Born in Rhode Island and appointed to the United States Military Academy from Rhode Island.
Brevet Second Lieutenant, 7th Infantry, 1 July 1826.
Second Lieutenant, 2nd Infantry, 1 July 1826
First Lieutenant, June 28, 1836.
Captain, 1 July 1839
Brevet Major, 20 August 1847, for gallant and meritorious conduct in the Battles of Contreras and Churubusco.
Brevet Lieutenant Colonel, 13 September 1847 for gallant and meritorious conduct at the Battle of Chapultepec.
Lieutenant Colonel, 9th Infantry, 3 March 1855.
Brigadier General of Volunteers, 31, August 1861.
Colonel, 4th Infantry, 9 October 1861
Brevet Brigadier General 31 May 1862 for gallant and meritorious conduct in the Battle of Fair Oaks, Virginia.
Major General of Volunteers 31 May 1862.
Brevet Major General, 13 March 1865 for gallant and meritorious conduct during the war.
Mustered out of the Volunteer service 24 August 1865.
Retired 8 July 1868, died 22 January 1882.
His son, Thomas Lincoln Casey was appointed to the Military Academy with an At Large Appointment. He was born in New York.
Brevet 2nd Lieutenant in the Engineers, 1 July 1852.
2nd Lieutenant, 22 June 1854
First Lieutenant, 1 December 1856
Captain, 6 August 1861
Major, 2 October 1863.
Brevet Lieutenant Colonel and Brevet Colonel 13 March 1865 for faithful and meritorious service during the war.
Lieutenant Colonel of Engineers 2 September 1874
Colonel and Superintendent of Public Buildings, 3 March 1877 to April 1881.
Colonel of Engineers, 12 Mar 1884.
Brigadier General and Chief of Engineers 6 July 1888.
Retired by operation of law 10 May 1895 and died 25 March 1896.
HEADQUARTERS, PUGET SOUND DISTRICT
Fort Steilacoom, W. T., 15 March 1856
Governor I. I. Stevens, Olympia, W. T.
Sir: I respectfully request that you will at once issue your proclamation calling into service of the United States two companies of volunteers to serve on foot, for the period of four months, unless sooner discharged. Each company to consist of one Captain, one First Lieutenant, one Second Lieutenant, four sergeants, four corporals and seventy privates.
I wish both companies to be mustered into service at Ft. Steilacoom.
The authority for calling for the above named troops has been given by the General, commanding the Department of the Pacific.
I received yesterday an accession of two companies of the 9th Infantry. With this accession of force, and the two companies of volunteers called for, I am of the opinion that I shall have a sufficient number of troops to protect this frontier without the aid of those now in the service of the Territory.
I am sir, etc,
Silas Casey, Lt. Col., 9th Inf., Comdg.
EXECUTIVE OFFICE, WASHINGTON TERRITORY
Olympia, 16 March 1856
Lt. Col. Casey, 9th Inf Comdg,
Puget Sound District, Ft Steilacoom, W. T.
Sir: I have received your letter of the 15th instant, advising me of accession to your command of two companies of regulars, and requesting me to issue my proclamation calling into the service of the United States two companies of volunteers to serve on foot, for the period of four months, unless sooner discharged. These companies you wish to be mustered into the service at Steilacoom.
You also express the opinion that if this requisition be complied with, that you will have a sufficient number of troops to protect this frontier without the aid of those now in the service of the Territory.
I am also advised that you have been authorized to make this requisition for troops by the general commanding the department of the Pacific.
You have been informed by me not only of the volunteer force which has been called out to protect the settlements, and to wage war upon the Indians, but the plan of campaign which I have adopted, of the positions which these troops occupy, and the blows already struck by them against the enemy. I take it for granted that this information has been communicated to General Wool, and has been considered by him in his official action.
In the two visits which I have made to Steilacoom to confer with you, one of them made at great personal inconvenience, I have waived etiquette in my anxious desire to cooperate with the regular service. I have communicated unreservedly my plans and views and have endeavored, so far as my operations are concerned, to conduct affairs in a way to insure the whole force operating as a unit in the prosecution of the war.
I am happy to say, that in our several interviews and communications, you have met me in the same spirit of cooperation to the extent that the impression has been made upon my mind, that such disposition had been made of the volunteers in your opinion, as to make them an efficient element in the general combination.
