The First Sergeant of Company M is found dead,
shot through the lungs, while in the front row of little
ditches our men had dug in order to press closer to
the entrenched Indians ; he is the man who declared
when bidding his wife and children good-bye, as
our force left Fort Rice last Spring, that he had a
presentment that they would not see him again.
The body was placed in a grave, over which a
volley was fired.
During the battle, Lieutenant Eckerson with a few
men distinguished themselves, when horses attached
122 SEVENTH CAVALRY
to the mountain howitzer were shot while the piece
was being hauled into position. The Lieutenant
leaped from his horse, cut the traces, helped the men
place the gun in position, and fired shot after shot.
Trumpeter Herwood saved the life of his Captain
and thereby came near sacrificing his own. He saw
an Indian taking careful aim at the Captain, and de
liberately stepped in front of his officer receiving the
bullet in his own side. When bringing in the wounded
we found Harwood lying on the ridge where he had
fallen, and told Surgeon Havre that the man was so
badly wounded that we feared he would bleed to
death while being carried to the hospital. The Sur
geon made examination and said : " He can t live ;
take in those who have a chance to recover." The
next morning, while being attended to at the hospital
tent by Surgeon Havre, Trumpeter Herwood said : " I
am the man you left on the ridge to die ! If you are
going to probe my wound with a finger, as you did
last night, please cut the nail off !"
We dug rifle pits, both day and night and
got nearer and nearer the enemy. Chief Joseph s
entire camp was surrounded the first day of the
fight, but that was not enough to make him yield.
He had sufficient food and ammunition for a siege.
On ascertaining this fact, after Chief Joseph had
refused to surrender, General Miles had a series of
rifle pits dug that cut off the water supply of the reds.
Chief Joseph was not slow to discover this fact, and
seeing that he could not possibly escape from the trap
he was in, or defeat the white force, he held a council
at which it was decided to surrender to General
Miles ! This emphasized their dislike for General
Howard, the Department Commander, to whom they
attributed the troubles that had started them afield.
FIGHTING INDIANS 123
Cavalrymen Cheer When a White Cloth is Displayed by
Hostiles Chief Joseph Hands His Rifle to Gen. Miles
White Bird Takes Flight Our Wounded.
WHEN the Nez Perces war chiefs decided to make
the surrender to General Miles, Chief Joseph had a
piece of white cloth displayed and came to to our
headquarters, all alcne. He was received by General
Miles, and in a subdued voice said his chiefs and
warriors wanted to surrender.
How we did cheer when that piece of white cloth
appeared ! Our work was done and well done, too !
General Howard had arrived on the scene while
the battle was in progress, accompanied by an escort
of seventeen men. He commended General Miles, say
ing in what seemed a rather bombastic manner :
" General, I find everything all right. This is your
fight, and I want to say amen to everything that you
But notice the difference in tone of the report of
the matter issued by General Howard, and the gener
al order of General Miles, printed in the Chapter that
While Chief Joseph was on his way to meet
General Miles, at the time he surrendered, he passed
by General Howard without paying any attention to
to him, and walked deliberately up to Miles and
said : " I WANT TO SURRENDER TO YOU !"
As the noted Indian stood there a self-acknow
ledged prisoner, rifle in hand, his bearing was calm
and deliberate, he was indeed A BRAVE !
Chief Joseph is about thirty-five years of age, five
feet ten inches in height. His clothing consisted of
blanket-trousers, beaded leggins, beaded buckskin
moccasins, and a fine blanket. His features are
regular, his black eyes are as piercing as an eagle s.
124 SEVENTH CAVALRY
His long black hair is gathered in a loose braid at
the back of his head, his scalp-lock is ornamented
with a cluster of feathers, and long braids hang in
front of his ears.
Such is the young man, who for a long time had
bid defiance to what he considered unjust and oppres
sive mandates on the part of the Government of the
United States, and who had repulsed in turn military
forces commanded by Howard, Sturges, and Gibbons,
and for three days had held out against General
As he addressed General Miles, he handed the
General his rifle, with the muzzle pointed towards the
ground. When the weapon had thus changed hands
the Chief stepped to one side, saying "How !" as he
did so. Then several other chiefs and warriors who
had followed Chief Joseph, as in ceremonial order,
advanced one at a time, each surrendering his rifle to
To those privileged to witness this remarkable
scene, it did not seem as if these captives were
savages. Surely, they were Knights of the plains and
mountains and forests. Fairly defeated, they sur
rendered their weapons ; not lances and shields, but
death-dealing rifles, the very best that American in
ventors were able to produce.
