Nelson Appleton Miles.

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 online

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Online LibraryNelson Appleton MilesPersonal 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 → online text (page 35 of 51)
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doctor, for the use of each of whom a house was to be erected. Four
hundred and sixty cows were to be furnished, as well as a large number of
wagons and agricultural implements. The Indians already located on
the Moses reservation who wished to remain were to be allowed to take
up land there in severalty under existing laws.

On the 31st of August an order was issued, directing Captain Baldwin
to visit the Indians concerned in this agreement and explain to them all
its terms and effects. First Lieutenant James Ulio, Second Lieutenant
John S. Mallory, and Topographical Assistant Alfred Downing were
detailed to assist him in carrying out these instructions.

All necessary preparations having been concluded at old Fort Colville,
on September 10, Captain Baldwin directed Lieutenant Ulio to proceed to
the southern portion of the Moses reservation, explain the agreement to
the Indians, and should any of them desire it, locate and carefully survey
for each head of a family or male adult, a tract of land containing not
more than six hundred and forty acres.



Topographical Assistant Downing was detached under orders to pro-
ceed to, and carefully examine the falls of Bonaparte Creek and the
Nespilene, where it was proposed to locate the promised sawmills and grist-
mills. Lieutenant Mallory remained with the main party until the 13th,
when he was sent to that part of the Columbia reservation lying north of
the region to be examined by Lieutenant Ulio.

The result of his own investigations satisfied Captain Baldwin that
great good had been effected by the visit of the three chiefs to Washington.
They had all carefully explained the agreement to their people, who
seemed disposed to look upon it favorably. Sarsopkin and his following,
without an exception, were willing to move to the Colville reservation,

many of them hav-
far as to select the
future homes. On
Baldwin dis-
ger to Moses to no-
desired to see him,
rived on the even-
having ridden
day. He said that
made up their
him to the Colville
would be ready as
season was over,
made up of what
''wild" Indians;


mg even gone so
location of their
the 18th Captain
patched a messen-
tify him that he
and the chief ar-
ing of the 20th.
eighty miles that
all his people had
minds to go with
reservation, and
soon as the fishing
This band was
were known as
they had always
(salmon) and game

depended upon fish

for food, and knew absolutely nothing about

Tonasket, the principal chief of the Colville Indians, was a man of great
force of character. Although he had received little or no help from the gov-
ernment, he exhibited a deep interest in the fortunes of his people, urging
them to work and take up lands, but his greatest desire was to see a suit-
able school provided for them. He and his people not only consented that
all the Indians on the Columbia should establish themselves on the Colville
reservation, but that all others who wished to settle down and become
industrious farmers should enjoy its benefits. Captain Baldwin was much
pleased with the members of Tonasket's band, considering them further
advanced in civilization than any Indians he had seen west of the Missis-


Lieutenant Ulio visited a number of families, five of whom consented
to allow him to locate farms for them. He also had a conversation with
Chelan Jim, who had become the recognized chief of a small band of Indians.
At first this man refused to either locate any land or to move on the
Colville reservation, but afterward he consented to consider the

