Conquest of the Old Northwest - James Baldwin

The Rival Claimants

I. English and French

Two hundred years ago there were but few English-speaking people in North America. Adjoining the Atlantic coast, and extending from New Hampshire to South Carolina, there were twelve colonies of Englishmen; but in all these colonies taken together there were not so many inhabitants as are now contained in a single city like Indianapolis, or Milwaukee, or Detroit. There were no roads worth speaking of, and the only means of going from place to place was by water. Most of the people, therefore, lived near the coast or close to some river or other stream, and none of the settlements extended very far inland. Some of the colonies claimed to possess the land from the Atlantic to the Pacific; but beyond the head waters of the larger rivers, as the James and the Hudson, the country was unexplored and unknown.

Hemming the settlements in on the west were tangled forests traversed only by hunters and trappers and savage red men; and farther away were rugged hills and ranges of mountains which extended northwardly and southwardly for hundreds of miles, and seemed to shut off all further progress toward the interior. These mountains, now commonly known as the Alleghanies, marked the limits of the actual possessions of the English colonies. No Englishman had yet explored the country beyond, and but few of the colonists knew or cared to know anything about its extent or its resources.

English Colonies


And yet in those very regions, shut off as it were by impassable mountain barriers, were the largest lakes, the longest rivers, the richest the most fertile lands In North America. While English explorers were feeling their way along the shores of the middle Atlantic coast and vainly searching for a passageway into the interior, men from France had ascended the St. Lawrence, discovered the Great Lakes, and gained access to these the choicest parts of the continent. Later on they had opened another way of approach to the same regions through the Gulf of Mexico and up the Mississippi; they had taken possession of the entire country, for and in the name of the French king; and they had established, here and there at wide distances apart, small settlements of French people and trading posts for traffic with the Indians.

Thus, while the English possessions were confined to the comparatively narrow strip of country between the sea and the mountains, the region claimed by the French crown included more than half of the North American continent. New France, as this region was called, had no well-defined boundaries; but it extended from Nova Scotia to the Pacific Ocean, and from the borders of Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico. The northern portion, which embraced the valley of the St. Lawrence, the Great Lakes, and the unexplored territory beyond, was called Canada; the other part, which was watered by the Mississippi and its tributaries, and extended from the Alleghany Mountains to an unknown distance westward, was known as Louisiana. One would naturally suppose that in a country owned by France, and having so boundless an extent, there would be many French-speaking people. But it was not so. Few as the English colonists were, they still outnumbered all the French inhabitants of New France. Why so vast a region should be so sparsely settled we shall understand as our story proceeds.

II. The Bounds of the Old Northwest

With the map of the United States before us, let us imagine ourselves standing on the summit of one of the Alleghanies near Pittsburg and looking westward. Directly in front of us, and extending to the distant Mississippi, lies the region now occupied, as our geographies tell us, by the North Central states of the Union. When the French owned this region it had no distinctive name of its own, but was simply a part of Canada or of Louisiana—or, more broadly speaking, of New France, just as it is now a part of the United States. At a later period, because it was the most northwesterly of the regions occupied by white men, it was known as the Northwest. When the government of the United States was formed and it became necessary to designate each portion of our country by some distinctive title, it was called the Territory Northwest of the River Ohio. In our own day, when the true Northwest is thought of as being in far Washington or farther Alaska, it is the custom to speak of this more ancient region as the OLD NORTHWEST. With the map still before us, let us trace the boundaries of this region and try to gain some idea of its extent and geographical features.

You will observe that nearly all of the streams which flow down the western slopes of the Alleghanies find their way sooner or later into a single great river, the Ohio. From the place where the Ohio is formed by the meeting of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, you can trace its course in a southwesterly direction to the Mississippi. In the old French days it was the only road through the fertile valley which it drains and enriches; and yet it was seldom visited and was but imperfectly known. The Indians called it, as it is called to-day, the Ohio, or the Beautiful River. By the French it was known as La Belle Riviere, and was sometimes loosely referred to as the River of the Iroquois. For fifty years after its discovery it was regarded as a much smaller stream than the Wabash, of which it was supposed to be a tributary. And yet the voyageur or woods ranger who descended it in his canoe found that it was a long journey from the river's source to its mouth; and not until he had floated and paddled between its banks for more than nine hundred miles did he emerge into the broader and stronger stream of the Mississippi.

With your eyes still on the map, observe closely the other natural boundaries of the region partly encircled by the Ohio. On its west lies the greatest of North American rivers, known variously to the French as the Buade, the Conception, the Colbert, and the Mississippi. On its north, completely hemming it in, are the Great Lakes. From the point where the Ohio flows into the Mississippi, let us follow the latter northwardly toward its source. We observe on our left the mouth of the Missouri, to which King Louis XIV. gave the name St. Philip; on the right are many streams, the chief of which are the Illinois and the Wisconsin. And now, as we continue to ascend the great river, we pass through the beautiful expansion known as Lake Pepin, we leave the St. Croix on our right, and arrive at the Falls of St. Anthony, the site of the present city of Minneapolis. A few miles above this point we turn aside into the Rum River which we follow to its source in the Mille Lacs. Then by the shortest route we make our way by land to the western extremity of Lake Superior. Our course is next eastward through the entire length of that great inland sea. We descend the beautiful strait known as St. Mary's River and emerge into the upper waters of Lake Huron. Through the middle of this lake we trace our course southward to the St. Clair strait and onward to the Detroit. From the head of Lake Erie we go as straight as may be to the point, near its foot, where now stands the city of Erie. A short journey overland, where once was *a favorite portage, and we arrive at a small stream called French Creek, a tributary of the Allegheny. It is easy now to descend to our starting place, where the Ohio has its beginning.

The course which we have followed marks approximately the boundaries of the Old Northwest; the lines on the map which indicate that course represent a distance of nearly three thousand miles. The region inclosed by them has an area almost equal to that of, the twelve English colonies of which we have been speaking. It is a good deal larger than the German Empire; it is twice as large as Great Britain and Ireland taken together, and more than ten times the size of the kingdom of Holland. It includes the territory from which have been formed five great states, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, together with a small portion of Minnesota. Here, at the present time, are the sources of very much of the wealth and power of our country. Here are the homes of many millions of intelligent and happy people.

At the beginning of the eighteenth century there was little in all this region to indicate that it was to be the seat of future republics. Wild forests, tangled under woods, boundless prairies, vast solitudes, occupied the places now green with wheat fields and rustling corn, or noisy with busy traffic. Savage red men wandered at will through the woods and along the watercourses, hunting and fishing and waging war with their neighbors. Although the French had held possession of the country for nearly a century, yet they had made no effort to colonize it or civilize it. Here and there, by the shore of a lake or on the banks of some river, there was a settlement of French-speaking people living there in quiet contentment, and subsisting upon the products of the forest and their little gardens. There were such settlements at Kaskaskia and Cahokia in the Illinois Country, and later at Vincennes on the Wabash. At Mackinac, at the Sault Sainte Marie, and at Detroit were important posts for carrying on trade with the Indians; and at each of these places there was a small fort garrisoned by soldiers from France. In the heart of the wilderness, and at great distances apart were other places—solitary log huts, hunters' camps, or temporary stockades—where the French language was heard and where fur traders and voyageurs occasionally found shelter. All else was an unbroken wilderness.

III. The Fur Trade

The one great business of the country, in fact of all New France, was fur trading, and in that business white men and red were alike interested. Indian hunters and French coureurs de bois ranged the woods and explored the watercourses in search of peltries which they bartered to French traders for the necessities and luxuries of savage life. Rich cargoes of furs were every year sent down the Mississippi or through the lakes and the St. Lawrence, to be carried finally to France. There they usually brought good prices, and added not a little to the king's revenues and to the wealth of the favored few who controlled the business under his sanction.

At times, however, the quantity of furs was so great that the markets were glutted, and the hat makers and other dealers would not buy all that were sent; and then not only the merchants and others directly engaged in the trade, but the whole province, suffered from the consequent depression of business.

Early traders


The king and his counsellors tried many plans for the regulation of the traffic in New France. At first the control of the country and the monopoly of trade were vested in a company of merchants and speculators known as the Hundred Associates. At a later period a law was enacted which forbade any one to buy or sell or have dealings with the Indians without first obtaining a license from the government or its agents. The licenses were limited in number, and were sold at prices ranging from one thousand to eighteen hundred francs. Although they were good for only a year and a half, and the holders of them were allowed to use only one or two canoes, yet the profits were large, and licenses might be easily renewed.

This law, if it had been rigidly enforced, would have limited the fur trade to a few favored persons. There were numbers of young men, however, to whom the wild free life of the forest offered the most tempting attractions, and they refused to forego its pleasures and the profits of successful trade. They therefore betook themselves to the woods and became lawless coureurs de bois, hunting and trapping, and trading with the Indians, and never thinking of license. Indeed, it is said that at one time there was hardly a family in Canada that had not at least one son in the woods. Severe laws were passed to restrain and punish these reckless coureurs; but how were such laws to be enforced when everybody disregarded them? Even the merchants who furnished the culprits with goods, and the officers of the king, whose duty it was to regulate the business of the country, secretly sympathized with the law-breakers. The illegal traffic in furs increased from year to year, and the license system proved a failure.

The king at last decided upon a new plan. He commissioned one M. Oudiette to collect the royal revenues from New France, and gave to him the sole right to carry across the ocean all the beaver skins that were collected in the colony. Any person might hunt or trap or buy or sell as he chose, but all furs that were sent to France must first be brought to Oudiette. One fourth part of the furs thus brought in were put aside for the king, and Oudiette paid for the rest at a fixed price. The number of beaver skins offered to him was enormous, but he was obliged to take them all. The result was that poor Oudiette was ruined. A new fashion of wearing very small hats had come into vogue in Paris, and there was no great demand for beaver. He could not dispose of his furs at any price.

Similar ventures were tried in succeeding years by other merchants, but the only men who profited by them were the hunters and trappers on the one hand, and the king and his favorites on the other. At length still another plan was adopted. A hundred and fifty merchants were encouraged to form a company for the sole control of the trade. A ship and a loan of seven hundred thousand francs were obtained from the king, and the company was required to buy at about half price all the furs that were brought in by the collectors of revenue. The new company fared as badly as had Oudiette and his successors; for not being able to sell their goods the unlucky merchants were forced to burn in one year more than four hundred thousand pounds of beaver. After seven years of failure the company was disbanded, and another was formed which conducted the business with but little better success. It was plain that there was mismanagement somewhere; the cause of the trouble was in the laws which had been enacted for the control of the trade,—laws which placed everything in the hands of a monopoly and provided a revenue for the king by robbing his subjects.

In the meanwhile the English had learned that large profits might be derived from the fur trade and from traffic with the Indians. As early as 1670 an association of noblemen and London merchants had incorporated the Hudson's Bay Company to which was given the monopoly of trade in the far North. In most of the twelve colonies also, there were men who made a business of buying peltries from trappers and Indians and shipping them to England. The great forests which bordered the settlements on the west abounded in fur-bearing animals; and the savages whose homes were in those wilds very soon learned that beaver skins could be exchanged for luxuries that were otherwise beyond their reach.

[Illustration] from Conquest of the Old Northwest by James Baldwin


Among all the colonists the Dutch-English at Albany were the best situated for carrying on this traffic. They had friendly relations with the five nations of Iroquois Indians whose homes were in the region between the Great Lakes and the Hudson River; and with these they very early established a profitable trade. They furnished the Iroquois with firearms, encouraged them in their hostility to the French, and looked quietly on while these savages wrought destruction and terror among the feebler tribes in the West. In return, their savage allies brought in the furs and other forest products which their country afforded, and bartered them for strong drink, for more firearms, and for the hatchets, knives, and trinkets so dear to the Indian's heart.

The Dutch-English traders had another advantage which they were not slow to discover. Of all the colonies, New York alone—if the French were only out of the way—might have easy access to the Great Lakes, and through them to the boundless regions of the Northwest. No mountain barriers, as in the case of the colonies farther south, debarred her from communication with the unexplored West. Why might not the entire fur trade of the lake country be made to pass through Albany and New York instead of going to Montreal and Quebec?

The Dutch-English traders dared not go openly among the western Indians and compete with the French for their trade; but they found means to send other red men into the Northwest to tempt the natives to send their peltries to Albany. The Iroquois, who had always hated and opposed the French, became the middlemen between the tribes on the upper lakes and these English traders. The latter were not controlled by any monopoly, they were not obliged to divide profits with the king, and therefore they could afford to pay much higher prices for furs than had ever been paid by the French. They could also afford to sell their guns, knives, beads, blanket's, and "fire water "at lower prices. The shrewd Iroquois soon learned to take advantage of this state of things. They bought furs from the lake Indians and sold them to the Albany traders at English prices; then they carried the goods which they had received in barter to Canada, and sold them to the French traders at French prices, making a profit by each transaction.

IV. The Hunting Grounds of the Iroquois

By their wars with the neighboring tribes the Iroquois had made themselves the masters of a large part of the western country. They had scattered and destroyed the Eries, whose home was on the south shore of the lake that bears their name; and such was the dread in which the Iroquois were held that almost the whole region between that lake and the Ohio River was deserted and left a savage wilderness.

Old Northwest


Only the bravest hunters and marauding bands of Shawnees dared to venture thither. Herds of buffaloes roamed among the hills, bears and wolves lived undisturbed in the thick woods, and nowhere were there any human habitations. From the Hudson to the Mississippi and from the Great Lakes to the head waters of the Potomac the dread of the conquering Iroquois was felt. Although their homes were in New York, these scourges of the wilderness seemed everywhere present; and they claimed the entire region between the Illinois Country and the Alleghany Mountains as their own by right of conquest.

The Hurons and Ottawas along the shores of the upper lakes had suffered much from the cruel Iroquois, who had driven them from their ancient homes and slaughtered their people. When La Motte Cadillac, with fifty settlers and fifty soldiers, began to build a fort and found a permanent post at Detroit, these Indians besought him to protect them from their inveterate foes. Cadillac kindly assured them that he would stand as a wall between them and the Iroquois; and he promised that in due time they should have vengeance, and he would help them drive their enemies from the land.

The Iroquois, hearing of this and knowing that the French had really built a fort at Detroit, were much alarmed; for they feared that Cadillac would try to carry out his promise and would invade their Ohio hunting grounds. They therefore held a council with agents of the English from New York, and prayed that the king of England would help them. The Dutch-English traders felt now that the time was near at hand when they could secure a large share of the fur trade in the Northwest; others of the colonists had heard of the fertile lands and the abundance of game in the country beyond the Alleghanies, and were eager to get possession of that rich region. And so the English were not long in making a treaty with the Iroquois, promising them such aid as they were able to give against any possible encroachments by the French.

A deed was drawn up in due form, and signed by the sachems of the five Iroquois nations. By this deed the savages ceded "unto our souveraigne Lord, King William the Third," and indirectly to the colony of New York, the whole of their beaver hunting grounds, including the region from Lake Ontario to Chicago and from Lake Erie to the Ohio River. This territory was described as being about eight hundred miles long, and four hundred miles wide, and included not only Detroit, but several other posts and small settlements actually belonging to and occupied by the French. Thus the English, in return for vague promises of protection, secured from the Iroquois the nominal right to much the greater part of the country now known as the Old Northwest.

V. Looking Westward

In the meanwhile, the colonies south of New York had also begun to look westward. It was remembered in Virginia that King James I. had given to that colony, nearly eighty years before, a charter which described its boundaries as extending "up into the land throughout from sea to sea west and northwest." That the king had the right to grant this charter there could be no dispute, for had not John Cabot, sailing in an English vessel, discovered the entire eastern coast of North America many years before it was visited by any other nation? And did not this discovery give to England the possession of all the lands westward?

It is related that Governor Berkeley of Virginia sent out a company of explorers to find the place of "the

ebbing and flowing of the water on the other side of the mountains, in order to the discovery of the South Sea." These men traveled sixteen days through the forest, and on the seventeenth saw from the summit of one of the Alleghanies "a glimmering light as from water." This water, which was probably the river now called the Great Kenawha, they supposed to be a bay, possibly of the Pacific Ocean, possibly of a lake held by the French "who had seated themselves in the back of Virginia." Without descending the mountain slope to make further discoveries, they contented themselves with cutting the king's name on some trees, and then hurried back to tell the governor what they had seen. This expedition, if indeed there is any truth in the story, was made at about the time that the French were beginning to explore, the great rivers of the Northwest; and when the colonists, several years later, revived their claims to the ownership of the lands, the story of these early Virginian explorers was related to prove that Englishmen and not Frenchmen were the true discoverers of that region.

Forty-five years after Governor Berkeley's feeble attempt to probe the secrets of the western wilderness another expedition was fitted out for a similar purpose by Governor Spotswood of Virginia. A company of fifty persons, the governor himself being one, set out from Williamsburg, with pack horses and camp equipage, to discover a route through the mountains to the great western lakes. For thirty-six days, moving very leisurely, the explorers followed the windings of the James River until they reached its "very head where it runs no bigger than a man's arm, from under a large stone." They crossed the Blue Ridge and discovered the Shenandoah, "a large river flowing west." There the governor buried a bottle in which was a paper whereon he had written that he took possession of all that region in the name of King George of. England. The company had a good dinner, drank the king's health, and fired off their guns; and then, thinking they had gained sufficient glory, returned to Williamsburg.

The governor was so highly pleased with his little expedition that he caused to be made for each of his companions a little golden horseshoe on which was engraved a Latin motto signifying, "Thus we swear to cross the mountains;" and each of the brave explorers was honored with the title of "Knight of the Golden Horseshoe." The king, too, was pleased, and he made the governor a real knight and called him Sir Alexander Spotswood.

More important than all this, however, was the note of warning which Spotswood afterward sent to the English Lords of Trade: "The British plantations are in a manner surrounded by the French with the numerous nations of Indians settled on both sides of the lakes. They may not only engross the whole skin trade, but may, when they please, send out such bodies of Indians on the back of these plantations as may greatly distress his Majesty's subjects here." And he ends by urging the government to make settlements on the lakes and to fortify the passes in the mountains, saying that he, himself, is "ready to undertake this project if his Majesty thinks fit to approve of it."

VI. Owners, or Interlopers?

While the French were still groping among the inlets and bayous about the mouth of the Mississippi, and trying to find a suitable place for a settlement, an incident happened which persuaded them that England was already plotting to seize upon that part of the country. From the harbor at Biloxi in what is now the state of Mississippi, Le Moyne de Bienville, a young French officer, had set out to explore the lower reaches of the great river. With five men he made his way overland to the point where the city of New Orleans now stands. There the party embarked in two canoes and dropped slowly down the stream, examining the low, muddy banks, and seeking a suitable spot for the building of a fort. Suddenly as they were passing the bend known ever since as English Turn, they met an English sailing vessel, armed with ten guns, that was slowly making its way against the current.

Bienville, nothing daunted, hailed the ship and demanded to know by what right it was thus sailing in waters belonging to King Louis of France. The captain answered that if this were indeed the Mississippi, he was not trespassing on the French possessions, but only entering the province of Carolina, which extended from the Atlantic to the Pacific and embraced quite an extent of land on both sides of that river. He added that he had been sent out by Daniel Coxe, the proprietor of Carolina, to find the Mississippi and select a good place on its banks for the settling of a colony. He wished also, on his own account, to ascend to the country of the Chickasaws, where he hoped to buy a number of Indian slaves. He had sailed into this stream thinking that it might be the river that he was seeking, and yet he was fearful it might be some other.

Bienville and ship


The shrewd Frenchman assured him that he had missed his way. "The Mississippi is much farther west," said he; "and this is quite another stream, wholly within the possessions of France. A few leagues above this place we have many flourishing settlements and a strong fort for their protection. If you will be warned by me you will turn back and not venture farther into our domains, where you will surely be dealt with as a trespasser."

The English captain, who had already been doubtful of his course, was very easily deceived. He asked Bienville for further information about the coast and the various landmarks that would guide him to the Mississippi, all of which the Frenchman cheerfully gave from his ready imagination. Then the captain ordered the ship to be turned about, and the Englishmen were soon sailing with the current back toward the Gulf; and we hear no more of Daniel Coxe's scheme to colonize the valley of the Mississippi.

The French quite naturally became suspicious of every movement made by the English, and especially or every movement that pointed westward. The very presence of the English colonies along the Atlantic coast was regarded as an intrusion upon territory which ought to belong to France. For had not Verrazano and Ribaut, sailing under the French flag, discovered the entire eastern coast of North America, and thereby made France the owner of the whole continent from Florida to the northern ocean? The English, they said, were interlopers, and the claims which they based upon Cabot's discoveries were of no force; they would have been driven out of the country long ago had not the king of France been a lover of peace and loath to make trouble with his neighbors.

The English replied by again calling attention to Cabot's voyages, which were made more than a quarter of a century before Verrazano had sighted the coast of Carolina. His discoveries had given to England not only the coast, but the interior. "Therefore," said they, "the lake regions are ours, and the Mississippi is ours; and these trespassing Frenchmen, who are the real interlopers, must be driven out."

French Precautions

I. Juchereau

As the years passed, each nation began slowly to provide defenses against any possible encroachment upon its possessions. The French built a fort on the Niagara River to make the English understand that the approaches to the Northwest would be protected. The English, to offset this, built a fort at Oswego and attracted thither a great deal of the Indian trade that would otherwise have gone down to Montreal. The French fortified their posts at Detroit and Mackinac to guard against any intrusion in the region of the upper lakes. They strengthened their friendship with the Miamis about La Salle's old fort on the St. Joseph, so as to protect the portage at South Bend and make it difficult for an enemy to approach their Illinois settlements by that favorite route. Near the head of Green Bay, close by the Jesuit mission of St. Francis Xavier, they maintained a stockade called Fort la Baie; and there they stationed a garrison to command the approach to the Mississippi by way of the Fox River portage and the Wisconsin.

All these forts were mere blockhouses, built chiefly of wood, and they had no great strength to withstand the attack of a determined enemy. They were the centers, however, of active trade with the Indians, and they were intended not only to keep English agents and traders from entering the hunting grounds of the Northwest, but also to prevent the distant tribes from carrying their peltries to the Dutch-English merchants at Oswego and Albany.

Very early in the century the French had seen the necessity of guarding the Mississippi from the intrusion of the English, and plans had been formed for the establishment of several armed posts at different points along the river. One of these posts was erected at the mouth of the Arkansas, and another near the mouth of the Ohio. The latter was commanded by Captain Juchereau of Montreal, and manned by thirty-five Canadian soldiers and hunters. It was a kind of midway point between Canada and the French settlements on the Gulf, and must be passed by all persons going from one of these places to the other.

No sooner was the little post inclosed with palisades than Juchereau began to make plans for the enlargement of his settlement. It was his intention, while guarding this entrance to the Illinois Country, to collect furs and other peltries, open mines of copper and lead in the neighborhood, and carry on trade with the Indians. He was not successful in prospecting for minerals, for none were discovered; but his hunters brought in such great numbers of buffalo skins that he found it advisable to set up a tannery for turning them into leather. Quite a number of Indians were attracted to the post, and Father Mermet, an earnest Jesuit missionary, tried hard to convert them to Christianity. A little village quickly sprang up. In the very shadow of the stockade a temporary chapel was built, while the Indian wigwams were clustered near by, half hidden in the tall grass of the prairie.

But the country for miles around was little better than a morass. The oozy soil bred miasms, and the air was laden with malaria. Soon nearly every person was prostrated with disease. The Indians were the chief sufferers, and numbers of them died. To appease their manitou, the poor savages killed forty dogs and carried them on poles in solemn procession round the village. Then, in their fear of the French manitou, which they believed to be more powerful than their own, the medicine men cried out: "Oh, manitou of the French, have pity upon us! Do not kill us all. Strike gently. Spare us or we shall all die."

Finally, as humble suppliants, they came to Father Mermet. "Truly, good manitou," they prayed, "thou art the keeper of life and death. We beg of thee to hold death fast in thy sack: give out life, that we may not die." But neither their own prayers nor those of the good priest availed to save them from the dreaded scourge, Death found new victims almost every day.

Such of the Indians as survived left the place as soon as possible. Father Mermet retired to Kaskaskia. Captain Juchereau, himself, soon fell a victim to the prevailing disease. A party of unfriendly Miamis—incited, it was thought, by the English—came sweeping down the Ohio, and the remnant of the garrison hastily abandoned the stricken post. Some sought safety and health in the slightly older settlements farther up the Mississippi, others returned to Mackinac on the lakes or to Canada.

II. Fort Chartres

No further attempt was made to hold the post at the mouth of the Ohio, and Juchereau's little fort, which, at best, was but a feeble affair, soon crumbled into ruins. The necessity, however, of a strong military station on the Mississippi was not lost sight of. At length, when M. Pierre y Dugue Boisbriant was sent to take command in the Illinois Country, he was directed to build a strong fort at some convenient spot in the neighborhood of the settlements.

[Illustration] from Conquest of the Old Northwest by James Baldwin


The place selected for this fortress was on the east side of the Mississippi, about sixteen miles above Kaskaskia. The work was planned by skilled engineers, and after eighteen months of labor, and a vast expenditure on the part of the government, it was finished and named Fort Chartres in honor of the regent of France.

This remarkable structure stood in the heart of the wilderness, a short distance from the river's bank. It was four-sided in form, although not a square; and at each corner was a bastion built of stone and plastered over with lime. Each side was three hundred and forty feet in length, and the walls were from two to three feet thick and fifteen feet high. In each wall, at regular distances, were loopholes for cannon. The cornices and casements about the gates were of solid blocks of freestone. Within the walls were two roomy barracks built of stone, a spacious magazine, two deep wells, and houses for the officers. A wide and deep ditch was begun on the outside of the walls, but was never finished. The structure was said to be the most convenient and the best built fort in North America.

[Illustration] from Conquest of the Old Northwest by James Baldwin


Here, far removed from the world's civilization, dwelt the French commandant with his officers and their families and a goodly number of soldiers and servants. To this place were carried the polite manners and the fashions of Paris. Noble gentlemen and well-dressed ladies danced in the great hall, or strolled among the trees outside the walls, or in some other manner whiled away the lonely hours and made the long days enjoyable. Priests in their black gowns, and sweet-faced nuns with beads and crucifix, were there to maintain the authority of the Church, to console the sick and distressed, to admonish the living, and to pray for the dead. Hither came rude coureurs de bois with their strange, rough manners and their tales of adventure among wild men and savage beasts. Hither also came traders with goods of all kinds from France, or with loads of furs and buffalo skins to be carried to the market at Kaskaskia, or shipped direct to Mobile on the Gulf. Half-naked Indians, too, gay with feathers and horrible in their war paint, often visited the fort to trade with the inmates, to see the soldiers drilling on the parade ground, or to beg some favor from the commandant.

Very strange and romantic was life in that remote wilderness fort, a thousand miles from the nearest center of civilization, and we could wish to know much more about it. But the traveler who now visits the place will fail to find any remnant of the massive fortification or any memento to remind him of the grandeur and gayety that once existed within its walls. Fifty years after its completion the spring floods were so unusually strong that the river broke through its banks, overflowed the bottoms, and formed a new channel much nearer the fort. Soon the western walls were undermined by the current, and two of the bastions tumbled into the stream. Then slowly but surely the waters wore away the land; the barracks, the garrison chapel, the officers' quarters, all were swallowed up, and not a vestige of "the strongest fortress on the continent "remained.

III. Vincennes

At about the time that M. Boisbriant was laying the foundations of Fort Chartres, the Twightwees, a powerful branch of the Miamis, were beginning to make their influence felt among the western tribes. They had lately removed from their old homes about the St. Joseph and were settled along the head waters of the Wabash and at their village of Kekionga near the Maumee portage. Their hunting parties ranged the country to the southeast, and wandered as far as to the Ohio, where they often had dealings with trespassing English traders or were tempted by Iroquois agents in the pay of the English.

Very naturally the French began to feel alarmed. They could not afford to lose the friendship of the Miamis. The safest thing to do was to keep them out of the way of temptation. If they could be persuaded to return to the St. Joseph and hunt only in the secure wilds of Michigan, all would be well.

[Illustration] from Conquest of the Old Northwest by James Baldwin

The man who had most influence among these savages was the Sieur de Vincennes, a Canadian gentleman, kinsman of Louis Joliet, the explorer of the Mississippi. To him the woods and great rivers of the Northwest offered so many attractions that he had spent his life among them, building up French interests and enjoying the savage freedom of the wilderness. At the suggestion of the governor of Canada, he undertook the duty of persuading the Miamis to remove from the region of danger. The savages listened to him with patience, and when he promised to go with them to their former homes on the St. Joseph, they consented, if only they might wait until after the autumn hunt and the gathering in of the corn.

But before the autumn came the Sieur de Vincennes was taken sick; and while the corn was still green in the ear he died and was buried in the village of Kekionga. "Who now will lead us to the St. Joseph, and who will befriend us there?" asked the Miamis. "We will stay where we are."

The noble Canadian was succeeded by his nephew, Francois Margane, who also assumed his title of Sieur de Vincennes. The young man was brave, discreet, and thoroughly inured to the wild life of the woods. No one was better fitted to carry on the work which his uncle had begun. The Miamis looked up to him with confidence, but they would not be persuaded to stir from Kekionga. The best he could do was to cultivate their friendship and keep a watchful eye on such of their young men as were most likely to be influenced by the English.

Of all the routes between Canada and the Illinois Country that by way of the Maumee and the Wabash was much the shorter and easier. To aid in protecting this route as well as to supply a kind of midway station for traders and voyageurs, the young Sieur de Vincennes built and fortified the post of Ouiatenon near the present site of the city of Lafayette. This little fort was on the north bank of the Wabash, two or three miles above the chief village of the Ouiatenon Indians.

A few years later another fort was built near the Piankeshaw town of Chipkawkay, a hundred and twenty miles farther down the Wabash, and the Sieur de Vincennes was appointed to its command. A mission was established, and a French village grew up around the fort. Traders and coureurs de bois were attracted to the place, and it soon became a depot where immense stores of furs were collected to be shipped northward to the Canadian markets or southward to the French ports on the Gulf. The Sieur de Vincennes was not only the military commander of the post, but for a few years he was the leader of every important enterprise. He was honored as the founder and patron of the village. Many new families gathered there, and the place grew and prospered, being in all things much like any other French settlement in the Northwest. It was long known merely as the Post on the Wabash (Poste au Ouabache); but after the tragic death of its founder—burned at the stake by Chickasaw Indians—it was named, in his honor, Post Vincennes.

Life was easy at Post Vincennes. The soldiers and their officers, the traders, the coureurs, and the contented villagers felt very secure in their secluded home with the trackless forest stretching hundreds of miles to the east of them, and on the west the treeless prairies extending to the setting sun. Furs were plentiful; the Indians were friendly; and but little occurred to disturb the serenity of the little settlement. And if, now and then, rumors came of trespasses by Englishmen into the regions about the head waters of the Ohio, these rumors caused but little anxiety—the English were still so far away.

