July 20, 2015

1870 Indian Conflicts: Outskirts of Prescott Sit Helpless

After suffering losses going head to head with American troops, Native Americans turned to guerrilla tactics of warfare, raiding small parties.  Sometimes these raids involved taking the anglos' necessities.  Sometimes they meant to kill them outright.

In the summer of 1870, nearby Fort Whipple had an extreme shortage of men.  In order to keep a skeleton crew guarding the fort, they could only send out around half a dozen soldiers at a time. (*1)

When the local Native Americans learned this, the surrounding settlements around Prescott quickly found themselves in serious trouble.

The June 25th, 1870 issue of the Arizona (Weekly) Miner related that:
*A placer miner's horse was stolen at Lynx Creek.
*A pair of men were shot at as they travelled from Lonesome Valley to the Big Bug Creek.
*The Watson family as well as a Canadian emigrant were killed between Kirkland Junction and Camp Date Creek. (*2)
It was reported that the Indians "have infested every road, trail, and pass through the country, and robbed and murdered the traveler...(as well as) the farmer and the miner."(*3)

The story of a group of Mexican volunteers fighting proudly during the Indian Conflicts.

Walnut Grove, a settlement that might have been all but lost to history had it not been for a deadly dam disaster in 1890, was particularly hard hit.

The settlement, located about 30 miles south-southeast of Prescott, included farmers and miners, both of whom's luck would eventually run out.

One man's account of the trials and tribulations of simply traveling to Prescott, Arizona in 1871.

In June of 1870, Apaches raided the area no less than three times in a single week.  They "stole two horses from John Burger and...ten head of donkeys from Mr. Lamberson."  Then "they visited the valley, cut down a great deal of wheat and carried it away to some secure place in the mountains." (*4)

"Indians were plenty in the vicinity" of Walnut Grove.  In July, "(they) chased Mr. Lamberson's cattle out of his corral." (*5)

The reason for the Indian's successes was mostly due to a real shortage of men at Fort Whipple.  Many of the scantly paid soldiers got gold fever and left for the hills.  "The fact is, the ranks of the few companies of troops...in this section of territory (had) been thinned by death, desertion and discharge until only a few (were) left in each company to do garrison duty, escort trains, mails, paymasters, etc." (*1)

For their part, local whites were becoming bitter.  "There's nothing wrong with our territory," the newspaper wrote, "our only problems lie with the red devils and the government." (*3)

However, these Indian successes would soon bring the attention of the eastern press and Washington, DC. and the necessary soldiers would be on their way.

The days of the Indians roaming and raiding freely were numbered.

Sources:
(*1) Arizona (Weekly) Miner, July 2, 1870; page 3 col 2
(*2) Ibid. June 25, 1870; page 3 cols 1&2
(*3) Ibid. July 23, 1870; page 2 col 2
(*4) Ibid. July 2, 1870; page 3 col 3
(*5) Ibid. July 30, 1870 page 3 col 2

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Tourist Tips:

If you like ghost towns:
You can still visit Walnut Grove!