Camas Prairie in the News 1865

Idaho Tri Weekly Statesman, Boise City, Idaho
15 Jul 1865, pg. 4, col. 2

More Troops Needed

It is useless longer to ignore the fact that there must be some good fighting done on an extensive scale or the whole country, from the Owyhee river to California and Nevada, must be abandoned to the Indians, and all communication over the routes to those States entirely suspended. There is no room to doubt but the Indians over an extent of country for more than three hundred miles square are thoroughly hostile as any that ever went into a fight; that they are sufficiently numerous to hold that whole country unless a much larger force is sent against them. It may be useless to call upon the General commanding the Department of the Pacific for more troops, although we are satisfied that he is disposed to render us all the assistance that in his judgment he thinks we require, or it is in his power to give. But it may be that he is not thoroughly informed as to what is really required.

The condition of affairs is a surprise to most of us, and it may be so to him. It is, however, becoming every day more apparent that it will take bloody and thorough work to reduce those Indians to good behavior. We have repeatedly called attention to the fact the more men were needed, but the events of this summer show that our estimate of the strength of the Indians and the force required to overcome them was much too small. We know from the best information that Col. Maury, commanding the District of Oregon, has done all in his power to place sufficient troops in Idaho to protect its frontier settlements and its important thoroughfares. The commanding officer of the Sub-District of Idaho, and all the officers, are entitled to the warmest thanks of the people for their efforts. They and the gallant men of their commands have done and are doing all that men can do for the protection of the frontier.

But there are not men enough. More cavalry are needed. It is all nonsense to think of one hundred cavalry being sufficient to successfully tame five hundred well mounted and well armed warriors. Fort Boise should at once be garrisoned by at least six companies of cavalry, and three companies of infantry. From here troops can be moved in a very short time and kept in such places as required for the protection of the country. Of the troops now comprising the garrison at this fort there are four expeditions for the protection of roads and settlements. One at Camas Prairie and on the immigrant route to Fort Hall, Corporal E. Palmer, 1st Oregon Infantry, commanding; and one on the Overland State route beyond Salmon Falls, Lieut. Curry 1st Oregon Cavalry, commanding; one on Burut River, Captain Borland, 1st Oregon Infantry, commanding; and the troops at Camp Lyon, and for protection of the roads from Owyhee to Paradise Valley and Surprise Valley in command of Lieut. Hobart, 1st Oregon Cavalry.

The troops are well distributed in charge of good officers, and will do all that any equal number of men can do, but there is not enough of them. Two hundred and fifty men cannot do the work of eight hundred. These men as they are distributed can perhaps afford tolerable protection to each place, except in the direction of California and Nevada, but they can do nothing more. They can move after any small band and drive them off, but after a little fight they are not strong enough to pursue and punish them, and in the direction of Surprise and Puebla they are insufficient even for defense.

Now what we want is more cavalry. Not for protection, but for chastisement of the Indians. We have had protection enough. It is now time that protection were made superfluous by at once removing the necessity for protection. We must either whip those Indians into peaceful behavior or kill them off. Every industrial interest in the Territory is suffering from the obstruction to travel. Two important stage lines and a most valuable express line, are now idle in consequence of the insecurity of life and property on them.

It is true that a few men do pass through the country, and a few loads or trains of freight are brought over, but that is nothing compared to what would be those thoroughfares if they could be traveled in safety. But it is not Idaho alone that suffers. There is a large country lying between Ruby City and the settlements in Nevada and California. It is near four hundred miles in extent, and abounds in rich mines both placer and quartz, and good valleys for cultivation. Immigration has been for two years trying to settle it, and now that the government has an abundance of troops and to spare, no time should be lost till the country is rid of every hostile red skin.

Idaho Tri Weekly Statesman, Boise City Idaho
29 Aug 1865, pg. 4, col. 3

Resources of Alturas County From an Occasional Correspondent

Editor Statesman: A stranger traveling around Idaho can find more variety of climate and soil than he is prepared for; at least such was the case with myself in leaving Boise City, some ten days since, and traveling to Big Camas, Volcano, and other districts in this vicinity. The stage road from your place here is exactly one hundred miles in length, following the old emigrant road for sixty-five miles to Little Camas prairie, over some of the roughest hills a stage ever traveled.

