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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
THE jealousy and hatred existing between the tribes, prevented extensive hostile combinations against the English, and proved the salvation of the colonies. Every large tribe, from the era of the settlement of Virginia, to that of Georgia, deemed itself superior to all others, vaunted of its prowess, and despised its enemies. Wingina, Powhatan, and Opechanganough, were but prototypes of Sassacus, Pometacorn, and Attakullakilla. The continent had been overrun by predatory bands long before its discovery by Europeans, and, at that period, the tribes were living in a state of intestine anarchy, and outward war. When the colonists landed and began to hold intercourse with them, every little tribe exercised an independent sovereignty, sold lands, and prosecuted wars. Of the several stocks who claimed to live in a state of association or confederation, the Iroquois alone possessed anything like a fixed system. The Muscogees, or Creeks, assumed to be a confederacy of seven tribes, but their association was so loosely organized, so destitute of governmental power, that it could not make levies, procure volunteers, meet out punishments, or grant rewards. The Algonquins assimilated in their tribal character and peculiar customs, but every tribe acted as it pleased, without respect to any governmental rule. The seven tribes of the Dakotas styled themselves a united people; the Pokanokets went to war, single-handed, against all New England; the Tuscaroras determined to destroy North Carolina, at a blow; the Yamasees undertook
took to brave, if not to cope with, South Carolina; and the tribe of the Foxes insolently resolved, without any auxiliaries but the Sauks, or original occupants of Saganaw, 250 to drive the French out of Michigan.
The refractory tribes of New England, who had either submitted to the colonists, or had been conquered by them and fled, derived sympathy and efficient aid from the Canadian authorities. The Pequot refugees who had found shelter from the Mohawks, and been permitted to settle on a tributary of the North river, under the name of Scagticokes, finally fled to Lower Canada. The entire canton of St. Regis originally comprised refugees of the Iroquois, who had either refused to submit to the religious teachings, or to the political influence of the English.
The tribal and international movements, throughout the entire country, were controlled, with the sole exception of those of the important cantons of the Iroquois, by the general policy and influence of the French, and tended to the furtherance of the French colonial interests. It was observed at an early day by the English governors, and by the commanders on the frontiers, that a cordon of tribes, friendly to the French, occupied the whole of the immense line extending from Quebec to New Orleans; and every decade of the existence of the British colonies appeared to increase the apprehensions of evil impending from this quarter. This policy of the French was not a recent one, but can be traced back to the earliest times. From the period when Donnaconna was taken to France, and Agahonna greeted as the forest monarch of Hochelaga, it had been a primary policy of the Gallic authorities, to secure the influence of the Indian tribes. Two great stocks of tribes constituted the leading executors of the French policy.
Along the north shore of the St. Lawrence, from the Three Rivers as far as the entrance of the Great Otawa river, the coast was occupied by tribes of the generic stock, to whom was given the name of Algonquins. 251 The southern, as well as the northern, shores of the St. Lawrence, below the point denoted, as far down as Gaspe Bay, including Tadousac and the island of Orleans, were covered by parties of the Iroquois of the Wyandot branch. The governmental seat, and council-fire of this tribe were located on the mountain island of Hochelaga, to which Carter gave the name of Montreal. A close alliance was formed with the Algonquin tribes, and also with the Wyandots, or Hurons, a French soubriquet for this tribe. The Wyandots affirm themselves to have been the parent tribe of the Iroquois, and, although they do not appear to have been a member of the confederacy of the Five Nations, they were, then, on the most amicable terms with them. Their offence against the Five Nations was, that they had not only offered their aid to the French, but also to the Algonquins,
their enemies. As soon as this alliance with the French was understood, the Five Nations, at first moderately, but afterwards peremptorily and violently, ordered them to leave the island of Hochelaga, and remove to New York. 252 The Wyandots having refused to obey this mandate, the Iroquois made war upon them, and so harassed them that they were compelled to seek shelter under the guns of Quebec; in which place even, they were not safe, but were finally expelled from the valley of the St. Lawrence. The French themselves were fiercely attacked, and at one time became seriously afraid that they would be driven from the country. 253
The flight of the Wyandots from the St. Lawrence valley, in 1659, produced a great displacement of tribes. They passed up the great Ontawas river, and across Lake Nepissing, to the Manatouline chain of islands, of Odawa lake, which thence received the appellation of Huron, their French nomme de guerre. But the New York Iroquois having pursued them thither, they fled to the rocky island of Tiedonderoga, called Michilimackinac by the Algonquins, with whom they were in close alliance, as they had originally been in Lower Canada. Remarkable evidences of their residence in the interior of this island, and also of their agricultural habits, may still be traced in the large spaces which were cultivated, and which are yet very conspicuous. Of these, the area called by the French, Le Grand Jardin, and the ground about Sugar Loaf, and Arched Rocks, will amply repay a visit from the curious. But, being also followed hither by the Iroquois, they took shelter on Lake Superior. Pursuing them to that retreat, they were defeated by the Algics at Point Iroquois in the Chippewa country. A sanguinary battle, followed by a massacre, was fought on the cape at the left-hand entrance into that lake, which has since been called Point Iroquois.
Chapter II. Inter-epochal History of the Lake Tribes, and of the Expulsion of Indians who Preceded the Algonquins.
PRIOR to the flight of the Wyandots from the St. Lawrence, a nation, of Algonquin lineage, called by old writers Utawawas, and Atawawas, and by modern ones, Odawas, and Ottawas, resided on the chain of islands, in Lake Huron, called Manatoulines, or Islands of the Great Spirit. Portions of this nation participated in the early wars in Lower Canada, and were taught the truths of the Christian religion by the missionaries. The parent tribe had, for a long period, dwelt on the islands of the Great Spirit, and the lake itself was, in consequence, called Odawa lake. At the same period, another leading tribe, of adverse lineage, called the Assegun, or Bone, Indians, resided on the upper parts of the lake. Their council fire and tribal seat were established on the island of Michilimackinac. They occupied Point St. Ignace, and also the north shores of the lake, as low down as the influx of the St. Mary's river; and they likewise extended their possessions westward and northward along the shores and islands of Lake Michigan.
To their position on the Manitoulines, the Ottawas refer, as the oldest traditional point in their history. Personal bravery, united with the power of performing miraculous or extraordinary feats, through the influence of necromancy, were the great objects of attainment, and formed a theme for boasting among their heroes. The origin of the tribe they attribute to a renowned personage, whom they called Sagirna. Sagima had been celebrated, during his prime, for deeds of prowess and wisdom, and for his great spiritual power. But he was now tottering under the weight of accumulated years; his brethren had classed him as an Akiwazi, or one long above ground; and he was soon destined to take his long anticipated journey to the symbolical land of the dead, or Indian paradise. Sagima resided with his wife, and had four sons, namely, Wau-be-nace, Wauba, Gitchey Wedau, and the youngest, named after himself, Sagima. It is of the feats of the latter, who was the favorite son, that tradition speaks; for he was not only the pride of his parents, but was also endowed with all the intrepidity, wisdom, and magical power of his father. In his youth, he was noted for his eccentricities, and fool-hardy exploits; when he reached the period of manhood, he evinced great powers of endurance, frequently fasting ten days, and,
after tasting a little food, again renewing his fast; and, when his future guardian spirit was revealed to him, it was the Great Serpent, or Gitchie Kinabik, who lives under the ground and water.
At this time, the Asseguns began to trespass on the territory of the Manatoulines, and killed some of their people. A war with this tribe was the result. Accompanying the warriors, at first as a young volunteer, and concealing the great powers he felt conscious of possessing, Sagima performed feats which drew all eyes upon him. He soon became an efficient warrior, and, in the end, the deliverer of his country. In this contest, the Manatoulines were aided by the Odjibwas, or Chippewas of English history. The first great battle with the Bone Indians, was fought on the peninsula, called by the French, Detour. Sagima then pursued his enemies westward to their entrenchments, on the north shore, near some mounds and bivouacks, the remains of which are still to be seen, northward of St. Ignace. From this position he dislodged them, and took possession of the territory up to Point St. Ignace, where the war terminated, and the Asseguns, crossing the strait to the headland, called Piqutinong, the locality where
After this defeat, the Asseguns fled to the eastern shores of Lake Michigan; but they were finally pursued south to the banks of the Washtenau, called by the French, Grand river. This formed the limit of the Ottawa conquests, and thence they returned to their tribal seat at St. Ignace. The Chippewas, who had been their confederates in this war, settled on Grand Traverse Bay, and at some other locations to the westward, where the two tribes still reside in intercalated villages.
