Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky

Subject Guide


Mountain West

Malachite’s Big Hole

The Battle of Pierre’s Hole
The Account of Warren Ferris:

Warren Ferris, although not a participant in the Battle of Pierre’s Hole, was in the area and visited the battle ground on  May 25th, 1833 , about nine months after the event.  Here are Ferris’ observations as recorded in Life in the Rocky Mountains: A Diary of Wanderings on the sources of the Rivers Missouri, Columbia, and Colorado from February, 1830, to November, 1835 (Reference Link):   

On  the succeeding morning, in company with a friend or two, I visited the battle ground which was situate in a grove of aspen trees, several hundred yards in extent.  The pen or fort was probably about fifty feet square, was composed of green and dry aspen timber, and though hastily, yet firmly constructed.  It had sunk down in some places, however, from decay, below the height of two feet perpendicular.  The beseiged had excavated holes or cavities in the earth, within the pen, sufficiently capacious for two or three persons to remain in, quite below the surface of the ground.  These holes extended entirely round the pen; and we ascertained that the Indians had fired, in most cases, from small holes at the surface of the ground, beneath the pen or breast work, which circumstance (happily for them) was not observed in the smoke and confusion of the battle, or they would have been annihilated in a few moments.  The attack was principally made on the north side, where at every tree, sticks were still seen piled up against the roots, from which the beseigers fought; who had likewise raised a heap of brush and logs, a few paces from the pen or fort, to nearly or quite the same height; and had the Indian allies not objected, in the hope of capturing their arms, ammunition and other equipments, it would have soon been so greatly increased and advanced toward the pen, as to have insured its destruction, if fired, with all its contents and defenders.  Parties were also stationed behind trees, and clusters of willows on the other sides of the fort, which was thus entirely surrounded.  The trees both within and outside of the pen, were covered with the marks of balls, or of the axes successfully employed by our comrades, to exhume and save them; lead being very valuable in these remote regions, where it is so extremely necessary, both to the purposes of defence and subsistence.  Bones, of both men and animals, lay scattered about, in and around the pen, bearing evident indications of having contributed their fleshy covering, to the sustenance of wolves and ravens; who undoubtedly gratified their gastronomical propensities, after a protracted fast, for some days subsequent to the conflict.”  

Back to the Top
Back to The Battle of Pierre’s Hole