Bannock, Snake and Paiute War of 1878
May 1878 - January 1879
Umatilla County, Oregon
The Bannock tribe declared war on the white settlers in May 1878. Hostilities began in southern Idaho where the Bannocks battled cattlemen and other white settlers settling on the Big Camas prairie, part of the tribe's treaty reservation. Two hundred warriors, led by Buffalo Horn, moved across the prairie toward the Snake River, raiding settlements as they went. Pursued by federal troops, they crossed into Oregon and joined with the Paiutes and other Indian tribes, numbers 2,000 in all.
Buffalo Horn was a celebrated warrior, who had the year before aided the government against Chief Joseph and his band of hostile Nez Perce. His reward for such services was not in keeping with his estimate of their value and importance. He saw Chief Joseph honored and made the recipient of presents and flattering attention, while the great Buffalo Horn was practically ignored. His philosophical mind at once led him to the conclusion that more favors could be gained from the government by hostility than in fighting its battles.
Some settlers believed there was a grand combination of tribes in Oregon and Washington, which was defeated and prevented from organizing by the energy of soldiers and volunteers. Smohalla, the Dreamer, had been prophesying that thousands of dead warriors were going to rise from their graves and aid in driving the whites out of the country. This idea was not original with him. It had been frequently used in previous years by the Medicine Men of various tribes, to incite them to hostilities. The time appointed for the great uprising of dead braves had come and gone and not a grave had opened. Like the Millerites in their days set for an end of the world, the Medicine Men ascribed the failures to a mistake in calculation and not in theory. Smohalla, during the previous winter, held many "seances," became entranced, saw visions, conversed with the dead, and reported results to the living as do white spiritualists, each time proclaiming the great and near resurrection of ghostly warriors to fight in the ranks of the Indian army. Runners were sent throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Nevada by this Dreamer, to prepare tribes for the great Indian millennium. These tribes were the Paiutes, Bannock, Snake, Umatilla, Cayuse, Walla Walla, Warm Spring, Yakima and Chief Moses' large band of Colville, Columbia, Spokane and Pend d'Oreille. How much faith was placed in Smohalla and his dreams was unknown, but an out-break was looked for by those who had taken note of the passage from place to place of Indian messengers. They expected Chief Moses, who was known to have hostile feelings and whose followers were under direct influence of Smohalla, to begin the war. The outbreak by Bannocks was a surprise to them. It was learned the plan was to begin hostilities there, sweep north to Umatilla Reservation, cross the Columbia to Yakima, and thence, having been joined by confederate bands as they passed along, to unite with Chief Moses and carry on a protracted war, with his country as a base of operations and British Columbia as a final harbor of refuge.
Knowledge of the outbreak rapidly spread. Troops were sent from Vancouver, Walla Walla, Lapwai and other points, with General O. O. Howard directing the operations in person. Several battles were fought, one in which Buffalo Horn was killed. The hostiles were joined by a large number of Snakes as well as a large band of Paiutes led by their war chief Egan. There numbers swelled from approximately 500 warriors, women and children to 2,000. Having been driven into the Blue Mountains, the hostiles moved north towards the Umatilla Reservation. On the north fork of John Day River were many Indians from the reservation, Columbia River and Warm Spring. They were there ostensibly to fish and hunt and had their families with them, though many whites believed their object was to hold a conference with the hostiles. As soon as the agent, Maj. N. A. Cornoyer, learned the Bannocks were coming, he mounted his horse and hastened to John Day River, to collect the scattered Indians and return them to the reservation. Upon reaching Camas Prairie he met large numbers of Indian women hurrying home who told him the men were fighting on John Day River. He sent a courier to Pendleton with that information and continued on. Soon more Indians were encountered who informed him that Umapine and a few others were holding the intruders in check. A little further on, Umapine himself was encountered with his small band of followers. No fighting took place although Indians had been in plain view on the opposite side of the river. These Indians were remaining in the rear to guard the retreat of women and children. Instructing them to return home as soon as possible Major Cornoyer hastened back to Pendleton. The false report that reservation Indians were fighting the enemy on John Day River had been spread in all directions and telegraphed abroad.
