The Whitman Massacre took place on November 29th, 1847.
The killings of Marcus Whitman, his wife, and eleven others is also referred to as the Tragedy at Waiilatpu by the National Park Service. The attack lasted several days, with most of the killings taking place on the first day.
What led up to the attack on the Whitman’s?
In 1836 Marcus Whitman M.D. and his wife Narcissa Prentiss Whitman started a Protestant mission on Cayuse land near the Walla Walla River at Waiilatpu. The Cayuses and Whitmans were cordial at one time. Tribal members celebrated the birth of the Whitman’s daughter, Alice Clarissa in 1837. In 1839, Alice Clarissa drowned.
Whitman turned away from helping the tribe to supporting white settlers.
The Cayuse watched as thousands of settlers traveled through their country using up firewood, killing game without permission, and adding outbuildings to the mission. The Cayuses wanted the Whitmans and settlers to leave.
An epidemic of measles broke out in the community.
Nearly half of the Indian population living near the Whitman Mission died. More than a dozen white people became ill. Only one died. Marcus Whitman was called to treat the wife of a Cayuse head chief. The chief told Whitman he would kill him if his wife died. She survived, but others didn’t.
The attack on Whitman Mission occurred on November 29th, 1847.
A group of Cayuses armed with clubs tomahawks, and guns pushed their way into the Mission. Marcus Whitman was attacked with a tomahawk plunged into the back of his head. By nightfall, 9 people were dead, including the Whitmans. Narcissa was shot.
You can read in detail about the Whitman Massacre here.
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