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The War of 1812


WAR AT KASKASKIA IL
The Centinel, (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) April 14, 1813
Lexington, Ky, March 23

Extract of a letter dated Union, Ky, March 20

“I have but a few days returned from Kaskaskia. In inhabitants of that village, as well as the frontier, are very much alarmed. Intelligence that can be relied on states a force at the mouth of the Onisconton river of upwards of 3000 Indians, exclusive of British, headed by a Scotchman of the name of Art, who had been naturalized and held a commission under our government at St. Louis. We also learn that the Indians had collected in considerable force at the Peoria towns on the Illinois river, that were destroyed last fall by Gov. Edwards. At St. Louis and St. Genevieve, the inhabitants are fortifying. Numbers of the frontier inhabitants are abandoning their homes to seek safety along the Ohio.

A most horrid massacre took place above the mouth of the Ohio; two families were destroyed, Clark’s and Kennedy’s and mangled in a shocking manner; there is no doubt but this was done by a party of 12 Indians, who were runners to the southern tribes with the news of Winchester’s defeat, as their trail had been discovered crossing the road leading from the Saline to Kaskaskia a few days before the murder; they had been pursued but too, too late. A man was killed a few days ago near the falls of the Little Wabash, twenty miles from the Saline; a part is now in pursuit, but I fear too late. A man and his little son, that lived on the Goshen road, about forty miles from the Saline, went a few days ago to his nearest neighbor, 20 miles off for corn; on their return he and his son fell a sacrifice. My God! To think and know that this extensive and weak frontier is left without assistance. The war must be more ably conducted this spring, or the nation’s credit will suffer.”



The Centinel, (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) April 21, 1813
Extract of a letter from a gentleman at Kaskaskia, Feb. 27

“A horrid instance of savage barbarity occurred in this territory on the 9th inst., upon the bank of the Ohio, 7 miles above its mouth. In may last I mentioned that an Indian trail had been discovered passing from the northward in a direction to the mouth of that river crossing the roads about half way between this and Shawanoetown. After we heard of Gen. Winchester’s defeat, we concluded they were runners going to the southwestern Indians with the news of that disaster – which conjecture was probably correct.

On their arriving upon the Ohio, it seems they traced the shore till they came to where 3 small crafts were lying in front of two cabins occupied by a Esq. Clark and Mr. Kennedy. The former was standing before his door when the savages (10 in number) came up to the bank towards his house. One of them, who could speak English and whom Clark knew, called out to him to not be afraid for they were friends – that they had travelled far and wanted something to eat; on this Clark permitted them to come up and they shook hands very cordially. Setting their guns up against the house they went in and C. ordered his wife to prepare them some victuals. She did so and they set down and eat heartily.

No white people were in the house but Clark, his wife and a neighbor who happened to be there. On their rising 2 of them were observed to place themselves in the door-passage, which excited some suspicion but not much alarm. Two others came and stood by the neighbor, one of whom (who could talk English) set to feeling the white man’s shoulders, knees, &c., and said “You be stout man – you be strong man – can you run fast? &c.” Soon the man perceived the other Indian drawing his tomahawk at his head, which he in part avoided, but it struck in the upper part of the forehead and pealed the skin down to the bone of the eyebrow which arrested its force.

The man plunged to the door and knocking over one of those stationed there, made his escape towards a creek near at hand, with four or five of the savages at his heels. He sprang upon the ice which giving way let him down to his middle in water. He scrambled up, however, upon the unbroken ice, which bore him across. The Indians chose not to follow. Perceiving this he made a short halt to observe what would be done. He discovered Kennedy coming from his cabin towards Clark’s and about half way was shot down. He saw Clark rush out of his door and run, but he too was shot down. He saw no more but hastened to give the alarm.

A force assembled as soon as possible and went to the place, but the Indians had crossed the river and could not be seen. They found the bodies of Kennedy and Clark as above mentioned, and on entering Clark’s house found Mrs. Clark cruelly tomahawked and dead. Proceeding to Kennedy’s they found his wife and one child also murdered, two of their children, a boy and girl, are still missing, supposed to be taken away, as one of the girl’s shoes was found in one of the crafts which took them across the river.

The situation of Mrs. Kennedy was shocking beyond description. She having been pregnant her body was found entirely naked, cut open and the child taken out and hung it upon a peg in the chimney. Her entrails were scattered all about the door and the hogs were eating them. Both houses were plundered of all they could carry off.

Thus ends the history of a horrid scene. The slain were 5 in number exclusive of the unborn infant and two missing. The bodies were decently interred and men have gone across the river in pursuit of the savages.

The people of St. Louis are much alarmed by the defeat of Gen. Winchester, on account of the encouragement it will give to hostile Indians.

They consider themselves more in danger than any other part of the country, as their town would be the first object. They are determined to fortify and have also sent for 400 Osage warriors, who are considered friendly – but I can hardly approve of the latter policy.


The Centinel, (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) April 28, 1813
Frankfort, Ken., April 10
Extracts from a letter from Gov. Edwards to Gov. Shelby, dated

“Kaskaskia, Il. Ter., March 22
A few days ago I transmitted to you important information relative to the British and Indians in the upper parts of this Territory. An express yesterday brought me information that 18 pieces of cannon and a British officer had arrived at Prairie De Chien. The ice is now completely out of our rivers. Some spies that I sent up the Illinois river are returned, reporting that they saw too much Indian sign to proceed as high up as they were directed. The express states that an Indian was discovered a day or two past very near to Fort Russel, he evidently is a spy.

