Topic: Yakima Indian War

Coeur d’Alene War

A matter to be remarked is the variation in designations of the names of Indian wars of the Pacific Northwest. In some cases there is complete acceptance of a single designation. In those instances the fighting was entirely between the whites and a single tribe, or tribes which were blood relatives. Under other conditions the transition from one to another was not clearly defined, the blending of one series of hostilities often being overlaid by periods of inactivity or witnessing the passing of the warfare from the initiating tribe to some other tribe or combination of tribes. Hence it has been rather common practice to call the final phase of the Yakima War, the Coeur d’Alene War. Actually it might just as readily have been known as the Palouse War or the Spokane War because the first major engagement was precipitated by Indian allies in which the Palouse predominated numerically and the more important battles were fought in the country of the Spokane. It is true that the Coeur d’Alenes were always among the warring Indian allies and were probably the most reluctant to treat for peace and that much of the diplomatic strategy hinged upon bringing the Coeur d’Alenes under treaty. So it is this author’s opinion that the so-called Coeur d’Alene War was, in fact, the final phase of the Yakima War, as shown in the chapter...

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The Winter of 1855-1856

It will be recalled that Governor Stevens of Washington Territory had been marooned to the northeast by the war. Fort Bennett received him late in the day on December 20, 1855. He had exhibited a rare insight into Indian character in his masterly conduct of treaty negotiations. Governor Stevens had left Walla Walla in June, 1855, with an escort of Nez Perce and had spent some time in establishing a spirit of cooperation with the Kootenai, Pend d’Oreilles, and Flathead tribes before visiting the Blackfeet. In October, having concluded a treaty with the latter tribe, he prepared to return...

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Colonel Wright Arrives with his Regulars

On December 21, 1855, the volunteers in the Walla Walla Valley were faced with a new snow-fall followed by a temperature of 20 degrees below zero. Their equipment and clothing did not con-form to the needs of the weather. Shoes were worn out and many of the men improvised moccasins from rawhide. Blankets and jackets had worn thin. Camp was moved from Fort Bennett to a location several miles north of present-day Walla Walla. There was plenty of beef and ample supplies of potatoes in the new camp and these provisions were supplemented by recovered caches of Indian food...

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The Yakima War, 1855-56

Governor Stevens sent James Doty to notify the tribes of a series of councils to be held in May, 1855, the first of which was to be attended by the Yakima, Cayuse, Walla Walla, and Nez Perce. Kamiakin, chief of the Yakima, selected as the council ground a place in the Walla Walla Valley not far from Waiilatpu. Governor Stevens and Superintendent Palmer were escorted there by Lt. Archibald Gracie and 47 dragoons. The presents for the chiefs were stored at Ft. Walla Walla. Comfortable arrangements were made at the council grounds and on May 24th the first of...

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Battle of Seattle

Governor Stevens soon learned that, as an adjunct to the Yakima War, there had been serious outbreaks in the Puget Sound country and that there was every prospect of more to follow soon. Often designated as “The Battles of Puget Sound” or “The Battle of Seattle” they were really a part of the Yakima War and are detailed here not alone for their intrinsic historical interest but also to show the wide-spread disaffection of the Western Washington tribes. Kamiakin, principal chief of the Yakima, was adept in his use of emissaries to incite and to threaten reprisals on any...

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Affairs Other than Major Rains’ Expedition

Kamiakin was a man of mixed talents and many outstanding characteristics and easily the outstanding Indian personality in the entire Columbia Basin. He was tall, muscular, and very dark, with a bearing that was regal. He had condemned the Cayuses for the Whitman massacre but was true to his race and wanted only the peaceful possession of the country for his people. On the other hand, foreseeing the inroads of the white people and the ultimate consequences, he decided that the only way through which the Indians could continue to hold their lands was by the extermination of the...

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Biography of Frederick Proebstel

FREDERICK PROEBSTEL. – This pioneer of the Wallowa valley was born in Germany in 1829, and with his parents emigrated to America in 1842 and located in Missouri. In 1852 he made the crossing of the plains to Lewis County, Washington Territory, locating on Fourth Plain. Mr. Proebstel, belonging to the family of this name, a number of whose biographies are found in this volume, shared many experiences in common with others, and was one of the Indian fighters of 1855-56, and wishes to bear special testimony to the liberality of the Hudson’s Bay Company during the hard winter of 1852, when many must have suffered without their assistance. Of the many stories which he tells with feeling and humor in regard to the early settlement of the Wallowa valley, the following are specimens. His niece, returning home from the log schoolhouse one evening met face to face by a panther. Being near home, she called out to her father, and meantime struck the animal with one of her school books. The stroke and the scream caused the panther to slink away; and the father, coming quickly with his gun, secured a fine skin. In 1879 Mr. Proebstel drove his herds to the Imnaha, a portion of the Wallowa country, in order to obtain open range. There he stayed for four years, and while there was much annoyed by...

