Collection: Massacres of the Mountains

Olive and Mary Outman Driven North

While Lorenzo was making his weary way along the road, his sisters, Olive and Mary, were being driven across the desert north of the Gila by the Indians. As soon as the work of plunder was completed the savages moved away a short distance, made a fire, and prepared a supper of bean soup and ash baked bread. The girls could not eat. After the meal the Indians diverted themselves by terrifying little Mary. They would threaten and scowl at her until, in an agony of nervous fear, she would run to her sister’s arms, sobbing wildly. Then they would brandish their clubs and frighten her into silence. For an hour they remained at this place, from which the children could see the bows of the wagon, in the moonlight, marking the spot of the massacre. They were oppressed with grief and suspense. The events of the past hour were so horrible that older persons might well have been overwhelmed by them. All their kindred – father, mother, sisters, and brothers – they had seen fall beneath the clubs of their captors. For themselves was absolute uncertainty as to their future fate, with all the apprehensions of torture that their childish knowledge of Indian customs could bring them. Another element of torture was soon to be added – it was bodily suffering. The Indians took from them their hats...

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Management of the California Indian Reservations

The management of these reservations was under one of the ablest Indian rings ever known in America.’ Not a reliable report went in to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for five years, but their work was so well done that they received compliments for their able accounts of their labors. The total number of Indians was scandalously exaggerated, as we have seen, and the number at the reservations in like manner. So far as can be learned, not more than 2000 Indians were subsisted at the reservations at any time, and they drew principally on the oak trees, the manzanita bushes, and the clover fields for their rations. The great majority of the Indians were quietly earning their living as vaqueros and farmhands, or picking it up in the mountains, as they had before the government began civilizing them. Fabulous numbers of acres were reported to be under cultivation, and magnificent crops were always just about to be harvested when blight or mildew or smut or drought intervened and ruined them. A small army of employees was on hand to instruct the Indians and defend the agency in case of outbreak, and the agent or employee who failed to get a claim of his own, and have it fenced and improved by Indian labor, was a man of no enterprise. In 1858, in consequence of repeated charges and protestations...

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The Curse of Gold

Two months had passed after the tragedy at Wailatpu, and the volunteers were still at The Dalles, when an event occurred that revolutionized the Pacific coast, changed the course of affairs throughout the United States, and visibly affected the entire world. It was the discovery of gold in California, or rather the discovery that it existed in quantity. The Spaniards had long known that there was gold in the country, and Mr. Dana, with Wilkes’s exploring expedition, had picked up auriferous rock in Oregon and on the Sacramento, but no one thought it to be in paying quantity, and no attention was paid to it. The Mormons claim to have worked the placers before Marshall made his discovery, but their story is either untrue, or so adulterated with untruth as to deserve no credence, besides being contrary to other evidence. The account of their discovery, as published in September, 1854, by George M. Evans, the professed discoverer, is, in substance, as follows: During the month of October or November, 1845, in a house or groggery on Pacific Street, San Francisco (as it is now called), a Mexican, who was called ‘Salvador,’ was shot because he had a bag of gold dust, described as about one thousand to two thousand dollars, and would not tell where he got it. At last, when dying, he pointed in the direction of San...

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No Catholics were Injured during Massacre

During the massacre at Wailatpu and the succeeding troubles, no employee of the Hudson’s Bay Company, no relative of such employees, no Catholic, and no one who professed friendship for Catholicism, was in any way injured. A heated dispute arose afterwards as to the relation of the company and the Jesuits to the murderer. Preliminary to a view of this question, it may be remarked that very little instigation would have been necessary to induce the Indians to act as they did. Sickness, from ills which were new to the Indians, was very prevalent and unusually fatal. Mr. Spalding says: “It was most distressing to go into a lodge of some ten fires and count twenty or twenty-five, some in the midst of measles, others in the last stage of dysentery, in the midst of every kind of filth, of itself sufficient to cause sickness, with no suitable means to alleviate their inconceivable sufferings, with, perhaps, one well person to look after the wants of two sick ones. They were dying every day, one, two, and sometimes five in a day, with dysentery, which very generally followed the measles. Everywhere the sick and dying were pointed to Jesus, and the well were urged to prepare for death.” Although sickness was equally prevalent among the Americans – “Suapies” or ” Bostons,” as the Indians called them – the Indians professed...

