St. Mary's Mission with later addition.

As we rode into Stevensville the loud barking of the dogs brought out all the inhabitants still remaining in the place.... On reaching the Mission, surrounded by the teepees of Charlo's band of Flatheads, I was hospitably received by the priest in charge.... The head priest of the mission, Father R. [Ravalli], had been confined for a long time previous to his bed by illness, from which he was not yet recovered.... I was glad to receive an invitation to visit him in his chamber...

He gave me a great deal of information in regard to the Nez Perces, who had remained in this vicinity for some days, frequently visiting the town and freely trading with the inhabitants. In the course of conversation he asked me "how many troops I had.". . . I answered in a general way, "About two hundred." — Ah," said the old man, "you must not attack them, you have not enough. They are bad Indians, they are splendid shots, are well armed, have plenty of ammunition, and have at least two hundred and sixty warriors."

Col. John Gibbon

Father Ravalli's advice would prove to be very sound. Although 260 was an overestimate of the number of Nez Perce warriors, they were in fact "splendid shots," and that accuracy worked to their advantage five days later during the Battle of the Big Hole.

Colonel Gibbon visited Father Ravalli at the log house just north of the church which was his living quarters and pharmacy. At that time, St. Mary's Church was about two-thirds its present size.



The Nez Perce Flight to Canada - An Introduction

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