Widespread panic was evident among the whites. On
horseback, in wagons, and on foot the settlers hastened to the nearest town for
protection. Pendleton, Heppner, Umatilla, Wallula, Weston, Milton and Walla Walla
were crowded with refugees. Homes were abandoned so hastily that neither provisions
nor extra clothing were provided. All settlements within reach of a warning were
deserted in a day. Cattle and sheep men in the mountains were in a precarious
situation with many of them killed before they could reach places of safety. Major
Cornoyer gathered in as many Indians as possible, including approximately 2000 Columbia
Rivers and Warm Springs, the loyalty of many of whom was seriously doubted. The
citizens and refugees in Pendleton made extensive preparations for defense. They dug
a trench inside the courthouse fence, and banked dirt up against the boards, making a good
fortification in the center of town. The mill was reserved as a harbor of refuge for
women and children. A line of pickets was posted to guard all approaches, and full
preparations were made to defend the place in event of an attack. At Umatilla
similar precautions were taken. J. H. Kunzie was appointed Assistant Adjutant General by
Gov. S. F. Chadwick, who had made it his headquarters. That location was selected
because it had the nearest telegraph office and because supplies for troops and volunteers
landed there. Volunteers were organized and armed by Mr. Kunzie and the town was
closely guarded. The stone warehouse of J. R. Foster & Co. was fitted up as a
fort in which a final stand could be made in case of an attack. Umatilla was
considered as especially exposed as it was near this place the Indians were expected to
make an attempt to cross the river. In a warehouse crowded with women and children
the carless handling of a needle gun resulted in it being discharged with a ball lodging
in the left leg of the fourteen year old daughter of Capt. Cyrus Smith. She was
taken to Walla Walla where the leg was amputated below the knee. Similar
preparations for defense were made at Heppner, Weston, Milton and other locations where
refugees had gathered.
Upon return of Major Cornoyer to Pendleton on the second of July and confirming the news that hostiles were on John Day River, a volunteer company was organized which started for the scene of action the next morning. At Pilot Rock they were joined by recruits with a company then numbering about thirty men under the command of Captain Wilson. They camped that night in Camas Prairie. On the morning of the fourth they had proceeded but a short distance when an Indian scout was discovered. A long chase began in which he was overtaken and killed. They soon after encountered a large body of Indians and were compelled to retreat with one man wounded. They were pursued ten miles with several of them losing their horses and making their escape on foot. The latter were erroneously reported killed by those who reached Pendleton first. As soon as the intelligence that Indians were in Camas Prairie, and some of their number as well as some sheep herders had been killed, another company was organized by Sheriff J. L. Sperry, and started on the fifth for the front, with a company from Weston under Dr. W. W. Oglesby and another under M. Kirk. At Pilot Rock they received recruits, and were then consolidated into one command.
The company was organized as follows: Captain, J. L. Sperry; Lieutenants, M. Kirk, William M. Blakely; Sergeants, William Lamar, T. S. Furgerson, J. C. Coleman, William Ellis, R. Eastland; Privates, W. W. Oglesby, T. C. McKay, George Bishop, S. L. Lansdon, Andrew Sullivan, A. Scott, A. Acton, C. R. Henderson, B. E. Daugherty, J. H. Wilson, H. Rockfellow, B. L. Manning, F. D. Furgerson, M. P. Gerking, C. P. Woodward, F. Hannah, S. I. Gerking, G. W. Titsworth, S. W. Smith, J. M. Stone, H. H. Howell, W. M. Metzger, W. P. Grubb, W. L. Donalson, J. L. Smith, S. Rothchild, R. F. Warren, J. W. Saulsbury, H. A. Saulsbury, Harrison Hale, L. Blanchard, J. B. Perkins, A. Crisfield, B. F. Ogle, C. C. Townsend, J. Frazier, W. R. Reed, Thomas Ogle, Joseph Ogle, Doc. Odeer, Waller Harrison, George Graves, P. J. Ryan, A. R. Kellogg.
