He said: "Suit yourself about it," and turned and walked away.
That night I took my entire scout force, besides twenty soldiers that volunteered to go along, and descended the mountain. We worked hard all night, and all that we could find was twenty-one bodies, and that day they were buried, after which we commenced making preparations to return to headquarters.
Up to that time I had not had a chance to talk to Lieut. Jackson concerning the battle in Black canyon, as we had both been busy ever since. When on a march it was my custom to ride ahead of the army, so the morning that we were ready to start back I had given my orders to the scouts, had mounted, and was just ready to start, when Lieut. Jackson said: "Wait a minute, Captain, and I will ride with you."
The reader will understand that by this time the Lieutenant and I were as intimate friends as though we were brothers, and when he told me anything I could rely upon it, and I had always made it a rule to be punctual with him. If he would ask me a question I would always answer it the best I could, and if I asked him for any information, if he knew he would tell me. And here I would like to say that while Gen. Crook bore the name of being a great Indian fighter, I know for a fact that Lieut. Jackson planned more victories two to one than Gen. Crook did himself, and had it been in the Lieutenant's power to have kept those soldiers out of Black canyon, they never would have entered it.
That morning after we had ridden a short distance he mentioned the fight and said: "Cap, that was a horrible affair." I said: "Lieutenant it was not half as bad as I thought it would be, for when I saw you go down there I did not expect to see half of the boys come back." He said: "Had it not been for the infantry coming to our rescue just when it did not a horse would have come out of the canyon, and but very few soldiers."
I asked him where the next move would be and he said that Gen. Crook was going to return to the fort and we would go farther out on the road to protect the emigrants, who would soon begin to move toward California. For the next two or three days everything was undergoing a change around camp; rigging up packs and fitting up in general.
The soldiers who had their horses killed were mounted on the choice horses that we had captured from the Indians, which made very fair cavalry horses.
As soon as we had completed our arrangements Gen. Crook started back for Fort Yuma, much wiser than he came, while we pushed farther out on the Butterfield route, with two companies of cavalry and fifty infantry-men.
We traveled four days from our old camp before making a general halt. The evening of the fourth day just a short time before we were ready to go into camp the scouts came in and reported having seen a small band of Indians only a short distance west of us, and they said they had watched them go into camp.
I reported to the Lieutenant and he started with one company of cavalry after them, leaving orders for the command to go into camp at the next water, which was about a mile ahead of us. This proved to be a small hunting party, and they in some way discovered us before we got to their camp. When we came in sight of them we were about a quarter of a mile away from their camp and they had their horses all packed and were beginning to mount. We gave chase, but they had the start of us so that we only got two out of the band, but we crowded them so close that they had to leave their pack- horses, and we got all of them, there being twenty.
I captured a fine American horse that showed good breeding. He was a sorrel, with white hind feet and a white stripe on his face and branded C on the left shoulder. I made the Lieutenant a present of this horse, and he afterwards proved to be a very fast animal, as the Lieutenant told me several years after, that during the winter months he kept the soldiers nearly all broke with that horse. He told me that he proved to be the fastest half mile horse he ever saw.
THE MASSACRE AT CHOKE CHERRY CANYON.—MIKE MALONEY GETS INTO A MUSS.—RESCUE OF WHITE GIRLS.—MIKE GETS EVEN WITH THE APACHES.
The emigrants now begun to come along and we were kept busy night and day looking after the small bands of Indians that were continually making murderous forays in spite of all we could do to prevent.
With only three hundred soldiers and twelve scouts, and a country over one hundred miles in extent to guard, the service was exacting, and our lot was not altogether a happy one.
One day in July, in company with George Jones and John Riley, I started out in the direction of Black canyon to see if I could locate any small band of Apaches that might be prowling around. We traveled all day, and not seeing any Indians or sign of them, concluded to return to camp and get some much needed rest, and did so. It now seemed that there were no Apaches near us so I went to Lieut. Jackson's tent to report to him, intending to then lie down and rest for the day at least. He had just rolled out of bed, but he looked worn and haggard as if he had had a bad night of it. He asked me what news I had and I said good news, as we had seen no Indians or any fresh sign, but that I was worn out, having been almost constantly in the saddle for twenty-four hours. I asked him if he had any news and he said he had, and bad news too. The Indians had attacked a train in Choke Cherry canyon, burned all the wagons, but how many persons they had murdered or how many had escaped he could not tell me, as there were no scouts in camp at the time.
He wished so know if I could spare some men to go and bury the dead and locate the Indians. I replied that George Jones and John Riley were there, but that like myself, they were very much fatigued. He said he wanted them for another purpose. Then I offered two men, good and fresh, Jim Davis and Mike Maloney. But I had some uneasiness as to Mike. Not that there was any doubt about his bravery but he was so utterly incautious. However, I decided to go with them myself, as tired as I was. So as soon as I could get a bite to eat and a fresh horse saddled, we were off and on the way to Choke Cherry canyon.
Lieut. Jackson asked me when he could expect to hear from me. I told him that if I succeeded in locating the Indians in a body I would report to him at once, but if not he might not hear from me until my return. So we shook hands and he retired to his tent.
I directed Mike to go straight to the canyon and to keep on the east side until he came to the trail leading to Agua Caliente, and then take that trail direct for Sand Point; and when near the point to signal me by barking like a cayote, and that I would answer him by gobbling like a turkey; that he must meet me at Sand Point at three o'clock sharp, and if he was not there at that time I would know that something was wrong. I also told him to be careful and not run into an ambuscade, but above all not to be taken prisoner. Then I asked him if he could bark like a cayote. His answer was: "Sure, Captain, it's mesilf that can make a bloody cayote ashamed of himself bairking, and I belave ye's is afraid for me, but O'ill tell ye now there's no bloody Apache in all Arizony that's goin' to take this Irishman prisoner. I'm sure they don't want me schalp anyway, for me hair is too short."
I told Jim Davis to go to Wild Plum Ridge and then follow the trail to Sand Point, for him to signal me the same manner as Mike and I would answer him in the same manner.
Everything being understood between us we separated, each taking his appointed route, and I striking direct for the late emigrant camp. Before I got there, however, I ran onto the trail of apparently three Indians and concluded to follow them up. I had not gone a great distance away until I espied them in a little ravine a short distance away and they were having a scalp dance. I tied my horse secure from observation and then commenced to crawl upon them. They were circling two scalps that they had hung upon sticks stuck in the ground, every now and then drawing their bows as if going to shoot at them. I crept along cautiously, expecting that the Indians would be so absorbed in their scalp dance that I would get in close pistol shot before they discovered me; but in this I was mistaken, for when yet a long rifle shot away they espied me, and the moment I saw I was discovered I opened fire with both pistols, which caused them to flee in hot haste, leaving the two scalps hanging on the sticks. I went up to where they were and found that one scalp was that of a woman and the other that of a man.
I was now certain that there had been some emigrants murdered, and I soon made up my mind that about the first thing to do was to locate the bodies and bury them; but on consulting my watch I saw that I must hurry if I made Sand Point by three o'clock. Just as I had turned and started back to my horse, who should come up but Jim Davis. He had been trailing the Indians, which brought him over in my direction, and when he heard the shots he had come with all haste thinking that I was in trouble. We both turned and rode on to Sand Point, arriving there about half past three, but no Maloney was in sight, so after giving the signal agreed upon and receiving no answer, we made up our minds that he was in trouble, and we struck out to find his trail.
While we were on our way to hunt Maloney's trail Davis said: "Captain, I believe those Indians had two prisoners with them, and I think they are both women, judging from their tracks and other indications; see here what I found while I was trailing them." And he showed me two pieces of calico of different color. He thought that they had been dropped by the prisoners in the hope that some white person might find them and follow. He also said that there were small twigs broken off along the trail, which would indicate that they expected a search for them.
When Maloney left us he made direct for Sand Point, but before he reached there as he was riding along he discovered a small shoe track, he dismounted and tried to follow it, but it seemed that the tracks extended no farther. This confused him greatly, and he said to himself: "Be the loife of me it was only just there that I saw the thrack, and it's sure I am that she could not have flew away. Oh! here it is again, and begorra I belave it's the thrack of a white woman, for sure I am that no dhurty spalpeen of an Injun could iver make such a dainty thrack as that. Sure and I'll look in that bunch of brush, perhaps it's there she is, the poor crayther."
He made his way up to the brush cautiously with a pistol in each hand, and just as he peered in two Indians sprang upon him and grabbed his arms, which caused his pistols both to be discharged up in the air. They quickly bore poor Maloney to the ground and soon had him bound hand and foot. They then drove a stake into the ground and tied Mike to it, and began to gather brush for the fire. This did not suit him a bit, but all he could do was to hurl an avalanche of words at them, which, of course, they did not understand and to which they paid no heed.
"Ah, ye dhurty divils," said Mike. "Ye's have took me pistols both away from me. Ye's know I can't hurt ye's without me guns, so what's the use in ye's tyin' me like a hog, ye dhurty blackguards. Let me loose and Oi'll be afther lavin' ye's. Oi'll do it be the boots that hung on Chatham's Hill. I do belave they are goin' to burn me alive. O, ye bloody haythens; let me loose and Oi'll fight the pair of ye's if ye's have got me pistols."
