The loss of Lieutenant Rains and twelve other men two days previously and the sniping of the preceding day made Captain Perry, at Cottonwood, extremely cautious about committing any of his 113 men to a conflict.'

On the morning of the 5th about 11 o'clock, was discovered coming from the direction of Mt. Idaho, two mounted men, some three or four miles distant from our position at Cottonwood, at the same time seeing some distance in their rear, objects which we were unable at the time to determine to be mounted men or loose stock.... Upon seeing the approach of these two men, and the efforts of the Indians to cut them off, Col. Perry ordered some of the command to be mounted, but before the order could be executed the two men came in closely followed by the Indians... CoL Perry ... said to me, that those men we saw are some of your people from Mt. Idaho, if I had had my command mounted I might have saved them, but it is now too late, as they are already surrounded. He further said, I can no longer look at it, it makes my heart sick-and went off the hill, while I went on to the top of the bluff, where I at once saw that they were indeed surrounded about one mile and a half from the position we occupied. I remained with many others looking at the bloody work for some time, (probably fifteen or twenty minutes) when the firing gradually decreased, when I remarked that the poor fellows were all killed. We soon however, discovered some two or three were approaching us, who proved to be white men and part of Capt. Randalls party. Again a lively firing was resumed, which convinced me that some of our men were still alive and defending themselves. I remarked that it was a shame and an outrage to allow those men to there and perish without an effort being made to save them. I then mounted my horse and dashed toward them as fast as he would carry me, reaching them I think in less than five minutes, having my horse shot entirely through the body just as I reached their assistance also.

George Shearer
Mount Idaho volunteer
July 26, 1877

Shearer dashed down to their assistance, exclaiming as he went: "The man who goes down there is a d---- fool, but he's a d----d coward if he don't."

Eugene T Wilson

...The Indians cut them off, and a hot skirmish took place, until one of our Troops [Shearer] was mounted and charged in among the Indians and saved the remainder of the party. The party were 17 men from Mount Idaho, who volunteered to come to our aid thinking we were in danger, but 5 of them were killed and two wounded' before we rescued them from the Savages. After this the entire command of 3 troops mounted and charged on the Indians and drove them towards the Clearwater River.

Pvt. Frederick Mayer
July 5, 1877

We did not know why the soldiers in their dugout rifle pits did not come to the fighting.

Yellow Wolf

Members of the Brave Seventeen minced no words and called Captain Perry a coward. Less than a week after the skirmish here, Lew Wilmot became so incensed at seeing Perry that he refused to give Howard intelligence regarding the Nez Perce location on the South Fork of the Clearwater. A court of inquiry convened in September to investigate Captain Perry's inaction; he was acquitted.

he seventeen volunteers in that small party from Mount Idaho have their names engraved on the Idaho-shaped stone.

The skirmish on July 5 with the Brave Seventeen was the last time the non-treaty bands of Nez Perce set foot on Camas Prairie. Nevertheless, the settlers who lived there were still very skittish.

McConville's Command remained on the Prairie to protect the scattered settlers, some of them now returning to their ruined homes.... The settlers began to breathe more freely, despite the many wild and groundless rumors that arose. The people's imagination was excited to a point where the could see an Indian in every shrub and fence corner, when there was no Indian near...

E. J. Bunker



The Nez Perce Flight to Canada - An Introduction

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