Olympia, 5 June 1856

Comdg Right Wing, W.T. Vols, Ft. Hicks

Sir: The information received from Captain DeLacey has determined me to abandon the movement by the Snoqualamie.

Your views as to moving over the Nachess are adopted. It is of great importance that everything should be pushed with all possible vigor. The orders for the movement will go from the office of the Adjutant General today.

It is doubtful whether all the powder you ask for can possibly be procured. Nearly one hundred pounds shall be forwarded from Olympia. I inclose a requisition for an amount not exceeding two hundred pounds on Lieut. Col. Casey. I trust, if he has that amount to spare for a brief period, that he will see his way clear to forward it.

I will purchase every pound that can be got in the town of Steilacoom.

The ammunition, powder, ball, caps, etc., shall be sent out tomorrow.

Truly respectfully, etc.,

4 June 1856

Lt. Col. E. C. Fitzhugh,
Aid-de-Camp, Holmes Harbor

Sir: I have conversed with the messengers of Te-i-as and Owhi, and have directed them to return to Te-i-as and Owhi, and invite them and all friendly Indians to come, with their women and children, to the prairie above the Falls of the Snoqualamie, and submit unconditionally to the justice and mercy of the government.

Absolute and unconditional submission is required. Those guilty of murders, or have urged on the war, will be punished. The remainder will be treated with mercy, as in the case of Indians on the Sound.

On the arrival of these Indians at the prairie, you will, in connection with Colonel Simmons, examine carefully into their connection with the war, have them tried, and carry into effect the decisions of the court. I invest you my whole authority in ordering and approving the proceedings of the commission.

You are authorized, however, either to suspend the execution of the sentence, or defer the trial of the criminals for the period which reason and policy may require.

In deferring the trial or execution of the sentence would favor more criminals being got in or would tend to bring over all the Indians who have opposed the war, and are sincerely desirous of peace, or would enable Col. Shaw to strike a blow at the hostiles by falling upon them unawares, or if any other advantage could resuit, then let the matter be deferred.

Should it be deemed advisable by yourself and Col. Simmons for me to visit the Indians on the Snoqualamie, send for me and I will go. And you will exercise your own judgment as to sending any of the chiefs or people to Olympia to see me.

I shall immediately push up the Snoqualamie a supply of provisions for the Indians.

When Lieut. Col. Shaw starts for the Snoqualamie I will advise you by special express.

Having had a full personal conference with Col. Simmons. I write necessarily briefly.

I say to both of you, use your own judgement in effecting the end desired, and you will be right. You will make known to Major Van Bokkelen the duties with which you are charged, and you will make with him the necessary arrangements to insure the safety of the Indians on their way to the place of rendezvous.


Olympia, 8 June 1856

Sec. of War, Washington City, D.C.

Sir: In my last communication, I gave, at length, my views and suggestions in regard to the Indian war in this Territory, and presented the measures of precaution which the present condition of affairs demanded.

The two expeditions referred to, one over the Cascades into the Yakima country, the other from the Dalles to the Walla Walla, are nearly ready for movement. Both expeditions I deem of vital consequence, in view of the present condition of things in the interior.

All the information which I have received, goes to satisfy me that unless the most vigorous action is at once taken, all the tribes from the Cascades to the Bitter Roots will be at war, a portion of the Nez Perce alone excepted.

The long delay of Colonel Wright on the Nachess, and his entertaining propositions of peace before striking the enemy, in connection with the withdrawal of Oregon Volunteers, has emboldened the Indians, and has probably enabled them to effect a general combination of the tribes. But no overt act has yet been committed.

The enclosed copy of a letter from Lieut. Col. William Craig, special agent of the Nez Perces, discloses the condition of things in the interior. It was written on the 27th of May, and reached me on the evening of the 5th of June, a distance by land, of about 400 miles, and by water 150 miles, or 550 miles in all.