During the prosecution of this war, on the shores of Lake Michigan, the Ottawas and Chippewas became involved in a quarrel with a tribe called, by early writers, Mascoutins, a term, apparently, derived from the phrase Mush-co-dains-ug, or Little Prairie Indians. These Indians appear to have allied themselves with the Bone Indians. Chusco, an aged Ottawa, conversant with their traditions, attributes to them the old cleared fields, and the mounds on the Michigan coast, particularly those on Grand river. 254 From this period the Asseguns and Mascoutins were confederates. The Ottawas and Chippewas, as soon as practicable, pursued them beyond Washtenau river to Chicago, whence they
fled towards the south and west; hence, no further trace of them can be found in the Indian traditions. 255
In an official report of the Indian tribes, made to the government of Canada, in 1736, the Mascoutins are designated as occupying the locality south of Green Bay, and are rated at eighty warriors, which would indicate a population of 400 souls. Bouquet and Hutchins, in their tables, formed in 1764, report them as occupying the same locality, and state their numbers at 500. 256 Modern estimates make no mention of the tribe. In traits and habits, the Mascoutins closely resembled the Kickapoos, and they may possibly have been absorbed in that very nomadic, prairie-loving tribe.
Regarding the Asseguns, referred to in their traditions, as the predecessors of the Algonquins on the upper waters of Lake Huron, it would be hazardous to offer any conjecture, except it be founded on philology, their name appearing to assimilate with the French term, Osages, and they being evidently of the Dakotah or Iroquois stock.
To the events preceding the Assegun wars, we can add no chronology. It seems certain that they occurred prior to the flight of the Wyandots to the lakes, in 1649; for when, in this year, the latter reached the Manatouline group, they found it vacated by the Ottawas, and located their residence on it; hence, as before mentioned, the lake received the name of Huron. Having been allies of the Ottawas, and other Algonquins in the St. Lawrence valley, they were welcomed as friends. Their residence on the island of Michilimackinac, under Adario, in 1688, is mentioned by all the early writers; and, although they were obliged, for a time, to take shelter among the Chippewas of Lake Superior, the growth of the French colony of Detroit enabled the latter to invite them to locate themselves in that vicinity, where, for so long a period, they have occupied a conspicuous place, as the umpire tribe.
By this transfer of the Wyandots to the Lakes, the Algonquin tribes were, in reality, strengthened; for they came thither as friends. By the prior expulsion of the Asseguns and Mascoutins, the wide lake basins had been cleared of all tribes who were adverse to their rule; and they had secured the free use of their lakes, as well as of their hunting grounds. They now began fearlessly to cross the broad waters in their canoes, and soon felt themselves established in the magnificent geographical empire of the great lakes. From the northern limits of Lake Huron, through the straits of St. Mary to Lake Superior, and from Michilimackinac, around the far-spreading shores of Lakes Huron and Michigan, thence, eastwardly to Detroit, and southwardly to the Ohio, there were no languages spoken but those which were derived, more or less recently, from the Algonquin. This generic language was of mild and easy utterance, and possessed a full vocabulary, containing but few sounds not readily enunciated by either the French or the English. The members of these tribes were people of good stature, and pleasing
manners, who readily adopted European modes of conducting their traffic, and of transacting business. They borrowed from the French the complimentary term, Bon jour, on meeting, having, in their own language, no equivalent for that of good-day. If we consider the Algonquin group, which extended south from the site of Chicago to Kaskaskia, and the junction of the Ohio, and north to the Crees, or Kelistenos, of the Lake of the Woods, we find a singular agreement of character. There was no tribe, in all the broad expanse of country named, which did not, with equal ardor, recognise the French manners as the type of civilization and religion.
Chapter III. The Algonquins side with the French in the Great Struggle for Supremacy.
THE French now attempted, by taking formal possession of the Ohio valley, to unite the extreme boundaries of New France, and prevent the extension of the English colonies.
The expulsion of the Asseguns, or Bone Indians, and of the Mascoutins, from the Lake region, in all probability, occurred before the close of the fifteenth century, being prior, at least, to the first landing of Europeans. No notice of it can be found in the works of the earliest writers; the Wasbashas, 257 a tall, bold, turbulent tribe, who may be thought to correspond in character with that people, being, at a primeval period, located in the north, but, after their flight to the south, always on an affluent of the Missouri. Their traditions furnish nothing but an allegory, representing that their origin was derived from a beaver and a shell. 258 If these be symbols, they denote that they lived in a region abounding in trees (the bark of which was their food), and fish; and that their state of life was fortuitous and feeble, from natural, and not from historical causes.
It is uncertain at how early a period the French visited Lake Huron, and the upper lakes, but their first journey thither probably occurred between the year 1608, and Champlain's surrender of Quebec to Kirk, in 1629. Whatever the period was, the Algonquins appear to have then exercised dominion in the country. The Mascoutins, who, by the name, appear to have been of Algonquin lineage, were then located in that territory. The Illinese occupied the valley of the Illinois, and also the left banks of the Mississippi, from its outlet to the influx of the Ohio. The Miamies were seated in the St. Joseph's, or Grand river, valley of Michigan, and the various bands called Michigamies, 259 on the shores of Lake Michigan. The Menomonees occupied the northern shores of Green Bay, and, even as early as 1636, the Mascoutins had been driven to the country lying south of the banks of Fox river. The only acknowledged trans-Mississippian Indian tribe residing on Green Bay was that of the Winnebagoes, which, although of Dakotah origin, had an Algonquin name, and lived in amity with the Algonquins.
That the French succeeded in arraying the numerous and scattered tribes of the Algonquins against the English colonies, is well known to every reader of Americo-Indian history. Intercourse and habits made them one in feeling and policy. Although it has been suggested that the Indian tribes appeared to feel a sense of their ability to crush the primitive English colonies, yet they lacked the power of combination, to make any general movement for that purpose. At every phasis of their history, they felt the necessity of having a European basis of power upon which to lean. In other words, they sought to be allies, and not principals, in the great contests with the colonies; and were, in reality, the flankers, and rarely, or never, the main body of fighting men. From this preference for the French by the Algonquin family of the Lenno Lenapi, the oldest member of it, agreeably to some authorities, may be excepted prior to 1742. In a public council held at Lancaster, during this year, they were ordered by the Iroquois, in a very harsh manner, to remove from the lands they occupied, because they had sold them to Penn, or to other persons, without having received authority. They were directed to take up their residence in the west, and from this date the Delawares were, and have been, regarded as being under French influence. Such reports and suspicions gathered strength from year to year, and this influence followed them westward, until they became residents of the Muskingum river, where the Christian converts were at length massacred.
It was the early developed policy of New France, to employ against the frontier settlements the Indian forces at their command; a power so eminently calculated to annoy and harass, and, without which it does not seem probable they could have so long maintained their ground against the British colonies. Indian warfare is conducted by a species of guerilla force, which, in efficacy, exceeds all others, not only on account of its sanguinary character, but also the suddenness of its attacks, its entire freedom from the annoyances of baggage, and the alacrity with which the warriors charge and disperse. There is no military arm which can at all cope with, or successfully check, these guerilla parties, as it is their policy never to risk an open battle; consequently, when the clumsy infantry and dragoon soldier is sent into the woods to cope with such a supple, and nearly invisible enemy, he appears to be little more than a target for a ball or an arrow.
A review of the French colonial policy, from the days of Champlain to those of Montcalm, develops the fact that the Indian power was one of their most effective means of offence. The great conflicts on land and ocean did not produce the most intense results; for, during all this period, extending over 150 years, 260 it was the Indian war parties and marauding expeditions, which infested the frontiers from Virginia to the small towns of New England, that committed deeds thrilling upon the senses, and frequently making the heart sick. Men, women, and children, sent unheralded into eternity, at midnight, by the war-club and scalping-knife; blazing
tenements, cruel and prolonged captivities, death at the stake, and murder in its most horrid forms, constituted the main incidents of this epoch.
