Collection: Conquest of the Coeur d Alene Spokane and Palouse

Reckoning with the Palouse and Walla Walla

Headquarters Expedition Against Northern Indians, Camp on the Ned-whauld (Lahtoo) River, W. T., September 25, 1858 Sir: Yesterday I sent Brevet Major Grier with three troops of dragoons to Colonel Steptoe’s battleground, twelve miles south of this place. The major has this moment returned, bringing with him the remains of Captain Taylor and Lieutenant Gaston, who fell in the battle, and also the two howitzers abandoned by the troops when they retreated. I shall march tomorrow morning for the Palouse River. Very respectfully, your obedient servant, G. Wright, Colonel 9th Infantry, Commanding Major W. W. Mackall, Assistant Adjutant General, Headquarters Department of the Pacific, Fort Vancouver, W. T.” The direction from the site of the camp on the Nedwhauld to the battlefield of Tohotonimme is, rather, southwesterly, instead of directly south. A few of the Nez Perces accompanied the detachment as guides, and traveling as direct a route as possible across the intervening stretch of hills, the battleground was reached about noon. What a contrast the scene presented to that which was enacted there but a little over four months before! To the officers and men who now returned to review the ground for the first time since they rode away in the darkness of that May night, it was like an intrusion into sepulchral solitude. That those hills and vales once vibrated with the booming of cannon and...

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Letters of President Pierce to Colonel Steptoe

President Pierce appointed Colonel Steptoe as governor to succeed Brigham Young and his appointment was duly confirmed by the Senate. Owing to the peculiar conditions existing in Utah, the governorship of that territory was considered one of the most important appointments in the hands of the President, yet the appointment of Colonel Steptoe received the highest commendation from the press and the people generally who were familiar with the requirements of the office. Letter from President Pierce to Steptoe – Page 1 Letter from President Pierce to Steptoe – Page 2 Letter from President Pierce to Steptoe – Page...

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Yakima Chiefs Owhi and Qualchien

“Headquarters Expedition Against Northern Indians, Camp on the Ned-Whauld (Lahtoo) River, W. T., September 24, 1858. Sir: At sunset last evening the Yakima chief Ow-hi presented himself before me. He came from the lower Spokane River, and told me that he had left his son, Qual-chew, at that place. I had some dealings with this chief, Ow-hi, when I was on my Yakima campaign in 1856. He came to me when I was encamped on the Nah-chess River, and expressed great anxiety for peace, and promised to bring in all his people at the end of seven days. He did not keep his word, but fled over the mountains. I pursued him and he left the country. I have never seen him from that time until last evening. In all this time he has been considered as semi-hostile, and no reliance could be placed on him. This man Qual-chew, spoken of above, is the son of Ow-hi. His history, for three years past, is too well known to need recapitulation. He has been actively engaged in all the murders, robberies, and attacks upon the white people since 1855, both east and west of the Cascade Mountains. He was with the party who attacked the miners on the We-nat-che river in June last, and was severely wounded; but recovering rapidly he has since been committing assaults on our people whenever...

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Preliminary Treaty of 23 September 1858

Preliminary Articles of a Treaty of Peace and Friendship Between the United States and the Spokane Nation of Indians Article 1. Hostilities shall cease between the United States and the Spokane nation of Indians from and after this date. Article 2. The chiefs and headmen of the Spokane Indians, for and in behalf of the whole nation, promise to deliver up to the United States all property in their possession belonging either to the government or to individual white persons. Article 3. The chiefs and headmen of the Spokane Indians, for and in behalf of the whole nation, promise and agree to deliver to the officers in command of the United States troops the men who commenced the attack upon Lieutenant Colonel Steptoe, contrary to the orders of their chiefs, and further to deliver as aforesaid at least one chief and four men with their families as hostages for their future good conduct. Article 4. The chiefs and headmen of the Spokane nation of Indians promise, for and in behalf of the whole tribe, that all white persons shall at all times and places pass through their country unmolested, and further, that no Indians hostile to the United States shall be allowed to pass through or remain in their country. Article 5. The foregoing conditions being fully complied with by the Spokane nation, the officer in command of the...

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The Spokanes in Council

Headquarters Expedition against Northern Indians Camp on the Ned-whauld River, W. T. Lat. 47 Deg., 24 Min. N. September 24, 1858 Sir: I have the honor to submit a continuation of the history of my operations since the 21st, the date of my last communication (No. 18). Marching from my camp on the morning of the 22d, at the distance of three miles we emerged from the woods onto the open prairie, and after pursuing a west-southwest course for eighteen miles over a rolling country thinly studded with pines we reached this place and encamped. Before reaching here I was advised that the whole Spokane nation were at hand, with all their chiefs, headmen, and warriors, ready and willing to submit to such terms as I should dictate. Yesterday at 10 o’clock a. m. I assembled the Indians in council, and after enumerating the crimes they had committed, I made the same demands upon them which had been made upon the Coeur d’Alenes. Speeches were made by the principal chiefs. They acknowledged their crimes, and expressed great sorrow for what they had done, and thank fullness for the mercy extended to them. They stated that they were all ready to sign the treaty and comply in good faith with all its stipulations. The chiefs Garey, Polothin, and Mil-kap-si were present; the first two are Spokane, the last is a...