The ceremony of surrender, one the part of the
Indians, began at 2 o clock in the afternoon on the 5th
day of October, 1877, and it continued in the same
deliberate manner till the close of day. From time
to time Indians left their rifle pits, singly or in small
groups, and coming to the headquarters of General
Miles gave themselves up as prisoners of war. Even
when night set in, the entire band had not given
themselves up, and our lines of sentinels were kept
posted. When the sun appeared next morning the
surrenders were continued.
FIGHTING INDIANS 125
The first day 67 warrior and their squaws and
children came in, the next day the number was
increased to 290 men, women and children. Then we
took possession of their trenches and camp. Forty
wounded Indians were discovered. They were being
cared for by squaws. Only two dead Indians were
located. The disposition they had made of their dead
remained a mystery. We were certain that thirty or
more warriors were killed outright when we made
our first charge, and they lost many more during the
progress of the engagement.
" White Bird " failed to appear with the other
reds, and could not be located he had flown.
Our loss was two officers and twenty-six men
killed and four officers and forty -two men wounded.
I sustained an injury to my back, which seemed
of little moment, and caused me practically no trouble
for some time, but later developed spinal trouble
of so serious a nature that one side was partly and
my legs entirely paralyzed. While on scout duty
with a detail, in going down a mountain, my horse
stumbled, sending me headlong, and in falling the
horse landed across my body. I was soon back in
the saddle and continued with the detail.
The Indians having surrendered, the next thing to
be done was to provide transportation and convey
our sick and wounded to the Missouri river. There
were only three ambulances with the command, and
more than forty wounded to be carried. A number
of the heavy, jolting army wagons were requistioned,
and also travoys made on which to carry the wound
ed. A travoy is made by fastening a long pole on
each side of a pony, with the ends on the ground,
with a piece of heavy canvass swung hammock-like
between the poles. It is a crude device and a source
of constant torture to a patient as it is jolted along.
126 SEVENTH CAVALRY
The journey to the Missouri river ended October
20th, when our sick and wounded were transferred by
a steamboat to military hospitals at Forts Rice, Lin
coln and Buford for treatment.
The captive Nez Perces were taken to Bismarck,
and paraded through the main street of the city, with
Chief Joseph on an Indian pony in the lead. He was
" honor guest " at a banquet given that evening, and
conducted himself with dignity and reserve.
These Indians were for some time kept on exhibi
tion at Bismarck, and then were placed in cars and
shipped to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Sergeant McDermott, who was killed at the Battle
of Snake Creek, was a gentleman. He was liked by
all the men in his Company, and respected by officers
and men throught the Regiment.
He was honorably discharged in June, by reason
of the expiration of his term of enlistment. He at
once re-enlisted and took a furlough for three months
to visit relatives and friends in the East. While there
enjoying himself, he learned that his Regiment was
to take part in a strenuous campaign against the
Indians. With true soldier spirit, he threw up his
furlough and hastened to join his Company, which he
reached in July. Asked by a comrade why he did
not stay his time out, Sergeant McDermott said :
" If the boys are in for a fight, I want to be with
them. When the campaign is over, I will take
another furlough and go and finish my visit."
FIGHTING INDIANS 127
General Howard s Report of Operations Against and the
Surrender of the Nez Perces Indians Order of
General Miles Who Led Victorious Command.
THE documents that follow, form a part of the
historical record of the War with the Nez Perces,
and deserve the most careful perusal by all readers.
They have been discussed in the public press, and
for obvious reasons :
REPORT OF GENERAL HOWARD.
In the Field, Steamer Benton,
Missouri River, Oct. 10, 1877.
General P. H. Sheridan,
Commanding Division of the Missouri :
It is due you, as commander of this military divis
ion, to know the facts that I have already telegraphed
to General McDowell from the battlefield concerning
the final operations and surrender of the Nez Perces.
