As published in the Puyallup Valley Tribune Sept 26, 1903 to Sep 10, 1904


Many events led to the inauguration of the Indian War of 1855 and 1856 generally spoken of locally as the Leschi war. While the whites because of their limited numbers, dared make no open acts of aggression against the natives there were nevertheless occasional injustices and manner of treatment calculated to inflame the Indian mind.

It is known that for at least two years prior to the outbreak of hostilities a sort of a limited confederacy was being formed for action among the most active of the tribes north of the Columbia; but it is scarcely to be presumed that this could have spread to any considerable extent without the friendly natives having been made aware of it and revealing its leaders and its ramifications to the whites.

As a matter of fact of the seven thousand Indians estimated to reside on Puget Sound in 1853 less than three hundred are said by Evans to have taken the field of war, the rest remaining friendly.


After the legislative session of 1854-1855 had been convened by Governor Isaac I. Stevens that great executive began treaties with the Indians west of the Cascades for their lands. The Medicine Creek treaty was the first one signed having been concluded with the chiefs December 26, 1854 and was ratified by the United States Senate March 3, 1855.

According to the terms of the treaty, the Puyallup, Steilacoom, Nisqually and other bands occupying the lands lying round the head of Puget Sound and the adjacent inlets who "..for the purposes of this treaty are to be regarded as one nation", relinquished all their title to the lands and territories, occupied by them, reserving three small tracts of only two sections of land each.

They agreed to remove upon these reservations within one year after the ratification of the treaty, and until that time were at liberty to reside on any land not already claimed by a white man. No white man was to be permitted on their reservations without their permission nor were they to go upon a white man's land without his permission.


Among other interesting terms of that treaty were that should it be necessary to build a public highway across any of the reservations, such right was allowed, the right of taking fish at the usual grounds, in common with citizens was assured the native and he could erect temporary houses to cure his fish besides hunting on public lands, gathering berries and roots, and pasturing his stock. He was not permitted, however, to take shellfish from tide lands claimed by citizens.


In view of this really extraordinary relinquishment of territory, the United States agreed to pay the sum of $32,500 in decreasing annual amounts for twenty years. It also agreed to establish a general agency with an agricultural and industrial school and support this for twenty years.

Besides some help was to be extended the first year in the way of fencing and plowing tillable land. The Indians agreed to and acknowledge their dependence on the United States promising friendship with the people and agreed not to make war against them or to commit depredations on their property nor was any tribe to make war on another tribe excepting in self defense.

It is considered by authority already quoted to be a noteworthy fact that the first Indian signature to the Medicine Creek treaty was that of Quiemuth. His brother, Leschi, signed third. These men were the ruling spirits in organizing the war which commenced in the fall of 1855.

They both, says the historian, infused life into that conspiracy and held together the hostile combination on Puget Sound. They were in that war what Tecumseh and his brother, the Prophet, were in the War of 1812, on the then northwestern frontier.

Natural leaders born orators, consummate strategists, fertile in resources and of brilliant audacity, they gave strength to the malcontents and transformed a mere outbreak into a protracted war.


With this panegyric of these two great native chieftains we fully agree, but do not consider it in the least remarkable that they broke such a treaty after signing it. As soon as it dawned upon them that the ultimate result of the treaty would be to confine whole tribes upon three small tracts of two sections each it was only natural for them to revolt and to fight for something better.

As a result of the war they secured it, too, and today the increased size of the Puyallup and other reservations is a monument to their sacrifice.


Governor Stevens, in his report to the federal authorities as Indian agent comments upon the jealousies existing among the petty tribes and their fear of one another. This was everywhere noticeable in their establishing themselves near the whites. It was this jealousy which seemed to give the settlers their greatest security from an outbreak and which for a time baffled Leschi, but the genius of that great leader finally prevailed and effected the coalition by his eloquence causing the leaders of other bands to drop their private animosities and unrevenged wrongs and to unite in attempting to drive out the invading whites.


It is true that this, the Medicine Creek treaty was not the sole cause of the war, because as stated in the opening of this chapter, many events caused it; but it is given prominence here because it was one of the greatest and certainly the justest of all the reasons advanced. It clearly was the only cause that stirred up Leschi, who had always previously been one of the most steadfast friends of the whites.

But the race prejudice instilled in the savage mind by the Hudson Bay agents against the Americans or Boston Men, also was a strong determining factor in producing the war. It took many years to eradicate this feeling but in 1855 it was still strong.

The Hudson Bay people bought their furs and lived the same nomadic life among them; the Americans on the other hand took their land, made permanent settlements, cleared the forests and drove away the game that was so profitable to them.

They reasoned that their interests were clearly with the King George men and that the Boston men must be driven out. Indeed, the Clallams, Quinaults, and Quillayutes west of the Olympics who still in 1855 traded with Vancouver Island were so hostile to the Americans that it was deemed unsafe to send an agent among them.

They openly defied Governor Stevens, and as he did not have sufficient force to proceed there, recommended that they be left to their own devices until the country became settled up.

On May 26th, 1856 Governor Stevens revoked his proclamation of martial law and restored the civil authority. The same day Lieutenant Colonel Shaw was arrested on the writ of attachment issued by Judge Chenoweth. The following day his case was formally continued to the November term, and a few days later he left in command of the volunteer expedition to quell the Yakimas.


