Tuesday, August 4, 2020

The Dalles Military Road

by Shanna Hatfield

I've been doing a lot of research for my current work in progress, set in northern central Oregon. 

Grass Valley is the specific town I've been researching, although the history of the region has become an fascinating side study. The town was located on both the Barlow Road and The Dalles Military Road.

The Dalles Military Road has an interesting history.

Around the time prospectors struck gold in Canyon Creek in Oregon, the U.S. Congress toyed with the idea of stimulating private enterprise in the American West. They granted millions of acres of public domain to private companies as an incentive for them to borrow money, hire surveyors, and construct / operate railroads and wagon roads across the West. Through this "give away" of public lands, they hoped to encourage the private sector to create a transportation infrastructure to meet the needs of miners, settlers, and developers of town sites. 

Oregon was the target of a series of land grant wagon roads. These were supposed to get individuals to build roads that could be used for military purposes and were designated as "military wagon roads." 

One such road was The Dalles Military Road. It qualified for a government land grant and was supposed to create a wagon road from The Dalles, Oregon, to Fort Boise, Idaho. 

Investors in The Dalles-Fort Boise Military Road studied a route into the John Day region that followed the stream east to the Blue Mountains. A trace, established by mule teams and wagons, the existing Dalles to Canyon City Road would become part of the military road.

In October, 1868, legislature approved the franchise of The Dalles Military Wagon Road Company to construct the route. The terms of the grant provided that as soon as the company had constructed ten contiguous miles, it could seek up to thirty sections of land (more than 19,000 acres). In June 1869, Governor George L. Woods claimed he made a "careful examination" of the road and the certification process began. 

The road the company supposedly built (and spent about $6,000 on construction) consisted largely of existing trails and roads (some Indian trails). They took credit for building the well-traveled, pre-existing road between The Dalles and Canyon City.

The company also took credit for building a road from Canyon City to the Oregon-Idaho border near Vale, Oregon. The claims of a good wagon road were reportedly exaggerated.

The road was used to haul food and other supplies in wagons pulled by oxen and mules with forts and stations spaced every thirty miles or so along the route. 

In June 1874, Congress authorized the transfer of lands to the State of Oregon, and in December, the Commission of the General Land Office withdrew from public entry all odd-numbered sections within three miles of either side of The Dalles Military Road.  The road company selected its grant, then sold it for $125,000 to Edward Martin of San Francisco, California.

That single transaction made Edward Martin one of the largest landowners in the Pacific Northwest. At his death, Martin's Eastern Oregon and Company held a reported 450,000 acres of land in Oregon. 

Public outcry over the wagon roads grew. At best, they road companies had built rudimentary traces through rugged terrain, leaving travelers to deal with mud holes, washouts, fords rather than bridges, landslides, and multiple delays. 

The Grant County Express in March, 1876, printed a view of the road:

There are places on the Dalles Military Road where the bottom has dropped out. If the Road Company should follow their road to where it ought to go they would find a warmer climate than Grant County. Like a great serpent it has dragged itself through the John Day valley, poisoning the whole country. The road is an illegitimate child of one ex-Governor Woods — after a carpetbagger in Utah. It was and is a great swindle.

Public discontent eventually led to a lawsuit. The U.S. Attorney General argued the land had been privatized through fraud and should become public domain. The suit was dismissed in 1893 under the argument that the governor at the time had certified the road as complete and therefore the grants were valid and would not be reversed. 

Today, parts of the original road have merged with Highway 97 and Highway 26. There are still areas, though, where there are visible traces of the original road. Much of the road is used by ranchers, fishermen, and hunters.  

Find out more about Grass Valley and the fictional residents that live there in my September release Grass Valley Brides.

USA Today bestselling author Shanna Hatfield is a farm girl who loves to write. Her sweet historical and contemporary romances are filled with sarcasm, humor, hope, and hunky heroes. When Shanna isn’t dreaming up unforgettable characters, twisting plots, or covertly seeking dark, decadent chocolate, she hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.

Shanna loves to hear from readers. Follow her online at:

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Monday, August 3, 2020

The Apache by Kristy McCaffrey

The Apache people lived in the southwestern U.S. and were divided into the Chiricahua, Mescalero, Lipan, Western Apache, Jicarilla, and Plains Apache. These groups had little political unity, and developed distinct cultures and language.

They refer to themselves as “The People”, and the Apache culture has remained one of the least understood of all the American Indians due in part to the violence that long plagued Apache-American relations.

There are several origins of the name Apache. The Mexicans, who were often preyed upon by a band of Tci-he-nde Chiricahua, used the word ápache, or “raccoon,” which is an accurate description of the traditional eye-masking war paint worn by the warriors.

Apache didn’t usually marry outside their own tribe, but the men readily took captive women to wife, and captive children of both sexes were often adopted into the community and married. This practice, however, had little effect in diluting the ethnic purity of the Apache.

