Nez Perce
Forlorn Hope: The Battle of White Bird Canyon
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Chapter IX:


They are dropping like hunted birds.


It was a wild, deadly racing with the warriors pressing hard to head them off.


Look at mangled flesh and shattered bones and see the life blood flow.

Copied in the Journal of Michael McCarthy

A quick, keen searching glance makes it patent to him
That his life he can no longer hope to defend;
And so, bracing each muscle, and nerving each limb
For a last gallant effort, he waits for the end.


I kind of thought that was the little girl that belonged to Jack Manuel's house. So I went out on me hands and knees and got her.


Yellow Wolf was one of those who raced ahead in the chase to catch the retreating soldiers. About one mile from the place where the fighting began, he encountered five enlisted men, who had taken shelter behind some rocks. He dismounted and ran forward to strike one of them with his bow. The soldier was in the process of reloading when the Indian reached him. Yellow Wolf grabbed the barrel of the weapon and shoved hard, and the cavalryman went over backward. The warrior wrenched the gun free, while another Nez Perce administered the fatal blow. Seeing another soldier below him, Yellow Wolf jumped in an effort to reach him, but he fell short of his goal, and, when his feet hit the ground, he slipped and sprawled in the grass. Quickly the soldier turned to fire, but he did not bring the weapon down far enough, and the bullet passed over the warrior's shoulder. Up in a flash, Yellow Wolf succeeded in grasping the carbine, and the two men wrestled in desperation, until a second Indian came up behind the soldier and fired point-blank. The man slumped to the ground, and Yellow Wolf was free. He noticed that a cavalryman on a distant point was starting to draw a bead on him, so he began to run from side to side up the hill to cover. A friend, seeing his predicament, picked up a rock and threw at the soldier. The missile struck the man just above the ear, and death was instantaneous. [1]

Continuing after the retreating soldiers, Yellow Wolf and the others came upon two dismounted men. The cavalrymen died quickly. North of the place where Perry and Trimble had turned to the left to scale the foothills and ascend the west wall of the canyon, Yellow Wolf and his companions cornered eight men in a dead-end ravine. Thorn bushes grew in the gulch and made it difficult for the Nez Perce to get at them. With their backs to a rocky wall, these soldiers put up a good fight. They died well. [2]

About Asleep and his brother, No Leggings On, joined in the chase to the bluffs, but they were only boys and kept behind the older men. Each time one of the warriors killed a cavalryman, the young Indians stopped long enough to retrieve the man's pistol, and, in this way, they collected a number of good side arms before the fighting ended. [3] Two Moons and Fire Body were in the forefront of those who followed Perry and Trimble to the cattle trail. But not so young as in other summers, they followed the soldiers only part way up the mountain. [4] Arthur Simon was another Nez Perce who failed to make it to the top of the west wall. His horse gave out, and he decided to lead the animal back to camp. Suddenly he heard a warning call, which told him that a soldier stalked him. He whirled about. The soldier was unarmed, but the warrior did not have time to use his weapon before his enemy was upon him. The men grasped the other, and the fight became a simple test of strength, and the soldier soon began to gain the upper hand. Fortunately for the warrior, a tribesman came to the rescue and succeeded in dispatching his attacker. [5]

Wounded Head arrived too late to participate in the close fighting. [6] When he reached the battlefield, however, he did find one dismounted soldier. The cavalryman leveled his weapon when the Indian approached, but the warrior was the first to fire. The bullet hit the soldier between the eyes. Dismounting, Wounded Head took the carbine from the dead man and placed his old cap-and-ball revolver on his chest as a parting gift to a conquered foe.

When Wounded Head reached the top of White Bird Hill, the soldiers were already gone, so he joined some other Indians, who were rounding up army horses. It was not long before they discovered two enlisted men, who had been left behind in the retreat. The soldiers were brave, but they were soon overwhelmed and killed. The Indians stripped them of their arms and ammunition and then began to make their way back to camp.

