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Tulare Mounted Riflemen
 
Assigned to: First Brigade
Location: Visalia, Tulare County
 
Organized: March 29, 1856
Mustered Out: June 10, 1868
 
Commanding Officers
Foster Demaster, Captain, Commissioned March 29 1856
J. T. Pemberton, First Lieutenant, Commissioned March 29 1856


History

Tulare County (Tulare taken from the Mexican tular meaning tule swamp) was suffering great depredations at the hand of hostile Indians. The Four Creek tribe of Indians believed they were being treated unfairly by the whites and decided to take matters in their own hands. They attacked some of the settlers and ran off their stock. The Honorable John Cutle, County Judge of Tulare County, appointed S. G. George on March 18, 1856, to proceed with the enrolling of members for an independent company of mounted riflemen. The meeting for the organization was to be held at the Court House in Visalia between the hours of ten and three o'clock on Saturday, the twenty-ninth day of March.

There had been a dispute between the two settlements of Woodville and Visalia over the county seat, and finally an election was held which determined Visalia as the victor. This first Court House was a log cabin surrounded by a fence and the jail, which was in this enclosure, consisted of four tree stumps which had iron rings stapled into the stumps to which culprits were chained., The county officials at the time carried records and public documents in their hats and pockets because of the ill-feeling among many of the residents.(1) Dr. S. G. George acted as emissary for the district to meet Governor Johnson who granted him permission to recruit two additional companies of mounted riflemen. The Governor also gave his permission for the filling of a requisition for eighty stand of arms and 5,000 rounds of ammunition.(2) The meeting held in the Court House was called to order by Dr. George who presented the roll bearing fifty-six names. The members then proceeded to the election of fifteen officers with Foster Demaster elected as Captain and John T. Pemberton, First Lieutenant. At this election W. G. Poindexter was elected as the Fourth Corporal. Although there was no record to show the fact, there must have been another election as Mr. Morris mentioned in his letters Captain Poindexter being in command of the volunteers. After the election it was unanimously resolved that the company adopt the name of Tulare Mounted Riflemen. The company adjourned to meet at the same place in two weeks.

With the completion of the organization of the company, the unit immediately went into active service against the Indians in what became known as the Tule River War. Captain Demaster, commanded the sixty men of the Tulare Mounted Riflemen who took after the Indians, and following a strenuous engagement was compelled to withdraw his troop into camp until reinforcements arrived, owing to the superiority of the Indians in numbers (there being about 500 of them). A party of nine men under John W. Williams, afterwards City Marshal of Visalia, also aided in subduing the Indians and finally Mr. Williams left the party to go back for reinforcements he was joined on the way by William Lynn. A force of approximately 140 men under W. G. Poindexter,(3) Sheriff of Tulare County joined to make the second advance on the hostiles.The Indians had built themselves a breastwork that would have done credit to the best of military engineers, and with their over-powering numbers, the whites were at a disadvantage against the shower of arrows and few guns of the hostiles. Mr. Lynn invented a padded armor which would be impervious to the arrows, and about a dozen of the most aggressive young men were chosen to don the armor which became known as the "petticoat" or "cotton bag parade". However, after several days of maneuvering no opportunity arose to try out the efficacy of the armor.(4)

The Indians usually came off "second best" after these skirmishes, but not, however, until they had forced several ranchers in the Tule River country to abandon their homes and fall back on Visalia and Woodville,the two,largest settlements in that section of the country. In this campaign the volunteer forces of the State were given help from the troops stationed at Fort Miller. In one of these engagements under the command of Lieutenant Livingston of the United States Army, the troops were forced to retreat and a messenger was sent to the fort with a request that a cannon sent to the front. A field piece had already been started on the way, however, besides an additional squad of twenty-five men. What was believed to have been the deciding engagement of the uprising was fought near Four Creeks on May 21, 1856, when Captain Demaster, commanding the Tulare Mounted Riflemen and some of the Federal troops effected the complete rout of the Indians and totally destroyed their supplies. During the engagement several Indians were killed and a large number wounded. Three white men, two of them volunteers and one a member of the Federal troops, were slightly wounded.

The frontiersmen of this district had suffered severely at the hands of the Indians. Following is a list of property destroyed by the Indians, and the probable value of the same:

