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Fort Benton in Chouteau County, Montana — The American West (Mountains)
 

Cow Island Incident

 
 
Cow Island Incident Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 22, 2020
1. Cow Island Incident Marker
Inscription.  On September 21, 1877, Fort Benton commander Major Guido Ilges got work that the Nimíipuu (Nez Perce) had traveled across the Judith Basin headed for Canada. Thirteen members of Company F, Seventh Infantry Regiment and to civilians volunteers loaded a mountain howitzer onto a steamboat and set off down the Missouri River. Thirty-eight volunteers and one soldier road along on horseback. the intended to protect Fort Claggett and the supplies at the Cow Island steamboat landing.
They were too late. Before they reached Cow Island, Company F could see smoke and flames in the distance. Near Cow Creek, some Nimíipuu had confronted a supply wagon, taken supplies they needed, and set fire to the rest. Outnumbered, the soldiers turned back to Fort Benton.

Sidebar on right:
1877 was a long and sad summer:

In June, after the US Government ordered them to leave their homes in northeastern Oregon and western Idaho and move to the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho, nearly 800 Nimíipuu men, women and children left their homelands in search of freedom. The U.S. Military pursued
Cow Island Incident Marker (detail): Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historic Trail image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 22, 2020
2. Cow Island Incident Marker (detail): Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historic Trail
them 1,179 miles across Idaho, through Yellowstone and into Montana where the Nimíipuu were surrounded by Colonel Nelson A. Miles' troops at the Bear Paw, only forty miles from sanctuary in Canada. After enduring five days of bitter cold and no food, Chief Joseph determined the people could last no longer. On October 5, as Chief White Bird fled across the border with the able bodied, Joseph walked across the snowy plain, handed over his rifle and spoke his famous words, "From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever."

(Map of the post-Bear Paw exile of the Nimíipuu.)

Although some Nimíipuu escaped to Canada, Joseph and those who stayed behind were exiled to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). After eight years, those who survived the brutal conditions in exile were allowed to return to reservations in the Northwest in 1885.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Native AmericansWars, US Indian.
 
Location. 47° 48.651′ N, 110° 40.35′ W. Marker is in Fort Benton, Montana, in Chouteau County. Marker can be reached from 8th Street near River Street. The marker is on the grounds of the Missouri Breaks Interpretive Center. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Fort Benton MT 59442, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of
Cow Island Incident Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 22, 2020
3. Cow Island Incident Marker
this marker. Most Progressive in Montana (a few steps from this marker); The Little Shell Chippewa (within shouting distance of this marker); Priming the Pump (within shouting distance of this marker); Grasshoppers in the River? (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Fort LaBarge (about 400 feet away); Whoop Up Trail (about 700 feet away); Great Northern Railway (approx. 0.2 miles away); Nez Perce Fight (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fort Benton.
 
Also see . . .  The Battle of Cow Island -- Fort Benton Blogspot. In this article the Irish story-teller Michael Foley relates his experiences at Cow Island in late September 1877, when the Nez Perces forded the Missouri River and skirmished with the small garrison stationed there to protect government and private freight stored from arriving steamboats. (Submitted on December 2, 2020, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.) 
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 2, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 2, 2020, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 29 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on December 2, 2020, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.
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Mar. 5, 2021