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 X.
选择底色: 选择字号:【大】【中】【小】
Judged from whatever standpoint you will, the subject of this sketch was certainly one of the greatest, if not the very greatest American Indian.
The name Tecumseh means "The Shooting Star," and it was very appropriate, and seems to have been prophetical of his meteoric career and brilliant genius, to say nothing of his numerous journeys to distant tribes, which were accomplished with incredible speed.
This great chief was born at the old Indian town of Piqua, Ohio, on the Mad River, in 1768.
His father, a Shawnee chief named Puckeshinwan, was killed in the battle of Kanawha, in 1774.
His mother was thought to have been a Creek or Cherokee. Her name was Methoataske, and she is said to have been a comely, intelligent and very respectable woman.
There is a story that he and his brother, Elskwatawa, the Prophet, were twins, and even that a third brother, Kumshaka, were the offspring of the same mother at the same birth, though, according to one account, the Prophet and a twin brother were some years younger than Tecumseh. Eggleston is of the opinion that the Prophet and a twin brother were born in 1771.
We hear little or nothing of Kumshaka, and the presumption is that he died young.
There were seven children in this interesting family, two others—Cheeseekau, the oldest brother, and Menewaula-Koosee, or Tecumapease, the name given to her later in life, according to the Indian usage, to signify her relationship to the great Tecumseh—were also famous.
His father's death occurring when Tecumseh was but six years old, he was placed under the charge of his oldest brother, Cheeseekau. The latter was a brave man, of noble character. His chief occupation and care was the proper training of the young Tecumseh, who was early recognized as the hope of the family, and coming leader of his people.
                "Skilled in all the games of hunters,
                Learned in all the lore of old men
                In all youthful sports and pastimes.
                In all manly arts and labors."
It was this same older brother who, by constant and zealous labor, imbued his mind with a love for truth, a ready generosity, a manly courage in battle, and a dignified fortitude in suffering. He also drilled him in the art of eloquence, and wrought into his mind the idea which afterward became the inspiration of the great chieftain—that of the salvation of his people from the white man.
Tecumseh always cherished the warmest affection for his only sister, Tecumapease. She is described as being "sensible, kind-hearted and uniformly exemplary in her conduct," and must have been an attractive person, with a commanding character, for she is known to have exercised a remarkable influence over the females of her tribe. She was married to a brave called Wasegoboah, or Stand Firm. The mutual affection between the brother and sister continued through life. She was always his favorite. The first fruits of the chase belonged to Tecumapease. The choicest presents of the white man to Tecumseh, or the best of his share of the spoils of war. became trophies for his sister.
Educated by the care of his elder brother, and cherished by the affection of a noble sister, Tecumseh grew to manhood.
War was his ruling passion even in his earlier years. He soon became a recognized leader of his companions. Mimic combats and sham battles were his favorite sports. While his brother, the Prophet, remained at home engaged in idle and disreputable intrigues, Tecumseh followed the hunters in their chase and the war parties on their way to battle. The Indian warfare which raged during his earlier years made a great impression on his mind. He must have heard, around the camp-fires, the stories of the Indian conflicts of the Revolution, the genius of Brant, the murder of Cornstalk, the massacre of the Moravian Indians, as well as stories of the great Pontiac and his far-reaching confederacy. These were the things upon which his youthful imagination was nourished.
Tecumseh was only sixteen years of age when he took part in his first battle, near where the city of Dayton, Ohio, now stands. It is said that the boy took fright and fled. A similar story is told of the great Seneca chief, Red Jacket, and of Frederick the Great. But, if true, it is the only time he was ever guilty of such weakness.
Shortly after this he participated in an attack on a flatboat descending the Ohio River. At this time he fought like a young lion, completely wiping out the stain of cowardice. All the boatmen were killed but one, who was reserved for torture. Strange to say, since it could not have been an unusual occurrence, the young warrior had never before witnessed such a scene. Filled with horror, he remonstrated against the practice with such eloquence that all agreed that they would never burn another prisoner. From that time forth no prisoners were burned by any war party of which Tecumseh was a member.
When he was nineteen years of age, Tecumseh and Cheeseekau took a long journey to the South. This, the older brother believed, would tend to enlarge the understanding of his pupil with general ideas. They traveled as far as the country of the Creeks and Cherokees, and found the latter engaged in a war with the whites.
The two brothers and their band of warriors at once enlisted in the struggle. In an attack on a certain fort Cheeseekau led the charge. Just before the attack he told his followers that in the conflict he would be shot in the forehead and killed. The premonition was verified literally, for he fell, pierced by a bullet midway between the eyes. As he fell mortally wounded upon the battlefield he exclaimed with his expiring breath, "Happy am I to thus fall in battle, and not die in a wigwam like an old squaw." The Indians, panic-stricken at the fall of their leader, as well as the fulfillment of the prophecy, fled in all directions.
After the fall of Cheeseekau the band of warriors chose Tecumseh, though the youngest of the party, as their leader. To show himself worthy of this honor Tecumseh took ten men, and going to the nearest white settlement attacked and killed all the men and took the women and children prisoners. No expedition was thought complete without Tecumseh, and his military genius won him great renown.
One night Tecumseh, with a dozen warriors, was encamped on the Alabama River. All of the men had lain down for the night except the young chief, who was dressing some meat by the fire. Suddenly the camp was attacked by thirty white men. With a shrill cry Tecumseh roused every warrior to his feet. Their leader at their head, the Indians rushed furiously toward a certain point in the circle formed by their foes. Two white men were killed outright, and the others, giving way before the impetuous charge, suffered Tecumseh and his band to break through and make their way to their boats.
After an absence from Ohio of three years, during which Tecumseh had many adventures, and visited all the Southern tribes, he returned to his people in the fall of 1790.
During his absence General Harmar had been defeated and his army cut to pieces by the Indians under the famous Miami chief, Little Turtle, and the Shawnee sachem, Blue Jacket.
He was in time, however, to take part in the defeat of General St. Clair by the Indians under Little Turtle, which was the most decisive victory ever gained by the American Indians. Tecumseh was also present at the battle of Fallen Timbers, so called because the battlefield was covered with fallen forest trees, wrecked by some tornado. It was in this battle that Mad Anthony Wayne crushed the Indian power of the Ohio Valley.
He did not attend the council of Greenville, when the treaty was made with the Indians, but remained at home in his wigwam, sullen and angry. He was at this time still quite young but a man of influence and importance in his nation, for Blue Jacket, the principal chief of the Shawnees, made haste to visit him on Deer Creek and explain the terms on which peace had been made.
He now gathered about him a band of warriors, of whom he became chief. These roving Shawnees, after moving several times, accepted an invitation from the Delawares and settled on the White River, in Indiana, in 1798. Here Tecumseh remained several years, peacefully occupied in hunting. During this time he was extending his influence among the different tribes, and adding to his band of followers.
Many incidents are related of him during his sojourn on the White River. He was a great hunter, partly as a matter of sport, and partly because it enabled him to give the highly prized venison to the sick and poor of his tribe. One day a number of young Shawnee Warriors wagered him that each of them could kill as many deer in a three days' hunt as he. Tecumseh quietly accepted the challenge, and the hunters made their preparations that evening for a start before daylight the next morning. At the end of the three days the crowd of boasters once more assembled around the camp-fire of their village. The largest number of deerskins brought in by any one of the party was twelve. Tecumseh brought with him thirty.
