Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

behalf of all the red people, to use your exertions to prevent the sale of liquor to us. We are all weh pleased to hear you say that you will endeavor to promote our happiness. We give you every assurance that we will follow the dictates of the Great Spirit.

“We are all well pleased with the attention that you have showed us; also with the good intentions of our father, the President. If you give us a few articles, such as needles, flints, hoes, powder, and other things, we shall be able to take the animals that afford us meat with powder and ball."

After this affair, nothing material occurred till the latter part of April, 1810, when the Governor received information that the Prophet was again exciting the Indians to hostilities against the United States. A trader, of undoubted veracity, who had been for some time at the residence of the impostor, assured him, (the Governor,) that the Prophet had at least a thousand souls under his controlperhaps from three hundred and fifty to four hundred men--principally composed of Kickapoos and Winnebagoes, but with a considerable number of Potawatamies and Shawanees, and a few Chippewas and Ottawas. About the middle of May, rumor magnified this force to six or eight hundred warriors, and the combination was said to extend to all the tribes between Illinois river and Lake Michigan,—the Wyandots, and the Sacs and Foxes being among the number. Still

, nothing could be distinctly proved against the Prophet. Governor Harrison sent for the leading member of the Shaker society, who resided about twenty miles from Vincennes, and endeavored to prevail on him to take a speech to the Prophet, who affected to follow the Shaker principles in every thing but the vow of celibacy; and this leader of the Shakers had no hesitation in asserting that the Shawane was under the same divine inspiration that he himself was, although, for reasons growing out of his situation as a savage, he and his immediate followers were perniitted to cohabit with their women

But this was not the general feeling. Much aların existed on the frontiers, especially as some lawless

ct3 had been committed by individuals nominally under the Prophet's management. The Governor made active preparations for open hostilities; and the attention of the General Government itself had at length become so much aroused, that an order from the President to make prisoners of both Tecumseh and his brother, was suspended only that a last effort might be more advantageously made for a compromise with the disaffected tribes. Early in 1811, the Indian force mustered at Tippecanoe was larger than Governor Harrison himself could easily collect; and the body-guard of Tecumseh, on the visit which he paid the former at Vincennes, in July of this season, consisted of more than three hundred men.

This meeting took place ostensibly in consequence of a speech which the Governor had sent to the brothers at their encampment on the Wabash, in June. He had taken that occasion to repeat his former complaints of the insults and injuries he supposed to have been offered to American citizens by Indians under their influence; to inform them that he had heard of their recent attempts to hasten hostilities between the Union and various Indian tribes; and, finally, to reinind them, in strong terms, of the consequences of persisting in such conduct. 6 Brothers !"_was one of the expressions in this address,-I am myself of the Long-Knife fire. As soon as they hear my voice, you will see them pouring forth their swarms of huntingshirt men, as numerous as the mosquitoes on the shores of the Wabash. Brothers ! take care of their stings." Tecumseh promptly replied to this communication, by promising to visit the Governor in precisely eighteen days, for the purpose of washing away all these bad stories."

Some delay occurred; but upon Saturday, the 27th of July, he made his appearance at Vincennes, with his three hundred followers. As neither the Governor nor the inhabitants generally were desirous of prolonging his entertainment, it was proposed to com mence the negotiations on Monday; but this he de. clined doing, and it was late on Tuesday before he made his appearance at the arbor prepared for the occasion. Nor did he then come, without taking the precaution to ascertain previously, whether the Governor was to be attended by armed men at the council,- if so, he should adopt the same etiquette. Being left to his own option, and given to understand that his example would be imitated, he came with a guard of nearly two hundred men, soine armed with bows and arrows, and others with knives, tomahawks and war-clubs. The Governor, on the other hand, was attended by a full troop of dragoons, dismounted, and completely furnished with fire-arms; and he had taken care, on Tecumseh's first arrival, to secure the town, by stationing two foot companies and a detachment of cavalry in the outskirts. He placed himself in front of his dragoons; Tecumseh stood at the head of his tawny band, and the conference commenced with a speech on the part of the Governor. This was briefly replied to; but a heavy rain coming on, matters remained in statu quo, until the next day, when Tecumseh made a long and ingenious harangue, both exposing and justifying his own schemes much more openly than he had ever done before.