As Wounded Head rode down the trail, he heard some of his tribesmen call to him to look on the hillside above him. He saw a white woman running up the bluff in an effort to escape and rode after her. Isabella Benedict made a sign, which he interpreted as a request for mercy. [7] He motioned for her to mount behind him, and she complied. Wounded Head asked the other Indians to take charge of her, but they refused. They did, however, relieve her of her watch, her jewelry, and her money. The warrior then carried his passenger to the bottom of White Bird Hill, where, according to Mrs. Benedict, some squaws met them and persuaded the warrior to release her. [8] Once again she started for Mount Idaho.

There were many tasks to keep the victorious Nez Perce busy during the rest of the morning and early afternoon. The injured had to be cared for. Apparently there were four warriors who had suffered wounds in the battle, although the nontreaty Indians interviewed in later years mentioned only three: [9] Bow and Arrow Case, who had been shot in the right side during the early stages of the retreat; [10] Land Above, who had taken a bullet in the stomach; [11] and Four Blankets, who had a cut on the wrist, which had received in a fall from his horse. [12] There had been none killed.

There was also the matter of what to do with prisoners. All of the wounded cavalrymen had been killed during the fighting, but there were three agency Nez Perce, who had been captured unharmed. They were Yuwishakaikt, Joe Albert, and Robinson Minthon. Yuwishakaikt had been detailed as a horse holder, and when the retreat had begun, he had joined in it, but before long his pony had given out, and he had been taken into custody. [13] Albert and Minthon probably had fallen into the hands of the nontreaty Nez Perce for the same reason. Albert's father fought with the victors, and he intervened for his son. [14] Yuwishakaikt also had a relative in the village who pleaded in his behalf. The prisoners were secured for the night to await judgment by the chiefs, when they convened in council the following day.

The Nez Perce made a careful search of the battleground to pick up arms and ammunition. They probably gathered cartridge cases as well as unexpended rounds in order to reload them for future use. Yuwishakaikt reported that the Indians recovered 35 or 36 weapons. [15] Other Nez Perce interviewed in later years gave much higher figures. Yellow Wolf claimed that there were 63 guns recovered, and Yellow Bull declared that there were 90. [16]

After the search on the battlefield had been completed, the Indians returned to the camp to eat and rest. About 3 o'clock in the afternoon, Black Feather stood near the Manuel house on the river bottom. Three other Nez Perce sat on the ground nearby, enjoying a smoke after the hard day's fighting. Suddenly the warrior heard a rustling in the thicket and saw a white man and a little girl emerge from the underbrush. By the look of his clothes, the man was probably a miner or a farmer. The face was familiar to Black Feather, but the name did not come to him. The man did not carry a gun. The little girl wore a nightgown and was barefooted. The white man addressed him and requested permission to leave unmolested. He explained that he had had nothing to do with the trouble between the whites and Indians, and that his only wish was to reach friends on Camas Prairie, where he could have the girl cared for--she was wounded--and where he could get some food. Black Feather took pity on the man and child, but his companions were not feeling as charitable, and a heated discussion followed. Two Mornings wanted to shoot the white man, but Black Feather countered by asking the old warrior if he would be willing to care for the child once her guardian was dead, and the Indian relented. Finally the Nez Perce gave the refugees permission to leave, and, lifting the little girl into his arms, the white man departed. [17]

Patrick Brice had had some anxious moments while the Indians had debated his fate. But he had been without food for five days, and he had reached the end of his endurance. His anxiety and fear had taken a back seat to his hunger and fatigue, and of course Maggie Manuel's suffering had played heavily on the Irishman's sympathy and compassion. He had found the little girl in the thicket on Saturday morning. Her whimpering had drawn him to her hiding place. He had tried to comfort her as best he could: he had wrapped her in a blanket and fetched water for her, but she was sick in mind as well as in body, and his ministrations were only temporarily effective. She needed food and medical attention and quiet surroundings so that she could recuperate from the terrible shock of the past two days. Maggie had told Brice that during the night her mother had been stabbed to death by an Indian and that her baby brother had also been killed. Before he left for Mount Idaho, Brice entered the house and found it empty. Nor was there any sign of Popham, whom he believed to be somewhere in the vicinity.

