Home A - Z FAQ Online Library Discussion Forum Muir Weather Maps About Search
Online Library: Title Author California Geology History Indians Muir Mountaineering Nature Management

Previous: Chapter VIIndexNext: Chapter VIII


Campaign against the Chow-chillas—The Favorite Hunting Ground—A Deer Hunt and a Bear Chase —An Accident and an Alarm—A Torchlight Pow-wow—Indians Discovered—Captain Boling’s Speech—Crossing of the San Joaquin—A Line of Battle, its Disappearance—Capture of Indian Village—Jose Rey’s Funeral-pyre—Following the Trail—A Dilemma—Sentiment and Applause—Returning to Camp—Narrow Escape of Captain Boling.

Major Savage now advised a vigorous campaign against the Chow-chillas. The stampeding of our captives was one of the incentives for this movement; or at least, it was for this reason that Captain Boling and his company most zealously advocated prompt action. The commissioners approved of the plan, and decided that as the meddlesome interference of these Indians prevented other bands from coming in, it was necessary, if a peace policy was to be maintained with other tribes, that this one be made to feel the power they were opposing; and that an expedition of sufficient strength to subdue them, should be ordered immediately to commence operations against them. Accordingly, a force composed of B. and C. companies, Boling’s and Dill’s numbering about one hundred men, under command of Major Savage, started for the San Joaquin River. The route selected was by way of “Coarse Gold Gulch,” to the head waters of the Fresno, and thence to the North Fork of the San Joaquin.

The object in taking this circuitous route, was to sweep the territory of any scattered bands that might infest it. We made our first camp on the waters of “Coarse Gold Gulch,” in order to allow the scouts time to explore in advance of the command. No incident occurred here to claim especial notice, but in the morning, while passing them, I made a hasty examination of one of the “Figured Rocks” to the left of the trail.

I saw but little of interest, for at the time, I doubted the antiquity of the figures. Subsequently, in conversation with Major Savage he said that the figures had probably been traced by ancient Indians, as the present tribes had no knowledge of the representations. I afterwards asked Sandino and other Mission Indians concerning them, but none could give me any information. The scouts sent out were instructed to rendezvous near a double fall on the north fork of the San Joaquin in a little valley through which the trail led connecting with that of the north fork, as grass would there be found abundant.

Major Savage was familiar with most of the permanent trails in this region, as he had traversed it in his former prospecting tours. As we entered the valley selected for our camping place, a flock of sand-hill cranes rose from it with their usual persistent yells; and from this incident, their name was affixed to the valley, and is the name by which it is now known.

The scouts, who were watching on the trail below, soon discovered and joined us. “It is a little early for camping,” the Major said; “but at this season, good grass can only be found in the mountains in certain localities. Here there is an abundance, and soap root enough to wash a regiment.”

We fixed our camp on the West side of the little valley, about half a mile from the double falls. These falls had nothing peculiarly attractive, except as a designated point for a rendezvous.

The stream above the falls was narrow and very rapid, but below, it ran placidly for some distance through rich meadow land. The singularity of the fall was in its being double; the upper one only three or four feet, and the lower one, which was but a step below, about ten or twelve feet. In my examination of the locality, I was impressed with the convenience with which such a water-power could be utilized for mechanical purposes, if the supply of water would but prove a permanent one.

From this camp, new scouts were sent out in search of Indians and their trails; while a few of us had permission to hunt within a mile of camp. While picketing our animals, I observed the flock of sand-hill cranes again settling down some way above us, and started with Wm. Hays to get a shot at them. We were not successful in getting within range; having been so recently alarmed, they were suspiciously on the look out, and scenting our approach, they left the valley. Turning to the eastward, we were about entering a small ravine leading to the wooded ridge on the Northwest side of the Fork, when we discovered two deer ascending the slope, and with evident intention of passing through the depression in the ridge before us.

