Canyon Creek Battle Monument

... We rode about five miles at a good gait acrost an open country. We came to the raise about 2 p.m. There the Indians opened fire on us from the top of the hill. We kept on until we made the bench. The enemy had retreated acrost the bench and was now behind the break. They were string along for about one mile. Could onely see their heads as they raised up to shoot. Here the cavalry made a halt about five hundred yards from the Indians. I kept on thinking the cavalry would charge the enemy (which they had ought to have done) but instead of charging they were dismounted and deployed to right and left and comenced fireing rapidly which put me in rather a warm place as shots was comeing from bowth ways...

S.G. Fisher
September 13, 1877

Being overly cautious, Colonel Sturgis ordered his cavalry to dismount, much to the disgust of many of them. Afoot, the troops simply could not gain the upper hand. The long-distance skirmishing resulted in three dead and twelve wounded troopers. The Nez Perce claimed three wounded.

.It was about one half hour from the time the fight comenced until we drove them from the brake. Here we got the first view of their Camp or rather their herd which was about one mile distant and scattered for a mile on the other side of Canyon Creek.... The soldiers drove the Indians slowly acrost the flat, or rather a gradual decent cut by small ravines and dry washes. Here the Indians fought entirely on horse-back, fireing mostly from their horses at long range, doing but little harm. During all this time their herd was moveing slowly acrost our front in the direction of the Canyon, evidentley being driven by the Squaws and children, the warriors keeping between us and their herd, Standing us off. As soon as their herd was in the Canyon the Indians got in the rocks and cottonwood timber along the Creek, dismounted in most cases concealing their war horses near them in ravines. Here the hardest fighting was done, the Indians haveing a great advantage of being in the rocks and timber while we were on an open grass bottom. I don't think there were more than two hundred Soldiers actualy engaged at any one time, the greater portion of them being held back on the bench as a reserve or to guard the Amunition train.

S.G. Fisher
September 13, 1877

While the Nez Perce women and boys drove their horses into the canyon, the warriors held off the cavalry at the mouth of the ravine.

A Squad of Cavalry came up the gulch oposite where we were but did not stop long as the Indians opened a real hot fire on them and they retreated down the gulch. We still tried to hold the ground, but the reds got so thick in the rocks above us that we could not raise our head to shoot without a dozen shots being fired at us. I drawed lots of shots from them by raising my hat on the muzzle of my gun above the bank, dodging it down whenever they fired a volley at it.

S.G. Fisher
September 13, 1877

Captain Benteen did charge the Nez Perce position with one company of cavalry.

Other soldiers horseback, like cavalry, were off to one side. Away ahead of the walking soldiers. They tried to get the women and children. But some warriors, not many, were too quick. Firing from a bluff, they killed and crippled a few of them, turning them back.

Yellow Wolf



The Nez Perce Flight to Canada - An Introduction

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