Topic: History

Prayer We Will Give . . . and often

It was April 2010. I was homeless and living in the Western North Carolina Mountains. A couple had invited me to camp out inside their unoccupied vacation cabin in the Tuskeegee community near Fontana Lake.  Tuskeegee is in Graham County, North Carolina.  Graham is a breathtakingly beautiful place, completely walled in by some of the Eastern United State’s highest mountains.  Its county seat, Robbinsville, is closer to seven other state capitals than it is to Raleigh, North Carolina’s capital. After moving from a tent in the Nantahala Mountains into the cabin on the side of a small mountain, my immediate question was, “What is the name of one of the principal tribal towns of the Creek Confederacy doing in the Great Smoky Mountains?”  The Tuskeegee town site was in short walking distance from the cabin.  Its Cherokee name was Taskegi. 1Some Cherokee scholars are aware that there are two locations for a town named Tvskeke, but tourists are not told this since it would refute the story that the Cherokees have lived in western North Carolina for 10,000 years.  Apparently, most of the Creeks were driven away while the minority joined the Cherokee Alliance.  A Creek “k” sounds like a “g” to English and Cherokee speakers. The original Creek version of the name was Tvskeke. The remnants of some mounds are visible. Its invisible inhabitants evidently were delighted to...

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The Salmon River Expedition

On the 24th of June, 1877, seven days after the battle of White Bird Canon, Troop H, First Cavalry, left Mount Idaho by the roundabout way of Florence for the little settlement of Slate Creek on the Salmon River. Slate Creek empties into Salmon about six miles above the mouth of White Bird. The Indians were still in camp on the riverbank and had possession of all trails between the two points. The march was through the mountains over an old, abandoned trail, obstructed by rocks and fallen timber; and, although it was mid-summer, snow and rain fell almost incessantly during the trip, which was completed at two o’clock on the morning of the 25th. A few men, and many women and children were found at the place, all badly scared, not knowing what moment the redskins might attack them and murder the entire party. But the expected arrival of the troop and that of a volunteer company of citizens from Lewiston relieved all anxiety. We remained at Slate Creek until July 1st and then crossed the Salmon River to join General Howard’s column in pursuit of the hostiles. After the battle of White Bird General Howard ordered all the available troops in his own department to report to him immediately for field duty. In addition to these, troops from the departments of California and Arizona were hurried to...

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The Battle of the Clearwater

On quitting camp at Slate Creek, Oregon, I marched my troop, consisting of thirty enlisted men and three officers, to a crossing some miles below the settlement on Salmon River and put them across – horses swimming, men and packs by canoe. This movement was in obedience to an order from General Howard to join his immediate command in pursuit of the Indians via the Salmon River hills. The hostiles had been confronting the General’s command at the mouth of the White Bird Creek, they, the hostiles, being on the farther side of the river, and the command under General Howard being camped on our battle-field of White Bird Creek. After the General had collected boats, some of which I sent him from Slate Creek, and was prepared for a forward movement, the Indians began a retreat. The troops followed about the third day after the Indians had disappeared from the vicinity of the river. On the first day’s march I joined the General’s command, and we all proceeded up and over the high bluffs. After a toilsome march of about ten miles the heights were reached and camp was made. The infantry did not arrive until after dark and the pack-train not until midnight, some animals being lost en route. That night a terrific rain-storm fell upon us. As there were no tents except for the staff all...

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The Battle of the Big Hole

Brave old General Gibbon, the hero of South Mountain, was on the war-path. On receipt of General Howard’s despatch that the Nez Percés were coming his way, he hastily summoned Company F, of his regiment, from Fort Benton, and D from Camp Baker, to move with all possible speed to his post. Meantime, he gave orders that Company K and every man that could be spared from Fort Shaw should prepare at once for the field. When Companies F and D arrived there, he took the field at their head, with the troops detailed from his own post, and moved rapidly toward Fort Missoula, crossing the Rocky Mountains through Cadotte’s Pass, carrying a limited supply of provisions on pack-mules. The distance, one hundred and fifty miles, over a rough mountainous country, was covered in seven days, the command reaching Fort Missoula on the afternoon of August 3rd. On the 4th, with his command reinforced with Captain Rawn’s company, and Company G of the Seventh from Fort Ellis, General Gibbon left Fort Missoula in pursuit of the Nez Percés. His command now numbered seventeen officers and one hundred and forty-six men. A wagon-train was taken from Missoula, wherein the men were allowed to ride wherever the roads were good. General Gibbon moved as rapidly as his means of transportation would permit, covering thirty to thirtyfive miles per day. In his...

