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Civil War Ignites Gunfight in Jacksonville, Ore.

Political conflict is not new in America -- or Jackson County, for that matter.

After the Confederate’s successful attack on Fort Sumter in 1861 touched off the Civil War, tempers in Southern Oregon exploded.  Jesse Applegate remarked at the time that much of the state “stinks with an element foul and corrupt, bordering…on actual treason.” 

The Oregonian reported that “… in the forks of the Umpqua, down Cow Creek and along Bear Creek in Jackson County” pro-slavery and secessionist attitudes were “disgustingly common.”

A flag raising in the Democrat stronghold of Jacksonville on the Fourth of July met with a “drunken rabble of rebel sympathizers” who wanted to tear down the flag. 

When pro-Union Republicans bought the pro-Confederacy Jacksonville Sentinel newspaper in May 1861, a gunfight broke out.  Sentinel newspaperman James O’Meara, an Irish immigrant and Confederate supporter, threatened the newspaper’s new Republican owner, James Denlinger with a gun.  Shots were fired, but no one was injured.

When news arrived by the Pony Express mail service in October that Union Capt. James Lingenfelter had been killed while leading a scouting party near Fort Monroe in Virginia, Union sympathies increased the tension.

Source: Lalande, J. (Spring, 1999). 'Dixie' of the Pacific Northwest: Southern Oregon’s Civil War. Oregon Historical Quarterly, 100 (1), 32.

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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.