Brice was so weakened from his ordeal that he had to stop frequently to rest. By the time that they were among the dead on the battlefield, Maggie had begun to realize that the real danger had passed, and she pointed out the fallen cavalrymen to Brice as he trudged along. Once they came upon a dead man who had been propped up by a thorn bush. His arms had been placed around the shrub so that he appeared to be hugging it, and the thorns held his clothing so that he continued to stand almost upright. A little later they discovered another man whose brains lay exposed. The upper part of the head had been severed, probably in a fall from a horse. [18]

By nightfall they reached the Harris ranch near the head of Rocky Canyon. All the doors and windows had been smashed in, and the house had been pillaged, but it provided the shelter they needed. Brice found some dry bread, bacon, tea, and sugar and prepared supper. He also discovered an empty dry goods box, which he fashioned into a chair in order to carry Maggie the rest of the way to the settlement. In the morning he strapped the apparatus to his back and the little girl scrambled aboard. They reached Mount Idaho on Monday evening. [19]

But there was one cavalryman who still lived on White Bird battlefield. He was 1st Sgt. Michael McCarthy of Company H. A few days after the fight occurred, McCarthy wrote an account of his adventures in his diary.

McCarthy's Account

After falling I lay still a few minutes as much to rest myself as [from] fear of attracting attention, for my legs from the knees down were so tired that even when I did move I had to trail them after me and draw myself along by my hands. I crawled down the bed of a branch [of a creek], wiggling like a snake so as not to disturb the top brush. The little creek had cut quite a deep channel, and in this channel I crawled down in the direction of the battlefield. After gaining about 100 yards in that direction unobserved, I lay perfectly still for about fifteen minutes, allowing the water to flow over my legs, and employing the time planning an escape. It was rather a difficult thing to attempt to leave the creek, for the hills were steep and bare upon both sides, and there was no doubt of there being Indians about. Shots, and some quite close, were heard at intervals and [also] that dreadful yell, which a couple of hours had rendered so familiar and, alas, so certain a precursor of death to many.

Not daring to leave the creek I retraced my steps, if crawling back again could be called retracing my steps. I succeeded in getting a short distance above where I had fallen, crawling over a bare spot and into a clump of rose bushes, when I heard the patter of a pony's hoofs on the road above me. Two young warriors returning from the pursuit rode past my hiding place. [They were] so close that I could almost touch the blankets trailing by their pony's side, which they had flung across their saddles. It didn't seem possible that they could avoid seeing me, but they did not [see me], and one of them said as he passed as if addressing me: "Now will shoot your horses," and they passed on. A squaw also mounted came galloping down the road, another following. The first calling the young warriors back and using the chinook [jargon],she told them there was a soldier in the bushes, and she pointed to where I fell, about 75 or a hundred yards below. She described me quite accurately, not even forgetting my stripes and chevrons. She had evidently seen me when I fell in and was watching my hiding place, but I had crawled away from the spot she watched, it seems, unobserved by her. I had also already taken off my coat and hat, fearing the color would betray me and believing that my gray shirt would harmonize more with the color of the rocks, and because I heard of such things being done by others.

I crouched down closer in the channel and managed to conceal the lower part of my body, [with] my head in the thickest part of the bush and my right hand resting on a rock with pistol cocked, determined to have a shot if discovered. I did seriously think of shooting myself and avoid being captured alive, but I found life too sweet to commit suicide. But I was again lucky; the young warriors after firing a couple of shots, as I supposed in the bushes near where I fell, passed on. This gave me hope. I had already escaped death--almost certain death....3 times that morning.

