Sunday, August 5, 2012

Peter Skene Ogden's rescue of the Waillatpu victims

While the Waillatpu Cayuse danced through the first night that followed the massacre, some of the survivors made their escape from the bloody scene at Waiilatpu.
The carpenter, Peter Hall, who had run into the willows during the first part of the attack, arrived at Fort Nez Perces half naked and covered in bloody scratches, and told William McBean of the massacre.
The butcher, Canfield, escaped with his children and took the news of the massacre to Lapwai, Spaulding's mission amongst the Nez Perces peoples.
Mr. Osborne, who had run away at the first attack to hide his invalid wife and three children, emerged from their hiding place in the Indian room, and escaped.
They made their way toward Fort Nez Perces, but were only three miles from the mission when Mrs. Osborne could go no further.
Osborne hid his family in the bushes and left her behind.
He was the second man to reach Fort Nez Perces with the news, and the HBC men returned to search for and rescue his wife and children.

On Peter Hall's arrival at Fort Nez Perces, William McBean sent his 35 year-old French-Canadian interpreter, Edouard Beauchemin, to the mission at Waillatpu to find out the truth of the matter and to tell the Cayuse to stop the massacre.
On his way to the mission, Beauchemin crossed paths with Nicolas Finlay, who was bringing the two Manson boys to Fort Nez Perces.
At Waillatpu itself, the horrified Beauchemin stayed only long enough to poke his head into the door of the mission house and ask the surviving women if they were alright, before escaping to the Fort as quickly as he could.

In the meantime, Nicolas Finlay delivered the three half breed boys (two of them were Mansons) to McBean, along with a letter that brave Mrs. Saunders had written on hearing that Finlay was departing for the post.
In this letter, she listed the names of the eleven people that she thought had died.
Nicolas Finlay told McBean that the Cayuse had killed the Whitmans in retaliation, believing that Whitman was stealing their property by poisoning them.
For his part, McBean considered the Cayuse ignorant and brutal people; he was also prejudiced against anything that Nicolas Finlay -- mostly Indian himself -- could have to say.
McBean sent his interpreter to check the story, and on Beauchemin's return he wrote a letter to his superiors at Fort Vancouver and sent his interpreter downriver with it.
William McBean's letter read, in part:
"It is my painful task to make you acquainted with a horrid massacre which took place yesterday at Waiilatpu...
"Pelequoit [Tilaukait] is the Chief who recommended this measure.
"I presume you are well acquainted that fever and dysentery has been raging here, ... in consequence of which a great number of Indians have been swept away, but more especially at the Doctor's place."
Again, we have the suggestion that Dr. Whitman spread the measles amongst his Cayuse patients, perhaps by accident.
The letter continued: "About 30 souls, of the Cayuse tribe died, one after another, who eventually believed the Doctor poisoned them, and in which opinion they were unfortunately confirmed by one of the Doctor's party.
"As far as I have been able to learn, this has been the sole cause of the dreadful butchery..."

All this happened on Tuesday, November 30th, the day after the massacre.
At the mission house, the survivors still clustered in fear in the house, and bodies lay everywhere, unattended.
They did not try to escape? It appears that some of the Cayuse remained behind to prevent that, but no one says that.
Perhaps they were paralyzed by their fear.
At any rate, the Cayuse returned the next day, bringing back the women that some had taken to their lodges as wives.
To the Cayuse, the white women were now their slaves.
They forced them to cook breakfast,and de manded that the women taste the food before they served it, to ensure that no poison had been added.
Joe Lewis' whispers of killing with poison still remained in their minds....

On Tuesday evening, Father Brouillet came from Mission St. Anne to visit the Cayuse at Waillatpu.
He witnessed the Cayuses' frenzied dancing and knew immediately that something was wrong.
On Wednesday morning the worried priest went to the mission and buried the Protestant bodies in a common grave, with the help of Joseph Stanfield.
The Cayuse watched.
Univited, Edward Tilaukait accompanied Father Brouillet home, and when they met Spalding coming from Hezekiah, Edward raced back to the Waillatpu village to tell the Cayuse that Spalding was here!
Spalding had just heard from Stickas of the massacre.
Though Brouillet was putting himself in grave danger by warning Spalding of his danger, he did so, and the missionary fled toward Lapwai.

