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C.E.S. Wood

As a young West Point graduate, Charles Erskine Scott Wood fought in the tragic Nez Perce War of 1877. And he’s credited with recording Chief Joseph’s famous surrender speech. Artist, writer, civic leader and prominent Portland attorney CES Wood left a lasting legacy.

Charles Erskine Scott Wood was a true Renaissance man whose life and career bridged the 19th & 20th Centuries. As a young West Point graduate, Lt. Wood traveled west, first to engage in Alaskan adventures, then to fight in the tragic Nez Perce War of 1877.

The heart of this program tells the story of Wood’s experiences in that campaign, his role in recording Chief Joseph’s famous speech at war’s end, and his subsequent friendship with Joseph, a friendship that continues to this day between the Wood family and the Nez Perce Tribe. After leaving the U.S. Army and obtaining a law degree, C.E.S. Wood settled in Portland and became a larger than life figure in the life of the young city. Poet, essayist, painter, patron of the arts, civic leader, free speech advocate and defender of radical activists, Wood also played a key role in creating some of Portland’s major institutions, such as the first library and the Portland Art Museum.

Subsequently, Wood and Sara Bard Field, a poet and suffragist who would become his second wife, moved to the San Francisco Bay area, where they influenced many notable Americans. During the height of his career, Wood was a national figure, yet he left his most significant legacy in Portland.



Selected Books by C.E.S. Wood

A Book of Indian Tales

Heavenly Discourse

Maia. A Sonnet Sequence

A Masque of Love

The Poet in the Desert

Poems from the Ranges

Too Much Government


Books by Erskine Wood

Days with Chief Joseph

Life of Charles Erskine Scott Wood


Books about C.E.S. Wood

Charles Erskine Scott Wood

Life of Charles Erskine Scott Wood: A Renaissance Man

Soldier to Advocate: C.E.S. Wood’s 1877 Legacy

Two Rooms: The Life of Charles Erskine Scott Wood

Wood Works: The Life and Writings of Charles Erskine Scott Wood


Books about Nanny Moale Smith Wood

Nanny Wood: From Washington Belle to Portland’s Grande Dame


Web Sites

The Gift Horse Ceremony

Lewis & Clark College Digital Archives

Nez Perce National Historic Park

Nez Perce Information

Broadcast Date: February 11, 2007

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