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The Keyesville Massacre occurred on April 19, 1863, in Tulare County, now Kern County, California, during the Owens Valley Indian War. White settlers and a detachment of the 2nd California Volunteer Cavalry under Captain Moses A. McLaughlin, killed 35 Tübatulabal and Owens Valley Paiute men, “about ten miles from Keysville , upon the right bank of Kern River”.
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In early April, Lieutenant Colonel William Jones received a petition from citizens of Keysville and vicinity asking military protection from Indian depredations. He forwarded the petition and notified his superiors in San Francisco of the action he was taking:
“CAMP BABBIT, Near Visalia, Cal., April 8, 1863.
Colonel R. C. DRUM,
Asst. Adjt. General, Dept. of the Pacific, San Francisco, Cal.:
Sir : I have the honor herewith to forward a petition from citizens of Keysville and vicinity asking military protection from Indian depredations. Captain McLaughlin will leave this camp on the arrival of the detachment of Company E, which will accompany him to join their company at Owen’s Valley. They are expected to arrive this evening, and will leave on Saturday or Sunday morning, passing by the way of Keysville through Kern River Valley. The captain will halt a few days in the upper end of the valley, where the difficulties are said to exist, and investigate the matter, and if the position of the Indians should be found as favorable as represented, if deemed advisable will give them battle. The captain will have about forty men, with arms to arm twenty more. This, with the number of citizens that will join him from Keysville, will give him a force sufficient to handle any number of Indians that he will be likely to meet at that place. ….
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Camp Babbitt, near Visalia, Cal.”