Samuel Gardner Drake.

The aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index online

. (page 107 of 131)
Online LibrarySamuel Gardner DrakeThe aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index → online text (page 107 of 131)
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field of battle, but all the killed and many of the wounded, all the artillery,
(eleven pieces of cannon,) all the general's baggage, and even private papers,
and all the ammunition and provisions, fell into the hands of the victors.

All but the Virginians fought for some time in the most wretched confu-
sion ; but the officers were mournfully sacrificed sometimes charging the
enemy in a body by themselves, hoping by their example to draw out their
men in a manner to repel their adversaries ; but all to no purpose : and it is
not doubted but that the confused multitude of regulars killed many of their
companions, as they often fired fifty or a hundred in a huddle together,
seemingly for no other object but to get rid of their ammunition. The Vir-
ginians fought in the Indian manner, behind trees and coverts ; and it was
owing to their good conduct that any of the wretched army escaped.

After having five horses shot under him, General Braddock received a
wound in his lungs, of which he died on the 13th of July, 4 days after the
battle, at Fort Cumberland, whither he had arrived with a part of his shat-
tered army. Washington had been suffering, for some time before arriving
at the fatal battle-field, from a fever; and in a letter which he wrote to his
mother, dated July 18th, he thus speaks of himself: " The -Virginia troops
showed a good deal of bravery, and were nearly all killed ; for I believe, out
of three companies that were there, scarcely 30 men are left alive. Cap-
tain Peyrouny, and all his officers down to a corporal, were killed. Captain
Poison had nearly as hard a fate, for only one of his were left. In short, the
dastardly behavior of those they call regulars exposed all others, that were
inclined to do their duty, to almost certain death, and at last, in despite of
all the efforts of the officers to the contrary, they ran, as sheep pursued by
dogs, and it was impossible to rally them." " Sir Peter Halket was killed
in the field, where died many other brave officers. I luckily escaped with-
out a wound, though I had 4 bullets through my coat, and two horses shot
under me. Captains Orme and Moiris, two of the aids-de-camp, were wound-
ed early in the engagement, which rendered the duty harder upon me, as I
was the only person then left to distribute the general's orders, which I was
scarcely able to do, as I was not half recovered from a violent illness, that
had confined me to my bed and wagon for above 10 days."

We know of no battle, in which so great a proportion of officers fell.
There were 86 engaged in it, and 63 were killed and wounded, of whom 26
were killed. Besides those already named, there were among the wounded
Colonel Burton, Sir John St. Clair, Colonel Orme, and Major Sparks. Of the
private soldiers there were killed and wounded 714, half of whom were
killed, or fell into the hands of the Indians, and suffered a cruel death after-
wards. Mr. John Field, then a lieutenant, and Mr. Charles Lewis, two dis-
tinguished officers afterwards, escaped the carnage of BraddocKs field to
fall in a more fortunate place. They were colonels under General Andrew
Lewis, and were killed in the battle of Point Pleasant, as will be found men-
tioned in the life of Logan.

In the year 1790, Big-tree, Corn-plant and Half-town appeared at Philadel-
phia, and, by their interpreter, communicated to President Washington as
follows :

" Father : The voice of the Seneca nations speaks to you ; the great coun-
aellor, in whose heart the wise men of all the thirteen fires [13 U. S.] have
placed their wisdom. It may be very small in your ears, and we, therefore,
entreat you to hearken with attention ; for we are able to speak of things
which are to us very great.

" When your army entered the country of the Six Nations, we called you
the town destroyer ; to this day, when your name is heard, our women look
behind them and turn pale, and our children cling close to the necks of their

610 COR.VIM. \\T-JIIS sn.r.rii TO WASHINGTON. [BOOK v.

** When our chiefs returned from Fort Stanwix, and laid before our coun-
cil what had been dour tin-re, our nation was surprised lo hear how great a
countrv you had compelled them to give up to MHI, without your pa\ 'HILT to
us any thing for it. Kvery one said, that your hearts were yet swelled with
resentment against us for what had happened during the war, hut that one
day \ou would consider it with more kindness. We asked each other, ll'lmt
have' we done to deserve such severe chastisement ?

