
with the lake, along the shores of which we were to make our way, with
the wounded men on litters between. Finally the word was passed along
the lines to move forward. The night had meanwhile settled down to one
of Stygean blackness. Objects a foot away were indistinguishable, and we
had to feel rather than see our way. I fully realized the difficulties
and dangers of our situation, but my anxiety was for the nineteen
wounded men on the litters. I told Col. Bellinger that we must remain
together and behind the litter bearers, that I would rather leave my
body with our dead comrades in the rocks than to leave behind any of our
wounded men. But we had proceeded but a short distance when the lines
crumbled and became mixed up, in fact, an undistinguishable mob. Under
these circumstances, and relying on undisciplined troops, our position
was critical in the extreme. One shot would have precipitated a
stampede. Wheaton, Ross and Miller were somewhere mixed up among the
troops, but Bellinger and I stuck to the litter bearers and kept as many
of the men behind us as possible.

Donald McKay's Indians were in the advance, somewhere, but we knew not
where. In this order, or rather disorder, we stumbled along blindly,
knowing the waters of the lake were on our right. The bottom of the
bluff was finally reached and word passed back that the Modocs had
captured and held the summit. I stopped as many of the men as possible
and asked Col. Bellinger to remain with the litter bearers and I would
go forward and if necessary capture it back. Reaching the front I found
Indians, volunteers and officers all jumbled together without semblance
of order. The Indians were confident the Modocs had killed the guards
left there in the morning and held the top of the bluff. I called for
volunteers, but not an Indian would go. I finally got a few volunteers
and began the ascent of the steep, rocky trail. The climb was tedious in
the extreme, and one can imagine my joy when on nearing the crest there
came the sharp call, "Who comes there?" I was prompt to reply "friends."
Learning that all was well, I retraced my steps to the bottom and gave
out the welcome news that everything was clear.

Then began a scramble to reach the top. It was everybody for himself, as
it was too dark to even attempt to preserve a semblance of order or
discipline. Going to the rear I found Col. Bellinger with the wounded
men. Holding as many men as possible we began the ascent. As the litter
bearers gave out others took their places and the tired men slipped away
in the darkness. As we neared the top, Col. Bellinger and I relieved two
worn out bearers and that was the last we saw of them. In this condition
we staggered into camp at 2 o'clock in the morning, more dead than
alive. To add to the discomfort of the situation others had reached our
store of provisions ahead of us, and we simply had to do without. We had
now been on the march 24 hours. Our boot soles were almost cut away on
the sharp lava, and we were all but barefooted. But I had my horse, and
though I had nothing to eat, I felt greatly relieved. A few hours sleep
on the frozen ground and we were again astir. I was holding my horse to
graze when Gen. Wheaton's orderly came to me and stated that the General
wanted to see me at his tent. Handing him the halter strap I walked down
to the tent and stepped in. The General was sitting on the ground with a
can of coffee before him. He said he had a couple of cups of coffee and
four crackers and wanted to divide with me. It required no persuasion on
his part to induce me to accept.

While we were sipping our coffee we discussed the events of the previous
day. The General was visibly affected and greatly worried. Even then we
did not know the full extent of our losses. The dead were left where
they fell and only our wounded carried out. Would the country justify
the sacrifice of life, not knowing the character of the country over
which we had fought? Speaking of the lava beds, the General remarked: "I
have seen something of war and know something of fortifications. I
commanded 19,000 men at the battle of the Wilderness and saw many of the
great engineering works of the Civil war, but I do not believe that a
hundred thousand men in a hundred thousand years could construct such
fortifications." This will give the reader a faint idea of the lava
beds. Indeed a regiment of men could conceal themselves in its caves and
fissures and ten thousand men could be marched over them without seeing
a man.

Placing the wounded in ambulances we now broke camp and started to our
camp at Van Bremer's ranch. After a tiresome march by way of Lower
Klamath Lake, the wounded men undergoing terrible sufferings, we reached
camp at 11 o'clock that night. Here another difficulty confronted us.
Our provision train had not arrived and we were reduced to beef
straight. There was some murmuring among the men, kept up and agitated
by a doctor attached to Kelley's company who told the men that they had
been robbed and swindled by the officers. Hearing of this I hunted him
up. He said that a "soldier did not dare to complain without being
called a s-of-a-b." Twenty or thirty volunteers were standing around. I
explained that the wagons had been two weeks on the road; that they had
made only ten miles in seven days; and that a man, private or officer
who would talk about asking for his discharge, though all were entitled
to the same, was a son of a b-h, and a d--d one at that. He went to Gen.
Ross and complained of my language, but was told that the "Colonel knew
what he was talking about." The disgruntled pill mixer mounted his horse
and left, and that was the last we heard about being discharged. We
continued feasting on beef straight and fattened on the diet, at least I

The day after our return we buried the man I had seen shot through the
stomach, while crawling on his belly. Patrick Maher was buried with
military honors. On the fourth day the troops sent to relieve Col.
Bernard arrived at camp, and the reports all being in we found that 41
men had been killed in the fighting on the 16th and 17th of January. The
death of Patrick Maher made 42, besides a long list of wounded. When we
consider that there were not more than 500 engaged, counting McKay's
Indians, the loss was heavy, and would the Government endorse or censure
the officers, was the question.

As before stated, we were camped at the ranch of Van Bremer Bros. On our
return Col. Bellinger and I had to give up our quarters in an out house
to accommodate the wounded men and after that we slept, when we slept at
all, on the frozen ground with two thicknesses of blanket beneath us.
Under such circumstances it may easily be imagined that our periods of
sleep were of short duration. We would drop asleep and in an hour wake
up shivering. We would get up, cut off some beef and roast it before the
fires that were constantly kept burning, get warm and then lie down
again. I mention this, not because we were undergoing hardships more
trying than others, but to show how all, officers and men, fared. There
was no difference. One day a surgeon came to me and asked if I could
obtain some eggs for the wounded men, so I went to Van Bremer and got
half a dozen eggs and paid 50 cents each for them. He would not take
script but demanded and received the cash, nearly all I had. From that
time until our departure I spent a considerable portion of my time in
studying human villainy with the Van Bremers as a model. But I got even
with them--and then some. Before leaving I asked Gen. Ross for
permission to settle our hay bill in place of the Quartermaster, Mr.
Foudray. Capt. Adams and I then measured the hay used respectively by
the regulars and volunteers, and I feel safe in saying that those eggs
cost the Van Bremer Bros. $50 each.

Of course they raved and ranted, declaring that we were worse than the
Modocs, but when they saw the tents of the regulars and blankets of the
volunteers being pulled down and rolled up they came to me and asked
what it meant. I told them that we had been ordered to the mouth of Lost
River on Tule Lake to protect the Oregon settlers, and that the regulars
were going also, but that Gen. Wheaton was going to leave a detail at
the Fairchilds ranch and that if they did not feel safe with the Modocs
they could move up there. They lost no time in loading a few effects
into a wagon and started with us to the Fairchilds ranch. On the road
they mired down and every man, regular and volunteer, passing them had
something bitter and mean to say to them. The story of the eggs was
known to all, and if ever men paid for a scurvy, mean trick it was the
Van Bremers.