IV. The Trespassers

The Shawnees in the valley of the Ohio had never been firm friends of the French, and it was through them that the Dutch-English traders at Oswego and Albany hoped finally to gain a foothold in the Northwest. The white men whose tampering with the Miamis of Kekionga had given the first alarm to the French, were agents of these traders. They were backwoods adventurers, having all the bad qualities of the French coureurs de bois and but few of their redeeming traits. They were rough, bold, cunning, heartless, skilled in the lore of the woods, and having a thorough knowledge of Indian character. If the Shawnees and Miamis chose to trade with them, how could the French soldiers and traders on the Wabash or at Fort Chartres or Detroit prevent their coming?

Year after year these men continued to visit the region watered by the northern tributaries of the Ohio. Singly, or by twos and threes, they would go to an Indian village in the autumn carrying a stock of blankets and fire water which the savages were always eager to buy. The agent was all smiles and blandishments. He was not obliged, like the French traders, to divide profits with a great monopoly or with the king, and therefore he could sell his goods cheap and offer high prices for furs. "You may have as much fire water as you want," he would say. "You need not pay for it now; but in the spring, when I come again, you may give me as many furs as it is worth." Of course the foolish Indians would buy in large quantities. They would spend the winter in carousing, and when the time for payment came they would be in hard straits to meet their promises. More smiles and more blandishments would follow; more strong drink would be produced; and then all the furs that could be gotten together would pass into the agent's hands.

Early traders


It was through such means as these that the English traders sought to gain and keep the friendship of the western tribes and turn them away from the French. And they succeeded so well that, in the course of time, a large share of the fur trade in the valley of the Ohio was controlled by them and their agents. English rum was plentiful, English goods were cheap, English promises were alluring—and these bade fair to win the hearts of the wavering red men.

V. Joncaire

With every day that passed, the French became more and more convinced that something must be done to counteract the influence of their rivals. But what could they do? If they could only drive the trespassing Englishmen from their territory, they might make short work of the whole matter. But the agents were too wily to be caught; and it soon became plain that some of the tribes were ready at any time to transfer their friendship to the English. At length it was decided to send into the Ohio Country a man of influence among the Indians, who should show the Shawnees and Miamis the great mistake they would make by turning away from their former patrons and friends.

For this important duty Joseph Joncaire, a Frenchman of great shrewdness and daring, was chosen. No man understood the Indian character better than he: no man was more highly esteemed by all the red men of the Northwest. He was almost an Indian himself. Many years before, when a young man, he had been taken prisoner by the Seneca-Iroquois. His captors tortured him in their usual manner, and were astonished at his fortitude. They tied him to a tree and kindled a fire to burn him to death; but his courage and indifference to pain won their hearts. They scattered the burning brands, and ended by adopting Joncaire into their tribe, and welcoming him as their brother. He did not object to becoming an Indian. He lived with the Senecas for many years, married the daughter of a Seneca chief, brought up a family of copper-colored children, and became almost as much of a savage as the savagest Iroquois. But he was always faithful to his kinsmen, the French, and more than once did he render them valuable service. He was now to aid them in another manner by being their envoy to the tribes in the Ohio Valley.

Joncaire, with a few Indian companions, embarked upon one of the head waters of the Ohio and floated down that stream toward the country of the Miamis. The region between Lake Erie and the Beautiful River was still for the most part an uninhabited wilderness—the hunting grounds of the Iroquois and of some of the smaller western nations. To white men the Ohio itself was almost unknown, for since its discovery by La Salle, more than half a century before, few but the most daring wood rangers had visited it; and even the Indians who ventured to set up their wigwams near its banks were ignorant of much of the country through which it flowed.

As Joncaire with his companions canoed down the noble stream, now swollen by the spring floods, they met several small bands of Shawnees hunting in the forest or encamped in some temporary village near the shore. To all these he delivered his message from "Onontio, their loving father" the governor of Canada, telling them to beware of the English. Now and then he heard news of trespassing agents having crossed his path, but they were always careful to keep out of his sight. Near the place where now stands the city of Cincinnati he found some straggling Miamis whose homes were a little farther westward and northward on the rivers that bear their name. All listened with great attention to what he had to say. They promised not to sell their furs to any but French traders, and declared themselves ready to go on the warpath whenever "Onontio "should call for the punishment of the English.

But no sooner had Joncaire left them than they forgot all their promises, welcomed the English traders to their villages, and renewed their friendship with Onontio's enemies.

VI. Fort Massac

While the Sieur de Vincennes was establishing the post that was afterward known by his name, other Frenchmen were building i small fort on the north bank of the Ohio, about forty miles above the junction of that stream with the Mississippi and just opposite the mouth of the Tennessee. This fort was intended to serve as a trading post, a missionary station, and a protection against raids by hostile Indians from the south. Soon after Joncaire's visit, it was enlarged and strengthened, and surrounded by high palisades, so that it might be proof not only against the attacks of unfriendly savages but also against any attempted seizure by English traders or explorers. A garrison of French soldiers was stationed there, and the place became quite a resort for the coureurs who ranged the woods and prairies of the lower Wabash. Its prosperity, however, was but short lived.

One morning the French soldiers, looking out over the river, were surprised to see half a dozen bears ambling along among the bushes near the opposite bank of the river. It was a strange and unusual sight, and all the men in the garrison, together with the visiting coureurs and traders, were wild with excitement. So far as the soldiers knew, there was not an enemy within a hundred miles. Why should they stay cooped up within the fort when such rare game was in sight?

[Illustration] from Conquest of the Old Northwest by James Baldwin


Some of them at once rushed for the boats and rowed rapidly across the river. All the others ran down to the water side to watch the sport, leaving the gate of the stockade wide open. Scarcely had the boats touched the opposite bank when wild yells were heard on every hand and a scene of frightful confusion began. The supposed bears suddenly turned into naked savages, and at the same time a score of warriors rushed from the thickets on this side of the river and crowded through the open gate into the fort. The soldiers—many of them being without arms—were taken by surprise. A terrible massacre followed, and but few of the French escaped with their lives. The Indians burned the fort and then, with many bloody scalps dangling from their belts, returned into the woods.

Some time afterward another fort was built on the same spot. It was made much stronger than the first, and was garrisoned by soldiers who were not likely to be deceived by savage cunning. It was called Fort Massac, in honor of M. Massac, the first commander of the post; but in remembrance of the bloody slaughter that had taken place there, many people were accustomed to speak of it as Fort Massacre. It formed one of a chain of military posts which the French planned to establish from Lake Erie and the head waters of the Ohio to the Gulf of Mexico. The governor of Canada and the French king were beginning to understand that a great struggle for the possession of the lakes and the Mississippi was near at hand. "If the English once gain a foothold in the West," said some of the king's counselors, "we shall lose not only Louisiana and the regions north and west, but Canada itself."

Bienville de Celoron

I. On the Allegheny

The plan of building a line of forts for the protection of French interests in the Northwest was a wise one, but the work was allowed to languish. Year after year passed by, and but little was accomplished. The English never relaxed their claims, and their traders boldly invaded the territory which the French regarded as their own. Each year the French saw the fur trade setting more and more toward Albany instead of toward their own trade centers in Canada and on the Gulf. Their control over the western Indians seemed to be growing constantly weaker—they feared it would soon be lost.

At length the French government saw that something decisive must be done without further delay. As a first step, therefore, in strengthening the claims and influence of France, M. Bienville de Celoron was instructed to explore the Ohio region and take formal possession of the country in the name of King Louis XV.

On a warm day in July Celoron started from Canada on this important mission. He had with him twenty soldiers, a large number of voyageurs, and about thirty Indians, most of them being Iroquois. A son of the famous Joncaire, a half-breed Seneca having great influence among the Indians, went with him as his interpreter and guide.

From Lake Erie Celoron and his company crossed the short but difficult portage to Chautauqua Lake, where they launched their fleet of light canoes and began their voyage. Without mishap or delay they continued their course to the outlet of that beautiful sheet of water and then onward down the crooked and shallow stream which connects it with the Allegheny. "In some places," wrote Father Bonnecamp, the priest who went with the expedition, "the water was only two or three inches deep; and we were reduced to the sad necessity of dragging our canoes over the sharp pebbles, which, with all our care and precaution, stripped off large slivers of the bark. At last, tired and worn, and almost in despair of ever seeing La Belle Riviere, we entered it at noon of the 29th."

French explorers in Old Northwest


It was the Allegheny River upon which their canoes emerged; for that stream was then considered a part of the Ohio or La Belle Riviere. At the first convenient place the party landed in order to perform an important ceremony which was to be repeated at various points farther down the river. Soldiers and voyageurs were drawn up in line upon the bank; the priest pronounced a blessing, and Celoron in a loud voice proclaimed King Louis XV. to be the rightful sovereign of all the land. A sheet of tin bearing the arms of France was nailed to a tree, and at its foot an engraved leaden plate was buried "as a token of renewal of possession heretofore taken of the River Ohio, of all streams that fall into it, and all lands on both sides to the source of the aforesaid streams."

French explorers on the Allegheny


This ceremony being ended, the soldiers fired a salute, the Indians and voyageurs yelled in concert, and the party again took to their canoes. As they floated down the Allegheny they passed many straggling wigwams and small villages of Indians. The sight of so many canoes with white men caused great alarm, and men, women, and children fled into the woods. Young Joncaire with all his arts of persuasion could hardly make them believe that the Frenchmen intended to do no harm. Whenever they could be induced to stop and listen, Celoron would read to them a letter which he said was from their "great father," the king of France.

"My children," the letter ran, "since I was at war with the English, I have learned that they have deceived you; and, not content with corrupting your hearts, they have invaded my lands. I therefore send to you Monsieur de Celoron to tell you my intentions, which are that I will not endure the English on my land. Listen to me, children; mark well the word that I send you; follow my advice, and the sky will always be calm and clear over your villages."

II. Down La Belle Riviere

In a few days the party reached a village of the Delawares from which all the people had fled. This was at a place which Celoron described as the finest on the river. It was probably at the forks of the Ohio where now stands the city of Pittsburg. There, with the usual ceremonies, they buried another leaden plate, after which they continued their voyage. They were now fairly launched on the Ohio itself, the true Belle Riviere, discovered and first navigated by the Sieur de la Salle, eighty years before. Eighteen or twenty miles farther down, they came to a large village which the French called Chininque, but which was known to the English traders as Logstown. It was the most important place on the river and was inhabited mainly by Delawares and Shawnees. Here, too, lived a number of Mingoes, a mixed race, descended from the Iroquois and the conquered Andastes, or Eries, of the Lake Erie region.

[Illustration] from Conquest of the Old Northwest by James Baldwin

The savages at Logstown were not afraid of the Frenchmen, neither did they receive them very kindly. They ranged themselves along the river bank and greeted their visitors with a volley of musket shots. But here young Joncaire's good offices were again most valuable. He persuaded the chiefs to allow Celoron to land his men, and a time was set for the holding of a council.

At the council Celoron read another letter which he said had been written by their French father, "Onontio," the governor of Canada. "My children," it ended, "the English intend to rob you of your country; and that they may succeed, they begin by corrupting your minds. As they mean to seize the Ohio, which belongs to me, I send to warn them to retire."

The chiefs were not altogether pleased. "The English," they said, "pay us the best prices for out furs. Their rum and their blankets are good and cheap, and we need them. Yet we will do what the great father bids us."

There were ten English traders in the town at that very time; and Celoron had but little faith in the promises of the chiefs. As the party continued their voyage down the beautiful river they heard of the English at many places. Men from Virginia had been exploring the rich valleys on the south, and they were already making plans for the settlement of that region. A number of wealthy Virginians had formed a company called the Ohio Company; and the king of England had, that very summer, granted to this company two hundred thousand acres of land, to be chosen wherever they should prefer, west of the Alleghanies.

At some distance below Logstown, Celoron met six Englishmen, who had been trading in the Northwest and were returning to Pennsylvania. They had fifty horses with them and a hundred and fifty bales of furs which they had bought from the Miamis and Shawnees. As France and England were then at peace, Celoron did not dare to punish these trespassers as he thought they deserved. All he could do was to bid them to leave the country as quickly as possible and never come back. The traders answered, very meekly, that they would obey his commands; and they carried a letter from Celoron to the governor of Pennsylvania asking him to forbid his subjects trespassing upon the territories of the king of France. It is not to be supposed that they remembered their promises long, or that the letter had much influence with the governor.

At the mouth of the Muskingum River another sheet of tin was nailed upon a tree and another lead plate was buried. More than sixty years afterward, some boys who were playing along the river, saw the edge of this plate jutting out from the side of a bank where the stream had partly unearthed it. The foolish lads carried it home, and had melted a part of it into bullets before its value was discovered. What was left of it may still be seen in the museum of the American Antiquarian Society. Two or three other plates have since been found in other places near the junction of other rivers with the Ohio.

[Illustration] from Conquest of the Old Northwest by James Baldwin


Celoron's further progress down the Ohio was neither pleasant nor promising. Many of the men unused to the hot August weather became sick. The Indians along the shore were suspicious if not unfriendly. It was plain that the English had been tampering with them and making them promises. One morning, near the mouth of the Scioto River, the voyagers came upon a large village of Shawnees. They landed some distance above the place, and young Joncaire, with a flag of truce, went forward to make peace with the savages. As he approached the village he was greeted with fierce yells and hoots of defiance. His flag was riddled with bullets, and a party of young braves rushed upon him and made him prisoner. Some tried to tomahawk him on the spot; others wanted to burn him alive. But there chanced to be in the village an Iroquois chief who had known Joncaire since his boyhood.

"Let the young man go," said he. "He is my brother, and you shall not harm him."

The Shawnees hesitated. They dared not offend the Iroquois nation, and still they did not wish to receive the French. At last, however, they loosed their hold upon their prisoner and bade him go back to his companions.

[Illustration] from Conquest of the Old Northwest by James Baldwin


Celoron was now more than ever anxious to win the friendship of these Indians, for he knew that if the English should persuade them to take the warpath, they would be powerful foes. He therefore ordered his men to embark again and drop down the river to a point opposite the village. When the savages saw them coming they rushed to the shore and began shooting at the canoes. But no one was hurt. The Frenchmen landed in safety, posted guards along the river bank, and made as great a display of force as they could.

As the day wore on, the Indians began to feel alarmed, and sent some of their older men across the river to make a treaty of peace. A council was held in Celoron's tent. The chiefs expressed great sorrow that their young men should have behaved so badly, and promised to help the Frenchmen along in their voyage. There were some English traders in the village, and Celoron demanded that they should be driven out. But the Indians gave him to understand that this would not be done; and the council broke up without either party having gained what it wanted.

III. Up the Great Miami

On one of the last days in August the voyagers arrived at the mouth of the Great Miami. There Celoron buried the last of his leaden plates and resolved to follow the Ohio no farther. For a whole month, as Father Bonnecamp says, he had been exploring "La Belle Riviere, that river so little known to the French, and unfortunately too well known to the English." He was resolved now to penetrate boldly into the interior of the country, and by making friends with the natives, win them to the support of the French cause.

On the following day, therefore, the party began a slow and laborious voyage up the Great Miami. The heat was oppressive, many of the men were ill, and progress was very slow. The few Indians that were met were of the Miami nation, and they proved to be no more friendly than the Shawnees. Celoron tried to win their confidence by giving them presents of powder and shot; but they would accept nothing from him. It was plain that English traders had been among them.

Near the mouth of Loramie Creek, a hundred miles from the Ohio, there was a large village of Miamis ruled over by a chief known to the French as La Demoiselle, but to the English as Old Britain. This village which the English called Pique Town, or Pickawillany, not long afterward became one of the most powerful Indian towns in the Northwest and the seat of the great Miami Confederacy. Celoron and his party stopped here for a day, and a council was held with La Demoiselle and his braves.

For many years the French had been trying to persuade the Miamis to return to their former hunting grounds, farther to the north and out of the way of temptation by the English. Celoron now endeavored to induce La Demoiselle to lead his people back to their old homes at Kekionga near the Maumee portage. "My children," he said, addressing the chiefs in council, "you will enjoy in that country the delights of life, it being the place where repose the bones of your fathers and those of the Sieur de Vincennes whom you much loved." La Demoiselle and his chiefs listened kindly to what the Frenchman said, and promised that at a convenient time they would do all that was asked of them; but any one could see that they, too, had been won over to the English cause.

For three weeks the voyagers toiled up the Miami, until at last the stream became so shallow as to make further progress by water impossible. Then they dragged their canoes ashore and burned them. The next day they bought a few horses of the Indians, and started over-land through the untracked wilderness, directing their course toward the northwest. For five days they struggled through the woods and at last reached the spot where two small rivers unite to form the Maumee, or as it was then called, the Miami-of-the-Lakes. Here was the site of the old Miami village of Kekionga, and the place where now stands the city of Fort Wayne. On the north bank of the Maumee, Celoron and his companions found a small stockade occupied by a few French soldiers and coureurs de bois. There was not much there, however, to cheer the tired wanderers; for every man at the post was sick with fever and ague, and accommodations were very slight for so large a company. The very next day, therefore, Celoron borrowed some log canoes, and the homeward voyage was begun.

A week later he was at Detroit, and on the ninth of November he arrived safe at Montreal. He had been absent a little over three months, had traveled a distance of more than twelve hundred miles, had traversed unknown rivers and pierced trackless forests, had met many unfriendly bands of savages, and had returned from his perilous expedition with the loss of only a single man. His visit to the Ohio Country must have produced greater results than wa3 at first supposed; for, when war actually began between the English and the French, the Indians very generally gave their support to the latter.

Christopher Gist

I. To the Muskingum

Mention has already been made of the Ohio Company which had been organized by wealthy Virginians for the purpose of trading in western lands. They had obtained from the king of England a grant of two hundred thousand acres to be chosen by them in any part of the Ohio Valley which seemed to be the most desirable. It was an easy thing for the king to give away lands which he had never really possessed; and the only conditions which he required were that the Ohio Company should build a fort on their domains and should settle a hundred families of colonists near it. If they failed to do this within seven years, the lands should revert to the king.

Within less than a year after Celoron's famous voyage down the Ohio, this company resolved to send out an expedition which should explore the country north of that river, and discover, if possible, the best 1750 place to locate their proposed colony. The expedition was to be made, not by an officer with soldiers and voyageurs and Indian hangers-on, as had been the case with Celoron, but by a single man skilled in woodcraft and well acquainted with savage life and manners. It was conducted not by the government with a great show of power, but by a private trading and emigration company, quietly and without publicity. Its object was not to take formal possession of the country and drive out intruders, but to discover what were its resources and by what means English settlers might get into it.

The man chosen for this important service was Christopher Gist, a hunter and trader from North Carolina, whose life had been spent on the wilderness frontier. He was not expected to bury leaden plates, or to make proclamations; but he was instructed to go as far west as the falls of the Ohio, to find out what Indian tribes were in the country and how strong they were, to learn what were the easiest routes over the mountains and through the wilderness, and to see where the most level and most fertile lands were located.

It was late in the autumn when he started. It lacked but a month of Christmas when he reached Logstown. He found there a number of traders from Pennsylvania, rough and lawless men who were ready to do any kind of wickedness that came into their minds. They were suspicious of Gist, and told him that he "should never go home safe." But Gist was not the man to be frightened; and when he informed them that he was in the service of the king they gave him no further annoyance.

About the middle of December he reached the Muskingum River, where was a village of Wyandots. These Indians were a remnant of the once great Huron nation, and were uncertain whether to remain friendly to their old allies, the French, or join themselves to the cause of the English. In their village Gist found a Scotch-Irish trader named George Croghan, who had great influence over all the rude rovers in the wilderness. Here, too, he met Andrew Montdur, one of the most picturesque characters of that remarkable time a typical Indian scout and interpreter, accustomed from his birth to the wild life of the woods. Montour's Mother was a half-breed of much influence among the Iroquois; his father, Big Tree, an Iroquois chief, had been killed several years before while fighting wit h some western Indians.



Andrew had the features and form of a Frenchman, but many of the manners of an Indian. He was the dandy of the wilderness. His face was greased and painted like that of a true savage, and in his ears he wore huge brass ornaments, "something like the handle of a basket." His cinnamon-colored coat was of fine cloth, and underneath it wilderness he wore a scarlet waistcoat of satin. His necktie was black, ornamented with silver spangles. He wore his shirt on the outside of his trousers; on his head was a hat of English make; and his feet and legs were protected by shoes and stockings. He had at several times been of great service to the English, and his Indian kinsmen held him in great esteem.

Gist stayed but a few days among the Wyandots, and then went onward through the dense forest. Montour and Croghan were with him. They stopped for a day at a little village on White Woman's Creek, where lived Mary Harris who had been taken captive by the savages forty years before. She seemed to be content with her lot, having an Indian husband and many half-breed children. "But she still remembers," says Gist, "that they used to be very religious in New England, and wonders how white men can be so wicked as she has seen them in these woods."

II. At Pickawillany

After visiting the Delawares on the Scioto, Gist and his two companions made their way across the country to Pickawillany on the Great Miami. The region through which they passed was of surpassing loveliness. "It is well timbered with large walnut, ash, sugar trees, and cherry trees," says Gist; "well watered with a great number of little streams and rivulets; full of beautiful natural meadows, with wild rye, bluegrass, and clover; and abounding with turkeys, deer, elks, and most sorts of game, particularly buffaloes, thirty or forty of which are frequently seen in one meadow."

Here some Englishmen were setting up a trading post and storehouses. It was the most western point to which they had yet dared venture. Since Celoron's visit, a year before, the place had increased in size and importance. It now contained more than four hundred Indian families, and was the largest village in the country. The Miami Confederacy, which included nearly all the tribes in the Ohio Valley, had but recently been formed, and here was the center of its power. The leader of this confederacy was Old Britain, or La Demoiselle, the same wild savage who had received Celoron so dubiously. He welcomed the three explorers very kindly, invited them to his house, and hoisted the English flag over his door.

Traders meeting indians


A council was called, and gifts were distributed by Croghan and Montour. Gist made a speech to the assembled warriors, and the thirty traders who happened to be in the village contributed to the good cheer of the occasion. The Miami chiefs were delighted, and a treaty of peace was solemnly completed between them and the English. Some Ottawas, whom the French had sent down from the lakes, ventured to put in a word of protest. They displayed a French flag, treated the chiefs to a drink of French brandy, and delivered a message of good will from the commandant at Detroit. But Old Britain and his braves mocked them. "Brothers, the Ottawas," said the great war chief, we let you know by these four strings of wampum that we will not hear anything the French say, nor do anything they bid us."

The Ottawas withdrew, abashed, but nursing revenge for the slight that had been offered them. The very next winter they fell upon a band of Miamis and killed fifty of their number.

Gist, according to his instructions, took careful note of the strength of the Miamis. In the report which he afterward made to his employers, he said: "They are accounted the most powerful people to the westward of the English settlements—at present very well affected toward the English, and fond of their allegiance with them." Thus the short-sighted Indians, by temporarily turning against the French, who were really their friends, were paving the way for their own destruction.

On the first of March Gist bade good-by to his friends at Pickawillany. He had been instructed to go as far west as the falls of the Ohio; but the Miamis told him that it would be unsafe to do so on account of the French who were in that neighborhood. He therefore turned his steps homeward, going first to the mouth of the Scioto and making friends with the Shawnees who lived there. On the last day of the month he crossed the Ohio, and boldly entered a territory never before trodden by the feet of a white man. His course was at first southward to the head waters of the Licking River. He then crossed the mountains, and went eastward up the valley of the Clinch; he passed the sources of New River, and after an absence of seven months finally reached his North Carolina home on the Yadkin. A few weeks later he appeared in Roanoke before a committee of the Ohio Company, to whom he gave an account of his adventures. He had traveled a` distance of twelve hundred miles. His journey had been a successful one, and it marks the beginning of the English conquest of the Northwest.

The Key to the Ohio Valley

I. Legardeur de St. Pierre

Legardeur de St. Pierre was a great-grandson of Jean Nicolet, the discoverer of Lake Michigan. He had been educated in France, and had the refined manners and cultured habits of a French gentleman. But he inherited from his roving ancestor a love of the woods and a passion for adventure. Much the greater part of his life was spent in the wilderness of Canada and the forests of the Northwest.

A dozen years before Celoron's famous expedition down the Ohio, St. Pierre was in command of a fort at Lake Pepin on the upper Mississippi. This was the most western, save one, of all the French outposts in the Old Northwest. It had been built for the purpose of gaining the confidence and the trade of the Sioux. The French had not yet ceased to dream of a waterway across the continent to the Pacific; and it was hoped that by winning the friendship of the wild tribes of the far West the discovery of that waterway would be made easier.

To the frontier outpost on Lake Pepin wonderful stories were brought of a great lake in the region of the setting sun, from which three rivers poured, one toward the Mississippi, one toward Hudson Bay, and one toward the western ocean. Near this westward flowing river there were said to be walled towns in which white people lived who did not know the use of firearms; and tales were told of strange forests of dyewood near the western coast, and of wonderful black fish that sported in the waters of the sea.

[Illustration] from Conquest of the Old Northwest by James Baldwin


St. Pierre believed these stories, as did everybody else, even to the governor of Canada. Various expeditions were sent out under a certain Canadian officer, the Sieur de Verendrye, and his sons; and to aid in this enterprise a temporary fort was built on the banks of the distant Assiniboine. Ten years and more were spent in a vain search for the great lake and the westward flowing river. Verendrye explored the country bordering upon the Upper Missouri, and his sons went so far west that, first of Frenchmen, they saw some of the peaks of the Rocky Mountains.

In the meanwhile the fort on Lake Pepin had suffered disaster. It was submerged and partly destroyed by a great freshet. The Sioux Indians looked upon the outpost with distrust and refused to trade there. Hostile Indians from the Green Bay region lay in ambush around it, and even attempted to scale its palisades. And at length St. Pierre found it wisest to burn the fort and make his way, as best he could, to the nearest port on the lakes.

In the very year of Celoron's expedition down the Ohio, Verendrye, old and broken down with disappointments, returned to Canada to die; and Legardeur de St. Pierre was chosen to carry on the work which that determined hero had begun. In the following summer two expeditions started westward from Green Bay—one under St. Pierre himself, the other under a brave French officer named Marin. It was arranged that after they had crossed the continent they were to meet at some point on the shore of the Pacific.

French explorers in Old Northwest


I need not say that they never reached the Pacific. Marin soon returned; but St. Pierre was absent three years, exploring the Saskatchewan, and strengthening the fort on the Assiniboine. It was he, or some member of his party, who first applied the name "Montagnes des Roches" to the great range of western highlands—a name which with the English became the familiar "Rocky Mountains."

St. Pierre found the Indians very troublesome, making further explorations impossible. "It is evident," he said, "that so long as these people trade with the English there is no hope of succeeding in finding a western sea. If there were no English settlements at Hudson's Bay, all would be well." And so, at last, in the autumn of 1753, he returned to Canada, disheartened because of his failure, but laying all the blame for it upon the English.

II. Fort Le Boeuf

St. Pierre found the governor of Canada fully alive to the danger that was likely to follow the English encroachments in the Ohio Valley. Marin, upon his return from the distant West, had been sent out to fortify the route which Celoron had followed three years before. At Presque Isle, where now stands the city of Erie, Pennsylvania, he had put up a fort of squared chestnut logs, and there he had stored a great quantity of both necessary and unnecessary supplies. Then he had cut a broad road southward, twenty-one miles through the forest. At the end of that road, on the banks of French Creek, he had built a strong stockade which he called Fort le Boeuf, the first fortified post on the head waters of the Ohio. Canoes launched in the creek there could float down to the Allegheny and thence to any point on the disputed river. The place where the Allegheny and Monongahela meet to form the Ohio, and where now the city of Pittsburg stands, was recognized as the key to the valley of the Ohio, if not to the entire Northwest. For, from the English colonies there were but two available routes to that country—one from western New York down the Allegheny, one from Virginia by way of the Potomac and Monongahela—and both met at the forks of the Ohio.

No sooner had Marin established himself at Fort le Boeuf than he began to think of the next link in the chain of fortifications that he was expected to build. At the point where French Creek enters the Allegheny there was an Indian town called Venango, and a Virginian trader whose name was Fraser had built a trading post there. Marin sent young Joncaire forward with sixty men to take possession of this place. Joncaire seized the trading house, and turned it into a French fortification.

The Indians who had treated Celoron so coolly and had made such fine promises to Croghan and Gist, began now to be thoroughly alarmed. Mingoes, Delawares, Shawnees, and even Miamis sent their head men to Fort le Boeuf to make matters right with Marin. The fickle savages who had been so eager to welcome the English now declared that they had always loved the French as brothers, and that nothing could turn them away from that love. The Iroquois, too, hastened to offer their friendship, and many of them lent their aid in carrying from Presque Isle to Le Boeuf the baggage and supplies that were required for the new fort. There was scarcely a tribe in the entire Ohio Valley that was not suddenly won over to the cause of the French.

In the meanwhile, however, the English were not idle. George Croghan, from the Indian towns on the Ohio, had hastened to warn the governor of Pennsylvania of the danger that threatened. "The point to be aimed at," said he, "is the forks of the Ohio. Whoever fortifies that place first will win control of the whole valley." Benjamin Franklin and other commissioners from Pennsylvania thereupon held a council with some Ohio Indians who met them at Carlisle. These Indians declared that if the English wished to protect their trade in the Northwest they must fortify their posts on the river before the French were in a condition to prevent them.

And now an unexpected enemy put a check to the movements of the French. The woods and marshes through which Marin's men had toiled bravely from Presque Isle to Venango were full of malaria. The soldiers grew sick, and numbers of them died. As winter began to approach it was deemed best to send most of them back to Montreal, and to postpone all further movements until the following spring. Governor Duquesne, when he saw the emaciated figures of those who returned, was greatly shocked. "Past all doubt," said he, "if they had gone down the Ohio, as intended, the river would have been strewn with corpses."

It was just at this juncture that Legardeur de St. Pierre arrived in Canada from his three years' adventures in the distant West. A fortnight later, news came from Fort le Boeuf that his old friend Marin had also succumbed to disease, and had died bravely at his post in the wilderness.

"You are the only man in Canada who can carry on the work which your former comrade has so well begun," said Governor Duquesne; and he immediately appointed St. Pierre to be commandant of the projected line of military posts, with his headquarters at Fort le Boeuf.

It was the first of December when St. Pierre arrived at his new place of duty. He was at that time a man past the prime of life, white-haired and dignified, with the air of a soldier and the manners of a gentleman. Winter had already set in. A drizzling rain was falling. The ground was partly covered with snow, and the water courses were full of mushy ice. The lonely fort in the midst of a dreary clearing, with the wild forest on every side, was a picture of desolation. But to St. Pierre, so lately returned from regions still more solitary and remote, the place seemed reasonably comfortable and not at all lonely.

III. Unexpected Visitors

At about sunset on the tenth day after St. Pierre's arrival at Le Boeuf, the sentinel at the gate cried out that strangers were approaching the fort. Out of the woods on the south, St. Pierre saw two horsemen coming. One was a tall young man, of very noble bearing; the other was an elderly backwoodsman, clad in buckskin and armed with gun and knife. Behind these two came half a dozen Indians and three or four white men with pack horses all wading slowly through the deep slush and snow.

St. Pierre sent two of his officers out to meet the strangers. They proved to be Virginians, but were nevertheless welcomed to whatever comforts the little garrison was able, to offer. The younger of the two horsemen said that he had business of importance with the commandant; but after they had warmed themselves and supped at the officers' tables, it was too late to speak of it that night.

