Nez Perce 1877: The last fight (Campaign)
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Osprey's examination of one of the most famous battles of the latter part of the American Indian Wars (1622-1918). With the wars between the US and the Native Americans drawing to a close, one tribe in Eastern Oregon continued to resist. The Nez Perce, led by the "Red Napoleon" Chief Joseph, refused to surrender and accept resettlement. Instead, Chief Joseph organized a band of 750 warriors and set off for the Canadian border, pursued by 2,000 US Army troops under Major-General Oliver Howard. The army chased the natives for three months, fighting 13 actions. Finally, just 40 miles from the Canadian border, the Army ran Chief Joseph to the ground, and forced him to surrender after a five-day battle near Bear Paw Mountain.
about 20 miles (32km), the cavalry ran into another Nez Perce ambush in some thick woods, resulting in their scouts suffering three casualties. The demoralized 1st Cavalry detachment retreated precipitously to the Clearwater. Just prior to moving up the trail, the Non-Treaty Nez Perce proceeded to plunder food, horses and other supplies from Treaty Nez Perce in the area, whom they despised for submitting to 54 Ol l/l Nez Perce Trail OREGON July 28 IDAHO TERRITORY X White Bird Canyon June
the soldiers. 2 0400hrs: Gibbon orders Companies D and K and First Lieutenant Bradley's mixed force to advance in skirmish line across the North Fork of the Big Hole River and 4 Company K pauses outside the village to fire two volleys into the teepees, but loses momentum when two Nez Perce marksmen kill two soldiers. Meanwhile, Lt. Bradley is killed on the edge of the village and his leaderless force engages in protracted sniping with nearby Nez Perce from the willows. 5 Gibbon commits Companies
traditional Nez Perce culture. Many Dreamers also believed that some unknown spiritual force would soon remove settlers from their lands, so it really didn't matter what the Americans said. OLLOKOT'S AND HOWARD'S ULTIMATUMS The gold rush along the Clearwater ended with a whimper after just a few years, but American settlers continued to pour into Nez Perce lands. While the Non-Treaty factions ignored the 1863 Treaty, the US Government did not make any effort to force them onto approved
Isaac Stevens, Governor of the Oregon Territory, forces the Nez Perce and other tribes to sign treaties that severely limit their tribal lands. As a result, the Nez Perce split into Treaty and Non-Treaty factions. 1860 Gold is discovered on Nez Perce territory, bringing thousands of settlers illegally onto Nez Perce land. 1862 T h e US Army constructs Fort Lapwai on Nez Perce land to support the Indian Agency. 1863 T h e US Government forces the Nez Perce to sign a new treaty that reduces
White Bird Canyon. Howard marches out of Fort Lapwai with a column to pursue the Nez Perce. June 2 9 Howard orders a pre-emptive strike on the camp of Chief Looking Glass, even though his faction is still on reservation land. June 30 As H o w a r d crosses the Salmon River, the Nez Perce slip away and cross to the opposite side at Craig's Ferry. July 1 Captain Stephen G. Whipple conducts a morning raid on Looking Glass's camp. July 2 Howard orders Whipple to defend the C o t t o n w o o d