Excerpt From, "The Centennial History of Oregon 1811-1911"
By Joseph Gaston * Volume One

From the beautiful Rogue River valley the bloody scenes now shift to the sea coast. About June 1st, 1851, the steam coaster Sea Gull, Captain William Tichenor, master, landed a party of nine men at Port Orford in Curry county, as the first installment of a force that was intended to establish a trading establishment at that point, and open a pack trail from there to the gold mines in Jackson county. The names of these men were, J.M. Kirkpatrick, J.H. Eagan, John T. Slater, George Ridoubs, T.D. Palmer, Joseph Hussey, Cyrus W. Hedden, James Carigan, and Erastus Summers.

Photo Left: Capt. J.M. Kirkpatrick
The Hero of Battle Rock

Tichenor was under contract with the men to give them supplies, rifles and ammunition for defense in case of an attack from the Indians; but on landing the men found they had only three old flint-lock muskets, an old sword and a few pounds of lead and powder and one rifle owned by one of the men. Complaining of this miserable outfit, the gallant captain assured them they needed no arms at all, but these would do to show and scare the Indians as well as good guns. But to make sure of more efficient defense in case of an attack, the men carried off the signal gun from the ship which was about a four-pound cannon. Soon after the men were landed the Indians gathered around and by signs warned them to leave. This intimation [sic] of danger proved their salvation, for they at once set about making ready for an attack. The old cannon was dragged up the sloping end of an immense rock rising out of the edge of the ocean. And upon this rock the men took their outfit of food and blankets, loaded the old cannon with powder and slugs of lead and awaited the attack they felt was coming. As soon as the ship sailed the Indians again ordered the men to leave. There was now no chance to leave. The next morning, June 10, 1851, the great rock was surrounded on the land side with a hundred yelling Indians. Their chief made a loud speech to his warriors, after which with a chorus of yells fifty Indians made a rush for the rock and the balance of them filled the air with arrows aimed at the nine white men. The rock is so shaped that before the Indians could reach the white men they would have to crowd upon and along a narrow space for thirty feet. The old cannon had been trained to sweep that approach, and as the firt Indian reached the muzzle of the cannon, and the narrow approach was crowded with yelling Indians, Captain Kirkpatrick applied the match and thirty Indians were hurled into eternity in the twinkling of an eye. Besides the outright killing of half the attacking party, the balance of the Indians on the rock were so shocked by the loud explosion that they tumbled off into the ocean or rolled down the sides in deadly terror. This terrific repulse sent the whole band remaining alive or unmangled back to their camp in wailing. And that night the defenders packed their pockets and knapsacks with food and set out in the night on foot to reach the white settlements in Umpqua valley more than a hundred miles distant; and finally after incredible hardships in hiding from the pursuing Indians, wading streams, sleeping on the ground in wet clothing and lliving on snails and wild berries they all safely reached the houses of white men. The great rock has ever since gone by the name of Battle Rock, a photo of it and a spirited sketch of the battle appears on another page.


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