小说搜索     点击排行榜   最新入库
首页 » 英文名人传记 » Lives of Famous Indian Chiefs » CHAPTER IX.
选择底色: 选择字号:【大】【中】【小】
Judged from his success on the field of battle and his sagacity in council, Little Turtle deserves to rank among the four greatest American Indians, the other three being Pontiac, Tecumseh and Chief Joseph. Indeed, when it is remembered that "nothing succeeds like success," and that he alone of all the Indian commanders had three victories to his credit (for the defeat of the whites at Blue Lick, in Kentucky, is also conceded to him), he might be regarded as in some respects the greatest American Indian.
Little Turtle was thought to have been born on the banks of the Miami River, in Ohio, about the year 1747. He was the son of a Miami chief, but his mother was a Mohegan woman, probably captured in war and adopted into the tribe. As the Indian maxim in relation to descents is generally the same with that of our obsolete civil law in relation to slaves, that the condition of the offspring follows the condition of the mother. {FN} Little Turtle had no advantage whatever from his father's rank. He, however, became a chief at an early age, for his extraordinary talents attracted the notice of his countrymen in boyhood.
{FN} "Partus sequitur ventrum."
His first services worthy of mention were those of a young warrior in the ranks of his tribe. Here the soundness of his judgment and his skill and bravery in battle soon made him chief, and finally bore him on to a commanding influence, not only in his own nation, but among all the neighboring tribes.
Notwithstanding his name, Little Turtle was at this time at least six feet tall; strong, muscular and remarkably dignified in his manner, though of a somewhat morose countenance and apparently very crafty and subtle. As a warrior he was fearless, but not rash; shrewd to plan, bold and energetic to execute—no peril could daunt and no emergency could surprise him. Politically he was the first follower of Pontiac, and the latest model of Tecumseh. He indulged in much the same gloomy apprehension that the whites would over top and finally uproot his race; and he sought much the same combination of the Indian nations to prevent it.
Long after the conclusion of the peace of 1783, the British retained possession of several posts within our ceded limits on the north, which were rallying-points for the Indians hostile to the American cause, and where they were supplied and subsisted to a considerable extent, while they continued to wage that war with us, which their civilized ally no longer maintained. The infant Government made strenuous exertions to pacify all these tribes. With some they succeeded, but the Indians of the Miami and Wabash would consent to no terms. They were strong in domestic combination, besides receiving encouragement from across the Canadian border.
Little Turtle, ably assisted by Blue Jacket, head chief of the Shawnees of this period, and Buckongahelas, who led the Delawares, formed a confederation of the Wyandots, Pottawatomies, Chippewas, Ottawas, Shawnees, Delawares and Miamis, and parts of several other tribes.
These were substantially the same tribes who had thirty years before been united under Pontiac, and formed an exact precedent for the combination of Tecumseh and his brother at Tippecanoe some years after, as will be seen.
On September 13, 1791—all attempts to conciliate the hostile tribes, who were now ravaging the frontiers, having been abandoned—General Harmar, under the direction of the Federal Government, marched against them from Fort Washington, where Cincinnati now stands, with three hundred and twenty regulars, who were soon after joined by a body of militia, making the whole force about fifteen hundred men.
When they reached the Miami villages they were found deserted by the Indians. The army burned them, destroyed the standing corn, and then encamped on the ground. An Indian trail being discovered soon after, Hardin, with one hundred and fifty militia, properly officered, and thirty regulars, commanded by Captain Armstrong, was sent in pursuit.
In a prairie at the distance of six miles, the Indians had formed an ambush on each side of their own trail, where they were concealed among the bushes and long grass. All unsuspicious of danger the troops followed the trail, but were no sooner involved within the snare laid for them than the enemy poured in a heavy fire from both sides. Greatly to the mortification of their colonel, the militia broke ranks at once and fled, deserting the regulars, who stood firm till nearly all of them were killed.
The Indians remained on the field, and during the night held a dance of victory over their dead and dying enemies. To this ceremony Captain Armstrong was a constrained and unwilling witness, being sunk to his neck in mud and water, within a hundred yards of the scene.
The life of Ensign Hartshorn was also saved by his having accidentally fallen over a log hidden among the weeds and grass. During the night both these officers eluded the notice of their enemies, and reached camp before sunrise.
Apparently disheartened by the result of this skirmish, Harmar broke up his camp in a day or two afterward and retreated nearer the settlements. On the second day of the march, when about ten miles from the ruined villages, the general ordered a halt, and sent Colonel Hardin back to the main town with some sixty regulars and three hundred militia. Hardin had no sooner reached the point to which he had been ordered, than a small body of Indians appeared on the ground. After receiving the fire of the militia, the savages broke into separate parties, and by seeming to fly, as if panic-stricken, encouraged the militia to follow in pursuit. The stratagem was successful. The militia had no sooner disappeared in chase of the fugitives, than the regulars, thus left alone, were suddenly assaulted by large numbers of the foe, who had hitherto remained in concealment.
The Indians precipitated themselves upon the sixty regulars under Major Willis, but were received with the most inflexible determination. The Indian war-whoop, so appalling even to the bravest hearts, was heard in cool, inflexible silence. The whirling of the tomahawk was met by the thrust of the bayonet.
Nothing could exceed the intrepidity of the savages on this occasion. The militia they appeared to despise, and with all the undauntedness conceivable threw down their guns and rushed upon the bayonets of the regular soldiers. Quite a few of them fell, but being far superior in numbers the regulars were soon overpowered; for, while the poor soldier had his bayonet in one Indian two more would sink their tomahawks in his head. The defeat of the troops was complete, the dead and wounded were left on the field of action in possession of the savages.
