Soldier to Advocate C.E.S. Wood’s 1877 Diary of Alaska and the Nez Perce Conflict

Close to graduating from the United States Military Academy in spring 1874, Charles Erskine Scott Wood strongly disliked the idea of becoming an army officer. The cadet who later became the “one officer [who] rejected the fundamental assumption of American civilization’s superiority,” the cadet who composed the most famous poem in nineteenth-century western American literature, the cadet who became a Portland lawyer and civic leader, Erskine Wood disliked all that military math and physical science.[1] He disliked military discipline — “work, work, work from reveille to taps” left him no free time for reading novelists and poets. He disliked military routine and piled up “all sorts of petty infractions: inattention at drill, not turning his head and eyes to the left, a soiled collar at guard mounting, shoes not properly blackened at reveille and inspection, swinging his arms as he marched from dinner.” He disliked military punishment — being “confined to West Point for six months and forced to stand guard duty every alternate Saturday.” He disliked military stoicism — no whistling in the hallways. He disliked being humiliated and hazed and oppressed. Discontent, literate, sociable, and imaginative, Erskine wrote his father Dr. Wood that he wanted freedom — to become a writer, or maybe a mercenary, or maybe an orange grower: anyone except a military officer. Every night before bed at West Point, he was secretly writing passionate letters in his new diary for his new love, Nannie Smith.[2]

His father thought Erskine was crazy. A retired surgeon general of the Navy, Civil War veteran, absentee parent, author, and world sailor, Dr. William Maxwell Wood lectured his son: “abandon all feverish and restless desire after change and address yourself with honest and unceasing vigilance to the labor, the claims and obligations of the present around you — and the place and position to which you are called.”[3] When his father heard about Erskine’s secret lover’s diary, he told his son to quit writing such private trash. As any son might, Erskine seemed willing to be oppressed by his father’s expectations, and in spring 1874, West Point commissioned him 2nd Lieutenant Wood — though his dress uniform would conceal Erskine’s passion for the freedom to be a writer and artist and his passion to be the lover and husband of Nannie Smith.

On furlough after graduation, the reluctant new lieutenant returned to the idyllic family estate and farm outside Owings Mills, Maryland. During that green and growing summer, Erskine saw his mother Rose Wood, a pious and strict Presbyterian, still struggling to “manage the household and keep up appearances in spite of the damage her husband’s spending [and drinking] habits wrought on the family economy.” In the home of his innocent childhood, he also saw his retired father, “reduced to alcoholism, bitter and powerless …[,] abuse his mother with ferocious eruptions of temper….” Later, he would say of that summer at Rosewood Glen: “Our home became a wretched place.” After courting Nannie all summer, Erskine — at twenty-two — was ripe with passion. He asked permission to marry the “beautiful, histrionic, and coquettish” belle whose “thick chestnut hair … came down to her knees,” but Miss Smith’s stepfather rejected him. New second lieutenants earned a meager $115 per month, barely enough to cover living expenses.[4]

Alienated from family, frustrated in love, inspired by the arts, conflicted with militarism, Erskine kissed Nannie Smith farewell, boarded the train in Washington, D.C., and escaped to the mythic west in California. Clattering day and night for three thousand miles on that transcontinental train, he appeared to be a dashing young officer, an innocent “with resolute chiseled features, curly black hair, and keen, penetrating eyes … cultured, self-assured, immensely charming … [with] high connections and impeccable lineage.”[5] As Lieutenant Wood, he seemed dutiful, obedient, official, and honorable, but beneath that uniformed military surface he was also Erskine, the young artist on a private and personal quest for freedom, love, new life, discovery, expression, adventure. As Erskine, he was subversive, mischievous, anarchistic, vulnerable. This division made him human, complex, and potentially literary, for, as William Faulkner said, “the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself … alone can make good writing….”[6]

When he arrived at Camp Bidwell, his assigned army post in northern California, a love letter from Nannie Smith was waiting for him. “Of course, that letter made me very happy,” he would say years later.[7] As Nannie’s impecunious lover, Erskine wrote regularly to her, the “most sought-after belle in Washington D.C.”[8] Ignoring his father’s attempt to quash a young writer’s dreams, Erskine wrote and mailed “a manuscript to his brother Maxwell at the Navy department in Washington, D.C., requesting that Max try to place it with Harpers or Scribners.” When Max reported that Erskine’s manuscript had been rejected for “being ‘too deep for the reading public,'” he also “encourage[d] his younger brother to turn to lighter, more attractive subjects growing out of experiences and materials close at hand … [such as] ‘little sketches … of some of the funnier ports …, [with] a little mirth, a little love, etc. and a good deal of fiction…. Do this. Don’t write trash…. Cultivate a style of your own — concise free and simple.’ …”[9] Now, three thousand miles from West Point, the Lieutenant Wood who disliked militarism did his duty: “I took my company allotment of recruits and drilled them into shape and my captain [Robert Pollock] said he wouldn’t want anything better than that … and that’s about all they gave me to do….”[10] For Captain Pollock, the new lieutenant also “took over the company’s record keeping and report writing,” a duty that allowed him some freedom to write and explore and map the surrounding country and to meet and camp and live with a Paiute Indian family.[11]

By August 1875, these multiple personae and their conflicting commitments — military, literary, and romantic — had not changed. When Lieutenant Wood’s company was transferred to Vancouver Barracks, across the Columbia River from Portland, he marched these complex personae across the Great Basin from Fort Bidwell to The Dalles. En route, he filled a personal diary with his delight at the wild world of waterbirds and rimrock and sage, the beauty of high desert stars and coyotes and owls, the wonders of the Malheur oasis, Blitzen River, Alvord Desert, upthrust Steens. Years later, Erskine’s most private and important poems and paintings would arise from this remote Oregon region, and eventually he would be described as “the only distinguished poet” in the Pacific Northwest between 1880 and 1920.[12]

Early in the winter of 1876, his commanding officer at Fort Vancouver sent Lieutenant Wood to army headquarters in Portland, a mission that would permanently change his life. As he later recalled,

The Columbia was full of running ice and no one would take me across…. finally I found a flat bottom skiff — appropriated it and set out pushing my way through the ice as openings came and of course going slowly down with the current…. Just before I got even with … Hayden Island I found the seams of my boat had been plugged with ice frozen in them which had now melted. The skiff was filling with water and I hardly got to where I could get ashore when she sank. I let her go, walked across the island — only a couple of hundred yards or so — then … some wood choppers got me across to the mainland … then I walked a muddy road through dense fir forest … and delivered my dispatches to General Howard. I rather think that was our first meeting. Anyway he took a fancy to me….”[13]

The general’s “fancy” was both personal and military. Both Brig. Gen. Oliver O. Howard and his wife, Elizabeth Howard, welcomed the sociable and handsome young man as a family member. At the Howard home — the present Tenth and Morrison in Portland — Erskine would frequently take his meals, stay overnight, and visit with the general, Mrs. Howard, the young Howard children, and “Howard’s daughter Grace [who] had recently graduated from Vassar College and found her father’s post grievously lacking in suitable companions.”[14] In 1879, when the Howards moved to their new home at Fort Vancouver, they provided Erskine with a room of his own.[15] In a letter to Howard some eight years later, Erskine summarized the evolution of their relationship: “I came to you a boy, I lived at your house, loved your family. Mrs. Howard was a mother to me. I loved Grace as my own sister…. I married from your house, you stood sponsor for our first home, my father died and I felt the sympathy of all of you.”[16]

In General Howard, Erskine found not only a benign father but also a supportive literary mentor. To supplement his army income, Howard was already publishing in religious papers and eastern magazines. So, when the young writer couldn’t cross the icy Columbia, he and the general began corresponding about writing — a commonplace in literary life. On January 11, 1876, for instance, Erskine sent Howard a manuscript with the following note: “I ought to mention that I made no attempt at any broad humor or burlesque except twice and I tried to cover under a smile many points that are worth while thinking of seriously; for I wouldn’t waste my time in trying to make people smile and only smile.” In another letter to the general, he wrote, “Here’s a description of the detail of a battle. A sort of microscopical view in which the minutiae are made visible to the exclusion of the vast and important objects. It may possibly be of some service to you tho’ I think not. I would like to have it again if you will kindly keep it for me.” Two weeks later, General Howard responded: “Dear Wood: I send back these slips. The writer gives graphic incidents. I do not forget scenes as trying & exciting & plaintive…. Yours gratefully, O. O. Howard.”[17] Simultaneous with these literary exchanges, “Erskine wrote regularly to Nannie — lengthy letters, almost comically conventional, gushing with the ardent spirit of young love.”[18]

In addition to this personal and private writing, Lieutenant Wood took up an official military role as Howard’s judge advocate, a roaming and privileged position that required him to settle and write up “legal and jurisdictional disputes as well as questions involving military discipline and criminal acts” throughout the Department of the Columbia.[19 As Erskine later explained, he was “ordered around rather promiscuously[:] to Puget Sound … in a rather important case … [;] to the mouth of the Columbia to attend to some matters of government rights … [;] to Fort Walla Walla to get material for confidential reports.” All this region-wide travel and work as judge advocate “gave [him] a black eye in the regiment,” so he asked Captain Pollock to “find some real company or regimental duties.” When General Howard received this request, he refused to reassign his favored and literary lieutenant, who was “doing him and the government more service in faithfully administering those [judge advocate] offices and duties … [than those] he [Pollock] allotted me.”[20]

By April 1877, Lieutenant Wood was well known to General Howard as family friend, young writer, budding artist, and judge advocate. So, as freedom-seeking Erskine later explained, “when Charles Taylor, with a letter from the War Department in Washington applied for a military companion and escort on his expedition to climb Mt. St Elias, Alaska …, Gen. Howard sent for me at Vancouver Barracks and asked if I wanted to go. In 24 hours I was on the [steamer] California bound for Sitka.”[21] Heading north to explore wild Alaska, Lieutenant Wood carried a thin, brown, leather-bound five-by-eight-inch vest pocket notebook — thirty unnumbered, lined blank pages ready to be filled by the exploring mind — a commonplace for beginning writers. Erskine probably intended to use this private “diary of situation” as a literary “source book that might be mined for materials to be used in [later] … public writing — ” poem, article, essay, autobiography.[22]

After five weeks escorting Charles Taylor’s expedition — not recorded in this diary — Lieutenant Wood returned to rainy Sitka, and Charles Taylor sailed for Portland. On May 16, Erskine wrote General Howard an eleven-hundred-word letter describing Taylor’s adventure, asking for permission to stay longer, then announcing his own exploring party and signing off as “your friend.”[23] Without waiting for Howard’s reply, Erskine set off on his own expedition into the wild beauty of Alaskan landscape and Tlingit culture — shamans, stories, totem poles, ceremonies, cedars, masks, salmon, hunts, canoes, glaciers, icebergs, bays, seals — and a night of love with a Chilcat woman.[24] Returning to Sitka in early June, Lieutenant Wood “received word that the army had granted him the three-year leave he requested” but he also learned that “the Nez Perce Indians had attacked settlers … [and] his Twenty-first Regiment had been called to the front.”[25] To further complicate Erskine’s quest for freedom and adventure, he was out of money and all his fellow soldiers were withdrawing from Sitka. Now he had to choose: should he stay in the north alone and dare more unfunded exploring? Should he go south with his comrades on the monthly steamer? By June 11, he decided: though Erskine had just enjoyed the freedom of a cross-cultural adventure among the Tlingit, as Lieutenant Wood he now conformed, fell in, and sailed for war.

How much Lieutenant Wood knew about the causes of the Nez Perce–U.S. Army conflict when he boarded that steamer to leave Alaska on June 11, 1877, is an open question. If he had read Colonel Clay Wood’s 1875–1876 report, Status of Young Joseph and His Band of Nez Perce Indians …, he might well have been disturbed. It was widely known that, “because Joseph’s band had never signed the 1863 agreement [treaty,] … the band could not be forced to move …[and that] Howard was so impressed … he wrote to the War Department, ‘I think it a great mistake to take from Joseph and his band of Nez Perces Indians that valley [the Wallowa].’ “[26] Since saving the lives of the members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805, the Nez Perces had maintained peaceful and friendly relations for over sixty years with white missionaries, soldiers, and government agents, and in 1855 they signed a treaty with the United States that apportioned 6.4 million acres to the five Nez Perce bands living in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. In 1863, the federal government made a dubious new treaty that reduced the 1855 Nez Perce lands to 784,996 acres in Idaho alone — about one-tenth of their former holdings. The government agent who negotiated that 1863 treaty “secured the signature or the agreement of every headman whose lands the new treaty would not affect, but did not secure the signatures of Joseph, White Bird, or any leader, save Timothy and Jason, who lived outside the borders of the new reservation” [emphasis added]. “By the [new] treaty’s terms, all of the [non-treaty] bands were required to move on the reservation [in Idaho] within one year after the document was ratified.”[27] Erskine would have known that Joseph and his Wallowa Valley band had not signed the 1863 treaty, and that they and other non-treaty bands rightfully refused to leave homelands legally agreed to be theirs in 1855. He may also have known about the failures of various commissions and councils to right the obvious injustices — murder, trespass, and theft — committed against the non-treaty bands by invading white settlers, miners, and headmen of the Christianized treaty bands.

