Leaving General Howard far behind, the three non-treaty bands had recrossed the Salmon. They were now ready to venture out of the protection of the rugged Salmon River country and strike out across the open, level Camas Prairie. On July 3, 1877, William Foster and Charley Blewett were sent out from Cottonwood to scout for the Nez Perce. Meanwhile, a Nez Perce scout, Red Spy, was standing guard for the camp of the main party. Scouts Blewett and Foster got as far as the ridge to the north-northwest of the Foster grave.

Red Spy shot Blewett. Foster attempted to rescue his partner but had to flee for his own life.

When morning came, I heard a gun report and the echo of a song. I saw a warrior on a horse and Indians all about him.... Seeyakoon llppilp [Red Spy], the mounted warrior, said, "Some white men almost kill me. I suppose scouts — two white men coming this way They didn't look like soldiers."

The white men had seen him, Seeyakoon told us, as he was watching on guard away off from camp. They made for him. Seeyakoon jumped from his horse and dodged behind rocks. They fired at him. When they did that, he ran toward them, keeping hid by rock protection. He was not afraid! He killed one of them, shot him through the head. The other man got away.

Yellow Wolf

Back at Cottonwood, a squad of ten men under Lieutenant Sevier M. Rains along with Foster and another guide rode out in search of Blewett. Red Spy had, of course, raised the alarm at the Nez Perce camp, and a party of warriors set out from there. They reached the top of the ridge to the north here, saw the military camp at Cottonwood, and fanned out in the two ravines above.

Lieutenant Rains had been told to keep to the high ground, but apparently became careless and came up toward this area in search of Blewett's body.

My friends went after those soldiers, and I overtook them. There was shooting, and one soldier fell from his horse. Then another went down a little way from us. Soon a third fell; and another and another, not far apart, went to the ground. Some distance on, a man — maybe wounded — got down from his horse and was killed. I will not hide anything. That part of the fight was not long. Those six soldiers did not get up.

The remaining six soldiers ran their horses up a hill, maybe one half mile. Then they jumped off and lay among some rocks, and began shooting.

Yellow Wolf

Only William Foster is buried at the site near Cottonwood.

Lieutenant Rains and the men of his command are now buried in the cemetery at Fort Walla, Washington.



The Nez Perce Flight to Canada - An Introduction

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