Berens to Lytton
Hudson's Bay House
3rd August 1858
I have the honour to enclose for your information an Extract of a letter received by the last mail from Mr Dugald Mactavish, the Company's Agent at Vancouver, dated the 3rd June, and giving the particulars of an encounter which took place in that neighbourhood between the troops of the United States and a party of Indians, in which several of the former were killed.
Along with Mr Mactavish's letter we have also received an Extract from an Oregon paper, which gives some further details of the affair, and which I shall be happy to transmit to you, if you should wishManuscript imagewish for it.
I have to add that a copy of the Extract from Mr Mactavish's letter has been forwarded to the Foreign Office for the information of the Earl of Malmesbury.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your very obedt humble
H.H. Berens
Depty Govr
The Right Honble Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, Bart
&c &c &c
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Merivale
This encounter makes one apprehensive as to the behavior of the Indians in B. Territory. If, unfortunately they should be tempted, or provoked into collision with the Immigrants, the Immigrants must protect themselves. It is clear that 150 R. Engineers can't afford protection—nor indeed any force short of a regiment or two.
Ack. rect.
ABd. 4 Augt.
Yes, the spot, however, is in the centre of American Manuscript imageOregon, and a long way from British territory.
HM Augt 4
The effect of these collisions is bad as they must sow suspicion & dislike between Indians & Americans even in English territory. I think we might as well ack. & see the newspaper.
C. Augt 5
This shd be kept in my room & shewn to the Commanding Officer of the R. Engineers. He will see where there may be danger & judge how at any time to secure his force among volunteer Diggers.
EBL Aug 5
Other documents included in the file
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Carnarvon to Berens, 25 August 1858, acknowledging receipt of his letter and thanking him for the information.
Documents enclosed with the main document (transcribed)
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Extract, Mactavish to Smith, Vancouver, 3 June 1858, reporting the defeat of Steptoe of the U.S. Army by "Spokane Indians."
Extract of a letter from Dugald Mactavish Esqre to W. G. Smith Esqre dated Vancouver, Washington Territory 3rd June 1858. ______________
“Within the last week we have received intelligence that a party of United States mounted troops, numbering from one hundred to one hundred and fifty men under the command of Brevet Lieutt Colonel Steptoe Major 9th Infantry, left the garrison on the Walla Walla situated about twenty five miles from the Company’s late Establishment early last month with the view of proceeding on a tour of inspection as far north as Colvile.
"Shortly after crossing the Snake River at the Forks of the Pelouse, the Command was met by a number of Indians of the Spokan and other Tribes who objected to the soldiers passing through their country and Colonel Steptoe after some consideration not feeling strong enough toManuscript imageto force his way, made up his mind to return. The Indians however would not allow him to go back quietly but eventually attacked the party, and a skirmish commenced which lasted a whole day, when Colonel Steptoe finding he had two officers (Brevet Captain Taylor and Lieutt Gaston of the 1st Dragoons) and five men killed, together with some ten more wounded, and being moreover short of ammunition, quietly withdrew from his encampment during the night leaving behind all the baggage and stores and two mountain howitzers, and made good his retreat recrossing the Snake River thirty five or forty miles above the Pelouse.
It is impossible to say what steps the Government will take to bring these Indians to their senses, but in the meantime it will not surprise me to learn that something has happened to the Company’s EstablishmentManuscript imageEstablishment at Colvile, where the natives for the last two or three years have been very troublesome and unmanageable.
"Chief Trader Blenkinsop I trust reached Colvile before the troubles occurred in the Spokan Country, although I have no information of the result of his journey after he crossed the Snake River at the Pelouse with his brigade on the 2nd May.”