Much has been written of the Indian Wars of 1855-56 by historians of the past, generally in connection with histories of the State or a particular county or area thereof. Some of it was written from source documents, others from hearsay or newspaper accounts. Much of what has been written is biased for or against major participants. 

Therefore, inasmuch as most of the source documents are now available to this Department, it would appear that the best way to tell the true story of what happened is to use the more important documents dealing with the actual operations. Therefore, that which follows hereinafter has been selected from several thousand and arranged in chronological order to tell the true story of what actually happened, during this period.

Executive Office, Territory of Washington
Olympia, 22 September 1855

Major G. J. Rains, Columbia Barracks, W.T.

Sir: I am informed by Col. J. P. Anderson, who has just returned from the Colville mines, that some outrages have been committed by the Yakima Indians upon the miners passing through their country. One man named Mattice, a resident of this place, is known by positive Indian testimony to have been murdered by four Indians of the band called "Isle de Pierre". Seven other individuals, who crossed the Nachess Pass, are reported by the Indians also to have been killed. 

These murders have taken place upon straggling parties of one, two or three, and by the Yakima tribe and its branches. A son of Owhi, one of the principal chiefs of the tribe, is implicated in them.

In addition to this, some twenty or thirty persons are known to have left this vicinity, in parties from two to three, by the same route, and who are in danger of sharing the same fate. Under these circumstances I would suggest that a detachment of soldiers, sufficiently strong, should be dispatched at once through the Yakima country as far as where the trail across the Natchess leaves for Colville, the object of which would be to discover the perpetrators of the murder of Mattice, to ascertain if the other murders had been committed, and to punish the guilty parties, and lastly, to furnish protection to the remaining portion of our citizens who are returning home. 

These reports may turn out to be without foundation. You, however, being on the more traveled route, will have earlier information than we can have here.

Gov. Stevens is expected to be in Spokane country during the present month, and a detachment of soldiers may be of assistance to him in furthering the public service he is at present engaged in.

I deem it my duty to call your attention to the facts as reported to me.

I have the honor, etc.,
Acting Gov., W.T.


Fort Vancouver, 26 September 1855

Acting Gov. of W.T.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge your letter of the 22nd instant, and in reply, beg leave to state that, antecedently, I had obtained Colonel J. P. Anderson's information from another source, and forthwith forwarded an order to Lieut. Day, of the artillery (supposed to be at McKay's on the Umatilla River, with forty-four mounted men) to enquire into the facts, with remarks -"It is thought that at Walla Walla, or Brooks and Bumford's place, there will be more facilities for information, if so, proceed there, and further if necessary, as to the move in that direction for this purpose will have a good effect."

"The only real chiefs among the Indians whose influence is to be dreaded, in that region, are Peu peu mox mox of the Walla Wallas, and Namiakin of the Yakimas, who can be communicated with at the first named place."

This order was sent to the commanding officer at Fort Dalles to forward as soon as practicable, and we look for further information from Mr. Bolen, understood to be enroute among the Indians for this place.

I am, sir, very respectfully, etc,
Major, 4th Infantry, Commanding

Executive Office, Washington Terr.,
Olympia, 26 September 1855

Major G. J. Rains, USA
Fort Vancouver: W.T.

Sir: Since my communication of the 22nd instant, I have received additional information of outrages committed by Yakima Indians.

On the 14th of September, two men, named Walker and Jameson from Seattle, were shot dead from an ambush near the point where the Nachess trail crosses the Yakima, some thirty miles above the Altanam Mission. In addition to this, from all previous circumstances, there is a strong probability of nine others having met similar fate by the same hands.

The tribe and its kindred branches having entered into treaty stipulations with the United States to preserve amity with all American citizens, and in defiance of such obligations, having taken the first opportunity to cut off straggling parties, I immediately, upon the receipt of the last information, made a requisition upon Captain Maurice Maloney, commanding Fort Steilacoom, for a detachment of the troops under his command, to proceed as soon as possible to the point in question, both to punish the Yakima tribe, and to furnish protection to such persons as may be traveling through the country. 

This requisition has been complied with, and on Thursday (27 September) a detachment of forty men, with forty days provisions, will start, under the command of Lieut. William A. Slaughter. In order more fully to carry out the objects intended, and to effect permanent results, I have to request that the suggestion in my letter of 22 September be carried out, and that a detachment of troops be sent either from Vancouver or the Dalles, as soon as practicable, to cooperate with those sent from

I am, very truly, etc,
Actg Gov, W.T.

