Wright’s Order 5

On the return of Lieutenant Davidson to Walla Walla with the supply train, as directed in Orders No. 3, Colonel Wright, being in readiness, moved forward with but brief delay. While yet at Walla Walla he issued the following orders for the government of the command throughout the coming campaign.

Orders No. 5.
Headquarters Expedition against Northern Indians
Camp Near Fort Walla Walla, W. T.
August 14, 1858

  1. The residue of the troops for the northern expedition will march from Fort Walla Walla tomorrow, and unite with the advance at the Snake River.
  2. Marching from Snake River, the order will be as follows:
    1. The dragoons
    2. The mountain howitzer company
    3. The battalion of artillery serving as infantry
    4. The rifle battalion of 9th infantry
    5. Pack train of corps and headquarters
    6. One company of infantry as rear guard
    7. General trains of quartermaster and commissary.
  3. The mounted troops will not precede the howitzer company more than four hundred yards, and on approaching canons or defiles where dragoons cannot operate on the flanks, they will be halted and the rifles advanced.
  4. No firearms of any description will be dis charged, either on the march or in camp, except in the line of duty, without the special authority of the commanding officer.
  5. No person except the employees of the staff departments and officers’ servants will be allowed to accompany the troops or to encamp with them without the written authority of the commanding officer.
  6. Habitually the guard will consist of one company, and mount at retreat.
  7. It is announced for general information that a body of friendly Nez Perces Indians have been engaged to serve .with the troops. These Indians have been equipped in soldiers’ clothing in order to distinguish them from the hostiles. Company commanders will caution their men particularly in regard to these friendly Indians.
  8. Whether in camp or on the march, the companies will parade with arms; at retreat and reveille roll calls the arms and ammunition will be inspected. The men will habitually wear and sleep in their belts.

By order of Colonel Wright
P. A. Owen, First Lieutenant 9th Infantry, A, A. A. G.”

General Clarke was informed of Wright’s intentions, his condition and his apprehensions, thus:

Headquarters Expedition against Northern Indians
Camp near Fort Walla Walla, W. T.
August 14, 1858.


I march hence tomorrow against the hostile Indians beyond the Snake River. I have a body of troops, both officers and men, in the highest order, and on whom I feel that I can rely with perfect confidence; yet, with all these circumstances in my favor, I am greatly apprehensive that the results of the campaign may fall short of what is expected by the general and by the country. From all that I can learn, we must not expect the enemy to meet us in a pitched battle; although haughty, insolent, and boastful now, when I approach he will resort to a guerrilla warfare, he will lay waste the country with fire, and endeavor by every means in his power to embarrass and cripple our operations. The season is too late for troops to operate in that country, the small streams and ponds are dried up, and the grass can easily be burnt. I have had several conversations with persons well acquainted with that country, and with the Indians. They say that the Indians will suffer us, to advance, probably as far as the Spokane, without firing the grass; that they will then burn the entire country in our rear. I have no doubt such may be their policy, and if they can accomplish it, serious consequences may follow. With all these difficulties before me, I shall advance into their country, and, if possible, chastise them severely; and should they burn all the grass in my rear, we can live on our animals, and if they die, we can take our provisions on our backs and march.

I have no doubt that we shall have some hard ships to undergo; but I shall advance cautiously and prudently, and try to do all that can be done at this season of the year, without sacrificing the means of prosecuting the war another season, should it be necessary.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. Wright, Colonel 9th Infantry, Commanding.
Major W. W. Mackall, Assistant Adjutant General, Headquarters of the Pacific, Fort Vancouver, W. T,”

Manring, B. F. Conquest of the Coeur d'Alene, Spokane and Palouse Indians. The Washington Historical Quarterly, Vol. 3 No. 2, 1912.

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