In the meantime, the militia came straggling in from their vain and hopeless pursuit, and the struggle was renewed for a time, but when they realized that the regulars had been almost annihilated during their absence, they lost heart and retreated.
Of the regulars engaged in this most sanguinary battle only ten escaped back to the camp, while the militia, under Hardin, lost ninety-eight in killed and ten others wounded.
After this unfortunate repulse, Harmar retired without attempting anything further. The conduct of Harmar and Hardin did not escape severe criticism and censure, not, it would seem, without cause.
Of the eleven hundred or more men under the command of Harmar in this expedition, there were three hundred and twenty regulars and seven hundred and eighty militia. But he sent only thirty regulars and one hundred and fifty militia to the first engagement, and only sixty regulars and three hundred militia to the second.
Why was it he always sent the raw recruits to find and attack the Indians and kept the best soldiers idle in the camp? Was it to insure his own safety, by having a strong guard always present?
Again, it is noticed that, in both cases, instead of advancing himself with the main body, he sent Colonel Hardin to lead the forlorn hope. He was always ready to give the command, "Go!" but in his lexicon there was no such word as "Come!" Consequently the word "fail" was written so plain that "he who runs might read." Colonel Hardin, for his part, displayed great courage, and but little skill as an Indian fighter, as he was ambushed and out-generaled on both occasions. In fact, the only generalship shown in this campaign was that evinced by the Indian commander, who was none other than the hero of this sketch, Little Turtle.
General Harmar, deeply chagrined, returned to Fort Washington. He and Hardin both demanded a court-martial; the latter was unanimously and honorably acquitted. Harmar was also acquitted, but immediately afterward resigned his commission.
Elated by their success, the Indians continued their depredations with greater audacity than ever, and the situation of the frontiers became truly alarming.
The early movements of the newly organized Federal Government were difficult and embarrassing. With a view, however, to the defense of the northern and western frontiers, an act was passed by Congress for increasing the army; St. Clair, the Governor of the Northwestern territories, received a commission as major-general, and steps were taken for raising the new regiment and the levies, the command of which was to be given to General Butler.
Washington, who was President at this time, had been deeply chagrined by the mortifying disasters of General Harmar's expedition against the Miamis, resulting from Indian ambushes. In taking leave, therefore, of his old military comrade, St. Clair, he wished him success and honor, and added this solemn warning: "You have your instructions from the Secretary of War. I had a strict eye to them, and will add but one word—Beware of a surprise! You know how the Indians fight. I repeat it—Beware of a surprise!" With these warning words sounding in his ear, fresh with Washington's awful emphasis, St. Clair started to the front to assume command.
"Old men for council, young men for war," is a good maxim which was not regarded at this time. St. Clair was not only old and infirm, but weak and sick with an attack of gout, and at times almost helpless. Moreover, he had been very unfortunate in his military career in the Revolutionary War. Neither he nor the second in command, Maj.-Gen. Richard Butler, possessed any of the qualities of leadership save courage. The whole burden fell on the adjutant-general, Colonel Winthrop Sargent, an old Revolutionary veteran, without whom the expedition would probably have failed in ignominy even before the Indians were reached, and he showed courage and ability of a high order; yet in planning for battle he was unable to remedy to the blunders of his superiors.
Napoleon is quoted as saying. "Better an army of deer led on by a lion than an army of lions led on by a deer," In the light of subsequent events, this was much like an army of deer led on by a deer.
The troops were, for the most part, of wretched stuff. St. Clair was particularly unpopular in Kentucky, and no volunteers could be found to serve under him. The militia of Kentucky had been called on, and about one thousand reluctantly furnished by draft; but as they were all unfavorable to the commander-in-chief, many desertions took place daily. They seemed to think that the only possible outcome of this expedition was defeat.
St. Clair made his headquarters at Fort Hamilton, now Hamilton, Ohio, about twenty-five miles northward of Fort Washington, or Cincinnati.
Little Turtle
The season was already advanced before St. Clair took the field. The whole force of regulars and levies able to march from Fort Washington did not much exceed two thousand men. Desertion reduced the number to about fourteen hundred before they had advanced far into the hostile territory. Continuing the march, however, on the 3d of November he encamped on a piece of commanding ground, within fifteen miles of the Miami villages. An interval of only seventy paces was left between the two wings of the army. The right was in some degree protected by a creek with a steep bank; the left by cavalry and pickets. Colonel Oldham, who commanded the remains of the Kentucky levies, was sent across the creek and took a position on the first rising ground beyond it, about a quarter of a mile distant. Indians were seen during the afternoon and evening, skulking about the camp, and were fired at by the sentinels, yet neither St. Clair nor Butler took any adequate measures to ward off the impending blow, or prevent a surprise. Indeed, they did not expect to be attacked.
Meantime the Indians were holding a grand war council. The plan of attack was decided, and the order and rank of the various tribes settled, and positions assigned them. The Wyandots stretched to the west; the Delawares were stationed next to them; the Senecas third in order, while the other tribes and bands took similar positions on the other side. The Turtle, acting as commander-in-chief, superintended and stimulated the whole, but headed no particular detachment; the arm of the warrior was to do much, but the eye and voice of the chieftain much more. Nothing happened during the night to alarm the Americans, and the noise and stir of the outskirts in the early part of the evening gradually subsided. All at length was silent, and it might well be supposed, as it probably was, that the enemy had taken advantage of the darkness of the night to make good a precipitate retreat, or that their whole force as yet consisted only of a few scouting and scalping parties. But they were soon undeceived.