We moved around to Lost River and struck camp, where we remained about
ten days. As Gen. Wheaton felt competent to protect the settlements, and
as the term of enlistment of the volunteers had expired more than a
month before, we proceeded to Linkville and from there to Jacksonville
where the command of Capt. Kelley was disbanded, Applegate's company
having been discharged at Linkville. I then returned to Salem and a few
days later paid a visit to Gen. Canby at Ft. Vancouver in company with
Governor L. F. Grover. The entire situation was gone over, Gen. Canby
expressing entire confidence in the ability of Gen. Wheaton and his
officers. Fortunate, indeed, would it have been had that brave officer
and splendid gentleman been left to develop and carry out his plans, but
unhappily that was not to be, for the churches succeeded in hypnotizing
the grim soldier in the White House, and the result was the "Peace

Chapter XII.

The Peace Commission's Work.

A. B. Meacham was at that time in Washington. He had been superseded as
Superintendent of Indian Affairs by T. B. Odeneal. Meacham wanted the
place, and backed by the churches and humanitarians of New England,
thought he could accomplish his purpose by means of a compromise with
Jack and his band. He declared to President Grant that he knew Jack to
be an honorable man and that he could easily effect a compromise and
induce the outlaws to return to the reservation. Meantime a clamor went
up all over the country, especially in the east. Sentimentalists shed
barrels of tears over the wrongs of the Indians, the horrors of the Ben
Wright massacre were recapitulated with all manner of untruthful
variations, and the great Beecher from the pulpit of his Brooklyn
tabernacle sent up a prayer for "that poor, persecuted people whose long
pent up wrongs had driven them to acts of outrage and diabolical
murder." Delegations, at the instigation of Meacham, visited the White
House and finally succeeded in bending the iron will of the grim old
soldier to their own. The hands that slew the Bodys and Brothertons were
to be clasped in a spirit of brotherly love, and the principles and
precepts of the "Lowly Nazarene" were to be extended to these gentle

Accordingly in February a commission was appointed consisting of A. B.
Meacham, Jesse Applegate, and S. Case. The commission arrived at
headquarters towards the last of February. They were instructed by the
Commissioner of Indian Affairs "to ascertain the causes which led to
hostilities between the Modocs and the U. S. troops;" to offer them a
reservation somewhere on the coast with immunity for past crimes. In
vain Gov. Grover of Oregon protested against any compromise with the
murderers of Oregon citizens. He held that they were amenable to the
laws of that State, had been indicted by a grand jury, and should be
tried and executed as the law directs, but his protest was passed
unheeded and the commissioners proceeded to carry out their
instructions. Bob Whittle and his Indian wife were sent to convey the
terms to Capt. Jack and his band, but Jack refused to have anything to
do with the commissioners, although willing to talk to Judges
Roseborough and Steele of Yreka. These gentlemen proceeded to the camp
in the lava beds and held a conference and found that Jack was anxious
for peace; was tired of war; did not know the commissioners; but wanted
to talk to the chief soldiers, Generals Canby and Gillem. The former had
arrived and assumed command of the one thousand or more troops
assembled, while the latter had superseded Gen. Wheaton. John Fairchilds
also had an interview with them in the lava beds and was only saved from
massacre by one of the Indians, who kept him in his cave all night and
escorted him beyond the lines the next morning. After some weeks of
delay Jack finally agreed to a conference with the commissioners, but
the terms were such as to leave no doubt of intended treachery, and Mr.
Applegate and Mr. Case resigned in disgust. It was apparent to these men
that the Indians only sought an opportunity to murder Gen. Canby and
such other officers as they could get into their power, but Meacham was
determined to succeed, as that was the only means of getting back his
job as Superintendent of Indian Affairs. Accordingly Rev. Dr. Thomas of
Oakland and Mr. Dyer, Indian agent at Klamath, were appointed to fill
the vacancies.

In the meantime Gen. Canby had moved his headquarters to the foot of the
bluff at the lower end of Tule Lake, while Col. John Green with Mason's
command had moved down from Land's ranch to a position within striking
distance of the stronghold. Five mortars and three howitzers with an
abundance of ammunition and provisions were also moved up to the front.

But the dreary farce was not to be ended yet. On April 10th four bucks
and five squaws rode into Gen. Canby's camp. They were fed and clothed
by the commission, loaded with presents, and sent back asking for a
conference between the lines. Later in the day Bogus Charley, the
Umpqua, came into camp and surrendering his gun, stated that he would
not return. He remained in camp over night and in the morning was joined
by "Boston Charley," one of the leaders who stated that Capt. Jack was
willing to meet the commissioners midway between the lines on the
condition that Jack was to be attended by four of his men, all unarmed.
Boston then mounted his horse and rode away. Bogus accompanying him.

A tent had been pitched midway between the lines and thither
Commissioners Meacham, Thomas, and Dyer, and Gen. Canby repaired
accompanied by Frank Riddle and his Modoc wife as interpreters. Before
starting both Riddle and his squaw in vain tried to dissuade the
commissioners from their purpose. Meacham told Gen. Canby that Riddle
only sought to delay negotiations in order to prolong his job as
interpreter; that he knew Capt. Jack and that he "was an honorable man."
Rev. Mr. Thomas when appealed to by Riddle replied that he "was in the
hands of his God." Both Riddle and his squaw then, at the suggestion of
Mr. Dyer, went to the tent of Gen. Canby and begged him not to go. With
tears streaming down her cheeks the woman implored the General not to
go, as treachery was surely meditated. Gen. Canby replied that "his
Government had ordered him to go, and a soldier had no choice but to
obey orders." The General was dressed in full uniform, with sword belt
and empty scabbard.

Gen. Gillem intended to accompany them but was too indisposed to leave
his tent. Riddle, in describing what transpired at the "peace tent,"
told me that Meacham made a short speech and was followed by Dr. Thomas
and Gen. Canby. Capt. Jack then made a speech, demanding Hot Creek and
Cottonwood as a reservation, owned at that time by the Dorris brothers,
Fairchilds and Doten. Meacham then explained to him the impossibility of
acceding to his demands, as the property had already passed in title to
these men. Old Sconchin then told Meacham to "shut up;" that he had said
enough. While Sconchin was talking Jack got up and was walking behind
the others. He then turned back and exclaimed: "All ready!" At the same
instant he drew a pistol and snapped at Gen. Canby, but cocking the
pistol again shot him through the right eye. Canby fell dead without a
groan. Almost at the same instant Sconchin shot Meacham through the
shoulder, in the head and in the arm, while Boston Charley shot Dr.
Thomas dead. Just previous to the shooting Mr. Dyer had turned and
walked back behind the tent. At the first crack of the pistols Mr. Dyer
fled for his life, closely pursued by Hooker Jim. Mr. Dyer had concealed
a small revolver about his person and turned at intervals of his flight
and fired at his pursuer. By this means he was enabled to make headway.
and at last escaped.

