Chief Looking Glass had originally opposed the 1863 treaty and certainly sympathized with the bands that had been dispossessed of their land. Unfortunately, General Howard did not trust that Looking Glass would remain neutral. Howard ordered Captain Stephen Whipple and two companies of men from the First US Cavalry to arrest Looking Glass.
Captain Whipple arrived at the Looking Glass camp on the middle fork of the Clearwater River on July 1, 1877. Looking Glass was not interested in negotiating with Whipple and told him to go away. Regardless of the band's wishes, Whipple attacked the camp. The troopers attacked the village, killing several Nez Perce but failing to arrest Looking Glass. The Nez Perce fled and the soldiers burned the village.
Looking Glass was enraged and joined the bands headed east. Familiar with Buffalo country and a skilled warrior, Looking Glass provided invaluable assistance to the Nez Perce headed to Montana. All Howard accomplished was further complicating a situation that could have been avoided.