We next hear of Logan, in connection with the memorable siege of fort Wayne. This post, which was erected in 1794, stood at the junction of the St. Joseph's and St. Mary's rivers, and, although not within the limits of Ohio, its preservation was all-important to the peace and safety of our north-western frontier. Having been built of wood, it was, in 1812, a pile of combustible matter. Immediately after the surrender of general Hull, in August, 1812, the Indians, to the number of four or five hundred, closely invested this place. The garrison at that time, including every description of persons, amounted to less than one hundred persons, of whom not more than sixty or seventy were capable of performing military duty. These were commanded by captain Rhea, an officer who, from several causes, was but ill qualified for the Station. His lieutenants were Philip Ostrander and Daniel Curtis, both of whom, throughout the siege, discharged their duty in a gallant manner.
At the time of the investment of this place, there was a considerable body of Ohio troops in the neighborhood of Piqua. These had been ordered out by governor Meigs, for the relief of Detroit; but, upon hearing of the surrender of that place, their course was directed towards fort Wayne. They were, however, almost in a state of disorganization, and manifested but little ardor in entering upon this new duty. Perceiving this state of things, and aware that the fort was in imminent danger, a young man, now major William Oliver, of Cincinnati, determined upon making an effort to reach the garrison. Young Oliver was a resident of fort Wayne, and was on his return from a visit to Cincinnati when, at Piqua, he learned that the place was besieged. He immediately joined a rifle company of the Ohio militia; but seeing the tardy movements of the troops, in advancing to the relief of the fort, he resolved in the first place to return with all possible expedition, to Cincinnati, for the purpose of inducing colonel Wells, of the 17th U.S. infantry, to march his regiment to the relief of the fort; and, in the second place, to make an effort to reach it in person, that the garrison might be encouraged to hold out until reinforcements should arrive. When Oliver arrived in Cincinnati, he found that general Harrison had just crossed the Ohio, from Kentucky, and assumed the command of the troops composing the north-western army. He called upon the general, stated the condition of things on the frontier, and avowed his intention of passing into the fort in advance of the reinforcements. The general informed him that the troops then at Cincinnati would be put in motion that day, and marched with all practicable expedition to the invested point. This was on the 27th of August; on the 31st Oliver overtook the Ohio militia at the St. Mary's river. Here he learned that Adrian and Shane, two experienced scouts, had been sent in the direction of fort Wayne, and had returned with information that the hostile Indians were in great force on the route to that place. On the next day, general Thomas Worthington, of Chillicothe, who was then on the frontier as Indian commissioner, seeing the great importance of communicating with the garrison, determined to unite with Oliver in the attempt to reach it. These two enterprising individuals induced sixty-eight of the Ohio troops and sixteen Shawanoe Indians, among whom was Logan, to accompany them. They marched eighteen miles that day, and camped for the night at Shane's crossing.
Next morning they again moved forward, but in the course of the day, some thirty-six of their party abandoned the hazardous enterprise, and returned to the main army. The remainder pursued their route, and encamped that evening within twenty-four miles of fort Wayne. As the party was not strong enough in its present condition to encounter the besieging enemy, general Worthington was very reluctantly induced to remain at this point, while Oliver, with Logan, captain Johnny and Brighthorn, should make an effort to reach the fort. Being well armed and mounted, they started at daybreak next morning upon this daring adventure. Proceeding with great caution, they came within five miles of the fort, before they observed any fresh Indian signs. At this point the keen eye of Logan discovered the cunning strategy of the enemy: for the purpose of concealing their bodies, they had dug holes on either side of the road, alternately, at such distances as to secure them from their own fire: these were intended for night watching, in order to cut off all communication with the fort. Here the party deemed it advisable to leave the main road, and strike across the country to the Maumee river, which was reached in safety at a point one and a half miles below the fort. Having tied their horses in a thicket, the party proceeded cautiously on foot, to ascertain whether our troops or the Indians were in possession of the fort. Having satisfied themselves on this point, they returned, remounted their horses, and taking the main road, moved rapidly to the fort. Upon reaching the gate of the esplanade, they found it locked, and were thus compelled to pass down the river bank, and then ascend it at the northern gate. They were favored in doing so by the withdrawal of the hostile Indians from this point, in carrying out a plan, then on the point of consummation, for taking the fort by an ingenious stratagem. For several days previous to this time, the hostile chiefs under a flag of truce, had been holding intercourse with the garrison; and had, it is supposed, discovered the unsoldier-like condition of the commander. They had accordingly arranged their warriors in a semicircle, on the west and south sides of the fort, and at no great distance from it. Five of the chiefs, under pretence of treating with the officers of the garrison, were to pass into the fort, and when in council were to assassinate the subaltern officers with pistols and knives, concealed under their blankets; and then to seize captain Rhea, who, in his trepidation, and under a promise of personal safety, would, they anticipated, order the gates of the fort to be thrown open for the admission of the besiegers. The plan, thus arranged, was in the act of being carried into execution at the moment when Oliver and his companions reached the gate. In speaking of the opportune approach of this party, lieutenant Curtis says, "the safe arrival of Mr. Oliver at that particular juncture, may justly be considered most miraculous. One hour sooner or one later, would no doubt have been inevitable destruction both to himself and escort: the parties of Indians who had been detached to guard the roads and passes in different directions, having all at that moment been called in, to aid in carrying the fort. It is generally believed by those acquainted with the circumstances, that not one hour, for eight days and nights preceding or following the hour in which Mr. Oliver arrived, would have afforded an opportunity of any probable safety." Winnemac, Five Medals, and three other hostile chiefs, bearing the flag under which they were to gain admittance to the fort to carry out their treacherous intentions, were surprised by suddenly meeting at the gate, Oliver and his companions. Coming from different directions and screened by the angles of the fort, the parties were not visible to each other until both were near the gate. On meeting, they shook hands, but it was apparent that Winnemac was greatly disconcerted; he immediately wheeled and returned to his camp, satisfied that this accession of strength to the garrison—the forerunner, in all probability, of a much larger force—had defeated his scheme. The others of his party entered the fort, and remained some little time, during which they were given to understand that Logan and his two Indian companions were to remain with the garrison. Oliver, in the mean time, having written a hasty letter, describing the condition of the fort, to general Worthington; and the Indians being equipped with new rifles from the public stores, they prepared to leave the fort without delay. Fortunately their movements were not observed by the enemy, until they had actually started from the garrison gate. They now put spurs to their horses and dashed off at full speed. The hostile Indians were instantly in motion to intercept them; the race was a severe and perilous one, but Logan and his companions cleared the enemy's line in safety, and this accomplished, his loud shout of triumph rose high in the air, and fell like music upon the ears of the beleaguered garrison. The party reached general Worthington's camp early the next morning, and delivered Oliver's letter to him. Notwithstanding the perilous condition of the garrison, however, the Ohio troops delayed moving for its relief, until they were overtaken by general Harrison, who, with his reinforcements, was unable to reach the fort until the twelfth. In the mean time the Indians kept up an incessant firing, day and night, upon the fort, killing on one occasion, two of the garrison who passed out of the gate on police duty. Several times the buildings of the fort were set on fire by the burning arrows which were shot upon them, but by the vigilance of the garrison in extinguishing the flames, a general conflagration was prevented. Some days after the arrival of Oliver, the Indians appeared to be making preparations for some uncommon movement, and one afternoon, just before night-fall, succeeded in getting possession of one of the trading houses standing near the fort. From this point they demanded a surrender of the garrison, under a promise of protection; and with a threat of extermination if they were compelled to carry the fort by storm: they alleged, further, that they had just been reinforced by a large number of warriors, some pieces of British cannon, and artillerists to man them. Their demand being promptly refused, they immediately closed in upon the fort, yelling hideously, firing their guns and also a couple of cannon. Every man in the fort capable of doing duty, now stood at his post, having several stands of loaded arms by his side. They were directed by the acting lieutenant, Curtis,[A] not to fire until the Indians had approached within twenty-five paces of the fort: the fire was at length opened upon the entire Indian lines, and in a manner so destructive, that in twenty minutes the enemy retreated with the loss of eighteen of their warriors, killed. It was discovered, subsequently, that the cannon used on this occasion by the Indians, had been made of wood by some British traders who were with them; one of the pieces burst upon the first, and the other on the second, fire.
[Footnote A: Captain Rhea, by common consent, was suspended for incapacity, and lieutenant Ostrander was on the sick list.]
The day before general Harrison reached this place, the Indians concentrated at a swamp, five miles south of the fort, for the purpose of giving him battle; but after reconnoitering his force, and finding it too strong for them, they fell back, passing by the fort in great disorder, in the hope, it is supposed, of drawing out the garrison, under a belief that they, (the Indians,) had been defeated by general Harrison's army. To promote this idea, they had, while lying at the swamp, kindled extensive fires, that the rising volume of smoke might be mistaken for that which usually overhangs the field of battle. This device proving unavailing, the Indians, after a vigorous investment, running through more than twenty days, withdrew forever from the siege of fort Wayne.
