Richard J Harney.

History of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest online

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there. We found no person there, and as we had no orders to
go any farlher,we employed ourselves several days in destroying
the fields, in order to deprive the enemy of the means of sub-
sisting there. The country here is beautiful; the soil is
fertile, the game plenty and of very fine flavor; the nights are
very cold, and the days extremely warm. In my next letter
I will speak to you about my return to Montreal, and of all
that has happened to me up to the time of my embarking for
France. " * * *

Your affectionate brother,

Emanuel Crespel, Rccollcl.

From Messrs. De Beaiiharnois and DeArge-
mait, September 1st, 1728, to the French
Ministers of War:

" It having been signified 10 them that his Majesty wished
that they had awaited his orders before commencing this
undertaking, they answer, that the information which they
received from every quarter, of the secret wampums which
the English had sent among the nations of the Upper Country,
to cut the throats of the French in all the posts, and the war
parties which the Foxes were raising every day, did not allow
them to defer this expedition for a year, without endangering
the loss of all the posts in the Upper Country. "

■' They learned with great regret that the Foxes had fled
before the army had arrived in their country. They will do all
they can to prevent any results from this, and will attentively
observe all the movements which any of those nations who
could enter into the interests of the Foxes might make, so as to
prevent any surprise. "

" The Marquis De Beauharnois, by a private letter ol the
same day, sends the instructions which he had given to
M. De Lignery for this expedition, and the letter which this
ofiicer entreated to enclose in his dispatches, and by which he
attempts to justify himself. This letter slates, that he made use
of all his skill to succeed in the expedition ; but it was impos-
sible for him to surprise the enemy, not being able to conceal
from iheni, any further than the Bay, the knowledge of his

" He took at this post, before day break, three Puants of the
Foxes, and one Fox, who were discovered by some Sakis
whom he had brought from Mackinac. These four savages
were bound and sent to tribes, who put them to death the next
day. He afterwards continued his march, composed of
1,000 savages and 450 French, as far as the village of the
Puants, and afterwards to the Foxes. They all fled as sooit
as they heard that we were at the Bay, of which they were
informed by some of their own people, who escaped by
swimming. They captured, however, in the four Fox villages,
two women, a girl and an old man, who were killed and burnt.
He learned from them that the tribe had fled four days before;
that it had a collection of canoes, in which the old men, the
women and children had embarked, and that the warriors had
gone by land He urged the other tribes to follow in pursuit
of them, but there was only a portion of them who would
consent, the others saying the enemy had got too far for them
to be able to catch up with them. The French had nothing
but Indian corn to eat, and this, added to the advanced
season, and a march of 400 leagues on their return, by which
the safety of half the army was endangered, decided them
upon burning the four Fox vdlages, their forts and their huts,
to destroy all that they could find in their fields — Indian
corn, peas, beans and gourds, of which they had great abund-
ance. They did the same execution among the Puants. It is
certain that half of these nations, who number 4,000 souls,
will die with hunger, and that they will come in and ask
mercy. Major De Cavagnal, who has been in the whole expe-
ditiim, and has perfectly performed his duty, is able to certify
to all this." * ■-■

This expedition had the effect of Iceeping
the Sauks and Foxes in check for a number of
years; but the Foxes, who had their chief vil-
lage and stronghold on the banks of Little
Buttes des Morts, again became troublesome




to the traders by stopping their boats, and
compelling them to pay tribute for the privil-
ege of passage, and this and other griev-
ances committed by them, caused the French
authorities to determine upon their expulsion.

The Sauks, whose principal village was
opposite the French fort at the Bay, had for
some time been conducting themseves better
than their allies — the Foxes; and they were
ordered to deliver up the Foxes living among
them. A difficulty occurred about this demand,
in which De Vielie, the commandant of the
fort, killed two chiefs, when a young Sauk,
only twelve years old, named the Black Bird,
shot the officer dead.

A severe battle followed this encounter, in
which many French and Indians were killed.
It ended disastrously to the Sauks, who fled
from the country, and located at Sauk Prairie,
on the Lower Wisconsin River.


Battle of Little Butte des Morts — Sanguinary Engagement —
The Most Populous Village of the Foxes Destroyed — The
Expulsion of the Foxes from the Fo.x River Valley —, The
Menominees Take Possession of the Fo.x Country — Tomah,
the Great Menominee Chief.