Gen. Canby and Dr. Thomas were stripped and the General scalped. Meacham
was insensible and as the Indians started in to scalp him Riddle's squaw
told them that the soldiers were coming, and they left him and fled. To
this fact Meacham was indebted for his scalp, as it was partly cut loose
and in a few moments more would have been stripped off.

While these scenes were being enacted, two Indians approached the lines
of Mason and Green bearing a flag of truce. Lieutenants Sherwood and
Boyle went out about 500 yards beyond their line to meet them. The
Indians said they wanted to see Maj. Mason and when told by the officers
that Mason would not talk to them, they appeared disappointed. As the
officers turned to go back to their lines they were fired upon by
Indians in ambush and Lieut. Sherwood was mortally wounded.

Early in the day Capt. Adams had been stationed on Gillem's bluff and
during all the proceedings at the peace tent had watched with a strong
field glass. When the massacre of the commission began he telegraphed to
Gen. Gillem, and the soldiers, held in readiness for an emergency,
sprang to the advance on the double quick, but were too late to save the
life of the gallant Canby and his comrades.

Thus ended the long, dreary farce of the "Peace Commission." And at what
a price! There lay the noble Canby prone upon his face, cold and still
in death; having breasted the hurricane of many a well-fought field to
fall at last by the treacherous, assassin hand of a prowling savage to
whom he had come upon a mission of peace and friendship. There was
another of the Commissioners, a man of peace, a preacher of the gospel
of eternal love, stricken down with the words of mercy and forgiveness
upon his lips, his gray and reverend locks all dabbled in his own blood.
Another, shot and hacked and stabbed, covered with wounds, beaten down
with cruel blows, motionless but still alive. And there was another,
with warwhoop and pistol shot ringing at his heels, fleeing for his
life; while at the side scene was the "honorable" Capt. Jack, stage
manager of the awful play, arch demon of massacre, with pistol that took
the priceless life of Canby still smoking in his hand, leaping with
glee, his dark face all aglow with the glare of the dread spectacle,
like a fiend dancing in the fire-light of hell.

No wonder that in its lurid light the Government for a moment forgot its
dawdling "peace policy," and "let slip the dogs of war." No wonder the
canting prayers of maudlin fanatics were stilled amid the wrathful cry
for vengeance. The blood of Canby and Thomas and Sherwood "cried unto
God from the ground" against them. The ghastly, sickening tragedy which
should send a thrill through the very heart of the nation was

Chapter XIII.

Three Days' Battle in the Lava Beds.

The day following the massacre preparations were made for an attack in
full force upon the stronghold. Only the regulars were to be engaged in
this task, as the volunteers had been discharged, under assurance from
Gen. Canby that he was strong enough to control the situation and
protect the settlements. The plan of battle which was the same as that
adopted by Gen. Wheaton on the 17th of January was to form a cordon of
troops around the hostiles and either kill or capture them. The troops
were supplied with overcoats, blankets, three days' provisions and an
abundance of ammunition. On April 13, Donald McKay arrived with
seventy-two Wasco Indians who were at once armed and assigned to duty,
and who made a splendid record. Some slight skirmishing had taken place,
but no general forward movement was made until the 14th, when the rattle
of small arms, the yells of the savages, and the deep boom of the
mortars and howitzers told that the battle was on. All day long the
troops continued to advance, slowly, keeping under cover as much as
possible, and driving the Indians before them. Even with every
precaution there was a list of killed and wounded. As night closed in
the troops held their position, but the mortars and howitzers continued
to send into the stronghold a stream of shells, mingled with the
occasional discharge of small arms and the yells of the savages.

During the night Col. Green and Maj. Mason, disobeying orders (I know
what I am saying) drove a column in between the Indians and the lake,
thus shutting them off from water. This was carrying out the plans
formulated and advised by Gen. Wheaton and Gen. Ross after the battle on
the 17th of January. When the Indians discovered this move they made a
determined attempt to break the line, but the troops had had time to
fortify and the attempt proved a failure.

Gen. Gillem the next morning sent for John Fairchilds and asked him to
go with Capt. Bancroft and show him where to plant the mortars and also
show him the center of the stronghold. Fairchilds told the General that
he would show him, but that he was tired acting as errand boy for Tom,
Dick and Harry--that he had risked his life enough. Under these
circumstances, the General had to go. They started out and had almost
reached the line, bullets were singing around, when the General, rubbing
his hands, remarked: "Mr. Fairchilds, this is a splendid day's work; how
long did it take Gen. Wheaton to get this far?" Fairchilds, as brave a
man as ever trod in shoe leather, replied: "General, I do not remember
exactly, but as near as I can judge it was about twenty minutes." That
remark settled the friendly relations between the two men. I want to say
here that Gillem was not the man for the place. He was self-willed,
self-opinionated, knew nothing about Indian warfare; in fact, got his
shoulder straps through the enterprise of one of his officers and the
treachery of a woman, in killing the Confederate Gen. Morgan. He had
nothing else to recommend him, and would not take advice from old
veterans like Green, Mason, Bernard, Perry and Hasbrook--men who had
grown gray in frontier service.

At 9 o'clock on the morning of the second day, Col. Green ordered an
advance. The men answered with a cheer, and soon reached a position on
top of the ridge next to Jack's camp. Some of the other lines also
slowly advanced during the day. Towards evening another desperate
attempt was made by the Indians to break the line between them and
water. At this time a very near approach to a battle was reached. Volley
after volley of rifles rang out, and mingled with the yells of the
savages and roar of the artillery made some of the old veterans of the
Civil war think they were really in a fight. All the same, men were
being killed and others wounded, even though there was no battle.

Col. Green realized that if the Indians could be kept from the water,
they would have to surrender or leave the stronghold, and he held on
with the tenacity of a bulldog. During the night the squaws went out
under the lines and returned with a load of snow, but the warm spell of
weather melted the snow rapidly and soon this source was cut off. Still
the outlaws held on, and for three days and nights, pressed in by men
and guns on every side, subjected to a fire from four sides, with five
mortars and three howitzers raining shells upon them, they held to the
"hole in the wall" that had been for ages their salvation and their
safeguard. The constant rain of bursting shells had filled the caves and
crevices of the lava beds with smoke, and cut off from water, on the
night of the third day they quietly slipped out from under Gen. Gillem's
lines and left--no one knew where.