They were looking back on their trail, assurance enough that we had not been seen. We hurriedly crept up the ravine to head them off, and waited for their approach. Hays became nervous, and as he caught a glimpse of the leader, he hastily said, “Here they come—both of them—I’ll take the buck!” Assenting to his arrangement, we both fired as they rose in full view. The doe fell almost in her tracks. The buck made a bound or two up the ridge and disappeared. While loading our rifles Hays exclaimed, as if in disgust, “A miss, by jingoes! that’s a fact.” I replied, not so, old fellow, you hit him hard; he switched his tail desperately; you will see him again.” We found him dead in the head of the next ravine, but a few rods off. Hanging up our game to secure it until our return with horses, we started along the slope of the ridge toward camp. Hays was in advance, stopping suddenly, he pointed to some immense tracks of grizzlies, which in the soft, yielding soil appeared like the foot prints of huge elephants, and then hastily examining his rifle and putting a loose ball in his mouth (we had no fixed ammunition in those days, except the old paper cartridges), started on the tracks. At first I was amused at his excited, silent preparations and rapid step, and passively accompanied him. When we had reached a dense under-growth, into which the trail led, and which he was about to enter, I halted and said: “I have followed this trail as far as I design to go. Hays, it is madness for us to follow grizzlies into such a place as that.” Hays turned, came back, and said in an excited manner, “I didn’t suppose you would show the white feather with a good rifle in your hands; Chandler gives you a different character. You don’t mean to say you are afraid to go in there with me; we’ll get one or two, sure.

I was at first inclined to be angry, but replied, “Hays, I am much obliged to you for the good opinion you have had of me, but I know what grizzlies are. I am afraid of grizzlies unless I have every advantage of them; and don’t think it would be any proof of courage to follow them in there.” Hays reached out his hand as he said: “If that is your corner stake, we will go back to camp.” We shook hands, and that question was settled between us. Afterwards Hays told of his experience among Polar bears, and I rehearsed some of mine among cinnamon and grizzly bears, and he replied that after all he thought “we had acted wisely in letting the latter remain undisturbed. When in the brush they seemed to know their advantage, and were more likely to attack, whereas at other times, they would get out of your way, if they could.” I replied by asking: “Since you know their nature so well, why did you want to follow them into the brush?” He retorted, “Simply because I was excited and reckless, like many another man.”

Taking the back trail, we soon reached camp, and with our horses brought in the game before dark. While entering camp, several of our men rushed by with their rifles. Looking back across the open valley on our own trail, I saw a man running toward us as if his life depended on his speed. His long hair was fairly streaming behind as he rushed breathless into camp, without hat, shoes or gun. When first seen, the “boys” supposed the Chow-chillas were after him, but no pursuers appeared in sight. As soon as he was able to talk, he reported that he had left the squad of hunters he had gone out with, and was moving along the edge of a thicket on his way to camp, when he struck the trail of three grizzlies. Having no desire to encounter them, he left their trail, but suddenly came upon them while endeavoring to get out of the brush.

Before he could raise his rifle, they rushed toward him. He threw his hat at the one nearest, and started off at a lively gait. Glancing back, he saw two of them quarreling over his old hat; the other was so close that he dare not shoot, but dropped his gun and ran for life.

Fortunately, one of his shoes came off, and the bear stopped to examine and tear it in pieces, and here no doubt discontinued the chase, as he was not seen afterwards, though momentarily expected by the hunter in his flight to camp.

The hero of this adventure was a Texan, that was regarded by those who knew him best as a brave man, but upon this occasion he was without side arms, and, as he said, “was taken at a disadvantage.” The Major joked him a little upon his continued speed, but “Texas Joe” took it in good part, and replied that the Major, “or any other blank fool, would have run just as he did.” A few of us went back with Joe, and found his rifle unharmed. The tracks of his pursuers were distinctly visible, but no one evinced any desire to follow them up.

We considered his escape a most remarkable one.