In the early 1800’s, before the influx of Anglo-Americans to the Southwest, Apache depredations against the Mexicans was high. In desperation, the Mexican government issued a bounty on Apache scalps—100 pesos per warrior, 50 pesos per woman, and 25 pesos per child. The situation in this early frontier (present day northern Mexico) was dire. One distressing aspect was the difficulty in proving a scalp was actually Apache, so no doubt many passive Indians were targeted. Anglo-Americans—called pindah-lickoyee or White-eyed Enemies by the Apache—didn’t occupy this area until after 1850. With the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, the Americans inherited the responsibility to prevent and punish cross-border incursions by Apaches intent on raiding into Mexico.

There are several famous Apache leaders—Cochise, Victorio, Juh, Nana, and Eskiminzin—but the most notorious was Geronimo. Born about 1823, he was a member of a smaller band of Chiricahua and often participated in raids into old Mexico. While a young man, he married and had three children but in 1850 they were all killed by Mexicans, including his mother. This cemented a lifelong hatred for Hispanics, and it was likely from them that he acquired the name Geronimo. He was never a chief but participated in many revenge attacks against the Mexicans, inciting and coercing other Apache to do his bidding. This left his own people with mixed feelings for him. Although he was held at different times at reservations, he always escaped. In 1886 he finally surrendered and was sent to Florida, but in 1894 was moved to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. In his old age he became a celebrity. He had nine wives in total, and died in 1909 after a fall from a horse.

Don't miss THE BLACKBIRD, Book 4 in my Wings of the West series. While there are some overlapping characters, this book can be read as a standalone.

2015 Laramie Winner for Best in Western Romance

Arizona Territory 1877

Bounty hunter Cale Walker arrives in Tucson to search for J. Howard “Hank” Carlisle at the request of his daughter, Tess. Hank mentored Cale before a falling out divided them, and a mountain lion attack left Cale nearly dead. Rescued by a band of Nednai Apache, his wounds were considered a powerful omen and he was taught the ways of a di-yin, or a medicine man. To locate Hank, Cale must enter the Dragoon Mountains, straddling two worlds that no longer fit. But he has an even bigger problem—finding a way into the heart of a young woman determined to live life as a bystander.

For two years, Tess Carlisle has tried to heal the mental and physical wounds of a deadly assault by one of her papá’s men. Continuing the traditions of her Mexican heritage, she has honed her skills as a cuentista, a storyteller and a Keeper of the Old Ways. But with no contact from her father since the attack, she fears the worst. Tess knows that to reenter Hank Carlisle’s world is a dangerous endeavor, and her only hope is Cale Walker, a man unlike any she has ever known. Determined to make a journey that could lead straight into the path of her attacker, she hardens her resolve along with her heart. But Cale makes her yearn for something she vowed she never would—love.

Read Chapter One at my website.

Connect with Kristy

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Rifles and Carbines on the American Frontier by Zina Abbott

As part of the research, I came across a weapon with which I was not familiar.

This from 1864-69 Defense of the Kansas Frontier by Garfield, 1932

…Newspaper accounts of the battle stated that there were from six hundred to seven hundred Indians well-armed with Spencer carbines and heavy rifles….

1865 Spencer repeating carbine - .50 caliber


… On September eleventh the Governor had telegraphed Sheridan as follows:

         "Will you issue to me five hundred stand of Spencer carbines with           accoutrements and ammunition?...

From Atlas of Cheyenne Wars Atlas by Charles D. Collins, Jr.

…Believing it would be two or three days before he linked up with his main trains again, Custer distributed supplies from the wagons to the troopers. Each soldier carried 100 rounds of ammunition for his Spencer carbine and enough hardtack, coffee, and forage to get by for a couple of days….


…Godfrey frequently had to face his soldiers about and form a skirmish line to drive back the oncoming Indians with carbine fire,…


…The soldiers’ .50 cal. Spencer carbine, a seven-shot repeater, was a good weapon, but its effective range was, at the most, only 300 yards….


…Equipment [distributed by the quartermaster] included a leather saber belt with a pistol holder, percussion cap pouch, pistol cartridge box, carbine cartridge box, and a leather carbine sling. Weapons included a carbine, pistol, and saber. The issue carbine was a .50-caliber Model 1865 Spencer seven-shot-repeating carbine….

And from "Hostile Actions with Indians" (https://www.spbakker.nl/?page_id=82)

The herder, named as Charles Teck, went down fighting; being well armed with a Winchester carbine or rifle which unfortunately for him jammed on the sixth shot…

From Wikipedia, the specifications for a Spencer Repeating Rifle are as follows:
         47 inch (1,200mm) rifle with a 30 inch barrel
         39.25 inch (997mm) carbine with a 22 inch barrel

From Wikipedia: a Sharps rifle weighed 9.5 pounds and was 47 inches in length.

A Sharps carbine, like all carbines, weighed less and the barrel was shorter.

Large quantities of breech-loading carbines were procured by the military because they gave cavalrymen the firepower they needed while in the saddle. The simple-to-use cartridges of these carbines meant that soldiers could carry two dozen rounds or more on their belts, plenty of rounds for a quick fire fight while the cavalry feels out the strength of the enemy before him.

