The Siege of Galice Creek
The hamlet of Galice, Oregon, circa 1930
Head QuartersCaptain A. J. Smith
9th Regt. O.M.
Camp Stuart Oct. 19th 1855
Comdg. Fort Lane O.T.
The Col. Comdg. has today dispatched to Galice Creek and vicinity Mr. Hillman and Mr. Wagoner for the purpose of taking into custody such squaws and Indian boys as are living with citizens in that neighborhood.
The object of this movement is to destroy the means of communication with the enemy.
Captain Lewis is on duty in that quarter and is instructed to render assistance if necessary in procuring their arrest, and also to aid in their conveyance to your station, or elsewhere as may be deemed advisable. Messrs Hillman and Wagoner are instructed to wait upon you in order that you may also detail a few men on this service should you desire to do so. The Col. Comdg. is desirous that a mutual understanding shall exist between the legally constituted agents of the government and the militia in all matters, particularly those pertaining to the public welfare.
John E. Ross
Col. Comdg. 9th Regt. O.M.
Per C. S. Drew, Adjt.
B. F. Dowell Papers, Bancroft Library
Head QuartersRegimental Order
9th Regt. O.M.
Camp Stuart Oct. 19th 1855
Captain W. B. Lewis
Comdg. Co. "E" 9th Regt., O.M.
The Col. Comdg. has this day dispatched Mr. John Hillman and J. B. Wagoner to take into custody all such squaws and Indian boys as are living with citizens in your neighborhood.
You will render every assistance in your power to ferret them out and secure their arrest, and if necessary to aid in their conveyance to Head Quarters or Fort Lane.
You are hereby fully authorized to adopt such measures as will effectually consummate this object.
John E. Ross
Col. Comdg. 9th Regt. O.M.
Per C. S. Drew, Adjt.
B. F. Dowell Papers, Bancroft Library
ROGUE RIVER INDIANS.--The Siskiyou Union learns that the Rogue River Indians, to the number of near 200, made a descent upon 15 miners working on Galice Creek, a tributary of Rogue River, on Saturday last. After eight hours' fighting the Indians were beaten off. Three of the miners were killed and eight wounded, leaving only four whole out of the fifteen. The Indians lost nine killed.
Sacramento Daily Union, November 1, 1855, page 2
Rogue River, Oct. 21, 1855.The Indians have not made any attack in the settlements above this place; their attacks have been on the road between here and Grave Creek, and down Rogue River. On Thursday last, 17th inst., report says about 80 Indians made an attack on a party of men in a house at Galice Creek, about 30 miles below here. There were some 20 men in the house, but not well armed, say only about 15 shots. The Indians made a desperate assault, being armed with 6 shooters and rifles, and gaining possession of a ditch some few yards from the house, which protected them, they kept up an incessant fire for near 20 hours, killing two men and wounding some 12 others. An old resident out here by the name of Pickett was killed. The number of Indians killed is not known, as they carried off their dead in the night, except six which they left on the ground when they retreated. Maj. Fitzgerald passed down on yesterday.He will probably go to Galice Creek where the attack was made, but it is feared that the Indians will be missing when he gets there. An express came in for a surgeon to dress the wounds of the wounded. I did not see him, and get my report second handed.
"Rogue River Correspondence," Oregon Statesman, Corvallis, November 3, 1855, page 1
Jackson County O.T.Col. John E. Ross
Skull Bar Oct. the 18th 1855
Sir, on the yesterday the 17th of this month, early in the morning, we were attacked by the Indians severely which ensued in a long and fierce battle that lasted for 8 hours in fact. It seemed that the savages were determined to defeat us, but with brave and energetic men we hit them back, reserved our fire until we could see the white of their eye and every fire we made lessened their numbers, but with painful intelligence we had 2 good men killed [illegible] with 10 severely wounded and I am fearful that more may prove mortal. We are placed here in a perilous situation surrounded by upwards of 100 well-armed and -equipped Indians and I call upon your honor for reinforcements. The attack from the enemy was resumed on the 18, but the boys coolly secured them and kept them at bay. They withdrew early without loss in either side, but on yesterday I am proud to inform your honor that we sent a [illegible] redskins to their long home. Messrs. Crandall & Wilson will be the loser to the amount of 4 or 5 thousand dollars in dry goods & groceries destroyed by the Indians. I am proud to boast that we fought the hardest fought battle that was ever fought this side [of] the Rocky Mountains, more than 25 hundred shots from the enemy but every man stood his ground and fought the battle of a lover of his country [illegible] the action I received a severe wound in my [illegible], also a slight wound in the back. Also Lieutenant Moore received 3 wounds on through the calf of the leg one in the back and one slightly in the head. I call on you for the [illegible] of a surgeon which is much needed, for our wounded is suffering severely. I will look immediately [illegible] for we will maintain our position at the peril of our lives. We have but 15 good guns fit for action. Do all you can in the way of getting us arms is my ardent wish. Nothing more at present but remain yours most respectfully,
Capt. W. B. Lewis
[written on the reverse of the above]B. F. Dowell Papers, Bancroft Library Mss. P-A 137
Capt. W. B. Lewis
Report of the Battle
at Galice Creek
Grave Creek CampCol. J. E. Ross
Oct. 22nd / 55
9th Reg O.M
Sir I beg leave to report that on the night of the 19th last I recd. a dispatch from Capt. Lewis on Galice Creek, stating that they had been attacked by a large band of Indians, two of his men killed and ten wounded and requested assistance. I immediately made arrangements accordingly and on the morning of the 20th started with forty men. On our way crossed the trail of three Indians on horseback, apparently not having passed one hour before. My arrangements then would not allow a chase or I think we could have overtaken them.
I arrived at Capt. L. camp about 4 o'clock p.m. All quiet. The two men who were killed already buried, the wounded getting along as well as could be expected under the circumstances. On our return met dragoons going down to remove the wounded.
Some of my men have the flux bad. No medical aid at hand. What can be done?
What has been usual when you wish to send a dispatch from one point to another? Should I find it proper to inform you of the movements of the Indians, must I furnish cash to pay expenses?
D. Evans charged myself and men for
I understand that the Governor has made a call for a thousand men to march against the upper country Indians. Should this be true, I wish to return home. I now request your permission to do so. I suppose the company would not object under the circumstances. At all events, I should like to hear from headquarters occasionally.
I will get Dr. Henry to go to Jacksonville if he will. Should he come, he will tell you how times pass.
I have the honor, dear sir, to remain your obt. ser.
J. S. Rinearson, Capt.B. F. Dowell Papers, Bancroft Library Mss. P-A 137
Co. C, 9th Reg., O.M.
Head QuartersCapt. R. L. Williams
9th Regt. O.M.
Camp Stuart Oct. 22nd 1855
Co. "D" Mtd. Vols 9th Regt. O.M.
The Col. Comdg. desires you to proceed to Galice Creek and vicinity with all possible dispatch with what disposable force you have, to remain until the wounded men at that post, together with the supplies there, can be removed to a place of safety.
Capt. Rinearson will also detail twenty men for this service. There seems to be a large body of Indians located in that neighborhood, and some solicitude is felt for the safety of the command of Capt. Welton as it is exceedingly unwell. You will be governed in your movements relative to this company, by your superior knowledge of the country and the necessities of the case. In no case, however, will the post at Galice be left unguarded.
