chapter commences a history of the trouble between Harrison and
the two great Indian leaders, Tecumseh and the Prophet.
been so much recrimination and controversy about the battle of
Tippecanoe, the action of General Harrison in that battle and so
many statements of political opponents that were it variance with
the truth that it is thought best as an introduction to this
chapter to give a full explanation of the cause of that battle
being fought on the morning of the 7th of November, when the
evening before the Indian Chiefs had so solemnly arranged for a
treaty of peace to be held on the morning the battle was fought.
After this a short sketch of the birth and nativity of Harrison
and the two Indian chiefs will be given.
The battle of Tippecanoe was the only battle fought on Indiana soil in which the militia of Indiana in any great number took part and they acquitted themselves so creditably in that engagement that it is a great pleasure to note their heroism.
It is not too much to say with only the fringe of settlements that was on the southern borders of Indiana in 1811, that had General Harrison been defeated at that battle, most terrible and distressing results would have followed. The Indians who had been held in subjection and who were apparently friendly would nearly all have joined Tecumseh and the Prophet's confederation and turned against the defeated whites; just as the pretended friendly Indians on the northern borders of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio did, when Hull so cowardly surrendered the army at Detroit in 1812. The permanent settlement of this country would have been retarded for several rears and the military career of one of the most useful men of this nation would have come to an end and instead of the War of 1812, commencing on the northern border of the Northwest Territory, as it did, it would have commenced on or near the Ohio river, with results that are hard to guess at owing to the incompetence that was shown by so many of the leaders in that war.
In the make-up of an army there are some who are always ready to run unnecessary risks if they are not held in subjection. This was the case at Tippecanoe when the army arrived at the Prophet's town in the afternoon of the sixth of November, 1811. Some of the subordinate commanders who were panting for a chance to distinguish themselves and to receive military renown, were -very loud in their declaration. that Governor Harrison should attack the Indians at once. Long years after the battle was fought many military critics were severe in their denunciation of the want of military tact shown by the Governor, bur: this was all uncalled for and came from those who would nor have been able to command properly a corporal's guard.
Governor Harrison s orders, from Secretary of War was to break up the confederation of Indians and to have those that belonged to other tribes, go back to their homes; to have the Prophet make proper restitution for the annuity salt that he had taken from a boat that was being conveyed to other Indians; to restore a lot of stolen horses and to deliver up a number of murderers who were being harbored in his town. To accomplish this, he was directed to use peaceful means.
The Indians met him with overtures of peace and the arrangements were made to have the meeting the next morning. The army went into camp and arranged themselves as comfortably as men could who were situated as they were.. No one in camp expected a battle that night, though every precaution was taken to prepare the army for battle if it should come. Those who have studied the history of that battle nearly all agree that on the evening of the sixth of November, when Harrison and the chiefs were making arrangements for a camp and for the conference to be held the next morning, the Indians had no intention of bringing on the battle that night.
Tradition has it that White Loon, one of the three chiefs in the immediate command of the Indians in the battle, said to a party of white prisoners who had been in the battle of Tippecanoe and were afterward captured at Hull s surrender at Detroit, that the Prophet and the chiefs in town had no thought of bringing on the battle, but during the first part of the night, Winnamac, a Pottawattamie chief, arrived in town and as soon as he learned the condition of things, went to the Prophet and told him that it was now or never; that if he would have the forces organized and ready for battle by the early hours of the morning, they would slip up on the Americans and murder them in their camp. A council was convened and after long conference at which most of the chiefs were assembled, it was found that a large majority of them opposed the attack. At this, Winnamac, who was a fearless dare-devil, called them cowards and said that if they were going to submit like whipped dogs to the Americans he would take his people (who formed one third of the town) and go back to his nation. This had the desired effect and it was agreed that the attack should be made The night was spent in organizing the forces (something less, White Loon claimed, than nine hundred and fifty warriors). Several Indians were sent to locate particularly the position of the troops. Stone Eater, White. Loon and Winnamac were put in immediate command of the Indians. The Prophet, after it was agreed to bring on the fight, made a speech that roused the Indians to a high pitch. He made them believe that they would have as easy a victory as the Indians did over Braddock and St. Clair and that all the whites would be driven back across the Ohio river. He assured them that the bullets of the Americans would not hurt them.