Indians and Traders


The next morning the young stranger was led into the presence of St. Pierre. The commandant received him very politely indeed, and very kindly. Little did he suppose that the person to whom he was offering these civilities was destined to become the most famous man in American history, if not in the history of the world. The young stranger did not understand French, and hence had to speak through an interpreter. He introduced himself as Major George Washington, adjutant general of the Virginian militia, and handed to St. Pierre a letter which he had brought from Robert Dinwiddie, the governor of the colony.

The commandant took the letter and went into the next room to read it. It was not the kind of letter to awaken pleasant feelings. It ran in substance somewhat in this way: "I must desire you to acquaint me by whose authority and instructions you have lately marched from Canada with an armed force, and invaded the king of Great Britain's territories. It becomes my duty to require your peaceable departure, and to demand that you shall forbear carrying out a purpose which is so likely to destroy the harmony and good feeling now existing between my king and yours. I persuade myself that you will receive and entertain Major Washington with the candor and politeness natural to your nation; and it will give me the greatest satisfaction if you will return with him an answer suitable to my wishes for a very long and lasting peace between us."

St. Pierre read the letter at his leisure, and delayed his answer for three days. In the meanwhile he entertained young Washington with the same hospitality and kindness that he would have given an honored friend and guest. On the fourth day his reply was ready. In the letter which he then handed to Washington he gave Governor Dinwiddie to understand that he expected to hold the posts over which he had been given command, and that no threats or demands on the part of Englishmen or Virginians would cause him to withdraw from the territory which he had been directed to defend. The whole matter, he said, would be referred to Governor Duquesne at Quebec.

Major Washington took the letter and at once made ready to return homeward. You may imagine the scene as he bade the French commandant good-by, and rode out from the little fort of Le Boeuf. The weather has grown colder; the soft slush has frozen into ice; snow is falling; a sharp northwest wind is roaring through the treetops and heaping up drifts in the valleys and among the fallen timber; it is not a promising morning for beginning a journey of five hundred miles through a pathless wilderness. The stately, white-haired commandant, standing in the doorway, salutes his departing guest.

"My best wishes go with you, Major Washington; but I fear that your horses will not be able to carry you far over this rough, snow-covered country."

"If they fail us, sir, we shall then get forward on foot. Adieu."

"Adieu! and may God preserve you."

And the little company files slowly across the clearing, their backs to the wind, their feet slipping on the treacherous ice, their eyes blinded by the eddying snow. They enter the woods, and are seen no more by Legardeur St. Pierre and the garrison at Fort le Boeuf.

George Washington

I. The Wilderness Journey

The backwoodsman who rode with Major Washington to Fort le Boeuf, and who broke the path before him on his departure homeward, was none other than our old acquaintance Christopher Gist. His practiced eye could distinguish the easiest path where any other could see only an untracked waste of forest and bog and snow-covered marshes. Close behind him rode Washington, silent but alert; and following at a short distance were the white men with the pack horses. The Indians who had guided them to the fort straggled sulkily in the rear, and seemed in no mind to be of further service to the party. The French soldiers had shown them great kindness during their four days' stay at Le Boeuf, giving them presents, and dosing them with brandy, and making them fine promises in case they should desert the English. Before they had gone a mile half their number had turned back to the cozy shelter of the fort.

Through the dense woods and tangled thickets, now wading in deep snowdrifts, now floundering in half-frozen mud, now stumbling in pitfalls or struggling through broken ice, Washington and his companions made their slow way back to the village of Venango. They had stopped at this place on their way up, and had been royally entertained by young Joncaire who told Washington that the French were going to hold the Ohio Valley in spite of all that the English could do. They were now received a second time, and Joncaire, with the politeness which he had learned from his French kinsfolk, did all that he could to make them comfortable for the night.

In the morning Washington discovered that his horses were really unfit to be taken farther. The hard journey through the wintry woods had utterly broken them down. He therefore left them at Venango with their drivers, and with Gist as his only companion, pushed forward on foot.

[Illustration] from Conquest of the Old Northwest by James Baldwin


Of Washington's perilous midwinter journey among the snow-covered hills and frozen streams of western Pennsylvania, the story has often been told, and I need not repeat it here. Suffering from the intense cold, and in constant danger from the Indians, the brave young officer and the sturdy backwoodsman tramped through the desolate forest, their course being toward the south. They passed the forks of the Ohio, and, stumbling through the snow for yet seven miles, safely reached the house of the trader Fraser, who, after leaving Venango, had established himself here, near the banks of the Monongahela. Late in January, Washington was back in Virginia telling Governor Dinwiddie of his adventures and of his reception by Legardeur de St. Pierre.

II. The First Encounter

The governor now saw plainly that if the English expected to hold the Ohio Country they must fight for it. He began at once to prepare for the struggle. "It will be easier to keep the French out at the beginning than to dislodge them after they have gotten in," he said. He "sent messages to the governors of the other English colonies asking them to help him. But these messages were not received with the favor which he expected. The colonists of Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland seemed to care but little who possessed the Ohio Valley. "The whole trouble," said they; "is on account of the Ohio Company. Shall we risk entering into a bloody war, merely to help a few rich Virginians who want to speculate in western lands?" Pennsylvania was ready to protect her own traders in the West, and so was New York; but all dreaded to provoke a border war.

Within a month after Washington's return, a small body of Virginians pushed on to the forks of the Ohio and began to build a stockade there; but hardly had the first logs been put in place when word came that a party of French and Indians were marching upon them from Fort le Boeuf. The officer in command of the Virginians now suddenly remembered that his family needed him at home; and the unfinished stockade was left in charge of a young ensign. When the enemy appeared with eighteen small cannon and a great host of yelling Indians, what could the ensign do but surrender on the best terms he could get?

The prisoners marched out of the stockade, laid down their arms, and were allowed to go back to Virginia unharmed. The French began at once to complete the fort, naming it Fort Duquesne, in honor of the governor of Canada.

While these things were going on, Major George Washington at the head of a hundred and fifty militiamen was hastening to the succor of the little stockade. He heard of its surrender while he was still on the farther side of the mountains. "How dare these Frenchmen attack a fort protected by the flag of Great Britain!" cried Dinwiddie, when the news was carried back to Virginia. "The war has already begun, and it is they who have been the aggressors."

Washington immediately set to work to clear a road through the wilderness and over the mountains. It was to extend from the upper waters of the Potomac to a point on the Monongahela where the Ohio Company had lately set up a storehouse; and it was designed to aid communication between the Virginia settlements and the western frontier, and especially the transit of the militia to the disputed territory. For several days the soldiers were more accustomed to the ax than to the rifle, and soon a long passageway was cleared through the woods. It is worth remembering that this road was the first wagon-way ever made from the Atlantic slope to the borders of the Old Northwest. It was in use for more than sixty years, and a part of its course may still be traced among the mountains.

Major Washington with his raw recruits pushed forward, closely following the road-makers. Before the middle of May he reached a place called Great Meadows, near the Youghiogheny, a tributary of the Monongahela. He there met Christopher Gist, who told him that fifty French soldiers, with perhaps a larger body of Indians, were lurking in the forest not far away. A chief of the Mingoes, who was called Half-King and who still remained friendly to the English, also sent him word that a strong force of the enemy was in the neighborhood. Washington therefore brought all his supplies together in a level, open space, and threw up some slight entrenchments about them. He then cleared away the bushes for some distance around and made what he called "a charming field for an encounter."

He was only twenty-two years old, and was naturally impetuous and anxious for a fight. The next day he went out in search of the enemy. He soon came upon a company of thirty-three Frenchmen who were resting in fancied security in a rocky ravine. The Frenchmen, taken by surprise, sprang to their feet and tried to escape; but the Virginians were too quick for them. Washington ordered his men to fire upon the fleeing enemy. Jumonville, the leader of the party, and nine of his followers fell dead. Twenty-two others were captured, and only one escaped.

Such was the beginning of the long war for the possession of the Ohio Valley, and in the end for the entire Northwest—a war which was to involve the leading nations of Europe, change the geography of our continent, and determine in a large measure the destiny of the American people. It is interesting to remember that the man who directed the first action in the great struggle was George Washington.

III. Fort Necessity

The news of the fight, if fight it can be called, was carried quickly to Fort Duquesne and thence by way of the French posts to Canada. Frenchmen everywhere were horrified and indignant when they heard of this cold-blooded massacre, as they called it. The Chevalier de Villiers, a brother of Jumonville, hastened to Fort Duquesne, having a large following of Indians from all the friendly tribes of Canada and the Northwest. There he found five hundred Frenchmen and many Ohio Indians, all eager to march against the invading Virginians.

A great council was called, and the commandant made a stirring speech to the savage chiefs. "The English nave murdered my children," he said; "my heart is sick; to-morrow I shall send my French soldiers to take revenge. By this belt of wampum, I invite you all to join your French father and help him crush the assassins." The Indians yelled their approval; and Villiers with a motley army of nearly a thousand men was soon on the march.

[Illustration] from Conquest of the Old Northwest by James Baldwin


In the meanwhile, Washington's force had been increased to about three hundred men; and hearing that the French were coming, he fell back to Great Meadows and began to strengthen the entrenchments he had made. He called the place Fort Necessity, and determined to wait there for the coming of the enemy. The fort was a flimsy affair, built of logs and earth, and little fitted to withstand any determined attack.

On the 3rd of July the French and Indians under Villiers came up and surrounded the fort. All day long, in the midst of a drizzling rain, there was sharp fighting. The men in the fort defended themselves as well as they could, but the odds were against them. The earthworks were soon nothing but heaps of soft mud, and the riflemen in the ditches stood knee deep in water. Before night the Virginians had lost in killed and wounded about eighty men.

At eight o'clock Villiers sent an officer to propose a parley. Washington was glad of this, for he felt that he could not hold out much longer. He was willing to surrender on the best terms that he could get; and the French, who were none too sure of their Indian helpers, were anxious to end the siege as quickly as possible. Under these circumstances the commanders were not long in coming to an agreement. The fort was to be surrendered, and Villiers was to protect the Virginians from the vengeance of his savage allies. Washington was to give hostages for the safe return of the prisoners he had taken in the former fight, and he with his men were then to be permitted to return home with the honors of war."

It was on the 4th of July, just twenty-two years before the Declaration of Independence was made at Philadelphia, that Major Washington and his Virginia militia-men marched out of Fort Necessity and abandoned the defense of the Ohio Valley. Although repulsed, the young commander did not feel that he had been defeated, and he was determined to find some opportunity to retrieve his losses. As for the British government, it began at once to prepare for the war which was now no longer to be postponed.

IV. Fort Duquesne

After their victory over the Virginia militiamen at Great Meadows, the French and Indians under Villiers returned in triumph to Fort Duquesne.

"This is but the beginning of the contest," said Contrecoeur, the newly arrived commandant of the post. "We hold the key to the Ohio Valley and the West. We must strengthen it, and not be driven out by the English when they return in greater force, as they surely will."

Fortress in the Old Northwest


And he put every Frenchman to work, cutting down trees, hewing logs, digging ditches, building walls, clearing the ground. In a few weeks the little stockade was transformed into a small but sturdy fortress equal in strength to any other on the frontier. It was flanked on two sides by the river and on the other by a wide ditch. Its ramparts were of hewed logs and earthworks of great thickness; and at each of its four corners was a strong bastion with brass cannon peeping out at the loopholes. The only entrance was by a drawbridge and narrow gateway on the landward side. The river side was protected by high palisades of tree trunks set close together, with loopholes so arranged as to cover every approach. All the trees and underbrush within rifle shot of the fort were cleared away, and in the open space some log huts were built for such of the troops as could not be quartered in the barracks inside the walls.

At the edge of the woods the Indians pitched their bark wigwams; and within easy call from the fort eight hundred warriors waited impatiently for the coming of the English. Among these Indians were fighting men from all the large western tribes—Hurons, Ottawas, Pottawattomies, and Chippewas from the region of the lakes, and Shawnees, Delawares, and Mingoes from the valley of the Ohio. The Ottawas were led by a young chief of great daring whose name was Pontiac; while their neighbors, the Chippewas, followed the lead of Charles Langlade, a half-breed woods ranger and trader from Mackinac. In the fort were several French officers who had spent years of service in the wilderness—St. Ange, who was to be the last commandant of Fort Chartres, Beaujeu, a captain of known courage, and others whose names are now forgotten.

The autumn passed, and the French soldiers at Fort Duquesne had nothing to do but to strengthen their defenses and wait. The long, cold winter was followed by an early spring, and the clearings about the fort were planted with corn and pumpkins. The Indians, growing tired of inaction, began to talk of returning to their homes. Contrecoeur and his officers could scarcely persuade them to wait a little longer for the great affray that would surely take place before the ending of the summer.

V. Braddock

At last, in June, some scouts of the Delawares arrived from the Potomac, and brought news that a grand army of real English soldiers commanded by a real English general was marching slowly from the Virginia frontier toward Fort Duquesne. The name of the English general was Edward Braddock, and he had gained renown on more than one battlefield in Europe; but, with all his bravery, he was overbearing, obstinate, and some say brutal. He knew nothing at all about Indian methods of fighting. He had boasted that with his two regiments of regulars he would vanquish any force that the French and Indians could bring against him, and he had refused to listen to Dr. Franklin and Major Washington when they ventured to hint that the Indians had certain ways of fighting that were different from those practiced by Europeans.

The Delaware scouts reported to Contrecoeur that the English soldiers made a fine show, dressed in bright red and moving in a long, solid column through the woods. How easy it would be to skulk in the thickets and, from safe hiding places, pick off these redcoats one at a time like pigeons from a flock! But there were other men in the army more to be feared than Braddock's soldiers from beyond the sea. These were the nine companies of Virginia militiamen, dressed in dull blue or brown, who marched wherever they were allowed, and were plainly looked down upon and despised by the pompous general.

The progress of the army was very slow. In front went a company of woodsmen with their axes, clearing a narrow roadway for the wagons and horses. The grand army followed, with its baggage train and camp equipments, stretching out in a narrow line three or four miles in length. Like a great red snake creeping among the trees, it moved cautiously but confidently onward. At the rate it was going it would not reach the Monongahela before the middle of summer.

[Illustration] from Conquest of the Old Northwest by James Baldwin


Slowly as the army marched, the news of its coming caused great alarm at Fort Duquesne. What could a handful of Frenchmen and a thousand wild Indians do to oppose so large a force of trained soldiers? Should they wait for Braddock to besiege the fort, and then trust to fortune for the result? Or should they fall back to Fort le Boeuf and leave the key to the Ohio Valley in the hands of the English? The officers were still debating these questions when, on the 8th of July, the scouts brought word that the army was within less than twenty miles of the fort.

"We must go out and meet it!" cried Captain Beaujeu. "These English know nothing about our way of fighting. We must lay a trap for them."

And then he explained his plan of forming an ambuscade, in some well-chosen spot, and shooting the redcoats as they marched unwittingly into it. The French officers and soldiers applauded, but the Indians hung back and made excuses. "Does our father want to die?" they said; "and does he want to see us slain also?"

That night all the Indian chiefs sat in council and talked over the matter for a long time. In the morning they went into the fort and told the officers that they had decided to return to their hunting grounds in the West.

What!" cried Beaujeu. "Will you leave your father here to die by the hands of the English? I have made up my mind to go out and meet them. Will you let me go alone?"

[Illustration] from Conquest of the Old Northwest by James Baldwin


He knew how to touch their savage pride. He came before them dressed as an Indian brave; his words roused their courage and shamed their cowardly fears. Before he had ended his speech every chief was ready to follow him. Kegs of powder and a plentiful supply of bullets were set outside of the gate, and six hundred and thirty five Indians, now wild with excitement, crowded forward and helped themselves to ammunition. Then, hooting and yelling, they marched off into the woods, with Beaujeu and two hundred and fifty Frenchmen and Canadians. The commandant, Contrecoeur, with a few French soldiers and some Indians, remained in the fort.

At about the middle of the afternoon there came out of the woods a runner, all breathless and covered with dust and blood. And when he was brought before Contrecoeur he told a story which at once changed all dread into joy. He said that at a spot about seven miles from the fort, and near the right bank of the Monongahela, the English had fallen into the ambush, which Beaujeu had set for them, and that they had been terribly defeated.

The details of the bloody battle were learned afterward. As Braddock and his army were moving through a narrow pass in the forest, they were suddenly fired upon by unseen foes lying hidden among the trees and in the tangled thickets. They could not return the fire, because no foe could be seen. The Virginia militiamen intrenched themselves behind logs and rocks and fought like very Indians. But the red-coated regulars, unused to this manner of warfare, huddled together like frightened sheep and were shot down without mercy. Braddock dashed hither and thither, vainly trying to rally his troops. Four horses were shot under him, and then he himself was mortally wounded. The young major from Virginia, George Washington, was the most conspicuous figure on the field of carnage. He was the mark for more than one Indian rifle, his coat was pierced with bullets, and yet, strange to say, he was unhurt.

After the uneven fight had been kept up for nearly three hours, such of the English soldiers as were still alive fled in wild panic across the river and were followed by the Virginians. The French, having lost their leader Beaujeu, made no attempt to pursue them, but hastened back to the fort. The Indians, eager for plunder and the scalps of the dead and dying, tarried on the field of battle and made no effort to prevent the escape of their foes.

At about sunset they began to return in straggling bands to the fort. They carried with them about a dozen prisoners, whom they tortured and burned to death that same night on the bank of the Allegheny within plain sight of Fort Duquesne.



Of nearly fifteen hundred officers and men who had marched through the mountains with Braddock, only four hundred and fifty returned unharmed to Virginia. The attempt to win the Northwest by direct seizure was given up. The remainder of the conflict was to be carried on in places far remote from the territory in dispute. The war was to involve other questions and issues, and in the end it would lead to results more far reaching and decisive than either French or English could have foreseen.

It is not for us to follow the progress of that war with its varying fortunes. Now and then the French seemed to gain some advantage, but in truth it was a losing game to them from the beginning. Three years after Braddock's memorable defeat another body of British soldiers and Virginia regulars marched over the Alleghanies to attempt the conquest of the key to the Ohio Valley. The expedition was conducted by General Forbes, a British officer of known ability and courage; and he was supported by Colonel Bouquet of the English army and by Colonel George Washington in command of two thousand Virginians. The army was four months in marching from Philadelphia to the Monongahela.

At length, after passing the field where the bones of Braddock's men still lay unburied, it arrived within sight of Fort Duquesne late in November. The blockhouses and the stockade were in ruins. They had been blown up and abandoned by the French garrison who, having been deserted by their Indian allies, had fled in boats down the Ohio. Washington and his men took possession of the place and began to rebuild the works; and General Forbes renamed the post, calling it Fort Pitt in honor of Sir William Pitt who had planned the campaign. The valley of the Ohio was at last in the grasp of the English.

The Great Conspiracy

I. The Napoleon of the Wilderness

The long war between the English and the French came to an end on the 8th of September, 1760. On that day the Marquis de Vaudreuil surrendered Montreal to the English, and with it the whole of Canada and the Great Lakes and the country adjoining them. England had gained much more than her rulers had expected. France had lost everything.

The English made all haste to get control of their new possessions. Within a week after the fall of Montreal, Major Robert Rogers, a famous border ranger, was sent with two hundred men to receive the surrender of the French posts on the lakes. The party traveled in whale-boats, skirting the southern shore of Lake Erie. From Presque Isle to Detroit they saw not a single human habitation; all that region was still the great hunting ground of the Indians, as savagely wild as when La Salle had first visited it more than ninety years before.

The weather was damp and chilly, and the boatmen made but slow programs through drizzling rain and misleading fogs. One day they stopped to rest at the mouth of an unknown river supposed to be not far from the site of the present city of Cleveland. Major Rogers had scarcely stepped on shore when he was met by some Indian chiefs who wished to speak with him.

"We are come from Pontiac, the king and lord of this country," said they. "He himself is near at hand and desires that you wait for him; for he would like to see you with his own eyes."

Pontiac and Rogers


In a short time Pontiac made his appearance. He was a man about fifty years of age; his face was dark and his expression dignified. He was dressed as a savage—that is, with the exception of a broad girdle about his loins, he was not dressed at all. He greeted the English leader very haughtily, and demanded what business the soldiers had in that country, and why they had dared enter it without his leave.

Rogers answered that they had not come with any unfriendliness toward the Indians, but to remove the French, who had always been the cause of trouble between the English and their red brothers.

"I stand in your path," said Pontiac. "I stand in your path, and you need go no farther until I give you leave." He then handed the major a string of wampum in token of friendship, and took his leave for the day, saying, "If there is anything in the country that you need, my warriors shall get it for you."

The next morning the chief came again to the encampment, and smoked the calumet with Rogers. He seemed to be in a very friendly humor, and said that he would permit the Englishmen to go forward to Detroit, and take possession of the fort. He also sent runners in advance to several Indian bands along the lake shore, to give notice that it was by his permission that Major Rogers and his men had entered the country. "He attended me constantly until I arrived at Detroit," says Rogers, "and was the means of preserving the detachment from the fury of the Indians who had assembled at the mouth of the strait to cut us off."

Pontiac was the head chief of the Ottawas, most of whom were then living in the southern peninsula of Michigan. Through the whole of the late war he had been the friend and strong ally of the French. It is said that he was present when Washington surrendered at Fort Necessity, and that he afterward took an active part in the defeat of General Braddock. Just why he seemed so ready to transfer his friendship to the English we shall never learn. But we know that he was shrewd and had ambitious projects of his own. Perhaps he already had dreams of making himself the leader of a great Indian confederacy. What could be more natural than that he should wish to be on the side of the victors in the war that was just ended?

Major Rogers, with his two hundred followers, reached Detroit on the 29th of November, and on the afternoon of the same day the fleur de lis of France was hauled down from the flagstaff on the fort, and the cross of St. George was hoisted in its place. The French soldiers and the Canadian militia laid down their arms, while seven hundred savages, lately the allies of France, danced and yelled as though they themselves were the victors celebrating their triumph over the defeated foe.

Detroit was at that time the most important of all the lake ports. It was a kind of garden spot in the midst of the savage wilderness. The fort was a large inclosure of some thirty acres, surrounded by strong palisades twenty-five feet high. In this inclosure were about eighty buildings, including the soldiers' barracks and a large council house. Above and below, on both banks of the river, were the farms and gardens of the French settlers, while back of these stretched the wild forest, with its giant trees and trackless mazes of underbrush. On the left-hand shore, at some distance below the fort, was a straggling village of Pottawattomies, whose ancestors had once lived in the Green Bay region. On the opposite shore were the bark lodges and corn patches of the Wyandots, descendants of the ancient Hurons.

Above the French settlement, but on the shore opposite the fort, was the chief village of the Ottawas; and a little beyond, on the Isle de la Peche, was the oven-shaped cabin of Pontiac, "the king and lord of all this country."

Just below Pontiac's island, and shielding it from the view of the soldiers in the fort, was the larger Isle au Cochon (now called Belle Isle), covered for the most part with thick under-woods and forest trees.

As soon as the fort was well in the hands of its new masters, Major Rogers returned to the East, leaving the post in charge of Captain Campbell, who was soon afterward succeeded by Major Gladwyn. A small party of English soldiers was sent out to secure and hold the French fort at the forks of the Maumee, where now stands the city of Fort Wayne; and another detachment went northward to receive the surrender of Mackinac and of the Sault Sainte Marie.

To the Indians, who had all their lives enjoyed the friendship of the French, this coming of the English was by no means a pleasant event. It was like exchanging kind neighbors for untrustworthy strangers. "When the French came among us," said a Chippewa chief, "they came and kissed us—they called us children, and we found them fathers; we lived like children in the same lodge." It was not so with the English. They came as masters, looking upon the savages as beings of a lower order who had no rights of their own. To the haughty Pontiac this was galling and not to be borne. He saw that he could expect nothing from a people who felt no sympathy with his race, and whose only object was to gain wealth and power for themselves. "The conduct of the French," he declared, "never gave rise to suspicion; but the conduct of the English never gives rest to it."

For a time he brooded over the matter, sitting moodily in his wigwam or wandering alone in the woods. Then he decided to unite all the Indian tribes in one grand uprising against the English. He began by making speeches. He visited the different villages throughout the Northwest, and by his strong power of persuasion stirred up in every warrior's breast fierce hatred for the English and savage desire for revenge. He reminded the tribes of their former happiness with their brothers, the French, and told them of the wrongs which they would suffer from the English. He declared that their father, the king of France, was only waiting for them to try to help themselves, when he would hasten his soldiers forward to aid them. He dwelt upon the number and prowess of the tribes that would join him, and spoke of the ease with which they could crush the English, and of the joy with which they would welcome the return of the French.

"The Great Spirit has bidden me tell you," he said to his followers, "that you must not drink the Englishman's rum, and that you must cast away the blankets you have bought from him, and whatever else he has given you to make you weak and cowardly." And then he told them of a vision which a Delaware chief had had. "The Great Spirit said to him: 'Why do you suffer these dogs in red coats to enter your country and take the lands I have given to you? Drive them from it. Wipe them from the face of the earth; and then when you are in trouble, I will help you.'"

Nor did Pontiac end with merely arousing his hearers against the English. He urged them to return to their primitive habits of barbarism. "My children," he said, "you have forgotten the customs of your forefathers. Why do you not clothe yourselves in skins, as they did, and use the bows and arrows and stone-pointed lances which they used? You have bought guns, knives, kettles, and blankets from the white men; and, what is worse, you have drunk the poison fire water which turns you into fools. Fling all these things away! Live as your wise forefathers lived in the days that are gone!"

The pleadings, commands, and fiery eloquence of Pontiac moved the Indians as they had never been moved before. All the tribes from the Great Lakes southward to the Tennessee, and from the Iroquois country westward to the Mississippi, joined themselves in one great league for the destruction of the English.

Of this league Pontiac was the absolute master and director. He knew where every English post was situated, and had learned all about its strength. He therefore assigned to each chief his particular place and the work which he was expected to do. The destruction of the posts on the St. Joseph and the Wabash was assigned to the western Indians, that of the forts south of Lake Erie to various bands of Iroquois, that of Mackinac and the Sault to the Chippewas and Wyandots, that of Detroit to himself and his immediate followers. Never did any commander display more skill or more determined energy than did Pontiac in organizing this great movement for the union of all the tribes against the encroachments of a stronger race. * He has been called, and not without reason, the Napoleon of the wilderness.

II. The Massacre at Mackinac

The order was given that upon the same day—a day in May—every English post west of Niagara should be attacked and destroyed. It was to be a work of extermination, and not an Englishman was to be spared. The traders in the Indian villages were the first to suffer. Of these there were more than a hundred and twenty among the different tribes, and only two or three escaped with their lives. Most of the forts were captured as Pontiac had planned. In some, the garrisons were taken wholly by surprise and all were massacred. At Presque Isle on Lake Erie the fort was bravely defended for two days. The Indians having at last undermined it and laid a train ready for blowing it up, the garrison was obliged to surrender; some of the prisoners were killed at once, and others were carried captive to the Indian towns in the Northwest.

Fort Pitt, at the forks of the Ohio, was besieged for nearly three months. At length a detachment of British soldiers commanded by Colonel Bouquet was ordered to its succor. After hard fighting and the loss of a hundred men, Bouquet gallantly forced his way to the fort, gave relief to the beleaguered garrison, and scattered the besieging savages.

In the Northwest, dreadful scenes were being enacted. Next to Detroit, Mackinac was then the most important of all the posts on the lakes. The old trading post and fort at Point St. Ignace had been abandoned several years before, and a new fort, known as Fort Mackinac, had been built on the south side of the strait. Why this change had been made it is impossible to say, but the new Mackinac, like the old, was long the favorite place of resort for voyageurs and woods rangers, and the point whence the traders shipped their furs to the eastern markets.

The stockade, which stood near the shore, inclosed nearly two acres; and within it were about thirty houses, including the soldiers' barracks, some storerooms, and the dwellings of a few Canadian families. There were bastions at the corners of the stockade, and on each of two of these a small brass cannon was mounted. The British garrison consisted of thirty-five men commanded by Captain Etherington. There were also in the fort some traders, and among them Alexander Henry, the first English merchant to venture into that remote and unfriendly region.

The Chippewas, whose principal village was then on the island of Mackinac, had always hated the English. Although their tribe had dwelt for several generations in the immediate neighborhood of the French posts, they were still as savage as their ancestors whom Jean Nicolet had discovered catching fish from the rapids of the Sainte Marie. Their neighbors, the Ottawas, had taken more readily to civilized ways; for they lived in log houses, cultivated little patches of ground, and ardently professed the Catholic faith. All had been warmly attached to the French, and all viewed the coming of the English with marked disapproval.

These bands had chiefs of their own and did not acknowledge the authority of Pontiac. But when his runners came to them bearing his war belt of black and purple wampum, they very readily promised to join in the great conspiracy. The savage Chippewas were wrought up to a high pitch of excitement, and they determined to destroy the hated English in their own way and without the help of the Ottawas.

The month of May had passed, and already the work of destruction had begun. The garrison at Mackinac were living in careless ease and security, for they had heard no news from the south, and they were in ignorance of the great uprising. Their savage neighbors, however, knew what was going on, and were only biding their time to strike the decisive blow. Some friendly Canadians had warned Captain Etherington that the Indians were plotting trouble; and one had brought him word that they were getting ready to destroy all the forts on the lakes. But the foolish, conceited captain told them that he had no fear of Indians, and advised them to go about their own business. He even threatened to punish the next person who should whisper any such stories in his hearing.

A chief whose name was Wawatam, and who was the sworn friend of Henry, the English trader, came into the fort one day and with signs of the deepest distress asked Henry if the English had heard any bad news. He then besought the trader to leave the fort with him and go to the Sault Sainte Marie; "For there are strange Indians in this neighborhood," said he, "and it is not safe for you here." When Henry treated his warning with lightness and refused to leave the fort, the chief went sadly away, the tears rolling down his dusky cheeks.

The 4th of June was a holiday at Mackinac, for it was the birthday of the English king. Early in the morning the Chippewas paddled over from their island and invited the officers and soldiers to come out and see a game of "baggatiway," or Indian ball, that was to be played between their own warriors and a party of visiting Sacs. They said that a great wager had been made, to be paid to the victorious party, and they promised Captain Etherington that he should see rare sport.

The day was warm and sultry. The soldiers were relieved from duty. The gates of the stockade were thrown wide open, and officers and men stood carelessly around watching the progress of the game. Indians and whites mingled freely in the crowds that were lounging in the shade of the tall palisades. The Chippewa squaws were wrapped in huge blankets as though it were a midwinter day; but the English were too deeply interested in the game to take notice of this. Had any person lifted one of these blankets he might have seen a frightful array of knives and tomahawks, all ready to be handed to those who were to take part in the bloody work of the day.

The game of baggatiway, called "lacrosse "by the French, was played with a ball and bats. At either end of the ground a tall post was planted as a goal; and the object of each party was to drive the ball to the post opposite its own. In such a game there was necessarily much noise and violence. On either side were hundreds of lithe savages, each carrying a bat of a peculiar form, and running and struggling to gain possession of the ball. All were naked or nearly so, their long black hair streaming in the wind, and their copper-colored bodies glistening in the sun. It often happened, of course, that the ball could not be driven directly toward the desired goal, and then it was knocked sideways or anywhere that would put it in a good position; and the whole crowd of yelling, struggling savages ran after it.

