Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The tragic events begin to unfold...

Continuing the letter of Josiah Osborn written April 7, 1848 recounting the events of the Whitman Massacre. Below is a sketch of Tiloukaikt and Tomahas, Cayuse chiefs that were tried for the murders at the Mission.

On the 29th day of November, the Indians convened for the purpose, apparently, of burying their dead, and continued coming in nearly all day. About one or two o'clock Margaret got up and went into the parlor to see the sick children - the first she had walked for three weeks. The doctor and his wife were in the room, and an Indian came to the door and spoke to the doctor, who went out into the kitchen. Mrs. W. now bolted the door, and the firing soon commenced. Kimble, Camfield, and Huffman were dressing a beef in the yard, Sanders was in the school room, and the other men were at their work. I was in my room, on the bed. The Indians commenced on all at nearly the same moment. They killed the doctor and wounded the three men at the beef, and killed a young man in the room with the doctor and Mr. Gillyean the tailor. Margaret came back into our own room; I asked her what was the matter; she answered that the Indians had risen to kill us. A constant firing was now kept up. Sanders was killed in attempting to get to his family; Kimble got into the house with his arm broke, and got up stairs with the children. Mrs. Whitman being informed that her husband was not yet dead, with the assistance of another woman, she dragged him into the parlor. His head was badly mangled and his throat cut. She was shot in the breat, and Mr. Rogers got her up stairs, and he, by presenting a gun at the head of the stairs, kept the Indians down; but about sun-set they promised that if Mr. R. and the rest would come down and go to the house where the emigrants were, they would not kill any more. Mr. R., with the assistance of an Indian, got Mrs. Whitman down, but no sooner had they got outside of the house than the Indians fired several balls into Mrs. Whitman, and kicked her bleeding body into the mud. They shot Mr. Rogers three times, and left him to die. A few minutes before this last occurrence, I had lifted up the floor and we got under, with our three children and put the boards back in their place. We lay there listening to the firing - the screaming of women and children - the groans of the dying - not knowing how soon our turn would come. We were, however, not discovered.

When it had become dark, and all was quiet, we concluded to leave everthing, take our children and start for the fort, which was twenty-five miles distant, knowing that if we remained till morning death, would be our portion. Taking John Law on my back and A. Rogers in my arms, we started. The first step we made outside was in the blood of an orphan boy. Some of the murdered had their heads split open; some were lying in the mud disemboweled. This night we travelled only two miles. We hid in the brush, about fifty feet from the road, where all the next day, we heard the Indians passing and repassing - When dark came on, we started for the fort and got three miles further. We then gave out , and again hid in the brush, and then spent another mournful day in the Indian country. - When night came on, finding that Margaret was unalbe to travel, I took John Law on my back and started for Fort Wallawalla, yet twenty miles distant. When I had arrived within six miles of the fort, I laid down in the wet grass till morning. About nine o'clock, I reached the fort, where McBean met me, and told me that he had reported me among the dead. He gave me about half a pint of tea and two small biscuits. When we had got warm, I asked for assistance to bring in my fmaily, but was unable to procure any. During the day, Mr. Stanley came up from Fort Collville with two horses, which he offered me. At night we got a little more to eat, and an Indian being hired to go with me, I prepared for a start. Mr. McBean said I must go to the bishop on the Umatilla. I refused, but he said I must, for if I came back we could not have a mouthful of food. I asked him for some bread to carry to my family, for they had had nothing but a little cold mush since Monday. He gave me none, but Mr. Stanley gave me some bread, sugar, tea, and salt. And gave John Law a pair of socks, and a fine silk be continued

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