But as I am flattering myself that they have given up the search, my two squaw friends, accompanied an old man, came riding up the road, passed by, and, arriving at the head of the branch 50 yards above me, came down again, riding in single file and peering into the brush as they went along. I could look into their faces as they leant [sic] down toward the bush in which I was concealed, and I could, if I so wished, grasp the muzzle of the old smoothbore musket that the old reprobate carried, did I dare not make a motion. But keeping him covered and trusting to my miraculous luck, I lay motionless, holding my breath and trying to stifle even the beatings of my heart. It didn't seem possible that I, who can seen even the whites of their eyes [and] note every detail of their dress, could myself remain invisible, but these three vicious pairs of eyes with all their Indian acuteness again pass me unobserved, and they disappear down the road. In a few minutes the squaw so eager to find me rides back again up the road and stops a little above me, where the bushes end and the road bends to the right. I lay still a few minutes and looked at my watch. It is half past six. I must be nearly an hour in the creek.

After mature deliberation, as the Courtsmartial say, I determined to take up the steep hill behind me and, if necessary, fight for my life. I am led to this step by reflecting that, when all the warriors return, they will search the creek thoroughly, if for nothing else [than] for arms and ammunition; and again I will not . . . by taking the hill encounter many, for it is on the other side that they have been fighting; and again I am convinced that I am going to get out all right. This impression has been upon me from the first. So [I begin] stripping off my boots; they are very long a heavy and would impede my movements. My limbs by this time, and through immersion no doubt, are as supple as ever. Rising in the top of the bushes, I take a look down the road and over the opposite hill and see no one stirring.

I commenced creeping up the hill that rises on the right hand as one goes into the canyon. [After] arriving at a little bench 1/2 half way up and I lay flat, pause for breath, and still see no one moving. Another burst and I reach the top. Looking down to where I crawled out of, about 50 yards above [I] see my lady friend lying on a buffalo robe and her pony grazing by her side. They make a very pretty picture. She was steeped in reverie. Perhaps she was thinking of her lover, for she was quite young, or more likely she was enjoying in anticipation the delights of cutting my humble self in the artistic manner practised by her race.

I turned my eyes in another direction. In the direction taken by the retreating troops and on a hill overlooking the prairie, I saw a mounted Indian sitting stationary on his horse; he is fully 500 yards distant. Back of me rose another hill upon which were growing pine trees, the advance guard of the forest around Mt. Idaho. Below and to the left was the battlefield in full view. It looked so still, not a soul moving on its surface. I looked along the ravines that run back to the woods and to the creek, expecting to see some other unfortunate trying to escape, and although I was so placed that no movement could escape me, I saw none. All below me must have ere this been dispatched, and it was barely two hours since the first shot was fired. How many there were I could only guess. I knew of a least 20.

I lay still and again deliberated. My last venture was a success, which I must not [im]peril. The woods were not only three quarters of a mile behind, but approach was uncovered and in plain view of my guard, and the mounted vidette, and also any straggler that may be prowling around promi[s]c[u]ously, and I can see an occasional red blanket among a band of horses, about a mile distant. Those not fighting are gathering up the band stampeded when the fight commenced. Rolling along, as we used to do when children [I rolled] around the brow of the hill, and into another ravine that led up to the timber about a mile back. I succeeded at last in reaching it [the timber] after hours of rolling, crawling and occasionally running when there was cover. Reaching the timber, I started quickly into the thickest brush I could find, jumping dead logs like a deer, and over stumps and thorny brush in my barefeet. I made my way for a couple of miles; and, climbing into a tall fir tree, hid myself in its branches; and, notwithstanding the troubles still ahead, felt inclined to be quite jolly. I had certainly cause for congratulations. I had made not only one but a wonderful series of escapes. It was assuredly stranger than fiction.

