& Ball: THE CREEK WAR of 1813 and 1814
(Kindly contributed by William C. Bell)
TECUMSEH AMONG THE CREEKS
The visit of this noted chief to the Creek Indians has been named as one of the causes leading to the Creek War.
Some notice of this visit seems to be desirable in this history, although not a part, strictly, of the war record.
It is singular that there is so much discrepancy among good and, in the main, reliable historians in regard to the time of this visit; but as one pushes researches onward with thoroughness in almost any line of investigation he finds that, in regard to man, it is more than easy to make mistakes. Some of these mistakes can be, some of them cannot be, corrected.
Ramsay says, and he is an excellent and careful historian, speaking of the Southern Indians: " In the spring of the year 1812, they were visited by the celebrated Tecumseh, whose designs appear to have been of the most extensive nature. The bold and enterprising genius of this chief led him to penetrate into the most remote quarters in the furtherance of his great object. With an ardent, but savage, eloquence he endeavored to excite them to resistance against what he represented as a flagrant oppression." *
* See Ramsay's United States. published May 1, 1818, "Second Edition, Revised and Corrected," vol. a, page 351.
Many writers since have evidently followed Ramsay or Alabama's leading historian, Pickett. In "Indian Wars of the United States** From the Best Authorities," by William V. Moore, published by R. W. Pomeroy, 1841, under the heading " The Creek War," the first sentence is the following: "In the spring of 1812 the Southern Indians were visited by the celebrated Tecumseh, who, with an ardent but savage eloquence, urged them to take up arms against the whites." (Moore has again followed Ramsay in saying that in Fort Mims were three hundred persons and that only seventeen escaped.)
An effort was made, as will appear in the notes on this chapter, to obtain some documentary evidence from state papers at Washington. The officials of the War Department, finding no desired document, referred as competent authority to Lossing's "Field Book of the War of 1812." This was examined and the statements were found, page 745,that Tecumseh had visited the Southern Indians "as early as the spring of 1811," and that ìin the autumn of 1812 --..Tecumseh went again to the Gulf Region." Also that he took his brother, the Prophet, with him and about thirty men. He seems to rely largely for his authority on Pickett. He gives yet another date. Speaking of the year 1813, he says: "--- that in the spring of that year Tecumseh (who was slain on the Thames a few months later) went among the Southern tribes, to arouse them to wage war upon the white people." Lossing's U. S. History for families and libraries, page 427.
Lossing is a good, in the main no doubt, a reliable historian, but made, as all are liable to do, some mistakes.
Parton says, in his "Life of Jackson," published in 1870: "In the spring of 1811 Tecumseh, leaving his affairs in the hands of the Prophet, as Moses did in those of Aaron when he ascended the Mount, went to the South preaching his crusade. Far and long he travelled, sowing the seeds of future wars." He speaks of his being among the Seminoles, the Creeks, the Cherokees, and the tribes of the Des Moines; how "he held the war council, delivered his impassioned TALK, and strode away." He adds: "The fall of 1812 again found Tecumseh, accompanied by the Prophet and a retinue of thirty warriors, haranguing the Creeks in the midnight council, and this time with prodigious effect. Now he could point to the successes of the British in the North; now he could give certain promises of assistance from the English and Spaniards in Florida; now he spoke with the authority of a British agent and officer. "
Francis S. Drake, in his "Indian Tribes of the United States," 2nd volume, 1884, also says: "In the spring of 1811 Tecumseh, leaving his affairs in the hands of his brother, the Prophet,"---he omits the allusion to Moses---" went to the South preaching his crusade." And again he says: "The fall of 1812 again found Tecumseh, accompanied by the Prophet and a retinue of thirty warriors, haranguing the Creeks in the midnight council, and this time with prodigious effect." It is needless to quote further. The words are the same as the words of Parton. Both Parton and Drake write the same words without any marks of quotation. Evidently some of the historians are too credulous, some too imaginative, and some are too careless.
Even Pickett says that Tecumseh went in the spring of 1812 and was south as late as October of that year.
Eggleston rather strangely says, for one who might be supposed to be very accurate, "A careful comparison of dates shows that Tecumseh started to the South in the spring of the year 1811, and returned to the North soon after the battle of Tippecanoe was fought."
McKenney wisely says, Tecumseh went South "about the year 1811." It is no wonder that one who looks over the various works in which Tecumseh and the Creek War are briefly treated should feel it prudent many times to say "about."
But researches continued for several months seem now to leave, on this one point, no further room for doubt.
In C. R. Tuttle's "History of the Border Wars of Two Centuries" there is a reference to Charles De Wolf Brownell's Indian Races of North and South America, in which Tecumseh's visit to the Creeks is placed in 1811. This year is certainly the correct date. The following statements will prove this and also show the month and the day.
It is well established in Indiana history that the movements of Tecumseh and his brother, called the Prophet, retarded the settlement of Indiana Territory in the year 1810. The sagacious Indian chief was then endeavoring to perfect what became known as "Tecumseh's Confederacy." August 12, 1810, Tecumseh with some seventy warriors visited General Harrison, then territorial governor, at Vincennes. The conference lasted till August 22nd. August 20th, Tecumseh delivered his celebrated speech, in which he gave to the white people the alternative of restoring to the Indians, whom he claimed to represent, their lands, or of meeting those Indians in battle. Before this date, in 1805, the Prophet, who was called Law-le-was-i-kaw, or the Loud Voice, had assumed the name Pemsquat-a-wah, or the Open Door, and in the spring of 1808 he had removed from Greenville, Ohio, to the Wabash valley of Indiana, where he established what was called the Prophet's Town, and in August of 1808 he had visited Governor Harrison at Vincennes. Early in 1811 the British agent for Indian affairs adopted measures to secure the support of as many Indians as possible in the war that even then seemed to he unavoidable. That these measures included conferences and arrangements with Tecumseh seems probable, although no certain evidence has been found.
July 27th, 1811, Tecumseh again visited Governor Harrison at Vincennes. He objected persistently to the treaties that had been made, wherein lands were said to be sold to the United States by single tribes of Indians. He claimed that one tribe could not sell lands belonging more or less, as he claimed, to all the tribes in common. (In 1807, at Chillicothe, he had occupied between three and four hours in the delivery of a speech which was said to have been "eloquent and masterly, and showed that he possessed thorough knowledge of all the treaties which had been made for years."* "He was at this time one of the most splendid specimens of his tribe--celebrated for their physical proportions and fine forms." He is described as having been tall, athletic, and manly, dignified and graceful -- the beau ideal of an Indian chieftain.")
* See Brice's History of Fort Wayne page 176. I place large confidence in local histories.--T. H. B.
As he and General Harrison could come to no perfect agreement at their conference, Tecumseh then said that he was going to visit the Southern Indians and would return to the Prophet's Town, and that the next spring he would visit the President at Washington and settle all cause of difficulty.
With twenty warriors he started immediately for the South. He left Vincennes August 5, 1811, and went down the Wabash River.* Of his journey south of the Ohio, till he reached the Chickasaws, there seems to be no record. Governor Harrison wrote to the War Department early in August, 1811, "that Tecumseh said he would be back next spring, but I am told in three months he will return. For four years he has been in constant motion."
* How the statement originated that he left Detroit with thirty men mounted on horses. I have not ascertained. It is surely not correct history. I infer rather that he left Vincennes in boats for he descended the Wabash. T. H. B.
That Tecumseh was in Indiana Territory in July, 1811, is certain. That he left Vincennes in August is beyond question.* That either in August or early in September of 1811 be was among the Chickasaws is also very certain.
* See Dillon's Indiana, also History of Indiana by Goodrich and Tuttle.
For confirmation of these statements see the following extracts from American State Papers, copied April 26, 1894:
[FROM INDIAN AFFAIRS. ]
Extracted from letters addressed to the War Department.
"Dated at VINCENNES, August 6, 1811.
"Tecumseh did not set out till yesterday; he then descended the Wabash attended by twenty men, on his way to the southward. After having visited the Creeks and Choctaws he is to visit the Osages and return by the Missouri." [Page 300.]
