Henry Barron Mellen

Lieutenant Henry Barron Mellen

2nd California Cavalry

Born March 2, 1829, he was the son of John P. Mellen of Dover, New Hampshire and Mehitable Frost of Durham, New Hampshire. There is conflicting information regarding his place of birth as separate sources indicate Saco, Maine and Durham, New Hampshire. He died June 20, 1906, in Durham, New Hampshire and was interred June 22, 1906 in Saco, Maine.

By Col. C. C. Smith, U. S. Army, Retired. Henry Barron Mellen, “California Jack,” whose record, taken from Heitman’s Register follows: “Born March 2, 1829, in Durham, New Hampshire, appointed from California, 1st Lt., 2nd California Cavalry, 21 Sept. 1861; Capt. 26 Oct. 1861 Maj. 5 June, 1865; hon. must. out 21 June 1866; 2nd Lt. 6th United States Cavalry, 4 May 1866; 1st Lt. 22 Jan. 1867; ret’d 4 Oct. 1872.”

In connection with the libraries of Durham honorable mention should be made of Maj. Henry B. Mellen, who was born in Durham, 2 March 1828. He served during the Civil War in the Second California Cavalry, continuing in military service till 4 October, 1872, when he was retired ”for loss of right foot at ankle and left leg below the knee, from injuries received in line of duty.” His service was in California, Louisiana and Texas, and he had charge of the erection of several frontier forts. Beginning as first Lieutenant, he gradually rose to the rank of Major. Soon after his retirement he settled in Durham and became interested in the Library Association, serving gratuitously as librarian and on the book committee. He died in Durham 20 June 1907, aged 78.

Source: History of the town of Durham, New Hampshire (Oyster River Plantation) with genealogical notes, Volume 1; by Stackpole, Everett Schermerhorn, 1850-; Thompson, Lucien, 1859- joint author; Meserve, Winthrop Smith, 1838- joint author.

190 Descendants of Simon Mellen

i. GEORGE F. MELLEN, b. Saco, Maine 28 Feb. 1826. d. 23 Feb. 1877. m. 6 April

1852 CAROLINE MATILDA LAMB, d. Oct. 1853

ii. HENRY B. MELLEN, b. Saco, Maine 2 Mar. 1828*, d. Durham, N.H. 20 June 1906; m. 5 June 1879 REBECCA CALVERT KING, b. 11 Dec. 1834, daughter of Colonel Newton Calvert King. She had married previously, on 13 June 1855, John Mellen, son of John Prentyce Mellen and Mehitable Sheafe Frost. Her father was of Norfolk, Virginia. Note: she married first, Henry’s brother John. She married John’s brother, Henry B., afterward.

*Sam Records, 102; Stackpole and Meserve, Durham, N.H., 2: 284, states he was born in Durham, New Hampshire on the date.

iii. JOHN MELLEN, b. 29 Sept. 1829 at Saco, Maine.

iv. WILLIAM MELLEN, b. Saco, Maine, 5 Aug. 1831, d. 18 Mar. 1880; m. 23 Feb


In General William H. Carter’s “History of the Sixth Cavalry” is the following account of the tragedy that befell Lieutenant Mellen.

“Lieut. H. B. Mellen, 6th U. S. Cav’y, who had been a Major in the 2d California Cavalry during the Civil War, in Dec. 1870, started out alone to ride from Camp Wichita (Ft. Sill, Okla.) to Fort Richardson, Texas. The journey required a ride through an Indian infested country. The weather was extremely cold. All went well until the evening of the first day when he reached the river, which was swollen by recent floods and filled with floating ice. He was forced either to cross the stream or return to Camp Wichita with his duty unperformed.

“He plunged into the river and the brave horse struck out and swam to the opposite shore, where, in endeavoring to ascend the bank, he slipped and fell backward into the stream. Lieut. Mellen was encumbered with his overcoat, riding boots and pistols. As he rose to the surface he saw that his only chance for life was to float with the current until he found a more favorable place to land. He succeeded finally in grasping an overhanging limb and drew himself out of the stream on the bank.

“He was so overcome by the shock and exertion that, on landing, he fell unconscious. He remained in this state till late in the night. When he came to, his horse was standing by his side.

He attempted to rise and mount, but saw to his consternation that his feet were frozen in his boots, and he could make no use of his legs whatever. He attempted again and again to rise, but his efforts were in vain. The noble horse remained by his side all through the night, the next day, the second night and the following day, while the benumbed officer made futile efforts to mount.

At last toward evening of the second day he was able to grasp the stirrup and drag himself into the saddle. His faithful horse bore him out from the river bottom on to the prairie where he discovered a light and made towards it. As he approached the light he was met by the click of rifles and the demand of “Who’s there?” He was confronted with Winchesters in the hands of hunters, camped near the river. He announced his name and destination and told of his condition. The hunters at once took him off his horse and carried him into the hut. A hasty examination showed that his legs were frozen in his large cavalry boots and that immediate professional assistance was necessary to save his life. The thermometer at this time registered ten degrees below zero.

One of the hunters hastily mounted and hurried off to Fort Richard son for assistance. The surgeon started at once with the ambulance, and upon reaching the hunters’ camp found Lieutenant Mellen’s condition so much worse that it was necessary to return immediately
to the post with him to save his life. Upon arriving at the post hospital his boots were cut off and his limbs were found frozen so solid that it was necessary to amputate both feet. He still grew worse, and a second operation had to be performed, taking off more of his legs. His condition was critical for some time, but a naturally strong constitution enabled him to pull through the terrible ordeal, only to find his career as a cavalryman terminated forever. He was shortly after placed on the retired list of the army.