An Indian considers 100 miles but a short distance, and 1000 miles as not a long one to march, when the purpose he has in view is to glut his vengeance, or gratify himself. He is not a man who pines for the enjoyments of home, there is not much to attach him to it; to camp in the woods is his delight, and the wilderness is, comparatively, his dwelling. Time passes lightly with him, its pace never wearies him; and anything which cheats him of the very idea of its passage, is pleasant. He is always at leisure, and death itself receives a rather friendly welcome. To journey to Fort Du Quesne, Erie, Oswego, Niagara, or Quebec, for the trifling present of a gun, a blanket, or a kettle, a pound of powder, a gorget, or a flag, was, in point of enterprise, considered as nothing for an Indian chief. To him, to whom time is nothing, and wandering a pleasure, the toil is ten times overpaid by the reward. He naturally esteems gifts, and habitually loves the giver. France was, to the Indian, the beau ideal of all that was admirable in a foreign power, combining generosity with amiable manners and kindness of demeanor.
The French, by multiplying forts on the frontiers, most surely extended their influence. They had, from an early period, occupied positions on every important western river or lake; and, by taking formal possession of the Ohio valley, in 1753, they consummated a long cherished scheme, and environed the western colonies with a cincture of scorpions. Western Virginia and Pennsylvania groaned under the new inflictions of savage vengeance; and, from this time, the Indian forays on the western frontiers became incessant, being perfectly unexampled in our history for their frequency, and the cruelty, or, rather, barbarous inhumanity which characterized them; murders, ambuscades, and tortures, becoming the terror of the settlers. Not the least important feature in the policy which directed these Indian wars, was the countenance that they received from the French officials at Vincennes, Kaskaskia, Fort Chartres, Detroit, Miami, Sandusky, and other minor posts. It was these depredations, and the policy which directed them, that first brought Washington into the field.
The Gallic and Anglo-Saxon powers were now fairly pitted against each other, and it was evident that this new phasis of French aggression must soon lead to a general conflict. France or England must rule America. The British ministry had, in some measure, prepared for this struggle. The local commerce had necessitated the erection of Fort London, in the valley of Virginia. Fort Cumberland had been previously built on the Potomac, Fort Stanwix at the head of the Mohawk, Forts Anne and Edward on the sources of the Hudson, and Fort William Henry on Lake George. These formed the chief defences in the middle of the eighteenth century; and, from the close of Queen Anne's war, they were supported by occasional detachments of veteran troops, who had served under the Duke of Marlborough, and other distinguished officers. These forts served as defences to the frontiers, enabling the colonies to preserve their existence; but they were not sufficiently powerful to roll back the tide of aggression.
Chapter IV. The Iroguois Adhere to the English.
To counteract this policy, the English found it necessary to call in the aid of the Iroquois cantons. The Indian is more gratified with a present of ten dollars' worth of merchandise, than if he had received twenty times the value in money, as a permanent annuity. Early partakers of the benefits resulting from Anglo-Saxon proximity of settlement and commerce, they became firm friends to all who belonged to that race. The warlike Mohawks were the most prominent tribe in the confederacy, at the time of the discovery of the Hudson. They found a very good market for their furs, which rendered them affluent in every comfort of Indian life; and they adhered to their early relations with a perfectly unabated and unchanging steadiness. After being furnished with guns, the Mohawks revisited Lake Champlain, where they encountered the renewed energies of Canada, and, in a short time, induced all the cantons to join them. Another great advantage accrued to them, at this period, in the employment of fire-arms against their enemies at the south and west. The introduction of gunpowder into America revolutionized the entire Indian mode of life. The expeditions became not only more lengthy, but were also characterized by greater frequency; and, in a short time, no tribe could withstand them. Ambition stimulated every canton, and, before the surrender of the province to the English, in 1664, the council fire, at Onondaga, burned still brighter and more fiercely. Unaided by this influence, New York, as well as the northern and central British colonies, could not have protected so wide a frontier without any extraneous aid. They frustrated the plan for establishing a mission at the old French fields, in Madison county, 261 as also at Onondaga, 261 in western New York. They likewise defeated the armies of Frontenac, and of Denonville.
An agency was also established in the Iroquois country, which, from little beginnings, at length systematically controlled this power for the protection and furtherance of the interests of the English colonies. This was the one which became so celebrated under the management of Sir William Johnson. Johnson emigrated to America in 1734, and, having undertaken the management of an estate in the Mohawk valley, for
Sir Peter Warren, embarked in the fur trade, and learned the Indian language. He frequently accompanied the Iroquois delegates, who went to Albany to transact business with the government; and therein evinced so much tact, and such an intimate knowledge of the Indian dialects, that, in a few years, the superintendency of this department of government in the British colonies was committed to his care. The Iroquois had been constantly gaining in power during the previous century, and the authority which they now exercised over the tribes in the north, south, and west, enabled Johnson, through their means, to exert a controlling influence. He combined within himself the faculties of close observation, great prudence, judgment, decision, energy, and courage. By his judicious management of affairs and of a large private estate, he acquired a just appreciation of Indian character, and great popularity with the Iroquois. His Indian policy imitated, and even surpassed in efficiency, that of the French. He paid the utmost deference to their ancient ceremonial, not to say oriental, mode of transacting public business. He received their delegates and foreign ambassadors with great ceremony, listened to them patiently, and answered them carefully; made them liberal and judicious presents; and ordered every attention to be paid to their personal wants. No Indian who came to him, ever went away hungry, or in want, from his agency; and no one ever complained that he had not received an audience. The Indian is always greatly influenced by the respect with which he is received; no European can be more so. He has a high opinion of himself, of his position, and of his destiny; he does not know that he is a savage; he does not feel the want of our knowledge, our letters, our religion; he is a patient, courteous, dignified listener; he regards the features and expression of a man with great attention, and is a good judge of general character; he is prone to approbativeness, values approval, appreciates kindness, and is altogether reliable as a personal friend.
Such were the materials of the power which Johnson undertook to control. He regarded the proud, noble, but untutored Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca sachems, with their principle of cantonal representation, and confederate unity, as, in some measure, a reproduction of the Amphyctionic council. He sent formal messages to them, desiring their attendance, whenever occasion required it. This careful attention greatly pleased them, and, if it was ever delayed, they refused to obey it. Distance was immaterial to him, as he found it was nothing to them. Meeting together in council, they transmitted the message to the most distant places. Under the honored title of Mingoes, portions of the Iroquois stock resided in the Ohio valley, and served as diplomatic agents, to communicate intelligence. The most distant valleys of the west, and the remotest lakes of the north, were thus made accessible; and the relations of the Illinois, and of the tribes of Michilimackinac, Detroit, Niagara and Oswego, were as well understood at his nominal seat, on Tribes' Hill, in the Mohawk valley, as those of Genesee. Albany, and the Cahöatatea. The high rank which he held in the New York militia, caused him to be employed on some of the
most important services, and he achieved several momentous victories in the war with the French. No one can peruse the history of New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, or Virginia, nay, even of the States further south, from the beginning of the eighteenth century to the era of the Revolutionary War, without observing how intimately the Indian policy of these colonies was connected with the Iroquois supremacy, and how completely Sir William controlled it, through a well-established system of subordinates. Governors of States thought it no derogation from their dignity to meet the delegated Iroquois sachems in general council, and their sanction was deemed essential to all purchases of land, and questions of boundary, even to the utmost limits of Virginia and Kentucky.
Chapter V. The Western Indians Unite to Sustain France in the Possession of the Ohio Valley.
THE Indians never understood the benefit of combination sufficiently to resist, alone and in their own strength, the inroads of the European powers; although, in all the early epochs, they held the balance of power between them. The struggle which was at this period brewing on the western frontiers, was not only for the possession of supremacy on the Ohio, but, in fact, as became apparent in a few years, for the control of the entire Mississippi valley. It was a contest which would decide whether France or England should govern in America. The Indians were so far a party to the contest, that it was necessary for each nation to pay their court to them, and there was no surer method of acquiring their good will than by respecting their ancient mode of holding councils, and paying due reverence to their ceremonial rites and customs. To smoke a national pipe, to deliver a belt of wampum beads, to present a chief with a medal or a flag, were, in their eyes, acts of the most momentous importance. To do nothing in a hurry, to deliberate slowly, to measure, as it were, the importance of events by the time devoted to the performance of their ceremonies, were to the Indians very pleasing evidences of capacity for negotiation. When an Indian orator arose and pointed to the zenith, to the nadir, to the place of the sun and moon, and to the cardinal points, he fancied himself to be surrounded by a pantheon of supernal and spiritual influences. He loved this pomp of ceremonies, and he felt complimented to see an European official respect them. Trifles lead to success.
