Mashel Massacre, Washington

Columbia River

Columbia River

The Mashel Massacre, sometimes referred to as the Maxon Massacre, was the last episode of the Puget Sound War in Washington that had begun in 1855. Governor Isaac Stevens ordered the Washington Mounted Rifles, led by Captain Hamilton J. G. Maxon, to move from the Columbia River to patrol the Nisqually River vicinity in late March 1856.

When Maxon and his men came upon any Indian hiding in the dense forest, they killed them. Later, when Maxon and his troops came upon several Indians who were encamped where Ohop Creek and the Mashel River join with the Nisqually River, the soldiers attacked, killing everyone. Those encamped there were not warriors, but mostly women, children, and elderly men, who had retreated to the dense area to escape the conflict. One witness counted only two men in the camp. The number killed is unknown but, estimated to have been as many as 30.

Compiled by Kathy Alexander, updated December 2020.

Also See:

Index of Tribes

Indian Conflicts of Washington

Puget Sound War

Washington Main Page