[unsigned copy]B. F. Dowell Papers, Bancroft Library Mss. P-A 137
Jackson Co., O.T.Col. J. E. Ross
Skull Bar Gold River
Oct. 23 
I take my pen in hand to inform you of proceeding of Company E up to this date. On yesterday, we were relieved considerably by the arrival of Capt. Rinearson's Company and on the following morning, 23 by an escort and surgeon from Ft. Lane and I am happy to inform you that they found our wounded in a fine condition under the circumstances.
Sir, the plans concluded upon by majority & myself at present is as follows: under the circumstances and condition of our wounded, it is impossible to leave this point for a few days yet and the dragoons in hands at present will be compelled to move towards the fort again, in consequence of being no feed for their animals and I have come to the conclusion by advice to call upon your aid to support us with about 40 volunteers at the earliest practicable period to enforce us to get out at a more comfortable place to quarter, especially for our helpless wounded. We are well prepared to receive our enemy again but are not able to guard ourselves to a more safer point for protection. Sir, at this point, we have a considerable portion of government stores at this point turned over to Co. E by Crandall & Wilson which will have to be moved at the same time and my request is for you to give orders for all the mules belonging to Crandall & Wilson scattered along the river from Vannoy's down to the [mouth?] of Jump Off Jo to aid in packing out these [cut off on scan] and furthermore, please send us all the arms that [you] can gather up and we will put them to good use [cut off on scan] subject. At present I bring this report to a close.
Yours most respectfully,B. F. Dowell Papers, Bancroft Library Mss. P-A 137
Capt. [cut off on scan]
On Wednesday the 17th instant a party of miners, twenty in number, on Galice Creek were attacked by a large force of Indians. The attack commenced early in the morning and lasted all day. The miners occupied a house and fought from behind a breastwork of flour. They lost two killed and thirteen wounded. Those killed upon the part of the Indians could not be ascertained as they carried the dead off with them in the night.
Indian Agent George Ambrose, letter of October 28, 1855, NARA Series M234, Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, Reel 608 Oregon Superintendency 1853-1855, frames 1272-1275
Since then they attacked a party of miners on Galice Creek, who taking cover in a board "shanty," fought for 8 hours, losing 2 killed and 9 wounded out of the party of fifteen men.
James P. Goodall, letter of October 29, 1855
Since the attacks of the 8th, 9th and 10th inst., as reported in our former issues, no further collision seems to have taken place between the whites and the Indians until the 18th inst., when the latter boldly attacked a company of 18 men on Galice Creek, some fifty miles below Jacksonville and besieged them in a house during the space of 24 hours, killed two men and wounded ten; amongst the latter was Wm. Moore; he was shot in three places; a fourth shot struck the bullet molds slung over his back.
The Chinese were employed in cutting trenches and otherwise fortifying the position of the whites. From the nature of the surrounding country, which is broken and covered with brush and bushes, it was impossible to ascertain the number of Indians--supposed to have been upwards of one hundred. Amongst them were recognized some of the Shastas which are represented as having been the last to retreat.
"Letter from Rogue River," Crescent City Herald, October 31, 1855, page 2
Bloody Indian Wars in California and Oregon.We make up the following interesting news from our San Francisco files of the 5th ult., by the Star of the West at New York:
From California.The Indian tribes in California are assuming an alarming aspect. We take the following from an extra of the Crescent City Herald of the 27th of October:
INDIAN WAR IN ROGUE RIVER VALLEY.
Fight with the Indians in Galice Creek--Two Whites Killed and Ten Wounded--Five Hundred Men at Vernon's Ranch--Strong Position of the Indians--Expected Siege.
Since the attack of the 8th, 9th and 10th inst., as reported in our former issue, no further collision seems to have taken place between the whites and the Indians until the 18th, when the latter boldly attacked a company of 18 men on Galice Creek, some 50 miles below Jacksonville, and besieged them in a house during the space of 24 hours, killed two men and wounded ten; amongst the latter was William Moore; he was shot in three places; a fourth shot struck the bullet mold slung over his back.Baltimore Weekly Sun, December 1, 1855, page 1
The Chinese were employed in cutting trenches and otherwise fortifying the position of the whites. From the nature of the surrounding country, which is broken and covered with brush and bushes, it was impossible to ascertain the number of Indians--supposed to have been upwards of one hundred.
VANNOY'S RANCH, Oct. 23.Since the war commenced there have been killed, according to reliable reports, eighteen men, three women and two children. One woman is missing, supposed to have been taken prisoner. The Indians are bold and still commit their depredations. They occupy a gorge on Galice Creek, made by nature a very strong position, and from which, it is said by those acquainted with the locality, it will be difficult to dislodge them. There are about 500 soldiers now ready for action.
Rogue River Correspondence of the Statesman.
Rogue River, Oct. 21, 1855.
The Indians have not made any attack in the settlements above this place; their attacks have been on the road between here and Grave Creek, and down Rogue River. On Thursday last, 17th inst., report says about 80 Indians made an attack on a party of men in a house at Galice Creek, about 30 miles below here. There were some 20 men in the house, but not well armed, say only about 15 shots. The Indians made a desperate assault, being armed with 6-shooters and rifles, and gaining possession of a ditch some few yards from the house, which protected them, they kept up an incessant fire for near 20 hours, killing two men and wounding some 12 others. An old resident out here by the name of Pickett was killed. The number of Indians killed is not known, as they carried off their dead in the night, except six which they left on the ground when they retreated. Maj. Fitzgerald passed down on yesterday. He will probably go to Galice Creek, where the attack was made, but it is feared that the Indians will be missing when he gets there. An express came in for a surgeon to dress the wounds of the wounded. I did not see him, and get my report second-handed.
Col. Ross and his aide, C. S. Drew, are organizing the volunteer companies. They do it by talking, writing, and, as old man Clinton says (when speaking of his sheep having ewe lambs), all done by management. We have not heard of brigadier general qr. master-commissary Dr. Henry since we last wrote, but suppose that he and his Know-Nothing orderly are doing it "all by management"--organizing the militia, buying supplies, issuing orders, making reports and keeping Gov. Curry incidentally advised of matters and things in general. The appearance of Gen. Nesmith would soon send these gentlemen all to the position assigned them by their country for their country's good.
Oregon Statesman, Corvallis, November 3, 1855, page 1
There is nothing reliable from the seat of war since last mail, but as usual a great many rumors and flying reports of depredations committed are in circulation; what amount of credit is to be attached to them is a difficult matter to determine. Among the best authenticated is one of a battle taking place on Galice Creek in which one white man and 15 Indians were killed.
"Umpqua Correspondence of the Statesman," Oregon Statesman, Corvallis, November 3, 1855, page 2
On Thursday, the 18th inst., another battle was fought on Galice Creek, which lasted twenty hours and resulted in the loss of Picket and Saunders killed, and ten men wounded; eight squaws and four boys were taken prisoners. The most of these squaws had been living with white men or, as those might more properly be called, white Indians, who are the worst we have in this country. In the intermixture of races the Indian never rises to an equality with the whites, but the whites are brought down to a level with the Indian.
"O.J.E.," "The Rogue River War," Crescent City Herald, November 7, 1855, page 1
On the 17th of October a company of volunteers, composed of the miners on Galice Creek, 15 miles below my house on Rogue River [near today's Grants Pass], were attacked by 150 Indians, and fought the Indians from early in the morning until dark, having two men killed and nine wounded. The volunteers were fortified and had but 15 effective guns besides revolvers. Some eight or ten Indians were supposed to be killed.
