History of the Pacific Northwest
Oregon and Washington 1889
Volume I
Page 525 - 539

Copyright 2000 - 2003 - Janine M. Bork
 This page is part of the  Union County, OR AGHP



CHAPTER L.
(1855-1856.)

The Oregon-Washington Indian Wars - Causes, Immediate and Remote - Race Conflict for Supremacy - Agency of the Treaties - Condition of the Territories as to Defense - Neglect of the Government to Station Sufficient Troops - The "Ward Massacre," 1854 - Indian Outrages Precipitate the War - Murder of Bolon, Indian Agent - Haller's Expedition to the Yakima Country - Official Knowledge of the Hostile Intentions of the Indians - Requisition of Major Rains on the Governors of Oregon and Washington for Volunteers - Response Thereto - Governor curry's Proclamation Calling for Eight Companies - Officers and Men, First Regiment Oregon Mounted Volunteers - Refusal of Major Rains, U.S. Army, to Furnish to Them Arms, Ammunition and Equipments - James W. Nesmith Elected Colonel - Governor Mason Appoints Major Rains Brigadier General of Washington Territory.

BEFORE proceeding to detail the operations and acts incident to and the aggregate of which constitute the story of the Oregon-Washington Indian war of 1855-56, a retrospect becomes necessary to ascertain its causes, immediate and remote, and to learn the situation at the time when that cloud of discouragement and temporary disaster so unexpectedly burst upon the exposed and then almost defenseless settlements of both territories. Thus also will be made apparent the difficulties surrounding the problem itself, the necessities for and the justification of that war; and it will be determined which race was really blamable for the war and its consequences.

     The Indian war of 1855-56 retarded settlement. For years it deterred many from coming to the territories. It almost entirely checked immigration. During its continuance, and for some time after its termination, the discouragement and loss it had occasioned caused numbers to abandon the territories. At the time of the outbreak in 1855, both Oregon and Washington were in the full tide of hopefulness as to the early future. Business was encouraging. Gold discoveries in the eastern section of the territory, then the all-prevailing incentive to immigration, had commenced to attractive attention. Miners from all parts of the Pacific slope were wending their way to the Colvile diggings. The people felt assured at last that gold existed in their midst, and that they were to reap that benefit which would accrue from a gold excitement. They indulged the fond hope, nay, they relied upon the assurance, that there was no danger to be apprehended from the Indians, as they had just concluded treaties of peace and amity. Especially was such feeling as to the future prospects, and as to the peaceable disposition of the Indian population, in the Puget Sound region. There it was, and with the Indians of the interior of Washington Territory and around the valley of the Walla Walla, that the war prevailed with which these pages are to deal. Part of the war ground was within the confines of Oregon Territory.

(525)


526                                                    HISTORY OF PACIFIC NORTHWEST - OREGON AND WASHINGTON.

     So far as the Indians not in the hostile parties exclusively making war against the Puget Sound settlements (the Indians of the interior), the problem of safe transit by white men through their territory en route to the northern mines was of quite as much interest and importance to Oregon as Washington. Independent, therefore, of the demands of a common humanity, the interests of Oregon were as materially affected as were those of Washington in the attempted closing of the interior, by the hostiles, to the advent of the miner. That vicinage of hostile occupancy and operation cut off travel from The Dalles, obstructed the channels and checked the pursuit of profitable business. It deterred miners from prosecuting their calling. It prevented the settlement and development of a region as beneficial and tributary to Oregon, and quite as much its appendage, as it was to Washington. True, the territories were separate and distinct. But their people were of the same race; and social ties and business relations existed which to a great extent made them as one. A common cause, a common sympathy and duty, a common interest in the necessity of, and in the opportunity to establish, peace and freedom from danger in that country through which the citizens of both might travel or settle, united the two in a common purpose to prosecute the war, to chastise the murderers of citizens of both territories, and to conquer a lasting peace for the mutual benefit of both.

     Again, when that outbreak burst upon the settlements, the United States military commander of the district invited both territories to aid him to protect the settlements (a duty assigned to him which he was utterly powerless to accomplish), called upon both territories, and made them co-operative factors in the prosecution of the war. The status was defined by the United States military commander of the district, he admitting his inability to keep the Indians in subjection, by soliciting the aid of the authorities of the two territories. The general government, by its authorized agents, itself is directly responsible for enlisting the two territories, and their citizen soldiery in the prosecution of that war. The most immediate cause for the necessity of thus involving those territories in war (or, at least, the statement cannot be gainsaid that such a war might have been avoided) was the supine neglect of the general government, and those intrusted with the defense of the western frontier, to place within the territories the means of protection to the settlements, or a force calculated to overawe the Indians or instill them with respect for the power of the general government. That wily and ever-observant race, who never failed to take advantage of the weak, fully appreciated the insignificance and utter weakness of the forces which had been stationed within the lines of the settlements to keep quiet and peaceable the hordes of Indians west of the Rocky Mountains, and who here and there had been restless and troublesome from the time that American settlement had been initiated. Tribes of them in many localities never had been peaceably disposed; and it was necessary to closely watch them all.

     The following is a faithful picture of the situation. The two territories embraced the region westward of the Rocky Mountains lying between the forty-second and forty-ninth parallels of latitude, containing an area of nearly 300,000 square miles. In this empire in extent, the white population was perhaps 40,000, of which number 5,000 were resident of Washington Territory, or that portion north of the Columbia river. The white settlements were isolated, and scattered from the California line northward to Bellingham Bay. In Washington Territory, there were perhaps 1,600 men capable of bearing arms;



                                                                                CONDITION OF THE TERRITORIES AS TO DEFENSE.                                                                527

in Oregon, perhaps 8,000. The Indian population numbered 20,000 in Washington Territory, and was but little less in Oregon. In the vicinity of the Columbia river, on both sides, the hostile bands were principally located east of the Cascade Mountains. On Puget Sound and in Southern Oregon, the white settlements were in close proximity to, and surrounded by, the hostile bands of Indians.

