Topic: Indian Wars

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 inst 1The three companies of 8d Artillery above mentioned. 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...

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Battle of Four Lakes Official Report

Official Report Of Colonel Wright, After The Battle Of The “Four Lakes.” Head Quarters, Expedition against Northern Indians, Camp at “Four Lakes;’ W. T. Lat. 47″ 82 north. Long. 117” 89 west September 2d, 1858. Sir: I have the honor to submit the following Report of the battle of the “Four Lakes,” fought and won, by the troops under my command, on the 1st inst. Our enemies were the Spokan, Coeur d’Alene, and Pelouze Indians. Early in the morning of the 1st, I observed the Indians collecting on the summit of a high hill, about two miles distant, and I immediately ordered the troops under arms, with a view of driving the enemy from his position, and making a reconnaissance of the country in advance. At half past 9 A. M. I marched from my camp with two squadrons of the 1st dragoons, commanded by Brevet Major W. N. Grier, four companies of the third artillery, armed with rifle muskets, commanded by Capt. E. D. Keyes; and the rifle battalion of two companies of the 9th infantry, commanded by Capt. F. T. Dent; also one mountain howitzer, under command of Lieut. J. L. White, 3rd artillery, and thirty friendly Nez Percés Indian allies, under command of Lieut. John Mullan, 2nd artillery. I left in camp all the equipage and supplies, strongly guarded by company “M,” 3rd artillery, commanded by...

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Conclusions of the Pacific Indian War

The older officers regard the campaign we have just past through, as one remarkable in many respects. One is, the little loss which has been sustained. But two men have died, and those from eating poisonous roots. But one man has been wounded in action; and we have lost, by all the difficulties of marching through the forests and crossing rivers but three horses and about fifty mules. It is a proof of the skill and judgment with which the expedition has been conducted. For our freedom from loss in the two battles, I have already stated we are indebted to the fine discipline of the men, the skill of the commanders, and to the long range of our rifles. Had we been armed with the old muskets, the result might have been very different. The whole campaign, indeed, would undoubtedly have ended, as it now has done, in the humbling of the Indian tribes, but we should probably have missed many from our ranks, when the column marched back to Walla Walla. The object, too, was most thoroughly accomplished. The Indian tribes, hitherto so troublesome and defiant, have been entirely subjected. They have been taught the power of the government, their worst chiefs have been cut off and hostages given sufficient to keep them in obedience. Of their head men who are hostile, none remain but Kamiaken, and...

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Return to Fort Taylor

October 1st.The artillery battalion, one troop of dragoons, the commissary and quarter-master’s train, and the Indians and hostages under charge of Lieutenant Fleming, all under the command of Captain Keyes, left the camp on Pelouze River about six in the morning, and after marching eighteen miles, reached Snake River at noon and crossed over to Fort Taylor. We encamped on exactly the same ground we had occupied before the campaign. At the Fort, Major Wyse and Dr. Brown received us with the greatest hospitality. October 2d This morning we took leave, with many regrets, of Lieutenants Mullan and Owen. The former is under orders for Fort Vancouver, and the latter for Fort Dalles, to resume his duties as Adjutant of the Ninth Infantry. At noon. Colonel Wright, with the rest of the command, arrived at the river, and crossing over, encamped half a mile up the Tucanon. A salute was fired from Fort Taylor, in honor of Colonel Wright, as soon as he appeared on the opposite side. October 3rd. Orders had been received for us to remain on Snake River, and we supposed, therefore, that for the present we had finished our march. Early this morning, however, an express arrived rescinding the former orders, and making Fort Vancouver the place of our destination. The camp was therefore broken up, and we marched two miles and encamped on the...

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Pelouze (Palouse) Council

September 26th. Left camp at half-past six this morning, and marched over a rolling, grazing country. By the side of a small cotton wood grove we saw the remains of thirty-four Indian lodges, probably deserted on the first advance of the troops into this country. Some of the lodge poles, from their magnitude, showed that the lodges must have been of considerable size. We marched fifteen miles and encamped on Silseepovestlem creek, where the water was good, but not plentiful. Today was the coldest we have had on our march. September 27th. We broke up camp between six and seven in the morning, and marched ten miles. The day was exceedingly cold, and it rained hard all the time. The men, however, bore it cheerfully, for their faces were homeward, and in a few days they expect to reach Fort Taylor. For a few miles our way lay through the open timber, by the side of a large lake. We camped on a small stream. September 28. Began our march at six o’clock this morning through a level, rocky country. We made about twenty-five miles during the day, finding water plentiful, our way, at one time, being along the banks of a lake. The grass for most of the distance of our route had been burned off. Through the whole day the weather was threatening, and before night the...