Lieutenant Mallory, after leaving Captain Baldwin's camp near the
junction of Curlew Creek with Kettle River, continued over the Little
Mountain trail to the mouth of the creek just mentioned, and from there
over a magnificent belt of country to the lake where the creek takes it
source. This lake proved to be a beautiful body of water about eight
and a half miles in length. Soon afterward he came to another lake, much
smaller than the first and oval in shape, which proved to be the source of
the San Polle River. He had never seen a map on which either of these
lakes was noted. Having crossed the Okinakane and marched along its
farther bank for some distance, he came upon several ranches owned by
Indians. One of them named Looploop was a man about fifty years of age,
with a thoughtful, intelligent face. In a long talk with Lieutenant Mallory
this Indian expressed his opinion very freely, both concerning the preten-
sions of Moses and the general situation of affairs, and as he voiced the
sentiments of a great many others his words are worth repeating. He said:
" There are four things above all others which you white men tell us we
should avoid ; lying, thieving, drunkenness and murder. Moses is a liar ;
Moses is a thief ; Moses is a drunkard, and Moses is a murderer. Yet, he is
the man you have set as chief over us, and he is the man you send to
Washington to represent us. He has traded away our rights, he has sold
our lands, and there is no help for us. He will have a fine house built for
him and will get one thousand dollars every year, and he and his people
will be given wagons and harnesses and many cows. Looploop is not a
beggar ; he has never asked nor received any help from the government,
nor does he ask it now. He is able to take care of himself ; and all that
he asks is to be let alone. When Moses came back from Washington the
first time, there was a great council between the whites and the Indians.
General Howard stood up in the midst and said: ' The Indians have for
many years been wanderers from place to place and there has been no rest
for any of them, but now they are to have a reservation Moses which
will be a home for them forever. While the mountains stand and the
rivers run the land is to be theirs, their children's and their children's

children's forever.'
M 24




1. Comanehe Tomahawk.

2. Ute Tomahawk Pip?.

8. Bow Case and Quiver of the Bannock Indians.

4-5. Sioux War Clubs.

6-7-8. Sioux Bows and Arrows.

9. Comanehe War Shield.
10-11. Sioux War Clubs.
12. Comanehe Tomahawk Pipe.

18. Tomahawk Pipe which once belonged to Littl
Bear, a prominent chief of the Northern Apaches


" The Indians heard ; they believed and were satisfied. Scarcely four
years have passed by and we are told that we must leave this reservation,
this land which was to be our home forever. How do we know that if we
move to the Colville reservation we will be left in peace ? Why should we
not be driven from there in a few years, and then what can we do? There
is no other place left. But you tell us that we who do not recognize
Moses or any other chief, are not obliged to leave our home ; that you
will mark out for each of us a square mile and will set stakes so that no
white man can take the land away from us ; and you wish to know
whether we will go or stay. There are but few of us here, and our blood
is the same, but our minds are different. As for me, why should I go?
Here I have a house, and fields that raise oats and hay and all kinds of
vegetables. When white men pass through here they need these things
and pay me for them. Did you not, yesterday, give me $25 for one thou-
sand pounds of oats? With money in my pocket, I feel that I am a man,
and respect myself. Why should I give up all this, and move on the
Colville reservation, to become a wild Indian again? But I am getting an
old man now. My daughter is married and has children. I love them,
and like to be with them ; but my son-in-law thinks he will go on the
Colville reservation. My only son has two sons ; sometimes he thinks he
will go, and again he thinks he will stay. Our hearts are sad, and we
know not what to do. You must give us time to think and talk among
ourselves, and we will then tell you whether we will go or stay. But we
cannot tell you to-day, or to-morrow, or for many days to come. Leave
us now, and return after we have had time to think ; we will then know
our minds, and what we say we will do."

Eventually, though onlj' after much indecision, the Indians concerned
in the matter all yielded, and the treaty went into full effect. But a long
period elapsed before the government completely fulfilled its part of the
agreement. Nevertheless, there was a marked improvement almost
immediately. In 1885, when Captain Baldwin once more visited the
valley of the Okinakane, where, in 1883, he had found only half a dozen
farms, there were hundreds of acres fenced and under cultivation, almost
every available spot on the river and its tributaries was occupied, and
large herds of domestic stock belonging to the Indians were grazing on
the hills.

In 1885 I at last succeeded in having the remnant of Chief Joseph's
band of Nez Perce Indians brought back from the Indian Territory to the
vicinity of their old home, as stated in a preceding chapter. Popular


feeling in Idaho Territory was decidedly against them. Several Nez Perce
warriors were under indictment for murders perpetrated in 1877, and as
there had been rumors of threats of violence on the part of some of the
white people, every precaution was taken to prevent collision between them
and the Nez Perces while the latter were on their way back to the North-
west. The Nez Perces entered the Department of the Columbia in June
by way of the Union Pacific and Oregon Short Line Railways, and were
met at Pocatello by Captain Frank Baldwin, who was then acting judge
advocate of that department.

