*** Official ***
Mojave River Valley Museum
Mojave History - Military:
Bitter Springs - Fort Irwin
1st Dragoons, Co. K
Bitter Springs Redoubt, 1860-66
In the spring of 1860,
Major James H. Carleton
led a military campaign
of the Mojave River area. On 18 March 1860,
Thomas S. Williams and his brother-in-law, Jehu Jackman, who were
scouting for a Mormon wagon train from Salt Lake City, were killed in an
Indian attack near Bitter Springs. The local ranchers petitioned the
government for military protection to keep the Indians away from the
watering holes as a form of removing them from this region. Major Carleton
and eighty men built a series of redoubts and camps along the
was initially built fortified sand and adobe walled
structure near the Mojave River. Latter a Second Camp Cady was
constructed away from the river edge and a well was used to draw cleaner
water, plus it was apparent that a more permanent site was going to be
needed. The construction of buildings and a parade field were added. Soda Springs redoubt, first called
pronounced: "ziz-ecks") and Bitter Springs redoubts, were constructed
between 1860-61. The two redoubts were built as overnight camps to protect
both soldiers and civilians in case of Indian attack. The Bitter Springs
redoubt was built on 19 April 1860 (on what is now part of Fort Irwin). The
sand and adobe structure stood approximately 5' and had a 20’-23’ inner
circle. Around the base of the slopped walls on the inside, were steppingstones
used by soldiers to rise up over the summit of the wall and fire their
rifles, then dropping back down for protection during reloading. Inside the
redoubt the soldiers would sleep and cook their meals, placing them out of the
winds or harms way. Wagon train travelers rested, filled their water barrels
and watered their animals, while the soldiers would stand guard. They would
return to Camp Cady after the wagon trains departure.
In July 1866, a new mail service was inaugurated connecting
San Bernardino, California
to Prescott, Arizona over the
Spanish Trail-Mormon Trail
). The Battle of Camp Cady on 29 July 1866 helped
convince the Army and the mail contractors that the Mojave Road was not
safe and military escorts would be needed for each mail crossing. The Rock
Springs redoubt was built ninety miles to the east and additional outposts
were established at other springs along the road. These camps and redoubts
represent the first permanent U.S. Army presence in this area. Camp Cady
remained in service until 1871.
From here, Carleton vigorously scoured the countryside for traces of Indian marauders ...
This desert camp, variously named for the dry soda lake in its vicinity, was first established ...
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