|Lincoln/Net||Prairie Fire||Illinois During the Civil War||Illinois During the Gilded Age||Mark Twain's Mississippi||Back to Digitization Projects||Contact Us|
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
A DEFNITIVE treaty of peace was signed at Versailles, January 14th, 1783. As the Indians had fought for no national object, they received no consideration in this instrument. It contained no provision for their welfare, a fact of which they had been forewarned by the Americans; as it would have contravened the policy of Europe to have recognised the national character of a people, whom they had so long regarded as mere savages. The Americans, who succeeded to their guardianship, treated them as quasi nationalities, devoid of sovereignty, but having an absolute possessory right to the soil, and to its usufruct; power to cede this right, to make peace, and to regulate the boundaries to their lands, by which the aboriginal hunting-grounds were so defined, that they could readily be distinguished from the districts ceded. Thus was at once laid the foundation of that long list of Indian treaties, which form a perfect record of our Indian history, and accurately mark the progress of our settlements between the Atlantic and the Pacific. Under this policy commenced that system of annuities by which, as their exhausted hunting-grounds were ceded, they were supplied with the means of subsistence; and this system promoted their
gradual advance in agriculture and arts, as well as their improvement in manners, morals, education, and civilization.
The proper management of Indian affairs had been an object of deep and constant concern to Congress, and, North and South, the duty was, for many years, entrusted to a board of commissioners, composed of men of the highest experience, judgment, and wisdom. Nor were the means of the provisional government lightly tasked for the accomplishment of this object. By reference to the records of the treasury department, during this time, we have ascertained that, between the period of the Declaration of Independence and the 4th of March, 1789, embracing the era of the Revolution, $580,103.41 were disbursed on account of the expenses of treaties with, and of presents to, the Indian tribes; 415 and this was done while, during part of the time, the army had neither shoes nor clothing. There was then no means of obtaining an accurate account of their numbers; but an estimate, prepared by Mr. Madison, rates their total force during the contest at 12,430 fighting men, 416 a very large part of whom were under British influence. This estimate may, as the author says, have been above the truth; but it was far more reliable than the exaggerated enumeration, published only ten or eleven years previous, by Colonel Bouquet, who reported the warriors at 56,500. 417
The policy to be pursued with tribes who contemned all the maxims and principles of civilized life, was a question presenting many difficulties. History had demonstrated the instability, cruelty, and treachery of their character. Ever subject to be influenced by those whose interest it was to mislead them; to mistake their rights and true position; and to be turned aside from the pursuit of noble and permanent objects, to those that, were temporary and illusive; civilization itself appeared to them as one of the most intolerable evils; and they were as much opposed to the labors of the plow and the loom, as they were to the science of letters and the doctrines of Christianity. The instructions of an Eliot, an Edwards, a Brainard, and a Kirkland, were distasteful to the Indian masses; nay, ten times more so than the most elaborate lessons in arts, commerce, and agriculture; and there existed not a tribe which, as such, through all the long period of our history, had sufficient moral firmness to exalt itself above the slavery of the intoxicating bowl.
Although the task was difficult, it was neither hopeless nor discouraging, and whether pleasant, or otherwise, it became one of the earliest subjects for the exercise of governmental powers. The true principles of the fundamental policy were at once adopted. To acknowledge their sovereignty in the vast territories over which they roamed, rather than occupied, would have been simply ridiculous; but the recognition of their inchoate right to the soil, replaced in their hands the means of advancing to prosperity and happiness, after the game, its only worth to them, had failed. As this would be a gradual process, supplying, from decade to decade, the loss suffered from the depreciation
in value of their hunting-grounds, by the resources arising from their voluntary cession, the system was one suited to their wants, and to secure permanent peace on the frontiers. The principal, and, indeed, the only real difficulty encountered, was in the adjustment of its details; and this difficulty was complicated by the removals of the tribes; by infelicity of situation, owing to advancing settlements; and by the temptations to indulgence in idleness, dissipation, and savage manners and customs. Frequently the very accumulation of their annuities became the means of their depression, and of accumulated perplexities. Civilization has ever been regarded as an intrusive element by the Indians, and they have fled to the West to avoid its importunities. It is perceived, by scanning the statistics of the tribes in the West, that the members of many of those tribes which possess the largest funds in government securities, and particularly of those small tribes which receive, per capita, the largest annuities in coin, are the most idle, intemperate, and demoralized.
Chapter II. Change of Position of the Iroquois. Cessions of Territory by them to the State of New York. Treaty of Canandaigua.
THE treaty of Versailles having ignored the national existence of the Indians, they were compelled to negotiate directly with the Republic. The Iroquois. or Six Nations, who had been the most determined enemies of the Americans, made the first treaty in which the question of territory was mooted, which was concluded and signed at Fort Stanwix, October 22, 1784, in presence of the commissioners, Oliver Wolcott, Richard Butler, and Arthur Lee. By the terms of this instrument they ceded a strip of land, beginning at the mouth of Oyonwaye creek on Lake Ontario, four miles south of the Niagara portage path, and running southerly to the mouth of the Tehosaroro, or Buffalo creek, thence to the Pennsylvania line, and along its north and south boundary, to the Ohio river, They relinquished any claim by right of conquest, to the Indian country west of that boundary. Their right of property in the territory situate in the State of New York, eastward of the Oyonwaye line, embracing the fertile region of western New York, remained unaffected, and the territory of the Oneidas was guaranteed to them. By this treaty, the tribes who had fought against the colonies covenanted to deliver up all prisoners, white and black, taken during the war; and as a guaranty that this should be done, six chiefs were held as hostages. This treaty was finally confirmed by all the Iroquois sachems in a council held by General St. Clair, at Fort Harmer, on the Ohio, January 9, 1789. 418
New York had been the arena of the entire Iroquois development. According to the earliest traditions, 419 they entered it in trans-historical times, by way of the Oswego river, and assumed separate names and tribal distinctions after their geographical dispersion over it. Their confederation, under the title of Akquinashioni, is by far the most interesting problem in the history of the Vesperic 420 groups of the North American tribes. This combination enabled them to attain the prominent position, as military tribes, which they held when the country was discovered. By it they had maintained
the integrity of their territory against the persevering attempts of the French, after the settlement of Canada, to encroach upon their rights; and hence they united the more readily with the English in the Revolutionary struggle.
