04 February 2020

Sale of the Spoils From the Bear River Massacre

The Bear River Monument at the Fort Douglas Cemetery, after the
restoration project by the Corps of Engineers. Photo taken Feb 2021

Today in history, February 4 1863, Col. Patrick Connor and his Soldiers returned to Fort Douglas (then Camp Douglas) after the massacre at Bear River- which took place on January 29 1863 near present day site of Preston, Idaho.

The Deseret News printed quite the summary of the battle describing the Shoshone winter camp as “excellent winter quarters in a deep ravine” and the battle initially in the Shoshone’s favor but “soon the Indians were completely broken and in full retreat; but very few of them escaped… From 250 to 300 were undoubtedly killed in the fight or in the river in the attempt to escape. The Chiefs Bear-Hunter, Sag-witch, and Lehi were among the slain. A thousand bushels of wheat a large amount of beef and provisions, together with an abundant supply of powder, lead, bullets, and caps were found in the encampment… What the command thought worth bringing to camp they took, and destroyed the balance, leaving enough only for the preservation of the squaws and papooses."

Two things I found interesting in the Deseret News report, first was that there was a public “Sale of the Spoils: The arms, mules, horses, ponies, and other property taken from the Indians” were sold at public auction at Fort Douglas on Feb 12 1863.

Secondly, the number of US Army Soldiers whose feet were frozen outnumbered the killed and wounded, combined. Soldiers with Frozen Feet=79, Killed=22, Wounded=49.

Funerals for the deceased Soldiers started on February 5 1863. The Bear River monument at the Fort Douglas Cemetery is currently undergoing preservation efforts.

Source: The Deseret News, 11 Feb 1863, p4-5

The Deseret News Feb 11 1863

The Deseret News Feb 11 1863

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