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Dead of the Battlefield

We are now only about ten miles from Colonel Steptoe’s battle ground, and this morning a small force was dispatched to the place to try and recover the remains of the gallant men who were killed in that action, that with proper ceremonies their comrades may commit them to earth, paying to them the last honors which a soldier can have. They are also to search for the two howitzers which were cached in the neighborhood. The party will be gone about two days, and consists of three companies of dragoons, Major Grier’s, Lieutenants Gregg’s and Pender’s, together with Lieutenant White, with the howitzer mules, to bring in the guns. Dr. Randolph, who (as well as Lieutenant Gregg) was in the battle, accompanied the command. Lieutenant Howard was also with them, together with Lieutenant Mullan and his party. The latter, as Topographical Engineer, was sent to determine the position of the battle ground, while his assistants will make a map and sketches of the place. Some Spokans and Coeur d’Alenes went as guides. Today the Colonel had brought before him the Pelouze chief and ten warriors, who came into the camp on the 21st, representing themselves to be Nez Percé, They are such a worthless set, that there is no idea of treating them with the consideration shown to the other Indian tribes. The Colonel, therefore, told them, “they...

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Owhi and Qualchien

This evening, Owhi, the brother-in-law of Kamiaken, came into camp, as he said, to make peace. I first saw him, as I did Kamiaken, three years ago at the Walla Walla council, where he opposed all treaties to cede their country, not only with great zeal but with much ability. His speech, of which I took notes at the time, particularly impressed me. It was thus: “We are talking together, and the Great Spirit hears all that we say today. The Great Spirit gave us the land, and measured the land to us. This is the reason that I...

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Spokan Council

September 22d. We left camp at half-past six this morning, and marched seventeen miles through a rolling country, occasionally diversified by open timber. When we reached camp, we found that the head chiefs and warriors of the Spokans had come in, accompanied by Father Joset. Kamiaken and Tilkohitz were in last evening, but their courage seemed to have failed before the time of meeting Colonel Wright, and they went off again. Colonel Wright sent Gearry (the Spokan chief) and Big Star out after Kamiaken, telling him to come in and he should not be harmed; but if he did not surrender himself, he (the Colonel) would hunt him down until he captured him, and then put him to death. Kamiaken has been for years the most powerful chief among all these tribes, and at the same time the most relentless enemy of the whites. He is the head chief of the Yakimas, his mother having been a Yakima, and his father a Pelouze This gave him great influence with both these, tribes, and by his talents he has acquired authority with all the northern Indian nations. He seems to occupy the same position with them that Tecumpsah formerly did with our north-western tribes. My first acquaintance with him was at the Walla Walla Council, three years before. There, it was evident that he was the great impediment in the...

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Coeur d’Alene Council

The Coeur d’Alenes have always been remarked for their determined opposition to the whites. They perseveringly set themselves against any intrusion into their country, and if they had possessed strength to carry out their wishes, their hunting-grounds would never have been trodden by the foot of a white man. It was from this trait that they received their name Coeur d’Alene pointed hearts, or hearts of arrows. They were now for the first time to meet the whites in council, where their only hope was in unqualified submission. It was the first meeting of the kind on, our expedition, and we were now to witness the effect of the severe lesson which the Indians had been taught. The council met in front of Colonel Wright’s tent. A bower had been hastily constructed of branches of trees, and in this sylvan saloon we were to meet the sons of the forest. At one end was the Colonel, surrounded by his officers, while the rest of the space was filled by the Coeur d’Alenes, generally (as an Indian chief once expressed it) “resting on the bosom of their mother earth.” About a hundred and fifty were present. Our two regular Interpreters were there, and also Father Joset from the Mission, who lent us his aid in interpreting to Vincent, when the latter repeated it to the other chiefs present. The Council...

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Coeur d’Alene Mission

September. 10th.This morning an Indian runner came in from the Coeur d’Alene mission, bringing a letter from Father Joset to Colonel Wright. Its import was, that the Indians were entirely prostrate and desired peace; and that they had requested him (the priest) to intercede for them. A few days’ march will now bring us to the Mission. Today two companies more were detailed to shoot the rest of the horses. The officers and others selected theirs, about two hundred being saved in this way, and the remaining seven hundred shot. Most of those, however, which were retained, were shot afterwards, or escaped from us. They broke their fastenings or tore up the stakes to which they were tied at night, and dashed back again to their native wilds. They were entirely too wild to be of any use. We learned subsequently, that nothing “we had done so much prostrated the Indians as this destruction of their horses. At the time they were taken, there were some Indians witnessed it from the neighboring hills, who said, as we afterwards learned, “that it did not make a great deal of difference, as they would get them all back in a few days.” Their plan would have been to stampede them, in doing which they probably would have run off our animals with them. They were therefore very much taken by surprise,...

