The Walls

After leaving Grangeville, General Howard's troops camped here on July 10, the night before the battle of the Clearwater. Why the troops were headed up the east side of the river is unknown, especially since the reconnaissance party of seventy-five volunteers was four miles west of the river. Lew Wilmot arrived bearing a dispatch from Colonel McConville who was commanding the volunteers at Misery Hill that were being harrased by the Nez Perce.

Lew Wilmot described his encounter with General Howard.

... Just as the sun was rising we rode into General Howard's camp.

General Howard shook hands with me and introduced me to Colonel Perry and added, "this is the man you charged with cowardice.'

Colonel Perry said that I had lied to the general....

I cursed Colonel Perry and I used language that is not fit to use here. And then General Howard said to his guard, 'Arrest that man.' I jumped on my horse and started to run for the timber, but the guard was too near and he caught my horse by the bridle and I dismounted.

They took my rifle and revolver, and took the cartridges out.

Then General Howard said it made his blood boil to hear a man blaspheme an officer.

I said: General Howard ... you told me to make out the charges in writing and to have all the survivors of the company sign them, and you would have Colonel Perry courtmartialed. I told you that we [the Brave Seventeen] had met the Indians before noon [on July 51 and it was nearly 4 in the afternoon when Captain Winters came down to within about 200 yards of where Captain Randall was killed, and that it was less than one mile and a half from where we could plainly see Colonel Perry with his command [at Cottonwood]....

General Howard said he was very sorry the way it had turned out, and he said: "Feed your horse and get some breakfast, and we want you to go with us and show the way to where Joseph is camped tomorrow'

I asked for my rifle and cartridges, and told him I would do nothing of the kind; that I was going home.... I told him I would rather take my chances with Joseph than with his officers, and I rode off, against the advice of my friends....

Luther P. Wilmot
Mount Idaho volunteer

Lew Wilmot was understandably upset. Three of his neighbors in the Brave Seventeen had been killed or mortally wounded while going to relieve Captain Perry at Cottonwood. Yet Captain Perry had kept his men safely in their trenches, watching the skirmish, rather thall joining the fight in support of the seventeen citizen volunteers. Captain Perry requested a Court of Inquiry which convened two months later and cleared his name.

As a result of Wilmot's sense of integrity, General Howard left camp here on July 11 without knowing the location of the Nez Perce camp.



The Nez Perce Flight to Canada - An Introduction

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