On the 20th I was called to see the wounded, and remained with them 12 days, when they were moved up to my house, where I fitted up a hospital and took care of them until three of them died, one a Chinaman. The remainder recovered. I was in this business two months, and for a while expected to be continued in the medical staff, but not being in the dominant party, others of more congenial politics were chosen.
Dr. William Miller, "Letter from Oregon," Wabash Express, Terre Haute, Indiana, March 12, 1856, page 1
We take the following from an extra of the Crescent City Herald of the 27th October:
Since the attacks of the 8th, 9th and 10th inst., as reported in our former issues, no further collision seems to have taken place between the whites and the Indians until the 18th, when the latter boldly attacked a company of eighteen men on Galice Creek, some 50 miles below Jacksonville, and besieged them in a house during the space of 24 hours, killing two men and wounded ten; among the latter was Wm. Moore; he was shot in three places; a fourth shot struck the bullet mold slung over his back.
The Chinese were employed in cutting trenches and otherwise fortifying the position of the whites. From the nature of the surrounding country, which is broken and covered with brush and bushes, it was impossible to ascertain the number of Indians--supposed to have been upwards of 100. Amongst them we recognized some of the Shastas, which are represented as having been the last to retreat.
"Indian War in Rogue River Valley," The States and Union, Ashland, Ohio, December 5, 1855, page 2
LETTER FROM GALICE CREEK.To the Editor of the New Northwest:
In accordance with your expressed wish for correspondence from various parts of the state, I beg leave to submit a few items concerning this mining region.
The stream known as Galice Creek is a mountain stream heading in the Coast Range and emptying into Rogue River about twenty miles west of the regular stage road and fifty-five miles northwest of Jacksonville. Although seemingly quiet and peaceful, it has the history of tumult and bloodshed as well as other places of greeter notoriety.
Twenty-five years ago, when this country was deeply inhabited by Indians, and a few adventurous bands of white men were roaming these craggy mountains in search of the precious metal, Galice Creek was discovered. Investigation proved it to be one of the richest mining ledges in Southern Oregon, if not on the coast. Great fortunes were unearthed, and many have possessed themselves of them, returned to their homes to enjoy the fruits of their toil. Others less fortunate remained and toiled and hoped on. Some of these were subsequently driven out by hostile Indians, and not a few brave fortune-seekers met their doom at the hands of blood-thirsty savages.
Traveling through this country, now so peaceful and quiet, it seems like a strange, weird dream to recall the scenes of bloodshed and dire cruelty to which these mountains were witnesses, and standing in their mute presence, we feel almost thankful that they hold in everlasting silence many of the tragic tales that garrulous witnesses might rehearse. The conflict between the red man and the white is here, as elsewhere, finished by the complete supremacy of the latter. The triumph is so complete that scarcely an Indian remains as a reminder of a bygone era.
Two years ago, when your humble correspondent first came to this camp, but two Indian men remained here--one a native Indian, the other an old Mexican Indian who had located on a farm on Rogue River before the war. This last was a firm friend to the miners throughout the war. and had they heeded his warnings, a great many who suffered death might have escaped. This dreadful war--how dreadful only shuddering frontier settlers can tell--began, I think, in '52, and lasted, with short intervals of peace, till '56. The Indians who remained at this time were by treaty removed to Grand Ronde Reservation in Yamhill County, where, with the exception of a few families, they still remain.
During the period of which I have spoken the mines were deserted, most of the richest claims having been worked out, and the rich gold deposits of Eastern Oregon, Washington and Idaho having been discovered, the poorer diggings were abandoned. The mines in this section are at present confined to the gravel and placer mines. The company known as the "English Hydraulic Mining Company" worked their mines last winter to great advantage. They are well provided with all the modern improvements for mining, including a twenty-two-inch pipe and two "giants" ready for use as soon as the water comes. Last year was a much more favorable year for mining operations than the present one has been thus far, owing to the scarcity of rain this season. Another claim known as the "Reed claim" has also two fifteen-inch pipes and two "giants" waiting for water to commence operations. These mines are situated on the south side of Galice Creek, on the mountain from 600 to 800 feet above the level of the creek, and as the miners express it, "have plenty of dump." Their depth is from 60 to 100 feet, and they appear to have been at some remote period the channel of a large river. The water by which they are supplied is taken by a ditch from a fork of Galice Creek. This ditch is six miles in length and was constructed at great expense and affords water for mining purposes from six to eight [months] in the year. The claim of Capt. A. P. Ankeny & Co. is similarly situated and similarly rigged for work. Their ditch is four miles long and traverses about 250 acres of mining ground. There is also a claim being opened on the north side of Rogue River by Wm. Bybee & Co. that prospects well and will no doubt yield ample returns to the enterprising owners. There are also other claims of minor importance that are being worked with satisfactory results. The numerous quartz ledges in this county are receiving but little attention at the present time, although some are going on quietly prospecting with full confidence that they have a good thing. The famous "Yank Ledge," situated on the north aide of Rogue River, and which has been thoroughly tested and found to be rich both in gold and silver, has suspended operations, owing to the designing intrigue of the superintendent, but I believe it is the intention of the company to resume work again at an early day.
This county is vastly rich in mineral resources, and only wants men and capital to cause it to add its golden dower to the wealth of the world. That it is destined to be one of the richest mining fields in the world, I believe to be a fact.
There can be but little said in regard to the social privileges of the camp. This is not so much because of the lack of material to form good society as because of the almost impassable condition of the country. Deep cañons and steep mountains do not tend to make travel easy.
The weather at this time is delightful, and but for the fact that the mines cannot be worked without rain, would be much enjoyed by all.
I shall continue, as I have for some time been doing, to use my best endeavors to get subscribers for the New Northwest. I find but few friends to the cause of equal rights in our midst. We are sadly in need of some able exponent of freedom to come and work among us. I hope Mrs. Duniway, or Mrs. Loughary, or some other person with active brain and ready tongue, will find it convenient to visit us during the spring months, for, indeed, the need is great and the laborers are few.
If you find the foregoing acceptable, you may expect in the near future to hear something further from this part of Oregon. In the meantime, be assured of my best wishes for the success of the New Northwest, its editors, and all other workers in the cause of right.
ADNI.Galice Creek, January 5, 1877.