It may appear incredible, but it is true, that during all this battle of
three days and nights, amid the hum of tons of leaden bullets and the
bursting of countless shells, not a single Indian was killed. We must
except one buck who started in to investigate an unexploded shell. That
buck was going to "get 'um powder and lead out" with file and hatchet,
and was scattered out over the rocks for his inquisitiveness. But the
other Indians were nowhere to be seen. They had passed out under the
line of troops as ants would pass through a sponge. The troops took
possession of the lava beds, the stronghold, but the Indians were gone.
It yet remained for Gen. Gillem to learn another lesson in Indian

When the news was received by Gov. Grover that the Indians had left the
stronghold and that the settlers were again exposed, he ordered out two
companies of volunteers, one from Douglas county under Capt. Rodgers and
the other from Jackson county under Capt. Hizer. I was not ordered at
the time to accompany the volunteers, the "mad-cap from Salem" was to be
left behind, but not for long. In spite of the abuse of enemies, mostly
those fellows who sought safety with women and children behind strong
stockades, and the declaration of Mr. Meacham that I was responsible for
the slaughter of men on the 17th of January, "when the brave, reckless,
madcap, Col. Thompson, drove his men against the lines of the Modocs," I
was again sent to the front. In my letters and newspaper articles I had
severely censured Mr. Meacham and he took revenge in his "Wigwam and
Warpath" by declaring the mad-cap was to blame for the slaughter. I
never met him but once after the close of the war and that was in the
library of the old Russ House in San Francisco, where I had gone to call
upon a couple of friends. This was in August after the close of the war.
He was walking back and forth in the library, his head yet bandaged
where the Indians had started to scalp him, when he suddenly turned and
said, "Col. Thompson. I want to speak to you." I excused myself to
Rollin P. Saxe, one of my friends, and walked up to Mr. Meacham. He said
"I had made up my mind to shoot you on sight." Then hesitating an
instant, continued, "but I have changed my mind." "Perhaps," I replied,
"Mr. Meacham, it is fortunate for you or I that you have changed your
mind." He then went on to detail how I had abused him. I said, "Mr.
Meacham, before God, you are responsible for the death of Gen. Canby, a
noble man and soldier, and I don't know how many others." After
conversing some time we separated, never to meet again.

But to return to the war. On the 18th Gen. Gillem sent out Col. Thomas
and Major Wright on a scouting expedition in the lava region to discover
if possible the whereabouts of the savages. The scouting party numbered
sixty-two men, including Lieutenants Cranston, Harve, and Harris.
Instead of sending out experienced men, these men were sent to be
slaughtered, as the result demonstrated. Gillem was not only incompetent
personally, but was jealous of every man, citizen or regular, who was
competent. The party scouted around through the lava for a distance of
several miles. They saw no Indians or sign of Indians. The hostiles had
fled and were nowhere to be found. They sat down to eat their lunch.
They were quietly surrounded and at the first fire the soldiers, as is
almost always the case, became panic stricken. The officers bravely
strove to stem the tide of panic, but hopelessly. The panic became a
rout and the rout a massacre, and of the sixty-two men who were sent out
that morning but two were alive, and they were desperately wounded.

Had any one of the old experienced officers, like Green, Mason, Perry,
Bernard or Hasbrook been sent on this duty a massacre would have been
impossible. They would never have been caught off their guard and the
sickening massacre would have been averted. The very fact of no Indians
in sight would have taught these men caution.

The entire command of Gen. Gillem now became demoralized, and desertions
were by the wholesale. Gen. Gillem fortified his camp at the foot of the
bluff, and surrounded it with a rock wall. His communications were cut
off and his trains captured and destroyed. "Gillem's Camp" was a fort as
well as a "graveyard." Trains of wagons were captured, the wagons burned
and the animals taken away. The Indians daily fired on his picket line.

Such was the deplorable conditions of affairs when Gen. Jeff C. Davis
assumed command. Davis was eminently fitted for the task assigned him.
He at once restored confidence among the disheartened and beaten men. He
declared if there was to be more massacres he would know who to blame,
and led the scouting parties in person. The camp at "Gillem's Graveyard"
was broken up, and leaving a force to hold the stronghold he began
scouting and searching for the enemy. He went with six men to search for
traces of the hostiles. His action restored confidence, and the men
manifested a spirit of fight. Donald McKay and his Wascos were sent to
circle the lava beds. That night his signal fires informed Gen. Davis
that the Modocs had deserted the lava beds. All available cavalry were
sent in pursuit. The command of Capt. Hasbrook had been out all day, and
was accompanied by Donald McKay's Indians. Arriving at Dry Lake, then
politely called Sauress Lake, they found that there was no water. Wells
were dug but to no purpose, and McKay and his Indians were sent back to
Boyles' camp for water.

From Dry Lake to Boyles' camp the distance was about twelve miles. With
a pack train McKay was in no hurry; as a matter of fact, Donald was
never in a hurry when there was danger about. He was an arrant coward,
but had some brave men of the Wascos with him. I speak advisedly of what
I know.

Capt. Hasbrook's command went into camp feeling secure, as the Indians
were in hiding. But Hasbrook, old soldier as he was, had a lesson to
learn. During the night a dog, belonging to the packers, kept growling.
The boss of the train, Charley Larengel, went to the officer of the
guard and told him the Indians were about and that they would certainly
be attacked at daylight. Mr. Larengel told me that the officer treated
his advice with indifference, not to say contempt. The "boss of the pack
train was unduly alarmed, there were no Indians around." But Charley
Larengel knew a thing or two. He had been with Crook and knew that
hostiles did not come out, shake their red blankets and dare the
soldiers to a fight, so he barricaded his camp, using the apparajos as
breast works and told the packers to "let the mules go to the devil. We
must look out for ourselves."

Just as day began to break over the desolate hills, the fun began. From
three sides the Indians poured into the camp a withering fire. As a
result the entire command became panic stricken. Seven men were knocked
down, almost at the first fire, and it has always been a matter of
surprise to me that Hasbrook, old campaigner as he was, should be caught
off his guard. It began to look like another Wright-Thomas massacre.
Captain Jack stood well out of harm's way, dressed in the uniform of
Gen. Canby, and giving orders. It was surely another massacre.

But the Modocs had not seen Donald McKay and his Wascos leave the camp
the evening before, nor were they aware that he was within striking
distance that morning, at a most critical time. Hearing the firing and
yells McKay left his pack animals, and under the leadership of Captain
George, chief of the Wascos, attacked the Modocs in the rear.

From a rout of the soldiers it became a rout of the Modocs. They quickly
fled and Jack was the first man to run. This brought on dissensions, for
the Hot Creeks claimed they had to do all the fighting, all the guard
duty, had, in fact, to endure all the hardships, while old Jack in his
gold braided uniform stood at a safe distance giving orders. During the
dispute Hooker Jim shot at, or attempted to shoot Jack.

The Modocs, or renegades were now out of the lava beds, and with
soldiers and volunteers practically surrounding them, and with
dissensions in their own camp, the band broke up. Jack and his band went
in a northeast direction, closely followed by Hasbrook and McKay's
Indians, and two days later surrendered.

