William Henry Harrison.

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which they made in February or they had been induced to
adopt other politics in consequence of the probability of War
between the United States and Great Britain. Messrs [John]


Shaw and [William] Wells have I presume informed you of
the Grounds which they have for believing that they are again
organizing a force for hostile purposes and I have now to com-
municate a most distressing and unequivocal proof of the exist-
ence of this disposition. On Saturday evening last a Mrs.
Hutsons family consisting of his wife four small children and
a hired man residing in the Illinois Territoiy about 35 miles
above this place, was most cruelly murdered. The house was
set on fire with the bodies of the woman and children in it
and the young man whose body was most shockingly mangled
left in the yard. There were only three Indians in the party.
A detacliment of Rangers are in pursuit of them but there is
little probability of their being overtaken. I shall endeavour
to asscertain the tribe to which these scoundrels belong but
I have no hopes of their being delivered up. One of the most
mischievious and successful of the Prophets schemes is that
of destroying the influence of the Chiefs amongst the Potto-
wattimies and Kickapoos particularly. The young men are
under no kind of control, each man does as he pleases, and we
have in my opinion no alternative but War. The propriety of
its being undertaken immediately and prosecuted with vigor
is an opinion which pervades I believe the whole Western
Country. In Kentucky and in this Territory I know that it
does. The circumstance of some of the tribes being friendly
and others not so will occasion great embarressment,

I hope to receive instructions upon this subject and the
course that is to be pursued as early as possible. I shall pro-
ceed to put the frontiers in the best possible state of defence
but no defensive measures can possibly be effectual against
Indians. I observe that the President is authorized^to call out
any number of Militia but I suppose that ordinary Militia is
meant. For such expeditions as an Indian War calls for (un-
less it is intended to take possession of any particular point
or to occupy the county by a chain of posts) mounted men are
absolutely necessary, of these I am authorized to say that as
many as may be wanted could be procured in Kentucky and
Tennessee in three weeks notice.

I shall execute your wishes with regard to the removal of
Wells as soon as possible. At present he is engaged in effect-
ing a meeting of the Indians at Mississineway under the
auspices of the Turtle and the Five Medals. As these two


chiefs are particularly friendly to Wells and are certainly and
unequivocally on our side it would I imagine be bad policy to
remove him at this moment.

I have the honor to be Sir With great respect you
Most Obt. Servt.

William Henry Harrison

P. S. The captain of the Rangers or some other person there
should be authorized to discharge men of that corps who are
unfit for the service. It requires the best men and for the
price that is given the best can be got. In spite of the
vigilance of the officers some of a contrary description will be

Honble. Wm. Eustis Esq. Secretary of War

Harrison to Secretary of War

ViNCENNES 15th April, 1812

„ Ha/r. Pa. 603, 60^


Last evening an Express arrived here with the letter of
which the enclosed is a copy, [April 13 above] — the Driftwood
Settlement [Vallonia] ^ mentioned in it, is upon the South East
Branch of the white river about 75 miles nearly due East
from this place; the object of the Hostile Indians in commit-
ting murders in that direction is beyond all doubt to impli-
cate the Delawares. I am really much embarrassed to know
what steps it would be proper to take, to preserve the neutral-
ity of that tribe and the Miamis. The one which appears to
me most practicable is to get them to occupy the whole coun-
try, from the main branch of White River to the Boundary
established by the Grouseland Treaty and oblige them to un-
dertake to prevent the hostile Indians from committing any
depredations in that direction. Something like this must be
done or they must be entirely withdrawn from their present

I take the liberty to assure you, Sir, that there is not the
least necessity for two companies of Rangers in the state of

1. Vallonia was settled by Kentuckians and Burr refuKees in 1810. There were
between 30 and 40 families in the settlement by 1812. For details of the Indian fight-
ing on this frontier see Ind. Mag. of Hist. X, 256; Brownstown Banner Aug. 26, 1874;
History of Jackson County, 316; and best, John Ketcham, Autobiography. Ketchara
was one of the first settlers and writes from personal knowledge. [See end of 1812


