Joseph Lane.

A statement of the facts, pertaining to the proclamation of martial law over Pierce County, W.T., by Gov. Isaac I. Stevens and the proceedings of the court martial in the attempt to try citizens for treason, containing the governor's vindication and the trial and discharge of these citizens online

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Online LibraryJoseph LaneA statement of the facts, pertaining to the proclamation of martial law over Pierce County, W.T., by Gov. Isaac I. Stevens and the proceedings of the court martial in the attempt to try citizens for treason, containing the governor's vindication and the trial and discharge of these citizens → online text (page 1 of 3)
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Several persons in Pierce county W. T. were arrested by order
of Gov. Isaac 1. Stevens. A part of these persons he ordered to be
tried by a Court Martial, composed of Volunteer Officers, on a charge of
treason, but failing in this, a complaint was made to the civil
authority and the persons so complained of have been examined and dis
charged, nothing being found against them. v

Notwithstanding their discharge, certain persons still continue, to do
the accused parties injustice, it is therefore determined to give the facts
in the case, with the proceeding of both courts, that every one may have
an opportunity to judge for himself, as to the guilt or innocence of tho
accuse^, and of the propriety or impropriety of proclaiming Martial lawj
Not disposed to do the Gov. the least injustice, his vindication for his
course will be found in this paper.





On the 9th day of March, Isaac W. Smith, acting Secretary of the Ter
ritory by order of Gov. Stevens proceeded to older L. A. Smith, John
McLeod, Charles Wren and others in their vicinity, to leave their claims
and reside either at Olympia, Nisqually or Steilacoom. McLeod,
whose team had been pressed into the service, was consequently absent
at the time, Mr. Sec. Smith, sent him a written order to the same effect.

After a hasty preparation, these persons moved to Steilacoom, on the
12th, leaving most of their property exposed to destruction, by whoever
might chance to find it. After remaining several days in the village,
Mr. Murry, one of those who had been ordered in, wrote to Go-v. Ste
vens ibr permission to g:> home for a loa \ of provision, but received no
answtr. All the proscribed persons, aA r are of the communication hav
ing been sent, were awaiting the result, until convinced that no answer
would be given, de'ermined to go without the permit. Mr. L. A. Smith,
who had a large quantity of potatoes, h-arning that they were being de
stroyed, con ti acted them at much less than their current value^ and went
to his claim, expecting the teams there next day to take them away.
The contracting parties on their way out, hearing that Smith's property
had been destroyed, turned back, and the next day Smith was arrested.
The same day Charles Wren who contracted his grain to the local In
dian agent at Steilacoom, for the use of the department, was arrested
immediately upon his arrival at home. John McLeod bearing the fol
lowing letter was arrested the same day.
41 To the Commander of Volunteer companies, Pierce county W. T.

Mr John McLeod having made an agreement with me for the quantity of
wheat he has on hand, the wheat being for the use of the friendly Indians, on
the Steilacoom reserve, and it being required as soon as he can thrash the
wheat and bring it to mill, you will therefore please render him such assistance
as you possibly can, as*it is absolutely necessary. SAMUEL McCxw.

Steilacoom March Zoi/i 1850. Spec. Ind. Agt."

The following day, Henry Murry and Peter Wilson went to camp
McLeod, to obtain permission, if possible, of the Commander of the
Volunteer forces at that place, to go homo for a load of provisions, were
arrested immediately upon their arrival at camp and placed under guard.

McLeod, Wren, John McPhail, L. A. Smith and Henry Smith, were
taken immediately to Olympia before the Governor, who ordered them
to be taken to i^t. Steilacoom, with a request to Col. Casey, to place
them in close Confinememt and there retain them until the close of the
war or until he should summon a Military Commission or Court Mar
tial, to try them.

The next day after their arrest, Murry and Wilson were taken to
Olympia, and after four days had elapsed, were granted an interview
with the Governor. A few days after, at the solicitation of Dr. J. B.
Webber, the following permit was given them :

Messrs. Murry and Wilson, have permission to go to Steilacoom, Dr. Web
ber agreeing to be responsible for their remaining there. They will not be al-
t:o 1$VY$ Steilacoom, except under a permit, signed by me.

ISAAC I STEVENS Gov. and Coin'd.-iu-ChieC'

This order Mid permit, have not, up to tin's date, been revo ked, ar.d
Messrs. Marry and Wilson, are still prisoners, although they have not
been charged with anything. Mr. McPhail and Henry Smith have r.l-
8O, without charges being preferred against them, been retained as pris
oners, allowed however, with a written permit, to return to Steiia-
eoom on parole.