The enterprise of young Oliver, just related, reflected the highest credit on his bravery and patriotism: being wholly voluntary on his part, the moral heroism of the act was only surpassed by its fortunate results; as it prevented, in all probability, the fall of an important frontier post, and saved its garrison from the tomahawk and scalping knife. So hazardous was the effort deemed, indeed, that experienced frontier's-men endeavored to dissuade him from the undertaking; and even Logan considered it one of great peril; but when once resolved upon, he gallantly incurred the hazard of the deed, and showed himself worthy of the trust reposed in him.
In November of this year, general Harrison directed Logan to take a small party of his tribe, and reconnoitre the country in the direction of the Rapids of the Maumee. When near this point, they were met by a body of the enemy, superior to their own in number, and compelled to retreat. Logan, captain Johnny and Bright-horn, who composed the party, effected their escape, to the left wing of the army, then under the command of general Winchester, who was duly informed of the circumstances of their adventure. An officer of the Kentucky troops, general P., the second in command, without the slightest ground for such a charge, accused Logan of infidelity to our cause, and of giving intelligence to the enemy. Indignant at this foul accusation, the noble chief at once resolved to meet it in a manner that would leave no doubt as to his faithfulness to the United States. He called on his friend Oliver, and having told him of the imputation that had been cast upon his reputation, said that he would start from the camp next morning, and either leave his body bleaching in the woods, or return with such trophies from the enemy, as would relieve his character from the suspicion that had been wantonly cast upon it by an American officer.
Accordingly, on the morning of the 22d he started down the Maumee, attended by his two faithful companions, captain Johnny and Bright-horn. About noon, having stopped for the purpose of taking rest, they were suddenly surprised by a party of seven of the enemy, amongst whom were young Elliott, a half-breed, holding a commission in the British service, and the celebrated Potawatamie chief, Winnemac. Logan made no resistance, but with great presence of mind, extending his hand to Winnemac, who was an old acquaintance, proceeded to inform him, that he and his two companions, tired of the American service, were just leaving general Winchester's army, for the purpose of joining the British. Winnemac, being familiar with Indian strategy, was not satisfied with this declaration, but proceeded to disarm Logan and his comrades, and placing his party around them, so as to prevent their escape, started for the British camp at the foot of the Rapids. In the course of the afternoon, Logan's address was such as to inspire confidence in his sincerity, and induce Winnemac to restore to him and his companions their arms. Logan now formed the plan of attacking his captors on the first favorable opportunity; and whilst marching along, succeeded in communicating the substance of it to captain Johnny and Bright-horn. Their guns being already loaded, they had little further preparation to make, than to put bullets into their mouths, to facilitate the reloading of their arms. In carrying on this process, captain Johnny, as he afterwards related, fearing that the man marching by his side had observed the operation, adroitly did away the impression by remarking, "me chaw heap tobac."
The evening being now at hand, the British Indians determined to encamp on the bank of Turkeyfoot creek, about twenty miles from fort Winchester. Confiding in the idea that Logan had really deserted the American service, a part of his captors rambled around the place of their encampment, in search of blackhaws. They were no sooner out of sight, than Logan gave the signal of attack upon those who remained behind; they fired and two of the enemy fell dead—the third, being only wounded, required a second shot to despatch him; and in the mean time, the remainder of the party, who were near by, returned the fire, and all of them "treed." There being four of the enemy, and only three of Logan's party, the latter could not watch all the movements of their antagonists. Thus circumstanced, and during an active fight, the fourth man of the enemy passed round until Logan was uncovered by his tree, and shot him through the body. By this time Logan's party had wounded two of the surviving four, which caused them to fall back. Taking advantage of this state of things, captain Johnny mounted Logan—now suffering the pain of a mortal wound—and Bright-horn—also wounded—on two of the enemy's horses, and started them for Winchester's camp, which they reached about midnight. Captain Johnny, having already secured the scalp of Winnemac, followed immediately on foot, and gained the same point early on the following morning. It was subsequently ascertained that the two Indians of the British party, who were last wounded, died of their wounds, making in all five out of the seven, who were slain by Logan and his companions.
When the news of this gallant affair had spread through the camp, and especially after it was known that Logan was mortally wounded, it created a deep and mournful sensation. No one, it is believed, more deeply regretted the fatal catastrophe, than the author of the charge upon Logan's integrity, which had led to this unhappy result.
Logan's popularity was very great; indeed he was almost universally esteemed in the army, for his fidelity to our cause, his unquestioned bravery, and the nobleness of his nature. He lived two or three days after reaching the camp, but in extreme bodily agony; he was buried by the officers of the army, at fort Winchester, with the honors of war. Previous to his death, he related the particulars of this fatal enterprise to his friend Oliver, declaring to him that he prized his honor more than life; and, having now vindicated his reputation from the imputation cast upon it, he died satisfied. In the course of this interview, and while writhing with pain, he was observed to smile; upon being questioned as to the cause, he replied, that when he recalled to his mind the manner in which captain Johnny took off the scalp of Winnemac, while at the same time dexterously watching the movements of the enemy, he could not refrain from laughing—an incident in savage life, which shows the "ruling passion strong in death." It would perhaps be difficult in the history of savage warfare, to point out an enterprise the execution of which reflects higher credit upon the address and daring conduct of its authors, than this does upon Logan and his two companions. Indeed a spirit even less indomitable, a sense of honor less acute, and a patriotic devotion to a good cause less active, than were manifested by this gallant chieftain of the woods, might, under other circumstances, have well conferred immortality upon his name.
The Shawanoe nation has produced a number of distinguished individuals, besides those who have been noticed in this brief sketch of that people. The plan of our work does not permit a more extended enumeration of them. When a full and faithful history of this tribe shall be written, it will be found, we think, that no tribe of aborigines on this continent, has given birth to so many men, remarkable for their talents, energy of character, and military prowess, as the Shawanoe.
Under a treaty held at the rapids of the Miami of the lakes, in 1817, by Duncan McArthur and Lewis Cass, commissioners on the part of the United States, for extinguishing Indian titles to lands in Ohio, the Shawanoes ceded to the government the principal portion of their lands within the limits of this state. After this period they resided principally on the reserve made by them at and around Wapakanotta, on the Auglaize river. Here the greater part of them remained, until within a few years past, when, yielding to the pressing appeals of the government, they sold their reserved lands to the United States, and removed west of the Mississippi.
For a number of years prior to their final departure from Ohio, the society of Friends, with their characteristic philanthropy towards the Indians, maintained a mission at Wapakanotta, for the purpose of giving instruction to the Shawanoe children, and inducing the adults to turn their attention to agricultural pursuits. Notwithstanding the wandering and warlike character of this tribe, such was the success attending this effort of active benevolence, that the Friends composing the Yearly Meetings of Baltimore, Ohio and Indiana, still continue a similar agency among the Shawanoes, although they are now the occupants of the territory lying beyond the distant Arkansas.
Whether the new position west of the Mississippi, in which the Indian tribes have been placed, will tend to promote their civilization, arrest their deterioration in morals, or their decline in numbers, we think extremely problematical. Should such, however, be the happy result, it may be anticipated that the tribe which has produced a Logan, a Cornstalk and a Tecumseh, will be among the first to rise above the moral degradation in which it is shrouded, and foremost to exhibit the renovating influences of Christian civilization.
THE LIFE OF TECUMSEH.
Parentage of Tecumseh—his sister Tecumapease—his brothers Cheeseekau, Sauweeseekau, Nehasseemo, Tenskwautawa or the Prophet, and Kumskaukau.
There are not wanting authorities for the assertion that both the Anglo-Saxon and Creek blood ran in the veins of TECUMSEH.[A] It has been stated that his paternal grandfather was a white man, and that his mother was a Creek. The better opinion, however, seems to be, that he was wholly a Shawanoe. On this point we have the concurrent authority of John Johnston, late Indian agent at Piqua; and of Stephen Ruddell, formerly of Kentucky, who for near twenty years was a prisoner among the Shawanoes. They both possessed ample opportunities for ascertaining the fact, and unite in asserting that Puckeshinwa, the father of Tecumseh, was a member of the Kiscopoke, and Methoataske, the mother, of the Turtle tribe of the Shawanoe nation.
[Footnote A: The Indian orthography of this name is Tecumtha, but the public have been so long under a different impression, that no attempt has been made in this work to restore the original reading.]
The parents of Tecumseh removed from Florida to the north side of the Ohio, about the middle of the eighteenth century. The father rose to the rank of a chief, and fell in the celebrated battle of the Kanawha, in 1774, leaving six sons and one daughter. Of these, one or two were born at the south, the others within what now constitutes the state of Ohio. They will be briefly noticed in the order of their birth.
Cheeseekau, the eldest, is represented to have taken great pains with his brother Tecumseh, laboring not only to make him a distinguished warrior, but to instil into his mind a love of truth, and a contempt for every thing mean and sordid. Cheeseekau fought by the side of his father in the battle of Kanawha; and, some years afterwards, led a small band of Shawanoes on a predatory expedition to the south, Tecumseh being one of the party. While there, they joined some Cherokees, in an attack upon a fort, garrisoned by white men. A day or two before the attack, Cheeseekau made a speech to his followers, and predicted that at such an hour, on a certain morning, they would reach the fort, and that he should be shot in the forehead and killed; but that the fort would be taken, if the party persevered in the assault, which he urged them to do. An effort was made by his followers to induce him to turn back, but he refused. The attack took place at the time predicted, and Cheeseekau fell. His last words expressed the joy he felt at dying in battle; he did not wish, he said, to be buried at home, like an old woman, but preferred that the fowls of the air should pick his bones. The fall of their leader created a panic among the assaulting party, and they suddenly retreated.[A]
[Footnote A: Stephen Ruddell's manuscript narrative.]