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Battle of Clearwater

The most fearful excitement prevailed at this time, and citizens and friendly Indians and their families flocked from all directions to Fort Lapwai for protection. All kinds of rumors as to Colonel Perry’s destruction and indiscriminate massacres were flying in to the post from all sources and directions. Lewiston was made the base of supplies and the concentration of troops was actively pushed. Troops were soon hastening to the scene of trouble from all directions. Captain Whipple, in Indian Valley, near the Wallowa, made forced marches with Company L, First Cavalry. The few troops at Fort Walla Walla and those near Wallula, and all available men from Forts Vancouver, Stevens, Canby, Townsend, Klamath, and Harney, were also in motion. The artillerymen about this time returning from Alaska were caught on the wing and turned toward Fort Lapwai. The call for troops was answered from California, Arizona, and even Georgia, whence came the Second Infantry. By June 21st, eight companies of troops (in the aggregate about two hundred and fifteen men) had arrived at Fort Lapwai, and a small organization of volunteers under Captain Paige had arrived with Captain Whipple. The friendly Indians generously supplied a sufficiency of Indian ponies. While preparations were being made for departure to the front, Capt. Evan Miles, with several companies of the Twenty-first Infantry, Capt. Marcus P. Miller, with several companies of the Fourth...

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General Howard’s Comment on Joseph’s Narrative

On reading in the North American Review for April the article entitled “An Indian’s View of Indian Affairs,” I was so pleased with Chief Joseph’s statement – necessarily ex parte though it was, and naturally inspired by resentment toward me as a supposed enemy – that at first I had no purpose of making a rejoinder. But when I saw in the Army and Navy Journal long passages quoted from Joseph’s tale, which appeared to reflect unfavorably upon my official conduct, to lay upon me the blame of the atrocious murders committed by the Indians, and to convict me of glaring faults where I had deemed myself worthy only of commendation, I addressed to the editor of that journal a communication (which has been published) correcting misstatements, and briefly setting forth the facts of the case. If I had had the power and management entirely in my hands, I believe I could have healed that old sore, and established peace and amity with Joseph’s Indians. It could only have been done, first, by a retrocession of Wallowa (already belonging to Oregon) to the United States and then setting that country apart forever for the Indians without the retention of any Government authority whatever; and, second, by the removal therefrom of every white settler, making to each a proper remuneration for his land and improvements. But this power I did...

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Major Boutelle’s Account of His Duel with Scar-faced Charley

In the latter part of November, 1872, Mr. Odeneal, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the State of Oregon, appeared upon the scene and sent word to Captain Jack of the Indians that he was at Link ville and to meet him there. Jack not responding, he was informed that Odeneal would be at Lost River two days later to talk to him. Instead of making preparations for his suggested meeting he despatched Mr. I. D. Applegate to Fort Klamath asking that troops be sent to move the Indians. Mr. Applegate arrived at Fort Klamath about five o’clock in the morning of November 28th, and was brought by the sergeant of the guard to my quarters, I being Officer-of-the-Day. He told me his errand and asked if I thought Colonel Green would send troops. I told him to make himself comfortable until later as I knew Colonel Green would not send troops, that he had been informed if troops were used enough men should be sent to place the result “beyond peradventure.” About eight o’clock, I was amazed at receiving orders from Major Jackson to make ready for a trip to Lost River; that we were ordered to move the Modocs. Soon after I was called to the adjutant’s office to prepare an order for the move. When the command was ready, or about half after eleven, I met Colonel...