APT. MORAND held an office in the
French Indian Department, and had
control of several important posts; one
^S^' near Mackinaw and one on the Mis-
sissippi. His boats, in their passage up the
Fox, had been frequently stopped at the
" Little Butte," and compelled to yield to the
exactions of the Foxes. A young Canadian
trader, in command of one of Morand's fleets,
refused to pay the tribute demanded at the
"Little Butte," and in the encounter which fol-
lowed, was killed with some of his men, and
his boats plundered. This raised the ire of
Morand; and the French authorities, having
determined on the expulsion of the Foxes, a
large force of men were placed under his com-
mand, and he commenced the preparation of
his expedition. A number of large Mackinaw
boats were got in readiness, and Morand then
opened up negotiations with the Menominee^-
to take part in the enterprise of expelling theii
enemies from the Valley of the Fox; declaring
his intention of not leaving one of the tribe in
that section, and promising the former the
possession of the Fox hunting grounds. The
Menominees replied, that what was said was

"good talk;" but a little of their fathers' skoo-
tay tvaivbo would help to quicken their
thoughts and make them more favorable to the

Morand complied with these demands, and
a general Menominee drunk was the conse-
quence; after the termination of which, the
expedition, composed of a large force of
Menominees and a body of French and half-
breeds, proceeded up the Fox to the belliger-
ent village.

The morning sun shone pleasantly on the
bark and mat wigwams of the Little Buttes des
Morts. The inhabitants reposed in fancied
security; the squaws moved about in the per-
fomance of their usual duties; the dogs quar-
reled over their bones and refuse; the papooses
played at their ju\'enile games, and the wax-
riors lolled about dreamily, comfortably con-
templating their next foray on the boats of the
voyagers, which should furnish them a gener-
ous supply of the white man's delicacies, and
especially tobacco, and their favorite skootay
waiibo. They had not long to wait for their
expected opportunity. Morand's fleet was
rapidly nearing their village. It was com-
posed of bateaux and canoes, covered with oil
cloths, such as the traders used to protect their
goods from the weather. Under these oil
cloths were concealed armed men. When the
expedition approached to within a mile of the
village, a large detachment of the French and
the Menominees was sent from that point to
take a position in the rear, and cut ofl" the
retreat of the Foxes. Morand's fleet then pro-
ceeded up the river. As soon as it hove in
sight of the village, the dogs barked, the
squaws screamed with delight, and the war-
riors proceeded in a body to the shore, eagerly
expectant of the rich booty.

When the foremost boats came opposite to
the Indians congregated on the shore, the lat-
ter commenced to violently gesticulate, and
demand their stoppage; which, not being com-
plied with, a number of balls were fired across
their bows — a peremptory demand for them to
heave to. The rowers immediately stopped
their further progress, when Morand asked
what they required? Skootay watibo was
yelled by hundreds of voices. "To shore with
with the boats! " ordered Morand; and they
were immediately along side the river banks,
the swarming savages rushing forward impetu-
ously to board them. "Back! Back! Don't
touch the boats", warned Morand; but on they
came. "Ready!" shouted the commander. In
an instant the oil cloths were thrown ofl", and a
hundred men, with guns at their shoulders
arose, as if by magic. "Fire!" shouted Morand.




A hundred muskets were simultaneously dis-
charged, and scores of dark forms dropped on
the river bank, and writhed in the agonies of
death. The suddenness of the une.xpected
attack sent the Indians howling and panic
stricken from the shore. They hastily retreated
towards their wigwams. Here a more terrible
foe approached them. They were now greeted
with the war-whoop of the Menominees, with
tomahawk and scalping knife in hand, and the
appalling sight of their blazing wigwams and
their fleeing squaws and papooses; for the
Menominees who had come up in the rear, had
industriously applied the torch. Then came a
desperate hand to hand conflict; the Foxes
fighting bravely, but compelled at last to
retreat to the woods. Here the unfortunate
wretches were met by the detachment of
French that formerly landed, and a discharge
of musketry checked their flight. The pur-
suing Menominees again came upon them, and
tomahawk and bayonet completed the bloody
work. Morand endeavored to stop the

terrible carnage; but "no quarter" was the
revengeful war-cry; and they perished, man,
woman and child — almost the entire village,
which had contained the most numerous bands
of the Fox tribe. A few escaped and fled to
the upper Fox.

