Battle of the Abiqua - March 5 & 6, 1848
|In a misty gray morning in early March of the year 1848, two cultures came together in conflict that had been simmering for years, and boiled over—as these things often do—with a single incendiary action. In this case, the killing of Marcus Whitman, his wife and many others at their mission near Walla Walla. This local echo of those events was recorded and recounted by several sources.|
During the progress of the Cayuse war the colony in the Willamette was in a state of expectancy and alarm very trying to those who lived on the outskirts of the settlements, especially to the scattered families on the east side of the valley toward the Cascade Fountains, where it was easy to imagine danger approaching them from direction of the passes into eastern Oregon. Nor were the Indians in the Willamette unaffected by the example of the Cayuses, but tauntingly remarked that all the brave white men had gone to fight, the weak and spiritless ones only remaing at home, and that consequently they, the Molallas, and others, were set at liberty to conduct themselves as they pleased. To test their position, several outrages were committed, one of a serious character, and companies of home guards were organized in the most exposed settlements, ready to march at a moment's notice or whenever an alarm was given.
But the only occasion when anything like a general engagement took place was during a visit of the Klamaths to the Molallas, a large encampment being lodged on the head of Abiqua Creek where it debouches from the Cascade Mountains. The Klamaths and Molallas began by robbing the cabins erected on land claims at some distance from each others and growing bolder, entered the houses of families, ordering the women to cook for them; or killing their beef-cattle. As these acts usually preceded a massacre, the settlers became more and more uneasy.
At length, one afternoon in the early spring, a large party from the encampment above mentioned surrounded the residence of Richard Miller, a prominent man in Champoeg County, making insolent demands and uttering the soul-harrowing warwhoop, at the same time endeavoring to cut off the passage of a neighbor of Miller's who was seeking refuge at his house. It happened that Knox, from whom Knox's Butte in Linn Uounty was named, was riding within sight of Miller's, with the first United States mail that was carried up the Willamette Valley; he took in the meaing of the demonstration at a glance, and quickened his horse's gait to a run, leaving information at every house on the road. Others mounted and rode, spreading the story, and by morning sixty men and lads were gathered at Miller's, the Indians having in the mean time retired with threats.
An organization was immediately effected, Daniel Waldo being elected colonel, and the volunteers, horse and foot, set out for the Indian encampment; the mounted men crossing the Abiqua and proceeding up the north side under Colonel Waldo and Captain Davy, while Captain Geer marched on foot up the south side.
As soon as the Indians discovered the approach of the mounted force they began crossing to the south side of the Abiqua, as had been anticipated, and came upon the footmen concealed in a thicket awaiting them. An exchange of arrows and rifle-balls took place, when the natives hastily retreated up the creek with the loss of two of their number. Upon consultalion it was decided that as the day was well spent, those who had families should return, and the rest of the men and lads should encamp at the nearest farmhouse to be ready to move in the morning, when the pursuit was begun, a part of the absentees having returned.
The savages were overtaken on the trail to Klamath, their rear being guarded by a few good marksmen, whose arrows flew about their pursuers, hitting one man in the breast, but without penetrating his body. The riflemen soon picked off these, and drove the rest before them to a spot where high cliffs intercepted their passage on the side of the stream they were travelling, and the current was too swift to permit them to cross. Here they were driven to bay, and compelled to fight but they could do little to defend themselves against the fire of the white men's deadly rifles, by which seven warriors were killed and two women wounded.
When the volunteers came close enough to ascertain the results, of the battle, it began to dawn upon them that they might have committed a sad blunuer, the more disgraceful because one of the seven dead warriors proved to be a woman, with a strung bow in her hands, who had been killed by the same shot which pierced a male victim. In short, it was discovered that the real marauders had escaped or were never present, and that the Indians attacked were their wives, children, and a few guards left with the camp. The weather being cold and wet, with a drizzling snow, the white men built a large fire in the edge of the forest, and carrying the wounded womem to a comfortable shelter, left them for their relatives to secure, and returned home. They never boasted of their valor at the Battle of the Abiqua; but the lesson inflicted preserved that part of the Willamette Valley from any further threatening demonstrations during the Cayuse War.