"NASHVILLE, Sept. 10, 1811.
"As I passed through the Chickasaw nation a respectable man of the nation informed me that a deputation of eighteen Northern Indians and two Creeks were on their way to the Creek nation, but would not tell their busines ---..The party consisted of six Shawnees, six Kickapoos, and six of some tribe far in the Northwest, the name of which they refused to tell ---..."
"NASHVILLE, Sept. 9, 1811.
"There is in this place a very noted chief of the Chickasaws, a man of truth, who wishes the President should be informed that there is a combination of the Northern Indians, promoted by the English, to unite in falling on the frontier settlements and are inviting the Southern tribes to join them." [Page 301]
In a former chapter we have seen this restless chieftain among the Choctaws and Chickasaws. It is claimed that he then went through to Florida and that he succeeded there in arousing the Seminoles to make war upon the whites and to take the side of the British when they should hear that the great conflict between them and the Americans had commenced. There is little knowledge in regard to his visit among the Seminoles, except these two bare facts, if facts these are. It is reported that he gave them a bundle of prepared sticks, painted red, each stick to represent a day, according to the number of days to elapse before he wished them to enter on the war path, one of which they were to throw away each day that there might be no mistake; and this is said to have been the origin of the term "Red Sticks" as applied to the hostile Indians. But quite a different origin of that term is also given.
That Tecumseh went among the Seminoles at all is questionable when the chronology of his Southern tour is closely examined. It took a little time for his party to reach the Chickasaws in whatever manner they travelled, in boats for a time, and then on foot or on horses, and certainly some stop however brief was made among them. Among the Choctaws, according to the time records in the preceding chapter, Tecumseh spent at least four weeks, and he was among the Creeks by common agreement of the authorities in October. Surely he had not much time to spend in Florida.
From Florida Tecumseh started northward and made his noted tour among the Creeks. And again we come among conflicting statements. But perhaps we will reach historic truth.
1. Before Tecumseh's visit, according to the Reminiscences of General Thomas Woodward, a white man came from Pensacola and made a visit to the Creek chief called Big Warrior, at Tuckabatchee. Woodward's informer was Weatherford, himself a noted Indian leader of mixed blood. The time of the interview was April 1814. They were, says General Woodward, beside a camp fire on the west bank of a stream called the Pinchgong. Weatherford thought the Pensacola man was Scotch. So he is sometimes called "the Scotch emissary." He held many conferences with Big Warrior "through a negro interpreter." Shortly after the disappearance of this man the oldest son of Big Warrior, Tuskanea or Tuskahenaha, "took a trip to the Wabash and visited several tribes." He brought back some Shawnee women whom General Woodward saw. Weatherford further related that not long after the return of Tuskanea, Tecumseh with a prophet called Seekaboo and with other stranger Indians appeared at the town of Tuckabatchee. "A talk was put out" by Big Warrior. This Weatherford and another Creek of mixed blood called Sam Moniac, the original name having been McNac,* attended. "No white man was allowed to be present." Weatherford reports, through General Woodward: "Tecumseh stated the object of his mission; that if it could be effected the Creeks could recover all the country that the whites had taken from them; and that the British would protect them in their rights." To Tecumseh's speech Moniac objected. He said the talk was a bad one, and he said that Tecumseh "had better leave the nation." The interpreter was Seekaboo "who spoke English." Weatherford told the interpreter to tell Tecumseh that the whites and Indians were at peace, that the Creeks were doing well, that it would be bad policy for them to take either side if the Americans and English went to war, and if they did unite with either side they "had better join the Americans."
* See Weatherford a letter in the notes to Chapter IX.
"After this talk Tecumseh left for home and prevailed on Seekaboo and one or two others to remain among the Creeks "*
*See Reminiscences of the Creek or Muscogee Indians by General Thomas Woodward. These Reminiscences consist of letters published in a Montgomery paper in 1859 and 1860, afterward published in book form. The work as an authority will be again mentioned.
2. Hodgson in "Letters from North America" says, that his host told him that he was then living with an Indian wife among the Creeks; that he was present at the midnight convocation of the chiefs; that Tecumseh made a most impressive speech. The year of this interview is not given.
3. In the "History of the Tribes of North America," a book in the Newberry library of Chicago, the writer says he obtained his information at Tuckhabatchee in 1827; that Tecumseh went to the lodge of Big Warrior, "explained his object, delivered his war-talk, presented a bundle of sticks, gave a piece of wampum and a hatchet, all which the Big Warrier took ;" and that then, perceiving the Creek chief would not unite with him in his plans, he declared that when he returned to Detroit he would stamp his foot and shake the earth. These accounts do not seem to have been copied the one from the other, but to be three independent accounts. They agree sufficiently to be truthful.
4. Two other accounts there are which are quite different from these. The one is by Pickett, (Albert James Pickett), published in 1851; the other is by J. F. E. Claiborne of Mississippi--his large work entitled "Mississippi, as a Province, Territory, and State," having been published in 1880.
These two accounts are very similar, very "graphic," very full.
Claiborne says, page 315, "entering the Creek territory he harangued the warriors at Autauga and Coosanda and the Hickory Ground. Wherever he went crowds attended, painted for war, and dancing the war dance." He adds. "In October the annual grand council of the nation, in pursuance of immemorial usage, assembled at the ancient town of Tookabatcha.* These councils were always attended by the United States Agent, by all the traders, by many strangers, and by the warriors and their families. On this occasion the fame of Tecumseh's visit, and his expected address, had assembled some five thousand persons at Tookabatcha." Claiborne describes the entrance of Tecumseh and his warriors into the town square** the second day, their dress, arms, bearing, the passing of Big Warrior's pipe, and their departure from the square to a large cabin provided for them, and at night their war dance.
* Different writers give different orthography for the same names.
** All Indian towns had public squares. Villages had no squares.
Each morning a Shawnee warrior announced that his chief would speak at noon, and each noon the speech was put off till the next day, until Colonel Hawkins, the United States Agent, left the town. The next noon after the Agent's departure, amid imposing ceremonies, Tecumseh made his appearance and delivered his speech. The assembly continued till midnight. Claiborne gives as the year, 1811, and the month October. Pickett, a statement of whose account will be found in the notes on this chapter, gives the same month, but by some means has the year date 1812. Claiborne gives the speech of Tecumseh "compressed."
No reporter is named except "Captain Sam Dale," although "an intelligent witness" is referred to.
The speech as to its genuineness is much like the historic speech of John Adams, "Sink or swim," given by Webster, although unlike that in failing to give the sentiments of Tecumseh. There is no reasonable evidence that it contains the substance of the statements of Tecumseh. It commences by claiming that his party murdered whites as they came through their settlements.
"No war-whoop was sounded, no track was made,"--by thirty men on horseback--"no fire was kindled, but see! there is blood on our war clubs!"
It urges the destruction of women and children, of which Tecumseh did not approve. It says: "Two mighty warriors across the seas will send us arms--at Detroit for us, at Pensacola for you," ten months before Detroit came into the possession of the English. And in closing this murderous, vengeful, barbarous, furious Tecumseh of imagination rather than of fact is made to say, "Soon shall you see my arm of fire stretched athwart the sky. You will know that I am on the war-path. I will stamp my foot and the very earth shall shake." Claiborne says, in a note appended to this " compressed " speech, "The British officers at Detroit had informed Tecumseh that a comet would soon appear, and the earthquakes of 1811 had commenced as he came through Kentucky." This note is surprising in view of these facts: that Tecumseh did not start south from Detroit, but from Vincennes, and no evidence has been found that in July of 1811 "British officers" were in Detroit--what business had they, then, in that American post--and no evidence that Tecumseh at that time had met with British officers; that he must have passed through Kentucky, and through or across very little of it at most, in August, and there is evidence that the first earthquake shocks were felt at Louisville the last week in November; and that the noted comet of 1811, the most remarkable one that appeared in the first half of this century, was visible in September and ceased to be seen when the earthquake shocks commenced.