The Indians by this time had the fire started, but Mike still retained his nerve, cussing the red fiends by all the powers in the Irish vocabulary.
Davis and I were pushing on with all possible speed in the direction of the place we expected to find Maloney's trail, when we heard two pistol shots in quick succession further up the canyon, so we put our horses down to their utmost in the direction from whence the sound of the shots came.
After running about two miles we came in sight of a small fire a short distance away that seemed to be but just kindled. We dashed up at full speed and found Mike tied to a stake and two Apaches piling brush on the fire. We fired at the Indians through the gathering darkness, but only killed one, and the other one made off about as fast as you ever saw an Indian go. Jim kicked the fire away from Mike and cut his bonds before he was burned to speak of. I asked him how he came to be taken prisoner by just two Apaches, and his story ran like this:
"Oi'll tell ye, Captain, it was on that sage-brush hill there while I was ridin' along I saw a thrack in the sand and sure I was that it was not the thrack of an Injun for it was a dainty little thing and the hollow of the foot didn't make a hole in the ground like an Apache's and Apaches niver wear shoes, aither. Well, I got off me horse and stharted to follow the thrack, and whin I got to that bunch of brush the dhurty rid divils sprang out on me like a pair of hounds, tied me hands and fate, and was tryin' to burn me aloive whin ye's came up."
"Well, Mike," said I, holding up the scalp of the Indian we had killed, "here is one Indian that will not bother you again, but be more careful next time."
We were all of the opinion that there was a woman alone somewhere in those hills that had escaped from the Indians when they burned the emigrant train, and we decided to keep up the search until morning; so we agreed on the following search: To separate about a quarter of a mile apart, and to commence circling a large hill or knob close by covered by a dense growth of sagebrush that in some places was as high as a man's head when he was on a horse, and every few rods to hallow, that in case she was secreted around there in hearing of us she would answer, and in case any one found her he was to fire two shots in quick succession, when the other two would go to him immediately.
We made almost the entire circuit of the hill, hallowing every little while, when I finally thought I heard a faint answer. I called again and then listened intently, and I was sure I heard an answer, after which I turned and rode in the direction from which the answer came. After riding a few rods I called again, when I heard the faint answer quite near, and I soon found a young girl of about eighteen years. She was overjoyed at seeing me, but was too weak to rise. I asked how she came there, and she said that the train in which her family was traveling had been attacked by the Indians. The people, or a part of them, had been murdered and the wagons burned, she and her younger sister had been taken prisoners, and when night came they were tied hand and foot and staked to the ground, and all laid down for the night.
"After we thought that the Indians were all asleep," she said, "I made a desperate effort and freed one of my hands, although it cost me a great deal of pain. After I was free I soon released my sister and we then ran for our lives. We had got but a short distance when the Indians discovered our absence, and raising the yell, started after us. My sister outran me and I soon hid in a little thicket and they missed me, but I fear they have overtaken her."
I asked her what her name was and she said it was Mary Gordon, and her father's name was Henry Gordon. He was sheriff of their county in Illinois for two years before starting west. I now fired the two shots to call Jim and Mike, and they were not long in getting there.
As soon as Mike came up he said: "Sure, Captain, and wasn't I after tellin's ye's that it was no bloody spalpeen of an Apache's thrack that I be follerin' lasht avenin'?"
Miss Gordon now seemed just to have realized that she was alone in a wild country, for she wrung her hands and said: "Oh! what shall I do in this desolate country without a relative or a friend; it would have been better if I had been killed when my poor father and mother were. O, kind sir, what will I do?" and she sobbed as if her heart would break.
I told her not to grieve, that we would protect her and see that she got safely to civilization, and that we would also try to find her sister. I asked her if she was not very hungry and she said she was, as she had eaten nothing for almost thirty-six hours. At that Mike said: "Sure, Captain, it's meself that has a pairt of me rations lift, and Oi'll go and get it for the poor crayther, and Oi'll bring the horses at the same toime," and he started off muttering to himself, "Ah, them Apaches, the dhirty divils; I'd like to kill ivery wan o' thim."
He soon returned with the horses, and handing me his rations, he said: "Sure, Captain, it's mesilf that thinks I'd better be afther takin' a look around here-abouts, as thim durty haythens might be afther playin' us the same game as they did me last evenin'." I told him it was a good scheme, that we might go up to the top of the hill and take a look as it was then most day, and if there were any Indians around they would be astir and that he had better let Jim Davis go with him, but he said no, for Jim to stay with me and the young lady and see that no "bloody blackguard of an Apache got her again," so I cautioned him to keep his ears and eyes open, and he struck out.
When Mike had gone Miss Gordon turned to me and asked my name. I told her my name was William F. Drannan, but I was better known on the plains as the Boy Scout.
"Oh, kind sir," she said, "are you the Boy Scout? I have often heard my father speak of you, and he said you were liable to put in an appearance when one least expected it. I thought of you a thousand times yesterday and to-night, but I had no idea that you were in a thousand miles of here."
I told her that I was at present scouting for Gen. Crook, who was at Fort Yuma, but that Lieut. Jackson, with three companies of soldiers, was stationed but a few miles west of us.
We had been waiting for Mike Maloney's return about two hours and were beginning to get uneasy about his delay and speculating as to what caused his absence so long, when we heard two pistol shots. This was always our signal to call a companion; so telling Jim to look after the young lady, I swung myself into the saddle and was off like the wind in the direction from whence the call, as I supposed it to be, came. It was now getting daylight, and when I got to the top of the hill I looked down to the south and I could see a fire. I did not hesitate, but went down that slope through the heavy sagebrush like smoke through the woods. As soon as I was near enough to distinguish objects around the fire I saw Mike bending over some object, and when I rode up to him, to my great surprise and delight, I saw it was a young girl. Mike was beside himself with excitement.
It appeared from his story that upon reaching the top of the hill after he had left us he came in sight of the fire and concluded to investigate; so riding down as near as he thought safe he tied his horse and commenced crawling. He soon saw that there were but two Indians and to his horror he saw that they had a white girl tied to a stake and were preparing to burn her. He crept up to within about twenty yards of them and fired, killing one of the Apaches, and as the other one turned to see what was up he fired again, killing the other one; then brandishing his pistol over his head he dashed up to the fire, exclaiming: "O, ye murtherin bastes, I'm avin wid ye's now; Oi'll learn ye's how to stake a poor divil down to the ground and thin try to burn him." Then he went up to the girl, cut her loose from the stake, and she raised up in a sitting posture, "Would ye's moind lettin' me help ye to yer fate, Miss?" said Mike. "O, I'm so tired and weak I can't stand," said the girl. "They have almost killed me dragging me over the cactus."
Just as I came in sight Mike fired two shots as a signal for us to come to him, but I was there almost before the echoes died away in the mountains. When I rode up Mike was most beside himself with glee; his tongue ran like a phonograph, and within five minutes he had given me the history of the whole transaction and had invoked a curse on the whole Apache tribe from all the saints in the calendar.
I told Mike that we had best get the girl on one of our horses at once and be off to where Jim and the other girl were, and from there on to headquarters, for there was no telling how many more of the red devils there might be lurking around. "Faith, Captain, and it's right ye are this toime, too," said Mike, "and it's me own horse she can ride, the poor damsel." So saying he led his horse up and we assisted the young lady to mount.
As soon as we were fairly started I asked the girl her name and she said it was Maggie Gordon. She also spoke of her sister having been taken prisoner along with her, and when I told her that Mary was safe, her joy knew no bounds. This news so revived her spirits that she talked quite freely with us on the way over to where Jim Davis and the other girl were. When we got to near where they were Mary looked up and saw us and exclaimed, "Oh! there's Maggie!" and when they met there was the most pathetic scene of greeting I ever witnessed.
As soon as they had a good cry in each others arms we gave Maggie something to eat, after which we put the girls, one on Jim Davis' horse and one on mine, and headed for camp, arriving there in the afternoon.
We did not go to the late emigrant camp, as we could do nothing toward burying the dead, burdened as we were by the two young women, so Lieut. Jackson sent a platoon of soldiers out to do that last act of charity.
There were four families besides the Gordon family murdered, and those two young ladies were the only ones that escaped, so far as we knew. When the next emigrant train came along we sent the Misses Gordon on to Fort Yuma, and from there they drifted on into California, and I never heard of them again.
MASSACRE OF THE DAVIS FAMILY.—A HARD RIDE AND SWIFT RETRIBUTION. —A PITIFUL STORY.—BURIAL OF THE DEAD.—I AM SICK OF THE BUSINESS.
We remained here for some weeks yet, piloting and escorting emigrants through the mountains, but having very few scraps with the Indians. When the emigrants quit coming and our provisions had run very low, we made preparations to return to Fort Yuma. But to make sure that no more of the crawling trains would be winding along that way this season, myself and another scout, with two days' rations, started on a little scurry eastward. But a tour of four days developed no further sign of emigrants or Indians, so the scout and I returned to find the command all ready to start. We were just about taking up the line of march for Yuma when a teamster on his way to Phoenix with a load of freight, drifted into camp and informed us to our horror, that the Indians had attacked the Davis ranch, killed the old man and his two sons, treated the old mother and the two daughters shamefully, and then pillaged the place and drove off all the stock.