Ohio, only a small point of their Frontier (in the neighbor-
hood of Greenville) is approachable by the hostile Indians.
No just apprehensions can be entertained of the Shawanoes
on the Auglaize or the Wyandots of Sandusky —

I have the honor to be with great respect . ^^ ., ^ _

Sir, your humble Servant, ■'' "' ' <-y = >

William Henry Harrison

P. S. 9 o'clock. An express has this moment arrived from
Fort Harrison w^ith the letter of which the enclosed is a copy.
[April 14 above] There is no doubt but the Little Eyes
therein mentioned was in the action and has long been in the
interest of the prophet. His object is to force his tribe (the
Miamis) to take a decided part on the same side.

Honorable William Eustis, Esqr. Secretary of War

Harrison General Orders
Headquarters, Vincennes 16th April, 1812

Ind. Mag. of History II, 185

As the late murders upon the frontiers of this and the
neighboring Territories leave us little to hope of our being able
to avoid a war with the neighboring tribes of Indians, the
commander-in-chief directs that the colonels and other com-
mandants of corps should take immediate measures to put
their commands in the best possible state for active service.
The field officers who command battalions will visit and crit-
ically inspect the several companies which compose them and
make a report in detail of their situation, particularly noting
the deficiencies in arms, ammunition and accoutrements, and
such measures as the laws authorize must be immediately
taken to remedy those deficiencies. The commander-in-chief
informs the officers that the most prompt obedience and the
most unremitting attention to their duty will be required of
them — the situation of the country calls for exertion on the
part of the militia, and the officers must set the example to
their men. If there are amongst them any who have accepted
appointments for the mere motive of gratifying their vanity
by the possession of a commission to which a title is annexed,
without having the ability or the inclination to encounter
arduous service, in justice to their country and to their own
fame they should now retire and not stand in the way of


those who are more able or more willing to encounter the
fatigue and danger incident to actual service in the Indian
war. From the specimen which the commander-in-chief has
had of their conduct in the field he has every reason to be
proud of them, nor does he believe that there are better militia
officers to be found anywhere than those of Indiana, but in a
crisis like the present they should be all good.

The field officers are to see that proper places are appointed
for the rendezvous of the companies upon an alarm or the
appearance of danger, and will give orders relatively to the
mode of their proceeding in such exigencies as the situation
of the companies respectively call for. When mischief is done
by the Indians in any of the settlements, they must be pur-
sued, and^the officer nearest to the spot, if the number of men
under his command is not inferior to the supposed number of
the enemy, is to commence it as soon as he can collect his men.
If his force should be too small he is to send for aid to the
next officer to him, and in the meantime take a position capa-
ble of being defended, or watch the motions of the enemy,
as circumstances require. The pursuit must be conducted
with vigor, and the officer commanding will be held respon-
sible for making every exertion in his power to overtake the
enemy. Upon his return, whether successful or not, a partic-
ular account of his proceedings must be transmitted to the
commander-in-chief and a copy of it to the colonel of the regi-

The commander-in-chief recommends it to the citizen on the
frontiers of Knox county, from the Wabash eastwardly across
the two branches of the White river, those on the northwest
of the Wabash and those in the Driftwood settlement in Har-
rison, to erect blocked houses or picketed forts. It will depend
upon the disposition of the Delawares whether measures of
this kind will be necessary or not upon the frontiers of Clark,
Jefferson, Dearborn, Franklin or Wayne. Means will be taken
to ascertain this as soon as possible and the result communi-
cated. The Indians who profess to be friendly have been
warned to keep clear of the settlements, and the commander-
in-chief is far from wishing that the citizens should run any
risk by admitting any Indians to come amongst them whose
designs are in the least equivocal. He recommends, however
to those settlements which the Delawares have frequented as


much forbearance as possible towards that tribe, because they
have ever performed with punctuality and good faith their
engagements with the United States, and as yet there is not
the least reason to doubt their fidelity. It is also certain that
if they should be forced to join the other tribes in war, from
their intimate knowledge of the settlements upon the frontiers
they would be enabled to do more mischief than any other