In confirmation of these statements about the comet and earthquake are these extracts from an address before the Maryland Historical Society by Hon. J. B. Latrobe of Baltimore. He is describing the voyage of the steamboat "New Orleans," the first to descend the Mississippi. "It was midnight on the first of October, 1811, that the 'New Orleans' dropped anchor opposite the town."
This was Louisville. "There was a brilliant moon It was as light as day almost, and no one on board had retired. The noise of the escaping steam, then heard for the first time ---.roused the population" and "there were those who insisted that the comet of 1811 had fallen into the Ohio and produced the hub-bub!" For weeks the boat waited for rains and for water to pass the falls. The time is now "the last week in November." And J. B. Latrobe says, "The comet of 1811 had disappeared and was followed by the earthquakes of that year." Also C. J. Latrobe, in his "Rambler in North America," speaking of 1811 as "the annus mirabilis of the West" on account of the overflow of rivers, the "unprecedented sickness," the migration of "a countless multitude of squirrels," adds: "The splendid comet of that year long continued to shed its twilight over the forests, and, as the autumn drew to a close, the whole valley of the Mississippi, from the Missouri to the gulf, was shaken to its center by continued earthquakes."
Now, as the facts concerning the comet and the earthquakes, in these quotations from the two Latrobes, were known to Claiborne, for they are in his "Mississippi," his note is surprising as explaining Tecumseh's speech. Tecumseh never made that speech. Aside from the absurdity of its close, it does not breathe the well established humane spirit of Tecumseh. In order to obtain scientific as well as literary evidence in regard to the appearance of that comet, a letter of inquiry was sent to the astronomer at Harvard University, and, with the accustomed courtesy of the professors there, he soon returned the following reply:
CAMBRIDGE, MASS., NOV. 26, 1894.
DEAR SIR:--Your letter of November 20th is at hand. The comet you mention was discovered on March 26, 1811, and was visible to the naked eye in April, but only with difficulty. Its orbit was soon sufficiently determined to show that it would be nearer, and therefore brighter, in autumn; and it is possible that this knowledge may have reached Detroit as early as July. During most of the summer the comet was too nearly in the same direction with the sun to be seen at all, but it reappeared August 20th, and by August 26th was easily visible to the naked eve; it continued to increase in brightness during September, coming nearest to the earth on October lath. By December it had become very faint. It could be seen in this country as well as in Europe.
With that brilliant comet, its tail according to Milne "132,000,000 miles long," shining over them night after night all through September, and being nearest the earth October 15th it is unreasonable to suppose Tecumseh to have said to those Creek warriors, " Soon shall you see my arm of fire stretched athwart the sky." Tecumseh had too much good sense to say that. Nor is it probable that he claimed to be able to shake the earth. The Claiborne speech is not given here, for it does no credit to Tecumseh. It rests on no authority.
5. Leaving now these reports of Tecumseh among the Creeks, this of Claiborne, and also the one by Pickett which the reader will find in the notes, the most satisfactory statements at last are those of Dr. Ramsay.
He says, after mentioning Tecumseh's ardent but savage* eloquence, "He reminded them of the usurpation of their lands by the whites, and painted in glowing colors their spirit of encroachment, and the consequent diminution, and probable extinction, of the race of Indians; and contrasted their sedentary and unmanly occupations with the wild and fearless independence of their ancestors." This sounds like Tecumseh, and it does not appear that anything more accurate can now be obtained than was secured before the year 1818 by that noble son of Pennsylvania and South Carolina, Dr. David Ramsay.
*A savage is not always cruel. When Proctor and Tecumseh were together as commanders of the British forces Proctor was evidently the more cruel bloody savage of the two.
A few statements may here be added to show that Tecumseh could not have returned again to the South, as some historians state, in 1812.
Instead of returning, as he proposed, to the Prophet's Town and in the spring of 1812 going to Washington to see the President and settle all difficulties, he found on his return to Indiana in December that the Prophet had gone contrary to his instructions, had fought and lost the battle of Tippecanoe November 7th, that the Prophet's famous town had been destroyed, that his great confederacy was breaking up, and he appeared in that same month of December, 1811, at Fort Wayne. He asked for ammunition. It was denied him. He said he would go to his British father. He "gave the war-whoop and went off."**
** See Brice's History of Fort Wayne page 202.
In the spring of 1812 the Indians commenced active hostilities. May 15, 1812, Tecumseh attended a council at Mississinaway, thirty miles below Fort Wayne. In June he visited Fort Wayne, then went to Malden. In July he was at Malden with his warriors ready for the war, and was in the summer aiding General Brook in the region of Detroit. In August he led the Indians in the attack at Brownstown, in the first action after the formal declaration of the War of 1812. August 16th, when Detroit was captured, he was at the head of the Indians. In August of this year he was appointed a British Brigadier General. In September he began to assemble his forces to reduce forts Wayne and Harrison. Tecumseh continued actively engaged in the North, and in December of 1812, with six hundred warriors, he was near the Mississinaway towns. It is quite certain that he was not far from the scene of conflict when Frenchtown was taken January 22, 1813. In April, 1813, he was at Fort Meigs. The siege continued till May 9th.* He was again at Fort Meigs at the second attack in July, when he led "two thousand warriors." He was associated with General Brook and also with General Proctor, and was killed October 5, 1813, at the battle of the Thames, called also the battle of the Moravian towns.
* Says Ramsay (vol. 3. p. 280): The British force, including regulars and militia during the siege was supposed to have been upwards of one thousand. Their Indian auxiliaries were not fewer in amount. Among them the celebrated Tecumseh particularly distinguished. The American garrison seldom exceeded twelve hundred, a very small portion of whom were regulars.
It thus appears that Lossing, Parton, Drake, and others must be mistaken who claim that Tecumseh visited the Southern Indians a second time, making that visit in the fall of 1812 or in the spring of 1813. It is true that the actual presence of Tecumseh in the Indiana Territory has not been shown for the months of October and November of 1812; but that he could have been absent from the "seat of war" could have gone South and visited all those Southern Indians, and returned, in those two months, is hardly credible.
1. Mention has been made of an effort to obtain documentary evidence of Tecumseh's visit from the War Department. The following are extracts from a letter from a valued friend residing in Washington City, Mrs. Bessie Boone Cheshire:
WASHINGTON D. C., Nov. 29, 1892.
"Your letter of 24th inst. duly received. It is a source of much pleasure to be of use to you in the work in which your are engaged. Though I fear the resources at my command are not so great as you may think. There is no documentary evidence of Tecumseh's visit to the Creeks. In fact there are now no documents of any of the older Indian wars. * * * The officials to whom I went were disposed to be very helpful. However they told me that no outside parties were ever allowed to examine documents--this was when I asked the privilege of examining the records--but that they would examine and give me any desired information. I was told that "Lossing's Field Book of the War of 1812" would furnish all that I had inquired for. And when I told them it was not historical but documentary evidence that I wished, they told me there was absolutely none; that if you sent or bad sent direct to the War Department for it they could only have referred you to Lossing, page 187.
"All this did not quite satisfy me, and having quite a near neighbor who is an officer in the Indian Bureau I went to him about it. He told me to address a letter to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, enclose yours to me, and send it through the mail, and then it would receive attention and whatever they found would be sent to you direct from the office and would be official. This in a measure, relieved me as there was really nothing left for me to do.
"This neighbor tells me that my letter with yours came to the Commissioner and was placed in his hands with a note from Commissioner Morgan in which he says:
"'Rev. T. H. Ball is a particular friend of mine and I shall esteem it as a personal favor if you will furnish him the desired information."'
Under date of December 22d the letter states that the neighbor called that morning to say that the office had a man looking up such old records as remained.
2. In due course of time the following, through the hands of my friend, Mrs. Cheshire, a lady of culture, interested in historical research, came through the mail from Washington:
OFFICE OF INDIAN AFFAIRS.
Washington, December 31, 1892.