I shall tomorrow push to the Dalles, and urge the Walla Walla expedition forward with all possible dispatch. I trust it will be in season. The troops all reached the Dalles yesterday, but it was supposed that a portion of the animals which were taken on the emigrant trails from the Willamette to the Dalles, will be a day or two behind.

If the troops reach the Walla Walla before an overt act has been committed, I am certain that the combination can be broken up, and that the Nez Perces and the Indians on and in the neighborhood of the Spokane will remain friendly.

I am, sir, very respectfully,

Dalles, O. T., 18 June 1856

Colonel George Wright
Comdg Northern District. Camp on Nachess, W.T.

Sir: Lt. Col. Shaw, on Thursday last (12th) marched from Camp Montgomery over the Nachess. It is supposed he will camp on the Wenass tonight. His orders are to cooperate with you in removing the seat of war from the base of the mountains to the interior, and for reasons affecting the close of the war on the Sound obvious to all persons.

He will then push to the Walla Walla valley, crossing the Columbia at Fort Walla Walla. The supplies and escort for the Walla Walla will move from the Dalles on Friday morning. The Walla Walla valley must be occupied immediately to prevent the extension of the war into the interior.

Kamiakin has, since your arrival on the Nachess, made every exertion to induce the tribes, thus far friendly, to join in the war. He has flattered the Spokanes, where he was on the 25th of May, and has endeavored to brow beat the Nez Perces. The Spokanes have answered in the negative and the Nez Perces will, I am satisfied, continue friendly.

I am ready, as the Superintendent of Indian affairs, to take charge of any Indians that may be reported by yourself as having changed their condition from hostility to peace. And in this connection, I will remark, that I have been informed of your views in reference to the Oregon Superintendent taking charge of certain Indians of my jurisdiction, those at Vancouver and those recently sent to you.

I am ready to agree to any arrangements which may be for the good of the Indians.

From all I can gather, I presume your views and my own do not differ as to terms which should be allowed the Indians, viz; unconditional submission, and the rendering up the murderers and instigators of the war for punishment.

I will, however, respectfully put you on guard in reference to Leschi, Nelson, Kitsap and Quiemuth from the Sound, and to suggest that no arrangement be made which shall save their necks from the Executioner.

I am sir, respectfully, etc,

20 June 1856

Gov. I. I. Stevens
Commander in Chief, Port Townsend

Sir: I regret to inform you that the mission you were pleased to entrust to Col. Simmons and myself has turned out a perfect failure. The causes of the failure I cannot give you in full, but will tell you why we think we were not partially successful.

Col. Wright of the "regulars" has for the last month been entertaining the Indians over the other side of the mountains, besides feeding the tyees, making them presents, etc., after having sent for reinforcements to different points, and tickling the community with the belief that he intended speedily to demolish all the Indians on the east side. The Indians would not come over to us, as they hoped to get better terms from him.

Our Indians informed us that Col. Wright told all of them that he was the "Big Dog" in this part of the world, and had come a long distance to treat with them, and if they would only stop fighting, that all would be right.

The Indians of course, are willing to play quits, save all their people and stop the war. If they succeed in doing that, as soon as they are well prepared to carry on the war with any prospects of success, the government will have the same expense and trouble over again. 

They notified us that as soon as they made friends of the soldiers, they would come over and treat, but as there was no time specified, we thought there was no use of our remaining. We accordingly left. This is the end of your attempt to treat after nearly two month's time being consumed, to say nothing of some five or six hundred dollars it has cost the government.

I believe that you are entirely correct in your impression, that they only wished to gain time and information. I believe that Owhi and Te-i-as, and some of the sub-chiefs and their bands would have surrendered unconditionally to the government, but for the inducements held out to them by Col. Wright, that they could treat with him on better terms, and save all their people. As things now are, they will have to be well thrashed before they will treat.

From the beginning of the difficulty to the present time, the regulars, from their commander-in-chief down, have stultified themselves. They have done no fighting, and now wish to patch up a treaty, so as to get the credit for putting an end to the war.

I must refer you to Col. Simmons for all particulars, as he goes direct to Olympia.