On the morning of November 4, the militia were violently attacked between dawn and sunrise by a large body of Indians, who, with terrific yells, poured in a volley of musketry along the entire length of the picket line. Never was surprise more complete. The ranks of the militia were thrown into confusion at once by the fury of the onset, the heavy firing, and the appalling whoops and yells of the throngs of painted savages.
After a brief resistance they broke and fled in wild panic to the camp of the regulars, among whom they rushed like frightened sheep, spreading confusion and demoralization.
The troops sprang to arms as soon as they heard the firing at the picket line, and their volleys checked the onrush of the savages but only for a moment. The plumed warriors divided and filed off to either side, as if at the command of their leader, completely surrounding the camp, killing the pickets and advancing close to the main lines.
The battle was now fiercely contested on both sides, but it was almost a hopeless struggle for the Americans from the beginning, as it was impossible for the gunners to hit an enemy they could not see, as they crept from tree to tree, and log to log. The soldiers stood in close order in the center, where their ranks were steadily thinned by the rapid fire or hurtling tomahawk of the Indians.
The Indians fought with great courage and ferocity, and slaughtered the bewildered soldiers like sheep, as they vainly fired through the dense smoke into the surrounding woods.
The best description of this battle we have seen is given in Roosevelt's "Winning of the West," volume IV, chapter 1, in which he says: "The officers behaved very well, cheering and encouraging their men: but they were the special targets of the Indians, and fell rapidly. St. Clair and Butler, by their cool fearlessness in the hour of extreme peril, made some amends for their shortcomings as commanders. They walked up and down the lines from flank to flank, passing and repassing each other; for the two lines of battle were facing outward, and each general was busy trying to keep his wing from falling back. St. Clair's clothes were pierced by eight bullets, but he was himself untouched. He wore a blanket coat with a hood; he had a long queue, and his thick gray hair flowed from under his three-cornered hat; a lock of his hair was carried off by a bullet. Several times he headed the charges, sword in hand. General Butler had his arm broken early in the fight, but he continued to walk to and fro along the line, his coat off and the wounded arm in a sling. Another bullet struck him in the side, inflicting a mortal wound; and he was carried to the middle of the camp, where he sat propped up by knapsacks. Men and horses were falling around him at every moment. St. Clair sent an aide, Lieut. Ebenezer Denny, to ask how he was; he displayed no anxiety, and answered that he felt well. While speaking, a young cadet, who stood near by, was hit on the knee-cap by a spent ball, and at the shock cried aloud; whereat the general laughed so that his wounded side shook. The aide left him and there is no further certain record of his fate except that he was slain; but it is said that in one of the Indian rushes a warrior bounded toward him and sunk the tomahawk in his brain before any one could interfere.
"Instead of being awed by the bellowing artillery, the Indians made the gunners a special object of attack. Man after man was picked off, until every officer was killed but one, who was wounded; and most of the privates were slain or disabled. The artillery was thus almost silenced, and the Indians, emboldened by success, swarmed forward and seized the guns, while at the same time a part of the left wing of the army began to shrink back. But the Indians were now on comparatively open ground, where the regulars could see them and get at them; and under St. Clair's own leadership the troops rushed fiercely at the savages, with fixed bayonets, and drove them back to cover. By this time the confusion and disorder were great; while from every hollow and grass patch, from behind every stump and tree and fallen log, the Indians continued their fire. Again and again the officers led forward the troops in bayonet charges; and at first the men followed them with a will. Each charge seemed for a moment to be successful, the Indians rising in swarms and running in headlong flight from the bayonets. In one of these charges Colonel Darke's battalion drove the Indians several hundred yards, across the branch of the Wabash; but when the colonel halted and rallied his men, he found the savages had closed in behind him, and he had to fight his way back, while the foe he had been chasing at once turned and harrassed his rear. He was himself wounded, and lost most of his command. On reentering camp he found the Indians again in possession of the artillery and baggage, from which they were again driven; they had already scalped the slain, who lay about the guns. Major Thomas Butler had his thigh broken by a bullet; but continued on horseback in command of his battalion until the end of the fight. The only regular regiment present lost every officer killed or wounded. The commander of the Kentucky militia, Colonel Oldham, was killed early in the action, while trying to rally his men and berating them for cowards.
"The charging troops could accomplish nothing permanent. The men were too clumsy and ill-trained in forest warfare to overtake their fleet, half-naked antagonists. The latter never received the shock; but though they fled they were nothing daunted, for they turned the instant the battalion did and followed firing, and, indeed, were only visible when raised by a charge.
"The Indian attack was relentless, and could neither be avoided, parried nor met by counter assault. For two hours the soldiers kept up a slowly lessening resistance; but by degrees their hearts failed. In vain the officers tried, by encouragement, by jeers, and even blows, to drive them back to the fight. They were unnerved.
"There was but one thing to do. If possible the remnant of the army must be saved, and it could only be done by instant flight, even at the cost of abandoning the wounded. The broad road by which the army had advanced was the only line of retreat. The artillery had already been spiked and abandoned. Most of the horses had been killed, but a few were still left, and on one of these St. Clair mounted. He gathered together those fragments of the different battalions which contained the few men who still kept heart and head, and ordered them to charge and regain the road from which the savages had cut them off. Repeated orders were necessary before some of the men could be roused from their stupor sufficiently to follow the charging party; and they were only induced to move when told that it was a retreat.
"Colonel Darke and a few officers placed themselves at the head of the column, the coolest and boldest men drew up behind them, and they fell on the Indians with such fury as to force them back well beyond the road. This made an opening through which the rest of the troops pressed 'like a drove of bullocks.'" {FN}
{FN} Van Cleve's Journal.