Indian village


Captain Etherington was with his officers outside of the fort, watching the game. He was in fine spirits, and to please the Chippewas had made a heavy wager in their favor. Several warriors were lounging carelessly about the gate, seeming to be deeply interested in the game. The soldiers were scattered here and there, and all were unarmed.

Suddenly, as if by accident, the ball was thrown within the stockade. With loud shouts both Chippewas and Sacs rushed through the gate as though in pursuit of it; but no sooner were they within the fort than the shouts were changed to dreadful war whoops. Henry, the fur trader, who was in his own room writing, was startled at the sound. He rushed to his window and looked out. All within the stockade and without was in the wildest confusion. He saw the savages snatch their weapons from the waiting squaws and begin the work of slaughter. Without the power to help any one, he beheld his dearest friends cut down and scalped and their bodies mangled in the most horrible manner. Not one Englishman escaped. The captain, a few of his officers, and some traders were taken as prisoners, but all the rest were soon slain. The French and Canadians were unharmed, and several stood looking upon the massacre with much the same interest as that with which they had watched the game of ball.

Henry hastened to conceal himself in the garret of a half-breed Canadian, the same Charles Langlade who had led the Chippewas at the time of Braddock's defeat. He thus escaped the first wild rage of the savages, but on the following day he was discovered and dragged from his hiding place. The Indians crowded around him, brandishing their knives and threatening to kill him. Their fury had cooled, however, and they were not so bloodthirsty as they had been before the massacre. A Chippewa chief named Wenniway, who had taken a sudden and strange liking for Henry, declared that he would adopt him in place of a brother who had been killed in battle; and for a time the life of the trader was safe.

A few days, after this the Chippewas took their prisoners to one of their small villages which stood on the shore not far from the head of Thunder Bay. Here was the home of their great chief Minavavana. The captive soldiers were tied together, two and two, and led into the council house, where, with long ropes round their necks, they were exhibited like wild beasts, and subjected to the taunts and abuse of their captors.

Henry and the other traders were also taken into the council house, but were spared this harsh treatment. The chiefs came in and sat down to enjoy the sight, and among them was Minavavana himself. Suddenly there was a movement by the door, and Henry was rejoiced to see his old friend Wawatam pushing his way through the crowd. Wawatam said not a word, but sat down and smoked with Minavavana and the chief who had taken Henry under his protection. After a time he arose and went out, but soon returned, followed by his squaw. The woman carried costly presents in each hand, and these she laid at the feet of the chiefs. Wawatam then made a speech.

"Friends and kinsmen," he said, "you all know what I feel. You have friends and brothers and children whom you love as yourselves; and how would you feel if, like me, you beheld your dearest friend, your brother, in the condition of a slave a slave exposed every moment to insult, and threatened with death? This case, as you all know, is mine. You see before you my friend and brother among slaves himself a slave!

"You all well know that, long before the war began, I adopted him as my brother. From that moment he became one of my family, so that no change of circumstances could break the cord which bound us together. He is my brother; and because I am your relation, he is therefore your relation too. How then can he be your slave?"

He then said that, to avoid all disputes, he had brought to the chiefs the presents that were before him presents of sufficient value to buy off every claim that any man had on his brother.

[Illustration] from Conquest of the Old Northwest by James Baldwin


Minavavana then arose and spoke. He spoke of the bond of brotherhood between Wawatam and the English trader, accepted the present that had been brought, and ordered the prisoner to be released. Wawatam took Henry by the hand and led him to his own lodge. He gave him food and drink, spread furs for him to lie upon, and treated him with every kindness.

But it was several months before the trader was able to return to his own people. He was carried first to the island of Mackinac, where most of the Chippewa band had retired in fear of the vengeance of the English. Toward the end of summer all crossed over to the north end of Lake Huron, where they stopped awhile to fish. Then they scattered to their winter hunting grounds, each Indian with his family following the path that pleased him best. All winter long, Henry, in the garb of a wild Indian, trudged through the snows by the side of his brother Wawatam, hunting the moose and the elk. In the spring he contrived to make his way to the English settlements.

The destruction of the fort at Mackinac led to many important changes. When peace came the English decided not to rebuild the fort on the mainland. They took possession of the cliff-bound island of Mackinac, near the middle of the strait, fortified it, and there established a new and more secure post.

III. The Siege of Detroit

Detroit being the strongest and most important of all the posts, Pontiac had decided to make it his own prey. Its capture would require great skill and caution, and he was unwilling to intrust so hazardous an undertaking to any of his chiefs. Had no one betrayed his plot, he would probably have been successful, and his great conspiracy might have had a different ending.

In the village of the Pottawattomies there was a beautiful girl of the Chippewa nation named Catherine. She was a great favorite at the fort, and had become attached to Major Gladwyn, the commandant. On the day before that which Pontiac had set for the massacre, she carried to the fort a pair of elk-skin moccasins which she had made and ornamented for her white friend and patron. She seemed to be in great trouble about something, and tears were in her eyes as she put the present in the major's hands and hurried from the room. But she lingered long within the stockade as though anxious to say something and yet afraid to speak. At length Gladwyn himself noticed her unusual conduct, and asked her what it was that was weighing on her mind. She at first refused to answer, but after much urging was persuaded to tell all that she knew of Pontiac's designs.

Attack on Detroit thwarted


She had learned everything. She told Gladwyn that early on the following day Pontiac would come to the fort and ask to hold a council with the English officers. With him would be sixty of his trustiest braves, each with a gun hidden under his blanket. On the outside of the stockade all the Indian warriors would be ready at a signal to rush into the fort. Pontiac would make a speech in the council, and at a certain moment would offer a peace belt of wampum, holding it upside down. At this signal his braves would utter the war whoop, and fire upon the officers; the Indians at the gate would rush into the fort, and massacre the garrison; every Englishman would be killed, but the French settlers would be spared.

That same afternoon William Tucker, a soldier at the fort, came to Gladwyn with a similar story. Tucker had been captured by the Indians when he was a child, had been adopted by them, and had lived many years in the family of an Ottawa brave. He told Gladwyn that his Indian sister had warned him to leave the fort, saying that Pontiac intended, on the morrow, to seize it by strategy and destroy all its inmates.

Gladwyn, thus doubly warned, began at once to guard against surprise. There were at that time a hundred and thirty soldiers and officers in the fort, besides several traders with their families and employees. Two small English vessels, the Gladwyn and the Beaver, were anchored in the river, but too far away to be of any service. At sunset the great gates of the fort were closed. The guards were doubled; the arms were examined; the ammunition was arranged; and every man in the fort was ordered to be ready for service at a moment's call. But as yet no one but Major Gladwyn and his officers knew the character of the threatened danger.

The day had been rainy and the night was dark. The warriors of the Hurons and the Pottawattomies had left their own villages early in the evening, and gathered at the council ground of their great chief, in the Ottawa town opposite the Isle au Cochon.. In the middle of the night the English officers, anxiously watching from the palisades, heard, far away, the booming sound of the Indian drum and the wild, discordant notes of the war song, mingled with hoots of defiance and yells of victory. All doubt was now at an end. They knew that the savages were dancing the war dance around their council fire, and making ready for the bloody work of the morrow. Every person in the fort was aroused and on the alert, and the hours until morning were full of anxiety and suspense.

The day dawned upon a quiet and peaceful scene. The fog that was resting upon the river soon faded away, and then the sentinels saw a fleet of canoes crossing the river a mile or two above the fort. They moved slowly, as if heavily laden, and yet only two or three Indians could be seen in each. Every boat, in fact, was full of warriors, lying flat in the bottom so as to escape the notice of the English.

Pontiac and his men landed at a point where they could not be seen from the fort, and soon many of the warriors found their way to the open common on the north side of the stockade. Then the women and children from the villages began to arrive, as though it were a general holiday, and they had come to see the games. Yet all seemed restless and anxious, and it was very plain that they were not in a peaceful mood.

At about ten o'clock Pontiac and sixty of his braves came down the river road, marching solemnly in Indian file to the eastern gate of the stockade. Their faces were besmeared with paint, and their heads adorned in the most fantastic style. All were wrapped in long colored blankets, which they drew closely about their shoulders. As they reached the gate it was opened to receive them. With stately tread the great chief led his followers into the inclosure and down St. Anne Street to the council house. But to his surprise and dismay he found himself marching between ranks of soldiers fully armed; and at every turn of the street he saw groups of traders and sturdy backwoodsmen, with long knives in their belts and rifles in their hands. Men also stood at the guns on the bastions, waiting only the word of command.

At the council house, Major Gladwyn and his officers were waiting to receive their savage visitors.

"Why do I see so many of my father's young men standing in the streets with their guns?" asked Pontiac.

Gladwyn answered that it was customary to exercise the soldiers every morning. "Come any day at this hour, and you shall see them with their guns."

After some delay the chiefs seated themselves. As was the custom, they smoked together for some time in silence; but any one could see that they were ill at ease. At length Pontiac arose and made a speech. He spoke of the number and prowess of his braves and of their deeds in war—and his eyes flashed and his voice rose in tones of exultation as he called to memory the savage victories in which they had borne a part. Then he spoke of the English and of their great power and of their recent triumphs—and with bowed head and supplicating voice he acknowledged their superior wisdom and pleaded for their friendship. His whole speech was a wonderful display of natural oratory. At one time he raised the belt of wampum as if to give the signal for his followers to begin the attack; but at that moment, at a slight signal from Major Gladwyn, a drum was beaten, there was a rattling of arms at the door, and the rapid tramp of soldiers was heard in the street. The chief paused, he stammered, and then presented the belt in the usual manner, and sat down.



Major Gladwyn then spoke. He told the chiefs that they should have the friendship of the English as long as they deserved it; but he declared that in case of any perfidy on their part they should be most fearfully punished. He then dismissed the council.

"I will come again in a few days," said Pontiac. "I will then bring my women and children; for I want them all to shake hands with their English father."

The chiefs then marched away as they had come. The gate, which had been closed during the council, was opened to allow them to pass out. Pontiac walked sullenly to the river, got into his canoe, and paddled back to the Ottawa village on the opposite shore.

On the following morning Pontiac again visited the fort. With him were three of his most trusted warriors, and in his hand he bore the pipe of peace. "My fathers," said he to the officers, "evil birds are flying in the air. They have whispered false tales in your ears. They have told you that we are not your friends. Believe them not. We love the English as brothers, and, to show that this is true, we have come to smoke the pipe of peace with you."

After smoking with the officers, the wily chief bade them good-by and went out to confer with the Wyandots and the Pottawattomies, and with them lay new plans for the destruction of the fort.

At about noon on the next day, the 9th of May, a great throng of savages appeared on the common behind the fort. "Why are the gates closed against us?" cried Pontiac. "My young men wish to go in and enjoy the fragrance of the calumet with their English fathers."

Gladwyn answered that the chief himself might come in if he wished, but that he would have none of his rabble inside of the stockade. Pontiac turned and strode back to his warriors. All pretense of friendship was at an end. Brandishing his tomahawk, he called out for vengeance, and his voice was answered by the yells of hundreds of enraged savages. The bloody work began at once. One party rushed madly toward a little house on the farther side of the common, where an old Englishwoman lived with her two sons. These they massacred. Others pushed off in canoes to the Isle au Cochon and murdered a discharged sergeant who had a garden there. The rage of Pontiac was so great that no man dared speak to him, and yet he took no part in these wild deeds. That very day he ordered the village of the Ottawas to be removed to the western shore, so that his warriors in going back and forth would not be delayed by the river. The wigwams were hastily taken down, and before the next morning all were ferried over and again erected on the green banks of the little stream then known as Parent's Creek, but since called Bloody Run. Another wild war dance was danced. Ottawas, Wyandots, Pottawattomies, and Chippewas, all rallied around the chief, and with fierce yells cried out for vengeance upon the hated English.

A resolute attack was then made upon the fort. From behind houses, fences, and trees the savages kept up a brisk fire all day long; but they were afraid of the small cannon in the blockhouses at the corners of the stockade, and did not dare to come near enough to do any damage.

Then a regular siege began. Savage bands from the west and south came, one after another, to the aid of Pontiac; and a host of bloodthirsty warriors surrounded the stockade day and night. The besieged were obliged to be on the watch every moment. For weeks neither officers nor men took off their clothes to sleep; their arms were always at hand; and every person was ready for duty at a moment's call.

The savages tried every means of annoyance. Floating fire rafts were sent down the river in order to destroy the two schooners that were anchored under the guns of the fort. Sharpshooters lurked in hiding places to pick off the sentinels who might carelessly show themselves above the defenses. Parties of warriors were sent out in every direction to cut off all help that might be sent to the beleaguered garrison.

In June a vessel containing supplies and a re-enforcement of fifty men was captured by the Indians. Soon afterward another vessel carrying provisions and ammunition reached the mouth of the Detroit River. There the men landed to pass the night; but while they slept a band of savages fell upon them and killed or captured almost the entire company.

In July a re-enforcement of two hundred and fifty soldiers under Captain Dalzell reached the fort in safety. On the next day a sortie was made against the Indian encampment near Parent's Brook. It was an unfortunate affair. The English fell into an ambush and were driven back with great loss. Not long after this, however, the Indians began to show signs of weakening. Their food was becoming exhausted, and they were suffering from hunger. They had expected to destroy the fort at a single blow, but as months went by and they were still kept outside of the stockade they lost their enthusiasm and their patience. As the time for the autumn hunt came on, they began to fall away; and with the beginning of winter only the Ottawas remained faithful to their chief.

Pontiac, although seeing that his cause was becoming hopeless, continued to annoy the garrison all winter and far into the next summer. At length Sir William Johnson, the British agent in western New York, succeeded in making a treaty of peace with the Senecas, then the most powerful of the Iroquois nations. This opened up the way along the southern shore of Lake Erie and made it possible to send relief to Detroit. A force of nearly three thousand soldiers was placed under the command of Colonel Bradstreet, who was instructed to give the Indians of the Northwest a thorough chastisement and compel them to sue for peace.

Most of the tribes, however, had already grown tired of the war, and were willing to make peace without compulsion. Bradstreet and his little army arrived at Detroit in August, and were received with great joy by the beleaguered garrison who for fifteen months had lived in the midst of alarms, cut off from all communication with the world. Pontiac himself had retired secretly into the forest, and it was an easy matter to arrange peace with his former followers. A great council was held and the savages readily agreed to bury the hatchet and become good subjects of the king of England. Bradstreet then sent detachments to take possession of Mackinac and the Sault Sainte Marie. The terrible war which Pontiac had inaugurated was at an end.

England in Full Possession

I. Bouquet

While the lake tribes were being subdued, Colonel Bouquet at Fort Pitt was preparing to invade the Ohio country and compel the Shawnees and other tribes of that region to sue for peace. Early in October, he set out from the forks of the Ohio with fifteen hundred soldiers. In front went a company of woodsmen, brawny wielders of the ax, who hewed their way through the forest and made a passable road for the host which followed. Behind was a long train of pack horses, and droves of cattle and sheep that were taken along for the subsistence of the troops. Their progress was slow, but on the tenth day they reached the Tuscarawas River at a point almost west of Fort Pitt and directly south of the place where the city of Cleveland now stands. They were now in the midst of the Indian country, and their coming struck terror into the hearts of the already conquered savages.

As Colonel Bouquet continued his march down to the Muskingum, the chiefs of the various bands met him and begged him to appoint a time and place for a council. This request was readily granted, and, on the day agreed upon, white men and red met under the spreading branches of oaks and maples, to discuss the questions of war and peace.

After all had smoked for a long time in silence, the spokesman of the Indians arose. His name was Turtle Heart, and he was a chief of the Delawares.

Soldiers and Indians


"Brother," said he, addressing Colonel Bouquet, "this war was neither your fault nor ours. It was the work of the nations that live to the westward, and of our wild young men who would have killed us if we had not consented. We now put away all evil from our hearts, and we hope that your mind and ours will once more be united together.

"Brother, it is the will of the Great Spirit that there should be peace between us. We, on our side, now take fast hold of the chain of friendship; but, as we cannot hold it alone, we desire that you will take hold also, and we must look up to the Great Spirit that he may make us strong, and not permit this chain to fall from our hands.

"Brother, these words come from our hearts, and not from our lips. You desire that we should deliver up your flesh and blood now captive among us; and to show you that we are sincere, we now return you as many of them as we have at present been able to bring. You shall receive the rest as soon as we have time to collect them."

Eighteen white prisoners were at once delivered up to their friends, and each chief gave to Bouquet a bundle of small sticks which indicated the number of captives still held by his people, and whom he agreed to set free as soon as possible. Three days later, another council was held, and Colonel Bouquet made a long speech to the assembled chiefs. It was a stern and unrelenting speech, and filled his red hearers with fear and humility.

"I give you twelve days," said Colonel Bouquet, "to deliver into my hands all the prisoners in your possession without exception; and you are to furnish these prisoners with clothing and provisions, and with horses to carry them to Fort Pitt. When you have fully complied with these conditions, you shall then know on what terms you may obtain the peace you sue for."

This speech had the desired effect of hastening matters; and when, a few weeks later, Bouquet's army marched back to Fort Pitt, more than two hundred men, women, and children, who had been delivered from captivity, returned with it and were restored to their relatives and friends. Many of these returned unwillingly; for the Indians had been kind to them, and they had grown to love the wild life of the woods.

II. The Last Hope Dispelled

Although defeated on every hand and deserted by his allies, Pontiac had not yet lost hope, nor was he among those who sued for peace. He had retired in disappointment and rage to the Wabash country, hoping to stir up the western tribes, and prevent them from making peace with the English. Here, indeed, he had more reason to hope for success.

For the French posts on the Wabash and the Mississippi had not yet been surrendered to the English. The French traders who still plied their vocation in these regions were fearful that the coming of the English would work their ruin; and they used every means to persuade the Indians to revolt.

"Your father, the king of France," said they, "intends surely to help you. Before many moons have passed you will see his white-coated warriors whom he has sent to fight for you. Do not trust the English; do not permit them to come near you. They want only to drive you from their homes, and to take your lands for their own."

Pontiac found numbers of Indians who were willing to promise him aid. He passed down the Wabash, stopping at the French posts of Ouiatenon and Vincennes, and visiting the villages of the Kickapoos, the Miamis, and the Piankeshaws. His fiery eloquence stirred the hearts of all that heard him; but no organized plan was made for resisting the English, who were sure to come. With four hundred warriors at his heels, he hastened across the prairies to Fort Chartres on the Mississippi, above whose bastions the white flag of France was still floating. The great chief had known the commandant, St. Ange, in happier days for them both, and he hoped now to gain his support.

"Father," said he, "I love the French, and I have come hither with my warriors to avenge their wrongs. I remember the battles which we fought together against the English dogs, and now I come to ask you to give me arms and ammunition and men, that I may carry on the war."

St. Ange was obliged to refuse this request; but he tried to soothe the wounded feelings of the chief by giving him presents and praising his courage. Pontiac, in bitterness of heart, turned away, angrily crying out against such hollow friendship.

III. The Last Post Given Up

Early in the summer of the following year, Sir William Johnson determined to send a trustworthy messenger to the Wabash country to prepare the French and Indians for the coming of the English forces. In looking about for a suitable person to undertake this perilous mission, whom could he better choose than our old acquaintance, George Croghan, who had been the companion of Gist in his famous visit to the Miamis fifteen years before? Croghan, with two boats and some white companions, started from Fort Pitt about the middle of May. Floating down the Ohio, he took careful note of its windings and of the nature of the country which it watered. The river flowed majestically onward through one vast stretch of wilderness land. Forests of oak and walnut and maple trees shut out the view on either side. Buffaloes and wild game of every kind were abundant, and the whole country seemed to be a hunter's paradise.

The Shawnees in the valley of the Scioto hastened to make their peace with Croghan. But as he passed farther down the Ohio he found the Indians less ready to submit to the English. In June, when near the mouth of the Wabash, he was taken prisoner by some strolling Kickapoos and Mascoutins, who probably thought that they were thus serving the cause of the French. Croghan, however, was so well acquainted with Indian character that he quickly won the esteem of his captors. They treated him with unwonted kindness, and carried him to Vincennes, where he found the French commandant very courteous, and quite ready to surrender the post whenever the English should demand it. There were at that time about eighty French families at Vincennes, living in contented ease upon the products of the forest and their little garden plots. On the outskirts of the village were clusters of Indian huts where certain of the Twightwees and other tribes dwelt under the protection of the French fort.

Croghan was allowed to remain only a day or two at Vincennes, and was then sent up the river to Ouiatenon. There he was set at liberty, and a council with the Indians was called. The French garrison had already abandoned the fort; but a dozen French families were living inside of the little stockade, and two or three traders were there for the purpose of buying furs. For several days Croghan was kept busy, smoking the peace pipe and making treaties with the various tribes that dwelt in that region. All seemed ready to receive their new rulers; They promised to give up any prisoners that were among them, and to hoist the English flag over their villages.

Having finished his business with these tribes, Croghan started across the country to Fort Chartres; but hardly had he lost sight of the Wabash when he was met by a band of warriors under the leadership of a stern, eagle-eyed chief whom he at once recognized as the great Pontiac. The meeting was a friendly one. Pontiac had lost all hope of receiving aid from the French, and he was now on his way to make peace with the English. "He was a shrewd, sensible Indian," said Croghan, afterward.

All now returned to Ouiatenon, and a solemn council was held with the Ottawa chief and his friends. Pontiac offered the belt of peace and declared his friendship for the English. He had been deceived by the French, he said; he would no longer stand in the way.

The speech in which Croghan replied to the great chief was so like an Indian's that every one of his dusky hearers was charmed with its eloquence, and all pledged their undying friendship to the English.

Croghan's mission to prepare the western tribes for the coming of the English was now ended, and he thought it unnecessary to go forward to Fort Chartres. He therefore hastened to Detroit, whither he was followed by Pontiac. Another council of peace was held with the lake tribes.

"Father," said Pontiac, "we have all smoked out of this pipe of peace. It is your children's pipe, and as the war is all over, and the Great Spirit and Giver of Light, who has made the earth and everything therein, has brought us all together this day for our mutual good, I declare to all nations that I have settled my peace with you . . .

Before the end of September, Croghan was at Oswego, New York, where he reported to Sir William Johnson all that he had seen and done. In the meanwhile Captain Thomas Stirling had been chosen as the best man to take possession of the Western country. With his famous Black Watch regiment, composed of a hundred and twenty Highlanders, he at once started down the Ohio. The voyage was a quick and prosperous one, and the regiment arrived at Fort Chartres without any mishap.

On the 10th of October the white flag of France, which had floated for half a century over that famous fortress, was hauled down, and the cross of St. George was hoisted in its stead.

Thus, at last, the Northwest was won by England. But England, as Mr. Bancroft says, had not achieved this conquest for herself. She became "not so much the possessor of the valley of the West as the trustee, commissioned to transfer it from the France of the Middle Ages to the free people who were making for humanity a new life in America."

A Yankee Traveler

I. Ambitious Plans

At the close of the war which gave the Northwest to the English there was living in Connecticut a dreamer of dreams whose name was Jonathan Carver. When a young man he had enlisted in the British army, and by his energy and courage he had finally

risen to the rank of captain. The great Northwest with its hidden mysteries and its future possibilities had interested him from his childhood. He had read of Jean Nicolet, of La Salle, of Hennepin, and of Verendrye; and he was fired with a desire to complete the discoveries which they had begun. He would trace the Mississippi to its source; he would lay bare the mystery of the great westward flowing river; he would discover the long-sought water route to the Pacific.

There were other less visionary plans which he hoped to carry out. He would make correct maps and charts of the country so lately added to the possessions of Great Britain, and he would gain a knowledge of its soil, its products, and its inhabitants. Then he would ascertain the breadth of the North American continent at its widest part, and would learn what was the nature of its surface and what the extent of its rivers and mountains. In case he should succeed in all these schemes, he proposed to establish a trading post on the Pacific coast near the so-called straits of Annian, which, having been discovered by Sir Francis Drake, belonged of course to the king of England.

In June, 1766, Captain Carver started from Boston on his enterprise of discovery. Three months later he reached Mackinac, the most western of the English posts on the lakes. There he obtained a supply of goods for use in dealing with the Indians, and then pushed onward to Green Bay.

At the head of the bay, and not far from the old Jesuit mission of St. Francis Xavier, there was a stockade which had been built by the French and called Fort la Baie. The history of this fort was well known to Carver. A small English force under Lieutenant Gorell had taken possession of it in 1761, and had rechristened it Fort Edward Augustus. The walls were in a ruinous condition, and the place was but poorly fitted to withstand an attack from any foe. But Lieutenant Gorell was as wise as he was brave. He treated the Indians with great fairness, and at the same time made them understand that he would punish any false dealing on their part. In this way he won their respect and friendship. Ten days after the bloody massacre at Mackinac, an Indian messenger brought the news to Green Bay, together with a letter of warning and advice from Captain Etherington, who was then a prisoner of the Ottawas.

Obedient to his captain's orders, Lieutenant Gorell abandoned Fort Edward Augustus and embarked all his men in canoes, saying that he was going to Mackinac to restore order. Ninety Indian warriors went with him. At the village of L'Arbre Croche, near Mackinac, he found Captain Etherington and eleven other prisoners—all who remained from the massacre—in the hands of the Ottawas. He called a council of the chiefs, and by wise and courageous action persuaded them to give the Englishmen their freedom. Then all embarked again, and escorted by a fleet of Indian canoes, started toward the white settlements in the east. A month later they reached Montreal, having come by the old French route down the Ottawa River.

II. An Early View of the Northwest

When Jonathan Carver reached Fort Edward Augustus it was in the same ruinous condition in which Lieutenant Gorell had left it. A few French families were living within the stockade, and on the other side of the river were some small French houses with little gardens around them. Carver thought that it was a very pleasant though lonely place, and the people seemed to be comfortable and contented.

Going on up the river, he came to Lake Winnebago, and visited the chief town of the Winnebagoes which was then on Doty's Island. Here were about fifty houses, all strongly built and surrounded by palisades. The ruler of the tribe was a woman, who received Carver kindly and entertained him as hospitably as she could. Farther up the lake was another but smaller town of the same tribe.

Carver, following the course of Marquette and Joliet, soon came to the portage between the Fox River and the Wisconsin. Here his canoe was carried for a mile and a half—part of the way over a wet meadow and part of the way through a straggling forest of oak and pine.

From the portage he descended the Wisconsin to the great village of the Sacs at the place now called Prairie du Sac. This village, if we are to believe his very doubtful story, was a wonderful place. He tells us that the houses were built of hewn planks with broad porches in front, and so disposed as to form long and beautiful streets. A great trade in provisions was carried on there, and lead was so plentiful that it could be picked up in the streets.

On the left bank of the Mississippi River, just above the mouth of the Wisconsin, was Prairie du Chien, the principal village of the Fox Indians, which Carver describes as being another very busy place. Throughout this whole region not a single white man was to be found; but while passing through Lake Pepin, a few days later, the traveler was shown the ruins of the fort where Legardeur de St. Pierre had lived and traded with the Sioux more than twenty years before.

Our traveler explored the country along both banks of the Mississippi as far as to the St. Francis River in Minnesota. One day as he was standing near the place now occupied by the twin cities, St. Paul and Minneapolis, he pictured to himself the future of the region about the head waters of the Mississippi. Here, thought he, was a place designed by nature for the seat of a future great empire. Eastward, the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence would afford an easy communication with the Atlantic seaboard. Southward, the Great River would give ready access to the Gulf. Westward, there would doubtless soon be discovered some practical route to the Pacific coast. Northward, there were water ways leading to Hudson Bay and the unexplored regions bordered by the Arctic seas. And then, as if gifted with the spirit of prophecy, Carver made this note in his journal: "As the seat of empire from time immemorial has been gradually progressive toward the west, there is no doubt that, at some future period, mighty kingdoms will emerge from these wildernesses, and stately palaces and solemn temples, with gilded spires reaching the skies, will supplant the Indian huts, whose only decorations are the barbarous trophies of their vanquished enemies."

III. Carver's Grant

For one whole winter, Carver lived among the Sioux Indians, and according to his own account he made himself so agreeable to these savages of the distant West that they adopted him into their tribe and made him one of their chiefs. While sitting by the camp fires of his dusky friends, or resting in their wigwams, he busied himself taking notes of his discoveries and making maps of the Northwest country. His maps were drawn with much care and were based both upon his own observations and upon the reports brought to him by the Indians.

He believed that the great westward flowing river which Verendrye and St. Pierre had sought for in vain would yet be discovered; and in one of his maps he placed its source in a small lake a little way west of the source of the Mississippi. This river he called the "Origan," and he traced its probable course as it flowed through unbounded plains to the far distant Pacific. As for the Rocky Mountains, mentioned by Legardeur de St. Pierre, he argued that they had no existence except as "a single peak of bright stones "rising out of the plains north of the great river.

For some reason which he never explained, Carver did not go much farther west. Late in the summer he returned to the lakes, and in the following year he reached Boston. He had traveled, according to his own estimate, about seven thousand miles. His theories and the story of his explorations awakened much interest; and there were men of wealth who were willing to aid him in finding a way from the Mississippi to the Pacific. But trouble was already brewing between the colonies and the mother country, and, before any plans could be matured, the breaking out of the Revolutionary War put an end to all further thoughts of new discoveries in the distant West.

After the death of Carver his descendants claimed that the Sioux Indians had granted to him a tract of land more than a hundred miles square in the western part of what is now the state of Wisconsin. A deed in Carver's hand-writing, signed by two Indian chiefs, was presented in evidence of this grant. In it the boundary line of this tract was described as beginning at the Falls of St. Anthony and running thence "on the east banks of the Mississippi, nearly southeast, as far as the south end of Lake Pepin, and from thence eastward five days' travel, accounting twenty English miles per day, and from thence north six days' travel, and from thence again to the Falls of St. Anthony on a direct straight line." Many persistent efforts were made to induce Congress to confirm and legalize this grant, but all finally failed. For nearly fifty years the territory, known as "Carver's Tract," was distinctly marked and named on all maps of the Northwest.

A Noble Red Man

I. A Dastardly Deed

While Pontiac and his warriors were carrying terror and destruction to many English posts in the Northwest, there was one Iroquois Indian of great influence who remained the firm friend of the whites. This was Tah-gah-jute, the son of a chief of the Cayugas. He had been brought up near a Moravian settlement in central Pennsylvania, and had been given an English name, John Logan, in honor of the secretary of William Penn, who was revered as a steadfast friend of the Indians. It is by this name that he is always known in history.

Logan, until misfortunes overwhelmed him, was one of Nature's noblemen. Among white people and red he was famed, not only for his fine appearance and his engaging manners, but also for the uprightness of his character. He was more than six feet tall, straight as an arrow, handsome in form and feature, an Apollo of the wildwood. He was courteous to all men, and gentle particularly to children. His word, once given, was never broken; he was loyal to his friends; he seemed to be the very soul of honor. The Indians of all tribes respected him for his courage and for his skill as a hunter. The rude backwoodsmen and the white vagabonds of the frontier esteemed him as a man superior to themselves, declaring that he was "the best specimen of humanity they had ever met with."

