Edward J. Steptoe and the Indian Wars

Life on the Frontier, 1815–1865


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About the Book

Lieutenant Colonel Edward J. Steptoe’s escape from encirclement by 1,000 Northern Plateau Indians in 1858 is a familiar story from the Indian Wars. Yet the details of the Battle of Pine Creek (or Tohotonimme) and its aftermath remain subjects of debate. Outnumbered six to one, Steptoe’s 164 troops slipped away in the night. Newspapers called it a “disaster.” A few weeks later, Colonel George Wright avenged the defeat and Steptoe, who had suffered a stroke months before the battle, lived his final years in relative obscurity in his native Virginia as the Civil War erupted.
This definitive biography of Steptoe chronicles the career of a field officer who served nearly four years in the Second Seminole War, won commendation for gallantry during the Mexican War, performed admirably (though controversially) in the Utah Territory, undertook construction of forts at Walla Walla in the newly defined Washington Territory and engaged with various tribes throughout his deployments. His personal letters reveal a thoughtful, sensitive commander who came to question his choice of career even before his final battle.

About the Author(s)

Ron McFarland, the author of more than 20 books, is a professor of English at the University of Idaho.

Bibliographic Details

Ron McFarland
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 260
Bibliographic Info: 13 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6232-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2388-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Preface 1

One. Privileged Boyhood 7

Two. At West Point 20

Three. In Florida: The Second Seminole War 39

Four. In Mexico 64

Five. The Gunnison Affair 92

Six. In the Washington Territory: Building Forts at Walla Walla 120

Seven. “Chapter of Accidents” 146

Eight. Last Years 179

Epilogue: Legacy 189

Chapter Notes 201

Bibliography 225

Index 235

Book Reviews & Awards

“a deftly presented and inherently fascinating read that will be especially appreciated by American military and western history buffs…strongly recommended”—Midwest Book Review.