Lieutenant Wood could not have known, however, the chief reason his Twenty-first Infantry battalion had now been called to war. When the Lapwai Council concluded on May 15, Erskine had been exploring Alaska and learning Chilcat culture. No telegram, letter, or messenger from Lapwai could have reached him with the ominous news: General Howard had turned the peaceful Lapwai council from a legitimate treaty rights forum into a bellicose, ethnocentric, and racist assault. Failing to grant the validity of non-treaty rights, becoming intolerant of cultural and religious differences, trusting force to intimidate the parties in a legal dispute, and knowing he had the approval of racist Indian agents, settlers, and state and federal agencies, General Howard had imprisoned the chief Nez Perce orator and proclaimed his militarist ultimatum: all non-treaty Nez Perces had thirty days to “remove” from their legally held homelands or they would face the threat of “removal” by his forces. Wanting to avoid the bloodshed Howard threatened, the Wallowa band had, in fact, crossed the Snake River and were moving to the Idaho reservation when four drunk young men from White Bird’s band — shamed by years of white greed, invasion, murder, and theft — retaliated against settlers along the Salmon River. In the U.S. military imagination, this retribution became “the outbreak of war.” Re-imagining the tribe that saved the lives of Lewis and Clark as “the enemy,” General Howard then ordered around a hundred cavalry to attack “the hostiles” camped on White Bird Creek. In that battle, Nez Perce warriors — outnumbered two to one — killed thirty-four men and forced the survivors to panic and retreat. Sailing south on the Inside Passage the afternoon of June 17, Lieutenant Wood had no idea that ten days later — on the afternoon of June 27 — he would record in his diary the unforgettable burial of those thirty-four dead soldiers.[28]

Sailing down the rainy Northwest coast that June, Lieutenant Wood could never have imagined that for the next four months — actually, for the rest of his life — he would play a part in what historians generally agree was the “meanest, most contemptible, least justifiable thing that the United States was ever guilty of ” — the U.S. Army’s eviction and seventeen-hundred-mile pursuit of around eight hundred fleeing and fighting non-treaty Nez Perce men, women, and children with their baggage and horse herd.[29] After confronting, defeating, or eluding General Howard’s forces in battles and skirmishes in Idaho, the Nez Perce refugees and their two thousand head of horses fled across rugged Lolo Pass into western Montana. Assuming General Howard’s troops would not follow, the Nez Perces made a non-aggression pact with Montana settlers and traveled south to camp at Big Hole, where they were attacked at dawn on August 9 by more federal troops and local civilians. After intense fighting and numerous casualties on both sides, the Nez Perces escaped from Big Hole, and for the next two months they successfully fought off or eluded the three different armies sent to capture them, including Howard’s foot-weary men and his Lieutenant Wood. Riding north to seek peace and asylum in Canada, the non-treaty bands stopped to rest at Bear’s Paw on September 29, a day’s ride from freedom over the border. There, on the afternoon of September 30, they were attacked and besieged by soldiers under Col. Nelson A. Miles and, promised they could return to Idaho in the spring, Chief Joseph — the only present non-treaty band leader — surrendered to Miles and General Howard on October 5, 1877.

One of wood’s few surviving original texts from that summer of 1877, the diary transcribed below has two distinct sections. Part 1 is Alaska entries written between April and June 17, 1877, and confirmed by Erskine himself as incomplete: “When I set out to explore Alaska, I began a journal and kept it faithfully for three days while I was on the steamer.”[30] Wood’s most recent biographer notes that “[These] fragments … from his Sitka journal suggest that he [Wood] wished to produce … a humorous anecdotal account of frontier life, its roguish characters, and colorful speech” in the manner of Bret Harte and Mark Twain.[31] They may also reflect his brother Max’s earlier advice to write “little sketches … of some of the funnier ports …, [with] a little mirth, a little love, and a good deal of fiction.” Part 2 of Wood’s diary records his first five weeks in the U.S. Army–Nez Perce conflict in Oregon and Idaho — entries written between June 19 and July 23, 1877. Like the first section from his Alaska exploration, this section is incomplete. Another commonplace of young writers called to adventure appears: the novice buys a blank diary and starts to write daily entries, but life — action, excitement, exhaustion, weather — takes over. Art disappears. Blank pages march on and on. Erskine did not intend this text as a complete, official, or exact historical record. In fact, he argued against making “history from the diaries of soldiers.”[32]

Here, in the second section, cited by numerous historians and Wood’s biographer, are the rough notes of a young and undifferentiated writer in his multiplicity of personae. Erskine cryptically and tacitly records his initiation by conflict and complexity into racism, injustice, militarism, identity — some of the same forces he first encountered as a West Point cadet. In these pages, he also faces unknowns — cultural differences, ethnicity, terrain, self-destruction, mortality. All these encounters made that summer and fall of 1877 unforgettable. Converting these thirty diary pages into publishable postwar texts would present numerous problems. For one, Erskine wrote his diary rapidly and briefly in pencil, mixing military and private diction in an idiosyncratic shorthand — fragments, abbreviations, dashes, symbols, numbers, quotations, allusions, lowercase letters, no months, few place-names. Reading his own writing here might have been difficult, and the original text shows that — sometime later — he added dates and details. After the war, he also had to decide what he should censor and what he could publish based on these entries. Clearly, he could not betray General Howard, who had trusted him sufficiently to promote him to aide-de-camp on July 22. He also had to decide how to portray the non-treaty Nez Perces, whom he came to respect and admire during this summer. Finally, he had to decide whether or not to expand on, further reveal, or suppress his personal responses, his inner life, his own observations. He addressed these questions for the rest of his career, and his answers — both published and unpublished — make his life and work both important and contemporary.

C.E.S. Wood’s Diary, 1877: Alaska and the Nez Perce War

{+ Sitka 1877 May ?}

Phillipson’s account of the “old times” under the Russian government: “They was the most happiest people I ever see.* Come draw their rations same as at the Commissary, go to the store and get all kinds of things. Best quality.

“Soup kitchen: this was the soup kitchen for the poor. All come at three o’clock and get their bowl of soup. A bowl had to be sent in every day to the Master of the Port for inspection. Prince often sent down for his bowl of soup.‡ Pig roasted whole on Sundays. Market and trade room for the Indians.

“They was the most virtuous people I ever see in a seaport.”

Contrast now: the poor old loafing clerk with nothing to do; the old musician. Day off. Drunkenness, squalor, debauchery, prostitution, stagnation, filth and all uncleanness. Unreliability of the men for work. Prostitution a necessity.

Berry’s discussion on drunkenness: “I’ve got no use for drunkard around me.† Been a millionaire if I hadn’t had twice on four drunkards for partners. Good fellows too. Couldn’t shake ’em.

“There’s old Smith. Baldy Smith we used to call him because he was bald. Made some $15,000, left ranching came to town, started saloon keeping, married a woman fit for no man’s wife. She wasn’t a bad woman. Had a baby every three or four hours. And a filthy dirty slovenly slut. Perfect bitch about the house. Smith drank himself to death, left his wife and six children, three of ’em his, went down to Astoria the other day and drowned himself.”*

“There’s Dr. Wilcox. Perfect gentleman, good friend of mine, fine gentleman he was too. Committed suicide in Portland the other day. He’d carry that thing full of whisky inside of him and you’d meet him on the street and think him perfectly sober, but he couldn’t stand it you know. Killed him.”†

“Damn the stuff. No man of happiness can afford to drink whisky. An occasional tear is bad enough for any man but an habitual drinker will never die rich.”

Lewis having his horse stolen, offered $2.50 for his saddle, and drops it in the Deschutes in disgust.

Walker: “Injuns likes [sic] to catch the ‘erring.'[herring].”

June 11th [Sitka — begin dated/post-dated entries]

Monday. Steamer [California] arrives.‡

June {+12th -13} [Sitka]

Rush of preparation to evacuate. Sale of goods and government stores. Mule sale.§

Conversation at the priest’s house. Fright of the wretched women. Madame Metropolsky’s offer of subsistence for the troops. Her fears of attack and murder.**

June 14th [Sitka to Wrangel]

The leave taking. Mistresses and sweethearts. Soldier’s parting with his child. The old Russian woman praying to be taken to portland {+P}. The tearful group on the wharf. Bring {+ ing } in the drunks. Farewell to Sitka.

June 15th

Wrangel. Scenes in Wrangel. Slavery in U.S. Slave difficulty on the ship. Sacrificing slaves & etc. Small Siwash smoking his meerschaum, old blind Paul. His opinion of the manufacturing of whisky: “Bad — fooling mighty bad, damn bad….”

June 16th [Inside Passage]

Fair weather in morning, foggy rainy at night. Pass Metlakatla — Church and settlement — run through Grenville Channel.†† { – Did you see her looking for gloves under the cattle when she first came in? Hadn’t lost her gloves at all.}

June 17 { – & 18} [Inside Passage to Port Townsend]

Still progressing southward. Pass through Seymour Narrows morning of 18th { – 17th}about 3:30 o’clock. Hard wind. Party around smoke stack in cruel glee over the sufferings of the seasick doctors. Baker’s exasperation: “Why don’t the old scoundrel take her out of the trough of the sea?” Arrive at Fort Townsend in evening. Visit Dr. Alden and Scrubby and go to bed.‡‡

June 19th { – 20th} [Port Townsend to Columbia River]

Put Bancroft and his Company ashore at Townsend and take Burton and his Company aboard.§§ Rumors of war. Touch at Townsend, sound Flattery light and put to sea.

June 20 { – 21st} [Astoria to Portland]

Cross the bar, touch at Canby’s.*** The telegram. Stirring news. No companies to disembark. All under orders for the front. Discharge the baggage and sick. Farewell to [Fort] Canby. Touch at Astoria and { – all we} hear reports of Perry’s massacre with his command.* Growing excitement. Cheering remarks from citizens of, “Go in and kill ’em all boys. Don’t spare the bloody savages.” Confound these curses. Wish they were going to fight them instead of standing on a wharf and put us on the track.† Arrive in Portland at about 2 o’clock at night. Round up {+Col. Adjut} Wood and get news and orders.‡ I visit Mrs. Howard.§ General well. Perry not killed. Theller of mine{+21st} killed.** Volunteers called for. All troops ordered up.

June {+21st } [Portland to Celilo]

Off for the front. Bancroft’s Company on board with us — once more.†† Meet the [steamer] Canby and pick up Throckmorton and Rodney with his Company. Now we have five Companies in all.‡‡ Touch at Vancouver. Say howdy do and goodbye in a breath. Take on some of the munitions of war — field pieces and gatlings and howitzers.

Cascades at noon. Party of admiring damsels gaze on the defenders of the country. Wainwright in desperation.§§ Paddock’s advice to him: “Come along and telegraph for permission, and if permission is refused at that end, begin to telegraph to the General at Lewiston.”*** Anything to gain time and keep moving to the front.

Arrive at Dalles in evening. Feel { – Felt feell} very much like staying in Dalles and keeping some of the pretty girls that look so favorably upon us from any sadness or anxiety on my account.††† Buy a hat in Dalles. First opportunity to purchase anything whatever since I left Sitka. Everything I own, blankets and clothes are all in my boxes in hold of California.

Through to Celilo. The poor Indians on the rocks of The Dalles wave encouraging signals to us to go on and kill and be killed. Hard to tell which they prefer. Leave Celilo about seven o’clock in the evening and at last are on a boat where we remain for two days and two nights and can take a rest. One week from Sitka to Celilo. Whoopla!

{+ June 1877} [in left margin]

{+ June ’77} [in top margin]

June 22nd [Celilo to Snake River]

En route aboard the [steamer] Almota. Touch at Umatilla. News — sixty men missing. Troops camped near Lewiston. Lapwai said to be abandoned. Heard that at Dalles yesterday. Don’t believe it.

June 23rd {+3} [Snake River to Lewiston]

Nearing the field. Peculiar nervous feeling of going to death. Shrinking from the exposure. Want desire to be out of the expedition. Old soldiers the same way. Each fight more dreaded than the last. The desire to investigate immortality. Thoughts of death, inability to change the mood and tenor of life and thoughts. Each one’s expectation that he will escape.‡‡‡

June 24th

Arrival at Lewiston. Bustle of preparation. Lapwai.§§§

June 25th [Fort Lapwai to Norton’s Ranch/Cottonwood]

Arrival of pack trains. Incidents in packing, comic and serio comic. 25th. Troops start for the front. Mrs. F’s description of her Indian scare — in the cellar.*

June 26th [Norton’s Ranch to White Bird Creek]

A new pack train. On the road. Rodney’s camp. The nest of officers in one tent. Pouring rain. Night ride in cold drenching rain. Hail. Camp at Norton’s. Norton’s pup. Deserted houses, flowers and chickens uncared for. Milk pails left on the fence. Evidence of a hurried flight.†

{+ June 27th } [Whitebird Battlefield to Camp Theller on Salmon River]‡

Graves by the wayside. Overtaking the main column. Gentlemanly officers looking like herders. Rough aspect of everyone. Business — not holiday — costumes.§

Burying the dead {+in White Bird Canyon}.** Horrible stench. Arms and cheeks gone. Bellies swollen. Blackened faces. Mutilations.†† Heads gone. Tragic fate of the bugler. Indian atrocities. Ravishing and burning women. The man of 14 days — gooseberry his [illegible].