It is here necessary to notice the treaties concluded with the State of New York by the Iroquois, as communicated by General George Clinton. 421 The revolutionary war, having, in effect, dissolved the confederation, left the sovereignty of the individual States intact, therefore, to New York alone could cessions of territory be rightfully made. These cessions began shortly after the negotiation of the initial national treaty at Fort Stanwix, in 1784. On the 28th of June, 1785, at a convocation of the chiefs and sachems, held at Herkimer, the Oneidas and Tuscaroras, in consideration of the payment in hand of a sum of money and goods, ceded a tract of land on the New York side of the Susquehanna river, including Unadilla. 422
At a council, held with the Onondaga sachems, by George Clinton, Esq., and his associate commissioners, September 12th, 1788, the Onondaga tribe ceded all their lands within the State, making such reservations as covered their castle and residences. By a separate article of this treaty, they ceded to the State the salt spring tract. Large payments were made in coin and goods, and a perpetual annuity of $500 in silver granted.
By the terms of a treaty, concluded with the Oneida sachems, at Fort Stanwix, before the same commissioner, September 22d, 1788, the Oneidas ceded all their lands within the State, with the exception of ample reservations for their own use, and the right to lease part of the same. Five thousand dollars, in money, goods, and provisions were then paid to them, and a perpetual annuity of $600 granted. 423
This treaty with the Oneidas contained an important provision, sanctioning the arrangements previously made by them in behalf of the expatriated Indians of New England, and others of the Algonquin group, who had been allowed to settle on their lands. The title to a tract of land, two miles in breadth, and three in length, in the Oriskany valley, was confirmed to the tribes which assumed the name of Brothertons, and were under the care of Rev. Samson Occum. 424 Another tract, six miles square, located in the Oneida creek valley, was confirmed to the Mohicans of the Housatonic, bearing the name of Stockbridges, who were under the charge of the Rev. Mr. Sargeant.
On the 25th of February, 1789, the Cayuga sachems assembled at Albany, and ceded all their lands within the State, with the exception of one hundred square miles, exclusive of the area of Cayuga lake, a reserve of a fishing site at Scayes, and one mile square at Cayuga ferry. One mile square was granted to the Cayuga chief, Oojaugenta, or Fish Carrier. Two limited annuities, amounting to $500 and $625, respectively, and a permanent annuity of $500, were granted by the State. 425
Evidence exists 426 that these agreements to pay the tribes, in coin, goods, and provisions, were scrupulously complied with, and have been continued to the present day; every attention and respect having been manifested by New York for the habits and wants of the Indians, who have, likewise, received special gratuities. These transactions constituted the first practical lesson in civil polity, and the details of public business, which the Iroquois received. The respect paid to their sachems; the care and accuracy with which the titles of the respective tribes to their lands were inquired into; and the good faith with which the State at all times fulfilled its engagements, rendering and requiring even-handed justice, formed an example which was not lost on a people, celebrated, from early days, for their political position and influence. Civil life was regarded by them with greater respect than heretofore, and its influence caused them to act with a stricter sense of responsibility than they had done in past times.
Hitherto, their chiefs and sachems had, as independent representatives of free and proud tribes, visited the social districts of eastern and southern New York, either for political or commercial purposes, without paying much regard to a state of society which did not suit their preconceived ideas. But, from this period, the aspect of things changed. They resided exclusively on small reservations, which were soon surrounded by farmers, merchants, manufacturers, mechanics, and professional men, who presented to them, daily and hourly, an example of the beneficial effects of thrift, and demonstrated that only the idle and vicious lagged behind in the general race to the goal of prosperity. Private rights were strictly protected, and those over whom the aegis of the law was extended were taxed for its support. The debtor had his choice, either to meet his obligations, or be placed in durance until his creditor was satisfied. There was but one rule and one law for all. Little attention was given to the Indians. Wise in their own conceits, regarding proficiency and excellence in the arts of war and hunting as the limit of all attainments, they hated education, deemed voluntary labor as equivalent to slavery, and despised morality, as well as the teachings of the gospel. If such a people rapidly disappeared, the magistrates felt but little or no sympathy for their fate; the merchants merely sold them what they could pay for, and the majority of the citizens, who remembered their cruel and treacherous conduct during the Revolution, were glad to see them pass away, and give place to a superior race.
The public functionaries of the State Government, however, regarded their condition from a higher point of view. They were deemed an unfortunate, yet not criminal people, who had been misled, but could not be condemned, for lacking political or moral wisdom. Their title to the territories was undisputed, and was freely, as well as fully, acknowledged and respected by all. Another aspect of the position of the Iroquois after the Revolution might likewise be presented. That contest had produced a disastrous effect on them; having, by means of its continual alarms and excitements,
diverted their attention for an extended period from their usual pursuits. They had so long waylaid the farmer at his plow, and the planter in his field, that their cornfields were, in retaliation, devastated, their orchards felled to the ground, their villages burned, and themselves often reduced to extreme poverty and destitution. The State authorities, however, interfered in their behalf, and, under the treaties just mentioned, rescued them from want, by the payment to them of annuities in money and goods.
