Oregon Indian Encounters: The Unfriendly Kind


June 2, 1851 Bear Creek (Ashland, Oregon)

Thirty-two miners led by Dr. James McBride were returning to Oregon after a stint digging gold in California.  On Bear Creek, near present-day Ashland, Oregon, about 150 Rogue River Indians ambushed them.  A four-hour battle ensued.  The Rogues got the worst of it, with seven men killed and four wounded.  Only one miner was injured, but the Rogues got away with horses, packs, and $1,500 is supplies and gold dust.

June 10, 1851 Battle Rock (Port Orford, Oregon)

Capt. William Tichenor sailed his steamer Sea Gull to the southern Oregon coast, hoping to establish a town.  He dropped of nine men, supplies, and a cannon to start the fledgling burg, which would later become Port Orford.  Tichenor departed promising to bring more men in two weeks.  The Quatomah band of Rogue River Indians, however, did not appreciate the intrusion and menaced the new colonists.  The newcomers pulled back to a rocky promontory between the ocean and the tidal flats and prepared a defense.

The Indians held a war dance and advanced on the position with about 100 warriors.   The colonists' leader, J.M. Kirkpatrick, directed the firing of the cannon, the defenders fought tenaciously.  With only 2 of their own wounded, they killed 17 Rogues, and wounded 10 more.  The Indians retreated, but kept the whites under siege for two weeks.  When Tichernor did not return on the promised date, the stranded colonists abandoned their rock and fled north, eventually finding safety among the friendly Indians at Coos Bay.

June 17, 1851 Table Rock (White City, Oregon)

Maj. Philip Kearny was leading 28 men of the 1st. Regiment of Mounted Riflemen from Oregon to California.  Desertions to the goldfields had so depleted their ranks that the regiment was being sent back to Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, Missouri, to recruit.   A few miles up the Rogue River from Table Rock, about seven miles north of present-day Medford, Oregon, a band of Rogue River Indians attacked Kearny's army.   Army casualties were 2 soldiers wounded and a captain killed.  The Rogues lost 11 warriors and 6 were wounded.

September 14, 1851 Coquille Massacre (Bandon, Oregon)

The Port Orford settlers, having returned to the area after fleeing to Coos Bay in June, decided to blaze a road from the coast to the Oregon-California Trail.  William T'Valult led 23 men on an exploratory expedition, but rough terrain and limited supplies caused 13 of them to give up by mid-August.  T'Valult and the other 10 plodded on until September 1st., when they too decided to call it quits.

At the South Fork of the Coquille River, T'Vault's party hired some Coquille Indians to take them downstream in canoes.  When they reached the Coquille village on the coast, the Indians pulled ashore, surrounded the explorers, and attempted to disarm them.  A fight broke out, and the Indians hacked and bludgeoned the white men.  T'Vault, still in his canoe, Saw "the most awful state of confusion; it appeared to be the screams of thousands, the sound of blows, the groans and shrieks of the dying".

T'Vault paddled the canoe to the south shore.  A few others fought their way through the village and into the woods.  Five of T'Vault's men were killed.  The Indians suffered no casualties.

November 22, 1851 Coquille River (Myrtle Point, Oregon)

In response to the September murder of 5 white men by Coquille Indians, Lt. Col. Silas Casey, 2nd. Infantry, led a punitive expedition of 130 men, in companies A, C, and E of the 1st. Dragoons, to the mouth of the Coquille River.  On November 5th., the Indians fired at them and pulled back upriver.  Casey sent to Port Orford for three boats to pursue them.

On November 20th., after rowing upriver for a few days, the soldiers camped at the junction of the north and south forks of the river.  Casey sent parties up the branches to locate the Indians.  Lt. George Stoneman found the camp on the main stream, eight miles above their camp, near present-day Myrtle Point, Oregon.  On the 22nd. Casey took the entire force upriver.  Half a mile before the camp, they split up to approach the hideout from both sides.  A small detachment remained in the boat, which the Coquilles spotted and fired upon.  Lt. Thomas Wright immediately attacked them from the shore.  As the Indians fled along the river, Casey shouted: "Boys, take good sight, throw no shots away, give them Hell!"

Meanwhile, Lt. Stoneman opened fire from the opposite shore.  The Coquilles were caught in the crossfire, and after a short fight they fled into the forest.  Casey figured they had learned their lesson and returned to the mouth of the river.

Casey's men killed 15 Indians and wounded several more.  On the army side, 2 privates were mortally wounded.

July 17, 1852 Table Rock Conference (White City, Oregon)

During the summer of 1852, hostilities existed between settlers on the one side and Shasta and Rogue River Indians on the other.  In an effort to make peace, Indian agent Alonzo A. Skinner called a meeting near a large gravel bar in the Rogue River below Table Rock.  He persuaded some of the Indians to stack their arms and attend the conference, and with difficulty he talked the Oregon Volunteers under John K. Lamerick into doing the same.

When Elisha Steele marched up with his California Volunteers, events took a turn for the worse.  Steele refused to stack his arms, and when Skinner crossed the river to talk to some more Indians, the California Volunteers attacked the Indians at the conference.  One volunteer shot the son of Shasta chief Sullix in the head, and a melee broke out.  The white men killed most of the Indians there.

After the episode, Skinner was unable to negotiate a settlement between the antagonists and gave up.  Reports of Indian deaths in the incident ranged between 4 and 20.

November 15, 1852 Ben Wright Affair/Black Bluff (Merrill, Oregon)

Wanting to avenge the emigrant killings at Tule Lake (Bloody Point, California, September) Ben Wright of Yreka, California, gathered a company of miners and settlers to hunt down the Modoc perpetrators.  The vigilantes camped south of the Indian village, near Bloody Point, on a peninsula that jutted out into Tule Lake.  For two months they tried to induce the Modocs to return the items they has stolen from the emigrants, without success.  Finally, Wright switched to a different tactic.  When some of his men returned from Yreka with a supply of food, Wright invited the Modocs to his camp for a feast and a peace talk.  But the Indians suspected he had put strychnine in their food and would not eat it.

Tiring of his own game, Wright moved to the north end of the lake by Lost River Bridge, just inside of the Oregon border, and camped next to a Modoc village.  In the morning, while the Indians were drying meat for the winter, Wright walked calmly into the village, threw open his coat, and began firing.  This signaled his men, concealed around the village and on a nearby bluff, to open fire too.  The Modocs panicked.   Some jumped into the lake and drowned.  Others ran into the woods but Wright's men hunted them down.

Only 5 of the 46 Modocs in the village escaped; the rest were killed.  The public late censured Wright for not having fought the Indians in an open contest.

August 11, 1853 Willow Springs (Medford, Oregon)

In the wake of angry retaliations for numerous raids on settlements in the Jacksonville, Oregon, area, Rogue River Indians attacked a party of five travelers at Willow Springs, near present-day Medford, Oregon.  William T'Vault, who had survived a previous attack (see Coquille Massacre, September 14, 1851), escaped, but two others in the party were killed, and the Indians burned several cabins.

