My devout astonishment at the supreme grandeur of the scenery by which
I was surrounded, continued to engross my mind. The warmth of the fires
and preparations for supper, however, awakened in me other sensations,
which rapidly dissipated my excitement. As we rode up, Major Savage
remarked to Capt. Boling, “We had better move on up, and hunt out the
“Grizzlies” before we go into camp for the night. We shall yet have
considerable time to look about this hole before dark.” Captain Boling
then reported that the young guide had halted here, and poured out a
volley of Indian lingo which no one could understand, and had given a
negative shake of his head when the course was pointed out, and signs
were made for him to move on. The Captain, not comprehending this
performance, had followed the trail of the Indians to the bank of the
stream near by, but had not ventured further, thinking it best to wait
for Major Savage to come up. After a few inquiries, the Major said
there was a ford below, where the Indians crossed the Merced; and that
he would go with the guide and examine it. Major Savage and Captains
Boling and Dill then started down to the crossing. They soon returned,
and we were ordered to arrange our camp for the night. Captain Boling
said the Merced was too high to ford. The river had swollen during the
day from the melting of the snow, but would fall again by morning.

The guide had told the Major there was no other way up the valley, as
it was impossible to pass the rocks on the south side of the stream.
From this, it was evident the Major had never before seen the valley,
and upon inquiry, said so. One of our best men, Tunnehill, who had been
listening to what the Captain was saying, very positively remarked: “I
have long since learned to discredit everything told by an Indian. I
never knew one to tell the truth. This imp of Satan has been lying to
the Major, and to me his object is very transparent. He knows a better
ford than the one below us.” A comrade laughingly observed: “Perhaps
you can find it for the Major, and help him give us an evening ride; I
have had all the exercise I need to-day, and feel as hungry as a wolf.”
Without a reply, Tunnehill mounted his little black mule and left at a
gallop. He returned in a short time, at the same rapid gate, but was
in a sorry plight. The mule and rider had unexpectedly taken a plunge
bath in the ice-cold waters of the Merced. As such mishaps excited but
little sympathy, Tunnehill was greeted with: “Hallo! what’s the matter,
comrade?” “Where do you get your washing done?” “Been trying to cool
off that frisky animal, have you?” “Old Ten-ie-ya’s Cañon is not in as
hot a place as we supposed, is it?” “How about the reliability of the
Indian race?” To all these bantering jokes, though in an uncomfortable
plight, Tunnehill, with great good nature, replied: “I am all right!
I believe in orthodox immersion, but this kind of baptism has only
_confirmed_ me in previous convictions.” The shivering mule was rubbed,
blanketed, and provided for, before his master attended to his own
comfort, and then we learned that, in his attempt to explore a way
across the Merced, his mule was swept off its feet, and both were
carried for some distance down the raging torrent.

[Illustration: BRIDAL VEIL FALL.

(630 feet in height.)]

After supper, guards stationed, and the camp fires plentifully provided
for, we gathered around the burning logs of oak and pine, found near
our camp. The hearty supper and cheerful blaze created a general good
feeling. Social converse and anecdotes–mingled with jokes–were
freely exchanged, as we enjoyed the solace of our pipes and warmed
ourselves preparatory to seeking further refreshment in sleep. While
thus engaged, I retained a full consciousness of our locality; for
being in close proximity to the huge cliff that had so attracted my
attention, my mind was frequently drawn away from my comrades. After
the jollity of the camp had somewhat subsided, the valley became the
topic of conversation around our camp fire. None of us at that time,
surmised the extreme vastness of those cliffs; although before dark,
we had seen El Capitan looking down upon our camp, while the “Bridal
Veil” was being wafted in the breeze. Many of us _felt_ the mysterious
grandeur of the scenery, as defined by our limited opportunity to study
it. I had–previous to my descent with the Major–observed the towering
height above us of the old “Rock Chief,” and noticing the length of the
steep descent into the valley, had at least some idea of its solemn

It may appear _sentimental_, but the coarse jokes of the careless,
and the indifference of the practical, sensibly jarred my more devout
feelings, while this subject was a matter of general conversation; as
if a sacred subject had been ruthlessly profaned, or the visible power
of Deity disregarded. After relating my observations from the “Old Bear
Valley Trail,” I suggested that this valley should have an appropriate
name by which to designate it, and in a tone of pleasantry, said to
Tunnehill, who was drying his wet clothing by our fire, “You are the
first white man that ever received any form of baptism in this valley,
and you should be considered the proper person to give a baptismal name
to the valley itself.” He replied, “If whisky can be provided for such
a ceremony, I shall be happy to participate; but if it is to be another
cold water affair, I have no desire to take a hand. I have done enough
in that line for to-night.” Timely jokes and ready repartee for a time
changed the subject, but in the lull of this exciting pastime, some one
remarked, “I like Bunnell’s suggestion of giving this valley a name,
and to-night is a good time to do it.” “All right–if you have got one,
show your hand,” was the response of another. Different names were
proposed, but none were satisfactory to a majority of our circle. Some
romantic and foreign names were offered, but I observed that a very
large number were canonical and Scripture names. From this I inferred
that I was not the only one in whom religious emotions or thoughts had
been aroused by the mysterious power of the surrounding scenery.

As I did not take a fancy to any of the names proposed, I remarked
that “an American name would be the most appropriate;” that “I could
not see any necessity for going to a foreign country for a name for
American scenery–the grandest that had ever yet been looked upon. That
it would be better to give it an Indian name than to import a strange
and inexpressive one; that the name of the tribe who had occupied it,
would be more appropriate than any I had heard suggested.” I then
proposed “that we give the valley the name of Yo-sem-i-ty, as it was
suggestive, euphonious, and certainly _American_; that by so doing,
the name of the tribe of Indians which we met leaving their homes in
this valley, perhaps never to return, would be perpetuated.” I was
here interrupted “Devil take the Indians and their names! Why should
we honor these vagabond murderers by perpetuating their name?” Another
said: “I agree with Tunnehill;—-the Indians and their names. Mad
Anthony’s plan for me! Let’s call this Paradise Valley.” In reply, I
said to the last speaker, “Still, for a young man with such _religious
tendencies_ they would be good objects on which to develop your
Christianity.” Unexpectedly, a hearty laugh was raised, which broke up
further discussion, and before opportunity was given for any others to
object to the name, John O’Neal, a rollicking Texan of Capt. Boling’s
company, vociferously announced to the whole camp the subject of our
discussion, by saying, “Hear ye! Hear ye! Hear ye! A vote will now be
taken to decide what name shall be given to this valley.” The question
of giving it the name of Yo-sem-i-ty was then explained; and upon
a _viva voce_ vote being taken, it was almost unanimously adopted.
The name that was there and thus adopted by us, while seated around
our camp fires, on the first visit of a white man to this remarkable
locality, is the name by which it is now known to the world.

At the time I proposed this name, the signification of it (a grizzly
bear) was not generally known to our battalion, although “the
grizzlies” was frequently used to designate this tribe. Neither was it
pronounced with uniformity. For a correct pronunciation, Major Savage
was our best authority. He could speak the dialects of most of the
mountain tribes in this part of California, but he confessed that he
could not readily understand Ten-ie-ya, or the Indian guide, as they
appeared to speak a Pai-ute jargon.

Major Savage checked the noisy demonstrations of our “Master of
Ceremonies,” but approvingly participated in our proceedings, and
told us that the name was Yo-sem-i-ty, as pronounced by Ten-ie-ya, or
O-soom-i-ty, as pronounced by some other bands; and that it signified a
full-grown grizzly bear. He further stated, that the name was given to
old Ten-ie-ya’s band, because of their lawless and predatory character.

As I had observed that the different tribes in Mariposa County differed
somewhat in the pronunciation of this name, I asked an explanation of
the fact. With a smile and a look, as if he suspected I was quizzing
him, the Major replied: “They only differ, as do the Swedes, Danes and
Norwegians, or as in the different Shires of England; but you know
well enough how similar in sound words may be of entirely different
meaning, and how much depends on accent. I have found this to be the
greatest difficulty a learner has to contend with.”