By the commander-in-chief

A. Hurst, Aid-de-camp

Snelling to Harrison

Fort Harrison, April 16, 1812

Ha/r. Pa. 608, 610


I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Ex-
cellencies letter of yesterday. You must. Sir, have misunder-
stood me if you conceived I thought it necessaiy for Capt.
[Parmenius] Beckes to stay at the post, my reason for advis-
ing his waiting your orders here was, I imagined from the
alarming reports I heard on my arrival, that you might think
it necessary to detach him in a different direction from his
original destination, this opinion was afterwards confirmed by
a report of Negro Legs who informed me that the night before
he was continually disturbed by the barking of dogs round
his camp and in the morning he discovered a large trail going
towards the settlements. Sergt. [Daniel] Baldwin who ar-
rived the evening of the 13th also reported that he saw on the
lower prairie three Indians who fled at the approach of his
party and concealed themselves in the woods. In the after-
noon of the 16th [?] I sent for the Wea Chiefs who were em-
camped on the creek five miles above, informed them of the
murders committed on the other side and required that they
should take such measures as were in their power to discover
the murderers which they promised to do. I then spoke to them
of the depredations on this side, affected to believe they were
committed by the young men without their knowledge, repre-
sented the absolute necessity of restraining them, told them
that next to murder the white people considered a violation
of their property the greatest crime and that should they per-


sist in such practices they would inevitably be killed. They
seemed to agree in opinion that the robberies were committed
by Little Eyes and a party which went off with him a few days
since but I am sorry to say that although my speech was de-
livered with all the gi*avity the occasion required it was treated
by them with levity I never before witnessed. Laprousier
particularly affected to ridicule the idea of killing them for
stealing and frequently interrupted INIonsieur Broulette with
bursts of laughter. Negro Legs was much disturbed but
spoke little and appeared to be veiy ill. Yesterday morning
they came in great numbers to the garrison bringing appar-
ently the proceeds of their whole winters hunt which they
bartered with Broulette for such articles as he had for sale.
The Squaw of Negi'o Legs told Broulette she was sorry to see
him leave because she liked him very much and did not w^ant
the Crows to eat him which she thought would soon be the
case, he was also told by Jem to be on his guard for the
Shawanos would soon be after him. In the afternoon they
generally went off but a few of them lingered about the gate
and one attempting to pass in was stopped by the sentinel
whose gun he seized but the sentinel instantly recovered it and
gave him a severe cut across the face with the bayonet, his
comrades were much enraged and expressed their determina-
tion to have revenge saying in a few days they would return
with a great force and take the garrison, this day not an In-
dian has been seen. I have now Sir given you a minute de-
tail of the incidents which have occurred since my arrival and
your Excellency may be assured that every circumstance even
the most trifling shall be communicated to you and I shall be
extremely careful to guard against, surprises. I have the
honour to be with the highest respect Your Obt. Sen^ant

J. Snelling, Captain
His Ex. Wm. H. Harrison.

P. S. I had entirely forgotten to mention that when I in-
formed them your Excellency would pay for as many rails as
they wanted Lapresieur replied he thought they should not
want any for he believed they would not plant any this season.