About noon--my hiding place being in the shade--I became quite chilled. My wet clothes became uncomfortable, and my feet pained me. I was also getting hungry. I crawled down from my perch and selecting a little opening, where the sun shone and where there were some ferns and dead logs, I lay down close to a log and broke some of the ferns over me. A person passing would have to make a considerable detour to avoid the logs, and the ferns would conceal me from any casual observer. In making my dispositions, I observed that so rank was the growth of weeds that they completely covered parts of the decaying trees and branches scattered in the opening and would therefore conceal me. By that time I had acquired confidence in my judgement, so fortunate and well timed had been all my previous dispositions and movements. Lying among the ferns, the beautiful sunshine like some benificent deity shone down upon me, warming my chilled members, and overcome by all that I passed through, and with a prayer of Thankfulness to the good God who had vouchsafed to me such a wonderful deliverance from death, I fell asleep and slept until late in the afternoon.

When I woke my watch had run down; it had stopped at near 7 o 'clock, but the sun was already down. I started for the edge of the timber. The moon was nearly full, and it was light when I left the woods. In going to White Bird, we travelled by night, and, what with the dust and excitement etc., I did not take much note of the direction in which we were going. In returning now my only guide was Mount Idaho. Looking across the prairie, I thought I perceived it; the shape was just as I remembered see[ing] [it] in Mt. Idaho the day before, so I took the mountain for my guide. Over the stones and shingle on which I was travelling, my pace was dreadfully slow by reason of my bare feet, and once I came near treading on a rattlesnake. Halting I took off my drawers, tore the legs apart, and, binding a leg around each foot, l drew the now footless stockings over them to keep them in place. This was better, but the stones still hurt.

About midnight I reached Rocky Canyon, near the Camp the Indians left when they broke out. Rocky Canyon forms here a sort of Horseshoe Bend. Of this, however, I knew nothing at the time, or it would have spared me a night's march. Coming to the edge, I just glanced at my guide, the mountain, and, taking a point of direction on the opposite side of the Canyon, I crawled down the side. When I reached the bottom, I commenced looking for a road, but, not finding any, or recognizing any familiar feature, and observing the walls were very much higher, I crossed over and reached the other side. A few hundred yards brought me to another Canyon, as I supposed, and, again looking to my guide for inspiration, I prepared to descend. Down a grassy slope, I slid on my back, or rolled over and over on my side, anything to spare my feet, but this spur of the Canyon was of immense depth, and at the bottom pitch dark. In endeavoring to cross the stream running through it, I wetted myself to the waist, and my shirt was already wet from rolling in the grass with the heavy dew. Crawling up the opposite side, I crept into some brush and lay down, utterly exhausted and faint for food.

About noon I commenced to climb to the top. I found some wild berries on my way up. It took me nearly three hours to get to top. I had to rest every few yards and also to make considerable detours to take advantage of cover, for I was yet only a few miles from the woods I left the day before. I could see several miles around.

My intention was at first to hide until dark in some bushes at the top, but, seeing nothing suspicious, I determined to strike out and try and reach some ranch before my strength failed. My long fast and the great exertions I was compelled to make made me very weak, and my senses were commencing to wander. The wrappings on my feet were also worn to pieces and my feet sore. The hillside was composed of sharp shingly stones, and they cut me pretty badly. I was, in fact, a mass of bruises from tumbling, and rolling, and the other modes of progression I had to adopt in leaving White Bird and crossing Rocky Canõn. Singing snatches of all the songs I could remember, to keep up my courage, I plodded along with my head down, throwing myself flat on the ground every three or four hundred yards to rest.

After travelling about 3 miles this way I took a survey of the country. I did not seem to be making much headway. My point of direction, the mountain, did not appear to be getting nearer. Looking back and to the right where I left the woods, l was surprised to see the country assume precisely the shape of the mountain opposite, and I was more surprised when I saw so some ranches at the foot of it about 10 miles distant. Both mountains looked alike, but I now saw that I had all the time been travelling away from Mount Idaho and towards Craigs Mountain, on the side of the prairie by which we came in the morning of the 16th inst. I was, when I discovered my mistake inclined to continue on to Cottonwood, to Norton 's Ranch, but on reflection thought it would be best to go to Mt. Idaho, or rather Grangeville, where I would probably find what was left of our people. Grangeville lay at right angles to the direction I had been pursuing, but there was a ranch, which I must have passed the night previous, almost directly behind me and much nearer, so I retraced my steps towards the ranch, passing around the head of the Rocky Canyon.