After the name had been decided upon, the Major narrated some of his
experiences in the use of the general “sign language”–as a Rocky
Mountain man–and his practice of it when he first came among the
California Indians, until he had acquired their language. The Major
regarded the Kah-we-ah, as the parent language of the San-Joaquin
Valley Indians, while that in use by the other mountain tribes in their
vicinity, were but so many dialects of Kah-we-ah, the Pai-ute and more
Northern tribes. When we sought our repose, it was with feelings of
quiet satisfaction that I wrapped myself in my blankets, and soundly

I consider it proper, to digress somewhat from a regular narrative of
the incidents of our expedition, to consider some matters relative to
the name “Yosemity.” This was the form of orthography and pronunciation
originally in use by our battalion. Lieutenant Moore, of the U. S. A.
in his report of an expedition to the Valley in 1852, substituted
_e_ as the terminal letter, in place of _y_, in use by us; no doubt
thinking the use of _e_ more scholarly, or perhaps supposing Yosemite
to be of Spanish derivation. This orthography has been adopted, and is
in general use, but the proper pronunciation, as a consequence, is not
always attainable to the general reader.

Sometime after the name had been adopted, I learned from Major Savage
that Ten-ie-ya repudiated the name for the Valley, but proudly
acknowledged it as the designation of his band, claiming that “when he
was a young chief, this name had been selected because they occupied
the mountains and valleys which were the favorite resort of the Grizzly
Bears, and because his people were expert in killing them. That his
tribe had adopted the name because those who had bestowed it were
afraid of ‘the Grizzlies’ and feared his band.”

It was traditionary with the other Indians, that the band to which the
name Yosemite had been given, had originally been formed and was then
composed of outlaws or refugees from other tribes. That nearly all were
descendants of the neighboring tribes on both sides of “Kay-o-pha,” or
“_Skye Mountains_;” the “High Sierras.”

Ten-ie-ya was asked concerning this tradition, and responded rather
loftily: “I am the descendant of an Ah-wah-ne-chee chief. His people
lived in the mountains and valley where my people have lived. The
valley was then called Ah-wah-nee. Ah-wah-ne-chee signifies the
dwellers in Ahwahnee.”

I afterwards learned the traditional history of Ten-ie-ya’s ancestors.
His statement was to the effect, that the Ah-wah-ne-chees had many
years ago been a large tribe, and lived in territory now claimed by
him and his people. That by wars, and a fatal black-sickness (probably
smallpox or measles), nearly all had been destroyed. The survivors
of the band fled from the valley and joined other tribes. For years
afterward, the country was uninhabited; but few of the extinct tribe
ever visited it, and from a superstitions fear, it was avoided. Some of
his ancestors had gone to the Mono tribe and been adopted by them. His
father had taken a wife from that tribe. His mother was a Mono woman,
and he had lived with her people while young. Eventually, Ten-ie-ya,
with some of his father’s tribe had visited the valley, and claimed it
as their birth-right. He thus became the founder of the new tribe or
band, which has since been called the “Yosemite.”

It is very probable that the statement of Major Savage, as to the
origin of the name as applicable to Ten-ie-ya’s band; was traditional
with his informants, but I give credit to Ten-ie-ya’s own history of
his tribe as most probable.

From my knowledge of Indian customs, I am aware that it is not uncommon
for them to change the names of persons or localities after some
remarkable event in the history of either. It would not, therefore,
appear strange that Ten-ie-ya should have adopted another name for
his band. I was unable to fix upon any definite date at which the
Ah-wah-ne-chees became extinct as a tribe, but from the fact that some
of the Yosemites claimed to be direct descendants, the time could not
have been as long as would be inferred from their descriptions. When
these facts were communicated to Captain Boling, and Ah-wah-ne was
ascertained to be the _classical_ name, the Captain said that name
was all right enough for history or poetry, but that we could not
now change the name Yosemite, nor was it desirable to do so. I made
every effort to ascertain the signification of Ah-wah-ne, but could
never fully satisfy myself, as I received different interpretations
at different times. In endeavoring to ascertain from Ten-ie-ya his
explanation of the name, he, by the motion of his hands, indicated
depth, while trying to illustrate the name, at the same time plucking
grass which he held up before me. From these “_signs_” I inferred that
it must mean the deep grassy valley. Still, it may not mean that.
Sandino was unable to give its true signification, saying by way of
explanation that Ah-wah-ne was a name of the old tribe, that he did
not know how to translate. Major Savage also said that Ten-ie-ya and a
few of the old Indians in his band used words which he did not fully
understand, and which the others could neither use nor explain.

The dialect of the Yosemites was a composite of that of almost every
tribe around them; and even words of Spanish derivation were discovered
in their conversations.

It is not uncommon for the mountain men and traders, to acquire a mixed
jargon of Indian dialects, which they mingle with Spanish, French or
English in their talk to an extent sometimes amusing. The Indians
readily adopt words from this lingo, and learn to Anglicize Indian
names in conversation with “Americans.” This, when done by the Mission
Indians, who perhaps have already made efforts to improve the Indian
name with Mission Spanish, tends to mislead the inquirer after _“pure”
Indian names_.

The Mission Indians after deserting, introduced and applied Spanish
names to objects that already had Indian designations, and in this way,
new words are formed from corrupted Mission Spanish, that may lead to
wrong interpretations. I learned from Russio, the chief interpreter,
that sometimes more than one word was used to express the same object,
and often one word expressed different objects. As an illustration of
corrupted Spanish that passes for Indian, the words Oya (olla) and
Hoya, may be taken. Oya signifies a water pot, and Hoya, a pit hole.
From these words the Mission Indians have formed “Loya,” which is used
to designate camp grounds where holes in the rocks may be found near,
in which to pulverize acorns, grass seeds, &c., as well as to the
“Sentinel Rock,” from its fancied resemblance to a water pot, or long
water _basket_. Another source of difficulty, is that of representing
by written characters the echoing gutteral sounds of some Indian words.
While being aware of this, I can safely assert that Yosemite, is purer
and better Indian than is Mississippi, (“Me-ze-se-be,” the river that
runs every where; that is, “Endless river”) or many other names that
are regarded as good if not _pure Indian_.[9]

Our interpreters were, or had been, Mission Indians, who rendered
the dialects into as good Spanish as they had at command, but rather
than fail in their office, for want of words, they would occasionally
insert one of their own coining. This was done, regardless of the
consequences, and when chided, declared it was for our benefit they had
done so.

Attempts were made to supersede the name we had given the valley, by
substituting some fancied improvements. At first, I supposed these to
be simply changes rung on Yosemite, but soon observed the earnestness
of the sponsors in advocating the new names, in their magazine and
newspaper articles. They claimed to have acquired the _correct name_
from their Indian guides, employed on their visits to the Yosemite.

In 1855 Mr. J. M. Hutchings, of San Francisco, visited the Yosemite,
and published a description of it, and also published a lithograph of
the Yosemite Fall. Through his energetic efforts, the valley was more
fully advertised. He ambitiously gave it the name of Yo-Hamite, and
tenaciously adhered to it for some time; though Yosemite had already

The Rev. Doctor Scott, of San Francisco, in a newspaper
article–disappointing to his admirers–descriptive of his travels and
sojourn there, endeavored to dispossess both Mr. Hutchings and myself
of our names, and _named_ the valley Yo-Amite: probably as a _peace_
offering to us both.

I did not at first consider it good policy to respond to these
articles. I had no desire to engage in a newspaper controversy with
such influences against me; but after solicitations from Mr. Ayers, and
other friends, I gave the facts upon which were based editorials in
the “California Chronicle,” “Sacramento Union,” the Mariposa and other

By invitation of Mr. Hutchings, I had a personal interview with him in
San Francisco, relative to this matter, and at his request furnished
some of the incidents connected with our expedition against the
Indians, as hereinbefore narrated. These he published in his magazine,
and afterwards in his “Scenes of Wonder and Curiosity in California.”

