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By November the 3d California Volunteer Infantry was ready to take the field. Capt. John H. May's Company C was ordered to Del Norte County to relieve Hunt's regulars. May's people reached Fort Ter-Waw on November 14. On his arrival at Crescent City from San Francisco, May found that the heavy surf would not permit the steamer to tie-up at the wharf. May was compelled to land his unit in small boats, at a cost of two dollars per man. The charge for boating equipment and supplies from Crescent City to the mouth of the Klamath was also high, eight cents per pound. [37]

On November 24 the post was turned over to May by Captain Hunt, and he marched his regulars to Eureka. From there they took the steamship Columbia to San Francisco. [38]

Torrential rains pounded the Humboldt Coast in December and early January, causing the Klamath, as well as the other rivers and streams, to flood. By mid-January the flat on which Fort Ter-Waw stood had been inundated four times, as the river crested and ebbed. Seventeen of the 20 buildings constituting the post were swept away. When Captain May reported this situation to his superiors, they directed him to rebuild the post. This would not be impossible, because the men's morale, despite the heavy rains and flooding, was surprisingly high. With the parade ground under water much of the time, company drill had been infrequent. [39]

Col. Francis J. Lippitt had formally assumed command of the Humboldt Military District, with headquarters at Fort Humboldt, on January 9, 1862. [40] Heavy rains which continued to plague the coast and poor trails prevented Colonel Lippitt from visiting Fort Ter-Waw. Until March 5 the road and trail leading up the coast from Eureka to the mouth of the Klamath was impassable.

Meanwhile, Lippitt's superiors had determined to redeploy Captain May's company, sending it to rejoin the regiment on the Central Overland Route. The new commander of the Department of the Pacific, Brig. Gen. George Wright, accordingly ordered Company G, 2d California Infantry to the Klamath. The first Lippitt learned of this move was when Capt. William W. Stuart with his company reached Humboldt Bay by steamer from San Francisco. He was agreeably surprised to learn from Stuart that he and his men were enroute to Fort Ter-Waw to replace May's people. Captain Stuart had not brought any provisions or ammunition with him, and Lippitt, not knowing whether any would be available at Crescent City or Fort Ter-Waw, had Company G supplied with 30 days' rations and 1,000 rounds of ball cartridge. [41]

Stuart's company then sailed on to Crescent City, landing there. Lt. Theodore Whetmore started for Fort Ter-Waw with a 24-man detachment on March 14. A 20-mule train accompanied the platoon, while the men carried three-days' rations in their haversacks. Lt. John J. Shepherd followed with a second detachment on the 20th. One of Shepherd's men, Greenleaf Curtis, kept a journal, in which he recorded his impressions of the march. On the first day's tramp, the troops reached Gushing's house, five miles down the beach from Crescent City. The little column got under way at 10 a.m. on the 21st and "went as far as English Henry's 14 miles over a very bad road." Lieutenant Shepherd had his men on the trail by 8 o'clock on the 22d, and they reached the mouth of the Klamath three hours later, to find that portions of the trail up the north bank of the river had been destroyed by the winter floods. A number of Yurok, with four canoes, took the soldiers up to Fort Ter-Waw, where they arrived at 3 p.m. [42]

Another soldier, Pvt. George E. Young, recorded what he saw:

Amidst the grand old forest of such mammoth trees this Post once formed a conspicuous and important spot of uncommon beauty. The Quarters, barracks, Government Stores & Shops were handsomely arranged for comfort and usefulness and no expense spared to make the Fort a safe retreat and a good & pleasant home.

But all the property we found is in a most deplorable condition. Out of 25 buildings only three remained and only two of any account. All others had been swept away. [43]

They found May's company, along with those who had come down with Lieutenant Whetmore, living in tents. Captain May and his people, with Stuart's on the scene, now marched for Crescent City. [44]

Soon after he assumed responsibility for the post, Captain Stuart made a reconnaissance of the route from the fort to Crescent City "to ascertain the practicality of opening a trail passable for pack-animals." He found considerable labor would be required to improve the trail from the fort to Half-way House. To add to his problems, there were only 20 days' rations on hand, and the Klamath, for the time being, could not be navigated by anything larger than a canoe. In reporting this situation to his superiors, on March 25, Stuart pointed out, "the post is at the present time a very expensive one, and it will require an immense amount of labor and material to rebuild." [45]

