*Old Camp Watson is located in a section of Wheeler Co., which originally was part of Grant.

The following is from an article written by Jack Steiver, Fossil writer:

"About 15 miles east of Mitchell the road again leaves our major highway for a gravel county road.

The site of Camp Watson is located off the county road a few miles. None of the Camp itself remains, but the grave markers of Second Lieutenant Stephan Watson and his men of the First Oregon Volunteer Cavalry, who were massacred on May 17, 1864, are still intact. Camp Watson was one of the military bases used to protect miners and settlers heading inland, and also as a depot for the Canyon City Road Expedition. The Camp itself housed probably 100 troops in log buildings with shingled roofs and in the formation of a stockade.

As you view these grave markers, miles from even a lone farm house, a sort of nostalgic admiration overcomes you - an admiration for the pride and bravery of those who lost their lives in the settlement of this great country."


OLD CAMP IS HONORED - WAS IMPORTANT STATION ON THE ROAD
BETWEEN CANYON CITY AND THE DALLES IN THE EARLY DAYS

Was A U.S. Camp - Chief Paulina in 1864 with a band of Indians made
a raid on settlers and killed several soldiers.


Camp Watson is now only a memory in the minds of a few pioneers who recall that it was once the most important military camp in eastern Oregon, during the years when Indians were making trouble for the settler, the miner, and the immigrant. Camp Watson can not now be found on the auto road map. Once it was the chief station on the road between The Dalles and Canyon City and is a little over halfway between Mitchell and Antone in Wheeler County. After the very rich mines were discovered in eastern Oregon and the Canyon City mines were the very richest "diggings", there was a continual stream of people on the road both going and coming.

This stream of people was a great temptation to the Indians. Freight wagons with ox team or mule or horse teams, saddle trains, pack trains, all loaded with what the Indian needed and the fact that the "whites" were taking the country, an incentive to the marauding Indians, and attacks on these caravans and the passenger stages by the Snake Indians were of frequent occurance; and Fort Dalles was too far away to render immediate service against the marauding Indians.

Camp Watson was the product of the necessity, which was in the heart of the Blue Mountains and in the vastness of the Snake Indian Nation.

Camp Watson got its name from this bit of history. Second Lieutenant Stephen Watson was killed by Chief Paulina's band of Indians on May 18, 1864 in an encounter between the Indians and the military forces sent out from Fort Dalles. Two soldiers lost their lives at the same time. Their names were Bennett Kennedy and James Harkins.

The files of "The Mountaineer" of 3/09/1867 referred to this incident mentioning no names of the gallant officer and men who met their death at the hands of a band of Snakes, who were the leaders of Indian warfare: "March 19, 1867 - In the Spring of 1864, an expedition was fitted out at Fort Dalles by the government, well-known as the 'Crooked River Expedition', and sent out into the Snake country to chastise all hostile Indians found in that section. This expedition proved a failure, as many citizens of The Dalles well recollect. On the evening of the 17th of May, the Indian scouts that accompanied the expedition, reported that they had discovered a camp of Snake Indians about 15 miles off.

The same evening the commanding officer sent out a detachment to chastise them, but the result it appears that this detachment failed to carry out the 'published orders' and returned to camp badly whipped, thoroughly demoralized and with the loss of one officer and two privates killed, and six or seven wounded. The Indian scouts lost their chief, Stock Whitley, one young brave killed, and several wounded.

The officer who commanded this expedition had never had any experience in Indian fighting, and therefore was incompetent for the position. Chief Stock Whitley, who was a Des Chutes Indian, was killed in the same battle as Watson. Stock Whitley was well known by the pioneer residents of The Dalles. He rarely came to town that he did not have to 'cool off' in the 'shookum house' at Ft. Dalles, on account of his excessive love for the white man's firewater, before he was permitted to return to the illahie of his father on the Des Chutes. Lt. Watson's body sleeps at Camp Watson, beneath the pines, in a deserted soldiers' graveyard with eleven other soldier boys, who also lost their lives at the hands of the Indians, that eastern Oregon might be a safe place for living."



From the Blue Mountain Eagle
June 17, 1932

WILL MEET AT OLD FORT MEMORIAL EXERCISES WILL BE HELD ON JUNE 26 AT CAMP WATSON WHERE SOLDIERS AND INDIANS MET IN WAR

Established in 1866 - This camp was the outpost of Canyon City and protected the miners and settlers against the red man.

