Captain George Vancouver Julia Butler Hansen Carlos Bulosan Ernestine Anderson Kurt Cobain Bill Gates & Paul Allen Home
Search Encyclopedia
Advanced Search
Featured Essay
Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search
7100 essays now available      
Donation system not supported by Safari     Donate Subscribe


Cyberpedias Cyberpedias
Timeline Essays Timeline Essays
People's Histories People's Histories

Selected Collections
Cities & Towns Cities & Towns
County Thumbnails Counties
Biographies Biographies
Interactive Cybertours Interactive Cybertours
Slide Shows Slideshows
Public Ports Public Ports
Audio & Video Audio & Video

Research Shortcuts

Map Searches
Alphabetical Search
Timeline Date Search
Topic Search


Book of the Fortnight
Audio/Video Enhanced
History Bookshelf
Klondike Gold Rush Database
Duvall Newspaper Index
Wellington Scrapbook

More History

Washington FAQs
Washington Milestones
Honor Rolls
Columbia Basin
Walla Walla
Roads & Rails

Timeline Library

< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

Native Americans kill U.S. Army Lieutenant William Slaughter and three other soldiers along the White River on December 4, 1855. Essay 8135 : Printer-Friendly Format

On December 4, 1855, Native Americans under Klickitat Chief Kanasket attack a U.S. Army encampment between the Green and White rivers and kill Lieutenant William Slaughter (1827-1855) and three other soldiers. The soldiers are from the 4th U.S. Infantry and the 4th U.S. Artillery Regiments from Fort Steilacoom. The Indians are from the Puyallup, Nisqually, and Klickitat tribes.

When Indians killed settlers along the White River in October 1855, Acting Territorial Governor Charles H. Mason (1830-1859) requested help from soldiers at Forts Steilacoom and Vancouver. On November 3, 1855, Captain Maurice Maloney deployed 50 soldiers under Lieutenant Slaughter and about the same number of volunteers under Captain Gilmore Hays up the White River. The force encountered some Indians on opposite side of the river, but the water was too deep to cross. The two groups exchanged gunfire at long range. Lieutenant Slaughter estimated he killed 30 warriors while losing just one man of his own. Maloney continued patrolling between the White and Green Rivers, but the tribesmen stayed out of his way.

On December 4, 1855, the soldiers stopped and built fires at an abandoned homestead to dry out their wet clothing. Lieutenant Slaughter and other officers were conferring in a hut when, just past 7:00 p.m., Native Americans fired a volley into the camp and a rifle ball passed between the logs of the hut and into the officer's heart. This set off a three-hour battle in which three other soldiers died. Captain Erasmus Keyes (1810-1895) took command and pulled the force back to Fort Steilacoom. 

Lieutenant Slaughter and his wife had been a popular couple at Fort Steilacoom (she was one of few white women there) and his loss rattled Puget Sound settlers. Captain Keyes reported that the region was in a "condition of wild alarm." James Tilton observed with some disdain that the streets of Olympia were "filled with a timid ignorant fault-finding mob of Pikes, who terrify each other by horrid exaggerations about Indians, and whose [land] claims are going to hell" (Richards, 257).

Acting Governor Mason dispatched Captain Isaac L. Sterrett to Seattle to round up all the Snoqualmie Indians. Arthur Denny (1822-1899) convinced Sterrett that the Snoqualmies were not hostile.

Lieutenant Slaughter was remembered in the name of a city and a county in Washington Territory, but citizens renamed the city Auburn and the county Kitsap.

Kent D. Richards, Isaac I. Stevens: Young Man in a Hurry (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, 1979), 256-257; T. G. Knudsen, Warrior of the Mist (Spokane: The Author, 1996), 210-211; Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "Slaughter County is renamed Kitsap County on July 13, 1857" (by David Wilma), and "Slaughter is renamed Auburn on February 21, 1893" (by David Wilma), (accessed April 5, 2007).

Travel through time (chronological order):
< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

Related Topics: War & Peace | Northwest Indians |

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Major Support for Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You

Lieutenant and Mrs. William Slaughter, ca. 1854
Courtesy Pollard, A History of the State of Washington

Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search is the first online encyclopedia of local and state history created expressly for the Internet. (SM) is a free public and educational resource produced by History Ink, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt corporation.
Contact us by phone at 206.447.8140, by mail at Historylink, 1411 4th Ave. Suite 803, Seattle WA 98101 or email