"I highly recommend that any serious student of the Nez Perce Campaign read this excellent and rich piece of work... " --Otis Halfmoon (Nez Perce)
"George Venn's work is a superb contribution to our knowledge of the Nez Perce War... "--Jerome A. Greene, author of Nez Perce Summer, 1877
"Thank you for that wonderful publication, Soldier To Advocate
. It's rich, rich, rich, and I congratulate you." --Alvin Josephy, author of The Nez Perce Indians and the Opening of the Pacific Northwest
"In this carefully researched, richly illustrated presentation of Lieutenant C. E. S. Wood’s Nez Perce War diary, George Venn offers readers a compelling introduction to a most unusual army officer. Wood appeals to us because of his modern sensibilities, compassion for the enemy, and generosity of spirit. His diary demonstrates the terrible cost of war. His life represents the potential for redemption. Wood experienced the dark side of conquest and tried to make amends -- a legacy his descendants carry on today."
--Sherry L. Smith, Southern Methodist University, author of Reimagining Indians: Native Americans through Anglo Eyes, 1880-1940
In Soldier to Advocate George Venn integrates over ninety sources from archives, museums, photo collections, and contemporary authorities across America. In Part I the story begins with a passionate 1874 West Point romance and a personal conflict: 2nd Lieutenant Charles Erskine Scott Wood (1852-1944) wants to be a lover and a writer, not a bachelor and a soldier. Nevertheless, after graduation, the Army sends the single and talented Wood to the west coast, and eventually to Vancouver Barracks near Portland. There, in April, 1877, his commander and friend General Oliver Otis Howard grants his literary friend Wood the privilege of exploring the Northwest Coast.
“In Pursuit of Joseph” by Vincent Colyer from Harper’s Weekly, August 18, 1877.
In Part II lies the centerpiece of this book: Wood’s 1877 diary from his adventures in Alaska and his early weeks in Idaho and the Nez Perce War. Transcribed, complete (for the first time), and richly annotated, this text is enhanced by eighteen of Wood’s recently discovered 1877 drawings. Pen and ink sketches of Nez Perces, soldiers, and battles, Wood leaked his drawings to the New York press -- the only eyewitness images of the Nez Perce war. To give readers more vivid context throughout, Venn includes forty additional 19th century images, including photos of Chief Joseph and Wood’s families.
“Camp of Nez Perce on the Clearwater River,” C.E.S. Wood,
New York Daily Graphic, August 16, 1877, page 1
To show Wood’s transformation from soldier to Nez Perce advocate, Part III traces Wood’s lifetime of conflicted prose and poetry both defending Chief Joseph and defending, then finally opposing General Howard. Using published and unpublished texts from 1877 to 1939, this chapter includes five of Wood’s war poems, a Nez Perce myth he collected and transcribed, and newly transcribed letters by Chief Joseph, Wood, and General Howard.
“Captives of Joseph’s Band Coming Into Miles’ Camp.” C.E.S.Wood,
New York Daily Graphic, Nov. 3, 1877, 1
Bolstered throughout by nearly two hundred notes, Part IV concludes the story in the 1990's with eleven unpublished original photos. Accompanied by a rich narrative, these photos document three events in the Wood family’s legacy of friendship and respect for the Nez Perces: a Nez Perce -- C.E.S. Wood exhibition, their gift of a stallion to Chief Joseph’s descendents, and both families’ participation in the Red Heart Memorial Ceremony at Fort Vancouver.
In Soldier to Advocate, Wood shows us all, to paraphrase James Joyce, that history is the nightmare from which we should always try to awake.
Data: 108 pages (8.5" x 11") 27 drawings/ illustrations, 54 photos and map. $20 + $3 S & H
by mail to Wordcraft of Oregon, LLC, P.O. Box 3235, La Grande, OR 97850;
download and complete order form on line at: wordcraftoforegon.com