The native population and the miners had a history of conflict and death in this region of the southern mines. In the area between the two rivers the Stanislaus on the north and the Tuolumne on the south lived a tribe known as the Wallas. In 1851 when the Yosemite Indians were forced onto a reservation, they did not want to be in the land of the Wallas, which in their language was “being down” meaning they were not from the mountains.
Story Of One Of His Experiences In Tuolumne.
Of the many stories now floating about in regard to the past experiences of Sam Clemens, none are more droller than the following one, (at this time in the diggings passed as the) frozen truth. We would remark in that the story need not be taken as evidence of faintheartedness or lack of “sand” on the part of Clemens, nut his action attributed simply to his inordinate love of humor, and an overweening desire to shoot his little joke while on the wing. The incident we refer to occurred during the Innocent’s sojourn at Jackass Hill, near Tuttletown, where he was prospecting with Jim Gillis. For some time there had been rumor’s discontent among the Indians, a farce band of Wallas, having gathered near Pendola Ferry, on the Stanislaus River, and, after announcing their intension of annihilating the miners shortest order possible, decamped for f the higher Sierras to obtain, it was generally supposed, a sufficient force to carry out their bloodthirsty threats. One bright afternoon late in the autumn, Sam and Jim were sitting in front of their cabin on Jackass Hill. The former engaged in rubbing Mustang Liniment on a slight bruise that discolored his left leg, sustained by a fall which he had received that day during one of his prospecting expeditions, the latter watching the operation while he lazily smoked a corncob full of kinnikinnick. Suddenly a man rushed in breathless haste up the Hill and stammered, as he wildly gesticulated; “They’re comin’,” “Let’ em come, we’re ready for most anything from fortune to famine,” answered the imperturbable Mark, as he continued to plaster the liniment on his injured limb. “But they’re injuns,” was the excited remark of the messenger, “an’ everybody’s turning out, Tuttletown’s in arms, and they want Sam, to take command.” “What’s my rank.” asked Sam, looking quizzically at the man, “Quartermaster or solder, which?” The Aid-de-camp waited to hear no more, but rushed away to alarm others, and Mark and Jim made their way to Tuttletown, where they found a great crowd of miners assembled and ready to march on the foe. Mark was appointed to the command of a company, and in due course the army was on the march. The Stanislaus River having been reached just at dusk, it was though advisable with more caution, as the enemy was supposed to be encamped in that vicinity The different companies separated, and spreading out in a semi-circle, marched up the river. Mark’s company, consisting of ten men, were plodding along in the gathering gloom, when shoots were heard at no great distance on the hillside.
“Halt;” commanded Mark. The company halted.
“Gentlemen, this is no time for fooling, Tuttletown, expects every man to do his duty. The enemy is before us. You will form into a hollow square. To the rear open order, and as the rear happens to be open, it is in order for every man to proceed in that direction as orderly a manner as possible. As I am lame myself, I think I will commence the retrograde movement first. March1”
As the rumor of the approach of the bloodthirsty red ma was afterward proved to be a false alarm, this movement on the part of Mark’s division was not noticed at the time, although, freely discussed afterward in Tuttletown, and the explanation given that Mark was frightened by the explosion of a belated hunters shot-gun.
Cincinnati Daily Times May 05, 1876, p. 3, from the Sonora Democrat, nd.
Of course there in little truth in this tale it never was in Roughing It but then Jim Gillis didn’t write the book.