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Doc. 113.-battle of bear River, W. T.

Deseret “news” account.

Deseret, February 10.
in the last issue of the News, and the one preceding that, we noticed, as far as we had information, “the expedition for the arrest of Indian chiefs, and the fight with the Indians.” The volunteers have now returned to their quarters on the beach, east of the city, and through them we learn the facts in detail of the expedition, and of a hard-fought battle, which, though in a locality outside of our territorial limits, will not be the less felt in its results by our citizens. As we have been freely furnished with what information we have requested, we give it as freely to our readers at home and abroad.

At the time we noticed the departure of the infantry under Captain Hoyt, and of the cavalry under Major McGarry We now learn that the former had sixty-nine men of company K, Third infantry, and the latter had two hundred and twenty men of companies A, H, M, and K, Second cavalry. These, together with twelve mounted men as an escort to the baggage train, and Col. Connor, Major McGarry, Major Gallagher, and Lieut. Berry, constituted the entire fighting force that went North. Guides and others attached to the company are, of course, not counted. Five or six irregulars, among them “Dutch Joe,” a gentleman with whom we have no acquaintance, went in and had a free fight, by way of wiping off all scores with the Indians; so altogether, the force exceeded a little over three hundred men.

The judiciary probably regard the marching of the expedition as an aid to the U. S. Marshal, in serving writs for the apprehension of several chiefs; but it is quite as probable that the movement was but a part of the campaign upon which Colonel Connor and the volunteers have entered to clear the north and central routes to California of the marauding, thieving Indians, whose murderous hostilities we were so frequently called upon to record last summer. Two previous expeditions under Major McGarry were but the prelude to that which we have now to record, and as far as we can learn, conjecture leads to the conclusion that the end of expeditions has not yet come, and that the Colonel will either make an end of Pocotello and San Pitch, with their bands, this summer, or drive them far enough from the northern route to render it safe for the emigrants.

On reaching Bear River, though it was yet early daylight, by the aid of his field-glass, the Colonel could plainly discover the position of the Indians on the north side of the river. The cavalry dismounted, loaded arms, remounted, and Major McGarry had orders to lead across the river, and, if possible, surround the Indians. Companies K and M, Lieut. Chase and Captain Price, first reached the banks on the north side, after considerable difficulty from the ice in the bottom of the river, and from the masses of ice that were carried along with the current. Companies H and A, Captain McLean and Lieutenant Quinn, followed close behind them. The first companies galloped up the base of a range of hills to the east, and formed in line of battle; but before all the men had dismounted, the Indians sent a shower of lead among them, [402] wounding one of the volunteers. The first companies were deployed as skirmishers, and ordered along the front of the ravine. The two other companies were up immediately after, and dismounting, were ordered forward in the same manner.

The Indians had excellent winter quarters in a deep ravine, about three fourths of a mile long, running almost directly due north from Bear River into the mountains that formed their protection on their left. The banks of the ravine east and west were almost perpendicular, with only three places of difficult approach, which the Indians had made for their own convenience, and for the annoyance of any approaching enemy. Anticipating an attack, they had cut steps in the east side of the banks of the ravine, from which they could conveniently fire without exposure, and descend again for perfect security. Besides these natural advantages in the ravine, on each side there were rising benches about ten feet apart, which also gave the Indians the advantage over their exposed enemy, who had to discover suddenly that ready rifles awaited their approach.

In the ravine, the wick-i-ups were planted among the willows, which partly concealed them, and the lower portions were embanked outside with rock and earth. With considerable ingenuity, they had interwoven the willows to the east of their wick-i-ups, with loop-holes through which they could fire without exposure. They had also forked sticks set in the ground to serve as rests for their rifles, and with these, no doubt considered themselves safe enough against any force likely to be brought against them.