The General Government also took this view, and a commissioner of high standing 427 was appointed to meet the tribes, during the autumn of 1794, at Canandaigua, in western New York. This convocation was numerously attended by all the tribes who had been actors in the war (except the Mohawks), including the Stockbridges. The noted Oneida chief, Skenandoa, attended, with a delegation of his people. The war chief, Little Beard, or Sequidongquee, marked for his cruelties during Sullivan's campaign, represented the Genesee Senecas. 428 The celebrated orator, Assoggoyawauthau, or
The treaty was concluded, November 11, 429 and recognised the principles of all prior treaties. It provided for the payment of a gratuity of $10,000 in money and goods, which were delivered on the ground. A permanent annuity of $4500, payable in coin, clothes, cattle, implements of husbandry, and in the services of artificers, was likewise stipulated for. All the attendant circumstances of this convocation were imposing, and its results auspicious, being marked by the development of a kindly feeling for the Union by the Indians.
Chapter III. Treaties with the Wyandots, Delawares, Chippewas, and Ottowas.
THE organization of a territorial government north-west of the Ohio, exercised a favorable influence on Indian affairs. The majority of the tribes on that border were tired of war, having lost as many warriors by disease, as by casualties in battle. The marching of armies had frightened away the large game, and disorganized the Indian trade. They had been fighting, also, as they now began to see, for a phantom; for, granting that they imagined themselves to have been engaged in preventing the colonies from progressing beyond the Ohio (an early device of foreign traders, whose interests in the West would have suffered by the extension of the settlements), they could not fail to understand that it had never constituted an object with the British Government, as it received no consideration in the treaty concluded at Versailles. The Wyandots, Delawares, Chippewas, and Ottowas, were the first of the western tribes to express sentiments of peace. They united in a treaty concluded with the commissioners, George Rogers Clark, Richard Butler, and Arthur Lee, at Fort M'Intosh, on the Ohio, January 21, 1785. 430 This treaty was important, principally, as inaugurating a system of dealing with the tribes by written contracts; evincing the disposition of the Government to treat them with friendly consideration, and at the same time demonstrating that it possessed the means of enforcing its mandates. Boundaries were established between the Wyandots and Delawares, who designated the Cuyahoga and the Tuscarawas as the division line, thus giving them an idea of the necessity of establishing and respecting geographical locations and limitations.
None of the southern tribes had been so much involved in the hostile proceedings of the western Indians, as the Cherokees, who resided nearest the scene of conflict, and had participated in some of the forays and outrages committed on the Ohio. They, also, at an early period, expressed a desire for peace.
On the 25th of November, 1785, a treaty was concluded with them at Hopewell, on the Keowa fork of the Savannah. The commissioners were Benjamin Hawkins, Andrew Pickens, and Joseph Martin. By this treaty a firm friendship was established,
the surrender of prisoners and negroes stipulated for, and a definite boundary line established, within which the fur trade should be conducted, exclusively under an American system of license, or authority. 431 A similar policy governed the Choctaws and Chickasaws. The former tribe entered into negotiations with the same commissioners, on the 3d of January, 1786, 432 and the latter on the 10th of the same month. 433 The southwestern frontiers were thus placed in a condition of security, by the proceedings of a commission composed of active and energetic men, well acquainted with the character of the Indians, by whom they were held in great respect.
There was still another tribe which had been the scourge of the frontiers; no one organization having evinced such unmitigated hatred, and unrelenting cruelty as the Shawnees. Bearing a name indicating a southern origin, they had, from the first, resisted with desperate fury all attempts of the frontiersmen of North Carolina and Virginia, to extend their settlements beyond the Ohio river. With the agility and subtlety of the panther, they crept stealthily through the forests, and sprang suddenly on their victims. They fought at the battle of Kenawha with an intrepidity previously unknown in Indian warfare; though Virginia had, in every decade of her existence as a colony, successfully repelled their incursions. After the lapse of twelve years from the conclusion of their treaty with Lord Dunrnore, on the Scioto, in 1774, their chiefs assembled at the mouth of the Great Miami, signified their submission, and, January 31, 1786, 434 signed a treaty of peace. By its terms they stipulated to surrender all the prisoners in their possession, and were assigned a territorial position south of the line fixed for the Wyandots and Delawares, by the treaty of Fort M'Intosh, of January 21, 1785.
Chapter IV. Hostilities in the West. War with the Miamies and their Confederates.
ONE of the earliest objects of attention on the part of the Government, under the old articles of confederation, had been the incorporation of the Indian territory northwest of the Ohio. No sooner had the war terminated, than all eyes began to be directed to that quarter, as the future land of promise to the Union; which expectations have been most amply fulfilled; for it has been, emphatically, the Mother of States, the most prominent among them being the stalwart commonwealths of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. General Arthur St. Clair was appointed by Washington the first governor of the territory. The most important topic which called for his attention was the state of the Indian tribes, which question he found to be surrounded with peculiar difficulties. None of the tribes had suffered so little by the war as the Miamies, Weas, and Piankashaws, of the Wabash. On the tribes who had signed treaties of amity, but little reliance could be placed. For several years the Indians exceeded in numbers the settlers, who were located at prominent points, and, consequently, these frontier settlements were entirely at the mercy of the savages. It was, therefore, necessary to strengthen the bonds of amity with the Indians by treaty stipulations. Treaties furnish the very highest evidence of civilization among intellectual and polished nations; and, when the system was introduced in negotiations with the Indian tribes, who could neither read nor write, an expectation of security and advantage from such instruments was indulged, far beyond what the moral character of the aborigines, and their actual political appreciation of them, justified. Still, this system promised the surest means of attaining success. From the earliest traditionary times, it had been the custom of the Indians to hold formal meetings of their chiefs, for the purpose of adjusting their affairs, to which the greatest ceremony and solemnity was given, by smoking the sacred weed, and by the exchange of wampum belts. The like ceremony and solemnity was used by the commissioners and commanders, to whom these negotiations were entrusted, on concluding the treaties, by exchanging the muzzinieguns, 435 on
which the verbal agreements had been written. To renew and extend these obligations was, according to Indian phraseology, to tighten the chain of friendship.