This statement of facts was signed by myself, and certified to by
two members of the State legislature–James M. Roan and George H.
Crenshaw–as follows: “We, the undersigned, having been members of
the same company, and through most of the scenes depicted by Doctor
Bunnell, have no hesitation in saying that the article above is

Mr. Hutchings says: “We cheerfully give place to the above
communication, that the public may learn how and by whom this
remarkable valley was first visited and named; and, although we have
differed with the writer and others concerning the name given, as
explained in several articles that have appeared at different times in
the several newspapers of the day, in which Yo-Hamite was preferred;
yet as Mr. Bunnell was among the first to visit the valley, we most
willingly accord to him the right of giving it whatsoever name he

Mr. Hutchings then goes on to explain how he obtained the name
Yo-Hamite from his Indian guide Kos-sum; that its correctness was
affirmed by John Hunt, previous to the publication of the lithograph
of the great falls, etc., and during this explanation, says: “Up to
this time we have never heard or known any other name than Yosemite;”
and farther on in a manly way says: “Had we before known that Doctor
Bunnell and his party were the first whites who ever entered the valley
(although we have the honor of being _the first in later years to
visit it and call public attention to it_), we should long ago have
submitted to the name Doctor Bunnell had given it, as the discoverer of
the valley.”

After my interview with Mr. Hutchings–for I had never heard the
word Yo-Hamite until it was published by him–I asked John Hunt, the
Indian trader referred to, where he had got the word furnished to Mr.
Hutchings. John, with some embarrassment, said, that “Yo-Hem-i-te was
the way his Indians pronounced the name.” I asked what name? “Why,
Yosemite,” said John. But, I replied, you know that the Indian name
for the valley is Ah-wah-ne! and the name given by us was the name
of Ten-ie-ya’s band? “Of course, (said John,) but my Indians now
apply the word Yo-Hemite to the valley or the territory adjacent,
though their name for a bear is Osoomity.” John Hunt’s squaw was
called, and asked by him the meaning of the word, but confessed her
ignorance. Mr. Cunningham was also consulted, but could give us no
certain information; but surmised that the word had been derived from
“Le-Hamite ‘The Arrowwood.’” Another said possibly from “Hem-nock,” the
Kah-we-ah word for God. As to Yo-Amite, insisted on by Doctor Scott, I
made no effort to find an interpretation of it.

The date of our discovery and entrance into the Yosemite was about
the 21st of March, 1851. We were afterward assured by Ten-ie-ya and
others of his band, that this was the first visit ever made to this
valley by white men. Ten-ie-ya said that a small party of white men
once crossed the mountains on the North side, but were so guided as not
to see it; Appleton’s and the People’s Encyclopedias to the contrary

It was to prevent the recurrence of such an event, that Ten-ie-ya had
consented to go to the commissioner’s camp and make peace, intending to
return to his mountain home as soon as the excitement from the recent
outbreak subsided. The entrance to the Valley had ever been carefully
guarded by the old chief, and the people of his band. As a part of its
traditionary history, it was stated: “That when Ten-ie-ya left the
tribe of his mother and went to live in Ah-wah-ne, he was accompanied
by a very old Ah-wah-ne-chee, who had been the great ‘medicine man’ of
his tribe.”

It was through the influence of this old friend of his father that
Ten-ie-ya was induced to leave the Mono tribe, and with a few of
the descendants from the Ah-wah-nee-chees, who had been living with
the Monos and Pai-Utes, to establish himself in the valley of his
ancestors as their chief. He was joined by the descendants from the
Ah-wah-ne-chees, and by others who had fled from their own tribes to
avoid summary Indian justice. The old “medicine man” was the counselor
of the young chief. Not long before the death of this patriarch, as
if endowed with prophetic wisdom, he assured Ten-ie-ya that while he
retained possession of Ah-wah-ne his band would increase in numbers
and become powerful. That if he befriended those who sought his
protection, no other tribe would come to the valley to make war upon
him, or attempt to drive him from it, and if he obeyed his counsels he
would put a spell upon it that would hold it sacred for him and his
people alone; none other would ever dare to make it their home. He then
cautioned the young chief against the horsemen of the lowlands (the
Spanish residents), and declared that, should they enter Ah-wah-ne, his
tribe would soon be scattered and destroyed, or his people be taken
captive, and he himself be the last chief in Ah-wah-ne.

For this reason, Ten-ie-ya declared, had he so rigidly guarded his
valley home, and all who sought his protection. No one ventured to
enter it, except by his permission; all feared the “witches” there, and
his displeasure. He had “made war upon the white gold diggers to drive
them from the mountains, and prevent their entrance into Ah-wah-ne.”

The Yo-sem-i-tes had been the most warlike of the mountain tribes in
this part of California; and the Ah-wah-ne-chee and Mono members of
it, were of finer build and lighter color than those commonly called
“California Digger Indians.” Even the “Diggers” of the band, from
association and the better food and air afforded in the mountains, had
become superior to their inheritance, and as a tribe, the Yosemites
were feared by other Indians.

The superstitious fear of annihilation had, however, so depressed the
warlike ardor of Ten-ie-ya, who had now become an old man, that he
had decided to make efforts to conciliate the Americans, rather than
further resist their occupancy of the mountains; as thereby, he hoped
to save his valley from intrusion. In spite of Ten-ie-ya’s cunning,
the prophecies of the “old medicine” man have been mostly fulfilled.
White horsemen have entered Ah-wah-ne; the tribe has been scattered and
destroyed. Ten-ie-ya was the last chief of his people. He was killed by
the chief of the Monos, not because of the prophecy; nor yet because of
our entrance into his territory, but in retribution for a crime against
the Mono’s hospitality. But I must not, Indian like, tell the latter
part of my story first.

After an early breakfast on the morning following our entrance into the
Yosemite, we equipped ourselves for duty; and as the word was passed to
“fall in,” we mounted and filed down the trail to the lower ford, ready
to commence our explorations.

The water in the Merced had fallen some during the night, but the
stream was still in appearance a raging torrent. As we were about to
cross, our guide with earnest gesticulations asserted that the water
was too deep to cross, that if we attempted it, we would be swept down
into the cañon. That later, we could cross without difficulty. These
assertions angered the Major, and he told the guide that he lied;
for he knew that later in the day the snow would melt. Turning to
Captain Boling he said: “I am now positive that the Indians are in the
vicinity, and for that reason the guide would deceive us.” Telling the
young Indian to remain near his person, he gave the order to cross at

The ford was found to be rocky; but we passed over it without serious
difficulty, although several repeated their morning ablutions while
stumbling over the boulders.

The open ground on the north side was found free from snow. The trail
led toward “El Capitan,” which had from the first, been the particular
object of my admiration.

At this time no distinctive names were known by which to designate the
cliffs, waterfalls, or any of the especial objects of interest, and
the imaginations of some ran wild in search of _appropriate_ ones.
None had any but a limited idea of the height of this cliff, and but
few appeared conscious of the vastness of the granite wall before us;
although an occasional ejaculation betrayed the feelings which the
imperfect comprehension of the grand and wonderful excited. A few of us
remarked upon the great length of time required to pass it, and by so
doing, probably arrived at more or less correct conclusions regarding
its size.

Soon after we crossed the ford, smoke was seen to issue from a cluster
of manzanita shrubs that commanded a view of the trail. On examination,
the smoking brands indicated that it had been a picket fire, and we
now felt assured that our presence was known and our movements watched
by the vigilant Indians we were hoping to find. Moving rapidly on, we
discovered near the base of El Capitan, quite a large collection of
Indian huts, situated near Pigeon creek. On making a hasty examination
of the village and vicinity, no Indians could be found, but from
the generally undisturbed condition of things usually found in an
Indian camp, it was evident that the occupants had but recently left;
appearances indicated that some of the wigwams or huts had been
occupied during the night. Not far from the camp, upon posts, rocks,
and in trees, was a large _caché_ of acorns and other provisions.




(4,737 feet in height.)]

As the trail showed that it had been used by Indians going up, but a
short halt was made. As we moved on, a smoke was again seen in the
distance, and some of the more eager ones dashed ahead of the column,
but as we reached the ford to which we were led by the main trail
leading to the right, our dashing cavaliers rejoined us and again took
their places. These men reported that “fallen rocks” had prevented
their passage up on the north side, and that our only course was to
cross at the ford and follow the trail, as the low lands appeared too
wet for rapid riding. Recrossing the Merced to the south-side, we found
trails leading both up and down the river. A detachment was sent down
to reconnoitre the open land below, while the main column pursued its
course. The smoke we had seen was soon discovered to be rising from
another encampment nearly south of the “Royal Arches;” and at the forks
of the Ten-ie-ya branch of the Merced, near the south-west base of the
“Half Dome,” still another group of huts was brought to view.