First, on the llth of September I assumed com
mand of General Sturges s troops after I had passed
him at Clarke s Fork, and he operated in conjunction
with my force proper till the close.
The advance, Sturges immediately commanding,
then made a forced march of eighty-five miles in two
days, struck the hostiles, captured quite a number of
their ponies, killed and wounded several warriors
and drove them beyond the Musselshell.
The 12th of September I sent from Clarke s Forks,
a despatch to General Miles showing him that the
Indians were making for the Musselshell country by
exceedingly long marches, and urging unusual acti
vity, and requesting him to make every effort in his
power to prevent the escape of the hostile band.
General Miles received the despatch at Tongue River
on the evening of the 16th, and promptly moved his
128 SEVENTH CAVALRY
command two battalions of the Second and Seventh
Cavalry, and one his own mounted Infantry on
the 17th, to the mouth of the Musselshell River.
Meanwhile, as he requested nine days to get into
position, I slowed my march to about fifteen miles a
day, knowing that the hostiles were watching me and
would do the same. They slackened their pace after
crossing the Missouri at Cow Island.
As soon as Miles found out that they were beyond
the Missouri he crossed where he was, and made
forced marches across our front to the north of Bear
Paw Mountain, and struck the Indians about seven
o clock A. M. of the 30th ult. They were cam ped
near a creek bottom, in a strong natural position, but
their numerous ponies, (now nearly worn out), were
scattered over the open country grazing.
Miles charged the camp and herd simultaneously
A desperate fight occurred, in which two officers and
twenty -five men were killed, and four officers and
forty-two men wounded.
The ponies were nearly all captured some seven
hundred ; but the Indians, hemmed in by Miles s
pickets, held out until after my arrival, (firing was
then going on), the evening of the fourth. I had with
me two friendly Nez Perces and an interpreter. The
two Nez Perces were sent the next morning into the
hostile camp. Through them the surrender was
arranged. A few Indians, including White Bird,
crept through the lines during the night.
A portion of my artillery and infantry and
Sturges s cavalry were brought up within twenty -five
miles of the battlefield ; but as the Sioux under
Sitting Bull continued quiet, I deemed it best, on
account of the difficulty of supplying the command,
to return the foot troops to the Missouri.
Sturges s cavalry were ordered to report back to
FIGHTING INDIANS 129
General Miles, and moved in conjunction with him
back to the mouth of the Musselshell.
I embarked my troops on the steamer Benton. On
account of Sitting Bull s proximity, I delayed their
departure from the 10th to the 13th, until Miles, bur
dened with the wounded and the Indian prisoners
375 in number had reached the Missouri.
Colonel Sturges and his regiment deserve special
credit for energetic, persistent and successful work.
General Miles and his command have and deserve
the great honor of the final battle and surrender,
while appreciation and gratitude are due our- officers
and men who engaged the hostiles in Idaho, have
cheerfully made forced marches for 1,600 miles,
were part of the last operating force north of the
Missouri, and were represented by their commander
at the surrender.
I directed General Miles to keep the prisoners till
next Spring, it being too late to send them to Idaho
by direct routes this Fall and too costly by steamer
[Signed,] 0. 0. HOWARD,
ORDER OF GENERAL MILES.
In the Field,
Camp Near Bear Paw Mountain, M. T.
October 7th, 1877.
[General Orders No. 3J
The commanding officer takes great pleasure in
expressing to his command his congratulations
for the recent exhibition they have given
of the highest degree of endurance under hard
ship, and unyielding fortitude in battle. The secret
forced marches that enabled you to surprise the en-
130 SEVENTH CAVALRY
emy when in fancied security, the resistless charge
that at once shut them in the fastness of their camp,
and the courageous fight, with death and maiming
thick about you, are all your own.
In the entire success that has attended your
efforts, the capture of Chief Joseph and his followers,
the entire country will share, with gratitude to you
who have accomplished so much.
It is an added source of congratulation that Gen
eral 0. O. Howard, who has so persistently waged
war against these hostile Nez Perces and driven
them from the slope of the Pacific to this remote
country, was present to witness the completion of his
arduous and thankless undertaking.
[Signed,] N. A. MILES,
General in Command.
FIGHTING INDIANS 131
Disabled Men Taken to Hospital at Fort Rice Many Are
jv, Weary Days Hospital Staff Commended The
Hardest Feature of Military Life.
