Unknown soldier from Perry's command
Only a few of the Nez Perce had rifles. Many were armed only with bows and arrows, muskets, or cap-and-ball revolvers.
1 was about twenty-one snows of age and unmarried when the war broke. The first battle was on Sapalwit [Sunday] early in the morning. Many of the young men were drunk but, never a whiskey drinker, I was cold sober.
I had a rifle, and old-time musket loaded from the muzzle. Not a good gun for meeting soldiers with breech-loading army guns. In going to the place selected for the battle, no one warrior waited for another. So stripped for war, I mounted my horse and rode swiftly along with the strung out riders, some of them carrying bows and arrows only. Soon the soldiers started firing. After making the first shot with my old musket, I found that I had left the ramrod down at camp. Having no way to reload the gun I thought, "I will get a rifle somewhere!"
I was still holding the musket when about eight soldiers were surrounded. Because of lacking ramrod I missed firing at these soldiers. But they were all killed and I made for one of their guns.... I now had two guns and gave the musket to another man.
One of the things I meant to tell you yesterday was the active part the Indian squaws take in these fights our soldiers have had. They follow along after the men, holding fresh horses and bringing water right in the midst of all the commotion. Colonel Perry says that in the fight of White Bird Canyon, he saw one Indian ... have as many as three changes of horses brought him by his squaw See what an advantage that is to them. As soon as their horses are a little blown, they take a fresh one, and our poor soldiers have perhaps ridden their[s] fifty or sixty miles before the fight begins.
Army doctor's wife
July 12, 1877
1 downed one soldier, and then kept after the others. My wife runs to that fallen soldier, and while he was trying to get up on his knees, she unbuckled his cartridge belt from his waist. Taking it, she ran to another of the fallen enemies, and took a belt and a box of cartridges from him with this supply of ammunition, she came running back to me. I could use those cartridges in
captured soldiers guns.
The Nez Perce pursued the soldiers for thirteen miles, to within four miles of Mount Idaho. One of the major gains of the battle was the improvement in the arsenal of the Nez Perce.
The chiefs said, 'Bring all guns you take from the soldiers."
The guns were brought, and one man appointed to count them. He counted and reported, "Sixty-three guns!'
There were not so many pistols, and not much account taken of them. They were picked up mostly by women.
The Nez Perce Flight to Canada - An Introduction
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