Light talk and frivolous manners never failed to be estimated by the old Indian sages at their true worth. They are considered as evidences of the want of sober thought and fixed purpose. It has been mentioned that the inroads of the Indians, which either preceded, or succeeded the occupation of the Ohio valley by the French, had the effect to bring Washington into that field of adventurous action. We are informed that he was but sixteen, when he first began his explorations on the Alleghany chain. 262 Five years of manly exercise, and experience in the life of woodcraft, surveying, and exploration, had given him a shrewd insight into Indian character, and prepared
him for further and more important trusts in a department of service, requiring, above all others, perpetual vigilance and precaution. And if, in the estimation of the Indians and the pioneers, he surpassed the others engaged with him, it was doubtless owing to the Indians' appreciation of the solidity of his character. Tanacharisson, who was the head sachem of the Mingo-Iroquois of the Ohio valley, was the presiding chief in the first council, or consultation, in which Washington took part. In fact, he was well known among the tribes, and performed, at the place of his residence, the duties of a Charge d'Affairs in modern diplomacy, as the half king, Scarooyadi, did on the Juniata, and Skilelamo on the Susquehanna. Favorably impressed, from the first, the Indian remained a firm friend of the enterprising Virginian to the day of his death.
The double interest created by the fine soil and climate of Ohio, and by apprehension of the hostility of its native tribes, strongly directed the minds of Virginians to that quarter, and, at sundry times, they despatched agents to visit the country, and report its position, resources, and the feelings of the Indians. Among these reconnoissances, those of Croghan, Gist, and Trent, constitute marked epochs in the history of Indian policy and sentiments. The result of these missions, which extended to the Wabash and the Scioto, denoted that French influence was predominant; and that the Algonquin tribes generally, were in close alliance with that power, while the Mingoes expressed friendly opinions of the English. From a remark made by a Delaware sachem to one of their agents, it appeared to be a question, not whether Indians possessed, or wished to occupy any part of the country, but simply whether the French or English should have possession of it. 263 A year or two passed in rather fruitless efforts to obtain a better knowledge of Indian affairs in the Ohio, and in endeavors to adjust matters on a better footing. Governor Dinwiddie, at length deeming it proper to send an agent to the French authorities at the post of Presque Isle, on Lake Erie, committed the trust to Washington, whose experience on that frontier, together with his judgment and discretion, well qualified him for the task. Accompanied by a French interpreter, Washington left Williamsburg, the seat of government, on the 30th of October, 1753. He rode on horseback across the Alleghanies. At Cumberland, Mr. Gist joined him as Indian interpreter, and, at another point, a second interpreter and four experienced woodsmen were added to his cavalcade. All the rivers were so swollen, that he was compelled to swim the horses across. He reached the junction of the Monongahela and Alleghany rivers (now the site of Pittsburg) without accident, and pointed out that spot as a suitable and desirable location for a fort. In that vicinity he found a Delaware sachem, named Shingiss, who gave him directions for finding Logstown, the residence of Tanacharisson, the half king. He reached that place after sunset in the evening, but the chief was absent. He immediately sent runners to invite him to an interview, and the chief arrived at his lodge the next day. He discovered
him to be intelligent, patriotic, and tenacious of his territorial rights. He received him with courtesy, and despatched messengers to some of the other chiefs to invite them to a council. They arrived the following day, when he laid before them the purport of his instructions from the governor of Virginia, and requested guides to conduct him to the French posts, and a safe conduct on the way. A pause then ensued. The council having deliberated formally on the matter, the half-king arose, assumed an oratorical attitude, and gave his assent, declaring that the English and themselves were one people, and that he intended to return the French belts; thus, in the usual form of Indian diplomacy, rejecting their overtures. A delay of three days was required to summon the Indians from their camps, and secure their compliance, after which Washington was furnished with the required guides and aids. He was accompanied, also, by the half-king, by Jeskakake, a Shawnee, and by another chief, named the Belt-keeper, or White Thunder. They reached the post of Venango, a distance of seventy miles, in four days. This was but an outpost of the fortress near Presque Isle. After witnessing some of the peculiar manoeuvrings and intrigues of both French and Indian diplomacy, Washington proceeded to the latter, where he was received with ceremonious politeness by the commandant, St. Pierre. The purport of these details is merely to demonstrate how the Indian character fluctuated, under the operation of two diverse sets of counsels. Tanacharisson, the Mingo sachem, remained faithful to his professions, and informed Washington of the result of a secret council with St. Pierre, in which it was decided that a present of goods should be sent to secure the good will of his village at Logstown. The entire journey was fraught with unusual peril and hardship, being performed amid the severity of winter; and its results furnish, us with a good view of Indian character, as swayed by the alternating emotions of hope and fear, and by the operation of motives of self-interest on the Indian mind. The result of the mission was, however, unsuccessful. Early in the spring of 1754 the French took possession of the point at the junction of the Alleghany and Monongahela rivers, dislodging a party of men engaged in the same work, under Captain Trent, of the Virginia militia, and erected Fort Du Quesne. The English had been overreached, and a fixed point established, whence to control Indian action. The spirits of the Indian allies of the French had been raised to the highest pitch, and the power of the English colonists defied.
Chapter VI. Nationality of the Indians in Braddock's Defeat.
CIVILIZED communities regard success as the result of superior judgment; but, with the Indians, it is the effect of an impulsive, irresistible movement, under the operation of which judgment gives place to hope, and they are incited to such infuriate action as to produce confusion in the ranks of the enemy. Fort Du Quesne had no sooner been established, than it became a centre for the direction of Indian movements in the west. Far and near they resorted to it. Feasts, dances, and the distribution of presents, were the order of the day, and the vicinity resounded with shouts and songs. The frontiers of the English colonies were speedily subjected to Indian inroads and attacks. Dinwiddie, by his tardy movements, had lost his vantage-ground, and Virginia enterprise, though directed by its best men, failed to recover its former position. The year 1754 was characterized by alarms, murders, apprehension, the formation of plans, and their failure. There was no security on the frontiers, from Carolina to Pennsylvania, nor in western New York. The Catawbas and Cherokees had not been employed to counteract the movements of the western Indians; this measure was not thought of in the zeal of the Ohio company to effect settlements, or in the efforts of the local military forces to dislodge the French. Washington defeated Jumonville by a brisk movement, displaying great enterprise and decision; but he was himself compelled to surrender to a vastly superior force, at Fort Necessity.
