© 2024 | Jefferson Public Radio
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland, OR 97520
541.552.6301 | 800.782.6191
Listen | Discover | Engage a service of Southern Oregon University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Mexican Mule Packers Deliver Supplies to Oregon Militia

When the Rogue River Indian War erupted in 1855, the U.S. military had 350 men assigned to the vast Oregon and Washington territories.  A militia called the Second Regiment Mounted Volunteers formed and played a major role in the war.  Its success depended on the smooth delivery of supplies to the troops.

Soldiers carried two days’ supply of rations, a change of clothes and ammunition.  The rest of their food and supplies had to be transported from distribution centers on roads that were little more than trails impassible for wheeled freight wagons.

The regiment hired 119 mule packers, three dozen of them experienced Mexicans whose mules were bred for heavy loads.  The Mexicans were skilled packers who were quick to tend to sick or poorly fed animals.  They already knew the trails across the Siskiyou Mountains from the earlier gold rush days.  Pay was good at $6 a day for an average of 80 days.

One observer remarked on the colorful mule trains and said the tinkling of the leader’s bell mixed with the shouting in Spanish of the Mexican muleteers created “a not unpleasant medley of sounds.”

Source: Ganboa, Erasmo. "Mexican Mule Packers and Oregon’s Second Regiment Mounted Volunteers, 1855-1956." Oregon Historical Quarterly 92.1 (1991): 41-49. Web. 18 Aug. 2016. .

Maryann Mason has taught history and English in the U.S. Midwest and Northwest, and Bolivia. She has written history spots for local public radio, interviewed mystery writers for RVTV Noir, and edited personal and family histories.  Her poetry has appeared in Sweet Annie & Sweet Pea Review (1999), Rain Magazine (2007), and The Third Reader, an online Journal of Literary Fiction and Poetry. In 2008 she published her first chapbook, Ravelings.  She organized a History Day for Southern Oregon.