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

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Dreadful Massacre!

Daily British Colonist, May 12, 1864
Murder of 14 of the Bute Inlet Road Party by Indians
Miraculous Escape of 3 of the Men

The steamer Emily Harris arrived yesterday morning, at 8 o'clock, from Nanaimo, bringing intelligence of one of the most fearful tragedies which it have yet befallen any of Her Majesty's subjects in these possessions.

The painful news of the massacre by Indians, in coldblood, of 14 out of 17 of Mr. Waddington's road party at Bute Inlet, spread like wild fire through the town, and so soon as particulars of the savage outrage were known the public mind became imbued with a deep-rooted desire for prompt and signal retribution.

The following details of this sad affair which we gathered from the three survivors who arrived by the steamer must send a thrill through the heart of every person possessed of the ordinary feelings of humanity.

Petersen and Buckley, the two wounded men, are now in the Royal Hospital, receiving every attention which their cases demand and we are happy to learn that their wounds are not considered serious.

Peter Petersen's Statement.

My name is Peter Peterson; I am a native of Denmark; I worked at Bute Inlet last summer, and was one of the party who was lost and nearly starved, trying to reach Cariboo. I joined Mr. Waddington's party and commenced working 23rd March last. I was lying in a tent by myself asleep on Friday night week; the whole party, 12 in number, were fast asleep, suspecting nothing. About daybreak, I heard two shots fired; I started up and rushed out of the tent; I saw two Indians firing into the tent next to me. One of them on seeing me rushed up and aimed a blow with the butt-end of his musket. I succeeded in warding off the blow, and jumped away, when another Indian came up with a large axe and struck at me with both hands. I jumped to one side, and the axe struck the ground. I then ran to the bank of the river and got behind a tree to hide myself, as I saw the Indian who first struck at me coming up with a musket to shoot. The Indian waited for two minutes for a chance to shoot, and was gradually getting closer to me, at last he fired and shot me in the left arm, the ball passing through my wrist.

I then jumped into the stream, which was running fast, the blood poured profusely from my wound, and discolored the water. The Indian, probably thinking I was killed, did not attempt to follow me, and I was carried down by the stream about a quarter of a mile, being much bruised by rolling over the stones and snags. I only heard two shots fired after I jumped into the water. I was stopped by a large stone in the stream, and crawled out, and walked a few hundred yards, when I was overtaken by Mosley, and as I was unable to walk fast, Mosley went on down to the ferry, and I found him there about an hour afterwards.

Buckley's Statement.

My name is Philip Buckley; I am a native of Ireland. I was one of Mr. Waddington's road party engaged to work on the Bute Inlet trail. On Friday night week our party of 12 men retired to rest in the camp as usual, nothing having occurred to raise any suspicion that danger was at hand. I was lying asleep in a tent with another man when about daybreak I received a severe blow on my head, dealt by an Indian, who had stealthily entered the tent and struck me with the butt-end of a musket. Though partially stunned and confused I jumped up and rushed to the door of the tent where I met two Indians, who stabbed at me several times with long knives. I received one wound to the right loin, another in the left and a third severe cut in my left wrist. I dropped down between the two Indians, who left me, imagining, no doubt, that I was killed. I then crawled into some brush wood and there fainted away from loss of blood.

In about an hour I came to my senses and heard a noise going on in the camp but could not see what was being done. I fancied the men were engaged in packing away the things from our camp. I managed to crawl a distance of about 150 yards to some water, where I drank eagerly, and remained there till about 5 o'clock; I felt stronger after quenching my thirst, and started off for Brewster's camp. I had gone about half a mile when I detected the same Indians encamped, and I turned back and remained all night near the spot I left. The next morning before daylight I started off and made the best of my way, though very weak, to the ferry, where I was rejoiced to find Petersen and Mosley.

Mosley's Statement.

I am an Englishman, and came here from California in June last. Spent the season in Cariboo. I was one of the party who were attacked on the Bute Inlet trail on the 30th April. We were encamped at the foot of the 3d bluff. Mr. Brewster, Clark, Gaudet and Desmarest, were on ahead; I was in a tent with Fielding and Campbell on the morning referred to, and about daybreak I was awakened by two Indians coming to the door of the tent; they did not enter, but raised it up and whooped at the same time each of them fired on either side of me. I was lying in the centre. They then let the tent down; the ridge pole fell on the top of me and the tent covered all three of us. While lying in this position, I saw knives on each side of me come through the tent and pierce the bodies of my two companions. I could see through the side of the tent, and observing Indians going to the other tents, I jumped up and plunged into the river, which was about two steps from me. I could not identify who those Indians were, but they were dressed something like the Indians who were with us; one had red blankets made like leggings, which I had noticed before.

After going down the river about 100 yards, I got out and saw the Indians, men, women and children, shouting and hallooing where the cook's tent and provisions were. I then turned away and proceeded towards the ferry, meeting with Peterson about two miles below.

I never heard or knew of any difference between our people and the Chilcoaten Indians. The number who travelled about with us was usually from 12 to 15, without reckoning families, and some Clayooshes or Homathco, named Indian Jim, George, and Squint Eye, who did general work about the camp. About the same number was with us on the night preceding the attack. I could identify all of the Chilcoaten Indians if I saw them.

