History

War Council

The Mariposa War


Chapter 5: War Council

King James called for a council of tribal leaders at his Mariposa Creek trading post. Then, mustering all his charisma, diplomatic skills, and fluency with their language, he revealed that he knew of their plans to drive out the white settlers, mining in the foothills.

He begged them to abandon these plans, arguing that there were too many white men to fight, and that the white man possessed too much firepower. He warned that they would be wiped out if they made war.

After this speech, he invited Chief Juarez to confirm what he had just said, by telling the leaders what he had witnessed of the white man’s strength while visiting San Francisco. But he didn’t realize that Juarez’ pride was still stinging from being slapped around by his king.

Chief Juarez stepped up and delivered these words:

Our brother has told his Indian relatives much that is true. We have seen many white people. The white men are very numerous. But they are white men of many tribes. They are not like the tribe that digs gold in the mountains. They will not help the gold diggers if the Indians make war against them. The white tribe will not go to war with the Indians in the mountains. They cannot bring their big ships and their big guns to us. We have no reason to fear them. They will not injure us.

Savage realized his miscalculation, and desperately launched a counterargument. But it was no use. The natives were determined to fight. Soon all of Savage’s subjects disappeared from his trading post, to join their tribe in the war effort. The king had lost his kingdom, and would reign no more over the Tularenos.

Cathedral Rocks, East. Cathedral Rocks guard Bridalveil Falls on the east and west. They tower 2,000 feet above the Yosemite Valley floor, and are considered by some to be more beautiful than El Capitan.

It’s human nature for both sides to exaggerate in political arguments, while the truth is located somewhere in the middle. Savage had argued that if they went to war, they would be wiped out by the white man. Chief Juarez had argued that the white tribe in San Francisco would not go to war against the Indians in the mountains. But neither argument was completely accurate, nor completely inaccurate.

Cathedral Rocks, West. The high rock at the left, that appears to be falling into the valley, is known as Leaning Tower. It’s popular with rock climbers, and is a 700-foot, 3-day climb.

The Indians committed the first massacre, killing three men at Savage’s Mariposa Creek trading post. The sheriff of Mariposa, James Burney, responded by organizing an expedition against the Indians, led by the former king, as their guide.

On January 11, 1851, this expedition located a force of 400 Indians on the side of a mountain, near present-day Oakhurst, California. But they lost the element of surprise, and the Indians overpowered them with their arrows and bullets. The expedition retreated, but then Burney rallied his men and launched a counterattack that forced the Indians to scatter.

Burney’s men managed to eke out a small victory, with only two of his troops killed, and four wounded. Meanwhile, about 40 Indians had been killed.

The expedition returned to Mariposa, where a request was sent for state and federal aid. But the citizens of Mariposa were impatient, so while they waited for help, Savage and Burney recruited a force of 164 miners and settlers to hunt down and attack renegade Indians.

Cathedral Rocks, East, during tempestuous weather. Yosemite Valley experiences mild winters, while its surrounding peaks bear the brunt of storms. The valley floor averages 36 inches of rain per year, while higher elevations average 50 inches. On the valley floor, the average January high is 47F, and the average July high is 90F.

This is the latest installation of my 10-part series, The Mariposa War. Come on back in a few days for the next installation, entitled, Chapter 6: The Treaty Strategy . Click here to read the last installation. Click here to start at the beginning.

Categories: History

39 replies »

  1. A 3-day rock climb. Is that were they hang a tent on the side of the cliff and sleep there? Even if I were capable of making such a climb, the precarious dangling on a cliff at such heights would do me in.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I guess Savage’s words stirred up trouble. Curious to read what Savage’s final fate is. Death by an Indian’s arrow?

    The last picture is my favorite, but really like the other 2 as well. Looking forward to more pics!

    Liked by 2 people

Go ahead, blurt it out:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.