 7 Dwelling houses average value

 500.00

 1 Saw mill and 100 feet of lumber

 15,000.00

 7 Horses

 each 100.00

 75 to 100 Head of cattle

 each 50.00


Becoming alarmed over the existing Indian difficulties Governor J. Neely Johnson instructed Brigadier General E. F. Beale, (5) First Division, First Brigade, to proceed to the scene with all possible haste in an effort.to effect a peace treaty with the several Indian tribes in the locality. General Beale left San Francisco on the twenty-eighth of May accompanied by his aide-de-camp, Colonel Edward Byrne, arriving at the Kings River territory a. week later where he met W. J. Campbell, Sub Indian Agent, and learned that in consequence of the continuous excitement of the whites, rumors had reached the Indians that active hostilities would be at once resumed against them, causing the hostiles to flee to the mountains. The General dispatched Mr. Campbell early the next morning with five bullocks for a Council feast, and a message to the Indians to appoint the meeting place for the Council. In the meantime General Beale proceeded on to Elbow Creek where he found Dr. Livingston commanding some thirty men of the Third Artillery from Fort Miller. The unit was encamped at Elbow Creek following their recent defeat of the Indians at the Yocole Valley a few days past. Lieutenant Allston of the Dragoons of Fort Tejon, whose command of forty men was encamped some ten miles south, was also present in camp, and these two gentlemen corroborated the reports that the Adjutant General had received relative to the violent measures contemplated by the whites., and the pioneers determination to prosecute a war of extermination against the Indians. From the vicinity of Elbow Creek, General Beale traveled on to Visalia and Woodville where he called a general meeting of the residents, many of whom were at first of the opinion that nothing but a severe punishment the Indians would prevent further molestations of the whites, although after a discussion of the problem, a majority of the citizens were willing to accede to more humane counsels. Several of the well known residents were invited to attend the proposed Council. Prior to this meeting between the whites and the Indians, Mr. Campbell attended an Indian conclave and returned with the information that the hostiles had selected
a valley some thirty-five miles from Elbow Creek and had sent runner's out for the scattered tribes to assemble for the Council. Lieutenant Livingston and Lieutenant Allston with their commands escorted Brigadier General Beale and his party, which included Mr.O.K. Smith of Woodville, Dr. S. G. George of Visalia and Messrs. Campbell and Jennings, Sub Indian Agents, to the stated spot designated as Camp Easton.(6)

Some 100 or 170 Indians were present at the Council which was held June 10th, and the following tribes were represented by their Chief or Captain:

 Monoes  Wick-a-choum-nees
 Talumnees  Choo-e-nim-nees
 Taches  En Tempich
 Palonshios  Corvillas
 Cho-kim-a-noes  0-pon-no-chees
 Noo-tu-ne-toos  Yocolleo

Through Gregorio, his Indian Interpreter, General Beale explained to the hostiles that he was sent by the great "White Chief" and that the object of his visit was to make peace, also that it was idle for them to attempt to cope with the Whites and unless they would promise unconditionally to go where it was deemed best for them to live, he had come prepared to inflict summary and severe chastisement upon them. All Indians living upon
the waters of Kings River were to go at once to the Reservation on that River, and those living South of the River were to go to the Yocole Valley and remain until the arrival of Colonel Henley who would make some permanent provision for their future subsistence.(7) The hostiles agreed to the terms. A list of articles which were distributed as "presents" at this gathering is-given: .

When the Indians were questioned as to why they had destroyed O. K. Smith's mill, the only one in the county, thereby causing a great loss to the community, they replied 'they did it as they were at war with the whites, and desired to do all the harm possible.'

A large tribe of Indians living on the Tule River were not represented at this Council; therefore, General Beale sent runners with a message for these Indians to meet him in Yocole Valley within five days.for the purpose of making a treaty, or he would consider them to be at war and would treat them accordingly. On the fourteenth of June accompanied by an escort of Dragoons the General went to the Corvilla Valley some ten miles from Woodville where he found some 300 Indians in camp representing the Olanches, Piqueminots, Coyotes, Wackoaches, and Corillas Tribes. They were pleased to meet him, perfectly willing to make peace, and agreed to remain in their present camp until the arrival of Colonel Henley. "Presents" were also distributed to these tribes which included the following:

1300 lbs. Flour
1000 lbs. Wheat
10 lbs. Tobacco
5 lbs. Sugar
1 Coffee Pot
60 spools thread
9 shirts
24 jumpers
7 pieces 224 yds. Calico
5 pieces 147 yds. sheeting
6 papers needles

It was the General's opinion that to preserve peace, required first, the presence of the Superintendent of the Indian Affairs to provide means for the Indian's subsistence, and a small force of about twenty-five Dragoons who should be kept in the field constantly. These suggestions were presented to Governor Johnson when the General sent in his detailed report regarding the settlement of the Indian hostilities.(8) General Beale was commended by the State Legislature for the skill and tact with which he had concluded the negotiations.

William Gouvernear Morris,(9) an Attorney of San Francisco, communicated with Adjutant General Kibbe regarding some claims, together with papers concerning business of the militia company. Mr. Morris was evidently sent to this district to prepare the claims for settlement of Indian depredations; and the resultant cost of the wars with the Indians. These claims were passed on by the Board of Examiners of War Claims of the State and in some cases the Federal Government shared the expense. Governor Weller had been back in Washington, D. C. in the early part of January 1857 on such a mission. A Resolution had been drawn up petitioning the Federal Government to assist in the settlement of the claims and the Governor was requested to transmit copies of this Preamble and Resolution to each of the Senators and Representatives in Congress. A letter from the Governor to Adjutant General Kibbe dated January 31, 1857, informed the General that "during the last ' session the Bill was passed by the Senate and sent to the House for concurrence. He was "sorry to inform the General that although he had several times urged the members of the House to take the Bill up and press it through, he had been unsuccessful in accomplishing his desires. He would continue to exert himself to force it into a law, but had little hope at the time as adjournment was near at hand."
 