I am, very respectfully, etc,

Olympia, 7 July 1856

Hon. Jefferson Davis,
Sec. of War, Washington, D.C.

Sir: The two columns moving from the Sound over the Nachess Pass, and from the Dalles up the Columbia, are probably now assembled in the Walla Walla Valley. They are well mounted, are in good condition of discipline and have one hundred day's supplies.

The force from the Sound, under the immediate command of Lieut. Col. B. F. Shaw, moved from Camp Montgomery, on Wednesday and Thursday, June 11th and 12th, and crossing the mountains with the loss of only one animal, camped on the Wenass on the 20th. At that point Lieut. Col. Shaw received orders from me to push to Walla Walla, unite his force with that moving from the Dalles, and take command of the whole.

The force from the Dalles moved from camp five miles beyond the DesChutes River, on Wednesday, June 25th, and was expected to reach Walla Walla on the 4th of July.

Each column numbers nearly two hundred men. The whole force consists of 350 enlisted men, and about one hundred quartermaster and Indian employees.

From the Walla Walla, Indian supplies will be pushed to the Nez Perces and Spokanes, and an escort will accompany them, should the simple presence of a force in the Walla Walla be not sufficient to insure the safety of the train, protected, as it is expected, it will be by Indians auxiliaries.

Letters have been received from Lieut. Col. William Craig, agent of the Nez Perces, of the 29th of May and the 8th of June, speaking more favorably of the conditions in the interior.

Kamiakin, at a council held with the Spokanes on the 25th of May, wherein he urged that tribe to join the war, received a negative to his proposition. The Spokanes, however, harbor the hostile Cayuses, which has caused me to be somewhat apprehensive of the sincerity of their professions.

I was at the Dalles from Saturday, June 14th, to Monday, June 30th, getting the expedition off and collecting information in relation to the Indians. At that time the hostile bands were much scattered. Some three hundred hostiles were at the head of John Day's River; a large camp of hostiles, supposed to be Walla Wallas under the son of Peu peu mox mox, were at Fort Walla Walla. 

The Cayuses were on the Spokane. The Clickitats and Yakimas were on the Pischouse River, and probably small parties at Priest Rapids. The large camp reported by Lieut. Col. Craig, in his letter of May 27th, and composed of indivduals of several tribes, including the Snakes, I have no information that they have moved from the place where they were when Lt. Col. Craig wrote. There were Snakes with the party at the head of John Day's River, and the force was increasing.

It is proposed to strike the party at the head of John Day's River, by a force of about 175 men, consisting of l00 volunteers of Oregon under Major Layton, and 75 volunteers of Washington under Captain Goff.

The plan was to move from Well Springs on the 30th of June, which point is on the emigrant road, some 85 miles from the Dalles.

Lieut. Col. Shaw, in moving to Walla Walla, will strike the hostiles wherever he finds them.

On occupying the Walla Walla valley, he is also directed to spare no exertions to reduce to unconditional submission any hostiles within reach.

This decisive policy is believed by me indispensible to secure the permanent peace of the Indian country.

Very truly and respectfully, etc.,

Olympia, 24 July 1856

Hon. Jefferson Davis
Secretary of War, Washington, D.C.

Sir: I have the honor to report that the volunteer troops that have been called into service on the Sound are now being disbanded.

I propose simply for a limited period to keep on the line of Snoqualamie a small company of about 50 or 60 men, and at the head of the Sound at the Yelm and Tenalquot Plains, some forty men.

It is possible that a small force, say some twenty men, may be required at Bellingham Bay. In consequence of the killing of a Northern Indian (from Canada) at Steilacoom, some two weeks ago since, by some soldiers from the garrison in a drunken frolic, the tribe are greatly expasperated, and have threatened to make reprisals. In consequence, a small force of 15 men has been sent to Whidby Island from the line of the Snoqualamie. The naval forces, however, are attending vigilantly to the matter, and the two steamers, the Massachusetts and John Hancock, are cruising diligently.