GOVERNOR WILLIAM. H. HARRISON, TECUMSEU AND THE PROPHET.
state of Ohio, near where the city of Springfield now stands,
Tecumseh, his brother, the Prophet, and another brother were all
born at one birth. if tradition is right this was in 1769
Tecumseh, at Taladega, September 1811, in a speech before an
assembly of Creek Indians and their great chief Rutherford, in
part said I have seen twice twenty and two springs come and go
again, and during all that time, the want of confederation has
brought disaster and ruin to many Indian tribes. .Their father was
a Shawnee warrior of prominence. Their mother was a Creek woman
named Methataska, who had been captured by the Shawnees. The name
Tecumseh stood for wild cat springing on its prey; the Prophet's
name Elkswatawa, for a loud voice.
There is no historical or traditional record of the third brother
except his name which was Kamskaka.
William Henry Harrison was born in Charles County, Virginia, February 9, 1773. His father, Benjamin Harrison, was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Young Harrison, on coming to manhood, joined the regular army with the rank of an Ensign, and was soon promoted to .a lieutenant. He served with General Anthony Wayne in this campaign against the Indians in 1794 and was with him in the battle of Maumee. Tradition has it that Tecumseh was a very active partisan in the campaign that terminated in the defeat of the Confederate bands of Indians at the battle of Maumee. William Henry Harrison was in 1797 promoted to the rank of Captain. Soon thereafter he resigned and was appointed Secretary of the North-west Territory.
The two Indians, Tecumseh and the Prophet, were so directly linked with the name of William Henry Harrison in the history of the Northwest and Indiana Territory and its records, that in writing of the events that become history from 1808 to 1811, they must appear in all the records.
In 1800 the Indiana Territory was formed, then including the present states of Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and that part of Minnesota east of the Mississippi river, leaving the state of Ohio out as it was then preparing to form a state government. That same year William Henry Harrison was made Governor and General John Gibson was made Secretary of the Territory, while the seat of government was moved to Vincennes. Governor Harrison was very active. Through his influence various treaties were made, namely: that of August 18th and 24th, 1804, by which all the territory of southern Indiana, south of the old Vincennes and Clarksville trace was ceded to the United States; the treaty of Grousland, August 21st, 1805; the treaty of Ft. Wayne, June 7, 1803, and the treaty of Ft. Wayne, September 30th, 1809; and the treaty of Vincennes, September 26th, 1811. These various treaties together with the small strip acquired by the treaty at Greenville, August 3rd, 1795, covered a little more than one third J the State of Indiana.
For many centuries before the coming of the white man, the great Miami nation of Indians owned and controlled all the territory that is now the State of Indiana and a large territory on the east and west of it. In the middle of the eighteenth century, the Miami confederation was composed of four tribes the Twightwees, who were the Miamis proper, the Weas, the Shockeys, and the Piankashaws. These Indians were all of the Algonquin nation. lit is claimed that at Ft. Wayne, near where the St. Mary s and St. Joseph s rivers formed the Maumee river, these Indians had their national capital. This powerful nation, owned the largest and best hunting grounds of any Indians who ever inhabited the United States. The Piankashaws were located in southern Indiana on the Wabash and in southern Illinois. The Weas were located in Central Indiana on the .Wabash river to the north and on its marx- tributaries and on the Illinois river. The Miamis proper were in the central, northern and northeastern Indiana and on the Scioto river in the state of Ohio, The Shockeys were scattered over southeastern Indiana and along the Miami river, far into Ohio. Other Indian tribes asked the Miamis for permission to settle in this vast territory. This privilege was given to the Pottawattamies, Shawnees, Delawares and Kickapoos. These tribes left their former homes and made many settlements and towns over the territory that is now Indiana. The Delawares made their settlements or. the waters of the White rivers and their tributaries and the Pottawatramies in the northern and northwestern Indiana. The Shawnees were located in many places in southern and western Indiana and near the Ohio river in the stare of Ohio. The Kickapoos were located at many points and were neighbors to all the other tribes who had been granted concessions. These Indians were at peace with each other for a long period. The tribes that had been permitted to have homes in the favored land had prospered and multiplied and after a generation or two had passed. they felt as if they were the owners of the land they lived on and were ever ready to object to anything the real owners did that would in any way affect them.