Fort Vancouver, W.T., 29 September 1855

Acting Governor, W.T.

Governor: Your letter by Mr. Pearson I have the honor to acknowledge and have ordered into the field a company of eighty four men from Fort Dalles, Oregon Territory, all mounted, and with provisions on pack mules for one month, to proceed without delay and sweep through the Yakima country to the points you indicated, cooperating with the force from Steilacoom; also to inquire into the safety of Agent Bolen, who has now been absent an unusual length of time; a respectful attention to whose views is enjoined - if alive - for there are grounds to fear otherwise.

I shall approve of the action of the commanding officer at Fort Steilacoom in the premises, and only regret that the forty men under Lieut. Slaughter, were not a full company. I have also located an officer and twenty men at the Cascades.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major, 4th Infantry, Commanding

Fort Vancouver, 9 October 1855


Information has been received this day from Major G. O. Haller, who was ordered out into Yakima country. He states that he met the enemy about 3 PM on the 6th instant, and fought them skirmishing for some time. Finally charging them, he drove them out of the brush. From the nature of the country he was obliged to take possession of the heights surrounding the Pasco river for the night. He was surrounded, and in that position, had called for a reinforcement. 

All the disposable force in the district will at once take the field, and I have the honor to make a requisition upon you for two companies of volunteers, to take the field at the earliest possible moment.

The composition of these companies to be as follows: One Captain, one First Lieutenant and one Second Lieutenant, two musicians, four sergeants, four corporals, and seventy-four privates.

The greatest exertions should be made to raise and equip these companies at once.

Orders have been sent to Captain Maurice Maloney to take the field with all his disposable force, and it is expected that the regulars and volunteers will act in concert.

As soon as the first company is raised the command of regulars and volunteers should take the field without waiting for the other company.

The latter company can start out as soon as raised and equipped.

I am sir, etc,
Major, 4th Infantry, Commanding

9 October 1855

Actg Gov Mason
Olympia, W.T.

Dear Sir: 
Herewith I enclose a letter from Special Agent B. F. Shaw stating the facts of Major Haller and his command being surrounded by Indians and cut off from wood and water and that all the force that can be sent in the field is absolutely necessary for his preservation.

The Reserve of fifty men under Lieut. Day left today to join the Major. The express by which Mr. Shaw's letter was brought is on his way to Vancouver with a requisition on Major Rains for all the troops at Fort Vancouver and also calling for volunteers.

The Yakimas number are evidently largely swollen by acquisition from tribes on the south side of the Columbia. The Pelouses have all gone over and should Major Haller be defeated there is much apprehension in that the Walla Wallas, Cayuses and Des Chutes will at once unite in the War. Nothing has been heard from Lieut. Slaughter and his command.

I am on my way to the Dalles and from there will keep you apprized of events.

Very respectfully, etc.
Actg. Supt. of Indian Affairs

PS: The place of engagement is at the heights on the Pisco River in the Simcoe Valley - we had 8 men killed and wounded.

Olympia, 14 October 1855

Major G. J. Raines
Fort Vancouver

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of 9 October and to state in reply, that agreeably to the request therein contained, I have called upon the people of the Territory for two companies of volunteers, one to report to the commanding officer at Fort Vancouver and the other to the executive of this place. This last will, as soon as organized, be ordered to report to Captain Maloney, at Fort Steilacoom, and proceed into the field as soon as possible.

I am very respectfully, etc.
Actg Gov, W.T.

14 OCTOBER 1855


Sir: I have sent the bearer of this letter, R. M. Walker, Esq., executive clerk to learn from you how far the volunteer company ordered to organize at Fort Vancouver can depend upon the post under your command for arms, ammunition, etc.

The scarcity of these munitions of war upon the sound rendered it necessary for me to make requisition upon the U S Revenue Cutter "Jefferson Davis," the result of which I have not yet ascertained.

I sincerely trust that it will be in your power to furnish the necessary arms and accouterments for the company directed to organize at Vancouver. Transportation and subsistence will, I suppose as a matter of course, be furnished them by the US Quartermaster and Commissary. Any papers necessary to be receipted by me will be acted upon immediately upon presentation.

I am sir, etc
Actg Gov, W.T.

