* Isaac Stevens
* Yelm Jim
* General John Wool
* Col. Silas Casey
* Lt. Augustus Kautz
* Lt. William Slaughter
* Col. George Wright
Lieutenant William Alloway Slaughter |
U.S. Army officer and casualty of war
1827 - Dec 3, 1855
William Alloway Slaughter was a soldier, not a sailor. Upon graduating from West Point in 1848, his first appointment was in California, a seven month voyage around Cape Horn. For Slaughter, it was seven miserable months of motion sickness. Upon arrival in California, he discovered that he had been promoted to second lieutenant, and that he should actually have been assigned to the Great Lakes region. Slaughter boarded another ship to return to the East coast by way of the Isthmus of Panama, once again ill the entire distance. Arriving at his destination, he received yet another set of orders compelling him to take yet another queasy shipboard trip back to the West coast.
Following a term of routine duty, in 1850, Slaughter was transferred to the Great Lakes, assigned to Fort Gratiot, Michigan. Fort Gratiot was one of a number of forts placed to control the entrances and waterways of the Great Lakes. With less demanding military duties, Slaughter had time to court and wed Mary Wells, the daughter of a merchant. Soon thereafter, his new bride accompanied him on a rigorous journey to San Francisco, then in 1852, on to Fort Vancouver. Eventually Slaughter was transferred to Fort Steilacoom, just as Washington Territory was created.
Lieutenant Slaughter accompanied Governor Isaac Stevens in December 1854 to the treaty negotiations at Medicine Creek. As Stevens continued eastward on his treaty council tour, dissatisfaction with the treaty provisions by both settlers and Indians contributed to a rising tide of conflict in both the Puget Sound and eastern Washington Territory.
The catalyst for the Indian War of 1855-1856 was the death of Indian Agent Andrew Bolon, who was killed by several members of the Yakama tribe on September 23, 1855. Despite largely peaceful relations between Indians and settlers, Bolon's death sparked fears of a widespread Indian uprising.
Acting Governor Charles Mason requested that a detachment of troops be sent east to punish the Yakamas. Lieutenant Slaughter, with about forty soldiers, left on September 27, 1855 to join forces with Brevet Major Granville Haller's troops. Haller set out from Fort Dalles with a force of about one hundred soldiers on October 3rd, 1855. Three days later his troops engaged in a sporadic two-day battle with hostile Yakama warriors, causing Haller's retreat and a number of casualties. Warned about the conflict with the Yakama, Slaughter halted his advance and withdrew to the White River area.
News of Haller's defeat and Slaughter's withdrawal prompted Acting Governor Mason to declare war on the Indians and authorize the formation of two volunteer Militia companies. Pacific Commander, Brigadier General John E. Wool requested a regiment from the east coast, and sent seventy men to Fort Vancouver.
Intermittent Indian raids and ambushes resulted in the deaths of three families from the White River Valley, causing settler to abandon their farms and flee to Fort Steilacoom. On November 3, 1855, Lieutenant Slaughter and his men attacked a group of Nisqually and claimed thirty Indians were killed. Later that month, November 24, he lost about forty horses in an Indian night raid.
For several days thereafter Slaughter searched unsuccessfully for hostile Indians. On December 3, he was joined by Captain Gilmore Hays and a detachment of Washington Militia. Slaughter was ordered to rendezvous with another small militia force led by Captain C. C. Hewitt. Following a long day's march in the rain, the joint force set up camp. During the night, they were fired upon by Indians, and Lieutenant Slaughter was killed.
Lieutenant Slaughter's death caused much grief in the settlement. Newspapers praised him, and the Legislature adjourned for a day as a mark of respect. He was buried at Fort Steilacoom with full military honors.