During the Snake Indian War, Pvt. Charles A. Fonda was mortally wounded at the skirmish of Otseo’s Lodge on April 28, 1868 against hostile Northern Paiute and Shoshone Indians near Warner Lakes, Oregon. Private Fonda was shot in the knee and since his wound was serious, it was decided to amputate his leg in the field. He did not survive the operation, and was almost certainly buried in the field. The site of the skirmish is known, but Fonda’s exact burial place is not. A government-issued headstone was placed at the site in July 2013. A newspaper account describes it as “a little east and south of the stone bridge.” The headstone was placed within 200 yards of the site of the stone bridge, on land that is on the Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge.
The best description of the skirmish at Otseo’s Lodge is in the book ‘The Deadliest Indian War in the West: The Snake Conflict, 1864-1868‘ by Gregory Michno (p. 315):
A group of 18 soldiers and a few Indian scouts attempted to attack a group of Snake Indians at daybreak. The Indians heard the soldiers splashing as they crossed a creek, and retreated to high ground, The soldiers then attacked uphill across open ground, and suffered many casualties. Fonda was the only fatality. The skirmish occurred about 1/2 mile east of the site of Old Camp Warner, which had been abandoned the year before. (per John Griffin, Lakeview, OR)
A Report of Surgical Cases treated in the Army of the United States from 1865 to 1871 by George Alexander Otis (p. 206):
DXXXIX – Mention of a Primary Amputation of the Thigh By JM Dickson MD Acting Assistant Surgeon.
Private Charles A Fonda Co D 23d Infantry received a severe gunshot wound of the knee joint in a skirmish near Lake Warner Oregon April 29 1868. Amputation at the lower third of the thigh was performed on the next day. He died under the operation.
There are photos of Charles (as a boy) and his family on the Fonda Blog at Illinois Fonda’s.
Thanks to John Griffin of Lakeview, Oregon for ordering and placing the military gravestone.
References: Rootsweb, Find-A-Grave
National Historic Register: Stone Bridge and the Oregon Central Military Wagon Road
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