During the progress of Pontiac's war, Logan kept himself aloof from the rest of his people. He spent his time in hunting and trapping among the mountains and in dressing skins to sell to the Pennsylvanian traders. When his savage friends tried to persuade him to dig up the hatchet and join them on the warpath, he plainly told them that he preferred to stay at home with his wife and children.

A short time after the close of the war he removed with his family to the banks of the Ohio not far from where the town of Steubenville now stands. The Mingoes, who were relatives of the Iroquois, and whose homes were in that region, had long admired Logan for his woodcraft and his wisdom, and they now chose him to be their chief. He found that many white men had collected at different places in the country south of the Ohio. Some of these were criminals who had fled to the wilderness to escape punishment for their wicked deeds; some were hunters who liked nothing so well as the wild, rough life of the frontier; some were traders, with a plentiful supply of fire water for the Indians and no sense of honor in their hearts; a few were honest pioneers anxious to make new homes in the wilderness.

These men were the vanguard of the great western movement which was just then beginning, and which in time was to overrun and subdue the better part of the continent. They would have crossed the Ohio and opened settlements in the Northwest had they dared; but the English Parliament had made that river the boundary line between Virginia and the Indian country, and no white man was permitted to settle or remain on its northern side. Often, however, in spite of all this, some lawless border ruffian would push his way into the forbidden land and perhaps commit some outrage upon the savage inhabitants. Then the Indians would retaliate by crossing to the south side of the river and doing a like injury to the settlers there.

Matters were in this state when Chief Logan set up his lodge on the banks of Yellow Creek on the north side of the Ohio. There was much ill feeling between the Indians and the backwoodsmen, and as time went on this feeling grew worse and worse. At last the crisis came. A daring pioneer, named Walter Kelly, had made his home in the woods of the Kenawha Valley, eighty miles from the nearest stockade. One night a prowling band of Shawnees came upon the lonely cabin, burned it to the ground, and murdered the pioneer and his defenseless family. Soon after this it was reported that some other Indians had crossed the Ohio and stolen several horses from a party of land-grabbers who were encamped near the Kenawha.

The ruffians and backwoodsmen cried loudly for vengeance. They were anxious for an Indian war, and these two outrages seemed to give them an excuse for beginning it. Lord Dunmore, the royal governor of Virginia, had reasons of his own for wishing to punish the Indians, and he at once sent word to the backwoodsmen to be in readiness to repel any attack that the Indians might make upon them. This was rightly understood as meaning that they might attack the Indians if they chose.

The land-grabbers sought out Michael Cresap, the son of a famous frontiersman of the same name, and made him their captain. With them also was a daring young Virginian, George Rogers Clark, who had come out to survey a grant of land near the mouth of the Kenawha. Other men joined them, hunters, backwoodsmen, and lawless vagabonds, and all marched down to the spot where the city of Wheeling now stands. There were already a dozen log houses and a stockade there; and Colonel Zane, the founder of the settlement, gave the company a generous welcome.

A few days afterward Captain Cresap, with a few of his men, waylaid a small company of friendly Indians in canoes, killed and scalped them, and returned to Wheeling, boasting of what they had done. Colonel Zane, and some of the better men among the pioneers, loudly condemned this deed, declaring that such wanton murder would call for revenge and provoke a bloody Indian war.

"That is just what we want!" cried the ruffians. "Nothing can help this colony so much as a good Indian war."

That same evening Cresap learned that a party of Shawnees was encamped at the mouth of Captina Creek, a few miles below Wheeling. The next morning he led his company out, attacked the unsuspecting savages, and shot three of them, the others escaping into the woods.

Having begun the work of slaughter, these white men thirsted for more and more blood. The nearest settlement of Indians was that of the Mingoes under Logan, several miles up the river. Under the rule of their wise and gentle-hearted chief they had always been known as the friends of the white people; but they were Indians, and to Cresap and his followers all Indians were alike. Some of the men proposed that, since the war had now begun, they should march upon Logan's camp on Yellow Creek and destroy it. They thereupon crossed the river and started upon their savage errand.

But there were some in the company who had not lost all sense of humanity. They began to think of the kind of errand upon which they were bent. They were marching, not against enemies, but against friends. They were planning to murder defenseless women and children; for they knew that Logan's warriors were absent hunting. They had not gone many miles, therefore, before they began to feel ashamed of themselves. A halt was called, and all the better men among them declared that they would go no farther. Cresap, perhaps not unwillingly, was obliged to change his plans, and all returned to Wheeling.

On the left-hand bank of the Ohio, opposite the mouth of Yellow Creek, was a tract of fertile land called "Baker's Bottom "from the name of a backwoods trader who had built a cabin there. To this place came thirty-two of the most lawless men of the border, determined upon the destruction of Logan's camp. They were led by Daniel Greathouse, a ruffian of the lowest type who had persuaded them that the Indians were about to make a raid across the river at that point.

Baker's trade was the selling of whisky to the Indians; and the Mingoes, both men and women, were in the habit of crossing the river to buy liquor from him. Being a man without conscience or character, he was easily persuaded by Greathouse to help carry out a plot, one of the most disgraceful in the history of the Northwest.

Indians in the Old Northwest


On the last day of April a small party of Indian women and children paddled across the river and were lured to Baker's cabin. In the party were several of Logan's own family, and others who were dear to him. While Greathouse and his men lay hidden in the woods, Baker plied his visitors with liquor. Three of the men became hopelessly drunk, and the other warriors were persuaded to empty their guns by firing at a mark. Then Greathouse and four or five others suddenly rushed out and murdered them all except a little babe, the child of Logan's sister. Some Indians on the other side of the river, hearing the guns, jumped into their canoes and paddled across to the help of their friends, but before they could reach the shore they were fired upon by the white ruffians who were waiting for them, and nearly all were killed.

This cold-blooded outrage set the whole Indian country ablaze. Runners were sent to convey the news to all the tribes, and soon a strong war party under Logan had crossed the river, and was carrying death and destruction to all the white settlements along the border. The war which Lord Dunmore and Captain Cresap had thought would result in so much benefit to Virginia was actually begun.

The colony of Pennsylvania had all along held that white settlers should not encroach upon the country of the Indians. The Pennsylvanians wished to trade with the savages, not to dispossess them of their lands, and for that reason were anxious to keep their friendship. They therefore sent messages to the different tribes, deploring the outrages that had been committed, and condemning the lawless men who were responsible for them.

In the great struggle which followed, the Indians retained their friendship toward Pennsylvania, and sought revenge only upon Virginia. But since all the Monongahela Valley was claimed by Virginia, many of the first incursions of the savages were into territory which now forms a part of Pennsylvania.

II. Lord Dunmore's War

Lord Dunmore lost no time in preparing to crush the Indians of the Northwest. At the head of an army of fifteen hundred Virginians he marched to Fort Pitt. From that place, with a fleet of a hundred canoes, he descended the Ohio to the mouth of the Hock-hocking, where he built a stockade which he called Fort Gore. Then he marched across the country westward to the Scioto, and established a fortified camp, not far from Old Chillicothe, the principal town of the Shawnees. From this camp various parties were sent out against the different Indian settlements in the valley of the Scioto, villages were burned, cornfields were destroyed, and the savage bands were scattered and driven into the thick forest.

In the meanwhile, an army of frontiersmen, under Colonel Lewis, had marched down the Kenawha, and had camped at Point Pleasant, on the south side of the Ohio. There, while waiting for orders from Lord Dunmore, they were suddenly attacked by a large Indian war party under a Shawnee chief, known as Cornstalk. The battle that followed was one of the most desperate that has ever been fought between white men and red. There were about a thousand men on each side, and from early dawn until nearly sunset the conflict raged with varying fortune. Finally, by a well-conducted flank movement, the Virginians made a fierce and resistless charge upon the Indians. The latter were panic-stricken; they fled in great disorder across the Ohio, and hastened with what speed they could toward their villages on the Scioto. There, however, they found Lord Dunmore, ravaging their homes and carrying destruction before him. Disheartened and wholly subdued, Cornstalk, with his leading warriors, humbly appeared before Dunmore and begged for peace.

Cornstalk had gone into the war unwillingly. He had urged his people, at the very beginning, to make peace with the Virginians; but his hot-headed young men would not listen to his advice. At last, in sheer desperation, he cried out, "Since you will fight, you shall fight!" and plunged with all his savage energy into the conflict. The end was as he had foreseen. His conquered people were obliged to accept any terms that the haughty English lord would give.

A council was held, and a treaty was made. The Indians solemnly promised that no white man on the Ohio should be molested, and that none of their own people should be permitted to cross to the southern side of that river. They also agreed to give up all their prisoners and return the horses that had been stolen from the whites. On the other hand, Lord Dunmore promised that no white man should be permitted to land on the north bank of the Ohio, or to enter the Indian country—a promise which, like all others made to the Indians, was never intended to be kept.

III. Chief Logan's Speech

During all this unhappy war, Logan, the Mingo chief, had been one of the most active among the Indian leaders. The thought of the wrongs which he had suffered urged him to seek revenge. At the head of his band of young men, he made raid after raid into the settlements across the Ohio; but even while he was killing and burning and carrying terror before him, his strange tenderness of heart would often assert itself, and the kindliness of his nature would stay his hand. Frequently, at the moment of victory, he would spare those whom he had set out to destroy; and more than one captive was saved from torture and death by his timely interposition.

At last, when defeat came, Logan was not among those who sued for peace. When urged to attend the council with Lord Dunmore, he sullenly refused, saying that he was not a talker but a fighter. John Gibson, a frontiers-man well acquainted with the Indians, was sent to speak with him. He led Gibson aside into the edge of a grove, and there delivered a speech which the frontiersman wrote down and carried to Lord Dunmore. This speech is the most famous specimen of Indian oratory that has come down to us, and I quote it here in the condensed form in which it was written out and published by Thomas Jefferson, ten years after its delivery. It must be remembered that while the thoughts are Logan's the manner of expressing them is Jefferson's.

"I appeal to any white man to say if ever he entered Logan's cabin hungry, and he gave him not meat; if ever he came cold and naked and he clothed him not. During the course of the last long and bloody war, Logan remained idle in his cabin, an advocate of peace. Such was my love for the whites that my countrymen pointed as they passed and said, 'Logan is the friend of the white man.' I had even thought to have lived with you but for the injuries of one man. Colonel Cresap, the last spring, in cold blood and unprovoked, murdered all the relations of Logan, not even sparing my women and children. There runs not a drop of my blood in the veins of any living creature. This called on me for revenge. I have sought it. I have killed many. I have fully glutted my vengeance. For my country I rejoice at the beams of peace; but do not harbor a thought that mine is the joy of fear. Logan never felt fear. He will not turn on his heel to save his life. Who is there to mourn for Logan? Not one."

One evening, around a camp fire on the Scioto, were gathered a number of backwoodsmen and borderers who had followed Lord Dunmore in his conquest of the Ohio Valley. Among them were George Rogers Clark, Michael Cresap, Simon Kenton, and some others whose names are famous in the annals of the Northwest. One of them had obtained a copy of Logan's speech, and read it aloud by the light of the flames. They listened and could but admire its pathetic eloquence and the proud disdain with which Logan disclaimed any desire for peace on his own account.

"And you, Cresap," cried George Rogers Clark, turning sharply around, "what a great man you are! Why, you not only get credit for all your own deeds, but the Indians put everything else on your shoulders."

Cresap sprang up in anger. "If Dan Greathouse were here," he exclaimed, "I would tomahawk him for that dastardly murder of Logan's kin!"

After the war Logan felt himself alone in the world. He wandered from place to place, having no home and caring little for the friendship either of red men or of white. Conflicting stories are told of the manner of his death, but there is little doubt that he was treacherously slain by one of his own people to whom he had given some slight offense.

Logan's plight


Lord Dunmore's war accomplished much more than Dunmore himself could have dreamed. It so completely cowed the Indian tribes of the Northwest that when the Revolution began, a year later, they hesitated to make an alliance with Great Britain for the purpose of attacking the frontiers of Virginia; it opened the way for the settlement of the rich Kentucky region south of the Ohio; it strengthened the claim which Virginia was making for the possession of the greater part of the Northwest; and, finally, it made it possible for the Northwest to be won by the colonial forces, and, therefore, in the end, to become a part of the United States instead of remaining a part of Canada.

For Savagery, or for Civilization?

I. The Policy of the English King

At the time that Vincennes and the posts in the Illinois Country were delivered up to the English the French population of the Northwest did not greatly exceed five thousand. In this number were included strolling traders, voyageurs, coureurs de bois, and about five hundred negro slaves.

The French disliked the thought of becoming subjects of the king of England. In Canada they could not help themselves, and therefore had to make the best of it; but many of those who lived in the Illinois Country abandoned their homes and crossed the Mississippi where they supposed the French king still held possession. They did not know that all the region beyond the river had been secretly ceded to Spain. Some of them gathered about the new post of St. Louis; others settled at the somewhat older village of St. Genevieve, nearly opposite Kaskaskia; and still others made their way southward to New Orleans.

No settlers from the colonies east of the Alleghanies came into the Northwest to make up for the loss of these emigrants. The country remained a savage wilderness with no white inhabitants save the few French people who remained in their little settlements, and the soldiers and traders who were stationed at the English posts. It was the intention of the British government to resign the entire region north of the Ohio to the possession of the Indian tribes to make of it a true Indian country under the protection of the English crown.

Not only were the colonists in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York forbidden to make settlements in the Northwest, but all entrance into that region was prohibited, and it was proposed to destroy the settlements which already existed there.

Three years before the beginning of our Revolutionary War, orders came from England to dislodge the French in the Wabash Country; and General Gage, the British military commander in the Northwest, made proclamation warning all white settlers, English as well as French, to remove from the country. But it was shown that the people at Vincennes had clear titles to their lands, some of them made nearly seventy years before; and when the matter was appealed to those higher in authority, the order of banishment, although not withdrawn, was allowed to rest unheeded and unenforced.

About a year before the battle of Lexington, a law was enacted by the British Parliament declaring the whole of the Northwest to be a part of Canada, restoring the laws that had been in force during the French rule, and confirming the Catholic priesthood in all their former rights, privileges, and property. It was a strange enactment, and was designed to benefit neither the French inhabitants nor the Catholic clergy, but to prevent the American colonists, who were now making themselves heard, from getting possession of the richest portion of the continent. The colonists were already on the verge of revolution; and the passage of this law increased the bitterness with which they were beginning to regard the mother country.

Virginia claimed the greater part of the Northwest as her own. It was hers by the terms of the charter which she had received from King James in 1609. New York also claimed a large portion of the same territory, having acquired it through various treaties with the Iroquois Indians. Pennsylvania also had claims based on a treaty made with the Iroquois at Lancaster. All the colonies had aided in rescuing this region from the French, and they now saw it about to be severed from them and formed into a vast inland province from which white men must be excluded. Every true American cried out against this act of Parliament. It was one of the many deeds of tyranny with which the people charged the English king, and was therefore one of the causes of the American Revolution.

In the meanwhile, the Indians of the Northwest were becoming reconciled to the English government, and at the same time bitterly hostile to the colonists. Why was this? The English king had assured them that their hunting grounds should not be invaded; his soldiers were ready to protect them from intrusion; his traders gave them good goods in exchange for their peltries, and supplied them with an abundance of cheap rum. The colonists, on the other hand, were eager to open up settlements in the wilderness; they wished to destroy the Indians' hunting grounds in order to make homes for themselves; and they cared nothing for trade with the savages nor did they wish their friendship on any terms.

When, therefore, the war of the Revolution broke out, the Indians were soon won over to the side of the English king. General Hamilton, the lieutenant-governor of Canada with headquarters at Detroit, had but to send out his war belt, and thousands of warriors were ready to seize the tomahawk and scalping knife and join in bloody forays upon the American frontiers.

The commanders of the British posts on the Wabash and the upper Mississippi encouraged the savages to send out bands to lay waste the borders of Virginia and destroy the newly formed settlements south of the Ohio. By direction of the king's ministers, the Indians were supplied with arms and ammunition for carrying on their murderous warfare; and by order of General Hamilton prizes were offered for the scalps of Americans, whether of men, women, or children. In the spring of a single year, no fewer than fifteen bands of bloodthirsty savages crossed the Ohio, and urged on by promises from the king's officers, committed many fiendish outrages.

How were the American people, while struggling for their independence, to put a stop to such barbarities? How could the scattered settlers in the frontier regions of Kentucky and Virginia be protected from the raids of these savage bands? How could the great Northwest, rich in undeveloped resources, be won for American homes and American control? The solution of these questions was made possible by the wisdom and daring of a young Virginian whose acquaintance we have already made—George Rogers Clark.

The Hannibal of the Northwest

I. The County of Kentucky

George Rogers Clark was but twenty-two years old when he accompanied Lord Dunmore's expedition into the Ohio wilderness. He was born of good parentage in Albermarle county, Virginia, and had the true instincts of a bold frontiersman and leader of men. His business was that of surveyor, and upon his first visit to the border, a short time before Cresap's murderous exploits, he made himself known among the frontiersmen by his skill in woodcraft, no less than by his fearlessness and untiring energy.

Early in the spring, after the close of Dunmore's war, Clark gave up his claim on the Kenawha and went down to Kentucky where Daniel Boone and other bold pioneers were just beginning to found a new commonwealth in the wilderness. After spending some weeks in that land of promise, he returned to his home in Virginia, where he learned that the war between the colonies and the mother country had actually begun.



The next summer he was again in Kentucky, having walked there alone through the unbroken wilderness. He spent much of his time in the woods, but visited all the little settlements and became acquainted with the hardy pioneers, making himself useful to them in many ways, and being chosen ` by them to command the backwoods militia. The settlements were in constant danger of attacks by the Indians; and since the region was claimed by Virginia as a part of her possessions, the pioneers naturally looked to her for some sort of protection. But Virginia was very busy with other affairs just then, and the handful of pioneers in distant Kentucky began to feel as if they had been forgotten.

At last the Kentuckians chose two delegates to go to Virginia and lay their case before the governor and the state convention at Williamsburg. George Rogers Clark was one of the delegates; and in accepting the appointment he declared that if their petition should be refused, the Kentucky colonists ought to take matters in their own hands and set up an independent state.

[Illustration] from Conquest of the Old Northwest by James Baldwin


When the two men reached Williamsburg, they found that the convention had already adjourned, and they must deal directly with the governor, Patrick Henry. The petition which they carried prayed that the new settlements might be formed into an independent county, and that the "prime riflemen "of Kentucky might be given an opportunity to do their part in the struggle that was then going on with Great Britain. Clark also asked for five hundred pounds of gunpowder for the use of the riflemen; and when this was about to be refused he pointedly told the governor that a country which was not worth defending was not worth claiming. In the end he obtained the powder; and later, when the convention reassembled, the new county of Kentucky was formed with boundaries nearly the same as those of the present state.

II. The "Long Knives" of the Border

In the following spring the Indian raids upon the border settlements became so frequent as to be truly alarming. One savage band after another crossed the Ohio, hunting for scalps to sell to the British commander at Detroit. They skulked stealthily through the forest and appeared suddenly where they were least expected. The pioneer working in his clearing was shot down by some hidden foe; his house was burned; his cattle were destroyed; his family was carried into captivity. The hunter returning home with his game was waylaid and murdered. Women going to the spring for water were tomahawked by lurking savages. Children playing on the doorstep were snatched up by some Indian hawk and never again seen by their parents. Outside of the forts no life was safe. If matters went on in this way, there would soon be an end to the settlements west of the Alleghanies.

No man understood the situation better than George Rogers Clark; and he at once began making plans not only to protect the Kentucky settlements but to save the whole Northwest. He first sent two young hunters to Vincennes and the Illinois Country to learn how strong the British were at those places, and whether the French settlers were friendly to them. They came back in June, and their report was so favorable that Clark decided to make a bold movement for the conquest of the entire region north of the Ohio. The "prime riflemen "of Kentucky were willing to follow him wherever he should lead, but they were too few to undertake so great an enterprise without aid from others. He must have more men; and he therefore hurried back to Virginia to lay his scheme before the governor. Winter had already begun when he reached Williamsburg.

Patrick Henry, the governor, listened with great interest to the plans which Clark unfolded. He was willing and anxious to help carry out the enterprise, but the fighting men of Virginia were all needed to oppose the British armies along the seaboard, and none could be spared for the defense of the West. At last, however, Clark was given a colonel's commission, and was authorized to raise seven companies, each of forty men, in the backwoods settlements west of the Alleghanies. To each man was promised a bounty of three hundred acres of land in the conquered territory.

When Colonel Clark was ready to leave Williamsburg the governor handed him two sets of instructions. One

of these directed him to give full protection to the Kentucky settlements; the other, which was kept secret, authorized him to attack the British post at Kaskaskia. The governor also gave him twelve hundred dollars in paper money, together with an order upon the American commandant at Fort Pitt for as much powder as his men would need.

The name of George Rogers Clark was well known to the backwoodsmen in the valley of the Monongahela, and many of them hastened to enlist under his command. But in May, when he finally started from Redstone Old Fort (Brownsville), Pennsylvania, and by way of Fort Pitt embarked upon the Ohio, only about one hundred and fifty men were ready to follow him. They went down the river in a small flotilla of boats, and with them were several families of fearless settlers, intent on finding new homes in the distant West, despite of the dangers to be encountered there. At the mouth of the Kenawha River another company of backwoodsmen joined the little army; but as yet no one except Clark himself supposed that they were to go beyond the Kentucky border.

The men whom Colonel Clark was leading to the conquest of the Northwest had been gathered from the scattered clearings, the hunters' camps, and the lonely log cabins along the streams which flow down the western slopes of the mountains. They were of the same type as their Kentucky kinsmen whom they were hastening to succor. You must not think of them as uniformed soldiers, marching in rank and file to the sound of the drum and fife. They were clad in their hunter's garb: a fur cap, a fringed hunting shirt of buckskin, held at the waist by a broad belt, leggings also of buckskin, and moccasins of untanned leather.



For weapons each carried a long flintlock rifle, very heavy and clumsy, but sure to hit the mark at a hundred paces; and some had scalping knives and small tomahawks stuck in their belts. They knew nothing about military drill, but they were skilled in woodcraft and in Indian fighting, and were famed alike for their hardihood and daring. Among the savages they were known as "Long Knives," probably because of their weapons, but more probably because of their fearless energy and the terrible determination with which they were accustomed to punish their enemies.

When the flotilla reached the falls of the Ohio, all landed on a little island opposite the site of the present city of Louisville. Here the settlers who were in the company decided to remain with their families, and a stockade was built for their protection. Log cabins were put up inside of the stockade; the trees and underbrush surrounding it were cleared away; and corn was planted in the rich soil. The island was named Corn Island, and its location seemed so safe and withal so pleasant that many of the backwoodsmen were tempted to make it their home.

Colonel Clark spent several days on Corn Island, drilling his rude soldiers; and there he was joined by a number of recruits from the Kentucky settlements and from eastern Tennessee. At length, when he deemed that the time had come for going forward, he made known to his men the plan which he had in mind to march against the British posts. The most of them received this announcement with cheers, and were eager to follow him; but a few openly refused to go farther, and finally deserted him and returned to their homes.

III. The Capture of Kaskaskia

On the 24th of June, the little army again embarked upon the Ohio. The boats were poled up the stream until they were fairly within the main channel; then, being skillfully propelled with the current, all passed safely over the falls. At the very moment that they were shooting swiftly through the rapids, the sun was darkened in a total eclipse. The backwoodsmen, ignorant of the cause of this phenomenon, hailed it as an omen of success, and with cheers and shouts of encouragement rowed onward down the swift stream.

After two days and two nights of steady work at the oars, the party landed near the spot where stood the old French post of Fort Massac, now deserted and in ruins. Some hunters who had just come from the French settlements on the Mississippi happened to be encamped at the same place, and one of them agreed to pilot the little army across the country.

Colonel Clark had decided to strike the first blow at Kaskaskia, for he had learned that the British garrison there was not so strong as that at Vincennes. He had also made up his mind that in case he should not be successful, he would retreat across the Mississippi, and find refuge among the Spanish at St. Louis. He was now a hundred and thirty mid from Kaskaskia, and the country through which he intended to march would have been impassable to any ordinary army. It would have been easier to go all the way by water, but he knew that spies were kept on the Mississippi below the British posts, and these might carry the news to Kaskaskia of his coming and thus put the enemy on guard. He therefore hid his boats in a little creek near Fort Massac, and began the toilsome march across the country.

The route lay for the most part through a low, flat, prairie region, intersected by sluggish streams and muddy swamps. It was a strange army that struggled through this untrodden wilderness to the conquest of an empire. There was neither a horse, nor a cannon, nor a uniformed soldier in the entire force. Wading through ponds and marshes, swimming across creeks and rivers, floundering in boundless fields of black mud, toiling through seas of matted weeds and prairie grass, the dauntless Long Knives pushed bravely on in a northwestwardly course.

Soon after dark on the 4th of July, they reached a point on the south bank of the Kaskaskia River, which they were told was less than a mile above the town. Here was a farmhouse in which a Frenchman lived with his large family; and from the Frenchman, Colonel Clark learned many particulars about the state of affairs at the British post. A number of boats were found moored to the bank, and soon the whole army was rowed across to the opposite shore, and landed in the outskirts of the town. Colonel Clark hastily formed his men in fighting order, and made them a brief speech, telling them that "the place must be taken at all events."

The garrison was under the command of a certain M. Rochebiave, a French officer who had joined the British army; and at the time of Colonel, Clark's arrival, most of the men were at a dance in the guard hall of the fort, having no thought that an enemy was marching against them. The commandant himself was in bed.

Some of the Americans, with Colonel Clark at their head, burst suddenly upon the party of merrymakers, and demanded the surrender of the fort.

"You may go on with your fun," said Clark, "but remember that you are now dancing under the flag of Virginia, instead of that of Great Britain."

There was no resistance. Some of the Virginians who could speak French ran through the village, telling the people what had happened, and warning them that every person seen in the streets would be shot down. All the roads were guarded to prevent any one from escaping and carrying the alarm to the other villages.

Clark, George Rodgers


"I don't suppose," says Clark, "that greater silence ever reigned among the inhabitants of a place than did at this. Not a person could be seen; not a word could be heard from them for some time. But, designedly, the greatest noise was kept up by our troops through every quarter of the town; . . . and in about two hours the whole of the inhabitants were disarmed, and informed that if one was taken attempting to make his escape, he should be immediately put to death."

The French people were much alarmed. They had heard strange tales of the barbarity and cruelty of the Long Knives, and had been taught to regard them as wild beasts in human form. They waited in great fear throughout the night, expecting to be massacred in their homes.

Father Gibault


Early in the morning, Father Gibault, the priest of the village, came with some of the leading citizens, and begged Colonel Clark to be merciful to the unoffending people. "If they must be carried into captivity," said the priest, "we trust that, in the goodness of your heart, you will not separate parents from their children; and we also pray that you will permit each person to carry away such clothing and food as may be necessary for the support of life."

"Do you take us for savages?" cried Colonel Clark. "Do you think that Americans intend to strip women and children, or take the bread out of their mouths? Please inform your people that they are at liberty to go about their business as usual, and that none of them will be disturbed."

The priest lost no time in carrying the good news to his flock, and soon there was general rejoicing through the village. French settlers, relieved from all fear, hastened to welcome the Americans as their deliverers from the yoke of the British. M. Michel, one of the wealthiest men in the village, invited Colonel Clark to his home a fine French house with broad piazzas on every side, an ideal place in the midst of half-savage surroundings.

A volunteer company of French militia joined the Americans, and a detachment of thirty horsemen under Captain Bowman was sent up the left bank of the Mississippi to surprise Cahokia, and the other French settlements north of Kaskaskia. The people of these places, hearing how kindly the Americans had treated the Kaskaskians, joyfully welcomed them as friends. Fort Chartres, which had once been the "most commodious and best-built fort in North America," was found deserted and in ruins. The river had undermined its walls.

Thus, without the loss of a man, Colonel Clark had by one bold stroke made himself the master of all the posts in the Illinois Country. This was but little more, however, than the beginning of the great work which he had set out to do. His next move was to overawe and conciliate the Indians. At Cahokia he held numerous councils with the chiefs of the leading tribes of the Northwest, and by his skillful management won their friendship.

"The Long Knife is our brother," said they. "We will help him fight the redcoats."

"I do not want your help," said Clark. "All I ask is that you stand out of my way while I am driving the red-coats out of your country."

Ten days after the capture of Kaskaskia Father Gibault and a few other Frenchmen of great influence were sent to Vincennes to persuade the settlers on the Wabash to surrender peaceably to the Americans. The British commander at Vincennes had lately gone to Detroit, and the place was without defenders. After listening to Father Gibault, the people went in a body to the church and there took the oath of allegiance to Virginia. Officers were chosen, a body of militia was formed, and they hastened to take possession of the empty fort, which was known as Fort Sackville, and to hoist the American flag above its walls. The French began now "to act as freemen," says Colonel Clark. "They began as citizens of the United States, and informed the Indians that their old father, the king of France, was come to life again and was mad at them for fighting for the English, that they would advise them to make peace with the Americans as soon as they could. The Indians began to think seriously. Throughout the country this was the kind of language they generally got from their ancient friends of the Wabash and the Illinois."

About the first of August, Father Gibault returned to Kaskaskia with the good news. Colonel Clark was greatly pleased with the success of the enterprise. Had he, indeed, conquered the whole of the Northwest without fighting? In order to give the people of Vincennes the support which they had a right to expect, he sent Captain Leonard Helm with a single soldier whose name was Henry, to take charge of the post at that place.

IV. "The Grand Door to the Wabash"

The two Americans arrived safe at Vincennes and were welcomed with much heartiness by the French inhabitants. Captain Helm carried with him a letter from Colonel Clark to the chief of the Piankeshaws who lived in the neighborhood. This chief was called by his people "The Grand Door to the Wabash," and such was his power that nothing could be done among the Indians without his consent. Colonel Clark was very anxious, therefore, to make this man his friend.

In a few days a messenger brought from the chief an answer to the letter. He told Captain Helm that he was glad to see one of the Long-Knife chiefs in Vincennes; but that, since the matter to be decided was an important one, he must talk with his counselors about it. Would not the chief of the Long Knives be patient?

The captain tried to be very patient, and in the course of time he received an invitation to attend a council of the Piankeshaws and their friends. The council met; the chiefs and the captain smoked long and solemnly; and then the Grand Door to the Wabash arose to speak. He declared that the eyes of his people had been opened and that his warriors would bloody the land no more for the English. He leaped in the air, struck his breast, called himself a brave chief, said that he was a Long Knife, and took Captain Helm by the hands. The other chiefs followed his example, and the evening was spent in merriment. The next day Captain Helm went back to his fort, glad that this matter had been brought to so happy an ending.

In the meanwhile, still other good fortune was in store for Colonel Clark at Kaskaskia. A rich Spanish trader named Francois Vigo, whose home was at the Spanish post of St. Louis, came across the river to visit him. He was anxious, he said, to take the hand of the American commander who had so skillfully captured the Illinois posts. He was so highly pleased with what had been done that he gave Clark twelve thousand dollars in gold, in exchange for written orders on the French commandant at New Orleans; for France had lately made a treaty with the United States and was now actively aiding the Americans in their war for freedom. Not long afterward, Vigo supplied Clark with still other funds; and from New Orleans came seventy-three hundred dollars in gold, besides a boat load of powder and swivels for the use of the backwoods army.