     Military posts had been established, and United States troops stationed throughout this wide domain, as follows: At Fort Steilacoom, two companies of infantry, 152 men; Fort Vancouver, two companies of infantry, 194 men; Fort Dalles, three companies, two of infantry and one of artillery, 231 men; Fort Lane (eight miles from Jacksonville), two companies of dragoons, 115 men; Fort Orford (Port Orford), one company of artillery, 27 men; a total of 741 men.

     A glance at the map - as to the extent and topography of the territory; the sites of the settlements; the points of location of the military posts; the number of troops in garrison, and the arm of service to which the companies respectively belonged; the hostile region and the number of hostile Indians - must at once force the conviction that, for the purpose of holding the Indians in proper subjection or repressing any outbreak of refractory tribes, such a military establishment was utterly useless. The commanding general of the department was at Benicia, many hundreds of miles from the scene of trouble, he who was responsible, from the fact that the territory and its settlements were entirely unprovided with the means of defense; for he it was who had made that distribution of the United States troops.

     Such was the defenseless condition of the territories. Such was their weakness; and their escape from a ruthless war of extermination did not depend upon the ability to cope with the hostiles, but from the fact that the Indians themselves, who thoroughly appreciated the weakness of the Whites, could not banish the jealousies existing among themselves, - their suspicions towards each other arising from their naturally perfidious disposition. Treachery was the pre-eminent characteristic of those Indians. They were intelligent and full of cunning and resource; nor did they lack physical courage, though they always sought the advantage, and depended more upon ambushing their victims than on open, manly warfare.  There remains no doubt of the fact, for it is abundantly corroborated by Indian testimony obtained since the cessation of hostile operations against them, that at intervals reaching back years anterior to the diabolical massacre of the peaceable inhabitants of Whitman's missionary station, and at various points in the entire region from  the California line to the northern boundary, plots were made and schemes were planned looking to a grand combination of all the tribes, to strike simultaneously at the exposed settlements, to murder isolated men, to cut off small parties, to exterminate the Whites as far as practicable, or at all events to create such a terror on their part that they would leave the country and deter others through fear from coming, and would thereby retard American settlement and civilization.

    This scheme, urged by the malcontents at the councils at the very time that they were assembled and consenting to make treaties of friendship with the Americans, and which had been canvassed for years previously, failed in great measure because the strike was premature, the plan not completed. The intention existed to strike along the whole line simultaneously. While the race generally, and with few exceptions, intended so to act, while all were cognizant of the movement projected, some withdrew at the last moment, betrayed their people and their plans, and sought to be longer fed and clothed by the government rather than go into the field and fight the Americans. The government



528                                            HISTORY OF PACIFIC NORTHWEST - OREGON AND WASHINGTON.

gladly accepted that alternative; for it was cheaper to feed than fight those who were willing to be fed. But the greater cause for the scheme having been only partially carried into execution is found in the very nature of the Indians themselves. Their disposition absolutely prevented even a heart and thorough alliance between the separate bands of the same tribe or nation, much less between separate and distinct nations. Mutual distrust keep them aloof from any harmonious action. False themselves to every trust, they doubted each other; and their combinations were neither cordial nor lasting.

     Limited space forbids, except in a general way, illustration of the clashings of the two adverse civilizations, the latent but all-powerful and ever-continuing irrepressible race conflict. Perhaps it were better to have said the conflict between our so-called civilization and (as we assume to style it) their barbarism. In the same region, both cannot survive. The assertion cannot be successfully controverted that American settlement cannot be made except by the occupancy of American territory by Americans, and the subsequent dedication of it exclusively to American civilization. Such is the general proposition, the great provoking cause, of the conflicts which are ultimately settled by the "survival of the fittest." American appropriation means Indian exclusion. That it was the purpose of Infinite Wisdom that this continent should become the abode of civilization, the arts and Christianity, can hardly be disputed; and all must admit that this march of civilization, in the appropriation of the wilderness for its benign purposes, necessitates the conflict between that race whose mission is to spread the benefits of civilization. The first - savage, without culture, without ambition - would not have that wilderness transformed. The other, with all the appliances of civilized life, obedient to destiny, drives before it the savage, levels the forest, and at one and the same time banishes the savage himself and the game upon which he subsists. As a necessity, the Indian must retire before the advancing settlements or to be absorbed, himself merged into the advancing column.

     If it be wrong or criminal to subdue the earth and replenish it; if it were a wrong to have established upon this continent the United States of America; if it be wrong to go forth and preach the gospel unto every people, - then is American colonization wrong, - American civilization the greatest of wrongs. This whole nation should have been left as it existed, prior to the discovery by Columbus of the New World. However much it is to be regretted, howsoever unfortunate that such transitions of the wilderness and barbarous regions must be necessarily accompanied by such conditions, yet Indian wars are but the essential concomitants of American settlement, the necessary evil from which untold good emanates. It measurably, however, removes the asperity of such cruel fact by the remembrance that the Indian himself has invariably selected the time when he would provoke the exercise of such necessity. He has always been allowed to prepare himself for his arraignment in hostility to the further advances of civilization. He strikes and strikes only when his victim is found to be defenseless, when settlements or settlers can be surprised, overpowered and are unable to resist. To him the advancing race has always magnanimously accorded the place and time for the commencement of hostile operations, and only accepted the dread alternative of subjugating him for self-protection. So it was especially the case in the Indian war in Oregon and Washington in 1855.