A little after dark all the scouts came in, and reported that no Indians had been seen, nor very fresh signs discovered, but that a few tracks were observed upon the San Joaquin trail.

The news was not encouraging, and some were a little despondent, but as usual, a hearty supper and the social pipe restored the younger men to their thoughtless gayety. My recollections bring to mind many pleasant hours around the camp-fires of the “Mariposa Battalion.” Many of the members of that organization were men of more than ordinary culture and general intelligence; but they had been led out from civilization into the golden tide, and had acquired a reckless air and carriage, peculiar to a free life in the mountains of California.

The beauty of the little valley in which we were camped had so attracted my attention, that while seated by the campfire in the evening, enjoying my meal, I spoke of it in the general conversation, and found that others had discovered a “claim” for a future rancho, if the subjection of the Indians should make it desirable. The scouts mentioned the fact of there being an abundance of game as far as they had been, but that of course they dare not shoot, lest the Indians might be alarmed. These men were provided with venison by Hays and myself, while many a squirrel, jack rabbit, quail and pigeon was spitted and roasted by other less fortunate hunters. Our deer were divided among immediate friends and associates, and Captain Boling slyly remarked that “the Major’s appetite is about as good as an Indian’.” Major Savage seemed to enjoy the conversation in praise of this region, and in reply to the assertion that this was the best hunting ground we had yet seen, said: “Where you find game plenty, you will find Indians not far off. This belt of country beats the region of the Yosemite or the Poho-no Meadows for game, if the Indians tell the truth; and with the exception of the Kern River country, it is the best south of the Tuolumne River. It abounds in grizzlies and cinnamon bears, and there are some black bears. Deer are very plenty, and a good variety of small game—such as crane, grouse, quail, pigeons, road-runners, squirrels and rabbits—besides, in their season, water fowl. This territory of the Chow-chillas has plenty of black oak acorns (their favorite acorn), and besides this, there are plenty of other supplies of bulbous roots, tubers, grasses and clover. In a word, there is everything here for the game animals and birds, as well as for the Indians.”

I now thought I had a turn on the Major, for he was quite enthusiastic, and I said: “Major, you have made out another Indian Paradise; I thought you a skeptic.” With a smile as if in remembrance of our conversation in the Yosemite, he replied: “Doc, I don’t believe these Chow-chilla devils will leave here without a fight, for they seem to be concentrating; but we are going to drive them out with a ‘flaming brand.’ I think we shall find some of them to-morrow, if we expect good luck.” Turning to Captain Boling he continued, “Captain, we must make an early move in the morning; and to-morrow we must be careful not to flush our game before we get within rifle-shot. You had better caution the guards to be vigilant, for we may have a visit from their scouts to-night, if only to stampede our horses.”

Taking this as a hint that it was time to turn in, I rolled myself in my blankets. My sleep was not delayed by any thoughts of danger to the camp,—though I would have admitted the danger of loss of animals—but I was awakened by a stir in camp, and from hearing the Major called.

Sandino, the Mission Indian interpreter, had just come in from head-quarters, guiding an escort that had been sent for the Major. The Sergeant in command handed a letter to Savage, who, after reading it at the camp fire, remarked to Captain Boling, “the commissioners have sent for me to come back to head-quarters; we will talk over matters in the morning, after we have had our sleep.” He was snoring before I slept again.

In the morning Major Savage stated that he had been sent for by the Commissioners to aid in treating with a delegation of Kah-we-ah Indians sent in by Capt. Kuykendall, and regretted to leave us just at that time, when we were in the vicinity of the game we were after. That we would now be under the command of Captain Boling, etc. The Major made us a nice little speech. It was short, and was the only one he ever made to us. He then drew an outline map of the country, and explained to Captain Boling the course and plans he had adopted, but which were to be varied as the judgment of the Captain should deem to his advantage. He repeatedly enjoined the Captain to guard against surprise, by keeping scouts in advance and upon flank.