As a result of the trial of the suspects, held in prison at Camp Montgomery these men accused of treason, were released by the military and turned over to the civil authorities for further proceedings. Governor Stevens approved of this action. The suspects were later released from custody and the cases dropped, while Governor Stevens was soon afterward fined for contempt of court because forsooth, he refused to obey the writ of habeas corpus at a time when martial law prevailed.


The conflict between the governor and the judiciary aroused bitter and acrimonious comment. Men ceased to be whigs or democrats. For the time being it was Stevens or anti-Stevens. The majority of the people, including all the volunteers in the field who had smelled powder sustained the governor in this trying time and enthusiastically backed him up in his war policy.

On the other hand, many of the territorial officials, and the powerful influence of the attorneys at law, was cast in favor of the judges. As the lawyers were the orators of that day, the judges side though weakest, was heard the oftenest and some people were swayed by these harangues whose better judgement told them the governor was right.

Early in the year 1856 the people of Puget Sound were despondent and discouraged. The hostiles virtually overran the entire country from White River to the Nisqually and no man's life was safe except in the fortified blockhouses and towns. Both the regulars and volunteers had been withdrawn from field work and spent the winter at Fort Steilacoom, Camp Montgomery and Olympia.


Early in the year the first move of Lieutenant Colonel Casey who commanded the regulars was to establish a blockhouse at Muckleshoot Prairie. Making it his central position and keeping open community with Steilacoom by the blockhouse and ferry at the crossing of the Puyallup River.

On February 26th, Lieutenant Colonel Casey took the field, remaining at the Puyallup blockhouse until the morning of the 27th when he marched his force to Lemon's Prairie and encamped. It was while here that the famous Chieftain Kanaskat, one of the leading spirits of the hostiles met his death.

He was stealthily approaching the camp with the intention of killing Lieutenant Colonel Casey, as he had murdered Lieutenant Slaughter when Private Kehl, who was on guard shot him through the spine, paralyzing his lower limbs. Kanaskat was later killed by a corporal who presented the muzzle of his musket to the chieftain's head and blew out his brains.


On March 1st a battle occurred with a large party of hostiles on White River in which the latter were driven from the field. Two soldiers were killed and eight wounded including Lieutenant Kautz, in this fight.

Reinforcements were received on March 14th and the hunt for the savages renewed. Parties were detached for this purpose of finding their places of concealment and routing them out. On March 18th, an expedition was sent to Stuck Prairie, where an Indian village was attacked and several hostiles captured.

The country was soon scoured in every direction, with the result that no bands of Indians in any considerable number were found. The hostiles, from being marauders and pillagers had become fugitives. Hostilities ceased, and on May 19, Lieutenant Colonel Silas Casey reported that the war west of the Cascades ended and the country pacified.

It was after this declaration was made and after the conflict with the court that Lieutenant Colonel Shaw led the Washington volunteers across the Natchez Pass into the Yakima country where the war was finally terminated by a treaty made in the fall of 1856.


Thus the great Indian uprising of 1855-56 was brought to a close in the Puget Sound Country; but its effects and the animosities engendered by it lingered for some years. Disaffection had occurred even in the ranks of the enemy, and all the genius of Leschi was exerted in vain to hold them together and prolong the conflict.

The whites taught by experience discovered the wisdom of confronting the foe with men of their own race, and bands of friendly Indians were advantageously employed in scouting and dislodging the detached groups of hostiles who still lingered west of the Cascades.

The regulars, operating according to the fixed rules of warfare, were not permitted to assume the liberty of action accorded the volunteers; and while they performed excellent work, their measures were less marked by the exhibition of personal feeling. Wherever possible they avoided killing the foe, contenting themselves with taking prisoners and rendering them harmless by confiscating their arms.

Among the volunteers, on the contrary, a different sentiment prevailed. They had experienced in their own persons, families and property, the direct horrors of war. Their murdered relatives, ruined homes and desolated fields incited them to acts of reprisal equally bloody and relentless.

They rarely took prisoners or accepted a surrender, and if some writers of that time state the truth, gratified their vengeance by the indistinguishable destruction of old and young. It was charged that the volunteers "..acting upon the principle of extermination, killed all they could, surrounded small camps with a large force; and though in no instance was a shot returned, they nevertheless insisted upon battle."


But this picture of the settlers ferocity is doubtless overdrawn. There was unquestionably some well authenticated instances of individual cruelty and personal revenge against natives whose age and sex should have insured their protection; but that the great body of the volunteers could have abandoned every principle of civilization and given unrestrained vent to the fiercest passions of human nature is inconceivable.

They were American men, well officered and their subsequent careers in the establishment of government, the enforcement of law and the development of the Northwest should be seriously weighed before giving credence to such stories of inhumanity as soldiers.

The truth, in such cases usually lies between. Each as conscientiously working according to its own theory and in its own way to promote the general welfare, enforce the law and bestow upon the disturbed and agitated territory the happier era of peace.

During the summer of 1855 the Yakimas, Klickitats and other tribes east of the mountains went on the warpath, murdering prospectors who were stampeding to a reported gold discovery at Fort Colville, a Hudson Bay Company post on the banks of the upper Columbia River. Many men were killed. Indian Sub-agent Bolon who went to the Yakimas to investigate charges was shot, his throat cut and he was then cremated.