"Father: when you kindled your 13 fires separately, the wise men a>sein-
bled at them told US that you were all brothers; the children of (me great
father, who regarded the red people as his children. They called us
brothers, and invited us to his protection. They told us that he resided
beyond the great water where the sun first rises; and that he was a l\'n:g
whose power no people could resist, and that his goodness was as bright as
the sun. What they said went to our hearts. We accepted the invitation,
and promised to obey him. What the Seneca nation promises, they faith-
fully perform. Wiien you refused obedience to that king, he commanded
us to assist his beloved men iu making you sober. In obeying him, we did
no more than yourselves had led us to promise." "We were deceived ; but
your people teaching us to confide in that king, had helped to deceive us ;
and we now appeal to your breast. Is all the blame ours?

"Father: when we saw that we had been deceived, and heard the invita-
tion which you gave us to draw near to the fire you had kindled, and talk
with you concerning peace, we made haste towards it. You told us you
could crush us to nothing; and you demanded from us a great countrv, as
the price of that peace which you had offered to us : as if our want of
strength had destroyed our rights. Our chiefs had felt your power, and were
unable to contend against you, and they therefore gave up that country.
What they agreed to has bound our nation, but your anger against us must
by this time be cooled, and although our strength is not increased, nor your
power become less, we ask you to consider calmly Were the terms dictated
to us by your commissioners reasonable and just ? "

They also remind the president of the solemn promise of the commission-
ers, that they should be secured in the peaceable possession of what was
lelt to them, and then ask, "Does this promise bind T/OW?" And that no
sooner was the treaty of Fort Stanwix concluded, than commissioners from
Pennsylvania came to purchase of them what was included within the lines
of their state. These they informed that they did not wish to sell, but being
further urged, consented to sell a part. But the commissioners said that " they
must have the whole ; " for it was already ceded to them by the king of Eng-
land, at the peace following the revolution ; but still, as their ancestors had
always paid the Indians for land, they were willing to pay them for it. Being
not able to contend, the land was sold. Soon after this, they empowered a
person to let out part of their land, who said congress had sent him for the
purpose, but who, it seems, fraudulently procured a deed instead of a power
to lease ; for there soon came another person claiming all their country north-
ward of the line of Pennsylvania, saying that he purchased it of the other,
and for which he had paid 20,000 dollars to him and 20,000 more to the
United States. He now demanded the land, and, on being refused, threaten-
ed immediate war. Knowing their weak situation, they held a council, and
took the advice of a white man, whom they took lo be their friend, but who,
as it proved, had plotted with the other, and was to receive some of the
land for his agency. He, therefore, told them they must comply. " Astonish-
ed at what we heard from every quarter," they say, " with hearts aching with
compassion for our women and children, we were thus compelled to give up
all our country north of the line of Pennsylvania, and east of the Genesee
River, up to the great forks, and east of a south line drawn up from that
fork to the line of Pennsylvania." For this he agreed to give them 10,000
dollars down, and 1000 dollars a year forever. Instead of that, he paid them
2500 dollars, and some time after offered 500 dollars more, insisting that
that was all he owed them, which he allowed to be yearly. They add,

" Father : you have said that we were in your hand, and that by closing it
you could crush us to nothing. Are you determined to crush us? If you


are, tell us so ; that those of our nation who have become your children, and
nave determined to die so, may know what to do. In this case, one chief
has said, he would ask you to put him out of his pain. Another, who will
not think of dying by the hand of his father, or his brother, has said he will
retire to the Chataughque, eat of the fatal root, and sleep with his fathers in

" All the land we have been speaking of belonged to the Six Nations. No part
of it ever belonged to the king of England, and he could not give it to you."

" Hear us once more. At Fort Stanwix we agreed to deliver up those of
our people who should do you any wrong, and that you might try them and
punish them according to your law. We delivered up two men accordingly.
But instead of trying them according to your law, the lowest of your people
took them from your magistrate, and put them immediately to death. It is
just to punish the murder with death ; but the Senecas will not deliver up
their people to men who disregard the treaties of their own nation."