     It would be but an idle task to sum up the occasional acts of individual outrage, committed by both races through all those years since American settlement commenced west of the Rocky Mountains. Those predatory acts were local. Like a local disease,



                                                                             RACE CONFLICT FOR SUPREMACY.                                                                                529

they needed only local treatment; and in almost every instance were matters for summary settlement. The Indian war of 1855 was wide-spread and pervading. While many causes might be suggested as affecting the Indian mind and provoking hostility to American occupancy of the country; while it was precipitated by the perfidy of Indians who just before had joined in treaties to allure the white race into a belief of their security; while these very Indians went to that council to begin war there by the murder of the commissioners, - yet that war, so far as the Indians were concerned, was made on their part, not because of any personal outrages committed by Whites, not because of any injustice sought to be inflicted by virtue of those treaties, not because the terms of the treaties were unsatisfactory, but solely because it was the Indian purpose to exterminate the white settlements, to force the white race to abandon the territory. That war on the part of the Indians is perhaps sanctioned by what may be called patriotism. If merit it had, then is that merit obliterated by the perfidious cruelty which marked its declaration and commencement by them.

     On the part of the people and the authorities of the territory, the Oregon-Washington Indian war resulted from repeated and unprovoked outrages which were committed by savages upon unoffending and defenseless white men, women and children. The causes or the commencement should occasion no self-reproach nor shame to the people of either territory. In no respect were any citizens of those territories the aggressors. No act of their citizens nor of their officials provoked hostilities. There was no cause of complaint by the Indians; nor were they afforded a shadow of justification for that outbreak of perfidy and hate during the summer and fall of 1855. The only offense of the Oregon and Washington pioneers, in the Indian estimation, was that as American citizens they were in the country. That presence, lawful in itself, was to the Indians a standing menace that others of that race would follow them. The war was initiated by the native population to discourage immigration or American occupancy. Forced upon our people, it was prosecuted by them solely to hold the country for our race, to protect the settlements, and to effect a peace which would be lasting, and enable the white population, then in the country, and those who should come thereafter, to remain in safety. That conflict, so unexpected to the American settlers, and for which the were so illy prepared, may have been hastened by the negotiating of the treaties, and the events which so quickly followed, - event which could not have been anticipated by any, either Indian or White, who participated in those negotiations. In no sense, however, were those treaties the cause of those hostile feelings which brought about the war.

     With the purest of motives, for what was deemed the best interests of the Indians, to avoid all occasion for difficulties between the citizens and settlers which might lead to war, those treaties had been negotiated. By them the Indians were necessarily advised that those lands over which they had theretofore roamed where thereafter to be appropriated for American settlements. While it is true that those treaties were gratuitous promises to pay the Indians liberally for what they only nominally owned, still soon must follow that necessary sequel, though consented to by them, that the advance of settlement would necessarily circumscribe the area of their roaming haunts, and possibly restrict them to reservations. Those treaties also provided for a metamorphosis of Indian nature, obliterating his very identify, - civilizing him. Malcontents who had opposed the treaties, who merely attended the council in the expectation that it would culminate in the murder of the few Whites who attended the commissioners, jealous of Americans entering the territory, kept alive the discord. The predictions were made that, upon the



530                                        HISTORY OF PACIFIC NORTHWEST - OREGON AND WASHINGTON.

sale of those possessory rights by the Indians, the Whites would come in great numbers and fill up the country. The representations were made, which many pretended to believe, that they (the Indians) would be shipped on steamers to a sunless country. Orators inflamed their prejudice against the American race. The incoming of settlers, the spreading out of settlement consequent upon the belief that the Indians were friendly, the travel of miners through their country to newly discovered gold mines, all gave color to those insidious appeals. The faith was created: "White occupancy means Indian extermination." The predictions of the malcontents were apparently fulfilled. Those Indians who had been peaceably disposed were imbued with doubt. "Words replete with guile, into their hearts too easy access won." They had become enemies.

     Since American colonization began, Indian wars have thus been inaugurated. Indian disaffection has been accompanied with treacherous and perfidious murder by them of unsuspecting and unarmed victims. Exposed and defenseless settlements have been surprised and the inhabitants mercilessly sacrificed, regardless of sex or age. The war of 1855 was no exception in the long array of Indian rapine and cruelty. It was precipitated by the murder of a confiding, unsuspecting Indian agent in the performance of official duty, in the act of intended friendship; and also by the murder and mutilation of a number of miners who were peaceably traveling through the Yakima country, as they journeyed alone at a distance beyond any white settlements in pursuit of a legitimate vocation, which meant no offense to any Indian, and was not a trespass on any territorial right of that people. The lurking and illy concealed disaffection at the Walla Walla grand council in May, 1855, the sullen resentment at times apparent among that vast assemblage of five thousand Indians, the machinations of malcontents and marplots, were fed and stimulated in the caucuses held during the recesses of its meeting by the unforgiving and relentless Cayuses and Walla Wallas, who yet remembered their chastisement in the Cayuse war; and the disaffected Yakimas joined in the intended conspiracy. True, a treaty of amity and friendship was signed in June; yet during the negotiations, and up to the very night before the signing, those active plotters and conspirators had labored assiduously to defeat the acceptance of the treaties by the assembled tribes. They sought to array all present in a grand combination, and to commence their work of murder on the council ground by slaying the commissioners and the small party present, and to continue their work by a simultaneous blow at the white settlements while they were unprepared for attack. Such at least is Indian testimony, as reliable as any which can be found from such a source, and in this instance, however, abundantly corroborated by events which so shortly followed. To effect such a combination, to accomplish their purpose, the war orators made the assertion that the sale of their country to the Whites, as they were wont to term the objects of the treaties, would be followed by the immediate white occupancy of the territory; that the Americans would pour into the country in greater numbers than ever; that the United States troops would be used to force the Indians upon the reservations and confine them there as in a prison, while the Whites would occupy the whole country.

