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John Hagerty reports Indian attack, 1860


Posted By: S. Ferrall (email)
Date: 4/15/2006 at 13:16:17

Indian Hostilities on the Northern Route

After the communication of Hon. J.C. Wright, published in this number, was in type, Mr. John Hagerty, one of the emigrants who was in the company attacked and despoiled by the Indians, near City Rocks, to which occurrence the communication refers, called at our office and gave a full detail of the assault and robbery, from which it appears; that on the arrival of the company at Col. Lowe's encampment, on the Portneuf, near old Fort Hall, on or about the 1st of September, the Colonel detailed an escort of ten or twelve nem, under Sergeant Barry, to accompany them on their way a few days. After
proceeding some sixty or seventy miles, seeing no signs of Indians, the escort returned back on the morning of the 6th, leaving the company to pursue their journey unprotected. Without molestation they proceeded to within five miles of City Rocks, near the junction with the Salt Lake road, where they encamped on the evening of the 7th, by a small stream known as Rapid creek.

At about eleven o'clock at night an attack was made on them by a small party of Indians who, on finding the emigrants ready to give them a warm reception, drew off, after firing eight or ten guns, and came up again on the other side of their camp, where, by taking advantage of the light of the moon which had just risen, they could fire upon the company with greater accuracy, and, at the same time, be hid from the view of the emigrants and measurably secure from their fire.

After continuing the assault about one hour and a half, (during which time they fired some fifty or sixty shots and an indefinite number of arrows, many of which struck the wagons without further injury than perforating them and their contents with holes) they decamped driving off thirty head of cattle, mostly oxen that were used in the teams, which, being tired, had not strayed far from camp.

The emigrants kept up a good watch during the balance of the night, and the next morning picked up twenty-five arrows around their camp, some of which were sticking in their wagons, which had also been pierced with many balls. No Indians were seen, but a sharp look out was kept up during that day and following night, but at about the same time in the evening that the attack was made the night before, thirteen of the oxen that had been driven off returned, which convinced the party that the red skins had not gone far away, and that they were lurking about, seeking for a chance to attack them again under more favorable circumstances than at first.

On the forenoon of the 9th, the emigrants concluded to move their camp about two hundred yards to a more favorable position, but before they had detached all their teams from the wagons, after moving them, the Indians commenced another attack more fierce than the first, as they were in greater force, Mr. Hagerty being of the opinion that they were at least one hundred strong.

Seeing no chance of saving their lives only by flight, the whole party, with the exception of Hagerty, managed, by retreating into the bed of the creek among the willows, to elude the savages and to get away unobserved by passing over a mountain and taking the road back towards Fort Hall, leaving Hagerty, supposing that he had been killed. He, however, after two or three arrows were shot through his clothes, and several balls had whistled near without striking him, also escaped into the willows and hid himself, but was watched so closely by the Indians that he could not get away safely, and remained in his hiding place nearly four days, without food, excepting a few berries which he found by crawling about on his hands and knees, to keep out of the sight of the savages, who were watching for him and the rest of the party all the time, evidently supposing that they were yet hidin the brush, and that none of them had made good their escape.

Mr. Hagerty reports that the Indians were at the wagons immediately on their being abandoned by the emigrants, and without waiting to plunder them to any great extent, with much dexterity attached some of the oxen to them and drove off,
taking one nearly a mile, the others a less distance, before rifling them of their contents. He is very confident that there were
white men among the Indians in disguise. He positively saw one individual with short hair, who had on a pair of fine boots, and a pair of pants, but otherwise dressed and painted like an Indian, and when the attacking party were hitching the oxen to the wagons and driving them off, they spoke to the cattle in good English. He says that he was decidedly uneasy during the
time he was compelled to remain in the brush, as the Indians were about him in every direction as thick as bees, and he did not know what ultimately might be his fate, neither what had become of those who had got away.

As soon as the Indians drew off on the night of the 7th, the emigrants despatched two men, John Brock and Thomas Graham, to inform Col. Howe of their situation and solicit assistance. The messengers proceeded with all possible speed
and overtook the escort under Sergeant Barry, before they reached camp, but they were short of rations and could not go to the relief of the emigrants until they could receive a supply.

On hearing of the attack, Col. Howe sent out a company of twenty-five men, under Lieut. Sanders, to the assistance of the party, who, proceeding without delay, arrived at the scene of disaster some time on the afternoon of the 12th, much to the joy of Hagerty, who was in a very perilous condition. The Indians on seeing the troops soon hid themselves and kept out of

At March creek, on his way to the relief of the party, Lieut. Sanders met the refugees, who were in a suffering condition, being without food and not having a sufficiency of clothing. Administering to their necessities as far as in his power, under the circumstances, he left part of his command for their protection, and proceeded on with the remainder, but recovered none of the emigrant's property, excepting one yoke of oxen, the balance having been destroyed or taken away.

On the morning of the 13th, the troops returned but, after startling, a party of some five or six, wishing to take an excursin to see if they could not find some of the Indians and gain a little renown by fighting them, had leave to do so, and got into a bigger fight than they wanted, with a few of the rascals who were lying in ambush, upon whom they came unexpectedly, and
Hagerty reports that there were some splendid feats of horsemanship performed before they overtook or rejoined the balance of the command.

Lieut. Sanders took the entire party back to Col. Howe's camp, and from thence they came in with the troops returning to Camp Floyd and arrived here yesterday.

The names of the persons composing the emigrant company, as given by Mr. Hagerty, were William, John and _____ Brock, John Green and a German, name unknown, from DeWitt county, Ill.; Herbert Thomas, wife and three children, his wife's
mother - Mrs. Chambers and Thomas Graham, from LaFayette county, Wis.; ____ Pierce, wife and two children, from Carroll county, Ill.; John Hagerty, from McGregor's Landing, Clayton county, Iowa, and John Christianson of California, with three wagons and about one hundred and fifty head of cattle and a few horses.

How many more small straggling companies of emigrats, passing over that route late in the season, will be used up before it becomes generally known that they cannot travel safely in that manner, is not known. In this instance, it was fortunate indeed that all the persons escaped unhurt.

Deseret News, Millard co. Utah Territory
October 3, 1860

Transcribers Notes: The 1860 Federal census, Clayton co., Giard twp. shows two different men named John Hagerty. One of them (or neither) could be the same man named in the news article above:
Family #1198 - John Hagerty, age 30 b. Ireland; Jane, age 20 b. Ireland; Daniel, age 1 b. Iowa and Dennis, age 18 b. Ireland.

Family #1253 - John Hagerty, age 30 b. Ireland; Marion, age 25 b. Ireland; Josephine, age 7 b. Iowa; Nancy, age 5 b. Iowa and John, age 3 b. Iowa.

I can't find either of the above families on the 1870 US census in Clayton co. or anywhere else. If anyone knows more about the John Hagerty who gave the news report, please contact me & I'll add it to this posting.


Clayton Documents maintained by Sharyl Ferrall.
WebBBS 4.33 Genealogy Modification Package by WebJourneymen


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