I had no sooner ridden into camp that night than an orderly came and took my horse and said: "Lieut. Jackson wishes to see you at his tent immediately." I knew that there was something very unusual the matter or he would not have called me to his quarters until I had had my supper. On approaching his tent I saw that he was much excited. He told me what was up, and said it was strange the Indians would come down there that season of the year and commit such depredations as that. After he had laid the whole matter before me just as he had it from the teamster, he said: "Send the very best men you have on their trail." I told him I would go myself and take George and two other men with me.
I was convinced before finishing my talk with him that it was not the Indians that had committed the depredation, but that I kept to myself.
Just as I walked out of the Lieutenant's tent I met George and told him that we had a long night's ride before us, to pick out two of the best men we had, also to take the best horses—we had, and to change my saddle to Black Bess from the horse that I had been riding that day. I also gave orders to have everything in readiness by the time I was through supper, which did not take long, although I was very hungry. The boys were all on hand by the time I was through eating, and we mounted and rode away for the Davis ranch. The way we had to go to reach the ranch was about twenty miles down grade and inclined to be sandy all the way. We were all well mounted and we scarcely broke a gallop until we reached the Davis place.
A pitiful sight was there. The old lady and her three daughters had carried the old gentleman and two boys into the house and laid them out on benches in the best manner possible, and to say that it was a heart-rending scene does not begin to express it.
When I stepped into the house Mrs. Davis pointed to the dead bodies and said: "Captain, if you will avenge their death I will be a friend to you as long as I live." I told her that I would do all I could, that I was in a great hurry to get on the trail of the perpetrators, and I would like her to give me all the information she could relative to the matter.
She then led the way into a private room and related the whole circumstance, telling me how the Indians had come there, decoyed her husband and two sons to the barn and there shot them down, then rushed to the house, and before the inmate had time to shut and bar the door, came into the house, caught and tied her to the bed post, and then disgraced her three daughters in her presence. Then they gathered up all the horses and cattle about the ranch and drove them across the desert.
In the direction she said they had started it was eighty-four miles to water, but I did not believe for a moment that they would attempt to cross the desert in that direction.
After I had gained all the information I could, I said: "Mrs. Davis, those were not Indians, but Greasers or Mexicans, and I will capture them before twenty-four hours if I live."
I started one man back to camp to tell Lieut. Jackson to take the trail direct for Aw-wa-col-i-enthy, which in English means hot water, (Agua Caliente).
Lieut. Jackson had become over anxious as soon as we left and had started after us with one company of cavalry. My messenger met him five miles from the Davis ranch, and there he turned in the direction of Agua Caliente.
In starting out from the ranch I took the trail of the stock, and after we had gone quite a distance I called George to my side and told him it was not Indians we were following, but a crowd of cut- throat Greasers, and we didn't want to have a fight with them until the soldiers arrived if we could help it, but that we would fight them before we would allow them to escape.
I had never told George until now what all they had done, and when I related to him the whole affair he said: "We will not allow one of them to escape." We could see that they were turning in the direction of Agua Caliente and had made this circuit merely to throw any one off that might attempt to follow.
This was what I thought when I dispatched the Lieutenant to come to Hot Springs.
It was twenty-seven miles straight through on the road from the Davis ranch to Agua Caliente, but the way we went that night we supposed it was about forty miles, making sixty miles that we had to ride that night, while the soldiers if they started direct from camp would only have to travel thirty-five miles.
Finally the trail made a direct turn for Agua Caliente and I again "telegraphed" the Lieutenant to hurry up with all possible speed and try to reach the place before daylight, my object being to catch them in camp, as our horses would be too tired to run them down after they were mounted on fresh horses.
My second messenger did not see the Lieutenant at all on the road, for unbeknown to me he had started from headquarters soon after we did, and after having met my first courier, had pushed on with all possible haste.
When George and I were within a mile and a half of Agua Caliente we met some of the stock feeding leisurely along the direction of their old range. We examined them closely and found that they were the Davis stock.
We had not gone much farther until Black Bess raised her head, stuck her ears forward and commenced sniffing the air. I told George to watch her, and he said: "We must be near them." So we dismounted, took off our spurs, picketed our horses, and started cautiously towards their camp.
When we were within three hundred yards we could see the glimmer of their fires that had not entirely gone out, evidence that they had not gone to bed till late. We crawled so near that we could see the outlines of the fiends lying around the few coals that were yet smoldering. Now and then a chunk would blaze up as if to show the exact positions of the murderers.
After satisfying ourselves that this was the party we were in pursuit of, we returned to our horses.
I told Jones to mount his horse and not spare him until he met the soldiers; and to hurry them up so we could catch the Greasers in bed; and I said to him as he was mounting: "If you do not return with the soldiers before daylight I will take chances of holding them here with Black Bess until you do return." But he had not gone more than two miles and a half when he met the soldiers coming in a stiff gallop.
George reported that we had the outlaws located, and the Lieutenant gave orders for the soldiers to muffle their spurs and sabres and to be quick about it.
I did not have to wait long until Black Bess told me they were coming, for when they got near me I could not keep her still.
Upon the arrival of the soldiers I told Lieut. Jackson the particulars of the murder as given to me by Mrs. Davis, and also where the murderers were. He divided his men, sending fifty around on the opposite side of the camp, giving them half and hour to make the circuit, George piloting them, and I the other fifty. When the time was up we rode down, both squads arriving almost at the same time. Just one word from the Lieutenant and the Greasers were surrounded, and us with our pistols drawn.
The outlaws seemed to be sound asleep, but when we commenced to close in on them they woke, and the first one that jumped to his feet had his pistol in his hand, but when he looked around and saw the situation he dropped his pistol before the Lieutenant had time to tell him to drop it.
It was not yet daylight, but their being a very bright moon, one could see first rate. All the Mexicans were soon on their feet and begging for their lives. Lieut. Jackson being able to speak Mexican asked if any one in their crowd could speak English, but they said they could not speak a word in that language. He then asked them in Spanish who their Captain was, and a big, rough, greasy looking fellow said he was the Captain.
The Lieutenant then told him to form his men in line out on the road, saying: "I will give you five minutes to prepare to die." He then turned to his orderly and told him to relieve them of their arms, and they gave them up without a word of protest. He then told them all to stand in a line and when the five minutes were up they must die. During all this time their Captain was pleading for their lives and making all kinds of promises, but the Lieutenant turned a deaf ear to them, not even answering them.
When the five minutes were up the order was given, "Platoon No. 1, front face. Make ready. Take aim. Fire." And all of the scoundrels fell at the first round, although some of them had to be shot the second time to get them out of their misery.
This being done they were taken about a hundred yards away and buried in the sand.
By that time it was daylight and Lieut. Jackson made a detail of twenty-four men to assist George and I in driving the stock back to the Davis ranch. The rest of the company returned to, headquarters, but went by way of the Davis ranch to assist in burying the bodies of the old gentleman and the two sons. Lieut. Jackson told me that when he arrived at the ranch and saw the dead bodies and heard the sad story of the wife and mother and of her daughters, he said it was more than he could stand. He made a detail of six men to dig the graves and he returned to headquarters and moved the entire command down there and they all attended the funeral.
After the funeral was over Mrs. Davis called me to one side and said: "There is one more favor I wish to ask of you before you leave." I asked her what it was. She said as she was keeping a boarding-house she would have to keep travelers, and that she would like to have us leave a man to look after the stock until such time as she could get some one to work for her. I told her that if the Lieutenant did not object I would leave a man with her that would take as much interest in the stock as if they were his own, and that she would find him a perfect gentleman at all times.
I called Lieut. Jackson aside and mentioned the matter to him. He told me to leave a man and that he would also detail a man to stay, which he did then and there. I asked George Jones to stay, which he was willing to do.
Mrs. Davis asked us to send her a good, trusty man and she would pay him good wages, and she said she would write to her brother, who, when he came out, would close up her business there as quickly as possible, and they would return to the East.
Arriving at the fort and finding no idle men, Lieut. Jackson wrote to San Francisco for a man, and in about three weeks he came, and he proved to be a good one, as Mrs. Davis told me several years afterwards.
It was nearly a month after we arrived at the fort before George Jones came. The next day after he arrived he told me that he had just received a letter from his father, who was then living somewhere in the state of Illinois, and had written him to come home as he wanted to emigrate to Oregon the following spring, and wanted George to pilot the train across the plains and over the mountains to the country where big red apples and pretty girls were said to grow in such abundance.
George had made up his mind to accede to the wishes of his father, and as we had been there twenty-two months and both were tired of the business, and having made up my mind to quit the scouting field, I talked the matter over with George for two days and concluded to accompany him to San Francisco; so we went to Gen. Crook and told him we were going to quit and go away.