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Murder of the Missionaries

We will now leave New Mexico for a time and see what is being done in Oregon. As we make this change of position let as examine the country and its inhabitants, in a general way. Suppose we can rise in the air to a convenient height and take a bird’s-eye view of the entire region. We are now over the southeastern corner of the mountain country. Directly north from as runs the great continental divide, until it reaches about the 48th parallel of latitude, just west of the site of the future city of Cheyenne; there it turns...

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Settling the Mountains

About half a century has elapsed since the idea of possessing and settling the Rocky Mountain region began to develop in the minds of the American people. Before that time it existed only as a speculative belief of farsighted men, or a daring hope of adventurous ones. We then owned but little of our present western territory. On the south and west our boundary was the present eastern border of Texas, with the line of the ” Panhandle ” carried north to the Arkansas River, thence up the Arkansas and the continental divide to parallel forty-two of north latitude, and west on it to the Pacific. We have since acquired on that side all of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah, the greater portion of Colorado, and parts of Wyoming, Kansas, and Indian Territory. On the north our line was wholly unsettled west of the summit of the Rockies – we claiming as far north as the Russian possessions, and England claiming as far south as California, but both offering to take less. Meantime the disputed territory was under a joint occupancy by the traders of both countries. The causes which operated on the public mind in regard to occupying this mountain region were various, though they afterwards blended to a certain extent. First may be mentioned the Texas agitation. Large numbers of Americans had settled in...

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Massacres of the Mountains

J.P. Dunn wrote Massacres of the Mountains in an attempt to separate historical fact from sensational fiction and to verify the problems that plagued the Indian tribes in this country of years. He doesn’t assign blame, but lets it fall where it belongs by meticulous research and the accurate, unbiased depiction of the true causes and subsequent results of some of the most famous Indian conflicts.

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Lieutenant Colonel Fetterman Impatient for a Fight

Among those at the fort who were impatient for a fight was Brevet Lieutenant colonel William J. Fetterman, a soldier by birth, instinct, and profession, who joined the command at the fort in November. He had his first opportunity on December 6. The wood train was attacked two miles from the fort, and forced to corral for defense. Fetterman was sent, with thirty-five cavalry and a few of the mounted infantry, to relieve the wood party, and drive the Indians across Lodge Trail Ridge, in which direction they usually withdrew, while Carrington, with twenty-five mounted infantry, crossed the Big Piney, to intercept the Indians on Peno Creek. Fetterman’s party put the Indians to fight and chased them for about five miles, when they faced about and attacked the troops. Nearly all the cavalry fled, leaving Fetterman, assisted by Captain Brown and Lieutenant Wands, with a dozen men, to face over a hundred warriors. They stood at bay until Carrington’s force came in sight, when the Indians retired. In the mean while Lieutenant Bingham, joined by Lieutenant Grummond, with two or three men from Carrington’s command, pursued a single dismounted Indian into an ambuscade, two miles from the remainder of the troops, where Bingham and Sergeant Bowers were killed. In this affair Red Cloud commanded in person. He had lookouts on all the neighboring hills, signaling the progress of affairs,...

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Little Bighorn Telegraph Message

In some places the writing is very difficult to read.  Very little punctuation was used in the 21 hand written pages.  Some names not be spelled correctly. Chicago, Illinois July 8, 1876 Adjt. Genl. US Army Washington DC The following is a copy of General Terry’s report of the action of June twenty-fifth (25) camp on Little Big Horn River. June twenty seventh (27) Division of the Missouri, Chicago, Ills. It is my painful duty to report that the day before yesterday the twenty-fifth 25instant a great disaster overtook Genl. Custer and the troops under his command at twelve 12 o’clock of the (p 2)twenty second 22. He started with his whole regt. and strong detachment of scouts and guides for the mouth of the Rosebud up that river about twenty 20 miles he struck a very heavy Indian trail which had previously been discounted and pursuing it found that it led as it was supposed that it would lead to the Little Big Horn River.  Here he found a village of almost unexampled extent and at once attacked it with that portion of his force (p 3) which was immediately at hand. Maj. Reno with three co’s. A ___ and M of the regiment was sent into the valley of the stream at the point where the trail struck it.  Gen Custer with five companies C, E, F,...

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