The news of these unprovoked outrages created considerable excitement on Puget Sound especially among the Indians. Leschi and Quiemuth had already commenced their work of forming a confederacy and Leschi, eloquently picturing the glorious triumphs of his Yakima brethren secured much moral support thereby in aid of his cause.

The third session of the legislature (1855-56) convened at Olympia on the first Monday in December. Governor Stevens being still absent at the Blackfoot council at Fort Benton. Acting Governor Mason, the secretary of the territory delivered the message at the opening of that body. In this he said:


"Since you were last assembled, important, and I regret to say disastrous changes have taken place in our social prospects. While peace and security seemed to reign about us, and every person was as usual pursuing his customary avocation, an Indian war breaks out in our midst, spreading alarm throughout the whole territory.

Families are murdered, property destroyed, claims are abandoned for the fort and the blockhouse, and the whole country instead of pursuing the usual peaceful occupation of American citizens has the appearance of desertion; and nothing but parties of armed men are to be seen in motion.

How long this state of affairs is to continue it is impossible to say, but from the energy which our citizens have shown, and the measures which have been adopted, it is earnestly to be hoped that the end is not far off."


In this message also Acting Governor Mason referred to the property of the territory in arms and ammunition. The people were in a tinderbox. On many previous occasions they had reminded the general government of the great fact that the early settlers, while laying the foundation of a commonwealth that in the future must become great, were hazarding the lives of themselves and the loved ones dependent upon them, through the negligence and failure of duty of the government, which had invited them hither under the implied pledge of protection.

But the government had refused to furnish arms and the settlers were left to shift for themselves.


Under these circumstances, with war menacing the entire border, recourse was had to Sir James Douglas, governor of the then colony of Vancouver Island. He generously responded, sending many stands of arms and ammunition and also the armed steamers Otter and Beaver to protect isolated settlers along the coast line.

The legislature joined with Acting Governor Mason in expressing grateful acknowledgment for this really noble act. It was combined civilization against the savage.

As soon as it was known or rather officially recognized that an Indian war existed measures were promptly taken for the common defense. Settlers flocked to the forts, the people of the Puyallup abandoned their homes and fleeing to Fort Steilacoom where two companies of United States Infantry comprising 152 men, were stationed.

The settlers of White River Valley fled to Seattle; but upon being assured that no war existed and there was no danger, several of them returned to their homes only to meet a horrible fate.


A company of volunteers was enrolled at Olympia in response to a proclamation of Acting Governor Mason. It elected Gilmore Hays captain and on Sunday, October 21st, marched for the Yakima country via the Natchez Pass over which a military road had been established.

Lieutenant Slaughter, with forty United States regulars, was encamped upon White River Prairie, where on the 21st he was joined by Captain Maloney with seventy-five regulars. They remained encamped there three days when the Olympia company of volunteers having come up, the expedition marched to the Natchez.

There Captain Maloney sent an express to Lieutenant Nugen, at Fort Steilacoom, stating that a heavy force of hostiles in the Yakima and alarming reports from the Puget Sound country had determined him to return to the Sound and protect the settlers. The express party consisted of six men. When near White River they were fired upon from ambush and two, Joseph Miles and A. Benton Moses were instantly killed. The rest escaped and succeeded in arriving at Steilacoom.


No sooner had the force under Captain Maloney marched out of Steilacoom for the Yakima than the Puget Sound Indians became extremely restless. They seemed to be fully acquainted with the movements of the hostile Yakimas, and to sympathize with them so entirely as to render them material assistance.

The actions of Leschi and Quimuth and their bands of disaffected Puyallups and Nisquallys prompted Acting Governor Mason to authorize Captain Charles H. Eaton to raise a company of forest rangers. He did so and took the field, forty-one strong, on October 24.


Captain Eaton was an experienced Indian campaigner, who first came to Oregon in 1843. His choice was a particularly wise selection. He was instructed to divide his company into three parties and patrol the western base of the Cascades from Snoqualmie Pass to Lewis River Pass, thus preventing communication between the Puget Sound Indians and the hostile Yakimas.

He was also told to notify every Indian found on his line of march to move westward to Puget Sound and remain there. If they refused they were to be treated as hostiles.


On October 28, 1855, Captain Eaton, receiving news that Leschi and a large party of Indians were fishing at the crossing of White River by the Military Road from Fort Steilacoom to Walla Walla granted the request of First Lieutenant James McAllister to make a friendly visit to them.

He was accompanied by Mr. Michael Connell and two friendly Indians. But long before reaching Leschi's camp they were assailed and the entire party killed by Quiemuth and a band of hostiles. This massacre was wholly unprovoked. McAllister was a Thurston County pioneer of 1844 and had long been friendly to the Indians. His mission to them was one of peace.


About an hour after Lieutenant McAllister left camp on his death journey Captain Eaton, accompanied by James W. Wiley, editor of the Olympia Pioneer and Democrat, made a scout of a slough lying ahead about three quarters of a mile which had to be passed in going to White River. Upon returning they were fired at by the hostiles, but reached the thin board shack where ten men had been left in safety.

This insecure place was at once abandoned for an Indian log house, where Captain Eaton and his small force successfully resisted the Indian attack for one hundred and one hours without losing a man. They finally escaped to Steilacoom, though with the loss of all their horses, which had been run off by the Indians when the attack commenced. The Indians admitted a loss of seven killed.