August 17, 1853 Evans Creek Meadows (Shady Cove, Oregon)

After roving bands of Shasta and Rogue River Indians had been raiding settlements in the Jacksonville, Oregon, area, settlers kept retaliating against local, non-nomadic Rogues and other Indians, who were generally innocent.  Growing tired of the unfair attacks, the local Indians joined together against the settlements, and the settlers sent to Fort Jones, in northern California, for help.

In response to the threat, and to the attack at Willow Springs (previous entry), Capt. Bradford R. Alden marched north from Fort Jones with a detachment of ten men of the 4th. infantry.  On the way, in Yreka, California, he picked up a company of volunteers.   In Jacksonville Alden added three more companies of Oregon volunteers under Joseph Lane, the territorial congressional delegate.  The combined force went to Camp Stuart, near present-day Medford, Oregon, to prepare to hunt down the Indians.

Volunteer companies under John Lamerick and John s. Miller were the first to move out.   They hoped to trap the Rogue River Indians responsible for the deaths at Willow Springs.  A 22-man detachment under Simeon Ely found the band of Rogues under Chief Sam (Toquahear) on Evans Creek, a dozen miles north of Table Rock.  Ely sent a messenger to Camp Stuart for help and retired to an open meadow between two willow-lined streams that flowed into Evans Creek.

Chief Sam had seen Ely's volunteers and maneuvered his warriors into the willows for an attack.  The Rogues killed two of Ely's men in the first volley.  Ely retreated 500 yards to a pine-covered ridge, where the fight went on for three hours.  Finally, James P. Goodall's volunteer company arrived and Sam broke off the fight, but not before capturing 18 horses and mules, along with blankets, guns, and ammunition.

The Rogues had only a few wounded, while the volunteers lost six men.  For more were wounded, including Ely.

August 24, 1853 Evans Creek (Shady Cove, Oregon)

After Simeon Ely's fight at Evans Creek Meadows (previous entry), John E. Ross took John S. Miller's and John Lamerick's volunteer companies, and Joseph Lane took Jacob Rhodes's and James P. Goodall's volunteer companies, accompanied by Capt. Bradford R. Alden and ten of his 4th. Infantrymen, from Camp Stuart to look for Chief Sam's retreating Rogue River band.  Ross went down the Rogue River to the mouth of Evans Creek, then upstream, while Lane went cross-country north of Table Rock.  Lane found the Indians' trail and continued north up Evans Creek.  The Indians had felled trees as they went to delay the volunteers' passage.

Lane and Alden reached the Indians first, at the headwaters of Evans Creek.  There were about 200 of them from the bands of Chiefs Sam, Joe (Apserkahar), and Jim (Anachaharah), defending a log-and-thicket fortification.  Alden led a frontal attack and Rhodes circled from the flank.  The got no closer than 30 yards to the entrenchment's before gunfire halted them.  Several volunteers went down, including Capt. Alden, whose wound would cause him to resign the following month.  Lane came to the front to renew the assault.  He too was wounded, but he directed the fight for another three hours before going to the rear.

The battle sputtered out toward evening, and the Indians signaled for a conference.   Concealing his wounded arm under his coat, Lane went out to talk with them.   The Rogues agreed to come to Table Rock in seven days for treaty talks.  The resultant Treaty of Table Rock would keep the area relatively quiet for a few years.   Ross arrived too late for the battle, and Lane had to convince him not to renew the fight.

In addition to Alden's and Lane's injuries, the battle cost the lives of 3 volunteers.   Another was mortally wounded, and 3 others were also wounded.  Rogue losses were 15 killed or mortally wounded and 13 wounded.

August 28, 1853 Long's Ferry (Grants Pass, Oregon)

Although peace plans had been made after the Evans Creek fight (previous entry), Elias A. Owens's company of Oregon Volunteers continued its search for hostile Indians farther down the Rogue River.  They lured several of the Grave Creek band to a council, then murdered five or six of them.  The enraged Indians gathered up more tribesmen and burned cabins along Jump Off Joe Creek.

Owens's company continued south on the Rogue River to Long's Ferry, near present-day Grants Pass, Oregon.  There, the Indians jumped them and killed three volunteers

October 24, 1853 Illinois River (Cave Junction, Oregon).

Miners along the Illinois River in Oregon complained that coastal Indians of an unidentified tribe were stealing cattle in the region and sent a call for help to Fort Lane, built only a month before at Table Rock.  Lt. Richard C. W. Radford took detachments of Companies A, C, and E of the 1st Dragoons over the mountains to assist the miners.  Upon arriving, Radford realized he did not have enough men to round up the Indians and sent for reinforcements.  Lt. Thomas F. Castor came with another detachment.

The company traveled up the Illinois River into the Siskiyou Mountains until they came across a camp of Indians--possibly Talowas who had fled the Smith River area after miners attacked them (Smith River, Crescent City, California, June 7, 1851).  Radford attacked the camp.  The soldiers killed 15 Indians, captured 16 horses, and burned all the property they could gather up.  Two soldiers were killed and four were wounded

January 28, 1854 Coquille Village (Bandon, Oregon)

Although conflicts in Oregon had lessened during the winter of 1853-54, the settlers and miners in Randolph and at the Whiskey Run Mines thought the Nasomah band of Lower Coquille Indians were up to something--if only some mischief--and they decided to do something about it.  George H. Abbott, A.F. Soap, and William H. Packwood led 40 volunteers to the sleeping Coquille village, a mile and a half from the coast.  They attacked with a fury that the Indians--with only three guns and some bows and arrows among them--could not counter.

With no injuries to themselves, the volunteers killed 15 men and 1 woman, wounded 4 others, and captured 20.  The jubilant volunteers believed they had forestalled a planned Indian uprising.  In reality, they had only begun another series of reprisals.

February 15, 1854 Chetco River (Brookings, Oregon)

The Chetco River Indians were living peacefully on the river, operating a ferry for miners and packers traveling along the coast.  In the fall of 1853, white settler A.F. Miller built a house a quarter of a mile from the river mouth and decided to take over the ferry business.  Miller promised the Indians peace and a good trade relationship if they gave up their weapons.  They acquiesced.

On February 15th., after calling in friends from the Smith River settlements in California, Miller attacked the unsuspecting Indians.  He and his men shot at them and burned the lodges.  Two Indians trapped inside a plank house burned to death, and another was shot down as he ran.

The attackers allowed most of the women and children to escape, but they killed 12 men.