Camp. Singing, storytelling and swearing. Profanity — carelessness — accepting things — horrible at other times. As a matter of course, each as mutilated corpses and death in ghastly forms, strewn on every side. Again there is the necessary leaving of last messages for sweethearts, mothers, and wives, telling of { – mementoes} jokes about being killed, about not looking for “my body” and etc. Firing expected tomorrow. The nerve it takes to face the probabilities by writing these last letters and leaving mementoes for loved ones is wonderful — and one feels demoralized by such acts as these.

Rain — eternal rain — veal and no veal. Supper in camp. Visiting at the different messes. Youngsters with neither bedding nor shelter. Roughing it jokingly. Night duty. Posting the pickets. Rough times all night standing in the rain. No fire. No talking. No bedding. No sleeping. Up at two o’clock for fear of Indian habits of attack. Roll call at six. (The alarm shot at midnight. One of our own pickets shot by one of our men.)‡‡ Breakfast.

{+ June 28th } [Camp Theller at Salmon River (East Bank)]

The advance. More ruins. Indians speckling the hills like ants. Firing.* Sudden feeling of interaction on hearing the shots. Nervous eagerness for the fight. Desire to be at the front. All thoughts of the future vanishing. Only want a crack at an Indian† and feel no disposition to show any quarter. Advance to river. Planted batteries and left picket lines commanding the crossing. Rodney encamps at Camp Theller.‡ Artillery remains in position. E and I Companies return with Cavalry to camp.

{+ June 29th } [Salmon River at White Bird Crossing]

Entire command moves to river. Attempt to cross the river.§

{+ June 30th} [Salmon River at White Bird Crossing]

Still constructing the ferry.** Cavalry leave us for Looking Glass. My farewell to Rains.†† Wilkinson and Mason come up.‡‡ D, E, I, and part of Artillery cross this day.
July 1st [Salmon River at White Bird Crossing]

(Sunday). Remainder of troops cross this day.

July 2nd [West Bank, Salmon River to Deer Creek Canyon]

Moved to point 3/4th way to summit of Snake river mountains.§§ Rain. Mud. Forty five degree ascent. {- Show} Bombarded with pack mules. Dead Mule Trail.*** Return to pack trains. Camp Misery. Sleeping in water. [illegible].

July 3rd [Deer Creek Canyon to Brown’s Mountain (Camp Mountain)]*

Mountain camp finally reached after long toil over Dead Mule Trail.†

July 4 [Brown’s Mountain to Camp Rains‡ on Johns Creek]

March fifteen miles. We camp in sight of Mount Idaho. News of Rains disaster.§ Duncan and Eltonhead fighting.** Camp. Rains.

July 5 [Johns Creek to Salmon River at Craig Billy Crossing]††

Move to Camp Otis on Salmon. Twelve miles below Camp Haughey. Raft.‡‡ Alarm by Lear[y ?].§§ Arrival of “Ruben” {+friendly Nez Perce}.***

On Picket.††† { – “Crusoe Otis”}

July 6 [Craig Billy Crossing to Salmon River Mountains (Camp Parnell)]

“Crusoe Otis.”‡‡‡ Arrival of pack train from Haughey Horrible retrograde march. Camp at head of canyon. Soldier shot [by] {+ Lieutenant Paddock. Solemnity of the silent corpse, the simple grave, the soldier’s burial clothes. The lonely mound under the mournful pines, and all the pathos of death in loneliness. How all things earthly sink into nothingness before the dread silence of the dead one.}§§§ “False Alarm.”****

July 7 [Camp Parnell at Salmon River Mountains]

Long weary dragging march to mountain camp.* Cavalry and Headquarters leave us for Grangeville. Stragglers. Hard march.

July 8th [Salmon River Mountains to Salmon River at White Bird Crossing (Camp Haughey)]

March to river by shorter route. Avoid Dead Mule Trail. Overtake Cavalry and Headquarters. Put Cavalry over river and ferry our Infantry Battalion over. Cavalry and Headquarters and Haughey push on.

July 9th [West Bank, Salmon River, to East Bank and White Bird Canyon]

Artillery crosses. Command camps at “Theller.” Hunting berries. Camp struck and {+we} push for the front. Night’s march and our wretched “bivowk” [sic] at head of White Bird Canyon. No food. No anything.

July 10th [White Bird Canyon to Walls at South Clearwater (East Bank)]

Take wagons for Grangeville. Arrive and breakfast. Our hostess Madame Crooks.† She cun [sic] talk. Proceed to General Howard’s camp about six miles in rear of Indians. Crossing the Clearwater on the bridge. Wild flowers, tulips & etc. Duncan’s [horse? house?].

July 11 [Walls to South Clearwater Battlefield (East Bank)]

Advance on Indians. Engage them at about 11:30 am. We occupying a rolling broken plateau. They the rocks and wooded ravines. Howitzers open fire. Skirmishing. Sharpshooting.

Famous hat. The Sergeant and McNally shot. Charge by line in front of me. Firing till after dark. Indians in the ravines after horses. Caring for the wounded. No food no drink no clothing. All day without water. Night in the trenches. Preparing for an attack at dawn. Anxious times. Sound of Indians dancing and wailing. Williams and Bancroft shot.‡ I, [lost? last?] on the picket line. Incidents.

July 12 [East Bank, South Clearwater Battlefield]§

Morning firing reopened. Jackson appearing.** Artillery withdrawn. Extending our line. The charge. Rapid firing. Indian works. Their camp captured. Preparing to follow. Our camp with the wounded. The Command camp [sic] on the river.††

July 13 [West Bank, South Clearwater, to Kamiah]

The pursuit. Hampered with howitzer ammunition. Crossing the river. The Indian camp.‡‡ Left behind with the howitzer ammunition. Losing the trail. Hearing the firing. View from the hills.§§ Our doubts as to our position. Coming into camp. Indians across [east of] the river.

July 14th [Kamiah (Camp Macbeth)]***

Still in camp. Indians across the river.

July 15 [Sunday, Kamiah]

Day off. Resting. Joseph wants to talk.* Wait all day. No talk. Begin to cross river in afternoon.

July 16 [Kamiah to East Bank, Clearwater River]

Finish crossing the river. Go into a hot camp after being recalled from a march about a mile and a half. Prisoners begin to come in.† “Joseph halo come in,” {+ no come in}. Clatawa Lolo Trail.” {+ gone away by Lolo Trail}.‡ Cavalry start in pursuit. Rest for the weary sole.§

July 17 [East Bank, Clearwater River at Kamiah]

Military commission formed to try prisoners** Still they come. {- 18th}. Officer of the day.†† Night with the prisoners. Musings on the unhappy people and the fate before them. Thoughts on the Indian as a human being, a man and brother. His strange history.‡‡ Inability to fuse with the white man. Difference in physical characteristics between these Indians and the Alaskans. Similarity of some of these men to the Roman type. Alaskans purely Asiatic.

July 18th { – 19th} [Clearwater River at Kamiah to Camas Prairie]§§

Breaking camp on return of Cavalry. Surrender of the young wounded “Eagle of the Light.”*** I am improvised a cudi and hear the woes and troubles of the innocent captives.††† I read them a lecture for general effect and say, “So go and sin no more.”‡‡‡ Night march. No shoe. No nothin’ now. Another “bivowk.” [sic]§§§

July 19th { – 20th} [Camas Prairie to Cold Spring]****

Horrible hot stifling march across a dry prairie.†††† No breakfast. No water. Men fainting and falling by the wayside.

July 20th [Cold Spring to Camas Prairie (Camp Wilkinson)]*

In camp at Cold Spring. “Throck’s” scare.† Waiting for the General. The afternoon march and camp on the prairie. Grass to our knees. Rolling hills. Sides speckled with herd and pack train. Men bustling about packs. Reminded of an Oriental camp in some desert, or steppe, and of De Quincey’s Flight of a Tartar Tribe.

July 21st [Camas Prairie to Lawyer Creek]

March to Camp Alexander in Lawyer’s Canyon.§ Trout, ease, and comfort.

July 22nd [Lawyer Creek]**

Sunday in the canyon. Arrival of Cushing and command.†† I am promoted to Aide-de- Camp.‡‡

July 23rd [Lawyer Creek to Cottonwood Creek (Camp Alfred Sully)]§§

Leave all about 6:45 A.M. for Croasdaile Ranch and camp at Chapman’s ranch at about 10:45.*** Nine miles.

Published here by permission, the original diary is housed in the C.E.S. Wood Collection, WD Box 26(1), Huntington Library, San Marino, California [hereafter Wood Collection], where it was deposited by Sara Bard Field with Wood’s other papers sometime after 1947. To decode Erskine’s shorthand, I’ve done the following: (1) standardized spelling and mechanics; (2) added [in brackets] month and place names, army campsites, headings, and occasional clarifications; (3) added paragraph breaks in longer passages; (4) noted indecipherable words with [illegible] and arbitrary choices with [lost? last?]. When Erskine underlined, I retained the underlining. All of Erskine’s postwar additions in ink — dates, overstrikes, additions, marginalia, interlineations — are enclosed in {+italics}, as is his major 1878 revision. All of Erskine’s deletions are enclosed in {-italics}.

* William Phillipson was a Sitka trader and schooner captain. He told Wood that “his schooner will return about the 15th of June and that he [Phillipson] is going to trade with the Chilcat chief at his village and that he will take me [Wood] along.” C.E.S. Wood, letter to General Howard, May 16 , 1877, Oliver Otis Howard Papers, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine [hereafter Howard Papers]. Appointed postmaster in Sitka on August 14, 1871, Phillipson died July 18, 1924. Karen Meizner, email to author, March 4, 2004.

‡ Prince Dmitry Maksutov was chief manager for the Russian government from December 1863 to October 1867. C.L. Andrews, Sitka: The Chief Factory of the Russian American Company, 3rd ed. (Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton Printers, 1945), 88.

† Probably Maj. M.P. Berry, a veteran of the Civil War and Mexican War, who served as U.S. collector of customs in Sitka in 1877. Andrews, Sitka, 112n10; Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of Alaska (San Francisco: History Company, 1886), 619.

* Possibly a reference to Capt. Harry M. Smith, Company G, Twenty-first Infantry, who “Died at Fort Lapwai, Idaho Territory April 23, 1877 of inflammation of the stomach and bowels.” Trevor K. Plante, National Archives and Records Administration, letter to author, April 14, 2004. In his next letter to General Howard, Wood wrote: “[Major Canby] says too that Smith of the 21st killed himself.” Wood to Howard, May 16, 1877, Howard Papers. These frank diary notes show Erskine’s uncensored writing for himself about taboo subjects, and the letter shows his self-censorship as Lieutenant Wood when writing to Howard.

† Dr. Ralph Wilcox was a native of Ontario County, New York, who came to Oregon in 1845. He shot himself April 18, 1877, at age fifty-eight. Biography Card File, Oregon Historical Society Research Library, Portland [hereafter OHS Research Library].

‡ The private ocean steamer that made monthly trips between Portland and Alaska.

§ After ten years of responsibility for Alaskan affairs — except customs, commerce, and navigation — the army was withdrawing completely from this remote and expensive post. Wood probably knew men in Company M, Twenty-first Infantry, who were selling everything and boarding the southbound steamer. Paul T. Scheips, “Darkness and Light: The Interwar Years 1865–1898,” in American Military History (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Army Center of Military History, 1989), 296–7; R.N. DeArmond, email to author, February 27, 2004.

** “The priest’s house” refers to the residence of the Russian Orthodox priest Father Nicholas G. Metropolsky, who “presided over the church [Cathedral of St. Michael] for many years” and later helped to organize a local government and Sitka city charter. Madame Metropolsky, like many Sitka residents, feared that U.S. military withdrawal would leave them vulnerable to a Tlingit attack similar to the one that had driven out the Russians. There was no Tlingit attack. Andrews, Sitka, 70; Dr. Charles Coate, email to author, February 21, 2004; Meizner, email to author, March 4, 2004.

†† “Church and settlement” refer to Father Duncan’s Tsimshian mission. Duncan believed Native peoples needed to be isolated from white civilization and degeneracy until they could be prepared for assimilation. He pushed prohibition, adoption of the English language, and abandonment of Native culture. He later moved his settlement to New Metlakatla near Ketchikan. Coate, email to author, February 21, 2004.

‡‡ Baker may be an army surgeon who had arrived on March 19, 1876, and was returning to the lower states. See Emily Fitzgerald, An Army Doctor’s Wife on the Frontier, ed. Abe Laufe (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1962), 179. Dr. Charles H. Alden was a U.S. Army surgeon assigned to Fort Townsend. The 1877 Territorial Census listed “Mrs. Alden 37, and four children 10-2.” Scrubby may be the nickname of Lt. Ebenezer W. Stone, Twenty-first Infantry, who served as post commander. Plante, letter to author, April 7, 2004; Victoria Davis, email to author, March 23, 2004.

