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History of the South Puget Sound.
The Indian War of 1855


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The Indian War of 1855

Throughout recorded history, the Puyallup Indians were regarded as peaceful and generous people. Even their name (believed to be given to them by the Yakima Indians) “Pough-allup” translates to “generous people”.
So why did the Puyallup Indians join in the war against the White man?
One account of the uprising was written by Fayette McMullen (who later became Governor of the Washington Territory):
“…The Indian tribes within our own territory living west of the Cascade Mountains, numbering some twelve thousand, are showing many signs of discontent, being unquestionable stimulated and encouraged to acts of outrage and violence by the tribes east of the mountains.
“They… could annihilate our settlements, with perhaps the exception of the more considerable villages, in a single night.
“The complain that the government of the United States has been giving away and is still selling their lands to settlers, without making them any sort of compensation – that they have in good faith made treaties with the Agent of the United States, whereby they were to receive compensation for their lands, and that these treaties have not been carried out in good faith by our government.
“They also say they are put off with promises by the Indian Agents, with the sole purpose keeping them quiet until the white population becomes strong enough to drive them off entirely…
“They do not understand by what right these things are done, and upon what principals of justice, the government refuses to ratify the treaties and pay them for the land, while it yet passes laws giving away and selling their homes, their hunting grounds and their graves.
“Reasoning thus, they regard the settlers as trespassers upon their domain, and consequently view them with extreme jealousy.”

The actual war began in mid-September 1855 when Charles H Mason, acting Governor of the territory, was informed that Indians killed a number of men traveling into Eastern Washington. He hurriedly sought aid from Fort Steilacoom and dispatched Lieutenant William A. Slaughter and his men to Naches Pass and east of the Cascades.
A large party of Yakima Indians were gathering, however, so they moved back to the western side of the pass.
At the end of October, Captain Maloney went to reinforce Slaughter’s troops. He had received orders to take the pass and continue into Eastern Washington, but he decided to stop near the pass and contact his superiors. He became worried about a possible outbreak in the Puget Sound with no military to stop it.
Maloney’s suspicions were well founded. A few days later, local Indians struck at the White River settlement and killed several people. Later, two men were killed. Then, on October 31, 1855, messengers from the detachment at Naches Pass were ambushed and killed on their way to Fort Steilacoom.
In writing of Captain Maurice Maloney, William P. Bonney recorded:
“Perhaps at no time in the history of this territory and state has the your military officer been placed in the responsible and delicate position as was Captain Maloney during the latter part of October 1855 – had he not exercised the sound judgment which he displayed… when he stopped to consider the situation, the history of the Indian War of 1855-56 would be written entirely differently than we find it.”

Abraham Salatat, an Indian, rode through the Puyallup valley warning settlers (including Mr. Kincaid?) of impending attacks. More than eighty settlers fled their homes and went to Fort Steilacoom.
During the war, Ezra Meeker commented about the conditions at the fort:
“A sorry mess… of women and children crying; some brutes of men cursing and swearing; oxen and cows bellowing, sheep bleating; dogs howling; children lost from their parents; wives from husbands; no order, in a work, the utmost disorder.”

Although there were many skirmishes and clashes, it seems the decisive battle of the War west of the Mountains was fought in March of 1856 near Connell’s Prairie on the main trail to Naches Pass. Lieutenant Gilmore Hays reported that one hundred fifty warriors attacked the one hundred ten men of his command. The battle lasted most of the day before the Indians were routed, put to flight, and pursued for a mile or more along the trail.
On May 19, 1856, Lieutenant Colonel Silas Casey, commander of the troops at Fort Steilacoom, reported to his superiors that the war west of the Cascade mountains was at an end.

Main History page | Puyallup History | Sumner History |The Puyallup Indians | The Puyallup Fair | Read more about Ezra Meeker | Read more about William Kincaid |Why Daffodil Valley? | History of the Daffodil Festival | Indian War of 1855
All historical information has been compiled through the hard work and diligence of the Daffodil Valley Times staff. Anyone may copy this information for private or public use provided links are given to Daffodil Valley Times (http://www.daffodilvalleytimes.com) and full credit is given to Daffodil Valley Times. Thank you!

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Main History page | Puyallup History | Sumner History |The Puyallup Indians | The Puyallup Fair | Read more about Ezra Meeker | Read more about William Kincaid |Why Daffodil Valley? | History of the Daffodil Festival | Indian War of 1855
All historical information has been compiled through the hard work and diligence of the Daffodil Valley Times staff. Anyone may copy this information for private or public use provided links are given to Daffodil Valley Times (http://www.daffodilvalleytimes.com) and full credit is given to Daffodil Valley Times. Thank you!

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