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Biography of Gen. John H. Stevens

GEN. JOHN H. STEVENS. – This hero of a hundred Western adventures, and a pioneer of the great Inland Empire, was born on a town line in Windham County, Vermont. The son of Asa Stevens, a miller and farmer, he learned to use his hands and brain in practical affairs, and at the village school obtained a good working education. In his youth he followed business in Boston, and was engaged in lumbering in Pennsylvania. In 1832 he came west to Michigan, and at Coldwater, Branch County, kept a hotel, advancing his business also by taking mail contracts, and in such early ventures as the conditions of life in the Wolverine state afforded at that early day. He became a colonel in the state militia, and succeeded also to a generalship. Eight years he served as sheriff of Branch county, and during that time made many notable arrests. In 1852 he prepared for the journey to Oregon, rigging up a large team of mules and horses, and with his daughter Mary C., who subsequently became the wife of the famous lawyer of Eugene, Oregon, Stukeley Ellsworth, and with thirteen young men, among whom was Green Arnold, now of LaGrande, made the journey across the plains. Although in the midst of the pestilential cholera, he lost but one man. He made a speedy trip, covering the distance from the Missouri...

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Biography of Capt. Pleasent Calvin Noland

CAPT. PLEASENT CALVIN NOLAND. – Captain Noland, one of the most substantial farmers of Lane County, and for nearly forty years a resident of Oregon, was born in Missouri in 1830. His ancestry extends to Ireland and Wales; and his grandfather, Leadstone Noland, was a soldier in the war of the Revolution. His father, Smallwood V. Noland, became a pioneer of Missouri, and a very conspicuous man in that region, and as commissioner of Jackson County was concerned in the removal of the Mormons, by whom he nearly lost his life. In 1846, entering the service of the United States army, Captain Noland, our subject, was sent to Indian Territory instead of Mexico, and in 1849 crossed the plains to the mines of California. Returning East in 1851, he drove the next year a team to Santa Fé, and in 1853 came to Oregon. The journey terminated in a manner as difficult and severe as that of 1845 in Meek’s cutoff; for at Matthews the immigrants were met by a man from the Willamette valley who was coming to meet his family and conduct the train by a new route to the latter place. This was to cross the Cascades by the middle fork of the Willamette River. Nearing the mountains, eight men, including Captain Noland, went ahead with ten days’ rations intending to cross the chain of the...

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Biography of Hon. James Willis Nesmith

HON. JAMES WILLIS NESMITH. – Oregon has given a few men to the nation; and the luster of their memory still shines in the galaxy of her heroes. Colonel Baker, one of the most brilliant men ever at Washington, District of Columbia, has coupled with his title that of senator from Oregon. Yet he was in no sense an Oregon-made man, but rather made use of Oregon to elevate him to a seat which it was impossible for him to attain from Illinois. With Colonel Nesmith, however, the case was the reverse. He was as truly an Oregon man as one of his age could be, not only coming to our state with the first immigration, but gaining largely here his education, principles and manners. As a commanding historical figure, it will be proper here to notice the circumstances of his life, his political career, and his mental and moral characteristics. We do not often find distinguished ability without finding also antecedent capacity in the ancestry. The family to which our senator belonged is remotely of Scotch Presbyterian blood, but as early as 1690 removed to the north of Ireland, becoming thereafter of the Scotch-Irish race, who have made themselves famous on both sides of the Atlantic. In 1718 the family removed to America; and William Morrison Nesmith, the father of our subject, connected himself by marriage, about 1814,...

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Biography of Hon. Jackson L. Morrow

HON. JACKSON L. MORROW.- It is not so uncommon a thing in this land of a great future for a man to lay out a town or build a city; but there is, we believe, but one man in the state who may be called the maker of a county, and whose name is perpetuated in its designation: that man is Jackson L. Morrow, of Heppner, Oregon, whose sketch is here presented. This honor was worthily bestowed upon him at the instance and almost insistence of his neighbors, in recognition of his privations and labors in settling up the region, in building Heppner, and in securing the division of Morrow county from Umatilla. A region which was once regarded as inaccessible and desolate has now become, by the efforts of a driving body of men, beginning with Mr. Morrow and Mr. Heppner, a thriving and prosperous portion of Oregon. The population of the county is now six thousand, and of Heppner itself about one thousand, with a good outlook in the near future for five thousand. A branch line of the Oregon Railway & Navigation Company brings the city within easy reach of all the markets, and taps a great grain and grazing belt. The first settler upon the townsite of the city was G.W. Standsbury. Morrow and Heppner came next; and together they set in operation the works...

