First Establishment of Camp Yuma
Following the failure of the California Militia against the Quechan people (Yuma Indians), in the Gila Expedition, the U. S. Army sent the Yuma Expedition under Captain Samuel P. Heintzelman, to establish a post at Yuma Crossing of the Colorado River in the vicinity where it met the Gila River in the Lower Colorado River Valley region of California. He was to protect travelers on the overland route from the east to California and to quell any hostilities by the Quechan people (Yuma Indians).
After reconnoitering his route, Heintzelman marched out of San Diego on 3 October 1850 with three companies of the 2nd Infantry Regiment with another infantry company establishing a depot at Vallecitos. He then sent a small party in advance digging wells in the desert between Vallecitos and the Colorado River. He reached Vallecitos 3 November and the Yuma Crossing on 27 November, a third company arriving a few days later. Camp Yuma was established with the tents protected from sun and wind by brush and reed fences and arbors. A garden and vinyard were started near the river. The Quechan living in the vicinity of the camp were quiet and friendly.
Supply difficulties began when supply wagons arrived late and did not carry enough to supply the troops for long. Supply by sea from San Diego had been requested but did nor arrive as planned. When it did arrive boats had difficulty bringing it up from the mouth of the Colorado against the rivers difficult current and cource. Bringing it overland by waggon was difficult also but more successful.
Heintzelman requested a steamboat be sent to carry supplies up river but supplies ran dangerously low. Additionally the crops of the local Quechan had failed and were asking for food from the camp and Heintzelman was ordered in June 1851 to evacuate the camp leaving only a small detachment of ten men under Lieutenant Sweeny to guard the ferry.
Garra Revolt and the beginning of the Yuma War
Campaign of the Yuma Expedition
Notes and references
- "The ARMY of the United States; HISTORICAL Sketches of STAFF and LINE with Portraits of GENERALS-IN-CHIEF", Edited by Theo(philus) F(rancis) RODENBOUGH, BVT. Brigadier General U.S.A., and William L. HASKIN, Major, First Artillery Maynard, Merrill, & Co., New York, 1896. Appendix, gives expedition dates. reproduced at the United States Army Center of Military History
- Jerry D. Thompson, Civil war to the bloody end: the life & times of Major General Samuel P. Heintzelman, Texas A&M University Press, 2006. pp.37–46