A characteristic anecdote is told of him while he and a party of Indians were on a visit to Ohio in 1803. It seems that a corpulent and cowardly Kentuckian was in the territory at the time for the purpose of exploring lands on the Mad River. He lodged one night at the house of Capt. 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. While the conversation was going on the door opened and Tecumseh stalked in with his dignified manner. He saluted Captain Barrett, and then, observing the agitated visitor, contemplated him scornfully for a minute or two, and turning to the host, and pointing to the agitated Kentuckian, he exclaimed: "A big baby!" "A big baby!" He stepped across the room and, patting the Kentuckian on the shoulder, repeated the contemptuous remark, "A big baby! Won't hurt you!" The stout Kentuckian was greatly alarmed, and all present amused.
In the year 1805 a portion of the Shawnee nation residing on the headwaters of the Auglaize River, wishing to reassemble 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 and join their brethren on the Auglaize River. To this proposition both parties assented; and the two bands met at Greenville, on their way thither. There, through the influence of Laulewasikaw, or the Loud Voice, Tecumseh's brother, they concluded to establish themselves; and accordingly the project of going to the Auglaize was abandoned.
This is the first incident recorded of Laulewasikaw. The name "Loud Voice" is thought to refer to his self-assertion and boastfulness, as much as to his really stentorian voice. It is thought that Tecumseh was behind his brother in influencing the two parties to unite together at Greenville, as it increased the number of his immediate followers.
It happened about this time that an old Shawnee Indian, by the name of Penagashega, or The-Change-of-Feathers, "who had for some years been engaged in the respectable calling of a prophet," fell sick and died. As soon as the news of the old prophet's death reached Laulewasikaw he rolled his eye (he had but one) piously toward heaven and fell on his face in a trance, and continued a long time motionless and apparently without any signs of life.
He was supposed to be dead and preparations were made for his burial. All the principal men of the tribe were assembled, and they were in the act of bearing him away to his grave, when he suddenly revived and uttered these words: "Be not alarmed—I have seen heaven. Call the tribe together, that I may reveal to them the whole of my vision." The tribe was accordingly collected together, and he proceeded to inform them that two beautiful young men had been sent from heaven by the Great Spirit, who addressed him in the following language: "The Great Spirit is angry with you, and will destroy all the red men, unless you abandon drunkenness, lying and stealing. If you will not do this and turn yourselves to him, you shall never enter the beautiful place which we will now show you."
He was then conducted to the gates of heaven, where he was indulged with a sight of all its glories, but not permitted to enter. After being tantalized in this manner for several hours he was ordered to return to the earth, to inform the Indians of what he had seen and urge them to repent of their vices, and they would visit him again. It was in consequence of this vision (?) that Elskwatawa assumed the name and functions of a prophet, and soon acquired an extraordinary celebrity. He established headquarters at Greenville and proclaimed himself a Prophet and Reformer in place of the departed Change-of-Feathers. Prophet wise, he now assumed a new name, that of Tenskwatawa, which signifies "The Open Door." This name pointed him out as a means of deliverance to his people.
He soon gathered around him a large band of adherents from the Shawnees, Delawares, Wyandots, Pottawatomies, Ottawas, Chippewas and Kickapoos. To these he boldly announced that the Great Spirit, who had made the red men, was not the same who had made the white men; and that all their misfortunes was due to the fact that they had forsaken the mode of life designed for them, and imitated the manners of the whites.
In this address he harangued against witchcraft, a thing much believed in by the Indians, and said that those who practiced it or remained bewitched could not enter heaven. He next denounced drunkenness, and stated on his journey to heaven the first place he came to was the dwelling of the Devil. Here he saw all who had died drunkards, with flames of fire issuing from their mouths. He admitted that previous to this he had himself been a drunkard, but his vision had frightened him so that he drank no more. Such was the effect of his preaching against this pernicious vice that many of his followers became alarmed and ceased to drink the "firewater," or "crazywater," as whisky was appropriately called by the Indians. He also preached earnestly against the intermarriage of whites and Indians, saying that this was one of the chief causes of their unhappiness. And yet he often boasted that his own grandparents were a noble Creek warrior, and the daughter of one of the Governors of South Carolina. But as there is not a scintilla of corroborative evidence we are forced to conclude that however truly the Prophet foretold the future, he lied about the past. The Prophet advocated a community of goods, an adjustment of things which would have well suited that indolent reformer. He also preached, what Tecumseh constantly practiced, the duty of the young to support and cherish the aged and infirm. He denounced innovations in the dress and habits of the red men, and appealed to their national pride, by boasting of the superiority of the Shawnees over other nations. He promised to his faithful adherents who would obey his injunctions all the comfort and happiness enjoyed by their ancestors, before the advent of the whites.
Finally he announced that the Great Spirit had given him power to confound his enemies, to cure all diseases, and to prevent death, either from sickness or on the battlefield.
There can be no doubt that the Prophet succeeded in deceiving himself, and was a firm believer in the methods and measures he advocated. Neither is there any doubt that Tecumseh's gradually developing schemes inspired and shaped the Prophet's plans. His was the master mind which controlled the tribes through the machinations of the Prophet.
Elskwatawa shared to some extent the great talents of his brother, but it might have been said of him: "His virtues another's, his faults were his own." He was neither courageous nor truthful, but cunning, shrewd and boastful. He equaled his famous brother in eloquence, and surpassed him in graceful manners.
Opposition was naturally made to the innovations of the new prophet by the neighboring chiefs, who felt that he sought to undermine their power. A course of fanatical persecution for witchcraft was begun, shocking in its cruelty and injustice, but only too much resembling something which occurred at Salem, among people of our own enlightened race.
The superstition of the Indians was so great that if the Prophet denounced some chief who opposed him as a wizard, a loss of reputation and perhaps of life ensued. Several Delawares were among the first victims. An old woman was denounced as a witch, and was called upon repeatedly to give up her charm and medicine-bag. She was put to the stake and burned. As she was dying, she exclaimed that her grandson, who was out hunting, had it. He was pursued and arrested. He confessed that he had borrowed the charm, and by means of it had flown through the air over Kentucky to the banks of the Mississippi and back again between twilight and bedtime. He insisted, however, that he had returned the charm to his grandmother, and was finally released.
On the following day an old chief named Teteboxti was accused of being a wizard. Knowing that his doom was fixed, the old man arrayed himself in his finest clothes and confronted the grim circle of inquisitors in the council-house. The trial was speedy. The sentence was passed. The old chief calmly assisted in the construction of his own funeral pile. Touched by his white hairs, the council became merciful. They voted to tomahawk him and burn his body afterward. This was done. A council was held over the wife of Teteboxti and his nephew, Billy Paterson. The latter died like a Christian, singing and praying. Preparations were then made for the burning of Teteboxti's wife when her brother, a young man of twenty, suddenly started up and bravely led her by the hand out of the house. He returned to the amazed council and said "The Devil" (alluding to the Prophet), "has come among us, and we are killing each other." He then reseated himself. This seemed to break the spell and to awaken the Indians to a realization of what they were doing, and put a stop for a time to further persecution among the Delawares.