On the morning of the sixth they left Pilot Rock for Camas Prairie. General Howard had followed so closely upon the trail of the retreating savages that he had forced them out of Camas Prairie and when the volunteers were taking their dinner at Willow Springs firing and yelling announced the presence of the enemy who were driving in the pickets and making a close race with them for camp. At the first alarm thirteen men mounted their horses and departed in haste. The others tied their animals in a sheep corral and took shelter in a small shed. A sharp fight was maintained all the afternoon, William Lamar being killed, and S. L. Lansdon, A. Crisfield, S. Rothchild, G. W. Titsworth, C. R. Henderson, Frank Hannah, Jacob Frazier, J. W. Saulsbury, and H. H. Howell, wounded, Saulsbury twice and Hannah seven times. The Indians kept well under cover firing from long range. Any losses they may have sustained could not be determined. Towards evening they turned their attention to shooting the horses and at dark ceased firing and apparently withdrew. A meeting was held in which it was decided to retreat on foot. The wounded which could ride were placed on the few surviving horses and the others were put in a light spring wagon that had been brought along to carry provisions. The men were instructed to fall prostrate the instant a gun was fired, a precaution that saved them from annihilation. They had gone but a few hundred yards when the flash of a gun caused them to throw themselves upon the ground just in time to escape a volley of bullets. Harrison Hall was was shot and killed. The volley was returned with the Indians retreating after firing a few scattering shots. The companies retreat began at midnight and before daylight they were attacked four times, having made but six miles with the loss of one man.
When Sperry's company left Pendleton, Major Throckmorton had arrived from Walla Walla, and was joined the next day by troops from Lapwia, amounting in all to 150 men. The men who had fled from Willow Springs brought news of the precarious condition of their comrades, and Major Throckmorton instantly started to their relief. The retreating band of volunteers met the troops soon after day break about four miles from Pilot Rock. It was reported their blue coats were a welcome sight to the weary men.
That day, Sunday, the seventh of July, the commands of General Howard and Major Throckmorton were united at Pilot Rock. Scouts reported the Indian camp to be at the head of Butter and Birch creeks. Early the following morning Howard started his advance upon the Indian camp. The command moved in two columns, two companies of artillery, one of infantry and a few volunteers under Throckmorton: seven companies of Calvary and twenty of Robbins' scouts under Captain Bernard, accompanied by Howard in person. The Indians were encountered and driven with considerable loss from three strong positions and finally fled in the direction of Grand Ronde valley. Five men were wounded and twenty horses killed. The men and animals were so exhausted by their exertions in climbing rocky ridges that pursuit was discontinued after the hostiles had been driven five miles into the mountains. Their retreat left much abandoned ammunition and camp material with 300 horses captured.
Meanwhile, events were happening along the Columbia. Mr. Kunzie had advised Governors Chadwick and Ferry as well as military authorities to guard the Columbia as he was of the opinion that the hostiles planned crossing to the Yakima country. Governor Ferry hastened to Walla Walla on the seventh and raised a company of forty volunteers under Capt. W. C. Painter, who proceeded to Wallula and embarked the next morning on the steamer Spokane under command of Major Kress. Captain Wilkinson had the Northwest with twelve soldiers and twenty volunteers. These boats, armed with howitzers and Gattling guns patrolled the river. This was the same day that Howard drove them back into the mountains thus preventing their crossing the river. There were several hundred Indians who had never lived on the reservation, and were considered non-treaty Indians. They belonged chiefly to the Umatilla and Walla Walla tribes which lived in the vicinity of Wallula and Umatilla and were known as Columbia River Indians. When Major Cornoyer gathered in the scattered bands many of these refused to go and were looked upon as sympathizing with the hostiles and had had plans to join them. On the morning of the day Howard had his fight on Butter and Birch creeks a number of these attempted to cross the river with a quantity of stock. They were intercepted at three points by the Spokane and being fired into several Indians and a few horses were wounded or killed. All canoes from Celilo to Wallula were destroyed. Captain Wilkinson, on the Northwest, fired into a small party in the act of crossing a few miles above Umatilla. Two braves and a squaw were killed and the others upset their canoes and got under them for protection then swam ashore and escaped. A squaw with two babies was compelled to leave one of them on the bank. When intelligence of these acts reached the reservation, those Columbias who had gone there with the agent became very restless and wanted to leave. The Cayuse chiefs told them they should not go and a fight was nearly ensued the the result was they remained on the reservation.