The Hot Creeks went around the lower end of Tule Lake and surrendered to
Gen. Davis at the Fairchilds-Doten ranch. Hooker Jim, followed them and
seeing they were not massacred by the soldiers, determined to surrender.
Yet this Indian, one of the worst of the band of outlaws, was an outlaw
to every human being on earth. He dared not go to Jack's band, his own
party had disowned and tried to kill him. He watched the band from the
bald hills above the ranch enter the camp of the soldiers. He saw they
were not massacred. He then made up his mind to surrender. He fixed in
his mind the tent of Gen. Davis. Crawling as close to the line of
pickets as possible, he raised his gun above his head and yelling "Me
Hooker Jim," ran through the lines, among soldiers, and up to the tent
door of Gen. Davis, threw down his gun, and said, "me Hooker Jim, I give

In speaking of the surrender, Gen. Davis said to me: "Here was a man, an
outlaw to every human being on earth, throwing down his rifle and
saying, "me Hooker Jim, me give up." He stood before me as stolid as a
bronze. I have seen some grand sights, but taking everything into
consideration, that was the grandest sight I ever witnessed."

Hasbrook followed relentlessly Jack's band and captured them in the
canyon below Steel Swamp. Jack was an arrant coward, but old Sconchin,
whose bows and arrows I retain as a souvenir, and which were presented
to me by a sergeant of the troop, was a fighter, and would have died

Chapter XIV.

Trailing the Fugitives.

While all this was going on I was riding from Salem, Oregon, "Gov.
Grover's mad-cap Colonel," as Jas. D. Fay, Harvey Scott of the
Oregonian, and some other of my enemies, designated me. Fay did not like
me and I happened to to be with Senator Nesmith when he caned Harvey
Scott in the Chemeketa Hotel at Salem. My meeting with Senator Nesmith
was accidental, but Scott never forgave me, nor did he in fact neglect
any opportunity to "lambaste" me after that time.

But to return to my trip. The Oregon volunteers had been ordered out,
with General Ross in command. The murderers of the 17 settlers along the
shores of Tule Lake had been indicted by the Grand jury of Jackson
County, Oregon. The Governor demanded the surrender of the murderers
from the United States authorities. The murderers were not yet captured
but we knew it was only a matter of days. I left Salem on Thursday and
went by train to Roseburg that evening. There I took the stage, and
telegraphing ahead for horses at Jacksonville found a magnificent saddle
horse awaiting me. Did you ever travel from Salem to Roseburg by train
and then by stage to Jacksonville through the long weary night?

If so you will have some faint idea of my condition. Arriving at
Jacksonville I lost no time in proceeding on my journey. That night I
rode to Coldwells' place, sometimes called the Soda Springs. The next
morning at 4 o'clock, after only about 4 hours' rest in 48, I started on
my journey. I knew how to ride a horse, how to save him and how to rest
him. At the head of "Green Springs" I met a Government courier. He told
me that Gen. Ross had left Linkville that morning with his entire

Thanking the courier, I then began to ride, and at precisely half past
11 o'clock was shaking hands with Alex Miller at Linkville. I had ridden
one horse 55 miles that morning over a range of mountains. Mr. Miller
asked me, when did you leave Salem?"

"Day before yesterday noon," I replied.

"If I did not have all kinds of respect for you I would call you a liar"
remarked Mr. Miller. Just them J. B. Neil and Mr. Jackson, District
Attorney and Sheriff of Jackson County came up, and showing these
gentlemen my papers with the dates, stopped all further discussion of
the matter. But I said, "Alex, I want the best horse in Linkville, for I
am going to overtake Gen. Ross tonight."

"You shall have not only the best horse in Linkville, but the best horse
in the State of Oregon." A ride of 45 miles that evening accompanied by
Mr. Neil and Mr. Jackson, convinced me that Alex. Miller told me the
truth. We reached the headquarters of Gen. Ross late in the night. I had
ridden that day 95 miles on two horses, and I want here to plead guilty
to cruelty to animals. The horse I rode into Linkville, to use the
common expression, "quit," and the only means I could use to get a "move
on," was to shoot the tips of his ears off with my revolver. I will say
further that this is the only instance in my life when I was cruel to a
dumb brute, but I justified myself then and now on the grounds of

Arriving at Headquarters, "for the night," as the General expressed it,
the next morning we took up the trail of a band of Jack's renegades.
Black Jim, one of the worst of the band of murderers, headed the band.
There were only about twenty men in the outfit, and the only means we
had of following them was by a crutch used by an Indian shot by John
Fairchilds on the 17th of January. Late one evening, in fact just at
sundown, we lost the trail. We had tracked the stick to a juniper tree,
but there lost it. Finally one of our boys discovered a hand up in the
juniper and leveling his gun, told him to come down.

After some parley the Indian came down. Gen. Ross and I told him we were
chiefs and that all Indians surrendering would be protected. A hundred
yards away, somewhere between Tule Lake and Langel Valley, there was a
rim rock, and in this the Indians were hiding. On assurance from our
juniper tree man they finally surrendered. Only Black Jim showed any
hesitancy, but the muzzle of a 50 caliber Springfield answered as a
magnificent persuader.

We then returned to Tule Lake, sending for Mrs. Body and Mrs. Schira to
identify the murderers of their families. We were still on the Oregon
side of the line, but much to our disappointment neither of the ladies
could identify any of the men. We had Black Jim but the ladies did not
and could not identify him. We therefore took them to the headquarters
of Gen. Davis and surrendered them at the Peninsula.

We arrived about 10 o'clock. I went to the tent of Gen. Wheaton and told
him my business. Mr. Neil and Mr. Jackson were with me. Gen. Wheaton
took us up to the tent of Gen. Davis and introduced us. I presented to
Gen. Davis my papers and told him that the officers of the law were
there. The General replied, as nearly as I can remember, "Colonel, I
will deliver them to you at any time after 2 o'clock, at least, I will
deliver to you their bodies." I simply replied, "that is entirely
satisfactory, both to the officers present, the Governor of Oregon and
to your humble servant."

He then told me that he had the timbers all framed and ready to put
together and intended to hang all the murderers promptly at 2 o'clock.

While we were talking a courier arrived with dispatches from the
Secretary of War instructing him to hold the murderers until further
orders. All were astounded, but a soldier has no choice but to obey
orders. Gen. Davis was angry, and remarked to me that if he "had any way
of making a living for his family outside of the army he would resign

Mrs. Body, Mrs. Schira, Mrs. Brotherton were all there. Their entire
families had been wiped out-butchered. The Indians took a large amount
of jewelry, pictures, and more than $4,000 in money. A tent had been
spread for the ladies and Gen. Davis had ordered a tent, with tables,
chairs, bed, writing material, etc., arranged for my convenience. The
correspondent of the New York Herald was living at the sutler's tent, in
fact, with good old Pat McManus.

Mrs. Body and Mrs. Schira had also been provided with a tent. They sent
to Gen. Davis and asked that they be permitted to talk with Black Jim,
Hooker Jim and one or two others. They said that possibly some of the
family relics could be reclaimed. The order was issued and the General
and I were talking of the awful results of the war and its blunders.

