Rogue River Indian War

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Rogue River Indian War (1855-1856) - The Rogue River Indian War began in Oct 1855 when a mob from Jacksonville, Oregon killed 28 Indian people camped near the Table Rock Reservation. This and other attacks caused heavily armed groups of Indians to come together in a large force led by Tecumtum and others. The Indians took refuge in the coastal mountain range and resisted attacks from regular and volunteer troops. Some 400 Indians sought protection at Fort Lane under the command of Captain Andrew J. Smith. In Jan 1856 they were marched 200 miles to the Grand Ronde Reservation, which is about 35 miles west of Salem in the Willamette Valley.

There were not enough regular US Army units in the region to deal with the remaining Indians and Oregon Volunteer units were formed. A small force from Fort Vancouver (2) was sent south to deal with the problem and they attached volunteer units from the towns they passed through.

As the war intensified, more and more regular forces concentrated in the Rouge River area, and the initial volunteers were released to return home, only to be replace by other volunteer units. Throughout the winter, battles raged and stretched from Gold Beach on the coast inland to Jacksonville. Further reinforcements of regulars became impossible, and the burden of fighting fell almost entirely upon the volunteers.

By May 1856, more than 700 men comprised the volunteer force which had continuously pressed the Indians throughout the harsh winter. The followers of Tecumtum made their final resistance at Big Bend on the Rogue River, where they almost overcame regulars who were guarding a prisoner-of-war camp. With little food and goods left, the Indians surrendered in June 1856 after nearly nine months of continuous battle.

Most Indian survivors of the war were loaded onto a steamboat at Port Orford and transported via the Columbia and Willamette Rivers and eventually, by land, to the Coast Reservation on the central Oregon coast. The population of the Coast Reservation was eventually incorporated into the present day Siletz Reservation.


Rogue River Indian War Era Forts (1855-1856) (edit list)
Name Est Left County Notes
Fort Vancouver (2) 1849 1947 Clark WA Headquarters
Fort Vannoy 1855 1856 Josephine OR Volunteer Post
Fort Flournoy 1855 1855 Douglas OR Settler Fort
Fort Miner 1855 1856 Curry OR Settler Fort, 1st Lt. Relf Bledsoe
Fort Kitchen 1855 1856 Coos OR Settler Fort, Captain William H. Packwood
Fort Rowland 1853 1856 Curry OR Settler Fort
Fort Lamerick 1856 1856 Curry OR Volunteer Post, Major James Bruce, Oregon Mounted Volunteers
Fort Leland 1855 1856 Josephine OR Volunteer and U.S. Post, McDonough Harkness and Jesse H. Twogood
Fort Bailey 1855 1856 Josephine OR Volunteer Post
Fort Briggs 1855 1856 Josephine OR Settler Fort
Fort Hayes (1) 1855 1856 Josephine OR Settler Fort
Fort Birdseye 1855 1856 Jackson OR Settler Fort
Fort Smith (3) 1855 1856 Douglas OR Settler Fort
Camp Elliff 1855 1856 Douglas OR Volunteer Post, Captain Laban Buoy, Oregon Mounted Volunteers
Camp Spencer 1855 1856 Josephine OR
Fort Lane 1853 1856 Jackson OR U.S. Fort, Captain Andrew J. Smith, 1st U.S. Dragoons
Fort Orford 1851 1856 Curry OR U.S. Fort, 2nd Lt. Powell T. Wyman, 1st U.S. Artillery
Fort Yamhill 1855 1866 Polk OR U.S. Fort, 2nd Lt. William B. Hazen, 4th U.S. Infantry
Fort Hoskins 1856 1865 Benton OR U.S. Fort, Captain Christopher C. Augur, 4th U.S. Infantry
Fort Umpqua (2) 1856 1862 Douglas OR U.S. Fort, Captain Joseph Stewart, 3rd U.S. Artillery

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