He asked what was the matter, if anything had gone wrong. We told him there was nothing wrong at all, but we were tired of the business and had made up our minds to quit. He said he was very sorry to have us leave, but if we had made up our minds to that effect there was no use saying any more. He asked me how many head of horses George and I had. I told him that there had been over one hundred head of horses captured, and that many of them had been used by the soldiers all summer, but if he would let George and I select thirty-five head from the band of captured horses he could have the rest of them. This he agreed to, so there was no falling out over that.
Having settled up with Gen. Crook and everything arranged, in a few days we were ready to start.
The day before our departure for San Francisco we went around and visited with all the boys in blue, telling them we were going to leave, and that for good. They expressed their regrets, but bade us bon-voyage and good luck for the future.
BLACK BESS BECOMES POPULAR IN SAN FRANCISCO.—A FAILURE AS RANCHER.—BUYING HORSES IN OREGON. THE KLAMATH MARSH.—CAPTAIN JACK THE MODOC
George Jones and I pulled out for San Francisco, via Los Angeles, this being the regular mail line at this time, and we made the trip to the City of the Golden Gate inside of a month.
As soon as we arrived at San Francisco we commenced selling our horses at private sale. We put up at what was known as the Fashion Stable, which was kept by a man by the name of Kinnear, whom we found to be a perfect gentleman, and who rendered us almost invaluable assistance in disposing of our horses. This was the first stable that was built on Market street. As soon as our horses were sold Jones boarded the steamer for New York. When we separated here, having been so intimately acquainted for so long, the separation was almost like that of two brothers, and we had not the least idea that we would ever meet again in this world.
I remained in the city three months, not knowing what to do or where to go. During this time I spent much of it in training Black Bess, as I found her to be a very intelligent animal, and she would follow me like a dog wherever I would go when she had the saddle on, and during that winter I taught her to perform many tricks, such as to lie down, kneel down, count ten, and tell her age. I could throw my gloves or handkerchief down and leave her for hours without tying her and she would stand there until I would return, and no one could come near them or take them away, nor would she allow a stranger to put his hand on her. One day I came to the barn and Mr. Kinnear asked what I would take to saddle Black Bess up and let her follow me to Wells, Fargo & Co.'s express office and back to the stable again without touching her on the way.
I said: "Mr. Kinnear, if it will be any accommodation to you I will have her follow me up there and back and it will not cost you anything."
"All right," he said, "about one o'clock come to the stable, for I have made a bet of fifty dollars with a man from the country, that you could make her follow you from the stable to Wells, Fargo & Co.'s express office and back to the stable and not touch her."
Wells, Fargo & Co.'s express office was a distance of eight blocks from the stable, and on my return I found quite a crowd there waiting to see the performance. I threw the saddle on the mare, put the bridle on her just as though I was going to ride, took my whip in my hand, and started down the sidewalk and the mare walked down the street. Montgomery street was always full of teams at this time of the day, and also the sidewalk crowded with people, but I walked near the outer edge. She would pick her way along the street among those teams as well, apparently as though I was on her back and at the same time would keep her eyes on me all the time. On arriving at the place mentioned, I took my handkerchief from my pocket and threw it down at the edge of the sidewalk, walked into the office and remained five minutes or more, and when I came out she was still standing with her head over the handkerchief as though she was tied. I picked the handkerchief up, started back down the sidewalk, and she took the street, keeping her eyes on me all the time until we reached the stable. The farmer was somewhat wiser, but about fifty dollars short in actual cash, but vowed he would not bet again on a man's own game.
On my return several different men asked me what I would take for her, but I informed them money would not buy her from me. Before putting her in the stable I had her perform several tricks, and then bow to the crowd, which by this time had grown to more than a hundred people.
I had now lain around so long that I had become restless, as it never did suit me to loaf about a town, so I concluded that I would try ranching. I had enough money to buy a good ranch and stock it, not thinking that it required any great amount of skill. So I started up the Sacramento river to look for one. After I was out most a month, this now being the last of February, 1867, I found stock looking well and found a man that wanted to sell out his stock and ranch. He had three hundred and twenty acres of land and one hundred and fifty head of cattle, some chickens, a few hogs, and a very few farming implements. After I had ridden around over the ranch several days and looked at his stock, and finding the range good, I asked his price. He wanted nine thousand dollars. I believed that this would be a nice quiet life, and although I did not know anything about raising stock, yet I thought I would soon catch on as the saying goes, so I made him an offer of eight thousand dollars, which offer he accepted. He was to leave everything on the ranch but his bed and clothing and a few little keep-sakes that he had about the house.
Now I started in to be an honest rancher, believing that all I would have to do was to ride around over the range occasionally and look after my stock, take things easy, and let my stock grow into money, as I had heard it said that stock would while one was asleep.
I stayed on this place until the spring of 1872, ranching with very poor success, by which time I had learned to a certainty that this was not my line.
When a man came along and wanted a cow I always sold him one. I would take his note for the price and, as a rule, that was all I ever got.
In the spring of 1875 a man named Glen came into that country from Jefferson county, Missouri, and to him I sold my entire possessions. I got out of that scrape by losing my time and one thousand dollars in money, but I had five years of almost invaluable experience in ranching and stock-raising.
In those days this was what we called a Mexican stand-off. I lost my time and money, but had my life left. Nothing occurred during this five years of my life more than the routine of business that naturally belongs with this kind of life, so I will pass over it. I had such poor success ranching that I don't like to think of it myself, much less having it told in history.
Leaving here I went to Virginia City, Nevada. This was in the palmy days of the Comstock, and everything was high. After looking around for a few days and seeing that horses were valuable, I started for Jacksonville, Oregon, to buy horses for the Virginia City market. On my arrival at Jacksonville I met a man by the name of John T. Miller, who was a thorough horseman, and was said to be a great salesman, which I knew I was not myself. I could buy, but I could not sell to advantage like some other men.
I formed a partnership with Miller, and we were not long in gathering up eighty-five head of horses in Jackson county and starting to market with them.
I was back to Virginia City in a few days over two months from the time I had left there, and Mr. Miller proving to be a thorough salesman, we soon disposed of our entire band at a good figure, and in less than one month from the time we arrived at Virginia City we were on our way back to Oregon.
After we returned to Jacksonville we settled up and had cleared eleven hundred dollars each on the trip. That beat ranching all hollow. Now Mr. Miller proposed to me that we go into horse raising. He said he knew where there was a large tract of swamp- land near Klamath Lake. Swamp and overflown land belonged to the state, and this swamp-land could be bought for a dollar an acre by paying twenty cents an acre down and twenty per cent yearly thereafter until it was paid.
Miller being a thorough horseman, I thought I might succeed better in the horse business than in cattle. So in company with him, I started over to look at the land, and being well pleased with the tract, I made application for it at once. This land was located just on the outer edge of the Modoc Indian reservation. Miller being acquainted with all the Modocs, he and I, after I had concluded to settle, rode down to Captain Jack's wick-i-up, which was a distance of two miles from where I proposed settling. Captain Jack was the chief of the Modoc tribe, and I found him to be a very intelligent Indian, and he made a very good stagger towards talking the English language.
When Mr. Miller introduced me to Chief Jack—or Captain Jack as he was called—and told him that I was going to be a neighbor to him, he said, "All right, that's good, and we be friends, too." I told him yes, and if the white men did not treat him well to let me know and I would attend to it. Jack then asked Mr. Miller where Mr. Applegate was, he being agent for the Modoc tribe, and lived in the neighborhood of Jacksonville, Oregon. Miller told him that he did not know. Jack said: "My people heap hungry and Applegate no give us anything to eat, no let us leave reservation to hunt; I don't know what I do."
Mr. Miller told Jack that he would see Applegate and tell him of their condition. The next morning Miller started back to Jacksonville and I remained on the land selected to be my future home.
Every few days Jack would come to my place to ask my advice as to what he should do, saying: "We no got anything to eat for three moons (three months). He tell me he come bring beef. He no come, no send beef." Finally Jack came to my camp one day and said: "I don't know what I do, no meat, no flour, wocus nearly all gone."
I told Jack that I would go home with him and see for myself, not knowing but that his complaints might be without foundation. I mounted my horse, and riding over with Captain Jack, my investigation proved to a certainty that he had been telling me the truth all this time, for they were almost destitute of anything to eat, there being nothing in the entire village in the line of provisions but a little wocus, or wild rice.
Jack said: "Agent no come next week and bring something to eat, I take all Injuns, go Tule Lake and catch fish. What you think?"
I said: "Jack, I do not know what to say, but you come home with me and I will give you one sack of flour and I have a deer there, I will give you half of that, and by the time you eat that up perhaps the agent may come with provisions." A few days later Jack came to my house and said: "Agent no come to-morrow, I go Tule Lake, take all Injuns. Plenty fish Tule Lake, easy catch them." To this I did not reply. I dare not advise him to leave the reservation, and at the same time I knew they were almost in a starving condition and were compelled to do something or sit there and starve; and here I would say that in this case Captain Jack was not to blame for leaving the reservation. I just state these few facts merely to show that while the Indians are as a general rule treacherous and barbarous, at the same time, in many cases no doubt similar to this one, they have been blamed more than was due them.
