The Pig War
San Juan Island is well known for its splendid vistas, saltwater shore, quiet woodlands, and orca whales. But it was also here, in 1859, that the United States and Great Britain nearly went to war over a dead pig. On July 18 of that year, Capt. George E. Pickett (later to lead the famous charge climaxing the Battle of Gettysburg) landed his company of 63 soldiers on the southern end of San Juan Island to protect U.S. citizens from the British government after an American settler, Lyman
Cutlar, had shot a pig belonging to the British-owned Hudson's Bay Company. What was really at stake was the possession of the entire San Juan archipelago, held in dispute between the two nations since 1846. By the time the crisis was settled, nearly 500 U.S. soldiers and three British warships would stand off on Griffin Bay. It would then require
12 more years of joint military occupation before the international boundary was settled and the San Juans became U.S. territory.
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acting Alden American Camp appears arrived August barracks blockhouse boundary Britain British building Capt captain claim Coast Columbia commander crisis Crook Delacombe Douglas early English Camp established Farm fence fish garden George George Pickett governor Griffin Bay guns Harbor Harney HBMS Hill Historical Hornby Hudson's Bay Company Jackson James John joint Juan de Fuca July known land late later lived miles military moved National Park Service Native Northwest Note occupation officers ordered Oregon original Pacific Panama parade ground photograph Pickett Point poses possession probably quarters remained River Royal Marine Royal Navy San Juan Island Satellite Scott Senator settled ship shown shows soldiers soon standing station steam steamer Strait Strait of Juan structures Survey taken took trap Treaty U.S. Army United Vancouver Island Washington West