On the 9th of January, 1789, nearly three months before the adoption of the present constitution, General St. Clair concluded a treaty with a large delegation of the Six Nations, assembled at Fort Harmer, at the mouth of the Muskingum. The chief object of this treaty was to renew and confirm that entered into at Fort Stanwix, in 1784. To secure order, a body of United States troops was encamped there, under Colonel Harmer, and the treaty of Fort M'Intosh, of January 21st, 1785, was re-confirmed by the original parties to it, to whom was added a delegation from the Pottawattamies and Sacs.
From an explanatory article appended to this treaty, it appears that the Wyandots accused the Shawnees of having laid claim to lands that did not belong to them; these lands being a part of the Wyandot domain. The respected Wyanclot chief, TARHE, was present at the negotiation of this treaty. It was affirmed by the Wyandots, that the Shawnees, who signed the treaty of peace concluded at the Miami, had been guilty of injustice; and they further averred, that "the Shawnees have been so restless, and caused so much trouble, both to them and the United States, that if they will not now be at peace, they (the Wyandots) will dispossess them, and take the country into their own hands; for that the country is theirs of right, and the Shawnees are only living upon it by their permission." 436
In 1789, General St. Clair also negotiated a treaty with the Wyandots, Delawares, Ottawas, Chippewas, Sacs, and Pottawattamies, through the chiefs assembled at Fort Harmer. 437 This treaty has been called "a piece of Indian diplomacy, saying the Indians never intended to abide by it any longer than suited their convenience." 438 These assemblages, however, were convened in pursuance of the pacific policy of Washington, and had their effect.
The position of the Indian relations was at this time very critical. Emigration flowed over the Alleghanies with great rapidity, and the lands to which the Indian title had been extinguished were daily filling up. The nucleus of the future State of Ohio had been established at Marietta, in 1788. Collision could not be avoided between two races so antagonistic in habits and feelings as the Anglo-Saxon and the Indian. Murders were committed, which were retaliated by similar outrages. It became evident that an open Indian war must speedily ensue. The Delawares, the Shawnees, and the Wyandots having measured swords, to their cost, with the British, as also with the colonies, it was clear that the issue would not be with either of these tribes. Hostile demonstrations were apprehended from the Miamies, and their co-tribes, the Weas and Piankashaws. The residence of this tribe was located in the Wabash valley, one of the most favorable and genial regions in the West. Possessing an extraordinarily
fertile soil, which yielded large quantities of corn, grain, and fruit, an exuberant forest, abounding in deer, bears, and other animals, their population was remarkably vigorous, while their insolence knew no bounds. Colonel Harmer was directed to advance into their country, and endeavor to bring them to terms. Such a march, encumbered with stores and supplies, through a wilderness destitute of roads, was, in itself, an arduous undertaking. The pioneer work of an army has always been one of the severest duties of a western campaign; it is the toil and the triumph of the quartermaster's department. Roads must be made, bridges built, provisions packed, arms and ammunition carried; every delay must be endured, every difficulty overcome. Colonel Harmer reached the eligible and elevated grounds, forming the present site of Fort Wayne, which are washed by the River Miami, of the Lakes, whose swift, but shallow rapids, are easily forded. Observations, made on the rising grounds beyond the stream, detected the presence of the enemy, whose demonstrations were intended to convey the idea that they were in force in that quarter. But this proved to be only a decoy; they had crouched down in the thick undergrowth and weeds, and were concealed along the western shore. The army was directed to cross the stream at this rapid, but had not proceeded far, when a heavy fire of musketry was poured in, accompanied by the most frightful cries. The men were rallied by spirited officers; Major Wyllis, and other brave officers, being killed in this effort. The Indian fire was continued, and well sustained, they being plentifully supplied with guns and ammunition. The line having faltered, and. fallen back, the retreating columns were marched to an elevated position, where they were reorganized. The loss among the regular troops amounted to 75 killed, and three wounded. Of the militia, 108 were killed, and 28 wounded. 439 So severe a defeat could not be repaired without a reinforcement; and Harmer determined to return to the banks of the Ohio, which he did without further molestation from the Indians.
Chapter V. The Muscogees, or Creeks, Negotiate a Treaty of Peace.
Two disturbing elements exercised an influence on the powerful Creek nation during the entire Revolutionary contest; and, after pursuing a fluctuating policy, requiring perpetual vigilance on the part of the authorities of Georgia and South Carolina, their hostility was finally evinced by the formidable night attack, made, under Guristersigo, on the camp of General Wayne, near Savannah, in 1782. The disturbing causes alluded to, were, the influence of the Spanish in Florida, and of the French in Louisiana. But, when the issue of the Revolutionary contest became a fixed fact, they expressed a wish to enter into friendly relations with the Union. For this purpose, in the year 1790, a delegation, comprising twenty-four of their most distinguished chiefs, visited the seat of government, then located at the city of New York. This delegation represented all the principal towns and septs, from the Coosahatchee and Chattahooche to the sources of the Altamaha; it also embraced a delegation of the Seminoles, and was headed by Alexander M'Gillevray, who had, during many years, exercised a controlling influence over this nation. The distinctions of Upper, Middle, and Lower Creeks, were insisted on, they being regarded as so many septs. General Washington received the delegates with comity, and deputed General Knox, Secretary of War, to treat with them. After a full discussion of all the questions involved, the terms were agreed on, and the treaty signed, August 7, 1790. 440 The most important of its provisions was the establishment of boundaries. It contained the usual professions of amity, and stipulated for the surrender of prisoners taken during the war, whites and negroes, many of the latter being refugees. 441 To induce them to make greater advances toward civilization, a clause was inserted, providing that they should be furnished, from time to time, with cattle and agricultural implements. In that genial climate, where cattle, horses, and sheep require neither feeding nor housing, this wise
provision has rendered the nation wealthy in animals and stock; thus enabling them to make further progress in the social scale.
