Drunkards to the rescue….

Continued from previous posts:

Poor miserable half naked…

Soldier on his way to Humboldt…

Training for “the enemy”… 


On March 29, 1862, a Humboldt Times headline read, “Horrible Indian Outrages!—The Savages Become Bolder!”

According to a letter submitted to the paper on March 27, 1862,  the citizens of Arcata were “really alarmed at the extent of their [Indians’] evil deeds and the increased boldness and daring… “

The letter goes on to say that local Indians shot Zehendner and burned his home, burnt Goodman’s house and the next day,  Mrs. Brehmer’s.  On Friday, March 28, Augustus Bates was shot and killed. The Natives then torched his house.    At the time, Bates, coincidentally, had homesteaded what is now our property.  He could have died within feet of where I type this blog.  But that is a story for another day.

The letter ends with this sad lament,

“What a sudden reverse—peace and fancied security one day—death and destruction the next. Surely human life is mutable and occurrences like this bring the fact impressively to our mind.

This is a gloomy letter, and ours is a gloomy town.  I can think and write of nothing else.”

On April 2, 1862, many of the citizens of Arcata signed a petition asking the military to remove the indigenous people from the county completely and place them in Mendocino County or Crescent City.  An application was made to General Wright for an increase of military force in the area, “that operations against the enemy may be effective and the war short.”

So hopes were high that the military would prove effective against the native threat when young James Brown and his fellow troops arrived in Humboldt county.

Brown landed by ship in Eureka on April 20, 1862.  The soldiers were quartered in a two story farmhouse and “Nearly all of the two Co’s drunk, breaking through the guard and going to town.  Noisy and quarrelsome.”

The next day Brown was on guard with Sgt. Gillis, Co. H and described his comrades- in- arms as “a perfect bedlam of drunk and noisy soldiers.”  Brown was kept busy all day running after them in town where they were creating a continual disturbance. The next day, 25 soldiers faced court martial. 

On April 26, the Humboldt Times editor noted that at least forty soldiers faced charges and at that rate “half of the soldiers will shortly be under arrest, and a large proportion of the other [s]… will be guarding them; while the officers, who should be leading their men against the hostile Indians, are obliged… to sit week after week as members of a Military Court….”

So much for “effective” operations against the Indians…

6 Responses to Drunkards to the rescue….

  1. olmanriver says:

    When most of the regular army got called back east to fight in the Civil War, it seems as though serving in the military was a paying job for many of the dregs of society…as you have described here.
    There was one hilarious description of a time when half of the men at Ft. Humboldt had shredded their pants in the field chasing the Indians are were restricted to staying at the Fort. (When Kevin Costner does the movie-this has to be a scene in it)

    This period of late 1860-1862 was the peak of the Indians holding their own in many outlying areas, many of the Bear River settlers were burn out, but didn’t leave, in this period, as well as hostilities in the Mad River area that you describe.

    With the formation of the Mountaineer Battalions the tide turned quickly against the Indians.

  2. olmanriver says:

    A few years later a soldier wrote home from Fort Humboldt with this description: Marysville Daily Appeal, 11 November 1864.

    Abstract: Co. “C’, 6th Inf., and Co. “A”, 1st Cavalry garrison the post. Says 500 Indian prisoners
    stationed on the peninsula with 20 soldiers as guards. Says the Indians fight among themselves
    constantly. Says the troopers attend political meeting in Eureka, and lots of Copperheads in the

    • lynette77 says:

      Hey ‘River ! I have quite a few newpaper articles about that peninsula that I hope to post some day. It was basically a prisoner of war camp, though I’ve never heard it described precisely that way.

    • lynette77 says:

      Wait ! 1864?!?! It was being used again for prisoners. The first time was in the fall of 1862 (see post on Lassik-https://lynette707.wordpress.com/2009/09/28/native-resistance/#more-476).

      I am moving into 1864 in my review of local papers-it’ll be interesting to see what I find about Samoa…

  3. […] was at the height of the Indian wars.  The soldiers had built a corral at Fort Humboldt to contain the Indian “prisoners”, but that […]

  4. Lou Henderson says:

    lynette, as you read the old papers see if you can find a marriage between Andrew Nathaniel Foote and Venus Kidd about 1866..She was Indian and Foote fought in the Indian Wars…If possible see if their parents names accompany that info. They are my great grandparents.

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