The one-armed Union general who was tasked with overseeing the welfare of former slaves after the Civil War is the same man to whom Chief Joseph surrendered in his famous “I will fight no more forever” speech.
General Oliver Otis Howard was known for his piety, won the Medal of Honor, and headed the Freedman’s Bureau from 1865 to 1874. He was seen as being supportive of the rights of black Americans, but at odds with President Johnson’s wishes in the early years. He later helped found Howard University.
After Reconstruction of the South collapsed in the early 1870s, much of the American Army was sent west to subdue Indian tribes just as it had subdued the rebellion. In 1877, Howard was the persistent pursuer to Chief Joseph’s escape artistry over 1,200 miles of the Pacific Northwest. The Nez Perce went into exile, while Howard served as superintendent of West Point.