As the old adage goes, I believe in giving the devil his just dues, and I do not believe that Jack would have left the reservation at that time had he been supplied with provisions sufficient to live on.
I do not pretend to say whose fault this was, but merely state the facts as I know them.
THE MODOC WAR—GEN. WHEATON IS HELD OFF BY THE INDIANS—GEN. CANBY TAKES COMMAND AND GETS IT WORSE—MASSACRE OF THE PEACE COMMISSION.
Two weeks later I went out to Linkville to buy some groceries. This place was fifteen miles from where I had settled, and the nearest trading post or settlement to me, telling my two hired men that I would be at home the next day or the day after at the outside.
The store was kept by a man named Nurse. He told me he had a band of mares that he would sell cheap, and insisted on my staying over night with him, saying that he would have them brought in the day following, which I agreed to do, and the next morning he started his men out to look for the mares. They did not get them gathered up until the afternoon, and Mr. Nurse and I were in the corral looking at them, when a man rode up at full speed, his horse foaming all over, and said in a very excited tone that the Modoc Indians had gone on the war-path and had murdered most all the settlers on Lost River and Tule Lake, the latter being only twenty miles south from Linkville. The courier that brought the news to Linkville said that the soldiers had come down to Tule Lake and fired on Captain Jack without any warning whatever, which we learned later to be all too true.
The Indians had scattered all over the country, and had killed every white person they ran across for two days and then fled to the lava beds. This put an end to the horse trading. Mr. Nurse said that some one would have to go to Jacksonville and report at once, for they were not strong enough there to protect themselves against the Modocs, but no one seemed willing to tackle the trip, and I told them that if no one else would go, I would go myself. It was now near sundown, and it was called one hundred miles to Jacksonville from there. I started at once, going part of the way over the wagon road and the remainder of the way on the trail.
I arrived at Jacksonville the next morning before sun-up. The first man I met was the sheriff of the county, who was just coming out to feed his horses. I related my story to him in as few words as I could, and told him to raise all the men he could. I had my horse taken care of and went to bed, for I was very tired; with directions to wake me up in time to eat a bite before starting. At four o'clock that afternoon they woke me, they having sixty men then ready to start and one hundred ready to follow the next morning.
Among the balance who were ready to start was Mr. Miller. When I led my horse out he asked if that was the horse I had ridden over from Linkville. I told him I had nothing else to ride. He went to the stable and got another horse and insisted on my changing my saddle, but I told him I would ride my horse to the foot of the mountains and then change, which I did.
We reached Linkville the next morning at nine o'clock, and Mr. Nurse gave us breakfast. That afternoon we went down to Tule Lake and buried three dead bodies, being of the Brotherton family, the father and two sons, and the next day we buried four more, after which I left this squad and returned to my ranch to get my two hired men away, which took me three days. By the time I had got back to Linkville the news had spread all over the country of the outbreak of Captain Jack and the Modoc tribe, and Gen. Wheaton had moved his entire force down to the lava beds, where Captain Jack had his forces concentrated.
Gen. Ross and Col. Miller had moved in, but I do not know just the exact number of men they had in their command. After this scare I could not get any men to work on the ranch, so I abandoned it for the time being and stayed around Linkville about a week, when I received a message from Gen. Wheaton to come to his quarters immediately. This message was carried by one of his orderlies. I complied, the orderly returning with me. I was not acquainted with Gen. Wheaton, nor had I ever seen him before. When I was introduced to him he asked me if I knew Captain Jack, chief of the Modoc tribe. I told him that I was well acquainted with him and all of his men. "Now," said he, "I'll tell you what I wish to see you about. Col. Miller recommends you very highly as a scout, and how would it suit you to take charge of the entire scouting force, and organize them to suit yourself and start in at once?"
I said: "General, I have tried hard to quit that business. In the first start I went at it for the glory in it, but having failed to find that part of it, I have become tired. I will not answer you now, but to-morrow morning at nine o'clock I will come to your quarters, at which time I will have my mind thoroughly made up." I left his quarters and went over to Col. Miller's. I told the Colonel that the General had sent for me. He urged me in the strongest terms to take hold of it, saying that there was not a practical scout in the entire command. Finally I promised him that I would again enter the scouting field.
The next morning I was up early and had breakfast with Col. Miller. After obtaining the pass-word I saddled Black Bess, and at nine o'clock was at Gen. Wheaton's quarters.
I left Black Bess standing about twenty paces from the General's tent, took one of my gloves and stuck it on a bush, and went in to see Gen. Wheaton. I told him that I had decided to start in scouting for him, and I suppose I was in his tent about half an hour talking matters over about the scouting business. All being understood, I started out to get my mare, and saw quite a crowd had gathered around her, and one man in particular was trying to make up with her. Just as I stepped out of the door I heard him say, "This must surely be Black Bess. I wonder who owns her now." And until he called the mare's name I had not recognized him, and it struck me that it must be George Jones, but not being sure, I said: "Is that you, George?" He said: "Yes, and that's my old friend Capt. Drannan." This was a surprise to us both. It was the first time that we had met since we separated at San Francisco in the fall of 1866, at which time we had both decided to quit fighting Indians, but here we both were again in the field. After a good square shake and giving a hasty synopsis of our experiences during the time we had been separated, George asked if I was going into the scouting field again. I told him that I had just accepted a position as chief of scouts with Gen. Wheaton. I then asked him what he was doing for a livelihood. He said that he had joined the Oregon Volunteers, and asked me if I did not think I could get him relieved. "For," said he, "I would rather work with you than any one else. We have been together so much we understand each other."
He told me his Captain's name and that he belonged to Col. Miller's regiment. I did not lose any time in seeing Col. Miller and telling him that I would like very much to have him relieve George Jones from his command, as I must have him for my first assistant.
This was the first time that Col. Miller had heard of George Jones being a scout, and he wrote out the release at once and went out and had Gen. Ross sign it and gave it to me.
George and I went to work at once to organize our scouting company, drawing our men mostly from the volunteers. About the time that we were thoroughly organized it was reported that the Pah-Utes and the Klamaths were all coming to join Captain Jack. This lava bed where Captain Jack was fortified, was sixty miles from the Klamath reservation, but the Pah-Utes were one hundred and fifty miles away, and it both surprised and amused me when those old officers would tell me that they expected the Pah-Utes any time. Being afraid of an attack from the rear, we had to scout a strip of country about forty miles long every day, and all the arguments that I could produce were of no avail. After going through this routine for about a month Gen. Wheaton concluded to take Captain Jack by storm. Captain Jack was there, and had been all the time, in what was called his stronghold in the lava bed, being nothing more or less than a cave in the rocks, sixty yards long, and from ten to thirty feet wide, there being one place in the east side where a man could ride a horse into it, and numerous places where a man could enter with ease. Down on the east and south sides are numerous holes in the rock just large enough to shoot through. Captain Jack had his entire force in there, had killed all of his horses and taken them in there for meat, and through the Klamath Indians had got a good supply of ammunition.
After Gen. Wheaton had made up his mind to take the stronghold by storm, he asked if I could give a description of the place. Up to this time there had not been a shot fired at the soldiers by the Indians, and I had a number of times passed in gunshot of the main entrance, and I know that the Indians had recognized me, but because I had befriended them they would not shoot at me.
I drew a diagram of the cave in the best style that I could, showing the main entrance and the natural port holes, and when I submitted it to the General, I said: "General, you can never take Captain Jack as long as his ammunition lasts, for he has the same kind of guns that you have, and the majority of his men have pistols also, and all that he will have to do is to stand there and shoot your men down as fast as they can come."
But the General thought different. The day was set for the attack, and on Wednesday morning the storm was to commence. The army had its camp one mile from Jack's stronghold, so the soldiers did not have far to march. About sunrise the whole command marched down and turned loose on Jack, and were soon bombarding him in great shape. This was kept up for three days and nights, when Gen. Wheaton withdrew, having lost sixty men and something over twenty wounded, as I was told by Col. Miller afterwards, but Jack did not come out.
A short time after this Gen. Canby came over and took the entire command. He brought with him a minister by the name of Col. Thomas.
The second day after Gen. Canby arrived he asked Gen. Wheaton, in the presence of quite a number of officers, how many men Captain Jack had with him.
Gen. Wheaton said; "My chief scout could tell just the number that he has, but I think some sixty-three or sixty-four warriors."
"And you had fifteen hundred men in that three days' fight?"
Gen. Wheaton said he had.
"And you got whipped? There was bad management somewhere," said Canby; and he concluded he would take Captain Jack by storm, but postponed it for a month, this bringing it into the foggy weather in that country, and in that time of the year it is the foggiest country I ever saw. I have seen it for a week at a time in the lava bed that I could not tell an Indian from a rock when twenty paces away. And this was the kind of weather Gen. Canby was waiting for. He marched down to the lava bed and placed his howitzer on the hill about a quarter of a mile from Jack's stronghold and commenced playing the shell. This was done in order to give the infantry a chance to march down to the main entrance of the cave and there shoot the Indians down as fast as they came out.
