From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.

On the Trail of Joseph, Chief of the Nez Perces.


Col. Ezra B. Fuller Recalls Memorable Ribe up the Yellowstone to Warn Sherman of Danger--Flight and Capture of Greatest Indian Warrior.


Night had closed down over the Yellowstone. In the air was that chill that comes with evening, even in summer in Montana. A slim youthful second lieutenant of the Seventh Cavalry and five picked troopers of the same regiment rode quietly out of the came of Col. Nelson A. Miles on the banks of the Yellowstone at the mouth of Tongue river. The lieutenant and his detachment took the wagon road leading up the north bank of the river. An August moon was silvering the swimming reaches of the Yellowstone, flowing between low, bush fringed banks.

The young lieutenant, who rode in the lead, was Ezra B. Fuller, company A, Seventh United States Cavalry. The five troopers had been selected because of their qualities of courage and endurance. Lieutenant Fuller bore a dispatch from Colonel Miles to Gen. William T. Sherman in Yellowstone National Park. That dispatch warned General Sherman and his small detachment that Chief Joseph and his band of Nez Perces warriors had crossed the Camas Meadows in southern Idaho and were fleeing in the direction of the park. General Sherman was warned that safety lay in the direction of Fort ellis, Montana, and Helena.

Errand to Discover Joseph.

Lieutenant Fuller also had instruction to communicate with Colonel Gibbon and the governor of Montana and learn if possible the exact location of the Nez Perces band. Any information gathered was to be transmitted by courier to Colonel Sturgis in command of seven troops of the Seventh cavalry and who was following Fuller up the river. Lieutenant Fuller was to deliver his dispatch to Sherman at Fort Ellis near Bozeman, from where it was to be forwarded to General Sherman.

Chief Joseph and his band of more than 200 warriors and 350 women and children had left their reservation in western Idaho on a rmpage of pillage and murder and from where on August 27, Gen. O. O. Howard had taken up the chase over the Lolo train and across the Bitter Root Mountains into Montana. There on August 9, 1877, Colonel Gibbon with a command of 17 officers

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