During the Gold Rush, tensions escalated between the whites and the local Indians. In retaliation for grievances against them, the Indians began stealing horses and then they did a series of attacks on trading posts. The raid of James Savage’s trading post at the confluence of the Merced and the South Fork of the Merced spurred the locals to petition John McDougal, the governor of the new state, for help. In a letter dated January 13, 1851 from Maj. James Burney, Sheriff of Mariposa County to the Governor, they described the Indian situation as:
“They have invariably murdered and robbed all the small parties they fell in with between here and the San Joaquin. News came here last night that seventy-two men were killed on Rattlesnake Creek; several men have been killed in Bear Valley. The Fine Gold Gulch has been deserted, and the men came in here yesterday. Nearly all the mules and horses in this part of the State have been stolen, both from the mines and the ranches. And I now in the name of the people of this part of the State, and for the good of our country, appeal to Your Excellency for assistance.”
This resulted in the formation of the volunteer “Mariposa Battalion.” Savage became Captain and led the volunteer group. While Federal Indian Commissioners were negotiating with tribes to relocate to reservations along the Fresno River, the soldiers pursued uncooperatives. During the winter of 1850-51, they hunted a band believed to live further north. The resultant events were dubbed the “Mariposa Indian War.” It was on March 27, 1851 that they entered what we call the Yosemite Valley.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “We come on the sloop John B, my grandfather and me. Around Nassau town we did roam. Drinking all night – got into a fight. Well, I feel so broke up I want to go home.” – The Beach Boys
*MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com
One Best Hike: Yosemite’s Half Dome