     The illustration as at hand to support those insidious appeals to native prejudice. It was co-existent with the meeting of that great council. It had been furnished by United States troops from Fort Dalles marching through their country en route to punish those of their race who had sought to stay the tide of immigration, who had resisted the further coming of Whites to the country, who had participated in that soul-sickening horror, that brutal carnival of blood, the "Snake River Massacre" of August 20, 1854.



                                                THE SNACK RIVER OR WARD MASSACRE OF 1854.                                                                                531

In May, 1855, a force of United States troops had been sent out to the Snake country to protect the immigrant route from Fort Hall westward, as also to punish those who had committed those murders in the previous year. Indeed, one of the stories most successfully used during the interval between the signing of the Walla Walla treaty and the initiation of the series of murders in the Yakima country in the last summer of 1855, by the preachers of the crusade against the white settlements, and to keep alive the disaffection and stimulate the uprising of the Indians, was the arrogant and boasting rumor that Major Haller and his command had been cut off and murdered by the Snake Indians.

     The "Snake River or Ward Massacre" of 1854, and those operations of the United States military authorities in the department of the Columbia consequent thereupon, greatly contributed tot he creation of an unsettled feeling by the Indians in the upper country. Those acts were inseparably connected with other contemporaneous incidents which were successfully referred to by the war-inciting orators to provoke Indian prejudice. They constituted the premises for insidious appeal. They furnished the causes of alleged grievances with which those orators inveighed against the further encroachment of Indian country by the presence of their white invaders. They were most successfully used to intensify disaffection, - to array in open hostility the tribes of Eastern Oregon and Washington.

     That lamentable and most horrible massacre by the Snake Indians of innocent and inoffensive men, women and children, who had never mediated offense (the legitimate out-cropping of Indian perfidy and hate), was heartily approved by the other tribes. The attempt of the United States troops acting in concert with the settlers and immigrants to punish it, and to prevent a recurrence of like outrages, had engendered the feeling of resentment in the whole race. Other tribes might not actively ally themselves in resisting that chastisement which the Snakes had so justly invited; but the murderous Snakes had the sympathy of all the Indian population of the great interior, regardless of tribal relations or past tribal jealousies or differences. About that, the fact had been made apparent to the Indian mind of all the nations, tribes or bands inhabiting the whole region, that United States troops were present in the country to force the Indians to submit to its occupancy by the Whites, nay more, were to be used to guard the routes by which the immigrants came, and thus encourage greater numbers year after year to come and fill up the country. Thus the orator for war was furnished with all-sufficient proof to sustain his appeals. His theory that the extermination of the Whites was essential to Indian autonomy was thoroughly supported by that illustration.

     What is usually known in history as the "Snake River Massacre," though called the "Ward Massacre" quite frequently to distinguish it from a similar catastrophe which occurred several years later, occurred on the 20th of August, 1854, upon the south side of Boise river, twenty-five miles above Fort Boise. The effective and wise Indian policy of the Hudson's Bay Company had rendered the country in the vicinity of Forts Hall and Boise perfectly safe for travel by white men so long as the Indians were aware that the company was present in the country. For years the immigrant wagon trains, and even small parties, had journeyed through the country without occasion for fear of Indians, and entirely escaping molestation from the natives. Such was the conduct of little parties in the year 1854; and seldom was any provision made against attack or depredation by Indians. The Ward party consisted of Alexander Ward, his wife and seven children, Dr. Charles Adams and brother, Samuel Mulligan, William Babcock, Mrs. William White and child (she was the wife of William White, a resident of Looking Glass Prairie, Douglas



532                                        HISTORY OF PACIFIC NORTHWEST - OREGON AND WASHINGTON.

country), John Frederick, Rudolph Shultz, Mr. Ames and a Frenchman, name unknown (1), with five wagons, forty head of cattle, six head of horses and the usual outfit and property of such a train of immigrants. Reckless of danger from Indians, they pursued their journey without precautions for defense in the event of an attack. Their arms were rusty and useless from continued neglect and disuse. In fact, they were no better off than if they had been entirely without weapons.

     They were suddenly attacked by a band of Winnass Indians (a tribe of the Shoshone or Snake nation) numbering thirty warriors, and were entirely unprepared to make any, and in fact made no, real resistance. Newton, a son of Mr. Ward, aged thirteen years, was the only survivor. From his statement it would seem that only Dr. Adams and Mr. Mulligan had made any struggle with the Indians; and that at the very outset the rest of the men were killed by their savage foe. Newton had been severely wounded, but succeeded in reaching the bushes, where he lay concealed until rescued by the small party of immigrants who heard the firing and hastened to the assistance of the Ward party. The eldest Miss Ward, who had attempted to escape by flight, was pursued; and she made such resistance that the enraged Indians shot her in the head. The murderous wretches then set fire to one of the wagons, heated an iron and with it mutilated her dead body. With the surviving women and children and four wagons, the Indians started for their camp upon the Boise river about a mile distant. When they had reached the bush, they burned up three wagons. Having outraged Mrs. White in the most horrible manner, they shot her in the head and instantly killed her. Mrs. Ward and the three small children were placed in the last remaining wagon, taken to the Indian camp only to be subjected to such torture as an Indian can only conceive. The three children were put in the wagon, and it set on fire. The children by their hair were held across the burning wagon and slowly charred to death, their mother being compelled to stand and witness their agony. Having been subjected to the same cruel penalty which Mrs. White had suffered, she was then dispatched by a blow from a tomahawk.

     Another party of immigrants were traveling sufficiently near to hear the firing, and to learn that an Indian attack had been made upon some of their number. A volunteer party of seven headed by William Yantis hastened forward, and seeing the Indians engaged in robbing the wagons charged upon them; but their numbers were insufficient to contend with the Winnass band, which numbered about thirty. In that struggle, a young man named Ammen was killed. Two days later, John F. Noble, who was at Fort Boise on his way to the states, led a party of eighteen volunteer immigrants to the site of the massacre. They found the bodies of Alexander Ward and his eldest son Robert, Mulligan, Adams, Babcock and Schultz at the place of the first attack. Young Ammen's body was found some three hundred yards distant. One hundred yards further on, they found the mutilated corpse of Miss Ward, shot through the head; and the evidence was manifest of the unspeakable outrages committed on her person. Not far distant, three wagons had been burned. Near at hand was found the mutilated body of Mrs. White. Across the river was the camp, which indications established had consisted of sixteen brush lodges. Among the débris of that camp was found the body of Mrs. Ward, tomahawked and mutilated, and near her the charred remains of her three little children, murdered by that slow fire in her agonized presence. The fate of the other four children, and John Frederick and the unknown Frenchman, never have been ascertained. The Indians could not be seen anywhere; but signs indicated their flight to the mountains.

     (1) House Miscellaneous Documents, Thirty-fifth Congress, second session, No. 47, page 58.



                                                PURSUIT OF THE PERPETRATORS OF THE WARD MASSACRE.                                                                533.

Noble and his party buried the mangled and mutilated victims of Indian atrocity, and forwarded by express the news to Fort Dalles, which reached there August 28th. On the next day, Major Haller, U.S. Army, organized a force numbering twenty-seven privates, together with himself, Lieutenant MacFeely and Surgeon George Suckley, who were joined by a company of thirty-seven volunteers, settlers and immigrants commanded by Captain Nathan Olney, Lieutenants Orlando Neal and J.A. Staley, all under the command of Major Haller. They reached Fort Boise September 11th, and were joined on the twenty-ninth by Lieutenant Day and fifteen troops, Third Artillery, U.S. Army.

     On the 12th of  September, the volunteers captured four Indians. They were placed in charge of Lieutenant Neal and six men, and in endeavoring to escape were shot. On the fifteenth, Major Haller with his force moved to the Payette river, and captured five empty lodges and several packs of dried salmon. The friendly Indians who had accompanied as guides found, in caches, articles which had been stolen from the Ward party. On the discovery of the Indian camp, Olney, with the volunteers, captured an old man, who proved to be head chief of the Winnass Indians, a squaw and three children. On the next day, the regulars surprised a lodge of Winnass Indians, killed two, and captured three squaws with several horses and a quantity of provisions. The command then returned to the Boise river, and made a night attack on a village of Indian lodges; but the Indians had a few hours previously made a hurried escape. The Haller expedition then marched thirty-five miles beyond Fort Boise, and went into camp. A scouting party on the 21st of September met a small party of immigrants headed by a man named Jeffreys. He informed them that Indians were following his train, and had threatened to attack it. The soldiers charged upon the pursuing Indians, who retreated. A horse was captured, but no Indians were killed. The soldiers continued the pursuit, and captured eight of the savages, who were summarily tried by a military commission, condemned and executed on a gallows erected on the Indian camp ground where Mrs. Ward had been so cruelly murdered, and her children burned to death. As the Jeffreys party were the last of the "immigration of '54," Major Haller with his command returned to The Dalles, without having lost a single man in the expedition.

    During the following May (1855), General Wool, U.S. Army, commanding the Department of the Pacific, ordered Major Haller, Fourth Infantry, U.S. Army, with a detachment of one hundred and fifty United States troops, rank and file, to Fort Boise and vicinity to guard the immigrant road (1). Nathan Olney, Indian agent, accompanied the expedition. The command of Major Haller reached Fort Boise July 15th. The next day a council of the Indians of the vicinity was held. Two hundred were present, of whom sixty-five were warriors. While the council was being held, four Winnass Indians came in to witness the proceedings. All were arrested as soon as the council was through. One of them made a confession, naming the actors and detailing the circumstances of the Ward massacre, and volunteered to conduct the command to the camps of the Winnass tribe, where the murderers were concealed. He them broke from his guard; and the sergeant shot him as he attempted to escape by the river. The three others were tried by a board of officers, convicted and sentenced to be hanged at the place where they had committed their horrible crime. The day after the trial, the command marched to the scene of the tragedy, dug a large grave, and in it deposited the remains of the victims of the massacre, which had been disinterred by the coyotes. They then erected a gallows, and upon it hanged at one time the three Winnass Indian murders of the Ward party.

     (1) Letter of General Wool, commanding Department of the Pacific, U.S. Army, in report of the Secretary of War, 1855. Message and Documents, 1855-56, page 78.



534                                              HISTORY OF PACIFIC NORTHWEST - OREGON AND WASHINGTON.

A day or two later, the bodies were taken down and buried. The gallows was allowed to stand for the good it had done, and to warn other Snake Indians of the punishment which should be visited on the murderers of immigrants.

     The command then marched to the great Camass Prairie, thirty-five miles from the crossing of Malade river, and over sixty miles beyond Fort Boise, where a camp was found. From there, escort was furnished to one train to Fort Boise. Detachments were sent to Salmon Falls, and to other points where immigrants were expected to pass. Major Haller went about one hundred and fifty miles beyond Fort Boise. The command remained in the country until late in September, when the immigration of 1855 was through, and then returned to Fort Dalles.

     Details of the murders in the Yakima country have been given in the preceding chapter, as also of the immolation of Sub-agent Bolon by the direction of Kamiakin, head chief of the Yakima nation. Immediately on the receipt of the intelligence of those murders, Major Haller, U.S. Army, left The Dalles on the 3d of October, 1855, with one hundred men for the Yakima country, intending to effect a junction with Lieutenant Slaughter, U.S. Army, who, with forty United States troops, had left Fort Steilacoom September 27, 1855, for the Yakima country, via Nahchess Pass. The orders of Major Haller were to demand the murderers of Bolon, and chastise the Yakimas.

     On the 6th of October, while descending a long hill in an open country, and approaching a stream whose banks were covered with oak trees and thick undergrowth, the advance guard discovered the Indians in their front. At some distance of a bluff, a chief appeared and harangued his warriors, who responded with the warwhoop. The position of the Indians had been determined by the sound. The advance guard was drawn in, the rear guard closed up, and the battle commenced. The loss at that point was one soldier killed and seven wounded. War parties of Indians had been constantly arriving, considerably augmenting their numbers. Captain Russell's company being on the left, descended the hill, and turned the right flank of the Indians in the brush. After a vigorous charge, the Indians fled. It was dark before the wounded had been collected. The command then advanced about a mile, and on ascending a height the Indians could be heard at a short distance. From the guide it was ascertained that they were preparing for an attack. No attack however was made until daylight. Major Haller's position was susceptible of defense, but destitute of wood, grass and water.

     On  Sunday, the seventh, Major Haller's little force was surrounded by about seven hundred Indians, who during the day were reinforced by accessions of bands to the number of fourteen hundred. Major Haller then sent to The Dalles for the reserve force of forty-four men under Lieutenant Day, Third Artillery. The troops maintained their position all that day, and, by repeated bayonet charges, kept off the Indian skirmishers. Up to Sunday night, the loss had been two soldiers killed and thirteen wounded. The return to the Dalles by a night march was then determined upon. The rear guard had become separated from the advance; and a halt to rest the men was made on the summit of the mountain. Major Haller's force now numbered forty effective men. On the morning of the eighth, they resumed their march for The Dalles. A running fight ensued. Before sundown, the Indians were again charged and driven out of the timber, after which the troops were not molested. The total loss on that expedition was five soldiers killed and seventeen wounded. The rear guard, which had taken another trail, arrived at The Dalles without molestation. Major Haller with his advance reached Fort Dalles on the morning of the tenth, with his wounded and baggage.



                                            OFFICIAL KNOWLEDGE OF THE HOSTILE INTENTION OF THE INDIANS.                                                        535

Lieutenant Slaughter having learned of the reverse of Haller, and that he had returned to The Dalles, recrossed the Cascade Mountains and fell back to a prairie on White river, to await further orders and for reinforcements.

     The repulse of Major Haller by the Yakimas was doubtless the chief moving cause which impelled Major Rains, commanding the military districts of the Columbia river and Puget Sound, to make requisitions upon the two governors, Curry of Oregon and Mason of Washington. But it is interesting to chronicle that this hostile state of feeling of the Indians was thoroughly known by the United States officials at the time, and that the utter deficiency of means upon the part of the United States military departments to punish the murderers, or protect the settlements, was also officially acknowledged by the highest military authorities.

     On the 12th of October, 1855, U.S. Indian Agent Olney, writing from Walla Walla, thus officially advised Governor Curry:

     "I beg to draw your attention to the fact that all the Indians north and south of the Columbia, this side of the Nez Perces and  Spokanes, have either commenced open hostilities upon the Whites, or are concentrating their forces for that purpose. I just arrived at this place this morning from The Dalles, and find the most alarming state of affairs as to the friendly relations heretofore existing between the Americans and Walla Wallas, Palouses, Umatillas and Cayuses. I am doing all in my power to check the gathering storm; but I fear nothing but a large military force will do any good towards keeping them in check. The regular force now in the country I do not consider sufficient for the protection of the settlers and the chastisement of the Indians. One thousand volunteers should be raised immediately, and sent into this part of Oregon and Washington territories. Delay is ruinous. Decisive steps must be immediately taken. They must be humbled; and in all conscience send a force that can do it effectually and without delay. These Indians must be taught our power. The winter is the very time to do it."

     Again, on the 1st of November, 1855, U.S. Indian Agent Nathan Olney apprised the governor of Oregon:

     "The Cayuses are determined upon war. They are only waiting for the young men that are out in the buffalo country. They expect the Nez Perces and Spokanes to join them. I am more and more inclined every day to the belief that the Spokanes, Nez Perces and Cayuses will go to war with us as soon as they can fix it."

     Here is the official testimony of Isaac I. Stevens, Governor of Washington Territory; and then superintendent of Indian Affairs:

     "In the summer of 1855, the general impression in both territories was that there was little to fear of war. The Indians had been more or less disaffected for a long time; but treaties had been concluded, with which they pretended to be entirely satisfied; and the feeling of confidence on the part of the settlers followed. In the spring of 1855, both Colonel Bonneville, in command of the Columbia river district, and Major Rains, in command of The Dalles, came to the conclusion that the Walla Walla chief, Peu-peu-mox-mox ought to be seized and put in confinement on the ground that he was getting up a general Indian war; and he would have been seized and put in confinement but for the persuasion of myself and other officers in the Indian service who discredited the reports and had confidence in the chief. previous to my going to the Walla Walla council (May, 1855), word was sent to me by Rev. Father Ricard, then superior of the missions in the Yakima and Cayuse country, that the Yakimas, Cayuses



536                                    HISTORY OF PACIFIC NORTHWEST - OREGON AND WASHINGTON.

and Walla Wallas would attend the council with a hostile purpose, and that I would go there at the hazard of my life. I had warning from various other sources; but the council had been called, and I went there in good faith. We were in council fourteen days, - in friendly council and converse with the chiefs and the great body of the people of all those tribes. All those chiefs who afterwards took to arms were in my camp, and sat at my table during those fourteen days. General Joel Palmer, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and myself, were the commissioners; and, with the Indian agents and a few employés and fifty soldiers to preserve order on the council ground, we met there fifteen hundred warriors. It is ridiculous to talk of our using threats and bringing force to bear to get them to yield to our terms. The record speaks for itself. The commissioners have no reason to be ashamed of it; nor has the government reason to be ashamed of it."

     About the same date, November 3d, General Wool, the commander of the Department of the Pacific, acknowledged: "In Washington Territory there appears to be an extensive combination of hostile tribes, which a check unfortunately given to Brevet Major Haller with a small command may possibly cause to extend to yet other tribes. The Yakimas, Walla Wallas, Klikitats, Des Chutes and Cayuses are doubtless in arms. They have been excited by fears at seeing their country rapidly filling up with settlers and miners, lest their fate shall be like that of the California Indians, and hope to exterminate the Whites at a blow."

     On the 9th of October, Major Rains, in command at Fort Vancouver, upon the application for reinforcements, made requisition upon Governor Mason for two companies of volunteers, each to be composed of one captain, one first lieutenant, one second lieutenant, two musicians, four sergeants, four corporals, and seventy-four privates. Captain Maloney, in command of Fort Steilacoom, was ordered to take the field immediately with all his disposable force. Governor Mason, by proclamation of October 14, 1855, called for two companies, one to rendezvous at Olympia and one at Vancouver. By the terms of the governor's proclamation, the Washington volunteers were to be mustered into the service of the United States.

     Major Rains, on the 9th of October, also addressed to Governor George L. Curry an official communication, in which the following language occurred (1):

     "We have just received information from Brevet Major Granville O. Haller, who was ordered into the Yakima country, with a force consisting of five officers, one hundred and two men, and one mountain howitzer, on the third instant. He states that he fell in with the enemy on the afternoon of the sixth instant, and commenced an action with them in the brush on the Pasco river; and that, after fighting some time, he drove them at the point of the bayonet, and has taken possession of the heights surrounding that river. He was surrounded, and has called for a reinforcement. This morning, Lieutenant Day, of the Third Artillery, U.S. Army, leaves Fort Dalles to join Major Haller's command, with about firty-five men and one mountain howitzer.

     "As commanding officer, I have ordered all the United States disposable troops in this district into the field immediately, and shall take the command. As this force is questionable to subdue these Indians, the Yakimas, Klikitats and some smaller bands, I have the honor to call upon you for four companies of volunteers, composed, according to our present organization, of one captain, one first lieutenant, one second lieutenant, four sergeants, four corporals, two musicians and seventy-five privates. This number of companies is just enough for a major's command, and would authorize that officer

     (1) Annual message of Governor George L. Curry, December 17, 1855, and accompanying document, page 30.



                                        GOVERNOR CURRY'S PROCLAMATION CALLING FOR VOLUNTEERS.                                                            537

also. We have only arms enough at this post for two companies; so it is advisable to have two of the companies come armed with rifles or such arms as can be best obtained. We have plenty of ammunition, however, As celerity is the word, we want as many of the volunteers as can be immediately obtained to rendezvous at this post, and proceed with the troops to Fort Dalles. They can be mustered here."

     On the 11th of October, Governor curry issued the following proclamation: "Whereas, certain Indians have been guilty of the commission of criminal offenses, and have combined, and are now engaged in hostilities that threaten the peace and security of the frontier settlements; and the chief in command of the military force of the United States in this district having made requisition upon the executive of this territory for a volunteer force to aid in suppressing the attacks of said hostile Indians, I issue this my proclamation, calling for eight companies of mounted volunteers, to remain in force until duly discharged, each company to consist of one captain, one first lieutenant, one second lieutenant, four sergeants, four corporals, and sixty privates. Each volunteer, if possible, is to furnish his own horse and equipments. Each company is to elect its own officers, and rendezvous, without delay, on the right bank of the Willamette, opposite Portland, where they will be mustered into service on reporting to the adjutant-general of the territory. The following-named counties are expected to make up the number of men wanted; and, in order to facilitate operations, the subjoined-named gentlemen are respectfully requested to act as enrolling officers in their respective counties: Multnomah county, one company, Shubrick Norris; Clackamas county, one company, A.F. Hedges; Washington county, one company, W.S. Caldwell; Yamhill county, one company, A.J. Hembree; Marion county, one company, L.F. Grover; Polk county, one company, Fredk. Waymire; Linn county, one company, S.S. Helm; Wasco county, one company, O. Humason. The last-named company will organize at The Dalles, and report in writing to the adjutant-general.

    "Our fellow citizens who may be in possession of arms, rifles, muskets and revolvers are most earnestly desired to turn them over to Assistant Quartermaster-General Albert Zeiber, or his agents, in order that they may be appraised, and supply a deficiency that is most seriously experienced."

     On the thirteenth, the Multnomah company, having become full, elected A.V. Wilson captain. Governor Curry directed him: "At once you will proceed to Fort Vancouver for the purpose of receiving arms, ammunition and equipments.  *  *  *  You and your command will be mustered into the service of the United States. This step, as I am informed, will be required by the officer in command at that fort before you can there by supplied with arms. You will bear in mind that the governor of this territory is made by law the commander-in-chief of the forces raised or to be raised in Oregon; and that you are and will be subject to my orders as the commander-in-chief."