Four additional companies of volunteers were called for by Acting Governor Mason on October 22,1855. This was to be considered a reserve force and liable at any moment to be summoned into service. The call was promptly responded to, while the various settlements erected block houses and placed themselves in a position to defend themselves to the utmost.

In support of the fact that the combination among the Indians were dangerously strong was the horrible massacre of some defenseless families on White River. The details in their sickening reality are described with such fidelity by Mr. C.C. Hewitt, afterwards chief justice of the territory that we quote his letter, written November 5, 1855. Captain Hewitt commanded the Seattle company of volunteers that was ordered out to investigate. He says:


"We started Monday morning, October 29, l855, for the scene of action. After two days of hard work we made the house of Mr. Cox who we found robbed. We next went to Mr. Jones whose house had been burned to the ground; and Mr. Jones being sick at the time was burnt in it. The body of Mrs. Jones was found some thirty yards from the house, shot through the lower part of the lungs, her face and jaws horribly broken and mutilated, apparently with the head of an ax.

"The bones of Mr. Jones were found, the flesh having been roasted and eaten off by hogs. Mr. Cooper who lived with Mr. Jones was found about one hundred fifty yards from the house, shot through the lungs.

"After burying the bodies, we proceeded to the house of W. H. Brown, a mile distant. Mrs. Brown and her infant, apparently ten months old, we found in the well, the mother stabbed in the back and head and also in the lower part of the left breast; the child not dressed, but no marks of violence noticeable upon it.

"Mr. Brown was found in the house literally cut to pieces. We next went to the house of Mr. King, or to the site of it for it had been burnt to the ground. Mr. Jones and two little children were burnt in the house; and the body of Mr. King, after being roasted had been almost eaten up by hogs. Mrs. King was some thirty yards from the house. She had been shot through the heart and was horribly mutilated. Three children were saved; one the son of Mr. King and two of Mr. Jones".

Could any story be more horrible than the above brief account of what was found on White River, after the raid?


It was now realized by the authorities that some drastic measures were necessary if a general uprising of all the tribesmen was to be prevented. It was decided by Acting Governor Mason and Colonel Simmons, the Indian agent, that the best plan would be to segregate the friendly Indians from the hostiles, and thus prevent the contaminating influence of the latter among those who were still peaceably disposed.

Accordingly an order was sent out directing all friendly Indians to remove to camps on the west side of Puget Sound, the order declaring that all found on the east side of the Sound after a certain date would be considered hostile and treated as such.

It is probable that to this policy so successfully carried out, must be ascribed the checking of the Indian outbreak. It gave the limited number of troops in the field a chance to do something by letting them know who their enemies were. If this had not been done a general and disastrous war of extermination against the whites must surely have ensued and have cost a vast amount of blood and treasure to suppress.

The authorities, short of arms, were supplied to the best of their ability by the government vessels in Puget Sound, and also by Governor Douglas of the colony of Vancouver Island.


On November 3, 1855, a somewhat decisive engagement was fought on White River between fifty regulars under Lieutenant William A. Slaughter, fifty volunteers under Captain Gilmore Hays, and from one hundred fifty to two hundred Indians. The fight lasted six hours, one soldier being killed and two wounded. The Indian loss has never been exactly known but is estimated at thirty killed and twice that many wounded.


On November 6, 1855, Slaughter's company, in crossing the Puyallup River was suddenly attacked from ambush. John Edgar, who was acting as a guide, was mortally wounded and died shortly afterward. The same shot severely wounded Addision Perham.

Andrew J. Burge, a pioneer of Pierce County, was also badly wounded and on coming out at South Prairie, Corporal Magek, a regular was wounded by a buckshot. Captain Maloney then established himself at Camp Montgomery.


The volunteer force was now a regiment strong, yet was never formally organized as such, though being classed on the muster rolls as the First Regiment of Washington Territory Volunteers. Company D was the one stationed regularly on the Puyallup River where it kept up communication with Lieutenant Slaughter. It was commanded by Captain William H. Wallace. Captain Hewitt of Company H guarded the White and Green River valleys and also maintained communication with Slaughter who commanded the general field operations in this section.


November 24,1955, Saturday. Lieutenant Slaughter with Company C of the Fourth United States regulars and Company D, Captain Wallace, with forty-five Pierce County volunteers marched from Camp Montgomery for the Puyallup and White Rivers.

On the march to the Puyallup fresh tracks of Indians were discovered leading both up and down the valley. None of the natives were seen, however, but a close guard was maintained. That night they camped on Bittings Prairie, one mile distant from the Puyallup River. Nothing occurred to alarm the camp.


The next morning, Sunday, Lieutenant Samuel McCaw of Company D, Pierce County Volunteers was sent to the Stuck settlement, now Sumner, with sixteen men. They found there the homes of Messrs. Woolery, Kincaid, and McCarty burnt to the ground. The grain, excepting some taken from the barn of Mr. Morrison was not touched.

The houses that were not burnt were built of squared timber and could easily be made defensible. The house of Robert S. Moore, a lieutenant of Company D had been broken open and looted of everything it contained of value but was not burnt.


There was no signs of Indians on the march to or from or at Stuck River, but at 10:30 o'clock that night a man named Hall of Company D, on duty as sentinel at the time, heard the snorting of one of the pack horses, picketed only thirty yards from camp.