In 1804 the Delaware's ceded all the territory south of the old Vincennes and Clarkville trace on the Ohio river to the United States. This immense territory was very desirable but Governor Harrison knew that they were not the owners so he got the Piankashaw chiefs who were the real owners, to ratify that treaty. Tecumseh and his brother, the Prophet, were nor born so an official Station bur Tecumesh soon arose to the most influential position by his great talents. These two brothers lived for a time among the Delaware Indians on the waters of the White river in what is now Delaware county, Indiana.
Along about 1806 they moved to Greenville, Ohio. There Elksawatawa rook on the role of Prophet. claiming that a gift from the Great Spirit had been bestowed upon him so that he could tell things which would come to pass. He was a very smart one-eyed rascal. The other eye was put out while shooting with a bow, the arrow splitting on the bow string. The Prophet was not an ordinary medicine man but a moral reformer, making prophecies on many subjects, being his strongest point. He had many disciples who believed in him but there were also many Doubting Thomas's. He met with a band of surveyors at Greenville and one of them in an argument attempted to belittle his pretensions by asking him if he had any foreknowledge of the great coming eclipse which was to take place at a certain time, giving the day and hour. The Prophet told him that of course he did but refused to talk further with the surveyor. After the surveyor had gone he sent his messenger to the Indians in all the surrounding country and invited them to come and see him at the time when the eclipse of the sun was due. When the time came there was an immense concourse of Indians to hear the wily savage tell about the heavenly visions which he had seen and the revelation of things which were to be. He kept up the harangue until just before the time the eclipse was to come when he said there were some who were unbelievers in his teaching
and he had called them together to convince them that he had Divine power to reveal things that were unknown to them. He said that he intended to ask the Great Father to put his hand before the sun and make the earth dark. When the eclipse commenced to come on the Prophet went into a trance and called on the Great Father saying there was those who refused to believe his teachings and to convince them that he was not an impostor, he asked the Great Father to put his hand over the sun. When it began to get dark there was great excitement among the Indians and when the eclipse became total they became wild and implored the Great Father to take his hand from over the sun and restore them to his favor. The Prophet called aloud asking that brightness might be restored. Tecumseh and the Prophet made all that was possible out of this incident. lit was told far and near that the Prophet was the greatest of all Medicine men that he could heal the sick, destroy witches and have the Great Father darken the sun. Sometime in 1808 the Prophet located a town at the junction of the Tippecanoe river with the Wabash, about one .hundred and fifty miles up stream from Vincennes. This town contained several hundred of the Prophet's followers who claimed to be tillers of the soil and total abstains from the use of whiskey.
Tecumseh in every way was far above his brother. He was a brave, far-seeing, eloquent man and rose to a high position equal to Pontiac in the northwestern United States, The policy of the United States government had for some years been to extinguish by treaties the claim the Indians had to land lying in Indiana Territory. Those made by the long and tedious negations brought the Indians a great variety of articles that were of great value to them.
In conformity with instructions of the President, James Madison, Governor Harrison at Ft. Wayne. September 30, 1809, concluded a treaty with the head men and chiefs of the Delaware's, Pottawattamies, Miamis, Eel River, Kickapoos and Wea Indians, by which in consideration of eight thousand and two hundred dollars paid down and annuities amounting in aggregate to two thousand, three hundred and fifty dollars, he obtained the cession of nearly three million acres of land extending up the Wabash beyond Terre Haute, below the mouth of Raccoon creek, including the middle waters of the White rivers.
Neither Tecumseh, the Prophet nor any of the other Indians who had gathered around their standard, owned or had any claim ti the land which had been ceded to the United States, yet they denounced the Indians, who owned the land, for selling it, threatened them with death and did kill several of the parties to the treaty, declaring that the treaty was void unless all the tribes should agree to it, and that the land did not belong to any one tribe but to all of them jointly, Tecumseh used this argument in his attempts to form a confederation of all the Indians (which, without doubt was intended to become a great military organization.) In this he was encouraged by the British at Malden who were then preparing a way to have all the Indians for allies in the coming war which was certain to occur between Great Britain and the United States. Tecumseh knew that if the land which had been ceded was open for settlement, by the whites, the game would be destroyed and the Indians compelled to move to more distant hunting grounds. Tecumseh's determined and threatening opposition to the treaties brought all the trouble on between Harrison and the Indians.