Now your requisition on me to issue my proclamation to call into the service of the United States two companies of volunteers, in connection with the expression of your opinion, that if the call were complied with, the services of the troops now in the service of the Territory may be dispensed with, is, in fact, a call upon me to withdraw all the troops now in the field, with their sixty to eighty day's provisions, to abandon the blockhouses, to leave the settlements both north and south open to attacks by marauding Indians, and, at the very moment when our troops are prepared to strike a blow, and perhaps the decisive blow, to abandon the campaign and reorganize anew.
Are you aware that in the patriotic response of the citizens of this Territory to the call of the Executive, over one half of our able-bodied men are bearing arms, that the people are almost entirely living in blockhouses, and that it is entirely beyond the ability of our citizens to organize an additional company of even fifty men?
The two companies you call for can, therefore, not be raised except by the withdrawal of the troops, and abandoning the campaign at the very moment when the prospects are flattering to end the war.
For the reasons above it will be impossible to comply with your requisition. Nor can I suppose that in making the requisition, either Major General Wool or yourself, believed for a moment that the requisition would be seriously entertained by me.
But I am of the opinion that even were the requisition complied with, your force would not be adequate to the protection of the frontier and the settlements. Having the highest respect for your opinion, knowing how cautiously and carefully you approach any field of labor, and how thoroughly you investigate it, and reach your conclusions, I am constrained to express my judgment that you would soon be obliged to call for additional force equal in all, to the force which has been called out by my previous proclamations.
In such case, I have no other alternative than to act according to my deliberate judgement. For, if waiving my own judgment to yours, injury would result, the responsibility would attach to me no less than to yourself.
Otherwise, why is the Militia organized, and the Executive made its Commander in Chief? It is to meet emergencies like the present.
But were it practical to comply with your requisition, and were these requisitions in my judgement competent, I should not deem it expedient to place the force thus raised, under the command of the officers of the regular service.
The war has now gone five months. It is a war emphatically for the defense of the settlements. So much so, that I have ordered to the Sound four companies from the Columbia River, and at this critical period it is important that there should be no changes in the command, or in the plan. In view of this, and also in view of the changes of opinion and of plan on the part of the officer in chief command of this coast, growing out of a want of proper understanding of the difficulties to be encountered, I am of the opinion that the whole force will be more efficient, and that there will be a better spirit of cooperation, if the regular and volunteer services are kept distinct.
Be this as it may, the campaign is, I trust approaching its consummation, and the changes of plan can only be fraught with mischief.
The citizens of this territory have great confidence in the officers of the regular service, and especially in this case with the people of the Sound. These relations have been more than cordial; these are the witnesses of the efficiency of the troops stationed here, and their gratification has been announced on several occasions since the organization of the Territory.
The force now in the field has not been mustered into the service of the Territory, but in the service of the United States. My authority as the highest federal officer in the Territory, is derived from the same source as that of the Major General commanding the Pacific division. I am commissioned by the President, and I act under authority of the laws of Congress, and the responsibilities of my oath of office.
For these reasons, your requisition cannot be complied with, at the same time, you may rest assured of my doing everything in my power to cooperate with you, and I hope that, through the action of us all, the war may soon be closed, and the suffering inhabitants of the Territory may be rescued from their present unhappy condition.
With greatest respect, etc,
ISAAC I. STEVENS
Governor & C in C, WTV
HEADQUARTERS, PUGET SOUND DISTRICT
Fort Steilacoom, W. T., 6 November 1856
His Excellency I. I. Stevens,
Gov. & Supt of Indian Affairs, Olympia, W. T.
Sir: Yours of the 4th inst, is just received. Neither Lieut. McKibbin or any other officer, has been authorized by me to permit Indians to leave the reservation without authority of their agent; and if Lieut. McKibbin has so far exceeded his authority, such orders will be given to him as will prevent its recurrence.
The Indians near the outlet of the Dewamish Lake, are those who were permitted by the Indian agent, by my request, to go to that point, for the purpose of constructing a fish weir. I understand they are catching a large number of fish, and I trust, will be permitted to stop until the run of fish has passed.