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Retribution for Previous Losses

Headquarters Expedition against Northern Indians, Camp on the Spokane River, W. T., 16 miles above the ‘Falls’ September 9, 1858. Sir: I remained during the 6th at my camp, three miles below the falls, as my troops required rest after the long march and battle of the previous day. No hostile demonstrations were made by the enemy during the day; they approached the opposite bank of the river in very small parties and intimated a desire to talk, but no direct communication was held with them, as the distance was too great and the river deep and rapid. Early on the morning of the 7th I advanced along the left bank of the Spokane, and soon the Indians were seen on the opposite side, and a talk began with our friendly Nez Perces and interpreters. They said that they wanted to come and see me with the chief Garey, who was nearby. I told them to meet me at the ford, two miles above the falls. I halted at the ford and encamped; soon after Garry crossed over and came to me; he said that he had always been opposed to fighting, but that the young men and many of the chiefs were against him, and he could not control them. I then told him to go back and say to all Indians and chiefs, ‘I have met you...

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Measuring Strength with the Northern Indians

Having crossed the river and being now properly in the land of the enemy, a final inspection of the different branches of the command and equipment was made before moving forward. Ominous signs had for several days appeared in the north. Smoke arising at various points during the day and the illuminated horizon at night indicated that the grass was being burned over a broad front, plainly denoting also that Indian scouting parties were vigilantly covering every nook and corner of that vast region. But few doubted that somewhere beyond that fire line the hostiles were preparing to the...

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Wright’s Order 6

Orders No. 6. Headquarters Expedition against Northern Indians Camp on Snake River, at Mouth of the Tucanon August 19, 1858 The field work erected at this place will be called “Fort Taylor. 1Named in honor of Captain Taylor, who fell in Colonel Steptoe’s engagement with the Northern Indians. Captain Keys, commanding the battalion of the 3rd artillery, will designate a garrison for Fort Taylor, of one company, or at least sixty-five rank and file, exclusive of officers. The two six-pounders will be mounted in Fort Taylor. The two mountain howitzers, with ammunition, &c., complete for field service, will be turned over to an officer to be designated by Captain Keys. Assistant Surgeon Brown is assigned to duty with the garrison of Fort Taylor. The troops of all arms will be held in readiness to cross the river as soon as the fort is completed. By order of Colonel Wright P. A. OWEN, First Lieutenant 9th Infantry, A. A. A. G.” Headquarters Expedition against Northern Indians Camp on Snake River, at Mouth of Tucanon August 19, 1858 Sir: I reached this point yesterday, and Captain Kirkham, with the pack train and residue of the supplies, arrived this morning. The field work at this place is progressing rapidly, and will be ready for occupancy within four days. On my march from Fort Walla Walla the weather was in tensely hot, and...

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Wright’s Order 5

On the return of Lieutenant Davidson to Walla Walla with the supply train, as directed in Orders No. 3, Colonel Wright, being in readiness, moved forward with but brief delay. While yet at Walla Walla he issued the following orders for the government of the command throughout the coming campaign. Orders No. 5. Headquarters Expedition against Northern Indians Camp Near Fort Walla Walla, W. T. August 14, 1858 The residue of the troops for the northern expedition will march from Fort Walla Walla tomorrow, and unite with the advance at the Snake River. Marching from Snake River, the order will be as follows: The dragoons The mountain howitzer company The battalion of artillery serving as infantry The rifle battalion of 9th infantry Pack train of corps and headquarters One company of infantry as rear guard General trains of quartermaster and commissary. The mounted troops will not precede the howitzer company more than four hundred yards, and on approaching canons or defiles where dragoons cannot operate on the flanks, they will be halted and the rifles advanced. No firearms of any description will be dis charged, either on the march or in camp, except in the line of duty, without the special authority of the commanding officer. No person except the employees of the staff departments and officers’ servants will be allowed to accompany the troops or to encamp with...