Mrs. Bessie Boone Cheshire, 105 Eleventh St., S. E., City.
MADAM: I am in receipt of your letter of December 1, 1892, forwarding a letter from Rev. T. H. Ball. of Crown Point, Indiana. dated November 24, 1892, requesting definite information from the records of this office as to the fact, whether or not the noted Indian Chief, Tecumseh, visited the Creek Indians in 1811, or in 1812, or both years, as Historical writers differ as to the time of said visit; but he had satisfied himself that Tecumseh was South at the time of the battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, but wished to know authoritatively if he went South again in 1819, and refers to the fact that Col. Benjamin Hawkins at that time had charge of Indian affairs in Georgia, and felt sure that in the records at Washington, his report of Tecumseh's visit could be found, if made.
Rev. Mr. Ball gives as his reason for making this call for information, the fact that he, in company with a friend in Mississippi, is preparing a work on the "Creek War in South Alabama," and that it has fallen to his lot to-write up the chapter "Tecumseh's visit to the Creek Indians," and must have some documentary evidence, State paper or official report that he was surely there in 1812.
In response to this request, I have caused the records of this office to be searched, but they fail to disclose any information on the subject. The papers on file in this office, of that period, are very meagre indeed; the files were kept in the War Department, and when the papers were transferred from that Department to this office in 1849, when the Interior Department was organized, and this office made a branch bureau thereof, but few of the records or files pertaining to such subjects were transferred, so that if this visit was officially reported by Col. Hawkins, it must vet remain in the custody of the War Department.
I would state however that reference is made in the American State Papers, of the visits of Tecumseh to the Southern Indians, and your attention is invited to Volume 1, Indian Affairs, p. 799, where in a letter from General Harrison, dated Vincennes, December 4, 1811 to Wm. Eustis, Secretary of War, he speaks of Tecumseh's tour to the Southward; and on page 800, in letters addressed to the War Department, mention is made in one from Vincennes dated August 6, 1811, that "Tecumseh did not set out till yesterday, he then descended the Wabash, attended by twenty men, on his way to the Southward. After having visited the Creeks and Choctaws, he is to visit the Osages and return by the Missouri."
In a letter from William Wells of Fort Wayne, dated March 1, 1812, to the Secretary of War, Br. Eustis, he writes:
"In my letter of the 10th ultimo, I informed you that the Indian chief, Tecumseh, had arrived on the Wabash. I have now to state to you that it appears that he has determined to raise all the Indians he can, immediately, with an intention, no doubt, to attack our frontier. He has sent runners to raise the Indians on the and the Upper Mississippi and I am told he has gone himself to hurry on the aid he was promised by the Cherokees and Creeks." Idem, p. 806.)
In an extract from General William Clark, of St. Louis, dated March 22, 1812, appears the following, viz:
"The Winnebagoes, part of the Kickapoos, and some of the Pottawatomies are yet friendly to the Prophet and may join him again in the spring. His brother, Tecumseh, returned from the Southern tribes in December last. He made great exertions to get the Shawnees and Delawares of this territory to join the Prophet's army, but without success." (Idem p. 807.)
The History of Alabama, by Albert James Pickett, published in 1851, in two volumes, at Charleston, by Walker & James, has a chapter on Tecumseh (Chapter XL2zI. Vol. 2.) After stating that his father and mother were of the Shawnee family, were born and bred at Souvanogee (old Augusta) upon the Tallapoosa, in Alabama, who removed to the forest of Ohio, where Tecumseh was born in 1768, and referring to other visits to the Cherokees and Creeks, it states that--
"After many conferences with the British, at Detroit, Tecumseh, in the spring of 1812, left that country with a party of thirty warriors mounted on horses, and shaped his course to the south. Passing through the Chickasaw and Choctaw Country, he was unsuccessful in arraying these tribes against the Americans. He went down to Florida and met with complete success with the Seminoles. In the month of October he came up to Alabama, crossed that river at Autauga, when he, for the first time, appealed to the Creeks in a long speech. Continuing to Coosawda, he had by this time collected many followers, who went with him to the Hickory Ground. Having from their boyhood heard of his feats in the buffalo chase, the bloody wars which he had conducted, and of his fierce and transcendent eloquence, the warriors docked to see him. He went to Tookabatcha, where Colonel Hawkins was then holding his grand council with the Indians. * * Tecumseh visited all the important Creek towns, enlisting all whom he could on the side of England. * * Tecumseh having made numerous proselytes. once more (November) visited the Big Warrior at Tookabatcha, whom he was particularly desirous to enlist in his schemes, but whom he had hitherto entreated to no effect, although his house was his headquarters. * * * The common Indians believed every word of Tecumseh's last speech, which was intended solely to intimidate the Big Warrior, and (in December) they began to count up the time it would take the Shawnee chief to reach Detroit, when he would stamp his foot, as he had declared."
It seems that he became very angry with Big Warrior, and pointing his finger in his face, emphatically said, "Your blood is white. * * You do not believe the Great Spirit sent me. You shall believe it. I will leave directly and go straight to Detroit. When I get there I will stamp my foot upon the ground and shake down every house in Tookabatcha." It appears that a mighty rumbling in the earth was heard soon after, which caused the houses of Tookabatcha to reel and totter. The people ran out, saying, "Tecumseh has got to Detroit! Tecumseh has got to Detroit! We feel the shake of his foot!"
In relation to this visit of Tecumseh to Alabama the author makes this note on page 246, Vol. 2:
"I have consulted General Ferdinand L. Claiborne's MS. papers and Drake's Life of Tecumseh; I have also conversed with Lachau Durant, Mrs. Sophia McComb, Peter Randon, James Moore, and others, who were at Tookabatcha when Tecumseh arrived there."
The letter of the Rev. Mr. Ball is returned herewith. Very respectfully
T. J. MORGAN, Commissioner.
3. Among other efforts to arrive at facts in regard to Tecumseh, I wrote to Hiram W. Beckwith, Esq, of Danville, Illinois, who owns "what is probably the most valuable collection in the West on French American history," a library which he has been twenty-five years collecting from dealers on both sides of the Atlantic, and which, it is said, "contains nearly every known book on the language, implements, and manners of the aboriginal inhabitants, and their wars with the border settlers."
The Governor "appointed him one of the Trustees of the State Historical Library, and his associates selected him as President of their board."
From him, in answer to my special questions, I received the following statements, which, as he presents the same conclusions which my investigations have reached, giving authorities to which I have not had access, I think ought to be placed here, at the conclusion of this chapter. His letter is dated "Danville, Illinois, Dec. 16th, 1892." I omit the introduction:
"1st. On the 27th of July, 1811, 'Tecumseh, with about 320 or 330 men, women. and children, arrived at Vincennes.' [Vide 'Memoirs of Gen. Harrison,' by Moses Dawson, Cincinnati, 1824, page 182 ] This was the Shawnee's second: personal visit to Gov. Harrison, the first having been on August 12th, 1810."
"2d. 'A few days after' the conclusion of the conference of 1811, 'Tecumseh accompanied by twenty men went down the Wabash.' 'The day before he told Governor Harrison that after visiting the Creeks, Chickasaws, and Choctaws he would go to the Osages (in Missouri) and return by the Missouri river.' 'He had given out the following spring as the time for his return, but the Governor had information that he intended to be absent no more than three months.' [Vide same work, page 184.]
"Just how long he was in the South, or the exact time of his return, is a matter I am without any authority to refer you. He was certainly back again upon the upper Wabash late the same year, or at least very early in that of 1812.
"3d. His whereabouts in 1812 and thence on until his death, October 5th of the following year, can be so closely followed as to have given him no time whatever for any other visit to the Creeks or their neighbors. It will be recalled that the battle of Tippecanoe took place Nov. 7, 1811, 'during Tecumseh's absence.' Now, Little Turtle, the Miami chief, in his address to Gov. Harrison, dated at Fort Wayne, Indiana, January 25, 1812, referring to the results of that affair, says: 'All of the Prophet's followers have left him except two camps of his own tribe. Tecumseh has just joined him with only eight men.' [Vide 'Little Turtle to Gov. Harrison,' Mem. Glen. Harrison above, page 258.]