Stuart was opposed to carrying out the orders to rebuild Fort Ter-Waw, and on May 10 he reported, "we are hemmed in here in every way, and we have no outlet except the trail on the south side of the Klamath to the coast, which the troops had recently opened." This trail intersected the Crescent City-Humboldt trail. Travel was generally by canoe and very expensive, the Yurok owning all the canoes. Their charge for ferrying the troops across the river was four cents each way, which Stuart considered too high. [46]

Once again, the people of Crescent City began to interfere with troop movements. They were distressed to learn that Captain Stuart had sent his best men to the Bald Hills to man the outpost at Elk Camp, on the trail between Trinidad and the Klamath. Recently, two-thirds of the adult males had left Crescent City for the Oregon mines. About 150 families had remained, mostly women and children, with only a 30-man militia company to protect them from the Tolowa. Most of the homeguards were armed with flintlocks. The people were saying harsh words about the reduction of Stuart's command, because Fort Ter-Waw was all the defense Del Norte had. With 800 Yurok on the Klamath and as many more Tolowa on Smith River, the situation looked bleak. To make matters worse, the Hupa were descending the Klamath, daily, to fish and trade. Persons had told Stuart that the Yurok had secreted 400 stands-of-arms, which they had salvaged after the flood, and that profiteers from Humboldt Bay were selling them ammunition.

In the period following the flood, the Indian agent had abandoned his agency at Wau-Kell, and the Indians had dug up quantities of lead pipe and iron. When he had first reached the post, Stuart could, by using quartermaster's supplies for currency, get the Yurok to transport government stores, but by May they demanded cash. Some had become so bold that they threatened the Hupa and "others up the river will come down and clean white men out from their fishing grounds, saying, 'Indians all fight against white men.'" [47]

Captain Stuart was not a man of Lieutenant Crook's ability and character, and he was shaken by these stories and unwilling to face difficulties. Besides, he was a poor match for the Crescent City politicians. Judge E. Mason of that town on May 19 wrote George M. Hanson, Superintendent of Indians for the Northern District, complaining that his fellow citizens were disenchanted with the military. He reminded Hanson of a promise "to have at least one company of troops in Smith River Valley" by April, in return for an agreement to permit the United States to establish a reservation there. Since the departure of the men for the mines, the Tolowa had become "quite impudent going to houses where there are no men and demanding food and clothing." This had frightened the women and children, causing them to abandon their homes and seek shelter in Crescent City. Moreover, the Tolowa were in contact with their former enemies—the Yurok. Chief Ilas had made three visits to the Klamath and fears were voiced that he was plotting a general outbreak. [48]

Superintendent Hanson on May 21 accordingly contacted General Wright. While Hanson, personally, had no fears of trouble in Del Norte, he would be glad to see troops posted in the new Smith River Reservation. [49] General Wright, the next day, acknowledged receipt of Hanson's note and Judge Mason's letter. Before taking action, Wright wished to know the number of Indians on the Smith River Reservation, and whether all those previously living near Fort Ter-Waw had been removed. [50]

Hanson answered immediately. Previous to his departure from Smith River, he had removed all, or nearly all, the Humboldt and Eel River Indians and a few Yurok to the new reservation. Counting the Tolowa, there would be about 1,000 Indians on Smith River. The Yurok were disinclined to emigrate, and claimed that in "their old haunts they could shift or provide for themselves better than the others who had been" concentrated on Smith River. Hanson was agreeable to their remaining on the Klamath until he had better means of providing for their welfare. In his opinion there could not be in excess of 300 Yurok within three or four miles of Fort Ter-Waw, while there were no white settlers within 30 miles, if squawmen were discounted. Hanson would be pleased to see Stuart's company located at some point between Crescent City and Smith River. [51]

General Wright, since the move was advocated by the Office of Indian Affairs and no longer opposed by the post commander, agreed to abandon Fort Ter-Waw. On May 27, 1862, Captain Stuart received orders to pull his troops off the Klamath River Reservation and to establish a new post on or adjacent to the new Smith River Reservation. Stuart lost no time in carrying out his orders. A diarist wrote on June 10, 1862, that the day was "memorable for the departure of the 1st detachment in the evacuation of Fort Ter-Waw. At early dawn the captain with 39 men took boats down the river to its mouth, then overland to Crescent City." The rest of Company G, 2d California Infantry, followed within two days, and Fort Ter-Waw had been abandoned and was soon forgotten. [52]

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Last Updated: 15-Jan-2004