The year 1755 afforded but a gloomy prospect for the cause of the colonies. Never before, perhaps, had they been so boldly threatened by the combined power of the Indians and the French. The Alleghanies were the natural barriers between the east and the west. To retrieve their position in the west, and to open the way for future emigration beyond the Alleghanies, where there are, at present, fifteen new States, the British cabinet sent out two regiments of veteran troops, under the command of General Braddock, who was a proud, high-disciplined soldier, despising the very name of an Indian, and deeming him incapable of making any impression on the solid columns of a regular army. Braddock had learned the art of war on the battle-fields of Europe, and disdained all skulking and dodging, which is the real art of Indian warfare. He underrated the colonial troops and frontiersmen, not only because they were not highly disciplined, but because they had, to some extent, adopted the hunter mode of warfare. His landing at Alexandria, the glitter and parade of war which pervaded his movements,
his councils with the colonial governors, and the wide-spread fame of the expedition, which was designed to cross the Alleghanies, filled the entire country. Braddock was clothed with the fullest powers by the king. Colonial governors waited upon him, and expectation had reached the highest pitch of excitement. At no previous period had such an army been landed in America. Among those who waited on him at Alexandria, was General William Johnson, charged by the New York colonial government with the control of Indian affairs in the Mohawk valley, and among the Iroquois. Braddock appointed him Superintendent-General of Indian affairs in America, clothed him with ample powers, and provided him with funds. 264 Braddock completed his arrangements. Filling up his regiments with the best recruits, having an ample military chest, a well-arranged quartermaster's department, the most experienced guides and pioneers, and Washington himself as an aid in his personal staff, it is not strange that he conquered every delay, and surmounted difficulties of a semi-Alpine character, in conveying his troops and cannon over the intricate passes of the Alleghany range, and in reaching the dark and turbid, yet placid waters of the Monongahela. But it is wonderful that, after this long and laborious march, during which a passage for his platoons had been cut through forests of thick trees, tangled with brushwood, and the artillery had been sometimes lowered over steep precipices by sailors, with ropes; and, although he was aware that a wild, Arab-like enemy was shouting around him; it is wonderful that, under these circumstances, he should not have proposed to meet this subtle foe in the manner best calculated to defeat them, and that he turned a deaf ear to all the counsels of experience. Up to the fatal 9th of July, the army marched through a narrow vista, twelve feet wide, cut through a dense forest, into which the eye could scarce penetrate. But, in such a forest, it would have been strange, if eight hundred warriors, led by French commanders, and concealed behind trees, from the shelter of which they took sure and steady aim, should not, in a short time, shoot down every officer, whose cockade and sword were distinctive marks, and also quickly annihilate the common soldiers. This was, indeed, fencing against flails, and fighting against hope. The forest itself seemed to be armed; "Birnam wood" was advancing, and filled with hostile foes. In an almost incredibly short time, 700 men and their officers lay dead on the field; the advanced columns, panic-struck, commenced a flight, which nothing could check; the General himself fell, and that proud army which, in early morning had crossed the Monongahela in gallant array, with drums beating and colors flying, fled like sheep before wolves, abandoning their cannon, their ammunition, and their wounded to their implacable foes. Washington, who became the guardian angel of the remnant of the troops left on the field, had two horses shot under him, and four bullets driven through his clothes. This defeat was effected by the western and northern Indians, the
Chippewas, Ottawas, Pottawattamies, and Wyandots, who were chiefly of Algonquin lineage. The French Indians, from the lakes, were present in great force; and it has been surmised that Pontiac himself was their leader. The Iroquois were not on the field in their tribal character, although some Mingoes 265 and Senecas were present. Johnson had urged the necessity of sending the warriors with Braddock, but they declined. 266 The utmost result of his efforts was, that they promised not to oppose him.
It is an error to suppose that Braddock was the only one who placed no faith in the efficiency of Indian guerilla warfare. Educated military men, in all ages of our history, have been prone to undervalue the Indian system; and these opinions are held by officers at the present day. If the battle is not always to the strong, it cannot be expected that David, with his sling, will always kill Goliath; but well-drilled armies must be efficiently protected on their flanks, and an accurate adaptation of means to ends must ever be preserved in the tangled forest, which cannot be penetrated, as well as on the level plain, where the view is uninterrupted. The heavy, camp-fed, clumsy-footed soldier is never a match, in the forest, for the light, active Indian warrior. A review of our Indian history, from Braddock's day to the present era, proves that a small Indian force in ambuscade, is an equivalent for, or will overmatch, ten times its number of regular troops, who adhere to the system of fighting in platoons. The regulars are either thrown into confusion, become panic-struck, are slaughtered in large numbers, or are totally defeated. Such was the result of Colonel Harmer's attempt to ford the Miami, and of St. Clair's to penetrate the Wabash woods. General Wayne, who was like a lion, where there was an opportunity to fight, as at Stony Point, was obliged to abandon the ground on which Fort Recovery was subsequently built. During two entire years he contended against tribes of active warriors, whose fathers, nay, some among themselves, had fought against Braddock. It was not until caution had made him wise, and he attained a true knowledge of Indian wood-craft, that he finally prevailed against them, on the Miami of the Lakes. It was there that he met the Miamis, Piankashaws, and Weas, under Little Turtle, and the same leaders who had opposed Harmer and St. Clair. They were leagued with the Chippewas, Ottawas, Pottawattamies, Delawares, Shawnees, and other Algonquin tribes, who, with the Wyandots, had overthrown Braddock. It is not, however, certain that, if the ambuscade so successfully and warily constructed, in a wide field of heavy grass, at the Miami rapids, had been laid in a dense forest, where horses would have been useless, the result would not have been very different.
What, but the neglect of caution, or temerity in underrating Indian prowess and
aboriginal tactics, can be assigned for the occurrence of the dreadful massacre of Major Dade and his command, by the Seminoles?
It has been asserted, 267 that there were but 637 Indians engaged in the action which resulted in Braddock's defeat. These consisted principally of Ottawas, Odjibwas, and Pottawattainies, from Michigan; Shawnees, from Grave Creek and the river Muskingum; Delawares from the Susquehanna; Abinakis and Caughnawagas from Canada; and Hurons, or Wyandots, from the mission of Lorette and the Montreal falls, under Athanase, a Canadian. The whole were commanded by the popular Beaujeau, who was killed early in the action. This force, including the recreant Abinakis, was, as may be seen, entirely of the Algonquin family, with the exception of the Hurons, a segregated Iroquois tribe, who had always sided with the French, and a few "scattered warriors from the Six Nations." To this force were added 146 Canadian militia, and 72 regular troops, who fought according to the Indian mode. It is impossible that such a defeat could have occurred under ordinary circumstances; and the fact conclusively attests the efficacy of an Indian auxiliary force as a vanguard to regular troops, in a wild forest country, where they can screen themselves from observation, and bid defiance to the death-dealing artillery, or the attacks of dragoons. No event in American military annals cast such a blight on American hopes, as this defeat. After the lapse of a full century, a thrill of horror still creeps through the veins at the recital. 268
Chapter VII. The Iroquois Policy Favors the English.
THE sachem commissioner, Tanacharisson, and his successor, Scarooyadi, had evinced a firm friendship for the English on the Ohio border, in conformity with the general policy of the New York Iroquois tribes, while they at the same time freely condemned the English for their tardy movements, and their non-adoption of the Indian mode of warfare.
The ultimate consequences of the defeat on the Monongahela were most disastrous. Rumor rapidly disseminated the news in every direction, and all the colonies felt the effects of the blow. The dread of Indian massacres disturbed the quiet of every hamlet; nor was their alarm without due foundation. A band of 150 savages crossed the Alleghanies, and ravaged the frontiers of Virginia and Maryland. Foremost in these forays were the Delawares, under Shingiss, whose ire appeared to have received an additional stimulus from the recent triumph of the Gallic-Indian forces. The Delawares had long felt the wrong which they suffered in being driven from the banks of the Delaware and the Susquehanna, although it was primarily owing to their ancient enemies and conquerors, the Iroquois, whose policy had ever been a word and a blow. The Shawnees, friends and relatives of the Delawares, had been, from the first, a revengeful, warlike, roving people. Originating in the extreme south, they had flitted over half the continent, fighting with every tribe they encountered, until they reached the extreme shores of Lake Erie, where, under the ominous name of Satanas, 269 they were defeated by the Iroquois, and thence fled to the Delaware, and subsequently to the Ohio valley. From an early period they were avowed enemies of the colonies, and this enmity never ceased, until after the overthrow, in 1814, of the wide-spread conspiracy of Tecumseh. Both tribes, in lineage, as well as in language, were Algonquins, and adopted their policy; from first to last being cruel enemies in war, in peace, treacherous friends.
While the gloom caused by the defeat of Braddock, and the evidences of Indian hostility, which assumed a tangible shape during the autumn and winter of 1753, still
hung like a cloud on the western frontier, an auspicious sign appeared in the East. The Iroquois threw the weight of their influence in the English scale. It having been a part of the original plan of the campaign to take Crown Point, on Lake Champlain, this enterprise was entrusted to General William Johnson, an officer of the New York militia, whose settlement in the Mohawk valley, and influence with the Indians, have been previously mentioned. Johnson was placed in command of 5000 or 6000 New York and New England militia, and a chosen body of Mohawk warriors under
Chapter VIII. Taking of Forth William Henry, on Lake George, and the Plunder and Murder of Prisoners by the French Indians, Contrary to the Terms of Capitulation.
