Idaho Indian Encounters: The Unfriendly Kind

October 1, 1851  (Fort Hall)

A pack train guarded by a small company of men was traveling past Fort Hall when Shoshones, concealed in the brush along the trail, fired upon them.  The company disintegrated as eight men were killed and the rest fled.  The Indians took $1,000 in cash, $2,000 in property, and 12 horses.

August 19, 1854 Lake Massacre (Boise, Idaho)

A large emigrant train heading to Oregon had split up into three sections, and the last four wagons had fallen several miles behind.  About 70 miles southeast of the old Hudson's Bay company post of Fort Boise, 11 Shoshone Indians approached the group of 4 families and 2 unattached young men.  Ostensibly, the Indians sought to trade for whiskey.  The emigrants said they had none.  The Indians shook hands, appearing friendly, then opened fire, killing George Lake and fatally wounding two others in the party, Empson Cantrell and Walter G. Perry.  The emigrants returned fire and wounded two Indians.  The Shoshones stole five horses and rode off.

August 20, 1854 Ward Massacre (Caldwell, Idaho)

The day after the Lake Massacre (previous entry), the vanguard of the same large but dispersed wagon train to Oregon was about 25 miles southeast of Fort Boise on the Snake River Plain, just east of present-day Caldwell, Idaho, when a party of 30 Shoshones approached Alexander Ward's five-wagon train of 20 emigrants.  One Indian tried to take a horse by force, threatening an emigrant with his weapon.  The white man shot the Indian down, starting a slaughter.

The Shoshones killed Ward and raped and tortured several women, killing some.   They hung children by the hair over a blazing fire.  One boy, 13-year-old Newton Ward, was shot with an arrow and left for dead.  His 15-year-old brother, William, took an arrow through the lung but lived.  He hid in the brush until the Indians left, then wandered for five days until he reached Fort Boise.

While the massacre was taking place, a group of seven emigrants under Alex Yantis, backtracking in search of stray cows, saw the commotion.  They rushed in and rescued Newton Ward, but the Shoshones killed one of them, a young man named Amens, in the process.  Outnumbered, Yantis's party had to leave the few survivors to their fate while they raced to Fort Boise.  When the Indians left, they took 46 cows and horses and more than $2,000 in money and property.  A rescue party of 18 men arrived two days later, only to bury the mutilated bodies.

In addition to Amens, the Shoshones killed 18 of Ward's party.  Some Indians may have been wounded, but it is not known for sure.

July 15, 1855 Fort Boise (Parma, Idaho)

Still seeking to punish the Shoshones responsible for the Ward Massacre the year before (see August 20, 1854), Capt. Granville O. Haller took 150 men, mostly of the 4th. Infantry, from Forts Dalles and Vancouver east along the Oregon Trail.  The Indian agent for the Shoshones, Nathan Olney, accompanied the command.  Haller traveled from Fort Hall to Camas Prairie to Shoshone Falls, all the while sending word that he wanted a council with the tribes.  On July 15th at Fort Boise, 200 Indians gathered to hear Haller's words, but nothing came of it.

Meanwhile, Lt. Edward H. Day had captured 6 of the 30 murderers of the Ward party, although how he knew they were guilty is unknown.  Three of the captives tried to escape and were shot down.  A military commission tried and convicted the other three.   They were taken 25 miles southeast of the fort to the site of the Ward killings and, on July 18th. were hanged over the graves of their purported victims.  After the hangings, T.J. Dryer, editor of the Portland Weekly Oregonian, said, "Our regret is that they did not shoot the whole tribe."

February 25, 1858 Fort Lemhi (Baker, Idaho)

The Mormon mission called Fort Lemhi had become perhaps too successful.  Though the Mormons had established good relations among the Shoshones and Bannocks in the Lemhi Valley and had converted many of them, the Indians were becoming unhappy about the growth of Mormon settlements in the area, and they began to rebel.  Likewise, Thomas S. Smith, presiding elder at the mission, was becoming unhappy with the Indians, complaining to Brigham Young about how impudent and unmanageable they had become.  The old Bannock chief Le Grand Coquin became particularly angry when the Mormons would not give him some white wives, and when Coquin made an impromptu inspection of the mission's horse corral, the Mormons were suspicious.