October 8, 1855 Little Butte Creek (Eagle Point, Oregon)

Even after their chief, Tipsu Tyee, was killed in the spring of 1854 (see Klamath Ferry, Yreka, California,  May 24, 1854), Rogue River warriors continued to raid settlements along Bear Creek and the Rogue River.  The settlers, needing little prodding to pickup their weapons, joined a crusade led by "Maj." James Lupton, a packer who had come to Oregon with the Mounted Rifles in 1849.  Along with volunteers from Yreka, California, Lupton marched to Jacksonville, Oregon, and with about 115 settlers planned an attack.

Lupton led his 36-man company to an Indian village on Little Butte Creek, a short distance from the Table Rock Reservation.  They found Chief Jake's Rogue River band asleep in their summer brush huts.  It was still dark when the volunteers opened fire, killing everyone they could find.

Though some of the Indians took refuge at Fort Lane, 23 men, women, and children in Jake's band died.  Another group of volunteers killed 3 Indians in Sambo's band.   The contest was not one-sided, however.  Lupton paid for his blood list, taking a fatal arrow through the lungs, and 11 other volunteers were wounded.   Lupton's attack started another spate of revenge killings.

October 9, 1855 Rogue River Massacre (Grants Pass, Oregon)

The day after the settlers' attack on Chief Jake's village (previous entry), the rest of the Rogue River Indians, enraged, bolted from the Table Rock Reservation and went on a rampage downstream.  They killed one settler before they left the reservation and attacked others along the Rogue River between Evans Ferry and Grave Creek.  At George Harris's ranch, Harris and two others were killed and his daughter was wounded, but Mrs. Harris managed to bold the door and defend her home.  Four people were killed at the Hanes ranch, and four teamsters hauling apple trees were killed at the river.  The Indians also slaughtered 7 others, 19 people in all--at least 4 of them women or children.

October 17, 1855 Skull Bar (Galice, Oregon)

A few days after their October 9th. rampage (previous entry), Rogue River Indians, under Chiefs George (Cholcultah) and Limpy, attacked a miner's camp on the Rogue River near Skull Bar, just below the mouth of Galice Creek.  About 40 miners and packers defended their cabins with the aid of earth-and-flour-sack breastworks.

The miners had cut away much of the brush, so the Indians had little cover, but they used the sparse foliage that remained.  J.W. Pickett led six men to try to dislodge them.  The Rogues killed Pickett and forced his men back.  Another squad of miners sortied ahead and fought for four hours before retreating.  The Rogues could not close in, but the miners could not break out.  The Indians shot flaming arrows into the camp, but the miners doused the flames before they could do much damage.   While George and Limpy kept the whites pinned down, other Rogues burned the nearby settlement of Galice to the ground.

At nightfall, the Indians left, dragging all their casualties--about a dozen killed and wounded--from the field.  Of the miners and packers, 4 were killed and 11 were wounded.

October 25, 1855 Grave Creek (Leland, Oregon)

In a continuation of their raids against area settlers (previous entries), Rogue River Indians ambushed a party of soldiers near the Oregon-California Road.  Lt. August V. Kautz, 4th. Infantry, and a 12-man detachment from Company H, 3rd. Artillery, finishing a 13-day road survey from the coast at Port Orford to the Oregon-California Road, were within three miles of the road when the Indians attacked.

At the first shots, Kautz fell to the ground, clutching his chest.  Thinking he was dead, his men started to run, but the ball had hit his pocket diary and only stunned him.  The Rogues went after the fleeing soldiers, killing two privates, named Gill and Adams.  The rest of Kautz's men ran to Fort Lane, the lieutenant eventually following, and inadvertently discovered the Rogues' hideout near the post.

October 31-November 1, 1855 Hungry Hill (Wolf Creek, Oregon)

The intelligence Lt. August V. Kautz brought to Fort Lane (previous entry) energized the soldiers and volunteers there.  Capt. Andrew J. Smith led 105 soldiers from Companies C and E of the 1st. Dragoons and Companies D and E of the 4th. Infantry to the hideout of the warring Rogue River Indians.  Another "Capt." Smith--a volunteer-- led "Col." John E Ross's 145 volunteers.  Together they hurried down the Rogue River, crossing at Vannoy's Ferry, and marched north to the valley of Grave Creek.

On October 31st., near where Kautz's men were ambushed, the party saw a large gathering of Indians on a high ridge to the north.  There wee about 500 Umpquas, Rogues, Shastas, and Klamaths under Chiefs Old John (Tecumtum), George (Cholcultah), Limpy, and others.  The soldiers and volunteers ran to attack.  When they reached the summit of a bald peak known as hungry Hill, they met about 150 warriors in a good defensive position.  They gamely charged, but the Indians raked them with bullets and arrows, and soon the company was scrambling back down the mountain.  by dark, they had found a safe place to get water and care for their wounded.

At dawn on November 1st., the Indians attacked the white men's camp, which they stoutly defended.  After a four-hour fight, with their ammunition, food, and water nearly exhausted, the two Capt. Smiths decided to withdraw.  The volunteers went down to Wolf Creek, and government troops made temporary camp on Grave Creek to bury their dead.

Over the two days, 4 regulars were killed and 7 were wounded; volunteer loses were 7 killed and 20 wounded.  The Indians lost 20 warriors.  The battle was a draw, but it left the recalcitrant bands in possession of a section of their homeland.

November 26, 1855 Little Meadows (Mariel, Oregon)

After the battle at Hungry Hill (see October 31-November 1), soldiers and volunteers again tried to corner the Rogue River Indians and their allies.  A battalion of 286 volunteers under Maj. James Bruce joined Capt. Henry M. Judah, 4th. Infantry, and his 146 regulars.  Bruce went directly down the Rogue River, while Judah took the road to Grave Creek before going downstream.

Judah and his men camped at the mouth of Whiskey Creek, then hiked a dozen miles west into the most isolated part of Rogue country, where they were to meet Bruce and his men.   At Little Meadows, an open tableland in the forested mountains, Judah spotted campfires several miles away on the river bank and thought it was Bruce.  Later, however, Bruce showed up at the meadows.  Scouts investigated the campfires and found about 150 Indian men with their families fortified on a river bar in a narrow portion of the canyon below.

Judah took his men down the mountain, while Bruce and his volunteers circled back to cross the river and approach from the south.  Unwisely, the volunteers chopped down trees to build rafts; the Rogues heard the commotion and hastened to attack.  The adversaries exchanged shots throughout the day, and the Indians pulled away before Judah could reach the scene.  Just as at Hungry Hill, the expedition had been thwarted.

Four volunteers were wounded and one, William Lewis, was killed.  The Rogues had three casualties.

December 24, 1855 Little Butte Creek (Lakecreek, Oregon)

As winter set in, 18 inches of snow lay on the ground and the Rogue River froze over at Vannoy's Ferry.  Two 30-man companies of volunteers under "Capt." Miles T. Alcorn and "Capt." E. A. Rice fortified themselves with alcohol and marched to Little Butte Creek, where James Lupton's volunteers had massacred Chief Jake's band of Rogue River Indians in October (see Little Butte Creek, October 8th.)

