War of the Rebellion: Serial 106 Page 0934 Chapter LXII. OPERATIONS ON THE PACIFIC COAST.

Search Civil War Official Records

command to form the subject of a special communication, yet, knowing the interest which will be felt by the general commanding the district and his desire to be in receipt of frequent advices, whether of great moment or otherwise, I have deemed it proper to address this communication, however unimportant it may appear, giving a brief statement of events which have transpired, of rumors circulated, and such other information as has come to my knowledge. Nothing official has been received from any of the expeditions since the date of Colonel Maury's departure, and the only information received from his command, as brought by a citizen, wat to the effect that on the 22nd ultimo he was about sixty miles from Ruby City, making his way up the Owyhee, where reports (from the same source) indicate that he will come up with the main body of the Indians, and it is generally believed that they will offer battle, as they are reported to be in strength and favorably posted. You have doubtless learned are this that a party of citizens from Boonville, Rudy City, &c., have had another engagement with the savages, in which 2 of the citizens and 35 or 40 of the Indians were killed. A private letter received by me from a party at Boonville states that there were but two warriors among the slain, the remainder being women and children. All accounts agree as to the number killed, but do not exactly concur in determining the age or sex. From all I can learn from other sources, and taking into consideration the chorographical descriptions of the country and the well-known tactics of the Indians in the matter of scattering their forces and occupying the most inaccessible positions from which they can inflict damage upon an attacking force with comparatively little danger or loss to themselves, induces the unwelcome belief that much diffuculty will be encountered in the attempt to inflict the proper chastisement upon them. To a person who is not familiar with the face of the country to be traversed by troops in the region which is now the theater of all the Indian troubles it is quite impossible to form an adequate conception of the almost incredible difficulties and obstacles which are to be overcome. It is said to be, and I believe generally acknowledged, by those who are competent to judge from actual observation that the region of country indicated is, in the nature of its peculiar formation, as difficult of penetration (excepting along the few Indian trails which traverse the country) as any country in the would. Canons and fissures and yawning abysses of unknown depths and perpendicular walls frequently put an abrupt termination to a march when least expected, involving the necessity of making wide detours and perhaps protracting an already extended journey, with sometimes the desired haven close in view, but unapproachable. Abrupt and precipitous ranges of rough and broken hills and mountains form another feature of this wild and inhospitable region, and present impediments at times which are absolutely insurmountable. Extensive and arid sage plains, destitute of water and other vegetation than the inevitable sage bush, are quite common, and as much to be dreaded and avoided as any other of the obstacles named. Then, again, the scarcity of water, wood, and grass, except in certain localities, the impracticability of trails for transportation of supplies, and the consequent necessity for following the main traveled trails, together with the almost total absence of anything like a correct geographical knowledge of the contry, almost entirely precludty of penetrating into the region occupied by the Indians, and where they invariably take refuge upon the first symptoms of alarm, and when closely pursued and overtaken it is quite certain to be in a position inaccessible to anything save footmen, and in favorite and