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a history of indiana from its exploration to 1850 online

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of their hunting ground to the white men. It had been
left to them by their ancestors as a common in-
heritance. The chiefs had no right to barter it Bway
for a pewter ringlet or a keg of liquor. September 30,
1809, the chiefs concluded a treaty with Harrison at
Fort Wayne, by which they deeded 3,000,000 acres of
land, a tract almost seventy miles square, for the petty
trifle of $10,000 — one-third of a cent per acre. The
Shawnees and the Wyandots, both refugee tribes, hav-
ing no claims to the ceded lands, joined in a bitter
protest, threatening to kill the chiefs who signed the
treaty, and to murder the first white men who came on
the purchased land.

Meanwhile the Prophet, or as he was sometimes
called, the Oracle, was carrying things with a high
hand at his village of Andersontown. Some of the lead-
ing men of the tribe, including the old chief were put
to death for witchcraft. Fearing an outbreak if this
Indian Mecca was not destroyed. Governor Harrison
notified the Shawnees to stop the agitation. He de-
nounced the Prophet as a fool, as an agent working
for the British at Maiden, and demanded that the
northern Indians be sent back to their homes.

The Shawnees followed the advice of the governor
and drove out the Prophet and his followers. The lat-
ter went west and settled on the north side of the
Wabash above Lafayette, near the mouth of t'he Tippe-



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208 HISTORY OF INDIANA

canoe. The governor's letter had shown Tecumseh
that his own hold on the Indians was not yet very firm.
He, accordingly, became more cautious, but continued
his work of organization by visiting the different
tribes, and cementing his alliances as best he could.
The Prophet, on the contrary, continued his work more
boldly than before in the new village. In August, 1803,
he visited Harrison at Vincennes, and succeeded in
smoothing over all their difficulties, the two parting
with friendly assurances.

The village on the Wabash, then known as the
Prophetstown, soon became a worse nuisance than
Andersontown had been. The connection with the
British became more apparent and was finally
acknowledged by the Prophet on one of his visits to
Vincennes. It was while these negotiations were going
on that the land cession at Fort Wayne was completed,
September 30, 1809. This cession amounted to a dec-
laration of war between Tecumseh and Harrison.

The warlike Wyandots were backing the Shawnee
chiefs in the contest Unmistakable signs of war ap-
I)eared on the Upper Wabash. Messenger after mes-
senger, Joseph Barron, Michael Brouillette, Touissant
Dubois, Francis Vigo, Pierre La Plante, John Connor,
William Prince, was dispatched to the tribes. All re-
ported the same restlessness and signs of war among
the red men. Warriors were breaking away from their
chiefs, leaving their tribes, and joining Tecumseh and
the Prophet^

During the summer of 1810, Governor Harrison
determined to summon Tecumseh to Vincennes for a
conference. Joseph Barron was sent with an invita-

' 2 In addition to references cited above see Jacob Piatt Dnnn,
'True Indian Stories; James R. Albach, Weaiem Annals; Charles
E. Slocum» The Ohio Country, The letters of Harrison are given
in Messages of the Governors of Indiana.



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TECUMSEH AT VINCENNES 209

tion to the Shawnee brothers to visit Vincennes and
lay their grievances before the governor. The Prophet
received the messenger coldly, denouncing him in coun-
cil as a traitor and a spy. Tecumseh, more politic
than his brother, rescued Barron from his dangerous
position and, after listening respectfully to his mes-
sage, promised to come to Vincennes immediately.

The villagers of Vincennes were surprised August
12, 1810, by the appearance among them of Tecumseh
with 400 armed warriors. The Indians showed no
signs of hostility as they went quietly into camp in
the grove at the north end of the village, near the Har-
rison home. The people who had flocked to the gov-
ernor's home to hear the eloquent Indian orator, were
in a panic until the dignified conduct of Tecumseh as-
sured them of safety. Tecumseh refused to come into
the house to hold council, and the meeting was there-
fore held under the trees in front of the governor's
mansion.

In fearless, straightforward language Tecumseh set
forth his plan of an Indian confederacy, his belief in
the common ownership of the hunting grounds, and his
determination to kill all the chiefs who had signed the
late treaty at Fort Wayne. There could be no peace
between the Indians and the whites, he declared, until
the land was ceded back. When he had finished his
speech he sat down on the ground, declining a seat be-
side the governor.