There were many other grievances enumerated, and all in a strain which,
we should think, would have drawn forth immediate relief. In his answer,
President Washington said all, perhaps, which could be said in his situation ;
and his good feelings are manifest throughout : still there is something like
evasion in answering some of their grievances, and an omission of notice to
others. His answer, nevertheless, gave them much encouragement. He
assured them that the lands obtained from them by fraud was not sanctioned
by the government, and that the whole transaction was declared null and
void ; and that the persons who murdered their people should be dealt with
as though they had murdered white men, and that all possible means would
be used for their apprehension, and rewards should continue to be offered to
effect it. But we have not learned that they were ever apprehended. The land
conveyed by treaty, the president informed them, he had no authority to con-
cern with, as that act was before his administration.

The above speech, although appearing to be a joint production, is believed
to have been dictated by Corn-planter. It, however, was no doubt the senti-
ments of the whole nation, as well as those of himself, Half-town and Big-
tree. Of this last-named chief we will here speak as follows: In 1791, an act
passed the legislature of Pennsylvania, " to empower the governor to grant a
patent to Big-tree, a Seneca chief, for a certain island in the Allegheny
River." He lamented the disaster of St. Glair's army, and was heard to say
afterwards, that he ivoidd have two scalps for General Butler's, who fell and was
scalped in that fight. John Deckard, another Seneca chief, repeated the same
words. Being on a mission to Philadelphia, in April, 1792, he was taken
sick at his lodgings, and died after about 20 hours' illness. Three days after,
being Sunday, the 22d, he was buried with all requisite attention. The river
Big-tree was probably named from the circumstance of this chief having
lived upon it. His name still exists among some of his descendants, or
others of his tribe, as we have seen it subscribed to several instruments
within a few years. To return to Corn-planter.

His Indian name, as we have before noted, was Gyantwaia ; and most of
our knowledge concerning him is derived from himself, and is contained in
a letter sent from him to the governor of Pennsylvania ; and, although writ-
ten by an interpreter, is believed to be the real production of Corn-planter.
It was dated " Alleghany River, 2d mo. 2d, 1822," and is as follows :

" I feel it my duty to send a speech to the governor of Pennsylvania at
this time, and inform him the place where I was from which was at Cone-
waugus,* on the Genesee River.

" When I was a child, I played with the butterfty, the grasshopper and the
frogs ; and as I grew up, I began to pay some attention and play with the
Indian boys in the neighborhood, and they took notice of my skin being a
different color from theirs, and spoke about it. I inquired of my mother the
cause, and she told me that my father was a residenter in Albany.f I still

* Th.s was the Iroquois term to designate a place of Christian Indians; hence many
places bear it. It is the same as Caughneicaga.

f ft is said (Amer. Reg. ii. ^28) that he was an Irishman.


eat iny victuals out of a hark d'^h. J grew ii| to be a young man, and mar-
ried me a \\iii , and I had n<> Kettle <>r gun. I thru knew \\ln-re my father
li\ed, and went to see him, and i'oiind he was a white man, and >|mke the
Engli.-h larguage. He gave me victuals whilst I was at his house, hut \\hen
1 started to return feome, he gave me no provision to eat on tin- \\a\. Jle
gave me neither kettle nor gun, neither did he tell me that the United States
were ahout to rebel against the government of England.