"The Indians were surprised by the vigor of the charge and puzzled as to its object. They opened out on both sides and half the soldiers had gone through before they tired more than a chance shot or two. They then fell on the rear and began a hot pursuit. St. Clair sent his aide, Denny, to the front to try to keep order, but neither he nor any one else could check the flight. Major Clark tried to rally his battalion to cover the retreat, but he was killed and the effort abandoned."
As soon as the men realized that in flight there lay some hope of safety they broke into a stampede which soon became uncontrollable. Even St. Clair admitted in his dispatches that this retreat "was a precipitate one, in fact, a flight." Most of the militia threw away their arms and accoutrements, and in their headlong flight the weak and wounded, and even some of the women who were with the army, were knocked down and ruthlessly trampled by the terrified men.
The pursuit continued about four miles, when the Indian commander, Little Turtle, restrained his dusky warriors, saying they had killed enough and should now divide the spoils. The natural greediness of the savage appetite for plunder made the red men willing to obey this command, otherwise hardly a man would have escaped.
General St. Clair tried to stay behind and stem the torrent of fugitives, but failed utterly, being swept along in the mad stampede. He now attempted to ride to the front to rally the troops, but the clumsy pack-horse which he rode could not be pricked out of a walk. The flight continued from half-past nine until after sunset, when the routed troops reached Fort Jefferson, some thirty miles distant, completely exhausted.
One day's hurried flight had carried them over a space which covered a fortnight's advance. Here they met the detached regiment, three hundred strong, which had been sent by St. Clair after the deserters. Leaving their wounded at Fort Jefferson, the retreat was continued until the half-armed rabble reached Fort Washington and the log huts of the infant city of Cincinnati. {FN}
{FN} Washington was called "the Cincinnati of the West." Hence it was an easy and natural change from Fort Washington to Cincinnati.
The loss in this disastrous expedition amounted to upward of nine hundred men, including fifty-nine officers. Of these six hundred and thirty were killed, and two hundred and eighty wounded. Only one or two were taken prisoners, as the savages killed every one who fell into their hands. It is said that the influence of Little Turtle prevented any captives being tortured, but he could not prevent one case of cannibalism.
In Brickell's Narrative it is stated that the savage Chippewas from the far-off North devoured one of the slain soldiers, {FN} probably in a spirit of ferocious bravado; the other tribes expressed horror at the deed.
{FN} In our investigations we have found several cases of cannibalism, but they have always been Canadian Indians, especially the tribes living near lakes Huron and Superior. We believe it was not common.
St. Clair's defeat, with the possible exception of that of Braddock, was the most complete and overwhelming in the annals of Indian warfare. He and his apologists always claimed that he was overpowered by numbers; but as no English historian makes the Indians more numerous than the Americans, some credit must be given to them upon other grounds than the pretext of numerical superiority. Indeed, their attack was conducted with astonishing intrepidity. After the first volley of firearms, they fought every inch of the field hand to hand, with their tomahawks.
The Indians were rich in spoil. They got horses, cattle, tents, guns, axes, powder, bullets, clothing, blankets and a supply of provisions—in short, everything they needed.
Thatcher is responsible for the statement that "an American officer, who encountered a party of thirty Indians near the battle-ground, a day or two after the defeat, and was detained by them till they were made to believe him a friend to their cause, from Canada, was informed that the number of the Indians engaged in the battle was twelve hundred, of whom the larger portion were Miamis, besides half-breeds and renegades, including among the latter the notorious Simon Girty." This officer was also informed that the number killed on the Indian side was fifty-six.
These savages were returning home with their share of the plunder. One of them had a hundred and twenty-seven American scalps, strung on a pole, and the rest were laden with various other articles of different values. They had also three pack-horses, carrying as many kegs of wine and spirits as could be piled on their backs. {FN}
{FN} Perhaps this last statement tends to explain the easy victory of the Indians.
When the remnant of the shattered army reached Fort Washington, St. Clair dispatched his aide, the ever ready Lieut. Ebenezer Denny, to carry the news to Philadelphia, the national capital.
The manner in which the news of this disaster affected Washington is thus described by Mr. Rush. Said he, "Mr. Lear (the President's private secretary) saw a storm was gathering. In the agony of his emotion he (Washington) struck his clenched hands with fearful force against his forehead, and in a paroxysm of anguish exclaimed: 'It's all over! St. Clair's defeated—routed; the officers nearly all killed—the men by wholesale—that brave army cut to pieces—the rout complete! Too shocking to think of—and a surprise in the bargain!' He uttered all this with great vehemence. Then he paused and walked about the room several times, agitated, but saying nothing. Near the door he stopped short and stood still a few seconds; then turning to the secretary, who stood amazed at the spectacle of Washington in all his wrath, he again broke forth:
"'Yes, sir. Here, in this very room, on this very spot, I took leave of him: I wished him success and honor. 'You have your instructions,' I said, 'from the Secretary of War: I had a strict eye to them, and will add but one word—beware of a surprise! I repeat it—beware of a surprise! You know how the Indians fight us. He went off with that as my last solemn warning thrown into his ears. And yet to suffer that army to be cut to pieces, hacked by a surprise—the very thing I guarded him against! 0. God! 0. God! He's worse than a murderer! How can he answer it to his country? The blood of the slain is upon him—the curse of widows and orphans—the curse of heaven!'"
