Clearwater Battlefield

The Clearwater Battlefield is interpreted at a roadside pullout on the west side of Idaho Highway 13, approximately 2 miles south of Stites, Idaho. The battle site itself is located on private property, making it inaccessible to the public. The battlefield is associated with the 1877 Nez Perce War. In pursuit of the Nez Perce, General Howard met the nontreaty bands at Clearwater Battlefield on July 12, but he failed to subdue them.

During the Nez Perce War of 1877, most of the army movements of the Clearwater Battle occurred on a broad plateau immediately east and southeast of Stites. Much of the battle area is now cultivated. The Nez Perce occupied the ravines, which are uncultivated land. The stone rifle pits and barricades raised by the Nez Perce are still present in a collapsed state, as is the smoking lodge used by the old men at various stages of the fighting. At least one Nez Perce burial reportedly occurred on the site. A sense of the large size of the battlefield has been retained through modern agricultural use. The Nez Perce village site across the Clearwater River from the present interpretive pullout is used for agriculture.

After the Clearwater battle on the heights above here, July 11-12, 1877, the Nez Perce Indians crossed the Lolo Trail to Montana.

Advancing northward along the high ground with 600 troops and artillery, General Howard found the Indian camp on the flat across the river. But 24 brave Nez Perce blocked his advance and 100 more pinned him in rifle pits for a day. Then the Nez Perce, camp and all, moved slowly northward past Kamiah, while Howard followed without fighting. There the Nez Perce decided to move east away from the troops.