Up to this time fears had been entertained that the Umatilla, and possibly Cayuse, would join the outbreak and it was supposed that a few of the former had already done so. There was considerable doubt whether the Cayuse and Walla Walla entertained such an idea but as to the Umatilla and Columbia the doubt was not as strong. Had circumstances been more favorable many would probably have linked their fortunes with the war movement. The death of Hon. C. L. Jewell was ascribed to Columbia by many. He had a large band of sheep in Camas Prairie and went there with Mr. Morrisey to look after them. They encountered a number of Indians but succeeded in eluding them and reaching the herders' cabin in safety. Leaving Mr. Morrisey there he returned to Pendleton to secure arms for his men who had decided to remain and defend themselves. On the morning of the fifth he left Pendleton with several needle guns contrary to the advice of many friends. He was expected at the hut that night, but did not arrive. On the eighth Mr. Morrisey started out to see if he could be found. Near Nelson's he met Captain Frank Maddock with a company of volunteers from Heppner who informed him that two men had been killed there. A search revealed the bodies of Mr. Nelson and N. Scully. Mr. Morrisey then went around Nelson's house. He saw a piece of shake sticking up in the road upon which was written the information that Jewell was lying wounded in the brush. Morrisey called out "Charley" and received a faint response. The injured man was found with a severe wound in the left side and his left arm broken. When Mr. Jewell had approached Nelson's place on the night of the fifth he had been fired upon and fell from his horse but while the Indians were killing those at the house he had crawled into the bushes. In the morning he worked his way out to the road wrote his notice on the shake and crawled back again. For three days he lay there without food and unable to help himself. He was transported to Pendleton but died the following Friday.
After the battle of the eighth General Howard kept his scouts busy watching movements of the Indians. He became satisfied they were working towards the mouth of Grand Ronde with the intention of crossing the Snake river near that point and decided to pass around the mountains and head them off. He dispatched the cavalry under Bernard by way of Walla Walla and Lewiston while he and his staff with 125 men took a steamer at Wallula as the speediest means of reaching the mouth of Grand Ronde. Colonel Miles was left in the mountains with 150 infantry and one company of cavalry to follow the trail of the hostiles as rapidly as possible. This left Umatilla County and the reservation comparatively defenseless. He was remonstrated with in vain by Major Cornoyer, Governor Chadwick and others who felt convinced that it was not yet the intention of the enemy to leave the vicinity of the reservation. They were satisfied that Egan still hoped to induce Cayuses to join him and the departure of troops would be equivalent to an invitation to him to come down and occupy the reservation. The infantry in the mountains, with their instructions to follow the trail, would be no protection whatever. Hostiles were known to be in the mountains near by because Major Cornoyer kept Cayuse scouts constantly watching their movements. Their scouts could be seen on the mountains back of the agency when the troops left, however, Howard was convinced of the correctness of his judgment and refused to change his plans. If he had left a sufficient force of cavalry to guard the reservation and drive the Indians back his plan of heading them off on the other side might have worked.