(3,568 feet in height.)]

These discoveries necessitated the recrossing of the river, which
had now again become quite swollen; but by this time our horses and
ourselves had become used to the icy waters, and when at times our
animals lost their footing at the fords, they were not at all alarmed,
but vigorously swam to the shore.

Abundant evidences were again found to indicate that the huts here
had but just been deserted; that they had been occupied that morning.
Although a rigid search was made, no Indians were found. Scouting
parties in charge of Lieutenants Gilbert and Chandler, were sent out
to examine each branch of the valley, but this was soon found to be an
impossible task to accomplish in one day. While exploring among the
rocks that had fallen from the “Royal Arches” at the southwesterly
base of the North Dome, my attention was attracted to a huge rock
stilted upon some smaller ones. Cautiously glancing underneath, I was
for a moment startled by a living object. Involuntarily my rifle was
brought to bear on it, when I discovered the object to be a female; an
extremely old squaw, but with a countenance that could only be likened
to a vivified Egyptian mummy. This creature exhibited no expression of
alarm, and was apparently indifferent to hope or fear, love or hate. I
hailed one of my comrades on his way to camp, to report to Major Savage
that I had discovered a peculiar living ethnological curiosity, and to
bring something for it to eat. She was seated on the ground, hovering
over the remnants of an almost exhausted fire. I replenished her supply
of fuel, and waited for the Major. She neither spoke or exhibited any
curiosity as to my presence.

[Illustration: CATHEDRAL ROCKS

(2,660 feet in height.)]

Major Savage soon came, but could elicit nothing of importance from
her. When asked where her companions were, she understood the dialect
used, for she very curtly replied “You can hunt for them if you want
to see them”! When asked why she was left alone, she replied “I am
too old to climb the rocks”! The Major–forgetting the gallantry
due her sex–inquired “How old are you?” With an ineffably scornful
grunt, and a coquettish leer at the Major, she maintained an indignant
silence. This attempt at a smile, left the Major in doubt as to her
age. Subsequently, when Ten-ie-ya was interrogated as to the age
of this old squaw, he replied that “No one knows her age. That when
he was a boy, it was a favorite _tradition_ of the _old_ members of
his band, that when she was a child, the peaks of the Sierras were
but little hills.” This free interpretation was given by the Major,
while seated around the camp fire at night. If not _reliable_, it was
excessively amusing to the “Boys,” and added to the Major’s popularity.
On a subsequent visit to the Valley, an attempt was made to send the
old creature to the commissioner’s camp; she was placed on a mule and
started. As she could not bear the fatigue, she was left with another
squaw. We learned that she soon after departed “to _the happy land in
the West_.”

The detachment sent down the trail reported the discovery of a small
rancheria, a short distance above the “Cathedral Rocks,” but the huts
were unoccupied. They also reported the continuance of the trail down
the left bank. The other detachments found huts in groups, but no
Indians. At all of these localities the stores of food were abundant.

Their _cachés_ were principally of acorns, although many contained
bay (California laurel), Piñon pine (Digger pine), and chinquepin
nuts, grass seeds, wild rye or oats (scorched), dried worms, scorched
grasshoppers, and what proved to be the dried larvæ of insects, which
I was afterwards told were gathered from the waters of the lakes in
and east of the Sierra Nevada. It was by this time quite clear that
a large number of Ten-ie-ya’s band was hidden in the cliffs or among
the rocky gorges or cañons, not accessible to us from the knowledge
we then had of their trails and passes. We had not the time, nor had
we supplied ourselves sufficiently to hunt them out. It was therefore
decided that the best policy was to destroy their huts and stores, with
a view of starving them out, and of thus compelling then to come in and
join with Ten-ie-ya and the people with him on the reservation. At this
conclusion the destruction of their property was ordered, and at once
commenced. While this work was in progress, I indulged my curiosity
in examining the lodges in which had been left their home property,
domestic, useful and ornamental. As compared with eastern tribes, their
supplies of furniture of all kinds, excepting baskets, were meagre

These baskets were quite numerous, and were of various patterns and
for different uses. The large ones were made either of bark, roots of
the Tamarach or Cedar, Willow or Tule. Those made for gathering and
transporting food supplies, were of large size and round form, with
a sharp apex, into which, when inverted and placed upon the back,
everything centres. This form of basket enables the carriers to keep
their balance while passing over seemingly impassable rocks, and along
the verge of dangerous precipices. Other baskets found served as water
buckets. Others again of various sizes were used as cups and soup
bowls; and still another kind, made of a tough, wiry grass, closely
woven and cemented, was used for kettles for boiling food. The boiling
was effected by hot stones being continually plunged into the liquid
mass, until the desired result was obtained.

The water baskets were also made of “wire-grass;” being porous,
evaporation is facilitated, and like the porous earthen water-jars of
Mexico, and other hot countries, the water put into them is kept cool
by evaporation. There were also found at some of the encampments, robes
or blankets made from rabbit and squirrel skins, and from skins of
water-fowl. There were also ornaments and musical instruments of a rude
character. The instruments were drums and flageolets. The ornaments
were of bone, bears’ claws, birds’ bills and feathers. The thread used
by these Indians, I found was spun or twisted from the inner bark of
a species of the asclepias or milk-weed, by ingeniously suspending a
stone to the fibre, and whirling it with great rapidity. Sinews are
chiefly used for sewing skins, for covering their bows and feathering
their arrows. Their fish spears were but a single tine of bone, with a
cord so attached near the centre, that when the spear, loosely placed
in a socket in the pole, was pulled out by the struggles of the fish,
the tine and cord would hold it as securely as though held by a barbed

There were many things found that only an Indian could possibly use,
and which it would be useless for me to attempt to describe; such,
for instance, as stag-horn hammers, deer prong punches (for making
arrow-heads), obsidian, pumice-stone and salt brought from the eastern
slope of the Sierras and from the desert lakes. In the hurry of their
departure they had left everything. The numerous bones of animals
scattered about the camps, indicated their love of horse-flesh as a

Among these relics could be distinguished the bones of horses and
mules, as well as other animals, eaten by these savages. Deers and
bears were frequently driven into the valley during their seasons
of migration, and were killed by expert hunters perched upon rocks
and in trees that commanded their runways or trails; but their chief
dependence for meat was upon horseflesh.

Among the relics of stolen property were many things recognized by
our “boys,” while applying the torch and giving all to the flames.
A comrade discovered a bridle and part of a riata or rope which was
stolen from him with a mule _while waiting for the commissioners to
inquire into the cause of the war with the Indians_! No animals of any
kind were kept by the Yosemites for any length of time except dogs, and
they are quite often sacrificed to gratify their pride and appetite, in
a dog feast. Their highest estimate of animals is only as an article
of food. Those stolen from the settlers were not kept for their
usefulness, except as additional camp supplies. The acorns found were
alone estimated at from four to six hundred bushels.

During our explorations we were on every side astonished at the
colossal representations of cliffs, rocky cañons and water-falls which
constantly challenged our attention and admiration.

Occasionally some fragment of a garment was found, or other sign of
Indians, but no trail could be discovered by _our_ eyes. Tired and
almost exhausted in the fruitless search for Indians, the footmen
returned to the place at which they had left their horses in the
cañons, and in very thankfulness caressed them with delight.

In subsequent visits, this region was thoroughly explored and names
given to prominent objects and localities.

While searching for hidden stores, I took the opportunity to examine
some of the numerous sweat-houses noticed on the bank of the Merced,
below a large camp near the mouth of the Ten-ie-ya branch. It may
not be out of place to here give a few words in description of these
conveniences of a permanent Indian encampment, and the uses for which
they are considered a necessity.