The greatest quantity of carbines produced for the American Civil War were the Sharps, followed by the Spencer, and third, Burnside carbines.
1863 Sharps breech-loading carbine - .50-70 caliber

The military Sharps rifle was used during and after the American Civil War in multiple variations. Along with being able to use a standard percussion cap, the Sharps had a fairly unusual pellet primer feed. This was a device which held a stack of pelleted primers and flipped one over the nipple each time the trigger was pulled and the hammer fell—making it much easier to fire a Sharps from horseback than a gun employing individually loaded percussion caps.

Berdan Sharps Rifle

The Sharps Rifle was produced by the Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company in Hartford, Connecticut. It was used in the Civil War by multiple Union units. The Sharps made a superior sniper weapon of greater accuracy than the more commonly issued muzzle-loading rifled muskets, primarily due to the higher rate of fire and superior quality of manufacture. It could easily be reloaded from a kneeling or prone position. However, Sharps never sold as many standard rifles to the military as they did their carbines.
Unlike the Sharps rifle, the carbine version was very popular with the cavalry of both the Union and Confederate armies and was issued in much larger numbers—almost 90,000 were produced—than other carbines of the war. More were produced than either Spencer or Burnside carbines. By 1863, it was the most common weapon carried by Union cavalry regiments, although in 1864 many were replaced by 7-shot Spencer carbines. The falling block action lent itself to conversion to the new metallic cartridges developed in the late 1860s, and many of these converted carbines were used during the Indian Wars in the decades immediately following the Civil War.

The Model 1873 Winchester was produced in three variations: a 24-inch barrel rifle, a 20-inch barrel carbine, and a "musket"—which was aimed at military contracts and only made up less than 5% of production. The standard rifle-length version was most popular in the 19th century, although Winchester would make rifles to order in any configuration the customer wished, including longer barrels or baby carbines with barrels as short as 12 inches and other features.

The short version about carbines is this: many people think soldiers (and some civilians) carried a standard rifle in a holder attached to their horses’ saddles. Most of them were technically carbines, or saddle guns, as opposed to the heavier rifles with longer barrels.

Since my current work in progress, Mail Order Penelope, involves a military escort patrol traveling with the stagecoaches from the railroad's "End of Track" at Wilson's Station, I mention carbines. This book is on preorder now and will be released August 14, 2020.

My other two recent books, Mail Order Roslyn and Mail Order Lorena, are currently available. Please click on the book titles above to find the book descriptions.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020


“A man only learns by two things, one is reading, and the other is association with smarter people.” – 
Will Rogers

I am thrilled and very honored to learn that my book RED RIVER RIFLES has been selected as a finalist for a 2020 Will Rogers Medallion Award in the Western Romance category. The Will Rogers Medallion Award honors, “those books that represent an Outstanding Achievement in the Publishing of Western Media. Your book exemplified the combination of excellent content, high production values, and honoring of the Cowboy Heritage that the Award was created to acknowledge.”

If you are too young to be familiar with Will Rogers (November 4, 1879 – August 15, 1935),  he was a respected writer as well as a cowboy entertainer and philosopher who did much to embody and demonstrate western traditions.  The award was created to help expand the “Heritage of Literature which honors the traditions and values of the American Cowboy.”

He was also an American stage and film actor, vaudeville performer, cowboy, humorist, newspaper columnist, and social commentator from Oklahoma. He made frequent use of puns and terms which closely linked him to the cowboy tradition. From about 1925 to 1928, Rogers traveled the length and breadth of the United States in a lecture tour. He began his lectures by pointing out that, "A humorist entertains, and a lecturer annoys."

In the mid-1930s Rogers was hugely popular, the leading political wit in the United States, and the highest paid of Hollywood film stars. He died in 1935 with aviator Wiley Post when their small airplane crashed in northern Alaska during bad weather.

His Hollywood Star

Will Rogers's tomb from the Will Rogers Memorial in Claremore, Oklahoma

Perhaps Rogers most famous saying was, "I never met a man I didn't like.” He has many famous quotes that can be found at. https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Will_Rogers and https://www.willrogers.com/. Three of the ones I liked the best are:

·         “Lord, the money we do spend on Government and it's not one bit better than the government we got for one-third the money twenty years ago.”

·         “What the country needs is dirtier fingernails and cleaner minds.”

·         “We are here just for a spell and then pass on. So get a few laughs and do the best you can. Live your life so that whenever you lose it, you are ahead.”

Like the characters in my novels set on the American frontier, Rogers believed in hard work in order to succeed and realize individual success. He symbolized the self-made man and woman. He believed in America and the American Dream.

So does Samuel Wyllie, the hero of RED RIVER RIFLES. In 1818, the bravest of the brave settled a narrow strip of land along the Red River in Texas. A place where death and life held equal strongholds. For Samuel, his family’s land south at Pecan Point was a nearly sacred place, as beautiful as heaven must be. He has big plans for the future and will do what it takes to carve a new life out of the wilderness.

A gritty western, a love story, RED RIVER RIFLES, Book One in the Wilderness Dawning Series, is a clean, yet romantic historical set against the stunning backdrop of the Province of Texas. It has a 4.6 star rating out of 5 with 75 Amazon reviews and is available in ebook and print at https://amzn.to/2VprVdG.

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