Clearwater Battlefield History

In the weeks following the Battle at White Bird, General Oliver O. Howard pursued the Nez Perce across the Reservation. After crossing two rivers, the Salmon and the South fork of the Clearwater, the General caught up with them. On July 11, 1877, Howard crossed the South Fork of the Clearwater above the Nez Perce camp hoping to take it by surprise. Alert Nez Perce, however, foiled his plan and the first day's fighting came to a draw.

On July 12, Howard used infantry, cavalry, and artillery to gain the upper hand. In the face of this force, the Nez Perce began to slowly withdraw towards Kamiah. While Howard captured their camp and a great deal of supplies, he did not aggressively pursue the Nez Perce. They went north to Kamiah and began to head east, over the Lolo Trail to western Montana.

Please note: The battlefield is on private property and is not accessible. There is a historical marker located on Highway 13 south of Stites, Idaho that tells the story of the battle.

Learn more about what happened next by following the links below.

A mountain hillside filled with conifer trees.
Lolo Trail and Pass History

Looking for safety in Montana in late July of 1877, the Nez Perce followed the same trail used by Lewis and Clark in 1805 and 1806.

Painting depicting soldiers and Nez Perce warriors in battle.
The Nez Perce Flight of 1877

In 1877, the non-treaty Nez Perce were forced on a 126-day journey that spanned over 1,170 miles and through four different states.

Last updated: December 30, 2022

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Mailing Address:

Nez Perce National Historical Park
39063 US Hwy 95

Lapwai, ID 83540-9715


208 843-7001

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