Puget Sound War, deep inlet of the eastern North Pacific Ocean, northwestern Washington, U.S. It extends for 100 miles (160 km) from Admiralty Inlet and Whidbey Island (which lies in the Straits of Georgia and Juan de Fuca) in the south. Hood Canal is a large western extension.
The sound is the submerged northern end of the Cowlitz-Pugett Trough, which extends for about 350 miles (565 km) between the Cascade Range and the Coast Range. The southern end of this trough is the Willamette River valley. Of the many streams that enter the sound from the east, the Skagit and Snohomish Rivers and the Duwamish Waterway are navigable for a portion of their length.
Puget Sound has several excellent deep water ports, including Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, and Port Townsend, which serve as outports for the rich farmland along the mouth of the river. A naval shipyard in Bremerton links military shipping to the sound’s large volumes of local and international trade.
The sound also serves as the southern terminus of the Alaska Interior Route. It provides a sheltered playground for pleasure boats and still produces a salmon catch, although the latter is greatly reduced from the former levels. Whale watching excursions are popular with tourists and a lucrative business in the San Juan Islands of Upper Puget Sound.
The sound, called the Wulge by the Salish Indians, was discovered in 1792 by British navigator George Vancouver and named after Peter Puget, a second lieutenant in his expedition, who investigated the main channel.
This armed conflict that took place in the Puget Sound area from October 1855 to March 1856 was primarily between members of the Nisqually, Mukalshut, Puyallup, and Clickitat tribes over land rights between the United States military and local militia. At the same time, the Haida and Tlingit tribes were also coming into conflict with the United States Navy.
Matters began in 1854 after the Treaty of Medicine Creek was negotiated, which separated the reservation for the tribes. However, for the Nisquali tribe, their reservation was located on rocky high ground that was unsuitable for farming and cut them off from access to the river, which provided their mainstay of livelihood, salmon.
In 1855, Nisqually Chief Leschi traveled to the regional capital at Olympia to protest the terms of the treaty; But he failed. Lieutenant James McAllister convinced acting governor Charles Mason that Leschi was causing trouble with the other Indians. Mason responded by sending McAllister’s militia unit, the Rangers of Eaton, headed by Captain Charles Eaton, to Chief Leschi to take his brother Kwimuth into “protective custody” and deliver him to Olympia.
In October 1855, Captain Charles Eaton and his civilian militia – “Eton’s Rangers”, caught up with Nisqually, and a battle ensued in which two militiamen, Joseph Miller and Abram Benton Moses, were killed. Upon hearing the news, Governor Stevens immediately sent more troops to find Chief Leschi and bring him in. However, before the arrival of the militia, Chief Leschi received word that they were following him and he and his brother, Quimuth, fled.
However, when the militia was confronted by Nisqually, a fight broke out and two soldiers named Abram Benton Moses and Joseph Miles (or Miller) were killed. Although Leschi was not there either, enraged regional officials blame her for the murders and the search for Leschi will be set in motion. The chief will remain at large for about a year. Meanwhile, Stevens declared martial law on Pierce County on April 2, 1856. (This declaration later led to him being charged with contempt of court, however, as governor he pardoned himself.)
The battle itself consisted of a series of small skirmishes with relatively few deaths on either side. Notable fighting took place in present-day Tacoma, Seattle, and even as far east as Walla Walla.
Although limited in its magnitude, territorial impact, and losses in terms of lives, the conflict is often remembered in connection with the Battle of Seattle, which took place in January 1856, and for the execution of a central figure of the war, Nisqually Chief Leschi. On February 19, 1858. The contemporary Yakima War may account for some of the events of the Puget Sound War and it was never clear whether people at the time made a strong distinction between the two conflicts.
A landmark court convened in Pierce County, Washington on December 10, 2004, “as a legal combatant of the Indian War … Leschi must not be held accountable under the law for the death of an enemy soldier,” thus Freed him from any wrongdoing.
Puget Sound War