Suddenly, about 250 Bannock and Shoshone warriors descended on Fort Lemhi.  They killed 2 herders, wounded 5 other men, and drove off 255 cattle and horses.  After the attack, some shoshones returned, offering 30 cattle as a peach gesture.  They had quarreled with the Bannocks, who, they said, had instigated the raid and who refused to return the rest of the stock.  The disheartened Saints abandoned the fort and left the valley on April 1st.

July 27, 1859 Cold Springs (Malta, Idaho)

Frequent fighting had occurred between emigrants and Indians along the Hudspeth Cutoff northwest of Salt Lake City, and one act of retribution fell on an innocent party.  A wagon train led by Ferguson Shepherd was traversing a canyon near Cold Springs, on the west side of the Sublett Range.  When the emigrants stopped to doctor a sick horse, Shoshone bullets rang out of the bushes on both sides of the trail.  The bullets killed four emigrants and wounded several others.  Four of the emigrant men rode off.   The Shoshones grabbed a young child and threw her against some rocks, breaking her leg.  The mother managed to mount a mule and escape with her injured daughter.   Another woman fled on foot and became so exhausted she left her eight-month-old infant hidden behind some bushes.  In all, four were killed and four were wounded, one of them mortally.  The Shoshones burned most of the wagons and stole 35 horses.

The next morning another wagon train found some of the survivors huddled under a wagon, being tended by a five-year-old boy.  The abandoned infant was found blistered from the sun but otherwise unharmed.  The rescuers took the survivors to California.

August 31, 1859 Miltimore Massacre (American Falls, Idaho)

About 25 miles southwest of Fort Hall on the Oregon Trail, between the Portneuf Bridge and the Snake River, 30 Shoshones, led by Pageah and Sowwich, attacked 19 emigrants in the wagon train of Edwin A. Miltmore.  The Indians jumped the rear wagons first, allowing men in the lead wagons to take cover in the brush and begin firing at their assailants with the company's two rifles.

The Indians killed and mutilated five men, one woman, and two children.  As the Shoshones worked their way up towards the lead wagons, one of the armed emigrants killed one of the Indians' leaders, effectively dampening the warrior's ardor for a fight, and they left.  Three days later, the emigrant survivors met a squad of 2nd. Dragoons under Lt. Henry B. Livingston, who escorted them to Camp Floyd.

September 9-10, 1860 Utter Fight/Castle Greek (Grand View, Idaho)

Elijah P. Utter's wagon train consisted of the Utter family, three other families, six single men, and six ex-soldiers recently discharged from Fort Hall.  Though a relatively small train, the 8 wagons, 100 oxen, and 44 travelers, 16 of whom were adult men, appeared to be strong enough to make it to Oregon.  Traveling along the Snake River, the party reached the mouth of Castle Creek, about 12 miles downriver from present-day Grand View, Idaho, early on September 9th.  There, a cloud of dust ahead warned of approaching Indians.

Utter corralled the wagons on high ground overlooking the river.  A band of Bannocks circled around, shooting, for an hour, then they approached waving a white flag.   The Indians indicated that they were hungry, and Utter let some of them inside the corral and fed them.  The Bannocks thanked the emigrants and made signs that they would proceed, but when Utter strung the wagons out along the road, the warriors attacked again.

Three men, including the driver of the lead wagon, quickly lost their lives as Utter circled the wagons again.  Throughout the day and into the night, the Bannocks besieged the emigrants, and they were still there the next morning.  In need of water, Utter tried to move the wagons to the river, but the Indians hit them again, killing another man.

At that point, four of the ex-soldiers and two other men, the Reith brothers, mounted horses and galloped away, leaving the rest of the train to their fate.  The party broke up and ran for the thickets along the river.  Elijah and Abagel Utter, four of their children, and another man were killed.  The Bannocks, busy looting the wagons, left the remaining 27 emigrants alone in their hiding places along the river.

In all, 11 emigrants died in the attack.  The survivors took various tragic treks down the snake.  A few wandered away; Indians killed or captured others; and some died of starvation and were eaten by their companions.  There were no known Bannock casualties.

August 9, 1862 Massacre Rocks (Neely, Idaho)

Approximately 150 Shoshones and Bannocks fell upon several wagon trains on the Oregon Trail, along the Snake River between American Falls and Massacre /Rocks.  In the first attack, about half a mile east of the rocks, the Indians swept through the wagons of the Smart train and killed two emigrants.  Continuing east two miles, the warriors hit the Adams train, killing three more men and badly wounding a woman, Elizabeth Adams.

