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Battle Ground: City without a battle (1855)

The area where the city now stands was called Battle Ground several years before it was occupied by homesteaders or officially incorporated. Actually a battle never really took place in Battle Ground; it was more of a shooting with only one casualty. Here's the story.

In 1843 a group of more than 800 settlers came over the Oregon Trail to Fort Vancouver, the first of many who would follow their dreams to the Pacific Northwest. By the 1850s settlements were mostly near the fort and other Columbia and Willamette river sites.

With more and more settlers arriving in the region, nearby Indian tribes became restless. 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 the regulars were away fighting the Indians. Fearing that the friendly Klickitats on the Lewis River would join the hostiles, the volunteers ordered them into Vancouver Barracks.

Growing tired of this arrangement, some of the Klickitats quietly packed up their belongings and left. The volunteers immediately followed, overtaking the Indians at a place about ten miles from Vancouver. Although the Indians fired into the air a few times, the soldiers were able to convince them to return to the fort peacefully.

There was only one casualty: 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. Battle Ground was incorporated as a city in 1951 when provisions for water, sewer, and police and fire protection became necessary.

For more on the city of Battle Ground, visit the Web site at
www.ci.battle-ground.wa.us/

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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
E-mail: pio@clark.wa.gov

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