On the afternoon of the twelfth, the day Howard and the cavalry left, hostiles came out of the mountains in force and camped on Cottonwood creek eight miles above the agency. A messenger was dispatched to intercept the Northwest and inform Howard of the situation. Just below the mouth of Snake River he overtook the boat and delivered his letter from Governor Chadwick. Howard said that in his opinion the action of the hostiles was only a ruse to draw him back and continued up the river. Another courier to General Frank Wheaton at Walla Walla produced a better result. That officer took upon himself the responsibility of sending a messenger after Bernard's cavalry, then some miles beyond that place, with orders to return immediately to Walla Walla where Colonel Forsythe assumed command.
Meanwhile confusion reigned at Pendleton and the agency. The Citizens were suspicious of the reservation Indians fearing they intended to unite with the hostiles. Consequently, volunteers would not go to the agency to defend it. Forty families of Columbias slipped out and went to the enemy's camp, and a few young Umatillas started off without permission probably with a similar intention. Two of these saw George Coggan, Fred Foster and Al Bunker coming down from Cayuse station on a course that took them in dangerous proximity to the hostiles. They rode towards the men with intention of warning them [so they said afterwards,] at the same time a third Indian rode up from another direction. The men had seen some deserted wagons a few miles back, where Olney J. P. McCoy, Charles McLaughlin, Thomas Smith and James Myers had been killed. They had also passed the band of Columbias on their way to the hostile camp. When they saw Indians dashing towards them from different directions they supposed them to be the ones they had passed and concluding that their time had come began firing at them. The Umatillas suddenly changed their pacific intentions and commenced shooting. Coggan was killed and Bunker wounded. Foster, who had every reason to suppose that he was assailed by at least a score of savages, took the wounded man upon his horse and carried him two miles when Bunker could go no further. Foster was then compelled to leave him and hasten to Pendleton where his arrival created a panic. Besides killing the teamsters the Indians burned Cayuse Station that day.
Through all the danger and trouble Major Cornoyer had stayed on the reservation. The only employee remaining with him was John McBean the interpreter. To have deserted the Indians then would have been to invite them to join the war party. When Egan pitched his camp on Cottonwood Cayuse chiefs told Cornoyer that they knew the agency would be attacked at daylight the next morning and those who did not join the assailants would be killed. They said if he would stay with them they would fight until they were all dead. They wanted him to go to Pendleton and get a few volunteers as their young braves would fight better if they had white men with them. After picking out a place to make a stand near the agency and building breastworks of logs and rails Cornoyer mounted his horse and started for Pendleton. Near the town he encountered a party of thirteen on their way to rescue Bunker. He remonstrated with them but they refused to turn back. He then agreed to go also, assuring them there would be a fight in a few minutes. Near Winapsnoot's house they were attacked by hostiles and the engagement lasted for two hours as they slowly retreated to Pendleton. No one was injured on either side so far as is known. Bunker was rescued the next day while Miles was fighting near the agency.
At. this time news was received that Colonel Miles had been informed of Egan's movements and had determined to take the responsibility of marching to the agency for its protection. Major Cornoyer well knew that if left to themselves the infantry would not arrive that night. He immediately set out to meet them accompanied by Harry Peters and John Bradburn. It was then ten o'clock. At midnight they met Miles and the infantry but the company of cavalry had been separated in the darkness and lost. Miles refused to move until the cavalry was found, two additional hours were consumed in hunting up the missing troopers who were found encamped and completely bewildered. When the commands were united Cornoyer led them over the hills arriving just at daybreak to the great delight of the friendly Indians who thought the agent had either deserted them or been killed. To the exertions of Major Cornoyer and those accompanying him that night is due the fact that Colonel Miles arrived in time to defend the agency and avert the consequences that would have followed its capture, including the probable death of many people and a possible union of reservation Indians with the hostiles.