The remains of these structures are sometimes mistaken for Tumuli.
They were constructed of poles, bark, grass and mud. The frame-work of
poles is first covered with bark, reeds or grass, and then the mud–as
tenacious as the soil will admit of–is spread thickly over it. The
structure is in the form of a dome, resembling a huge round mound.
After being dried by a slight fire, kindled inside, the mud is covered
with earth of a sufficient depth to shed the rain from without, and
prevent the escape of heat from within. A small opening for ingress
and egress is left; this comprises the extent of the house when
complete, and ready for use. These sweat-baths are used as a luxury, as
a curative for disease, and as a convenience for cleansing the skin,
when necessity demands it, although the Indian race is not noted for

As a luxury, no Russian or Turkish bath is more enjoyed by civilized
people, than are these baths by the Mountain Indians. I have seen a
half dozen or more enter one of these rudely constructed sweat-houses,
through the small aperture left for the purpose. Hot stones are taken
in, the aperture is closed until suffocation would seem impending,
when they would crawl out reeking with perspiration, and with a shout,
spring like acrobats into the cold waters of the stream. As a remedial
agent for disease, the same course is pursued, though varied at times
by the burning and inhalation of resinous boughs and herbs.

In the process for cleansing the skin from impurities, hot air alone is
generally used. If an Indian had passed the usual period for mourning
for a relative, and the adhesive pitch too tenaciously clung to his no
longer sorrowful countenance, he would enter, and re-enter the heated
house, until the cleansing had become complete.

The mourning pitch is composed of the charred bones and ashes of their
dead relative or friend. These remains of the funeral pyre, with the
charcoal, are pulverized and mixed with the resin of the pine. This
hideous mixture is usually retained upon the face of the mourner until
it wears off. If it has been well compounded, it may last nearly a
year; although the young–either from a super-abundance of vitality,
excessive reparative powers of the skin, or from powers of will–seldom
mourn so long. When the bare surface exceeds that covered by the pitch,
it is not a scandalous disrespect in the young to remove it entirely;
but a mother will seldom remove pitch or garment until both are nearly
worn out.

In their camps were found articles from the miners’ camps, and from the
unguarded “ranchman.” There was no lack of evidence that the Indians
who had deserted their villages or wigwams, were truly entitled to the
_soubriquet_ of “the Grizzlies,” “the lawless.”

Although we repeatedly discovered fresh trails leading from the
different camps, all traces were soon lost among the rocks at the
base of the cliffs. The debris or talus not only afforded places for
temporary concealment, but provided facilities for escape without
betraying the direction. If by chance a trail was followed for a while,
it would at last be traced to some apparently inaccessible ledge, or to
the foot of some slippery depression in the walls, up which we did not
venture to climb. While scouting up the Ten-ie-ya cañon, above Mirror
Lake, I struck the fresh trail of quite a large number of Indians.
Leaving our horses, a few of us followed up the tracks until they were
lost in the ascent up the cliff. By careful search they were again
found and followed until finally they hopelessly disappeared.

Tiring of our unsuccessful search, the hunt was abandoned, although we
were convinced that the Indians had in some way passed up the cliff.

During this time, and while descending to the valley, I partly realized
the great height of the cliffs and high fall. I had observed the
height we were compelled to climb before the Talus had been overcome,
though from below this appeared insignificant, and after reaching the
summit of our ascent, the cliffs still towered above us. It was by
instituting these comparisons while ascending and descending, that I
was able to form a better judgment of altitude; for while entering the
valley,–although, as before stated, I had observed the towering height
of El Capitan,–my mind had been so preoccupied with the marvelous,
that comparison had scarcely performed its proper function.

The level of the valley proper now appeared quite distant as we looked
down upon it, and objects much less than full size. As night was fast
approaching, and a storm threatened, we returned down the trail and
took our course for the rendezvous selected by Major Savage, in a grove
of oaks near the mouth of “Indian Cañon.”

While on our way down, looking across to and up the south or Glacier
Cañon, I noticed its beautiful fall, and planned an _excursion_ for
the morrow. I almost forgot my fatigue, in admiration of the solemn
grandeur within my view; the lofty walls, the towering domes and
numerous water-falls; their misty spray blending with the clouds
settling down from the higher mountains.

[Illustration: GLACIER FALL.

(550 feet in height.)]

The duties of the day had been severe on men and horses, for beside
fording the Merced several times, the numerous branches pouring over
cliffs and down ravines from the melting snow, rendered the overflow
of the bottom lands so constant that we were often compelled to splash
through the water-courses that later would be dry. These torrents
of cold water, commanded more especial attention, and excited more
_comment_ than did the grandeur of the cliffs and water-falls. We
were not a party of tourists, seeking recreation, nor philosophers
investigating the operations of nature. Our business there was to
find Indians who were endeavoring to escape from our _charitable_
intentions toward them. But very few of the volunteers seemed to have
any appreciation of the wonderful proportions of the enclosing granite
rocks; their curiosity had been to see the stronghold of the enemy, and
the _general_ verdict was that it was gloomy enough.

Tired and wet, the independent scouts sought the camp and reported
their failures. Gilbert and Chandler came in with their detachments
just at dark, from their tiresome explorations of the southern
branches. Only a small squad of their commands climbed above the
Vernal and Nevada falls; and seeing the clouds resting upon the
mountains above the Nevada Fall, they retraced their steps through
the showering mist of the Vernal, and joined their comrades, who had
already started down its rocky gorge. These men found no Indians, but
they were the first discoverers of the Vernal and Nevada Falls, and the
Little Yosemite. They reported what they had seen to their assembled
comrades at the evening camp-fires. Their names have now passed from my
memory–not having had an intimate personal acquaintance with them–for
according to my recollection they belonged to the company of Capt. Dill.

While on our way down to camp we met Major Savage with a detachment
who had been burning a large _caché_ located in the fork, and another
small one below the mouth of the Ten-ie-ya branch. This had been held
in reserve for possible use, but the Major had now fired it, and the
flames were leaping high. Observing his movements for a few moments
we rode up and made report of our unsuccessful efforts. I briefly,
but with some enthusiasm, described my view from the cliff up the
North Cañon, the Mirror Lake view of the Half Dome, the Fall of the
South Cañon and the view of the distant South Dome. I volunteered a
suggestion that some new tactics would have to be devised before we
should be able to corral the “Grizzlies” or “smoke them out.” The Major
looked up from the charred mass of burning acorns, and as he glanced
down the smoky valley, said: “This affords us the best prospect
of any yet discovered; just look!” “Splendid!” I promptly replied,
“Yo-sem-i-te must be beautifully grand a few weeks later, when the
foliage and flowers are at their prime, and the rush of water has
somewhat subsided. Such cliffs and water-falls I never saw before, and
I doubt if they exist in any other place.”

[Illustration: VERNAL FALL.

(350 feet in height.)]

I was surprised and somewhat irritated by the hearty laugh with which
my reply was greeted. The Major caught the expression of my eye and
shrugged his shoulders as he hastily said: “I suppose that is all
right, Doctor, about the water-falls, &c., for there are enough of them
here for one locality, as we have all discovered; but my remark was not
in reference to the scenery, but the _prospect_ of the Indians being
starved out, and of their coming in to sue for peace. We have all been
more or less wet since we rolled up our blankets this morning, and this
fire is very enjoyable, but the prospect that it offers to my mind of
_smoking out_ the Indians, is more agreeable to me than its warmth or
all the scenery in creation. I know, Doc., that there is a good deal of
iron in you, but there is also considerable sentiment, and I am not in
a very sentimental mood.” I replied that I did not think that any of us
felt very much like making love or writing poetry, but that Ten-ie-ya’s
remark to him about the “Great Spirit” providing so bountifully for
his people, had several times occurred to me since entering here, and
that no doubt to Ten-ie-ya, this was a veritable Indian paradise.
“Well,” said the Major, “as far as that is concerned, although I have
not carried a Bible with me since I became a mountain-man, I remember
well enough that Satan entered paradise and did all the mischief he
could, but I intend to be a bigger devil in this Indian paradise than
old Satan ever was; and when I leave, I don’t intend to _crawl_ out,
either. Now Doc. we will go to camp but let me say while upon the
subject, that we are in no condition to judge fairly of this valley.
The annoyances and disappointments of a fruitless search, together with
the certainty of a snow-storm approaching, makes all this beautiful
scenery appear to me gloomy enough. In a word, it is what we supposed
it to be before seeing it, a h—- of a place. The valley, no doubt,
will always be a wonder for its grouping of cliffs and water-falls, but
hemmed in by walls of rock, your vision turned in, as it were, upon
yourself–a residence here would be anything but desirable for me. Any
one of the Rocky Mountain parks would be preferable, while the ease
with which buffalo, black-tail and big-horn could be provided in the
“Rockies” would, in comparison, make your Indian paradise anything but
desirable, even for these Indians.”