I have melancholy presages of what is to happen in this Country, particularly at Prairie de Chien, or rather at the mouth of the Onisconsing. Should the British take possession of that place, I need not point out to you the difficulty of retaking it or the importance of it to them. By water we should have to ascend 700 miles – by land not less than 400. Seven thousand Indians may easily be assembled at that place. Last year, in time of peace, there were 3377 there in the months of April and May. The following facts, which you need not doubt, will show its importance.

Goods can be carried there from Montreal by way of the Ucawas river more expeditionsly with less expense and more safety than by way of the lakes. It is a fact that a canoe from Montreal by this rout, arrived with dispatches to a gentleman in Cahokia in 33 days. On his return he went in the same canoe to Mackanack, by the Illinois river in 16 days and could thence have descended to Montral in 9 days. The traders of Montreal have passed from Lake Superior to the Mississippi, thence have gone into the North-West and have been brought into collision with the Husdon Bay Company. The British can easily push a trade up the Columbia river. And combining all these facts, a person tolerably acquainted with the geography of the country, the nature of the Fur trade, the inducements with the N. West Company to retain it, and the evident policy of the British in supporting it, can have no doubt of their inducements to occupy the mouth of the Onisonsing.

“These anticipations make me feel for my country’s honor; Certainly it must be destructive to its reputation to permit such plans to be realized. The point I have mentioned, once fortified, will be more difficult to take than Malden. I am well apprised of all objections that may be made to those speculations on the score of provisions; but those who make them cannot know much of the supplies that can be furnished from the settlements of Green Bay (where there is an elegant merchant mill, fine farms, &c.) and Prairie de Chien itself.

I never could see the advantage of so great a struggle for Malden. Montreal once taken, it would fall of itself; and one single expedition would drive to the Mississippi country all the Indians that ever had intercourse with that place. It would not cut off the intercourse as had been supposed.

Notwithstanding I have regularly communicated information on which most have shown what our situation would be at this time, and notwithstanding our present difficulties, I am now as I was last year, totally without any instructions, acting upon my own responsibility. I have had great success in raising volunteers from the local militia; and neither they nor myself have been idle. I again set out tomorrow for the frontiers.

The Centinel, (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) June 29 1814
Kaskaskias, May 11
Important

We have received information from a source which may be relied on, that within a few days past the rangers at Fort Clarke killed a war chief belonging to the Kickapoo tribe. The circumstances attending we have not heard. About one half of the garrison at that place are so sick as to be unfit for duty.

Gov. Edwards has obligingly favored us with the perusal of an official report which he received on the 7th inst. from a sub-agent in the Indian department who had just returned from a tour up the Illinois river, on which he had been ordered by the governor.

If the report itself was not too voluminous, its publication at large for some very obvious reasons might be injudicious and improper, and therefore we must content ourselves with laying before our readers a few facts which have been extracted from it.

It appears that some British vessels with merchandize, &c. wintered at Green Bay. That Dickson, by the last accounts from that quarter, was preparing to go to Prairie de Chien, that one of his agents who wintered at Milwakee had gone on to join him. That they were Sioux (and not Winebagoes as at first reported) who took J. Demachel and I. Jorrel (our citizens) prisoners. That 6 Winebagoes, about the last of March or first of April, being sent by Dickson, arrived on the Illinois river with intention to take Forsyth prisoner, whom they were strictly enjoined by Dickson not to injure. They being disappointed in their object, they went to Fort Clarke and stole 5 or 6 horses, which had been left there by Gen. Howard’s army. That a belt of Waupun, &c. has lately been sent to the Pottawatomie of Illinois river to induce them to renew the war. That those Indians and others are embodied or (….can’t read) as they did in the year 1812, previous to the formidable descent which they made in that year upon our frontier. GOMO (the great Pottawatomie chief) states, that he thinks the Winnebago’s and Fullsavoines have relinquished their intentions of attacking Fort Clarke for the present, but he is of opinion that they will make a breach upon this frontier.

And such is the state of things in that quarter that the agent above mentioned who has always had treat influence over the Pottawatomie was dissuaded by Gomo himself from attempting to go to the village at the head of the lake of a friendly mission lest he or some of his party should be killed.

If the above information be correct (and we have no reason to doubt it) we may soon expect some additional matter of fact demonstrations of the policy and efficacy of armistices and councils with faithless savages.

Dickson is pushing westward. The anxiety which he has manifested in other instances as well as in the above mentioned to obtain information of the situation of this country, renders it probable that he may have some design upon it.

Indians who have been with him have returned to the Mississippi with presents &c.

We have additional proof of the hostility of the Sioux (our near neighbors.)

Upwards of 40 lodges of Kickapoo under their great chief are near the mouth of Rock river and do not disguise their hostility.

The Pottawatomie have too much intercourse with the British agents to escape suspicion – those of that tribe and others who reside at Chicago, Sandy river and other places are drawing nearer to us and are concentrating their forces at a point from whence the whole of them may reach our frontiers in about 3 days.

Gomo’s dissuading our agent from going to their village must have proceeded from a fear that he would be killed or from a desire to conceal what was going on there; either of which indicates hostile intention in the great body of them.

And whether the information that the Winebago and Fullsavoines were coming to attack our frontier be true, or be designed to cover the attack which the Pottawatomie themselves intend to make, it is equally inauspicious to us, especially as all those savages must by this time have received information of the discharge of the rangers, the removal of the regulars and the total want of any preparation to repel any attacks they may make.

For a state of things so contrary to the recommendations of the governor and delegates of our respective territories, and we believe of Gen. Howard also, some individual must feel and ought to feel a weighty responsibility.


Newspaper accounts transcribed by Nancy Piper



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