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The first known inhabitants of the area now known as Chico were the Mechoopda Maidu Native Americans. The City of Chico was founded in 1860 by John Bidwell, a member of one of the first wagon trains to reach California in 1843. During the American Civil War, Camp Bidwell (named for John Bidwell), was established a mile outside Chico, by Lt. Col. Abert and named after his former commanding officer Brigadier General Edward Canby who had been killed at Battle of Bear River while leading troops from Fort Walla Walla under Colonel Steptoe on December 22, 1868 against Chief Joseph and his band during their attempt to escape into Canada following defeat at Salmon River near present-day Riggins Idaho . Camp Bidwell was established as a training camp and headquarters for Major General George Crook's Colorado Volunteers; however it did not see any combat action due to an outbreak among some members that caused them to leave before it saw any military use.. The city became incorporated January 8, 1872.