WHILE we were on the way to the Missouri river,
I was at times in great distress, due to the injury
to my back sustained when my horse fell on me, as
heretofore noted. Our Surgeon gave me a " going
over " when we reached the river, and told me that
I must accompany the wounded to a hospital that
only rest and the best of care would prevent complete
collapse. He booked me for a steamboat ride down
the Missouri along with my sick and wounded com.
After a long and tedious ride on board the steam
boat, we arrive at Fort Rice, and the injured who
could do so walked to the army hospital, the others
being carried on stretchers. We were not a nice
looking lot. We were soon arranged in the ward
and once more greet Surgeon Taylor, who visits each
man, washes and dresses wounds, sees that proper
medicines are provided, and those that cannot wash
themselves are bathed and that all are provided
with clean under garments. He is ably assisted by
Steward VonClausen and three nurses from the
Assistant Steward Gallenne, who was shot in his
left ankle during our last fight with the Indians, had
the leg arnputed. He had a cot next to mine. We
agreed that if Sturges and Howard had pushed on
instead of taking it easy, they could have whipped
Chief Joseph before he struck the Fork, and that if
they had done so Gallenne would now be a leg ahead
and that my back and legs would not have been
132 SEVENTH CAVALRY
We sat on our cots and talked over our army ex
periences, and acclaimed General Custer and General
Miles as our ideals of what commanders sent out to
end an Indian uprising should be.
As the days passed, and hospital patients began
to recover, we resorted to various sources of amuse
ment. Trumpeter Harwood, or Doctor Scroggs, was
a tremendous success he was a combined circus
and menagerie. He is the man shot through the
shoulder, whe was left on the battlefield to die after
the surgeon said he could not live to be taken to the
hospital, at our battle with Chief Joseph. There was
not a place in the hospital that he did not visit. He
would go around, feeling the pulses of different men,
get off comical remarks in explaining the disease or
wound ; to one he would prescribe a quart or more
of whiskey, to another a promotion, to another a
sutlership, to another a perpetual furlough under
full pay, etc. He would get men to laughing whom
he found despondent.
Dr. Scroggs was as solemn as the proverbial deacon
when Surgeon Taylor was in the ward.
Then there was McCurren, who was shot in the
hand and had also lost a finger, and always told the
Surgeon that the hand was so stiff and sore he could
not use it, yet as soon as the Surgeon had crossed the
parade to his quarters, he would grab a broom and
go through the manual of arms without flinching. He
was stiff and sore for a discharge, and he got it, too !
Blacksmith Deitline was shot in the right shoulder
he is the man who sprang to his feet at the time he
was shot and he was severely wounded in the head
afterwards by a chance bullet as he lay on the
ground. He would tell the Surgeon how he felt, and
say he was not able to raise his arm, and asking the
Surgeon if he thought its use would ever be restored,
FIGHTING INDIANS 133
he would work the arm as much as he could, the
while wincing with pain. He was not working for a
discharge ; he wanted to recover from the injury.
There were others in the ward that were lively
and cheerful, and we did have fun at times. But it
was not fun to see the serious wounds dressed, and to
hear the men groan as a piece of bone was removed
or a bad spot was burned out with caustic.
There was a soldier in the ward who had lost his
reason, due a wound in the head. He almost const
antly talked about Indians, and after he had tried to
insert the tines of a table-fork in an ear to dig the
Indians out, he was placed in a straight jacket. The
day before that was done, fearing that the galvnic
battery would be used on him, he sneaked into the
dispensary and destroyed the machine. I had reason
to be sorry for that, as the galvanic battery was being
used daily in the treatment I received, and it was the
only one available.
The hardest feature of military life is to be a patient
in a military hospital.
On the 1st of December eight of us were able to
get about on crutches and were permitted to take
exercise out of doors. We would line up and race
for the sutler s store, the last man in to pay for the
Taken as a whole, the diet and the regular meals
at Fort Rice hospital were excellent and abundant.
Even fresh eggs were provided. Surgeon Taylor
each day inspected the kitchen and would taste and
smell of food prepared for the men, rejecting any
food that was not just what it should be.