About the middle of April, Mr. Murry again addressed a note to the
Gov., for permission to go home for provisions and was refused.

The prisoners who were confined in the guard house at Ft. Steila
coom, made application to Judge F. A. Chenoweth, for a writ of Habeas
Corpus, whereupon Gov. Stevens declared Martial Law. (xcc last page.)

Finding that Col. Casey would not refuse to obey the civil Jaw, and
that the prisoners would be given up upon the service of the writ, Gov .
Stevens removed them again to Olyrnpia.

At the time appointed by law for holding" the U. S. District Court
for Pierce county, Judge F. A. Chenoweth was unable, from severe ill
ness, to attend, and made a written request to Chief J ustice Lander, to
hold the said court in his stead. Judge Lander arrived at Steilacoom
on the 5th day of May and finding that he would be forcibly prevented
from holding court and being desirous to prevent a collision between
the civil authorities and the volunteers, adjourned court until Wednes
day the 7th, for the purpose of writing to the Governor and inducing
him to revoke martia \ law. The Governor however refused to do
*o, and sought to instruct Judge Lander, that he might adjourn from
any time until the next term of the court.

Judge Lander, conceiving he had done his duty, proceeded to the Court
House and opened court in due form, and caused the Grand Jury to be *
empanelled and qualified. During this time, the court was interrupted
by Lieut. Col. Shaw warning the Judge that he had orders to arrest
him,*to which the Judge made no reply, but directed the Dept. U. S.
Marshal to enforce order in court and prevent any armed men (there
being some twenty in the house and about forty without) from entering
inside the bar. Col. Shaw still persisting in his intention and the Dpty .
Marshal being unable to prevent their entry without the assistance of a
posse ^ which the Judge refused to call, to prevent the effusion of blood)
the clerk was ordered to record a fine of one hundred dollars against
every man who came inside the bar with arms in his hands. The Grand
Jury were also directed to retire to their room, and have not yet been
discharged. Finding that Judge Lander could not be intimidated into
submission, the volunteers under orders of Lieut. Col. Shaw, proceeded
to force him from his seat, and the Clerk, John M. Chapman from his
desk and taking both under an armed force, to Oiympia, to answer be
fore Gov Stevens for disobeying his edicts.

After two or three days,. the clerk was discharged with the threat that
if he ventured to do any more business he would be arrested and put in
close confinement. [Judge Lander attempted to hold court at Olympui.
Martial law was declared over Thurston county and he taken prisoner
and sent to camp Montgomery.]

Immediately upon the removal of Judge Lander from the courthouse
in Steilacoom, the members of the Bar and citizens met and each in the

most solemn manner condemnened the transactions of the day as dan
gerous and despotic. Upon the receipt of this information, Gov. Ste
vens published the following vindication.

" The undersigned h;is had his attention called to a circular, expressing the views of the bar and of
I 1 !* 1 the citizens of Pierce county in regard to his recent actions as executive of the territory, in pro
claiming and enforcing martial law in Pierce county.

' At a public meeting of the said bar and of the citizens, the course of the undersigned is pronounced
(lemwHc and unnecessary, and a solemn protest made against it as a most dangerous and unprece
dented invasion of the rights of the- judiciary, and as an act which called for the prompt interferenc
and action of the national government.

" The views of sa'd bar and citizens as embodied in resolutions, are prefaced by a statement of th*
facts, go'n<r to show that there was scarcely even a pretense of a cause for the action of the execu
tive in suspending the functions of the court.

u This net only'cont lins palpable, errors of fact, but the whole paper is highly colored, and is calcu
lated to give a wrorg impression of the actual condition of aff-iirs in that county.

" The underp'phed deems it therefore due to the vindication of his own official action to present
the reasons and facts, why in his judgment he was called upon by an over-ruling public necessity to
proclaim and enforce inarib'l law.

" On the 3d day of April, lS!>fi, martial law ws proclaimed in and throughout Pierce county by the
nn-ler<igned for the reasons set forth in his proclamation in these words: (See lst page.)

" What was the condition of the territory and of Pierce comity at the time of issuing that proclama
tion, and what ha* been its condition for months previously?