Suddenly Fox of the New York Herald called at the door of Gen. Davis'
tent and said, "the women are going to kill the Indians." Both of us
sprang from the tent door and rushed to the tent where the women were
domiciled. Davis was ahead of me. I saw Mrs. Schira with a double edged
knife poised. Hooker Jim was standing fronting the women, as stolid as a
bronze. Mrs. Schira's mother was attempting to cock a revolver. Gen.
Davis made a grab for the knife, catching the blade in his right hand
and in the struggle his hand was badly lacerated. A surgeon was called
who dressed the wounded hand, and then we all went to dinner at "Boyles'
mess." At the dinner table were seated about forty officers, men grown
gray in the service of their country and young Lieutenants just out from
West Point. The latter, as is always the case, were in full uniform,
while the old fellows wore little or nothing that would indicate their
calling or rank. During dinner one of the young men made some slighting
remark about the conduct of the women in attempting to kill the Indians,
characterizing their act as unwarranted and a breach of respect to the

Instantly Gen. Davis pushed back from the table and rose to feet, fire
flashing from his eyes, and if ever a young upstart received a lecture
that young officer received one. I was sitting to the left of Gen. Davis
while Jesse Applegate, one of the "Makers of Oregon," sat at his right.
The General spoke of the women as the wife and daughter of a
frontiersman, and before whom stood the bloody handed butcher of
husbands and sons. It was one of the most eloquent, at the same time one
of the most withering addresses that it has ever been my fortune to
hear. Resuming his seat the General continued his conversation with
those about him, but there were no more remarks, you may be assured,
upon this incident.

The next morning at daylight the orderly to Gen. Davis came to my tent
and awaking me said that the General wanted to see me at once. Hastily
dressing I walked over to the General's tent. He was sitting on the side
of his camp bed, partly undressed. Jas. Fairchilds was sitting in the
tent talking as I entered. The General asked him to repeat to me what he
had been saying. Mr. Fairchilds then proceeded to relate that a bunch of
Indians, four bucks and a lot of women and children, had come in to the
ranch and surrendered. He had loaded them into a wagon and started to
the Peninsula to turn them over to the military authorities. When within
about six miles of his destination he was headed off by two men who were
disguised past identification. They ordered him to stop and unhitch his
team and after doing so was told to drive the horses up the road. When
about thirty yards away he was ordered to stop. The men then began
killing the Indians while he stood looking on and holding to his team.
After firing a dozen shots into the wagon, the men rode away, telling
him to remain there and not to leave. He remained until dark and then
mounting one of his horses rode to camp.

While we were talking Donald McKay came up and accused the volunteers of
the massacre. I told Gen. Davis that it was impossible that the
volunteers could have committed the crime. McKay was drunk and swaggered
around a great deal and finally asked the General to let him take his
Indians and follow the volunteers and bring them back.

Becoming angered at the talk and swagger of McKay I told the General to
let him go, and plainly told McKay that I would go with him. That he,
McKay, was an arrant coward and could not take any one, much less a
company of one hundred men. I then expressed my belief to Gen. Davis
that the killing had been done by some of the settlers whose relatives
had been massacred by the savages; that Gen. Ross had gone around the
south end of the lake and that Capt. Hizer must have been many miles on
his road towards Linkville.

I told him, however, that I would make an investigation and if possible
bring the perpetrators of the act to justice. Mounting my horse I rode
rapidly back to where the wagon was standing in the road. The women and
children were still in the wagon with their dead, not one of them having
moved during the night. It was a most ghastly sight, the blood from the
dead Indians had run through the wagon bed, and made a broad, red streak
for twenty yards down the road. Soon after my arrival Donald McKay rode
up, and I ordered him to go to the lake and get some water for the
women, one of whom had been severely wounded. Soon after his return with
the water Mr. Fairchilds came with the team and all were taken to the
camp. The woman was not seriously hurt, but the four bucks were
literally shot to pieces.

I remained several days at the Peninsula, making an excursion into the
lava beds in company with Capt. Bancroft of the artillery, and with
Bogus Chancy as guide. We explored many of the caves, at least as far as
we were able with poor lighting material at our command. I then started
to overtake the volunteers, coming up with them before reaching
Jacksonville, where Capt. Hizer's company was discharged. Capt. Rogers,
of the Douglas county company, was discharged at Roseburg. After this I
returned to my newspaper work at Salem, Oregon.

The Indians were moved from Boyles' Camp at the Peninsula to Fort
Klamath where five of them, Jack, Sconchin, Black Jim, Hooker Jim and
Boston Charley were all executed on the same gallows. One of the
murderers of the Peace Commission, "Curley Headed Doctor," committed
suicide on the road to Klamath. The remainder of the Indians were then
moved to the Indian Territory, where the remnants now live.

Thus ended the farce-tragedy of the Modoc war, a farce so far as
misguided enthusiasts and mock humanitarians could make it in extending
the olive branch of peace to redhanded murderers. And a tragedy, in that
from first to last the war had cost the lives of nearly four hundred men
and about five millions of dollars.

The foregoing pages describe in simple language what I saw of the Modoc
war. Several so-called histories have been written purporting to be true
histories. One by A. B. Meacham in his "Wigwam and Warpath." Meacham
wrote with the view of justifying all that Meacham did and said. It was,
in fact, written in self defense. Another, by one "Captain Drehan," who
claimed to have been "Chief of Scouts." The gallant Captain was simply a
monumental romancer. No such man served at any time during the war.
Donald McKay was chief of scouts, and the exploits of Drehan existed
only in his own imagination. I was personally acquainted with all the
officers and know that no such man was there. For the truth of all I
have said I simply refer the Doubting Thomases to the official reports
on file at Washington.

Chapter XV.

The Great Bannock War.

The last Indian war worthy of mention broke out in the spring of 1877.
It was preceded by none of the acts of outlawry which usually are a
prelude to savage outbreaks. There were none of the rumblings of the
coming storm which are almost invariable accompaniments of these
upheavals. Indeed, it came with the suddenness of a great conflagration,
and before the scattered settlers of western Idaho and eastern Oregon
were aware of danger, from a thousand to twelve hundred plumed and
mounted warriors were sweeping the country with the fierceness of a

As a rule the young and impatient warriors, thirsting for blood, fame
and the property of the white man, to say nothing of scalps, begin to
commit acts of outlawry before the plans of older heads are ripe for
execution. These acts consist of petty depredations, the stealing of
horses, killing of stock, and occasional murder of white men for arms
and ammunition. But in the case of the great Shoshone, or Bannock,
outbreak, there were none of these signs of the coming storm. Settlers
were therefore taken completely by surprise. Many were murdered, their
property stolen or destroyed, while others escaped as best they could.