Three days and nights this was kept up, but not an Indian came out, and Gen. Canby drew off, losing over one hundred men killed, but I never knew the exact number wounded.
When Gen. Canby found he could not take the Modocs by storm, he sent to Yreka, Cal., for a man named Berry, who was a particular friend of Jack's, or rather Jack was a particular friend to him. On Mr. Berry's arrival at headquarters Gen. Canby asked him if he thought he dare go to Captain Jack's stronghold. Mr. Berry replied that he would provided that he went alone. I never knew just what Mr. Berry's instructions were, but, however, I accompanied him to within two hundred paces of the main entrance to the cave, in order to direct him to the proper place, and he chose his time to go after dark.
I remained there until after he returned, which was before midnight. A few days later I learned that there was to be a council meeting between Gen. Canby, Rev. Col. Thomas and Captain Jack, and in a conversation with Col. Miller he asked me my opinion in regard to the matter. I told him that I did not understand all the particulars, as I had heard but little about it.
He then told me that Gen. Canby and Col. Thomas, with George Meeks as interpreter for them, and Meek's squaw as interpreter for Captain Jack, were to meet Jack next Sunday morning for the purpose of effecting a treaty with the Modoc tribe, they to meet Jack at a certain place, without escort or side arms. After the Colonel had told me of the council and manner in which they were to meet Captain Jack, I said: "Colonel, do you really believe they will go?"
"Go," he replied. "Gen. Canby will go if he lives till the time appointed for the meeting."
I could not think that Canby would do such a thing, and I told Col. Miller that there was one thing he could depend upon, if they went in that manner they would never return alive. I also told him I did not consider Mr. Berry showed good judgement in letting Captain Jack choose his own ground for the council and agreeing to meet him without escort or side arms.
That afternoon Gen. Wheaton sent for me, and I responded to the call at once. When I arrived at the General's camp he opened the conversation by saying: "Captain, have you heard of the meeting that is to take place between Gen. Canby and Captain Jack?"
I said: "No, General, I had heard nothing of it." This being a little white lie, for it had been told me in confidence by Col. Miller. I asked what the object of the meeting was, and when and where it was to be.
He said it was for the purpose of effecting a treaty with Captain Jack, and was to be held in a little glade or opening on the other side of Dry Lake canyon, this being about one mile south of headquarters, and within a quarter of a mile of Captain Jack's stronghold. Said he: "Gen. Canby and Rev. Col. Thomas, accompanied by George Meeks and his squaw as interpreters, are to meet Captain Jack there without escort or even side arms. Now, Captain, tell me seriously, what you think of this affair."
I said: "General, they may go, but they will never return."
The General then asked me if I would have a talk with Gen. Canby. I told him that if Gen. Canby asked for my opinion in the matter I would give it just as frankly as I would to you, otherwise I had nothing to say, for Gen. Canby was a man that seemed to feel too much elevated to speak to a scout, except just to give orders. Gen. Wheaton told me that he would see Gen. Canby himself and have a talk with him. This was on Friday previous to the Sunday on which they were to meet in council.
In the afternoon of the same day it was reported that there had been Indians seen along Tule Lake. I mounted my horse and started with a platoon of soldiers and a sergeant, and when we had advanced about twelve miles I was riding about two hundred yards in advance I saw something dodge into a bunch of sarvis brush. Beckoning to the sergeant, he dashed up to my side and said: "What's up, Captain?"
"I got a glimpse of something just as it ran into that patch of brush, and I think it was an Indian."
He had his men surround the brush and I went to scare the Indian out. I searched that patch of brush thoroughly, but could find no Indian or anything else, and the boys all enjoyed a hearty laugh at my expense.
The sergeant proposed that we all have a smoke, so we turned our horses loose to graze. The sergeant lit his pipe, threw off his overcoat and laid down to rest. As he cast his eyes heavenward in the direction of the top of the only pine tree that stood in that patch of brush, he exclaimed: "Captain, I have found your Indian." Of course we all commenced looking for the Indian, and I asked where he was, whereupon he told me to look up in the pine tree, and on looking I beheld an Indian with whom I was well acquainted, as he had been to my ranch several times in company with Captain Jack.
I asked him to come down, telling him that I would protect him if he would, but he would not utter a word, nor would he come down. I tried for at least a half hour to induce him to come down until I had exhausted all the persuasive powers I possessed, but to no avail.
I told the sergeant that I had treed his Indian, and now he could do as he pleased with him, and the sergeant ordered him shot down, after which we returned to headquarters, this being the only Indian seen on the trip.
The next morning Gen. Wheaton sent for me to come to his quarters, which I did, and in a conversation with him he asked me if I was still of the same opinion concerning the council meeting as when I talked with him before. I told him that I was, that I had not seen or heard anything to change my mind in the least. He then said: "I had a conversation with Gen. Canby and Rev. Col. Thomas, and Col. Thomas scoffs at the idea you advance, claiming that they were going in a good cause, and that the Lord would protect them." I told the General that George Jones and I were going to see that meeting. He said that would not do, for it was strictly forbidden. I assured the General that I would not break any rules, but that I would see the meeting. I had given my scouts their orders until ten o'clock the next day, and when dark came Jones and I were going to the bluff on this side of the canyon and there secrete ourselves, where, with a glass, we could see the whole proceeding and not be discovered by the Indians.
The reader will understand that a scout is, in a certain measure, a privileged character.
As soon as it was dark Saturday evening George and I went to the place mentioned and remained there until the time arrived for the meeting. About nine o'clock that morning the fog raised and the sun shone brightly, making it one of the most pleasant mornings we had experienced for some time, thereby giving us a good view of the grounds of the proposed meeting, and we could see Captain Jack and another Indian there waiting. I could recognize Jack's features through the glass, but the other Indian I could not. In a short time we saw Gen. Canby, Col. Thomas, George Meeks and his squaw coming. When they reached the lower end of the little opening one hundred and fifty yards from where Captain Jack was standing, they dismounted, tied their horses and walked slowly in the direction where Captain Jack was standing, and every few steps Gen. Canby would look back, apparently to see if any one was following them. On arriving at the spot they shook hands with Captain Jack and the other Indian, and probably fifteen minutes elapsed when Captain Jack dropped his blanket from his shoulders to the ground and suddenly turned and picked it up. This, I believe, was a signal for an attack, for the next moment I saw smoke from a number of guns from the rocks and could hear the reports also. Col. Thomas, Meeks and his squaw started on the run, but Gen. Canby fell in his tracks, a victim at the hands of Captain Jack and his followers. Col. Thomas only ran about ten steps, when he fell. Meeks ran nearly one hundred yards, when he fell, and the squaw escaped unhurt, but badly scared, I presume.
As soon as Gen. Canby had fallen George Jones asked if he had better go to headquarters and give the alarm. I told him to go with all possible speed. George reached camp twenty minutes ahead of me. The other officers could not believe that he was telling the truth, but when I arrived and told them that the entire crowd had been killed, with the exception of the squaw, they were thunderstruck, and by the time I was through telling them the squaw was there.
I do not know just how many soldiers were sent to recover the dead bodies, but that day there was a general attack made on Captain Jack, which was kept up from day to day almost as long as the war lasted.
When it was foggy, as it was nearly all the time, the Indians almost invariably got the best of the soldiers, from the fact that they would come out without any clothing on their bodies with a bunch of sage-brush tied on their heads, and their skins being so similar in color to that of the lava rocks, that when the fog was thick, at a distance of thirty or forty yards, it was impossible to distinguish an Indian from a rock. There were more or less soldiers killed and wounded every day until the end of the war.
One day only a short time after the assassination of Gen. Canby and Col. Thomas, the soldiers were attacked in Dry Lake canyon by the Modocs and were getting badly butchered up.
As I rode along Gen. Wheaton dashed up by my side and said: "Where can those Indians be and what kind of guns have they? I have been losing men all day and there has not been an Indian seen." I told the General I would try and locate them and let him know just where they were. Taking George Jones and another man by the name of Owens with me, I rode around on the opposite ridge, dismounted, and leaving my horse with the other boys, I crawled down among the rocks. I had on a buckskin suit and could not be seen much easier than a Modoc when in the lava beds. They kept up a continual firing, and now and then I could hear a bullet whiz near me. After I had crawled about sixty yards as cautiously as I could I raised on one knee and foot and my gun was resting across my leg while I was peering through the fog to see if I could get sight of any Indians, and listening to see if I could hear an Indian's voice. I had remained in this position about five minutes when a ball struck me on the shin-bone, just below the boot top. It appeared to me that I could have heard it crack at a hundred yards. Never before in my life had I experienced such a miserable feeling as at that time. I thought that my leg was broken into atoms. I started to crawl back up the hill, taking the same route that I had come down, and when I had ascended the hill near enough to the boys so they could see me, George Jones saw that I was hurt.
He dropped his gun and ran to me at once and said: "Captain, are you badly hurt?" But before I had time to answer him he had picked me up bodily and was running up the hill with me.