After all the negotiations were concluded, the Government appointed a special agent to accompany the delegates to their homes, and report on their condition. This agent performed his task skilfully, being a cautious and shrewd observer; and, after his return, he communicated to General Knox a valuable report, accompanied by a map 442 of the country, a detailed account of their principal places of residence, and a carefully prepared and comprehensive view of their manners and customs. 443 He gave the names and designated the locations of fifty-two towns, 444 which were estimated to contain from 25,000 to 30,000 souls. Of these, between 5000 and 6000 were reported to be gunmen, or warriors. It may be remarked, en passant, that the confederacy of the Creeks is well deserving of study, as an element of Indian history.
By some of the older writers, they are called Muscogulges, 445 a term which has, apparently, been shortened to Muscogees; the English appellation of Creeks having been derived from a geographical feature of the country, which is remarkable for its numerous streams. 446 The appellations of Alabama and Okechoyatte, have been borne by them 447 at an early period. Their language 448 is one of the most musical of the Indian tongues, but agrees with the other languages in its principles of synthesis, its coalescence of the pronoun with the noun, and its power of combination.
Politically speaking, they possess a standing and influence second to none of the other tribes, being one of the most strongly characterized families of the aboriginal race, and one from whom we may expect great development.
Chapter VI. Expeditions of General Charles Scott, of Kentucky, and of General St. Clair, Against the Western Indians.
BUT three tribes aided the colonies in the revolutionary contest: the Oneidas, Tuscaroras, and Mohicans. Thus far, treaties of peace had been concluded with the recreant Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas, in the north; the Creeks, Chickasaws, Choctaws, and Cherokees, in the south; and with the Wyandots, Delawares, Shawnees, Chippewas, Ottowas, Pottawattamies, and Sacs, in the west; but the seven latter, who bore a very questionable character, could not be relied on, while the Miamies, Weas, and Piankashaws of the Wabash, were in open hostility. They had, during the previous year, defeated Harmer, at the joint sources of the Great Miami of the Ohio and the Miami of the Lakes. The River Miami of the Lakes formed the grand medium of northern Indian communication with the Ottowas of the lower part of that valley, the Wyandots of Sandusky, and eastern Michigan, and the Chippewas of Detroit, as well as other lake Algonquin tribes, who were in the practice of joining the Wyandots, Delawares, and Shawnees, in their inroads on the Ohio frontiers.
The Miamies were an active, bold, and numerous race, who, under the name of Tweetwees, had been the objects of special attack by the Iroquois, ever since the era of the French occupancy. They had been driven by them to more southerly and westerly locations than those which they had formerly inhabited, and were now the undisputed masters of the Wabash valley. During the fierce and sanguinary warfare of 1782, when so many expeditions were sent against the Shawnees, Wyandots, and Delawares, the Miamies received no specific notice, but appear to have been included in the widely-diffused Ottowa and Chippewa race, whom they resemble in features, manners, customs, and language. General James Clinton, during the campaign against the Six Nations, in 1778, observed that the sympathy existing between the races, even where they were placed in antagonistic positions, was so great that but little reliance could be placed on them in exigencies. 449 When war broke out, it required close observation to discriminate very particularly between the grades of hostility, if
there was any at all, existing among the different members of affiliated tribes. Nor did the Indians make any distinction between the various races of the whites. It was, in truth, a war of races; an attempt, if we may so term it, of the descendants of Japhet to shackle the wild sons of Shem, and to "dwell in his tents." 450
The earliest movement of any note, in the campaign of 1791, against the Wabash Indians and their allies, was made by the expedition entrusted to General Charles Scott, of Kentucky. On the 23d of May in that year, General Scott set out from the banks of the Ohio, with a total force of 850 men, a part of whom were regulars, under command of Colonel James Wilkinson; but far the largest part of his army consisted of brave and experienced mounted volunteers. The month of June was passed in traversing the vast extent of exuberant forest watered by the tributaries of the Wabash river. On the 1st of August, he reached the vicinity of Ouiattonon, the largest of the Miami towns. This place was promptly attacked, several warriors killed, and the Indians, under a severe fire from the riflemen, were driven across the Wabash, their landing being covered by the warriors belonging to a village of Kickapoos, who maintained a constant fire. A detachment, under Colonel Hardin, having been ordered to cross the river at a point lower down, did so unobserved by the Indians, and stormed the Kickapoo town, killing six warriors, and taking fifty-two prisoners. The following morning, 500 men were directed to capture and destroy the important town of Kithlipecanuk, located on the west banks of the Wabash, at the mouth of Eel river, a distance of eighteen miles from the camp. After demolishing the Indian towns and villages, devastating their cornfields and gardens, and killing thirty-two warriors, beside taking fifty-eight prisoners, General Scott returned to the Ohio, which he reached on August 14th, without the loss of one man, and with but five wounded. 451
This detail is but a necessary preface to what follows. The Indians being a people of imperturbable character, are not much affected by those lessons of military warfare which are not fraught with calamities of a continuous character. They dexterously avoid the danger they cannot resist, and, when no longer threatened, they as quickly return to their former acts of pillage and atrocity. Some more formidable and permanent efforts were evidently necessary to bring the tribes to terms. For this purpose, Arthur St. Clair was commissioned a major-general in the army of the United States, early in March, 1791. 452 General Washington was very anxious on the subject, and urged on the veteran General the importance of proceeding with all practicable promptitude. 453
St. Clair was a disciplined soldier, who, having served under Wolfe, Monckton, and Murray, 454 enjoyed the confidence of Washington, as a man of undoubted bravery
