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LAKE COUNTY HISTORY CHAPTER 23: CHIEF SOLANO

Salvador Vallejo, Mariano’s younger brother, became General Mariano Vallejo’s right-hand man. In the fall of 1835, Mariano decided to go to war again against the Yolo County Native Americans. Salvador, Second-in-Command to his brother, headed up a battle force made up of twenty-two white American mercenaries and several dozen friendly Native auxiliaries. The natives, under Chief Solano, and the American mercenaries, went against the hostiles, led by Sem-Yito, their Chief.

Chief Solano was a fierce fighter.

Charles Brown, one of the American mercenaries, reported after the battle against Sem-Yito, “Chief Solano is so murderous in battle I am ashamed he is on our side.”

Later, when Brown was surrounded and peppered; a human pin cushion filled with arrows, Solano came to Brown’s aid. He drove off Brown’s attackers, pulled the arrows from Brown’s bleeding body, and applied salve to the wounds. Thereafter, as one might imagine, Brown had a kindlier view toward Chief Solano.

That 1835 battle was followed with another campaign by Vallejo’s Pomo auxiliaries and Chief Solano against the Wappo. It began over a mule-thief. Chief Succaro’s Wappo were sheltering the thief. When Vallejo sent an emissary to bring the mule-thief back for justice, Succaro rubbed diplomatic salt in the wound. He not only refused to return the thief, but he also tortured Vallejo’s emissary.        

In answer to such rudeness, Vallejo mounted a massive military campaign to punish the Wappo and Succaro, their Chief. Succaro was no pushover. He ambushed the Vallejo forces in a narrow canyon as their cavalry galloped up the canyon. In the fight that followed sixty-eight of Vallejo’s men were wounded, captured, or killed.

Strength and greater firepower won out. Mariano’s stronger force of Mexicans and Indians was much larger. Chief Solano’s Pomo, pursued Succaro’s Wappo. When they caught them, Vallejo made three hundred of Succaro’s army prisoner.      

Not finished with the fight or the punishment, Salvador and his force pursued the main body of the Wappo to Southern Mendocino County. There, a titanic force of two thousand Wappo warriors attacked the Californios. The Mexican Cavalry charged with their lances and killed two hundred of the enemy. Peace feelers were rejected, and some of the Pomo defected to join the Wappo. A call for help from the Governor brought another four hundred soldiers to assist Vallejo. Faced with odds beyond his power to oppose, Succaro sued for peace.

The peace was short-lived. The Wappo had not changed their ways, and more horses were stolen. Near Boggs Mountain, there was a final battle. Mariano caught the enemy in a pincers movement, and the Wappo were defeated without a single Vallejo casualty. For a time, the Indian Wars were over.

            Next Week: The Bear Flag Revolt.

                Lake County History. $32. (includes. Tax & Shipping)

                Pal Publishing, PO Box 6, Upper Lake, Ca 95485

                e-mail: genepaleno@gmail.com

                Website: genepaleno.com

Gene Paleno

Gene runs his life at a full sprint. In his ninety-three years he's dug ditches, painted signs, played semi-pro football, worked as a taxicab driver, an insurance agent, and a school teacher. He's been a technical artist, a marketing director, and a business owner. He served in World War II, raised four children, and was married to the love of his life for fifty years. He's an accomplished oil painter and skilled in ceramics. He's written fifteen books, including the definitive Lake County History, and doesn't show any signs of slowing down.

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