Governor Harrison, in his turn, pointed out to the
Indian that if it had been the intention of the Great
Spirit that the Indians should form one nation he
would have given them one language instead of a
score. He told Tecumseh that the Shawnees had no
claims whatever on the ceded lands, and that they
were interesting themselves where they had no busi-
ness. The lands had been purchased from the Miamis,



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210 HISTORY OF INDIANA

who owned it. The chief's eyes gleamed with anger
as he denied these statements, and charged the gov-
ernor and the President of the United States with
sharp practice toward the ignorant tribesmen. The
interpreter, Barron, thinking, perhaps mistakenly, that
one of the chief's gestures was a signal to his Indian
companions to do violence, gave the alarm. Only the
calmness of the leaders prevented bloodshed. The
council was broken up and the Indians withdrew to
their camp.

Next day Tecumseh assured the governor that no
violence had been intended by the Indians. The coun-
cil was renewed, but no progress was made in the set-
tlement of the trouble. Tecumseh and the other chiefs
present stated their determination to go on in the
course they had planned. Harrison informed them
that their demands for the return of the land could
not be considered.

Both parties retired from the council to prepare
for war. The governor called on the United States
for troops and instructions. Regulars from the forts
on the Ohio were sent to Vincennes, and the militia
were prepared for a campaign. The Indians began
to visit Canada to secure arms. Small companies
harassed the frontier, stealing horses and destroying
property. These raids brought a threat from the gov-
ernor, June 24, 1811, that unless they were promptly
stopped he would attack the Indian towns.

One month later, July 27, Tecumseh with 300 men
suddenly appeared again at Vincennes, when he again
asserted his friendly intentions. The governor, think-
ing it the plan of Tecumseh to overawe him, paraded
750 militia. After this conference in which he once
more demanded the return of the lands, Tecumseh sent
his warriors home, and, with twenty companions, set
out down the Wabash on a long mission to the south-



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HARRISON'S ARMY 211

em Indians, not to return to Indiana till war had been
begrun and his league broken.^

§ 35 Tippecanoe

Governor Harrison received orders from the
President, early in 1811, to break up the rendezvous
of the Indians on the Wabash, if he deemed it best.
Col. John P. Boyd* was ordered to transfer the Fourth
Regiment of United States troops from Pittsburg to
Louisville and report to Harrison for orders. The
governor issued a proclamation calling for volunteers.
Among the latter were many famous Indian fighters
from Kentucky — Gen. Samuel Wells, Col. Abraham
Owens, Joseph H. Daviess, Col. Frederick Geiger, Capt.
Peter Funk, and Maj. George Croghan. Captain Funk
brought a company of cavalry from Louisville.

Governor Harrison gathered up a small army of
less than 1,000 men at Vincennes, with whom he in-
tended to establish a post higher up on the Wabash.
Leaving Fort Knox, September 26, he reached the
highlands at Terre Haute, October 3. Here he began
the construction of a small fort with blockhouses at
three of its angles. The fort was completed by October
28, and properly dedicated by the eloquent Kentucky
lawyer, Jo. Daviess, who named it Fort Harrison.
This fort, which covered about an acre of ground, stood
on a bluff two miles up the river from the old Wea
village, and thirty or forty feet above the water's edge.

Here signs of Indian hostility appeared ; a sentinel
was shot, the frightened Delawares and Miamis came

8 Albach, Annals of the West, 819, seq; American State Papers,
Indian Affairs, I, 760, et passim; Rufus Blanchard, The Discovery
and Conquest of the Northicest, 242 ; J. B. Finley, Life Among the
Indians, 188; Dawson, Life of Harrison; Executive Journal of
Indiana Territory, In Publications of Indiana Historical Society,
II.

4 Percy Cross, OuerrUla Leaders of the World, has a biography
of Col. Boyd.



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212 HISTORY OF INDIANA

to assure Harrison of their own friendship, and to re-
port the war-like preparations of the Prophet A
deputation of friendly Indians was sent with a letter
to the Prophet, but no one ever returned. Col. James
Miller, the hero later at Lundy's Lane, was left in
charge of the fort