Tecumapease, known also by the name of Menewaulakoosee, was a sister worthy of her distinguished brother Tecumseh, with whom, up to the period of his death, she was a great favorite. Sensible, kind hearted, and uniformly exemplary in her conduct, she obtained and exercised a remarkable degree of influence over the females of her tribe. She was united in marriage to a brave, called Wasegoboah, (stand firm,) who fell in the battle of the Thames, fighting courageously by the side of his brother-in-law, Tecumseh. In 1814, Tecumapease visited Quebec, in company with some other members of her tribe, from whence, after the close of the war between this country and England, she returned to the neighborhood of Detroit, where, not long afterwards, she died. Tecumseh is represented to have entertained for her a warm affection, and to have treated her, uniformly, with respect. He was in the habit of making her many valuable presents.
Sauwaseekau, is supposed to have been born while his parents were removing from the south to the Ohio. Concerning him few particulars have been preserved. He stood well as a warrior, and was killed in battle during Wayne's campaign in 1794.
The fourth child, TECUMSEH, or the Shooting Star, is the subject of this biography.
Of the fifth, Nehaseemo, no information has been obtained.
The two remaining children, Laulewasikaw, called after he became a prophet Tenskwautawa, and Kumskaukau, were twins. Such is understood to have been the statement of the former, in giving the family pedigree. Other authorities[A] say that Tecumseh, Laulewasikaw, and Kumskaukau were all three born at the same time. The last named lived to be an old man, and died without distinction.
[Footnote A: John Johnston and Anthony Shane.]
Laulewasikaw, as will appear in the course of this work, lived to attain an extraordinary degree of notoriety. He became, under the influence of his brother Tecumseh, a powerful agent in arousing the superstitious feelings of the north-western Indians, in that memorable period of their history, between the year 1805, and the battle of Tippecanoe, in 1811, which dissolved, in a great measure, the charm by which he had successfully played upon their passions and excited them to action. The character and prophetical career of this individual will necessarily be fully displayed in the progress of this work. There is, however, one trait of his character which may be appropriately mentioned in this place—his disposition to boast, not only of his own standing and importance, but also of the rank and respectability of the family to which he belonged. As an instance of this peculiarity, and of his tact in telling a plausible tale, the following narration may be cited. It is an ingenious mixture of truth and fiction; and was written down by the gentleman to whom it was related by Laulewasikaw. The language is that of the individual to whom the narrative was made.
"His paternal grandfather, (according to his statement of the family pedigree) was a Creek, who, at a period which is not defined in the manuscript before us, went to one of the southern cities, either Savannah or Charleston, to hold a council with the English governor, whose daughter was present at some of the interviews. This young lady had conceived a violent admiration for the Indian character; and, having determined to bestow herself upon some 'warlike lord' of the forest, she took this occasion to communicate her partiality to her father. The next morning, in the council, the governor enquired of the Indians which of them was the most expert hunter; and the grandfather of Tecumseh, then a young and handsome man, who sat modestly in a retired part of the room, was pointed out to him. When the council broke up for the day, the governor asked his daughter if she was really so partial to the Indians, as to prefer selecting a husband from them, and finding that she persisted in this singular predilection, he directed her attention to the young Creek warrior, for whom, at first sight, she avowed a decided attachment. On the following morning the governor announced to the Creeks that his daughter was disposed to marry one of their number; and, having pointed out the individual, added, that his own consent would be given. The chiefs at first very naturally doubted whether the governor was in earnest; but upon assuring them that he was sincere, they advised the young man to embrace the lady and her offer. He was not so ungallant as to refuse; and having consented to the fortune that was thus buckled on him, was immediately taken to another apartment, where he was disrobed of his Indian costume by a train of black servants, washed, and clad in a new suit, and the marriage ceremony was immediately performed.
"At the close of the council the Creeks returned home, but the young hunter remained with his wife. He amused himself in hunting, in which he was very successful, and was accustomed to take a couple of black servants with him, who seldom failed to bring in large quantities of game. He lived among the whites until his wife had borne him two daughters and a son. Upon the birth of the latter, the governor went to see his grandson, and was so well pleased, that he called his friends together, and caused thirty guns to be fired. When the boy was seven or eight years old his father died, and the governor took charge of the child, who was often visited by the Creeks. At the age of ten or twelve, he was permitted to accompany the Indians to their nation, where he spent some time; and two years after, he again made a long visit to the Creeks, who then, with a few Shawanoes, lived on a river called Pauseekoalaakee, and began to adopt their dress and customs. They gave him an Indian name, Puckeshinwau, which means something that drops; and after learning their language, he became so much attached to the Indian life, that when the governor sent for him he refused to return."
Such is the pleasant and artful story, narrated with solemn gravity by Laulewasikaw, to emblazon the family pedigree by connecting it with the governor of one of the provinces: and here, for the present, we take our leave of the "Open Door."
The band of Shawanoes with whom Puckeshinwau and his family emigrated to the Ohio, established themselves, in the first place, in the valley of the Scioto, from whence they subsequently removed to the waters of Mad River, one of the tributaries of the Great Miami. After the death of Puckeshinwau, his wife Methoataaskee, returned to the south, where she died at an advanced age, among the Cherokees. She belonged to the Turtle tribe of the Shawanoes, and her name signifies, a turtle laying eggs in the sand. That she was a respectable woman, is the testimony of those who knew her personally: that she was naturally a superior one, may be fairly inferred from the character of at least a part of her children.
With this brief account of an aboriginal family, highly reputable in itself, but on which the name of Tecumseh has conferred no small degree of distinction, we now proceed to the immediate subject of this memoir.
Birth place of Tecumseh—destruction of the Piqua village—early habits of Tecumseh—his first battle—effort to abolish the burning of prisoners—visits the Cherokees in the south—engages in several battles—returns to Ohio in the autumn of 1790.
Some diversity of opinion has prevailed as to the birth place of Tecumseh. It is generally supposed, and indeed is stated by several historians to have been in the Scioto valley, near the place where Chillicothe now stands. Such, however, is not the fact. He was born in the valley of the Miamis, on the bank of Mad River, a few miles below Springfield, and within the limits of Clark county. Of this there is the most satisfactory evidence. In the year 1805, when the Indians were assembling at Greenville, as it was feared with some hostile intention against the frontiers, the governor of Ohio sent Duncan McArthur and Thomas Worthington to that place, to ascertain the object and disposition of these Indians. Tecumseh and three other chiefs agreed to return with these messengers to Chillicothe, then the seat of government, for the purpose of holding a "talk" with the governor. General McArthur, in a letter to the author of this work, under date of 19th November, 1821, says, "When on the way from Greenville to Chillicothe, Tecumseh pointed out to us the place where he was born. It was in an old Shawanoe town, on the north-west side of Mad River, about six miles below Springfield." This fact is corroborated by Stephen Ruddell, the early and intimate associate of Tecumseh, who states that he was "born in the neighborhood of 'old Chillicothe,' in the year 1768." The "old Chillicothe" here spoken of was a Shawanoe village, situated on Massie's creek, three miles north of where Xenia now stands, and about ten or twelve miles south of the village pointed out by Tecumseh, to general McArthur, as the spot of his nativity. This village was the ancient Piqua of the Shawanoes, and occupied the site on which a small town called West Boston has since been built. The principal part of Piqua stood upon a plain, rising fifteen or twenty feet above the river. On the south, between the village and Mad River, there was an extensive prairie—on the north-east some bold cliffs, terminating near the river—on the west and south-west, level timbered land; while on the opposite side of the stream, another prairie, of varying width, stretched back to the high grounds. The river sweeping by in a graceful bend—the precipitous rocky cliffs—the undulating hills with their towering trees—the prairies garnished with tall grass and brilliant flowers—combined to render the situation of Piqua both beautiful and picturesque.
At the period of its destruction, Piqua was quite populous. There was a rude log fort within its limits, surrounded by pickets. It was, however, sacked and burnt on the 8th of August, 1780, by an army of one thousand men from Kentucky, after a severe and well conducted battle with the Indians who inhabited it. All the improvements of the Indians, including more than two hundred acres of corn and other vegetables, then growing in their fields, were laid waste and destroyed. The town was never afterwards rebuilt by the Shawanoes. Its inhabitants removed to the Great Miami river, and erected another town which they called Piqua, after the one that had just been destroyed; and in defence of which they had fought with the skill and valor characteristic of their nation.[A]
[Footnote A: For this sketch of Piqua, the author is chiefly indebted to his venerable friend, Major James Galloway, of Xenia, Ohio.]