The populous village that, an hour before,
reposed in the enjoyment of peace, was in that
short time transformed into a scene of utter
desolation. There was nothing left but the
dead bodies of the slain. The storm of war
had swept over the Petite Buttes des Morts
like a besom of destruction, and annihilated the
greater portion of a tribe. Such is the history
of the memorable battle of the Little Buttes
des Morts (the hills of the dead ) ; a spot com-
memorative of the overthrow of the supremacy
of the Fox Indians, in the Valley of the Fox.

The few Foxes who had escaped during the
battle, joined other bands of the tribe, and
congregated at a point on the south side of the
river, about three or Tour miles above Big
Lake Buttes des Morts, near the present site of
Winneconnee, where they were again attacked
by Morand, and defeated with great loss.

Augustin Grignon, in his " Seventy Years
Recollections," says " My grandfather, De
Langlade, and aged Indians told me that the
second battle of Morand with the Foxes took
place about three miles above the Great Buttes
des Morts. "

This tribe next concentrated its remaining
force near the mouth of the Wisconsin, where
Morand subsequently followed and again
defeated them. They then fled, and took
refuge with the Sauks, on Sauk Prairie, across

the Wisconsin. The united tribes must have
recuperated rapidly after their settlement at
Sauk Prairie; for they had several desperate
encounters with the Sioux, and became pow-
erful enough in time, to deprive the Kaskaskias
of their possessions on the Rock River, where
Black Hawk, their distinguished chief, was

The discovery of the lead mines, in 1822,
on the territory then occupied b\- them,
brought American settlers into that section,
and they again were routed from their posses-
sions, by what Black Hawk alleges to have been
a fraudulent treaty. They were removed across
the Mississippi, and here came into conflict
with the Sioux, their hereditary foes.

The Foxes and Sauks seem to ha\e affiliated
with no other tribes. For over a century they
were known to have been continually on the
war-path. The other tribes held them in great
awe. Their children, for generations, may be
said to have been born on the battle-field, with
the sound of the warwhoop ringing in their
mothers' ears. No Indians ever surpassed
them in bravery or devotion to the cause of
the red-man in resenting the encroachments
of the whites; and, as the Black Hawk war was
the closing scene of the strife of the Sauks
and Foxes, who had been so long the domi-
nant tribes of this valley, which will be forever
associated with their fame, a sketch will be
given, on a subsequent page, of that last
struggle of these tribes against the fate closing
so remorselessly around them.

After the expulsion of the Sauks and Foxes,
the Menominees came into the possession of
the territory formerly occupied by the former
tribes. As they remained the firm allies of
the French, and pursued a peaceable course
in their relations with other Indian nations,
they rapidly increased in numbers and power;
and when the Americans commenced the set-
tlement of this country, the Menominee lands
included the tract north of the Upper Fox,
extending from one of the branches of the
Wisconsin, on the west, to a point on Lake
Michigan, north of the Menominee River, and
from there south to the mouth of the Milwau-
kee River; embracing the tract between Lakes
Winnebago and Michigan, the Lower Fox
country and the Wolf and its tributaries.

The French seem, from the first, to have
affiliated very closely with the Menominees,
intermarrying with them to such an extent
that at one time the population of the Lower
Fox country was composed largely of people
of mixed blood.

About the year 1812, they had a very
remarkable man for a chief, the great Tomah;



a man of great abilities and virtues. He was
held in the highest esteem by the neighboring
nations, and is spoken of by the whites as one
of Nature's noblemen.

