Saturday, November 17, 2007

Whiskey Flat Massacre

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Whiskey Flat Massacre

According to local historians th Indian Peaceful coexistence was generally maintained until the gold strike in Kernville, then called Whiskey Flat. A reprisal raid of cavalry soldiers under the command of Captain McLaughlin surprised the village site near Tilly Creek and massacred approximately 35 male Indians, and several women and children. This signaled the end of the aboriginal era.

& nbsp; Accounts of this tragedy vary. According to Ardis Walker, McLauglin and his detachment of 24 men from the Second California Volunteers were looking to punish Indians for raids on ranchers in the Owens Valley. He started out from Visalia, and the village by the new mining camp of Whiskey Flat was his first encounter with the Indians. With the help of interpreter Jose Chico, a well-traveled Tubatulabal from the Tule River area, he commanded the Indians to lay down their arms.

Massacre Site/Wofford Heights, Ca

& nbsp;

Walker wrote, “…As soon as the villagers had laid down their arms 35 of the men were lined up by Captain McLaughlin and shot by his troopers who then passed among the wounded braves and sabered them for good measure. After the troops rode away, the women and children, helpless witnesses to the tragedy, took up the sorrowful task of burying their dead.”

& nbsp; Walker was given this account by his friend Stephen Miranda, who was 13 years old at the time of the tragedy. The Indians had been warned by miners Judge Joseph Summer and Joseph Caldwell, but felt that since they weren’t involved with the raids in the Owens Valley they had nothing to fear. There were nine visiting Indians present who had participated in the raid, but they took cover above the camp and watched the massacre before slipping away.

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