About 3 o'clock in the morning, I reached the ranch. Crawling into a field of young wheat, I lay down and commenced eating it, tops and all. The ears were just beginning to form. This feast of green wheat was very grateful to my empty stomach, and I felt better for it. Some wheat straw was stacked in the field. Into this I crawled, burying myself in the straw, and I slept about two hours. I woke chilled to the bone, my wet clothes covered with hoar frost. The night had been very cold, and there was frost on the ground, but my green wheat breakfast had strengthened me wonderfully.

I went to the house, found things thrown around as if the people had left in a hurry. A pair of miner's rubber boots and an old pair of stockings lying by the side of the bed took my attention. They were just the things I wanted, so I took possession of them and put them on. In searching the kitchen, I found two small pieces of baked mutton, about a pound, and took that also. There was no other food visible, and I did not care to hang around the house long or make any minute search. A stray party of Indians might surprise me.

Leaving the house, I travelled along the road when I could see far enough ahead so as not run against any stragglers, keeping close into the fence, or going through the fields. When approaching a hill of clump of bushes, I always took the fields, among the tall wheat, the better to conceal my movements. I could travel now in good style, with my rubber boots and occasionally took a run, when I could do so safely.

I approached within five miles of Grangeville when suspicious movements among some cattle took my attention, and I took to the fields and lay down for about half an hour but could see nothing. In front of me rose a little rise, concealing from my view all beyond. Towards this I now moved cautiously. Near the top I heard several people shouting as if driving stock but could not see anybody. They, whoever they were, were at the other side of the hill. I ran back a short distance, crawled into a dry ditch and piled stones around me as a barricade and waited further developments.

Directly I heard the sound of wagon wheels on the other side and then knew that they were white people whom I had heard. I came out of my entrenchment, and ran towards them, shouting and waving my pocket handkerchief. A mounted man came to meet me and shook hands. When l told him I was the First Sergeant of Company "H," he was surprised and said: "All the men said you were killed, several said they saw the Indians killing you." I said: "I am not dead just yet, but I am terribly hungry." He made me mount his horse, and we went towards Grangeville. Near Grangeville I told him to get on, and we would ride double, and in this manner we came into camp.

My advent was quite a sensation. I had to do considerable hand shaking and answer innumerable questions. Everybody was wonderfully surprised, so certain appeared my death, and I was examined all over for wounds, but nothing worse than a scratched face and sore feet was discernible. Somebody gave me some canned oysters. I eat [sic.] two cans, and I would be ashamed to record the amount of meat and bread, but it was enormous, and I turned into Sergeant Baird's bed and went to sleep. Orders were given that I was not to be disturbed and I slept until afternoon, and woke almost as well as ever. My constitution had stood the great strain upon it wonderfully well. [20]

The morning after the battle, Rainbow, Five Wounds, and a small party of warriors rode into the Indian camp; they had just returned from hunting buffalo in Montana. Their arrival was cause for rejoicing, because the men were experienced in matters of war, and the people looked to them for advice and leadership. The fighting Indians joined the chiefs and elders in council to determine the fate of the prisoners and to plan the next move. [21]

The chiefs decided to give the captured Nez Perce their freedom, but promised them that if they helped the soldiers again, they would be caught and whipped with hazel switches. Yuwishakaikt left immediately and rode a horse to death before he reached Fort Lapwai on June 19. [22] Joe Albert also returned to his home, [23] but Robert Minthon decided to remain with the nontreaty bands. Days later, when the caravan reached Kamiah, he took his leave and returned to his people. [24]