Without the aid of Vigo, Colonel Clark could not have paid his soldiers, he could not have maintained himself in the Illinois Country, and the conquest of the Northwest might never have been completed. It is sad to relate that this benefactor of our country, Francois Vigo, was never repaid for the services which he so generously rendered. Nearly sixty years later he died at Terre Haute, Indiana, childless and in poverty, while nearly twenty thousand dollars which he had lent to Clark remained unpaid. A county in Indiana has been named in his honor. The people of the Northwest should remember his services and build him a monument.

When the news of Clark's conquest reached the capital of Virginia, the governor and assembly began at once to devise means for holding on to the possessions thus wrested from Great Britain. The whole country north of the Ohio was erected into a new county, to be known as the County of Illinois, with its seat of government at Kaskaskia. Captain John Todd, a Virginian of influence who was serving in Clark's army, was appointed the first governor of this vast region, and he was instructed to "cultivate and emulate the affections of the French and Indians," and to aid Colonel Clark in his military operations.

V. The "Hair-Buyer General"

Long before any word of these matters could be carried to Kaskaskia, a new danger threatened which seemed likely to turn the tide of American success. Of course the news of Clark's invasion soon reached the ears of Henry Hamilton, the lieutenant-governor of Canada and British commandant at Detroit. The "hair-buyer general," as Hamilton was called on account of his paying bounties for scalps, was just then busy planning an expedition against Fort Pitt; for he had never dreamed that the Americans would venture to attack the Illinois posts. On the very day that the first rumor came of the surrender of Vincennes he had sent out a party of savage warriors to harry the defenseless settlements beyond the Ohio. "I pray the Master of Life to give you success," he said, as he presented a bright new tomahawk to a painted chief and sent him forth on his bloody errand.

The first news from Vincennes did not trouble him much. "The post has probably been surprised by a strolling company of backwoodsmen," he said; "it will be easy enough to take it again." But when word came soon after that not only Vincennes but all the Illinois posts were in the hands of the Americans, he began to bestir himself. He saw that he must make some decisive movement or else lose the entire Northwest. His first care was to secure the help of his Indian neighbors. He held a great powwow with the Ottawas, the Pottawattomies, and the Chippewas whose villages were near Detroit. Oxen were roasted whole over glowing heaps of charcoal; and red men and white men feasted together, and danced the war dance, and whetted their scalping knives, and vowed to stand by each other as brothers until every Long-Knife rebel was destroyed.

For many days every man at Detroit—British, French, or Indian—was busy helping to get things ready. Fifteen large boats were loaded with provisions, powder and lead, clothing, and other supplies, and sent on in advance to the mouth of the Maumee. On the 7th of October, Hamilton with his little army was ready to start. His force consisted of a hundred and seventy-seven British and French, and about sixty Indians; but so many other savages joined him on the way that before he reached Vincennes he found himself in command of more than five hundred men.

As the men in their boats pushed off into the Detroit River, Father Potier, the venerable Jesuit priest, stood on the bank and gave his solemn blessing to the French volunteers who were thus embarking in the service of the king of England. The party rowed down the Detroit River to. Lake Erie, and then crossed, in the face of a blinding snowstorm, to a point near the mouth of the Maumee, where now stands the city of Toledo. There they remained a day, putting their boats in order and shivering with cold, for the wind was so strong that they could not light a fire. Very early on the following morning they began the ascent of the river, some in boats, some in canoes, and some marching in a disorderly manner along the shore.

Wabash River Valley


There had been but little rain during the fall, and the waters of the Maumee were very low. In some places the boats scraped upon the muddy bottom, or grounded upon a sand bank. The progress of the party was very slow, and it took more than two weeks to reach the portage at the forks of the river. Some of the boats, with all the baggage, besides several canoes, were then carried nine miles to Little River, one of the sources of the Wabash. "Here," says Hamilton, "the waters were so uncommonly low that we should not have been able to pass but that at a distance of four miles from the landing place the beavers had made a dam which kept up the water; this we cut through to give a passage to our boats, and having taken in our lading at the landing passed all the boats. The beaver are never molested at that place by the traders or Indians, and soon repair their dam, which is a most serviceable work upon this difficult communication."

Twenty miles below this place the little army reached the Wabash, but their troubles were not yet at an end. The river was not only shallow, but was full of floating ice, which threatened to crush the boats, and made all progress dangerous. "It was sometimes a day's work," says Hamilton, "to get the distance of half a league." They stopped at every Indian village to hold council with the chiefs, to give presents, and to persuade the warriors to join them. Near the Wea village, where stood the old fort of Ouiatenon, they captured four Frenchmen from Vincennes, whom Captain Helm had sent out as scouts to look for their approach. Soon afterward heavy rains came on, and the river grew deeper. The boats were now more easily managed, and the rest of the voyage was soon accomplished. Hamilton, with his motley following, reached Vincennes on the 17th of December, having been seventy-one days in coming from Detroit.

[Illustration] from Conquest of the Old Northwest by James Baldwin


Captain Helm did not learn of the approach of the enemy until the red coats of the British were within sight of the town. The French militia who had helped him garrison the fort were much alarmed, for they knew that they could not hold the place against so strong a M force. They were therefore allowed to go to their homes, and the only garrison left in the fort was Captain Helm and his single soldier, Henry. How should these two men defend the place against five hundred? 4 Fort Sackville was in a half-ruined plight. It was a mere stockade, without barracks, and was in no way fitted to withstand a siege. There was not even a well inside the walls, and there was no lock to the gate. But it contained two cannon, two swivels, and some ammunition; and Captain Helm made up his mind not to surrender without some show of resistance.

A loaded cannon was wheeled to the open gate, and Henry stood by it, ready to fire upon the approaching enemy. Hamilton, at the head of his British regulars, came forward and demanded the surrender of the garrison.

No man shall enter here," said Captain Helm, until I know the terms."

"You shall have the honors of war," said Hamilton, supposing that the fort was filled with Long Knives.

Helm, after a short parley, accepted the terms, and between lines of red-coated British and painted Indians the garrison marched out—one officer and one man. Just what were Hamilton's feelings when he saw that this was the entire strength of the Americans at Vincennes he does not tell us. He at once took possession of the fort, and began to put it in better condition. Some of his Indian allies camped on the outskirts of the town, and others returned to their homes. The winter was now well begun, and he deemed it prudent to wait until spring before marching against Colonel Clark at Kaskaskia.

On the second day after taking the fort, Hamilton summoned all the people of Vincennes to meet in the church. There were in all six hundred and twenty-one men, women, and children; but some of the men were absent hunting buffaloes. When they had assembled according to his order, he required them to ask God's forgiveness for being so wicked as to take sides with the Americans; and then every man was made to take an oath to be a good and faithful subject of the king of England. It is not likely that many of these light-hearted Frenchmen regarded this oath as a binding one, or remembered it longer than their own safety required.

VI. The Winning of Vincennes

In the meanwhile Colonel Clark was spending most of his time at Cahokia, making treaties with the Indians and otherwise strengthening his position. It was not until in January that he heard that Hamilton had retaken Vincennes. What should he do? He knew that if he staid

in the Illinois towns until spring, the British and Indians would march against him with a superior force, and either capture his little band of backwoodsmen or drive them across the Mississippi. But he was not the man to think of retreating. He began at once to prepare for defense. He sent out scouts and runners to keep him informed of Hamilton's movements. He strengthened the fort at Kaskaskia. He drilled his soldiers every day and kept them in constant readiness for an attack.

One day near the end of January Colonel Vigo suddenly appeared in Kaskaskia, bringing important news from the Wabash. Some time before Christmas he had gone from Kaskaskia to Vincennes to carry money and other aid to Captain Helm. Not knowing that the latter place had been captured by the British, he had been taken prisoner by an Indian scouting party and delivered up to the "hair-buyer general." Hamilton, he said, had treated him kindly, and, as he was a Spanish citizen, had allowed him to return to St. Louis upon his promise that, during his journey thither, he should do nothing to injure the British cause. Vigo had hastened back to St. Louis; and then, feeling no longer bound by his promise, he had recrossed the Mississippi and hurried to Kaskaskia to tell Colonel Clark all that he had learned.

He said that Hamilton had sent the most of his troops back to Detroit, and that only about eighty men remained in the garrison at Vincennes. Most of the Indians also were gone to their homes for the winter. It was Hamilton's intention to recall all these in the early spring and, with five hundred southern Indians who had promised to join him, make an attack up Kaskaskia.

"I think that this is your time for action," said Vigo.

I think so, too," answered Clark; and he began to get ready to march immediately against Vincennes. Within a week he had equipped a large rowboat with two small cannon and six swivels and loaded her with supplies. This boat, which he named the Willing, he placed in command of Captain John Rogers with forty-six men, who was directed to take her round to the mouth of the Wabash and there wait for further orders. On the afternoon of the 4th of February, the Willing started on her voyage, while the soldiers and the people of Kaskaskia stood on the shore and bade her Godspeed. It is worth remembering that she was the first American gun-boat that ever floated on our inland waters.

The very next day Colonel Clark with one hundred and seventy men marched out of Kaskaskia. Father Gibault, standing by the roadside, blessed the backwoods heroes as they passed, and the whole town turned out to see them start on their long journey. They crossed the Kaskaskia River and marched to a knoll three miles away, where they encamped to wait for some needful supplies. Two days later they started in earnest across the bleak prairies. The distance to Vincennes by the route which they followed was more than two hundred miles. The winter had been a mild one, and the spring freshets had already begun. The prairies were covered with mud and ice, the water courses were swollen, the meadows were flooded, there were no roads, no bridges. Often the men were obliged to wade; sometimes they were waist deep in water; none but those accustomed to the hardships of pioneer life could have endured that painful march. But Clark himself led them, suffering cold and hunger and privation with the rest, and by his cheerful words encouraging every man to do his best.

On the thirteenth day after starting, they were within nine miles of Vincennes, and heard the morning gun from the fort. But the whole country was covered with water, and there was no place on which to encamp. It was necessary now to change their course, and on the following morning they reached a spot of dry ground on the bank of the Wabash some distance below the town. Here they paused for a little rest. A rough canoe was hewn from a drifting log, and two men undertook to paddle it down the river to meet the Willing.

Soon afterward a boat with five Frenchmen in it was seen crossing the stream. On being hailed by the sentry, the men came ashore and were questioned by Colonel Clark. They told him that the British in the fort were resting at their ease and had no thought of an enemy being near. The people of Vincennes, they said, were heartily tired of English rule and would gladly welcome the Virginians. They not only offered Colonel Clark their boat, but told him of two canoes that were adrift above them and could easily be obtained.

Three days later, in the boat and the canoes, the army was ferried across the Wabash to a little hill, called by the Frenchmen the "Mamelle." From this spot the soldiers were obliged to wade four miles through water which came sometimes to their necks. "We plunged into it with courage," says one of the men, "Colonel Clark being first, taking care to have the boats take those that were weak and numbed with cold."

They finally reached a dry spot of ground covering about ten acres, and there the little army had a much-needed rest. "Fortunately, as if designed by Providence," says Colonel Clark, "a canoe of Indian squaws and children was coming up to town and took through part of the plain as a nigh way. It was discovered by our canoes. They gave chase and took the Indian canoe, on board of which was near half a quarter of buffalo, some corn, tallow, and kettles. This was a grand prize, and was invaluable. Broth was immediately made and served out to the most weakly with care. This little refreshment, and fine weather, by the afternoon, gave new life to the whole. Crossing a narrow deep lake, in the canoes, and marching some distance, we came to a copse of timber called Warriors Island. We were now in full view of the town, not a shrub between us, at about two miles distant."

In the meanwhile Hamilton, secure in his fort, was unaware of the approach of an enemy. He supposed that Clark and his backwoodsmen were still in Kaskaskia. One night word was brought to him that a number of camp fires could be seen on the high ground south of the town. This did not alarm him, for he supposed that they had been built by Indians; but in the morning he sent out a company of scouts to find out about them. The scouts, rather than cross the great stretch of water that lay between them and the place where the fires were seen, rode out by another way and failed to find anything at all. That very evening Clark and his men made a bold rush into the town. Some of the soldiers went through the streets to let the people know of their coming, and a band of riflemen pushed forward and threw up earthworks in front of the fort.

Hamilton, when he first heard the noise in the town, supposed that it was made by some carousing Indians; but when he saw the Americans actually within rifle shot of the fort he hastily manned his guns and tried to open fire upon them. By this time many of Clark's men were in position, and as often as the portholes were opened, they poured in such a volley of musket shots that the cannon were very soon silenced. Several men in the fort were severely wounded.

The next morning Colonel Clark sent a letter to Hamilton ordering him to surrender, and declaring that if it became necessary to storm the fort he should have the "treatment justly due to a murderer." While waiting for answer to this summons the Americans ate a breakfast which had been supplied to them by the townspeople. It was the first "meal of victuals "they had had for six days.

In a short time an answer came from the fort: "Lieutenant-Governor Hamilton begs leave to acquaint Colonel Clark that he and his garrison are not disposed to be awed into any action unworthy of British subjects."

Then the firing began again, hot on both sides; but in the afternoon Hamilton sent a second letter, this time asking for a truce of three days. Clark answered that, while he would consider no terms but surrender, he would consent to have a conference at the church, if Hamilton would meet him there with Captain Helm who was a prisoner in the fort.

There was a stormy meeting at the church. Hamilton tried in vain to secure favorable terms of surrender; while Clark, stubbornly refusing, upbraided him for sending out Indian marauding parties to lay waste the border settlements. "I told him that I knew the greater part of the principal Indian partisans of Detroit were with him; that I wanted an excuse to put them to death, or otherwise treat them as I thought proper; that the cries of the widows and the fatherless, on the frontiers, now required their blood at my hands."

In the meantime a terrible tragedy was going on outside. A party of Indians whom Hamilton had sent across the Ohio on a foray upon the border settlements had just returned in triumph, expecting the usual rewards. As they did not know that the Americans were in the town, they were easily entrapped and captured. While Clark was parleying in the church, his men tomahawked these savages in front of the fort and threw their bodies into the river.

Before the day was ended, Hamilton agreed that the garrison should surrender as prisoners of war. It was a great humiliation to him to be obliged to yield, as he said, to "a set of uncivilized Virginia woodsmen armed with rifles "; but what else could he do? His men seventy-nine in all marched out and laid down their arms. The British flag was hauled down, the American colors were again hoisted, and the stockade received a new name, Fort Patrick Henry.

News had already come that some volunteers from Detroit were on their way down the Wabash to reinforce Hamilton, bringing with them several boat loads of provisions, clothing, and ammunition. No sooner was the fort in his hands than Colonel Clark sent Captain Helm with fifty-two men to meet and capture this party. Three weeks later Helm returned, having met the boats near Ouiatenon and taken forty prisoners besides the supplies which were valued at fifty thousand dollars. At about the same time the gunboat Willing arrived, having been long delayed by the strong currents of the flooded river. The men on board were much cast down because they were too late to help with the fighting; but they rejoiced with their comrades over the complete victory that had been gained.

So many prisoners had been taken, that Clark found himself unable to keep them, and he released the most of them on parole. Hamilton and his leading officers were sent under a guard to Virginia. The journey thither, as we already know, was a long and hard one in those days, and they traveled for the greater part of the way on foot. It was already May when the guard reached Williamsburg, and they were the first to tell in Virginia the story of the conquest of Vincennes. So slowly did news travel in those days.

Hamilton, for "instigating the Indians to practice every species of barbarism upon American citizens without distinction of age, sex, or condition," was imprisoned in irons. He remained a prisoner for nearly eighteen months, and was then permitted to go to New York on parole.

Pioneer village


Colonel Clark was now in full control of the Illinois Country and the Wabash Valley, and the British had no longer a sufficient force at Detroit to cause him any uneasiness. In a word, by a bold march and a series of masterly movements comparable to the famous achievements of Hannibal in olden times, he had won the entire Northwest for the United States of America. When the treaty of peace should be signed at the close of the Revolutionary War, the vast region between the Ohio and the Great Lakes would not be a part of Canada but a possession of the new republic.

The Magna Charta of the Northwest

I. The Question of Ownership

By the treaty of peace signed at Paris after the close of the Revolutionary War, the whole of the Northwest, extending to the Lake of the Woods and the Mississippi River, was transferred to the United States. Neither British nor Americans had any true idea of the vast importance of this region. The British regarded it only as an Indian country, a wilderness of woods and prairies likely to remain for ages without civilized inhabitants. It was valuable for its furs and the profits that might be derived from trade with the Indians—nothing else. The Americans claimed it by right of conquest. They knew something about the wonderful richness of its soil, and supposed that certain portions might in time become settled by the overflowing population of the Atlantic states. "The Americans, in pushing their possessions to the distant West, are preparing for their remote posterity a communication with the Pacific," wrote one of the ministers of France. This was true, but the Americans did not realize that it was so.

One of the first great questions to be settled by the American Congress was, "To which of the states does the territory northwest of the river Ohio belong?" Virginia claimed almost the whole of it, and cited the charter which she had received from King James I. in 1609, and which described her boundaries as including almost everything between the Atlantic and the Pacific. But Connecticut also had an old charter, granting to her the zone lying between 410 0' and 42° 2' north latitude, and extending from Rhode Island to the South Sea. She therefore laid claim to a strip about sixty miles broad, stretching across the whole width of the Northwest. Massachusetts, for a similar reason, claimed a somewhat wider strip north of that of Connecticut. New York, being unable to show any charter from an English king, based her claims upon the deed by which the Iroquois Indians, more than eighty years before, had ceded away all their hunting grounds between the Great Lakes and the Ohio.

There is no telling how the disputes growing out of these conflicting claims would have been settled, had it not been for the firmness of the three small states, Delaware, New Jersey, and Maryland. These states had always had definite western boundaries, and they were unable to find any excuse whatever for claiming for themselves a part of the territory beyond the Alleghanies. They believed that the possession of the Northwest by Virginia, or any other of the larger states, would give that state too much power, and be injurious to the nation as a whole; and they refused to join the Union unless the sole control of that territory should be given to the federal government. Delaware and New Jersey soon gave up the fight; but Maryland held out until New York agreed to surrender everything to the jurisdiction of Congress. It was not long until Virginia, whose claim was probably stronger than that of any other state, gave up her title to the Northwest. Two years later, Massachusetts followed suit, and deeded to the Federal government all her lands west of the western boundary of New York. The territory thus ceded embraced the southern half of the present states of Michigan and Wisconsin.

Connecticut was loth to give up her claims; but in 1786 she yielded so far as to cede all of her strip except that portion which lay between its eastern boundary and a north and south line drawn a hundred and twenty miles west of that boundary. The tract which she thus retained extended across the northern part of Ohio, and has since been known as the Western Reserve. It was supposed to include about four million five hundred thousand acres; but of course it had never been surveyed, and its exact area was unknown. With the exception of this reservation, which was to remain for some time under the control of Connecticut, the whole of the Old Northwest was now united as one territory under the government of the Congress of the United States. It was known officially and on the maps as "The Territory Northwest of the River Ohio."

But the states were not the only claimants which it became necessary to satisfy. The Indians whose homes and hunting grounds were in this region, had really the best right to it. It is true that they did not make much use of the land, and they scarcely knew what was meant by land ownership. But it would not have been just to deprive them of their hunting grounds without giving them something in return.

Treaties were therefore held with the chiefs of the Iroquois and with those of their vassal tribes, the Wyandots, Chippewas, Ottawas, Delawares, and Shawnees; and the red men agreed to give up all claims to the lands immediately adjoining the Ohio, keeping for themselves only a few reservations, and the regions bordering the lakes. They of course had but a very dim understanding of what this compact meant. The most of them supposed that the wilderness would still remain in its wildness, and that they would be free to come and go, just as in the time when the French were the owners of the soil.

II. The Great Ordinance

The Northwest being now a part of the public domain of the United States, it became the duty of Congress to devise laws for its government. An Ordinance was therefore passed which secured to the future inhabitants of that region the rights of freemen, and hastened the coming of that prosperity which gives to the Northwest its preeminence to-day. Among the public documents of all ages this Ordinance deserves to be ranked with the Declaration of Independence and the Magna Charta of Old England—documents which, as Lord Brougham has said, should always hang in the cabinets of kings. "I doubt," says Daniel Webster, "whether one single law of any lawgiver, ancient or modern, has produced effects of more distinct, marked, and lasting character than the Ordinance of 1787."

This Ordinance provided that the territory, when its population became sufficiently large, might be divided into not less than three nor more than five states, and that whenever any state should have sixty thousand inhabitants it might be admitted into the Union "on an equal footing with the original states in all respects whatever." Moreover, these states, when once in the Union, could never be separated from it by any means or under any circumstances.

The most important provisions were those relating to slavery and education—they marked a distinct step in advance of any other public utterances that had ever been made. When we remember that slaves were held at that time in all the original states, and that there was no general sentiment in favor of universal freedom, we can but wonder at this declaration: "There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said Territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted."

The honor of originating this section of the great Ordinance has been claimed for both Thomas Jefferson of Virginia and Nathan Dane of Massachusetts. It is certain that Richard Henry Lee and William Grayson, delegates in Congress from Virginia, were also very active in laboring for its passage. And it is interesting to remember that it was finally adopted unanimously, and that of the eighteen delegates who voted for it eleven were from Southern states.

Yet, notwithstanding the prohibition of slavery, involuntary servitude was long permitted in the Northwest. Slavery had been authorized there by Louis XIV., while the country was under the rule of France. Many of the French settlers at Kaskaskia and on the Wabash were still the owners of slaves, and their right to continue to hold them was not disputed. Other settlers who afterward came into the territory from the south or the east sometimes brought with them the bondmen which the laws of the older states permitted them to own, and they were seldom molested. Indeed, for several years, the sentiment of the people in the Northwest was favorable to slavery, and at one time a convention was called and a petition drawn up, praying Congress to suspend this article of the Ordinance. It was not until more than fifty years after this region became a part of the American republic that slavery was wholly abolished within its limits.

The article on education was rather indefinite in its nature, for it made nothing obligatory; but it served as a rallying-cry for the friends of progress, and in the years that followed helped not a little in promoting the cause of the public schools. It was very brief: "Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged."

Two years before this, Congress had passed a land ordinance providing for the survey and sale of the millions of acres included in the public domain north of the Ohio. This ordinance directed that in every congressional township of thirty-six sections of land, one section (six hundred and forty acres) should be reserved "for the maintenance of common schools within the said township." This was the beginning of a custom which has resulted in giving to every western state in the Union a magnificent school fund; for from that time the practice of setting apart for educational purposes one thirty-sixth of all the public lands has been always observed. It gave to the public schools in the five states of the Old Northwest nearly five millions of acres, the sale of which has produced for the free education of her children nearly twenty millions of dollars. It also gave to each state one entire township, or a little more than twenty-three thousand acres for the founding and support of a state university.

[Illustration] from Conquest of the Old Northwest by James Baldwin


Among other provisions of the great Ordinance was one doing away with the old English law of primogeniture, and declaring that all the property of a deceased person should be divided equally among his children. Another gave to every person the right to worship as he believed best. Still another declared that every citizen having a freehold of fifty acres should be entitled to vote. The section which related to the Indians is interesting chiefly because of the manner in which it was afterward wholly ignored. "The utmost good faith shall always be observed toward the Indians; their lands and their property shall never be taken from them without their consent; and in their property, rights, and liberty they shall never be invaded or disturbed, unless in just and lawful wars authorized by Congress; but laws, founded in justice and humanity, shall from time to time be made for preventing wrongs being done to them, and for preserving peace and friendship with them."

Settlers on the Ohio

I. The First Colony

Ten days after the passage of the great Ordinance, Congress made its first important sale of public lands in the Northwest. The buyers were a company of New England speculators calling themselves the Ohio Company (very different from the first "Ohio Company" of which Washington was a member), and their leader was a Massachusetts clergyman named Manasseh Cutler. The land which they had selected fronted upon the north bank of the Ohio, and lay chiefly between the mouth of the Muskingum and that of the Scioto. It was supposed to contain one million five hundred thousand acres, and the amount to be paid for it was one million dollars in soldiers certificates.

Already a great tide of immigration into the newly opened region had set in from the East. While some of the first people to come were honest hunters, who loved the woods and felt a pure delight in facing the dangers of pioneer life, others were merely the refuse of the older settlements, restless vagabonds such as are always found moving along in the van of civilization. Many were ruffians of the worst sort, criminals escaped from justice, half-savages, who came into the wilderness in order to indulge their wicked instincts. These built their cabins and squatted here and there, wherever their fancy led them. They never stopped to ask about the ownership of the land, but were regardless alike of the rights of the Indians and of the laws of their own government.

River boats on the Ohio


Following this scum of the earth came the real settlers—men who were attracted thither by the cheapness of the land and its amazing fertility, and who hoped to build in the new country permanent homes for themselves and their children. They crossed the mountains in wagons, carrying all their earthly goods with them. When they reached the Youghiogheny, or the Monongahela, flatboats were built to carry them to Pittsburg, and thence down the Ohio to such places as they deemed most inviting for new settlements. These flatboats were rude affairs, hastily put together, and built neither for speed nor for comfort. They carried an average of about twenty persons each, besides livestock, household goods, and farming implements. On the decks of the larger boats rough shelters of canvas or of boards were built for the protection of the women and children during the tedious voyage. It is said that within the first four months of the year 1788 more than two hundred of these rude craft passed down the river to various points along its shores.

As soon as the Ohio Company had secured a title to its great tract in the Muskingum Valley, efforts were made to induce people of the better sort, and especially old soldiers whom the war had made poor, to go west and settle upon its lands. Early in the spring, a large party of New Englanders, with General Rufus Putnam as their leader, set out for the country of promise. A long barge, bullet-proof and stanch, had been built for them on the Youghiogheny, and named the Mayflower in memory of the historic vessel which had borne the Pilgrim Fathers to the shores of the New World.

On the second day of April, the pioneers with their families and their household effects were safely embarked, and the Mayflower was swiftly propelled down the stream, now swollen and turbulent with the rains of spring. The voyage was marked by few adventures. The boat glided into the broader stream of the Monongahela, and holding steadily on its way, was soon floating past the heights where stood Fort Pitt, the key to the Ohio Valley. Once on the beautiful river, the progress of the voyagers was quite rapid; and on the seventh of the month, they saw through the fog of the spring morning the dim outlines of a stockade—Fort Harmar—below the mouth of the Muskingum. Here they brought the Mayflower to a halt; with great labor they pushed her against the current, and guided her into the smaller stream where the water flowed with less turbulence.

Fourth of July


The peninsula on their right was covered with a growth of forest trees among which could be seen strange mounds and earth-works, built ages before by an unknown race. It was a lovely spot, and there the pioneers decided to make their homes. The Mayflower was moored to the eastern bank of the Muskingum, and the little company disembarked. Log cabins were hastily built; plots of ground were cleared; grain was planted; and a stockade, called Campus Martius, was erected for security against the Indians. Such was the beginning of the first American colony planted within the limits of the Old Northwest. "No colony in America," said Washington, "was ever settled under such favorable circumstances." In the course of the first year, a hundred and thirty-two men, with fifteen families, arrived, and the new city of Marietta so named in honor of the French queen, Marie Antoinette was laid out.

The Fourth of July was celebrated with great speech-making, and a banquet at which the colonists and their visitors were regaled with "venison barbecued, buffalo steaks, bear meat, wild fowl, and a little pork, as the choicest luxury of all." Five days later, General St. Clair, the newly appointed governor of the Northwest Territory, arrived at the settlement; and on the fifteenth, he made his grand public entrance into the little city, where he was received by General Putnam and the citizens "with the most sincere and universal congratulations."

Before the summer was ended the governor had organized a great tract of territory, including the eastern half of the present state of Ohio, into a county, which he named Washington County. Judges and other officers were appointed, and a county court was opened in one of the blockhouses of the Campus Martius. It was a great day in the annals of the Old Northwest, for it marked the beginning of a new order of things the—American order. The sheriff, from the doorstep of the rude little courthouse, made proclamation:— "Oyez! Oyez! a court is open for the administration of even-handed justice, to the poor and the rich, to the guilty and the innocent, without respect of persons; none to be punished without trial by their peers, and then in pursuance of the laws and evidence in the case." Then the Rev. Manasseh Cutler offered up a prayer in the presence of the governor and of the judges seated on their high benches of justice, the officers were called up and duly sworn, and the business of the day was begun.

Oyez! Oyez!


Thus was the first county organized, thus was the first court of justice opened, and thus was the American idea of civil government first introduced into the Old Northwest.

II. Losantiville

It was not long until other settlements were begun at widely separated points in the newly opened country. Judge John Cleves Symmes of New Jersey purchased a large tract of land fronting on the Ohio and lying between the Great Miami and Little Miami rivers. The tract was supposed to comprise a million acres, but when it was surveyed, it proved to contain not quite one third of that amount.

A little more than five months after the arrival of the New England settlers at Marietta, several well-loaded barges, bearing sixty colonists from New Jersey, floated down the river. These people were well supplied with household necessities and farming tools, and carried with them fourteen large wagons and fifty-six horses. Late in September they landed near the mouth of the Little Miami, and at a point opposite the place where the Licking pours its Kentucky waters into the Ohio they marked out a plan for a town. But there were Indians in the neighborhood, and the settlers feared to remain. They therefore returned to their barges and rowed back to Maysville, a new settlement on the Kentucky side of the river. Before Christmas, however, many of them descended again to the Little Miami, a blockhouse was built, land was cleared, and the colony was established in its new home.

"What name shall we give to our settlement?" asked the colonists.

Fort Washington


The leaders of the enterprise suggested calling it Cincinnati, in honor of the patriotic society that had been organized at the close of the Revolution. But John Filson, a schoolmaster who was surveying the town and laying off its streets, insisted that it should have a name that meant something.

"Call it Losantiville," said he.

"But what does Losantiville mean?"

"It is a word made up from four languages. Translating it backward, as we must often do in Latin, it means ville (French) the town, anti (Greek) opposite, os (Latin) the mouth, L (an English abbreviation) the Licking—the town opposite the mouth of the Licking:"

The ingenuity of the schoolmaster pleased the settlers, and the name Losantiville was adopted; but when Governor St. Clair paid a visit to the place a year later, he declared that the town should be called Cincinnati. A palisaded fort was soon built for its protection, and named Fort Washington; and three hundred soldiers were sent to occupy it and overawe the Indian tribes who were already becoming alarmed at the rapid incoming of settlers.

The Conquering White Man

I. Beyond the Border

It was several years before any important settlements were attempted west of the Great Miami. In the Wabash Country and the Illinois Country, the Indians still roved unmolested, and but few white men ventured to invade the wild solitudes of the woods and prairies.

The French people at the old posts of Vincennes and Kaskaskia were in a distressing condition. When George Rogers Clark invaded their country, they did all they could to help him. They gave him money and supplies, and in many cases impoverished themselves to aid the American cause. In return they received only certificates of indebtedness from the Virginia government and most of these certificates were never paid. Later on, some lawless Americans, pretending to be officers from Virginia, visited their settlements and oppressed and robbed the simple people in a most shameful manner. To add to the sum of their misfortunes, there were heavy rains, and the rivers, swollen to unusual heights, swept away their crops; early frosts destroyed their corn; and the Indians, who had formerly been their friends, were now their enemies.