16 OCTOBER 1855


Dear Sir: From the most reliable Indians that we have in this country, we have information and are satisfied that Leschi, a sub-chief and half Clickitat is and has been doing all that he could possibly do to unite the Indians of this country to raise against the whites in a hostile manner and has had some join in with him already. 

Sir, I am of the opinion that he should be attended to as soon as convenient for fear that he might do something bad. Let his arrangements be stopped at once. Your attention to the above will be exceedingly appreciated by the people of Nisqually Bottoms. For further information, call, and I am at your service.

17 October 1855

SIR: I have the honor to inform your excellency of my arrival at this place, and to state that I can land twenty men, well armed with Rifles at a moment's notice and will be happy to do so whenever occasion shall require it, providing the safety of the vessel is not endangered thereby.

I have the honor, etc,



17 October 1855


SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your two communications of the 14th instant.

So soon as the company of volunteers from this county is organized and mustered into service, it will be armed and equipped and furnished with subsistence and transportation.

If I am correctly informed, a company will soon be organized, the members of which will be mostly men who are residing on claims within twenty miles of this post, and who, from their knowledge of the country, will be of great assistance in thoroughly chastising the hostile Clickitats and Yakimas.

I am, Governor. etc,
4th Inf, Comdg.

12 o'clock pm.

Sir: Since my note of this morning, I have received a messenger from Fort Steilacoom.

I will now request that as many Marines as you can spare may be transferred to Fort Steilacoom for the general protection of the Post and community.

I have requested Lieut. Drake to remain here until your action in this matter is known.

I am, respectfully, etc.



Whereas, by proclamation bearing date of 14 October 1855, a call was made upon the people of the Territory of Washington for two companies of Volunteers to augment the force operating against the Yakima Tribe of Indians.

Now therefore, in order more fully, to secure the lives and property of our inhabitants from any incursions or outbreak on the part of the Indians, and to be prepared for any emergency, I make this proclamation calling upon the people of Washington Territory for four additional companies of volunteers to consist each of: One Captain, one First and one Second Lieutenants, two musicians, four sergeants, four corporals and seventy-four privates.

It is expected that Walla Walla, Skamania and Clark will furnish one company to enroll at Vancouver; That Cowlitz, Wahkiakum, Pacific and Chehalis will furnish one company to enroll at Cathlamet; That Lewis, Thurston, Pierce and Suwamish will furnish one company to enroll at Olympia; and that King, Island, Jefferson, Clallam and Whatcom will furnish one company to enroll at Seattle. Each volunteer will furnish his own arms and equipment, and each company will elect its own officers.

The Captain of each company will transmit, as soon as possible to the Executive, a copy of the muster roll together with a statement of the number of arms and equipment, and await further orders.

These four companies are to be considered as a reserve force and will only take the field when necessity absolutely requires it.

They will, therefore, after organizing, resume their usual avocations and assemble again at the command of their officers.

Given under my hand at Olympia, this 22nd day of October, 1855.


WHEREAS War exists between the United States and various Indian tribes east of the Cascade Mountains, the issues of which are at present uncertain; and believing that some of the band of Indians on this side of the mountains would not hesitate to butcher their white neighbors if a favorable opportunity occurred, believe it to be our duty to provide for the safety of our families should danger become imminent. For this purpose we have undertaken and design to complete a work of defense on this Prairie, to which we can remove our wives and children in case of emergency - THEREFORE  

RESOLVED 1ST - That we pledge to cast other mutual aid and support in case of danger.

RESOLVED 2nd - That we enroll ourselves into a Volunteer Company, and place ourselves at the disposal of the Acting Governor of this Territory, requesting that we may be immediately armed and equipped for service, and employed where duty calls for the defense of the country.

RESOLVED 3RD - That inasmuch as there is a deplorable lack of arms and ammunition among us we appoint a committee of two to wait upon his excellency, the acting Governor, to represent our condition, to obtain if possible his approval of our course in fortifying this point, and to obtain such assistance in arms and ammunition as he is able to furnish - to obtain if possible two small cannon.

RESOLVED 4TH - That said committee be instructed to wait upon the Major commanding in this regimental district, in the absence of the Colonel and Lieutenant Colonel, and request him to set off this portion of the County into a Company District, that all persons of lawful age to bear arms, and not enrolled as volunteers, may be organized into a militia Company and receive their quota of arms.

