June in Oregon History: War

June: War

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Rogue River War of 1855-1856

The final Rogue River War began early on the morning of October 8, 1855, when self-styled volunteers attacked Native people in the Rogue River Valley. It ended in June 1856 with the removal of most of the Natives in southwestern Oregon to the Coast Reservation, which later became the Siletz Reservation. From 235 to 267 Indian people are thought to have been killed in the war, together with fifty soldiers, among them thirty-three volunteers and seventeen regular troops. By one account, Indians killed forty-four white civilians.

Before colonization, an estimated ninety-five hundred Indian people lived in the region where the Rogue River War was fought, including speakers of Takelman and Shastan languages to the east, in the main Rogue River valley of present-day Josephine and Jackson Counties, and speakers of Athapascan languages to the west and along the coast. Fewer than two thousand Indian survivors of the war were counted on the reservation in 1857.




Philip Sheridan

Before he gained fame as commander of the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War, Philip Henry Sheridan served in Oregon on the Columbia River and at the Grand Ronde Reservation. In 1856, Sheridan and Superintendent of Indian Affairs Joel Palmer located a site for Fort Hoskins, a new fort in King’s Valley, the middle post of the Coast reservation. Early the next year, Sheridan arrived at Fort Yamhill from Fort Vancouver with a detachment of thirty-two men from Company D, 3rd Artillery and Company H, 4th infantry. They remained at the reservation for six weeks, until Company K arrived to relieve them. Sheridan was then permanently reassigned to Company K and was given the task of building the quarters for the men and officers at the fort. He employed civilians and Indians as laborers during the construction.


Civil War, Newspaper Suppression

Oregon's pioneer newspapers were also political organs, advancing their cause in news articles as well as editorials. The most prominent advocates were Asahel Bush of the Oregon Statesman (Salem) and T.J. Dryer of theOregonian (Portland), Democrat and Whig, respectively. But as the nation entered the Civil War and demands for suppression of "traitors" appeared in the North, it was the editors at smaller weekly papers in Oregon and California who would pay for their outspoken views. 

Fort Stevens

One of the three major forts designed to protect the mouth of the Columbia River, Fort Stevens was constructed on the Oregon side of the river’s mouth. The three forts—Fort Stevens, and, in Washington, Forts Columbia and Canby—were authorized by an act of Congress in February 1862 to provide “for the defense in Oregon and Washington Territory at or near the mouth of the Columbia River.” While the original purpose was to protect the river from Confederate commerce raiders (such as the C.S.S. Alabama), the Civil War was over before Fort Stevens was fully operational. 

The most significant event in the fort’s history took place on the night of June 21, 1942, when the I-25, under the command of Commander Tagami, opened fire on Fort Stevens with its 5.5 deck gun. Seventeen shells landed on the military reservation without causing significant damage, and once more the fort’s guns remained silent—among other reasons, the submarine was believed to be out of range. Fort Stevens was the only military installation in the contiguous United States to be shelled by a foreign enemy warship since the War of 1812. A stone monument south of Battery Russell commemorates the event.

gillems camp  

Modoc War

The Modoc War, waged mostly over the winter and spring of 1872-1873, thrust the border between Oregon and California into the national spotlight. During peace negotiations, General E.R.S. Canby was killed, the first full-ranking U.S. Army general to lose his life in a conflict between Indians and the federal government. The resulting furor brought about another first, as the Indian leaders of the war were tried and executed for war crimes.




Heinmot Tooyalakekt (Chief Joseph)

Heinmot Tooyalakekt (Thunder Rising to Loftier Mountain Heights), also known as Chief Joseph, was a prominent figure among the Nimiipuu, or Nez Perce. He is best remembered as a leader during the Nez Perce War of 1877. Although his role in that conflict is much misunderstood, Joseph participated significantly in events leading up to the war, and his shrewd leadership afterward was critical to the Nez Perces’ successful return from exile to the Pacific Northwest.

Joseph was born in 1840 in the Wallowa Valley of eastern Oregon. His father, Tuekakas, or Old Joseph, was the head chief of the largest of many independent Nez Perce bands living in Oregon, central Idaho, and southeastern Washington. Like many Nez Perces, Joseph had relatives among the Cayuses, Walla-Wallas, Palouses, and other groups of the Columbia River Basin.

  chief joseph


Angat     camp


Oregon Soldiers in the Spanish-American and Philippine Wars, 1898-1899

In the course of the Spanish American War, the United States attacked and occupied the Spanish colonies of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. The Second Oregon Volunteer Infantry was initially sent to the Philippines to defeat the Spanish and aid the islands’ independence movement. But the U.S. soon changed tack, abandoning its alliance with the Filipinos and annexing the islands from Spain. The Oregon Volunteers participated in the occupation of Spanish Manila and in the brutal land war against Filipino nationalists that followed.