The most impudent of these raids were the rape of a young girl in Lane county, some cattle thefts in Benton county, and an attack on the house of Richard Miller in Champoeg (now Marion) county. It happened that one Knox, whose home was in Linn county, was carrying the first United States mail ever delivered in this part of Oregon, and saw a man running from Indians, to gain the shelter of Miller's house. He put spurs to his horse, and notified the settlers along his route as quickly as he could. These mounted and spread the alarm, until by morning a company of men and boys numbering one hundred and fifty were rendezvoused at Miller's place, from which the Indians had in the meantime retired with threats of mischief. An organization of this force was at once effected, Daniel Waldo being elected colonel, and R. C. Geer, Allen Davy, Richard Miller, and Samuel Parker, captains.
The Indian encampment was on the Abiqua creek where it comes down from the Cascades to the valley, and towards this the volunteers marched, the mounted men proceeding up the north side, and the foot soldiers up the south side. When the Indians discovered the horsemen, they began crossing to the south side and fell into an ambush made of the footmen awaiting them. After a few shots had been exchanged, the Indians retreated up the creek, having two killed. As the day was nearly spent, those who had families to protect returned home, and the single men and boys encamped at a farmhouse to be ready for an early start next morning. Those who could do so rejoined them at daybreak, and they overtook the Indians, retreating on the Klamath trail with their best marksmen apparently in the rear. One of the volunteers was hit in the breast by an arrow which failed to penetrate, but the balls of the frontier riflemen went home.
The Indians were driven to bay at a pass of the stream where the cliffs came down precipitately on the south side, and the current would not permit the them to cross. Here, fighting the best they could, seven warriors were slain, and two women wounded - one of the warriors, however, being a woman armed.
When the battle was over it was discovered that the actual marauders had eluded them, and those who had suffered were their families and camp guards. Ashamed of their easy victory, the volunteers built a large fire in a comfortable camping place, and left the wounded women to be found and cared for by their relatives. So sensitive were the participants in the "Battle of the Abiqua," that it was seldom referred to, and never mentioned as among the defensive measures of the colonists in 1848. Yet the punishment inflicted, and the knowledge imparted on and to the savages on the southeastern border, proved salutary, and put an end to raids from that quarter.
[R. C. Geer wrote an account of this affair in the Salem, Oregon Statesman, which was copied into the San Jose Pioneer of September 1, 1877, from which the above is taken. He mentions the following names: William Parker, James Harpole, Wilburn King, James Brown, S. D. Maxon, L. A. Bird, Israel Shaw, Robert Shaw, King Hibbard, William Brisbane, [Miles] Winchester, Porter Gilliam, William Howell, Thomas E. Howell, George W. Howell, William Hendricks, Leonard Goff, Leander Davis, G. W. Hunt, James Williams, John Warnock, J. W. Shrum, Thomas Shrum, Elias Cox, Cyrus Smith, T. B. Allen, Henry Shrum and Jacob Caplinger.]
The Cayuse War east of the Cascade mountains came to an end more from the inability of the Indians to get powder than from being whipped out by the volunteers; which is, however no reflection on the volunteer soldiers, as they had faithfully put in their time with short rations and on their own equipment of clothing and arms in patrolling the Oregon trail and making travel safe. The murderers reduced to poverty and destitute of ammunition had to keep out of the way of an even half dozen men with good guns and plenty of powder and bullets.
But the story of the fighting had spread far and wide among the Indians as if by wireless telegraph, and restless spirits among them were everywhere eager to give the whites all the trouble they could inflict. And among these wandering bands were some Molallas and Klamaths who ranged about the head of the Willamette valley, and skulked along down the foothills where the towns of Brownsville, Lebanon, Scio and Stayton are now located. These marauders believing all the warriors among the white settlers had gone away to fight the Cayuses, took advantage of the situation to rob and steal whatever came handy and in one instance attacked and abused a young woman in Lane county, stole a lot of cattle in Benton county, and attacked the house of Richard Miller near Champoeg in Marion county, (Several hundred feet North of Miller Cemetary on 213).