As the troops formed in line of battle, the Indians seemed to look upon the coming struggle with particularly good humor. While one of the chiefs rode up and down in front of the ravine, brandishing his spear in the face of the volunteers, the warriors in front sung out: “Fours right, fours left; come on, you California sons of----!” On such a polite invitation, the word was given to “advance,” and gradually as the volunteers neared the ravine the Indians retired over the benches, awaited calmly their approach, and sent at them a murderous fire that was sensibly felt everywhere. A large number of men fell dead, several fell mortally wounded, and others threw themselves to the ground to abide their time and adopt another style of fighting. The word was passed along the line for the men not to waste their ammunition, and to protect themselves as much as possible. In the advance of company K, Lieutenant Chase was first wounded in the wrist, and in a moment or two received his mortal wound, but kept his saddle for about twenty minutes longer, urging on his men in the fight. Captain McLean, in the advance with company M, was wounded in the right hand, but kept on toward the ravine with revolver in his left hand, till he received a dangerous wound in the left thigh, which has caused him much suffering, and threatens his life.

The Colonel, seeing the advantageous position of the Indians, resorted to strategy, and sent Major McGarry with a small detachment of dismounted cavalry to cross the north end of the ravine, to flank the Indians on the left, and take them in the rear. The infantry hearing the firing, while yet distant from the scene of action, hastened up and attempted to cross the river; but it was too deep for footmen, and they had to fall back. Colonel Connor sent over to them the cavalry horses, with which they crossed, and wet and freezing they entered the fight. Capt. Hoyt was ordered to support Major McGarry in the flanking movement, and with his company succeeded in scrambling up the hill, skirmishing as they went, till they finally reached the west side, where, with the troops north and east, they kept up an enfilading fire on the Indians that ultimately drove them down into the central and lower portions of the ravine. The Indians, in the opening of the fight, had the best of it, and the volunteers fell like the leaves in autumn, but the tide of fortune changed, and savage ferocity was outmatched by generalship, brave men and good rifles.

As the work of death progressed, and the result was now clearly seen, the lower portion of the ravine became the object of interest. Capt. Price, with a detachment of men from companies K and M, were doing fearful execution. In the space of five minutes, eight of his men had fallen in death or were mortally wounded; but others taking their places, the contest was kept up, and at the close of the struggle, forty-eight Indians were lying together in a heap, which showed how bravely they had fought for life. Lieut. Quinn, with a small detachment, had entered the ravine from the east, and did, in the language of report, “excellent execution,” while Lieutenant Clark, with another detachment, commanded the mouth of the ravine, and did also “his duty,” as the Indians were driven toward the river.

By this time the fight had lasted nearly four hours; many of the men with feet so badly frozen that they could scarcely walk, and others with fingers so frozen that they could not tell they had a cartridge in their hands, unless they looked for it there.

The Indians, bravely as they fought, could not withstand the indomitable will and bravery of the troops, and presently the detachments stationed at the mouth of the ravine detected the Indians breaking. A wild yell from the troops announced this fact to the Colonel, and in an instant he had Lieutenants Berry, Quinn, and Conrad with a detachment of mounted cavalry charging furiously down the river, and cut off the Indian retreat at that point. The Indians being thus encircled and brought to bay, an almost hand-to-hand conflict ensued, all along the river-bank. Colonel Connor and Major Gallagher then galloped down among the troops, and another severe fight took place. In a few seconds Lieut. Quinn had his horse shot from under him, and Lieutenant Berry was badly wounded in the right shoulder, and here, also, a number of the men fell. A few minutes after Lieutenant Berry fell, Major Gallagher received a painful wound in the [403] left arm, the ball passing through it entering his side, while one of the men close by Col. Connor was shot from his horse. Soon the Indians were completely broken, and in full retreat, but very few of them escaped.

We have learned nothing more definite with regard to the number of Indians killed than what we stated last week. From two hundred and fifty to three hundred were undoubtedly killed in the fight, or in the river in the attempt to escape. The chiefs, Bear-Hunter, Sag-Witch, and Lehi, were among the slain.

