War of the Rebellion: Serial 106 Page 0207 Chapter LXII. CORRESPONDENCE - UNION AND CONFEDERATE.

Search Civil War Official Records

man of integrity, who will take an interest in securing so far as practicable the rights of those Indians. Their whole history, from their earliest contact with the Americans, has been signalized by their fidelity to the whole white race, especially to us, the other tribes having rather called themselves "King George Indians" before the boundary line was run.

In every war they have indignantly refused to join those tribes, and sometimes fighting on our side, as in 1858, when we promised in return to aid them in future against their enemies. Two years ago the stream of gold-seekers began to invade their country. I shall not attempt to portray the number and nature of the outrages to which this faithful tribe has accordingly been subjected. With no evidence of any adequate fulfillment of the old treaty, the tribe is agitated with the prospect of being invited to form a new treaty, provision for making one being made at the recent session of Congress. They learn that the whites are clamorous to get possession as well of their farming and grazing as of the gold-mining regions. Vile rebel sympathizers, of the lowest class of gamblers, outlaws, and land pirates, such as always haunt and Indian frontier, have infested the reservation and instilled poisonous words into their ears, such as representing that the power of our Government was gone, &c. I doubt not that a few such vagabonds have sought to hatch a revolt. The signal was to have been any great reverse at the East, as the capture of Washington or Baltimore. The object was nothing but plunder, pillage, and robbery in the midst of the disorder. On the 30th of September I sent the instructions, a copy of which is herevith inclosed,* to Major Rinearson, but he has been unable to obtain sufficient testimory upon which to found any action.

As the Nez Perces had in their own recent experience too much reason to regard the power of our Government a myth, the fiendish plotters might have supposed that they had ready prepared for them a congenial soil upon which to operate. Fortunately the Nez Perces' fidelity has been able to withstand even all this unwonted array of temptation; the two murders had occurred, one on the 10th and the other on the 11th of October. These the whites attributed to an intention to make war. The imputation, even if untrue, was callculated to excite and irritate. To crown all, the military force which has been at Camp Lapwai this summer was about to be withdrawn for the winter. As they afforded the Nez Perces their only protection against trespasses, outrages, and whisky-selling, you can readily imagine the disturbed and dissatisfied condition of the tribe on my arrival. I reached Fort Walla Walla on the 19th and met there the letter of the Indian agent, herewith inclosed, and the proceedings of the mass-meeting of citizens of Lewiston, both on the subject of additional force being ordered to the reservation.

I immediately ordered forward Captain Knox's company to Fort Lapwai, and directed also Captain Thompson's company (A) of Washington Territory volunteers to go thither on the arrival of Lieutenant-Colonel Maury's command. But I subsequently (on the 28th) countermanded the order for the last-named company. I placed all the troops (as see in accompanying General Orders, Numbers 15) upon the Nez Perce Reservation and at Fort Walla Walla under the command of Colonel Steinberger, with authority to move them to and fro, according to the demands of the public service. This is eminently proper, as the winter may soon cut off all communication with these headquarters for a long period of time. On reaching Camp Lapwai, on the 23d, I found that in


* See p. 142.