Indian War on the Klamath River

Letter from Jas. C. Callen to John Bidwell, courtesy of the California State Library.

Letter from Jas. C. Callen to John Bidwell, courtesy of the California State Library.

On February 7, 1854 James C. Callen wrote John Bidwell about an “Indian ware on the clammoth river.” A ’49er, Callen had been residing in Butte County in 1850, but by 1854 he was living on the Klamath River “ten miles from Yreiky.” Here is the first half of his letter, reporting on a skirmish with Indians. Spelling is just the way he wrote it. Note that he always spells ‘they’ phonetically as ‘tha’, the rest you can probably figure out.

Siskiyou County, Callens Fery Febuary 7th / 54

Mr. J Bidwell   Sir

Indian ware on the clammoth river

Some of the miners on cottonwood bought squaws of the Indians and pade for them in horses and guns some time after these traids the squaws run away then the boys told the Sitisans that the Indians had some stoling horses and if tha would help them to provision and aminison tha would bring them a way, so tha ware all furnished and when tha came to the place whare the indians ware tha found them all in a large cave and well prepared for wore. So tha wint back and told a worse taile than ever Sitisens and traiders made up a second out fit for the boys and about forty of them turned out now to take the cave and horses when tha came in Sight the indians hailed them and inquired there bisness the cottonwood boys thinking it would ondly be sport for them fired on the indians tha soon saw the indians had the advantage and give ground the indians fought them about four miles and killed four whites and wounded five more one Indian was kild and several wounded this caused the excitement the indians sent them word to come on that tha had a good fourt and could cleare out all that could come you can se the last fight in the mountin herreld.

The Mountain Herald was a weekly newspaper published in Yreka beginning in 1853. This letter is in the John Bidwell Papers at the California State Library, where you can also read the Mountain Herald. The transcription is my own.

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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