On Brouillet's return to Mission St. Anne, he told Blanchet of the massacre.
Blanchet summoned the five main Cayuse chiefs to his mission, and told them how grieved he was over their atrocious act.
He asked them to release the women and children, and the Cayuse promised to protect the women and keep them safe.
By this time, several of the Cayuse chiefs had forced captive women to become their wives, as was part of their culture.
Shumahiecu, also called Painted Shirt, had taken a fourteen year old Sager [?] girl as his wife by threatening to kill her mother and sisters, and she was forced to submit to the man who had killed her brothers.
Mrs. Nathan Kimball was also taken to live with the Cayuse man who had killed her husband.
Esther Lorinda Bewley was carried to Hezekiah, on the Umatilla River, where Five Crows (who had not taken part in the massacre, but who desired a white woman has his wife) took her to his lodge every night.
During the day she was under the protective custody of Bishop Blanchet at Mission St. Anne, and every night she was dragged off, screaming, to Five Crows' Lodge.
The helpless Bishop could do nothing; the Catholic missionaries had already taken great risk in preventing Spalding's death and they, too, lived in fear for their lives.

The arrival of William McBean's letter at Fort Vancouver is recorded in at least two journals.
Chief Factor Peter Skene Ogden wrote, "On the evening of the 6th of December we were seated around our cheerful fireside ... when a loud knocking at the door attracted the attention of all present."
And clerk Thomas Lowe recorded in his private journal that: "In the evening Beauchimin arrived from Walla Walla [Fort Nez Perces] with the startling intelligence that Dr. Whitman and his lady, besides 9 other Americans have been massacred by the Cayuse Indians at Waillatpu."
It was already a full week after the massacre itself.
On December 7th, Lowe reported that: "... Mr. Ogden started for Walla Walla later this afternoon with a boat and 16 men, taking Mr. [John] Charles along with him.
"Mr. McBean writes that the Fort is threatened by the Indians, but this is not supposed to be the case, and the principal object of Mr. Ogden's trip is to rescue the surviving women and children and to prevent further outrage."

"From the first announcement of the disaster at Waillatpoo," James Douglas and Peter Skene Ogden reported to the HBC a month or so later, "we made up our minds to maintain a rigid neutrality, in the hostilities that cannot fail to grow out of that detestable murder; therefore though we expected every effort to relieve the distressed we positively objected to assist in punishing the Indians, a duty which belongs to the United States government, the proper guardians of the Country."

After Ogden left Fort Vancouver on his rescue mission, Chief Factor James Douglas told the American governor of the disaster.
He reported to the HBC that the Americans' first measure was to authorize "the enlistment of a regiment of 500 volunteers to punish the Cayuse," and to prohibit "the sale of ammunition to all Indians indiscriminately throughout the country, under a penalty not exceeding 500 dollars..."
The Americans then came to the HBC for a loan of $100,000, which was absolutely declined.
However, the HBC loaned the Americans' volunteer Army supplies and provisions for the fight.

A few days later, retired fur trader Archibald McKinlay wrote from Oregon City to warn the fur traders that "it is commonly reported here that the Volunteers will help themselves, to such things as they may stand in need of, in passing Vancouver, whither they have the means to pay for the same or not...
"[Retired Chief Factor] Dr. McLoughlin has just told me, that he was informed by a person as a secret, that General Gilliam said he would manage ways and means to get every thing that might be wanted...
"The person who mentioned this to Dr. McLoughlin thought that the general alluded to the Company's Stores as the place where he could get his supplies."

The fur traders at Fort Vancouver had already heard these rumours, and "had taken every possible precaution to guard against treachery, and to repel open violence if attempted; though in the absence of the party who had accompanied C.F. Ogden to Walla Walla, our force was composed almost exclusively of Sandwich Islanders, two thirds of whom were at the time, laud up with Measles."
Though the American Governor disclaimed the rumours, James Douglas reported that, "we continued nevertheless to watch their motions with the utmost vigilance until General Gilliam's corps has passed this place on their march to the interior.
"They were remarkably quiet and orderly while here, and the General himself appeared to guard against difficulties with the utmost solicitude."