As I remarked to you, in a communication a few days since, I will again repeat, that as hostilities had ceased in this district, I wished to be released from the responsibility of the charge of any of these Indians, when it has been refused by your agents, and I considered it my bounden duty to do so, in order that the peace and tranquility of the community may be preserved.
With regards to reports which your agents and others carry to you about hostile Indians, etc., I would merely say that I find it necessary to receive all such reports with great caution.
The one which I had the honor to receive from you, a few days since, stating that more than one hundred Indians had left the reservation for the purpose of joining Leschi, proves to have been what I believed at the time, a baseless fabrication.
With a sincere desire to do justice to all, I will say that it is my firm belief, after weighed, I trust, with due consideration, all the circumstances connected with the matter, that if, in dealing with the Indians on the Sound, a spirit of justice is exercised, and those who have charge of them are actuated by an eye single to their duties, and the peace of the country, there need be no further difficulty.
If, on the contrary, undue credence is given to the many reports which are constantly being circulated in this community (most of them false) made either from mere wantonness, the spirit of revenge, or from interested motives, the acts of outrage on the Indians, which their belief, by unreflecting persons will investigate, may lead to retaliation and the peace of the country endangered.
Very respectfully, etc,
Silas Casey, Lt Col, 9th Inf, Comd.
EXECUTIVE OFFICER, WASHINGTON TERRITORY
Olympia, 8 November 1856
Lieut. Col. Silas Casey
Comdg. Ft. Steilacoom, W.T.
Sir: I have received your letters of the 2nd and 6th of November by the hands of Lieut. Nugen.
My reasons for declining to receive the Indians at your post have been already stated and remain in full force. When the murderers and those accused of murder, are, in compliance with my requisition, placed by you in the hands of the civil authorities, the Indians will be received. The agents have positive orders to receive none of these Indians except by written instructions. These Indians have been, or will be indicted by the grand jury of the several counties. As you have proclaimed hostilities have ceased, they are in your military possession.
I enclose the report to me of my local agent, Page, in regards to the alleged interference of Lieut. McKibbin with his Indians. I am glad to be informed of the steps you have taken in the matter.
In regard to your observations about the reports which my "agents and others carry to me," as well as the reiterations of former observations in reference to the exercise of the spirit of justice, and the efforts of the persons in charge of the Indians being "actuated by an eye single to those duties and the peace of the country," I have simply to state that the tone of them is offensive, and comes with ill grace from the authority that has done little, to that which has done so much.
It is not my disposition to retaliate, but the occasion makes it proper for me to state that the greatest difficulty I have had to encounter in stopping the whiskey traffic with the Indians at Steilacoom and Bellingham Bay, has been the conduct of your own command.
It would seem to be more appropriate that you should first control and then reform the conduct of your own people, before going out of your way to instruct and rebuke another branch of the public service - a service too, which, both from its experience and the success which has attended its labors, is entitled to the presumption that it is as much interested and as much devoted to the peace of the country as yourself, and as well qualified, to say the least, to consider dispassionately and judge wisely of affairs at the present juncture.
I have also been informed of your thanking God, in the presence of Mr. Wells, who informed you how the Muckleshoot reservation was laid off, that the iniquity of it was not upon your hands a remark highly presumptious and insulting, as well from the fact the business did not concern you, as from the fact that the reservation was laid off both in the way I arranged with the Indians at the Council on Fox Island, and to their satisfaction on the ground.
I am also informed by Col. Simmons personally, that he did give you notice that he would receive no more Indians. I presume you did not listen to him, being altogether too pre-occupied with your own views, to listen to a gentleman in regard to a business which he and his superiors "are the proper persons to judge."
Very respectfully, etc,
I. I. STEVENS
Governor, and Supt of Ind. Affairs.
NB. I will respectfully ask you to send me a copy of my letter notifying you that one hundred Indians had left to join Leschi.
HEADQUARTERS, PUGET SOUND DISTRICT
Ft. Steilacoom, W. T. 12 November 1856
His Excellency I I Stevens
Governor, W. T.
Governor: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 8th instant.
By reference to your communication of the 25th instant, I find the following: "In regard to Leschi I will state that from recent information in my possession, I am almost certain that he is now endeavoring to raise a force to prosecute the war anew."