RESOLVED 5TH - That we deem it of first importance to defend this position, it being central in its character, furnishing abundant subsistence for stock, where they can be more easily defended than in any other portion of the Territory - The defense is important, too, to keep in check the bands of Indians in this vicinity and down the Chehalis.

RESOLVED 6TH - That with the work of defense we have undertaken and design to complete and the number of men engaged in the enterprise, if we can receive arms and ammunition, we can defend ourselves against any number of Indians that can possibly come against us.

After passing the above Resolutions, a Volunteer Company of 44 persons was organized on the spot:

B.L. HENNESS was elected Captain
E.N. SARGENT - 1st Lieut.
SAMUEL COLTER - 2nd Lieut.
F.M. SARGENT - Orderly Sergeant
D.F. BILES - 2nd Sergeant
WM. B. GOODELL - 3rd Sergeant
E.K. SEARS - 4th Sergeant
A. LANGLOOF - 1st Corporal
A. YOUNG - 2nd Corporal
JACOB KRAWL - 3rd Corporal

G.W. Goodell and A.S. Yantis were appointed a committee to wait on the Governor as contemplated by 3rd Resolution.

A true copy of the proceedings.

S. W. GOODELL, Clerk

23 October 1855

My dear Mason:

I am happy to inform you that Fort Steilacoom is once more a quiet place - as for the past seven days it was much like a combination of Military and horse market, etc.

The Volunteer Company got off in fine order 2 P.M. yesterday -the men in fine spirits and apparently with a determination of taking the Scalp of every Redskin who may be so unfortunate as to fall in their way.

Lieut. Harrison of the Revenue Service went out as a Volunteer officer to Captain Maloney's command. Colonel A. B. Moses the same. Captain Maloney will have, when he joins Slaughter's command - 115 regulars. These with the 87 Volunteers, 31 packers and the 5 officers (with the regulars) make the Command 238 strong - Captain Maloney took one howitzer with the necessary ammunition.

I have left at this post one howitzer with plenty of ammunition and about 400 rounds of musket cartridges. However, we are looking for 10,000 rounds from Benicia daily.

Mason if you go away send Mrs. Stevens down with her family. My quarters are at her service, and I would be glad to have her come. Mrs. Slaughter tells me to say that her quarters are also ready and she would be very glad to have Mrs. S come. The other ladies would also like to have her come. If she comes, I think I can make her very comfortable. As you are going to Vancouver, I send you a communication for Lieut. Withers, Commanding at that post to let him know when the troops left the post and other matters.

If you don't go to the Columbia River, you can forward the communication by the earliest opportunity.

Yours truly,
2nd Lieut., Comdg

29 October 1855


In accordance with orders which I received from you I joined with the available troops at Steilacoom, amounting to 75 men, at the earliest possible moment, the 21st of this month Lieut. Slaughter's command which had fallen back to the White River prairies. I remained there two days until I was joined by a Company of Volunteers, under the command of Captain Gilmore Hays. On the 24th, I commenced my march for the Yakima Country expecting to find you in the field. 

Yesterday I arrived at this Camp, where I laid over today to recruit my animals. I received an express today from Steilacoom, which I get information that you will not be on your march for from one to two weeks. I have also got information that there are from two to three thousand Indians well armed, and determined to fight in my front, and, after considering the matter over, have concluded that it is my duty to return to Steilacoom.

My reasons are as follows, Viz; first, my forces are not sufficiently strong to fight them, and protect the animals and provisions which I have along with me; secondly, If I advance I must meet them, as there is no front before me before I get into the plains where I can camp and defend myself and animals where I will not be cut off from communication both in front and rear by high water before you can get into the enemy's country; thirdly; In accordance with your orders I started with thirty days provisions, I have been out twelve days and therefore have only eighteen days provisions, which would be out before my command could join yours; there is already snow upon the mountains, and there is every reason to believe, that in three or four days it will close the road from here to Steilacoom, and also raise the Nachess River, so that it will prevent communication between this place, and the Yakima plains.

I am of the opinion that the best way to get troops from Steilacoom into the enemy's country will be by way of the Dalles. I also hear by the same express that the Northern Indians are showing themselves in considerable numbers at Steilacoom, and other points on the Sound, intending with other Indians to strike a blow in case I should be defeated here.