It was very foggy, however, and nothing could be seen. Hall immediately gave the alarm that the Indians were stealing the horses. A number of men rushed to the place where the animals had been left, but several were missing. Sergeants Tootwiler, of the Regulars and Byrd of Captain Wallace's company took a guard of twenty men and pursued about a mile to the house of Mr. Lemmon firing at intervals. There they found unmistakable evidence that they were near a large body of the hostiles and hurriedly retreated to camp to prevent being cut off and annihilated.


They were pursued and during the rest of the night the savages kept up a continual yelling. It was afterwards ascertained that three hundred Indians surrounded the camp. They were so close that a great deal they said was easily heard and interpreted by the pioneers who understood Chinook.

One squaw was heard repeatedly urging the warriors on the attack, but they refrained from complying. They were commanded by Kitsap and Kanaskat, who led the Klickitats, a word meaning robbers, and by Quiemuth and Klow-ow-it, who commanded the Puyallups and White River tribes.

On Monday morning, at about nine o'clock, E. G. Price a new recruit in Captain Wallace's company having cooked breakfast went down to a spring a short distance from camp to wash. Upon starting to return he was shot in the back with a musket ball. At two o'clock in the afternoon Lieutenant McKeever, United States Army arrived with a relief party of twenty-five men.

On Monday night Messrs. Lemmon, Pierce and Fosher volunteered as picket guards. About two o'clock an inside sentinel fired at but missed a prowling Indian. As he fled from camp Lemmon took a quick shot and killed him. During the whole of that night the sentries were firing at prowling foes but few shots were returned by them.

In the night attack upon Lieutenant Slaughter's and Captain Wallace's camp the savages succeeded in driving off thirty-two horses and mules, thirteen of which belonged to the volunteers. This was a serious blow and for a time sadly crippled the operations of the force until the damage could be repaired.

Captain Hays and a company soon arrived at camp, having been ordered to march to the support of Slaughter. Captain Henness' company F with twenty-five men was left in the neighborhood of the Nisqually River.

After the somewhat disastrous engagement to them on the White River the Indians had broken up into small bands, but their confidence in their own fighting powers was returning and they were concentrating again as the three hundred warriors engaged in the last battle proved.

It was necessary to again break them up and as the scouts brought in word that they were gathering in considerable numbers on White River. Slaughter marched on December 4, 1855, toward the forks of the Green and White Rivers. He encamped on Brannan's Prairie and occupied a long house. At about seven o'clock that evening Lieutenant Slaughter, Captain Hewitt, Lieutenant Harrison and Dr. Taylor, of the Navy Department, were engaged in conversation near the door.


While they were discussing the plans of the morrow a band of hostiles under the command of Kanaskat, fired a volley at the house, several bullets passing through the thin door. One ball pierced the breast of the brave and gallant Slaughter and he fell without a groan, expiring instantly.

The fight was continued for over three hours, Corporal Barry of Company C, Fourth Infantry and Corporal Clarendon of Company D. Washington Territory Volunteers being killed and six more of the defenders being severely wounded. One was so badly hurt that he died in a day or two. The Indian loss was never known.


The death of Slaughter was an almost irreparable loss. He was remarkably successful and a brave high minded gentleman. He was a native of Kentucky and graduated from West Point in 1848. Though small in frame his powers of endurance were wonderful. He was the soul of the army operating in the Puyallup, White and Stuck valleys and so grateful were the settlers to the memory of this gallant man that a town was named for him but this was afterward changed to Auburn to secure greater euphony of title.

A county was also named for him but this also was later changed to Kitsap, thus honoring one of the leading chiefs, and big medicine men in the hostile forces. Kanaskat, who killed Slaughter has a station named for him near Palmer on the Northern Pacific.

But the name of Slaughter is embalmed in the heart of every true patriot in the Puget Sound country, which he defended so heroically and gave his life to preserve. He needs no better monument.


Owing to the lateness of the season, rending the rivers practically unfordable because of the heavy rains and as charged by a historian, because of the success of the Indians in the last attack, the regulars were withdrawn from the field and ordered to Steilacoom.

January 19, 1856 Governor Stevens reached Olympia from Fort Benton after an exciting journey through l,000 miles of hostile country. The territorial legislature was then in session and he reviewed at length the Indian policy, declaring that many of the volunteers called out by Acting Governor Mason, had been treated with bad faith in having been disbanded in open violation of positive understanding.

He thought they should act independently of the regulars and not be mustered into the service of the United States. He accordingly issued a proclamation calling for six companies of additional volunteers.


On January 26, 1856 the town of Seattle was attacked by a large band of hostiles. The fight commenced at 8:30 o'clock in the morning and continued incessantly all day. Two white men were killed. In the harbor at the time was the United States ship Decatur, which rendered valuable assistance in the defense of the place by shelling the posts of the enemy.

One shell thrown struck a house in the outskirts of Seattle, killing five Indians. The total number of Indians killed in this fight could never be ascertained. A company of volunteers was at once raised in Seattle with the Honorable Edward Lander, chief justice of the territory as captain.

Outside of Seattle all King County was devastated nearly every house being burned to the ground excepting a few on Alki Point. The manner of the attack on the town and the boldness displayed by the hostiles indicated that they were sure of gaining the war and eventually driving out the whites.