"Again, we find him at a grand council of several Indian nations, 'held at Massassinwav (near its mouth) on the Wabash, May 16, 1812,' when he made two speeches. [Vide minutes of those proceedings, same volume, page 266.] On this occasion Tecumseh, alluding to the action of Nov. 7th, said: 'Governor Harrison made war on my people in my absence.' The nest month, 'on the 17th of June, he came to Fort Wayne,' saying 'he was on his way to Malden' (now Amherstburg, Canada, near the mouth of the Detroit river), to receive from the British government twelve horse loads of ammunition for the use of his people at Tippecanoe.' He went on to Malden and was there a few days before Gen. Hull's army arrived at Detroit, and thereupon 'declared he would join the British against the United States.' [Vide 'Letter of Capt. Wm. Wells to Gov. Harrison, Fort Wayne, July 23, 1812 copied into the above volume, page 278.]
"'On the 12th of July, 1812, his brother, the Prophet, reached Fort Wayne with nearly a hundred Winnebagoes and Kickapoos,' and went into camp near by.
" A week later one of Tecumseh's messengers from the head of Lake Erie arrived at the Prophet's camp telling the latter ' to at once send their women and children towards the Mississippi, while the warriors should strike a heavy blow on Vincennes, and that he, Tecumseh, if he lived, would join him in the country of the Winnebagoes,' then in Wisconsin. After the landing of Gen. Hull at Sandwich to attack Malden, July 12, 'Tecumseh and a hundred of his Indians remained at the latter place with the British.' [Vide same letter.]
"Wm. S. Hatch, then Quarter Master in the American army, saw him on the streets of Detroit, Aug. 17th of the same year, and graphically describes his appearance and dress. He was then an officer in the British service, [Vide 'Hatche's Chapter on the War of 1812,' page 114], and on the 9th of the same month be had commanded the Indians in the engagement against the Americans a few miles below Detroit. [Vide 'History of the Late War' (of 1812) by Capt. Robert McAffe, Lexington, Ky., 1816, page 78].
'On the 18th of December, 1812, Col. Campbell, attacked the Indian towns 'on the Mississiniway river' and 'learning from a prisoner that Tecumseh with six hundred warriors was but eighteen miles below him,' near the Wabash. 'did not think it prudent to remain there any longer.' [Same volume, page 181 to 182.]
"Thus can we trace Tecumseh in 1812 and 1813 from place to place on the northwestern frontier in a way that gives him no time to be absent from that field of military operation.
HIRAM W. BECKWITH."
The critical reader may notice that, as in the text of this chapter, so here in this letter, the presence of Tecumseh in the North has not been shown for the month of October, 1812, when some claim he was among the Creek Indians. But even granting that his presence on the Indiana Territory or in Canada for that month cannot be shown, I think enough has been shown to justify Mr. Beckwith's statement, that there was "no time," in the fall of 1813, when Tecumseh could have been absent sufficiently lone, "from that field of military operation," to make that visit described by Parton and by Drake. Mr. Beckwith adds in a postscript:
"The authorities quoted are above all dispute. They are also quite rare. Dawson and Capt. McAffe were on the Northern frontier in active service from start to finish, and both had access to contemporaneous writings as well as an extended personal intercourse with the leading officers in all military movements of those memorable campaigns."
The writer of the foregoing chapter had access to Choctaw traditions to enable him to trace Tecumseh's movements from place to place, almost from day to day; but the writer of this chapter has had no Creek traditions to aid him in making up the facts as recorded, but has been obliged to sift many statements to secure a few grains of unquestionable historic truth. And he is well aware that some critical readers may say, he has made a needless parade of the work performed; but he hopes many readers will appreciate it at whatever may be its true value. T. H. B.
THE WAR CLOUD GATHERING
War was declared between the United States and Great Britain June 18, 1812. Into this war Tecumseh entered heartily in favor of the British and against the Americans, as we have already seen. We are now to look at the Creek Indians in this year of 1812.
The following are extracts from letters to the War Department, written by Colonel Benjamin Hawkins, and taken from Indian Affairs as published in American State Papers, commencing on page 304.
CREEK AGENCY, Feb. 3, 1812.
Our Indians are, many of them, occupied in spinning, weaving! making new settlements, or improving those heretofore made. I believe nine-tenths of the Lower Creeks have left their old towns and formed, or are forming settlements on the creeks and rivers where the lands are good and the range for stock good.
CREEK AGENCY, April 6,1812.
On the 26th ult., Thomas Meredith, Sr., a respectable old man, travelling with his family to the Mississippi Territory, was murdered on the post road, at Kittome, a creek 150 miles from this. Sam Macnac, a half breed, of large property, who keeps entertainment on the road, at whose house Meredith is buried, calls it an accident.
Colonel Hawkins then details circumstances and gives evidence showing that it was a murder.
CREEK AGENCY May 11, 1812.
I have just returned from the council of the Lower Creeks, and have time only, by this mail, to write you a short letter.
He then states (given here in an abridged form) that Charles Hicks, late United States interpreter for the Cherokees, by order of his chiefs, had sent a friendly letter to the Creeks, in which he said to them that if they joined the English in the coming war they would lose every foot of their land, but if they joined the Americans they would gain their friendship forever. To this the Creeks replied that they would not "interfere in the wars of white people."
CREEK AGENCY, May 25, 1812.
I was this day informed by Mr. Cornells, our interpreter for the Upper Creeks, that on the 23rd inst. a white man, William Lott, was murdered, eight miles this way from his home, by four Indians without the least provocation. * * * The chiefs will meet in one week and we shall see what can be done. We have a report also that two families have been killed in Tennessee.
CREEK AGENCY, July 28, 1812.
I have just time to inform you that the Indian who murdered Meredith was put to death on the 19th.
CREEK AGENCY Aug. 24, 1812.
Those charged with the murder on Duck River are not yet come at.
This massacre of the Tennessee families on Duck River and the treatment of Mrs. Crawley and children, aroused strong feelings against the Creeks among the people of Tennessee. The reader will find, when he comes to the treaty of peace, at the close of the war, that Duck River was charged up against the Creeks along with Fort Mims.
The Lower and Upper Creeks united their efforts in having justice dealt out to the murderers of William Lott. We come now to 1813, the year of actual strife.
By an act passed in Congress February 12, 1813, General James Wilkinson was authorized to proceed to Mobile, then held by the Spaniards, and to take possession. March 8th, Commander Shaw, with General Wilkinson and his troops on board his fleet, reached Dauphine Island; and after a few days the following communication was sent to the Spanish commandant by the American General:
BEFORE MOBILE, April 12.
SIR: The troops of the United States do not approach you as the enemies of Spain, but by order of the President they come to relieve the brave garrison which you so worthily command, from the occupancy of a post within the legitimate limits of the United States. I hope that you will peacefully retire from Fort Charlotte, and from the Mississippi Territory, to the eastern side of the Perdido river.
This request was in a few days complied with.*
* I have taken the above from Claiborne's "Mississippi" which in regard to official documents I consider perfectly reliable. T. H. B.
General Wilkinson did not long remain at Mobile. He was ordered to Canada--in June he was passing through the "Creek Nation" on his way to the North--and Major General Thomas Flournoy, of Georgia, succeeded him in the command at Mobile, and of the Seventh military division.
General Flournoy, June 28, 1813, ordered Brigadier General Ferdinand L. Claiborne, with his brigade of six hundred Mississippi volunteers, to march from Baton Rouge to Mount Vernon, in order to be ready there "to repel any attack that may be made on any part of the frontier of the Mississippi Territory, either from Indians, Spaniards, or English " Leaving Baton Rouge June 28th, this brigade reached Mount Vernon July 30th, 1813. "You will put yourself," General Flournoy's order continued, "in communication with Lieutenant Colonel Bowyer, who commands at Mobile and Mobile Point, who will give you the earliest information of any movement by the English or Spaniards The defence of the town of Mobile will be your principal care."
