Skip to content Gila Expedition (1850)

The Gila Expedition or Morehead War was an 1850 California militia attack on the Quechan Indians near the confluence of the Gila River and Colorado River in Arizona.

Downriver from a ferry by A.L. Lincoln, the Quechan set up a ferry business to transport people, animals and goods across the Gila River on their way to the California Gold Rush. John Joel Glanton and his members of a scalp hunting gang destroyed the Indian boat and beat the local Quechan chief. For a while they took over the ferry operation, killing Mexican and American passengers for their goods and money. In revenge the Quechan attacked, killed and scalped Glanton and most of the gang in 1850.

Later that year, the California state government recruited men for $6 a day to attack the Quechan. On April 16, 1850, 142 men commenced the expedition against the Quechan. However, the military operation went badly and the expedition members were besieged until September 16.

The cost of the operation reached $113,000, nearly bankrupting the state of California as the first of its military operations against American Indians.