Patkanim, with fifty-five friendly Indians of the Snohomish and Snoqualmie tribes, took the field February 4, 1856, to operate against the hostiles on the White, Green and Puyallup Rivers. February 8th, while scouting within five miles of Snoqualmie Falls, Patkanim heard of an Indian camp just below the beautiful cataract.

He surrounded and captured the entire camp, numbering seventeen men, without firing a shot. Three of the captives were Klickitats and the rest belonged to Patkanim's own tribe. He spared the latter, but promptly hanged and beheaded two of the Klickitats, the other one turning informer and agreeing to conduct his captors to Leschi's camp, so that the capture or death of that famous chieftain could be effected. He further said the hostiles had been divided by Leschi into four camps, all near each other and just above the crossing of the military road.


On the night of February 15, 1856, Patkanim arrived at Leschi's camp at the forks of a small stream flowing into the White River. A surprise was intended but the barking of dogs gave the alarm, something like, in ancient times the cries of the geese saved Rome.

The chiefs held a colloquy, but could come to no terms, and in the morning Patkanim commenced the attack. Leschi's party occupied a log house, but after a desperate conflict abandoned it preferring to fight Indian fashion and not be cooped up. The accounts give Leschi's loss at eight without mentioning Patkanim's loss though the fact remains that only two heads were secured as trophies and Patkanim retreated from the field to await ammunition and supplies.

And this raises a query: Where did the hostiles get all their ammunition in this protracted war? According to the authorities they seem to have been constantly and plentifully supplied.


Up to this time the war had been confined west of the mountains, to Pierce and King Countys and almost entirely to the Puyallup, White and Green and Stuck River valleys. But now it was changed being transferred to the Nisqually country where the hostiles were commanded by Quiemuth and Ste-hi. The murder of several settlers followed the outbreak in the section.

It was soon after Governor Stevens' return and after the theater of the war had been transferred from the Puyallup to the Nisqually Valley that a number of squawmen fell under suspicion of giving aid and information to the enemy. These squawmen were in nearly all cases discharged employees of the Hudson's Bay Company and the post of that company at Fort Nisqually was their chief trading point.

The very circumstances that they were permitted to dwell in peace among the hostiles, when it was impossible for an American to pass in safety, lent corroborative proof to the belief that these ex-Hudson Bay men were in league with the savages, supplying them with ammunition and keeping them posted regarding the movements of the territorial forces.


Governor Stevens accustomed to act with soldierly promptness, immediately ordered these suspects into Steilacoom and Fort Nisqually where their actions could be watched. They were likewise informed that if they returned to their claims they would be regarded as enemies and so treated.

Captain Maxon was directed to keep watch upon their cabins and to see that the governor's order was obeyed to the letter.

For this act Governor Stevens was severely censured in some quarters as it was claimed that he had no authority to compel white men to remain at any particular place unless they had first been convicted of some crime and that in this instance he prejudged men without a hearing or their being given any chance to defend themselves against the accusations made. The governor's reply was that the state of the war and the public safety required drastic measures.


On April 2, 1856, Governor Stevens issued a proclamation declaring the county of Pierce under martial law. A copy of the proclamation was enclosed to Colonel Silas Casey, in command of the United States regulars at Fort Steilacoom. The accompanying letter asserted that the design of the proclamation was to prevent the release, by habeas corpus or otherwise of certain prisoner suspects who were in Casey's custody.

That night the governor was notified that William H. Wallace and Frank Clark had been retained by the prisoners to defend them and that these lawyers had gone to Whidbey Island to secure a writ of habeas corpus from Judge Francis A. Chenoweth of the Third Judicial District.

The next day, April 3, 1856, Colonel Casey requested to be relieved of the charge of the prisoners and expressed doubt whether the proclamation of martial law would relieve him of the necessity of obeying a writ of habeas corpus. Governor Stevens at once published his proclamation under the date of April 3rd.


In the preamble to the proclamation it is asserted that " the prosecution of the Indian war, circumstances have existed affording such grave cause of suspicion, that certain evil disposed persons of Pierce County have given aid and comfort to the enemy that they have been placed under arrest and ordered to be tried by a military commission and that efforts are now being made to withdraw by civil process these persons from the purview of the said commission."

It then declared martial law over the county of Pierce and suspended the functions of all civil officers in the county.


Martial law was still in force on the 5th of May, the time fixed by law for the holding of the district court of Pierce County. Judge Chenoweth was ill at the time and requested Edward Lander, Chief Justice of the territory, to hold court for him. Judge Lander complied but adjourned court the first day in order, as he said, to give the governor a chance to withdraw his proclamation. This the governor very promptly declined to do and on the 7th, Judge Lander re-opened court in defiance of the proclamation. A few minutes thereafter he was forcibly ejected from the bench by the territorial volunteers under command of Lieutenant Colonel Shaw and the judge and clerk together with the records were removed to Olympia. The judge was released on May 9th and his clerk, John M. Chapman the following day.


On May 12, 1856, the district court in Thurston County, Judge Lander's district, began. An application was made for a writ of habeas corpus by three of the suspects held as prisoners by the governor. It was issued and made returnable May 14th; but in the meantime the governor proclaimed martial law over Thurston County, and on the morning of May 13, 1856, a company of volunteers rode into town and planted a cannon in front of the courthouse.

While they maintained guard, the prisoners who had applied for the writ were hustled out of Thurston County to Camp Montgomery in Pierce County.