Peter Skene Ogden arrived at Fort Nez Perces on the evening of December 9th [some reports say the 12th -- I will check].
On his arrival he discovered that "the Indians had not altered their usual friendly deportment towards the Establishment, and expressed in very earnest language their desire to remain on friendly terms with the Company.
"They were not so tractable on the subject of restoring the American prisoners whom they wished to retain as hostages for their own security," James Douglas reported.
"Mr. Ogden, for obvious reasons, having pointedly objected to offer any pledge in regard to the future proceedings of the American government, it required, in that dilemma, the exertion of all his tact and great personal influence with them, to procure the liberation of these unhappy captives, who would have been mercilessly butchered on the first announcement of hostilities..."
All of these sentences make good sense, but sometimes you have to read them twice.
Sorry. That is how they were written.

The Oregon Spectator newspaper reported that "immediately upon his [Ogden's] arrival [at Fort Nez Perces] .. he dispatched couriers to call a meeting of the Cayuse chiefs; on the third day in the evening two Chiefs arrived accompanied by about thirty men -- Cayuses.
"The council assembled on the 23rd ulto., in which several speeches were made...."
I understand that Tilaukait's self-important speech went on for two full hours!

When the Cayuse were finished, Peter Skene Ogden stood up and took his turn.
His speech went something like this:
"It is now thirty years we have been among you; during this long period we have never had an instance of blood being spilt until the inhuman massacre which has so recently taken place.
"We are traders and a different nation to the Americans, but recollect that we supply you with ammunition, not to kill the Americans.
"They are of the same colour as ourselves, speak the same language, children of the same God -- and humanity makes our hearts bleed, when we behold you using them so cruelly!...
"As chiefs, should you have connived at such conduct on the part of your young men?"
Notice how Ogden pretends to takes the blame off the guilty chiefs and puts it on the 'young men.'
"Was it not rather your duty to use your influence to prevent it?
"You tell me your young men committed these deeds without your knowledge.
"Why do we make you Chiefs?
"If you have no control over your young men, if you allow them to govern you; you are a set of Hermaphrodites, and unworthy the appellation of men or Chiefs."

It did not matter that the Chiefs would not understand the words, and it was probably better that they did not.
Ogden used all his impressive speaking abilities to carry the day.
From his long years in the Snake River district, Ogden knew how to treat the Natives.
He knew how to convince them that he was right, and they were wrong.
"You young, hot-headed men, I know that you pride yourselves upon your bravery and think no one can match you!
"Do not deceive yourselves.
"If you get the Americans to commence once, you will repent it, and war will not end until every man of you is cut off from the face of the earth."

Then Ogden fiercely warned the Cayuse that the HBC would not support them in this war.
"I hold forth no promise should war be declared against you.
"We have nothing to do with it.
"I have not come here to make you promises or hold out assistance.
"We have nothing to do with your quarrels.
"We remain neutral.
"On my return ... I shall do all I can for you, but I do not promise you, to prevent war.
"If you deliver me up all the prisoners I shall pay you for them on their being delivered; but let it not be said among you afterwards that I deceived you.
"I ... represent the Company, but I tell you once more we promise you nothing."

The newspaper report continued to tell the story of the long meeting between Ogden and the Cayuse chiefs.
"The council continued until late at night and was concluded upon the savages agreeing to deliver up the captives within six days, on the promise of a ransom being paid for them...
"On the evening of the 29th ulto., a few of the principal men of the Cayuses arrived at the Fort, bringing with them the captives, who, with some of their property, were conveyed in five wagons...
"The day after the restoration, the promised ransom was paid and many speeches followed.
"A day or two thereafter brought Indian reports of the arrival of [American] troops at the Dalles, and the excitement consequent thereupon, among the Indians, was so great that Mr. Ogden assures us, that it was his firm conviction that had not the women and children been given up, they undoubtedly would all have been murdered.
"At the same time Mr. Ogden could make no downward movement in consequence of having pledged himself, to await the arrival of Mr. Spalding and family, who happily made their appearance on the ensuing Saturday evening, escorted by a formidable body of Nez Perces."