In their great distress to whom should these people turn if not to the Americans who claimed jurisdiction of their country? Father Gibault, our old acquaintance who had given such valuable aid to George Rogers Clark, accordingly sent a memorial to Governor St. Clair, telling him of the sad condition of his people. "Loaded with misery, and groaning under the weight of misfortunes accumulated since the Virginia troops entered their country," said he, "the unhappy inhabitants throw themselves under the protection of your excellency."

When the governor visited these distant settlements in the following spring, he found that all he had been told was true. To him the French settlers appeared to be the gentlest and kindest people he had ever met. But they were woefully ignorant, not one in fifty being able to read or write. Their modes of life and methods of labor had not changed for a century. They were honest and cheerful, constant in their attendance at church, and devoutly religious. But they had not kept pace with the progress of the world, and seemed to belong rather to the Middle Ages than to the new era of progress which was then dawning over the world.

The territorial legislature, before which their case was finally laid, could not restore to them their former prosperity, nor do much to reconcile them to the new order of things. Indeed, among the pushing Americans who were laying the foundations of a great new empire in the Northwest, there were few who felt any sympathy for these slow-going people of an alien race.

In the lake regions the British still held the ports of Detroit and Mackinac, and through them all the northern part of the Northwest Territory. This was done in direct violation of the treaty of peace signed in 1783; but the United States was not yet strong enough to assert its full rights. And so the fur trade of the Northwest remained in the hands of the English; English agents continued to deal with the Indian tribes; and English influence long delayed the settlement of the lake country. It was believed, too, and not without reason, that English intrigues had much to do in inciting the Indians to make war upon the colonists in the Ohio Valley.

II. Harmar

The Indians had never felt friendly toward the Americans. The coming of so many settlers into the southern part of their ancient hunting grounds filled them with alarm. The lawless deeds of white ruffians, who had entered their country for purposes of plunder, exasperated them beyond measure.

Although the red men no longer crossed the Ohio to harry the Kentucky borders, yet bands of Kentuckians still made warlike raids into the Indian country, and took tenfold vengeance for the injuries they had suffered in former years. Even when treaties were made and signed, the whites were the first to break them. "The frontier settlers," said Washington, "entertain the opinion that there is not the same crime (or indeed no crime at all) in killing an Indian as in killing a white man."

Under these circumstances what could be more natural than that the tribes should refuse to abide by the treaties which their chiefs had made, and combine to resist the invaders? Stung to madness, they demanded that the whites should withdraw to the south of the Ohio; and a long and bloody war began.

The pioneers who had ventured farthest into the wilderness were of course the first to suffer. Prowling bands of Indians infested the woods and made life outside of a stockade very insecure. Their modes of harassing the backwoodsmen seemed to vary with their varying moods. Sometimes they "contented themselves with seizing the horses or driving away the cattle of an emigrant, depriving the wretched family of the means of support, and reserving further vengeance until a more suitable time. Sometimes an Indian warrior would creep into a settlement by stealth and create general dismay by carrying away a child, or robbing a family of the wife and mother. Sometimes a father was the victim, and the mother and children found themselves alone in the backwoods deprived of their protector and provider. Many a lonely cabin was attacked in the night and all the inmates pitilessly slain."

In order to put an end to these barbarities, and oblige the savages to abide by the treaties they had made, it was decided to send out General Harmar with a body of troops to punish the restless tribes as severely as possible.

On a day in early October General Harmar left Fort Washington at the head of nearly fifteen hundred men, intending to invade and overrun the country of the Miamis. The little army marched northward, following almost the same route that Celoron with his French soldiers had taken thirty-six years before. Within a little over two weeks he reached the Miami villages near the old Maumee portage and not far from the present site of Fort Wayne. The villages were deserted; but Harmar burned their three hundred huts and a large supply of corn which he found stored away. And then, like some would-be heroes of a later time, he reported to his superiors that he had dealt the enemy a terrible blow and had accomplished all that he had set out to do.

The wary savages, however, hung on the flanks of his army; his men were entrapped in ambuscades; and he was at last obliged to return to the Ohio, having suffered losses much greater than those he had inflicted upon the enemy. It was plain that Harmar was not the man to be intrusted with an enterprise so difficult and so important; nor would it be possible to subdue the Indians without some greater show of force and many new recruits to the army of the Northwest.

III. Wilkinson

While Governor St. Clair was waiting at Fort Washington for the arrival of aid from the East, he sent out General Wilkinson with five hundred and twenty-three Kentucky horsemen to punish the tribes in the valley of the Wabash. These men were fearless backwoodsmen well-trained in Indian warfare, and the expedition was assured of success from the start. Fully armed and equipped, they rode in a northwesterly direction through the thickly wooded region which now comprises the central part of Indiana.

Their progress at first was slow, but at the end of a week they reached the Wabash near the site of the present city of Logansport. There, in the midst of cornfields, they found an Indian town which they captured without resistance. "I encamped in the town that night, and the next morning I cut up the corn, burned the cabins, mounted the young warriors, squaws, and children, in the best manner in my power, and leaving two infirm squaws and a child, with a short talk, I commenced my march for the Kickapoo town in the prairie."

In this manner, capturing, burning, and destroying, the Kentucky rangers swept down the Wabash Valley until they reached a point a little below the mouth of the Tippecanoe near the present Lafayette. By that time the horses were tired out, and the men were murmuring because of being led so far into the enemy's country. Wilkinson thought it wisest, therefore, to return to the settlements.

Just three weeks from the day of his departure from Fort Washington, he arrived with his rangers at the falls of the Ohio, having traveled four hundred and fifty miles and carried distress and terror into the heart of the Wabash country. President Washington was so much pleased with the results of this raid that he said, "The enterprise, intrepidity, and good conduct of these Kentuckians are entitled to peculiar commendation."

IV. St. Clair

The next year St. Clair himself led an army into the country of the Miamis. His soldiers were for the most part raw recruits, "men purchased from prisons, wheelbarrows, and low resorts of the Eastern cities," who were eager to fight Indians at two dollars a month. The supplies were no better than the men; the food for the army was insufficient; the powder was of the poorest quality; the horses and oxen were ill-fed and little able to endure the hardships of a campaign in a country where there were no roads.

It was not until October that St. Clair's forces were ready to start. On the fourth of that month the march was begun from Fort Hamilton, a new stockade on the Great Miami about twenty-five miles from Cincinnati. There were barely two thousand men in the army, and only a small portion of these were experienced soldiers. After cutting their way through the forest for forty-two miles, they stopped to build another stockade which they named Fort Jefferson.

[Illustration] from Conquest of the Old Northwest by James Baldwin


The march was then resumed, the course of the army being directed toward the Miami towns near the head of the Maumee. On the third of November, St. Clair found himself in the heart of the enemy's country, and went into camp on the banks of the Wabash not far from its source. The next morning the camp was attacked by a large force of Indians, and a dreadful battle ensued. The Indians were led by Little Turtle, a Miami chief of great discretion and bravery. Concealed among the trees and high grass, they poured a constant and destructive fire into the half-formed ranks of their foes.

St. Clair himself showed the greatest bravery. Although weak and suffering from continued ill health, he rode into the thickest of the fight, encouraging his men by his presence. Several horses were killed under him, and although eight balls passed through his hat and clothes, he himself was unhurt. The slaughter was terrible. Four fifths of the officers and nearly one half of the men were killed or wounded. The ground was covered with bodies, and the little river was red with blood. What could St. Clair do but order a retreat?

The retreat soon became a wild flight, and it so continued until the survivors found themselves safe behind the stockade of Fort Jefferson. It is estimated that St. Clair had fourteen hundred men in the fight, and that of these scarcely fifty escaped unhurt. The carnage would have been even greater had not the Indians been so eager to secure plunder. After the conflict was over, they began in their savage way to avenge their wrongs still further by the most brutal treatment of the wounded and dying.

"You make war against us to rob us of our land," they would say. "Here, then, you may have as much land as you want!" And they would cram the eyes and throats of their wretched prisoners full of clay and sand.

The blame for this terrible defeat was ascribed, and entirely without reason, to St. Clair. People accused him of cowardice, inefficiency, and even of treason. When, some years later, he asked Congress to compensate him for his services, and in his old age relieve him from want, his petition was refused, and he was publicly reproached as a "pauper." Five months after the battle he was forced to resign his commission, and General Anthony Wayne was chosen to lead the campaign against the Indians.

V. Fallen Timbers

It was not until nearly two years after St. Clair's defeat that General Wayne was prepared to make a decisive movement against the enemy. Con the 7th of October he reached a point about six miles north of Fort Jefferson, and there he determined to make his winter camp. The camp was carefully laid out and fortified, and named Fort Greenville. It occupied the site of a part of the present town of Greenville in Ohio. Here the little army remained several months, and the soldiers were drilled every day in the tactics of Indian fighting and in the use of the saber and the bayonet.

The British at Detroit were much alarmed when they heard of Wayne's careful preparations; for they imagined that he might be intending to march against them instead of against the Indians. In order to be prepared for such an emergency, the lieutenant governor of Canada marched out with three companies of British regulars, and built a fort at the lower end of the rapids of the Maumee, a short distance from the place where Maumee City now stands. The Indians had been encouraged by the British to stand their ground against the Americans, and the building of this fort gave them great hopes of aid from Canada.

In the following August, Wayne marched into the heart of the Indian country. His army consisted of about twenty-six hundred men, all of whom had been well drilled and thoroughly prepared for the work that was to be done. He did not stop to capture defenseless villages and destroy cornfields, but he sought out the Indian warriors in their chosen stronghold. On the 19th he reached a place on the Maumee about four miles above the new British fort. On account of the great number of trees here that had been blown down by a hurricane, thus making a passage through the woods almost impossible, this place was called Fallen Timbers. Here, among the prostrate trees and matted brush and dense under-woods, the Indians were lying in wait.

As a band of horsemen were floundering along through bushes and briers, a number of Indians arose from their hiding places and fired upon them. This was a signal for the beginning of the fight. The mounted soldiers were formed in position and ordered to move forward under cover of the river bank; and the foot soldiers were directed to charge upon the lurking places of the savages, driving them out at the point of the bayonet, and following them up so closely that they would have no time to reload their guns. These orders were given quickly and were readily obeyed. The Indians were taken by surprise. They arose and fled; and the Americans won a complete victory.

Many of the fleeing Indians were pursued to the very walls of the British fort; and it was with difficulty that Wayne could restrain his men from storming the post itself. "As it was," says an early historian, "many of the Kentucky troops advanced within gunshot, and insulted the garrison with a select volley of oaths and epithets, which must have given the British commandant a high idea of backwoods gentility."

VI. Greenville

After his victory at Fallen Timbers, Wayne, with his little army, marched slowly up the Maumee. His course was marked by widespread devastation. Scouting parties were sent out who destroyed the cornfields and villages for fifty miles on each side of the river. Never before had the Indians of the Northwest met with so signal a defeat, and never had they been punished with so great severity.

[Illustration] from Conquest of the Old Northwest by James Baldwin


Nearly a month was occupied in this progress of destruction; and it was late in September when the army reached the head of Maumee) where was the famous portage to the Wabash. (There a strong stockade was built, and named Fort Wayne; and there the general received delegations from the Indian tribes, and listened to their propositions for peace. Some of the chiefs hesitated, still hoping for assistance from the British; but the wisest among them were in favor of giving up the struggle. "The Americans are now led by a chief who never stops," said Little Turtle; "the night and the day are alike to him. And during all the time that he has been marching upon our villages, notwithstanding the watchfulness of our young men, we have never been able to surprise him. Think well of it. There is something that whispers to me that it will be prudent to listen to his offers of peace."

At Greenville, the next year, the chiefs met in council with General Wayne, and a treaty of peace was made. The Indians gave up all claims to the lands, east of the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas rivers, and south of an irregular line drawn about halfway between Lake Erie and the Ohio to the head waters of the Wabash, and thence southwestwardly to the mouth of the Kentucky River. They also made grants of large tracts of land in the Lake region. One of these was a strip six miles wide fronting on Lake Erie and the Detroit River and extending from the Raisin River to Lake St. Clair. This, of course, included the post of Detroit, which was still occupied by the British. Another tract on the mainland north of the Strait of Mackinac, together with the island of Bois Blanc, was deeded to the United States as "an extra and voluntary gift of the Chippewa nation." Among other reservations ceded to the Americans were the lands occupied by the post at Mackinac, a tract of land six miles square at the mouth of the Chicago River, a large area at Fort Wayne and the Maumee portage, and several thousand acres in southern Indiana, which had been granted by Virginia to George Rogers Clark. In return for all these concessions and voluntary gifts; the Indians received presents of goods valued at one hundred and twenty thousand dollars and the promise of an annual payment of ninety-five hundred dollars. It has been said, by way of compliment to General Wayne, that no chief or warrior who gave him the hand at Greenville ever again lifted the hatchet against the United States.

The United States in Full Possession

I. The Surrender of the Lake Posts

The war thus happily brought to an end had been in progress seven years. It had cost much treasure and many lives. More than fifteen hundred men, women, and children in Kentucky alone had been massacred or carried into captivity, and the number of sufferers on the north side was proportionately greater. The Indians had lost much more than the whites. The bravest of their warriors had been slain, their villages had been burned, their fields had been destroyed; they were utterly broken and dispirited. For sixteen years there was no further uprising among them, and there was peace throughout the Northwest.

The British officers and the English traders at Detroit had all along hoped that the Indians would succeed in their struggle for the Northwest. Although not daring to take any active part in the war, they had constantly encouraged the savages to keep on fighting. Even after the great defeat at Fallen Timbers, the lieutenant governor of Upper Canada held a council with the chiefs on the Maumee, and tried to persuade them not to make peace.

"All the country north of the Ohio belongs by right to you," he said, "and you must not give it up. I myself will see the great man at Quebec; and we will tell the king, our father, about your grievances, and he will permit us to help you. In the spring our soldiers will come to your aid, and we will drive the Americans out of your hunting grounds."

But the Indians had listened too often to such words as these. Year after year they had been deceived with false promises of help from the British. They turned away silently, and resolved to seek peace.

The treaty which was made at Greenville was a death-blow to the hopes of the English at Detroit. They had hitherto interposed the Indians as a kind of wall between themselves and the Americans. By this means they had been able for thirteen years to hold unlawful possession of the lake posts and control the profitable fur trade of the Northwest. They now clearly saw that the time *as near at hand when they must retire from American territory.

That time came even sooner than they expected. Through the efforts of John Jay, our minister to England, a new treaty was made with Great Britain, in which it was stipulated that all posts and places in the United States that were then held by the British should be absolutely evacuated on the first day of June, 1796.

Even after this there were some delays on the part of the officers in charge of these posts. But on the 11th of July, the British having taken their leave, the stars and stripes were hoisted over the fort at Detroit and all the settlements in the lake regions became American. The entire Northwest was at last under the full control of the American people, and, with the exception of a small portion, was under the direct jurisdiction of the Federal government.

II. "New Connecticut"

While the Indian war was in progress the state of Connecticut did not forget the strip of land which she still claimed on the southern shore of Lake Erie, and which is known in history as the Western Reserve. About the time that the unfortunate St. Clair was giving up his commission, she made a free gift of a portion of it to such of her inhabitants as had suffered severely from the ravages of the British during the Revolution.

This portion included a tract of five hundred thousand acres lying across the western end of the Reserve and bounded on the north by the lake shore; and the land was to be divided among the sufferers in proportion to the amount of their losses. The tract was at first called "The Sufferers' Lands," but soon acquired the title by which that portion of Ohio is still known, "The Fire Lands." It was not until sixteen years later that these lands were divided into plots, and settlers began to occupy them.

[Illustration] from Conquest of the Old Northwest by James Baldwin

In 1795 the remaining part of the great Reserve was sold by order of the general assembly of Connecticut. No surveys or measurements were made, but it was purchased as a whole by thirty-five land speculators, who agreed to pay for it the sum of twelve hundred thousand dollars. The money thus received by the state was set apart as a perpetual investment for the support of the common schools. It is interesting to remember that no small part of the present school fund of Connecticut was thus derived from the sale of lands in the Old Northwest, to which she had no better claim than that based upon an ancient charter given to her in ignorance by King Charles II.

The thirty-five purchasers of the Western Reserve soon afterward sent out a company of fifty surveyors, who were to lay off the tract into townships each five miles square, and divide the townships into sections of a size convenient for the purposes of intending settlers. It was on the 4th of July when these surveyors with several others reached the mouth of Conneaut Creek, on the shore of Lake Erie. They decided to make this place their headquarters, and named it, in honor of the day, the "Port of Independence." Speeches were made and toasts were offered, and the settlement of the Western Reserve was begun.

Three weeks later, General Moses Cleaveland, the leader of the surveying company, went farther west and landed at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River. There, with a few others, he started a new settlement a settlement which prospered and finally developed into the enterprising city known by his name. When the surveyors had completed their work, they found that the purchasers of the Reserve were entitled, not to four millions of acres, as they had supposed, but to something less than three millions. For all political purposes this tract was still under the jurisdiction of Connecticut, although some of the purchasers supposed that they were now independent of any state and might set up a separate government of their own. They proposed to establish here the "State of New Connecticut," to be governed by the company, much in the same manner as the colony of Virginia had been governed by a company in England. But Congress, as well as the state of Connecticut, had something to say about this; and so, in 1800, the latter made a formal transfer to the Federal government of all jurisdiction whatsoever over the territory in question.

After seventeen years of waiting the United States was at last in complete possession of the Northwest.

The Territory of Indiana

I. The Scattered Settlements

After the close of the long Indian war great numbers of settlers began to pour into the Ohio Valley. These stopped at various places east of the present state of Indiana; for there was plenty of land for all who came, and but very few cared to provoke the Indians by crossing the line which marked the limits of the white man's possessions. Down the Ohio again came an endless procession of boats loaded with settlers and their belongings. In the first year after the treaty more than a thousand vessels passed Marietta. The pioneer who came into the wilderness to hew out a home for his family could now buy the land direct from the government without becoming the victim of land speculators. The "siren song of peace and agriculture "was heard even in the depths of the forest. Fear had fled from the land, and to all classes of people there was safety. What wonder if the country was soon dotted with clearings and farmhouses and villages?

In the same year that Connecticut gave up her pretensions to the Western Reserve, Congress divided the Northwest Territory into two parts, and placed each under a separate government. The boundary line between these two divisions was in part the same as that which had been drawn between the Indians' country and the country that had been ceded to the whites by the treaty at Greenville. It extended from the mouth of the Kentucky River straight to Fort Recovery, near the source of the Wabash, and thence due north through Michigan. The division east of this line retained the old name, "The Territory Northwest of the River Ohio." The other division, being the country of the Indians, was called "Indiana Territory." The capital of the eastern division was Chillicothe, on the Scioto River, and General St. Clair remained its governor. The capital of Indiana Territory was Vincennes, and its government was placed in the hands of William Henry Harrison.

[Illustration] from Conquest of the Old Northwest by James Baldwin


In the vast territory of Indiana, which included about four fifths of the entire Northwest, there were at the beginning of the nineteenth century scarcely a dozen settlements. The chief of these were at the falls of the Ohio on the lands granted to George Rogers Clark, at Vincennes on the Wabash, and at Cahokia and Kaskaskia on the Mississippi. In none of these were there more than a thousand people. There were military posts at Fort Wayne, at Fort Massac on the Ohio, and at Mackinac; and a few white families were settled at Green Bay and two or three other points.

On the north side of the Chicago River, not far from the lake shore there was a single dwelling—a kind of blockhouse containing a storeroom and rooms for eating and sleeping. Here lived alone a French trader whose name was Le Mai. The house itself had been built twenty years before by another trader, Jean Baptiste Point de Saible, and it is supposed to have stood quite near the spot where Father Marquette passed his last winter more than a century earlier.

De Saible


De Saible was a French mulatto who had lived a long time among the Indians, and gained their complete confidence. His house soon became a great trading center for the tribes west of the lake, and especially for the Pottawattomies. There they bartered the furs of beavers and minks, and the skins of buffaloes and bears for guns and knives, blankets and rum; and soon Monsieur de Saible was able to retire from business with a handsome fortune. He was succeeded by Le Mai in 1796; and in the year of which we are speaking the lonely house on the bank of the Chicago River (Garlic Creek) was a favorite resort for the red hunters of the prairie. Such was the beginning of the metropolis of the Northwest, which before the end of the century then beginning would number its inhabitants by the million.

The few settlements that have been mentioned were separated by hundreds of miles of unexplored wilderness. There were no roads and no means of conveyance from place to place. There were no travelers except hunters and traders; and the Indians who lived there were by no means friendly to trespassers who crossed the border line of their country. When General Harrison was appointed governor of this wild and unsettled region, it became one of his chief duties to make treaties with the various savage tribes, to keep them at peace with the government and with each other, and if possible to secure from them still further grants of lands in the territory which they had reserved. Within the next five or six years he was able to purchase from them for the United States several large tracts in the most fertile parts of the Wabash and Ohio valleys. At a treaty held at Fort Wayne in 1803, the Miamis, Shawnees, and other tribes sold to the government more than two million acres, receiving therefor the pitiable sum of four thousand dollars. Other treaties followed, and several other similar bargains were made. The United States was never known to pay the Indians too much for their lands, neither were the agents who were sent out to deal with them ever known to favor them with undue kindness, except as a means of securing some sort of advantage over them.

II. Tecumseh

Among the Shawnees there was at that time a warrior of great influence and ability whose name was Tecumseh. When he was a mere child his father had been killed in battle with the white invaders of his country; and throughout his life he had brooded upon the wrongs which his people had been obliged to endure. As a young man he had been one of the most daring among those who had defeated Harmar and St. Clair; and even the disaster at Fallen Timbers did not wholly dishearten him. He was thirty-five years old when the great land sale occurred at Fort Wayne. He still hoped that at some time and in some way his nation might recover their lost hunting grounds. When he saw the limits of the Indian country growing smaller and smaller with each successive treaty with the white men, and realized that the red men would soon be deprived of all that they owned, he made up his mind to give his life, if need be, for the defense of his people.

His first plan was to unite all the tribes of the Northwest in a great league)similar to that which had been formed by Pontiac forty years before. (He was not a chief, nor had he any voice in the councils of the Shawnees; but his fine common sense and his known courage had gained for him great influence, both in his own tribe and among others) His brother, Ellskevatawa, commonly known as the "Prophet," greatly aided him in all his plans.

Tecumseh declared that bribes and bad whisky had been used to induce the chiefs to sell the lands of the tribes. He also claimed that since the lands were really the property of the Indian nation as a whole, the chiefs of no particular tribe could sell or dispose of any part of it without the general consent. That this plea was a just one we can hardly deny; but when Tecumseh made his appeal to Governor Harrison, he was told that the question must be decided by the President. "I hope, then," said Tecumseh, "that the Great Spirit will put sense enough into the President's head to induce him to decide aright and direct you to give up this land. It is true he is so far off that 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."

The decision of the President, as might have been foreseen, was not in favor of Tecumseh's claims. The United States had bought the lands; and, no matter of whom it had bought them, or at what price, it would continue to hold them. Tecumseh was now more than ever intent upon war. With his brother he visited the tribes in the South, as well as those in the Northwest, and tried to persuade them to join his confederacy. Tecumseh was untiring in his efforts, and went everywhere. To an American officer whom he met among the Iroquois in 1809, he said that he "had visited the Florida Indians, and Indians so far north that snow covered the ground in midsummer." Near the mouth of the Tippecanoe River, just above the present city of Lafayette, the Prophet had gathered a great following of discontented warriors from many tribes; and to influence them by an appeal to their superstitions, he had established a kind of religious order, with mysterious ceremonies and pretended communings with the spirit world.

At length, by invitation of Governor Harrison, Tecumseh made a visit to Vincennes. He had with him seventy-five warriors fully armed, and he held himself like a conqueror rather than suppliant. The governor received him at his own house courteously, and asked him to be seated with him in the shade of the veranda. The red man haughtily refused, saying, "Houses were built for you to hold councils in, but Indians hold theirs in the open air."



Governor Harrison then went out and talked with the warrior in the open common before his house. Tecumseh conducted himself gravely after the Indian manner, and delivered an eloquent speech in which he recited the many wrongs that his people had suffered at the hands of the Americans. At the close of his speech an officer invited him to take a seat by the side of his "father, the governor." He shook his head, and sat down on the ground, saying: "The sun is my father and the earth is my mother. I will repose on her bosom." For nearly two weeks the governor and the warrior were in almost daily consultation, and many speeches were made by each.

"Brother," said Tecumseh, "this land that was sold, was sold only by a few. If the land is not restored to us, you will see, when we return to our homes, how it will be settled. Brother, I wish you would take pity on the red people and do what I have requested."

But the conference closed without anything being accomplished. Everything was referred to the great father at Washington. The governor assured his savage visitor that "the moon would sooner fall to the ground than the President would suffer his people to be murdered with impunity, and that he would put petticoats on his warriors sooner than give up a country which he had fairly bought from its true owners."

Disappointed, but not down-hearted, Tecumseh returned haughtily to his people. He had pondered so long on the misfortunes of his race that his mind was full of bitterness toward all Americans, and he hated Governor Harrison beyond all measure. In a few days, with twenty trusted warriors, he started again for the South, determined to carry out his plan of uniting all the tribes in one wide-spread conspiracy.)

When the territorial legislature met at Vincennes in the following autumn, Governor Harrison urged the necessity of procuring still more lands from the Indians. "The eastern settlements," he said, "are separated from the western by a considerable extent of Indian lands, and the most fertile tracts that are within our territorial bounds are still their property. Almost entirely divested of the game from which they had drawn their subsistence, it has become of little use to them; and it was the intention of the government to substitute, for the scanty supplies which the chase affords, the more certain support which is derived from agriculture. By the considerate and sensible among them, this plan is considered as the only one that will save them from utter extirpation. But a most formidable opposition has been raised to it by the warriors, who will never agree to abandon their old habits until driven to it by necessity. As long as a deer is to be found in their forests, they will continue to hunt. Are, then, those extinguishments of Indian title, which are at once so beneficial to the Indian, the territory, and the United States, to be suspended on account of the intrigues of a few individuals? Is one of the fairest portions of the globe to remain in a state of nature, the haunt of a few wretched savages, when it seems destined by the Creator to give support to a large population, and to be the seat of civilization, of science, and true religion?"

III. Tippecanoe

Through the next spring and summer fear and uneasiness prevailed all along the border. The Indians had begun in various ways to annoy the settlers, stealing horses, killing cattle, and threatening to destroy the growing crops. Life was unsafe. The backwoods farmer was obliged to carry his rifle with him even when plowing his fields.

Every lonely cabin became a kind of fortified outpost, with loopholes in the walls, and the doors barred and guarded against surprise. Straggling savages prowled around the settlements, intent on mischief; and it was known that bands of warriors were collecting at the Prophet's town on the Tippecanoe with the avowed purpose of making trouble. It seemed as if the former dreadful days of terror and blood and midnight forays were about to come again. It was plain to every one that another Indian war was at hand, and the people of the territory declared, that if the government would not help them, they would take matters into their own hands.

Wilderness cabbin


Governor Harrison was convinced that the time for decisive action had come. In the last week of September, therefore, he set out from Vincennes with a strong force of militia and regulars, and marched northward through the Wabash bottoms toward the Indian rendezvous at Tippecanoe. At the end of a week the army reached a point on the eastern bank of the river, where, according to Indian tradition, a bloody battle had once been fought between the Iroquois and the Illinois. This place was called by the French settlers "Battaille des Illinois," and is now occupied by the flourishing city of Terre Haute. Here an encampment was made, and the army remained for three weeks engaged in building a fort which the soldiers called Fort Harrison. Provisions were scarce, and the supplies that should have followed were long delayed; and so it was not until the last day of October that the governor was able to resume the march.

On the 6th of November he reached the mouth of the Tippecanoe and saw the Indian village in plain view, about a mile and a half distant. The soldiers were anxious to make an immediate attack, but Governor Harrison, wishing to avoid bloodshed if possible, sent forward a messenger to invite the Prophet to a conference. The messenger made his way to the outskirts of the village, but the Indians whom he met refused to speak with him, and he was obliged to return without seeing the prophet or any of the leading warriors.

A deputation of three Indians came out from the town soon afterward, and asked the governor why he had thus brought an army out against them. They said that their people desired to keep the peace, and they begged that he would wait until the next day, when their chiefs would meet him in council and learn what he wished them to do. The governor willingly agreed to this, saying that his army would encamp near by for the night, and that no hostilities should be committed.

A suitable place was therefore found, and the soldiers settled themselves for the night, being much dissatisfied because there was no immediate prospect of fighting. They slept on their arms, their guns being loaded and their bayonets fixed. Strong guards were placed on duty, and every precaution was taken to prevent surprise.

In the meanwhile, the Prophet was busy stirring up his followers to the fighting point and urging them to make a bold stroke in defense of their new religion and their country. The Great Spirit, he said, was on their side and would give them the victory. No white soldiers could withstand them, but would fall before them as the wheat before the sickle. In the darkness of the night, he moved silently from wigwam to wigwam, arousing his warrior's and instructing each one in the part he was to take; and not a sound of all that was going on reached the ears of the sentinels before the American camp.

At about two hours before sunrise the camp was attacked by a great horde of savages, so suddenly that they were within the lines before many of the men could get out of the tents. The morning was dark and cloudy, and the Indians being concealed in the gloom, had much the advantage of the white men just roused from their sleep and plainly visible in the light of the glowing camp fires. The struggle which followed was a terrible one, and for a time the army was almost surrounded. But the officers were experienced Indian fighters, and the men bravely held their ground. Above the din and roar of battle the voice of the Prophet could be heard, urging his warriors onward and promising them a sure victory and great rewards. Daylight soon came and revealed a scene of blood and slaughter seldom equaled in savage warfare. Governor Harrison was in the thickest of the fight; his hat was pierced by a bullet; his officers were shot down by his side; but he himself escaped injury. In the gray dawn he ordered a charge to be made upon the savages. The onslaught was most furious. The Indians, driven at the point of the bayonet, turned and fled; many of them were killed, and the rest hid themselves in a swamp where they could not be followed.

The battle had been a short one, but the loss on both sides was great. Of the Americans, thirty-seven were killed and one hundred and fifty-one wounded, several of whom afterward died of their injuries. The number of Indians slain will never be known, as many are supposed to have been carried away by their comrades.

On the following day a company of mounted riflemen rode into the town, the Prophet's famous capital. The only Indian found there was a chief who had broken his leg. All the rest had fled in a great panic, leaving behind them their household utensils, and even some of their arms. A large quantity of corn was found, and many hogs and fowls; and these were gladly seized upon by the troops.

Governor Harrison, believing that this severe defeat of the Indians would oblige them to seek peace, set out as soon as possible on his return march. The army reached Fort Harrison just one week after the battle, and from that point the wounded were sent forward in boats. On the 18th of November, the governor with a large portion of his army arrived at Vincennes, where he received the thanks and congratulations of the territorial legislature.