From observation and experience I make the assertion that nine of every
ten Indian outbreaks are fomented by the "Medicine" men. These men are
at the same time both priest and doctor. They not only ward off the "bad
spirits," and cure the sick, but they forecast events. They deal out
"good medicine," to ward off the bullets of the white man, and by
jugglery and by working upon the superstitions of their followers,
impress them with the belief that they possess supernatural powers.

This was especially conspicuous in the Pine Ridge outbreak. The medicine
men made their deluded followers believe the white men were all to be
killed, that the cattle were to be turned to buffalo and that the red
man would again possess the country as their fathers had possessed it
in the long ago, and that all the dead and buried warriors were to
return to life. This doctrine was preached from the borders of Colorado
and the Dakotas to the Pacific, and from British Columbia to the
grottoes of the Gila. The doctrine probably had its origin in the
ignorant preaching of the religion of the Savior by honest but ignorant
Indian converts. They told their hearers of the death, burial and
resurrection of the Son of Man. The medicine men seized upon the idea
and preached a new religion and a new future for the red man.
Missionaries were sent from tribe to tribe to preach and teach the new
doctrine, and everywhere found willing converts.

The craze started in Nevada, among the Shoshones, and in a remarkably
short time spread throughout the tribes on both sides of the Rocky
Mountains. Lieutenant Strothers of the United States Army and I talked
with Piute Indians in Modoc County, after the "ghost dance" scare had
subsided, who were firm in the belief that a chief of the Piutes died
and then came back. They assured us that they had talked with a man who
had seen him, and that there could be no mistake. But they said: "Maybe
so; he did not know. The white man medicine heap too strong for Ingin."

So it was with the Bannocks. Their medicine men taught that the white
man was to be destroyed, that his horses, his cattle and his houses and
land were to revert to the original owners of the country. Accordingly
few houses were burned throughout the raid of several hundred miles.
Even the fences around the fields were not destroyed, but were left to
serve their purposes when the hated white man should be no more. The few
exceptions were where white men were caught in their homes and it was
necessary to burn the buildings in order to kill the owners. The home of
old man Smith in Happy Valley, on the north side of Stein Mountain, the
French ranch in Harney and the Cummins ranch on the John Day were
exceptions. In the fights at these places some of the Indians were
killed and the houses were burned out of revenge. With characteristic
Indian wantonness and wastefulness hundreds of cattle were shot down,
only the tongue being taken out for food. They, however, would come back
as buffalo and cover the land with plenty. But horses were everywhere
taken, and when that armed, mounted and tufted host debouched into
Harney Valley they had a mighty herd of from seven to ten thousand

The Bannocks, under their noted chief, Buffalo Horn, left their
reservation in Idaho and at once began the work of murder and plunder.
Buffalo Horn had served under Howard during a portion of the Nez Perce
war, but left him because of his dilatory tactics and his refusal to
attack when he had the enemy at his mercy. He told Col. Reddington, who
was following Howard as correspondent of the Oregonian and New York
Herald, that Howard did not know how to fight, that next summer he would
fight and show him how to make war.

About the same time, the Shoshones, under Egan and Otis, left their
reservation and united their forces in Harney Valley, numbering at that
time from a thousand to twelve hundred warriors. They were encumbered,
however, by their women and children and a vast herd of stock, and as a
result moved slowly. Meantime the scattered detachments of troops were
being concentrated and sent in pursuit. But while this was being done
the tufted host swept a belt thirty miles wide through western Idaho and
eastern Oregon, spreading death and destruction in its path. At Happy
Valley they killed old man Smith and his son. Both had escaped with
their families to Camp Harney, but had imprudently returned to gather up
their horses and bring away a few household effects. Another brother and
a young man had accompanied them, but had turned aside to look for
stock. The two young men arrived at the ranch after nightfall. It was
very dark, and before they were aware of the fact they rode into a herd
of horses. But supposing they were animals gathered by the father and
brother, rode on. When near the center a mighty wail smote their ears.
Some of the Indians had been killed by the Smiths, and the women were
wailing a funeral dirge. One who has never heard that wail cannot
imagine its rhythmic terrors.

When the appalling noise broke upon their ears the young man with Smith
started to wheel his horse and flee. But Smith caught the bridle reins
and whispered to him, "For God's sake don't run," and, holding to the
reins, quietly rode out of the herd, the darkness of the night alone
proving their salvation.

At the French ranch on Blixen River an attack was made by a detached war
party, but Mr. French saved himself and men by cool daring and steady
bravery. All were endeavoring to make their escape, French holding the
Indians at bay while the others fled along the road. He was the only man
armed in the crowd, and at turns in the road would make a stand,
checking for a time the savages. The Chinese cook was killed and left
where he fell, being horribly mutilated by the Indians. Most of the men
with French were in wagons, and only for the bravery displayed by him
would certainly have been killed.

About the same time two men were coming out with teams, and hearing of
the Indian raid, left their wagons and fled to the Shirk ranch in Catlow
Valley. After a few days they returned for their wagons, being
accompanied by W. H. Shirk, now a banker at Lakeview, Oregon. The wagons
were found as left, and after hitching up the horses, Mr. Shirk rode on
ahead, imprudently leaving his rifle in one of the wagons. On the grade
above the Blixen ranch Shirk looked back and saw the men coming and had
little thought of danger. The men drove up to the crossing, when they
were fired upon and both killed. Mr. Shirk was also fired upon, but
miraculously escaped death. An Indian on a fleet horse was pursuing him,
and his own horse was lagging. As he neared the sage brush toward which
he had been making, Mr. Shirk looked back and to his relief saw the
Indian off his horse. He thinks the horse fell with the Indian, but they
pursued him no farther and he made good his escape. Many other
miraculous escapes were made by both men and women, some of the latter
escaping almost in their night clothes and on barebacked horses.

During all this time the scattered forces of the department were being
concentrated and sent in pursuit. That indomitable old Scotch hero and
Indian fighter, Bernard--who had risen from a government blacksmith to
the rank of Colonel of cavalry--who believed that the best way to subdue
Indians was to fight and kill them and not to run them to death--was
following with four companies of cavalry, numbering 136 men. Behind him
was Gen. Howard, with 400 infantry, but with his ox teams and dilatory
tactics managed to herd them two days ahead. As the cavalry under
Bernard drew near, the Indians called in all detached parties and
concentrated their forces. On the 7th of June Pete French joined Bernard
with 65 ranchers and cowboys.

Bernard had been ordered by Gen. Howard not to attack, but to wait until
he came up. At old Camp Curry, on the western side of Harney Valley, or
more properly speaking, on Silver Creek, on the evening of the 7th,
Bernard's scouts reported the Indians encamped in the valley, at the
Baker ranch, seven miles away. In spite of orders, Bernard, always
spoiling for a fight, determined to make the attack at daylight. His
four companies numbered 136 men, besides French's volunteers. Bernard
had no confidence in the French contingent and declined to permit them
to accompany his command in the attack. He directed French, however, to
make a dash for the horse herd and if possible capture the animals,
while with his regulars he would charge the main camp. Bernard
afterwards, in explanation of his disobedience of orders, claimed that
he was misled by his scouts.