Meantime Judge Lander like Ali Pasha, continued to hold court and as the governor did not appear to answer the writ on the 14th his honor directed a writ of attachment to be issued for the governor's person. This was made returnable the following day.

The marshal charged with its service was resisted and by way of retaliation Judge Lander and his clerk were placed under arrest by a company of volunteers commanded by Captain Miller. The clerk was not detained, but Judge Lander, refusing to suspend court during the period of martial law, was sent as a prisoner to Camp Montgomery and kept in confinement until May 26, 1856.


On May 23rd Judge Chenoweth, having recovered from his illness opened court at Steilacoom and speedily granted two writs of habeas corpus, directed to Lieutenant Shaw. One required him to produce the body of Judge Lander and the other ordered him to deliver up to the court the three prisoners who had first applied for a writ. These were made returnable May 24, 1856.

Anticipating an attack by volunteers, Judge Chenoweth swore a large number of armed bailiffs to protect the court. He also requested aid from Colonel Casey of the regulars. That officer declined to furnish it, but visited the commander of the volunteers with the avowed intention, if he could not persuade that officer to disobey his orders to address the volunteers himself.

This conduct, unsoldierly and almost incomprehensible as it was, has nevertheless been lauded to the skies by all the historians whose volumes have been consulted, the explanation being that most of the historians were lawyers who naturally leaned toward the judges side of the controversy.


Lieutenant Curtis, in command of the volunteers refused to interfere and court proceeded undisturbed. For this the lieutenant ought to have been court martialed and shot for disobedience of orders, but the fault was glossed over and nothing was ever done about it.


The war was over. Peace reigned from the shores of the Pacific to the friendly tribe of Nez Perces, but a considerable force of regulars and volunteers still kept to the field. West of the mountains as narrated in the last chapter, the scattered bands were speedily subdued.

Old Lu-haldo and his son, Ski-ki, two noted leaders, were killed while Sluggia, a Benedict Arnold of his people, was taken prisoner to Steilacoom to later betray the chieftain who had been the soul and guiding spirit of the revolt.

East of the Cascades whither Leschi and Quimeuth escaped, the war lasted some months longer. The Oregon volunteers serving near Walla Walla had become embroiled with Pue-pue-mox-mox and his tribe. They entrenched themselves in camp and were later saved from starvation by the timely arrival of supplies.

This force afterwards crossed the Snake River, but meeting with no enemy that would engage them, returned to The Dalles, having lost several lives and a number of horses.


Colonel Wright, in command of the regulars led an expedition into the Yakima country and confronted a large force of the enemy near the Natchez Pass. Before a somewhat doubtful contest of arms was resorted to, however, the Indians sent in a delegation and made overtures of peace.

Colonel Wright accepted these, being convinced that a refusal would indefinitely prolong the war, cost many valuable lives and finally result in no greater advantages than were to be had at the time. For this treaty Colonel Wright was bitterly censured by the territorial authorities but his conduct was approved and defended by the United States forces and this dispute added fuel to the controversy that raged between the factions.


And now we come to the closing scene of the great Indian War, and must narrate a series of events that cast a blot upon the escutcheon of the Territory of Washington; the single blot that mars its beauty.

They are events the author of this work would fain suppress, did not his fidelity to the plan of this history require the impartial and truthful statement of every fact germane to the subject.

Other historians have suppressed them, or glossed them over in a general and obscure statement; but we believe that concerning the wanton, brutal and unjustified murder of Leschi, the present and future generations should be placed in possession of every detail obtainable at this late day.

This murder was the result of treachery, perjury and bad faith. It was in direct violation of a sacred pledge. No argument however specious can excuse this barbarous act of the territorial authorities; the only palliation that can be offered for them being the excited state of the public mind and the general demand that some prominent victim should be sacrificed to appease the names of the whites killed during the war.


In preparing this portion of the history we have examined with care every document relating thereto, including the statements of men who lived at that time and to a greater or less extent participated in the events.

Among these authorities are copies of the Truth Teller, a journal printed at Steilacoom in 1858, copies of which are now possessed by Edward Huggins of old Fort Nisqually; copies of the Pioneer and Democrat of Olympia; the messages and letters of Governors Stevens and McMullin; letters of United States Army officers then stationed at Fort Steilacoom; letters of Dr. William F. Tolmie, factor of the Hudson's Bay company, of attorney Frank Clark and Sheriff Williams of Pierce County; also the accusation of murder and general testimony adduced at the trial wherein Leschi was convicted.

We understand that Ezra Meeker now has a book in press on the subject of Leschi's tragic end, but this has not yet been issued, hence its contents are not available for purposes of reference.


The name of Leschi has frequently been mentioned in previous chapters of this history, and is familiar to every reader of northwestern literature. We believe it best at this point to insert a brief sketch of his life before proceeding with the events that followed his surrender so as to observe a proper chronological balance.

Leschi was born about the year 1816. His father was a Nisqually and his mother a Klickitat. Together with his brother Quiemuth who was ten years his senior the future chieftain grew up among the Nisquallies, although nearly every summer he made prolonged visits to his mother's tribe of the Klickitats east of the mountains and also to the Yakimas of whom the Klickitats were a kind of freebooting diversion. He always wintered, however, in the Sound country.

When Fort Nisqually was built in 1833 Leschi and his brother soon demonstrated their sense of justice, and their friendship for the whites in many ways; on several occasions rendering valuable assistance in repressing thefts of horses and cattle on the part of other Indians.