While the open war was between the Americans and the British, it was quite well understood that on the southern frontier both the Spaniards and Indians were likely to aid the British as against the Americans. The Spaniards and British had by turns been the nominal holders of Florida.
Leaving now General Flournoy in command in the summer of 1813, and General Claiborne at Mount Vernon, we are ready to look at the uprising of a part of the Creek Confederacy, or at what was called their civil war.
J. F. H. Claiborne, in his "Mississippi," gives a letter written by General Wilkinson, when on his way northward, to one of the prominent citizens of Washington county, Judge Toulmin, which is dated--a misprint or mistake is here corrected--"Sam Manacs, Creek Nation, June 25, 1813."
In this letter he says: "Your favor of the 22d reached me near this place, surrounded by dangers; but I am too far advanced to retreat. Indeed, I dare not turn my back on reports, and, therefore, shall proceed this evening [afternoon] to Catoma, and to-morrow to Doyle's, where I expect to see the Big Warrior, who has begged an interview with me. He has been intrenched against the war party a week or ten days and lives in fear of his life, as his antagonists are daily making converts and increasing in strength, with the avowed intention to destroy him and all who have been concerned in the execution of the murderers; after which, it is believed by all with whom I have conversed, they expect to intimidate the rest of the nation to join them, and then it is their intention to make war on the whites. This seems to be the general impression; but no one can tell or even guess v here a blow will be struck." General Wilkinson then speaks of "one Joseph Francis," living on the road, who claimed to have " had a visit from the Lord," and who detailed the things revealed to him "in the manner most impressive on his barbarian auditors." General Wilkinson also wrote that he was assured that Francis with more than three hundred followers was at a camp on the Alabama about sixteen miles above the Big Swamp, and that it was reported that this party was about "to move down the river to break up the half-breed settlements and those of the citizens in the forks of the river."
"I know not what stress to lay on these wild reports, but the whole road is deserted--the Indians are all assembled, and their villages ahead of me, many towns on the Alabama and Tallapoosa and Coosa, are deserted, and consternation and terror are in every countenance I meet. I have considered it proper you should receive this information, and, therefore, I send back Weatherford with this information for your government, and will only observe, that I think the volunteers should be called up to your frontier, without a moment's delay." General Wilkinson was now on his way to his command in Canada, and was travelling, the reader will notice, over that" Government road " through the Creek country. One quotation more:
"I have about twenty armed men, and our cavalcade consists of about forty persons. Our horses and carriages are in good order. * * * Colonel Hawkins is profoundly silent. Alexander Cornels has fled the country and I cannot hear of any preparation to succor the Big Warrior." The letter is signed "James Wilkinson," and is addressed "Hon. Judge Toulmin, Fort Stoddert."
It appears from this letter that open war among the Creeks had not then commenced but might break out any day. Weatherford was at that time friendly. (Some suggest that the Weatherford mentioned in the letter was not the noted William but Jack Weatherford, but, if so, it will not affect the statement as a fact, although affecting it as a conclusion; for as a fact it rests on other evidence.)
The murderers referred to in this valuable letter are no doubt those concerned in the murder of Thomas Meredith and William, or as some call him, Arthur, Lott. General Woodward says: "I have often heard Sam Moniac say, that if Lott had not been killed at the time he was, it was his belief that the war could have been prevented."*
* The student of history finds King Philip's war originating about as did the Creek war. 1. "It became evident to the Indians that the spreading settlements were fast breaking up their hunting grounds. 2. A converted Indian was found murdered. The execution by the whites of three Indians convicted of the murder, may be considered as the immediate cause of the war." See Anderson's history of King Philip's War.
The following deposition copied from the Alabama Historical Reporter of June, 1880, is an interesting document which will show what plans some of the chiefs had formed as early as July 11, 1813, the time of the interview with Jim Boy or High Head Jim to which Sam Moniac refers.
MISSISSIPPI TERRITORY, WASHINGTON DISTRICT.
The Deposition of Samuel Manac, of lawful age, a Warrior of the Creek Nation.
About the last of October, thirty Northern Indians came down with Tecumseh, who said he had been sent by his brother, the prophet. They attended our council at the Tuccabache, and had a talk for us. I was there for the spate of two or three days, but every day whilst I was there, Tecumseh refused to deliver his talk, and on being requested to give it, said that the sun had gone too far that day. The day after I came away, he delivered his talk. It was not till about Christmas that any of our people began to dance the war dance. The Muscogees have not been used to dance before war, but after. At that time about forty of our people began this Northern custom, and my brother-in-law, Francis, who also pretends to be a prophet, was at the head of them. Their number has very much increased since, and there are probably now more than half of the Creek nation who have joined them.
Being afraid of the consequences of a murder having been committed on the mail route, I had left my home on the road, and had gone down to my plantation on the river. I stayed there some time. I went to Pensacola with some steers, during which time, my sister and brother, who have joined the war party, came and got off a number of my horses and other stock, and thirty-six of my negroes. About one or two and twenty days ago, I went up to my house on the road, and found some Indians camped near it whom I tried to avoid, but could not. An Indian came to me, who goes by the name of High Headed Jim, and whom I found had been appointed to head a party sent from the Auttasee Town, on the Tallapoosa, on a trip to Pensacola. He shook hands with me, and immediately began to tremble and jerk in every part of his frame, and the very calves of his legs would be convulsed, and he would get entirely out of breath with the agitation. This practice was introduced in May or June last by the Prophet Francis, who says that he was instructed by the Spirit. High-Headed Jim asked what I meant to do. I said that I should sell my property and buy ammunition, and join them. He then told me that they were going down to Pensacola to get ammunition, and that they had got a letter from a British General which would enable them to receive ammunition from the Governor. That it had been given to the Little Warrior, and saved by his Nephew when he was killed and sent down to Francis. High-Head told me that when they went back with their supply another body of men would go down for another supply of ammunition, and that ten men would go out of each Town, and that they calculated on five horse loads for every Town. He said that they were to make a general attack on the American Settlements--that the Indians on the waters of the Coosa and Tallapoosa, and on the Black Warrior, were to attack the Settlements on the Tombigby and Alabama, particularly the Tensaw and Fork Settlements.--That the Creek Indians, bordering on the Cherokees, were to attack the people of Tennessee, and that the Seminoles and lower Creeks were to attack the Georgians. --That the Choctaws also had joined them and were to attack the Mississippi Settlements.--That the attack was to be made at the same time in all places where they got furnished with ammunition. I found, from my sister, that they were treated very rigorously by the Chiefs, and that many, particularly the women among them, (two daughters of the Late Gen. McGillivray, who had been induced to join them to save their property,) were very desirous to leave them. but could not.
I found, from the talk of High-Head, that the war was to be against the whites and not between Indians themselves,--that all they wanted was to kill those who had taken the talk of the whites, viz: the Big Warrior, Alex. Cornells, Capt. Isaac, Wm. McIntosh, the Mad Dragon's son, the little Prince Spoko Kange and Tallasee Thicksico.
They have destroyed a large quantity of my cattle, and burnt my houses on my river plantation, as well as those of James Cornells and Leonard McGee.
SAMUEL S. M. MANAC.
Sworn and subscribed before me, one of the U. S. Judges for the Mississippi Territory, this id day of August, 1813. HARRY TOULMIN.
A true copy.
Geo. T. Ross, Lt. Col. V.
This deposition, although sworn to by as friendly and trusty a man as Sam Moniac, must not all be taken as reliable history. The reader must not suppose the October mentioned to be in the year 1812, as would be natural, but in 1811. In what year the Christmas was can only be conjectured, so far as the deposition is concerned. High Head Jim, whom Dr. A. B. Clanton of Leaf, Mississippi, calls Tuskegee, and of whom he says: "In his person he was the beau ideal of a hero," "beyond all comparison the finest looking man" that he had chanced to see, was evidently mistaken in some of his statements. But the critical reader will find these out for himself. He can see what the River Settlements had reason to expect. How fully any plan for such a widespread extermination of the white settlers was matured, it is impossible now to ascertain; but they were determined, evidently, to make an effort to prevent their own extermination, and the Spanish authorities at Pensacola had promised that, in the event of their failure, they would transport them all to the island of Cuba.