The mail carrier - the only mail carrier in Oregon at that time came up with the robbers and immediately scattered the alarm and soon collected a force of 150 men and boys at the house of Miller to pursue and punish the Indians. This volunteer force organized immediately by the election of Daniel Waldo as colonel, and R. C. Geer, Allen Davy, Richard Miller and Daniel Parker as captains. The Indian encampment was old Abiqua creek where it enters the valley from the Cascade Mountains about where Silverton is now; and toward this point the vollunteers immediately marched with their shooting irons; the mounted men proceeding up the north side of the creek, and the footmen on the south side. R. C. Geer wrote an account of this affair which was printed in the Oregon Statesman in August, 1877.
He mentions the following settlers as taIking part in the battle which took place: William Parker, James Harpole, Wilburn King, James Brown, S. D. Maxon, L. A. Bird, Israel Shaw, Robert Shaw, King Hibbard, William Brisbane, Miles Winchester, Port Gilliam, William Thomas Howell, George Howell (founders of Howell Prairie), William Hendricks, Lew Goff, Leander Davis, G. W. Hunt, James Williams, J. Warnock, J. W. Shrum, Thomas Shrum, Elias Cox, Cyrus Smith, T. B. Allen, Henry Shrum, and Jacob Caplinger.
The volunteers overtaking the Indians before dark, they retreated up the creek after exchanging a few shots with the attacking party. Night coming on, those who had families to protect returned home, leaving the single men and boys to watch the enemy. At daybreak the next morning pursuit of the foe was commenced and a running fight kept up for most of the day. Seven warrior Indians, one of whom was a woman, were killed and two Indian women wounded. But when the battle was over it was discovered that the volunteers had not engaged the fighting marauding Indians, but those who had suffered were the families and camp guards, while the real robbers and fighters had escaped entirely. The easy victory was not a matter to be proud of and was never much referred to for thirty years afterwards, when it was all threshed out in the public press again.
But there can be no doubt that if prompt resistance had not been made to the raids of these Indians, the marauders, emboldened by suceess, might have brought in all the warriors of the Klamath tribe, a nation of fighters, as proved by Capt. Jack in the Modoc War, and many lives would have been lost and homes burned out.
While the troops were pursuing the Cayuses, certain of the more restless indians in Western Oregon began a series of tentative raids on the isolated foothill farms in the Willamette Valley, apparently for the purpose of testing the temper and the resources of the settlers. A war party of Klamaths and Molallas surrounded the home of Richard Miller, a prominent citizen of Champoeg County, in March, 1848, and their boldness so alarmed the people of the valley that a military organization was effected, some sixty men, young and old, volunteering for instant service. Daniel Waldo was elected colonel and R. C. Geer, Allen Davy, Richard Miller and Samuel Parker were chosen as captains.
The company pursued the indians to Abiqua Creek, engaged them and killed two. Continuing the pursuit on the following morning, the younger men of the command overtook what they supposed to be the rear guard of the fleeing warriors and again gave battle, killing seven, one of whom proved to be a woman armed with a bow and arrow, and wounding two indian women. The main party of the indians escaped, but were so effectually intimidated that they did not repeat the foray.
The true significance of the "battle of Abiqua creek" is derived from the incidental circumstance that it was kept secret from the outer world for nearly twenty years after it occurred, and was seldom referred to by those who participated in it. This silence is more expressive than words could be of the repugnance of the better class of settlers for the killing or wounding of non-combatants under any provocation. It is probably, from the fact that the fighting was carried on at long range in the mist and haze of a March morning, that the volunteers were not to blame for their mistake.