134 SEVENTH CAVALRY
Custer and Miles Praised by Sick and Wounded Men As
Ideal Field Commanders Report of General Custer
of Repulse of Heavy Force of Indians.
As convalescence progressed, the men spent con.
siderable time in discussing the Indian campaigns in
which they had taken part, the different methods of
warfare with the reds, and their likes and dislikes of
commanding officers. Disapproval of commanders
who had failed to get results was unanimous, and the
men praised Custer and Miles to the limit. General
Custer had a " way of his own " as an Indian fighter,
and for a number of years had kept the hostiles busy
in the very section in which we had been campaign,
ing, and when Sitting Bull was " on the rampage,"
we present an offical report he made while in the
field. It is illuminating and instructive :
OFFICIAL REPORT OF GENERAL CUSTER.
Headquarters Battalion Seventh Cavalry,
Pompey s Pillar, Yellowstone Riyer, Montana,
August 15th, 1873.
Acting Assistant A-ijutant-General Yellowstone
SIR, Acting under the instructions of the Brevet-Major-
General commanding, I proceeded at five o clock, on the
morning of the 4th instant, with one squadron of my
command, numbering about ninety men, to explore a route
over which the main column could move. Having reached
a point on the Yellowstone River, near the mouth of
Tongue River, and several miles in advance, and while
waiting the arrival of the forces of the expedition, six
mounted Sioux dashed boldly into the skirt of the timber
within which my command had halted and unsaddled, and
attempted to stampede our horses. Fortunately the
vedettes discovered the approach of the Indians in time to
give the alarm. A few well-directed shots soon drove the
Indians to a safe distance, where they kept up a series of
yells, occasionally firing a few shots. As soon as the
FIGHTING INDIANS 135
squadron could mount, I directed Captain Moylan to move
out in pursuit, at the same time I moved with the
troops in advance, commanded by First Lieutenant T. W.
Custer. Following the Indians at a brisk gait, my suspL
cions became excited by the confident bearing exhibited by
the six Sioux in our front, whose course seemed to
lead us near a heavy growth of timber which stood along
the river bank above us. When almost within rifle range
of this timber, I directed the squadron to halt, while I with
two orderlies, all being well mounted, continued after the
Sioux in order to develope their intentions. Proceeding a
few hundred yards in advance of the squadron, and keep
ing a watchful eye on the timber to my left, I halted. The
six Indians in my front also halted, as if to tempt further
pursuit. Finding all efforts in this direction unavailing,
their plans and intentions were quickly made evident, as
no sooner was it seen that we intended to advance no
farther, than with their characteristic howls and yells over
three hundred well-mounted warriors dashed in perfect
line from the edge of the timber, and charged down upon
Captain Moylan s squadron, at the same time endeavoring
to intercept the small party with me. As soon as the
speed of the thorough-bred on which I was mounted
brought me within hailing distance of Lieutenant Custer s
k oop, I directed that officer to quickly throw forward a
dismounted line of troopers, and endeavor to empty a few
Indian saddles. The order was obeyed with the greatest
alacrity, and as the Sioux came dashing forward, expect
ing to ride down the squadron, a line of dismounted
cavalrymen rose from the grass and delivered almost in
the faces of the warriors a volley of carbine bullets which
broke and scattered their ranks in all directions, and sent
more than one Sioux reeling from the saddle. This check
gave us time to make our dispositions to resist the sue.
ceeding attacks, which we knew our enemies would soon
make upon us. The great superiority of our enemies in
numbers, the long distance separating us from the main
command, and the belief, afterwards verified, that the
woods above us still concealed a portion of the savage
forces, induced me to confine my movements, at first,
136 SEVENTH CAVALRY
strictly to the defensive. The entire squadron (except the
horse-holders) was dismounted and ordered to fight on
.foot. The Indians outnumbering us almost five to one,
were enabled to envelope us completely between their
lines formed in a semicircle, and the river which flowed
at our backs. The little belt of timber in which we had
been first attacked formed a very good cover for our led-
horses, while the crest of a second table-land, convenient
ly located from the timber, gave us an excellent line of
defense. The length of our line and the numbers of the
enemy prevented us from having any force in reserve ;
every available officer and man was on the skirmish-line,
which was really our line of battle, even the number of
men holding horses had to be reduced, so that each horse-