On the north fork of the creek, Alcorn and his men viciously attacked a Rogue village.   They murdered eight men, burned dwellings and supplies, and left the women and children to starve or die of exposure.  At the same time, at the mouth of the creek, Rice's men hit a second village and killed 11 men.  They sent the women and children they captured to Fort Lane.  Many of the captives died or suffered frostbite.   Later, Brig. Gen. John E. Wool, Department of the Pacific commander, equated the volunteers' operations with organized murder.

January 5, 1856 Applegate River Camp (Applegate, Oregon)

On the first of the new year, Maj. James Bruce of the 2nd. Oregon Mounted Volunteers continued the winter war with the Rogue River Indians.  At Fort Lane, he got 25 regulars to join his and E. A. Rice's companies and convinced Capt. Andrew J. Smith to lend him a howitzer.  The column marched west over the mountains to the valley of the Applegate River, where Rogue chief Joe (Apserkahar) and his band were reported to have taken refuge in some abandoned settlers' cabins.

During the column's trek over the mountains, Rogue warriors harassed the men, and on January 2nd., they killed Martin Angel, one of the most virulent of the white "exterminators".  Before reaching the Applegate River, Bruce lost the howitzer ammunition when the mule carrying it tumbled off a cliff.  On the 5th., more ammunition arrived and the fight commenced.

The cannon blasted the houses in which the Indians were sheltered.  The Rogues had dug pits into the dirt floors so they could shoot from underneath the bottom logs, and the shooting lasted throughout the day.  About 11 P.M., the Indians broke out of the cabns and in the darkness rushed the enemy's lines and escaped into the woods, leaving many women and children behind.

One volunteer, Dr. W. Myers, was killed and three were wounded.  Three Rogues were killed, and one man and two children were wounded.

January 23, 1856 Cow Creek (Glendale, Oregon)

While Maj. James Bruce and "Capt." E. A. Rice continued to search for Indians along the Applegate River (previous entry), Joseph Bailey's volunteers were searching along the tributaries of the Umpqua River.  They found no Indians, but a band of Umpquas found them.  The volunteers, camped on a prairie in the mountains near where the Oregon-California Road crossed Cow Creek, had posted no sentries.  As the men lounged about the fire, the Upquas fired into the camp, killing two.

February 23, 1856 Gold Beach (Gold Beach, Oregon)

In November 1855, miners at Gold Beach, at the mouth of the Rogue River, raised a company of volunteers to patrol the area, with John Poland as captain.  After three months, thinking the Indians had quieted down, the volunteers pulled back to the coast.   The Tututni band of Rogue River Indians, though aware of fighting upriver (Little Butte Creek, December 24, 1855), had been living nearby in tentative peace, but a fiery mixed-blood man named Enos roused them to fight.  The Gold Beach miners were planning to celebrate George Washington's birthday with an all-night dance, and the Indians decided to strike then.

On the night of the party, Poland left a minimal 14-man guard at the volunteers' camp.   As the fiddlers played and the revelers made merry, the Tututnis not ready, and at daybreak they swept in.  Overwhelming the sleepy guards, the Indians killed nine volunteers in the first onslaught; five volunteers escaped into the woods.  Nearby settlers heard the noise and rushed to alert the volunteers and miners still at the dance hall.  The Tututni Rogues attacked other homes along the river, burning buildings and killing 23 settlers.

Poland, unaware of the events, had stopped to see Benjamin Wright on his way home from the dance hall.  Wright had perpetrated a notorious attack on the Modoc Indians several years earlier (see Ben Wright Affair, November 15, 1852).  Nevertheless, Poland did not suspect treachery when some Tututnis came to Wright's cabin to report that Enos was causing trouble.  Heading for the camp, Wright and Poland were jumped, murdered, and mutilated.  The Indians cut out Wright's heart and ate it.

The people of Gold Beach and the surrounding area forted up in a makeshift post called Fort Miner while Enos rode about on a white stallion, haranguing his warriors to storm the position.  The Indians contented themselves with stealing livestock, burning, and looting.  There were no known Indian casualties.  In all, 40 settlers and volunteers were killed that day.

March 13, 1856 Pistol River (Pistol River, Oregon)

In the aftermath of the siege of settlers at Fort Miner (see Gold Beach, February 23rd.), George H. Abbot gathered up 34 volunteers at Crescent City, California, and marched up the coast to punish the Indians responsible and prevent further trouble.   Though his force was small, Abbot hurried north, not waiting for the regulars under Maj. Robert C. Buchanan, 4th. Infantry, who followed behind.

At the Pistol River, about ten miles south of Gold Beach, Abbot saw some Rogue River Indians driving a herd of horses in the foothills and went after them.  Suddenly many more warriors appeared.  Abbot was in trouble.  He fell back to the seashore, prepared a barricade from driftwood, and sent a messenger back to Buchanan.  Soon the Rogues surrounded the volunteers and peppered them with bullets.

At nightfall, the Indians did not halt the attack but moved in closer.  Abbot countered with a charge to drive them back.  When it was too dark to see, the volunteers blasted into the night with their shotguns.  By dawn, most of the Indians had gone, but they had captured 10 horses and 20 mules from the volunteers.  Sporadic fire continued until Maj. Buchanan's force arrived later that day.

Surprisingly, only 1 of Abbot's men was killed and 1 was wounded.  The Rogues lost 12 warriors with perhaps 10 wounded.

March 20-26, 1856 Mouth of the Rogue River (Gold Beach, Oregon)

Three columns of soldiers planned to converge at the mouth of the Rogue River and, under Maj. Robert C. Buchanan, trap the last recalcitrant bands of Rogue River Indians, particularly that of Old John.  Old John had decided that, since the whites had resolved to kill his people, he might as well die fighting.  Two of the columns had little contact with the Rogues, but on the way to the meeting point, Capt. Edward O. C. Ord's Company B, 3rd. Artillery, saw plenty of action.  On March 20th., Ord fought near the river mouth, killing eight Indians and wounding eight more at a cost of two wounded enlisted men.

Meanwhile, Buchanan had sent one of the three columns, 112 men of the 4th. Infantry, upriver to the principal Mikonotunne Rogue village at Skookum House Prairie.  On March 26th. the soldiers reached the abandoned village and began burning the plank houses, but lingering Rogues fired on them.  The Indians wounded one soldier.  Five Indians were killed and three more drowned while trying to flee in their canoes.

March 23, 1856 Deer Creek (Selma, Oregon)

On Deer Creek, a tributary of the Illinois River, Rogue River warriors ambushed a pack train on the trail between Crescent City and the Illinois River valley settlements.   The Rogues killed 4 freighters and ran off 40 horses and 28 mules loaded with supplies and ammunition.

