Steptoe, Colonel Edward
b. 1816
d. 1865-04-16
American Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Edward Steptoe, Major 9th Infantry, with his platoon of one hundred and fifty men, engaged in armed conflict with over one thousand First Nations from the Snake, Palouse and other tribes in Washington Territory, 1858. Fifty-three Americans were killed, causing Steptoe's forces to retreat.1 According to Douglas, the success of the First Nations force greatly increased the natural audacity of other tribes in the region, including those in British Columbia.2 The colonial administration worried that Steptoe's defeat could sow suspicion and dislike between Indians and Americans even in English territory.3 In the wake of the conflict, the American government accused the Hudson's Bay Company of having sold bullets and weapons to “Spokan and Cour-de-Alene Indians;”4 the accusations were later deemed baseless and that it would appear that the Indians were supplied with ammunition, not by the Company's Officers, but by the Americans themselves.5
Steptoe was born in 1816 in Bedford County, Virginia.6 He graduated from Chapel Hill University in 1833 and immediately joined the United States military. Steptoe fought First Nations tribes in the early 1840s and was involved in the entirety of the Mexican War, from 1844-1846.7 In 1856 he travelled across the country to establish a military post in Walla Walla, Washington.8
Steptoe returned to Virginia in 1859 after falling ill. He died on 16 April 1865.9
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Douglas, James

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British Columbia

Walla Walla

Washington Territory