But with other tribes the witchcraft delusion continued, until Governor Harrison was justly alarmed. He knew that although the Indians had been quiet for ten years, and no ordinary leader could rouse them, yet deceived by a mask of religion, they might once more plunge the frontiers into bloody war. Moreover, his sympathies were touched by the stories of the poor wretches doomed to a horrible death by this strange delusion. Accordingly he sent the Indians an earnest letter, urging them in the name of the Seventeen Fires (States) to drive out the Prophet, and boldly asserted that the latter was a fraud. He told the Indians that the pretender could work no miracles. "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."
But this letter did not accomplish the end desired. For a time, it is true, the persecutions entirely ceased, but the influence of the Prophet was increased by his accepting Governor Harrison's challenge to work miracles. Hearing by chance from an educated white man that an eclipse of the sun would occur on a certain day, he boldly announced that on such a day he would cause darkness to cover the sun. The reports of this prophecy, and the fact that he had accepted the Governor's challenge, spread abroad, and on the appointed day there was a large body of Indians, from all the neighboring tribes, assembled.
An hour before noon the Prophet, dressed with dazzling splendor, came out of his wigwam, and strode with slow and stately steps toward the center of the large circle. Extending his right arm and turning his face toward the heavens, he pronounced an unintelligible incantation. As he proceeded a disc of darkness was observed to be slowly appearing upon the edge of the sun. The eyes of the vast assemblage were turned from the Prophet toward the phenomenon. As the moments progressed the dark spot enlarged. It grew darker and darker. The multitude was thrilled with awe. Not a few believed the end of the world was at hand. The deep shadows, the darkened air, the increasing obscurity, which at sunset would have attracted no attention, occurring in the middle of the day, with the sun in high heaven, seemed portentous and awful. The Prophet alone remained calm. At the moment of total eclipse he cried out in a loud voice, "Behold! did I not prophesy truly? Darkness has come over the sun as I told you."
Tecumseh Rebukes Proctor
The reports of this miracle (?) gave a wonderful impulse to the fame of the Prophet. Tecumseh now appeared on the scene. He took care to lend the aid of his powerful name and influence to the Prophet by an ostentatious reverence. The latter returned the compliment by pointing out Tecumseh as the leader chosen by the Great Spirit to save the Indians. The brothers were thus a mutual benefit. The Indians were fired with fanaticism and eager for a fight under such heaven-appointed leaders.
The whites were alarmed. The ever increasing throng of savages about Tecumseh and his brother seemed ready to break out into violence. At a council in Ohio, Tecumseh made a three hours' speech. He reviewed all the treaties with the white men, and undertook to prove that all had been broken by the enemies of his people. The Indians were roused to a perfect frenzy by his fiery eloquence.
In the spring of 1808 the Pottawatomies and Kickapoos granted the two brothers and their band a tract of land on the Tippecanoe, one of the tributaries of the Wabash River in western Indiana. Here they established a village, which came to be known as the Prophet's town. They drew around them a large body of Indians from a number of tribes. The Prophet's followers now for the first time began to combine warlike sports with their religious exercises, showing that Tecumseh's genius for war was gradually predominating over the Prophet's religious fanaticism. The great plan to which Tecumseh now devoted all his genius and energies was nothing less than a mighty confederation of all the Indian tribes, to drive the white men beyond the Alleghenies.
As the great scheme took shape in his mind it became less and less that of a mere temporary alliance, such as Pontiac had sought; and more and more that of a "great and permanent confederation, an empire of red men, of which Tecumseh should be the leader and Emperor." For about four years he traveled incessantly in the propagation of his enterprise. Now he visited the farthest extremity of Lake Superior. At another time he passed through the unknown regions beyond the Mississippi. Again he labored with the Creeks of the South, securing Red Eagle, or Weatherford, as his most illustrious convert.
In 1810 it was reported that Tecumseh controlled more than sixteen hundred warriors. The National Government became alarmed, for it was evident that the exposed settlements of Indiana were in danger.
In September, 1809, a treaty was concluded at Fort Wayne, between the Delawares, Miamis and Pottawatomies, and General Harrison, Governor of the territory and Commissioner on the part of the United States. By this treaty the Indians ceded to the Government a tract of land extending sixty miles along the Wabash above Vincennes. This was done without the advice or knowledge of Tecumseh, and neither the Prophet nor any of his followers were present during the transaction. They had no claim on the land in question, it having been in the legal possession of the Miamis time out of mind, while the Shawnees were only sojourners. The chiefs of the other tribes attended the council, and advised the cession, and the transaction was in every respect regular and equitable from the white man's stand-point. Yet Tecumseh, who had been absent during the negotiations on a mission of intrigue among the different tribes, was inflamed with anger when he returned and heard what had been done. He openly threatened to kill the chiefs who had signed the treaty, and declared his determination to prevent the land from being surveyed and occupied by the Americans. Harrison being informed of this sent Mr. Dubois to Prophet's Town to discover more fully, if possible, the designs of the brothers. The messenger was kindly received, but nothing was accomplished. To the suggestion that he should go to Vincennes and present his complaints to the Governor, the Prophet replied, "The Great Spirit has fixed the spot for the Indian to kindle his camp-fire, and he dare not go to any other. Elskwatawa's and his brother Tecumseh's must be on the banks of the Tippecanoe, or the Great Spirit will be angry with them. Evil birds have carried false news to my father, the Governor. Let him not believe that Elskwatawa, the Prophet, wishes to make war upon him and his people." This ended the interview.
Shortly after this Governor Harrison sent Mr. Baron, with a letter to Tippecanoe. When this messenger reached the Prophet's town he was received in a very dramatic fashion. He was first conducted ceremoniously to the place where the Prophet, surrounded by a number of Indians, was seated. "The Prophet looked at me," said Mr. Baron, "for several minutes, without speaking or making any sign of recognition, although he knew me well. At last, in a tone expressive of anger and scorn, he said: 'For what purpose do you come here? Bronilette was here; he was a spy. Dubois was here; he was a spy. Now you have come; you, too, are a spy. There is your grave! Look on it!' The Prophet then pointed to the ground near the spot where I stood!"
From a lodge near by issued the majestic form of Tecumseh, who said in a cold and haughty tone: "Your life is in no danger. Say why you have come among us." The messenger, in reply, read the letter from Governor Harrison urging them to submit to the Government.
"I know your warriors are brave," the Governor wrote, "but ours are not less so. What can a few brave warriors do against the innumerable warriors of the Seventeen Fires? Our blue-coats are more numerous than you can count; our hunters are like the leaves of the forest, or the grains of sand on the Wabash. Do not think that the red-coats can protect you; they are not able to protect themselves. They do not think of going to war with us. If they did, you would in a few moons see our flag wave over all the forts of Canada. What reason have you to complain of the Seventeen Fires? Have they taken anything from you? Have they ever violated the treaties made with the red men? You say they have purchased lands from those who had no right to sell them. Show that this is so and the land will be instantly restored. Show us the rightful owners. I have full power to arrange this business; but if you would rather carry your complaints before your great father at Washington, you shall be indulged."