In obedience to the conditions of the Ft. Wayne treaty, made September 30, 1809. the annuity was to be paid annually. In the spring of 1810, the Indians in the Prophets town refused to receive the annuity salt sent them in compliance with that treaty, insulting the men who had brought the salt, calling them American dogs. This, with many other hostile demonstrations, caused Governor Harrison to send several messages to Tecumseh and the Prophet. The Governor understood that there was danger of an outbreak and made every effort to thwart it. Tecumseh sent word by one of the Governor's messengers that he intended to visit him and in August arrived in the vicinity of Vincennes with four hundred warriors fully armed. They went into camp near the town and there was much uneasiness felt at so many Indians being in such close proximity. The Governor managed the affairs so as to prevent a collision between the two races but soon after the close of this conference a small detachment of United States troops under the command of Captain Cross was ordered from Newport. Kentucky, to Vincennes. These troops, together with three companies of Indiana Militia Infantry
and a company of Dragoons constituted such a
force that those living in the neighborhood of Vincennes would not
be in any danger from an Indian outbreak. The Prophet and his
adherents were holding secret conferences with the British from
their stations on Lake Erie and at Malden.
During the winter of 1810-11, there were no serious outbreaks but there were many small raids by the Indians and counter raids by the white settlers. General William Clark, writing to the war department from St. Louis, on July 3, 1811, made the following report All information received from the Indian country confirms the rooted enmity of the Prophet to the United States and his determination to commence hostilities as soon as he thinks himself sufficiently strong. His party is increasing and from the insolence he and his party have lately manifested and the violence which has lately been committed by his neighbors, the Pottawattamies on our frontiers. I am inclined to believe that the crisis is fast approaching)
Governor Harrison sent a half breed Piankashaw Indian, whom he regarded as thoroughly reliable to the Prophet's town, where he (the Indian) had a brother. On his return he reported that the Prophet was very bitter toward the Americans and said that they had to abandon the Wabash lands ceded by the Ft. Wayne treaty or they would kill them or drive them out of the country. This spy reported that Winamac, a Pottawattamie Chief, was the right hand man of the Prophet and that he was very bitter in his denunciations of the white people. From another source the Governor learned that all the Wabash Indians were on a visit to the Indian agent at Malden; that this agent had given all the Indians presents and that he had never known of one fourth .of as many presents being given at any one time before. The same informant examined the share of one warrior and
found that he had a fine rifle, twenty five
pounds of powder, fifty pounds of lead, three blankets, three
.strouds of cloth, ten shirts, and many other articles. From
another source he learned that every Indian had been given a good
rifle and an abundance of ammunition.
In July, 1811, Governor Harrison wrote the war department that the best means of preventing war would be to move a considerable force up the Wabash and disperse the bandits the Prophet had collected around him. During the summer of 1811, the war department received many letters from all over the settled portions of the Northwest Territory, telling of the operations of the British in urging the Indians on to hostilities. In June 1811, Governor Harrison sent Captain Walter Wilson to the Prophet's town with the following letter, addressed
to Tecumseh and the Prophet:
Brothers, listen to me, I speak to you about. matters of importance, both to the white people. and to yourselves. Open your ears, therefore, and attend to what I say. Brothers, this is the third ear that all the white people in the country have. been alarmed at your proceedings. You threaten us with war; you invite all tribes to the north and west of you to join against us. Brothers your warriors who have lately been here deny this but I have received information that you intend to murder me and then commence a war upon our people. I have also received the speech you sent to the Pottawattamies and others, to join you for that purpose, but if I had no other evidence of your hostility to us your seizing the salt I recently sent up the Wabash, is sufficient. Brothers our citizens are alarmed and my warriors are preparing themselves, not to strike you, but to defend themselves and their women and children. You shall not surprise. us as you expect to do. You are about to undertake a very rash act. As a friend, I advise you to consider well of it. A little reflection may save a great deal of trouble and prevent much mischief. It is not yet too late. Brothers what can be the inducement for you to undertake an enterprise when there is so little probability of success? Do you really think the handful of men you have about you are able to contend with the seventeen fires or even that (the whole of) all the tribes united could contend against the Kentucky fire alone? Brothers, I am myself of the Long Knife fire. As soon as they hear my voice, you will see them pouring forth their swarms of hunting shirt men as numerous as the mosquitoes on the shores of the Wabash. Brothers take care of their stings.
