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

Brew to the Governor of British Columbia

Camp Lake Tathalco
18 August

[ Palmer Map, Nimpoh Detail, Lt. H.S. Palmer, drawn by J. Turnball, British Columbia Surveyor General's Branch Vault, Roads and Trails Drawer ]


I have the honor to state that the letter I addressed to you from Mr. Cox's Camp should have been dated 3rd Instead of 4th of August. As I said on that day the mule train arrived at Mr. Cox's Camp laden with provisions. On the following day the mules conveyed half the provisions to my camp which gave me a supply of flour for 26 days and bacon for only half that time. Mr. Cox kept the mule train for the use of his party and handed over to me ten of the horses he had been packing during the expedition. As my own horses were very much knocked up by hard work I had to hire 6 additional horses to assist in carrying my supplies.

I broke up camp at Benshee on the 7th inst. and arrived here on the 12th. We ought to have marched the distance in three days but our horses were not equal to the long journeys. As I knew nothing of the country about I sent Mr. Elwyn with one party of men while I took another party on the morning of the 13th to examine the Trails and ascertain in what directions they lie. Mr. Elwyn took a Trail over the mountains to the east (Tathalco lies nearly north and south) and returned to camp after about 13 hours march. He saw McLeans lake the Meamia and several other lakes he found where a number of shod horses had been picketed but could discover no other trace of the Indians. I made my way sometimes by trail and sometimes through bush along the Bank of the lake and fancying when about 20 miles from camp that I found traces of the Indians I resolved to push on till we found them. We passed along the end of the lake from which a river flows that falls into the Homathco visiting several camps lately occupied by Indians in one of which they had eaten a shod horse.

We marched into the coast range mountains about 60 miles from our camp but never saw an Indian except those belonging to our party. In a very fine valley in the heart of the mountains we visited a camp ground only recently abandoned by the Indians. They had evidently been residing there for a good while as the valley is a garden of berry trees all of which had been well stripped of their fruit. They had several horses tied up in their camp which they sometimes picketed out to feed. Although we were almost without a morsel to eat we would have pressed on farther trusting to exist on berries but we were stopped by a broad deep Alpine River at the far side of the Valley which falls into the river flowing from Lake Tathalco. The Indians I think got to the other side of the river as the underwood was on fire. I do not know how they crossed but I believe they passed down in Canoes from the Lake.

We made a forty mile march on the fourth day and got back to camp very much exhausted. Several of us would not have got back that night if Mr. Elwyn had not thoughtfully sent out provisions by Indians some 15 miles to meet us. Our Indians say the Chilcotans would not have let the bush take fire only they were moving off and they think they are gone towards the sea to fish as in this month the Great Salmon Run takes place. I am going to send Mr. Elwyn on a raft down the river from the lake tomorrow. If he doesnt find trace of the Indians, I do not know where to look for them. I have only 14 bags flour in camp and as it would be 21 days before the pair could return from Alexandria I must fall back from this position several days march. Mr. Cox arranged to march in this direction from Chilcotin till he came within 12 miles of me but I am informed that he subsequently changed his plans and decided on staying 12 days at Alexis' about 30 miles from Benshee while he sent the mule train back to Alexandria for supplies. I beg leave to enclose some notes I received from him.

Mr. Cox sent an Indian named Joe, son of Tapit one of the Murderers, to Klatassin with a message. He let him ride one of the Gov. horses and Mr. Ogilvie escorted him as far as my camp at Benshee. This Joe had two days start of us and I am almost certain we trailed his horse into every Indian Camp we visited. He may have been searching for Klatassin but unless he brings him to Mr. Cox I must suspect that he warned the Indians of our approach. Bella Coola Tom volunteered to go to Anaheim but at Sutlith he met some of Ahans men who accused him of assisting in burning their houses, he says they were going to shoot him. He was afraid to go on to [Niconctlan?]. As soon as I have communication with Mr. Cox I shall write again to Your Excellency. It is quite possible the Indians may have surrendered to him for they never I am sure expected that we would get so far into their mountains as we did and I believe they are well frightened.

I have the honor to be
Your Excellencys
Obedient Servant

C. Brew

Source: BCA, Colonial Correspondence, GR-1372, F193/15, Mflm B1310, Chartres Brew, Letter to the Governor of British Columbia, August 18, 1864.

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