Mile 1678: Egan’s Station

“The rider carrying the August 1 westbound mail just missed an Indian attack on Egan Canyon station, which turned into a fierce battle between the Indians and the U.S. mounted cavalry commanded by Lieut. Weed. This battle occurred on August 11, based on the journal kept by Private Scott and, more definitively, the official report from Lieut. Weed dated August 12, 1860 (U.S. Senate Documents).

Lieut. Weed’s report and Private Scott’s journal entry agree on the basic facts. On August 11, shortly before 5 p.m., Lieut. Weed led three non-commissioned officers and 24 privates east from their depot in Ruby Valley toward Antelope Springs on a mission to “chastise certain Indians in that vicinity for depredations recently committed,” according to Lieut. Weed. A short distance before reaching Egan Canyon Station, a Pony Express rider heading east passed Lieut. Weed’s slow-moving convoy. As the rider approached Egan Canyon Station, he saw a large group of armed Indians surrounding the station and engaging in hostile acts. The rider turned around and quickly rode west to alert Lieut. Weed of the attack.

Leaving a non-commissioned officer with seven men to guard the two wagons, Lieut. Weed and 20 mounted cavalrymen galloped toward Egan Canyon Station. There they encountered 75 to 100 Indians around the station and a somewhat larger number 500 to 800 yards away in the surrounding mountains. The Indians had taken the station’s supplies and were holding the station keeper and another man captive. Lieut. Weed ordered his men to surround the Indians near the station, but before the soldiers could completely encircle them, two or three soldiers “fired prematurely, thus alerting the Indians, and leaving an opportunity for them to retreat…”

A firefight ensued, but the Indians were able to work their way up the sides of the mountains south and east of the station, where they were protected from the soldiers’ fire. Faced with the Indians’ superior position, Lieut. Weed ordered his men to withdraw from the pursuit, allowing the Indians to flee. Three of Lieut. Weed’s men were wounded, one of whom died two days later. One Indian was killed and four wounded. Lieut. Weed reported that two other Indians had fallen—mortally wounded, according to him—but they had been picked up and carried away.”