I am, Major, very respectfully, your obedient servent,
4th Inf,Comdg

Major G. J. RAINS, Comdg Post at Vancouver.
Fort Steilacoom, W. T.
30 October, 8 am, 1855

I have just received an express from Captain Sterrett, Commanding "Decatur," informing me that the Indians on White River have broken-out and that seven whites and two Indians have been murdered. Amongst the whites were one or two women.

On Sunday the 28th, 55 men under the command of Captain C. C. Hewitt went up the Duwamish enroute for the White River country.

A rumor came in here last evening (by a friendly Indian) to the effect that McAlister and nine others of the Rangers were killed last night on the Puyallup and that the Indians are advancing towards this post 250 strong - I am unable to say how true this is, but fear it is too true.

Yours truly,
Acting Gov., C.H. Mason

John Nugen, 2nd Lt., 4th Inf, Comdg

Ft Steilacoom, W. T.
2 November 1855


I have just received an express from Captain Maloney and I send you a copy of his letter to Major Rains.

The following men composed the Express - Mr. Bright, Joe Miles, A. B. Moses, Tidd Bradley, Dr. Burns, and Robinson your sheriff. The Express was ambuscaded near White River and Miles and Dr. Burns killed, and Moses mortally wounded and left in the woods.

I send Captain Wallace with his company to open communication with Capt. Maloney who will reach White River tonight - and fear that small parties will be coming in from his camp tomorrow. Captain Wallace will make a forced march and reach Captain Maloney before day-light if he has good luck. Hurry up the Rangers so that there may be short work of this matter. You had better let Mrs. Moses know the sad news - yourself - if he is still alive, Captain Wallace will rescue him.

Yours truly in haste,
Adj Gen James Tilton
John Nugen, Lt., 4th Inf., Comdg 

The following were extracted from the Olympia Pioneer-Democrat newspapers:

"James Tilton of Olympia to be Adjutant General of The Volunteer Forces of this Territory for and during the war with the Yakima and other hostile Indian tribes." 

"Charles H. Eaton, of Thurston County, Captain of the Puget Sound Rangers."

"Edward Lander to be aide to the acting Governor with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel."

"Doctor Gallio K. Willard to be Surgeon of Washington Volunteers."

"A. B. Stuart to be Commissary of Subsistence and Supply for Post Olympia."

"Major Gabriel J. Rains, US Army, to be Brigadier General, Washington Volunteers, to command the joint forces of the US Army and Washington Volunteers."

Adjutant General's Office
Olympia, W. T.
2 November 1855


1st. The Company "D", Captain Wallace, raised and organized at Steilacoom, is accepted and mustered into service, and will cooperate with the garrison at Fort Steilacoom until an expedition against the enemy is made.

2nd. The Company of Mounted Rangers of Mound Prairie, Captain Henness, is accepted, and will be mustered in upon rendition of their muster and descriptive rolls.

3rd. Captain Hewitt's Company of Seattle, being upon an expedition against the enemy, will be placed upon the rolls of this office in the service, upon rendition of their muster and descriptive rolls.

4th. Captains and other officers commanding companies will keep this office informed of their movements, and report as often as possible all the information they may obtain relative to the movement of the enemy, etc. Also, commanding officers of companies will report to this office names of any officers, non-commissioned officers or privates who may distinguish himself by any remarkable gallantry, or extraordinary good service.

5th. Should any officer, non-commissioned officer or private refuse a detail for an expedition or misbehave in action against the enemy, such person will be reported to this office by the commanding officer of the company or detachment and receive a dishonorable discharge from the service.

6th. Any habitual neglect of guard or fatigue duty or general absence from roll call, inattention on post, and general disobedience of lawful orders from superior officers will also be reported at the option of commanding officers of companies or detachments.

7th. An intelligent and gallant citizen soldier must see the absolute necessity of discipline - to make courage efficient - to insure success against the enemy and make the duty equal upon all.

James Tilton, Adjutant General

3 November 1855
In Camp at Connell's Prairie

James Tilton, Adj Gen

Sir: You have doubtless heard before this of our return to this side of the mountains, and also of the narrow escape of George Bright and comrades. We have had a great deal of anxiety on their account and had come to the conclusion that they had all been cut off. Dr Burns (not killed as originally reported) arrived in camp this evening, having been out since the night of the attack. 

