When aggressors became the protectors

Fort Humboldt, intially established to protect the settlers, became a temporary haven for the Natives

Fort Humboldt, intially established to protect the settlers, became a temporary haven for the Natives

While there were many who wanted the natives driven from the Humboldt Bay area, there were some, such as Exodus,  that recognized the injustice of it all.

Major Raines was in charge of Fort Humboldt in 1860, and after the massacre, he provided asylum to the surviving Natives. He initially refused to force them to the Klamath Reservation, but I think he eventually capitulated.  Does anyone know more of this story?

As an aside, I think it is very telling that Raines basically says that Sheriff Van Nest is in bed with the bad guys…

I could edit these articles and but I figure there is lots of info and don’t want to accidently omit something that might be interesting to someone…

Removal of Indians at Fort Humboldt to Klamath–Raines refusal to compel the Indians to leave -The Indian Department and Major Raines—After the massacre at Indian Island and South Beach, Major Raines issued orders that the survivors should be provided for and protected at Fort Humboldt, until some other disposition could be made of them. This was a judicious movement at the time and one that the circumstances required.  A few weeks ago the agent in charge of the Klamath reserve went word to the Major, to the effect that he was prepared to receive the Indians and ready to remove them.  Maj. Raines replied to the messenger that the was “truly glad to hear it, and that it would afford him great pleasure to co-operate with the agent, to the extent of his ability”.  Immediately upon his arrival in the county… Mr. Buel waited upon the Major and received assurance of this desire to be relieved of the Indians and that he would do all in his power to assist the agent in their removal.  The Major then had the Indians summoned, and said to them that Mr. Buel had “provided safe homes for them at the LK, that he was their friend and would talk nothing but the truth, and that it was for their own good that he wished them to go with him,” etc. etc.  So are it as all plain sailing with our officials;  but at an interview the next morning, Major R. gave the agent to understand that it would be necessary first to obtain the consent of the Indians, and that he would use his influence to induce them to agree to go, but that he had no authority to compel them.  to this Mr. Buel objected that it was “immaterial whether the Indians wished to go or not; that he was there to remove them and willing to use force to compel them to obey him, if requisite.”—Mr. Buel then left the Fort and subsequently sent the letter (follows)—to which the Major declined to make any reply.– Without pretending to know whether Major Raines is acting in accordance with orders or not, we submit that Fort Humboldt is not a proper place for these Indians. The question of employing force in the removal of the Indians at the Fort, is a mere abstraction.  There are but about seventy of them all told, men, women and children,… and it requires nothing but moral force to make them obey—But whether this should prove sufficient or not, we maintain that it is of no importance whatever, except as a matter of convenience, what the Indians think or wish in the premises.  They must be made to understand that henceforth they are to be taken care of by government, and they must yield implicit obedience to the officers appointed to take charge of them.  [Northern Californian, April 15, 1860]


Letter from Fort Humboldt–Intro faded, hard to read… Sir, … crimes perpetrated on this Bay whilst have ever disgraced the history of mankind, by false and contemptible lies, criminating along with the (unknown word) reverend gentlemen; and as some of these lies here found themselves in the columns of your newspaper, please favor me by publishing the enclosed (a copy of which has been forwarded to Sheriff Van Nest,) in order to “disabuse the public”;

 I would premise by stating that instructions similar in substance have been given to each officer on the same service, and also that up to this date I can find no excuse whatever for the horrid massacres on this Bay and the removal of Indians thereof from the county, who I have considered as safeguards to the citizens of this vicinity and their property, by acting as spies upon the mountain tribes, to destroy small numbers and betray larger ones who may come for spoilage or murder. –Very respectfully, you obed’t serv’t, G.J. Raines, Major U.S.A. Comd’g Post. 

 (Letter from Major Raines to Sheriff Van Nest, above alluded to): Fort Humboldt, Cal., May 17, 1860.  Sheriff B. Van Nest, Eureka, Cal.—Sir: having been informed that a certain faction favorable to the interests of the assassins in this county–of which you appear as spokesman,–have been getting up a design apparently with a sinister view, )as the good citizens of Eureka well know that all legitimate calls upon the military in Indian matters would be properly attended to,) and as a false statement of yours in the San Francisco Bulletin of 5th March last, and your having taken no steps whatever to bring to justice the perpetrators of the horrid massacres on this Bay and in the county, of 26th February last, lead to an inference unfavorable to your official character, it becomes my duty, as the officer in command of United States troops at this post, to warn you and all concerned against taking any unlawful steps in the premises.  I therefore transcribe for you a copy of a late order, as follows:  

 [Copy Order] Fort Humboldt, Cal., Mar 4, 1860.  to Lieut. J.W. Cleary, 6 Infantry, U.S.A., Comd’g co. in the field. 