A SLIGHT review of events will enable us to appreciate the existing position of affairs. The colonists struggled on, through periods of terror which followed in close succession. The defeat of Braddock, by an Indian ambuscade, was still fresh in the memory of all, not a twelvemonth having elapsed, when the announcement of the disastrous capture of Fort William Henry rang through the colonies with startling effect. In 1757, Montcalm, the active Governor-General of Canada, crossed Lake Champlain, the Andiatora of the Iroquois, 271 with a reputed force of 4000 or 5000 men, accompanied by a very large body of diverse tribes of northern and western Indians, of the Algonquin family, collected from the great lakes, and from the valley of the St. Lawrence. A person present when this force approached the fort, represents Lake George to have been entirely covered with batteaux and canoes, which, combined with their banners and music, formed a scene of military display and magnificence, heightened by the wild and picturesque brilliance of the Indian costume, that has seldom been equalled.
The soldiers anxiously gazed over the walls of the fort at the approaching force, as at a panorama. During five days the fort was defended with intrepidity, by Colonel Munro, who had a garrison of 500 regular troops, supported by a body of provincials. It was closely besieged, while the Indians, encamped on the surrounding fields, made the forest ring with their shouts and war songs, and illuminated the obscurity of night with their numerous camp-fires. About 3000 provincials, who were encamped outside the fort, took refuge within the works, as soon as the enemy arrived. 272 The siege was stoutly maintained, a hope being entertained that reinforcements, which had been demanded, would arrive from Fort Edward. But, unfortunately, a letter from General Webb, the commandant of the latter post, apprising Munro that no reinforcement could be sent, and advising him to surrender, fell into the hands of Montcalm's Indians; and, with this letter in his possession, Montcalm summoned the garrison to surrender.
One of the terms of the capitulation was that the army should march out with their arms, but without ammunition, and, with all the camp followers, should have a safe-conduct to Fort Edward. Fatal error! The wolves were to behold their prey and not gloat.
Circumstances would seem to indicate, that not only Braddock, but the British officers generally, were slow in obtaining a knowledge of the character of the Indians in time of war; when they are governed by hopes of plunder and impulse; the desire to obtain
Lieutenant-Governor De Lancey, in a letter, written August 24, 1757, observes: "Montcalm, under his own eyes, and in the face of about 3000 regular troops, suffered the Indians to rob and strip them, officers as well as men, of all they had, and left most of them naked." 274
To strip the clothes from a man's back, and not to cleave his head with the tomahawk, was remarkable forbearance on the part of the Indians.
The nation that employs Indians in war, places itself in the position of a person who taps a broad lake, leading the waters, by a little stream, through a sand-bank. When the current swells, he cannot control it, and the augmented flood sweeps everything before it.
Chapter IX. State of Indian Affairs in the Interior, during the Period Between the Defeat of Deiskau, and the Capture of Fort du Quesne.
AFTER the defeat of Braddock, the British interest with the Indians rapidly declined. As Indians judge alone from appearances, it was not an easy task to convince them that the English power had not permanently failed. Johnson, who had, in the spring of 1755, been appointed by Braddock the Superintendent-General of British Indian affairs, began his new duties as soon as he reached New York, and labored earnestly to restore confidence among the Iroquois and Algonquin tribes. No one can carefully examine the records of his proceedings without being convinced that he labored zealously. He was thoroughly acquainted with the geography of the country, as also with the Indian power and resources in America, from north to south, and as intimately conversant with the true character of the aborigines. In his speeches, he stripped them of their guises, laid bare their secret impulses, and pointed out to them their interests in clear and bold terms. 275 During sixty years, commencing with the foundation of New Orleans, in 1699, the French influence among the Indians had been on the increase. The noble enterprise of La Salle, and his followers, who passed through the great lakes, and down the Mississippi, singing as they went; the gay and sprightly manners of the French; their ready adaptiveness to a nomadic course of life, replete with novelty and breathing the spirit of personal independence; together with their entire political and religious policy, impressed the Indians with almost indelible emotions of pleasure and approbation. The French required no cessions of land, built no factories, traded with them in a free and easy way, and did not fill the Indian mind with the idea of the coming of a people who, by the progressive inroads of labor and letters, would eventually sweep them from the earth. Whatever was the cause, certainly no other European nation ever acquired such an ample and wide-spread influence over them. 276
Immediately after returning from Alexandria, Sir William Johnson assembled a very
large number of Indians, some accounts say 1200, at his place on the Mohawk, to whom he communicated the fact of his new appointment. He made them offers in this assembly, for the purpose of restoring their lost confidence in the English, and detach them from the French interests, to inspire them with a just estimation of the power of Britain, and to interest them in the British cause objects in which he, by perseverance, succeeded. He eloquently plead for their assent to his proposal to send a body of warriors with General Braddock, but in this he was unsuccessful. Good diplomatists at all times, they met him by a declaration that the governor of Virginia, who was not a favorite, had, as in the case of the Ohio company, intruded on their lands in the Ohio valley, where their sachem, Tanacharisson, resided; and that it was a suddenly originated proposal, which required deliberation. They also, for reasons stated, declined accompanying General Shirley, to Oswego; but agreed to assist him in the contemplated attack on Crown Point, to the command of the forces detailed for which purpose he had been appointed. The latter promise was promptly fulfilled, and, at the defeat of Deiskau, on the banks of Lake George, the Mohawks, under Hendrick, acquitted themselves in such a manner as to gain a high reputation. 277
The victory at Lake George was the turning point in the ascendency of the British influence with the Iroquois and their allies, which had been at a very low ebb at the commencement of the French war, in 1744. The fame which followed this victory aided greatly in raising Johnson in the estimation of the Indians, and from this date the Indian political horizon began to brighten. In a letter to the Lords of Trade, dated September 28, 1757, Johnson points out their true policy, while he warns them of the deep-rooted dislike which the Indians entertained against the reckless conduct of the colonial patentees, who had made the encroachments on their lands, of which the Indians complain. "By presents and management, we may be able to keep some little interest yet alive, and induce some nations to a course of neutrality; but I am apprehensive that more expense, speeches and promises (so often repeated and so little regarded), will never be able to effect a favorable revolution in our Indian interests, and deprive the French of the advantages they have over us by their Indian alliances. I would be understood, my Lords, that there is no alternative, by which we may possibly avail ourselves, so as to keep an even hand with the Indians, BUT REDUCING THE FRENCH TO OUR TERMS, WOULD ENABLE US TO GIVE LAW TO THE INDIANS." 278
This became the British policy; belts and speeches were inadequate to the result. It was a contest between England and France, which must be settled, and the nation that gained it would control the Indians. The triumph at Lake George, in which action
taking of Fort William Henry, and the conduct of Montcalm, only gave a new impulse to the vigor with which England prepared to contest the supremacy.
No one understood better than Johnson the position of the two parties contending for the Indian sway, and, in a very general council, convened at his Hall on the Mohawk, April 19, 1767, at which the Shawnees, and other Algonquin tribes, as well as the Iroquois, were present, he handled the French without gloves.
"Brethren, listen, and I will tell you the difference between the English and French. The English desire and labor to unite all Indians into one general bond of brotherly love and national interest. The French endeavor to divide the Indians and stir up war and contention amongst them. Those who intend to destroy or enslave any people or nation, will first endeavor to divide them. This you and all the Indians upon this continent know has always been, and continues to be, the endeavors of the French. But though this is a fact which I think all the Indians must certainly see, yet the French have found means, somehow or other, so to bewitch their understandings, as to make many of them believe they love the Indians, and mean well towards them. 'Tis very strange, brethren, that any one man, much more any number of men, who are not either mad or drunk, can believe that stirring up brethren to spill each other's blood, dividing them from one another, and making parties among them, are proofs of love, and marks of friendly design towards them. Not less unaccountable is it, brethren, that the French should be able to persuade the Indians, that building forts in the middle of their country and hunting-grounds, is for their interest and protection. I tell you, brethren, and I warn you, that whatever good words the French may give you, how much soever they may now smile upon you, whatever presents they may now make you, your chains are in their pockets, and when their designs are ripe for execution, they will take the axe out of their bosom and strike it into your heads. But this they know they cannot do until you have broken the Covenant Chain with your brethren, the English, and taken up the axe against them. 'Tis for this reason the French are always endeavoring, by lies, by presents, by promises, to stir up all Indians to fall upon the English settlements, and destroy their best friends and faithful brethren; and many Indians have been so wicked and so foolish, as, in spite of treaties and ancient friendship, to become the dogs of the French, and come and go as they commanded them.
