While Howard was camped at Lolo Hot Springs on the Lolo Trail , a courier arrived from Col. Gibbon with information that Gibbon was close on the heels of the Nez Perce and expected to give battle soon.

Howard with his troops headed for the Bitterroot Valley.

Early travellers, as travellers today, made a point to visit the hot springs. Would you like to follow Lewis & Clark?

Athough General Howard wanted to squeeze the Nez Perce, his troops did not reach this spot for eleven more days. On August 6, their pleasure at reaching such a beautiful spot was evident.

The last two days we have been in rather a handsome country, i.e., since we struck the eastern Lolo River [Lolo Creek], which is a tributary of the Bitter Root River. Last night we had the most picturesque camp I have ever seen-a very remarkable spot where there are 4 hot springs.... I bathed my feet in one of them last night and found it as hot as I could bear comfortably. There was good trout fishing in the Lolo nearby, and Colonel Sanford and I got quite a fine string and had them for breakfast.

Dr. John FitzGerald
August 7, 1877

In the morning Howard rushed out of camp with the cavalry, leaving the infantry behind to make the best time it could. The foot soldiers would not catch up with the cavalry again for two weeks.

At half-past five, A.M., Spurgin, with his axe men, was already out on the trail, working hard, to get well ahead of the command, so that it might make, to-day, the utmost distance over this terribly rough and obstructed pathway.

He cleared away the fallen trees, made bridges across chasms, and, when there was time, by side-digging or walling with fragments of the rock, he improved portions of the break-neck trail.

At half-past six, A.M., with some reluctance leaving these hot springs and this charming camp, we set out, and made twenty-two miles.

Gen. O.O. Howard



The Nez Perce Flight to Canada - An Introduction

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