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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
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html


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Chapter V. — The Western Indians Continue Their Opposition to the English Supremacy. Colonel Bouchet Marches to the Relief of Fort Pitt. The Battle of Brushy Run.

THE struggle of the Indians, in conjunction with the French, for supremacy in America, may be stated to have commenced in 1753, when Washington first originated the idea among the western tribes, that the Virginians were taking preliminary steps to cross the Alleghanies, and open the route for the influx of the entire European race. This notion may be perceived in the addresses of Pontiac. "Why," he exclaimed, repeating, as was alleged, the words of the Master of Life, "why do you suffer these dogs in red clothing to take the land I gave you? Drive them from it, and, when you are in distress, I will help you." 304 The policy of driving back the English accorded well with the views of the French, who carefully encouraged it, and first developed it at the repulse of Washington, before Fort Necessity, and again gave to it a new impetus the following year, at Braddock's total defeat and overthrow, which had the effect of arousing the passions of the Indians. From this date, they became most determined opponents to the spread of British power, and always formed a part of the French forces in the field. Such was their position under Montcalm, at Lake George, in 1757, and also at the sanguinary defeat of Major Grant, in 1758. The epoch for making this struggle could not have been better chosen, had they even been perfectly conversant with the French and English policy; and the result was, ten years of the most troublesome Indian wars with which the colonies were ever afflicted. As time progressed, it became evident that the long colonial struggle between the two crowns must terminate. If the English were defeated, not only the French, but the Indians would triumph; while it was equally true that, if the French failed, the Indian power must succumb. Pontiac perfectly understood this, and so informed his confederates. This question was, in effect, settled by the peace of Versailles; but the Indians did not feel disposed to drop the contest. Detroit was still closely invested; Fort Pitt was also beleagured; and the only road by which relief could reach it, passed through weary tracts of wilderness, and over high mountains. It was likewise located on a frontier, the inhabitants of which lived in a continual dread of the Indians.

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General Amherst ordered Colonel Bouquet to relieve this post with the remnants of regiments, which had returned, in a feeble and shattered condition, from the siege of Havana. The route lay through Pennsylvania, by the way of Carlisle and Port Bedford, and many discouragements were in the way. His troops and supplies came forward slowly. He reached Fort Bedford on the 25th of July, and, pushing on to Fort Legonier, relieved that post from a threatened siege. As soon as the Indians, who besieged Fort Pitt, heard of his approach, they left that place, and prepared to oppose his march. Bouquet had disencumbered himself of his wagons, as also of much heavy baggage, at Fort Legonier, and moved on with alacrity, conveying his provisions on horses. On entering the defile of Turtle Creek, his advance had proceeded but a short distance, when they were briskly attacked on both flanks. A severe and desperate battle ensued, which admitted of several manoeuvres, and developed some instances of Bouquet's gallantry. Captains Graham and McIntosh, of the regulars, were killed, and five officers wounded. As the day closed, an elevation was gained, on which the troops bivouacked. At daybreak the following morning, August 6th, the Indians surrounded the camp, and commenced a lively fusilade, making frequent sallies, alternately attacking and retreating. This became very annoying to the troops, who were greatly fatigued, and destitute of water. They fought in an extended circle. At length, the Colonel resorted to the ruse of withdrawing two companies from the outer line, and made a feint of retreating. By this movement, he decoyed the Indians into a position, where they were promptly charged with the bayonet, and repelled. Their retreat then became a rout, which also involved a part of the Indian forces hitherto unengaged. Bouquet then retired to Brushy Run, where there was abundance of water; but he had hardly posted his troops, when the Indians again commenced an attack, which was, however, speedily repulsed. The loss in these actions amounted to fifty men killed, and sixty wounded.

After these battles, the Indians did not renew the siege of Fort Pitt, but withdrew beyond the Ohio; and, four days subsequent to the action at Brushy Run, Bouquet entered Fort Pitt.

While these events were transpiring, the Indians were yet closely besieging Detroit, and the garrison began to suffer from fatigue and want of provisions. A vessel, manned by twelve men, and in charge of two masters, was despatched from Port Niagara, during the latter part of August, with stores for its relief. It reached the entrance to Detroit river on the 3d of September; but the wind being adverse, the crew dropped the anchor. About nine o'clock in the evening, the boatswain discovered a fleet of canoes approaching, containing about 350 Indians. The bow gun was fired, but too late, as the canoes had, by this time, surrounded the vessel. The Indians immediately cut the cable, and began to board her, notwithstanding the fire from the small arms, and also from a swivel. The crew then seized their pikes, a new weapon of defence with which they were provided, and, fighting with great bravery and determination,

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killed many of the foe. The Indians feared an explosion on board the ship, which, swinging around, disconcerted and confused the savages, who thought she was about to drift ashore: this enabled the crew to use their guns effectively. The master and one man were killed, and four men wounded; but a breeze springing up, the other seamen hoisted sail, and brought the vessel safely to Detroit. For this brave act, each of the crew was presented with a silver medal. 305

The garrison being thus provided with supplies, the further efforts of the Indians proved of no great consequence. As the season for hunting approached, the Indians mostly dispersed, except some small parties, who watched the fort, and prevented any egress from it. Open war never being carried on by the Indians during the winter, Major Gladwyn made such a judicious disposition of his means, as prevented any surprise during that season.

Fort Niagara had not been attacked, although its garrison was weak; but its precincts were continually infested by hostile Indians, which made it necessary to send out large escorts with every train despatched from it. To rid the Niagara valley of this annoyance, and open the route to Schlosser, a detachment of ninety men was directed to scour the surrounding country. Owing to the inconsiderate ardor of the officer in command, and, also, to his ignorance of Indian subtlety in time of war, the detachment was decoyed into an ambuscade, in which he, and all his men, with the exception of three or four, were killed. 306

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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
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html
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