" An Indian war had been rag'nsr. where neither ape, sex or condition had been spared, whole fam
ilies had been inhumanly massacred, alarm and consternation pervaded the whole territory. The
setlers of the terri'ory we e in a state of siege, families 1'ving in b'ock-houses with a few men, and
the majority of citizens in arms, actively pursuing the enemy in order to end the war.

" There was however, an exception n regards " certain evil disposed persons " of Pierce county.
They remained in securi'y on their claims, receiving the visits of the hostiles, furnishing them with
provisions, pr'vinsr tbem infonmtinn. acting as their spies, and in every way affording them aid and
oomfgrt. These persons lived on the o"ts'kirts of the settlements, in posit'ons where the Indians had
easy access to them, and on *he l ; ne where were the depots of the military operations, and which wt*
the b^^e of the military movements.

" There i grave can*;; o'bere' not only that these persons fraternized with the hostiles, but that
they were the main nrVinal canse of the war, and at a meeting last Christinas they determined to
keep np the war confident thn* they would be ga ; ners by it'

" AH these are matters o' public notor'erty arid have been for many months. The attention of th
undersigned was called to it, imTred'-it -ly on his return by acting governor Mason, who expressed tLc
judgment, that at least they should be at once ordered in, and removed from the theater of activo

" His attention was afterwards called to it by thnt " veteran and energetic " officer. Lieutenant CoK
( iasey, commanding the military district of Pnget Sound, and who had been informed by an Indiaa
l>riso er from Leschi's camp that the movement of the troops had been communicated to Leschi by
*ne of those " ivil disposed persons."

" The undersigned was unwiHin? to- resort, to Inrsh measures unless an imperious public necessity
demanded it, and he l ! mi*ed his action to calling the attention of the military to those men, and to di
rect that they be. carefully witched.

" The. murder of White*' nd Northern, f t decided what was his duty in the emergency. These mur
derers had the'r hiding places in the N'sqnal'y bpttom, and drew supplies from these " evil disposed
persons." Th'-y were m*t and greeted by them in friendship with the blood yet on their hands.

" The undersigne-1 accordingly determined to order them in as a preliminary step, and to execute
this duty, lie secured the services of a most prudent and efficient man, Isaac W. Smith Esq., the act
ing secretary of the territory.

" The order wns executed with kindness and moderation. Several days were allowed to take awaj
their effects. They hnd the choice of residence, Olympia, Ft. Nisqually, or Steilacoom, arid arrange
ments were made to furnish them with provisions.

u So great was the public ind'gnation at this time, that it was an indispensible measure of precau
tion, in order *o protect the lives of tbese persons from the justice of an outraged community.

" The arrest o f these " evil disposed persons " had the most happy effect upon the friendly Indians. '
who believed and knew tha.t they had stirred up the war and confederated with the hostiles. The
friendly Indians hecnn to have confidence in an authority which treated all enemies as enemies, even
t.houih some had the skins of white men.

" In defiance of these orders, these setlers returned to their claims, and re-established intercourw
with the Indians. The military officers sent them in, stating that they had acted as spies and had
pa.ra'ized their operat'ons.

" Accordingly they were sent to the station at Steilacoom under charges, and Lt. Col. Casey re-
tfeived them.

"It. may be asked here, how it was that these tnen were able to keep up intercourse with the hostlles
wilder the circumstances.

" These men have Indian wives and families, who have connexions in the hostile bands, fathers,
brothers, and other near relatives, and so far as the undersigned is informed, they sympathise with
them in the war. These " evil disposed persons " are mostly the retired servants of the foreign cor
porations in our midst, and they have a deadly antipathy 'to the dominant, that is the American
power here. .

" In connection with these reasons of public necessity for proclaiming: martial law, it will be perti- correct some of the mis-statements of the circular.

" It is not. true that Lt. Col. Casey refused to receive the prisoners. He did recieve them, but vrhea
*he writ of habeas corpus was about to be issued, and the undersigned in consequence proclaimed

martial law, he asked to be relieved of their charge, doubting whether the proclamation could relieve
him from the obligations of obeying the requisitions of the civil authority.

" Nor is it tme, as stated in the circular, that all the persons under charges were at Olympia, a
portion were at Steilacooru, and the remaining persons ordered hi were either at Steilacoorn, or Ft.
Nisqually, within the limits of Pierce county.

