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Battle of Spokane Plains Official Report

Official Report Of Colonel Wright Head Quarters, Expedition against Northern Indians, Camp on Spokan River W, T., 12 miles below the Falls. September 6, 1858. To Major W. Mackall, Assistant Adj’t. General TJ. S. Army: Sir: I have the honor to submit the following report of the battle of the Spokan Indians fought by the troops under my command on the 5th inst1 Our enemies were the Spokans, Coeur d’Alenes, Pelouses and Pend ‘Oreilles, numbering from five to seven hundred warriors. Leaving my camp at the “Four Lakes” at 6 A. M. on the 6th, our route lay along the margin of a lake for about three miles, and thence for two miles over a broken country thinly scattered with pines, when emerging on to the open prairie, the hostile Indians were discovered about three miles to our right and in advance, moving rapidly along the skirt of the woods, and apparently with a view of intercepting our line of march before we should reach the timbers. After halting and closing up our long pack train, I moved forward, and soon found that the Indians were setting fire to the grass at various points in front and on my right flank. Capt. Keyes was now directed to advance three of his companies, deployed as skirmishers, to the front and right. This order was promptly obeyed, and Capt. Ord with Company K, Lieut. Gibson with Company M, and Lieut. Tyler with Company A, 3d Artillery, were thrown forward. At the same time Capt. Hardie, Company G, 3d Artillery, was deployed to the left, and the howitzer under Lieut. White, supported by...

Battle of Spokane Plains

For three days after our last fight we remained in camp, to recruit the animals of the command, exhausted by their long march. The Nez Percés were sent out to reconnoiter, but returned reporting no Indians to be in sight. During this time the weather entirely changed, growing damp and cold. September 5th. We left camp at six o’clock ih the morning, and after marching about five miles, saw the enemy collecting in large bodies on our right. They rode along parallel to us for some time, all the while increasing in numbers and becoming bolder. We had just emerged from the rough broken country and entered on a prairie, when they were seen occupying the woods on the right side of us, evidently about to make an attack. We had nearly reached the woods when they advanced in great force, and set fire to the dry grass of the prairie, so that the wind blowing high and against us, we were nearly enveloped by the flames. Under cover of the smoke, they formed round us in one-third of a circle, and poured in their fire upon us, apparently each one on his own account. The pack train immediately closed up, guarded by Captain Dent’s company of rifles, a company of the Third Artillery under Lieutenants Ihrie and Howard, and Lieutenant Davidson’s company of dragoons, while the command prepared to repulse the enemy. It was curious to witness the scene, the dust and smoke, and the noise and shouting of the Mexican muleteers driving forward to the centre four hundred overloaded animals, while the troops were formed about them...

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