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The battle of Bear River,Idaho

Updated on July 5, 2011

Bear Hunter's disaster

Growing up in southern Idaho gave me a lot of experiences about living along the Snake river,and finding arrow heads and other native indian artifacts.

I also studied about Idaho history and how The Gem state came about.

Here is one of the history stories about Idaho and the fight the Native americans put on too save their land.

The Battle of the Bear River between the Idaho settlers and the Shoshoni Indians over the emigrant routes and fur trapping led to one of the great battles in Idaho history.

In an engagement about 10 miles from the settlement of Franklin on Jan.29,1863,Col.Patrick Edward Connor's California volunteers almost wiped out Bear Hunters Cache Valley Shoshoni band of around 400 Indians.

In spite of deep winter snow and bone chilling weather Connor sent a small infantry force with artillary and supply wagons on a week long march of around 140 miles from Salt Lake to Franklin and Bear Hunters winter camp.To hide from his adversary he set out four days later with his calvary,moving only at night to conceal his expedition.Completeing his trip from Franklin in darkness he reached the Shoshoni camp around 6 a.m..After a surprise attack on a bitter cold morning,Connor's force engaged in a 4 or 5 hour battle.Bear Hunters camp occupied a protected ravine above the river,a site that was advantageous in cold weather,and easily defended.

Connor's men finally managed to drive into Bear river those who survived his surprise attack.Only a few managed to survive the frozen waters to safety.Some excaped to join other Shoshoni tribes,while a small number of children hid and were later adopted by Mormon familys.Connor's army which had come close to destruction from Shoshoni resistance and the frigid weather had to return to Franklin in order to recover from the fight.

No indian losses in any other Army encounter in U.S. history exceeded Bear Hunter's disaster at Bear River.Other Shoshoni bands were inraged of the slaughter and prpared to wipe out all the white settlers and emigrant trains,but later that year a series of Shoshoni treaties provided for a $2000 payment to neighboring bands,reduced to a state of utterly destitution as a result of Conor's campaign.That reparation was only met to meet their immediate needs.

A permanent treaty was not negotiated until 1868..          

America should remember

Tale of the Evil Spirit

Most Americans are familiar with the Legend Of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle,but this is a story of Tsawhawbitts,an evil spirit in human form.

This spirit drove an ancient civilization of Redmen from lush hunting grounds of the Bruneau River,where Idaho's present day border bumps with Nevada's Northern Mountains.

Eons ago a peaceful tribe of Redmen inhabited the shores of the Bruneau river and roamed the fertile country between Jarbridge and Charleston in Northern Elko county,Nevada.

The grass grew tall and there was much wild game to hunt,fish were plentiful in the streams.

Small bands of tribes made their homes here in the rolling valleys and lived in tranquility,but the serenity of existance could not be maintained.

A tale of superstition passed along through the tribes concerning an evil spirit named Tsawhawbitts.

This spirit was a giant who stalked the Indian hunters like the Indian did wild game.

He was huge,with one step he could cross the Bruneau,no one was safe.On his broad back he carried a basket which he filled with hunters for his own feast.Snatching them up from a pine thicket or along a stream,he would stuff them in his basket and disappear into a crater.

The Indian bands began to flee in all directions,and were killed by lesser tribes,and with each generation memories of the North country dissapeared.

For generations this north country was avoided by all tribes.The tribal memory of evil spirit was handed down for centuries.

Todays name of Jarbridge is an emasculated contraction of the legendary name,and as if to lend a note of truth ta an ancient tale.Relics of this flint age have been unearthed along the Bruneau.

Now could it be simple cicumstance that one of these ragged peaks once within the domain of Tsawhawbitts,be named Mt.Ichabod?

Bear River massacre


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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      i think it was very interesting

    • flread45 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Montana

      Only part of the dark part..

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom rubenoff 

      9 years ago from United States

      I have read that the Native American population suffered losses of up to 90 percent as a result of European diseases and superior weaponry. In my neighborhood, the relatively peaceful Ojibway nation was reduced from an estimated 100,00 people to around 10,000 between the years 1700 and 1900

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      No one can doubt the terrible effect that our migration across the lands that eventually became part of the United States of America had on the native Indians. It is a dark part of our history.


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