About this same time, probably in July, 1813, Latecau, an Indian youth eighteen years of age, claiming to be a prophet, and collecting eight others as subordinate prophets, went to the old town of Coosa and invited all the unbelievers or friendly Indians to come and see the display of their magical powers. Many assembled. The prophets commenced "the dance of the lakes" as taught by Tecumseh's warriors, then suddenly gave the warwhoop, rushed upon three friendly chiefs and killed them. The other chiefs immediately retired to their own towns, assembled their warriors, returned to Coosa, killed the nine prophets, and then went to Little Ocfuskee and put to death some more of Tecumseh's deluded followers. Thus, it seems, the civil war, so called, among the Creeks, began. The hostile bands also commenced killing the cattle of the friendly Indians, as Moniac testified, or driving them off and selling them.
Another valuable letter, in this connection, is the following from General Flournoy to General Claiborne. The date is August 25, 1813.
"SIR: Your letters and documents, by express, have been received. As I have already written you, and likewise Governor Holmes, very fully on Indian affairs, I will not now go into further details. A recent letter from Colonel Hawkins (a copy herein enclosed). will show the situation of the Creek Indians. They must finish their civil war before they go to war with us. And it is by no means certain that the war party will succeed in overpowering the party friendly to us."
Some time between the date of these two letters it is evident that Weatherford joined the war party. for before August closed we find him at Fort Mims, General Woodward places it in 1813, but does not name the month. And it may be here observed that Tecumseh seems to have had no influence over Weatherford. Woodward says that Sam Moniac and Weatherford, returning from a trip into the Mississippi Territory, where they had been "trading in beef cattle," found several chiefs assembled--it is said on Tallewassee Creek, a mile and a half from the Alabama River--and taking the "black drink."*
* This drink a kind of tea, was made from the leaves of the Ilex Cassine or holly of the Gulf states and used on various occasions. See Wood's botany and see Gatschet.
These chiefs told Weatherford and Moniac that they must join them or be put to death. The following are Woodward's own words: "Moniac boldly refused and mounted his horse.* Josiah Francis, his brother-in-law, seized his bridle. Moniac snatched a war club from his hand, gave him a severe blow and put out, with a shower of rifle bullets following him. Weatherford consented to remain He told them that he disapproved their course, and that it would be their ruin, but that they were his people, he was raised with them, and he would share their fate." General Woodward names among these chiefs Hopie Tustanuggee, or Far Off Warrior, a Tuskegee, their eldest or principal chief, "the one" says Woodward, "looked upon as the General," and who was killed at Fort Mims; Peter McQueen; Jim Boy or High Head Jim; Josiah Francis or Hillis Hadjo, "the new made prophet," probably the same who is called Joseph by General Wilkinson; Seekaboo the Shawnee prophet; and several others. He says that Weatherford offered some advice to these chiefs, but they declined to follow his suggestions. The reasons which Weatherford assigned for joining the war party, as detailed at some length by Woodward, are very creditable to Weatherford's humanity. He though the would thus be the means of preventing not a little bloodshed. **
* Whether the trading in beef cattle took place after Moniac made his deposition August 2 1813 or whether It took place before he took his steers to Pensacola or whether the two accounts are different versions of one transaction I will leave for the consideration of those understanding the principles of higher criticism. T. H. B.
** Brewer in his "Alabama" "from 1540 to 1872" published in 1873 a work designed to be "indispensable to the intelligent Alabamian" says of General Woodward that he "had Indian blood in his veins," was reared on the frontier and among the Indians coming into the Mississippi Territory from Georgia as early as 1810; that he was an officer in the Florida war of 1817 and 1818 and was a brigadier general of militia. He says that he was an interesting man and a "famous character" in the Tallapoosa region. Brewer further says that his volume of Indian Reminiscences "attempts to confute many of the statements made by Pickett, Meek, Coxe, and others," and that he has himself in his history, "in part adopted" them. I think that in saying "confute" Brewer has used too strong a word here. It seems to me that all Woodward designed to do was to give what he believed to be facts and thus to correct any errors into which Pickett and Meek had been led.
Wishing to learn still more in regard to Woodward s Reminiscences I wrote to the present Secretary of State of Alabama Hon. J. D. Barron in regard to them and in reply in a letter dated Montgomery Mar 19 1894 he says that "in Woodward's letters * * * there is a great deal of useful and interesting information." "I give a great deal of credit to what he says as I find a great deal of outside evidence to strengthen what he says."
I have given this lengthy note because General Woodward who died in 1861 is an authority often referred to in parts of this work. His little book of reminiscences is now very rare. The copy used for this work came from the hands of that excellent student of history the late Dr. Lyman C. Draper of Wisconsin.
General Thomas S. Woodward must certainly be regarded as a truthful man and he had undoubted facilities for obtaining some valuable information. When he was not himself an eye witness he may, like others have been sometimes misled. But certainly by comparing combining and sifting statements all designed to be true we shall reach the probable facts. T. H. B.
There is surely truth in Drake's remark that "the process of fermenting a civil war was along and doubtful one," so attached to the whites had the more intelligent chiefs become, although many of the Creeks may have believed, as did some of the Western tribes, that they were on the eve of a great revolution through which they would gain their lost ascendency in America. The pending struggle between Great Britain and the United States with Spanish Florida to help the British seemed to be a favorable time for the attempt to be made.
And so there came into what is known as
"THE WAR OF 1812,"
continuing until 1815, the side issue, the Southern conflict, like a stirring episode into some great epic,
"THE CREEK WAR OF 1813 AND 1814."
The main question at issue between the two factions of the Creek nation was, whether they should undertake the extermination of the white settlers on their western borders. The Alibamos especially, says Pickett,--those joining these river settlers on the east, upon whose hunting grounds encroachments had already been made,--"were furious advocates of American extermination." Colonel Hawkins acknowledges that all the Alibamo towns, without exception, were hostile.
That war of extermination for which some of them had been preparing, was, as we shall soon see, precipitated upon them; and when they finally came into contact with American citizen soldiers they fought with a determination which some one has said, "has hardly a precedent in Indian contests." It is no wonder that they fought then, for the war became for them one for their homes, their hunting grounds, their burial places, their native land.
That Confederacy of Indians known as the Creek or Muscogee, occupied a broad territory extending from the Oconee River in Georgia to the Alabama River, and it included a number of tribes. In 1791 these tribes had fifty-two towns and some ten thousand members, including the women and children.* Their large division was into Upper Creeks and Lower Creeks. The map inserted here is sufficiently accurate to show the extent of the Muscogee lands.
* Bancroft as quoted by Lewis H. Morgan in Indian Migrations estimates the Indians east of the Mississippi and south of the Great Lakes at the beginning of the seventeenth century at about one hundred and eighty thousand; and of those Bancroft assigns to the Cherokees twelve thousand; to the Chickasaws Choctaws and Muscogees fifty thousand.
It was, and still is, a well watered region. On Colton's map of the states of Georgia and Alabama there are laid down more than fifty water courses of various sizes that one would cross in passing from the Altamaha to Claiborne on the Alabama.
This well known place is named, once Weatherford's Bluff, two hundred and fifty steps leading up from the landing to the top of the bluff, as it is almost directly south from Tuscaloosa on the Black Warrior, near which locality a Creek chief, by per mission of the Choctaws, had established himself; and this meridian line continued northward is sufficiently accurate to mark the boundary in the present North Alabama between the Chickasaws and Cherokees, and eastward of it, south of the Cherokee lands, will be indicated the Creek lands west of the Alabama on the Cahawba and on the upper Black Warrior. This meridian line, which would thus nearly mark the western limits of the Creeks in 1813, is thirty miles east of the St. Stephen's meridian. The Creeks once claimed, perhaps held, as far west as the Tombigbee.
