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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 VIII. — Foreshadowings of Peace.

THE war with the Creeks was now drawing rapidly to a close; the entire extent of the valleys of the Coosa and Tallapoosa, their strongholds, having been scoured, and their ablest chiefs defeated. Wethersford, the indomitable Black Warrior, on whose head a price had been fixed, having, after the memorable defeat at Emucfau, or the Horse-Shoe, surrendered himself to the commanding general, had been allowed to return to his nation unharmed; the object of the war being to convince them that the counsels of their prophets were only evil, and destructive to their best interests. Reason having failed to make them acquainted with this fact, the sword was the only resort left. Fortunately for the country, this duty was entrusted to a man noted for his decision, and who also possessed a just conception of the Indian character, capacity, and resources. Had it been otherwise, the war would have been protracted in the same manner as the subsequent contest with the Seminoles of Florida, and, like that war, would, possibly, have cost the treasury millions of dollars.

One of the most atrocious acts committed by the Creeks, was the massacre at Fort Mimms; and many of the negroes taken at that time, as also a woman and her children, were now liberated. Tustahatchee, king of the Hickory-Ground band, followed the example of Black Warrior, by delivering himself up; and Hillishagee, their jossakeed and prophet, absconded. During the month of April the army swept, like a resistless whirlwind, over the Creek country; and, by the early part of May, all its operations were closed, excepting the cautious retention of garrisoned posts.

It must be noticed, that the Indian priestly influence was the real origin of the Indian wars which raged from the extreme north to the south, between the years 1812 and 1816. Tecumseh had, through the wily arts of Ellksattawa, incited this new crusade against the Americans. He had visited the southern tribes, and was received with particular favor by his relatives, the Creeks. From the oracular teachings of Ellksattawa, on the Wabash, Monahooe and Hillishagee then received their clue, and, thenceforward, became active agents in the dark mysteries. War had sealed with death two of the principal originators of these hallucinations, these servants of the

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western Chemosh, and disciples of Baal and Moloch, whose magic incantations and shouts sounded as dolefully at the solemn midnight hour, on the waters of the Appalachian slopes, as they ever did on the banks of the Euphrates, or along the rivers and plains of Palestine.

As the American armies acquired better discipline and greater experience, the assistance of Indian auxiliaries on the flanks of the enemy became less a subject of interest or apprehension; the most important tribes in the South, West, and North having also suffered such defeats as caused them rather to keep aloof from the contest. Still, though defeated whenever they fought without the aid of their British allies, they were, as a mass, unfriendly, and ill concealed their secret hostility under the guise of neutrality. They did not, however, fail to rally in their strength, whenever the presence of a detachment of regular troops promised them protection. In the sharp action fought by Major A. H. Holmes, on the 4th of March, 1814, within twenty miles of the River Thames, and near Detroit, the Indians formed a part of the forces which he had to encounter. 525 Also, in the attempt to retake the
fort at Michilimackinac, in the month of August of the same year, the Chippewa, Ottawa, Menomonee, Winnebago, Sac, and Sioux Indians occasioned the defeat of the army under the orders of Colonel Croghan. The troops employed on this service comprised a regiment of infantry and a detachment of artillery, with a supply of ordnance and ammunition adequate to the reduction of the place, had not the plan of attack been ill advised. Instead of sailing directly for the harbor and post located on this cliff-crowned Gibraltar of the lakes, time was wasted in making an excursion up the St. Mary's strait and river, for the purpose of burning the empty fort on St. Joseph's Island, and detaching a party to plunder the North-west Factory. This force likewise pillaged some private property, and committed other acts of questionable public morality. When the fleet of Commodore St. Clair, with the army on board, made the white cliffs of the island, it manoeuvred and sailed around it, thus expending some days uselessly, instead of promptly entering the harbor and assaulting the town, which, being but feebly garrissoned, would have been easily captured. On first descrying the fleet, the populace were in the wildest confusion. Meantime, the Indians thronged on to the island from the contiguous shores, filling the woods which extended back of the fort. On the margin of this dark forest the attack was made. Major Holmes, who had recently displayed such intrepidity in the engagement on the River Thames, landed with the infantry and artillery, and led them successfully through the paths which wound among the thick foliage of the undergrowth on that part of the island, and deployed his men on the open ground of Dousman's farm.

Meantime, Colonel M'Dowell, who had but sixty regulars in the fort, recruited as many of the Canadian militia as he could muster and equip, marched out to Dousman's, and commenced firing with a six-pounder from an eminence which overlooked the battle-field.

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Not less than 500 warriors were on the island, who opposed the landing from their coverts; entirely surrounding the field, and crouching behind clumps of trees on the plain, from which they poured an effective fire. Major Holmes, as soon as his men were formed, pushed forward with great gallantry, waving his sword, and had progressed some hundred yards, when he was shot by an Indian who was concealed behind a bush. When this officer fell, the troops faltered, and then retreated to the landing-place. Mr. Madison, in his message of September 20th, 1814, observes of Major Holmes, in alluding to this expedition, that "he was an officer justly distinguished for his gallant exploits." 526

The general battles of the Thames and Emucfau, having in reality, broken up the Indian combination in the North and South, they played only a secondary part in those events of the war, which occurred subsequently. A few of the friendly Iroquois valiantly aided General P. B. Porter's regulars and militia, in the severe and triumphant sortie made from Fort Erie against the British camp on the 17th of September. 527 There were also parties of friendly Creeks, of the Cowetas, under M'Intosh, as well as of the Cherokees and Chickasaws, who performed good service on the side of the Americans. The hostile Creeks, who had been expelled from the southern plains, having taken shelter at Pensacola, in Florida, General Jackson deemed it essential to the preservation of peace on the frontiers, that the governor of that town, and the commander of the fort there located, should have an opportunity of making an explanation of his policy in furnishing protection and supplies to the Indians. With this view, he appeared in that vicinity on the 6th of November, at the head of the army which had traversed the Creek country, and forthwith dispatched a field-officer to the town, with a flag, desiring a conference; but, the bearer of it being fired on by the cannon of the fort, Jackson immediately determined upon storming it; and, having made some preliminary reconnoissances, he attacked the town with his entire force on the 7th. He was assailed by a fire of musketry from the houses and surrounding gardens, and a battery of two guns opened on his front. This battery was immediately stormed by Captain Lavall's company; and, after sustaining a heavy and continuous fire of musketry, the garrison of the fort submitted unconditionally. The Choctaws were highly commended by Jackson for their bravery on this occasion. The following day, the Barancas was abandoned and blown up by the enemy, and Colonel Nichols, the governor, retreated to the vessels of the British squadron lying in the bay, which then put to sea.

This action was the closing event of the Indian war in that quarter. "It has convinced the Red Sticks," 528 remarks the General, "that they have no stronghold or protection except in the friendship of the United States." 529

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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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