Rodney Glisan & Army buddies mystify New Yorkers


Portlanders will recognize the name of Glisan.

Military surgeon Rodney Glisan (1827-1890) published his “Journal of Army Life” as a book in 1874, with a good deal of discussion of his six years in the Oregon Indian Wars (1855 to 1861).

Naturally, Glisan learned Chinook Jargon, as was common for soldiers in the Pacific Northwest in that period.

On page 361 he adds to our supply of Civil War-era Jargon “code talker” tales:

Some army friends of mine who had served in Ore-

gon sufficiently long to learn to speak it [Chinook Jargon] with facility,

chanced to meet at the St. Nicholas Hotel, in New-

York, a short while ago, and, in their conversation

with each other, used the jargon altogether, much to

the wonderment of bystanders, who were unable to

guess their nationality.

File this along with the known CJ anecdotes of U.S. Grant, Phil Sheridan, Ed Alexander, and Geo. Pickett.

There’s a little bit more Jargon in Glisan’s book, but the most interesting find in it by far is today’s ipsut wawa.