Published: November 18th 2012November 18th 2012
JOHN COFFEE HAYS
John Coffee Hays was the genuine wolf when it came to fighting fierce Indians. He was a retired Captain in the Texas Rangers and during the War with Mexico had attained the rank of colonel in the Army of the Republic of Texas. Andrew Jackson was a great uncle. After Texas was made safe, sort of, he got married and moved to California. Col. Hays happened to be in Virginia City, Utah Territory on May 14, 1860 when a man named C. T. Lake arrived with news that Major Ormsby’s entire command had been slaughtered by angry Paiutes on the Truckee River. Lake and 5 other men had been detailed as the rear guard with orders to hold the high ground near Pinnacle Mount, but when they saw what was coming their way they wisely decided to skedaddle. The whole territory was in peril and must be warned. A new army was needed right away and Hays was just the man to lead it. As incentive he was offered a fine horse and a fancy Mexican saddle and tack. Before three weeks had passed he rode out at the head of the Washoe Regiment. It consisted of 500 sober militiamen and 200 regular army troops. It was a well-equipped and determined force. This time the Paiutes saw the army coming and skedaddled. They fought a cat-and-mouse skirmish at Big Meadows on the Carson River. Numaga tried to engage the soldiers in another ambush at Pinnacle Mount (Black Mountain) and a sharp fight was fought there that the soldiers won. The Paiute camp at Pyramid Lake was abandoned when the soldiers reached it on May 5, 1860. The militia was disbanded there, but the regulars occupied the camp until ordered to build Fort Churchill on the Carson River a few weeks later. The photo shows the battle ground at Black Mountain. Col. Hays died in 1883 and is buried in Oakland. To the Lipan Apaches in Texas he was known as “Bravo Too Much”.