Leaving the stage at Little Camas, which is a beautiful valley with some thousand or more acres of good prairie, we started for big Camas, by way of Volcano, distance about twelve miles. Only an easy divide separates Little Camas from the great inland basin, formed by the waters of the Malade which runs easterly, forming, I am told, for sixty miles, a rich and fertile prairie, capable of sustaining many thousands of population, and of producing all the grain and other products needed for the mining regions of Idaho.

Our ride to Volcano was over a rolling country easily traversed, with the Boise Mountains visible towards the North, and the Volcano range between us and Snake river.

There can scarcely be any better stock range found than all this section. Volcano is the name given to the residence of Mr. I.D. Huntoon, at the foot of the hills where the ledges are found, from which we could see the prairie, about five miles distant and look across the country towards the North where the emigrant road passes, now considerably traveled.

During a week, agreeably spent in riding over the country in every direction, I was impressed with the advantages this whole region offers for future settlement and cultivation, especially if the quartz ledges found at Volcano should prove, when worked, as valuable as they promise to be. Not only in the prairie, but in many places along the foot hills, excellent land is to be found. Water gushes out from every gulch and hill side, and springs abound in the prairie, warm as well as cold.

Several companies are cutting hay in the valley in different places. Mowing machines are at work to secure a good supply for South Boise to stock the coming winter; and such excellent natural meadow stretching for miles is very seldom seen. I was told at Little Camas prairie that five heavy frosts had visited that place during the last two weeks, while at Big Camas quite as high, there had been no frost all summer.

During the week I was there, the nights were too warm for comfortable sleeping. I am satisfied that this agricultural county will, in time, be much cultivated and that its fields will raise large crops of wheat and vegetables to supply the mines. It affords grazing in unlimited amount outside of the valley which can always be depended on to yield a winter's supply of hay.

The low lands of the prairie abound in Camas in immense quantities, and hogs could be raised to the very best advantage. There is no better country on the Pacific for fattening pork than this; where camas is so abundant to keep hogs in good order, and wheat can be so easily raised to fatten them. I saw hogs at a hay ranch in the valley that were quite fat from a plentiful supply of crickets and a free use of abundant camas.

The quartz ledges of Volcano are numerous and of large size. They are found upon the hills near the valley are easy of access, convenient to water, in a country where grain is abundant and gardens and fields can be planted near at hand to supply all demands that can arise. The only lack is due to the scarcity of timber, for these hills are smooth grass mounds on which the ledges plainly outcrop,with little timber near, though a considerable supply can be furnished from gulches not over five miles distant, and any needed amount can be had from across the valley towards Boise river, where the mountains abound in pine and fir.

Enough timber to satisfy all coming demands can be had there and an excellent road can be found upon, mostly level ground. These ledges all present a great appearance of mineral. Many show traces of copper and galena, also iron, but assays show silver and gold existing in paying quantities, and the mineral is distributed throughout the ledges. I have never in my life seen such large and well defined ledges as exist in Volcano. Scarce a ledge there appears to be less than three feet wide, while many of them are much wider. Many ledges crop out like a high wall, showing presence of mineral in every part. As yet but little work has been done to develop the ledges permanently and thoroughly, which is to be regretted as they promise to well repay development.

Last year a great deal of attention was attracted to Volcano. Many persons located ground and worked assessments, but the present season has seen little work accomplished. A mill is expected to be erected in this district which is now on the way across the plains. When this is in operation something more definite will be learned concerning the mineral resources of the district and unless appearances are deceitful, it is bound to rank among the best of the mines of Idaho. The abundance of timber in the immediate vicinity of this mining region is almost if not quite, compensated for by other facilities it possesses. It is easily approached from the direction of Fort Hall, has good water power, is surrounded by an excellent agricultural county which has no equal in extent and fertility in the Territory.

A military post is established on the prairie under Command of Captain Palmer of the Oregon Infantry. The Indians have not been troublesome at all this summer and I understand that a number of them have been disarmed lately, when appearing near the post. The great fault in the military department consists of placing a mere handful of troops here and there, along the emigrant road, instead of establishing permanent posts as needed and showing something of the power of the government and awing the savages by the presence of force enough to command their respect.

From Volcano here is over a pleasant road most of the way. One does not appreciate the rough character of the South Boise mountains until the last two or three miles, when it becomes suddenly manifest. I much doubt if Volcano, and Camas prairie, are not more elevated in situation than Rocky Bar, though the climate there is much warmer and pleasanter.

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