That night, the Indians pulled away as the Kennedy train joined the survivors of the two attacks.  With 86 wagons, the emigrants formed a corral.  In the morning, John K. Kennedy led out 40 well-armed, mounted men to recover the stolen stock.  The emigrants found the Indian camp, with nearly 300 Indians, five miles south.  In the recovery attempt, Kennedy lost three men and a few more were wounded, Kennedy himself mortally.  The Indians chased Kennedy and his men back to the river, but by then another train, the Wilson party, had come up, adding 46 wagons to the defense.  The Indians chose not to attack, and the combined trains moved on.

Including the subsequent deaths of Kennedy and Elizabeth Adams, emigrant fatalities totaled ten, with nine wounded.

September 12, 1862 City of Rocks (Almo, Idaho)

A wagon train of 15 men under Charles McBride and John Andrews, returning from California to the States, camped near City of Rocks on the Raft River, near today's Utah-Idaho border.  On the morning of September 12h., they rode into a camp just ahead of them, thinking it was that of another emigrant train.  Instead it was a village of Shoshones and Bannocks.  At first, the Indians appeared friendly, and the whites began negotiating for cattle.  But when the tribesmen told the whites they could buy all the beef they wanted if they would bring all their men into the village, the travelers suspected treachery and moved on.

Soon, about 40 warriors ambushed them..  McBride and Andrews kept the train rolling, and the fight stretched for 20 miles.  Finally the white men took refuge behind rocks along Cassia Creek near the Raft River.  They drove the warriors off, but lost six men in the process, with two wounded.  In the moonlight that night, the nine survivors crept away, to endure five days without food before making it to the Mormon settlement at Box Elder.

January 29, 1863 Bear River (Preston, Idaho)

Col. Patrick E. Connor led troops from Camp Douglas against the Shoshone bands of Bear Hunter and Sagwitch, who were camped in a bend of the Bear River near present-day Preston, Idaho.  The 75-lodge village comprised about 450 Indians, about 200 of them warriors.   With Company K, 3rd. California Infantry; Companies A, H, K, and M, 2nd. California Cavalry; 2 howitzers; and a train of 15 wagons, Connor had about 260 men in all.

When Connor and his force splashed across the icy Bear River on the morning of January 29th., the Shoshones were ready for them, positioned defensively along the cutbanks of Beaver (now called Battle) Creek.  Maj. Edward McGarry dismounted his soaked and shivering men and launched a frontal attack.  About 10 troopers were killed and 20 wounded in the first half hour of this exchange.

Connor then assumed control.  He sent out companies to flank the Indians' rear and seal off avenues of retreat.  Lt. John Quinn went downstream and Capt. Samuel W. Hoyt went  upstream, placing the village in a vise.  Many Shoshones began to flee, some by swimming the frigid river, in which they became easy targets.  A handful of warriors stayed and defended the village from within a stand of willows along the creek bed.

The four-hour battle was hard fought, not at all the massacre that some have contended.   When it was over, the troops counted 224 Indian bodies on the field, including those of Bear Hunter and subchief Lehi.  Sagwitch escaped.  The soldiers captured 160 women and children and 175 horses and destroyed the village.  Connor list 21 killed or mortally wounded and 46 wounded; 75 sustained frostbitten limbs.

The battle broke the power of the Shoshones in the Cache Valley and Bear River area.   One by one, band began to surrender.  Connor was promoted to brigadier general.

February 15, 1865 Bruneau Valley (Bruneau, Idaho)

After eight head of cattle were stolen near Fort Boise, four settlers and six soldiers from Company I, 1st. Washington Territory Infantry, under Sgt. John Storan, tracked the thieves.  The trail went up the Snake River to Bruneau Valley, near the junction of the Bruneau and Snake Rivers, about 20 miles southwest of present-day Mountain Home, Idaho.

Sgt. Storan's small group found the culprit Indians, probably Bannocks, in a little canyon eight miles from Bruneau Valley, dressing the carcasses of the eight steers.   Though outnumbered about eight to one, Storan attacked, and in a tough, hour-and-a-half fight that ended with rain and darkness, he succeeded in driving off the Indians.

Storan reported killing 30 Indians, with no casualties to his own party, and having fired only 83 shots.  Storan's superior officer, a Capt. O'Regan, added that Storan's men wounded an additional 30 Indians.  These casualties are certainly an embellishment.

