Teamwork was key in battle site find
By PAUL FATTIG | Mail Tribune, Medford, Ore. | Published: November 24, 2013
It took a team effort by historians, archaeologists and other researchers to rediscover the long lost 1855 Hungry Hill battle site, said Mark Tveskov, the director of Southern Oregon University's Laboratory of Anthropology.
"Oftentimes historians are like dragons sitting on a hoard of treasure; they don't want to share," he said. "The success of this effort was because everyone was willing to share information and work together."
He noted that historian Robert Kentta, a member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, discovered a front-page article in the New York Herald that was dated Nov. 12, 1855, from Crescent City, Calif., providing precise information that only an Army officer who was in the battle would have known. That officer would have been Lt. August V. Kautz, a battle survivor, he said.
Another important new clue was a copy of a battle map drawn by Kautz discovered in the National Archives by retired Army Col. Daniel Edgerton, who had worked in the U.S. Army Center of Military History, he noted.
He also cited research by historian Ben Truwe of Medford and insight provided by historian and pioneer descendant Larry McLane, author of a 1995 book called "First There was Twogood: a Pictorial History of Northern Josephine County."
Among others helping in the effort were fellow Southern Oregon University archaeologist Chelsea Rose and SOU students, U.S. Bureau of Land Management employees, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians, he said.
"We hope that this, along with Fort Lane, is part of a longer-term research project that helps us understand and appreciate the events of the Rogue River War," Tveskov said.
"In the future, we want to research other battle sites and pioneer forts, places where major events of the war took place.
"Ideally, we will work with the federal agencies like the BLM and the Forest Service as well as the state parks and the Indian tribes to work on interpretive trails," he added.
The history of the war could serve as a major tourist draw, Truwe said.
"Imagine if the old forts like Fort Lane were reconstructed and we had living history going on there as well as Fort Birdseye and had the battle sites marked and interpreted," he said, referring to a long defunct fort along the Rogue River. "It would draw people to the region."