"I will now tell you, brothers, who are in session of the legislature of
Pennsylvania, that the Great Spirit has made known to me that 1 have hern
wicked; and the cause thereof was the revolutionary war in America. The
cause of Indians having been led into sin, at that time, was that many of
them were in the practice of drinking and getting intoxicated, Great
Britain requested us to join with them in the conflict against the Americans,
and promised the Indians land and liquor. I myself was opposed to joining
in the conflict, as I had nothing to do with the difficulty that existed between
the two parties. I have now informed you how it happened that the Indians
took a part in the revolution, and will relate to you some circumstances that
occurred after the close of the war. General Putnam, who was then at
Philadelphia, told me there was to be a council at Fort Stanwix; and the
Indians requested me to attend on behalf of the Six Nations; which I did,
and there met with three commissioners, who had been appointed to hold the
council. They told me they would inform me of the cause of the revolu-
tion, which I requested them to do minutely. They then said that it had
originated on account of the heavy taxes that had been imposed upon them
by the British government, which had been for fifty years increasing upon
them ; that the Americans had grown weary thereof, and refused to pay,
which affronted the king. There had likewise a difficulty taken place about
some tea, which they wished me not to use, as it had been one of the causes
that many people had lost their lives. And the British government now
being affronted, the war commenced, and the cannons began to roar in our
country. General Putnam then told me, at the council at Fort Stanwix,
that, by the late war, the Americans had gamed two objects : they had
established themselves an independent nation, and had obtained some land
ro live upon: the division line of which, from Great Britain, run through
the lakes. I then spoke, and said that I w r anted some land for the Indians to
live on, and General Putnam said that it should be granted, and I should have
land in the state of New York for the Indians. General Putnam then en-
couraged me to use my endeavors to pacify the Indians generally ; and, as
he considered it an arduous task to perform, wished to know what I wanted
for pay therefor. I replied to him, that I would use my endeavors to do as
he had requested, with the Indians, and for pay thereof, I would take land.
I told him not to pay me money or dry goods, but land. And for having
attended thereto, I received the tract of land on which I now live, which was
presented to me by Governor Miflin. I told General Putnam that I wished
the Indians to have the exclusive privilege of the deer and wild game, which
he assented to. I also wished the Indians to have the privilege of hunting
in the woods, and making fires, which he likewise assented to.

" The treaty that was made at the aforementioned council, has been broken
by some of the white people, which I now intend acquainting the governor
with. Some white people are not willing that Indians should hunt any more,
whilst others are satisfied therewith ; and those white people who reside
near our reservation, tell us that the woods are theirs, and they have
obtained them from the governor. The treaty has been also broken
by the white people using their endeavors to destroy all the wolves, which
was not spoken about in the council at Fort Stanwix, by General Putnam,
but has originated lately.

" It has been broken again, which is of recent origin. White people wish
to get credit from Indians, and do not pay them honestly, according to their
agreement. In another respect, it has also been broken by white people,
who reside near my dwelling ; for when I plant melons and vines in my
field, they take them as their own. It has been broken again by white
people using their endeavors to obtain our pine-trees from us. We have


very few pine-trees on our land, in the state of New York ; and white people
and Indians often get into dispute respecting them. There is also a great
quantity of whisky brought near our reservation by white people, and the
Indians obtain it and become drunken. Another circumstance has taken
place which is very trying to me, and I wish the interference of the governor.

"The white people, who live at Warren, called upon me, some time ago,
to pay taxes for my land ; which I objected to, as I had never been called
upon for that purpose before ; and having refused to pay, the white people
became irritated, called upon me frequently, and at length brought four guns
with them and seized our cattle. I still refused to pay, and was not willing
to let the cattle go. After a time of dispute, they returned home, and I under-
stood the militia was ordered out to enforce the collection of the tax. I
went to Warren, and, to avert the impending difficulty, was obliged to give
my note for the tax, the amount of which was 43 dollars and 79 cents. It is
my desire that the governor will exempt me from paying taxes for my land
to white people ; and also cause that the money I am now obliged to pay,
may be refunded to me, as I am very poor. The governor is the person
who attends to the situation of the people, and I wish him to send a person
to Allegheny, that I may inform him of the particulars of our situation, and
he be authorized to instruct the white people in what manner to conduct
themselves towards the Indians.

" The government has told us that when any difficulties arose between the
Indians and white people, they would attend to having them removed. We
are now in a trying situation, and I wish the governor to send a person
authorized to attend thereto, the forepart of next summer, about the time
that grass has grown big enough for pasture.