Harrison to Davis Floyd

ViNCENNES 17th April 1812

Har. Pa. 615-617


Conceiving it to be a matter of great importance to keep
the Delaware Tribe faithful to the United States I have
thought it proper to send some person to them to ascertain
their present disposition and to endeavour'to arrange with the
chiefs some plan to prevent them from being forced into war
which it appears but too probable we are about to be engaged
in with most of the other tribes. I have selected you for the
purpose, the first and most desirable plan that has occurred
to my mind is that the Delawares should unite with the
Miamis, and any other of the tribes which remain faithful to
us to drive off the Prophet and his party from the Wabash and
to declare to the hostile tribes that they will not permit them
to make war on this side of the Wabash. If the disaffection
amongst the Miamis should be such as to render this plan
impracticable, or the strength of the hostile confederacy so
formidable as to render them unable to prevent them from
crossing the Wabash, it would be desirable that they should
occupy the country between the White River and the boundary
of the Grouseland treaty and undertake to prevent any depre-
dations from being committed in that quarter whilst the
Sha^vnese of the Auglaize and the Wyandots of Sandusky
should enter into the same engagements for the frontiers of
Ohio adjacent to them. There is no other mode that I can
think of which would effectually preserve their neutrality but
that of removing to their friends on the Mississippi or joining
the Sha^\^lese of the Auglaize. You will be pleased to repre-
sent to them in the strongest teiTns the anxiety of the govern-
ment to keep them clear of that ruin and destruction which
the folly and \\ickedness of the other tribes will bring upon
themselves. Their situation will however require the greatest
care and circumspection and it is particularly necessary that
they explain their intentions with the utmost frankness and
truth and that they scrupulously perfonn what they promise.
The strength of the United States particularly of the western
part of it is such that they stand in need of no assistance to
crush any combination that the Indians can form. But the
situation of the Delawares and Miamies is such that it is ab-



solutely necessary that they should adopt some plan similar to
those I have mentd. for if the hostile Indians are permitted
to pass through their country to strike our settlements, in the
pursuit of them our warriors will be unable to discriminate
and our friends will in many instances suffer for the crimes
of others at any rate our citizens who suffer from war parties
which pass in the direction of the Delawares, and Miamis
towns will become jealous of their fidelity and in all probabil-
ity will attribute depredations to them of which they may be
innocent. It is probable also that the hostile tribes will strike
our settlements in that direction for the purpose of implicat-
ing our friends and I strongly suspect that the murder lately
committed [Hinton] in the Driftwood settlement was intended
to produce that effect. [April 13, above]

You will get all the information in your power, with respect
to the designs of the Hostile tribes, and will endeavour to
make an arrangement to have information of their movements
regularly conveyed to me through some channel or other.

You will be allowed three dollars a day from the day of your
departure from home until your retura.

I am respectfully your Humbl. Servt.

Wm. H. Harrison
Major Davis Floyd

Harrison to Secretary of War

ViNCENNES, 22nd April, 1812
Har. Pa. 607


The letter from Capt. Snelling which is- herewith enclosed
[April 16, above] contains the only information of conse-
quence that I have received upon Indian affairs since my let-
ter of the fifteenth was written.

Mr. Newton E. WestfaP declines the appointment of Ensign
in the 2nd Regt. and I take the liberty to ask it for Mr.
Thomas Lawrence, a grand son of Gen. St. Clair's. I have
seen this young gentleman but once but I have sufficient
authority for saying that he is a genteel young man, intelli-

1. Newton Edward Westfall was appointed coroner of Knox county Apr. 13, 1810;
Jan. 6, 1813, he waa superseded as he had left the county. The family has been well
known about Vincennes since about 1800.

r .<../.^^

Facsimile of one of Iljinison's letters. Original is on file in
the archives of the War Dei)artment.


gent, sober and correct in his conduct. Mr. Lawrence resides
at Lawrenceburgh a post town in this territory.
I have the honor to be with great respects, Sir,
Your Humble Servant,

William Henry Harrison
The Hon. Wm. Eustis, Esqr., Secretary of War

Harrison to Secretary of War

ViNCENNES 22nd, April 1812
10 O'clock p. m.

Har. Pa. 605, 606


A colonel [John] Small has just arrived from the Settle-
ment on the Embarras River five miles west of this place Avith
the information of the murder of another family by the In-
dians about 8 o'clock this evening. A gentleman who arrived
last evening informs me that a number of Winebagos, Sacs,
Kickapoos etc. are now with Governor Edwards [of 111.] in
council at Cahokia. What faith in future can be placed in the
promises of these scoundrels or what other course is there left
for us to pursue but to make a war of exterpation upon them?
If some offensive operations are not soon commenced against
them we shall loose more of our citizens than the most bloody
battle would cost us.

I have dispatched a party of Rangers and militia in pursuit
of the Indians and I think there is a great probability that
they will be overtaken.

I send this letter after the mail carrier by a special Express.