I never saw a man so charged, he says he shot 7 Indians, and that George Bright three. There is very little doubt of the death of James Miles, Mr. Connell, Mr. James McAlister and A. B. Moses are all killed, the bodies of the two latter are found and will be sent to their friends for interment.

Yesterday with a detachment of forty mounted men I discovered some Indians and pursued them for two miles, but did not succeed in getting near enough to get any of them. Captain Hays took another trail and found a junction with command under Lieut. Slaughter, but saw no Indians.

This morning a detachment of fifty volunteers and fifty regulars under the command of Captain Hays and Lieut. Slaughter started on an expedition towards Seattle sending forward an advanced guard of 10 regulars and two choppers to fall a tree across the White River. While chopping the tree one of the regulars was shot in the neck and died in two or three hours. The command was about 1/2 mile in the rear when the first gun was fired and we arrived at the scene of action in a full run and found the Indians in force on the opposite shore of the White River. 

The men after firing five or six rounds got under cover and the Indians having done so before, the fight lasted for six hours, our sharpshooters picking them off whenever they showed themselves. There is no doubt that from 25 to 30 Indians were killed. One soldier was wounded in the thigh. Mr. Bush's son had his hat shot off from his head, another, James Wilson, had a ball through the rim of his hat. All, both volunteers and regulars fought like men and all the officers had to do was to caution their men not to expose themselves needlessly.

Henry Pearsell, a volunteer, got a position close to the river and killed 4 Indians during the action.

Captain Hays will probably write to you officially - please not consider this as such - We go after them again tomorrow.

Very respectfully yours,


3 November 1855

Lieut. John Withers, USA
Commanding Fort Vancouver

Sir: I have instructed B. F. Shaw, esq., to raise a company of rangers and proceed on the trail towards the Rocky Mountains, and if possible, to bring Governor Stevens in safety. Mr. Shaw has deputized Mr. Wm. McKay for the purpose.

In case the company should be organized, and mustered into the service of the United States, I have to request that you furnish them with all the necessary arms, ammunition, subsistence, transportation, etc., and dispatch them as soon as possible on the route above indicated.

Mr. Shaw is expected to have the direction of the company, either as a Captain, or as a special Indian agent.

Very respectfully, etc,
Actg Gov, W.T.

Camp Montgomery
11 November 1855

C. H. Mason, Actg Gov Wash Terr,

Sir: On the 4th instant, one hundred twenty-five men, 50 regulars, 50 Puget Sound Mounted Volunteers, and 25 men of Captain Wallace (Co. D, 1st Regt) marched against the Indians on Green River - on going down the Green River hill one of their sentinels shot one of our guides a Mr. Borge, wounding him slightly - We could see them on the bottom moving rapidly. We pursued and came up with their rear. 

We continued on the run charging them wherever found in the brush until dark when we bedded down for the night. In the later part of the night our sentinels could see them moving - When day light came we found a part of their force ambushed in the drift wood and brush prepared to fire. I then ordered Lieut. Hurd to charge them on the left -over a deep slough, the river on the right being too deep. However, I countermanded the order knowing full well that on the charge I would lose more men than the enemy.  They were prepared to fire and then run. We returned to camp - 

On the next day we routed a party on the upper Puyallup - We approached them by two routes, the volunteers under my command by one and Lieut. Slaughter by the other - the enemy was gone except some few of their number who ambushed Slaughter's party, killing one and wounding 4 others - all of whom I think may recover. There can be no blame attached to Lieut. Slaughter as any party could have been, under the circumstances and in that particular locality.

The Indians are whipped - they will never rally again. Their plan will be to ambush, fire and then run - my men have proven that they fear no danger - they are ready to fight under any circumstances. We are here and will remain for a day or two. What our future operations will be I have not as yet learned.

Yours truly,
G. HAYS, Capt.
Puget Sound Mtd Vols

Monday, 12 November 1855

Actg Gov. C. H. Mason

Governor: Here we are without a battle, except a skirmish four days since, with some forty Indians, who defied us as we approached the Yakima River. We thought at first it was the prelude to the big battle with the whole of their force, and forded the stream to an island with our mounted troops, eighteen dragoons and eight pioneers. 

Here we commenced action, firing on the enemy, and ordered up our artillery and infantry to ford the stream. Our troops made a rush into the water, and being on foot, tried again and again to cross the river, but failed, the rapid current sweeping away two of our best men, who were thus drowned; whereupon I sent back to Col. Nesmith for two companies of volunteers, which, with our dragoons, drove headlong into the foaming torrent, and reaching the opposite shore circled the enemy, who fled away over the hills, one of their balls striking, but fortunately not wounding Col. Nesmith's horse.

