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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 X. — Subtlety of the Indians Investigating Port Laurens.

FORT LAURENS, erected on the Tuscarawas in 1778, by General M'Intosh, at the terminus of his march against Sandusky, was left in command of Colonel Gibson, with a garrison of 150 men. It was the custom of the garrison to put bells on their horses, and send them out to graze in the vicinity, where they were visited and looked after. This being observed by the Indians who infested the surrounding forests, they stole all the animals, first removing the bells from their necks, which they retained. Selecting a spot suitable for an ambuscade, the bells were tied to the stalks of stout weeds, or flexible twigs, and the Indians, lying down on the ground, carefully shook them, so as to simulate the noise they would make while the horses were cropping grass. The ruse succeeded. Of a party of sixteen men, sent to catch the animals, which were supposed to have strayed, fourteen were shot dead, and the other two taken prisoners; one of whom returned after the termination of the war, but his comrade was never more heard of. Flushed with the success of this manoeuvre, the entire body of Indians, towards evening, marched across the prairie, in full view of the garrison, but at a safe distance Eight hundred and forty warriors were counted from one of the bastions, painted and feathered for war, and appearing to make this display as a challenge to combat. They then crossed the Tuscarawas, and encamped on an elevated site, within view of the fort, where they remained for several weeks, watching the garrison. While located at this spot, they affected to keep up a good understanding with the officers of the fort, through one of those speaking go-betweens, whom we shall call HI-OK-A-TO, who have been so fruitful of mischief in our military history. At length, their resources failing, they sent word that, if a barrel of flour was supplied to them, they would, on the following day, submit proposals of peace. The flour being duly delivered, the whole gang immediately decamped, removing to some part of the forest where so considerable a body could readily obtain subsistence.

It has ever been a fatal mistake, to put trust in Indian fidelity under such circumstances. A party of spies were left by the Indians in the woods. As the supplies of the garrison began to diminish, the invalids, amounting to ten or a dozen men, were

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sent to Fort M'Intosh, under an escort of fifteen men, commanded by Colonel Clark, of the line. This party had proceeded but two miles, when they were suddenly surrounded by the Indians, and all killed except four; one of whom, a captain, succeeded in effecting his escape to the fort.

The garrison now experienced severe suffering from hunger, the fort being in a remote position, which could be supplied only by the aid of trains of pack-horses, convoyed through the wilderness by expensive escorts. Fortunately, General M'Intosh arrived with supplies, and 700 men; but the joy produced by his arrival well nigh proved a fatal misfortune, as the salute of musketry fired from the ramparts caused a stampede among the horses of the pack-trains, which, running affrighted through the forest, scattered their burdens, of provisions and flour, on the ground. When M'Intosh departed from the fort, he left Major Vernon in command, who, being finally reduced to great straits, and finding himself surrounded by a powerful and treacherous enemy, and occupying a post which could not be maintained, abandoned the fort, and returned with his command to Fort M'Intosh. These transactions furnish material for a good commentary on the treaty of Fort Pitt, concluded on the 17th of the preceding September. The Delawares, who signed this treaty, occupied the entire Muskingum valley, of which the Tuscarawas is a branch, and, being generally under the sway of the Wyandots of Sandusky, had, in fact, no power to carry out, even if they possessed the authority to conclude, such a treaty.

The erection of Fort Laurens was, in truth, a monument of the failure of the military expedition against Detroit, projected with so much ceremony at that time; and its abandonment may be regarded as an admission of the uselessness of the position as a check upon the Indians.

While these movements were going forward on the Tuscarawas, and in the forests surrounding Fort Laurens, the Indians perpetrated a series of most heart-rending murders along the borders of the Monongahela. 398 A recital of these atrocities would only serve to prove that no trust could be placed in any public avowal of friendship by the savages, whether professed in conferences or by formal treaties.

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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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