"Brethren, if the Indians do not return to their senses, they will see and feel when it is too late, that they have ruined themselves, enslaved their posterity, and lost their country. They will find their country fortified by the French, not against the English, but against the Indians themselves.
"Brethren, what I have said, and am going to say, I say not to you only, but to all Indians; and I desire you will, with this belt, make it known amongst all the nations you have any acquaintance or connections with.
"Tell them, from me, to look at the French forts, built, and building through the
middle of their country, and on their best hunting lands. Let them look at the French flags, flying in their forts at all the great lakes, along the great rivers, in order to oblige them to trade with the French only, sell their skins, and take goods for them at what prices the French please to put on them. And it is a thing well known to all Indians, that the French cannot sell them goods near as cheap as the English can, nor in such assortments and plenty."
To renew the attempt of Braddock had been the original plan of General Shirley, but the following year elapsed in merely concerting measures. The plan of the campaign of 1758, contemplated the reduction of Crown Point, on Lake Champlain, and of Fort Du Quesne, on the Ohio. General Abercrombie, who undertook the former, aided by a large army, suffered a repulse. Lord Howe fell while leading an attack, and when, in a few days, it was renewed against an impregnable breastwork of horizontal trees, they were compelled to retreat to Fort Edward. The Mohawks who were present at this assault, looked on with amazement at this exhibition of heroic but injudicious bravery. As an episode to this siege, Colonel Bradstreet proceeded by a sudden march to Oswego, with the Iroquois in his train, and crossing Lake Ontario in batteaux, surprised and took Fort Frontenac, capturing a large amount of supplies, as well as arms, and returned triumphantly.
The reduction of Fort Du Quesne was intrusted to General Forbes. He marched from Philadelphia, with an army of 5800 regulars and provincials, and a commissary and quartermaster's force of 1000 wagoners. Washington joined him at Fort Cumberland, with his regiment of Virginians. At Raystown, Forbes sent Colonel Bouquet forward with 2000 men; but, in a spirit of confidence, Bouquet dispatched 800 of this force, under Colonel Grant, to make observations in advance. The latter commander was surprised on hills overlooking the fort, by M. Aubrey, with 700 or 800 Frenchmen, and an unnumbered force of Indians, his troops defeated and dreadfully slaughtered. Retreating to Bouquet's position, with the baggage, the camp was attacked with great fury and obstinacy, but by a ruse that officer sustained himself, and retreated successfully with his forces, after much severe fighting and many casualties. The loss at Grant's defeat, was numerically greater in proportion to those engaged, than was sustained at Braddock's. Thirty-five officers were killed or wounded. The prisoners taken by the Indians, served, as it were, to surfeit their barbarity and cruelty, and deter them from proceeding further, for, after reaching Du Quesne, they soon dispersed, and deserted the fort. On the arrival of General Forbes, the combined force moved on with regularity, exciting apprehension and alarm. On the 24th of November, the army reached, and encamped at, Turtle Creek, within twelve miles of the fort.
No Indians were descried by the scouts, and the night passed away without alarm. On the 25th, at an early hour, the army was put in motion, and, as the advance-guard approached the location of the fort, they observed large columns of smoke, and, at intervals, heard heavy explosions. The indications could not be mistaken. The fort
had been abandoned after being set on fire its artillery being embarked for the Illinois, and its infantry for Lake Erie. The defeat of Grant, and the prisoners captured, had proved an escape valve for Indian barbarity. After practising the most inhuman tortures upon the prisoners, whose bleached skeletons lined the approach to the fort, and after rioting in debauch, they had, with their usual impatience, returned to their forest homes, leaving General Forbes to advance unmolested, and abandoning De Legneris, the French commander. On the 25th, the column advanced in force, and the British flag was triumphantly planted on the fort by General Forbes, who bestowed upon it the name of the celebrated British minister, Pitt. The western line of the colonial frontiers was thus advanced to the river Ohio. 279 From this period, Indian warfare found its principal field of development west of, and beyond that border, truly called the River of the Beautiful, by the Indian tribes.
Chapter X. The Iroquois Abandon their Neutral Position in the War Between the English and French.
AT the victory obtained on Lake George, in 1755, a year so disastrous to the British army, the Mohawks alone, of the six Iroquois cantons, were present, with Johnson, their beloved Warraghiyagay, and two hundred warriors, headed by the great
The Iroquois had, from the remotest antiquity, enjoyed the reputation of eloquent orators, and expert diplomatists. But Johnson was not a man to be dazzled by words and speeches, while the weightier matter of action was in abeyance. In a general conference with the Onondaga and more westerly tribes, held June 16th, 1757, nearly two years subsequent to his victory on Lake George, in which the Mohawks had so nobly supported him, he alluded to this matter, and proceeded to dispose of some of their diplomatic subterfuges.
"Brethren, you tell me the reason you did not make use of the hatchet I sharpened for you last summer, when I was at Onondaga, and at which time I also painted and feathered your warriors for action, was, because you found yourselves in danger from the Missisagas, and, therefore, were obliged to let my hatchet lay by you, and take care of yourselves.
"Brethren. This is the first time I have heard the Missisagas were your enemies, and I am surprised how it came about. It is but two years ago, at the great meeting here, that you brought down the chief man amongst the Missisagas, and introduced him to me as your great friend and ally, and told me that he and his people were determined to follow the example of the Five Nations. You then desired I would treat and consider him accordingly, which I did, and gave him presents to his satisfaction, and he took belts from me to his people. For what reason, therefore, you think yourselves in danger from the Missisagas, I cannot comprehend, unless it is from some misunderstanding, which, I hear, happened in the woods, some few days ago, between some of your people and them.
"Brethren, another reason you give me for your inactivity is, that you are few in number, and you daily hear yourselves threatened by your enemies. As to your numbers, had you taken my advice, given you many years ago, and often repeated, you might now have been a strong people. I should be glad to know who these enemies are, and what grounds you have for these fears.
"Brethren, you say that the English would first make a trial against their enemies, and that, if we found we could not do without you, that then we would call on you for your assistance. I have looked over the records, where all public speeches and business with the Nations are faithfully wrote down, and I find no such thing there, and I am very positive you must be mistaken; for, from the first meeting I had with the Six Nations, after my return from Virginia, to this day, I have been constantly calling and exhorting them, as children of the Great King of England, as brothers and allies to the English, to join and assist His Majesty's arms against our common enemy, the French; and the Six Nations have as frequently assured me, they would act with us, and for us; and, you must know, you have a great number of belts from me on this subject, now in your possession. You tell me, though you don't know from what quarter, that you expect, in a few months, to be attacked by some enemy, and that, therefore, you think your own preservation requires you to stay at home, and be on
your guard. What foundation you have for all these fears, so lately come upon you, you have not thought proper to inform me, and, therefore, I am at a loss about it, especially as I understand several parties of your young men are gone a fighting to the southward. Formerly, you told rne that, if you had forts built at your towns, and some men to garrison them, you might then go to war with your brethren, the English, and not be afraid of your old men, your wives and children, during your absence. These forts, though very expensive to the King, your Father, were accordingly built for you, and, if you had applied, you might have had men to garrison them. Brethren, your conduct will, in my opinion, appear very ungrateful, and your reasonings very inconsistent to the King, your Father, and to all your brethren, the English, when they come to their knowledge, as they soon will do; wherefore I would advise you to reconsider the matter, and take it into your most serious consideration.
"Brethren. You say Captain Montour and Captain Butler brought you a message in my name, that I expected you would use the hatchet I had put in your hands against the French; that the message was laid before the council of Onondaga, who said they did not expect such a message from you, as the Covenant Chain was for the common safety, both of us and you, and that, if you were to leave your country unguarded, it might end in your destruction.
