Western Immigrants Battle Native Americans

 

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Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

 

The welcome peace after the American Civil War brought only tragedy to the Native American Indians of the West. The September 2016 Delancey Place blog features the book, Citizen Sherman by Michael Fellman. 

 

With the North-South war behind them, Generals Sherman, Grant, and Sheridan turned their energies to battling the Western Indians.

The buffalo-hunting warlike Indians were directly in the path of the transcontinental railroads—keys to the planned Western expansion. General William Tecumseh Sherman stated to general Ulysses Grant, “We are not going to let a few thieving, ragged Indians check and stop the progress of [the railroads], a work of national and world-wide importance.”

The army guarded the developing railroads to such an extent that Indian raids could no longer slow construction. Encroaching pioneer settlers joined the army in slaughtering the buffalo, the Native American food supply, as well as assassinating their young warriors. Disease and starvation reduced the remaining Indians  to dependency and ultimately, to reservations.

Army casualties were light during these battles; fewer men were lost than in an average Civil War battle. “It is all moonshine about the great cost of the war,” Sherman bragged to a friend in 1875.

 

 

Maine and Virginia Pioneers 400 years ago

 

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Photo Credit; Wikimedia Creative Commons, Attribution Peter Isotalo

 

The Historical Diaries notes a 1622 letter from immigrant Sebastian Brandt from Jamestown Virginia. Almost in passing, he writes of his wife’s and brother’s earlier deaths. Illness kept him from “travel up and down the hills and dales for good mineralls of golde, silver, and copper. He seems to have died soon after sending his letter.

Maine, considered a part of Virginia at that time, was settled before Jamestown, Virginia in 1607 when Sir George Popham led a group of pioneer explorers to what is now midcoast Maine . But after just one winter spent on the gale buffeted ledges where the firs marched down the rocks to the  bitter Atlantic, the colonists decided this northernVirginia was too cold. They built a ship, called it “The Virginia,” and sailed back to England—thereby allowing the Jamestown colony to claim that they were the first permanent settlement on the East Coast.

Maine started a seafaring tradition on her coast that continues to this day. In the heyday of sail, the state boasted 250 shipbuilders. The wooden boats they build today still hold more cachet than their modern fiberglass replacements.

Seattle, Canada, and the Klondike Gold Rush

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Prospectors ascending the Chilcoot Pass, 1898, courtesy Wikimedia Commons

 

100,000 prospectors joined the Klondike Gold Rush stampede between 1896 and 1899, most of them, embarking either from Seattle or San Francisco. They followed either the Chilcoot or White Pass trails to reach the Yukon River and wait for the ice to melt before they navigated the Klondike River to reach the gold fields.

Canadian authorities required the prospectors to bring a year’s supply of food, or they would have starved. Most of them spent the winter carrying their supplies, weighing close to a ton, in several trips over the passes themselves. Some, who fell, just careened back down the mountain.

My father, Hans Pederson, a pioneer Danish immigrant, was one of the 30,000 who actually reached the Yukon. After a bout of pneumonia, he did make it back to Seattle, although with empty pockets. He later bought stock in the Alaska Reindeer Company, and today I have several of his worthless stock certificates His partner, who was in more of a hurry to leave the Yukon,  abandoned Pederson and drowned when his ship sank on the way back to Seattle.

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