Nez Perce War of 1877

June 17, 1877 White Bird Canyon (White Bird, Idaho)

After some young Nez Perce warriors killed settlers on the Camas Prairie in northern Idaho, Capt. David Perry was ordered out from Fort Lapwai with all the horsemen at his disposal--about 100 men of Companies F and H of the 1st. Cavalry.  Perry left on June 15th. and marched to Grangeville, where he learned of more atrocities--drunken warriors had killed about 15 more settlers.  Picking up 11 volunteers from nearby Mount Idaho, Perry raced south to try to cut off the Nez Perces before they could escape into the mountains.

Chief Joseph, camped at the mouth of White Bird Canyon near its junction with the Salmon River, learned that soldiers were coming and hoped he could talk to them.  He only had 135 warriors but posted them among the rocks on the cliff sides.  Lt. Edward R. Theller, in advance of Perry's column, saw the Indians approaching with a white flag, but the volunteers opened fire and the battle was on.

Though they outnumbered the Indians, Perry's men were exhausted and no match for the warriors.  Many of the soldiers were inexperienced, and they could not stand up to the flanking fire.  Theller and 18 men, trapped in a ravine, were wiped out.   Some fought their way back the 16 miles to Mount Idaho.  Stragglers found their way back later.

Perry lost 34 men and 2 wounded.  Only 3 Nez Perces were wounded.

July 1, 1877 Clear Creek (Kooskia, Idaho)

Capt. Stephen G. Whipple took Companies E and L of the 1st. Cavalry, 20 Idaho volunteers, and 2 Gatling guns to the village of the Nez Perce Looking Glass, hoping to capture the chief before he could join up with Chief Joseph.  On July 1st Whipple's force came down a hillside opposite the village on Clear Creek, by its junction with the Clearwater River, near present-day Kooskia, Idaho.

Looking Glass, who had maintained neutrality to this point, sent Peopeo Tholekt to tell the soldiers to leave them alone.  After treating him roughly, the troopers sent him back with the demand that Looking Glass come to talk himself.  The chief refused and sent Peopeo and another Nez Perce back to try to talk again.

While the two Indians talked with Lt. Sevier M. Rains, a volunteer fired from across the river, wounding a Nez Perce named Red Heart.  The fight had started, and the soldiers charged across the creek, spraying the 40-family village with gunfire.  The Nez Perces fled into the woods.

One Indian was killed, four were wounded, and one woman and her infant were drowned as they tried to cross the swift Clearwater.  Whipple destroyed the village.  The neutral Looking glass was now a hostile.

July 3, 1877 Cottonwood Creek/Craig's Mountain (Cottonwood, Idaho)

After destroying the Nez Perce Looking Glass's village (previous entry), Capt. Stephen G. Whipple and his troops rode west across the Camas Prairie to Norton's Ranch on Cottonwood Creek, a post also called Cottonwood House.  On July 2nd., civilian scouts William Foster and Charles Blewitt spotted Indians, and in the race back to the ranch, Blewitt got lost.  The next day, the driver of a stage to Lewiston saw Indians driving a herd of horses and reported the news to Whipple.

Before mounting up  his 75 men of Companies E and L, 1st. Cavalry, in pursuit, Whipple directed Lt. Levier M. Rains, company L, to take 10 men and the scout Foster to reconnoiter and to look for Blewitt.  Rains was in a small valley only two miles from the post when he was attacked by Nez Perce warriors hidden at the food to Craig's Mountain.

Within a few minutes, Rains and the 11 others were killed.  Only moments later, Whipple arrived to face the 150 or more warriors who had just overwhelmed the scouting party.  Whipple retreated.

July 4, 1877 Cottonwood House (Cottonwood, Idaho)

After the episode at Cottonwood Creek (previous entry), Capt. David Perry arrived at Cottonwood House with the remnants of his Company F and took over Whipple's command.   The soldiers saw Nez Perces all around the ranch, and the 113 men of the three companies dug in, placing their gatling guns around the perimeter and preparing to defend their position.  The Indians hovered around all day, engaging in desultory shooting but never coming closer than 500 yards.  Two soldiers were wounded.

July 5, 1877 "Brave Seventeen" Fight (Cottonwood, Idaho)

When civilian volunteers from Mount Idaho heard that the soldiers at Cottonwood House were in trouble, they went to help.  All they could gather up, however, were 17 men.   When the "brave seventeen" got within five miles of their destination, they were confronted by a line of Nez Perces.  "Captain" D. B. Randall ordered a charge.  The volunteers broke through, but the warriors, about 130 of them, quickly closed in and surrounded them.  When the horsemen could advance no farther, Randall formed up a defense, only a mile and a half from Cottonwood House.