The main army left Fort Harrison, October 29,
and directed its march toward the Prophetstown. It
consisted of 910 men, 250 of whom were regulars under
Boyd, sixty volunteers from Kentucky, and 600 Indi-
ana militia. The mounted men, dragoons and riflemen,
numbering 270, were under command of Wells and
Daviess. In order to take advantage of the more open
country on the western bank, the army crossed to the
west side of the Wabash near the present town of
Montezuma.* The deep gorge of Pine creek was ap-
proached with care for here Clark had found the In-
dians in 1780, as had Hamtramck in 1790. No Indians
were seen, however, and the army marched on un-
molested till it came within six miles of the Prophets-
town. Indians then began to hover on the flanks of
the army, so that the commander deemed it necessary
to march in line of battle with front, flanks, and rear
protected by scouts. The interpreters tried in vain to
engage the Indians in conversation. Dubois undertook
to carry a message to the town but the threatening
attitude of the savages drove him back. The army was
within a mile of the town, marching directly upon it,
when the Indians came out and begged for a confer-
ence. After friendly greetings were interchanged,
Harrison assured them of his readiness to go into coun-
cil, if a suitable place for a camp could be found. A
high point of ground on the banks of Burnett creek,
one mile northwest of the Indian village, was pointed

6 J. Wesley Whicker, In the Attica Ledger-Press, Augnst 14,
1914; Elmore Barce, 'Tecumseh's Conspiracy" In Indiana Maga-
zine of History, 1915.



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BATTLE OF TIPPECANOE 213

out. There, after exchanging promises with the chiefs
that no fighting should be engaged in till the morrow,
Harrison led his army into camp. The site selected
was an admirable place for a permanent camp, but
not easily guarded against an Indian surprise. Low
ground, covered with tall grass, willows, and vines,
surrounded it. It was, doubtless, the best camp site
in the whole neighborhood. Harrison was not put off
his guard by the promises of the Indians. He disposed
his little army in a hollow square, conforming his
lines to the sides of the highland, with pickets far out
in all directions. All necessary orders were given in
anticipation of a night attack. The men took their
positions in line and slept on their arms. The night
was dark, and a drizzly rain fell at intervals.

All was different in the camp of the red men.
Women and children made hasty preparations to flee
for their lives if the Indian attack should fail. Tra-
dition has it that the Prophet called his warriors to
council, brought out the Magic Bowl, the Medean Fire,
and the String of Sacred Beans. The touch of these
talismans, he said, made the warrior invulnerable.
After a trance and a vision, he told them the time
for the destruction of the white men had come; the
Great Spirit was ready to lead them; and he would
protect the warrior from the bullet of the paleface.
The war-song and the dance followed, till, in a fit of
frenzy, the warriors seized their weapons and rushed
out, a leaderless mob, to attack the Americans.

The American soldiers lay quietly on their guns,
few of the militia slept, till about four o'clock in the
morning when the sharp crack of a sentry's rifle awoke
them. The plan of the Indians had been to creep on
the sentinels, tomahawk them, and then rush from all
sides on the camp. It was Harrison's habit, when in
the Indian country, to call his troops to arms about
four o'clock, and keep them in line till broad day-light.



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214 mSTORY OF INDIANA

On the morning of November 7, he was just pulling on
his boots, preparatory to having the army roused, when
the attack was made. The Indian army, perhaps 700
strong, rose from the grass and with a yell rushed
on the camp. Many of them broke through the con-
fused lines only to be killed instantly by the roused
soldiers. Most of the white men received the attack
in line, but a few were not awakened in time. The
campfires were put out and in the dim morning twi-
light the two armies engaged in a deadly struggle,
hand-to-hand in places, in places separated by ten or
twenty yards. The general mounted a horse and rode
to the spot where the attack was hottest, ordered the
reserves to the points hardest pressed, and watched
over the battle as best he could. The lines were main-
tained until daylight showed where the Indians were.
Then attacking parties were formed and a few well
directed charges drove the Indians away. Their attack
had failed ; partly for want of a leader, for had a man
like Little Turtle commanded the Indians it would have
gone hard with the white men; partly on account of
the skill of General Harrison and the remarkable be-
havior of his men, many of whom had never been
under fire before.

The victory had been won at heavy cost; Colonel
Owen was shot as he rode with the commander toward
the point of the first attack ; Captain Spencer, his first
and second lieutenants, and Captain Warrick, all fell
in this first onslaught; Jo. Daviess was killed in an
attempt to raise the Indians by a cavalry charge ; Capt.
W. C. Baen, Lieut. Eichard McMahan, Thomas Berry,
Thomas Eandolph, and Col. Isaac White also fell.
Thirty-seven men lay dead on the field, and twenty-
five more died from their wounds within a short time.
One hundred and twenty-six were wounded, including
Colonels Bartholomew and Decker, and Lieutenants
Peters and Gooding. The numbers of the Indians



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THE INDIANS IN ARMS 215

engaged were never learned. Thirty-eight dead war-
riors were left on the field.