§§ Capt. Eugene A. Bancroft, Company M, Fourth Artillery, was stationed at Fort Townsend; Capt. George H. Burton, Company C, Twenty-first Infantry, at Fort Vancouver.

*** Fort Canby, Washington, at the mouth of the Columbia River. See Lewis A. MacArthur and Lewis L. MacArthur, Oregon Geographic Names, 7th ed. (Portland: Oregon Historical Society Press, 2003), 155. In his work as judge advocate, Wood had been here before.

* Capt. David L. Perry was stationed at Fort Lapwai. On June 17, Perry led 103 men of the First Cavalry into battle against a force of 60–70 Nez Perce warriors. Ignorant of terrain and unskilled in war, Perry’s men were routed by veteran Nez Perces, who were superior horsemen, marksmen, and tacticians. Perry’s command panicked and retreated, leaving behind 34 dead soldiers — though Perry himself survived the so-called Battle of White Bird Canyon. Jerome Greene, Nez Perce Summer, 1877 (Helena: Montana Historical Society Press, 2000), 25–48.

† This is the first explicit evidence of Wood’s ambivalence toward aggression.

‡ Col. Henry Clay Woods, assistant adjutant general, stationed at Fort Vancouver. In 1875–1876, he had researched and written the definitive report on the non-treaty bands’ status, arguing that “because Joseph’s band had never signed the 1863 agreement [treaty] … the band could not be forced to move…. Howard was so impressed … that he wrote to the War Department, ‘I think it a great mistake to take from Joseph and his band of Nez Perces Indians that valley [the Wallowa].’ ” Bruce Hampton, Children of Grace (New York: Henry Holt, 1994), 42; U.S. Army, Dept. of the Columbia, The Status of Young Joseph and His Band of Nez-Perce Indians … (Portland, Ore.: Assistant Adjutant General’s Office, Dept. of the Columbia, 1876).

§ Elizabeth Anne Waite married Oliver Otis Howard in 1855, a year after he graduated from West Point. She welcomed and treated Wood as a family member — evidenced here by his visit to her.

** 1st Lt. Edward R. Theller, Twenty-first Infantry, stationed at Fort Lapwai. Killed on June 17 at White Bird, he had been Perry’s subordinate officer.

†† “When the California left the posts in Alaska on the 16th of June, she had on board ‘A,’ ‘G,’ and ‘M’ companies of the Fourth Artillery. Three days laters [sic], she stopped at Fort Townsend, near the mouth of Puget Sound, to discharge ‘M’ Company and take on ‘C’ Company of the 21st Infantry. The boat was hardly out of sight before Captain Eugene A. Bancroft, commanding ‘M’ company, received his orders. Taking a boat to Tacoma, and a train thence to Kaloma [sic] on the Columbia River, ‘M’ Company rejoined their comrades at Portland.” Mark H. Brown, The Flight of the Nez Perce (New York: Putnam, 1967), 145.

‡‡ Capt. Charles B. Throckmorton, Fourth Artillery, and Capt. George B. Rodney, Company D, Fourth Artillery.

§§ 2nd Lt. Robert P. Page Wainwright, Company K, First Cavalry, stationed at The Dalles. In September 1877, Wainwright participated in the reburial of soldiers killed at White Bird. In 1879, he was stationed at Fort Walla Walla. Roster of Troops Serving in the Department of the Columbia (Vancouver: U.S. Army, August, 1879), 5; Greene, Nez Perce Summer, 390n48.

*** 1st Lt. George H. Paddock, Fourth Artillery, later involved in a “friendly fire” death. See July 6 entry and accompanying note.

††† These and later paragraphs further reveal Wood’s ambivalence about aggression.

‡‡‡ Greene notes that this entry provides “rare contemporary insight into the emotions of soldiers bound for the front during an Indian campaign …” (Nez Perce Summer, 389). Greene deciphers Wood’s handwriting somewhat differently than given here.

§§§ Wood may have sketched Fort Lapwai while passing through. Here, he may also have been issued the standard forty pounds or so of infantryman’s equipment. As an officer, Wood was required to purchase a Springfield rifle, ammunition belt, and canteen. For a heroic depiction of uniformed infantry marching as Wood probably marched, see the Vincent Colyer drawing “In Pursuit of Joseph,” Harpers Weekly, August 18, 1877, p. 641.

* Mrs. F. is Emily FitzGerald, the wife of army surgeon Dr. Jenkins FitzGerald. She apparently told Wood how, four “days after the rout at White Bird[,] some white ruffians chased and fired on two friendly Indians who promptly whipped their ponies to top speed and dashed to the post [Fort Lapwai.] Before their excited remarks could be properly interpreted, the cry spread that the hostiles were coming; the troops took up defensive positions, and the wives of enlisted men and their children ‘came running, wild with fear, to the officers’ line of houses’ where ‘a block house had been established …, and casks of water and provisions were kept in the cellar. Cord wood had been stacked around the house to protect it from shot and all the women and children had been instructed in case of attack to take shelter there.'” Brown, Flight of the Nez Perce, 141.

† The ranch was established on Nez Perce land in 1862 by some of the twenty thousand invading gold miners. Originally called “Cottonwood House” and later “Norton’s Ranch” after then-owner Benjamin B. Norton, the ranch straddled the Lewiston–Mount Idaho road and included barns, stables, and corrals, as well as a “store, saloon, hotel, and stage station.” The Norton family and others had fled the ranch for Grangeville on the night of June 14. Alvin Josephy, The Nez Perce Indians and the Opening of the Northwest (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965), 386–442; Greene, Nez Perce Summer, 32, 59; Brown quotes from but does not credit this diary entry (Flight of the Nez Perce, 157).

‡ Brown quotes this entire day’s entry as providing “an intimate picture of this camp” and credits Wood anonymously (Flight of the Nez Perce, 159–61). See also Robert Hamburger, Two Rooms: The Life of Charles Erskine Scott Wood (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998), 46; Greene, Nez Perce Summer, 45–6; and Hampton, Children of Grace, 90: all quote excerpts and give in-text credit. Greene deciphers Wood’s handwriting somewhat differently than given here.

§ Wood’s Company D, Twenty-first Infantry, and the four other companies from the Almota joined General Howard’s other forces on this day, the second day of burials. Brown, Flight of the Nez Perce, 160–1; John D. McDermott, Forlorn Hope (Boise: Idaho State Historical Society, 1978), 123–4.

** Wood’s unpublished poem “Ballad of the Burials” and passages published in The Poet in the Desert arise from this burial detail at White Bird Canyon. The soldiers’ naked bodies had lain unburied for ten days.

†† Wood records army misperception here. Citing Lucullus V. McWhorter, Hear Me, My Chiefs: Nez Perce Legend and History (Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton Printers, 1952), 256–9, Alvin Josephy states the prevailing view: “Despite stories that circulated to the contrary, none of the bodies … were discovered to have been mutilated.” Josephy, Nez Perce Indians, 531.

‡‡ Jerome Greene explains that “During the movement of Howard’s forces to and below the Salmon River, two inadvertent army shootings occurred that, because of the limited information available about them, have caused considerable confusion. The first was the accidental wounding of Private Henry Reed, Company E, First Cavalry…. Reed was mistakenly shot in the shoulder by an infantry picket [unidentified] and was taken to the post hospital at Fort Lapwai, where he was recuperating as of July 30, 1877.” Greene, “Appendix B, Two Army Shootings at the Salmon River, June 30 and July 7, 1877,” unpublished manuscript, 702–10; Greene, Nez Perce Summer, 391n1.

* The fleeing non-treaty bands — over six hundred men, women, children and around fifteen hundred horses — had crossed the Salmon on June 19. The gunfire Wood reports here came from rearguard scouts who “rode out from the canyons and from behind buttes and came charging down the slope. They pulled up opposite the soldiers…. Some of the soldiers began shooting, and the Indians fired back. None of the bullets found a mark, and a few moments later, when the Nez Perces saw Howard’s artillerymen coming down the bluff with the howitzer, they broke off the fight” and rejoined the main non-treaty camp in the mountains. Josephy, Nez Perce Indians, 532.

† Robert Hamburger uses this phrase to title his chapter on Wood’s Nez Perce War experience (Two Rooms, 41–58). Coming immediately after his recent traumatic burying of fellow soldiers at White Bird, it seems doubtful that Wood “hurried exuberantly” to the war or that he felt “mounting anticipation at the prospect of seeing his first combat,” as Hamburger claims (Two Rooms, 39). Wood’s phrase may be better understood as reactionary bravado rather than bellicose passion.

‡ General Howard’s campsite a “mile or two above the mouth of White Bird Creek” was named for 1st Lt. Edward Theller, whose body Wood and other soldiers had found and buried earlier that day. Brown, Flight of the Nez Perce, 160.

§ At spring flood stage, the river created a formidable obstacle to Howard’s pursuit. Securing three boats, “a ‘practical ferryman’ attempted to rig a rope ferry.” Brown, Flight of the Nez Perce, 163.

** Wood omits many complications: inadequate pulley, improvised shackles, breaking rope, spliced rope, exhausting rowing. This three-day delay was one reason the Nez Perces would eventually name General Howard “General Day After Tomorrow.” During these three days, Wood completed a pen-and-ink sketch of the scene: “Troops Crossing the Salmon River,” C.E.S. Wood Collection, WD Box 293 (2), Huntington Library. About nine by twelve inches, the drawing is currently Wood’s only extant and signed original from 1877 and the only depiction of this activity. This drawing also suggests Wood carried or obtained pad, pencils, ink, and pens.

†† Rains is 2nd Lt. Sevier M. Rains, probably Wood’s contemporary at West Point. Wood graduated in 1874 and Rains in 1876. Four years after the war, General Howard described Rains as “prompt, loyal, able, without fear, and without reproach.” Oliver Otis Howard, Nez Perce Joseph (Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1881), 151.

‡‡ 1st Lt. Melville C. Wilkinson, Third Infantry, an artilleryman serving as an aide-de-camp to General Howard; Maj. Edwin C. Mason, Twenty-first Infantry, stationed at Fort Vancouver and General Howard’s chief of staff “supervising the placement of troops.” Greene, Nez Perce Summer, 81. For Mason’s letters from this conflict, see Stanley R. Davison, “A Century Ago: The Tortuous Pursuit,” Montana, the Magazine of Western History 27:4 (1977): 3–29.

§§ These mountains are now commonly demonized as “The Seven Devils” or “Seven Devil Range.”

*** This place-name — apparently Wood’s unique, non-military appellation — seems to have been used only by Wood in this diary and in the caption, “Dead Mule Trail, Idaho — From a Sketch by an Army Officer,” for a drawing published on the cover of Harpers, September 20, 1877. Brown cites this entry and uses Wood’s term, “Camp Misery” (Flight of the Nez Perce, 170).

* Referred to as “Brown’s Mountain” or “Camp Howard Ridge.” Cheryl Wilfong, Following the Nez Perce Trail (Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 1990), 100. A Portland journalist adds, “The place of our camp was extremely cold, the entire command being overcoated and huddled around immense pine wood camp fires during our entire stay.” Thomas Sutherland, Portland Daily Standard, July 16, 1877.

† Two drawings — both associated with Wood — depict the army’s wet, muddy, ten-mile uphill climb out of Deer Creek and the death of four pack mules. Wood’s sketch was likely revised for heroic effect by a Harpers staff artist before it was published on the cover of Harpers and widely reprinted. Recent expert analysis concluded that this cover drawing is not characteristic of Wood’s art. Henry Sayre, interview by author, Eastern Oregon University, May 19, 2002. For a postwar sketch captioned “On Trail Near Salmon River” by Wood’s fellow aide-de-camp Lt. Guy Howard, see Richard Engeman, “Grace Howard Gray Scrapbook,” OHS Spectator 3 (2000): 5.

‡ “On the Fourth of July … we reached a campground in a pine forest which General Howard named after Lieutenant Rains, who was killed while performing perilous scout duty in the neighborhood of Camas Prairie.” Sutherland, Portland Daily Standard, July 16, 1877.

§ Rains and his scouting party of ten soldiers were killed on July 3 at Cottonwood. The fleeing “Nez Perces were about to launch a surprise attack against the main soldier body, when they … sight[ed] the smaller troop riding out from the command[, so] they pursued the scouting party … and eventually all were dispatched” by Strong Eagle, Yellow Wolf, Two Moons, Five Wounds, Rainbow, and other Nez Perce warriors. Merrill D. Beal, I Will Fight No More Forever (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1963), 68; McWhorter, Hear Me, 282–6.

** Lt. Joseph W. Duncan and Lt. Francis E. Eltonhead, both Twenty-first Infantry, stationed at Fort Walla Walla.

†† “This crossing, at the mouth of Billy Creek, had once been the home of the Nez Perce Indian known as Salmon River Billy. His son, Luke Billy, now lived there in a cabin. A ferry had also existed at the site during the gold rush, and a good trail still led from the crossing toward Craig Mountain and the main road between Lewiston and Camas Prairie. Hence the name of the place, which was also called Craig’s Ferry.” Josephy, Nez Perce Indians, 535n10. Attempting to avoid violence, the fleeing non-treaty bands and their livestock had crossed here on July 2 — three days earlier.

