While the Civil War raged elsewhere, the nation’s assault against Native Americans continued. On January 29, 1863, California volunteers massacred over 350 Shoshone* Indians along the Bear River in modern-day Idaho.
With the outbreak of the Civil War, President Lincoln worried that communications with California would be disrupted. He therefore ordered the strengthening of federal forces along critical mail routes running through Indian territories.
Under the command of Patrick Connor, the California volunteers had moved on the Shoshone encampment in retaliation for a recent Indian attack on miners who had arrived in the region after the discovery of gold in the summer of 1862. Initially, under Chief Bear Hunter, the Shoshone held their own, but then ran out of ammunition. In the aftermath, Bear Hunter was captured, mutilated, and killed.