[Illustration: NEVADA FALL.

(600 feet in height.)]

The more practical tone and views of the Major dampened the ardor of my
fancy in investing the valley with all desirable qualities, but as we
compared with each other the experiences of the day, it was very clear
that the half had not yet been seen or told, and that repeated views
would be required before any one person could say that he had seen the
Yosemite. It will probably be as well for me to say here that though
Major Savage commanded the first expedition to the valley, he never
revisited it, and died without ever having seen the Vernal and Nevada
Falls, or any of the views belonging to the region of the Yosemite,
except those seen from the valley and from the old Indian trail on our
first entrance.

We found our camp had been plentifully supplied with dry wood by the
provident guard, urged, no doubt, by the threatening appearances of
another snow-storm. Some rude shelters of poles and brush were thrown
up around the fires, on which were placed the drying blankets, the
whole serving as an improvement on our bivouac accomodations. The night
was colder than the previous one, for the wind was coming down the
cañons of the snowy Sierras. The fires were lavishly piled with the dry
oak wood, which sent out a glowing warmth. The fatigue and exposure of
the day were forgotten in the hilarity with which supper was devoured
by the hungry scouts while steaming in their wet garments. After supper
Major Savage announced that “from the very extensive draft on the
commissary stores just made, it was necessary to return to the ‘South
Fork.’” He said that it would be advisable for us to return, as we were
not in a condition to endure delay if the threatened storm should prove
to be a severe one; and ordered both Captains Boling and Dill to have
their companies ready for the march at daylight the next morning.

While enjoying the warmth of the fire preparatory to a night’s rest,
the incidents of our observations during the day were interchanged.
The probable heights of the cliffs was discussed. One _official_
estimated “El Capitan” at 400 feet!! Capt. Boling at 800 feet; Major
Savage was in no mood to venture an opinion. My estimate was a sheer
perpendicularity of at least 1500 feet. Mr. C. H. Spencer, son of Prof.
Thomas Spencer, of Geneva, N. Y.,–who had traveled quite extensively
in Europe,–and a French gentleman, Monsieur Bouglinval, a civil
engineer, who had joined us for the sake of adventure, gave me their
opinions that my estimate was none too high; that it was probable that
I was far below a correct measurement, for when there was so much
sameness of height the judgment could not very well be assisted by
comparison, and hence instrumental measurements alone could be relied
on. Time has demonstrated the correctness of their opinions. These
gentlemen were men of education and practical experience in observing
the heights of objects of which measurement had been made, and quietly
reminded their auditors that it was difficult to measure such massive
objects with the eye alone. That some author had said: “But few persons
have a correct judgment of height that rises above sixty feet.”

I became somewhat earnest and enthusiastic on the subject of the
valley, and expressed myself in such a positive manner that the
“_enfant terrible_” of the company derisively asked if I was given to
exaggeration before I became an “Indian fighter.” From my ardor in
description, and admiration of the scenery, I found myself nicknamed
“Yosemity” by some of the battalion. It was customary among the
mountain men and miners to prefix distinctive names. From this hint
I became less _expressive_, when conversing on matters relating to
the valley. My self-respect caused me to talk less among my comrades
generally, but with intimate friends the subject was always an open
one, and my estimates of heights were never reduced.

Major Savage took no part in this camp discussion, but on our
expressing a design to revisit the valley at some future time, he
assured us that there was a probability of our being fully gratified,
for if the renegades did not voluntarily come in, another visit would
soon have to be made by the battalion, when we could have opportunity
to measure the rocks if we then desired. That we should first escort
our “captives” to the commissioners’ camp on the Fresno; that by the
time we returned to the valley the trails would be clear of snow, and
we would be able to explore to our satisfaction. Casting a quizzing
glance at me, he said: “The rocks will probably keep, but you will not
find all of these immense _water-powers_.”

Notwithstanding a little warmth of discussion, we cheerfully wrapped
ourselves in our blankets and slept, until awakened by the guard; for
there had been no disturbance during the night. The snow had fallen
only to about the depth of an inch in the valley, but the storm still

By early dawn “all ready” was announced, and we started back without
having seen any of the Indian race except our useless guide and the
old squaw. Major Savage rode at the head of the column, retracing our
trail, rather than attempt to follow down the south side. The water was
relatively low in the early morning, and the fords were passed without
difficulty. While passing El Capitan I felt like saluting, as I would
some dignified acquaintance.

The _cachés_ below were yet smouldering, but the lodges had disappeared.

At our entrance we had closely followed the Indian trail over rocks
that could not be re-ascended with animals. To return, we were
compelled to remove a few obstructions of poles, brush and loose rocks,
placed by the Indians to prevent the escape of the animals stolen and
driven down. Entire herds had been sometimes taken from the ranches or
their ranges.

After leaving the valley, but little difficulty was encountered. The
snow had drifted into the hollows, but had not to any extent obscured
the trail, which we now found quite hard. We reached the camp earlier
in the day than we had reason to expect. During these three days of
absence from headquarters, we had discovered, named and partially
explored one of the most remarkable of the geographical wonders of the

On our arrival at the rendezvous on the South Fork the officer in
charge reported; “We are about out of grub.” This was a satisfactory
cause for a hurried movement; for a short allowance had more terrors
for men with our appetites than severe duties; and most of us had
already learned that, even with prejudice laid aside, our stomachs
would refuse the hospitalities of the Indians, if it were possible
for them to share with us from their own scanty stores. The Major’s
experience prompted him at once to give the order to break camp and
move on for the camp on the Fresno.

Our mounted force chafed at the slowness of our march; for the Indians
could not be hurried. Although their cookery was of the most primitive
character, we were very much delayed by the time consumed in preparing
their food.

While traveling we were compelled to accommodate our movements to the
capacities or inclinations of the women and children. Captain Dill,
therefore, with his company was sent on ahead from the crossing of the
South Fork, they leaving with us what food they could spare. When Dill
reached the waters of the Fresno about one hundred “_captives_” joined
him. These Indians voluntarily surrendered to Captain Dill’s company,
which at once hurried them on, and they reached the commissioners at
the Fresno.

Captain Boling’s company and Major Savage remained with the “Grand
Caravan,” keeping out scouts and hunters to secure such game as might
be found to supply ourselves with food. We had no anxiety for the
safety or security of our “captives;” our own subsistence was the
important consideration; for the first night out from Bishop’s camp
left us but scanty stores for breakfast. Our halting places were
selected from the old Indian camping grounds, which were supplied
with hoyas (holes or mortars). These permanent mortars were in the
bed-rock, or in large detached rocks that had fallen from the cliffs or
mountains. These “hoyas” had been formed and used by past generations.
They were frequent on our route, many of them had long been abandoned;
as there was no indications of recent uses having been made of them.
From their numbers it was believed that the Indians had once been much
more numerous than at that date.

By means of the stone pestles with which they were provided, the squaws
used these primitive mills to reduce their acorns and grass seeds to
flour or meal. While the grists were being ground, others built the
fires on which stones were heated.

When red hot, these stones were plunged into baskets nearly filled
with water; this is continued until the water boils. The stones are
then removed and the acorn meal, or a cold mixture of it, is stirred
in until thin gruel is made; the hot stones are again plunged into
the liquid mass and again removed. When sufficiently cooked, this
“Atola” or porridge, was poured into plates or moulds of sand, prepared
for that purpose. During the process of cooling, the excess of
water leaches off through the sand, leaving the woody fibre tannin
and unappropriated coarse meal in distinctive strata; the edible
portion being so defined as to be easily separated from the refuse
and sand. This preparation was highly prized by them, and contrary to
preconceived ideas and information, all of the Indians I asked assured
me that the _bitter_ acorns were the best when cooked. This compound
of acorn meal resembles corn starch blanc mange in color, but is more
dense in consistency. Although it was free from grit, and comparatively
clean, none of us were able to eat it, and we were quite hungry. From
this, I was led to conclude that to relish this Indian staple, the
taste must be acquired while very young.