Hurrying to the scene from a nearby farm, Maj. James Bruce and his volunteers caught up with the raiders, but the Indians fired first, killing two men of "Capt." Abel George's company and wounding two from "Capt." Thomas O'Neal's unit.  Three Indians were killed.  The fight lasted only a short time before the outnumbered volunteers broke off the action and retreated.

M.C. Barkwell, a volunteer surgeon, lost his horse and all his instruments and medicines.  "The volunteers have had so little success," he said, "I am getting tired of it.  [I] would like to see the regulars take the field".

March 24, 1856 Illinois River (Cave Junction, Oregon)

Capt. Andrew J. Smith led Company C, 1st. Dragoons, and a detachment of Company E, 4th. Infantry, to the Illinois River country to scout for Rogue River Indians.  The found some Indians, and in an ensuing fight, two soldiers were killed and four were wounded.

March 24, 1856 Cow Creek (Glendale, Oregon)

While patrolling the Oregon-California Road along Cow Creek in the Umpqua Mountains, John M. Wallen's volunteer company, along with 20 men from the company of a Lt. Capron, skirmished with a band of Umpqua Indians.  One volunteer was killed and one wounded.   The volunteers pursued the Umpquas for six days, but killed only one warrior in the exhausting chase.

April 29, 1856 Chetco River (Brookings, Oregon)

Capt. Edward O. C. Ord, with a detachment of Company B, 3rd. Artillery, acting as infantry, was escorting some packers down the Oregon coast from the Rogue River to Crescent City to pick up supplies.  As the mules and men forded the Chetco River near present-day Brookings, Oregon, Chetco Indians attacked them.

Ord pursued about 70 of the Chetcos upriver, but they hid in the alders and willows along the banks, firing at the men as they forded the river.  One sergeant was mortally wounded in a hand-to-hand fight with an Indian he had driven into the water.   One enlisted man was wounded.  Two Indians were killed, three were wounded, and several were captured.

May 27-28, 1856 Big Meadows/Big Bend (Illahe, Oregon)

Three columns of soldiers under Maj. Robert C. Buchanan had been chasing the southern Oregon tribes for months with only one significant skirmish (see Mouth of Rogue River, March 20-26).  Finally, they had a major encounter.  Before a planned peace conference between soldiers and Rogue River Indians at the Big Bend of the Rogue River, Rogue chief Old John talked Chiefs Limpy and George out of surrendering and instead arrange a surprise for the soldiers.

Capt. Andrew J. Smith and 50 men of his Company C of the 1st. Dragoons, with 30 men under Lt. Nelson B. Sweitzer, Company G, 4th. Infantry, and a howitzer, reached Big Meadows, near Big Bend, on May 25th., the day before the conference.  No warriors appeared the next day, but two Rogue women came to the camp and warned the soldiers of Old John's plan.  Smith moved the men from the meadow to a small hill between two creeks and set up a defense.  A courier rode out to get help from Buchanan.

At 10 A.M. on May 27th., Old John's braves attacked, but the blazing howitzer kept them at a distance, and the long range of the infantry muskets kept the snipers down.   When night fell, the soldiers dug in and built breastworks.  The battle continued the next morning, and soon nearly a third of the soldiers had been hit, the water was gone, and the ammunition was getting low.

A first-rate disaster was in the offing for the soldiers when Capt. Christopher C. Auger and his 4th. Infantry companies appeared, advancing at double tome.  Smith's men jumped up and charge the Rogues, who had been about to launch their own last charge.   Meanwhile, Auger hit the Indians rear.  Within 15 minutes, the surviving Indians had fled the field.  Two days later, George and Limpy surrendered their bands, and late in June Old John bowed to the inevitable.  The Rogue River War was over.

Smith and Auger lost 11 men and 20 were wounded.  The Indians probably suffered a similar number of casualties.  About 1,200 eventually surrendered, and the government removed them to reservations.  Perhaps the only positive outcome of this defeat for the Indians was that it saved them from probable slaughter by vengeful citizens and volunteers.

June 6, 1856 Painted Rock (Gold Beach, Oregon)

After the fight at Big Meadows (previous entry), Capts. Smith and Auger's soldiers traveled down the Rogue River to the coast with many prisoners.  Renegade Indian bands still roamed the coast, however, and a number of them attacked the miners at Gold Beach.  Capt. Auger's 4th. Infantry joined up with the Gold Beach volunteers to corner a band at Painted Rock on the Rogue River.  The combined force killed 14 Indians and captured a dozen Indian women and children.  More drowned when the canoes in which they were attempting to escape capsized in the rapids.

July 18, 1856 Grande Ronde (LaGrande, Oregon)

Gov. Issac I. Stevens of Washington Territory, frustrated at the military's feeble campaigning to remove Indians from settled areas, planned a summer expedition into Walla Walla and Yakima Indian country.  In early July, Lt. Col. Benjamin F. Shaw took a force of 400 volunteers and marched into Oregon Territory.

In the Grande Ronde Valley-nestled between the Blue and Wallowa Mountains--the expedition came upon 300 Walla Walla, Cayuse, DesChutes, Palouse, and Umatilla Indians.   Shaw sent a Nez Perce scout to talk to them, but the scout came galloping back, saying he heard one Cayuse order others to shoot him.  Without hesitation, Shaw ordered his men to charge.

The volunteers attacked, and the Indians ran for their lives.  Some went into the brush and trees on the slopes of the mountains.  Others headed for the Grande Ronde River, but the volunteers killed them en masse on the banks.  Shaw proudly declared, "We may safely conclude that at least forty of the enemy were slain, and may went off wounded".

Of the volunteers, three were killed and four were wounded.  Shaw's men destroyed the village and a large supply of food, tipis, and ammunition, and captured 200 horses.   Gov. Stevens declared victory, and the stage was set for Indian surrender, which would take place at the grand council of tribes in Walla Walla Valley in September.

June 29, 1860 Deschutes River (Northern Oregon)

Capt. Andrew J. Smith and a force including Company C, 1st. Dragoons, left Fort Dalles with orders to construct a road from Harney Lake to the Oregon-California Trail near the Raft River.  Just east of the Deschutes River, Indians--probably Shoshones or Paiutes--attacked Smith and his men.  The soldiers killed one of the Indians and wounded several, with no loss to themselves.  Upon hearing of the incident, Maj. Enoch Steen ordered Smith to abandon road-building and go after the attackers.  Smith did so, but he was unable to catch the Indians.

August 14, 1862 Grande Ronde Prairie (LaGrande, Oregon)

Capt. George B. Curry took 30 men of Company E, 1st. Oregon Cavalry, from Fort Walla Walla to the Grande Ronde Prairie to investigate Cayuse depredations on settlers, hoping to arrest the leaders of the attacks.  He ordered ten men to remain at the Umatilla Reservation and continued on.  In the Grande Ronde, the settlers described several instances in which Cayuse chiefs Tenounis and Wainicut-hi-hi threatened to kill them if they didn't leave.