The next day after the battle Harrison gathered
up his battered army, and, after destroying the
Prophetstown with all its supplies, made his way slow-
ly back to Vincennes, reaching Fort Knox, Novem-
ber 18.«

§ 36 Indian War on the Frontier

The defeat of the Prophet broke up his town at
the mouth of the Tippecanoe. Leaving the Wabash
tribes, among whom he was thoroughly discredited, he
started on a long tour among the Pottawattomies,
Eickapoos, and Winnebagoes. As a result of his work,
bands of these Indians appeared on the remote fron-
tier. Murders were committed at Chicago, and along
the west side of the Wabash. Nearly all the advanced
settlements were abandoned, the settlers falling back
on the more populous communities. Governor Harri-
son gave orders, April 16, 1812, to the militia to hold
themselves in readiness for immediate action.

Little Turtle, the aged chief of the Miamis, sent
word from his home near Fort Wayne that the Mi-
amis still stood by their treaty vow of friendship,
though English agents were among them urging them
on to war. The Delawares likewise renewed their
pledge of friendship.

B. F. Stickney, the Indian agent at Fort Wayne,
reported that a grand council of all tribes met on the
Mississinewa, May 21, 1812. Twelve tribes were rep-
resented. The council lasted two days. English agents

6 Harrison's official report Is given in full in American State
Papers, Indian Affairs, I, 776; Albach, Annals of the West, 835;
VUes Rcffister, I, 238; Capt. Alfred Plrtle, The Battle of Tippe-
canoe, FHlson Cluh Publications, No. 15; Indiana Magazine of His-
tory, II. contains the journalfl of John Tipton and Isaac Naylor,
both present at the battle.



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216 HISTORY OF INDIANA

again urged the tribes to united war, but all the In-
dian speakers expressed opposition to a renewal of
the struggle. These agents urged the Indians to visit
Maiden, where they would be presented with arms and
ammunition. Stickney wrote that bands of Indians
were passing Fort Wayne every day on the way to
or from Maiden. The Pottawattomie chief, Marpack»
collected an army of hostile savages in the forest south
of Detroit This army seems to have been provisioned
and armed by the English at Maiden.

Meanwhile the frontier of Indiana was put in a
state of defense. A row of blockhouses, or forts as
they were called by the settlers, was constructed from
Vincennes to Greenville. From May to August, always
a time of great scarcity among the Indians, little dam-
age was done on the border, but all were fearful of
outbreaks as soon as the roasting-ear season opened*

In the meantime war was declared with England
and Gen. William Hull, governor of Michigan, was
sent to Detroit with a United States army.

The first blow of the Indian war was destined to
fall on Fort Dearborn, where Chicago is now. On
August 7, 1812, Capt Nathan Heald received orders
from G^eral Hull to evacuate the fort and join the
general at Detroit Winnamac, a friendly Pottawat-
tomie chief, the bearer of the dispatch, advised Captain
Heald not to leave the fort The Indians, as Winna-
mac well knew, were on the warpath. Captain Heald,
in defiance of the advice of everybody, distributed
his goods to the Indians, destroyed his ammunition and
guns, dismantled the fort, and set out on the march
to Fort Wayne. Captain William Wells with a relief
party of friendly Miamis came just in time to join in
the retreat

As all but the rish commander expected, the little
garrison, and women and children accompanying it,
were attacked as soon as they were well out of the



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SIEGE OF FORT WAYNE 217

fort. Fifty-two men, women, and children were killed
and twenty-eight capturedJ Captain Heald showed
in this affair about the same judgment and ability as
his superior, General Hull, did in the surrender of
Detroit the next day. These two disasters left Indiana
exposed to the full brunt of the Indian attack. The
storm broke along the whole frontier in early Sep-
tember.8

The massacre of the garrison at Fort Dearborn
was the signal for a general uprising among the north-
western Indians. Only a few Miamis and Delawares,
under the influence of Little Turtle, remained friendly
to the whites. Blackbird, who had led in the massacre
at Fort Dearborn, pushed on rapidly toward Fort
Wayne with his Indian army. The fall of Macinac,
Fort Dearborn, and Detroit destroyed all American
authority among the Indians. Tecumseh hurried from
tribe to tribe urging union in action. All were to
join in one grand attack to sweep the invaders across
theOhia

The British general, Henry Procter, assisted Te-
cimiseh in planning the attack. September 1 was the
time set when the attack should be delivered at Forts
Wayne and Harrison. Major Muir with a small force
of British regulars was to march up the Maumee and
assist at the capture of Fort Wayne.

