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Battle Ground: City without a battle (1855)

The area that is now the city was called Battle Ground several years before it was occupied by homesteaders or officially incorporated. And the name was a bit of an exaggeration. A battle didn't take place in Battle Ground; it was a shooting with one casualty. Here's the story:

In 1843, a group of more than 800 settlers traveled the Oregon Trail to Fort Vancouver. They were the first of many to arrive in the Pacific Northwest. By the 1850s, most settlements were near the fort and the Columbia and Willamette rivers.

The arrival of more and more settlers concerned nearby Indian tribes. The result was a Yakima uprising and the Indian Wars of 1855-56. A company of volunteers was organized at Vancouver to guard the fort while regulars were away fighting Indians. Fearing the friendly Klickitats on the Lewis River would join the hostiles, the volunteers ordered them into Vancouver Barracks.

But tired of the arrangement, some Klickitats quietly packed up and left. The volunteers immediately followed, overtaking them at a place about 10 miles north of Vancouver. Although some Indians fired into the air a few times, the soldiers were able to persuade them to return to the fort peacefully.

One man was killed. The Klickitats leader, Chief Umtux, was found dead. Some blamed the death on a hot-headed soldier, while others blamed the chief's own men.

Nevertheless, people began calling the area Battle Ground and when A.M. Richter platted the town in 1902, he made the name official. The city of Battle Ground was incorporated in 1951 when provisions for water, sewer and police and fire protection became necessary.

For more on Battle Ground, visit the city's website at

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Street address: 1300 Franklin Street, Floor 6, Vancouver, WA 98660
Mailing address: P.O. Box 5000, Vancouver, WA 98666-5000
Main phone: (360) 397-6012 | FAX: (360) 397-6015

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