The New Northwest, Portland, January 19, 1877, page 2
"As soon as we got the news at Galice Creek of the massacre at Evans' ferry on Rogue River, and of the murder of the Wagoner family on Applegate, and that of Jones and Harris, we began to keep our eyes open, expecting that the Indians would come down upon us in a body some night and clean the creek out from end to end. The miners held a meeting and agreed to 'lay their claims over,' that is, they passed a law that if anyone owning a claim on the creek or within the limits of Galice Creek mining district should choose to leave his diggings and volunteer, or for other reasons, it should not be lawful for anyone to enter upon said claim during the absence of the proper owner. Thereupon the miners stacked up their sluiceboxes, and taking their other effects on their backs, or on the backs of horses or mules, they scattered in all directions, some for parts unknown, some went up the river and joined various volunteer companies, while others, myself among them, stayed on the creek and organized a company with the determination of holding our ground and taking care of our property, which we had brought together at the mouth of the creek. There were only about forty of us, but we knew that we could defend ourselves against as many Indians as could be brought against us, as the volunteer companies above would keep the most of the Indians busy up there. We elected Billy Lewis Captain, and your humble servant was elected 1st Lieut. As soon as we had got our company in working order we began looking about for a suitable place for a blockhouse. We picked upon a large log house on a wide bar on the river, and soon repaired it and made some additions which we thought might be necessary in case of an attack, although we did not indulge much apprehension of such an event. But we had several women and children with us, and as they looked to us for protection we thought best to have everything safe. We moved all our traps and supplies into our headquarters and soon had everything snug and in order, ready at any time for an attack. In a few days after we had got everything ready, we received news that everybody was forted up in the settlement above us, and that the Indians were getting the best of some of the regular troops in the skirmishes they were having; that it was believed that the Indians had divided their warriors; that George and Limpy had gone down Rogue River, and would probably pay us a visit in a short time, and by reason of their successful raid upon the settlements around Evans' ferry they would pitch into us with great expectations of cleaning us out. But we had no fears on that score, for we were well armed and on the lookout for them, while the settlers above had been taken by surprise, and each family was alone without means for defense. In their attack on Harris' house, Mrs. Harris kept them away until some volunteers came to her assistance."
* * *"Well, as I was saying we had no fears of being cleaned out even if we should be attacked, which we all doubted. We did not have much provisions, and for meat we had to depend on our rifles. Someday it came my turn to go out after game. I don't mean to say I went alone, but that I was one of the six who were detailed for that duty. We went out in three squads, two men together. One party went up the river, one down, and another back in the hills and up the creek. It was my fortune to go up the creek, so my pard and I set out before daybreak, and by the time it was light we were five miles from the house. The country, in spots, is open and well grassed; many fine springs of water issue from the sides of the hills, and the depressions, or 'wallows' as we called them, were to be found at short intervals on the gentle rolls of the hills and occasionally on the summit of a ridge.
"We had killed two deer and were sitting down by a small fire, which we had kindled, and broiling each a piece of steak, for we were hungry and camp was too far off for us to go to it before satisfying our hunger.
" 'I say, Bill,' said my pard, 'Don't you believe Old Limpy is around in these hills watching for a chance to pounce upon our blockhouse?'
" 'Very likely,' I answered, 'I had begun to think that somebody has been hunting in these hills since we were up here two weeks ago. The game is scarce today and everything seems to wear a strange look; the squirrels don't seem lively at all. I've had a strange feeling all day. I believe that we'll have trouble before long.'
" 'Well, let's start up and go down to the house,' replied my pard. 'It is late and we must hurry along, because, hurry as we will, we'll make slow time carrying these heavy deer--Hark!'
A rifle report--two--three--then all was still. The reports came from the hills up the river above our blockhouse; we knew but two of our boys went up there in the morning and they could fire but two shots in such rapid succession. It could not be them. The very stillness seemed to prognosticate a coming fray. We gathered up our game--each one slinging a deer over his shoulders--and started for the blockhouse. My pard, who was ahead about ten steps, said to me, 'Bill, you must keep your ears open from behind and I'll do the same from the front--horse fashion. You know when horses are traveling those in the rear keep their ears turned back, while those in front keep their ears well forward, so that they can better catch sounds in either direction.' 'All right,' said I, 'go ahead, but I don't believe that we'll see any Indians today. If they are meditating an attack on us they will make it at daylight some morning for----.'
" 'Down, Bill! Down! Do you see that?' And throwing himself down behind a cluster of brush he pointed down the hill directly in our front to a dozen or more mounted Indians and about fifty on foot who were rapidly crossing our track and heading down the river. All of them were armed and from their rapid movements seemed to be intent on accomplishing some already arranged plan. Fortunately we were so far away they did not discover us. Remaining in our hiding place after the last one had passed out of sight, at least fifteen minutes, we again set out for the blockhouse with no fear of running across the Indians, as they in all probability intended to go below us and leave their horses and traps and come upon us early some morning. Arriving at the house with our game, we found that the two who had gone up the river had returned without any game. When they started out in the morning they went up the river about four miles and then turned to the right into the hills. Seeing no game worthy of shot, they slowly wandered up and along the ridge and through the open and level grassy benches until about 1 o'clock in the afternoon, when they sat down by a small spring that burst from the side of the hill, intending to remain there until towards night, when they would return to the house. They had been by the spring about two hours, engaged in talking over Indian matters--for that was the all-engrossing topic--and venturing guesses whether they would see any 'sign' (that was the term they used to designate signs of Indians) when they became aware that they were to have an accession to their company. Through the open woods they saw two persons coming in an oblique direction, towards them. They could not make out to which party they belonged, for the Indians in almost all cases were clothed in the white man's costume, but to be on the safe side they quietly sank back into some brush which was growing below the spring, and from which they could see the newcomers slowly moving toward them. It was not long before the boys distinctly saw that they were Indians who had, perhaps, been sent out to secure meat for a larger number, for it was very evident they could be but temporarily alone. The boys had not succeeded in finding any deer, but they now began to congratulate themselves that they had found game of another kind. Each man had chosen his mark and had prepared to shoot as soon as the Indians should come out of a small ravine which they were crossing. As the Indians began to show themselves above the bank our two men were startled almost out of their wits at the sudden apparition of a large band of Indians mounted and on foot, advancing directly towards the spring which they had just left. No time was to be lost now; things had taken a very sudden and disagreeable turn. Down the little gulch they plunged headlong through the brush at a galloping pace. The Indians saw them, but only for a moment, still, long enough to send three shots after them. But the boys were good on the run and jump, and in less than half a minute they were far down in a dark, deep canyon putting into Rogue River, following down which they soon made their way to the river and down that to the blockhouse.
"About an hour after dark the other men came in with two deer; a third one they left to be brought in on the following day, but we never got it, for the next morning just at daybreak the Indians came upon us with a tremendous rush, thinking to take us by surprise. But we had worked all night getting things in readiness for them, and of course were not much surprised at the attack.
Every man in our fort, except the guards, had worked all night throwing up breastworks in a square in front of the house. At each of the outer corners we had erected a bastion, and our limited military knowledge assured us that we could defend ourselves against all the Indians that might come against us. Just before daybreak Capt. Lewis had sent me with a squad of men to inspect the entrenchments from the outside and if there should be anything more needed to tell these in the trench inside how and where to perform the needed work. I had been around several times and had at last finished all necessary work and was standing at one of the bastions with my men all in a huddle when the Indians, who had come up under cover of the darkness, poured a broadside into us and into the fort.
" 'Get inside, boys!' I yelled, to make myself heard above the din, but it was not necessary to tell the biggest fool in the squad to get inside; they would have climbed inside like a band of sheep jumping over a fence, even if I had told them to stand their ground. The Indians had taken possession of the bar above and below our fort--every tree had one or more behind it, while some were down behind large boulders which covered the bar in some places sufficiently to give good hiding places for large numbers. Across the river opposite us the timber and brush were thick, affording still better shelter for them, while back of us, and within thirty feet of the house, ran a ridge as high as the roof of the house, covered with trees. All of the shelter just mentioned was occupied by Indians at the time of the attack, except the ridge close to the house. On that ridge we had always kept a guard, and the savages were smart enough not to try to occupy that place at first.