The Abiqua River lies in the heart of the Silverton country. Rising in the high Cascades, it flows in an almost due westerly course to its juncture with Pudding River. As it debouches upon the plain, its vale is scarcely a mile in width; nearing its confluence its gentle slopes draw in the waters thrice that far. From the hills to its mouth it is six miles. On the northern bank stands a hilly eminence, some three hundred feet in height, termed by the early settlers "the butte," on whose summit now stands Mount Angel College. To the Indians it was Topalamaho, the "place of communion," and its savage shrine drew worshippers from afar. Eastward along the upper reaches of the stream, from ancient times, a pathway led over the mountains, the Abiqua trail. Over it the Cayuse came to the pleasant land of his Molalla kinsmen, who spoke his tongue, but who remembered naught of his old home beyond the ranges.
Along the ancient stream tradition relates that bloody battles were fought and the ghosts of the slain, disconsolately wandering to and fro, haunted its forbidden ground. As it emerges from its rocky gorge, it was crossed by the Klamath trail. From the frosty plateaus of the Klamath, the land of Kemush, to the lazy Chinook tepees by the falls and beyond to the rich salmon villages beside the Great River, the Klamath trail carried the commerce of tribesmen north and south with the seasons. At the waters of the Abiqua it first reached the warm, sheltered levels of the Willamette valley. Here as winter came the Klamaths gathered by the village of their kinsmen, the Molallas, far from the cold and storms of their southern homeland.
As early as 1844 the Molallas and the Klamaths were committing depredations. The country was filling up with settlers. The affray at Oregon City, in which Cockstock, a Wasco, a tribe intermarried with the Molallas, lost his life and George W. Le Breton, secretary of the Provisional government, was killed, excited the natives. The Cayuses were restless as early as 1846, and began to threaten Doctor Whitman. Klickitats often entered the Willamette Valley, claiming some rights antedating the arrival of the first whites. The fate of eastern tribes was well known in the west. It was a period of unrest throughout the northwest. The quiet of village life was often disturbed by outlaws among the Indians, who preached a war of extermination. The settlers' stock roamed at large, because there were as yet no fences. Cattle on the range was slaughtered and barbecued on the spot at the expense of the immigrant.
In the autumn of 1847 the situation rapidly grew worse. In November the Cayuses killed Doctor Whitman and several members of his mission at Waiilatpu. News reached the settlements in the Willamette early in December. Most of the men who could be spared at once volunteered for service in the campaign against the Cayuses. Many of these men had taken up donation claims. While they were gone, their families and their cabins were left unprotected. The savages broke into many, stealing blankets and clothing, or whatever was to be found there. The donation claim of James Harpole in the Waldo Hills was on the Klamath trail. Indians passing by stole a sack of flour. His daughter Belly went over to David Colver's, where the men of the neighborhood were raising a barn. Harpole, with James Brown and others, took their horses and pursued the thieves, but did not overtake them.
Crooked Finger, "a desperate Molalla" controlling the Molallas and the band of Klamaths on the Abiqua, was continually traveling from the Molalla River to the Santiam on the Klamath trail, insulting settlers' wives by ordering them, in the absence of the men of the household, to cook him a meal at any time of the day. As nearly all the settlers along the trail were newcomers, he often succeeded by threats and gestures in frightening them to do his will. He said all the brave men were gone to war and he could do as he pleased. With a band of Klamaths to support him, Crooked Finger drove off a settler from the claim Leonard Schindler afterwards acquired.
One day, while Richard Miller was absent, the Klamaths and Molallas came to the cabin, where Mrs. Miller, frightened by their threats and insults, cooked dinner for them. After eating everything on the table, they celebrated the feast by dancing on it. Such insults were not to be borne quietly. The settlers began to prepare for the trouble which was now apparently near at hand. Companies of "home guards" were organized to be in readiness at a moment's warning. In the Waldo Hills, Ralph C. Geer was chosen captain of "as brave a company of men as ever mustered." "They met every Saturday at Squire Dunbar's place to drill." "Sometimes I laugh at the condition we presented on dress parade, for on trying to form a straight line our eyes would be attracted to a pair of buckskin pants that would not form a line."
