Published on February 24, 2013 by Carol
The Battle of Hungry Hill, the largest battle of the Rogue River Wars, occurred on Oct. 31, 1855, Two hundred Native Americans, located in the mountains “southwest of present-day Roseburg” and armed with muzzleloaders and bows and arrows managed to hold off a group of “more than 300 … dragoons, militiamen and volunteers.”
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The Native Americans were “camped with their women and children” on the top of a hill, with the soldiers located across a narrow ravine about 1,500 feet deep. The U.S. troops had planned a surprise attack, but their position was given away by a warning fire. Seeing that they had been discovered, the soldiers attempted to charge down the ravine and up the other side, but were thwarted, as the Native Americans had good cover in the high ground, and many proved to be good marksmen. “U.S. troops and militiamen retreated out of the mountains … As many as 36 were dead, missing or severely wounded. Native casualties numbered fewer than 20.”
In 2012, the location of the Battle of Hungry Hill was discovered by Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology archaeologists.
Archaeologist Mark Tveskov, who discovered the site using metal detectors, states that although this battle involving 500 people was a “major defeat” for U.S. troops, it is not well known for a variety of reasons, such as “the disappointment and blame among militiamen and Army regulars over the defeat. Back then, Oregon telegraph cables were in their infancy, and photographers who would document the Civil War several years later were not on hand. If Hungry Hill had happened after the Civil War, it would have been front-page news in The New York Times.”