The troops upon reaching their destination began at once to eat breakfast but before they were through the Snakes, Bannocks and Paiutes, some 400 strong, were seen riding down from their camp. A line was quickly formed across the flat and up the hill on the right. Before the soldiers were all in position the advancing Indians began to fire upon them. The reservation Indians were kept in the rear behind their fortifications. The troops hastily scooped holes in the ground piling up dirt in front for protection. Lying behind these they returned fire keeping them at a respectful distance. Nearly the entire day the battle was conducted in this manner. The reservation Indians have been severely blamed for not aiding Miles in this fight and it has been used as an argument to prove that they were in sympathy with the enemy. The facts are that the Cayuses desired to take part but were not permitted to do so by Colonel Miles who said that he had men enough to defend the agency and Indians, and did not want them to do any fighting, for fear they would become confused with the hostiles and cause trouble. Finally Miles decided to charge his assailants, although he had but one company of cavalry and would not be enabled to pursue them. Again the Cayuses requested permission to join in the fight and were allowed to do so on condition that they would keep with the soldiers and not get in advance of them. The command to charge was given and the soldiers sprang from their rifle-pits rushing upon the enemy vying with their Cayuse allies in the onslaught. The hostiles fled to the mountains. There were no casualties on the side of the troops and volunteers. The cavalry under Colonel Forsythe arriving the next day were not in time to participate in the fight. They had been sent off on a wild goose chase towards Wallula because a frightened man had gone to Walla Walla and reported the hostiles in Van Syckle canon.
Before the fight Umapine started out to do a little work on his own account. His father had been killed years before by Egan who was in command of the hostiles and he wanted revenge. When the battle was over he told Egan the Cayuse would join him and persuaded Egan to accompany him the next night to a certain point twelve miles from the agency to meet the Cayuse chiefs and arrange matters. He then sent word to Major Cornoyer to have forty soldiers stationed at the appointed place to capture or kill Egan when he appeared. Colonel Miles held the same opinion of Umapine's loyalty that the citizens did and refused to send soldiers on such an errand. The Cayuses expressed their disappointment to the agent and complained of these suspicions. He told them that the best way to convince the whites of their loyalty was to go out themselves and capture Egan. Chief Homely acted on this advice and quietly selecting forty young men and set out. Egan and Umapine appeared at the appointed time followed by a number of warriors. The Paiute chief was seized and bound and placed in charge of Ya-tin-ya-wit, son-in-law of How-lish Wampoo, head chief of the Cayuses. A fight ensued with the hostiles who had followed their leader. They were reinforced from the camp as soon as sounds of battle reached it. Egan was a very troublesome prisoner and in a struggle to escape was shot by his guard and killed. News of Egan's death and the battle in progress soon reached the reservation and warriors rushed out to aid their friends who were slowly retreating. The reinforcements enabled them to drive back the enemy who retreated further into the mountains. The victor then returned to camp with nine scalps and eighteen women and children as prisoners. A triumphal procession of all Indians on the reservation was formed and passed in review before the troops who were drawn up in a line by General Wheaton, having arrived from Walla Walla and taken command. As Ya-tin-ya-wit, bearing the scalp of Egan on a pole, arrived in front of the commanding officer he stopped and pointing to his bloody trophy, said, "Egan, Egan; we give you." " No! No! keep it, you brave man," exclaimed the disgusted officer. The Columbias who had gone to the hostiles returned to the reservation. Umapine was believed by whites to have joined the hostiles and to have betrayed Egan as a means of getting back again and being forgiven, but Major Cornoyer, who stayed upon the reservation when the people all supposed the Indians to be unfriendly and kept himself fully posted on their movements, believes that Umapine's only object in going to the hostile camp was to exact revenge upon Egan for the death of his father.
Defeat on the reservation, death of their leader, return of the cavalry, and knowledge that the Columbia river could not be crossed so disheartened the hostiles that they began to break up and return to their own country. Chief Homely, with eighty picked warriors of the Cayuses and Walla Walla joined the troops in pursuit and kept them constantly on the move. Homely reached their front at Camas Creek on the seventeenth. When the retreating bands came along he charged into their midst and killed thirty of them without losing a man. He also captured twenty-seven women and children and a number of horses. By this time Howard had reached the Grand Ronde and cut off retreat in that direction thus accomplishing as a secondary movement what he had designed for a primary one. From this time the seat of war was removed from Umatilla County.