When he got to where our horses were he said: "Where are you shot?" I said: "George, my left leg is shot off." "What shall we do?" said George. I told him to put me on Johnny, that being the name of my horse, and I would go to headquarters. He said: "Let me pull your boot off," at the same time taking hold of my boot. I caught my leg with both hands to hold the bones together while the boot was being removed from the leg, thinking that the bone was shattered into small pieces. As soon as George had succeeded in removing my boot from my foot, he turned the top of the boot downward to let the blood run out of it. "Why," said he, "your leg is not bleeding at all." I then commenced feeling my leg, but could not feel or hear any bones work, so by the assistance of George I got my breeches-leg up and there the ball stuck just between the skin and the bone of my leg, and the boys had a good laugh at my expense.
When I had learned that my leg was not broken, George and I crawled down together into the canyon, and located the Indians. We got so near that we could see the flash from their guns through the fog. We then ascended the hill, mounted our horses, rode back and reported to Gen. Wheaton. But the Indians had the advantage over the soldiers from the fact that the soldiers' could be easily distinguished from the rocks.
About one week later, George Jones, a young man named Savage, and myself, went on just such another trip. It was our custom when going into the canyon to leave one man in charge of our horses until we returned, and in this case we left Savage with three saddle horses and instructions to remain there until we returned. On our return we found poor Savage mortally wounded, and he only lived a few minutes. He had two balls through his body. It seemed that he had tied the horses and come to the top of the hill to look for us or to warn us of danger, and while there had been shot down by the Indians.
This was the first scout I had lost since I had entered the scouting field at this place. By the assistance of Jones I got the body on my horse in front of me and carried it to headquarters and reported to Gen. Ross, who was acquainted with Savage's family, and he sent the body to Jacksonville for interment. A few days later, George, myself and four assistants started out to meet a pack-train that was coming in from Yreka, Cal., with supplies. We met the train twelve miles from headquarters and told the man in charge that he would either have to cross the lava beds or go around forty miles. He decided to take chances in crossing the lava beds in preference to going so far around. We told him that he would be running a great risk, for we were satisfied that Jack was running short of provisions and that he had men out all the time foraging, and we knew that if the Indians happened to discover this train they would make a desperate effort to capture it, or at least a part of it. There were fifty animals in the train and only three men. When we started across the lava beds I took the lead, and George and our other men in the rear. In case of an attack on either, he was to fire two shots in quick succession as a signal for assistance, for the fog was almost thick enough that day to cut in slices with a knife. The man in charge of the train started a young man ahead with me to lead the bell-horse, placing another young man about the center of the train.
It was a miserably rough country across these lava beds, and we had to travel very slowly.
The man in charge dropped back in the rear of the train, thinking that if we were attacked it would be at the rear.
The reader will understand that in crossing this hell-hearth it was necessary for the pack-animals to string out single file.
THE CRY OF A BABE.—CAPTURE OF A BEVY OF SQUAWS. TREACHERY OF GEN. ROSS' MEN IN KILLING PRISONERS.—CAPTURE OF THE MODOC CHIEF.
When we were across the lava beds, or "Devil's Garden," as the place was commonly called, I told the man who was leading the bell-horse to stop and wait until the other animals had come up in order to see whether we had lost any. This was within a mile of headquarters. The man in charge, also Jones and the other scouts, came up, but the young man who had been riding in the middle, also four mules and their packs, as the saying is, "came up missing."
The train went on to headquarters, but Jones and I returned along the trail to see if we could find the missing man. One of us, however, had to leave the trail and scout along on foot.
After following the back-track two miles I found where the four mules had left it. It was now late in the evening, and we were within less than a mile and a half of Captain Jack's stronghold. We tied our horses there and started out, caring but little about the mules and their packs; it was the man that we were looking after. We had not gone more than fifty yards from the trail when we found the body.
The poor fellow had been stoned to death, his head being beaten out of shape. This the Indians had done to prevent an alarm. They had evidently been hidden in the lava rocks and had managed to turn those four mules from the trail, and the fog being so thick that a person could not see any distance, the man did not notice that he was off of the trail until too late; and when once off the trail a few paces it was impossible for him to get back again. The mules and packs were never seen again. The Indians, no doubt, took them to the cave, used the provisions, killed and ate the mules and saddle-horse which the man was riding. We took the body to headquarters, and the next day it was started to Yreka, Cal. I do not remember the name of this young man, but he lived near Yreka.
Gen. Wheaton was now fighting, the Indians every day, and at night kept a strong picket guard around the cave. About this time it was reported that Gen. Wheaton had received orders to take Captain Jack if he had to exterminate the entire tribe.
The feeling was getting to be very strong against Captain Jack in regard to the assassination of Gen. Canby, Col. Thomas and George Meeks, the interpreter. One evening in a conversation with Gen. Wheaton he asked me how long I thought it would take to starve them out. I said: "General, if they took all their horses in the cave, which I believe they did, and we know for a fact that they got some cattle from the Klamath river, I think it will be May or June before you will be able to starve them out."
He said that every Indian that came out of the cave single-handed or otherwise would not live to get through the picket line, saying that he had a double picket line now around the entire cave, both day and night.
The next morning after this conversation with the General, one of my scouts came in from Rattlesnake Point and reported having seen the tracks of twenty Indians, where they had crossed the road on the east side of the lake, and they were all small tracks.
I reported this to the General, telling him that Jack was a pretty smart Indian, for he was sending his women and children away so as to make his provisions last as long as possible.
George Jones and I started out, accompanied by two platoons of soldiers, to capture the Indians. We had no trouble in finding their trail, and in running them down.
It so happened that our escort that day were all Gen. Ross' men and were all friends to young Savage, who had recently been killed by the Modocs. After following the trail about ten miles we came in sight of the Indians on Lost river. We did not see them until we were near them and had no trouble in capturing the whole outfit. There were twenty-two, all squaws and little girls. I was personally acquainted with all of those Indians, and knowing so well the cause of all this trouble, and just what brought it about, I could not help sympathizing with the women and children. In fact, I had felt from the very start that this trouble was all uncalled for. Among the crowd was one young squaw who spoke pretty fair English for an Indian in those days. I was well acquainted with her, and told her that we would have to take them all, but that they would be treated as prisoners. She did not seem to understand the meaning of "prisoners."
I explained to her, and she in her own tongue explained it to the rest of the crowd. I told her that we would have to take them back to headquarters.
She said: "We heap hungry, long time no eat much. Maby white man no give us anything to eat. 'Spose no eat purty soon all die." I assured her that they would have plenty to eat as long as they behaved themselves and gave the soldiers no trouble.
They all seemed to be perfectly willing to surrender and go back to headquarters, so we started back via Tule Lake. When we reached the mouth of Lost river I turned the prisoners over to the two sergeants who had charge of the two platoons of soldiers. George and I wanted to make a circuit around in the direction of Clear Lake, thinking, of course, that the prisoners would be perfectly safe in charge of the soldiers, especially those little girls. George and I did not get to headquarters that night until ten o'clock, and the first thing I heard when I got into camp was that the Indians had tried to run off into the tules while coming down Tule Lake, and they had all been shot down by the soldiers, I went at once to see Gen. Ross relative to the matter, for I could not believe it. The General confirmed the report by saying every one of them had been shot. I said: "General, that is the most cowardly piece of work I ever heard white men accused of in my life. Will you please tell the men who did that cowardly piece of work, that they had better never be caught out with me when I have the best of it, for I would much prefer shooting such men down, to shooting helpless women and children."
This conversation caused a great deal of talk of a court-martial, but it all blew over, I suppose, on account of Captain Jack murdering Gen. Canby. The next conversation I had with Gen. Wheaton, I asked why the picket guard let those Indians pass through the picket line, and speaking as though I thought they had passed boldly out through the line; he said:
"I cannot see into it myself."
I said: "General, that is the way the Indians will all get out of there, and at the final surrender you will not have six warriors in the cave. From this on you will find that they will gradually desert Jack, for the squaws told me that they were getting very hungry."
It was reported around that Captain Jack and three other Indians would be hung if caught alive, this being the orders from headquarters. The other three were Schonchin, Scarfaced Charlie and Shacknasty Jim, these being Jack's council or under chiefs.
When this report came, Gen. Wheaton told me that if it was necessary he would make another detail of scouts, for he would not under any consideration have the Indians escape. I told the General to give himself no uneasiness in regard to that part of it, for we would run down all the Indians that crossed the picket line, but I must know what I should promise a prisoner when I captured him. I asked if I should promise them protection or not, for if there was no protection, I would not bring them in. He assured me that all prisoners caught after this would be protected as prisoners of war until tried and proven guilty.
What the General meant by that was those who might be proven guilty of being directly interested in the murder of Gen. Canby and Col. Thomas.
I now put George Jones on the night shift. He had the entire charge of night scouting, and he and his assistants rode all night long. In the morning I started out with my assistants and rode all day; so it was impossible for the Indians to get out and away without our getting track of them, and if they left a track we were sure to capture them.
We kept this up for about three weeks, when I made a change; George and I doing the night scouting alone, and leaving the day scouting for the other scouts.