"Brethren. It is certain the Covenant Chain was made for our common good and safety, and it is well known to you all that it speaks in this manner: That the English and the Six Nations shall consider themselves as one flesh and blood, and that, whenever any enemy shall hurt the one, the other is to feel it and avenge it as if done to himself. Have not the French hurt us? Is not their axe in our heads? Are they not daily killing and taking our people away? Have not some of your nations, both to the southward and northward, joined the French against us? Nay, some of you, by your own confession, have gone out by yourselves, and struck the English. Have you not now several of our people prisoners amongst you, whom you conceal from me? Have you not, lastly, suffered the Swegachie Indians to come through your habitations, and take one of our people from the German Flats? Let me ask you now if all this is behaving like brethren, and whether you ought not to be ashamed when you put us in mind of the Covenant Chain? Surely you dream, or think I have forgot the old agreement between us, when you talk in this manner. I take you by the head, and rouse you from your lethargy, and bring you to your senses.
"Brethren. You say you must take care of yourselves, and not leave your country unguarded. When our brother's house is on fire, will another brother look quietly on, smoke his pipe at his own door, and say he can't help him, because, perhaps, his own house may take fire? Does the Covenant Chain speak this language? Did your forefathers talk after this manner? Did I talk so to you when the Onondagas, Oneidas, and Tuscaroras sent me word, last year, that they expected the enemy were coming upon them? Did not I and your brethren run through the ice and snow, at two or
three different times, to their assistance? Where, and who, are those enemies you so much dread? Let us know, do you want our assistance? if you are in danger, we know the Covenant Chain, and will be ready to defend or die with you. We won't tell you, make one trial by yourselves, and that we must stay home, and take care of our own preservation.
"You always tell me 'tis for our mutual interest you go so often to Canada; I am apt to think you have brought these alarms and these fears with you from thence.
"Brethren. I must tell you, that my orders from the King, your Father, are, to take care of and supply with necessaries such good and faithful Indians as will go out and fight for him and his people; and that such and their families, only, has he empowered me to arm, clothe, and provide for, which I shall continue to do to all such as will go out upon service; and those, I dare say, will, in the end, find they have acted more for their honor and interest, than those who stay at home, and smoke their pipes.
"Brethren. You have assured me, that it is the unanimous resolution of the Five Nations to hold fast the ancient Covenant Chain, made by our forefathers and yours. Brethren, our end of this chain is bright and strong, and we shall not be the first to let it go; but it seems to me that your end is grown very rusty, and, without great care, will be in danger of being eaten through, which I should be very sorry to see, as it would be the means, also, of extinguishing the fire here, and oversetting the Tree of Shelter."
Chapter XI. Close of the War by the Conquest of Canada.
IT was the policy of the British colonial government, in establishing a general and central superintendency at Fort Johnson, on the Mohawk river, not only to attach the Six Nations strongly to its interests, but to govern the entire Indian country through their extensive influence over the other groups of tribes. This general policy had been understood and carried out by the colonial governors of New York, from the beginning of the century, and, indeed, dates back to the Dutch, as it was pursued by them in 1664. Trade was principally conducted at the central point, Albany, but traders were allowed to visit remote places. The French traders, from Canada, obtained their best supplies from Albany, and the intercourse thus established upon, and cemented by, a triple interest that of the tribes, the merchants, and the governing power became a very firm bond of union, and one that gained strength by the lapse of time. The metals, woollens, and other articles of real value, which they received in exchange for their furs, were so much superior to the products of the rude arts Hudson found in their possession in 1609, that it is doubtful even, whether at this period, many remembered that the Iroquois had ever used stone knives, axes, and pipes; made fishhooks of bones, awls of deer's horns, or cooking pots out of clay. 281
But, although a trade so mutually beneficial established a firm friendship, and the growth of every decade of the colonies added to its strength, yet it was not, in fact, until the abolition of the power of the Indian Commissioners, at Albany, who were frequently traders themselves, 282 and the transfer of the superintendency of Indian affairs to the hands of Johnson, that an elevated and true national tone was given to the system. When Johnson was placed in the possession of power, he visited their remotest villages and castles, and built stockades in each of their towns, to serve as places of refuge if suddenly attacked. In his anxiety to control the Algonquins, and the Dionondades, or Quaghtagies, he had visited Detroit, and his agents had scoured the Illinois, the Miami, the Wabash and the Ohio, before the French built Fort
Du Quesne. When he could send them messages by the power of the king, or speak to them in his council-room, with the voice of a king, he had, also, as we may readily perceive from the records, published at this late day, the judgment, firmness, and prudence of a king. 283 No one, it would seem, could be better adapted to give solid advice to the Indians of all the tribes.
Johnson did not limit his attentions to the Six Nations. After the defeat of Braddock, the entire frontier line of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, was left unprotected. Invasion, rapine, and murder, were the common inflictions, under which groaned the entire interior country, from the Ohio to the Susquehanna; and not a farm could be settled, or a team driven on the road, without incurring the risk of death, or captivity. These murders having been chiefly attributed to the Shawnees, and Delawares, who were still located on the sources of the Susquehanna, Johnson employed the Iroquois, who, from an early period, exacted allegiance from them as a conquered people, to summon their chiefs before him. A delegation of the principal men of these tribes attended in his council early in the spring of 1758, to whom he gave a detail of the acts complained of, placing them before them in their just light, and forewarning them of the inevitable consequences which would result from a repetition of such nefarious acts, and that, not only Pennsylvania and Maryland, but all the neighboring colonies would be aroused against them. At this council, a delegation of Nanticokes, Conoys, and Mohikanders attended, who informed him that they lived at Otsiningo, 284 on the Susquehanna, where his messengers would always find them. 285
Addressing these nomadic members of the disintegrated and fast-decaying Algonquin group, as he did the Iroquois in the full strength of their confederacy, Johnson adopted a line of argument and diplomacy founded on high principles of national polity, and guided by a true estimate of the Indian character. He frequently moved their sympathy by an Indian symbol, where an argument would have failed. All causes of disaffection, whether arising from questions of trade, the encroachments of settlers, inhuman murders, or from any other of the irregularities so common in the Indian country, were handled by him with calm judgment; and good counsels, and the most efficient practical remedies, through the means of agents, presents, and money, were judiciously dispensed.
The year 1759 was a brilliant period for the British arms. Braddock, Loudoun, Shirley, and Abercrombie, had, respectively, exercised their brief authority as commanders of the British forces in America, and passed from the stage of action, leaving a clear field for the induction of a new military policy. Amherst, if not surpassing his predecessors in talent and energy, was, at least, more fortunate in the disposition of his forces, more successful in the execution of his plans, and especially so in the
election of his generals. The military spirit of the British nation was roused; its means were ample; and its commanders men of the highest capacity. France was about to be subjected to a combined attack on all her strongholds, which would surpass anything previously attempted. The colonial struggle, which had been protracted through a century and a half, was about to terminate. The first successful onset was made on Niagara, which was regularly besieged by General Prideaux, who was killed in one of the trenches, while encouraging his men to more active exertions. Through this casualty Sir William Johnson succeeded to the chief command, and vigorously prosecuted the plans of his predecessor. Learning that reinforcements, accompanied by a body of Indians from the lakes, had entered the Niagara valley, and were inarching to the relief of the fort, he sent against them a detachment of troops, together with a large force of Iroquois, who valiantly met and defeated the enemy. He then summoned the garrison to surrender, which opened the gates of the fort on the 20th of July. Within a week from this time, Louisburg, which had been invested by Admiral Boscawen, succumbed to the military prowess and heroism of General Wolfe, who, having been promoted for his gallantry in this siege, ascended the St. Lawrence, and by a series of masterly movements, conducted with great intrepidity, captured Quebec, losing his own life on the plains of Abraham, where, also, ebbed out that of his brave and able foe, Montcalm. The city surrendered on the 13th of September. De Levi, from the opposite point of the river, vainly attempted its recovery. In the spring of 1760, General Murray followed De Levi up the valley of the St. Lawrence to Montreal, and effected a landing at the lower part of the island, while General Arnherst and a large regular force, together with Sir William Johnson and his Iroquois, disembarked at La Chine. The troops on the island made no resistance, and, with its conquest that of Canada was completed. Its retention by the English was one of the chief results of the treaty of peace, soon after concluded between France and England. The terms of the capitulation included the smaller posts of Le Boeuf, Detroit, and
Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
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