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Miles, Nelson Appleton, 1839-1925 / Personal recollections and observations of General Nelson A. Miles embracing a brief view of the Civil War, or, From New England to the Golden Gate: and the story of his Indian campaigns, with comments on the exploration, development and progress of our great western empire
(1896)

Chapter XX. The Nez PercĂ© campaign,   pp. 259-269 ff. PDF (4.7 MB)


Page 259


GENERAL NELSON A. MILES.
                            CHAPTER XX.
                       THE NEZ PERCI   CAMPAIGN
CHARACTER OF THE NEz PERCIES - THE WALLOWA VALLEY - CHIEF JOSEPH - How THE
WAR WAS
   BEGUN - HOWARD AND GIBBON'S CAMPAIGNS - PREPARATIONS FOR THE MOVEMENT
-
          THE TROOPS DETAILED - THE INDIAN ALLIES -- BRINGING A STEAMER
             - THE RECALL - CAPTAIN BALDWIN - A FORCED MARCH -
           MAUS AND THE BEAR -A CHANGE OF COSTUME.
HILE these operations were being carried on, information was
received through unofficial reports and newspaper accounts
of threatened hostilities on the part of the Nez Perce Indians
in Idaho.
    These Indians had lived from time immemorial in Idaho; and
 up to that time it had been their boast that no Nez Perce had
        ever taken the life of a white man, though it could not be said
that no white man had ever killed a Nez Perce. From our first acquaint-
ance with them through the expedition of Lewis and Clark, they had
been exceedingly friendly to white explorers and settlers, yet the old
story of a desire on the part of the white people to occupy Indian land
caused the serious trouble that occurred during that year, followed by
the usual result.  They were occupants of the Wallowa Valley. By
treaty this land had been given to them as a part of their reservation,
and they were opposed to the surrender of it. They were in comfortable
circumstances, having herds of cattle and plenty of horses. A deter-
mined effort was made by interested whites to make them surrender the
contested ground, and the prominent chiefs, including Looking Glass and
Chief Joseph, opposed it.
   Chief Joseph told me afterward that his father, before his death, called
him to his bedside and counseled him never to sign a treaty giving up the
Wallowa Valley. Faithful to the dying injunction of his father he never
did consent to part with that bit of territory, but the whites were deter-
mined to occupy it and they had enough influence at Washington to have
a commission sent to demand the surrender of this territory, and, when
that was not complied with, to have a body of troops sent to remove the;
259


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