Of the Upper Creek towns, according to Weatherford and General Woodward, they were nearly all hostile except the Natchez and Hillabee towns, and were controlled largely by Menawa, or, as the name is now written by his grandchildren, Monahwee (known as Ogillis Incha or Fat Englishman), who commanded the Indian warriors at Tohopeka, called in English, Horse Shoe. Also there should be excepted the Tookabatchees who adhered to Big Warrior and some of the Coshattees with their leader Captain Isaacs.
Gatschet, Migration Legend, Vol. II, pages 189, 190, gives the following as the names of the hostile Upper Creek towns, his orthography not being adopted: Hoithlewahlee, Fooshatchee, Kolumee, Ekanhatkee, Sawanogee, Muklasa, Ochee-apofa, Oakchoyuchee, Pochus-hatchee, Pakan-talahassee, Wakokayee, Wewaka. These towns "made themselves red." So Gatschet translates itchatidshalgi. The Alibamo towns, which are counted among the Upper Creeks, have already been named as hostile.
The Lower Creeks, under the influence more largely of Colonel Hawkins, were, for the most part, friendly. Noted among these friendly Indians were General William McIntosh, a Creek chief of the tribe of the Cowetas, Mad Dragon's Son, and Timpony Barnard of the Uchees.
In the narration of events we left Weatherford with the war party on the east of the Alabama, surely, according to the letter of General Wilkinson, in July or August of 1813. And some of that party very soon proceeded to Pensacola, then the great mart of trade, to procure military supplies. On their return occurred the attack and defense known as the Battle of Burnt Corn, which will be detailed in another chapter
NOTE.--It seems fitting to append here some extracts, if lengthy, yet interesting and valuable, from the memoranda of Mr. George S. Gaines, originally published in the Alabama Historical Reporter. With some members of the Gaines family I have been personally acquainted, and these memoranda I am sure are reliable. T. H. B.
EXTRACTS FROM MEMORANDA OF GEO. S. GAINES.
"A Creek chief, known as O-ce-o-chee-mot-la, obtained permission of the Choctaws to make a settlement at the falls of the Black Warrior, so that the hunters of each tribe might have a resting place when visiting each other. This settlement had increased to many families before I took charge of the U. S. Choctaw trading house at St. Stephens (1805), and they traded with us. I was in the habit of extending a credit to the old chief of about a hundred dollars, which he always paid off at his next visit, but expected the same indulgence after he had finished bartering. During the spring and fall of every year he came down the river with a fleet of canoes to visit me. In the fall of 1811 he arrived with a large fleet manned by thirty or forty warriors, and having each canoe freighted with larger cargoes than usual of skins and furs, etc. At that time Tandy Walker, who had lived many years in the Creek nation as a "public blacksmith," sent by the government for the benefit of the Indians, resided in the neighborhood of St. Stephens. He learned their language and was a great favorite, and when O-ce-o-chee-mot-la came down to trade with me he acted as interpreter.
On the present occasion I noticed that the old chief was exceedingly anxious to make me believe that he was very much attached to me. He informed me that he had acted upon my advice in relation to building a good store house, and now brought with him several hundred dollars' worth of peltries, etc., to purchase a supply of goods for his store--that I had offered him credit several times before to the amount of several hundred dollars.
Next day, after this conversation, the Chief remarked he would make his debt an "old hundred"(one thousand) this time. I replied that the times were changed. The British government had a misunderstanding with the President which might end in a war, and it would be unwise in me to allow him to contract so large a debt and imprudent in him to do so. He remarked that his friend, Tandy Walker, who was a man of property, would be his security for one or two "old hundreds " While this conversation was progressing I noticed Walker was greatly troubled, and was endeavoring to appear calm. I reiterated I could only let him have the usual amount of credit under the existing circumstances. But the crafty Chief was not to be put off so readily, and entered into an ingenious argument to overcome my objections.
The sun went down and I told the chief that it was time to prepare for sleep, and we would "tell each other our dreams in the morning." Bidding me good night with assurances of affection and respect, he led his party off. In a few minutes Walker returned and leaning over the counter he whispered to me, "I told the chief I left my knife in the store so that I might come and speak to you privately. Meet me at the Rock at midnight. Let no one know of this, for our lives depend upon secrecy." Before I could answer he was gone. At midnight I went cautiously to the "Hanging Rook," so called because it projected over the bluff of the river, near the old Spanish Fort. Walker was there, and he whispered, "let us go further in the thicket." He then informed me, still in a whisper, that the Creeks had determined to join the British in the war about to commence. The Chief of the Black Warrior settlement proposed to unite with him in obtaining all the goods they could probably get from me; and that Walker should take his family up to the Falls of the Warrior and enjoy half the profits of the business. "Before the time to pay for the goods there will be no one to demand it, for the trading house will be the first object to capture when the war begins," the chief had told him many times proposing the scheme. He consented, fearing that if he did not the Indians would immediately attack the place, but took care to impress O-oe-o-chee-mot-la with the danger of offending me, as my brother was a war chief much loved by the President.
Walker remained with me only a few minutes, fearing his absence would be discovered by the Indians and that they might suspect the object of his mission, which would certainly, he assured me, result in the destruction of us all. The balance of that night was passed without sleep because of the uneasiness I felt. There were no troops in St. Stephens and but few men--not more than six or seven all told.
Next morning the chief and his warriors came to the store apparently in excellent spirits. He inquired what I had dreamed. I replied, "I dreamed there was a war. The English came over in their ships and engaged some of the northern tribes to assist them to fight, but the President's warriors soon drove the English back over the great waters, leaving the Indians who helped them to suffer alone." O-ceo-chee-mot-la said, "I dreamed that my good friend sold me all I wanted, and when I reached home my people said, Mr. Gaines is a great man--he is a man of his word and our Chief, who has always told us this and how Mr. Gaines trusted him, is a man of but one talk!" I said to him, I was obliged to believe my dream, and it was useless to waste words in idle talk. After bartering his cargoes and obtaining his usual credit he departed with his fleet, and I never saw him again.
Rumors of the rapidly increasing bad feeling of the Creek Indians rendered the settlers on the Alabama and Tombigbee rivers very uneasy during the year of 1812, checking emigration to a great extent. In the fall of this year Tandy Walker called on me to inform me that he had just learned from a Creek Indian that a white woman had been brought from Tennessee as a prisoner to Tuscaloosa by a party of Indians returning from a visit to the Shawnees on the northern lakes. Mrs. Gaines, who was present, said to Walker that he ought by all means to endeavor to rescue the woman and bring her down to the white settlement. Walker replied he would try to effect her release, but it would be at the risk of his life. He proposed to walk up to the falls on pretense of paying a visit to his old friend O-ce-o-chee-mot-la and lull suspicion by declaring his adherence to the cause of the hostile Indians. He would then obtain a canoe, buy or steal the woman and bring her down the river. He departed immediately, returning in about two weeks with the woman in a canoe. She was in a very feeble condition, her mind a good deal impaired by suffering, and her limbs and feet were still wounded, caused by the hardships she was forced to undergo after she had been captured. Mrs. Gaines took charge of her and after a week's tender nursing her mind appeared to be restored.
Her name was Crawley. Her home was in a new settlement near the mouth of the Tennessee river. During the absence of her husband, a party of Creek Indians rushed to her house and while they stopped to murder two of her children who were playing in the yard she concealed her two youngest in a potato cellar under the floor. The Indians broke open the door and dragged her out with the intention of killing her, but concluded to take her to their town. They compelled her to cook for them on the march, but offered no other violence.
After her recovery, we sent Mrs. Crawley home with a party of my friends who were going through the wilderness to Tennessee * * * The Legislature of Tennessee voted thanks and an amount of money to Tandy Walker for his agency in this affair.
I promptly communicated to the War Department the conduct of the chief O-ce-o-chee-mot-la on his last visit to the Trading House; also Mrs. Crawley's capture and rescue.
to Chapter 6
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