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Wright’s Order 3

Chief Timothy was proud of his own record of friendly relationship with the whites, and his counsel to his people was ever to preserve a spirit of good feeling between the two races. He possessed an old flint-lock gun which, he said, was given to his father by the explorers, Lewis and Clark, and which he valued highly as an heirloom. He himself remembered the visit of the explorers, and in his declining years loved to recount the events which clustered around the coming and going of the first party of federal officials that ever traveled across the continent. Colonel Wright did not accompany the column from The Dalles to Walla Walla, the command for that movement probably having been given to Captain Erasmus D. Keys of the Third artillery. The colonel, with a suitable escort, reached Walla Walla a few days after the arrival of the force. Immediately after the arrival all arms of the command were put through rigorous drills which were continued daily by way of preparing for the exigencies of the northward movement. The Third artillery companies, with the exception of Major Wyse’s company, drilled twice a day at light infantry tactics. Major Wyse practiced his company in the regular artillery drill, using mules for the mounted battery instead of horses, as had there to fore been the custom. Some unusual interest was observable among...

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Treaty Of Peace and Friendship Between the United States and the Nez Perces Tribe

While Wright’s force was encamped at Willow Creek, a point about half way between The Dalles and Walla Walla, Colonel Steptoe, Captain Kirkham and Lieutenant Davidson, with an escort of fifteen dragoons, passed on the way to Walla Walla. Colonel Steptoe was returning from, a trip to headquarters at Vancouver; Captain Kirkham was to attend Colonel Wright’s expedition as assistant quartermaster, and Lieutenant Davidson had been ordered to take command of Lieutenant Gaston‘s company, which was still at Walla Walla. One of the important objects which it was desired to have accomplished before Colonel Wright should start upon the campaign was that of entering into a treaty of peace and alliance with the strong and friendly disposed Nez Perces. Colonel Steptoe was entrusted by General Clarke with the duty of conducting the negotiations with this tribe, but apprehending from certain remarks he had heard from the Nez Perces that they supposed him to entertain different views from those held by Colonel Wright, and knowing, too, that any negotiations had with other tribes, or any portion of the Nez Perces met in the field during the campaign, would be had under the direction of Colonel Wright, Colonel Steptoe suggested the advisability of placing the matter of this treaty also in the hands of Colonel Wright. Accordingly, after calling together the principal men of the tribe, so far as they could...

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Preliminaries Before the Battle at Tohotonimme

The events of Colonel Wright’s expedition against the Indians who opposed the advance of Colonel Steptoe are set forth in detail and at length in his own reports and letters. These appear in full in the following pages with the interjection of such information from other sources as the author deems expedient for the purpose of rendering the narrative complete. Preceding the reports of the expedition is also the pertinent correspondence leading up thereto. Because of the exactness and completeness of detail which characterize these reports, written from the field, as they were, during the progress of the campaign, their value as historical matter could hardly be improved upon; therefore no apology is offered for their appearance in this volume. In order to be in closer touch with operations which were decided to be necessary for the subjugation of the northern Indians, General Clarke, after receiving full intelligence of Colonel Steptoe’s defeat, proceeded to Vancouver, Washington Territory. In the meantime it had come to his knowledge that the Hudson Bay Company’s pack train at Colville, consisting of some two hundred horses, was about to start for Fort Hope to bring in the year’s supplies, and that it was intended to bring also about two thousand pounds of powder with a proportionate quantity of ball. It had previously been the custom of the company’s agent at Fort Colville to barter...

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Casualty Report – Battle at Tohotonimme

Report of the killed, wounded and missing in the battle at To-hoto-nim-me, May 17, 1858 Company C, First Dragoons. Killed Brevet Captain O. H. Taylor Private Alfred Barnes Mortally wounded Private Victor Charles De Moy Severely wounded Privates James Lynch and Henry Montreville Slightly wounded Farrier Elijah R. Birch Company E, First Dragoons Killed Second Lieutenant William Gaston Mortally wounded First Sergeant William C. Williams Severely wounded James Kelly, William D. Micon, and Hariet Sneckster. Slightly wounded James Healy, Maurice Henly, Charles Hughes, and John Mitchell. Company H, First Dragoons Killed Privates Charles H. Harnish and James Crozet Missing First Sergeant Edward Ball 1It is said that Sergeant Ball assisted the commissary in carrying out the orders to destroy the liquor in the evening at the close of the battle, and being overcome by the effects of the spirituous ration, made his way through the darkness to the creek, where, under cover of the brush, he stretched himself in slumber. He was awakened by the chill air of the early morning and after advising himself that no other representative of the command remained about the field, he put off in pursuit of his fleeing comrades, reaching the fort some time after their arrival. He was a man of sterling qualities as a fighter and possessed great powers of endurance. He was especially commended for his courage by Colonel Steptoe....

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Government to Establish a Military Road

With reference to Lieutenant John Mullan’s party, mentioned in this letter, as well as in that succeeding: The government had decided upon establishing a military road from old Fort Walla Walla (Wallula), on the Columbia River, to Fort Benton, on the Missouri river. By reason of his well-known skill, and his knowledge of the mountain section through which it was intended the road should pass, and the experience gained during the previous four years while assisting Isaac I. Stevens in searching out a route for a Pacific railroad from Minnesota to the Pacific coast, Mullan was chosen for this...

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