The expressman, who brought your letter informed me, that information had been received in Olympia that one hundred fifty Indians had left the reservation and joined Leschi. I was informed by Mr. Ford, the next day, that he himself had conveyed to you that or similar information, and that he had since ascertained that it is not so.
When I addressed you my communication I had not yours before me, and inadvertently confounded my information. It was an error on my part, and I cheerfully correct it.
I have enclosed a copy of a communication received by me from Lieut. McKibbin with regard the charge of your agent.
Very respectfully, etc.
SILAS CASEY, Lt. Col., 9th Inf, Comdg.
Executive Office, Washington Territory,
Olympia, January 22nd, 1858 Half past 2 A.M.
Lieutenant Colonel Silas Casey, Commanding, Fort Steilacoom.
I am just in receipt of a communication by express from the Sheriff of Pierce County informing me that he called upon you last evening and requested you to furnish him today with sufficient guard to protect him, in the discharge of his duty in executing the Indian Leschi who is now a prisoner confined at Fort Steilacoom and condemned to death.
He further informs me that your answer to him was that if you were formally requested by some person having authority, that you might or you might not furnish such guard.
I have therefore respectfully to request that you furnish such guard to George Williams, the Sheriff of Pierce County, as shall be necessary to protect him in the execution of his duty, in the hanging of Leschi.
I am, Sir, Very respectfully, Your Most Obedient Servant,
Fayette McMullin, Governor of Washington Territory.
Washington Historical Quarterly I (January, 1907), p. 58-59.
SILAS CASEY AND FORT ORFORD
Fort Orford was established following the engagement of Battle Rock and the Vault exploring party expedition to protect local settlers and southern Oregon immigrants; was built by Lt. Colonel Silas Casey and a company of ninety men and located about three hundred feet from Battle Rock and one quarter mile southeast of where Port Orford now stands. It comprised fifteen buildings, including officer's quarters, barracks, kitchen, guard house, commissary, ordnance storehouse, blockhouse and stables. It suffered no Indian troubles.
(Corning, Howard McKinley Dictionary of Oregon History, Portland: Binfords and Mort, 1956.)
Rodney Glisan, a United States Army officer who served at Fort Orford published his journal entitled Journal of Army Life. He mentions the post on pages 220-235.
August V. Kautz who served at the Fort also kept a diary but it was destroyed. The Kautz diary begins on July 1, 1857 while he was serving at Fort Steilacoom.
Fort Orford, located on Trichenor Bay at Port Orford in Curry County, Oregon, was established on September 14, 1851 by Second Lieutenant Rapwell T. Wyman 1st Artillery. The post was constructed by troops under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Silas Casey from Astoria in October.
The village of Port Orford had been founded by Captain William Trichenor of the Seagull in June 1851. In July 1851, the settlers erected two blockhouses, also called Fort Orford on Fort Point. These defenses were entirely separate from the military post which was abandoned on July 10, 1856.
The civilian fortifications were destroyed by the Port Orford Fire of October 10, 1868.
(Roberts, Robert B. Encyclopedia of Historic Forts. New York: Macmillan, 1988. p. 667.)
Vasco J. Fenili, "Silas Casey, Compassionate Warrior," in John Hemphill, West Pointers and Early Washington. Seattle: West Point
Society of Puget Sound, Inc. 1992. p. 135-138.
Silas Casey, lieutenant colonel of the Fourth Infantry regiment, came to the Puget Sound District of the Washington territory already an experienced Indian fighter and military commander. These attributes he brought to bear on putting an end to the Indian War west of the Cascade Mountains. At the same time, he was a compassionate leader who understood to plight of the native Americans, realizing that the Indian wars of the 1850s stemmed from long standing differences between dissimilar cultures. Through more than five years' service on Puget sound, he was a moderating force in the many conflicts between the Indians and the land hungry white settlers.
A graduate of the Military Academy, Class of 1826, Casey drew frontier duty on his first assignment, and engaged hostile Indians for the first time in September 1828. Later he served against the Seminoles in Florida between 1837 and 1842 and the Coquille Indians in Oregon during the fall of 1851....
Lieutenant Colonel Casey arrived on Puget Sound by steamer with two companies of the Ninth United States Infantry and took command of Fort Steilacoom and the Puget Sound District on January 17, 1856. In February, Casey joined elements of the Fourth Infantry and Third Artillery, already in the field, and marched a force into the White River Valley and dealt a series of defeats to the Indians.