‡‡ Refers to the army’s dismantling of Luke Billy’s cabin to build a raft for crossing the Salmon. “Its timbers were a foot thick and thirty or forty feet long. Twenty-three years after the war, Luke Billy was still trying to collect from the government for its loss.” Bill Gulick, Chief Joseph Country (Caldwell: Caxtons, 1981), 212.

§§ Possible reference to an unidentified action by Lt. Peter Leary, Howard’s “purchasing agent for commissary supplies.” Brown, Flight of the Nez Perce, 303.

*** James Ruben, a bilingual, Christianized treaty Nez Perce, was “the son of old Ruben, who had operated a ferry and grown wealthy during the gold rush, and of Joseph’s sister.” An interpreter and messenger prior to the conflict, he became a scout, adviser, and interpreter for General Howard. On this day at Craig’s Ferry, Ruben demonstrated how to cross the Salmon River with his horse — a feat Howard’s troops could not accomplish. Josephy, Nez Perce Indians, 486; Howard, Nez Perce Joseph, 150.

††† A letter by Wood’s commanding officer describes the situation: “The company along with Lt. Woods [sic], three Indian scouts and myself have been on picket duty last night on the side of the mountain overlooking the vicious Salmon River…. Our duty is to see that no Indians steal on us or surprise the camp or command in a scalping bee while in the act of preparing our crossing of the river.” Robert W. Pollock, Grandfather, Chief Joseph, and Psychodynamics (Caldwell: Caxton Printers, 1964), 57–8.

‡‡‡ Wood records the nickname — alluding to Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe— given to Lt. Harrison Otis after his log raft “and the lariat ropes of the cavalry — all went down the river three or four miles. When the impromptu sailors returned, the shavetail [newly commissioned West Point officer] was dubbed, quite appropriately, ‘Crusoe Otis.'” Brown, Flight of the Nez Perce, 185.

§§§ According to a published postwar “Court of Inquiry,” Wood refers here to the second “friendly fire” incident — a fatal shooting that occurred the night of July 7. The soldier killed was Pvt. Michael Cassidy, Battery D, Fourth Artillery. That night, Cassidy had been posted as a camp guard and “wrapped himself in a blanket,” which looked like “the ordinary costume of the hostile Indians.” Cassidy “went outside the camp limits, and … while returning to the camp he attracted Lieutenant [George H.] Paddock’s notice, excited his suspicions by the stealthy and unusual manner of his approach, and that Lieutenant Paddock fired upon him under the impression that he was an Indian, with the result of killing Private Cassidy.” Paddock was found to have “acted in good faith and that his action was warranted under the circumstances.” General Orders No. 8, Headquarters Department of the Columbia, Portland, Oregon, February 9, 1878.

Wood moved his additional reflection on Cassidy’s death from this 1877 Nez Perce War diary to an 1878 “literary notebook,” — which he completed after the 1878 Bannock conflict. To show some of his revising, I have added — in italics — part of his July 9, 1878, entry to this 1877 entry. For the complete and previously unidentified revision, see C.E.S. Wood, “Private Journal, 1878” Oregon Historical Quarterly 70:1 (March 1969): 26–7.

**** “[We] have just had an Indian scare. A man cam [sic] doubling down the trail crying The Indians are coming! The Indians are coming! I [illegible] this into [illegible] and commenced giving orders — in a few moments it was discovered to be a false alarm and with a hearty laugh everybody settled down again —” Maj. Edwin Mason to his wife, July 5, 1877, pp. 3–4, Mason Correspondence, Microfilm 80, Montana Historical Society, Helena, Montana.

* The march back to White Bird Crossing from Billy Craig Crossing is one of the most avoided accounts in army narratives. General Howard abstracted all three days into one (Nez Perce Joseph, 155) and Thomas Sutherland, a Portland journalist and one of General Howard’s postwar apologists, did much the same. Sutherland also rebutted Howard’s critics by rationalizing the army’s inability to cross the Salmon as a tactical move: “They [the Nez Perce] had to be driven out [of the mountains] and they were.” Thomas Sutherland, Howard’s Campaign against the Nez Perce Indians, 1877 (Portland: A.G. Walling, 1878), 4.

† Passing through Grangeville again, Wood has now marched an oval of around ninety miles. Martha Crooks was the fifty-five-year-old wife of “J. W. Crooks, cattle king and Grangeville promoter” and mother of eight children. McDermott, Forlorn Hope, 38–75; 1870 Census, Nez Perce County, Idaho.

‡ Wood accurately describes the terrain where the semicircular battle line formed that afternoon. About 100 non-treaty warriors and 350 army troops — cavalry, infantry, and artillery — fought through the hot afternoon without either side gaining decisive advantage. Pvt. David McNally, Company E, Twenty-first Infantry, was one of eight soldiers killed; 2nd Lt. Charles A. Williams, Company C, Twenty-first Infantry, and Capt. Eugene A. Bancroft, Company A, Fourth Artillery, were two of twenty soldiers wounded. No exact number of Nez Perce casualties for this day is known. Greene, Nez Perce Summer, 77–88, 361–2.

§ During the second day of the battle, the non-treaty warriors attacked and retreated intermittently until artillerymen under Capt. Marcus J. Miller charged “double time across the plateau straight toward the warriors in the ravine.” Cavalry and infantry — including Wood — followed Miller’s charge, and the warriors retreated on horseback to the South Fork of the Clearwater, swam the river, and “raced their ponies up Cottonwood Creek and into the hills after their families.” Known Nez Perce casualties for both July 11 and 12 were four warriors killed and six wounded. Greene, Nez Perce Summer, 88–96.

** Capt. James Jackson, Company B, First Cavalry, who was escorting a “pack train of 120 mules and twenty Nez Perce scouts and Captain Birney B. Keeler, General McDowell’s aide-de-camp” from Fort Lapwai. Brown, Flight of the Nez Perce, 193.

†† Wood may have sketched four different events of this battle. On August 3, 1877, these four sketches, General Howard’s studio portrait, and six other drawings made up the entire front page of the New York Daily Graphic. For Wood’s published account of this two-day “Battle of the Clearwater,” see “Chief Joseph, The Nez Perce,” Century Magazine 28 (1884): 135–42.

‡‡ Writing to an Idaho historian forty some years after the war, Wood described the plundering of the Nez Perce camp: “There were valuable buffalo-robes and beaded garments lying about in the teepees and meat cooking at the fire. I, myself, picked up a buffalo-horn drinking-cup hanging on a stick at the door of a teepee as we ran through the camp.” Wood to C.J. Brosnan, January, 7, 1918, Special Collections and Archives, University of Idaho Library, Moscow. After the war, he had that buffalo horn mounted in silver at Tiffany’s with this inscription: “Taken from Chief Joseph’s camp at the Battle of the Clear Water, July 13, 1877, by Lieut. C.E.S. Wood.” Mary Rose, C.E.S. Wood and Chief Joseph … (Vancouver, Wash.: Celebrate Freedom Project, 1991–92), 14; see also Erskine Wood, Life of Charles Erskine Scott Wood (Vancouver, Wash.: Rose Wind Press, 1978), 14.

§§ Wood’s unpublished poem “Ballad of the Flight across the Salmon River” memorializes Nez Perce skills at river crossing. “Ballads of the Nez Perce War,” WD Box 8 (16), Wood Collection.

*** Deciding to escape over Lolo Pass to Montana, the fleeing non-treaty bands were passing through the Indian agency and settlement when the soldiers attacked them again. After exchanging long-distance and mostly ineffectual gunfire across the river, both forces withdrew. Camp Macbeth was named by General Howard for Presbyterian missionary Kate Macbeth, who fled to Lapwai at the outbreak of hostilities. [Author unknown], Journal of Expedition against Hostile Nez Perce Indians, from Lewiston, I.T. to Henry’s Lake, I.T., July 13, 1877, WD Box 26 (2), Wood Collection [hereafter Adjutant Journal].

* Kulkulsuitim, a messenger from Joseph, was talking with General Howard and Major Mason about terms of surrender near the river when shots were fired at the officers. The parley ended. Joseph never appeared. Later, Howard imagined that this meeting was actually “a ruse designed to further impede the army while allowing the tribesmen time to move their noncombatants and livestock toward Lolo trail.” Greene, Nez Perce Summer, 99–100.

† Wood echoes official diction here in using “prisoners” to name Nez Perce noncombatants caught in “one of the most unjust episodes of the Nez Perce War.” Lucullus McWhorter, Yellow Wolf (Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton Printers, 1940), 310. “Renown for their law-abiding and peaceful proclivities,” Red Heart’s band of thirty-five noncombatants — just returning from buffalo hunting in Montana — were designated “hostile” when they voluntarily surrendered, so General Howard had the group arrested as “prisoners of war.” Among these noncombatants were Chief Red Heart and Red Heart, Jr., who were present when Captain Whipple and Companies E and L, First Cavalry, and twenty volunteers attacked — without provocation — Looking Glass’s camp on Sunday morning, July 1. Josephy, Nez Perce Indians, 554–5; McWhorter, Yellow Wolf, 310–12; Brown, Flight of the Nez Perce, 204–5; McWhorter, Hear Me, 331–4; Greene, Nez Perce Summer, 100, 408–9.

‡ Wood quotes his translator’s Chinook jargon, which he — sometime later — translated to English in his diary.

§ This pun exemplifies Wood’s sense of humor, a rare trait in 1877 army diaries.

** “Day was spent in forming commission which met 1 PM & adjourned for want of witnesses. Fenn & Brown of Mt. Idaho asked for as complete a list of witnesses as possible in order to identify Indian murders.” Adjutant Journal, July 17, 1877. Since none of the “prisoners” were even present in Idaho at the outbreak of war, Captain Throckmorton had clearly convened a kangaroo court. Such an obvious injustice to known noncombatants would cause Wood, General Howard, and many future writers (Bruce Hampton, Merrill Beal, Chester Fee, Thomas Sutherland, and David Lavender) to distort, minimize, or omit this event when writing about the war.

†† Wood documents his appointment as officer of the day, responsible for “the guard, prisoners, and police of the post or camp” (Websters Revised Unabridged, 1998). This night would be Wood’s first extensive personal contact with individual non-treaty Nez Perces, a people he would admire, defend, memorialize, and write about for the rest of his life.

‡‡ Hamburger transcribes this as ” His strange wisdom.” Hamburger, Two Rooms, 48.

§§ A settler present the morning of the eighteenth described the river crossing: “The entire day was spent in recrossing. Ten men were taken over at a time in a boat (the one I had built six weeks before.)” Francis M. Redfield, “Reminiscences of Francis M. Redfield, Chief Joseph’s War,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly 27 (1936): 66–77. Camas Prairie “was a favorite gathering spot for the Nez Perces,… one of the finest camas fields in the area.” Nez Perce Country (Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, 1983), 196.

*** The warrior Wood interviewed and probably sketched was not Eagle from the Light (Tipyahlanah Ka-ou-pu), a non-treaty Nez Perce chief “who even before the outbreak of the war had become disgusted with conditions in Idaho and had settled down with Flathead friends” in western Montana. Josephy, Nez Perce Indians, 573. More likely, Wood interviewed Temme Ilppilp, or Red Heart, Jr., one of Chief Red Heart’s four sons. McWhorter, Hear Me, 333; Greene, Nez Perce Summer, 372.

†††Cudi is a legal loan word referring to a judge or juror. See Oxford Latin Dictionary; Oxford English Dictionary. Laura Mosher and Paul Nergelovic, United States Military Academy Library, email to author, April 1, 2004.

‡‡‡ Here, Wood ironically quotes John 8:11 (King James Bible), in which Jesus refuses to condemn an adulteress, then admonishes her — with these words — to change her life. After the “[military] commission could not make a finding in regard to the Indian prisoners,” these innocent noncombatants — men, women, and children — were marched sixty miles on foot through heat and dust to Fort Lapwai, transported by steamer to Fort Vancouver, then imprisoned for nine months. Brown, Flight of the Nez Perce, 205; Greene, Nez Perce Summer, 100, 408–9n15; McWhorter, Hear Me, 331–2.

§§§ “Infantry making night march encamped sixteen miles out.” Adjutant Journal, July 19, 1877. Apparently, Wood’s company elected to march partway to Cold Spring the night of July 18, then bivouac on Camas Prairie rather than bake all the next day in the heat, which can reach over a hundred degrees. “No shoes” may reflect the infantry’s notoriously inadequate footwear. See Douglas C. McChristian, The U.S. Army in the West 1870–1880 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995). In contrast, “Howard … marched his [mounted?] command 35 miles, to Cold Spring, in one day …” (Sutherland, Howard’s Campaign, 13). Hamburger attributes this night march to Red Heart’s band (Two Rooms, 48).

**** Intending to intercept the fleeing non-treaty bands in the Bitterroot Valley south of Missoula, General Howard had started his troops for Montana, but before he reached Cold Spring, he learned that the non-treaty warriors had attacked the treaty Indians who had betrayed them, stolen their horses and mules, and burned some property. Greene, Nez Perce Summer, 102–3. Wood’s infantry company probably camped at a well known Nez Perce site on Cold Springs Creek about halfway between the Kamiah area and the Lapwai Valley. Diana Mallickan, email to author, March 14, 2004.

