Echoes of Oregon History Learning Guide
Letter About Oregon Mounted Volunteers, 1856
Transcript of original document:
HeadQuarters Northern District.
Department of the Pacific.
Camp at Fort Dalles O. T. Ap1 27, 1856.
I have the honor to inclose herewith, a copy of a communication this day received from Mr R. R. Thompson, Indian Agent at this place.
As I march into the Yakima country to-morrow morning, with all my disposable froce, I am much embarassed by these wanton attacks of the Oregon Volunteers, on the friendly Indians. Were I to accede to the request of the Agent, to furnish a force to protect these Indians, during the fishing season, it would diminish my force, to such an extent, as to render nugatory my campaign in the Yakima country. Under these circumstances, and presuming that you still retain authority over the Oregon Territorial jurisdiction, I have to request that they may be withdrawn from the country on the north side of the Columbia river.
I have the honor to be,
Your most Obt Servt,
Col. 9 Inft
Peaceful Indians were often attacked by settlers and the militia during Oregon's Indian wars. This was true during the Yakima War, which was fought in the newly created Washington Territory. Troops from the U.S. Army had to protect both settlers and friendly Indians. This letter, from the colonel commanding the Northern District of the Department of the Pacific to Governor Curry of Oregon Territory, complains about the attacks made by the Oregon Volunteers on friendly Indians. The agent in charge of the friendly Indians has requested troops to protect the Indians from the Oregon Volunteers. The Colonel points out that he cannot both fight the Yakimas and protect friendly Indians, and he requests that the Oregon Volunteers be withdrawn from Washington.
For Further Discussion
1. Why does Colonel Wright want the Oregon Volunteers to be withdrawn from Washington Territory
2. Why would Oregon Volunteers attack friendly Indians?
3. How do you think Colonel Wright's request would be viewed by Governor Curry? by the Oregon Volunteers? by the friendly Indians?