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Biography of Hon. Isaac Ingalls Stevens

HON. ISAAC INGALLS STEVENS. – Governor Stevens was born at Andover, Massachusetts, March 18, 1818. He graduated from West Point in the class of 1839, of which he stood at the head, and immediately thereafter was commissioned second lieutenant of engineers. In 1840 he was promoted to a first lieutenancy. In the war with Mexico (1846-1848) he served on the staff of General Scott and for gallant and meritorious services at Contreras, Churubusco and Chapultepec earned the brevet rank of major. He was severely wounded in the capture of the City of Mexico from the effect of which he suffered during life. At the close of that war, Alexander Dallas Bache, Superintendent of the United States coast survey, appointed him chief clerk in charge of the office at Washington, District of Columbia, a position he resigned in March, 1853, to accept the first governorship of Washington Territory. He journeyed thither across the continent, exploring a route from the headwaters of the Mississippi River to Puget Sound. On the 29th of September,1853, he entered the territory and assumed the performance of his gubernatorial duties therein. He issued his proclamation thereof at the crossing of the dividing ridge on the summit of the Rocky Mountains bearing that date. During the years 1854 and 1855, as superintendent of Indian affairs, he concluded treaties with the native Indian tribes within the territory, by...

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Biography of Hon. James B. Sperry

HON. JAMES B. SPERRY. – The striking difference between a savage and a civilized community is the multiplication of different industries in the latter. The most of our interest in life arises from the interdependence of many persons, each supplying some single necessity of all the rest. The man who makes flour for the people of Heppner, Oregon, is Mr. Sperry. He built his mill with a capacity of seventy-five barrels in 1885, from means realized by the sale of his band of fourteen thousand sheep, which he drove to Montana to market. He is one of the substantial men of the city, a reliable, kind neighbor, as well as a driving man of business. He was born in Lawrence County, Ohio, in 1834. After living some time in Iowa, the family moved on across the plains without disturbance from the Indians, and located in Linn county, Oregon, in 1856. Farming and trading-over the country, and mining by odd spells, engaged his attention for a number of years. During the Rogue river Indian war of 1855-56, he bore an active part, assisting in the fight at Big Meadows. He was also in a company of twenty sent to Rogue River to escort a government train. Being an active young man of twenty, and always ready for a brush, he was usually elected for any special work. He was record...

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Biography of W. B. D. Newman

W.B.D. NEWMAN. – This well-known pioneer and veteran of the Indian wars comes of primitive stock of old Virginia, where the English family settled on the south bank of the Potomac, and where the father of our subject was born in 1793, and grew up to be a stout defender of the young American republic in the war of 1812. The mother, Matilda Downing, was also of Virginia, having come from that state to Kentucky. William was born in 1827 in the latter state, and two years later accompanied his parents to Ohio. Meeting with the loss of his mother at an early age, he was brought up under the care of his mother’s sister, and received his education at Ripley, Ohio. At the age of fifteen he began work on his own responsibility on the banks of the Ohio River, and upon neighboring farms. His way led down the Ohio and the Mississippi, even to New Orleans, but not liking the South, he bent his steps towards the West. In 1848 he was in Illinois. Making also a trip to Indiana, he found there a party preparing to cross the continent to Puget Sound, and joined the company. A requirement of the organization made it necessary that for every four men there should be provided two yoke of oxen, or two span of horses, and the party set...

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Biography of F. M. Naught

F.M. NAUGHT. – Mr. Naught, whose life experience contains many incidents of unique interest, was born in Illinois in 1838, and removed as a child to Texas, and in 1846 to Iowa. In 1853 he crossed the plains to Oregon and located in Polk county. Upon the outbreak of the Indian war in 1856, he joined Captain F.M.P. Goff’s Company K, Washington Territory Volunteers, and came east of the cascades. In July of that year, a part of Captain Goff’s company quartered at Fort Henrietta was summoned to the relief of Major Leighton’s command, which was surrounded on the John Day river. Starting late in the evening with ten days’ rations, they rode that night and arrived upon the scene the next evening. The Indians fled upon their approach. Encamping that night with Leighton’s command, the united force of the volunteers started up the river in pursuit of the Indians, following so closely in their track as frequently to find meat still cooking. Finally, upon the headwaters of Burnt river, they sighted some of the savages. Lieutenant William Hunter, with twenty-seven men, was ordered forward; and a skirmish ensued in which two of the volunteers were killed and one wounded. The Indians surrounded them; and for twenty-six hours it was necessary to fight on the defensive. But at last the two companies came to his relief; and the Indians...

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