After their arrival they were divided into two parties, one proceeding
under military escort to the Lapwai agency in Idaho, and the other,
including Chief Joseph, to the Colville reservation opposite Fort Spokane.
The Indians who were taken to the Lapwai agency numbered one hundred
and sixteen persons, who soon disappeared among their relatives and
friends. Upon their arrival thirty days rations were supplied them, but
after that they were self supporting with the exception of a few of the
aged. Some of them afterward showed a desire to visit their old haunts
in the Wallowa Valley, but readily acquiesced when told that it was not
advisable for them to do so. Altogether, their conduct was most peaceful
and satisfactory.

That portion of the band immediately under Chief Joseph, numbering
one hundred and fifty persons, was in a most destitute condition, and
many of them must have starved if the military had not come to their
assistance. They were poorly clad, and were obliged to live in thin cotton
tents. They had no cattle, tools or implements of any kind, those left
behind in the Indian Territory not having been replaced. Both Chief
Joseph and those under him showed every disposition to make homes for
themselves, to settle down and live like white people, and to conform to
every requirement of the government.

The tribe of Nez Perces was originally a confederacy of numerous bands,
each with its own chief. Primarily the tribe occupied a large extent of terri-
tory west of the Bitter Root Mountains in Washington, Idaho and Oregon,
their title running back to a time before the memory of man. In June,
1855, a treaty, which I have alluded to in a previous chapter, was concluded
between the United States and the Nez Perces, by the terms of which a
large part of their country was ceded to the United States, the Wallowa
Valley being embraced within the land reserved. Several chiefs protested
against this treaty, and Looking Glass and the father of Joseph signed it
much against their will. In this, as in many other cases where an Indian






treaty is concerned, its terms were not kept on the part of the United
States. In 1863, another treaty was negotiated which greatly reduced the
reservation established by the treaty of 1855, and among the lands yielded
in this case the Wallowa Valley was included. A number of the chiefs
refused to sign this treaty, and would never afterward recognize it as
binding, but always repudiated it, refusing to accept any of its benefits.

These bitter feelings finally culminated in the Nez Perce war, by
which a tribe of Indians that had always made the proud boast that no
white man was ever slain by the hand of a Nez Perce, were driven to
open hostilities, resulting in a serious war between the Nez Perces and the
troops of General Howard in Idaho, a series of engagements between the
Nez Perces and troops under General Gibbon in western Montana, and the
pursuit and capture of the Nez Perces by troops under my command as
related in a preceding chapter of this volume, and their final return, eight
years later, reduced in numbers and in a wretched condition, to their
country where they have since peacefully remained.














EHRING'S famous voyage and the discovery of Alaska is the
history of a series of privations and disasters. He set sail
from Okhotsk in 1740, in a vessel called the "St Paul." He
sighted and named the magnificent mountain St. Elias.
Behring was finally wrecked on an island which now bears
his name, and died there December 8, 1741, without ever at-
taining any benefit from his valuable discoveries. The vessel
was little more than a wreck, but out of its ruins the crew
managed to build a little shallop in which they set sail on the 16th of
August, 1742. They finally reached civilization bearing with them a large
number of valuable peltries, which stimulated the prompt fitting out of
many new expeditions for Alaska.

These fur hunters ventured out from their headquarters at Kamchatka
and by 1769 a large area of Russian America was well known to them.
Prior to the establishment of the control of the Russian American Com-
pany over the whole of Alaska, more than sixty distinct Russian trade
companies had been organized and had plied their vocation in these waters.
In 1799 this last named company received a charter which conferred upon
it very great privileges, but also burdened it with many obligations. It
was obliged to maintain at its own expense the new government of the
country, a church establishment, a military force, and at many points in
the country magazines of provisions and stores to be used by the Imperial
government for its naval vessels.


