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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 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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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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