Veterans of all wars will meet Sunday, June 26, at Camp Watson. This was the old fort where soldiers were stationed to protect the few settlers and the many miners at Canyon City from the Indians, who at intravels donned their war paint and feathers.

Headstones with military honors will be erected for members of the U.S. Cavalry who were killed or died in the Indian Wars of 1866 - 67. There were seven of them. The public is invited and they are asked to bring a basket lunch; coffee will be furnished by the Memorial Association. The ceremony will be conducted by the Legion. W.B. Cox of the Crook County Post, Prineville, is the chairman of the Camp Watson Memorial Committee, assisted by Somichil Post, Past Commander. The Grant County Post will affiliate.

Camp Watson is in Wheeler County, originally part of Grant. Take the Dayville-Mitchell highway, and turn off one quarter mile east from the Laughlin place on the road to the Trouchet ranch. The road is posted.

Martin Lucas of Canyon City had some experience soldiering during the days of the Indian wars. There are but three of the old veterans left in the county. W.W. Armstrong was at Camp Logan near Prairie City, and Dan Morrow also saw service here.

Mr. Lucas arrived at Camp Watson in the spring of 1866 with Co. F-23rd Infantry - 112 men. They came from Ft. Vancouver and it was Bob Lockwood who moved the soldiers in from The Dalles with wagons and pack horses. This was a Two-company post and with the Infantry was Co. 1-1st Cavalry. The Indians were continually harrassing the settlers and would have an open season on the whites, and then the soldiers would go into action and have to tame the redskin. One night an Indian sneaked up to the corral in Indian style and got the gate open and with a blood-curdling war whoop stampeded the cattle. It took several weeks to round up the livestock and the Indians. The soldiers were instructed not to kill the Indians. One of the buglers came in with seven scalps hanging from his belt. He claimed that they were horse tails and passed muster.

Those were exciting days. One never knew from hour to hour where the Indians were smoking the pipe of peace or planning some deviltry and it kept the men at this old historic camp alert.


Excerpt Taken From: Ralph Fisk - Oregon Pioneer


After Camp Watson was established on the mountain the other side of Rock Creek with a company of U.S. soldiers in 1865, they kept the Indians pretty well on the alert that year. Then the Govt. ordered Camp Watson abandoned, and established Camp Logan on Strawberry in 1866, with a company of Cavalry and a company of Infantry with Col. Otis as commander. Shortly after, a small band of Indians came down Pap Creek in the head of the valley, and stole several head of horses. As soon as the news reached Camp Logan, Lt. Pike, with a detachment of 20 cavalry soldiers, were on their trail. The Indians had gone up Pap Creek and at the headwaters of the North fork of the Malheur River, camped for the night. Lt. Pike, arriving on one of the high peaks, with his field glasses saw their camp fire and, it being late in the evening, decided to wait until daylight, and not being discovered yet by the Indians, secreted his men out of sight until close to morning. Then they sneaked down close to the Indian camp and waited for daylight. And just as it was getting daylight, made a charge, rode right into their camp and routed them while sleeping in their blankets. They were so surprised that some of them didn't have time to get their guns or anything else. After killing several of the Indians before they could get away, the soldiers captured everything, their camp outfit, horses and all. Lt. Pike, seeing a gun left in camp by the Indians, picked it up by the muzzle and, hitting it around a tree to confiscate it, it went off hitting him in the groin, wounding him badly. Some of the soldiers made a stretcher and packed him back to Camp Logan, a distance of about 20 miles. There was about 12 to 15 Indians in the band, but few got away. The soldiers, under the leadership of Lt. Pike, did good work. In a few days blood poison set in and Lt. Pike died at Camp Logan and was buried there with all military honors, a large crowd of private citizens along with myself attended the funeral. My mother furnished the necktie and put it on him the day of the funeral in remembrance of the bravery and good of Lt. Pike. Wm. Armstrong, who now lives close to Susanville on the middle fork of the John Day, was with Lt. Pike. He was the bugler on this trip and at Camp Logan. Wm. Armstrong is the one who got the privilege from the government to dig up and reship the Lieutenant's body to the Govt. Cemetery at Walla Walla, Washington about 34 years after.