†††† Refers to Camas Prairie west of Kamiah. Wood’s Twenty-first Infantry company probably marched around nineteen miles in full sun to Cold Spring.

* Sutherland adds: “that night went into camp on the grassy table lands, where there was no wood for fires or for tent poles and the little water … was soon worked into such a mush of mud by the pack mules and cavalry horses that it was impossible to use it…. This camp I believe, was named in honor of Capt. M. C. Wilkinson, of Portland.” Portland Daily Standard, August 1, 1877.

† Capt. Charles B. Throckmorton, Fourth Artillery; what the scare refers to is not known.

‡ Allusion to the English Romantic writer Thomas De Quincy (1785–1859) and his famous historical essay, Flight of a Tartar Tribe. Wood may well have read the 1854 reprint of De Quincey’s grandiloquent amalgam of history and fiction while a cadet at the United States Military Academy, where he “did an unusual amount of extracurricular reading … [in] works by Shakespeare, Spenser, Milton, and Sir Walter Scott.” Edwin Bingham and Tim Barnes, eds., Wood Works (Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 1997), 5. De Quincey narrates the 1771 Torgote Tartars’ revolt against Czarist Russia. Relentlessly pursued and killed by Russian troops, seventy thousand Tartar families with their livestock fled thousands of miles over eight months — from the Volga region to the western Chinese province of Ili — until they were finally “welcomed [and protected] by the Chinese authorities.” While the analogy between the Nez Perces and the Tartar families is incomplete — the Tartars chose to flee — this allusion shows Wood’s developing literary repertoire and offers a model for his own later and widely misunderstood amalgam of fact and fiction about the Nez Perce conflict. Thomas De Quincy, Flight of a Tartar Tribe, ed. Milton Haight Turk (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1897), 2.

§ After praising the trout fishing in Lawyer Creek, Sutherland goes on to explain, “This beautiful camping ground was named after Dr. [C. T.] Alexander, chief of our medical corps, a gentleman of much intelligence and a rare fund of humor which he in vain tries to hide behind an effort to appear misanthropical.” Portland Daily Standard, August 1, 1877.

** Lawyer Creek is named for Hallalhotsoot, or James Lawyer, a friend of the missionaries and head chief of the treaty Nez Perces. Misled by white officials, Lawyer arrogated to himself “the right and obligation to speak for all the bands and to sign away all the lands of Joseph, White Bird, and every other Nez Perce … who lived outside the [Idaho] reservation. Lawyer had neither objected to that act nor explained that he did not possess the right to do what he had done…. [To] those who were hurt by him or lost their lands as result of his action, he is still considered a man who betrayed the Nez Perces.” Josephy, Nez Perce Country, 106–12.

†† Capt. Harry C. Cushing, Fourth Artillery, stationed at San Francisco, was “the senior officer … whom Howard was to regard as a capable officer in the future and … Second Lieutenant Guy Howard, the general’s oldest son who was soon made an aide-de-camp.” Brown, Flight of the Nez Perce, 211.

‡‡ Captain Pollock notes, “Two of the members of his [General Howard’s] staff are sick, Captain Wilkinson and Lieutenant Fletcher, so Lt. Wood is temporarily on the staff. The Lieutenant claims that the pure copper band he wears on the left wrist wards away sickness and bad humors.” Pollock, Grandfather, 7.

§§ The camp was named after Col. Alfred Sully, Wood’s commanding officer, Twenty-first Infantry, at Fort Vancouver.

*** “[Henry] Croasdaile is an ex-officer of the British navy, who owns two large sheep farms here, the houses on each of which were destroyed by the Indians. He is a very pleasant and well educated gentleman, clinging to all of his old English customs even to having a well stocked wine cellar.” Sutherland, Portland Daily Standard, August 11, 1877. The Nez Perces also may have taken “unusual rifles” and “.35 caliber exploding cartridges” when raiding Croasdaile’s ranch, weapons and munitions that they used later in the conflict. Brown, Flight of the Nez Perce, 412–13.

Arthur Chapman was a controversial cross-cultural figure. By this date his house, barn, and outbuildings had been burned by non-treaty warriors and his horse herd, cattle, chickens, and pigs killed or driven off. He had settled on the Nez Perce Reservation at Cottonwood Creek in 1861. There, he married Mollie (1841–1896), a relative of Chief Eagle of the Light, and Yellow Wolf explains that “he and my uncle, Old Yellow Wolf, had lived in the same house, just as brothers” (McWhorter, Yellow Wolf, 55.) Father, husband, stockbreeder, trader, Chapman fought against the non-treaty bands, then became General Howard’s scout and interpreter throughout the army’s pursuit. Wood published his sketch of Chapman — “A Scout” — in the New York Daily Graphic on August 3, 1877. At and after the Nez Perce surrender on October 5, 1877, Chapman translated for Joseph, including two interviews with Wood, then accompanied the surrendered Nez Perces to Fort Leavenworth. In 1879, he translated Joseph’s famous speech in Washington, D.C., later published in the North American Review as “An Indian’s View of Indian Affairs,” a text that Chapman declared was “nothing more like his [Joseph’s] statement than day is like dark” because the text had been extensively revised by A.B. Meacham and others (Chapman to Howard, February 18, 1880, Bowdoin College Archives, Brunswick, Maine). See also Depredation Claim, Arthur J. [sic] Chapman, Department of Interior, 12/17/86, Bk 2, No. 220; Arthur I Chapman, Report of the Secretary of War. Vol. 1 (Washington, D.C. 1891), 191–4; Pension Claim of Arthur I. [sic] Chapman, 1902, Biographical Files, OHS Research Library; Katherine James, email messages to author, 2001–2002.

General Howard needed help. While in Lewiston the weekend of July 21–22, Howard had read in national newspapers that “The [President’s] Cabinet yesterday secretly but seriously considered the propriety of displacing Howard and putting [General ] Crook in his place. Howard … has made such a sad mess of the campaign …,” that it was “quite possible that he will be removed today.”[33] Though the general believed he had just defeated the non-treaty Nez Perces on July 11 and 12, he seemed to be losing the fight for favorable opinion in the eastern newspapers — his home front. To defend himself, to execute his orders, and to create his record, the general needed literate, articulate, intelligent staff officers, but he had sent his chief aide-de-camp, Lt. Melville C. Wilkinson, to recover his health and recruit Indian scouts among the pacified peoples at Warm Springs.[34] Howard could not help himself. He had lost his right arm in the Civil War and could write only slowly and awkwardly with his left hand.[35] He needed someone who could write legibly, fluently, rapidly, intelligently. Riding from Lewiston to Lawyer Canyon, he realized the solution was obvious: promote his friend Lieutenant Wood to headquarters.

Lieutenant Wood’s undifferentiated literary ability could now help the general in three prose-intensive personae. As the new aide-de-camp, he became a secretary who “sat up half the night to write orders and reports by the light of a candle stuck in half of a raw potato.”[36] He composed and copied field orders, messages, and telegrams. As the new acting adjutant general, Lieutenant Wood became a chronicler responsible for General Howard’s official daily log — a writing task he likely assumed from his predecessor, Lieutenant Wilkinson. Wood apparently delegated this second role. On two occasions after the war, he stated that he “turned over the duty of keeping a journal to a sergeant attached to headquarters who wrote an excellent hand.”[37]

While both of those new roles extended Howard’s efficacy, authority, and influence, they implicitly and tacitly generated Wood’s third and most significant new persona, “Howard’s Advocate,” an imaginative press officer, writer, and artist, who — anonymously or publicly, with or without permission, regardless of audience or occasion, capable of mixing fact and fiction — would speak, write, and draw to defend General Howard, rouse his troops, refute his critics, defend his record, and advance his cause. Lieutenant Wood leaked his first two anonymous press releases to the Daily Graphic in New York, where they appeared as front-page montages on August 3 and August 16. Both montages — attributed to “an officer of General Howard’s staff” — were accompanied by text favorable to Howard, and the first included a Portland studio portrait. On August 27, the same illustrated paper published Wood’s Camas Meadow article — signed with his initial — and on September 8, his anonymous Camas Meadow drawing.[38] In all this writing and drawing, Wood as Howard’s Advocate omits or abstracts all evidence of army incompetence, human foibles, and humane details. On August 29, 1877, he composed his first signed military text, “General Field Order No. 6,” an extended defense of Howard and his exhausted troops to which Howard ironically added only two words — “Under God.”[39] This rhetorically skilled appeal to pathos would later be widely praised, circulated, and published by army brass. Barraged by press accounts that erased or insulted General Howard after Chief Joseph’s surrender on October 5, Howard’s Advocate continued his counterattack: first, by anonymously leaking his poetic “Chief Joseph Surrender Speech” — which begins “Tell General Howard I know his heart” — to newspapers; then by publishing anonymous articles defending Howard in Chicago, New York, and Portland; then by acting as the general’s secret envoy to President Hayes; and finally by co-authoring with Howard the heavily slanted post-war army narrative of the campaign.[40] Promotion to aide-de-camp ended Erskine’s personal, introspective diary on July 22, 1877, but Lieutenant Wood as Howard’s Advocate would be created that day and continue until well after Howard’s death in 1909. Eventually, Wood became explicitly critical of army conduct, published his disagreements with General Howard, and described his military service this way: “in my youth, I, stupid, fought / wearing the livery of that thing the State / Whose might is by the richest bought / a bully which protects the great.” Once — late in his life and off the official record — he referred to Howard as “my ignorant superior officer.”[41]

As suggested by his July 17 and 18 diary entries, however, Erskine simultaneously became a “Nez Perce Advocate.” Admiring Nez Perce courage and skill and identifying with Nez Perce oppression, Erskine rejected military violence and defended the non-treaty bands. His first two montages for the Daily Graphic presented — for perhaps the first time in the national press — authentic images of Nez Perce clothing, villages, individuals, horses, and boats, and he accurately depicted some of the Nez Perce home landscape. In texts for the Daily Graphic, Erskine clearly praised the Nez Perces, “who are, mentally, as well as physically, by all odds the best developed and most advanced of all the aborigines in our Western country.” After the surrender on October 5, he interviewed Chief Joseph, made drawings of Joseph and his infant daughter, sketched other surrendering Nez Perces, and published a third montage — all Nez Perce individuals — in New York on November 3.[42] As symbols of their developing friendship, he and Chief Joseph traded saddles.

Though he wrote the first sentence of his “Chief Joseph Surrender Speech” as Howard’s Advocate, as Nez Perce Advocate he synthesized the remaining sixteen sentences for Joseph from Nez Perce facts (interviews with Joseph), translations (by Arthur Chapman), and his own observations and fictions (text, syntax, form, context). With this synthesis, he hoped to “redeem their [Nez Perce] suffering and the injustice of their situation through the grace and strength of impassioned language.”[43] Although neither Joseph nor anyone else present on October 5 would ever confirm that they heard Erskine’s “Chief Joseph Surrender Speech” on October 5, 1877, he would repeatedly publish, recite, and revise his subversive and poetic oration — disguised as artifact — until that disguised heroic sonnet became the most famous, controversial, and intercultural text in nineteenth-century western American literature. Masked as Howard’s Advocate, drawing and writing without regard to race, Erskine as Nez Perce Advocate had, by the end of 1877, become the “one officer [who] rejected the fundamental assumption of American civilization’s superiority.”[44] That transformation begins in this diary.

In publishing his prose after 1877, Erskine probably considered this diary with great ambivalence. Burial of dead friends at White Bird, two “friendly fire” killings, failure to cross the Salmon, a week of absurd marching, jailing Red Heart’s innocents, serving as judge on a kangaroo court — these may have been embarrassing weeks that Wood preferred to abstract, background, or delete. Except for narrating his Battle of the Clearwater experience in an 1884 article, “Chief Joseph, The Nez Perce,” Wood did not publish any significant prose about his five weeks as an infantry soldier during the rest of his career. Instead, he focused repeatedly on the last two months of the conflict — especially the surrender on October 5 at Bear’s Paw. If he told the whole truth implicit in this diary, those first five weeks at war might seem an absurd misadventure of the ridiculous, racist, incompetent, unjust, and ignorant.

