After U.S. troops had spent a bitterly cold winter in the Walla Walla Valley, more than 300 men of the 1st Oregon Volunteers, under the command of Colonel Thomas Cornelius, were determined to go after the Walla Walla and Palouse Indians. Though ill-supplied, the troops moved north on March 9, 1856. On March 13th, they reached the Snake River at the Palouse village of Tasawicks, which was located about 25 miles upstream from its junction with the Columbia River. Most of the Palouse fled as the volunteers crossed the river in boats.
However, an advance guard killed four older Palouse men who could not keep up with the rest. The volunteers then captured two women and a small boy, whom they named Thomas after their commander. It would be Cornelius’ only “victory” of the campaign.