NEZ PERCE FORCED TO FIGHT

From:
ONE HUNDRED YEARS WITH THE SECOND CAVALRY
By Joseph I. Lambert, Major, Second Cavalry
Copyright 1939 Commanding Officer, Second Cavalry, Fort Riley, Kansas
Capper Printing Company, Inc.

IWDuring the summer of 1877, reports reached Fort Ellis, Montana, of troubles with the Nez Perce Indians in Idaho under their chief, Joseph. These people, who were friends of the whites, had always occupied the Wallowa Valley. They were in comfortable circumstances, having herds of cattle and horses. Whites had recently been encroaching upon their land, which had been ceded to them by treaty. These white squatters brought influence upon the state government to drive the Indians away and get Congress to give them title to the land. A number of the Indians had been murdered and they retaliated in kind against the settlers. Finally, troops were sent to arrest the alleged Indian culprits. Several sharp engagements took place in which Joseph showed General Howard the Nez Perces were formidable antagonists.

Late in July it was reported that these Indians had moved east into Montana with the intention of escaping to British Columbia. Having heard of the direction the savages had taken, Colonel Gibbon organized a small force at Fort Ellis to intercept the fugitives. The command consisted of four companies of the Seventh Infantry, a group of citizens, and eight men of Company L, Second Cavalry, in all about 180 strong. The latter were used as scouts and succeeded in locating the Nez Perce camp on August 8. Beginning next morning, a desperate engagement lasted two days, during which Colonel Gibbon’s force was so crippled he was unable to follow the savages when they withdrew on the night of the 10th. In this encounter Sergeant Edward Page, Company L, was killed, and Private Wilfred Clark of the same company was cited for gallantry and decorated with the Congressional Medal of Honor.

8 Replies to “NEZ PERCE FORCED TO FIGHT”

  1. I am a resident of southeast Idaho, living near the Camas Meadows. While hunting elk several years back I came across a military grave marker west of I-15 near the Idaho-Montana border. It read:

    Samuel A Glass
    New York
    Blacksmith
    2 US Cavalry
    August 23 1877

    I have searched for information on this man for some time. After learning that the 2nd Cavalry engaged Chief Joseph and his Nez Perce warriors on 8 Aug 1877 my research brought me to this website. I always presumed that Samuel Glass died of wounds sustained in this battle, but cannot confirm this. The otherwise excellent summary written of this battle does not list the casualties by name. Can anyone help me to locate this information?

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  2. Glass was gut-shot when the nez perce attacked at camas praire. the nez perce stole many horses and mules from the army/civilian volunteers. Gen Howard sent the civilians back to virginia city, mt (where they were from). Glass was too sick to travel too long, so the civilians volunteers left him with the Dr (name?) at the pleasant valley stage station (the railroad wasnt there yet). Glass was cared for by the dr, the station owner, and two ladies. he died a day or two later.

    you have any more info? I am working on finding all details. arlonaustin@gmail.com

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    1. Arlon,
      Thank you for the additional information. I have forwarded it to Joe Valasquez and hopefully he will respond.

      Joe sent me some photos of Sam Glass’ grave site and headstone he took years ago and then he returned to take recent photos for me only to find that the headstone had been damaged by gunfire. It was obvious from the photos that someone has been caring for the site and bringing flowers. It is a lone site on a dirt road off the main highway out in the middle of nowhere, but there is a house nearby that may be tending to the site.

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  3. There is a first-person account of Sgt. Glass in the book “Saga of Chief Joeseph” by Howard. On page 268 they describe the Sgt. as having been shoot in the bladder on August 17th, 1877. I was at the grave last week and we are planningto repair the fence sometime before the winter sets in.

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  4. I find it rediculas that the Nez Perce are referred to as savages. After all Lewis & Clark (Corps of Discovery) found the Nez Perce to be the most civilized, honest, and friendly Native Americans they had met. The facts are that the White population that was encroaching upon Nez Perce (Wallowa Band) legally owned land were the real savages. Court house records and historical documents show that it was the whites steeling land and prized horses from the Nez Perce. Murder of Nez Perce was also a problem. The Nez Perce alway attempted to utilize the “Rule of Law” and the courts to help but that was like a black man in the south in the 1800’s attempting to use the courts for justice. That wasn’t going to happen by a long shot. President Grant caved in to the white “voters” and allowed the home of the true Native Americans to be stolen. Now who was the real savage here.

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  5. These are the facts about Private Samuel A. Glass, “L” Company, 2nd Cavalry, casualty of the American Indian War.