Over on the Santiam, Allen J. Davy raised a company of mounted men. Samuel Parker's company was made up of men residing near Salem. Richard Miller, after the visit of the braves to his house, got together the settlers between the Abiqua and Butte Creek and some few from Elliot's Prairie in Clackamas county.
As the Cayuse war went on with the savages unchastised and the murderers still at large, Cayuse emissaries to all the neighboring tribes east and west were working feverishly to form a native coalition for a war of extermination. The indications of trouble in the Silverton country grew more ominous day by day. Eighty Klamath warriors were at the Molalla camp on the Abiqua. Cattle and other property continued to disappear. When the Molallas were accused, they denied the offense and suggested the guilt of the Klamaths. These in turn stoutly maintained their entire innocence, but intimated that their kinsmen, the Molallas, were not a bit past stealing. In this dilemma, since eye witnesses were usually wanting, there was nothing for the settler to do but to retire discomfited from the parley, leaving the thieves in possession of the stolen goods. At these successes the insolence of Klamath and Molalla increased.
Early in March, 1848, two Cayuse scouts arrived at the village on the Abiqua which was on land later acquired as a donation claim by George Woolen. To the settlers the annoyances of past depredations now became a deep-seated anxiety, lest the valley Indians be excited into a general war against the weakened settlements. It was well known that the Palouses and some Nez Perces had joined the Cayuses, although things in eastern Oregon quieted down after Governor Abernethy's peace commission explained to the tribes that only the actual murderers were wanted.
To prevent the consummation of so dire a calamity by anticipating it if possible, some of the settlers living nearby determined to visit the Molalla village and hold a council with Coosta, the Molalla chief.
As they approached the camp coming down over the hill from the northeast, they unexpectedly came upon the Cayuse scouts and made them prisoners. The reason for their presence in the country was demanded but the spies assumed a haughty and defiant attitude and refused to answer. They stated, however, that the Klamaths had determined not to leave the valley and that the settlers could not force them to return; as they would keep concealed in the forest. The prisoners were placed on a high precipice overhanging the Abiqua, which was at a flood stage, and some of the settlers were left to guard them. The remainder of the party, according to the prearranged plan, proceeded toward Coosta's village, a few hundred yards down stream. The Molalla was sullen, answering only in grunts and dark looks. He refused to explain the presence of the Cayuses and said he would protect them. Coosta respected Richard Miller as the leader of the settlers. It is difficult to explain his silence when questioned.
He did not know the Cayuses were prisoners. Perhaps he thought them well on their way home from their unsuccessful mission. If he suspected their capture he might have thought thus to safeguard them.
Coosta stoutly asserted the right of the Klamaths to remain, saying they were his kinsmen and under his protection.
At this moment the sound of firing was heard. The guards came down from the cliff above. They told a thrilling tale. To escape the evident wrath of the excited settlers, the two Cayuses leaping from the rocky cliff, had plunged headlong into the boiling flood half a hundred feet below and safely fled despite the rain of bullets hurled upon them. The settlers now returned home.
Early in the morning of March 4, fifty Molallas and Klamaths in battle regalia appeared at the cabin of John Warnock and demanded that he go with them to Richard Miller's to act as interpreter. Evidently an important council was about to be held. The Indians were especially afraid of Miller and were resolved to do something to him. For several days they had dressed in their war paint and gone about his neighborhood whooping and yelling furiously but doing nothing. Their actions had, however, greatly alarmed the community. Warnock's fearlessness was equal to the occasion. Leaving his wife at the cabin, he took down his rifle and walked out in the midst of the sullen warriors. He directed Coosta to precede him on the trail, which the chief did, marching his men on ahead. During the half hour's walk to Miller's, Warnock never took his eyes off the chief, who in turn cast uneasy glances over his shoulder at the face of the resolute Scotchman.
He told Coosta that at the first sign of treachery there would be one Indian the less and the chief took him at his word.
The little valley quickly passed over its strange cavalcade. Not unseen, however, for the long line of savages was observed by the settlers, now thoroughly alarmed. On their fastest horses they spread the alarm to the settlements of Molalla Prairie, Howell's Prairie, the Waldo Hills and beyond to the Santiam. Thomas B. Allen, the son of Samuel Allen, was one who carried the alarm northward to William Elliott in Clackamas county. There had been a "raising" there that day and he expected to find a crowd.
