When he did not find the trail of the Nez Perce, he realized he had been outwitted. Circling back through the mountains, Sturgis converged with the trail of the Nez Perce and Howard's troops near Dead Indian Pass. Scrambling down into Clarks Fork Canyon on the route he had been told did not exist, Sturgis caught up with Howard a few miles below the mouth of the canyon.

During the day we travelled up a mountain [Dead Indian Hill] and through Box Canyon. It was on this night that we heard of the incident of General Sturgis' command.... He had six companies of the Seventh cavalry and had been ordered to some point on the Clark's Fork or Stinkenwater [Shoshone River]. At the point where he had been sent was a rockslide through which if Joseph passed over that particular divide he would have to go. No man with a horse could get down that slide on his horse. It was a point where troops could pick off the Indians as they came down slowly and in single file. Here, I suppose, Howard expected that Sturgis would intercept the Nez Perces....

On the II th we broke camp early and marched all day ... during that time crossing the trail of Sturgis' men. We were laying our course easterly. The Sturgis trail crossed ours at right angles and away from the rock slide mentioned above. There was much discussion in the camp that night [September 11] as to why Sturgis had left the place originally assigned to him and gone away from Joseph, especially after a detail of his own troops had located the Indian camp in close proximity to his own.

Pvt. William Connolly

General Howard camped on Clarks Fork a few miles south of today's Belfry, Idaho on the evening of September 11. In the distance behind them, the troops found Sturgis. It wasn't how it had been planned.

Though Sturgis and I were disappointed, we formed at once a close combination. I was delighted to observe the elastic tread of his horses, which could in a very few minutes walk away from ours.

Gen. O.O. Howard



The Nez Perce Flight to Canada - An Introduction

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