The trouble, it is hoped, will soon be allayed. Lt. Col. Casey is using every exertion to bring to justice the soldiers who committed the offense.

The volunteer forces east of the mountains met on Mill Creek, in the Walla Walla valley, on the 8th instant. The Nez Perces are entirely friendly, and it is believed the Spokanes will also continue friendly.

Very truly, etc.,

24 July 1856

Adjutant General, W.T.V., Olympia

Sir: In my letter of the 12th inst., I announced my intention of making a scout towards the Grand Ronde as soon as I could make the necessary arrangements for placing this post in security during my absence.

The trail towards it was reconnoitered, and an excellent guide secured - "Captain John," a Nez Perce Chief.

I started at dark on the evening of the 14th inst., with the majority of the command, consisting of six companies, viz; Lieut. Williams, Lieut. Waite, Captain Miller, Captain Henness and Major Maxon, in all 160 men and officers, besides the pack train with ten day's rations. We marched all night, so as to get into the mountains before daylight, so that the dust could not be discovered. 

We took a trail travelled by Indians, and but little frequented by them lately. We arrived in the Grand Ronde valley on the evening of the 16th, and camped on a branch of the Grand Ronde in the timber, sending spies in advance, who returned and reported no fresh signs.

On the morning of the 17th, leaving Major Blankenship of the Central Battalion and Captain Miller of the Southern Battalion, assisted by Captain DeLacy, to take up the line of march for the main valley, I proceeded ahead to reconnoitor, accompanied by Major Maxon, Michael Marchman, Captain John and Dr. Burns. After proceeding about five miles, we ascended a knoll in the valley, from which we discovered dust arising along the timber of the river. 

I immediately sent Major Maxon and Captain John forward to reconnoiter, and returned to hurry up the command which was not far distant. The command was instantly formed in order. Captain Miller's Company in advance, supported by Maxon's, Henness' and Powell's companies, leaving the pack train in charge of the guard under Lieut. Goodwin, with a detachment of Goff's company in reserve, with orders to follow on after the command.

The whole command moved on quietly in this order, until within half a mile of the Indian village, where we discovered that the pack train had moved to the left down the Grand Ronde River. At this moment, a large body of warriors came forward, singing and whooping, and one of them waving a white mans scalp on a pole. One of them signified a desire to speak. 

Whereupon, I sent Capt. John to meet him, and formed the command in line of battle. When Capt. John came up to the Indians, they cried out to one another to shoot him, whereupon he retreated to the command, and I ordered four companies to charge.

The design of the enemy evidently was to draw us into the brush along the river, where from our exposed position, they would have the advantage - they no doubt having placed an ambush there. To avoid this, I charged down the river towards the pack train. The warriors then split - part going across the river, and part down towards the pack train. 

These we soon overtook, and engaged. The charge was vigorous and so well sustained that they were broken, dispersed and slain before us. After a short time, I sent Captain Miller to the left, and Major Maxon to the right - the latter to cross the stream and cut them off from a point near which a large body of warriors had collected, apparently to fight, while I moved forward with the commands of Captain Henness and Lieut. Powell to attack them in front.

The Major could not cross the river, and, on our moving forward, the enemy fled, after firing a few guns, part taking to the left, and part continuing forward.

Those who took to the left fell in with Captain Miller's company, who killed five on the spot, and the rest were not less successful in the pursuit which was continued to the crossing of the river, where the enemy, had taken a stand to defend the ford. Being rejoined by Captain Miller and by Lieut. Curtis with part of Maxon's company, we fired a volley, and I ordered a charge across the river, which was gallantly executed. 

In doing this, private Shirley Ensign, of Henness' company was wounded in the face. Several of the enemy, were killed at this point we continued the pursuit until the enemy had reached the rocky canyons leading towards Powder River, and commenced scattering in every direction, when, finding I had but five men with me, and the rest of the command scattered in the rear - most of the horses being completely exhausted - I called a halt, and fell back, calculating to re-mount the men on the captured horses, and continue the pursuit after night.

