General Howard starts the Attack
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, and early Monday morning Howard started to make an attack upon it. 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. They fled before the troops with such haste as to abandon much amunition, camp material, stock, and 300 horses that were captured.
Meanwhile, events were happening along the Columbia. Mr. Kunzie had advised Governors Chadwick and Ferry and military authorities to guard the Columbia, as he was of opinion that the hostiles designed 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 and twenty volunteers. These boats, armed with howitzers and Gatling guns, patroled the river. This was the day that Howard drove them back into the mountains, thus heading them off if they had any designs of 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 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 were supposed to have joined 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, they 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 theme with the agent became very restless and wanted to leave. The Cayuse chiefs told them they should not go, and a fight was barely avoided in consequence, but it resulted in their remaining.
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 is considerable doubt whether the Cayuse and Walla Walla entertained such an idea, but as to the Umatilla and Columbia the doubt is not so 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 come. 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, when 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," when he received a faint response, and 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, when he was found by Mr. Morrisey. He was conveyed to Pendleton and carefully nursed, but died the next Friday.
After the battle of the eighth General Howard kept his scouts busy watching movements of the defeated Indians. He became satisfied they were working towards the mouth of Grand Ronde, with the intention of crossing 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 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, for Major Cornoyer kept Cayuse scouts constantly watching their movements, who reported them near at hand. Their scouts could be seen on the mountains back of the agency when the troops left; but Howard was convinced of the correctness of his judgment and refused to change his plans. If he had left a sufficient force of cavalry on this side to guard the reservation and drive the Indians back, then his plan of heading them off on the other side would have been a good one.
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 all was confusion 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 Columbia slipped out and went to the enemy's camp, and a few young Umatilla 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,] and 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 Columbia 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 Umatilla 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 in, 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 started 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 hours more 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 evils that would have followed its capture, including the murder of many people and a possible union of reservation Indians with the hostiles.
The troops upon reaching their destination proceeded at once to eat breakfast, but before they were through the Snakes, Bannocks and Pah Utes, 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, and 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 the hostile fire so warmly as to keep them at a respectful distance. Nearly all day a battle was maintained 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 the 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, rushed upon the enemy vying with their Cayuse allies in the onslaught. The hostiles fleeing to the mountains returned no more, and that night found them eighteen miles from the agency, after having finished the destruction of Cayuse station by burning the barn, and the soldiers returned and went into camp. 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 that chief 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, repaired to the rendezvous. Egan and Umapine appeared at the appointed time, followed by a number of warriors. The great Pali Ute 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 who were reniforced 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, that officer having arrived from Walla Wall 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 Columbia who had gone to the hostiles stole back 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 be revenged 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 on the seventeenth on Camas creek, and when the retreating bands came along 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, and it is unnecessary to follow the details of campaigns against the scattered bands until they were all subdued.
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 and hamlet 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 did splendid work 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 hill side 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, when 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 on foot.
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, and 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 is now city editor of the Walla Walla Union and was formerly one of the publishers of the Weston Leader. He is now 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 kindly loaned by Governor Ferry to Governor Chadwick. They have not yet been returned nor paid for by the State of Oregon.
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 very bad. 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 subscribed $1800, which were 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 with a slungshot.
In no instance did the hostiles exhibit 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 dumb 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 poor 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.
As usual in Indian outbreaks, 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. Is 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, when the fact is, that-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 Umatilla, 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, to be tried by civil authorities. This was a matter of great difficulty because of 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, and hostages were taken to insure their doing so. Some of the Columbia River Indians were arrested, but were afterwards re-leased for want of evidence. At last by the persistent investigation of Major Cornoyer, the murderers of George Coggan were discovered. Four young Umatilla 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.
Additional Umatilla Resources
General Howard Attacks