In June 1877, Nez Perce War began. This war was fought between the Native American Nez Perce tribe and the U.S. army. The U.S. government wanted the Nez Perce tribe to give up their ancestral lands and relocate to a reservation site. The Nez Perce refused to give up their freedom, especially because the government had previously promised them that they could live on their ancestral lands.
Following their refusal, the U.S. government tried to force them into the reservation. The Nez Perce resisted and the war began in June, 1877. The Battle of Camas Creek took place in August, 1877. The war was still going on at this time.
Ever since the war began, the Nez Perce tribe had two objectives. One was to continue moving towards southeast and ultimately reach Canada where they thought they might find safety and freedom. And the other was to elude the U.S. army that was continuously following them, and fight back if the army ever caught up with them.
For this purpose, the Nez Perce tried their best to slow down the pursuing army as much as possible. The Battle of Camas Creek took place in August, 1877 when the U.S. army had reached quite close to the retreating Nez Perce camp and was only a few miles away.
The Nez Perce attacked the U.S. army camp at night and freed around 200 mules which they stampeded away from the camp. The U.S. soldiers were caught by surprise but soon three companies of cavalry mounted and followed the Nez Perce raiders. This led to the Battle of Camas Creek.
The Battle of Camas Creek took place on August 20, 1877. It was fought in the southeastern part of the Idaho state near the Camas Creek.
The main commanders of the U.S. army were General Oliver O. Howard and Captain Randolph Norwood. They commanded around 300 soldiers. The Nez Perce were led by many leaders including Chief Joseph, White Bird, Looking Glass and Ollokot. The total strength of the Nez Perce numbered at around 200 fighting warriors.
After the Nez Perce raid, nearly 150 U.S. cavalry soldiers in three companies followed the Nez Perce. The Nez Perce, however, were ready for them and had set up ambush with their warriors. These warriors started firing at the cavalry soldiers as they arrived.
The Nez Perce warriors were distributed in a long line so that they were able to stop the advance of the cavalry with their continuous fire. Two of the cavalry companies retreated in confusion. The third company under Captain Randolph Norwood got surrounded and after forming defencive positions, continued to fight back. Finally when General Howard arrived with the rest of the army, the Nez Perce warriors retreated.
The Battle of Camas Creek was a Nez Perce victory. They achieved their objective of slowing down the army by stealing their mules and successfully continued their retreat into the southeast. The army suffered 3 dead and 6 wounded in the battle. The Nez Perce suffered 2 wounded.