Source: From Yorktown to Santiago with the Sixth U.S. Cavalry, by Carter, William H. (William Harding), 1851- 1925. Publication date 1900. Publisher Baltimore, Md.: Lord Baltimore Press, The Friedenwald Company.

Henry Barron Mellen. Residence was not listed; enlisted on Sept. 21, 1861 at San Francisco, Ca. as a 1st Lieutenant. On Sept. 21, 1861 he was commissioned into Co. C, 2nd California Cavalry. He was mustered out on Oct. 13, 1864. Subsequent service in US Army from May 4, 1866 until retiring Oct. 4, 1872. He lost both legs after they were frozen after an accident while fighting the Comanches in 1870.

Promotions: Capt. Oct. 26, 1861, Major, June 4, 1865. Other Information: born in New Hampshire.

Report of Captain Henry B. Mellen, Second California Cavalry.

HEADQUARTERS, Fort Crook, October 26, 1862


On the evening of the 21st instant information was brought me that a train had been attacked by Indians on the Yreka road about thirty miles from the post. I immediately sent out Lieutenant Williams with twelve men to render any assistance required. He returned on the 26th instant, after seeing them over the mountains, and reported that the emigrants had succeeded in driving off the Indians, killing one, and losing nothing but their provisions which was stolen while they were hunting cattle.

On the night of the 23rd instant I left the post with sixteen men to try and punish the Hot Creek Indians, who had been driving off cattle. I arrived at their camp about daylight and found that the majority were absent. Two bucks were shot. The tribe has been uneasy of late, and seemed disposed to commence operations. I shall watch them closely, and if possible try to punish them.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Captain, Second Cavalry California Volunteers, Commanding.

Colonel R. C. DRUM,
Assistant Adjutant-General, U. S. Army, San Francisco.

Report of Captain Henry B. Mellen, Second California Cavalry. HEADQUARTERS. Fort Crook, November 30, 1862


I have the honor to submit the following report: On the 2nd instant an express from Honey Lake brought news of an outbreak of Indians on the Humboldt road near Lathrop City. I left the post on the 3rd with twelve men, taking from Hot Creek Station eight more.

Arrived at Susanville on the 7th. Was joined on the 11th by Captain William Weatherton with twenty-six citizens of the valley. Examined the country from Smoke Creek to the northeast to the headwaters of Pitt River, striking the road again on the Forty-Mile Desert, finding but seven Indians, who were killed. Arrived at the post on the 29th instant. Private Jacob Haber wounded by an accidental pistol shot.

A party of about twenty citizens armed and mounted went to the locality to bring in the bodies of the two men murdered, and had they followed the trail while it was fresh, or at least tried to ascertain the direction the Indians had gone (neither of which was done), the scout might have had a more satisfactory result. But an express was sent one hundred miles for assistance against a party not larger than their own numbers.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Captain, Second Cavalry California Volunteers, Commanding.

This from California State Military Department, The California State Military Museum, Preserving California’s Military Heritage, Historic California Posts: Fort Crook (Camp Hollenbush) by Colonel Herbert M. Hart, USMC (retired) Executive Director, Council on America’s Military Past:

William H. Brewer stopped at Fort Crook in 1863 when most of the garrison were Indian chasing. “Lieutenant Davis, in charge of the post, was very kind and gave us hay for our horses,” Brewer wrote in his diary. “Except for 10 or a dozen men the troops are all away now, fighting Indians. It must be a lazy life, indeed, in such a place.”

Captain, later Major, Henry B. Mellen, commander of Fort Crook through most of the Civil War, effectively carried on its peace keeping mission. “My constant policy has been to treat the Indians justly, and to impress them with the idea that while I will severely punish them when guilty, I will protect them if they keep good faith and are peaceable,” be announced, after several instances of Mellen vigorously defending the rights of the Indians, the local tribes were convinced. Aware that Mellen was fair to both sides, one tribe refused to harbor an Indian renegade who was being hunted for robbery and several three-year old murders. “Fearing that by his acts he would get them into trouble,” the tribe surrendered the fugitive. Mellen had him shot. “The tribe express themselves as satisfied with the justice of the sentence.” Fort Crook lasted throughout the Civil War. At the end of the war, it was listed as one of the few camps that should remain for at least “the present winter,” When winter ended in 1866, so did the history of Fort Crook as the troops were moved to newly constructed Fort Bidwell in the far northeastern corner of California.

Fort Crook was located on the north bank of the Fall River, one and a half miles from Glenburn and about seven miles above the Gall River’s junction with the Pitt River, Shasta County. The Fort was established on July 1, 1857 for the purpose of providing area protection from hostile Native Americans. Originally it was called Camp Hollenbush for Assistant Surgeon Calvin G. Hollenbush, but later designated Fort Crook for 1st Lieutenant George Crook, 4th Infantry. The post had been established by Captain John W. T. Gardiner, with Company A, 1st Dragoons, and Company D, 4th Infantry. The Camp was made up of a dozen log buildings and two corrals. In May 1866, the garrison was withdrawn and replaced by a small detachment from Fort Bidwell. Fort Crook then became a sub post of that Fort. The post was abandoned on July 1, 1869. On February 15, 1881, the military reservation was returned to the public domain.

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