James W. Biddle, who had the contract for
supplying the troops at Green Bay and other
western posts, in 1816, thus speaks of him in
his published " Recollections of Green Bay. "

"When at Mackinaw, early one morning in
the latter part of May, or early in June, 1817,
I had come out of my lodgings and observed
approaching m.e one of the many Indians then
on the Island; and taking a look at him as he
emerged from the fog, then very heavy, I was
struck as he passed, in a most unusual manner,
by his singularly imposing presence. I had
never seen, I thought, so magnificent a man.
He was of the larger size, perhaps six feet,
with fine proportions, alittle stoop-shouldered,
and dressed in a somewhat dirty blanket, and had
scarcely noticed me as he passed. I remember
it as distinctlyas if it was yesterday. I watched
him until he disappeared again in the fog, and
remember almost giving expression to a feel-
ing which seemed irresistibly to creep over
me , tliat the earth zvas too mean for such a man
to ivalk on ! This idea was, of course, dis-
carded the moment it came up, but existence
it had, at this, my first view of Tomah. I had
no knowledge, at the time, of who he was, or
that Tomah was on the Island, but while stand-
ing there, before my door, and under the influ-
ence of the feeling I have described, Henry
Graverat, the Indian interpreter, came up, and
I enquired of him whether he knew of an
Indian who had just passed up. He replied,
yes, that it was Tomah, chief of the Menom-
inees. "

"When Tecumseh visited the Indians at the
Bay, and addressed them in council, advocating
a union of tribes against the Americans, his
eloquent recital of his success in the many
battles he had fought, was well calculated to
arouse a war-like spirit in the Indians. Tomah,
desirous of allaying this, replied, 'that he had
heard the words of Tecumseh — heard of the
battles he had fought, enemies they had slain,
and the scalps he had taken,'" "He then,"
says Biddle, "paused; and while the deepest
silence reigned throughout the audience, he
slowly raised his hands, his eyes fixed on them,
and in a lower, but not less prouda tone, contin-
ued: ' but it is my boast that these hands are
unstained with human blood!"

"The effect is described as tremendous;
nature obeyed hei own impulse, and admira-
tion was forced, even from those who could not,
or did not, approve of the moral to be implied,
and the gravity of the council was disturbed,

for an instant, by a murmur of approbation —
a tribute to genius, overpowering, at the
moment, the force of education and habit. He
concluded with remarking, 'that he had ever
supported the policy of peace, as his nation
was small and consequently weak; that he was
fully aware of the injustice of the Americans
in their encroachments upon the lands of the
Indians, and for them feared its consequences,
but that he saw no relief for it in going to
war, and, therefore, as a national thing, he
would not do so; but that if any of his young
men were desirous of leaving their hunting
grounds and following Tecumseh, they had his
permission to do so. ' His prudent councils

The Menominees became partially civilized
at a very early period of their known history,
through the christianizing influence of the
missionaries and intimate association with the
French, whom they regarded as their greatest


Wisconsin the Border Ground in the Long Contest Between
the Algonquins and Dacotahs — The Historic Ground of
the Northwest — The Sioux the Original Inhabitants of
Wisconsin — The .Sioux Expelled by the Chippewas —
Hole-In The- Day, his Exploits and Influence — The Win-
nebagoes, their Villages and Chiefs — Ludicrous Encounter
Between the War Chief of the Pottawattamies and the Head
Chief of the Menominees — The Defeat and Discomfiture
of a Bully — Hoo-Choup Attempts to Control the Entrance
to Lake Winnebago.

S this State was the border ground
where the great Algonquin and
Dacotah races first met and came
into conflict, and as the Fox and
Lower Wisconsin valleys were the
scenes of the earliest intercourse of
whites and Indians of the West, and of the
sanguinary battles between the French and
Sauks and Foxes, it is, therefore, the chief his-
toric ground of the Northwest; and its early
history is replete with important occurrences
incidental to the earlier civilization of the coun-

The Indian tribes that inhabited this
region, at the time of the advent of the French
missionaries and traders, were the Chippewas,
Pottawattamies, Sauks, Foxes, Menominees
and Winnebagoes. They were all recent
immigrants from Canada except the Menomi-
nees, who had emigrated from the east at a
more remote period, and the Winnebagoes,
who came from Spanish America, in the




The earliest known occupants of tlie territory
now included in the limits of Wisconsin were
the Dacotahs, or Sioux. Their hunting
grounds and possessions included the now
States of Wisconsin and Minnesota, and parts
of Iowa and Illinois. They were the sole
inhabitants of the country up to about the
year 1600, when this district began to be
invaded by tribes of the Algonquin or Algic
race, that great branch of the Indian family
which inhabited Canada and what is now the
Eastern and Middle States.