The first letter of November 29, 1857, to Adjutant General Kibbe informed the General that 'a muster roll of one of the companies and several claims for supplies were to be mailed on the following day.. The papers had been carefully prepared in compliance with the rules which the General's Board had adopted. He (Mr. Morris) had found it impossible in few cases to obtain Powers of Attorney and therefore had concluded to let this formula pass, as he did not care particularly about having the bonds or certificates issued in his own name. He requested the Adjutant General to mail the bonds and certificates back to him when the claims were audited, and bonds and certificates were issued. Mr. Morris informed the General that, "in another week he would have prepared the Muster Roll of Captain Poindexter's company numbering some eighty men or thereabouts, as also several claims for supplies which had been furnished the company.« This letter also contained some personal comments on his arrival in the county, concluding, "I like this county very much, but, aside from this war business, I have not had much to attend to, as the practice of the Law here is only in its incipiency."

A second letter from Mr. Morris dated January 30, 1858, was sent to General Kibbe in which the information was given that duplicate muster rolls of Captain Poindexter's.company of Tulare Volunteers were being mailed. It had been impossible for Mr. Morris to send them before as, 'he had had great difficulty, in fact almost insurmountable; in obtaining names, dates, etc., but at last everything was in ship shape order." Mr. Morris requested the General at the time to let him (Morris) know at the earliest convenience what disposition the General had made of the claims, and if any bonds or certificates had been issued to please send them under cover to him. The muster rolls for companies which had participated in Indian Wars were made out in detail and presented through a special Board to the Government for adjustment:. Mr. Morris' efforts in handling the claims for the Indian depredations also resulted in the passage of an act by the Legislature to allow Brigadier General Beale a stipulated sum for his activities in negotiating the Peace Treaties. This Act illustrates the manner in which the State repaid those who helped in maintaining peaceful relations
with the Indians, and,is:quote as follows: (9)

ACT

Section 1: The claim of Edward F. Beale, for expenses incurred by him whilst engaged in the settlement of Indian difficulties, in the Tulare section of country, in the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty-six, by the orders of the Executive of this state, be and the same is hereby audited and allowed, to the amount of twelve hundred and forty-two dollars.

2: Of the amount allowed in the foregoing section, five hundred dollars shall be issued, in a state bond, to J. Neely Johnson, or his assignee, being the amount advanced by said Johnson to E. F. Beale aforesaid, on the fourteenth of September, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-six, on account of said claim for expenses.

With the conclusion of the peace negotiations between the Indian tribes and the United States Government, there was no longer a need for a militia unit in the vicinity, and according to the.Adjutant General's Report the Tulare Mounted Rifles were supposedly disbanded in 1859.

Footnotes

(1) History Central California Tulare County, Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, Page 171.

(2) Sacramento Union,May 6, 1856, Page 3, Column 2.

(3) Sheriff Poindexter was mentioned as Captain Poindexter in Mr. Morris letter to the Governor on January 30, 1858.

(4) History Central California Tulare County, Lewis Publishing Company

(5) General Edward Fitzgerald Beale was appointed, November 11, 1852, by President Fillmore as General Supervisor of Indian Affairs for California. Congress accordingly-appropriated $250,000 for the better protection, subsistence and colonization of the Indian tribes within the General's superintendency. Edward Fitzgerald Beale (a pioneer in the path of an empire) 1822-1903. Author, Stephen Bonsal; Publisher, G. P. Putnam, 1912, Page 62.

(6) Edward Fitzgerald Beale, 1912. Stephen Bonsol, Author; S. P. Putnam, Publisher. Pages 192-193.

(7) Letter written to Thomas J. Henley, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, by M. B. Lewis June 14, 1856, on file State Archives, State Capitol.

(8) All information on Brigadier General Beale's participation in the Peace negotiations was obtained from a letter written to Governor Johnson on July 12, 1856, which is on file in the State Archives, State Capitol.

(9) William Gouvernear Morris is listed in San Francisco's Directories of 1856 and 1857 as an Attorney, 40 Montgomery Street. He died at Sitka, Alaska,of.pneumonia,where he had just completed three years as Collector of Customs for the District of Alaska. He was an old and prominent politician of California, had at one time been the United States Marshal and for many years was employed in the Treasury Department This extract of Mr. Morris' political life, was taken from the Sacramento Union dated February 18, 1884, Page 2, Column 2.

(10) An Act to audit and allow the Claim of Edward F. Beale, for senses incurred in the settlement of Indian hostilities in 1856. April 26, 1858--original on file State Archives. Photostatic on file Adjutant General's Office.


This history was written in 1940 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in conjunction with the office of the Adjutant General and the California State Library

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