The birth of Tecumseh has been placed by some writers in the year 1771. Ruddell states that it occurred in 1768, three years earlier, and this, we think, is probably the true period. His early boyhood gave promise of the renown of his maturer years. After the death of his father, which occurred when he was in his sixth year, he was placed under the charge of his oldest brother, Cheeseekau, who taught him to hunt, led him to battle, and labored zealously to imbue his mind with a love for truth, generosity, and the practice of those cardinal Indian virtues, courage in battle and fortitude in suffering. From his boyhood, Tecumseh seems to have had a passion for war. His pastimes, like those of Napoleon, were generally in the sham-battle field. He was the leader of his companions in all their sports, and was accustomed to divide them into parties, one of which he always headed, for the purpose of fighting mimic battles, in which he usually distinguished himself by his activity, strength and skill.[A] His dexterity in the use of the bow and arrow exceeded that of all the other Indian boys of his tribe, by whom he was loved and respected, and over whom he exercised unbounded influence. He was generally surrounded by a set of companions who were ready to stand or fall by his side.[B] It is stated that the first battle in which he was engaged, occurred on Mad River, near where Dayton stands, between a party of Kentuckians, commanded by colonel Benjamin Logan, and some Shawanoes. At this time Tecumseh was very young, and joined the expedition under the care of his brother, who was wounded at the first fire. It is related by some Indian chiefs that Tecumseh, at the commencement of the action, became frightened and ran.[C] This may be true, but it is the only instance in which he was ever known to shrink from danger, or to loose that presence of mind for which he was ever afterwards remarkably distinguished.
[Footnote A: Stephen Ruddell's MS. account.]
[Footnote B: Anthony Shane.]
[Footnote C: A similar statement is made in regard to the first battle of the celebrated Red Jacket.]
The next action in which Tecumseh participated, and in which he manifested signal prowess, was an attack made by the Indians upon some flat boats, descending the Ohio, above Limestone, now Maysville. The year in which it occurred is not stated, but Tecumseh was not probably more than sixteen or seventeen years of age. The boats were captured, and all the persons belonging to them killed, except one, who was taken prisoner, and afterwards burnt. Tecumseh was a silent spectator of the scene, having never witnessed the burning of a prisoner before. After it was over, he expressed in strong terms, his abhorrence of the act, and it was finally concluded by the party that they would never burn any more prisoners;[A] and to this resolution, he himself, and the party also, it is believed, ever afterwards scrupulously adhered. It is not less creditable to the humanity than to the genius of Tecumseh, that he should have taken this noble stand, and by the force and eloquence of his appeal, have brought his companions to the same resolution. He was then but a boy, yet he had the independence to attack a cherished custom of his tribe, and the power of argument to convince them, against all their preconceived notions of right and the rules of warfare, that the custom should be abolished. That his effort to put a stop to this cruel and revolting rite, was not prompted by any temporary expediency, but was the result of a humane disposition, and a right sense of justice, is abundantly shown by his conduct towards prisoners in after life.
[Footnote A: Stephen Ruddell.]
The boats were owned by traders. The number of whites killed in the engagement has not been ascertained. In the attack upon them, Tecumseh not only behaved with great courage, but even left in the back ground some of the oldest and bravest warriors of the party. From this time his reputation as a brave, and his influence over other minds, rose rapidly among the tribe to which he belonged.
About the year 1787, Cheeseekau and Tecumseh, with a party of Kiscopokes, one of the tribes of the Shawanoe nation, moved westward on a hunting and predatory expedition. They made a stand for some months on the waters of the Mississinnaway, and then crossed over to the Mississippi, opposite the mouth of Apple creek, where they encamped and remained for eight or nine months. From thence they proceeded towards the Cherokee country. On their route, while opposite fort Massac, they engaged in a buffalo chase, during which Tecumseh was thrown from his horse, and had his thigh broken.[A] This accident detained them for some months at the place where it occurred. So soon as he had recovered, the party, headed by Cheeseekau, proceeded on their way to the country of the Cherokees, who were then at hostilities with the whites. With that fondness for adventure and love of war, which have ever marked the Shawanoe character, they immediately offered assistance to their brethren of the south, which being accepted, they joined in the contest.
[Footnote A: Shane thinks both thighs were broken, Ruddell says but one.]
The engagement in which they participated was an attack upon a fort, the name and position of which were not known to our informant. The Indians, it is well known are always superstitious, and from the fact of Cheeseekau, having foretold his death, its occurrence disheartened them, and in despite of the influence of Tecumseh and the Cherokee leaders, who rose above the superstition of their comrades, the attack was given up, and a sudden retreat followed.
Tecumseh, who had left the banks of the Miami in quest of adventures, and for the purpose of winning renown as a warrior, told the party that he was determined not to return to his native land, until he had achieved some act worthy of being recounted. He accordingly selected eight or ten men and proceeded to the nearest settlement, attacked a house, killed all the men in it, and took the women and children prisoners. He did not immediately retreat, but engaged in some other similar adventures. During this expedition he was three times attacked in the night in his encampment; but owing to his good judgment in the choice of his camping ground, and his habitual watchfulness when in an enemy's country, no advantage was gained over him. On one occasion, while encamped in the edge of a cane-brake on the waters of the Tennessee, he was assaulted by a party of whites, about thirty in number. Tecumseh had not lain down, but was engaged at the moment of the attack, in dressing some meat. He instantly sprang to his feet, and ordering his small party to follow him, rushed upon his foes with perfect fearlessness; and, having killed two, put the whole party to flight, he losing none of his own men.
Tecumseh and his party remained at the south nearly two years, traversing that region of country, visiting the different tribes of Indians, and engaging in the border forays which at that period were constantly occurring between the whites and the native possessors of the soil. He now determined to return home, and accordingly set out with eight of his party. They passed through western Virginia, crossed the Ohio near the mouth of the Scioto, and visiting the Machichac towns on the head waters of Mad River, from thence proceeded to the Auglaize, which they reached in the fall of 1790, shortly after the defeat of general Harmar, having been absent from Ohio upwards of three years.
Tecumseh attacked near Big Rock by some whites under Robert M'Clelland—severe battle with some Kentuckians on the East Fork of the Little Miami—attack upon Tecumseh in 1793, on the waters of Paint creek—Tecumseh present at the attack on fort Recovery in 1794—participates in the battle of the Rapids of the Maumee, in 1794.
From the period of his return, until August of the following year, 1791, Tecumseh spent his time in hunting. In the autumn of this year, when information reached the Indians, that general St. Clair and his army were preparing to march from fort Washington, into their country, this chief headed a small party of spies, who went out for the purpose of watching the movements of the invading force.[A] While lying on Nettle creek, a small stream which empties into the Great Miami, general St. Clair and his army passed out through Greenville to the head waters of the Wabash, where he was defeated. Tecumseh, of course, had no personal participation in this engagement, so creditable to the valor of the Indians, and so disastrous to the arms and renown of the United States.
[Footnote A: Stephen Ruddell.]
In December, 1792, Tecumseh, with ten other warriors and a boy, were encamped near Big Rock, between Loramie's creek and Piqua, for the purpose of hunting. Early one morning, while the party were seated round the fire, engaged in smoking, they were fired upon by a company of whites near treble their number. Tecumseh raised the war-whoop, upon which the Indians sprang to their arms, and promptly returned the fire. He then directed the boy to run, and in turning round a moment afterwards, perceived that one of his men. Black Turkey, was running also. He had already retreated to the distance of one hundred yards; yet such was his fear of Tecumseh, he instantly obeyed the order to return, indignantly given him, and joined in the battle. Two of the whites were killed—one of them by Tecumseh—before they retreated. While pursuing them Tecumseh broke the trigger of his rifle, which induced him to give up the chase, or probably more of the whites would have fallen. They were commanded by Robert M'Clelland. Tecumseh lost none of his men; two of them, however, were wounded, one of whom was Black Turkey.[A]
[Footnote A: Anthony Shane.]