He then said he should leave Sandino with us, and told me that Spencer and myself would be expected to act as interpreters, otherwise Captain Boling could not make Sandino available as a guide or interpreter, as he cannot speak a word of English.

“As surgeon to the expedition, I will see that you are paid extra. The endurance of those appointed, has been tried and found wanting; therefore I preferred to leave them behind.” The Major then left us for head-quarters, which he would reach before night.

Captain Boling crossed the North Fork below the falls, but after a few horses had passed over the trail, the bottom land became almost impassable. As I had noticed an old trail that crossed just above the falls, I shouted to the rear guard to follow me, and started for the upper crossing, which I reached some little distance in advance. Spurring my mule I dashed through the stream. As she scrambled up the green sod of the slippery shore I was just opening my mouth for a triumphant whoop, when the sod from the overhanging bank gave way under the hind feet of the mule, and, before she could recover, we slipped backwards into the stream, and were being swept down over the falls. Comprehending the imminent peril, I slipped from my saddle with the coil of my “riata” clasped in hand (fortunately I had acquired the habit of leaving the rope upon the mule’s neck), and, by an effort, I was able to reach the shore with barely length of rope enough to take one turn around a sappling and then one or two turns around the rope, and by this means I was able to arrest the mule in her progress, with her hind legs projecting over the falls, where she remained, her head held out of the water by the rope. I held her in this position until my comrades came up and relieved me, and the mule from her most pitiable position. This was done by attaching another rope, by means of which it was drawn up the stream to the shore, where she soon recovered her feet and was again ready for service. Not so my medicines and surgical instruments, which were attached to the saddle.

While Captain Boling was closing up his scattered command, I took the opportunity to examine my damaged stores and wring out my blankets. Being thus engaged, and out of sight of the main column, they moved on without us. I hastily dried my instruments, and seeing that my rifle had also suffered, I hastily discharged and reloaded it. We passed over the stream below the falls, and were galloping to overtake the command, when I discovered a detachment with Captain Boling at the head, riding rapidly up the trail toward us. As we met, the Captain returned my salutation with “Hallo, Doc., what the devil is the matter?” I explained the cause of our delay and the reason for the discharge of my rifle, when the Captain said: “We heard the report of your rifle, and I thought you were about to have a quilting party of your own, for I knew you would not waste lead foolishly, so came back to have a hand in the game.” I apologized for firing without orders and for causing anxiety; but said, that to be frank, I had thought that my rifle being so wet, would only “squib.” He good humoredly replied, “I am glad I found nothing worse, for you have had a narrow escape, and I think we had now better keep closed up.”

We soon overtook the command which was following the main trail to the upper San Joaquin. Crossing the affluent tributaries of the North Fork, we finally reached a branch now known as the Little San Joaquin. Here we again camped for the third time since leaving head-quarters. Lieutenant Chandler and a few of our most experienced scouts were detailed and sent out on duty. Captain Boling with a small guard accompanied Chandler for some distance out on the trail, and after exploring the vicinity of the camp and taking a look at “Battle Mountain” to the westward of us, returned without having discovered any fresher signs than had been seen by the scouts. That night the camp-guard was strengthened and relieved every hour, that there might be no relaxation of vigilance. A little before daybreak, Lieutenant Chandler and his scouts came in, and reported that they had discovered a number of camp fires, and a big pow-wow, on the main San Joaquin river. Satisfied that Indians were there assembled in force, and that they were probably holding a war-dance, they returned at once to report their discovery.

The camp was quietly aroused, and after a hasty breakfast in the early dawn, we mounted. Before giving the order to march, Captain Boling thought it advisable to give us a few words of caution and general orders in case we should suddenly meet the enemy and engage in battle. Thinking it would be more impressive if delivered in a formal manner, he commenced: “Fellow citizens!” (a pause,) “fellow soldiers!” (a longer pause,) “comrades,” tremulously; but instantly recovering himself, promptly said: “In conclusion, all I have to say, boys, is, that I hope I shall fight better than I speak.” The Captain joined with his “fellow citizens” in the roar of laughter, amidst which he gave the order “march,” and we started for the San Joaquin at a brisk trot.