The services of volunteers in this war did much to hold the hostiles in check at various points and prevent a wholesale desertion of the country by affording protection to the scattered settlers. They dispersed and drove away the small raiding parties while the troops were devoting their attention to the main band. By constantly scouting they gave the people a sense of security that led them to return to their homes and save what had escaped destruction by the Bannock's. These volunteers came from every town within a hundred miles of the route pursued by the hostiles, many of them being hastily organized as militia, while others served simply as citizen volunteers. There were several bands professing to be volunteers who were in reality horse-thieves and followed the trail of the raiders to pick up valuable stock and otherwise plunder the deserted ranches. One company in particular was notified by General Howard that if he caught them near his camp they would all swing from a tree. This company was from Idaho and charged with having Indian disguises to aid them in their raids upon the panic-stricken settlers. With these exceptions, the volunteers played an important role in pacifying the country.
Only one company came from west of the Cascades and it deserves special mention. When the Bannocks came down the south fork of John Day River during the last days of June they had two skirmishes with citizens of Canyon City and vicinity in which one man was killed and four were wounded. Refuges crowded into that place on the one side and Prineville on the other. An urgent appeal for help from the latter town was instantly responded to by Brig. Gen. M. V. Brown. During the spring Paul d'Heirry had organized the scattered companies of the Willamette valley into the 1st Regiment. O. S. M., and had received a commission as Colonel. He was sent out by General Brown with Co. E of Albany to the relief of the settlers in the region calling for aid. The command consisted of Col. Paul d'Heirry, Maj. J. R. Herren, Quartermaster Lieut. Price, Capt. N. B. Humphrey, 1st Lieut. Mart Angel (superseded in the field by Charles Hewett), 2d Lieut. George Chamberlain, and about fifty men, with one hundred stands of arms.
The command reached Prineville in four days marching across
the mountains, their feet blistered and lame. Horses were procured there and they
pushed on to Murderer's creek where they captured 150 horses from a band of twenty
hostiles and re-stored them to their owners. Dispatching Lieut. Chamberlain in
pursuit of these Indians with a small detachment, Colonel d' Heirry pushed on to Canyon
City which place he found completely deserted. The town could not be defended
because of surrounding bluffs giving a commanding position to an attacking party.
The people had all taken refuge in mining tunnels in the hillside above town leaving fifty
guns and 6,000 rounds of ammunition stored in a large brewery to be taken by any one bold
enough to enter the town. After E company arrived the citizens came down from their
refuge. A company was organized and sent to Lieut. Chamberlain who had been
following the fugitives for fourteen days. After they joined that officer their
horses were stampeded one night by the enemy and they were forced to return to Canyon City
The next move of Colonel d'Heirry was to go north to the relief of the little town of Susanville, besieged by a small band of hostiles. The Indians fled and were pursued until they scattered and made their escape. Desiring to get nearer the center of hostilities he avoided the couriers of Governor Chadwick whom he knew would bring orders for him to remain in the John Day country. He crossed over to Grand Ronde and from there to Pilot Rock. This action so displeased the Governor that he called Colonel d'Heirry to Umatilla and ordered him to return home with his command by the way of Canyon City and Prineville. This was the only company participating in the war which was organized at the time hostilities commenced.
Col. d'Heirry became city editor of the Walla Walla Union and was formerly one of the publishers of the Weston Leader. He became Ass't. Adj. Gen. with the rank of Colonel on the staff of Brig. Gen. P. B: Johnson, Adj. Gen. of National Guard of Washington. About 800 guns and 15,000 rounds of ammunition belonging to Washington were loaned by Governor Ferry to Governor Chadwick.