Respecting the demand which the Governor had made, that two Potawatamie murderers should be given up to punishment, who were stated to be resident at Tippecanoe, he in the first place denied that they were there ; and then went on very deliberately to show, that he could not deliver them up if they were there." It was not right,” he said, “ to punish those people. They ought to be forgiven, as well as those who had recently murdered his people in the Iinois. The whites should follow his own example of forgiveness; he had forgiven the Ottawas and the Osages. Finally, he desired that matters might remain in their present situation, and especially that no setdements should be attempted upon the lands recently prouchard of certain tribes, until he should return livu a visit anlong the Southern Indians. Then he Worlu go w Washington, and settle all difficulties with the President; and meanwhile, as the neighboring tribes were wholly under his direction, he would despatch messengers in every quarter to prevent

further mischief.” He concluded with offering the Gov. ernor a quantity of wampum, as a full atonement for the murders before mentioned. The latter made an indignant rejoinder; the meeting was broken up; and Tecumseh, attended by a few followers, soon after. wards commenced his journey down the Wabash for the Southward.

Such was his last appearance previous to the war. The popular excitement had now become greater than ever. Numerous meetings were held, and representations forwarded to the Federal Executive. But before these documents could reach their destination, authority had been given to Governor Harrison to commence offensive operations at discretion, and forces, in addition to those within his territorial jurisdiction, were placed at his disposal. Banditti under the Prophet,” wrote the Secretary of War, Mr. Eustis, in a communication of July 20th, " are to be attacked and vanquished, provided such a measure shall be rendered absolutely necessary.

It is not our purpose to detail the subsequent measures of Governor Harrison, which terminated in the celebrated battle of Tippecanoe ; and much less, to agitate the question heretofore so inveterately contested, respecting the general propriety of the offensive operations he commenced, or his particular system or success in conducting them. The battle took place on the 7th of November, 1811; the Governor having previously sent Indian messengers to demand of the various tribes in the Prophet's encampment, that they should all return to their respective territories; that the stolen horses in their and his possession, should be given up; and that all murderers, then sheltered at Tippecanoe, should be delivered over to

[ocr errors]

justice. The first messengers, about the last of Sef tember, had the effect of bringing out a friendly dep utation from the Prophet, full of professions of peace. But fresh outrages were committed by his followers about the same time; and, when sundry head-men of the Delaware tribe undertook, in October, to go upon a second mission, they are said to have been abruptly met by a counter deputation from the Prophet, requiring a categorical answer to the question, whether they would or would not join him against the United States ?' The Delawares, nevertheless, went on, and having visited the Prophet's camp, returned to Governor Harrison, now on his march, with the report of their having been ill treated, insulted, and finally dismissed with contemptuous remarks upon themselves and the Governor. Twenty-four Miamies next volunteered to go upon this thankless business. They seem to have been better entertained, for the good reason, that they decided upon raising the tomahawk against their employer. At all events, these serviceable diplomatists spared themselves the pains of returning.

The particulars of the battle are well known. The Governor having entered into the heart of the territory occupyed by the Prophet,-but claimed by the United States, as being purchased of those tribes who had the least-disputed claim to it; -he encamped, on the night of the 6th, in the vicinity of the Prophet's force; and a suspension of hostilities was agreed upon between the two parties, until a conference could take place on the ensuing day. Whether, as the Prophet affirmed on this occasion by his messengers, he had sent a pacific proposal to the Governor, which accidentally failed to reach him; or whether he was now actually desirous of avoiding hostilities if possible,' but felt himself compelled to cominence them, need not be discussed. His forces, supposed to num ber from five hundred to eight hundred warriona maile a violent attack on the American army, early op the morimg of the 7th; and one of the most des

« AnteriorContinuar »