February 17, 2008

493 Shoshones killed at Bear River

More evidence that Bear River was the worst massacre in US history:

Newly uncovered documents claim far higher number of Shoshones killed in Bear River MassacreThe autobiography of a Mormon pioneer written nearly a century ago and recently made public indicates the number of Shoshones killed in the 1863 Bear River Massacre could be much higher than previously believed.

In his 1911 autobiography, Danish emigrant Hans Jasperson claims to have walked among the bodies, counting 493 dead Shoshones.

"I turned around and counted them back and counted just the same," Jasperson writes. He was just 19 at the time of the massacre.

That is a far higher number than previous accounts of the Jan. 29, 1863, massacre when the U.S. Army's Third California Volunteers--intent on punishing the region's Indians for pestering mining supply wagons and pioneers in Cache Valley and along the California Trail--rode from Fort Douglas in Salt Lake City, surrounded the Shoshones on the banks of the Bear River near Preston, Idaho, and slaughtered most of four bands.

Accounts at the time said 210 to 300 Shoshones were killed (17 soldiers died on the battlefield and several more died of their wounds later).

The highest previous number--nearly 400 Shoshones--was reported by three pioneers who rode horses through the battlefield the next day, says historian Scott Christensen, who wrote a biography of Sagwitch, a surviving chief.

Even at the lower estimates, the Bear River Massacre stands as the worst in the western United States since the nation was founded.
Comment:  It's the worst, period, as far as I can tell.

In this context, I don't include Pearl Harbor, the World Trade Center, Dresden, Tokyo, or Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I refer only to massacres by Americans (Indian or non-Indian) against other Americans.

1 comment:

russell said...

Writerfella here --
writerfella still will contend that the 'Battle' of the Little Washita ranks among the most serious massacres of Native Americans. Black Kettle's Southern Cheyennes were attacked by Col. J.M. Chivington's forces on November 29, 1864 and suffered a terrible slaughter, with the destruction of their encampments. Black Kettle had believed that his display of an American flag and a white flag of peace atop his tipi would exempt his people from attack . Thus were the Arapaho, Comanche, Kiowa, Plains Apache, and the Cheyenne driven eventually to refuse the Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867. Actions always have repercussions, and the events of 1864 - 1867 singularly had negative historical results...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'