A thousand bushels of wheat, and a large amount of beef and provisions, together with an abundant supply of powder, lead, bullets, and caps were found in the encampment. There were numerous evidences of emigrant plunder, such as modern cooking utensils, looking-glasses, combs, brushes, fine rifles and pistols, and such things as the Indians were likely to consider worthy of preservation, when they had attacked and robbed the emigrants. Wagon-covers, with the names of their unfortunate owners, were also lying around, and patching up their wick-i-ups. What the command thought worth bringing to camp they took, and destroyed the balance, leaving enough only for the preservation of the squaws and papooses. Among the trophies of war were one hundred and seventy-five ponies that the Indians had tied up to the willows during the fight.

On the side of the volunteers, the following is a carefully prepared

list of killed and wounded and casualties.

Second cavalry, company A.--Killed: Privates James W. Baldwin and George German.

Mortally wounded: Private John W. Wall.

Badly wounded: Privates Jas. S. Montgomery, John Welsh, and Wm. H. Lake.

Slightly wounded : William Jay.

Feet frozen badly: Corporal Adolphus Spraggle and private John D). Marker.

Feet frozen slightly: Bugler I. Kearney; privates Samuel L'Hommedieu, R. McNulty, and G. Swan.

Company M.--Killed: Wagoner Asa F. Howard; privates George C. Cox and Geo. C. Hoton.

Seriously wounded: Sergeant Anthony Stevens; Corporal L. W. Hughes; privates W. H. Hood, L. D. Hughes, J. Legget, E. C. Chase, T. Barcafar, and Wm. Davis.

Slightly wounded: Sergeant Lorin Robbins; privates R. Miller, M. Forbes, and P. Hunbert; bugler A. Hoffner.

Feet frozen: Sergeant John Cullen; Corporals A. P. Hewett and Wm. Steel; privates W. W. Collins, James Dyer, and John McGonagle.

Hand frozen: Private A. J. Case.

Company H.--Killed: Privates John K. Briggs and Charles L. Hollowell.

Seriously wounded: Captain Daniel McClean; Sergt. Jas. Cantellon; Corporals Philip Schaub, Patrick Frauley; privates Michael O'Brian, H. L. Fisher, John Franklin, Hen. Connor, Joseph Clowes, Thompson Ridge, James Logan.

Slightly wounded: Privates Barbele, C. Hutchinson, Frank Farley.

Company K.--Killed: Privates Lewis Anderson, Christian Smith, Shelburne C. Reed, Adolphus Rowe, and Henry W. Trempf.

Seriously wounded: Lieutenant Darwin Chase; private Wm. Slocum.

Slightly wounded: Privates Albert N. Parker, John S. Lee, Walter B. Welton, Nathaniel Kensley.

Slightly wounded: Sergt. Sylvanius S. Longley, Corporal Benjamin Lauds; privates Patrick H. Kelly, Eugene J. Brady, Silas C. Bush, John Daley, Robert Hargrave, Morris Illig, Alonzo A. P. V. McCoy.

Frozen feet: Sergt. Wm. L. Beach; Corporals William L. White and James R. Hunt; privates Stradge Ansley, Matthew Armone, David Briston, Fred. W. Becker, Nathaniel Chapman, Samuel Caldwell, Joseph Chapman, John G. Hertle, Chas. B. Horse, Joseph Hill, George Johnston, Jefferson Lincoln, Arthur Mitchell, James McKown, Alonzo R. Palmer, Charles Wilson.

Third infantry, company K.--Killed: Privates John E. Barker, Samuel W. Thomas.

Seriously wounded: Sergeant A. J. Austin, E. C. Hoyt; privates John Hensley, Thos. B. Walker.