Pleased with this letter, Tecumseh said that he would now go to Vincennes and show the Governor that he had been listening to bad men when he was told that the Indians wished to make war. He had never been to see the Governor, but remembered him as a very young man riding beside General Wayne. Thirty of his principal men, he said, would attend him, but the party would probably be larger, as many of the young men would wish to go.
Notwithstanding the request which the Governor made, on hearing this, that but few should come, four hundred descended the Wabash on the 12th of August. Painted in the most terrific manner, and armed with tomahawks, they were well prepared for war in case of an attack.
Governor Harrison had made arrangements for holding the council on the portico of his own house, {FN} and here, attended by civil and military officers, a small guard of soldiers and many citizens of Vincennes, he awaited the arrival of Tecumseh. It was the 15th of August, 1810. At the appointed hour, Tecumseh, attended by about forty warriors, made his appearance, with much dancing and various curious incantations by the Prophet. Advancing within thirty or forty yards of the house, the chief suddenly halted, as if awaiting some movement on the part of the Governor. An interpreter was sent to invite him and his followers to the portico, but Tecumseh declined this invitation, saying that he thought a grove near by, to which he pointed as he spoke, was a more suitable place. The Governor yielded the point, chairs and benches were removed to the grove, but the Indians, according to their habit, sat upon the grass.
{FN} The old Harrison mansion is still standing at Vincennes, and was seen by the author a few years ago.
The council was opened by Tecumseh, who stated his position on the irritating question between the whites and his race. Referring to the treaty made by the Governor at Fort Wayne the previous year, he boldly declared that he was determined to fight against the cession of lands by the Indians unless assented to by all the tribes acting in concert.
He admitted that he had threatened to kill the chiefs who signed the Fort Wayne treaty, and furthermore, he did not intend to let the village chiefs manage their affairs longer, but would place the power heretofore vested in them in the hands of the war-chiefs. The Americans had driven the Indians from the seacoast, and would soon drive them into the lakes; and while he disowned any intention of making war upon the United States, he asserted in the most emphatic language, that he would oppose any further intrusion of the whites upon their lands. He made a summary of the wrongs his people had suffered from the close of the Revolution to that day. It was plain that this appeal "struck fire" in the hearts of his own people, who would have followed his commands to the death.
Having finished his speech, Tecumseh turned to seat himself, when he observed that no chair had been provided for him. Governor Harrison immediately ordered one, and, as the interpreter handed it to him, he said, "Your father requests you to be seated." "My father?" said Tecumseh; "the sun is my father and the earth is my mother, on her bosom will I repose;" and drawing his blanket about him with as much dignity as a Roman Senator would his toga, he seated himself among his warriors on the ground. We challenge the world to produce a more eloquent sentence than this.
Replying to this address, Governor Harrison declared that the Indians were not one nation, having a common property in the land. The Miamis were the real owners of the tract on the Wabash, ceded by the late treaty, and the Shawnees had no business to interfere, since, on the arrival of the whites in this country, they had found the Miamis in possession of the land, the Shawnees at that time being residents of Georgia. It was absurd to contend that the Indians constituted one nation, for had such been the will of the Great Spirit, he would not have given them different languages.
The interpretation of this speech to Tecumseh threw him into a terrible rage. He sprang to his feet and began speaking in a loud and angry manner. The Governor did not understand his language, but General Gibson, who was present, did, and he remarked to the Governor: "Those fellows intend mischief you had better bring up the guard." At the same instant the whole forty warriors grasped their tomahawks, leaped to their feet and glared at the Governor. Harrison leaped to his feet and drew his sword. Capt. G. R. Floyd, of the army, who stood near him, drew a dirk, and the chief, Winnemac, a friendly Indian, cocked his pistol. The citizens present who were unarmed, seized clubs and brick-bats, while Rev. Mr. Winans, of the Methodist Church, ran to the Governor's house, got a gun, and posted himself at the door to defend the family. During this scene, no one spoke, until the guard came running up, and appearing to be in the act of firing, the Governor ordered them not to do so. He then demanded of the interpreter an explanation of what had happened, who replied that Tecumseh had interrupted him, declaring that all the Governor had said was false; and that he and the Seventeen Fires (States) had cheated and imposed on the Indians.
The Governor then told Tecumseh that he was a bad man, and that he would hold no further communication with him, that as he had come to Vincennes under the protection of a council-fire, he might return in safety, but that he must immediately leave the village. Here the council terminated.
That night two companies of militia were brought into the town, and the one belonging there was made ready for the expected attack. Next morning Tecumseh sent an apology to the Governor for his hasty action. He begged another interview and declared that he did not intend to attack him, and said that certain white men were the instigators of the whole thing. In the light of subsequent events, the last statement was true, and those white men were British officers.
Governor Harrison consented to meet him again the next day, and this time Tecumseh comported himself with dignity and courtesy. In the course of the talk, the Governor asked the sachem whether he would oppose the survey of the lands. To which he replied that nothing could shake the determination of himself and followers to insist on the old boundary. When he sat down, his leading chiefs followed with the declaration that the Wyandots, Kickapoos, Pottawatomies, Ottawas and Winnebagos had entered the Shawnee league and would stand by Tecumseh to the end.
Harrison said he would make known this decision to the President, but he was certain that the claim of Tecumseh would never be acknowledged, as the land in question was bought from the Miamis, the original owners, who alone had the right to sell.
On the following day the Governor visited Tecumseh in his camp, attended only by the interpreter, and was very politely received. A long conversation followed, in the course of which the chieftain repeated his sentiments expressed in the council. He viewed the policy of the United States, in purchasing the lands from the Indians, as a mighty flood, which, unless checked, would drown all his people. The confederacy which he had formed to prevent such sales without the consent of all the tribes was the dam he was building to resist the flood. He added that he should be reluctant to take part in a war with the Seventeen Fires, and if the Governor would induce the President to give up the lands lately purchased, and agree never to make another treaty for land without the consent of all the tribes, he would be their faithful ally, and assist them in the war, which he knew was about to take place with England; but if this was not done, he would be compelled to unite with the British, who were very anxious to enlist his warriors for allies. The Governor replied that he would make known his views to the President, but there was no hope of their being agreed to.
"Well," said Tecumseh, "as the Great Chief is to settle the matter, I hope the Great Spirit will put enough sense into his head to cause him to give up the land; it is true, he is so far off he will not be injured by the war; he may sit still in his town and drink his wine, while you and I will have to fight it out."
This prophecy, it will be seen, was literally fulfilled, and the great chieftain attested that fulfillment with his blood. The Governor, as he was about to leave, proposed to Tecumseh that in the event of war between the Indians and the United States, he would use his influence to put an end to the cruel mode of warfare which the Indians were accustomed to wage upon prisoners or helpless women and children. To this he cheerfully consented; and, to his everlasting credit, it is recorded that he faithfully kept the pledge.
Tecumseh must have known that his demands would never be acceded to by the United States, for from this time forward the attitude of himself and brother became distinctively hostile. The great war-belt was sent around to the neighboring tribes, who were invited to join in a confederacy to "confine the great water" and prevent it from overflowing them. The matchless eloquence and sagacity of Tecumseh brought most of the tribes into the alliance.