The garrison at the latter fort numbered about
seventy, under the command of Capt. James Rhea.
The fort also contained four small cannon. As early
as August 28, parties of savages were seen loafing
around in the neighborhood. Their purpose no doubt
was to take advantage of any opportunity that might
be offered to kill any soldiers that might stray too

7 MIlo Qnalfe^ Chicago and the Old Northwest, index ; a mana-
Bcript letter by W. J. Jordan, an officer under Heald, throws light
on the manacre.

9Hi$torioal BegUier, II, ch. I, No. 15.



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218 HISTORY OF INDIANA

far from the fortifications. The Miamis in the neigh-
borhood still professed friendship and tried several
times to gain admission to the fort

All tricks having failed, fhe Indians opened fire
on the sentinels of Fort Wayne on the night of Sep-
tember 5. An ambush cleverly planned on the morn-
ing of September 6 resulted in the death of two sol-
diers of the garrison. That night a direct assault was
made on the fort in which, although about 600 strong,
the red men were beaten back from the palisades with-
out loss or damage to the garrison. The next scheme
was to frighten the garrison by means of a Quaker
battery which they constructed and placed in position
during the night. An Indian flag the next morning an-
nounced to the amused garrison that the British had
sent a battery, and unless the fort was surrendered
immediately it would be battered down and the gar-
rison put to the torture. There was perfect quiet then
for three dajrs, at the end of which time the Indians
again resumed firing, which they continued briskly
for twelve hours. On the following day the soldiers
were startled by a frightful war-whoop resounding
from all parts of the surrounding forest Another
desperate but fruitless assault followed.

General Harrison, who was stationed over at
Piqua, Ohio, with an army, had sent Maj. William
Oliver to notify the garrison that he was on his w^ay
with relief. Oliver reached the fort after some re-
markable feats of daring, and it was the news he
brought that nerved the little garrison through the
seven days' battle. At the approach of the reinforce-
ments, September 12, the Indians retired.®

For the purpose of terrorizing the border and pre-

9Blanchard, Discovery and Conquest of the Northwest, 289;
Benson J. Losslng, Pictorial Field Book of War of 1812, 315;
Historical Register, II, ch. 3, No. 2; Wallace A. Bryce, History of
Fort Wayne; Mann Butter, History of Kentucky.



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PIGEON ROOST MASSACRE 219

venting any aid being sent to Fort Wayne or Fort Har-
rison, a band of warriors penetrated tiie forests to the
Pigeon Roost Settlement in the northern part of what
is now Scott county, September 3. Two men hunting
on the outskirts of the little community were murdered.
The Indians then fell on the unprotected settlement
and killed, within one hour, another man, five women,
and sixteen children. The murders were accompanied
by all the cruelty of which the Indians were capable.
William CoUings, a man past 60 years of age, de-
fended his house successfully against the cowardly
wretches.

The Clark county militia were immediately called
out and proceeded to the Pigeon Roost Settlement.
Next day two companies of militia followed the trail
of the Indians till dark, but gave it up. The Indians,
numbering more than a dozen, were thus allowed to
escape without punishments^*

At almost the same hour when 'Payne and Coffman,
the hunters, were killed at the Pigeon Roost, two work-
men were killed near Fort Harrison. The next day
a party of Indians, chiefs from the Winnebago, Kickar
poo, Pottawattomie, and Shawnee tribes, came to the
fort and asked the commander, Capt Zachary Taylor,
for a conference the next day. They were from the
Prophetstown, and Taylor suspected at once that they
were on the warpath.

The next. Captain Taylor heard of them was when
he was awakened at eleven o'oclock that night by the
report of a sentinel's rifle. The captain rushed out
of his quarters to find that the Indians had fired the
blockhouse at the lower comer of the fort Of ihe

10 Charles Martindale, Publications of Indiana Histarioal 8<h
defy, II; Dillon, History of Indiana, 402; Good accounts are In
Western Sun, September 26 and October 6, 1812. Lossinsr, Field
Book of War of 1812, 814; John Ketcham, Reminiscences; John
C. Lasenby, In Indiana Magazine of History, X, 263.



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220 mSTORY OF INDIANA

fifiy men in the garrison over half, including Captain
Taylor himself, were on the sick list By the time
Taylor had paraded his troops the blockhouse, where
all the supplies except the powder were kept, was
burning rapidly, and the Indians were pressing the



Online LibraryLogan Esareya history of indiana from its exploration to 1850 → online text (page 17 of 44)