In March, 1856, the decisive battle west of the Cascades was fought at Connell's Prairie. A force of 110 volunteers was attacked by 150 Indians. After an all day battle the Indians were routed. The defeated Indians broke into small banks, never again to assemble into forces large enough to carry out any major operations. On May 19, 1856, Lieutenant Colonel Casey was able to report that the war west of the mountains was at an end.
Casey's Puget Sound service and the 1856 Indian campaign were complicated by the conflict between the Army and the Territorial Governor, Isaac I. Stevens over war strategy and policy toward the Indians. Stevens had graduated at the top of his class in 1839 at West Point. He was independent and ambitious and through he had resigned from the Army to accept the territorial governorship, he continued to operate in a manner that suggested military command.
At the general outbreak of hostilities, Stevens immediately urged vigorous action, recommending a winter campaign to break the will of the hostile Indians, and to destroy their provisions and livestock. Brevet Major General John E. Wool, Commander of the Department of the Pacific, a veteran of the War of 1812 and of the Mexican War, with forty-four years of service, planned to proceed slowly under the extend of the hostilities could be determined and necessary reinforcements moved to area of hostilities. He ruled out a winter campaign, but assured the Governor that the Army would pursue the war with promptness and vigor when the situation was right.
General Wool insisted throughout the winter that future hostilities would be more the fault of the whites than the Indians. Ironically, from the beginning of the war, the Army represented the voice of compromise and moderation while the Governor, as leader of the white settlers, took the position that the war would be prosecuted until the last hostile Indian was eliminated.
Stevens countered Army inaction by calling out Volunteers, speaking of a spirit of cooperation with the regulars, but also insisting that he would be issuing the orders and formulating campaign policy. Ignoring Wool, he began urging his policies on the Regular Army commanders, particularly on Lieutenant Colonel Casey.
Blocked in his desire for a winter campaign east of the Cascade Mountains, the Governor determined to seal off the mountain passes, therefore isolating the Puget Sound Indians during the winter. Since the Volunteers could not seal all the passes, Stevens attempted to use Casey's command to supplement the Militia. Casey countered by requesting two companies of Volunteers be placed with the Army, enabling the Army alone to protect the frontier. Stevens refused to give up control of the volunteers, insisting that the Governor become the final authority in an emergency thereby ignoring tradition.
A second area of dispute for Casey and Stevens was policy towards the friendly Indians. Casey assumed that the Army would deal with the hostile Indians and conceded that since the governor was also Superintendent of Indian Affairs, he was responsible for the friendlies. But to the hostiles, Casey informed the Governor that he was sending troops to check on the status of Indians at the Black River and would consider it inappropriate for Stevens to order Volunteers to take action against these Indians. Steven's heated response was that all Indians had been ordered out of the area and that nay who remained were subject to punishment.
Animosity between Stevens and the Army did not end with the termination of the war. A prime bone of contention involved Indian leaders who had been captured or who had surrendered. Stevens insisted from the beginning that the instigators of the war would suffer.
Stevens had assumed that he and Colonel George Wright, commander of the 9th Infantry, were agreed to accept only unconditional surrender and to bring alleged murderers to trial. But after forging a truce east of the Cascades, Wright felt it would be unwise, if they wished for peace, to punish any Indians for acts committed during the war. The Governor insisted on trials even if they caused renewed Indian unrest. Casey, supporting Wright's position, met Steven's order to turn certain Indians over to him, but suggested that the better way would be to consider that they had been at war with the Indians and were now at peace.
Among the Indian leaders that Stevens especially wanted to punish was Leschi, who, while not a chief, was one of the leaders of the Nisqually Indians and was influential and universally liked. He had always maintained friendly relations with the whites and was well known to Silas Casey.
Leschi was accused of being involved in the murder of A. Benton Moses near Connell's Prairie in October, 1855. While a fugitive, Leschi offered to surrender to Casey, but Casey suggested that he hide until favorable negotiations could be made. Soon thereafter, however, Leschi's nephew betrayed him to the territorial authorities.