In the month of March, 1792, some horses were stolen by the Indians, from the settlements in Mason county, Kentucky. A party of whites to the number of thirty-six, was immediately raised for the purpose of pursuing them. It embraced Kenton, Whiteman, M'Intire, Downing, Washburn, Calvin and several other experienced woodsmen. The first named, Simon Kenton, a distinguished Indian fighter, was placed in command. The trail of the Indians being taken, it was found they had crossed the Ohio just below the mouth of Lee's creek, which was reached by the pursuing party towards evening. Having prepared rafts, they crossed the Ohio that night, and encamped. Early next morning the trail was again taken and pursued, on a north course, all day, the weather being bad and the ground wet. On the ensuing morning twelve of the men were unable to continue the pursuit, and were permitted to return. The remainder followed the trail until eleven o'clock, A.M., when a bell was heard, which they supposed indicated their approach to the Indian camp. A halt was called, and all useless baggage and clothing laid aside. Whiteman and two others were sent ahead as spies, in different directions, each being followed by a detachment of the party. After moving forward some distance, it was found that the bell was approaching them. They halted and soon perceived a solitary Indian riding towards them. When within one hundred and fifty yards, he was fired at and killed. Kenton directed the spies to proceed, being now satisfied that the camp of the Indians was near at hand. They pushed on rapidly, and after going about four miles, found the Indians encamped, on the south-east side of the east fork of the Little Miami, a few miles above the place where the town of Williamsburg has since been built. The indications of a considerable body of Indians were so strong, that the expediency of an attack at that hour of the day was doubted by Kenton. A hurried council was held, in which it was determined to retire, if it could be done without discovery, and lie concealed until night, and then assault the camp. This plan was carried into execution. Two of the spies were left to watch the Indians, and ascertain whether the pursuing party had been discovered. The others retreated for some distance and took a commanding position on a ridge. The spies watched until night, and then reported to their commander, that they had not been discovered by the enemy. The men being wet and cold, they were now marched down into a hollow, where they kindled fires, dried their clothes, and put their rifles in order. The party was then divided into three detachments,—Kenton commanding the right, M'Intire the centre, and Downing the left. By agreement, the three divisions were to move towards the camp, simultaneously, and when they had approached as near as possible, without giving an alarm, were to be guided in the commencement of the attack, by the fire from Kenton's party. When Downing and his detachment had approached close to the camp, an Indian rose upon his feet, and began to stir up the fire, which was but dimly burning. Fearing a discovery, Downing's party instantly shot him down. This was followed by a general fire from the three detachments, upon the Indians who were sleeping under some marquees and bark tents, close upon the margin of the stream. But unfortunately, as it proved in the sequel, Kenton's party had taken "Boone," as their watch-word. This name happening to be as familiar to the enemy as themselves, led to some confusion in the course of the engagement. When fired upon, the Indians instead of retreating across the stream as had been anticipated, boldly stood to their arms, returned the fire of the assailants and rushed upon them. They were reinforced moreover from a camp on the opposite side of the river,[A] which until then, had been unperceived by the whites. In a few minutes the Indians and the Kentuckians were blended with each other, and the cry of "Boone," and "Che Boone," arose simultaneously from each party.
[Footnote A: M'Donald, in his interesting "Biographical Sketches," of some of the western pioneers, says this "second line of tents" was on the lower bottom of the creek and not on the opposite side of it.]
It was after midnight when the attack was made, and there being no moon, it was very dark. Kenton perceiving that his men were likely to be overpowered, ordered a retreat after the attack had lasted for a few minutes; this was continued through the remainder of the night and part of the next day, the Indians pursuing them, but without killing more than one of the retreating party. The Kentuckians lost but two men, Alexander McIntire and John Barr.[A] The loss of the Indians was much greater, according to the statements of some prisoners, who, after the peace of 1795, were released and returned to Kentucky. They related that fourteen Indians were killed, and seventeen wounded. They stated further, that there were in the camp about one hundred warriors, among them several chiefs of note, including Tecumseh, Battise, Black Snake, Wolf and Chinskau; and that the party had been formed for the purpose of annoying the settlements in Kentucky, and attacking boats descending the Ohio river. Kenton and his party were three days in reaching Limestone, during two of which they were without food, and destitute of sufficient clothing to protect them from the cold winds and rains of March. The foregoing particulars of this expedition are taken from the manuscript narrative of general Benjamin Whiteman, one of the early and gallant pioneers to Kentucky, now a resident of Green county, Ohio.
[Footnote A: The father of the late Major William Barr, for many years a citizen of Cincinnati.]
The statements of Anthony Shane and of Stephen Ruddell, touching this action, vary in some particulars from that which has been given above, and also from the narrative in McDonald's Sketches. The principal difference relates to the number of Indians in the engagement, and the loss sustained by them. They report but two killed, and that the Indian force was less than that of the whites. Ruddell states that at the commencement of the attack, Tecumseh was lying by the fire, outside of the tents. When the first gun was heard he sprang to his feet, and calling upon Sinnamatha[A] to follow his example and charge, he rushed forward, and killed one of the whites[B] with his war-club. The other Indians, raising the war-whoop, seized their arms, and rushing upon Kenton and his party, compelled them, after a severe contest of a few minutes, to retreat. One of the Indians, in the midst of the engagement, fell into the river, and in the effort to get out of the water, made so much noise, that it created a belief on the minds of the whites that a reinforcement was crossing the stream to aid Tecumseh. This is supposed to have hastened the order from Kenton, for his men to retreat. The afternoon prior to the battle, one of Kenton's men, by the name of McIntire, succeeded in catching an Indian horse, which he tied in the rear of the camp; and, when a retreat was ordered, he mounted and rode off. Early in the morning, Tecumseh and four of his men set off in pursuit of the retreating party. Having fallen upon the trail of McIntire, they pursued it for some distance, and at length overtook him. He had struck a fire and was cooking some meat. When McIntire discovered his pursuers, he instantly fled at full speed. Tecumseh and two others followed, and were fast gaining on him, when he turned and raised his gun. Two of the Indians, who happened to be in advance of Tecumseh, sprung behind trees, but he rushed upon McIntire and made him prisoner. He was tied and taken back to the battle ground. Upon reaching it, Tecumseh deemed it prudent to draw off his men, lest the whites should rally and renew the attack. He requested some of the Indians to catch the horses, but they, hesitating, he undertook to do it himself, assisted by one of the party. When he returned to camp with the horses, he found that his men had killed McIntire. At this act of cruelty to a prisoner, he was exceedingly indignant; declaring that it was a cowardly act to kill a man when tied and a prisoner. The conduct of Tecumseh in this engagement, and in the events of the following morning, is creditable alike to his courage and humanity. Resolutely brave in battle, his arm was never uplifted against a prisoner, nor did he suffer violence to be inflicted upon a captive, without promptly rebuking it.
[Footnote A: Or Big Fish, the name by which Stephen Ruddell, then fighting with Tecumseh, was called.]
[Footnote B: John Barr, referred to in a preceding note.]
McDonald, in speaking of this action, says:
"The celebrated Tecumseh commanded the Indians. His cautious and fearless intrepidity made him a host wherever he went. In military tactics, night attacks are not allowable, except in cases like this, when the assailing party are far inferior in numbers. Sometimes in night attacks, panics and confusion are created in the attacked party, which may render them a prey to inferior numbers. Kenton trusted to something like this on the present occasion, but was disappointed; for when Tecumseh was present, his influence over the minds of his followers infused that confidence in his tact and intrepidity, that they could only be defeated by force of numbers."
Some time in the spring of 1793, Tecumseh and a few of his followers, while hunting in the Scioto valley on the waters of Paint creek, were unexpectedly attacked by a party of white men from Mason county, Kentucky. The circumstances which led to this skirmish were the following. Early in the spring of this year, an express reached the settlement in Mason, that some stations had been attacked and captured on Slate creek, in Bath county, Kentucky, and that the Indians were returning with their prisoners to Ohio. A party of thirty-three men was immediately raised to cut off their retreat. These were divided into three companies, of ten men each;—Simon Kenton commanding one,—Baker another, and James Ward the third. The whole party crossed the Ohio river at Limestone, and aimed to strike the Scioto above the mouth of Paint creek. After crossing this latter stream, near where the great road from Maysville to Chillicothe now crosses it, evening came on, and they halted for the night. In a short time they heard a noise, and a little examination disclosed to them that they were in the immediate vicinity of an Indian encampment. Their horses were promptly taken back some distance and tied, to prevent an alarm. A council was held,—captain Baker offered to go and reconnoitre, which being agreed to, he took one of his company and made the examination. He found the Indians encamped on the bank of the creek, their horses being between them and the camp of the whites. After Baker's report was made, the party determined to remain where they were until near daylight the next morning; and then to make an attack in the following manner. Captain Baker and his men were to march round and take a position on the bank of the stream, in front of the Indian camp: captain Ward was to occupy the ground in the rear; and captain Kenton one side, while the river presented a barrier on the fourth, thus guarding against a retreat of the Indians. It was further agreed that the attack was not to commence until there was light enough to shoot with accuracy. Before Kenton and Ward had reached the positions they were respectively to occupy, the bark of a dog in the Indian camp was heard, and then the report of a gun. Upon this alarm, Baker's men instantly fired, and captains Kenton and Ward, with their companies, raising the battle cry, rushed towards the camp. To their surprise, they found Baker and his men in the rear, instead of the front of the Indians, thus deranging the plan of attack, whether from design or accident is unknown. The Indians sent back the battle cry, retreated a few paces, and treed. It was still too dark to fire with precision, but random shots were made, and a terrible shouting kept up by the Indians. While the parties were thus at bay, Tecumseh had the address to send a part of their men to the rear of the Kentuckians for the horses; and when they had been taken to the front, which was accomplished without discovery, the Indians mounted and effected their escape, carrying with them John Ward, the only one of their party who was shot. This individual, a white man, had been captured when three-years old, on Jackson, one of the tributaries of James river, in Virginia. He had been raised by the Indians, among whom he had married, and reared several children. He was the brother of James Ward, one of the leaders of this expedition, and died of his wound a few days after the engagement, as was subsequently ascertained. No Indian was killed in this skirmish, and but one of the Kentuckians, Jacob Jones, a member of Baker's detachment. No pursuit of the Indians was made from this point, nor did they prove to be the same party who had been engaged in the attack upon the Slate creek station.[A]
[Footnote A: For the foregoing details of this little expedition, the author is indebted to captain James Ward, of Mason county, Kentucky, who commanded one of the detachments on this occasion.]