    After the Battle of the Bighole, troops from Company L, 2nd Cavalry were sent from Fort Ellis, Montana Territory to join General Howard in the pursuit of Chief Joseph’s Nez Perce band. A few days later, the Battle of Camas Meadows occurred. The best version of the battle, as it relates to Samuel Glass was one of his fellow company L troop, Private Fred Munn:

    [Fred Munn, Veteran of Frontier Experiences, Remembered the Days He Rode With Miles, Howard and Terry’, by Fred Munn as told to Robert A. Griffen. Montana the magazine of Western History, Spring 1966.]

    page 60: “We joined General Howard’s command at Horse Prairie on about the 15th (August), after a killing ride from Virginia City, nearly 150 miles in something 40 hours. This was about six days after the Battle of the Big Hole in which General Gibbon was wounded in the thigh, and a number of officers killed and wounded. There is no doubt that Howard’s close proximity to the scene of the Big Hole fight caused the Nez Perce to withdraw. If they hadn’t, most likely the troops would have suffered a worse defeat.
    We followed Joseph’s broad trail to the southeast and finally came up to about fifteen miles of his camp at Camas Prairie, Idaho. He was headed Tacher (Targhee) Pass and down the Yellowstone to buffalo country. Our first night at Camas Prairie the Indians struck our camp before dawn, driving off most of the horses and mules belonging to the volunteers, who were camped across Camas Creek with a small field. They went through the camp of the civilians, scattering them and their field piece, which went into the creek.
    Sammy Glass and I slept under one of the freight wagons that night and when the Indians shooting and yelling struck, we jumped out with our guns in our hands, he on one side and me on the other side of the wagon. As Sammy got to his feet, he called, “Fred, they got me.” I got to him in a few minutes, propping blankets under his head. The bullet struck his belt of cartridges tearing a hole in his abdomen in which four fingers could be inserted.”

    After the battle:

    9/1/1877 Virginia City Madisonian:
    “On the following morning, the 21st, arrangements were made for placing Glass, Trevor and Garland, the three who were the most severely wounded in Norwood’s fight of the 20th, under the medical care of Doctor E.T. Yager, and their transportation to Virginia (city) under escort of the volunteers. The company left Camas Meadows about 8 a.m., and arrived at Pleasant Valley without adventure that evening.”
    “On arriving a Pleasant Valley station, Glass was found to be in such a condition from the effects of his wound that it was deemed unadviseable to carry him any further, and Dr Yager remained with him there until his death, which took place on the morning of the 23.”
    “Glass was a native of New York, a man of considerable intelligence, strictly temperate in his habits, and possessed the high esteem of the officers and men of his company. He was the company blacksmith.”
    “When the wagon with the wounded men arrived at Pleasant Valley Station, the proprietor, Mr. L. A. Harkness, immediately set about procuring comfortable beds for them, and assisted by two ladies who were staying there, whose names we did not learn, supplied their every want, attended to them with all possible care during the night, and when the two men , Trevor and Garland were gone, and Dr Yager and Glass remained, bestowed upon them ll the attention that kindness could suggest or the place afford, and upon the death of the latter prepared the coffin and grave, and buried him as decently as the surroundings permitted, firmly and utterly refusing all compensation for anything that had been done.”
    “Such an instance of liberality and kindness is worthy of high praise, and shows the whole world kin is not always obliterated by the rugged surroundings of mountain life.”
    “The volunteers arrived in Virginia City the evening on 24th.”

    His grave was marked with wooden tombstone, until 1937 when it was replaced with a official government stone.

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  6. Samuel A. Glass bio info (courtesy of Mary Hocking):

    1848 born about 1848 in Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada [1]. (Contrary to his enlistment papers, which say born Erie County, NY)
    1858 moved to NY [2]
    1860: living with his father, step-mother, and siblings in Elma, Erie County, New York. [3]
    1869: enlists in the army for 5 years.
    1870: living as a soldier at the US Military Post in Buffalo [4]
    1874: discharged from army.
    1875: boarding with John W. Mitchell, a railroad conductor, and his family in Buffalo. Glass’s occupation is painter and blacksmith. [5]
    1875: re-enlists in the army.
    1877: shot in the bladder during fighting with the Nez Pierce.[6]

    Notes:
    [1] Various census and army records. Assuming he was born in Uxbridge, Ontario, only because that’s where he was living three years later.
    [2] His younger brother, George, was born in 1858/59 in New York, which means the family immigrated at some point before then.
    [3] 1860 US Census
    [4] 1870 US Census
    [5] 1875 New York State Census and 1875 Buffalo City Directory
    [6] Army records

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