and prudence. On the 15th of May, 455 he reached Fort Washington, now the site of Cincinnati. The delays attending the arrival of troops and supplies, and the organization of the army, gave rise to complaints, the whole summer being passed away in this manner. Fort Hamilton, the point of support on the Great Miami, was not completed until the 13th of September, and the month of October had arrived before the different corps of troops and levies were all mustered into service. On the 13th of October, the army had advanced forty-four miles from Fort Hamilton, and encamped on an eligible spot, where St. Clair built Fort Jefferson. Then advancing with caution and order, on the 3d of November he arrived at the St. Mary's river, a stream twelve yards in width, one of the principal sources of the Miami of the Lakes. It being four o'clock in the afternoon when the army reached this stream, St. Clair proceeded up its banks nine miles, and encamped on an eligible piece of ground, in military order. He had designed constructing a breastwork at this place, for the security of his baggage; but, before he could effect this purpose, the Indians, at half an hour before sunrise the following morning (4th), made a furious attack on his lines. They were in great force, consequent upon the slowness of St. Clair's march up the Maumee, thus allowing them an opportunity to concentrate all the forces of their allies. Unfortunately, the Indians, who were led into action by the valiant Wapacomegat, 456 a Mississagie, 457 first encountered the militia and raw troops, who immediately fled through the line, pursued by the Indians, thus producing the most irremediable confusion. The Indians were checked, however, by a spirited fire from the front line; but, in a few moments, that and the second line were vigorously attacked, and the soldiers of the artillery corps, who formed the centre, shot down at their guns. The slaughter was terrific on every side, and the confusion extended to the centre. At this moment, St. Clair ordered the second line to charge, which they did very gallantly, under the command of Colonel Darke. The Indians fled several hundred yards, but again rallied when the troops returned to their position. At this time, the second line also charged with effect; but the fire of the Indians was very galling, and produced greater confusion, because of the large number of officers killed and wounded. General St. Clair attributes much of the disorder to this fact. The artillery were silenced, all the officers being killed but one, and he was wounded. The Indians simultaneously attacked front, flanks, and rear. General Butler, the second in command, was killed, as also Colonel Oldham, and Majors Hart, Ferguson, and Clarke. General St. Clair attempted to mount three different horses, which were shot before he could do so. 458 More than one-half the rank and file of the army were killed, 459 and the extermination of the rest seemed inevitable.
The combat had lasted from about 6 o'clock to 9, A. M., 460 when General St. Clair led a charge through the Indian line in the rear, under cover of which the remains of the army retreated in disorder, until they reached Fort Jefferson. The army had originally consisted of about 1200 men, of whom it was reported that 600 were killed, including 64 officers, 461 a loss equal to that experienced at Braddock's defeat.
The effects of this defeat were most disastrous to the western settlements. Immigration was checked, and dismay prevailed along the entire frontier.
Chapter VII. Campaigns of General Wayne Against the Western Indians.
THE effect produced in Philadelphia, then the capital, by the intelligence of this defeat, was electric. Washington had never counselled half-way measures with the Indians, and this result had disappointed his expectations. Knox, his Secretary of War, had no personal experience in Indian warfare. It was of the utmost moment to make another effort, as early the following spring as possible, to gain the ascendency in the West. An examination of the list of officers experienced in savage military manoeuvres, resulted in the choice of General Wayne, whose decision of character was well known. He had, in 1782, led a successful cavalry charge against a night attack of the Creeks, near Savannah. Firm and cautious, but of chivalrous daring, nature had bestowed on him the talents and energy necessary to cope with the western Indians.
Prior to the march of General Wayne, Washington resolved to make another attempt to bring the hostile Indians of the West to terms by negotiation. For this purpose, Colonel Hardin and Major Trueman, two experienced men, were appointed commissioners, and directed to visit the towns on the Scioto. But these gentlemen were both waylaid and killed while descending the Ohio, and thus the overture failed. General Wayne's movements were also delayed by another object of pressing moment, which was to intercept a threatened invasion of Louisiana from Kentucky. For this purpose, he was detained at Fort Massac during a portion of the year '93; after which, he contented himself with ascending the Miami valley, six miles above Fort Jefferson, where he established himself in a fortified camp, called GREENVILLE.
It will be unnecessary to detail the process of organizing the new army, or the difficulties and delays it encountered. Wayne was determined not to be defeated; and this, when operating against an enemy so subtile as the Indians, and so intimately acquainted with the peculiar geographical features of the surrounding country, could only be guarded against by the most untiring vigilance, prudence, and caution. The season for active operations elapsed in collecting the forces, on a remote frontier, and bringing them into the field. It was necessary to proceed slowly, as roads must
be opened, bridges built, and blockhouses erected, to serve as points of supply and communication. A large corps of pioneers was required to be constantly employed, which it was necessary to protect by a strong force of cavalry and riflemen. The delays arising from these causes were the subject of unjust complaint in the diurnal press of that period. Two armies had been defeated in endeavors to penetrate the great wilderness to the Wabash; a country well suited to the operations of a savage foe, but abounding in obstacles to the progress of a civilized army, encumbered with baggage, cannon, and stores; who must have a passable road, and could not cross a stream of even the third magnitude without a bridge. The army was systematically employed in this difficult and laborious service, ever distasteful to volunteers, who composed a part of the forces. This labor, however, was the forerunner of success. Every day devoted to these toils, and to the discipline of the army, rendered it more active, efficient, and fit for the purpose in view. Wayne then took possession of the grounds on the banks of the St. Mary's, where St. Clair had been defeated in 1791, and having built Fort Recovery, there wintered his army.
On the 30th of the following June, this fort was invested by a large body of Indians, whose spies had closely reconnoitred it, while the main force lay near by, under cover. They had noticed that, at certain times, the horses of the officers were admitted into the fort through the sally-port, and on one of these occasions they followed them with a desperate onset, knowing that the outer gates would be opened. The troops, however, being well disciplined, repelled this assault of a prodigious force of the hitherto concealed Indians. The following day they made the forest echo with their whoops, renewing the attack in greater force, and with greater violence; but they were again repulsed with loss.