The killed and wounded among the citizens of Umatilla county during the war were:
KILLED - In and near Camas prairie on the fourth of July, John Vay, Earnest Campbell, John Campbell, John Criss, Castillo; at Nelson's, July 5, Charles L. Jewell, Nelson, L. Scully; near Willow Springs, July 6, *William Lamar, *Harrison Hale; near Cayuse Station and near Pendleton, July 12, Olney J. P. McCoy, Charles McLaughlin, Thomas Smith, James Myers, George Coggan.
WOUNDED -In and near Camas Prairie, July 4, *Henry Mills, G. F. Burnham, Joseph Vay ; near Willow Springs, July 6, *Jacob Frazier, '*`J, MT Saulsbury, *A. Crisfield, *S. L. Lansdon, *S. Rothchild, *G. W. Titsworth, *C. R. Henderson, *Frank Hannah, *''H. H. Howell;. near Pendleton, July 12, Al. Bunker.
The effect of the war upon Umatilla County was devastating. Farmers left their homes at a moment's notice and were gone nearly three weeks. Stock broke into their fields and damaged the crops. Many of them had their houses and barns burned and their stock disabled or driven away. Large bands of sheep and cattle were dispersed in the mountains where great numbers perished. Settlers who owned nothing but a little stock and a cabin had the one killed or driven off and the other burned. Citizens of Portland raised $1800 which was distributed in small amounts among the destitute to enable them to live until they could get to work again. Many stock thieves took advantage of the confused condition of affairs to gather up scattered horses and cattle and run them off. One of these attempted to disable the telegraph operator at Umatilla on the night of July 25 but assaulted the wrong man severely cutting his head.
No instance was reported of hostiles exhibiting bravery, never once making a decided stand before the troops even when largely outnumbering them. They displayed most savage cruelty in the brutal and horrible mutilation of murdered men. Even animals were barbarously tortured. Cattle in large numbers were wantonly killed or maimed. The legs of sheep were cut off at the first joint and the animals were found days afterwards walking about on lacerated stumps. Others were cut across the back and the hide drawn up to the ears. They cut strips of hide from horses the whole length of the body and left them alive.
There was a panic among the people. Indians regardless of their tribal relations were held at a discount. They were liable to be shot wherever seen especially if so situated that they could not shoot back. It was exceedingly dangerous for an Indian from the reservation to go to Pendleton as there was always an element of the "home guards" there who wanted to kill him. Even an old decrepit man who was well known by all was looked upon with hostile eye by these warriors. On the twenty-fifth a Columbia Indian named Bill went to Umatilla and was at once placed under guard in the schoolhouse. About midnight he was killed by shots fired through the window. The suspicious and hostile attitude assumed toward reservation Indians rendered them uneasy and tended to produce an unfriendliness on their part and might have driven them under favorable circumstances to unite with the enemy. Accusations and suspicions against them founded upon fear and baseless rumor were telegraphed all over the country. The fact was, with the exception of the four young men who killed Coggan, every act done by them was against the hostiles and in aid of the troops. There were many young men who were restless, especially among the Umatillas, but they were kept well under control by their chiefs.
On the eighteenth of July Governor Chadwick addressed a letter to Sheriff Sperry instructing him to arrest all Indians guilty of murder or robbery for the purpose of trial by civil authorities. This was a matter of great difficulty due to a lack of witnesses. By appointment a great council was held on the reservation August 26 at which General Howard, Governor Chadwick and others were present. The chiefs were made to understand that the only way to clear themselves and their tribes of blame was to surrender all that had been guilty of wrongful acts. Hostages were taken to insure their doing so. Some of the Columbia River Indians were arrested but were afterwards released for want of evidence. At last by the persistent investigation of Major Cornoyer the murderers of George Coggan were discovered. Four young Umatillas were arrested. One of them gave evidence at the trial in November and was discharged. White Owl, Quit-a-tunips, and Aps were convicted and sentenced to be hanged. The first two were executed in the jail yard at Pendleton, January 10, 1879, a company of cavalry and one of militia being present as a guard. A week latter Aps was hanged at the same place.
Terror Spread At Camas Prairie
The Bannock War of 1878