Paiute Indian War

Chief Numaga Only once in the history of the Pony Express did the mail not go through. Having just completed eight once-a-week trips in both directions, the service was forced to suspend operations due to the outbreak of the Paiute Indian War in May 1860.

Some 6,000 Paiutes in Nevada had suffered a winter of fierce blizzards. The Paiutes blamed their woes on the white man, who committed such acts as hacking down trees from which the Indians gathered nuts. By spring, the whole tribe was spoiling for war -- except a chief named Numaga. For three days Numaga fasted and argued for peace. But on May 7 a few Indians raided the Williams Pony Express Station, killing five men.

Over the weeks other isolated whites in Paiute country were ambushed and killed. The Pony Express was a special target; in all, seven relay stations were razed, 16 employees were killed and 150 horses were driven off. The Paiute depredations cost Russell, Majors and Waddell about $75,000 in stock and equipment.

Finally through the intervention of government troops hostilities were brought to an end in June. Four delayed expresses from the east were brought to San Francisco on June 25.

For more information on see Ferol Egan's Sand in a Whirlwind: The Paiute Indian War 1860.