Late in the afternoon, after recalling all our force to the south bank of the Yakima River, we heard, some distance on the plain, the reports of small arms and taking two companies, we proceeded in that direction until some time that night, when the firing ceasing, we returned back to the edge of the timber and bivouaced for the night. 

Next day we found a number of Indians around us on swift horses, which were driven off by our mounted volunteer companies, and as we approached the mountain gorge, found the Indians about three hundred in number on the hill tops beating their drums and shouting defiance. These were soon driven off and scattered by discharges from our howitzers. We cut off some of them by a proper disposition of our troops and two or more were killed.

We continued our march to this place, sweeping the plains with our cavalry, dispersing, killing and wounding all the enemy we saw, and found the mission abandoned, apparently precipitately.

Captain Maloney not having arrived in conjunction with Colonel Nesmith and the Oregon Volunteers, we dispatched one hundred sixty-eight volunteers and regulars, on our best horses, to proceed in the direction of the Nachess Pass, and ascertain his whereabouts. We are awaiting their report, for we cannot tell where the large body of the enemy is, unless gone that way to attack Captain Maloney's command.

Our force has alarmed the enemy so much that they may be scattered.

Very respectfully your, etc,
G. J. Rains
Major, US Army and Brig Gen, Wash Terr Vols

Olympia, W.T.
13 November 1855


1st. Edward Lander, of Olympia, W.T., is appointed Aid to the Acting Governor and Commander-in-Chief with the rank of Lieut. Col. of the Volunteer forces of Washington Territory, now in the field. Lieut. Col. Lander will make a tour of inspection, visiting the various companies of Volunteers and rangers now in the field, or in the garrison, and report to this office upon their condition, efficiency, and requirements.

2nd. Dr. Mathew P. Burns is commissioned as Surgeon of Company B, from the date of organization.

3rd. Dr. R. M. Bigelow is commissioned as Surgeon of Company D, and will report for duty to Captain Wallace, Company D.

4th. Dr. Gallio K. Willard is commissioned as Surgeon of the 1st Regiment of Washington Territory Volunteers, and will attend professionally to such of the volunteers and rangers now in the service as may apply to him.

5th. A. B. Stuart is commissioned as commissary of subsistence for the post of Olympia, and will furnish rations for all volunteers and rangers at the post of Olympia, or those on temporary duty there.

6th. Company A, Captain William Strong, having been mustered into service at Fort Vancouver, has marched to join Brig. Gen. Rains in the Yakima country, and will receive orders from Brig. Gen. Rains or the commanding officer of the expedition from Fort Vancouver.

7th. Company E, Captain Isaac Hays, has been organized and accepted into service, and will, for the present, occupy the country adjacent to Chamber's Prairie and remain in readiness for marching orders, should the exigencies of the war require a forward movement.

8th. Company G, Captain McCorkle, of Cowlitz County, is mustered into service, and will guard the passes of the Lewis River, and intercept all communications between the hostile tribes east of the Cascades, and the Indians inhabiting the country west of the mountains.

9th. Company H, Captain Hewitt, having transmitted his muster and descriptive rolls to this office, will establish a post at the forks of the White and Green Rivers, and place himself in communication with Captain M. Maloney, USA, commanding combined regular and volunteer forces at Camp Montgomery.

1Oth. Company I, Captain Ebey, is accepted into service, and will maintain its position at Port Townsend - furnish a guard to the mouth of the Snohomish River, to prevent any of the enemy from descending the river, or having any communication with the friendly Indians inhabiting the shores of the Sound.

11th. The success achieved at the engagement of White River by the gallantry and constancy of the troops under the command of Captain Gilmore Hays, Company B, Puget Sound Mounted Volunteers, 1st Regiment, W. T. Volunteers, and the regulars of the 4th U.S. Infantry, commanded by Lieut. Slaughter, being detachments from the command of Captain M. Maloney, 4th Infantry, USA, has inspired a hope that any further accessions of tribes to the enemy is checked, and the war on the western side of the Cascades is rapidly approaching the DEFENSIVE on the part of the savages.