I found the pack train, guard and reserve, encamped on a small creek not far from the crossing, as I had previously ordered them to do, and learned that a body of the enemy had followed them all the way, and annoyed them, but had inflicted no damage beyond capturing many of the animals which we had taken in charge, and left behind.

I learned also that Major Maxon had crossed the river with a small party, and was engaged with the enemy, and wanted assistance. I immediately dispatched a detachment under Lieuts. Williams and Waite, sending the men who brought the information back with them as a guide. They returned after dark without finding the Major, but brought one of his men, whom they found in the brush, and who stated that one of the Major's men was killed and the last he saw of them they were fighting with the Indians. At daylight, I sent out Captain Miller with 70 men, who scouted around the valley without finding him, but who unfortunately had one man killed and another wounded whilst pursuing some Indians. 

I resolved to move camp the next day to the head of the valley, where the imigrant trail crosses it, and continue the search until we became certain of their fate. The same evening, I took 60 men, under Captain Henness, and struck upon the mountains and crossed the heads of the canyons to see if I could not strike his trail. Finding no sign, I returned to the place where the Major had last been seen, and there made a search in different directions, and finally found the body of one of his men (Tooley) and where the Major had encamped in the brush. From other signs, it became evident to me that the Major had returned to this post by the same trail which we first entered the valley.

Being nearly out of provisions, and unable to follow the Indians from this delay, I concluded to return to camp, recruit for another expedition in conjunction with Capt. Goff, who had, I presumed, returned his expedition to John Day's River.

I should have mentioned previously, that in the charge, the command captured and afterwards destroyed about 150 horse loads of lacmas, dried beef, tents; some flour, coffee, sugar, and about 100 pounds of ammunition and a great quanity of tools and kitchen furniture. We took also about 200 horses, most of which were shot, there being about 100 serviceable animals.

There were present on the ground from what I saw, and from information received from two squaws taken prisoner, about 300 warriors of the Cayuse, Walla Walla, Umatilla, Tyh, John Day, and Deschutes tribes, commanded by the following chiefs: Stock 2Whitely and Sim-mistastas, Deschutes and Tyh; Chick-iah, Plyon, Wic-e-cai, Wat-ah-stuar-tih, Win-imi-swoot, Cayuses; Tah-kin, Cayuse, the son of Peu-peu-mox-mox. Walla Wallas, and other chiefs of less note.

The whole command, officers and men behaved well. The enemy was run on the gallop for fifteen miles, and most of those who fell were shot with the revolver. It is impossible to state how many of the enemy were killed. Twenty-seven bodies were counted by one individual, and many others we knew had fallen and been left, but were so scattered about that it was impossible to get count of them. 

When to these we add those killed by Major Maxon's command on the other side of the river, we may safely conclude that at least forty of the enemy were slain, and many went off wounded. When we left the valley there was not an Indian in it, and all the signs went to show that they had gone a great distance from it.

On the 21st inst., we left the valley by the emigrant road, and commenced our return to camp. During the night, Lieut. Hunter, of the W. T. Volunteers, came to camp with an express from Capt. Goff. I learned, to my surprise, that the Captain and Major Layton of the Oregon Volunteers had seen Indians on John Day's River had followed them over the head to Burnt River, and had a fight with them, in which Lieut. Eustis and one private was killed, and some seven Indians. 

They were shaping their course for the Grand Ronde valley, and had sent for provisions and fresh horses. I immediately sent Lieut. Williams back with all my spare provisions and fresh horses, and continued my march. On Wild Horse creek, I came across Mr. Files, a pack master, who had been left in camp, who informed me, to my extreme satisfaction, that Major Maxon and his command had arrived safe in camp, and were then near us with provisions and ammunition. These I sent immediately to Captain Goff.

I learned that Maxon had been attacked in the valley by a large force of Indians, on the day of the fight had gained the brush and killed many of them - that night he tried to find our camp, and hearing a noise like a child crying, probably one of the captured squaws, had concluded that my command had gone to Powder River, and that the Indians had returned to the valley by another canyon.

