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Military Expeditions

Piute Campaign

b. Party: Major James Henry Carleton and the troops of Companies "B" and "K" of the 1st Dragoons then stationed at Fort Tejon--two lieutenants, a surgeon, two civilians as guide and interpreter, and eighty-one enlisted men.

Date: April 12 - July 3, 1860.
Purpose: To punish the Paiutes who were blamed for the killings of three white citizens, Robert Wilburn near the Mojave River and Thomas S. Williams and John Jackman in the vicinity of Bitter Springs.

Route: Carleton and his troups left Fort Tejon for the Mojave River on April 12, 1860. By April 19 the expedition reached a site on the Mojave River some 170 miles from Fort Tejon. It was ten miles from the spot where the Salt Lake Trail branched off from the Government Road. Eventually Carleton built a small fort on this site which he named Camp Cady in honor of a friend, the then commander of Fort Yuma, California—Major Albemarle Cady of the 6th Infantry. On the day of its arrival, the Carleton detachment fought a skirmish with the Indians, killing one. An Indian prisoner taken was killed later. Both Indian bodies were carried to Bitter Springs on the Salt Lake Trail and displayed as a warning on a gibbet. At about the same time a group of soldiers were detached to build a small fort at Bitter Springs, 50 miles from Cady, to protect the cross-country civilian traffic.

On April 30 one of Major Carleton 's lieutenants, M. T. Carr,with 16 dragoons and a guide was sent on a ten day scout towards Soda Spring and the Providence Mountains. The troops had orders to build another small fort to protect traffic at Soda Spring on the old Government Road. At what is now known as the Kelso Sand Dunes, Carr's men attacked a band of Indians, killing three. The dead Indians heads were cut off and sent by way of Camp Cady to be displayed as a warning on the gibbet at Bitter Springs along with the two Indian bodies already there.

By this time a small fort at Soda Springs, 36 miles east of Camp Cady and named Hancock's Redoubt, and a similar but even shorter-lived fortification at Bitter Springs, had been built and activated.


As Carleton's troops fanned out from these fortifications they found that the Indians had vanished.

Believing that they had fled to a mountain now called Telescope, Carleton sent Lt. Davis with thirty- five men and a guide to scout for Indians in that direction. This detachment left Camp Cady from June 9 to 18 and probed the area on the west side of Death Valley. Finding the Indians had definitely fled and since he hoped to have taught them the futility of resistance to the white man, Carleton made preparations to abandon Camp Cady and the other two redoubts returning to Fort Tejon. Shortly before the troops left in early July, some Paiute leaders came in to talk peace. The Indians promised to be friendly to whites, and Carleton thereupon declared that he and they were no longer enemies. He added that in the fall other troops would return to see how well the Indians had kept their promises. This fall visit never materialized since by the Fall of 1860 the military establishment was distracted by the approach of the Civil War. Early in July Carleton moved out with his troops and abandoned the three redoubts. However, they were left standing as stone places of refuge for travelers over the Mojave desert. By July 9th Carleton had returned with his men to Fort Tejon.


Casebier, Dennis G. , Carleton's Pah-Ute Campaign , Norco, California, published by author, 1972.
Casebier, Dennis G. , The Mojave Road , Norco, California, Tales of the Mojave Road Publishing Company, 1975, pp. 126-128.


Paiute War

Bitter Springs

Major General J.H. Carleton

Murders on the Mojave

Ambush at Bitter Springs

Bitter Spring 1860

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