The three nontreaty Nez Perce bands actually crossed the Salmon about fifteen miles northwest of the Rice Creek bridge. Today that route is a jeep trail access on private land. The Nez Perce crossed the Salmon on July 2. General Howard reached the crossing three days later.
We want to cross to the north side of the Salmon again. Some of the command have been working all night to build a raft for the purpose of ferrying us over... I know Joseph has crossed this God feared boiling caldron five times....We can't cross it once....
Capt. Robert Pollock
July 6, 1877
These Indians excited our admiration by their despatch in crossing rivers. James Reuben, (an Indian,) who brought me a message at Craig's ferry, told me how it was done: "Make skin rafts, and load them; tie four horses, abreast to the rafts with small ropes; put four Indians, naked, on the horses, and then boldly swim across." He gave us a practical demonstration by swimming his half-breed [horse] over to us and back across the fearful torrent. Brave Scout Parker attempted the same, but failed to get many yards from shore.
Gen. O.O. Howard
Having failed the attempt to cross the river at Craig's Crossing, Howard's command began backtracking to White Bird where they did manage to reach the other side of the river.
The Nez Perce Flight to Canada - An Introduction
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