" Nor is it true, as st ited in the c'rcular, that the Indians have been so far subdued, as that these per
sons could not communicate with them. The hostiles have infested the Nisqually bottom within the last
fortnight, and they could have access to these settlers without much difficulty, whatever was the num
ber of troops operating against them, unless each of theso persons was under a constant guard, and
his family under guard also.

"These are facts well known to all persons acquainted with the Topography of the country, and the
situation of the claims of these persons.

" Nor is it true that the proclamation was sent only to a few Military officers. It was posted uj
publicly at Steilacoorn, and was known to every citizen of the county.

"When the undersigned learned that a writ of habeas corpus was about to issue to free these " evil
disposed persons " from the power of the Military, he determined to meet it by the proclamation of
martial law.

"The writ of habeas corpus could not only be issued in favor of the persons in confinement at thu
Station near Steilacoom, but also in favor of those on parole, at Nisqually, Steilacoom and Olympia.
The result would have been to paralize the military in their exertions to end the war, and to send in
to their midst a band of Indian spies and sympathisers. There would have been at once a conflict
and lives would have been lost.

" It is true that since the proclamation of martial law a great change for the better has taken place
in the condition of the war. Through the vigorous action of all the troops, regulars and volunteers,
the Indians have been repeatedly struck, many have been killed and taken prisoners, and the hope
is indulged that in a few weeks the war may be ended.

" Yet eveiy reflecting man must see that this is the critical period of the war, when it is to be de
termined whether the war can soon be ended, or whether the contest is to be continued another year.
Within ihe last fortnight, houses and barns have been burned in The county of Thurston. The Indi
ans have announced their determination to lay waste the settlements. Those east of 'he Cascadei*
have declared they would transfer the war to the Sound, a measure to be apprehended in view of the
known fact that they have had the services of one band of sixty m n, commanded by the son of the
Yakima chief, Owhi. It is no time for the nefarious practices of Indian spies and syu pnthizers.

4 At this critical stage, therefore, the undersigned learned with great surprise that the court was to
be held by Chief Justice Lander ; and he was the more astonished at the reasons given by the'Chief
Justice in the letter from hin to the undersigned, which is referred to in the circular.

" The undersigned had given, as the circular states, orders to Lieut. Col. Shaw to examine the con
dition of things, and to advise him of the earliest practicable period it would be safe to revoke
martial law.

" The report of Col. Shaw was, that it was indispensibly necessary to enforce martial lave. A let
ter from him w'.ll accompany this paper, giving his reasons therefor.*

" The reasons of public necessity for holding the cournt, as set forth in the letter of Chief Justice
Lander and in the circular, though they do not touch upon the principle of the case, need to be re
ferred to as illust-ative of the spirit of the whole transaction. It is said that, one of the cases was*
a suit of the United States r*. the former Collector of Puget Sound and ought to be tried. Now tln.
case was originally brought before the courts of Thurston county, and a change of venue was had to
Pierce county, in Judge Chenoweth's district, on sworn affidavits that Chief Justice Lander wax
prejudiced and would notify the case fairly. The other moat was changed from
Thurston to Pierce for the same reason.

" As to the danger of col ision which is referred to, it may be said the event showed no such danger.
The armed force was small. A great portion of the citizens of Pierce county are in the field against
the enemy, a'id are well advised of the necessity of the step taken by the executive.

" The unders'gned did unquestionably suggest to Chief Justice Lander the adjoi rn'ng of the court till
June, at which time it was believed the necessity for martial law would have passed away, and he
did venture the expression of the opinion that the power thus to adjourn the court was fairly to be
implied from the wording of the statute.

" The undersigned having come to the conclusion that martial 1 'w was indispensible to protect the
lives of the citizens, for reasons set forth in this paper, determined to enforce it by the arrest of the
Judge and Clerk, which was done with moderation and decorum by Lieut. Col. Shaw.

" It is simply a question as to whether the executive has power, in carrying on the war, to take
a, summary course with a dangerous band of emissaries, who have been the confederates of the In
dians throughout, and by their exertions and sympathy can render, to a great extent, the military
operations abortive. It is a question as to whether the military power, or public committees of the
citizens without law, as in California, shall see that justice is done in the cas, .

"And he solemnly appeals to the same tribunals before which he has been arraigned in the
circular, in vindication of his course, being assured that it ought and will be sustained as an impe
rious necessity growing out of the almost unexampled condition of things-.


Olympia, May 10, 1856." Governor Territory of Washington

* Col. Shaw says that he did preface a note to the Gov. that martial law could be dispensed*with
but afterwards becoming convinced of its necessity, he recomended it be enforced.

