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Military History:
Mojave National Preserve - History

19th Century Military History in the Mojave Preserve

Conflict between Native Americans and Euro-Americans was the catalyst for the establishment of a lasting federal legacy in the Mojave desert. The Mojave attacked emigrant wagon trains in 1858, prompting a substantial military response. [7] Major William Hoffman led a unit of over 600 men to the Colorado River, homeland of the Mojave, and demanded surrender. Prudently, the Mojave complied, and Hoffman set up a military post on the eastern bank of the Colorado River that soon became known as Fort Mojave. The effort to supply the fort caused wagon teams from Los Angeles to cross the eastern Mojave regularly until the start of the Civil War in 1861, and turned Beale's path into a true wagon road, easily followed. Some improvements were made to the route at this time, such as the construction of a water stop known as Government Holes.

The U.S. military spent several months in the eastern Mojave in an ill-conceived attempt to punish Native Americans for a crime they may not have committed. In 1860, two whites were murdered at Bitter Springs, on the Mormon wagon road, and the attacks were blamed on the "Pah-Utes," though contemporaries and later historians suggested that the attacks were quite possibly carried out by Mormons, rather than Native Americans. Newspapers in southern California whipped the citizenry into a fury, and prompted the army to send a unit led by James H. Carleton, an Army dragoon from Fort Tejon, California, into the desert to exact revenge on the Native Americans supposedly responsible for the attacks. Carleton's troops built a small fort at Camp Cady, and roamed all over the western portion of the present-day Preserve - through Devil's Playground, around the Granite Mountains, and across Soda Lake. The soldiers constructed a small earthen fortification, called Hancock's Redoubt, at Soda Springs. Carleton chased his quarry all over the desert, and executed several in an attempt to impress the remainder with the power of the United States military. At the end of his three-month stay in the desert, the Native American leaders arrived at Camp Cady and asked for peace. Carleton negotiated a cease-fire, but it was ultimately ineffectual as the army did not return later (due to the Civil War) to distribute aid as promised and uphold their end of the bargain. [8]

The Civil War prompted the military to abandon Fort Mojave in 1861. In mid-1863, it was re-activated with a garrison composed of California Volunteers, to provide security for travelers to Arizona. Gold was discovered in Arizona that year and by 1864, the Mojave Road was a crucial supply line to the territorial capital at Prescott. From 1866 to 1868, the mail was carried over the Mojave Road from California to Arizona. Native Americans in the Mojave and in Arizona commenced hostilities, and a group attacked the garrison at Camp Cady. This emphasized the importance of having a military escort for the mail as it crossed the desert. To support this escort effort, the military constructed small outposts at Soda Springs, Marl Springs, Rock Spring, and "Piute" Creek. The army successfully negotiated an end to the conflict in late 1867. Shortly thereafter, a series of heavy rainstorms left the road impassible. This factor, combined with the cumulative losses to Native Americans along the Mojave route, caused the transfer of mail service to a different, more southerly trail. The outposts at Piute Creek, Rock Spring, Marl Springs, and Soda Springs were abandoned. [9]

Military use of the Mojave Road diminished, but civilian use increased as more people were attracted to the desert area. By the 1870s, Fort Mojave was largely supplied by steamboat service up the Colorado River, but miners, prospectors, and ranchers used the Mojave Road to cross the desert until the Southern Pacific / Atlantic & Pacific Railroad was completed in 1883. [10]

source - NPS

Fort Piute

    Fort Mojave

    Fort Mojave was originally established April 19, 1959 by Major L.A. Armistead in order to protect travelers from the Mohave Indians at the Colorado River.

    Fort Piute

    Established in late 1859 by Captain James H. Carleton, 1st Dragoons, this desert post was located near Piute Springs in the foothills ...

    Camp Rock Springs

    An official Army post, Camp Rock Spring in the Mojave Desert, on the road from Camp Cady to Fort Mohave, Arizona, located near Kelso, ...

    Marl Springs

    It may have been the last of the desert redoubts to be established, but Camp Marl Springs' history indicates it was one of the most ...

    Camp Soda Springs

    This desert camp, variously named for the dry soda lake in its vicinity, was first established south of ...
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