Bernard broke camp two hours before daylight, or about two o'clock in
the morning. He reached the camp just at break of day. Evidently the
Indians were not prepared for him, and "Little Bearskin Dick," one of
the chiefs, rode out with a white flag in his hand. Bernard had already
made a talk to his men, especially to the recruits, telling them they
might as well be killed by the Indians as by him, as he would kill the
first man that flinched. As Dick rode up, Bernard spoke to a sargeant
and asked him if he was going to "let the black rascal ride over him."
Instantly several carbines rang out and "Little Bearskin Dick" for the
first time in his life was a "good Indian."

At the same instant the bugle sounded the charge, and the troops bore
down upon the encampment, firing their rifles first and then drawing
their revolvers and firing as they swept through the great camp. But
Bernard had not been fully informed regarding the lay of the camp. After
sweeping through he discovered to his dismay that the Indians were
encamped on the margin of an impenetrable swamp--in a semi-circle, as
it were, and he could go no farther. Nothing dismayed, the column
wheeled and rode helter-skelter back the road they had come, this time
his men using their sabres. When clear of the camp Bernard turned his
attention to the men under Pete French. The latter had gotten into a
"hot box," two of his men had been killed and one or two wounded and
required help. Bernard was not slow in giving it, and when all were
safely joined, Bernard dismounted his men and fought the Indians for
several hours with his carbines.

The loss sustained by Bernard in the charge and subsequent engagement
was four men killed and several wounded, not counting the loss sustained
by French. Bernard continued to hover near the Indians throughout the
day. He had taught them a lesson they would not forget. Those terrible
troopers on open ground, they discovered, could go where they liked, and
that nothing could stop them. Accordingly toward night they withdrew to
a rim rock, protected on three sides by high perpendicular walls. The
neck of their fort was then fortified and the savages felt they could
bid defiance to the fierce troopers. In this fight the Indians lost
heavily, forty-two bodies being pulled out of a crevice in the rim rock
where they had been concealed. Among this number was Buffalo Horn, the
greatest leader of the hostiles.

Toward evening Gen. Howard arrived within seven miles of the hostiles.
Bernard sent a courier telling of the position of the Indians and that
with reinforcements and howitzers under Howard the surrender could be
forced in a few hours, or days at most. They had entrapped themselves,
and without water must surrender at the discretion of the soldiers. Gen.
Howard, however, complained that his troops were worn out, that he could
not come up until the following day, and ended by ordering the command
under Bernard to return to his camp. This was Gen. Howard's first fatal
blunder, to be followed by others equally as serious. The Indians
remained in their position until the next day, when they moved out
towards the head of the South Fork of the John Day River. They camped on
Buck Mountain three days while Howard was resting his troops. They then
moved out leisurely to the north, keeping in the rough mountains to be
out of the reach of Bernard's terrible cavalry.

Meanwhile Gen. Howard followed, keeping pace with the Indians. His men
were mostly employed in grading roads through the rough, broken country
to enable his ox teams to follow. Some have questioned this statement.
But I saw with my own eyes the road down Swamp Creek and the mountain
road leading down to the South John Day River, seven miles south of the
mouth of Murderer's Creek. At the South John Day crossing he again laid
over three days while the Indians were resting at the Stewart ranch,
seven miles away. Think of an army following a horde of Indians through
one of the roughest countries imaginable! No wonder that the fiery
Bernard hovered close up to them, ready to strike when opportunity and
an excuse for disobeying orders was presented.

Rumors of the coming of the Indians had reached John Day Valley, and my
old friend Jim Clark gathered a force of 26 men and started out to
discover, if possible, which way the Indians were heading. At Murderer's
Creek he ran into them almost before he knew it. They were not the
skulking Indians of former years, armed with bows and arrows, but
fierce, wild horsemen, armed with modern weapons. In a running fight
that followed, a young man named Aldrige was killed and Jim Clark's
horse shot from, under him. He escaped into the brush and defended
himself so successfully, more than one of the redskins biting the dust,
that when night closed in he made his way on foot through the brush to
the river and followed the stream all night, wading and swimming it
twenty-six times. The balance of his command escaped by outrunning their
pursuers and all reached the valley in safety.

As soon as the news spread, the women and children were sent to Canyon
City and something over a hundred men gathered at the ranch of a man
named Cummins. The latter had seen some service and was elected captain.
Some were horseback and others had come in wagons. While the men were
making final preparations for starting out in search of Jim Clark, a
horseman was seen riding along the side of the mountain to the east of
the Cummins ranch. Warren Cassner pointed to the horseman and asked
Cummins what it meant. "Oh, I guess it is a sheep herder," replied the
old man. "A queer looking sheep herder," replied Cassner, and mounting
his horse started out to make an investigation. West of the Cummins
house the river was lined with tall cottonwoods which obscured a view of
the bald mountain side beyond. As Cassner raised the side of the
mountain, enabling him to look over and beyond the cottonwoods, he
discovered that the whole mountain side was covered with Indians. Twelve
hundred Indians and eight thousand head of horses blackened the side of
the slope. He called to the men below to get out. At the same time he
saw a party of Indians cutting him off from his men.

Then began a race seldom witnessed in Indian or any other kind of
warfare. Men on horseback fled for dear life, while others piled into
wagons and followed as fast as teams could travel. But Cummins was a
brave man and had a cool head. He succeeded in rallying a half dozen
horsemen and at points on the road made such a determined stand that the
wagons were enabled to escape. At one point Emil Scheutz was standing by
the side of Cummins, when some Indians that had worked around to the
side fired a volley, one of the bullets ripping a trench in Scheutz's
breast that one could lay his arm into. Scheutz staggered and told
Cummins he was shot. The latter helped him to mount his horse and amid a
rain of bullets fled for life. That was the last stand. But only for the
fact that Bernard had followed the Indians closely, preventing them from
scattering, all would have been massacreed. As it was most of the men
kept running until Canyon City was reached, each imagining the fellow
behind an Indian.

At the Cassner ranch many halted and were that evening joined by Col.
Bernard with his cavalry. Bernard was told that there were six hundred
Umatilla Indians at Fox Valley only a few miles from the John Day River,
and knowing that they were only waiting to be joined by the Bannocks,
determined to attack the latter before reaching them. He was told that
the Bannock's must pass through a canyon to reach Fox Valley. That was
his opportunity, and he had sounded "boots and saddles" when Gen.
Howard, surrounded by a strong body guard, rode up and ordered him to
remain where he was. This was an awful blunder, and cost the lives of a
number of settlers in Fox Valley. They, all unconscious of danger, were
resting in fancied security when the Bannocks arrived, fraternized with
the Umatillas and butchered them in cold blood.

But Gen. Howard had made a still more serious blunder. Gen. Grover was
coming into John Day Valley with 400 troops and had reached Prairie
City, south of Canyon City, and about 45 miles from the Cummins Ranch.

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