William Winlock Miller at Fort Raglan
William Winlock Miller served the citizens of Olympia, Washington, as their mayor on two occasions and was prominent in local politics for many years. During the Indian War of 1855 Miller had business with someone camped at Fort Raglan, one of the several places in Thurston County where settlers banded together for protection.
When Miller was within a mile of the Fort he saw a band of territorial volunteers in the distance who were returning to the Fort from a scouting expedition. Miller mistook the casually dressed volunteers as Indians and started to run towards the Fort.
One of the volunteers noting Miller's mistake, gave an Indian war whoop which added terror to the already frightened horses. Mr. Miller was thrown from his horse and struggled on leaving the horse to its fate.
He also left a package containing a pair of trousers and some other items on the trail. Miller, being a proper gentleman, dressed in overalls on the road and expected to change into more proper attire once reaching the Fort.
According to Elizabeth Hawk who was at the Fort that day, "...the boys seeing that Miller lost his pants, made the loss a sore subject with him and teased him without mercy, and being so frightened by the Indians that he ran away from that very useful garment."
Gary Fuller Reese, "William Winlock Miller," It happened on Puget Sound p. 82-83.
William W. Miller
I remember of hearing them tell of a Mr. Miller who had business at the fort and he started from Olympia accompanied by a Frenchman by the name of Tebo. They had got within a mile of the fort when seeing a band of volunteers returning from a scouting expedition, they mistook them for Indians and started to run.
One of the volunteers seeing their mistake gave an Indian war whoop which added terror to their already frightened horses. Mr. Miller was thrown from his horse, and leaving him to his fate, Tebo rode toward the fort and seeing the children who had been allowed outside of the fort, as there was no signs of danger, started yelling at them to run for the gate and as my little sister was rather plump and was lagging the old man yelled at her, "you little deiffel, run, I say," but seeing that with fright and such encouragement she was not likely to reach the gates, he rode up and picking her up, galloped in just as the gates were being shut.
Our boys picked Mr. Miller up and brought him in. As there were a number of ladies in the fort (some of them widows), Mr. Miller had provided himself with an extra pair of pants, to be put on upon reaching the fort, and had worn overalls on the road. In the fracas he lost his pants, and the boys seeing this, made the loss a sore subject with him, and teased him without mercy, and being so frightened by the Indians that he ran away from that very useful garment. Mr. Miller afterward became a prominent citizen of Olympia.
Elizabeth Hawk, "William W. Miller," Tacoma Sunday Ledger. July 10, 1892 (excerpt).
Sarah McAllister Hartman.
In order to be nearer home, mother moved to this place, and then our hard times began. There were nine in our family and we had rations for three men. We were there for one year, and I don't remember having a substantial meal during the time.
While there, my younger brother went to the farm to get something for the family to eat. John, while trying to shoot some ducks, shot himself in the hand, crippling himself for life. We had some very bad Indian scares in that place; my blood used to run cold when the order came "All children must sleep in the block house." We were packed like sardines in the upper floor of the block house.
On account of my brother being shot, mother could not go with us, so we had to go alone; lying on the rough puncheon floor with only a blanket over us. The lower part of the place was occupied by soldiers and if we made any noise they would swear at us.
One day an Indian came up the river, and as he neared the fort he put a white rag on his paddle and we paddling past in his canoe. Some young men spoke to the commander about it, but he would not permit them to intercept him, and several young men started in pursuit. One of them had been very recently married and his poor bride could not bear to see him go, so she locked him in their room, locking herself outside to be away from his persuasions to be released.
Nothing daunted, he kicked the door down and started after the other men, overtaking them before they got to the drift, where, sure enough there sat three Indians waiting for the fourth. The men waited too; presently he came and began to unload his ammunition, when the boys proceeded to convert him into a good Indian.
The sentinels were often firing off their alarm gun, thereby creating terrible excitement. At one time a company of soldiers were coming for reinforcements, Gen. W.W. Miller commanding. Some overanxious sentinel fired his gun, thinking it was Indians coming to attack the fort. Someone in the fort gave a war whoop, and those coming up answered it. This caused alarm, each party thinking the others were Indians. To make matters worse, they had let us children out on the island to gather berries, sending a guide with us. As soon as the women heard the war whoop, they started outside for the children.
The officers ordered them to return but they did not feel obliged to obey, so kept on. The officers charged them with their horses, but several got through, mother among them. Meantime, we children were being sent across the slough in two small canoes. They put the small over first, making the rest await their return.
There we stood, while Indians (as we thought) were charging and about to cut us off from the fort. Both parties were yelling like mad. We little ones stood there until the others got over. I think I can tell very nearly how the soldiers feel in battle. All across, they then started us on a run across a sand-bar, where we sank ankle deep at every step, the men riding behind crowding us on.
The nearer the (imaginary) Indians came, the harder they pushed us. Seeing that the little ones couldn't make it, they began picking them up, putting them on their horses. Being rather stout, my feet were soon pulled from under me by my two leaders, and I was being dragged along, when an old man, named Weabaux, made a grab for me, but missed me.
Wheeling his horse, he tried it again with no better success. He then thought to frighten me, and drew his sword and thrust it at me, but I could only fall down and scream. Then he would make another grab with the same result. Becoming provoked he commenced to scold me, something after the following manner: "Geet up, you leetle fool. Geet up I say. I cuts your legs off wit' mine sword" ---making a slash at me--- "Geet up, you leetle divil, I cuts your head off next time." ---Another slash--- "Goin' right off and leaves her here and lets the Injuns eat her up alive! You leetle red headed divil, geet up--geet up!"
The old man was scolding at the top of his voice, he being a little deaf and thinking everyone else was more so. Some one picked me up on their horse and carried me to the fort. I never knew who it was.
This is a fair specimen of the scares in the worst place I was ever in.