 Sir: Yours of the 30th ultimo is acknowledged, and I regret much the death of Yo-Keel-le-bah, killed, it is feared, in his overweening confidence in the promises and protection of the White man. Our main dependence was upon him to communicate with the mountain tribes.  His character and friendship for the settlers, and his saving of their cattle, are well known to me.  ~ but do not give it up yet, but try to have a talk with them by the aid of Mr. Stam and the interpreter sent to you, and here have some argument with the In that they must cease to kill cattle and agree to give up culprits, and they shall not be killed.  If you succeed, inform the cattle owners that they may put a stop to “volunteers” pitching in and killing men, women and children, as they often do, which necessarily frustrates all our efforts for peace and the security of property.  The Indians being impressed with the idea that forbearance will save their lives, that must have its effect, and this plan of the volunteers killing all the Indians to check cattle stealing is evidently perfectly absurd, as I have been assured again and again by different persons that there are 3,000 of these upper Eel river Indians alone, and perhaps 10,000 in the country and its vicinity all told. 

 I am informed that the volunteers under Wright were out three months, and killed all of three men, and he had too, some active and energetic men in his company.  Now if thirty-five men in three months kill three Indians, it requires just 250 years, at that rate, to kill them all on Eel River, and 700? years to rid the county allowing nothing for increase! 

 The hostility of these Indians is questionable.  For a year past, they have killed no citizen, and the case of Ellison (not Emerson, as you suppose) could not be fairly called so, as he found the Indians carrying off meat—he followed them—shot down two, and they were still at it when, in a return fire of arrows, one his Ellison in the groin, from which he, some days afterwards, died (as per statement of Mr. Dix, one of the party, which I have in writing). 

 The Indians have been driven, as you say, from this part of the country, and your idea that they came to kill cattle, not from malice, but because they find it difficult to subsist, is probably correct.  This is a sorrowful state of things, but we must stop it if possible, and punish the guilty, while hostility must be met with the like.  I am aware that they have been so often shot at that they are off at the moment they see a white face: and that it would require some 300 troops to remove them to a reservation.  Yet something must be done with a pacific understanding. 

You state that in a circle of 25 miles there are ten or twelve persons living and about 2,000 head of cattle; that the cattle are not in any enclosure, but are allowed to range over a large extent of country, nearly all of which is Government land, and , with one or two exceptions, they are not guarded or herded; that there are some cattle which belong to persons who live at a distance of 25 or 30 miles, and that you doubt very much if some of them have any one to take charge of them.  Well, this is to be regretted, but soldiers are not herdsman, and your camp should be moved where there is amore military demand for their services.  Very respectfully, your obed’t serv’t, G.J. Raines, Major 4th Infantry Cmand’g Post.

 P.S.—If you take any prisoners, send them in under guard to this post; and if you cannot get at the Indians otherwise, try and make it known to them that you will feed them.  Then send to me, and I will come out and have a talk with them. G.J. R.


 The Humboldt Bay Massacre of Indians—Justice to Maj. Raines and the U.S. Troops.  Eureka, Humboldt county, March 22, 1860.  Editor of the San Francisco Bulletin:–Your issue of 13th March contains a communication from some one styling himself “anti-thug, “ which pretends to give an account of the late Indian massacres in this vicinity.  some of the misstatements for that communication require correction, as they reflect upon the conduct and character of innocent parties. ~ In speaking of the slaughtered In he says’ “All had been assured of the protection of the United States garrison at this place, commanded by Major Raines.” Again, after detailing the horrid massacre of 200 defenseless Indians, mostly squaws and children, he says:” All this was done within a stone’s throw  of the United States barracks.” These statements, and all in his communication reflecting upon the conduct of the United States military in this affair in unqualifiedly false.  So far from having been assured of the protection of the troops, these Indians suspected no danger, and received their assurance of safety from their own innocence and the supposed friendliness of the whites. Instead of ht massacre having been perpetrated within a stone’s throw of the barracks, there was not an Indian killed within three and a half miles of the fort. South Beach is fully that distance from the barracks, and is on the opposite side of the bay.  Indian Island is, as he says, but a mile from this place (Eureka)  but Fort Humboldt  is two and a half miles from us, and in the opposite direction. There was an Indian ranch within a mile of the Fort but it was not molested. 

~ The horrid massacre recently committed in our vicinity is unparalleled in the history of civilization, but few (the surviving Indians say but five)were engaged in it; and who they are is as yet unknown.  Our citizens strongly denounce the cowardly perpetrators of the deed.  but though the matter has been the all exciting subject of conversation and discussion on the street and in places of public resort, I have heard no one blame Major Raines, or any of the officers at Fort Humboldt with want of sympathy with the Indians, or with inactivity in their protection .  The surviving Indians of this vicinity find a secure asylum at the Fort.  ~Your correspondent also says that a petition was sent from  Eel River, praying for protection for the Indians, but that Major Raines “Let’s things rip”.  Wrong again.  Upon the reception of the petition, a force was promptly dispatched to Eel River, with orders to take such measures as circumstances might require for the protection of the lives and property of citizens and to confer with the leading petitioners as to the protection of the Indians, and arrest of the lawless depredators.  ~Any one of common information knows, that in such matters the military authority is subordinate to the civil power, and that to assist the latter when required, is all the at Major Raines can do to bring criminals to justice, without infringing upon the sovereignty of the State of California.  

~ The proof of the foregoing statements will be furnished, if required. (Signed) ~A citizen of Eureka.


One Response to When aggressors became the protectors

  1. […] become known to the Indians in the mountains, who would have attributed it to our treachery, and no more of them could be expected to come in. The official report of Brigade Surgeon Egbert traced the mortality to two causes-the close […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: