History of the Pacific Northwest
Oregon and Washington 1889
Volume II
Page 660-662

Copyright 1999 - 2003 - Janine M. Bork
 This page is part of the Union County, OR AHGP

660                                           HISTORY OF PACIFIC NORTHWEST - OREGON AND WASHINGTON

sioners on behalf of the government, informed them that the government would issue an order directing them to go upon the reservation; and that, upon their failure to comply, force would be employed to put them there. In January, 1877, the orders were received by the Indian agent at Lapwai to place the Nez Perces on the reservation. The agent communicated notice of the order to all the bands. Patiently he labored to persuade the "non-treaties" to go upon the reservation. Failing, he obeyed the instruction to call upon the United States forces to assist in the execution of the order. General Howard spent much of April and May at Wallula, Fort Walla Walla and Lapwai in interviews and talks with the disaffected, urging very argument to have them voluntarily go upon the reservation.

     Finally, on the 19th of May, they pretended to assent, but asked for thirty days in which to do so. General Howard consented; but believing that the Indians had no intention to comply with his orders, and that the delay was a ruse to gain time to organize their forces and make preparations for open hostilities, he at once concentrated all his available troops in the vicinity of the disaffected country. Before the thirty days had elapsed, White Bird appeared in Wallowa valley and murdered a number of defenseless women and children. that war chief of the "non-treaties" arrayed in his war paint, rode through the country, defying the Whites and loudly proclaiming that they would not go upon the reservation, - that the country belonged to them, and that they would kill soldiers or citizens who opposed their keeping it.

     About the same time an outbreak had occurred at Mount Idaho, twenty white men and women having been murdered, and a number of women brutally outraged. On hearing this, general Howard sent, June 15th, two companies of United States cavalry, Captains Perry and Trimble, to White Bird cañon, where White Bird's band was found in force. The Indians opened fire on Captain Perry's command, which he returned. After an hour's severe fighting, Perry was compelled to fall back on Grangeville, sixteen miles distant, the Indians pursuing and fighting him all the way. He lost thirty men and one officer, Lieutenant Theller. On June 21st, eight companies, or rather fractions of companies, amounting in all to something over two hundred effective men rank and file, were at Fort Lapwai with a small company of volunteers under Captain Paige. General Howard took the field in person.

     The march commenced at noon on the twenty-second. Detachments of troops were sent in several directions, all of which were to concentrate at Johnson's Ranch, near Grangeville. From there the column moved to the head of White Bird cañon. Preparations were now made to cross the Salmon river. Joseph with his Indians had avoided an engagement. Several skirmishes had taken place, the little detachment commanded by Lieutenant S.M. Rains having all been murdered on scouting service. On the 11th of July the Indians were discovered encamped on the South fork of the Clearwater. In Joseph's camp were three hundred warriors, perhaps an equal number of squaws, who rendered most efficient assistance in providing spare horses and ammunition, and many boys bearing arms. General Howard's fighting force was four hundred men. The battle of Clearwater continued for two days, when the Indians scattered and fled in every direction, closely pursued by the troops. Joseph lost twenty-three killed, forty wounded, many of whom subsequently died; and forty were taken prisoners. General Howard's loss was thirteen killed and twenty-two wounded. The Indian camp was abandoned in haste; and the lodges were left standing, filled with their effects, blankets, buffalo robes, cooking utensils, food cooking on the fires, flour, jerked beef and plunder of all descriptions (1).

     General Howard renewed the pursuit the next morning, in the direction of Kamiah. The Indians crossed the Clearwater and reconcentrated at We-ipe creek; and on the fifteenth Joseph started for Montana and the buffalo country by the Lolo trail. On having ascertained this, General Howard sent couriers to the nearest telegraph station to advise General Sherman and the posts east of the Bitter Root Mountains of the flight of Joseph and the hostiles. He also sent notice to General John Gibbon, commanding the District of Montana, reporting the situation, - that Joseph had started across the Lolo rail, - and requested the sending of troops to intercept the hostiles, if possible; while he should follow them with such force as could be available.

     General Gibbon at once sent orders to Captain Rawn, commanding Fort Missoula, to watch the fugitives, head them off, hold them if possible, or turn them back. Captain Rawn's command consisted of his own and Captain William Logan's company of the Seventh Infantry; and they were reinforced by a hundred Montana citizens. Advised of the approach of the Indians, they took a position at the mouth of a cañon on Lolo creek, which they fortified. Joseph advanced the next day, and sent a flag of truce, asking to pass quietly into the valley. Captain Rawn demanded the surrender of the arms of the party, which occasioned two days parley. Many of the citizens urged the granting of Joseph's request. At the end of the second day, Joseph notified Captain Rawn that he was going into the valley the next morning. At daylight firing was heard along the skirmish line, as though the Indians designed attack. While all were intent on watching the front, it was ascertained that Joseph had left a few men to skirmish with the pickets; while the main body, through gulches, has passed the lines of works. Captain Rawn pursued the fugitives as quickly as possible, but failed to overtake them before they reached Bitter Root valley. He found them encamped in a strong position on a ridge in a body of timber. As it was the height of rashness with his force to attack them, he returned to his post to await reinforcements.

     On the 30th of July, General Howard, his force now strengthened to seven hundred men, began the march across the Lolo trail. General Gibbon, having received General Howard's dispatch, with a force of one hundred and forty-six United States troops and seventeen officers, and thirty-six citizen volun-

(1) "Chief Joseph: His pursuit and Capture," by O.O. Howard, Brigadier-General, U.S. Army, page 166.