In the end, Peter Skene Ogden rescued 6 men, 8 women, and 37 children from the Waillatpu Mission, and 4 men, 2 women and 3 children from Spaldings mission at Lapwai.
On the last day of 1847 he penned a worried letter to the missionaries at Tsimakain, in Spokan territory near Fort Colvile.
He told them that since his arrival at Fort Nez Perces he had "endured many an anxious time and for the last two nights have not closed my eyes but thanks to the Almighty I have succeeded[.]
"During the captivity of the Prisoners they have suffered every indignity but fortunately now all are provided with food.
"I have been enabled to effect this object without compromising myself or others and it now remains with the American Govt to take what measures they may [find] most beneficial to sustain tranquility in this part of the Country and this I apprehend cannot be finally effected without blood being made to flow freely.
"So as not to compromise either party I have made a heavy sacrifice of goods but these are of indeed trifling value compared to the unfortunate beings I have rescued from the hands of these murderous wretches and I feel truly happy but let this suffice for the present."

In his journal Thomas Lowe recorded that on Saturday, January 8th, 1848, "in the forenoon Mr. Ogden arrived from Walla Walla with 3 boats, bringing all the women and children who suffered the massacre at Waiilatpu, as also the whole of those at Mr. Spalding's station, amounting in all to 61 souls.
"There were also the following passengers: Mr. [John] Charles who went up with Mr. Ogden, Mr. [John Mix] Stanley, [an] American artist [who visited Waiilatpu immediately after the massacre], Bishop Blanchette and two other Priests.
"Mr. Ogden had to purchase the women and children from the Indians giving them 62 blankets, 62 shirts, 12 guns and some ammunition for them, telling them at the same time that the HBC were not to interfere in the quarrel, that it must be settled between the Americans and themselves."
On Monday, Ogden took the passengers to Oregon City, where he placed them in the hands of Governor Abernethy.
A day later Fort Vancouver was filled with members of another newly formed volunteer army who were also heading east to take care of the Indians; they camped on the furthest end of the Plain and made purchases in the Fort Vancouver shop.
On the 23rd of January, word arrived at the fort of the first skirmish between the volunteers and the Cayuse, at the Dalles, "in which the Indians had driven off 100 head of cattle and wounded an American, whilst the Indians lost a band of 60 horses and had two of their party wounded," according to Thomas Lowe.
A day later Lowe reported that a new Bastion was being erected at Fort Vancouver's front gate, with "two long eighteen pounders in the lower part, but there will be little or no room to work them properly."
Even Fort Vancouver was preparing for war -- but who was their enemy?
The answer may surprise you, but I am not giving it away yet.

What happened to Nicolas Finlay and the scoundrel, Joe Lewis?
From Fort Nez Perces Finlay returned to Waiilatpu, but soon left for the Colvile district where he joined his older brothers.
At Fort Colvile, Chief Factor John Lee Lewes worried the Cayuse would come east to avoid the volunteer army.
Lewes urged the two missionary families at Tshimakain to come to Fort Colvile, but they remained at their mission among the Spokans (though there was some danger in them doing so).
On the 13th of the month Lewes sent the missionaries a hurried letter that said that "things at [Fort Colvile] had taken a very serious turn & that they had been under arms ever since three o'clock that morning."
Presumably, the retreating Cayuse were in their immediate neighbourhood.

Certainly Nicolas Finlay was known to be in the neighbourhood in February, and was reported to be attempting to involve the Spokans in the Cayuse war against the Americans.
The Spokans wisely refused to take part, and Finlay left the area.
He returned in May on his way to the isolation of the Flathead country, where he was apparently joined by Joe Lewis.

One year later, rumours reached the HBC men at Fort Vancouver that: "Two of the murdering Teloquist [Tilaukait's sons, perhaps] and another of the Kay-use wer lately shot by their own people."
Tilaukait, Kiamusumpkin, Tomahas, Isaiachalakis, and Klokamas surrendered to the Americans and were hanged; all others were presumed to be dead.
And Joe Lewis?
Immediately after the first attack on the missionaries, Lewis told the Cayuse they would now have to fight the Americans who would come after them.
Lewis advised the Cayuse to send him and two others to Salt Lake City with horses, to trade for ammunition.
On his way down he killed one of the Cayuse boys; the other escaped and returned home with the story of Lewis' treachery.
That was the last that the Cayuse at Waillatpu saw of Joe Lewis.

But how did Nicolas Finlay tolerate his treachery?
The only answer I can offer is that, perhaps, he did not hear of it.
Lewis had a bad end -- fifteen years after the Waillatpu massacre he was killed in an attempted robbery of a stage coach.
A fitting end, but it took far too long to come.

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