Making a night ride, Curry and his soldiers surrounded Tenounis's lodge and held the chief hostage in his tent.  The next morning, intending to take Tenounis to Fort Walla Walla for questioning, Curry sent a boy out for horses.  But instead of horses, 15 or more Cayuses showed up at the tent.  After arguing with the Indians, Curry ordered his men to tie up Tenounis and Wainicut-hi-hi.  Just then the two chiefs sprang up, seizing the arms they had concealed in their blankets.  Tenounis leveled his gun, but Curry fired first and struck him in the breast.  Wainicut-hi-hi was also killed in the tent.  Outside, the warriors fired on the soldiers, who were drawn up in a line in front of the lodge.  The soldiers returned fire, killing two Cayuses.   The remaining Indians fled into the brush.

April 7, 1864 Harney Lake Valley (Burns, Oregon)

On a hunt for 40 stolen mules and horses, Lt. James A. Waymire headed southeast from Camp Lincoln, on the South Fork of the John Day River, with 15 men of Company D, 1st. Oregon Cavalry.  The stock's owner, a Mr. Davis, had tracked the thieves, believed to be Paiutes, to Harney Lake.  Some of his employees went along with Waymire's expedition, and about 50 or more armed volunteers under "Capt." C.H. Miller joined the party at Harney Valley.  From there, the party found a trail that led about 20 miles south.

Early on April 7th., Waymire moved out with his own troopers, 30 volunteers led by Miller, and one day's rations.  Along the way, they saw a large cloud of smoke about three miles off the trail.  Waymire sent a Sgt. Casteel with three other men to investigate, then took the rest of the men over a divide, where they found perhaps 150 Paiutes in a large dry lakebed.  For hours, the two sides vied for position.   Eventually  Miller's volunteers became scattered in ineffectual groups of two and three.  Growing bolder, the Paiutes intensified their long-range firing, but only one volunteer was slightly wounded.

After four hours moving across the plain, the soldiers' horses grew tired while the Paiutes appeared to be gaining reinforcements.  After noon, Waymire wanted to try a saber charge, but Miller convinced him to fall back instead.  Waymire called the retreat, and the soldiers barely got out of the valley intact.  Yet in a brisk race that followed, Waymire thought he saw five warriors knocked off their mounts.

Sgt. Casteel's party never returned.  Waymire's men searched for them without success, and the four were presumed dead.  Back at Camp Lincoln, the lieutenant complained in his report, "It is with pain that I am obliged to state, in justice to myself and command, that our defeat on the 7th. instant is due to the want of organization under an efficient commander on the part of the citizen volunteers.

May 18, 1864 Crooked River (Paulina, Oregon)

Capt. John M. Drake of the 1st. Oregon Cavalry led an expedition southeast from Fort Dalles to look for Indians who had been raiding west of Canyon City.  A march of about 170 miles brought them near the junction of the north and south forks of the Crooked River.  There Warm Springs Indian scouts brought word of a nine-lodge Shoshone camp a dozen miles to the northeast.  Drake sent Lt. J.M. McCall, 26 men of Company D, 13 men of Company B under Lt. Stephen Watson, and 10 of the Warm Springs scouts to strike the camp "without preliminaries".

The party left early on May 17th., proceeding over high, rock country.  At 2 A.M. they reached the camp, which sat in a juniper-shaded basin, and planned their assault.   Two hours later, the scouts attacked from the north, McCall and his men from the south, and Watson's command from the west.  McCall quickly found himself mired in swampy ground they had not seen in the darkness.  Meanwhile about 50 well-armed Shoshones under Chief Po-li-ni retreated 300 yards east to good defensive positions on a boulder-strewn hillside.  Watson charge after them.  At the edge of a cliff the Indians fired into Watson's squad, killing the lieutenant and two others and wounding five.  A civilian, Richard Barker, and the Warm Springs chief Stock Whitley were also wounded.

The battle lasted only 15 minutes.  Realizing the Indians' position was impregnable, McCall retreated and sent for help.  The messenger reached Drake the next morning, and the captain hurried to the camp with 40 men of Company G.  He found McCall's party on a small rise nearly a mile from the battle site.  The Indians had fled only an hour before.  The soldiers went to retrieve their dead from the field and found the bodies had been stripped and mutilated.

The expedition had killed 3 Shoshones and captured 50 horses, but Drake's losses were 3 soldiers and 1 Warm Springs scout killed, and 5 soldiers, scout Whitley, and civilian Barker wounded.

June 24, 1864 John Day's Road (Silver Lake, Oregon)

Southwest of present-day Silver Lake, Oregon, on the California-John Day's Road, a band of Klamath and Modoc Indians attacked a wagon train escorted by a detachment of the 1st. Oregon Cavalry.  The Indians wounded 2 soldiers, stole 7 cattle, and destroyed 3,000 pounds of flour.  The train retreated south to the Sprague River to await further escort.

July 9, 1865 Malheur River (Drewsey, Oregon)

Cattle thefts and depredations near the Burnt River in the summer of 1865 led to a punitive expedition by the Oregon Volunteers.  Lt. Charles Hobarrt took 40 men of Companies A, B, and D, 1st. Oregon Cavalry, out of Camp Lyon on July 2nd.  The circuitous trail of stolen stock led to the Malheur River, where Hobart spotted several Indians on various tails and split up his command to follow them.  The soldiers camped on a flat near the Malheur on the 8th.

Before daylight the next morning, Indians, probably Paiutes, were seen lurking near the camp.  Hobart ordered the stock driven in and called the men to arms.  The warriors, about 70 mounted and maybe 70 more on foot, opened fire from all sides, heaviest from a bench on the mountan behind the camp.  The troopes threw a canister charge at them and they fell back.  A prty under a Sgt. Wallace and a Cpl. Walker, Company B, charge the hill, while fire from the front wounded a private from Company D.  Blasts from the troopers' howitzer dissuated subsequent attacks.

Hobart pursued the marauders in a running fight of five miles.  He later speculated that they had white men among them, "for they told us in good English to "come on, you sons of bitches, we can whip you anywhere".

The Indians escaped down a steep canyon, carrying off the bodies of three of their dead and and number of wounded but leaving behind one body and nine horses.

During the pursuit, Cpl. Walker and a Pvt. Phillips of Company B were cut off from the main body and had to fight their way back.  Phillips was seriously wounded, and Walker killed the Indian who was about to knock Phillips off his horse.

Hobart had two men wounded.  Indians losses were placed at five killed and perhaps five wounded.

July 17, 1865 Owyhee River (Southeastern Oregon)

Having recently returned from the Malheur River expedition (previous entry), a detachment of Company B, 1st. Oregon Cavalry, under Sgt. Wallace, was out again searching for stolen stock.  About 45 miles south of Camp Lyon, in an 800-foot canyon of the Owyhee River, Wallace found the raiders.  Dismounting, he split his command into two squads and approached the Indians' camp from two sides.  There were about a dozen warriors.