The Chippewas, a branch of the Ojibwa,
one of the most powerful nations of the Algon-
quin race, were originally from Canada. They
traveled by the way of the Lakes, in their birch
bark canoes, and first met the Sioux at the
straits of Sault St. Marie. The period of their
invasion of the south shore of Lake Michigan,
is, according to tradition, about the year 1600;
and then began that struggle between the
Algonquin and the Sioux, which made Wis-
consin the great battle ground in the long con-
test between the Dacotah and Algic races. By
the year 1650, the Chippewas had pushedtheir
way to the mouth of our Fo.x River; and to
the northwest as far as the head waters of the
St. Croi.x But, in 1670. the Sioux had
driven them back to the Sault St. Marie and
the mouth of the F"ox.

The Chippewas, receiving accessions to their
numbers, and also, getting additional forces
from the Hurons and Ottawas, who migrated
to the Northwest after the destruction of their
country by the Iroquois, eventually recovered
the ground they had lost, and drove the Sioux
back to the prairies of the Southwest, beyond
Ihc Mississippi; and forever after maintained
their supremac)- and the possession of the

■^ 1^'rom the tradition of the Chippewas, and
wliat is known of their history b)- the whites,
ihc)' seem to have obtained permanent posses-
sion of what is now Northern Wisconsin, about
the year 1700. After that time, they dispos-
sessed the Sioux of the large tract, since occu-
pied by the Chippewas of the Mississippi.

For over two centuries these hostile tribes
waged war against each other, and after the
Americans had settled in the country, those
hereditary foes had many a sanguinary conflict.
No Sioux and Chippewa could meet without
a trial to obtain a scalp. The following is
related by the Hon. James H. Lockwood, of
Prairie du Chien, in the published collections
of the State Historical Society:

" In the fall of 1818, a severe fight took
place on the prairie, between Lac Traverse
and the head waters of the Mississippi, under

something like the following circumstances, as
related to me, immediately after, by some
Indians who had participated in the action. I
was then at my wintering station near Lac-
qui-Parle, on the St. Peters. During the
summer a Yankton chief, who generally
resided near Lac Traverse, called by the French
the Grand Sinore, had met with some Chippe-
was, with whom he had smoked the pipe of
peace, and after the council had broken up,
and the Chippewas were wending their way, as
they supposed, safely to their homes, when a
party of Grand Sinore 's band followed them
and killed some of the men, and took one
woman prisoner. Upon this, eleven young
Chippewas armed, provisioned, and provided
with moccasins, started for the Sioux
country, declaring that they would not return
until they had avenged the insult and outrage.
They traveled in the Sioux country about a
month without falling in with any Sioux, and
were apparently on their way home, when, on
the prairie between Lac Traverse and the head
waters of the Mississippi, they discovered a
large camp of Sioux, of about five hundred
lodges. As they were in the neighborhood of
the camp, they were discovered by some
Sioux on horseback, who immediately gave
notice to the camp. The Chippewas, finding
that thej' were discovered, and that their fate
was sealed, sent one of their number home to
carry tidings of their probable destruction, and
the other ten got into a copse of timber and
brush on the prairie, and commenced throwing
up breast works by digging holes with their
knives and hands, determined to sell their
lives as dearly as possible, knowing that there
was not the remotest hope for their escape.

"In a short time the warriors from the Sioux
camp surrounded them, and, it would apjicar,
made the attack without much order or sys-
tem, and fought something like the militia in
the Black Hawk war, at the attack near Kcl-
logg's, where each one attacked and fought nn
his own account, without orders. To show
their bravery, the Siou.x would approach the
entrenched Chippewas singly, but from the
covert and deadly fire of the Chippewas, they
were sure to fall. They continued to fight in
this way until about seventy of the Sioux
were killed or wounded, when one of the Sioux
war chiefs cried out, that the enemy were kill-
ing them in detail, and directed a general
onset, when they all, in a bodj', rushed upon
the Chippewas with knives and tomahawks;
and, after a severe struggle, overpowered and
exterminated them, wounding in the melee
many of their own people. The brave Chip-
pewas had exliaustcd their ammunition, and




now fell a sacrifice .to superior numbers. Thus
perished ten as intrepid warriors as ever
entered the battle field. The eleventh pur-
sued his way, and carried to his people the
news of the probable fate of the others. The

Online LibraryRichard J HarneyHistory of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest → online text (page 11 of 71)