As time wore on it was found that Russian America did not prove as
profitable to the home government as it ought, and in 1844 the Emperor
Nicholas offered to sell the whole country to the United States for the
mere cost of transfer if President Pierce would maintain the United States
line at 54 40' and shut England out from any frontage on the Pacific. In
1854 it was again offered to the United States, and yet again in 1859, but
with no result. But in 1867 Secretary Seward effected the purchase
of the whole vast territory at the rate of about half a cent an acre.
Figures show that from the very beginning Alaska has been to us a
paying investment. The first lease of the two seal islands returned into
the treasury a sum equal to the purchase money ($7,200,000). The gold
mines have since added an equal sum to the wealth of the world, while
the salmon fisheries in the six years from 1884 to 1890 yielded $7,500,000.

As soon as the treaty was ratified, immediate military possession was
decided upon. The commissioners on behalf of both the United States
and Russia, met at Sitka in October, 1869. Three men-of-war and two
hundred and fifty troops were present on the afternoon when the Russians
joined the United States officers at the foot of the government flagstaff.
Double national salutes were fired by the men-of-war and a land battery
as the Russian national flag was lowered and the American flag was raised.
As soon as the United States took possession of Alaska all the Russian in-
habitants who were able to travel left the country, their government
giving them free transportation.

In 1877 the last garrison in Alaska was vacated, and a few months later
the Indians had destroyed all government property outside the stockades,
and threatened a massacre. Hearing of the desperate plight of the
Americans the captain of an English ship which happened to be at Esqui-
mault at the time, hastened to their assistance, and remained until a
United States revenue cutter and a man-of-war arrived.

Alaska is nine times the size of New England, twice the size of Texas,
and three times as large as California. It stretches for more than a thou-
sand miles from north to south, and the Aleutian Islands encroach upon
the eastern hemisphere, placing the geographical center of the United
States on the point midway between the eastern and western extremities
a little to the west of San Francisco. The island of Attu is two thousand
miles west of Sitka, and it is as far from Cape Fox to Point Barrow as from
the north of Maine to the southern extremity of Florida. The coast line
has a length of more than 18,000 miles ; greater than that of all the States
bordering on the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico combined.


The climate and physical features of southeastern Alaska very much
resemble those of southern Norway. While St. Johns, Newfoundland, is
surrounded by icebergs in summer and its harbor is frozen solid in winter,
Sitka, ten degrees farther north, has always an open roadstead. The
thermometer rarely registers in winter as low as ten degrees below zero.
It is the isothermal equal of the District of Columbia and Kentucky, skat-
ing being a rare sport for Sitkans. When William H. Seward was making
his trip around the world he wrote from Berlin: "We have seen enough of
Germany to know that its climate is neither so genial, nor its soil so fertile,
nor its resources in forests and mines so rich as those of southern Alaska."
The lofty mountain ranges and the Japan Current give southeastern Alaska
a greater rainfall than that of Norway, the annual rainfall in Sitka aver-
aging eighty-one inches. There have been wet seasons there in which
there were respectively two hundred and eighty-five and three hundred
and forty rainy days ; but all this moisture favors a luxuriant vegetation
and keeps the foliage fresh during the greater part of the year.

Thunder storms are almost unknown, and there are beautiful auroral
illuminations during the long winter nights. There have been only two
great hurricanes since the transfer of the country, one occurring immedi-
ately after that event and the other in 1880. Fine grass springs naturally
on any clearing ; coarser grasses grow three or four feet high, and clover
thrives unheeded. Hay has been cured there since as early as 1805, and
some varieties of vegetables have been raised. In summer there is usually
about a fortnight of really very warm weather, and the days at that time
of year are eighteen hours long.

