Battle Ground is a city in Clark County, Washington, United States. The population was 17,571 at the 2010 census. Between 2000 and 2005, Battle Ground ranked fourth in the state for population growth, out of 279 eligible incorporated communities. As of 2019, its population is 21,252.
Battle Ground got its name from a standoff between a group of the Klickitat peoples and a military force from the Vancouver Barracks, which had recently transitioned to a U.S. Army post. In 1855, when this occurred, members of the Klickitat peoples had been imprisoned at the Vancouver Barracks. The hostile conditions of their detainment inspired some of the Klickitat’s to decamp.
This group of Klickitat peoples headed North, led by Chief Umtuch (or Umtux, according to some accounts). When the community at Fort Vancouver discovered this escape, they assembled an armed contingent led by Captain William Strong to pursue the Klickitat’s. After great difficulty, Captain Strong’s party found the Klickitat’s near the present-day location of downtown Battle Ground.
Details of the standoff that ensued vary. However, indisputably, Chief Umtuch and Captain Strong engaged in some sort of negotiations which resulted in the Klickitats’ agreeing to return to the Barracks. After this decision though, at least one shot was fired that murdered Chief Umtuch, likely by one of Captain Strong’s soldiers.
The Klickitat asked Captain Strong to leave them alone so they could properly bury their chief. After some deliberation, Captain Strong agreed as long as the Klickitat’s promised to return to the Fort, which they did a couple of days later.
As a result of this event, settlers at the fort began to refer to that site as “Strong’s Battle Ground”, which was later shortened to “Battle Ground”.
Two currently operating schools in Battle Ground are named after Captain Strong and Chief Umtuch.