Brothers it is not our wish to hurt you. If it were we certainly have the power to do it. Look at the number of our warriors to the east of you, above and below the great Miami; to the south, on both sides of the Ohio and below you also. You are brave men, but what could you do against such a multitude? We wish you to live in peace and happiness.
Brothers the citizens of this country are alarmed. They must be satisfied that you have no design to do them mischief or they will not lay aside their arms. You have also insulted the Government by seizing the salt that was intended for other tribes. Satisfaction must be given for this also. Brothers you talk of coming to see me attended by all your young men. This must not be. if your intentions are good you have no need to bring more than a few of your young men with you. I must be plain with you. I will not suffer you to come into our settlement with such a force.
Brothers if you wish to satisfy us that your intentions are good, follow the advice I have given you before, that is, that one or both of you should visit the President of the United States and lay your grievance before him. He will treat you well, listen to what you say and if you can show him. that you have been injured you will receive justIce. if you will follow my advice in this respect it will convince the citizens of this country and myself that you have no design to attack them.
Brothers with respect to the land which was. purchased last fall, I can enter into no negotiation with you on that subject, the affair is in the hands of the President. if you wish to go and see him I will supply you with the means. Brothers - the person who delivers you this is one of my war officers. He is a man in whom I have entire confidence. What he says to you, although it may not be contained in this paper, you may believe comes from me. My friend, Tecumseh the bearer, is a good and a brave warrior. I hope you will treat him well. You are yourself a warrior and all such should have an esteem for each other.
Captain Wilson, who bore this message to the Prophet's town, was received in a friendly manner at that place and was treated with particular friendship by Tecumseh, who sent by him the following reply to the letter by the Governor Brother, I give you a few words until I will be with you myself, Tecumseh. Brother at Vincennes, I wish you to listen to me while I send you a few words and I hope they will ease your heart. I know you look on your young men and pour young women and children with pity to see them so much alarmed. Brother, I wish you to examine what you have from me. I hope it will be a satisfaction to you if your intentions are like mine, to wash away all these bad stories that have been circulated. I will be with you myself in eighteen days from this day. Brother, we cannot say what will become of us, as the Great Spirit has the management of us at his will. I may be there before the time and may not be there until the day. I hope that when we come together all these bad tales will be settled. By this, I hope your young men, women and children will be easy. I wish you, Brother, to let them know when I come to Vincennes and see you all will be settled in peace and happiness. Brother, these are only a few words to let you know that I will be with you myself and when I am with you, I can inform you better, Brother, if I find I can be with you in less time than eighteen days, I will send one of my young men before me to let you know what time I will be with you.
On the twenty seventh of July, 1811, Tecumseh arrived at Vincennes. The number of his attendants was about three hundred, of whom twenty or thirty were women and children. When he was met about twenty miles from Vincennes by Captain Wilson, who delivered a message from the Governor, expressing disapprobation of the large number of Indians approaching the town, Tecumseh, after some hesitation, said he had with him but twenty four men, and the rest had come of their own accord; but that everything should be sealed to the satisfaction of the Governor on his arrival at Vincennes. The approach of this large force of Indians created considerable alarm among the inhabitants of Vincennes and on the day of the arrival of Tecumseh, Governor Harrison, in adopting various precautionary measures, reviewed the militia of the county, composed of about seven hundred and fifty men, who were well armed and he stationed two companies of militia infantry and a detachment of dragoons on the borders of be town. In the course of the interview which took place at this time between the Governor and Tecumseh, the latter declared that it was not his intention to make war against the United States; that he would send messengers among the Indians-to prevent murders and depredations on the white settlers; that the Indians as well as the whites, who had committed murder, ought to be forgiven; that he had set the whites an example of forgiveness which they ought to follow; that it was his wish to establish a union among all the Indian tribes; that the Northern tribes were united; That he was going to visit the southern Indians and that he would return to the Prophet's town. He said that he would on his return from the south. the next spring, visit the President of the United Stares and settle all causes of difficulty between the Indians and himself He said further that he hoped that no attempt would be made to make settlement on the lands which had been sold to the United States at the treaty of Ft. Wayne because the Indians wanted to keep those lands for hunting grounds. Soon after the conference with Governor Harrison had closed, Tecumseh, attended by twenty Indians, suddenly took his departure from Vincennes, down the Wabash river on his way to the Southern Indians for the purpose of disseminating his views for a great Indian confederation among the Creeks, the Chickasaws, and Choctaw Indians.