Oregon Plan

The Oregon Plan, implemented in May 1942, led to the organization of the first Japanese American farm labor camp during World War II. The camp, in Malheur County, housed 350 Japanese Americans who had been incarcerated in Oregon by Executive Order 9066 in the months after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. It marked the beginning of the War Relocation Authority’s (WRA) seasonal labor program, which between 1942 and 1944 executed more than 33,000 farm labor contracts with incarcerated Japanese Americans from across the West Coast.

sunshine patch  

41st Infantry Division

 The 41st Division of the Army National Guard was organized on July 18, 1917, at Camp Greene, North Carolina, under the command of Major General Hunter Liggett. The division was composed of recently federalized National Guard troops from the Northwest and Midwest, including the Oregon National Guard's Third Infantry Regiment. These National Guard units were reorganzed into a U.S. Army-style division for service in Europe. The National Guard was both a reserve component of the U.S. Army and a state military force. From February 1918 through the end of World War I, the 41st Division served in Europe, training and providing replacements for front-line units. Following the war, it became the National Guard division of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. Its members trained for and performed military and civil support duties.


Balloon Bombs

The Mitchell Monument marks the spot near Bly, Oregon, where six people were killed by a Japanese balloon bomb during World War II. Designated by the National Register of Historic Places in 2003, this is the only place on the continental United States where Americans were killed by enemy action during World War II.

Two-Bits, the World War II Lookout Dog

A persistent fox terrier named Two-Bits earned a brief measure of national fame while spending the winter of 1942-1943 at the Siskiyou Mountains' isolated Whisky Peak Lookout. Called a "war hero" by the press, Two-Bits became the subject of front-page newspaper articles across the country, and his story was told in a children's book about famous animals.



  two bits

uss oregon   uss oregon


USS Oregon

In the years after the Civil War, the U.S. government built up its military defenses by developing short-distance or sea-going coastline battleships. One notable feature of these ships was their smaller coal chambers, which held only enough fuel for a 5,000-mile voyage. With the support of Theodore Roosevelt, then assistant secretary of the navy, the Union Iron Works of San Francisco began building the U.S.S. Oregon on November 19, 1891.

Swan Island

During World War II, Swan Island was the site of one of the Kaiser shipyards and worker housing. At the request of the United States government, contractor and industrialist Henry J. Kaiser developed a major shipbuilding operation at Portland and across the Columbia at Vancouver, Washington. Between 1942 and 1945, the Kaiser shipyards produced 147 T-2 tankers at Swan Island, making it the Liberty and Victory ship capital of the United States. In all, 455 ships were produced at Kaiser's Oregon shipyards during World War II. The temporary worker housing created on Swan Island during the war was used to accommodate some of the people displaced by the Vanport flood in 1948. Many of the displaced had to remain for up to a year at Swan Island because of the post-war housing shortage in Portland.

camp white  

Camp Abbot

Camp Abbot, located on the Deschutes River several miles south of Bend, was a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers training center where combat engineers trained during World War II. Established as an “engineer replacement training center,” it was the only such installation in the West. The other two were at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.


William Everson (1912-1994)

William Oliver Everson, a prominent poet in the San Francisco Renaissance, was also a master printer, Dominican lay brother, literary scholar, riveting speaker, and dynamic teacher. Everson organized and directed the fine arts camp for conscientious objectors at Waldport, the only one of its kind during the war, which attracted musicians, painters, actors, and writers from other CO camps around the country. His career as a printer began at the camp, where he helped create the Untide Press, which published the literary magazine Illiterati and produced twelve beautifully designed books, including his own, The Waldport Poems and War Elegies. 

Frank Hachiya (1920-1945)

With the attack on Pearl Harbor, Frank Hachiya, who was born in Odell in 1920, enlisted in the U.S. Army and enrolled in the Military Intelligence Services Language School at Camp Savage, Minnesota. He served with American forces on Kwajalein and Eniwetok in the Central Pacific. He was a studious person, according to Joseph D. Harrington’s Yankee Samurai, who “took the war seriously” in part because of “what it meant to men like himself, who had twin loyalties”—a reference to his mother and brother who were in Japan. On Leyte Island, where he helped interrogate Japanese prisoners of war, Hachiya was shot at close range under confusing circumstances, either by a Japanese sniper or by friendly fire. Bleeding profusely, he retraced his steps across the valley to medics, who treated his wounds and sent him to a battlefield hospital. Hachiya died on January 3, 1945, and was buried in Grave 4479 in the Armed Forces Cemetery on the island. At the end of the war, he was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and the Distinguished Service Cross.


Women’s Land Army

In 1942, after many men in Oregon had left the workforce to fight in World War II, thousands of women joined a different kind of army to work on Oregon farms. Farmers in Oregon had faced labor shortages during the summer of 1941 and expected the problem to be more severe in 1942, with the greatest need being in the Willamette Valley. In the spring of 1942, state officials registered nearly 100,000 women who said they were available for emergency farm work. The state recruited and trained women at Oregon State College (OSC) in Corvallis (now Oregon State University) and, from 1943 until 1945, worked with the Women’s Land Army (WLA) to place more than 78,000 women on Oregon farms.