The Miller cabin stood in a hollow of the hill a few hundred feet north of the cemetery and perhaps two hundred feet east of the present road. Alarmed by the whooping savages, neighbors took refuge in the cabin.
Upon their arrival the Indians put on their boldest front, and the purpose of the council was now apparent. They alleged that the Cayuse spies had been killed by the settlers left to guard them and demanded five horses in payment. These demands were refused when Warnock stated that he had seen the Cayuses alone the day before and that one of them had shown him a lock of hair which he said had been cut from his head by a bullet of one of the guards. Upon receiving this information, Miller refused the demand for payment, but offered to give them dinner.
The whites went into the cabin and barred the door, while an angry parley ensued. The chiefs were making no efforts to control the warriors and some shots were fired into the walls of the cabin. When Coosta came to the door to repeat his demands, he was seized by Warnock and unceremoniously pulled into the cabin. The men of those days carried butcher knives in their boots or on their hips. Grasping Coosta by his scalp, he drew one of these gleaming weapons and jamming the startled savage down on a block or stool, he raised his scalp. "I," said Warnock, "am a sahalie tyee. Unless you take your men and depart in peace I will kill you." Coosta knew this was the truth and ordered his men to stop firing. The Indians then withdrew but not before threatening to "cut the throats of the Miller, Warnock and Patterson families."
These terrible threats stirred the settlers to belated action. News of impending war spread like wild-fire to distant settlements. Early on the morning of the 5th the companies of home guards appeared at Warnock's, the appointed rendezvous. A council was held and Daniel Waldo was elected colonel. It was decided that the Klamaths should be sent home.
The Indians had retired to the Molalla camp at the foot of the hills. Here for some distance to the west the south bank was heavily wooded with dense underbrush, while a little prairie ran along the north shore from John Patterson's claim almost to Coosta's camp. The men on foot under Ralph Geer went up the south side, while Davie's horsemen, with some additional men, proceeded across the prairie. Daniel Waldo was in command of the contingent on the north side. Under Geer were William Parker, first lieutenant; James Harpole, second lieutenant; Wilburn King, orderly sergeant, James Brown, S. D. Maxon, Lorenzo Byrd, Israel Show, Robert Show, King Hibbard, William Brisbin, Miles Winchester, Porter Gilliam, William Howell, Thomas E. Howell, George W. Howell, Leander Davis, Leonard Eoff, George W. Hunt and James Williams. These were of Geer's own company. John Warnock, familiar with the vicinity, acted as guide.
Others in the south side company were J. W. Shrum, Thomas Shrum and Henry Shrum from the Waldo Hills, Elias Cox, Cyrus Smith, Samuel Allen and Thomas B. Allen from the Abiqua. Jacob Caplinger, from near Salem, was probably a member of Samuel Parker's company.
The plan was for both companies to reach the Molalla camp simultaneously. The orders were that no shooting was to be done. It was desirable to send the Klamaths home without bloodshed if possible. The Indians had scouts observing the approach of the settlers. Despite orders not to shoot, Joseph Churchill fired at the sentinel on the north side as he was running in and he fell from his horse. The horsemen dismounted and leaving their animals in charge of Oliver Grace, cautiously approached the camp. Prompt as they were, the men on foot were ahead of them. But now the camp was alarmed. The Klamaths began crossing to the south side of the river on a footlog. Before they were out of the woods Geer's men were assailed by a shower of arrows. The firing became general. A drizzling rain had been falling all day and the underbrush was loaded and dripping, rendering ineffective the rain-soaked flintlocks of settlers and Klamaths.
