JANUARY 29, 1863


Mormon settlers came to Cache Valley in Utah in the late 1850s forcing the Northwestern Shoshone into areas which could not support them.  As a result, Indians raided settlers and supply trains.  Colonel Patrick E. Connor, commanding the 3rd California Volunteer Infantry Regiment protecting the Overland Mail Route believed that Chief Bear Hunter’s band, camped on Beaver Creek, was responsible.  After a direct assault on the village failed, Connor then ordered troops to flank the camp.  When the Shoshone ran out of ammunition, soldiers overran the village, burning lodges, and killing everyone in their path. Rape and murder of women and children followed.  Between 270 and 400 Shoshone men, women, and children were killed; 23 soldiers died.  The few Shoshone who survived, notably Chief Sagwitch, allied with the Mormon Church and were settled by the Church on land in northern Box Elder County.  This was the largest number of victims in any Indian massacre west of the Mississippi.  

Source:  Elaine Thatcher, “The Bear River Massacre, Utah Humanities, 2013.  Retrieved 6/10/2020, https://www.utahhumanities.org/stories/items/show/258
Photo:  W.H. Jackson, 1870.  Public Domain.

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