Old Ten-ie-ya’s four wives, and other squaws, were disposed to be
quite hospitable when they learned that our supply of provisions was
exhausted. None of the command, however, ventured to sample their
acorn-jellies, grass-seed mush, roasted grasshoppers, and their other
delicacies; nothing was accepted but the Piñon pine nuts, which were
generally devoured with a relish and a regret for the scarcity.

Certain species of worms, the larvæ of ants and some other insects,
common mushrooms and truffles, or wood-mushrooms, are prized by the
Indian epicure, as are eels, shrimps, oysters, frogs, turtles, snails,
etc., by his white civilized brother. Are we really but creatures of

The _baskets_ used by the Indians for boiling their food and other
purposes, as has been before stated, are made of a tough mountain
bunch-grass, nearly as hard and as strong as wire, and almost as
durable. So closely woven are they, that but little if any water can
escape from them. They are made wholly impervious with a resinous
compound resembling the vulcanized rubber used by dentists. This
composition does not appear to be in the least affected by hot water.
The same substance, in appearance at least, is used by Mountain Indians
in attaching sinews to bows, and feathers and barbs to arrows.

I endeavored to ascertain what the composition was, but could only
learn that the resin was procured from small trees or shrubs, and
that some substance (probably mineral) was mixed with it, the latter
to resist the action of heat and moisture. I made a shrewd guess that
pulverized lava and sulphur (abundant east of the High Sierras) was
used, but for some cause I was left in ignorance. The Indians, like all
ignorant persons, ascribe remarkable virtues to very simple acts and to
inert remedies. Upon one occasion a doctor was extolling the virtues
of a certain root, ascribing to it almost miraculous powers; I tried
in vain to induce him to tell me the name of the root. He stated that
the secret was an heir-loom, and if told, the curative power of the
plant would disappear; but he kindly gave me some as a preventive of
some imaginary ill, when lo! I discovered the famous remedy to be the

After a delayed and hungry march of several days, we halted near
sundown within a few miles of the Commissioner’s headquarters, and
went into camp for the night. The Indians came straggling in at will
from their hunts on the way, their trophies of skill with their bows
being the big California squirrels, rabbits or hares and quail. Our
more expert white hunters had occasionally brought in venison for our
use. We had ceased to keep a very effective guard over our “captives;”
none seemed necessary, as all appeared contented and satisfied, almost
joyous, as we neared their destination on the Fresno.

The truth is, we regarded hostilities, so far as these Indians were
concerned, as ended. We had voted the peace policy a veritable success.
We had discussed the matter in camp, and contrasted the lack of spirit
exhibited by these people with what we knew of the warlike character
of the Indians of Texas and of the Northwestern plains. In these
comparisons, respect for our captives was lost in contempt. “The noble
red man” was not here represented. The only ones of the Pacific Slope,
excepting the Navahoes, Pimas and Maricopahs, that bear any comparison
with the Eastern tribes for intelligence and bravery, are the You-mahs
of the Colorado river, the Modocs, and some of the Rogue and Columbia
river tribes, but none of these really equal the Sioux and some other
Eastern tribes.

Hardly any attention had been paid to the captives during the preceding
night, except from the guard about our own camp; from a supposition
that our services could well be spared. Application was therefore
made by a few of us, for permission to accompany the Major, who had
determined to go on to the Fresno head-quarters. When consent was
given, the wish was so generally expressed, that Captain Boling with
nine men to act as camp guard, volunteered to remain, if Major Savage
would allow the hungry “boys” to ride with him. The Major finally
assented to the proposition, saying: “I do not suppose the Indians
can be driven off, or be induced to leave until they have had the
feast I promised them; besides, they will want to see some of the
commissioner’s finery. I have been delighting their imaginations with
descriptions of the presents in store for them.”

When the order was passed for the hungry squad to fall in, we mounted
with grateful feelings towards Captain Boling, and the “boys” declared
that the Major was a trump, for his consideration of our need. With the
prospect of a good “square” meal, and the hope of a genial “smile” from
our popular commissary, the time soon passed, and the distance seemed
shortened, for we entered the Fresno camp before our anticipations were
cloyed. Head-quarters was well supplied with all needful comforts,
and was not totally deficient in luxuries. Our Quarter-Master and
Commissary was active in his duties, and as some good women say of
their husbands, “He was a good provider.” We had no reason to complain
of our reception; our urgent requirements were cheerfully met. The
fullness of our entertainment did not prevent a good night’s rest,
nor interfere with the comfortable breakfast which we enjoyed. While
taking coffee, the self denial of Captain Boling and his volunteer
guard was not forgotten. Arrangements were made to furnish the best
edible and potable stores, that could be secured from our conscientious
and prudent commissary. We were determined to give them a glorious
reception; but–the Captain did not bring in his captives! Major Savage
sent out a small detachment to ascertain the cause of the delay.
This party filled their haversacks with comforts for the “Indian
guard.” After some hours of delay, the Major became anxious to hear
from Captain Boling, and began to be suspicious that something more
serious than the loss of his animals, was the cause of not sending in a
messenger, and he ordered out another detachment large enough to meet
any supposed emergency. Not far from camp, they met the Captain and his
nine men (the “_Indian guard_”) and _one_ Indian, with the relief party
first sent out. Our jovial Captain rode into “Head-quarters” looking
more crest fallen than he had ever been seen before. When asked by the
Major where he had left the Indians, he blushed like a coy maiden and
said: “They have all gone to the mountains, but the one I have with me.”

After Captain Boling had made his report to the Major, and made all
explanations to the commissioners, and when he had refreshed himself
with an extra ration or two of the potable liquid, that by special
stipulation had been reserved for the “Indian Guard,” something of
his old humor returned to him, and he gave us the details of his
annoyances by the breach of trust on the part of “our prisoners.”

The Captain said: “Soon after you left us last night, one of my men,
who was out hunting when we camped, came in with a deer he had killed
just at the dusk of the evening. From this we made a hearty supper,
and allowed the youth who had helped to bring in the deer to share
in the meat. The Indian cooked the part given to him at our fire,
and ate with the avidity of a famished wolf. This excited comment,
and anecdotes followed of the enormous appetites displayed by some
of them. The question was then raised, ‘how much can this Indian eat
at one meal?’ I suggested that a fair trial could not be had with
only one deer. Our hunter said he would give him a preliminary trial,
and when deer were plenty we could then test his full capacity, if
he should prove a safe one to bet on. He then cut such pieces as we
thought would suffice for our breakfast, and, with my approval, gave
the remainder to his boy, who was anxiously watching his movements. I
consented to this arrangement, not as a test of his capacity, for I
had often seen a hungry Indian eat, but as a reward for his services
in bringing in the deer on his shoulders. He readily re-commenced his
supper, and continued to feast until every bone was cracked and picked.
When the last morsel of the venison had disappeared he commenced a
doleful sing-song, ‘Way-ah-we-ha-ha, Wah-ah-we-ha-ha’ to some unknown
deity, or, if I was to judge from my ear of the music, it must have
been his prayer to the devil, for I have heard that it is a part of
their worship. His song was soon echoed from the camp where all seemed
contentment. After _consoling_ himself in this manner for some time he
fell asleep at our fire.

“The performance being over, I told my men to take their sleep and
I would watch, as I was not sleepy; if I wanted them I would call
them. I then thought, as Major Savage had declared, the Indians could
scarcely be driven off, until they had had their feast and the presents
they expected to have given them. I sat by the fire for a long time
cogitating on past events and future prospects, when thinking it
useless to require the men to stand guard, I told them to sleep. Moving
about and seeing nothing but the usual appearance, I decided it to be
unneccessary to exercise any further vigilance, and told one of the
men, who was partially aroused by my movements, and who offered to get
up and stand guard, that he had better lie still and sleep. Toward
morning I took another round, and finding the Indian camp wrapped in
apparently profound slumber, I concluded to take a little sleep myself,
until daylight. This now seems unaccountable to me, for I am extremely
cautious in my habits. Such a breach of military discipline would have
subjected one of my men to a court-martial. I confess myself guilty of
neglect of duty; I should have taken nothing for granted.

