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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. — Events of the Indian War of 1813.

FACTS demonstrate that the Indians throughout the Union, from south to north, had entered into the war with the greatest unanimity and spirit. They believed, as Tecumseh declared to Proctor, in 1813, that they were about "to get back their lands;" 498 that it was, in a great measure, a contest between themselves and the United States; and that the crisis rendered it necessary that they should endure every hardship and privation for the purpose of securing victory. Indeed, it must be confessed that, admitting their sincerity, the stand they made was heroic. Of the Duke of Marlborough, his panygerist exclaims:

"Rivers of blood appear, and hills of slain,
An Iliad rising out of one campaign;"

If the Indians did not perform equal feats, it could not be denied that they caused not only the frontiers, but also the entire territorial area of the Union, to realize the perfidy and cruel carnage, with which a savage foe disgraced the military movements of an ally, in which they participated.

The year 1812 closed very inauspiciously. In wars with his own race, the Indian never continues hostile operations during the winter season. The trees have then lost their foliage, and do not hide his movements; the snows, at that season, present a complete map of his track; the cold is too intense for him to dispense with fire, the light of which would reveal the position of his encampment. But, when an Indian is quartered among civilized troops, he is protected in the use of camp-fires; he builds huts to ward off storms; draws his provisions from a commissary; and clothes himself in woollens, which are not paid for by beaver skins. Under these circumstances, a winter campaign can be endured, and does not become distasteful.

The River Detroit had been, from the earliest period, the principal entrance to the Indian territory in the north-west, and the area of lower or eastern Michigan consequently became the meeting-place of Indian councils, and the grand rendezvous of war parties. The surrender, by Hull, of this territory, appeared to have abandoned it to

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them, under the protection of their allies. It was renowned in their mythology as having been trod by the fabled heroes and demigods, Enigorio, Manabsoho, and Hiawatha; and celebrated, in their traditional history, by the deeds of a Pontiac and a Minnavivina. The great object of the manoeuvres of the United States troops was, to regain possession of Michigan. Tecumseh, whose headquarters were located near Amhertsburg, separated from it only by the River Detroit, had, as has been already mentioned, defeated Major Van Horn at Maguaga, on the 4th of August, 1812, and, likewise, aided in the determined resistance made to Colonel Miller, at the same place, on the 9th. He was in himself a host, and might well have exclaimed, in the symbolical language used by his prototype, Pontiac, "I stand in the path!"

General Winchester, in his eagerness to consummate the purpose of the campaign, marched through the snows in mid-winter, from the rapids of the Miami, at the head of a gallant army, and reached the River Raisin on the 22d of January. He encamped there in a hurried and confused manner, and was defeated by a considerable force of British regulars and Indians, commanded by Tecumseh. The citizens of the Union were horrified with the details of the massacre, by the Indians, of the wounded prisoners taken on this occasion. This scene of diabolical cruelty was, it is alleged, the result of the lack of a proper controlling power in the white victors, for which they are generally held to be responsible. 499

On the night of the 27th of January, a large body of Creeks stealthily seized the sentinels, and then attacked the army of General Floyd, some forty miles west of the Chattahootchee river. They were perfectly wild with fury, and rushed to within fifty yards of the artillery, evincing a courage which the Indians had but once previously displayed, viz., in the action against St. Clair, on the St. Mary's. They were encountered with firmness, and, as soon as day dawned, successfully charged with the bayonet and the broadsword. General Floyd gained a complete victory: thirty-seven dead bodies were found on the field, of which fifteen had been sabred. 500

The northern Indians assembled, under British colors, around Fort Meigs, on the Miami of the Lakes, aided materially in effecting the defeat, on the 5th of May, of 1200 volunteers, under General Green Clay and Colonel Dudley. On the 30th of August, the Creeks and southern Indians made an attack on a fort at Tensaw, commanded by General Claiborne. They stormed one of the gates, after a desperate struggle, killing many men, as well as several brave officers, and set fire to and consumed some of the buildings. Their force is estimated to have been from 500 to 700 warriors, of whom at least 150 are claimed to have been killed. 501

The north-western Indians, who were under the influence of Tecumseh, and of the Shawnee prophet, his brother, had manifested considerable restlessness and dissatisfaction

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at the course pursued by the British generals during the spring, summer, and autumn of 1813. Their decided and unexpected defeat by Croghan, in the sharp action at Upper Sandusky, their abandonment of the siege of Fort Meigs, on the Miami, and withdrawal from the American shores of Lake Erie, and, above all, the capture of the British fleet by Perry, had appeared to the Indians to be presages of evil. As early as the 18th of August, only eight days after Perry's victory, Tecumseh had protested against these retrograde movements. He was then in ignorance of the result of the naval battle, which had been concealed from him; but he feared the worst. "We have heard the guns," he said, "but know nothing of what has happened to our father with one arm. 502 Our ships have gone one way, and we are very much astonished to see our father tying up everything and preparing to run away another, without letting his red children know what his intentions are. You always told us to remain here, and take care of our lands; it made our hearts glad to hear that was your wish. Our great father, the King of England, is the head, and you represent him. You always told us that you would never draw your foot off British ground. But now, father, we see you are drawing back, and we are sorry for our father doing so without seeing the enemy."

The victory obtained by Perry was the turning-point in the campaign. A fleet being now at the command of General Harrison, he could at once transport his entire army, with its artillery and baggage, across the lake; thus avoiding long and perilous marches, through more than serbonian bogs, such as that of the Black Swamp, and the peril of ambuscades in the forests. General Harrison landed his army on the shores of the lake, a few miles below Amhertsburg, on the 23d of September; and, in less than one hour, he marched into the town, where not a single British soldier was to be found. General Proctor, the commandant, had fled, with all his troops and the Indian auxiliaries, after burning the fort, barracks, navy-yard, and public stores. He was pursued the following day, and, on the 5th of October, overtaken at the Moravian town on the river Thames, when a general action ensued, in which he was utterly defeated. In this battle the Indians occupied low grounds, behind a dense forest of beech trees, which could not be penetrated by horsemen. The position was well chosen, and evinced the judgment of their great captain, Tecumseh, who commanded the Indians, and, by word and example, animated them to a vigorous resistance. The defeat of Proctor in front, by a well-planned charge of General Harrison, left Tecumseh unprotected, and he would necessarily have been compelled to retreat, had not the action in this quarter, which was fiercely maintained by the dismounted Kentuckians, under Colonel Richard Johnson, terminated in the death of the Indian chief. With the fall of Tecumseh, the Indian league was virtually broken; the Indians abandoned the

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contest, and dispersed. On the 16th of October, General Harrison issued a proclamation, 503 granting an armistice to the Miamies, Pottawattamies, Weas, Eel River Indians, Chippewas, Ottawas, and Wyandots; each of these tribes having delivered into his custody hostages for the faithful performance of their agreement. The same tribes, together with the Kickapoos, had previously sent delegates to Generals M'Arthur and Cass, commanding at Detroit, offering to conclude a peace.

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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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