"It was not quite light enough when the attack began to distinguish objects with any certainty, and as our ammunition was scarce we withheld our fire till we could see to hit an Indian every time. As we did not return the first fire they began to believe that we would make no fight and that they would have a splendid time taking off our scalps and eating our bread and sugar. Acting in this belief, they came flocking along the ridge from both directions expecting to find us in no condition to resist an attack from that place. By this time it was light enough and Captain Lewis told us to begin our part of the performance. 'Now, boys, give those fellows a full dose,' said the captain, pointing to the Indians coming along the ridge. And we did, I assure you. It was not a long nor a hard job to clear the ridge. The other boys in the trenches had been for a few minutes firing stray shots at the Indians whenever they could catch sight of them in the semi-darkness. In a few minutes the light was sufficient for all purposes and the fun began in good earnest. The Indians were thought to be several hundred strong, as they fired from far and near and over each other's heads. We could return yell for yell, we had enough of that commodity, but our ammunition must be carefully used. Every shot on our part told on the enemy. Our breastworks enclosed a square of perhaps forty feet, and all along the side and from out [of] the house we poured a determined and destructive fire upon our assailants, but they would not yield an inch. Contrary to their usual custom, they left their dead lying where they fell, and advanced slowly but steadily upon us. Old Limpy backed around from place to place encouraging his men to advance closer by setting the example. Old John was there too, running from point to point yelling out his orders, equal to any civilized colonel or major. No cessation, the Indians crowded closer upon our defenses, all hands hoarse with yelling, the bullets zipping through our house and knocking the dirt from our breastworks into our eyes; two men killed, seven more wounded, two mortally, the others severely; yet it was early in the day. Our defenses were not so strong as we thought, or the Indians never evinced such dogged determination. The Indians across the river sent bullets in showers over our breastworks and it soon began to get too hot for us, exposed as we were to a fire we could not return, as the Indians were hid in the brush on the hillside and we were compelled to shoot at random in that quarter. But we did good execution among the Indians on the bar. Thus things were until noon. We suffered by the fusillade from across the river, while we paid it back upon the Indians around our works. They climbed into the tops of trees on the bar and sent many a damaging shot from their perch among the branches, but one by one they were picked out and dropped to the ground by our boys until that kind of elevated warfare entirely ceased, and no shots came over and into our trenches except from across the river.
"About 9 o'clock the Indians ceased firing and, as far as we knew, left for another field of operation. Not sure of anything except our deplorable condition, we concluded to occupy the night in strengthening our position, which we could only do by digging rifle pits inside of our breastworks. Mustering all the able-bodied men, we divided into two parties. One was set to work digging the pits, while the other guarded the house and cared for the wounded, who by this time were enduring great suffering. Relieving each other every two hours, the work progressed very rapidly, and by an hour before daylight we had four splendid pits dug and covered with a foot or more of earth, from which we could command the ridge back of the house and the country across the river and be, ourselves, completely out of sight."
"But how could you get to your pits from the house without exposing yourselves to the Indians' fire," asked some one of the listeners.
"Easy enough. Our first step was to run a ditch from the house four feet deep to the first pit, and similar ditches connected this with the others. The ditches were covered, as were the pits, with anything in the shape of boards, or anything else we could find suitable for the purpose, and over them we put the dirt dug from the trenches. So, you see, we had a covered way from the inside of the house to our pits outside, so that there was not the slightest danger from the enemy."
"Why didn't you do this before the Indians attacked you? If you had, you wouldn't have suffered so much," ventured another of the audience.
"Go on, Bill, don't mind him," said someone.
"I don't mind an interruption when it gives me a chance to explain. In the first place, I'll say that I've always observed that there are numerous strategists who do their work best while sitting before snug warm fires, criticizing the operations of those leading in the field who have to contend against all the rapidly shifting circumstances of a campaign or battle. In our case we were all young, inexperienced, knew nothing about the art of fortification, and very little of battle in the open field. But a short time from the States, and having been occupied most of the time in mining, critics must be lenient when overhauling our acts. In a few days we are to start down to the Big Meadows, and there attack the Indians in their stronghold, and we will, if at all observing, gain a clearer idea of Indian warfare and strategy.
"But to begin again. We had our works in a better condition than ever for defense, but the walls of our breastworks prevented our seeing the enemy on the bar above or below us, should they again renew the attack. Daylight came, but no Indians. The boys who occupied the rifle pits were eager to have a few shots from their snug quarters, but if the savages did not return they would be happily disappointed.
"We had laid our dead with due care and respect on the ground in one corner of the house. The wounded were placed in bunks along the sides. Our morning meal was spread upon a long table in the center, and running lengthwise of the building. The boys had been called from the pits and there, in presence of the dead, in hearing of the groans and labored breathing of the mortally wounded, sat down, with drooping spirits, to a meal of bread and coffee. There was no one keeping watch; we could not be taken by surprise. We could be under cover all the time and did not care a fig if we did not see them begin the attack again, if indeed they intended to do so. The boys had about half finished their meal when our ears, which by that time were accustomed to it, were again saluted by the rising and falling yells of the returning savages, and the pattering of bullets against the house. 'Come, boys! No time to eat now,' said the Captain, 'Out to the pits and give 'em h--l.' The most of them jumped to their feet, dived down into the ditch and went on the run, rifles in hand, and began another day's fighting. One of the boys who was sitting at the table, a specimen Yankee, whom the boys had christened 'Nutmegs,' and who had gained our respect and confidence by his coolness and bravery and was one of the strong props of our little company, drawled out, as the Captain gave the order to man the pits, 'I d-o-n't s-e-e, Cap'n, as there's any use in h-u-r-r-ying matters,' at the same time raising his cup of coffee to his lips, but as he was on the point of taking the meditated drink, a bullet come snapping through the house and knocked the cup from his hand and sent it flying in fragments about the room. 'Wall!' he coolly ejaculated, and without another word rose from the table and with gun in hand stepped into the ditch, and was soon at work in the pits dealing out his bullets to the enemy.
"The Indians rushed up to the breastworks, but found none of us in sight. Instead, they found the boys shooting at them from under the ground, a defense that was new and unapproachable. They tried their old dodge of firing from across the river, and some few climbed into the treetops, but they shortly saw that the only impression they could make on us was by firing at the house. In an hour they had abandoned all their positions except the ridge back of the house, and from there they sent a hotter fire than ever before, which lasted about half an hour. The damage was greater to them than it was to us. In fact, we received no damage at all, while on their side we killed several and wounded a number more.
"About ten o'clock it became evident that they were weakening and intended to abandon the attack; and I assure you we felt as proud as one can imagine when we found that we were to be the victors. Outnumbering us more than seven to one, and with as good defenses as we had, and as good arms, we thought we had not done so bad after all.
"By 11 o'clock the firing had become desultory on both sides and continued so until nearly 1 o'clock, when all was still. The Indians had withdrawn and the siege of Galice Creek had ended. But we were left in a crippled condition. No news from the upper settlements, not knowing if we would be able to get there without another attack, and we hesitated as to the course to pursue. Vannoy's ferry being the nearest point, we decided at last to try and go there. We buried the dead inside of our trenches, carefully dressed the wounds of those who needed it and then began making stretchers upon which to convey such wounded as could not travel alone. We had but one horse, and we packed him with our camp equipage and the little flour and coffee we had left.