Captured on November 13, 1856, Leschi went on trial November 16, but because of legal maneuvering to try to free him, he was not sentenced until December, 1857. Through further legal and non legal actions the date of execution was delayed until February 19, 1858.
Most of the actions to free Leschi were carried out by Casey's officers, especially Lieutenant August V. Kautz, and had Casey's wholehearted approval. At this time Leschi was confined at Fort Steilacoom, which facilitated maneuvers to delay final action on Leschi. Casey, as commander of the post, played the principal role in these instances.
Casey exhausted all options in his effort to save Leschi. When asked by Leschi defenders simply to retain the prisoner and prevent the execution, Casey had to face up to his duty. He knew he had no right to retain the prisoner because hew as merely holding Leschi at the request of the court. To the surprise of many in the Steilacoom area Casey released Leschi to the sheriff in charge of the hanging party, but refused permission for the hanging to take place on military property.
Lieutenant Colonel Silas Casey lived the Regular Army's policy of compromise and moderation in dealing with the Indians and the settles. By resisting the Territorial Governor's urging to deal in a heavy handed manner with the Indians, he persuaded most natives west of the Cascade Mountains to refrain from open warfare.
He was often severely criticized by the white settlers, even to the point of being hanged in effigy during the delay in Leschi's conviction. But with war's end west of the mountains, the settlers soon realized that they could safely return to their land.
Casey always responded quickly with troops to the few minor Indian attacks that occurred. The Puget Sound area had been made free for all settles to live in relative harmony with the Indians.
Vasco J. Fenili, "Silas Casey, Compassionate Warrior," in John Hemphill, West Pointers and Early Washington. Seattle: West Point Society of Puget Sound, Inc. 1992, p. 135-38.
REPORT OF SILAS CASEY REGARDING LOCATIONS OF MILITARY ESTABLISHMENTS
"The war in this district has ceased, and will not be renewed unless induced by the whites. I think the Indians here have an acute appreciation of kind and just treatment.
"Inasmuch as the time has now arrived when a disposition of the troops should be made for the permanent defence and security of this Territory west of the mountains, I will indicate in a brief manner those points which, in my opinion, should be occupied. First there should be a post in this vicinity, of four companies. As regards its exact locality, in my opinion Nisqually would be the most advantageous place . A post could be there erected, within one mile of a landing on the Sound, where a wharf might be built....
"I am not prepared to say that a permanent post will be necessary at the Muckle Shute or vicinity. By keeping a good supply of land transportation at the post in this vicinity, (and especially after the roads shall have become improved), in my opinion, the necessity of a permanent post at or in the vicinity of that point will be obviated.
"It will, however, be prudent to occupy that point and the two neighbouring block-houses for some time yet; while so occupied, they can be considered as dependencies of this post.
"In the next place, I would recommend a post either at Fort Ludlow, Fort Townsend, Port Discovery, or some point in that vicinity, as further examination may determine. This post will have regard to the northern Indians who may come to the Sound for depredating purposes, as well as to the numerous tribes who inhabit between those points and the Pacific.
"The third post should be at Bellingham Bay, as near the coal mines as a good location could be found. one important condition in the location of these posts should not be overlooked; they should be at points of easy access for vessels at any time of tide, and at the same time well protected from the winds and waves ....
"In the end it will prove a great extravagance on the part of the general government to neglect in any manner the proper defence of a remote frontier like this; and one chief reason is, that if so neglected, a pretext will always be afforded to a territorial executive to incur an extravagant and unnecessary expenditure of the public money.
"Headquarters, Puget Sound District, Fort Steilacoom, W. T., July11, 1856.
Silas Casey, Lt. Colonel, 9th Infantry, Commanding Puget Sound District.
To Major W. W. Mackall, Assistant A. Gen. Dept of the Pacific, Benicia, Cal.
Report of the Secretary of War, War Department, December 1,1856."
Kent Richards, "Silas Casey," Isaac I. Stevens, Young Man in a Hurry. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1979 p. 264-66.
Not content to limit his criticisms (of Governor Isaac I. Stevens and his prosecution of the Indian War) to private correspondence, (General John) Wool took to the newspapers to condemn the settlers for beginning the war and to charge that the volunteers were raised primarily to fill the pocketbooks of war profiteers.
Governor Stevens publicly condemned Wool and called upon the Secretary of War to remove him from command. The Pioneer and Democrat echoed the governor's view when it suggested that the charitable explanation of Wool's conduct was insanity, or, less charitably, "criminal" neglect of duty.
Stevens completely rejected the general's interpretation of the causes of the war and his recommendations for further action; the governor concluded, "I am too old a soldier ... to do otherwise than to press forward with all my energies."
Stevens believed that Wool's policies could be circumvented to a considerable extent by securing the cooperation of the army commanders in the Northwest: Colonel George Wright and Colonel Edward Steptoe on the east side on the mountains and Colonel Silas Casey and Captain Erasmus Keyes on the Sound. All were West Point graduates with whom Stevens had previously developed friendly relationships.
Colonel Silas Casey had arrived at Fort Steilacoom in mid-January with two companies of the Ninth Infantry. Casey, an 1826 graduate of the Military Academy, had served with distinction in Mexico. (During the Civil War he was to write a two-volume work on infantry tactics which was officially adopted by the Union Army.) Casey had been briefed by Wool when their ships met off the Oregon coast, and he knew that he would need to be circumspect in his relationship with the governor to avoid the general's wrath.
Wool had emphasized that volunteers should be called only in an emergency-an emergency the general predicted would not occur once reinforcements from the Ninth Infantry reached the Northwest."
When Casey arrived at Fort Steilacoom, Stevens made every effort to convince the colonel that Wool's interpretation of the war was incorrect. He pleaded that the volunteers and regulars needed to cooperate, and he provided Casey with detailed memorandums on the current movements of volunteers. He also began to requisition supplies and men from the army post. Although cooperative and friendly, Casey had his own views on the proper way to conduct the Indian war. He and Keyes attempted to develop the tactics best adapted to the climate, terrain, and methods of the hostile Indians.
Casey emulated Indian strategy by sending out patrols which moved swiftly in an attempt to surprise the enemy, and if unsuccessful, they were to return immediately to the fort. Keyes, who led many of the patrols, also established small ambushes (usually three men) at points at a distance from the main body during the night.
The tactic trapped Chief Kanasket (leader of the raid on Slaughter's camp), who was mortally wounded by fire from one such ambush. His death subsequently demoralized the Klickitat tribe. On March I the regulars drove Indians from a fortified blockhouse they had occupied on the White River. It appeared to Casey and Keyes that their policy had had an effect, and by mid-March they announced that the Indian threat was virtually ended on the Sound.
In February Casey attempted to cooperate with the governor by granting some of his requests and suggestions while politely turning away others. By March, however, he had become convinced that the volunteers were draining the area of transportation and supplies which could be utilized better by the Regular Army.
On March 12 he refused Stevens' request for twenty-five tons of oats, and on the same day he told Tilton that the volunteers could not borrow arms stockpiled on the Decatur. Three days later Casey asked Stevens to turn two companies of volunteers over to the army and to remove the remainder from the field. With this force, he assured the governor, the army could "protect this frontier without the aid of those now in the service of the territory."
Stevens was shocked by Casey's temerity; the governor asserted that a disaster would occur if the volunteers abandoned their positions, and he claimed that his troops were poised to strike the "decisive blow." Stevens swore that if additional volunteers were raised they would remain under his control and not that of the army because, he claimed, the governor was the ultimate authority in any emergency."
Stevens further made his dispute with Casey a personal vendetta. He chastised the colonel for not treating a superior with proper respect and claimed to have waived personal etiquette in his desire to cooperate; he vowed that he would humble himself no longer by journeying to Fort Steilacoom to offer advice. Stevens' arguments touched a key issue in the dispute: both the governor and General Wool claimed to have the higher authority in times of emergency.
Unfortunately, the Organic Act did not define the limits of the governor's or commanding general's power. It was obvious, however, when an emergency existed, that cooperation between civilian and military authorities was essential. Both the governor and the army were at fault by assuming that one could operate without the other.
But Wool and Casey had precedent on their side when they assumed that volunteers would be under the command of the Regular Army. Stevens swept aside traditional legal procedures when he unilaterally divorced the volunteers from army operations.
Kent D. Richards, "Colonel Silas Casey," Isaac I. Stevens. Provo: BYU Press, 1979 p. 264-66.