Battle of Pine Creek

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The Battle of Pine Creek, also known as the Battle of Tohotonimme and the Steptoe Disaster,[1] was a conflict between United States Army forces under Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Edward Steptoe and members of the Coeur d'Alene, Palouse and Spokane Native American tribes.[2] It took place on May 17, 1858 near what is present-day Rosalia, Washington.[3] The Native Americans were victorious.

Chronology of the battle

Steptoe departed Fort Walla Walla on May 6, 1858. His stated mission was to investigate the murder of two white prospectors by natives, as well as demonstrate a military presence in order to calm the white settlers who were encroaching on Indian territory. Leaving the fort, Steptoe's command of 159 soldiers were each issued about 40 rounds of ammunition. The group also ported two mountain howitzers.

On May 15, Steptoe made camp on a hilltop south of Rosalia, Washington. Shortly after, warriors from area tribes confronted Steptoe protesting the encroachment on their territory. Negotiations failed to defuse the situation. On the morning of May 17, Steptoe led his troops near the confluence of Spring Valley Creek and North Pine Creek. It was at this time the Indians began their attack. A running battle ensued for the next ten hours. By early afternoon Steptoe found himself defending against the attackers from a hill overlooking Pine Creek from the east. The Indian warriors withdrew for the night, expecting to finish the battle the next morning. At that time they did not realize that Steptoe's forces were down to about three rounds of ammunition per man. Under cover of darkness and a driving rain, Steptoe abandoned his supplies and cannon. He then led his command through the enemy lines to safety towards Fort Walla Walla without being detected.[4]

See also


  1. Keenan, Jerry. "Steptoe, Col. Edward Jenner." Encyclopedia of American Indian Wars 1492-1890 Santa Barbara, CA : ABC-CLIO, c1997 p. 223.
  2. Oregon volunteers battle the Walla Wallas and other tribes beginning on December 7, 1855, HistoryLink, April 20, 2008
  3. "Battle of Pine Creek", Rosalia, Washington Website, May 3, 2008
  4. May 17, 1858: The Ordeal of the Steptoe Command, HistoryLink, March 30, 2010


External links

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