The 1851 Gold War was a 2 week long war where Gold Miners, angry at the arrival of Asians into California launched an attack because of the extremly high racial tension. The Army intervened and ended the war.

1851 Gold War

Belligerents :

United States Army, Goldminers, Asian Goldminers

Casualties :

428 Asian, 150 Goldminers, 58 U.S. Soldiers. 626 total killed

Date :

September 14, 1851 - September 29, 1851

Generals :

United States Army - General Frank Buckles

Goldminers - Red Woodruff and Louie Martin

Asian Goldminers - "Lee"

Location :


First bullets firedEdit

During the night of September 14, a large shipment of Asians came in, hoping to find Gold on the coast of California. A Goldmining family, known as the Martins, was at the docks awaiting the Asians to land. Louie Martin, and his two sons, Harry Martin, and Lenny Martin, along with a close family friend Red Woodruff, armed with weapons opened up on the Asians, in 5 minutes 26 immigrants had been killed. They ran off into the night. This is considered to have been the first "battle" of the 1851 Gold War. News quickly spread about this attack.

The next day, September 15, survivors of the first battle quickly formed a group, armed with nothing but their bare hands, and rocks, they attacked gold panners along a river. The gold panners had no time to react to the attack. In the second battle, known as the battle of Wiley Mill, lasted 10 minutes, 16 goldminers had been killed and they quickly took over the gold panning operation tools, and weapons.

By September 17, the survivors of the attack at the docks, had organized with other groups and had a well enough arsenal for small attacks. Upon hearing about the attacks, Louie Martin, his sons, and Red Woodruff, also formed a posse of 214 angry goldminers. By September 18, a battle would commence.

2nd Battle of Wiley MillEdit

At 7:30AM, on September 18, The Goldminers went to the panning operation where the 16 goldminers had been ambushed and killed, The resulting 4 hour battle seemed to end in the retreat of the Asians from Wiley Mill. In total 13 goldminers had been killed, along with 19 Asian miners so far. The retreat was unsucessful, as the Asians quickly were surrounded by the goldminers and lost 42 men. The goldminers pulled back, having lost 14 more men.

3rd Battle of Wiley MillEdit

On September 20, the United States Army had gotten news about the conflicts near Wiley Mill, a group of 300 soldiers was dispatched to the area. In what would become the bloodiest battle of the war, the third battle of Wiley Mill.

By September 23, the army was just outside Wiley Mill. 187 dusty goldminers under the command of Louie Martin and Red Woodruff waited in mining ditches, and small foxholes that they had dug in the soil. Armed with Falling Block rifles. Coincidentally an Asian attack was coming and was about 30 minutes away from Wiley Mill, with more strength, 356 Asians were about to attack Wiley Mill, 45 minutes away from Wiley Mill was the United States Army.

30 minutes later 1:32 PM, the first shots of the 3rd Battle of Wiley Mill started. 19 minutes later, 1:51PM the United States Army arrived from behind the Asians, and opened fire, the Asians turned around, and hand to hand combat begun against the United States Army and the Asians, while the Martin-Woodruff Posse open fire and picked off 84 Asians and 38 United States Army Soldiers, What was left of the Chinese scattered, the leader of the Asians, known only was Lee was killed in their retreat, in total the Asians lost 341 men. The United States Army retreated to their encampment 1/2 a mile away, and opened fire with cannons. It lasted all night, and killed 17 goldminers, including Louie's son, Harry.

By daybreak on September 24, the United States Army surrounded the mill, and assaulted. In 2 hours 101 goldminers were killed, and 20 United States Army soldiers had been killed. Louie Martin and Red Woodruff surrendured at 8:00AM.


On September 26, Louie Martin, Lenny Martin, and Red Woodruff were put to trial, and found guilty instantly. The other goldminers were also found guilty.

On September 29, they were all hung. Ending the 1851 Gold War.

See AlsoEdit

Pvt. James Peterson (last surviving veteran of the 1851 Gold War)