Had the Indians been led by the wiser and more prudent Tecumseh instead of by the visionary Prophet, the contest would doubtless have been begun in another way, and the Americans might not have won the victory so easily. But Tecumseh was still absent in the South, trying to persuade the Chickasaws and the Cherokees to aid his conspiracy. When he heard of the defeat at Tippecanoe, he hastened home; but he arrived too late to retrieve his fallen fortunes. He reproached his brother for disobeying his orders, which were to keep peace with the white men until his return. It is said that when the Prophet tried to excuse himself, the angry warrior seized him by the hair and shook him as a dog shakes a raccoon.)

From that time the Prophet had no further influence/. Many of the chiefs hastened to make their peace with Governor Harrison, and to gain further favor promised to give the deceiver the punishment that he deserved. They even went so far as to seek him out and threaten to kill him. "You have lied to us," said they, abusing him. "You told us that the white people were crazy and could do nothing; but we found them to be in their right senses, and able to fight like the bad spirit himself." But they never delivered him to Governor Harrison; and he was suffered to remain among them, despised and disregarded until the day of his death.

Tecumseh's brother


As for Tecumseh, he gave up his plan of an Indian confederacy; and as the War of 1812 was then in progress, he went to Canada and allied himself with the English, and became an officer in the king's army. In the battle that was fought on the River Thames, he was the most striking figure. Even before the beginning of the fight he foresaw that the English must be defeated. This meant to him the end of all hope, and he made up his mind not to leave the field of battle alive. He took off the British uniform which had been given him, and put on the war dress of an Indian brave. Then, with a wild war whoop, he dashed into the thickest of the fight, where he soon found the death which he desired.

IV. A Harbinger of Prosperity

At the very time that Governor Harrison was marching against the Prophet at Tippecanoe, the first steamboat on the Ohio River was launched at Pittsburg. The name of the vessel was the Orleans, and as it floated down the river belching smoke from its tall funnel, the settlers along the banks were filled with wonder and consternation. There were no newspapers in that region, and news of every kind traveled but slowly. Not many of the people had ever heard of a steamboat, And the strange craft was regarded as some monster that might carry death and devastation in its track. At one place it was thought to be the British army, and the people fled in terror to the hills until it was safely past. At other places it was believed to be a comet that had fallen into the river and was floating down to the sea.

The coming of that strange craft, however, was the harbinger of greater prosperity in the Northwest. Trade with New Orleans and with the new towns on the Ohio and Mississippi was quickened and increased. Other steam-boats came, and there were demands for grain and wool and furs and pork to be shipped to the markets down the river. Commerce had begun. People in the Atlantic states were told about the possibilities and resources of the Northwest, and the tide of immigration soon increased.

When finally the war with England ended, and the Indians now no longer encouraged by British intrigue were ready to give up their lands and retire to other homes beyond the Mississippi, a new era dawned upon the country. Ohio had already been admitted into the sisterhood of states. In 1816, Indiana came into the Union with boundaries essentially as they are to-day; and two years later Illinois was admitted. But it was not until 1837 that Michigan was allowed to become a state; and Wisconsin remained a territory still eleven years longer.

Subduers of the Wilderness

I. The Pioneers

How very slowly everything moved in those days! From the time the first settlement was made at Marietta, more than half a century elapsed before the wilderness was entirely subdued and the whole land had become a land of homes.

Pioneers in Wagontrains


There were no railroads, no telegraphs, no means of rapid travel. Post offices were few and far between; the mails were carried on horseback or in slow-going boats; the rates of postage were very high. A newspaper was rarely seen. It required a month for news to pass from Indiana to the Atlantic states. To the people living in Massachusetts, or Virginia, or the Carolinas, the "Ohio Country," as it was still called, was a far-distant region—farther than the Philippine Islands seem to us now, and much more difficult to reach. All that they knew about the great Northwest they had learned from hearsay, or from letters written by friends or neighbors who had gone there in the hope of bettering their fortunes. Sometimes, but very rarely, a traveler would return from "the Ohio "or "the Indiana," bringing wonderful accounts of that region. He became the admired hero of a dozen neighborhoods; men would ride miles to see and talk with him; and his stories with many additions and variations would be carried from mouth to mouth and repeated in a hundred humble homes. Thereupon the "western fever "would begin to rage, and first one household and then another would be seized with an intense desire to emigrate to the new settlements. But thousands who would have been glad to go were kept back on account of the difficulties and dangers that lay in the way.

Emigrants from New England and New York found that the easiest way of reaching the Northwest was by going up the Mohawk valley and along the shores of the lakes; and, therefore, all the northern portions of Ohio and Indiana, and much the greater part of Michigan, were settled by pioneers from the Eastern and Middle states. These people were not wealthy; not all were blessed with even the common necessaries of life. But they had come from a land of schools, and they brought into the wilderness a sincere love of knowledge and a little of that air of refinement which they had been accustomed to in their earlier homes. They came expecting to meet with many hardships, and yet resolved to subdue the wilderness and lay the foundations of prosperity for those who should follow them. They were not the sort of people that fail.

Emigrants from the South—from Kentucky and Virginia and the Carolinas—found plenty of vacant land in the rolling country adjoining the river, and in the densely wooded plains of southern Ohio and Indiana. Some of them ventured as far as to the prairie lands of Illinois; but instead of opening farms where the ground was cleared and ready for cultivation, they made their homes in the woodlands, where they cleared little patches of ground and were content with raising enough corn and fruit to keep their families from starving.

Nearly all of these Southern pioneers were very, very poor. They had come from a land where slavery had made labor disgraceful. They had been attracted to the Northwest because of the cheapness of the land and the abundance of game. The men would rather hunt in the wild woods than cut down trees and make themselves farms and comfortable homes. They were ready to subdue the wilderness, but with guns instead of axes. They were satisfied with the barest comforts were indolent, easy-going, and much given to putting things off till to-morrow. They were uncouth in dress, rough in manners, and inclined to be boastful. And yet they were honest in their dealings, kind-hearted, and generous. The latchstrings of their cabins were always out for the entertainment of neighbors and strangers alike. They were for the most part uneducated. Many could neither read nor write; and they distrusted book learning as something that made its possessor unfit for the duties of life. They needed only to be awakened and brought into contact with the currents of modern enterprise. The time was coming when they, too; would have a hand in the building of commonwealths and the founding of worthy institutions.

But not all of those who came from the South were of this class of unenterprising squatters. Many men of intelligence and high respectability left their old homes in Carolina, or Virginia, or Kentucky, and made trial of new fortunes in various parts of the Northwest. Some came to assist in founding religious communities where all their neighbors would be of the same faith. Some came because their consciences were opposed to slavery, and they could not bear the thought of bringing up their children in the midst of it. Many came because no other place offered so many advantages to poor men who wished to make homes for their families.

Nor, on the other hand, were all those who came from the East men of enterprise and moral uprightness. Some were vagabonds hiding from justice. Some were speculators and schemers, intent upon making quick and easy fortunes whether by chance or fraud. Some were as indolent, as rude, as uncouth, as the most shiftless pioneers from the pine barrens of the South.

How very diverse, then, in character and manners, in enterprise and expectations, were the pioneers who subdued the wilderness of the Old Northwest! But when all had united in one common cause, when the weak were uplifted by the strong, when the bad were improved by contact with the good, when intelligence triumphed over ignorance what a race of giants were they!

II. A True Hero

John Stirling was a typical pioneer of the class who may be called the Makers of the Northwest. He was one of those who came from the South for conscience' sake: he could not bear to see human beings in bondage; he wanted to bring up his children in a land dedicated to freedom. He could trace his ancestry for four centuries through a long line of English gentry, and every one of his forefathers had been a champion of liberty. The story of his life in the Northwest is but the story of a thousand others as brave, as self-sacrificing, as ingenious, as industrious as he.

In a single small wagon drawn by two horses, John Stirling brought his family and his household goods across the mountains by way of Cumberland Gap and through the half-settled districts of Kentucky. He crossed the Ohio near the mouth of the Great Miami, and then made his way northwestwardly into the almost unbroken wilderness, looking for a suitable place to make his home. The roads for hundreds of miles were little better than wood paths; over a part of the course he was obliged to cut his own way among fallen trees and through thick under-woods. The journey from beginning to end occupied nearly six weeks, and yet John Stirling and his family were thankful that it had been so short.

Having selected the spot for his farm, the pioneer's next care was to become its possessor. He bought it from the government at a dollar and a quarter an acre, and when this was paid he had scarcely a cent left. But of what use would money be in a place where there was nothing to buy?

[Illustration] from Conquest of the Old Northwest by James Baldwin


With the help of his two boys he felled trees and cleared a small space for the homestead. He cut the logs into proper lengths and with them built the walls of a rude cabin. He hewed rough puncheons for the floor, rived long boards for the roof, made a great fireplace of flat stones, built a chimney of sticks and clay, and within five days had finished a habitation that was to be the shelter and home of the family for twice that many years. Not a nail nor a brick was used in the construction of that house, nails and bricks were luxuries which the onward march of civilization would by and by bring into that region, but the time for such luxuries was not yet.

For weeks, during that first spring in the forest, the doorway of the cabin was closed simply by hanging a bed-quilt loosely from the top, like a kind of curtain. The wolves howled around the cabin at night; the pioneer was not disturbed by such sounds the hunger wolf was more to be dreaded than the gray beast that skulked in the thickets. Until his first small crop of corn had ripened, he was by no means sure of food for the winter. He carried his grain fifteen miles to mill and waited for it to be ground in order not to disappoint the expectant family, hungry for bread and eagerly waiting for the grist of meal.

The first twelve months were months of sore trial; but the end of the year found John Stirling firmly established in his new home, and beyond the reach of want. Even in the very darkest moments, he saw in imagination the wilderness giving place to fields of yellow grain and orchards of over-laden trees; and these thoughts gave him fresh courage and strength for further conquests.

Little by little the great trees and the thick under-woods gave way before the three sharp axes of the Stirlings. Every year new deadenings were made in the woods, and broader patches of corn and wheat and flax were planted in the openings. Herds and flocks increased and flourished in the woodland pastures, without expense and without special care. And sooner than he had dared hope, the pioneer began to see the realization of his dreams.

The comforts of civilized life, however, were long wanting. For several years all the clothing of the family was homespun: tow-cloth and linen from flax raised on the farm; jeans and linsey-woolsey, of flax threads interwoven with wool from the farmer's own sheep. Nobody was idle. Wife and daughters were busy from daylight till dark, caring for the cows and the poultry, digging in the garden, carding the wool, turning the spinning wheel, mending garments, knitting, sewing, churning; and, if need be, they were neither afraid nor ashamed to do a day's work in the field—it was all a part of the family economy.

The farmer himself was a jack-at-all-trades, and good at more than one. He manufactured his own chairs and tables; he tanned the hides of his beeves into fairly good leather; he made his children's shoes and hats; he wove jeans and tow-cloth for his own clothing and that of the boys; he knew something about coopering and harness making; he could make a spinning wheel or a turning lathe; he repaired the clocks as well as the wagons of his less skillful neighbors, and even built barns and houses for them; and in the long winter evenings, by the light of the fire in the broad chimney, he tied brooms, and taught his boys and girls how to read and write.

When, in time, the farm produced more grain than the family and the livestock needed for food, Mr. Stirling began to think how he might dispose of the surplus. During the first few years the nearest market was on the Ohio, more than fifty miles distant; but that was only a trifle of three days' journey, and the entire trip, going and coming, could be made in a week. Over roads of the worst sort, a few bushels of wheat, and perhaps some vegetables or a pail of butter, were hauled to that distant market. It was rather a holiday than anything more serious; for the farmers of the neighborhood usually went together in caravan style, camping by the roadside at night, and withal making a right merry time of it. The produce was bartered for salt and such other necessary things as could not be made at home. Now and then a few yards of calico or some ribbons or some bits of queensware were carried home to rejoice the good wife and the grown-up daughters. There was no hardship in all this. The long journey once or twice a year relieved the monotony of pioneer life—the markets would certainly be nearer some time.

And little by little the markets did come nearer; and there were not only larger crops, but the price of grain was higher, and the farmer began to know, by actually seeing it, the color and shape of money. One comfort after another came to lighten the labors of the household. The buzz of the steam sawmill, and after a while the whistle of the locomotive, became familiar sounds. The boys and girls gradually laid aside their homespun and put on, especially on Sundays, clothing made of "boughten goods "; and the farmer himself indulged now and then in some inexpensive luxury which he had hitherto denied himself. One after another he put aside his weaving and tanning and shoemaking and carpentering; and finally he had nothing to do but give his whole attention to his farm and stock. A neat "frame house "was built nearer the roadside, and the old log cabin, the scene of many joys as well as sorrows, was deserted. Comfort and plenty abounded. The blessings of civilization, following in the wake of honest labor, had come at last.

But after his life of privation and toil, John Stirling was not the man that he might have been had another lot been his. His health had been enfeebled by exposure in the woods and fever-breeding marshes; his face had been bronzed by the scorching heat of many summers, and wrinkled by the cold of as many winters; his head had been whitened by sad experiences, and his hand had lost its former strength and cunning. Besides all this, the habits of the backwoodsman clung to him; he was a stranger to the refinements of life; his language was as full of inaccuracies as his manners were uncouth; he could ill adapt himself to the changed order of things which the schools, the railroads, and the development of the natural wealth of the country had brought about.

Yet as a compensation for all his labors and losses, the rugged pioneer of the Old Northwest had this thought to console him: he was one of ten thousand veterans who had made conquest of a mighty empire, developed its resources, and bequeathed it as a rich heritage to coming generations. He was one of the subduers of the wilderness. No hero of history, no warrior patriot, ever served his country better, or earned laurels more nobly. The world may forget what he suffered and what he accomplished, but his monument shall remain as long as our country endures. What is his monument? It is the Old Northwest itself, now the center of the republic, and the crowning factor of our country's greatness.

The Last Struggle

I. The Sacs

In the early part of the eighteenth century there was living in Wisconsin a powerful tribe of Indians known as the Outagami, or Fox nation. These savages loved nothing better than the warpath; and for many years their very name was a terror among the French settlers and traders in the region of the Great Lakes. They were so active in stirring up trouble, and in doing deeds of violence to their neighbors, both white and red, that they became known as the "Firebrands of the Northwest." At length, however, after a long struggle with the French, the tribe was almost exterminated. The few warriors who remained alive, no longer felt themselves strong enough to stand alone among the unfriendly nations that surrounded them; and so, leaving their ancestral homes, they joined themselves with the Sacs, a kindred tribe whose lands bordered both shores of the Mississippi.

This occurred about the year 1736, when the Foxes numbered only two hundred or three hundred women and children, and perhaps sixty warriors. They settled in the neighborhood of Prairie du Chien on the Mississippi, and for a time were so quiet as to be almost forgotten. From that day the Sacs and Foxes were closely united, and they became, in fact, one and the same nation. The Foxes increased in numbers and in strength, and when Jonathan Carver visited their village in 1766, he found it second in importance only to the metropolis of the allies at Prairie du Sac.

On the north bank of the Rock River, about a mile above its mouth, was the village of Saukenuk, destined soon to be the center and favorite home of the Sac and Fox nation. In the very year after Carver's visit to the Northwest, a child was born in this village, who was to become the last patriot red man to defend his country against the resistless tide of civilization. The name of this child was Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak, or Black Hawk. His great-grandfather was the mighty chief Thunder, who, a hundred years before, had led the Sac people from their old home near Montreal, and settled them in the rich valley of the Wisconsin.

During his boyhood young Black Hawk distinguished himself by his skill in the use of the tomahawk and the bow and arrow, his ability to endure suffering without complaint, and his courage in the face of danger. He was only fifteen when, with his father, he went on the warpath against the Osages, and took his first scalp. When he returned to Saukenuk, he was permitted to join the warriors in the scalp dance, in which they celebrated their victory. This was a great honor for a mere boy, and the heart of the young savage was filled with ambition to excel in the craft and deeds of war. Before he was a year older, he led a party of seven into the Osage country, and fearlessly attacked a band of the enemy ten times as numerous. This exploit gave him great fame among his people, and from that day he was regarded as one of their bravest braves. When he was nineteen, his father was killed in battle, and Black Hawk "fell heir to the medicine bag of his fore-fathers." He was now, although not a chief, one of the leading men of his nation; and—for fifty years his voice was the controlling one in the councils of the Sacs and Foxes.

The lands claimed by the Sacs fronted on the Mississippi, and extended for hundreds of miles between the Illinois and the Wisconsin. The country to the north and south of Saukenuk abounded in game, and was the most beautiful region in all that section of the Northwest. Under the rule of Black Hawk the village became the chief center of the nation, and nearly all the Sacs made their homes there. The houses which they built were similar in many respects to those which the French found in the Huron villages of Canada, two hundred years before. The framework, which was of poles, was covered with sheets of elm bark held in place by thongs of buckskin. Each building was from thirty to one hundred feet in length, and from fifteen to forty feet in width. At each end was a narrow entrance, which was closed in rough weather by a heavy curtain of buffalo hides. Inside, down the center, were as many fire-pits as there were families in the lodge; while along the walls were ranges of rude sleeping bunks made of elastic poles over which were thrown the skins of bears and other furry animals.

The village itself was a populous and busy place, and at the time of Black Hawk's greatest power it is said to have contained nearly a thousand families. The men of this savage community occupied themselves in hunting and in fighting their ancient enemies, the Osages and the Sioux, on the other side of the Mississippi. And in the rich bottom lands of the Rock River, the women raised large crops of corn, beans, and pumpkins, having at one time more than eight hundred acres under cultivation. In the Mississippi, above the mouth of Rock River, was Rock Island, a place especially beloved by the Indians. "It was our garden," says Black Hawk, "supplying us with strawberries, blackberries, gooseberries; plums, apples, and nuts of different kinds. Being situated at the foot of the rapids, its waters supplied us with the finest fish. In my early life I spent many happy days on this island. A good spirit had charge of it, which lived in a cave immediately under the place where the fort now stands. This guardian spirit has often been seen by our people. It was white, with large wings like a swan's, but ten times larger. We were particular not to make much noise in that part of the island which it inhabited, for fear of disturbing it. But the noise at the fort has since driven it away, and no doubt a bad spirit has taken its place."

II. A One-Sided Treaty

The beauty and fertility of the Rock River Valley could not long remain hidden from the eyes of the American pioneers; and to see that country was to covet its possession.

In 1804 a Sac warrior who was visiting St. Louis had a quarrel with an American backwoodsman and killed him.

What was the cause of the quarrel, or from whom the provocation came, we shall never know, nor is it now important. The Sac was put in prison to await his trial, and his comrades carried the news to Saukenuk. A council was held in the village, and by Black Hawk's advice it was determined to send four Chiefs to St. Louis to see the American commander there and do all they could to secure the release of the prisoner. They were to offer to pay for the person killed, thus satisfying, as they supposed, both his family and the law. "This," says Black Hawk, "was the only means with us of saving a person who had killed another and we then thought it was the same way with the whites."

The four chiefs departed with the good wishes of the whole nation. The relatives of the prisoner blacked their faces and fasted, hoping that the Great Spirit would take pity on them and return the husband and father to his wife and children.

[Illustration] from Conquest of the Old Northwest by James Baldwin


It was many weeks before the Sacs heard anything at all from their ambassadors. Every heart was beginning to be filled with uneasiness when one day it was reported that the four chiefs were encamped on the river bank a few miles below the village. Why did they not come directly home and report the success of their mission? It was plain that they had no good news to bring.

Early the next morning a council was called. The council lodge was crowded with warriors, and the four chiefs made their appearance. To the astonishment of all, they wore fine coats of American make, and had shining medals pinned to their breasts and dangling from their necks. After the customary smoking, their leader arose and gave an account of their adventures. He said that they had been kindly received by the American "father "at St. Louis, and that when they had told him the object of their visit, he listened with interest to everything they said. Then he told them that the Americans wanted a small strip of land along the shore of the great river, in order that they might work the lead mines there; and he promised that if the Sacs would sell it to them, he would be glad to do everything in his power to please them. With this, he gave them some fine presents, and plenty of whisky to drink. In the end, they consented to give him certain parts of their country both on the Mississippi and on the Illinois, and he agreed, on the part of the great father at Washington, to pay the Sacs a thousand dollars a year for this concession. All this was set down in writing and signed with great ceremony. They supposed that now their friend would be set free; but about the time they were ready to start home, they saw him taken out of prison and shot dead before their eyes. This, they said, was all they could remember.

Such is the Indian side of the story of the treaty of 1804 at St. Louis, by which the American government obtained nearly all the lands of the Sacs and Foxes east of the Mississippi. Black Hawk never acknowledged the validity of this treaty. "I will leave it," said he, "to the people of the United States to say whether our nation was properly represented in this treaty, or whether we received a fair compensation for the extent of country ceded by these four individuals."

The officers who made this hard bargain with the Indians had inserted a clause in the treaty, which provided that the Sacs might continue to occupy their lands as they chose, so long as these lands were owned by the United States government. There can be but little doubt that this clause was intended to deceive the red men into a belief that they should always remain secure in their old homes; but, be this as it may, it postponed the evil day for several years. The Sacs continued to hunt and fish, and to fight the Sioux as of yore; the Rock River bottom produced its crops of corn and pumpkins, and Rock Island its fruits and nuts; and the village of Saukenuk prospered and remained the most important Indian town in the Northwest.

Black Hawk was never thoroughly pleased with the Americans, and the fact of the treaty ever having been made gave him great anxiety. He says: "I had not discovered one good trait in the character of the Americans that came to the country. They made fair promises, but never fulfilled them. The English, however, made but few promises, and we can always rely on their word." This explains why, in the War of 1812, he and his young men joined forces with the British. Through the greater part of that war Black Hawk was one of the most active among the Indian allies of Great Britain. He took part in several important battles, and more than one American prisoner was saved by him from ruthless murder. It is said that he was in the great battle of the Thames and saw the death of the famous Tecumseh; but of this there is serious reason for doubt. He seems to have foreseen the result of the war, and before it was fairly over he returned to Rock River.

III. The Removal

White squatters soon afterward began to come into the country. Although all the land belonged to the government, and none of it could yet be sold, these off scourings of the older settlements set up their cabins where they chose, and selected the best lands in the river bottoms for their own. One day Black Hawk, while hunting in the neighborhood of a squatter's cabin, was set upon by three white men, who accused him of killing their hogs. He denied the accusation, but what of that? The men took the flint out of his gun, and then gave him so severe a beating with sticks that he was lamed for several days. Imagine how such treatment as this would rankle in the heart of so proud a savage as Black Hawk.

With each passing year the squatters came in greater and greater numbers. They encroached upon the Indians' fields, and fenced in large portions of the richest ground for themselves. They even tore down some of the huts in the village, and once when Black Hawk returned from a hunt, he found a family of squatters occupying his lodge. Nevertheless, in spite of all these provocations, Black Hawk kept the peace and restrained his warriors from violence. He repeatedly complained to the American commander at St. Louis, who promised to lay the matter before the great father at Washington; but the only reply was that the land had been bought by the white people, and the red people must give it up.



The Sacs and Foxes were informed that lands had been provided for them on the western side of the Mississippi, and the Indian agent at Saukenuk advised them to give up peaceably and remove thither. Many of the Foxes about Prairie du Chien did this, and a Sac chief whose name was Keokuk persuaded a large number of the Saukenuk Indians to join them on the reservation which the government had set apart for them in Iowa.

Black Hawk refused to go. He had lived for more than fifty years in the Rock River country. It was the place of his birth. It had been the home of his father and grandfather and there the bones of his ancestors were buried. He loved his country with its fair prairies, its wild woods, and its broad rivers; and he was loath to give it up. With a number of his people, therefore, he remained on the east side of the river, and hoped that at some time and in some way justice would be done.

Soon a rumor was set afloat that Black Hawk had threatened some of the squatters. This rumor was magnified into a report that the Sacs were preparing to make a raid upon the border settlements. Then it was declared that the savages had already begun the work of devastation. The whole country was alarmed. The militia of the state was called out, and General Gaines at the head of six companies of regulars took possession of Rock Island, where a fort had already been built. A council was called, and Black Hawk was summoned to attend. He came at the head of his warriors, all hideous with war paint and carrying their war clubs. Keokuk and Wapello, the Fox chief, were also there. General Gaines opened the council with a speech, explaining the object of his mission and ending by advising Black Hawk's followers to consult their own interests and go peaceably to the reservation across the river.

Black Hawk then arose and declared that the Sacs had never sold their country, and that they were determined to hold on to their village.

General Gaines, appearing to be very angry, here cried out: "Who is this Black Hawk? Who is Black Hawk?"

Very straight and dignified, as became a brave warrior, the old Indian answered:—

"Black Hawk is a Sac! His forefathers were Sacs! All the nations know him to be a Sac!"

"Very well," said Gaines, "I am here neither to beg nor to hire you to leave your village. My business is to remove you, peaceably if I can, but forcibly if I must. If within two days you are not all on the other side of the Mississippi, I will adopt measures to put you there by force."

Black Hawk, flaming with anger, declared that he would never consent to leave his old home; and the council broke up.

On the morrow a number of Sacs, who were afraid to resist longer, crossed the river and joined Keokuk. Soon afterward a company of mounted soldiers and backwoods militia arrived in the neighborhood of Saukenuk and went into camp a short distance below the village. Black Hawk saw now that he must submit, and so as soon as night had come all his people embarked in canoes, and, bidding good-by to their old homes, paddled silently across the Mississippi. A few days later the militia marched into Saukenuk, set fire to the lodges, and watched the once famous village of the Sacs disappear in flames.

IV. Black Hawk's War

On the last day of June a new treaty was made by which Black Hawk and the Sac chiefs agreed to remain on the reservation west of the river, and never to cross to the east side without the consent of the President of the United States. The government, on its part, agreed to give them corn in place of that which had been left growing in the fields, and promised to help them open their new farms on the reservation. With this Black Hawk seemed to be satisfied, and all might have gone well had he been able to forget the old home from which he had been driven.

A short time after this, a lying Indian, whom Black Hawk had sent on a mission to Canada, returned to the Sac settlement and reported that the British commander at Malden had told him that the Americans could not force the Sacs to leave their lands. "He said, also, that in the event of war we should have nothing to fear; for the British father would stand by us and aid us." Much else of the same sort did this mischief maker report, to the effect that the Ottawas, the Chippewas, and the Pottawattomies were ~.11 ready to join the Sacs in opposition to the United States.

All this filled the mind of Black Hawk with a new hope, which was strengthened by a promise from White Cloud, the prophet of the Winnebagoes, that he should have the help of that nation also. "For myself," says he, "I was growing old, and was willing to spend the rest of my days anywhere. But I wished, above all, to see my people happy. This had always been my constant aim; and I now began to hope that our sky would soon be clear."

He laid the matter before Keokuk and Wapello, but they told him that he had been deceived by liars, and advised him to abide by the new treaty. He then determined to take matters into his own hand. In the following spring he astonished the Illinois militia by suddenly appearing in the Rock River Valley with all the warriors and women and children that would follow him. It is by no means certain what Black Hawk intended to do, and the fact of his taking the women and children with him would seem to indicate that he did not mean war. He had been invited by White Cloud to spend the summer among the Winnebagoes and plant corn there, and it is not unlikely that he intended to go into Wisconsin in response to this invitation. Nevertheless he had violated his agreement not to cross the Mississippi; the whole country was alarmed, and there were rumors of a general Indian uprising. All the outrages committed on the settlers by straggling Winnebagoes and Kickapoos were ascribed to Black Hawk, and there was a call from all quarters for protection by the United States government.

Black Hawk, when he learned of the alarm he was causing, at first defied the American government, and boasted of the trouble he would cause. Then realizing the mistake he had made, and despairing of reaching the Winnebagoes, or of being aided by the British or any of the lake tribes, he sent a flag of truce to Major Stillman, the commander of a body of militia that was in close pursuit of his band. The major, instead of respecting the flag, made prisoners of its bearers and soon afterward sent a detachment of soldiers to attack a small body of Sacs that were seen in the distance. The Sacs were routed, and two of their number slain; and the militiamen, wild with thoughts of victory, gave chase to the remainder. Black Hawk, who was at supper in the woods near by, heard the clamor and hastily summoned his warriors, of whom he had scarcely two hundred. As the militiamen rushed heedlessly and without order through the shadowy woods, their ardor was suddenly cooled at sight of scores of swarthy savages rising up suddenly from the thickets and giving vent to the dreadful war whoop. They turned and ran for life, scarcely thinking of resistance. Black Hawk's warriors followed them, killing some, and filling the rest with such a panic of fear that they did not stop until they were safe behind doors at Dixon, twenty-five miles away.

Elated by this victory, many of Black Hawk's followers went out in small parties, contrary to his orders, and began to harry the outlying settlements. Many a deed of blood was committed, and the alarm of the country was increased by exaggerated accounts of the strength of the savage forces and of the widespread devastation they were causing.

But why follow the details of this painful story? After the defeat of Stillman's militiamen, Black Hawk's little army was vigorously pursued by strong forces of United States troops. Several times they were overtaken, and in the fights that followed were sorely defeated. At last, hemmed in and despairing, Black Hawk decided to seek safety for himself and people by recrossing the Mississippi. The weary and discouraged Indians were overtaken at Bad Axe in Wisconsin, just as they were preparing to go over the river. They were surrounded, and, although they offered to surrender, an indiscriminate slaughter of men, women, and children was begun. Many of the women threw themselves into the stream, and with their children on their backs attempted to swim to the opposite shore. Others embarked on rude rafts or in leaky canoes, and made all haste to escape. Vainly did Black Hawk and his braves stand their ground and attempt to cover the flight of the helpless fugitives. A white man who was present at this slaughter says: "When the Indians were driven to the bank of the Mississippi, some hundreds of men, women, and children plunged into the river, and hoped by diving to escape the bullets of our guns. Very few, however, escaped our sharpshooters; and those who did reach the western bank of the river were butchered in cold blood by a party of Sioux, their hereditary enemies, who had been brought there for that purpose by the Federal officers."

Black Hawk and a few of his men made their way through the lines of attacking soldiers, and escaped into the woods; but a few days later the chief was discovered by some Winnebagoes, who delivered him to the Americans. After being kept in prison at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, for several months, he was taken to Washington, where he had a conference with President Jackson.

The President asked him why he had gone to war with the American people. He answered in true Indian fashion in a little speech which showed that although he had been defeated, his spirit was not crushed. "I am a man," he said, "and you are another. I did not expect to conquer the white people. I took up the hatchet to avenge injuries which could no longer be borne. Had I borne them longer, my people would have said, 'Black Hawk is a squaw; he is too old to be a chief; he is no Sac.' This caused me to raise the war whoop. I say no more of it. All is known to you."

After being exhibited in the eastern cities, he was allowed to return to the remnant of his people in Iowa, among whom he lived until his death in October, 1838.

Black Hawk


The Black Hawk War was the last effort made by the Indians of the Old Northwest to retain their ancestral hunting grounds. Henceforth the country was to have peace, and the development of its resources was to proceed without hindrance from barbarous natives or alien foes. Its conquest was complete.

Many years ago the Hon. William H. Seward, in a speech before a western audience, ventured to predict that "power would not much longer linger on the narrow strip between the Atlantic and the slopes of the Alleghanies; but the commanding field would soon be in the upper Mississippi Valley, whence men and institutions would speak and communicate their will to the nation and the world." It has been reserved for people now living to see the fulfillment of this prediction.