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Major Heintzelman, upon replacing Patterson as Indian agent, had visited the Tolowa and talked a majority into removing to the Klamath River Reservation. This was a good example of Heintzelman's persuasive powers, because the Tolowa and several of the Yurok villages were traditional enemies. Some of the Tolowa, however, had fled to the mountains rather than go to the Klamath. For those removing to the Klamath, the agent had built at Wau-Kell 23 log houses (15 x 18-foot) and had made arrangements to provide them at regular intervals with rations and clothing. [1]

When they learned of this, the citizens of Crescent City held a mass-meeting and addressed a petition to the commander of the Department of the Pacific, Col. Norman Clarke. He was informed that while the Tolowa, who had gone to the mountains, had not committed any depredations, many of the settlers were in terror that they might. The citizens therefore urged Clarke to "place a Military force at or near" the Reservation. Through this action the Tolowa would be deterred from joining their brothers in the mountains. If there were no troops, fears were voiced that the Tolowa—as soon as the fall salmon run had been concluded—would return to their old haunts on Smith River. In addition, the troops could be called on to police the Reservation and keep the Tolowa and Yurok from cutting each others throats. [2]

Colonel Clarke read the petition and was impressed with its logic. Calling for his adjutant, William W. Mackall, Clarke had him draft orders transferring a company of the 4th United States Infantry to the Reservation. Mackall suggested that Company D, currently posted at Fort Jones, would be a good unit to send, as it had completed its mission in Siskiyou County.

In mid-September, Lt. George Crook received orders, signed by Mackall, to march his company to the mouth of the Klamath, and establish a post to keep peace among the Indians. Acknowledging the communication, Crook on September 27 notified Adjutant Mackall that he planned to put his company in motion from Fort Jones for Crescent City within 48 hours. As the rainy season was imminent he requested that Company D be provided with "all implements & materials necessary to erect a shelter," and instructions as to the type of quarters to be erected. As he did not want to become in debted to the Office of Indian Affairs, he would like instructions as to whether the Indians would assist with military construction, and if they did, was he to supply them with rations or allow them wages? [3]

Crook and his company moved out as scheduled, marching down Scotts River to its confluence with the Klamath. The regulars then followed the Klamath, until a trail was struck leading across the Coast Range to Crescent City. As the soldiers pushed down the Klamath, they had passed a number of mining camps, but after leaving the river they saw few habitations until they reached Crescent City on October 10, four days later than Crook had anticipated. Crook described Crescent City as "a small place of a few hundred inhabitants, kept alive by being the port for some mining districts in the interior. Its harbor extended clear to China, being a simple indentation in the coast." [4]

From Crescent City, the column took the trail opened by Whipple leading to the Klamath. This route led over "broken bluffs" to the mouth of the river, where the troops arrived on the 12th. Here they encountered the Tolowa, as they were starting back to Smith River, Crook, making a show of force, escorted them back to Wau-Kell on the 13th. The passage of the Klamath was made in canoes, paddled by the Indians. [5]

Crook reconnoitered the area searching for a favorable site for his post, one that would provide protection, and simultaneously have the soldiers sufficiently removed from the agency so as not to cause any friction. He finally selected a "beautiful, grassy flat, diagonally across and up the river" from the agency. Here there was "a small strip of woods running nearly all around the flat immediately on the bank of the river, while a dense forest of redwood furnished the background." This flat contained about 100 acres. Relaying this information to Captain Mackall at Benicia, Crook suggested that the post be designated Fort Ter-Waw, the Yurok name for the flat. [6]

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Last Updated: 15-Jan-2004