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The Creek War of 1813 and 1814|
Chapter 4: Tecumseh Among the Creeks
by Halbert, H. S. and Ball, T. H.
|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 žin 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."* [* See Brice's History of Fort Wayne page 176. I place large confidence in local histories.--T. H. B.] "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.")
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.* [* 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.] 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."
That Tecumseh was in Indiana Territory in July, 1811, is certain. That he left Vincennes in August is beyond question.* [* See Dillon's Indiana, also History of Indiana by Goodrich and Tuttle.]That either in August or early in September of 1811 be was among the Chickasaws is also very certain.
For confirmation of these statements see the following extracts from American State Papers, copied April 26, 1894:
[FROM INDIAN AFFAIRS. ]
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.
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]
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,* [* See Weatherford a letter in the notes to Chapter IX.] 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."
"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.* [* Different writers give different orthography for the same names.] 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* [* All Indian towns had public squares. Villages had no squares.] 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.
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:
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.
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.
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* [*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.] 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 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.* [* 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.] 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.
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.
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.
"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."'
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.
In a letter from William Wells of Fort Wayne, dated March 1, 1812, to the Secretary of War, Br. Eustis, he writes:
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 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."
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 letter of the Rev. Mr. Ball is returned herewith. Very respectfully
T. J. MORGAN, Commissioner.
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."
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:
"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 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.