OCTOBER 26, 1882


In 1879, administration of Alaska was transferred from the U.S. Army to the U.S. Navy.   On October 22, 1882, a Tlingit shaman named Til’tlein working on a whaling ship near Angoon, Alaska, was killed when a whaling bomb accidentally exploded.  The Tlingit demanded 200 blankets in compensation for his death and to ensure payment took 2 whites & 2 boats hostage.  In response, Commander Edgar C. Merriman sent the USRC Thomas Corwin with a company of marines, a Gatling gun, and a howitzer.  Upon its arrival, the Tlingit released the men & boats.  Merriman then demanded 400 blankets by the next day.  When villagers could only collect 81, the Navy destroyed most Tlingit houses and canoes, and their entire food stores.  The attack killed 6 children, but more Tlingit died that winter from loss of supplies & shelter.  In 1973, the Indian Claims Commission awarded the Angoon clans $90,000 for property losses.  In 1979, Alaska’s Governor declared the 100th anniversary as “Tlingit Remembrance Day.”

Source:  Dave Kiffer, “US Navy Bombed Angoon 125 Years Ago,” SitNews, 10/29/2007.  Retrieved 7/29/2020, http://www.sitnews.us/Kiffer/Angoon/102907_angoon_bombed.html
Engraving:  Moss Eng Co., NY. (Probably from an I.W. Taber photograph), 1887 (after an 1884 photograph).  Public Domain.  Source: http://www.uscg.mil/history/img/Corwin.jpg.

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