Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky

Subject Guide


Mountain West

Malachite’s Big Hole

Battle of Pierre’s Hole

Account of Nathaniel Wyeth

Nathaniel Wyeth offers this description of the Battle of Pierre’s Hole as taken from Journal of Captain Nathaniel J. Wyeth's Expeditions to the Oregon Country: First Expedition - 1832 (Reference Link).  Wyeth had been very successful in business in the East and his purpose in traveling to the West was to assess business opportunities there.  At this time Wyeth a party of twelve other Yankee New Englanders had traveled to the 1832 Rendezvous and were now accompanying a brigade under the leadership of Milton Sublette and Henry Fraeb.   

On the 18th we did not leave camp when near starting we observed 2 partys of Indians coming out of the pass about 200 in number with but few horses after securing our camp our riders went out to meet them and soon found them to be Blackfeet a little skirmish ensued one of the Blackfeet was killed and his Blankett and robe brought into camp on this the Indians made for the timber the women and children were seen flying to the mountains at this time only 42 men being the party of Mess Milton Sublette & Frapp mine and a few Independent Hunters were in sight and the Indians were disposed to give us their usual treatment when they meet us in small bodies but while the Indians we[re] making their preparations we sent an express to camp which soon brought out a smart force of Nez Perces Flatheads and whites the Indians finding they were caught fortified themselves in a masterly manner in the wood. We attacked them and continued the attack all day there were probably about 20 of them killed and 32 horses were found dead They decamped during the night leaving most of their utensials lodges &c and many of the dead we have lost 3 whites killed 8 badly wounded among which is Mr Wm. Sublette who was extremely active in the battle about 10 of the Indians were killed or mortally wounded of the Nez Perces and Flatheads in the morning we visited their deserted fort they had dug into the ground to reach water and to secure themselves from our shot It was a sickening scene of confusion and Blood[s]head one of our men who was killed inside their fort we found mutilated in a shocking manner on the 19th we removed back to our former ground to be near our whole force and to recruit the wounded and bury the dead. We think that 400 lodges or about 600 warriors of the Blackfeet are on the other side of the pass and if they come they must be met with our whole force in which case the contest will be a doubtful one. We have mad[e] Horse pens and secured our camp in as good a manner as we can and wait the result this affair will detain us some days. On 24th we again moved out of the valley in the same direction as at first viz about S.E. and encamped at night in the gorge of it during the march I visited the scene of our conflict for the first time since the battle the din of arms was now changed into the noise of the vulture and the howling of masterless dogs the stench was extreme most of the men in the fort must have perished I soon retired from this scene of disgusting butchery”

Account of John Ball
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