This torrent came out in tone appalling. His very frame shook. "It was awful!" said Mr. Lear. "More than once he threw his hands up as he hurled imprecations upon St. Clair." Mr. Lear remained speechless—awed into breathless silence. Presently the roused chief sat down on the sofa once more. He seemed conscious of his passion, and uncomfortable. He was silent; his wrath began to subside. He at length said, in an altered voice: "This must not go beyond this room." Another pause followed—a longer one—when he said in a tone quite low, "General St. Clair shall have justice. I looked hastily through the dispatches—saw the whole disaster, but not all the particulars. I will hear him without prejudice; he shall have full justice; yes, long, faithful and meritorious services have their claims."
Washington was now perfectly calm. Half an hour had gone by; the storm of indignation and passion was over, and no sign of it was afterward seen in his conduct or heard in his conversation. His wrath on this occasion was perhaps never before aroused to so great a degree, except when he confronted Lee, when the latter was retreating at the battle of Monmouth.
Little Turtle Chase
The effect of this terrible disaster was at once encouraging to Little Turtle and his formidable confederation, and correspondingly depressing to the youthful government and the settlers of the Northwest Territory, where Indian depredations increased alarmingly.
Congress soon took the necessary steps to raise and equip another army, and tendered the command to Gen. Anthony Wayne, commonly called "Mad Anthony" because of his intrepid courage and energy. General Wayne accepted the command on condition that sufficient time be allotted him to thoroughly drill his raw recruits. Wayne proved to be the right man for the place and fully sustained the reputation he had won at Stony Point and other battles of the Revolution. He soon had his militia under such perfect discipline that they were ready and anxious to meet the enemy.
Perhaps no man in the country was better qualified to meet the emergencies of an Indian warfare in the woods. Thatcher says, "The Indians were themselves, indeed, sensible of this fact, and the mere intelligence of his approach had its effect on their spirits. They universally called him the 'Black Snake,' from the superior cunning which they ascribed to him; and even allowed him the credit of being a fair match for Buckongahelas, Blue Jacket or the Turtle himself."
Wayne prosecuted the decisive campaign of 1794 with a spirit which justified the estimate of his enemy, although, owing to the difficulties of transporting stores and provisions through a wilderness, which at that time could not be traversed by wagons, he was unable to commence operations until near midsummer. He had already in the fall of the previous season erected Fort Recovery, on the site of St. Clair's defeat; and early in August, he raised a fortification at the confluence of the Au-Glaize and Miami, which he named Fort Defiance. His whole force was now nearly two thousand regulars, exclusive of eleven hundred mounted Kentucky militia, under General Scott. Here he had expected to surprise the neighboring villages of the enemy; and the more effectually to insure the success of his coup-de-main, he had not only advanced thus far by an obscure and very difficult route, but taken pains to clear out two roads from Greenville in that direction, in order to attract and divert the attention of the Indians, while he marched by neither. But his generalship proved of no avail. The Turtle and his warriors kept too vigilant an eye on the foe they were now awaiting, to be easily surprised, even had not their movements been quickened, as they were, by the information of an American deserter.
On the 12th of the month the General learned from some of the Indians taken prisoners, that their main body occupied a camp near the British fort at the rapids of the Miami. But he now resolved before approaching them much nearer to try the effect of one more proposal of peace. He had in his army a man named Miller, who had long been a captive with some of the tribes, and spoke their language, and he selected him for the hazardous undertaking.
Miller did not want to go; he believed the Indians were determined on war, and that they would not respect a flag of truce, but would probably kill him. General Wayne, however, assured Miller that he would hold the eight prisoners then in his custody as pledges for his safety, and that he might take with him any escort he desired. Thus encouraged, the soldier consented to go with the message; and to attend him, he selected from the prisoners one of the men and a squaw. With these he left camp at 4 P. M. on the 13th, and at daybreak next morning arrived at the tents of the hostile chiefs, which were near together, and known by his attendants, without being discovered. He immediately displayed his white flag and proclaimed himself "a messenger with a peace talk." Instantly he was assailed on all sides, with a hideous yell, while some of the Indians shouted, "Kill the runner! Kill the spy!" But when he addressed them in their own language and explained to them his real character, they suspended the blow, and took him into custody. He showed and explained the general's letter, not omitting the positive assurance that if they did not send the bearer back to him by the 16th of the month, he would at sunset on that day cause every Indian in his camp to be put to death.
Miller was closely confined and a council called by the chiefs. On the 15th he was liberated, and furnished with an answer to General Wayne, which was "that if he waited where he was for ten days, and then sent Miller for them, they would treat with him; but that if he advanced, they would give him battle." The general's impatience had prevented his waiting the return of his minister. Miller came up with the army on the 16th, however, and delivered the answer; to which he added, that "from the manner in which the Indians were dressed and painted, and the constant arrival of parties, it was his opinion they had determined on war and only wanted time to muster their whole force." {FN}
{FN} Marshall.
This intelligence caused Wayne to rapidly continue his march down the Maumee.
Meantime the red men, through their runners, had full knowledge of his movements. During the night preceding the battle of Fallen Timbers, the chiefs of the different tribes of the confederation held a council, and it was proposed by some to go up and attack General Wayne in his encampment. The proposition was opposed, and it was determined to wait until the next day and fight the battle on ground of their own selection, in front of the British fort. Little Turtle, more wise than the other chiefs, disapproved of this plan, while Blue Jacket was warmly in favor of it. The former disliked the idea of fighting Wayne under present circumstances, and was even inclined to make peace. Schoolcraft informs us that, in his speech in the council, he said, "We have beaten the enemy twice, under separate commanders. We can not expect the same good fortune to always attend us. The Americans are now led by a chief who never sleeps. The night and the day are alike to him; and during all the time that he has been marching upon our villages, notwithstanding the watchfulness of our young men, we have never been able to surprise him. Think well of it. There is something whispers me, it would be prudent to listen to his offers of peace." On this he was reproached by one of the chiefs with cowardice, and that ended the conference. Stung to the quick by a reproach which he felt he never merited; he would have laid the reviler dead at his feet; but his was not the bravery of an assassin. He took his post at the head of the Miamis when the battle was fought, determined to do his duty; and that event proved that he had formed a very correct estimate of the ability of General Wayne.