                                                                        CHIEF MOSES' DEMONSTRATION.                                            661
teers, who joined him on the march, proceeded to Fort Missoula. Joseph had been reinforced by eighteen lodges of renegade Nez Perces under the chieftainship of Poker Joe. Joseph had with him four hundred warriors and one hundred and fifty squaws. General Gibbon came up with the enemy on the 8th of August. At early daylight on the next morning he surprised the hostile camp, charged it, and drove the Indians out. Throughout the day the fight continued, and part of the next day; when General Howard with a party, coming up, the Indians fled. The loss of General Gibbon was thirty-one killed, among whom were Captain William Logan, First Lieutenant James H. Bradley, First Lieutenant William L. English and Second Lieutenant C.A. Woodruff; thirty-six wounded, among whom were General John Gibbon, Captain Constant Williams, First Lieutenant C.A. Coolidge.


     The Indian loss was eighty-nine buried. Joseph subsequently admitted a loss of two hundred and eight. Among the Indian slain were the war chief and diplomat Looking-glass, and Tups-sis-il-pilp and Wallitze, two of the three Indian murderers who precipitated the war. General Howard resumed the pursuit as soon as practicable.  He followed the hostiles through the mountains. Having learned their intention to escape into the British possessions, he sent a courier to General Miles at Fort Keogh; and that efficient officer and brilliant Indian fighter headed off the fugitives at Bear paw Mountain. Before reaching that last battle-ground, Joseph had attacked General Howard on the 19th and 20th of August, at camas Meadows, but had been beaten off. General Sturgis had struck him on the 13th of September. Desultory firing lasted four days. On the 4th of October, he surrendered to General Miles. In that battle Ollicott and old Too-hul-hul-sote were among the slain. White Bird escaped with a small band, and crossed the British boundary. The remainder, between three and four hundred men, women and children, were transferred to the Indian Territory, and located on the salt fork of the Arkansas river. Congress passed an act March 3, 1885, authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to send them to any Indian reservation which he might choose. they have since been escorted by troops back to Idaho. A portion has returned to the Nez Perce nation. Joseph and the remainder are on the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington.


     In the summer of 1878,the citizens of the eastern portion of Washington Territory were alarmed by the excitement among the Indians, growing out of the outbreak of the Shoshones; and in some places measures for self-protection were deemed necessary. Chief Moses and his band, numbering about two hundred warriors, had refused to go upon any reservation; and they were suspected also of having been accomplices in the murder of Mr. Perkins and his wife, who met their death at the hands of a vagrant band of Columbia river Indians, instigated or influenced by that great mischief maker, Smo-heller the "dreamer." I that fall, Reverend J.H. Wilbur, Indian Agent in charge of the Yakima Reservation, was instructed to induce Moses and his people to go upon the Yakima Reservation.

     Moses was sent for, but declined to go, giving as his reason that the government ha assured him that he should be assigned to a separate reservation. He not only denied all complicity in the Perkins murder, but offered guides to assist him in the arrest of the murderers, whom he alleged were located about forty miles form his camp. A party was organized, consisting of fifteen Yakima Reservation Indians and thirty white volunteers from Yakima City; and it was understood that Moses and his party should have on day's start of the Yakima party, in order to make arrangements for crossing the Columbia river.

     When Moses arrived at the appointed place, he found that the arresting party had proceeded to a point twelve miles below. This circumstance, together with the fact that he had been advised that the Whites had plotted to waylay and kill him on the way home, and also that the police and volunteers intended to arrest him and confine him in the Yakima jail, excited his suspicions. He declined to furnish the guides as he agreed; and he, with sixty armed men, defiantly confronted the volunteer party. After considerable talk, without collision, Moses returned to his camp.

     Three days later he asserts he started with nine of his band to join the volunteer party, who were endeavoring to capture the murderers. Before over-taking them he camped for the night; and the volunteers who were in the vicinity, mistaking Moses' camp-fires for those of the party of murderers they were seeking, surrounded the camp and took Moses and his nine men prisoners. All were disarmed, the other having killed himself to avoid arrest. Moses and the other four of his band were taken to Yakima City and confined in jail without formal examination. A week later Indian Agent J.H. Wilbur induced the citizens of Yakima to turn over to him Moses and his fellow Indian prisoners. Under a strong guard, to prevent the citizens form killing him, Moses and his four companions were taken to the agency, where they remained for three months, notwithstanding the persistent efforts of the citizens to have them returned to the jail.

     On the 12th of February, 1879, the Commissioner of Indian affairs ordered Moses to Washington for a conference. This order was communicated to the authorities of Yakima county; and, upon their agreement that he should not be arrested, eh was allowed to return to his camp and make preparations for his journey to Washington. At the end of ten

662                                        HISTORY OF PACIFIC NORTHWEST - OREGON AND WASHINGTON.
days he was sent for, and promised to meet the agent at Yakima ferry in four days. When the agent arrived at the ferry, the sheriff of Yakima county with a posse was guarding every crossing on the river within a distance of twenty miles, determined to take Moses dead or alive. (1). Unable to accomplish anything, Agent Wilbur returned to Yakima City; and the next morning Chief Moses was brought in by the sheriff. The prosecution then asked for a continuance of the case for eight days.


     Agent Wilbur then waived a preliminary examination, offered bail for Moses' appearance at the next term of court, which was accepted and Moses went to Washington. After several conferences with him, on the 19th of April, 1870, a reservation was set apart for Moses and his people, called the Columbia Reservation, which adjoins the Colville Reservation on the west. The delegation returned to the general commanding the department with the special request to that officer, and a similar one to the governor of the territory, requesting that Moses and his party be forwarded to their reservation without arrest or further interference. The Perkins murderers were tried at the October, 1879, term of the Yakima court; and three of them were convicted of murder. The charge against Chief Moses was dismissed, the grand jury failing to find any indictment.