He moved his position that night, and the next day saw the scout looking for him, but in the distance thought it was a band of Indians hunting his trail. Conceiving himself cut off from the command, he thought it best to return to this camp, thinking that we would be on our way back to Grande Ronde with provisions and ammunition.

Enclosed you will find the Surgeon's report of the killed and wounded.

Respectfully, etc,

Camp Mill Creek, Walla Walla Valley, 24 July 1856

James Tilton, Esq.
Adjutant General, W. T. V.

Sir: I send you my report of the killed and wounded in the engagement on the Burnt River and Grand Ronde on the 15th and 16th of July, 1856

2nd Lieut. John Eustus, Co. N - Residence: Luckimate, O.T. KILLED
Daniel Smith, Co. K - Residence: French Prairie, O.T. KILLED
James Cheney, Co. K - Residence: O.T. WOUNDED in thigh, slightly.
Wm. F. Tooley, Co. A - Residence: Cape Horn Mtn, W.T. KILLED
Wm. Irvin, Co. A - Residence: Vancouver, W.T. KILLED 
Wm. Holmes, Co. K - Residence: Thurston County, W.T. KILLED
Thomas Como, Co. A - Residence: Vancouver, W.T. DANGEROUSLY WOUNDED
Shirley Ensign, Co. C - WOUNDED in nose and cheek.
Wm. Downey, Co. D - WOUNDED in knee with arrow, slightly
T. N. Lilley, Co. J - WOUNDED, forearm fractured and head cut by an Indian with an empty gun

I remain, etc,
Mathew P. Burns, M.D.
Surgeon, 2nd Regt., W.T.V.


James Tilton, Esq.,
Adjutant General, W.T. Volunteers

Sir: Your letter of 16 June was received on the 10th of July. I am under many obligations for the valuable information given.

I will now endeavor to give you a sketch of my operations since the formation of my company. It was organized, officers elected and ready for duty on the 11th day of March. On reporting to Lieut. Col. Craig, he ordered me to remain at this place for the purpose of protecting the Agency, and to prevent hostile Indians from coming into the country.

On the 12th of March, I took prisoner a Pelouse Indian from the war party who came into the country to spy. On examining him he confessed to having murdered two Americans. I hung him on the afternoon of the day he was taken prisoner.

On the 20th of March, in pursuance of an order from Lieut. Col. Craig, I proceeded with a part of my command to the camp of the friendly Cayuses for the purpose of looking for stock and taking any hostile Indians which might be in that section of the country. On arriving there I heard that a small party was encamped on the North side of the Snake River, just below our encampment. I immediately sent a detachment below and took them prisoner together with a large number of horses. The head chief of the Cayuses had been with the party, but he gaining intelligence of my approch, through some Nez Perces, escaped. I brought my prisoners and stock to this place on the 23rd of March.

I have labored under many disavantages at this place, having been almost destitute of provisions and clothing, and no way of procuring them. Beef was our only fare while it lasted, and after that was gone, roots. On the arrival of the train in charge of Quartermaster and Commissary A. H. Robie, I supposed I would be able to get supplies, but was disappointed. 

This state of things created a great deal of dissatisfaction in the company. In consequence of this, it was disbanded by Lieut. Col Craig. giving the officers, however, the usual time for the settlement of their business.

I have given you a brief but faithful history of the little which I have been able to accomplish during the existence of my company.

Considering the circumstances, I could have done no more and a future maintenance of the company would be but a useless expense. Although I think it highly necessary for a force to be stationed at this place for the maintenance of peace. But it should be of sufficient strength to command respect.

Affairs in this country at present wear rather an alarming aspect, many of the principal chiefs heretofore supposed to be friendly, now seem otherwise disposed.

You will confer a great favor by writing on receipt of this.

Your obedient servant, etc,
Henri M. Chase, Capt. Comdg & Acting
Quartermaster & Commissary, Co. M, 2nd
Regiment, W. T. Volunteers