Having been reinforced by sixteen hundred Kentuckians, under the brave general, Charles Scott, Wayne's army now numbered about four thousand men, and he was ready for battle. He used every caution while in the Indian's country, and invariably went into camp about the middle of the afternoon, in a hollow square, which was inclosed by a rampart of logs. He was well aware that hundreds of eyes were watching his every movement from tree and bush, and he was determined never to be surprised.
The battle of Fallen Timbers, so called because at this place a large number of forest trees had been blown down by a tornado, was fought August 20, 1794.
The Indians took this position because it would give them favorable, covert for their mode of warfare, and prevent the successful use of cavalry. Moreover, it was practically under the guns of the British fort, on the Maumee, from whence the Indians doubtless expected aid. The savages were formed in three lines, within supporting distance of each other, and extending for nearly two miles at right angles with the river.
A selected battalion of mounted volunteers moved in front of the legion, commanded by Major Price, who was ordered to keep sufficiently in advance so as to give timely warning for the troops to form for action. After advancing about five miles, Major Price's corps received the fire of the enemy, who were secreted in the high grass and behind bushes, and fell back to the main army. The legion was immediately formed into two lines and ordered to charge with trailed arms and rouse the Indians from their coverts with point of bayonet, and when up to deliver a close and well directed fire on their backs, followed by a brisk charge, so as not to give them time to reload. The cavalry was ordered to make a wide circuit and attack the Indians after they were driven from their position. But so impetuous was the charge of the well-trained infantry, they had the red men routed and in full retreat before the cavalry could head them off. The Indians were driven in the course of an hour several miles through the thick woods by less than half their numbers.
The panic-stricken savages were chased with great slaughter to the very walls of the British fort of Maumee, the commander of which had promised, in case of defeat, to open the gates and give them protection. But he probably had no real intention of doing so; certain it is, the gates remained closed while scores of Indians were cut down without mercy by the "Long Knives," {FN} even while huddled about the gates clamoring for admission. Thus it was that this fort, instead of being a place of refuge, became a delusion and a snare, and a veritable death trap to the routed Indians.
{FN} The name "Long Knives" had been given by the Indians to the American soldiers before this battle, but it was now revived as the Kentucky cavalry, who did much of the slaughter, were all armed with long swords.
General Wayne, in his official report, gave his killed as thirty-eight, and his wounded, one hundred and one. The loss of the Indians' could not be definitely ascertained, but, inasmuch as they had two thousand warriors engaged, it must have been great.
The formidable confederation of tribes was so completely crushed, they did not recover from the effects of it for twenty years. After destroying all the cornfields of the Indians for miles around, and laying waste all their towns, Wayne gave the savages to understand that their alternative was peace or destruction.
Seeing only starvation confronting them, and knowing, from sad experience, the folly of expecting aid from the British or Canadians, the Indians determined to make a treaty with Wayne in the summer of 1795. This was ratified at Greenville, Ohio, August 7. Red men were present to the number of eleven hundred and thirty, including a full delegation from every hostile tribe. By the conditions of this treaty the Indians solemnly covenanted to keep the peace, and agreed to cede to our Government a vast tract of land lying in the present States of Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.
The Government in its turn agreed to pay the tribes annuities aggregating nine thousand five hundred dollars, and acknowledge the Indian title to the remaining territories, probably with the usual mental reservation, until such time as the white men wanted to settle on it. In addition to this, all prisoners on both sides were to be restored.
Dawson, in his memoirs of General Harrison (who was educated in General Wayne's family), has given some interesting reminiscences respecting the conclusion of this peace. He states that Little Turtle took a decided part against the giving up of the large tract of country which General Wayne required on the part of the United States. This circumstance, however, was not unfavorable to the attainment of the object, as it was evident there was a violent jealousy of the Turtle among most of the Ottawas, Chippewas and Pottawatomies, so that they invariably opposed everything which he advocated. And as they and their friends constituted the majority of the council the Turtle was always in the minority. The superiority of his mind was conspicuous not only in their company, but in his deportment in the society of white people. All the chiefs were invited, in their turns, to the general's table, and on these occasions the most of them showed themselves still savages. But the Turtle seemed to readily adopt the ways of civilization, and, in comparison with his brother chiefs, was quite a gentleman.
After the peace was concluded, the Turtle settled upon Eel River, about twenty miles from Fort Wayne, where the Americans erected for him a comfortable house. He frequently visited the seat of government, both at Philadelphia and Washington. His taste for civilized life being observed, the Indian agents were desired by the Government to furnish him with every reasonable accommodation for his comfortable subsistence, hoping that the example might prove beneficial in their exertions to civilize the other Indians.
Thatcher informs us that, "These indulgences, however, entirely destroyed, for a time at least, the Turtle's influence among the savages; for some envied his good fortune and others suspected his honesty. Being perfectly sensible of this, and not a little chagrined by it, we may fairly presume that he made various attempts to recover his popularity. This was probably the secret of his opposition to the interests of the United States, on more occasions than one, where it was not altogether indispensable. But we certainly need not deny him on that account the credit of real patriotism, which he manifested at all times. The truth is that in some indifferent cases, when he might have yielded to the demands of the American authorities without disgrace, he opposed them chiefly for the sake of retaining or regaining his influence with his countrymen."