The squad under a Sgt. Phillips reached the Indians first, and two Indians washing in the river spotted them.  Phillips had to open fire before Wallace's squad was in place.  Nevertheless, the surprised Indians offered little resistance.  Several were wounded but managed to splash across the river and get away.  Four were killed on the field.  Wallace gathered up several head of livestock, along with weapons, furs, blankets, and hundreds of pounds of dried meat, then burned the camp.

December 26, 1866 Owyhee River (Southeastern, Oregon)

Lt. Col. George Crook, 23rd. Infantry, arrived in Boise City, Idaho, to join his regiment in December 1866.  Within a week, word came of depredations, probably by Paiutes, near the mouth of the Boise River.  On December 18th., Crook took 45 men of Capt. David Perry's Company F, 1st. Cavalry, on a punitive expedition.  In freezing weather the men trailed the Indians up the Owyhee River.  Crook's chief scout, Cayuse George, was unreliable, and the troops were opposed to continuing the march, but Crook forced them on.

On the morning of the 26th., Crook's men caught the raiders sleeping.  At the cost of 1 enlisted man wounded and Sgt. O'Toole mortally wounded, Crook killed 30 Indians and captured 7, plus all their stock.  "That ended any more depredations from that band," wrote Crook.

January 29, 1867 Steen's Mountain (Burns Junction, Oregon)

Continuing his winter expedition (see Owyhee River December 26, 1866), Lt. Col. George Crook, after scouting up the Malheur River, headed southeast to Camp Lyon, on the Jordan River near Silver City, Idaho.  There he released Capt. David Perry to return to Boise and took Capt. James C. Hunt's Company M, 1st. Cavalry, and 12 Indian and 4 white scouts to continue the search for Indians.

At the eastern foot of Steen's Mountain, the soldiers found a rancheria of Paiutes under Paunia.  Crook drew up his company on a low sagebrush plain only 200 yards from the village and sent scouts around the flanks to cover escape routes.  When he ordered the charge, his horse bolted and he found himself leading the command, bullets whistling all around him.  Crook's unmanageable steed carried him right through the village, but his men followed him.  When Crook and a civilian from Silver City approached a wickiup, an Indian popped out of the entrance and shot the civilian through the heart.  The warrior was then blasted with a volley from the sagebrush.

The troopers of Company M were deadly efficient.  They killed 60 Indians and captured 27.  Only 2 Paiute men and 2 women escaped.  Crook lost 1 scout and another was wounded, and 3 soldiers were wounded.

February 26, 1867 Pueblo Mountain (Fields, Oregon)

After his success at Steen's Mountain (previous entry), Lt. Col. Crook and his men rested at Camp C.F. Smith on Whitehorse Creek, east of the Pueblo Mountains, Crook marched out with Companies H and M, 1st. Cavalry, during a February blizzard.  Scouting around Pueblo Mountain, the soldiers ran into a small camp of Paiutes.  They killed two warriors and captured five women and children.  Afterward, Crook halted operations because of the bad weather and returned to Camp Smith.

June 19, 1867 Steen's Mountain (Burns Junction, Oregon)

While Lt. Col. George Crook operated out of Camp Smith and Camp McDermit on the Quinn River, just across the present-day Oregon-Nevada line, his chief of scouts scored a victory.  Archie McIntosh, a half-blood Shoshone, with a detachment of Shoshone and Warm Springs Indians, surprised a camp of Paiutes near Steen's Mountain, Oregon.  The scouts killed 12 Paiutes, wounded 1, and captured 2 more.

July 5, 1867 Donner and Blitzen Creek (Burns, Oregon)

While operating in eastern Oregon, chasing small bands of hostile Paiutes, Lt. Col. George Crook, 23rd. Infantry, left Camp Warner, 20 miles east of Warner Lake, and headed northeast toward Malheur Lake with Companies F and M, 1st. Cavalry, and a detachment of Indian scouts.  South of Malheur Lake on Donner and Blitzen Creek, Paiutes surprised Crook's camp, Stampeding and running off most of his horses.  The troopers managed to kill five raiders, but the loss of the horses forced Crook to end the expedition and return to Camp Warner with the remaining mules.

July 27, 1867 Camp Warner (South-Central, Oregon)

Based in southeastern Oregon in summer 1867, Lt. Col. George Crook increased his force to 100 men of Companies F, H, and M, 1st. Cavalry, and about 100 Wasco, Warm Springs, and Shoshone scouts in three companies under Lt. W.C. McKay, Capt. John Darragh, and chief scout Archie McIntosh.  On July 20th., Crook and his men road out of Camp Smith to seek Indians, first traveling to the Pueblo Mountains, then turning west toward Camp Warner.  The tree scout companies competed with one another to see which one could find the most trails and kill the most Indians, and the scouts did find several small bands during the march.  But on the night of July 26th., in spite of all the scouts, the party became lost in the barren country of south-central Oregon and made a dry camp.

Daylight found the men only a few miles off the Camp Smith-Camp Warner trail, not far from the latter post, and they continued on.  At noon, surprisingly close to the fort, they ran right into a Paiute rancheria.  McKay's and Darragh's scouts barreled into the camp, followed closely by Joe Wasson, a newspaper reporter who'd been travelling with the command and who now kicked in with his quick-firing Henry rifle.  The fight rolled across half a mile of sagebrush and rocks before the Paiutes, armed with only bows and arrows, holed up in a boulder field.  They fought there for another half hours.   Wasson wrote that three hostile Indians were literally burned out of the rocks, one Indian being "cooked white".  The scouts ransacked the camp for spoils.

The Paiutes lost 11 warriors, and 11 women and children were captured.  During the weeklong march Crook had killed or captured 46 Indians.

March 14, 1868 Donner and Blitzen Creek (Burns, Oregon)

While hunting down the last of the recalcitrant Paiute bands, Lt. Col. George Crook led several scouts out of Camp Warner during the winter of 1867-68.  It was bitterly cold, below zero, on March 14th., when Crook discovered a small rancheria of Indians on Donner and Blitzen Creek in the lowlands south of Malheur Lake.  The usually marshy sloughs were frozen over, and Crook, with Company H, 1st. Cavalry; Company C, 8th. Cavalry; and Company D, 23rd. Infantry, had no trouble crossing over to attack.

The soldiers entered an area of brush and willows, which blended in with the Indians' wickiups.  Crook and a guide mistakenly road right into the door of a wickiup.   The dogs began howling and gave the alarm.  The troopers dismounted, chasing the Indians through the brush.  Most of the Indians escaped over a muddy creek that had not frozen over.  One officer and two enlisted men were wounded.  Twelve Paiutes were killed and two were captured.