"An hour or so after dark we had all in readiness and set out upon our hazardous journey. After taking up our wounded there was but twelve men left for duty, that is, to guard the front and rear. If the Indians should have attacked us, hampered as we were with our wounded, I don't believe that many of us would have been alive today.
"We traveled about eight miles that night. We were all so worn out, and the wounded were suffering so much, that we concluded to camp and get a little rest that night and be in a better condition for traveling the next day. We had some bread baked, and well and wounded alike partook sparingly of it. It would not do to build a fire to make coffee, so we ate the cold, tough bread and washed it down with cold water. Guards were posted and in a little while nothing could be heard but an occasional hoot of an owl, the incessant rippling of the water in the little brook on which we were encamped, and now and then a suppressed groan of some one of our seriously wounded boys. We were all greatly fatigued, and the well ones and those who were not seriously hurt were soon sound asleep. Those whose wounds were serious passed a long and sleepless night, except one; he, poor fellow, passed away silently, giving no notice of his dissolution. He was observed in the morning lying as he had been placed in the evening. With open eyes he lay there as though alive, with his gaze fixed upon the winking stars above. The boys buried him as best they could, and we took up our slow and painful march, leaving him alone in his shallow grave near the bank of Rogue River.
"We were compelled to stop often to rest the wounded and pour cold water on the wounds to allay the continually rising fever. I won't speak of my own sufferings, but there are some of you here who may recollect seeing me on my hands and knees crawling along the uneven trail, which I was often compelled to do, as my left foot might as well have been at the bottom of the river for all the good it did me in getting along.
"At noon we stopped to make a pot of coffee, for we had had none since we left Galice Creek. The coffee was boiling on the fire, and its rich odor was floating to our willing olfactories, when all were thrown into a state of consternation by the sight of a large band of Indians or volunteers slowly filing down the trail directly ahead and about a mile distant. That they were coming to our camp there was not much doubt, and of our inability to defend ourselves successfully if they were Indians there was none.
"The only alternative instantly suggested itself. It was for the major part of our little band to go forward and engage them, while those who remained should carry off and secrete the wounded while the Indians were kept back. Without tasting the coffee, the boys seized their guns and started forward on the run, leaving six to carry off and hide the wounded. Our view of the newcomers had been only for an instant, and then they had descended into a bushy canyon.
"Our boys were soon out of sight, and we were all in a stir and bustle to get ourselves out of the way in time. I clung to old 'Hawkins,' and when it come to the worst I knew that I was good for one or half a dozen of the infernal savages. We have got most of the wounded up the creek inside of a dense thicket of brush around which was almost a corral of old logs blown down during some bygone storm. I was just on the point of starting to "cache," as the boys afterwards called it, when we were startled by an uproarious and long-continued shouting, followed by renewed shouts.
"No firing. They could not be Indians. Of course they were friends. We waited a few minutes, and one of our boys came running back with the glad news, yelling at the top of his voice, 'Volunteers! Volunteers!' We were safe now and for myself I can say that I actually felt a weakness in my knees and all over my body. We were soon joined by our boys who were accompanied by fifty volunteers from the upper settlements who had started down to assist the people of Galice Creek. They had not heard of the attack on us, but that Old George and Limpy had gone down the river they were certain, and knowing that ours was the only company down there, they thought it best to come down and look into matters.
"Our wounded were brought out from their hiding place; their wounds were dressed afresh, and partaking of the universal hilarity they were greatly improved in health. Our friends brought out their stores and soon a splendid meal of bacon, bread, potatoes, onions, rice, coffee and sugar was dispatched with a keen relish.
"The next evening we arrived at Vannoy's, where the wounded men were well cared for, while those of the company who were still able for duty made a camp a little up the river and--Boys, my story is done."
William Moore, in J. M. Sutton, "Scraps of History," Ashland Tidings, January 31 and February 14-21, 1879
We returned and camped at the widow Niday's place, eight miles south of Grave Creek, as being a convenient point from which to act in any direction that we might be needed. We remained at this place a few days. One night while camped here, two men, Jack Collins, now of East Portland, and Ben Gentry arrived at our camp from Galice Creek, a mining camp on a creek by that name, emptying into Rogue River on the south side, about thirty miles below Jacksonville. The Indians had attacked the miners and they had congregated in a small board shanty, where the Indians had besieged them and killed one man and wounded five others. Collins and Gentry had made their escape from the cabin at night. Early next morning a portion of our company, including myself, under Capt. Rinearson, marched for Galice Creek, fording Rogue River with much difficulty, and reached there in the afternoon. The Indians receded into the mountains as we approached. The cabin in which the miners were congregated was filled with bullet holes from the Indians' guns. Among the people there was one white woman, the wife of the man Pickett, whom the Indians had killed. About twenty-five or thirty people had taken refuge in this cabin. We stayed overnight at this place, and early the next morning word reached us that Capt. Smith's company of regulars was close at hand, and they arrived within an hour or two after.
Francis M. Tibbetts, "An Indian Outbreak," Sunday Oregonian, Portland, May 30, 1886, page 2
The first engagement between the volunteers and Indians occurred on the seventeenth of October, at Skull Bar of Rogue River, a short distance below the mouth of Galice Creek, where Company E was encamped. In camp were gathered all the miners from the diggings in the vicinity, including some Chinese who had been driven from their claims, besides some captive Indian women and boys.
Skull Bar lay on the south side of the river and had for a background a high ridge, covered with a dense growth of hazel and young firs. The thickets had been cut away for some distance that no lurking places for the foe might be afforded within rifle shot of the camp, and a breastwork of logs thrown up on the side most open to attack.
It was discovered on the day above-mentioned that the forest on the hillside was swarming with Indians, and to drive them back J. W. Pickett, with six men, charged the bushes. He was received with a galling fire, and fell, his men being forced to retreat. Lieutenant Moore then took a position, sheltered by a bank, on that side of camp from which attack seemed most imminent, where he fought for four hours under a heavy fire, himself and nearly half his men being wounded, when they also were compelled to retreat. Captain Lewis was himself three times struck and severely wounded.
The Indians, discovering that the weakest point in the volunteer position was on its left, made a bold attack in that quarter, but lost by it one of their most powerful Shasta warriors, which incident for a brief space operated as a check. Then, finding that the volunteers were not dislodged with rifle balls, they shot lighted arrows into their camp, giving them much ado to prevent a conflagration. Indeed, during the fighting the mining town of Galice Creek was consumed, with the exception of one building, occupied as the company's headquarters. When night closed in, nearly one-third of Company E were hors de combat. The killed were J. W. Pickett and Samuel Saunders; the mortally wounded, Benjamin Taft and Israel D. Adams; the severely wounded, Lieutenant Moore, Allen Evans, Milton Blackledge, Joseph Umpqua, John Ericson, and Captain Lewis. In his report to his colonel, Lewis boasted that he had "fought the hardest battle ever fought this side of the Rocky Mountains." More than two thousand five hundred shots had the enemy fired that day, but his men had not flinched. Two facts are brought to light by this report--one, that the camp was ill chosen; the other, that the Indians possessed an abundance of ammunition which they must have been a year in gathering.
Frances Fuller Victor, The Early Indian Wars of Oregon, 1894, pages 350-351
THE ROGUE RIVER WAR
JAMES NEALY HELD 30 INDIANS AT BAY FOR TWELVE HOURS.