Schoolcraft, who speaks of Little Turtle in very complimentary terms, gives him the credit of doing at least as much as any other Indian in America "to abolish the rites of human sacrifice." By this he means the torture of prisoners, especially burning them at the stake. In this he is undoubtedly right, for the Turtle uniformly enjoyed the reputation of being as humane as he was brave. No prisoner was ever reserved for torture by his warriors.
Nor was this the only case in which he acted the part of a reformer, so much needed among his countrymen. He was the first chief to originate an efficient system of measures for the suppression of intemperance among his people. And never was a similar system so loudly called for, for the condition of his people was truly deplorable. The Turtle was no less mortified than incensed by these abuses. He saw his countrymen destroyed, and destroying each other, every day in peace, and no tribe was more besotted than the Eel River Miamis; and he saw hundreds of them in war, at one time, surprised and massacred in their cups without resistance, like sheep assailed by wolves, on the very ground still red and wet with his victories. Possibly chagrin was as strong a motive with him as philanthropy. But, however that might be, he devoted himself with his usual energy to the correction of the evil. In 1802, or 1803, he went before the Legislature of Kentucky, attended by his friend and interpreter, Captain Wells, {FN} and made his appeal to them in person. A committee was appointed to consider the subject, and we believe a law was passed to prevent the sale of whisky to the Indians, as he desired. He also visited the Legislature of Ohio, and made a highly animated address. His description of the Indian traders was drawn from life, when he said, "They stripped the poor Indian of skins, gun, blanket, everything—while his squaw and the children dependent on him lay starving and shivering in his wigwam." Thatcher informs us that nothing came of this eloquent speech except the empty honor of addressing that august body.
{FN} This Captain William Wells, when a lad, was captured with four others while hunting near Louisville, Kentucky. The Indians conveyed them to Indiana. Afterward Wells was taken to a village of the Miamis in Ohio, and, on being adopted into the tribe became a brother-in-law to Little Turtle. He afterward left the Indians to become one of Wayne's scouts, and was killed at the Fort Dearborn massacre in 1812. He left a family of half breed children, and for him Wells street, Chicago, is named.
Little Turtle seems to have been an all-round reformer. He it was who first introduced the practice of inoculation for the prevention of smallpox among the Indians—a scourge second only to whisky, as we learn from the European (London) Magazine, of April, 1802. The article was compiled from American papers, and made this statement: "Last winter, there was a grand embassy of Indians to the President and Congress at Washington. Little Turtle was the head warrior. The President had supplied them with plows, spinning-wheels, etc., and to crown all he explained to them how the Great Spirit had made a donation to the white men—first to one in England (Dr. Jenner), and then to one in America (Dr. Waterhouse, of Boston)—of a means of preventing the smallpox. Such a confidence had the copper-colored King in the words of his 'Father,' that he submitted to be inoculated, together with the rest of the warriors. It further appears that he took a quantity of the vaccine matter home with him, which he probably administered in person not long afterward fifteen more of his tribe visited the seat of government in pursuit of the same remedy."
We shall conclude our sketch of this eminent chief with a few anecdotes preserved by Mr. Dawson:
"What distinguished him most," says that writer, "was his ardent desire to be informed of all that relates to our institutions; and he seemed to possess a mind capable of understanding and valuing the advantages of civilized life, in a degree far superior to any other Indian of his time. During the frequent visits which he made to the seat of government, he examined everything he saw with an inquisitive eye, and never failed to embrace every opportunity to acquire information by inquiring of those with whom he could take that liberty.
"Upon his return from Philadelphia, in 1797, he visited Governor Harrison, at that time a captain in the army, and commander at Fort Washington. He told the captain he had seen many things, which he wished to have explained, but said he was afraid of giving offense by asking too many questions. 'My friend here,' said he, meaning Captain Wells, the interpreter, 'being about as ignorant as myself, could give me but little satisfaction.' He then desired the captain to inform him how our Government was formed, and what particular powers and duties were exercised by the two houses of Congress, by the President, the Secretaries, etc. Being satisfied on this subject, he told the captain he had become acquainted with a great warrior while in Philadelphia, in whose fate he was much interested and whose history he wished to learn. This was no other than the immortal Kosciusko; he had arrived at Philadelphia a short time before, and hearing that a celebrated Indian chief was in the city, he sent for him. They were mutually pleased with each other, and the Turtle's visits were often repeated. When he went to take his final leave of the wounded patriot, the latter presented Little Turtle with an elegant pair of pistols, and a splendid robe, made of sea otter's skin, worth several hundred dollars.
"The Turtle now told his host that he wished very much to know in what wars his friend had received those grievous wounds which had rendered him so crippled and infirm. The captain showed him, upon a map of Europe, the situation of Poland, and explained to him the usurpations of its territory by the neighboring powers—the exertions of Kosciusko to free his country from this foreign yoke—his first victories, and his final defeat and captivity. While he was describing the last unsuccessful battle of Kosciusko, the Turtle seemed scarcely able to contain himself. At the conclusion he traversed the room with great agitation, violently flourished the pipe tomahawk which he had been smoking, and exclaimed, 'Let that woman take care of herself'—meaning the Empress Catharine—'this may yet be a dangerous man!'
