Skip to content Battle of Pine Creek (Part of The Spokane-Coeur d’Alene-Paloos War) (1858)

This battle took place on May 17, 1858, near Rosalia, Washington, Steptoe Butte. It resulted in a Native American victory while the United States Army retreated. It was fought between the US Soldiers and the Coeur D’ Alenes Yakama, Cayuse, Spokane, possibly Walla Walla Indians and assorted Native American tribes. The US had 164 riflemen who fought again an estimated number of 800 to 1.000 Indians. Seven US men were killed and between 6 to 13 wounded. On the Indian side there were 9 to 50 dead and 40 to 50 wounded (estimated).

The Battle of Pine Creek, also known as the Battle of Tohotonimme, was a conflict between United States Army forces under Lt. Colonel Edward J. Steptoe and members of the Coeur d’Alene, Palouse and Paiute Native American tribes. It took place on May 17, 1858 near what is present-day Rosalia, Washington. The Native Americans were victorious.

Steptoe departed Fort Walla Walla on May 6, 1858. His stated mission was to investigate the murder of two white prospectors by natives, and to generally demonstrate a calming presence to the encroaching settlers. Steptoe’s troops ported two mountain howitzers and had been issued only about 40 rounds each of ammunition.

Steptoe made camp on a hilltop south of Rosalia, Washington on May 15th. Shortly after, warriors from area tribes confronted Steptoe with encroaching on their territory. Negotiations failed to defuse the situation, and two days later Steptoe was leading his troops near the confluence of Spring Valley Creek and North Pine Creek when the Indians attacked. A running battle ensued for the next ten hours. By early afternoon Steptoe found himself defending the attackers from a hill overlooking Pine Creek from the east. The Indian warriors withdrew for the night, expecting to finish the battle the next morning, not realizing that Steptoe’s forces were down to about three rounds of ammunition per man. Under cover of darkness and a driving rain, Steptoe abandoned his supplies and cannon, and was able to lead his command through the enemy lines, and eventually to safety.