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Washington Indian Wars - Page 4

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White River Massacre (October 28, 1855) - In late 1855, conflict between the Indians east of the Cascade Mountains and American soldiers and settlers spilled over the mountain passes, igniting what has come to be known as the Puget Sound Indian War. Ignoring tribal tensions, settlers continued to move into the area. Disturbed by the continuing disregard for their lands, the White River Indians attacked several settlers in the area on October 28, 1855. At about 8:00 a.m. the Indians began an attack, killing three families -- nine people, in all.

 

Harvey H. Jones and his wife were killed, but their three children were spared. According to historical accounts, after the two were killed, the house was burned to the ground. Harvey Jones, who was sick at the time, was found burned in his bed. His wife was found lying near the house, shot through the lower part of the lungs and her face and jaw horribly broken, mutilated apparently, with the head of an ax. The three children included Mrs. Jones 7 year-old son from a previous marriage, named Johnnie King, who would later tell that an Indian named Nelson snapped his gun at them three times; but, when it wouldn't go off, told them to go and they were later saved. Enos Cooper, who was working for the Jones family, was also killed. His body was found about 150 years from the house, killed by a shot through the chest. Neighbors buried the three bodies near their burned down home.

 

About a mile from the Jones home, the Will H. Brannan family was also attacked. He, his wife, and baby were all killed. Mr. Brannon's body was found in the house and his body was cut to pieces. Mrs. Brannan's dead body was found in the well with her baby in her arms. She had been stabbed in the heart and in the back of the head.

 

A third family - that of George E. King, his wife and two children were also attacked and the parents killed. Mrs. King's body was found cut open with one breast cut off, and Mr. King was found burned up in the home. Their two children, including a baby were kidnapped. The son, named George King, Jr. was brought to Seattle the following spring; having been well cared for by an Indian called "Spoon Bill." However, the baby was never recovered.

 

Another man, whose name remains unknown, was also killed the same day. An attack was also made on the home of a Mr. Cox. There, a man named Joseph Lake was wounded, but not seriously. Cox, with his wife and Lake, escaped, alarming the family of Moses Kirkland, who also escaped.


Raids and skirmished would continue for the next six months until the Cascades Massacre in March, 1856. In the meantime, these months would become known as the period of the blockhouses, as these log forts sprang up across the landscape of the southern Puget Sound.

 

White River/Puyallup River (November 4-7, 1855) - In early November, two groups of soldiers  planned attacks against the Indians to punish them for the defeat of Major Haller. From Fort Dalles, Major Gabriel J. Rains led an expedition of 370 men to the Yakima Valley where he found Chief Kamiakan leading a force of Yakama warriors well-placed on the crest of a hill. The army bombarded the Indians with cannon fire for several hours and then Major Rains ordered Captain Ferdinand Augur to charge the hill. Augur was able to drive off the Indians and they scattered. Major Rains and his troops did not pursue them.

 

In the meantime, another column of about 100 volunteer soldiers led by Captain Maurice Maloney, had been organized in the Puget Sound area. Approaching the Indians from west of the Cascades, the troops marched east up the White River, but he found his route over the Cascades blocked with snow.

 

As they retreated, about 150 warriors of the Puyallup, Nisqually, and Squaxon  pursued and confronted them. After a daylong fight, the Indians pulled back, but the soldiers followed them to the Puyallup River. The action continued for another day or two, until the Indians finally broke off. In the various confrontations, the Indians had about 30 casualties and in Captain Maloney's group, 22 were killed and three wounded.

 

Battle of Union Gap, aka: Twin Buttes (November 9-10, 1855) - Just a few days after the skirmish in the Yakima Valley, Major Gabriel Rains and his troops discovered Chief Kamiakin's village of around 300 braves and several women and children, encamped along the Yakima River. For two days, a battle was waged while the women and children were able to escape across the icy Columbia River. Though the skirmish lasted for two days, only one soldier was killed. In the end, the Yakama warriors were forced to retreat. Chief Kamiakan then gathered all his people and led them to White Bluffs on the Columbia River

 
 

 

Yakama Chief KamiakinSaint Joseph's Mission at Ahtanum Creek (November 15, 1855) - The Saint Joseph's Catholic Mission was founded at the Yakama summer camp in the Yakima Valley in April, 1852, at Yakama Chief Kamiakinís request. For several years, the priests and the Yakama worked side by side to dig primitive irrigation canals, and raised various crops. Relations with the Catholic Fathers were sufficiently warm that Chief Kamiakin brought his children to the mission to be baptized into the Catholic faith. Other Yakama people soon followed. Yakama children also attended school at the mission and one Father compiled a dictionary in the Yakama language. On November 14, 1855, faced with advancing U.S. soldiers, both the missionaries and Indian families fled, as Yakima warriors protected their retreat. The next day, on November 15th, Major Gabriel Rains and his troops arrived at the mission grounds. After the soldiers discovered a cask of gunpowder buried in the missionariesí garden, they assumed the Catholic Fathers were aiding the Yakama in their struggle with the soldiers. They then set fire to the mission and burned it to the ground. The destruction of other Catholic missions throughout the Yakama region soon followed.

 

 

 

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