In McDonald's Sketches, it is stated that "three Indians were killed in this action; and that when fired upon by their assailants, they dashed through the creek, and scattered through the woods, like a flock of young partridges."
On these points, the worthy author of the "Sketches" has undoubtedly been misinformed. The Indians lost but one man, John Ward; and after having treed, maintained their ground until they had adroitly obtained possession of their horses, and then succeeded in making their escape, carrying off not only the wounded man, but also the women and children who were with them when attacked. This we learn from authorities before us, on which reliance may be placed.[A] By one of these, it appears that there were but six or seven warriors in the party; and, that when the attack was made, Tecumseh called out to them that the women and children must be defended, and it was owing to his firmness and influence that the assailants were kept at bay until the horses of his party were secured, and the necessary arrangements made for a hasty retreat.
[Footnote A: Anthony Shane. Stephen Ruddell.]
After this engagement, it is not known that Tecumseh was a party to any warlike movement, until the summer of the following year. He returned to the waters of the Miami, and spent his time in hunting, for which he had a great fondness, and in which he was generally more successful than any other member of his tribe.
After general Wayne assumed the command of the north-western army, he caused a fort to be built on the spot where the unfortunate defeat of his predecessor, general Arthur St. Clair, had occurred. This fort was named Recovery.
In the summer of 1794, an attack was made upon it by a numerous body of Indians, among whom was Tecumseh. They were accompanied by a British officer, and some artillerists, furnished with fixed ammunition, suited to the calibre of some field pieces which the Indians had taken from general St. Clair, at the time of his defeat.[A] In referring to this attack and the movements of general Wayne, Withers, in his "Chronicles of Border Warfare," says:
"Before the troops marched from fort Washington, it was deemed advisable to have an abundant supply of provisions in the different forts in advance of this, as well for the support of their respective garrisons, as for the subsistence of the general army, in the event of its being driven into them, by untoward circumstances. With this view, three hundred pack horses, laden with flour, were sent on to fort Recovery; and as it was known that considerable bodies of the enemy were constantly hovering about the forts, and awaiting opportunities of cutting off any detachments from the main army, major McMahon, with ninety riflemen under captain Hartshorn, and fifty dragoons under captain Taylor, was ordered on as an escort. This force was so large as to discourage the savages from making an attack, until they should unite their several war parties, and before this could be effected, major McMahon reached the place of his destination.
"On the 30th of July, as the escort was about leaving fort Recovery, it was attacked by a body of one thousand Indians, in the immediate vicinity of the fort. Captain Hartshorn had advanced only three or four hundred yards, at the head of the riflemen, when he was unexpectedly beset on every side. With the most consummate bravery and good conduct, he maintained the unequal conflict, until major McMahon, placing himself at the head of the cavalry, charged upon the enemy, and was repulsed with considerable loss. Major McMahon, captain Taylor and cornet Torrey fell, upon the first onset, and many of the privates were killed or wounded. The whole savage force being now brought to press on captain Hartshorn, that brave officer was forced to try and regain the fort; but the enemy interposed its strength to prevent this movement. Lieutenant Drake and ensign Dodd, with twenty volunteers, marched from the fort, and forcing a passage through a column of the enemy, at the point of the bayonet, joined the rifle corps at the instant that captain Hartshorn received a shot which broke his thigh. Lieutenant Craig being killed, and lieutenant Marks taken prisoner, lieutenant Drake conducted the retreat; and while endeavoring for an instant to hold the enemy in check, so as to enable the soldiers to bring off their wounded captain, himself received a shot in the groin, and the retreat was resumed, leaving captain Hartshorn on the field.
"When the remnant of the troops came within the walls of the fort, lieutenant Michael, who had been detached at an early period of the battle by captain Hartshorn to the flank of the enemy, was found to be missing, and was given up as lost; but while his friends were deploring his unfortunate fate, he and lieutenant Marks, who had been taken prisoner, were seen rushing through the enemy from opposite directions, towards the fort. They gained it safely, notwithstanding they were actively pursued, and many shots fired at them. Lieutenant Marks had got off by knocking down the Indian who held him prisoner; and lieutenant Michael had lost all of his party but three men."
[Footnote A: For this fact see general Harrison's Address on the 50th Anniversary of the first settlement of Ohio.]
The official letter of general Wayne giving an account of this action, places the loss of the whites at twenty-two killed and thirty wounded. "The enemy," continues the report, "were soon repulsed with great slaughter, but immediately rallied and reiterated the attack, keeping up a very heavy and constant fire, at a more respectable distance, for the remainder of the day, which was answered with spirit and effect by the garrison, and that part of major McMahon's command that had regained the fort. The savages were employed during the night (which was dark and foggy,) in carrying off their dead by torchlight, which occasionally drew a fire from the garrison. They nevertheless succeeded so well, that there were but eight or ten bodies left on the field, and those close under the influence of the fire from the fort. The enemy again renewed the attack on the morning of the first inst., but were ultimately compelled to retreat with loss and disgrace from that very field, where they had upon a former occasion, been proudly victorious."
Tecumseh fought in the decisive battle between the American troops under general Wayne, and the combined Indian forces, which occurred on the 20th of August, 1794, near the rapids of the Miami of the lakes. It is not known whether he attended the council, the evening previous to the engagement, in which the advice of Little Turtle, the Miami chief, was overruled by the influence of the Shawanoe chief, Blue Jacket. The former was opposed to giving battle on the following day; the latter in favor of it. As a brave of distinction, Tecumseh took the command of a party of Shawanoes in the engagement, but had no participation in the plan of the attack, or the mode of carrying it into execution. At the commencement of the action, he was in the advance guard with two of his brothers. After fighting for some time, in attempting to load his rifle, he put in a bullet before the powder, and was thus unable to use his gun. Being at this moment pressed in front by some infantry, he fell back with his party until they met another detachment of Indians. Tecumseh urged them to stand fast and fight, saying if any one would lend him a gun, he would show them how to do it. A fowling-piece was handed to him, with which he fought for some time, until the Indians were again compelled to give ground. While falling back, he met another party of Shawanoes, and although the whites were pressing on them, he rallied the Indians, and induced them to make a stand in a thicket. When the infantry pressed close upon them, and had discharged their muskets into the bushes, Tecumseh and his party returned their fire, and then retreated, until they had joined the main body of the Indians below the rapids of the Miami.[A]
[Footnote A: Anthony Shane.]
In this memorable action, which gave victory to the American arms, and humbled the north-western Indians, William Henry Harrison and Tecumseh were for the first time opposed to each other in battle. They were both young, and indeed nearly the same age, and both displayed that courage and gallantry which ever afterwards signalized their brilliant and eventful lives.
Tecumseh's skill as a hunter—declines attending the treaty of Greenville in 1795—in 1796 removed to Great Miami—in 1798 joined a party of Delawares on White river, Indiana—in 1799 attended a council between the whites and Indians near Urbana—another at Chillicothe in 1803—makes an able speech—removes with the Prophet to Greenville, in 1805—the latter commences prophecying—causes the death of Teteboxti, Patterson, Coltes, and Joshua—governor Harrison's speech to the Prophet to arrest these murderers—effort of Wells, the U.S. Indian agent, to prevent Tecumseh and the Prophet from assembling the Indians at Greenville—Tecumseh's speech in reply—he attends a council at Chillicothe—speech on that occasion—council at Springfield—Tecumseh principal speaker and actor.
In the spring of the year 1795, Tecumseh was established on Deer creek, near where Urbana now stands, and engaged in his favorite amusement of hunting. This was more as a pastime than a matter of business. The love of property was not a distinguishing trait of his character; on the contrary, his generosity was proverbial among his tribe. If he accumulated furs, they, or the goods which he received in return for them, were dispensed with a liberal hand. He loved hunting because it was a manly exercise, fit for a brave; and, for the additional reason, that it gave him the means of furnishing the aged and infirm with wholesome and nourishing food. The skill of Tecumseh in the chase has already been adverted to. While residing on Deer creek, an incident occurred which greatly enhanced his reputation as a hunter. One of his brothers, and several other Shawanoes of his own age, proposed to bet with him, that they could each kill as many deer, in the space of three days, as he could. Tecumseh promptly accepted the overture. The parties took to the woods, and at the end of the stipulated time, returned with the evidences of their success. None of the party, except Tecumseh, had more than twelve deer skins; he brought in upwards of thirty—near three times as many as any of his competitors. From this time he was generally conceded to be the greatest hunter in the Shawanoe nation.
In the course of the summer of this year, 1795, he commenced raising a party of his own, and began to style himself a chief. He did not attend the treaty of Greenville, held by general Wayne, on the 3d of August, 1795, with the hostile Indians, but after its conclusion, Blue Jacket paid him a visit on Deer creek, and communicated to him the terms on which peace had been concluded.
Tecumseh remained at this place until the spring of 1796, when he removed with his party to the Great Miami, near to Piqua, where they raised a crop of corn. In the autumn he again changed his place of residence, and went over to the head branches of White Water, west of the Miami, where he and his party spent the winter; and in the spring and summer of 1797, raised another crop of corn.
