Wright’s Order 6

Last Updated on July 13, 2014 by

Orders No. 6.
Headquarters Expedition against Northern Indians
Camp on Snake River, at Mouth of the Tucanon
August 19, 1858

  1. The field work erected at this place will be called “Fort Taylor. 1
  2. Captain Keys, commanding the battalion of the 3rd artillery, will designate a garrison for Fort Taylor, of one company, or at least sixty-five rank and file, exclusive of officers. The two six-pounders will be mounted in Fort Taylor. The two mountain howitzers, with ammunition, &c., complete for field service, will be turned over to an officer to be designated by Captain Keys.
  3. Assistant Surgeon Brown is assigned to duty with the garrison of Fort Taylor.
  4. The troops of all arms will be held in readiness to cross the river as soon as the fort is completed.

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

Headquarters Expedition against Northern Indians
Camp on Snake River, at Mouth of Tucanon
August 19, 1858

Sir: I reached this point yesterday, and Captain Kirkham, with the pack train and residue of the supplies, arrived this morning. The field work at this place is progressing rapidly, and will be ready for occupancy within four days. On my march from Fort Walla Walla the weather was in tensely hot, and the dust suffocating; the footmen suffered severely. The grass, for the greater portion of the way from the Touche, has been destroyed by fire, but at this point, and for miles up the Tu Canon, we have an abundance of grass, wood, and water. Fort Taylor is on the left bank of the Snake River, which is about two hundred and seventy-five yards wide. I apprehend no serious difficulty in making the passage; our artillery can cover the landing should there be any attempt made to oppose us. From the best information that can be obtained, the Indians are in considerable force, both on the Pelouse and some five days’ march further north. What their designs are I cannot say. The friendly Indians say that they will fight, but I am inclined to the opinion that they will re tire as we advance, and burn all the grass. For several days past a large portion of the country to the north of us has been enveloped in flames. Possibly we may find sufficient grass left to subsist our animals. Should it prove otherwise, it would be worse than madness to plunge into that barren waste, the inevitable result of which must be the sacrifice of men and animals. I hope that our anticipations may not be realized. It will be mortifying, after all our preparations, to fail in accomplishing the objects of the expedition; but we cannot contend against the elements. We have a lake of fire before us, but no human effort will be spared to overcome all obstacles. I hope to march from the Snake River on the 25th.

The communication for Mr. Blankenship, at Fort Colville, will be forwarded by the earliest opportunity.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. Wright, Colonel 9th Infantry, Commanding,
Major W. W. Mackall, Asst. Adjt. Gen., Headquarters Department of the Pacific,
Fort Vancouver, W. T.

On the night of the 21st of August a severe wind storm struck the camp. The air was so laden with sand and dust that it was difficult to see two feet ahead. The tents were leveled to the ground, and the boughs with which many of them had been covered as a protection to their occupants against the beating rays of the sun, were sent rolling and tumbling up the narrow valley. The wind storm was succeeded by a pouring rain which continued with greater or less severity during the 22nd, 23rd and 24th, and prevented the force from crossing the river. At 5 o’clock on the morning of the 25th, however, the rain having ceased and the sky become clear, the crossing of the river was begun. The artillery was the first to cross, followed by the sup plies and the infantry, and by night everything had been safely landed on the right bank, except the dragoons and a part of the quartermaster’s train. These were crossed on the morning of the 26th. The horses and mules swam the swift current of the river, the Nez Perces swimming after and driving them. This performance on the part of Indians and animals was productive of great amusement among the soldiers.


  1. Named in honor of Captain Taylor, who fell in Colonel Steptoe’s engagement with the Northern Indians.[]

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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