Fort Recovery was located at the head of the Miami of the Lakes, and formed the key of the route to the north-west, this valley being, at that time, the great thoroughfare of the north-western Indians, from Detroit and the upper lakes, through which, with great vindictiveness, they had so long poured their infuriated hordes over the fertile regions of the Ohio valley, and the settlements west of the Alleghany chain. The area of attack embraced not only the present limits of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, but all western Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky, and part of Tennessee. It was from these States that Wayne drew all his levies and volunteers, who were imbued with such hatred of the savages, consequent upon a vivid remembrance of Indian cruelties, that it required a man like Wayne to restrain them. Rash courage and vindictiveness are but poor qualifications for an encounter with Indians in a forest, as many a partisan commander has realized to his cost.
A fortnight after the last Indian attack, Wayne continued his march down the Miami valley. An impenetrable forest lay before him, through which nothing but an Indian footpath, or a trader's trail could be discerned. But every company of his men was in itself a phalanx; and the order of march was such as to set surprise at defiance.
In four days he reached the junction of the river Au Glaize with the Miami, where he built Fort Defiance. Crossing the Miami at this point, to its west banks, he continued his march to the head of the first rapids, called Roche du Bout, or the Standing Rock. At this place a temporary work was constructed, wherein to deposit the heavy stores and baggage; and he then pushed forward in the same order, and with like vigilance, for the principal Indian towns at the lower rapids.
Using the figurative language of the Indians, General Wayne's army resembled a dark cloud moving steadily and slowly forward. He had driven them 150 miles from their successful fighting-ground on the River St. Mary's, and the sources of the Wabash, and it appeared impossible for them to oppose him in battle. At every point of attack they had found him prepared. They said of him that he was a man who never slept, and they named him the STRONG WIND. 462 They had found it impossible to stay the impetuosity of his march, and it was doubted, in their councils, whether a general battle should be hazarded, 463 but after much discussion, this measure was resolved on. 464 The place selected was Presque Isle, a thickly-wooded oasis, such as is common to prairie districts in the West, encompassed by low and grassy meadow-lands, the upper part of which was encumbered by old, fallen timbers, where horses could not be employed. On the 20th of August the Indians arranged their forces in three lines, within supporting distance, and at right angles with the river. Wayne knew not whether they would fight, or negotiate, as offers of peace had been made to them. His army marched in compact columns, in the usual order, preceded by a battalion of volunteers, so far in advance that timely notice could be given to the troops to form, in case of an attack. This corps had progressed about five miles, when they received a heavy fire from the concealed enemy, compelling them to fall back on the main army, which immediately formed in two lines. General Charles Scott, with his mounted volunteers, was directed to turn the right flank of the enemy by a circuitous movement, while Captain Campbell, with the legionary cavalry, effected the same object on the left flank, by following an open way close to the banks of the river, and between it and the cliffs of Presque Isle. The first line of infantry was ordered to advance with trailed arms, rouse the Indians from their coverts in the grass, at the point of the bayonet, and then deliver a close, well-directed fire. These troops were promptly followed by the second line; the martial music of drums and trumpets giving animation to the scene. The whole of these movements were executed with alacrity and entire success. The Indians fled precipitately, and could not be rallied by their leaders. The army pursued them for two miles through the woods, and the victory obtained was complete. Wayne had about 2000 men under his command in this contest, not one half of whom were engaged. His loss in killed and wounded was 133
men. Captain Campbell was killed at the head of his legion, and Captain Van Renselaer was shot through the body, but recovered. For a distance of two miles, the forest was strewed with the dead bodies of the enemy, among which were recognised some of their white allies. They were denied entrance into the British fort at Maumee, the officers of which were compelled to witness the burning of the towns, and the destruction of the Indian settlements in the valley. General Wayne was highly incensed against the garrison of Fort Maumee, and sought to give them cause to open hostilities. There being a fine spring near the fort, the conversations at which could be overheard on the ramparts, the general rode around the fort to it with his staff, dismounted, took off his hat, and drank of the water, at the same time using expressions of indignation against the allies of the Indians, who had first incited them to attack him, and then closed their gates against them. Those who are aware of the general's enthusiastic character, need not be told that he expressed himself energetically. The savages made no further effort to oppose the course of the victorious army, which, finally, returned to Greenville, where it went into winter quarters.
Chapter VIII. The Post-Revolutionary War with the Western Indians is Terminated by the Victory of Maumee.
THE object for which the Indians had fought had proved to be illusory, and their defeat on the Miami of the Lakes terminated their struggle for the possession of the country north-west of the Ohio. This result could not, under any possible circumstances, have been averted. Had they possessed leaders who understood the effects of combination and discipline, and been supplied with the necessary means, they might have protracted for several years this contest against the white race. With ample supplies, and under competent leaders, this defeat would only have added fresh strength to their determination, and would have been succeeded by other battles, triumphs, and defeats; but, as the war was, in fact, a direct issue between civilization and barbarism, the ultimate result would have been precisely similar. The reasoning powers of the Indians did not, probably, enable them to arrive at this conclusion; but they appear to have intuitively deduced the truth of this fact from their late reverses, as, in a short time thereafter, they determined to bury the hatchet and smoke the pipe of peace.