After Tecumseh departed, the remainder of his followers returned to the Prophets s town deeply impressed with the martial display of military strength of Harrison s command. It cannot be told with a certainty of its correctness, what could have induced Tecumseh to go so far from home for so long a time. He certainly had more faith in Governor Harrison s pacific intentions than Harrison was warranted in having in him or the Prophet or he would not have made such a fatal mistake.
The Prophet kept up his incantations, charms and jugglery, thus increasing his importance and his influence with his deluded followers. There was a constant increase in his numbers. lit was said by spies of friendly Indians, which the whites had that by the first of September, 1811, the Prophet's town had more than twenty five hundred Indians in it.
The restless young men among his bands, bent on plunder, crossed into the white settlement in many places, killing the settlers or running off their stock. This became so frequent that the whole territory was in a constant state of excitement.
On the thirty first of July, 1811, a public meeting of citizens was held at Vincennes for the purpose of declaring by resolution the danger to which the white inhabitants of the Territory of Indiana were exposed on account of the hostilities of the Indians at the Prophet's town and for requesting the President of the United States to issue orders for the forcible dispersion of the hostile Indians settled at that place. By resolution the following committee was selected to make this request Samuel T. Scott, Alexander Devin, Luke Decker, Ephriam Jordon, Daniel McClure, Walter Wilson and Francis Vigo. In a letter dated August third, 1811, addressed to the President of the United States, this committee, after making the request above referred to, said:
In this part of the country, we have not as yet lost any of our fellow citizens by the Indians, but depredations upon the property of those who live upon the frontiers and insults to the families that are left unprotected, almost daily occur.
The President as early as the seventeenth day of July had instructed the Secretary of War to authorize Governor Harrison to call out the militia of the Territory and to attack the Prophet and his followers in case circumstances should occur which might render such a course necessary or expedient. The Governor was further authorized at his discretion, to call into his services the Fourth Regiment of United States Infantry, under the command of Colonel John P. Boyd.
The official instructions which were sent from the Secretary of War to Governor Harrison at this period were strongly in favor of preserving pacific relations with the .North western Indian tribes by the use of all means consistent with the protection of the citizens of the Territory and the maintenance of the rights of the general government of the United States.
Governor Harrison, having determined to erect a new fort. on the Wabash river, and to break up the assemblage of hostile Indians at the Prophet's town, ordered Colonel Boyd s regiment of infantry to move from the falls of the Ohio to Vincennes. at which place the regiment of regulars was to be re-inforced by the militia of the Territory.
Upon receiving from the Secretary of War the instructions which have been mentioned, the governor sent by special messengers, written speeches, addressed to the several Indian tribes of the Indiana Territory, requesting these tribes to fulfill the conditions of their treaties with the United States, to avoid all acts of hostility toward the white settlers and to make an absolute disavowal of union or connection with the Shawnee Prophet.
About the twenty fifth of September, 1811, when the military expedition that had been organized by Governor Harrison was nearly ready to move on its way toward the Prophet's town, a deputation of Indians from that town arrived at Vincennes. These deputies made strong professions of peace and declared that the Indians would comply with the demands of the Governor. A few days after these messengers arrived at Vincennes, six horses were stolen from white people by small bands of Indians. Three men following the trail of the horses to an Indian camp reported that after they had obtained possession the horses they were pursued by the Indians, fired upon and compelled to abandon their horses and run for their lives.
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