One night we were out near Dry Lake, about five miles from headquarters, and there came up a cold fog. We built a little fire to warm by, and shortly after we had started it we heard what an inexperienced man would have called two cayotes, but we knew they were Indians and were in different directions and this was their signal for meeting.
We mounted our horses and rode in the opposite direction, but before we left we gave a yelp in a laughing sort of manner to make the Indians believe that we thought it was cayotes. We rode quietly away about three hundred yards from the fire, dismounted, tied our horses and crawled back near the fire. All this time the Indians had kept up their cayote barking and were drawing near the fire. It was some little time before they dared approach, but after they had looked carefully around, I suppose they thought it had been campers who had stopped, built a fire and then pulled out, for it was not the custom of scouts to build a fire, which the Indians well knew, they finally ventured up to the fire and were warming themselves. Seeing that they were both armed with rifles, and the chances were they both had pistols, we made up our minds not to take any chances, so I proposed to George that we should shoot them down, just as they would have done us if we had not understood their signal.
Of course if it had been daylight it would have been quite different, but three jumps away from the fire and they would have been safe from us. We were sitting side by side not more than forty yards from them. I told George to take the one on the right and I would take the one on the left, and when he gave the word I would fire with him. We raised our guns, and when he gave the word we both fired, and the two Indians fell to the ground. We waited about five minutes to see whether they would rise or not, and believing we had killed them both, we approached them. One of them was dead and the other was just about dead, so we took their guns and pistols and reported to Gen. Wheaton.
The next morning he said it was a mystery how the Indians would get out and the men on picket would not see them. He said: "I cannot see through it."
About a week or ten days later George and I were coming in just before daylight, when we heard a baby cry on the hillside only a short distance from us. We stopped and listed until we had located it. George dismounted, and I held his horse while he crawled up to see where it was, and found that there was quite a number of squaws and children there. I told him that it would be a matter of impossibility for them to get away from us and the grass so high, for we could track them easily, so I left him there to keep watch and see which way they moved so that we would know how to start after them, and I would ride to headquarters, about two miles away, for assistance to help capture them when it was daylight. I rode slow until so far away that I knew they could not hear the clatter of my horse's feet, and then I put spurs to my horse and rode with all speed to headquarters. When I passed the camp guard he challenged me and I gave my name. I could hear it carried down the line from one to another, "There comes the Captain of the Scouts, there is something up." Rather than wake up a commissioned officer, I woke up my entire scout force, and was back to where George Jones was just at daylight. He said that the squaws had moved in the direction of Clear Lake. There was a heavy dew and we had no trouble in finding their trail and following it; in fact, at times we could ride almost at full speed and follow without difficulty. We had only gone about four miles when we came in sight of them, six squaws, a little boy, a little girl and a baby. When they saw me coming they all stopped. I rode up and asked them where they were going. They could all speak a little English.
There was one in the crowd named Mary, with whom I was well acquainted, who said: "We heap hungry, too much hungry, we go Clear Lake catch fish." I told her that we would have to take them prisoners and take them all back to headquarters and keep them there until we got all the Modoc Indians and then they would have to go on to the reservation. "No, too much hungry, you all time fight Captain Jack, Injun no catch fish. All time eatem hoss. No more hoss now; Injun eatem all up, eatem some cow too. No more hoss, no more cow. Injun all heap hungry."
It was some time before I could make them believe that they would be fed when at headquarters, but they being acquainted with me and knowing that I had been a friend to them in time of peace. I finally succeeded in getting them to turn and go to headquarters. These were the first prisoners that had been taken to the General's quarters during the Modoc war.
Gen. Wheaton was away from his quarters, so I left the prisoners in charge of George Jones and the other scouts, with instructions to let no one interfere with them while I went to hunt the General.
I soon found him and with him returned to where the Indians were. The General asked me to question the one of them that talked the best English and had done the most talking, concerning the number of men that Captain Jack had in his stronghold. When I asked her she said: "Some days twenty men, some days thirty men, no more, some go away. No more come back, some shoot, by and by he die. Two days now me not eat. Injun man, he no eat much."
From this we inferred that they only had a little provisions left, and the men that did the fighting did the eating also. They were given something to eat at once, and I don't think I ever saw more hungry mortals. I told the General that it would not be long until they would all come out, but that I did not think they would come in a body, but would slip out two or three at a time. The General thought it so strange that they were stealing out through the picket lines and the guards not seeing any of them.
Some three weeks later than this, it being about the first of June, 1873, George and I had been out all night and were coming into quarters, being a little later this morning than common, and when we were within about one and a half miles from quarters we crossed the trail of three Indians. I got down and examined the tracks closely; there was one track quite large and long, another not quite so large and the third was quite small. I told George I was not afraid to bet twenty dollars that they were the tracks of Captain Jack, his wife and little girl. We pushed on to headquarters with all possible speed and reported to Gen. Wheaton. He asked my reason for thinking that it was Captain Jack. I told him from the fact that it suited for his family. I was well acquainted with both him and his squaw, and I told the General that Jack himself had an unusually long foot. He asked how much of an escort I wanted and if I would go at once. I told him I would, and I wanted two platoons. He directed his orderlies to report as soon as possible with two platoons of cavalry, and I gave my horse to George, telling him to change our saddles to fresh horses at once. As soon as it was noised around that we had got track of Captain Jack, the scouts all wanted to accompany me, but I told them that their services could not be dispensed with at camp for one hour, for it was getting now where the thing must be watched very closely. George rode up on a fresh horse and was leading Black Bess with my saddle on her. I mounted and we were off again in pursuit of Captain Jack, but as we rode away Gen. Wheaton expressed himself as being doubtful as to its being Captain Jack.
When we struck the trail of the three Indians, I had one platoon to ride on each side of the trail, keeping about fifty yards away from it, and in case we should miss it or get off, we would have a chance to go back and pick it up again before it would become obliterated.
This was one of the prettiest mornings that we could have had for the occasion. The fog disappeared with the rising of the sun, and in many places we could look ahead and see the trail in the grass for fifty yards. In those places we put our horses down to their utmost. George and I were both very hungry, having had nothing to eat since the evening before, and we had been in the saddle all night, but an old scout forgets all this when he gets on a fresh Indian trail and becomes somewhat excited. After we had gone about six miles we came to a gravel country for a mile and a half, and it was slow and tedious tracking across this, for many times we had nothing to go by only as they might turn a little pebble over with their feet or step on a little spear of grass and mash it down, and this was very thin and scattering on the ridge. However, as soon as we were across the gravelly ridge, we again struck grass and we let our horses out almost at full speed, knowing very well that as soon as the dew dried off it would be slow and tedious tracking. After we had ridden about twelve miles, and just as we raised the top of the hill, on looking across on the next ridge we saw the three Indians, and sure enough, it was Captain Jack, his squaw and little girl. About this time he turned and saw us coming. He stood and looked at us for a moment or so and the three all turned and started back to meet us. We both pulled our pistols and dashed up to him at full speed.
When we were close enough, I could see that he had a smile on his face, and I knew that he had recognized me. When we rode up to him he said: "Good mornin. Long time no see you," and at the same time presented the gun with the breech foremost.
As I took the gun, I said to him: "Jack, where are you going?"
He replied: "O, heap hungry, guess go Clear Lake catch fish."
I said: "No, Jack; you are my prisoner. I will have to take you back to Gen. Wheaton."
He replied: "No, me no want to go back, no more fight, too much all time hungry, little girl nearly starve, no catch fish soon he die." But when he saw that he had to go, he said:
"All right, me go."
So I took the little girl up behind me, and George took the squaw up behind him and Jack walked.
It was in the afternoon when we returned to headquarters with the prisoners, and there was no little rejoicing among the soldiers when they learned for a certainty that I had taken Captain Jack prisoner.
That afternoon a runner was started to Yreka with a dispatch to headquarters to the effect that Gen. Wheaton had taken the notorious Captain Jack prisoner. As a matter of fact, an old scout is never known in such cases. They, as a general rule, do the work, but the officers always get the praise. Although Gen. Wheaton had the praise of capturing Captain Jack, he had but little more to do with it than the President of the United States.
STORY OF THE CAPTURED BRAVES.—WHY CAPTAIN JACK DESERTED.— LOATHSOME CONDITION OF THE STRONGHOLD.—END OF THE WAR.—SOME COMMENTS.
That evening I had a long conversation with Captain Jack, and from him I learned the exact number of Indians in the cave. He said there were twenty women, and maybe thirty children and twenty-two warriors. He said they would not stay there long for they had nothing to eat, and their ammunition was nearly gone.
I must admit that when I learned Jack's story of the way that he had been both driven and pulled into this war, which I knew to be a fact myself, I was sorry for him. He said that after the Indian agent would not send them anything to eat he was forced to go away from the reservation to catch fish to keep his people from starving, for which purpose he was at the mouth of Lost river when the soldiers came there. One morning before the soldiers fired on him without even telling him to return to the reservation or giving him any warning whatever. He said that he did not give orders for his men to kill any white men that morning, but they all got very angry at the soldiers for shooting at them. "That day," said he, "I go to lava bed, my men scout all over country, kill all white men they see."