A Gale

Mark Twain

Virginia City Territorial Enterprise/October 1, 1862

About 7 o’clock Tuesday evening (Sept. 30th) a sudden blast of wind picked up a shooting gallery, two lodging houses and a drug store from their tall wooden stilts and set them down again some ten or twelve feet back of their original location, with such a degree of roughness as to jostle their insides into a sort of chaos. There were many guests in the lodging houses at the time of the accident, but it is pleasant to reflect that they seized their carpet sacks and vacated the premises with an alacrity suited to the occasion. No one hurt.

The Indian Troubles on the Overland Route

Twelve or fifteen emigrant wagons arrived here on Monday evening, and all but five moved on towards California yesterday. One of the five wagons which will remain in the city is in charge of a man from Story county, Iowa, who started across the plains on the 5th of May last, in company with a large train composed principally of emigrants from his own section. From him we learn the following particulars:

When in the vicinity of Raft River, this side of Fort Hall, the train was attacked, in broad daylight by a large body of Snake Indians. The emigrants, taken entirely by surprise—for they had apprehended no trouble—made but a feeble resistance, and retreated, with a loss of six men and one woman of their party. The Indians also captured the teams belonging to thirteen wagons, together with a large number of loose cattle and horses. The names of those killed in the affray are as follows: Charles Bulwinkle, from New York; William Moats, Geo. Adams and Elizabeth Adams, and three others whose names our informant had forgotten.

The survivors were overtaken on the afternoon by a train numbering 111 wagons, which brought them through to Humboldt. They occasionally discovered the dead bodies of emigrants by the roadside; at one time twelve corpses were found, at another four, and at another two—all minus their scalps. They also saw the wrecks of many wagons destroyed by the Indians. Shortly after the sufferers by the fight recorded above had joined the large train, it was also fired into in the night by a party of Snake Indians, but the latter, finding themselves pretty warmly received, drew off without taking a scalp.

About a week before these events transpired, a party of emigrants numbering 40 persons was attacked near City Rocks by the same tribe of uncivilized pirates. Five young ladies were carried off, and, it is thought, women and children in all to the number of fifteen. All the men were killed except one, who made his escape and arrived at Humboldt about the 20th of September.

This train was called the “Methodist Train,” which was not altogether inappropriate, since the whole party knelt down and began to pray as soon as the attack was commenced. Every train which has passed over that portion of the route in the vicinity of City Rocks since the 1st of August has had trouble with the Indians. When our informant left Humboldt several wagons had just arrived whose sides and covers had been transformed into magnified nutmeg-graters by Indian bullets. The Snakes corralled the train, when a fight ensued, which lasted forty-eight hours. The whites cut their way out, finally, and escaped. We could not learn the number of killed and wounded at this battle.

More Indian Troubles

Mr. L. F. Yates, who arrived in this city a few days since from Pike’s Peak, has given us the following particulars of a fight his train had on the 8th of last August, about one and a-half miles this side of the junction of the Lander’s Cut-off and Fort Bridger roads. Their train consisted of 15 wagons and 40 men, with a number of women and children. The train was attacked while passing along a ravine by a party of Indians being concealed in among a thick growth of poplar bushes.

When the attack commenced, most of the front wagons were some 80 rods in advance. They formed in corral, and intrenched behind their wagons, refused the slightest aid to those who were struggling with the savages in the rear. The party thus left to fight their way through the ambushed Indians numbered but nine men, and there were but four guns with which to maintain the battle. Five of the nine were killed and one wounded.

The names of the killed are as follows: Parmelee, James Steele, James A. Hart, Rufus C. Mitchell, from Central City, Colorado Territory, and McMahan, residence unknown; the name of the man wounded is Frank Lyman. He was shot through the lungs—recovered. The thirty-one men who were hidden snugly behind their wagons, with a single honorable exception, refused to render the slightest assistance to those who were fighting for their lives and the lives of their families so near them. Although they had 27 guns they refused to lend a single gun, when at one time four men went to ask assistance. The cowards all clung to their arms, and lay trembling behind their wagons.

A man named Perry, or Berry, was the only one who had sufficient courage to attempt to render his struggling friends any assistance. He was shot in the face before reaching the rear wagons, and was carried back to the corral. The fight lasted nearly two hours, and some seven or eight Indians were killed, as at various times they charged out of the bushes on their ponies. Several Indian horses were killed, and at length the few left alive fought through to where their thirty heroic friends (?) were corraled, leaving the killed and two wagons in possession of the Indians. Thirty bigger cowards and meaner men than those above mentioned never crossed the plains; we are certain that every man of them left the States for fear of being drafted into the army.

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