No better or braver man rode with our battalion. His popularity was an appreciation of his true merit. On this occasion he was conscious of the responsibility of his position, and, for a moment his modesty overcame him. Although his speech lacked the ready flow of language, it eloquently expressed to his men the feelings of their Captain, and we comprehended what he designed to say.* [*In some way unaccountable to me, this speech appears in my article in Hutching’s work, as if delivered before the fight at “Battle Mountain."] A short ride brought us in sight of the main river. As we drew near to it a party of about one hundred Indians were discovered drawn up as if to give us battle, but we soon found their line had been established on the opposite side of the stream! while the swelling torrent between us seemed impassable. Our scouts discovered a bark rope stretched across the river, just above the mouth of the South Fork, which had been quite recently used. Their scouts had undoubtedly discovered our rapid approach, and in their haste to report the fact, had neglected to remove this rope, by means of which, the crossing was made. The Indians of Northern climes are equally expert in crossing streams. In winter, they sprinkle sand upon the smooth ice, in order to cross their unshod ponies. The discovery of the rope being reported to Captain Boling, he proposed to utilize it by establishing a temporary ferry of logs. On examination, the rope was found to be too slender to be of practical use, but was employed to convey across a stronger one, made from our picket ropes or “riatas,” tied together and twisted.

Two of our best swimmers crossed the river above the narrows, and pulled our rope across by means of the bark one. To protect the men on the opposite side, Captain Middleton, Joel H. Brooks, John Kenzie and a few other expert riflemen, stood guard over them. A float was made of dry logs while the rope was being placed in position, and this was attached to the one across the stream by means of a rude pulley made from the crotch of a convenient sapling. By this rude contrivance, we crossed to and fro without accident. The horses and baggage were left on the right bank in charge of a small but select camp guard. As we commenced the ascent of the steep aclivity to the table above, where we had seen the Indians apparently awaiting our approach, great care was taken to keep open order. We momentarily expected to receive the fire of the enemy. The hill-side was densely covered with brush, and we cautiously threaded our march up through it, until we emerged into the open ground at the crest of the hill. Here, not an Indian was in sight to welcome or threaten our arrival. They had probably fled as soon as they witnessed our crossing. Captain Boling felt disappointed; but immediately sent out an advance skirmish line, while we moved in closer order upon the village in sight, which we afterwards found to be that of Jose Rey. Arrived there, we found it forsaken. This village was beautifully situated upon an elevated table lying between the South Fork and the main river. It overlooked the country on all sides except the rear, which could have only been approached through the rugged can˜ons of the forks. It would therefore have been impossible for us to surprise it. We found that the Indians had left nothing of value but the stores of acorns near by. Captain Boling’s countenance expressed his feelings, with regard to our lack of success. He ordered the lodges to be destroyed with all the supplies that could be discovered.

While entering the village, we had observed upon a little knoll, the remnant of what had been a large fire; a bed of live coals and burning brands of manzanita-wood still remained. The ground about it indicated that there had been a large gathering for a burial-dance and feast, and for other rites due the departed; and therefore, I surmised that there had been a funeral ceremony to honor the remains of some distinguished member of the tribe. I had the curiosity to examine the heap and found that I was correct. On raking open the ashes of the funeral-pyre, the calcined bones were exposed, along with trinkets and articles of various kinds, such as arrow-heads of different shapes and sizes, for the chase and for warfare; a knife-blade, a metal looking-glass frame, beads and other articles melted into a mass. From these indications—having a knowledge of Indian customs—I inferred that the deceased was probably a person of wealth and distinction in Indian society. Calling Sandino to the spot, I pointed out to him my discoveries. Devoutly crossing himself, he looked at the mass I had raked from the ashes, and exclaimed: “Jose Rey, ah! he is dead!” I asked how he knew that it was the body of Jose Rey that had been burned. He said: (picking up the knife-blade) “This was the knife of Jose Rey.” He then told me “that a chief’s property was known to all of his people and to many other tribes. That many had been here to take part in the funeral ceremonies, and only a great chief would have so many come to do honor to his remains; besides we have known for a long time that he would die.” I reported this statement to Captain Boling, who thought it was correct. It was afterwards confirmed by some of the followers of the dead chief.

