We do not know his name: Klatsassin and the Chilcotin War

Vice Admiral John Kingcome to Secretary to the Admiralty

Sutlej at Bentinck Arm
21 June 1864

[ Gundeck of HMS Sutlej, Gundeck of HMS Sutlej which assisted Governor Seymour during the Chilcotin War., Unknown, National Archives of Canada C033449 ]


In continuation of my letter No. 69 of 15th inst.: I have the honor to acquaint you for the information of the Lords Commissioner of the Admiralty that I left Esquimalt that day at noon with H. E. Mr. Seymour, Governor of British Columbia, & his party of 48 Volunteers & 20 Horses. I took the Haro Straits & went through Active Pass; anchored at Departure Bay the same evening, at Alert Bay (about 20 miles below Fort Rupert) on the 18th, at Restoration Bay inside the entrance to Bentinck Arm on 17th. I arrived at the Head of the arm at Noon on 18th.

Shortly after leaving Restoration Bay a canoe came on board with two Englishmen in her, who were on their way to Esquimalt to ask for assistance to capture the murderers of three of their companions. It appears from the statement of these men that they with six others & a train of 42 horses laden with Provisions, stores & ammunition left Bentinck Arm on 19th ult. for Cariboo, & when about 120 miles on their road they came upon an encampment of Indians composed of parties of the Chilicoten, Tatla, & Sutleth tribes. Through a native woman who was travelling with them, they learned that two of the former had been concerned in the massacre of the men at Bute Inlet & that a plot was being hatched to murder them, so they determined on retreating to Bentinck Arm, which they had commenced when, on the morning of 31st ult., they were suddenly attacked on reaching a cross road, 3 of the party killed & 4 wounded who with the unhurt man escaped to the arm leaving the Indians in possession of the horses & stores. From the same Native woman they learnt that the several Tribes on this part of the Coast had leagued together to kill all the settlers about here & at Bute Inlet & then march on to the Hudson Bay Fort at Alexandria, which they were to attack in order to obtain the Provisions & stores that might be there.

This woman is stated to have been killed when the party was attacked on the 31st ult. so the report rests entirely on the statement of these men, but from the enquiries made by the Interpreters whom Mr. Seymour brought with him, that gentleman is not led to put any faith in the statement.

The Bella Coola Tribe, who have their village about half a mile from this, are perfectly quiet & friendly, & 20 of them have joined Mr. Seymour in his expedition in search of the murderers.

3. The Horses & Provision were all landed on the morning of the 19th, & that same afternoon the party took their departure. Mr. Seymour with a small escort landed yesterday & would overtake the others the same evening at a place about 12 miles distant, where it was arranged they were to encamp for the night.

4. Before leaving New Westminster, Mr. Seymour sent instructions to Mr. Cox, the Magistrate at Alexandria, to organize a body of Volunteers to proceed from thence on the trail to Bentinck Arm, & it is hoped that the two parties may meet about mid way on the route. When this junction has been effected, & if it is found that nothing further can be done, the party which left here will retrace their steps & return to New Westminster, & Mr. Seymour proceed on to Fort Alexandria, & afterwards visit Cariboo before returning to the seat of his Govt.

Mr. Seymour having applied to me for an offer to be allowed to accompany him on the expedition, & requested that Lieut. Stewart, Senior Lieut. of this ship, might be appointed to this service, I beg you will acquaint their Lordships. that the request was complied with.

5. I have arranged with Mr. Seymour to remain here in the “Sutlej” until the 10th proximo, when I purpose returning to Esquimalt leaving a gun boat here to bring on Despatches, or any of Mr. Seymour’s party who may wish to return that way.

I have &c.

(Signed) John Kingcome
Vice Admiral

Source: Great Britain Public Record Office, Colonial Office Records, CO 60/20, 8259, John Kingcome, Letter to the Secretary to the Admiralty, June 21, 1864.

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