In the spring of 1811 Governor Harrison sent a boat up the Wabash loaded with salt for the Indians, that article constituting a part of their annuity. Five barrels were to be left with the Prophet, for the Kickapoos and Shawnees. Upon the arrival of the boat at Tippecanoe, the Prophet called a council, by which it was decided to seize all the salt. This was accordingly done; though the year previous the Prophet had refused to take any.
When Governor Harrison referred to the seizure of this salt, at the next council held with the Indians, Tecumseh hissed back to him, that the Governor was hard to please; he was angry at one time when the Indians took no salt and another year because they did take it.
The Prophet
The last council with Tecumseh was held at Vincennes July 27, 1811, but nothing was accomplished. The chasm could not be bridged, since neither of the parties concerned would yield a point. War must come. Two days after the council adjourned the great chieftain set off on a journey to the South.
In a letter to the War Department, just after this council, Governor Harrison speaks of "the implicit obedience and respect which the followers of Tecumseh pay to him," as wonderful. He says: "If it were not for the vicinity of the United States, he would perhaps be the founder of an empire that would rival in glory Mexico or Peru. No difficulties deter him. For four years he has been in constant motion. You see him to-day on the Wabash, and in a short time hear of him on the shores of Lake Erie or Michigan, or on the banks of the Mississippi; and wherever he goes he makes an impression favorable to his purpose. He is now upon the last round to put a finishing stroke to his work. I hope, however, before his return, that that part of the work which he considered complete will be demolished, and even its foundation rooted up."
Tecumseh visited the Choctaws, Creeks or Muskogees, Seminoles and other tribes. His success was marvelous. There seemed no resisting his persuasive eloquence. In most instances the determination was unanimous to dig up the hatchet whenever he was ready for them.
Like other great generals, Tecumseh gave close attention to details. He invented a calendar showing the exact day on which they were to strike the white settlements. This he did by making little bundles of sticks painted red. Each bundle contained sticks equal to the number of days that would pass before the one arrived which he had indicated to them. Every morning they were to throw away a stick. Thus it was that the Seminoles, in the war which followed, became widely known under the name of "Red Sticks." Tecumseh also directed the Indians, that should the question be asked, why he had come so far? to answer, that he had advised them to till the soil, to abstain from the use of "firewater," and to live peacefully with the white people.
At Tuckabatchee, Alabama, Tecumseh addressed the council of the Creek nation, but met a silent opponent in the principal chief, Big Warrior. He at once divined the feelings of this chief. Angrily stamping his foot on the ground, he looked into the eyes of Big Warrior and said: "Your blood is white. You have taken my talk and the sticks, and the wampum, and the hatchet, but you do not mean to fight. I know the reason. You do not believe the Great Spirit has sent me. You shall know. I leave Tuckabatchee directly and shall go straight to Detroit; when I arrive there, I will stamp on the ground with my foot and shake down every house in Tuckabatchee." This was a wild threat, and Big Warrior was dumbfounded. He and his people were superstitious and began to dread Tecumseh's arrival at Detroit. They often met, talked over the strange affair, and actually tried to compute the time it would take the great chieftain to reach that town. When the morning of the day fixed upon arrived, an awful rumbling of the ground was heard; the earth began to shake and down came the flimsy lodges. The frantic Indians ran to and fro shouting: "Tecumseh has got to Detroit!" The threat had been fulfilled and the warriors no longer hesitated to go to war with the great leader.
All this was produced by the historical earthquake of New Madrid, on the Mississippi. Strange as it may seem, it is said to have taken place the very day Tecumseh reached Detroit, and in exact fulfillment of his threat.
During the absence of Tecumseh in the South, the Indians at Prophet's Town were so warlike and aggressive that Governor Harrison determined to march to that place and settle the difficulties with the Indians, or break up their rendezvous.
Accordingly, on September 26, 1811, at the head of nine hundred troops, he started on this expedition. Six days afterward the army encamped on the eastern bank of the Wabash, two miles above the present bustling city of Terre Haute. Here a log fort was constructed, and named by the soldiers Fort Harrison.
Leaving a small guard at the new fort, the troops advanced along the east bank of the Wabash, until they passed Big Raccoon Creek. Here it was determined to cross to the other side of the river, to avoid a dense woody shore, where there was danger of ambush. This was effected at a point near the town of Montezuma, Indiana. Advancing still further, at the mouth of the Vermilion River he built a block-house to protect his boats and heavy baggage, and proceeded thence to the immediate vicinity of the Prophet's town. He was desirous of attacking this as soon as possible, because he knew that Tecumseh might return any day.
The army encamped for the night about three-quarters of a mile from the Prophet's town on the now famous Tippecanoe battleground, seven miles northeast of the city of Lafayette. The place was a beautiful spot of timber-land, about ten feet higher than the marshy prairie in front, which stretched away toward the Prophet's town, and nearly twice that height above a similar prairie, on the other side, across which sluggishly flowed a small stream, its course marked by willows and brushwood.
At this point he was met by ambassadors, who asked that the white men refrain from hostilities until the following day, when a peace talk could be had. Harrison, however, was too prudent to be deluded into a belief that no danger threatened. The army settled itself for the night in order of battle, the men sleeping on their arms. Notwithstanding the truce those of the soldiers experienced in Indian warfare fully expected an attack before morning light.
Meanwhile the Indians were by no means idle. All night long the chiefs sat in council. A dozen different plans for the attack were proposed. At one time it was decided to meet the whites in council on the next day, agree to their proposals, and withdraw, leaving behind two Winnebagos, who were to rush forward and assassinate the Governor. This was to be the signal for battle. Later in the night, which was dark and rainy, the plan was changed. The Prophet, mixing some mysterious concoction of "hell-broth," pretended to read in it the fact that one-half of Harrison's army was dead and the other half crazy. Encouraged by this assurance, the whole body of warriors, at four o'clock in the morning, began to creep across the miry prairie toward the American camp.
A little after four in the morning, a sentinel who was gazing on the wide prairie before him, had his attention roused by a strange movement on its surface. Not a breath of wind was stirring, yet the tall grass was waving as if under the influence of a strong breeze. Rapidly the noiseless waves approached nearer till they broke against the rising ground at his feet. "Who goes there?" he shouted, but no voice answered. Suddenly, with the quick thought of a backwoodsman, he stooped down, and looking through and under the grass, beheld an Indian stealthily creeping toward him! He fired; in an instant a tremendous war-whoop, the nightmare of all who slept in a hostile Indian country, was heard on all sides, and the force of savage warriors rushed upon the American lines. The Indians were commanded by White Loon, Stone Eater and Winnemac, the Pottawatomie chief who had professed so much friendship for the Governor, at the time of the first council at Vincennes. The guard gave way at the point of attack, but the men who had been sleeping on their arms were immediately prepared to receive the Indians bravely. The suddenness of the attack might have created a panic even among veterans, yet the men stood their ground, though only one in twenty had ever been under fire before. But many of them were Kentuckians, and "the bravest of the brave."