It had been the recognised policy of Washington's administration, to use force against the Indians only when absolute necessity required it; and compulsory measures were never adopted until after every other means of accommodating existing differences had failed. They were, to a certain extent, regarded as public wards. The assassination of Harden and Trueman on the Ohio, with the olive-branch in their hands, after the defeat of St. Clair, and previous to the expedition of Wayne, is irrefragable evidence of this conciliatory policy. Even after Wayne had reached Roche du Bout, and but a day or two antecedent to the decisive battle, he tendered overtures of peace to the Indians, of which, it is affirmed, they were kept in ignorance by foreign agents. 465
In response to the renewal of these overtures, the Indians crowded to Wayne's camp, at Greenville, during the summer of 1795. The entire area embraced between the banks of the Ohio and Lake Erie, luxuriant with indigenous vegetation, had been
trodden down, by the marching and countermarching of war parties and armies, from the period of the conclusion of the sham treaty made with Lord Dunmore, in 1774, and the no less unreliable one signed at Fort M'Intosh, in 1785; but, during the five years which had just closed, it had been beaten with hostile feet until it had become like one of their own chunk-yards. 466 The bitter chalice which they had so long held to the lips of the people of Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, was now being drained by themselves. After the demonstration at the Maumee Kapids, they fled to their wintering-grounds, and to the extensive forests of Lake Erie, Michigan, and Canada. The local foreign traders of these precincts, the very commandants of the posts, who had counselled them to war, could no longer be regarded by them as oracles. They had been unable to keep the whites east of the Ohio; nay, it began to be perceived, by these subtile sons of the forest, that the race could not, eventually, be confined within the limits fixed by the treaty of Versailles. Spring succeeded these desolating military movements of General Wayne; the genial warmth of May and June caused the wild flowers to raise their heads from the war-path, on which they had been crushed by the feet of contending partisans. The Indian derives many of his ideas from the mild teachings of Nature; and, at this time, wherever the eye turned, all its productions inculcated peace. Before the month of July arrived, the savage, with altered feelings, entered on the forest-paths that led to Greenville, where the American chief was seated, surrounded by all the panoply of war, with the emblems of peace intermingled. Wayne now impersonated their own Hiawatha.
Foremost among the tribes who turned their steps to his camp, were the proud and influential Wyandots, who had so long been regarded as wise men and umpires among the tribes of the West. Driven from the St. Lawrence valley, in 1659, by the Iroquois, they had, for a century and a half, held a high position in the West; sustained a part of the time by France, their earliest and most constant friend, and after the conquest of Canada, by the English. They were astute, reflective, and capable of pursuing a steady line of policy, which had been, with some lapses, the stay of the western tribes, who were willing to tread in their footsteps. This tribe was the last to assent to the scheme of Pontiac; and when the confederation was broken up by the British, they adhered to that power with extraordinary devotion.
In this train, also, followed the Delawares, who had been, since the time they first fled from Pennsylvania and crossed the Alleghanies, bitter enemies of the settlers in the West. There also came the Shawnees; the most vengeful and subtile of all the western tribes. Every day witnessed the arrival in the surrounding forests of delegates, decked off with all their peculiar ornaments, of feathers, paint, silver gorgets, trinkets, and medals. The Chippewas, Ottawas, Pottawatamies, Miamies, Weas, Kickapoos, Piankashaws, and Kaskaskias, were all present. The entire official power of the
Algonquins was on the ground. Each delegation carried the pipe of peace, and expressed pacific desires. The whole camp presented a gorgeous display of wild and savage magnificence; and, for the number and variety of costumes, the scene has, probably, never since been equalled in America. All came bending to Wayne.
A treaty was signed on the 3d of August, 467 and constitutes our first reliable date in the history of treaty stipulations with the Indians. The draft of this treaty, sent to General Wayne from the War Department, was drawn up under the supervision of Washington, and appears to have been full and elaborate. It established the system of boundaries and reservations, and introduced the fundamental regulations as to trade and intercourse with the tribes, which have been embodied in all subsequent treaties. A donation of $20,000 in goods, and a permanent annuity of $9000, payable in merchandise, at invoice prices, to be divided pro rata among the different nations, were granted to the Indians. 468
Having traced the negotiation of treaties from their first inception under the American Government to this important period, when the Indians buried the hatchet, it will not be necessary to pursue the subject further. Subsequent negotiations with the tribes are connected with a lengthy detail of dates, names, and figures, which are readily accessible in the volumes containing the treaties between the United States and the Indians. The treaty of Greenville forms a definite era in the Indian history, from which the tribes may be viewed. Both parties regarded this peace as a final conclusion of the aboriginal war, which, following the close of the Revolution, had spread, as it were, a bloody mantle over not only the Ohio valley, but over the entire region to the north-west of it. The position attained by the United States through this treaty, had been the result of at least a decade of years, characterized by wars and negotiations, in which the sword and the olive-branch had either failed of effect, or only produced temporary results; and the length of time the treaty was observed by the aborigines, is, in part, attributable to the full assent it received from the united judgment of the principal chiefs of all the leading tribes, who were parties to it. On the part of the Wyandots, it received the signature of the venerated Tarhe, or the Crane; on that of the Delawares, it was subscribed to by the gifted Bukongehelas; the Shawnees assented to it through the venerable Cutthewekasaw, or Black Hoof, and Weyapiersenwaw, or Blue Jacket; Topinabi, or Thupenebu, signed it for the Pottawattarnies, and for the Miamies it was signed by Meshekunnoghquoh, or the celebrated Little Turtle; the latter of whom, with the Shawnee chief, Blue Jacket, had been the marshals or leaders of the Indians at the final battle on the Maumee. 469 As long as these chiefs, the last of the forest kings, lived, this peace was observed.
The lake posts were surrendered by the British in 1796, and American garrisons replaced those of the English at Niagara, Presque Isle, Maumee, Detroit,
and Green Bay. The Indians, who are quick at recognising the nationality of a flag, began to accommodate their visits and addresses to this new state of affairs. The Government also sought, as much as possible, to divert the Indian trade from foreign hands into those of the Americans; but this was a difficult matter, and required time to effect it. Along the Georgia and Carolina borders, this trade had been concentrated in the hands of, and continued to be carried on principally by, enterprising and talented Scotchmen, who intermarried with the Indians. The most noted of these were M'Intosh, M'Gillivray, Ross, and Rutherford; the latter somewhat better known as the Black Warrior of 1818. Throughout Louisiana, in all its amplitude of extension north and west, the French exercised the controlling influence; and this was especially the case in the territory now constituting the States of Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa. The same fact was true respecting the trade carried on in the basins of the upper lakes, and at the
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