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

The Chilcoaten Expedition

Diary of a Volunteer

Daily British Colonist, October 15, 1864

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

The expedition remained in the vicinity of the lakes near Manning’s ranch for several days, scouting in all directions round their camp, for a circuit of twenty to thirty miles, but failing to come in contact with any body of the Indians. On several occasions some of the natives came into the camp with professedly friendly intentions, and were allowed by Mr. Brew to range about at will, although in the opinion of many of the volunteers they were sent in as spies, and kept their tillicums fully posted as to the doings and intentions of the party. Women and children were frequently lounging about the camp, and one morning our journalist remarks that a stalwart Chilcoaten warrior, with musket on his shoulder and attended by his klootchmen, stalked into camp and remained all day taking a klosch nannich, and then walked away without a word being said to him, to the indignation of the volunteers who seemed to think that a little judicious coercion would have wrung from him some valuable information.

The party now began to experience considerable hardships from scarcity of food, being placed on short rations; they managed, however, to catch a number of fish (suckers) and a scouting party, under Mr. Elwyn, the second in command, of whose energy and pluck the volunteers speak highly, discovered some Indian caches, containing dried fish and other Siwash muckamuck, which helped to eke out their supplies. The weather about this time was rather rainy. On July 18th, while the party were encamped near Manning’s, an express from Mr. Cox’s expedition arrived with the information that all the party would come in the following day, which they accordingly did; they also were on short allowance. Mr. Brew’s party here received the news of poor McLean’s death, of which our journalist furnishes the following interesting account:

Information having been received by Mr. Cox that some Chilcoatens were in ambush on a hill near the camp, McLean, accompanied only by a Shuswap Indian, at once started up the hill in quest of the skulking savages. Proceeding cautiously along the trail, which bore passes over the hill, his experienced eye immediately caught sight of a slight screen of fir boughs piled against the trunk of a tall tree, and commanding the approach. He at once threw forward his rifle and prepared to fire, but for once Indian cunning proved too much even for his thorough knowledge of Indian tactics. The screen of boughs was only a skilfully prepared blind, and while McLean’s eagle eye was fixed on the spot expecting to see the muzzle of a musket protruded, the sharp click of a gunlock was heard from a clump of willows on the opposite side of the trail, and before he could follow the warning example of his quick eared companion, who hastily threw himself down, a bullet pierced the unfortunate man through and through, and he fell dead without a groan. The Shuswap Indian, over whose prostrate body the second ball passed harmlessly, at once sprung to his feet, and on gaining cover looked round for his assailants, whom he observed making off along the hill-side. He speedily hastened to camp with the sad news, and a party of ten under Buckley, one of the Bute survivors, started out in pursuit, but without effect, further than getting a flying shot at 1200 yards at the retreating savages. The whole party then surrounded the hill on three sides, the fourth being guarded by a deep lagoon about sixty yards in width. The crafty rascals however managed to elude the vigilance of their pursuers by diving across the lagoon, the volunteers firing at them, but ineffectually, as they emerged on the other side.

To be Continued)

Source: "The Chilcoaten Expedition, Diary of a Volunteer (continued)," Daily British Colonist, October 15, 1864.

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