In contrast to that evasive record in his published prose, Wood did use both events and language from this diary as a source for his published poetry. In composing and revising The Poet in the Desert, the hundred-page dramatic poem for which he “wanted to be remembered,” he used the diary repeatedly.[45] In the 1915 edition, for instance, he quoted his June 21 diary phrase “I was a soldier and have gone out to kill and be killed.”[46] In that same edition, he recalled his June 27 entry: “I have stood with the soldiers, / Face to face with the great Mother, / And have wrapped the dead in their blankets,/ For the long repose.”[47] Revising The Poet in the Desert in 1918, Wood again used that June 21 phrase but became more explicitly anti-military: “I was a soldier, and, at command, / Had gone out to kill and be killed. / This was not majestic.”[48] In 1918, he also added sixty-three lines alluding to his July 17 entry, lines praising his Native American “brown brothers / of the wilderness / … [who] instructed my civilization …” and lamenting their tragedy. To protest all war, he also universalized his June 27 entry:

I have seen War.
I have heard it.
I have smelled it.
Even now I am waked from dreams
By the stink of bodies
Three days dead under the sun.
Maggots filled their mouths.
Flies crawled over their eyeballs,
Buzzing up angrily as we threw
Manhood into the pit of putrefaction.
Weeds will grow upon the lips of lovers
And grass flourish out of the hearts of fathers,
But the father and lover Will return no more.[49]

In the 1929 revision, he added 178 new lines describing, praising, and idealizing Native American cultures in general and the Nez Perce implicitly.[50]

In Wood’s unpublished work — drawings, poetry, and letters — the archival record suggests this diary’s further significance. In his papers, Wood saved but never published or spoke about his drawing of the Salmon River crossing at White Bird — days that clearly suggested army incompetence. Sometime after leaving the army in 1884, Wood may have returned to this diary when composing a long narrative poem about the Wallowa band leaders and when drafting a Nez Perce War ballad sequence of six poems and one fragment. The latter, “Ballad of the Cottonwood Ranch,” is grounded in his June 27 entry:

Is it better to die all untarnished
Tho’ life has but opened her gates
Or live and grow fat like a friar
With “coward” writ over your face?
We lay along the mountain side;
The Salmon River shot below
The sparks flew upward like men’s souls
The rocks danced in the fiery glow.
“Swing low, sweet chariot,” sang we all
The laughing youngsters stretched about —
And “Benny Havens,” — many a song
of love and war — and many a shout[51]

Wood probably abandoned this ballad sequence — as well as the Wallowa band poem — because the four longest ballads dramatizing Nez Perce individuals came from fantasy, reading, and hearsay. The unpublished poems grounded in his diary, such as “Ballad of the Burials,” remain more significant. Confronted with mortality that he registered on June 27 as private horror and shock, this unpublished postwar elegy became an honorific memorial for the soldiers — and those who buried them — in Whitebird Canyon:

Ballad of the Burials

This was a man and a soldier —
But now so still it lies
With the buzzards winging o’er it
In its mouth the buzzing flies.

The sun shone hot, the infantry
Did sweat beneath their soldier packs
They sucked their canteens selfishly
They threw their blankets in their tracks.

Their faces stare into the sun
The polished flies buzz from their lips.
They lie so still, they shine so white
From boots and shirt and clothing stripped.

The spot is black where splashed their brains
Their bellies slashed with cruel art
And maggots all asquirm do crawl
Where once there lived a soldier’s heart.

Hot glared the rocks. The flies swarmed up.
The buzzards marked the hidden spot
Where hopeless all, but fighting grim,
A man at bay had found his lot.

Jerome, the jester, knelt at ease
Behind a rock, still taking sight
But fell asleep till judgment day
When suddenly there fell the night.

And Blacksmith Joe, far up the cliff
Where he had climbed in desp’rate quest
Lay on the rocks, a lump of white
The buzzards hacked his splendid breast. The sun glared down as he would melt
The barren rocks. He burnt the grass.
The dusty column crawled its way
Toward the White Bird Canon pass.

And all was still where devil din
Of shot and whoop and groan and cry
Had waked the cliffs. But now two days
The dead beneath the sun do lie.

It was a field of dread and doom
Sown thick with what had once been men
Who spoke to us and were our friends
Now white like mushrooms through this glen.

Here stretched brave Theller on the rocks
Where to the last he stood at bay
And here a-sprawl with ghastly throats
Both Sergeant Jones and Piper lay.

And here the world came to an end
for drunken Fritz. ‘Twas his last spree.
And here we swore the oath of blood
To send their souls much company.

The magpies hop and flutter near.
The little brook goes splashing on.
The sunflowers smile. The blessed air
Is sick with stench of carrion.

And sick the comrades’ stomachs are
Who ply the pick and dig the holes
And down, with roar of angry flies
The dead fall in — God rest their souls!

And still, in midnight dreams, I see
The hundred corpses’ blackened face.
I smell the smell, and wake for dread.
— It was a very charnel place![52]

In another unpublished poem from that postwar sequence, he continues as Nez Perce Advocate by expressing his admiration for the bands’ skill in crossing rivers — a feat he witnessed and noted in his July 13 diary entry.

Ballad of the Flight across the Salmon River

The river runs foaming and restless
And hurrying down to the sea
Though never a drop returning
It flows eternally.

Three thousand horses fill the place
A neighing, tossing, trampling throng.
Half naked boys on barebacked steeds
With shrilling screams do urge them on.

The packs are lashed, no pause is made
To drive that wild herd to the brim
of Salmon River. Then with shouts
Both men and boys forced them to swim.

The leaders plunge and, snorting, swim
And so, with many a cough and toss,
The river is flecked black with heads
Through eddies swift the herd doth cross. The saffron east pales into light
The dark squaws bind both bag and bale.
A noise like thunder nearer sweeps
And, tossing head and mane and tail,

The teepees and the parfleche bags
The bales and litter of the tribe
Are tied to manes and tails, or dry
Upon frail rafts of driftwood ride.

The babies on their mothers’ backs,
The children clutch the horses’ manes
And so they flit like passing birds;
Not any living thing remains.

Down stream and swiftly all are borne
All straining for the other bank;
The panting horses scramble out
And dripping stand with shining flanks.

As rides the last from out the flood
The first, far on the mountain, seem
Like flies; then buzzards from the blue
Drop down toward the silent stream.[53]

Among Wood’s many unpublished letters, his 1918 response to an Idaho historian constitutes his only account of the Nez Perce conflict to include events from the first five weeks. Here, he defends the army’s river crossing recorded in his entries for June 29–July 1 and sketched but never published:

You say we were halted three days at the Salmon River…. We had to cross a mountain torrent in a gorge not as the Indians did, by plunging in with their ponies and little light baggage, but with infantrymen and cavalrymen and a mountain-howitzer and ammunition and rations and pack mules. We got a rope across, by swimming with horses, and then rigged boats of willows, covered with canvas, and I think to cross an army under such conditions, very many of whose men could not even swim, was very creditable even if three days had been taken in the task.[54]

This 1877 diary, as a literary sourcebook to paradoxically use and avoid in his published and unpublished work, is perhaps as complex as Wood’s later life. After approximately six years as General Howard’s aide and advocate, Wood resigned in 1884 to become a Portland lawyer, writer, and civic leader — “probably the most influential cultural figure in turn-of-the century Portland.”[55] In 1884, he also published “Chief Joseph, The Nez Perce,” a highly-critical account of the federal government’s dishonest negotiations with the non-treaty bands, and publicly declaring his role as Nez Perce Advocate, he argued that the non-treaty Nez Perces be returned from deadly exile in Oklahoma.[56] In 1888, three years after the non-treaty survivors returned to the northwest, Wood entertained Joseph at his home in Portland; in 1889, he arranged for the sculptor Olin Warner to cast a bronze medallion of Joseph. In 1892 and 1893, he sent his adolescent son, Erskine, to live summers with Joseph on the Colville Reservation. Basking in his history as Howard’s Advocate, he received the Oregon militia title of colonel. For thirty-four years, he lived in Portland, loved his wife and children, practiced maritime law, and defended conservatives and radicals. He then fell in love with the young poet Sara Bard Field, sold a million-dollar land grant, resigned his law practice, set up trust accounts for his family, and, in 1918 at age sixty-six, moved with Field to California to make a new life together as writers and poets. They both became widely known. In 1927, Wood published Heavenly Discourses, a national bestseller that went through forty or more printings. In 1936, Wood privately confessed that his nationally published, admired, and accepted “Chief Joseph Surrender Speech” was “a literary item” rather than a verbatim transcript — as he had claimed since 1877.[57]

In March 1941, his June 27, 1877, diary entry — “The alarm shot at midnight. One of our own pickets shot by one of our men” — came back to haunt him. Lucullus McWhorter, an amateur historian researching the 1877 conflict, discovered a diary by Private Mayer in which “Lieutenant Wood, 21st Infantry, aide-de-camp” was erroneously named as shooting “Private Reed, Troop E, First Cavalry.” McWhorter sent a copy of Mayer’s accusatory diary entry to Wood and in Hear Me, My Chiefs (1952) published Wood’s denial and explanation, in which Wood himself — sixty-four years after the fact — confused and conflated Reed’s wounding with the July 7 killing of Private Michael Cassidy.[58] Assuming Wood’s guilt and adding more guilt because of Wood’s verbatim claim regarding the “Chief Joseph Surrender Speech,” Mark Brown repeated in Flight of the Nez Perce (1967) McWhorter’s false allegation that Wood had shot a fellow soldier. Brown also added more hearsay.[59] For reasons best known to them, many subsequent historians — until Jerome Greene — have repeated, let stand, or ignored this false allegation. In an unpublished appendix prepared for Nez Perce Summer, 1877, and in recent correspondence, Greene resolved this question:

I don’t think that Lieutenant Wood shot Reed. There would be something in Wood’s ACP File in the National Archives if indeed that happened … It is possible that an enlisted man named Wood did the shooting. Mayer asserts that it was a picket who did it, and that would have been an enlisted man. Mayer’s allusion to Lieutenant Wood, I think, simply confuses the two [June 30 and July 7] shootings.[60]

Neither that false charge nor any of Wood’s writing nor the misstatements of historians ever affected Wood’s lifetime of friendship and respect for the Nez Perce. In fact, Erskine’s example — grounded in his diary entries of July 17 and 18 — began a tradition of intercultural and interracial understanding that continues into the present as Wood family legacy. In October 1991, at the Congressional Medal of Honor Convention in Vancouver, Washington, the Wood family supported and participated in a “Celebrate Freedom” project exhibition titled “C.E.S. Wood and Chief Joseph: Brothers in the American West.” Featuring displays of both traditional Nez Perce and U.S. Army clothing, ornaments, horse gear, weapons, ceremonial objects, daily equipment, and art, the exhibition also included a multimedia program of quotations from C.E.S. Wood’s writings and Chief Joseph’s 1879 speech.[61]

In July 1997, a more extraordinary event occurred in the Wallowa Valley when the C.E.S. Wood family — to fulfill an untransmitted request from Chief Joseph to C.E.S. Wood more than a hundred years earlier — presented an Appaloosa stallion worth twenty-five thousand dollars to Keith Soy Redthunder, the direct descendant of Chief Joseph still living in exile at Nespelem.[62] In a memorial statement, Mary Christina Wood, C.E.S. Wood’s great-granddaughter and a professor of Indian law at the University of Oregon, spoke again of the Wood family’s rejection of militarism:

The 1877 campaign relentlessly pursued by the U.S. Government had pitted Indians and whites against each other in a conflict stained with injustice and coercion, but the relationship between C.E.S. Wood and Chief Joseph after the war was as families engaged in mutual and respectful bond of friendship.[63]

Most recently, the Wood family participated in another public event directly related to Wood’s diary entries of July 17 and 18. On April 22, 2000, a “Reconciliation Ceremony” was held at Fort Vancouver to commemorate “the hardships endured at Fort Vancouver by Chief Red Heart’s band” including the death of an infant boy. Sponsored by the Nez Perce Tribe, the U.S. Army, the City of Vancouver, and the National Park Service, the ceremony was led by tribal elders, soldiers, and Mary Wood. During the ceremony, which attracted more than three hundred people, Professor Wood promised “to always keep the story alive and teach the importance of what happened here.”[64]

This 1877 diary is more than just the early personal writing of an interesting man with a complex personality. Many historians have found Wood’s diary useful because his June 23 entry provides, as Jerome Greene states, “rare contemporary insight into the emotions of soldiers bound for the front during an Indian campaign….”[65] As a literary sourcebook for Wood, the diary proved more paradoxical: it cryptically recorded his awakening — as a Nez Perce Advocate — to racism, oppression, injustice, and militarism, the same forces he had resisted intuitively as a cadet at West Point. Simultaneously, his diary alludes to major personal transformations — his first face-to-face confrontations with war, death, and mortality and his promotion, as Howard’s Advocate, to a position of military and linguistic power. As a survivor of the Nez Perce conflict, he could never forget what he had seen and done. The facts he learned and witnessed generated values, and those values generated rights, truths, insights, discoveries. How to transmit those discoveries without betraying both the Nez Perces and General Howard became a lifelong process, as Sherry Smith has explained: “Time and again throughout his life Wood returned to his Indian war experiences as he developed two themes — injustice and perfidy — that played important roles in his prose and poetry.”[66]

In the end, Erskine chose friendship and respect for Joseph and the Wallowa band and rejected himself as Lieutenant Wood serving Howard’s bellicose, intolerant ethnocentricity. He learned what Joseph Conrad wrote earlier in “Heart of Darkness:”

The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only.[67]

Those choices and decisions and transformations begun in these scribbled thirty pages make both Wood’s life and work essential and contemporary — with the Wallowa band still living in exile, the ownership of the Wallowa valley still an open question, and apology to and restitution for the non-treaty bands nowhere in sight.

1. Sherry Smith, The View from Officer’s Row (Tuscon: University of Arizona Press, 1990), 136.

2. Robert Hamburger, Two Rooms: The Life of Charles Erskine Scott Wood. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998), 25. This is the only current biography of Wood.