Sandino was or had been a Mission Indian, and prided himself on being a good Catholic. I asked him why the Indians burnt the bodies of their dead. He replied after devoutly crossing himself, for no Indian will willingly speak of their dead. “The Gentiles (meaning the wild Indians) burn the bodies to liberate the spirit from it.” After again crossing himself, “We being Christians by the favor of God, are not compelled to do this duty to our dead. They enter into the spirit-world through the virtue of the blood of Christ;” then with his face gleaming with religious fervor, he said, “Oh! is not this a great blessing—no labor, no pain, and where all have plenty.” On a more intimate acquaintance with Sandino, I found that he had an implicit belief in all the superstitions of his race, but that the saving grace of the blood of Christ was simply superior to their charms and incantations.

My experience among other Indians, particularly the Sioux, Chippewa, and other tribes that have long had missionaries among them, leads me to the conclusion that Sandino’s views of Christianity will not be found to differ materially from those of many others converted. I afterwards had a much more satisfactory conversation with “Russio,” who verified Sandino’s statement concerning their belief, and object in burning their dead. This Chief also gave me in detail some of their traditions and mythologies, which I shall reserve for future description.

Our scouts reported that the fresh trails followed by them led to the main trail up the can˜on of the river. Everything having been set on fire that would burn, we followed in pursuit toward the “High Sierras.” Before starting the scouts that had gone up the South Fork can˜on were called in, and we lightened our haversacks by taking a hasty but hearty lunch. We followed the trail continuously up, passed a rocky, precipitous point, that had terminated in a ridge at the rear of the village, and pursuing it rapidly for several miles, we suddenly found that the traces we had been following disappeared. We came to a halt, and retracing our steps, soon found that they had left the trail at some bare rocks, but it was impossible to trace them farther in any direction. Sandino expressed the opinion that the Indians had crossed the river; and pointing across the foaming rapids said: “They have gone there!” He was denounced by the scouts for this assertion, and they swore that “an otter would drown if he attempted to swim in such a place.” Captain Boling asked: “Is he a coward afraid of an ambush, or is he trying to shield his people by discouraging our advance?” After Spencer and myself had talked with him a few moments, we both expressed our faith in his loyalty, and told the Captain that we thought he was sincere in the opinion expressed, that the Indians had crossed to the other side. I stated that I did not think it impossible for them to do so, as they were all most excellent swimmers. That I had seen the Yumas of the Colorado river dive, time after time, and bring up fish caught with their bare hands, and perform other seemingly impossible feats. I would not, therefore, denounce Sandino without some proof of treachery. Captain Boling was not convinced, however, by my statements. It was decided that the Chow-chil-las had not crossed the river, and that we should probably find their trail further on.

