Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

proposition, and voluntarily pledged bimself to adhere to it. There is reason to believe, that he remembered this promise; and that amidst temptations and provocations,—and, many would be inclined to add, examples, from an authority he might have been sup posed to respect-of a most extraordinary nature.

In one of the sorties from Fort Meigs, a hundred or more of the American garrison were taken prisoners, and put into Fort Miami. Here, McAfee and others relate that the British Indians garnished the surrounding rampart, and amused themselves by loading and firing at the crowd within, or at particular individuals. This proceeding is said to have continued nearly two hours, during which time twenty of the unfortunate prisoners were massacred. The chiefs were at the same time holding a council, to determine the fate of the residue. A blood-thirsty mob of cut-throat Pottawatamies were warmly in favor of despatching them all on the spot, while the Wyandous and Miamies opposed that course. The former prevailed; and had already systematically commenced the work of destruction, when Tecumseh, descrying them from the batteries, came down among them, reprimanded the ring-leaders for their dastardly barbarity in murdering defenceless captives in cold blood, and thus saved the lives of a considerable number. That all this was done by express permission of the English commander, and in presence of the English army, as is farther stated, it does not belong to us, in the pursuit of our present subject, either to assert or prove.

If there be any truth in the charge, or in a tithe of those of the same character which have been brought against the same party, the sooner the veil of oblivion is dropped over them, the better.

In fine, the character of Tecumseh, in whatever light it be viewed, must be regarded as remarkable in the highest degree. That he proved himself worthy of his rank as a general officer in the army of his Britannio Majesty, or even of his repu

tation as a great warrior among all the Indiaus of the North and West, is, indeed, a small title to distinction. Bravery is a savage virtue; and the Shawanees are a brave people,-as too many of the American pation have ascertained by experience. His oratory speaks more for his genius. It was the utterance of a great mind, roused by the strongest motives of which human nature is susceptible, and developing a power and a labor of reason, which commanded the admiration of the civilized, as justly as the confidence and pride of the savage. But other orators, too, have appeared among_his countrymen, as eloquent and as eminent as Tecumseh, wherever the same moving causes and occasions could give birth and scope to the same emulous effort. And the mere oratory, in all these cases, was not so much an absolute vindication, as a naked and meagre index of the mighty intellect and noble spirit within. Happily for the fame of Tecumseh, other evidences exist in his favor, such as were felt as well as heard in his own day,—such as will live on the pages of civilized history, long after barbarous tradition has forgotten them. He will be named with Philip and Pontiac,

the agitators of the two centuries which preceded his own. The schemes of these men were, -fortunately for the interest which they lived and labored to resist,-alike unsuccessful in their issue; but none the less credit should for that reason be allowed to their motives or their efforts. They were still statesmen, though the communities over which their influence was exerted, were composed of red men instead of white. They were still patriots, though they fought only for wild lands and for wild liberty. Indeed, it is these very circumstances that make these very efforts, and especially the extraordinary de. gree of success which attended them,—the more honorable and the more signal; while they clearly show the necessity of their ultimate failure, which existed in the nature of things. They are the best proofs, at once, of genius and of principle.

CHAPTER XV.

MICHIKINAQWA,or the LITTLE TURTLE_Early History

Engages in a combination of the Indians against the United States—BLUE-JACKET-The Turtle defeats two detachments of American troops-Some account of the North-Western war from 1791 to 1795The Turtle defeated by General Wayne-He becomes unpopular after the peace-Some of the charges against him examined-Anecdotes of his intercourse with distin. guished Americans-His letter to Gen. Harrison-His death in 1812_His character.

In the Life of Buckongahelas, we have alluded to the powerful influence of one individual,' as having enabled Governor Harrison, despite the exertions of that chieftain, to effect the important negotiations concluded at Fort Wayne in 1803. That individual was the Little TURTLE, a personage of both talent and celebrity, second in modern times only to those of Tecumseh. Indeed, he may be considered in some respects one of the most remarkable Indians of any age; and although he has been deceased about twenty years, his grave, in the neighborhood of the station just named, is not only still shown, but still visited by Indians froin various quarters, who cherish the memory of the old warrior with the deepest ven oration.

The vernacular name of the Turtle was MichikINAQWA or Mechecunaqua. He was the son of a Miami chief, but his mother was a Mohegan woman; and as the Indian maxim in relation to descents is generally the same with that of the civil law in relation to slaves—that the condition of the offspring follows the condition of the mother*-the 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 even in boyhood.

** Partus sequitur ventrem.'

His first eminent services were those of a warrior in the ks of his tribe. It is well known that long after the conclusion of the peace of 1783, the British Tetained 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. Our Government made strenuous exertions to pacify all these tribes. With some they succeeded, and among others with the powerful Creeks, headed at this time by the famous half-breed Mc'GILLIVRAY. But the savages of the Wabash and the Miami would consent to no terms. They were not only encouraged by foreign assistance-whether national, or simply individual, we need not in this connection discuss—but they were strong in domestic combination. The Wyandots, the Potawatamies, the Delawares, the Shawanees, the Chippewas, the Ottawas, not to mention parts of some other tribes, all acted together: and last, but by no means least, the Miamies, resident where Fort Wayne has been since erected, inspired the whole confederacy with the ardor which they themselves had but to imitate in their own fearless chieftains.

These were generally the same parties who had thirty years before been united against the whites under Pontiac; and the causes of their irritation were now mainly the same as they had been then, while both the cordiality and facility of cooperation were increased by confidence and experience derived even from fornier failures. These causes have been already sufficiently experienced. They arose chiefly from the frontier advances of the white population on the In dian lands always and almost necessarily atten ded with provocations never discovered, and of con

pequence never atoned for, by the proper authorities. National claims were also brought forward, which, 80 far as founded on the representations of persons interested, were likely enough to be abuses. In fact, here was an exact precedent for the combination of Tippecanoe. The Turtle was politically the first follower of Pontiac, and the latest model of Tecumseh.

The Turtle, we say, but the zealous assistance he received from other chieftains of various tribes, ought not to be overlooked. Buckongahelas commanded the Delawares. BLUE-JACKET was at this time the leading man of the Shawanees—a warrior of high reputation, though unfortunately but few particulars of his history have been recorded. The Mississagas, a Canadian tribe on the river Credit, some remnant of which still exists, contributed not a little to the power of the confederacy in the talents of a brave chief, whose very name is not preserved, though his movenients among the more northern Indians were felt on the banks of the St. Lawrence, as far down as Montreal itself.*

On the 13th of September, 1791,--all attempts to conciliate the hostile tribes who were now ravaging the frontiers, having been abandoned, -General Harmer, under the direction of the Federal government, marched against them from Fort Washington (the present site of Cincinnati) with three hundred and twenty regulars, who were soon after joined by a body of militia, making the whole force about fifteen hundred men. Colonel Hardin, at the head of six hundred Kentucky troops, was detached in advance to reconnoitre. As he approached the enemy's villages, they fled. The villages were destroyed, and a light force again detached in the pursuit. These men were met by a small Indian party, led on by the Turtle

* A respectable Montreal publication, of 1791, notices one of this person's visits to the tribes in the vicinity of that town;- describing him as forty-five years old, six "et in height, of a sour and morose aspect, and appa. .ntly very crafty and subtle'

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »