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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1855
([1855])

[Indians of Washington and Oregon territories],   pp. 192-195 PDF (1.5 MB)


Page 193

COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. 
culation, deeming that from them you will obtain the most full and 
complete account of the existing state of Indian affairs in this quarter.
I regret to inform the department of the death of Sub-agent Bolen; 
the particulars of his death are contained in a letter from General Pal-
mer to myself, a copy of which is herewith enclosed. Mr. Bolen was 
a most excellent and efficient agent. The Indian service has lost an 
officer not easily to be replaced. He has fallen fearlessly in the dis- 
charge of his duty, and it is to be hoped will be amply avenged. 
While in camp in the Spokane country, awaiting the return of Gov- 
ernor Stevens from the Blackfeet council, he was informed by Spokane 
Garry, the chief of the Spokanes, that the Yakimas had killed eight 
white men on their way to the Pend' Oreille mines, and that they 
intended to wage war against the whites; he determined immediately 
to proceed to the Yakima country and ascertain the truth of the re- 
ports. He accordingly proceeded to the Dalles, and on Tuesday, Sep- 
tember 18, left for the Catholic mission in the Yakima, since which 
nothing was heard from him till the news of his death was brought in 
by an Indian dispatched by Agent Olney of Oregon to ascertain his 
fate. 
As soon as information arrived of the hostility of the Indians, acting 
Governor Mason made a requisition on the military posts at Steila- 
coom and Vancouver for troops at once to be put in the field to quell 
the disturbance. Captain Malony, the commanding officer at Steila- 
coom, at once dispatched Lieutenant Slaughter with a force of 50 
men. Major Rains, commanding at Fort Vancouver, sent orders to 
Major Haller, at the Dalles, who promptly left with a command of 
190 men and a mountain howitzer for the scene of hostilities. Lieu- 
tenant Slaughter will cross the Cascade mountains by the Nah Chess 
pass, and unite with Major Haller. It is to be hoped that the force 
will prove sufficiently strong to inflict a severe punishment upon the 
Indians, and thus check the war at the outstart. Should such not be 
the case, it is much to be apprehended that they will be joined by a 
large portion of the Walla-Wallas, Pelouses, and Conguses, all of 
whom are turbulent. 
The Yakimas and Clickatats, from all the information that can be 
obtained, have at present in the field about six hundred warriors. 
It is only by the most active and energetic measures that a pro- 
tracted Indian war will be prevented. The settlers in every direction 
are alarmed ; the whole country is in a state of extreme excitement. 
I shall dispatch an express tomorrow to Governor Stevens, to inform 
him of the state of affairs. I regret his absence, as his thorough know-
ledge of the Indians, his great influence over them, and his untiring 
energy, would be of much service in the present crisis. 
I attribute the cause of the outbreaks amongst the Yakimas and 
Clickatats to the rumors that have been afloat, and obtained credence 
amongst the Indians, that Governor Stevens and his party had been 
massacred by the Blackfeet, and Major Haller and his command had 
been defeated by the Snakes, in his recent expedition against them. 
Believing that the whites were about to be overthrown in. every direc- 
tion, and having for some time been disaffected towards them, they 
deemed that the proper moment had arrived to gratify their enmity. 
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193 


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