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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...

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Battle of Four Lakes

August 27th. Today we left the river. We had reveille at half-past three in the morning, and marched at five. We made fifteen miles, and encamped on the Pelouze River. August 28. We made but five miles today, encamping on Cheranna creek, where we found plenty of wood, fine grass and water. We are all on the alert, as any hour may find us in face of the enemy. What the programme of the campaign is, none of us know. We suppose, indeed, that our commander can have no definite plan, as we are entering a country almost entirely unknown to us, but he will have to be guided by circumstances. An Indian war is a chapter of accidents. The camp talk is, that we have stores for only forty days, during which time we must find and beat the enemy. August 29th. Marched at six o’clock this morning, and made twenty miles, encamping on Cottonwood creek. The country hitherto has been rocky and mountainous, but to-day it became more level, and is thickly sprinkled with timber. It has however been hard marching for the men, the water being very scarce and poor when found. This evening we came in sight of the Coeur d’Alene Mountains, and beyond them had a faint view of the Rocky Mountains. August 30th. Left camp at six o’clock, and marched over a rocky,...

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Building Fort Taylor

August 5th.Today the Third Artillery received orders to march in two days as far as Snake River (about sixty miles), to erect fortifications. This will take about a week. By that time the rest of the command will arrive there, when we will all start together. For some days Lieutenant White has been employed in superintending the making of gabions for the field works, as there is no wood on Snake River adapted to this purpose. August 7th. We left Walla Walla at nine in the morning, and marched eight miles to Dry creek, finding the country covered with luxurious grass, and an abundance of wood and excellent water. Our force, which is under the command of Captain Keyes, consists of one company of dragoons and six companies of artillery, with two twelve pounder howitzers and two six pounder guns. We transport with us, on pack mules and in wagons, thirty thousand rations. August 8th. Marched thirteen miles to Touchy River, a well wooded stream, skirted by rich valleys, where the grass is too moist for the Indians to bum, as they have done that on the entire plains from Walla Walla to Snake River. They hope thus to drive us back, by depriving us of forage for our animals. About half-way on our day’s march an express arrived fix)m Colonel Wright to Captain Keyes, with the information that...

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Fort Walla Walla

We reached Fort Walla Walla July 19th, after a march of twelve and a half days. The fort is almost on the ground of the Walla Walla Council which I attended three years ago, when those tribes we are now to fight were all represented, and their, great leader, Kamiaken, was himself present. It is in a beautiful spot of the Walla Walla valley, well wooded and with plenty of water. Ten miles distant is seen the range of the Blue Mountains, forming the south-eastern boundary of the great plains along the Columbia, whose waters it divides from those of Lewis river. It stretches away along the horizon until it is lost in the dim distance, where the chain unites with the Snake River Mountains. At this post are stationed four companies of the First Dragoons and two of the Ninth Infantry. The Dragoon officers are Major Grier, Lieutenants Davidson, Pender, Gregg and Wheeler. The Infantry officers are Colonel Steptoe, Captains Dent and Winder, Lieutenants Fleming and Harvie. Besides these, are Captain Kirkham, Quarter-master, and Dr. Randolph, Surgeon. The dragoon cantonment and the infantry post are about a mile apart, and we are encamped between them. The two companies of the Fourth Infantry, which were lately ordered up here, have had their orders changed and go to Simcoe. A command, consisting of three hundred men, leaves there on the 15th...

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Fort Dalles and the March

When last I saw this post, three years since, it seemed to me to be the most unattractive on the Pacific. Without even the beauty of scenery which surrounds Fort Vancouver, its sole recommendation was its healthiness. Nor did the Government buildings add anything to its appearance. Planned and erected some years ago by the Mounted Rifles, when they were stationed in Oregon, they were remarkably primitive, and very little attention had been bestowed upon their architecture. In those days, the ornamental had not yet been developed on the Pacific coast. (Note: This fort was located in what is now called The Dalles, not Dallas, Oregon) The change now is a great one, for during the past year new quarters have been erected, under the direction of Captain Jordan, Quarter-master, which are arranged in every way to promote the convenience of those for whom they are intended. The officers’ quarters are in the cottage form, and for taste are superior to those we have seen at any other post. On our arrival, my company, together with the three of the Third Artillery already there, camped about a quarter of a mile from the barracks, while the officers’ tents were pitched a short distance from those of the men. We at once commenced our regular routine. At nine in the morning, we have dress parade; at half-past nine, we drill...

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