The firing attracted the attention of Capts. Perry and Whipple at the post, but they did not ride out.  Watching the fight, Perry assumed the volunteers were goners.   He and his soldiers watched for 25 minutes.  Incredibly, during this time, a few of Randall's men broke out and rode up to Perry's men asking for ammunition.   Perhaps shame got to them, for finally Whipple and Lt. Shelton rode out with 42 soldiers and broke the "brave seventeen" free.

Randall and another volunteer were killed, and a third received a mortal wound.   Three others were less severely wounded.  On Indian was mortally wounded.

July 11-12, 1877 Clearwater River (Stites, Idaho)

After subduing the soldiers at Cottonwood House (July 3rd.), the Nez Perces led their families across the Camas Prairie to the east.  They did not have many warriors: Joseph's band combined with Looking Glass's, plus some stragglers, amounted to about 300 fighting men.  Pursuing them was Brig. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard, commander of the Department of the Columbia, with Companies B, E, F, H, and L of the 1st. Cavalry; A, B, C, D, E, H, and I of the 21st. Infantry; four companies of the 4th. Artillery acting as infantry; and 50 packers and scouts--almost 500 men.

Howard found the Nez Perce village near the junction of Cottonwood Creek and the Clearwater River, in a valley 1,000 feet below him.  He opened the fight by firing his cannons, which did little but alert the Indians that he was there.  They filed up the ravines to skirmish with him before he could bring down his entire command.   Finally, Howard got his troops down to a gently rolling prairie and deployed in the open in a large circle, with his pack train in the center.

The Nez Perces kept up the fight for seven hours, probing for a weak point, while the artillery kept them at bay.  Capt. Evan Miles charged to drive them back in the north, while Capt. Marcus P. Miller did the same in the west.  The Nez Perces, however, kept them boxed in.  They sniped at each other until dark.  Howard's men dug rifle pits during the night.

The next morning, the firing commenced again.  It was another hot day, and the soldiers suffered greatly for lack of water.  In an almost unheard of tactic for Indians, the Nez Perces dug trenches around the soldiers, shooting every time a man looked up.  Howard was planning a charge to break out when Capt. James B. Jackson's Company B, 1st. Cavalry, came up from the south with 120 pack mules and took on the Indians from the rear.  Howard sent out soldiers to meet him and they drove the Indians out of one of the ravines.  The rest of the Nez Perces ran back to their village, where they scrambled to gather up what they could and escape across the Clearwater River.

Howard won the field, but it was a costly victory.  He lost 17 soldiers and civilians, killed or mortally wounded, and 27 others wounded.  The Nez Perces suffered 23 killed, 46 wounded, and 40 captured.

July 17, 1877 Weippe Prairie (Weippe, Idaho)

After the fight at the Clearwater River (previous entry), Gen. Oliver Otis Howard followed the fleeing Nez Perces, hoping to catch them before they crossed the mountains into Montana.  Maj. Edwin C. Mason, 21st. Infantry, took detachments of five companies of the 1st. Cavalry, Idaho volunteers, under Ed McConville, and some Nez Perce scouts ahead of Howard's main force.  The Indians' trail led onto the Weippe Prairie, near the junction of Jim Ford and Grasshopper Creeks, and beyond into a wooded defile.

The scouts who expected an ambush were not disappointed; one was killed and two others were wounded.  Finding it impossible to take horsemen through the tangle of undergrowth, Mason dismounted them to trek through the timber, but by the time they got going, the Indians had disappeared.

August 15, 1877 Birch Creek (Monteview, Idaho)

On their flight from army pursuers (see Clearwater River July 11-12) the Nez Perces crossed the Continental Divide at Bannock Pass, entered the Lemhi Valley, and continued south.  In the Birch Creek Valley, in the southwest corner of present-day Clark County, Idaho, they came across a wagon train.  The 8 freight wagons, 3 drivers, 5 other men, and 30 mules were going from Corinne, Utah to Salmon City, Idaho.  Sixty Nez Perces stopped the wagons and forced the freighters to feed them, then made them move upriver two miles to their camp.

