Saturday, July 27, 2013

Easterners Learn About General Patrick Connor’s Work in Idaho Territory

On July 27, 1863, many Eastern newspapers – like the Boston Herald – reported on the activities of General Patrick Connor in Idaho Territory. The items all began, “Gen. Connor has transmitted to the Headquarters of the Army an interesting account of his recent expedition.”

Of course, as we have seen earlier in our chronology, people in the West had already heard about the expedition. But now the information was reaching a wider audience. The account continued, “Among its results are useful lessons to the Indians … with a view to the preservation of peace.”

The Battle of Bear River (aka “Bear River Massacre”) had crippled the bands involved, but only served to anger other Shoshone. They had actually stepped up their attacks, so Connor’s troops had maintained a military presence in northern Utah and southeast Idaho. While there had been no further big battles, the constant pressure finally wore the tribes down so they would seek peace.

The reports also described another outcome: “The establishment of a new military post at a point at or near Great Bend, on Bear river, known as the Soda Springs, in the Territory of Idaho.”

The general stationed a considerable force at Camp Connor “for the protection of overland emigration to Oregon, California and the Bannock City Mines.”

The installation did its job and Indian unrest slowly subsided. The post was abandoned after about two years of operation.
General Patrick Connor.
Library of Congress.

The Herald went on, “A new road has been opened north of Soda Springs to Snake river to shorten the route of emigrants from the east via Fort Bridger, not less than 70 miles.”

This was referred to earlier (June 20) as part of a better route to the gold camps on Grasshopper Creek and in Alder Gulch, via the Eagle Rock Ferry.

The news item concluded, “Gen. Connor also laid out a town in which he settled 53 families of 160 souls, comprising the seceding Mormons known as 'Morrisites,' and who fled from Brigham Young’s persecutions.”

References: “From Washington,” Boston Herald, Boston, Massachusetts (July 27, 1863).
Brigham D. Madsen, The Northern Shoshoni, The Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho (1980).

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