The men spent the next hours in careful deliberation. Obviously the blue coats would return in force before too many suns had gone to sleep, and the Nez Perce did not want to fight them unless it was necessary. Rainbow and Five Wounds had a plan, and it satisfied the majority. They proposed removal to the opposite bank of the Salmon River, where they could find shelter in the mountains. If the soldiers chose to follow them, they could double back and recross the stream at another place. They knew that white men had an inordinate amount of trouble in crossing rivers, and they could lead Cut Arm and his men on a merry chase. When the time came to fight, they would fight. [25]

Later in the day, the women broke camp, and the village moved up the Salmon River to Horseshoe Bend. There was a good crossing place nearby. The fortified settlers at Slate Creek noticed the activity and feared that their time had come, but later some of the Nez Perce came to talk with them under a flag of truce. They were friendly. The Indians told them about the battle with the soldiers and related a number of incidents connected with it. A few of the Nez Perce owed small amounts to John Wood for articles purchased in his store, and, because of the uncertain future, many of them paid their debts. While the Indians were talking, Tolo came out of the stockade and upbraided them for killing her friends and told them that she intended to stay with the whites. H. W. Cone heard one of the Indians say that Mrs. Manuel had been killed by a warrior who had had too much bad whiskey. [26]

On June 19, the Nez Perce crossed the river. They had only one canoe, but they were able to fashion a number of seaworthy vessels out of buffalo skins and willows. They were circular in shape, and the men hitched two, three, or four horses to them, depending on the size of the craft. Tepee covers, cooking pots, pans, blankets, and the rest of the red man's paraphernalia filled the boats. Women, children, and old people climbed to the tops of the piles, and the ponies plunged into the swift current. Warriors swam on either side of the boats to steady them, and they reached the opposite bank without incident. Thirty warriors remained behind. Their mission was to watch for the soldiers on Camas Prairie. [27]

After Michael McCarthy awoke on the morning of June 20, he decided to see if he could do something about replacing his footwear. The rubber miner's boots had served him well, but he needed something sturdier to see him through the campaign that he knew would follow. In Mount Idaho he found what he needed. As a patriotic gesture, storekeeper Rudolph presented the veteran with a pair of good boots, a hat, and a pair of gloves. [28]

The thought of the fate of those left behind lay heavily on the minds of the men and the settlers. Among those still missing and presumed dead were Lieutenant Theller, Corporal Lee, Corporal Curran, Trumpeter Marshall, Saddler Galvin, and Privates Crawford, Edwards, Kavanagh, Morrisey, Murphy, Nielson, Shea, Simpson, and Werner of Company H, and Sergeant Gunn, Sergeant Ryan, Corporal Fuller, Corporal Thompson, Trumpeter Jones, and Privates Armstrong, Blaine, Burch, Colbert, Connolly, Dauch, Donne, Hurlbert, Lewis, Liston, Martin, Mosforth, Quinlan, Schullein, Shaw, Sullivan, and White of Company F. [29] In order to ascertain the condition and disposition of the dead, the citizens approached Captain Perry to determine if he would be willing to accompany a scouting party to the battlefield. The officer agreed to support the movement, and, on the morning of June 21, the reconnaissance party left Grangeville and marched toward the scene of disaster. A large body of citizens led the expedition, and most of the remnant of Perry's force followed.

En route they passed a wounded horse and discovered the body of one unfortunate cavalryman. Teams designated by Perry visited outlying ranches as they moved forward and collected items of value. They saw nothing of the hostiles on the prairie or in the foothills.

At Johnson's ranch, Perry halted his men. As previously agreed, the citizens continued forward and apparently reached the head of White Bird Canyon. Along the way they encountered two Chinese who had just passed through the Indian camp. The men had not been molested. They erroneously reported that the Nez Perce had lost several warriors in the battle. Completing their reconnaissance, the volunteers returned to Perry's camp, and the party moved back to Grangeville, reaching it before dark. After reinforcements arrived, they would have the strength they needed to make a careful search of the battleground. [30]

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Last Updated: 09-Mar-2003