At the camp, the freighters may have breathed easier when the Nez Perces asked to buy their goods.  Among the cargo was whiskey, however, and after drinking, the Indians' mood became more belligerent.  One of the freighters, Albert E. Lyons, edged his way out of the camp and slipped away into the gathering darkness, and the Nez Perces allowed two Chinese passengers to ride on.  No one knows what occurred after that.   Searchers later found the battered and shot bodies of the men: Albert Green, James Hayden, Daniel Combs, a man named White, and an unknown man.  Combs's dog was patiently keeping watch over the body of his dead master.

August 20, 1877 Camas Meadows (Kilgore, Idaho)

With Col. John Gibbon's force too hurt from the Big Hole fight (August 9-10th.) to continue their pursuit of Joseph's Nez Perces, Brig. Gen. O. O. Howard came back on the scene.  Ahead of his infantry, Companies B, I, and K of the 1st. Cavalry, Company L of the 2nd. Cavalry, and 53 mounted Montana volunteers under James E. Callaway were only a day behind the Indians.  On August 19 they camped at the vacated Indian camp at Camas Meadows, near the junction of East Camas and Spring Creeks.

The next morning, about 200 warriors rode back to the campsite to drive off the cavalry's horses.  They had taken 150 mules before daylight, and at down Maj. George B. Sanford and three troops went after them.  Sanford recaptured some of the mules, but the Indians forced him back.  The warriors cut off Capt. Randolph Norwood's Company L for three hours, until Howard came up with his regrouped command, whereupon the Nez Perces renewed their flight to Canada.

Two soldiers were killed or mortally wounded, and ten enlisted men and one civilian were wounded.  No Indian casualties were reported.

The Bannock War of 1878
See Also
The Bannock, Snake and Paiute War of 1878

June 8, 1878 South Mountain (Silver City, Idaho)

After a band of Bannocks shot and wounded two white men on Camas Prairie, about 90 miles southeast of Boise, Idaho, Chief Buffalo Horn, knowing retribution would come, gathered his followers and left the area.  Heading west, with Umatilla and Paiute warriors joining the band along the way, the Indians raided settlements through southwest Idaho, killing about ten whites.  When news of the attacks reached Silver City, Idaho, Capt. J. B. Harper organized a volunteer company of 26 men and some friendly Paiute scouts to find the raiders.

The volunteers ran into Chief Buffalo Horn and more than 50 warriors near a small mining camp at South Mountain, about 20 miles southwest of Silver City.  The Bannocks were in a good defensive position, but Harper ordered a charge anyway.  Although he lost two men and three were wounded, he succeeded in mortally wounding Buffalo Horn and hitting a few other Bannocks.  The Indians headed into Oregon with their dying chief, who, two days later, ordered them to leave him in the underbrush to die.

July 21, 1878 Middle Fork of the Clearwater River (Kooskia, Idaho)

Disenchanted Nez Perce warriors who had fled to Canada with White Bird in 1877 after Chief Joseph's surrender (see Bear's Paw/Snake Creek, September 30 - October 5, 1877) returned to their homes in Idaho the following summer.  On July 15th. they raided in Montana.  Lt. Thomas S. Wallace out of Fort Missoula, with 15 mounted men from detachments of Companies D, H, and I of the 3rd. Infantry, took up the chase.   Wallace caught his quarry on the Middle Fork of the Clearwater River, east of present-day Kooskia, Idaho.  Without loss to himself, he killed six Nez Perces, wounded three, and captured 31 horses.

The Sheepeater War of 1879

July 29, 1879 Big Creek/Vinegar Hill (Big Creek, Idaho)

From camps deep in the mountain wilderness of central Idaho, a band of renegade Bannocks and Shoshones known as the Sheepeaters were raiding stock.  Several soldier columns were sent to track them down.  One of them, under Lt. Henry Catley, left Grangeville, Idaho, with about 50 mounted men of Companies C and K of the 2nd. Infantry.

Catley's men were following the raiders' trail single file along a steep slope above Big Creek when suddenly an Indian appeared and called out to his companions.  Rifles cracked, knocking two soldiers off their horses.  Catley dismounted his men and they fired into the cliffs, but they could not see their assailants.

The troopers backtracked and camped at nightfall.  The next morning they continued on but lost their way.  On a peak known as Vinegar Hill, Catley's pack train was attacked.  The Indians surrounded Catley's men and set fire to the grass, but the soldiers lit a backfire and stopped the flames.  Abandoning much of the equipment, Catley quickly retreated.  He had been driven out by only 15 warriors.  A court-martial later convicted him of misconduct.