The greater part of Alaska is exceedingly mountainous. The most
celebrated of all her lofty summits is Mount St. Elias, the central peak of
a crescent-shaped range of mountains on the southern coast of Alaska.
This mountain lifts its glittering white head more than 19,000 feet
above the level of the sea. The whole of this great peak is not often
seen at one time, as a perfectly clear atmosphere is very rare in that region.
The vapor from the warm ocean current is condensed into clouds as it
strikes the frozen sides of the mountain, keeping it perpetually cloud-
capped. Its summit is a bold pyramid placed on a rugged mountain mass,
and surrounded by foot-hills each one of which is of sufficient size to be
widely noted were it in any country where colossal peaks are not so com-
mon. The mountain can be distinctly seen one hundred and fifty miles at
sea, and at that distance it appears to tower up with all the grandeur and
beauty that ordinary mountains have when viewed from a short distance.


Some of the most magnificent glaciers to be found on the globe fill the
gorges of the Alaskan mountain ranges. The Malaspine Glacier is one of
the largest known. It is one vast, slowly-moving prairie of ice, and from
the mountain spurs projecting into it one may look down upon it from a
height of two or three thousand feet without being able to discover its
southern limits. The outer border is covered with earth and supports a
dense growth of vegetation, and in some places thick forests of spruce
trees. These evergreen forests, with undergrowths of ferns and flowers,
growing on living glaciers hundreds of feet thick, are among the most
interesting features of Alaska. The entire region is remarkable for the
glaciers which abound in the valleys and along the coasts. The Muir
Glacier at Glacier Bay is one of the best known, its face being a solid wall
of ice, two miles wide. Another glacier situated on the Stickine River is
forty miles long and five miles wide. The Miles Glacier, so named by
Lieutenant Abercrombie, who discovered it during his exploration of the
Copper River country, is one of the largest and most interesting of these
wonders of nature.

Some idea may be formed of these colossal glaciers by imagining a
valley between two ranges of mountains packed solidly with ice, formed
from the packed and semi-liquid snow of mountains from forty to fifty
miles back from the rivers or bays into which the glaciers empty. Although
actually in constant motion, the movement is so slow that it is imper-
ceptible except from final results. The continual fall at the end of the
glacier of masses of ice from the size of a man's hand to that of a block
acres in extent, produces a noise like the constant roar of thunder, and is
frequently heard eight or ten miles away. The glaciers that empty into
bays and navigable rivers produce icebergs that are usually four or five
times as deep below the surface of the water as 1 they are above. These
masses of ice are forced back against the faces of the glaciers when the
tide is coming in, and are held there firmly until it goes out, when they
again go rolling on their course to the sea. As the huge masses fall from the
face of the glacier they produce a motion of the water which is sometimes
dangerous to vessels in the immediate vicinity, and when the ice floe is
moving out with the tide it sometimes becomes necessary for steamers
to seek shelter behind some promontory.

The beauty and grandeur of these scenes is equal to anything that I
ever witnessed. There is only one feature of nature that compares with
it in grandeur, although of an entirely different character, and that is the
geysers in the Yellowstone Valley. During our visit to Alaska it required



twenty-four days going and returning, the distance being a thousand
miles each way. Now the journey can be made in fourteen days, and even
this time will be lessened as better facilities for travel are afforded.

In the year 1883 there were frequent reports of disturbances of the
peace between the whites and Indians in Alaska which seemed to indicate
that there might be serious hostilities between the two elements in the
near future. Although the Territory was included within the geographical
limits of the Department of Columbia, its area of nearly six hundred thou-
sand square miles was practically an unexplored and unknown country,

but little acquaintance having been
features, the number and character
or climate. Deeming further infor-
exceedingly desirable, in
aides-de-camp, Lieutenant
United States Cavalry, a
gether with Assistant-Sur-
ical Assistant Homan and
obtain intelligence of the
us in the case of any serious

born at Galena,
tember, 1849.
pointed to the
emy from Ore-
ated at West
after which he

made with its topographical
of its inhabitants, its resources
mation in these respects to be
April, 1883, I sent one of my
Frederick Schwatka, Third

Online LibraryNelson Appleton MilesPersonal 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 → online text (page 35 of 51)