In the year 1798, the Delawares, then residing in part, on White river, Indiana, invited Tecumseh and his followers, to remove to that neighborhood. Having accepted this invitation, and made the removal, he continued his head quarters in the vicinity of that nation for several years, occupied in the ordinary pursuits of the hunter-life—gradually extending his influence among the Indians, and adding to the number of his party.
In 1799, there was a council held about six miles north of the place where Urbana now stands, between the Indians and some of the principal settlers on Mad River, for the adjustment of difficulties which had grown up between these parties. Tecumseh, with other Shawanoe chiefs, attended this council. He appears to have been the most conspicuous orator of the conference, and made a speech on the occasion, which was much admired for its force and eloquence. The interpreter, Dechouset, said that he found it very difficult to translate the lofty flights of Tecumseh, although he was as well acquainted with the Shawanoe language, as with the French, which was his mother tongue.[A]
[Footnote A: James Galloway, of Xenia.]
We next hear of Tecumseh, under circumstances which show the confidence reposed in him by the white settlers on the frontier.
In the month of April, 1803, Thomas Herrod, living sixteen miles north-west of Chillicothe, was shot, tomahawked, and scalped, near his own house. The Indians were suspected of having committed this deed; a wanton and cruel retaliation was made upon one of them, (guiltless no doubt of that particular crime,) and the settlement in the Scioto valley and north-west of it, was thrown into a state of much excitement. The Indians fled in one direction and the whites in another. For the purpose of ascertaining the facts in the case, and preventing further hostilities, several patriotic citizens of Chillicothe mounted their horses, and rode into the Indian country, where they found Tecumseh and a body of Indians. They disavowed all knowledge of the murder of Herrod, and stated, explicitly, that they were peaceably inclined, and disposed to adhere to the treaty of Greenville. Tecumseh finally agreed to return with the deputation from Chillicothe, that he might in person, give similar assurances to the people of that place. He did so, and a day was fixed on, when he should make an address upon the subject. A white man, raised among the Indians, acted as interpreter. Governor Tiffin opened the conference. "When Tecumseh rose to speak," says an eyewitness, "as he cast his gaze over the vast multitude, which the interesting occasion had drawn together, he appeared one of the most dignified men I ever beheld. While this orator of nature was speaking, the vast crowd preserved the most profound silence. From the confident manner in which he spoke of the intention of the Indians to adhere to the treaty of Greenville, and live in peace and friendship with their white brethren, he dispelled, as if by magic, the apprehensions of the whites—the settlers returned to their deserted farms, and business generally was resumed throughout that region."[A] This incident is of value, in forming an estimate of the character of this chief: it exhibits the confidence reposed in him by he white inhabitants on the frontier. The declaration of no other Indian could thus have dissipated the fears of a border war, which then pervaded the settlement.
[Footnote A: Colonel John M'Donald.]
Some time during this year, a stout Kentuckian came to Ohio, for the purpose of exploring the lands on Mad River, and lodged one night at the house of captain Abner Barrett, residing on the head waters of Buck creek. In the course of the evening, he learned with apparent alarm, that there were some Indians encamped within a short distance of the house. Shortly after hearing this unwelcome intelligence, the door of captain Barrett's dwelling was suddenly opened, and Tecumseh entered with his usual stately air: he paused in silence, and looked around, until at length his eye was fixed upon the stranger, who was manifesting symptoms of alarm, and did not venture to look the stern savage in the face. Tecumseh turned to his host, and pointing to the agitated Kentuckian, exclaimed, "a big baby! a big baby!" He then stepped up to him, and gently slapping him on the shoulder several times, repeated with a contemptuous manner, the phrase "big baby! big baby!" to the great alarm of the astonished man, and to the amusement of all present.[A]
[Footnote A: James Galloway.]
In the early part of the year 1805, a portion of the Shawanoe nation, residing at the Tawa towns on the headwaters of the Auglaize river, wishing to re-assemble their scattered people, sent a deputation to Tecumseh and his party, (then living on White river,) and also to a body of the same tribe upon the Mississiniway, another tributary of the Wabash, inviting them to remove to the Tawa towns, and join their brethren at that place. To this proposition both parties assented; and the two bands met at Greenville, on their way thither. There, through the influence of Laulewasikaw, they concluded to establish themselves; and accordingly the project of going to the Auglaize was abandoned. Very soon afterwards, Laulewasikaw assumed the office of a prophet; and forthwith commenced that career of cunning and pretended sorcery, which enabled him to sway the Indian mind in a wonderful degree, and win for himself a name on the page of history. A concise notice of his prophetical achievements is subjoined. While it serves to display his individual character and endowments, it also presents an interesting and instructive phase of aboriginal character.
It happened about this time that an old Shawanoe, named Penagashega, or the Change of Feathers, who had for some years been engaged in the respectable calling of a prophet, fell sick and died. Laulewasikaw, who had marked the old man's influence with the Indians, adroitly caught up the mantle of the dying prophet, and assumed his sacred office. He changed his name from Laulewasikaw, to Tenskwautawau,[A] meaning the Open Door, because he undertook to point out to the Indians the new modes of life which they should pursue. In the month of November, of this year, he assembled a considerable number of Shawanoes, Wyandots, Ottaways and Senecas, at Wapakonatta, on the Auglaize river, when he unfolded to them the new character with which he was clothed, and made his first public effort in that career of religious imposition, which, in a few years, was felt by the remote tribes of the upper lakes, and on the broad plains which stretch beyond the Mississippi. At this time nothing, it is believed, was said by him in regard to the grand confederacy of the tribes, for the recovery of their lands, which shortly afterwards became an object of ambition with his brother; and, in the furtherance of which he successfully exerted his power and influence, as a prophet. In this assemblage he declaimed against witchcraft, which many of the Indians practised and still more believed. He pronounced that those who continued bewitched, or exerted their arts on others, would never go to heaven nor see the Great Spirit. He next took up the subject of drunkenness, against which he harangued with great force; and, as appeared subsequently, with much success. He told them that since he had become a prophet, he went up into the clouds; that the first place he came to was the dwelling of the Devil, and that all who had died drunkards were there, with flames issuing out of their mouths. He acknowledged that he had himself been a drunkard, but that this awful scene had reformed him. Such was the effect of his preaching against this pernicious vice, that many of his followers became alarmed, and ceased to drink the "fire-water," a name by which whiskey is significantly called among the Indians. He likewise, declaimed against the custom of Indian women intermarrying with white men, and denounced it as one of the causes of their unhappiness. Among other doctrines of his new code, he insisted on a community of property—a very comfortable regulation for those, who like himself, were too indolent to labor for the acquisition of it. A more salutary and rational precept, and one which he enforced with considerable energy, was the duty of the young, at all times and under all circumstances, to support, cherish and respect the aged and infirm. He declaimed with vehemence against all innovations in the original dress and habits of the Indians—dwelt upon the high claims of the Shawanoes to superiority over other tribes, and promised to all his followers, who would believe his doctrines and practice his precepts, the comforts and happiness which their forefathers enjoyed before they were debased by their connection with the whites. And finally proclaimed, with much solemnity, that he had received power from the Great Spirit, to cure all diseases, to confound his enemies, and stay the arm of death, in sickness, or on the battle field.
[Footnote A: In the remaining pages of this work this person will be called the Prophet, the name by which he is most generally known.]
Such is the superstitious credulity of the Indians, that this crafty impostor not only succeeded for a time, in correcting many of the vices of his followers, but likewise influenced them to the perpetration of outrages upon each other, shocking to humanity. If an individual, and especially a chief, was supposed to be hostile to his plans, or doubted the validity of his claim to the character of a prophet, he was denounced as a witch, and the loss of reputation, if not of life, speedily followed. Among the first of his victims were several Delawares,—Tatepocoshe (more generally known as Teteboxti,) Patterson, his nephew, Coltos, an old woman, and an aged man called Joshua. These were successively marked by the Prophet, and doomed to be burnt alive. The tragedy was commenced with the old woman. The Indians roasted her slowly over a fire for four days, calling upon her frequently to deliver up her charm and medicine bag. Just as she was dying, she exclaimed that her grandson, who was then out hunting, had it in his possession. Messengers were sent in pursuit of him, and when found he was tied and brought into camp. He acknowledged that on one occasion he had borrowed the charm of his grandmother, by means of which he had flown through the air, over Kentucky, to the banks of the Mississippi, and back again, between twilight and bed-time; but he insisted that he had returned the charm to its owner; and after some consultation, he was set at liberty. The following day, a council was held over the case of the venerable chief Tatepocoshe, he being present. His death was decided upon after full deliberation; and, arrayed in his finest apparel, he calmly assisted in building his own funeral pile, fully aware that there was no escape from the judgment that had been passed upon him. The respect due to his whitened locks, induced his executioners to treat him with mercy. He was deliberately tomahawked by a young man, and his body was then placed upon the blazing faggots and consumed. The next day, the old preacher Joshua, met a similar fate. The wife of Tatepocoshe, and his nephew Billy Patterson, were then brought into the council house, and seated side by side. The latter had led an irreproachable life, and died like a Christian, singing and praying amid the flames which destroyed his body. While preparations were making for the immolation of Tatepocoshe's wife, her brother, a youth of twenty years of age, suddenly started up, took her by the hand, and to the amazement of the council, led her out of the house. He soon returned, and exclaiming, "the devil has come among us, (alluding to the Prophet) and we are killing each other," he reseated himself in the midst of the crowd. This bold step checked the wild frenzy of the Indians, put an end to these cruel scenes, and for a time greatly impaired the impostor's influence among the Delawares.