Crook assumed the Indians had fled to a camp several miles down the valley, where he had earlier seen smoke.  They marched there in the darkness, spending the night without fires, stomping their feet and pounding their bodies with their arms to keep from freezing.  "Our beards were one mass of ice," said Crook.

At daylight they found another partly frozen slough barring their path, and by the time they sloshed across, most of the Indians had run away.  In the afternoon, a warm Chinook blew in out of the southwest, rapidly melting the snow.  Marching over ice with up to two feet of meltwater running over it, Crook had to retreat "for fear of being waterbound".

November 30, 1872 Lost River (Merrill, Oregon)

After Modoc leader Captain Jack and his band fled the Klamath Reservation in Oregon and refused to return, Capt. James Jackson and 43 men of Company B, 1st. Cavalry, left Fort Klamath to force them back.  Captain Jack had set up his village on both sides of the Lost River near Tule Lake.  Jackson took his men down the west bank of the river, while about 25 armed citizens from Linkville went down the east bank.

Jackson reached Captain Jack and the 17 families on the west bank and demanded their surrender.  The soldiers and Modocs parleyed, but tempers boiled over.  Jackson and the warrior Scarface Charley both fired their weapons, and a melee erupted.  One Modoc, Watchman, was killed; two soldiers were killed or mortally wounded, and six soldiers were wounded.

Arriving on the east bank, the Linkville volunteers attacked Modoc warriors who were crossing the river to help in the fighting.  The Modocs, led by Hooker Jim, easily repulsed the citizens, killing two of them and wounding another.  One Modoc woman and child were killed.

Captain Jack's people escaped by boat across Tule Lake, while Hooker Jim's band rode around the east side of the lake, killing 14 settlers as they went.

June 28, 1878 Silver River (Riley, Oregon)

After the battle at South Mountain (see South Mountain,Idaho, June 8, 1878), which killed their chief, the Bannock raiders headed to Steen's Mountain, Oregon.  Joining up with some Malheur Paiutes and Cayuses, they chose Chief Egan, a Paiute, to be their new leader.  The band numbered about 700, with 450 warriors.  Trying to catch them was Capt. Reuben F Bernard, with 250 men, including Indian scouts and civilians under Orlando "Rube" Robbins and Companies A, F, G, and L of the 1st. Cavalry.

At dawn on June 28th., Bernard caught up with the Indians camped on the Silver River, about 30 miles west of present-day burns, Oregon.  Bernard led off the assault with Robbins and his scouts, who slashed through the village firing six-shooters and yelling like madmen.  The Indians, thinking they were being attacked by a much larger force, fled in all directions.  Chief Egan and Robbins squared off like two medieval knights, charging each other on horseback.  Several bullets with through Robbins's clothes, Egan was hit in the wrist and tumbled off his horse.  Robbins then shot him in the chest, but the wound was not fatal and his warriors carried him away.

Many of the Indians who stampeded downriver at Robbins's assault ran into Bernard's cavalry.  The others took positions on the bluffs surrounding the camp and stiffened their resistance.  Bernard was unable to force them off, and when he drew back to consolidate his forces, the fighting sputtered out.  The Indians stole away in the night.

The Indians lost five men and two were wounded.  Three of Bernard's men were killed and two were wounded.

July 2, 1878 North Fork of the John Day River (Dale, Oregon)

After the fight at Silver River (see June 28th.), Capt. Reuben F. Bernard and units of the 1st. Cavalry pursued the fleeing Bannocks and Paiutes.  With Chief Egan's wounding, Oytes became the band's new leader.  In a canyon leading up from the North Fork of the John Day River, at the edge of today's Umatilla National Forest, Oytes set up an ambush to slow down Bernard.

The scouts were in the vanguard, and two, Frohman and Campbell, were killed and three others wounded in the first fire.  Bernard chased off the warriors, who continued north to the Umatilla Reservation, where they hoped to recruit more followers.

July 8, 1878 Birch Creek/Pilot Rock (Pilot Rock, Oregon)

In addition to Capt. Reuben F. Bernard's efforts to stop Chief Oytes's Bannocks and Paiutes (previous entry), Brig. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard got into the action.  With about 480 men, Howard cornered the Indians on Pilot Rock, above Birch Creek, about 20 miles south of present-day Pendleton, Oregon.  Bernard was given the honor of leading the attack.

With Companies A, E, F, G, H, K, and L of the 1st. Cavalry, Bernard led a frontal advance against the entrenched Indians.  The hill was formidable, and Bernard took casualties, but he continued the advance unfalteringly.  The Indians retreated to the top, and in a final push, the troops drove them in disorder down the slopes.  With exhausted horses, Bernard could pursue no farther.

Surprisingly, only one soldier was killed and four were wounded.  The Indians likewise suffered only a few killed and wounded.

July 13, 1878 Umatilla Agency (Pendleton, Oregon)

Oytes's Bannocks and Paiutes fled south after the Birch Creek fight (previous entry), but they soon reversed direction and headed for the Umatilla Reservation, just east of present-day Pendleton, Oregon, hoping to entice that tribe into joining them.  Capt. Evan Miles, who had a 500-man force of Companies B, D, E, G, H, I, and K of the 21st. Infantry; Company K of the 1st. Cavalry; and Companies G and D of the 4th. Artillery, hurried to the agency, but Oytes's band had already arrived.

Miles waited to see what the Umatillas do.  A force of perhaps 1,000 warriors moved out to confront him, but the only ones who attacked were Oytes's warriors, the Umatillas unwilling to commit themselves.  Miles easily defended the hesitant, probing attacks against his lines, and after six hours of demonstration, the renegade band pulled away and headed eastward into the mountains.

Miles had only two enlisted men wounded, and the Indians suffered likewise.

July 20 1878 North Fork of the John Day River (Northeastern, Oregon)

After being rebuffed the the Umatillas, the Bannock and Paiute confederacy (previous entry) rapidly disintegrated.  Near present-day Meachum, Oregon, Umatilla warriors entered Chief Egan's camp under the pretense of joining him, then killed him and took his scalp back to the soldiers to prove their friendship.  Oytes hurried south with the discouraged band.

On July 20th., the soldiers again caught up with some of the Indians.  Lt. Col. James W. Forsyth, who had taken over for Capt. Reuben F. Bernard, with Companies A, E, F, G, H, and L of the 1st. Cavalry, caught up with a rear guard of Oytes's warriors on the headwaters of the North Fork of the John Day River.

In the resulting skirmish, one enlisted man and one civilian were wounded, and one civilian was killed.  There were no Indian casualties.  The rugged country prevented Forsyth's pursuing Oytes farther.


Michino, Gregory F., Encyclopedia of Indian Wars, Western Battles and Skirmishes, 1850 - 1890, Mountain Press Publishing Company, Missoula Montana, Copyright 2003.