The camp-fires were quickly extinguished, that their light might not assist the Indians, and the battle raged in the darkness on all sides. Elskwatawa had prophesied that the American bullets would rebound from the bodies of the Indians, and that they would be provided with light, while all would be "thick darkness" to their enemies. He had evidently heard of Moses and Pharaoh. For some reason, however, he did not personally try the truth of his prophecies by engaging in the fight; unwilling "to attest at once the rival powers of a sham prophecy and a real American bullet." Stationing himself on a small hill near at hand, he chanted a war-song, and presided like an evil genius over this battle. Though invisible in the darkness, his shrill and piercing voice could be distinctly heard above the noise. To the messengers that came to tell him that, despite his assurances, his followers were falling, he said: "Tell them to keep on fighting and it will be as the Prophet has said."
In the confusion of the sudden attack the large white horse of Governor Harrison could not be found, and he mounted a borrowed plug of a different color instead. This circumstance doubtless saved his life. One of his aides, who also rode a white horse, fell in the very beginning of the attack, pierced by a dozen balls. There can be no doubt he was mistaken for his chief, whom the Indians determined to kill at all hazards.
During the battle General Harrison rode from one side of the camp to the other, disposing his men to the best advantage, and inspiring them by his personal courage. A ball passed through his hat and another his hair, but he escaped unhurt. At one time he stopped to reprove a cowardly French ensign, who sheltered himself behind a tree, and told him he ought to be ashamed to be under shelter when his men were exposed.
The Frenchman, when the battle was over, complained bitterly. "I vas not behind de tree," he said; "de tree vas before me. Dere vas de tree, and here vas my position; how can I help? I can not move de tree; I can not leaf my position."
The Indians made use of deer hoofs instead of drums to signal an advance or retreat; making with them certain rattling sounds. Never were savages known to battle more desperately. For once they quite abandoned their practice of fighting from behind shelter, and rushed right up to the bayonets of their foes. The conflict lasted until shortly after daylight, when with a last charge the troops routed the savages and put them to flight.
When the Indians fled the whites found thirty-seven of their own number killed and one hundred and fifty-one wounded. Twenty-five of the latter died of their wounds. The loss of the Indians was thought to be equally great.
The Prophet's influence was gone forever, "You are a liar," said a Winnebago warrior to him whom they had lately revered as a messenger from the Great Spirit, "for you told us that the white people were dead or crazy, when they were all in their senses and fought like the devil."
The Prophet replied, in a tone strangely different from that which he was accustomed to use, that there had been some mistake in the compounding of his "medicine." The enraged Indians bound him and threatened him with death, but finally released him.
The second day after the battle the Americans advanced to the Prophet's town. No defiant war-whoop greeted them. The place was deserted, having been abandoned in a panic.
The Indians, more civilized than most tribes, had left behind all their household furniture, many firearms (supplied by the British), great quantities of corn, numbers of hogs and chickens. The only inhabitant was an aged chief with a broken leg, who had been left by his people. Having dressed the wound of the chief and provided sufficient food to last him several days, they told him to say to the Indians that those who should leave the Prophet and return to their own tribes should be forgiven. Then taking the provisions for their own use the entire village was destroyed.
Tecumseh was already on his way home, after a very successful trip. Red Eagle and the Creeks were preparing for war. The Cherokees, the Osages, the Seminoles, were all ready to take up the hatchet.
The great confederacy seemed almost an accomplished fact. Confident and exultant, Tecumseh hurried back to the Prophet's town. He was ignorant of what had happened. As he and his party approached they gave the salute-yell. Instead of a wild chorus in answer from the direction of the village, all was as silent as the tomb.
Anxious and alarmed, he hurried forward. He soon saw the spot where the village had stood, but not a cabin was to be seen. He rubbed his eyes and looked again, to see if it was not a dream, a nightmare. Not so. The village had disappeared. Only heaps of ashes marked its sight; "Simply this and nothing more." All its fortifications, all the stores of ammunition, arms and provision, the result of years of weary toil, were gone. Tecumseh knew at once what had happened. He was overwhelmed with sorrow. Just at the moment of apparent triumph he found the very foundation of the structure dissolved in thin air. Guided by some stragglers, Tecumseh hurried to the camp, where the disgraced Prophet awaited, with fear and trembling, his brother's return. Great and terrible was Tecumseh's anger. He bitterly reproached his brother, and was so enraged that he seized the unfortunate impostor by the hair and shook him until life was well nigh extinct. The battle had been fought in direct opposition to his orders.
The Prophet was an object of contempt ever afterward. The very boys yelled and jeered at him as he sneaked through a village. Yet, because he was Tecumseh's brother, he was saved from further punishment.
Tecumseh wrote to General Harrison that he desired to go to Washington and see the Great Father. The request was granted, but he was required to go alone. This wounded the spirit of the disappointed man. The would-be emperor refused to go without a retinue. Filled with unutterable fury, he joined the English army in Canada. When invited to take part in a peace council, he said: "No! I have taken sides with my father, the King, and I will suffer my bones to bleach on this shore before I will recross that stream to take part in any council of neutrality."
Tecumseh took an active part in the war and before long found himself at the head of seven hundred warrior's. Nearly all the war-chiefs followed his lead and went over to the British side. Shortly after this, because of bravery in what is known as the battle of Brownstown, and in recognition of his eminent ability, Tecumseh was made a brigadier-general in the British army. He is thought to have been the only American Indian who ever held so high a position, except Gen. Ely S. Parker, of the Rebellion.
Major-General Brock, a brave and generous gentleman, was now in command of the British army. He was as much honored and respected by his Indian ally as General Proctor, his successor, was afterward despised.
General Brock and Tecumseh, with their combined force, took a position at Sandwich, a place opposite Detroit. Here the commander-in-chief asked his ally what sort of a country he would have to pass through in order to get to Detroit. Tecumseh, taking a roll of elm bark, and extending it on the ground and securing it in place by four stones, drew his scalping-knife, and, with the point, etched upon the bark a plan of the country, showing its hills, rivers, woods, morasses and roads. Pleased with this unexpected talent in Tecumseh, as well as by the fact that he induced the Indians not of his immediate party to cross the river first. General Brock took off his splendid sash and, in the presence of the army, placed it around the body of the chief. Tecumseh received the honor with evident gratification; but was next day seen without his sash. General Brock, fearing something had displeased the chief, sent his interpreter for an explanation. The latter soon returned with the report that Tecumseh, not wishing to wear such a mark of distinction, when an older, and as he said, abler warrior than himself was present, had transferred the sash to Roundhead, the Wyandot chief.
In this the great chief showed his shrewdness, knowing the Indian's love of display and the tendency in human nature to jealousy. Moreover, he would not be so conspicuous in battle.
As is well known, the American general, Hull, made a cowardly surrender of Detroit. He was court-martialed and sentenced to be shot, but was pardoned because of his age and his services during the Revolution.
At the time of the surrender, General Brock asked Tecumseh not to allow the Indians to abuse the prisoners. "Have no fear," he replied; "I despise them too much to meddle with them."
The surrender of Detroit exposed the whole Northwestern frontier to the ravages of the enemy. General Brock was killed at the battle of Queenstown and the command of the British army devolved upon General Proctor. He had under him in the spring of 1813 fourteen hundred British and eighteen hundred Indian allies, commanded by Tecumseh. The Americans to meet this force had only twelve hundred troops and a small force of Indians, under the command of General Harrison; but they were Americans, and many of them from Kentucky.
