Lieut. Slaughter, Slaughtered

Lieut. Slaughter and Wife (Image from www.historylink.org)

Lieut. Slaughter and Wife (Image from http://www.historylink.org)

DEATH OF LIEUT. SLAUGHTER.

From a copy of The Puget Sound Courier we learn that Lieut. WM. A. SLAUGHTER, of the 4th Regiment of Infantry of the U.S. Army, )son of Judge A.B. SLAUGHTER of this place,) was killed near the junction of White and Green rivers, Washington Territory, on the evening of the 4th of December, last.

Capt. Keys, commandant of the Puget Sound district, reports that at a place when Lieut. S. had halted “there was a small log house in which Lieut. Slaughter, Capt. Hewitt, Lieut. Harrison, and Dr. Taylor of the Navy, were conversing together. At about 7 o’clock P.M. of the 4th inst., the Indians fired a volley at the house and through the door. One ball passed between the logs, and through the breast of Lieut. Slaughter. He fell dead without a groan, and without speaking a word. The Indians kept up their fire until about 10 o’clock, killing Corporal Barry, of Company C, 4th Infantry, and Corporal Clarendon of the Steilacoom volunteers, and wounding six other men.”

The Courier says:

Lieut. Slaughter was born in the state of Kentucky, in the year 1827. Early in life he removed with his family to the town of Lafayette, Indiana. In 1844 he entered the Military Academy, and graduated with distinction in 1848.

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Soon after graduating, Mr. Slaughter joined the 2d Infantry in California, as Brevet 2d Lieutenant. For a while he served with the escort to the commission for establishing the boundary between the United States and Mexico, and in the spring of 1850, having been promoted to the 4th Infantry, he returned to the United States. He again embarked for the Pacific with the 4th Infantry in 1852, and after being stationed a short time at Fort Vancouver, he was ordered to Fort Steilacoom in February, 1853. From that time till the date of his untimely death, he was constantly on duty in this portion of Washington territory.

In the difficulties which have heretofore disturbed our Indian relations in the neighborhood of Puget Sound, Lieut. Slaughter’s services were often required. His activity and energy, and the alacrity with which he performed his duties, caused him, as a general rule, to be selected as the leader of the expeditions which from time to time were sent to suppress the threatened and actual hostilities of the savages.

Upon the breaking out of the war with the Yakimas, Lieut. Slaughter was ordered, in September last, to cross the mountains with a command of only 40 men. He was shortly recalled, and after joining his 40 men with the force under Captain Maloney, again set out for the Yakima country late in October; before proceeding far, Capt. Maloney was induced to retrace his steps. In the combats with the Indians, on the 3d and 4th of November, on White and Green rivers, Lieut. Slaughter’s conduct and gallantry were such as to win the admiration of all parties, both of regulars and volunteers.

After the conflict on Green river, Lieut. Slaughter was detailed with a separate command. In crossing the Pualylup [Puyallup], over a fallen tree, the two loading men were shot down by Indians ambushed on the other side. As the men fell, Lieut. Slaughter called out to them separately by name, but receiving no answer, he ordered his soldiers to charge across. Two sprang forward, he, himself, following next, and then all rushed over and drove the red skins from their covert.

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Lieut. Slaughter was uncommonly successful in his encounters with Indians, and if his life had been spared no estimate too high could be placed on his capacity to chastise these monsters. His appearance was not robust, but he would start out, on foot, in the dress and equipment of a common soldier, with his blanket and provisions on his back, and march all day through rain, mud and frost, and bivouac at night without any complaint of fatigue. Such hardships and deprivations, ordinarily so discouraging to the strongest men, seemed only to enliven his spirits, and inflame his ambition.*

It is supposed he was shot by an Indian boy, once his servant at Fort Steilacoom, towards whom he had always been kind and indulgent. Such is the character of the savage!

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The remains of Lieut. Slaughter were consigned to the grave at Fort Steilacoom with Masonic and Military honors.

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On the receipt of the intelligence at Olympia, of the death of Lieut. Slaughter, both branches of the legislative assembly adjourned after passing resolutions expressive of their regard for the memory of the deceased.

Richland County Observer (Richland Co., WI) Apr 13, 1856

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The White River Valley Museum website had more about Lieut. Willam A. Slaughter and the Treaty Wars and Indian Uprisings.

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On the USgenweb.org website, Gary Reese has posted more information about William A. Slaughter.

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