" The governor formerly requested me to pay attention to the Indians and
take care of them. We are now arrived at a situation that I believe In-
dians cannot exist, unless the governor should comply with my request, and
send a person authorized to treat between us and the white people, the
approaching summer. I have now no more to speak."*

Whether the government of Pennsylvania acted at all, or, if at all, what
order they took, upon this pathetic appeal, our author does not state. But
that an independent tribe of Indians should be taxed by a neighboring
people, is absurd in the extreme; and we hope we shall learn that not
only the tax was remitted, but a remuneration granted for the vexation and

Corn-plant was very early distinguished for his wisdom in council, not-
withstanding he confirmed the treaty of Fort Stanwix of 1784 ; five years
after, at the treaty of Fort Harmer, he gave up an immense tract of their
country, and for which his nation very much reproached him, and even
threatened his life. Himself and other chiefs committed this act for the best
of reasons. The Six Nations having taken part with England in the revolu-
tion, when the king's power fell in America, the Indian nations were reduced
to the miserable alternative of giving up so much of their country as the
Americans required, or the whole, of it. In 1790, Corn-plant, Half-town and
Big-tree, made a most pathetic appeal to congress for an amelioration of
tiieir condition, and a reconsideration of former treaties, in which the fol-
lowing memorable passage occurs :

"Father: we will not conceal from you that the great God, and not men,
lias preserved the Corn-plant from the hands of his own nation. For they
ask continually, " Where is the land on which our children, and their chil-
dren after them, are to lie down upon ? You told us that the line drawn
from Pennsylvania to Lake Ontario, would mark it forever on the east, and
the line running from Beaver Creek to Pennsylvania, would mark it on the
west, and we see that it is not so ; for, first one, and then another, come and
take it away by order of that people which you tell us promised to secure it
to us.' He is silent, for he has nothing to answer. When the sun goes
down, he opens his heart before God, and earlier than the sun appears,
again upon the hills he gives thanks for his protection during the night.

* Buchanan's Sketches.



For he feels that among men become desperate by the injuries they sustain,
it is God only that can presene him. lie lines peace, and all he had in
store he has given to those who have been robbed by your people, lest
they should plunder the innocent to repay themselves. The whole season,
which others have employed in providing for their families, he has spent in
endeavors to preserve peace; and this moment his wife and children arc
lying on the ground, and in want of food."

In President J Washington'' s answer, we are gratified by his particular notice
of this chief. He says, "The merits of the Corn-plant, and his friendship
lor the United States, are well known to me, and shall not be forgotten; and.
as a mark of esteem of the United States, I have directed the secretary of
war to make him a present of two hundred and Ji/ly dollars, either in money
or goods, as the Corn-plant shall like best."

There was, in 1789, a treaty held at Marietta, between the Indians and
Americans, which terminated "to the entire satisfaction of all concern: d.
On this occasion, an elegant entertainment was provided. The Indian
chiefs behaved with the greatest decorum throughout the day. After dinner,
we were served with good wine, and Corn-planter, one of the first chiefs of
the Five Nations, and a very great warrior, took up his glass and said, " 1
thank the Great Spirit for this opportunity of smoking the pipe of friendship and
love. Ma}/ we plant our own vines be the fathers of our own children and
maintain them.' " *

In 1790, an act passed the legislature of Pennsylvania, for " granting 800
dollars to Corn-planter, Half-town and Big-tree, in trust for the Seneca nation,
and other purposes therein mentioned." In February, 1791, Corn-plant was
in Philadelphia, and was employed in an extremely hazardous expedition to
undertake the pacification of the western tribes, that had already shown
them selves hostile. The mission terminated unfavorably, from insurmount-
able difficulties.! There were many, at this time, as in all Indian wars, who
entertained doubts of the fidelity of such Indians as pretended friendship.
Corn-plant did not escape suspicion ; but, as his after-conduct showed, it
was entirely without foundation. In the midst of these imputations, a letter
written at Fort Franklin says, " I have only to observe that the Corn-plant
has been here, and, in my opinion, he is as friendly as one of our own
people. He has advised me to take care ; '/or,' said he, 'you will soon have a
chance to let the world know whether you are a soldier or not.'' When he went
off, he ordered t\vo chiefs and ten warriors to remain here, and scout about
the garrison, and let me know if the bad Indians should either advance
against me, or any of the frontiers of the United States. He thinks the

Online LibrarySamuel Gardner DrakeThe aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index → online text (page 107 of 131)