Escape of the survivors.

On reaching the ferry we were unable to cross, and lay in the brushwood fearing the Indians might come that way. About ten o'clock a young Clayoose Indian who [escaped?] from the murder at Brewster's party, came down, and we hailed him, but he seemed afraid and ran away. Mosley followed him a short distance, but the boy would not allow him to approach. We stopped there all night in a small log-house, having barricaded the door and armed ourselves with clubs in case we were attacked.

On the following forenoon Buckley arrived in a very weak state. Buckley being a sailor strapped himself to a travelling loop made with the strand of a rope, and hauled himself over on the line stretched across the river, which is about 200 yards wide at the ferry. He then sent over the travelling-block, and Peterson and Mosley were hauled over. The three men then proceeded in search of some provisions, and found some bacon and tea in the home where Tim Smith, the ferryman, had been been killed on the Friday previous.

They remained there until three p. m. when Sampson and Cadman, two packers, arrived from the Town site, with five Clayoose Indians in search of them, having heard from the Indian boy that they were lying at the Ferry. The Indians patched up a skiff which was lying there, and Mosley and Petersen went down the river in it, the others proceeding on foot. They reached [Stongh?] Camp the [two word illegible] day, and a canoe then came up from the Town site to bring the party away. They arrived at the latter [place?] on Tuesday, the 3rd May and on the following day left for Nanaimo in a canoe, and arrived there on Saturday night where they received the greatest attention from Mr. Auguste Pujol, of the French Hostel, for whose kind consideration the party express themselves very grateful.

No Incentive to the Crime.

The survivors state distinctly that they are not aware of the least provocation given to the Indians to commit these deeds of atrocity. They were always treated kindly and received presents of tobacco and other articles, besides food from the working party. There had been no quarrel between them and the white men and although several articles were stolen at different times from the camp, no notice had been taken of the circumstance, and the Road party had not attempted reprisals. They consider that they treated the wretches too kindly and reposed too much confidence in them, which the sequel showed.

About a week before an Indian of the same tribe, though under a different chief, had tried to steal some provisions out of the cook's tent, but Buttle was too wide awake for him, and caused the Indian to run and leave his blanket behind him, which was subsequently handed over to the chief. Some blankets were also stolen from the camp, and squaws belonging to Tilloot's family informed the men of the camp of the fact, and said the thieves had left for Benshee. Neither of these circumstances, so far as the survivors are aware, had induced any ill feeling.

The Fate of Brewster's Party.

The only information which the survivors could glean of the fate of Brewster's party was obtained from the young Indian boy. It would seem that the blood-thirsty villains after the fearful tragedy already recounted had been enacted, must have proceeded at once to Brewster's camp, which was situated about 2 miles up the river, and found the four men astir. The Indians suddenly fired upon Clark, Gaudet, and Baptiste. Clark and Baptiste fell, but Gaudet was only wounded and immediately received a second shot; the boy saw them kill these three men. Brewster had gone on to mark the trail out, and the Indians left in search of him; the painful inference therefore is that the poor fellow met with the same fate as his companions. The Indian boy was not touched, but got a hint to leave, and ran off at once. On passing the camp where the other men were killed he saw the dead bodies lying there stripped and the camp robbed. He did not observe that the bodies had been mutilated after death.

Murder of Tim Smith.

Nothing was known of the mode in which poor Tim Smith, the ferryman, was made away with. In the tree, at the root of which he made his fire, they found a bullet embedded, and underneath a pool of blood, which led to the presumption that he was shot through the head while standing by the fire. They also saw marks indicating that something had been dragged down to the river, but they discovered no body.

The following are the names of the men who the survivors have every reason to believe were killed: William Brewster, foreman, a Canadian; Charles Buttle, cook (formerly a sapper on the Boundary Commission); Robert Pollock, a Scotchman; George Smith, ditto; James Campbell, ditto; Alexander Millan, ditto; Joseph Fielding, an Englishman; James Openshaw, ditto; Timothy Smith, ditto (formerly a sapper); John Newman, a Norwegian; John Clark, a Canadian; Baptiste Desmarest, French Canadian; James Gaudet, ditto; John Hoffmeyer, or Hoffmann, Bavarian.

(Clark is believed to have been married in Canada.)

Mr. Whymper, artist, and two men named Curtis and Blair, fortunately left the Inlet on the day preceding the attack, and reached Victoria on the 5th inst. At the town-site were the two packers, Alfred Sampson and Geo Cadman.

The three survivors are named Edward Mosley (unhurt), Peter A. Petersen, shot through the wrist and bruised about the body, Philip Buckley, three knife wounds.

We cannot conclude this painful narrative without expressing our sympathy with Mr. Waddington in the trouble which has thus overtaken him. This gentleman has toiled hard, and fought nobly and manfully against the insuperable obstacles which have presented themselves in carrying through the Bute Inlet project, and this unexpected blow must fall heavily upon him just as the horizon was bright with the dawn of success.

Source: "Dreadful Massacre! ," Daily British Colonist, May 12, 1864.

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