"The captain explained to the Turtle some anecdotes respecting the Empress and her favorites, one of whom—the King of Poland—had at first been by her elevated to the throne and afterward driven from it. He was much astonished to find that men, and particularly warriors, would submit to a woman. He said that perhaps if his friend Kosciusko had been a portly, handsome man, he might have had better success with her majesty of all the Russias, and might by means of a love-intrigue have obtained that independence for his country, to which his skill and valor in the field had been found unequal.
"The Turtle was fond of joking, and was possessed of considerable talent for repartee. In the year 1797 he lodged in a house in Philadelphia, in which was an Irish gentleman of considerable wit, who became much attached to the Indian and frequently amused himself in drawing out his wit by good-humored jests. The Turtle and this gentleman were at that time both sitting for their portraits—the former by order of the President of the United States, the picture to be hung up in the war-office—to the celebrated Stewart. The two meeting one morning in the painter's studio, the Turtle appeared to be rather more thoughtful than usual. The Irishman rallied him upon it, and affected to construe it into an acknowledgment of his superiority in the jocular contest. 'He mistakes,' said the Turtle to the interpreter, 'I was just thinking of proposing to this man, to paint us both on one board, and here I would stand face to face with him, and berate him to all eternity.'"
Little Turtle opposed the designs of Tecumseh and the Prophet, from the time of their first appearance on the political stage, and it was owing to his influence that very little was effected by them among the Miamis, as well as other tribes, for a long time. Had he lived through the war of 1812, he would undoubtedly have exerted himself more energetically for the American interest than ever before. The following communication indicates the part he was prepared to take, subsequent to the battle of Tippecanoe. The "witness" probably acted as amanuensis:
"Fort Wayne, 25th Jan., 1812.
Governor Harrison:
"My friend,—I have been requested by my nation to speak to you, and obey their request with pleasure, because I believe their situation requires all the aid I can afford them.
"When your speech by Mr. Dubois was received by the Miamis, they answered it, and I made known to you their opinion at that time.
"Your letter to William Wells, of the 23d November last, has been explained to the Miamis and Eel River tribes of Indians.
"My friend, although neither of these tribes have had anything to do with the late unfortunate affair which happened on the Wabash, still they all rejoice to hear you say, that if those foolish Indians which were engaged in that action would return to their several homes and remain quiet, that they would be pardoned, and again received by the President as his children. We believe there is none of them that will be so foolish as not to accept of this friendly offer; whilst, at the same time, I assure you, that nothing shall be wanting on my part to prevail on them to accept it.
"All the Prophet's followers have left him (with the exception of two camps of his own tribe); Tecumseh has just joined him with eight men only. No danger can be apprehended from them at present. Our eyes will be constantly kept on them, and should they attempt to gather strength again, we will do all in our power to prevent it, and at the same time give you immediate information of their intentions.
"We are sorry that the peace and friendship which has so long existed between the red and white people, could not be preserved, without the loss of so many good men as fell on both sides in the late action on the Wabash; but we are satisfied that it will be the means of making that peace which ought to exist between us more respected, both by the red and the white people.
"We have been lately told by different Indians from that quarter, that you wished the Indians from this country to visit you; this they will do with pleasure when you give them information of it in writing.
"My friend, the clouds appear to be rising in a different quarter, which threatens to turn our light into darkness. To prevent this, it may require the united efforts of us all. We hope that none of us will be found to shrink from the storm that threatens to burst upon our nations.
                                       "Your friend.
            "(X) Mischecanocquah, {FN} or Little Turtle,
            For the Miami and Eel River tribes of Indians.
      Witness, Wm. Turner, Surgeon's Mate, U. S. Army.
     I certify that the above is a true translation.
                                            Wm. Wells."
{FN} Written also Michikiniqua
We thus find that the Turtle's sympathies were with the Americans in the war of 1812, which was about to burst forth in all its fury. But he was not destined to be an active participant in the stirring scenes that succeeded.
He died while on a visit to the commandant at Fort Wayne, July 14, 1812, deeply deplored by the whites as well as his own people.
His last disease, according to the report of the army surgeon, was gout, and from it he was a great sufferer, but he endured it "with the characteristic composure of his race." He died on the turf of his open camp and was buried by his friend, the commandant, with honors of war.
He was said to be sixty-five years of age by those who had the opportunity of learning the fact from himself. That account would make him forty-five at the time of his great victory over St. Clair; and about thirty at the breaking out of the American Revolution, during which he no doubt laid the foundation of his fame. It is known that the Miamis gave as much trouble during that period as any other tribe on the continent ever did in as few years, and the Turtle was then their rising young chief.
There is one other story of Little Turtle which is too good to omit. When the celebrated French traveler, Volney, made the acquaintance of the Turtle he asked what prevented him from living among the whites, and if he were not more comfortable in Philadelphia than upon the banks of the Wabash? To which he replied, "Taking all things together, you have the advantage over us; but here I am deaf and dumb. I do not talk your language; I can neither hear nor make myself heard. When I walk through the streets, I see every person in his shop employed about something, one makes shoes, and another hats, a third sells cloth, and every one lives by his labor. I say to myself, 'which of all these things can you do?' Not one. I can make a bow or an arrow, catch fish, kill game and go to war; but none of these are of any use here. To learn what is done here would require a long time. Old age comes on. I should be a piece of furniture, useless to my nation, useless to the whites and useless to myself. I must return to my own country."
Savage and heathen as he was, because of his environment, he always had an intense longing for better conditions for himself and people; which goes to prove that Little Turtle was one of nature's noblemen.


©英文小说网 2005-2010

有任何问题,请给我们留言,管理员邮箱:tinglishi@gmail.com  站长QQ :点击发送消息和我们联系56065533