When Dr. Tolmie reached the fort in 1843 he speedily became acquainted with Leschi, whom he described as a well disposed peaceable Indian, of superior ability, respected by his tribe and often referred to as an arbitrator in their disputes. In 1849 when the Snoqualmich tribe attacked the fort, Colonel Michael T. Simmons the Tumwater pioneer, attests to the fact that both leschi and Quiemuth volunteered in its defense.


The two brothers resided most of the time on Muck Creek, near what was known in the fifties as Gravell's ranch. There they were mainly employed in farming and hunting, but in the winter season were often dependent upon salmon, the staple Indian article of food.

In 1853 Quiemuth was appointed chief of the Nisquallies by the Indian department but after the Medicine creek treaty was signed both Indians became obnoxious to the territorial authorities at Olympia because of their known opposition to that agreement, so fatal to their tribe.

In fact, it is claimed by some pioneers that neither one of them signed that document, their names thereon being declared to be palpable forgeries. At the conference it is known that Leschi eloquently and vehemently protested against accepting the reservation appointed for his tribe at Steilseilootzin, on Nisqually bay.


But all was not peaceful among the Nisquallies themselves. Some of the pure-bred Nisquallies were exceedingly jealous of the power and influence of the two brothers who were termed half-breed Klickitats. These enemies circulated a number of malicious stories of their movements, repeated them to the whites at Olympia and Steilacoom, and brought the brothers under the suspicion of fomenting war.

To some extent these reports were true, because Leschi was bitterly opposed to the treaty and with powerful eloquence urged a coalition of the tribes to secure better and more extensive reservations. He still remained friendly to the whites, however, and advocated peaceable measures for a redress of grievances.

Had it not been for the malevolence of his enemies, who feared him, an accommodation with Leschi could doubtless have been readily arranged.


While still perplexed as to what course he should pursue, Leschi visited Fort Nisqually one Sunday in July, 1855, and had a long conversation with Dr. Tolmie and Mr. Edward Huggins. He complained that he was kept in continual apprehension and uneasiness on account of reports brought to him by Indians from Olympia of the intention of officials there to incarcerate and perhaps hang him.

Leschi and a companion then talked with great earnestness of the unsuitableness of the reservation intended for them and a passing Indian approaching to listen, they reproached him in bitter terms for having failed at Medicine Creek to support their protest


Dr. Tolmie reminded Leschi of the lying propensities of many of the Indians and added that knowing himself to be innocent of any offense against the lives or property of the whites, it would be a wise thing to go to Olympia and talk without fear to Acting Governor Mason.

In common with all the Sound Indians, however, Leschi imagined that the buying of their lands was but a prelude to shipping them to some dark and sunless country. Intelligent as he was, he could not be entirely convinced of the absurdity of this notion, and therefore feared to place himself unreservedly in the power of the whites.


During the summer of 1855 Dr. Tolmie saw much of Leschi, and noticed that the reports from Olympia still gave him considerable concern. In September the doctor had a conference with Acting Governor Mason, in which he pointed out that Leschi was an Indian of superior ability, whose influence would be very useful to the whites if he were with them, or formidable if he joined the hostiles.

The acting governor, still hearing evil reports of this chief exacted a promise that he and his brother Quiemuth would move with their families to Olympia and to intimate his desires a little more plainly sent Captain Eaton's company of rangers to escort them. But Leschi heard of this and fled with his brother during the night. When the troops arrived the next day the lodges were empty, the families having concealed themselves in the forest nearby.

Leschi's flight was taken as an evidence of his hostile intent, but such a judgment is hasty in view of all the facts. He later declared and others also affirmed, that his purpose was to cross the range and join his relatives among the Yakimas and Klickitats. When the Green River was reached, however, war had already been declared and both chiefs cast in their lot with their people.

Having decided upon hostilities, Leschi was not the man to follow others. A natural leader, he took the initiative and skillfully directed the operations of the allied tribesmen, settled their ancient animosities and welded them into a compact fighting force that required the best military talent in the Northwest to overcome.

He was continually travelling from camp to camp encouraging those who faltered and with his remarkable eloquence winning new recruits.

But while Leschi was the soul, the gifted leader of his people in war his was also the one restraining influence that prevented the perpetuation of many barbarities. When he was absent, the tack of war was marked by burning homes and slaughtered women and children, but all the evidence tends to show that Leschi exhorted his people to fight only those who bore arms against them and to leave non-combatants alone or be content with taking them prisoners.

His brother, Quiemuth, was a much more implacable and savage chief, equalling in his cruelties the ferocity displayed by Kanaskat, Kitsap, Lu-haldo, and Ski-ki toward the unfortunate whites who fell into their power. Many instances were related by the Indians themselves after the war, of how Leschi interposed successfully with Kanaskat and other chiefs to save white men who had been doomed to slaughter.

On one occasion while Kanaskat and Kitsap were absent attacking the town of Seattle, Leschi sent to Fort Steilacoom a captive white boy whose life with the Indians was in constant danger. It was for acts of humanity like this, and because of his severe discipline, that the great chief of the Nisquallies secured the hatred of Sluggia and others who seceded from the main body in February, 1856.

These malcontents repaired to the Upper Nisqually valley and committed many depredations Sluggia later being used as the instrument to entice Leschi into the snare of death.