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Phil Sheridan Derides Jacksonville War Party

In August 1855, famed Civil War Gen. Phil Sheridan was a young lieutenant on an exploratory expedition in Southern Oregon. The soldiers ran into an armed party of Jacksonville citizens in hot pursuit of some Indians, but Sheridan soon surmised they weren’t anxious to find any “hostiles.”

Sheridan said they “swaggered about, bragged a lot and cursed the Indians loudly” before heading home, which he felt “was uppermost in their thoughts.”

The next day the expedition encountered a nearby Indian village on Klamath Lake, and Sheridan wondered what “those valiant (Jacksonville) warriors,” as he derisively called them, would have done had they been there.

Sheridan wrote, “When we reached the village the tepees-made of grass-were all standing, the fires burning and the pots boiling … (with) … camas and tula [sic] roots -- but not an Indian was to be seen.”

Sheridan said an old Indian rose from the grass at a distance, apparently decided the soldiers were peaceful, and, in Sheridan’s words, “gave a peculiar yell, … (and) between three and four hundred Indians rose simultaneously from the ground and … came out of the tall grass.”

It was a peaceful encounter.

Source: Sheridan, Phillip H. Personal Memoires of P. H. Sheridan, General, United States Army. Vol. 1: Project Gutenberg Ebook, 2004. N. pag. 2 vols. Web. 23 Aug. 2015. .

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.