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The Last Fight of the Campaign

From the Report of Brig.-Gen. H. C. Hasbrouck, United States Army (Retired) I marched from Redding, California, my Battery B, Fourth Artillery, being equipped as cavalry, under the command of Captain John Mendenhall, Fourth Artillery, April 19, 1873, and arrived at Promontory Point, April 28th. April 29th marched under Captain Mendenhall to Captain Jack’s old stronghold in the lava-beds. May 7th I left the stronghold in command of my own battery and Troops B and G, First Cavalry, and arrived at Peninsula Camp, May 8th. May 9th, under verbal instructions of the Department Commander, marched to Sorass Lake in command of my battery, Captain Jackson’s Troop B, Lieutenant Kyle’s Troop G, First Cavalry, and Warm Spring Indian scouts under Donald McKay, Act – Asst.-Surg. J. S. Skinner, medical officer. Camped at the lake with the cavalry and Indians, and sent the battery to camp in the timber about one mile to the southeast. May loth was attacked by the Modocs just before daylight. Their main line occupied a line of bluffs about four hundred yards distant, and a smaller party soon took possession of a lower line about two hundred yards nearer. Outposts had been established the night before upon the higher bluffs, but the Modocs succeeded in getting possession without their knowledge. The horses were stampeded by the first volley and Indian yells and ran through the camp...

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The Seventh Cavalry at Canon Creek

The winter of 1876-77, following the “Little Big Horn” campaign, was spent by the Seventh Cavalry very quietly in posts along the Missouri and vicinity, resting, reorganizing and awakening to a realizing sense of what the previous season’s campaign had meant to us. Early in the winter rumors reached us that the regiment was to take the field in the early spring, so that when orders reached us in early April for eleven troops of the regiment to move out under Colonel and Brev. Maj.-Gen. Samuel Sturgis, we were not at all surprised. On April 30th eleven troops of the regiment were reunited a short distance below Bismarck, and on May 2nd we took up our line of march for Fort Buford. Owing to the early season and the incessant rains our progress was slow and practically void of incidents of interest to the eneral reader. After a brief halt in the vicinity of Buford we were ferried across the river, and in the weeks that followed spent the time in scouting the valley of the Yellowstone, remaining not far from the cantonment at Tongue River. From time to time rumors reached us of an uprising of the Nez Perces in Oregon. This did not cause us any uneasiness, as the scene of war was too far removed, apparently, to bring it within the limit of possibilities of our...

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The Killing of the Commissioners

There were a great many tragical and pathetic happenings in the lava-beds during the Modoc War in 1873. In fact, all occurrences were tinged more or less with diabolism. Now these matters acquired in the minds of every one the feeling just expressed by reason of the hesitancy with which the campaign was prosecuted. At least, that is my own humble opinion. The mail-carriers were kept busy and the wires were kept warm conveying every word spoken and every movement undertaken in the vicinity of the seat of war to Washington, and from Washington to the Peace Commissioners; and everything that leaked out from their deliberations found its way to eager newspapers, and was there rehashed, recolored and fed to the community at large. So each and every actor felt as though a great drama in many acts was being played, each one startling the audience more than the one previously. First it was war, then peace, then council, then murder, then war again. Such veering and hauling was never before experienced by landsman or sailor. General Canby and his colleagues had twice before given a solemn warning of what would happen. However, the General, who was chief, had passed his word that the meeting would take place at the hour appointed; and he intended to keep it at all hazards, fondly hoping that the vexatious matter would be...

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Jackson’s Expedition

The Modoc Indians belong generally to the races known as “Digger Indians” – from living largely upon esculent roots which the squaws dig, dry and cache for winter subsistence, – but they are much superior to the average Digger Indian, and are more nearly allied in character -and by intermarriage -to the “Rogue Rivers,” a warlike tribe, now about extinct, inhabiting at one time the western slope of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon. Schonchin was chief of the tribe when the treaty was made with the Klamaths, Modocs and Yainaskin Snakes, by which these tribes, for the consideration offered by the Indian Bureau, agreed to live upon the Klamath Reservation, then just established. The Indian title to the Lost River and Tule Lake country was thus extinguished, and the land thrown open to settlement. The Klamath Reserve proving to have a much colder climate than the Modocs were accustomed to, and the Klamath Indians, their ancient foes, taunting them with living on “their”‘ land, catching “their” fish, and killing “their” game, the Modocs became discontented. The governing chief, “Old Schonchin,” with a large part of the tribe, got as far away from the Klamaths as he could, and lived up to the terms of the treaty; but the restless and desperate spirits of the tribe, under the leadership of the Indian afterward widely known as “Captain Jack,” and John...