James Brown and Elias Cox possessed cap rifles which did most of the execution on this day. The whites also had two cap duelling pistols. A Klamath warrior holding a sodden flintlock was busily engaged in cocking and snapping it at John Warnock, who, armed with a similar weapon, was likewise trying, though in vain, to despatch the redman. In their eager anxiety to get the first shot, the two combatants had approached to within a few feet of each other, oblivious to all about them. Neither seemed to appreciate the humor of the situation. At this moment Elias Cox came up and taking in the scene at a glance fired at the Klamath, who dropped his rifle and plunged into the river, swimming toward the opposite shore. As he pulled himself out of the water and lay for a moment still, a second shot was fired at him, but he did not flinch. Sylvester Nicholson came to the fight armed with only a butcher knife tied on the end of a pole. Many shots were fired at Red Blanket, but he escaped that day.
During this time the men on the north side were not in the fight, although close enough to see it. Uncertain what course the Molallas would pursue, they kept close to their horses. Coosta and his men, observing their presence, decided to keep out of the fight and their camp was not molested. The settlers held steadily to their purpose to send the Klamaths out of the country.
Two Klamaths were killed when Red Blanket and his band fled up the river. Captain Geer gave orders to cease firing, which were instantly obeyed. The old chief Katka retreated very slowly. After going some fifty yards, he turned back toward the settlers, approaching within sixty yards and began shooting arrows so fast that there appeared to be two or three arrows in the air at one time. Twenty rifles were leveled at him and the old hero fell pierced by as many balls.
The short wintry day was drawing to a close. The settlers returned to the rendezvous at Warnock's. As the location of the Klamaths was then unknown, it was feared that they might start homeward on the Klamath trail, committing depredations as they went. Accordingly those living near the trail returned home to protect their families. Less than half a hundred remained at the meeting place. James Brown rode all night, gathering men for the next day, riding to David Colver's, five miles south of Silverton, and to Paul Darst and Charles Benson near Sublimity.
That night it snowed. Considerably augmented in numbers, the settlers proceeded to the scene of the previous day's encounter. Coosta was questioned. All that he would say was that the Klamaths were gone. At last it was decided to scout up the stream. In a short distance tracks were discovered in the new fallen snow. Following these some distance, the Klamath camp was discovered in the midst of a bit of boggy ground covered with an almost impenetrable thicket of vine maple and underbrush. They had chosen a strong position and one, under ordinary circumstances, easy to defend. The arrival of the settlers was greeted with war whoops and a shower of arrows, as before. The action was brief but deadly. Grimly closing in, the settlers returned the fire with deadly execution. The dusky warriors began to fall and the first was Red Blanket, whose charmed life had carried him safely through the previous encounter. Dismayed by their losses, the Klamaths fled toward the mountains.
One of the squaws was now found to be wounded, crying out in Chinook for mercy. On this the settlers ceased their fire. The Klamaths this day had ten killed. Their losses in two days were thirteen killed and one wounded. One white man was wounded. James Stanley was struck in the breast with an arrow. Holding it with one hand, he killed the Indian; then for fear it might be poisoned he deliberately pulled it out despite the pain.
The white men now returned to the Molalla camp. At Coosta's village, both Molallas and Klamaths were told what was to be expected of them in the future. The Klamaths were to be permitted three days in which to bury their dead and take the trail for home. The wife of Red Blanket asked Jacob Caplinger why the whites were so hard on the Klamaths, while they did not kill the Molallas, who were just as insulting and mean. He explained that the Molallas owned this "illihee" but the Klamaths did not belong in the valley. She said that was "close wawa" and that she "kurntuxed" what he meant, and would go home and never return. The Molallas probably buried the dead, as the whole band of Klamaths passed Geer's that night on the way to Jefferson pass. Before leaving the camp a few admonitions were given to the Molallas. One was that Crooked Finger was not to enter the house of a settler unless there was a white man in the house. If he did so, he was to be shot on sight.
Shortly after the return of the settlers to their homes, the Klamaths, wailing their mournful death chants, departed southward. For a few days the men of Geer's and Davie's companies watched the trail but the Klamaths were finally gone. They never returned to the Great Valley. Some of them took part in the Rogue River wars of the fifties and later were assigned to reservations, where the tribe is apparently thriving.