The benevolent policy of the governor of Indiana Territory (William Henry Harrison,) towards the Indian tribes, had given him much influence over them. Early in the year 1806, and so soon as he had heard of the movements of the Prophet, and the delusion of the Delawares in regard to witchcraft, he sent a special messenger to them with the following speech. Had it reached them a little earlier, it would probably have saved the life of the aged Tatepocoshe.
"My Children:—My heart is filled with grief, and my eyes are dissolved in tears, at the news which has reached me. You have been celebrated for your wisdom above all the tribes of red people who inhabit this great island. Your fame as warriors has extended to the remotest nations, and the wisdom of your chiefs has gained for you the appellation of grandfathers, from all the neighboring tribes. From what cause, then, does it proceed, that you have departed from the wise counsels of your fathers, and covered yourselves with guilt? My children, tread back the steps you have taken, and endeavor to regain the straight road which you have abandoned. The dark, crooked and thorny one which you are now pursuing, will certainly lead to endless woe and misery. But who is this pretended prophet, who dares to speak in the name of the Great Creator? Examine him. Is he more wise or virtuous than you are yourselves, that he should be selected to convey to you the orders of your God? Demand of him some proofs at least, of his being the messenger of the Deity. If God has really employed him, he has doubtless authorized him to perform miracles, that he may be known and received as a prophet. If he is really a prophet, ask of him to cause the sun to stand still—the moon to alter its course—the rivers to cease to flow—or the dead to rise from their graves. If he does these things, you may then believe that he has been sent from God. He tells you that the Great Spirit commands you to punish with death those who deal in magic; and that he is authorized to point them out. Wretched delusion! Is then the Master of Life obliged to employ mortal man to punish those who offend him? Has he not the thunder and all the powers of nature at his command?—and could he not sweep away from the earth a whole nation with one motion of his arm? My children: do not believe that the great and good Creator of mankind has directed you to destroy your own flesh; and do not doubt but that if you pursue this abominable wickedness, his vengeance will overtake and crush you.
"The above is addressed to you in the name of the Seventeen Fires. I now speak to you from myself, as a friend who wishes nothing more sincerely than to see you prosperous and happy. Clear your eyes, I beseech you, from the mist which surrounds them. No longer be imposed upon by the arts of an impostor. Drive him from your town, and let peace and harmony once more prevail amongst you. Let your poor old men and women sleep in quietness, and banish from their minds the dreadful idea of being burnt alive by their own friends and countrymen. I charge you to stop your bloody career; and if you value the friendship of your great father, the President—if you wish to preserve the good opinion of the Seventeen Fires, let me hear by the return of the bearer, that you have determined to follow my advice."[A]
[Footnote A: Quoted from Dawson's Historical Narrative of the civil and military services of William Henry Harrison.]
Among the Miamis, the Prophet was less successful in establishing an influence than with the Delawares; while over the Kickapoos he gained, for a time, a remarkable ascendency,—greater, indeed, than he ever established in his own tribe. Most of the Shawanoe chiefs were opposed to him, and even complained to the agent at fort Wayne, that his conduct was creating difficulties among the Indians.
We have met with no evidence that Tecumseh favored the destruction of the Delawares, whose unhappy fate has been detailed. On the contrary, it is stated by a credible authority,[A] that he was opposed to it.
[Footnote A: Anthony Shane.]
Throughout the year 1806, the brothers remained at Greenville, and were visited by many Indians from different tribes, not a few of whom became their followers. The Prophet dreamed many wonderful dreams; and claimed to have had many supernatural revelations made to him. The great eclipse of the sun which occurred in the summer of this year, a knowledge of which he had by some means attained, enabled him to carry conviction to the minds of many of his ignorant followers, that he was really the earthly agent of the Great Spirit. He boldly announced to the unbelievers, that on a certain day, he would give them proof of his supernatural powers, by bringing darkness over the sun. When the day and hour of the eclipse arrived, and the earth, even at mid day, was shrouded in the gloom of twilight, the Prophet, standing in the midst of his party, significantly pointed to the heavens, and cried out, "did I not prophecy truly? Behold! darkness has shrouded the sun!" It may readily be supposed that this striking phenomenon, thus adroitly used, produced a strong impression on the Indians, and greatly increased their belief in the sacred character of their Prophet.
In April, 1807, Tecumseh and his brother had assembled at Greenville about four hundred Indians, most of them highly excited by religious fanaticism; and ready, it was feared, for any enterprise on which these brothers might be disposed to lead them. Considerable apprehension was entertained for the safety of the frontiers, and several fruitless efforts were made to ascertain the ulterior objects of the leaders. William Wells, then Indian agent at fort Wayne, despatched Anthony Shane, a half-blood Shawanoe, with a communication to Tecumseh and the Prophet, requesting them and two other of their chiefs, to visit him at fort Wayne, that he might read to them a letter which he had just received from their great father, the President of the United States.
A council being called, Shane made known the object of his mission. Tecumseh, without consulting with those around him, immediately arose and said to the messenger, "go back to fort Wayne, and tell captain Wells, that my fire is kindled on the spot appointed by the Great Spirit above; and, if he has any thing to communicate to me, he must come here:—I shall expect him in six days from this time." With this laconic, but dignified reply, the conference ended. The agent at fort Wayne declined waiting on Tecumseh, in person, but on the appointed day, sent Shane back to Greenville, with a copy of the President's communication, contained in a letter from the Secretary at War; the substance of which was, that Tecumseh and his party being established within the limits of the governor's purchase from the Indians, they were desired to remove to some point beyond the boundaries agreed upon by the treaty of Greenville; and, in case of their compliance, the government would afford them assistance, until they were properly established at their new post. A second council was assembled, and the communication fully interpreted to those present. Tecumseh felt indignant that captain Wells had not visited him in person. He arose deeply excited, and turning to his followers, addressed them in a long, glowing and impassioned speech, in which he dwelt upon the injuries the Indians had received from the whites, and especially the continued encroachments of the latter upon the lands of the red men: "These lands," said he in conclusion, "are ours: no one has a right to remove us, because we were the first owners; the Great Spirit above has appointed this place for us, on which to light our fires, and here we will remain. As to boundaries, the Great Spirit above knows no boundaries, nor will his red people acknowledge any."
Of this speech no copy has been preserved. Shane speaks of it as a masterpiece of Indian eloquence—bold, argumentative and powerful. It was delivered with great vehemence, and deep indignant feeling. After a moment's pause, Tecumseh turned to the messenger and said, with that stately indifference of manner, which he could so gracefully assume when in council, "if my great father, the President of the Seventeen Fires, has any thing more to say to me, he must send a man of note as his messenger. I will hold no further intercourse with captain Wells."
The Prophet, who seldom lost an opportunity of vaunting himself before his followers, then rose, and addressing captain Shane, said, "why does not the President send to us the greatest man in his nation? I can talk to him—I can bring darkness between him and me—nay more, I can bring the sun under my feet, and what white man can do this?" With this self-glorification, the council terminated.
The excitement continued to increase, and at the close of May, it was estimated by the agent at fort Wayne, that not less than fifteen hundred Indians, had within a short time, passed and repassed that fort, in making visits to the Prophet. Many of these were from distant points on the lakes. Councils were assembled, runners with pipes and belts of wampum, went from tribe to tribe, and strong evidence of some uncommon movement among the Indians became quite apparent. The British agents were active in fomenting this excitement, and in extending the influence of Tecumseh and his brother, whose ulterior objects were carefully concealed from the agents of the United States, and such Indian chiefs as were known to be friendly to our government.
In the month of August, on the testimony of several persons familiar with Indian affairs, then residing in the north-western portions of the state, the Indians at fort Wayne and at Greenville, who were supposed to be under the influence of the Prophet, amounted to between seven and eight hundred, most of them equipped with new rifles. These facts being communicated to the governor of Ohio, he directed his attention to the subject, and, in the early part of September, despatched Thomas Worthington and Duncan McArthur, to Greenville, for the purpose of holding a conference with the Prophet and Tecumseh, and ascertaining the object of their assembling so large a body of Indians, within the limits of the cession of land made by them at the treaty of 1795. These commissioners left Chillicothe on the 8th of September, and reached Greenville on the 12th, where they were courteously received by the Indians. They were fortunate in securing the services of Stephen Ruddell, as their interpreter, who had resided for seventeen years among the Indians, and was familiar with the Shawanoe language. On the day of their arrival, the commissioners were invited to a general council of the Indians, at which the letter of the governor was read, and interpreted to the Shawanoes, Potawatamies and Chippewas. This was followed by an address from the commissioners, referring to the past relations between the United States and the Indians, the policy pursued towards the latter by Great Britain, and the importance of their remaining neutral, in case of a war between that country and the United States. On the following day, Blue Jacket, who, it was announced, had been authorized by all the Indians present, to speak for them, replied to the commissioners as follows: