Camas Prairie in the News 1878

Field, Virgil F., Washington National Guard Pamphlet: The Official History of the Washington Nation Guard, 3 vols

Telegram, 30 May 1878

To: Adjutant General, Mil Div, Pacific, San Francisco, Calif.
From: Maj. P. Collins, Commanding Officer, Fort Boise

Bannock Indians have been making serious threats and ordering settlers off Big Camas Prairie. Man arrived from there this evening reports two settlers shot by Indians this morning. Both wounded; got to Dixie Station 60 miles distant; 90 miles to where Indians are camped between Big Camas and Snake in Lava Beds.

Bannocks reported to have messengers out to chief of Piutes, vicinity of Malheur Agency. Numbers estimated 200 warriors, well armed and supplied with ammunition. Settlers have counted 60 lodges; 20 more, with Buffalo Horn, just joined them.

Idaho Tri Weekly Statesman, Boise City, Idaho
1 Jun 1878, pg. 2, col. 1

New Indian Troubles

For some weeks the indications of new Indian troubles have been gradually coming to the surface. The dispatches received Thursday night and yesterday from Camas Prairie, are well calculated to ground the fears of the people that another serious outbreak of Indians is contemplated in Southern Idaho.

Some fifteen days ago, two or three of the chief Indian runners of the Bannocks visited Boise City, and the purpose is now disclosed that the principal object of their visit was to obtain ammunition. First they tried to get cartridges at Fort Boise, but failing in that, their next effort was to procure the needed ammunition from citizens, again failing.

Buffalo Horn, one of the most daring of the Bannock warriors, tried to get an order from some of the Federal offices to the merchants of Boise City, to enable him to buy cartridges and powder, which was promptly refused, on the grounds that to give or aid Indians in obtaining ammunition was in violation of an order of the President and of the War Department. The Indians seemed most eager and persistent in their strategy to secure the ammunition, and their efforts were at last crowned with success by getting an order from his Excellency, Mason Brayman, Governor of all Idaho, addressed to a merchant of this city, by the means of which ammuntion was obtained.

Thus it was that no man was found so stupid and ignorant of Indian character and of the dangers that surround our people as to furnish the means to the Indians to open and commence their depredations upon the lives and property of our citizens, except the distinguished Mason Bryman, Commander-in-Chief of the Idaho Phantom Militia three regiments of which His Excellency reported to congress, through our Representative, Hon. S.S. Fenn, he had organized which every man, woman and child in the Territory knows to be utterly false.

The fruits of this man's imbecility and ignorance have now ripened into an Indian outbreak, the magnitude of which it is impossible at this hour to foretell.

The Commander of Fort Boise, Maj. P. Collins, had the cavalry mounted and on the line of march, commanded by Col. Bernard and Lieuts. Ward and Pitcher, in about two hours after the news of the outbreak reached here. The conduct and promptness of these brave and gallant officers in their onward movement, and the rapid march of Col. Bernard's command through the streets in the dark of night, destined for the scene of danger, to rescue lives and property from a treacherous and savage foe, elicited the hearty commendations of the people, who, from the news received, felt just cause for alarm.

We suppose Brayman will follow in the wake of the troops, and if war and danger is averted he can resolve himself into a grand meeting and get complimentary resolutions passed expressive of confidence in his judgment, as was done in Owyhee.

How long will the people of Idaho tolerate the affliction of a man who furnishes Indians with ammuntion to destroy the lives and property of the people? We expect soon to hear Brayman say on this occasion as he has on many others that he has assurances from Secretary ___ that "he is fully un_____ and warmly sustained at _____on." The people of Idaho can endure a great deal, but there is a limit to human patience. ___ had better go away ____ anger of the people is _____.

Field, Virgil F., Washington National Guard Pamphlet: The Official History of the Washington Nation Guard, 3 vols

Telegram, 1 Jun 1878

To: Governor of Idaho, Boise City.
From: HQ. Mil Div, Pacific, San Francisco Calif.

Alarming reports have reached here about hostile attitude of Bannock Indians. So far as I can learn, this has been brought about by Indians firing on two whites whom they had ordered off the Big Camas Prairie. It would seem the Indians had looked on the whites as intruders and trespassers. Can you give me any light on the subject, and can you take measures to allay hostile feeling, to see if the questions can be met without an Indian War?

I have telegraphed to this effect to General Howard, and directed him to confer with you. He is anxious about the Indians in Washington Territory who have been uneasy and disposed to break out into hostilities.


Telegram, 2 Jun 1878

To: Maj. Gen. McDowell, HQ. Mil Div, Pacific, San Francisco, Calif.
From: M. Brayman, Governor of Idaho, Boise City.

The trouble grows out of the claims of the Indians to Big Camas Prairie. The present treaty rights I will explain by letter. In addition to the shooting two men, King Hill Station, overland road, was raided and horses taken. This indicates a settled purpose. The Sheriff of Owyhee telegraphs from Silver City that 150 are raiding on Jordan Valley Stage Road, without violence as yet, but threatening. I am enjoining caution, and have written Major Collins to avoid collision until inquiry. There is danger of general war.

Telegram, 2 Jun 1878

To: Adjutant General, Mil Div, Pacific, San Francisco, Calif.
From: Patton, Commanding Officer, Boise

Messenger arrived this morning from Captain Bernard, commanding Camas Prairie; writes as follows: Arrived Camas Prairie June 1st, where men were shot. Indians have taken herder's tent, contents, and horses, killing three of them. Indians are supposed to be encamped in a strong place, Lava Beds, seven miles from here.

The best estimate I can get there is about 300. To reach them, have to move over very rough country, so shall develop their condition carefully. Some think trouble done by young bucks; others think they mean war. Indians who are living in settlements have gone to Lava Beds. From letters sent me from Wood Creek, think the party committing depredations on overland road are Piutes and Umatillas returning to their country.

Going west from Camas this party took King Hill Station, overland road, driving off stage stock, cutting up harness, etc. Men escaped and observed depredations from distance. Employed good scout, who says he can find whether Indians left Lava Beds or not. Will prospect, and, if gone, follow trail.

Another messenger, from Press reporter with Captain Collins, states that: 

Buffalo Horn, evidently hostile, told Corder, friendly white, he had better leave with family, which he did. Twenty-five or 30 have joined Captain Collins. Boise Jim, of Camas Creek, on learning of approach of troops, left to join the Indians on Camas Prairie.

Thomas Silvey, messenger, brother of Silvey shot, and member of the camp first attacked, gives Patton details of first outbreak, which Patton has mailed.

Silvey is a reliable man; believes attack was premeditated. Stockmen had been warned for some time. Indians finally took treacherous means to kill three of them; succeeded in wounding two, one fatally. Squaw-man Dempsey writes Governor Brayman, Indians are acting in concert. Intend fighting if troops are sent. Later advises report threatened difficulty in Owyhee Valley. 

Later dispatch from Patton says: 

Late advises by overland stage report two wagons captured and destroyed by Indians just beyond Glenn's Ferry. This is supposed to be party that attacked King Hill yesterday, as they were then moving in that direction. They cut the ferry loose. Nothing heard of the teamsters. One of the wagons had considerable ammunition and powder; also revolvers.

Telegram, Portland, Oregon, 3 Jun 1878

To: Adjunct General, Division, Pacific, San Francisco
From: Gen. O.O. Howard, Commanding

Report from citizens of Boise: Indians raiding Overland Road, seventy miles south of Captain Collin's camp, at Big Camas Prairie. Have destroyed King Hill Station, several ranch buildings, Glenn's Ferry, burned Eli and Watkin's freight wagons, stolen over one hundred horses. Indians on the war path surely. Families fleeing and fortifying.

Edward Paine sends following: Paine's Ferry, 1 June. Five families came here for protection last night. Expect assistance from Boise City to hold this place. This is the stage-ferry, thirty miles above Glenn's, the only one left on the river. Heavy teams are on the road. Can get fifty men to hold place if we can arm them. They ask for order on Patton for fifteen (days) rations and supplies. They will start tomorrow if they get the supplies.

Twenty citizens of Rocky Bar, under Sheriff Campbell, joined Captain Bernard; twenty five more, under G.A. Parson, have joined Captain Collins.

Governor Brayman sends similar information, adding the right to Big Camas Prairie is evidently the cause. Am not satisfied as to disposition of Buffalo Horn. I will continue concentrating at Boise adequate force unless otherwise directed.

Telegram, 4 Jun 1878

To: Adjunct General, Division, Pacific, San Francisco
From: Gen. O.O. Howard, Commanding

Everything communicated from Boise confirmed by official reports just received from Bernard and Collins, with additional particulars that Lemhi Indians and others are involved, and that the numbers in the field are at least five hundred; that a man, and probably a woman, killed south of the Snake River. Several herds of horses captured, and evident purpose of Indians is to move westward. Have set in motion troops for quickest possible concentration.

Telegram, 5 Jun 1878

To: Adjunct General, Division, Pacific, San Francisco
From: Gen. O.O. Howard, Commanding

Scouts sent yesterday to south of River returned; they went to Bruneau Valley, found the people fortified, much property destroyed. One man missing, supposed to be killed. Indians going South towards Juniper Mountains; they are believed to be Pi-Utes and Bannocks. All stock about Bruneau Valley is taken by the Indians; they are reported to be from 150 to 200 warriors; the command will cross the river today, and will follow their trail. Have four day's rations on their horses, and will be cautious, and keep close to the Indians. I start to Boise City today to make arrangements about supplies.

Telegram, 6 Jun 1878

To: Gen. W.T. Sherman, Washington DC
From: Maj. Gen. McDowell, HQ Mil Div, Pacific, San Francisco

The following dispatch received from General Crook, dated 5 June: Captain Bainbridge, commanding Fort Hall, reports on fourth instant that an Indian, arrived at the agency second instant from Buffalo Horn's camp, says Indians at Camas Prairie had done no wrong, that Buffalo Horn had but 10 lodges, and was coming to agency in two weeks. All quiet at agency and vicinity tonight.

I have telegraphed Howard, and Major Stanford, and Governor of Idaho to see if it is possible to communicate with the Indians at Camas Prairie and avoid hostilities.

Also asked Crook to instruct Captain Bainbridge to send some of the Fort Hall Indians to Camas Prairie, to say to them that we do not wish to make war upon them if they have done no wrong, and urge them to come at once to the agency, to avoid the parties in Idaho who are seeking them for the attack made on the two white men in Camas Prairie.

Telegram, 6 Jun 1878

To: Maj. Gen. McDowell HQ. Mil Div, Pacific, San Francisco Calif.
From: M. Brayman, Governor of Idaho, Boise City

On the 15th May Buffalo Horn gave me the same assurances as you mention, that after digging camas he would return with his followers to Fort Hall. I gave him permission to buy one hundred (100) cartridges and a little powder, to hunt during his stay. I have yet only rumor that he has changed his mind, but he appears to be hostile. Before I received your dispatch, the troops were on Camas Prairie and the Indians beyond reach. 

It had become a purely military question. The time to approach them, except through the military authorities, appears to have gone before I could reach them. When General Howard arrives something may be done in that direction, if possible. I will aid them to find the original of the difficulties and to settle it. 

The Associated Press have an unfaithful agent here, whose reports are unreliable and often mere invention. Several new depredations and a few murders are reported tonight.

Idaho Tri Weekly Statesman, Boise City, Idaho
6 Jun 1878, pg. 1, col. 1.

The Indian Situation

The operations of the past few days in Big Camas Prairie and vicinity have made it evident that there was a large body of Indians encamped in the lava beds at the commencement of the outbreak. Col. Bernard who, with his cavalry company of 60 men, and a few scouts, went into the lava beds on Sunday last where the Indians were first encamped, found certain indications that there had been some thirty-two or three lodges encamped there the day before.

These Indians, at the approach of the troops, fled precipitately, leaving lodge poles and other articles never left behind by Indians when they can be taken along. The Indians, when forced to abandon their camp, went farther into the lava beds in search of a stronger position. Col. Bernard could not pursue them farther, as the day was far spent, and he had only one day's rations with no supplies at hand. Besides he was restrained by the dispatch of Gen. Howard, instructing Maj. Collins, that commanding officer, to proceed with the utmost caution and not do anything to bring disaster to the troops.

Under all the circumstances he was compelled to leave the lava beds, and accordingly went on to King Hill Station, on the Overland road, which had been raided by the Indians, to give protection to the stage road and to the settlers of the neighborhood.

From this point Col. Bernard came eastward along the stage road, on Monday to Rattlesnake Station, where he was joined at noon of that day by Maj. Collins, Col. Robbins and his scouts, and the Alturas volunteers, under Capt Geo. M. Parsons.

From what could be learned up to that time a large body of armed Indians, mounted on good horses stolen from the whites, had, after raiding Glenn's ferry, passed down on either side of the Snake, making for the Bruneau valley and Dorsey's ferry on Snake river, near the mouth of the Bruneau.

At dusk Monday evening Col. Robbins with a few scouts left camp and went to Snake river, near Dorsey's, some thirty miles distant, returning to camp at seven o'clock Tuesday morning. Upon the arrival of Robbin, Maj. Collins decided to move the command in the direction of
Dorsey's ferry and to cross Snake river at that point if practicable, and if not to proceed down the river to Munday's ferry on the Winnemucca road and cross the river at that point.

The marching column consisted of Col. Bernard's company of cavalry and Col. Robbins with fifteen scouts, the whole under command of Maj. P. Collins, taking with them five day's rations. The baggage train under charge of Lieut. Riley, with an escort of ten men was started for Boise City.

A letter received here from Sheriff Hayes, of Owyhee county, states that the Indians were raiding the Bruneau valley and threatening the other settlements in Owyhee. It is thought that this band of Indians will rendezvous in the country about the three forks of the Owyhee river, where they will probably be joined by the scattered bands of Piutes and other Indians in that direction.

The Indians having all left their reservations, the indications are that they are now all disposed to go upon the war path and will have to be met and fought before the summer is over. Their present object seems to be to keep out of the way of the troops, do all the mischief they can in the way of stealing horses and running off stock, so as to be well mounted and provisioned when they decide upon their plan of active hostilities.

Several companies of regular troops and all the volunteers that can be mustered will be required to keep track of the various bands of Indians now roaming through the country committing depredations, and to bring them to terms.The sooner a sufficient force is placed in the field, the greater will be the saving of lives and property.

Field, Virgil F., Washington National Guard Pamphlet: The Official History of the Washington Nation Guard, 3 vols.

Telegram, 9 Jun 1878

To: Adjutant General, Mil Div, Pacific, San Francisco, Calif.
From: Sladon, Aide

Following just received from Collins, Boise, dated today. Just shown the following addressed to Governor Brayman: 

Yesterday afternoon Harper's company of volunteers came across about sixty Bannock Indians seven miles East of South Mountain, who attacked him; was compelled to retreat, Indians following seven miles, killing four white men and two Piute scouts, wounding Thomas Bones, also one man missing; several horses killed and wounded. Harper expects re-enforcements early this morning, then will return to scene and recover dead. Hills full of hostile Indians; need men and arms at once. Show to Major Collins.

General Howard telegraphs following today from Walla Walla: 

Reports from Wheaton represent some Bannocks appearing in neighborhood of Salmon River and people fleeing to Mount Idaho, reconnoitering parties have been drawn in. I expect to leave this afternoon for Boise after Wheaton comes here.

Idaho Tri Weekly Statesman, Boise City, Idaho
13 Jun 1878, pg. 2, col. 1.

Mr. Anderson's Letter

The letter from Hon. V.S. Anderson, of Rocky Bar which appears in another column of today's issue, and which we printed as an extra Tuesday evening, is deserving of a passing notice.

It is quite probable that Maj. Jim did meet a portion of the Indians who had been encamped near Camas Prairie and who may have been on their way to Lemhi and Fort Hall, but they were probably only the old men, women and children, while the fighting material under Buffalo Horn took the war path.

The fact that numerous parties of Indians have been seen during the past week between the lava beds and Snake river makes it doubtful, to say the least, that they have all abandoned the lava beds, or that the Overland road is entirely free from the danger of Indian raids. The people of Alturas have acted nobly in this emergency, and particularly the brave nine who scouted the prairie in search of red skins.

Having their all at stake on the side of peace and safety, it is not surprising that they are a little over sanguine at the prospect indicated by the story of Major Jim, but it would be best not to remit any degree of vigilance on account of it. The troops and volunteers now on the Overland road will doubtless make travel comparatively safe for the present, but as the line is a long one and exposed at many points, it would be only prudent for travelers to be on their guard.

The Situation

It is impossible at the moment of writing this to say anything definite with regard to the whereabouts of the Indians, or to indicate the scene of future military operations. It is probable that Buffalo Horn and the band with which he left Camas Prairie have been largely reinforced since they went to Juniper mountain by the Piutes and other Indians from the Malheur reservation. What their numbers may be, no one is in a position to tell. They will probably make a stand where they are now and in the event of defeat attempt to regain their former stronghold in the lava beds.

Buffalo Horn is reported to have visited the Malheur Agency where he was engaged in inciting the Indians there to join him, which they no doubt did, as they all left the reservation shortly after his visit. The arrival of Gen. Howard at this moment is most opportune, as he will be able to judge the situation correctly from personal observation, and with the force at his command soon restore peace to the country.

Gen. O.O. Howard

Gen. O.O. Howard comes to Idaho at a most opportune moment and will take the field with the forces at his command and keep it until the roving and murderous Bannocks and their treacherous allies are taught a lesson they will not soon forget.

During yesterday he was actively engaged in making preparations for the coming campaign and in interviews with the leading citizens, who paid their respects to him. He has already shown that he fully appreciates the situation in all its bearings, and that he is determined to leave nothing undone to relieve the people of Idaho from the dangers which threaten them.

Idaho Tri Weekly Statesman, Boise City, Idaho
13 Jun 1878, pg. 3, col. 2.

Important News from Alturas

The Big Camas Prairie and the Lava Beds Reported Free from Indians

Major Jim and Interpreter Joe on Their Way to The City and Work of the Alturas Valley and Rocky Bar Volunteers

Mr. Sim. Anderson of this place, arrived here last night, and reports as follows:

After the departure of the soldiers and the return to this place of the main body of the Rocky Bar volunteers, nine of those who had gone to the front, viz: Joseph Saloway, Sim. Anderson, Geo. Richardson, Sim. O. Nicholson of this place, James Center and ___ Bryan of Red Warrior. Wm. McKam and Milt Mourning of Bonaparte, Geo. W. Kelley of Indian Creek, determined to take a scout on Big Camas prairie, and find the Indians, and if possible get Dempsey.

They arrived on the prairie on the morning of June 6th. They had a good field glass, and could discover no Indians whatever on Big Camas. They pushed on and on Friday, June 7th about 10 o'clock, they were beyond Soldier creek, about eighty miles from this place, and there they ran across Major Jim (an Indian well known in Boise City), with a half breed Indian interpreter called Joe (was a scout last year with Robbins, and is very intelligent), with three squaws, one papoose, and some twenty-five head of horses.

They had started from Lemhi to go to Boise City, and had met the retreating Indians, and did not know what to do. Were afraid to either come forward or go back. Major Jim knew some of the party, and striking his breast, said it made his heart feel good to meet them; that he had been very scared; he feared both the whites and the Indians.

Major Jim and the interpreter, Joe, stated that they had met all the retreating Indians, and talked with them and learned from them the following: That the night after the shooting of Kensler and Nesby all of Ten Doy's band on Big Camas started for the Lemhi Reservation, and that all the Bannocks and other Indians who did not take part and go with Buffalo Horn started for the Fort Hall Reservation. That Bannock John's son Joe, a wild, young and quarrelsome buck, had, the day and night before the shooting, been gambling and drinking and had lost everything. That he got mad and desperate. That he persuaded another Indian to go with them, and that the two went to Silvey's camp, and Joe did the shooting.

That after it occurred there was wild excitement among the Bannocks, and that they came near fighting among themselves: there being a peace party and a war party. That they finally divided, the peace party going back to the reservation and the war party going with Buffalo Horn. That heretofore an officer at Fort Hall had told the Bannocks that the whole tribe would be held responsible for any depredations, and that Buffalo Horn said that since they would be held responsible anyhow for the shooting, and would be severely punished, that they might as well start in, go on the war path and get some horses and property.

That they then drove Silvey's band of horses in the corral and caught all they could, and those they could not manage they shot. That Buffalo Horn, with the hostiles, started for Snake river with the intention of crossing and escaping, and the other Indians left for their reservation. That there are twelve lodges of the hostile ones, averaging eight or nine to the lodge; most of them young bucks. That all the fighting ones, could not possibly number two hundred.

That there is no general war feeling at all. That none of Ten Doy's band, or the Shoshones will take part in a general war, and but a few of the Bannocks and Snakes. That those under Buffalo Horn are more on the steal than fight, and that they can be easily whipped. That upon the first loss or disaster they will give up. That someone has been selling the Indians whisky. That they have had three or four big sprees on Big Camas, and that has been the principal cause of the outbreak. That none of Ten Doy's band will return to big Camas this season, and that they send word that all whites traveling through their country will be safe and protected. That they will allow no hostile Indians in their country.

Such in brief is the story told by Major Jim and Joe, the half-breed interpreter, as they got it from the Indians themselves, and they further state that all the Indians have left Big Camas and its neighborhood. Mr. Anderson reports that they could not find any trace of Indians on Big Camas, and believes that they have all left and that it is as safe there as anywhere. They quieted Major Jim's fears and got him to come back with them. Friday night, June 5th, they camped at Cabin or Chimney creek, on Big Camas. Yesterday, June 8th, Mr. Anderson rode on with Major Jim, the interpreter Joe, and their squaws and horses, while the remaining eight of the boys would stay another day on the prairie, and look around some more for Demsey, and see if all the Indians have left.

Yesterday Mr. Anderson conducted Major Jim and Joe and their outfit to Tatro's station on Wood creek where they will remain today, and when the Rocky Bar stage passes down tomorrow _____ to tell the news and notify people not to harm Major Jim and his outfit for all the boys _____ and not harmed they would come in and tell the story. Major Jim and Joe and their outfit will _____by _____stages to Boise City, and will arrive here by Thursday or Friday when you can will interview him yourself and learn the _____ I have written.

The nine brave boys who ventured out on Big Camas _____ and gave us this important news are deserving of great praise for their daring and the public service they have done. They deserved our warmest thanks and heartiest praise.

According to this news it is believed that the war in these parts has virtually ended, and settlers may return to their homes, teamsters start their freight wagons again. The stages run their regular trips and all business be resumed and carried on as before the outbreak for all of which we are duly thankful, for if it had been an all summer's war this country would have been ruined.

V.S. Anderson

[Editor's Note] This story of Maj. Jim can be taken with a good many grains of allowance. He is a cowardly Indian and many or many not tell the whole truth.

Field, Virgil F., Washington National Guard Pamphlet: The Official History of the Washington Nation Guard, 3 vols.

Letter, 13 June 1878

To: Brig Gen O.O. Howard, Commanding Department of the Columbia
From: M. Brayman, Governor of Idaho

Sir: In reply to your inquiry as to the claim of the Bannocks to the "Big Camas Prairie" in Alturas County, I have the honor to refer to the treaty between the United States of America and the Eastern band of Shoshones and the Bannock tribe of Indians, concluded 3 July 1868, ratification advised 16 February 1869, found on page 931 of "Reversion of Indian Treaties," published in 1873.

Article 2, page 933, provided that "It is agreed that whenever the Bannocks desire a reservation to be set apart for their use, or whenever the President of the United States shall deem it advisable for them to be put on a reservation, he shall cause a suitable one to be selected for them in their present country, which shall embrace reasonable portions of the "Port Neuf and Kansas Prairie" countries, and that when this reservation is declared, the United States shall secure to the Bannocks the same rights and privileges therein, and make the same and like expenditures therein for their benefit, except the agency-house and residence of agent, in proportion to their numbers as herein provided for the Shoshoe reservation."

Article 6, last paragraph, page 935, provides that "The President may, at any time, order a survey of these reservations, and when so surveyed Congress shall provide for protecting the rights of the Indian settlers on these improvements, and may fix the character of the title held by each."

Very liberal provisions are made for the acquirement of homesteads, the protection of private rights, the establishment of schools, and the encouragement of agriculture.

It seems to be understood that "Kansas Prairie" is a misprint, there being no prairie of that name West of the mountains, and that "Camas Prairie" is meant.

The Indians understand it thus, and without exception or doubt insist that the "Big Camas Prairie" is theirs by that treaty. In proof of the sincerity of their belief, it is true that they have each year, during the season for digging for camas roots and hunting, resorted in great numbers to and occupied this tract of country. The camas root is to them the equivalent of our potato, and it grows spontaneously in vast quantities on these grounds. I have been visited by a great number of Indians who uniformly claim "Camas Prairie" as their "garden." They declare their rights by this treaty whether the word be "Kansas" or "Camas."

These Indians state that the climate and soil at Fort Hall reservation are not adapted to the raising of vegetables, and say that the "Camas Prairie" is their garden, without which they would suffer hunger, for the dried and pulverized root of the camas is easily transported and is capable of preservation through all seasons. 

To lose "Camas Prairie" is considered by them the loss of their only sure and abundant supply of vegetable food. The increasing wants of our advancing population have for years invited increasing encroachments upon this prairie. Herders crowd upon it with thousands of cattle, destroying the product, and bands of "hogs" that dig up the roots, destroying not only the growing crop, but the seed of the future.

This process advances in proportions each year, and the discontent and resentment of the Indians become more bitter and dangerous. Left to itself, this condition of things tends to collision and bloodshed, which, in savage casuistry, is war.

It does not appear that the President has, as provided in the treaty stipulations, formally set apart Camas Prairie, to the use of these Indians, or directed its survey, nor that Congress has acted on the subject.

If it was the intention of the parties to the treaty to set apart Camas Prairie to the use of these Indians, as they claim, it lies with the President and Congress to carry that understanding into effect. If not, it should be so declared and early steps taken to advise all parties of the right of the matter.

It is at this late day evidently better that the Indian claim, if recognized, should be extinguished in fair equivalents under a new arrangement, and the land in question surveyed and opened to settlement. Stock-raising, and the constant passing of the animals over the prairie to market, renders the exclusive use by the Indians impossible, and plants in the midst of our growing settlements an ever-threatening danger. During the long and unwise delay the conditions have changed, and if the national authorities would, they cannot now in safety and with hope of peaceful results, confirm the Indian claims.

I respectfully furnish you these facts and suggestions for your present information in aid of such suggestions as it may be your duty to make to the superior authority, only adding an urgent appeal that the matter may be definitely and distinctly settled at an early day.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

M. Brayman, Governor of Idaho

Idaho Tri Weekly Statesman, Boise City, Idaho
18 Jun 1878, pg. 3, col. 2.

The Captive Indian

On the 31st May, the day after the shooting of Messrs. Kensler and Nesby at Silvey's camp on the Big Camas Prairie, some of the men belonging to the _____, cattle drovers, then encamped at Dixie Ranch on the Rattlesnake and Rocky Bar stage road, saw an Indian on horseback passing near their camp. They brought their guns to bear upon the Indian who was traveling leisurely and unconcernedly along which caused him to halt and come into their camp. The Indian was kept a prisoner by his captors until the evening of the second of June, when he was turned over to Major Collins, then on his return from Silvey's camp to Rattlesnake to which point he was brought, and he accompanied the cavalry to the Big Bend on Snake river on the 4th, and came with Maj. Collins to Ft. Boise on the day and night following.

During his stay with the citizens and troops the Indian made no attempt to escape. The account which he gave of himself was that he lived in the Malheur country; that according to his annual custom he had been to the Big Camas prairie to visit some friends with whom he had been in the habit of trading; that he did not find his friends there, but found other Indians who were angry and whom he regarded as his enemies, and that he was on his return home, without seeking to avoid the whites, from whom he knew of no cause of fear or enmity when he was ordered to halt and made prisoner. He remained at Ft. Boise until the pack train in charge of Lieut. Riley went to Munday's ferry on the way to Silver City, when he was taken along with the train and remained with it until the train reached Silver City.

Who this Indian really is, on what mission he was engaged, or what has been to be done with him, we have no means or knowing or judging. His captors thought that it would be a stupid and unnecessary act of butchery to kill him, under the circumstances and the same sentiment prevailed with the officers who took charge of him.

It was natural enough in a moment of excitement like that prevailing at Silver City at the moment of his arrival there that the citizens should regard him as an enemy, who should be killed, but it could not be expected that an officer of the army in the position of Gen. Howard, should share this feeling to the extent of consenting to the commission of such an act. We do not think that Gen. Crook or any other officer would consent to the killing of a prisoner until it was proved that the same prisoner had been guilty of some act deserving of death.

Idaho Tri Weekly Statesman, Boise City, Idaho
18 Jul 1878, pg. 2, col. 4.

Idaho's Share of the War

It is extremely probable that it was the intention of the Bannock Indians to have made Idaho the principal theatre of their depredations as it was the starting point of their operations. The promptness with which Maj. Collins threw the small force at his command into the Big Camas prairie almost on the same day of the outbreak, and the dash and energy of Col. Bernard in following the trail of the hostiles with his single company of cavalry, until they were driven completely out of the Territory, saved the exposed and defenseless settlers an untold amount of loss and suffering, which they would otherwise have sustained at the hands of the Indians.

The Bannocks doubtless intended to have remained in the neighborhood of the Big Camas prairie until their preparations were perfected and their forces largely increased by the bands of disaffected Indians, with whom it is known they were in communication, but the rashness of two of their number, who commenced the work prematurely by the shooting of Kensler and Nesby at Silvey's camp on the prairie, threw them into confusion and spoiled their first plan, which was completely destroyed by the almost simultaneous arrival of the gallant Bernard and his men of iron, who proceeded without a moments hesitation to what was represented as the impregnable stronghold of the Indians.

When the savages saw that this little avalanche of brave men was being hurled upon them regardless of numbers or consequences, they became divided in their councils: the more timid and unwarlike became frightened and took up their line of march back towards Ft. Hall and Lemhi, while the more reckless and determined of their number left the lava beds to go in search of their allies, who had not had time to join them in their first place of rendezvous.

Once upon the trail, Col. Bernard allowed them neither rest or respite until they were driven into the path of the troops advancing from the west. Since then the theatre of war has been in Oregon up to this time, with some uncertainty as to where it may yet be carried; but thus far at least, Idaho has been saved from the larger share of calamities which seemed in store for her at the beginning.

Had there been at the commencement of hostilities two other companies of cavalry like Bernard's at Ft. Boise, the band of hostile Bannocks would never have crossed Snake river, and the war would have been ended ere it was well begun. Readers at a distance will be tempted to ask what in the meantime have the brave pioneers, the people of Idaho, themselves done in their own defense. Taking the accounts published by the authority (?) of the aggregate number and amount of arms and ammunition distributed in the Territory, a stranger would get the impression that the people of Idaho were armed to the teeth and fully able to defend themselves against any number of savage forces, but it must be borne in mind that these arms have been scattered over a vast area, in localities widely separated from each other; that they are in the hands of men who own obedience to no semblance of military authority; in the hands of men who, however willing to march to any point in defense of the country, have not the means of sustaining themselves in the field; men for whose government in the field there is no legal organization and for whose support there is no provision whatever.

Under these circumstances, except as a means of purely local defense, these arms might almost as well have remained stacked in the Government arsenal. Men cannot leave their homes and remain for weeks, and perhaps months in the field, without being provided for at the public expense, and for this there is no provision whatever. This has forced the people to remain at home, armed or unarmed and compelled them to leave the field almost entirely to the Federal troops.

Idaho Tri Weekly Statesman, Boise City, Idaho
20 Jul 1878, pg. 3, col. 2.


The People all Forted Up Indians Saucy, Killing Stock, but not yet on the War Path

_____ Pooler arrived before yesterday noon from Salmon City having left there on the _____ valley, Yankee Fork and Idaho City. He says the Indian excitement at Salmon City and through the Lemhi valley is _____. Ten Doy, Chief of the Bannocks wants to be peaceable, but cannot control his Indians. Ten Doy had notified the settlers to leave and go to town that there was liable to be an outbreak at any time.

The settlers have all left their homes and are forted up at Salmon City and at the Junction; about 60 families are at Salmon and 10 families and fifteen fighting men are at the Junction. The Junction is 50 miles above Salmon City. They have a good fort at Salmon, and a barricade of wagons are placed around the fort. At the Junction they let no Indians pass. The Indians number between 600 and 700 warriors, have 110 lodges, are camped 22 miles above Salmon City, and in fact occupy all the country from Salmon City to the Junction.

There is no travel on the road, the mail carrier goes through, and that is about all. Only one freight team has been in from the railroad since the outbreak on Camas prairie the 28th of May. This was a German. He brought in mill machinery and a lot of guns from Kelton. The Indians crawled up on the wagon and demanded to know if he had anything in the wagon besides what they could see (the guns were covered up with iron pipe and machinery). He told them no, and he was allowed to pass. The guns were for Col. Shoup, and he distributed them among the people.

Mr. Pooler was up through the valley as far as the Junction, and came down on the 9th – the day before he left Salmon City. He says the Indians are very saucy. Major Jim, our old bummer Indian, who was caught out on Big Camas prairie by the Alturas scouts after the outbreak, and who ought to have been made a good Indian of then and there, is at the head of about 60 warriors, and saucy and mean as he can be, forages on the cattle in the valley, and demands flour and whatever he wants of the people of Salmon City.

Ten Doy sent word to Col. Shoup that he wanted flour, to keep his Indians peaceable. The Colonel took him up 700 pounds, and Maj. Jim told him to give him four too, and that he was going to have it. Shoup also furnished him with flour. Another sub-Chief, by the name of Peggy, who used to be peaceable and considered a good Indian, is worse than any of the rest and takes whatever he wants for his band.

When Pooler came through Round valley, 42 miles the other side of Yankee Fork, he was told by the postmaster that fifteen Indians, supposed to be renegades returning from the hostilities two days before, had driven six miners, 16 miles above the town, across the river, made them swim the river, stole their horses and stole and destroyed the grub and camp fixings of the miners, and went on towards the Lemhi.

Pooler says the town building up in Round valley, at the end of the Wood river wagon road to Salt Lake, has quite a lively appearance, but it was very dead at Yankee Fork only a few people in town, and not much doing. There is a good deal of prospecting, but no facilities for reducing _____, and no money to speak of in circulation. Several new mines have recently been struck. One called the Bay Hose in the vicinity of Round valley is a very rich gold mine. another mine recently struck on Eight Mile creek, near Yankee Fork, is said to be richer than the famous Norton mine. Mr. Pooler thinks the Yankee Fork country is marvelously rich, but they will not do much, farther than to prospect this year. He intends to return next year, thinks it is soon enough to go there.

Idaho Tri Weekly Statesman, Boise City, Idaho
17 Aug 1878, pg. 2, col. 1.


From all that can be learned it appears that the Piutes have given up all thought of continuing hostilities; that they are broken up into small bands and that many of them have already gone in and surrendered; but we do not learn that any considerable amount of the arms which they used in their murderous raids have been found with them, nor are we sure that there are not yet in the mountains some predatory bands sufficient in numbers, with arms in their hands, to menace the safety of solitary travelers and the exposed settlers.

The question with regard to these Indians is, where are the arms they have used? Until these are brought in and given up but little confidence can be placed in the disposition of the Indians. Nothing short of their being rendered powerless for further harm can restore confidence to the people who have suffered so much at their hands.

As to the Bannocks, putting together the numerous parties who are known to have crossed Snake river and the Overland road and passed into the mountains about the Big Camas prairie; their numbers cannot be less than 200 armed warriors, but slightly embarrassed with women and children who are now scattered throughout the Camas prairie country and the mountains of Alturas, probably working their way towards Fort Hall and Lemhi. These Indians are so divided and scattered at present, in front and in rear and all around the pursuing column of cavalry under Col. Green, that he is at a loss as to which of the trails to follow, or in which direction to go in order to strike any considerable number. These Indians are known to be well armed and well mounted. They have shown no sign of a wish to surrender or of ceasing their depredations.

The task assigned Col. Green of pursuing and capturing these hostile Bannocks is attended with perhaps more difficulty than any undertaken during the campaign. He has the hardest part of the stern chase. The best view that can be taken of the situation in that quarter is that the Indians may soon leave Idaho and pass into Montana, where they may be met by the troops in that region.

It is very much the fashion to laud Gen. Crook, and to express regrets that he was not in command here. Yet Gen. Crook had quite a force at Fort Hall which has been idle all summer, and which could have been employed in reconnoitering in the direction of the Big Camas prairie and along Snake river while the troops under Gen Howard had all they could do in beating back the Indians from their purpose of crossing the Columbia and the lower Snake river, and in dealing them the blows which compelled them to divide and retreat by the way they came.

Had a portion of the troops at the disposal of Gen Crook been employed as above indicated, the retreat of the Bannocks would have been prevented. Why this was not done is of course best known to Gen. Crook, but it will always appear to many that it would have been better to lend a hand in this needed direction and emergency than to allow himself to be represented in that famous interview as laying all the blame of Indian wars and their afflicting results upon the Government for not feeding the Indians the year round, and upon the people for not leaving the country unsettled for the use of idle savages.

The plain truth is that the Indian goes to war in summer when the mountains are full of game and the streams are full of fish, and when he has perfect freedom to roam wherever his inclinations may lead him; not because he is starved or in danger of suffering for food, but simply because he finds himself armed and mounted, with the power and opportunity of going upon the war path.

The Government is to blame for allowing Indians to be the owners of improved firearms, and the people are to blame for living upon the frontier without arms or means of defense. If these two errors were corrected the Indians would never think of going to war, and would be reduced to the salutary alternative of working or starving.

Idaho Tri Weekly Statesman, Boise City, Idaho
19 Sep 1878, pg. 2, col. 1

Col. Green's Command

Col. John Green, commander of the force that scouted the Camas prairie and Lemhi country, returned on Tuesday. He left the command at Soldier creek and came in on the stage from Rattlesnake. His march in the eastern portion of the Territory has exceeded one thousand miles. Our war correspondent. J.B. Foster, of this city, was with the command or some portions of it during this entire march. His letters, two of which we publish today, giving a summary of their marches and scouting, and the wily ways in which the Indians have escaped capture is more accurate and far better than anything we can write. He was on the ground, knows the marches and the efforts made by the Colonel and officers and solders under his command to capture these Indians and his account of the campaign will be set down as truthful and relied upon as correct in all its details.

That Col. Green has done his best to capture the fleeing hostiles, no reasonable man will dispute. He has harassed and driven them from valley to mountain and mountain to valley, until they were compelled to divide up into parties of two's and three's and take it afoot in order to escape detecting their trails. That they have succeeded in escaping the vigilance of the troops in this way is not very surprising. Col. Green thinks there may be a few Indians left in the country, but the main portion are trying to get through to the buffalo country and join the other Bannock's with Tendoy, while some have probably stole on to the Ft. Hall reservation.

He thinks that Miles struck the party who stole Bown's, Corder's and others horses on Indian creek in his fight on the 13th on Soda Butte creek, near Clark's Fork, when he killed thirteen and captured the rest of the party, thirty-seven in all and about sixty head of horses. The most probable chance to capture the rest of the stragglers will be this winter when they are on the reservations or where ever they may take up their winter quarters.


Upper Timerblne on a Spur of the Rocky M't's.
September 3rd, 1878

We left our camp in Lemhi valley this morning at 7 o'clock and took up one of the many beautiful clear streams that flow from the snow capped mountains into the Lemhi hoping to intercept some member of the Lo family as several of them are known to be prowling among the high peaks of this range, but we have marched about twenty five miles, every step up hill, and not met any of the sneaking thieves.

Our camp tonight is near the line of altitude where the hardy mountain pine finds the air too high and cold for it to grow successfully, and where the surplus snow of Adam's first winter has lain in a good state of preservation during the rise and fall of all the empires of earth, and will doubtless be present when the last reveille is sounded to call up the last army who have fought the battle of life and been forgotten except by the Great Commander. But I did not intend to run off on such a tangent as that. I simply aimed to say something of our camp.

With the perpetual snow almost in reach of us, we are camped in a small flat upon which grows a rich coat of short nutritious bunch grass, known in these parts as buffalo grass. Our horses seem to relish it very much. Among a little stream that trickles down the mountain I find a great quantity of wild goose-berries which are now just ripe, and they certainly contain more acid to the square inch than any fruit your correspondent ever touched to his lips.

Charley Adams explains the matter and the theory that they inherited all the flavor of their larger brothers of other climes, but by some unfortunate accident lost all their sweet, and now they are left as we find them, nothing but a small bunch of sour. As there is no easy way of proving his theory wrong we all agreed to accept it until someone offered a better one.

By the way our old captive and his family of whom I wrote. Who threw up his hands and cried Ten Doy! Ten Doy! so lustily when captured and was taken to the Ten Doy Indians and disowned by them and sent back to us. We have since learned through our guide that he is the father of the young Indian who did the first shooting on Camas prairie last spring at Silvey's ranch. He will doubtless be brought to Boise City.

Jo Pinkham, Lafe Griffin, Chas. Adams, and in fact all the boys are well and seem to enjoy themselves very well.

Sept. 4, 1878

A severe rain storm cut my letter off yesterday and forced us to retreat from the high position occupied at the commencement of this epistle. It continued to rain all night and has continued to rain all day today. We have marched about twenty miles and are now encamped in a valley thought to be 7,000 lower than our last night's camp. Cattle winter here without feed. Col. Shoup has some 3,000 head of cattle in the valley and several others have large bands, all of which winter without any feed or care whatever. We have not seen any Indians since leaving Lemhi. But we hear that there are plenty of them up Salmon river.

September 11, 1878

Soon after my last, the command arrived at Challis or Round valley, and which place it left civilization. Col. Green learned while at the above mentioned camp that through some misconstruction of orders, Col. Sumner had kept Capt. Harris' company with him instead of sending it up Big Lost river, as it was intended. So it became necessary to send someone to them with fresh orders, and your correspondent being unfortunately enough to possess a short name and one not easily forgotten, was called on to make the trip, which consisted of a continuous ride of all day and all night, some ninety-five miles.

Mr. Dan Richardson, the guide and myself, arrived at the camp just as they were all mounted and ready to start, so there was no time to rest tired horses or tired limbs, and partaking of a hasty lunch while the officers made the necessary changes we were soon on our way, Capt. Harris taking the route intended above and Col. Sumner bordering the lava beds. We passed up the valley of Big Lost river twenty-five miles and camped for the night; which made about thirty-six hours in the saddle for Dan and myself, and about one hundred and twenty miles for our poor horses. It would be perfectly useless to say anything about being sleepy or tired for I could not do the subject justice.

Lost River valley is from three to ten miles wide and fifty long and contains some very good agricultural land and a large quantity of good meadow land. Mr. Dan Richardson has some six hundred head of cattle running near the head of the valley, and he tells me that they winter very well without hay or any feed whatever except what they get on the range.

The second day up this valley we commenced nearing the Sawtooth ridge of mountains. Viewed from the east they appear only as a very high range, dotted at regular intervals with peaks whose bases connect, forming a succession of narrow passes. The ascent to any of them being comparatively easy. But when you arrive at the summit and commence the descent you find quite a change, a more steep and rugged mountain would be very hard to find. But it is not until you have reached the table land below and traveled some miles away from the mountains that you can get a good view of them.The distance hiding all small irregularities it stands forth the embodiment of all that is grand and majestic.

As far as the eye can reach is stretched the great backbone on the blade of the saw, with the cones or peaks forming the teeth standing up turned as if threatening to saw the heavens asunder. The fine blue slate formation mingled with the light fall of snow which had been sprinkled over it the night before, gave the whole an appearance of burnished steel. Viewed from this standpoint it presents to the enraptured mind a panorama that is at once pleasing and yet oppressive; a feeling somewhat akin to that felt when trying to comprehend the distance of some of the fixed stars or the magnitude of the sun. In this range of mountains and the spurs putting out from it on the cast side will one day be found the great bonanzas of Idaho.

Coming down the slope we soon found ourselves traveling down a small stream, which proved to be one of the main branches of Big Wood river. After following it some miles we came to the junction and camped for the night. The next day (which was yesterday), Capt. Harris sent a party of twelve men on a scout up the other fork and your correspondent remained and spent the day trout fishing.

Here I saw the largest lot of trout in one pile that I ever looked upon. I do not know the number taken, but all the company had a sufficiency. Many of them would weigh five pounds and one guide shot one that measured a trifle over two feet in length. They were the regular Lemhi trout. These streams all have their source in small lakes. Today has been spent in scouting, hunting, and fishing, and this evening finds us with two mountain sheep, fifteen grouse and several bushels of trout in camp; all of which was very acceptable, as we have been for several days past living on bread, bacon and the weakest coffee imaginable.

We have thus far failed to find any fresh Indian sign on our route or on the creeks. We found six horses that the Indians left here, perhaps the first who passed into the mountains some four weeks ago. They are evidently horses belonging to citizens as they are all branded. Tomorrow we start direct to Big Camas prairie and from there I expect for Boise City

September 14th, 1878

Since writing the above we have marched over the hills to Big Camas prairie, where all the command have arrived, without making any satisfactory discoveries. To sum up the results of the whole campaign we find the following:

On the 13th there were seen eight Indians on Little Wood river. They ran into the lava beds and were lost. On the 17th, four Indians were seen on Big Lost river; ran into the mountains and lost. On the 19th, eight or ten seen in Thousand Springs vicinity; ran to the mountains and lost. On the 22nd, fifteen ran fifteen or twenty miles and scattered. Sept. 3rd, one Indian seen and chased to mountains and scattered.

These are samples of several other parties seen by scouts and couriers. So with horses all given out and men disgusted, we find ourselves camped here in good grass with no definite knowledge as to the whereabouts of the Indian rendezvous, and will start for Boise City in a short time, unless something turns up in a very short time to change our course.

The commands all report some sign of small parties of Indians scattered all the way from here to Lemhi valley, but not in numbers sufficient to enable any one to track them, and it seems to be their policy to remain so until the soldiers leave the country. They may be hunted successfully after winter drives them out of the mountains, but at present it is impossible.

J.B. Foster

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