With scouts in advance, we resumed our march up the can˜on. The trail was rough, and, in places, quite precipitous; but we followed on until reaching a point in the canon where we should expect to find “signs,” for there was no choice of routes, but this only trail up the can˜on had not been used by any one; and the advance were found awaiting the Captain’s arrival at the gorge. The Captain was puzzled, and ordered a halt. A council was held, about as satisfactory as the other had been, but all agreed in the conclusion that the Indians had beaten us in wood craft, and had artfully thrown us from their trail; though their signal fires were still to be seen at intervals on the high rocky points of the river. This was a common mode of communication among them. By a peculiar arrangement of these fires during the night, and by the smoke from them during the day, they are able to telegraph a system of secret correspondence to those on the look out. An arrow, shot into the body of a tree at a camp ground, or along a trail; or the conspicuous arrangement of a bent bush or twig, often shows the direction to be traveled. A bunch of grass, tied to a stick and left at the fork of a stream or trail, or at a deserted camp, performed the same service. Upon the treeless deserts or plains, a mark upon the ground, by camp or trail, gave the required information; thus proving that these people possess considerable intelligent forethought.

After looking at the signal fires for some time, Captain Boling said: “Gentlemen, there is one thing I can beat these fellows at, and that is in building fires. We will go back to the crossing, and from there commence a new campaign. We will build fires all over the mountains, so that these Indians will no longer recognize their own signals. We will make ours large enough to burn all the acorns and other provender we can find. In a word, we are forced into a mode of warfare unsuited to my taste or manhood, but this campaign has convinced me of the utter folly of attempting to subdue them unless we destroy their supplies of all kinds. Gentlemen, you can take my word for it, they do not intend to fight us, or they would have tried to stop us at the crossing, where they had every advantage.”

There is no point in the mountains more easy to defend than their village. It was located most admirably. If they had the fight in them, that was claimed by Major Savage and the Indians at head-quarters, we could never have crossed the river or approached their village. Their courage must have died with Jose Rey. His courage must have been supposed to be that of the tribe. They have become demoralized, being left without the energy of the chief. Their warlike nature is a humbug. Talk about these Indians defeating and driving back the Spanish Californians, after raiding their ranches, as has been told! If they did, they must have driven back bigger cowards than themselves, who have run away without even leaving a trail by which they can be followed. I don’t believe it.” The Captain delivered this serio-comic discourse while seated on a rock, with most inimitable drollery; and at my suggestion that they might perhaps yet show themselves, he replied rather impatiently: “Nonsense, they will not exhibit themselves to-day!” and with this convincing remark, he ordered our return.

As we filed away from the narrow gorge, those left in rear reported “Indians!” Instinctively turning, we discovered on the opposite side of the river, a half dozen or more, not encumbered with any kind of garment. A halt was called, and Chandler and a number of others instantly raised their rifles for a shot. They were within range, for the can˜on was here quite narrow, but the Captain promptly said: “No firing men! I am anxious for success, but would rather go back without a captive, than have one of those Indians killed, unless,” he added after a moment’s pause, “they are fools enough to shoot at us.” Just at the conclusion of this order, and as if in burlesque applause of the sentiment expressed by the Captain, the savages commenced slapping their naked swarthy bodies in a derisive manner.

The laugh of our men was parried by the Captain, and although annoyed by this unexpected demonstration, he laughingly remarked that he had never before been so peculiarly applauded for anything he had ever said. The absurdity of the scene restored us all to a better humor. Again the order was given to march, and we resumed our course down the can˜on, with the renewed demonstrations of the Indians. The orders of the Captain alone prevented a return salute, which would have promptly checked their offensive demonstrations.

At the precipice, which we had so guardedly passed on our way up the can˜on, we came near losing our Captain. In passing this locality he made a mis-step, and slipped towards the yawning abyss at the foot of the cliff; but for a small pine that had been “moored in the rifted rock,” no earthly power could have saved him from being dashed to the bottom. He fortunately escaped with some severe bruises, a lacerated elbow and a sprained wrist. This accident and our tired and disappointed condition, gave a more serious appearance to our line, and a more sombre tone to our conversations than was usual. We reached camp in a condition, however, to appreciate the supper prepared by our guard.

Previous: Chapter VIIndexNext: Chapter VIII

Home A - Z FAQ Online Library Discussion Forum Muir Weather Maps About Search
Online Library: Title Author California Geology History Indians Muir Mountaineering Nature Management