3. Edwin Bingham, Charles Erskine Scott Wood (Boise: Boise State University Press, 1990), 11. This monograph is the only contemporary literary study of Wood’s writing.

4. Hamburger, Two Rooms, 16-31.

5. Hamburger, Two Rooms, 1.

6. William Faulkner, “Speech of Acceptance upon the award of the Nobel Prize for Literature,” in The Faulkner Reader (New York: Random House, 1943), 3.

7. Carton 28, Cylinder A-1 Transcript, 2, C.E.S. Wood Collection, Huntington Library, San Marino, California [hereafter Wood Collection].

8. Hamburger, Two Rooms, 1.

9. Bingham, Charles Erskine Scott Wood, 12.

10. Carton 28, Cylinder A-1 Transcript, 1, Wood Collection.

11. Wood’s commanding officer is Captain Robert Pollock, Twenty-first Infantry. Hamburger, Two Rooms, 6.

12. Gordon Dodds, The American Northwest (Arlington Heights, Ill: Forum Press, 1986), 159; Charles Erskine Scott Wood, The Poet in the Desert (New York: Vanguard, 1929). See Bingham, Charles Erskine Scott Wood, 13–14, for extensive use of Wood’s unpublished journal from this march.

13. “Wood Diary,” WD Box 29(4), July 10, 1928, Wood Collection.

14. Hamburger, Two Rooms, 33.

15. Doug Halsey, National Park Service, Fort Vancouver, Wash., interview by author, August 29, 2001.

16. C.E.S. Wood to General Howard, March 19, 1883, Oliver Otis Howard Papers, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine [hereafter Howard Papers].

17. Wood to Howard, January 11, 1876, March 1, 1876, Howard Papers. The Howard-Wood correspondence shows that Howard’s notorious religiosity apparently did not surface in their literary discourse. However, as a child raised in a strict religious family, Wood could readily understand — or dissemble — if confronted with Howard’s fundamentalism. Hamburger, Two Rooms, 16–17. For Wood’s later satires attacking orthodox conservatism — “patriotism, prudery, bigotry, censorship, dogmatic Christianity, and organized religion” — see one of his most famous works, Heavenly Discourse (New York: Vanguard Press, 1927); Edwin Bingham and Tim Barnes, eds., Wood Works (Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 1997), 265–88.

18. Hamburger, Two Rooms, 33.

19. Ibid., 35.

20. Carton 21, Wax Cylinder Transcript, 1, Wood Collection.

21. “Wood Diary,” July 10, 1928, WD Box 29(4), Wood Collection.

22. Steven E. Kagle, American Diary Literature: 1620–1799 (Boston: Twayne, 1979), 142; Steven E. Kagle, Early Nineteenth-Century Diary Literature (Boston: Twayne, 1986), 104.

23. C.E.S. Wood to General Howard, May 16, 1877, Howard Papers.

24. This journey took shape as Wood’s article, “Among the Thlinkits in Alaska,” Century Monthly 24 (July 1882): 323–39, reprinted in Bingham and Barnes, eds., Wood Works, 43–63. For the sexual encounter, self-censored in his article but admitted years later, see Hamburger, Two Rooms, 39.

25. Hamburger, Two Rooms, 41.

26. Bruce Hampton, Children of Grace (New York: Henry Holt, 1994), 42; Major Henry Clay Wood, Status of Young Joseph and His Band of Nez Perce Indians … (Portland, Ore.: Assistant Adjutant General’s Office of Headquarters Department of Columbia, 1876).

27. Alvin Josephy, The Nez Perce Indians and the Opening of the Pacific Northwest (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965), 429.

28. See the literature cited throughout these notes for some of the many accounts of this conflict, most recently Jerome Greene’s Nez Perce Summer, 1877 (Helena: Montana Historical Society Press, 2000), which takes up one key disputed issue here: what terms should be used to accurately portray and interpret these events? Was this a “war,” or a “conflict?” (p. xiv). Another historian correctly explains that American military terms, such as “war,” “retreat,” and “surrender” could be applied to General Howard’s actions, but those terms “have all too frequently presented a military picture which distorts Indian operations during that conflict.” See Merle Wells, “The Nez Perce and Their War,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly 55:1 (January 1964): 35–7. Wells himself inadvertently resorts to military terms, fails to note that the non-treaty Nez Perces were, in fact, refugees, and does not state that Howard’s wielding of military terms converted a legitimate legal dispute over treaty rights into a “war.”

29. J.P. Dunn, Massacres of the Mountains: A History of the Indian Wars of the Far West (New York: Harper, 1886; reprint, New York: Capricorn Books, 1969), 629.

30. WD Box 6 (7), Wood Collection.

31. Hamburger, Two Rooms, 37.

32. C.E.S Wood to McWhorter, March 12, 1941, cited in L.V. McWhorter, Hear Me, My Chiefs: Nez Perce Legend and History (Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton Printers, 1952), 260.

33. Mark H. Brown, The Flight of the Nez Perce (New York: Putnam, 1967), 208.

34. “According to General Howard, Wilkinson’s ‘gallant services’ at Clearwater [on July 11 and 12] resulted in a promotion … to brevet major.” Cary C. Collins, “The Broken Crucible of Assimilation,” Oregon Historical Quarterly 101:4 (Winter 2000): 470.

35. Sean Monahan, email to author, June 8, 2001.

36. WD Box 6(7), C.E.S. Wood Collection, Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

37. In “Pursuit and Capture of Chief Joseph,” Wood identified an “official journal which I kept as adjutant in the field” (in Chief Joseph: The Biography of a Great Indian, by Chester Anders Fee [New York: Wilson-Erickson, 1936], 335). In his unpublished autobiography, Wood stated that “I had to keep an accurate set of books that would make history but as when the campaign was over, he [Howard] carried the books off with him….” (Carton 28, Cylinder A-1, Wood Collection). This journal may be the document deposited in the Huntington Library titled Journal of Expedition against Hostile Nez Perce Indians from Lewiston I.T. to Henry Lake, I.T. (the Adjutant Journal cited on p. 57, note for July 14). Attributed to Wood, the journal’s authorship is dubious, at best: the handwriting — except for the title page — is not Wood’s and appears to be copied, and the first page carries the disclaimer “Following memorandum taken from jacket diary of Captain M. C. Wilkinson, A.D.E., July 10, 1877.” Throughout the text, Wood is referred to infrequently and always in third person. Wood may or may not have dictated this record, but he clearly did not write this text. While Howard attributes such a journal to Wood and quotes from that text throughout his Nez Perce Joseph (1881), Wood’s original “Adjutant Journal” may have been lost or remain in private hands. An intensive search of archives during this writing did not discover it.

38. [C.E.S. Wood,] “General Howard’s Battle with the Nez Perces Indians, July 11; Sketches by an Officer of General Howard’s Staff” and “Pictures of the Day,” New York Daily Graphic, August 3, 1877, 1, 233; [C.E.S. Wood,] “Scenes of General Howard’s Campaign Against the Nez Perce Indians; from Sketches by an Officer in the Field” and “Pictures of the Day,” New York Daily Graphic, August 16, 1877, 1; [C.E.S. Wood], “General Howard’s Campaign Against the Nez Perces Indians; Position of the Camp on August 20 when the Horses Were Stampeded by the Indians,” and “Pictures of the Day,” New York Daily Graphic, September 8, 1877, 1; W. [C.E.S.Wood], “A Fight at Break of Day,” New York Daily Graphic, August 27, 1877, 366. See also Wood to McWhorter, January 3, 1942, Lucillus McWhorter Papers, Holland Library, Washington State University, Pullman [hereafter McWhorter Papers].

39. Charles E. S. Wood, “General Field Orders No. 6,” in Supplementary Report (Non-Treaty Nez Perces Campaign)…, by O.O. Howard (Portland, Ore.: Assistant Adjutant General’s Office, Department of the Columbia, 1878), 619. At the end of the 1879 reprint of this text in the Wood Collection, Wood wrote, “I am afraid I am responsible for this document — except the ‘Under God.’ CESW.”

40. To track Wood’s 1877 leaked versions and revisions of the “Chief Joseph Surrender Speech,” begin with Bismark Tri Weekly Tribune, October 26, 1877; The Inter Ocean (Chicago), November 9, 1877, 2; New York Times, November 16, 1877, 1; National Tribune (Washington, D.C.), November 16, 1877; Harper’s Weekly, November 17, 1877, 906; Portland Daily Standard, December 4, 1877. Some of these anonymous leaks were probably accomplished with the collaboration of Thomas Sutherland. To track Wood’s “Surrender Narratives” defending Howard, begin with “The Pursuit and Battle. Semi-Official Report of a Staff Officer,” Chicago Tribune, October 10, 1877; “The Captive Chief,” San Francisco Chronicle, November 1, 1877; “To Editor Daily Standard,” Daily Standard (Portland), November 4, 1877. The last story was ghostwritten as Sutherland. To track Wood’s secret mission as Howard’s envoy to President Hayes, see C.E.S. Wood to General Howard, November 16, 1877, Howard Papers. The postwar army narrative is Howard, Supplementary Report.

41. “Testament,” in Bingham, Charles Erskine Scott Wood, 41; Wood Autobiography, Carton 28, Wax Cylinder A-1 Transcript, Wood Collection.

42. C.E.S. Wood, “Captives of Joseph’s Band Coming Into Miles’ Camp; Closing Scenes of General Howard’s Campaign Against the Nez Perces Indians: Sketches by an Officer of General Howard’s Staff,” New York Daily Graphic, November 3, 1877, 1. See also Wood to McWhorter, January 3, 1942, McWhorter Papers. A photocopy of one drawing — without place or date — was included in Wood’s papers at the Huntington, where I identified it in 1999.

43. Tim Barnes, “Beyond the Bear Paw Mountains: Charles Erskine Scott Wood’s Literary Campaign for Freedom,” Sweet Reason 5 (1986): 16.

44. Sherry Smith, The View from Officer’s Row (Tuscon: University of Arizona Press, 1990), 136.

45. Bingham and Barnes, eds., Wood Works, 224.

46. Charles Erskine Scott Wood, The Poet in the Desert (Portland, Ore.: F.W. Baltes, 1918), 103.

47. Wood, Poet, 101.

48. Sara Bard Field, ed., Collected Poems of Charles Erskine Scott Wood (New York: Vanguard, 1949), 267. (This collection reprints the 1918 version.)

49. Field, ed., Collected Poems, 267–9.

50. Charles Erskine Scott Wood, The Poet in the Desert (New York: Vanguard Press, 1929), 134–40.

51. “Ballads of the Nez Perce War,” WD Box 8 (16), Wood Collection. Published by permission.

52. Ibid. Published by permission.

53. Ibid. Published by permission.

54. Wood to C.J. Brosnan, January 7, 1918, Special Collections, University of Idaho Library, Moscow.

55. Barnes, “Beyond the Bear Paw Mountains,” 12.

56. See “Chief Joseph, The Nez Perce,” Century Magazine 28 (May 1884): 135–42; Bingham and Barnes, eds., Wood Works, 69–85; Hamburger, Two Rooms, 85.

57. “I took it for my own benefit as a literary item.” Wood to McWhorter, January 31, 1936, McWhorter Papers. This statement was also reprinted in various newspapers after Wood’s death in 1944. See also George Venn, “Chief Joseph’s ‘Surrender Speech’ as a Literary Text,” Oregon English 20:1 (1998): 69–73. For two of Wood’s early “verbatim transcript” claims, see Harper’s Weekly, November 17, 1877, 906; and Report of the Secretary of War 1877–78, 1:630. For a more recent and incomplete evaluation of that claim, see Haruo Aoki, “Chief Joseph’s Words,” Idaho Yesterdays 33:3 (Fall 1989): 16–21.

58. McWhorter, Hear Me, 260–1.

59. Brown, Flight, 161.

60. Jerome Greene, “Appendix B: Two Army Shootings at the Salmon River, June 30 and July 7, 1877,” unpublished manuscript; Jerome Greene, email to author, March 8, 2004. See July 6 entry and notes for the second shooting.

61. Mary Rose, C.E.S. Wood and Chief Joseph: Brothers in the American West (Vancouver, Wash.: Celebrate Freedom Exhibition, 1991); Leverett Richards, “Vancouver Exhibits Look at Indian Wars,” Oregonian, October, 3, 1991.

62. See David Michael Liberty, “It’s Never Too Late to Give Away a Horse,” Oregon Historical Quarterly 105:1 (Spring 2004): 96–107.

63. Mary Christina Wood, “The Gift,” 5, Wood File, Clark County Historical Museum, Vancouver, Wash.

64.Sunday Oregonian, April 23, 2000. See also Donna Sinclair, “They Did Not Go to War: Chief Red Heart’s Band and Native American Incarceration at Fort Vancouver Barracks, 1877–1878,” Columbia 12:3 (Fall 1998).

65. Greene, Nez Perce Summer, 389n46.

66. Sherry L. Smith, “Reimagining the Indian: Charles Erskine Scott Wood and Frank Lenderman,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly 87:3 (1996): 151.

67. Joseph Conrad, “Heart of Darkness” (1902), in A Conrad Argosy, ed. William McFee (New York: Doubleday, 1942), 30.

By: George Venn