And am with great respect

your Humble Servant

Wm. Henry Harrison
The Hon.ble. William Eustis, Esqr. Secy of War

Rec'd. May 9, 1812

Harrison to Secretary of War

ViNCENNES 29th April 1812

Har. Pa. 811-813


In a letter which I had the honor to write to you in the
night of the 22nd inst. I communicated the information which



I had just then received of the murder of a family upon the
Embarras River about 5 miles from this place. The report
proved but too true. On the succeeding day Col. [James]
Miller went to the spot with a detachment of the regular
troops and buried the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Hariyman and
five small children. A violent rain which fell the night after
these murders were committed rendered it impossible for the
detachment of mounted men which were sent in pursuit of the
Indians to discover the route they had taken.^

On the 11th inst. another family was attacked by the In-
dians a few miles from the Ohio, about 10 miles below the
yellow banks [opposite Owensboro, Ky.] and about 75 from
this place, the owner of the house [Atha Meeks] was killed
and one of his sons badly wounded. Another son however
with the assistance of the women of the family killed one of
the 3 Indians and drove off the others. I have not been able
to ascertain the Tribes to which the parties belong which have
committed any of the late murders. It appears to me how-
ever to be very evident that their design is to distract and di-
vide our attention to prevent the militia from embodying and
certainly no plan could be more successful than that which
they have fallen upon.- The murder committed near the Ohio
where I supposed that there would be no danger even in the
midst of an Indian war has so alarmed the people in that quar-
ter that it would be impossible to make the militia turn out to
march to the protection of any other place. The killing of the
men upon the Driftwood fork of White River has produced
similar affects in all the settlements eastwardly and south-
wardly of that place.

It is impossible Sir to give you an adequate Idea of the
alarm and distress which these murders have produced. The
account transmitted to you by Governor Edwards of the situa-
tion of the Illinois territory after the murders were committed
there last year affords a better picture than I can draw of the
scenes which are daily exhibited here. Families, abandoning
their homes and flying they know not whither and many of
them without any means of support, are seen in every direc-
tion. Nor is the situation of this town by any means such as
offers security to the fugitives. The expected departure of

1. For a further account of this tragedy see Adam Walker's Journal above.

2. For the details of the Meeks tragedy see Ind. Mag. of Hist. XIV, SOU and refer-
ences there given.


the regular troops and the revival of the design by the Prophet
and his Party (as communicated by Mr. Shaw) to surprise it
by a water expedition caused it to be viewed as a place of
greater danger than any other and the fugitives pass through
it as expeditiously as possible. I have formerly described to
you its situation and the impossibility of defending it with its
own militia and under the present alarm it is impossible to
get a single company nearer than the neighbourhood of the
falls of the Ohio. For offensive operations I believe the men
would turn out willingly and I understand that the People of
Kentucky and Tennessee are anxiously waiting for an order
to that effect.

The company of Rangers have been so much employed in
detachments for some time past as to allow no opportunity for
mustering them. It was however done yesterday and I have
made such a distribution of them, as appeared to me to be best
calculated to secure the settlements from surprise, I have so
placed them that the countiy to the northwest north and east
of this place in advance of all the settlements will be recon-
noitered daily for nearly one hundred and fifty miles. If they
do their duty it will be impossible for any large number of
Indians to pass them unobserved and very difficult for a small
party but there is still a considerable frontier below us and
above (through the Delaware country) that is entirely ex-
posed nor can the Rangers give us here timely notice of the
approach of an enemy by water as they can descend the Wa-
bash much faster at this season in their canoes than a horse
can travel. Conformably to the idea suggested in my letter
of the 15th inst. [see above] I have thought it proper to send
a special messenger to the Delawares I selected for the pur-
pose Major Davis Floyd who is well acquainted with the chief s
and I do myself the honor to enclose you a copy of his instruc-
tions [April 17 above] which were accidentally omitted to
be sent by the last mail. Since his departure a man of the

Online LibraryWilliam Henry HarrisonMessages and letters of William Henry Harrison (Volume 2, pt.1) → online text (page 6 of 37)