Biography of A. P. Woodward

A.P. WOODWARD. – Those who had the sharp work of quieting the Indians, and of defending the homes and families of the Whites in 1855-56, did not at that time suppose that their work would ever be of historic interest. But the time is coming when every name of the veterans will be inscribed as with letters of gold upon the records of the state.

One of these veterans is Mr. Woodward. He was born in Muskingum, Ohio, and, after the manner of many Westerners, spent his early days in gradually passing westward, moving by slow stages through Illinois and Iowa. In 1852 he came across the plains with a party numbering fifty. Young Woodward having, however, fallen sick on the way, was left in the Grande Ronde valley to recover. This led to his residence of two years in the Walla Walla valley; and in 1854 he went out into Idaho with Major G.O. Haller and Captain Olney to quiet the Indian disorders consequent upon the Ward massacre. That campaign occupied the entire season; and upon their return in 1855 they tendered their services in the general outbreak of that year. Woodward was in Major Rains’ expedition to Fort Hall. He was among those who captured and hanged some of the Indians. Later in the year he was detailed with Captain Olney to warn the Whites in the Walla Walla valley of their danger, and to conduct them to The Dalles. This was a hazardous undertaking, requiring both endurance and courage, but was successfully accomplished within twenty days. At The Dalles the young soldier found the Oregon Volunteers just arriving from below, and took service with them, and passed through the seven-months’ campaign that succeeded.

In the winter of that campaign he was sent, in company with one Cayuse George, a white man, to carry a message to The Dalles, to hasten the forwarding of troops, as the Indians were harassing the soldiers above and pressing heavily upon their lines of communication. He also went down to Portland and communicated with the governor. Upon his return to the field, he was met by severe weather, which filled the mountains with snow and the Columbia with ice. He crossed the ponderous floes and ice fields of the river to and fro on the section below the Cascades, and above that point made the frozen river itself his pathway. He and his pony met with no mishap, but rounded the mouth of Hood or Dog river outside of the broken ice and air-holes always to be found at its junction with the Columbia. Leaving his animal there, the messenger passed on to The Dalles, still traveling on the ice. Rarely is such a journey possible; and it is never very safe. That was in January, 1856. The following summer he left the volunteers and took service with the regular army as messenger, serving until 1858. During that time his duties called him into the most difficult and dangerous positions, often bringing him within an inch of death.

Returning to civil life, he settled on a farm fifteen miles from Walla Walla, making that his home until 1883, when he removed to the Umatilla Reservation, Oregon, and engaged in farming. There he lives happily with his family of six children.


History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. 2 v. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889.

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