“No one can imagine my surprise and mortification when I was called and
told that the Indian camp was entirely deserted, and that none were
to be seen except the one asleep by our camp fire. My indifference to
placing a guard over the Indian camp will probably always be a mystery
to me, but it most likely saved our lives, for if we had attempted to
restrain them, and you know us well enough to believe we would not have
let them off without a fight; they would probably have pretty well used
us up. As it was, we did not give them up without an effort. We saddled
our horses and started in chase, thinking that as while with us, their
women and children would retard their progress, and that we would soon
overtake them. We took the young brave with us, who had slept by our
fire. He knew nothing of the departure of his people, and was very much
alarmed, as he expected we would at once kill him. I tried to make him
useful in following their trail; he by signs, gave me to understand
he did not know where they had gone, and seemed unwilling to take the
trail when I pointed it out to him. He evidently meant to escape the
first opportunity. I kept him near me and treated him kindly, but gave
him to understand I should shoot him if he tried to leave me.

“We pursued until the trail showed that they had scattered in every
direction in the brushy ravines and on the rocky side of a mountain
covered with undergrowth, where we could not follow them with our
animals. Chagrined and disgusted with myself for my negligence, and my
inability to recover any part of my charge, and considering farther
pursuit useless, we turned about and took the trail to head-quarters
with our one captive.”

Major Savage took the youngster under his charge, and flattered him by
his conversations and kindly treatment. The Commissioners lionized him
somewhat; he was gaily clothed and ornamented, loaded with presents
for his own family relations, and was given his liberty and permitted
to leave camp at his leisure, and thus departed the last of the “grand
caravan” of some three hundred and fifty “captives,” men, women and
children, which we had collected and escorted from the mountains.

The sight of the one hundred brought to them by Captain Dill, and his
report that we were coming with about three hundred and fifty more,
aroused sanguine hopes in the commission that the war was over, and
that their plans had been successful. “Now that the _prisoners_ have
fled,” we asked, “What will be done?”

To a military man, this lack of discipline and precaution–through
which the Indians escaped–will seem unpardonable; and an officer
who, like our Captain, should leave his camp unguarded, under any
circumstances, would be deemed disgracefully incompetent. In
palliation of these facts, it may not occur to the rigid disciplinarian
that Captain John Boling and the men under him–or the most of them,
had not had the advantages of army drill and discipline. The courage of
these mountain-men in times of danger was undoubted; their caution was
more apt to be displayed in times of danger to others, than when they
themselves were imperiled.

In this case Captain Boling was not apprehensive of danger to those
under his charge. His excessive good nature and good will toward his
men prompted him to allow, even to command them, to take the sleep and
rest that an irregular diet, and the labor of hunting while on the
march, had seemed to require. No one had a keener sense of his error
than himself. The whole command sympathized with him–notwithstanding
the ludicrous aspect of the affair–their finer feelings were aroused
by his extreme regrets. They determined that if opportunities offered,
he should have their united aid to wipe out this stigma. Major Savage
was deceived by the child-like simplicity with which the Indians had
been talking to him of the feast expected, and of the presents they
would soon receive from the commissioners. He did not suppose it
possible that they would make an attempt to escape, or such a number
would not have been left with so small a guard. We had men with us
who knew what discipline was, who had been trained to obey orders
without hesitation. Men who had fought under Col. Jack Hays, Majors Ben
McCullough and Mike Chevallia, both in Indian and Mexican warfare, and
they considered themselves well posted. Even these men were mistaken in
their opinions. The sudden disappearance of the Indians, was as much a
surprise to them as to our officers.

With a view to solving this mystery Vow-ches-ter was sent for from his
camp near by, where all the treaty tribes were congregated, and when
questioned the Chief said that during the night Chow-chilla runners
had been in the camp, and to him in person with their mouths filled
with lies; they had probably gone to the camp of those who were coming
in, and they were induced to leave. Evidently he felt assured of the
fact; but until questioned, his caution, Indian-like, kept him silent.
Vow-ches-ter’s sincerity and desire for peace was no longer doubted.
Those who were suspicious of his friendship before were silenced, if
not convinced, when he volunteered to go out and bring in such of the
fugitives as he could convince of the good will of the commissioners.
The young Indian had not yet left the camp, but was found relating his
adventures and good fortune, and was directed to accompany Vow-ches-ter
on his mission of good will. The Chief was instructed to give positive
assurances of protection against hostilities, if any were threatened
by the Chow-chillas. He was also instructed to dispatch runners to
aid his efforts, and was told to notify all that the commissioners
would not remain to be trifled with; if they wished peace they must
come in at once. That if the commissioners should go away, which they
soon would do on their way south, no further efforts for peace would
be made. That the mountain men and soldiers of the whites were angry,
and would no longer take their word for peace, but would punish them
and destroy their supplies. After a few days Vow-ches-ter came back
with about one hundred of the runaways; these were followed by others,
until ultimately, nearly all came back except Ten-ie-ya and his people.
All then in camp expressed a readiness to meet for a grand council and

The reasons given by those who returned for their flight, were that
just before daylight on the morning of their departure Chow-chilla
runners (as had been surmised by Vow-ches-ter) came to their camp with
the report that they were being taken to the plains, where they would
all be killed in order to evade the promises to pay for their lands,
and for revenge.

In reply to the statements that they had been treated by the whites
as friends, the Chow-chillas answered sneeringly that the whites were
not fools to forgive them for killing their friends and relatives,
and taking their property, and said their scouts had seen a large
mounted force that was gathering in the foot-hills and on the plains,
who would ride over them if they ventured into the open ground of the
reservation, or encampment at the plains. This caused great alarm. They
expected destruction from the whites, and in the excitement caused by
the Chow-chillas, threatened to kill Captain Boling and his men, and
for that purpose reconnoitered the Captain’s camp. The Chow-chillas
dissuaded them from the attempt, saying: “The white men always sleep
on their guns, and they will alarm the white soldiers below by their
firing, and bring upon you a mounted force before you could reach a
place of safety.”

The young fellow that was asleep in Boling’s camp was not missed
until on the march; his appearance among them gaily clothed, after
being kindly treated, very much aided Vow-ches-ter in his statement
of the object of the council and treaty to be held. The runaways told
the commissioners that they felt very foolish, and were ashamed that
they had been so readily deceived; they also expressed a wish that we
would punish the Chow-chillas, for they had caused all the trouble.
The reception they received soon satisfied them that they had nothing
to fear. They were given food and clothing, and their good fortune
was made known to other bands, and soon all of the tribes in the
vicinity made treaties or sent messengers to express their willingness
to do so, excepting the Chow-chillas and Yosemites. Even Ten-ie-ya
was reported to have ventured into the Indian quarter, but taking a
look at the gaudy colored handkerchiefs and shirts offered him in
lieu of his ancient and well-worn guernsey that he habitually wore,
he scoffingly refused the offers. Turning towards his valley home,
he sorrowfully departed; his feelings apparently irritated by the
evidences of vanity he saw in the gaudy apparel and weak contentment
of those he was leaving behind him. Major Savage, who it was supposed
would be the Indian agent at the end of the war, was absent at the time
of Ten-ie-ya’s visit, but “the farmer” showed the old chief all proper
respect, and had endeavored to induce him to await the Major’s return,
but failed.

Major Savage, though still in command of the battalion, now devoted
most of his time to the commissioners; and the energy with which our
campaigns had opened, seemed to be somewhat abating. The business
connected with the treaties was transacted principally through his
interpretation, though at times other interpreters were employed. The
mission interpreters only translated the communications made in the
Indian dialects into Spanish; these were then rendered into English by
Spanish interpreters employed by the commission.

A pretty strong detail of men was now placed on duty at head-quarters
on the Fresno, principally drawn from Captain Dill’s Company. Adjutant
Lewis had really no duties in the field, nor had he any taste or
admiration for the snowy mountains–_on foot_. His reports were written
up at head-quarters, as occasion required, and often long after the
events had transpired to which they related. I was an amused observer
upon one occasion, of Major Savage’s method of making out an _official_
report, Adjutant Lewis virtually acting only as an amanuensis.