Red Cloud
One of the most disastrous affairs of the war was in connection with the attack upon Fort Meigs. It seems that Colonel Dudley and his force had been sent to the opposite side of the river to seize a battery erected by the enemy and spike the cannon. They gained possession of the battery, but before they could complete their work the enemy rallied in overwhelming numbers. Nearly every one who escaped the rifle and tomahawk was captured, Dudley being one of those who was tomahawked and scalped.
The prisoners were taken to Proctor's headquarters, where the Indians tomahawked such as they pleased. More than twenty were murdered in this horrible manner. General Proctor made no attempt to restrain them, but was looking calmly upon the fiendish work, when he heard a voice in the Indian tongue shouting something at the rear. Turning his head he saw Tecumseh dashing forward, his horse at full speed. The instant he reached the spot he leaped off, and seeing two Indians in the act of killing an American, seized one by the throat and the other by the breast and hurled them to the ground. Drawing his tomahawk and scalping-knife he sprang between the Indians and their victims, and, brandishing the weapons with the fury of a madman dared any one of the blood thirsty savages to attempt to injure another prisoner. His consuming wrath cowed all, and they slunk away from him. Turning to Proctor, he sternly demanded why he had not stopped the massacre.
"Sir," replied the British general, "your Indians can not be restrained."
"Begone!" thundered Tecumseh; "you are not fit to command! Go home and put on the petticoat of a squaw!"
Call him barbarian, if you will, but remember, that of the two commanders the fiend who looked on complacently during this cruel butchery of defenseless white prisoners, was white; while he who risked his life to prevent it, was a red man.
Another instance in the career of this truly great man is given by Drake. Shortly after he had stopped the slaughter of the captives he noticed a small group of Indians interested in something. Colonel Elliott said to him: "Yonder are four of your people who have been taken prisoners you may do what you please with them." Tecumseh walked over to the group and found four Shawnees, who, while fighting on the side of the Americans, had been captured. "Friends," said Tecumseh, "Colonel Elliott has placed you under my charge and I will send you back to your nation, with a talk to your people."
Accordingly, he took them with the army as far as Raisin, from which point their return home would be less dangerous, and then sent two of his warriors to accompany them with a friendly message to their chiefs. They were thus discharged, under their parole not to fight against the British during the war.
Tecumseh was an unruly ally, because he despised Proctor. One day, provisions being scarce, salt beef was given the English soldiers, while the Indians received only horse-flesh. Angered at the outrage, Tecumseh strode to Proctor's tent and demanded an explanation. Seeing the English general about to treat the complaint with indifference, Tecumseh significantly struck the hilt of the commander's sword, touching at the same time the handle of his tomahawk, and said: "You are Proctor. I am Tecumseh." This hint at a mode of settling the difficulty brought Proctor to terms at once.
After an unsuccessful attempt to reduce Fort Stephenson, then garrisoned by one hundred and sixty men commanded by Major Croghan, Proctor and his forces retreated to Malden.
About this time, an American citizen, Captain Le Croix, was arrested by order of the British commander and confined on board a ship, to be sent to Montreal. Tecumseh had an especial friendship for Le Croix, and it may have been because of his influence with the chief that he was seized. Tecumseh, suspecting that Le Croix had been imprisoned, called on General Proctor, and asked if he knew anything of his friend. He even ordered the British general to tell him the truth, adding, "If I ever detect you in a falsehood, I, with my Indians, will immediately abandon you." The general was obliged to acknowledge that Le Croix was a prisoner. Tecumseh then demanded that his friend should be instantly liberated. General Proctor wrote a line stating that the "King of the Woods" desired the release of Captain Le Croix, and that it must be done at once. The order was obeyed. Tecumseh treated the American commander with equal contempt. A recent writer gives a challenge which that great chief sent to General Harrison at the first siege of Fort Meigs. It was as follows:
"General Harrison: I have with me eight hundred braves. You have an equal number in your hiding place. Come out with them and give me battle. You talked like a brave when we met at Vincennes, and I respected you, but now you hide behind logs and in the earth, like a ground-hog. Give me answer.
The Americans always had great confidence in Tecumseh, though he was an enemy. Once when the English and Indians were encamped near the River Raisin, some Sauks and Winnebagos entered the house of a Mrs. Ruland and began to plunder it. She immediately sent her little daughter to ask Tecumseh to come to her assistance. The chief was in council and was making a speech when the child entered the building and pulled the skirts of Tecumseh's hunting-shirt, saying, "Come to our house, there are bad Indians there." Tecumseh did not wait to finish his speech, but walked rapidly to the house. At the entrance he met some Indians dragging a trunk away. He knocked down the first one with a blow from his tomahawk. The others prepared to resist. "Dogs!" cried the chief, "I am Tecumseh!" The Indians immediately fled and Tecumseh turned upon some English officers who were standing near: "You," said he, "are worse, than dogs, to break your faith with prisoners." The officers immediately apologized to Mrs. Ruland, and offered to put a guard around her house. She declined this offer, however, saying that she was not afraid so long as that man, pointing to Tecumseh, was near.
The ill success which attended the efforts of the British caused Tecumseh not only to lose heart, but dissipated what little faith he had felt in Proctor. He seriously meditated a withdrawal from the contest. Assembling the Shawnees, Wyandots and Ottawas, who were under his command, he declared his intention to them. He told them that when they had taken up the tomahawk and joined their father, the King, they were promised plenty of white men to fight with them; "but the number is not now greater," said he, "than at the commencement of the war; and we are treated by them like the dogs of snipe hunters; we are always sent ahead to start the game. It is better that we should return to our own country, and let the Americans come on and fight the British."
To this proposition his followers agreed; but the Sioux and Chippewas discovering his intention, went to him, and insisted that inasmuch as he had first united with the British, and had been instrumental in bringing their tribes into the alliance, he ought not to leave them; and through their influence he was finally induced to remain.
Tecumseh's last grudge against Proctor was on account of the retreat of the English from Malden, after Commodore Perry's victory on Lake Erie. The Indians did not understand the movements of a naval battle, and General Proctor, who doubtless dreaded the influence of a defeat upon them, said to Tecumseh, "My fleet has whipped the Americans, but the vessels being much injured have gone to Put-in-Bay to refit, and will be here in a few days."
The suspicions of Tecumseh were soon aroused, however, when he thought he perceived indications of a plan to retreat from Maiden. When he spoke to Proctor on the subject, that cringing coward told him that he was only going to send all his valuables up the Thames, where they would be met by a reinforcement and be safe. Tecumseh, however, felt sure that the commander was meditating a retreat. He demanded, in the name of his Indians, that he be heard by General Proctor. Audience was granted him on September 18, and the Indian orator delivered his last speech, a copy of which was afterward found in Proctor's baggage when it was captured. We can only quote two paragraphs from it here:
"You always told us," said he, "you would never draw your foot off British ground; but now, father, we see that you are drawing back, and we are sorry to see our father doing so without seeing the enemy. We must compare our father's conduct to a fat dog that carries its tail on its back, but when affrighted drops it between its legs and runs off. Father, listen! The Americans have not yet defeated us by land; neither are we sure they have done so by water; we, therefore wish to remain here and fight our enemy, should they make their appearance. If they defeat us, we will then retreat with our father.
