We do not know his name: Klatsassin and the Chilcotin War

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A Survivor’s Account

We have received the following account of the frightful tragedy from Mr. Edwin Mosley, one of the survivors, and the only member of the party who escaped uninjured: He says that the attack was made on Friday 30th, April, at daybreak. The party to which he belonged was twelve in number, and were sleeping in 6 tents, about nine miles above the ferry where it was subsequently ascertained that Tim Smith had been previously murdered, and near the third bluff. The first intimation which Mr. Mosley said he had heard of the attack was when two Indians came to the tent - in which himself and two others, named Joseph and James Campbell, were sleeping. The savages were armed with muskets, axes, and knives and lifted up the end of the tent, whooped and fired immediately - shooting Fielding and Campbell, and pulling the tent down on top of them. They then took their knives and axes and hacked out through the canvas at our informant’s two companions, soon despatching them - Mosley - upon whom the tentpole had fallen, lay perfectly quiet and was not struck. The Indians, thinking that all three were dead, rushed to attack another tent, when our informant crawled from beneath the canvas and plunged into the river, which was only about two steps distant - and ran through the water which was knee deep - stooping down beneath the bank and brush to escape observation. He was not seen. After running about 100 yards he turned and looking towards the scene of slaughter saw a large number of Indians squaws and children, gathered around the tent where the provisions were kept, which was occupied by Chas. Bottle (an ex-sapper and miner) who acted as cook for the party. They had evidently killed Bottle, and were dividing the provisions.

Mosely continued his flight down the river for a mile, jumping from boulder to boulder on the bank,- when he saw a man ahead of him crawling along. He at first took him to be one of the murderers: but on approaching he saw that he was one of his company - Peter Peterson, a Dane - who had been shot in the left arm and had escaped from the scene of massacre in a manner similar to Mosely. He was very weak and suffered much from his wound. The two continued on down the river for a distance of two miles, when the wounded man gave out, and crawled along the rocks to hide, while Mosely wnet on to the ferry to get assistance. On arriving at the ferry, our informant shouted to the ferryman to take him across, but receiving no response, got tired and went into the brush, and laid down for a half an hour, when Peterson, who had partially recovered his strength arrived, and also halloed with like ill success. Thinking that the ferryman might be asleep the two continued to shout at intervals, during the day without success, however. The ferryman, poor fellow was deaf to all earthly calls.

They remained on the same side till next day, at noon when they were joined by Buckley, another survivor of the massacre, who had been struck while asleep in his tent, on the head with a musket by an Indian; he sprang up, and knocked his assailant down with his fist and made for the door of his tent, where he was met by two Indians, both of whom stabbed him in each side simultaneously. He raised his arm to strike one of them, when he was cut in the arm, and fell to the ground. Then they rushed into the tent and despatched the other occupant - John Hoffman, an old Puget Sound hunter. Buckley, when he revived crept into the brush and laid down until noon of the same day; he then crawled along towards where Brewster's tent had been pitched - about two miles ahead. On nearing the spot after dark he saw fires burning, and heard dogs barking, and as there were no dogs with Brewster’s party he rightly concluded that that party had likewise fallen victims. He laid among the rocks until about daylight, when he started towards the ferry, which he reached without encountering any more Indians. After Buckley had joined Mosely and Peterson, the three fixed a loop in the guy-rope which is stretched across the river; into this loop Buckley got, and worked himself along slowly inch by inch until he was within 12 feet of the opposite bank, when he dropped into the river and swam ashore. The others succeeded in crossing by the same means, and found that the ferry skiff had been cut to pieces with axes; and the house plundered of nearly everything. By the side of the fire where the ferryman usually cooked his meals, there was a great pool of blood, and from thence to the river there was a trail as if some body having been dragged along the ground and thrown into the water.

About an hour afterwards two packers, French Canadians, with five Bute Inlet Indians, came up the river from the head of the Inlet. They had heard of the massacre from an Indian who had worked for Brewster’s party, and who had been saved by the Chilcootens, who told him to leave. This Indian reported that he came through the camp from which Mosley and his companions had escaped, and saw nine dead bodies of white men striped naked and lying on the bank - the bodies being frightfully mangled. The Chilcootens told him that he had better clattawa and gave him a knife, to defend himself in case he came across any white men. He added that the murderers came on three of Brewster’s party, about seven o’clock on the same morning, and shot them while working. Two of the murderers had started to kill Mr. Brewster, who was a short distance ahead engaged in blazing the trail, when the friendly Indians left. The packers and friendly Indians were armed to the teeth. The ferry skiff was repaired, and the two wounded men, two Indians, one of the packers and Mr. Mosely, floated down the river to the Half-way House. 15 miles above the head of the Inlet, where they met another friendly Indian with a large canoe who took them all to the town-site. This was on Tuesday at noon. They stopped at the town-site until the next day, at noon, when they started in a canoe, manned by two Bute Inlet Indians and one of the packers, for Nanaimo, which place they reached about dusk on Saturday night and received every attention from the inhabitants and medical treatment until Tuesday, when they left for Victoria, the Emily Harris, reaching here about 8 o’clock yesterday morning.

Mr. Mosely said that the Indians had always expressed themselves as friendly towards the whites and that no difficulty had ever occurred between them and any of the men; They were all in the employ of the company. Peterson says that the man who shot him was employed in packing drills from the blacksmith shop. The object of the attack was undoubtedly plunder.

Source: Edwin Mosely, "A Survivor's Account," Daily Chronicle, May 12, 1864.

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Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History