     Of even date, a requisition by the governor of Oregon was made on the commanding officer at Fort Vancouver for arms, ammunition, and equipments to make up any deficiency, and to facilitate the dispatch of the march of the company to the scene of Indian hostilities. It having become known that such arms would not be supplied unless the company was mustered into the service of the United States, and amenable to the commands of the officers of the U.S. Army, Governor Curry held a consultation with James W. Nesmith, Brigadier-General, and E.M. Barnum, Adjutant-General, the result of which was the modified order of same date to Captain Wilson; "You will bear distinctly in mind that your command you will not suffer to be mustered into the service of the United States.



538                                                    HISTORY OF PACIFIC NORTHWEST - OREGON AND WASHINGTON.

If Lieutenant Withers will furnish you with arms, by your giving a receipt therefor, do so. If he will not furnish you with arms, etc., without your command first being mustered into the United States service, you will in such case refuse to do so, and await further orders from me, at Vancouver. If I have to furnish you with arms, I will do so at the earliest possible moment. Send me a report immediately, as to the number of your command and the arms in possession thereof. By the Eagle, to-morrow morning, I will send you arms and ammunition for your command, with further orders" (1).

     The companies composing the First Regiment of Oregon mounted volunteers called into service by Governor Curry's proclamation were mustered as follows (2):

     Company A: Captain A.V. Wilson, ninety-seven men, rank and file, enrolled October 13th, Multnomah county; Lieutenants, B.M. Harding, Charles B. Pillow. Company B: Captain O. Humason, sixty-five men, enrolled October 18th, Wasco county; Lieutenants, John T. Jeffries, James McAuliffe. Company C: Captain James K. Kelly, ninety-three men, enrolled October 15th, Clackamas county (Captain James K. Kelly was elected lieutenant-colonel, October 30th, and was succeeded by Captain Samuel B. Stafford); Lieutenants, Dolphes B. Hannah, Joseph A. Pownall and Cutting. Company D: Captain Thomas R. Cornelius, one hundred men, enrolled October 15th, Washington county (Captain Cornelius was elected colonel, December 21, 1855); Lieutenants, Hiram Wilbur, W.H.H. Myers and John H. Smith. Company E: Captain A.J. Hembell, ninety-nine men, enrolled October 15th, Yamhill county; Lieutenants, John P. Hibbler and John H. Smith. Company F: Captain Charles Bennett, eighty-one men, rank and file, enrolled October 15th, Marion county (Captain Bennett was killed in battle, December 7, 1855, and was succeeded by First Lieutenant A.M. Fellows, elected captain); Lieutenants, A.M. Fellows, A. Shephard and Richard A. Barker. Company G: Captain A.N. Armstrong, one hundred and four men, enrolled October 15th, Polk county (Captain Armstrong was elected major, October 30th, and was succeeded by Captain Ben Hayden); Lieutenants, Ira S. Townsend, Francis M.P. Goff and David Cosper. Company H: Captain Davis Layton, seventy-four men, enrolled October 17th, Linn county; Lieutenants, A. Hanan and John M. Burrows (Second Lieutenant Burrows was killed in battle, December 7th). Company I: Captain Lyman B. Munson, seventy-one men, enrolled October 20th, Benton county; Lieutenants, Smith Suard and Charles B. Hand. Company K: Captain Narcisse A. Cornoyer, thirty men, enrolled October 30th, Marion county; Lieutenants, Antoine Rivet and Thomas J. Small. (This company was raised for scouting service).

     On the 30th of October, the following-named officers of the First-Regiment were chosen: James W. Nesmith, Colonel; James K. Kelly, Lieutenant-Colonel; A.N. Armstrong and Mark A. Chinn, Majors; William H. Farrar, Adjutant; Robert Thompson, Quartermaster; Shubrick Norrison and John F. Miller, Commissaries; and W.H. Fauntleroy, Assistant Quartermaster.

     A reference to the muster rolls and returns will show that, upon the 20th of october, 1855, there were enrolled 763 men, rank and file; upon November 20th, 756; upon December 20th, 607; upon January 20th, 1856, 577; upon February 1st, 901; upon February 20th, 746; upon March 20th, 739; upon April 20th, 695; upon May 20th, 130; upon June 20th, 113; upon July 20th, 130; and upon August 20th, 8.

     (1) See "Governor Curry's Message and Documents," December 17, 1855, page 33.

     (2) See "Governor Curry's Message and Documents," Registry of Commissioned Officers, page 145.



                                                             MAJOR RAINS APPOINTED BRIGADIER-GENERAL OF VOLUNTEERS.                                         539

     Great difficulty was experienced in procuring arms, ammunition and equipments, excepting horses, which were quite abundant. Arms were borrowed of the citizens; and horses, stores, supplies and the necessary equipments were purchased on credit. Although Major Rains' requisition called for men to be mustered into the United States service, the Oregon volunteers determined to maintain their own identity, and be subject to the command of their own officers. In the language of Governor Curry in his order to Colonel Nesmith: "You will, so far as practicable, act in conjunction with Major Rains, chief in command of the United States troops, and, at the same time keeping your command a distinct one, afford him a cordial co-operation."

     The Washington Territory Volunteers had been mustered into the service of the United States. James W. Nesmith commanded the Oregon regiment with the rank of Colonel. The highest ranking officer of the regulars was Gabriel J. Rains, a major. In this condition, to avoid complication as to the relations of the two regiments, each to the other, and to the United States military commandant of the district, upon whose requisition the volunteers had been called into service, Acting Governor Mason commissioned Major Rains Brigadier-General of Washington Territory Volunteers.


 Chapter LI

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