In Those Days He Was a Lad of Seventeen Trying His Luck Mining on Galice Creek.
Few of those who now enjoy the peace and prosperity of Southern Oregon realize the cost of it to the pioneers who braved the dangers of the Rogue River war from 1853 to 1857 [sic], says the Portland Telegram.
Among the survivors of the war is James Neely, now a well-to-do farmer of Merlin, but in those days he was a lad of 17 or so, trying his luck mining on Galice Creek. He had fine diggings just as the war broke out and was making upwards of $100 a day, when one night his cabin was surrounded by 30 dusky warriors, who wanted to get inside to obtain a lot of arms and ammunition belonging to Neely and his comrades, the latter being absent having a little time down at the store some miles away.
Neely knew if he let the Indians in it would "be all day with him," so he refused to open the door, and when one of the warriors got too close he would poke the muzzle of a shotgun at him. In this way he stood them off all night. It was clear moonlight, and he could see the rascals sitting around on logs, but he was too well fortified for them to try force in entering.
When morning came a white man rushed down the canyon yelling that the Indians had broken out, and the sudden noise from an unexpected point threw the cowardly crowd into a panic and they all scattered for the timber.
Those in pursuit of the Indians suffered untold starvation and hardships, as they were far away from their base of supplies most of the time, and both food and clothing became terribly scarce at times.
Grand Forks Miner, Grand Forks, British Columbia, January 23, 1897, page 2
In partnership with others [John W. Noah] engaged in mining on Galice Creek, where they were attacked by the Indians. They fought their way out, and returned to Jacksonville without losing a man.
"Death of John W. Noah," The Plaindealer, Roseburg, December 30, 1901, page 1
A Scrap of History.The history of the Galice country goes back to 1861 [sic], when John Galice discovered gold in that section. [Louis Galice discovered gold there in 1852.] For a time he kept the knowledge of the discovery a secret, but having occasion to visit Jackson, it was suspicioned, while he was there, that he had made a rich find and some parties followed him back to his diggings, and then the story was out and soon after the country swarmed with miners.
In 1852 the ferry was established and for a number of years it did a big business. In 1855 the Rogue River Indians went on the warpath and attacked the miners at Galice. Forty-four men and a Rogue River squaw took refuge in a blockhouse which was located at that time near the old store at Galice. The whites successfully stood off the savages, though they had only nine firearms in the whole party. Among the blockhouse defenders was Indian Joe, who was the husband of the squaw mentioned. This Indian ran the ferry for many years and in the summer of 1885 was killed in a duel with his son-in-law, Albert Peco. Both men fired at the same instant and both were instantly killed. After the death of Indian Joe his daughter, the wife of Peco and a young sister ran the ferry. In February, 1890, there was a flood which took the ferry boat downstream. The women never attempted to put in another boat. Of the men who defended the blockhouse, James Neely of Jumpoff Joe is the only survivor who lives in the country. The historic ferry fell into the hands of white men after the misfortunes of the Indian women. At the present time it is operated by W. A. Massie and sons, who also run the stage line from Merlin to Galice. Galice is still a great mining center and every month pours its harvest of gold into the market.
Medford Daily Tribune, September 29, 1908, page 3
Our company returned to the Harkness place, on Grave Creek, where the settlers had congregated and fortified for protection. We remained there two days, marching south to Widow Niday's place, near Jump-off Joe Creek, now Merlin. We heard here that the Indians had made a raid on the mines at the mouth of the Galice Creek, this news being brought by a courier who had managed to get through. A detail of 14 men was sent to their relief, leaving Jump-off Joe at 12 o'clock on the night of October 19. I was on this detail.
We arrived at Galice Creek at dusk the next day and found 30 men and one woman (Mrs. Pickett) in a split board house, which they had entrenched by throwing up earthworks on the inside and digging trenches to the outside for protection when firing. One man (Pickett) was dead and 12 others wounded. The Indians had withdrawn after riddling the house with bullets. The next morning Major Fitzgerald arrived with a company of regular troops and took the wounded to Jacksonville.
Francis M. Tibbetts, "Heroes of Rogue River War," Oregonian, Portland, May 23, 1909, page 8
THE RELIEF OF GALICE CREEKAn incident occurred in the latter part of  which shows that the little hamlet of Galice was at that time a scene of warfare of no ordinary character. Chief John, of the Rogue River tribe, had been making war on the white settlers and had killed many of them along the stage road leading to California in the Illinois Valley and the full length of Rogue River. Chief John was a warrior of great ability and gave the whites battle at every opportunity. Volunteer companies were at times in the valley, but for the most part the settlers, including miners and farmers, had to protect themselves. One day word was brought to the camp that the Indians were coming, and as they were on the warpath every white man knew their errand and consequently arms and ammunition were gathered up, and it was determined to give the redskins a warm reception. Unfortunately, only thirteen muzzle-loading guns and the same number of revolvers were to be found in the camp, and as there were forty men in the party these arms would only go a little more than halfway round. There was an old building, roofed and sided with shakes, standing on the ground where Barlow's old barn now stands. There were several loads of flour which had just been brought to camp. This flour was in sacks, and it was piled in the building on both sides and ends, and this made a fair protection against bullets. The defense had only just been completed when Chief John and his warriors came in sight of the opposite side of the river. The chief took his position directly in front of the improvised fort of the white men and directed his followers to cross the river both above and below. When the men had gained the southern shore, Chief John directed them to charge the position of the white men. The miners received them with a fusillade from their rifles and revolvers, and not a few of the Indians were wounded by the fire and they retired.
A Story of the Early Rogue River Valley Indian Wars
(By J. W. Hillman of East Baton Rouge, La.)
I think it was in the year 1855 when Mrs. Wagoner and her child defended herself and child from the Indians [It was Mrs. Harris], that Col. Ross and his adjutant Charley Drew had their camp and headquarters near Table Rock.
They were puzzled to know how every move contemplated by the volunteers was immediately known and anticipated by the hostiles in the field. After much study and investigation they concluded that the information was gotten by the squaws through their white husbands and miners living on Galice Creek, and to stop any further revelation of their plans it was thought necessary that the squaws should be taken and placed in Fort Lane, then under the command of Capt. A. J. Smith of the regular army.
If they dispatched a company of volunteers for the purpose the squaws would have become aware of their intentions and have defeated the purpose of the expedition.
At this time I was living in Jacksonville and it was a pretty lively camp, and I was so well pleased with the town that I had no desire to hunt Indians, as I knew there were more than enough volunteers in the field to whip all the hostiles then out, but it seemed as though Ross and Drew wanted one more volunteer, and for several days they sent messengers to Jacksonville to urge upon me their particular desire to have me visit them, as they had a secret mission for me to go upon. For two or three days I returned word that if they wished to see me more than I did them, to come where I was, as the road was no longer one way than another, but one day there came a more urgent note from Drew and with a Major's commission for me and an extra horse for me to ride. I told the messenger if he was very anxious for my company back to camp he must go out to Griffin's ranch and get my saddle horse, which was then on pasture. He lost no time in deciding, and in a couple of hours he was back with the animal, on which I depended to carry me out of trouble in case I was foolish enough to get in a tight place. In a few minutes I was ready for my ride to headquarters, and in a very short time was in consultation with Ross and Drew, and then it developed that they wished me to go to Galice Creek (I had never been there before), and on the way they thought I might fall in with one of two companies of volunteers then in the valley, and I was to take the company with me and bring out the squaws living there with the miners.