"Father, you have got the arms and ammunition which our great father sent to his red children. If you have an idea of going away, give them to us and you may go, and welcome. For us, our lives are in the hands of the Great Spirit. We are determined to defend our lands, and if it be his will, we wish to leave our bones upon them."
In spite of Tecumseh's protest, Proctor burned Malden and began a retreat. He pretended from time to time that he would halt and give battle. When the retreat commenced, Tecumseh said, "We are now going to follow the British, and I am sure that we shall never return." At last, on October 5, Proctor was forced to halt and oppose the pursuing Americans in the battle of the Thames. Just before the engagement Tecumseh said to the group of chiefs around him: "Brother warriors, we are about to enter into an engagement, from which I shall never come out—my body will remain on the field of battle." Unbuckling his sword and handing it to a chief, he said, "When my son becomes a noted warrior and able to wield a sword, give this to him."
The battle which followed was for a time fiercely contested, and the position selected was well adapted for defense. The Indians, under their indomitable leader, stood their ground longer than the British regulars.
Proctor fled, like the coward he was, leaving the great chief and his warriors to receive the brunt of the battle. The flight of the British commander was too rapid for him to be overtaken, though they captured his baggage.
With one arm bleeding and almost useless, Tecumseh, too proud to fly, stood his ground, dealing prodigious blows right and left, and inspiring his warriors with his loud commanding war-whoop, which was heard above the din of the battle.
Col. Richard M. Johnson and his Kentucky cavalry were ordered to charge the Indians. This they did with such fury that the savage warriors fled; but not until their intrepid leader had received a bullet through his head, which stilled his clarion voice in death.
The discussion as to who killed Tecumseh became a singularly heated one in subsequent political campaigns, the chief recommendation for office in that day being skill as an Indian fighter.
The friends of Col. Richard M. Johnson, of Kentucky, claimed that honor for their hero when he was a candidate for the Vice-Presidency. This, indeed, constituted one of his chief claims to the suffrage of his party, just as Harrison's victories at Tippecanoe and the Thames elevated him to the Presidency. Johnson himself never made the claim, saying that his assailant was so close upon him that he did not stop to ask him his name before shooting him.
It may be doubted whether anybody ever did know who fired the shot that killed the great chief. Those who saw him shot, from the American side, did not know him from any other Indian, for there was nothing in his dress to distinguish him from his warriors, and the Indians who saw him fall did not know his slayer. Many mistook the body of a gayly dressed and painted warrior for that of Tecumseh.
James, the English historian, and Eggleston, both assert that from the body of this Indian much of the skin was actually flayed and converted into razor-strops by some of the pioneer Kentuckians, who had become almost as barbarous as the savages against whom they fought. The truth of this statement is confirmed by the testimony of several American officers and privates who were in the battle of the Thames. They state, however, that it was the work of a few brutish individuals, and that the great mass of the army were shocked at its perpetration. {FN}
{FN} The author when a youth was told by Dr. William A. Moore, of Milford, Kentucky, a member of the Legislature and an old-school gentleman of the highest integrity, that he (the Doctor) had seen a razor-strop made from the skin that covered Tecumseh's backbone. It has been demonstrated that Tecumseh's body was not harmed, but another Indian mistaken for him was both scalped and flayed.
A short distance from where Tecumseh fell, the body of his friend, Wasegoboah, the husband of Tecumapease, was found. They had often fought side by side, and now, in front of their men, bravely battling the enemy, they side by side closed their mortal careers.
The British historian, James, in his account of the battle of the Thames, makes the following remarks upon the character and personal appearance of the subject of this sketch.
"Thus fell the Indian warrior, Tecumseh, in the forty-fourth year of his age. He was of the Shawnee tribe, five feet ten inches high, and with more than the usual stoutness, possessed all the agility and perseverance of the Indian character. His carriage was dignified, his eye penetrating, his countenance, which even in death betrayed the indications of a lofty spirit, rather of the sterner cast.
"Had he not possessed a certain austerity of manners, he could not have controlled the wayward passions of those who followed him to battle. He was of a silent habit; but when his eloquence became roused into action by the reiterated encroachments of the Americans, his strong intellect could supply him with a flow of oratory that enabled him, as he governed in the field, so to prescribe in the council.
"Such a man was the unlettered savage, Tecumseh. He has left a son, who, when his father fell, was about seventeen years old, and fought by his side. The prince regent in 1814, out of respect to the memory of the old, sent out as a present to the young Tecumseh, a handsome sword. Unfortunately, however, for the Indian cause and country, faint are the prospects that Tecumseh, the son, will ever equal, in wisdom or prowess, Tecumseh, the father."
The name of Tecumseh's son was Pugeshashenwa. The prince regent also settled upon him an annual pension, in consideration of his father's services. He was treated with much respect, because he was the son of his father, and removed to Indian Territory with the remnant of the Shawnee nation.
Tecumseh is described as a perfect Apollo in form, his face oval, his nose straight and handsome, and his mouth regular and beautiful. His eyes, singularly enough, were "hazel, clear and pleasant in conversation, but like balls of fire when excited by anger or enthusiasm." His bearing was that of a lofty and noble spirit, a true "King of the Woods," as the English called him. He was temperate in his habits, loving truth and honor better than life. He was an ideal Indian, and both in body and mind the finest flower of the aboriginal American race.
Possessing a genius which must have made him eminent in any age or country, like Brant, Pontiac and King Philip, his illustrious predecessors, he had failed yet like them he was great in defeat. He was the first great chieftain to prohibit the massacre of prisoners.
Trumbull, in his "Indian Wars," thus refers to this renowned leader: "He was the most extraordinary Indian that has ever appeared in history. His acute understanding very early in life informed him that his countrymen had lost their importance that they were gradually yielding to the whites, who were acquiring an imposing influence over them. Instigated by these considerations, and perhaps by his natural ferocity and attachment to war, he became a decided enemy to the whites, with an invincible determination to regain for his country the proud independence she had lost.
"Aware, at length, of the extent, number and power of the United States, he became fully convinced of the futility of any single nation of red men attempting to cope with them."
Death of Tecumseh
"He formed, therefore, the grand scheme of uniting all the tribes east of the Mississippi into hostility against the United States. This was a field worthy of his great and commanding genius."
Besides several towns in different States christened in his honor, his name was also borne by one of the greatest of American generals.
At the meeting of the Republican National Committee in Washington, November 23, 1891, to select a city in which to hold a Presidential convention, President Palmer, of the World's Fair Commission, gave in an eloquent plea for the selection of Detroit, the promise to take the visitors thirty miles over into Canada to view the spot where Tecumseh, "the greatest Indian the American continent ever knew, was slain."
Paradoxical as it may seem, he was a savage, yet one of nature's noblemen.
The words of Hamlet apply to this "King of the Woods" in a striking manner:
             "See, what a grace was seated on this brow
             Hyperion's locks; the front of Jove himself;
             An eye like Mars, to threaten and command
             A station like the herald Mercury,
             New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill
             A combination, and a form, indeed,
             Where every god did seem to set his seal,
             To give the world assurance of a man."


©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