Digital-Desert : Mojave Desert
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Mojave Desert History - Pioneer of the Mojave
Green Gold and Mint Juleps

Indians Subdued After Bold Attacks

As Lane states, the Indians were making themselves "mighty scarce" at this time. Hostile activities on the desert had begun decreasing several months earlier, following two particularly difficult years of widespread attacks.

In 1866, the Indians, encouraged by a number of successes, had become bolder and bolder. In March of that year they killed three young cowboys in the area of present-day Summit Valley. In June one man was killed and another wounded as the result of two more attacks, one on a military express rider and his escort near Soda Lake, and another on a civilian wagon train at Marl Springs. The following month there was a battle between Camp Cady troops and a band of about 36 Indians, which ended with three soldiers dead and three wounded.

In January of 1867 a large band of Indians invaded the Lake Arrowhead area, burning a sawmill and some cabins. There were two encounters in which Indians were killed. The Indians were driven from the mountains by a citizen's militia and then pursued out into the desert, culminating in a fight at Rabbit Springs near what is now Lucerne Valley. The militia was headquartered at the upper narrows on the site of what would soon be the Brown Ranch. Later that year, in October of 1867, Indians attacked a mail wagon on the Mojave Road, and killed one of the three men in the party, an Army surgeon on his way to Fort Mojave.

There were a few at this time who recognized that many of the Indians' attacks were in defense of their land or in retribution for abusive or destructive behavior by the white man. Some were outraged by the systematic extermination of the Indians in the county and sympathized with their plight.

However, it would have been a rare occasion to hear these sentiments expressed by the beleaguered settlers on the desert. In fact, in this letter dated December 1, 1867, to the editor of the Guardian, it is made quite clear that some on the Mojave River were more of the opinion that, if anything, the Indians were being dealt with too leniently:

    We want Gen. Carlton, or some one like him, on this river, for three or four weeks. He would hang some of these good Indians over the graves of their victims, in a very short time. He would not keep an Uncle Sam's hotel for Indians, at government expense. There is too much of that kind of thing doing both here and in Arizona.

    Yours,
    Capt. A. G. Lane

It is evident by his letter that, like others, Lane felt animosity towards the Indians, which is not surprising, after nearly a decade of difficulties with them. The settlers did not have much longer to contend with hostile Indians. During 1868 the attacks subsided for the most part, although there was a murder in late March of 1869 in the vicinity of Cajon Pass. Following this incident, serious trouble with the Indians of the Mojave Desert ended.

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