12th. The forces now in the field are deemed sufficient to pursue the enemy and follow up the success already obtained. It is, therfore, expressly enjoined upon all officers commanding companies and detachments, to prevent all private warfare upon Indians, as unauthorized persons may drive into hostility, tribes now friendly or wavering. 

Officers and soldiers will also bear in mind that Indians now friendly or indifferent may be rendered hostile by careless conduct, and while gallantry of the Volunteers will lead them to look with contempt upon the number of their foes, they will consider that isolated families may suffer from any recklessness on the part of those who are so courageously defending them.



Fort Steilacoom, W.T.
7 December 1855 (6 PM)

Hon C. H. Mason, Actg Gov, WT

Dear Sir: I have just received information that on Tuesday night last while Lieut. Slaughter was sitting in a small house at his Camp about 2-1/2 miles above the forks of White River and Green River, conversing with Captain Hewitt, Lieut. Harrison and Dr. Taylor, the Indians fired on them and killed Lieut. Slaughter at the first discharge. Two soldiers were also killed on the spot and five others wounded of whom one is since dead. Lieut. Slaughter's body has arrived here.

It is reported on all hands that it is impossible to operate against the Indians with any effect in the country on White, Green and Puyallup rivers, at this season of the year and I know it to be so from personal observation. To continue such a course will break down all our men and effect no harm to the Indians. Our pack animals are broken down, and we must establish our forces on our own ground in places where they will not suffer at night and where they can best protect the settlers. As you must be far better acquainted with such points, I would request that if convenient, you will come and see me tomorrow.

I send by the bearer, a letter to Captain Hays, with directions for him to concentrate his company at Bradley's to go to the relief of 40 men now encamped on the other side of the Puyallup about 3 miles from the ford. I do not know where Captain Hays is at this moment if you know please direct the bearer.

Mrs. Slaughter is at Olympia. Please keep the dreadful news of her husband secret until Lieut. Nugen can break it to her cautiously.

I am, in great haste, etc,
Capt., 3rd Arty, Comdg.


Camp Montgomery, W. T.
16 November 1855


A Military Commission to be composed of Volunteers and Regulars will assemble at this Camp immediately for the trial of some Indian prisoners, accused of being engaged in the present war between the Indians and the Whites. The following Officers will compose the Commission:

Captain Gilmore Hays, Puget Sound Mounted Rifles Captain W. H. Wallace, Pierce County Volunteers 1st Lieut. W. A. Slaughter 4th Regt of US Infantry

CAPT., 4th Infantry, Commanding

Camp Montgomery, W. T.
16 November 1855

The commission met pursuant to the above order. Present: All the Members. The commission then proceeded to the trial of the following prisoners:

1st. BISTIAN (An Indian) who was brought into court. The Commission was duly sworn in his presence, and the prisoner BISTIAN an Indian was arraigned on the following charges - viz; Charges. That he, BISTIAN, an Indian, was a party to war now existing between the Citizens of the United States and the Indians of the Nisqually, Klickitat and Yakima tribes of Indians - that he has also been a spy upon the movements of the U.S. troops in the field and has communicated intelligence to the hostile Indians relative to the movement of said troops and their members - that he is also guilty of or accessory to the murders of Whites, in the vicinity of Connell's Prairie, and the White River settlements. 

The prisoner pleaded NOT GUILTY to the above charges - Good Council was then appointed for him and he was duly tried for the crimes charged against him and the commission was then cleared and then deliberated upon the testimony adduced, both for and against the prisoner, and found him GUILTY of the charges preferred against him; and the commission does therefore sentence him, BISTIAN, to be hung by the neck until he is dead.

NOTE: Sas-Kit (a boy), Tom or Shu-an-um, San-as-er-it, S-hat-lal, Ye-lon-it, Pas-su-ca, and Sua-ma-hon were also tried by the this commision on identical charges. All plead NOT GUILTY and the commission found them NOT GUILTY.

1st Lieut., 4th Infantry

Capt., Puget Sound Mtd. Vols

I. The proceedings and findings in the foregoing cases of Indians .... relates to not finding them guilty of the charges against them - They are herby released and set at liberty.

II. In the case of the Indian BIS-TIAN, having been found GUILTY of the crime charged against him to be hung by the neck until he is dead - The sentence is approved of, and will be carried into effect, at such time and place as the Acting Governor may direct.

M. MALONEY, Capt., 4th Inf
Commanding Troops against hostile Indians