Before consenting to go I returned the commission sent me and said I would only go as special express messenger for the command and I was mustered in at $16.00 per day and $4.00 per day for my horse; needless to say that I never got the $16.00 per.
In a very short time Charley Drew wrote lengthy instructions for my guidance when I arrived at my destination; the only portion I remember was that I was to bring the squaws away or give evidence that I had been there. It was couched in very nice language, but the intention was plain: I must bring the squaws or their scalps. I knew and Ross knew that their scalps were perfectly safe as far as I was concerned, but it was a good document for a bluff, and I used it as such very effectually.
Very shortly I started alone on my ride down Rogue River Valley on my way to my destination. I don't remember where or how I crossed Rogue River, but I know I was striking a pretty lively gait downstream. I was surprised when I saw coming towards me a rider who was making as good time up the valley as I was down.
We met, stopped and talked. I asked him where he was from and where he was going. He said he had crawled his way out of Galice Creek, picked up a horse and was looking for help, as the camp was surrounded by Indians, and a white person was shot at every time he made his appearance, and that they would have been entirely without water had it not been for the few Chinamen in camp, for the Indians did not fire at them but let them in and out at pleasure. He also informed me that there was a white woman with her two children in camp (Mrs. Pickett, I think), and I could not possibly get to the creek if I attempted to ride there, but he agreed to act as my guide, provided I could get an escort of sufficient force to make my mission a success.
At this time we were near to Evans' ferry and hotel. We rode to the house, ordered something to eat, and while eating I noticed an army officer sitting on the gallery and a company of dragoons having their horses attended to.
I asked Evans what the officer's name was, and he said it was Major Fitzgerald. After eating I introduced myself to the Major, partially explained my errand, and asked for an escort. He was very kind and prompt in his reply. Calling an orderly he told him to detail a sergeant and twenty-five men to act as my escort in and out of Galice Creek. The soldiers were soon ready, but it was well on in the day when we had only gotten to Vannoy's Ferry, which was deserted, when we concluded to camp for the night, get an early start in the morning and return from the creek in time to camp at Evans' next day, if possible. As we had no grub, cooking did not bother us.
By daylight the next morning we had made a start. On our way we found seven pack mules, either lost or stolen from some train. I confiscated the bunch and drove them on before us. Our progress was slow, and it was about ten o'clock when we rode into the mining camp of Galice Creek. We were gladly received, but before proceeding to business I asked for breakfast for the men and myself, which was quickly prepared.
After satisfying our hunger I told the sergeant to place his men around the camp in such a manner that none might leave unless with my consent.
I then assembled the whole community together and proceeded to read my instructions. For a few minutes they did not seem to comprehend their import, but when the full meaning was realized there was consternation in camp. They nearly all reached for their rifles and one man by the name of Love [Timoleon Love?] placed himself in the door, rifle in hand, and swore he was lawfully married and that I should not take his wife. One or two others followed his example. In the meantime, the squaws had made a hasty exit for the purpose of escape. I requested one of their number to reread my instructions so that there might be no misunderstanding as to its import. When he had finished I said, "Boys, I have got the drop on you. Look out of the door and see what chance you have got to make a fight of it. You have heard my instructions. I must take the squaws to Fort Lane or bring evidence that I have been here. Now I am going to take them or their ears to show Ross that I have obeyed orders."
For a little while pandemonium reigned, and then everything quieted down and we proceeded to business.
My first requirement was for pack saddles and aparejos for the mules so that the squaws might ride. After gathering all in camp, I began hunting for the squaws and found them hidden away wherever they could find a hiding place. Most of them were on the floor under the bunks. I told their men to bring them out and get them ready for a start. In short order I had fourteen squaws and two or three Indian children ready to go. Then the husbands instructed the squaws to stay close to me and not let me get out of their sight, for there was a report, generally believed by the squaws (but without cause), that a company of volunteers under Angus Brown was killing squaws, old bucks, or anything that looked like an Indian on sight. Two squaws were put on each mule and the children behind a horseman. I forgot to state that I found a part of a company of volunteers at Galice Creek when I got there. I have also forgotten the captain's name.
We made a hurried departure, accompanied by the volunteers, and our trip was surely a funny one. Climbing the mountains the squaws would slide off behind the mules; going down they would ride behind the mules' ears; every time they would slide off they would cling together and roll down and over one another while nothing but bare legs and squaws' heads could be seen. Then the whole command would halt and I would order two men to remount the squaws and we would take a fresh start.
One of the squaws, the wife of Love, I think, who was rather good-looking and more intelligent than the others, came to me and begged that they be allowed to walk. But I was afraid I could not guard them as well as though they were riding, so I refused them the privilege. I afterwards learned that she was the same squaw that held a torch to guide the Indians to a bar in Rogue River to kill her then-husband. The captain of the volunteers urged the same thing and said we would give them a chance to escape and at the first move on their part to that effect he would kill the last one of them.
On my telling him that a move on his part to kill a squaw would be followed by an order from me to the soldiers to kill him and all of his company that helped him, he got quite indignant and wanted to know since when I had been an Indian sympathizer. My reply was that my record was all that I cared to go by and asked him if his record was as good.
We camped that night at our camp of the previous night, the squaws occupying a room on the ground floor of a room on the ground floor of a new house that was being built by Vannoy for a tavern. We spread our blankets outside and stationed guards to prevent any attempt at escape.
The white woman and her children remained on the creek, together with nearly all the miners. They were well supplied with ammunition, and after the squaws and volunteers left there was a good supply of food on hand and they thought the danger was mostly over and did not wish to leave their mining claims, which were paying well.
The next morning we made an early start, and during the trip the prisoners kept so close around me for fear of encountering the volunteers that I looked more like a prisoner than they did.
We proceeded on our way past Evans' Ferry, but Major Fitzgerald had moved, and I never met him again, for which I was sorry, as I wished to thank him for his kindness to me.
We reached Fort Lane without mishap, and I delivered my charge over to Captain Smith at the fort.
I continued with the command until the close of hostilities. The squaws I never saw again, but heard that they had finally gone back to their husbands on the creek.
I should state that when I left camp there were but three persons who knew where I was going or the object of my mission. They were Colonel Ross, Adjutant Drew and myself, and had it not been for Major Fitzgerald, my mission would have been a failure, for even though I could have gotten to Galice Creek, which I very much doubt [sic], the miners I think would have killed me before parting with their squaws.
Ashland Tidings, June 28, 1909, page 6
At this point a miner named Pickett claimed that he could go out and make peace with the Indians and started out of the building to do so, but had not gone more than a hundred yards when he was shot through his left side. He was brought back to the fort, and all was done for him that could be, but he died during the day. Another man named Sanders was killed by a bullet which came through the building. A man named Adams went out of the building for some purpose and was shot in the knee. Another miner went out to help him in and received a bullet in the jaw. The Indians made numerous charges against the position of the white men, but they were as often driven back and quite a number of them were killed by the whites.
Chief John kept up the fight for three days but finally gave up the contest. The miners did not suffer the loss of as many men as did the Indians, and they made a splendid defense considering the small number of arms they had at their disposal.
"Galice Blockhouse Incident," Rogue River Courier, Grants Pass, April 1, 1910, page 2
Last revised March 24, 1855