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Carrying a Stretcher through the LavaBeds

About the most saddening, as well as the most fatiguing, experience which happened in my career as a soldier in connection with the above, took place at the lava-beds during the Modoc Indian War, 1873. The brave Capt. Evan Thomas, Fourth Artillery, and his small command had just been massacred or dispersed, and the relief under the command of Col. John Green, having arrived on the ground late in the evening, drove off the few remaining hostiles, and wearily awaited the approach of day to commence the search for the bodies of the slain and wounded. Early in the morning these were found, presenting different forms of anguish and distortion, some in the position of desperate defense, others prostrate in figures of dire helplessness, and quite a number yet alive, but in the agony of painful wounds. All were soon gathered in, some to be informally interred, others attended with the means at hand and prepared for transit to the camp. As the sun disappeared from sight on this sorrowful day, and the dusk was thickening over us, the order of march was announced, carrying parties told off, and the nine stretchers with their bleeding occupants placed in column. Only a few miles of journey lay before us, but these were miles of rock, precipice and chasm; and as we took up the march, black and swiftly gathering clouds...

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Story of Bugler Brooks

Morn amid the mountains, cold’s the hour before the dawn; also dark. So it was that autumn night on Camas Meadows, away up in Idaho, under the sentinel shadows of the great peaks of the Three Tetons. How still the cavalry camp, with its tired troopers, snatching what sleep they can before beginning another day’s pursuit of Chief Joseph’s hostiles. A shot! Another! A dozen! A regular rattling volley! A bugle blast – Brooks’ bugle, always musical, now stirringly imperative in its call to arms – the cool, firm orders of Mayor Jackson – and, above all, the Indian yells of defiance to the entire white race. And all in the chill, intensified darkness that precedes the dawn. Shots in all directions. Very suddenly had the hostiles attached the sleeping soldiers and cleverly stampeded the pack-mules grazing within the lines. Carefully, in columns of fours, personally conducted by Joseph, had they advanced toward the Story of Bugler Brooks 1199 watchful picket, and in the uncertain starlight made him think they were Bacon’s troopers returning. But answering not his challenge, they received the contents of his carbine. A few Indians had skilfully crept in between the sentries, and mingling with the mules, had removed the hobbles from the bell mares. The sentry’s shot, the shrill signal yell, the buffalo robes flaunted in their faces – and the herd made a...

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Reminiscences by Major J. G. Trimble

The Kind of Country They Marched Over Should an officer stationed in Oregon receive an order about the 25th of December to march his company three hundred miles to take part in an Indian war, both he and his men would, most likely, consider the same a very cool proceeding. And they did. Now, this is about the distance from Camp Harney to the Modoc country. Our instructions were “light marching order,” instead of comfortable wagons where one could stow a tent and numberless blankets. However, what comforts or necessaries could be taken along were piled upon those unfortunate mules and off we went. The snow lay pretty deep at home, but we launched out into the great prairie, which resembled one huge, fleecy cloud, and in imagination the effect was the same as riding on the unsubstantial sky which possessed almost as much sustaining power. We plodded on through the virgin whiteness, never before disturbed by foot or hoof, and at the day’s end dismounted to sleep in its folds. The old campaigner does not, however, take such a desolate view of the situation. Instantly, on halting, the great sage-brush plant is lighted; no shivering over a few green boughs or saturated logs dug from the wet, but a veritable can of kerosene. This great source of comfort in the winter wilderness grows to the height of six...

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The Disaster to Thomas’ Command

I have always considered the disaster to Major Thomas’ command as one of the saddest in our military history. It was a small affair, but so senseless and unnecessary, and such a waste of a good life. About a week or ten days after the last fighting in the lava-beds, which resulted in the expulsion of the Modocs and their retreat to a point near what was known as the Land Butte and Black Ledge, Major Mason’s command, consisting in part of the troop with which I was serving, was in bivouac in “Jack’s Stronghold.” About eleven o’clock in the morning, as nearly as I can remember, my attention was attracted to men looking in a southerly direction, or toward the butte, soon to be made historic. I ran over to where Major Mason was standing, field-glass in hand, and asked him what was the excitement. He replied that he understood that General Gillem had sent out a party of about sixty under command of Major Thomas to ascertain if howitzers could be placed on the butte for the purpose of shelling Jack’s camp located near by. I asked Mason if he thought General Gillem had believed that Thomas could reach the butte without a fight, and if he dreamed that he would be able, with a handful of inexperienced men, to make successful work against a party which...

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