Williams Station was a combination saloon, general store and stagecoach station located along the Carson River at the modern-day Lahontan Reservoir. On May 6, 1860 Williams Station was raided by Paiutes. Three whites were killed and the station was burned. According to Sarah Winnemucca, this raid was in retaliation for the kidnap and rape of two young Paiute girls by the proprietors of the station. One white managed to escape to Virginia City, and his story caused a general panic in the region.
A militia was quickly formed from volunteers from Virginia City, Silver City, Carson City and Genoa with the purpose of apprehending the perpetrators. This force consisted of about 105 men and was under the overall command of Major William Ormsby.