Frozen feet: Sergeants C. J. Herron, C. F. Williams; Corporals Wm. Bennett, John Lattman, John Wingate; privates Joseph German, James Urquhart, Wm. S. John, Algeray Ramsdell, James Epperson, A. J. F. Randell, William Farnham, John Baurland, Giles Ficknor, Alfred Peusho, B. B. Bigelow, J. Anderson, F. Bouralso, F. Brouch, A. L. Bailey, William Charleton, D. Donahue, C. H. Godbold, J. Heywood, C. Heath, J. Manning, Wm. Way.


Co.Regiment.Killed.Wounded.Feet frozen.Total.
A,Second cavalry,25714
H,Second cavalry,2111629
K,Second cavalry,5142140
M,Second cavalry,315826
K,Third infantry,242733

died after the battle.

Private William Davis, company M, Second cavalry, February 2, at Ogden.

Lieutenant Darwin Chase, company K, Second cavalry, February 4, at Farmington.

Sergeant James Cantillon, company H, Second cavalry, February 5, at Camp Douglas.

Private William Slocum, company K, Second cavalry, February 5, at Camp Douglas.

Sergt. A. Stevens, company M, Second cavalry, February 6, at Camp Douglas.

Private M. O'Brian, company H, Second cavalry, February 6, at Camp Douglas.

Corporal P. Frawley, company H, Second cavalry, February 8, at Camp Douglas.

Private W. Wall, company A, Second cavalry, February 8, at Camp Douglas.

The moment the battle was over, the first attention [404] was given to the wounded, and before the sun had set and closed to them that memorable day, Colonel Connor had them all transported to the south side of the river, where Dr. Reed rendered them every surgical aid, and, as well as possible, dressed their wounds to prepare them for the return journey to camp. The living gathered up the dead and placed them in the baggage-wagons, and bivouacked in the snow for the night. Next morning the wounded were started homeward on sleighs, in which they travelled as far as Farmington, where they were changed into carriages and wagons, and continued their journey homeward till they arrived at camp during the night of the second instant. On the evening of the fourth, Colonel Connor and the survivors of his command returned to their quarters, and so far ended their expedition.

On Thursday, the fifth, fifteen of the dead were interred with military honors by the entire command, which attracted a large concourse of spectators from the city.

At dress-parade on Sunday afternoon the following complimentary order was read to the troops:

headquarters District Utah, camp Douglas, U. T., February 6, 1863.
The Colonel Commanding has the pleasure of congratulating the troops of this post upon the brilliant victory achieved at the battle of Bear River, Washington Territory.

After a rapid march of four nights, in intensely cold weather, through deep snow and drifts, which you endured without murmur or complaint, even when some of your number were frozen with cold, and faint with hunger and fatigue, you met our enemy, who have heretofore on two occasions defied and defeated regular troops, and who have, for the last fifteen years, been the terror of the emigrants — men, women, children, and citizens of these valleys — murdering and robbing them without fear of punishment.

At daylight on the twenty-ninth of January, 1863, you encountered the enemy, greatly your superior in numbers, and in a desperate battle, continued with unflinching courage for over four hours, you completely cut him to pieces, captured his property and arms, destroyed his strong-hold, and burned his lodges.

The long list of killed and wounded is the most fitting eulogy on your courage and bravery.

The Colonel Commanding returns you his thanks. The gallant officers and men who were engaged in this battle, without invidious distinction, merit the highest praise; your uncomplaining endurance and unexampled conduct on the field, as well as your thoughtful care and kindness to the wounded, are worthy of emulation.

While we rejoice at the brilliant victory you have achieved over your savage foe, it is meet that we do honor to the memory of our brave comrades — the heroic men who fell fighting to maintain the supremacy of our arms; we deeply mourn their death and acknowledge their valor.

While the people of California will regret their loss, they will do honor to every officer and soldier who have by their heroism added new laurels to the fair escutcheon of the State.

By order of Colonel Connor. Wm. L. Ustick, First Lieut. Third Infantry, C. V., A. A.A. General.

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