Instead of these " evil disposed persons " being " exceptions," there
were at the time of their arrest and still are several families living in
different parts of the county, and in exposed situations, who have never
been interrupted. The Indians have preferred a system of thieving,

rather than the more dangerous one of murder, and the settlers that
have staid steadily at home, since the first wild burst of savage frenzy
that moved the Indian at the commencement of the war. have succeeded
in saving their property. The murder of White and Northcraft is the
exception and the band of Indians that committed this deed have ever
since contented themselves, with secreting in the woods, stealing and
destroying property where there was least danger. And instead of
these " evil disposed persons greeting " the murderers of White and
Northcraft in friendship, a prosecuting witness, Mr. Galagher, estab
lishes the fact that Mr Smith went forthwith and gave the information
to the volunteers, as will be seen by the conversation between Mr. Wells,
Commissary at Camp Montgomery, and the witness, as given in evidence
before U. S. Commissioner.

It is a fact that other citizens of the territory, some of them in ex
posed situations and hi the vicinity of where those murders were com
mitted, were then on their claims and with the spirit that has character
ized the hardy pioneers, not only of this community, but of the whole
American people, chose to remain and defend their homes to the last.

As to the time allowed for removing their effects, we insert the fol
lowing letter, which was sent to Mr. McLeod.


Sir: '

I am instructed by the Governor to require you to remove to Fort Nis-
qually, without delay, with your family. I shall be absent for a day or two,
and like to find you in readiness to remove on my return.
Very respectfully yours,

ISAAC W. SMITH, Acting Sec. W. T."

But desirous that the whole matter go before the public unbiased,
we forbear further comment.

pie proceedings of the Court Martial and of the examination before
the Commissioner, are exact copies of the original records.



iProceedings of a General Court Martial or Military Commission, convened at
^Camp Montgomery Washington Territory, by virtue of an order from Isaac I.
Stevens Governor of the Territory of Washington and Commander-in-Chief of
the volunteer forces thereof.

12 O'CLOCK M. MONDAY, MAY 20ra 1856.
The Court met pursuant to the said order. Present,

Lieut. Col. J. S. HURD, Aidccarap to Commander-in-Chief

Major H. J. G. MAXON, Southern Batl. 2nd Regt. W. T. V. ' v,;i

Capt. C. W. SWINDLE, 2nd Regt. W. T. V.

Capt W. W. DBLACY, 2nd Regt. W. T. V.

Lieut. A. SHEPHERD 2nd Regt. W. T. V.

VICTOR MONROE, Judge Advocate

, The order convening this Court not being present, the Court adjourned un
til to-morrow at 12 o'clock M.


The Court met pursuant to adjournment, The following is the order con
stituting this Court and which was omitted to be inserted in yesterday's pro
ceeding, to-wit :

" Special Order, Office Adg't Gen 1 !. W. T. V. Olympia May 16th 1856.
A General Court Martial, or Military Commission will assemble at Camp
. Montgomery/on the 20th of May 1856, for the purpose of trying such persons
as may be brought before it.

'(Signed) JAMES TILTON, Adg't Gen.

By order of the (Jov. and Com'd-in-Chief W. T. V." *

u Members of the Commission, Lieut. Col. Hurd, Maj. Maxon, Capt. DeLacy,
Lieut. Shepherd, Supernumerary, Lieut S. B. Curtis, W. T. V. Judge Advocate,
Victor Monroe. (Signed) JAMES TILTON, Adg't Gen. W. T. V."

Present, Lieut, Col. Hurd, Major H. J. G. Maxon, Capt. C. W. Swindle,
Capt. W. W. DeLacy, Lieut. A. Shepherd and Supernumerary S. B. Curtis.

Present also the Judge Advocate and Recorder. The Recorder, at the re
quest of the Judge Advocate, read the order convening this Court. The lie-
order, at the request of the Judge Advocate, read the charges and specifica
tions of charges against Lyon A. Smith, Charles Wren and John McLeod. The
Judge Advocate then made a written application* (A) appended to these pro

1 3

Online LibraryJoseph LaneA statement of the facts, pertaining to the proclamation of martial law over Pierce County, W.T., by Gov. Isaac I. Stevens and the proceedings of the court martial in the attempt to try citizens for treason, containing the governor's vindication and the trial and discharge of these citizens → online text (page 1 of 3)